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Title: Cuore (Heart) - An Italian Schoolboy's Journal
Author: De Amicis, Edmondo, 1846-1908
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  [Illustration: "THE BOY HAD WALKED TEN MILES."--Page 123.]





                 _A Book for Boys_


                EDMONDO DE AMICIS



                ISABEL F. HAPGOOD

                     NEW YORK

  COPYRIGHT, 1887, 1895 and 1901.


  COPYRIGHT, 1915.


  Printed in the United States of America


THIS book is specially dedicated to the boys of the elementary schools
between the ages of nine and thirteen years, and might be entitled: "The
Story of a Scholastic Year written by a Pupil of the Third Class of an
Italian Municipal School." In saying written by a pupil of the third
class, I do not mean to say that it was written by him exactly as it is
printed. He noted day by day in a copy-book, as well as he knew how,
what he had seen, felt, thought in the school and outside the school;
his father at the end of the year wrote these pages on those notes,
taking care not to alter the thought, and preserving, when it was
possible, the words of his son. Four years later the boy, being then in
the lyceum, read over the MSS. and added something of his own, drawing
on his memories, still fresh, of persons and of things.

Now read this book, boys; I hope that you will be pleased with it, and
that it may do you good.



  THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL                            1
  OUR MASTER                                         3
  AN ACCIDENT                                        5
  THE CALABRIAN BOY                                  6
  MY COMRADES                                        8
  A GENEROUS DEED                                   10
  IN AN ATTIC                                       14
  THE SCHOOL                                        16
  _The Little Patriot of Padua_                     17
  THE CHIMNEY-SWEEP                                 20
  THE DAY OF THE DEAD                               22


  MY FRIEND GARRONE                                 24
  MY BROTHER'S SCHOOLMISTRESS                       28
  MY MOTHER                                         30
  MY COMPANION CORETTI                              31
  THE HEAD-MASTER                                   35
  THE SOLDIERS                                      38
  NELLI'S PROTECTOR                                 40
  THE HEAD OF THE CLASS                             42
  _The Little Vidette of Lombardy_                  44
  THE POOR                                          50


  THE TRADER                                        52
  VANITY                                            54
  THE FIRST SNOW-STORM                              56
  THE LITTLE MASON                                  58
  A SNOWBALL                                        61
  THE MISTRESSES                                    62
  IN THE HOUSE OF THE WOUNDED MAN                   64
  _The Little Florentine Scribe_                    66
  WILL                                              75
  GRATITUDE                                         77


  THE ASSISTANT MASTER                              79
  STARDI'S LIBRARY                                  81
  A FINE VISIT                                      85
  FRANTI EXPELLED FROM SCHOOL                       89
  _The Sardinian Drummer-Boy_                       91
  THE LOVE OF COUNTRY                              100
  ENVY                                             102
  FRANTI'S MOTHER                                  104
  HOPE                                             105


  A MEDAL WELL BESTOWED                            108
  GOOD RESOLUTIONS                                 110
  THE ENGINE                                       112
  PRIDE                                            114
  THE WOUNDS OF LABOR                              116
  THE PRISONER                                     118
  _Daddy's Nurse_                                  122
  THE WORKSHOP                                     132
  THE LITTLE HARLEQUIN                             135
  THE LAST DAY OF THE CARNIVAL                     139
  THE BLIND BOYS                                   142
  THE SICK MASTER                                  149
  THE STREET                                       151


  THE EVENING SCHOOLS                              154
  THE FIGHT                                        156
  THE BOYS' PARENTS                                158
  NUMBER 78                                        160
  A LITTLE DEAD BOY                                163
  THE DISTRIBUTION OF PRIZES                       166
  STRIFE                                           172
  MY SISTER                                        174
  _Blood of Romagna_                               176
  THE LITTLE MASON ON HIS SICK-BED                 184
  COUNT CAVOUR                                     187


  SPRING                                           189
  KING UMBERTO                                     191
  THE INFANT ASYLUM                                196
  GYMNASTICS                                       201
  MY FATHER'S TEACHER                              204
  CONVALESCENCE                                    215
  FRIENDS AMONG THE WORKINGMEN                     217
  GARRONE'S MOTHER                                 219
  GIUSEPPE MAZZINI                                 221
  _Civic Valor_                                    223


  CHILDREN WITH THE RICKETS                        229
  SACRIFICE                                        231
  THE FIRE                                         233
  _From the Apennines to the Andes_                237
  SUMMER                                           276
  POETRY                                           278
  THE DEAF-MUTE                                    280


  GARIBALDI                                        290
  THE ARMY                                         291
  ITALY                                            293
  THIRTY-TWO DEGREES                               295
  MY FATHER                                        297
  IN THE COUNTRY                                   298
  MY DEAD SCHOOLMISTRESS                           305
  THANKS                                           308
  _Shipwreck_                                      309


  THE LAST PAGE FROM MY MOTHER                     317
  THE EXAMINATIONS                                 318
  THE LAST EXAMINATION                             321
  FAREWELL                                         323





    Monday, 17th.

TO-DAY is the first day of school. These three months of vacation in the
country have passed like a dream. This morning my mother conducted me to
the Baretti schoolhouse to have me enter for the third elementary
course: I was thinking of the country and went unwillingly. All the
streets were swarming with boys: the two book-shops were thronged with
fathers and mothers who were purchasing bags, portfolios, and
copy-books, and in front of the school so many people had collected,
that the beadle and the policeman found it difficult to keep the
entrance disencumbered. Near the door, I felt myself touched on the
shoulder: it was my master of the second class, cheerful, as usual, and
with his red hair ruffled, and he said to me:--

"So we are separated forever, Enrico?"

I knew it perfectly well, yet these words pained me. We made our way in
with difficulty. Ladies, gentlemen, women of the people, workmen,
officials, nuns, servants, all leading boys with one hand, and holding
the promotion books in the other, filled the anteroom and the stairs,
making such a buzzing, that it seemed as though one were entering a
theatre. I beheld again with pleasure that large room on the ground
floor, with the doors leading to the seven classes, where I had passed
nearly every day for three years. There was a throng; the teachers were
going and coming. My schoolmistress of the first upper class greeted me
from the door of the class-room, and said:--

"Enrico, you are going to the floor above this year. I shall never see
you pass by any more!" and she gazed sadly at me. The director was
surrounded by women in distress because there was no room for their
sons, and it struck me that his beard was a little whiter than it had
been last year. I found the boys had grown taller and stouter. On the
ground floor, where the divisions had already been made, there were
little children of the first and lowest section, who did not want to
enter the class-rooms, and who resisted like donkeys: it was necessary
to drag them in by force, and some escaped from the benches; others,
when they saw their parents depart, began to cry, and the parents had to
go back and comfort and reprimand them, and the teachers were in

My little brother was placed in the class of Mistress Delcati: I was put
with Master Perboni, up stairs on the first floor. At ten o'clock we
were all in our classes: fifty-four of us; only fifteen or sixteen of my
companions of the second class, among them, Derossi, the one who always
gets the first prize. The school seemed to me so small and gloomy when I
thought of the woods and the mountains where I had passed the summer! I
thought again, too, of my master in the second class, who was so good,
and who always smiled at us, and was so small that he seemed to be one
of us, and I grieved that I should no longer see him there, with his
tumbled red hair. Our teacher is tall; he has no beard; his hair is gray
and long; and he has a perpendicular wrinkle on his forehead: he has a
big voice, and he looks at us fixedly, one after the other, as though he
were reading our inmost thoughts; and he never smiles. I said to myself:
"This is my first day. There are nine months more. What toil, what
monthly examinations, what fatigue!" I really needed to see my mother
when I came out, and I ran to kiss her hand. She said to me:--

"Courage, Enrico! we will study together." And I returned home content.
But I no longer have my master, with his kind, merry smile, and school
does not seem pleasant to me as it did before.


    Tuesday, 18th.

My new teacher pleases me also, since this morning. While we were coming
in, and when he was already seated at his post, some one of his scholars
of last year every now and then peeped in at the door to salute him;
they would present themselves and greet him:--

"Good morning, Signor Teacher!" "Good morning, Signor Perboni!" Some
entered, touched his hand, and ran away. It was evident that they liked
him, and would have liked to return to him. He responded, "Good
morning," and shook the hands which were extended to him, but he looked
at no one; at every greeting his smile remained serious, with that
perpendicular wrinkle on his brow, with his face turned towards the
window, and staring at the roof of the house opposite; and instead of
being cheered by these greetings, he seemed to suffer from them. Then he
surveyed us attentively, one after the other. While he was dictating, he
descended and walked among the benches, and, catching sight of a boy
whose face was all red with little pimples, he stopped dictating, took
the lad's face between his hands and examined it; then he asked him what
was the matter with him, and laid his hand on his forehead, to feel if
it was hot. Meanwhile, a boy behind him got up on the bench, and began
to play the marionette. The teacher turned round suddenly; the boy
resumed his seat at one dash, and remained there, with head hanging, in
expectation of being punished. The master placed one hand on his head
and said to him:--

"Don't do so again." Nothing more.

Then he returned to his table and finished the dictation. When he had
finished dictating, he looked at us a moment in silence; then he said,
very, very slowly, with his big but kind voice:--

"Listen. We have a year to pass together; let us see that we pass it
well. Study and be good. I have no family; you are my family. Last year
I had still a mother: she is dead. I am left alone. I have no one but
you in all the world; I have no other affection, no other thought than
you: you must be my sons. I wish you well, and you must like me too. I
do not wish to be obliged to punish any one. Show me that you are boys
of heart: our school shall be a family, and you shall be my consolation
and my pride. I do not ask you to give me a promise on your word of
honor; I am sure that in your hearts you have already answered me 'yes,'
and I thank you."

At that moment the beadle entered to announce the close of school. We
all left our seats very, very quietly. The boy who had stood up on the
bench approached the master, and said to him, in a trembling voice:--

"Forgive me, Signor Master."

The master kissed him on the brow, and said, "Go, my son."


    Friday, 21st.

The year has begun with an accident. On my way to school this morning I
was repeating to my father these words of our teacher, when we perceived
that the street was full of people, who were pressing close to the door
of the schoolhouse. Suddenly my father said: "An accident! The year is
beginning badly!"

We entered with great difficulty. The big hall was crowded with parents
and children, whom the teachers had not succeeded in drawing off into
the class-rooms, and all were turning towards the director's room, and
we heard the words, "Poor boy! Poor Robetti!"

Over their heads, at the end of the room, we could see the helmet of a
policeman, and the bald head of the director; then a gentleman with a
tall hat entered, and all said, "That is the doctor." My father inquired
of a master, "What has happened?"--"A wheel has passed over his foot,"
replied the latter. "His foot has been crushed," said another. He was a
boy belonging to the second class, who, on his way to school through the
Via Dora Grossa, seeing a little child of the lowest class, who had run
away from its mother, fall down in the middle of the street, a few paces
from an omnibus which was bearing down upon it, had hastened boldly
forward, caught up the child, and placed it in safety; but, as he had
not withdrawn his own foot quickly enough, the wheel of the omnibus had
passed over it. He is the son of a captain of artillery. While we were
being told this, a woman entered the big hall, like a lunatic, and
forced her way through the crowd: she was Robetti's mother, who had been
sent for. Another woman hastened towards her, and flung her arms about
her neck, with sobs: it was the mother of the baby who had been saved.
Both flew into the room, and a desperate cry made itself heard: "Oh my
Giulio! My child!"

At that moment a carriage stopped before the door, and a little later
the director made his appearance, with the boy in his arms; the latter
leaned his head on his shoulder, with pallid face and closed eyes. Every
one stood very still; the sobs of the mother were audible. The director
paused a moment, quite pale, and raised the boy up a little in his arms,
in order to show him to the people. And then the masters, mistresses,
parents, and boys all murmured together: "Bravo, Robetti! Bravo, poor
child!" and they threw kisses to him; the mistresses and boys who were
near him kissed his hands and his arms. He opened his eyes and said, "My
portfolio!" The mother of the little boy whom he had saved showed it to
him and said, amid her tears, "I will carry it for you, my dear little
angel; I will carry it for you." And in the meantime, the mother of the
wounded boy smiled, as she covered her face with her hands. They went
out, placed the lad comfortably in the carriage, and the carriage drove
away. Then we all entered school in silence.


    Saturday, 22d.

Yesterday afternoon, while the master was telling us the news of poor
Robetti, who will have to go on crutches, the director entered with a
new pupil, a lad with a very brown face, black hair, large black eyes,
and thick eyebrows which met on his forehead: he was dressed entirely in
dark clothes, with a black morocco belt round his waist. The director
went away, after speaking a few words in the master's ear, leaving
beside the latter the boy, who glanced about with his big black eyes as
though frightened. The master took him by the hand, and said to the
class: "You ought to be glad. To-day there enters our school a little
Italian born in Reggio, in Calabria, more than five hundred miles from
here. Love your brother who has come from so far away. He was born in a
glorious land, which has given illustrious men to Italy, and which now
furnishes her with stout laborers and brave soldiers; in one of the most
beautiful lands of our country, where there are great forests, and great
mountains, inhabited by people full of talent and courage. Treat him
well, so that he shall not perceive that he is far away from the city in
which he was born; make him see that an Italian boy, in whatever Italian
school he sets his foot, will find brothers there." So saying, he rose
and pointed out on the wall map of Italy the spot where lay Reggio, in
Calabria. Then he called loudly:--

"Ernesto Derossi!"--the boy who always has the first prize. Derossi

"Come here," said the master. Derossi left his bench and stepped up to
the little table, facing the Calabrian.

"As the head boy in the school," said the master to him, "bestow the
embrace of welcome on this new companion, in the name of the whole
class--the embrace of the sons of Piedmont to the son of Calabria."

Derossi embraced the Calabrian, saying in his clear voice, "Welcome!"
and the other kissed him impetuously on the cheeks. All clapped their
hands. "Silence!" cried the master; "don't clap your hands in school!"
But it was evident that he was pleased. And the Calabrian was pleased
also. The master assigned him a place, and accompanied him to the bench.
Then he said again:--

"Bear well in mind what I have said to you. In order that this case
might occur, that a Calabrian boy should be as though in his own house
at Turin, and that a boy from Turin should be at home in Calabria, our
country fought for fifty years, and thirty thousand Italians died. You
must all respect and love each other; but any one of you who should give
offence to this comrade, because he was not born in our province, would
render himself unworthy of ever again raising his eyes from the earth
when he passes the tricolored flag."

Hardly was the Calabrian seated in his place, when his neighbors
presented him with pens and a _print_; and another boy, from the last
bench, sent him a Swiss postage-stamp.


    Tuesday, 25th.

The boy who sent the postage-stamp to the Calabrian is the one who
pleases me best of all. His name is Garrone: he is the biggest boy in
the class: he is about fourteen years old; his head is large, his
shoulders broad; he is good, as one can see when he smiles; but it seems
as though he always thought like a man. I already know many of my
comrades. Another one pleases me, too, by the name of Coretti, and he
wears chocolate-colored trousers and a catskin cap: he is always jolly;
he is the son of a huckster of wood, who was a soldier in the war of
1866, in the squadron of Prince Umberto, and they say that he has three
medals. There is little Nelli, a poor hunchback, a weak boy, with a thin
face. There is one who is very well dressed, who always wears fine
Florentine plush, and is named Votini. On the bench in front of me there
is a boy who is called "the little mason" because his father is a mason:
his face is as round as an apple, with a nose like a small ball; he
possesses a special talent: he knows how to make _a hare's face_, and
they all get him to make a hare's face, and then they laugh. He wears a
little ragged cap, which he carries rolled up in his pocket like a
handkerchief. Beside the little mason there sits Garoffi, a long, thin,
silly fellow, with a nose and beak of a screech owl, and very small
eyes, who is always trafficking in little pens and images and
match-boxes, and who writes the lesson on his nails, in order that he
may read it on the sly. Then there is a young gentleman, Carlo Nobis,
who seems very haughty; and he is between two boys who are sympathetic
to me,--the son of a blacksmith-ironmonger, clad in a jacket which
reaches to his knees, who is pale, as though from illness, who always
has a frightened air, and who never laughs; and one with red hair, who
has a useless arm, and wears it suspended from his neck; his father has
gone away to America, and his mother goes about peddling pot-herbs. And
there is another curious type,--my neighbor on the left,--Stardi--small
and thickset, with no neck,--a gruff fellow, who speaks to no one, and
seems not to understand much, but stands attending to the master without
winking, his brow corrugated with wrinkles, and his teeth clenched; and
if he is questioned when the master is speaking, he makes no reply the
first and second times, and the third time he gives a kick: and beside
him there is a bold, cunning face, belonging to a boy named Franti, who
has already been expelled from another district. There are, in addition,
two brothers who are dressed exactly alike, who resemble each other to a
hair, and both of whom wear caps of Calabrian cut, with a peasant's
plume. But handsomer than all the rest, the one who has the most talent,
who will surely be the head this year also, is Derossi; and the master,
who has already perceived this, always questions him. But I like
Precossi, the son of the blacksmith-ironmonger, the one with the long
jacket, who seems sickly. They say that his father beats him; he is very
timid, and every time that he addresses or touches any one, he says,
"Excuse me," and gazes at them with his kind, sad eyes. But Garrone is
the biggest and the nicest.


    Wednesday, 26th.

It was this very morning that Garrone let us know what he is like. When
I entered the school a little late, because the mistress of the upper
first had stopped me to inquire at what hour she could find me at home,
the master had not yet arrived, and three or four boys were tormenting
poor Crossi, the one with the red hair, who has a dead arm, and whose
mother sells vegetables. They were poking him with rulers, hitting him
in the face with chestnut shells, and were making him out to be a
cripple and a monster, by mimicking him, with his arm hanging from his
neck. And he, alone on the end of the bench, and quite pale, began to be
affected by it, gazing now at one and now at another with beseeching
eyes, that they might leave him in peace. But the others mocked him
worse than ever, and he began to tremble and to turn crimson with rage.
All at once, Franti, the boy with the repulsive face, sprang upon a
bench, and pretending that he was carrying a basket on each arm, he aped
the mother of Crossi, when she used to come to wait for her son at the
door; for she is ill now. Many began to laugh loudly. Then Crossi lost
his head, and seizing an inkstand, he hurled it at the other's head with
all his strength; but Franti dodged, and the inkstand struck the master,
who entered at the moment, full in the breast.

All flew to their places, and became silent with terror.

The master, quite pale, went to his table, and said in a constrained

"Who did it?"

No one replied.

The master cried out once more, raising his voice still louder, "Who is

Then Garrone, moved to pity for poor Crossi, rose abruptly and said,
resolutely, "It was I."

The master looked at him, looked at the stupefied scholars; then said in
a tranquil voice, "It was not you."

And, after a moment: "The culprit shall not be punished. Let him rise!"

Crossi rose and said, weeping, "They were striking me and insulting me,
and I lost my head, and threw it."

"Sit down," said the master. "Let those who provoked him rise."

Four rose, and hung their heads.

"You," said the master, "have insulted a companion who had given you no
provocation; you have scoffed at an unfortunate lad, you have struck a
weak person who could not defend himself. You have committed one of the
basest, the most shameful acts with which a human creature can stain
himself. Cowards!"

Having said this, he came down among the benches, put his hand under
Garrone's chin, as the latter stood with drooping head, and having made
him raise it, he looked him straight in the eye, and said to him, "You
are a noble soul."

Garrone profited by the occasion to murmur some words, I know not what,
in the ear of the master; and he, turning towards the four culprits,
said, abruptly, "I forgive you."


    Thursday, 27th.

My schoolmistress has kept her promise which she made, and came to-day
just as I was on the point of going out with my mother to carry some
linen to a poor woman recommended by the _Gazette_. It was a year since
I had seen her in our house. We all made a great deal of her. She is
just the same as ever, a little thing, with a green veil wound about her
bonnet, carelessly dressed, and with untidy hair, because she has not
time to keep herself nice; but with a little less color than last year,
with some white hairs, and a constant cough. My mother said to her:--

"And your health, my dear mistress? You do not take sufficient care of

"It does not matter," the other replied, with her smile, at once
cheerful and melancholy.

"You speak too loud," my mother added; "you exert yourself too much with
your boys."

That is true; her voice is always to be heard; I remember how it was
when I went to school to her; she talked and talked all the time, so
that the boys might not divert their attention, and she did not remain
seated a moment. I felt quite sure that she would come, because she
never forgets her pupils; she remembers their names for years; on the
days of the monthly examination, she runs to ask the director what marks
they have won; she waits for them at the entrance, and makes them show
her their compositions, in order that she may see what progress they
have made; and many still come from the gymnasium to see her, who
already wear long trousers and a watch. To-day she had come back in a
great state of excitement, from the picture-gallery, whither she had
taken her boys, just as she had conducted them all to a museum every
Thursday in years gone by, and explained everything to them. The poor
mistress has grown still thinner than of old. But she is always brisk,
and always becomes animated when she speaks of her school. She wanted to
have a peep at the bed on which she had seen me lying very ill two years
ago, and which is now occupied by my brother; she gazed at it for a
while, and could not speak. She was obliged to go away soon to visit a
boy belonging to her class, the son of a saddler, who is ill with the
measles; and she had besides a package of sheets to correct, a whole
evening's work, and she has still a private lesson in arithmetic to give
to the mistress of a shop before nightfall.

"Well, Enrico," she said to me as she was going, "are you still fond of
your schoolmistress, now that you solve difficult problems and write
long compositions?" She kissed me, and called up once more from the foot
of the stairs: "You are not to forget me, you know, Enrico!" Oh, my kind
teacher, never, never will I forget thee! Even when I grow up I will
remember thee and will go to seek thee among thy boys; and every time
that I pass near a school and hear the voice of a schoolmistress, I
shall think that I hear thy voice, and I shall recall the two years that
I passed in thy school, where I learned so many things, where I so often
saw thee ill and weary, but always earnest, always indulgent, in despair
when any one acquired a bad trick in the writing-fingers, trembling when
the examiners interrogated us, happy when we made a good appearance,
always kind and loving as a mother. Never, never shall I forget thee, my


    Friday, 28th.

Yesterday afternoon I went with my mother and my sister Sylvia, to carry
the linen to the poor woman recommended by the newspaper: I carried the
bundle; Sylvia had the paper with the initials of the name and the
address. We climbed to the very roof of a tall house, to a long corridor
with many doors. My mother knocked at the last; it was opened by a woman
who was still young, blond and thin, and it instantly struck me that I
had seen her many times before, with that very same blue kerchief that
she wore on her head.

"Are you the person of whom the newspaper says so and so?" asked my

"Yes, signora, I am."

"Well, we have brought you a little linen." Then the woman began to
thank us and bless us, and could not make enough of it. Meanwhile I
espied in one corner of the bare, dark room, a boy kneeling in front of
a chair, with his back turned towards us, who appeared to be writing;
and he really was writing, with his paper on the chair and his inkstand
on the floor. How did he manage to write thus in the dark? While I was
saying this to myself, I suddenly recognized the red hair and the coarse
jacket of Crossi, the son of the vegetable-pedler, the boy with the
useless arm. I told my mother softly, while the woman was putting away
the things.

"Hush!" replied my mother; "perhaps he will feel ashamed to see you
giving alms to his mother: don't speak to him."

But at that moment Crossi turned round; I was embarrassed; he smiled,
and then my mother gave me a push, so that I should run to him and
embrace him. I did embrace him: he rose and took me by the hand.

