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intensely than ever that only amid such surroundings, and while following such fortunes, could she realize her most profound desires.

She believed in the dynamic force of an unfaltering ambition, in the power of the mind to alter physical states, attract prosperity, enrich the future. It was only necessary that one should expect success with perfect confidence. She recalled the career of Mary Garden, whose voice was said to be inferior to her determination. A long shudder ran through her body, as if freeing her person once for all of every indecision and foreboding. She was pervaded by an almost supernatural assurance, while the image of Mughetto, who had presumed to set a limit to her possibilities, dwindled and disappeared.

It would be necessary to find another teacher, able to perceive that sheer will power was going to efface her disabilities, as if she stood, believing, in the Grotto of Lourdes. Yet such a man was not discovered in a day, at least in Florence. Soon she might have to lead the Goodchild family to Milan, Paris, or Berlin.

And she resumed her practice. Indeed, she now worked so long that she was seldom ready to accompany her sisters on their evening walks.

One afternoon, while out walking with Thalia, Euphrosyne drew her sister past the Nobles' Club. There stood Lieutenant Olivuzzi in the doorway with three officers of his regiment. Solemnly he bowed, and would have let it go at that; but Frossie, summoning all her courage, hesitated and looked back. Lieutenant Olivuzzi was instantly beside them. She got out the words:

"You 're quite a stranger."
"Excoose, Signorina?"

"I say you 're quite a stranger at our house."

She repeated the sentence in her best Italian; Thallie echoed her in French. His lustrous eyes sent out a flash, his clear pallor was dashed with crimson, beneath his fierce little black mustaches his fine teeth glistened in a breathless smile. "You permit?"

"Why, of course. Very happy, I'm sure."

As he found nothing to say at once, and the silence was unbearable, she gave a meaningless, strained laugh.

"And now we must really be going," she stammered.

The absurdity of this remark was worst of all. But Lieutenant Olivuzzi did not seem to think so. He inclined his head, put into his farewell a wealth of admiration and respect, watched them till they turned into the Lungarno.

"Old Slyboots!" laughed Thallie, squeezing Euphrosyne's plump arm. When the other would have protested, she added, her voice suddenly all rich and warm, "But suppose I had a little boasting of my own to do?" And she poured out her story of the young man of the boat-deck.

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"But now I can hardly wait for you to see him," Thallie cried, meaning in her heart, "Now I can hardly wait for you to see how much more wonderful he is than any lieutenant."

Her impatience was soon gratified.

In the hall of the pension they found Cyril Bellegram huddled on a divan, sucking his empty pipe, staring before him resentfully. Some stranger, some mere caller, had preempted his bench beneath the palmetto! In fact, a young man was lounging out there now in an irritating state of nattiness and self-assurance, in cream-colored flannels and a widebrimmed panama of the finest texture, his rose-hued stockings rivaling the gardenplats, the smoke of his cigarette contaminating the aroma of the blossoms. It was Reginald Dux.

He had arrived the night before from Rome with Hector Ghillamoor. At this moment the latter was visiting an Italian friend near Quarto; but Reginald had been waiting in the garden for an hour. Now it was nearly dinner-time.

What prevented his dining at the pension?

"I was just waiting to be asked."

Aglaia appeared, and Mr. Goodchild. "Mr. Dux-from the ship, you know," Thalia explained demurely. She nudged Frossie as a hint to back her up, then sent Aglaia a swift look which said, "It 's he, the one I confessed about that night in Paris!"

"Welcome, young sir," cried Mr. Goodchild, taking the other's hand, and beaming. "The face is perfectly familiar. Wait a second! It was in the smokingroom on that memorable voyage!"

The pleasures and discomforts of that voyage, which they had shared, bound them together with the ties of strange adventure. Mr. Goodchild displayed such emotion as some old veteran of Jason's Argo might have shown on meeting, long afterward, one who had passed with him through the perils of mysterious seas, questing the Golden Fleece. "Yes, that was a trip to remember," he affirmed, his eyes turning toward the pink sky at recollection. "And did you see the whale that day? And did you suffer from that storm when we first set out from New York?" While Thallie and Frossie were up-stairs changing into dinner-frocks, he described in detail an invention by which he intended to make sea-sickness obsolete -a bed balanced by hydraulics, guarantied to maintain an equilibrium no matter how the ship behaved.

