Daisy Miller HTML version

Part I
At the little town of Vevey, in Switzerland, there is a particularly comfortable hotel. There
are, indeed, many hotels, for the entertainment of tourists is the business of the place,
which, as many travelers will remember, is seated upon the edge of a remarkably blue
lake--a lake that it behooves every tourist to visit. The shore of the lake presents an
unbroken array of establishments of this order, of every category, from the "grand hotel"
of the newest fashion, with a chalk-white front, a hundred balconies, and a dozen flags
flying from its roof, to the little Swiss pension of an elder day, with its name inscribed in
German-looking lettering upon a pink or yellow wall and an awkward summerhouse in
the angle of the garden. One of the hotels at Vevey, however, is famous, even classical,
being distinguished from many of its upstart neighbors by an air both of luxury and of
maturity. In this region, in the month of June, American travelers are extremely
numerous; it may be said, indeed, that Vevey assumes at this period some of the
characteristics of an American watering place. There are sights and sounds which
evoke a vision, an echo, of Newport and Saratoga. There is a flitting hither and thither of
"stylish" young girls, a rustling of muslin flounces, a rattle of dance music in the morning
hours, a sound of high-pitched voices at all times. You receive an impression of these
things at the excellent inn of the "Trois Couronnes" and are transported in fancy to the
Ocean House or to Congress Hall. But at the "Trois Couronnes," it must be added, there
are other features that are much at variance with these suggestions: neat German
waiters, who look like secretaries of legation; Russian princesses sitting in the garden;
little Polish boys walking about held by the hand, with their governors; a view of the
sunny crest of the Dent du Midi and the picturesque towers of the Castle of Chillon.
I hardly know whether it was the analogies or the differences that were uppermost in the
mind of a young American, who, two or three years ago, sat in the garden of the "Trois
Couronnes," looking about him, rather idly, at some of the graceful objects I have
mentioned. It was a beautiful summer morning, and in whatever fashion the young
American looked at things, they must have seemed to him charming. He had come from
Geneva the day before by the little steamer, to see his aunt, who was staying at the
hotel--Geneva having been for a long time his place of residence. But his aunt had a
headache-- his aunt had almost always a headache--and now she was shut up in her
room, smelling camphor, so that he was at liberty to wander about. He was some
seven-and-twenty years of age; when his friends spoke of him, they usually said that he
was at Geneva "studying." When his enemies spoke of him, they said--but, after all, he
had no enemies; he was an extremely amiable fellow, and universally liked. What I
should say is, simply, that when certain persons spoke of him they affirmed that the
reason of his spending so much time at Geneva was that he was extremely devoted to
a lady who lived there--a foreign lady--a person older than himself. Very few Americans-
-indeed, I think none--had ever seen this lady, about whom there were some singular
stories. But Winterbourne had an old attachment for the little metropolis of Calvinism; he
had been put to school there as a boy, and he had afterward gone to college there--
circumstances which had led to his forming a great many youthful friendships. Many of
these he had kept, and they were a source of great satisfaction to him.