"Here I am," his mother was saying in the meantime to my mother, "alone
with this boy, my husband in America these seven years, and I sick in
addition, so that I can no longer make my rounds with my vegetables, and
earn a few cents. We have not even a table left for my poor Luigino to
do his work on. When there was a bench down at the door, he could, at
least, write on the bench; but that has been taken away. He has not even
a little light so that he can study without ruining his eyes. And it is
a mercy that I can send him to school, since the city provides him with
books and copy-books. Poor Luigino, who would be so glad to study!
Unhappy woman, that I am!"

My mother gave her all that she had in her purse, kissed the boy, and
almost wept as we went out. And she had good cause to say to me: "Look
at that poor boy; see how he is forced to work, when you have every
comfort, and yet study seems hard to you! Ah! Enrico, there is more
merit in the work which he does in one day, than in your work for a
year. It is to such that the first prizes should be given!"


    Friday, 28th.

     Yes, study comes hard to you, my dear Enrico, as your mother says:
     I do not yet see you set out for school with that resolute mind and
     that smiling face which I should like. You are still intractable.
     But listen; reflect a little! What a miserable, despicable thing
     your day would be if you did not go to school! At the end of a week
     you would beg with clasped hands that you might return there, for
     you would be eaten up with weariness and shame; disgusted with your
     sports and with your existence. Everybody, everybody studies now,
     my child. Think of the workmen who go to school in the evening
     after having toiled all the day; think of the women, of the girls
     of the people, who go to school on Sunday, after having worked all
     the week; of the soldiers who turn to their books and copy-books
     when they return exhausted from their drill! Think of the dumb and
     of the boys who are blind, but who study, nevertheless; and last of
     all, think of the prisoners, who also learn to read and write.
     Reflect in the morning, when you set out, that at that very moment,
     in your own city, thirty thousand other boys are going like
     yourself, to shut themselves up in a room for three hours and
     study. Think of the innumerable boys who, at nearly this precise
     hour, are going to school in all countries. Behold them with your
     imagination, going, going, through the lanes of quiet villages;
     through the streets of the noisy towns, along the shores of rivers
     and lakes; here beneath a burning sun; there amid fogs, in boats,
     in countries which are intersected with canals; on horseback on the
     far-reaching plains; in sledges over the snow; through valleys and
     over hills; across forests and torrents, over the solitary paths of
     mountains; alone, in couples, in groups, in long files, all with
     their books under their arms, clad in a thousand ways, speaking a
     thousand tongues, from the most remote schools in Russia. Almost
     lost in the ice to the furthermost schools of Arabia, shaded by
     palm-trees, millions and millions, all going to learn the same
     things, in a hundred varied forms. Imagine this vast, vast throng
     of boys of a hundred races, this immense movement of which you form
     a part, and think, if this movement were to cease, humanity would
     fall back into barbarism; this movement is the progress, the hope,
     the glory of the world. Courage, then, little soldier of the
     immense army. Your books are your arms, your class is your
     squadron, the field of battle is the whole earth, and the victory
     is human civilization. Be not a cowardly soldier, my Enrico.



(_The Monthly Story._)

    Saturday, 29th.

I will not be a _cowardly soldier_, no; but I should be much more
willing to go to school if the master would tell us a story every day,
like the one he told us this morning. "Every month," said he, "I shall
tell you one; I shall give it to you in writing, and it will always be
the tale of a fine and noble deed performed by a boy. This one is
called _The Little Patriot of Padua_. Here it is. A French steamer set
out from Barcelona, a city in Spain, for Genoa; there were on board
Frenchmen, Italians, Spaniards, and Swiss. Among the rest was a lad of
eleven, poorly clad, and alone, who always held himself aloof, like a
wild animal, and stared at all with gloomy eyes. He had good reasons for
looking at every one with forbidding eyes. Two years previous to this
time his parents, peasants in the neighborhood of Padua, had sold him to
a company of mountebanks, who, after they had taught him how to perform
tricks, by dint of blows and kicks and starving, had carried him all
over France and Spain, beating him continually and never giving him
enough to eat. On his arrival in Barcelona, being no longer able to
endure ill treatment and hunger, and being reduced to a pitiable
condition, he had fled from his slave-master and had betaken himself for
protection to the Italian consul, who, moved with compassion, had placed
him on board of this steamer, and had given him a letter to the
treasurer of Genoa, who was to send the boy back to his parents--to the
parents who had sold him like a beast. The poor lad was lacerated and
weak. He had been assigned to the second-class cabin. Every one stared
at him; some questioned him, but he made no reply, and seemed to hate
and despise every one, to such an extent had privation and affliction
saddened and irritated him. Nevertheless, three travellers, by dint of
persisting in their questions, succeeded in making him unloose his
tongue; and in a few rough words, a mixture of Venetian, French, and
Spanish, he related his story. These three travellers were not Italians,
but they understood him; and partly out of compassion, partly because
they were excited with wine, they gave him soldi, jesting with him and
urging him on to tell them other things; and as several ladies entered
the saloon at the moment, they gave him some more money for the purpose
of making a show, and cried: 'Take this! Take this, too!' as they made
the money rattle on the table.

"The boy pocketed it all, thanking them in a low voice, with his surly
mien, but with a look that was for the first time smiling and
affectionate. Then he climbed into his berth, drew the curtain, and lay
quiet, thinking over his affairs. With this money he would be able to
purchase some good food on board, after having suffered for lack of
bread for two years; he could buy a jacket as soon as he landed in
Genoa, after having gone about clad in rags for two years; and he could
also, by carrying it home, insure for himself from his father and mother
a more humane reception than would have fallen to his lot if he had
arrived with empty pockets. This money was a little fortune for him; and
he was taking comfort out of this thought behind the curtain of his
berth, while the three travellers chatted away, as they sat round the
dining-table in the second-class saloon. They were drinking and
discussing their travels and the countries which they had seen; and from
one topic to another they began to discuss Italy. One of them began to
complain of the inns, another of the railways, and then, growing warmer,
they all began to speak evil of everything. One would have preferred a
trip in Lapland; another declared that he had found nothing but
swindlers and brigands in Italy; the third said that Italian officials
do not know how to read.

"'It's an ignorant nation,' repeated the first. 'A filthy nation,' added
the second. 'Ro--' exclaimed the third, meaning to say 'robbers'; but
he was not allowed to finish the word: a tempest of soldi and half-lire
descended upon their heads and shoulders, and leaped upon the table and
the floor with a demoniacal noise. All three sprang up in a rage, looked
up, and received another handful of coppers in their faces.

"'Take back your soldi!' said the lad, disdainfully, thrusting his head
between the curtains of his berth; 'I do not accept alms from those who
insult my country.'"


    November 1st.

Yesterday afternoon I went to the girls' school building, near ours, to
give the story of the boy from Padua to Silvia's teacher, who wished to
read it. There are seven hundred girls there. Just as I arrived, they
began to come out, all greatly rejoiced at the holiday of All Saints and
All Souls; and here is a beautiful thing that I saw: Opposite the door
of the school, on the other side of the street, stood a very small
chimney-sweep, his face entirely black, with his sack and scraper, with
one arm resting against the wall, and his head supported on his arm,
weeping copiously and sobbing. Two or three of the girls of the second
grade approached him and said, "What is the matter, that you weep like
this?" But he made no reply, and went on crying.

"Come, tell us what is the matter with you and why you are crying," the
girls repeated. And then he raised his face from his arm,--a baby
face,--and said through his tears that he had been to several houses to
sweep the chimneys, and had earned thirty soldi, and that he had lost
them, that they had slipped through a hole in his pocket,--and he showed
the hole,--and he did not dare to return home without the money.

"The master will beat me," he said, sobbing; and again dropped his head
upon his arm, like one in despair. The children stood and stared at him
very seriously. In the meantime, other girls, large and small, poor
girls and girls of the upper classes, with their portfolios under their
arms, had come up; and one large girl, who had a blue feather in her
hat, pulled two soldi from her pocket, and said:--

"I have only two soldi; let us make a collection."

"I have two soldi, also," said another girl, dressed in red; "we shall
certainly find thirty soldi among the whole of us"; and then they began
to call out:--

"Amalia! Luigia! Annina!--A soldo. Who has any soldi? Bring your soldi

Several had soldi to buy flowers or copy-books, and they brought them;
some of the smaller girls gave centesimi; the one with the blue feather
collected all, and counted them in a loud voice:--

"Eight, ten, fifteen!" But more was needed. Then one larger than any of
them, who seemed to be an assistant mistress, made her appearance, and
gave half a lira; and all made much of her. Five soldi were still

"The girls of the fourth class are coming; they will have it," said one
girl. The members of the fourth class came, and the soldi showered down.
All hurried forward eagerly; and it was beautiful to see that poor
chimney-sweep in the midst of all those many-colored dresses, of all
that whirl of feathers, ribbons, and curls. The thirty soldi were
already obtained, and more kept pouring in; and the very smallest who
had no money made their way among the big girls, and offered their
bunches of flowers, for the sake of giving something. All at once the
portress made her appearance, screaming:--

"The Signora Directress!" The girls made their escape in all directions,
like a flock of sparrows; and then the little chimney-sweep was visible,
alone, in the middle of the street, wiping his eyes in perfect content,
with his hands full of money, and the button-holes of his jacket, his
pockets, his hat, were full of flowers; and there were even flowers on
the ground at his feet.



    November 2d.

     This day is consecrated to the commemoration of the dead. Do you
     know, Enrico, that all you boys should, on this day, devote a
     thought to those who are dead? To those who have died for you,--for
     boys and little children. How many have died, and how many are
     dying continually! Have you ever reflected how many fathers have
     worn out their lives in toil? how many mothers have descended to
     the grave before their time, exhausted by the privations to which
     they have condemned themselves for the sake of sustaining their
     children? Do you know how many men have planted a knife in their
     hearts in despair at beholding their children in misery? how many
     women have drowned themselves or have died of sorrow, or have gone
     mad, through having lost a child? Think of all these dead on this
     day, Enrico. Think of how many schoolmistresses have died young,
     have pined away through the fatigues of the school, through love of
     the children, from whom they had not the heart to tear
     themselves away; think of the doctors who have perished of
     contagious diseases, having courageously sacrificed themselves to
     cure the children; think of all those who in shipwrecks, in
     conflagrations, in famines, in moments of supreme danger, have
     yielded to infancy the last morsel of bread, the last place of
     safety, the last rope of escape from the flames, to expire content
     with their sacrifice, since they preserved the life of a little
     innocent. Such dead as these are innumerable, Enrico; every
     graveyard contains hundreds of these sainted beings, who, if they
     could rise for a moment from their graves, would cry the name of a
     child to whom they sacrificed the pleasures of youth, the peace of
     old age, their affections, their intelligence, their life: wives of
     twenty, men in the flower of their strength, octogenarians,
     youths,--heroic and obscure martyrs of infancy,--so grand and so
     noble, that the earth does not produce as many flowers as should
     strew their graves. To such a degree are ye loved, O children!
     Think to-day on those dead with gratitude, and you will be kinder
     and more affectionate to all those who love you, and who toil for
     you, my dear, fortunate son, who, on the day of the dead, have, as
     yet, no one to grieve for.


    [Illustration: THE CHARCOAL MAN AND THE GENTLEMAN.--Page 27.]



    Friday, 4th.

THERE had been but two days of vacation, yet it seemed to me as though I
had been a long time without seeing Garrone. The more I know him, the
better I like him; and so it is with all the rest, except with the
overbearing, who have nothing to say to him, because he does not permit
them to exhibit their oppression. Every time that a big boy raises his
hand against a little one, the little one shouts, "Garrone!" and the big
one stops striking him. His father is an engine-driver on the railway;
he has begun school late, because he was ill for two years. He is the
tallest and the strongest of the class; he lifts a bench with one hand;
he is always eating; and he is good. Whatever he is asked for,--a
pencil, rubber, paper, or penknife,--he lends or gives it; and he
neither talks nor laughs in school: he always sits perfectly motionless
on a bench that is too narrow for him, with his spine curved forward,
and his big head between his shoulders; and when I look at him, he
smiles at me with his eyes half closed, as much as to say, "Well,
Enrico, are we friends?" He makes me laugh, because, tall and broad as
he is, he has a jacket, trousers, and sleeves which are too small for
him, and too short; a cap which will not stay on his head; a threadbare
cloak; coarse shoes; and a necktie which is always twisted into a cord.
Dear Garrone! it needs but one glance in thy face to inspire love for
thee. All the little boys would like to be near his bench. He knows
arithmetic well. He carries his books bound together with a strap of red
leather. He has a knife, with a mother-of-pearl handle, which he found
in the field for military manoeuvres, last year, and one day he cut his
finger to the bone; but no one in school envies him it, and no one
breathes a word about it at home, for fear of alarming his parents. He
lets us say anything to him in jest, and he never takes it ill; but woe
to any one who says to him, "That is not true," when he affirms a thing:
then fire flashes from his eyes, and he hammers down blows enough to
split the bench. Saturday morning he gave a soldo to one of the upper
first class, who was crying in the middle of the street, because his own
had been taken from him, and he could not buy his copy-book. For the
last three days he has been working over a letter of eight pages, with
pen ornaments on the margins, for the saint's day of his mother, who
often comes to get him, and who, like himself, is tall and large and
sympathetic. The master is always glancing at him, and every time that
he passes near him he taps him on the neck with his hand, as though he
were a good, peaceable young bull. I am very fond of him. I am happy
when I press his big hand, which seems to be the hand of a man, in mine.
I am almost certain that he would risk his life to save that of a
comrade; that he would allow himself to be killed in his defence, so
clearly can I read his eyes; and although he always seems to be
grumbling with that big voice of his, one feels that it is a voice that
comes from a gentle heart.


    Monday, 7th.

Garrone would certainly never have uttered the words which Carlo Nobis
spoke yesterday morning to Betti. Carlo Nobis is proud, because his
father is a great gentleman; a tall gentleman, with a black beard, and
very serious, who accompanies his son to school nearly every day.
Yesterday morning Nobis quarrelled with Betti, one of the smallest boys,
and the son of a charcoal-man, and not knowing what retort to make,
because he was in the wrong, said to him vehemently, "Your father is a
tattered beggar!" Betti reddened up to his very hair, and said nothing,
but the tears came to his eyes; and when he returned home, he repeated
the words to his father; so the charcoal-dealer, a little man, who was
black all over, made his appearance at the afternoon session, leading
his boy by the hand, in order to complain to the master. While he was
making his complaint, and every one was silent, the father of Nobis, who
was taking off his son's coat at the entrance, as usual, entered on
hearing his name pronounced, and demanded an explanation.

"This workman has come," said the master, "to complain that your son
Carlo said to his boy, 'Your father is a tattered beggar.'"

Nobis's father frowned and reddened slightly. Then he asked his son,
"Did you say that?"

His son, who was standing in the middle of the school, with his head
hanging, in front of little Betti, made no reply.

Then his father grasped him by one arm and pushed him forward, facing
Betti, so that they nearly touched, and said to him, "Beg his pardon."

The charcoal-man tried to interpose, saying, "No, no!" but the gentleman
paid no heed to him, and repeated to his son, "Beg his pardon. Repeat my
words. 'I beg your pardon for the insulting, foolish, and ignoble words
which I uttered against your father, whose hand my father would feel
himself honored to press.'"

The charcoal-man made a resolute gesture, as though to say, "I will not
allow it." The gentleman did not second him, and his son said slowly, in
a very thread of a voice, without raising his eyes from the ground, "I
beg your pardon--for the insulting--foolish--ignoble--words which I
uttered against your father, whose hand my father--would feel himself
honored--to press."

Then the gentleman offered his hand to the charcoal-man, who shook it
vigorously, and then, with a sudden push, he thrust his son into the
arms of Carlo Nobis.

"Do me the favor to place them next each other," said the gentleman to
the master. The master put Betti on Nobis's bench. When they were
seated, the father of Nobis bowed and went away.

The charcoal-man remained standing there in thought for several moments,
gazing at the two boys side by side; then he approached the bench, and
fixed upon Nobis a look expressive of affection and regret, as though he
were desirous of saying something to him, but he did not say anything;
he stretched out his hand to bestow a caress upon him, but he did not
dare, and merely stroked his brow with his large fingers. Then he made
his way to the door, and turning round for one last look, he

"Fix what you have just seen firmly in your minds, boys," said the
master; "this is the finest lesson of the year."


    Thursday, 10th.

The son of the charcoal-man had been a pupil of that schoolmistress
Delcati who had come to see my brother when he was ill, and who had made
us laugh by telling us how, two years ago, the mother of this boy had
brought to her house a big apronful of charcoal, out of gratitude for
her having given the medal to her son; and the poor woman had persisted,
and had not been willing to carry the coal home again, and had wept when
she was obliged to go away with her apron quite full. And she told us,
also, of another good woman, who had brought her a very heavy bunch of
flowers, inside of which there was a little hoard of soldi. We had been
greatly diverted in listening to her, and so my brother had swallowed
his medicine, which he had not been willing to do before. How much
patience is necessary with those boys of the lower first, all toothless,
like old men, who cannot pronounce their r's and s's; and one coughs,
and another has the nosebleed, and another loses his shoes under the
bench, and another bellows because he has pricked himself with his pen,
and another one cries because he has bought copy-book No. 2 instead of
No. 1. Fifty in a class, who know nothing, with those flabby little
hands, and all of them must be taught to write; they carry in their
pockets bits of licorice, buttons, phial corks, pounded brick,--all
sorts of little things, and the teacher has to search them; but they
conceal these objects even in their shoes. And they are not attentive: a
fly enters through the window, and throws them all into confusion; and
in summer they bring grass into school, and horn-bugs, which fly round
in circles or fall into the inkstand, and then streak the copy-books all
over with ink. The schoolmistress has to play mother to all of them, to
help them dress themselves, bandage up their pricked fingers, pick up
their caps when they drop them, watch to see that they do not exchange
coats, and that they do not indulge in cat-calls and shrieks. Poor
schoolmistresses! And then the mothers come to complain: "How comes it,
signorina, that my boy has lost his pen? How does it happen that mine
learns nothing? Why is not my boy mentioned honorably, when he knows so
much? Why don't you have that nail which tore my Piero's trousers, taken
out of the bench?"

Sometimes my brother's teacher gets into a rage with the boys; and when
she can resist no longer, she bites her finger, to keep herself from
dealing a blow; she loses patience, and then she repents, and caresses
the child whom she has scolded; she sends a little rogue out of school,
and then swallows her tears, and flies into a rage with parents who make
the little ones fast by way of punishment. Schoolmistress Delcati is
young and tall, well-dressed, brown of complexion, and restless; she
does everything vivaciously, as though on springs, is affected by a mere
trifle, and at such times speaks with great tenderness.

"But the children become attached to you, surely," my mother said to

"Many do," she replied; "but at the end of the year the majority of them
pay no further heed to us. When they are with the masters, they are
almost ashamed of having been with us--with a woman teacher. After two
years of cares, after having loved a child so much, it makes us feel sad
to part from him; but we say to ourselves, 'Oh, I am sure of that one;
he is fond of me.' But the vacation over, he comes back to school. I run
to meet him; 'Oh, my child, my child!' And he turns his head away." Here
the teacher interrupted herself. "But you will not do so, little one?"
she said, raising her humid eyes, and kissing my brother. "You will not
turn aside your head, will you? You will not deny your poor friend?"


    Thursday, November 10th.

     In the presence of your brother's teacher you failed in respect to
     your mother! Let this never happen again, my Enrico, never again!
     Your irreverent word pierced my heart like a point of steel. I
     thought of your mother when, years ago, she bent the whole of one
     night over your little bed, measuring your breathing, weeping blood
     in her anguish, and with her teeth chattering with terror, because
     she thought that she had lost you, and I feared that she would lose
     her reason; and at this thought I felt a sentiment of horror at
     you. You, to offend your mother! your mother, who would give a year
     of happiness to spare you one hour of pain, who would beg for you,
     who would allow herself to be killed to save your life! Listen,
     Enrico. Fix this thought well in your mind. Reflect that you are
     destined to experience many terrible days in the course of your
     life: the most terrible will be that on which you lose your mother.
     A thousand times, Enrico, after you are a man, strong, and inured
     to all fates, you will invoke her, oppressed with an intense desire
     to hear her voice, if but for a moment, and to see once more her
     open arms, into which you can throw yourself sobbing, like a poor
     child bereft of comfort and protection. How you will then recall
     every bitterness that you have caused her, and with what remorse
     you will pay for all, unhappy wretch! Hope for no peace in your
     life, if you have caused your mother grief. You will repent, you
     will beg her forgiveness, you will venerate her memory--in vain;
     conscience will give you no rest; that sweet and gentle image will
     always wear for you an expression of sadness and of reproach which
     will put your soul to torture. Oh, Enrico, beware; this is the most
     sacred of human affections; unhappy he who tramples it under foot.
     The assassin who respects his mother has still something honest and
     noble in his heart; the most glorious of men who grieves and
     offends her is but a vile creature. Never again let a harsh word
     issue from your lips, for the being who gave you life. And if one
     should ever escape you, let it not be the fear of your father, but
     let it be the impulse of your soul, which casts you at her feet, to
     beseech her that she will cancel from your brow, with the kiss of
     forgiveness, the stain of ingratitude. I love you, my son; you are
     the dearest hope of my life; but I would rather see you dead than
     ungrateful to your mother. Go away, for a little space; offer me no
     more of your caresses; I should not be able to return them from my



    Sunday, 13th.

My father forgave me; but I remained rather sad and then my mother sent
me, with the porter's big son, to take a walk on the Corso. Half-way
down the Corso, as we were passing a cart which was standing in front of
a shop, I heard some one call me by name: I turned round; it was
Coretti, my schoolmate, with chocolate-colored clothes and his catskin
cap, all in a perspiration, but merry, with a big load of wood on his
shoulders. A man who was standing in the cart was handing him an armful
of wood at a time, which he took and carried into his father's shop,
where he piled it up in the greatest haste.

"What are you doing, Coretti?" I asked him.

"Don't you see?" he answered, reaching out his arms to receive the load;
"I am reviewing my lesson."

I laughed; but he seemed to be serious, and, having grasped the armful
of wood, he began to repeat as he ran, "_The conjugation of the
verb--consists in its variations according to number--according to
number and person--_"

And then, throwing down the wood and piling it, "_according to the
time--according to the time to which the action refers._"

And turning to the cart for another armful, "_according to the mode in
which the action is enunciated._"

It was our grammar lesson for the following day. "What would you have me
do?" he said. "I am putting my time to use. My father has gone off with
the man on business; my mother is ill. It falls to me to do the
unloading. In the meantime, I am going over my grammar lesson. It is a
difficult lesson to-day; I cannot succeed in getting it into my
head.--My father said that he would be here at seven o'clock to give you
your money," he said to the man with the cart.

The cart drove off. "Come into the shop a minute," Coretti said to me. I
went in. It was a large apartment, full of piles of wood and fagots,
with a steelyard on one side.

"This is a busy day, I can assure you," resumed Coretti; "I have to do
my work by fits and starts. I was writing my phrases, when some
customers came in. I went to writing again, and behold, that cart
arrived. I have already made two trips to the wood market in the Piazza
Venezia this morning. My legs are so tired that I cannot stand, and my
hands are all swollen. I should be in a pretty pickle if I had to draw!"
And as he spoke he set about sweeping up the dry leaves and the straw
which covered the brick-paved floor.

"But where do you do your work, Coretti?" I inquired.

"Not here, certainly," he replied. "Come and see"; and he led me into a
little room behind the shop, which serves as a kitchen and dining-room,
with a table in one corner, on which there were books and copy-books,
and work which had been begun. "Here it is," he said; "I left the second
answer unfinished: _with which shoes are made, and belts_. Now I will
add, _and valises_." And, taking his pen, he began to write in his fine

"Is there any one here?" sounded a call from the shop at that moment. It
was a woman who had come to buy some little fagots.

