The Marble Faun Volume 1 (Chapter 16)

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Chapter 16 : Page 1 of 12

The proposal for a moonlight ramble was received with acclamation by
all the younger portion of the company. They immediately set forth and
descended from story to story, dimly lighting their way by waxen tapers,
which are a necessary equipment to those whose thoroughfare, in the
night-time, lies up and down a Roman staircase. Emerging from the
courtyard of the edifice, they looked upward and saw the sky full of
light, which seemed to have a delicate purple or crimson lustre, or, at
least some richer tinge than the cold, white moonshine of other
skies. It gleamed over the front of the opposite palace, showing the
architectural ornaments of its cornice and pillared portal, as well as
the iron-barred basement windows, that gave such a prison-like aspect to
the structure, and the shabbiness and Squalor that lay along its base.
A cobbler was just shutting up his little shop, in the basement of the
palace; a cigar vender's lantern flared in the blast that came through
the archway; a French sentinel paced to and fro before the portal; a
homeless dog, that haunted thereabouts, barked as obstreperously at the
party as if he were the domestic guardian of the precincts.

The air was quietly full of the noise of falling water, the cause
of which was nowhere visible, though apparently near at hand. This
pleasant, natural sound, not unlike that of a distant cascade in the
forest, may be heard in many of the Roman streets and piazzas, when
the tumult of the city is hushed; for consuls, emperors, and popes, the
great men of every age, have found no better way of immortalizing their
memories than by the shifting, indestructible, ever new, yet unchanging,
upgush and downfall of water. They have written their names in that
unstable element, and proved it a more durable record than brass or
marble.


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