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Title: Barbara's Heritage - Young Americans Among the Old Italian Masters
Author: Hoyt, Deristhe L.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Barbara's Heritage - Young Americans Among the Old Italian Masters" ***

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[Illustration: TITIAN. ACADEMY, VENICE

VIRGIN. FROM ASSUMPTION OF THE VIRGIN.]



BARBARA'S HERITAGE

OR

_YOUNG AMERICANS AMONG THE OLD ITALIAN MASTERS_

BY

DERISTHE L. HOYT

AUTHOR OF

"THE WORLD'S PAINTERS"

THIRD EDITION.

BOSTON AND CHICAGO

W.A. WILDE COMPANY

COPYRIGHT, 1899,

BY W.A. WILDE COMPANY.

_All rights reserved_.

BARBARA'S HERITAGE.

    To the Brother and Sister who have been my
    companions during many happy sojourns in
    Italy.



CONTENTS.

CHAPTER                                  PAGE

I. THE UNEXPECTED HAPPENS       13

II. ACROSS TWO OCEANS           29

III. IN BEAUTIFUL FLORENCE      45

IV. A NEW FRIEND APPEARS      61

V. STRAWS SHOW WHICH WAY THE WIND BLOWS      77

VI. LUCILE SHERMAN      93

VII. A STARTLING DISCLOSURE      107

VIII. HOWARD'S QUESTIONINGS      123

IX. THE COMING-OUT PARTY      139

X. THE MYSTERY UNFOLDS TO HOWARD      157

XI. ON THE WAY TO ROME      171

XII. ROBERT SUMNER FIGHTS A BATTLE      189

XIII. CUPID LAUGHS      205

XIV. A VISIT TO THE SISTINE CHAPEL      221

XV. A MORNING IN THE VATICAN      239

XVI. POOR BARBARA'S TROUBLE      259

XVII. ROBERT SUMNER IS IMPRUDENT      279

XVIII. IN VENICE      299

XIX. IN A GONDOLA      317

XX. RETURN FROM ITALY      335

EPILOGUE: THREE YEARS AFTER      355



ILLUSTRATIONS

VIRGIN. FROM ASSUMPTION OF THE VIRGIN. TITIAN.
Academy, Venice _Frontispiece_

BYZANTINE MAGDALEN.               PAGE
Academy, Florence       58

GROUP OF ANGELS. FROM CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN. FRA ANGELICO.
Uffizi Gallery, Florence       112

CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN. BOTTICELLI.
Uffizi Gallery, Florence      146

HEAD OF MADONNA. PERUGINO.
Uffizi Gallery, Florence       186

THE DELPHIAN SIBYL. MICHAEL ANGELO.
Sistine Chapel, Rome       226

SAINT CECILIA. RAPHAEL.
Academy, Bologna       296

MARRIAGE OF SAINT CATHERINE. LUINI.
Poldi-Pezzoli Museum, Milan          350



ILLUSTRATIONS IN TEXT


_Pen and Ink Drawings made by Homer W. Colby_

                                                PAGE

BARBARA'S HOME                                  15

A BIT OF GENOA                                  31

CHURCH OF THE ANNUNZIATA, FLORENCE              47

DUOMO AND CAMPANILE, FLORENCE                   63

SANTA MARIA NOVELLA, FLORENCE                   79

A GLIMPSE OF FLORENCE                           95

CLOISTER, MUSEUM OF SAN MARCO, FLORENCE        109

PONTE ALLA CARRAJA, FLORENCE                   125

PALAZZO PITTI, FLORENCE                        141

SAN MINIATO AL MONTE, FLORENCE                 159

ORVIETO CATHEDRAL                              173

SAN FRANCESCO, ASSISI                          191

RUINS OF FORUM, ROME                           207

SAINT PETER'S AND CASTLE OF SAINT ANGELO, ROME       223

LOGGIA OF RAPHAEL, VATICAN, ROME               241

A BIT OF AMALFI                                261

CAMPO SANTO, BOLOGNA                           281

SAN MARCO, VENICE                              301

GRAND CANAL AND RIALTO, VENICE                 319

MILAN CATHEDRAL                                337



PRELUDE.


    Each day the world is born anew
      For him who takes it rightly;
    Not fresher that which Adam knew,
    Not sweeter that whose moonlit dew
      Entranced Arcadia nightly.

    Rightly? That's simply: 'tis to see
      _Some_ substance casts these shadows
    Which we call Life and History,
    That aimless seem to chase and flee
      Like wind-gleams over meadows.

    Simply? That's nobly: 'tis to know
      That God may still be met with,
    Nor groweth old, nor doth bestow
    These senses fine, this brain aglow,
      To grovel and forget with.

    --JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.



Chapter I.

The Unexpected Happens.

    _And foorth they passe with pleasure forward led._

    --SPENSER.

[Illustration: BARBARA'S HOME.]


"O Barbara! _do_ you think papa and mamma will let us go? _Can_ they
afford it? Just to think of Italy, and sunshine, and olive trees, and
cathedrals, and pictures! Oh, it makes me wild! Will you not ask them,
dear Barbara? You are braver than I, and can talk better about it all.
How can we bear to have them say 'no'--to give up all the lovely thought
of it, now that once we have dared to dream of its coming to us--to you
and me, Barbara?" and color flushed the usually pale cheek of the young
girl, and her dark eyes glowed with feeling as she hugged tightly the
arm of her sister.

Barbara and Bettina Burnett were walking through a pleasant street in
one of the suburban towns of Boston after an afternoon spent with
friends who were soon to sail for Italy.

It was a charming early September evening, and the sunset glow burned
through the avenue of elm trees, beneath which the girls were passing,
flooding the way with rare beauty. But not one thought did they now give
to that which, ordinarily, would have delighted them; for Mrs. Douglas
had astonished them that afternoon by a pressing invitation to accompany
herself, her son, and daughter on this journey. For hours they had
talked over the beautiful scheme, and were to present Mrs. Douglas's
request to their parents that very night.

Mrs. Douglas, a wealthy woman, had been a widow almost ever since the
birth of her daughter, who was now a girl of fifteen. Malcom, her son,
was three or four years older. An artist brother was living in Italy,
and a few years previous to the beginning of our story, Mrs. Douglas and
her children had spent some months there. Now the brother was desirous
that they should again go to him, especially since his sister was not
strong, and it would be well for her to escape the inclemency of a New
England winter.

Barbara and Bettina,--Bab and Betty, as they were called in their
home,--twin daughters of Dr. Burnett, were seventeen years old, and the
eldest of a large family. The father, a great-hearted man, devoted to
his noble profession, and generous of himself, his time, and money, had
little to spare after the wants of his family had been supplied, so it
was not strange that the daughters, on sober second thought, should feel
that the idea of such a trip to the Old World as Mrs. Douglas suggested
could be only the dream of a moment, from which an awakening must be
inevitable.

But they little knew the wisdom of Mrs. Douglas, nor for a moment did
they suspect that for weeks before she had mentioned the matter to them,
she and their parents had spent many hours in planning and contriving so
that it might seem possible to give this great pleasure and means of
education to their daughters.

Even now, while they were hesitating to mention the matter, it was
already settled. Their parents had decided that, with the aid of a
portion of a small legacy which Mrs. Burnett had sacredly set aside for
her children, to be used only when some sufficient reason should offer,
enough money could be spared during the coming year to allow them to
accompany Mrs. Douglas.

As the sisters drew near the rambling, old-fashioned house, set back
from the street, which was their home, a pleasant welcome awaited them.
The father, who had just come from the stable to the piazza, the mother
and younger children,--Richard, Lois, Margaret, and little Bertie,--and
even the old dog, Dandy,--each had an affectionate greeting.

A quick look of intelligence passed between the parents as they saw the
flushed faces of their daughters, which so plainly told of unusual
excitement of feeling; but, saying nothing, they quietly led the way
into the dining room, where all gathered around the simple supper which
even the youngest could enjoy.

After the children had been put to bed, and the older ones of the family
were in the library, which was their evening sitting room, Bettina
looked anxiously at Barbara, who, after several attempts, succeeded in
telling the startling proposition which Mrs. Douglas had made, adding
that she should not dare to speak of it had she not promised Mrs.
Douglas to do so.

Imagine, if you can, the amazement, the flood of joyous surprise that
the girls felt as they realized, first, that to their parents it was not
a new, startling subject which could not for a moment be entertained;
then, that it was not only to be thought of, but planned for; and more,
that the going to Italy with Mrs. Douglas, Malcom, and Margery was to be
a reality, an experience that very soon would come into their lives, for
they were to sail in three weeks.

After the hubbub of talk that followed, it was a very subdued and quiet
pair of girls who kissed father and mother good night and went upstairs
to the room in which they had slept ever since their childhood. The
certain nearness of the first home-breaking, of the first going away
from their dear ones, and a new conception of the tenderness of the
parents, who were sacrificing so much for them, had taken such
possession of their hearts that they were too full for words. For
Barbara and Bettina were dear, thoughtful daughters and sisters, who had
early learned to aid in bearing the family burdens, and whose closest,
strongest affections were bound about the home and its dear ones.

Such busy days followed! Such earnest conferences between Mrs. Burnett
and Mrs. Douglas, who was an old traveller, and knew all the ins and
outs of her dear doctor's household!

It was finally decided that the dark blue serge gowns that had been worn
during the last spring and on cold summer days with the warm spring
jackets, would be just the thing for the girls on the steamship; that
the pretty brown cloth suits which were even then in the dressmaker's
hands could be worn almost constantly after reaching Italy for
out-of-door life; while the simple evening gowns that had done duty at
schoolgirl receptions would answer finely for at-home evenings. So that
only two or three extra pairs of boots (for nothing abroad can take the
place of American boots and shoes), some silk waists, so convenient for
easy change of costume, and a little addition to the dainty
underclothing were all that was absolutely needed.

Busy fingers soon accomplished everything necessary, and in a few
swiftly passing days the trunks were packed, the tearful good-bys
spoken, and the little party was on its way to New York, to sail thence
for Genoa on the _Kaiser Wilhelm II._ of the North German Lloyd line of
steamships.

Dr. Burnett had managed to accompany them thus far, and now, as the
great ship is slowly leaving the wharf, and Mrs. Douglas, Malcom,
Margery, Barbara, and Bettina are clustered together on her deck, waving
again and again their good-bys, and straining their eyes still to
recognize the dear familiar form and face among the crowd that presses
forward on the receding pier, we will take time for a full introduction
of the chief personages of our story.

Mrs. Douglas, who stands between her children, Malcom's arm thrown
half-protectingly about her shoulders, was, or rather is (for our tale
is of recent date and its characters are yet living), a rare woman.
Slender and graceful, clothed in widow's dress, her soft gray hair
framing a still fair and youthful face, she looks a typical American
woman of refinement and culture. And she is all this, and more; for did
she not possess a strong Christian character, wise judgment, and a warm
motherly heart, and were she not ever eager to gain that which is
noblest and best both for herself and her children from every experience
of life, careful Dr. and Mrs. Burnett would never have intrusted their
daughters to her.

Her husband had been a young Scotchman, well-born, finely educated, and
possessed of ample means, whom she had met when a girl travelling abroad
with her parents, and her brief wedded life had been spent in beautiful
Edinburgh, her husband's native city. Very soon after Margery's birth
came the terrible grief of her husband's death, and lonely Elizabeth
Douglas came across the sea, bringing her two fatherless children to
make a home for herself and them among her girlhood friends.

Malcom, a well-developed, manly young fellow, has just graduated from
the Boston Latin School. As he stands beside his mother we see the
military drill he has undergone in his fine carriage, straight
shoulders, and erect head. He has the Scotch complexion, an abundance of
fair hair, and frank, steady eyes that win him the instant trust and
friendship of all who look into them. Though full of a boy's enthusiasm
and fun, yet he seems older than he is, as is usually the case with boys
left fatherless who early feel a certain manly responsibility for the
mother and sisters.

Proud and fond indeed is Malcom Douglas of his mother and "little
Madge," as he calls her, who, petite and slender, with sunny, flowing
curls, the sweetest of blue eyes, and a pure, childlike face, stands,
with parted lips, flushed with animation, by her mother's side. Margery
is, as she looks, gentle and lovable. Not yet has she ever known the
weight of the slightest burden of care, but has been as free and happy
as the birds, as she has lived in her beautiful home with her mother and
brother.

Barbara and Bettina stand a little apart from the others, with clasped
hands and dim eyes, as the shore, the home-shore, is fast receding from
their sight. They are alike, and yet unlike. People always say "Barbara
and Bettina," never "Bettina and Barbara." They are of the same height,
each with brown hair and eyes.

Barbara's figure is a little fuller and more womanly, her hair has
caught the faintest auburn hue, her eyes have a more brilliant sparkle,
and the color on her cheeks glows more steadily. She looks at strangers
with a quiet self-possession, and questions others rather than thinks of
herself being questioned. As a child she always fought her own and her
sister's battles, and would do the same to-day did occasion demand.

Bettina is more timid and self-conscious; her dreamy eyes and quickly
coming and going color betray a keen sensitiveness to thought and
impressions.

Both are beautiful, and more than one of their fellow-passengers look at
the sisters with interest as they stand together, so absorbed in feeling
that they take no note of what is passing about them. Just now both are
thinking of the same thing--a conversation held with their father as the
trio sat in a corner of the car just before reaching New York.

Dr. Burnett had explained to them just how he had been enabled to meet
the expense of their coming travel.

Then he said:--

"Now girls, you are, for the first time in your lives, to be away from
the care and advice of your parents. Of course, if you need help in
judging of anything, you are free to go to Mrs. Douglas; but there will
be much that it will be best for you to decide without troubling her.
You will meet all sorts of people, travellers like yourselves, and many
you will see who are spending money freely and for what seems pleasure
only, without one thought of the special education that travel in the
Old World might bring them. Your mother and I have always been actuated
by one purpose regarding our children. We cannot give you money in
abundance, but we are trying to give you a liberal education,--that
which is to us far superior to mere money riches,--and the only
consideration that makes us willing to part from you and to sacrifice
for you now, is our belief that a rare opportunity for gaining culture
and an education that cannot be found at home is open to you.

"Think of this always, my daughters. Ponder it over while you are gone,
and do your best to come home bringing a new wealth of knowledge that
shall bless your younger brothers and sisters and our whole household,
as well as your own lives. You are not going on a pleasure trip, dear
girls, but to another school,--a thoroughly novel and delightful
one,--but do not forget that, after all, it is a school."

As the rapidly increasing distance took from them the last sight of the
father's form, Barbara and Bettina turned and looked at each other with
tearful eyes; and the unspoken thought of one was, "We _will_ come home
all that you long for us to be, dear papa!" and of the other, "Oh, I do
hope we shall understand what you wish, and learn what and wherever we
can!" and both thoughts meant the same thing and bore the same earnest
purpose.

"Come girls," said Mrs. Douglas, who had keenly observed them without
appearing to do so, "it is best for us all to go to our staterooms
directly and unpack our steamer-trunks. Perhaps in even an hour or two
we may not feel so much like doing it as we do now."

As they passed through the end of the dining-saloon, whose tables were
laden with bouquets of fresh and fragrant flowers, brought by loving
friends to many of the passengers, Malcom's quick eye spied a little
pile of letters on the end of a corner table.

"I wonder," said he, as he turned back to look them over, "if anybody
thought to write to us."

Returning with an envelope in his hands, he cried:--

"What will you give for a letter from home already, Barbara and Betty?"

"For us!" exclaimed the girls, "a letter from home for us! Why, we never
thought such a thing could be! How did it get here? Did papa bring one
and put it here?"

But no, for the letter addressed in the dear mother's handwriting was
clearly stamped, and its appearance testified that it had come through
the mail to New York.

Hurrying to their stateroom and sitting close to each other on the sofa
under the port-hole, they read Mrs. Burnett's bright, sweet motherly
letter, and a note from each of their brothers and sisters,--even a
crumpled printed one from five-year-old Bertie. So bright and jolly were
they all, that they allayed rather than heightened the first homesick
feelings, and very soon the girls were chattering happily as they busied
themselves with their unpacking.

The staterooms of the _Kaiser Wilhelm II._ are more commodious than can
be found in most steamships, even those of the same line. It was
delightful to find a small wardrobe in which to hang the warm wrappers
so useful on shipboard, and the thick coats that might be needed, and a
chest of drawers for underclothing, gloves, etc. Toilet articles were
put on the tiny wall-shelves; magazines and books on the top of the
chest of drawers; and soon the little room took on a bit of an
individual and homelike look which was very pleasing.

Mrs. Douglas and Margery were just opposite them, and Malcom close at
hand, so there was no chance of feeling too much adrift from the old
life.

"Hello, girls! Are you ready to come upstairs?" in Malcom's voice.

"How nice your room looks!" cried Margery; and up to the deck they
trooped to find that Malcom had seen that their steamer-chairs were well
placed close together, and that Mrs. Douglas was already tucked in under
her pretty Scotch rug.

How strange the deck looked now that the host of friends that had
crowded to say good-by were gone! Already many hats and bonnets had been
exchanged for caps, for the wind was fresh, and, altogether, both
passengers and deck struck our party as wearing quite a ship-shape air.
Mrs. Douglas held in her hand a passenger-list, so interesting at just
this time, and was delighted to learn that an old-time travelling
companion was on board.

"But, poor woman," said she, "she always has to spend the first three or
four days in her berth, so I shall not see her for a time unless I seek
her there. She is a miserable sailor."

"Oh, dear!" said Bettina, "I had forgotten that there is such a thing as
seasickness. Do you think, Mrs. Douglas, that Barbara and I shall be
seasick? It seems impossible when we feel so well now; and the air is so
fine, and everything so lovely! Are you always seasick, and Malcom, and
Margery?"

"I have never been really sick, save once, when crossing the English
Channel," replied Mrs. Douglas; "neither has Malcom ever given up to it,
though sometimes he has evidently suffered. But poor Margery has been
very sick, and it is difficult for her to exert enough will-power to
quickly overcome it. It requires a prodigious amount to do this if one
is really seasick."

"I wonder what it feels like," said Barbara. "I think if will-power can
keep one from it, I will not be seasick."

"Come and walk, girls," called Margery, who, with Malcom, had been
vigorously walking to and fro on the wide deck, while their mother,
Barbara, and Bettina had been talking.

So they walked until lunch-time, and then enjoyed hugely the novelty of
the first meal on shipboard. After this, the young people went aft to
look down upon the steerage passengers, and forward to the bow of the
noble ship, while Mrs. Douglas took her little nap downstairs.

But alas! as the steamship took her course further into the open sea,
and the wind grew more and more fresh, the three girls sank into their
chairs, grew silent, and before dinner-time were among the great
suffering company that every ship carries during the first days and
nights of her voyage.



Chapter II.

Across Two Oceans.

    _Nobly, nobly Cape St. Vincent to the northwest died away;
    Sunset ran, one glorious blood-red, reeking into Cadiz Bay:
    Bluish 'mid the burning water, full in face Trafalgar lay:
    In the dimmest northeast distance dawned Gibraltar grand and gray
    ... While Jove's planet rises yonder silent over Africa_.

    --BROWNING.

[Illustration: A BIT OF GENOA]


"Betty!" called Barbara.

"What, dear?" answered a weak voice from the berth below.

"Do you know how much more quiet the water is? and, Betty, I think Mrs.
Douglas looked really disappointed when she saw us still immovable in
our berths."

It was the third morning at sea. The fresh wind of the first afternoon
had blown a gale before morning. A storm followed, and for two days the
larger part of the passengers had been absent from saloon and deck.

Among these were Barbara, Bettina, and Margery. Mrs. Douglas and Malcom
had done their best to keep up the spirits of their little party, but
had found it difficult. Now for the third time they had gone to
breakfast alone.

Barbara was thinking hard; and, as she thought, her courage rose.

"Betty," said she again, "perhaps if you and I can get up and dress, it
may help Margery to try, and you know how much her mother wishes her to
do so, she so soon loses strength. And Mrs. Douglas is so good to you
and me! I wonder if we can take the salt-water baths that she thinks
help one so much on the sea. You remember how much pains she took as
soon as we came on board to get all our names on the bath-stewardess's
list for morning baths!"

"I believe I will try!" added she, after a long silence.

And when the broad-faced, smiling stewardess came to see if the young
ladies would like anything, Barbara gladdened her heart by saying she
would have her bath.

"Oh, Betty, Betty dear! you have no idea how nice it is! The ship is
quiet, the port is open in the bath-room, and it is just lovely to
breathe the fresh air. Do try it. I feel like a new girl!"

Before another hour had passed the girls said good-by to poor Margery
after having greatly encouraged her spirits, and climbed the stairs to
the deck, where they found Malcom just tucking his mother into her chair
after their breakfast and morning walk on the deck. Such a bright smile
as Mrs. Douglas gave them! It more than repaid for all the effort they
had made.

"You are just bricks!" cried Malcom, with a joyous look. "No more
seasickness! Now we will have jolly times, just so soon as Madge can
come up."

"Go down and persuade her, Malcom, after you have told the deck-steward
to bring some breakfast for these girls. I will help her dress, and you
can bring her up in your arms if she is too weak to walk."

Before noon, Margery, looking frail as a crushed white lily, lay on a
chair heaped with cushions and rugs close beside her mother; and the
sweet salt air and sunshine did their best to atone for the misery that
had been inflicted by the turbulent sea.

Bright, happy days followed, and sunsets and moonlight evenings, and the
girls learned to love sea life. They roamed over every part of the ship.
The good captain always had a smile and welcome for young people, and
told them many things about the management of vessels at sea.

There was no monotony, but every day seemed full of interest. All the
wonders of the great deep were about them--strange fish, sea porpoise,
and whales, by day, and ever-new phosphorescent gleams and starry
heavens by night. Then the wonderful interest of a sail at sea, or a
distant steamship; some other humanity than that on their own ship
passing them on the limitless ocean!

On the sixth day out the ship passed between Flores and Corvo, two of
the northernmost islands of the Azores; and, through the glass, they
could easily see the little Portuguese homes--almost the very
people--scattered on the sloping hill-sides.

After two days more, the long line of the distant shore of Cape St.
Vincent came into view, and Malcom, fresh from his history lesson,
recalled the the fact that nearly a hundred years ago, a great Spanish
fleet had been destroyed by the English under Admiral Nelson a little to
the eastward on these very waters.

The next morning was a momentous one. In the early sunshine the ship
entered the Bay of Gibraltar and anchored for several hours. Boats took
the passengers to visit the town, and to Barbara and Bettina the supreme
moment of travel in a foreign country had arrived; that in which they
found another land and first touched it with their feet; and entering
the streets found strange people and listened to a foreign tongue.

They drove through the queer, narrow, crooked streets, out upon the
"neutral ground," and up to the gardens; bought an English newspaper;
then, going back to the ship, looked up at the frowning rock threaded by
those English galleries, which, upon occasion, can pour forth from their
windows such a deadly hail.

Leaving the harbor, the ship passed slowly along between the "Pillars of
Hercules," for so many centuries the western limit of the Old World, and
entered the blue Mediterranean. And was this low dark line on the right
really Africa, the Dark Continent, which until then had seemed only a
dream--a far-away dream? What a sure reality it would ever be after
this!

Mrs. Douglas had chosen happily when she decided to land at Genoa
instead of at one of the northern ports; for aside from the fact that
the whole Atlantic passage was calmer than it otherwise could have been,
the beauty and interest of the days on the Mediterranean are almost
without parallel in ocean travel.

The magnificent snow-capped mountains of the Spanish shore; the rugged
northern coasts of the Balearic Islands; the knowledge that out just
beyond sight lies Corsica, where was born the little island boy, so
proud, ambitious, and unscrupulous as emperor, so sad and disappointed
in his banishment and death; and then the long beautiful Riviera coast,
which the steamships for Genoa really skirt, permitting their
passengers to look into Nice, Bordighera, Monaco, San Remo, etc., and to
realize all the picturesque beauty of their mountain background--all
this gave three enchanting days to our little party before the ship
sailed into the harbor of Genoa, _La Superba_, a well-merited title.

The city seemed now like a jewel in green setting, as its softly colored
palaces, rising terrace above terrace, surrounded by rich tropical
foliage, glowed in the rays of the setting sun.

Here Mrs. Douglas was to meet her brother; and she, Malcom, and Margery
were full of eager excitement. It was hard to wait until the little
crowd of people collected on the wharf should separate into distinct
individuals.

"There he is! there is Uncle Robert! I see him!" cried Malcom. "He is
waving his handkerchief from the top of his cane!"

While Mrs. Douglas and Margery pressed forward to send some token of
recognition across the rapidly diminishing breadth of waters, Barbara
and Bettina sought with vivid interest the figure and face of one whom
they remembered but slightly, but of whom they had heard much. Robert
Sumner was a name often mentioned in their home for, as a boy, and young
man, he had been particularly dear to Dr. Burnett and had been held up
as a model of all excellence before his own boys.

Some six years before the time of our story he was to marry a beautiful
girl, who died almost on the eve of what was to have been their
marriage-day. Stunned by the affliction, the young artist bade good-by
to home and friends and went to Italy, feeling that he could bear his
loss only under new conditions; and, ever since, that country had been
his home. He had travelled widely, yet had always returned to Italy.
"Next year I will go back to America," he had often thought; but there
was still a shrinking from the coming into contact with painful
associations. Only his sister and her children were left of the home
circle and it were happier if they would come to him; so he had stayed
on, a voluntary exile.

Not yet thirty years of age, he looked even younger as with shining eyes
he watched the little group on the deck of the big approaching
steamship. Of the strength of his affections no one could be doubtful
who witnessed his warm, passionate embraces when, after long delay, the
ship and shore were at last bound together.

"And can these be the little Barbara and Betty who used to sit on my
knees?" he asked in wonder, as Mrs. Douglas drew forward the tall girls
that they might share in his greeting.

"I thought I knew you, but am afraid we shall have to get acquainted
all over again."

The following morning when, after breakfast, the young people had been
put into a carriage for a drive all about the city, Mrs. Douglas had a
long conversation with her brother. He told her of the pleasant home in
Florence which he had prepared for her, and some of his plans for the
coming months.

"But will not the care of so many young people be too much for you, my
sister? Have you counted well the cost of added thought and care which
our dear Doctor's daughters will impose? Tell me about them. Are they as
sterling as their father and mother? I must believe they are neither
giddy nor headstrong, else you would never have undertaken the care of
them. Moreover, their faces contradict any such supposition. They are
beautiful and very attractive; but are just at the age when every power
is on the alert to have its fill of interest and enjoyment. Did you
notice how their eyes sparkled as they took their seats in the carriage
and looked out upon the strange, foreign sights?"

"Yes," answered Mrs. Douglas. "We must do all we can for them that this
visit to the Old World shall be as truly a means of culture as their
parents desire. You know I wrote you that it is difficult for the
Doctor to afford it, but that he felt so earnestly the good that such an
opportunity must bring his girls that he could not bear to refuse it. As
for me, I love Barbara and Betty dearly and delight to care for them as
for my own. Their influence is wholesome, and our little Margery loves
them as if they were indeed sisters. I have thought much about what is
best for all our young people to do during the coming months in Italy.
Of course everything they see and hear will be an education, but I think
we ought to have some definite plan for certainly a portion of their
time. I have wished to talk to you about it.

"'Help my daughters to study,' said Dr. Burnett, and his feeling has
given me new thoughts regarding my own children. Now there is one great
field of study into which one can enter in this country as nowhere
else--and this is art. Especially in Florence is the world of Italian
painting opened before us--its beginnings and growth. Ought we not to
put all of them, Barbara, Bettina, Malcom, and Margery into the most
favorable conditions for entering upon the study of this great subject,
which may prove a source of so much enjoyment and culture all their
lives? I well remember my own wonder and pleasure when, years ago, our
dear mother called my attention to it; and how much it has been to both
you and me! You can help me here, Robert, for this is so much a part of
your own life."

"I will think it all over, sister, and we will see what we can do. As
for me, I am too happy just now in having you and the children with me
to give thought to anything else. So talk to me to-day of nothing but
your own dear selves."

Two days later our travellers were on their way down the western coast
of Italy, threading tunnels, and snatching brief views of the
Mediterranean on one side and smiling vineyards and quaint Italian
cities on the other.

"We will not stop at Pisa," said Mr. Sumner, "but will come to visit it
some time later from Florence; but you must watch for a fine view from
the railway of its Cathedral, Leaning Tower, Baptistery, and Campo
Santo. The mountains are withdrawing from us now, and I think we shall
reach it soon."

"Oh! how like the pictures we have seen!" cried Malcom. "How fine! The
tower does lean just as much as we have thought!"

"How beautiful it all is,--the blue hills, the green plain, and the soft
yellow of the buildings!" said Bettina.

"Will you tell us something of it all, Mr. Sumner?" asked Barbara. "I
know there is something wonderful and interesting, but cannot remember
just what."

"There are many very interesting things about this old city," answered
Mr. Sumner. "First of all, the striking changes through which it has
passed. Once Pisa was on the sea, possessed a fine harbor, and in rich
commerce was a rival of Genoa and Venice. She was a proud, eager,
assertive city; of such worth that she was deemed a rich prize, and was
captured by the Romans a few centuries B.C. Now the sea has
left her and, with that, her commerce and importance in the world of
trade. She is to-day so poor that there is nothing to tempt travellers
to come to her save a magnificent climate and this wonderful group of
buildings. The inhabitants are few and humble, her streets are
grass-grown. Everything has stopped in poor old Pisa. Here Galileo was
born, and lived for years; and in the Cathedral is a great swinging lamp
which is said to have first suggested to his mind the motion of the
pendulum, and from the top of the Leaning Tower he used to study the
planets. The Tower is the Campanile, or Bell Tower, of the Cathedral.
With regard to its position, there are different opinions. Some writers
think it only an accident,--that the foundation of one side gave way
during the building, thus producing the effect we see. Others think it
was purposely so built, planned by some architect who desired to gain a
unique effect and so prove his mastery over the subtleties of building.
I confess that since I have seen the leaning towers of Bologna, which
were erected about the same time, I am inclined to agree with the latter
view."

"I should think, uncle," said Malcom, "that if such defective
foundations had been laid, there would have been further trouble, and
the poor Tower would have fallen long ago."

"Yes," replied Mr. Sumner, "it does not seem very reasonable to believe
that they would have given way just enough to make the Tower lean as it
does now, and that then it should remain stationary for so many
centuries afterward. The Baptistery, or place for baptism, was formerly
built in Italy separate from the Cathedral, as was the Campanile, just
as we see them here. In northern countries and in more modern Italian
cathedrals, we find all united in one building. The most interesting
thing in this Baptistery is a magnificent marble pulpit covered with
sculptures designed by Nicholas Pisano. To see it alone is worth a visit
to Pisa. The long, low building that you saw beyond the other buildings
is the Campo Santo, a name given to burial places in Italy, which, as
you know, is a Latin term, and means 'holy ground.'"

"I think it is a beautiful name," said Bettina.

"Yes, there is a solemn rhythm about the words that pleases the ear
rather more than does our word 'cemetery,'" said Mr. Sumner.

"But there is something especially interesting about this Campo Santo,
isn't there?" queried Barbara, and added: "I do hope I shall remember
all such things after I have really seen the places!"

"You surely will, my dear," said Mrs. Douglas; "ever afterward they will
be realities to you, not mere stories."

Mr. Sumner resumed: "The Campo Santo of Pisa is the first one that was
laid out in Italy, and it is still by far the most beautiful. It
possesses the dimensions of Noah's Ark, and is literally holy ground,
for it was filled with fifty-three shiploads of earth brought from Mount
Calvary, so that the dead of Pisa repose in sacred ground. The inner
sides of its walls were decorated with noble paintings, many of which
are now completely faded. We will come to see those which remain some
day."

"How strange it all is!" said Bettina. "How different from anything we
see at home! Think of ships sent to the Holy Land for earth from Mount
Calvary, and their coming back over the Mediterranean laden with such a
cargo!"

"Only a superstitious, imaginative people, such as the Italians are,
would have done such a thing," said Mrs. Douglas; "and only in the
mediæval age of the world."

"But," she went on with a bright smile, "it is the same spirit that has
reared such exquisite buildings for the worship of God and filled them
with rare, sacred marbles and paintings that are beyond price to the
world of art. I always feel when I come hither and see the present
poverty of the beautiful land that the whole world is its debtor, and
can never repay what it owes."



Chapter III.

In Beautiful Florence.

    _For to the highest she did still aspyre;
    Or, if ought higher were then that, did it desyre._

    --SPENSER.

[Illustration: CHURCH OF THE ANNUNZIATA, FLORENCE.]


One afternoon, about two weeks later, Barbara and Bettina were sitting
in their pleasant room in Florence. The wide-open windows looked out
upon the slopes of that lovely hill on whose summit is perched Fiesole,
the poor little old mother of Florence, who still holds watch over her
beautiful daughter stretched at her feet. Scented airs which had swept
all the way from distant blue hills over countless orange, olive, and
mulberry groves filled the room, and fluttered the paper upon which the
girls were writing; it was their weekly letter budget.

The fair faces were flushed as they bent over the crowded sheets so soon
to be scanned by dear eyes at home. How much there was to tell of the
events of the past week! Drives through the streets of the famous city;
through the lovely Cascine; up to San Miniato and Fiesole; visits to
churches, palaces, and picture-galleries; days filled to overflowing
with the new life among foreign scenes.

Suddenly Barbara, throwing aside her pen, exclaimed:--

"Betty dear, don't you sometimes feel most horribly ignorant?"

"Why? when?"

"Oh! I am just writing about our visit to Santa Croce the other day. I
enjoyed so much the fine spaces within the church, the softened light,
and some of the monuments. But when we came to those chapels whose walls
are covered with paintings,--you remember, where we met that Mr. Sherman
and his daughters who came over on the _Kaiser_ with us,--I tried to
understand why they were so interested there. They were studying the
paintings for such a long time, and I heard some of the things they were
saying about them. They thought them perfectly wonderful; and that Miss
Sherman who has such lovely eyes said she thought it worth coming from
America to Italy just to see them and other works by the same artist.
Mr. Sumner, too, heard what she said, and gave her such a pleased,
admiring look. After they had gone out from the chapel where are
pictures representing scenes in the life of St. Francis, I went in and
looked and looked at them; but, try as hard as I could, I could not be
one bit interested. The pictures are so queer, the figures so stiff, I
could not see a beautiful or interesting thing about them. But I know I
am all wrong. I do want to see what they saw, and to feel as they felt!"

"I liked the pictures because of their subject," said Bettina; "that
dear St. Francis of Assisi who loved the birds and flowers, and talked
to them as if they could understand him. But I did not see any beauty in
them."

"We must learn what it is; we must do more than just look at all these
early pictures that fill the churches and galleries just as we would
look at wall paper, as so many people seemed to do in the Uffizi gallery
the other day," said Barbara, emphatically. "This must be one of the
things papa meant."

Just here came a knock on the door.

"May we come in, Margery and I?" asked Malcom. "Why! what is the matter?
You look as if you had been talking of something unpleasant."

Bettina told of Barbara's trouble.

"How strange!" said Margery. "Mamma has just been talking to us about
this very thing. She says that, if you like, Uncle Robert will teach us
about the works of the Italian painters. You know he knows _everything_
about them! He has even written a book about these paintings in
Florence!"

"Yes," said Malcom with a comical shrug, "the idea is that we all spend
one or two mornings every week studying stiff old Madonnas and
Magdalenes and saints! I love noble and beautiful paintings as well as
any one, but I wonder if I can ever learn anything that will make me
care to look twice at some of those old things in the long entrance
gallery of the Uffizi. I doubt it. Give me the old palaces where the
Medici lived, and let me study up what they did. Or even Dante, or
Michael Angelo! _He_ was an artist who is worth studying about. Why! do
you know, he built the fortifications of San Miniato and--"

"But," interrupted Barbara, "you know that whenever Italy is written or
talked about, her _art_ seems to be the very most important thing. I was
reading only the other day an article in which the writer said that
undoubtedly the chief mission or gift of Italy to the world is her
paintings,--her old paintings,--and that this mission is all fulfilled.
Now, if this be true, do we wish to come here and go away without
learning all that we possibly can of them? I think that would be
foolish."

"And," added Bettina, "I think one of the most interesting studies in
the world is about these same old saints whom you dislike so much,
Malcom. They were heroes; and I think some of them were a great deal
grander than those mythological characters you so dote upon. If your
uncle will only be so good as to talk to us of the pictures! Let us go
at once and thank him. Now, Malcom, you will be enthusiastic about it,
will you not? There will be so much time for all the other things."

Bettina put her arm affectionately about Margery, and smiled into
Malcom's face, as they all went to seek Mrs. Douglas and Mr. Sumner.

"Here come the victims, Uncle Rob! three willing ones,--Barbara, who is
ever sighing for new worlds to conquer; Betty, who already dotes upon
St. Sebastian stuck full of arrows and St. Lucia carrying her eyes on a
platter; Madge, who would go to the rack if only you led the way,--and
poor rebellious, inartistic I."

"But, my boy--" began Mrs. Douglas.

"Oh! I will do it all if only the girls will climb the Campanile and
Galileo's Tower with me and it does not interfere with our drives and
walks. If this is to become an æsthetic crowd, I don't wish to be left
out," laughed Malcom.

A morning was decided upon for the first lesson.

