The protagonists are Grace Ansley and Alida Slade, two middle -aged American women who are visiting Rome with their daughters, Barbara Ansley and Jenny Slade. The elder women grew up in New York, and were friends from childhood. A youthful romantic rivalry led Mrs. Slade to nurture feelings of jealousy and hatred against Mrs. Ansley.
In the opening pages of the story, the two women compare their daughters and reflect on each other's lives. Eventually, Mrs. Slade reveals a secret about a letter written to Mrs. Ansley on a visit to Rome many years ago. The letter was purportedly from Mrs. Slade's fiancé, Delphin, inviting Mrs. Ansley to a meeting at the Colosseum. In fact, Mrs. Slade herself had written the letter, in an attempt to get Mrs. Ansley out of the way of the engagement by disappointing her with Delphin's absence (and, it is implied, to get Mrs. Ansley sick with Roman Fever). Mrs. Ansley is upset at this revelation...
Adapted from: Wikipedia. Available at:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Fever
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