"That 's very interesting; but has n't it been tried?"

"Not properly."

They dined at eight. Cyril Bellegram was persuaded to join them. Mr. Goodchild ordered Chianti for his guests, and with the coffee, which was served beneath the palm-tree, a green cordial made in the monastery of Certosa. The girls sampled this liqueur and found it "rather like candy."

"You 've been all this while in Florence and never tried it before?"

Mr. Goodchild explained that his family did not feel the need of stimulants. The foreign custom of taking alcohol with meals was doubtless reasonable, because of climatic peculiarities; at home, he felt sure, there was no such necessity.

In

deed, American idealism had already realized this fact. Mr. Bryan was virtually a Prohibitionist; the secretary of the navy had forbidden fermented beverages on the war-ships. Aurelius predicted that in fifty years the United States would be entirely dry.

"Oh, well," cried Reginald Dux, raising his second glass of chartreuse, "by that time I'll be too old to care."

The three Graces found something manly in his recklessness.

His well-shaped head, covered with blond hair closely clipped, was held erect in the pose of one sure of his importance in whatever company. His slightly aquiline nose and drooping eyelids still suggested an aristocratic hauteur, but his sensitive mouth, always ready to curl upward at the corners, from time to time abated this effect. Nevertheless, one perceived that he was used to surroundings more luxurious than these. As the rattle of dishes was wafted from the kitchen, Thallie began to feel apologetic.

His rose-colored cravat was ornamented with a large pink pearl; his finger-ring was set with a cabochon ruby of unusual size; his shirt, of the finest silk, was woven with tiny, lustrous stripes of pink. Cyril Bellegram, even in his dinner-jacket, looked rusty by comparison. Aglaia, leaning forward, inquired:

"Do you expect to remain in Florence long?"

At that moment Lieutenant Olivuzzi appeared. Stiff, grave, correct in every gesture, he ushered forward a young man in a uniform identical with his- a young man with rat-tail mustaches, swarthy, bony, of an extraordinary ugliness, yet distinguishable at first glance as a person of good breeding.

"Lieutenant Fava of the Magenta Cavalry!"

Lieutenant Fava sat down beside Thallie, and all discussed the weather.

So warm for the end of September! Olivuzzi managed to announce that for the last three nights all Florence had sat panting in the piazzas, listening to the bands. Aurelius acknowledged:

"That's something we 've yet to do. I mean, take in the night life of the town."

"Is it possible! Why not this evening? We might go to the Café Marco."

Five minutes later they were on their

way.

They walked down the Lungarno. Mr. Goodchild tramped between Frossie and Thalia; Cyril Bellegram and Lieutenant Fava flanked that phalanx; the rear-guard -and how this had happened two of the three Graces did not know-was composed of Aglaia, Reginald, and Olivuzzi. Pedestrians took to the gutter amiably; eight pairs of feet struck the pavement in unison; some one began, in imitation of a bugle, the bersaglieri marching-tune.

They skirted the colonnades of the Uffizi, where the shapes of famous Florentines stared down like brooding wraiths. They passed through alleyways where shadows effaced half a dozen centuries. They arrived before the bright café; a babble of voices and violins gushed forth to them. They entered a long room, crowded, smoky, a-glitter with reflected lights.

A table had just been vacated near the band-platform. Waiters came running with more chairs. Frossie and Thallie exchanged a resolute glance. When all were seated, one saw, beside the latter, Reginald, and by the former, Olivuzzi. Aglaia, expressionless, sat between her father and Lieutenant Fava.

But there was one chair too many. "Ask them to leave it," called Mr. Goodchild, gaily. "Who knows but another friend may come along? Besides, according to the Hebrew cabala, the number nine would be more auspicious than the number eight."

"You 're superstitious, sir?"

"At any rate, many famous men have been so, even Pythagoras."

They ordered ices, beer in steins, vermuth and seltzer, syrups diluted with cold

water.

