Page:1880. A Tramp Abroad.djvu/125

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113
SWINGING CHILDREN.

gossipping way, and the crowds below drifting through the alternating blots of gloom and mellow bars of moonlight. Nearly everybody was abroad, chatting, singing, romping, or massed in lazy comfortable attitudes in the doorways.

In one place there was a public building which was fenced about with a thick, rusty chain, which sagged from post to post in a succession of low swings. The pavement, here, was made of heavy blocks of stone. In the glare of the moon a party of barefooted[1] children were swinging on those chains and having a noisy good time. They were not the

A Tramp Abroad 0125h.jpg

GENERATIONS OF BARE FEET.

first ones who had done that; even their great-great-grandfathers had not been the first to do it when they were children. The strokes of the bare feet had worn grooves inches deep in the stone flags; it had taken many generations of swinging children to accomplish that. Everywhere in the town were the mould and decay that go with antiquity, and evidence it; but I do not know that anything else gave us so vivid a sense of the old age of Heilbronn as those footworn grooves in the paving stones.

  1. but evidently the artist has had doubts.