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    With sounds of mirth and rioting,

    He opened his helmet and tossed it aside. Dead already, he could lose nothing by making himself comfortable for dying. He shivered. The chill of infection? No, the night was cool. He looked about him in the light of the sky of stars. The fields were below him, rustling in a million private conversations as the breeze filtered through them. It was a lovely place to die, here on the crest of a hill.


    Under the direction of our self-appointed guide we visited a dusty, musty little bar-room, which seemed to be the centre of such life as existed in the village. We found a few young country boys lolling about on benches, and the usual shrewish, sharp-faced, overworked woman, who grumblingly left her housework to inquire what we wanted.

    all crowd into the cave, parents and children, the mule or the donkey. The fattening pig, which, decorated with a collar, has been tied during the day in front of the house, where, with all the affection of a dog, it has glided about among the children, must also find a place in the house. The cock and hens betake themselves at sunset into this same space, in which the air is thick with smoke, because there is no chimney to the house. All breathe this air. One can imagine what a fearful atmosphere pervades the place. Every necessity of physical cleanliness and moral decency is lacking. In the corner there is frequently only one bunk, upon which the entire family sleeps, and for the most part it consists of nothing more than a heap of straw. In the fierce heat of the summer one naturally sleeps without a cover; in winter every one seeks to protect himself under the covers. Even when there are separate sleeping places all the most intimate secrets of family life become known to the children at an early age. Brothers and sisters almost always sleep in the same bed. Frequently a girl sleeps at the feet of her parents. The stupidity and coarseness of such a family existence is beyond description. There is naturally no such thing as a serious conception of morality among a people that for generations has grown up without education. For that reason, it frequently happens that the most unspeakable crimes are committed. It is, therefore, frequently difficult to determine with exactness the parentage of the children born into the family. The saying of the Romans, that 'paternity is always uncertain,' holds good here. In fact, it is quite possible that this legal conception owes its origin to observations in regard to the condition of the rural population of that period. It is, however, probable that in the country districts of Sicily conditions have changed very little since Roman times."

    When the woman heard of the fate that had befallen her enemy, she ran to the beach and clapped her hands with joy and exulted. And as she stood there laughing with strange and horrid mirth, the corpse of the man she had cursed slowly rose up from the sea, and came drifting towards her till it lay almost at her very feet. On this she stooped down to feast her eyes on the sight of the dead man, when suddenly a storm of wind screamed past her, and hurled her from the point of rock where she stood. And when the people ran in all haste to help, no trace of her body could be seen. The woman and the corpse of the man she had cursed disappeared together under the waves, and were never seen again from that time forth.






    chapter 2

    "I cannot possibly say," replied Joyce, after a moment's pause. "The idea is quite new to me. I have never given it consideration."


    On their way back to their bungalow there was silence between the Coventrys. They were driving in the cab of the country, a rough vehicle that resembled a palanquin on wheels, with venetian shutters instead of windows, and the noise it made would have rendered even the most amiable of conversations impossible. The air outside was warm and still, and the rattle of the wheels and the


    He had expected an almost scornful refusal of his offer to act as an intermediary, but his uncle appeared ready, at least to consider the proposal.



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