The Path to Rome By Hilaire Belloc

 -  I sat outside a cafe, opposite the cathedral, watching its
pinnacles of light; but I was ashamed. Perhaps I did - Page 240
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I Sat Outside A Cafe, Opposite The Cathedral, Watching Its Pinnacles Of Light; But I Was Ashamed.

Perhaps I did the master a hurt by sitting there in his fine great cafe, unkempt, in such clothes,

Like a tramp; but he was courteous in spite of his riches, and I ordered a very expensive drink for him also, in order to make amends. I showed him my sketches, and told him of my adventures in French, and he was kind enough to sit opposite me, and to take that drink with me. He talked French quite easily, as it seems do all such men in the principal towns of north Italy. Still, the broad day shamed me, and only when darkness came did I feel at ease.

I wandered in the streets till I saw a small eating shop, and there I took a good meal. But when one is living the life of the poor, one sees how hard are the great cities. Everything was dearer, and worse, than in the simple countrysides. The innkeeper and his wife were kindly, but their eyes showed that they had often to suspect men. They gave me a bed, but it was a franc and more, and I had to pay before going upstairs to it. The walls were mildewed, the place ramshackle and evil, the rickety bed not clean, the door broken and warped, and that night I was oppressed with the vision of poverty. Dirt and clamour and inhuman conditions surrounded me.

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