And this time a man is drinking aqua vitae, and the dirty-shirt is officiating. He has no hat on: and extraordinary, he has no brow at all: just flat, straight black hair slanting to his eyebrows, no forehead at all.
Is there coffee?
No, there is no coffee.
Because they can’t get sugar.
Ho! laughs the peasant drinking aqua vitae. You make coffee with sugar!
Here, say I, they make it with nothing.—Is there milk?
No milk at all?
Nobody brings it.
Yes, yes—there is milk if they like to get it, puts in the peasant. But they want you to drink aqua vitae.
I see myself drinking aqua vitae. My yesterday’s rage towers up again suddenly, till it quite suffocates me. There is something in this unsavoury, black, wine-dabbled, thick, greasy young man that does for me.
“Why,” say I, lapsing into the Italian rhetorical[Pg 208] manner, “why do you keep an inn? Why do you write the word Ristorante so large, when you have nothing to offer people, and don’t intend to have anything. Why do you have the impudence to take in travellers? What does it mean, that this is an inn? What, say, what does it mean? Say then—what does it mean? What does it mean, your Ristorante Risveglio, written so large?”
Getting all this out in one breath, my indignation now stifled me. Him of the shirt said nothing at all. The peasant laughed. I demanded the bill. It was twenty-five francs odd. I picked up every farthing of the change.
“Won’t you leave any tip at all?” asks the q-b.
“Tip!” say I, speechless.
So we march upstairs and make tea to fill the thermos flask. Then, with sack over my shoulder, I make my way out of the Risveglio.
It is Sunday morning. The frozen village street is almost empty. We march down to the wider space where the bus stands: I hope they haven’t the impudence to call it a Piazza.
“Is this the Nuoro bus?” I ask of a bunch of urchins.
And even they begin to jeer. But my sudden up-starting flare quenches them at once. One answers yes,[Pg 209] and they edge away. I stow the sack and the kitchenino in the first-class part. The first-class is in front: we shall see better.
There are men standing about, with their hands in their pockets,—those who are not in costume. Some wear the black-and-white. All wear the stocking caps. And all have the wide shirt-breasts, white, their waistcoats being just like evening dress waistcoats. Imagine one of these soft white shirt fronts well slobbered, and you have mine host of the Risveglio. But these lounging, static, white-breasted men are snowily clean, this being Sunday morning. They smoke their pipes on the frosty air, and are none too friendly.
The bus starts at half-past nine. The campanile is clanging nine. Two or three girls go down the road in their Sunday costume of purplish brown. We go up the road, into the clear, ringing frosty air, to find the lane.Share It