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search of another mouldmaker, the old man in rags stepped out of the shadow of a wall and touched my arm.

“‘I know the place, signore, and I know the Madonna. I have everything here in this bucket—at night the church is closed, but there is a side door. I will take your twenty lira. Come with me.’

“When you are twenty, you are like a hawk after its quarry—your blood boiling, your nerves keyed up, and you swoop down and get your talons in your prey without caring what happens afterward. Being also a romantic hawk, I liked immensely the idea of doing my prowling at night; there was a touch of danger in that kind of villany which daylight dispels. So off we started, the ragged man carrying the bucket holding a small bottle of olive-oil, dry plaster, and a thick sheet of modelling wax besides some tools: I with two good-sized candles and a box of matches.

“When you rob a bank at night you must, so I am told, be sure you have a duplicate key or something with which to pick the lock. When you rob an Italian church, there is no such bother—you simply push wide the door and begin feeling your way about. And it was