Well, we chewed a few ends of oil-fried ink-pots, and gave it up. The Cagliari girl gave up too: the professor had not even tried. Only the hard-headed grey man in the alpaca coat chewed animatedly, with bouncing jaws. Mountains of calamaio remained for the joyous blue-bottles.
Arrived the inevitable meat—this long piece of completely tasteless undercut in innumerable grey-brown slices. Oh, Italy! The professor fled.
Arrived the wash-leather pears, the apples, the oranges—we saved an apple for a happier hour.
Arrived coffee, and, as a magnificent treat, a few well-known pastries. They all taste wearily alike. The young woman shakes her head. I shake mine, but the q-b, like a child, is pleased. Most pleased of all, however, are the blue-bottles, who dart in a black-alpaca bunch to the tin altar, and there loudly buzz, wildly, above the sallow cakes.
The citron-cheeked, dry one, however, cares darkly nothing for cakes. He comes once more to twit us about wine. So much so that the Cagliari girl orders a glass of Marsala: and I must second her. So there we are, three little glasses of brown liquid. The Cagliari girl sips hers and suddenly flees. The q-b sips hers with infinite caution, and quietly retires. I finish the q-b’s little glass, and my own, and the voracious[Pg 85] blow-flies buzz derisively and excited. The yellow-cheeked one has disappeared with the bottle.
From the professorial cabin faint wails, sometimes almost fierce, as one or another is going to be ill. Only a thin door is between this state-room and them. The most down-trodden frayed ancient rag of a man goes discreetly with basins, trying not to let out glimpses of the awful within. I climb up to look at the vivid, drenching stars, to breathe the cold wind, to see the dark sea sliding. Then I too go to the cabin, and watch the sea run past the porthole for a minute, and insert myself like the meat in a sandwich into the tight lower bunk. Oh, infinitesimal cabin, where we sway like two matches in a match box! Oh strange, but even yet excellent gallop of a ship at sea.
I slept not so badly through the stifled, rolling night—in fact later on slept soundly. And the day was growing bright when I peered through the porthle, the sea was much smoother. It was a brilliant clear morning. I made haste and washed myself cursorily in the saucer that dribbled into a pail in a corner: there was not space even for one chair, this saucer was by my bunk-head. And I went on deck.
Ah the lovely morning! Away behind us the sun was just coming above the sea’s horizon, and the sky[Pg 86] all golden, all a joyous, fire-heated gold, and the sea was glassy bright, the wind gone still, the waves sunk into long, low undulations, the foam of the wake was pale ice-blue in the yellow air. Sweet, sweet wide morning on the sea, with the sun coming, swimming up, and a tall sailing bark, with her flat fore-ladder of sails delicately across the light, and a far-far steamer on the electric vivid morning horizon.Share It