"We will begin at the beginning," said Mr. Sumner; "one vital mistake
often made is in not starting far enough back. In order to realize in
the slightest degree the true work of these old masters, one must know
in what condition the art was before their time; or rather, that there
was no art. So we will first go to the Accademia delle Belle Arti, or
Academy, as we will call it, and from there to the church, Santa Maria
Novella. And one thing more,--you are welcome to go to my library and
learn all you can from the books there. I am sure I do not need to tell
those who have studied so much as you already have that the knowledge
you shall gain from coming into contact with any new thing must be in a
great degree measured by that which you take to it."

"How good you are to give us so much of your time, Mr. Sumner," said
Barbara, with sparkling eyes. "How can we ever repay you?"

"By learning to love this subject somewhat as I love it," replied Mr.
Sumner; but he thought as he felt the magnetism of her young enthusiasm
that he might gain something of compensation which it was impossible to
put into words.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Are you not going with us, dear Mrs. Douglas?" asked Bettina, as the
little party were preparing to set forth on the appointed morning.

"Not to-day, dear, for I have another engagement"

"I think I know what mamma is going to do," said Margery as they left
the house. "I heard the housemaid, Anita, telling her last evening about
the illness of her little brother, and saying that her mother is so poor
that she cannot get for the child what he needs. I think mamma is going
to see them this morning."

"Just like that blessed mother of ours!" exclaimed Malcom. "There is
never anybody in want near her about whom she is not sure to find out
and to help! It will be just the same here as at home; Italians or
Americans--all are alike to her. She will give up anything for herself
in order to do for them."

"I am glad you know her so well," said his uncle, with a smile. "There
is no danger that you can ever admire your mother too much."

"Oh!" exclaimed Barbara, as after a little walk they entered a square
surrounded by massive buildings, with arcades, all white with the
sunshine. "Look at that building! It is decorated with those dear little
babies, all swathed, whose photographs we have so often seen in the
Boston art stores. What is it? Where are we?"

"In the Piazza dell' Annunziata," replied Mr. Sumner, "and an
interesting place it is. That building is the Foundling Hospital, a very
ancient and famous institution. And the 'swathed babies' are the work of
Andrea della Robbia."

"Poor little innocents! How tired they must be, wrapped up like mummies
and stuck on the wall like specimen butterflies!" whispered Malcom in an
aside to Bettina.

"Hush! hush!" laughed she. "Your uncle will hear you."

"This beautiful church just here on our right," continued Mr. Sumner,
"is the church of the S.S. Annunziata or the most Holy Annunciation. It
was founded in the middle of the thirteenth century by seven noble
Florentines, who used to meet daily to sing _Ave Maria_ in a chapel
situated where the Campanile of the Cathedral now stands. It has been
somewhat modernized and is now the most fashionable church in Florence.
It contains some very interesting paintings, which we will visit by and
by."

"Every step we take in this beautiful city is full of interest, and how
different from anything we can find at home!" exclaimed Bettina. "Look
at the color of these buildings, and their exquisite arches! See the
soft painting over the door of the church, and the sculptured bits
everywhere! I begin, just a little, to see why Florence is called the
_art city_."

"But only a little, yet," said Mr. Sumner, with a pleased look. "You are
just on the threshold of the knowledge of this fair city. Not what she
outwardly is, but what she contains, and what her children have
wrought, constitute her wealth of art. Do you remember, Margery, what
name the poet Shelley gives Florence in that beautiful poem you were
reading yesterday?"

    "O _Foster-nurse_ of man's abandoned glory,
    Since Athens, its great mother, sunk in splendor,
    Thou shadowest forth that mighty shape in story,
    As ocean its wrecked fanes, severe yet tender,"

dreamily recited Margery, her sweet face flushing as all eyes looked at
her.

"Yes," smiled her uncle. "Florence, as _foster-nurse_, has cherished for
the world the art-treasures of early centuries in Italy, so that there
is no other city on earth in which we can learn so much of the 'revival
of art,' as it is called, which took place after the barrenness of the
Dark Ages, as in this. But here we are at the Academy. I shall not allow
you to look at much here this morning. We will go and sit in the farther
corner of this first corridor, for I wish to talk a little, and just
here we shall find all that I need for illustration."

"You need not put on such a martyr-look, Malcom," continued he, as they
walked on. "I prophesy that not one here present will feel more solid
interest in the work we are beginning than you will, my boy."

When Mr. Sumner had gathered the little group about him, he began to
talk of the beauties of Greek art--how it had flourished for centuries
before Christ.

"But I thought Greek art consisted of sculptures," said Barbara.

"Much of it was sculptured,--all of it which remains,--but we have
evidence that the Greeks also produced beautiful paintings, which, could
they have been preserved, might be not unworthy rivals of modern
masterpieces," replied Mr. Sumner. "After the Roman invasion of Greece,
these ancient works of art were mostly destroyed. Rome possessed no fine
art of her own, but imported Greek artists to produce for her. These,
taken away from their native land, and having no noble works around them
for inspiration, began simply to copy each other, and so the art
degenerated from century to century. The growing Christian religion,
which forbade the picturing of any living beauty, gave the death-blow to
such excellence as remained. A style of painting followed which received
the name of Greek Byzantine. In it was no study of life; all was most
strikingly conventional, and it grew steadily worse and worse. A
comparison of the paintings and mosaics of the sixth, seventh, eighth,
and ninth centuries shows the rapid decline of all art qualities.
Finally every figure produced was a most arrant libel on nature. It was
always painted against a flat gold background; the limbs were wholly
devoid of action; the feet and hands hung helplessly; and the eyes were
round and staring. The flesh tints were a dull brick red, and all else a
dreary brown."

"Come here," said he, rising, "and see an example of this Greek
Byzantine art,--this _Magdalen_. Study it well."

"Oh, oh, how dreadful!" chorussed the voices of all.

"Uncle Rob, do you mean to say there was no painting in the world better
than this in the ninth--or thereabouts--century?" asked Malcom, with
wondering eyes.

"I mean to say just that, Malcom. But I must tell you something more
about this same Greek Byzantine painting, for there is a school of it
to-day. Should you go to Southern Italy or to Russia, you would find
many booths for trading, in the back of which you would see a Madonna,
or some saint, painted in just this style. These pictures have gained a
superstitious value among the lower classes of the people, and are
believed to possess a miraculous power. In Mt. Athos, Greece, is a
school that still produces them. Doubtless this has grown out of the
fact that several of these old paintings, notably Madonnas, are
treasured in the churches, and the people are taught that miracles have
been wrought by them. In the Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, is an example
(the people are told that it was painted by St. Luke), and during the
plague in Rome, and also during a great fire which was most disastrous,
this painting was borne through the city by priests in holy procession,
and the tradition is that both plague and fire were stayed."

"What a painfully ridiculous figure!" exclaimed Barbara, who had been
silently absorbed in study. "It is painful because every line looks as
if the artist had done his very best, and that is so utterly bad. It
means absolutely nothing."

"You have fathomed the woful secret," replied Mr. Sumner. "It shows no
evidence of the slightest thought. Only a man's _fingers_ produced this.
All power of originality had become lost; all desire for it was
unknown."

"Then, how did things ever get better?" asked Malcom.

"An interesting question. I wish you all would read some before I tell
you any more. Find something, please, that treats of the beginnings of
Christian art in the Catacombs of Rome. Read about the manuscript
illuminations produced by monks of the tenth and eleventh centuries,
which are to be found in some great libraries. In these we find the best
art of that time,"

[Illustration: ACADEMY, FLORENCE.

BYZANTINE MAGDALEN.]

"If you find anything about Cimabue and Giotto," he added, "you would
better read that also, for the work of these old painters will be the
subject of our next lesson. For it, we will go to the church Santa Maria
Novella."

"And Santa Croce?" asked Barbara, more timidly than was her wont.

"And Santa Croce too," smilingly added Mr. Sumner.

"And now, Malcom, if you can find a wide carriage, we all will drive for
an hour before going home."



Chapter IV.

A New Friend Appears.

          _The first sound in the song of love
    Scarce more than silence is, and yet a sound.
    Hands of invisible spirits touch the strings
    Of that mysterious instrument, the soul,
    And play the prelude of our fate._

    --LONGFELLOW.

[Illustration: DUOMO AND CAMPANILE. FLORENCE.]


One day Malcom met an old fellow-student. Coming home, he told his
mother of him, and asked permission to bring him for introduction.

"His name is Howard Sinclair. I did not know him very well in the
school, for he was some way ahead of me. He is now in Harvard College.
But his lungs are very weak; and last winter the doctors sent him to
Egypt, and told him he must stay for at least two years in the warmer
countries. He is lonely and pretty blue, I judge; was glad enough to see
me."

"Poor boy! Yes, bring him here, and I will talk with him. Perhaps we can
make it more pleasant for him. You are sure his character is beyond
question, Malcom?"

"I think so. He has lots of money, and is inclined to spend it freely,
but I know he was called a pretty fine fellow in the school, though not
very well known by many. He is rather 'toney,' you know,--held his head
too high for common fellows. The teachers especially liked him; for he
is awfully bright, and took honors right along."

The next day Malcom brought his friend to his mother, whose heart he won
at once by his evident delicate health, his gentlemanly manners, and,
perhaps most of all, because he had been an orphan for years, and was so
much alone in the world. She decided to welcome him to her home, and to
give him the companionship of her young people.

Howard Sinclair was a young man of brilliant intellectual promise. He
had inherited most keen sensibilities, an almost morbid delicacy of
thought, a variable disposition, and a frail body. Both father and
mother died before he was ten years of age, leaving a large fortune for
him, their only child; and, since then, his home had been with an aged
grandmother. Without any young companions in the home, and lacking
desire for activity, he had given himself up to an almost wholly
sedentary life. The body, so delicate by nature, had always been made
secondary to the alert mind. His luxurious tastes could all be
gratified, and thus far he had lived like some conservatory plant.

The very darling of his grandmother's heart, it was like death to her to
part from him when the physicians decided that to save his life it was
an imperative necessity that he should live for a a time in a warmer
climate. It was an utter impossibility for her to accompany him. He
shrank from any other companion, therefore had set forth with only his
faithful John, who had been an old servant in the family before he was
born, as valet. He went first to Egypt, where he had remained as long as
the heat would permit, then had gone northwest to the Italian lakes and
Switzerland, whence he had now come to spend a time in Florence.

Lonely, homesick, and disheartened, it was indeed like a "gift of the
gods" to him when one day, as he was leaving his banker's on Via
Tornabuoni he met the familiar face of Malcom Douglas. And when he was
welcomed to his old schoolmate's home and family circle, the weary young
man felt for the first time in many months the sensation of rest and
peace.

His evident lack of physical strength, and the quickly coming and going
color in his cheeks, told Mrs. Douglas that he could never know perfect
health; but he said that the change of country and climate had already
done him much good, and this encouraged him to think of staying from
home a year or two in the hope that then all danger of active disease
might have passed.

He so evidently longed for companionship that Malcom and the girls told
him of their life,--of their Italian lessons,--their reading,--Mr.
Sumner's talks about Italian painting,--Malcom's private college studies
(which he had promised his mother to pursue if she would give him this
year abroad), and all that which was filling their days. He was
especially interested in their lessons on the Italian masters of
painting, and asked if they would permit him to join them.

"If you will only come to me when you have any trouble with your Greek
and Latin, Malcom," he said, "perhaps I can repay you in the slightest
degree for the wonderful pleasure this would give me."

So as Mr. Sumner was willing, his little class received the addition of
Howard Sinclair.

"Why so sober, Malcom?" asked his mother, as she found him alone by
himself. "Is not the arrangement that your friend join you agreeable?"

"Oh, yes, mother, he is a nice fellow, though a sort of a prig, and I
wish to do all we can for him; only--I do hope he will not monopolize
Betty and Barbara always, as he has seemed to do this afternoon."

"My boy, beware of that little green imp we read of," laughed Mrs.
Douglas. "You have been too thoroughly 'monarch of all' thus far. Can
you not share your realm with this homesick young man?"

"But he has always had all for himself, mother. He does not know what it
is to share."

"Malcom! be yourself."

The mother's eyes looked straight up into those of her tall boy, and her
hand sought his with a firm, warm pressure that made him fling back his
noble young head with an emphatic "I am ashamed of myself! Thank you,
mother dear."

That evening, as all were sitting on the balcony watching the soft, rosy
afterglow that was creeping over the hills and turning to glowing points
the domes and spires of the fair city, Mr. Sumner said:--

"If you are willing, I would like to talk with you a little before we
make our visits to Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce to-morrow. You
will understand better the old pictures we shall see there if we
consider beforehand what we ought to look for in any picture or other
work of art. Too many go to them as to some sort of recreation,--simply
for amusement,--simply to gratify their love for beautiful color and
form, and so, to these, the most beautiful picture is always the best.
But this is a low estimate of the great art of painting, for it is
simply one of man's means of expression, just as music or poetry is. The
artist learns to compose his pictures, to draw his forms, to lay on his
colors, just as the poet learns the meanings of words, rhetorical
figures, and the laws of harmony and rhythm, or the musician his notes
and scales and harmonies of sound."

"I see this is a new thought to you," continued he, after a moment spent
in studying the faces about him. "Let us follow it. What is the use of
this preparation of study in art, poetry, or music? Is it solely for the
perfection of itself? We often hear nowadays the expression, 'art for
art's sake,' and by some it is accounted a grand thought and a noble
rallying-cry for artists. And so it truly is if the very broadest and
highest possible meaning is given to the word 'art.' If it means the
embodying of some noble, beautiful, soul-moving thought in a form that
can be seen and understood, and means nothing less than this, then it is
indeed a worthy motto. But to too many, I fear, it means only the
painting of beauty for beauty's sake. That is, the thought embodied, the
message to some soul, which every picture ought to contain, and which
every noble picture that is worthy to live _must_ contain, becomes of
little or no value compared with the play of color and light and form.

"Let me explain further," he went on, even more earnestly. "Imagine that
we are looking at a picture, and we admire exceedingly the perfection of
drawing its author has displayed,--the wonderful breadth of
composition,--the harmony of color-masses. The moment is full of keen
enjoyment for us; but the vital thing, after all, is, what impression
shall we take away with us. Has the picture borne us any message? Has it
been either an interpretation or a revelation of something? Shall we
remember it?"

"But is not simple beauty sometimes a revelation, Mr. Sumner?" asked
Barbara,--"as in a landscape, or seascape, or the painting of a child's
face?"

"Certainly, if the artist has shown by his work that this beauty has
stirred depths of feeling in himself, and his effort has been to reveal
what he has felt to others. If you seek to find this in pictures you
will soon learn to distinguish between those (too many of which are
painted to-day) whose only excellence lies in trick of handling or
cunning disposition of color-masses,--because these things are all of
which the artist has thought,--and those that have grown out of the
highest art-desire, which is to bear some message of the restfulness,
the power, the beauty, or the innocence of nature to the hearts of other
men.

"And there is one thing more that we must not forget. There may be
pictures with bad _motifs_ as well as good ones--weak and simple ones,
as well as strong and holy ones--and yet they may be full of all
artistic qualities of representation. What is true with regard to
literature is true in respect to art. It is, after all, the _message_
that determines the degree of nobility.

    "Art was given for that. God uses us to help each other so,
    Lending our minds out.

wrote Mr. Browning, and we should always endeavor to find out whether
the artist has loaned his mind or merely his fingers and his knowledge
of the use of his materials. If we find thought in his picture, we
should then ask to what service he has put it.

"If a poem consist only of words and rhythms, how long do you think it
ought to live? And if a picture possess merely forms and colors, however
beautiful they may be, it deserves no more fame. And how much worse if
there be meaning, and it be base and unworthy!"

"Does he not put it well?" whispered Malcom to Bettina from his usual
seat between her and Margery. "I feel as if he were pouring new
thoughts into me."

"Now, the one thing I desire to impress upon you to-night," continued
Mr. Sumner, "is that these old masters of painting who lived in the
thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries had messages to give
their fellow-men. Their great endeavor was to interpret God's word to
them,--you know that in those days and in this land there was no Bible
open to the common people,--and what we must chiefly look for in their
pictures is to see whether or not they told the message as well as the
limitation of their art-language permitted.

"At first, no laws of perspective were known. None knew how to draw
anything correctly. No color-harmonies had been thought of. These men
must needs stammer when they tried to express themselves; but as much
greater as thought is than the mere expression of it so much greater are
many of their works, in the true sense, than the mass of pictures that
make up our exhibitions of the present day.

"Then, also, it is a source of the deepest interest to one who loves
this art to watch its growth in means of expression--its steady
development--until, finally, we find the noblest thoughts expressed in
perfect forms and coloring. This we can do here in Florence as nowhere
else, for the Florentine school of painting was the first of importance
in Italy.

"So," he concluded, "do not look for beauty in these pictures which we
are first to study; instead of it, you will find much ugliness. But
strive to put yourselves into the place of the old artists, to feel as
they felt. See what impelled them to paint. Recognize the feebleness of
their means of expression. Watch for indications in history of the
effect of their pictures upon the people. Strive to find originality in
them, if it be there, for this quality gives a man's work a certain
positive greatness wherever we find it; and so learn to become worthy
judges of that which you study. Soon, like me, you will look with pity
on those who can see nothing worthy of a second glance in these
treasures of the past.

"There! I have preached you a sermon, I am afraid. Are you tired?" and
his bright glance searched the faces about him.

Their expression would have been satisfactory without the eager
protestations that answered his question.

When, a little later, Barbara and Bettina, each seated before her dainty
toilet-table, were brushing their hair, they, as usual, chatted about
the events of the day. Never had there been so much to talk over and so
little time to do it in as during these crowded weeks, when pleasure and
study were hand in hand. For though they read and studied, yet there
were drives, and receptions in artists' studios, and, because of Robert
Sumner's long residence in Florence, they had even begun to receive
invitations to small and select parties, where they met charming people.

This very morning they had driven with Mrs. Douglas through some of the
oldest parts of Florence. They were reading together George Eliot's
"Romola," and were connecting all its events with this city in which the
scenes are laid. Read in this way, it seemed like a new book to them,
and possessed an air of reality that awakened their enthusiasm as
nothing else could have done. And then in the afternoon had been the
meeting with the new friend; tea in the little garden behind the house;
and the evening on the balcony.

Naturally their conversation soon turned to Howard Sinclair.

"What a strange life for one so young!" said Bettina. "Malcom says there
is no limit to his wealth. He lives in the winter in one of those
grandest houses on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, and has summer houses
in two or three places. And yet how poor in many ways!" she continued
after a little pause--"so much poorer than we! No father and mother,--no
brothers and sisters,--and forced to leave his home because he is so
ill! Poor fellow! How do you like him, Bab? He seemed to admire you
sufficiently, for he hardly took his eyes from you."

"Like him?" slowly returned Barbara. "To tell the truth, Betty, I hardly
know. Somehow I feel strangely about him. I like him well enough so far,
but I believe I am a bit afraid, and whether it is of him or not, I
cannot tell. Somehow I feel as if things are going to be different from
what they have been, and--I don't know--I believe I almost wish Malcom
had not known him."

"Why, Bab dear! what do you mean? Don't be nervous; that is not like
you. Nothing could happen to make us unhappy while we are with these
dear people,--nothing, that is, if our dear ones at home are well. I
wish he had not stared at you so much with those great eyes, if it makes
you feel uncomfortable, but how he could have helped admiring you,
sister mine, is more than I know,--for you were lovely beyond everything
this afternoon;" and Betty impulsively sprang up to give her sister a
hug and a kiss.

"To change the subject," she added, "how did you like Mr. Sumner's talk
this evening?"

"Oh! more than words can tell! Betty, I believe, next to our own dear
papa, he is the grandest man alive. I always feel when he talks as if
nothing were too difficult to attempt; as if nothing were too beautiful
to believe. And he is so young too, in feeling; so wise and yet so full
of sympathy with all our young nonsense. He is simply perfect." And she
drew a long breath.

"I think so too; and he practises what he preaches in his own painting.
For don't you remember those pictures we saw in his studio the other
day? How he has painted those Egyptian scenes! A perfect tremor ran over
me as I felt the terrible, solemn loneliness of that one camel and his
rider in the limitless stretch of desert. I felt quite as he must have
felt, I am sure; and the desert will always seem a different thing to me
because I looked at that picture. And then that sweet, strong,
overcoming woman's face! How much she had lived through! What a lesson
of triumph over all weakness and sorrow it teaches! I am so thankful
every minute that dear Mrs. Douglas asked us to come with her, that our
darling papa and mamma allowed us to come, and that everything is so
pleasant in this dear, delightful Florence."

And Bettina fell asleep almost the minute her head rested on her
pillow, with a happy smile curving her beautiful lips.

But Barbara tossed long on the little white bed in the opposite corner
of the room. It was difficult to go to sleep, so many thoughts crowded
upon her. Finally she resolutely set herself to recall Mr. Sumner's
words of the evening. Then, as she remembered the little lingering of
his eyes upon her own as he bade his group of listeners good night, the
glad thought came, "He knows I am trying to learn, and that I appreciate
all he is doing for me," and so her last thought was not for the new
friend the day had brought, but for Robert Sumner.



Chapter V.

Straws Show which Way the Wind Blows.

    _Give these, I exhort you, their guerdon and glory
    For daring so much before they well did it_.

    --BROWNING.

[Illustration: SANTA MARIA NOVELLA, FLORENCE.]


It was a charming morning in early November when Mr. Sumner and his
little company of students of Florentine art gathered before the broad
steps which lead up to the entrance of Santa Maria Novella. The Italian
sky, less soft than in midsummer, gleamed brightly blue. The square
tower of the old Fiesole Cathedral had been sharply defined as they
turned to look at it when leaving their home; and Giotto's Campanile, of
which they had caught a glimpse on their way hither, shone like a white
lily in the morning sunlight. The sweet, invigorating air, the bustle of
the busy streets, the happiness of youth and pleasant expectancy caused
all hearts to beat high, and it was a group of eager faces that turned
toward the grand old church whose marble sides show the discoloration of
centuries.

At Mr. Sumner's invitation all sat on the steps in a sunny corner while
he talked of Cimabue,--the first great name in the history of Italian
painting,--the man who was great enough to dare attempt to change
conditions that existed in his time, which was the latter part of the
thirteenth century. He told them how, though a nobleman possessing
wealth and honor, he had loved painting and had given his life to it;
and how, having been a man arrogant of all criticism, he was fitted to
be a pioneer; to break from old traditions, and to infuse life into the
dead Byzantine art.

He told them how the people, ever quick to feel any change, were
delighted to recognize, in a picture, life, movement, and expression,
however slight. How, one day six hundred years ago, a gay procession,
with banners and songs, bore a large painting, the _Madonna and Child_,
from the artist's studio, quite a distance away, through the streets and
up to the steps on which they were sitting; and how priests chanting
hymns and bearing church banners came out to receive the picture.

"And through all these centuries it has here remained," he continued.
"It is, of course, scarred by time and dark with the smoke of incense.
When you look upon it I wish you would remember what I told you the
other evening about that for which we should look in a picture. Be
sympathetic. Put yourself in old Cimabue's place and in that of the
people who had known only such figures in painting as the _Magdalen_ you
saw last week in the Academy. Then, though these figures are so stiff
and almost lifeless, though the picture is Byzantine in character, you
will see beyond all this a faint expression in the Madonna's face, a
little life and action in the Christ-child, who holds up his tiny hand
in blessing.

"If you do not look for this you may miss it,--miss all that which gives
worth to Cimabue and his art. As thoughtful a mind as that of our own
Hawthorne saw only the false in it, and missed the attempt for truth;
and so said he only wished 'another procession would come and take the
picture from the church, and reverently burn it.' Ah, Malcom, I see your
eyes found that in your reading, and you thought in what good company
you might be."

"What kind of painting is it?" queried Barbara, as a few minutes later
they stood in the little chapel, and looked up at Cimabue's quaint
_Madonna and Child_.

"It is called _tempera_, and is laid upon wood. In this process the
paints are mixed with some glutinous substance, such as the albumen of
eggs, glue, etc., which causes them to adhere to the surface on which
they are placed."

"What do you think was the cause of Cimabue's taking such an advance
step, Mr. Sumner?" asked Howard Sinclair, after a pause, during which
all studied the picture.

"It must have been a something caught from the spirit of the time. A
stir, an awakening, was taking place in Italy. Dante and Petrarch were
in a few years to think and write. The time had come for a new art."

"I do see the difference between this and those Academy pictures," said
Bettina, "even though it is so queer, and painted in such colors."

"And I," "And I," quickly added Barbara and Margery.

"I think those angels' faces are interesting," continued Barbara. "They
are not all just alike, but look as if each had some thought of his own.
They seem proud of their burden as they hold up the Madonna and Child."

"Oh, nonsense, Barbara! you are putting too much imagination in there,"
exclaimed Malcom. "I think old Cimabue did do something, but it is an
awfully bad picture, after all. There is one thing, though; it is not so
flat as that Academy _Magdalen_. The child's head seems round, and I do
think his face has a bit of expression."

So they looked and chatted on, and took little note of coming and going
tourists, who glanced with curiosity from them to the old dark picture
above, and then back to the fresh, eager, beautiful faces,--the greater
part ever finding in the latter the keener attraction.

"I always have one thought when I look at this," finally said Mr.
Sumner, "that perhaps will be interesting to you, and linger in your
minds. This _Madonna and Child_ seems to form a link and also to mark a
division between all those which went before it in Christian art and all
those that have followed. It is the last Byzantine Madonna and is the
first of the long, noble list which has come from the hands of artists
who have lived since the thirteenth century.

"We will not stay here longer now, for I know you will come again more
than once to study it. There is much valuable historic art in this
church which you will understand better when you have learned more.
Yonder in the Strozzi Chapel is some of the very best work of an old
painter called Orcagna, while here in the choir are notable frescoes by
Ghirlandajo; but now I shall take you down these steps between the two
into the cloister and there we will talk of Giotto. I know how busy you
have been reading about this wonderful old master, for I could not help
hearing snatches of your talk about him all through the past week. His
figure looms up most important of all among the early painters of
Florence. You know how Cimabue, clad in his scarlet robe and hood,
insignia of nobility, riding out one day to a little town lying on one
of yonder blue hills, found a little, dark-faced shepherd-boy watching
his father's sheep, and amusing himself by drawing a picture of one,
with only a sharp stone for a pencil. Interested in the boy, he took
pains to visit his father and gain his permission to take him as a pupil
to Florence. So Giotto came to begin his art-life. What are you thinking
of, little Margery?"

"Only a bit of Dante's writing which I read with mother the other day,"
said she, blushing. "I was thinking how little Cimabue then thought that
this poor, ignorant shepherd-boy would ever cause these lines to be
written:--

    "Cimabue thought to lord it over painting's field:
    But now the cry is _Giotto_, and his name's eclipsed."

"Yes, indeed! Giotto did eclipse his master's fame, for he went so much
farther,--but only in the same path, however; so we must not take from
Cimabue any of the honor that is due him. But for Giotto the old
Byzantine method of painting on all gold backgrounds was abolished. This
boy, though born of peasants, was not only gifted with keen powers of
observation of nature and mankind and a devotion to the representation
of things truly as they are, but, beyond and above all this, with one
other quality that made his work of incalculable worth to the people
among whom he painted. This was a delicate appreciation of the true
relations between earthly and spiritual things.

"Before him, as we have seen, all art was most unnatural and
monastic,--utterly destitute of sympathy with the feelings of the common
people. Giotto changed all this. He made the Christ-child a loving baby;
the Madonna a loving mother into whose joy and suffering all mothers'
hearts could enter; angels were servants of men; miracles were wrought
by God because He loved and desired to help men; the pictured men and
women were like themselves because they smiled and grieved and acted
even as they did. All this change Giotto made in the spirit of pictures;
and in the ways of painting he also wrought a complete revolution.
'There are no such things as gold backgrounds in nature,' he said; 'I
will have my people out of doors or in their homes.' And so he painted
the blue sky and rocks and trees and grass, and dressed his men and
women in pure, fresh colors, and represented them as if engaged in home
duties in the house or in the field. He introduced many characters into
his story pictures,--angel visitants, neighbors, wandering shepherds,
and even domestic animals. He brought the art of painting _down_ into
the minds and hearts of all who looked upon them."

"I never have realized until lately," said Barbara, "how painting can be
made a source of education and pleasure to everybody. It is so different
here from what it is at home, especially because the churches are full
of pictures. There we go into the art museums or the galleries of
different art-clubs,--the only places where pictures are to be
found,--and meet only those people that can afford luxuries; and so the
art itself seems a luxury. But here I have seen such poor, sad-looking
people, who seem to forget all their miseries in looking at some
beautiful sacred picture. Only the other day I overheard a poor woman,
whose clothes were wretched and who had one child in her arms and
another beside her, trying to explain a picture to them, and she
lingered and lingered before it, and then turned away with a pleased,
restful face."

"Yes, it is the spirit of pictures and their truth to nature that appeal
to the mass of people here," replied Mr. Sumner, "and so it must be
everywhere. I have been very glad to read in my papers from home that
free art exhibitions have been occasionally opened in the poor quarters
of our cities. Should the movement become general, as I hope it will,
it must work good in more than one direction. Not only could those who
have hitherto been shut out from this means of pleasure and education
receive and profit by it, but the art itself would gain a wholesome
impulse. A new class of critics would be heard--those unversed in
art-parlance--who would not talk of line, tone, color-harmonies and
technique, but would go to the very heart of picture and painter; and I
think the truest artists would listen to them and so gain something.

"But we must get to Giotto again. I have told you what he tried to
paint, but you will see that he could not do all this in the least as if
he had been taught in our art-schools of to-day. How little could
Cimabue teach him! His hills and rocks are parodies of nature. He knew
not how to draw feet, and would put long gowns or stockings on his
people so as to hide his deficiency. He never could make a lying-down
figure look flat. But how he could accomplish all that he did in his
pictures is more than any one can explain.

"We will now look behind this grand tomb at the foot of the stairs and
find two of Giotto's frescoes. There you see the pictures--the _Birth of
the Virgin_ and the _Meeting of St. Joachim and St. Anna_, the father
and mother of the Virgin. Do you know the story of these saints?"

"Yes," answered Malcom, "Betty read it to us last evening, for, you
see, uncle, we had been dipping just a bit, so as not to get below our
depth, into Mr. Ruskin's 'Mornings in Florence'; so we ought to be able
to understand something here, if anywhere, oughtn't we?"

"Well, look and see what you can find! I wonder what will appeal first
to each one of you!"

After a few minutes of complete silence Mr. Sumner said: "Margery dear,
I wonder what you are thinking of?"

"I am thinking, Uncle, that, just as Mr. Ruskin says, I cannot help
seeing the baby in this picture. At whatever part I look my eyes keep
coming back to the dear little thing wrapped up so clumsily, whom the
two nurses are tending so lovingly and with such reverence."

"Yes, my dear, old Giotto knew how to make the chief thing in his
pictures seem to be the most important; something that not all of us
artists of to-day know how to do by any means."

"But the pictures are so queer!" burst forth Malcom. "I do see some of
the fine things of which you speak, Uncle Robert, but there are so many
almost ridiculous things; the shepherds that are following St.
Joachim--do look at the feet of the first one; and the second has on
stockings. I can see the different lines that poor old Giotto drew when
he was struggling over those first feet; I wonder if he put the others
into stockings just to save trying to draw them. And the funny lamb in
the arms of the first shepherd; and the queer, stiff sprigs of grass
which are growing up in all sorts of places! and the angel coming out of
the cloud! and--"

"Do stop, Malcom," cried Bettina, "just here at the angel! Why! I think
he is perfectly beautiful with one hand on St. Joachim's head and the
other on St. Anna's. He is blessing them and drawing them together and
forgiving, all in one."

"And the people, all of them! just look at the people!" cried Barbara,
impetuously. "Each one is thinking of something, and I seem to know what
it is! How could--" But her voice faltered, and stopped abruptly.

"It is not difficult to understand what Howard is thinking of,"
whispered Malcom in Bettina's ear. "Did you see what a look he gave
Barbara? I don't believe she likes it."

Mr. Sumner, turning, surprised the same look in the young man's eyes and
gave a quick, inquiring glance at the fair, flushed face of Barbara. He
felt annoyed, without knowing exactly why. A new and foreign element had
been introduced into the little group, whose influence was not to be
transient.

After a few more words, in which he told them to notice the type of
Giotto's faces--the eyes set near together, their too great length,
though much better in this respect than Cimabue's, and the broad,
rounded chins--they turned away.

"We have seen all we ought to stay here for to-day, and now we will
drive over to Santa Croce. There are also notable frescoes by Giotto in
Assisi, and especially in the Arena Chapel, Padua. Perhaps we may see
them all by and by."

On leaving the church, Bettina looked back, saying:--

"This is the church that Michael Angelo used to call 'his bride.'"

"Used to," laughed Malcom. "You have gone back centuries this morning,
Betty."

"I feel so. I should not be one bit surprised to meet some of these old
artists right here in the Piazza on their way to their work."

"Let us go over to Santa Croce by way of the Duomo, and through Piazza
Signoria, Uncle," said Margery. "I am never tired of those little,
narrow, crooked streets."

"Yes, that will be a good way; for then we shall go right past Giotto's
Campanile, and though you have seen it often you will look upon it with
especial interest just now, when we are studying his work."

At Santa Croce they were to meet Mrs. Douglas by appointment; and as
they pressed on through the broad nave, lined on either side by massive
monuments to Florence's great dead, they espied her at the entrance of
the Bardi Chapel in conversation with a lady whose slender figure and
bright, animated face grew familiar to the young people of the steamship
as they approached; for it was the Miss Sherman whom Barbara and Bettina
had admired so much on the _Kaiser Wilhelm_, and whom, with her father
and sister, they had met once before in this same church.

Coming rapidly forward, Mrs. Douglas introduced her companion.

"She is alone in Florence," she explained to her brother a moment later
when the others had passed on, "for her father has been suddenly
summoned home, and her sister has accompanied him. She is a bright,
charming young woman, who loves art dearly, and I am sure we all shall
like her. I felt drawn to her as we talked together several times on our
way over. I think we must have her with us all we can."

After an hour spent in the Bardi and Peruzzi Chapels, whose walls are
covered with Giotto's frescoes, the little group separated. Malcom,
Margery, Barbara, and Bettina walked home along the Via dei Pinti, or
Street of the Painters. While the others chatted, Barbara was unusually
silent. She was thinking how much she had learned that morning, and
exulted in the knowledge that there was not quite so vast a difference
between herself and Miss Sherman as existed the last time they met in
Santa Croce.

For Barbara had entered into the study of this subject with an almost
feverish fervor of endeavor. Though she felt there was much to enjoy and
to learn all about her, yet nothing seemed so important as a knowledge
of the old painters and their pictures; and the longing to be able to
think and to speak with some assurance of them haunted her continually.

Bettina sometimes looked at her sister with wonder as she would sit hour
after hour poring over Mr. Sumner's books.

"I always thought _I_ loved pictures best," she thought; "but Bab cares
more for these old ones than I do."



Chapter VI.

Lucile Sherman.

    _In life's small things be resolute and great
    To keep thy muscle trained; Knowest thou when Fate
    Thy measure takes? Or when she'll say to thee,
    "I find thee worthy. Do this deed for me?_"

    --LOWELL.

[Illustration: A GLIMPSE OF FLORENCE.]


The tourist who devotes a few days to Florence, or a few weeks even, can
have no conception of what it means to live in this city; to awake
morning after morning and look out upon the lines of her hills and catch
glimpses of their distant blues and purples; to be free to wander about
at will through her streets, every one of which is crowded with legend
and romance; to look upon her palaces and churches, about which cluster
so many deeds of history; to visit the homes of her immortal men--poets
and artists; to walk step by step instead of whirling along in a
carriage; and to grow to feel a close intimacy with her sculptures and
paintings, and even with the very stones that are built into her palace
walls.

For Florence is comparatively a small city. A good pedestrian can easily
walk from Porta Romana on the south to Porta Gallo on the north; or
from Porta San Niccolo on the east, along the banks of the Arno, to the
Cascine Gardens on the west. It is only an afternoon of genuine delight
to climb the lovely, winding ways leading up to San Miniato, or to
Fiesole, or to the Torre del Gallo,--the "Star Tower of Galileo." And
what a feeling of possession one has for a road which he has travelled
foot by foot; for the rocks and trees and vine-covered walls, and the
ever-changing views which continually demand attention! One absorbs and
assimilates as in no other way.

So when, at breakfast one morning, Mr. Sumner suggested a walk up to
Fiesole, a picnic lunch at the top in the grounds of the old monastery,
and the whole day there, coming down at sunset, his proposition met with
delighted assent. It was planned that Mrs. Douglas should take a
carriage, and invite Miss Sherman and Howard Sinclair to go with her,
but the others were ready and eager for the walk. Anita, the little
housemaid, was to accompany them and carry the luncheon, and she was on
tiptoe with joy, because a whole day under the open sky is the happiest
fortune possible for an Italian girl; and, besides this, they would have
to pass close by her own home, and perhaps her little brother could go
with her.

All felt a peculiar affection for Fiesole, because from the house in
which they were living they could look right out upon the historic old
city nestling into the hollow of the hill-top, and watch its changing
lights and shadows, and say "good morning" and "good night" to it.

Barbara and Bettina had often tried to fancy what life there was like so
many centuries ago, when the city was rich and powerful; and afterward,
when the old Romans had taken possession of it, and the ruined
amphitheatre was whole and noisy with games; or in later times, when the
venerable Cathedral was fresh and new. They felt a kind of pity for the
forlorn old place, peopled with so much wrinkled age, and forever
looking down upon all the loveliness and treasures of the fair Florence
which had grown out from her own decay.

As the party left the house, and, before disappearing from the view of
Mrs. Douglas, who stood watching them, turned and waved their hands, she
thought that she had not seen her brother looking so young, care-free,
and happy for many years.

