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THE WALK AT NAPLES.
A CONVERSATIONAL SKETCH.
, B. With all
(They pass into the street. A. How beautiful the sea looks, and how plain we can see the cliffs of Capri- what a noble outline it has !-But how this gas
stinks! B. I agree to all your remarks: but here comes something to regale the olfactories.
(They are surrounded by five or six flower
girls: after these, three or four ragged boys come up and ask alms, tumbling head-over
heels. A. What a nuisance these creatures are ! B. (waving his stick) Va vial va via!
(Boys run off A. Hallo! where's my pocket-handkerchief ? I know I had it a moment ago.
B. Ha, ha, ha! I think I know where it is. That little date-mi-qualche-cosa has got it for certain. I
forgot to warn you: I always carry mine here, in my breast pocket.
A. Pshaw! I never had my pocket picked in England in all
life. B. O, pickpockets are quite encouraged here. Even the Police would look on calmly if the victim were an Englishman. The plan is different from ours; but, after all, it teaches us to look sharply after our own roba, without the help of a constable.
A. Well, so it does, indeed. But what can this muttering fellow, in mustachios and earings, want ? Now he looks very like a pickpocket.
B. I do not deny his being one: but his is quite another line. He evidently wishes to do us the favour of enlarging the circle of our friends; but we may perhaps as well not cultivate his acquaintance, nor let him introduce us to any of his.
A. I understand you. What a noise there is ! I can scarcely hear myself speak. And see! Here come three cabs and a hack carriage driving straight at us at a full gallop, cracking their whips like mad.
B. Never mind : walk straight up to them with your stick, and they will be off.
A. There they go ! now they are attacking that old lady and gentleman opposite, who really look frightened. But what is that crowd yonder ?
B. Some row, certainly.
It looks like a fight. B. It does. But here they never dare fight in earnest.
A. Those fellows with the two trucks have been. running foul of each other.
B. Yes; and they are now knocking one another's heads about after their own fashion.
A. Well may you say after their own fashion. They are at it literally tooth and nail. What a handful of black hair this one has got ; and how the other fellow's nails have dug into his face!
B. There ! down they go, one over the other ; and with them the table of that money-changer.
A. What a scramble for the grani in the gutter !
B. Do you see the Englishman over the way, with a broad smile on his face, and tucking up his coat cuffs, as if by instinct ?
A. I do. Look! this one's companion has gone back to his truck and is tugging at an iron bar. By his eyes
he means mischief; but he can't get the bar out, luckily.
B. Perhaps he knew that; and that's why he went to tug at it, in order to keep out of harm's way
with credit. But here comes a man in authority, and a cocked hat, who will put an end to all this.
A. Will he ?-_Why he is positively slapping the fellows' faces with the palm of his hand, with "avete sbagliato, canaglia !" And they-why they are separating quietly, and are going about their business. Well: that would not disperse a street row in London!
B. No indeed!
A. There goes a bold Briton, hörse and all, down on the pavement of the Toledo, and half a dozen carriages over him! No: he is up again, and rides away as if nothing had happened.
B. You may see plenty such falls here in the course of an hour. But look at that tall showily dressed woman. You cannot mistake her object.
A. Certainly not. Now she is looking at us. What
eyes she has !
B. Look ; she is going into that church ! but first gives money to all the old women sitting on the steps.
A. Let us go in too.
A. Look, she is giving alms to the cripple kneeling before the rails. And now she kneels herself; and now rises, and passes on to another shrine, and kneels again, crossing herself devoutly. Is there not something very strange, and very wrong, in all this ?
B. It seems so at first to us; but I confess that blind devotion-superstition if you will appears to me not to be without its own peculiar good attending it. The religion of the people here is characterized by devotion ; and I will answer for it that even the little rogue who stole your handkerchief
goes to church regularly
A. And prays to the Madonna to protect him against the gendarmes ?
B. Very likely. The influence of the patron Saint is drawn upon largely, it is true; but I am inclined to think it is done in the sincerity of firm and affectionate belief. Now the degraded classes in England seldom, if ever, see the inside of a church. I leave it to
to sum up and balance the good and evil on both sides.
A. I think I could mention some excellent friends of ours whom such notions would frighten: but I never considered the matter in the light in which it appears capable of being put: but perhaps we are not the fittest persons in the world to discuss the subject. Let us get into a carriage and go up to the Museum ; I wish to have another look at the bronzes; particularly at the infant Hercules, and the dancing Faun. B. And I think
had never seen the head of Psyche; you have no idea how fine it is.