The waiters, their trays balanced high, moved through the smoke-clouds behind the close-packed heads. Everywhere appeared grotesque and classic profiles

cheeks distended with food, mustaches dripping beer, shaven lips in which the cigarettes were an anachronism. Here and there a group of dark-eyed women made one reflect that Italian charms were hardly intended for the modern costume. An old ragamuffin, beaked, withered, displaying the tusks and ear-rings of a brigand, shambled from table to table, croaking the praises of his basketful of oysters. Two fat fellows began to shout at each other across their glasses; strains from "Aïda" pierced the din; a crash of dishes resounded.

"It 's quieter at the Café Hirsch," remarked Aurelius, with a dazed smile. As no one heard him, he prepared to enter into the spirit of the hour.

Thallie's color was feverish; her eyes shone brilliantly; now and then a shivering laugh escaped her as Reginald, his elbow planted alongside of hers, whispered satirical comments on persons round about. Euphrosyne, on the contrary, was pale and serious. When Lieutenant Olivuzzi attempted a phrase, slowly, almost reluctantly, she turned her face toward his, and their mutual gaze was fused by an intense, questioning solemnity. Aglaia, catching Cyril Bellegram's eye, showed a rueful smile which seemed to say, "The garden would have pleased us better?" His response was not as warm as usual.

But in that pandemonium none could be staid for long. They made jokes that needed much translating before every one perceived the point. Fresh glasses appeared. Mr. Goodchild found a cigar between his fingers.

"Dad!"

"When in Rome, or, rather, in the Café Marco-"

He accepted a light, pursed his lips, blew a puff of smoke into the air, stared round him with a look half startled and half proud. His daughters watched him apprehensively.

"How odd! The taste is quite different from the smell."

Gradually a strange titillation penetrated Mr. Goodchild's brain, ran through his limbs, set his fingers and his toes to

tingling. The lights revolved; a black cloth seemed flapping in mid-air; cold winds fanned his brow, which was suddenly bedewed with moisture. He swallowed spasmodically.

"Dad, you put down that cigar this instant!"

"Some water!" gasped Mr. Goodchild. And while he was recovering his full senses, he muttered feebly: "As Epictetus says, 'Every faculty is dangerous to the weak and uninstructed.' I've had my first and last experience in dissipation!"

To divert all minds from this misfortune, Reginald placed a hard-boiled egg on the neck of a water-bottle in which a scrap of paper had been set burning. All at once the egg was sucked into the carafe! Shouts of "Bravo!" exploded from the surrounding tables; the waiter raised. his arms despairingly, and the old bandit, with a cry of amazement, let his oysters roll over the floor.

Just then they saw John Holland.

He was standing in the doorway, his tall, thick-set figure clad in tweeds, his rugged face, which had never been handsome, deeply tanned, his calm eyes scanning the crowd with their habitual look of sophistication mingled with a subtle sympathy. Aurelius, springing forward, seized upon his hand.

"What a pleasure!" And waving excitedly toward the empty chair, "See, we 've been keeping it for you!"

John Holland, after saluting the three Graces, took the ninth chair, and the circle was complete.

CHAPTER VIII

AGLAIA FINDS THAT WILL POWER CANNOT DO EVERYTHING

JOHN HOLLAND was quartered in the Hotel Alexandra, on the Arno, not far from the Pension Schwandorf. He had expected to be in Florence only a day or two, yet he was staying out the week. The Goodchild family proved more interesting than Mme. Bertha Linkow and the rest at Montecatini.

Late in the afternoon he entered the

pension, so familiar to all his senses with its coolness, its silences, its smells of antiquated stuffs; so prompt to evoke that melancholy which pervades a place where one has lived a different life and had another sort of thoughts. For a while, in the boudoir-office, he chatted with Mme. von Schwandorf of the past. Where was his old-time waiter? And the countess who had no change of dress, but flaunted a brave pair of diamond ear-rings? And the ancient lady in black bombazine who had danced with the last Emperor of France? Having learned that all were gone, remembering that he himself was nearly two decades advanced beyond those student-days, he strolled into the garden.

Aurelius was there. He had spent half the night perusing "The Six Cæsars" and "The History of Roman Literature." He was primed now for a score of learned arguments with Mr. Holland. "Did not Lucretius in his fifth book anticipate Darwin? Was the Saturnian meter of Latin or Etruscan origin? What was the real cause of Ovid's banishment?" But John Holland, in vacation-time, preferred to forget that he was a historian. Aurelius soon found himself telling of his life in Zenasville.