"This is doing Robert a world of good," said she to herself. "Those who
have heretofore been only children to him are now companions, and he is
becoming a boy again with them. Oh! if he could only throw off the
morbid feeling he has had about going back to America to live, and
return with us, and be happy and useful there, how delightful it would
be!"

Second only in the life of Mrs. Douglas to the great loss of her husband
had been the separation from this dearly loved brother, and it was one
of the strongest wishes of her heart that he should come back to his
native land. To have him living near her and experiencing the delights
of home life had been a long dream of whose realization she had wellnigh
despaired, as year after year had passed and he had still lingered in
foreign lands. Now, as she turned from the window and went back into the
large, sunny rooms, so quiet with the young people all gone, her
thoughts lingered upon her brother, and into them came the remembrance
of the sweet-faced Miss Sherman, whom they had met yesterday and who
seemed destined to come more or less into their lives.

"Perhaps"--she thought, and smiled at her thought so evidently born of
her wish; and then hastened to despatch a message to Miss Sherman and
Howard, lest she might miss them.

Lucile Sherman differed somewhat in character from the impression she
had made upon Mrs. Douglas. Lovely in face and figure, gifted with
winning ways, possessed of a certain degree of culture, and very
desirous of gaining the friendship of cultured people, she was most
attractive on short acquaintance. An intimacy must always reveal her
limitations and show how she just missed the best because of the lack of
any definite, earnest purpose in her life,--of real sincerity and of the
slightest element of self-sacrifice, without which no character can grow
truly noble.

She was very dear unto herself, and was accustomed to take the measure
of all things according to the way in which they affected Lucile
Sherman. When her father, for whose health the present journey to Italy
had been primarily planned, was imperatively summoned home, her
disappointment was so overwhelmingly apparent that her sister Marion was
chosen to accompany him back to America, and Lucile was permitted to
spend the winter as she so much wished.

She was fond of society, of music, of literature and art; had seemingly
an enthusiastic admiration and desire for all things good and true, and
thought she embodied all her desires; but these were ever a little too
languid to subdue the self-love and overcome the inertia of all high
principles of life. It is not difficult to understand her, for the world
has many such,--in whom there is nothing really bad, only they have
missed the best.

On board the steamship, she had been much attracted by the little party
from Boston, and had made advances toward Mrs. Douglas; and when, on
that day so soon after reaching Florence, she had met Mr. Sumner and the
young people in Santa Croce, her remark that it was worth a journey from
America just to see Giotto's frescoes there--the remark that had won a
look of interest from Mr. Sumner, and that poor Barbara had brooded over
because it had caused her to feel so sorely her own ignorance--had been
spoken with the design that it should be overheard by that
distinguished-looking man who, she felt sure, must be the artist-brother
whom Mrs. Douglas had come to Italy to meet; and though she did enjoy
the old Florentine masters very much indeed, yet she had haunted the
churches and galleries a little more persistently than she would
otherwise have done, in the hope that fortune might some day favor her
by granting a meeting with Mrs. Douglas and her brother. All things come
to those who wish and wait; and so the time came when Mrs. Douglas found
her in Santa Croce, and the desired introduction and invitations were
given.

When, therefore, the request that she join the picnic party on Fiesole
reached her, and was soon followed by Mrs. Douglas's carriage, Miss
Sherman's satisfaction knew no bounds. The lovely eyes, that Barbara and
Bettina had so much admired, were more softly brilliant than ever in
their expression of happiness, and Mrs. Douglas looked the admiration
she felt for her young companion.

Meanwhile, Mr. Sumner, Malcom, Margery, Barbara, and Bettina had
gloriously enjoyed the walk out of the city through Porta Gallo, along
the banks of the Mugello, up the first slope of the hill, past Villa
Palmieri, and upward to San Domenico,--church and monastery,--which
stands about half way to the top.

Here they stopped to rest, and to talk for a few minutes about Fra
Angelico, the painter-monk, whose name has rendered historic every spot
on which he lived.

Mr. Sumner told them very briefly how two young men--brothers, hardly
more than boys--had come hither one day from the country over yonder,
the same country where Giotto had lived when a child, about one hundred
years before, and had become monks in this monastery. "They took the
names of Giovanni and Benedetto; and Giovanni, or John, as it is in
English, was afterward called Fra Angelico by his brethren because his
life was so holy, or because, as some say, he painted angels more pure
and beautiful than have ever been pictured before or since. He lived
here many years before he was transferred with his brethren to the
monastery of San Marco down in Florence, and painted several pictures in
this church, only a part of one of which is remaining. Little did the
young monk think, as he painted here in humility, that one day
emissaries from the great unknown world would come hither, cut his
frescoes out of the walls, and bear them away to foreign art galleries,
there to be treasured beyond all price."

They went into the church to give a look at the remaining picture over
the altar in the choir, a _Virgin with Saints and Angels_, the lower
part, or predella, of which is now in the National Gallery, London; but
Mr. Sumner said they must not stay long, for this was not the object of
the day. Since, however, Fra Angelico was to be their next subject of
study, he wished them to know all about him they possibly could before
going to San Marco to really study his pictures.

Lingering on the terrace outside, they looked at the lovely Villa Landor
close at hand, where the English poet, Walter Savage Landor, spent
several years. Here Malcom quoted, in a quietly impressive way:--

    "From France to Italy my steps I bent,
    And pitcht at Arno's side my household tent.
    Six years the Medicean Palace held
    My wandering Lares; then they went afield,
    Where the hewn rocks of Fiesole impend
    O'er Doccia's dell, and fig and olive blend."

"How did you come to know that?" asked Margery, the usual poetry quoter.

"I didn't have to go far for it. I came across it in my 'Hare's
Florence,' and I rather think the quaint fancy of the _Lares_ 'going
afield' caught my attention so that I cannot lose the words."

"It is easier to think how one must write poetry in such a lovely spot
than how one could help it," said Bettina, with shining eyes.

"Or could help painting pictures," added Barbara. "Just look at the
colors of sky, hills, and city. No wonder Fra Angelico thought of angels
with softly glittering wings and dressed in exquisite pinks and violets,
when he lived here day after day."

"Just wait, though, until we come down at sunset," said Mr. Sumner.
"This is indeed beautiful, but then it will be most beautiful, and you
can enjoy the changing colors of sunset over Florence, as seen from
Fiesole, far better as we loiter along on the road, as we shall do
to-night, than when in a carriage, as we were two or three weeks ago. Of
course, there is less color now than in summer, yet it will be
glorious, I am sure. We are most fortunate in our choice of a day, for
it is warm, with a moisture in the atmosphere that veils forms and
enriches color. We should call it 'Indian summer' were we at home."

Before they had quite reached the old city at the top, the carriage
containing Mrs. Douglas, Miss Sherman, and Howard overtook them, and the
latter sprang out to join the walking-party.

Such a day as followed! Lunch in the grove behind the ancient
Monastery!--visits to the ruined Amphitheatre, the Cathedral, and Museum
so full of all sorts of antiquities obtained from the excavations of
ancient Fiesole!--loitering in the spacious Piazza, where they were
beset by children and weather-beaten, brown old women, clamoring for
them to buy all sorts of things made of the straw there manufactured;
and everywhere magnificent views, either of the widely extended valley
of the Mugnone on the one side, or of Florence, lying in her amethystine
cup, on the other!

Finally, giving orders for the carriage to follow within a certain time,
so that any tired one might take it, all started down the hill. They
soon met a procession of young Franciscan monks, chanting a hymn as they
walked--their curious eyes stealing furtive glances at the beautiful
faces of the American ladies.

"I feel as if I were a part of the fourteenth century," said Miss
Sherman. "Surely Fra Angelico might be one of those passing us."

"Only he would have worn a white gown instead of a brown one," replied
Mrs. Douglas, smiling. "You know he was a Dominican monk, not
Franciscan."

"But look on the other side of the road," cried Malcom, "and hear the
buzzing of the wires! an electric tramway! Here meet the fourteenth and
the nineteenth centuries!"

In a minute it all had happened. Just how, no one knew. An agonized
scream from the little maid, Anita, who was walking behind them, a
momentary sight of the tiny, brown-faced Italian boy, her brother, right
in the pathway of the swinging car as it rounded the curve--Malcom's
spring--and then the boy and himself lying out on the roadside against
the wall.

The vigorous crying of the little boy as he rushed into his sister's
arms, evinced his safety, but there was a quiet about Malcom that was
terrifying.

He had succeeded in throwing the child beyond the reach of the car, but
had himself been struck by it, and consciousness was gone.

The little group, so happy a moment before, now hung over him in silent
fear and agony. Howard hastened back to get the carriage, and returned
to find Malcom slowly struggling to awaken, but when moved, he again
fainted; and so, lying in his uncle's arms, with his pale mother and
tearful Margery sitting in front, and the others, frightened and
sympathetic, hurrying behind, Malcom was brought home through the
wonderful sunset glow upon which not one bestowed a single thought.



Chapter VII.

A Startling Disclosure.

                       '_Tis even thus:
    In that I live I love; because I love
    I live: Whate'er is fountain to the one
    Is fountain to the other._

    --TENNYSON.

[Illustration: CLOISTER, MUSEUM OF SAN MARCO, FLORENCE.]


Many days of great distress followed. Everything else was forgotten in
the tense waiting. There were moments of half consciousness when
Malcom's only words were "All right, mother." It seemed as if even in
that second of plunging to save the child he yet thought of his mother,
and realized how she would feel his danger. But happily, as time wore
on, the jarred brain recovered from the severe shock it had received,
and gradually smiles took the place of anxious, questioning looks, and
merry voices were again heard, and the busy household life was resumed.

Although Malcom could not accompany them, the proposed visit to the old
monastery, San Marco, for study of Fra Angelico's paintings was made by
the others.

As they wandered through the long corridors, chapel, refectory, and the
many little cells, now vacant, from the walls of which look forth soft,
fair faces and still fresh, sweet colors laid there almost five hundred
years ago by the hand of the painter-monk, they talked of his devotion,
of his unselfish life and work; of his rejection of payment for his
painting, doing it unto God and not unto men. They talked of his
beginning all his work with prayer for inspiration, and how, in full
faith that his prayer had been answered, he absolutely refused to alter
a touch his brush had made; and of the old tradition that he never
painted Christ or the Virgin Mary save on his knees, nor a crucifixion
save through blinding tears; and their voices grew very quiet, and they
looked upon each fresco almost with reverence.

"Fra Angelico stood apart from the growth of art that was taking place
about him," said Mr. Sumner. "He neither affected it nor was affected by
it. We should call him to-day an 'ecstatic painter'--one who paints
visions; the Italians then called him 'Il Beato,' the blessed. There are
many other works by him,--although a great part, between forty and
fifty, are here. You remember the _Madonna and Child_ you saw in the
Uffizi Gallery the other day, on whose wide gold frame are painted those
angels with musical instruments that are reproduced so widely and sold
everywhere. You recognized them at once, I saw. Then, a few pictures
have been carried away and are in foreign art galleries, as I told you
the other day. During the last years of his life the Pope sent for him
to come to Rome, and there he painted frescoes on the walls of some
rooms in the Vatican Palace. From that city he went to Orvieto, a little
old city perched on the top of a hill on the way from Florence to Rome,
in whose cathedral he painted a noble _Christ_, with prophets, saints,
and angels. He died in Rome."

"And was he not buried here?" asked Barbara; "here in this lovely inner
court, where are the graves of so many monks?"

"No. He was buried in Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, a church close by the
Pantheon in Rome, and the Pope himself wrote his epitaph. But it is
indeed a great pity that he could not lie here, in the very midst of so
many of his works, and where he lived so long."

"Did Fra Angelico live before or after the prophet Savonarola, uncle?"
asked Margery. "We came here a little time ago with mother to visit the
latter's cell, and the church, in connection with our reading of
'Romola.'"

"He lived before Savonarola, about a hundred years. So that when
Savonarola used to walk about through these rooms and corridors, he saw
the same pictures we are now looking at."

       *       *       *       *       *

"I say, uncle, don't you think I am having the best part of this, after
all?" brightly asked Malcom, the following day, as Mr. Sumner entered
the wide sunny room where he was lying on the sofa, propped up by
cushions, while Barbara, Bettina, and Margery were clustered about him
with their hands full of photographs of Fra Angelico's paintings, and
all trying to talk at once. "The girls have told me everything; and I am
almost sure I shall never mistake a Fra Angelico picture. I know just
what expression he put into his faces, just how quiet and
as-if-they-never-could-be-used his hands are, and how straight the folds
of his draperies hang, even though the people who wear them are dancing.
I know what funny little clouds, like bundles of cigars, his Madonnas
sit upon up in the heavens.

"I am not quite sure, uncle dear, but I like your instructions best when
second-hand," he laughingly added. "Betty has made me fairly love the
old fellow by her stories of his unearthly goodness. Was it not fine to
refuse money for his work, and to decline to be made archbishop when the
Pope asked him; and to recommend a brother monk for the office? I think
he ought to be called _Saint_ Angelico."

[Illustration: FRA ANGELICO. UFFUZI GALLERY, FLORENCE.

GROUP OF ANGELS. FROM CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN.]

"Some people have called him the 'St. John of Art,'" Mr. Sumner
replied, with a bright smile at Malcom's enthusiasm. "I am not sure but
yours is the better name, however."

About this time people who frequented the Cascine Gardens and other
popular drives in and about Florence began to notice with interest an
elegant equipage containing a tall, slender, pale young man, two
beautiful, brown-eyed girls, and oftentimes either a gray-haired woman
in black or a sunny-haired young girl. It had been purchased by Howard,
and daily he wished Barbara and Bettina to drive with him. Indeed, it
now seemed as if the young man's thoughts were beginning to centre
wholly in this household; and suddenly warned by a few words spoken by
Malcom, Mrs. Douglas became painfully conscious that a more than mere
friendly interest might prompt such constant and lavish attentions. With
newly opened eyes, she saw that while Howard generously gave to them all
of such things as he could in return for their hospitality, yet there
was a something different in his manner toward Barbara and Bettina.
Their room was always bright and fragrant with the most costly flowers,
and not a wish did they express but Howard was eager to gratify it.

She was troubled; and since the air of Florence was beginning to take
on the chill of winter--to become too cold for such an invalid as
Howard--she ventured one day, when they happened to be alone together,
to ask him if he would soon go farther south for the winter.

"Malcom told me you had stopped for only a time here on your way to the
south of Italy," she added.

The color rushed in a torrent over Howard's pale face, and he did not
speak for a minute; then, turning abruptly to her, said:--

"I cannot go away from Florence, Mrs. Douglas. Do you not see, do you
not know, how I have loved Barbara ever since I first saw her? You must
have seen it, for I have not been able sometimes to conceal my feelings.
They have taken complete possession of me. I think only of her day and
night. I have often thought I ought to tell you of it. Now, I am glad I
have. Do you not think she will sometime love me? She _must_. I could
not live without it." And his voice, which had trembled with excitement,
suddenly faltered and broke.

Poor Mrs. Douglas strove for words.

"You must not let her know this," she finally said. "She is only a
little girl whom her father and mother have entrusted to me. What would
they say if they knew how blind I have been! Why, you have known her
but a few weeks! You must be mistaken. It is a fancy. It will pass away.
Conquer yourself. Go away. Oh, do go away, Howard, for a time at least!"

"I cannot, I will not. Mrs. Douglas, I have never longed for a thing in
my life but it has come to me. I long for Barbara's love more than I
ever wished for any other thing in the world. She must give it to me.
Oh, were I only well and strong, I know I could compel it."

"Listen to me, Howard. I know that Barbara has never had one thought of
this. Her mind is completely occupied with her study, the pleasures and
the novelties that each day is bringing her. She does not conceal
anything. She has no reason to do so. She and Bettina are no silly girls
who think of a lover in every young man they meet. They are as sweet and
fresh and free from all sentimentalities as when they were children.
Barbara would be frightened could she hear you talk,--should she for a
moment suspect how you feel. You must conceal it; for your own sake, you
must."

"I will not show what I feel any more than I already have. I will not
speak to Barbara yet of my love. Only let me stay here, where I can see
her every day. Do not send me away. Mrs. Douglas, you do not know how
lonely my life has been--without brother or sister--without father or
mother. It has been like a bit of Paradise to go in and out of your
household; and to think--to hope that perhaps Barbara would sometime
love me and be with me always. My love has become a passion, stronger
than life itself. Look at me! Do you not believe my words, Mrs.
Douglas?"

As Mrs. Douglas lifted her eyes and looked full into the delicate,
almost transparent face so swept by emotion, and met the deathless fire
of Howard's brilliant eyes, she felt as never before the frailty of his
physical life, and wondered at the mighty force of his passionate will.
The conviction came that she was grappling with no slight feeling, but
with that which really might mean life or death to him.

An unfathomable sympathy filled her heart.

"I can talk no more," she said, gently taking in her own the young man's
hand. "I will accept your promise. Come and go as you have, dear Howard.
But always remember that very much depends on your keeping from Barbara
all knowledge of your love."

As soon as it was possible, Mrs. Douglas, as was her wont when in any
anxiety, sought a conference with her brother. After telling him all,
there was complete silence for a moment. Then Mr. Sumner said:--

"And Barbara,--how do you think Barbara feels? For she is not a child
any longer. How old were you, my sister, when you were married? Only
nineteen--and you told me yesterday that we must celebrate Barbara's and
Bettina's eighteenth birthday before very long, and Barbara is older
than her years--more womanly than most girls of her age."

"She has never had a thought of this, I am confident. Of course, she may
have known, have felt, Howard's admiration of her; but I doubt if the
child has ever in her life had the slightest idea of the possible
existence of any such feeling as he is cherishing. It is not ordinary,
Robert, it is overwhelming; you know we have seen his self-will shown in
many ways. The force of his emotion and will now is simply tremendous.
Few girls could withstand it if fully exposed to its influence. There is
all the more danger because the element of pity must enter in, because
he is so evidently frail and lonely. I feel that I have been greatly in
fault. I ought to have foreseen what might happen from admitting so
freely into our home a young man of Howard's age and circumstances. I
have never thought of Barbara and Betty otherwise than of my own
Margery, and I know nothing in the world has ever been farther from good
Dr. and Mrs. Burnett's minds than the possible involvement of one of
their girls in a love-affair.

"And now I must write them something of this," she added, with a sigh.
"It would not be right to keep secret even the beginnings of what might
prove to be of infinite importance. Of course Howard's family,
character, position, are above question; but his health, his exacting
nature; his lack of so many qualities Dr. Burnett considers essential;
the undesirability of such an entanglement! Oh! it would be only the
beginning of sorrows should Barbara grow to care for him."

Poor Mrs. Douglas's face showed the sudden weight of care that had been
launched upon her, as she anxiously asked:--

"What do you advise, Robert?"

"Nothing; only to go on just as we have been doing. Fill the days as
full as we can, and trust that all will be right. It is best never to
try to manage affairs, I believe."

And Barbara--how did Barbara feel? She could never have analyzed and put
into definite thought the inner life she was leading during these days.
Indeed, it is doubtful whether she had the slightest conception of the
change that was gradually working within her. But rapidly she was
putting away childish things, and "woman's lot" was coming fast upon
her. Mrs. Douglas would have been astounded, indeed, could she, with her
eyes of experience and wisdom, have looked into the heart of Barbara,
whom she still called "child." That which the young girl could not
understand would have been a revelation to her who had been a loving
wife. With what an overwhelming pity would she have hastened to restore
her to her parents before this hopeless love should grow any stronger,
and she become aware of its existence!

Dr. Burnett's admiration for Robert Sumner was unbounded. He had known
him from boyhood, and had always been his confidant, so far as an older
man can be with a younger. Many times he had talked to his children
about him--about his earnestness and sincerity of purpose--his high
aims, and his willingness to spare no pains to realize them.

Barbara, who, perhaps, had been more than any other of the children her
father's comrade, had listened to these tales and praises until Robert
Sumner had become her ideal of all that was noble. No one had dreamed of
such a thing, but so it was; and through all the excitement of
preparation and through the journey to Italy, one of her chief
anticipations had been to see this young man of whom her father had
talked so much, and, herself, to learn to know him. The story of his
marriage disappointment, which had led to his life abroad, and a notable
adventure in Egypt, in which he had saved a woman's life, had added just
that romance to his reputation as an artist and a writer on art that had
seized hold of the young girl's imagination.

Now, as she was daily with him in the home, saw his affectionate care
for his sister, Malcom, and Margery, and felt his good comradeship with
them all, while in every way he was teaching them and inspiring them to
do better things than they had yet accomplished, a passionate desire had
risen to make herself worthy of his approbation. She wished him to think
of her as more than a mere girl--the companion of none but the very
young. She wished to be his companion, and all that was ardent and
enthusiastic in her nature was beginning to rush, like a torrent that
suddenly finds an outlet, into the channels indicated by him.

She did not realize this. But the absorbing study she was giving to the
old pictures, the intensity of which was surprising to Bettina, was an
indication of it. Her quick endeavor to follow any line of thought
suggested by Mr. Sumner--and her restlessness when she saw the long
conversations he and Miss Sherman would so often hold, were others. It
seemed to her lately as if Miss Sherman were always claiming his time
and attention--even their visit to Santa Maria del Carmine to study the
frescoes by Masaccio, who was the next artist they were to learn about,
had been postponed because she wished Mrs. Douglas and Mr. Sumner to go
somewhere with her. Barbara did not like it very well.

But to Howard she gave little thought when she was away from him. He was
kind, his flowers were sweet, but they were all over the house,--given
to others as well as to herself. It was very good of him to take herself
and Betty in his fine new carriage so often; but, perhaps,--if he did
not so continually ask them,--perhaps,--they would oftener drive with
Mr. Sumner and Malcom; and she knew Betty would like that better, as
well as she herself.

She was often annoyed because he evidently "admired" her so much, as
Betty called it, and did wish he would not look at her as he sometimes
did; and she felt very sensitively the signs of irritation that were so
apparent in him when anything prevented them from being with him as he
wished. But she was very sorry for his loneliness; for his exile from
home on account of ill-health; for the weakness that he often felt and
for which no pleasures purchased by money could compensate. She was
grateful for his kindness, and would not wound him for the world; so she
frankly and graciously accepted all he gave, and, in return, tried to
bring all the happiness she could into his days.



Chapter VIII.

Howard's Questionings.

        _When the fight begins within himself,
    A man's worth something. God stoops o'er his head,
    Satan looks up beneath his feet--both tug--
    He's left, himself, i' the middle: the soul wakes
    And grows_.

    --BROWNING.

[Illustration: PONTE ALLA CARRAJA, FLORENCE.]


At last the morning came when the postponed visit to Santa Maria del
Carmine, on the other side of the Arno, was to be made. Miss Sherman had
so evidently desired to join in the study of the old painters that Mrs.
Douglas suggested to her brother that she be invited to do so, but he
had thought it not best.

"The others would not be so free to talk," he said. "I do not wish any
constraint. Now we are only a family party,--with the exception of
Howard, and I confess that I sometimes wish he did not join us in this."
Malcom was again with them, for the first time since they were at
Fiesole, and this was enough to make the occasion a particularly joyous
one.

The romantic mystery of Masaccio's short life and sudden, secret death,
and the wonderful advance that he effected in the evolution of Italian
painting of the fifteenth century, had greatly interested them as they
had read at home about him, and all were eager to see the frescoes.

"They are somewhat worn and dark," Mr. Sumner said, "and at first you
will probably feel disappointed. What you must particularly look for
here is that which you have hitherto found nowhere else,--the expression
of individuality in figures and faces. Giotto, you remember, sought to
tell some story; to illustrate some Bible incident so that it should
seem important and claim attention. Masaccio went to work in a wholly
different way. While Giotto would say to himself: 'Now I am going to
paint a certain Bible story; what people shall I introduce so that this
story shall best seem to be a real occurrence?' Masaccio would think: 'I
wish to make a striking picture of Peter and John, or any other sacred
characters. What story or incident shall I choose for representation
that will best show the individual characteristics of these men?'

"Possessing this great love for people, he studied the drawing of the
human figure as had never been done before in the history of Christian
art. At this time, more than a hundred years after Giotto, artists were
beginning to master the science of perspective drawing, and in
Masaccio's pictures we see men standing firmly on their feet, and put
upon different planes in the same picture; their figures well poised,
and true to anatomy. In one of them is his celebrated naked, shivering
youth, who is awaiting baptism,--the study of which wrought a revolution
in painting."

A little afterward they were standing in the dim Brancacci Chapel of
Santa Maria del Carmine, whose walls are covered with frescoes of scenes
in the lives of Christ and His apostles. They had learned that there was
an artist called Masolino, who, perhaps, had begun these frescoes, and
had been Masaccio's teacher; and that a young man called Filippino Lippi
had finished them some years after they had been left incomplete by
Masaccio's early death.

All were greatly impressed by the fact that so little can be known of
Masaccio, who wrought here so well; that even when, or how, or where he
died is a mystery; and yet his name is one of the very greatest in early
Italian art.

They talked of how the greatest masters of the High Renaissance--Michael
Angelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael--used to come here to study, and
thus this little chapel became a great art school; and how, at the
present time, it is esteemed by many one of the four most important
art-buildings in the world;--the others being, Arena Chapel, Padua,
where are Giotto's frescoes; Sistine Chapel, Rome, where are Michael
Angelo's greatest paintings; and Scuola di San Rocco, Venice, which is
filled with Tintoretto's work.

He then called their attention to the composition of Masaccio's
frescoes; asking them especially to notice that, while only a few people
are taking part in the principal scene, many others are standing about
interested in looking on; all, men with strongly marked
characteristics,--individual, and worthy of attention.

"May I repeat a verse or two of poetry right here where we stand,
uncle?" asked Margery. "It keeps saying itself in my mind. I think you
all know it and who wrote it, but that is all the better."

And in her own sweet way she recited James Russell Lowell's beautiful
tribute to Masaccio:--

    "He came to Florence long ago
    And painted here these walls, that shone
    For Raphael and for Angelo,
    With secrets deeper than his own,
    Then shrank into the dark again,
    And died, we know not how or when.

    "The darkness deepened, and I turned
    Half sadly from the fresco grand;
    'And is this,' mused I, 'all ye earned,
    High-vaulted brain and cunning hand,
    That ye to other men could teach
    The skill yourselves could never reach?'

       *       *       *       *       *

    "Henceforth, when rings the health to those
    Who live in story and in song,
    O, nameless dead, that now repose
    Safe in oblivion's chambers strong,
    One cup of recognition true
    Shall silently be drained to you!"

"But Masaccio does not need any other monument than this chapel. He is
not very badly off, I am sure, while this stands, and people come from
all over the world to visit it," exclaimed Malcom, as they left the
Brancacci Chapel, and walked slowly down the nave of the church.

"Is this all he painted?" asked Barbara.

"There is one other fresco in the cloister of this same church, but it
is sadly injured--indeed half obliterated," answered Mr. Sumner. "That
is all. But his influence cannot be estimated. What he, then a poor,
unknown young man, working his very best upon these walls, accomplished
for the great world of painting can never be measured. He surely wrought
'better than he knew.' This was because he, for the first time in the
history of modern painting, portrayed real life. All the
conventionalities that had hitherto clung, in a greater or less degree,
to painting, were dropped by him; and thus the way was opened for the
perfect representations of the High Renaissance which so soon followed.
We will next give some time to the study of the works of Ghirlandajo and
Botticelli, who, with Filippino Lippi, who finished these frescoes which
we have just been looking at, make a famous trio of Early Renaissance
painters."

After they had crossed Ponte alla Carraja, Margery said she wished to do
some shopping on Via dei Fossi, which was close at hand--that street
whose shop windows are ever filled with most fascinating groups of
sculptured marbles and bronzes, and all kinds of artistic
bric-a-brac--and begged her uncle to accompany her.

"I wish no one else to come," she said, with her own little, emphatic
nod.

"Oh, ho! secrets!" exclaimed Malcom; "so we must turn aside!"

"Do go to drive with me," begged Howard. "Here we are close to my hotel,
and I can have the team ready right off."

So they walked a few steps along the Lung' Arno to the pleasant, sunny
Hotel de la Grande Bretagne, which Howard had chosen for his Florentine
home, and soon recrossed the Arno, and swept out through Porta Romana
into the open country, behind Howard's beautiful gray horses.

The crisp, cool air brought roses into Barbara's and Bettina's cheeks,
and ruffled their pretty brown hair. Malcom was in high spirits after
his long confinement to the house, and Howard tried to throw off a
gloomy, discouraged feeling that had hung over him all the morning.
Seated opposite Barbara, and continually meeting her frank, steadfast
eyes, he seemed to realize as he had never before done the obvious truth
of Mrs. Douglas's words, when she had said that Barbara was perfectly
unconscious of his love for her; and all the manhood within him strove
to assert itself to resist an untimely discovery of his feeling, for
fear of the mischief it might cause.

Howard had been doing a great deal of new thinking during the past
weeks. He suddenly found himself surrounded by an atmosphere wholly
different from that in which he had before lived.

Sprung from an aristocratic and thoroughly egoistic ancestry on his
father's side, and a morbidly sensitive one on his mother's; brought up
by his paternal grandmother, whose every thought had been centred upon
him as the only living descendant of her family; surrounded by servants
who were the slaves of his grandmother's and his own whims; not even his
experience in the Boston Latin School, chosen because his father,
grandfather, and great-grandfather had been educated there, had served
to widen much the horizon of his daily living, or to make him anything
like a typical American youth.

Now, during the last two or three months he had been put into wholly
changed conditions. An habitual visitor to this family into whose life
he had accidentally entered, he had been a daily witness of Mrs.
Douglas's self-forgetting love, which was by no means content with
ministering to the happiness of her own loved home ones, but continually
reached out to an ever widening circle, blessing whomever it touched. He
could not be unconscious that every act of Robert Sumner's busy life was
directed by the desire to give of himself to help others; that a high
ideal of beneficence, not gain, was always before him, and was that by
which he measured himself. The wealth, the position of both, served only
to make their lives more generous.

And he saw that the younger people of the household had caught the same
spirit. Malcom, Margery, Barbara, and Bettina forgot themselves in each
other, and were most generous in all their judgments. They esteemed
people according to that which they were in themselves, not according to
what they had, and shrank from nothing save meanness and selfishness.

As we have seen, he had been attracted in a wonderful way to Barbara
ever since he had first met her. Her beauty, her unconscious pride of
bearing, mingled with her sweet, unaffected enthusiasms, were a swift
revelation to one who had never in his life before given a second
thought to any girl; and a fierce longing to win her love had taken
possession of his whole being, as he had confessed to Mrs. Douglas.

But to-day there was a chill upon him. He had before been confident of
the future. It must not, should not disappoint him, he had said to
himself again and again. Somehow he was not now so sure of himself and
it. There seemed a mystery before him. The way that had always before
seemed to open to his will refused to disclose itself. How could he win
the affection of this noble girl, whose life already seemed so full that
she felt no lack, who was so warm and generous in her feelings to all,
so thoroughly unselfish, so wholesome, so lovable? How he did long to
make all her wishes centre on him, even as his did upon her!

But Barbara's ideals were high. She would demand much of him whom she
could love. Only the other day he had heard her say in a voice deep with
feeling that money and position were nothing in comparison with a life
that was ever giving itself to enrich others. Whom did she mean? he
wondered. It seemed as if she knew some one who was even then in her
mind, and a fierce jealousy sprang up with the thought. She surely
could not have meant him, for he had never lived for any other than
himself, nor did he wish to think of anything but himself. He wanted to
get well and to have Barbara love him. Then he would take her away from
everybody else and lavish everything upon her, and how happy would he
be! Could he only look into the future, he thought, and see that this
was to come, he would ask nothing else.

Poor Howard! Could the future have opened before his wish never so
little, how soon would his restless, raging emotions have become hushed
into a great silence!

       *       *       *       *       *

A few evenings afterward, as they were all sitting together in the
library, and Howard with them, Mr. Sumner, knowing that the young people
had been reading and talking of Ghirlandajo and Botticelli, said that
perhaps there would be no better time for talking of these artists than
the present.

"With Masaccio," he continued, "we have begun a new period of Italian
painting,--the period of the Early Renaissance. All the former great
artists,--Cimabue, Giotto, and Fra Angelico, whom we have particularly
studied,--and the lesser ones, about whom you have read,--Orcagna,
Taddeo Gaddi, and Uccello, the bird-lover (who gave himself so
untiringly to the study of linear perspective),--belong to the Gothic
period, literally the rude period; in which, although a steady advance
was made, yet the works are all more or less very imperfect
art-productions. All these are wholly in the service of the Church, and
are painted in fresco on plaster or in _tempera_ on wood. In the Early
Renaissance, however, a new impulse was seen. Artists were much better
equipped for their work, nature-study progressed wonderfully, anatomy
was studied, perspective was mastered, the sphere of art widened to take
in history, portraits, and mythology; and in the latter part of this
period, as we shall see, oil-painting was introduced."

"Can you give us any dates of these periods to remember, uncle?" asked
Malcom.

"Roughly speaking, the Gothic period covers the years from about 1250 to
1400; the Early Renaissance, from about 1400 to 1500. Masaccio, as we
have seen, was the first great painter of the Early Renaissance, and he
lived from 1401 to 1428. But these dates are not arbitrary. Fra Angelico
lived until 1455, and yet his pictures belong wholly to the Gothic
period; so also do those of other Gothic painters whose lives overlap
the Early Renaissance in point of time. It is the spirit of the art
that definitely determines its place, although the general dates help
one to remember.

"We will not talk long of Ghirlandajo,--Domenico Ghirlandajo (for there
is another, Ridolfo by name, who is not nearly so important to the
art-world). His composition is similar to that of Masaccio. A few people
are intimately engaged, and the others are bystanders, or onlookers. One
characteristic is that many of these last are portraits of Florentine
men and women who were his contemporaries, and so we get from his
pictures a knowledge of the people and costumes of his time. His
backgrounds are often masses of Florentine architecture, some of which
you will readily recognize. His subjects are religious.

"For studying his work, go again to Santa Maria Novella, where is a
series of frescoes representing scenes in the lives of the Virgin Mary
and John the Baptist. I would give some time to these, for in them you
will find all the characteristics of Ghirlandajo's frescoes, which are
his strongest work. Then you will find two good examples of his
_tempera_ painting on wooden panels in the Uffizi Gallery: an _Adoration
of the Magi_, and a _Madonna and Saints_, which are in the Sala di
Lorenzo Monaco near Fra Angelico's _Madonna_--the one which is
surrounded by the famous musical Angels. Others are in the Pitti
Gallery and Academy. His goldsmith's training shows in these smaller
pictures more than in the frescoes. We see it in his love for painting
golden ornaments and decoration of garments."

"Is his work anything like that of Michael Angelo, Mr. Sumner?" asked
Barbara. "He was Angelo's teacher, was he not?"

"Yes, history tells us that he held that position for three years; but
judging from the work of both, I should say that not much was either
taught or learned. Ghirlandajo's work possesses great strength, as does
Michael Angelo's, but on wholly different lines. Ghirlandajo loved to
represent grave, dignified figures,--which were portraits,--clad in long
gowns, stiff brocades, and flowing mantles; and there are superb
accessories in his pictures,--landscapes, architecture, and decorated
interiors. On the other hand, Michael Angelo's figures are most
impersonal, and each depends for effect simply on its own magnificence
of conception and rendering. The lines of figures are of far more
importance than the face, which is the farthest possible removed from
the portrait--and for accessories of any kind he cared not at all."

At this moment callers were announced and Mr. Sumner said they would
resume their talk some other time.

"It will be well for you if you can look at these paintings by
Ghirlandajo to-morrow morning if it be a bright day," he said, "while
all that I have told you is fresh in your minds. I cannot go with you,
but if you think of anything you would like to ask me about them, you
can do so before we begin on Botticelli."



Chapter IX.

The Coming-out Party.

    _Like the swell of some sweet tune,
    Morning rises into noon,
    May glides onward into June_.

    --LONGFELLOW.

[Illustration: PALAZZO PITTI, FLORENCE.]


"Well, have you seen Ghirlandajo's work?" asked Mr. Sumner, the next
time the little group met in the library.

"Only his frescoes in Santa Maria Novella. We have spent two entire
mornings looking at those," answered Bettina.

"We took your list of the portraits there with us, uncle," said Malcom,
"and tried to get acquainted with those old Florentine bishops, bankers,
and merchants that he painted."

"And oh! isn't that Ginevra de' Benci in the _Meeting of Mary and
Elizabeth_ lovely! and her golden brocaded dress!" cried Margery.

"You pay quite a compliment to the old painter's power of representing
men and women," said Mr. Sumner, "for these evidently captivated you. I
wish I could have overheard you talking by yourselves."

"I fear we could not appreciate the best things, though," said Barbara.
"We imagined ourselves in old Florence of the fifteenth century, and
tried to recognize the mountains and palaces in the backgrounds, and we
enjoyed the people and admired their fine clothes. I do think, however,
that these last seem often too stiff and as if made of metal rather than
of silk, satin, or cloth. And when Howard told us that Mr. Ruskin says
'they hang from the figures as they would from clothes-pegs,' we could
but laugh, and think he is right with regard to some of them. Ought we
to admire everything in these old pictures, Mr. Sumner?" she earnestly
added.

