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Title: A Modern Trio in an Old Town
Author: Haviland-Taylor, Katharine
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "A Modern Trio in an Old Town" ***
TOWN ***

[Illustration: “Didn’t exaggerate, did I?” he went on (page 227)]



  Author of “Real Stuff,” “Natalie Page,”
  “Barbara of Baltimore,” etc.








  CHAPTER                                              PAGE

  I APPREHENSIONS                                        1


  III LUNCH AND SOME MODERN HISTORY                     17

  IV FLORENCE AND THE NEW HOME                          27

  V NEW FRIENDS, A NEW DAY AND NEW PLANS                38


  VII GETTING ACQUAINTED                                56

  VIII SIGNOR PAGGI’S COMPLIMENTS                       68

  IX A STROLLING PICNIC                                 77

  X CREAM PUFFS, THE TWILIGHT AND--                     94

  XI ENTER--SAM DEANE!                                 103

  XII DARK CLOUDS                                      117

  XIII A PATCH OF BLUE SKY                             129

  XIV STORIES, MUSIC AND TEA                           139

  XV FLORENTINE WINTER                                 149

  XVI PLANS FOR A PARTY                                159

  XVII CUPID AND A LADY SANTA CLAUS                    167

  XVIII THE EFFECT OF A SECRET                         182

  XIX CHANGES                                          197



  XXII A WALK ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON                    238

  XXIII MISCHIEVOUS CUPID                              253

  XXIV HOMEWARD BOUND                                  261


                                                        FACING PAGE

  “Didn’t exaggerate, did I?” he went on (page 227)    _Frontispiece_

  “Isn’t this simply ghastly?”                              60

  “My name is Sam Deane,” he announced                     110

  Mr. Hemmingway got so gay that he kissed Miss  Meek      180




As I look back through my experience of eighteen years, I realize
that many of my apprehensions have been foolish, because so many of
the things that I dreaded turned out all right. Almost every one of
the parties I thought would be stiff--and I am not very happy at the
sort!--proved to be the kind where every one grew lively. I remember
one that Elaine McDonald had, particularly, because I had said to
mother, “I don’t want to go. They’ll all wear gloves and it will be
_miserable_!” But I did go, and they had a Paul Jones that was so rough
that they broke a chair and knocked over a table, and it was _fine_!
While, on the other hand, there have been parties that I thought would
be nice and informal, and we just went and sat in one place and talked,
and at that sort I smile until my face feels as if it were covered
with shellac, because I don’t _feel_ like smiling at all. And this
all shows--or it should, because I am trying to make it--that I never
should take my apprehensions seriously. But--I seem to have to, and I
always do, and so I felt as if I had real reason for misery, when Mrs.
Hamilton, who had looked after me as I crossed the Atlantic upon the
_Steamship Carpatia_, called me back into the stateroom and said, “By
the way, child, I am not going to Florence, after all--”

Well, I shifted my weight from one foot to the other, which is what I
often do while waiting.

“But,” she went on, as she fussed with the little jars that contribute
quite a lot toward her beauty, “I shall hunt up some one who is, and
see that you are looked after.”

“Thank you,” I said, and then I went back to the foot I had originally
been standing on.

“My friends, the Wiltons, want me to go to Mentone with them,” she
stated as she picked up a little brush she has for her eyebrows and
began to use it, “and their plans sound rather jolly, and so I’ve taken
them up. . . . I’m really sorry not to see you entirely settled, but
there’ll be some one on board who is going up, no doubt.”

“I suppose so,” I answered in a flat tone that I use while miserable.
Then I wondered what in the world would happen if there was no one on
board who was headed for Florence, because the only Italian I knew was,
“La luna bella,” which is “The beautiful moon,” and I didn’t see what
that would do on a railroad train, and especially since I was going to
travel by day.

“How do you say Florence in Italian?” I asked, after I changed feet

“Firenze,” Mrs. Hamilton responded, as she powdered the back of her
hands, “and don’t worry, we’ll surely locate some one who will care for

But that only half cheered me, because I had been but a day out of
Boston when I realized that Mrs. Hamilton is like a lot of people who
talk a good deal. She is a good _promiser_, and she promises so much
that she can’t do a third of all she intends to. Really the only thing
she did do that she had forecast doing, was getting seasick, and she,
herself, didn’t entirely cause that. A couple of days of rough weather
helped her.

However, to go back, I blamed her unjustly this time, for while I was
idling around the deck after dinner, wishing that I had nothing on my
mind to keep me from enjoying the salt tang in the air, and the pretty
phosphorescent, silver lights that gleam in the water where the prow of
the boat cuts it, she came toward me, and said she had found some one
who would help me reach Florence safely.

“A Mr. Terrance Wake,” she said, “probably you’ve never heard of him,
but he is rather noted. . . . Writes on art, all that sort of thing,
and has a perfect love of a villa near Florence. . . . He says he’ll he
delighted to be of any service to you--”

“Well, if he’ll just let me follow him, it’ll be all right,” I
answered, and Mrs. Hamilton laughed.

“Funny child,” she said, and then, “I must go in; I was dummy. . . .
I’ll present Mr. Wake in the morning--”

After that she vanished in one of the bright-lit doorways from which
came the energetic voices of people who were fondly telling each other
that they had played the wrong card, and again I was alone. I felt
better and I could breathe with more ease. Before she came I had felt
as if my lungs were a size too small for my breath. Being anxious
always makes me feel that way. And I walked--around the deck I had
learned so well--speaking to people as I passed them, exchanging plans,
and promising to send postcards.

I was awake when Mrs. Hamilton came down to go to bed, which was
unusual for me, for insomnia is not one of my troubles, and I sat up in
the berth to talk.

“What’s Mr. Wake like?” I asked, as I leaned out and looked down.

“_Fascinating_ man,” she responded, “but fearfully indifferent!”

“Does he smoke?” I asked, for I had begun to get anxious again, and
I had actually supposed up a bad awake-dream that had to do with his
going off to smoke, and the train being broken up, and my being left in
a strange country with nothing to help me but a remark about the moon.

“I don’t know, Jane,” Mrs. Hamilton answered, with an easy little
laugh. Then she added the “Funny child!” she says at me so often, and I
lay back and stared up at the ceiling again.

“You won’t forget to introduce us, will you?” I asked, as she switched
off the lights.

“Yo hum,” she yawned, deeply. “No, dear, certainly _not_! Now go to
sleep, for you’ll have lots that’s new to see to-morrow. . . . ’Night.”

“Good-night,” I answered. . . . But I couldn’t take her advice about
sleep, and in the dark I lay wide eyed, and half unhappy, which is, I
suppose, silly to confess. . . . But I had never met a strange country
before; in fact, I had never been anywhere much before, and the whole
experience was almost overpowering. And it was only after quite an hour
of wakefulness that my eyes grew heavy and I began to dream.

When I woke up it was morning, a bright, sunny, warm morning, and there
were voices outside which called in a way that was new to me; there
were songs in the calls, even when they were angry. And the ship was
still, so I knew that we must be in the harbor at Genoa.

Because I was green--and still am and always will be!--I went down to
the bathroom, and ran a tub full of water, and then decided not to
bathe, for no one but a mud turtle could have bathed in that sort of
water! It came right out of the harbor! And so I contented myself with
the wash-bowl instead--the water from that was all right--and then went
back to my stateroom; dressed, closed my steamer trunk and my bag, and
hurried in to breakfast.

I found Mrs. Hamilton finishing hers, and she pointed out Mr. Wake to
me. He sat at the Captain’s table, and there was a beautiful woman
devoting herself in the most unselfish way to talking to him, and he
ate all the time she did it, and only nodded! I felt certain then that
my day would be a silent one! However, that didn’t worry me.

“_Marvelous_ man,” Mrs. Hamilton sort of breathed out in a way she does.

“He certainly can eat oat meal,” I answered, because that was the only
thing I noticed about him. Mrs. Hamilton laughed--she does a great
deal--and turned to tell a young man with a funny little mustache what
I had said, and he laughed. Then Mrs. Hamilton got up, and hurried off,
and I finished my breakfast.

As I left the dining saloon, I heard her hail me, and I found that she
had actually come back to see that I met Mr. Wake.

“Mr. Wake!” she called, as he came toward us, “here is my little
charge--” Then she laughed, but he didn’t laugh. He didn’t even smile,
he just bowed from the waistline in a manner that was very impressive,
and yet chilling.

“And it is Miss Jones, whom I am to look out for?” he asked, in a sort
of bored way.

“Jane,” I answered. “I should think you could call me Jane, because you
are so _much_ older than I am--”

And then he did laugh.

“Bully,” he said, “I will! And look here, Jane, I say, you won’t talk
Art to me, will you? Or quote my books?”

“I didn’t know you wrote any until last night,” I answered, seriously,
and again he laughed. I laughed too, but just to be sociable, because I
didn’t see the joke.

“We’ll have a fine day!” he said in the kindest and most enthusiastic
manner, and I felt that we would too, but neither of us had any idea of
how fine it would be, nor of all the many, many happy happenings it was
to preface!



After I had said good-by to a great many people, and walked down the
shaking steps with canvas banisters that the sailors hang on the side
of a ship, and stepped into a little tug as three Italians who wore
blue uniforms screamed, “_Attento! Attento!_” I felt as if I were
getting close to the end of my journey, and that the surprise pile must
be getting low, for I couldn’t imagine that things on land could keep
on being so different. But they were, and after I landed, I felt as if
the ship life, which had been a real change for me, had been only a
mild preface.

The harbor was rough, and getting in was quite hard, which I liked,
and a great many of the women in the tug screamed and held on to the
nearest man, and the Italian sailors called shrilly, and it was all
very nice.

“Afraid?” Mr. Wake asked of me. It was the first time he had spoken
since he had thanked heaven that I had only one bag.

“No,” I answered, “I like it. I kind of wish it would go over--of
course I wouldn’t want any one hurt, but I would like to write home
about it--”

“_Stars!_” said Mr. Wake.

“Which one would you rescue?” I asked as I looked around.

“None,” he answered shortly.

Then I let conversation die, which is what I almost always have to do
when I can’t think of anything to say. I am not at all like my older
sister Roberta, who is socially versed and can go right on talking,
whether she has anything to talk about or not. Roberta is wonderfully
clever, and talented and polished, and strangers can hardly believe we
are sisters. But to get on, I didn’t mind the silence because I had so
much to see.

The town that cuddled against the hills on the shore was getting closer
and closer, and it was so interesting to see palm trees and such stuff
that one associates with greenhouses, around the Statue of Columbus in
a public square down in front of the town.

“Like it?” Mr. Wake asked of me, after quite a long interval of silence.

I nodded.

“The Italian sun makes the shadows black, doesn’t it?” I questioned,
lazily, for the day and the new sights made me feel half sleepy, “and
the houses so white that you squint when you look at them,” I went on.
“Just the look of the sun makes you feel _warm_--”

Mr. Wake said I was right. “Personally,” he said, “I think that that
warm look makes a good many people think Italy a warm country. It
isn’t. Florence is penetrating during some of the winter months. Hope
you have heavy enough clothes--”

“Oh, yes,” I answered, “I have long underwear and everything--” and
then I realized how Roberta would have felt about my confiding that,
and grew silent. And after Mr. Wake said, “That’s good,” in a rather
restrained way, he grew silent too.

Then suddenly we were bumping against a wharf, and the sailors were
squawking as if the landing were the first one they had ever made, and
ragged small boys with piercing brown eyes and dusky cheeks and black
hair were crying, “Lady, postcard! Buy the _postcard_!” and beggars
held out their hands and whined. And it seemed a pity to me that so
gentle a climate and pretty a country had to welcome people that way.

However, before I was on land two or three minutes I had forgotten all
about it and was completely absorbed by what Roberta would have termed
“The country’s entire charm.”

There were occasional palm trees that rose in piercing spikes between
the roofs of dull red tile, and a blue sky so clear that it seemed
thousands of miles from the earth and as if the blue overlaid silver;
and little streets so narrow one felt sure the sun could never creep
into them. But I can’t do justice to these things, I can only tell, and
roughly, of what sank into my mind and stayed there. And the things
that dented my memory enough to stick in it, made their dents by sharp,
_new_ edges.

For instance: in Pennsylvania I never saw a little curly haired,
brown-skinned baby who looked as if she ought to have wings, sitting
on a curb--without as much as a safety pin on her--and laughing at
the bright pomegranate which she tossed in the air or rolled in the
dirt-filled gutter.

And I had never seen half clothed little boys turn handsprings in the
street, and then sing out their begging song, which was, “Uno soldo,
Signor! _Uno_ soldo!” nor had I seen a town that lives in the street,
and eats, quarrels, talks and sometimes even sleeps there.

We had to hurry through Genoa to the station, because we hadn’t any
too much time in which to catch the train for Florence, but we went on
foot and followed our facchino (which is Italian for porter) who had
our bags piled high in a wheelbarrow, and I was glad we walked and that
we were in a hurry, for we took the short cuts through the tiny back
streets, and I think back streets are just like people’s kitchens. You
learn more of the people after you have looked at the dish cloth, and
found out whether they use a nice, hemmed square, or use any old piece
of worn material that happens to be around, than you can from studying
their parlors where everything is all spick and span and stuck up.

I said so to Mr. Wake as we hurried along, but he didn’t answer. He
couldn’t. Our going was uphill, and it seemed to tire him; he puffed
dreadfully. I decided when I knew him better that I would teach him the
Billy Taft stationary run, and a few of Mr. Camp’s “Daily Dozen,” but
I didn’t speak of it then, because I felt that the thought of further
exercise might not be entirely welcome.

“Have to run for it,” he panted, as we gained the platform, and we
did, and we got in the train none too soon. I love getting trains that
way, but Mr. Wake didn’t seem to care for it so much, because after he
had tossed the facchino some coins, and put our bags up on the shelf
that is over the seats, he dropped down opposite me, took off his hat,
fanned himself with it, and then wiped the perspiration from his brow.

“Getting old,” he said, but I shook my head, because my father is a
doctor and I knew why he was out of breath.

“You’re just a little overweight,” I said, and I couldn’t help looking
at his stomach which stuck out. He saw me do it and he laughed and I
liked the little wrinkles that stood out boldly for that moment, around
his eyes.

“You know,” he confided, “I’ve been trying to gain the courage to do
something about it, but every one--up to this moment--has discouraged
me! I’d get my mouth set for long walks and short rations, and then
some one would say, ‘Oh, stuff, you’re just right--’”

“Did they _really_?” I questioned, because I could hardly believe it,
and again he laughed.

“_Really, Jane!_” he answered.

“Well,” I commented, “although you are not really fat, you’re too fat
for your height. And you puffed like the dickens after that run, and
it wasn’t _anything_.” And then I broke off with, “What’s that?” for a
horn of the prettiest, clear tone had tooted, and it made me wonder.

“Horn,” said Mr. Wake, “they do that in the stations before the trains
pull out; haven’t any bells over here, you know. . . . Now watch this
start--smooth as glass; no jolts! Government over _here_ seems to know
how to run railroads.”

I smiled, because I thought that any government should be able to run
the funny little trains that looked as if they ought to be running
around a Christmas tree, and as if they would fall off at every curve,
to lie, feet up, buzzing until some one started them on again.

Mr. Wake saw my smile, and I was glad he did, because what it led him
to say helped me lots later.

“Think they’re funny?” he asked.

“They look as if they ought to be full of pine needles,” I answered.
“You know how the needles begin to drop all over the Christmas tree
yard about the second of January?”

“Of course they look like that,” he answered, “we got our patterns for
toys, with many another thing, from this side of the pond. . . . My
child, a great many Americans come over here, and derive real benefit;
they see things that are beautiful and rare, but their gratitude is of
a strange variety, for they evidence it only with bragging.”

I felt flat. I said so.

“Pshaw, don’t!” Mr. Wake begged. “I didn’t mean you and I don’t mean
to be a preachy old codger, but I do think one sees more if one
appreciates and doesn’t _de_preciate. You know, as a matter of fact you
wouldn’t go into a neighbor’s house and say, ‘My house is better than
your house, my bath tub is shinier; my doorbell is louder, my front
porch is wider--’ and lots of us--in various ways--do just that, for
this is a neighbor’s house.”

I said a really humble “Thank you--” and Mr. Wake moved over to sit by
me. He looked down and smiled in a very gentle way, and I began to love

“You are a very nice, sensible little girl,” he said; “how old are you!”

I told him.

“And why are you off here alone at eighteen?” he asked.

“I am going to Florence to study piano with Mr. Michele Paggi,” I

“Well, _well_!” said Mr. Wake. And then he laughed. “I know him,” he
said after the laugh. “And my, my, what a fire-eater he is! Well--you
seem to like adventure. . . . But whatever started you this way?”

“It really is a fairy story,” I said, “and it is so romantic that I
sometimes can’t quite believe it, and I know I never shall be sure it
isn’t all a dream--”

“That _is_ nice,” Mr. Wake broke in, “and it’s hard to believe that I
sit by a young lady who instead of asking questions will weave me a
tale. Good fairies in it?”

“Yes,” I answered, “and a fairy godmother, who wears Paris hats, and
always tilted just a little over one eye, and soft silk dresses, and
gray furs that match her fluffy, wavy, light gray hair--”

“Ah,” said Mr. Wake, “then she is the sort that I, myself, might fancy!”

“Oh, you _would_!” I asserted surely; and it seems very, very funny to
recall that now!



I went into reverse for Mr. Wake, because he seemed interested in my
own fairy story, but I didn’t begin to tell it until after lunch.

Buying our lunches was the most interesting kind of a business
transaction, and unpacking them was interesting too.

“At the next station,” Mr. Wake said, “I am going to get two mighty
good lunches that come packed in little baskets, and there will be a
little wicker-covered bottle, full of wine, that you can use for hair
tonic or scent after it’s empty--”

And then the train slowed and he leaned far out of the opened window
that was in the door of our compartment.

The station where we found ourselves after we had come to a gentle
stop was much smaller than the one at Genoa, but it had the same
foreign flavor, and a highly charged feeling of imperfectly suppressed
excitement and happiness. I can’t quite explain about this; it rises,
perhaps, from the clear, dazzling sunlight, the masquerade-ball look
that is lent by gay uniforms, and the women who carry trays that are
piled high with small bouquets. But anyway it is there. And this
gaiety was strange to me. Of course at our stations there are always
some people who scream such things as, “_Let us know when you get
to Aggie’s!_” or, “_Don’t forget to write!_” at each other, through
two panes of thick glass, but they don’t seem entirely happy and I
feel that the majority are entirely sober about traveling, and when I
mentioned my feeling to Mr. Wake, he said they had a right to be.

Mr. Wake called out something in Italian, and his cry mingled with the
shrilly voiced wants of the many Italians who leaned from the other
windows of the train, and a white-aproned man who trundled a truck that
was piled high with little baskets caught the coins that were flung to
him, and handed lunches into the train, and said his “Grazies” and made
his bows.

And then he reached us, and Mr. Wake bought two baskets for two lire
each, and we sat down and unpacked them. There were bologna sandwiches
and ripe olives--which I then didn’t care for--and a slab of Italian
cheese which I couldn’t name, a very good hard roll, figs and grapes,
very fresh and delicious, and then there was the little gourd-shaped
bottle with wicker around its feet, and a paper napkin. It seemed very
reasonable to me for a few cents, because it was all I needed, and I
always need quite a bit.

“I don’t know whether I’d better drink this--” I said, about the wine.
“It might make me light-headed--”

“Nonsense,” said Mr. Wake, “it’s about as likely to as lemonade. . . .
The Italians drink it like water, and you never see one drunk--probably
won’t unless some fool starts a prohibition movement.”

Then the train made its slippery, oiled start, and I spoke only once
again, and then I was silent for some time. “Do they sell cushions,
too?” I asked. I had seen a whole truck piled high with them, and had
seen some of them being passed into the windows of the train, and I was
naturally curious about everything.

“Rent them,” Mr. Wake answered. “The people leave them in the train,
and they are rented again on the trip back.” That seemed very strange
to me, too, coming, as I do, from a race that takes everything that
isn’t nailed down, while traveling.

Then I really ate, and I was glad to have the quiet lull in which to
look at the things we passed. Everything fascinated me, but nothing
seemed real. I expected all the time to hear the click of the nickel
as it drops into one of those boxes holding candy that are clamped to
the back of the seats in our opera house. The country looked like a
drop curtain, or the kind of a scene that brings on a Tyrolean chorus.
There was a lot of pink and white and bright, bright green and salmon
colored houses, with blue shutters; and little shrines set high upon
their walls, under the wide-hanging, gleaming roofs of tiles. . . . And
there were oxen on the smooth white roads we passed, drawing queer,
lumbering looking carts with huge wheels that creaked each time they
completed their uneven circles. . . . I had so many things to interest
me that I was too busy. It made me think of the time that Daddy took
the twins (my youngest sisters) to the circus, and they cried because
they couldn’t look at all the rings at once. I felt that way, and so
surprised over everything. I enjoyed my lunch, but I chewed dully and
without my usual enthusiasm. That was because I was looking so hard at
the same time. Mr. Wake watched me, and his eyes twinkled. I think he
liked the way I felt. Anyway, as I brushed the crumbs from my lap and
put the little basket in which the lunch had come up by my bag, Mr.
Wake said, “You know, I have a firm conviction that you are going to
enjoy Florence.”

“I’d be an idiot not to, wouldn’t I?” I asked.

“Surely, but the world is full of idiots. Mr. Carlyle once said,
‘London has a population of three million people, most of whom are
fools’--but tell me your story. You come from Pennsylvania?”

“Yes,” I answered, “from a little town that has the smell of oil in
the air, and that is surrounded by hills that have oil wells on them.
It’s a fine town. You’d _like_ it.”

“No doubt,” agreed Mr. Wake, and again he smiled at me.

“And,” I confided, “I’d never even been to Buffalo, which is our
closest city, so you can imagine what all this does to me--”

“And who waved the wand?” he asked.

“Miss Sheila Parrish,” I answered.

“Miss--” he stopped, then began again, “Miss--_who_?” he asked.

“Miss Sheila Parrish,” I repeated. “It’s a pretty name, isn’t it?”

Mr. Wake didn’t answer immediately, and then he said, “It _is_ a pretty
name; I’m thinking it holds a touch of old Ireland and a deal of

“She hasn’t many friends,” I said, “she says she is fond of solitude--”

Mr. Wake, who was looking down at a strange ring he wore--which I soon
learned was a scarab,--twisted it as he said, “Well, now you have
introduced the fairy who holds the wand, tell me, please, how did she
wave it?” And I told him.

       *       *       *       *       *

It had begun early in May on a rainy day when I had spilled fudge
right in the middle of the front breadth of my one good dress. I felt
dreadfully about it, because Mother is always asking me to wear an
apron, and she works so hard to keep us looking nice that the idea
of making her more work made _me_ miserable. But there the fudge
was, spreading over the floor, with the treacherous pan handle, that
had made me knock it off, looking as mild and blameless as the twins
after they have been eating pink and yellow candy bananas (these are
forbidden) and there I stood looking down miserably at the front of my
skirt and wondering what to do.

Well, I remember I murmured, “I might as well scrape it up, and get
out of this--” and so I got a palette knife and scraped the top layer
of fudge off the floor for the twins--who don’t care at all what has
happened to any fudge as long as it happens to come to them--and then
I scraped my dress, and sponged it a little, and then--miserable and
feeling weighted--went up to the third floor where I sleep in the same
room with Roberta, and got into my old, faded pink lawn.

I hated that lawn dress, and it helped me to wear it while I waited for
Mother who was down town buying Ferris waists and garter elastic and
bone buttons and dish towel material and all those things mothers buy
at least once a month, and of course I needed to see mother--as every
one of us always needs her when we have been into mischief!

I knew she would say, “Never mind, honey, we’ll fix it in no time! I
have more goods and I’ll slip in a new front breadth before you can say
‘Jack Robinson!’” And I knew that I would feel humble and mean because
of her being so nice, but cleared up too, and that I would slide up to
her, and lay my face against her shoulder, and say, “Oh, _Mother_,” in
a tight way, because thinking of how wonderful she is, and how much too
good for us, always makes me want to cry, and I would rather die than

The only time when I ever did cry without shame was when my favorite
pitcher was expelled, and most unjustly, from _The Oil City League_.

However, to get on, I went down stairs, and watered the plants and
dusted and did all those things I never do while feeling well mentally,
and then I sat down and played the piano.

I didn’t play anything that echoed my mood but I played a dancing, gay,
bright thing. I believe most people save the sad ones for those moments
when they _want_ to feel sentimental, or are not _afraid_ of being sad.

Anyway I played this thing which sounded as if gipsies might dance to
it in the heart of a summer day, and I played it, I believe, fairly

After I finished it I sat idle, my hands on the piano keys, feeling
even more depressed than before, and it was into this moment of
dreariness that the fairy godmother stepped.

Perhaps I heard a little noise, and perhaps I only felt eyes on me, but
in any event, I turned--something made me turn--and then I said, “Why,
Miss Sheila!” for although I had never seen the pretty woman who stood
in the doorway, I had often--very often--seen the picture of the girl
she had been, and the years had not changed her much.

She came toward me as I got up, and she held out both hands, and I saw
that she had felt tears, for her long lashes were wet, and made into
little points.

“Bless you, darling child!” she said, as she kissed me, “how did you
know?” and I said, “Mother has a picture of you, and of course we’ve
always talked of you, for Mother loved you so much; she said you were
so _kind_ to her!”

“Kind to her?” she echoed, “dear soul, think of all that she did for

And then her eyes brimmed again, and Mother spoke quickly of how they
had met, because I think she felt that it was too hard for Miss Sheila
to remember the time when Mother, then a trained nurse, had cared for
Miss Sheila’s younger brother who died.

“Right by the First National,” Mother said, “and there I was, coming
out of Mr. Duffy’s with a pound of liver, and I looked up and saw dear
Miss Sheila!”

“And I’ve tried to find you everywhere, Margaret,” said Miss Sheila to
Mother, “but that trip--I traveled, you know, after we parted, and I
lost hold of threads for a time, and then when I came back I couldn’t
locate you. I suppose you married the young interne in the Pennsylvania
Hospital, during that interval?”

Mother laughed, flushed and nodded.

“He used to write her letters that weighed seven to eight pounds,
_every day_,” said Miss Sheila to me, as she shook her pretty head
disapprovingly, “I assure you the poor postman grew quite stooped; I
hope, Jane, that no young interne writes to _you_?”

And I told her that none did, and that I wouldn’t let any, because
I wanted a husband whom I would know by sight, anyway, and one that
didn’t smell of ether.

And then I put my hand on the piano--“It’s this with me,” I said shyly,
because I do feel shy about my playing. It makes me feel lumpy in my
throat from the way I love it, and that embarrasses me.

“I don’t wonder,” said Miss Sheila as she looked at me searchingly, “I
heard you . . . Jane--”

And she didn’t wave her wand, but I saw the flicker of its silver magic
in the air--

“Jane,” she continued, “I have a hobby, and it is helping girls to
find work that they like, and after finding it, helping them to go
on with it. . . . This, because I, myself, have been without work,
and suffered from it. . . . You can play, my child, and your mother
is going to give me the great pleasure of letting me help you play
better. . . . You are, Margaret? _My dear, remember the old days, and
all that you did for me!_ . . . Jane,” (she turned back to me) “in
Florence there is rather a marvelous teacher named Michele Paggi, and
in October you shall go to him!”

       *       *       *       *       *

That was the story.

I told it to Mr. Terrance Wake as if he could see our house, and knew
the people in it, including Miss Sheila, who abandoned the party with
whom she was motoring and came to stay with us for a time.

And as I ended it, on that Italian train that was taking me nearer and
nearer to Florence, I looked up to see that Mr. Wake was still twisting
a scarab ring and looking down at it.

“So you see,” I said, “why I am here, and why I love Miss Sheila--”

“Yes,” he said, and he raised his head to smile at me in a strange way.
“Yes--I see--” and then he looked away from me and down again at his
scarab ring.



When we reached Florence, which was well along in the afternoon,
Mr. Wake went with me to the Pension Dante, which is on the Piazza
Indipendenza, not far from the station, and is the place where Miss
Sheila had arranged to have me stay.

Again a facchino took our baggage and piled it all up, trunks and bags
together, in a wheelbarrow, and then started ahead of us, singing.

“Don’t you live in the country?” I asked of Mr. Wake, for I had
understood from Mrs. Hamilton that he did.

“Yes, out the Fiesole way,” he answered; “my goods go to the Piazza del
Duomo where I take a tram.”

“What’s a duomo?” I asked, because I imagined it was some kind of an
officer in a high, bear-skin cap. It seemed to me that it sounded like
that. But it wasn’t, it was something quite different.

“It’s the greatest church in an Italian city,” Mr. Wake answered, “and
I think you will probably be able to see the dome of this one from
your window. It is one of the largest domes in Italy; it was the
model for St. Peter’s in Rome, and it was alike the despair of Michael
Angelo, and the pride of its maker, Brunelleschi.”

I said, “Oh,” because at that time such facts seemed dry to me, and
dulled by dust. I had not learned how much romance may be unearthed by
a puff of breath from some one who knows, as does Mr. Wake, how to blow
aside the years.

“About a month,” he said, “and you’ll like it, and you’ll be hunting
for old facts.” And then he smiled at me in a way that told me he had
understood my feeling.

After that our facchino paused and dumped my baggage out of his
wheelbarrow and rang a bell.

“You’ve evidently reached home,” Mr. Wake hazarded, “and a mighty nice
place it is too, isn’t it, with this square before you? Probably puff
up a million stairs now, and then you’ll tell me I have too much tummy,
won’t you?”

“No,” I answered, “I did tell you that.”

He laughed, and we followed the facchino who had put my trunk on his
shoulders, and started before us, up three flights to the Pension Dante.

“Look here,” said Mr. Wake as we paused on the first landing, “suppose
you take me in training? You walk?”

“I have to,” I answered. “Father made me promise to walk at least five
miles every day--”

“Well, that ought to help me,” Mr. Wake commented; “suppose I go, too,
and show you the town?”

I said I’d like it.

“I can take you to some spots most tourists miss,” he promised, as we
again started on and up.

“That’ll be nice,” I said, but I never dreamed then how very nice it
would be, nor of how much I was to enjoy those trips he planned, in
spite of the fact that I learned a good deal in the process. “And I
thank you,” I ended, and he said I was most welcome.

Then the door at the head of the third flight opened, and I saw
a pretty, plump little Italian woman whose hair rippled like the
waves that follow in the immediate wake of a steamboat, and when she
held out both of her hands to me, and said, “Buona sera, Signorina,
well-_come_!” I felt very much at home, and I loved her right away.

“Are you Miss Rotelli?” I asked.

“Yes, Mees Rotelli,” she answered as she nodded like everything, and I
introduced Mr. Wake, and he left me after a promise of looking around
to see how I was in a day or so, and then I followed Miss Rotelli--I
soon called her Miss Julianna--in,

And _in_--

Well, I think that everybody _should_ travel. As Mr. Hemmingway,
whom I met at dinner, says, it is _educational_. One has an idea, or
at least I did, that houses all over the world are about the same.
I expected little differences, but I didn’t expect stone floors, or
Cupids painted on walls, or ceilings that took a field glass to see, or
to see a plaster-of-Paris Madonna on the wall with a tall wrought-iron
candlestick on the floor before it. . . . And I hadn’t expected to see
a box full of sawdust with a broom in it, or that they had to clean
house differently in Florence. . . . I didn’t know that there was
so little water that they had to dampen sawdust and brush it around
the rooms instead of mopping them up as we do. There are many, many
differences, but those things, and Beata, struck into me at first.

Beata, who had a rose in her hair, and whom I soon found was the cook
and waitress, was sitting in the long corridor into which I had stepped.

She rose as I came in and bobbed from the knees, as Elaine McDonald,
who is the only girl in our town who ever went to boarding school, did
the first year after she came home.

“She ees Beata,” said Miss Rotelli, and Beata spoke. “She say
_well-come_,” explained Miss Rotelli.

“Tell her thank you, if you please,” I said. And then I heard, “Niente,
Signorina Americana!” from Beata, who again sat down and went on
knitting a bright red tie.

“She make for her sweetheart,” said Miss Rotelli, and I didn’t feel
very far from home at _that_ moment. . . . Roberta makes dozens of ties
and always falters over presenting them, and says that _perhaps_, after
she’s made a _few_ more, she can do better--which mother doesn’t think
very nice, because it makes every poor silly she gives them to think
he’s the first one to have a tie knit for him by Roberta. But Roberta
is like that! It’s all unfair that she should be popular, but--she is!

However, to get on, I followed Miss Julianna well down a corridor,
which ran straight ahead as one entered the door from the outside hall,
and was so long that it narrowed in the distance almost like a railroad
track, and toward the end of this Miss Julianna opened a door on the
left, and said, “Your room.” She said everything in a clipped way that
was most interesting and, to me, attractive.

And I went in.

I felt lots of interest about that room, of course, because I imagined
that I would spend a great deal of time in it for the next six months
at least. I looked around carefully, and then I said, “It’s very
pretty,” although I really didn’t think it was but I wouldn’t for the
world have disappointed Miss Julianna, who looked on and waited, I
thought, a little anxiously.

“Grazie, Signorina,” she said, which means, “Thank you, Miss,”
and after that she said, all in a level, and very fast,
and after that she nodded her head and backed out.

Then I took an inventory which resulted in the discovery that I was in
a room that was as big as our Elks’ ball-room at home; a room which was
punctuated at long intervals by one bed, covered with a mustard colored
bed-spread, a bureau which had a mirror that belonged in the funny
mirror place in the County Fair, two chairs that were built for people
with stiff corsets, one chair that was designed for an aviator, (it
went over backward if you weren’t familiar with its management) a wash
stand with some stuff on it that Leslie--about Leslie later--called
“Medieval hardware,” a table with a bright red cover, a black marble
mantel and a footstool which I soon learned it was wise to use if you
didn’t want your feet to grow numb from cold.

In the exact center of the room was a little rug that looked about as
big as a postage stamp on a cabinet photograph case; and across from
the door was the room’s real attraction which I was yet to explore, and
that was the window.

I walked over to it slowly; and there, I leaned out, and after I
had leaned out--I don’t know how long--I came back and hunted in my
suitcase for the writing case that Elaine McDonald had got in New York
and given me for a going-away present. And, after I had addressed an
envelope to Mother, and put on “Jackson Ridge, Pennsylvania, Stati
Uniti d’America,” which Miss Sheila had told me to do; and after I had
told about my health and asked about theirs, and said I was safe, and
told of Mr. Wake who had helped me, when Mrs. Hamilton, Miss Sheila’s
acquaintance, had changed her plan, I described _the back yard_.

“I have just looked out of my window,” I wrote, “and down into a little
court that looks as if it belongs to another age and were sleeping in
this. It is a court upon which all the houses that box this square,
back. It has a fountain in it that has a stone cupid in its center;
there must be a mile and a half of tiny winding paths; and there is
heavy leaved foliage like none I have ever seen. Some of the trees
quite cover the paths, and others of a more lacy variety give one a
glimpse of the red tiles that divide the winding yellow ways from the

“Across the way is a tan stucco house with green shutters; its next
door neighbor is salmon pink and has flower boxes on its window sills.
The windows are--most of them--set in at different heights. It does
not look neat, but it is pretty; I think even prettier than the way we
do it at home.

