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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 330 pages of information about Aaron's Rod.

Aaron slipped back across the road, and walked away under the houses towards the Ponte Vecchio.  He passed the bridge—­and passed the Uffizi—­watching the green hills opposite, and San Miniato.  Then he noticed the over-dramatic group of statuary in the Piazza Mentana—­ male and physical and melodramatic—­and then the corner house.  It was a big old Florentine house, with many green shutters and wide eaves.  There was a notice plate by the door—­“Pension Nardini.”

He came to a full stop.  He stared at the notice-plate, stared at the glass door, and turning round, stared at the over-pathetic dead soldier on the arm of his over-heroic pistol-firing comrade; Mentana —­and the date!  Aaron wondered what and where Mentana was.  Then at last he summoned his energy, opened the glass door, and mounted the first stairs.

He waited some time before anybody appeared.  Then a maid-servant.

“Can I have a room?” said Aaron.

The bewildered, wild-eyed servant maid opened a door and showed him into a heavily-gilt, heavily-plush drawing-room with a great deal of frantic grandeur about it.  There he sat and cooled his heels for half an hour.  Arrived at length a stout young lady—­handsome, with big dark-blue Italian eyes—­but anaemic and too stout.

“Oh!” she said as she entered, not knowing what else to say.

“Good-morning,” said Aaron awkwardly.

“Oh, good-morning!  English!  Yes!  Oh, I am so sorry to keep you, you know, to make you wait so long.  I was upstairs, you know, with a lady.  Will you sit?”

“Can I have a room?” said Aaron.

“A room!  Yes, you can.”

“What terms?”

“Terms!  Oh!  Why, ten francs a day, you know, pension—­if you stay—­ How long will you stay?”

“At least a month, I expect.”

“A month!  Oh yes.  Yes, ten francs a day.”

“For everything?”

“Everything.  Yes, everything.  Coffee, bread, honey or jam in the morning:  lunch at half-past twelve; tea in the drawing-room, half-past four:  dinner at half-past seven:  all very nice.  And a warm room with the sun—­Would you like to see?”

So Aaron was led up the big, rambling old house to the top floor—­then along a long old corridor—­and at last into a big bedroom with two beds and a red tiled floor—­a little dreary, as ever—­but the sun just beginning to come in, and a lovely view on to the river, towards the Ponte Vecchio, and at the hills with their pines and villas and verdure opposite.

Here he would settle.  The signorina would send a man for his bags, at half past two in the afternoon.

At luncheon Aaron found the two friends, and told them of his move.

“How very nice for you!  Ten francs a day—­but that is nothing.  I am so pleased you’ve found something.  And when will you be moving in?” said Francis.

“At half-past two.”

“Oh, so soon.  Yes, just as well.—­But we shall see you from time to time, of course.  What did you say the address was?  Oh, yes—­just near the awful statue.  Very well.  We can look you up any time—­and you will find us here.  Leave a message if we should happen not to be in—­we’ve got lots of engagements—­”

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