Theodore Colville, a middle-aged American architect who leaves Italy for the United States when a young woman rejects his suit. In the United States, he runs a newspaper for a time and then enters Indiana politics. Defeated at the polls, he returns to Italy to resume his study of architecture. He learns to love two American women, one a middle-aged widow, the other a woman half his age. He almost marries the younger woman, but complications and misunderstandings prevent him from doing so. Finally, he marries the widow.
Imogene Graham, a young woman who falls in love with Colville, though he is old enough to be her father. She finally understands, chiefly through the influence of her mother and the appearance of a young minister, that her love is actually infatuation. She returns to the United States from Italy and marries the minister, who is now established in a prosperous church near Buffalo.
Lina Bowen, a widow who has known Colville for some time. She acts as Imogene’s chaperon while Imogene and Colville see each other. She tries to act properly toward the Colville-Imogene affair and not allow her personal bias to enter her discussions with Imogene about the problems that marriage with Colville might produce. When Imogene at last rejects Colville, Lina accepts Colville’s suit.
Effie Bowen, Lina’s thirteen-year-old daughter, who is very fond of Colville. It is largely through Effie’s efforts that Colville and Lina finally decide to marry.
Mr. Morton, a young minister who loves Imogene and goes to Italy to court her. Both return to the United States, and the Colvilles suspect that they will marry.
Mrs. Graham, Imogene’s mother, who goes to Italy when she learns that her daughter is thinking seriously of marrying Colville. Her influence on her daughter is instrumental in causing Imogene to see that her love for Colville is only infatuation.