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EAR sunset, one day in early October, not too long ago for some of us to remember with distinctness, Mr. Foss, United States consul at Florence, Italy, took a cab, as on other days, to the Porta Romana. Here, where the out-oftown tariff comes into effect, he paid his man, and set out to walk the rest of the way, thus meeting the various needs he felt that for economy, he was a family man, with daughters to clothe, - that for exercise, his wife told him he was growing fat, and the need in general for an opportunity to think. He had found that walking aided reflection, that walking in beautiful places started the spring of apt and generous ideas. Though in his modest way a scholar, he was not as yet an author, but Florence had inspired him with the desire to write a book.
Just beyond the Roman Gate begins the long Viale dei Colli,-Avenue of the Hills, which climbs and winds, broad, shady, quiet, between lines of gardens and villas, occupied largely by foreigners, to the Piazzale, whence Michelangelo's boyish colossus gazes with a slight frown across Florence, outspread at his feet. Mr. Foss, as he mounted the easy grade and noted with a liking unabated after years
the pleasantness of each habitation glimpsed through iron railings and embowering green, thought how privileged a person should feel, after all, whose affairs involved residence in Italy.
But his mind from this point wandered to more perplexing subjects, and, absorbed, he hardly saw the posts of his own carriage gate; he passed unnoticing between his flower-beds, up his stone steps, and came to himself only when, rubbing the hands. he had just washed, he entered the diningroom and saw his wife.
"Where are the girls?" he asked even before kissing her, for the most casual eye must be informed by the blank look of the table that instead of being laid for half a dozen as usual, it was prepared for a meager two.
Mrs. Foss was fond of sitting in the dining-room, which had a glass door into the garden on the side farthest from the road. There she read her book while waiting for dinner-time and her husband. The good gentleman did not always come directly home from his office. He had the love of dropping into dim churches, of loitering on bridges, of fingering the junk in old shops, but he was considerately never late for dinner.
Copyright, 1916, by THE CENTURY CO. All rights reserved.