Castellinaria - and Other Sicilian Diversions
by Henry Festing Jones
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This ebook was transcribed by Les Bowler.



[Picture: Title page]


First Published . . . 1911 Re-issued . . . 1920



It is probable that every book contains, besides misprints, some statements which the author would be glad to modify if he could. In Chapter V of Diversions in Sicily it is stated that the seating arrangements of the marionette theatre in Catania would be condemned by the County Council, which I believe to be correct, but, on visiting the theatre since, I find I was wrong in saying that there are no passages; I did not see them on my first visit because the audience hid them.

Again, in Chapter XVI it is stated that Giovanni Grasso enters in the third act of La Morte Civile, whereas he enters in the second act. I have since seen the play several times, and, though it is tedious, it is not so much so as to justify a spectator in thinking any of its acts long enough for two.

In Chapter IV I say that the Government makes an annual profit of 3,000,000 pounds sterling out of the lottery, but I do not say whether this profit is gross or net. There is a paragraph in the Morning Post, 12 September, 1911, which states clearly that never since the union of Italy has the State lottery been so productive as in the present year of Jubilee; the gross yield has been 3,715,088 pounds, and the net gain, after deducting commissions and prizes, 1,489,180 pounds.

In Chapter XV it is stated that the words of the play in Signor Greco's marionette theatre in Palermo are always improvised except in the case of Samson. This is incorrect. The words of the long play about the paladins are improvised, but they have in the theatre the MSS. of several religious plays by the author of Samson, who was a Palermitan, Filippo Orioles. All who are interested in the legends, folklore, popular entertainments, superstitions, and traditions of the people of Sicily are under deep obligations to Giuseppe Pitre, of Palermo, Professore di Demopsicologia, for his numerous volumes treating of those subjects. In Spettacoli e Feste Popolari Siciliane he gives the little that is known of Filippo Orioles, who died in 1793 at the great age of one hundred and six years. The subject of the most famous of his plays is the Passion of Jesus Christ, and its title in English signifies The Redemption of Adam. It has had an immense success throughout Sicily; it has been copied in MS. many times, printed continually, performed over and over again in theatres, in churches, in the public squares, and in private houses. It was written for living actors, and Signor Greco considers it too long for a performance by marionettes, so when they do it in his teatrino they treat it even more freely than our London managers treat a play by Shakespeare. Copies are difficult to procure because their owners keep them jealously. Professore Pitre has, however, lately added to our obligations by publishing a reprint of the play: Il Riscatto d'Adamo nella Morte di Gesu Cristo; Tragedia di Filippo Orioles, Palermitano; Riprodotta sulla edizione di 1750; con prefazione di G. Pitre. Palermo: Tipografia Vittoria Giliberti, Via Celso 93. 1909. A copy of this reprint is in the library of the British Museum.

Many of the friends who have helped me to write this book are named in the following pages, many more are unnamed. I hereby tender my thanks to all of them.

I specially thank Signor Cesare Coppo, of Casale-Monferrato, who, although he is not a Sicilian, has helped me in a manner which I will only hint at by saying that he could give a better account than I can of Peppino Pampalone, of Castellinaria.

To an English friend, Mr. Joseph Benwell Clark, I am indebted for the drawing on the title-page and on the cover. When any of the audience leaves Signor Greco's marionette theatre in Palermo to smoke a cigarette or to drink a glass of water between the acts he receives a ticket with a picture of two fighting paladins, which he gives up on returning. I brought away one of these tickets as a ricordo of the marionettes. The picture is not very clear, because it is printed from a wood-block that has been a good deal worn. Mr. Clark has made from it a drawing which looks more like what the artist originally intended, and I trust that Signor Greco will not be angry with us for assuming his permission to reproduce the picture.

In correcting the proof-sheets I have had the assistance of my sister, Miss Lilian Isabel Jones, and of my friend Mr. R. A. Streatfeild. I am much obliged to them both for the care which they have exercised.

I must not conclude without saying that Castellinaria still remains as in Chapter II of my previous book, "not so marked on any map of Sicily."

September, 1911




Enrico Pampalone entered the world with a compliment to his godfather, for of all the days in the year he chose to be born on my birthday. Peppino sent me a telegram at once, then a formal invitation to the christening, then a letter, an extract from which I translate:

With immense joy I inform you that Brancaccia has given to the light a fine, healthy boy. Mother and child are well and send you their salutations. We are all beside ourselves with delight at this happy event and my father is talking of his grandson all day long. In accordance with your promise, you ought to hold the baby at the baptism, but, as I absolutely cannot permit you to undertake so long a journey for this purpose, I am sending you a formal document and I beg you to return it to me at once signed with your name in order that the ceremony may take place with as little delay as possible.

We are all looking forward to the pleasure of seeing you playing with your godchild which you will be able to do on your next visit.

The formal document was to the following effect:

WHEREAS I the undersigned have undertaken the duty of acting as godfather to Enrico the new-born son of Giuseppe and Brancaccia Pampalone of the Albergo della Madonna (con giardino) Castellinaria Sicily AND WHEREAS I am detained in London for several weeks and desire that the baptism of the said infant shall not be delayed on that account NOW I DO HEREBY APPOINT Luigi Pampalone the father of the said Giuseppe Pampalone to be my substitute for me and in my name to hold the said Enrico Pampalone his grandson at the sacred font on the occasion of his baptism and to do all such other acts and deeds as may be necessary in the promises as fully and effectually as I could do the same if I were present in my own person I hereby agreeing to ratify and confirm all that the said Luigi Pampalone shall do by virtue of this writing AS WITNESS my hand this day of

I filled up the date, signed the document, and returned it to Peppino, and he told me all about the ceremony. By virtue of the christening I became the padrino of Enrico, who became my figlioccio, and I also became the compare of Peppino and Brancaccia and in some spiritual way a member of the family. Peppino sent me a post-card every week, and so I learnt that the baby was the finest ever seen, and weighed more and ate more than any baby that had ever been born in Castellinaria. Then there came information about the first tooth and the first intelligent, if unintelligible, sounds. Soon he was three months old, then six, then a year, and still I had not seen him.

When at last I returned to Sicily, he was more than a year old, and came down to the station to meet me. He laughed as soon as he saw me, threw away his india-rubber ball, and signified that he was to be given to me. Whatever he wants is always done at once and, as he never wants anything unreasonable, the method is working out admirably. I took him from Brancaccia, and he nestled down in my arms, all the time gazing up at me with an expression of satisfied wonder, as though at last he understood something that had been puzzling him. Peppino was present, but effaced himself by helping Carmelo with what he calls my "luggages." I suppose I exchanged the usual greetings with the parents, but they did not count, I had seen them since their marriage; this time I had come to see Enrico. There was some difficulty about getting into the carriage, because they thought I could not do it unless they took him away, and he did not want to be taken away. When we were settled, and Carmelo was driving us up the zig-zags, I said:

"Of course you don't expect me to know much about babies, not being married or anything—but isn't he an unusually fine child for his age?"

Brancaccia was much flattered and replied that recently, when they had bought him some new clothes, he took the size usually sold for babies of twice his age. This made Peppino laugh at his wife, and say that the compare might not know much about babies, but he knew how to get on the right side of Ricuzzu's mother.

"Why do you call him Ricuzzu?" I asked.

"Ricuzzu is Enrico in Sicilian."

"Then I shall call him Ricuzzu also."

"Of course, yes."

The motion of the carriage soon sent the child to sleep. I handed him back to Brancaccia, and looked at her as she sat with him in her arms. She was more beautiful than before, because of something that has eluded the skill of all the painters who have striven to capture it for their hortus siccus of the Madonna and Child, something that Enrico had awakened in her heart, and that I saw glowing in her eyes and throbbing in all her movements.

"Isn't he like Peppino?" asked Brancaccia.

"He is the very image of Peppino," I replied; but I noticed that he also had Brancaccia's blue eyes, and was promising to have her black hair.

We arrived at the Albergo della Madonna (con giardino) and Peppino took me up to my room. Brancaccia had been before us, and had put an enormous bunch of flowers in water on the table to greet me. I went out on the balcony, just to make sure that the panorama was still there, and, after putting myself straight, descended into the garden, where I found Peppino waiting for me, and where we were to have tea in the English manner—"sistema Inglese," as Brancaccia said.

The English system is not always in working order at a moment's notice, so we had time for a walk round. The afternoon breeze was conducting a symphony of perfumes, and, as we strolled among the blossoms that were the orchestra, we could identify the part played by each flower; sometimes one became more prominent, sometimes another, but always through the changing harmonies we could distinguish the stately canto fermo of the roses, counterpointed with a florid rhythm from the zagara. If Flaubert had been writing in Sicilian, he could have said "una corona di zagara," or, in English, "a wreath of orange-blossoms," and he need not have worried himself to death by trying to elude the recurrent "de" of "une couronne de fleurs d'oranger." There was also music of another kind coming from a passero solitario (the blue rock thrush) who was hanging in a cage in a doorway. We spoke to him, and he could not have made more fuss about us if we had been the King of Italy and the Pope of Rome paying him a visit.

I said, "Aren't you pleased with your beautiful garden, Peppino?"

He replied, "Yes, and other things too. Sometimes I am cross with my life; but I think of Brancaccia and the baby, and I look around me, and then I says to myself, 'Ah, well, never mind! Be a good boy!'"