"Here I am!" replied Coretti; and he sprang out, weighed the fagots,
took the money, ran to a corner to enter the sale in a shabby old
account-book, and returned to his work, saying, "Let's see if I can
finish that sentence." And he wrote, _travelling-bags, and knapsacks for
soldiers_. "Oh, my poor coffee is boiling over!" he exclaimed, and ran
to the stove to take the coffee-pot from the fire. "It is coffee for
mamma," he said; "I had to learn how to make it. Wait a while, and we
will carry it to her; you'll see what pleasure it will give her. She has
been in bed a whole week.--Conjugation of the verb! I always scald my
fingers with this coffee-pot. What is there that I can add after the
soldiers' knapsacks? Something more is needed, and I can think of
nothing. Come to mamma."

He opened a door, and we entered another small room: there Coretti's
mother lay in a big bed, with a white kerchief wound round her head.

"Ah, brave little master!" said the woman to me; "you have come to visit
the sick, have you not?"

Meanwhile, Coretti was arranging the pillows behind his mother's back,
readjusting the bedclothes, brightening up the fire, and driving the cat
off the chest of drawers.

"Do you want anything else, mamma?" he asked, as he took the cup from
her. "Have you taken the two spoonfuls of syrup? When it is all gone, I
will make a trip to the apothecary's. The wood is unloaded. At four
o'clock I will put the meat on the stove, as you told me; and when the
butter-woman passes, I will give her those eight soldi. Everything will
go on well; so don't give it a thought."

"Thanks, my son!" replied the woman. "Go, my poor boy!--he thinks of

She insisted that I should take a lump of sugar; and then Coretti showed
me a little picture,--the photograph portrait of his father dressed as a
soldier, with the medal for bravery which he had won in 1866, in the
troop of Prince Umberto: he had the same face as his son, with the same
vivacious eyes and his merry smile.

We went back to the kitchen. "I have found the thing," said Coretti; and
he added on his copy-book, _horse-trappings are also made of it_. "The
rest I will do this evening; I shall sit up later. How happy you are, to
have time to study and to go to walk, too!" And still gay and active, he
re-entered the shop, and began to place pieces of wood on the horse and
to saw them, saying: "This is gymnastics; it is quite different from
the _throw your arms forwards_. I want my father to find all this wood
sawed when he gets home; how glad he will be! The worst part of it is
that after sawing I make T's and L's which look like snakes, so the
teacher says. What am I to do? I will tell him that I have to move my
arms about. The important thing is to have mamma get well quickly. She
is better to-day, thank Heaven! I will study my grammar to-morrow
morning at cock-crow. Oh, here's the cart with logs! To work!"

A small cart laden with logs halted in front of the shop. Coretti ran
out to speak to the man, then returned: "I cannot keep your company any
longer now," he said; "farewell until to-morrow. You did right to come
and hunt me up. A pleasant walk to you! happy fellow!"

And pressing my hand, he ran to take the first log, and began once more
to trot back and forth between the cart and the shop, with a face as
fresh as a rose beneath his catskin cap, and so alert that it was a
pleasure to see him.

"Happy fellow!" he had said to me. Ah, no, Coretti, no; you are the
happier, because you study and work too; because you are of use to your
father and your mother; because you are better--a hundred times
better--and more courageous than I, my dear schoolmate.


    Friday, 18th.

Coretti was pleased this morning, because his master of the second
class, Coatti, a big man, with a huge head of curly hair, a great black
beard, big dark eyes, and a voice like a cannon, had come to assist in
the work of the monthly examination. He is always threatening the boys
that he will break them in pieces and carry them by the nape of the neck
to the quæstor, and he makes all sorts of frightful faces; but he never
punishes any one, but always smiles the while behind his beard, so that
no one can see it. There are eight masters in all, including Coatti, and
a little, beardless assistant, who looks like a boy. There is one master
of the fourth class, who is lame and always wrapped up in a big woollen
scarf, and who is always suffering from pains which he contracted when
he was a teacher in the country, in a damp school, where the walls were
dripping with moisture. Another of the teachers of the fourth is old and
perfectly white-haired, and has been a teacher of the blind. There is
one well-dressed master, with eye-glasses, and a blond mustache, who is
called the _little lawyer_, because, while he was teaching, he studied
law and took his diploma; and he is also making a book to teach how to
write letters. On the other hand, the one who teaches gymnastics is of a
soldierly type, and was with Garibaldi, and has on his neck a scar from
a sabre wound received at the battle of Milazzo. Then there is the
head-master, who is tall and bald, and wears gold spectacles, with a
gray beard that flows down upon his breast; he dresses entirely in
black, and is always buttoned up to the chin. He is so kind to the boys,
that when they enter the director's room, all in a tremble, because they
have been summoned to receive a reproof, he does not scold them, but
takes them by the hand, and tells them so many reasons why they ought
not to behave so, and why they should be sorry, and promise to be good,
and he speaks in such a kind manner, and in so gentle a voice, that they
all come out with red eyes, more confused than if they had been
punished. Poor head-master! he is always the first at his post in the
morning, waiting for the scholars and lending an ear to the parents; and
when the other masters are already on their way home, he is still
hovering about the school, and looking out that the boys do not get
under the carriage-wheels, or hang about the streets to stand on their
heads, or fill their bags with sand or stones; and the moment he makes
his appearance at a corner, so tall and black, flocks of boys scamper
off in all directions, abandoning their games of coppers and marbles,
and he threatens them from afar with his forefinger, with his sad and
loving air. No one has ever seen him smile, my mother says, since the
death of his son, who was a volunteer in the army: he always keeps the
latter's portrait before his eyes, on a little table in the
head-master's room. He wanted to go away after this misfortune; he
prepared his application for retirement to the Municipal Council, and
kept it always on his table, putting off sending it from day to day,
because it grieved him to leave the boys. But the other day he seemed
undecided; and my father, who was in the director's room with him, was
just saying to him, "What a shame it is that you are going away, Signor
Director!" when a man entered for the purpose of inscribing the name of
a boy who was to be transferred from another schoolhouse to ours,
because he had changed his residence. At the sight of this boy, the
head-master made a gesture of astonishment, gazed at him for a while,
gazed at the portrait that he keeps on his little table, and then stared
at the boy again, as he drew him between his knees, and made him hold up
his head. This boy resembled his dead son. The head-master said, "It is
all right," wrote down his name, dismissed the father and son, and
remained absorbed in thought. "What a pity that you are going away!"
repeated my father. And then the head-master took up his application for
retirement, tore it in two, and said, "I shall remain."


    Tuesday, 22d.

His son had been a volunteer in the army when he died: this is the
reason why the head-master always goes to the Corso to see the soldiers
pass, when we come out of school. Yesterday a regiment of infantry was
passing, and fifty boys began to dance around the band, singing and
beating time with their rulers on their bags and portfolios. We were
standing in a group on the sidewalk, watching them: Garrone, squeezed
into his clothes, which were too tight for him, was biting at a large
piece of bread; Votini, the well-dressed boy, who always wears Florence
plush; Precossi, the son of the blacksmith, with his father's jacket;
and the Calabrian; and the "little mason"; and Crossi, with his red
head; and Franti, with his bold face; and Robetti, too, the son of the
artillery captain, the boy who saved the child from the omnibus, and who
now walks on crutches. Franti burst into a derisive laugh, in the face
of a soldier who was limping. But all at once he felt a man's hand on
his shoulder: he turned round; it was the head-master. "Take care," said
the master to him; "jeering at a soldier when he is in the ranks, when
he can neither avenge himself nor reply, is like insulting a man who is
bound: it is baseness."

Franti disappeared. The soldiers were marching by fours, all perspiring
and covered with dust, and their guns were gleaming in the sun. The
head-master said:--

"You ought to feel kindly towards soldiers, boys. They are our
defenders, who would go to be killed for our sakes, if a foreign army
were to menace our country to-morrow. They are boys too; they are not
many years older than you; and they, too, go to school; and there are
poor men and gentlemen among them, just as there are among you, and they
come from every part of Italy. See if you cannot recognize them by their
faces; Sicilians are passing, and Sardinians, and Neapolitans, and
Lombards. This is an old regiment, one of those which fought in 1848.
They are not the same soldiers, but the flag is still the same. How many
have already died for our country around that banner twenty years before
you were born!"

"Here it is!" said Garrone. And in fact, not far off, the flag was
visible, advancing, above the heads of the soldiers.

"Do one thing, my sons," said the head-master; "make your scholar's
salute, with your hand to your brow, when the tricolor passes."

The flag, borne by an officer, passed before us, all tattered and faded,
and with the medals attached to the staff. We put our hands to our
foreheads, all together. The officer looked at us with a smile, and
returned our salute with his hand.

"Bravi, boys!" said some one behind us. We turned to look; it was an old
man who wore in his button-hole the blue ribbon of the Crimean
campaign--a pensioned officer. "Bravi!" he said; "you have done a fine

In the meantime, the band of the regiment had made a turn at the end of
the Corso, surrounded by a throng of boys, and a hundred merry shouts
accompanied the blasts of the trumpets, like a war-song.

"Bravi!" repeated the old officer, as he gazed upon us; "he who respects
the flag when he is little will know how to defend it when he is grown


    Wednesday, 23d.

Nelli, too, poor little hunchback! was looking at the soldiers
yesterday, but with an air as though he were thinking, "I can never be a
soldier!" He is good, and he studies; but he is so puny and wan, and he
breathes with difficulty. He always wears a long apron of shining black
cloth. His mother is a little blond woman who dresses in black, and
always comes to get him at the end of school, so that he may not come
out in the confusion with the others, and she caresses him. At first
many of the boys ridiculed him, and thumped him on the back with their
bags, because he is so unfortunate as to be a hunchback; but he never
offered any resistance, and never said anything to his mother, in order
not to give her the pain of knowing that her son was the laughing-stock
of his companions: they derided him, and he held his peace and wept,
with his head laid against the bench.

But one morning Garrone jumped up and said, "The first person who
touches Nelli will get such a box on the ear from me that he will spin
round three times!"

Franti paid no attention to him; the box on the ear was delivered: the
fellow spun round three times, and from that time forth no one ever
touched Nelli again. The master placed Garrone near him, on the same
bench. They have become friends. Nelli has grown very fond of Garrone.
As soon as he enters the schoolroom he looks to see if Garrone is there.
He never goes away without saying, "Good by, Garrone," and Garrone does
the same with him.

When Nelli drops a pen or a book under the bench, Garrone stoops
quickly, to prevent his stooping and tiring himself, and hands him his
book or his pen, and then he helps him to put his things in his bag and
to twist himself into his coat. For this Nelli loves him, and gazes at
him constantly; and when the master praises Garrone he is pleased, as
though he had been praised himself. Nelli must at last have told his
mother all about the ridicule of the early days, and what they made him
suffer; and about the comrade who defended him, and how he had grown
fond of the latter; for this is what happened this morning. The master
had sent me to carry to the director, half an hour before the close of
school, a programme of the lesson, and I entered the office at the same
moment with a small blond woman dressed in black, the mother of Nelli,
who said, "Signor Director, is there in the class with my son a boy
named Garrone?"

"Yes," replied the head-master.

"Will you have the goodness to let him come here for a moment, as I have
a word to say to him?"

The head-master called the beadle and sent him to the school, and after
a minute Garrone appeared on the threshold, with his big, close-cropped
head, in perfect amazement. No sooner did she catch sight of him than
the woman flew to meet him, threw her arms on his shoulders, and kissed
him a great many times on the head, saying:--

"You are Garrone, the friend of my little son, the protector of my poor
child; it is you, my dear, brave boy; it is you!" Then she searched
hastily in all her pockets, and in her purse, and finding nothing, she
detached a chain from her neck, with a small cross, and put it on
Garrone's neck, underneath his necktie, and said to him:--

"Take it! wear it in memory of me, my dear boy; in memory of Nelli's
mother, who thanks and blesses you."


    Friday, 25th.

Garrone attracts the love of all; Derossi, the admiration. He has taken
the first medal; he will always be the first, and this year also; no one
can compete with him; all recognize his superiority in all points. He is
the first in arithmetic, in grammar, in composition, in drawing; he
understands everything on the instant; he has a marvellous memory; he
succeeds in everything without effort; it seems as though study were
play to him. The teacher said to him yesterday:--

"You have received great gifts from God; all you have to do is not to
squander them." He is, moreover, tall and handsome, with a great crown
of golden curls; he is so nimble that he can leap over a bench by
resting one hand on it; and he already understands fencing. He is twelve
years old, and the son of a merchant; he is always dressed in blue, with
gilt buttons; he is always lively, merry, gracious to all, and helps all
he can in examinations; and no one has ever dared to do anything
disagreeable to him, or to say a rough word to him. Nobis and Franti
alone look askance at him, and Votini darts envy from his eyes; but he
does not even perceive it. All smile at him, and take his hand or his
arm, when he goes about, in his graceful way, to collect the work. He
gives away illustrated papers, drawings, everything that is given him at
home; he has made a little geographical chart of Calabria for the
Calabrian lad; and he gives everything with a smile, without paying any
heed to it, like a grand gentleman, and without favoritism for any one.
It is impossible not to envy him, not to feel smaller than he in
everything. Ah! I, too, envy him, like Votini. And I feel a bitterness,
almost a certain scorn, for him, sometimes, when I am striving to
accomplish my work at home, and think that he has already finished his,
at this same moment, extremely well, and without fatigue. But then, when
I return to school, and behold him so handsome, so smiling and
triumphant, and hear how frankly and confidently he replies to the
master's questions, and how courteous he is, and how the others all like
him, then all bitterness, all scorn, departs from my heart, and I am
ashamed of having experienced these sentiments. I should like to be
always near him at such times; I should like to be able to do all my
school tasks with him: his presence, his voice, inspire me with courage,
with a will to work, with cheerfulness and pleasure.

The teacher has given him the monthly story, which will be read
to-morrow, to copy,--_The Little Vidette of Lombardy_. He copied it this
morning, and was so much affected by that heroic deed, that his face was
all aflame, his eyes humid, and his lips trembling; and I gazed at him:
how handsome and noble he was! With what pleasure would I not have said
frankly to his face: "Derossi, you are worth more than I in everything!
You are a man in comparison with me! I respect you and I admire you!"


(_Monthly Story._)

    Saturday, 26th.

In 1859, during the war for the liberation of Lombardy, a few days after
the battle of Solfarino and San Martino, won by the French and Italians
over the Austrians, on a beautiful morning in the month of June, a
little band of cavalry of Saluzzo was proceeding at a slow pace along a
retired path, in the direction of the enemy, and exploring the country
attentively. The troop was commanded by an officer and a sergeant, and
all were gazing into the distance ahead of them, with eyes fixed,
silent, and prepared at any moment to see the uniforms of the enemy's
advance-posts gleam white before them through the trees. In this order
they arrived at a rustic cabin, surrounded by ash-trees, in front of
which stood a solitary boy, about twelve years old, who was removing the
bark from a small branch with a knife, in order to make himself a stick
of it. From one window of the little house floated a large tricolored
flag; there was no one inside: the peasants had fled, after hanging out
the flag, for fear of the Austrians. As soon as the lad saw the cavalry,
he flung aside his stick and raised his cap. He was a handsome boy, with
a bold face and large blue eyes and long golden hair: he was in his
shirt-sleeves and his breast was bare.

"What are you doing here?" the officer asked him, reining in his horse.
"Why did you not flee with your family?"

"I have no family," replied the boy. "I am a foundling. I do a little
work for everybody. I remained here to see the war."

"Have you seen any Austrians pass?"

"No; not for these three days."

The officer paused a while in thought; then he leaped from his horse,
and leaving his soldiers there, with their faces turned towards the foe,
he entered the house and mounted to the roof. The house was low; from
the roof only a small tract of country was visible. "It will be
necessary to climb the trees," said the officer, and descended. Just in
front of the garden plot rose a very lofty and slender ash-tree, which
was rocking its crest in the azure. The officer stood a brief space in
thought, gazing now at the tree, and again at the soldiers; then, all of
a sudden, he asked the lad:--

"Is your sight good, you monkey?"

"Mine?" replied the boy. "I can spy a young sparrow a mile away."

"Are you good for a climb to the top of this tree?"

"To the top of this tree? I? I'll be up there in half a minute."

"And will you be able to tell me what you see up there--if there are
Austrian soldiers in that direction, clouds of dust, gleaming guns,

"Certainly I shall."

"What do you demand for this service?"

"What do I demand?" said the lad, smiling. "Nothing. A fine thing,
indeed! And then--if it were for the _Germans_, I wouldn't do it on any
terms; but for our men! I am a Lombard!"

"Good! Then up with you."

"Wait a moment, until I take off my shoes."

He pulled off his shoes, tightened the girth of his trousers, flung his
cap on the grass, and clasped the trunk of the ash.

"Take care, now!" exclaimed the officer, making a movement to hold him
back, as though seized with a sudden terror.

The boy turned to look at him, with his handsome blue eyes, as though
interrogating him.

"No matter," said the officer; "up with you."

Up went the lad like a cat.

"Keep watch ahead!" shouted the officer to the soldiers.

In a few moments the boy was at the top of the tree, twined around the
trunk, with his legs among the leaves, but his body displayed to view,
and the sun beating down on his blond head, which seemed to be of gold.
The officer could hardly see him, so small did he seem up there.

"Look straight ahead and far away!" shouted the officer.

The lad, in order to see better, removed his right hand from the tree,
and shaded his eyes with it.

"What do you see?" asked the officer.

The boy inclined his head towards him, and making a speaking-trumpet of
his hand, replied, "Two men on horseback, on the white road."

"At what distance from here?"

"Half a mile."

"Are they moving?"

"They are standing still."

"What else do you see?" asked the officer, after a momentary silence.
"Look to the right." The boy looked to the right.

Then he said: "Near the cemetery, among the trees, there is something
glittering. It seems to be bayonets."

"Do you see men?"

"No. They must be concealed in the grain."

At that moment a sharp whiz of a bullet passed high up in the air, and
died away in the distance, behind the house.

"Come down, my lad!" shouted the officer. "They have seen you. I don't
want anything more. Come down."

"I'm not afraid," replied the boy.

"Come down!" repeated the officer. "What else do you see to the left?"

"To the left?"

"Yes, to the left."

The lad turned his head to the left: at that moment, another whistle,
more acute and lower than the first, cut the air. The boy was thoroughly
aroused. "Deuce take them!" he exclaimed. "They actually are aiming at
me!" The bullet had passed at a short distance from him.

"Down!" shouted the officer, imperious and irritated.

"I'll come down presently," replied the boy. "But the tree shelters me.
Don't fear. You want to know what there is on the left?"

"Yes, on the left," answered the officer; "but come down."

"On the left," shouted the lad, thrusting his body out in that
direction, "yonder, where there is a chapel, I think I see--"

A third fierce whistle passed through the air, and almost
instantaneously the boy was seen to descend, catching for a moment at
the trunk and branches, and then falling headlong with arms outspread.

"Curse it!" exclaimed the officer, running up.

The boy landed on the ground, upon his back, and remained stretched out
there, with arms outspread and supine; a stream of blood flowed from his
breast, on the left. The sergeant and two soldiers leaped from their
horses; the officer bent over and opened his shirt: the ball had entered
his left lung. "He is dead!" exclaimed the officer.

"No, he still lives!" replied the sergeant.--"Ah, poor boy! brave boy!"
cried the officer. "Courage, courage!" But while he was saying
"courage," he was pressing his handkerchief on the wound. The boy rolled
his eyes wildly and dropped his head back. He was dead. The officer
turned pale and stood for a moment gazing at him; then he laid him down
carefully on his cloak upon the grass; then rose and stood looking at
him; the sergeant and two soldiers also stood motionless, gazing upon
him: the rest were facing in the direction of the enemy.

"Poor boy!" repeated the officer. "Poor, brave boy!"

Then he approached the house, removed the tricolor from the window, and
spread it in guise of a funeral pall over the little dead boy, leaving
his face uncovered. The sergeant collected the dead boy's shoes, cap,
his little stick, and his knife, and placed them beside him.

They stood for a few moments longer in silence; then the officer turned
to the sergeant and said to him, "We will send the ambulance for him: he
died as a soldier; the soldiers shall bury him." Having said this, he
wafted a kiss with his hand to the dead boy, and shouted "To horse!"
All sprang into the saddle, the troop drew together and resumed its

And a few hours later the little dead boy received the honors of war.

At sunset the whole line of the Italian advance-posts marched forward
towards the foe, and along the same road which had been traversed in the
morning by the detachment of cavalry, there proceeded, in two files, a
heavy battalion of sharpshooters, who, a few days before, had valiantly
watered the hill of San Martino with blood. The news of the boy's death
had already spread among the soldiers before they left the encampment.
The path, flanked by a rivulet, ran a few paces distant from the house.
When the first officers of the battalion caught sight of the little body
stretched at the foot of the ash-tree and covered with the tricolored
banner, they made the salute to it with their swords, and one of them
bent over the bank of the streamlet, which was covered with flowers at
that spot, plucked a couple of blossoms and threw them on it. Then all
the sharpshooters, as they passed, plucked flowers and threw them on the
body. In a few minutes the boy was covered with flowers, and officers
and soldiers all saluted him as they passed by: "Bravo, little Lombard!"
"Farewell, my lad!" "I salute thee, gold locks!" "Hurrah!" "Glory!"
"Farewell!" One officer tossed him his medal for valor; another went and
kissed his brow. And flowers continued to rain down on his bare feet, on
his blood-stained breast, on his golden head. And there he lay asleep on
the grass, enveloped in his flag, with a white and almost smiling face,
poor boy! as though he heard these salutes and was glad that he had
given his life for his Lombardy.


    Tuesday, 29th.

     To give one's life for one's country as the Lombard boy did, is a
     great virtue; but you must not neglect the lesser virtues, my son.
     This morning as you walked in front of me, when we were returning
     from school, you passed near a poor woman who was holding between
     her knees a thin, pale child, and who asked alms of you. You looked
     at her and gave her nothing, and yet you had some coppers in your
     pocket. Listen, my son. Do not accustom yourself to pass
     indifferently before misery which stretches out its hand to you and
     far less before a mother who asks a copper for her child. Reflect
     that the child may be hungry; think of the agony of that poor
     woman. Picture to yourself the sob of despair of your mother, if
     she were some day forced to say, "Enrico, I cannot give you any
     bread even to-day!" When I give a soldo to a beggar, and he says to
     me, "God preserve your health, and the health of all belonging to
     you!" you cannot understand the sweetness which these words produce
     in my heart, the gratitude that I feel for that poor man. It seems
     to me certain that such a good wish must keep one in good health
     for a long time, and I return home content, and think, "Oh, that
     poor man has returned to me very much more than I gave him!" Well,
     let me sometimes feel that good wish called forth, merited by you;
     draw a soldo from your little purse now and then, and let it fall
     into the hand of a blind man without means of subsistence, of a
     mother without bread, of a child without a mother. The poor love
     the alms of boys, because it does not humiliate them, and because
     boys, who stand in need of everything, resemble themselves: you see
     that there are always poor people around the schoolhouses. The alms
     of a man is an act of charity; but that of a child is at one and
     the same time an act of charity and a caress--do you understand? It
     is as though a soldo and a flower fell from your hand together.
     Reflect that you lack nothing, and that they lack everything, that
     while you aspire to be happy, they are content simply with not
     dying. Reflect, that it is a horror, in the midst of so many
     palaces, along the streets thronged with carriages, and children
     clad in velvet, that there should be women and children who have
     nothing to eat. To have nothing to eat! O God! Boys like you, as
     good as you, as intelligent as you, who, in the midst of a great
     city, have nothing to eat, like wild beasts lost in a desert! Oh,
     never again, Enrico, pass a mother who is begging, without placing
     a soldo in her hand!




