The Custom Of Congregating Here On These Fixed Days
Seems To Be Recent, And I Am Inclined To Think That It Has Been Called
Into Being By The Zeal Of Some Local Men Of Standing.
On the other hand,
a shrine may well have stood for many years on this spot, for it marks
the half-way house in the arduous two days' journey between San Severino
and Castro-villari, a summer trek that must date from hoary antiquity.
Our bedroom contained two rough couches which were to be shared between
four priests and myself. Despite the fact that I occupied the place of
honour between the two oldest and wisest of my ghostly entertainers,
sleep refused to come; the din outside had grown to a pandemonium. I lay
awake till, at 2.30 a.m., one of them arose and touched the others with
a whispered and half-jocular oremus! They retired on tiptoe to the
next room, noiselessly closing the door, to prepare themselves for early
service. I could hear them splashing vigorously at their ablutions in
the icy water, and wondered dreamily how many Neapolitan priests would
indulge at that chill hour of the morning in such a lustrai rite,
prescribed as it is by the rules of decency and of their church.
After that, I stretched forth at my ease and endeavoured to repose
seriously. There were occasional lulls, now, in the carnival, but
explosions of sound still broke the stillness, and phantoms of the
restless throng began to chase each other through my brain.
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