Germans in Italy at the outbreak of the war were interned in Sardinia, and as far as one hears, they were left very free and happy, and treated very well, the Sardinians having been generous as all proud people are. But now our bright-eyed fool made a great titter through the bus: quite unaware that we understood. He said nothing offensive: but that sort of tittering exultation of common people who think they have you at a disadvantage annoyed me. However, I kept still to hear what they would say. But it was only trivialities about the Germans having nearly all gone now, their being free to travel, their coming back to Sardinia because they liked it better than Germany. Oh yes—they all wanted to come back. They all wanted to come back to Sardinia. Oh yes, they knew where they were well off. They knew their own advantage. Sardinia was this, that, and the other of advantageousness, and the Sardi were decent people. It is just as well to put in a word on one’s own behalf occasionally. As for La Germania—she was down, down: bassa. What did one pay for bread in Germany? Five francs a kilo, my boy.
The bus stopped again, and they trooped out into the hot sun. The priest scuffled round the corner this time. Not to go round the corner was no doubt harmful. We waited. A frown came between the bus Hamlet’s brows. He looked nerve-worn and tired. It was about three o’clock. We had to wait for a man from a village, with the post. And he did not appear.
“I am going! I won’t wait,” said the driver.
“Wait—wait a minute,” said the mate, pouring oil. And he went round to look. But suddenly the bus started, with a vicious lurch. The mate came flying and hung on to the footboard. He had really almost been left. The driver glanced round sardonically to see if he were there. The bus flew on. The mate shook his head in deprecation.
“He’s a bit nervoso, the driver,” said the q-b. “A bit out of temper!”
“Ah, poor chap!” said the good-looking young mate, leaning forward and making such beseeching eyes of hot tolerance. “One has to be sorry for him. Persons like him, they suffer so much from themselves, how should one be angry with them! Poverino. We must have sympathy.”
Never was such a language of sympathy as the Italian. Poverino! Poverino! They are never happy unless they are sympathising pityingly with somebody. And I rather felt that I was thrown in with the poverini who had to be pitied for being nervosi. Which did not improve my temper.
However, the bus-mate suddenly sat on the opposite seat between the priest and the q-b. He turned over his official note book, and began to write on the back cover very carefully, in the flourishing Italian hand. Then he tore off what he had written, and with a very bright and zealous look he handed me the paper[Pg 292] saying: “You will find me a post in England, when you go in the summer? You will find me a place in London as a chauffeur—!”Share It