"Not at all; not by any means. I would not have you think this for a
moment. Ghirlandajo's paintings are famous and worthy because they are
such an advance on what was before him. Compare his men and women with
those by Giotto. You know how much you found of interest and to admire
in Giotto's pictures when you compared them with Cimabue's and with the
old Greek Byzantine paintings. Just so compare those by Masaccio and
Ghirlandajo with what was done before. See the growth,--the steady
evolution,--and realize that Ghirlandajo was honest and earnest, and
gifted too; that his drawing is firm and truer to nature than that of
most contemporary artists; that his portraits possess character; that
they are well-bred and important, as the people they represent were;
that his mountains are like mountains even in some of their subtile
lines; that his rivers wind; that his masses of architecture are in good
perspective and proportion; and then you will excuse his faults, though
it is right to notice and feel them. We must see many in the work of
every artist until we come to the great painters of the High
Renaissance. You must find Ghirlandajo's other pictures, and study them
also."

"Now about Botticelli," he added. A little rustle of expectancy swept
through the group of listeners. Bettina drew nearer Barbara and clasped
her hand; and all settled themselves anew with an especial air of
interest. "I see you, like most other people, care more for him. He is
immensely popular at present. It is quite the fashion to admire him.
But, strangely enough, only a few years ago little was known or cared
about his work, and his name is not even mentioned by some writers on
art. He was first a goldsmith like Ghirlandajo, then afterward became a
pupil of Fra Filippo Lippi, father of the Filippino Lippi who finished
Masaccio's frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel. Botticelli wrought an
immense service to painting by widening greatly the field of subjects
hitherto assigned to it, which had been confined to Bible incidents.
Others, contemporary with him, were beginning to depart slightly from
these subjects in response to the desires of the pleasure-loving
Florentines of that day; but Botticelli was the first to come
deliberately forth and make art minister to the pleasure and education
of the secular as well as the religious world. By nature he loved myths,
fables, and allegories, and freely introduced them into his pictures. He
painted Venuses, Cupids, and nymphs just as willingly as Madonnas and
saints.

"I hope you will read diligently about him. The story of how his
pictures, and those of other artists who were influenced by him, led to
the protest which Savonarola (who lived at the same time) made against
the 'corrupting influence of profane pictures' and his demand that
bonfires should be made of them is most interesting. Botticelli
devotedly contributed a large number of his paintings to the burning
piles."

"But he painted religious pictures also, did he not?" queried Barbara.

"Oh, yes. His works were wrought in churches as well as in private
houses and palaces. He even received the honor of being summoned to Rome
by Pope Sixtus IV. to assist in the decoration of the Sistine Chapel of
the Vatican, where Michael Angelo afterward performed his greatest
work. There he painted three large religious frescoes--by the way,
Ghirlandajo painted there also. Now we must find what is the charm in
Botticelli's painting that accounts for the wonderful present interest
in his work. I think it is in a large degree his attempt to put
expression into faces. While Masaccio had taken a long step in advance
of other artists by making man himself, rather than events, the chief
interest in his pictures,--Botticelli, more imaginative and poetic,
painted man's moods,--his subtile feelings. You are all somewhat
familiar, through their reproductions, with his Madonna pictures. How do
these differ from those of other painters?"

"The faces are less pretty."

"They are sad instead of joyous."

"In some the little Christ looks as though he were trying to comfort his
mother."

"The angels look as if they longed to help both," were some of the quick
answers.

"Yes; _inner_ feelings, you see. Sometimes he put a crown of thorns
somewhere in a picture, as if to explain its expressions. His Madonna is
'pondering these things,' as Scripture says, and the Child-Christ and
angels are in intense sympathy with her. We long to look again and again
at such pictures--they move us.

"Another characteristic of his work is the action--a vehement impetuous
motion. You will find this finely illustrated in his _Allegory of
Spring_, a very famous picture in the Academy. His type of figure and
face is most easily recognizable; the limbs are long and slender, and
often show through almost transparent garments; the hands are long and
nervous; the faces are rather long also, with prominent rounded chins
and full lips. He put delicate patterns of gold embroidery about the
neck and wrists of the Madonna's gown and the edges of her mantle, and
heaped gold all over the lights on the curled hair of her angels and
other attendants. You can never mistake one of these pictures when once
you have grown familiar with his style.

"I think you should study particularly his _Allegory of Spring_ in the
Academy for full length figures in motion. You will find the color of
this picture happily weird to agree with the fantastic conception. Then
in the Uffizi Gallery you will find several pictures of the Madonna;
notable among them is his _Coronation of the Virgin_, painted, as he was
fond of doing, on a round board. Such a picture is called a _tondo_.
Here you will find all his characteristics.

[Illustration: BOTICELLI. UFFIZI GALLERY, FLORENCE.

CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN.]

"Study this first; study figures, faces, hands, and methods of
technique; then see if you cannot readily find the other examples
without your catalogue. A noted one is _Calumny_. This exemplifies
strikingly Botticelli's power of expressing swift motion. In the Pitti
Palace is a very interesting one called _Pallas_, or _Triumph of Wisdom
over Barbarity_,--strangely enough, found only recently."

"Found only recently; how can that be, uncle?" quickly asked Malcom.

"The picture was known to have been painted, for Vasari described it in
his 'Life of Botticelli,' but it was lost sight of until an Englishman
discovered it in an old private collection which had been for many years
in the Pitti Palace, suspected it to be the missing picture, and
connoisseurs agree that it is genuine. There was a great deal of
excitement here when the fact was made known. The figure of Pallas, in
its clinging transparent garment, is strikingly beautiful, and
characteristic of Botticelli. The picture was painted as a glorification
of the wise reign of the Medici, who did so much for the intellectual
advancement of Florence."

Then Mr. Sumner told them that he was to be absent from Florence for a
week or two, and should be exceedingly busy for some time, and so would
leave them to go on with their study of the pictures by themselves.

"I have been delighted," he said, "to know how much time you have spent
in going again and again to the churches and galleries in order to
become familiar with the painters whom we have especially considered.
This is the real and the only way to make the study valuable. Do the
same with regard to the pictures by Ghirlandajo and Botticelli, and if I
have not given you enough to do until I am free again to talk with you,
study the frescoes by Filippino Lippi in Santa Maria Novella, and
compare them with those in the Brancacci Chapel; and his easel pictures
in the Uffizi and Pitti Galleries. Get familiar also with his father's
(Fra Filippo's) Madonna pictures. You will find in them a type of face
so often repeated that you will always recognize it; it is just the
opposite of Botticelli's,--short and childish, with broad jaws, and
simple as childhood in expression. I shall be most interested to know
what you have done, and what your thoughts have been."

"We certainly shall not do much but look at pictures for weeks to come,
uncle; that is sure!" said Malcom, "for the girls are bewitched with
them, and now that they think they can learn to know, as soon as they
see it, a Giotto, a Fra Angelico, a Botticelli, or a Fra Filippo Lippi,
they will be simply crazy. You ought to hear the learned way in which
they are beginning to discourse about them. They don't do it when you
are around."

"Oh, Malcom! who was it that _must_ wait a few minutes longer, the other
morning, in Santa Maria Novella in order to run downstairs and give one
more look at Giotto's frescoes?" laughed Bettina.

       *       *       *       *       *

Barbara's and Bettina's eighteenth birthday was drawing near. Mrs.
Douglas had for a long time planned to give a party to them, and had
fully arranged the details before she spoke of it to the girls.

"It shall be your 'coming-out party' here in Florence," she said; "not a
large party, but a thoroughly pleasant and enjoyable one, I am sure."

And the circle of friends who were eager to know and to add to the
pleasure of any one belonging to Robert Sumner seemed to ensure this.
Mrs. Douglas further said that she did not wish them to give a thought
to what they would wear on the occasion, but to leave everything with
her. Every girl of eighteen years will readily understand what a flutter
of joyous excitement Barbara and Bettina felt, and how they talked over
the coming event, when they were alone. Finally Bettina asked:--

"Why does Mrs. Douglas do so much for us? How can we ever repay her?"

"We can never repay her, Betty," replied her sister. "Nor does she wish
it. I do not know why she is so kind. She must love us, or,--perhaps it
is because she is so fond of papa. Do you know, Betty, that our father
once saved her life? She told me about it only yesterday, and I did not
think to tell you last night, there was so much to talk about. It was
when she was a little girl of twelve or thirteen years and papa was just
beginning to practise. You know her father was very wealthy, and had
helped him to get his profession because the two families were always so
intimate. Well, Mrs. Douglas was so ill that three or four doctors said
they could do nothing more for her, and she must die. Of course her
father and mother were broken-hearted. And papa went to them, and for
days and nights did not sleep and hardly ate, but was with her every
moment; and the older doctors acknowledged that but for him she could
never have lived.--And, just think! he never said a word about it to
us!"

"Our father never talks of the good and noble things he does," said
Bettina, proudly. "No wonder she loves him; but I do really think she
loves us too. Only the other day Malcom said he should be jealous were
it anybody but you and me. So I think all we can do is to keep on doing
just as we have done, and love her more dearly than ever."

"I wonder if there are any other girls in the world so happy as we
are," she added after a moment's silence--and the two pairs of brown
eyes looked into each other volumes of tender sympathy and gladness.

What a day was that birthday! Barbara and Bettina will surely tell of it
to their children and grandchildren! First of all came letters from the
dear home--birthday letters which Mrs. Douglas had withheld for a day or
two so that they should be read at the fitting time. Then the lovely
gifts! From Margery, an exquisite bit of sculptured marble for each,
chosen after much consultation with her uncle and many visits to Via dei
Fossi; from Malcom, copies of two of Fra Angelico's musical Angels, each
in a rich frame of Florentine hand-carving (for everything must be
purely Florentine, all had agreed); from Mr. Sumner, portfolios of the
finest possible photographs of the best works of Florentine masters from
the very beginning down through the High Renaissance.

Mrs. Douglas gave them most lovely outfits for the party--gowns of white
chiffon daintily embroidered--slippers, gloves--everything needful;
while Howard had asked that he might provide all the flowers.

When finally Barbara and Bettina stood on either side of Mrs. Douglas in
the floral bower where they received their guests, it was indeed as if
they were in fairy-land. It did not seem possible that any more pink or
white roses could be left in Florence, if indeed all Italy had not been
laid under tribute,--so lavish had Howard been. Barbara carried white
roses, and Bettina pink ones, and everywhere through the entire house
were the exquisite things, peeping out from amidst the daintiest greens
possible, or superb in the simplicity of their own magnificence.

The lovely American girls were the cynosure of all eyes, and the
flattering things said to them by foreigners and Americans were almost
enough to turn their heads. Mrs. Douglas was delighted with the simple
frankness and dignity with which they met all.

"You may trust well-bred American girls anywhere," she said to her
brother as she met him later in the evening, after all her guests had
been welcomed, "especially such as are ours," and she called his
attention to Barbara, who at that moment was approaching on the arm of a
distinguished-looking man, who was evidently absorbed with his fair
companion.

Perfectly unconscious of herself, she moved with so much of womanly
grace that Robert Sumner was startled. She seemed like a stranger; this
tall, queenly creature could not be the everyday Barbara who had been
little more than a child to him. In passing she looked with a loving
smile at Mrs. Douglas, and then for a moment her eyes with the light
still in them met his, and slowly turned away. The soft flush on her
cheek deepened, and Robert Sumner felt the swift blood surge back upon
his heart until his head swam. When last had he seen such a look in
woman's eyes? Ah! how he had loved those sweet dark eyes long years ago!
Oh! the desolate longing!

Mrs. Douglas's look had followed Barbara--then had sought Bettina, who,
with Margery by her side, was surrounded by a little group of admirers;
so she was conscious of nothing unusual. But Miss Sherman, who stood
near, had seen Barbara's flush and noted Mr. Sumner's momentary pallor,
and afterward his evident effort to be just himself again. What could it
mean? she thought.

All through the evening she had suffered from a little unreasonable
jealousy as she had realized for the first time that these "Burnett
girls,"--mere companions of Margery, as she had always thought of
them,--were really young ladies, and most unusually beautiful ones, as
she was forced to confess to herself. She envied them the occasion, the
honor they gained through their intimate connection with Mr. Sumner and
Mrs. Douglas, and the impression they were so evidently making on
everybody. She was not broad or generous minded enough to be glad for
the young girls from her own country as a nobler-minded woman would have
been. But that there could be any especial feeling, or even momentary
thought, between Mr. Sumner and Barbara was too absurd to be considered
for a moment. That could not be.

Drawing near, she joined Mrs. Douglas and Mr. Sumner, and again sweetly
congratulated them on the success of their party, the beauty of the
rooms, etc.

"The young girls, too," she said, "I am sure do you great credit--quite
grown-up they seem, I declare. What a difference clothes make, do they
not? I have been a bit amused by some of their pretty airs, as an older
woman could not fail to be," and an indulgent smile played about her
lips.

As it was time to go to the dining room for refreshments, Mrs. Douglas,
in accordance with a preconceived plan, asked her brother to lead the
way with Miss Sherman. When Barbara entered the room soon after with
Howard, she saw the two sitting behind the partial screen of a big palm.
She felt a momentary wish that she could know what they were so
earnestly talking about, and, presently, was conscious that Mr.
Sumner's eyes sought her.

But how little she thought that she, herself, was the subject of their
conversation, or rather of Miss Sherman's, who was saying how apparent
the devotion of Mr. Sinclair was to every one, and that surely Barbara
must reciprocate his feeling, else she would withdraw from him; and how
pleasant it was to see such young people, just in the beginning of life,
becoming so interested in each other; and how romantic to thus find each
other in such a city as Florence; and what an advantage to become allied
with such an old, wealthy family as the Sinclairs, and so on and on.



Chapter X.

The Mystery Unfolds to Howard.

                 _We are in God's hand.
    How strange now looks the life He makes us lead:
    So free we seem, so fettered fast we are!
    I feel He laid the fetter: let it lie!_

    --BROWNING.

[Illustration: SAN MINIATO AL MONTE, FLORENCE.]


The weeks sped rapidly on; midwinter had come and gone, and four months
had been numbered since Mrs. Douglas had brought Malcom, Margery,
Barbara, and Bettina to Italy.

Although social pleasures and duties had multiplied, yet study had never
been given up. A steady advance had been made in knowledge of the
history of Florence, and of her many legends and traditions. They had
not forgotten or passed by the sculptured treasures of the city, but had
learned something of Donatello, her first great sculptor; of Lorenzo
Ghiberti, who wrought those exquisite gates of bronze for Dante's "Il
mio bel San Giovanni" that Michael Angelo declared to be fit for the
gates of Paradise; and of Brunelleschi, the architect of her great
Duomo.

Through all had gone on their study of the Florentine painters. After
much patient work given to pictures of the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries, they were now quite revelling in the beauty of those of the
sixteenth century, or the High Renaissance. This was all the more
interesting since they had seen how one after another the early
difficulties had been overcome; how each great master succeeding Cimabue
had added his contribution of thought and endeavor until artists knew
all the laws that govern the art of representation; and how finally, the
method of oil-painting having been introduced, they then had a fitting
medium with which to express their knowledge and artistic endeavor.

They had read about Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest masters, so
famous for his portrayal of subtile emotion, and were wonderfully
interested in his life and work; had been to the Academy to see the
_Baptism of Christ_, painted by his master, Andrea Verrocchio, and were
very positive that the angel on the left, who holds Christ's garment,
was painted by young Leonardo. They had studied his unfinished
_Adoration of the Magi_ in the Uffizi--his only authentic work in
Florence--and had wished much that they could see his other and greater
pictures. Mr. Sumner had told them that in the early summer they would
probably go to Milan, and there see the famous _Last Supper_ and _Study
for the Head of Christ_, and that perhaps later they might visit Paris
and there find his _Mona Lisa_ and other works.

They had been much interested in the many examples of Fra Bartolommeo's
painting that are in San Marco--where he, as well as Fra Angelico, had
been a monk;--in the Academy, and in the Uffizi and Pitti galleries; and
had learned to recognize the peculiarities of his grouping of figures,
and their abstract, devotional faces, his treatment of draperies, and
the dear little angels, with their musical instruments, that are so
often sitting at the feet of his madonnas.

They were fascinated by Andrea del Sarto, whom they followed all over
the city wherever they could find either his frescoes or easel pictures.
His color especially enchanted them, after they had looked at so many
darkened and faded pictures. The story of his unquenchable love for his
faithless wife, and how he painted her face into all his pictures,
either as madonna or saint, played upon their romantic feelings. Margery
learned Browning's poem about them, and often quoted from it. They were
never tired of looking at his _Holy Families_ and _Madonnas_ in the
galleries, but especially loved to go to the S.S. Annunziata and linger
in the court, surrounded by glass colonnades, where are so many of his
frescoes.

"Do you suppose it is true that his wife, Lucrezia, used to come here
after he was dead and she was an old woman, to look at the pictures?"
asked Margery one morning, when they had found their favorite place.

"I think it would be just like her vanity to point out her own likeness
to people who were copying or looking at the frescoes, according to the
old story," answered Bettina, with a disapproving shake of the head.

"Well," said Barbara, "the faces and figures and draperies are all
lovely. But I suppose it is true, as Mr. Sumner says, that Andrea del
Sarto did not try to make the faces show any holy feeling, or indeed any
very noble expression, so that they are not so great pictures as they
would have been had he been high-minded enough to do such things."

"It is a shame to have a man's life and work harmed by a woman, even
though she was his wife," said Malcom, emphatically.

"All the more that she was his wife," said Barbara. "But I do not
believe he could have done much better without Lucrezia. I think his
very love for such a woman shows a weakness in his character. It would
have been better if he had chosen other than sacred subjects, would it
not, Howard?"

They were quite at home in their study of these more modern pictures,
with photographs of which they were already somewhat familiar. Howard,
especially, had always had a fine and critical taste regarding art
matters, and now, among the works of artists of whom he knew something,
was a valuable member of the little coterie, and often appealed to when
Mr. Sumner was absent.

And thus they had talked over and over again the impressions which each
artist and his work made on them, until even Mr. Sumner was astonished
and delighted at the evident result of the interest he had awakened.

But the chief man and artist they were now considering, was Michael
Angelo; and the more they learned of him the more true it was, they
thought, that he "filled all Florence." They eagerly followed every step
of his life from the time when, a young lad, he entered Ghirlandajo's
studio, until he was brought to Florence--a dead old man, concealed in a
bale of merchandise, because the authorities refused permission to his
friends to take his body from Rome--and was buried at midnight in Santa
Croce.

They tried to imagine his life during the four years which he spent in
the Medici Palace, now Palazzo Riccardi, under the patronage of Lorenzo
the Magnificent, while he was studying with the same tremendous energy
that marked all his life, going almost daily to the Brancacci Chapel to
learn from Masaccio's frescoes, and plunging into the subject of anatomy
more like a devotee than a student.

They learned of his visit to Rome, where, before he was twenty-five
years old, he sculptured the grand _Pietá_, or _Dead Christ_, which is
still in St. Peter's; and of his return to Florence, where he foresaw
his _David_ in the shapeless block of marble, and gained permission of
the commissioners to hew it out,--the David which stood so long under
the shadow of old gray Palazzo Vecchio, but is now in the Academy.

Then came the beginnings of his painting; and they saw the _Holy Family_
of the Uffizi Gallery--his only finished easel picture--which possesses
more of the qualities of sculpture than painting; and read about his
competition with Leonardo da Vinci when he prepared the famous _Cartoon
of Pisa_, now known to the world only by fragmentary copies.

Then Pope Julius II. summoned him back to Rome to begin work on that
vast monument conceived for the commemoration of his own greatness, and
destined never to be finished; and afterward gave him the commission to
paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican.

Returning to Florence in an interval of this work, he sculptured the
magnificent Medici monuments, to see which they often visited the Chapel
of the Medici. At the same time, since the prospect of war had come to
the beautiful city, he built those famous fortifications on San Miniato
through whose gateway they entered whenever they visited this lovely
hill, crowned by a noble old church and a quiet city of the dead.

They drove out to Settignano to visit the villa where he lived when a
child, and which he owned all his life; and went to Casa Buonarroti in
Florence, where his descendants have gathered together what they could
of the great master's sketches, early bas-reliefs, and manuscripts. Here
they looked with reverence upon his handwriting, and little clay models
moulded by his own fingers.

They talked of his affection for the noble Vittoria Colonna, and read
the sonnets he wrote to her.

In short, they admired his great talents, loved his character, condoned
his faults of temper, and felt the utmost sympathy with him in all the
vicissitudes of his grand, inspiring life.

"It seems strange," said Mr. Sumner one day, as they returned from the
Academy, where they had been looking at casts and photographs of his
sculptured works, "that though Michael Angelo was undoubtedly greatest
as a sculptor, yet his most important works in the world of art are his
paintings. Those grand frescoes in the Sistine Chapel in Rome alone
afforded him sufficient scope for his wonderful creative genius. When we
get to Rome I shall have much to tell you about them."

       *       *       *       *       *

The question as to the best thing to do for the remainder of the year
was often talked over by Mrs. Douglas and Mr. Sumner. Barbara, Bettina,
Malcom, and Margery were so interested in their art study that it was
finally thought best to travel in such a way that this could be
continued to advantage, and they were now thinking of leaving Florence
for Rome.

There had been one source of anxiety for some time, and that was the
condition of Howard's health. Instead of gain there seemed to be a
continual slow loss of strength that was perceptible especially to Mrs.
Douglas. He had recently won her sincere respect by the manful way in
which he had struggled to conceal his love for Barbara. So well did he
succeed that Malcom thought he must have been mistaken in his
conjecture, and the girls were as unconscious as ever. In Bettina's and
Margery's thought, he was especially Barbara's friend, but in no other
way than Malcom was Bettina's; while Barbara was happier than she had
been in a long time, as he showed less and less frequently signs of
nervous irritability and hurt feelings whenever she disappointed him in
any way, as of course she often could not help doing.

"Howard ought not to have spent the winter here in the cold winds of
Florence," Mrs. Douglas often had said to her brother. "But what could
we do?"

They were thinking of hastening their departure for Rome on his account,
when one morning his servant came to the house in great alarm, to beg
Mrs. Douglas to go to his young master at once.

"He is very ill," he said, "and asks for you continually."

When Mrs. Douglas and her brother reached Howard's hotel, they found
that already one of the most skilful physicians of the city was there,
and that he wished to send for trained nurses.

"I fear pneumonia," he said, "and the poor young man is indeed illy
prepared to endure such a disease."

"Spare no pains, no expense," urged Mr. Sumner; "let the utmost possible
be done."

"I will stay with you," said Mrs. Douglas, as the hot hand eagerly
clasped hers. "I will not leave you, my poor boy, while you are ill."
And, sending for all she needed, she prepared to watch over him as if he
were her own son.

But all endeavors to check the progress of the disease were futile. The
enfeebled lungs could offer no resistance. One day, after having lain as
if asleep for some time, Howard opened his eyes, to find Mrs. Douglas
beside him. With a faint smile he whispered:--

"I have been thinking so much. I am glad now that Barbara does not love
me, for it would only give her pain--sometime tell her of my love for
her--"

Then by and by, with the tenderest look in his large eyes, he added,
"May she come, to let me see her once more?--You will surely trust me
now!"

"Oh, Howard! My noble Howard!" was all that Mrs. Douglas could answer;
but at her words a look of wonderful happiness lighted his face.

When Mrs. Douglas asked the physician if a friend could be permitted to
see Howard, he replied:--

"He cannot live; therefore let him have everything he desires."

And so, before consciousness left him, Barbara came with wondering,
sorrowful eyes, and in answer to his pleading look and Mrs. Douglas's
low word, bent her fair young head and kissed tenderly the brow of the
dying young man who had loved her so much better than she knew. And
Howard's life ebbed away.

It was almost as if one of the family were gone. They did not know how
much a part of their life he had become until he came no more to the
home he had enjoyed so much--to talk--to study--to bring tributes of
love and gratitude--and to contribute all he could to their happiness.

Whatever they would do, wherever they would go, there was one missing,
and their world was sadly changed.

Mr. Sumner sent the mournful tidings to the lonely grandmother over the
ocean, and accompanied the faithful John as far as Genoa, on his way
homeward with the remains of the young master he had carried in his arms
as a child.

Then, as it was so difficult to take up even for a little time the old
life in Florence, it was decided that they should go at once toward
Rome.



Chapter XI.

On the Way to Rome.

                              _Fair Italy!
    Thou art the garden of the world, the home
    Of all art yields, and nature can decree:
    Even in thy desert, what is like to thee?
    Thy very weeds are beautiful, thy waste
    More rich than other climes' fertility:
    Thy wreck a glory, and thy ruin grand
    With an immaculate charm which cannot be defaced._

    --LORD BYRON.

[Illustration: ORVIETO CATHEDRAL.]


"We will take a roundabout journey to Rome," said Mr. Sumner, "and so
get all the variety of scene and emotion possible. Something that crowds
every moment with interest will be best for all just now."

And so they planned to go first of all to Pisa: from thence to Siena,
Orvieto, Perugia, Assisi, and so on to Rome.

Miss Sherman had asked to accompany them, since Florence would be so
dull when they were gone. Indeed, she had stayed on instead of seeking
the warmer, more southern cities simply because they were here.

Therefore one morning during the last week of February all bade good-by
to their pleasant home in Florence.

"It seems like an age since we first came here, doesn't it, Bab, dear?"
said Bettina, as they entered together the spacious waiting-room of the
central railroad station.

"Yes, Betty; are we the same girls?" answered Barbara, and her smile had
just a touch of dreariness.

Mr. Sumner and Malcom were seeing to the weighing of the luggage; Mrs.
Douglas, Margery, and Miss Sherman were together; and for a moment the
two girls were alone.

Somehow Bettina felt a peculiarly tender care of her sister just now,
and was never absent from her side if she could help it. Without
understanding why or what it was, she yet felt that something had
happened which put a slight barrier between them; that something in
which she had no share had touched Barbara. She had been wistfully
watching her ever since she had returned from the visit to Howard, and
was striving to keep all opportunity for painful thought from her.

At present, Barbara shrank from telling even Bettina, from whom she had
never before hidden a thought, of that last meeting with Howard. No girl
could ever mistake such a look as that which had lighted his eyes as she
stooped to kiss his brow in answer to Mrs. Douglas's request. There
would be no need for Mrs. Douglas ever to tell her the story. The loving
devotion that shone forth even in his uttermost weakness had thrilled
her very soul, and she could not forget it for a moment when alone.

A certain sense of loss which she could not define followed her.
Somehow, it did mean more to her than it did to any one else, that
Howard was gone from their lives, but she knew that not even Betty would
understand. Indeed, she could not herself understand, for she was sure
that she had not loved Howard.

Though Barbara did not know it, the truth was that for a single instant
she had felt what it is to be loved as Howard loved her; and the loss
she felt was the loss of love,--not Howard's love--but love for itself
alone. She was not just the same girl she was when she had entered
Florence a few months ago, nor ever again would be; and between her and
Bettina,--the sisters who before this had been "as one soul in two
bodies,"--ran a mysterious Rubicon, the outer shore of which Bettina's
feet had not yet touched.

The hasty return of Mr. Sumner and Malcom with two lusty _facchini_, who
seized the hand-luggage, the hurry to be among the first at the opening
of the big doors upon the platform beside which their train was drawn
up, and the little bustle of excitement consequent on the desire to
secure an entire compartment for their party filled the next few
minutes, and soon they were off.

The journey led through a charming country lying at the base of the
Apennines. Picturesque castles and city-crowned hills against the
background of blue mountains, many of whose summits were covered with
gleaming snow, kept them looking and exclaiming with delight, until
finally they reached Lucca, and, sweeping in a half circle around Monte
San Giuliano, which, as Dante wrote, hides the two cities, Lucca and
Pisa, from each other, they arrived at Pisa.

Although they expected to find an old, worn-out city, yet only Mr.
Sumner and Mrs. Douglas were quite prepared for the dilapidated
carriages that were waiting to take them from the station to their
hotels; for the almost deserted streets, and the general pronounced air
of decadence. Even the Arno seemed to have lost all freshness, and left
all beauty behind as it flowed from Florence, and was here only a
swiftly flowing mass of muddy waters.

After having taken possession of their rooms in one of the hotels which
look out upon the river, and having lunched in the chilly dining room,
which they found after wandering through rooms and halls filled with
marble statues and bric-a-brac set forth to tempt the eyes of
travellers, and so suggestive of the quarries in which the neighboring
mountains are rich, they started forth for that famous group of sacred
buildings which gives Pisa its present fame.

They were careful to enter the Cathedral by the richly wrought door in
the south transept (the only old one left) and, passing the font of holy
water, above which stands a _Madonna and Child_ designed by Michael
Angelo, sat down beneath Andrea del Sarto's _St. Agnes_, and listened to
Mr. Sumner's description of the famous edifice.

He told them that the erection of this building marked the dawn of
mediæval Italian art. It is in the old basilica style, modified by the
dome over the middle of the top. Its columns are Greek and Roman, and
were captured by Pisa in war. Its twelve altars are attributed to
Michael Angelo (were probably designed by him), and the mosaics in the
dome are by Cimabue. They wandered about looking at the old pictures,
seeking especially those by Andrea del Sarto, who was the only artist
familiar to them, whose paintings are there. They touched and set
swinging the bronze lamp which hangs in the nave, and is said to have
suggested to Galileo (who was born in Pisa), his first idea of the
pendulum.

Then, going out, they climbed the famous Leaning Tower, and visited the
Baptistery, where is Niccolo Pisano's wonderful sculptured marble
pulpit.

Afterward they went into the Campo Santo, which fascinated them by its
quaintness, so unlike anything they had ever seen before. They thought
of the dead reposing in the holy earth brought from Mount Calvary;
looked at the frescoes painted so many hundreds of years ago by Benozzo
Gozzoli, pupil of Fra Angelico; at the queer interesting _Triumph of
Death_ and _Last Judgment_, so long attributed to Orcagna and now the
subject of much dispute among critics; and then, wearied with seeing so
much, they went into the middle of the enclosure and sat on the
flagstones in the warm sun amid the lizards and early buttercups.

The next afternoon they went to Siena, and arrived in time to see, from
their hotel windows, the sunset glory as it irradiated all that vast
tract of country that stretches so grandly on toward Rome. Here they
were to spend several days.

The young travellers were just beginning to experience the charm which
belongs peculiarly to journeying in Italy--that of finding, one after
another, these delightful old cities, each in its own characteristic
setting of country, of history, of legend and romance.

They were full of the thrill of expected emotion,--that most delicious
of all sensations.

And they received no disappointment from this old "red city." They saw
its beautiful, incomparably beautiful, Cathedral, full of richness of
sculpture and color in morning, noon, and evening light; and were never
tired of admiring every part of it, from its graffito and mosaic
pavement to its vaulted top filled with arches and columns, that
reminded them of walking through a forest aisle and looking up through
the interlaced branches of trees.

They visited the Cathedral Library, whose walls are covered with those
historical paintings by Pinturrichio, the little deaf Umbrian painter,
in whose design Raphael is said to have given aid.

But Mr. Sumner wished that the time they could give to the study of
paintings be spent particularly among the works of the old Sienese
masters. So they went again and again to the Accademia delle Belle Arti
and studied those quaint, half-Byzantine works, full of pathetic grace,
by Guido da Siena, by Duccio, Simone Martini, Lippo Memmi, and the
Lorenzetti brothers.

Here, too, they found paintings by Il Sodoma, a High Renaissance artist,
which pleased them more than all else. _The Descent into Hades_, where
is the exquisitely lovely figure of Eve, whose mournful gaze is fixed
on her lost son, toward whom the Saviour stoops with pity, drew them
again and again to the hall where the worn fresco hangs; and after they
had found, secluded in its little cabinet, that fragment which
represents _Christ Bound to a Column_, of which Paul Bourget has written
so tenderly, they voted this painter one of the most interesting they
had yet found.

To Bettina, the "saint-lover," as Malcom had dubbed her, the city gained
an added interest from having been the home of St. Catherine of Siena,
and the others shared in some degree her enthusiasm. They made a
pilgrimage to the house of St. Catherine, and all the relics contained
therein were genuinely important to them, for, as Betty averred again
and again:--

"You know she did live right here in Siena, so it must be true that this
is her house and that these things were really hers."

They admired Palazzo Publico within and without; chiefly from without,
for they could never walk from the Cathedral to their hotel without
pausing for a time to look down into the picturesque Piazza del Campo
where it stands, and admire its lofty walls, so mediæval in character,
with battlemented cornice and ogive windows.

They walked down the narrow streets and then climbed them. They drove
all over the city within its brown walls; and outside on the road that
skirts them and affords such lovely views of the valley and Tuscan
hills. They were sincerely sorry when at last the day came on which they
must leave it and continue on their way.

"Why are we going to Orvieto, uncle?" asked Malcom, as they were waiting
at Chiusi for their connection with the train from Florence to Orvieto.

"For several reasons, Malcom. In the first place, it is one of the best
preserved of the ancient cities of Italy. So long ago as the eighth
century it was called _urbs vetus_ (old city) and its modern name is
derived from that. Enclosed by its massive walls, it still stands on the
summit of its rocky hill, which was called _urbibentum_ by the old
historian, Procopius. It is comparatively seldom visited by the ordinary
tourist, and is thoroughly unique and interesting. In the second place,
in its Cathedral are most valuable examples of Fra Angelico's, Benozzo
Gozzoli's, and Signorelli's paintings; and, in the third place, I love
the little old city, and never can go to or from Rome without spending
at least a few hours there if it is possible for me to do so. Are these
weighty enough reasons?" and Mr. Sumner drew his arm affectionately into
that of the tall young man he loved so well. "But here comes our train."

"This cable-tram does not look very ancient," said Malcom, when a half
hour later they stood on the platform of the little railway station at
Orvieto and looked up at the hillside.

"No; its only merit is that it takes us up quickly," replied his mother,
as they reached the waiting car. "All try if you can to get seats with
back to the hill, so that you will command the view of this beautiful
valley as we rise."

The city did indeed look foreign as they entered its wall, left the
cable-car, and, in a hotel omnibus, rattled through the streets, so
narrow that it is barely possible for two carriages to pass each other.

"Is everybody old here, do you suppose?" slyly whispered Bettina to
Barbara, as they were taken in charge by a very old woman, who led the
way to the rooms already engaged for the party. "I should be afraid to
come here all alone; everything is so strange.

"Oh! but how pleasant," she added, brightly, as they were shown into a
sweet, clean room, whose windows opened upon a small garden filled with
rose-bushes, and whose two little beds were snowy white. "How delightful
to be here a little later, when these roses will be in bloom!"

The brown withered face of the old chambermaid beamed upon the two young
girls, and showed her satisfaction at their evident delight, and when
she found that they could understand and speak a little of her own
language, her heart was indeed won, and she bustled about seeking
whatever she could do to add to their comfort, just for the pleasure of
being near them.

"It must be a delightful place to visit," said Barbara, when finally
they were alone, "but I should not like to have to live here for any
length of time, I know; so gray, so old, so desolate it all seemed on
our way through the streets," and a slight shiver ran through her at the
remembrance.

Soon they went to the Cathedral; admired its façade, decorated with
mosaics in softly brilliant colors until it looked like a great opal,
shining against the deep blue sky; entered it and saw Fra Angelico's
grand _Christ_, and calm, holy saints and angels; and, close to them
(the most striking contrast presented in art), Luca Signorelli's wild,
struggling, muscular figures.

They went into the photograph store on the corner for photographs, and
to the little antique shop opposite, where they bought quaint Etruscan
ornaments to take away as souvenirs,--and then gave themselves to
exploring the city; after which they all confessed to having fallen
somewhat under the spell of its charm.

The next afternoon found them on their way, around Lake Trasimeno, to
Perugia.

Little had been said about this city, for their conversation had been
engaged with those they had left behind. Malcom, only, had been looking
up its history in his guide-book, and was interested to see the place
that had been bold enough to set itself up even against Rome, and so had
earned the title "audacious" inscribed on its citadel by one of the
Popes.

"Magnificent in situation!" he exclaimed, and his eager eyes allowed
nothing to escape them, as their omnibus slowly climbed the high hill,
disclosing wide and ever widening views of the valley of the Tiber.

"I think," said Mr. Sumner, who was enjoying the delighted surprise of
his party, "that Perugia is the most princely city in regard to position
in all Italy. It is perched up here on the summit as an eagle on his
aeried crag, and seems to challenge with proud defiance these lower
cities, that, though each on its own hill-top, look as if slumbering in
the valley below."

When a little later they were ushered into the brilliantly lighted
dining-room, which was filled almost to overflowing with a gayly dressed
and chattering crowd of guests, most of whom spoke the English language,
all the way thither seemed as a dream. Only the voluminous head-dresses
of the English matrons, and the composite speech of the waiters, told
them surely that they were in a foreign land.

The next day, after a drive through the city, whose different quarters
present some of the most interesting contrasts to be found in all Italy,
Mr. Sumner took them to the Pinacoteca, or picture-gallery, and before
looking at the pictures, told them in a few words about the early
Umbrian school of painting.

"It grew out of the early Florentine, and is marked by many of the same
characteristics. It was, however, much modified by the Sienese painting.
It has less strength, as it has also, of course, less originality, than
the Florentine. Its color, on the other hand, is better, stronger, and
more harmonious. Its works possess a peculiar simplicity and
devoutness--much tranquillity and gentleness of sentiment. This gallery
is filled with examples of its masters' painting. It just breathes forth
their spirit, and the best way to absorb it would be to come, each one
of us alone, and give ourselves up to its spell. This is no place for
criticism; only for feeling. Study particularly whatever you find of
Francesca's, Perugino's and Bonfiglio's work.

