“Eh,” said the newcomer, whom I will call the girovago, “it’s done. The kid’s done. It’s done.”
The roaster slowly shook his head, but did not answer. He sat like time and eternity at the hearth-end, his face flame-flushed, his dark eyes still fire-abstract, still sacredly intent on the roast.
“Na-na-na!” said the girovago. “Let another body see the fire.” And with his pieces of meat awkwardly skewered on his iron stick he tried to poke under the authorised kid and get at the fire. In his soft mutter, the old man bade him wait for the fire till the fire was ready for him. But the girovago poked impudently[Pg 187] and good humouredly, and said testily that the authorised kid was done.
“Yes, surely it is done,” said I, for it was already a quarter to eight.
The old roasting priest muttered, and took out his knife from his pocket. He pressed the blade slowly, slowly deep into the meat: as far as a knife will go in a piece of kid. He seemed to be feeling the meat inwardly. And he said it was not done. He shook his head, and remained there like time and eternity at the end of the rod.
The girovago said Sangue di Dio, but couldn’t roast his meat! And he tried to poke his skewer near the coals. So doing his pieces fell off into the ashes, and the invisible onlookers behind raised a shout of laughter. However, he raked it out and wiped it with his hand and said No matter, nothing lost.
Then he turned to me and asked the usual whence and whither questions. These answered, he said wasn’t I German. I said No, I was English. He looked at me many times, shrewdly, as if he wanted to make out something. Then he asked, where were we domiciled—and I said Sicily. And then, very pertinently, why had we come to Sardinia. I said for pleasure, and to see the island.[Pg 188]
“Ah, per divertimento!” he repeated, half-musingly, not believing me in the least.
Various men had now come into the room, though they all remained indistinct in the background. The girovago talked and jested abroad in the company, and the half-visible men laughed in a rather hostile manner.
At last the old roaster decided the kid was done. He lifted it from the fire and scrutinised it thoroughly, holding the candle to it, as if it were some wonderful epistle from the flames. To be sure it looked marvellous, and smelled so good: brown, and crisp, and hot, and savoury, not burnt in any place whatever. It was eight o’clock.
“It’s done! It’s done! Go away with it! Go,” said the girovago, pushing the old roaster with his hand. And at last the old man consented to depart, holding the kid like a banner.
“It looks so good!” cried the q-b. “And I am so hungry.”
“Ha-ha! It makes one hungry to see good meat, Signora. Now it is my turn. Heh—Gino—” the girovago flourished his arm. And a handsome, unwashed man with a black moustache came forward rather sheepishly. He was dressed in soldier’s clothes, neutral grey, and was a big, robust, handsome fellow with dark eyes and Mediterranean sheepishness.[Pg 189] “Here, take it thou,” said the girovago, pressing the long spit into his hand. “It is thy business, cook the supper, thou art the woman.—But I’ll keep the sausages and do them.”Share It