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Aaron's Rod by D. H. Lawrence

Loro possono andare prima classa PRIMA CLASSA


place etait RESERVEE--" said Francis, moving to the direct attack.

The man turned aside and ignored him utterly--then said something to the men opposite, and they all began to show their teeth in a grin.

Francis was not so easily foiled. He touched the man on the arm. The man looked round threateningly, as if he had been struck.

"Cette place est reservee--par ce Monsieur--" said Francis with hauteur, though still in an explanatory tone, and pointing to Aaron.

The Italian looked him, not in the eyes, but between the eyes, and sneered full in his face. Then he looked with contempt at Aaron. And then he said, in Italian, that there was room for such snobs in the first class, and that they had not any right to come occupying the place of honest men in the third.

"Gia! Gia!" barked the other passengers in the carriage.

"Loro possono andare prima classa--PRIMA CLASSA!" said the woman in the corner, in a very high voice, as if talking to deaf people, and pointing to Aaron's luggage, then along the train to the first class carriages.

"C'e posto la," said one of the men, shrugging his shoulders.

There was a jeering quality in the hard insolence which made Francis go very red and Augus very white. Angus stared like

a death's-head behind his monocle, with death-blue eyes.

"Oh, never mind. Come along to the first class. I'll pay the difference. We shall be much better all together. Get the luggage down, Francis. It wouldn't be possible to travel with this lot, even if he gave up the seat. There's plenty of room in our carriage--and I'll pay the extra," said Angus.

He knew there was one solution--and only one--Money.

But Francis bit his finger. He felt almost beside himself--and quite powerless. For he knew the guard of the train would jeer too. It is not so easy to interfere with honest third-class Bolognesi in Bologna station, even if they _have_ taken another man's seat. Powerless, his brow knitted, and looking just like Mephistopheles with his high forehead and slightly arched nose, Mephistopheles in a rage, he hauled down Aaron's bag and handed it to Angus. So they transferred themselves to the first-class carriage, while the fat man and his party in the third-class watched in jeering, triumphant silence. Solid, planted, immovable, in static triumph.

So Aaron sat with the others amid the red plush, whilst the train began its long slow climb of the Apennines, stinking sulphurous through tunnels innumerable. Wonderful the steep slopes, the great chestnut woods, and then the great distances glimpsed between the heights, Firenzuola away and beneath, Turneresque hills far off, built of heaven-bloom, not of earth. It was cold at the summit-station, ice and snow in the air, fierce. Our travellers shrank into the carriage again, and wrapped themselves round.

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