Page:Hopkinson Smith--armchair at the inn.djvu/182

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“So down I got, and there I stayed until he had finished his prayer at one of the side chapels and had left the church by the main door.

“All this time I was measuring it with my eye—its width, thickness, the depth of the cutting, how much plaster it would take, how large a bag it would require in which to carry it away. This done I went back to Ravenna and started to look up some one of the image vendors who haunt the door of the great church.

“But none of them would listen. It would take at least an hour before the plaster would be dry enough to come away from the marble. The priests—poor as some of them were—would never consent to such a sacrilege. Without their permission detection was almost certain; so please go to the devil, illustrious signore, and do not tempt a poor man who does not wish to go to prison for twenty lira.

“This talk, let me tell you, took place in a shop up a back street, kept by a young Italian image-vendor who made casts and moulds with the assistance of his father, who was a hunchback, and an old man all rags whom I could see was listening to every word of the talk.

“That same night, about the time the lamps began to be lighted, and I had started out in