Presently we came to a fountain which, when I turned a tap, twisted round and round, spouting out graceful, moving curves, and the drops fell in the basin below and disturbed the rose-leaves that were sleeping on the water. I also found an image of the Madonna and Bambino in a corner, with an inscription in front promising forty days' indulgence to anyone who should recite devoutly an Ave before it. I understood this as well as one who is not a Roman Catholic can be said to understand such a promise, and better than I understood another image to which Peppino called my attention. It was a small coloured crockery S. Giuseppe, standing on the top of the wall and looking into the garden, protected by a couple of tiles arranged over him as an inverted V, and held in place by dabs of mortar.

I said, "Why do you keep your patron saint on the wall like that?"

He replied that it had nothing to do with him. The land over the wall belongs to the monks, and they put the saint up to gaze into the garden in the hope that Peppino's father might thereby become gradually illuminated with the idea of giving them a piece of his land; they wanted it to join to their own, which is rather an awkward shape just there. The influence of S. Giuseppe had already been at work four years, but Peppino's father still remained obstinately unilluminated.

Carmelo brought the tea and set a chair for Ricuzzu, who has his own private meals like other babies but likes to sit up to the table and watch his father and mother having theirs, occasionally honouring their repast by trying his famous six—or is it seven?—teeth upon a crust, which he throws upon the ground when he has done with it. So we all four sat together in the shade of the Japanese medlar-tree and talked about the changes in the town since my last visit.

First Peppino repeated something he had told me last time I was there, before Ricuzzu was born. It was about the horror of that fatal night when he heard his father crying in the dark; he went to his parents' room to find out what was the matter, and heard the old man babbling of being lost on Etna, wandering naked in the snow. Peppino struck a light, which woke his father from his dream, but it did not wake his mother. She had been lying for hours dead by her husband's side.

When the body was laid out and the watchers were praying by it at night, the widower sat in a chair singing. He was not in the room with the body, he had his own room, and his song was unlike anything Peppino had ever heard; it had no words, no rhythm, no beginning and no end, yet it was not moaning, it was a cantilena of real notes. It seemed to be a comfort to him in his grief to pour these lamenting sounds out of his broken heart. All the town came to the funeral, for the family is held in much respect, and there were innumerable letters of condolence and wreaths of flowers. When it was over, Peppino wrote a paragraph which appeared in the Corriere di Castellinaria:

A tutte le pie cortesi persone che con assistenza, con scritti, con l'intervento ai funebri della cara sventurata estinta, con adornarne di fiori l'ultima manifestazione terrena desiderarono renderne meno acre it dolore, ringraziamenti vivissimi porge la famiglia PAMPALONE.

He showed me this and waited while I copied it. When I had finished he went on, talking more to himself than to me:

"The life it is not the same when we are wanting someone to be here that is gone away. When we were young and this person was living, things it was so; now we can understand this person who is gone, and things it is other. This is not a good thing. Now is the time this dear person should be living; now would we be taking much care."

For many weeks they feared lest the father might follow the mother, but he began to take a new interest in life on the day when Peppino brought home his bride, and when Ricuzzu was born he soon became almost his old self.

"Things it is like that," said Peppino; "the young ones are coming to dry the eyes that have tears in them because the old ones are going away."

Brancaccia's attention was occupied by the tea and the baby, and by trying to follow Peppino's talk. He has been giving her English lessons and, though she has not yet got much beyond saying, "Me no speakare l'Inglese," she is quick enough to know what he is talking about, especially as she has heard most of it before. She now said a few words in dialect, evidently reminding him of something, and he at once began to tell me about their wedding tour. He had told me some of it last time I was there, and how he had wanted to take his bride to England and show her London, but they had not time enough, and that journey has been put off for some future occasion. They went to Venice, which was a particularly suitable place, because his cousin Vanni was there with his ship, the Sorella di Ninu, unloading a cargo of wine; they crossed by night to Naples, and Peppino showed Brancaccia Pompeii and all the sights; then they went to Rome for a few days and on, through Florence, to Venice. They stayed there a week, and then Vanni, having unloaded his wine, took them down the Adriatic and brought them safely home again.

"It was sun," said Peppino, "and we was in Venice, Sammarco Place, where is—how speak you the colomba?—Excuse me, it is the dove. And there was different other people also—love-people, the young ones that go to the field in the spring to take the flower Margherita, and to be pulling the leaves to know the future, plenty many; also sposi, and some that bring the macchina to make the picture, and the bride was to be standing with the colomba in the hand. She put the grain in the hand, and would have a colomba that was with his feet in her finger and eat the grain; but the bridegroom was not clever to take the photograph and the colomba was—what is it?—he was finish his grain and flied away, and she was telling to her sposo:

"'Now you are not clever to take the photograph and you shall be obliged to pay for another packet of grain.'

"In the second time, not only a colomba was in the hand but also another one was stopping in the hat very large with the colomba, too large, I am not certain that the bridegroom was able to take all the photograph."

Whereupon Brancaccia interposed, producing the result, and I exclaimed:

"Why, it is Brancaccia herself! I did not know you meant that this happened to you. I thought you were telling me about other sposi, not about yourselves."

Then they laughed together, and I saw that Brancaccia, by showing me the photograph, had let out more than was intended, unless perhaps it was all intended; either way, no harm was done, and I was allowed to put the picture in my pocket.

Carmelo came to clear away the tea, and I said:

"It seems to me, Peppino, that you have a new waiter. What has become of Letterio?"

"Ah! you do not know about Letterio. Now I shall tell you."

At this point it became necessary for Brancaccia to disappear somewhat suddenly with the baby.

"It was festa," said Peppino, "and Letterio was drinking and his friends were telling to drink some more, and he was drinking plenty much. Then was he going out in a very hurry and was telling that he would be married very directly and was meeting a girl and was telling: 'Please, you, marry me this day.' And the girl was telling: 'Go away, Letterio, you are a drunk man.' And he was finding another girl and they was telling the same things—plenty girls—all that day. Afterwards many weeks are passing and Letterio don't be asking to be married, he was telling always that he would not be married never, never, never; also with the suspicion that no girl would take him. Excuse me, it is like the man who was fell down from the horse and was telling that he was go down—was not fell down. And it was festa again and Letterio was drinking plenty much again and was going on the street again and was meeting a girl again and was telling: 'Please, you, marry me very directly.' And the girl was replying: 'Yes.'"

"But surely," I exclaimed, "surely they were not so silly as to get married when he was sober, were they?"

It seemed, however, that they were. To save the expense and avoid the chaff that would have attended a marriage in Castellinaria, they went to the next village for a couple of days and returned married.

"But when the man," said Peppino, "must be finding the courage in the bottle, this is not a good thing. The courage for the happy marriage must be in the heart. We know that good wine it is sincero, it makes to be speaking the truth; yes, very likely. But the wine it is sometimes traditore, it can also be telling the—what is bugia? Excuse me, it is the lie."

"And so Letterio is married?"

"Look here, he was married. Now I shall tell you. Oh! what a bad woman she was! Impossible to keep her in the albergo. 'Please go away, Letterio; I am very sorry; you and your wife also.' And went away, to his home in Messina and his wife also. In the winter was coming the disaster, the terremoto, the earthquake, and the city was finished to be consumed and the train was bringing the fugitives all day and all night. I was down to the station, Brancaccia was making ready the beds, Carmelo was driving them up and was bringing more and then more—broken people, also whole people, all without nothing, very undressed, and the albergo was became a hospital, a refugio, and the doctors were committing operations upon them in the bedrooms and were curing them and curing them till they died and went away in the cimitero—Oh! it was very pitiful—and sometimes they were repairing them and sending them away in the train. And I was making the journey with the hopeness to un-dig Letterio. During three days was I searching the mournful ruins of Messina but I don't be finding Letterio, nor alive nor dead, nor his wife, and I am unhappy; also Brancaccia is unhappy. This is why she was now going away with Ricuzzu."

"Oh! I thought probably the baby had—"

"Yes, many times that is the explication, but this time it is other; it is that she don't like to be hearing the story of Letterio. I shall tell you that Brancaccia is a gentle person, very tender in the heart."

"Yes," I agreed, "of course she is. But are not you both making too much of this? You could not have known there would be an earthquake in Messina. If there was to be one it might have been in some other city, and they would not have been destroyed."

"Look here; perhaps she was not a so bad woman; perhaps some day she would be making a little Ricuzzu and would be learning to be a good woman."

"She might learn very slowly or not at all; and think of her poor husband all the time!"

"Let us talk of something other. Do you remember Alfio Mascalucia?"

"Perhaps; what did he do?"

"You were always calling him Bellini."

"In the barber's shop opposite? Of course, I remember him, but I had no idea he had such a magnificent name or I never should have dared to take liberties with it."

I remembered him very well. I remembered going into the shop one day and he was alone, busy writing at a table in the corner. He said he was composing a polka. He had ruled his own staves because, like Schubert, he could not afford to buy music paper; he wanted all the money he could save to pay a publisher to publish his polka—just as we do in England—and if it succeeded his fortune would be made. I felt a sinking at the heart, as though he was telling me he had been gazing on the mirage of the lottery until he had dreamt a number. He had filled about two pages and a half with polka stuff, but had not yet composed the conclusion.

