[Illustration: ACADEMY, FLORENCE.
“If you find anything about Cimabue and Giotto,” he added, “you would better read that also, for the work of these old painters will be the subject of our next lesson. For it, we will go to the church Santa Maria Novella.”
“And Santa Croce?” asked Barbara, more timidly than was her wont.
“And Santa Croce too,” smilingly added Mr. Sumner.
“And now, Malcom, if you can find a wide carriage, we all will drive for an hour before going home.”
A New Friend Appears.
first sound in the song of love
Scarce more than silence is, and yet a sound.
Hands of invisible spirits touch the strings
Of that mysterious instrument, the soul,
And play the prelude of our fate.
[Illustration: DUOMO AND CAMPANILE. FLORENCE.]
One day Malcom met an old fellow-student. Coming home, he told his mother of him, and asked permission to bring him for introduction.
“His name is Howard Sinclair. I did not know him very well in the school, for he was some way ahead of me. He is now in Harvard College. But his lungs are very weak; and last winter the doctors sent him to Egypt, and told him he must stay for at least two years in the warmer countries. He is lonely and pretty blue, I judge; was glad enough to see me.”
“Poor boy! Yes, bring him here, and I will talk with him. Perhaps we can make it more pleasant for him. You are sure his character is beyond question, Malcom?”
“I think so. He has lots of money, and is inclined to spend it freely, but I know he was called a pretty fine fellow in the school, though not very well known by many. He is rather ‘toney,’ you know,—held his head too high for common fellows. The teachers especially liked him; for he is awfully bright, and took honors right along.”
The next day Malcom brought his friend to his mother, whose heart he won at once by his evident delicate health, his gentlemanly manners, and, perhaps most of all, because he had been an orphan for years, and was so much alone in the world. She decided to welcome him to her home, and to give him the companionship of her young people.
Howard Sinclair was a young man of brilliant intellectual promise. He had inherited most keen sensibilities, an almost morbid delicacy of thought, a variable disposition, and a frail body. Both father and mother died before he was ten years of age, leaving a large fortune for him, their only child; and, since then, his home had been with an aged grandmother. Without any young companions in the home, and lacking desire for activity, he had given himself up to an almost wholly sedentary life. The body, so delicate by nature, had always been made secondary to the alert mind. His luxurious tastes could all be gratified, and thus far he had lived like some conservatory plant.