In the afternoon, Lucy and Charlotte go for the ride with Mr. Eager. A young Italian man drives their carriage, and stops to pick up a young Italian woman. The narrator compares both of the Italians to mythological figures. In the carriage are Mr. Beebe, Mr. Eager, Miss Lavish, the Emersons, Lucy, and Charlotte. Mr. Beebe had invited the Emersons along without asking Mr. Eager first, a “dreadful thing,” that put a damper on Mr. Eager’s plans.
The young, relatively carefree Italians are so different from the stuffy, mannered British tourists like Mr. Eager, that the narrator compares them to marvelous mythological characters. The narrator satirizes Charlotte’s excessive concern with trivial matters by mock-seriously calling Mr. Beebe’s inviting the Emersons a “dreadful thing.”
Lucy thinks about George Emerson, who she thinks is eager to “continue their intimacy.” She is cautious “not because she disliked him,” but because she doesn’t feel she understands what has happened between George and her on the river, when they had intimately discussed the murder they saw and contemplated “the shadowy stream.”
Lucy is curious about George; though she doesn’t yet understand her feelings, she is beginning to develop romantic feelings for him, propelled by their shared secret of the ride on the riverboat.
Mr. Eager asks if Lucy is in Florence as a student of art, and she tells him that she is simply a tourist. He says that he often pities tourists, who are “unconscious of anything that is outside Baedeker,” and Miss Lavish agrees. As the party rides by various villas, Mr. Eager tells Lucy all about the British and American expatriates that live in them. Meanwhile, the carriage driver puts the horses at a full gallop, and lurches the carriage from side to side as he tries to kiss the young woman he has brought along.
Miss Lavish and Mr. Eager insist that they have the real or correct knowledge about Italy and art, in contrast to tourists. They are more concerned with having the correct knowledge about beauty than appreciating or experiencing it. The Italian driver is much more carefree than the British and seemingly less constrained by manners, as he kisses his girlfriend.
Mr. Eager stops the carriage and tells the driver that his female friend will have to leave. Mr. Emerson, though, says that “the lovers must on no account be separated.” Mr. Eager speaks to the two young Italians in Italian, and they both appeal to Lucy. Lucy is confused as to why they should seek her support. Finally, the young woman leaves, to the delight of Mr. Eager. Mr. Emerson counters that Mr. Eager has “parted two people who were happy.”
Mr. Eager imposes his (British) sense of values and manners on the Italian driver—even though he just claimed to respect the “real” Italy. Mr. Emerson, by contrast, doesn’t care about traditional manners, and is upset that Mr. Eager has interfered with two people’s happiness.
Mr. Emerson talks with Miss Lavish and regrets the way that Mr. Eager treated the young driver, whom he associates with the youth and vivacity of spring. Looking around at the natural scenery, he asks, “Do you suppose there’s any difference between Spring in nature and Spring in man?” Mr. Eager ignores Mr. Emerson.
Mr. Emerson is upset with Mr. Eager’s prudishness, and sees it partially as the result of a generation gap between him and the young driver. He uses the beauty of spring in nature to justify the beauty and naturalness of the driver’s expression of love.
At last, the group reaches their destination of Fiesole, in the hills outside Florence, the setting that had inspired the Renaissance painter Alessio Baldovinetti. Mr. Eager and Miss Lavish wonder, “where exactly had he stood?” The party walks around the hills together for a bit, and then split into groups. Mr. Beebe and Mr. Eager go off together, the Emersons return to the carriage to talk to their driver, and Lucy, Charlotte, and Miss Lavish form a third group.
The characters find themselves in a beautiful, scenic setting, but Mr. Eager and Miss Lavish are more interested in finding exactly where a famous painter stood and worked than in experiencing the landscape for themselves.
Charlotte tells Miss Lavish that she asked Mr. Emerson what his profession was, and he answered “the railway,” which she found “such a dreadful answer.” Miss Lavish laughs and says that Mr. Emerson looks like a porter. Miss Lavish and Charlotte encourage Lucy to go off and join Mr. Eager’s group, but Lucy doesn’t want to. They sit for a few minutes, and then Lucy finally goes to find Mr. Eager. She goes back to the carriage and, unable to speak Italian, tries to ask the driver where Mr. Beebe is.
Charlotte and Miss Lavish look down snobbishly on Mr. Emerson’s profession, rather than judging him on his character. Miss Lavish certainly doesn’t seem like much of a “radical,” here.
The driver misunderstands Lucy and directs her over to where George is. Lucy walks through a wooded area and then stumbles onto a terrace with flowers all around in “rivulets and streams and cataracts, irrigating the hillside with blue, eddying round the tree stems collecting into pools in the hollows, covering the grass with spots of azure foam.” Immediately upon seeing Lucy amid all the flowers, George kisses her, and almost as suddenly Charlotte arrives on the scene, sees what has happened, and calls out Lucy’s name.
The lush, beautiful spring flowers and natural setting are very important in helping George to act on his impulsive feelings and kiss Lucy. Lucy, who doesn’t yet understand her own feelings for George, is shocked by the sudden kiss. The kiss occurs out in nature, outside of the restrictions of society, but Charlotte arrives just in time to see and to impose the judgment of traditional society on George and Lucy.