At Naples Irma saw that if she attempted to record half that interested her, no diary would be large enough, and if she tried to describe things at length, there would be time for little else. So she made rather brief notes, which, when she reached home would recall what she had seen, so that she could then describe at greater length to the family.
A more experienced traveller might have been less interested in the Royal Palace, but, since it was her first palace, Irma found in it an air of romance that Uncle Jim was inclined to scoff at. It was a long, imposing building, with eight statues on the façade, representing the different dynasties that had governed Naples: Roger the Norman, Frederic II of Hohenstaufen, Charles I of Anjou, Alphonse I, Charles V, Charles III of Bourbon, Joachim Murat, and Victor Emanuel.
“Poor Neapolitans!” exclaimed Uncle Jim. “No wonder they are restless, so often changing rulers, and until now seldom having kings who cared a farthing for them. Even before these Normans there were Greeks, Oscans, Romans, Goths, and Byzantines, all to take their turn here in Southern Italy. Neapolitans are naturally turbulent and troublesome in America. It will take them some time to learn to govern themselves.”
“We are not out to listen to history lectures. We simply wish to see things,” said Aunt Caroline.
“But this palace is in such bad taste. I am trying to divert your minds from its hideous furnishings.”
Though in her secret heart Irma admired the throne room, with its gold embroidered, crimson velvet furniture, enormous Sèvres and Dresden vases, and its more artistic bronze busts, later, perhaps, what she remembered best of this visit was the magnificent terrace view of the harbor and the Arsenal.
“Do the Neapolitans get their love of noise from all those ancestors you were talking about, Uncle Jim?” she asked, as they drove along the broad Toledo, where the crack of whips, the braying of donkeys, and the shouts of hawkers prevented conversation. Uncle Jim raised his hand deprecatingly, as if an adequate reply were then impossible.
“There,” cried Aunt Caroline. “I understand why the people of Naples use gestures so largely.
You know they can carry on long conversations without a word. By use of their hands they can make themselves understood above the din of the streets.”
“A good theory, if gesture were not as common in the country districts as in Naples.”
Here Marion interrupted. “We might stop at the Catacombs to-day, if you wish.”
“I don’t wish,” cried Irma decidedly.
Marion looked at her with surprise.
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