“The sun is so bright that when it rests on anything white, it blinds
you. And all the shadows are black. The roofs are of red tile, and
slope gently. There are some poplar trees” (I found later they were
cypress trees; the shape misled me) “swaying over the top of a low roof
down the block. When I was last at the window a little shopkeeper who
wore a big apron sat in his back door singing, while he polished brass,
and his voice is nearly as good as Mr. Kinsolving’s--”

(Mr. Kinsolving is our church tenor, and he gets two dollars for
singing at each service, which shows how _fine_ he is; but I honestly
thought that the shopkeeper sung better, but of course I wasn’t
going to write that home for one of the twins to blurt out when they

“Across the court,” I went on, “is a studio--”

(It seems strange to me now--my writing about that studio in my first
letter home!)

“And I can see the artist painting,” my pen scratched on. “He has on a
long white aprony-looking thing, and I can see his arm move before his
canvas which is dark. I think I shall like watching him and thinking
that there is some one else in this block who is trying hard to get on,
as I shall soon!

“I wish you could see everything I can, dear people, and especially the
court. Marguerite Clarke, as she was in _Prunella_, ought to be dancing
in the court with her Pierrot following; the court looks like that,
and as if it would be full of ghosts who dance the minuet on moonlight

I stopped, reread what I had written, and wondered whether I should
send it, because Roberta, who is much more practical, sometimes thinks
the things I fancy, silly. But then I caught the Mrs. Frank Jones on
the envelope and I knew that it could go.

For Mother always understood my funny, half hidden, soft moods as well
as my love of baseball and outdoor things, and I knew that she would
like what I had written, even though it would seem foolish to all the
rest. So I kissed the page, and put a little cross where I had kissed
it, and I wrote, “That’s for you, Mother dear--” and then I got up and
brushed my hair really hard, and hurried around at dressing, the way
you do when you have felt almost homesick and are just a little afraid
that the whole feeling may creep over you.

An hour or so later I heard a tinkling bell, and a soft, musically
rising voice which sung out, “È pronto!” which I found later means “Is
ready,” in Italian, and that “Is ready” in Italian means dinner. But
I understood that night not from “È pronto,” but from the fact that,
after I opened my door and looked into the hall, I saw three other
doors open and very queer looking people come out of them, and go
toddling down the hall.

The first one was fat, and wore the kind of basque mother was
photographed in when she was very young. Her skirt was a purplish serge
that had once been blue.

“Well, Miss Bannister!” she called to a thin old lady who came out of
the door almost opposite mine. Miss Bannister’s hair was not applied
quite as it should have been; it seems mean to mention it, but she
never gave you a chance to forget it! Leslie thought she tied it on the
gas jet, then ran under it, and clipped the cord as she ran, and let it
stay just where it dropped, and it did look that way!

“Hello,” answered this old lady, in a high squeaky voice. “Has she

“My eye, yes!” answered the one in the basque, whose name was Miss
Meek, “and a jolly number of boxes too. I say we’ll have a beastly lot
of brag!”

That made me mad, and I decided that they wouldn’t have any from _me_.
Then they saw me and grew silent, and at the moment another door
opened, and a tall, thin man who walked as if he had casters under him,
came sliding out.

“Ahem,” he said, “_ahem_! And how is every one to-night? A charming
day,” he went on without waiting for answer, “a charming day! How well
I remember a day such as this in the fall of 1902--” (he paused, and
when he continued, spoke very slowly) “now _was_ it in 1902, _or_ 1903?
How can I fasten it?” (He snapped his fingers and I’m sure he frowned,
although I was walking back of him and couldn’t see.) “But just a
moment, I _can_ locate the year if I reason the thing _through_, and
I make this bold assertion because, if I recall correctly, it was in
the fall of 1902 that I was in England, while the day to which I refer
was beneath Italy’s azure skies, which clearly reveals, and without
possible doubt, that it was in 1903, since--”

“Oh, lud!” broke in the fat one who wore the purplish blue skirt and
the basque, and was Miss Meek. “Oh, lud!” which I found later was her
way of saying, “Oh, Lord!”

And then we turned into the dining room--I had followed the crowd at
a respectful distance--and Miss Julianna stepped forward, to say, “La
Signorina Jones, Americana!” and then she turned and said, “Mees Meek,
Mees Banneester, Meester Hemmingway; you must be _friend_!”

And I said that I hoped they would let me be. And then, a little
flushed because I was not used to meeting so many people at once, I
wiggled into my chair, and Beata came in with the soup.



I looked at the bunch of paper roses that stood in the center of the
table as I ate my soup, because I felt all the rest looking at me and
it made me uncomfortable; and I suppose I would have looked at them, or
down at my plate, all through the meal, if Miss Bannister hadn’t barked
a question out at me.

“Where do you come from?” she asked, with an emphasis and a rise in her
sentence that was as new to me as the Italian I was hearing.

“Pennsylvania,” I answered.

“Quite a village, I suppose?” she questioned.

I tried to explain, but right in the middle of my explanation she said:
“One of my deaf days, but no matter, I don’t care in the least. I only
asked to be polite, don’t you know--”

Which left me feeling as you do when you run for a car, but do nothing
more than reach the spot where it _was_. I ate soup quite hard for
several minutes.

Then Mr. Hemmingway, who had traveled quite a lot--I learned it
soon!--helped me out by screaming information about the States across
the table to Miss Bannister, who clattered her spoon and kept saying,
“No matter, no matter!” all the time he talked. I felt just exactly
as if I were in the middle of a funny dream, and one that wasn’t
especially nice, and I honestly even half wondered whether I wouldn’t
wake up to tell Mother about it, and have her say, “Now _what_ did you
eat before you went to bed?”

But I didn’t wake up and the dinner went on; Beata took away our soup
plates, and then brought in big plates of spaghetti, cheese was passed
and sprinkled over this, and I found it good, but difficult to eat,
because it was in long pieces. Several on my plate I know would have
gone around our hose reel _dozens_ of times! Anyway, as I struggled
with this and tried to cut it, Mr. Hemmingway began, and I began to
understand _him_.

“I am familiar with the States,” he asserted, “although my travels in
the States have not been extensive. I spent a winter in Canada while a
comparatively young man; it was, if I recall correctly, the winter of
1882. _Or was it_ ’83? Now I _should_ know. Ah, I have it! It was ’83,
and my certainty of this pertinent fact comes from the recollection
that in ’82 I was in England, and I know this, because the year prior
to that, which, if you will reckon, was ’81, I was detained in a
village in South Wales, by a sharp attack of fever which was thought
to have been introduced by the importation of French labor upon the
occasion of--”

And so on. He never got there, but I did feel sorry for him, so I
listened just as hard as I could, which is less trying where you can
eat than at other places. He was having a splendid time, when Miss Meek
cut in to question me.

“Student?” she boomed out, and she pronounced it, “Stew-dant.”

I felt pleased, and I wanted to answer nicely, but I had at least six
inches of spaghetti in my mouth--I hadn’t meant to take so much but
it kept trailing up, and I had to lap it in--and so I had to nod. I
should have waited a minute before I let that pleased feeling get on
top, because she shoved it right over a cliff by her next remark, which
was, “_Oh, my eye!_” and she followed that with a prodigious groan. It
wasn’t very flattering.

“But in a student pension,” began Mr. Hemmingway, “where the rates are
lowered for others by the fact that practising makes the house--in some
ways--less attractive, one must accept the handicap with grace. How
well I remember in Vienna, when I, then quite a boy--let me see, _what
was the year?_”

“No matter!” barked Miss Bannister, and then Miss Meek added something,
after another groan, that interested me considerably.

“And two more coming!” she stated.

“_Are_ there?” I asked quickly.

“I do not lie,” she answered frigidly, and I stammered out something
about not having meant that she did, but that I was interested.

“Mees Leslie Parrish,” said Miss Julianna, who came in at the moment,
after Beata who carried a big platter upon which were rounds of meat
all wrapped in overcoats of cabbage leaves in which they had been
baked, “and Mees Viola Harris-Clarke--”

I was surprised, and I couldn’t quite believe it, because Leslie
Parrish was Miss Sheila’s niece, and I couldn’t see quite why she was
coming to study.

Miss Sheila told me a good deal about Leslie while she visited us. I
remember one day, while I sat on the guest room bed and helped Miss
Sheila run two-toned ribbon--wonderfully lovely ribbon which was
faint lavender on one side and pale peach pink on the other--into her
beautiful under-things, that she, Miss Sheila, said her own niece
_would_ have played well if she had ever learned to work. And I
remember just how she looked as she tossed a chemise to a chair and
said, “But unhappily, the child has been frightfully, and wrongly

It made me wonder a lot!

I knew that Leslie Parrish’s father had lots of money, all the Parrish
family are wealthy, and I knew that she spent her time going to
parties and making visits, and entertaining, for Miss Sheila had told
me that too. So I thought Miss Julianna must be mistaken, because, for
Leslie, the Pension Dante would be very simple.

“When did you hear this?” I asked.

“A week, ten days past,” she answered, “in the cable. You did not know?”

“No,” I answered, “I didn’t.”

“I suppose you did. Miss Parrish also write for you--”

“When are they to arrive?” asked Miss Meek.

“To-morrow, or day after,” Miss Julianna answered, as Beata took away
the plates that had had the meat on them and substituted some plates on
which were lettuce and red cheese.

After this came a pastry, and that made Miss Bannister say, “Tart
again!” in a high, querulous voice.

“Bally things!” said Miss Meek, who, I soon found, loved to be thought
a sport and used lots of English slang, I think, because she had been a
governess and still taught English to a few Italians, and was afraid of
being considered school-teachery or prim.

They both ate their tarts just as if they enjoyed them, while Mr.
Hemmingway began to tell about how the first tart was made in England,
and was side tracked by the reason that had made the man who had told
it to him, _tell_ it to him. I began to see that he was really ever so
funny, and to feel like smiling each time he said, “Now let me see,
it was raining that day _if_ I recall correctly, or was it the day
before that day when it rained so heavily? It seems to me it was _that_
day, because I remember I had some new galoshes which I had gotten in
East London at one of the curb stalls, and I recall the getting them,

And on and on! His mind was full of little paths that led him away
from the main road, which even a clever person could only occasionally
glimpse through the haze Mr. Hemmingway made by details.

After we had finished the “tart,” Miss Meek pushed back her chair,
and boomed out “Draughts?” to which Miss Bannister, who still seemed
querulous, answered, “If you like--”

And they got out a checker board from behind a bookcase that was by
a window; Beata cleared one corner of the table, and they began. Mr.
Hemmingway stood looking on, rocking back and forth, first on his heels
and then on his toes, and as he did this he tried, I think, to tell
of a game of checkers he had seen played between experts somewhere in
Brazil, but of course I couldn’t really tell.

“When I was a youngster--” he began, “now _was_ I twenty-three or was I
twenty-four? It seems to me I was twenty-four, because the year before
I had typhus, and I am certain that that happened in my twenty-third
year, and directly after my convalescence I took passage for South
America which would make me twenty-four at that time, since my birthday
is in November, (_the year’s saddest month_) and having gone directly
after that, I must, therefore, have passed my twenty-fourth birthday--”

“Ho hum--” grunted out Miss Meek.

“However, no matter,” said Mr. Hemmingway quickly, “What I was about
to entertain with is the history of my witnessing a match of draughts
played between experts in San Paola. . . . And how keenly I remember
it! The day was fine--”

“Ho hum!” groaned Miss Meek.

“What’s he saying?” asked Miss Bannister.

“Not a bally thing! getting ready, don’t you know!” Miss Meek shouted
in answer, and I did feel sorry for him, but my sympathy wasn’t needed,
for Miss Meek’s attitude, I soon learned, made no impression.

“I think,” I put in, “I must go to my room; I am so sorry, for I would
love to hear about the match, but I must finish a letter to my family--”

Which wasn’t true, but didn’t know how to get off without some excuse!

I went to bed early, but again I didn’t sleep early, and I think it was
fully a half hour before my eyelids closed. A cat down in the court
had made all the screeching, whining, sizzling, hissing noises one cat
can make, and big mosquitos had hummed around to disturb me, too. But
at last I burrowed under the covers, and then I forgot, and when I
woke, the sun was spread out across the square tiled floor in a wide,
blazing streak. And the sky looked flat, as if some giant had stretched
gleaming blue satin all over space; there wasn’t a cloud, nor a feeling
of movement, outside my window, but only the brightness of the keen,
strong sun, and that deep, thick blue. . . . I lay looking out until
some one tapped, and after my answer I heard Beata’s singing voice,
saying: “Buon giorno, Signorina! Acqua calda!”

And I got up to take in a tall, slender necked brass pitcher which was
filled with water that sent up a cloud of steam.



After I had breakfast, I went back to my room, and tried to forget that
I was almost hungrier than I had been before, and I did this by looking
out into the court, which I found had a morning flavor that differed
from its mood of the afternoon. For instance the little man, instead
of slowly polishing brass and stopping his polishing now and again as
he raised his head and lingered on a particularly nice note in his
singing, swept energetically around the back door of his shop with a
broom that looked as if it belonged in a picture of some witch. And as
he swept he chattered shrilly at a boy who was riveting something on a
bench near the door.

And there were children chasing each other around the paths, and my
artist wasn’t at work. . . . I realize now--Leslie has taught me many
things--that it wasn’t nice to spy on him, but at that time he seemed
only part of a play I was witnessing, and when I saw what he was doing,
I hadn’t the slightest consciousness about leaning right out of my
window and looking across at his.

He was cooking his breakfast, in front of an open window that was next
to the big studio window which so lit the room that one could see in
pretty well, and I did wonder what he was eating! I had the greatest
interest in watching him dump it out of the frying-pan on his plate,
and when he leaned out of his window, to wave his frying-pan, and call,
“Gino, buon giorno!” at the little man with the broom, and he, in
turn, waved his broom as he answered, I felt as if the play was really

Then I watched him eat and of course that wasn’t nice but, as Leslie
said, later, I “lack even a rudimentary knowledge of social graces,”
(and I wanted to punch her for saying so) and so I could frankly enjoy
a lot of things a really polished person would have to pretend they
weren’t watching.

After my artist had had his breakfast he threw a piece of something
that was left at a cat, and said--so loudly that it floated across the
court to me--“Scat, you green-eyed instrument of Satan!” which led me
to think that he had heard the cat concert, too.

“American,” I said half aloud, for two things had told me so; one was
his voice, and the other was his dandy throw, for it was a peach. It
took the cat right on the nose. It must have been soft, for, after
the cat had jumped it came crawling back to the bouquet that had been
hurled at it and sniffed at it as cats do, and then it turned around
and sat down and washed its ears and whiskers. That made me like him,
for I like cats, and a great many men don’t hunt things that are
exactly _soft_ to throw at cats who sing all night!

Then he went to work--I saw him slip into his big, long apron, and take
his brushes out of a mason jar in which they were standing--and I left
the window and opened my steamer trunk, which I had only unlocked the
night before, and did my unpacking.

At about ten Beata came in, pointed at my made up bed, and said, “No,
_no_, Signorina!” by which I suppose she meant she would do it, and
then she said, “Oh!” in a way that told me she had suddenly remembered
something, and fumbled in her pocket.

There was a letter in it for me from Miss Sheila, and I opened it with
a great deal of interest, for I imagined that it would have something
in it about Leslie and this Miss Harris-Clarke, and it did.


she wrote, in her funny, curly writing which I like so much!

    “I am in receipt of rather astounding news, and news that
    does not entirely please me, however, it is news that must be
    accepted, and perhaps everything that comes of it will be good;
    I am afraid I am often a most apprehensive old maiden lady!

    “Leslie last night telephoned me that she intends to spend
    the winter in Florence and study with Signor Paggi, and that
    with her will go a young friend who is--only temporarily, I am
    afraid--in Leslie’s complete favor.

    “What led to this impulsive plan, I have only a faint notion,
    but that makes no difference; it is the work out of it that
    bothers me.

    “Because you will be involved, I shall have to be more frank
    about Leslie than I like; and I think I shall do it through

    “You are not to play maid to Leslie; run ribbons in her
    clothes, errands for her, or answer her many and various
    whims. No doubt this particular interest will last about two
    or three weeks, and during that time I insist that you go your
    own way in complete independence and remember you are under no
    obligation to a girl who is--I am sorry to say--both spoiled
    and lazy.

    “Love to you, dear child, and the best of luck with Signor
    Paggi; I--I know--am going to live to be even more proud of you
    than I am at this moment!

    “Always affectionately and devotedly your friend,

                        “SHEILA PARRISH.”

and then the date. I thought it was a nice letter and I read it several
times and then I tore it up in tiny pieces and sat down to answer
it, and to assure Miss Sheila, without rapping on wood--and it never
_hurts_ to rap on wood!--that I knew that everything would be all right.

Lunch came right in the middle of my writing, and after lunch I went
to one of the practice rooms--which were way down the hall--and played
for a while. Then I finished my letter, and decided I would go out and
post it, which worried Miss Julianna, whom I met in the hall.

“No,” she said, shaking her head hard, “You get lost.”

“But the Italians are awfully easy pointers,” I said--I had learned
even then that they wave their hands a lot--“and as long as they can do
that, and I can say ‘Piazza Indipendenza’ and ‘Pension Dante’ I guess
I’ll get along all right; you see how it would work--”

“Yes,” she answered, “may-_be_, but thees Meester Wake, he take you
soon? I theenk better to take the small walk first--please?”

And because she looked anxious, I said, “All right,” and smiled at her
and then said, “Good-by,” and started down the stairs.

These were of stone, and the banisters made of twisted iron, and the
walls were, like most of the other walls, of painted or frescoed
plaster. The hall was cold and draughty as well as dark, and so quiet
that every step I took echoed loudly, and so, when I stepped out into
the warmth and light and noise of the street, the contrast was complete.

I blinked a moment before I started, and then I drew a deep breath
because--well, it made you _feel_ that way!

As in Genoa, I don’t remember half I saw, but I do remember the
_different_ things, and the sort of things that I never could have seen
in a Pennsylvania town of fifteen thousand people that is surrounded
by hills with oil wells on them.

The first one that struck in was two officers who looked as if they had
just been painted, and wound up somewhere between the shoulder-blades,
although they were much handsomer than any toys I’d ever seen. One of
them had a mustache that tilted up, and he twirled this; the other
flung his wide blue cloak back over his shoulder as he passed me, with
a gesture that _looked_ careless, but couldn’t have been so, because it
was so packed with grace! I walked behind them, looking at their high,
shining boots, and their broad, light blue capes and the gilt braid and
the clanking swords. And I did wonder how they ever could win if they
got mixed up in a real fight, and I knew that they did, for Father had
said they were fine and gallant soldiers.

Then they turned a corner, and I was ever so sorry until I was diverted
by a man who was sprinkling his pavement with water that he had in a
chianti bottle; he wanted the dust kept down in front of his shop,
which was an antique place, but that quart bottle full of water was all
that he dared use!

By that time the Park--I mean the Piazza Indipendenza--was behind me,
houses and shops were on the other side instead of green, and the way
was narrow.

After I walked two blocks on this I saw a fountain that was on the
side of a building opposite, and it was made of blue and white china,
with green leaves and gold oranges and yellow lemons all around it. I
thought it was so wonderful, and for once in my life I thought right,
because even the critics seemed to half enjoy it. I found it was made
by a fellow named della Robbia who had been dead hundreds of years, and
that his work was fairly well known in Italy. Well, I looked at it a
while, and then I remembered my letter, and went up to two old ladies
who were sitting on a doorstep eating some funny little birds that had
been _cooked with the heads and feet still on them_.

I smiled, stuck out my letter, and said, “Where?”

And I never heard anything like the outburst that followed! They both
got up and clutched my sleeves, and pointed their hands that were full
of bird-lunch, and nodded their heads and patted my back, and kept
explaining--in forty-seven ways--where the mail box was. It was really
very funny, and I thought I was never going to get away!

After I did--and I hadn’t half as much idea of where the box was as I
had when I stopped--I went on, and after while I saw something that
looked suspicious, and after I saw a woman drop a postcard in it, I
dropped my letter, and then turned.

Going back, I waved at the old ladies, and said “Grazie,” which I
had learned meant thank you, and they bobbed their heads and called,
“Niente, niente, Signorina!”

Then a group of soldiers from the ranks clattered past me in their
olive drab and the heavy shoes that announce their coming, and again
I was at the doorway through which I could reach the Pension Dante,
wondering whether it was really true, or whether my program had slipped
to the floor during the first act?

And then I rang the pension bell and went in and up.

Going in, and away from all the shrill, staccato street noises, and the
smells--which sometimes aren’t nice, but are always different--going in
and away from all this seemed tame, but after I got up and Beata had
opened the door, I was glad I had been decent enough to consider Miss
Julianna’s feelings because--

Miss Leslie Parrish, of Oyster Bay, Long Island, and Miss Viola
Harris-Clarke, of Ossining, New York, had arrived! I heard them before
they heard me, which is, perhaps, unfair, but it is sometimes also a
decided advantage, and I _needed_ all the advantages on my side! I
knew it as soon as I heard them speak, and that they would probably
consider me countrified and make fun of me. I didn’t care, but I was
glad to get used to the idea of our being so different, before we met
and I was plumped up against all that manner at one time.

It didn’t take a Signorina Sherlock Holmes to know that they had come,
and I didn’t need Beata’s wild pointing, for I heard their voices
immediately although they were in a room that was well down the hall.

The first thing I heard was, “Simply _impossible_!” (I knew in a second
that it was Leslie, and that it was her comment about the room) “You
mean to say,” she went on, “that my aunt has _seen_ this?”

“Si, Signorina,” Miss Julianna answered, and she didn’t sound as if she
were smiling.

“Well,” I heard in Leslie’s pretty, carefully used voice, “that is very
_strange_! What do you _think_, Viola?”

“I don’t know, dear,” came in a higher, and a little more artificial
voice, and then there was a silence.

A short, baffled kind of laugh, prefaced Leslie’s “I’m absolutely at
sea! I don’t know whether to stay or not--but I--vowed I _would_--”

“We might get a few things,” suggested Viola.

“_Yes_--” (doubtfully) “but the walls--streaks and soil--I _don’t_

Again there was a silence.

“You do as you like,” said Miss Julianna quickly and in a rather
brittle way. “I have keep the rooms at order of Mees Parrish, but you
do not haf to stay--”

And then she came out of the room, and down the hall toward me.
“_Insolent!_” I heard in Leslie’s voice, and I wasn’t much impressed.



That night, after a dinner during which Leslie and Viola looked as if
they were chewing lemons, I went to call on them because I thought it
was the polite thing to do. Goodness knows, I didn’t want to! I was
afraid that they would purr along about the weather, and that I would
have to bob my head and smirk and say, “Yes, isn’t it _charmingly_ warm
for this time of year?” and that kind of stuff which certainly bores
me! But they didn’t even bother to do that! They talked across me, and,
although it wasn’t comfortable, I will admit that it was instructive.

I think one can learn so _much_ about people when they don’t think it
is worth while to be polite, or think they are alone in the bosom of
their family.

I remember one time I walked home with Elaine McDonald from the Crystal
Emporium where we had had a banana split, and her father, who thought
she had come in alone, barked down at her as if she were a member of a
section gang and he were the boss.

The thing that made it funny was the fact that he is a purry man,
and always wears a swallow-tail coat on Sunday, and passes the plate,
and stands around after church bobbing and smirking over people, and
saying, “It is a _real_ pleasure to see _you_ here, Mrs. Smith!” (or
Mrs. Jones, or whoever it happened to be) He has a Bible class, too,
and is the President of the Shakespeare Club, and I was surprised
to hear him bawl out--bawl is a crude word, but it does belong
here!--“Elaine, you left the fire on under the boiler and there’s
enough hot water here to scald a hog! You and your mother don’t care
how you run the gas and the bills--”

And then Elaine said, and, oh, so sweetly, “Papa, dear, Jane Jones is
with me--”

And he said, “Ahem--how-a--how-a _nice_,” and then sneaked back into
the bathroom and shut the door quietly and finished his shaving in deep
silence. Which just shows--or should, because I am using it for the
express purpose of illustration--how different people may be in public
and while shaving. Of course Leslie and Viola didn’t syrup up in a
hurry as Mr. McDonald did, because they didn’t consider me worth while,
but I knew that they were capable of slapping on a sugar coating if
they’d _wanted_ to.

But, to get on, after dinner I waited around until half past seven,
because the best people in our town never start out to make calls
before that hour, and I wanted to be correct. Then I went down the
hall and tapped on Leslie’s door because I heard a steady buzzing back
of that and it intimated that the newcomers were together and inside.
After I tapped I waited. Then some one slammed a trunk lid, and I heard
an impatient, “What _is_ it?”

“It’s me,” I answered, and realized too late that I shouldn’t have said
that. I should have said, “It is I,” but I am always making mistakes.
Then I heard, “Vi, open the door--”

And Viola Harris-Clarke let me in.

Leslie, who was leaning over a trunk fishing things out of it, only
looked over her shoulder inquiringly for a second, and then turned back
after a “Hello,” that had a question mark after it.

“I thought I’d come over and see how you were getting on,” I said.

“Well, sit down--” said Leslie, “that is, if you can find a place!”
And I pushed aside a pile of silk under-things that was on the end of
a lounge, and roosted there. And then I waited to have Leslie ask how
I was, because at home that always comes first. People usually sit in
rocking chairs, and the called on person will say, as they rock, “Well,
now Mrs. Jones, how are _you_?” And after the caller answers, they get
along to the children and then ask about the father, and next about how
the canning is getting on, or the housecleaning, or the particular
activity that belongs to the season. It is _always_ like that in our
town with any one who calls, which I consider polite and interested
and nice; but I didn’t get it with Leslie; instead she went right on

I looked at her with a good deal of interest, and I decided that she
was the prettiest girl I’d ever seen. Her hair is very light in shade
and texture, and she wears it straight off her forehead, flat at the
sides, and in a psyche knot. (I learned later that Paris is through
with the puffs) She is tall and thin and graceful, and her skin is
fair and it flushes easily. Her lashes and brows are dark, and her
lashes curl up, (a few days later I saw her help them curl up with a
little brush) and she has a classic profile, slender hands and feet,
and a languorous, slow way of looking at a person that can be either
flattering or--flatt_en_ing.

Viola was another story, and just the way she looked explained every
single thing about her.

You could see that she was a _follower_.

Her hair had been bobbed, and she had had to bob it, not because it was
becoming to her, but because every one was bobbing it. Now she wore it
as nearly as Leslie wore hers as she could, with a net over it, and
millions of pins to keep the short ends of the slowly lengthening hair
from flying. Her eyebrows were what she called “Frenched” which meant
that she pulled them out and screeched terribly while doing it, and
her finger nails were too pointed and too shiny. Her mouth was too big,
and her chin receded a little, but she might have been nice looking
if she hadn’t made such a freak of herself. She didn’t look _natural_
at all, and she wasn’t pretty enough to justify all the fuss that the
stupidest person could see she made over every detail.

She sat on a corner of the table, swinging her legs and humming.

[Illustration: “Isn’t this simply ghastly?”]

“Isn’t this simply ghastly?” Leslie asked of me, after an interval of
some minutes’ quiet.

“What?” I asked.

“Why, this _place_. I don’t know _what_ Aunt Sheila was _thinking_ of!”
then she dumped dozens of pairs of colored silk stockings out on the
floor, and began to take out more and prettier dresses than I had ever
seen before in all my life.

“How’d your frocks stand the crossing, dear?” asked Viola lazily.

“Oh, fairly. . . . Old rags anyway. . . . I didn’t get a new _thing_!”
Then she leaned down again and began to take out perhaps a dozen
petticoats that shone in the light, and silk night-dresses and bloomers
and a pink satin corset, and gray suède shoes with cut-steel buckles,
and some gold shoes with straps and _ostrich_ feather rosettes on the
ankles, and some dark blue patent leather shoes with _red stitching_,
and _red heels_!

And as she did, she and Viola talked of people and places I had never
_met_, and of how _frightful_ the dinner had been, and of the “utterly
hideous rooms!”

After quite a little time of this--although I suppose it seemed longer
to me than it really was--Leslie sagged down on the corner of a trunk
she had not yet opened, and hinted about some past chapters of her
story that interested me and that was to have its love scene added in
Florence, which I then, of course, didn’t know.

“I came here,” she stated, as she looked straight and hard ahead of
her, “on pique.”

“I _knew_ it!” murmured Viola.

“Nonsense!” Leslie answered, sharply. “Why how would _you_ know?”

“Dear, I saw you were _suffering_--”

That smoothed Leslie; I could see her feathers settle, and when she
went on all the irritation had left her voice.

“Some one,” she confided, “and it doesn’t matter in the least who,
since he has gone from my life--I assure you I have absolutely put
every _thought_ of him away--intimated that I could do nothing but be a
butterfly. He was brutal, absolutely _brutal_!

“And I--perfectly enraged--said I could work, and I would show him
that I could. And that very night--Vi, are you sitting on my ostrich
feather fan?--oh, all right, I thought I saw something pink there; no,
I don’t mind the scarf--”

“Go on, dear,” said Viola, after her exploration and a wiggle that
settled her again.

“That very night,” Leslie continued, “I telephoned Aunt Sheila, who
happened to be in town and at the Plaza, and I told her I intended to
come here and study with Signor Paggi. She was just as _mean_ as she
could be. ‘Very well, Leslie,’ she said in that crisp way in which she
often speaks. ‘But he won’t keep pupils who don’t work--’ . . . ‘_He
will keep me_,’ I answered, and my voice shook. . . . I was fearfully
overwrought--my heart had already been _trampled upon_--”

I thought that sounded silly, but Viola didn’t, because she said, “My
_dear_!” rather breathed it out as if some one had taken her lungs and
squeezed them just as she began to speak.

Leslie looked up at the ceiling and swallowed hard, in a way she
considered tragic, and it was, but it also made me think of Roberta’s
canary when it drinks. Then she rubbed her brow, laughed mirthlessly,
and ended with, “_and here I am_!”

“The bath tub’s the worst,” said Viola, which sort of took the cream
off of Leslie’s tragic moment, and I could see that Leslie didn’t like
it, for she frowned.

“I don’t know what to do,” said Leslie after a small lull, “whether to
hunt some other place, or stand this--”

“Our trunks are all here,” Viola stated, “and it would be hard to
move--” (she had unpacked, and I found later she hated effort) “I
wondered whether we couldn’t get a few little extra things--curtains,
and cushions and so on? And the food we could supplement. I can make
fudge and chicken king.”

“I am certain I can make tea,” said Leslie, “it’s only a matter of the
proper pot and a spirit lamp and some water, and then throwing the
stuff in--I’ve seen it done dozens of times.”

“And we could buy rolls and things--”

Then they paused to consider it.

“Don’t most students do that sort of thing anyway?” I asked.

“It _would_ be Bohemian,” said Leslie, in a more energetic voice than
I’d heard her use before.

“And after we get famous they’ll photograph this ghastly hole, and say
_we lived here_--” Viola added, with a far-away, pleased look.

“I’m willing to try it,” agreed Leslie, in a dull tone I felt she put
on. “I don’t care much--what happens now, anyway!”

“Poor darling!” murmured Viola, and in that “Poor darling,” I saw the
shadow of a row, for I knew that Viola couldn’t keep that up all the
time, and I knew that when she stopped Leslie would be angry, and I
knew that they were too foolishly and sentimentally intimate to remain
good friends. However, I never dreamed for a second, then, that they
would come to _me_ to complain about each other! Which was just what
they did!

It was dreadful for me; there was a time when I never went into my room
without finding one or the other waiting to sniff out their tales,
tales which they almost always prefaced in this way: “I _never_ talk
about my friends--” (sniff) “You can ask” (gulp) “_any one_ where I
do--” (sniff) “but I want you to know that I have never been treated--”
(gulp-sniff) “as I have been treated since I came to this place in
company--” (real sob) “with that--that _creature_!”

When I think of it now, and then that first call, I could, as Viola
says, “Simply _scream_, my dear!”

But I’m getting ’way ahead of my own story.

At half past eight, I stood up.

“Well, I guess I’d better go now,” I said, but neither Leslie nor Viola
said, “Oh, _don’t_ hurry--” as I supposed people always did, and so I
did go. As I reached the door--alone--Leslie spoke:

“We go to see Signor Paggi to-morrow, don’t we?” she asked.

“Yes,” I answered, “at one.”

“We might as well go together,” she suggested, “although--” (her tone
was too careless, and she avoided looking at me) “we, of course, won’t
expect to act like Siamese triplets, will we?”

“I shall be busy a great deal,” I stated, as I felt myself flush, and
then I went out, and after a stiff good-night, went down the hall to my
own room. It did seem to me that Leslie had been unnecessarily unkind
in giving that hint, for I had only gone because I supposed it was
polite, and I certainly never would push in! Mother had never _let_ us
do that!

I was angry, and as I undressed, I vowed that I would let Leslie
entirely alone, and that she could make the first advances--if any at
all were ever made--and I wondered what kind of a man _could_ like a
girl of Leslie’s type, and what he had said that had made her do a
thing that was so evidently distasteful. I was really interested, and I
couldn’t help hoping that this man who had been “pushed from her life”
had socked it to her _hard_, (and I found later he had!) and I further
hoped--without even trying to help it--that I could squelch her some
day. Then I said my prayers and crawled into bed.

As I pulled up the blankets one of the _sounds_ that belong to Florence
tinkled in through my widely opened French windows. . . . Somewhere,
in some little church or convent, bells were ringing and sounding out
steps in mellow tones that floated softly through the air. . . . It
was very, very pretty. . . . And I closed my eyes, and I could see
lilies-of-the-valley and blue bells growing near ferns. . . . That
doesn’t seem very sensible unless you’ve _heard_ those bells, but
if you have--on a warm-aired, soft Italian night--you’ll probably
understand. Then the bells died gently down to nothing and I heard
another sound, and when I heard that I saw people clogging, for it
was a banjo, and I got out of bed in a hurry, and skipped over to the
window without even waiting to put on my slippers.

I couldn’t see much down in the court, because the wide banners of
light that floated out from the doorways only seemed to intensify the
shadows, and the banjo-player was sitting on a bench by the side of a
back door and not in the light.

But I could hear, and I heard, in a very pretty voice with the soft
strum of the banjo creeping through:

  “Dozens and dozens of girls I have met,
  Sisters and cousins of men in my set:
  Tried to be cheerful and give them an earful
  Of soft sort of talk, but, oh, gosh!
  The strain was something fearful!
  Always found after a minute or two
  Just to be civil was all I could do.
  Now I know why I could never be contented,
  I was looking for a pal like you.”

And I knew the tune, and it is one I liked, and the singing in my own
language was cheering and rather jolly, and the feeling the man put
into the foolishly light words made me laugh, and I leaned far out and

Then I heard a snatch of a Neapolitan song that better fitted the look
of the court, and then a bit of opera. . . . The troubadour faltered
on that, and right in the middle of it he stopped, repeated one
phrase, and then called, “Hi, Gino, old Top! Ta tum, ta tum, ta ta, ta
tum--that _right_?”

