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The Arrow of Gold

Chapter I.2
The street in which Mr. Blunt lived presented itself to our eyes, narrow, silent, empty,
and dark, but with enough gas-lamps in it to disclose its most striking feature: a quantity
of flag-poles sticking out above many of its closed portals. It was the street of Consuls
and I remarked to Mr. Blunt that coming out in the morning he could survey the flags of
all nations almost - except his own. (The U. S. consulate was on the other side of the
town.) He mumbled through his teeth that he took good care to keep clear of his own
consulate.
"Are you afraid of the consul's dog?" I asked jocularly. The consul's dog weighed about a
pound and a half and was known to the whole town as exhibited on the consular fore-arm
in all places, at all hours, but mainly at the hour of the fashionable promenade on the
Prado.
But I felt my jest misplaced when Mills growled low in my ear: "They are all Yankees
there."
I murmured a confused "Of course."
Books are nothing. I discovered that I had never been aware before that the Civil War in
America was not printed matter but a fact only about ten years old. Of course. He was a
South Carolinian gentleman. I was a little ashamed of my want of tact. Meantime,
looking like the conventional conception of a fashionable reveller, with his opera-hat
pushed off his forehead, Captain Blunt was having some slight difficulty with his latch-
key; for the house before which we had stopped was not one of those many-storied
houses that made up the greater part of the street. It had only one row of windows above
the ground floor. Dead walls abutting on to it indicated that it had a garden. Its dark front
presented no marked architectural character, and in the flickering light of a street lamp it
looked a little as though it had gone down in the world. The greater then was my surprise
to enter a hall paved in black and white marble and in its dimness appearing of palatial
proportions. Mr. Blunt did not turn up the small solitary gas-jet, but led the way across
the black and white pavement past the end of the staircase, past a door of gleaming dark
wood with a heavy bronze handle. It gave access to his rooms he said; but he took us
straight on to the studio at the end of the passage.
It was rather a small place tacked on in the manner of a lean-to to the garden side of the
house. A large lamp was burning brightly there. The floor was of mere flag-stones but the
few rugs scattered about though extremely worn were very costly. There was also there a
beautiful sofa upholstered in pink figured silk, an enormous divan with many cushions,
some splendid arm-chairs of various shapes (but all very shabby), a round table, and in
the midst of these fine things a small common iron stove. Somebody must have been
attending it lately, for the fire roared and the warmth of the place was very grateful after
the bone-searching cold blasts of mistral outside.
 
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