"You see, what I must do is to make it arrive there where the bars end" (he had drawn his bar lines by anticipation); "that will not be difficult; it is the beginning that is difficult—the tema. It does not much matter now what I write for the coda in those empty bars, but I must fill them all with something."

I said, "Yes. That, of course—well, of course, that is the proper spirit in which to compose a polka."

As I had shown myself so intelligent, he often talked to me about his music and his studies; he had an Italian translation of Cherubini's Treatise, and had nearly finished all the exercises down to the end of florid counterpoint in four parts. His professor was much pleased with him, and had congratulated him upon possessing a mind full of resource and originality—just the sort of mind that is required for composing music of the highest class. He explained to me that counterpoint is a microcosm. In life we have destiny from which there is no escape; in counterpoint we have the canto fermo of which not a note may be altered. Destiny, like the canto fermo, is dictated for us by One who is more learned and more skilful than we; it is for us to accept what is given, and to compose a counterpoint, many counterpoints, that shall flow over and under and through, without breaking any of the rules, until we reach the full close, which is the inevitable end of both counterpoint and life.

I called him Bellini because he told me that the composer of Norma had attained to a proficiency in counterpoint which was miraculous, and that he was the greatest musician the world had ever known. This high praise was given to Bellini partly, of course, because he was a native of Catania. London is a long way from Catania, and in England perhaps we rather neglect Italian music of the early part of last century. Once, at Casale-Monferrato, I heard a travelling company do I Puritani; they did it extremely well, and I thought the music charming, especially one sparkling little tune sung by Sir Giorgio to warn Sir Riccardo that if he should see a couple of fantasmas they would be those of Elvira and Lord Arturo. Alfio may have been thinking of the maxim, "Ars est celare artem," and may have meant to say that Bellini had shown himself a more learned contrapuntist than (say) Bach, by concealing his contrapuntal skill more effectually than Bach had managed to conceal his in the Mass in B minor. While my hair was being cut I examined the polka with interest; it was quite carefully done, the bass was figured all through and the discords were all resolved in the orthodox manner; after the shop was shut he came over to the albergo and played it to us on the piano in the salon. I should say it was a very good polka, as polkas go, and certainly more in the manner of the Catanian maestro than in that of the Leipzig cantor.

"And what about Alfio?" I asked. "Did he also marry a bad woman?"

Then Peppino told me the story of the Figlio di Etna. He called him this because he came from a village on the slopes of the volcano, where his parents kept a small inn, the Albergo Mongibello, and where also lived his cousin Maria, to whom he was engaged. In the days when he used to talk to me about his counterpoint, Alfio was about twenty-four, and always so exceedingly cheerful and full of his music that no one would have suspected that his private life was being carried on in an inferno, yet so it was; a widow had fallen in love with him, and had insisted on his living with her. "And look here," said Peppino, "the bad day for Alfio was the day when he went to the house of the widow." He was too much galantuomo to resist; he had not forgotten Maria but he thought she could wait, and besides, he was at first flattered by the widow's attentions and amused by the novelty of the situation; but he never cared for the widow, and soon his chains became unbearable. As Peppino said, "There don't be some word to tell the infernalness it is when you are loved by the woman you hate." He exercised his contrapuntal ingenuity by devising schemes for circumventing this troublesome passage in the canto fermo of his life without breaking any of the rules, and finally hit upon the device of running away. So many men in a similar difficulty have done the same thing, that his professor, and even the stern Cherubini himself, would have condemned the progression less on account of its harshness and irregularity than because of its lack of originality. He scraped together about fifty francs and disappeared to Livorno where he soon found work in a barber's shop, cutting hair, trimming and shaving beards and whiskers, and making wigs for the theatre. He wrote the widow two letters containing nothing but conventional compliments, and displayed his resource and originality by posting one in the country and sending the other to a friend in Genoa who posted it there.

After about three months of freedom, counterpoint and hair-dressing, he was sent for to return to his village for a few days and vote; Peppino anticipated my inquiry about the money for the journey by protesting that he knew nothing about the details of politics. However it may have been managed, Alfio got leave from his employer, went home and voted. He said nothing about the widow, but he promised Maria to return and marry her in a year, when he should have saved enough money. He did not know how he was going to do it, but he had to say something. Then the silly fellow must needs go for a day to Castellinaria to salute his friends in the barber's shop there—just as murderers seem never to learn that it is injudicious to re-visit the scenes of their crimes. Naturally the widow heard of his being in the town, they met in the street and had a terrible row. What frightened poor Alfio most was a sort of half persuasion that perhaps he had behaved badly to her. But he did not relent; he returned to his village, bade farewell to his family, embraced his adorata mamma, renewed his promise to Maria, went down to Catania, entered the station and turned pale as he saw the widow sitting in a corner with a parcel and a bundle.

"Where are you going?"

"I am coming with you."

He had let out that he would return to Livorno in a few days, and she had resolved to accompany him, wherever he might be going. She had sold all her furniture in a hurry and come to Catania, knowing that he must start from there. She waited for him inside the station when it was open, outside when it was shut; she had to wait four days and four nights. She refused to leave him. She bought her own ticket and travelled with him. They settled down in Livorno—if that can be called settling down which was a continual hurly-burly; the only repose about it appeared in the bar's rests to which poor Alfio's counterpoint was now reduced. He grew irritable, abused her and beat her; but she was one of those women who love their man more passionately the more he knocks them about. Maria sent him a post-card for his onomastico, and the widow got hold of it. This led to his leaving the house for a few nights, but she had always taken his money for housekeeping, so he had not enough to leave the town, and she came to the shop in the daytime and made such a disturbance that he was frightened into returning. He dreamt of disguising himself in one of his own theatrical wigs and escaping so, but the idea was too like some of those contrapuntal combinations which, as Cherubini says, may be employed in a study-fugue, but which in practical music, as in practical life, have to be weeded out by artificial selection.

Then his mother fell ill, and the family sent him the money to go home to embrace her. The widow had put some of his money by for an emergency. She was not going to lose sight of him again, especially now that she knew about Maria; she bought a ticket and came too. They spent the night at her brother's house in Catania and Alfio was to go next day to his village. She said she would come too, he said that nothing would induce him to take her with him. She implored and stormed and spat and swore, knowing all the time she could not appear in his village as belonging to him, and fearing that he intended to manipulate his going home alone into a way of escape. She pretended to acquiesce but, in the morning, as he was passing through the Quattro Canti she was there, disguised as a man in her brother's clothes, and before Alfio could recognise her she had stabbed him in the back and he fell down dead.

"But, Peppino," I exclaimed, "this is a worse tragedy than the other. What a horrible woman!"

"The Padre Eterno was very angry that day when he made the bad woman."

"Where is she now?"

"In prison."

"That is no satisfaction to poor Alfio."

"No; and not satisfaction to his family. His mother died of grief during that they were telling her his murder."

"And Maria?"

"Maria is telling that she would becoming a monkey-woman."

"What do you mean?"

"How do you say in English the lady-priest, the monaca?"

"Oh! yes,—a nun. But it seems a pity she should take such a serious step. It is a dreadful story, Peppino."

"Yes; and I am fortunate because I also meet the bad woman."

"Was Alfio's widow a friend of yours?"

"No; I meet her in London."

"I'm glad she did not stab you."

"Not the widow—some other woman."

"I don't quite understand."

"It is difficult to understand—difficult to be sure when it is the bad woman. The bad woman is like mosquitoes—not wanted but would not go away."

"Tell me what happened."

"When I was in London, I was at this place where is the—please, what is campo? No, not campo, but where is the beast with the horn in the head—the cervo?"

"Ah! yes, the deer. You mean the Zoological Gardens."

"No, no. This place where is the villa with the red palazzo and the chief labours of painting and beds and chinesy images are over the place where is coming the fire in the winter-time, and on the wall is also the armatura and the deer it is in the trees on the side of the river."

"I believe you mean Hampton Court."

"Yes, and was telling to the lady—she was a very kind lady—"

"But please, what lady? Alfio's widow was not at Hampton Court?"

"She was the wife of the plumber."

"I am afraid I am very stupid, Peppino, but I don't seem to get hold of it. Who is the plumber?"

"I meet him at Margate; also his lady, his wife; they invite me to their house; I accept their invitation."

"But Margate is not Hampton Court."

"No, they inhabit Hampton Court; they go to Margate for the villeggiatura, for the—how do you say?—for the baths of the sea."

"Oh, now I understand. You met them at Margate and they invited you to call on them at their house at Hampton Court."

"Of course, yes. And when I arrive, the husband, the plumber, he went away with his tools for his work in a sack, and his lady she says to me, 'Please sit down.' And we talk together. She was a very kind lady. And presently—she was on the sofa by the window and I was in a chair by the fire—presently her husband return. I was like a fish not in his water, but oh! it was my salvation. Why must he be leaving us together? She was a very kind lady. And then to be returning without noise, so soon and so sudden. Do you think—?"

I did not know. It looked rather like it, but the psychology of the Hampton Court plumber resembles the Italian music of the early part of last century in that it is but little studied among us. So I congratulated him on his escape, and inquired whether any of Alfio's compositions had been published.

"Alfio don't be writing no compositions."

"He told me he was composing music."

"Alfio never compose something. Too busy. Look here, the student that shall be always making the exercise he don't be never composing the music."

