Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (Italian).djvu/32

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24
A GREAT DAY.

seemed to undulate and blend; banners, green boughs, fluttering rags, were tossed back and forth as though upon a dancing sea. The crowd seethed and quivered as if the ground underfoot were on fire.

"Suddenly there was a shout that swept over the whole square: 'The boys! The children! Let's have the children!'

"Then, as if every one were following some concerted plan of action, all the children in the square were lifted up above the crowd, and the men and women who carried them fought a way through to the front of the Vatican. The bigger boys made their own way. Bands of ten and twenty of them, holding each other by the hand, wriggled between people's legs; hundreds of children, some on their own feet, some carried, some pushed, a whole world of little folk, hidden till then in the crowd, suddenly swarmed in one corner of the square; and how the women screamed! 'Take care!—Make room!—Look out for my child!'

"Presently there was another shout: 'The women now! The women!' and another shuffling up and settling down of the crowd. Then a third shout, louder than any of the others: 'The army! The troops!' this time. Then came the most indescribable agitation, but underneath it all a sense of order and rapidity; none of the ordinary confusion and delay; every one