Under the Golden Rose

— Every one has felt at some moment that Shakespeare was not quite right when he said that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and I am sure of sympathizers when I confess that we were attracted to the old inn by its shining title. It was a many-leaved, mammoth brass blossom, projecting far over the quaint Tyrolese street, glinting gayly in the sunshine and gently creaking when the wind blew, which lent its name to the friendly hostelry, and its perfume of Provencal song and romance overcame in our minds the attractions of the Post and the Eagle, though I own that I did sometimes feel drawn to the Moonshine which flaunted its suggestive crescent across the way. Such disloyal leanings, however, were always promptly smothered by succulent appreciation of the wonderful puddings concocted by our blue-eyed hostess. In Moonshine should we not be expected to fare sumptuously on dew and clover honey ?

I think I must not tell the name of my Tyrolean village, and so reveal it to the irreverent transient tourist. If you, lover of leisure and the picturesque, wish to discover it, seek it by these signs which I confide to you alone. Set in broad green meadows which were once a goblin-haunted swamp, at the foot of snow-topped mountains, you will find a long, tortuous street spanned by a tall clock-tower with a delicate lancet window, standing astride the way like a one-eyed giant keeping guard. Every house is roughly stuccoed a different color, pale green, cream, lavender, or clove, and finished off in its own wise at the top. Some are machieolated, some rise to tall Gothic points, others are scalloped in the most varied manner, and all are generously supplied with small, red-capped bay windows filled with scarlet geraniums and distributed in irregular fashion over the house fronts. These gay, picture-hook dwellings are like raw recruits in the matter of keeping line, — some jut out, and some stand back ; but the commanding captain seems to be the delightful old marble Rathhaus with its great protruding corner of bow windows which rise one above the other in a sort of tower, and make a background to the stone fountain and mitred bishop. Pass through the pointed arch, climb the stairs, and you will find the interior no less interesting. The paneled bow window, with its lozenge panes, ancient settles, and comfortable round table, clamors in your mind for six ruddy, burly, green-waisteoated old burghers gloriously draining their foaming tankards. Around the walls hang queer sacred pictures of the fifteenth century, and from the centre of the ceiling is suspended the pride of the town’s heart, the chandelier for which the proverbial Englishman vainly offered thirty thousand gulden. It is a woman’s head and bust of carved wood developing mermaid-wise into the long curved horns of a chamois.

Cæsar’s dictum, “ Better be first in a small Iberian village than second in Rome,” often occurred to me as we three American girls wandered bare-headed up and down the quaint street to rummage the garrets for antiquities, or filled the small pastry-cook shop with jollity while we wavered between the attractions of hazelnut and cream cakes. The flirtatious young draper who came in the evening to play the zither in the Gaststube of the Golden Rose seemed to fall into an ecstasy of bowing delight when we crossed his threshold for a hit of tape or six shoe-buttons, and liis rival, a little farther up under the arcade, threw the deep devotion of an ancient liegeman into his solemn “ Empfehle mich.” When one of the trio stopped in a tiny shop to purchase a Tyrolese pipe for somebody’s brother across the sea, the saleswoman prolonged the transaction as much as possible to extract detailed information about the party, and I suspect that, in spite of her scant stock and the lilliputian dimensions of her domain, the price of the pipe was at that moment of very secondary importance.

In truth, my little town, though accustomed to transient German and Austrian pedestrians, was not hardened to the excitement of an American quartette settling for a month in the midst of it. The tall, stately guardian of Castle Sprechenstein pronounced the girls “ drei schöne Mädel,” and other vague, insinuating bits of flattery floated to the American ears. The kitchen Vehmgericht at the Golden Rose declared the delicate, scholarly face of the party’s head “ most beautiful and fatherly ; ” and when the trio sallied forth in all the bravery of their girlish finery to drink coffee with the doctor’s daughter from Meran, every window held an admiring pair of eyes, and the culinary corps suddenly and simultaneously needed water at the roadside fountain. Each morning our bedroom bouquets of carnations and passion flowers were renewed by the faithful Anna, and offerings of delicately arranged wild flowers came, as dainty tribute, from other well-wishers. As an offset to this æsthetic side of life, the family digestion, on Saturdays and Mondays, went through a stern German ordeal of pork, cabbage, dumplings, and noodles which made existence a dim, doubtful joy, only illuminated by the pudding moment, when every countenance lighted as the two Tonys came proudly in bearing the generous results of Frau Obexer’s skill.

