Donna Teresa by Frances Peard Page 1 of 163

Chapter One.

It was sirocco in Rome; sirocco which, as every one knows, brings out a damp ooze on the pavement, and makes the hills yet more slippery for the overladen horses and mules; sirocco which disposes man and woman to take peevish views of life, especially if they have no work on which to fasten thought; sirocco, in fine, hot, baleful, depressing, sapping the strength of one and the energy of another, a universal excuse for whatever untoward may befall a Roman on the days when it makes itself felt.

In spite of this languor, however, the young Marchesa di Sant" Eustachio, and her sister Sylvia Brodrick, were walking briskly along the street which, broken into three names and many hills, stretches the long distance from the end of the Pincio to the foot of Santa Maria Maggiore. There was little likeness between the sisters, in spite of strangers asserting that it was to be found.

The marchesa, or Donna Teresa as she preferred to be called- for although no such title, as a title, actually exists, it is given by courtesy to Italian women of rank in place of the 'signora"- was in mourning, and her face, while intelligent, was not beautiful. But Sylvia"s almost deserved the word.

A critical observer might have taken exception to a certain absence of variety, a want of play about the pretty features; that allowed for, the most grudging would have been unable to deny that the features in themselves were charming, and the colouring delightful.

Her dress was absolutely neat, though there was nothing in it particularly to admire, and perhaps something inharmonious in the lines.

Donna Teresa was the talker, and as she was in the best of spirits, her talk was eager, and she laughed at small things which would have scarcely amused her unless she held some inward cause for rejoicing. She laughed at the placards on the walls, at the goldfish in their bowls.

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