The sight of the woman with the basket of bread reminded us that we wanted some food. So we searched for bread. None, if you please. It was Monday morning, eaten out. There would be bread at the forno, the oven. Where was the oven? Up the road and down a passage. I thought we should smell it. But no. We wandered back. Our friends had told us to take tickets early, for perhaps the bus would be crowded. So we bought yesterday’s pastry and little cakes, and slices of native sausage. And still no bread. I went and asked our old hostess.
“There is no fresh bread. It hasn’t come in yet,” she said.
“Never mind, give me stale.”
So she went and rummaged in a drawer.
“Oh dear, Oh dear, the women have eaten it all! But perhaps over there—” she pointed down the street—”they can give you some.”
I paid the bill—about twenty-eight francs, I think—and went out to look for the bus. There it was. In a dark little hole they gave me the long ticket-strips, first-class to Terranova. They cost some seventy francs the two. The q-b was still vainly, aimlessly looking along the street for bread.
“Ready when you are,” said our new driver rather snappily. He was a pale, cross-looking young man with brown eyes and fair “ginger” hair. So in we clambered, waved farewell to our old friends, whose bus was ready to roll away in the opposite direction. As we bumped past the “piazza” I saw Velveteens standing there, isolate, and still, apparently, scowling with unabated irritation.
I am sure he has money: why the first class, yesterday, otherwise. And I’m sure she married him because he is a townsman with property.
Out we rolled, on our last Sardinian drive. The morning was of a bell-like beauty, blue and very lovely. Below on the right stretched the concave valley, tapestried with cultivation. Up into the morning light[Pg 264] rose the high, humanless hills, with wild, treeless moor-slopes.
But there was no glass in the left window of the coupé, and the wind came howling in, cold enough. I stretched myself on the front seat, the q-b screwed herself into a corner, and we watched the land flash by. How well this new man drove! the long-nosed, freckled one with his gloomy brown eyes. How cleverly he changed gear, so that the automobile mewed and purred comfortably, like a live thing enjoying itself. And how dead he was to the rest of the world, wrapped in his gloom like a young bus-driving Hamlet. His answers to his mate were monosyllabic—or just no answers at all. He was one of those responsible, capable, morose souls, who do their work with silent perfection and look as if they were driving along the brink of doom, say a word to them and they’ll go over the edge. But gentle au fond, of course. Fiction used to be fond of them: a sort of ginger-haired, young, mechanic Mr. Rochester who has even lost the Jane illusion.Share It