Europe Revised By Irvin S. Cobb









































































 -   Believe
him not! Venture inside and decline to purchase and he will think
up new and subtle Italian forms of - Page 270
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Believe Him Not!

Venture inside and decline to purchase and he will think up new and subtle Italian forms of insult and insolence to visit on you.

They will have brass bands out for you if you invest and brass knuckles if you do not.

There is but one way to escape from their everlasting persecutions, and that is to flee to the center of the square and enjoy the company of the pigeons and the photographers. They - the pigeons, I mean - belong to the oldest family in Venice; their lineage is of the purest and most undefiled. For upward of seven hundred years the authorities of the city have been feeding and protecting the pigeons, of which these countless blue-and-bronze flocks are the direct descendants. They are true aristocrats; and, like true aristocrats, they are content to live on the public funds and grow fat and sassy thereon, paying nothing in return.

No; I take that part back - they do pay something in return; a full measure. They pay by the beauty of their presence, and they are surely very beautiful, with their dainty mincing pink feet and the sheen on the proudly arched breast coverts of the cock birds; and they pay by giving you their trust and their friendship. To gobble the gifts of dried peas, which you buy in little cornucopias from convenient venders for distribution among them, they come wheeling in winged battalions, creaking and cooing, and alight on your head and shoulders in that perfect confidence which so delights humans when wild or half-wild creatures bestow it on us, though, at every opportunity, we do our level best to destroy it by hunting and harrying them to death.

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