The kid-roasting proceeded very slowly, the meat never being very near the fire. From time to time the roaster arranged the cavern of red-hot roots. Then he threw on more roots. It was very hot. And he turned the long spit, and still I held the candle.
Other people came strolling in, to look at us. But they hovered behind us in the dark, so I could not make out at all clearly. They strolled in the gloom of the dungeon-like room, and watched us. One came forward—a fat, fat young soldier in uniform. I made place for him on the bench—but he put out his hand and disclaimed the attention. Then he went away again.
The old man propped up the roast, and then he too disappeared for a time. The thin candle guttered, the fire was no longer flamy but red. The roaster reappeared with a new, shorter spear, thinner, and a great lump of raw hog-fat spitted on it. This he thrust into the red fire. It sizzled and smoked and spit fat, and I wondered. He told me he wanted it to catch fire. It refused. He groped in the hearth for the bits of twigs with which the fire had been started. These twig-stumps he stuck in the fat, like an orange[Pg 185] stuck with cloves, then he held it in the fire again. Now at last it caught, and it was a flaming torch running downwards with a thin shower of flaming fat. And now he was satisfied. He held the fat-torch with its yellow flares over the browning kid, which he turned horizontal for the occasion. All over the roast fell the flaming drops, till the meat was all shiny and browny. He put it to the fire again, holding the diminishing fat, still burning bluish, over it all the time in the upper air.
While this was in process a man entered with a loud Good evening. We replied Good-evening—and evidently he caught a strange note. He came and bent down and peered under my hat-brim, then under the q-b’s hat-brim, we still wore hats and overcoats, as did everybody. Then he stood up suddenly and touched his cap and said Scusi—excuse me. I said Niente, which one always says, and he addressed a few jovial words to the crouching roaster: who again would hardly answer him. The omnibus was arrived from Oristano, I made out—with few passengers.
This man brought with him a new breezy atmosphere, which the roaster did not like. However, I made place on the low bench, and the attention this time was accepted. Sitting down at the extreme end,[Pg 186] he came into the light, and I saw a burly man in the prime of life, dressed in dark brown velvet, with a blond little moustache and twinkling blue eyes and a tipsy look. I thought he might be some local tradesman or farmer. He asked a few questions, in a boisterous familiar fashion, then went out again. He appeared with a small iron spit, a slim rod, in one hand, and in the other hand two joints of kid and a handful of sausages. He stuck his joints on his rod. But our roaster still held the interminable flat kid before the now red, flameless fire. The fat-torch was burnt out, the cinder pushed in the fire. A moment’s spurt of flame, then red, intense redness again, and our kid before it like a big, dark hand.Share It