The way the table was waited on never ceased to be a source of amused impatience. Not a scrap was served until tlie very last straggler of tlie twenty boarders established himself at the table ; then the Tonys went around collecting information as to the varieties of dark beer, Pilseuer, and red or white wine wanted. In removing the courses, Tony No. 1 took off the plates, and Tony No. 2 followed for the knives ; Tony No. 1 gave each person a clean saucer, and Tony No. 2 came on behind with a spoon. It never seemed to occur to any of the Teutonic minds that this order might be accelerated or simplified.

Our table’s claims paled before those of the adjoining room, where athletic young members oE the Alpine Club were entertained ; and we never wearied of seeing Tony No. 1 sit down by a tall fellow’s side, with her arm confidingly laid on the back of his chair, to make out his bill. Is it treason, under the rose, to tell how Tony No 2, a veritable Tyrolese beauty, was discovered one day contentedly sitting on the knee of an old gentleman who was taking his beer in the garden ?

All day long, rain or shine, our Germans tramped, but after supper everybody sat around the long table and waxed sociable. The young dentist from Munich contrived animals and acrobatic skeletons out of bread crumbs and toothpicks, which were admiringly passed from hand to hand ; Joachim’s pupil from Berlin made her violin say strange, wonderfnl things ; and everybody drank beer. Sometimes the whole tableful would swing out into a rhythmic German song to the sound of the violin, and then again there would be a juvenile stampede to the Gaststube and the tinkling zither. Here, under tlie unfailing black crucifix of the Tyrol, the village beaux played billiards and drank their beer, and in a few seconds the room would be full of mazy motion, softly blurred by the blue smoke of many pipes. I never expect to see anything more graceful than the two Tonys gliding smoothly through a waltz together, but the favorite sight was that of the two pretty American sisters ; and a boyish young fellow in a crisp pink shirt stumbled against public opinion when he blurted out that, according to his Leipsic code, only peasants reversed and danced so slowly. From time to time traveling musicians discoursed throughout the evening really exquisite music to an appreciative audience.

Space fails me to tell of all that filled that Tyrolese July : of the dark, windy night when a reiterated horn-blast resounded through the street and narrow alleys to summon help for a burning farm far up the valley, and the girls dashed away to the spot through the shadows and dusty whirlwinds ; of the expeditions to Reifenstein Castle, with its Gothic furniture and its frescoed room of that weird green color like the rust on old coins, suggesting by its dim, eerie atmosphere the mysterious workshop of some terrible magician ; of the picnic in the pine woods beneath the glistening glaciers ; in short, of what made this Tyrolese nook dear to the quartette.

The last night came ; Suzel wept, and her cheerful aunt melted to tears. Edith was handed a smooth white rock on which she was requested to write her name, to consecrate it as a paper-weight to be kept for life in memory of the beloved Americans ; another admirer presented Louise with pressed Alpine flowers, and a Tyrolese picture dedicated by a note in which the donor called herself a “ humble mountain blossom,” and the recipient “ the magnificent flower of America.” Anna, the chambermaid, proudly produced three large bouquets framed by broad lace paper collars (which the girls carried seven miles to spare her feelings), and the dining-room was a chorus of “ Happy journeys,” “Auf wiederseliens,” and ejaculated wishes that it might rain on the morrow and prevent the departure of the pedestrians. It did rain, and the chagrined party had to meekly come down to eat breakfast, dinner, and supper again with their vociferously rejoicing friends. The second edition of the leave-taking, perhaps a shade less mournful, took place that evening to the sound of steady rainfall, and to our astonishment the next morning dawned brightly, luminously clear, with tidy white sheets of gleaming snow drawn neatly over every mountain top. Most people were still asleep, but we were again embraced and wept over by Suzel and the aunt. We shook hands with Herr Obexer and the pudding-maker, with Anna and the two Tonys. Our collared bouquets held proudly aloft, we marched away up the bright little street, and until we turned the curve we could descry Suzel and the aunt apparently waving themselves out of their bow window, and blond Herr Obexer bowing double in the arched doorway just under the Golden Rose.