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Aaron's Rod by D. H. Lawrence

There were a few mounted carabinieri


was looking for a seat--there was no table to him---when suddenly someone took him by the arm. It was Argyle.

"Come along, now! Come and join us. Here, this way! Come along!"

Aaron let himself be led away towards a corner. There sat Lilly and a strange man: called Levison. The room was warm. Aaron could never bear to be too hot. After sitting a minute, he rose and took off his coat, and hung it on a stand near the window. As he did so he felt the weight of his flute--it was still in his pocket. And he wondered if it was safe to leave it.

"I suppose no one will steal from the overcoat pockets," he said, as he sat down.

"My dear chap, they'd steal the gold filling out of your teeth, if you happened to yawn," said Argyle. "Why, have you left valuables in your overcoat?"

"My flute," said Aaron.

"Oh, they won't steal that," said Argyle.

"Besides," said Lilly, "we should see anyone who touched it."

And so they settled down to the vermouth.

"Well," said Argyle, "what have you been doing with yourself, eh? I haven't seen a glimpse of you for a week. Been going to the dogs, eh?"

"Or the bitches," said Aaron.


but look here, that's bad! That's bad! I can see I shall have to take you in hand, and commence my work of reform. Oh, I'm a great reformer, a Zwingli and Savonarola in one. I couldn't count the number of people I've led into the right way. It takes some finding, you know. Strait is the gate--damned strait sometimes. A damned tight squeeze...." Argyle was somewhat intoxicated. He spoke with a slight slur, and laughed, really tickled at his own jokes. The man Levison smiled acquiescent. But Lilly was not listening. His brow was heavy and he seemed abstracted. He hardly noticed Aaron's arrival.

"Did you see the row yesterday?" asked Levison.

"No," said Aaron. "What was it?"

It was the socialists. They were making a demonstration against the imprisonment of one of the railway-strikers. I was there. They went on all right, with a good bit of howling and gibing: a lot of young louts, you know. And the shop-keepers shut up shop, and nobody showed the Italian flag, of course. Well, when they came to the Via Benedetto Croce, there were a few mounted carabinieri. So they stopped the procession, and the sergeant said that the crowd could continue, could go on where they liked, but would they not go down the Via Verrocchio, because it was being repaired, the roadway was all up, and there were piles of cobble stones. These might prove a temptation and lead to trouble. So would the demonstrators not take that road--they might take any other they liked.--Well, the very moment he had finished, there was a revolver shot, he made a noise, and fell forward over his horse's nose. One of the anarchists had shot him. Then there was hell let loose, the carabinieri fired back, and people were bolting and fighting like devils. I cleared out, myself. But my God--what do you think of it?"

"Seems pretty mean," said Aaron.

"Mean!--He had just spoken them fair--they could go where they liked, only would they not go down the one road, because of the heap of stones. And they let him finish. And then shot him dead."

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