The three Graces appeared in the glass corridor.

They drew near, all fresh in their evening dresses, which clung to three forms unlike except in youth's free, supple movement. When they greeted the visitor, half diffident at his celebrity, half eager to be intimate with fame, the three faces, framed in three shades of red hair, were lifted toward his like so many blossoms, and a mingled fragrance, of simple sachets, of rich tresses, of almost adolescent corporeal purity, rejoiced his heart. When they were seated round the teatable, their poses all maintained a vague expectancy.

Cyril Bellegram came in, and Reginald Dux, and Olivuzzi, with Lieutenant Fava. Mr. Holland invited all of them to din

ner.

They drove to a restaurant in the suburbs, where tables were laid on a terrace

overlooking the wide country-side, where the white-haired proprietor recognized John Holland with a cry of pleasure, and the waiters began to run around like rabbits. Whatever the sisters ate was delicious; even the spaghetti seemed different from that of every day. Twilight fell; arc-lamps sputtered overhead; below the railing fireflies twinkled in the tree-tops; and from the horizon, sinking into obscurity beneath one long, horizontal strip of purple, an extraordinary wistfulness stole in to them. For a time they were silent. Afar, a clear voice soared to the warm notes of a love-song, and, still throbbing, was lost in the immensity of the night.

"It 's too late for nightingales," they repeated, with regret.

"But the moon will soon be rising."

The moon rose; Thallie's eyes turned to Reginald, and Olivuzzi's to Euphrosyne. Aglaia secretly considered Mr. Holland.

He leaned back in his chair. His large frame expressed repose and power. His face was composed as usual, but his eyes were softened, as much, it seemed, by sadness as by sympathy. He was watching Thallie, who, laughing while Reginald made jokes that smacked of vaudevilleshows, let her fair young shape lean toward the young man as a flower inclines itself toward the sun.

Next day John Holland came to the pension to say good-by.

"Going!" cried Mr. Goodchild in dis

may.

"Oh, I shall be back. Indeed, my work will keep me all winter in the neighborhood of Rome."

"That's different." And, a twinkle lighting up his faded eyes, "That permits me to go on living in anticipation."

John Holland bade the Graces farewell. When he came to Thallie, he said: "I don't think much of your Monsieur Alphonse Zolande. You 'll permit me to recommend another painting-teacher?" When he had done so, turning to Aglaia: "Mughetto, however, is excellent. I feel sure he'd do his best in any case, but I've

asked him to take a special interest in you." And to Frossie: "I ordered you some books on writing. You may find something in them, here and there, that has n't yet occurred to you." With one more kindly smile he left the Goodchild family at the gate; and the garden, even to Thallie, seemed like a place from which some fine expansive foliage had withdrawn its shelter.

But Thallie soon forgot Mr. Holland in wondering if Reginald would call that afternoon.

Nearly every day he appeared from the neighborhood of Quarto, where, with his friend Hector Ghillamoor, he was staying at the villa of a Baron di Campoformio. The latter, who had married an American, a cousin of the Ghillamoors, was now, in his early thirties, a widower. An ardent aviator, he possessed two aëroplanes. Since October had brought cooler weather, Hector Ghillamoor, at night playing cards and drinking in a pergola, in the daytime soaring high above the hills, was willing to stay on at the Villa Campoformio.

Reginald Dux was ready to remain near Florence for another reason.

Idle, with no intellectual hobbies, his mind was mind was often invaded by romantic thoughts. He enjoyed foreign travel, which meant to him smart hotels, brighteyed ladies from Latin and Slavonic countries, the possibility of "affairs." He dreamed at times of a tempestuous adventure with some grande amoureuse out of contemporary French fiction, whom he followed in reverie through half of Europe, and finally embraced on a marble terrace redolent of olea fragans bloom, preferably above the moonlit waters of Lake Como.

Of course he had found opportunity closer to his hand. There had been some indiscreet ladies of his own society, and the disclassed fellow-countrywomen living abroad, and actresses of a certain sort, and the sirens, with the pernicious freshness of extraordinary jungle orchids, who let their elaborate dresses trail through the press of gambling-casinos and along the esplanades of bathing-beaches. And

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