And Gino echoed it in his voice, and answered excitedly, “Si, si,
Signor! Brava! Brava, Signor! Brrrava!”

And then, warmed and cheered and quite myself again, I went back to



Signor Paggi’s studio is high up in one of those old palaces that seem
to frown at you, and the palace is on the Via Tornabuoni, which is
a street where lots of the wealthy and great people of old Florence
lived, hundreds of years ago.

At that time of course--years back, in the middle ages--they knew
nothing of modern improvements like portable houses or the sort of
stucco bungalows that get full of cracks after the first frost, and so
they put their houses up in the old-fashioned way, which does seem to
wear well, for they stand to-day as they stood when they were built.

I liked looking at them; there is a great deal in my nature that
answers to a real fight, and those houses were built for convenient
fighting. Probably then, the architects were fussing over nice, little
windows through which the owner could pour hot oil on a passing enemy,
instead of the sun porches and breakfast rooms and the kind of truck
that now occupies them.

It gave me a romantic, chilly thrill to see the blank walls of the
first stories, which make the streets where the palaces exist look so
cold and stern, for I realized that they didn’t have low windows in
them because if they had had, people who felt like it could throw in
bricks and things of such forceful nature, too easily.

They needed this type of dwelling because they scrapped so much. The
Medicis, an old Florentine family, and all dead, but still somewhat
talked about, were always fighting somebody or other, and so were the
Strozzis and Tornabuonis, who were also prominent hundreds of years
ago, but still remembered, I found, by a good many. I, personally,
don’t wonder, and I must admit that more than once during my stay in
Florence I wished I could skip back into the Middle Ages for a day or
so, and root at just one good fight.

However, I realize that this is not a natural wish for “A young woman
of refinement,” as Leslie would say.

We reached Signor Michele Paggi’s studio at the time when we should,
in spite of the fact that Leslie kept every one waiting while she took
off a veil with brown speckles in it and put on one that had black dots
stuck on it and then, after that was done, went back to hunt a pair of
gloves with gray and white striped gauntlet tops.

“First impressions,” she said, and almost apologetically, “are
_everything_, don’t you know? And I’d hate my veil not being right
just this first time--”

“You have a perfect _genius_ for assembling the proper accessories,”
said Viola, who just a moment before had grumbled out, “_Heavens_, what
is she doing? I never knew any one who could _fuss_ so over nothing!”

And then we went down our long stairs, through the crowded heart of
Florence, up the four flights of stairs that took us to Signor Paggi’s
floor, and down the hall toward the only door that had a placard on it,
to find that the placard had Signor Michele Paggi’s name on it, and
a curt invitation to walk in scrawled below that. We did. And I knew
that my saying I was frightened reveals a yellow streak, but I _was_
frightened, so I might as well say it.

Mr. Paggi’s verdict meant a very great deal to me, and I had heard that
he sometimes refused to teach. And although I had tried not to remember
that, I did remember it as people do remember things they try to cover
in their minds. Those covered thoughts are always straying out! You
are forever seeing a corner of one trailing out from under the thing
you’ve thrown over it--or at least I am--and Mr. Paggi’s turning people
away was one of them. I didn’t know quite what I would do if he turned
me away, because of Miss Sheila and Mother and all the rest. They
expected so much of me and I felt as if I’d die if I couldn’t keep
them from disappointment. And of course I had my own dreams too.

Well, Leslie and Viola were entirely at ease, and somehow--I
can’t explain--it didn’t help me, in fact their ease made me more
uncomfortable. And while they walked around saying, “_Adorable_ place!”
“So much _atmosphere_!” and things like that, and wiggled their fingers
to limber them up, I sat in a chair that looked better than it felt and
swallowed and swallowed and swallowed, and almost wished that I had
been like Roberta who plays nothing but rag, and ukelele accompaniments.

After quite a little time of this I saw a copy of the Saturday Evening
Post on the table, and got it, and I was really beginning to be
absorbed in something by Ring Lardner when an Italian girl came in. She
was a sullen type, and she said “Good day,” without smiling.

“We are waiting for Signor Paggi,” Leslie said in her sweetest way, but
it didn’t melt the girl who answered in the short-clipped manner that
many Italians speak English, ending each word abruptly and completely
before she started another. And she spoke in a level too, which made
her seem most unsympathetic, and fussed over the leaves of a big ledger
as she answered.

“I don’t know whether he see you--” she stated.

“But--” (Leslie laughed in an irritated, tried way) “we have an

“He don’t care. When he have headache he don’t care for devil. You can
wait, you can go, it is the same.” And then she disdainfully fluttered
the big leaves she had been turning slowly.

“Will you be good enough to tell him,” said Leslie in a tight
controlled way, “that Miss _Parrish_, that Miss Leslie _Parrish_ is

The girl looked up.

“No,” she answered, “I do not wish to have the book push through the
air at me--so--” (she made a hitchy, overhead girl-gesture of throwing)
“and he do not care who you are. Why should he care who you are?” she
ended, her eyes now on Leslie and boring into Leslie. It was almost
like a movie!

“_Really_--” broke out Leslie, and then she stopped and shrugged her
shoulders and walked over to stand by a window that had a row of
century plants on its sill. And here she hummed to pretend that the
whole matter was beneath her notice, but she tapped her foot and _I_
knew that she was angry.

Then we waited, and I never felt as if I did so much waiting as I did
then, although the waiting wasn’t stretched across more than half an
hour. It was stretched tightly, and that makes all the difference!

At last the inner door opened--we came to call what lay behind that
door “The Torture Chamber”--and a woman came flouncing out. After her
passing, a little man with stiff, coarse hair which stood straight
up from his head, and a waxed mustache, paced up and down inside the
little room. He looked as if he should be wearing a red uniform trimmed
with gilt braid and snapping a short, limber whip at crouching lions;
I’ve seen dozens just like him in cages!

“_Temperamental!_” Leslie whispered, and she was right!

“_Fascinating_,” Viola answered, in the same kind of a low, highly
charged wheeze. Then we waited some more.

At last Signor Paggi came to the door and stared at us.

“Well?” he snapped, and I was glad to leave the business to Leslie, who
stood up and spoke.

“Signor Paggi,” she said, “we have been sent here, because in America
you are regarded as the most _marvelous_ person--”

“I do not make fools play,” he broke in, “_You remember that!_ You have

“Yes,” Leslie answered, and with a good deal of resentment in her tone,
“I told your office girl, but she--in a manner I must, in fairness to
your interests, Signor Paggi, tell you was _insolent_--told me--”

“Very good secretary,” (he again interrupted) “I can get many pupils,
but only in my life once have I found the good secretary. Come in--”

And, silent, we followed him.

The room was large and almost empty. It had a bench in it, a table on
which was some music, a piano, and near that the chair that Signor
Paggi sat in when he wasn’t too agitated to _sit_.

“You first,” he said, almost before we had crossed the threshold, and
he pointed at me. I went to the piano and sat down. “Well, play!” he
barked and I think I played something of MacDowell’s.

“Stop!” I heard. I stopped.

“What do you see?”

“Nothing,” I answered.

“It is very clear you see nothing. It is _awful_. You play like a
_peeg_! Toodle, toodle, toodle, SQUEAK! _Oh_--” and then he clasped his
hand to his forehead and glared up at the ceiling.

“You must see peecture,” he said after a moment of silence, “a pretty
peecture; I give you time to theenk.” (He did) “Now go!”

And I did.

I don’t know what I played, but I saw our living room; the lounge that
has grown lumpy from the twins jumping on it; the piles of popular
music on the piano; mother’s darning in a big basket by the table; the
Boston fern in the bay window; even a pan of fudge that didn’t harden,
with a knife in it, and Roberta’s knitting--always a tie--half poked
under a sofa cushion.

And I suppose that doesn’t _seem_ like a pretty picture, but it was
pretty to me, and it carried me through.

“You can take lessons from me,” Signor Paggi said, as I finished. I
thanked him in a little squeaky voice that must have sounded funny.

“And now,” he went on, “you can get up. You theenk you seet upon my
piano stool all day? You do _not_.”

And then I got up and went over to the bench, and my knees shook more
than they had as I went over to the piano, which was so silly that it
made me ashamed. Leslie took my place, and I don’t think she was much
frightened. She was pretty sure of her playing she told us later, and
she was used to playing for people, and her assurance I thought would
help her, but--it didn’t. Signor Paggi let her play all her selection,
before he spoke, and as he did he _cleaned his nails with a toothpick_.

“Are you deaf?” he asked in an interested, remote way.

“Certainly _not_,” Leslie answered haughtily.

“Ah, how greatly then do I pity you! To hear yourself _play_! Oh,
_my_!” (And again he clasped his forehead and rolled his eyes at the
ceiling) “And also, you improve on Mr. Bach,” he went on, after his
tragedy moment was past. “It is very _kind_ of you to show the master
how he should do. No doubt he is _grateful_! _I_ think he turn in the
grave. . . . Mr. Paderewski have great sense; to work for a country who
is lost is better than to teach some I have met. . . . Oh, _my_! Some
fool teach you that in girls’ school? _You will drop airs with me, and
play what is upon the sheet. You see?_”

Leslie, with scarlet cheeks, and bright, angry eyes, got up, and
nodded. Then Viola was summoned, and I felt most sorry for her because
she had no nerve and she wobbled all the way over to the piano, but she
did better than either Leslie or I, and she got off with “Skip that and
thanks to heaven it will be shorter!”

And so ended that hard half hour that seemed hours long, and started
all our winter’s work in Florence.



After we had made a slinking exit that took us into the outer room, and
the girl, at a nod from Signor Paggi, had put our names down in the
book and given us slips upon which were our names and lesson hours,
we started down stairs and no one said a word. I think we would have
kept quiet for a long, long time if I hadn’t started laughing, but I
did--very suddenly and without really knowing that I wanted to--and
Viola, after a moment, joined me in a weak, close-to-hysterical way.
Leslie didn’t laugh and her eyes were hard and her chin set, and she
was so angry that she walked as if she had been wound up too tightly.
She made me think of “Mr. Wog,” a mechanical toy man, that the twins
start into the living room from the dining room door sometimes when
Roberta has company. It makes her very angry, because she says it looks
_so_ silly, and she says that it naturally embarrasses a man to realize
that some one has been listening to _every_ word he said. The twins
told me that they wait around in the dark under the dining room table
until they hear the caller tell Roberta that she is so sympathetic, or
beautiful, or that they have _long_ admired her, and then they crawl
out with their wound toy and start it in. Louise, who is the elder by
two minutes, said that “Mr. Wog” almost always broke into Roberta’s
soft, “Oh, _do_ you think so?” and that they always had to stuff their
handkerchiefs right into their mouths to keep from screaming with

But to get on, Leslie walked as Mr. Wog walks, and when she spoke she
did so between sharply indrawn breaths and in a way that told a lot she
didn’t trouble to put into words.

“Aunt Sheila _knew_ this old _devil_--” she said, “I make _no_
apologies for calling him that--and what she did was _vicious_,
positively _vicious_! She--she said I wouldn’t stick, _made_ me say
I _would_, in fact--” (she paused, and had to draw several quieting
breaths before she could go on) “in fact I wagered her a cottage that
father gave me last birthday, a _heavenly_ sweet place up on Lake
Placid, I wagered her _that_, that I would stick it out and study with
this horrible person! . . . And if I can ever punish Ben Forbes for
all this, I will consider that life has given me--_all the sweetness I
shall ever crave_!”

Then we stepped out into the street.

Of course it seemed about sixteen times as bright as it really was,
because both the halls and Mr. Paggi’s rooms had been dark, and it
seemed more good to be out than I can describe. After I blinked my eyes
into adjustment with the outdoor glare, I stole a side glance at Leslie
and wondered what sticking it out--if she _could_ stick it out--would
do for her? I knew that she would either flare up and leave it all,
or that she’d have to change, and I remembered how Howard McDonald,
who is Elaine’s brother, had learned to keep his temper by playing
baseball. The training, and the having to abide by decisions that he
thought unfair had been _fine_ for him, and after a season of playing
short-stop, everybody wondered whether he had changed, or whether
they’d been mean? “_Will you--can you stand it?_” I questioned inside,
and Leslie answered, almost immediately, quite as if I’d put my wonder
into words.

“I am going to go through with it,” she stated through set teeth. “If
I die of disease from living in that frightful hole, or from shocked,
shattered nerves after a lesson, perhaps Aunt Sheila _may_ have a
question or two to ask of herself!”

“He couldn’t have known who you _are_, dear,” said Viola, who was
groping around to find the right key.

Leslie laughed shortly.

“Aunt Sheila said I depended on that,” she confided. “That was during
one of her all-too-frequent moments of flattery. Sometimes I think I
have been the most misunderstood girl who has ever lived! And oh, how I
ache, alone, in my fumbling through the dark!”

She stared ahead like everything after that; I guess she was trying
to look dramatic. Viola said, “Poor _darling, I_ understand.” And
then Leslie said, “I--” (her voice dropped and broke) “I am close to
fainting--I need _tea_--” and so they went to Doney’s which is the
fanciest restaurant in Florence and marked “expensive” in Baedeker.
After the remark about Siamese triplets I didn’t intend to have her
think _I_ wanted to be asked to her party, so I said, “I must leave you
here--” although I had no idea where I was, or where I should be going.

“Must you, really?” Leslie asked so vaguely, that I got mad all over
again and answered with, “I generally say what I mean,” which of course
was _not_ polite. Then, feeling a little ashamed of myself, I turned
and left them and began to wonder which Italian I should ask where I
was and where I was going--in English; but I kept passing them, and
going farther and farther all the time because the doing it seemed hard.

Then suddenly I saw some one who was ahead of me, and I hurried, for I
knew the gray homespun coat and the swing of the gray hat brim.

“Wait!” I called, and he turned, and then he was laughing down at me,
and saying, “I just went up all those stairs that lead to the Pension
Dante to hunt you, and found you out--and found _where_ you were--now
tell me about it!”

“Oh, Mr. Wake!” I said, and I drew a deep breath because I was so glad
to see him, and so relieved over finding some one who could talk as I

“Pretty bad?” he questioned, with a kind look.

“I’m _so_ glad to see you,” I stated, which wasn’t exactly an answer,
but it pleased Mr. Wake, for he said, “Why, dear child, how _mighty_
fine of you!” and pumped my hands up and down in his. Then he said,
“Look here, I’ve a plan. I say we go collect some food, spoil your
dinner, add another inch to my tummy, and have a picnic. Like ’em?”

“Love them!” I answered.

His eyes twinkled down at me, and all the little laugh wrinkles on his
temples stood out.

“_Good!_” he said, “I know a little shop down here, on a dark arched
street, where Dante may have passed his Beatrice, and in that little
shop there are cakes that must make the angels long to come down on
parole. And near this bake shop is a wine shop, where I shall buy you
either some vermouth, or some coffee, and my plan is to collect our
goods, assemble them, and then eat. Is it welcome?”

“That’s exactly the sort of thing that suits my temperament,” I
answered. “I can hardly forgive a person who uses a spoon on an ice
cream cone!”

That made him laugh, although I don’t know why, and he took my hand in
his, and drew it through his arm.

“Amazingly improper I am told,” he said as he did it, “but a fine way
for comrades to walk, and I feel that we are going to be real comrades
and friends.”

“I _hope_ so,” I said, for I was liking him more and more all the time.

Then we didn’t talk for a little time, and I began to enjoy looking
into the windows of the smart shops that are on the Via Tornabuoni,
and at the gay crowds that shift and change so constantly. There were
dandies lounging at the curbs, swinging their canes, curling their
mustaches, and searching through the crowd, with soft-sentimental brown
eyes, for some pretty girl at whom they could stare--to stare, in
Italy, is a compliment! Then there were bright spots made by the women
with their high-heaped trays of flowers, and the funny spots made by
the insistent little boys who try to sell postcards and sometimes can’t
be discouraged even by a sharp “Basta!” which seems to mean “Get out!”
and “Enough!” and other things of that kind, all rolled into one!

In the street, the sharp cracking of the cabmen’s whips and their
shrill, high calls made a new sound for me to add to my collection,
and the beautiful motors which slid by made me wish that Elaine
McDonald could have _one glimpse_; because one day at Roberta’s sewing
club when all the rest of the girls were saying that my going away was
fine and everything, Elaine had said that she would rather stay in
Pennsylvania than go and hobnob with organ grinders, and _I_ think she
was jealous.

I liked all this more than I can say, and with Mr. Wake I wasn’t
bothered by the crowds. Florence has about the same population as
Baltimore, although Mr. Wake said it didn’t seem so because so many
Italians crowd in a few rooms, and they live so tightly packed. One can
walk to the edge of the city anywhere easily, for it doesn’t cover much
space, but to me it seemed very large and, at first, confusing.

After we had walked some time we turned in a tiny street that had an
archway over it, and seemed as dark as ink from contrast to the sunny
street we’d left. I liked it, and, as I picked my way over the big
cobblestones, I said so.

“It is a part of Florence that most tourists miss,” said Mr. Wake,
“and it is too bad, for it is the most characteristic part. Ah, here
we are--” he ended and we turned in a tiny doorway from which came the
pleasant smell of hot sugar and warm bread.

We got our cakes--which were very good--and took them in our hands,
and went on a few doors, around a corner, up a few steps--and those
right in the street at the back of some great palace--and then we
turned into a broader way and found a shop that had the entire front
open--they roll up during the day time and stay up even through all the
winter--and here I had coffee and Mr. Wake a tiny glass of wine, and
we ate and drank as the girl who had served us looked on and smiled.
It was _very_ pleasant, and I had a _fine_ time! I told him about my
interview with Signor Paggi and he thought I had got off easily.

After we had eaten and talked we walked up past the Loggia dei Lanzi
which has statues in it that commemorate all sorts of historic events
and faces the square in which there is a replica of Michael Angelo’s
David; the square is large, and very busy with quickly passing
people, and the people who pause to make small groups that are always
dissolving, and ever reforming; and these people always look futile. I
didn’t know why, but Mr. Wake said that the Palazzo Vecchio, which is
at right angles to the Loggia dei Lanzi and looks scornfully down over
everything, made it.

“See that old building over there?” he said, as he pointed with his

“Um hum,” I answered, as I looked way up at the great big tower, and
tried to keep my mouth shut while doing it. I don’t know why it is so
easy to look up with your mouth open!

“In there,” said Mr. Wake, “are ghosts who talk of making war upon a
neighboring town. They fear that Fiesole is growing too strong, Fiesole
that looks down from the hill behind you.”

“Did they fight like that?” I asked.

“Exactly like that! And without putting anything on the bill-boards
about it beforehand. . . . You see Italy was--not so long ago either--a
land of little countries, for each city had its rulers, and fought for
its rights, to keep its possessions, or to gain others. . . . And a lot
of the plans went on in there--” and again he pointed with his cane.

“How old is it?” I asked, and then he told me and I gasped, for it was
begun late in twelve hundred and finished in thirteen-hundred, fourteen.

“Not so old for Florence,” said Mr. Wake, after my gasp, “you know the
original Battistero, or Baptistery, was built probably in seventh or
eighth century. It was remodeled to its present condition, practically,
in 1200.”

“No, I didn’t,” I said, and humbly.

“Well, you’ve lots of time. And you’ll need it. There’s lots to see;
the house where Dante lived, and the tomb of Galileo, and the grave of
Mrs. Browning, and the literary landmarks--Thomas Hardy wrote things in
this town, and George Eliot came here, and oh, ever so many more--and
right before you in the middle of this square Savonarola was burned--”

And I had to ask who he was; I knew that I had heard the name, but I am
lots better at remembering faces then I am at remembering names.

“The Billy Sunday of the year of our Lord, 1490,” said Mr. Wake, “who,
after he had had more good art burned than has ever been produced
since, displeased his followers, the Florentines, who tortured
him--poor chap--and right over in that building, Jane--and then burned

“Why did he want the pictures burned?” I asked.

“The subjects hadn’t any slickers on,” said Mr. Wake.

“Feel anything here?” asked Mr. Wake, after we had been quiet a few

“I feel as if I don’t matter much,” I answered.

“That’s it. . . . The old building smiles scornfully, and says, ‘You
will pass, but I shall stay!’”

Then we walked across the square between the cabs and motors, with the
crowd, made up of soldiers and officers, and the big policemen--the
carabinieri--who wear flowing capes and feathers in their hats, and
always travel in pairs. As we reached the other side Mr. Wake told me
one more thing, and then took me home.

I noticed a statue of a man who was carrying off a beautiful woman who
struggled. There was lots of action in it; the girl looked as if she
could play forward and the man looked as if he would be a whopper at
the bat.

Mr. Wake saw me looking at them and said: “That’s the way they did
it in the old days, and, no doubt, had I lived then, I wouldn’t be a
bachelor. . . . Would you like the story?”

“Very _much_,” I answered.

“Well,” he said, as he twirled his cane, “this was the way of it. Very
early in the history of Rome, the debutante crop must have been low,
for there weren’t enough wives for the young men, who were up and
coming and probably wanted some one to darn their socks and to smile
when they told their jokes. And then perhaps there was an extra income
tax on the unmarried; they knew a lot about torture those days and so
it is not impossible! Anyway, the Romans made a great festival in honor
of Neptune, and they invited all the neighboring people to come and
bring their families, and in the midst of the games the young Roman
dandies rushed in among the spectators, and each selected a maiden that
he thought he would like for his wife--it had to be a case of love at
first sight, Jane--and carried her off.

“Soon after, the Sabine men, who were probably considerably put out,
came bearing down upon Rome with loud shouts and the brandishing of
glittering steel, and I myself can see the glare of it in the sun this
day! . . . But the Romans drove them back that time. However--and now
we have the real nub of the story, Jane, and the real confession of the
heart of woman--although the records have it that the Sabine brides put
up a most unholy row when they started out upon their wedding journeys,
they evidently liked the job of being Roman wives, and really respected
the men who didn’t even give them time to pack or to cry just once
again on mother’s shoulder, for before the second battle opened between
the enraged and outraged Sabines and the conquering males of Rome, the
Roman wives, once Sabine girls, rushed between the warring factions and
plead so prettily for peace that it was granted, and the story goes on
that the two people were so united that their Kings reigned together,
and that all thereafter was both peaceful and prosperous.”

“Oh!” I said. I did _like_ that story. “Did you ever feel like doing
that!” I asked, for I thought it might be a confession of men as well
as of women.

“I have,” he answered, “and if I had--perhaps--perhaps it would have
been better!” and then he smiled down at me, but the smile didn’t bring
out his laugh wrinkles, but instead it made him look strangely old and
tired, which made me wonder. We walked on, for a little time, silently.

“By the way,” I said as we reached the covered corridor that is
opposite the big Uffizi Gallery, “my Fairy Godmother writes letters!”

“And floats them to you upon dew?” asked Mr. Wake, “or does a spider
throw them to you with a silver, silken thread?”

“No,” I responded, “she puts a blue charm on the upper right hand
corner, and the letter comes to me!”

“And something of a marvel at that,” commented Mr. Wake. Then he
dismissed fancies, and added, “You have heard from her?”

“Twice,” I answered, “I had a letter yesterday, and one that was posted
only an hour after it came to-day.”

“I’ve a certain feeling--a want for seeing how fairy godmothers write,”
said Mr. Wake.

“It’s in my pocket,” I told him, and we stopped and I fumbled around
until I found the large, stiff square.

“There--” I said. Mr. Wake took it.

“No doubt you think me a strange old chap,” he said.

“Oh, no,” I answered, “a great many people are interested in writing

“It isn’t that, but your fairy godmother brought to my mind the years
when I believed in fairies. . . . A very nice writing, isn’t it? I
think it is most charming, don’t you, Jane?”

“See how it looks on the page,” I said, taking it from him quickly, and
then the letter from its envelope. “It _is_ pretty, isn’t it?”

“‘Dear, dear Child:--’” he read, and then suddenly, as if he were
irritated, or had been hurt sharply, added, “Here, here--I don’t want
to be reading your letters! And my soul, I must be getting you home!
I’ve a dinner engagement over South of the Arno, and I will have to
speed up a bit--”

And we did.

       *       *       *       *       *

At dinner Leslie was uppish and unpleasant. I think she was still
smarting from Mr. Paggi’s attack, and that her pride was so shaken she
had to pretend some of the assurance that she had lost that afternoon.
Anyway, something made her get into a very elaborate dinner dress, and
put a high, Spanish comb in her hair, and wear her big, platinum-set
ring of diamonds, and a little flexible pearl-set bracelet, and a
platinum chain with pearls on that. She looked beautiful, but Mother
never thought it was in good taste to wear things that are unsuitable,
and I don’t either.

Leslie sailed in after Beata had brought in the soup, and Miss Meek,
with whom Leslie had struck up a feud at the first meal, burst out
with, “Oh, my eye! Look at the Queen of Sheba!” which seemed to make
Leslie awfully mad, so when Miss Bannister asked me what I had done
during the afternoon, I told every one--to change the current--in spite
of the fact that Miss Bannister had said, “One of my deaf days, and it
doesn’t matter in the least, don’t you know. Only asked to be polite.
Pass the bread.”

“Mr. Wake?” said Leslie, after I had told of my walk, and the Loggia
dei Lanzi and the Sabine story. “And he took you into an alley
restaurant to eat? How _odd_!”

“Perhaps the poor old bounder is jolly hard up,” said Miss Meek, who
tries to be kind to people she likes.

“It wasn’t that,” I said, and I said it sharply, for I was getting
more and more out of temper with Leslie. “We were hunting around for
_atmosphere_; you ought to know what it is, _Miss_ Parrish, you talk
about it enough. . . . He has a villa out the Fiesole way and I guess a
person with a villa wouldn’t worry about a few cents, although I would
like him _just_ as well if he had to!”

“_That’s_ the staunch-hearted flapper!” put in Miss Meek, as
Leslie murmured, “So many of the climbing sort rent fearful little
places--really no more than chicken coops, and then call them villas!
_So_ amusing--”

“Did you mean my friend?” I asked quickly, as I felt angry hot spots
burn on my cheeks. You have to fasten Leslie. She likes to be mean
in a remote, detached way, which is the meanest way one can be mean!
Of course she didn’t own up to it; I might have known she wouldn’t!
Instead, she answered with, “_Really_, why would I mean your friend
whom I’ve never seen? What _possible_ interest would I have in him?”

I didn’t answer that; I couldn’t, I was too angry. I ate instead, and
so fast that I afterward came as close to feeling that I had a stomach
as I ever do. If I had known then how Leslie would come to feel about
Mr. Wake, and how she was one day to say, “Why didn’t you _tell_ me he
wrote books?” I would have been comforted. But the veil that covers the
future is both heavy and thick, (I guess I must have gotten that out of
some book, but I can’t remember where) and that evening I was to have
nothing to comfort me.

Something diverted me on the way to my room, and that was Beata, who
sat in the hall with her head on her pretty arms that were dropped on a

“Why, Beata!” I said, for she looked so forlorn, and I put my hand on
her shoulder. That made her raise her head, and she looked at me and
tried to smile, but there were tear stains on her cheeks and her heavy
lashes were moist, and I saw that the red tie was crumpled up in her
hand and I was certain that the tie was a little link in her story.

“Oh, Signorina,” she whimpered, and timidly groped for my hand, and
when she found it she held to it tightly, while I patted her shoulder
with the free one.

It seemed strange to stand there with her, understanding and helping
each other without a word, when Leslie and I could not understand or
help each other, with all our words in common.

Leslie sailed by at that moment, and raised her brows as she looked at
the tableau I made with Beata.

She thought it was common. But it was not. I am not always certain of
my judgment of her then, because at that time I didn’t like her, but
I know I am right in saying that she at that moment was the ordinary
soul, for she would have gone past need, and--raised her brows in



The week that followed the day of our first visit to Signor Paggi
allowed us all to find our grooves and to settle into them. And each
day I, in my going, started with a continental breakfast--one can slip
over these quickly!--and after I had had my two rolls and a pot of
something that smelled a _little_ like coffee and tasted a _lot_ like
some health drink, I went on to two hours of practising. I finished
these when the clock struck eleven, and then I’d write letters, or
sew fresh collars and cuffs in my blue serge, or wash stockings and
underwear, or walk until it was time for the mellow, soft-toned bell
that hung in the hall to be rung and for Beata to say, “È pronto!”
which of course meant lunch, and that it was one.

After lunch I had two more hours of practising and then I could do as I
liked again. Sometimes I walked--always if I hadn’t in the morning--and
sometimes I read or wrote, and once in a while Miss Meek asked me
to play “draughts,” by which she meant checkers, or Miss Bannister
would call me in her room to show me some old, faded, once brown, now
yellowing photographs of the house where she had lived as a girl, and
where her father, who had been “The Vicar,” had died. And I always said
they were _beautiful_, and she would nod, and keep on nodding for quite
a while, and point out the vine that her mother had planted, and the
place where her father sat under the trees and read his books, and the
spot where she and her little sister, who was dead, had had their dolly
parties. I think she enjoyed doing it, and I was so glad that I could
look at the photographs and say that they were _lovely!_ and ask her
little questions which she seemed to like answering.

Dinner and the evenings were all about the same, with Mr. Hemmingway
“a-hemming” and trying to remember, and Miss Meek barking out “Oh,
lud!”, or asking Leslie how “Lady Vere de Vere” was this evening?
And Miss Bannister squeaking out questions and then telling whoever
answered them that she didn’t care what they said. And “not to bother,
please--” and then--my room, for Leslie and Viola were very thick at
that time--and they wouldn’t have included me in any of their plans,
even if I had let my pride weaken and let them see that I was a little
lonely sometimes.

Of course I knew that I was in Florence to work, and that I was the
luckiest girl in the world to be there, and I told myself that _over_
and _over_ again! But a person’s heart will go on feeling just as it
wants to--in spite of all the person’s reasoning and sense--and I
must admit that some of those hours after dinner found me--well, not
_exactly_ happy. I think I really would have been pretty close to the
edge of honestly real misery if it hadn’t been for my Artist, who was
working a good deal at night.

After I’d snapped on my electric light, which only lit the center of
the great big room and made deep shadows behind each piece of furniture
and turned the corners into inky blotches, I used to go to my window.
If my artist were working, I’d go back to the electric turn, switch it
off, and then cross the room again, scramble up to sit on the sill, rub
my shins, for I always seemed to hit something in crossing! and--watch.

At first, he was painting with a model, and the model was a little
Italian boy, and that was the most fun to see, because the artist’s
arranging him was interesting. He worked quickly those nights, and
not very long. . . . Then came his working alone, and--what Leslie
would have called, “Real _drama_, my dear!” For more than once I saw
him stand away from his canvas, and study it in a way that told me he
didn’t think it right. . . . And once he dropped his palette on a
table, flung himself down in a chair and dropped his head in his hands.

I can’t describe how interested I got in that picture and in the
artist. I liked him even then--which does seem silly--but I did, and
although I had never seen him enough closely to know his face, nor, of
course, the picture, I felt that I must go tell him that it was _fine_,
and that he mustn’t be discouraged! I reached the point--and after only
a little time of looking into his work room--of talking half aloud, and
saying all the things I wanted to say right to him.

“It’s _really_ good,” I would say, “you _mustn’t_ get discouraged! What
do you do with that stick you hold?”

Of course he didn’t answer, but it helped me, and I will say here that
when any one is miserable from thinking of the kind of noise that they
are used to at home, and the way their mother looks when she sits by
the table with the drop light on it, mending, it is a good thing to get
_really_ interested in some one else! I know. I speak from experience!

That was the way the first week went; the second one started out with
the most interesting experience, and it ended with another one--and one
that I never, at that point, would have imagined _could_ be! But Fate
has a great many little knots in her threads which make her change the
pattern as she weaves, and Viola’s dislike of sickness, and being with
sick people, made Fate pause, then take a stitch and--draw me close to

I reckoned time, quite naturally, not with the start of a calendar
week, but from the day that I took my lesson. And it was on Wednesday,
at five on a rainy afternoon, just after my second lesson that I came
up the Via Tornabuoni all alone, stopped to buy three cream puffs, and
then thought I’d step into the Duomo which almost fills the big Piazza
del Duomo, and from its dome looks not only over all the city but far
off to the hills.

It was hazy inside, for incense was floating, but the chill of the
outside air that had come with the rain was gone, and the candles on
the big altar made a pretty bright yellow blotch in the center of all
the gray.

To people who only know churches in America, churches in Italy won’t
be understood, for Americans go to church stiffly, and then hurry off
criticizing the sermon or complaining about the hymns that were sung;
they never would think of standing around to talk in church the way the
Italians do; or think of going into church carrying a live rooster by
the feet, or of sitting down in the back of a church to eat a loaf of
black bread and a slice of orange-colored cheese. But the Italians do
this, and all sorts of informal things, and it does make the churches
seem very home-like and warm, and it’s nice to go in them. I wandered
around, and I even thought of eating a cream puff, but I decided I
wouldn’t because I hadn’t been brought up to it, and because it would
spoil my dinner and because cream puffs sometimes squeeze out when you
bite and I had on my best suit, so I carried them in that tender way
that a person carries cream puffs and enjoyed the real Italy that one
finds _in_ the churches.

There was a soldier from the ranks talking with his mother--I heard him
call her “Madre mia”--which means “Mother of mine,” and she smiled up
at him until her face looked like a little winter apple--it was so full
of wrinkles--and kept her hand on his arm which she kept patting.

Near them, on her knees by a confessional--which is a little box that
looks like a telephone booth but really holds a Priest who _tries_ to
help you, instead of something that squeaks out, “The party doesn’t
_an_swer,”--was another sort of Italian, a woman who was beautifully
dressed, and behind her was her maid who wore the gay costume of the
Roman peasant and who carried the beautiful lady’s little white dog.

Officers stood in groups chatting. Others came, dropped to their knees
a moment, crossed themselves, and then joined them.

And a shabby old man with a lump on his back came in, got down to his
knees very stiffly, and there looked at the altar for a long, long time
as his lips moved. I don’t know why that made my throat feel cramped,
because he was getting help, and for that moment all of the big church
was his, and his God was close to him, I know. But I did feel a little
funny, and so I hurried on, to look at a statue by a man named Michael
Angelo, who died nearly four hundred years ago, but whose work is still
in style.

After that I watched a little boy and girl who were sitting on a
kneeling chair, listened to the Priests, who were having a service up
by the main altar, and then I went out.

I had been inside quite a little while, I knew, after I saw the outdoor
light, for it was much darker, and the rain less a rain and more a
fog. The people who hurried across the shining square with their funny
flat umbrellas, looked like big black toadstools, and all the lights
reflected in the puddles, and the bright windows were hazed.

I didn’t want to put up my umbrella, because I love the feeling of a
little moisture on my cheeks when I walk fast and get hot, but I had my
cream puffs, and my best suit on, and so I did. And oh, how lucky it
was that I did, for if I hadn’t--but that comes later.

I went down the steps, and across the Piazza del Duomo, keeping my eye
out for the trams, (they call street cars “trams” in Florence) the cabs
with their shouting, huddled up drivers, and the purring motors, and I
turned down the street that would take me past the English Pharmacy,
for I needed a toothbrush.

On this I had gone along a few feet when I saw a man ahead of me who
swayed. I was quite used to seeing drunken men at home, but I wondered
about him; and when I remembered that Mr. Wake said the Italians never
drank too much, I wondered whether he was ill.

