Page:Hopkinson Smith--armchair at the inn.djvu/279

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“Not a very inviting person;—a loafer, a lazzaroni, a dead-beat of a dago, really—and yet my heart warmed to him all the same when he answered me with enough French sandwiched between his ‘o’s’ and ‘i’s’ to help out my bad Italian. What finally trickled from his wrinkled lips was the disappointing announcement that no hostelry at all worthy of the Distinguished Signore existed in the village, nor was there money enough in the place for any one of the inhabitants to have a surplus of anything—rooms especially—but there was—here the oily smile overran the soap-suddy face—a most excellent casino kept by an equally excellent citizen where travellers were wont to stay overnight; that it was up a back street—they were all ‘back’ so far as I had seen—and that, if the Distinguished Signore would permit, he would curtail the sale of his religious relics long enough to conduct his D. S. to the very door.

“So we started, the vendor of ‘helps to piety’ ahead and I following behind, my knapsack over my shoulder. I soon discovered that if the casino was up a back street he was going a long way round to reach it. First he dived into an alley behind the mouldy, plaster-pock-