The so-called woman sat at the end of the hearth, where the old roaster had sat, and with his brown, nervous hand piled the remaining coals together. The fire was no longer flamy: and it was sinking. The dark-browed man arranged it so that he could cook the meat. He held the spit negligently over the red mass. A joint fell off. The men laughed. “It’s lost nothing,” said the dark-browed man, as the girovago had said before, and he skewered it on again and thrust it to the fire. But meanwhile he was looking up from under his dark lashes at the girovago and at us.
The girovago talked continually. He turned to me, holding the handful of sausages.
“This makes the tasty bit,” he said.
“Oh yes—good salsiccia,” said I.
“You are eating the kid? You are eating at the inn?” he said. I replied that I was.
“No,” he said. “You stay and eat with me. You eat with me. The sausage is good, the kid will soon be done, the fire is grateful.”
I laughed, not quite understanding him. He was certainly a bit tipsy.[Pg 190]
“Signora,” he said, turning to the q-b. She did not like him, he was impudent, and she shut a deaf ear to him as far as she could. “Signora,” he said, “do you understand me what I say?”
She replied that she did.
“Signora,” he said, “I sell things to the women. I sell them things.”
“What do you sell?” she asked in astonishment.
“Saints,” he said.
“Saints!” she cried in more astonishment.
“Yes, saints,” he said with tipsy gravity.
She turned in confusion to the company in the background. The fat soldier came forward, he was the chief of the carabinieri.
“Also combs and bits of soap and little mirrors,” he explained sarcastically.
“Saints!” said the girovago once more. “And also ragazzini—also youngsters—Wherever I go there is a little one comes running calling Babbo! Babbo! Daddy! Daddy! Wherever I go—youngsters. And I’m the babbo.”
All this was received with a kind of silent sneer from the invisible assembly in the background. The candle was burning low, the fire was sinking too. In vain the dark-browed man tried to build it up. The q-b became impatient for the food. She got up[Pg 191] wrathfully and stumbled into the dark passage, exclaiming—”Don’t we eat yet?”
“Eh—Patience! Patience, Signora. It takes time in this house,” said the man in the background.
The dark-browed man looked up at the girovago and said:
“Are you going to cook the sausages with your fingers?”
He too was trying to be assertive and jesting, but he was the kind of person no one takes any notice of. The girovago rattled on in dialect, poking fun at us and at our being there in this inn. I did not quite follow.
“Signora!” said the girovago. “Do you understand Sardinian?”
“I understand Italian—and some Sardinian,” she replied rather hotly. “And I know that you are trying to laugh at us—to make fun of us.”Share It