But I only wondered idly, as you do wonder on streets about things you
pass, and I might have passed him if he hadn’t, as I was beside him,
suddenly clutched the handle of my umbrella just below the place I held
it. Then he stood swaying, and looking down at me with eyes that were
glazed and seemed close to sightless, as he said, “I beg pardon, Madam,
I do--humbly beg--your pardon, I--”

And then he moistened his lips, and stopped, and I saw that he was
really very ill.

I closed my umbrella, because once at home I saw a country-woman try
to go through the revolving doors of our First National Bank with her
umbrella up, and it impressed me with the fact that you can’t use
umbrellas very skilfully if you are trying, with both hands, to do
something else. And I got it down _just in time_, for the tall man was
swaying, and he needed all the help I gave him and--more!

“Sit down on this step,” I said, and I put my hand under his arm to
guide him.

After he was down, his head rolled limply to one side and then dropped
back against the wall, his eyes closed, and when I spoke to him he
didn’t answer.



I knew he had fainted, but I spoke to him again to make sure, and I
even laid my hand on his shoulder and shook him a little. Then I put
my umbrella on the step, and my bag of cream puffs on that, and began
to sop my handkerchief in the least dirty looking puddle that I could
find. And all the time I did this I frowned just as hard as I could at
two little Italian boys who had paused to look on, and I said “Basta!”
very fiercely, but they didn’t go on; instead they stood eating their
chestnut paste and chattering with the greatest excitement. And soon
their lingering proved a help to me, for their noise made an old lady
pause. She had a tray of combs and hairpins, that were studded with
rhinestones and red glass, hung from her shoulder by a wide tape, and
after she had studied the situation, she slipped the tape down over
her arm, set her tray on the dryest spot she could find, and squatted
before my charge and began to rub his hands. And while she did this she
talked loudly and quickly at me until I was so confused that I lost all
the use and understanding of the thirty or forty Italian words that I
really _did_ know.

Then a shopkeeper who wore a long, once white apron and who was chewing
a toothpick came along and stopped, and _he_ asked questions, and the
old lady and the little boys all answered at once, and made their arms
go like hard-working, energetic windmills as they answered. Then two
soldiers in their olive drab came along, and _they_ paused and wanted
to know what was wrong, and the little boys and the old lady _and_
the shopkeeper answered _them_, and they stood talking. And then a
well dressed man of, I should say, the middle class, saw our group,
and joined it, and _he_ wanted to know what was up, and when he was
answered it sounded exactly like the point in a ball game where the
home team makes the first run made, in the last half of the tenth

And I suppose it must have been funny, but it didn’t seem so to me
then. The man had been unconscious for so long that I was very, very
much worried, and I didn’t know _what_ to do!

And when still another man paused and asked _the_ important question,
and the whole thing was enacted again with even more enthusiasm,
and more noise, I felt as if I were absolutely marooned. There was
something very dreadful about those few moments during which I needed
help so badly and had no way of asking for it.

The last man to join the volunteers stepped forward and I saw that he
was an officer of the Infantry, and he looked as dapper as they always
do in spite of the fact that mud was on his gleaming boots and that
some passing cart or motor had evidently splashed mud up on a corner of
his wide blue cape.

He bared his head and bowed to me, and then held out a little coral
charm that looked like a horn, and which I found later are carried by
millions of Italians as talismans against all sorts of evil.

He waved this and just at that moment the tall thin man happened to
open his eyes; I heard the little crowd gasp, and then I saw them bow
their heads and cross themselves quickly--and the little boys got
chestnut paste on their blouses by their doing this--and then there was
even higher, shriller, faster chatter, and through this my charge spoke.

“What’s--the row?” he asked weakly.

“You fainted,” I answered.

“Fool thing to do,” he said, and he tried to get up, but the trying
made him so dizzy that he had to sink back again, and then he closed
his eyes as people do when they are confronted by a whirling world that
has black spots before it.

“We have lots of time,” I assured him, and just as gently as I could,
for I did feel _so_ sorry for him. And then I turned to the Italians,
and said “Grazie, _grazie_!” as hard as I could, and bowed as if the
affair were quite over, and all of them except the little boys drifted
away. After that I reached down and put my fingers on the sick man’s
wrist, and when I located his pulse I found that it was pretty slow and
that made me ask the elder of the two boys--in two languages, and five
waves--if he could get a glass of water. And that made _him_ nod and
lay down his slab of chestnut paste by my patient on the step, and that
told me a story. And I never in my life have felt so badly, or so sorry
for any one, as I did when I began to understand.

For the sick man looked at that nibbled little slab, and moistened his
lips, and then he looked away. And then he looked at it again, and
shifted his position, and once he even reached out toward it, and then
he sat back and for a moment covered his eyes.

And I knew _right then_ why those cream puffs had beckoned me from the
window of the gay pastry shop! I opened the bag.

“Sometimes,” I said, “when I’m faint, I eat; it takes the blood away
from your stomach or puts it there, or something.” And honestly,
Roberta _couldn’t have said it any better_!

Well, he took one, and he tried to eat it slowly, but he couldn’t.
After he finished it, he said, “Thank you ever so much--I believe I
must have missed my lunch--I sometimes get interested in work--” and
then he paused and looked down at the bag.

“It’ll take more than one to help you,” I said, “you were _awfully_

But he shook his head. “No,” he answered, decidedly, “but thank
you--and so much--you got those for yourself, and I’m afraid I’ve
spoiled your party now--you have been _most kind_--” and then he drank
the water the little boy had brought, said a few words of thanks in
Italian, and sat looking before him. I had settled by him on the step,
and sitting there wasn’t bad, for the rain had turned to so gentle a
mist that it was little more than a fog, and it was getting so dark
that the passing venders thought we were only natives, and so they
didn’t bother us to buy lumpy looking statuettes or postcards or
rhinestone combs. The open-faced shops sent out shafts of light that
were so dulled by the haze that they looked strained, and I can’t
exactly explain but it was sort of cozy and nice in spite of the
dampness, and pretty too.

After a little time my sick friend turned. “You must get on,” he stated.

“I’m not in any hurry,” I answered.

“But it’s getting late for you,” he said as he looked down. I liked his
face even then. Later, Leslie said he wasn’t handsome, and she said
that the only two really handsome men she had ever seen were Ben Forbes
(_and he has a pink wart on his chin!_) and Wallace Reid; but I think
that kind eyes and a good mouth and a firm chin make a man handsome,
and I stick to it that Sam _is_.

“I’m going to take you home,” I stated, very seriously, and my friend
laughed and then I knew him; for I had heard him laugh in that happy,
quick way as he leaned out of a studio window that looked into our
court and answered the sallies of Gino, who was rubbing his brasses
down below.

“You are a dear and kind little soul,” he said after the laugh faded,
“but that tickled me; you are about four feet long, aren’t you? And
I’m a perfect telegraph pole, and pretty heavy. Anyway--” he had grown
very serious, “do you think I am going to let you bother any more with
me? You’ve wasted too much time now, and--what’s more important--one of
your lovely cream puffs--” and after he said that he looked at the bag
again, looked away quickly, and swallowed hard.

I knew I had to do _something_ to make him let me help him, because
I could see that he was stiff-necked, and that he intended to
be independent, and so I said--and rather softly because I was
embarrassed--“But I owe you _lots_--”

He said, “How come?” and turned again to look down at me, and I told
him, and as I told him he listened hard, and once--of course I must
have been mistaken--I thought his eyes filled.

“Well,” he said, after I finished, “_Well_,” and then, “_You poor
little chap!_”

“Oh,” I said, “I’m all right now, but you see you helped me when I was
unhappy and so it’s no more than fair that I should take you home,
and--and--share my cream puffs--”

Then an old lady who carried a scaldino--which is a funny little stove
that stands on legs and looks like a stewpot--came out of the door, and
we stood up.

“Can you move?” I asked anxiously.

“You bet I _can_,” I heard, “I feel _great_! Come on, little friend--”

“You take my arm,” I ordered, and he did. And he insisted upon carrying
the umbrella too, which we didn’t open, and every once in a while he
leaned down so he could look under my hat, and then he would say, “You
say you _aren’t_ homesick any more?”

And I’d say, “No, not any more--”

And he’d answer with, “That’s right. . . . You mustn’t be unhappy, you
know! You just mustn’t be _that_!”

We walked in an awfully funny way, because his stride was miles long,
and of course mine had to be short. And when he tried to shorten his
stride, it made him teeter like a Japanese official--I know about these
because our choral society gave _The Mikado_ two years ago--while if
I tried to accommodate my step to his I looked as if I were doing the
bent knee walk the twins do, that lowers their bodies and shortens
their legs and looks _awfully_ funny; and they always do it back of
Roberta when she is all dressed up and starts out to do her fancy

So we hobbled and hitched along, and suddenly I laughed, and he laughed
too, and then we were even better friends. It is strange, and very
nice, I think, how laughter does this.

[Illustration: “My name is Sam Deane,” he announced.]

“My name is Sam Deane,” he announced, after our laughter had trailed
off into a silence that had lasted past two fruit stores and a wine
shop, “what is yours, if I may be so bold as to ask?”

“Plain Jane Jones,” I answered. “I think yours is a really _nice_
name!” And then he told me that his wasn’t half as nice as mine, which
was mere kindness, because there is nothing romantic or fancy about
Jane or Jones; but, as Father said, there could be no Clytemnestras in
a flock that was handicapped by the last name _he_ gave us!

Then we reached the corner that would take us to the row of houses that
backed on our court, and here we turned, and as we neared his house I
kept getting more and more nervous, because I wanted to say something,
and I didn’t know how to say it. That is a feeling that most women do
not understand, but it comes to me often.

Mr. Sam Deane helped me, because I think _he_ wanted to say something
that _he_ couldn’t say; anyway, we stood for quite a few minutes before
his door, and then suddenly he said, “I _am_ a dolt; I intend to see
you around the block, of course; it’s much too late for you to walk

“You _are_ just what you said you were,” I interrupted. “I’ve spent an
hour getting you here; it would be too silly for you to try that! I’m
going to take you up to your room, too--”

“No,” he answered, “really, Little Miss Jane Jones, you’re _not_. I’ll
call Gino. The other wouldn’t do at _all_!” Then his tone changed and
he ended with, “How am I ever going to thank you?”

“Oh, it was nothing,” I answered, and I looked down at the spot between
the bricks that I was poking with the umbrella I had just recaptured.
He laughed, but not as I had ever heard him laugh before; this was a
tight, short laugh that didn’t seem as if it had much mirth in it.

“Well, just as you will have it,” he stated, “but--_I know_.”

“Mr. Deane,” I said, “will you _please_ take my cream puffs?”

He said, “_No_, my dear.” Said it with his chin set and his head high.

I waited for a moment, looking up at him. “Won’t you _please_?” I said,
and I was perfectly amazed; my voice shook.

“You know I’m hungry, don’t you?” he asked stiffly.

I nodded, “That’s the reason I’m trying to give them to you,” I
explained. “I don’t need them; Miss Julianna always gives us nice
meals, and I only got them for diversion. I thought I’d eat them coming
home because Mr. Paggi makes me nervous, but I’d forgotten my best
suit, and that I had to carry an umbrella--and that made eating them
difficult--” I paused, and looked up to see that my new friend wasn’t
looking over my head any more, but down at me.

“It’s a devil of an agent who is making my trouble,” he confided, “he
gave me an order, and now--try as hard as I may--I can’t make the thing
suit him; and I can’t tell now whether he’s right, or whether he wants
to revoke the order and is doing it by finding fault. You see, I can’t
see the thing straight any more--”

Suddenly I thought of Mr. Wake, who knows a great deal about pictures,
and I felt that he would help Sam Deane; I was _sure_ of it. It made me
smile. “I _know_,” I said, “that things will change soon--”

Then Sam Deane said something that was kind, but of course nonsense. He
said, “They have changed; you--you’ve made them--”

I poked the hole between the bricks after I said thank you, and then
I realized that it must be getting late, and that I would be late for
dinner if I didn’t hurry, so I held out the bag.

“_I would take them from you_,” I said, and after a second of
hesitation he took them. He didn’t thank me at all; but he clamped the
bag of cream puffs under his arm--he must have had to scrape them off
the paper when he came to eat them--and then he put both his hands
around my un-umbrellaed hand, and for a minute held it very tightly.

“I--can’t say anything,” he said in a funny, jerky way.

“Oh, that’s all right,” I answered. And he laughed a little, and he did
that in a jerky way too. Then he said, “You turn on your light, and
switch it on and off three or four times, will you, when you get in?
I’ll want to know that you’re all right.”

“I will,” I promised.

“And look here, you won’t be homesick, will you?”

“No,” I promised. Then I said “Good-night,” and he said “Good-night,”
and I went off down the street. At the corner I looked back to see him
still on the step and watching me, and that made me nervous, because
people catch cold easily when they aren’t well, and he should have
known it. And furthermore, there wasn’t the least necessity of his
watching me, because I had often been out later than that by myself and
I was quite safe.

In the Pension I hurried to my room, and took off my hat and coat and
switched my light off and on several times as I had promised, and from
across the court I had a fast-flashed answer.

Then I went out to dinner where Mr. Hemmingway was telling of his first
trip in a yawl--whatever that is--which had been in the spring of
1871, or 1872, he had a fearful time remembering which; and where Miss
Bannister was telling of the crumpets that they had had for tea when
the gentry came during the years of her girlhood; and where Miss Meek
was making sniff-prefaced remarks about people who made their money
overnight in America--this was for Leslie’s benefit--and where Beata
was to be seen, again with eyelids that were puffed from tears.

After dinner as I played Canfield in the dining room with Miss Meek
looking on and saying, “That’s the way to it! Now smack the queen on
the king jolly quick!” I thought of all the unfinished stories I had
around me.

First there was Miss Sheila, whose love story had been unhappy.

Then there was Mr. Wake, and I felt certain that he had a long story
tangled in the years that he had passed.

Leslie came next; Leslie who had cared enough for this Ben Forbes man
to come to Florence in order to show him that she was _not_ what he had
said she was.

And Viola, who for some reason was making a pretense of studying when
she really hated work.

Beata followed, Beata whose tie-knitting had ceased, and who cried as
she did her dusting or scraped the carrots.

And I had added, just that evening, another one, and that was Sam
Deane, who was hungry, and who was fighting, and who needed help.

All of them had stories and all of the stories seemed most interesting,
to me. I, I realized, hadn’t any story, but I didn’t really need it,
while there was so much activity and romance for every one around me.

Before I undressed, I wrote Mr. Wake a long letter about Sam Deane, and
I said that I was sorry to trouble him, but that I did want his help,
and that Sam Deane lived on the third floor of the building that backed
ours, which would be good for reducing Mr. Wake’s stomach. And then I
signed myself most affectionately and admiringly his, and closed and
addressed and stamped my letter.

Then I got Beata to take it out. I found her sitting before the wall
shrine and looking at it dully.

“It must go _quickly_--” I said. And she said something of sweethearts
and love, which was, of course, all off, but I hadn’t the time nor
ability to explain and so I let it go; and then I went back to my room
and undressed and went to bed.



The days that followed were dark and gloomy; the cold crept inside and
every one was uncomfortable and almost every one cross. Sometimes I
think that the weather really makes all the history, and certainly if
it hadn’t been damp Leslie wouldn’t have been sick with a cold; and if
she hadn’t had a cold she wouldn’t have quarreled with Viola; and if
Viola and she hadn’t quarreled, Viola wouldn’t have told Miss Meek all
about Leslie’s heart affair; and if Viola hadn’t confided it to Miss
Meek, then Viola and Leslie might have patched up their difference
long before they did. All this happened in the course of two dragging,
rough-surfaced days, during which no one was happy. And I contend that
the strain started from the clouded skies, and the chill which crept in
to cling to the floors and live boldly in the passages.

Friday afternoon I slipped a slicker over my everyday suit, which is a
belted tweed, and pulled a plain little felt hat low, and started out.
It was raining miserably, but I thought that I could shake off the
queer, unpleasant weight that I felt inside, if I walked hard, for I
had done that before. But everything conspired to hinder me.

I suppose every one has pictures that they collect without meaning to;
funny, little pictures that live in their minds and spring up at odd
moments; and pictures that sometimes come, with time, to bring back no
more than the _feeling_ of the long forgotten day when the particular
picture hung itself up inside.

Cats that step reluctantly and pick up their feet in their wet-hating,
curly way, will, I know, always take me back to the damp air of that
afternoon when I walked down past the fish market to the Piazza del
Duomo, where the cobbles shone in the wet and reflected the bobbing
umbrellas, and where, instead of the usual chattering crowds, there
were empty spaces, which was bound to give a feeling of loneliness to
any one who knew and loved the Florence of sunny days.

I went through this and down past the Loggia dei Lanzi, where there
were no stalls or no hand trucks heaped with flowers, and then through
the court-like street that divides the two upper floors of the big
Uffizi Gallery, on under the little passageway that connects these, and
then along the balustraded walk that overlooks the Arno.

It is lovely to walk by this river in the sunlight, because then there
are women down below, on the shallow strips of beach that crop up here
and there, who wash clothes by beating them on stones _with_ stones,
and who sing and joke, or call scornful taunts at each other, as they
work. But this day it was empty save for a little boy who sat in the
stern of a moored boat and fished--I suppose with a bent pin on his
string--just as his little American brother might do in my own land.

After I had walked toward the Grazia Bridge, and crossed the street
to see something I thought pretty in one of the windows of the shops,
I turned and went back toward the Ponte Vecchio, which means “The Old
Bridge,” and as I walked across this I considered what I would buy to
take home to Mother, Father, Roberta and the twins.

I did this because the bridge is lined with little shops that have
windows that twinkle from the gold and silver they hold and the
gleaming of all the stones I had ever heard of and many, many more.

Then--and with the weighted, unpleasant feeling still with me--I turned
in the direction that would take me home, and hurried as quickly as I
could because the rain was coming down faster and it was coming on the

The people in the shops I passed were idle, and the women huddled up
with the stewpot little stoves they call scaldinoes tucked under their
feet and skirts. They still sat in their doorways although a real
storm raged, and I learned that day, truly, that most of Italy does
live in the street.

As I turned in the Via Nazionale, which is our street and becomes the
Piazza Indipendenza as soon as it reaches the park, I saw, through an
open door, a piece of stove pipe that stood on four legs and had a
curling little chimney at one end, and that made me smile a little,
for the original pattern was invented by an American sea captain who
wintered in Florence and almost died of the cold; and the stoves--which
Mr. Wake says get much hotter than the infernal regions ever
_could_--are called “American pigs.”

I found the hall very, very dark, and after I had climbed the stairs
and got in the Pension corridor I found that that also was dark, and
then Miss Julianna came along, switched on the lights, and through that
I heard Beata’s story.

“She is ashamed,” said Miss Julianna, “to have you see the _cry on her

I said I was sorry, as Beata, who had been sitting in the half light by
a table, lowered her head and looked away.

“It is sad,” Miss Julianna agreed, “the good girl, Beata! She loves
very much, and also has love give to her, but has not the dowry! And
you know here it is necessary.”

“Can’t she earn it?” I asked.

“She had save some, but her small brother, Giuseppe, walks of the
crutch, and could be made well; for him she give her money that was
saved. No, Beata?” she ended, after adding a string of Italian that was
too quickly spoken for me to follow.

Beata nodded, and _she_ spoke quickly, and then she sobbed.

“She say,” said Miss Julianna, “that she is happy and would do again,
but her heart, poor little foolish one! Her heart go on loving when it
should now _stop_! It is _sad_! No, Signorina?”

I thought it was! And I went over by Beata and patted her shoulder.
It did seem unfair for her to be unhappy, because she was always _so_
pleasant and kind.

“The Signorina Par_reesh_ is more bad of the throat,” went on Miss
Julianna; “I went in; she say, ‘How glad to die, I would be!’ also you
have the letter--_here_--”

I took the letter with a good deal of hope that trickled off into
nothing as I saw dear Miss Sheila’s writing. It had been over a week
since I had heard from home, and it seemed much longer than it was.
Of course I was glad to hear from Miss Sheila, but I needed a letter
from Mother, all full of an account of the things the twins had done,
and who was calling on Roberta that night, and who was sick, and how
many appendixes Daddy had taken out, and what they’d had for dinner,
and how the geraniums were doing, and how Marshal Foch--who is our
canary--was almost through molting.

That was what I _needed_ and so I had to swallow hard several times
before I opened Miss Sheila’s letter--I had thought _surely_ the letter
was from Mother--and after I opened it I swallowed harder, for the
twins had contracted diphtheria--as they did everything, together--and
Miss Sheila said that Mother wouldn’t be able to write for some time.
Mother had telegraphed her and asked her to write me and to keep me

Well, after I stood around a minute looking down at the page the way
you do when it holds something you’d rather not see, I went along the
corridor to my room, and in there, I sat down in the cold, and wondered
whether the twins were very sick, and then I thought of the times
I’d been cross to them, and then I wondered whether Mother could get
it--and I had to swallow _awfully_ hard over that, and then--I thought
of Father. And I got up very quickly and squared my shoulders, and took
off my coat, and put it over a chair to dry, and hung my hat on the bed
post, and went off down the corridor to Leslie’s room, for Father had
_no use for people who are not sports_. It helped me to remember that.

Leslie was sitting up with her feet in a tub of hot water, and she had
on a chin strap that tied on top of her head in a funny little bow, and
she was crying. I was sorry for her, and sorrier for myself, and we
were both miserable, but she looked funny. I saw it even then.

“Always--wear this when--I’m alone,” she said thickly and in jerks.
(She was talking about the rubber strap that was jacking up her chin.)
“Mother--has a double--chin and--_the blood just drains from my heart
when I look_--every time _I look at her_!”

“I wouldn’t worry about it to-day,” I advised. Then I asked her whether
I could get her anything. She shook her head, and then she spoke.

“Viola told Miss Meek everything _I’d ever told her_,” she said, “all
about Ben Forbes saying I was idle, and a p-parisite. Don’t you think
that was mean?”

I did. And I said so.

She sniffed, and then suddenly, she hid her face in her arm and began
to cry hard.

“I wish--” she whimpered, “I were--_dead_--”

And then I got _her_ story.

       *       *       *       *       *

This Benjamin Forbes had lived next door to the Parrishes in New York,
and he did until Leslie was eighteen, which was the year before she
“came out,” (whatever that is) anyway, he used to help Leslie with
her lessons, and take her to the Zoo and riding in the park, and he
bought her candy, (the hard, healthy variety that comes in jars and
is no good, but the only sort she was permitted to eat, and she said
she appreciated the fact that his _intentions_ were kind) and he even
used to go to the dentist’s with her while she was having her teeth

Well, she said that he never thought of her except as a little girl,
but that she _adored_ him, and that one night when she was at a fudge
party at boarding school--and she was only sixteen at the time--when
the other girls were discussing and planning their husbands, she,
Leslie, suddenly knew what sort she wanted, and that the sort was _Ben_.

And she placed him on an altar then, (I quote; for Leslie’s style is
_not_ mine) and she never wavered once although she had much attention
paid to her, and had had two and a half proposals--the half coming
from the fact that her father plunked right in the center of the third
one, and evicted the suitor, who left in such agitation that he went
without his hat. (Leslie kept it for a souvenir) However, to get on,
Mr. Forbes’ younger brother wasn’t strong, and so Mr. Forbes bought a
ranch and went out there, and he liked it and they stayed.

He came back after four years, and offered to take Leslie to the
_Hippodrome_, which showed he didn’t know she had grown up, but she
suggested a Russian play instead, and he took her there, but she said
she could see he didn’t enjoy it, and that he was not pleased with her
having matured and that he rather resented it, and he didn’t seem to
know how to talk to her, and he acted baffled, and she said that, as he
groped, and unconsciously showed his disappointment, _every dream and
hope of hers was scattered in the dust_. (I am quoting Leslie again)
Well, he left after he had been in New York a week, but the night
before he left Leslie asked him frankly why he didn’t like her, (she
told him that she could _see_ he didn’t) and then he admitted that he
was a little disappointed.

“I like girls,” he said, “who can work, and who don’t make playing
their only work. All you can do is go to teas and poppycock parties,
now isn’t it?” (She said he was gentle, but that he told her all he

“You can’t,” he went on, “even play the piano as well as you did at
fourteen; you can’t keep house, can you?” (And Leslie couldn’t) “And
it seems to me,” he ended, “that you are content to be a pretty little
parasite, and that disappoints me.”

And his saying that sent her to Florence, and it started, she said,
a ceaseless ache in her heart. And the ache grew too large to keep
hidden, and Leslie confided in Viola; and Viola, in an effort to make
Miss Meek realize that Leslie was away out of her natural placing, told
Miss Meek that Leslie’s broken heart had led her to seek the solace of
work in these humble surroundings. And Viola’s talking to Miss Meek was
made by the fact that Viola hated sickness, couldn’t bear being with
people who were sick, and--had to talk to some one.

In that way the confidence became a triangle, and it ended as such
triangles usually do--where it started--for Miss Meek came in to
Leslie’s room and boomed out, “Oho, Miss Smarty! The Queen didn’t rule
every one now, did she? And I’ll say jolly lucky for the Forbes man at
that!” (Miss Meek dislikes Leslie)

And when Viola appeared later, and said, from the doorway, “Darling, is
there _anything_ I can do for you?” Leslie answered, “You can _try_ to
keep your mouth shut!” and then I think they had a row, although Leslie
says that people of her station _never_ row. It seemed like one to my
simple nature, though, and during the course of it Leslie told Viola
that her people were “nobodies” and that Mrs. Parrish hadn’t been “at
all pleased” when she heard of Viola’s going, and that she, Leslie,
now knew it was a “climber’s scheme”; and then Viola said that Leslie
considered herself more important than she was, and that money wasn’t
_anything_, and that now she knew that society was a “hollow sham,”
since people like Leslie could masquerade as paragons or paramounts, or
something like that--I sort of forget--in it.

And then they both cried, and Viola slammed the door as she left, and
that started _it_--which was a feud that lasted until Viola had a
trouble that was big enough to make even Leslie forgive her the things
that she had said, on that rainy day that backed so many unpleasant

After I left Leslie, I went to my own room and stood by the window
looking across the court. . . . There was no light in my artist’s
window and there had been no sign of any life in the big room since the
evening that followed my taking him home.

Mr. Wake had sent me a little note that read: “Sam Deane is all right
now. Will report on Saturday.” But that didn’t tell me whether long Sam
Deane had gone on to another part of the country or to another land or
was still in Florence, and, somehow, it didn’t seem to satisfy me.

I wondered a lot as I stood there, and I realized that I had
hoped--really without knowing it--that I’d see that tall Deane man
again. But his rooms were empty and dark, and it was raining, and a
swinging sign somewhere in the neighborhood protested in high shrill
squeaks as the wind pushed it back and forth, and the twins had
diphtheria, and I had been so cross to them sometimes, and they were
_so_ dear, and poor Beata had lost her sweetheart, and Leslie was
crying, and Viola angry and miserable--and--I _did_ want to wander out
into our big, yellow-walled kitchen and say “What are you going to have
for supper, Mother?”--and to know that they were _all_--every one of
them--all right.

The court was growing very dark, and the shadows were gloomy. The rain
was caught by a swooping wind and swished against the windows and
ran down the panes in rivulets. And just after that the Pension bell
jangled loudly, and I thought of the twins and of cablegrams, and when,
after a long, long tightly stretched moment or two, some one tapped on
my door, I had to moisten my lips before I could even half whisper,

And then--

Oh, well--there is always, _always_, blue back of the gray! But
somehow, when one is far from home and it rains hard, you sort of
forget it!



It was Beata who had tapped on my door, and after my weak-kneed
“Come--” she opened it and came in, and as she crossed the floor to
reach me she held out a lavender striped box that was tied with silver
cord. I took it, and it did seem to me that the silver cord would never
come untied--I suppose because I was so excited--but at last I got the
knot out and the cover off, and I saw a bunch of big purple violets
that smelled of earth and of their own soft, sweet perfume. I couldn’t
believe they were for _me_! I had never had violets sent to _me_ before.

But they were for me, and after Beata, who had lingered from interest
and frankly looked on, said, “Signorina, _la carte_!” I picked up the
envelope that was in the bottom of the box, and read on it,


  “Miss ‘Plain Jane Jones’”

and then I tore that open and read the letter. It was from Sam Deane
and it said:


    “Lots of luck has come to me--and may I say, bless you? _I
    think I must!_ I can’t return the cream puffs, for somehow or
    other I mislaid the ones you loaned me, and I’m afraid I can’t
    match them.

    “I would like to say lots, but your Mr. Wake is looking over my
    shoulder and telling me that you are a dear little girl--and
    don’t I know it?--but, dragons or not, I am going to be your
    friend, if you will let me.

    “Mr. Wake wonders whether you will go walking with him,
    Saturday. He says he will call for you at three and return you
    when his waist line is sufficiently reduced.

    “I can’t say thank you for all you have done for me; some day I
    will try to tell you how I feel, and I will show you always, by

            “Your sincere and devoted friend,
                       “SAM DEANE.”

I liked that letter.

“Beata,” I said, “aren’t they _lovely_?”

“Si, _si_, Signorina!” said Beata, and she nodded and nodded, and her
eyes shone just as if the violets were hers. And then I went to stand
before the glass, and place them the way girls do, and I was so excited
that I stuck the violet pin right through my corset into my stomach,
_but nothing mattered_! I was just _awfully_ happy! I didn’t know that
violets would make you feel that way, but these did. And Mr. Hemmingway
thought they were beautiful, and tried very hard to recall the first
year he ever “sent a lady a posy” (but he couldn’t remember because he
couldn’t remember which year he had bought a tan and white striped
waistcoat in the Strand or Ludgate Circus, of course he couldn’t
remember where, and the waistcoat buying prefaced the posy giving) and
Miss Meek said that _some_ man had more sense than most of the jolly
idiots, and Miss Bannister asked me who sent them, and let me answer
without telling me it was one of her deaf days, which showed that every
one felt kind and interested.

And so dinner passed, and after dinner I sat with Leslie a little while
and helped her get in bed; and then brushed my hair while Viola sat in
my room and told about how Leslie’s grandfather had started to make his
fortune in pickles--and she seemed to be glad of it, I couldn’t see
why--and then she squeezed my hand, and said that she was sorry that
she had been so fearfully busy during the first two weeks, and that we
must see lots of each other now--I suppose because she had fought with
Leslie, I know I hadn’t changed any in that short time--and then she
left and so ended that day.

Saturday was clear and everything was washed and clean by the rain that
had fallen so steadily and long. All the roofs were a brighter red and
the gray and tan houses lightened and the sunlight was dazzling, and
even the song of Florence--which is made by the many, many church and
monastery bells that mix, and tangle, and float across the city to
make pretty, skippy tunes--even this song seemed freshened by all the
scrubbing that the city had undergone.

I got up quite early and went to my window to look out. Gino was
whistling as he swept around his back door, and talking to his parrot
that he had brought out with the stand to which it was chained. . . .
And I looked above him at the big window through which I had so often
watched my artist, and I realized that Mr. Wake would tell me about
him that day. . . . And then Beata came to call out her gentle, “Buon
giorno, Signorina! Acqua calda!”

And I answered, and took in the tall, steaming, brass pitcher and began
to bathe and dress.

I practised a lot in the morning, and brushed my best suit, which I
thought _ought_ to back my violets, and then came lunch, and then
getting into outdoor duds; and at last the Pension bell jangled as it
swung to and fro in answer to a touch from downstairs, and I knew that
Mr. Wake had come. I went out to the head of the stairs, as soon as I
heard the bell ring, and called, “Is it you, Mr. Wake?” And, when I was
answered as I wanted to be, I hurried down.

It was _very_ good to see him, and I stood in the doorway with him
for several minutes as I told him about the twins, (he was sure they
weren’t very sick) and of Miss Sheila’s promising to write me regularly
about how things went on, and of Leslie’s bad cold. And then I asked
about my friend, Sam Deane.

“Able to take a _little_ nourishment,” Mr. Wake answered, which I found
later was a joke. “I have quite a story for you,” he went on, “suppose
we start out and talk on the road. Shall we?”

I nodded, and then blinked as I always did when I stepped from the
dark, gray-walled hall out into the brilliant middle hours of an
Italian day. It was cheerful outside. The cats--and there are millions
of them in Florence; every one sets out food for them, and no one
ever harms them; I think they were blessed, and so protected, by some
Saint beloved of the Florentines--the cats sat sunning themselves and
washing their ears and whiskers, or they strolled without hesitation,
and planted their feet surely, which shows how quickly the sun had
worked at drying things. The old ladies who always sit in doorways and
call to each other, huddled less over their scaldinoes, and little boys
with bare knees ran through the paths in the Piazza Indipendenza or
spun their tops on the pavement on our side of the street. Of course
officers walked slowly, and little knots of soldiers from the ranks
collected on corners to talk, and pretty Italian girls fluttered past.
Every one seemed glad to be out, and happy. It was pleasant.

“Well?” I prompted after we had turned a corner, and into a street
that was, from the white walls, simply ablaze with sun. “Where _is_ Mr.

“At the Villa Rossa, now, I think,” Mr. Wake answered.

“_Your_ house?” I said in surprise.

“Yes, my dear. . . . And very glad I am to have him. . . . A nice
boy, a very _fine_ boy, and I needed some one to play the banjo in my
garden. . . . I have fountains that look very well in the moonlight,
and a climbing rose tree that has covered one side of my house, and I
have marble benches, and everything that goes with romance, and--not a
hint of the real thing. All wrong it was! And so I am glad to have this
troubadour from Texas--”

“I called him that too,” I confessed, “I used to like to hear him

“And so do I,” Mr. Wake responded, “and I imagine he plays remarkably
badly. There must be ears of love as well as eyes of love. . . . You
like him?”

“Oh, very _much_!” I stated. Mr. Wake smiled down at me then--I didn’t
know quite why--but I liked it; it gave me something of the same warm
feeling that came from the almost piercing sunlight, and then Mr. Wake
took my hand and drew my arm through his as he had done before.

“The devil take Signora Grundy,” he said, “I have no use for her at
all, and never had! And how--” (he stopped and coughed and finished
with a jerk) “is the fairy godmother?”

“Very well,” I answered.

“Some day,” he said, “you’ll describe her to me? Faith, and I never
will get enough of some fairy tales!”

“I will,” I promised. And then Mr. Wake went on to tell me of Sam
Deane, and I was glad to hear his story.

Sam Deane, who was twenty-eight, Mr. Wake said, had won a traveling
scholarship from a well-known art school in the middle west. This had
meant a year in Paris and a thousand dollars allowance beside, and it
was given as a reward for exceptionally good work.

Well, Sam Deane had come to Paris and worked his year, and then he
decided that he wanted what Mr. Wake said Sam termed “A go at Rome and
Florence,” so he packed his suitcase, tucked his banjo under his arm
and walked most of the way to Rome. And Mr. Wake put in the statement
that Sam was the sort who could get what he really wanted, and I said
I thought so too, and then Mr. Wake smiled down at me again in his
very pleasant, twinkling, warming way which led me to believe that the
weather made him feel well, too.