"You all know," he continued, "that Perugino, who lived here and
received his art name because he did so, had an academy of painting, and
that Raphael was for some years one of his pupils. Perugino's influence
on his pupils is strikingly apparent in their work. Raphael's early
painting is exactly after his style. In Perugino's treatment of figures
you will find a mannerism, especially in the way his heads are placed on
the shoulders, and in his faces, which are full of sentiment, the
wistful eyes often being cast upward, but sometimes veiled with heavily
drooping lids.

"Look! here is one of his pictures. The oval faces with the peculiarly
small mouth are characteristic. You will most readily recognize the work
of this master after you have become a bit familiar with it."

He also took them to the Cambio, once a Chamber of Commerce, to see
Perugino's frescoes, which he told them are more important in the world
of art than are his easel pictures. Here they seated themselves against
the wall wainscoted with rare wooden sculptures, on the same bench on
which all lovers of the old painter's art who have visited Perugia
through four centuries have sat.

[Illustration: PERUGINO. UFFIZI GALLERY FLORENCE.

HEAD OF MADONNA. FROM MADONNA AND SAINTS.]

And here they studied long the figures of those old Roman heroes chosen
by Perugino to symbolize the virtues; figures which possess a unique
and irresistible charm because of their athletic proportions and
vigorous action, while their faces are sweet, womanish, and tender, full
of the pensive, mystic devotion which is so characteristic of this old
master and his pupils.



Chapter XII.

Robert Sumner Fights a Battle.

    _So nigh is grandeur to our dust,
    So near is God to man,
    When duty whispers low, Thou must,
    The youth replies, I can._

    --EMERSON.

[Illustration: SAN FRANCESCO, ASSISI.]


Barbara and Bettina had not realized how near they were to Assisi until
talk of driving thither began. In their study of art St. Francis had
figured quite largely, because the scenes in his life were such favorite
ones for representation by the old masters. They had read all about him,
and so were thoroughly prepared for the proposed trip to the home of
this most important old saint.

Bettina was in a fever of excitement. Drive to Assisi! Drive to the home
of St. Francis! Go through the streets in which he played when a little
boy; walked and rode when a prodigal young man, clad in the richest,
most extravagant attire he could procure; from which he went out in his
martial array; out of which he was taken prisoner when Perugia conquered
Assisi! Drive, perhaps, along that very street in which, after his
conversion, he met the beggar with whom he changed clothes, giving him
the rich garments, and himself putting on the tatters! Or along which
his disappointed father followed him in the fury of persecution, after
he had given his life to poverty and deeds of love! Look upon Mount
Subasio, whither he so loved to retire for prayer! See those very scenes
in the midst of which he and his brethren lived six or seven hundred
years ago! Could it be possible that she and Barbara were about to do
this? It was almost as exciting as when the first thought of coming to
Italy had entered their minds.

Finally the morning came; and through the winding valley they drove
fifteen miles, until they arrived at the church Santa Maria degli
Angeli, situated on a plain at the foot of the hill on which sits
Assisi. This immense church contains the Portiuncula,--that little
chapel so dear to St. Francis, in which he founded the Franciscan order
of monks, and in which he died,--and is a veritable Mecca, to which
pilgrimages are made from all parts of the Roman Catholic world.

They spent some time here in visiting the different spots of interest
within the church; in going out to see the tiny garden, where grow the
thornless rose-bushes with blood-stained leaves, according to the old
tradition, at which they were permitted to look through glass; and in
listening to the rambling talk of a transparent-faced old monk in brown,
Franciscan garb, who waxed more and more daring as he watched the
interested faces of the party, until his tales of the patron saint grew
so impossible that even poor Bettina's faith was sorely tried, and
Malcom stole furtive glances at her to see how she bore it all.

At length they were free, and went on up the hill to the city. They
stopped at a little hotel whose balcony commanded a magnificent view of
the country, lingered a while, lunched, and then went out to visit the
great double church of San Francesco, beneath which the saint is buried,
and where are notable frescoes by Cimabue and Giotto.

When all was over, and they were taking their carriages for Perugia, Mr.
Sumner said to his sister: "If you do not mind, I will drive in the
other carriage," and so took his seat with Barbara, Bettina, and Malcom.
All felt a little tired and were silent for a time, each busy with his
own thoughts. Finally Barbara asked, in a thoughtful tone:--

"Did you notice the names on the leaves of the travellers' book at the
hotel? I glanced over the opposite page as I wrote mine, and among the
addresses were Australia, Germany, Norway, England, and America."

"I noticed it," answered Mr. Sumner, "and of course, like you, could not
help asking myself the question, 'Why do travellers from all parts of
the Christian world come to this small city, which is so utterly
unimportant as the world reckons importance?' Simply because a good man
was once born, lived, and died here. Surely one renews one's faith in
God and humanity as one thinks of this fact."

"May not the paintings alone draw some visitors?" asked Malcom, after
thinking for a few moments of his uncle's words.

"But even then we must allow that the paintings would not have been here
if it were not for the saint; so it really amounts to about the same
thing, doesn't it?" answered his uncle, smiling.

"What a pity it is," said Bettina, thinking of the garrulous old monk
who so evidently desired to earn his _lira_, "that people will add so
much that is imaginary when there is enough that is true. It is a shame
to so exaggerate stories of St. Francis's life as to make them seem
almost ridiculous."

When their drive was nearly over and they were watching the ever nearing
Perugia, Malcom turned toward Mr. Sumner with a serious look and
said:--

"Uncle Robert, these Italian cities are wonderfully interesting, and I
think I have never enjoyed anything in my life so much as the fortnight
since we left Florence and, of course, the time we were there; and yet I
would not for worlds live here among them."

Then, as Mr. Sumner looked inquiringly at him, he continued, with an
excited flush: "What is there in them that a man could get hold of to
help, anyway? It seems to me as if their lives have been all lived, as
if they now are dead; and how can any new life be put into them? Look at
these villages we have been passing through! What power can make the
people wish for anything better than they have, can wake them up to make
more of the children than the parents are? In the present condition of
people and government, how can any man, for instance, such as you are,
really accomplish anything? How would one go about it? Now at home, you
know, if one is only man enough, he can have so much influence to make
things better; can give children better schools; can give people books;
can help lift the low-down into a higher place. He can help in making
all sorts of reforms, can be a _leader_ in such things. He can go into
politics and try to make them cleaner."

Malcom had spoken out of his heart, and, in sympathy with him, Bettina
squeezed Barbara's hand under the cover.

Barbara, however, was looking at Mr. Sumner, and her quick eyes had
noted the sensitive change of expression in his; the startled look of
surprise that first leaped into them, and the steady pain that followed.
An involuntary glance at Barbara told him that she recognized his pain
and longed to say something to help, but she could not; and it was
Bettina who, after a moment's silence, said gently:--

"I am sure you are right, Malcom, but I think I could live all my life
in this dear, beautiful Italy if all whom I love were with me."

Malcom did not for a moment think that his words would so touch his
uncle. He had spoken from his own stand-point, with thought of himself
alone, and would have been amazed indeed could he have known what a
steady flame within his uncle's mind his little spark had kindled.

       *       *       *       *       *

"What is the matter with Miss Sherman?" whispered Malcom in Margery's
ear, as, soon after dinner, they went out upon the terrace close to
their hotel to look at the moon rising over the distant hills.

That young lady had disappeared as soon as they arose from the table,
and Mrs. Douglas had sent Margery to her room to tell her they were
going out, but she had declined to accompany them.

"Mother thinks she is not feeling quite well," answered Margery, drawing
Malcom's face close to her own; "but I think she is vexed about
something."

The truth was that Miss Sherman was as nearly cross as she dared to be.
Were she with father and sister, instead of Mrs. Douglas's party, why!
then she could give vent to her feelings; and what a relief it would be!
But now she was trying her best to conquer them, or, rather, to hide
them; but the habit of a lifetime will not easily give way on occasion.

She had never been so happy in her life as since she left Florence with
Mrs. Douglas. Wherever she was, wherever she went, there was Mr. Sumner,
always full of most courteous consideration for her as his sister's
guest. She had been so happy that her sweetness and gentleness were
irresistible, and again and again had Mrs. Douglas congratulated herself
on having found such an enjoyable companion; and Mr. Sumner felt
grateful to her for enhancing his sister's happiness.

But to-day a change had taken place in the satisfactory tide of affairs.
Mr. Sumner had been willing--more than that--had _chosen_ to drive all
the way back from Assisi in the carriage with Malcom, Barbara, and
Bettina, and it was all she could do to hide her chagrin and
displeasure.

Mrs. Douglas, with her usual kind judgment, had decided that she was not
quite well, and throughout the drive had respected her evident desire
for silence, though she wondered a little at it.

So while she and Margery were talking about good St. Francis, whose
heart overflowed with love to every living creature--mankind, animals,
birds, and flowers, and whose whole life was given up to their
service--Miss Sherman hugged close her little jealous grievance and,
brooding over it, gave no thought to the associations of the place they
had just visited, or to the glorious Italian landscape through which
they were passing.

It was not that she really loved Mr. Sumner after all; that is, not as
some women love, for it was not in her nature to do so; but she did wish
to become his wife; and this had been her supreme thought during all the
months since she had met him. Lately the memory of his agitation when
Barbara had passed him that evening of the party had disagreeably
haunted her. It had so moved her that, truth to tell, she mourned over
Howard's death more because it served to withdraw an obstacle between
these two than for any other reason. That mere girl, she thought, might
prove a formidable rival. All the more had it seemed so, since she daily
saw what a lovely, noble young woman Barbara really was, and how worthy
a companion, even for Mr. Sumner.

So every moment he had devoted to herself or had seemed to choose to be
in her own society, was an especial cause for self-congratulation. But
now she furtively clinched her little gloved hand, and the lids lowered
over her beautiful eyes as they grew hard, and she did not wish to talk.

"I wonder what is the matter with Lucile" (for so Miss Sherman had
begged to be called), Mrs. Douglas queried with herself that night, and
sought among the events of the day for some possible explanation. "She
seems as if hurt by something." Suddenly the thought flashed into her
mind: "Can it be because Robert left us to drive with the others? Can it
be that she has learned to care for him so much as that?" And her
woman's nature overflowed with sympathy at the suggestion of such an
interpretation.

She had not forgotten the desire that crept into her heart that morning
of the day they spent at Fiesole; and now came the glad belief that if
Miss Sherman had really learned to love her brother, it must be that in
time he would feel it, and yield to the sweetness of her affection. She
did not wonder that Lucile should love her darling brother. Indeed, how
could any woman help it? And she was so sensitive that she might acutely
feel even such a little thing as his not returning in the carriage with
them. And her quietness might have been caused by the disappointment.
She would be herself the next morning; and Mrs. Douglas resolved to be
only kinder and more loving than ever to her.

And, indeed, the next morning the clouds were all dissipated, and Miss
Sherman accepted, with her usual sweet smile, her portion of the flowers
that Mr. Sumner brought to the ladies of his party.

But the night just passed would never be forgotten by Robert Sumner, and
had marked a vital change in his life. He had walked the floor of his
moonlighted room until the early morning hours, his thoughts given
wholly to the great subject Malcom's unconscious words had opened within
his mind. Could it be that unconsciously, through weakness, he had
yielded himself to a selfish course of living? He, whose one aim and
ideal had ever been to give his life and its opportunities for the
benefit of others? Had his view been a narrow one, when he had so longed
that it should be wide and ever wider?

It really began to seem so in the pitiless glare of the light now thrown
upon it. He had surely been living for his fellow-men. He had been
striving to make his own culture helpful to those who were less happy in
opportunity. But had his outlook been far and wide enough? Had not the
personal sorrow to which he had yielded narrowed to his eyes the
world,--_his_ world, in which God had put him? Living on here in his
loved Italy, the knowledge he had gained was being sent out to aid those
who already had enough to enable them to follow into the higher paths he
opened. His pictures, every one of which had grown out of his own heart,
were bearing messages to those whose eyes were opened to read. But what
of the great mass of humanity, God's humanity too, which was waiting for
some one to awaken the very first desires for culture? For some one to
open, never so little, the blind eyes? As Malcom had said, no one, no
foreigner certainly, could ever reach this class of people in Italy. The
Church and the heavy hand of past centuries of ignorance forbade this.

But what of the great young land across the waters where he had been
born--his own land--the refuge of the poor of all countries of the
earth, even of his dear Italy? Surely no power of influence there could
be forbidden. The good that wealth, culture, and art, guided by a heart
consecrated to humanity, could work was limitless there.

He now saw that his personal sorrow, his own selfish grief, had come
between all this and himself for six long years. In deep humiliation he
bowed himself; and looking out over the great plain at his feet, in
which lay Assisi and the paths the worn feet of St. Francis and his
brethren had so often trod six centuries ago, now all gilded with the
light of the same moon that was shining over the distant land of his
birth, Robert Sumner pledged his life anew to God and his fellow-man,
and determined that his old grief should be only a stepping-stone to a
larger service; that, keeping Italy and her treasures in his life only
as a recreation and a source of inspiration, he would hereafter live in
his own America.

In the peace of mind that came after the struggle, which was no slight
one, he slept and dreamed,--dreamed of the fair girl he had so loved
with all the force of his young, strong nature, and whom he had so long
mourned. She smiled upon him, and into her smile came the lovelight he
had seen in Barbara's eyes that birthday evening, and then she changed
into Barbara, and he awoke with the thought of the wistful look she had
given him the afternoon before when Malcom's words wounded.

In the morning, as he gave the flowers he had chosen expressly for her,
and their hands for a moment met, the remembrance of this dream flashed
into his mind, and Barbara, surprised, felt a momentary lingering of his
touch.

After breakfast Mrs. Douglas declared her intention to spend the morning
in writing letters, and advised the others to follow her example.

"You know we go to Rome to-morrow, and I prophesy no one of us will feel
like sparing much time for writing during our first days there," she
said.

Barbara and Bettina spent an hour on their home-letter, then stole away
alone, and finding a secluded spot on the grand terrace in front of
their hotel, sat down, with the great valley before them. The blue sky,
so clear and blue, was full of great white puffs of cloud whose shadows
were most fascinating to watch as they danced over the plain,--now
hiding a distant city,--now permitting just a gleam of sunshine to gild
its topmost towers; and anon flitting, leaving that city-crowned summit
all in light, while another was enveloped in darkness.

They talked long together, as only two girls who love each other can
talk--of the sky and the land; of the impressions daily received; of the
thoughts born of their present daily experiences; of the home friends
from whom they were so widely separated. Then they grew silent, giving
themselves to the dreamy beauty of the scene.

By and by Barbara, her eyes dark with unwonted feeling, turned
impulsively to her sister and began to talk of that which had been so
often in her mind,--her visit to Howard just before he died. Something
now impelled her to tell that of which she had before kept silence. Her
voice trembled as she described the scene--the eyes that spoke so much
when the voice was already forever silent--and the wonderful love she
saw in them when she gave the tender kiss.

"He did love you, did he not, Bab dear?" said Bettina, in a hushed,
awestricken voice.

"Should you ever have loved him?" she asked timidly after a pause,
looking at her sister as if she were invested with a new, strange
dignity, that in some way set her apart and hallowed her.

"No, dear, I am sure--not as he loved me. I wish, oh! so much, that I
could have made him happy; but since I know that could never have been,
do you know, Betty, I am beginning to be glad that he has gone from us;
that I can never give him any more pain. I never before dreamed what it
may be to love. You know, Betty, we have never had time to think of such
things; we have been too young. Somehow," and her fingers caressed the
roses in her belt, "things seem different lately."



Chapter XIII.

Cupid Laughs.

    _From court to the cottage,
      In bower and in hall,
    From the king unto the beggar,
      Love conquers all.
    Though ne'er so stout and lordly,
      Strive or do what you may,
    Yet be you ne'er so hardy,
      Love will find out the way._

    --ANONYMOUS

[Illustration: RUINS OF FORUM, ROME.]


Mr. Sumner and Mrs. Douglas had been most fortunate in getting
possession of extremely pleasant apartments close to the Pincio. These
were in the very same house in which they had lived with their parents
twenty years before, when Mrs. Douglas was a young girl of eighteen
years. Here she had first met and learned to love young Kenneth Douglas,
so that most tender memories clustered about the place, and she was glad
that her children should learn to know it.

She soon began to pick up the old threads of life. "Ah me! what golden
threads they then were," she often sighed. Mr. Sumner was at home here
in Rome almost as much as in Florence, and was busy for a time making
and receiving calls from artist friends.

Malcom had his own private guide, and from morning until night they
hardly saw him. He averred himself to be in the seventh heaven, and
there was little need that he should proclaim the fact; it was evident
enough. Julius Cæsar's Commentaries, Cicero's Orations, Virgil, all
Roman history were getting illuminated for him in such a way that they
would never grow dim.

But at first the others felt sensibly the change from dear, familiar
little Florence. Rome is so vast in her history, legend, and romance!
The city was oppressive at near sight.

"Shall we ever really know anything about it all?" asked the girls of
each other. Even Miss Sherman, who had been able to get a room in a
small hotel close by, and so was still their constant companion, wore a
little troubled air now and then, as if there were something she ought
to do and did not know how to set about it.

They drove all over the city; saw its ancient ruins--the Colosseum, the
Forums, the Palatine Hill, the Baths of Agrippa, Caracalla, Titus, and
Diocletian; visited the Pantheon, Castle of St. Angelo, and many of the
most important churches. They drove outside the walls on the Via Appia,
and saw all the many interesting things by the way. They sought all the
best points of view from which they could look out over the great city.

One afternoon they were all together on the wide piazza in front of San
Pietro in Montorio, which commands a very wide outlook. Here, after
having studied the location of chief points of interest, they gave
themselves up to the delight of a superb sunset view. As they lingered
before again taking their carriages, Malcom told some of his morning
experiences, and Barbara wistfully said:--

"I wonder if we ought not to begin some definite study of Roman history
and the old ruins. Betty and I have taken some books from the library in
Piazza di Spagna, and are reading hard an hour or two every day, but it
gives me a restless feeling to know that there is so much all about me
that I do not understand," and she looked inquiringly at Mr. Sumner.

"Robert and I have talked over this very thing," replied Mrs. Douglas.

"Shall I tell them what we think?" she asked her brother, as he rather
abruptly turned away. On his assent she continued:--

"It is a familiar question, since I very plainly remember hearing my
father and mother talk of it when I was your age, and Robert was but a
lad. My father said it would take a lifetime of patient study to learn
thoroughly all that can to-day be learned of what we call ancient
Rome--the Rome of the Cæsars; and how many Romes existed before that, of
which we can know nothing, save through legend and tradition! 'Now,
will it not be best,' he asked, 'that we read all we can of legend and
the chief points of Roman history up to the present time, so that the
subject of Rome get into our minds and hearts; and then try to absorb
all we can of the spirit of both past and present, so that we shall know
Rome even though we have not tried to find out all about her? We cannot
accomplish the latter, and if we try I fear we shall miss everything.'
My mother agreed fully with him. And so, many evenings at home; father
would read to us pathetic legends and stirring tales of ancient Roman
life; and we would often go and sit amidst the earth-covered ruins on
the Palatine. Here, children, I have heard your own dear father more
than once repeat, as only he could, Byron's graphic lines:--

    "Cypress and ivy, weed and wall-flower grown,
    Matted and mass'd together; hillocks heap'd
    On what were chambers, arch crushed, column strewn
    In fragments; choked-up vaults, and frescoes steep'd
    In subterranean damps, where the owl peep'd
    Deeming it midnight.

"He used to love to repeat bits of poetry everywhere, just as Margery
does.

"We climbed the Colosseum walls and sat there for hours dreaming of what
it once was--and so we went all over the city--until I really think I
lived in ancient Rome a part of the time. Often did I weep over the
tragic fate of Roman heroes and matrons as I was in the places sacred to
their history, so deeply impressed was I by the reality of the past life
of Rome. I had not followed the erudite words of any interpreter of the
ruins; I had not learned which was the particular pile of stones which
marks the location of the palace of Tiberius, Augustus, or Septimius
Severus; I could not even give name to all the various ruins of the
Roman Forum, but old Rome was very real to me, and has been ever since.

"Now," she continued, as she glanced at the interested faces about her,
"we are here for a very short time, and it does seem much the best to
both Robert and me that you should try to get Rome into your _hearts_
first. Don't be one bit afraid to grow sentimental over her. It is a
good place in which to give ourselves up to sentiment. We will take a
guide for all that which seems necessary. This one afternoon, however,
up here, when you have learned the location of the seven hills and have
clearly fixed in your minds the relative positions of the most important
ruins and old buildings is, in my opinion, worth more than would be many
afternoons spent in prowling through particular ruins; that is, for you.
Were we archæological students, it would of course be a far different
matter."

"And we will at once resume our study of paintings," said Mr. Sumner,
drawing nearer. "To-morrow morning, if Malcom has no engagement, we will
go to the Sistine Chapel to see Michael Angelo's frescoes. I have been
so busy until now that I could not get the time I wished for it."

The next morning, as Barbara and Bettina were getting ready for the
drive according to Mr. Sumner's appointment, Bettina, who was vigorously
brushing her brown suit, heard a sigh from her sister, and looking up
saw her ruefully examining her own skirt.

"Rather the worse for wear, aren't they, Barbara _mia_?"

"Indeed, they are. I didn't notice it, though, until we came here into
this bright Rome. We seem to have come all at once into spring sunshine
and the atmosphere of new clothes; and, Betty, I believe I do feel
shabby. I know you have been thinking the same thing, too; for everybody
else seems to have new spring dresses, and they are so fresh and pretty
that ours look doubly worse. Oh, dear!" and she sighed again.

Then, catching sight of her sister's downcast face, Barbara, in a
moment, after her usual fashion, rose above her annoyance and cried:--

"For shame, Barbara Burnett! to think that you are in Rome, the Eternal
City! that you are dressing to go to the Sistine Chapel to look at
Michael Angelo's frescoes! and do you dare to waste a thought on the
gown you are to wear! Oh, Betty! you are ashamed of me, too, I
know.--There, you dear old brown suit! Forgive me, and I never will do
such a mean thing again. To think of all the lovely places I have been
in with you, and now that I should like to cheat you out of seeing
Michael Angelo's frescoes!" and she adjusted the last button with such a
comical, half-disgusted expression on her face that Betty burst into a
merry laugh.

When the two girls came down stairs and stepped out upon the sidewalk
beside which the carriages were waiting, their radiant faces gave not
the slightest hint that any annoyance had ever lurked there; and no one,
looking into them, would ever give a thought to the worn brown dresses.
No one? not many, at least. Perhaps Miss Sherman, looking so dainty in
her own fresh attire, did. Anyway, as Mr. Sumner handed her into one of
the carriages, and himself springing in, took a seat beside her, she
shot a triumphant glance at Barbara, who was seating herself in the
other carriage with Bettina and Malcom. Mrs. Douglas and Margery had
gone out on some morning errand and would follow them presently so Miss
Sherman was alone with Mr. Sumner.

Robert Sumner was waging quite a battle with himself during these days.
Ever since that night at Perugia, he had found to his utter dismay that
he could not put Barbara out of his thoughts. Indeed, ever after the
evening of the birthday party she had assumed to him a distinct
individuality. It seemed as if he had received a revelation of what she
was to become. Every now and then as he saw her at home, the vision of
beautiful womanhood that had passed before him that evening would flash
into his mind, and the thought would come that sometime, somewhere, she
would find him into whose eyes could shine from her own that glorious
lovelight that he had for an instant surprised in them.

It had not seemed to him that he then saw the present Barbara, but that
which she was to be; and this future Barbara had no special connection
with the present one, save to awaken an interest that caused him to be
watchful of her. He had always recognized the charm of her
personality,--her frank enthusiasms, and her rich reserve; the wide
outlook and wise judgment of things unusual in one so young. But now he
began to observe other more intimate qualities,--the wealth of affection
bestowed on Bettina and the distant home; her tender regard to the
feelings of those about her; her quick resentment of any injustice; her
sturdy self-reliance; her sweet, unspoiled, unselfish nature; and her
longing for knowledge and all good gifts.

Then came Howard's death, and he realized how deeply she was moved. A
new look came often into her eyes, which he noted; a new tone into her
voice, which he heard. And yet he felt that the experience had not
touched the depths of her being.

While they were on the way from Florence to Rome he had rejoiced every
time he heard her voice ringing with the old merry tones, which showed
that she had for the moment forgotten all sad thoughts. When he was
ostensibly talking to all, he was often really talking only to Barbara,
and watching the expression of her eyes; and he always listened to catch
her first words when any new experience came to their party. He was
really fast getting into a dangerous condition, this young man nearly
thirty years old, but was as unconscious of it as a child.

At Perugia came the night struggle caused by Malcom's words; the dream,
and the morning meeting with Barbara. When his hand touched hers as he
put into them the roses, he felt again for an instant the electric
thrill that ran through him on the birthday night, when he met that
wonderful look in her eyes. It brought a feeling of possession, as if it
were the hand of his Margaret which he had touched,--Margaret, who was
so soon to have been his wife when death claimed her.

He tried to account for it. He was jealous for the beloved dead whose
words, whose ways, whose face had reigned supreme over his heart for so
many years, when he caught himself dwelling on Barbara's words,
recalling her tricks of tone, her individual ways.

He set himself resolutely to the task of overcoming this singular
tendency of his thought; and oh! how the little blind (but all-seeing)
god of love had been laughing at Robert Sumner all through the days
since they reached Rome.

Instead of driving and walking about with the others, he had zealously
set himself the task of calling at the studios of all his artist
friends; had visited exhibitions; had gone hither and thither by
himself; and yet every time had hastened home, though he would not admit
it to his own consciousness, in order that he might know where Barbara
was, what she was doing, and how she was feeling. He had busied himself
in fitting up a sky-lighted room for a studio, where he resolved to
spend many morning hours, forgetting all else save his beloved
occupation; and the very first time he sat before his easel a sketch of
Barbara's face grew out of the canvas. The harder he tried to put her
from his thoughts, the less could he do so, and he grew restless and
unhappy.

Another cause of troubled, agitated feeling was his decision to return
to America and there make his home. In this he had not faltered, but it
oppressed him. He loved this Italy, with her soft skies, her fair,
smiling vineyards and bold mountain backgrounds, her romantic legends,
and, above all, her art-treasures. He had taken her as his
foster-mother. Her atmosphere stimulated him to work in those directions
his heart loved best. How would it be when he should be back again in
his native land? He had fought his battle; duty had told him to go
there; and when she had sounded the call, there could be no retreat for
him. But love and longing and memory and fear all harassed him. He had
as yet said nothing of this to his sister, but it weighed on him
continually. Taken all in all, Robert Sumner's life, which had been
keyed to so even a pitch, and to which all discord had been a stranger
for so many years, was sadly jarred and out of tune.

Of course Mrs. Douglas's keen sisterly eyes could not be blind to the
fact that something was troubling her brother. And it was such an
unusual thing to see signs of so prolonged disturbance in him that she
became anxious to know the cause. Still she could not speak of it first.
Intimate as they were, the inner feelings of each were very sacred to
the other, and she must wait until he should choose to reveal all to
her.

She well knew that his heart had been wholly consecrated to the only
love it had heretofore known, and the query had often arisen in her mind
whether the approach of another affection might not in the first place
work some unhappiness. That he could ever love again as he had loved
Margaret she did not for a moment believe. She well knew, however, that
the happiness of any woman who might give her life into her brother's
keeping was safe, and her wish for him was that he might be so drawn
toward some loving woman that he might desire to make her his wife, and
so be blessed with family life and love; for the thought that he might
live lonely, without family ties, was inexpressibly sad to her loving
heart.

We have seen how the coming of Miss Sherman into their lives roused
these hopes afresh; and she now wondered if his evident unrest might be
caused by the first suggestion of the thought of asking her to become
his wife. It was evident that he admired her and enjoyed her society;
and, so far as Miss Sherman's feelings were concerned, she felt no
doubt. Indeed, she sometimes shrank a bit from the free display of her
fondness for his company, and hoped that Malcom and the girls might not
notice it. She easily excused it, however, to herself, although the
closer intimacy of daily intercourse was revealing, little by little,
flaws in the character she had thought so fair.

How utterly mistaken was Mrs. Douglas! and how shocked would Lucile
Sherman have been this very morning could she have known how strong a
longing leaped into Robert Sumner's heart to take into his hungry arms
that graceful figure in worn brown suit, with brave, smiling young face
and steadfast eyes, put her into his carriage, and drive
away,--anywhere,--so it only were away and away!

Or, how stern a grip he imposed on himself as he took his seat beside
her dimpling, chattering self, radiant with fresh colors and graceful
draperies.

Or, of the tumult of his thoughts as they drove along through the narrow
streets, across the yellow Tiber and up to the stately entrance of St.
Peter's.



Chapter XIV.

A Visit to the Sistine Chapel.

    _Deep love lieth under
      These pictures of time;
    They fade in the light of
      Their meaning sublime._

    --EMERSON.

[Illustration: ST. PETER'S AND CASTLE OF ST. ANGELO, ROME.]


They first passed into the great Cathedral in order to give a look at
that most beautiful of all Michael Angelo's sculptures--_Mary holding on
her knees her dead Son_. Barbara and Bettina had studied it on a former
visit to St. Peter's when Mr. Sumner was not with them. Now he asked
them to note the evident weight of the dead Christ,--with every muscle
relaxed,--a triumph of the sculptor's art; and, especially, the
impersonal face of the mother; a face that is simply the embodiment of
her feeling, and wholly apart from the ordinary human!

"This is a special characteristic of Michael Angelo's faces," he said,
"and denotes the high order of his thought. In it, he approached more
closely the conceptions of the ancient Greek masters than has any other
modern artist--and now we will go to the Sistine Chapel," he added,
after a little time.

They went out to the Vatican entrance, passed the almost historic Swiss
Guards, and climbed the stairs with quite the emotion that they were
about to visit some sacred shrine, so much had they read and so deeply
had they thought about the frescoes they were about to see.

For some time after they entered the Chapel Mr. Sumner said nothing. The
custodian, according to custom, provided them with mirrors; and each one
passed slowly along beneath the world-famous ceiling paintings, catching
the reflection of fragment after fragment, figure after figure. Soon the
mirrors were cast aside, and the opera-glasses Mr. Sumner had advised
them to bring were brought into use,--they were no longer content to
study simply a reflected image.

At last necks and eyes grew tired, and when Mr. Sumner saw this, he
asked all to sit for a time on one of the benches, in a corner apart
from others who were there.

"I know just how you feel," he said. "You are disappointed. The frescoes
are so far above our heads; their colors are dull; they are disfigured
by seams; there are so many subjects that you are confused and weary.
You are already striving to retain their interest and importance by
connecting them with the personality of their creator, and are
imagining Michael Angelo swung up there underneath the vault, above his
scaffoldings, laboring by day and by night during four years. You are
beginning in the wrong place to rightly comprehend the work.

"It is the magnitude of Michael Angelo's _conceptions_ that puts him
among the very first of painters; and it is the conception of these
frescoes that makes them the most notable paintings in the world. We
must dwell on this for a moment. When the work was begun it was the
artist's intention to paint on the end wall, opposite the altar, the
Fall of Lucifer, the enemy of man, who caused sin to befall him. This
was never accomplished. Then he designed to cover the ceiling (as he
did) with the chief Biblical scenes of the world's history that are
connected with man's creation and fall--to picture all these as looking
directly forward to Christ's coming and man's redemption; and then to
complete the series, as he afterward did, by painting this great _Last
Judgment_ over the altar. Is it not a stupendous conception?

"Let your eyes run along the ceiling as I talk. God is represented as a
most superbly majestic Being in the form of man. He separates light from
darkness. He creates the sun and moon. He commands the waters to bring
forth all kinds of fish; the earth and air to bring forth animal life.
He creates Adam: nothing more grand is there in the whole realm of art
than this magnificent figure, perfect in everything save the reception
of the breath of eternal life; his eyes are waiting for the Divine spark
that will leap into them when God's finger shall touch his own. He
creates Eve. In Paradise they sin, and are driven out by angels with
flaming swords. Then, a sad sequence to the parents' weakness, Cain
murders his brother Abel. The flood comes and destroys all their
descendants save Noah. He who has withstood evil is saved with his
family in the ark, and becomes the father of a new race."

"And do the pictures at the corners, and the single figures, have
anything to do with this subject?" asked Malcom, after a pause, during
which all were busy following the thoughts awakened by Mr. Sumner's
words.

[Illustration: MICHAEL ANGELO. SISTINE CHAPEL, ROME.

THE DELPHIAN SIBYL.]

"Yes, indeed; nothing here is foreign to the one great thought of the
painter. The four irregular spaces at the corners are filled with
representations of important deliverances of the Jewish people from
evil,--David slaying Goliath, the hanging of Haman, the serpent raised
in the wilderness, and Judith with the head of Holofernes. The
connection in Michael Angelo's mind evidently was that God, who had
always provided a help for His people, would also in His own time give
a Saviour from their sins.

"Ranged along the sides you see seven prophets and five sibyls: the
prophets foretold Christ's coming to the Jewish world, and the sibyls
sang of it to the Gentile world.

"Nowhere, however, do we see the waiting and the longing for the
coming of the Redeemer more strikingly shown than in these
families,--'Genealogy of the Virgin' they are commonly called,--that are
painted in the triangular spaces above the windows. Each represents a
father, mother, and little child, every bit of whose life seems utterly
absorbed with just the idea of patient, expectant waiting. When troubled
and weary, as we all are sometimes, you know, I have often come here to
gain calmness and strength by looking at one or two of these groups;"
and Mr. Sumner paused, with his eyes fixed on one of the loveliest of
the Holy Families, as they are sometimes called, as if he would now
drink in its spirit of hopeful peace.

"They are waiting," he resumed after a few minutes, "as only those can
wait who confidently hope; and, therefore, there is really nothing in
the rendering of all this grand conception that more clearly points to
the Saviour's coming than do these.

"I think this part of the frescoes has not generally received the
attention it merits.

"The decorative figures, called Athletes, that you see seated on the
apparently projecting cornice, at each of the four corners of the
smaller great divisions of the ceiling, are a wholly unique creation of
the artist, and serve as a necessary separation of picture from picture.
They are with reason greatly admired in the world of art.

"These many figures, each possessing distinct personality, were evolved
from the mind of the artist. We can never think of him as going about
through the city streets seeking models for his work as did Leonardo da
Vinci. His figures are as purely ideal as the creations of the old
Greeks. Now think of all this. Think of the sphere of the old master's
thought during these four years, and you will not wonder that he could
not sleep, but, restless, came again and again at night with a candle
fixed in his paper helmet to light the work of his hands."

All were silent. Never before had they seen Mr. Sumner so evidently
moved by his subject; and this made it all the more impressive. They
became impatient as they heard a little group of tourists chatting and
laughing in front of the _Last Judgment_; and when, finally, a crowd of
travellers with a noisy guide entered the Chapel, they quickly decided
to go away and to come again the next day.

"Thank you so much, Mr. Sumner," said Barbara, in a low, sympathetic
voice, as she found herself beside him as they came out through the long
corridor; "you have made it all very plain to us,--the greatness, the
skill, the patience of Michael Angelo. It is as if he had been inspired
by God."

"And why not?" was the gentle reply, as he looked down into the upturned
face so full of sweet seriousness. "Do you believe that the days of
inspiration were confined to past ages? God is the same as then, and
close at hand as then; man is the same and with the same needs.

    "The passive master lent his hand
    To the vast soul that o'er him planned,

wrote our Emerson, showing he believed, as I firmly do, that we
ourselves now work God's will, as men did ages ago; that God inspires us
even as he did the old Prophets."

"I love to believe so," said Barbara, simply.

"And," continued Mr. Sumner, "this does not lessen any man, but rather
makes him greater. Surely God's working through him makes him truly
grander than the mere work itself ever could."

As Malcom, Barbara, and Bettina drove homeward, their talk took a
serious turn. Malcom was deeply impressed by his uncle's last words,
which he had overheard, when taken into connection with all the
preceding thoughts about Michael Angelo. Finally he asked:--

"And then what can a man do? What did Michael Angelo, himself, do if, as
uncle suggested, God wrought through him?"

"Oh, I know!" exclaimed Bettina, eagerly. "I have heard papa and mamma
talk about the same thing more than once, only of course Michael Angelo
was not their subject. In the first place, he must have realized that
God sent him into the world to do something, and also that He had not
left him alone, but was with him. Papa always says that to realize this
begins everything that is good."

"Yes," interrupted Barbara. "He did feel this. Don't you remember that
he wrote in one of his letters that we were reading in that library book
the other day, 'Make no intimacies with any one but the Almighty alone'?
I was particularly struck by it, because just before I read it, I was
thinking what a lonely man he was."

"Yes, dear, I remember. And in the next place," continued Bettina, "papa
says we must get ourselves ready to do as _great_ work as is possible,
so that may be given us. If we do not prepare ourselves, this cannot
be. You know how Michael Angelo studied and studied there in Florence
when he was a young man; how he never spared himself, but 'toiled
tremendously,' as some one has said. And, next, we must do in the very
best way possible even the smallest thing God sees fit to give us to do,
so that we may be found worthy to do greater ones. But, Malcom, you know
all this as well or better than I do, and I know you are trying to do
these things too!" and Bettina blushed at the thought that she had been
preaching.

But Malcom laughed, and looked as if he could listen to so sweet a
preacher forever. Never were there two better comrades than he and
Bettina had been all their lives.

Barbara said little. There was a far-away look in her eyes that told of
unexpressed thought. She was pondering that which the morning had
brought; and underneath and through all was the happy knowledge that her
hero had not failed her. As usual he had committed new gifts into her
keeping. And the gentle, almost intimate, tones of his voice when he was
talking to her,--she felt it was to herself alone, though others
heard--dwelt like music in her ears.

