And they fell on their soup. And never, from among the steam, have I heard a more joyful trio of soup-swilkering. They sucked it in from their spoons with long, gusto-rich sucks. The maialino was the treble—he trilled his soup into his mouth with a swift, sucking vibration, interrupted by bits of cabbage, which made the lamp start to dither again. Black-cap was the baritone; good, rolling spoon-sucks. And the one in spectacles was the bass: he gave sudden deep gulps. All was led by the long trilling of the maialino. Then suddenly, to vary matters, he cocked up his spoon in one hand, chewed a huge mouthful of bread, and swallowed it down with a smack-smack-smack! of his tongue against his palate. As children we used to call this “clapping”.
“Mother, she’s clapping!” I would yell with anger, against my sister. The German word is schmatzen.
So the maialino clapped like a pair of cymbals, while baritone and bass rolled on. Then in chimed the swift bright treble.
At this rate however, the soup did not last long. Arrived the beef-steaks of pork. And now the trio was a trio of castanet smacks and cymbal claps. Triumphantly the maialino looked around. He out-smacked all.
The bread of the country is rather coarse and brown,[Pg 143] with a hard, hard crust. A large rock of this is perched on every damp serviette. The maialino tore his rock asunder, and grumbled at the black-cap, who had got a weird sort of three-cornered loaf-roll of pure white bread—starch white. He was a swell with this white bread.
Suddenly black-cap turned to me. Where had we come from, where were we going, what for? But in laconic, sardonic tone.
“I like Sardinia,” cried the q-b.
“Why?” he asked sarcastically. And she tried to find out.
“Yes, the Sardinians please me more than the Sicilians,” said I.
“Why?” he asked sarcastically.
“They are more open—more honest.” He seemed to turn his nose down.
“The padrone is a Sicilian,” said the maialino, stuffing a huge block of bread into his mouth, and rolling his insouciant eyes of a gay, well-fed little black pig towards the background. We weren’t making much headway.
“You’ve seen Cagliari?” the black-cap said to me, like a threat.
“Yes! oh Cagliari pleases me—Cagliari is[Pg 144] beautiful!” cried the q-b, who travels with a vial of melted butter ready for her parsnips.
“Yes—Cagliari is so-so—Cagliari is very fair,” said the black cap. “Cagliari è discreto.” He was evidently proud of it.
“And is Mandas nice?” asked the q-b.
“In what way nice?” they asked, with immense sarcasm.
“Is there anything to see?”
“Hens,” said the maialino briefly. They all bristled when one asked if Mandas was nice.
“What does one do here?” asked the q-b.
“Niente! At Mandas one does nothing. At Mandas one goes to bed when it’s dark, like a chicken. At Mandas one walks down the road like a pig that is going nowhere. At Mandas a goat understands more than the inhabitants understand. At Mandas one needs socialism….”Share It