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“You won’t let me,” said Sophonisba, whose name I had not before heard. Her papa had called her Sophy in the yard of the inn. Sophonisba Greene! Sophonisba Robinson did not sound so badly in my ears, and I confess that I had tried the names together. Her papa had mentioned to me that he had no other child, and had mentioned also that he had made his fortune.

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And then there was a little family contest as to the amount of travelling labour which fell to the lot of each of the party, during which I retired to one of the windows of the big front room in which we were sitting. And how much of this labour there is incidental to a tourist’s pursuits! And how often these little contests do arise upon a journey! Who has ever travelled and not known them? I had taken up such a position at the window as might, I thought, have removed me out of hearing; but nevertheless from time to time a word would catch my ear about that precious box. “I have never taken my eyes off it since I left England,” said Mrs. Greene, speaking quick, and with a considerable brogue superinduced by her energy. “Where would it have been at Basle if I had not been looking after it?” “Quite safe,” said Sophonisba; “those large things always are safe.” “Are they, Miss? That’s all you know about it. I suppose your bonnet-box was quite safe when I found it on the platform at—at—I forget the name of the place?”

“Freidrichshafen,” said Sophonisba, with almost an unnecessary amount of Teutonic skill in her pronunciation. “Well, mamma, you have told me of that at least twenty times.” Soon after that, the ladies took them to their own rooms, weary with the travelling of two days and a night, and Mr. Greene went fast asleep in the very comfortless chair in which he was seated.

At four o’clock on the next morning we started on our journey.

“Early to bed, and early to rise,

Is the way to be healthy, and wealthy, and wise.”

We all know that lesson, and many of us believe in it; but if the lesson be true, the Italians ought to be the healthiest and wealthiest and wisest of all men and women. Three or four o’clock seems to them quite a natural hour for commencing the day’s work. Why we should have started from Chiavenna at four o’clock in order that we might be kept waiting for the boat an hour and a half on the little quay at Colico, I don’t know; but such was our destiny. There we remained an hour and a half; Mrs. Greene sitting pertinaciously on the one important box. She had designated it as being smaller than the others, and, as all the seven were now ranged in a row, I had an opportunity of comparing them. It was something smaller,—perhaps an inch less high, and an inch and a half shorter. She was a sharp woman, and observed my scrutiny. “I always know it,” she said in a loud whisper, “by this little hole in the canvas,” and she put her finger on a slight rent on one of the ends. “As for Greene, if one of those Italian brigands were to walk off with it on his shoulders, before his eyes, he wouldn’t be the wiser. How helpless you men are, Mr. Robinson!”

“It is well for us that we have women to look after us.”

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“But you have got no one to look after you;—or perhaps you have left her behind?”

“No, indeed. I’m all alone in the world as yet. But it’s not my own fault. I have asked half a dozen.”

“Now, Mr. Robinson!” And in this way the time passed on the quay at Colico, till the boat came and took us away. I should have preferred to pass my time in making myself agreeable to the younger lady; but the younger lady stood aloof, turning up her nose, as I thought, at her mamma.

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I will not attempt to describe the scenery about Colico. The little town itself is one of the vilest places under the sun, having no accommodation for travellers, and being excessively unhealthy; but there is very little either north or south of the Alps,—and, perhaps, I may add, very little elsewhere,—to beat the beauty of the mountains which cluster round the head of the lake. When we had sat upon those boxes that hour and a half, we were taken on board the steamer, which had been lying off a little way from the shore, and then we commenced our journey. Of course there was a good deal of exertion and care necessary in getting the packages off from the shore on to the boat, and I observed that any one with half an eye in his head might have seen that the mental anxiety expended on that one box which was marked by the small hole in the canvas far exceeded that which was extended to all the other six boxes. “They deserve that it should be stolen,” I said to myself, “for being such fools.” And then we went down to breakfast in the cabin.

“I suppose it must be safe,” said Mrs. Greene to me, ignoring the fact that the cabin waiter understood English, although she had just ordered some veal cutlets in that language.

“As safe as a church,” I replied, not wishing to give much apparent importance to the subject.

“They can’t carry it off here,” said Mr. Greene. But he was innocent of any attempt at a joke, and was looking at me with all his eyes.