Mr. Sumner had been calmed by the lesson of Michael Angelo's frescoes,
as he had often been before. In the presence of eternal
verities,--however they may be embodied to us,--our own private
concerns must ever grow trivial. What matters a little unrest or
disappointment, or even unhappiness, when our thought is engaged with
untold ages of God's dealing with mankind? With the wondrous fact that
God is with man,--Immanuel,--forever and forevermore?

That evening he spent with the family in their pretty sitting room, and
in answer to some questions about the _Last Judgment_, talked for a few
minutes about this large fresco, which occupied seven years of Michael
Angelo's life. He told them that although it is not perhaps so great as
a work of art as the ceiling frescoes, yet because of its conception, of
the number of figures introduced, the boldness of their treatment, and
the magnificence of their drawing, it stands unrivalled. He said they
ought to study it, bit by bit, group by group, after having once learned
to understand its design.

They talked of the grim humor of the artist in giving his Belial--the
master of Hades--the face of the master of ceremonies of the chapel, who
found so much fault with his painting of nude figures.

"That was the chief feature of interest in the picture to that group of
young people who stood so long before it this morning," said Mr. Sumner.
"I often notice that the portrait of grouty old Biagio attracts more
attention than any other of the nearly three hundred figures in the
picture."

"I don't wonder, for I want to see it too," said Malcom, laughing.

They talked also of Vittoria Colonna, at whose home and in whose
companionship the lonely master found all his happiness, especially
during these years of toil. The girls were much interested in her, and
Mr. Sumner said he would take them to visit the Colonna Palace, where,
among other pictures, they would find a portrait of this noble woman,
who was so famous in the literary life of her time.

       *       *       *       *       *

One morning, not long after, Malcom brought a handful of letters from
the banker's, among which several fell to Barbara and Bettina.

After opening two or three of his own, Mr. Sumner looked up and said:--

"I have here a letter dictated by Howard's grandmother. It contains only
a few words, which were written evidently by some friend, who adds that
the poor old lady is greatly prostrated, and it is feared will never
recover from the shock of his death."

"Poor woman! I wish it might have come less suddenly to her," replied
Mrs. Douglas, in a sympathetic voice.

After a little silence, during which all were busy with their letters,
a low cry burst from Barbara's lips.

Startled, all looked up to find her, pale as death, staring at a sheet
clutched in her hand, while Bettina had sunk on her knees with her arms
about her sister's waist.

"What is it? oh! what is it?" cried they.

Barbara found just voice enough to say: "No bad news from home," and
then appealingly held her letter toward Mr. Sumner.

"Shall I read it?" and as she bowed assent, he hastily scanned the
contents.

"Howard left a large portion of his money to Barbara," he said briefly,
in response to the inquiring eyes, and handed the letter back to the
agitated girl, who, with Bettina, sought their own room.

Then he added, striving to keep his voice calm and natural: "It seems
that the very day before he was taken ill, Howard went to a lawyer in
Florence and made a codicil to his will, in which he grouped several
bequests heretofore given, into one large one, which he gave to Barbara.
This he at once sent to his lawyer in Boston, who has now written to
Barbara."

"This is what poor Howard tried so hard to tell me at the last," said
Mrs. Douglas. "He began two or three times, but did not have the
strength to continue. I suspected it was something like this, but
thought it best not to mention it. How much is it?" she asked after a
pause, during which Malcom and Margery had talked in earnest tones.

"Nearly half a million," answered Mr. Sumner.

Barbara the owner of nearly half a million dollars! No wonder she was
overcome! It seemed like an Arabian Nights' tale.

"How perfectly lovely!" cried Margery; and her mother echoed her words.

Mr. Sumner looked rather grave. It was not that Barbara should have the
money, but that another should have the right to give it her. Some one
else to bless the life of the girl who was becoming so dear to him! To
whom he was beginning to long to bring all good things! It was as if the
dead Howard came in some way between himself and her; and he went out
alone beneath the trees of the Pincian Gardens to think it all over.

Meanwhile, the two girls were in their chamber. Barbara threw herself on
a couch beneath the window, and gazed with unseeing eyes up into the
depths of the Italian sky. She was stunned by the news the letter had
brought, and, as yet, thought was completely passive.

Bettina read several times the lawyer's letter, trying to understand
its contents. At last she said gently:--

"Can it be possible, Bab? I can hardly comprehend how much it is. We
have never thought of so much money in all our lives. Why! you are rich,
dear. You have more money than you ever can spend!"

Barbara sprang from the couch, and threw out her arms with an exultant
gesture.

"Spend! I hadn't once thought of that! Betty! Betty! Papa and mamma
shall have everything they wish! They shall never work so hard any more!
Mamma shall have a seamstress every day, and her poor pricked fingers
shall grow smooth! She shall have the loveliest clothes, and never again
give the prettiest of everything to you and me! Papa shall have
vacations, and books, and the study in hospitals he has so longed for!
Richard shall have college _certain_ to look forward to; Lois shall have
the best teachers in the world for her music; Margaret shall be an
artist; and dear little Bertie!--oh! he shall have what he needs for
everything he wishes to do and be! And they shall all come abroad to
this dear lovely Italy, and enjoy all that we are enjoying! And you and
I, Betty!--why!--you and I can have some new spring dresses!" And the
excited girl burst into a flood of tears, mingled with laughter at the
absurdity of her anti-climax.

Bettina did not know what to do. She had never seen Barbara so
overwrought with excitement. Presently, however, she began to speak of
Howard, and before long they were talking tenderly of the young man who
so short a time ago was a stranger to them, but whose life had been
destined to touch so closely their own.

Barbara was profoundly moved as she realized this proof of his affection
for her, and a depression was fast following her moment of exultation,
when a tap at the door ushered in Mrs. Douglas, who took her into her
arms as her mother would have done. Her sweet sympathy and bright
practical talk did a world of good in restoring to both the girls their
natural calmness.

Barbara, however, was in a feverish haste to do something that would
repay her parents for the money she and Betty were using, and, to soothe
her, Mrs. Douglas told her what to write to the lawyer, so that he would
at once transfer a few thousands of dollars to Dr. Burnett. Then she
said:--

"I would not write your father and mother about it until to-morrow. You
can do it more easily then; and I will write, too, if you would like.
Margery and Malcom are longing to see you. So is Robert, I am sure. And
will it not be best for you to go right out somewhere with us?"



Chapter XV.

A Morning in the Vatican.

    _Oh! their Rafael of the dear Madonnas._

    --BROWNING.

[Illustration: LOGGIA OF RAPHAEL, VATICAN, ROME.]


It was, of course, somewhat difficult for Barbara to adjust herself to
the new conditions. After the first, however, she said nothing to any
one save Bettina about the money Howard had left her, only, as in her
ignorance of business methods, she had need to consult Mrs. Douglas.

But she and Bettina had many things to talk over and much consultation
to hold regarding the future. One evening, after they had been thus
busy, Bettina said, nestling closer to her sister, as they sat together
on the couch, brave in its Roman draperies:--

"You must not always say '_our_ money,' Bab, dear."

"Why not?" with a startled look.

"Because it is _your_ money,--your very own;--the money Howard gave you
to spend for him, and yourself enjoy."

"But, Betty, we have shared everything all our lives. I do not know how
to have or use anything that is not yours as well as mine. If Howard had
known my heart, he would have had it just as I would. I shall give you
half, Betty. Do not, oh! do not refuse it. I shall not be happy with it
unless you are willing. Then you and I will work with it and enjoy it
together. It is the only way. Say yes, dear," and Barbara looked at her
sister with an almost piteous entreaty.

Bettina could say nothing for a time. Then, as if impelled by the force
of Barbara's desire, said:--

"Wait until we get home. Then, if you wish it as you do now, I will do
as papa and mamma think best; for, darling," in a somewhat quavering
voice, "I know if the money were all mine, I should feel just as you
do." And a loving kiss sealed the compact.

Meanwhile the days in Rome were passing,--lovely in nature as only
spring days in Italy can be; days filled to overflowing with delightful
and unique interest. For cities, as well as people, possess their own
characteristic individualities, and Rome is distinctively an individual
city.

From her foundation by the shepherd-kings far beyond the outermost
threshold of history, down through the six or seven centuries during
which she was engaged in conquering the nations; through the five
hundred years of her undisputed reign as proud mistress of the world; in
her sad decay and fall; and to-day in her resurrection, she is only
herself--unlike all other cities.

The fragmentary ruins of her great heathen temples arise close beside
her Christian churches,--some are even foundations for them,--while the
trappings of many have furnished the rich adornments of Christian
altars. Her mediæval castles and palaces, crowded to overflowing with
heart-breaking traditions, look out over smiling gardens in the midst of
which stand the quiet, orderly, innocent homes of the present race of
commonplace men and women. Her vast Colosseum is only an immense quarry.
Her proud mausoleum of the Julian Cæsars is an unimportant circus.

We drive or walk on the Corso, along which the Cæsars triumphantly led
processions of captives; through which, centuries later, numberless
papal pageants made proud entries of the city; where the maddest
jollities of carnival seasons have raged: and we see nothing more
important than modern carriages filled with gayly dressed women, and
shops brilliant with modern jewellery and pretty colored fabrics; and we
purchase gloves, handkerchiefs, and photographs close to some spot over
which, perchance, Queen Zenobia passed laden with the golden chains that
fettered her as she graced the triumph of Emperor Aurelian; or
Cleopatra, when she came conqueror of the proud heart of Julius Cæsar.

We linger on the Pincio, listening to the sweet music of the Roman band,
while our eyes wander out over the myriad roofs and domes to where great
St. Peter's meets the western horizon; and we forget utterly those dark
centuries during which this lovely hill was given over to Nero's fearful
ghost, until a Pope, with his own hands, cut down the grand trees that
crowned its summit, thus exorcising the demon birds which the people
believed to linger in them and still to work the wicked emperor's will.

We take afternoon tea at the English Mrs. Watson's, beside the foot of
the _Scala di Spagna_, close to whose top tradition tells us that
shameless Messalina, Claudius's empress, was mercilessly slain.

And so it is throughout the city. Tradition, legend, and romance have
peopled every place we visit. Wars, massacres, and horrible suffering
have left a stain at every step. Love and faith and glorious
self-sacrifice have consecrated the ways over which we pass. And though
we do not give definite thought to these things always, yet all the
time the city is weaving her spell about our minds and hearts, and we
suddenly arouse to find that, traditional or historic, civilized or
barbarous, conqueror or conquered, ancient or modern, she has become
_Cara Roma_ to us, and so will be forevermore.

Thus it had been with Mrs. Douglas and Mr. Sumner, and so it now was
with the young people of their household who had come hither for the
first time.

The days flew fast. It was almost difficult to find time when all could
get together for their art study. Mr. Sumner had told them at first that
here they would study under totally different conditions from those in
Florence, so separated are the works of any particular artist save
Michael Angelo.

They had already visited individually, as they chose, those historic
palaces in which are most important family picture-galleries, such as
the Colonna, Farnese, Doria, Corsini, Villa Borghese, etc., but they
wished to go all together to the Vatican to hear Mr. Sumner talk of
Raphael's works, and right glad were they when finally a convenient time
came.

They walked quickly through many pictured rooms and corridors until they
reached the third room of the famous picture-gallery, where they took
seats, and Mr. Sumner said, in a low voice:--

"I did not wish to come here immediately after we had studied Michael
Angelo's frescoes. It was better to wait for a time, so utterly unlike
are these two great masters of painting. I confess that I never like to
compare them, one with the other, although their lives were so closely
related that it is always natural to do so. Their characters were
opposite; so, also, their work. One sways us by his all-compelling
strength; the other draws us by his alluring charm. Michael Angelo is in
painting what Dante and Shakespeare are in poetry, and Beethoven in
music; Raphael is like the gentle Spenser and the tender Mozart. Michael
Angelo is thoroughly original; Raphael possessed a peculiarly receptive
nature, that caught something from all with whom he came into close
contact. Michael Angelo strove continually to grow; Raphael struggled
for nothing. Michael Angelo's life was sternly lonely and sorrowful;
Raphael's bright, happy, and placid. Michael Angelo lived long; Raphael
died in early manhood.

"Still," he continued, after a moment, as he noted the sympathetic faces
about him, "although I have mentioned them, I beg of you not to allow
any of these personal characteristics or distinctions to influence you
in your judgment of the work of these two. Forget the one to-day as we
study the other.

"You have read much of Raphael's life, so I will not talk about that.
You remember that, when young, he studied in Perugia, in Perugino's
studio, and perhaps you will recollect that, when we were there, I told
you that his early work was exceedingly like that of this master.

"Now, look! Here right before us is Raphael's _Coronation of the
Virgin_,--his first important painting. See how like Perugino's are the
figures. Notice the exquisite angels on either side of the Virgin, which
are so often reproduced! See their pure, childlike faces and the queer
little stiffness that is almost a grace! See the sweet solemnity of
Christ and the Madonna, the staid grouping of the figures below,--the
winged cherubim,--the soft color!

"I have here two photographs," and he unfolded and passed one to
Margery, who was close beside him, "which I wish you to look at
carefully. They are of works painted very soon after the _Coronation_;
one, the _Marriage of the Virgin_, or _Lo Sposalizio_, is in the Brera
Gallery at Milan. It is as like Perugino's work as is the _Coronation_."

After a time spent in looking at and talking about the picture, during
which Bettina told the story of the blossomed rod which Joseph bears
over his shoulder, and the rod without blossoms which the disappointed
suitor is breaking over his knee, Mr. Sumner gave them the other
photograph.

"This," he resumed, "you will readily recognize, as you have so often
looked at the picture in the Pitti Gallery in Florence--the _Madonna del
Gran Duca_. This is the only Madonna that belongs to this period of
Raphael's painting, and the last important picture in the style. It was
painted during the early part of his visit to Florence."

"I never see this, uncle," said Margery, as she passed the photograph on
to the others, "without thinking how the Grand Duke carried it about in
its rich casket wherever he went, and said his prayers before it night
and morning. I am glad the people named it after him. Don't you think it
very beautiful, uncle?"

"Yes; and it is one of the purest Madonnas ever painted--so impersonal
is the face," replied Mr. Sumner.

"I wish," he continued, "I could go on like this through a list of
Raphael's works with you, but it is utterly impossible, so many are
there. When he went to Florence, where you know he spent some years, he
fell under the influence of the Florentine artists, and his work
gradually lost its resemblance to Perugino's. It gained more freedom,
action, grace, and strength of color. Some examples of this second
style of his painting are the _Madonna del Cardellino_, or Madonna of
the Goldfinch, which you will remember in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence,
and _La Belle Jardinière_ in the Louvre, Paris. But I have brought
photographs of these pictures so that you may see the striking
difference between them and those previously painted."

Murmured exclamations attested the interest with which the comparison
was made. After all seemed satisfied, Mr. Sumner continued:--

"After Raphael came to Rome, summoned by the same Pope Julius II. who
sent for Michael Angelo, and was thus brought under the influence of
that great painter, his method again changed. It grew firmer and
stronger. Then he painted his best pictures,--and so many of them! So,
you can see, it is somewhat difficult to characterize Raphael's work as
a whole, for into it came so many influences. One thing, however, is
true. From all those whom he followed, he gathered only the best
qualities. His work deservedly holds its prominent place in the world's
estimation;--so high and sweet and pure are its _motifs_, while their
rendering is in the very best manner of the High Renaissance. No other
artist ever painted so many noble pictures in so few years of time."

"Did not his pupils assist him in many works, uncle?" asked Malcom, as
his uncle paused for a moment.

"Yes," replied Mr. Sumner, rising, "especially in the frescoes that we
shall see by and by. It would have been utterly impossible for him to
have executed all these with his own hand. Let us now go out into
this next gallery through which we entered, and look at the
_Transfiguration_."

So they went into the small room which is dedicated wholly to three
large pictures:--the _Transfiguration_ and _Madonna di Foligno_ by
Raphael, and the _Communion of St. Jerome_ by Domenichino.

"Raphael's last picture, which he left unfinished!" murmured Bettina,
and she took an almost reverential attitude before it.

"How very, very different from the _Coronation_!" exclaimed Barbara,
after some moments of earnest study. "That is so utterly simple, so
quiet! This is more than dramatic!"

"Raphael's whole lifetime of painting lies between the two," replied Mr.
Sumner, who had been intently watching her face as he stood beside her.

"Do you like this, Mr. Sumner? I do not think I do, really," said Miss
Sherman, as she dropped into a chair, her eyes denoting a veiled
displeasure, which was also apparent in the tones of her voice.

"It is a difficult picture to judge," replied Mr. Sumner, slowly. "I
wish you all could have studied many others before studying this one.
But, indeed, you are so familiar with Raphael's pictures that you need
only to recall them to mind. This was painted under peculiar
circumstances,--in competition, you remember, with Sebastian del
Piombo's _Resurrection of Lazarus_; and Sebastian was a pupil of Michael
Angelo. Some writers have affirmed that that master aided his pupil in
the drawing of the chief figures in his picture. Raphael tried harder
than he ever had done before to put some of the dramatic vigor and
action of Michael Angelo into the figures here in the lower part of the
_Transfiguration_. The result is that he overdid it. It is not
Raphaelesque; it is an unfortunate composite. The composition is fine;
the quiet glory of heaven in the upper part,--the turbulence of earth in
the lower, are well expressed; but the perfection of artistic effect is
wanting. It is full of beauties, yet it is not beautiful. It has many
defects, yet only a great master could have designed and painted it."

By and by they turned their attention to the _Madonna di Foligno_, and
were especially interested in it as being a votive picture. Margery, who
was very fond of this Madonna, with the exquisite background of angels'
heads, had a photograph of it in her own room at home, and knew the
whole story of the origin of the picture. So she told it at Malcom's
request, her delicate fingers clasping and unclasping each other,
according to her habit, as she talked.

"How true it is that one ought to know the reason why a picture is
painted, all about its painter, and a thousand other things, in order to
appreciate it properly," said Malcom, as they turned to leave the room.

"That is so," replied his uncle. "I really feel," with an apologetic
smile, "that I can do nothing with Raphael. There is so much of him
scattered about everywhere. We will regard this morning's study as only
preliminary, and you must study his pictures by yourselves, wherever you
find them. By the way," and he turned to look back through the doorway,
"you must not forget to come here again to see Domenichino's great
picture. How striking it is! But we must not mix his work with
Raphael's."

They passed through the first room of the gallery, stopping but a moment
to see two or three comparatively unimportant pictures painted by
Raphael, and went out into the Loggia.

"I brought you through this without a word, when we first came," said
Mr. Sumner. "But now I wish you to look up at the roof-paintings. They
were designed by Raphael, but painted by his pupils. You see they all
have Bible subjects. For this reason this Loggia is sometimes called
'Raphael's Bible.' The composition of every picture is simple, and in
the master's happiest style."

As they left the Loggia and entered "Raphael's Stanze," a series of
rooms whose walls are covered with his frescoes, Mr. Sumner said:--

"We will to-day only give a glance at the paintings in this first room.
They are, as you see, illustrative of great events in the history of
Rome. They were executed wholly by Raphael's pupils, after his designs."

"I shall come here again," said Malcom, in a positive tone. "This is
more in my line than Madonnas," and he made a bit of a wry face.

"And better still is to come for you," returned his uncle with a smile,
as they passed on. "Here in this next room are scenes in the religious
history of the city, and here," as they entered the third room, "is the
famous Camera della Segnatura."

"Room of the Signatures! Why so called?" asked Barbara.

"Because the Papal indulgences used to be signed here; and here,"
continued Mr. Sumner, turning for a moment toward Malcom, "are the
greatest of all Raphael's frescoes. We will now stop here for a few
minutes, and you must come again for real study. The subjects are the
representations of the most lofty occupations that engage the minds of
men--Philosophy, Justice, Theology, and Poetry. This is the first
painting done by Raphael in the Vatican, and it is all his own work,
both design and execution.

"Here on this side," pointing at a large fresco which covered the entire
wall, "is _La Disputa_, or _Theology_. Above, on the ceiling, you see a
symbolic figure representing Religion, with the Bible in one hand and
pointing down at the great picture with the other. Opposite is the
_School of Athens_. Above this is a figure emblematic of Philosophy,
wearing a diadem and holding two books. On the two end walls, broken, as
you see, by the windows, are _Parnassus_, peopled with Apollo and the
Muses, together with figures of celebrated poets,--above which is the
crowned figure with a lyre which represents Poetry,--and," turning, "the
_Administration of Law_, with ceiling-figure with crown, sword, and
balance, symbolizing Justice. In this room the painter had much to
contend against. These opposite windows at the ends, which fill the
space with cross-lights, and around which he must place two of his
pictures, must have been discouraging. But the compositions are
consummately fine, and the whole is so admirably managed that one does
not even think of that which, if the work were less magnificent, would
be harassing.

"I advise you to come here early some morning and bring with you some
full description of the pictures, which tells whom the figures are
intended to represent. Study first each painting as a whole; see the
fine distribution of masses; the general arrangement; the symmetry of
groups which balance each other; the harmony of line and color. Then
study individual figures for form, attitude, and expression. I think you
will wish to give several mornings to this one room.

"What do you think of this, Malcom? Do you not wish to get acquainted
with Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and Virgil?" added Mr. Sumner, putting
his hand suddenly on the young man's shoulder, and looking into his face
to surprise his thought.

"I think it is fine, Uncle Rob. It's all right;" and Malcom's steady
blue eyes emphasized his satisfaction.

"What do you call Raphael's greatest picture?" asked Barbara, as they
turned from the frescoed walls.

"These are his most important frescoes," replied Mr. Sumner; "and all
critics agree that his most famous easel picture is the _Madonna di San
Sisto_ in the Dresden Gallery. This is so very familiar to you that it
needs no explanation. It was, you know, his last Madonna, and it
contains a hint of Divinity in both mother and child never attained by
any painter before or since."

"When shall we see Raphael's tapestries?" asked Margery, as they finally
passed on through halls and corridors.

"I hardly think I will go with you to see those, Madge dear," answered
her uncle. "There is no further need that I explain any of Raphael's
work to you. Your books and your own critical tastes, which are pretty
well formed by this time, will be quite sufficient. Indeed," looking
around until he caught Barbara's eyes, "I really think you can study all
the remaining paintings in Rome by yourselves," and he was made happy by
seeing the swift regret which clouded them.

"When we return to Florence," he added, "you will be more interested
than when we were there before in looking at Raphael's Madonnas and
portraits in those galleries; and on our way from Florence to Venice, we
will stop at Bologna to see his _St. Cecilia_".

"How perfectly delightful!" cried Bettina. "I have been wishing to see
that ever since we went to the church of St. Cecilia the other day. I
was greatly interested to know that it had once been her own home, and
in everything there connected with her. She was so brave, and true, and
good! It seems as if Raphael could have painted a worthy picture of
her!"

As Bettina suddenly checked her pretty enthusiasm, her face flushed
painfully, and Barbara, seeking the cause, caught the supercilious smile
with which Miss Sherman was regarding her sister. She at once divined
that poor Bettina feared that, in some way, she had made herself
ridiculous to the older lady.

Going swiftly to her sister she threw her arm closely about her waist,
and with a charming air of defiance,--with erect head and flashing eyes,
said:--

"Mr. Sumner, St. Cecilia is a real, historical character, is she not? As
much so as St. Francis, Nero, or Marcus Aurelius?" The slight emphasis
on the last name recalled to all the party the effusive eulogiums Miss
Sherman had lavished upon that famous imperial philosopher a few days
before, while they were looking at his bust in the museum of Palazzo
Laterano; when, unfortunately, she had imputed to him certain utterances
that rightfully belong to another literary man who lived in quite a
different age and country.

Mr. Sumner could not avoid a merry twinkle of his eyes as he strove to
answer with becoming gravity, and Malcom hastily pushed on far in
advance.

Once at home, Malcom and Margery gave their version of the affair to
their mother.

"It isn't the first time she has looked like that at both Barbara and
Betty," averred Malcom, emphatically, "and they have known and felt it,
too."

"I am very sorry," said Mrs. Douglas, with a troubled look.

"Oh! you need not fear anything further, mother _mia_" said Malcom,
sympathizingly. "Barbara will never show any more feeling. She would not
have done it for herself, only for Betty. Under the circumstances she
just had to fire her independence-gun, that is all. Now there will be
perfect peace on her side. You know her.

"And," he added in an aside to Margery, as his mother was leaving the
room, "Miss Sherman will not dare to be cross openly for fear of mother
and Uncle Rob. I didn't dare to look at her. But wasn't it rich?" And he
went off into a peal of laughter.

"It was only what she deserved, anyway," said Margery, who was usually
most gentle in all her judgments.

It was quite a commentary on Mrs. Douglas's judgment of Lucile Sherman's
character at this time, that she now deemed it best to tell her of
Howard's bequest to Barbara, about which she had heretofore held
silence.



Chapter XVI.

Poor Barbara's Trouble.

    _O, how this spring of love resembleth
    The uncertain glory of an April day;
    Which now shows all the beauty of the sun,
    And by and by a cloud takes all away._

    --SHAKESPEARE.

[Illustration: A BIT OF AMALFI.]


Barbara and Bettina, sometimes accompanied by Mrs. Douglas, sometimes by
Malcom, usually by Margery, saw all the remaining and important art
treasures of Rome.

They studied long the Vatican and Capitol sculptures; went to the
Barberini Palace to see Raphael's _La Fornarina_, so rich in color; and,
close beside it, the pale, tearful face of Beatrice Cenci, so long
attributed to Guido Reni, but whose authorship is now doubtful; to the
doleful old church Santa Maria dei Capuccini, to see _St. Michael and
the Dragon_ by Guido Reni, in which they were especially interested,
because Hawthorne made it a rendezvous of the four friends in his
"Marble Faun," where so diverse judgments of the picture were
pronounced, each having its foundation in the heart and experience of
the speaker. They had been reading this book in the same way in which
they had read "Romola" in Florence, and each girl was now the happy
possessor of a much-prized copy, interleaved by herself with photographs
of the Roman scenes and works of art mentioned in the book.

They went to the garden-house of the Rospigliosi Palace to see on its
ceiling Guido Reni's _Aurora_, one of the finest decorative pictures
ever painted. And to the Accademia di San Luca to find the drawing by
Canevari after Van Dyck's portrait of the infant son of Charles I. in
the Turin Gallery, which is so often reproduced under the name of the
_Stuart Baby_. Not many pictures, great or small, escaped their eager
young eyes. They grew familiar with the works of Domenichino, Guercino,
Garofalo, Carlo Dolci, Sassoferrato, etc., and the days of their stay in
Rome rapidly passed by.

Mrs. Douglas was very desirous to take them for a few days to Naples, or
rather to the environments of Naples. To herself it would be a
pilgrimage of affection; and in those drives, loveliest in the world,
she would recall many precious memories of the past.

"I hesitated to speak of doing this before," said she, when she
suggested it to her brother, "because I have tried to make the whole
trip comparatively inexpensive, remembering the shortness of the dear
doctor's purse. Now, of course, this needs no consideration."

So they planned to go there for a short visit; and on their return it
would be time to pack their trunks for Florence, where they were to stop
two or three days before going northward toward Venice.

A morning ride from Rome to Naples during the early days of May is
idyllic. In the smiling sunshine they rushed on through wide meadows
covered with luxuriant verdure and vineyards flushed with delicate
greens. After they had passed Capua, which is magnificently situated on
a wide plain,--amphitheatre-like within its half-circle of lovely hills,
flanked behind by the Apennines,--Malcom said, as he finally drew in his
head from the open window and, with a very contented look, settled back
into a corner of the compartment, with one arm thrown about his mother's
shoulders:--

"It is no wonder that old Hannibal's army grew effeminate after the
soldiers had lived here for some months, and so was easily conquered.
Life could not have had many hardships in such a place as this.

"I declare!" he added with a laugh as he shook back the wind-blown hair
from his forehead; "it is difficult to realize these days in what
century one is living. My mind has been so full of ancient history
lately that I feel quite like an antique myself."

"I know," answered his uncle with a smile, "how life widens and
lengthens as thought expands under the influence of travel through
historic scenes. One may study history from books for a lifetime and
never realize it as he would could he, even for an hour, be placed upon
the very spot where some important event took place. What a fact
Hannibal's army of two thousand years ago becomes to us when we know
that these very mountain tops which are before us looked down upon
it,--that its soldiers idled, ate, and slept on this very plain."

Thus talking, almost before they knew, they came out upon the beautiful
Bay of Naples. They saw the little island of Capri, the larger Ischia
crowned with its volcanic mountains, and, between it and the point of
Posilipo, where once stood Virgil's villa, the tiny island Nisida (old
"Nesis"), whither Brutus fled after the assassination of Julius Cæsar;
where Cicero visited him, and where he bade adieu to his wife, Portia,
when he set sail for Greece.

"Looking out over this same bay, these same islands, Virgil sang of
flocks, of fields, and of heroes," said Mr. Sumner, following the former
line of thought, as he began to take from the racks above the valises
of the party.

Arrived at their hotel, which was situated in the higher quarters of the
city, they were ensconced in rooms whose balconied windows commanded
magnificent views of the softly radiant city, the bay, and, close at
hand, Mount Vesuvius, over which was hovering the usual cloud of smoke.

At the close of the afternoon Barbara and Bettina stood long on their
own window-balcony. The scene was fascinating--even more so than they
had dreamed.

"There is but one Naples, as there is but one Rome and one Florence,"
said Barbara softly. "Each city is grandly beautiful in its own
individual way, but for none has nature done so much as for Naples."

In silence they watched the sunset glow and the oncoming twilight, until
the call for dinner sounded through the halls.

"I fear to leave it all," said Bettina, turning reluctantly away, "lest
we can never find it again."

The next three days were crowded to the brim. One was spent in going to
the top of Vesuvius; another in the great Museum, so interesting with
its remains of antique sculptures, so destitute of important paintings;
the third in driving about the city, to San Martino, and around the
point of Posilipo, ending with a visit to Virgil's tomb.

Then came the Sabbath, and they attended morning service in the
Cathedral,--in the very chapel of San Januarius which is decorated with
pictures by Domenichino, Guido Reni, and Lanfranco, the completion of
which was prevented by the jealousy of the Neapolitan painters.

The next morning they went to Pompeii, where in the late afternoon
carriages were to meet them for beginning the drive through
Castellammare, Sorrento, and Amalfi to La Cava.

The absorbing charm of Pompeii, whose resurrection began after nearly
seventeen centuries of burial and is yet only partial, at once seized
them,--all of them,--for, visit the ruined city often as one may, yet
the sight of its worn streets with their high stepping-stones, its
broken pavements, its decorated walls, its shops,--all possess such an
atmosphere of departed life that its fascination is complete, and does
not yield to familiarity.

After hours of wandering about with their guide, seeing the points of
most interest,--the beautiful houses recently excavated, the homes of
Glaucus, of Pansa, of Sallust, of Orpheus, of Diomedes and very many
others; the forum, temples, and amphitheatre--they sat long amid the
ruins, looking at the fatal mountain, so close at hand, and the
desolation at its foot, and meditated upon the terrors of that fearful
night.

Malcom read aloud the story as related by Pliny, a volume of whose
letters he had put into his pocket, and Margery recited some lines of a
beautiful sonnet on Pompeii which she had once learned, whose author she
did not remember:--

    "No chariot wheels invade her stony roads;
    Priestless her temples, lone her vast abodes,
    Deserted,--forum, palace, everywhere!
    Yet are her chambers for the master fit,
    Her shops are ready for the oil and wine,
    Ploughed are her streets with many a chariot line,
    And on her walls to-morrow's play is writ,--
    Of that to-morrow which might never be!"

The spell was not broken until Mr. Sumner, looking at his watch,
declared it was quite time they should return to the little hotel, take
an afternoon lunch, and so be ready when the carriages should await
them.

The beauty of the drive from Naples to the Bay of Salerno has been set
forth, by many writers, in prose and song and poem, and remembering
this, Barbara's and Bettina's faces were radiant with expectation as
they started upon it. Malcom and Margery were in the carriage with them;
the atmosphere was perfection; the sun shone with just the right degree
of heat; the waters of the beautiful Bay of Naples were just rippling
beneath the soft breeze, and seventeen miles of incomparable loveliness
lay between them and Sorrento, where they were to spend the night. What
wonder they were happy!

Just as they were entering the town of Castellammare (the ancient
Stabiæ, where the elder Pliny perished) the carriage containing Mrs.
Douglas, Miss Sherman, and Mr. Sumner, which had thus far followed them,
dashed past, and its occupants were greeted with a merry peal of
laughter from the four young voices.

"How joyous they are!" exclaimed Mrs. Douglas, her own face reflecting
their happiness. "You look envious, Robert."

Then, turning to Miss Sherman, she added: "I never tire of watching
Barbara and Bettina these days. I believe they are two of the rarest
girls in the world. Nothing has yet spoiled them, and I think nothing
ever will. It has been one of the sweetest things possible to see their
little everyday charities since they have had money in abundance.
Before, they felt that every dollar their parents spared them was a
sacred trust to be used just for their positive needs. Now, their
evident delight in giving to the flower-girls, to the street-gamins, to
the beggars, to everything miserable that offers, is delightful."

"Do you think Barbara will know how to be wise in the spending of her
money?" asked Miss Sherman, with a constrained smile.

"As to the wise ways of spending money," answered Mrs. Douglas, stealing
a glance at her brother's imperturbable face opposite, "everybody has
his own individual opinion. I, myself, feel sure of Barbara. Before her
money came, she had received the greater and far more important heritage
of a noble-minded ancestry and a childhood devoted to unselfish living
and the seeking of the highest things. During these eighteen years her
character has been formed, and it is so grounded that the mere
possession of money will not alter it. To my mind it is a happy thing
that Howard's money will be used in such a personal way as I think it
will be."

"Personal a way?" queried Miss Sherman.

"I mean personal as distinguished from institutional--you know his first
intention was to endow institutions. For instance, within a week after
Barbara received the lawyer's announcement, she consulted me as to how
she could best make provision for an old lady who has been for years
more or less of a pensioner of her father's family. The dear old woman
with a little aid has supported herself for many years, but lately it
has seemed as if she would have to give up the wee bit of a home she
loves so much and become an inmate of some great Institution, and this
would almost break her heart. Barbara was in haste to put enough money
at her disposal so that a good woman may be hired to come and care for
her so long as she shall live, and to provide for all her wants. Also
she remembered a poor young girl, once her and Betty's schoolmate, who
has always longed for further study, whose one ambition has been to go
to college. This was simply impossible, not even the strictest economy,
even the going without necessities, has gathered together sufficient
money for the expenses of a single year. Before we left Rome, Barbara
arranged for the deposit in the bank at home of enough money to permit
this struggling girl to look forward with certainty to a college course,
and wrote the letter which will bring her so much joy.

"Dear child!" she continued tenderly, after a pause; "the only bit of
money she has yet spent for herself was to get the spring outfits that
she and Betty have really needed for some time, but for which they did
not like to use their father's money.

"And I do believe," after another pause, "that the two girls' lives will
be passed as unostentatiously as if the money had not come to them."

"Why do you speak as if the money had come to both?" asked Miss
Sherman, with a curious inflection of the voice.

"Did I? I did not realize it. But I will not change my words; for,
unless I mistake much, the money will be Bettina's as much as Barbara's,
and this, because Barbara will have it so."

The words were hardly spoken by Mrs. Douglas when Mr. Sumner, who was
riding backward and so facing the following carriage, sprang up, crying
in a low, smothered tone of alarm, "Barbara!"

But Mrs. Douglas had not time to turn before he sank back saying:
"Excuse me. I must have been mistaken. I thought that something was the
matter; that Barbara had been taken ill."

Then he added, in explanation to his sister: "The carriage was so far
back, as it rounded a curve, permitting me to look into it, that I could
not see very distinctly."

Miss Sherman bit her lip and rode on in silence. Mr. Sumner's concern
for Barbara seemed painfully evident to her. She had much that was
disagreeable to think of, for it was impossible to avoid contrasting
herself with the picture of Barbara which Mrs. Douglas had drawn. She
thought of the sister at home who so patiently, year after year, had
given up her own cherished desires that she might be gratified; who had
needed, far more than she herself had, the change and rest of this year
abroad, but whom she had forced to return with the father, even though
she knew well it was her own duty to go,--how many such instances of
selfishness had filled her life!

She felt that she could almost hate this fortunate Barbara,
who so easily was gaining all the things she herself
coveted,--admiration,--wealth,--love? no, not if she could help it! and
she forced herself to smile, to praise the same qualities of heart that
Mrs. Douglas had admired; to talk pityingly of the miserable ones of
earth; adoringly of self-sacrificing, heroic deeds, and sympathizingly
of noble endeavor.

       *       *       *       *       *

What had been the matter in the other carriage? After the burst of
gayety with which the three girls and Malcom had greeted the swifter
equipage as it rolled past theirs, nothing was said for some time, until
Malcom suddenly burst out with the expression of what had evidently been
the subject of his thought:--

"Girls, do you think that Uncle Robert is falling in love with Miss
Sherman?"

The question fell like a bombshell into the little group. Margery first
found a voice, but it was a most awed, repressed one:--

"Why, Malcom! _could_ he ever love anybody again? You know--oh! what
could make you think of such a thing? It is not like you to make light
of Uncle Robert's feelings."

"I am not doing so, Madge dear. Men can love twice. It would not hurt
Margaret should he learn to love some one else. And it would be ever so
much better for him. Uncle's life seems very lonely to me. Now he is
busy with us; but just think of the long years when he is living and
working over here all alone. Still, I am sure I would not choose Miss
Sherman for him. Yet I am not certain but it looks some like it. What do
you think, Betty?"

