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328

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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V.
THE BEGGARS IN ROME.
THE first Roman I met, as I stepped out of the ves-
tibule of the " Albergo Nazionale " (adorned with
columns) on my first day in Rome, was a boy of twelve
years, dressed in a torn hat and a garment of uncertain
color, draped like a cloak. I asked him after a street.
He on his side asked me what o’clock it was, and when I
had enlightened him on that point, he said :
’*
al vostro
servizio ! I have time to go with you." And he went
with me a long way, and did not leave me before he had
satisfied himself that I stood before the number of the
house sought for. I thought I should show him my
thankfulness by a little gratuity, but I cannot describe
the gesture, at once courteous and proud, with which he
repelled without looking at it the proffered money; after
which^ with a musical addio, he lifted his hat, at parting,
and throwing the right end of his cloak over the left
shoulder, withdrew, draped like an antique statue.
Convinced as I was, that at the very first step on a
Roman street I should be surrounded by beggars, I felt
a pleasant surprise at this meeting. It seemed as if I
had seen in this proud boy a descendant of the old
Quiritians, who formerly dwelt on the hills of Rome, and
a good presage of the new race that shall there grow up,
under the colors of free and progressive Italy.

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