Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Too Expensive a Place


Paul Lacroix, a French writer and bibliophile, was at one time seriously out of health and took refuge in Italy. Bronchitis had fastened itself upon him, and his pallor and general feebleness of appearance were so marked that he sometimes saw people point the finger at him in the street and say to each other in an undertone, "A consumptive!"

He had taken lodgings in Rome, when, one day, the proprietor of the house mounted the stairs, rapped at the door and came in. Lacroix was just then in a coughing paroxysm.

"Signor," began the householder, "who is responsible for you?"

"What do you mean?" asked the astonished Frenchman.

"If you should die, who would pay the expenses?"

"I hope not to die yet awhile," answered Lacroix. "Besides I am not very ambitious. A modest burial would suit me."

"But who will pay me?"

"Why, man, I pay you myself every week!"

"No, no. I am speaking of this bed, this armchair, this table, this carpet — everything in the chamber. Everything will have to be burned after the death of a consumptive."

"My dear sir," said Lacroix, "I am not rich enough to die in Rome. I will go to Naples."

The next day, indeed, he set out for southern Italy, but he lived for many years to tell the story of his banishment from the Holy City. — Youth's Companion.

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