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I was in Rome. For ten days with a sirocco wind the rains had descended, as surely they had never come down since the windows of heaven were opened at the Flood. The Tiber rose thirty-two feet. Now Rome is tunnelled under the streets with drains or sewers that carry all the refuse of a great city into the Tiber. But, naturally, when the Tiber swells high above the crowns of the sewers, they are choked. All the foulness of the great town is held back under the houses and streets, and breeds gases loathsome to the nose and noxious to life. Not only so, but a column of water, some twenty to twenty-five feet in height, is acting like the piston of a pop-gun, and is driving all the accumulated gases charged with the germs of typhoid fever into every house which has communication with the sewers. There is no help for it, the poisonous vapours must be forced out of the drains and must be forced into the houses. That is why, with a rise of the Tiber, typhoid fever is certain to break out in Rome. As I went over Ponte S. Angelo I was wont to look over the parapet at the opening of the sewer that carried off the dregs of that portion of the city where I was residing. One day I looked for it, and looked in vain. The Tiber had swelled and was overflowing its banks, and for a week or fortnight there could be no question, not a sewer in the vast city would be free to do anything else but mischief. I did not go on to the Vatican galleries that day. I could not have enjoyed the statues in the Braccio Nuovo, nor the frescoes in the Loggia. I went home, found Messrs. Allen's letter, packed my Gladstone bag, and bolted. I shall never learn who got the microbe destined for me, which I dodged. I went to Florence; at the inn where I put up—one genuinely Italian, Bonciani's,—I made an acquaintance, a German Jew, a picture-dealer with a shop in a certain capital, no matter which, editor of a bric-à-brac paper, and a right merry fellow. I introduce him to the reader because he afforded me some information concerning Provence. He had a branch establishment—never mind where, but in Provence—and he had come to Florence to pick up pictures and bric-à-brac. Our acquaintance began as follows. We sat opposite each other at table in the evening. A large rush-encased flask is set before each guest in a swing carriage, that enables him to pour out his glassful from the big-bellied flask without effort. Each flask is labelled variously Chianti, Asti, Pomino, but all the wines have a like substance and flavour, and each is an equally good light dinner-wine. A flask when full costs three francs twenty centimes; and when the guest falls back in his seat, with a smile of satisfaction on his face, and his heart full of good will towards all men, for that he has done his dinner, then the bottle is taken out, weighed, and the guest charged the amount of wine he has consumed. He gets a fresh flask at every meal.

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