In the south of Italy Miss Julia Lord runs an English library and tea room catering to expatriates. She works hard against the tide of sensuousness to maintain English efficiency and decorum.
In Tindaro the tendency was to lie late in bed, but Miss Lord had never allowed herself to succumb to the sensuous, save in the loving of her garden. If you succumbed in Tindaro you succumbed too thoroughly. Physical and mental hygiene were apt to go together, and if Tindaro did call the lady of the Villa Vesta “Miss Cold Bath,” it had every reason to respect her. (p. 16).
Miss Julia tries to instill this attitude in the young Miss Billy Brown, newly arrived from England to be her assistant.