    Thursday, 1st.

MY father wishes me to have some one of my companions come to the house
every holiday, or that I should go to see one of them, in order that I
may gradually become friends with all of them. Sunday I shall go to walk
with Votini, the well-dressed boy who is always polishing himself up,
and who is so envious of Derossi. In the meantime, Garoffi came to the
house to-day,--that long, lank boy, with the nose like an owl's beak,
and small, knavish eyes, which seem to be ferreting everywhere. He is
the son of a grocer; he is an eccentric fellow; he is always counting
the soldi that he has in his pocket; he reckons them on his fingers
very, very rapidly, and goes through some process of multiplication
without any tables; and he hoards his money, and already has a book in
the Scholars' Savings Bank. He never spends a soldo, I am positive; and
if he drops a centesimo under the benches, he is capable of hunting for
it for a week. He does as magpies do, so Derossi says. Everything that
he finds--worn-out pens, postage-stamps that have been used, pins,
candle-ends--he picks up. He has been collecting postage-stamps for more
than two years now; and he already has hundreds of them from every
country, in a large album, which he will sell to a bookseller later on,
when he has got it quite full. Meanwhile, the bookseller gives him his
copy-books gratis, because he takes a great many boys to the shop. In
school, he is always bartering; he effects sales of little articles
every day, and lotteries and exchanges; then he regrets the exchange,
and wants his stuff back; he buys for two and gets rid of it for four;
he plays at pitch-penny, and never loses; he sells old newspapers over
again to the tobacconist; and he keeps a little blank-book, in which he
sets down his transactions, which is completely filled with sums and
subtractions. At school he studies nothing but arithmetic; and if he
desires the medal, it is only that he may have a free entrance into the
puppet-show. But he pleases me; he amuses me. We played at keeping a
market, with weights and scales. He knows the exact price of everything;
he understands weighing, and makes handsome paper horns, like
shopkeepers, with great expedition. He declares that as soon as he has
finished school he shall set up in business--in a new business which he
has invented himself. He was very much pleased when I gave him some
foreign postage-stamps; and he informed me exactly how each one sold for
collections. My father pretended to be reading the newspaper; but he
listened to him, and was greatly diverted. His pockets are bulging, full
of his little wares; and he covers them up with a long black cloak, and
always appears thoughtful and preoccupied with business, like a
merchant. But the thing that he has nearest his heart is his collection
of postage-stamps. This is his treasure; and he always speaks of it as
though he were going to get a fortune out of it. His companions accuse
him of miserliness and usury. I do not know: I like him; he teaches me
a great many things; he seems a man to me. Coretti, the son of the
wood-merchant, says that he would not give him his postage-stamps to
save his mother's life. My father does not believe it.

"Wait a little before you condemn him," he said to me; "he has this
passion, but he has heart as well."


    Monday, 5th.

Yesterday I went to take a walk along the Rivoli road with Votini and
his father. As we were passing through the Via Dora Grossa we saw
Stardi, the boy who kicks disturbers, standing stiffly in front of the
window of a book-shop, with his eyes fixed on a geographical map; and no
one knows how long he had been there, because he studies even in the
street. He barely returned our salute, the rude fellow! Votini was well
dressed--even too much so. He had on morocco boots embroidered in red,
an embroidered coat, small silken frogs, a white beaver hat, and a
watch; and he strutted. But his vanity was destined to come to a bad end
on this occasion. After having run a tolerably long distance up the
Rivoli road, leaving his father, who was walking slowly, a long way in
the rear, we halted at a stone seat, beside a modestly clad boy, who
appeared to be weary, and was meditating, with drooping head. A man, who
must have been his father, was walking to and fro under the trees,
reading the newspaper. We sat down. Votini placed himself between me and
the boy. All at once he recollected that he was well dressed, and wanted
to make his neighbor admire and envy him.

    [Illustration: "STOP THAT, YOU LITTLE RASCALS!"--Page 60.]

He lifted one foot, and said to me, "Have you seen my officer's boots?"
He said this in order to make the other boy look at them; but the latter
paid no attention to them.

Then he dropped his foot, and showed me his silk frogs, glancing askance
at the boy the while, and said that these frogs did not please him, and
that he wanted to have them changed to silver buttons; but the boy did
not look at the frogs either.

Then Votini fell to twirling his very handsome white castor hat on the
tip of his forefinger; but the boy--and it seemed as though he did it on
purpose--did not deign even a glance at the hat.

Votini, who began to become irritated, drew out his watch, opened it,
and showed me the wheels; but the boy did not turn his head. "Is it of
silver gilt?" I asked him.

"No," he replied; "it is gold."

"But not entirely of gold," I said; "there must be some silver with it."

"Why, no!" he retorted; and, in order to compel the boy to look, he held
the watch before his face, and said to him, "Say, look here! isn't it
true that it is entirely of gold?"

The boy replied curtly, "I don't know."

"Oh! oh!" exclaimed Votini, full of wrath, "what pride!"

As he was saying this, his father came up, and heard him; he looked
steadily at the lad for a moment, then said sharply to his son, "Hold
your tongue!" and, bending down to his ear, he added, "he is blind!"

Votini sprang to his feet, with a shudder, and stared the boy in the
face: the latter's eyeballs were glassy, without expression, without

Votini stood humbled,--speechless,--with his eyes fixed on the ground.
At length he stammered, "I am sorry; I did not know."

But the blind boy, who had understood it all, said, with a kind and
melancholy smile, "Oh, it's no matter!"

Well, he is vain; but Votini has not at all a bad heart. He never
laughed again during the whole of the walk.


    Saturday, 10th.

Farewell, walks to Rivoli! Here is the beautiful friend of the boys!
Here is the first snow! Ever since yesterday evening it has been falling
in thick flakes as large as gillyflowers. It was a pleasure this morning
at school to see it beat against the panes and pile up on the
window-sills; even the master watched it, and rubbed his hands; and all
were glad, when they thought of making snowballs, and of the ice which
will come later, and of the hearth at home. Stardi, entirely absorbed in
his lessons, and with his fists pressed to his temples, was the only one
who paid no attention to it. What beauty, what a celebration there was
when we left school! All danced down the streets, shouting and tossing
their arms, catching up handfuls of snow, and dashing about in it, like
poodles in water. The umbrellas of the parents, who were waiting for
them outside, were all white; the policeman's helmet was white; all our
satchels were white in a few moments. Every one appeared to be beside
himself with joy--even Precossi, the son of the blacksmith, that pale
boy who never laughs; and Robetti, the lad who saved the little child
from the omnibus, poor fellow! he jumped about on his crutches. The
Calabrian, who had never touched snow, made himself a little ball of it,
and began to eat it, as though it had been a peach; Crossi, the son of
the vegetable-vendor, filled his satchel with it; and the little mason
made us burst with laughter, when my father invited him to come to our
house to-morrow. He had his mouth full of snow, and, not daring either
to spit it out or to swallow it, he stood there choking and staring at
us, and made no answer. Even the schoolmistress came out of school on a
run, laughing; and my mistress of the first upper class, poor little
thing! ran through the drizzling snow, covering her face with her green
veil, and coughing; and meanwhile, hundreds of girls from the
neighboring schoolhouse passed by, screaming and frolicking on that
white carpet; and the masters and the beadles and the policemen shouted,
"Home! home!" swallowing flakes of snow, and whitening their moustaches
and beards. But they, too, laughed at this wild hilarity of the
scholars, as they celebrated the winter.

     You hail the arrival of winter; but there are boys who have neither
     clothes nor shoes nor fire. There are thousands of them, who
     descend to their villages, over a long road, carrying in hands
     bleeding from chilblains a bit of wood to warm the schoolroom.
     There are hundreds of schools almost buried in the snow, bare and
     dismal as caves, where the boys suffocate with smoke or chatter
     their teeth with cold as they gaze in terror at the white flakes
     which descend unceasingly, which pile up without cessation on their
     distant cabins threatened by avalanches. You rejoice in the winter,
     boys. Think of the thousands of creatures to whom winter brings
     misery and death.



    Sunday, 11th.

The little mason came to-day, in a hunting-jacket, entirely dressed in
the cast-off clothes of his father, which were still white with lime and
plaster. My father was even more anxious than I that he should come. How
much pleasure he gives us! No sooner had he entered than he pulled off
his ragged cap, which was all soaked with snow, and thrust it into one
of his pockets; then he advanced with his listless gait, like a weary
workman, turning his face, as smooth as an apple, with its ball-like
nose, from side to side; and when he entered the dining-room, he cast a
glance round at the furniture and fixed his eyes on a small picture of
Rigoletto, a hunchbacked jester, and made a "hare's face."

It is impossible to refrain from laughing when one sees him make that
hare's face. We went to playing with bits of wood: he possesses an
extraordinary skill at making towers and bridges, which seem to stand as
though by a miracle, and he works at it quite seriously, with the
patience of a man. Between one tower and another he told me about his
family: they live in a garret; his father goes to the evening school to
learn to read, and his mother is a washerwoman. And they must love him,
of course, for he is clad like a poor boy, but he is well protected from
the cold, with neatly mended clothes, and with his necktie nicely tied
by his mother's hands. His father, he told me, is a fine man,--a giant,
who has trouble in getting through doors, but he is kind, and always
calls his son "hare's face": the son, on the contrary, is rather small.

At four o'clock we lunched on bread and goat's-milk cheese, as we sat on
the sofa; and when we rose, I do not know why, but my father did not
wish me to brush off the back, which the little mason had spotted with
white, from his jacket: he restrained my hand, and then rubbed it off
himself on the sly. While we were playing, the little mason lost a
button from his hunting-jacket, and my mother sewed it on, and he grew
quite red, and began to watch her sew, in perfect amazement and
confusion, holding his breath the while. Then we gave him some albums of
caricatures to look at, and he, without being aware of it himself,
imitated the grimaces of the faces there so well, that even my father
laughed. He was so much pleased when he went away that he forgot to put
on his tattered cap; and when we reached the landing, he made a hare's
face at me once more in sign of his gratitude. His name is Antonio
Rabucco, and he is eight years and eight months old.

     Do you know, my son, why I did not wish you to wipe off the sofa?
     Because to wipe it while your companion was looking on would have
     been almost the same as administering a reproof to him for having
     soiled it. And this was not well, in the first place, because he
     did not do it intentionally, and in the next, because he did it
     with the clothes of his father, who had covered them with plaster
     while at work; and what is contracted while at work is not dirt; it
     is dust, lime, varnish, whatever you like, but it is not dirt.
     Labor does not engender dirt. Never say of a laborer coming from
     his work, "He is filthy." You should say, "He has on his garments
     the signs, the traces, of his toil." Remember this. And you must
     love the little mason, first, because he is your comrade; and next,
     because he is the son of a workingman.



    Friday, 16th.

It is still snow, snow. A shameful thing happened in connection with the
snow this morning when we came out of school. A flock of boys had no
sooner got into the Corso than they began to throw balls of that watery
snow which makes missiles as solid and heavy as stones. Many persons
were passing along the sidewalks. A gentleman called out, "Stop that,
you little rascals!" and just at that moment a sharp cry rose from
another part of the street, and we saw an old man who had lost his hat
and was staggering about, covering his face with his hands, and beside
him a boy who was shouting, "Help! help!"

People instantly ran from all directions. He had been struck in the eye
with a ball. All the boys dispersed, fleeing like arrows. I was standing
in front of the bookseller's shop, into which my father had gone, and I
saw several of my companions approaching at a run, mingling with others
near me, and pretending to be engaged in staring at the windows: there
was Garrone, with his penny roll in his pocket, as usual; Coretti, the
little mason; and Garoffi, the boy with the postage-stamps. In the
meantime a crowd had formed around the old man, and a policeman and
others were running to and fro, threatening and demanding: "Who was it?
Who did it? Was it you? Tell me who did it!" and they looked at the
boys' hands to see whether they were wet with snow.

Garoffi was standing beside me. I perceived that he was trembling all
over, and that his face was as white as that of a corpse. "Who was it?
Who did it?" the crowd continued to cry.

Then I overheard Garrone say in a low voice to Garoffi, "Come, go and
present yourself; it would be cowardly to allow any one else to be

"But I did not do it on purpose," replied Garoffi, trembling like a

"No matter; do your duty," repeated Garrone.

"But I have not the courage."

"Take courage, then; I will accompany you."

And the policeman and the other people were crying more loudly than
ever: "Who was it? Who did it? One of his glasses has been driven into
his eye! He has been blinded! The ruffians!"

I thought that Garoffi would fall to the earth. "Come," said Garrone,
resolutely, "I will defend you;" and grasping him by the arm, he thrust
him forward, supporting him as though he had been a sick man. The people
saw, and instantly understood, and several persons ran up with their
fists raised; but Garrone thrust himself between, crying:--

"Do ten men of you set on one boy?"

Then they ceased, and a policeman seized Garoffi by the hand and led
him, pushing aside the crowd as he went, to a pastry-cook's shop, where
the wounded man had been carried. On catching sight of him, I suddenly
recognized him as the old employee who lives on the fourth floor of our
house with his grandnephew. He was stretched out on a chair, with a
handkerchief over his eyes.

"I did not do it intentionally!" sobbed Garoffi, half dead with terror;
"I did not do it intentionally!"

Two or three persons thrust him violently into the shop, crying, "Your
face to the earth! Beg his pardon!" and they threw him to the ground.
But all at once two vigorous arms set him on his feet again, and a
resolute voice said:--

"No, gentlemen!" It was our head-master, who had seen it all. "Since he
has had the courage to present himself," he added, "no one has the right
to humiliate him." All stood silent. "Ask his forgiveness," said the
head-master to Garoffi. Garoffi, bursting into tears, embraced the old
man's knees, and the latter, having felt for the boy's head with his
hand, caressed his hair. Then all said:--

"Go away, boy! go, return home."

And my father drew me out of the crowd, and said to me as we passed
along the street, "Enrico, would you have had the courage, under similar
circumstances, to do your duty,--to go and confess your fault?"

I told him that I should. And he said, "Give me your word, as a lad of
heart and honor, that you would do it." "I give thee my word, father


    Saturday, 17th.

Garoffi was thoroughly terrified to-day, in the expectation of a severe
punishment from the teacher; but the master did not make his appearance;
and as the assistant was also missing, Signora Cromi, the oldest of the
schoolmistresses, came to teach the school; she has two grown-up
children, and she has taught several women to read and write, who now
come to accompany their sons to the Baretti schoolhouse.

She was sad to-day, because one of her sons is ill. No sooner had they
caught sight of her, than they began to make an uproar. But she said, in
a slow and tranquil tone, "Respect my white hair; I am not only a
school-teacher, I am also a mother"; and then no one dared to speak
again, in spite of that brazen face of Franti, who contented himself
with jeering at her on the sly.

Signora Delcati, my brother's teacher, was sent to take charge of
Signora Cromi's class, and to Signora Delcati's was sent the teacher who
is called "the little nun," because she always dresses in dark colors,
with a black apron, and has a small white face, hair that is always
smooth, very bright eyes, and a delicate voice, that seems to be forever
murmuring prayers. And it is incomprehensible, my mother says; she is so
gentle and timid, with that thread of a voice, which is always even,
which is hardly audible, and she never speaks loud nor flies into a
passion; but, nevertheless, she keeps the boys so quiet that you cannot
hear them, and the most roguish bow their heads when she merely
admonishes them with her finger, and her school seems like a church; and
it is for this reason, also, that she is called "the little nun."

But there is another one who pleases me,--the young mistress of the
first lower, No. 3, that young girl with the rosy face, who has two
pretty dimples in her cheeks, and who wears a large red feather on her
little bonnet, and a small cross of yellow glass on her neck. She is
always cheerful, and keeps her class cheerful; she is always calling out
with that silvery voice of hers, which makes her seem to be singing, and
tapping her little rod on the table, and clapping her hands to impose
silence; then, when they come out of school, she runs after one and
another like a child, to bring them back into line: she pulls up the
cape of one, and buttons the coat of another, so that they may not take
cold; she follows them even into the street, in order that they may not
fall to quarrelling; she beseeches the parents not to whip them at home;
she brings lozenges to those who have coughs; she lends her muff to
those who are cold; and she is continually tormented by the smallest
children, who caress her and demand kisses, and pull at her veil and her
mantle; but she lets them do it, and kisses them all with a smile, and
returns home all rumpled and with her throat all bare, panting and
happy, with her beautiful dimples and her red feather. She is also the
girls' drawing-teacher, and she supports her mother and a brother by her
own labor.


    Sunday, 18th.

The grandnephew of the old employee who was struck in the eye by
Garoffi's snowball is with the schoolmistress who has the red feather:
we saw him to-day in the house of his uncle, who treats him like a son.
I had finished writing out the monthly story for the coming week,--_The
Little Florentine Scribe_,--which the master had given to me to copy;
and my father said to me:--

"Let us go up to the fourth floor, and see how that old gentleman's eye

We entered a room which was almost dark, where the old man was sitting
up in bed, with a great many pillows behind his shoulders; by the
bedside sat his wife, and in one corner his nephew was amusing himself.
The old man's eye was bandaged. He was very glad to see my father; he
made us sit down, and said that he was better, that his eye was not only
not ruined, but that he should be quite well again in a few days.

"It was an accident," he added. "I regret the terror which it must have
caused that poor boy." Then he talked to us about the doctor, whom he
expected every moment to attend him. Just then the door-bell rang.

"There is the doctor," said his wife.

The door opened--and whom did I see? Garoffi, in his long cloak,
standing, with bowed head, on the threshold, and without the courage to

"Who is it?" asked the sick man.

"It is the boy who threw the snowball," said my father. And then the old
man said:--

"Oh, my poor boy! come here; you have come to inquire after the wounded
man, have you not? But he is better; be at ease; he is better and almost
well. Come here."

Garoffi, who did not perceive us in his confusion, approached the bed,
forcing himself not to cry; and the old man caressed him, but could not

"Thanks," said the old man; "go and tell your father and mother that all
is going well, and that they are not to think any more about it."

But Garoffi did not move, and seemed to have something to say which he
dared not utter.

"What have you to say to me? What is it that you want?"


"Well, good by, until we meet again, my boy; go with your heart in

Garoffi went as far as the door; but there he halted, turned to the
nephew, who was following him, and gazed curiously at him. All at once
he pulled some object from beneath his cloak, put it in the boy's hand,
and whispered hastily to him, "It is for you," and away he went like a

The boy carried the object to his uncle; we saw that on it was written,
_I give you this_; we looked inside, and uttered an exclamation of
surprise. It was the famous album, with his collection of
postage-stamps, which poor Garoffi had brought, the collection of which
he was always talking, upon which he had founded so many hopes, and
which had cost him so much trouble; it was his treasure, poor boy! it
was the half of his very blood, which he had presented in exchange for
his pardon.


(_Monthly Story._)

He was in the fourth elementary class. He was a graceful Florentine lad
of twelve, with black hair and a white face, the eldest son of an
employee on the railway, who, having a large family and but small pay,
lived in straitened circumstances. His father loved him and was
tolerably kind and indulgent to him--indulgent in everything except in
that which referred to school: on this point he required a great deal,
and showed himself severe, because his son was obliged to attain such a
rank as would enable him to soon obtain a place and help his family; and
in order to accomplish anything quickly, it was necessary that he should
work a great deal in a very short time. And although the lad studied,
his father was always exhorting him to study more.

His father was advanced in years, and too much toil had aged him before
his time. Nevertheless, in order to provide for the necessities of his
family, in addition to the toil which his occupation imposed upon him,
he obtained special work here and there as a copyist, and passed a good
part of the night at his writing-table. Lately, he had undertaken, in
behalf of a house which published journals and books in parts, to write
upon the parcels the names and addresses of their subscribers, and he
earned three lire[1] for every five hundred of these paper wrappers,
written in large and regular characters. But this work wearied him, and
he often complained of it to his family at dinner.

    [1] Sixty cents.

"My eyes are giving out," he said; "this night work is killing me." One
day his son said to him, "Let me work instead of you, papa; you know
that I can write like you, and fairly well." But the father answered:--

"No, my son, you must study; your school is a much more important thing
than my wrappers; I feel remorse at robbing you of a single hour; I
thank you, but I will not have it; do not mention it to me again."

The son knew that it was useless to insist on such a matter with his
father, and he did not persist; but this is what he did. He knew that
exactly at midnight his father stopped writing, and quitted his workroom
to go to his bedroom; he had heard him several times: as soon as the
twelve strokes of the clock had sounded, he had heard the sound of a
chair drawn back, and the slow step of his father. One night he waited
until the latter was in bed, then dressed himself very, very softly, and
felt his way to the little workroom, lighted the petroleum lamp again,
seated himself at the writing-table, where lay a pile of white wrappers
and the list of addresses, and began to write, imitating exactly his
father's handwriting. And he wrote with a will, gladly, a little in
fear, and the wrappers piled up, and from time to time he dropped the
pen to rub his hands, and then began again with increased alacrity,
listening and smiling. He wrote a hundred and sixty--one lira! Then he
stopped, placed the pen where he had found it, extinguished the light,
and went back to bed on tiptoe.

At noon that day his father sat down to the table in a good humor. He
had perceived nothing. He performed the work mechanically, measuring it
by the hour, and thinking of something else, and only counted the
wrappers he had written on the following day. He seated himself at the
table in a fine humor, and slapping his son on one shoulder, he said to

"Eh, Giulio! Your father is even a better workman than you thought. In
two hours I did a good third more work than usual last night. My hand is
still nimble, and my eyes still do their duty." And Giulio, silent but
content, said to himself, "Poor daddy, besides the money, I am giving
him some satisfaction in the thought that he has grown young again.
Well, courage!"

Encouraged by these good results, when night came and twelve o'clock
struck, he rose once more, and set to work. And this he did for several
nights. And his father noticed nothing; only once, at supper, he uttered
this exclamation, "It is strange how much oil has been used in this
house lately!" This was a shock to Giulio; but the conversation ceased
there, and the nocturnal labor proceeded.

However, by dint of thus breaking his sleep every night, Giulio did not
get sufficient rest: he rose in the morning fatigued, and when he was
doing his school work in the evening, he had difficulty in keeping his
eyes open. One evening, for the first time in his life, he fell asleep
over his copy-book.

"Courage! courage!" cried his father, clapping his hands; "to work!"

He shook himself and set to work again. But the next evening, and on the
days following, the same thing occurred, and worse: he dozed over his
books, he rose later than usual, he studied his lessons in a languid
way, he seemed disgusted with study. His father began to observe him,
then to reflect seriously, and at last to reprove him. He should never
have done it!

"Giulio," he said to him one morning, "you put me quite beside myself;
you are no longer as you used to be. I don't like it. Take care; all the
hopes of your family rest on you. I am dissatisfied; do you understand?"

At this reproof, the first severe one, in truth, which he had ever
received, the boy grew troubled.

"Yes," he said to himself, "it is true; it cannot go on so; this deceit
must come to an end."

But at dinner, on the evening of that very same day, his father said
with much cheerfulness, "Do you know that this month I have earned
thirty-two lire more at addressing those wrappers than last month!" and
so saying, he drew from under the table a paper package of sweets which
he had bought, that he might celebrate with his children this
extraordinary profit, and they all hailed it with clapping of hands.
Then Giulio took heart again, courage again, and said in his heart, "No,
poor papa, I will not cease to deceive you; I will make greater efforts
to work during the day, but I shall continue to work at night for you
and for the rest." And his father added, "Thirty-two lire more! I am
satisfied. But that boy there," pointing at Giulio, "is the one who
displeases me." And Giulio received the reprimand in silence, forcing
back two tears which tried to flow; but at the same time he felt a great
pleasure in his heart.