"I--don't--know--what--I--do--think,--Malcom. You know how much I love
and admire your uncle. I do not think there are many women good enough
to be his wife."

Bettina thought, but did not say, that she could not love and admire
Miss Sherman, who had made it quite evident to Barbara and herself that
she cared nothing for them, save as they were under the care of Mrs.
Douglas; who had never given them any companionship, or, at least, never
had until during the past week or two, after she had learned that
Barbara was Howard's heiress.

Barbara drew her breath quickly and sharply. Could such a thing as this
be? was this to come? In her mind, Mr. Sumner was consecrated to the
dead Margaret, about whom she had thought so much,--the picture of
whose lovely face she had so often studied,--whose character she had
adorned with all possible graces! She listened, as in a dream, to
Bettina and Malcom. He _should_ not love any one else; or, if he
could--poor Barbara's heart was ruthlessly torn open and revealed unto
her consciousness. She felt that the others must read the tale in her
confused face.

Confused? No, Barbara, it was pale and still, as if a mortal wound had
been given.

Her head reeled, the world grew dark, and it was silence until she heard
Bettina saying frantically:--

"Bab, dear! are you faint? Oh! what is it?"

With an almost superhuman effort Barbara drew herself up and smiled
bravely, with white lips:--

"It is nothing--only a moment's dizziness. It is all over now."

This was what Mr. Sumner saw when he sprang up in alarm, and then in a
moment said: "Everything seems all right now."

But poor Barbara thought nothing could ever be right again. And when
their carriage drew up in the spacious courtyard of their hotel at
Sorrento, and Mr. Sumner, with an unusually bright and eager face, stood
waiting to help her alight, it was a frozen little hand that was put
into his, and he could not win a single glance from the eyes he loved
to watch, and from which he was impatient to learn if it were indeed
well with the owner.

To this day Barbara shudders at the thought or mention of the next four
or five days. And they were such rare days for enjoyment, could she have
forgotten her own heart:--across the blue waters to Capri, with a visit
by the way to the famous Blue Grotto; a whole day in that lovely town,
walking about its winding, climbing streets; the long drive from
Sorrento to quaint Prajano, with, on one hand, towering, rugged
limestone cliffs, to whose rough sides, every here and there, clings an
Italian village, and, on the other, the smiling, wide-spreading
Mediterranean; the little rowboat ride to Amalfi; the day full of
interest spent there; and then the drive close beside the sea toward
Palermo, terminated by a sharp turn toward the blue mountains among
which nestles La Cava; the railway ride back to Naples.

She struggled bravely to be her old self,--to hide everything from all
eyes. But she felt so wofully humiliated, for she now knew for the first
time that she loved Robert Sumner; loved him so that it was positive
agony to think that he might love another,--so that it was almost a pain
to remember that he had ever loved. What would he think should he
suspect the truth! And she was so fearful that her eyes might give a
hint of it that, try in as many ways as he could, Mr. Sumner could
never get a good look into them during these days. The kinder he was,
and the more zealously he endeavored to add to her comfort and
happiness, the more wretched she grew. She longed to get away from
everybody, even from Betty, lest her secret might become apparent to the
keen sisterly affection that knew her so intimately. She began to feel a
fierce longing for home and for father and mother; and the months which
must necessarily elapse before she could be there stretched drearily
before her.

Robert Sumner was perplexed and distressed. He had just begun to enjoy a
certain happiness. The struggle within himself was over, and he was
beginning to give himself up to the delight of thinking freely of
Barbara; of loving her; of feeling a sort of possession of her, though
he did not yet dream of such a thing as ever being to her more than he
now was,--a valued friend. There were so many years, and an experience
of life that counted far more than years, between them!

He had listened to his sister's conversation with Miss Sherman on the
way from Pompeii to Sorrento with an exultation which it would have been
difficult for him to account for. He gloried in the sweet unselfishness,
the simple goodness of the young girl. "My little Barbara," his heart
sang; and full of this emotion when they reached Sorrento, he allowed
the two ladies to go alone into the hotel, while he waited impatiently
to look into Barbara's face and to feel the touch of her hand.

But what a change! What could have wrought it? Before this, she had
always met his look with such frank sympathy! As the days passed on
without change, and his eyes, more than any others, noticed the struggle
to conceal her unhappiness, the mystery deepened.



Chapter XVII.

Robert Sumner is Imprudent.

    _Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well--
    When our deep plots do pall; and that should teach us,
    There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
    Rough-hew them how we will._

    --SHAKESPEARE.

[Illustration: CAMPO SANTO, BOLOGNA.]


Early one morning very soon after the return to Rome, Bettina, with a
troubled face, knocked at Mrs. Douglas's door.

"Barbara is ill," said she. "I knew in the night that she was very
restless, but not until just now did I see that she is really ill."

"What seems to be the matter?"

"I think she must be very feverish."

"Feverish?" repeated Mrs. Douglas, with a startled look, as she hastily
prepared to accompany Betty back to her room. In a few minutes she
sought her brother, her face full of anxiety.

"Robert, I fear Barbara has the fever. Her temperature must be high; her
face is greatly flushed, and her eyes dull, and she says her whole body
is full of pain."

"We must take her away at once out of the atmosphere of Rome,"
exclaimed Mr. Sumner, with decision.

"But she feels so wretchedly ill."

"Never mind that. If she can only endure the fatigue for a few hours, we
may save her weeks of suffering and possible danger," and his voice
faltered.

"Remember, sister," he continued, "that I am at home here in this
climate, and trust me. Or, better still, I will at once consult Dr.
Yonge, and I know you will trust him. And, sister, get everything ready
so that we--Barbara, you, and I--may take the very first train for
Orvieto. That will take her in two hours into a high and pure
atmosphere. The others can follow as soon as possible."

Quickly the plans were made. Malcom, Margery, and Bettina were to be
left to complete the packing of trunks. Dr. Yonge agreed fully with Mr.
Sumner, and on the nine o'clock train northward Mrs. Douglas, Barbara,
and Mr. Sumner left Rome.

Miss Sherman, quite upset by the rapid movement of affairs, decided to
remain a little longer in Rome with friends whom she had met there, and
join the others later in Venice.

It was a severe trial to poor Bettina to see her darling sister thus
almost literally borne away from her. But she tried to put faith in Mr.
Sumner's assurances, and bravely resisted the anxious longing to go with
her. She immediately gave herself up to the work of finishing the
packing of their own trunks and of helping Margery all she could.

Mr. Sumner had commissioned Malcom to go up to his studio and gather
into boxes all his canvases and painting materials; and soon all three
were working as fast as they could, with the design of following the
others the next morning.

Presently Malcom appeared at Bettina's door with the request that she
should go up to the studio when she could leave her work for a minute.

"Come alone--by yourself," he added in a low voice.

Wondering a little at the singular request and the peculiar expression
of Malcom's face, Bettina soon followed him.

Entering the studio, she found him attentively regarding a small canvas
which he had placed on an easel, and took her place beside him that she
might look at it also.

"How lovely!" she cried, and then a puzzled look came into her eyes.

"Why, it is Barbara! It is _like_ Barbara," she added.

"And what do you think of this--and this--and this?" asked Malcom,
rapidly turning from the wall study after study.

After a few moments of silence, she said solemnly: "They're all Barbara.
Here she is thinking earnestly; here she is throwing her head proudly
back, as she so often does; and here she is merry and smiling in her own
adorable way. O you darling Barbara!" with a pathetic little catch of
the breath; "how are you feeling just this minute?" and Bettina sank
upon the floor beside the pictures, looking as if she longed to hug them
all.

"But what does it mean?" persisted Malcom.

"What do _you_ mean?" springing up with a quick look into his eyes.
"You--foolish--boy!" as an inkling of Malcom's meaning crept into her
mind.

"What does it mean, Betty Burnett, that my uncle has had nothing better
to do when he has so zealously labored up here, than to paint your
sister's face in every conceivable way?" slowly and impressively asked
Malcom, as he put still another tell-tale sketch over that on the easel.

"You do not really mean!--it can't be!--Oh!" uttered Bettina in diverse
tones and inflections as she rapidly recalled, one after another,
certain incidents.

Then there was silence in Robert Sumner's studio between these two
discoverers of his long-cherished secret.

"Malcom," at length whispered Bettina, "we must never breathe one word
about what we have found here. You must not tell Margery or your mother.
Promise me that it shall be a solemn secret between you and me."

"I promise, Lady Betty. Your behest shall be sacredly regarded," replied
Malcom with mock gravity. "But," after a little, "shall you tell
Barbara?"

"Tell Barbara? No! no! How could I tell her! Malcom, don't you know that
it is only by a chance that we have found these pictures? That, whatever
they may mean is absolutely sacred to your uncle? Perhaps they mean
nothing--nothing save that he, from an artist's stand-point, admires my
sister's face. Indeed, the more I think of it, the more I am inclined to
believe that is all," she persisted, as she saw Malcom's expressive
shrug and the comical look in his eyes as he moved them slowly along the
half-dozen sketches that were now standing in a row.

"And I shall think no more about it," she added, "and advise you to do
the same."

Bettina, who was usually so gentle, could be prettily imperious when
she chose. And now, wrought up by Malcom's reference to Barbara and her
own fast crowding thoughts, her voice took on this tone, and she turned
with high head to leave the studio.

"Betty! Betty!" pleaded Malcom, running after her. "Why, Betty!" and the
surprised, pained tone of his voice instantly stopped her on the
staircase.

"I do not mean anything disagreeable, Malcom," she conceded, "only I
could not bear to have anything said about Barbara or to Barbara, that
might in any way disturb her. That is all,--forgive me, Malcom." And the
two friends clasped hands.

Malcom went back into the studio, his pursed lips emitting a low,
meditative whistle, while Bettina hurried downstairs, her mind beset
with conjectures.

It was not Mr. Sumner of whom she was thinking, but her sister. A veil
seemed to withdraw before her consciousness, and to reveal the possible
meaning of much that had perplexed her during the past months. For if
Mr. Sumner had really been learning to love Barbara, might it not also
be that Barbara cared more for him than Bettina had been wont to think?

Her thoughts went back to many of their first conversations after
coming to Florence; to Barbara's intense absorption in Mr. Sumner's
talks about the old painters; to her unwearied study of them; to her
evident sympathy with him on all occasions.

Then, in a flash she remembered her faintness in the carriage on the
drive to Sorrento and connected it, as she had never before dreamed of
doing, with the conversation then going on; and recalled all those days
since when she had been so different from the old-time Barbara.

And poor Bettina sat, a disconsolate little figure, before her
half-filled trunk, just ready to cry with sheer vexation at her
blindness. Then, the thought came that if Mr. Sumner did really love
Barbara all would be well. But, alas! the doubt followed whether, after
all, the pictures meant anything more than the artist's love for a
beautiful face, and his desire to render it on his canvas. She grew more
and more miserable in her sympathy for her sister, and at her enforced
separation from her, and the hours of that day, though of necessity busy
ones, seemed almost interminable.

The following noon found them together again.

Bettina entered her sister's room, which opened full upon the
rose-garden they had enjoyed before,--now filled with blossoms and
fragrance,--to find Barbara sitting in a big easy-chair, with a tray
before her, on which were spread toast and tea, flanked by a dainty
flask of Orvieto wine, while the same wrinkled old chambermaid who had
served them two and a half months ago stood, with beaming face, watching
her efforts to eat.

Barbara's eyes were brighter, the flush gone from her face, and she said
she did not feel like the same girl who had been half carried away from
the hotel in Rome the morning before. So much improved did she seem that
the present plan was to take a late afternoon train for Florence, for
Mr. Sumner said the sooner they could get farther north, the better it
would be. This was carried out, and night found them back in the dear
Florence home, there to spend a few days.

The city was very lovely in its May foliage and blossoms,--too lovely to
leave so soon, they all averred. But it must be, and after having taken
again their favorite drives, and having given another look at their
favorite pictures, with an especial interest in those by the Venetian
masters whom they would study more fully in Venice, they turned their
faces northward.

The journey at first took them through rich Tuscan plains, and later
through wild, picturesque ravines of the Apennines. Higher and higher
the railway climbed, threading numberless tunnels, and affording
magnificent views as it emerged into opening after opening, until
finally it passed under the height that divides the watershed of the
Adriatic and Tyrrhenian seas, and entered the narrow and romantic valley
of the Reno. Not long after they were in the ancient city of Bologna.
After a few minutes in their several rooms, all gathered in the loggia
of their hotel, which commanded a grand survey of the city.

"How fine this air is after our long, dusty ride!" exclaimed Margery,
tossing back her curls to catch the breeze.

"I did not expect to find Bologna so curiously beautiful," said Bettina,
after she had seen that Barbara was comfortable in the big chair Malcom
had wheeled out for her--for she was still languid from her recent
illness, and tired easily.

"Please tell us something about it, uncle," said Malcom. "I am afraid I
have not looked it up very thoroughly."

So Mr. Sumner told them many interesting things about the old city,--and
how it had figured largely in Italian history from the Punic wars soon
after Christ, down to the middle of the present century, when it finally
became a part of United Italy.

"What about the university?" queried Malcom again.

"It has had a grand reputation for about fourteen centuries, and thus
is among the most ancient existing seats of learning in Christendom.
During the Middle Ages students came to it from all parts of northern
Europe."

Bettina laughed. "I read a curious thing about it in my guide-book,"
said she. "That it has had several women professors; and one who was
very beautiful always sat behind a curtain while she delivered her
lectures. This was in the fourteenth century, I believe."

"A wise precaution," exclaimed Malcom, with a quizzical look. "Even I
sometimes forget what a pretty woman is saying, because my thoughts are
wandering from the subject to her face. And the men of those times could
not have had the constant experience we of this century in America
have."

"Don't be silly," smiled Bettina; and Mrs. Douglas, slipping her hand
through Malcom's arm, asked: "Do you see those towers?"

"Yes; and uncle, I remember you spoke of the leaning towers of Bologna
when we were at Pisa; what about them?"

"I think I simply said that since I had seen these towers, I have
believed that the one at Pisa had been intentionally built in the way it
now stands. My reason is that in all probability one of these was
purposely so built."

"Which was erected first?"

"This, about two hundred and fifty years."

"Let us go and see them at once!" exclaimed Malcom. "There is time to
give a good long look at the city before dinner."

"That is a good plan," said his mother, "and we will not go to the
picture-gallery until to-morrow morning. Then Barbara will be fresh, and
can enjoy it with the rest of us."

Mr. Sumner turned solicitously toward Barbara, with a movement as if to
go to her, but her hastily averted eyes checked him, and with an inward
sigh, he went to order carriages for the proposed drive. He had grown to
believe during the past week or two that Barbara had divined his love
for her, and that the knowledge was very painful.

"I must have thoughtlessly disclosed it," said he to himself. "It has
become so much a part of my every thought. The best thing I can do now
is to convince her that it shall never cause her the slightest
annoyance; that it shall not change the frankly affectionate relations
that have heretofore existed between us. She is so young she will forget
it as she grows stronger, or perhaps I can make her feel that she has
mistaken me. Then she will be my little friend again."

The drive was thoroughly delightful. Bologna possesses many individual
characteristics. The very narrow streets, the lofty arcades that stretch
along on either side of them, the many venerable churches and palaces,
the quaintly picturesque towers, kept them exclaiming with pleasure.

"Can we not walk to the Academy?" asked Margery, the next morning. "I do
so wish to walk through some of these dear arcades."

So Barbara drove with Mrs. Douglas, and the others walked right through
the heart of the old city, whose streets have echoed to the footfalls of
countless and diverse people through a number of centuries that sounds
appalling to American ears.

Arrived at the picture-gallery, Mr. Sumner told them that though not of
very great importance when compared with many which they had visited, it
yet is very interesting on account of its collection of the works of the
most noted seventeenth-century Italian painters; especially those
belonging to the Bolognese-eclectic school, which was founded by the
Carracci.

"Nowhere else can these men, the Carracci, be studied as here in
Bologna, where they founded their art-school just at the close of the
sixteenth century. There are also some very good examples of the work of
Domenichino, Guido Reni, Albani, and other famous pupils of the
Carracci. You saw fine frescoes by Domenichino and Guido Reni in Rome
and Naples, and I am sure you remember perfectly Domenichino's
_Communion of St. Jerome_ in the Vatican Gallery.

"Perhaps," he continued, with an inquiring look, "you know the principle
on which this school of painting was founded, and which gave it its
name."

Bettina answered: "I think they tried to select the best pictures from
all other schools and embody them in their own pictures. I do not
think," she added, with something of a deprecatory look, "that it can be
called a very original style."

"Few styles of painting after the earliest masters can be called
original, can they?" replied Mr. Sumner, with a smile. "One great lack
of the human race is a spirit of originality. We all go to those who
have thought and wrought before us, and hash and rehash their material.
But few tell what they are doing so plainly as did the Carracci. The one
great want in their painting is that of any definite end or aim."

"Whom do you call the greatest painters of the school, uncle?" asked
Malcom, as they entered a large hall opening from the corridor in which
they had been standing.

"Guido Reni and Domenichino merit that honor, I think. Domenichino died
young, but painted some excellent pictures, notably the _St. Jerome_.
Guido Reni lived long enough to outlive his good painting, but among
his early works are some that may really be called the masterpieces of
this school; such as the _Aurora_ and the _St. Michael_ which you saw in
Rome."

"What do you mean by his outliving his good painting?" asked Margery.

"He grew most careless in his ways of living,--was dissipated we should
call it,--squandered his money, and finally, in order to gain the
wherewithal for daily life, used to paint by order of those who stood
waiting to take his pictures with paint still wet, lest the artist
should cheat them. To this we owe the great number of his worthless
Madonna and Magdalen heads that have found their way into the
galleries."

"How perfectly dreadful," chorused all.

"I am afraid we shall never see one of his pictures without thinking of
this," said Bettina; "shall we, Barbara?" and she turned to her sister,
who had been silent hitherto, as if longing to hear her talk.

"Try to forget it now as you look at these paintings, for this room
contains many of his," continued Mr. Sumner, after waiting a moment as
if to hear Barbara's answer, "and they are examples of his early work,
and so stronger than many others. Notice the powerful action of this
_Samson_ and the St. John in that _Crucifixion_.

"Here are good examples of the work of the three Carracci," continued
he, as after a time they entered the adjoining hall.

"But what does this mean?" cried Malcom, in an astonished voice, pausing
before a large picture, the _Communion of St. Jerome_, which bore the
name, Agostino Carracci. "How like it is to Domenichino's great picture
in the Vatican! Do you suppose Domenichino borrowed so much from his
master?"

"I fear so. Yet his picture is infinitely superior to this. And, look,
here is Domenichino's _Death of St. Peter, Martyr_, which was borrowed
largely from Titian's famous picture of the same subject, which has
unfortunately been destroyed."

"But don't you call that a species of plagiarism?" queried Malcom.

"Undoubtedly it is. I must confess I am always sorry for Domenichino
when I come into this hall. But we will pass on to better things. I wish
you to study particularly these pictures by Francia," said he, as they
entered a third hall.--"Yes, Betty, you are excusable. You all may look
first at Raphael's _St. Cecilia_, for here it is."

All gathered about the beautiful, famous picture.

"How much larger than I have ever thought!" said Margery. "For what was
it painted, uncle?"

"As an altar-piece for one of the oldest churches in Bologna. Do you
recollect the story about Raphael's writing to Francia to oversee its
proper and safe placing?"

"Oh, I do!" exclaimed Barbara, as Margery shook her head. "It was said
that Francia never painted again, so overcome was he by the surpassing
loveliness of Raphael's picture, and that he died from the effect of
this feeling,--but," she went on impetuously, "I do not believe it; for
see there!" pointing to Francia's _Madonna with Sts. John and Jerome_,
"do you think that the artist who painted this picture is so very far
behind even Raphael as to die of vexation at the difference between
them?"

Barbara was so carried away by the picture that she had forgotten
herself entirely, and spoke with her old-time frank eagerness, thereby
thoroughly delighting Bettina and Mr. Sumner.

"I am glad you feel so," said the latter, very quietly, and with a
strictly impersonal manner. "Francia, who belonged to the old Bolognese
masters of the sixteenth century, was one of the most devout of
painters, and everybody who studies his work must love it. See how pure
and sweet are his expressions! How simple his composition! What harmony
is in his coloring! How beyond those who painted after him!"

[Illustration: RAPHAEL. ACADEMY, BOLOGNA.

SAINT CECILIA.]

They tarried long before Francia's paintings and the _St. Cecilia_. Mr.
Sumner told them to note the more subtle _motif_ of Raphael's picture;
the superior grace of the figures, their careful distribution, and the
fine scheme of color; the sympathetic look in St. John's face; the
grandly meditative St. Paul.

"I have a theory of my own about the meaning of this picture," said
Bettina. "I thought it out one day when I was studying the photograph. I
know it is always said, in descriptions of it, that all are listening to
the music of the angels, but I do not think any of them save St. Cecilia
hear the music of the angelic choir. She hears it, because she has so
longed for it,--so striven to produce the highest music on earth. But
the others are only moved by their sympathy with her. See the wistful
look on St. John's face, and St. Augustine's also. And St. Paul is lost
in wondering thought at St. Cecilia's emotion. And Mary Magdalene is
asking us to look at her and try to understand her rapt upward look."

"I do not know," said Mr. Sumner, with a soft look in his eyes, "why you
should not have your own private interpretation of the picture, dear
'Lady Betty';" and he smiled at Malcom as he used the latter's favorite
appellation for Bettina.



Chapter XVIII.

In Venice.

                      _From the land we went
    As to a floating city--steering in,
    And gliding up her streets as in a dream
    By many a pile in more than eastern pride,
    Of old the residence of merchant-kings:
    The fronts of some, tho' time had shattered them,
    Still gleaming with the richest hues of art,
    As though the wealth within them had run o'er._

    --ROGERS.

[Illustration: SAN MARCO, VENICE.]


Just after sunset the following evening they approached Venice. The long
black train glided along above a sea flushed with purple and crimson and
gold. Like a mirage the fair city--Longfellow's "white water-lily,
cradled and caressed"--arose, lifting her spires--those "filaments of
gold"--above the waters.

"Can it be real?" murmured Bettina. "It seems as if all must fade away
before we reach it."

But in a few minutes the _facchini_ seized their hand-luggage, and they
alighted as at any commonplace railway-station. But oh! the revelation
when they went out upon the platform, up to which, not carriages, but
gondolas were drawn, and from which stretched, not a dusty pavement, but
the same gold and crimson and purple of sky reflected in the waters at
their feet.

"Is it true that we are mortal beings still on the earth, and that we
are seeking merely a hotel?" exclaimed Malcom, as they floated on
between two skies to the music of lapping oars. "Madge, you ought to
have some poetry to fit this."

"I know enough verses about Venice," replied Margery, whose eyes were
dancing with joyous excitement, and who was trailing her little hot hand
through the cool water, "but nothing fits. Nothing can fit; for who
could ever put into words the beauty of all this?"

By and by they left the Grand Canal, passed through narrower ones, with
such high walls on either side that twilight rapidly succeeded the
sunset glow; floated beneath the Bridge of Sighs, and were at the steps
of their hotel.

The next few days were devoted wholly to drinking in the spirit of
Venice. Mr. Sumner hired gondolas which should be at the service of his
party during the month they were to spend there, and morning, noon, and
night found them revelling in this delight. They went to San Marco in
early morning and late afternoon; fed the pigeons in the Piazza; ate
ice-cream under its Colonnade; went to the Lido, and floated along the
Grand Canal beside the music and beneath the moonlight for hours at
night, and longed to be there until the morning.

Barbara grew stronger, the color returned to her cheeks, and though she
often felt unhappy, she was better able to conceal it. She began to hope
that her secret was safe; that it would never be discovered by any one;
that Mr. Sumner would never dream of it. If only that dreadful
suggestion of Malcom's might be wholly without foundation; and perhaps,
after all, it was. She thought she would surely know when Lucile Sherman
should come to Venice, as she would do soon.

At length Mr. Sumner suggested that they begin to study Venetian
painting, and that, for it, they should first visit the Accademia delle
Belle Arti. He advised them to read what they could about early Venetian
painting.

"You will find," he said, "that the one strongest characteristic of all
the painting that has emanated from Venice is beauty and strength of
color, the keynote of which seems to have been struck in the first
mosaic decorations of San Marco, more than eight centuries ago. And how
could it be otherwise in a city so flooded with radiance of color and
light!"

"I have brought you here," said he one morning, as they left their
gondolas at the steps of the Academy, "for the special study of
Carpaccio's and the Bellinis' works.

"But," he added, as they entered the building and stepped into the
first room, "I would like you to stop for a few minutes and look at
these quaint pictures by the Vivarini, Basaiti, Bissolo, and others of
the early Venetian painters. Here you will notice the first
characteristics of the school. This academy is particularly interesting
to students of Venetian art, because it contains few other than Venetian
paintings."

Passing on, they soon reached a hall whose walls were lined with large
pictures. Here Mr. Sumner paused, saying:--

"We find in this room quite a number of paintings by Vittore Carpaccio.
Here is his most noted series, illustrating scenes in the legendary life
of St. Ursula, the maiden princess of Brittany, who, with her eleven
thousand companions, visited the holy shrines of the old world; and on
their return all were martyred just outside the city of Cologne. You
have read the story, I know. Look first at the general scheme of
composition and color before going near enough to study details.
Carpaccio had felt the flood of Venetian color, and here we see the
beginnings of that wonderful richness found in works by the later
Venetian masters. He was a born story-teller, and delighted especially
in tales of a legendary, poetic character. His works possess a peculiar
fascinating quaintness. The formal composition, by means of which we see
several scenes crowded into one picture; the singular perspective
effects; the figures with earnest faces beneath such heavy blond
tresses, and with their too short bodies, enable us easily to recognize
his pictures."

"I think I shall choose St. Ursula to be my patron saint," said Margery,
thoughtfully, after they had turned from the purely artistic study of
the pictures to their sentiment. "I have read somewhere that she is the
especial patroness of young girls, as well as of those who teach young
girls,--so she can rightfully belong to me, you see."

"What do you think she will do for you?" asked Malcom, with a quizzical
smile.

"Oh! I don't know. Perhaps if I think enough about her life I shall be a
better girl," and the blue eyes grew very earnest.

"That is wholly unnecessary, Madge _mia_," tenderly replied her brother.

"I will tell you a singular thing that I read not long ago," said
Bettina, going over to Margery, who was standing close in front of that
sweet sleeping face of St. Ursula in one of the pictures. "It was in the
life of Mr. Ruskin. His biographer says that Mr. Ruskin is wonderfully
fond of the legend of St. Ursula; that he has often come from England to
Venice just to look again on these pictures by old Carpaccio; that he
has thought so much about her character that he really is influenced
greatly by it. And he goes on to say that some person who has perhaps
received a calm, kind letter from Mr. Ruskin instead of the curt,
brusque, or impatient one that he had looked for, on account of the
irascible nature of the writer, would be altogether surprised could he
know that the reason of the unexpected quietness was that Mr. Ruskin had
stopped to ask himself, 'What would St. Ursula say? What would St.
Ursula do?'"

"I think that is a pretty story about Mr. Ruskin, don't you?" she added,
turning to Malcom and the others.

"It is a pretty enough story," replied Malcom. "But I confess I do not
wish Madge always to stop and ask the mind of this leader of the 'eleven
thousand virgins.' Only consult your own dear self, my sister. You are
good enough as you are."

"I think it is the feminine quality in St. Ursula's ways of thought and
action that appeals so strongly to Mr. Ruskin's rugged nature," replied
Mr. Sumner, in answer to a rather appealing glance from Margery's eyes.
"The tale of a gentle life influences for good a somewhat embittered,
but grandly noble man. As to our little Madge," with a smile that drew
her at once close to him, "the best influence she can gain from the old
legend will grow out of the unwavering purpose of the saint, and her
inflexibility of action when once the motive was felt to be a noble one.
Her needs are not the same as are Mr. Ruskin's."

Margery slipped her hand into that of the uncle who so well understood
her, and gave it a tender little squeeze. As Mr. Sumner turned quickly
to call attention to one or two other pictures, with different subjects,
by Carpaccio, he caught for an instant the old-time sympathetic look in
Barbara's eyes, which gladdened his heart, and gave a new ring to his
voice.

"Here are two or three historical pictures by Carpaccio and Gentile
Bellini that put ancient Venice before our eyes, and, on this account,
are most interesting. Their color is fine, but in all other art
qualities they are weak."

"I must tell you," he went on, "about the Bellini brothers, Gentile and
Giovanni. Their father, who was also an artist, came from Padua to
Venice in the early part of the fifteenth century, bringing his two
young sons, both of whom grew to be greater painters than the father.
They opened a school, and Giorgione and Titian, who, you well know, are
two supreme names in Venetian painting, were among their pupils. The
Bellini paintings are the natural precursors of the glory of Venetian
art. Even in these historical paintings by Gentile Bellini we feel the
palpitating sunshine which floods and vivifies the rich colors of
palaces and costumes. You can readily see the difference between his
work and that of Carpaccio. While Carpaccio has treated the historic
scene in a poetic way, with quaint formality, Bellini's picture is full
of truth and detail.

"But," he continued, "Gentile Bellini's work, as art, fades in
importance before that of his brother, Giovanni, who gave himself almost
wholly to religious painting. If you will try to shut your eyes for a
few minutes to the other pictures about you, I would like to take you
immediately to one of this artist's Madonna pictures.

"And, by the way," he interpolated, as they walked straight on through
several rooms, "I am delighted to see that you have learned to go into a
gallery for the express study of a few pictures, and can refuse to allow
your attention to be distracted by any others, however alluring. I am
sure this is the only way in which really to study. Go as often or as
seldom as you choose or can, but always go with a definite purpose, and
do not be distracted by the effort to see the works of many artists at a
single visit; least of all, by the endeavor to look at all there are
about you. For him who does this, I predict an inevitable and incurable
art-dyspepsia. The reason of my express caution now is that I am taking
you into the most attractive room of the gallery, and wish you to see
nothing but one picture.

"Here it is!" and they paused before a large altar-piece. "You at once
feel the unique character of the Madonna; the stateliness of the
composition, the exquisite harmony and strength of the color.--What is
it, Betty?"

"I was only whispering to Barbara that these lovely angels, with musical
instruments, who are sitting on the steps of the throne are those that
we have seen so often in Boston art-shops."

"And they are indeed lovely!" replied Mr. Sumner. "I will allow you to
look at another picture in this room which I had forgotten as we came
hither--for it is by Carpaccio--turn, and look! this _Presentation in
the Temple_! See those musical angels also, sitting on the steps of the
Madonna's throne! I am sure the middle one is familiar to you all, for
it is continually reproduced, and a great favorite. Of what other
painter do these angels remind you?"

"Of Fra Bartolommeo," quickly replied two or three voices.

"And I am sure," continued Mr. Sumner, "that Fra Bartolommeo never
painted them until after he had visited Venice, and had learned from the
study of these Venetian masters how great an aid to composition and
what beautiful features in a picture they are. And Raphael never painted
them until he had seen Fra Bartolommeo's work.

"But now look at Bellini's _Madonna_" as he turned again to the picture,
"for she is as individual as Botticelli's, and is as easily
recognizable. Note her stately pride of beauty, produced chiefly by the
way in which her neck rises from her shoulders, and in which her head is
poised upon it. Everything else, however, is in perfect keeping--from
the general attitude and lifted hand to the half-drooping eyelids. Of
what is she so proud? She is holding her Child that the world may
worship Him. Of herself she has no thought. Botticelli's Madonna is
brooding over the sorrows of herself and Son: Bellini's is lost in the
noble pride that He has come to save man. The color of the picture is
wondrously beautiful.

"Please note in your little books this artist's _Madonnas_ in San
Zaccaria and Church of the Frari, and go to see them to-morrow morning
if you can; they are his masterpieces. I will not talk any more now. If
you wish to stay here longer, it will be well to go back and look at the
very earliest pictures again, or others that you will find by Carpaccio
and the Bellini brothers."

Not long after, they got together one evening to talk about Titian and
Giorgione. They had seen, of course, their pictures in the Florentine
galleries, and Titian's _Sacred and Profane Love_ in the Borghese
Gallery, Rome; and were familiar with the rich color and superb Venetian
figures and faces.

"What a pity that Giorgione died so young!" exclaimed Margery.

"Yes," replied her uncle. "He would doubtless have given to the world
many pictures fully equal to Titian's. Indeed, to me, he seems to have
been gifted with even a superior quality of refinement. We may see it in
the contrast between his _Venus_ in the Dresden Gallery, whose
photograph you know, and Titian's two _Venuses_ in the Uffizi, which you
studied so carefully when in Florence. But there are very few examples
of Giorgione's paintings in existence, and critics are still quarrelling
over almost all that are attributed to him. Probably the most popular
are the Dresden _Venus_, which has only recently been rescued from
Titian and given to its rightful author, and the _Concert_, which you
remember in the Pitti Gallery, Florence, about which there is
considerable dispute, some critics thinking it an early work by Titian."

"Why did the artists not sign their pictures?" rather impatiently
interrupted Malcom.

"Even a signature does not always settle questions," replied his uncle,
"for it is by no means an unknown occurrence for a gallery itself to
christen some doubtful picture. But to go on:--

"In Venice there is but one painting by Giorgione which is undoubtedly
authentic. I will take you to the Giovanelli Palace, where it is. It is
called _Family of Giorgione_. He was fond of introducing three figures
into his compositions,--you remember the Pitti _Concert_,--there are
also three in this Giovanelli picture--a gypsy woman, a child, and a
warrior. The landscape setting is exceedingly beautiful, and the whole
glows with Giorgione's own color.

"About Titian," continued he, "you have read, and can easily read so
much that I shall not talk long. His whole story is like a romance; his
success and fame boundless; his pictures scattered among all important
galleries."

"Has Venice a great many?" queried Malcom.

"No, Venice possesses comparatively few; and, strangely enough, these
are not most characteristic of the painter. His name, you know, is
almost indissolubly connected with noble portraits, magnificent
mythological representations, and those ideal pictures of beautiful
women of which he painted so many, and which wrought such a revolution
in the character of succeeding art. Hardly any of these, though so
entirely in keeping with the brilliant city, are in Venice to-day; we
must go elsewhere, to Madrid, to Paris, Florence, Rome, Dresden, and
Berlin to find them. One mythological picture only, _Venus and Adonis_,
is in the Academy, and one portrait of a Doge, doubtfully ascribed to
Titian, is in the Ducal Palace."

"Then what pictures are here?" asked Bettina, as Mr. Sumner paused.

"His greatest religious paintings, those gorgeous church pictures, most
of which were painted in his youth, are here."

"May I interrupt a moment," queried Barbara, "to ask what you meant when
you said that some of Titian's pictures wrought a revolution in art?"

"This is a good time in which to explain my meaning. Titian's nature was
not devout. You will see it in every one of these religious paintings
you are about to study. The subjects seem only pretexts, or foundations,
for the gorgeous display of a rare artistic ability. To paint beauty for
beauty's sake only, in form, features, costumes, and accessories was
Titian's native sphere, and gloriously did he fill it. In these church
pictures, the Madonna and Child are almost always entirely secondary in
interest. In many, the family of the donor, with their aristocratic
faces and magnificent costumes, and the saints with waving banners, are
far more important. A fine example of this is the _Madonna of the
Pesaro family_ in the Church of the Frari. With such a _motif_
underlying his work, the great painter fell easily into the habit of
portraying ideal figures, especially of women,--'fancy female figures,'
one writer has termed them,--whose sole merit lies in the superb
rendering of rosy flesh, heavy tresses of auburn hair, lovely eyes, and
rich garments. Such are his _Flora_, _Venuses_, _Titian's Daughter_--of
which there are several examples--_Magdalens_, etc.; together with many
so called portraits, such as his _La Donna Bella_ in the Pitti,
Florence.

"Titian could paint such pictures so free from coarseness, so
magnificent in all art qualities, that the world was delighted with
them. After him, however, the lowered aim had its influence; poorer
artists tried to follow in his footsteps, and the world of art soon
became flooded with mediocre examples of these meaningless pictures. All
this hastened rapidly the decay of Italian art.

"But you must remember," Mr. Sumner hastened to say, as he watched the
faces about him, "that I am giving you my own personal thoughts. To me,
the purity of sentiment and the lofty _motif_ of a picture mean so much
that they always influence my judgment of it. With many other people it
is not so. They revel in the color, the line, the tone, the grouping,
the purely art qualities. In these Titian, as I have said, is perfect,
and worthy of the high place he holds in the art-world.

"I hope you will take great pains to study him here by yourselves,--in
the Academy and in the various churches,--wherever there are examples of
his work. Let each form his own judgment, founded on that which he finds
in the pictures. The work of any artist of the High Renaissance, whose
aim is purely artistic, is not difficult to understand. His means of
expression were so ample that it is easy indeed to read that which he
says, compared with the earlier masters. You will find two of Titian's
most notable pictures in the Academy,--the _Assumption of the Virgin_,
one of the few in which the Madonna has due prominence, and which shows
the artist's best qualities, and _Presentation of the Virgin_."

"What other Venetian Masters ought we particularly to study?" asked
Barbara.