"But that polka? Don't you remember he came over to the albergo and played us his polka?"

"Alfio don't write the polka. His professor gave him the polka to copy for study."

"Oh! I see. Well, now don't you think we have had enough tragedies? Has nothing pleasant happened in the town since—? What a stupid question! Here is Brancaccia bringing the answer."

Brancaccia not only brought the baby, she also brought to show me the clothes in which he had been christened, just as on my last visit, before he was born, she had brought and shown me the clothes in which she had been married. I have a confused recollection of fine muslin and embroidery and pretty gay ribbons. I remember more clearly her necklace of Sicilian amber which has been in the family for generations and, in the natural order of things, will one day be passed on to the wife of Ricuzzu. Each piece of amber is circular, flat underneath and convex above, and is surrounded with a fine golden band whereby it is joined to the next, side by side. The two smallest, at the back of the wearer's neck, near the clasp, are about as big as threepenny bits, and the pieces increase in size through sixpences, shillings, florins, half-crowns, until the one in the middle on her breast is nearly as large as a five-shilling piece. They are all sorts of colours, honey-yellow, rich orange, Venetian red, brown sherry, some clear and some clouded, some have insects in them, some when held properly in the sunlight, have a fluorescent, hazy tinge like the blue in a horse's eye, some are a peacock-green and others a deep purple. The largest piece is green, and has objects in it which Brancaccia says are cherry-blossoms. Peppino accepts his wife's view because it amuses him to call this piece The Field of Enna, where Proserpine was gathering flowers when Pluto carried her off, and these are the flowers she was gathering. But he knows that this kind of amber is called Simetite, because it is the fossilised resin of some prehistoric tree that used to grow on the upper reaches of the river Simeto which rises at the back of Etna, beyond Bronte, and falls into the sea near Catania; whereas Castrogiovanni, which is the modern Enna, is not on the Simeto. Castrogiovanni is, however, not far from the upper part of another river, which falls into the Simeto near the sea. And he argues that if The Field of Enna was washed down the Castrogiovanni river it may still have exuded from a tree of the same kind as those that used to grow on the Simeto, and in any case it had to pass through the mouth of the Simeto before reaching the sea, and so it may be called Simetite. Having got into the sea, it was thrown up in a storm or found in a fisherman's net.

Then I must be shown the mule, with his beautiful harness, and the new cart which Ricuzzu had received as a birthday present from his grandfather; so we went to the stable. The cart was painted with the story of Orlando's madness, showing first how he had gone to bed in his boots; or rather how he lay outside a bed that was too short for him with all his armour on, like a lobster on a dish. This occurred in the house of a contadino who was standing with a lighted candle in his hand and had brought his wife. They did not know to whom they were speaking, and were telling him that the room had been occupied last by a knight and his lady and that the lady, in gratitude for their hospitality, had given the contadina a bracelet, saying that she had received it as a present from Orlando. And Orlando was exclaiming:

"Show me that bracelet."

In the second picture the contadina had brought the bracelet, and Orlando was sitting up, contemplating it and saying:

"It is the bracelet which I gave to Angelica. The last occupants of this bed must have been that fatal woman and her husband Medoro. I am Orlando Paladino."

These were the two panels on one side of the cart. On the other side, the third picture showed Orlando, who had got off the bed, and was standing up delivering a long "Addio" in the manner of Othello—one could almost hear the words: "Orlando's occupation's gone." The contadino and his wife were furtively leaving the room, perhaps because poetry bored these simple folk, but it may have been because Orlando, having no further use for his arms, was punctuating his speech by throwing away first la Durlindana, next his shield, then his helmet, his cuirass, front and back, his leggings, and his shirt.

In the last picture he had nothing on but a pair of short white drawers; he had gone quite mad and had knocked down the house; its fall revealed a smiling landscape across which peasants and sheep were escaping, and the trees shook with the violence of his fury. He was catching some of the peasants and throwing them away, shouting and cursing that fatal woman, and struggling to drown the music and the drum, which made a crescendo till the curtain fell. I should have recognised it even if the pictures had not had titles, because I had recently seen it in a marionette theatre.

The harness cost as much as the cart, and it took a month to make it. It was of leather, wood and metal, tasselled with gold and silver and wool of many colours; here and there were sparkling bits of looking-glass, and little pictures of ladies; here and there circles and crescents of blue and red felt, and little pictures of cupids and angels. Other spaces were covered with silver tinsel and spangles. There were spread eagles and horses' heads and two bouquets of artificial flowers. There was a St. George and the Dragon carved in wood and painted, there were bells and ribbons, and two trophies of coloured feathers, one for the head and another for the back, each more magnificent, and three or four times larger, than the plume which the maresciallo dei carabinieri wears with his gala uniform.


One day the bells were ringing for the festa of S. Somebody, but it was not really his day. Peppino told me that his proper day had been stormy or unsympathetic or the people had had some crops to get in or something else to do, and so the saint had had his festa shifted; or it may have been because some greater festival had fallen on S. Somebody's day owing to the mutability of Easter or for some other reason. I had been wishing I could have been at Castellinaria for the first anniversary of Ricuzzu's birth, I ought to have wished to be there for the festa of S. Enrico, but I did not know when it fell, nor did Peppino; but if festas might be transferred in this easy way, perhaps we might keep it now and find out afterwards to what extent it had been shifted. It would have been no use consulting the baby—besides, he would have been sure to agree—so as they were not very busy in the albergo it was decided that next day we would keep the onomastico of Ricuzzu and his padrino by driving down to the shore, throwing stones into the sea, and perhaps eating a couple of peperoni with a drop of oil and vinegar and a pinch of salt.

Next morning the mule, the cart and the harness were brought out; it was the first time they had all been used together, and when Peppino and Carmelo had harnessed the little beast, he trotted up and down in the sunshine as proud as though he had been clothed in a rainbow and freshened up with dewdrops.

I said: "Do you keep the onomastico of the mule also? It seems to me that he is as much pleased with himself as anyone. He looks as though he thought everything belonged to him. What is his name and when is his day?"

"We call him Guido Santo," replied Peppino. "We will make it his festa also and afterwards we shall be discovering his day in the calendario."

"And if it comes to that," I said, "why shouldn't we include you and Brancaccia?"

"Bravo!" shouted Peppino, "and Carmelo also. Festa rimandata per tutti!"

A chair for Brancaccia and the baby was tied in the cart among a multitude of parcels and baskets about which I thought it better not to inquire. Peppino and I sat on the floor in front, like the driver and his mate on an illustrated post-card, with our feet dangling down between the shafts among the mule's hind legs. Carmelo started us off and got in behind, and we drove to the sea, not the way to the station and the port, but by the road that descends on the other side of the headland. We passed by groves of lemon, star-scattered with fruit and blossom and enclosed in rough walls of black lava; by the grey-green straggling of the prickly pears and by vines climbing up their canes. We caught glimpses of promontories dotted with pink and white cottages and of the thread of foam that outlines the curve of the bay where a train was busily puffing along by the stony, brown beach, showing how much a little movement will tell in a still landscape. Behind the shimmering olives, first on one side, then on the other as we turned with the zig-zags of the dusty road, was the purple blue of the sea flecked with the white sails of fishing-boats and with the crests of whiter waves. Every one we met looked at us and admired the splendour of the cart and the sparkling newness of the harness until they caught sight of Brancaccia and the baby, and then they saw nothing but their beauty. We met the man who was riding up from the fishing village with baskets of fish for the town because it was Friday. Peppino and Carmelo disputed as to the amount he was carrying, and agreed at last that it must be about a hundred kilogrammes, partly by the quantity and partly because it had been good weather for fishing; when it is bad he cannot bring more than thirty, forty or fifty.

Peppino told me that our mule was the offspring of an ass and a mare. These, he says, are better than those born of a horse and a she-ass. Mules can be male or female, and Guido Santo was a male but, except for the fact that the males are stronger than the females, the sex of a creature that is incapable of reproducing itself is not a very interesting subject. Our mule was still young, and had not yet learnt the use of corners, nor how to pass things in the road. Carmelo often had to get down and continue his education. After one of these lessons he lighted his pipe with a sulphur match which tainted the morning air and offended Ricuzzu; but almost immediately we came to a forge and the blacksmith was striking a piece of iron on his anvil.

"Ricuzzu bello," said Brancaccia, "listen to the pretty music."

And Ricuzzu listened and laughed; the pleasant acid flavour of the note as it followed us corrected the sulphur, and he put up his face for a kiss. Brancaccia knew how to smooth away his troubles and how to deserve his thanks.

We passed a boy singing, and I said how pleasant it was to hear a real Sicilian melody sung by a modern Theocritus about the delights of his own country. But Peppino soon put a stop to that. The boy was one of a theatrical company that had arrived in the town from Piedmont where the song was popular; he did not know all the words, but it contained these:

Mamma mia, dammi cento lire Che in America voglio andar. Mother darling, give me a hundred lire For I want to be off to the States.

"Are they acting here?" I asked.

"They are reciting Il Diavolo Verde. You don't will go and see this evening?"

"If Brancaccia is not too tired, let us finish up Ricuzzu's festa by a visit to the theatre."

The baby was wide awake all the time, observing everything, and much interested. I said:

"I believe Ricuzzu understands that we are keeping his onomastico."

