The Signora had no business to do it," said Miss Bartlett, "no
business at all. She promised us south rooms with a view close
together, instead of which here are north rooms, looking into a
courtyard, and a long way apart. Oh, Lucy!"
"And a Cockney, besides!" said Lucy, who had been further
saddened by the Signora's unexpected accent. "It might be
London." She looked at the two rows of English people who were
sitting at the table; at the row of white bottles of water and
red bottles of wine that ran between the English people; at the
portraits of the late Queen and the late Poet Laureate that hung
behind the English people, heavily framed; at the notice of the
English church (Rev. Cuthbert Eager, M. A. Oxon.), that was the
only other decoration of the wall. "Charlotte, don't you feel,
too, that we might be in London? I can hardly believe that all
kinds of other things are just outside. I suppose it is one's
being so tired."
"This meat has surely been used for soup," said Miss Bartlett,
laying down her fork.
"I want so to see the Arno. The rooms the Signora promised us in
her letter would have looked over the Arno. The Signora had no
business to do it at all. Oh, it is a shame!"
"Any nook does for me," Miss Bartlett continued; "but it does
seem hard that you shouldn't have a view."
Lucy felt that she had been selfish. "Charlotte, you mustn't
spoil me: of course, you must look over the Arno, too. I meant
that. The first vacant room in the front--"
------"You must have it," said Miss Bartlett, part of whose
travelling expenses were paid by Lucy's mother--a piece of
generosity to which she made many a tactful allusion.
"No, no. You must have it."
"I insist on it. Your mother would never forgive me, Lucy."
"She would never forgive me."
The ladies' voices grew animated, and--if the sad truth be
owned--a little peevish. They were tired, and under the guise of
unselfishness they wrangled. Some of their neighbours
interchanged glances, and one of them--one of the ill-bred people
whom one does meet abroad--leant forward over the table and
actually intruded into their argument. He said: