A young man was on a visit to Rome. It was his first visit, and he was neither so young nor so simple as to imagine that a beautiful capital should hold out finer promises that anywhere else. He knew that life was mostly an illusion, that though beautiful things could happen, and he also knew that life could offer a quality even worse -the probability that nothing would happen at all. Thinking in this way, He listened to the swelling hum of the evening traffic and watched Rome’s golden dusk -everyone in the city seemed intent on the evening purpose. He alone nothing to do so he kept to the quieter, older streets. In one such road, a pavementless alley between old houses he noticed that he was alone but for the single figure of a woman walking down to hill toward him. As the drew nearer, he saw that she was dressed with taste, that in her carriage was a soft latin fire, that she walked for respect. Her face was veiled, but it was impossible to imagine that she would not be beautiful, isolated with her, passing so near to her a more magnificent melancholy gripped him .he felt wretched as the gutter, small, sunk so that he rounded his shoulders and lowered his eyes. He was so shocked at what he saw He had made no mistake. She was smiling .shewas very beautiful .’My home is just here .’They walked in silence a few paces down the street A servant greeted them in velvet livery They were served with a frothy wine. With her glances, w.ith many subtle inflections of teeth and eyes, she was inducing an intimacy that suggested much. He felt he must be careful. There was some sadness on her face. She begged him to spare himself any perturbation, and she knew it was strange that in such a situation he might suspect The possibility of a perfect encounter-a dream that years of disillusion will never quite kill -decided him His elation rose beyond control. He believed her. After that, the perfection compounded. At her invitation, they dined The servants retired A hush fell upon the house. They embraced. In her bedroom, to the picture of her framed by the bed curtains and dimly naked in a silken shift, he poured out his love -a love that was to be eternal, to be always perfect. Softly, she spoke the return of his love. Nothing would ever go amiss, and nothing would ever come between them but suddenly, at the moment when at last he lay beside her when his lips were almost upon hers -he hesitated. Something was wrong A flaw could be sensed. He had been so careless as to leave on the bright electric chandelier in the center of the ceiling. He remembers the switch was by the door. For a fraction, then, he hesitated. She raised her eyelids saw his glance at the chandelier, understood. Her eyes glittered. She murmured ‘My beloved, don’t worry, Don’t move “And she reached out her hand. Her hand grew more substantial. Her arms grew longer and longer, It stretched out through the bed curtains, across the long carpets, huge and overshadowed the whole of the long room, until at last its giant fingers were at the door. Who was she? a whore or a female ghost? Who knows.
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