It was the evening of Constitution Day, the Italian Fourth of July.
Aunt Caroline and Irma, seated in the doorway of the hotel, watched the passing crowd.
On the Arno in front of the house, not far from the Ponte Vecchio, were several boats decorated with flags and paper lanterns. There was also a large float, and the voluble porter explained that a chorus was to be stationed there during the evening to sing.
“Where is Marion?” asked Uncle Jim.
“He has walked to the Cascine with Katie and Richard and Ellen. I wished to
stay with Aunt Caroline,” replied Irma.
“I am afraid Katie has cut you out with Marion,” exclaimed Uncle Jim.
“How foolish!” protested Aunt Caroline. “Irma has no such ideas. Marion has never exerted himself for Irma, and she has always been too busy to think of him.”
“When it’s quite dark,” continued Uncle Jim, “we must walk over to the Piazza in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. They say the illumination of the tower is the thing best worth seeing, better even than the fireworks these crowds are waiting for.”
A little later the three stood in front of the tall gray tower of the old palace, whose outlines were wonderfully beautiful, set in a frame of fire made up of countless tiny lamps.
“Hello,” cried a voice, “we didn’t expect to see you here.” Richard was the speaker, and with him were Marion and Ellen.
“Where is Katie?” asked Aunt Caroline.
“Oh, she and Marion have had some kind of a spat, and she insisted on our
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