"Of course, yes," replied Peppino; "Ricuzzu very intelligent."

"I believe he even understands that it is not S. Enrico's day, and appreciates the idea of keeping his festa when it is convenient for everyone."

"Of course, yes; the idea is the thing. Always it is the idea. Did you know the idea of the girl who went to confess?"

"What is that?"

"Not now. Please expect. I am too much busy with Guido Santo. Please, when we shall be there."

On arriving at the shore we first found a cove where Brancaccia and Ricuzzu could be comfortable while Peppino, Carmelo and I went a little way off into a secluded place behind the rocks, undressed and bathed. We swam round and saluted the mother and child in their cove, but could not get near enough to splash them because the water was only a few inches deep near the shore and the proprieties had to be observed. When we were tired of swimming we came out and dressed. Then I took the baby while Peppino and Brancaccia went round into our dressing-room and he superintended her bath. Carmelo, in the meantime constructed a fireplace among the rocks and got his cooking things and all the parcels and baskets out of the cart. Peppino and Brancaccia returned, and we found a shallow, shady pool with a sandy bottom, undressed Ricuzzu, and put him into it. I observed that the baby's clothes were reefed with safety pins, but I said nothing about it, thinking the reefs could be let out when he had attained twice the age he was when they were bought. The proprieties did not matter with this bather, who soon learnt how to splash us. It may have been his padrino's vanity, but I thought he laughed loudest when he succeeded in splashing me.

The couple of peperoni had swelled into a regular colazione. First, of course, we had pasta, this time it was called lingue di passeri (sparrows' tongues), they have fifty different names for it according to its size and shape, but it is always pasta. Carmelo made a sauce for it over his fire with oil, onions, extract of tomatoes, and certain herbs; the recipe is a secret which is to be imparted to Ricuzzu when he is fifteen, but I think Brancaccia has already guessed it, though she is not supposed to know. As a rule, I try to get only half as much pasta as a Sicilian takes, and of that I can only eat half, but on this occasion, either because of Carmelo's cooking or the sea breeze, or the presence of Ricuzzu, I ate it all, and it made me feel like Rinaldo after the terrible fight in which he kills the centaur and stands at the wings panting for breath.

The pasta was followed by bacon and figs—an unexpectedly delicious combination; the bacon is uncooked and cut very thin, the figs are fresh and ripe, but it would not do in England because, although one could probably find the bacon in Soho, our figs never attain to Sicilian ripeness. Carmelo then surpassed himself with a pollo alla cacciatora, after which we had a mixed fry of all sorts of fish. Peaches out of the garden and cheese followed. Also we drank Peppino's own wine made from the grapes he had planted with his own hands and trodden with his own feet, and there was coffee with the cigarettes.

I said: "I did not know Carmelo was a cook, I thought he was a coachman."

"Also is he a cook. Also the nurse of Ricuzzu. Also a waiter. Very good boy Carmelo. We took him when Letterio went away."

"And Brancaccia is not afraid to have him as Ricuzzu's nurse?"

"Afraid? No. Why?"

"Because he has been in prison for stabbing his friend."

"Oh yes, in prison. But his friend was a bad man, was taking away Carmelo's girl."

"Did the friend marry Carmelo's girl?"

"Yes, and Carmelo got another girl. Plenty girls very fond of Carmelo. Look here, the girls always are liking the boy that has been in prison."

"Yes; well, of course, one can understand that. By the by, what was that about the girl who went to confess?"

"Did you know what is confess? All right, I shall tell you. The box is inside for the priest behind the railings, and the other place that is open is for the man or the woman that have sinned. And the girl is coming and is saying:

"'My father, I have sinned. I had the idea to rob my sister of a hen, but I would not do it. What is this?'

"The father was telling, 'It is a very bad idea.'

"And the girl was repeating that she don't be doing the wickedness, only the idea.

"'Never mind,' was telling the father, 'it is the idea that is the thing, and you would be fined with five francs to the church to make the Messa and the church would give the Messa for the sin and the sin would be delivered after the Messa.'

"The girl takes from her pocket the five francs and put to the railings. The father is telling:

"'It is not possible to touch. Please give me from the door.'

"The girl was answering:

"'Never mind; you have the idea to take the money and it is the idea that is the thing.'

"Did you understand? All right, please take to eat. Some more fish?"

"No, thank you," I replied.

"Please take some more pollo."

"Thank you, Peppino, I have eaten too much already."

"Please take to the drink."

"I have had quite enough, thank you."

"Some more wine? Do not think about Letterio. You shall not be meeting your dolce cuore—your sweetheart, this day. You have not yet taken one glass."

"Excuse me, I have drunk quite as much as is good for me—much more than a glass—nearly a bottle."

"It is good till you shall drink the three glasses of Noah. Did you know what is the glass of Noah? All right, I shall tell you."

Then he told me about Noah and the Devil.

The patriarch Noah was working in his field one day when the Devil came along, put his arms on top of the gate, and looking over, said in a friendly way:

"Good morning, Mr. Noah."

"Good morning, Mr. Devil," replied Noah. "And what can I do for you?"

"Do not let me interrupt; you seem busy this morning."

"Yes," replied Noah; "I am planting the vine."

"Oho!" said the Devil, "but this is rather interesting."

So he slipped inside the field and took a seat on a large white stone. Noah went on with his work.

A lion was prowling round and came through the gate which the Devil had carelessly left open. The Devil killed the lion and watered the vine with its blood.

"I wish you wouldn't do that," said Noah testily.

The Devil paid no attention. A monkey dropped down from a tree and came skipping up to them to see what was going on. The Devil killed the monkey and watered the vine with its blood.

"Can't you leave the poor beasts alone?" said Noah, who had always deprecated cruelty to animals, and was beginning to lose his temper.

The Devil paid no attention. A pig was wallowing in the mud close by—there had been a good deal of rain lately. The Devil killed the pig and watered the vine with its blood.

This was too much for Noah. He shouted: "Haven't you got any work of your own to do, you lazy devil?" He was so angry he forgot to say "Mr." "You had better go home; your dinner will be getting cold."

"'Hot' you mean," replied the Devil, looking for his hat, which had fallen behind the large white stone. "What an ungrateful husbandman you are! I have been helping you to make your wine. When you have drunk the first glass, you will feel strong and behave furiously. When you have drunk the second glass, you will forget how to think for yourself, you will imitate other people and behave foolishly. When you have drunk the third glass—Need I continue? I think not. Good morning."

Whereupon the Devil put his hands into his pockets, tucked his tail up under his left arm and swaggered away, thinking of his next job and whistling "La Donna e Mobile."

"And the glass of Noah," said Peppino in conclusion, "was containing one bottle. Did you understand? All right; I give you a medal."

"I hope it will be a real medal and not like the idea of the girl."

"We shall see. Please take to drink the milk of Ricuzzu."

The baby had had one bottle of milk, but there was another ready for him. I said:

"My dear Peppino, I could not eat or drink another mouthful of anything. I could not even eat a slice of Ricuzzu himself; besides, I don't believe Carmelo knows how to cook babies—not so as to make them really tasty."

Brancaccia understood enough to know we were talking about Ricuzzu. She left off clearing away, and snatched the baby out of Carmelo's arms, whispering to me: "I know it is all right, but I shall feel safer if I have him."

Peppino, who was lying on his back, observed her agitation out of the corner of his eye and said to me, maliciously speaking Italian so that she should understand:

"If you would like to eat the baby, please say whether Carmelo shall boil him or cut him up and stew him alla cacciatora."

"Thank you, no. I prefer Ricuzzu alive."

"You are a bad papa," said Brancaccia, "and the compare is a good man."

So she gave me the baby as a reward and slapped her husband's cheek as a punishment. Peppino naturally retaliated, and in a moment they were rolling over and over and bear-fighting like a couple of kittens at play, while Carmelo and I sat and laughed at them, and the baby crowed and clapped his hands and grew so excited I could scarcely hold him.

There came a pause and Peppino said: "My dear, if you will leave off boxing my ears I will tell you a secret."

Brancaccia instantly desisted and went and sat apart to recover herself.

Peppino continued: "I knew the compare would refuse to eat the baby. He does not like our Sicilian dishes. Every time he comes to see us it is a penitenza for him, because he cannot eat food grown in our island. But I know what I shall do. I shall send a telegram to London: 'English gentleman starving in Castellinaria. Please send at once one chop, one bottle of stout.'

"Look here," he continued, suddenly sitting up and becoming serious. "It is the clime. Here is the country not adapted to the beast, few rain, few grass, few beefs, few muttons, and all too thin and the land is good only for the goats and we must be eating such things that are doing bad to the stomaco—the little chickens and the poor fishes and the pasta—not other. In England shall be falling always the rain and plenty grass shall be growing and the beefs and the muttons shall be fat and much nourishment shall come to those who are eating them."

I said that if I could have chops and stout instead of the few odds and ends which Carmelo had managed to scrape together for our ridiculously inadequate luncheon, of course I should stay at Castellinaria and never go home any more.

