BACK AT GENOA
There is an old saying, probably as old as Genoa's first loot of her step-sister republic, "If you want to see Pisa, you must go to Genoa," which may have obscurely governed us in our purpose of stopping there on our way up out of Italy. We could not have too much of Pisa, as apparently the Genoese could not; but before our journey ended I decided that they would have thought twice before plundering Pisa if they had been forced to make their forays by means of the present railroad connection between the two cities. At least there would have been but one of the many wars of murder and rapine between the republics, and that would have been the first. After a single experience of the eighty tunnels on that line, with the perpetually recurring necessity of putting down and putting up the car-window, no army would have repeated the invasion; and, though we might now be without that satirical old saying, mankind would, on the whole, have been the gainer. As it was, the enemies could luxuriously go and come in their galleys and enjoy the fresh sea-breezes both ways, instead of stifling in the dark and gasping for breath as they came into the light, while their train ran in and out under the serried peaks that form the Mediterranean shore. I myself wished to take a galley from Leghorn, or even a small steamer, but I was overruled by less hardy but more obdurate spirits, and so we took the Florentine express at Pisa, where we changed cars.
The Italian government had providently arranged that the car we changed into should be standing beyond the station in the dash of an unexpected shower, and that it should be provided with steps so high and steep, with Italian ladies standing all over them and sticking their umbrellas into the faces of American citizens trying to get in after them, that it was a feat of something like mountain-climbing to reach the corridor, and then of daring-do to secure a compartment. Though a collectivist, with a firm belief in the government ownership of railroads everywhere, I might have been tempted at times in Italy to abjure my creed if I had not always reflected that the state there had just come into possession of the roads, with all their capitalistic faults of management and outwear of equipment which it would doubtless soon reform and repair. I venture to suggest now, however, that its prime duty is to have platforms level with the car-doors, as they are in England, and not to let Italian ladies stand in the doorways with their umbrellas. I do not insist that it shall impose silence and sobriety upon a party of young French people in the next compartment, but I do think it should remove those mountains back from the sea so that the trains carrying cultivated Americans can run along the open shore the whole way to Genoa. Pending this, it should provide strong and watchful employees to lower and raise the windows at the mouth of each of the eighty tunnels in every car. I do not demand that it shall change the site of the station in Genoa so that it shall not always be the city's whole length away from the hotel you have chosen, but I think this would be a desirable improvement, especially if it is after dark when you arrive and raining a peculiarly cold, disagreeable rain.
That rain was very disappointing; for, in the intervals between tunnels, we had fancied, from the few brief glimpses we caught of the landscape, that the April so backward elsewhere in Italy was forwarder in the blossomed trees along the eastern Riviera; and we learned at our hotel that the steam-heat had just been taken off because the day had been so hot and dry, though the evening was now so cold and wet. It was fitfully put on and off during the chilly week that ensued, though in our fifth-story garden, to which we sometimes resorted, there was a mildness in the air that was absent in-doors. The hotel itself was disappointing; any hotel would be after our hotel in Leghorn; and, though there was the good-will of former days, there was not the former effect. The corridors crashed and clattered all day long and well into the night with the gayety of some cheap incursion of German tourists, who seemed, indeed, to fill the whole city with their clamor. They were given a long table to themselves, and when they were set at it and began to ply their knives and tongues the din was deafening. That would not have been so bad if they had not been so plain, or if, when they happened, in a young girl or two, to be pretty, they had not guttled and guzzled so like the plainest of their number. One such pretty girl was really beautiful, with a bloom perhaps already too rich, which, as she abandoned herself to her meat and drink, reddened downward over her lily neck and upward to her golden hair, past the brows under which her blue, blue eyes protruded painfully, all in a frightful prophecy of what she would be when the bud of her spring should be the full-blown cabbage-rose of her summer.