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The rescuers also of the Blonde, the flesh and bone, without which the master brain must still have lain stranded, were to have a grand supper in the covered skittle-alley, as the joints came away from their betters, this lower deck being in command of Captain Tugwell, who could rouse up his crew as fast as his lordship roused his officers.

To the familiar simplicity of that Italian building there were not lacking signs of a certain spiritual change, for out of the olive-grove which grew to its very doors a skittle-alley had been formed, and two baby cypress-trees were cut into the effigies of a cock and hen.

If you traverse Cathedral Square, no larger than an ordinary-sized skittle-alley, you arrive by Sunnyside Steps to the Europa Pass. Notices are posted by the roadside cautioning against plucking flowers or treading on the beds under pain of prosecution. But the bazaar bewilders you with its alien figures, its confusion of tongues, and its eccentric contrasts of dress.

On the walls hung wire baskets with ferns in them, alternating with brackets carrying plaster statuary Garibaldi, and the infant Samuel, and Queen Victoria, and other heroes of modern Italy. Down on one side of the fore-court ran a skittle-alley, with benches along it and little wooden tables marked with rings that hinted at beer-mugs.

I did not despise the olive-trees, the warm sun, the pine scent, all those material things which had made him so thick and strong; I did not despise the golden, tenuous imaginings which the trees and rocks and sea were starting in my own spirit. Why, then, despise the skittle-alley, the gramophone, those expressions of the spirit of my friend in the billy-cock hat? To despise them was ridiculous!

With this he opened a door upon the left and led the way through a dark passage to a covered skittle-alley at the back of the house. It was a deserted and ramshackle arcade and offered the poorest cover from the rain, which dripped through the roof and drifted under the eaves. The skittles lay here and there, as if the last player, weary of the game, had been tossing them about at haphazard.

Consuls and judges of the Consular Courts meet men over on leave from the China ports, or it may be Manila, and they all talk tea, silk, banking, and exchange with its fixed residents. Everything is always as bad as it can possibly be, and everybody is on the verge of ruin. That is why, when they have decided that life is no longer worth living, they go down to the skittle-alley to commit suicide.

The song of a gramophone, too, was breaking forth into the air, as it were the presiding voice of a high and cosmopolitan mind. And, lost in admiration, we became conscious of the odour of a full-flavoured cigar. Yes in the skittle-alley a gentleman was standing who wore a bowler hat, a bright brown suit, pink tie, and very yellow boots.

On the walls hung wire baskets with ferns in them, alternating with brackets carrying plaster statuary Garibaldi, and the infant Samuel, and Queen Victoria, and other heroes of modern Italy. Down on one side of the forecourt ran a skittle-alley, with benches along it and little wooden tables marked with rings that hinted at beer-mugs.

That Italian gentleman of the world, with his bowler hat, his skittle-alley, his gramophone, who had planted himself down in this temple of wild harmony, was he not Progress itself the blind figure with the stomach full of new meats and the brain of raw notions?