So that was settled for the time, and Brancaccia, having put herself tidy, proposed a visit to the grottoes. Carmelo packed up his kitchen and took it off to the cart. On the way he met his cousin, borrowed his boat and came rowing in it—for Carmelo is also a fisherman. We got in and rowed round the promontory and into the caves. The baby was a good deal puzzled, he thought he was indoors, and yet it wasn't right, but he was pleased. When we were tired of the grottoes we rowed back, restored the boat to Carmelo's cousin, packed ourselves into the cart and Guido Santo took us up the zig-zags to Castellinaria after a day which we all enjoyed very much; Ricuzzu, who understood least, perhaps enjoyed it most, but then this baby enjoys everything. If we could have remanded his festa for a few years, instead of only a few days or weeks or whatever it was, he might have understood more and enjoyed less.

Ricuzzu did not come to the theatre, he was supposed to be tired, so Brancaccia put him to bed and, leaving him with Carmelo, accompanied Peppino and me to see Il Diavolo Verde. We took our seats while the fiancee of Don Giuseppe, assisted by her lady's-maid, was endeavouring to make up her mind. The difficulty was that Don Giovanni, the brother of Giuseppe, had sent her a case of jewels and, like Margherita, in Faust, she could not resist the temptation to try them on in front of a looking-glass. We saw in the glass the reflection of a devil in green with pink trimmings. He appeared to be standing behind her, looking over her shoulder, but he was not really present; it must have been a magic mirror. Don Giovanni came and denounced his brother who, he said, was a bastard and no gentleman, proving his words by the production of their father's will written on a sheet of brown paper which he always carried in his belt. This convinced the lady, and she went off with Giovanni. Don Giuseppe, who had been carried away by armed men, escaped and returned to meditate on the crisis of his life. Remembering that the green devil was a retainer of his family, he summoned him and laid the case before him. This time the devil really came and told Giuseppe that there was a way out of his trouble, but that it would involve (1) the perdition of two souls, (2) the shedding of blood, (3) sacrilege, (4) perjury, and (5) all his courage. Don Giuseppe agreed and the curtain fell.

The next act was in the cemetery in front of the tomb of the father of the two brothers. Don Giuseppe and the green devil came in, carrying another will, engrossed on brown paper, but not executed, a bottle of ink, and a quill pen. They stood in front of the door of the tomb and spoke some sacrilegious words. The door opened and revealed the corpse of the father like a Padre Eterno, standing upright, clothed in white, with a white face, a flowing white beard and white kid gloves. Brancaccia was, I believe, really as much frightened as Don Giuseppe pretended to be and I did not like it. The green devil encouraged his master to approach the corpse, which he did, first dipping the pen in the ink-bottle. He offered the pen and held in a convenient manner the new will which would put everything straight, begging his father to sign it. The corpse slowly raised its stiff right arm, took the pen in its hand and signed the will; it then dropped the pen on the ground, lowered its stiff right arm and the door of the tomb closed. Except for this, it did not move and it did not speak at all. It was a ghastly scene and the house was as still as though it had been empty.

In the next act we returned to Don Giovanni whom we found playing dice with Fernando at an inn. When Fernando had lost his money and his jewellery and his lands and his castle and his furniture, he played for his wife, and Don Giovanni won her also. Whereupon Fernando wrote two letters to his wife, one, which they sent by a messenger, told her to come to the inn at once, the other was for Don Giovanni to give to her when she came. Fernando then went away, leaving the coast clear, and the lady entered.

DON GIOVANNI: Donna Inez, I love you.

DONNA INEZ: Silence, Sir. I am here to meet my husband. Where is he?

DON G (giving her the second letter): He left this for you.

DONNA I (reads): "Dear Inez: We have been playing dice. Don Giovanni has won. You now belong to him. Your affectionate husband, Fernando." It cannot be! 'Tis false! My husband would never behave in so ungentlemanly a manner.

GIOV: On the contrary, Madama. And is not this his handwriting?

IN: Now that I look at it again, it is. Ah, Cielo! Betrayed! Surely, Sir, you do not expect me to consent?

GIOV: Certainly I do.

IN: Never. I am a Spanish lady of high degree.

GIOV: Inez, I love you. Be mine.

IN: Are you of noble birth?

GIOV: Yes.

IN: Are you valorous?

GIOV: Yes.

IN: Don Giovanni (hiding her face), I love you!

GIOV: My own, my beautiful one!

IN: There is, however, one little difficulty about which, of course, you could have known nothing. Some years ago I foolishly took an oath. I swore I would be true to my husband during his life.

GIOV: Well, but—let me see—yes, I did bring my sword with me. Suppose I were to step round and run him through the heart—if you don't mind waiting?

IN: I'm afraid it would be troubling you?

GIOV: Not at all. Any little thing of that kind. So glad you mentioned it.

IN: Thanks. I suppose you could not manage to bring it off within sight of the window?

GIOV: I don't see why not. Anyhow, I'll do my best.

[Exit GIOV.

IN: Waiter! (Enter WAITER.) Lay the cloth for two (She meditates while the waiter lays the cloth. Exit WAITER.) Being a Spanish lady of high degree, the only course open to me is suicide. Fortunately, this ring contains a dose of poison strong enough for two, otherwise I should have had to die unavenged or to send round to the chemist's for more. (She pours out two glasses of wine, splits the contents of her ring between them, and goes to the window.) Ah! here they come. It is annoying that they are so far off. I cannot distinguish them in the dark; however, they are fighting. Now one is killed and the other is coming in. I wonder which it will be.


GIOV: There! my own, my beautiful one. I'm afraid you did not have a very good view, but your poor husband was such a damned bad swordsman that I inadvertently killed him before I could get him as near as I intended.

IN: Well, I confess I should like to view the body, just to make sure you have not killed the wrong gentleman—if you've no objection?

GIOV: None whatever. You'll find him in the gutter up the street, under the third lamp post. (Exit DONNA INEZ. DON GIOVANNI observes the two glasses of wine and smells them suspiciously. Re-enter DONNA INEZ.)

IN: Perfectly satisfactory and I thank you.

GIOV: My own, my beautiful one! I love you! Be mine.

IN: Shall we not first have a little supper? You must be fatigued after your exertions. And see! here is a nice glass of wine for you.

GIOV: After you, Madama. (DONNA INEZ hesitates to drink.) You see, my beautiful one, I have had some experience in these matters, and now I never drink anything poured out for me by a lady unless she drinks some of it herself.

IN (aside): Being a Spanish lady of high degree I cannot possibly refuse. I can only trust that as he is of noble birth and valorous, he won't be such a blackguard as not to drink. (Drinks.)

GIOV: Brava! But—do you know?—after all, I think I should prefer a fresh bottle, if it's quite the same to you, my beautiful one. (He empties his glass upon the floor; the wine flows about the stage in a stream of fire. DONNA INEZ dies in agony. Exit DON GIOVANNI laughing. Curtain.)

During the applause that followed, Brancaccia rose, exclaiming:

"Such a thing could not possibly happen."

She collected her wraps and we left the theatre, although the play was in nine acts and we had only seen three. As soon as we got home, she retired. I said to Peppino:

"I wish we had not gone to that play. I am sure Brancaccia has been frightened by it."

"No," said he, "not frightened."

"But she's gone away to recover herself?"

"Look here, Brancaccia don't be thinking of the drama. She don't be thinking of nothing—only the baby. She go to see if Ricuzzu is sleeping."





Since I last wrote to you there has been a continual to-do and no time for writing letters. What has been the to-do? Is it possible you have forgotten my telling you that I am studying to be a singer and that I take lessons every day? Now listen to this: Here in Palermo, a new opera was performed recently for the benefit of the victims of the earthquake at Messina. The story was taken from a great German romance and the music was composed by an Italian who is now in America. I was asked to sing as a supplementary tenor. We had a month of rehearsals and in the end the performance was splendidly successful. O my dear friend! If you had seen me on the stage! I was dressed as a warrior with a wig of curly hair and a pair of moustaches. I also received applause, and, when I appeared before the audience to bow my acknowledgments, I thought: "Oh, if only my dear friend were present, how he would be applauding me!" You will understand after that whether I have had any time to write to you; but now that things have calmed down a little and there is less going on I can write to you as much as you like.

As you know, I am always busy in the teatrino; the other evening we repeated Samson, that play which you once saw here. If you will believe me, I was thinking of you the whole time because I remembered that when we gave it two years ago you were present.

Just now in the Story of the Paladins, Orlando is throwing away his arms and running about naked in the woods, mad for love of Angelica; and soon we shall have the burning of Bizerta and the destruction of the Africans. This will finish in July and we shall then begin the Story of Guido Santo.

What have you done with that photograph of myself which I gave you and which you put into your cigarette-case? Is still there, or have you lost it? I have often promised to send you another but have not done so because when you come to Palermo in September I hope we shall be photographed together, you and I. Nevertheless I send you this one now, it was taken by an English lady who came to the teatrino last summer; you see me getting into a rage with a paladin, I am talking seriously to him and swearing at him because he will not let me dress him properly.

I will not prolong this letter, I do not wish to bore you; but I promise you that I will never fail to let you know of my doings and I count on you to tell me of yours.

Costantino, Sansone, Rinaldo, Rosina, Angelica, Ferrau, Pasquino, Onofrio and all the other marionettes embrace you and send you their kind regards.

I am and always shall be Your affectionate friend ALESSANDRO GRECO (Buffo).