Sam Deane did well in Rome where he looked up some of his fellow
workers, and shared a beautiful studio that was set high in a bit of
the old Roman City wall. He got some orders and saw the place, and he
stayed there quite a while and began to feel that Fortune was really
fond of him.

But in Florence! Oh, that was a different story!

The haughty city turned her back on him, and she closed her long, slim
fingers round her gold. And Mr. Wake said that Sam had been duped by
the worst scoundrel of an agent that ever lived, and that there was
nothing wrong with the picture Sam was copying, not in the _manner_,
Mr. Wake stated. (He said the subject was ghastly, I don’t know why, I
thought the little boy would have made a pretty picture, but when you
are educated in Art I don’t believe you want them to be pretty) Anyway,
the agent kept putting Sam off, and making him redo his work, for he
had a clause in his contract order that let him do this. And Mr. Wake
said that in this way Signor Bianco usually reduced his slaves to such
despair that they finally let their work go to him for half its real

“Now--” Mr. Wake ended, as we drew near a long building that had
medallions all along the front of it, made of the same sort of ware
that I had seen in the fountain up on the Via Nazionale, “Now I’m
going to take a hand. . . . And I know that with a little boosting
and a little advice the young man will _get along_! He has the real
stuff in him. Some of his sketches made me think of the early work of
Davies. Going to keep him with me until he gets a hold, and longer if
he’ll stay. Nice boy, _fine_ boy. . . . Look ahead of you, Jane, my
child. . . . You see the round, blue and white plaques up there? Copied
all over the world, those little white babies with their legs wrapped
in swaddling clothes. They were made by della Robbia back in the
fourteenth century.”

I thought that was wonderful, and so different from our modern art,
because if you were to hang up a Henry Hutt picture, even indoors, I
don’t believe it would last fifty years.

I said this to Mr. Wake, who entirely agreed with me. Then he told me
that one of the reasons that the Italians made such beautiful things
was that they took a long time to doing it. A man named Orcagna who is
dead--it is discouraging to think that every one who is great seems to
_have_ to be dead a long, long time--this man worked thirty years on a
shrine that is in a church called Or San Michele. (It is a _beautiful_
shrine of marble and silver and precious stones and lovely little
carved figures) And Giotto died before his tower was finished--it looks
like a slim lily where it stands by the side of the big fat Duomo--and
Raphael was killed by working too hard over his pictures, and wasn’t
allowed to marry because the Pope thought he should give all of his
time to his work, which seems so sad to me. . . . I kept thinking for
a long time, after Mr. Wake told me that, of how Raphael’s sweetheart
must have felt when Raphael was buried at thirty-seven, for that isn’t
so very old, after all.

As we stood there talking I saw Viola coming toward us, and after I had
spoken quickly to Mr. Wake, I called to her, because I knew she was

“This is Viola,” I said to Mr. Wake, “her last name is Harris-Clarke,
you say them both,” and then I added, to Viola, “We’re going to see
this church. Do you want to go with us?”

“But how charming!” she murmured, “and this is Mr. Wake, of whom I have
heard most _pleasant_ things?”

Mr. Wake bowed from the waistline, but he didn’t seem especially
pleased, or at all excited over the things she had heard of him and
that did surprise me a lot!



That afternoon was pleasant, but I don’t think that’s the reason
I remember it so clearly. A good many pleasant sight-seeing walks
followed that have grown a little dim, even now. I think it fastened
itself by my beginning to see Viola, and a side of her through which
she was soon to hurt herself so cruelly. I discovered the side through
a little comment of hers on a painting made by Andrea del Sarto, an
artist who painted in Florence a good deal in the fourteen hundreds.
They didn’t have any electric signs then, and so they used paint
instead, and they spread this over the churches--both inside and
out--because they were old fashioned and religious.

After Viola joined us Mr. Wake said, “The building we face, the one
that has the della Robbia babies smiling down on you from the front
of it, is a hospital for foundlings--little children whose parents
die, or for some reason or other don’t want them--and it is called the
‘Innocenti,’ which means The Innocents, and there, years ago--probably
some time in 1452--a little baby who was later called Leonardo da
Vinci, found a home. It was rather well that he did, wasn’t it? And now
shall we go into the church?”

“Let’s,” I answered, after I had taken a long look at the stern looking
building that holds inside so much that is lovable. And then we went
into Santissima Annunziata and after we had looked at the glittering
Chapel of the “Annunciation Virgin” and some paintings Mr. Wake told us
were wonderful, we went on into the cloisters.

As we got about half way in, Mr. Wake put his hand on my arm, drew me
to a standstill, and Viola followed suit.

“Look above the door,” said Mr. Wake, and we did, to see a pretty
picture of Joseph, and Mary, and a little boy, who was the small
Christ. . . . I liked it very much because it was simple, and it made
you feel _near_ it. Joseph was leaning on a sack of grain, and Mr.
Wake said, when he spoke, that it was called “The Madonna of the Sack”
because of that.

“But,” he said, “the great story lies behind the pretty face of the
model; for Mary, up there, was Andrea’s ambitious, money-loving
wife. . . . She crept into all his pictures, for she was his model, and
she made him work like mad to paint them, for she was always wanting
the things that do not count, and the things that do not live; and the
money for his pictures could buy these things for her. . . . And while
he worked, she played and wore the fine garments that the silk-makers
guild wove for her. . . . There are millions of her, aren’t there? Poor
blind, foolish women!” he ended.

“But,” said Viola, “don’t men like to have women interested in their
work? I’m sure that my own dear Father is _stimulated_ by _my_ need for
pretty things.”

“Surely,” agreed Mr. Wake, “but to be pushed beyond strength and to be
whined at continually is quite a different thing. . . . In this case
it proved to be the killing of the golden goose, for Andrea del Sarto
did not live to a great age--he died at forty-five--and his wife lived
on alone without her beauty and the love of Andrea, and lived long
beyond him. . . . It is said that one day, many years after Andrea
died, an artist who was copying that moon shaped picture up there was
startled by a touch on his shoulder, and he looked up to see an old,
browned, shriveled hag, who smiled down at him a little bitterly. ‘I
see,’ she said, ‘that you are copying the picture of me that my husband
painted?--’ Then perhaps,” Mr. Wake added, “she went in and sent a
little prayer up through the dim ceiling for all of her sisters--gone
and to come--who think more of money and things than they do of love or
the comfort of their beloved.”

We went in again after that, but I wasn’t much interested in the rest
of the church, and it was so cold inside and out of the sun that I was
glad when we stepped outside again and made our way toward the Piazza
Vittorio Emanuele where there was to be a concert given by one of the
military bands. There was a cluster of gaily uniformed band men in
its center, and hundreds and hundreds of people around them, and at
the edges of the square people sitting at the tables of the open air,
outdoor cafés, drinking and eating whatever they had ordered. It was
very _different_ from anything I’d ever seen, and so full of brightness
and color and a deep, thick sense of enjoyment that I don’t know how to
describe it. But people seemed keyed up by the music, and when the band
master would stand up before his men and wave his baton, every one grew
tense, and when the music started they listened _hard_.

“Suppose,” said Mr. Wake, after we had pushed by two of the
Bersaglieri, (who are the sharp-shooter soldiers that have cock
feathers drooping from one side of their always tilted, theatrical
looking hats) “we go sit down, and see whether--if we look very
wistful--some waiter won’t come along, and take an order--”

“_Delightful_,” said Viola, who had been getting more and more airy as
she was more and more impressed with Mr. Wake.

“I’d like it,” I said, “I’m always hungry, but how about your stomach?”

“My _dear_!” Viola put in, in a shocked aside, but I paid no attention
because it was no time to quibble. Mr. Wake was taking me out
_primarily for his stomach_, and because he wanted to _reduce it_, and
I didn’t think it would be fair to sit and eat and tempt him.

After Viola said “My _dear_!” Mr. Wake laughed, and patted my shoulder.

“Always beginning to reduce _next week_,” he said; “like _Alice in
Wonderland_, ‘jam to-morrow and jam yesterday, but _never jam to-day_!’
And don’t you think a little fat softens age? Suits my type?--There’s
a table ahead of us, grab it, Jane, before the gentleman with the many
whiskers sits down and pretends he is a piece of sage brush--”

He did look like sage brush, but the wind blew me to the table Mr. Wake
wanted before it landed the rough, hairy looking person there, and
Viola and Mr. Wake followed and settled. And then I had my first taste
of outdoor eating, which is very foreign, and which I like _so_ much!

Viola and I had strong, bitter chocolate with whipped cream on it and
French pastries and little cakes with nuts in them, and Mr. Wake had
wine and crackers. And just as our waiter brought the order to us, the
band struck up “Pizzicato Sylvia” and unless you have heard an Italian
band play something shortly and sharply, with a snapping, staccato
touch, you have yet to hear _music_--real _music_--

Oh, how I came to love those concerts that were scheduled twice a week,
all winter long, in one or another of the public squares!

I couldn’t eat, I could just _listen_. And Mr. Wake smiled at me, and
once he put his hand over mine, and I turned my hand until my fingers
could squeeze his. And then I drew a deep breath and shook my head
because the music made me feel that way. And then the band stopped, and
every one was very quiet for a second, and then they clapped and after
that laughter and talk rose with a perfect whir.

“Wasn’t that _fine_?” I said, as Viola said, “_Enchanting_,” and some
one who had been standing back of me for some moments, leaned down and
said softly, “How do you do, to-day, little Miss Jones?”

It was my Sam Deane!

I was startled, but awfully glad to see him, although the idea of
thanking him for those violets before every one made me feel cold and
frightened and stiff.

“Miss Harris-Clarke, this is Mr. Sam Deane,” said Mr. Wake, “whom I am
proud to present to you--”

“Delightful,” Viola murmured in her smooth way, and then Sam bowed and
drew up a chair.

“Will the bottomless pit have something to eat?” asked Mr. Wake. And
Sam Deane grinned at him, and then he said he might _consider_ it.

“What did you draw?” he asked of me, and I told him, and he ordered
what I had had.

“I want to write you a little note,” I said.

“By jings, I _want_ you to,” he answered, and he looked at me and
smiled in a very kind way. I don’t believe there is a nicer man than
Sam Deane! I liked him right off, and I’ve never stopped once since.

“No one ever sent me any before,” I said in an aside, which was easy,
because Mr. Wake had begun to talk to Viola about the Uffizi Gallery
and the Belli Arti, which is another gallery.

“What was the matter with the boys?” Sam asked.

“My sister,” I said, “is _really_ attractive, and _she_ always gets
them. I like them _very_ much, and I was so _excited_ I could hardly
get the box open. And I’d just heard that the twins were sick too, and
the violets helped me a _lot_.”

He didn’t answer, but he sat looking down at me and smiling, and I felt
as if he would understand my clumsy thanking him. “I thank you _ever_
so much!” I ended.

He shook his head, “Nothing,” he answered, “it was absolutely nothing.
I wanted to buy the Pitti Palace and the Boboli gardens and give them
to you, and throw in the Piazzale Michael Angelo for good measure. . . .
Are you--are you going to let me be your good friend?”

“If you really _want_ to be,” I responded, and I meant it.

“I want it more than anything,” he said, in an undertone, and then we
were quiet.

“How are you?” I asked, after the silence had begun to seem strained.

“Never have been better,” he answered. “Did you know Mr. Wake got me a
sale for my boy picture straight off? He brought another agent in to
see it and he took it. We broke the contract with my old agent. Mr.
Wake said I could with safety. I don’t know what to say to you. . . .
Think of what you’ve _done_ for me.”

“Oh, no,” I disagreed.

“Oh, _yes_!” he stated. Then the band began to play “the Blue
Danube” and when I heard it I thought I had never heard waltz time
before. . . . It rose and fell in the softest waves, with the first
beat accented, until one felt as if one _must_ sway with it.

It was a moment that I shall never forget. I don’t know quite why it
was so vivid. . . . But the great hushed crowd which was pierced by
blue uniforms, and the three-cornered hats of the carabinieri, and the
look on the dark-skinned faces and in the deep brown eyes, and the sun
that slanted across all this to cover an old stone building with gold,
and the people around the little tables, and Viola talking with Mr.
Wake, and Sam Deane, looking at me in a kind way, struck into my heart
to make a picture that will always be remembered.

When the music stopped, I said, “I don’t know why I am so happy

And Sam Deane said he was too, but he did know why, which of course was
natural, for he had been close to starving and worried over work, and
all his skies were cleared.

“I can’t tell you,” I said, “how glad I am that everything is all right
for _you_.”

He didn’t answer immediately, and he really didn’t answer at all. He
said, “Please keep _on_ feeling that way,” and I promised I would, and
then we stood up, and made our way through the crowd to stand at the
edge of it, and listen to a few more numbers before we went home.

And on the way--we loitered a little, for we were on the sunny side
of the street, and that makes loitering easy--Mr. Wake told us about
how Mr. Robert Browning had picked up a little yellow book, in one of
the stalls outside of San Lorenzo--which was a church we passed--and
how this book made him write “The Ring and the Book.” Viola said that
she knew it almost word for word, but when Mr. Wake asked her how it
started she couldn’t seem to remember.

“If I recall,” said Mr. Wake--and it was almost the last information he
imparted, and after that we began to have a _fine_ time--“if I recall
correctly it started out with a very careless sounding few words; they
are, I think, ‘Do you see this ring?’ And then, in the next paragraph,
‘Do you see this little yellow book I hold in my hand?’ . . . And the
poem has lived! The artificial fades and drops away; the real and
simple _roots_.” (He looked at Viola then; I don’t know why) “There is
another poem,” he went on, “that starts in somewhat the same manner and
Jane will know it. That one begins with, ‘Oh, say, can you see by the
dawn’s early light,’ both of them intimately in the vernacular--”

I didn’t know what “vernacular” meant, but I didn’t have to admit it,
because Viola put in one of her low-breathed, “_Fas_cinatings,” and
after that Mr. Wake was quiet until we reached the twisting stairs that
led to the Pension Dante, when he and Sam Deane said good-by to us.



After that first real walk and our outdoor tea, Viola, Mr. Wake, Sam
Deane and I took a great many walks--always two a week--and I came to
enjoy seeing the things I should see, and hearing about people whom I
had considered of little importance because they were so dead. But Mr.
Wake woke everything up, and shook the dust from all the old stories
and made them live.

For instance, when we passed Dante’s house he would say, “No use of
stopping; Dante is over at the Pitti Palace talking to Cosimo de Medici
this morning, and I see Gemma” (she was Dante’s wife) “is busy in the
back yard hanging up the wash,” and then we’d all pretend we saw her,
and walk on deciding as we walked, that it would be kinder to slip our
cards under the door without ringing, and that we hadn’t wanted to find
them in, anyway. Mr. Wake made everything modern and _natural_, just
like that!

He took us to the Pitti Palace, which, in 1440, Luca Pitti commissioned
Brunelleschi to build for him. It was to be a palace more magnificent
than the Riccardi Palace which belonged to the Medici; and the
citizens and Florentine corporations were so much interested that they
aided him. It was so fine that it took years to build, which Mr. Wake
proved when he said that in 1549 it was sold, without its roof, to
Eleanor of Toledo, who was the wife of Cosimo.

From the Pitti Palace we went to the Uffizi Gallery; through a little
narrow passage that runs from the Pitti across the upper story of the
Ponte Vecchio--the old bridge--along the Arno for a block, and then
turns into the great Uffizi that was built by Vasari in 1560 to ’74
for the municipal government, and by the order of Cosimo I because
he wanted to use the Palazzo Vecchio, which was then the municipal
building, for his own home.

Mr. Wake said that a good many people try to look up the history of the
Uffizi family, but he advised me not to try, and when I asked why not
he told me that “Uffizi” means offices.

All this information was given in a way that made it seem quite
palatable, and not at all like the information that one usually gets.
I enjoyed even the history of the erecting of those great, strong
buildings, and when it came to the families, I loved it. It was truly
interesting to hear of the wars of the blacks and the whites, who
were the opposed and warring factions in Florence of the Middle Ages,
and Mr. Wake told of how they planned their conquests in hidden
ways or under the cover of black night; and of how the Medici power
was overthrown; of a priest who was made so deep a sympathizer of
the oppressed that he tried to stab Cosimo de Medici while he was at
Mass, then of how Cosimo escaped this, and finally died in one of his
peaceful country palaces which stands to-day just as it did then.

In the Uffizi, Mr. Wake asked me what I would look at if I were alone,
and I said the pictures of wars and animals, and Sam took me around
hunting these, while Viola stuck to Mr. Wake and admired the things
that every one should admire.

One sunny day, we went to the Piazzale Michelangelo, which is a great,
cleared space on the top of a hill on the south side of the Arno,
riding up in a _tram_ and walking slowly down a cypress shaded path
upon which, at intervals, were the stations of the cross. At another
time we walked out to see Andrea Del Sarto’s last supper, which is in a
tiny church way out in the outskirts of Florence, and is not often seen
by the hurried kind of tourist who uses a guide.

Then we saw where well-known people had lived--Thomas Hardy, (and he
had had rooms right up near us) and so had George Eliot and Walter
Savage Landor and the Brownings and dozens of others I have forgotten.

And of course we saw a little house where Boccaccio was supposed to
have lived, and the place in front of Santa Maria Novella (a church)
where he, Boccaccio, met seven lovely ladies, one morning in 1348, just
after Mass, when the city lay stricken under the horror of the plague.
Mr. Wake pointed Boccaccio out to us as we were coming home past the
church, one bleak November afternoon, after a walk that had taken us to
the churches on the South Side of the Arno.

“There,” he said, “in claret colored doublet and hose is my friend
Boccaccio! He swings a silken purse that has in it many ducats, and he
tries with nonchalance to hide the horror and fear that lurk within his
heart. . . . A serving man whines behind him. ‘Master, master, we had
best be going. . . . Two more have fallen in the way not a disc’s throw
from your excellency, and the streets are filled with death!’. . . But
now--_now!_--Who are these, seven of them, coming out from Mass! Lovely
ladies who greet Boccaccio as a friend, and whose eyes lose their look
of fright for the fleeting second when first Boccaccio comes into
vision and to mind--”

And then Mr. Wake--in his _seeing_ way told us how that group and two
more youths planned to go up to Boccaccio’s villa which some think was
close to Fiesole--the town that Florence warred upon so often--the
proud, small town that frowned and sneered on Florence from her high
seat upon the hill. And Mr. Wake said that the next day--early--when
the dew was on the grass and the sun yet gentle, Boccaccio’s party
started off, and made their trip in a short two hours; found the villa
more charming than their modest host had promised and that there they

And to fill time they told stories, which are, after all this time,
being read. But Mr. Wake said--when _I_ said that I’d like to read
them, that the stories would be the kind of stories that would be told
by people who evaded duty, and kited off by themselves to look out
_for_ themselves. And he said they were not exactly the reading he
would recommend for _me_.

Viola had read them and so had Leslie. Both of those girls often made
me feel very ignorant, but Sam said he liked me as I was, and that
helped a great deal.

Leslie went with us only a few times, although I always asked her.
But her quarrel with Viola was as intense as it had been the day when
it started--although they did speak to each other, very coldly--and
I think that kept Leslie from going, as well as the fact that she
was irritated into disliking Mr. Wake by Viola’s and my enthusiasm
over him just at that time. She was nervous and edgy and unhappy,
and disappointed from the toppling of her friendship with Mr. Ben
Forbes. The Florence winter months, which are filled with fog and
a damp, increeping cold, left her physically uncomfortable too, and
she had no real companion and the hard application to work was new to
her; altogether now that I look back, I pity her. But all that came
to Leslie did help her; I know that, and so I suppose that I am only
wasting pity.

The second time we went walking, Leslie went with us, and she was very
cool and crisp in her greeting to Mr. Wake, and she disagreed with him
about his opinion of the Fra Angelico frescoes in a Monastery called
San Marco, in a sharp way that wasn’t at all nice.

After we got back from our walk and were settled at dinner, Viola, with
a circumspect look at Leslie, said something about Mr. Wake’s books,
and I saw Leslie look up at her suddenly and piercingly. And before
I went to bed she called me over to her room. She had on a layer of
mud--it was some kind of Russian stuff that she put on to cleanse the
pores--and it made her look like a mummy. I _had_ to giggle.

“What is the cause of your mirth?” she asked coldly as she stopped
brushing her hair.

“Well,” I answered, “you look kind of funny.”

She elevated her chin, and I think she gave me that cool stare with
which she even occasionally subdues Miss Meek, but of course it
couldn’t get through her mud-pie finish.

“I want to know,” she said after a second of comparative silence,
during which she had slammed her little jars around on her bureau,
and brushed her hair so hard that I thought she’d brush it all out,
“whether it is true that Mr. Wake is a writer?”

“Why, yes,” I answered, “‘Beautiful Tuscany,’ ‘Hill Roads,’ ‘Old Roman
Byways’ and lots more were written by him.”

It seemed to irritate her. “It would _seem_ to me,” she confided, “that
you would naturally _mention_ it!”

I didn’t see why, but I didn’t say so. I just picked up a button hook
and wiggled it around in my hands, the way you do when you have nothing
to do but feel uncomfortable.

“You lack finish, and are as gauche as any one I _ever_ knew,” she went
on. I didn’t know just what she meant by that, but I knew I didn’t like

“Don’t you know that when you introduce people,” she questioned, “you
should give some idea of the--the standing of each person so that--that
they may know whom they shall be _nice_ to?”

I shook my head.

“Well, you _do_,” she snapped, “and if you have any more people to
present to me, I want to _know_ about them. . . . I positively snapped
at this Mr. Wake--I am fearfully humiliated over it!--and just a
_word_ from you would have saved me.” (She slammed a bureau drawer
shut until everything on the bureau top rattled), “I didn’t imagine he
_could_ be anybody, because Viola Harris-Clarke raved so--”

“He was my friend in any case,” I said, because I was getting mad, “and
if you’d remembered that and been kind, you’d have spared both of us. I
was ashamed of you--Mr. Wake was being kind to us, and you were rude to
him without any reason for being so.”

“_You_ ashamed of me?” she echoed, and wheeled on me, to stand looking
at me in a dreadful way.

“Yes,” I said, “I _was_,” and I said it hard.

She drew a deep breath, and was about to start in when I decided
I would go. I only heard her say, “You come from the backwoods of
Pennsylvania, and so you cannot understand the--_the infamy of your
statement_, but in New York _I_--my _family_--”

And into this I broke in with something that was horrible to say, I
know it, but it was a satisfaction. I said, “Good-night old mud-hen,”
and then shut the door. But before I had my own opened, she had jerked
through hers, to stand in the corridor and wave her brush at me,
“Never,” she called loudly, “_Never call me ‘Mud-hen’ again!_”

“I will if I want to,” I said. “You may count in New York, but I come
from Pennsylvania.” And then I went in my room and felt ashamed.

For two days after that Leslie cut me out of her talking list, too, and
the only words I had from her were icicle-hung requests to pass things.
On the third, I went into the practice room that was farthest down the
hall--my afternoon hours followed hers that day--and I found her with
her head in her arms, crying.

I felt very sorry for her, and I put my hand on her shoulder, and I
said, “Leslie,” quite softly, and she turned away from me for a moment,
and then turned to me and clung to my arm. I patted her and smoothed
her hair, and I think I made her feel a little better.

Anyway, she stopped crying, and wiped her eyes, and asked me to go to
Doney’s with her for tea. But I said I wouldn’t do that.

“Why not?” she asked in her old, cool, lofty manner and she raised
her brows in a way that confessed she was surprised over my daring to
refuse her invitation.

“Because,” I answered, “you took Viola, and now you’re mad at her, and
you’re telling every one how _often_ you took her out, and how _much_
you did for her.”

She grew red. I think she didn’t like it, but I had to say it.

“I’ll take a walk,” I said. She didn’t answer that, but, head high,
collected her music and flounced off. After I had practised about an
hour I heard a noise at the doorway, and I looked up to see Leslie
standing in it.

“You were quite right,” she stated, in the stiffest voice I had ever
heard, and she looked right over my head. “I know it. I will be glad to
walk with you if you like--”

“All right,” I answered, after a look at the little wrist watch father
had given to me, before I left, “I’ll be ready in fifteen minutes;
fourteen and a half more here, and a half to get into my things--”

And I think that day started our real friendship.



By Christmas time I was so well acquainted with both Leslie and Viola,
that when, a week before Christmas, Viola called me in her room and
told me what she was writing, I told her that I thought she was foolish.

“Why?” she asked, as she looked at the envelope that was addressed to
her father.

“Doesn’t he send you all the money he can?” I questioned in turn.

“Probably,” (she jabbed holes in the blotter with her pen) “but I need
more. You see early in the game--when _Miss_ Parrish _deigned_ to
notice me, I borrowed money of her, she was always pressing it upon
me--one of her _sweet_ ways of impressing people with her _wealth
importance_--” (I didn’t say anything, but I thought Viola was mean)
“and I need to repay that, and then--my clothes are in _rags_,” (which
was nonsense, for they weren’t) “and I always do ask father for extra
money at Christmas time,” she continued, “because he softens then--or
is in so deep that he thinks a little more won’t matter--anyway, since
I always do ask him, there’s no reason for you to be so shocked--”

“He’s your father,” I stated, “but I’ll tell _you_, I’d hate to send
_my_ father a letter like that to get around Christmas time!”

Viola shrugged her shoulders. Then she grew haughty. “As you say,” she
said, “he _is_ my father, and it is _my_ affair--”

“You asked me about it,” I put in sharply, “I was going by, and you
called me in and said you were writing your father for money, and asked
me what I thought would come of it--”

“I meant how _much_ would come of it.”


“He’s quite used to it, Jane,” she went on, and almost apologetically,
“Mother has to ask him for extra money _all the time_. . . . We simply
_struggle_, and _pinch_ at every point, but even then we can’t put
up half the appearance that we should, and we never have what _every
one_ around us has--and takes for granted. Did you hear Miss Meek say
‘I’ll wager it’s jolly slummish around the jail!’ yesterday when I was
describing our breakfast room? _Horrid old thing!_”

I didn’t say so, but Viola had made Miss Meek hazard this opinion
about Ossining because she, Viola, had put on so many unnecessary and
silly airs about her home. Miss Meek added, after her first remark,
that of course she knew nothing whatsoever about it, since she
never had visited such low places. The moment that followed had been
strained--and funny!

“It does seem,” Viola went on, after she had wiped her pen on her
stocking, and then said something vigorous because she had forgotten
that she wore a brown pair, “it does _seem_ as if Father might _try_
to do better. It makes it very hard for a girl of my type. . . . It
doesn’t agree with me to accommodate to poverty, or to pinch and scrape
as I have to _all the time_!”

That was nonsense, but I didn’t say so, because with Leslie and Viola
my opinion about money and things didn’t count.

So I only stood there a minute, feeling a little sorry for Viola and
very sorry for her father, and wondering why people felt so about that
which Viola called “Appearance,” and then I decided I’d go to my room
and finish a letter I’d started to Mother, who would, Miss Sheila had
stated, write me herself, very soon.

“Where are you going?” asked Viola after I had said I must hurry on.

“My room,” I answered, as I turned the door knob.

“How’d your lesson go?”

“Pretty well.”

“If _Miss_ Parrish doesn’t join you, I will later.”

“All right,” I responded, “but I won’t have a fire--”

“I should think you’d _die_ without one,” said Viola, pityingly.

“I get along all right,” I answered, shortly, because it seemed to
me that Viola had better get along without a fire herself--a scuttle
of coal cost about thirty cents, and the kindling that started it,
ten--instead of shivering for me, _while_ she badgered her father for
money that she confessed wouldn’t be easy for him to spare.

“Don’t be angry,” she called after me.

“I’m not angry,” I replied.

“Well, you acted it. . . . Funny holiday, isn’t it? Just sitting in our
rooms. No parties or anything--”

“We could have one if you and Leslie wouldn’t hitch at it, and spoil
everything,” I responded. “We could get a nice one up--”

“Well, I’m willing to fly the white flag that evening,” she stated with
an indifference I felt that she put on.

But that made the party possible, for I saw how it might be managed and
I hurried right on to Leslie’s room to find her lying down on her bed
and staring up at a sky blue ceiling that had gilt stars painted on it.

“Look here,” I said, as I shut the door after myself, “I think we ought
to have a party, a Christmas party, but we can’t unless you and Viola
stop scrapping for the evening. She said she would; will you?”

Leslie sat up and drew her padded silk dressing gown around her, and
then answered. “I am sure,” she said, “that I would act as I _always_
do. One’s personal feelings dare not be aired; I _assure_ you I
_invariably_ exercise restraint--”

“All right,” I answered and then I sat down on the edge of her bed, and
we planned it.

“Mr. Wake and Sam will come,” I said, after we had decided to buy those
cracker things that pop and have paper caps in them, and Leslie had
said she would donate some pastries and some French chocolates.

“Mr. Wake would be fearfully bored,” she objected.

“I don’t believe it,” I disagreed.

“But with Miss Meek and Miss Bannister and Mr. Hemmingway? For of
course if we have it here we’ll have to ask the old things!”

“Probably it’ll be the first party they’ve been to in years,” I stated,
and I saw that Leslie felt a little mean.

“Well, I’d tell him that the whole institution will be on board,” she
advised, and I said I would.

“Beata would serve,” said Leslie, who seemed to have a lot of head
about planning the refreshments and how they should be brought on.

“And she’d like it,” I commented, “probably it’ll help her out.”

“What’s the matter with her, any way?” Leslie asked, and I’d told
Leslie about forty times, but I told her once again.

“How much does she need?” she asked, as she lay back and again looked
up at the ceiling.

“I think about seventy-five dollars,” I answered. Leslie laughed in a
queer, unhappy way.

“Fancy it’s being as simple as that!” she murmured in an undertone.

“Not particularly simple, if she can’t get it,” I disagreed. “And poor
Beata doesn’t believe she’ll ever be able to save it, and she loved him
so. His name is Pietro La Nasa, and he _is_ good looking. . . . I’ve
seen him standing in the court--he knows Gino, who owns the brass shop
down there--and he looks up so _longingly_--and you know how much Beata

“Yes, I know--”

Suddenly Leslie turned and clasped my hand between both of hers. “Look
here, Jane,” she said, and with the prettiest look I had ever seen on
her pretty face, “we’ll try to make this a real party. . . . My father
sent me a little extra money--I had a dividend from something or other
that has done well--and I’d _love_ to spend it this way. . . . As you
say, the crowd here probably haven’t had a good time for years--”

“And may not again for years--if ever--” I put in. Leslie nodded.

“We’ll _do_ it,” she said, with lots of energy in her voice. “And you
can ask Viola to help with the decorating and so on. . . . Understand,
_I want nothing to do with her after it is over_. . . . I shall never
forget the things she said to me about my Grandfather who had a
_little_ interest in a factory where they put up chow chow (he made his
_fortune in railroads_) and about my having an inflated idea of my own
importance. I have _not_, but I assure you, Jane, the Harris-Clarkes
are _nobodies_--”

Well, I’d heard that all about a thousand times before, and I had
got so that I was honestly bored--and for the first time in my
life--whenever Viola started on the Parrishes, or Leslie about the

“I can’t give any presents,” I broke in.

“I’ll loan you any amount, dear,” said Leslie, quickly.

“No, you won’t!” I answered. “I won’t give presents because I
_shouldn’t_, but we can have an awfully good time, presents or not!”

“And will!” she promised, quickly, and then she crawled out and put
a kettle of water over her spirit lamp and began to make tea, and I
had three cups and four crackers and two slices of nut cake and some
kisses. Then, feeling a little refreshed, I went back to my own room,
on the way stopping at Viola’s. “It’s all right,” I said, from the
doorway, “she’ll pretend, if you will--”

“I’m honestly _glad_,” said Viola.

Before I started on, I saw her lick the flap of the envelope that was
to take her complaining letter across the sea to her father--I had a
queer, sad feeling as she did it, and then I said a short “By,” and
went on to my own room.



Two days later at about five in the afternoon, Leslie looked around the
living room which was growing dark, as she said, “I think we’ve done

Viola was tying some red tissue paper around the funny little tree that
Leslie, with great effort, had got from a florist, and after she stood
erect and stretched, she responded to Leslie with a murmured, “Simply

“Don’t _you_ think so, Jane?” asked Leslie coolly. She had ignored
Viola all that afternoon by addressing me, and after she did this
pointedly, Viola always huffed up, and appealed to me, too. It made me
feel as if I were interpreter in the tower of Babel, and it left me far
from comfortable! And it was all _so_ silly!

“I certainly do,” I answered as I looked around, and it was fine!

Mr. Wake, who had accepted our invitation with great pleasure, had sent
in flowers and big branches of foliage from his place, and these were
in vases, and massed in corners; and Sam, who had just left, had helped
us make twisted red streamers that he had wound around the funny
chandelier, and we had put red paper around all the lumpy vases that
Miss Julianna seemed to like so much; and the bare little tree was on
the center table, with a ring of candles, set up in their own grease
around it. It doesn’t sound especially pretty, but it was, as well as
very cheering.

Over the back of a chair hung a long red gown that Leslie was going
to wear as she gave out a few little presents. Her giving them was
entirely correct, because the Italian Santa Claus is a lady called
“Befana,” and the only way we changed things was by having the Befana
come on Christmas Eve instead of on Epiphany.

On the mantel were some pink tarletan stockings filled with
candy--there was no fastening them up, the mantel was made of
marble--and Leslie had got a little piece of mistletoe which Sam had
hung in the doorway.

“Really, it has the feeling of Christmas,” said Leslie, as she picked
up the gown, which I had made on her with safety pins.

“_Hasn’t_ it?” murmured Viola, who, in spite of saying the most bitter
things, did want to make up.

“When it’s lit by candles it will be pretty,” I prophesied, and it was.
Then we picked up the hammers and the nails that always lie around on
the edges of things after you’ve put up Christmas decorations, and went
to dress, closing the door very carefully after us, and locking it.

Beata, who was tremendously interested in the new version of their
Befana, and who had asked a great deal--through Miss Julianna--about
the person she called “Meester Sant’ Claus,” smiled at us as we passed
the kitchen, and I saw that she hadn’t cried that day, and that she
wore her best dress, and a shabby, yet gay artificial flower in one
side of her dark hair.

“Sant’ Claus come!” she managed, while we were yet within hearing;
Leslie called “Not yet--” and then we went on, and parted.

In my room, before I lit the light, I will confess that I had a little
moment of sadness, during which home seemed far away and I wished I
had as much money to spend as Leslie had. . . . I had wanted to give
Miss Meek and Miss Bannister and Mr. Hemmingway very nice presents,
because they needed them, but of course I couldn’t give them much. I
had found for Miss Bannister a leather picture frame in a shop that was
opposite the Pitti Palace--she had said she meant to get a frame for a
picture she had of her old home, but that she always forgot it while
out, (she is really very poor) and I had got for Miss Meek, who is very
gay, a gray comb that had brilliants in it--it was only fifty cents;
I got it in a stall outside of a church called Santa Croce--and I had
got Mr. Hemmingway a book from a little shop back of the Duomo that
had “My memories” written on it in gilt--I mean on the book, not the
Duomo, of course--for I thought he would enjoy writing down some of the
happenings that occurred at the times he never could remember.

