August 16, 1882.
DEAR MARY, — Did you ever come to Chioggia? If you ever did, you are not likely to have forgotten it, for it is the queerest, dearest little place in the world. Perhaps some time when you have been at Venice, you have taken the steamboat early in the morning, and run down here and spent the day, which is what Mr. McVickar and I have done today. We left James just dressed and ready for his breakfast, meaning to have a beautiful day in Venice ; he preferred that to Chioggia, and we shall meet again tonight when we get back to dinner. You have no idea how well he is, and how he wanders around in gondolas like a Doge, and how good it has been to have him here all these weeks. But about Chioggia.
It is an old, old island, two hours from Venice, where the people fish for a living, and hardly anybody who once gets born on the island ever goes away. The harbor now is full of fishing-boats, with sails of red, blue, and green, with pious pictures all over them, and picturesque fishermen dropping queer nets over the sides. The old piazza in front of the tavern where we have been eating our collazione is full of men unsnarling their nets and spreading them out to dry. Picturesque children are begging around the door; and a little brown rascal, with nothing on but a pair of bathing trousers, is standing on his head for a cent. The garçon has just got mad and thrown one of the café chairs into the midst of them and scattered the clamorous multitude, who are laughing at him from a safe distance.
Up the street there is a jolly old church, and two funny little old lions are carved on the bridge, which crosses the canal just opposite. It is as pretty as a picture,— prettier than most. I hope you saw it the last time you were in Venice. If not, you must be sure to come here next time. The only trouble is that you have to stay six hours, when three is quite enough ; but this gives me the chance for which I have been looking, to thank you for your letter, which was very good indeed to get. It came from Mt. Desert, which is not altogether just like Venice, but is something made out of land and water, at any rate.
I like to think of you all at Andover, where I am sure you have had a good, happy summer. I hope when you get back to dear old Boston, you will be , good enough to miss me dreadfully. I expect to be full of miserableness when you get this, week after next, which will be the time when our pleasant summer party is breaking up and I shall be beginning my solitary winter. Think of me then, and how good it always used to be to get back in the autumn and start the winter life again. I wonder if those times will ever come back again just so. God knows !
Let me hear often. Most affectionately, P.