And he continued to work by main force; but fatigue added to fatigue
rendered it ever more difficult for him to resist. Thus things went on
for two months. The father continued to reproach his son, and to gaze at
him with eyes which grew constantly more wrathful. One day he went to
make inquiries of the teacher, and the teacher said to him: "Yes, he
gets along, he gets along, because he is intelligent; but he no longer
has the good will which he had at first. He is drowsy, he yawns, his
mind is distracted. He writes short compositions, scribbled down in all
haste, in bad chirography. Oh, he could do a great deal, a great deal

That evening the father took the son aside, and spoke to him words which
were graver than any the latter had ever heard. "Giulio, you see how I
toil, how I am wearing out my life, for the family. You do not second my
efforts. You have no heart for me, nor for your brothers, nor for your

"Ah no! don't say that, father!" cried the son, bursting into tears, and
opening his mouth to confess all. But his father interrupted him,

"You are aware of the condition of the family; you know that good will
and sacrifices on the part of all are necessary. I myself, as you see,
have had to double my work. I counted on a gift of a hundred lire from
the railway company this month, and this morning I have learned that I
shall receive nothing!"

At this information, Giulio repressed the confession which was on the
point of escaping from his soul, and repeated resolutely to himself:
"No, papa, I shall tell you nothing; I shall guard my secret for the
sake of being able to work for you; I will recompense you in another way
for the sorrow which I occasion you; I will study enough at school to
win promotion; the important point is to help you to earn our living,
and to relieve you of the fatigue which is killing you."

And so he went on, and two months more passed, of labor by night and
weakness by day, of desperate efforts on the part of the son, and of
bitter reproaches on the part of the father. But the worst of it was,
that the latter grew gradually colder towards the boy, only addressed
him rarely, as though he had been a recreant son, of whom there was
nothing any longer to be expected, and almost avoided meeting his
glance. And Giulio perceived this and suffered from it, and when his
father's back was turned, he threw him a furtive kiss, stretching forth
his face with a sentiment of sad and dutiful tenderness; and between
sorrow and fatigue, he grew thin and pale, and he was constrained to
still further neglect his studies. And he understood well that there
must be an end to it some day, and every evening he said to himself, "I
will not get up to-night"; but when the clock struck twelve, at the
moment when he should have vigorously reaffirmed his resolution, he felt
remorse: it seemed to him, that by remaining in bed he should be failing
in a duty, and robbing his father and the family of a lira. And he rose,
thinking that some night his father would wake up and discover him, or
that he would discover the deception by accident, by counting the
wrappers twice; and then all would come to a natural end, without any
act of his will, which he did not feel the courage to exert. And thus he
went on.

But one evening at dinner his father spoke a word which was decisive so
far as he was concerned. His mother looked at him, and as it seemed to
her that he was more ill and weak than usual, she said to him, "Giulio,
you are ill." And then, turning to his father with anxiety: "Giulio is
ill. See how pale he is Giulio, my dear, how do you feel?"

His father gave a hasty glance, and said: "It is his bad conscience that
produces his bad health. He was not thus when he was a studious scholar
and a loving son."

"But he is ill!" exclaimed the mother.

"I don't care anything about him any longer!" replied the father.

This remark was like a stab in the heart to the poor boy. Ah! he cared
nothing any more. His father, who once trembled at the mere sound of a
cough from him! He no longer loved him; there was no longer any doubt;
he was dead in his father's heart. "Ah, no! my father," said the boy to
himself, his heart oppressed with anguish, "now all is over indeed; I
cannot live without your affection; I must have it all back. I will tell
you all; I will deceive you no longer. I will study as of old, come what
will, if you will only love me once more, my poor father! Oh, this time
I am quite sure of my resolution!"

Nevertheless he rose that night again, by force of habit more than
anything else; and when he was once up, he wanted to go and salute and
see once more, for the last time, in the quiet of the night, that little
chamber where he toiled so much in secret with his heart full of
satisfaction and tenderness. And when he beheld again that little table
with the lamp lighted and those white wrappers on which he was never
more to write those names of towns and persons, which he had come to
know by heart, he was seized with a great sadness, and with an impetuous
movement he grasped the pen to recommence his accustomed toil. But in
reaching out his hand he struck a book, and the book fell. The blood
rushed to his heart. What if his father had waked! Certainly he would
not have discovered him in the commission of a bad deed: he had himself
decided to tell him all, and yet--the sound of that step approaching in
the darkness,--the discovery at that hour, in that silence,--his mother,
who would be awakened and alarmed,--and the thought, which had occurred
to him for the first time, that his father might feel humiliated in his
presence on thus discovering all;--all this terrified him almost. He
bent his ear, with suspended breath. He heard no sound. He laid his ear
to the lock of the door behind him--nothing. The whole house was asleep.
His father had not heard. He recovered his composure, and he set himself
again to his writing, and wrapper was piled on wrapper. He heard the
regular tread of the policeman below in the deserted street; then the
rumble of a carriage which gradually died away; then, after an interval,
the rattle of a file of carts, which passed slowly by; then a profound
silence, broken from time to time by the distant barking of a dog. And
he wrote on and on: and meanwhile his father was behind him. He had
risen on hearing the fall of the book, and had remained waiting for a
long time: the rattle of the carts had drowned the noise of his
footsteps and the creaking of the door-casing; and he was there, with
his white head bent over Giulio's little black head, and he had seen the
pen flying over the wrappers, and in an instant he had divined all,
remembered all, understood all, and a despairing penitence, but at the
same time an immense tenderness, had taken possession of his mind and
had held him nailed to the spot suffocating behind his child. Suddenly
Giulio uttered a piercing shriek: two arms had pressed his head

"Oh, papa, papa! forgive me, forgive me!" he cried, recognizing his
parent by his weeping.

"Do you forgive me!" replied his father, sobbing, and covering his brow
with kisses. "I have understood all, I know all; it is I, it is I who
ask your pardon, my blessed little creature; come, come with me!" and he
pushed or rather carried him to the bedside of his mother, who was
awake, and throwing him into her arms, he said:--

"Kiss this little angel of a son, who has not slept for three months,
but has been toiling for me, while I was saddening his heart, and he was
earning our bread!" The mother pressed him to her breast and held him
there, without the power to speak; at last she said: "Go to sleep at
once, my baby, go to sleep and rest.--Carry him to bed."

The father took him from her arms, carried him to his room, and laid him
in his bed, still breathing hard and caressing him, and arranged his
pillows and coverlets for him.

"Thanks, papa," the child kept repeating; "thanks; but go to bed
yourself now; I am content; go to bed, papa."

But his father wanted to see him fall asleep; so he sat down beside the
bed, took his hand, and said to him, "Sleep, sleep, my little son!" and
Giulio, being weak, fell asleep at last, and slumbered many hours,
enjoying, for the first time in many months, a tranquil sleep, enlivened
by pleasant dreams; and as he opened his eyes, when the sun had already
been shining for a tolerably long time, he first felt, and then saw,
close to his breast, and resting upon the edge of the little bed, the
white head of his father, who had passed the night thus, and who was
still asleep, with his brow against his son's heart.


    Wednesday, 28th.

There is Stardi in my school, who would have the force to do what the
little Florentine did. This morning two events occurred at the school:
Garoffi, wild with delight, because his album had been returned to him,
with the addition of three postage-stamps of the Republic of Guatemala,
which he had been seeking for three months; and Stardi, who took the
second medal; Stardi the next in the class after Derossi! All were
amazed at it. Who could ever have foretold it, when, in October, his
father brought him to school bundled up in that big green coat, and said
to the master, in presence of every one:--

"You must have a great deal of patience with him, because he is very
hard of understanding!"

Every one credited him with a wooden head from the very beginning. But
he said, "I will burst or I will succeed," and he set to work doggedly,
to studying day and night, at home, at school, while walking, with set
teeth and clenched fists, patient as an ox, obstinate as a mule; and
thus, by dint of trampling on every one, disregarding mockery, and
dealing kicks to disturbers, this big thick-head passed in advance of
the rest. He understood not the first thing of arithmetic, he filled his
compositions with absurdities, he never succeeded in retaining a phrase
in his mind; and now he solves problems, writes correctly, and sings his
lessons like a song. And his iron will can be divined from the seeing
how he is made, so very thickset and squat, with a square head and no
neck, with short, thick hands, and coarse voice. He studies even on
scraps of newspaper, and on theatre bills, and every time that he has
ten soldi, he buys a book; he has already collected a little library,
and in a moment of good humor he allowed the promise to slip from his
mouth that he would take me home and show it to me. He speaks to no one,
he plays with no one, he is always on hand, on his bench, with his fists
pressed to his temples, firm as a rock, listening to the teacher. How he
must have toiled, poor Stardi! The master said to him this morning,
although he was impatient and in a bad humor, when he bestowed the

"Bravo, Stardi! he who endures, conquers." But the latter did not appear
in the least puffed up with pride--he did not smile; and no sooner had
he returned to his seat, with the medal, than he planted his fists on
his temples again, and became more motionless and more attentive than
before. But the finest thing happened when he went out of school; for
his father, a blood-letter, as big and squat as himself, with a huge
face and a huge voice, was there waiting for him. He had not expected
this medal, and he was not willing to believe in it, so that it was
necessary for the master to reassure him, and then he began to laugh
heartily, and tapped his son on the back of the neck, saying
energetically, "Bravo! good! my dear pumpkin; you'll do!" and he stared
at him, astonished and smiling. And all the boys around him smiled too,
except Stardi. He was already ruminating the lesson for to-morrow
morning in that huge head of his.


    Saturday, 31st.

     Your comrade Stardi never complains of his teacher; I am sure of
     that. "The master was in a bad temper, was impatient,"--you say it
     in a tone of resentment. Think an instant how often you give way to
     acts of impatience, and towards whom? towards your father and your
     mother, towards whom your impatience is a crime. Your master has
     very good cause to be impatient at times! Reflect that he has been
     laboring for boys these many years, and that if he has found many
     affectionate and noble individuals among them, he has also found
     many ungrateful ones, who have abused his kindness and ignored his
     toils; and that, between you all, you cause him far more bitterness
     than satisfaction. Reflect, that the most holy man on earth, if
     placed in his position, would allow himself to be conquered by
     wrath now and then. And then, if you only knew how often the
     teacher goes to give a lesson to a sick boy, all alone, because he
     is not ill enough to be excused from school and is impatient on
     account of his suffering, and is pained to see that the rest of you
     do not notice it, or abuse it! Respect, love, your master, my son.
     Love him, also, because your father loves and respects him; because
     he consecrates his life to the welfare of so many boys who will
     forget him; love him because he opens and enlightens your
     intelligence and educates your mind; because one of these days,
     when you have become a man, and when neither I nor he shall be in
     the world, his image will often present itself to your mind, side
     by side with mine, and then you will see certain expressions of
     sorrow and fatigue in his honest countenance to which you now pay
     no heed: you will recall them, and they will pain you, even after
     the lapse of thirty years; and you will feel ashamed, you will feel
     sad at not having loved him, at having behaved badly to him. Love
     your master; for he belongs to that vast family of fifty thousand
     elementary instructors, scattered throughout all Italy, who are the
     intellectual fathers of the millions of boys who are growing up
     with you; the laborers, hardly recognized and poorly recompensed,
     who are preparing in our country a people superior to those of the
     present. I am not content with the affection which you have for me,
     if you have it not also for all those who are doing you good, and
     among these, your master stands first, after your parents. Love him
     as you would love a brother of mine; love him when he caresses and
     when he reproves you; when he is just, and when he appears to you
     to be unjust; love him when he is amiable and gracious; and love
     him even more when you see him sad. Love him always. And always
     pronounce with reverence that name of "teacher," which, after that
     of your father, is the noblest, the sweetest name which one man can
     apply to another man.




    Wednesday, 4th.

MY father was right; the master was in a bad humor because he was not
well; for the last three days, in fact, the assistant has been coming in
his stead,--that little man, without a beard, who seems like a youth. A
shameful thing happened this morning. There had been an uproar on the
first and second days, in the school, because the assistant is very
patient and does nothing but say, "Be quiet, be quiet, I beg of you."

But this morning they passed all bounds. Such a noise arose, that his
words were no longer audible, and he admonished and besought; but it was
a mere waste of breath. Twice the head-master appeared at the door and
looked in; but the moment he disappeared the murmur increased as in a
market. It was in vain that Derossi and Garrone turned round and made
signs to their comrades to be good, so that it was a shame. No one paid
any heed to them. Stardi alone remained quiet, with his elbows on the
bench, and his fists to his temples, meditating, perhaps, on his famous
library; and Garoffi, that boy with the hooked nose and the
postage-stamps, who was wholly occupied in making a catalogue of the
subscribers at two centesimi each, for a lottery for a pocket inkstand.
The rest chattered and laughed, pounded on the points of pens fixed in
the benches, and snapped pellets of paper at each other with the
elastics of their garters.

The assistant grasped now one, now another, by the arm, and shook him;
and he placed one of them against the wall--time wasted. He no longer
knew what to do, and he entreated them. "Why do you behave like this? Do
you wish me to punish you by force?" Then he thumped the little table
with his fist, and shouted in a voice of wrath and lamentation,
"Silence! silence! silence!" It was difficult to hear him. But the
uproar continued to increase. Franti threw a paper dart at him, some
uttered cat-calls, others thumped each other on the head; the
hurly-burly was indescribable; when, all of a sudden, the beadle entered
and said:--

"Signor Master, the head-master has sent for you." The master rose and
went out in haste, with a gesture of despair. Then the tumult began more
vigorously than ever. But suddenly Garrone sprang up, his face all
convulsed, and his fists clenched, and shouted in a voice choked with

"Stop this! You are brutes! You take advantage of him because he is
kind. If he were to bruise your bones for you, you would be as abject as
dogs. You are a pack of cowards! The first one of you that jeers at him
again, I shall wait for outside, and I will break his teeth,--I swear
it,--even under the very eyes of his father!"

All became silent. Ah, what a fine thing it was to see Garrone, with his
eyes darting flames! He seemed to be a furious young lion. He stared at
the most daring, one after the other, and all hung their heads. When the
assistant re-entered, with red eyes, not a breath was audible. He stood
in amazement; then, catching sight of Garrone, who was still all fiery
and trembling, he understood it all, and he said to him, with accents of
great affection, as he might have spoken to a brother, "I thank you,


I have been home with Stardi, who lives opposite the schoolhouse; and I
really experienced a feeling of envy at the sight of his library. He is
not at all rich, and he cannot buy many books; but he preserves his
schoolbooks with great care, as well as those which his relatives give
him; and he lays aside every soldo that is given to him, and spends it
at the bookseller's. In this way he has collected a little library; and
when his father perceived that he had this passion, he bought him a
handsome bookcase of walnut wood, with a green curtain, and he has had
most of his volumes bound for him in the colors that he likes. Thus when
he draws a little cord, the green curtain runs aside, and three rows of
books of every color become visible, all ranged in order, and shining,
with gilt titles on their backs,--books of tales, of travels, and of
poetry; and some illustrated ones. And he understands how to combine
colors well: he places the white volumes next to the red ones, the
yellow next the black, the blue beside the white, so that, viewed from a
distance, they make a very fine appearance; and he amuses himself by
varying the combinations. He has made himself a catalogue. He is like a
librarian. He is always standing near his books, dusting them, turning
over the leaves, examining the bindings: it is something to see the care
with which he opens them, with his big, stubby hands, and blows between
the pages: then they seem perfectly new again. I have worn out all of
mine. It is a festival for him to polish off every new book that he
buys, to put it in its place, and to pick it up again to take another
look at it from all sides, and to brood over it as a treasure. He showed
me nothing else for a whole hour. His eyes were troubling him, because
he had read too much. At a certain time his father, who is large and
thickset like himself, with a big head like his, entered the room, and
gave him two or three taps on the nape of the neck, saying with that
huge voice of his:--

"What do you think of him, eh? of this head of bronze? It is a stout
head, that will succeed in anything, I assure you!"

And Stardi half closed his eyes, under these rough caresses, like a big
hunting-dog. I do not know, I did not dare to jest with him; it did not
seem true to me, that he was only a year older than myself; and when he
said to me, "Farewell until we meet again," at the door, with that face
of his that always seems wrathful, I came very near replying to him, "I
salute you, sir," as to a man. I told my father afterwards, at home: "I
don't understand it; Stardi has no natural talent, he has not fine
manners, and his face is almost ridiculous; yet he suggests ideas to
me." And my father answered, "It is because he has character." And I
added, "During the hour that I spent with him he did not utter fifty
words, he did not show me a single plaything, he did not laugh once; yet
I liked to go there."

And my father answered, "That is because you esteem him."


Yes, but I also esteem Precossi; and to say that I esteem him is not
enough,--Precossi, the son of the blacksmith-ironmonger,--that thin
little fellow, who has kind, melancholy eyes and a frightened air; who
is so timid that he says to every one, "Excuse me"; who is always
sickly, and who, nevertheless, studies so much. His father returns home,
intoxicated with brandy, and beats him without the slightest reason in
the world, and flings his books and his copy-books in the air with a
backward turn of his hand; and he comes to school with the black and
blue marks on his face, and sometimes with his face all swollen, and his
eyes inflamed with much weeping. But never, never can he be made to
acknowledge that his father beats him.

"Your father has been beating you," his companions say to him; and he
instantly exclaims, "That is not true! it is not true!" for the sake of
not dishonoring his father.

"You did not burn this leaf," the teacher says to him, showing him his
work, half burned.

"Yes," he replies, in a trembling voice; "I let it fall on the fire."

But we know very well, nevertheless, that his drunken father overturned
the table and the light with a kick, while the boy was doing his work.
He lives in a garret of our house, on another staircase. The portress
tells my mother everything: my sister Silvia heard him screaming from
the terrace one day, when his father had sent him headlong down stairs,
because he had asked for a few soldi to buy a grammar. His father
drinks, but does not work, and his family suffers from hunger. How often
Precossi comes to school with an empty stomach and nibbles in secret at
a roll which Garrone has given him, or at an apple brought to him by the
schoolmistress with the red feather, who was his teacher in the first
lower class. But he never says, "I am hungry; my father does not give me
anything to eat." His father sometimes comes for him, when he chances to
be passing the schoolhouse,--pallid, unsteady on his legs, with a fierce
face, and his hair over his eyes, and his cap awry; and the poor boy
trembles all over when he catches sight of him in the street; but he
immediately runs to meet him, with a smile; and his father does not
appear to see him, but seems to be thinking of something else. Poor
Precossi! He mends his torn copy-books, borrows books to study his
lessons, fastens the fragments of his shirt together with pins; and it
is a pity to see him performing his gymnastics, with those huge shoes in
which he is fairly lost, in those trousers which drag on the ground, and
that jacket which is too long, and those huge sleeves turned back to the
very elbows. And he studies; he does his best; he would be one of the
first, if he were able to work at home in peace. This morning he came to
school with the marks of finger-nails on one cheek, and they all began
to say to him:--

"It is your father, and you cannot deny it this time; it was your father
who did that to you. Tell the head-master about it, and he will have him
called to account for it."

But he sprang up, all flushed, with a voice trembling with

"It's not true! it's not true! My father never beats me!"

But afterwards, during lesson time, his tears fell upon the bench, and
when any one looked at him, he tried to smile, in order that he might
not show it. Poor Precossi! To-morrow Derossi, Coretti, and Nelli are
coming to my house; I want to tell him to come also; and I want to have
him take luncheon with me: I want to treat him to books, and turn the
house upside down to amuse him, and to fill his pockets with fruit, for
the sake of seeing him contented for once, poor Precossi! who is so good
and so courageous.


    Thursday, 12th.

This has been one of the finest Thursdays of the year for me. At two
o'clock, precisely, Derossi and Coretti came to the house, with Nelli,
the hunchback: Precossi was not permitted by his father to come. Derossi
and Coretti were still laughing at their encounter with Crossi, the son
of the vegetable-seller, in the street,--the boy with the useless arm
and the red hair,--who was carrying a huge cabbage for sale, and with
the soldo which he was to receive for the cabbage he was to go and buy a
pen. He was perfectly happy because his father had written from America
that they might expect him any day. Oh, the two beautiful hours that we
passed together! Derossi and Coretti are the two jolliest boys in the
school; my father fell in love with them. Coretti had on his
chocolate-colored tights and his catskin cap. He is a lively imp, who
wants to be always doing something, stirring up something, setting
something in motion. He had already carried on his shoulders half a
cartload of wood, early that morning; nevertheless, he galloped all
over the house, taking note of everything and talking incessantly, as
sprightly and nimble as a squirrel; and passing into the kitchen, he
asked the cook how much we had to pay a myriagramme for wood, because
his father sells it at forty-five centesimi. He is always talking of his
father, of the time when he was a soldier in the 49th regiment, at the
battle of Custoza, where he served in the squadron of Prince Umberto;
and he is so gentle in his manners! It makes no difference that he was
born and brought up surrounded by wood: he has nobility in his blood, in
his heart, as my father says. And Derossi amused us greatly; he knows
geography like a master: he shut his eyes and said:--

"There, I see the whole of Italy; the Apennines, which extend to the
Ionian Sea, the rivers flowing here and there, the white cities, the
gulfs, the blue bays, the green islands;" and he repeated the names
correctly in their order and very rapidly, as though he were reading
them on the map; and at the sight of him standing thus, with his head
held high, with all his golden curls, with his closed eyes, and all
dressed in bright blue with gilt buttons, as straight and handsome as a
statue, we were all filled with admiration. In one hour he had learned
by heart nearly three pages, which he is to recite the day after
to-morrow, for the anniversary of the funeral of King Vittorio. And even
Nelli gazed at him in wonder and affection, as he rubbed the folds of
his apron of black cloth, and smiled with his clear and mournful eyes.
This visit gave me a great deal of pleasure; it left something like
sparks in my mind and my heart. And it pleased me, too, when they went
away, to see poor Nelli between the other two tall, strong fellows, who
carried him home on their arms, and made him laugh as I have never seen
him laugh before. On returning to the dining-room, I perceived that the
picture representing Rigoletto, the hunchbacked jester, was no longer
there. My father had taken it away in order that Nelli might not see it.


    January, 17th.

To-day, at two o'clock, as soon as we entered the schoolroom, the master
called up Derossi, who went and took his place in front of the little
table facing us, and began to recite, in his vibrating tones, gradually
raising his limpid voice, and growing flushed in the face:--

"Four years ago, on this day, at this hour, there arrived in front of
the Pantheon at Rome, the funeral car which bore the body of Vittorio
Emanuele II., the first king of Italy, dead after a reign of twenty-nine
years, during which the great Italian fatherland, broken up into seven
states, and oppressed by strangers and by tyrants, had been brought back
to life in one single state, free and independent; after a reign of
twenty-nine years, which he had made illustrious and beneficent with his
valor, with loyalty, with boldness amid perils, with wisdom amid
triumphs, with constancy amid misfortunes. The funeral car arrived,
laden with wreaths, after having traversed Rome under a rain of flowers,
amid the silence of an immense and sorrowing multitude, which had
assembled from every part of Italy; preceded by a legion of generals and
by a throng of ministers and princes, followed by a retinue of crippled
veterans, by a forest of banners, by the envoys of three hundred towns,
by everything which represents the power and the glory of a people, it
arrived before the august temple where the tomb awaited it. At that
moment twelve cuirassiers removed the coffin from the car. At that
moment Italy bade her last farewell to her dead king, to her old king
whom she had loved so dearly, the last farewell to her soldier, to her
father, to the twenty-nine most fortunate and most blessed years in her
history. It was a grand and solemn moment. The looks, the souls, of all
were quivering at the sight of that coffin and the darkened banners of
the eighty regiments of the army of Italy, borne by eighty officers,
drawn up in line on its passage: for Italy was there in those eighty
tokens, which recalled the thousands of dead, the torrents of blood, our
most sacred glories, our most holy sacrifices, our most tremendous
griefs. The coffin, borne by the cuirassiers, passed, and then the
banners bent forward all together in salute,--the banners of the new
regiments, the old, tattered banners of Goito, of Pastrengo, of Santa
Lucia, of Novara, of the Crimea, of Palestro, of San Martino, of
Castelfidardo; eighty black veils fell, a hundred medals clashed against
the staves, and that sonorous and confused uproar, which stirred the
blood of all, was like the sound of a thousand human voices saying all
together, 'Farewell, good king, gallant king, loyal king! Thou wilt live
in the heart of thy people as long as the sun shall shine over Italy.'

