They had spent most of their time in Rome

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 where Mrs. Hart could be made happy with many American comforts. She was much given to writing letters to her friends; they formed a kind of journal wherein she recorded her impressions of the places she visited and the facts she culled from the guide-books and the valets de place whom they employed. She wrote a round, firm hand, and this was her style of entry:—

“This morning with Helen and Jackson to the Palatine Hill. The Palatine was one of the Seven Hills of Rome. It was anciently the home of the C?sars. That is, they had their palaces there, some remains of which exist to this day…. It is a pretty sort of place now, where there are stone benches, from which may be obtained a good view of the Forum and the best ruins of Ancient Rome.”

Jackson liked to tease his mother about her literal method of sight-seeing. In her way, also, Helen was laborious and conscientious, trying to solve the complex impressions of the foreign world. The young architect was content to wave his hand toward a mass of picturesque ruins as they flitted past in a cab. “Somebody or other Metellus put up that arch,” he would remark gayly. “Good color, isn’t it?” The women would insist upon stopping the cab, and would get out. Then, guide-book in hand, they would peer up at the gray remnant of an ancient order of things. So with the Palatine,—Helen insisted upon studying out on the plan the House of Livia, and puzzled much over the exact situation of the Golden House of Nero, although Jackson assured her that no remains of the huge palace could be identified. She had a conscience about seeing as much as she could, and seeing it honestly, justifying to herself the careless architect’s flippancy on the ground that he had been so long in Europe he knew what to avoid.