The exhausted and famished tenor sings to the capon hanging outside an upper window, as he inhales the appetizing aroma of the roast cooking in the kitchen on the ground floor, and while he scratches and scrapes his violin a dog sets up a howl, boys stand and jeer, and the curious rise from the table and with mouths full appear at the windows.
Alas! alas! what cruel contrasts and what bitter ironies! The tightened heartstrings respond with the one pitiful note, “The penny for food.”
Instead of experiencing a feeling of irritation at all these discordant voices and all these instruments of auricular torment, my heart turned in unconscious admiration toward this superhuman art which is the refuge of derelict creatures too old or not old enough to work; toward this much-outraged melody which obtains for unfortunate humanity the crust of bread, otherwise sought often in vain from the charity of fellowman, and which although offending the ear gives compensation by