It was in coming out of the Baptistery that they met with an adventure which Amy could never quite forget. Pisa is the mendicant city of Italy, and her streets are infested with a band of religious beggars who call themselves the Brethren of the Order of Mercy. They wear loose black gowns, sandals laced over their bare feet, and black cambric masks with holes, through which their eyes glare awfully, and they carry tin cups for the reception of offerings, which they thrust into the faces of all strangers visiting the city, whom they look upon as their lawful prey.

As our party emerged from the Baptistery, two of these Brethren espied them, like great human bats came swooping down upon them with long strides, their black garments flying in the wind, their eyes rolling strangely behind their masks, and brandishing their alms cups, which had `Pour les Pauvres' lettered upon them, and gave forth a clapping sound like a watchman's rattle. There was something terrible in their appearance and the rushing speed of their movements. Amy screamed and ran behind her mother, who visibly shrank. Katy stood her ground; but the bat-winged fiends in Doré's illustrations to Dante occurred to her, and her fingers trembled as she dropped some money in their cups.

Even mendicant friars are human. Katy ceased to tremble as she observed that one of them, as he retreated, walked backward for some distance in order to gaze longer at Mrs Ashe, whose cheeks were flushed bright pink, and who was looking particularly handsome. She began to laugh instead, and Mrs Ashe laughed too, but Amy could not get over the impression of having been attacked by demons, and often afterwards she shuddered when she thought of those awful black things that flew at her and she had hidden behind mamma. The ghastly pictures of the Triumph of Death, which were presently exhibited to them on the walls of the Campo Santo, did not reassure her, and it was with quite a pale, scared little face that she walked toward the hotel where they were to lunch, and she held fast to Katy's hand.

Their way led them through a narrow street inhabited by the poorer classes - a dusty street with high shabby buildings on either side and wide doorways giving glimpses of interior courtyards, where empty hogsheads and barrels and rusty cauldrons lay, and great wooden trays of macaroni were spread out in the sun to dry. Some of the macaroni was grey, some white, some yellow; none of it looked at all desirable to eat, as it lay exposed to the dust, with long lines of ill-washed clothes flapping above on wires stretched from one house to another. As is usual in poor streets, there were swarms of children, and the appearance of little Amy with her long bright hair falling over her shoulders, and Mabel clasped in her arms, created a great sensation. The children in the street shouted and exclaimed, and other children within the houses heard the sounds and came trooping out, while mothers and older sisters peeped from the doorways. The very air seemed full of eager faces and little brown and curly heads bobbing up and down with excitement, and black eyes fixed upon big beautiful Mabel, who with her thick wig of flaxen hair, her blue velvet dress and jacket, feathered hat, and little muff, seemed to them like some strange small marvel from another world. They could not decide whether she was a living child or a make-believe one, and they dared not come near enough to find out, so they clustered at a little distance, pointed with their fingers, and whispered and giggled, while Amy, much pleased with the admiration shown for her darling, lifted Mabel up to view.

At last one droll little girl with a white cap on her round head seemed to make up her mind, and, darting indoors, returned with her doll - a poor little image of wood, its only garment a coarse shirt of red cotton. This she held out for Amy to see. Amy smiled for the first time since her encounter with the bat-like friars, and Katy, taking Mabel from her, made signs that the two dolls should kiss each other. But though the little Italian screamed with laughter at the idea of a bacio between two dolls, she would by no means allow it, and hid her treasure behind her back, blushing and giggling, and saying something very fast which none of them understood, while she waved two fingers at them with a curious gesture.

`I do believe she is afraid Mabel will cast the evil eye on her doll,' said Katy at last, with a sudden understanding as to what this pantomime meant.

`Why, you silly thing,' cried the outraged Amy, `do you suppose for one moment that my child could hurt your dirty old dolly? You ought to be glad to have her noticed at all by anybody that's clean.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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