Their naturalness seems unnatural to us. Yet I am sure it is best. Sympathy would only complicate matters, and spoil that strange, remote virginal quality. The q-b says it is largely stupidity.
Nobody washes out the corner of the corridor, though we stop at stations long enough, and there are two more hours journey. Train officials go by and stare, passengers step over and stare, new-comers stare and step over. Somebody asks who? Nobody thinks of just throwing a pail of water. Why should they? It is all in the course of nature.—One begins to be a bit chary of this same “nature”, in the south.
Enter two fresh passengers: a black-eyed, round-faced, bright-sharp man in corduroys and with a gun, and a long-faced, fresh-colored man with thick snowy hair, and a new hat and a long black overcoat of smooth black cloth, lined with rather ancient, once expensive fur. He is extremely proud of this long black coat and ancient fur lining. Childishly proud he wraps it again over his knee, and gloats. The beady black-eyes of the hunter look round with pleased alertness. He sits facing the one in the overcoat, who looks like the last sprout of some Norman blood. The hunter in corduroys beams abroad, with beady black eyes in a round red face, curious. And the other tucks his fur-lined long coat between his legs and gloats to himself: all to himself gloating, and looking as if he were deaf. But no, he’s not. He wears muddy high-low boots.
At Termini it is already lamp-light. Business men crowd in. We get five business men: all stout, respected Palermitans. The one opposite me has whiskers, and a many-colored, patched traveling rug over his fat knees. Queer how they bring that feeling of physical intimacy with them. You are never surprised if they begin to take off their boots, or their collar-and-tie. The whole world is a sort of bedroom to them. One shrinks, but in vain.
There is some conversation between the black-eyed, beady hunter and the business men. Also the young white-haired one, the aristocrat, tries to stammer out, at great length, a few words. As far as I can gather the young one is mad—or deranged—and the other, the hunter, is his keeper. They are traveling over Europe together. There is some talk of “the Count”. And the hunter says the unfortunate “has had an accident.” But that is a southern gentleness presumably, a form of speech. Anyhow it is queer: and the hunter in his corduroys, with his round, ruddy face and strange black-bright eyes and thin black hair is a puzzle to me, even more than the albino, long-coated, long-faced, fresh-complexioned, queer last remnant of a baron as he is. They are both muddy from the land, and pleased in a little mad way of their own.
But it is half-past six. We are at Palermo, capital of Sicily. The hunter slings his gun over his shoulder, I my knapsack, and in the throng we all disappear, into the Via Maqueda.Share It