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Autobiography of Alice A. Bailey - Chapter VI
One thing I did find was that the girls were quite able to hold their own in any set or situation though they were only the product of the public schools of America. Given ability, a home where interesting things are valued and where human values are emphasized I know no better training-ground for the youth of the world than a public school education along the lines of the United States.

In the spring of 1931 we made our plans to accept Olga Fröbe's suggestion and go to her house on the Italian lakes for a few months. You can imagine the excitement of the planning, the buying of suitcases, the arranging of clothes and the speculations on the part of the girls about everything. They had never been anywhere in their lives outside of the United States, with the exception of my eldest girl, Dorothy, who had been in Hawaii. Alice Ortiz stepped in with her usual generosity and saw that we all had the right clothes, besides paying all travelling expenses.

We chose one of the smaller boats which went direct from New York to Antwerp, Belgium, and I will admit that I found life on board with three girls full of life and energy slightly exhausting. Keeping track of them was no joke. Rounding them up every evening at bedtime was also no joke. It is no fun for a girl when she is dancing most happily with some officer to see a parent standing on the sidelines and to know quite well it was bedtime. They were exceedingly good but exceedingly excited. They knew everyone on board, who they were, where they came from and what their names were, and they were most popular. [221]

Only a few years ago I came across a big bundle of material which when I unrolled it proved to be three fancy ball dresses I had made for the girls on board the boat. The idea was most unoriginal, for the dresses were the stars and stripes, dark blue skirts striped with white and white bodices trimmed with red five-pointed stars. I refused to put forty-eight stars on each bodice as it imposed too much sewing but the general effect was most patriotic and gay.

I shall never forget the day when we wound our way up the Scheldt river and docked at Antwerp. The girls, of course, had never seen a foreign city. Everything looked new and strange to them, from the fiacre in which we went to the hotel to the duvets on all beds. We went to the Hotel Des Flandes and had a good time the few days we were in Antwerp. The checked tablecloths in the Van Viordinaire, the foreign cooking and the cafe au lait, all were most exciting to them and full of memories to me.

A friend had crossed with us in order to be with us at Ascona but was leaving us after a few days in Antwerp as she wanted to go down the Rhine with her daughter. She had a very different conception as to how to enjoy a foreign land to that which Foster and I had. Down she would come in the morning with a daughter on one arm and a Baedeker on the other. "Alice," she would say to me, "what are you going to see this morning? There is a statue with three stars to it in the guide book, there are the Reubens to be seen in the cathedral and all kinds of other things. Which do you plan to do first?" To her great astonishment I would tell her that we were not going to do anything like that as we were not interested in statues of long dead military men or to visit every church that could be visited.

I told her that my main idea was that the girls should imbibe some of the atmosphere of the country they were in and see some of the people and watch how they live and what [222] they do at different hours of the day. So we were going to stroll about and sit in little cafes under the awnings and drink coffee and just sit and watch the people and listen and talk. So that is what we did whilst she went off in different directions. I never took the girls to see galleries to gaze at statues, talk about churches or do the everyday things which the average tourist does. We drifted about the streets. We looked into gardens. We would take a walk to the suburbs. At the end of a few days the girls had absorbed an enormous amount of knowledge of the town and its surroundings, its occupants and its history. We never bought souvenirs, but we took photographs, bought picture postcards and found out that foreign people were very like ourselves.

From Antwerp we went to Locarno, Switzerland, which was as far as we could go by train and there Olga met us and took us to her lovely villa where we stayed for a number of weeks. This train trip was a marvelous thing to the girls but an exhausting journey for me. We went on the "Blue train" through the Simplon and across the Cento valley.

It is quite hopeless to attempt to describe the beauty of the Italian lakes. To my mind Lake Maggiore on the shores of which Olga's villa is found, is one of the most beautiful and it is one of the largest in Italy. Part of the lake is in Swiss territory in the canton of Ticino but most of it is in Italy. The lake is so blue, the little villages are so picturesque, perched as they are on the sides of the hills reaching down into the water. I know nothing more beautiful to look at than the view from Ronco looking up and down the lake. It is useless for me to write about it for I have not got the words, but the beauty of it none of us will ever forget. Such are the things one pictures to oneself in moments of fatigue and disillusionment, and yet behind all this beauty were corruption and very ancient evil. [223]

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