by gabriele d'annunzio
THE great sandy piazza glittered as if strewn with powdered pumice. Its whitewashed houses held a strange metallic glow, like the walls of an immense furnace cooling off. The glare of the clouds, reflected from the stone pillars of the church at its far end, gave them the appearance of red granite. The church windows blazed as with inward fire. The sacred images had assumed life-like colors and attitudes, and the massive edifice seemed lifted now, in the splendor of the new celestial phenomenon, to a prouder domination than ever, above the houses of Radusa.
Groups of men and women, gesticulating and talking loudly, were pouring from the streets into the square. Superstitious terror grew in leaps and bounds from face to face. A thousand awful images of divine punishment rose out of their rude fancies; and comments, eager disputes, plaintive appeals, wild stories, prayers,