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Nisida

dress: black coats, knee breeches, low shoes and silver buckles. As the
countenances of these gentlemen offered nothing very interesting to the
multitude, whisperings arose, little by little, among the spectators, then some bold
spirits ventured a jest or two upon the fattest or the baldest of the townsmen, and
at last the boldest of the lazzaroni slipped between the soldiers' legs to collect the
wax that was running down from the lighted tapers.
After the craftsmen, the religious orders marched past, from the Dominicans to
the Carthusians, from the Carmelites to the Capuchins. They advanced slowly,
their eyes cast down, their step austere, their hands on their hearts; some faces
were rubicund and shining, with large cheek-hones and rounded chins, herculean
heads upon bullnecks; some, thin and livid, with cheeks hollowed by suffering
and penitence, and with the look of living ghosts; in short, here were the two
sides of monastic life.
At this moment, Nunziata and Gelsomina, two charming damsels, taking
advantage of an old corporal's politeness, pushed forward their pretty heads into
the first rank. The break in the line was conspicuous; but the sly warrior seemed
just a little lax in the matter of discipline.
"Oh, there is Father Bruno!" said Gelsomina suddenly. "Good-day, Father
Bruno."
"Hush, cousin! People do not talk to the procession."
"How absurd! He is my confessor. May I not say good-morning to my confessor?"
"Silence, chatterboxes!"
"Who was that spoke?"
"Oh, my dear, it was Brother Cucuzza, the begging friar."
"Where is he? Where is he?"
"There he is, along there, laughing into his beard. How bold he is!"
"Ah, God in heaven! If we were to dream of him---"
While the two cousins were pouring out endless comments upon the Capuchins
and their beards, the capes of the canons and the surplices of the seminarists,
the 'feroci' came running across from the other side to re-establish order with the
help of their gun-stocks.
"By the blood of my patron saint," cried a stentorian voice, "if I catch you between
my finger and thumb, I will straighten your back for the rest of your days."
"Who are you falling out with, Gennaro?"
"With this accursed hunchback, who has been worrying my back for the last hour,
as though he could see through it."
"It is a shame," returned the hunchback in a tone of lamentation; "I have been
here since last night, I slept out of doors to keep my place, and here is this
abominable giant comes to stick himself in front of me like an obelisk."
The hunchback was lying like a Jew, but the crowd rose unanimously against the
obelisk. He was, in one way, their superior, and majorities are always made up of
pigmies.
"Hi! Come down from your stand!"
"Hi! get off your pedestal!"
"Off with your hat!"
"Down with your head!"
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