On arriving at Palermo, I went to the teatrino at about ten at night; not seeing the buffo in his usual place keeping order at the door, I guessed he must be on the stage and, knowing the way, passed through the audience, dived under the proscenium, crept along a short passage, mounted a ladder and appeared among them unannounced. The father, the buffo and his brother, Gildo, were so much astonished that they dropped their marionettes all over the stage and shouted:

"When did you come?" "Why did you not write?" "Why did you not telegraph?"

Thereby spreading their astonishment among the audience, who saw no connection between these ejaculations and the exploits of Guido Santo. They soon recovered themselves, however, picked up their paladins and managed to bring the performance to its conclusion, and we shut the theatre and proceeded upstairs to the house. On the way the buffo took me aside into his workshop to show me two inflammable Turkish pavilions which he was making; Ettorina in her madness was to fire them in a few days, one in the afternoon and the other at the evening repetition, as a conclusion to the spectacle. I inquired:

"Who was Ettorina, and why did she go mad?"

"I will tell you presently," replied the buffo, "we must first go upstairs."

As we went up I asked after the singing and he promised to take me to the house of his professor to hear him have a lesson. Papa and Gildo had preceded us and we found them with the young ladies, Carolina and Carmela, and the child, Nina, who is as much a buffa as her brother Alessandro is a buffo. In a moment, the air was thick with compliments.

PAPA: And how well you are looking! So much fatter than last year.

MYSELF (accepting the compliment): That is very kind of you. You are all looking very well also. Let me see, Buffo mio, how old are you now?


MYSELF: Twenty-five.

ALESS: Bravo. I completed my twenty-fifth year just three weeks ago. And you?

MYSELF: I have also completed my twenty-fifth year, but I did it more than three weeks ago.

ALESS: I see. You have twenty-five years on one shoulder; and how many more on the other?

MYSELF: Twenty-five.

ALESS: It seems to me you are making a habit of attaining twenty-five. Are you going to do it again?

MYSELF: I have begun, but I shall put off completing it as long as possible. If you want to know my exact age I will give you the materials for making the calculation. I went to the Great Exhibition of 1851.

GILDO: Tell us about it. I have often seen pictures of it in the illustrated papers, but I have never spoken to anyone who was there. Was it very beautiful? Were there many people? Did you see Queen Victoria?

MYSELF: I can't tell you much about it. I was asleep and when I woke up I was so hungry that I cried till my mother took me into a side room and gave me my dinner. Then I went to sleep again until they took me home. I have been to many exhibitions since, but I never enjoyed one so much. You see, this one did not bore me.

ALESS: You should not have had your dinner there. I went to the exhibition in Palermo and the food in the restaurant was not wholesome.

GILDO: Yes, but you must remember that Alessandro is very particular about his food. He can only eat the most delicate things and must have plenty of variety.

MYSELF: I did not have much variety in those days. I took my restaurant with me, the one at which I was having all my meals.

GILDO: Oh well, if one can afford to travel like a prince—

MYSELF: Gildo! I was not six weeks old and—

PAPA: I have now made the calculation and I find you are my senior by six years. I hope that when I have caught you up I shall carry my age as lightly as you carry yours. Do I explain myself?

ALESS (to me): I think you look older. I should have said you were a well-preserved man of sixty-four or (stretching a point in my favour) perhaps sixty-five.

MYSELF (feeling sure that here must be another compliment): Thank you very much.

BUFFO: Not at all; it does you great credit.

GILDO: Now me, please. Ask me my age.

MYSELF: Well, Gildo, and how old are you?

GILDO: A hundred and seventy-four next birthday.

MYSELF: Santo Diavolo! You don't look it. You must have been very busy since last autumn when, if I remember right, you were only twenty-one.

CAROLINA (tapping my right arm to attract my attention): Signor Enrico, Signor Enrico, why do you not ask me my age?

CARMELA (tapping my left arm): Signor Enrico, Signor Enrico, you have not asked me my age.

MYSELF: Because I know how old you are. You are both of you the age that charming young ladies always are, and you do not look a day older.

NINA: I'm fourteen.

CARO and CARM (comparing notes): Did you hear what he said? He said we are charming young ladies.

NINA (insisting): I'm fourteen. Do I look it?

MYSELF: I can compliment you on looking a little older. Since last year you have grown out of being a child, but you have hardly yet grown into being a young lady like your sisters, though you are quite as charming.

ALESS (taking the opportunity to begin): First you must know that Carlo Magno is now dead and the Pope is shut up in Paris and is being—

CARO: Signor Enrico, Signor Enrico, do you drink marsala in London?

MYSELF: Marsala is known in London, but we do not drink it every day as you do in Palermo.

GILDO: In England people drink tea; everything is so different in England.

MYSELF: That is quite true, Gildo. In England what is like that (holding my hand out with the palm up) in Sicily is like this (holding it with the palm down: Peppino Pampalone taught me this gesture).

GILDO: And that is why in London the people walk on their feet, whereas in Palermo they walk on their hands, as you have no doubt observed.

ALESS: Si; e ecco perche in Londra si mangia colla bocca, ma qui, in Palermo, si mangia nella maniera che ti faro vedere da un diavolo nel teatrino. But I was telling you about the Pope. He is shut up in Paris, where he is guarding the Christians against the—

CARO: Signor Enrico, do you ever see the sun in London?

GILDO: Yes, they see the sun in London, but only on three days of the week; on the other days they send it to be cleaned.

CARM: Then it is not the same sun as ours?

GILDO: It is a different sun. Our sun is made of gold and remains always bright. The sun of London is made of copper and, being constantly exposed to the air, it tarnishes more rapidly even than the breastplate of Carlo Magno, and you know what a lot of cleaning that wants.

PAPA: All this is very interesting, but listen to me. I have something to say. When I was a boy at school—are you attending? Very well, then, I may proceed. When I was a boy at school, we had a professor who told us that in consequence of—

CARO: Signor Enrico, Signor Enrico, what is the English for Grazie?

MYSELF: It means Thank you.

CARM: Signor Enrico, Signor Enrico, what is the English for Buona notte?

MYSELF: Buona notte in English is Good night.

ALESS:—and Paris is being besieged by four Turkish emperors, namely, Rodoferro di Siberia, Balestrazzo di Turgovia, Leofine di Cina and Bracilone d'Africa, and they have two hundred thousand men—

GILDO: Now me, please. Teach me to speak English. What did you say is the English for Grazie?

MYSELF: Thank you.

GILDO: And Buona notte?

MYSELF: Good night.

GILDO (tentatively): Thank you. Good night.

MYSELF: Bravo, very good.

CARO: What does that mean?

MYSELF: Very good means—

PAPA:—and this professor of ours told us that in consequence of certain natural—do I explain myself?—of certain natural causes, it is rare for a human being to live more than one hundred years. It is therefore unlikely that—

ALESS:—and Paris is being besieged by—

MYSELF: Yes, I know, Buffo, by four Turkish emperors and they have two hundred thousand men. I should think it must be rather a serious situation. But I want to hear about Ettorina.

ALESS: It is a very serious situation, but do not be alarmed because—

PAPA:—it is therefore unlikely that Gildo will ever reach the age of one hundred and seventy-four. Do I explain myself?

CARO: Signor Enrico, Come sta? what does it mean?

MYSELF: It means How do you do?

CARO (trying her hand): How do you do?

MYSELF: Brava. Very good.

(Nina did not ask to be taught English. She was following the conversation with sympathetic illustrative gestures not caring two straws whether anyone observed her, just as she did not care whether anyone observed that she was breathing; and, just as she could not stop breathing, so she appeared unable to stop her gestures. She was as incessant and as resourceful as the orchestra in Hansel and Gretel.)

CARM: Signor Enrico, Signor Enrico, Io t'amo.

MYSELF: Oh! but this is so sudden.

ALESS:—do not be alarmed, because—

CARM: What does it mean in English?

MYSELF: Oh, I beg your pardon. It means—

ALESS:—do not be alarmed, for it is the will of heaven that—

PAPA: I may even go further and say it is unlikely that Gildo—

CARO: Signor Enrico, do you know what Carmela is doing?

MYSELF: She is making lace on a pillow, no doubt for her wedding trousseau.

CARM (demurely): Not for my wedding. No one will ever want to marry me.

MYSELF: Oh, come now, you don't expect me to believe that?

ALESS:—it is the will of heaven that they shall all escape—

MYSELF: Well, if this is not for you, perhaps it is for Carolina's wedding?

ALESS:—that they shall all escape to Montalbano—

CARO (demurely): Not for my wedding. I shall never marry. I shall stay at home and look after my dear papa and my dear brothers.

NINA (recklessly): That's all very pretty, but I'm going to get married. (She was sitting on the edge of the table swinging her legs.)

ALESS:—that they shall all escape to Montalbano through the subterranean road which the devils—

MYSELF: Why don't you tell me about Ettorina? Come to Ettorina.

ALESS: One moment, if you please—which the devils will make on Wednesday evening—

CARM: You have not yet told me what it is in English.

MYSELF: What what is in English?

CARM: Io t'amo.

(By the time I had given the information Papa, who had been proposing my health in a speech of which I caught little except an occasional Do I explain myself? had begun perorating towards a close and was about to crown his remarks with a brindisi in verse.)