Then I had two lovely colored linen handkerchiefs which had been given
me before I sailed, and fortunately, I had only carried them and
never put them into active use, and I did these up for Beata and Miss

I didn’t give anything to the others, and I wished I could. I had that
feeling that leads even restrained people to rush out on Christmas
Eve and buy a great deal that they can’t afford, but after I reasoned
it through I knew that I shouldn’t, because I wanted to pay back Miss
Sheila--I had decided that I preferred to do this--and I wanted to
return what I could, as soon as I could, to my own family, who had
sacrificed a great deal for me. Then my allowance wasn’t large--Leslie
told me she considered it about adequate for a week’s allowance of
French pastries and digestion tablets--and so I wrote the rest of my
friends notes. I used my best stationery that hasn’t any blue lines on
it, but instead a silver “J” in the corner, and after I had written:


    “I do hope that you will be very happy this Christmas and

                “Your friend,
                    “JANE JONES.”

I snipped a paragraph from Miss Sheila’s last letter, for he seemed to
like hearing about her, and talking of her, and the paragraph was about

    “I am sure,” she had written, “that the Mr. Wake of whom you
    write so often, must be a real addition to your Florentine
    life. I did, very much, like his story of the wedding of
    Lorenzo, The Magnificent.”

(He was one of the Medici)

    “I saw it, dear, as you said he made you see it. . . . And
    wouldn’t Florence be a nice city to be married in? I think if I
    had all my life to do over, I would go to a Padre in Florence,
    with some unlucky man, and pay a lot of scheming little
    wretches to throw roses before me as I left the church. . . .
    You see what a romantic mood has attacked your old friend? I
    think I _must_ need a tonic! Please write me the titles of your
    Mr. Wake’s books; I am ashamed to say that I haven’t read them,
    but I want to, and I shall--”

It did please him, I saw him read it three times that very evening;
twice while Mr. Hemmingway was trying to remember the first time that
he had ever seen a plum pudding brought in, on the center of a blazing
platter; and the third time, while Viola was describing the last
Christmas and dragging in through it a long description of a lodge in
the Adirondacks.

But to get on, or rather go back and start where I should, Miss
Julianna had a very fine dinner because of our party, and she sat
down with us, which wasn’t always her custom--she often helped in the
kitchen--and Mr. Hemmingway had raked up some greenish black dress
clothes from somewhere, and Miss Bannister had her hair on as nearly
straight as I had ever seen it, and Miss Meek wore a purple velvet
dress with green buttons and a piece of old lace on it, which I had
never before seen, but which she had spoken of in a way that made me
know that she thought it very fine.

Of course Leslie was beautiful--she had on a new dress made of several
shades of light blue chiffon, and this fluttered and changed as she
walked--and there was a silver ribbon girdle on it, and silver ribbons
knotted here and there over the shining white satin lining, and she
wore silver slippers, and blue stockings with silver lace inserts, and
she had a silver bandeau on her hair. I told her she was lovely.

Viola had pulled out all her extra eyebrows and looked sort of skinned,
but she felt fixed up, so it was all right. She wore a red velvet dress
that was pretty too. I wore a brown silk dress that had plaid trimming,
and it put me in Miss Meek’s class, but I didn’t mind.

After we sat down, and made conversation in that stiff way that people
do when they are all wearing their best clothes and aren’t quite used
to them, Mr. Hemmingway stood up and picked up the smaller wine glass
that stood by his plate--we had two sorts of wine--and he looked at me,
bowed, and said, “To the United States and her lovely daughters--”

I thought it was _very_ kind.

Then Miss Bannister blinked, and nodded, and squeaked out, “To the
people we love who aren’t here--”

And I wasn’t a bit ashamed of the fact that my eyes filled with tears
and that I had to blink and swallow like the dickens, because every one
else was doing the same thing.

After we drank that Mr. Hemmingway said, “It was, if I recall
correctly, the Christmas of ’76 that I first met the customs of Italy
at Christmas and Epiphany; I can, I _think_, without undue assumption
of certainty state _flatly_ that it _was_ in ’76, and I assert
this, because in the fall of ’76 I was experiencing my first attack
of _bronchitis_; and I recall this, because the June of that same
year, ’76, as I have heretofore mentioned, I had taken a trip up the
Severn--or was that, now that I probe, ’74? _Let me see, let me see_--”

And then Miss Meek boomed out her “Ho hum!” and every one felt more
natural and lots better. After that the stiffness slid away--all
in a second--and Miss Meek tossed her head and told about the fine
Christmases she had seen, and Miss Bannister told of how the children
in the village where she had lived sung carols, and Mr. Hemmingway
searched after dates that wouldn’t come to him; and Viola and Leslie
listened with more kindness than usual.

After we had had the lumpy, heavy sort of pudding that people always
serve around Christmas, we sat back and talked some more while we
waited for Mr. Wake and Sam to come. And at last the bell in the
hall swung to and fro, and then there _was_ excitement. Beata, who
courtesied very low, let them in, and they called out their greetings
and wishes to every one, even before I had presented them.

Mr. Wake had a big bag under his arm that was pleasantly lumpy, and he
said that Santa Claus had dropped it on the hillside near Fiesole and
told him to deliver it. Then we all stood up, and after Leslie had lit
the many candles in the drawing room, she rung a bell, and we filed in.

She summoned Mr. Wake first, and I was glad she did, because going
up to the table where she stood might have been hard for some of the
others. And after Mr. Wake took his present, he gave a little boarding
school bow--that dip at the knees that makes girls shorter than they
are for the second in which they do it--and every one followed his
lead. We did have the best time! But, and I suppose it sounds strange,
it got in your throat and made it feel cramped. I can’t explain why,
but when Miss Bannister and Miss Meek couldn’t, at first, open their
packages because their hands shook so, it did make you feel _queer_.

Miss Bannister didn’t say anything--she only looked at her presents
while her lips moved--but Miss Meek kept up an incessant string of,
“Oh, I say!” or “How _too_ ripping, don’t you know!” in a voice that
was not entirely steady. And both of them had very bright, little,
round spots of color on their usually faded cheeks, and their eyes were
very, very bright.

Mr. Hemmingway was so absorbed in a Dunhill pipe that Mr. Wake insisted
Santa had sent, that he didn’t mention a date for fully a half hour. He
only looked at that pipe, and murmured, “My, _my_! Never did think I’d
_own_ one. My, my, _my_!”

And there were papers and cords all over the floor, and it looked and
felt _quite_ Christmasy.

It was after Mr. Hemmingway got his pipe that I went over to stand
by Sam at a window; he had been watching me a little, and I thought
perhaps he was lonely for home, or something, because he looked that

“I think it’s a fine party,” I said, “Don’t you?”

“Best ever,” he answered. Then he coughed, and fumbled around in his
pocket, and slipped a small box in my hand. “I’d like to say something
darned nice,” he murmured, “but all my parlor conversation seems to
have gone on a vacation--”

“Is it for _me_?” I asked. I was _surprised_, for I thought that the
violets he had given me only a little time before, were enough!

“Who the dickens _would_ I give it to?” he answered, in a half
irritated way. “Think I want to give anything to the other two? I
don’t! When I come to think of it, I never did want to buy any truck
for _any_ other girl before--”

I enjoyed that; every woman does enjoy that sort of thing. And when I
opened the box I almost went over backward; it held the most beautiful
bead bag I’d ever seen; it was really _prettier than any of Leslie’s_!
It had a brown and gold background, and soft pink roses on it, and it
swung from a gold cord, and had sliding gold rings on that. I knew he
shouldn’t have done it for, even to my simple soul, it spelled a lot of

I couldn’t say much, but I did say, “You shouldn’t have given it to me,

“Don’t you like it, dear?” he asked. I didn’t mind that “Dear” at all.
In fact I liked it. I had come to think of Sam as the best friend I’d
ever had.

“I _love_ it,” I answered, “but it must have cost a _great deal_--”

He laughed down at me. “Look here, young woman,” he said, in his
drawling slow way, “Some day I’m going to _ask_ you to take over the
management of my finances, but until I do, I want the privilege of
buying you a little thing like that once and again--”

What he said about finances worried me terribly, because I can’t add at
all, and my cash account gives me real pain, and I have almost nothing
to account for or to enter. But even at that, each month there is too
much or too little, which makes me have to add a cream puff, or take
one out.

“Sam,” I said, “I’d do _anything_ for you, because I like you _so_
much, but I can’t add. Why don’t you get Mr. Wake to help you! He’s
there anyway, you see, and in a year I’ll be over in America--”

He slipped his arm through mine, and squeezed it against his side.

“Mr. Wake is right about you,” he said, as he smiled down at me, in a
sort of a funny way.

“Why?” I asked.

“Well, he thinks you a dear little girl. . . . And you are--just that.”

“Don’t you like it?” I questioned, because it didn’t seem exactly as if
he did.

“Yes--surely--but, I don’t want you to get over liking me when you grow

“Why, Sam, I _couldn’t_!” I protested, and then I slipped my hand in
his, “Don’t you _know_ how much I like you?” I ended very earnestly
because I _did_ want him to understand, and I believe he did, although
Leslie called my name before he answered and I had to go up to get my

And after I did, I was absolutely unable to say anything, for every
one had been so _kind_ to me! Miss Bannister had given me one of the
pictures of her old home that she loved so much, and Miss Meek, a
collar that her own mother had embroidered, and Mr. Hemmingway, a pen
holder that he had gotten in Brazil either in ’64 or ’65--he _couldn’t_
remember which, although he tried very hard to fasten the exact date
in various ways--and Viola gave me a beautiful blue bottle with scent
in it, and Leslie gave me a blouse that I had seen in a shop on the
Lungarno and admired--it was tan pongee with heavy coral stitching, and
about the color of my hair--the tan, I mean, not the coral--and Miss
Julianna had given me a tomato can, that she had painted, with a flower
in it, and I liked it _very_ much; and Beata, a handkerchief that she
had made herself. Mr. Wake gave me a scarab ring, that swung around in
its setting, and had the name of the Princess who had first worn it in
hieroglyphs on the back, and when I went to thank him, he slipped it
on my finger, and made a wish. Then he said to Sam, who had come over
to stand with us, “Want to have a shot, old boy? You can twist it, and
perhaps the gods will listen--”

So Sam did, and he said it was a _fine_ wish! Then Beata brought in the
refreshments, which were pastries, wine, ices and candies and little
nut-filled cakes, (Leslie lost a filling while eating one) and we
pulled crackers and put on the caps and things that came out of them,
and read the mottoes and Mr. Hemmingway got so gay that he kissed Miss
Meek who had wandered over under the mistletoe. And it all made a great
deal of excitement and fun.

[Illustration: Mr. Hemmingway got so gay that he kissed Miss Meek.]

And after that--just when every one was beginning to have a cold
feeling around the edges, from thinking that it was all almost
over--the very nicest thing happened. Leslie, who had taken off her
long Befana gown, and again looked like a corn flower with silver frost
on it, called out, “One more gift; Befana has brought it to Beata, but
she was only the messenger of Cupid!”

And then she handed Beata an envelope in which was all the money that
Beata needed for her dowry!

I never shall forget that moment, and the way Beata looked when she
understood what her gift was. She covered her face with her arm and
sobbed deeply and so hard that it shook her; and Leslie, whose eyes had
grown wet, called Pietro--whom she had got Miss Julianna to ask in for
that hour--and he came from the hall, and Beata explained, and Pietro
kissed her hands, and then Leslie’s, and then raised both of his hands
high and his face to the ceiling, and _exploded_!

I never heard anything like it, and of course no one except Mr. Wake,
who speaks and understands Italian very well, could understand, but he
did, and he said that Pietro was thanking God for rich Americans, and
for the fact that the hope of his life had come true.

It made every one feel shaky and upset to look on at Beata and Pietro.
Even Miss Meek had to cough and say, “Oh, my eye! How jolly!” It was
very damp and very sweet, and it was a positive relief to be diverted
by Mr. Hemmingway, who broke the strain by saying: “How well I recall
my first experience with the Latin emotion. It was, if I recall
correctly, in the spring of ’60, and I attest this because of my youth,
and the fact that in ’59 I had my first pearl gray trousers. Those are
fastened in my memory by a tailor who, if I recall, had his place of
business in Ludgate Circus, and I remember him keenly, because--”

And on and on in his characteristic way.

Not long after that Sam and Mr. Wake left, and Miss Bannister and Miss
Meek and Mr. Hemmingway gathered up their things and the cords and
papers that had wrapped them, and I saw Mr. Hemmingway enter something
about the evening in the book I gave him, which pleased me, and we all
went to bed.

I lay awake quite awhile in the dark, the way you do after you’ve been
to a party and had a good time, and I think it was fully an hour before
I slept. Then, after what seemed ten minutes, I woke to see Leslie
standing by my bed, and to feel her hand on my shoulder, shaking me.

“Heavens, you sleep soundly,” she complained. “I have a toothache,
and _I can’t stand pain_. We’ll have to find some dentist who is in
his office, and I want you to go with me and stay right by me and say
‘Molto sensitivo’ every time I kick you. Oh, _do_ hurry! And _don’t_
forget to tell him that it’s sensitive.”

She clamped her hands against her jaw, as she finished speaking, and I
sat up to lean over the edge of my bed and fumble for my slippers.



It was hard to get down to real work after Christmas, for there was a
spirit of gaiety in the air that was too strong to be ignored. In the
streets was always the shrill noise that came from little tin horns;
children were always playing on the pavements with their new toys, and
you could hardly go a block without seeing a crowd around a vender
of something or other that was built to please small people. . . .
Monkeys that climb up frail, yellow sticks will always make me think of
Florence in holiday dress--I know it! And through them I’ll see again
the thick, taupe fogs that spread over the city so much of the time, to
muffle its bells, leave slime upon its pavements and a dull creeping
cold in all the shadows.

Or, I’ll see Florence at night and Harlequins and Juliets and Romeos,
or wide sombreroed Spaniards walking beside Egyptian Princesses, or
some girl in the costume of Normandy with a sweetheart in clanking
armor; for in Florence there are many masked balls after Christmas, and
at night one may see the people who go to these strolling along in
the best of good humors, and daring all sorts of things because of the
protection given them by their disguise.

Paper rose leaves were tossed in the air, every pretty girl was spoken
to, and there was lots of laughter, and the nicest sort of fun. . . .
I, myself, felt that grim Florence must be pleased, for the city of
Florence is built to back brilliant costumes, and not the tweeds and
serges that she sees most. I wondered, as I looked one night when I
was out with Mr. Wake and Sam, whether ghosts in satins and brocades,
the ghosts of brides who had ridden all over Florence on snow white
chargers before their weddings, whether these ghosts weren’t, perhaps,
mingling in the throng. . . . Mr. Wake thought they were, and after
I spoke of my feelings, he pointed out to me, a ghost named Vanna
Tornabuoni, who, because she had been wicked, saw in her mirror
instead of her fair face that of the horned devil! And she therefore
went to confession immediately--in Santa Maria Novella, if I’m not
mistaken--and began a new and a better life.

And all this was pleasing and most fascinating, but as I said, it
made work difficult even for me, and for Viola--who swayed with any
wind--work stopped. Even Signor Paggi’s most bitter scorn didn’t do
anything but make her weep.

“I’m sick of it anyway,” she confided to me just before New Year’s
day. “I wish now I’d listened to Father and never come--”

“Didn’t he want you to?” I asked.

“No--the old objection, money. But I was wild over being with Leslie
then, and I persuaded him. Now--” (She drew rings on her blotters;
I had dropped into her room to find her writing) “now, I wish I had
listened to him.”

I didn’t say anything; there wasn’t very much to say.

“About to-morrow,” she went on--I had come in to tell her that Mr. Wake
asked us to go with him to a monastery called Certosa, on the following
afternoon--“about to-morrow, I don’t know. But I don’t _believe_ I’ll
go this time. I saw a frock and a blouse in a shop on the Lungarno,
and I thought that, if I could make the woman listen to reason, I’d
take them both. She is asking about forty dollars in our money for the
frock, but I think she’ll come down. I’m positively in _rags_, and
I planned to go out about the time Mr. Wake wants us to start. I’m
awfully keen to get that frock--”

(She never did--something kept her from even wanting it--but of that,

“Can’t you shop in the morning?” I asked.

“Hate to get up--” (She drew a larger ring) “Truly sorry; I’d really
like to but I’m obsessed by that blouse and frock. . . . The
frock’s blue, with silver and lavender embroidered, Japanese-looking
motifs. . . . Simply heavenly. . . _French_ in every line! . . . It’s
honestly worth far _more_ than she asks, but I expect to get her down a
few pegs. . . .”

“Sorry,” I said, and then I went on to Leslie’s room to ask her. I
found her wearing her chin strap and polishing her nails. “Hello,” she
said without changing her expression. (I knew then that she had on a
grease cream that is put on to remove wrinkles. Leslie hasn’t any, but
she says a great aunt whom she looks a lot like has _dozens_, and so
she means to stall them before they even think of coming!) “What do you

“Here,” I said, and held out Mr. Wake’s letter, which Leslie took,
held up to the light and looked through, and after murmuring, “Hand

“Can’t,” she stated, “I suppose you’ll think I’m crazy, but I asked
Miss Meek and Miss Bannister to go out to tea with me to-morrow

“I think it’s fine of you,” I disagreed.

“Not at _all_,” she answered sharply. (She hated being thought
sentimental, and any mention of the kind things that she was coming to
do, more and more regularly, really embarrassed her) “Nothing ‘fine’
about it at all! Only Miss Meek had never been to Doney’s and I thought
she’d like it.”

“She will,” I said, and then I told her I was sorry she couldn’t go,
and went back to my own room, and sewed clean collars and cuffs in my
serge dress, and looked over some music which Signor Paggi wanted me
to read away from the piano and try to see and _feel_ in my mind. Then
I went to my window and opened it, to hang out and peer down in the
court. . . . It looked cold, and almost dreary, and I was glad to think
that spring would be along soon, and I hoped that it would be nice, but
I never dreamed, as I stood there, how nice it was to be, nor how many
changes and happy readjustments it was to back.

Gino came out, as I was looking down, but he didn’t whistle or sing--I
think that Italian whistling and singing is cranked by the bright
sun--and then he went in again. A cat pounced on a dried leaf that
fluttered across one of the brown paths. . . . A brilliant parrot that
hung in his cage outside of a window down the block a little way,
sung out shrilly, and I noticed a dark-skinned woman across the way
hanging clothes out on a line that was strung from her shutter to a
neighbor’s. . . . It was when I was seeing all these things that Beata
tapped, and came in bearing my second letter from home--oh, it was so
good to get them!--and one from Miss Sheila.

I read them both through several times, and then I slipped Mother’s
letter in the pocket of the dress I wore, and Miss Sheila’s letter into
the pocket of my suit coat, for in Miss Sheila’s letter was news that I
felt sure Mr. Wake would enjoy, and I meant to read it aloud to him on
the following day.

Certosa is a large and beautiful place that tops a hill, about three
miles outside of Florence, and I enjoyed going there, although it
made me feel sad. I suppose my feeling was silly, but the order is an
ancient one; they take in no new members, and all that are left to
rattle around in the very big place are a half dozen tottering old men,
whose hands shake as they unlock the heavy doors for you, and whose
breath grows short as they travel the long stairs that take one up to
the Capella Prima, which means the main chapel.

I noticed that the white-bearded, white-haired and white-robed monk who
took us around talked almost incessantly, and Sam told me why.

“Quiet almost all the time,” he said, “from some vow or other, and I
guess the poor old chaps feel like letting out when they can.”

I said I thought it was too bad, and that it was pleasanter to think
of men getting old with their families around them, and Sam thought so

We were out in the Cloister of Certosa. Cloisters are open squares that
are surrounded by the buildings to which they belong, and they are in
all the churches and monasteries and are always most lovely. After
the sifted, gray light of a church, the sunlight and the beautiful
green growing things that fill these spaces are almost too lovely. And
usually a white or brown garbed monk--sometimes wearing no more than
sandals, on his feet--stands in some archway or wanders back and forth
in a loggia and this adds to the picture.

The cloister we looked on was centered by a well with a wrought iron
top that has been copied a great deal, and after Sam had spoken of it,
he--as he whittled at a stick--asked me whether I intended to marry. I
said I hoped so, but that with women a lot depended upon whether any
man asked them. That made him laugh, and he put his hand over mine.

“Some one’s bound to ask you,” he said, as he curled up my fingers in
my palm and then undid them again, to do it all over--sometimes Sam is
_very_ restless--“but, Jane, do tell me any old thing won’t do!”

“Oh, I’d have to _like_ him,” I said, for although I knew little about
love, I felt _certain_ of that. Then Mr. Wake appeared, and he frowned
on us terribly. “Look here, children,” he said, “you know you mustn’t
hold hands in a cloister--” (I laughed, but I got pink, for honestly,
I hadn’t realized I was doing that. It only seemed natural and nice,
and not anything about it made me conscious until that moment!) “You
know,” Mr. Wake went on, “one of these old boys will see you, and
wonder how the thing is done, and pop! some nice evening he’ll crawl
over the wall, and hike down to Florence, and try to find a sweetheart.
Then some jealous brother will see him come in late, and report, and
there’ll be no end of a row. You want to _think of these things_!”

I tried to free my hand, but Sam held it too tightly, because, I think,
he saw it teased me.

“Fra Lippo Lippi did that,” said Mr. Wake. “He used to skip over the
wall almost every evening after dark. Then he’d come in late, and
tiptoe through the corridors, carrying his shoes in his hands. Mr.
Browning made a good story about it. Tell you, when you get down to it,
there is _nothing_ new under the sun! . . . Jane, am I going to have
to speak _sharply_ to you, about your conduct?” (He pretended I was
holding Sam’s long hand)

“You’d better be nice to me,” I said, and I was really almost peevish,
“because I’ve always _tried_ to be nice to you, and I have a letter
from my Miss Sheila, that’s awfully nice--”

“It’s a _shame_,” said Sam quickly--and I think he was sorry he had
teased me; he is almost always very gentle with me--and he patted my
hand, and returned it to my lap with a great deal of funny ceremony.
Then I ordered him off, and he wandered across the cloister and stood
there smoking and watching us. And _then_ I read Mr. Wake the nice news.

“Well, what, dear child?” he asked, as I got out the letter.

“You _wait_,” I said.

“I am--small person--quite a letter, isn’t it?”

“Yes--the news is on the last page, I believe,” I answered. “She writes
from front to back, and then down across the middle one. . . . Here
’tis. ‘I have a secret to tell you,’ I read, ‘and one that you must

“Ah, Eve!” broke in Mr. Wake, as he smiled down at me until all the
little wrinkles stood out around his eyes.

“Well, you’re _different_,” I said. He swelled. “_Adam!_” I said, and
he told me I was a saucy minx, to go on, and I did.

“‘This spring,’ Miss Sheila wrote, ‘will see me in Florence, but I
don’t want Leslie to know I shall appear, for if she does I am sure
she’ll want to go back with me. I think this winter is doing her good,
and I want her to stick the entire time through.’

“Nice?” I said, as I folded up the letter which made crinkly, crackly
noises as it went into the envelope, because it was written on such
heavy paper. I had supposed Mr. Wake would think it _very_ nice, and
therefore I was surprised to look at him, and see him moisten his lips,
and then hear him say, “I don’t know--”

“But, Mr. _Wake_!” I said--I was a good deal disappointed--“I thought
you would _like_ meeting her--”

(He turned, walked away a few steps and then came back)

“I’m afraid,” said Mr. Wake, “that I am too old to meet a Fairy
Godmother. No doubt--” (he was trying to play, but his tone was a
little stiff) “she’d suggest picnicking in the moonlight--isn’t that
the hour when Fairy Rings are most popular?--and that might make
my shoulders stiff. Then--seriously, dear child--I am no good as a
cavalier; I falter. Children and old ladies are the age for me now, and
soon it will be middle-aged women, whom I shall think of as children.
So I am afraid I’d best refuse your alluring offer.”

“Well,” I said, and my voice was flat because I felt so, “you know you
don’t have to meet her; Florence is big--”

“And the world,” he stated, “is big, but sometimes, in spite of the
bigness, one can’t get away from--things--”

Well, I _didn’t_ understand him. All that winter he had asked me about
Miss Sheila, until whenever I saw him her name just naturally came out
and sat on the tip of my tongue, waiting for the word from him that
would make it jump off into space. It did seem very _queer_! I stuck
the letter deep in my pocket, and tried not to feel disappointed, I
knew that I shouldn’t, but--I _did_! Mr. Wake had been so dear to me,
and was so dear, that I wanted to make him happy, and I’d supposed I
could do so by having a party and asking him to meet Miss Sheila.

“You know,” he said, and I could see he was trying to get back to
normal, and to make me think he felt quite as usual, “an old person
like me, with a fat tummy, simply _can’t_ meet a fairy godmother--he
wouldn’t know how to act!”

“Your stomach’s _much_ better,” I answered bluntly, “you needn’t blame
it on _that_! If you don’t want to meet her, just _say_ so, but, I’ll
tell you, _you’ll miss it_! She’s lovely, and she’d be very kind to
you--she’s kind to every one--”

“Is she?” he broke in, and he smiled in a strange way.

“Yes,” I answered hotly, “she _is_.”

We were quiet a moment. Then Mr. Wake put his hand over mine. “Dear
child,” he said, “I’m _sorry_ to disappoint you--”

“What about examples _now_?” asked Sam, who came strolling up. Then
he saw that there was something straining in the air, and he quickly
changed the subject. “Found a bush all in bloom on the other side of
the court,” he said, “Come over and see it, Jane. Almost as pretty as
you are, back in a second, Signor Wake--”

“Long as you like,” said Mr. Wake with a wave, by which he meant we
might linger.

“What is it!” asked Sam, after we had wandered into the center of the
big space that was surrounded on all sides by the building. I told him,
and then I said, “It surprised me; he has talked about her--so much
that at first I thought he must have known her, but she wrote she’d
never known any one named Wake, and now--he doesn’t _want_ to know

“Match-maker?” asked Sam.

“No,” I answered, and a little sharply, because I was still
disappointed, “but I thought he’d _like_ it. And they are both so nice,
and Miss Sheila _is_ lonely--you can see it sometimes, although perhaps
she doesn’t know it--and I _did_ think that if they liked each other it
_would_ be nice--”

“I’ll tell you what,” said Sam, “I’ll let you make a match for me. I’ll
pick out the girl, and you’ll tell me how to get her--”

“All right,” I promised, and I felt more dismal than ever. I don’t know
why, but I did.

“That please you?” he asked.

“Not entirely,” I answered with candor, “I think you’ll _ruin_ your
career if you marry too early!”

“It doesn’t look as if I would,” he stated, and he sighed. And I felt
worse than ever.

“That’ll be the end of our friendship--” I prophesied, and I felt sad,
and my voice sounded it.

“Sometimes it is,” Sam answered, and then he laughed. I didn’t see how
he could. It was a pleasant day, and the court was full of sunshine,
and the grass and even some of the rose bushes were green--but
everything looked bleak to me--I felt _alone_, and _blue_.

“Anything wrong?” asked Sam, after we had strolled around a little
while, and looked at the well, and stolen some sprigs of herb from a
little plot that had a few early vegetables in it.

“There seems to be,” I answered.

“Why, Jane! . . . How can there be under the warmth of an Italian sun,
and in this lovely place, and with a--a troubadour who--who adores
you?” then he stopped, and I felt much better. I don’t remember when I
have felt so _much_ better.

“I’m all right now,” I said, and I smiled up at him, and then because
he looked a little different from usual, I thought we’d better go back
to Mr. Wake. I said so.

“Love him as much as I do,” said Sam, “the dickens with him! Look
here, dear, if there is any--any satisfaction in my liking you, you can
collect it any time, and what’s more--the darned stuff’s rolling up a
whacking big interest.”

I liked that; I said so. Then I said that we _must_ go back to Mr.
Wake, and I turned to go across the court, and Sam followed, saying
he’d like to shake me.

Going down to the car we drank the wine that the friars make and sell
in tiny little bottles. And Sam and I got silly and had lots of fun,
but Mr. Wake was unusually quiet. I think, perhaps, we had tired him.

It was late when I reached home, for we had stopped to hear the last
of a concert that was being given in the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele,
and that led to a little table with three chairs around it, and some
chocolate, and cakes.

Then Mr. Wake left us at the Piazza del Duomo, where he took the tram
to Fiesole, and Sam walked up to the Piazza Indipendenza with me; we
didn’t hurry--he told me about his new orders, and I told him how well
the twins were doing--and it seemed to take quite a little time. And it
was all of seven when we stood outside the pension door, on the third
floor, and shook hands.

“You’ll be late for dinner,” said Sam.

“It doesn’t matter,” I answered.

“I _hope_ it won’t be cold,” he said.

“I don’t care,” I responded. Then he said he was sorry, again, and he
hoped it wouldn’t be cold, again, and I told him it didn’t matter,
again, and then we reached the point we’d both been waiting for, which
was, his saying, “Well, when can I see you again?”

And after I told him--I said, “day after to-morrow,” because I didn’t
think it was nice to _rush_ things--I went in. I expected to hear
Mr. Hemmingway reminiscing in the dining room, but no sound came
from there; the place seemed strangely and unpleasantly still. I had
expected also to encounter Beata carrying in one of the later courses,
but when my eyes accommodated to the dim light I saw that Beata was
sitting by the table, with her head in her arms, crying.

“Beata,” I broke out quickly, “not _Pietro_?” for I was afraid that
something had come along to change the course of her plans, which
all led up to and centered around a wedding which was to be early in

Beata looked up; “Signorina,” she said, “la cablegram--la Signorina
Harrees-Clarke--la poverina, la _poverina_!”

That was all I stopped to hear. I hurried down the corridor to Viola’s
room, and at that door I paused, for Leslie was sitting on the bed by
Viola, holding both of her hands in hers, and saying, as she stroked
them, “There, dear, _there_!”



I found the cablegram that had come for Viola told her that her father
was dead; the father whom she had not written since her complaining,
begging letter of Christmas time.

It made me feel so sorry for her that I didn’t know what to do; for
I knew that the sorrow would be enough for her without acute regret
attached to it; and I knew that she was going to suffer from that too.

I stood in the doorway, that afternoon, for quite a few moments before
I could go in, and when I did and Viola saw me, she sat up. Her cheeks
were flushed and she didn’t look as if she had cried.

“Do you remember that letter?” she said.

I nodded. I couldn’t speak.

“What--can you remember _just_ what I said in it?” she asked. I evaded
as hard and convincingly as I could, but it did no good. She remembered
it, only she had to talk of it, and she did it through questioning me.

“I--I told him that Leslie’s clothes made me feel like a pauper--” she
stated in a hard, high voice, “that--that I’d had to struggle and
pinch--I told him--”

I broke in then. And I made her lie down, and I got Leslie started at
making tea, and then I helped Viola into bed, and tried to do what
I could to divert her through taking off her clothes and making her
comfortable and brushing her hair, and Leslie took the cue and stopped
saying, “Oh, my dear, how _can_ I help you?” which was not just what
Viola needed then.

Every one was dreadfully upset, and worried for Viola, and Miss Meek
came over with smelling salts, and Miss Bannister came tiptoeing to
the door to ask what she could do, and Mr. Hemmingway, whose eyes were
flooded in tears, told me of the death of his dear father--and he
remembered the date--and Miss Julianna, with tears on her pretty round
cheeks, came pattering in with offers of all sorts of strange things,
and a little shrine, which she set up by Viola’s bed.

“La Madre Santa,” she said--which meant “The Sainted Mother”--and
Leslie, who doesn’t seem to understand the people who differ from her
in their way of worship, asked Viola if it should stay.

“I can take it away, darling,” she said in an undertone, “when Miss
Julianna is gone.”

But Viola shook her head, and I was glad, for I liked its being there.
I felt a good deal of comfort through the picture of the pretty woman
who held the little baby so tightly in her arms and smiled at any one
who looked at her. We all needed comfort, and some one who could smile.

It was twelve before Viola slept, and after she did, I put out the
light, and tiptoed down to Leslie’s room.

I found Leslie sitting up by her table, writing, and I couldn’t help
seeing an envelope on it that was addressed to Ben Forbes.

She saw that I saw it, and she spoke.

“Jane,” she said, “I’ve been a perfect fool. . . . I’ve always hated
any one who belittled my importance or anything about me. . . . When
Viola did--you know how it was--” (She drew her pretty pink, quilted
dressing gown closer around her, and went on) “and I imagine the reason
I haven’t been wild over Aunt Sheila was because I felt she didn’t
_worship_. . . And you know I wanted to punish Ben Forbes--because he
told me _the truth_. . . . I’m writing him--” she shoved the sheet
of paper on which she had been writing toward me--“because, after he
had hurt me, _with truth_, I told him that what he said made _no_
difference to me, that I considered him rather uncouth, and that I
had written him _only_ from kindness, and the fact that I felt he was
rather shut off out there in the wilds--and--lots more! Well, to get
through with this, this afternoon and to-night some things have been
driven home to me by Viola’s losing her own father after she had hurt
him. . . . She’ll have to remember now--all her life--how she had hurt
him just before he died. They say”--Leslie groped for a handkerchief,
and mopped her tears frankly--“they say that all sorts of accidents
happen on--on r-_ranches_--”

And then she covered her face and sobbed.

I moved around the table to stand by her and put my arm around her, and
then she spoke.

“Read--it,” she said, with a big sob between the two words, and I did.

  “DEAR BEN:” she had written.

    “All my life I have been conceited; you must know it now. I
    do--which is a miracle--and I’m writing to-night to say that
    the truth you told me helped me and is helping me. I am working
    hard; I hope I am less a fool.

    “With gratitude,

            “Your old neighbor and friend,
                           “LESLIE PARRISH.”

“Is it all right?” she asked, as I laid it down.

“Yes,” I answered, “but if he likes you, and you hurt him, you ought to
say you are sorry for that--”

She nodded quickly, and reached for her pen. “What would you say?” she
asked, as she looked down, uncertainly, at her lovely monogramed paper.

“If I liked him, _really_,” I said, “I would write a postscript. I’d
say something like, ‘Dear Ben, I like you, and I didn’t mean those
things I said when I was cross. I will be very grateful if you will
forgive me--’”

And she wrote just that.

“It doesn’t sound like me,” she commented in a voice that shook.
“It’s--it’s too nice.” And, again, she wiped away tears.

I leaned over, and folded the sheet, and stuck it in the envelope and
sealed it, as Leslie laughed in a funny, weak way.

“Where are your stamps?” I asked. She told me, and I licked one and
stuck it on. Then we kissed each other, and that was unusual. I never
was so very much for kissing everybody all the time, and I think when
girls do, too much, it’s silly, but it was different that night. Then I
went out and laid the letter on the table in the hall--we always left
them there for the first person who went out to take, and then I looked
in to see that Viola was still sleeping, and after that I went to bed.

That day began a new sort of life for us all. The tragedy that came to
Viola was like a stone that is thrown into the center of a still pool.
All sorts of widening circles grew from her trouble, and she, herself,
found through it a new depth. I don’t mean that everything changed in
a day, for things don’t change in that manner, but all the time Viola
was building up new habits in place of the old ones that were crumbling

I saw the roots of a fine strong habit, on the day when she got the
first letter from home written after her father died.