"After this, the banners rose heavenward once more, and King Vittorio
entered into the immortal glory of the tomb."


    Saturday, 21st.

Only one boy was capable of laughing while Derossi was declaiming the
funeral oration of the king, and Franti laughed. I detest that fellow.
He is wicked. When a father comes to the school to reprove his son, he
enjoys it; when any one cries, he laughs. He trembles before Garrone,
and he strikes the little mason because he is small; he torments Crossi
because he has a helpless arm; he ridicules Precossi, whom every one
respects; he even jeers at Robetti, that boy in the second grade who
walks on crutches, through having saved a child. He provokes those who
are weaker than himself, and when it comes to blows, he grows ferocious
and tries to do harm. There is something beneath that low forehead, in
those turbid eyes, which he keeps nearly concealed under the visor of
his small cap of waxed cloth, which inspires a shudder. He fears no one;
he laughs in the master's face; he steals when he gets a chance; he
denies it with an impenetrable countenance; he is always engaged in a
quarrel with some one; he brings big pins to school, to prick his
neighbors with; he tears the buttons from his own jackets and from those
of others, and plays with them: his paper, books, and copy-books are all
crushed, torn, dirty; his ruler is jagged, his pens gnawed, his nails
bitten, his clothes covered with stains and rents which he has got in
his brawls. They say that his mother has fallen ill from the trouble
that he causes her, and that his father has driven him from the house
three times; his mother comes every now and then to make inquiries, and
she always goes away in tears. He hates school, he hates his
companions, he hates the teacher. The master sometimes pretends not to
see his rascalities, and he behaves all the worse. He tried to get a
hold on him by kind treatment, and the boy ridiculed him for it. He said
terrible things to him, and the boy covered his face with his hands, as
though he were crying; but he was laughing. He was suspended from school
for three days, and he returned more perverse and insolent than before.
Derossi said to him one day, "Stop it! don't you see how much the
teacher suffers?" and the other threatened to stick a nail into his
stomach. But this morning, at last, he got himself driven out like a
dog. While the master was giving to Garrone the rough draft of _The
Sardinian Drummer-Boy_, the monthly story for January, to copy, he threw
a petard on the floor, which exploded, making the schoolroom resound as
from a discharge of musketry. The whole class was startled by it. The
master sprang to his feet, and cried:--

"Franti, leave the school!"

The latter retorted, "It wasn't I;" but he laughed. The master


"I won't stir," he answered.

Then the master lost his temper, and flung himself upon him, seized him
by the arms, and tore him from his seat. He resisted, ground his teeth,
and made him carry him out by main force. The master bore him thus,
heavy as he was, to the head-master, and then returned to the schoolroom
alone and seated himself at his little table, with his head clutched in
his hands, gasping, and with an expression of such weariness and trouble
that it was painful to look at him.

"After teaching school for thirty years!" he exclaimed sadly, shaking
his head. No one breathed. His hands were trembling with fury, and the
perpendicular wrinkle that he has in the middle of his forehead was so
deep that it seemed like a wound. Poor master! All felt sorry for him.
Derossi rose and said, "Signor Master, do not grieve. We love you." And
then he grew a little more tranquil, and said, "We will go on with the
lesson, boys."


(_Monthly Story._)

On the first day of the battle of Custoza, on the 24th of July, 1848,
about sixty soldiers, belonging to an infantry regiment of our army, who
had been sent to an elevation to occupy an isolated house, suddenly
found themselves assaulted by two companies of Austrian soldiers, who,
showering them with bullets from various quarters, hardly gave them time
to take refuge in the house and to barricade the doors, after leaving
several dead and wounded on the field. Having barred the doors, our men
ran in haste to the windows of the ground floor and the first story, and
began to fire brisk discharges at their assailants, who, approaching
gradually, ranged in a semicircle, made vigorous reply. The sixty
Italian soldiers were commanded by two non-commissioned officers and a
captain, a tall, dry, austere old man, with white hair and mustache; and
with them there was a Sardinian drummer-boy, a lad of a little over
fourteen, who did not look twelve, small, with an olive-brown
complexion, and two small, deep, sparkling eyes. The captain directed
the defence from a room on the first floor, launching commands that
seemed like pistol-shots, and no sign of emotion was visible on his iron
countenance. The drummer-boy, a little pale, but firm on his legs, had
jumped upon a table, and was holding fast to the wall and stretching out
his neck in order to gaze out of the windows, and athwart the smoke on
the fields he saw the white uniforms of the Austrians, who were slowly
advancing. The house was situated at the summit of a steep declivity,
and on the side of the slope it had but one high window, corresponding
to a chamber in the roof: therefore the Austrians did not threaten the
house from that quarter, and the slope was free; the fire beat only upon
the front and the two ends.

But it was an infernal fire, a hailstorm of leaden bullets, which split
the walls on the outside, ground the tiles to powder, and in the
interior cracked ceilings, furniture, window-frames, and door-frames,
sending splinters of wood flying through the air, and clouds of plaster,
and fragments of kitchen utensils and glass, whizzing, and rebounding,
and breaking everything with a noise like the crushing of a skull. From
time to time one of the soldiers who were firing from the windows fell
crashing back to the floor, and was dragged to one side. Some staggered
from room to room, pressing their hands on their wounds. There was
already one dead body in the kitchen, with its forehead cleft. The
semicircle of the enemy was drawing together.

At a certain point the captain, hitherto impassive, was seen to make a
gesture of uneasiness, and to leave the room with huge strides, followed
by a sergeant. Three minutes later the sergeant returned on a run, and
summoned the drummer-boy, making him a sign to follow. The lad followed
him at a quick pace up the wooden staircase, and entered with him into
a bare garret, where he saw the captain writing with a pencil on a sheet
of paper, as he leaned against the little window; and on the floor at
his feet lay the well-rope.

The captain folded the sheet of paper, and said sharply, as he fixed his
cold gray eyes, before which all the soldiers trembled, on the boy:--


The drummer-boy put his hand to his visor.

The captain said, "You have courage."

The boy's eyes flashed.

"Yes, captain," he replied.

"Look down there," said the captain, pushing him to the window; "on the
plain, near the houses of Villafranca, where there is a gleam of
bayonets. There stand our troops, motionless. You are to take this
billet, tie yourself to the rope, descend from the window, get down that
slope in an instant, make your way across the fields, arrive at our men,
and give the note to the first officer you see. Throw off your belt and

The drummer took off his belt and knapsack and thrust the note into his
breast pocket; the sergeant flung the rope out of the window, and held
one end of it clutched fast in his hands; the captain helped the lad to
clamber out of the small window, with his back turned to the landscape.

"Now look out," he said; "the salvation of this detachment lies in your
courage and in your legs."

"Trust to me, Signor Captain," replied the drummer-boy, as he let
himself down.

"Bend over on the slope," said the captain, grasping the rope, with the

"Never fear."

"God aid you!"

In a few moments the drummer-boy was on the ground; the sergeant drew in
the rope and disappeared; the captain stepped impetuously in front of
the window and saw the boy flying down the slope.

He was already hoping that he had succeeded in escaping unobserved, when
five or six little puffs of powder, which rose from the earth in front
of and behind the lad, warned him that he had been espied by the
Austrians, who were firing down upon him from the top of the elevation:
these little clouds were thrown into the air by the bullets. But the
drummer continued to run at a headlong speed. All at once he fell to the
earth. "He is killed!" roared the captain, biting his fist. But before
he had uttered the word he saw the drummer spring up again. "Ah, only a
fall," he said to himself, and drew a long breath. The drummer, in fact,
set out again at full speed; but he limped. "He has turned his ankle,"
thought the captain. Again several cloudlets of powder smoke rose here
and there about the lad, but ever more distant. He was safe. The captain
uttered an exclamation of triumph. But he continued to follow him with
his eyes, trembling because it was an affair of minutes: if he did not
arrive yonder in the shortest possible time with that billet, which
called for instant succor, either all his soldiers would be killed or he
should be obliged to surrender himself a prisoner with them.

The boy ran rapidly for a space, then relaxed his pace and limped, then
resumed his course, but grew constantly more fatigued, and every little
while he stumbled and paused.

"Perhaps a bullet has grazed him," thought the captain, and he noted all
his movements, quivering with excitement; and he encouraged him, he
spoke to him, as though he could hear him; he measured incessantly, with
a flashing eye, the space intervening between the fleeing boy and that
gleam of arms which he could see in the distance on the plain amid the
fields of grain gilded by the sun. And meanwhile he heard the whistle
and the crash of the bullets in the rooms beneath, the imperious and
angry shouts of the sergeants and the officers, the piercing laments of
the wounded, the ruin of furniture, and the fall of rubbish.

"On! courage!" he shouted, following the far-off drummer with his
glance. "Forward! run! He halts, that cursed boy! Ah, he resumes his

An officer came panting to tell him that the enemy, without slackening
their fire, were flinging out a white flag to hint at a surrender.
"Don't reply to them!" he cried, without detaching his eyes from the
boy, who was already on the plain, but who was no longer running, and
who seemed to be dragging himself along with difficulty.

"Go! run!" said the captain, clenching his teeth and his fists; "let
them kill you; die, you rascal, but go!" Then he uttered a horrible
oath. "Ah, the infamous poltroon! he has sat down!" In fact, the boy,
whose head he had hitherto been able to see projecting above a field of
grain, had disappeared, as though he had fallen; but, after the lapse of
a minute, his head came into sight again; finally, it was lost behind
the hedges, and the captain saw it no more.

Then he descended impetuously; the bullets were coming in a tempest; the
rooms were encumbered with the wounded, some of whom were whirling round
like drunken men, and clutching at the furniture; the walls and floor
were bespattered with blood; corpses lay across the doorways; the
lieutenant had had his arm shattered by a ball; smoke and clouds of dust
enveloped everything.

"Courage!" shouted the captain. "Stand firm at your post! Succor is on
the way! Courage for a little while longer!"

The Austrians had approached still nearer: their contorted faces were
already visible through the smoke, and amid the crash of the firing
their savage and offensive shouts were audible, as they uttered insults,
suggested a surrender, and threatened slaughter. Some soldiers were
terrified, and withdrew from the windows; the sergeants drove them
forward again. But the fire of the defence weakened; discouragement made
its appearance on all faces. It was not possible to protract the
resistance longer. At a given moment the fire of the Austrians
slackened, and a thundering voice shouted, first in German and then in
Italian, "Surrender!"

"No!" howled the captain from a window.

And the firing recommenced more fast and furious on both sides. More
soldiers fell. Already more than one window was without defenders. The
fatal moment was near at hand. The captain shouted through his teeth, in
a strangled voice, "They are not coming! they are not coming!" and
rushed wildly about, twisting his sword about in his convulsively
clenched hand, and resolved to die; when a sergeant descending from the
garret, uttered a piercing shout, "They are coming!" "They are coming!"
repeated the captain, with a cry of joy.

At that cry all, well and wounded, sergeants and officers, rushed to the
windows, and the resistance became fierce once more. A few moments later
a sort of uncertainty was noticeable, and a beginning of disorder among
the foe. Suddenly the captain hastily collected a little troop in the
room on the ground floor, in order to make a sortie with fixed bayonets.
Then he flew up stairs. Scarcely had he arrived there when they heard a
hasty trampling of feet, accompanied by a formidable hurrah, and saw
from the windows the two-pointed hats of the Italian carabineers
advancing through the smoke, a squadron rushing forward at great speed,
and a lightning flash of blades whirling in the air, as they fell on
heads, on shoulders, and on backs. Then the troop darted out of the
door, with bayonets lowered; the enemy wavered, were thrown into
disorder, and turned their backs; the field was left unincumbered, the
house was free, and a little later two battalions of Italian infantry
and two cannons occupied the eminence.

The captain, with the soldiers that remained to him, rejoined his
regiment, went on fighting, and was slightly wounded in the left hand by
a bullet on the rebound, in the final assault with bayonets.

The day ended with the victory on our side.

But on the following day, the conflict having begun again, the Italians
were overpowered by the overwhelming numbers of the Austrians, in spite
of a valorous resistance, and on the morning of the 27th they sadly
retreated towards the Mincio.

The captain, although wounded, made the march on foot with his soldiers,
weary and silent, and, arrived at the close of the day at Goito, on the
Mincio, he immediately sought out his lieutenant, who had been picked up
with his arm shattered, by our ambulance corps, and who must have
arrived before him. He was directed to a church, where the field
hospital had been installed in haste. Thither he betook himself. The
church was full of wounded men, ranged in two lines of beds, and on
mattresses spread on the floor; two doctors and numerous assistants were
going and coming, busily occupied; and suppressed cries and groans were

No sooner had the captain entered than he halted and cast a glance
around, in search of his officer.

At that moment he heard himself called in a weak voice,--"Signor
Captain!" He turned round. It was his drummer-boy. He was lying on a cot
bed, covered to the breast with a coarse window curtain, in red and
white squares, with his arms on the outside, pale and thin, but with
eyes which still sparkled like black gems.

"Are you here?" asked the captain, amazed, but still sharply. "Bravo!
You did your duty."

"I did all that I could," replied the drummer-boy.

"Were you wounded?" said the captain, seeking with his eyes for his
officer in the neighboring beds.

"What could one expect?" said the lad, who gained courage by speaking,
expressing the lofty satisfaction of having been wounded for the first
time, without which he would not have dared to open his mouth in the
presence of this captain; "I had a fine run, all bent over, but suddenly
they caught sight of me. I should have arrived twenty minutes earlier if
they had not hit me. Luckily, I soon came across a captain of the staff,
to whom I gave the note. But it was hard work to get down after that
caress! I was dying of thirst. I was afraid that I should not get there
at all. I wept with rage at the thought that at every moment of delay
another man was setting out yonder for the other world. But enough! I
did what I could. I am content. But, with your permission, captain, you
should look to yourself: you are losing blood."

Several drops of blood had in fact trickled down on the captain's
fingers from his imperfectly bandaged palm.

"Would you like to have me give the bandage a turn, captain? Hold it
here a minute."

The captain held out his left hand, and stretched out his right to help
the lad to loosen the knot and to tie it again; but no sooner had the
boy raised himself from his pillow than he turned pale and was obliged
to support his head once more.

"That will do, that will do," said the captain, looking at him and
withdrawing his bandaged hand, which the other tried to retain. "Attend
to your own affairs, instead of thinking of others, for things that are
not severe may become serious if they are neglected."

The drummer-boy shook his head.

"But you," said the captain, observing him attentively, "must have lost
a great deal of blood to be as weak as this."

"Must have lost a great deal of blood!" replied the boy, with a smile.
"Something else besides blood: look here." And with one movement he drew
aside the coverlet.

The captain started back a pace in horror.

The lad had but one leg. His left leg had been amputated above the knee;
the stump was swathed in blood-stained cloths.

At that moment a small, plump, military surgeon passed, in his
shirt-sleeves. "Ah, captain," he said, rapidly, nodding towards the
drummer, "this is an unfortunate case; there is a leg that might have
been saved if he had not exerted himself in such a crazy manner--that
cursed inflammation! It had to be cut off away up here. Oh, but he's a
brave lad. I can assure you! He never shed a tear, nor uttered a cry!
He was proud of being an Italian boy, while I was performing the
operation, upon my word of honor. He comes of a good race, by Heavens!"
And away he went, on a run.

The captain wrinkled his heavy white brows, gazed fixedly at the
drummer-boy, and spread the coverlet over him again, and slowly, then as
though unconsciously, and still gazing intently at him, he raised his
hand to his head, and lifted his cap.

"Signor Captain!" exclaimed the boy in amazement. "What are you doing,
captain? To me!"

And then that rough soldier, who had never said a gentle word to an
inferior, replied in an indescribably sweet and affectionate voice, "I
am only a captain; you are a hero."

Then he threw himself with wide-spread arms upon the drummer-boy, and
kissed him three times upon the heart.


    Tuesday, 24th.

     Since the tale of the _Drummer-boy_ has touched your heart, it
     should be easy for you this morning to do your composition for
     examination--_Why you love Italy_--well. Why do I love Italy? Do
     not a hundred answers present themselves to you on the instant? I
     love Italy because my mother is an Italian; because the blood that
     flows in my veins is Italian; because the soil in which are buried
     the dead whom my mother mourns and whom my father venerates is
     Italian; because the town in which I was born, the language that I
     speak, the books that educate me,--because my brother, my sister,
     my comrades, the great people among whom I live, and the beautiful
     nature which surrounds me, and all that I see, that I love, that I
     study, that I admire, is Italian. Oh, you cannot feel that
     affection in its entirety! You will feel it when you become a man;
     when, returning from a long journey, after a prolonged absence, you
     step up in the morning to the bulwarks of the vessel and see on the
     distant horizon the lofty blue mountains of your country; you will
     feel it then in the impetuous flood of tenderness which will fill
     your eyes with tears and will wrest a cry from your heart. You will
     feel it in some great and distant city, in that impulse of the soul
     which will impel you from the strange throng towards a workingman
     from whom you have heard in passing a word in your own tongue. You
     will feel it in that sad and proud wrath which will drive the blood
     to your brow when you hear insults to your country from the mouth
     of a stranger. You will feel it in more proud and vigorous measure
     on the day when the menace of a hostile race shall call forth a
     tempest of fire upon your country, and when you shall behold arms
     raging on every side, youths thronging in legions, fathers kissing
     their children and saying, "Courage!" mothers bidding adieu to
     their young sons and crying, "Conquer!" You will feel it like a joy
     divine if you have the good fortune to behold the re-entrance to
     your town of the regiments, weary, ragged, with thinned ranks, yet
     terrible, with the splendor of victory in their eyes, and their
     banners torn by bullets, followed by a vast convoy of brave
     fellows, bearing their bandaged heads and their stumps of arms
     loftily, amid a wild throng, which covers them with flowers, with
     blessings, and with kisses. Then you will comprehend the love of
     country; then you will feel your country, Enrico. It is a grand and
     sacred thing. May I one day see you return in safety from a battle
     fought for her, safe,--you who are my flesh and soul; but if I
     should learn that you have preserved your life because you were
     concealed from death, your father, who welcomes you with a cry of
     joy when you return from school, will receive you with a sob of
     anguish, and I shall never be able to love you again, and I shall
     die with that dagger in my heart.



    Wednesday, 25th.

The boy who wrote the best composition of all on our country was
Derossi, as usual. And Votini, who thought himself sure of the first
medal--I like Votini well enough, although he is rather vain and does
polish himself up a trifle too much,--but it makes me scorn him, now
that I am his neighbor on the bench, to see how envious he is of
Derossi. He would like to vie with him; he studies hard, but he cannot
do it by any possibility, for the other is ten times as strong as he is
on every point; and Votini rails at him. Carlo Nobis envies him also;
but he has so much pride in his body that, purely from pride, he does
not allow it to be perceived. Votini, on the other hand, betrays
himself: he complains of his difficulties at home, and says that the
master is unjust to him; and when Derossi replies so promptly and so
well to questions, as he always does, his face clouds over, he hangs his
head, pretends not to hear, or tries to laugh, but he laughs awkwardly.
And thus every one knows about it, so that when the master praises
Derossi they all turn to look at Votini, who chews his venom, and the
little mason makes a hare's face at him. To-day, for instance, he was
put to the torture. The head-master entered the school and announced the
result of the examination,--"Derossi ten tenths and the first medal."

Votini gave a huge sneeze. The master looked at him: it was not hard to
understand the matter. "Votini," he said, "do not let the serpent of
envy enter your body; it is a serpent which gnaws at the brain and
corrupts the heart."

    [Illustration: "THEN THE TROOP DARTED OUT OF THE DOOR."--Page 97.]

Every one stared at him except Derossi. Votini tried to make some
answer, but could not; he sat there as though turned to stone, and with
a white face. Then, while the master was conducting the lesson, he began
to write in large characters on a sheet of paper, "_I am not envious of
those who gain the first medal through favoritism and injustice._" It
was a note which he meant to send to Derossi. But, in the meantime, I
perceived that Derossi's neighbors were plotting among themselves, and
whispering in each other's ears, and one cut with penknife from paper a
big medal on which they had drawn a black serpent. But Votini did not
notice this. The master went out for a few moments. All at once
Derossi's neighbors rose and left their seats, for the purpose of coming
and solemnly presenting the paper medal to Votini. The whole class was
prepared for a scene. Votini had already begun to quiver all over.
Derossi exclaimed:--

"Give that to me!"

"So much the better," they replied; "you are the one who ought to carry

Derossi took the medal and tore it into bits. At that moment the master
returned, and resumed the lesson. I kept my eye on Votini. He had turned
as red as a coal. He took his sheet of paper very, very quietly, as
though in absence of mind, rolled it into a ball, on the sly, put it
into his mouth, chewed it a little, and then spit it out under the
bench. When school broke up, Votini, who was a little confused, let fall
his blotting-paper, as he passed Derossi. Derossi politely picked it up,
put it in his satchel, and helped him to buckle the straps. Votini dared
not raise his eyes.


    Saturday, 28th.

But Votini is incorrigible. Yesterday morning, during the lesson on
religion, in the presence of the head-master, the teacher asked Derossi
if he knew by heart the two couplets in the reading-book,--

    "Where'er I turn my gaze, 'tis Thee, great God, I see."

Derossi said that he did not, and Votini suddenly exclaimed, "I know
them!" with a smile, as though to pique Derossi. But he was piqued
himself, instead, for he could not recite the poetry, because Franti's
mother suddenly flew into the schoolroom, breathless, with her gray hair
dishevelled and all wet with snow, and pushing before her her son, who
had been suspended from school for a week. What a sad scene we were
doomed to witness! The poor woman flung herself almost on her knees
before the head-master, with clasped hands, and besought him:--

"Oh, Signor Director, do me the favor to put my boy back in school! He
has been at home for three days. I have kept him hidden; but God have
mercy on him, if his father finds out about this affair: he will murder
him! Have pity! I no longer know what to do! I entreat you with my whole

The director tried to lead her out, but she resisted, still continuing
to pray and to weep.

"Oh, if you only knew the trouble that this boy has caused me, you would
have compassion! Do me this favor! I hope that he will reform. I shall
not live long, Signor Director; I bear death within me; but I should
like to see him reformed before my death, because"--and she broke into a
passion of weeping--"he is my son--I love him--I shall die in despair!
Take him back once more, Signor Director, that a misfortune may not
happen in the family! Do it out of pity for a poor woman!" And she
covered her face with her hands and sobbed.

Franti stood impassive, and hung his head. The head-master looked at
him, reflected a little, then said, "Franti, go to your place."

