Page:Hopkinson Smith--armchair at the inn.djvu/280

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marked church—the candle-stick of the campanile—ducked under an archway—‘sotto portico,’ he called it—opened out into a field, struck across a little bridge into another street—hardly a soul about, nothing alive—nothing except dogs and children—all of which he explained was a short cut. For some time his dodging made no impression on me; then the way he rounded the corners and hugged the shadowed side of the street, away from the few dim lamps, set me to wondering as to his intentions. What the devil did he mean by picking out these blind alleys? He must have seen that I was no tenderfoot or tourist who had lost his way.

“With this I began to fix certain landmarks in my memory in case I had to make my way back alone. There was no question now in my mind as to the town’s character. Half the murders and hold-ups in the large cities are concocted in these villages, and this had rascality stamped all over it. Every corner I turned looked more forbidding than the last—every street seemed to end in a trap—the kind of street a scene-painter tries to produce when he has a murder up a back alley to provide for the third act. And crooked!—well, the tracks of a