I was with her when it came, and she looked up from the black-bordered
sheet to say--vacantly, and in a level, stupid-sounding sort of
tone--“He _was_ poor!” I was sewing clean cuffs and collars in my serge
dress and I stuck myself and made a spot of blood on one cuff. I was so
sorry for her that I really shook when anything new that was hard came
to her.

“Read it, Jane,” she said, and she held out the letter. I did, and
I couldn’t imagine that any one who had ever known or really loved
Viola’s father had written it. It was full of complaints and self-pity,
because the husband of the woman who had written it had died to leave
his widow with less money than she thought she should have. I didn’t
know what to say. Then I suppose I did a dreadful thing, but I did
it without meaning to do anything dreadful, and because I have been
brought up to speak the truth.

“Maybe,” I said, “he is happier dead.”

The tears stood out in Viola’s eyes.

“I only said that,” I explained miserably, “because I thought it might
make you feel better, for if your mother talked to him like that I--I
guess it worried you--” (I stammered terribly over it; it was so hard
to say anything that sounded even half right)

“I talked that way too,” said Viola. I couldn’t say anything to that.
So I began to sew in my collar.

“He hated the hyphenated name!” said Viola. I finished sewing in my
collar and began on my last cuff.

“I don’t mind the money, but I have to think of it--what shall I do?
I hate sponging. I will say I _always_ hated it! Mother can go visit
people--and she will--but I--I _can’t_!”

“Why don’t you work?” I asked.

She looked at me hard. “What would I do?” she asked after several
moments of scrutiny.

“Accompany,” I answered. “Even Devil Paggi” (I am ashamed to say that
we called him that sometimes) “says you can do that--”

“Yes--” Viola answered in a funny, low voice.

“He said he’d get any of us positions,” I went on, “and touring with a
great singer wouldn’t be bad--”

That captured her!

“Basses are always fat,” she said; “I hope to goodness it will be a
tenor!” Which was a whole lot like Viola, and a joke that I didn’t
appreciate then, for when Viola--who did learn to accompany really
beautifully--got her position, it was with a fat German contralto who
had five children, a fat poodle dog that Viola had to chaperon a great
deal of the time, and a temper that Viola had to suffer, or--leave!

I stood up a little time after that, and as I stepped into the corridor
I met Leslie, who was taking a letter out for Beata to mail.

“Look here,” I said, as I swung into step by her, and we reached the
hall near the entrance door, “Viola had a letter from her mother, and
her father hasn’t left much--”

“How ghastly!”

“Well,” I said, “I don’t know. . . . It may help Viola--”

“I’ll lend her anything she needs--any amount,” said Leslie, and then I

“Please _don’t_,” I begged. She drew herself up.

“Will you be good enough to explain?” she said frigidly, and I did. I
said that, unless she intended to support Viola all her life, she had
no business to get Viola into the habit of taking and expecting, and I
went on to say that it was the one chance for Viola to learn to work,
and that she would be helped through her trouble _by_ work. I was sure
she would, and I was sure that Leslie oughtn’t to help her, and I spoke
with a lot of energy.

Leslie didn’t like it--Rome wasn’t built in a day!--and then she said
that when she needed my expert advice she’d call for it, and that she
didn’t intend to see Viola starve; and after that, we parted.

At dinner that night she was frosty as James Whitcomb Riley’s famed
pumpkins, but I could see by Viola’s careless manner (Viola always paid
a great deal of attention to Leslie _after_ she borrowed money) that
Leslie hadn’t spoken to her of her willingness to help.

For a couple of days Leslie avoided making real conversation with me,
and then one morning while I was practising I looked up to see Leslie
in the doorway.

She had on a French blue negligee that had pale two-toned pink ribbons
on it, and her cheeks were flushed and her eyes bright, and she carried
a tray on which was a pot of tea, some little cakes that she knows I
like, and some biscuits. She always got her own breakfast because the
pension allowance was small, and she knew that I was always hungry
until after lunch.

“Here!” she said, as she set it down on a chair by me. “Suppose you’re
starved as usual. I, myself, am entirely certain that the scant
breakfasts stunt the race--I’m _certain_ that it makes them short--I
want to say several things--”

I began to eat. “Go ahead,” I said, in a tone that I must confess was

“In the first place--you, ah, you were right about Viola.” (I almost
fainted, but I bit into a biscuit and held on to consciousness) “I see
it now. Then--this afternoon I am going out to buy a wedding present
for Beata, and I want you to go with me; can you?”

“If you’ll wait till I get through practising--” I answered.

“Certainly, that’s understood. _Have_ to with you--” (She always
resented and never understood why my first thought _had_ to be music)
“And another thing,” she went on, and she fumbled in the front of her
negligee to find a cablegram, “I’ve heard from him--”

I took it and read it.

“He must have cared a lot to write those two pleases in a cablegram,” I

She nodded and tried not to smile, but the inclination was so much
stronger than her ability to hold it in check, that she smiled in a
silly, ashamed sort of way, and she avoided meeting my eyes.

Ben Forbes had cabled, “Thank you. Letter follows. Please please write
me again.”

“I thought I’d get Beata a silver coffee service,” said Leslie, who
can’t seem to accommodate to other people’s circumstances.

“She’d never use that,” I said. “You might as well get her a wooden leg
or a pair of stilts! I’d get her some horrible picture, or candlesticks
for their front room, or a lamp with a funny, warty, red and green

“You’re right,” she said, and then she went off. She kissed her fingers
to me from the doorway, and again she smiled in that misty, vacant way.

I practised hard, for that afternoon I had a lesson, and it was that
afternoon that Signor Paggi began to be most kind to me.

“You have more _feel_ in the tune,” he said. (I was very happy) “I
think Cu_peed_ have come to make you _see_--” he went on.

“Not to me,” I said, “but to some one I like--”

“Have as you will,” he stated, “but play again, for me--”

And I did. And as I did, I thought of how Sam had looked when he heard
me practise that very same music at the Pension Dante. He had said it
was beautiful, and it had helped me.

Friendship is a wonderful thing!



A great deal happened in that slice of time which carried us from
January into spring, although during that interval we felt as if we
were going along almost entirely on the level. You never really do see
the things that happen--not well--until you can look at them over your
shoulder. I realize now that there was lots of excitement, and that
there was really a good deal of abrupt change, but I didn’t see it then.

In the first place, we all went to Beata’s wedding in February, and I
never did have a better time.

Her family, who numbered fourteen--with her father and mother, and
Grandmother and Grandfather, and nine brothers and sisters--lived in
a four room house out in the country past the Cascine, which is the
Park in Florence where fashionable people and those who are trying very
hard to become fashionable, drive each afternoon. I didn’t like it;
it didn’t seem very foreign or Italian. But to go on with my story,
an American--or most Americans--would have hesitated about inviting
people to a wedding party in a four room house that was simply crammed
with children, not to mention the sick hen and the sheep with a broken
leg, but it didn’t bother Beata! No, sir, she meant to have a party,
and she had it, and I thought her asking every one she wanted _fine_.
She said, through Miss Julianna, who interpreted, “You know we are
poor, but we have great love in our hearts for you, and would like to
share what we have with you. And will you do us the great honor to come
to my wedding, hear the mass that will follow, and then eat with us the
grand dinner at the house of my dearly loved father?”

Every one accepted, and on the morning of the fourteenth--which was
the date Leslie had chosen for Beata’s wedding in honor of a certain
Saint who swells the mails on this day each year--we all started out
toward Beata’s home. Leslie, who was increasingly kind and thoughtful,
had hired a big motor which would, with a little squeezing, hold us
all; and into this piled Miss Julianna, Miss Meek (she wore the purple
velvet with the green buttons again) Miss Bannister who had never set
foot in a motor before and was pale from fear (her fright lasted about
a block, and then she got so jazzy that we almost had to tell her not
to rock the boat) Viola, with a wide black band around her arm (Leslie
had suggested that to save Viola’s buying new black clothes) and
Leslie, Mr. Hemmingway and myself.

The riding out was great fun, for the day was fine, and Miss Meek and
Miss Bannister and Mr. Hemmingway were having such a good time that we
were all infected with it.

Mr. Hemmingway talked _every_ second about the first time he had ever
seen a motor, which was in Australia, he _thought_ in Sidney, although
oddly enough he could, in retrospect, only see the corner where the
motor stood; and, all corners being pretty much the same, it _might_
have been in Melbourne. And he thought it was in 1889, although it
might have been in 1888--and so on!

Miss Meek kept saying, “My _eye_, how _jolly_!” and Miss Bannister,
who, as I said, lost all fear after a block of going, kept asking if
the chauffeur couldn’t “speed it up a bit.” She admitted that she was
“no end keen for going, don’t you know!”

When we reached the little house, I was so glad that Beata had asked
us, because we saw, through her doing so, a side of life that we hadn’t
come across before.

The house, which was of tan stucco with the usual, red tiled roof,
stood on a tiny plot of ground over which were strewn all sorts of
things. A broken cart, with one wheel gone, sagged in a corner,
and near the tiny, shed-like barn, through the window of which an
interested horse stuck its head, was a grindstone. Ground-scratching
hens, who chattered in gentle clucks to their puffy, soft broods,
walked in the house and out again as they pleased, and a red rooster
stood on a crumbling stucco wall that was topped with broken glass,
to flap his wings and crow. . . . Down back of the house every inch
of ground was terraced, for it seems that it is best used that way on
hillsides, and because of this the Italian country, in most places,
looks like unending flights of green-grown steps. Up under the eaves
was a really beautiful figure of Christ nailed on the cross, and when
people passed below that they bowed and crossed themselves.

Of course the sun was over everything, and there were some smells that
weren’t exactly pleasant, but the whole place was pleasing, and a lot
of its picturesque look came from the disorder and dirt.

And the guests! They were all dressed in their peasant best, and were
laughing and joking, and telling Beata that they wished her many,
strong children--this is quite a proper wish in Italy, and I really
don’t know why it shouldn’t be anywhere; but people _would_ think it
queer, I suppose, if you said it at a wedding in Pennsylvania, or in
New York--and before we started for the church, which was down in the
valley below us, we all joined hands and circled Beata and Pietro who
stood in the center, holding hands and smiling at each other shyly.
Then every one sung while we did this and it was very pretty to hear
and to see and to join in.

Then we went, arm in arm, down a winding way, over slopes that were
grown with small, gently green olive trees, or between fields of green
that were already beginning to show the brightest growing hue; past
a high-walled villa, and several tumbling houses of the poor. And
whenever we met a person, or a group of them, they--knowing Beata or
not--would call out a blessing upon the pair, and then stand, heads
uncovered, until we had gone from sight. . . . There is something very
warming in the frankness of the Italians’ hearts; I think perhaps, in
the United States, we keep our hearts too heavily covered.

In the church many candles were burning, and there was a little boy
swinging an incense pot, and it was dark and cool and mysterious, after
all the blaze of the sunshine outdoors. I liked the service--in spite
of the fact that it was very long--and I enjoyed seeing how it was done.

After it was over, we went back to Beata’s father’s house to find the
little lame brother (who was getting better all the time) waiting for
us at the gate--he had seemed glad to stay with the Grandmother--and
Beata kissed him first, and then her Grandmother, and every one talked
and laughed and joked. And then the refreshments, which were black
bread, bright orange cheese, figs, and wine, were passed, and they did
taste good.

Just before we left a new guest came, and she carried the tiniest baby
I had ever seen, which was only three days old, and I was very much
surprised when I found out it was hers; because Daddy always makes the
mothers of babies stay in bed at least two weeks, and sometimes much
longer. But it seems that all the peasants get up after two or three
days, and when this woman said she had had to miss the wedding because
of doing a big wash, I was more surprised, but very glad she came, for
she let me hold the baby, who was named Leo Paolo Giovanni Battista
Vincenzo Negri, and was _so_ cunning.

When the shadows were beginning to grow long and turn purple, we
started back toward Florence, which lay before us in its valley cup,
with all its spires and towers gilded by the last, yellow-gold sunlight.

I felt a little sad, going in; I don’t know why, unless perhaps it was
because Miss Bannister and Miss Meek and Mr. Hemmingway had had so fine
a time, and I kept wondering, as they talked--excitedly and as fast as
they could and all at once--what they would do after we left.

But Fate and Mr. Wake helped them.

Early in March I heard from Miss Sheila that she would be in Florence
some time during April, but I didn’t tell Mr. Wake of this, for since
that day at Certosa we hadn’t talked much of Miss Sheila. And the very
same day that I heard that, Leslie came to me, with one of the big,
square envelopes in her hand that came so often since she had written
Ben Forbes.

“Ben Forbes is coming over,” she stated.

“Isn’t that _dandy_?” I answered. I had been practising; I had added an
hour and was doing five a day, at that time.

“I think so,” she said, looking down.

“Has he ever been here before?” I asked, and she responded quickly and
with a little remnant of her old irritation in her voice.

“Heavens, _yes_, child!” she replied, “_dozens_ of times, of course!
But not lately. He says he realizes that he has been keeping himself
too tightly moored, and that he wants a few weeks of real play. . . .
He wants me to plan the whole time for him--”

“Well,” I said, “I think that’s _great_! What are you going to do?”

“Oh, take him to the Boboli Gardens, and that sort of thing--he likes
outdoors and isn’t too keen for pictures--and we’ll walk. . . . Where
is that little place where you buy cakes, down in that covered street
near the Arno?”

It seemed queer to have her ask that--I remembered so clearly her
saying that she thought _eating in alleys_ odd--but I didn’t remind
her, and I told her about that, and about a place where you could get
the best white wine, and then of a restaurant where Sam had taken me
that was always full of Italian artists, and writers and poets, and
where you never saw the gleam of a red Baedeker.

“He likes that sort of thing,” Leslie confided, “and I want him to have
a good time--”

“Of course,” I answered.

She sighed, and then smiled in a sort of a foolish way. “It’ll be nice
to see him,” she said weakly.

“I should think it would be,” I answered.

“He’s thirty-three,” she said, “but what’s ten years?” (Leslie is

“Nothing,” I stated. It was easy to say the right thing to her that
day, for she put up a sign post at every turn.

“I think a man should be older than a woman--” said Leslie. I suppose
she meant husband and wife.

“I do too,” I agreed, and did an arpeggio.

“Hear about Viola?” she asked, as she leaned against the piano.

“No.” I stopped and looked up as she spoke.

“Paggi had a note from a German contralto--she’s pretty well known
too--Madame Heilbig; and she wants a young accompanist, and Signor P.
has recommended Vi. . . . Viola’s to try out with the lady next week
when she goes through here, and I believe Madame Heilbig will tour the
States next year. . . . Viola will _love_ that. She’s already planning
what she will wear. . . . Do you remember how she expected to accompany
a slim tenor with pretty brown eyes?”

I did, and I laughed.

Leslie laughed too, but not as kindly as I had--really she didn’t--for
she and Viola, in spite of being friends again, still held a scratchy
feeling toward each other.

“Nothing ever turns out as I expect it to,” said Leslie, “I’m beginning
to get over being surprised about anything. . . . Do you think a man
would like that flower toque of mine?”

“He will unless he’s blind,” I replied, and then I told her to get out,
because I had to go on with my work, but I didn’t have much time alone,
for in a second Viola appeared.

“_Darling_,” she called from the doorway, “have you _heard_ the _news_?”

I gave up then; I had to.

“Not your version of it,” I answered; and she came skipping across
the room to drop on a chair near me, and babble. There is no other
description of it! She was so excited that she hardly stopped for

“I’m going to get that position!” she announced, “it’ll do me _worlds_
of good--” (It did!) “And mother is satisfied to stay with Aunt
Clarice--she entertains all the time, you know--and I am going to wear
an orchid chiffon frock, made up over silver cloth, perhaps, and Signor
Paggi says I will sometimes be expected to bow too, and that Madame
Heilbig will pay me well, and I mean to save--because Leslie says all
her income comes from money her father saved--it is the only safety
for a single woman, and capital is really the husband of an old maid,
don’t you know? Or would you wear lavender? I thought of a brocade,
and I could wear artificial violets because they would look like real
ones back of the footlights, and with my name, they might be sort of
romantic, and I can wear violet too, and--”

I sat and listened, and honestly she went on for a half hour like that.
Then she said, “Hear about Ben Forbes?”

“Yes,” I answered.

“Simply _romantic_!”

“Um hum--”

“Taking him to the Boboli Gardens, and all that--_artful_, you
know. . . . _Think_ of having a proposal in one of those arched-over
pathways in that heavenly place! _Oh!_”

“Probably won’t,” I said.

“He will too,” Viola disagreed, “_she’ll fix it_! . . . Look here, did
you hear about his cook!”

I hadn’t, and I said so quickly, because I was interested.

“In the letter before this last one,” said Viola, “I think it came
yesterday, he told Leslie--oh, in detail, my dear!--about his ranch,
and the way the ranch house looked and all that. Made it _frightfully_
attractive, told her about the patio, what is a patio, anyway?”

“Enclosed court,” I answered, “I think they have them in some of the
ranch houses in the southwest. They are sort of Mexican--”

“I see; well, he told her about that, and about how the sunsets looked
on the mountains, it was a perfect _love_ of a letter, but what I was
getting at was this--he said he had a one-eyed Chinese cook who could
spit eight feet. Can you imagine Leslie with _that_?”

I laughed. It did seem awfully funny.

Viola laughed too, but as Leslie had, which was not in an entirely kind
way, and then she went on to say almost exactly what Leslie had said
about her.

“It’ll be the _making_ of her,” she said (and it was!), “but I never
would have believed she would allow herself to care for a man who lives
in the middle of nowhere. However, _nothing_ turns out as one expects
it to. I guess I ought to leave you?”

“You ought to,” I agreed, “but I don’t suppose you will--”

“Oh, do come have tea with me,” said Leslie from the doorway, and I
gave up. We went to her room to find her bed covered with the veils
which she had been trying on over her flowered toque.

“A woman _should_ look her best,” she said, but she flushed and avoided
looking at us as she said it.

“When will he be here?” asked Viola.

“Who?” asked Leslie coolly, but something made her drop the shoe horn
with which she was measuring out the tea, and then knock a cream puff
from a heavy piece of china that had been designed to hold soap.



April came in as gently and softly as a month could possibly come, and
it held more loveliness than I had ever dreamed could be. The sun was
growing too warm and, some days, the heat was oppressive and going out
unwise; but most of the days were flawless jewels that began with brown
which merged into green, topped and finished with the blue, blue sky.

It was in the second week in April that we went up to Fiesole, that
proud little town that perches on a high hill, and looks down so
scornfully on the Florence that has always made war upon her.

I had been there before with Sam, and we had gone up the winding road,
to the place where there are relics of Roman baths and the remains of a
Roman Temple and an open, half-circled Roman theater. But that had been
in the winter, and now it was spring!

Viola and I went up alone, for Leslie was out somewhere with Ben
Forbes, who had arrived the night before. And all the way up Viola
talked of Leslie’s getting married--and she wasn’t even engaged
then--and of what she, Viola, would wear while _en tour_, which was
what she called her traveling with Madame Heilbig--who had liked her
playing, and instantly engaged her--and of how she, Viola, intended to
go on and some day accompany some one who was really great, while I
looked out at the country which was _so_ beautiful.

I didn’t mind Viola’s talking very much, although I would have been
glad to look on all that loveliness in silence, but I was glad, when we
reached Fiesole--which is so high that it seems to cling uncertainly to
the top of the hill--and found on reaching there that Viola went off
with Mr. Wake, and that I walked with Sam.

“And how’s everything?” he asked, after he had smiled down at me in the
kindest way, and told me that he liked my broad hat which I had bought
at the Mercato Nuovo for five lire which is now about twenty-five cents.

“Better and better,” I answered, and then I told him all the news, as I
always did when we met. We met a good deal too, but there always seemed
to be a lot to say. It is like that when you are real friends.

“Miss Bannister,” I said, “has had luck. A nephew of hers has lost
his wife, which is hard on him, but fine for Miss Bannister, because
he wants her to come to Devonshire and live in his house, and attend
to giving the cook and what Miss Bannister calls ‘the scullery maid’
their orders. And he sent her ten pounds--how much is that, Sam?”

“About fifty hard bones, dear,” he answered. (I was quite used to his
calling me “dear,” and I liked it)

“Well, that is all for clothes,” I stated, “and I’m going to help her
buy them.”

“Can you get more than one frock with that?” asked Sam, and I told him
that she certainly could, for only the day before Leslie and I had
shopped. She had helped me to buy the things I was going to take home
to Mother, Roberta, the twins, and Daddy, and we had got lovely things
at most reasonable prices. Hand-embroidered, hand-made night dresses
could be bought for a dollar and a half; waist patterns wonderfully
embroidered, for two dollars; laces (and the laces were _beautiful_),
for about half what one would pay at home--I had bought Mother a set
of broad Irish lace collars and cuffs for four dollars--and quite
everything was like that, one paid less, and got more.

“Leslie got uncurled ostrich feather fans for some of her friends,” I
went on, “she said for half what she would have to pay for the cheapest
at home--they were twelve and fifteen dollars, I think--and she got
leather frames and hand-bound books too, that were beautiful.” Then I
told Sam that I had found for Father a handtooled card case that I
wanted him to see, and he said he wanted to, and then he said he was

“Why?” I asked, and he told me because I was going away.

“That won’t stop our being friends,” I answered, and I pretended a
cheerfulness that I really didn’t feel.

“No,” he answered, “it mustn’t. I’m going to work hard,” he continued,
“and I’m coming over to New York in a year or so for a one man show--”
(I suppose I looked as if I didn’t understand--for I didn’t--and he
explained) “That means,” he said, “an exhibition of my work, all by
itself--Mr. Wake, bless him, thinks I can swing it, and when I come
over I’ll come to see you. But you knew that, didn’t you?”

“Will you _really_?” I questioned, because I did want to be very sure,
and he said he really would.

“But then,” I said, “you’ll probably go again--”

“Um, probably. . . . I used to travel with a banjo tucked under one
arm, and a palette under the other. . . . But I see where, in a couple
of years, things are going to be more complicated, _if I can manage
what I want to_--”

I didn’t understand him, but I let it go, because Mr. Wake and Viola
had come out of the Cathedral which dominates the wind-swept Piazza
at Fiesole, and Mr. Wake came over to tell Sam to take me in and show
me the bust of a Bishop and his monument that were made by Mino da
Fiesole, and that Mr. Wake liked very much.

We went in, past the beggars who sat on the steps with open, upturned
palms, past an old lady who was selling baskets, and swore at us
dreadfully when we refused to buy them--among her swearing was a curse
which consists of “Darn the fishes,” and that is very, very wicked in
Italian!--and then, inside we saw the--Sarcophagus, Sam called it, and
loitered around, and then went back out into the glare and stifling
heat that was over everything outside.

We found Mr. Wake and Viola across the big Piazza, loitering in the
shade, and Mr. Wake said that it was too hot for anything but his own
shady garden and iced tea, and so we left the funny, pretty little
town and started down a narrow roadway that ran between high walls, or
slopes that were covered with olive trees.

Every color was accentuated. . . . Houses that were faint pink,
seemed salmon; greens almost clashed; the dust of the roadway was a
vivid yellow, and down in the hollow below us, Florence spread out, a
steaming, gleaming mass of tightly packed palaces, shining spires, and
gleaming towers.

“Ah, Giotto,” said Mr. Wake, as we halted at a bend in the way and
looked down at our own city. He said this, for he loved the tower that
Giotto had planned and had seen half built before his death. “Ever
hear,” said Mr. Wake, “of how the little Giotto was found, and how he
was helped to become the great artist that he was?”

I hadn’t, and I said so. Viola thought she had, but she said she forgot
so _many_ things, when Mr. Wake questioned her a little.

“Well,” he said, “since Viola has forgotten, and Jane frankly admits
she doesn’t know, indulge an old man in his love of the telling of
picturesque stories.”

“I _love_ them,” I said, for I really did. His stories were about
people who had lived and died, and they never had Irish or Hebrew or
Swedish people in them to make him try a dialect. I don’t care so very
much for that sort. And Mr. Wake didn’t even _try_ to be funny, which
is unusual in a man.

“Well,” he said, as he took off his hat and mopped his brow, “one day
when Cimabue, who was a great artist, and a fine chap, was strolling
through the country he came to a clearing in which a little boy was
tending sheep. And perhaps because he was in an ill humor--probably
thinking all art was going to the bad, for he was a critic too,
you know, and critics have thought that since the beginning of
paint--anyway, I feel that an ill humor set upon him, and that he was,
because of it, minded to stop, and divert himself by talking a bit to a
little country lad.

“And he said ‘Hello,’ in Italian of course, and the little boy answered
‘Master, I salute you--’ and Cimabue drew near. And when near, he
looked down at a rock upon which the little boy had drawn a picture
with a bit of soft, crumbling stone. The picture was good, and Cimabue
felt a thrill sweep over him--the selfsame sort of thrill that I feel
when Sam shows my dull eyes a bit of his genius--and he took the little
boy with him, after he saw his _people_, and the little boy grew up to
paint pictures of people. Before he painted--early in thirteen hundred,
legend has it, all the pictures had been of stiff, remote, too holy
Saints. But little Giotto, who had learned love and wisdom of the
fields and trees and birds and beasts, painted Madonnas who smiled, and
little babies who held out their arms to be taken, and proud Josephs
who seem to say, ‘Please look at _my_ family.’ . . . Painted, what
Ruskin called, ‘Mamma and Papa and the baby.’ . . . I thank you, ladies
and gentleman,” he ended, with mock ceremony, “for your kind attention!”

Then he paused outside of a wall that had once been pink, but had been
washed by the rain and faded by sun until it was only a faint peach in
a few sheltered spots, and here he rang a bell.

Soon after he did this, a girl opened the gate for us, greeted Mr. Wake
and us all with real sweetness, and we trooped into his garden. And I
was glad to see it, for I loved Mr. Wake and I wanted to see where he
lived, but I would have enjoyed it in any case, for it was--without
exception--the prettiest place I had ever seen.

There were high walls all around it except on the side that looked
down upon Florence. Here the view was interrupted, rather edged, by
groups of tall, slender cypress trees, and here was a low, marble
balustrade. . . . There were vines and clumps of foliage, and in the
center of the lower terrace a little fountain with a laughing cupid in
its center. . . . And there were wicker chairs with hoods on them--Sam
said that they were called beach chairs--and there was a yellow awning
with a bright blue star on it, which had once been the sail of a
Venetian fishing craft. . . . I cannot describe it. . . . While I was
there I could only feel it, and hope I wouldn’t wake. . . . I sank down
in a chair that had a footstool near it, and looked down the green
hillside, toward the city of towers.

“Like it?” asked Sam, as he dropped on the footstool, and after my nod,
lit a cigarette.

“Oh,” I murmured.

“Didn’t exaggerate, did I?” he went on.

“No,” I answered, “you _couldn’t_.” Then Mr. Wake came up, followed
by Viola who was murmuring, “En_chant_ing,” “A_dor_able,” and “Too
_heav_enly,” one right after the other. And after he had come to stand
smiling down at me, I mentioned Miss Sheila for the first time.

“Mr. Wake,” I said, “My fairy godmother would love this more than I can
say. It’ll seem strange to you, but she has talked to me of a place
like this. She _really_ has.”

“Look here,” said Mr. Wake to Sam, “you and Viola go hunt up some tea,
will you--”

And Sam said, “Of course,” and stood up.

“And show Viola your last picture,” Mr. Wake added, “and _take your
time to it_!”

“Yes, _Sir_,” said Sam, and very nicely, considering the fact that he
and Viola don’t get on very well.

After he had gone, Mr. Wake took out his cigarette case and lit a
cigarette, and then sat down on the end of a chaise longue.

“My dear,” he said, “I’ve a long story to tell you. . . . And you must
be kind and remember that it is the first time I have ever told it,
and that--the telling it is hard because--I care so--deeply. . . .
But I guess you’d best know, and why I don’t want to meet your--your
Miss Sheila. I believe you’d best know, for you will wonder why I am
so rude, if I don’t explain. . . . The garden, by the way, is the kind
Miss Sheila would like because--long, long years ago--when I was young
in heart and body--she talked of a garden like this, to me--her lover.”

He paused to stare down upon Florence for some moments, and then, after
he had drawn a deep breath, he went on.

“About twenty years ago,” he said, “when I was a boy, and named
Terrence O’Gilvey--and right off the sod, Jane--I came to New York.
I had done a bit of writing or two, even then, and I went on a paper;
and, because of my Irish manner I think, my little things took. Anyway,
the first thing I knew a well-known newspaper man named Ford, and then
the Danas and some others began to believe in me and to be kind to me,
and I knew I had got hold of the first rung anyway, and I was mighty
happy. I thought I was as happy as any man could be until I met Sheila
Parrish, and then I was in hell . . . and yet . . . happier than I had
ever been before--and, faith, all because I was so deep in love with

“It was a quick business, Jane. She smiled gently, and I was gone. I
wanted to get down and let her use my vest for a doormat; I wanted
several other things that might seem extravagant to one of your solid
small tread and common sense, but none of them were enough extravagant
nor enough of an outlet for all that she had taught me to feel.

“Well, she was good to me. And she let me come to see her, and I
sent her posies, and I wrote her what I am afraid were rhymes, and
no more--but by all the Saints, child, what I felt! And then one day
Heaven opened, and she--she stretched out her lovely hands to me, and
she said, ‘You are more than a dear Irish boy, Terry; I believe you are
a man, and I believe I will listen to your story--’”

He stopped speaking, and I put my hand out, and laid it on his--I was
_so_ sorry for him!

For a moment we sat like this, and then he went on.

“She had a younger brother,” he said, “God rest his soul! He was
bad--as reckless and vicious a youth as has ever been my unhappy
fortune to see, and how _he hurt Sheila_. I saw it, and I suffered a
thousand times for her. I’d find her with tears on her cheeks, and know
that some new devilishness had cropped out. And I railed, as youth will
rail, Jane, and it drove her from me. . . . When, (a long story this,
but I can’t seem to shorten it) after she had set the date for our
wedding, her younger brother was found to have tuberculosis, and she
said that I must wait, while she went west with him and fought with him
for health, I lost control of every brake I had, and I went to pieces.

“And well, I remember it! Her standing in the high ceilinged drawing
room of the old New York home, and saying, ‘Well, Terry, if you make me
choose, I can do only one thing. I cannot evade duty. My brother may
not last a year--’ and I turned and went--

“And the next day I wrote her, but I had no answer. And that was the
end of it, and of everything, and you see, now, why I can’t--meet her.”

“Why did you change your name!” I asked. I am too dull to say the
appropriate thing, so I usually ask or say what I really want to.

“An Uncle wanted to adopt me . . . . He was a lonely old chap; I had no
one, and I thought he was mighty pathetic, until he died and left me a
more than fair sized fortune, (A great thing to have, Jane, by the way,
if you’ve a fancy for writing books!) and then, well I thought he was a
humbug, but I was grateful, and I have been ever since--”

He stood up and smiled down at me. No one who hadn’t known him for long
would have thought his smile stiff, or forced, but I knew that it was.

“But are you over caring for her?” I asked. “I didn’t know if it were
very real, that it would change--”

“I am not,” he answered, “what you term ‘over it,’ and there is no
changing for me, but for my peace I think less of it and of the hopes
that the boy named Terrence O’Gilvey sent up to his gods.”

Then, Viola and Sam came wandering back to stand on the upper terrace
uncertainly, and Mr. Wake called to them.

“Come on down,” he said, “we’re ready for our tea--”

And then a maid who wore a scarlet waist, and a black skirt with
scarlet bands around it, a little white cap on her head, and a Roman
striped scarf around her waist, came toward us with a big tray which
she set on a table that Sam brought up.

It was very, very pretty. . . . But it suddenly seemed hollow. . . .
I wondered whether it were always hollow for Mr. Wake. . . . And I
thought how nice it would be if pretty Miss Sheila were smiling at him
from across the table, and knew, without asking, how many lumps of
sugar he would take, and whether his tea should be strong or weak.

“How many loads,” asked Sam as he picked up the sugar spoon.

“Two for me,” I answered.

“None,” said Viola who is afraid of fat.

“Where is Leslie?” asked Mr. Wake who had evidently just noticed her

“In the Boboli gardens,” answered Viola, on a guess that later proved

“Hum--hope she drove over. Aren’t they warning people at the bridges
to-day?” he ended, with a questioning look toward Sam who had gone down
to the town that morning. (On very hot days sentinels, who stand at the
entrance to the bridges, warn people against crossing them, for it is a
risk to do this during the middle hours of the day)

“No,” Sam replied, “I wandered over the Ponte Vecchio without a word
from any one--”

“The real heat will come soon,” Mr. Wake prophesied. “Think,” he went
on, “I’ll go to Switzerland in June.”

“Poor Miss Meek,” I put in, “hates the heat so and has to stay here--”

“Pshaw,” said Mr. Wake, “that is too bad--Look here,” he said quickly,
after a second’s pause, “I have some Italian friends who want a
governess; I believe they are going to Viareggio for the hot months.
Would she touch that?”

“She’d _love_ it,” I answered quickly, “she’s wanted a post for ages,
but it’s so hard to get one now, since every one’s so poor from the

“And fancy the little Italian beggars saying, ‘My eye! How jolly,’” put
in Sam.

Every one laughed. “Won’t hurt ’em,” said Mr. Wake easily, “for they
won’t know it’s not top notch proper and the latest thing! I’ll talk
to Lucca to-morrow, and after that I’ll let you know, Jane. Believe I
can fix it--”

And he did.

I thought of him a lot going down. So much that Sam thought I felt
badly from the heat. But the heat hadn’t made my depression. I had so
wanted Miss Sheila and Mr. Wake to know and like each other. They were
both lonely, and I loved them both and they seemed alike and suited
to like each other in lots of ways. And I could tell that Mr. Wake
needed Miss Sheila from the manner in which he had talked of her at the
beginning of our friendship. And now it was all over; I could never
present my dear friend to her, nor talk of my Fairy Godmother to him!

It did seem all wrong, but as Leslie and Viola both said, things turn
out as one doesn’t expect them to.

I had hoped--of course it was silly--but I had hoped a lot. And now
even my chance for hoping had disappeared.

“Are you sure,” asked Sam, “that the heat hasn’t done you up?”

“Sure,” I answered dully.

“He’s wild over you,” said Viola as we toiled up the stairs that we had
come to call “The last, long mile.” . . . We had sent Sam off at the
door, because he had to walk back to the Piazza del Duomo again to get
his car, and the town was still heavy and sultry with the heat that
the day had held.

“Nonsense!” I answered sharply.

“Yes, he is. We might have a double wedding--”

I was furious.

“I’m going home to play the organ in the First Presbyterian Church,”
I stated, “and to give music lessons, and I won’t have time to get
married for _years_!”

She laughed.

“I’m only eighteen,” I added, and with resentment.

“I’ll bet on twenty for you,” she said teasingly.

“Not before I’m twenty-one,” I answered before I thought, and then
I grew pink. Viola laughed, as Maria, the new maid, opened the door
for us. “Oh, he’ll get you,” she prophesied, “and he’ll court you
divinely. . . . It’s plain that he doesn’t like me, but I like and
admire him in spite of it. . . . And you know lots of women go right
along with their careers after marriage.”

