Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (Italian).djvu/33

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25
A GREAT DAY.

helped, made way, co-operated; the whole immense multitude seemed to be under orders. Gradually the disturbance ceased, the noise diminished, the gesticulation subsided; and looking about one saw that all the soldiers, women, and children in the crowd had disappeared as if by magic.

"There they all stood, on the right side of the square, divided into three great battalions that extended from the door of St, Peter's to the centre of the colonnade, all facing the Vatican, packed together and motionless. The crowd burst into frantic applause."

"But the Vatican?" the whole family cried out for the third time.

"Shut up and silent as a convent; but wait. Suddenly the applause ceased, and every head turned backward, whispering: 'Silence!' The whisper travelled across the square and down the length of the two streets leading to it; gradually the sound died out, and the crowd became absolutely, incredibly silent: it was supernatural. All at once, in the midst of this silence, we heard a faint mysterious chirping; a vague, diffused sound of voices, that seemed to come from overhead. Gradually it grew louder, and there was an uncertain gathering of shrill, discordant tones, now close by, now far off, but growing steadier and more harmonious, until at length it was blent in a single tremulous silvery chant that soared