And the q-b was angry with me for my fury.
“Why are you so indignant! Anyone would think your moral self had been outraged! Why take it morally? You petrify that man at the inn by the very way you speak to him, such condemnation! Why don’t you take it as it comes? It’s all life.”[Pg 177]
But no, my rage is black, black, black. Why, heaven knows. But I think it was because Sorgono had seemed so fascinating to me, when I imagined it beforehand. Oh so fascinating! If I had expected nothing I should not have been so hit. Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall not be disappointed.
I cursed the degenerate aborigines, the dirty-breasted host who dared to keep such an inn, the sordid villagers who had the baseness to squat their beastly human nastiness in this upland valley. All my praise of the long stocking-cap—you remember?—vanished from my mouth. I cursed them all, and the q-b for an interfering female….
In the bar a wretched candle was weeping light—uneasy, gloomy men were drinking their Saturday-evening-home-coming dram. Cattle lay down in the road, in the cold air as if hopeless.
Had the milk come?
When would it come.
He didn’t know.
Well, what were we to do? Was there no room? Was there nowhere where we could sit?
Yes, there was the stanza now.
Now! Taking the only weed of a candle, and[Pg 178] leaving the drinkers in the dark, he led us down a dark and stumbly earthen passage, over loose stones and an odd plank, as it would seem underground, to the stanza: the room.
The stanza! It was pitch dark—But suddenly I saw a big fire of oak-root, a brilliant, flamy, rich fire, and my rage in that second disappeared.
The host, and the candle, forsook us at the door. The stanza would have been in complete darkness, save for that rushing bouquet of new flames in the chimney, like fresh flowers. By this firelight we saw the room. It was like a dungeon, absolutely empty, with an uneven, earthen floor, quite dry, and high bare walls, gloomy, with a handbreadth of window high up. There was no furniture at all, save a little wooden bench, a foot high, before the fire, and several home-made-looking rush mats rolled up and leaning against the walls. Furthermore a chair before the fire on which hung wet table-napkins. Apart from this, it was a high, dark, naked prison-dungeon.
But it was quite dry, it had an open chimney, and a gorgeous new fire rushing like a water-fall upwards among the craggy stubs of a pile of dry oak roots. I hastily put the chair and the wet corpse-cloths to one side. We sat on the low bench side by side in the dark, in front of this rippling rich fire, in front[Pg 179] of the cavern of the open chimney, and we did not care any more about the dungeon and the darkness. Man can live without food, but he can’t live without fire. It is an Italian proverb. We had found the fire, like new gold. And we sat in front of it, a little way back, side by side on the low form, our feet on the uneven earthen floor, and felt the flame-light rippling upwards over our faces, as if we were bathing in some gorgeous stream of fieriness. I forgave the dirty-breasted host everything and was as glad as if I had come into a kingdom.Share It