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330

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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Full resolution (JPEG) - On this page / på denna sida - Pencil Sketches in Rome - 5. The Beggars in Rome

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330 ROMAN DA YS.
pricks him on to the most incredible exertions ; he fol-
lows you up the street and down the street, and you
must be a man of stout principles, if you do not at last
think that he ought not to be permitted to give himself
so much trouble for nothing. The last stage is that of
unbreakable silence. But not even is that an unfailing
remedy. For it may chance you have something in the
eye or the look that speaks : this something may be
angry, fierce, irritated, something that swears by all the
rivers of the underworld that you never will give in—all
the same, the beggar interprets it as an invitation to
argue the subject, and he follows you. The fourth stage
is that of the walking statue. You do not see the beggar,
you do not hear him, he is not within the circle of your
powers of perception. That helps, in some measure. At
last, you reach the fifth stage, that of signs. Your friendly
landlord informs you that there is a certain sign, that
works with magic power upon even the most importunate
of the guild. The sign is this : you bend the right arm
so that the hand comes upon a level with the shoulder,
extend the forefinger and the middle finger and describe
with the hand about an eighth of the circumference of a
circle. The language of signs has reached a high state
of cultivation in Italy, and one can express much with it,
for which the spoken language lacks words ; but I had
never expected the sign just described could possess such
irresistibly decisive eloquence. Whenever I made it, the
beggar at once gave up his suit as lost. The usual prom-
ise that I should escape the pains of purgatory for a
soldo, died on his lips, his face expressed utter hopeless-
ness, and he turned away to seek prey in other quarters.
The present government of Rome does much to check,
if not uproot, begging, and this latter, though still a

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