After an hour spent in the Bardi and Peruzzi Chapels, whose walls are covered with Giotto’s frescoes, the little group separated. Malcom, Margery, Barbara, and Bettina walked home along the Via dei Pinti, or Street of the Painters. While the others chatted, Barbara was unusually silent. She was thinking how much she had learned that morning, and exulted in the knowledge that there was not quite so vast a difference between herself and Miss Sherman as existed the last time they met in Santa Croce.
For Barbara had entered into the study of this subject with an almost feverish fervor of endeavor. Though she felt there was much to enjoy and to learn all about her, yet nothing seemed so important as a knowledge of the old painters and their pictures; and the longing to be able to think and to speak with some assurance of them haunted her continually.
Bettina sometimes looked at her sister with wonder as she would sit hour after hour poring over Mr. Sumner’s books.
“I always thought I loved pictures best,” she thought; “but Bab cares more for these old ones than I do.”
In life’s small things be resolute and great To keep thy muscle trained; Knowest thou when Fate Thy measure takes? Or when she’ll say to thee, “I find thee worthy. Do this deed for me?”
[Illustration: A GLIMPSE OF FLORENCE.]
The tourist who devotes a few days to Florence, or a few weeks even, can have no conception of what it means to live in this city; to awake morning after morning and look out upon the lines of her hills and catch glimpses of their distant blues and purples; to be free to wander about at will through her streets, every one of which is crowded with legend and romance; to look upon her palaces and churches, about which cluster so many deeds of history; to visit the homes of her immortal men—poets and artists; to walk step by step instead of whirling along in a carriage; and to grow to feel a close intimacy with her sculptures and paintings, and even with the very stones that are built into her palace walls.
For Florence is comparatively a small city. A good pedestrian can easily walk from Porta Romana on the south to Porta Gallo on the north; or from Porta San Niccolo on the east, along the banks of the Arno, to the Cascine Gardens on the west. It is only an afternoon of genuine delight to climb the lovely, winding ways leading up to San Miniato, or to Fiesole, or to the Torre del Gallo,—the “Star Tower of Galileo.” And what a feeling of possession one has for a road which he has travelled foot by foot; for the rocks and trees and vine-covered walls, and the ever-changing views which continually demand attention! One absorbs and assimilates as in no other way.