Then the woman removed her hands from her face, quite comforted, and
began to express thanks upon thanks, without giving the director a
chance to speak, and made her way towards the door, wiping her eyes, and
saying hastily: "I beg of you, my son.--May all have patience.--Thanks,
Signor Director; you have performed a deed of mercy.--Be a good
boy.--Good day, boys.--Thanks, Signor Teacher; good by, and forgive a
poor mother." And after bestowing another supplicating glance at her son
from the door, she went away, pulling up the shawl which was trailing
after her, pale, bent, with a head which still trembled, and we heard
her coughing all the way down the stairs. The head-master gazed intently
at Franti, amid the silence of the class, and said to him in accents of
a kind to make him tremble:--

"Franti, you are killing your mother!"

We all turned to look at Franti; and that infamous boy smiled.


    Sunday, 29th.

     Very beautiful, Enrico, was the impetuosity with which you flung
     yourself on your mother's heart on your return from your lesson of
     religion. Yes, your master said grand and consoling things to you.
     God threw you in each other's arms; he will never part you. When I
     die, when your father dies, we shall not speak to each other these
     despairing words, "Mamma, papa, Enrico, I shall never see you
     again!" We shall see each other again in another life, where he who
     has suffered much in this life will receive compensation; where he
     who has loved much on earth will find again the souls whom he has
     loved, in a world without sin, without sorrow, and without death.
     But we must all render ourselves worthy of that other life.
     Reflect, my son. Every good action of yours, every impulse of
     affection for those who love you, every courteous act towards your
     companions, every noble thought of yours, is like a leap towards
     that other world. And every misfortune, also, serves to raise you
     towards that world; every sorrow, for every sorrow is the expiation
     of a sin, every tear blots out a stain. Make it your rule to become
     better and more loving every day than the day before. Say every
     morning, "To-day I will do something for which my conscience will
     praise me, and with which my father will be satisfied; something
     which will render me beloved by such or such a comrade, by my
     teacher, by my brother, or by others." And beseech God to give you
     the strength to put your resolution into practice. "Lord, I wish to
     be good, noble, courageous, gentle, sincere; help me; grant that
     every night, when my mother gives me her last kiss, I may be able
     to say to her, 'You kiss this night a nobler and more worthy boy
     than you kissed last night.'" Keep always in your thoughts that
     other superhuman and blessed Enrico which you may be after this
     life. And pray. You cannot imagine the sweetness that you
     experience,--how much better a mother feels when she sees her child
     with hands clasped in prayer. When I behold you praying, it seems
     impossible to me that there should not be some one there gazing at
     you and listening to you. Then I believe more firmly that there is
     a supreme goodness and an infinite pity; I love you more, I work
     with more ardor, I endure with more force, I forgive with all my
     heart, and I think of death with serenity. O great and good God!
     To hear once more, after death, the voice of my mother, to meet my
     children again, to see my Enrico once more, my Enrico, blessed and
     immortal, and to clasp him in an embrace which shall nevermore be
     loosed, nevermore, nevermore to all eternity! Oh, pray! let us
     pray, let us love each other, let us be good, let us bear this
     celestial hope in our hearts and souls, my adored child!




    Saturday, 4th.

THIS morning the superintendent of the schools, a gentleman with a white
beard, and dressed in black, came to bestow the medals. He entered with
the head-master a little before the close and seated himself beside the
teacher. He questioned a few, then gave the first medal to Derossi, and
before giving the second, he stood for a few moments listening to the
teacher and the head-master, who were talking to him in a low voice. All
were asking themselves, "To whom will he give the second?" The
superintendent said aloud:--

"Pupil Pietro Precossi has merited the second medal this week,--merited
it by his work at home, by his lessons, by his handwriting, by his
conduct in every way." All turned to look at Precossi, and it was
evident that all took pleasure in it. Precossi rose in such confusion
that he did not know where he stood.

"Come here," said the superintendent. Precossi sprang up from his seat
and stepped up to the master's table. The superintendent looked
attentively at that little waxen face, at that puny body enveloped in
turned and ill-fitting garments, at those kind, sad eyes, which avoided
his, but which hinted at a story of suffering; then he said to him, in a
voice full of affection, as he fastened the medal on his shoulder:--

"I give you the medal, Precossi. No one is more worthy to wear it than
you. I bestow it not only on your intelligence and your good will; I
bestow it on your heart, I give it to your courage, to your character of
a brave and good son. Is it not true," he added, turning to the class,
"that he deserves it also on that score?"

"Yes, yes!" all answered, with one voice. Precossi made a movement of
the throat as though he were swallowing something, and cast upon the
benches a very sweet look, which was expressive of immense gratitude.

"Go, my dear boy," said the superintendent; "and may God protect you!"

It was the hour for dismissing the school. Our class got out before the
others. As soon as we were outside the door, whom should we espy there,
in the large hall, just at the entrance? The father of Precossi, the
blacksmith, pallid as was his wont, with fierce face, hair hanging over
his eyes, his cap awry, and unsteady on his legs. The teacher caught
sight of him instantly, and whispered to the superintendent. The latter
sought out Precossi in haste, and taking him by the hand, he led him to
his father. The boy was trembling. The boy and the superintendent
approached; many boys collected around them.

"Is it true that you are the father of this lad?" demanded the
superintendent of the blacksmith, with a cheerful air, as though they
were friends. And, without awaiting a reply:--

"I rejoice with you. Look: he has won the second medal over fifty-four
of his comrades. He has deserved it by his composition, his arithmetic,
everything. He is a boy of great intelligence and good will, who will
accomplish great things; a fine boy, who possesses the affection and
esteem of all. You may feel proud of him, I assure you."

The blacksmith, who had stood there with open mouth listening to him,
stared at the superintendent and the head-master, and then at his son,
who was standing before him with downcast eyes and trembling; and as
though he had remembered and comprehended then, for the first time, all
that he had made the little fellow suffer, and all the goodness, the
heroic constancy, with which the latter had borne it, he displayed in
his countenance a certain stupid wonder, then a sullen remorse, and
finally a sorrowful and impetuous tenderness, and with a rapid gesture
he caught the boy round the head and strained him to his breast. We all
passed before them. I invited him to come to the house on Thursday, with
Garrone and Crossi; others saluted him; one bestowed a caress on him,
another touched his medal, all said something to him; and his father
stared at us in amazement, as he still held his son's head pressed to
his breast, while the boy sobbed.


    Sunday, 5th.

That medal given to Precossi has awakened a remorse in me. I have never
earned one yet! For some time past I have not been studying, and I am
discontented with myself, and the teacher, my father and mother are
discontented with me. I no longer experience the pleasure in amusing
myself that I did formerly, when I worked with a will, and then sprang
up from the table and ran to my games full of mirth, as though I had
not played for a month. Neither do I sit down to the table with my
family with the same contentment as of old. I have always a shadow in my
soul, an inward voice, that says to me continually, "It won't do; it
won't do."

In the evening I see a great many boys pass through the square on their
return from work, in the midst of a group of workingmen, weary but
merry. They step briskly along, impatient to reach their homes and
suppers, and they talk loudly, laughing and slapping each other on the
shoulder with hands blackened with coal, or whitened with plaster; and I
reflect that they have been working since daybreak up to this hour. And
with them are also many others, who are still smaller, who have been
standing all day on the summits of roofs, in front of ovens, among
machines, and in the water, and underground, with nothing to eat but a
little bread; and I feel almost ashamed, I, who in all that time have
accomplished nothing but scribble four small pages, and that
reluctantly. Ah, I am discontented, discontented! I see plainly that my
father is out of humor, and would like to tell me so; but he is sorry,
and he is still waiting. My dear father, who works so hard! all is
yours, all that I see around me in the house, all that I touch, all that
I wear and eat, all that affords me instruction and diversion,--all is
the fruit of your toil, and I do not work; all has cost you thought,
privations, trouble, effort; and I make no effort. Ah, no; this is too
unjust, and causes me too much pain. I will begin this very day; I will
apply myself to my studies, like Stardi, with clenched fists and set
teeth. I will set about it with all the strength of my will and my
heart. I will conquer my drowsiness in the evening, I will come down
promptly in the morning, I will cudgel my brains without ceasing, I
will chastise my laziness without mercy. I will toil, suffer, even to
the extent of making myself ill; but I will put a stop, once for all, to
this languishing and tiresome life, which is degrading me and causing
sorrow to others. Courage! to work! To work with all my soul, and all my
nerves! To work, which will restore to me sweet repose, pleasing games,
cheerful meals! To work, which will give me back again the kindly smile
of my teacher, the blessed kiss of my father!


    Friday, 10th.

Precossi came to our house to-day with Garrone. I do not think that two
sons of princes would have been received with greater delight. This is
the first time that Garrone has been here, because he is rather shy, and
then he is ashamed to show himself because he is so large, and is still
in the third grade. We all went to open the door when they rang. Crossi
did not come, because his father has at last arrived from America, after
an absence of seven years. My mother kissed Precossi at once. My father
introduced Garrone to her, saying:--

"Here he is. This lad is not only a good boy; he is a man of honor and a

And the boy dropped his big, shaggy head, with a sly smile at me.
Precossi had on his medal, and he was happy, because his father has gone
to work again, and has not drunk anything for the last five days, wants
him to be always in the workshop to keep him company, and seems quite
another man.

We began to play, and I brought out all my things. Precossi was
enchanted with my train of cars, with the engine that goes of itself on
being wound up. He had never seen anything of the kind. He devoured the
little red and yellow cars with his eyes. I gave him the key to play
with, and he knelt down to his amusement, and did not raise his head
again. I have never seen him so pleased. He kept saying, "Excuse me,
excuse me," to everything, and motioning to us with his hands, that we
should not stop the engine; and then he picked it up and replaced the
cars with a thousand precautions, as though they had been made of glass.
He was afraid of tarnishing them with his breath, and he polished them
up again, examining them top and bottom, and smiling to himself. We all
stood around him and gazed at him. We looked at that slender neck, those
poor little ears, which I had seen bleeding one day, that jacket with
the sleeves turned up, from which projected two sickly little arms,
which had been upraised to ward off blows from his face. Oh! at that
moment I could have cast all my playthings and all my books at his feet,
I could have torn the last morsel of bread from my lips to give to him,
I could have divested myself of my clothing to clothe him, I could have
flung myself on my knees to kiss his hand. "I will at least give you the
train," I thought; but--was necessary to ask permission of my father. At
that moment I felt a bit of paper thrust into my hand. I looked; it was
written in pencil by my father; it said:

"Your train pleases Precossi. He has no playthings. Does your heart
suggest nothing to you?"

Instantly I seized the engine and the cars in both hands, and placed the
whole in his arms, saying:--

"Take this; it is yours."

He looked at me, and did not understand. "It is yours," I said; "I give
it to you."

Then he looked at my father and mother, in still greater astonishment,
and asked me:--

"But why?"

My father said to him:--

"Enrico gives it to you because he is your friend, because he loves
you--to celebrate your medal."

Precossi asked timidly:--

"I may carry it away--home?"

"Of course!" we all responded. He was already at the door, but he dared
not go out. He was happy! He begged our pardon with a mouth that smiled
and quivered. Garrone helped him to wrap up the train in a handkerchief,
and as he bent over, he made the things with which his pockets were
filled rattle.

"Some day," said Precossi to me, "you shall come to the shop to see my
father at work. I will give you some nails."

My mother put a little bunch of flowers into Garrone's buttonhole, for
him to carry to his mother in her name. Garrone said, "Thanks," in his
big voice, without raising his chin from his breast. But all his kind
and noble soul shone in his eyes.


    Saturday, 11th.

The idea of Carlo Nobis rubbing off his sleeve affectedly, when Precossi
touches him in passing! That fellow is pride incarnate because his
father is a rich man. But Derossi's father is rich too. He would like to
have a bench to himself; he is afraid that the rest will soil it; he
looks down on everybody and always has a scornful smile on his lips: woe
to him who stumbles over his foot, when we go out in files two by two!
For a mere trifle he flings an insulting word in your face, or a threat
to get his father to come to the school. It is true that his father did
give him a good lesson when he called the little son of the charcoal-man
a ragamuffin. I have never seen so disagreeable a schoolboy! No one
speaks to him, no one says good by to him when he goes out; there is not
even a dog who would give him a suggestion when he does not know his
lesson. And he cannot endure any one, and he pretends to despise Derossi
more than all, because he is the head boy; and Garrone, because he is
beloved by all. But Derossi pays no attention to him when he is by; and
when the boys tell Garrone that Nobis has been speaking ill of him, he

"His pride is so senseless that it does not deserve even my passing

But Coretti said to him one day, when he was smiling disdainfully at his
catskin cap:--

"Go to Derossi for a while, and learn how to play the gentleman!"

Yesterday he complained to the master, because the Calabrian touched his
leg with his foot. The master asked the Calabrian:--

"Did you do it intentionally?"--"No, sir," he replied, frankly.--"You
are too petulant, Nobis."

And Nobis retorted, in his airy way, "I shall tell my father about it."
Then the teacher got angry.

"Your father will tell you that you are in the wrong, as he has on other
occasions. And besides that, it is the teacher alone who has the right
to judge and punish in school." Then he added pleasantly:--

"Come, Nobis, change your ways; be kind and courteous to your comrades.
You see, we have here sons of workingmen and of gentlemen, of the rich
and the poor, and all love each other and treat each other like
brothers, as they are. Why do not you do like the rest? It would not
cost you much to make every one like you, and you would be so much
happier yourself, too!--Well, have you no reply to make me?"

Nobis, who had listened to him with his customary scornful smile,
answered coldly:--

"No, sir."

"Sit down," said the master to him. "I am sorry for you. You are a
heartless boy."

This seemed to be the end of it all; but the little mason, who sits on
the front bench, turned his round face towards Nobis, who sits on the
back bench, and made such a fine and ridiculous hare's face at him, that
the whole class burst into a shout of laughter. The master reproved him;
but he was obliged to put his hand over his own mouth to conceal a
smile. And even Nobis laughed, but not in a pleasant way.


    Monday, 15th.

Nobis can be paired off with Franti: neither of them was affected this
morning in the presence of the terrible sight which passed before their
eyes. On coming out of school, I was standing with my father and looking
at some big rogues of the second grade, who had thrown themselves on
their knees and were wiping off the ice with their cloaks and caps, in
order to make slides more quickly, when we saw a crowd of people appear
at the end of the street, walking hurriedly, all serious and seemingly
terrified, and conversing in low tones. In the midst of them were three
policemen, and behind the policemen two men carrying a litter. Boys
hastened up from all quarters. The crowd advanced towards us. On the
litter was stretched a man, pale as a corpse, with his head resting on
one shoulder, and his hair tumbled and stained with blood, for he had
been losing blood through the mouth and ears; and beside the litter
walked a woman with a baby in her arms, who seemed crazy, and who
shrieked from time to time, "He is dead! He is dead! He is dead!"

Behind the woman came a boy who had a portfolio under his arm and who
was sobbing.

"What has happened?" asked my father. A neighbor replied, that the man
was a mason who had fallen from the fourth story while at work. The
bearers of the litter halted for a moment. Many turned away their faces
in horror. I saw the schoolmistress of the red feather supporting my
mistress of the upper first, who was almost in a swoon. At the same
moment I felt a touch on the elbow; it was the little mason, who was
ghastly white and trembling from head to foot. He was certainly thinking
of his father. I was thinking of him, too. I, at least, am at peace in
my mind while I am in school: I know that my father is at home, seated
at his table, far removed from all danger; but how many of my companions
think that their fathers are at work on a very high bridge or close to
the wheels of a machine, and that a movement, a single false step, may
cost them their lives! They are like so many sons of soldiers who have
fathers in the battle. The little mason gazed and gazed, and trembled
more and more, and my father noticed it and said:--

"Go home, my boy; go at once to your father, and you will find him safe
and tranquil; go!"

The little mason went off, turning round at every step. And in the
meanwhile the crowd had begun to move again, and the woman to shriek in
a way that rent the heart, "He is dead! He is dead! He is dead!"

"No, no; he is not dead," people on all sides said to her. But she paid
no heed to them, and tore her hair. Then I heard an indignant voice say,
"You are laughing!" and at the same moment I saw a bearded man staring
in Franti's face. Then the man knocked his cap to the ground with his
stick, saying:--

"Uncover your head, you wicked boy, when a man wounded by labor is
passing by!"

The crowd had already passed, and a long streak of blood was visible in
the middle of the street.


    Friday, 17th.

Ah, this is certainly the strangest event of the whole year! Yesterday
morning my father took me to the suburbs of Moncalieri, to look at a
villa which he thought of hiring for the coming summer, because we shall
not go to Chieri again this year, and it turned out that the person who
had the keys was a teacher who acts as secretary to the owner. He showed
us the house, and then he took us to his own room, where he gave us
something to drink. On his table, among the glasses, there was a wooden
inkstand, of a conical form, carved in a singular manner. Perceiving
that my father was looking at it, the teacher said:--

"That inkstand is very precious to me: if you only knew, sir, the
history of that inkstand!" And he told it.

Years ago he was a teacher at Turin, and all one winter he went to give
lessons to the prisoners in the judicial prison. He gave the lessons in
the chapel of the prison, which is a circular building, and all around
it, on the high, bare walls, are a great many little square windows,
covered with two cross-bars of iron, each one of which corresponds to a
very small cell inside. He gave his lessons as he paced about the dark,
cold chapel, and his scholars stood at the holes, with their copy-books
resting against the gratings, showing nothing in the shadow but wan,
frowning faces, gray and ragged beards, staring eyes of murderers and
thieves. Among the rest there was one, No. 78, who was more attentive
than all the others, and who studied a great deal, and gazed at his
teacher with eyes full of respect and gratitude. He was a young man,
with a black beard, more unfortunate than wicked, a cabinet-maker who,
in a fit of rage, had flung a plane at his master, who had been
persecuting him for some time, and had inflicted a mortal wound on his
head: for this he had been condemned to several years of seclusion. In
three months he had learned to read and write, and he read constantly,
and the more he learned, the better he seemed to become, and the more
remorseful for his crime. One day, at the conclusion of the lesson, he
made a sign to the teacher that he should come near to his little
window, and he announced to him that he was to leave Turin on the
following day, to go and expiate his crime in the prison at Venice; and
as he bade him farewell, he begged in a humble and much moved voice,
that he might be allowed to touch the master's hand. The master offered
him his hand, and he kissed it; then he said:--

"Thanks! thanks!" and disappeared. The master drew back his hand; it was
bathed with tears. After that he did not see the man again.

Six years passed. "I was thinking of anything except that unfortunate
man," said the teacher, "when, the other morning, I saw a stranger come
to the house, a man with a large black beard already sprinkled with
gray, and badly dressed, who said to me: 'Are you the teacher So-and-So,
sir?' 'Who are you?' I asked him. 'I am prisoner No. 78,' he replied;
'you taught me to read and write six years ago; if you recollect, you
gave me your hand at the last lesson; I have now expiated my crime, and
I have come hither--to beg you to do me the favor to accept a memento of
me, a poor little thing which I made in prison. Will you accept it in
memory of me, Signor Master?'

"I stood there speechless. He thought that I did not wish to take it,
and he looked at me as much as to say, 'So six years of suffering are
not sufficient to cleanse my hands!' but with so poignant an expression
of pain did he gaze at me, that I instantly extended my hand and took
the little object. This is it."

We looked attentively at the inkstand: it seemed to have been carved
with the point of a nail, and with, great patience; on its top was
carved a pen lying across a copy-book, and around it was written: "_To
my teacher. A memento of No. 78. Six years!_" And below, in small
letters, "_Study and hope._"

The master said nothing more; we went away. But all the way from
Moncalieri to Turin I could not get that prisoner, standing at his
little window, that farewell to his master, that poor inkstand made in
prison, which told so much, out of my head; and I dreamed of them all
night, and was still thinking of them this morning--far enough from
imagining the surprise which awaited me at school! No sooner had I taken
my new seat, beside Derossi, and written my problem in arithmetic for
the monthly examination, than I told my companion the story of the
prisoner and the inkstand, and how the inkstand was made, with the pen
across the copy-book, and the inscription around it, "Six years!"
Derossi sprang up at these words, and began to look first at me and then
at Crossi, the son of the vegetable-vender, who sat on the bench in
front, with his back turned to us, wholly absorbed on his problem.

"Hush!" he said; then, in a low voice, catching me by the arm, "don't
you know that Crossi spoke to me day before yesterday of having caught a
glimpse; of an inkstand in the hands of his father, who has returned
from America; a conical inkstand, made by hand, with a copy-book and a
pen,--that is the one; six years! He said that his father was in
America; instead of that he was in prison: Crossi was a little boy at
the time of the crime; he does not remember it; his mother has deceived
him; he knows nothing; let not a syllable of this escape!"

I remained speechless, with my eyes fixed on Crossi. Then Derossi solved
his problem, and passed it under the bench to Crossi; he gave him a
sheet of paper; he took out of his hands the monthly story, _Daddy's
Nurse_, which the teacher had given him to copy out, in order that he
might copy it in his stead; he gave him pens, and stroked his shoulder,
and made me promise on my honor that I would say nothing to any one; and
when we left school, he said hastily to me:--

"His father came to get him yesterday; he will be here again this
morning: do as I do."

We emerged into the street; Crossi's father was there, a little to one
side: a man with a black beard sprinkled with gray, badly dressed, with
a colorless and thoughtful face. Derossi shook Crossi's hand, in a way
to attract attention, and said to him in a loud tone, "Farewell until we
meet again, Crossi,"--and passed his hand under his chin. I did the
same. But as he did so, Derossi turned crimson, and so did I; and
Crossi's father gazed attentively at us, with a kindly glance; but
through it shone an expression of uneasiness and suspicion which made
our hearts grow cold.


(_Monthly Story._)

One morning, on a rainy day in March, a lad dressed like a country boy,
all muddy and saturated with water, with a bundle of clothes under his
arm, presented himself to the porter of the great hospital at Naples,
and, presenting a letter, asked for his father. He had a fine oval face,
of a pale brown hue, thoughtful eyes, and two thick lips, always half
open, which displayed extremely white teeth. He came from a village in
the neighborhood of Naples. His father, who had left home a year
previously to seek work in France, had returned to Italy, and had landed
a few days before at Naples, where, having fallen suddenly ill, he had
hardly time to write a line to announce his arrival to his family, and
to say that he was going to the hospital. His wife, in despair at this
news, and unable to leave home because she had a sick child, and a baby
at the breast, had sent her eldest son to Naples, with a few soldi, to
help his father--his _daddy_, as they called him: the boy had walked ten

The porter, after glancing at the letter, called a nurse and told him to
conduct the lad to his father.

"What father?" inquired the nurse.

The boy, trembling with terror, lest he should hear bad news, gave the

The nurse did not recall such a name.

"An old laborer, arrived from abroad?" he asked.

"Yes, a laborer," replied the lad, still more uneasy; "not so very old.
Yes, arrived from abroad."

"When did he enter the hospital?" asked the nurse.

The lad glanced at his letter; "Five days ago, I think."

The nurse stood a while in thought; then, as though suddenly recalling
him; "Ah!" he said, "the furthest bed in the fourth ward."

"Is he very ill? How is he?" inquired the boy, anxiously.

The nurse looked at him, without replying. Then he said, "Come with me."

They ascended two flights of stairs, walked to the end of a long
corridor, and found themselves facing the open door of a large hall,
wherein two rows of beds were arranged. "Come," repeated the nurse,
entering. The boy plucked up his courage, and followed him, casting
terrified glances to right and left, on the pale, emaciated faces of the
sick people, some of whom had their eyes closed, and seemed to be dead,
while others were staring into the air, with their eyes wide open and
fixed, as though frightened. Some were moaning like children. The big
room was dark, the air was impregnated with an acute odor of medicines.
Two sisters of charity were going about with phials in their hands.

