Irma was descending the Spanish Steps one morning on her way to the piazza when she heard Marion calling her. Turning her head, she saw him hastening toward her.
“What’s your hurry?” he cried.
“I can’t hurry going down these steps. I am on my way to return a book for Aunt Caroline. Then——”
“Well, what then?”
“I haven’t decided.”
“Then come with me to Rag Fair, and after that I have something else for the afternoon. Aunt Caroline says she won’t try to go out to-day, her cold is worse and Uncle Jim intends to stay in to read to her, and I, well, she said I must look out for you.”
Marion said the last a trifle sheepishly, adding, “Of course I will do whatever you wish. But I am sure you will like my plan.”
“Yes, provided you haven’t the Catacombs in mind, or that awful church with bones and skulls for decorations.”
“The Cappuccini; no, we won’t go there.”
“And you won’t ask me to ride around Aurelian’s wall on a bicycle?”
“No, though you’d find it great fun! I don’t know anything I have enjoyed better. The towers are so picturesque and they were useful, too. I went up in one to see the little rooms inside the walls that the soldiers occupied, and the guard-rooms, up there more than forty feet.
They certainly had a good chance to see the enemy at a long distance.
If you and Aunt Caroline would drive some day, I’d point things out to you.”
“Perhaps we will, but now—” Irma had taken out her camera. “Oh, I wish I could get a photograph, but I suppose they will run when they see what I want.”
“They” made a picturesque group, slowly mounting the steps, a mother with babe in arms, a shawl thrown over her head, a half-grown girl in a faded pink gingham, and a little boy in a shabby velveteen suit and felt hat with a feather over his curls.
“The boy is probably an artist’s model, dressed for effect. I am not sure about the others, but I can make them stand for you.”
“Oh! Please!” Whereupon Marion stepped up to the woman, spoke a few words in Italian, and lo, they at once grouped themselves picturesquely in a spot where the sun fell in just the right way for a photograph. Irma took her place, snapped her camera, turned the key, took a second snap, in case anything should go wrong with the first and murmured, “Grazie, grazie,” one of her few Italian words.
“Niente, niente, signorina,” said the girl, who seemed to be the spokesman of the party, looking inquiringly at Marion.
Then almost instantly Marion dropped a small piece of silver in her hand.
“That’s the way to get them to stand,” he said laughing; “generally the smallest copper will fetch them.”
“But you gave more.”
“Oh, this was a group of four. I have noticed that little chap before, selling flowers. He’s very amusing.”
Soon Irma had returned her library book, and by various short cuts Marion led her to the Palazzo Cancelleria, near which the so-called Rag Fair is held every Wednesday.
They found a series of canvas booths, where a great variety of things was displayed. The sellers, more numerous than the buyers, praised their wares at the tops of their voices, if Irma or Marion even glanced toward them.
“I should call it a rummage sale, and things are rather rubbishy,” said Irma.
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