It was in the early days of April; Bernard Longueville had been
spending the winter in Rome. He had travelled northward with
the consciousness of several social duties that appealed to him
from the further side of the Alps, but he was under the charm
of the Italian spring, and he made a pretext for lingering.
He had spent five days at Siena, where he had intended to spend
but two, and still it was impossible to continue his journey.
He was a young man of a contemplative and speculative turn, and this
was his first visit to Italy, so that if he dallied by the way
he should not be harshly judged. He had a fancy for sketching,
and it was on his conscience to take a few pictorial notes.
There were two old inns at Siena, both of them very shabby
and very dirty. The one at which Longueville had taken
up his abode was entered by a dark, pestiferous arch-way,
surmounted by a sign which at a distance might have been read
by the travellers as the Dantean injunction to renounce all hope.
The other was not far off, and the day after his arrival,
as he passed it, he saw two ladies going in who evidently
belonged to the large fraternity of Anglo-Saxon tourists,