I didn’t answer that, but I did know that if I ever did marry, my first
thought would be to follow, as nearly as I could, the fine career my
Mother had had and to make my husband as comfortable and as happy as
Mother had made Father. For I feel that that should come first.

“I wish you wouldn’t,” I said, sharply, after we had gone in the cool,
dim corridor, “I don’t want to have to think about it yet.”

“Sorry,” she said. And I said I was sorry I had been cross. Then the
Pension door opened again, and Leslie, followed by a tall, bronzed
man, came in. I liked his looks, and I was reassured for him, after I
met him, for he had something of Leslie’s manner--an almost lordly,
commanding, I-want-what-I-want-when-I-want-it-and-I-intend-to-get-it
air. I think a good many people who have had _too_ much money and have
been able to issue _too_ many orders get that. But if Leslie was going
to marry him--and I found soon she was--I knew he would need it.

He stayed for dinner and was very charming to every one, but most
charming to Leslie and after he left, Leslie came to my room to talk.

“Well?” she questioned from the doorway.

“I like him,” I answered, as she came toward me.

“I love him,” she said, and she said it as sensibly and openly as I had
ever heard her say anything, “and,” she continued, “he is going to let
me marry him.”

I laughed, and she joined me.

“It isn’t a joke,” she stated after a moment.

“I know it,” I answered.

“He said he had been worried ever since that New York visit, over
hurting me,” she went on, “and that, when I dismissed him, he realized
he had been stupid in not knowing before that I had grown up. And he
said, when he realized I was grown up, that he suddenly began to care
for me in a different way. And you know how I feel--”

(She fumbled for a pink linen handkerchief, wiped her eyes and then
blew her nose)

“And when I told him I’d cried over him, it almost killed him, but--he
liked it,” she ended.

I knew he would have liked it, because men all do thoroughly enjoy
hearing about women who cry because they love them (the men) which
seems funny when you consider that, if the same men see them cry, they
almost have a fit and are _far_ from comfortable. But, as I read in
some book, Life is one vast riddle.

“I’m very happy,” said Leslie, as she stood up. And I said I was very
glad and that I hoped she would keep on being so even after she was
married and settled down. And she said she expected to, and then she
said, in a quick, remembering way, “Oh--” and brought out an unstamped
note that was addressed to me by Miss Sheila.

“Ben brought this,” she said, “I think from New York; anyway he saw
Aunt Sheila somewhere--” and then she left, and I, alone, read the
note, which held surprising and nice news for me.



Miss Sheila was at the Convent of San Girolamo, which is a hospital
that is managed by nuns, at Fiesole. And she had written me about her
plan to go there before the ship landed.

    “I was very stupid and caught a little cold,”

(I saw in her pretty hand. Later I found out that she had come as close
to pneumonia as any one can!)

    “and the ship’s doctor thinks I should rest a little while.
    So I am going to San Girolamo where I spent a few happy weeks
    when I was a girl and half ailing, and you, dear child, must
    come to see me there. I am going to ask you not to tell Leslie
    I am here just now. I am very much ashamed to confess it, but
    the idea of much chatter appals me. Ben--who I imagine may see
    her!--has promised to keep quiet until I am myself, and ready
    to join in all the fun. And then--some parties!

    “Meanwhile, my dear, only your quiet, small self, and I hope
    I shall see you soon--Friday? You need not let me know if you
    can’t come then, but if you can, be assured of a warm welcome
    from your


Of course I went, and as soon as I saw Miss Sheila I knew why she
was afraid of noise, for it was easy to see that she had been really
sick. She was quite as pretty as ever, but her skin looked too
transparent and it flushed too easily, and I noticed that small beads
of perspiration stood out on her smooth forehead and short upper lip,
simply from the little exertion and excitement of seeing me. As soon as
I noticed that, I talked, very slowly and steadily, about the valley
that lay below us, and I didn’t look at her until, after a silence, she

“Jane--you are rather a marvelous child, do you know it? And a great
comfort. You have what made your mother the best nurse I have ever
known, a great deal of real _understanding_.”

Well, I didn’t agree with her, and I knew she was too kind, but I _did_
have enough understanding of her stretched, weak, shaky feeling to
know that it wasn’t the time to say--as Leslie or Viola would--“How
perfectly _sweet_ of you! I am _enchanted! Nothing_ could please me
more! But _why_ did you say that? _Won’t_ you explain?”

Instead I said “Thank you,” which may have given the impression that
I accepted all she said--however, that didn’t matter; the thing that
mattered was getting her to sit back in her deck chair and lose her
wound up feeling and really rest.

“How is it going?” she asked, after I had asked the name of a big
monastery that lay about half way down the hill below us.

“Very well,” I answered, “Mother wrote me that the music committee of
the Presbyterian Church are going to employ a substitute until I come
back; that they told Daddy I was really engaged. And Signor Paggi is
going to see that I have some lessons from an organist here to freshen
me up--I took organ lessons at home, you know--and no end of people
tell Mother that they are going to take lessons from me, and it’s all
very satisfactory, and so wonderful that sometimes I can’t believe it
is true!”

Miss Sheila smiled at me, said a warm, “Dear _child_!” and then I could
feel her draw into a shell. I think that she was afraid I would try to
thank her for all that she’d done, and that she wasn’t equal to it. So
I said, very quickly, “It’s a nice day, isn’t it?” and she answered
with relief.

Then a sweet-faced sister came toward us between the rose bushes which
made a narrow path of the terrace up to the open spot where we sat.
She carried a cup of chocolate for Miss Sheila, and she wanted to get
one for me, but I wouldn’t let her. Then she said, “Drink this, dear,”
to Miss Sheila; asked if she were tired, looked at me searchingly, and
then smiled and gave my shoulder a little pat, and went off in her
gentle, smooth way.

“They are so kind,” said Miss Sheila, “and sometimes I think that this
is the most beautiful spot in the world.”

I didn’t blame her for thinking so, (though her thinking so confessed
that she hadn’t seen Mr. Wake’s garden) for the place is most lovely.
It is, in some way connected with Cosimo I, it is said, and the Medici
coat of arms is to be found around in different spots. It is a very old
building, and it is, like everything else on the hillside, perched on
the slant with all its lovely gardens planted on steps. And down below
spreads out the country with little blazing yellow roadways, and pink
and tan villas, and groves of gentle green olive trees, and a church
and monastery that often send up the soft sound of bells. . . . And of
course the sunshine spreads over everything like a gold mantle, and the
little grey-green olive leaves shimmer under every small breeze that
comes along, and sometimes the song of a peasant girl rises. . . . And
of course there were rose leaves scattered on the terraces--blown from
this or that bush--and the scents of many flowers in the warm soft air.

I can’t describe it, but some day some one will describe it, and then
he will be able to build a villa that is richer and prouder and larger
than another one that the Medicis built out near Fiesole--the one where
Queen Victoria often visited--for a real description would make a real

“You like it, don’t you!” asked Miss Sheila, after she had drunk the
chocolate and eaten the small biscuit, and I had set her cup down on
the soft, short grass. I nodded. It is hard for me to _say_ I like
things when I do like them very much.

“It has changed you,” said Miss Sheila, “there is a new light in your
eyes; the light of dreams, I think--and now tell me about things, your
friends, your work, and Signor Paggi--” and I did.

Of course I had to mention Mr. Wake, and each time I did I faltered and
grew conscious, although there was no reason for my doing this, since
Miss Sheila had not known Terrence Wake, but a boy who was Terrence

He came up quite naturally through my hopes for Miss Meek, and Mr.
Wake’s plan for Mr. Hemmingway--he was going to let Mr. Hemmingway
stay in his villa for the summer months, which would be a great treat
for any one and heaven for a man who had lived for years in a dull
pension--and through his befriending Sam, who was doing so well, and
promising to do much more than well.

“How kind your Mr. Wake must be,” said Miss Sheila.

“He is,” I answered.

“I’d like to meet him,” she said.

“He’s dreadfully shy,” I responded, after that kind of a hard swallow
that rasps and scratches as it goes down.

“Heavens, and earth! No man ought to be afraid of an old woman like
me!” Miss Sheila mused.

“You aren’t old,” I put in, and almost sharply. “You have a prettier
skin than I have, and as Leslie said, your silver hair simply adds a
note of ‘chic.’”

Miss Sheila laughed. “That sounds like Leslie,” she commented, and
that led her to change the subject, for which I was grateful. “Odd, my
coming over with Ben Forbes, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, wasn’t it?”

“Nice man, really. Has something of the Grand Commander manner,
but--he’ll need it. Splendid arrangement I honestly think. . . . I want
to meet your Sam.”

“I want you to meet him. But he’s not mine,” I answered.

“But I hope you’ll marry some time,” said Miss Sheila. “Go home and
work a few years if you like, dear, but if you care for any one, and
any one cares for you, don’t let any one, or anything stand between
you; it doesn’t pay.” She paused a moment. “But,” she continued after
this little interval, “if love doesn’t come, I think that a profession
to which you really belong, and a work that would expand through your
own effort, and so grow more interesting to you all the time--I think
that this would be a good insurance against loneliness.”

I looked at her quickly as she spoke of loneliness. She was staring off
down below where there was a two wheeled, peasant cart lumbering up a
winding hill road; but I felt that she didn’t see that, nor even hear
the shrill, protesting squeaks that came from the unoiled hubs; and for
that moment she came as close to looking tired and faded as I had ever
seen her look.

“Sometimes,” she stated, in the crisp way she occasionally spoke,
“being an old maid is a _lonely_ business; especially when one is half
ill, Jane, and would like a man to tiptoe into the room and knock over
the waste basket, and get off a muffled ‘Damn,’ and poke the smelling
salts at you, and then wheeze out a loudly whispered, ‘Feeling _any

Her picture made me smile, but it made me feel _very_ sad for her, and
it all did seem so useless, when down the hill, not half a mile, Mr.
Wake was so lonely, too! But of course I could do nothing about it.

After about an hour with Miss Sheila that day, I stood up, and said I
guessed I’d better be going, and Miss Sheila said “Oh, no, dear!” But I
insisted, and so she kissed me, and I went off, to pause at the end of
that rose sheltered terrace and wave back at her. Then I went through
the rest of the garden, and past the little chapel where a sweet-faced
young girl knelt before the altar--she was about to take the vows, I
heard later--and out through the gate and down the very long, wide,
shady stone steps that are guarded on either side by tall cypress trees
which, there, seemed like sentinels.

Then--up a little hill to the Piazza at Fiesole, which was wild with a
high, hot breeze, and there I took the car that clanged its way down
the hillside into sultry Florence.

That day began my visiting Miss Sheila, and I went up to Fiesole by
myself four times in the next two weeks, and then again with Viola, and
Leslie and Ben Forbes--who seemed to linger on--and it was on that last
afternoon that Miss Sheila said, “Bother! Why didn’t I think of Sam!
I wanted to meet him, and you knew it, Jane! Why didn’t you speak of
asking him to-day?”

I hadn’t thought that she would want him, and I said so, for I had
supposed that the party was to be sort of a family affair because of
Leslie’s and Ben’s engagement.

“Well,” said Miss Sheila, “no matter. Bring him up Sunday afternoon.”

Sunday was a beautiful day in spite of the fact that there was no air
stirring and a feeling of weight over everything. Leslie said she knew
it would rain--she was angry over it, because she and Ben had planned
to motor in the Cascine and then out somewhere in the country--but
I said I thought it wouldn’t, _without_ rapping on wood; and as I
may have said before, it never hurts to rap on wood, whether you are
superstitious, or not. But I didn’t. Instead, I placed my entire trust
in Fate and put on a white lawn dress and the hat I had bought at the
Mercato Nuovo which I had trimmed with some flowers that cost very

At one I started out with Sam, for he had asked me to go somewhere and
have lunch with him before we started up to the Convent on the hillside.

We had a good time over our lunch--which we had in the coolest and most
shadowed outdoor café we could find--and Sam ordered the green macaroni
which is manufactured in Bologna--and some cold chicken and a salad,
and some wine of course, and then a sweet that is very famous in Rome,
and wonderfully good. And as we ate we talked the way we always do,
which is hard.

Then we stood up, and I brushed the crumbs from my lap, and told Sam
that he had a piece of green macaroni on the lapel of his coat, and
after that we started toward the Piazza del Duomo, walking slowly and
keeping on the shady side of the deep, narrow streets.

In the Piazza Sam bought me a little bunch of blue flowers which were
combined with yellow daisies, and I slipped these in under my broad
sash, and after that we took the car and began our ride up to Fiesole.

“I’m awfully keen to meet Miss Parrish,” said Sam, “because you like
her so. She isn’t like her niece, is she?”

“Oh, no!” I answered quickly, “not at all!”

“Does she believe in careers for women and all that sort of rot?”
asked Sam, as a fat woman who carried a baby and was followed by five
children and a poodle dog, got on.

“No,” I answered, and then I told him what Miss Sheila had advised.

“Going to take her advice?” asked Sam, and he turned in the seat and
leaned way over me until he could see under the brim of my broad hat.

“I don’t know,” I answered, although I did, all suddenly and at that

“_Don’t_ you?” he repeated, “Oh, _Jane_!”

And he looked so miserable--he really did--that I said I did know. And
then I looked out of the window, although there wasn’t much to see just
at that point except a tan stucco wall, with pink and blue tiles set in

“You’re too young to bother,” said Sam, as he plaited the end of my
sash which I had been careful not to sit on because I didn’t want it
crushed, “but when you get along to the age when I _dare_ court you,
I’ll tell _you_--” he drew a deep breath--“_Well_, you’ll see!” he
ended, in a half threatening way.

I didn’t answer that.

“And if I hear of your _looking_ at anybody else,” he went on, “I’ll
come over and fill him up with buckshot.”

That made me laugh.

“It’s no joke,” he said quickly, “I’m miserable over--your going
off--and when I think that some one else may _make_ you like him--oh,
the dickens of a lot--well, then I can’t--I simply can’t see

“I won’t look at anybody,” I promised, “until you come--”

It seemed to please him. In fact it seemed to please him so much that
I had to remind him that we were in a street-car and that people might
think it strange to see him kiss my hand--for he did that--but he said
he didn’t give two hundred darns what they thought, and he asked me
again if I meant it, and I knew I did, and I said I did; and he said,
“Well, then, what’s two years?” and he slipped a funny, old hand-made
ring with a garnet setting, that he had always worn, over my finger,
and I let it stay there.

Then we reached Fiesole, and the woman who carried a baby, called
her five children and the poodle dog, and they got off and the other
passengers, all in Sunday dress, followed, and then Sam and I.

Miss Sheila met us at the head of the long, broad, cool, shady steps.

“Hello, Sam,” she said in her dear way, “I’m glad to see you--”

He bowed, and she said suddenly, “You _are_ a nice boy,” and, after
he smiled and flushed and thanked her, she added, “I was afraid you
weren’t nice _enough_--”

And then I felt myself grow pink.

“Children,” she said, after that, “I want you to come in and wait until
I get on my hat, and then walk with me. Will you, or have you been
walking and are you tired?”

I said we weren’t and that it would be fine, and Sam echoed it and
Miss Sheila put in a quick, “Good!” and turned and hurried toward the

“Isn’t she beautiful, and lovely?” said Sam.

“_Isn’t_ she?” I answered.

“By jings,” he went on, “I wish Mr. Wake would come meet her. . . . Why
won’t he? He got all rattled the other day when Leslie asked him to
call on Miss Sheila with her--said he couldn’t talk to women, all that
sort of rot, and you know he’s always simply tip-top--wonder--”

“Look here, Sam,” I said, “I can’t tell you, but--”

And then Miss Sheila came back and put an end to my explaining nothing
to Sam, and at the same time asking him not to press the matter of Mr.
Wake’s meeting Miss Sheila.

She looked as pretty as I had ever seen her look. She had on a lavender
voile dress that had frilly collars and cuffs on it and a broad low
sash, and she had on her head a drooping hat of the most delicate pink
shade with bunches of lilacs trailing from it, and the combination was

“Ready,” she said with a smile, “and whither?”

I suggested going up to the Roman theater and baths, but Sam, who was
that afternoon so light hearted that he was almost silly, said he’d had
a bath only about two hours before, and Miss Sheila said she’d had one
only a few minutes before, and that she preferred walking down hill.

“But you’ll have to walk back,” I said, for I didn’t want to get _near_
Mr. Wake’s house!

“Not until the sun’s lower,” said Sam.

“And then we could ride,” said Miss Sheila.

“Exactly Mr. Wake’s spirit,” said Sam. “She ought to know him, now
oughtn’t she, Jane?”

I could do nothing with him. He acted just exactly as Daddy does
when we have guests and Mother tries to head him off with a little
kick under the table. He always looks at her, and says, “Did you kick
me, my dear? Forgotten to serve some one, or something? Let me see!”
which makes it all the worse, because almost always at that point, he
is serving everything in the dish to one person, or telling a story
he tells about a quick remarriage--to the guest who is remarried. I
imagine most men are like that.

Anyway, Sam talked--no, he did what Leslie would have called “raved”
about Mr. Wake, and Miss Sheila listened and questioned and wanted more.

“His books,” she said, “are delightful. . . . Little phrases in them
make me think of some one I knew years ago. . . . And his kindness to
Jane has made me like him, too. Did you say his place is out this way?”

“I did,” Sam answered, “and mighty good luck it is, too,” he added,
“for it’s going to pour--come on--”

“We’re quite as near the convent,” I put in, in a manner that must have
been agonized.

“But that’s up hill--” said Miss Sheila, and then she and Sam began to
hurry so fast that it was all I could do to keep up with them, and I
hadn’t a chance to say a word.

“Sam,” I gasped as we neared Mr. Wake’s wall, and big, far-apart drops
of rain began to fall, “_Sam!_”

“What’s up?” he asked.

“Oh, everything!” I answered, “and you’re just acting like a _fool_,
Sam--we _can’t_ go in!”

But Miss Sheila had pulled the bell cord that hung outside of the gate,
and before it was opened the rain came down in such torrents that we
were drenched.

“Mr. Wake’s in town,” said Sam to me, in an aside.

“Why didn’t you _say_ so?” I snapped.

And then the gate opened.



The gate was opened by Mr. Wake--who had just come _back_ from
town--and was as wet as we were.

I felt my heart stop a beat and then treble its pace, and I swallowed
hard although there was no real necessity for it. And as for saying a
word! I couldn’t have gotten out a “Boo” so that any one would have
understood it!

“Hello,” said Sam, after he had sent a petitioning look at me, that
asked me as plainly as day, to introduce them, “Hello! Glad you’re
here! . . . Miss Parrish, may I present to you our patron saint, Mr.

_Then_ I think Sam began to see that something unusual was up, for they
stood looking at each other--those two he’d wanted to have meet--and
they didn’t say a word. It was a queer moment which seemed very long,
that moment when we all stood in the hard driving, swirling rain,

Miss Sheila broke it, and she did it by holding out her hand, and
saying, “Well, Terry?” and there was a funny little twisted smile on
her pretty lips and the smile didn’t seem miles away from tears.

And then Mr. Wake put his hand out, in an uncertain, groping sort of
way, and then he said, “_Sheila!_” And I don’t think he knew he said
it, but she did, for the color came flooding back into her cheeks that
had been pale, and tears stood in her eyes.

There wasn’t very much to _tell_ about in that moment; you can’t _tell_
about a sunset very well. You can say that the clouds were pink and
gold, and that the sky was full of silver streaks, and a misty purple
haze, but you can’t make the other person see it. You don’t usually do
anything but bore him, and when you try to describe the thing that was
so beautiful, the listener usually says, “I love the outdoors. Nature
for me every time! Hear about the way Babe Ruth batted ’em out Thursday
in Brooklyn?” or something like that which shows you that you have
utterly failed to get your description across the plate. And because
of that I hesitate to try to make others see what I saw in Mr. Wake’s
garden that stormy day. I can only _report_ the pink and the gold, and
the misty purple and the silver streaks, and do that badly. But oh,
they were so very, very beautiful!

When Mr. Wake spoke he said, “You--haven’t changed--” and he did it
between two gulps and after a deep breath.

Miss Sheila, who covered her feelings more easily than Mr. Wake, said
“Nonsense, I have gray hair, and wrinkles--”

“No--” Mr. Wake shook his head. “No--” he said again.

She smiled at him, and her lips quivered.

“You,” she said, “can still say pretty things, can’t you?”

“To you, Sheila,” he answered, and then I thought that Sam and I ought
to move on. I said so in an aside to Sam, who was acting as if he were
sitting in an aisle seat and twisting his program into funny shapes
while he waited--in great suspense--for the hero to get the girl just
before the drop of the last curtain. I think men are much too natural
at times, and that was one of them.

After I had touched Sam’s arm, and frowned at him, and said, “_Come
on_,” in a sibilant whisper, we went up to the house, and into the big,
living hall and stood there to drain.

“Gosh,” said Sam, after I had taken off my hat and was wiping poppy
stains from my face--my hat was ruined; the colors of my cheap flowers
had run from the rain. . . . “Gosh, wasn’t that simply _great_! My
gosh, did _you see his face_?”

“Naturally,” I said, because I was so worked up and excited that it
made me feel snappish.

“Well, you needn’t be cutting,” said Sam as he tiptoed over to a window
from which he could see Miss Sheila and Mr. Wake, who were about a
block away down by the garden gate. “My soul,” he commented, after he
had looked out, “I’ll say that’s quick work! Didn’t know he had it in
him--_great hat_!”

“You shouldn’t spy on them, it isn’t fair,” I stated as I joined him.
But we did look for a moment more, at those two people who stood
outdoors, under the savage assaults of that raging storm, but who
felt--I’m certain--as if they were favored by the happiest skies of a
clear June day.

“Come on, Sam,” I ordered and turned.

“Gosh ding it,” he asked as he followed me (“Gosh ding it” is his most
intense expression), “wasn’t it _wonderful_?”

“Um hum--” I murmured.

“Are you soaked, dear?”

“A little damp,” I admitted.

“I’ll get Maria to make us some tea,” said Sam, “and I’ll take you up
to Mr. Wake’s room, and you can shed that once-perky, now depressed
frock and put on one of his dressing gowns. And then come down, and
we’ll toast you up before the fire I make while you change--”

“All right,” I agreed.

“This way, dear--” he said then, and I went with him up a twisting
stairs that had a wrought-iron balustrade, over which was growing a
vine that had its feet in a brick colored jardiniere. . . . It was a
very, very pretty house, and more than that. It was built for comfort
too. There were soft, deep low chairs all around, and ash trays on tiny
tables, and magazines, and books--hundreds of books in every room--I
kept thinking of how Miss Sheila would like it.

After I had taken off my dress, and hung it over the only chair in
the room that wouldn’t be hurt by moisture, I put on the dark green
dressing gown that Sam had laid out for me, and went down stairs
again--holding the robe up around me, for of course it was miles long
for me, and it made me go carefully for fear I would trip.

Sam had two chairs before the big fireplace, and in this a few sticks
were burning. When he saw me, he laughed, and I laughed too, and then
we settled. Maria came in with a tray that had on it an orange china
tea set, that looked very pretty on that dull, gray day, and there were
yellow flowers tucked into each napkin, and she had orange cake, and
mayonnaise and egg sandwiches to eat with our tea, and so the color
scheme was quite perfect.

After I had eaten three sandwiches and was about to begin on another--I
wasn’t very hungry, it hadn’t been long since lunch--I spoke. “Sam,” I
said, “don’t you think some one ought to tell them it’s raining?”

“Not by a good deal!” he answered, as he poured himself some fresh tea.
“They’ll get on to it sometime, all by themselves--”

“Miss Sheila’s been sick,” I added. I was a little bit worried, but Sam
answered that he thought the soaking wouldn’t hurt her, and it didn’t,
and he added the statement that he didn’t _believe_ Mr. Wake would be
grateful for any interruption just then.

Then we were quiet a minute as we watched the spluttery little fire
leap and die down, and then leap all over again. I twisted my new ring
as I sat there, for it seemed strange--as well as nice--to wear it.

“Think,” I said, I was referring to Miss Sheila and Mr. Wake--“how long
it can last--”

Sam moved his chair closer.

“Yes--” he said, in an undertone, “think of it--”

Then one of the long, French windows opened, and the wettest person I
have ever seen came in, and she was followed by another one.

“Tea,” said Miss Sheila, “how very nice--” and her voice shook on every
single word.

And then Mr. Wake said, “Ah, yes, tea!” just as if he had recently
discovered the plant and the use for it.

“Have some,” I said, “and Miss Sheila, you’d better go put on one
of Mr. Wake’s dressing gowns; he has a lavender one that would be
beautiful on you--”

“What wouldn’t?” asked Mr. Wake.

“If you think she’s pretty _now_,” I said, “You just wait until she has
dried off!”

“Dear, foolish child,” murmured Miss Sheila as she took off her
entirely limp hat and ran her fingers through her hair which was
kinking up in funny little curls all over her head.

Then she sat down on a lounge that stood to one side of the fire, and
Mr. Wake sat down by her, and kept looking at her, and looking at her,
and looking at her.

“Children,” said Miss Sheila, “I have a long story for you. . . .
Once upon a time there were two foolish young people who were proud
and stubborn, and who trusted the mails of Uncle Sam. . . . And they
quarreled badly; and the man wrote but the young lady never got the
letter, and the young lady--after long months that were filled with
chastening and pride-shattering heartbreak--wrote the young man, but,
ah, me, he had changed his name--”

“Just as you are going to change yours,” said Mr. Wake, and Miss Sheila
laughed and nodded.

“And so,” said Miss Sheila, “the fates kept them apart, and her hair
turned gray--”

“And he grew a tummy,” I put in, and Miss Sheila laughed again.

“And they were both lonely,” said Mr. Wake, “so miserably lonely; you
_were_, Sheila?”

And she said, “Oh, Terry, I--” and then she remembered Sam and me, and

“Well?” I questioned.

“Well,” said Miss Sheila, “one fine day the lonely lady who had once
been a happy girl grew so very lonely that she could not stand still,
and so she met two nice children at a convent gate, and she said,
‘Let’s walk--’ and they looked at each other and smiled--and the way
they smiled made her more lonely than ever--and they said ‘Yes,’ and so
they all started down a hill--”

“And then,” said Mr. Wake, “an old chap who had been down to Florence,
and had gotten his favorite gray suit so wet that he didn’t think that
it would ever come back to shape, heard the tinkle of the bell of his
gate and said, ‘The devil,’ because he was half way up to the house and
everything had tried him that day anyway. But he turned back, and he
opened the gate, and he found--heaven!”

Then I _knew_ that Sam and I should move!

“Sam,” I said, “may I see the picture that you’re working on now?”

“Yes,” Sam answered, and we stood up.

It made us both very happy to leave those two dear people whom we loved
so well, and who had been lonely, there together.



The end of May! And all over again I felt the excitement that comes
with a journey, for I was started for Genoa on the twenty-fifth with
Miss Meek to see that I got aboard the White Star ship safely, and Sam
to see that Miss Meek and I weren’t bored.

Miss Bannister had gone to England, and Leslie had gone to join her
Mother in Paris where they were to buy a trousseau that would be worn
on a ranch for the benefit of one man and a one-eyed Chinese cook
who could spit eight feet! And Viola had started out with her Madame
Heilbig, who had suddenly decided to tour Switzerland and some of
the Italian cities that are popular in summer--the lake and seashore
points. _Mr. and Mrs. Wake_ had started out in a smart tan motor one
morning, after a little wedding in the American Church--and we didn’t
know where they were, and Mr. Hemmingway had taken up residence in Mr.
Wake’s villa.

In spite of the scattering, however, I had a few people to see me off,
and to wish me everything good.

Miss Julianna, who cried, stood by me in the station saying that she
knew that God and the Virgin would see that I was happy because I
should be, which I thought _so_ kind; and Mr. Hemmingway, who had come
all the way to town, stood near with a bouquet that he had picked for
me, trying _so_ hard to remember when he had first seen Genoa--but he
_couldn’t_ fasten it. Miss Meek, who was to join her Italian family in
June, stood close with Sam saying, “My eye, how I’ll miss the jolly
flapper!” And altogether it was warming, but it made my throat lump
too, the way that things that are too warming sometimes do.

Then the horn sounded, and every one said good-by to me, and I kissed
them all, including Mr. Hemmingway, who wiped his eyes and blew his
nose as he said good-by. Then Miss Meek, and Sam and I followed our
facchino down the platform and went through the gates that took us to
our train. We got a compartment that was rather crowded because it had
one Englishman in it, and they travel with enough scenery for an Uncle
Tom’s Cabin Company; but, after he had moved his portable bath and his
camp stool and his tea basket, there was enough room for us, and we all
settled and began to have a very nice time.

My heart ached as we went out of Florence, and I couldn’t look back. I
loved it so.

“You’ll be coming back on the run one of these fine days,” said Miss
Meek, who seemed to feel all I felt.

“I _hope_ so,” I said.

“And how could you help it, with your friends up the Fiesole way? Mr.
Wake told me that you were going to visit them out there within a year
or so. Told me so when he arranged for me to take you to Genoa and put
you on the boat, don’t you know--”

“Well, that’s awfully nice,” I said, and Sam said he thought so too.

Then--the flying landscape.

White oxen dragging creaking carts. . . . Little clusters of houses in
pastel tones. . . . White roads that circled terraced hills and groves
of olive trees.

“Of course,” I said, “I want to see my people--” and I did want to, so
much that my eyes filled as I thought of it.

“Of course,” said Miss Meek.

“But it is hard to leave friends, isn’t it?” I added.

And Miss Meek nodded. Sam put his hand over mine then, and then Miss
Meek seemed to drowse.

The journey was very short. I cannot remember a shorter seeming one,
though it does take over five hours. Baedecker says “The view of the
Mediterranean beyond Pisa is sadly marred by the frequent tunnels.”
There are over ninety of them; Sam helped me count them. Before I knew
it we had had our lunch and had settled back again, and then we were in
the city that is proud of Columbus, whose statue stands in one of the
public squares on the hillsides, and is surrounded with tall, spikey,
sharp palm trees.

Out in the bay my ship was moored, and I was to go on it that night so
that Miss Meek and Sam might go back to Florence. I didn’t want to.
I had to think of mother very hard to keep from crying. It is really
complicated to love several countries and many friends, for it makes so
much tugging and not a little hurt.

I said that just before I said good-by.

Then Sam, who had been coughing quite a little, and always before he
spoke, asked me if I had my tickets, and I said--for the fortieth time
anyway--that I had, and Miss Meek said, “Look at the birds circling
around the ship. Jolly, what?”

“They follow it,” I said.

“A lot will follow that ship,” said Sam.

And then Miss Meek kissed me, and Sam said, “Look here, dear, if you
can kiss Mr. Hemmingway, I guess you might take a chance on me?”

And I said I guessed so, and I kissed him. And Miss Meek wiped her
eyes, and kept saying, “No end jolly, a sea trip, don’t you know?”

And I said, “Yes,” and I kept my hand in Sam’s, and Sam didn’t say
anything. But he did _look_ quite a lot of things.

And then somehow, I was on board, and alone, and at last in my
stateroom which I was to share with an American woman from Florence who
was going home to visit her mother.

It was honestly a relief to have the good-bys over. And after I took
off my hat and coat, and had hung up the things from my suitcase in a
half of the small cupboard, I got out the book that the choir had given
me before I left. It is a very nice book made of puffy leather, and it
has “My Trip Abroad” written across it in gold letters, and of course I
had written in it, because that was what was expected.

I opened it and read:

    “The Madonna of the Chair is in the Pitti Gallery, and it is by
    Raphael. The Gallery is very big. It took Sam and me four hours
    to go through it.”

Below this:

    “Sam and I walked to-day, up near Fiesole, and we saw the Villa
    Medici where the Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles visited
    Lady Sybil Scott, at the end of their honeymoon. It is a lovely
    place. It seems to be so nice that they could be there.”

Then--over the page--I found a note about the Riccardi Palace.

    “There is a picture in the chapel of the Riccardi Palace,” I
    had written, “that was painted by candle light by a man named
    Gozzoli, who has been dead for several years. It is a fine
    picture and has lots of gold in it and the portraits of the
    Medicis who lived in the palace. Sam and I went down near the
    Arno and bought buns after seeing it, which was very inspiring.”

On the next page I had an item about the twins, who were better, and
a note about the tombs of the Medicis and a new tie I had helped Sam
to buy. I was very glad I kept that record. I knew that it would be
helpful. After I had looked at it until I saw all Florence through it,
and Florence was beginning to blur and wiggle because of something
that crept from my heart up into my eyes, I went up on deck and looked
off toward Genoa which lay, in a tangle of many gentle colors, against
the hill. . . . And I took a long, long look at this bit of Italy--the
Italy I loved so very much.

I knew that somewhere that day, my Miss Sheila--I still called her
that--and Mr. Wake were touring along through pretty country; together,
after the long years apart.

And I knew that Leslie, and Viola, and Miss Bannister and Miss Meek,
and Mr. Hemmingway were happy.

And I knew that Sam was miserable. And it sounds strange to say, but
that helped me as much as anything.

Then I looked at the birds that were flying in wide arcs around the
ship, the birds that followed it. . . . And I knew that Sam was right
in saying that other things would go along with me. . . . And I needed
them, although I needed, more than anything just then, my Mother. . . .
And I needed her because of Sam Deane, which I can’t explain.

I fumbled in my pocket, and I found her letter, and a little piece of
paper that had been torn from the edge of a newspaper, on which Sam had

“Dear, dear Jane Jones,” and then, all in a hurried tangle, “I love
you!” (Sam had written this while Miss Meek dozed and an Italian
officer who was smoking outside in the corridor, looked in at us)

For a fraction of a second I felt more miserable than I ever had
before, and then a warm breeze sprung up and it seemed to fan a warm,
let down, easy feeling into me. And after that I looked down in the
water, and in it I saw the front door of our house, and the porch which
slants toward the steps, and my own Mother in the doorway, smiling and
trying not to cry and Roberta back of her. . . . And the twins jumping
up and down by the gate, and shrilly screaming, “Mother, she’s _here_!
She’s _here_, Mother!”

And then I felt myself get out of Daddy’s flivver and hurry up the
walk. And I saw every one hugging and kissing me, and every one
crying. . . . I saw this, before it _ever_ happened, just as it really
was to be!

But I didn’t see the table as it was--which I knew would have on it all
the things I liked best to eat--for I didn’t forecast the _hothouse
roses_; I never _dreamed_ that Roberta would blow her allowance on
these when she could have picked them _right out in the garden_! But
it was all wonderful! Nor did I see the banner that the twins had made
that had


painted on it with shoe blackening--they had each ruined a dress
through this--nor did I dream that Elaine McDonald would send me an
angel cake!

But everything was nicer than I could imagine it would be!

I wondered, as I thought of my people and getting home, whether any
other girl was as lucky as I, and I decided that none could be. And
realizing how happy I was made me feel a little sad; humble, and
uncomfortably grateful, so I forgot it as soon as I could and tried to
feel natural.

And Sam’s smile--which I was to see a whole lot and which seemed to
belong with the things I loved--and my people, helped me to do this.


Transcriber’s Notes

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Variations
in hyphenation and accents have been standardised but all other
spelling and punctuation remains unchanged.

Italics are represented thus _italic_.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Modern Trio in an Old Town" ***