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VII. Alpenrosen and Goat's-Milk Henry van Dyke

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The officer saluted us so politely that we felt quite sorry that his duty required him to disturb our luggage. "The law obliged him to open one trunk; courtesy forbade him to open more." It was quickly done; and, without having to make any contribution to the income of His Royal and Imperial Majesty, Francis Joseph, we rolled on our way, through the hamlets of Acqua Bona and Zuel, into the Ampezzan metropolis of Cortina, at sundown.

The modest inn called "The Star of Gold" stood facing the public square, just below the church, and the landlady stood facing us in the doorway, with an enthusiastic welcome--altogether a most friendly and entertaining landlady, whose one desire in life seemed to be that we should never regret having chosen her house instead of "The White Cross," or "The Black Eagle."

"O ja!" she had our telegram received; and would we look at the rooms? Outlooking on the piazza, with a balcony from which we could observe the Festa of to-morrow. She hoped they would please us. "Only come in; accommodate yourselves."

It was all as she promised; three little bedrooms, and a little salon opening on a little balcony; queer old oil-paintings and framed embroideries and tiles hanging on the walls; spotless curtains, and board floors so white that it would have been a shame to eat off them without spreading a cloth to keep them from being soiled.

"These are the rooms of the Baron Rothschild when he comes here always in the summer--with nine horses and nine servants--the Baron Rothschild of Vienna."

I assured her that we did not know the Baron, but that should make no difference. We would not ask her to reduce the price on account of a little thing like that.

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She did not quite grasp this idea, but hoped that we would not find the pension too dear at a dollar and fifty-seven and a half cents a day each, with a little extra for the salon and the balcony. "The English people all please themselves here--there comes many every summer--English Bishops and their families."

I inquired whether there were many Bishops in the house at that moment.

"No, just at present--she was very sorry--none."

"Well, then," I said, "it is all right. We will take the rooms."

Good Signora Barbaria, you did not speak the American language, nor understand those curious perversions of thought which pass among the Americans for humour; but you understood how to make a little inn cheerful and home-like; yours was a very simple and agreeable art of keeping a hotel. As we sat in the balcony after supper, listening to the capital playing of the village orchestra, and the Tyrolese songs with which they varied their music, we thought within ourselves that we were fortunate to have fallen upon the Star of Gold.

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Little Rivers
Henry van Dyke

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