But the bus-mate now feels at home with us. He clambers back into the coupé, and when it is too[Pg 283] painfully noisy to talk, he simply sits and looks at us with brown, pleading eyes. Miles and miles and miles goes this coast road, and never a village. Once or twice a sort of lonely watch-house and soldiers lying about by the road. But never a halt. Everywhere moorland and desert, uninhabited.
And we are faint with fatigue and hunger and this relentless travelling. When, oh when shall we come to Siniscola, where we are due to eat our midday meal? Oh yes, says the mate. There is an inn at Siniscola where we can eat what we like. Siniscola—Siniscola! We feel we must get down, we must eat, it is past one o’clock and the glaring light and the rushing loneliness are still about us.
But it is behind the hill in front. We see the hill? Yes. Behind it is Siniscola. And down there on the beach are the Bagni di Siniscola, where many forestieri, strangers, come in the summer. Therefore we set high hopes on Siniscola. From the town to the sea, two miles, the bathers ride on asses. Sweet place. And it is coming near—really near. There are stone-fenced fields—even stretches of moor fenced off. There are vegetables in a little field with a stone wall—there is a strange white track through the moor to a forsaken sea-coast. We are near.[Pg 284]
Over the brow of the low hill—and there it is, a grey huddle of a village with two towers. There it is, we are there. Over the cobbles we bump, and pull up at the side of the street. This is Siniscola, and here we eat.
We drop out of the weary bus. The mate asks a man to show us the inn—the man says he won’t, muttering. So a boy is deputed—and he consents. This is the welcome.
And I can’t say much for Siniscola. It is just a narrow, crude, stony place, hot in the sun, cold in the shade. In a minute or two we were at the inn, where a fat, young man was just dismounting from his brown pony and fastening it to a ring beside the door.
The inn did not look promising—the usual cold room opening gloomily on the gloomy street. The usual long table, with this time a foully blotched table-cloth. And two young peasant madams in charge, in the brown costume, rather sordid, and with folded white cloths on their heads. The younger was in attendance. She was a full-bosomed young hussy, and would be very queenly and cocky. She held her nose in the air, and seemed ready to jibe at any order. It takes one some time to get used to this cocky, assertive behaviour of the young damsels, the who’ll-tread-on-the-tail-of-my-skirt bearing of the hussies. But it[Pg 285] is partly a sort of crude defensiveness and shyness, partly it is barbaric méfiance or mistrust, and partly, without doubt, it is a tradition with Sardinian women that they must hold their own and be ready to hit first. This young sludge-queen was all hit. She flounced her posterior round the table, planking down the lumps of bread on the foul cloth with an air of take-it-as-a-condescension-that-I-wait-on-you, a subdued grin lurking somewhere on her face. It is not meant to be offensive: yet it is so. Truly, it is just uncouthness. But when one is tired and hungry….Share It