"Look out for Crivelli's _Madonnas_, and all of Paul Veronese's work. He
was really the most utterly Venetian painter who ever lived. He painted
Venice into everything: its motion, its color, its intoxicating fulness
are all found in his mythological and banquet scenes. You will find his
pictures in the Ducal Palace, in the Academy, and a fine series in San
Sebastiano, which represents legendary scenes in the life of St.
Sebastian. Go to Santa Maria Formosa and look at Palma Vecchio's _St.
Barbara_, his masterpiece. You will also find several of this artist's
pictures in the Academy worth looking at. His style at its best is
grand, as in the _St. Barbara_, but he did not always paint up to it, by
any means.

"As to the rest, study them as a whole. The Venice Academy is an epitome
of Venetian painting, from its earliest work down through the High
Renaissance into the Decadence. It was full of pure and devotional
sentiment, rendered with good, oftentimes rich, color, until after the
Bellini. Then the portrayal of purely physical beauty, with refinement
of line and gorgeousness of color, became preëminent. The works of
several artists of note, Palma Vecchio, Palma Giovine, Bonifazio
Veronese, and Bordone, so resemble each other and Titian's less
important works, that there has been much uncertainty as to the true
authorship of many of them."

"And Tintoretto?" questioned Barbara.

"I will take you to see Tintoretto's pictures--or many of them at
least," added Mr. Sumner. "He stands alone by himself."



Chapter XIX.

In a Gondola.

    _And on her lover's arm she leant,
      And round her waist she felt it fold,
    And far across the hills they went
      In that new land which is the old_.

    --TENNYSON.

[Illustration: GRAND CANAL AND RIALTO, VENICE.]


Lucile Sherman, accompanied by her friends, had arrived in Venice, and
though not at the same hotel, yet she spent all the time she could with
Mrs. Douglas, and wished to join her in many excursions. She had found
it very wearisome to tarry so long in Rome, but there had been no
sufficient reason for following the party to Florence and on to Venice;
therefore it had seemed the only thing to do.

Now that she was again with them she watched Mr. Sumner and Barbara most
zealously. Her quick eyes had noted the altered condition of affairs
during the latter days of the Naples journey, and she was feverishly
anxious to understand the cause. Her intuition told her that there was
some peculiar underlying interest for each in the other, and when this
exists between a man and woman, some sequel may always be expected. One
thing was certain; Mr. Sumner covertly watched Barbara, and Barbara
avoided meeting his eye. She could only wait, while putting forth every
effort to gain the interest in herself she so coveted.

And Barbara, of course, was trying to determine whether there was any
ground for the suspicions, or rather suggestions, that Malcom gave voice
to on that dreadful ride to Sorrento.

And Bettina watched all three; and so did Malcom, after a fashion, but
he was less keenly interested than the others. He sometimes tried to
talk with Bettina about the studio incident, but never could he begin to
discuss Barbara in the slightest way without encountering her sister's
indignation.

Mrs. Douglas, who had outlived her former wish concerning her brother
and Lucile Sherman, and Margery were the only ones who had nothing to
hide, and so gave themselves simply to the enjoyment of the occurrences
of each hour.

"We must begin to see Tintoretto's paintings," said Mr. Sumner at
breakfast one fine morning; "and, since the sun shines brightly, I
suggest that we go at once to the Scuola di San Rocco, for the only time
to see the pictures there is the early morning of a bright day."

"We must not forget Lucile," said Mrs. Douglas, with an inquiring look
at her brother, "for she asked particularly to go there with us."

"Then we must call for her of course," quietly answered he, as all rose
from the table. "We will start at once."

"I do not believe," said Bettina, as she and Barbara were in their room
putting on their hats a moment afterward, "that Mr. Sumner cares one bit
more for Lucile Sherman than for anybody else."

"Why don't you think so?" asked Barbara, as she turned aside to find her
gloves, which search kept her busy for a minute or two.

"Because he never seems to take any pains to be where she is--he does
not watch for the expression of her eyes--his voice never changes when
he speaks to her," answered Bettina, slowly, enumerating some of the
signs she had observed in Mr. Sumner with respect to Barbara.

Neither of the girls stopped to think how singular it was that Bettina
should have watched Mr. Sumner closely enough to make such a positive
assertion as this, which, perhaps, is a sufficient commentary on the
state of their minds at this time.

After a delightful half hour of gliding through broad and narrow canals,
they landed in front of the Church of San Rocco, and passed into the
alleyway from which is the entrance of the famous Scuola. As they
stepped into its sumptuous hall, Miss Sherman remarked:--

"I see that Mr. Ruskin says whatever the traveller may miss in Venice,
he should give much time and thought to this building."

"Mr. Ruskin has championed Tintoretto with the same fervor that he has
expended upon Turner," replied Mr. Sumner, smiling. "I think we should
season his judgments concerning both artists with the 'grain of salt'.

"But," continued he, as he saw all were waiting for something further,
"there can be no doubt that Tintoretto was a great painter and a notable
man. To read the story of his life,--his struggles to learn the
art,--his assurance of the worth of his own work, and his colossal
ambitions, is as interesting as any romance."

"I was delighted," interpolated Malcom, "with the story of his first
painting for this building, and the audacity that gained for him the
commission to paint one picture for it every year of his remaining life.

"And here are about fifty of them," resumed Mr. Sumner, "in which we may
study both his strength and his weakness. No painter was ever more
uneven than he. No painter ever produced works that present such wide
contrasts as do his. He could use color as consummately as Titian
himself, as we see in his masterpiece, _The Miracle of St. Mark_, in the
Academy; yet many of his pictures are almost destitute of it. He could
vie with the greatest masters in composition; yet there are many
instances where he seems to have thrown the elements of his pictures
wildly together without a single thought of artistic proportions and
relations. In some works he has shown himself a thorough master of
technique; in others his rendering is so careless that we are ashamed
for him. But all this cannot alter the fact that he is surpassingly
great in originality, in nobility of conception, and in a certain poetic
feeling,--and these are qualities that set the royal insignia upon any
artist."

"I cannot help feeling the motion, the action, of all these wild
figures," exclaimed Bettina, as she stood looking about in a helpless
way. "I seem to be buffetted on all sides, and the pictures mix
themselves with each other."

"It is no wonder. No painter was ever so extravagant as he could be.
There is a headlong dash, an impetuous action in his figures when he
wills, that remind us of Michael Angelo; but Tintoretto's imagination
far outran that of the great Florentine master. Yet there is a singular
sense of reality in his most imaginative works, and it is this, I
think, that is sometimes so confusing and overwhelming. His paintings
here are so many that I cannot talk long about any particular one. I
will only try to tell you what qualities to look for--then you must, for
yourselves, endeavor to understand and come under the spell of the
personality of the artist.

"In the first place," he continued, "look for power--power of
conception, of invention, and of execution. For instance, give your
entire attention for a few minutes to this _Massacre of the Innocents_.
See the perfect delirium of feeling and action--the frenzy of men,
women, and children. Look also for originality of invention.
Combinations and situations unthought of by other painters are here.
There is never even a hint of plagiarism in Tintoretto's work. In his
own native strength he seizes our imagination and, at will, plays upon
it. We shudder, yet are fascinated."

"Oh, uncle! I don't like it!" cried Margery, almost tearfully. "I don't
wish to see any more of his pictures, if all are like these."

"Madge--puss," said Malcom, "this is a horrible subject. Not all will be
like this."

"No, dear," said her mother, sympathizingly, "I don't like it either.
You and I will choose the pictures we are to look at long. There are
many of Tintoretto's that you will enjoy, I know,--many from which you
can learn about the artist, as well as from such as these."

"We cannot doubt the dramatic power of Tintoretto, can we?" asked Mr.
Sumner, with a suppressed twinkle of the eye. "What shall we look for
next? Let us ascend this beautiful staircase. Now look at this
_Visitation_. Is it not truly fine, charming in composition, graceful in
action, agreeable in color, and true and noble in expression?"

All agreed most eagerly with Mr. Sumner's opinion of the picture. Then,
turning, Bettina caught sight of an _Annunciation_, and cried:--

"How thoroughly exquisite! See those lovely angels tumbling over each
other in their haste to tell the news to Mary! How brilliant! Surely
Tintoretto did not paint this!"

"No. This is by Titian; and it is one of his most happy religious
pictures too. I thought of it as we were coming, and am glad to have you
see it. The whole expression is admirable; and the fulness of life and
joy--the jubilation--is perfect. You can in no way more vividly feel the
difference between fourteenth-century painting in Florence, and the
sixteenth-century or High Renaissance work in Venice, than by recalling
Fra Angelico's sweet, calm, staid Annunciations, and contrasting them
with this one."

"But why do I feel that, after all, I love Fra Angelico's better, and
should care to look at them oftener?" rather timidly asked Barbara.

"I think," replied Mr. Sumner, after a little pause, "that it is
because, in them, the spiritual expression dominates the physical. We
recognize the fact that the artist has not the power to picture all that
he desires to express. His art language is weak; therefore there is
something left unsaid, and this compels our attention. We wish to
understand his full meaning, so come to his pictures again and again.

"It is this quality of the fourteenth-century painting that impelled the
Pre-Raphaelites, German and English, to discard the chief _motif_ of the
High Renaissance, which was to picture everything in its outward
perfection. They thought that this very perfection of artistic
expression led to the elimination of spiritual feeling."

"But how can artists go back now and paint as those did five centuries
ago?" queried Malcom. "Of course, if they study methods of the present
day, they must know all the principles underlying a true and artistic
representation--and it would be wrong not to practise them."

"You have at once found the weak point in the Pre-Raphaelites' principle
of work, Malcom. It is forced and artificial to do that in the
nineteenth century which was natural and charming in the fourteenth.
That which our artists of to-day must do if they desire any reform is to
so fill themselves with the comprehension of spiritual things--so strive
to understand the hidden beauty and harmony and truth of nature--that
their works may be revelations to those who do not see so clearly as do
they. To do this perfectly they must ever, in my opinion, give more
thought to the thing to be expressed than to the manner of its
expression; yet they must render this expression as perfectly as the
present conditions allow. But I think I have talked before of just this
thing. And we must turn again to Tintoretto."

Not only this forenoon, but many others, were spent in the Scuola di San
Rocco in the study of Tintoretto's paintings. At first they shuddered at
his most vivid representations of poor, sick, wretched beings that cover
these immense canvases dedicated to the memory of St. Roch, whose life
was devoted to hospital work; then were fascinated by the power that had
so ruthlessly portrayed reality. They studied his great
_Crucifixion_,--as a whole, in detailed groups, and then its separate
figures,--until they began to realize the magnitude of its conception
and rendering. Mr. Sumner had said that nowhere save in Venice can
Tintoretto be studied, and all were anxious to understand his work.

At the Academy, close by Titian's great _Assumption of the Virgin_,
they found Tintoretto's _Miracle of St. Mark_, and saw how noble could
be, at their best, his composition and drawing, and how marvellous his
coloring of sky, architecture, costume, and flesh. They went to the
various churches, notably, Santa Maria del Orto, to see good examples of
his religious painting; and to the Ducal Palace for his many
mythological pictures, and his immense _Paradiso_. Finally they were
happy in feeling that they could comprehend, in some little degree, the
spirit of this strange, powerful artist and his work.

One rainy evening, toward the close of their stay in Venice, all sat in
the parlor, discussing a most popular novel recently published. It was
written in an exceedingly clever manner; indeed, possessed an unusual
degree of literary merit. But like many other books then being sent
forth, the tale was very sad.

The hero, Richard,--poor, proud, and painfully morbid,--would not
believe it possible that the woman whom he passionately loved,--a woman
whose life was filled with luxury, and who was surrounded by
admirers,--could ever love him; and so he went out from her and all the
possibilities of happiness, never to know that her heart was his and
might have been had for the asking. The happiness of both lives was
wrecked.

"I think no author ought to write such a story," said Mrs. Douglas,
emphatically. "Life holds too much that is sad for us all to justify the
expenditure of so much unavailing sympathy. The emotion that cannot work
itself out in action takes from moral strength instead of adding to it.
It is a pity to use so great literary talent in this way."

"But do not such things sometimes happen, and is it not a literary
virtue to describe real life?" queried Barbara, from her corner amidst
the shadows.

"Is it an especially artistic virtue to picture deformity and suffering
just because they exist? I acknowledge that a picture or a book may be
fine, even great, with such subjects; but is it either as helpful or
wholesome as it might have been?" argued Mrs. Douglas.

"Yet in this book the characters of both hero and heroine grow stronger
because of their suffering," suggested Bettina.

"But such an unnecessary suffering!" rather impatiently asserted Malcom.
"If either had died, then the other might have borne it patiently and
been just as noble. But such a blunder! I threw the book aside in
disgust, for the author had absorbed me with interest, and I was so
utterly disappointed."

Mr. Sumner had been reading, and had not joined in the conversation, but
Bettina thought she saw some evidence that he had heard it; and when,
throwing aside his paper, he stepped outside on the balcony, she obeyed
an impulse she could never afterward explain to herself, and followed
him. Quickly putting her hand on his, she said, with a fluttering heart,
but with a steady voice:--

"Dear Mr. Sumner, do not do as Richard did."

Then drawing back in consternation as she realized what she had done,
she gasped:--

"Oh, forgive me! Forget what I have said!"

She tried to escape, but her hand was in a grip of iron. "What do you
mean? Tell me, Betty. Barbara--" His voice failed, but the passion of
love that blazed in his eyes reassured her.

"I will not say another word. Please let me go and never, _never_ tell
Barbara what I said;" and as she wrenched her hand from him, and
vanished from the balcony, her smiling face, white amidst the darkness,
looked to Robert Sumner like an angel of hope. Could it be that she
intended to give him hope of Barbara's love--that sweet young girl--when
he was so much older? When she knew that he had once before loved? But
what else could Betty have meant? Had he been blind all this time, and
had Betty seen it? A hundred circumstances sprang into his remembrance,
that, looked at in the light of her message, took on possible meanings.

Robert Sumner was a man of action. As soon as his sister retired to her
own room, he followed, and then and there fully opened his heart to her.
He told her all, from the first moment when Barbara began to monopolize
his thoughts, and confessed his struggles against her usurpation of the
place Margaret had so long held.

To say that Mrs. Douglas was astonished does not begin to express the
truth. She listened in helpless wonder. As he went on, and it became
evident to her what a strong hold on his affections Barbara had gained,
the fear arose lest he might be on the brink of a direful
disappointment. At last, when he ended, saying, "I shall tell her all
to-morrow," she could only falter:--

"Is it best so soon, Robert?"

"Soon!" he cried. "It seems as if I have waited years! Say not one word
against it, sister. My mind is made up!"

But he could not tell her the hope Bettina had given, which was singing
joyfully in his heart all the time. And so Mrs. Douglas was tortured all
through the night with miserable forebodings.

The next morning Bettina was troubled at the look of resolve she
understood in Mr. Sumner's face, and almost trembled at the thought of
what she had done. "But I am sure--I am sure," she kept repeating, to
reassure herself.

A last visit to the Academy had been planned for the afternoon. They
walked thither, as they often loved to do, through the narrow, still
streets and across the little foot-bridges. Mrs. Douglas, with Margery
and Miss Sherman, arrived first, and, after a few minutes' delay,
Bettina and Malcom appeared.

"Uncle Robert has taken a gondola to the banker's to get our letters,
mother," said Malcom, in such a peculiar voice that his mother gave him
a quick look of interrogation.

"Where is your sister?" asked Miss Sherman, sharply, turning to Bettina
as Mrs. Douglas passed into an adjoining room.

"Mr. Sumner asked her to help him get the letters," replied she,
demurely.

Miss Sherman reddened, and Malcom's eyes danced.

"How strange!" said Margery, innocently.

The pictures were, unfortunately, of secondary interest to all the group
save Margery; and, as Mr. Sumner and Barbara did not return, they,
before very long, declared themselves tired, and returned home. The
truth was, each one was longing for private thought.

Meanwhile Barbara and Mr. Sumner were on the Grand Canal. The sun shone
brightly, and Mr. Sumner drew the curtains a little closer together to
shield Barbara's face and, perhaps, his own. The gondolier rowed slowly.
"Where to?" he had asked, and was answered only by a gesture to go on.
So on they floated.

Barbara had obeyed without thought Mr. Sumner's sudden request to
accompany him. But no sooner had they stepped into the gondola than she
wished, oh, so earnestly! that she had made some excuse.

As Mr. Sumner did not speak, she tried to make some commonplace remark,
but her voice would not reach her lips; so she sat, flushed and
wondering, timid and silent.

At last he spoke, gravely and tenderly, of his early life, when she, a
little girl, had known him; of his love and hope; of his sorrow and the
years of lonely work in foreign lands; of his sister's coming; of his
meeting with them all, and of how much they had brought into his life.
But, as he looked up, he could not wait to finish the story as he had
planned. He saw the sweet, flushed face so near him, the downcast eyes,
the little hand that tried to keep from trembling but could not, and
his voice grew sharp with longing:--

"Barbara! oh, little Barbara! you have made me love you as I never have
dreamed of love. Can you love me a little, Barbara? Will you be my
wife?" And he held out his hands, but dared not touch her.

Would she never answer? Would she never lift the eyelids that seemed to
droop more and more closely upon the crimson cheeks? Had he frightened
her? Was she only so sorry for him? Was Betty mistaken, after all?

But when, with a voice already quivering with apprehension, he again
spoke her name, what a revelation!

With head thrown back and with smiling, though quivering, lips, Barbara
looked at him, her eyes glowing with the unutterable tenderness he had
sometimes dreamed of. She did not utter a word, but there was no need.
The whole flood of her love, so long repressed, spoke straight to his
heart.

The gondola curtains flapped closer in the breeze. The gondolier hummed
a musical love-ditty, while his oars moved in slow rhythm. It was Venice
and June.



Chapter XX.

Return from Italy.

    _To come back from the sweet South, to the North
      Where I was born, bred, look to die;
    Come back to do my day's work in its day,
        Play out my play--
      Amen, amen say I._

    --ROSSETTI.

[Illustration: MILAN CATHEDRAL.]


When Robert Sumner and Barbara returned, they found Mrs. Douglas alone.
At the first glance she knew that all was well, and received them with
smiles, and tears, and warm expressions of delight.

In a moment, however, Barbara--her eyes still shining with the wonder of
it all--gently disengaged herself from Mrs. Douglas's embrace and went
in search of her sister.

"Aren't you thoroughly astonished, Betty dear?" she asked, after she had
told the wonderful news.

"Yes, Bab; more than astonished."

And Bettina's quibble can surely be forgiven. Not yet has she told her
sister of the important part played by herself in bringing the
love-affair to so happy a consummation; nor has Robert Sumner forgotten
her prayer, "never, never tell Barbara!"

When evening came and Barbara was out on the balcony with Mr. Sumner,
while the others were talking gayly of the happy event, Bettina suddenly
felt an unaccountable choking in the throat. She hurried to her room,
and there, in spite of every effort, had to give up to a good cry. She
could not have told the cause, but we, the only ones beside herself who
know this pitiful ending of all her bravery, understand and sympathize
with her.

An hour later, when she had conquered herself and was coming slowly down
the staircase, she found Malcom waiting to waylay her. Drawing her arm
within his, and merrily assuming something of a paternal air, he said:--

"Now that this little family affair has reached a thoroughly
satisfactory culmination, I trust that things will again assume their
normal appearance. For the past month or so Barbara has been most
_distraite_; uncle has so evidently tried to be cheerful that the effort
has been distressing; and you, little Lady Betty, have been racking your
precious brains for a scheme to make things better."

"And you, Malcom," she retorted, "have had so much sympathy with us all
that wrinkles have really begun to appear on your manly brow." And she
put up her hand lightly as if to smooth them away.

"Look out, Betty!" with a curious flash of the eyes, as he seized her
hand and held it tightly. "The atmosphere is rather highly charged these
days."

Bettina's face slowly flushed as she tried to make some laughing
rejoinder, and a strange painful shyness threatened to overtake her when
Malcom, with a smile and a steady look into her eyes, set her free.

Meanwhile Margery was saying to her mother:--

"How pleasant it is to have everybody so happy!"

"Yes, dear. Do you know why I am so very happy?" and as Margery shook
her head, her mother told her that her Uncle Robert had decided to go
home to America, and that never again would he live abroad.

"It is more like a story than truth. Uncle to go home, and Barbara to be
his wife! You did not think, did you, mamma, what would come from our
year in Italy? Just think! Suppose you had not asked Barbara and Betty
to come with us! What then?"

"That is too bewildering a question for you to trouble yourself with, my
child. There is no end to that kind of reasoning.

"And," she added gently, "it is not a question that Faith would ask.
The only truth is that God was leading me in a way I did not know, and
for ends I could not foresee. That which I did from a feeling of pure
love for my dear neighbors and friends was destined to bring me the one
great blessing I had longed for during many years. Oh! it does seem too
good to be true that Robert is so happy, and that he is coming home."

And for the seventieth-times-seven time Mrs. Douglas breathed a silent
thanksgiving as she heard the approaching footsteps of her brother.

For Barbara and Robert Sumner the last days spent in Venice were filled
with a peculiar joy. The revulsion of feeling, the unexpected,
despaired-of happiness, the untrammelled intercourse, the full sympathy
of those dear to them,--all this could be experienced but once.

Only one person was out of tune with the general feeling. This was
Lucile Sherman. She returned a polite note in reply to that which Mrs.
Douglas had at once sent her containing information of her brother's
engagement to Barbara. In it she wrote that her friends had very
suddenly decided to leave Venice for the Tyrol, and she must be content
to go with them without even coming to say good-by and to offer, in
person, her congratulations. Mrs. Douglas at first thought of going to
her, if but for a moment; then decided that perhaps it would be best to
let it be as she had so evidently chosen.

In a few days they also left Venice,--for Milan, stopping on the way for
a day or two at Padua. They were to visit this city chiefly for the
purpose of seeing Giotto's frescoes in the Arena Chapel, and Mantegna's
in the Eremitani, although, as Mr. Sumner said, the gray old city is
well worth a visit for many other reasons. The antiquity of its origin,
which its citizens are proud to refer to Antenor, the mythical King of
Troy, accounts for the thoroughly venerable appearance of some quarters.
It is difficult, however, to believe that it was ever the wealthiest
city in upper Italy, as it is reported to have been under the reign of
Augustus. During the Middle Ages it was one of the most famous of
European seats of learning. Dante spent several years in Padua after his
banishment from Florence, and Petrarch once lived here. All these things
had been talked over before they alighted at the station, and, driving
through one of the gates of the city, went to their hotel.

All were eager to see whatever there was of interest. As it would be
best to wait until morning for looking at the pictures, they at once set
forth and walked along the narrow streets lined with arcades, and
through grassy Il Prato, with its fourscore and more statues of Padua's
famous men ranged between the trees. They saw the traditional house of
Petrarch, and that of Dante, in front of which stands a large mediæval
sarcophagus reported to contain the bones of King Antenor, who,
according to the poet Virgil, founded the city. They admired the
churches, from several of which clusters of Byzantine domes rise grandly
against the sky, noted the order, the quiet, that now reigns throughout
the streets, and talked of the fierce, horrible warfare that had
centuries ago raged there.

The next morning they spent among Giotto's frescoes, over thirty of
which literally cover the walls of the Arena Chapel. The return to the
work of the early fourteenth century, after months spent in study of the
High Renaissance, was like an exchange of blazing noon sunshine for the
first soft, sweet light that heralds the coming dawn. They were
surprised at the freshness and purity of color and at the truth and
force of expression. They had forgotten that old Giotto could paint so
well. They found it easy now to understand in the artist that which at
first had been difficult.

"Do you not think that Dante sometimes came here and sat while Giotto
was painting?" by and by asked Margery, in an almost reverent voice.

"I do not doubt it," replied Mrs. Douglas. "Tradition tells us that
they were great friends, and that when here together in Padua they lived
in the same house. I always think of Giotto as possessing a jovial
temperament, and as being full of bright thoughts. He must have been a
great comfort to the poor unhappy poet. Without doubt they often walked
together to this chapel; and while Giotto was upon the scaffolding, busy
with his Bible stories, Dante would sit here, brooding over his
misfortunes; or, perhaps, weaving some of his great thoughts into
sublime poetry."

Afterward they went to the Eremitani to see Mantegna's frescoes, and
thought they could see in the noble work of this old Paduan master what
Giotto might have done had he lived a century or more later.

Mr. Sumner, however, said that he was sure that Giotto, with his
temperament, could never have wrought detail with such exactness and
refinement as did Mantegna--but also, that Giotto's color would always
have been far better than Mantegna's. The likeness between the two
artists is the intense desire of each to render expression of thought
and feeling.

The following day, on their way from Padua to Milan, they were so
fortunate as to be all in the same compartment, and as their train
rushed on, their conversation turned upon Leonardo da Vinci, whose
works in Milan they were longing to see.

During their stay in Florence they had read much about this great
artist, and Mr. Sumner now suggested that each tell something he had
learned concerning him.

Margery began, and told how he used always to wear a sketch-book
attached to his girdle as he walked through the streets of Florence, so
that he might make a sketch of any face whose expression especially
attracted him; how he would invite peasants to his studio and talk with
them and tell laughable stories, that he might study the changes of
emotion in their faces; and how he would even follow to their death
criminals doomed to execution, in order to watch their suffering and
horror.

"He did not care much for the form or coloring or beauty of faces;--only
for the expression of feeling," she added.

"But," said Malcom, after waiting a moment for the others to speak if
they chose, "he studied a host of other things, also. For in the letter
he sent to Duke Ludovico of Milan asking that he might be taken into his
service, he wrote that he could make portable bridges wonderfully
adapted for use in warfare, also bombshells, cannon, and many other
engines of war; that he could engineer underground ways, aqueducts,
etc.; that he could build great houses, besides carrying on works of
sculpture and painting. And there were many other things that I do not
now remember. It seems as if he felt himself able to do all things. I
believe he did make a magnificent equestrian statue of the duke's
father. And he studied botany and astronomy, anatomy and mathematics,
and all sorts of things besides. I really do not see how he could have
got much painting in."

"He has left only a very few pictures to the world," said Barbara. "We
saw two or three at Florence, but I think only one--that unfinished
_Adoration of the Magi_--is surely his. We shall see the _Last Supper_
and _Head of Christ_ at Milan. Then there are two or three in Paris and
one in London I think these are all," and she looked inquiringly at Mr.
Sumner, who smilingly nodded confirmation of her words.

"But," she went on, with an answering smile, "I do not think this was
due to lack of time, for on these few pictures he probably spent as much
time as ordinary artists do in painting a great many. He was never
satisfied with the result of his work. His aims were so high and he saw
and felt so much in his subjects that he would paint his pictures over
and over again, and then often destroy them because he could not produce
what he wished. I think he was one of the most untiring of artists."

"I have been especially interested," said Bettina, after a minute or
two, "in the story of the _Last Supper_ which we shall soon see."

She then went on to tell the sad tale of Beatrice d'Este,--the good and
beautiful wife of harsh, wicked Duke Ludovico. How she used to go daily
to the church Santa Maria delle Grazie to be alone,--to think and to
pray; and how, after her early death, the duke, probably influenced by
remorse because of his cruelty to her, desired Leonardo to decorate this
church and its adjoining monastery with pictures in memory of his dead
young wife. The only remaining one of these is the _Last Supper_ in the
refectory of the old monastery. And the famous _Head of Christ_ in the
Brera Gallery, Milan, is only one of perhaps hundreds of studies that he
made for the expression which he should give to his Christ in the _Last
Supper_,--so dissatisfied was he with his renderings of the face of our
Saviour. And even with his last effort he was not content, but said the
head must ever go unfinished.

"I am glad to hear you say that this _Head of Christ_ was produced
simply as a study of expression," remarked Mr. Sumner. "I am sure this
fact is not understood by many who look upon it. I know of no other
artistic representation in the world that is so utterly just an
expression and nothing more;--a fleeting expression of some inner
feeling of which the face is simply an index. And this feeling is the
blended grief and love and resignation that filled the heart of our
Saviour when He said to His disciples, 'One of you shall betray me.' It
is a simply wrought study, made on paper with charcoal and water-color.
The paper is worn, its edges are almost tattered; yet were it given me
to become the possessor of one of the world's art-treasures--whichever
one I should choose--I think I should select this. You will know why
when you see it."

"What a pity that the great picture, the _Last Supper_, is so injured,"
said Malcom, after a pause. "Is it as bad as it is said to be, uncle?"

"It is in a pretty bad condition, yet, after all, I enjoy it better than
any copy that has ever been made. The handiwork of Leonardo, though so
much of it has been lost, is yet the expression of a master; any lesser
artist fails to render the highest that is in the picture. Both the Duke
and Leonardo were in fault for its present condition. The monastery is
very low, and on extremely wet ground. Water has often risen and
inundated a portion of the building. It is not a fit place for any
painting, as the Duke ought to have known. And, then, Leonardo, instead
of painting in fresco, used oils, and of course the colors could not
adhere to the damp plaster; so they have dropped off, bit by bit, until
the surface is sadly disfigured."

"Why did Leonardo do this?" inquired Margery.

"He was particularly fond of oil-painting, because this method allowed
him to paint over and over again on the same picture, as he could not do
in fresco."

Mr. Sumner looked out of the window, and then hastened to say:--

"I think you all have learned that the chief quality of Leonardo da
Vinci's work is his rendering of facial expression--complex, subtile
expression: yet he excelled in all artistic representation;--in drawing,
in composition, in color, and in the treatment of light and shade. He
easily stands in the foremost rank of world painters. But, see! we are
drawing near to Milan,--bright, gay little Milan,--the Italian Paris."

One day, soon after their arrival, as they were in the Brera Gallery,
looking for the third or fourth time at Leonardo's _Head of Christ_,
Barbara remarked that she was disappointed because she could not find
any particular characteristic of this great artist's work, as she had so
often been able to do with others. "I feel that I cannot yet recognize
even his style," she lamented.

"You have as yet seen none of the pictures which contain his
characteristic ideal face," replied Mr. Sumner. "But there is work here
in Milan by Bernardino Luini, who studied Leonardo so intimately that he
caught his spirit in a greater degree than did any other of his
followers. Indeed, several of Luini's pictures have been attributed to
Leonardo until very recently. This is a picture by Luini--right
here--the _Madonna of the Rose-Trellis_. The Madonna is strikingly like
Leonardo's ideal in the long, slender nose, the rather pointed chin, the
dark, flowing hair,--and, above all, in the evidence of some deep
thought. If it were Leonardo's, there would be, with all this, a faint,
subtile smile. See the treatment of light and shade,--so delicate, and
yet so strong. This is also like Leonardo."

After a few minutes spent in study of the picture, Mr. Sumner continued:
"There is a singular mannerism in the backgrounds of Leonardo's
pictures. It is the representation of running water between rocks,--a
strange fancy. We see the suggestion of it through the window behind
Christ in the _Last Supper_, and it forms the entire background of the
famous _Mona Lisa_, in the Louvre. There is a beautiful picture by
Luini, _The Marriage of St. Catherine_, in the Poldi-Pezzoli Museum here
in Milan, to which we will go at once. The faces are thoroughly
Leonardesque, and through an open window in the background we clearly
see the streamlet flowing between rocky shores.

"But first," he added, as they turned to go out, "let us go into this
corridor where we shall find quite a large number of Luini's frescoes,
which have been collected from the churches in which he painted them. I
think you will grow familiar with Leonardo's faces through study of
Luini."

During the stay in Milan they went down to Parma for a day, just to look
at the fine examples of Correggio's works in the gallery and churches.
In this city they could get the association of this artist with his
works as nowhere else.

[Illustration: LUINI. POLDI-PEZZOLI MUSEUM, MILAN.

MARRIAGE OF SAINT CATHERINE.]

Mr. Sumner told them that it was a good thing to give especial attention
to Correggio while studying Leonardo, because there is a certain
similarity, and yet a very wide difference, between their works. Both
painters were consummate masters of the art. Their beautiful figures,
perfect in drawing and full of grace and life, melt into soft, rich
shadows. Both loved especially to paint women, and smiling women; but
the difference between the smiles is as great as between light and
darkness. Leonardo's are inexplicable; are wrought from within by depths
of feeling we cannot understand. Correggio's only play about the lips,
and are as simple as childhood. Leonardo's whole life was given to the
study of mankind's innermost emotions. Correggio was no deep student of
human nature.

"When you go to Paris and see _Mona Lisa_, you will understand me
better," he said in conclusion.

Delightful weeks among the Italian lakes and the mountains of
Switzerland followed. Then came September, and it was time to turn their
faces homeward. A week or two was spent in Paris, whose brilliance,
fascinating gayety, and beauty almost bewildered them, and in whose
great picture-gallery, the Louvre, they reviewed the art-study of the
year.

Then they were off to Havre to take a French steamship home. Mr. Sumner
had decided to return with them, and a little later in the fall to go
back to Florence to settle all things there,--to give up his Italian
home and studio. So there was nothing but joy in the setting forth.

       *       *       *       *       *

"How can we wait a whole week!" exclaimed Bettina, as the two sisters
were again unpacking the steamer trunks in their stateroom. "How long
one little week seems when it comes at the end of a year, and lies
between us and home!"

Barbara's thought flew back to the like scene on the _Kaiser Wilhelm_ a
year ago, when her mind had been busy with her father's parting words,
and her eyes were very dark with feeling as she spoke:--

"Have you thought, Betty, how much we are taking back?--how much more
than papa thought or we expected even in our wildest dreams? All this
intimate knowledge of Florence, Rome, and Venice! All these memories of
Italy,--and her art and history!"

Then after a moment she continued with changed voice: "And our
friendship with Howard!--and the great gift he gave by which we have
been able to get all these beautiful things we are taking home to the
dear ones, and by which life is so changed for them and us!--and--"

"Barbara!" softly called Mr. Sumner's voice from the corridor.

"_And_," repeated Bettina, archly, with a most mischievous look as her
sister hastened from the room to answer the summons.

At last the morning came when the steamship entered New York harbor; and
the evening followed which saw the travellers again in their
homes,--which restored Barbara and Bettina to father, mother, brothers,
and sisters. There was no end of joy and smiles and happy talk.

After a little time Robert Sumner came, and Dr. Burnett, taking him by
both hands, looked through moist eyes into the face he loved, and had
so long missed, saying:--

"And so you have come home to stay,--Robert,--my boy!"

"Yes," in a glad, ringing voice,--withdrawing one hand from the doctor's
and putting it into Mrs. Burnett's eager clasp--"yes, Barbara and Malcom
have brought me home. Malcom showed me it was my duty to come, and
Barbara has made it a delight."



Epilogue.

Three Years After.


In one of New England's fairest villas, only a little way from the spot
where we first found her, lives Barbara to-day. For more than two years
she has been the wife of Robert Sumner. The faces of both tell of happy
years, which have been bounteous in blessing. A new expression glows in
Robert Sumner's eyes; the hint of a life whose energy is life-giving.
All his powers are on the alert. His name bids fair to become known far
and wide in his native land as a force for good in art, literature,
philanthropy, and public service. And in everything Barbara holds equal
pace with him. Whatever he undertakes, he goes to her young, fresh
enthusiasm to be strengthened for the endeavor; he measures his own
judgment against her wise, individual ways of thinking, and gains new
trust in himself from her abiding confidence.

In the library of their home, surrounded by countless rare souvenirs of
Italy, hangs a portrait of Howard Sinclair given to Barbara by his aged
grandmother, who now rests beside her darling boy in beautiful Mount
Auburn.

Dr. Burnett's low, rambling house has given place to a more stately one;
but it stands behind the same tall trees, amidst the same wide, green
spaces. And here is Bettina,--the same Betty,--broadened and enriched by
the intervening years of gracious living; still almost hand in hand with
her sister Barbara. Together they study and enjoy and sympathize; and
together they are striving to bless as many lives as possible by a wise
use of Howard's gift to Barbara.

They are not letting slip that which they learned of the art of the Old
World, but are adding to it continually in anticipation of the time when
they will again be in its midst. They believe that study of the old
masters' pictures is a peculiar source of culture, and they delight in
procuring photographs and rare reproductions for themselves and their
friends. Their faces are familiar in the art-stores and picture
galleries of Boston.

Good Dr. and Mrs. Burnett have grown more than three years younger by
dropping so many burdens of life. They no longer count any ways and
means save those of enlarging their own and their children's lives, and
of making their home a happy, healthful centre from which all shall go
forth daily to help in the world's growth and to minister to its needs.

Richard, Lois, Margaret, and Bertie, endowed with all the best available
helps, are hard at work getting furnished for coming years.

Margery, entering into a lovely young womanhood, still lives with her
mother and Malcom in the grand old colonial house in which many
generations of her ancestors have dwelt.

Mrs. Douglas is quite as happy in the close vicinity of her brother as
she thought she would be. Every day she rejoices in his home, in his
work and growing fame. Barbara grows dearer to her continually as she
realizes what a blessing she is to his life. Indeed, so wholly natural
and just-the-thing-to-be-expected does it now seem that her brother
should fall in love with Barbara, that she grows ever more amazed that
she did not think of it before it happened; and, when she recalls her
surmises and little sisterly schemes concerning him and Lucile Sherman,
she wonders at her own stupidity.

For Malcom the three years have been crowded with earnest work. He fully
justified the confidence his mother had reposed in him when she gave him
the year abroad, by entering, on his return, the second year of the
University course.

A few months ago he graduated with high honors, and is now just
beginning the study of law. When admitted to the bar he will enter, as
youngest partner, the law firm of which for over thirty years his
grandfather was the head.

And through all he is the same frank, wholesome-hearted, strong-willed,
but gentle Malcom that we knew in Italy.

The other day he entrusted to his mother and sister a precious secret
that must not yet be divulged. They were delighted, but did not seem
greatly surprised.

Bettina knows the secret.





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