From some ancient Venetian chronicles Mr. Crawford gleaned material that bore upon the life of Stradella, a great musician of the seventeenth century. Out of these fragments he has constructed his story which is rich in its Italian setting. The love of Stradella for a dowerless niece of a pompous, self-sufficient Senator who intended to marry the girl himself, furnishes the key to the difficult situations that crowd one upon another along the course of their experience.
man she had never seen, a handsome young man of five-and-twenty or so, with a thoughtful face and deep-set eyes, of a rather dark complexion, as if he came from the south; his manner was grave, and he was soberly dressed in a black velvet coat with purple silk facings, and wore a plain broad collar of linen instead of the fashionable lace; he was a man of middle height and well made, and he moved easily. In his left hand he carried a musical instrument in a purple bag.
[Illustration: '"This is the celebrated Maestro Alessandro Stradella of Naples"']
He bowed very low as soon as the Senator stood still before Ortensia.
'This,' said the master of the house, 'is the celebrated Maestro Alessandro Stradella of Naples, by far the greatest musician and composer in Italy, who has very kindly consented to hear you sing, and to give you a few lessons if he finds you sufficiently advanced.'
Ortensia was surprised, and anything but displeased, but she showed no emotion. The young man before h