By this time his hot-souled eagerness and his hot, beseeching eyes have touched the q-b. She asks him what he wants. And from his gloomy face it comes out in a rap. “Andare fuori dell’Italia.” To go out of Italy. To go out—away—to go away—to go away. It has become a craving, a neurasthenia with them.
Where is his home? His home is at a village a few[Pg 281] miles ahead—here on this coast. We are coming to it soon. There is his home. And a few miles inland from the village he also has a property: he also has land. But he doesn’t want to work it. He doesn’t want it. In fact he won’t bother with it. He hates the land, he detests looking after vines. He can’t even bring himself to try any more.
What does he want then?
He wants to leave Italy, to go abroad—as a chauffeur. Again the long beseeching look, as of a distraught, pleading animal. He would prefer to be the chauffeur of a gentleman. But he would drive a bus, he would do anything—in England.
Now he has launched it. Yes, I say, but in England also we have more men than jobs. Still he looks at me with his beseeching eyes—so desperate too—and so young—and so full of energy—and so longing to devote himself—to devote himself: or else to go off in an unreasonable paroxysm against the French. To my horror I feel he is believing in my goodness of heart. And as for motor-cars, it is all I can do to own a pair of boots, so how am I to set about employing a chauffeur?
We have all gone quiet again. So at last he climbs back and takes his seat with the driver once more. The[Pg 282] road is still straight, swinging on through the moorland strip by the sea. And he leans to the silent, nerve-tense Mr. Rochester, pleading again. And at length Mr. Rochester edges aside, and lets him take the driving wheel. And so now we are all in the hands of our friend the bus-mate. He drives—not very well. It is evident he is learning. The bus can’t quite keep in the grooves of this wild bare road. And he shuts off when we slip down a hill—and there is a great muddle on the upslope when he tries to change gear. But Mr. Rochester sits squeezed and silently attentive in his corner. He puts out his hand and swings the levers. There is no fear that he will let anything go wrong. I would trust him to drive me down the bottomless pit and up the other side. But still the beseeching mate holds the steering wheel. And on we rush, rather uncertainly and hesitatingly now. And thus we come to the bottom of a hill where the road gives a sudden curve. My heart rises an inch in my breast. I know he can’t do it. And he can’t, oh Lord—but the quiet hand of the freckled Rochester takes the wheel, we swerve on. And the bus-mate gives up, and the nerve-silent driver resumes control.Share It