PAPA: Questa tavola—

GILDO (taking the words out of his mouth):

—oggi e assai piu bella. Enrico! Bevo alla salute di tua sorella. {60}

ALESS:—which the devils will make on Wednesday evening by command of Argantino the—

PAPA (beginning again):

Questa tavola non e sporca ma e netta. Enrico! mangia, e non dare a loro retta. {61a}

MYSELF (obediently taking a pear. It was a fine pear with a maggot in it; they wanted me to take another but I knew that those with maggots are usually the best. Not seeing why I should not be a poet also, I put it thus):

Animale Non fa male. {61b}

GILDO (instantly raising his glass):

Ora che ho mangiato non sono piu a dieta; Bevo alla salute d'Enrico che e poeta. {61c}


Anch'io voglio brindar, da povero precoce, Ad Enrico che sentir vuole la mia voce; Da un anno non ti vedo, O caro fratello! Vieni oggi, ti faro sentir l'Otello. {61d}

MYSELF (bowing my acknowledgments): Thank you very much.

GILDO: What did you say? Does that mean Good night? Is that what you said before?

MYSELF: Very much means Molto, Thank you means Grazie, and Good night means Buona notte.

GILDO: Let me try. Very much thank you good night?

MYSELF: Bravo, Gildo! You are making progress.

(Nina was not so much preoccupied with her comments as to be unable to take a line of her own when there was nothing particularly inspiring in the conversation and, just now, she had laid her head down in an empty plate and was unostentatiously putting out her tongue and making faces sideways at me.)

GILDO (taking a fig in one hand and raising his glass with the other):

Oggi mi voglio mangiare un fico; Bevo alla salute del Signor Enrico. {62}

(I had to drink each time, not muchmerely to acknowledge the complimentexcusing myself by saying I had not the energy to drink more.)

MYSELF: My dear Buffo, when you have sufficiently got into the habit of being twenty-five to approach the age Gildo says he is, you will not have so much energy as you have now.

ALESS: Yes, I shall.

MYSELF: No, Buffo mio.

ALESS: We will make a bet about it, but you will lose.

GILDO (to Aless): By that time Enrico will not be here to pay if he does lose, so you will not win.

MYSELF: Bravo, Gildo.

GILDO (bowing his acknowledgments): Thank you very night—Why do you laugh? That is what you say. Why do you laugh?

PAPA (taking his revenge about the brindisi): Don't talk so much, Gildo.

ALESS (taking his about the bet): You have been talking all the evening, Gildo. You are as bad as a conjurer in the piazza.

(Gildo proclaimed a general silence and, as a guarantee of good faith, pretended to skewer his lips together with a tooth-pick.)

ALESS (whispering to me): Argantino is the Prince of the Devils and has commanded them to make the subterranean road from Paris to Montalbano—

PAPA: May I speak one word?

MYSELF (graciously): Yes, Papa. You may even speak two words.


ALESS and GILDO (shouting): One!


ALESS and GILDO: Two! There now, shut up. You've spoken your two words. Silence.

CARO: Signor Enrico, last year you only stayed in Palermo four days; this year you will, of course, stay at least a month.

MYSELF: I am sorry, my dear young lady, but it is impossible.

ALESS:—and they will all escape and—

MYSELF: Please, Buffo, how many kilometres is it from Paris to Montalbano?

ALESS: I do not remember, but it is a long way.

CARO: Why do you not stay a month?

CARM: Yes, why are you going away?

MYSELF: My dear young ladies, I must go to Calatafimi.

CARO: But why do you go to Calatafimi?

CARM: Yes, why do you not stay with us?

(Nina did not speak. She merely gazed at me as though she could not mind her wheel, Mother.)

MYSELF: I have friends at Calatafimi whom I have promised to go and see and I cannot—

ALESS:—and arrive in safety at Montalbano.

MYSELF: I believe you told me once that Montalbano is Rinaldo's castle in Gascony. Did the devils make a subterranean road right across France? It is a long way, you know.

ALESS: The devils must do as Argantino commands them.

MYSELF: If he is the Prince of the Devils of course they must; but this seems rather a large order. Come to Ettorina. Why don't you come to Ettorina?

ALESS: One moment, if you please; first you must know that—

CARO: Signor Enrico, who are your friends at Calatafimi?

MYSELF: I know a baritone singer and his father and mother, two or three landed proprietors and the custode of the Temple of Segesta who lives at Calatafimi and is great friend of mine. I also know another—

CARM: It is not true. How many ladies do you know at Calatafimi?

MYSELF: Well, let me see. I don't think I can exactly—

CARO: Tell us about the young ladies of Calatafimi, you like them better than you like us.

(Here sobs were heard; Nina's head and shoulders had fallen over the back of her chair, her hair had come down an she was weeping gently but inconsolably.)

MYSELF: I shall be back in three days.

(Whereupon Nina recovered herself and fixed her eyes on the ceiling with an expression of beatific joy such as is worn by S. Caterina da Siena when the ring is being put on her finger in the pictures. Nina's hair had now to be done up and it is magnificent hair, lustrous, black, wavy thick and long—for a girl of fourteen, wonderful. Her two sisters did it up as though it usually came down about this time of the evening and she submitted in the same spirit. It was no concern of ours.)

PAPA: It is now one year since you were last in Palermo and it seems like yesterday—do I explain myself?

GILDO (so that everyone could hear): I have kept all your post-cards in a secret place. No one suspects that I have received them.

ALESS: You must know that before Malagigi died he—

CARO: Signor Enrico, why do you wear spectacles?

MYSELF: In order that I may more clearly contemplate your beauty.

CARO: I do not believe you.

CARM: Signor Enrico, why do you wear your hair so short?

MYSELF: In order that—

CARO: Signor Enrico, why do you wear that little beard, that barbetta?

CARM: Signor Enrico, why do you wear—?

ALESS: Why do you wear a coat and waistcoat?

GILDO: Why do you wear boots?

PAPA: Why do you—?

NINA: I can tell you why he does all these things. It is to make the young ladies of Calatafimi go mad for love of him as the daughter of Cladinoro went mad for love of Ruggiero Persiano.

MYSELF: I have never heard of Ruggiero Persiano. Who was he, a paladin?

NINA: Yes; a cavaliere errante.

MYSELF: Then who was the daughter of Cladinoro?

NINA: Ettorina.

MYSELF: Do you mean to say that Ettorina went mad for love of Ruggiero Persiano?

NINA: Yes.

MYSELF (rising to go): Finalmente!

ALESS: Yes, but first you must know—

MYSELF: All right, Buffo, never mind about that; at last I know who Ettorina was and why she went mad and that will do for the present. Thank you very much and good night.

GILDO: That is what I said. Why did you laugh when I said that?

MYSELF: Say it again, Gildo, and I won't laugh this time.

GILDO: Thank you very night and good much.

MYSELF: Bravo. If you go on at this rate you will soon be speaking English like a native.

I took leave of the young ladies, and Papa, Alessandro and Gildo accompanied me to the albergo, where they left me. As I approached my bedroom door I looked up over it half-expecting to see there the words which, years ago, I had seen written over the entrance to a Tuscan monastery:

O beata Solitudo! O sola Beatitudo!


Next morning I called on the buffo in his workshop. His two combustible Turkish pavilions were finished, ready to be fired by Ettorina, and he was full of his devils. I inquired why we were doing Guido Santo so soon; it was only a year since my last visit to Palermo, when I had witnessed his lamented end after a fortnight of starvation in prison, and, at this rate, the story would be over in fourteen months instead of lasting eighteen. The buffo said they had made the experiment of shortening it. If one has to shorten a story, probably the Paladins of France with its continuations would suffer less from the process than many others. At all events it could scarcely grow longer, as a work of art so often does when one tries to shorten it.

The devils were naturally among the dramatis personae of the teatrino, but they had to be got ready and repaired and provided with all things necessary for them to make the subterranean road. I said:

"I am not sure that I quite followed all you told me last night."

"There was perhaps a little confusion?" he inquired apologetically.

"Not at all," I replied politely; "but I never heard of Argantino before. Did you say he was the son of Malagigi?"

"That is right. He did not happen to be at Roncisvalle, so he was not killed with Orlando and the other paladins. An angel came to him and said, 'Now the Turks will make much war against the Christians and, since the Christians always want a magician, it is the will of heaven that you shall have the rod of Malagigi, who is no longer here, and that Guido Santo shall have la Durlindana, the sword of Orlando.' And it was so, and Argantino thereafter appeared as a pilgrim."

"I remember about Malagigi; he made all Rinaldo's armour."

"Excuse me, he made some of his armour; but he did not make his helmet, nor his sword Fusberta, nor his horse Baiardo. First you must know that Rinaldo was one of the four brothers, sons of Amone, and their sister was Bradamante."

"I saw her die at Trapani. The Empress Marfisa came and found her dying of grief in a grotto for the loss of her husband, Ruggiero da Risa."

"Precisely. She was Marfisa's sister-in-law because she married Marfisa's brother Ruggiero da Risa."

"Then who was the cavaliere errante, Ruggiero Persiano?"

"He was the son of Marfisa and Guidon Selvaggio, and this Guidon Selvaggio was the son of Rinaldo."

"Had Bradamante no children?"

"Guido Santo is the son of Bradamante and Ruggiero da Risa."

"I heard something about Guido Santo at Castellinaria the other day—let me see, what was it? Never mind. I hope he left children."

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