The people crowded from every side to see the procession. The windows clattered with every gust of wind. The interior of the temple was drowned in clouds of incense, and sounds of musical instruments rose intermittently to a clear pitch and disappeared into the mysterious distance. The eight men, now lost in the general scuffle, and dazed with a sort of religious fervor, stretched their arms, ready to start.
“One! . . . Two! . . . Three! . . .” cried Mattao.
With a concentrated effort they all tried to lift the statue from the altar. But the weight was too great, and the statue bent over a little to the left. The men had scarcely time to gain a firm hold on the pedestal. They leaned forward to retain their balance, but the less dextrous, among them Biagio di Clisci and Giovanni Curo, let the statue slip from their hands. It fell with all its weight to one side. Ummalido uttered a piercing cry.
“Look out! Look out!” shouted the people on every side whe