Arrived at the extremity of the great room, the nurse halted at the head
of a bed, drew aside the curtains, and said, "Here is your father."

The boy burst into tears, and letting fall his bundle, he dropped his
head on the sick man's shoulder, clasping with one hand the arm which
was lying motionless on the coverlet. The sick man did not move.

The boy rose to his feet, and looked at his father, and broke into a
fresh fit of weeping. Then the sick man gave a long look at him, and
seemed to recognize him; but his lips did not move. Poor daddy, how he
was changed! The son would never have recognized him. His hair had
turned white, his beard had grown, his face was swollen, of a dull red
hue, with the skin tightly drawn and shining; his eyes were diminished
in size, his lips very thick, his whole countenance altered. There was
no longer anything natural about him but his forehead and the arch of
his eyebrows. He breathed with difficulty.

"Daddy! daddy!" said the boy, "it is I; don't you know me? I am Cicillo,
your own Cicillo, who has come from the country: mamma has sent me. Take
a good look at me; don't you know me? Say one word to me."

But the sick man, after having looked attentively at him, closed his

"Daddy! daddy! What is the matter with you? I am your little son--your
own Cicillo."

The sick man made no movement, and continued to breathe painfully.

Then the lad, still weeping, took a chair, seated himself and waited,
without taking his eyes from his father's face. "A doctor will surely
come to pay him a visit," he thought; "he will tell me something." And
he became immersed in sad thoughts, recalling many things about his kind
father, the day of parting, when he said the last good by to him on
board the ship, the hopes which his family had founded on his journey,
the desolation of his mother on the arrival of the letter; and he
thought of death: he beheld his father dead, his mother dressed in
black, the family in misery. And he remained a long time thus. A light
hand touched him on the shoulder, and he started up: it was a nun.

"What is the matter with my father?" he asked her quickly.

"Is he your father?" said the sister gently.

"Yes, he is my father; I have come. What ails him?"

"Courage, my boy," replied the sister; "the doctor will be here soon
now." And she went away without saying anything more.

Half an hour later he heard the sound of a bell, and he saw the doctor
enter at the further end of the hall, accompanied by an assistant; the
sister and a nurse followed him. They began the visit, pausing at every
bed. This time of waiting seemed an eternity to the lad, and his anxiety
increased at every step of the doctor. At length they arrived at the
next bed. The doctor was an old man, tall and stooping, with a grave
face. Before he left the next bed the boy rose to his feet, and when he
approached he began to cry.

The doctor looked at him.

"He is the sick man's son," said the sister; "he arrived this morning
from the country."

The doctor placed one hand on his shoulder; then bent over the sick man,
felt his pulse, touched his forehead, and asked a few questions of the
sister, who replied, "There is nothing new." Then he thought for a while
and said, "Continue the present treatment."

Then the boy plucked up courage, and asked in a tearful voice, "What is
the matter with my father?"

"Take courage, my boy," replied the doctor, laying his hand on his
shoulder once more; "he has erysipelas in his face. It is a serious
case, but there is still hope. Help him. Your presence may do him a
great deal of good."

"But he does not know me!" exclaimed the boy in a tone of affliction.

"He will recognize you--to-morrow perhaps. Let us hope for the best and
keep up our courage."

The boy would have liked to ask some more questions, but he did not
dare. The doctor passed on. And then he began his life of nurse. As he
could do nothing else, he arranged the coverlets of the sick man,
touched his hand every now and then, drove away the flies, bent over him
at every groan, and when the sister brought him something to drink, he
took the glass or the spoon from her hand, and administered it in her
stead. The sick man looked at him occasionally, but he gave no sign of
recognition. However, his glance rested longer on the lad each time,
especially when the latter put his handkerchief to his eyes.

Thus passed the first day. At night the boy slept on two chairs, in a
corner of the ward, and in the morning he resumed his work of mercy.
That day it seemed as though the eyes of the sick man revealed a dawning
of consciousness. At the sound of the boy's caressing voice a vague
expression of gratitude seemed to gleam for an instant in his pupils,
and once he moved his lips a little, as though he wanted to say
something. After each brief nap he seemed, on opening his eyes, to seek
his little nurse. The doctor, who had passed twice, thought he noted a
slight improvement. Towards evening, on putting the cup to his lips, the
lad fancied that he perceived a very faint smile glide across the
swollen lips. Then he began to take comfort and to hope; and with the
hope of being understood, confusedly at least, he talked to him--talked
to him at great length--of his mother, of his little sisters, of his own
return home, and he exhorted him to courage with warm and loving words.
And although he often doubted whether he was heard, he still talked; for
it seemed to him that even if he did not understand him, the sick man
listened with a certain pleasure to his voice,--to that unaccustomed
intonation of affection and sorrow. And in this manner passed the second
day, and the third, and the fourth, with vicissitudes of slight
improvements and unexpected changes for the worse; and the boy was so
absorbed in all his cares, that he hardly nibbled a bit of bread and
cheese twice a day, when the sister brought it to him, and hardly saw
what was going on around him,--the dying patients, the sudden running up
of the sisters at night, the moans and despairing gestures of
visitors,--all those doleful and lugubrious scenes of hospital life,
which on any other occasion would have disconcerted and alarmed him.
Hours, days, passed, and still he was there with his daddy; watchful,
wistful, trembling at every sigh and at every look, agitated incessantly
between a hope which relieved his mind and a discouragement which froze
his heart.

On the fifth day the sick man suddenly grew worse. The doctor, on being
interrogated, shook his head, as much as to say that all was over, and
the boy flung himself on a chair and burst out sobbing. But one thing
comforted him. In spite of the fact that he was worse, the sick man
seemed to be slowly regaining a little intelligence. He stared at the
lad with increasing intentness, and, with an expression which grew in
sweetness, would take his drink and medicine from no one but him, and
made strenuous efforts with his lips with greater frequency, as though
he were trying to pronounce some word; and he did it so plainly
sometimes that his son grasped his arm violently, inspired by a sudden
hope, and said to him in a tone which was almost that of joy, "Courage,
courage, daddy; you will get well, we will go away from here, we will
return home with mamma; courage, for a little while longer!"

It was four o'clock in the afternoon, and just when the boy had
abandoned himself to one of these outbursts of tenderness and hope, when
a sound of footsteps became audible outside the nearest door in the
ward, and then a strong voice uttering two words only,--"Farewell,
sister!"--which made him spring to his feet, with a cry repressed in his

At that moment there entered the ward a man with a thick bandage on his
hand, followed by a sister.

The boy uttered a sharp cry, and stood rooted to the spot.

The man turned round, looked at him for a moment, and uttered a cry in
his turn,--"Cicillo!"--and darted towards him.

The boy fell into his father's arms, choking with emotion.

The sister, the nurse, and the assistant ran up, and stood there in

The boy could not recover his voice.

"Oh, my Cicillo!" exclaimed the father, after bestowing an attentive
look on the sick man, as he kissed the boy repeatedly. "Cicillo, my son,
how is this? They took you to the bedside of another man. And there was
I, in despair at not seeing you after mamma had written, 'I have sent
him.' Poor Cicillo! How many days have you been here? How did this
mistake occur? I have come out of it easily! I have a good constitution,
you know! And how is mamma? And Concettella? And the little baby--how
are they all? I am leaving the hospital now. Come, then. Oh, Lord God!
Who would have thought it!"

The boy tried to interpolate a few words, to tell the news of the
family. "Oh how happy I am!" he stammered. "How happy I am! What
terrible days I have passed!" And he could not finish kissing his

But he did not stir.

"Come," said his father; "we can get home this evening." And he drew the
lad towards him. The boy turned to look at his patient.

"Well, are you coming or not?" his father demanded, in amazement.

The boy cast yet another glance at the sick man, who opened his eyes at
that moment and gazed intently at him.

Then a flood of words poured from his very soul. "No, daddy;
wait--here--I can't. Here is this old man. I have been here for five
days. He gazes at me incessantly. I thought he was you. I love him
dearly. He looks at me; I give him his drink; he wants me always beside
him; he is very ill now. Have patience; I have not the courage--I don't
know--it pains me too much; I will return home to-morrow; let me stay
here a little longer; I don't at all like to leave him. See how he looks
at me! I don't know who he is, but he wants me; he will die alone: let
me stay here, dear daddy!"

"Bravo, little fellow!" exclaimed the attendant.

The father stood in perplexity, staring at the boy; then he looked at
the sick man. "Who is he?" he inquired.

"A countryman, like yourself," replied the attendant, "just arrived from
abroad, and who entered the hospital on the very day that you entered
it. He was out of his senses when they brought him here, and could not
speak. Perhaps he has a family far away, and sons. He probably thinks
that your son is one of his."

The sick man was still looking at the boy.

The father said to Cicillo, "Stay."

"He will not have to stay much longer," murmured the attendant.

"Stay," repeated his father: "you have heart. I will go home
immediately, to relieve mamma's distress. Here is a scudo for your
expenses. Good by, my brave little son, until we meet!"

He embraced him, looked at him intently, kissed him again on the brow,
and went away.

The boy returned to his post at the bedside, and the sick man appeared
consoled. And Cicillo began again to play the nurse, no longer weeping,
but with the same eagerness, the same patience, as before; he again
began to give the man his drink, to arrange his bedclothes, to caress
his hand, to speak softly to him, to exhort him to courage. He attended
him all that day, all that night; he remained beside him all the
following day. But the sick man continued to grow constantly worse; his
face turned a purple color, his breathing grew heavier, his agitation
increased, inarticulate cries escaped his lips, the inflammation became
excessive. On his evening visit, the doctor said that he would not live
through the night. And then Cicillo redoubled his cares, and never took
his eyes from him for a minute. The sick man gazed and gazed at him, and
kept moving his lips from time to time, with great effort, as though he
wanted to say something, and an expression of extraordinary tenderness
passed over his eyes now and then, as they continued to grow smaller and
more dim. And that night the boy watched with him until he saw the first
rays of dawn gleam white through the windows, and the sister appeared.
The sister approached the bed, cast a glance at the patient, and then
went away with rapid steps. A few moments later she reappeared with the
assistant doctor, and with a nurse, who carried a lantern.

"He is at his last gasp," said the doctor.

The boy clasped the sick man's hand. The latter opened his eyes, gazed
at him, and closed them once more.

At that moment the lad fancied that he felt his hand pressed. "He
pressed my hand!" he exclaimed.

The doctor bent over the patient for an instant, then straightened
himself up.

The sister detached a crucifix from the wall.

"He is dead!" cried the boy.

"Go, my son," said the doctor: "your work of mercy is finished. Go, and
may fortune attend you! for you deserve it. God will protect you.

The sister, who had stepped aside for a moment, returned with a little
bunch of violets which she had taken from a glass on the window-sill,
and handed them to the boy, saying:--

"I have nothing else to give you. Take these in memory of the hospital."

"Thanks," returned the boy, taking the bunch of flowers with one hand
and drying his eyes with the other; "but I have such a long distance to
go on foot--I shall spoil them." And separating the violets, he
scattered them over the bed, saying: "I leave them as a memento for my
poor dead man. Thanks, sister! thanks, doctor!" Then, turning to the
dead man, "Farewell--" And while he sought a name to give him, the sweet
name which he had applied to him for five days recurred to his
lips,--"Farewell, poor daddy!"

So saying, he took his little bundle of clothes under his arm, and,
exhausted with fatigue, he walked slowly away. The day was dawning.


    Saturday, 18th.

Precossi came last night to remind me that I was to go and see his
workshop, which is down the street, and this morning when I went out
with my father, I got him to take me there for a moment. As we
approached the shop, Garoffi issued from it on a run, with a package in
his hand, and making his big cloak, with which he covers up his
merchandise, flutter. Ah! now I know where he goes to pilfer iron
filings, which he sells for old papers, that barterer of a Garoffi! When
we arrived in front of the door, we saw Precossi seated on a little
pile of bricks, engaged in studying his lesson, with his book resting on
his knees. He rose quickly and invited us to enter. It was a large
apartment, full of coal-dust, bristling with hammers, pincers, bars, and
old iron of every description; and in one corner burned a fire in a
small furnace, where puffed a pair of bellows worked by a boy. Precossi,
the father, was standing near the anvil, and a young man was holding a
bar of iron in the fire.

"Ah! here he is," said the smith, as soon as he caught sight of us, and
he lifted his cap, "the nice boy who gives away railway trains! He has
come to see me work a little, has he not? I shall be at your service in
a moment." And as he said it, he smiled; and he no longer had the
ferocious face, the malevolent eyes of former days. The young man handed
him a long bar of iron heated red-hot on one end, and the smith placed
it on the anvil. He was making one of those curved bars for the rail of
terrace balustrades. He raised a large hammer and began to beat it,
pushing the heated part now here, now there, between one point of the
anvil and the middle, and turning it about in various ways; and it was a
marvel to see how the iron curved beneath the rapid and accurate blows
of the hammer, and twisted, and gradually assumed the graceful form of a
leaf torn from a flower, like a pipe of dough which he had modelled with
his hands. And meanwhile his son watched us with a certain air of pride,
as much as to say, "See how my father works!"

"Do you see how it is done, little master?" the blacksmith asked me,
when he had finished, holding out the bar, which looked like a bishop's
crosier. Then he laid it aside, and thrust another into the fire.

"That was very well made, indeed," my father said to him. And he added,
"So you are working--eh! You have returned to good habits?"

"Yes, I have returned," replied the workman, wiping away the
perspiration, and reddening a little. "And do you know who has made me
return to them?" My father pretended not to understand. "This brave
boy," said the blacksmith, indicating his son with his finger; "that
brave boy there, who studied and did honor to his father, while his
father rioted, and treated him like a dog. When I saw that medal--Ah!
thou little lad of mine, no bigger than a soldo[1] of cheese, come
hither, that I may take a good look at thy phiz!"

    [1] The twentieth part of a cubit; Florentine measure.

The boy ran to him instantly; the smith took him and set him directly on
the anvil, holding him under the arms, and said to him:--

"Polish off the frontispiece of this big beast of a daddy of yours a

And then Precossi covered his father's black face with kisses, until he
was all black himself.

"That's as it should be," said the smith, and he set him on the ground

"That really is as it should be, Precossi!" exclaimed my father,
delighted. And bidding the smith and his son good day, he led me away.
As I was going out, little Precossi said to me, "Excuse me," and thrust
a little packet of nails into my pocket. I invited him to come and view
the Carnival from my house.

"You gave him your railway train," my father said to me in the street;
"but if it had been made of gold and filled with pearls, it would still
have been but a petty gift to that sainted son, who has reformed his
father's heart."


    Monday, 20th.

The whole city is in a tumult over the Carnival, which is nearing its
close. In every square rise booths of mountebanks and jesters; and we
have under our windows a circus-tent, in which a little Venetian
company, with five horses, is giving a show. The circus is in the centre
of the square; and in one corner there are three very large vans in
which the mountebanks sleep and dress themselves,--three small houses on
wheels, with their tiny windows, and a chimney in each of them, which
smokes continually; and between window and window the baby's
swaddling-bands are stretched. There is one woman who is nursing a
child, who prepares the food, and dances on the tight-rope. Poor people!
The word _mountebank_ is spoken as though it were an insult; but they
earn their living honestly, nevertheless, by amusing all the world--and
how they work! All day long they run back and forth between the
circus-tent and the vans, in tights, in all this cold; they snatch a
mouthful or two in haste, standing, between two performances; and
sometimes, when they get their tent full, a wind arises, wrenches away
the ropes and extinguishes the lights, and then good by to the show!
They are obliged to return the money, and to work the entire night at
repairing their booth. There are two lads who work; and my father
recognized the smallest one as he was traversing the square; and he is
the son of the proprietor, the same one whom we saw perform tricks on
horseback last year in a circus on the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. And he
has grown; he must be eight years old: he is a handsome boy, with a
round and roguish face, with so many black curls that they escape from
his pointed cap. He is dressed up like a harlequin, decked out in a sort
of sack, with sleeves of white, embroidered with black, and his slippers
are of cloth. He is a merry little imp. He charms every one. He does
everything. We see him early in the morning, wrapped in a shawl,
carrying milk to his wooden house; then he goes to get the horses at the
boarding-stable on the Via Bertola. He holds the tiny baby in his arms;
he transports hoops, trestles, rails, ropes; he cleans the vans, lights
the fire, and in his leisure moments he always hangs about his mother.
My father is always watching him from the window, and does nothing but
talk about him and his family, who have the air of nice people, and of
being fond of their children.

One evening we went to the circus: it was cold; there was hardly any one
there; but the little harlequin exerted himself greatly to cheer those
few people: he executed precarious leaps; he caught hold of the horses'
tails; he walked with his legs in the air, all alone; he sang, always
with a smile constantly on his handsome little brown face. And his
father, who had on a red vest and white trousers, with tall boots, and a
whip in his hand, watched him: but it was melancholy. My father took
pity on him, and spoke of him on the following day to Delis the painter,
who came to see us. These poor people were killing themselves with hard
work, and their affairs were going so badly! The little boy pleased him
so much! What could be done for them? The painter had an idea.

"Write a fine article for the _Gazette_," he said: "you know how to
write well: relate the miraculous things which the little harlequin
does, and I will take his portrait for you. Everybody reads the
_Gazette_, and people will flock thither for once."

And thus they did. My father wrote a fine article, full of jests, which
told all that we had observed from the window, and inspired a desire to
see and caress the little artist; and the painter sketched a little
portrait which was graceful and a good likeness, and which was published
on Saturday evening. And behold! at the Sunday performance a great crowd
rushed to the circus. The announcement was made: _Performance for the
Benefit of the Little Harlequin_, as he was styled in the _Gazette_. The
circus was crammed; many of the spectators held the _Gazette_ in their
hands, and showed it to the little harlequin, who laughed and ran from
one to another, perfectly delighted. The proprietor was delighted also.
Just fancy! Not a single newspaper had ever done him such an honor, and
the money-box was filled. My father sat beside me. Among the spectators
we found persons of our acquaintance. Near the entrance for the horses
stood the teacher of gymnastics--the one who has been with Garibaldi;
and opposite us, in the second row, was the little mason, with his
little round face, seated beside his gigantic father; and no sooner did
he catch sight of me than he made a hare's face at me. A little further
on I espied Garoffi, who was counting the spectators, and calculated on
his fingers how much money the company had taken in. On one of the
chairs in the first row, not far from us, there was also poor Robetti,
the boy who saved the child from the omnibus, with his crutches between
his knees, pressed close to the side of his father, the artillery
captain, who kept one hand on his shoulder. The performance began. The
little harlequin accomplished wonders on his horse, on the trapeze, on
the tight-rope; and every time that he jumped down, every one clapped
their hands, and many pulled his curls. Then several others,
rope-dancers, jugglers, and riders, clad in tights, and sparkling with
silver, went through their exercises; but when the boy was not
performing, the audience seemed to grow weary. At a certain point I saw
the teacher of gymnastics, who held his post at the entrance for the
horses, whisper in the ear of the proprietor of the circus, and the
latter instantly glanced around, as though in search of some one. His
glance rested on us. My father perceived it, and understood that the
teacher had revealed that he was the author of the article, and in order
to escape being thanked, he hastily retreated, saying to me:--

"Remain, Enrico; I will wait for you outside."

After exchanging a few words with his father, the little harlequin went
through still another trick: erect upon a galloping horse, he appeared
in four characters--as a pilgrim, a sailor, a soldier, and an acrobat;
and every time that he passed near me, he looked at me. And when he
dismounted, he began to make the tour of the circus, with his
harlequin's cap in his hand, and everybody threw soldi or sugar-plums
into it. I had two soldi ready; but when he got in front of me, instead
of offering his cap, he drew it back, gave me a look and passed on. I
was mortified. Why had he offered me that affront?

The performance came to an end; the proprietor thanked the audience; and
all the people rose also, and thronged to the doors. I was confused by
the crowd, and was on the point of going out, when I felt a touch on my
hand. I turned round: it was the little harlequin, with his tiny brown
face and his black curls, who was smiling at me; he had his hands full
of sugar-plums. Then I understood.

"Will you accept these sugar-plums from the little harlequin?" said he
to me, in his dialect.

I nodded, and took three or four.

"Then," he added, "please accept a kiss also."

"Give me two," I answered; and held up my face to him. He rubbed off his
floury face with his hand, put his arm round my neck, and planted two
kisses on my cheek, saying:--

"There! take one of them to your father."


    Tuesday, 21st.

What a sad scene was that which we witnessed to-day at the procession of
the masks! It ended well; but it might have resulted in a great
misfortune. In the San Carlo Square, all decorated with red, white, and
yellow festoons, a vast multitude had assembled; masks of every hue were
flitting about; cars, gilded and adorned, in the shape of pavilions;
little theatres, barks filled with harlequins and warriors, cooks,
sailors, and shepherdesses; there was such a confusion that one knew not
where to look; a tremendous clash of trumpets, horns, and cymbals
lacerated the ears; and the masks on the chariots drank and sang, as
they apostrophized the people in the streets and at the windows, who
retorted at the top of their lungs, and hurled oranges and sugar-plums
at each other vigorously; and above the chariots and the throng, as far
as the eye could reach, one could see banners fluttering, helmets
gleaming, plumes waving, gigantic pasteboard heads moving, huge
head-dresses, enormous trumpets, fantastic arms, little drums,
castanets, red caps, and bottles;--all the world seemed to have gone
mad. When our carriage entered the square, a magnificent chariot was
driving in front of us, drawn by four horses covered with trappings
embroidered in gold, and all wreathed in artificial roses, upon which
there were fourteen or fifteen gentlemen masquerading as gentlemen at
the court of France, all glittering with silk, with huge white wigs, a
plumed hat, under the arm a small-sword, and a tuft of ribbons and laces
on the breast. They were very gorgeous. They were singing a French
canzonette in concert and throwing sweetmeats to the people, and the
people clapped their hands and shouted. Suddenly, on our left, we saw a
man lift a child of five or six above the heads of the crowd,--a poor
little creature, who wept piteously, and flung her arms about as though
in a fit of convulsions. The man made his way to the gentlemen's
chariot; one of the latter bent down, and the other said aloud:--

"Take this child; she has lost her mother in the crowd; hold her in your
arms; the mother may not be far off, and she will catch sight of her:
there is no other way."

The gentleman took the child in his arms: all the rest stopped singing;
the child screamed and struggled; the gentleman removed his mask; the
chariot continued to move slowly onwards. Meanwhile, as we were
afterwards informed, at the opposite extremity of the square a poor
woman, half crazed with despair, was forcing her way through the crowd,
by dint of shoves and elbowing, and shrieking:--

"Maria! Maria! Maria! I have lost my little daughter! She has been
stolen from me! They have suffocated my child!" And for a quarter of an
hour she raved and expressed her despair in this manner, straying now a
little way in this direction, and then a little way in that, crushed by
the throng through which she strove to force her way.

The gentleman on the car was meanwhile holding the child pressed against
the ribbons and laces on his breast, casting glances over the square,
and trying to calm the poor creature, who covered her face with her
hands, not knowing where she was, and sobbed as though she would break
her heart. The gentleman was touched: it was evident that these screams
went to his soul. All the others offered the child oranges and
sugar-plums; but she repulsed them all, and grew constantly more
convulsed and frightened.

"Find her mother!" shouted the gentleman to the crowd; "seek her
mother!" And every one turned to the right and the left; but the mother
was not to be found. Finally, a few paces from the place where the Via
Roma enters the square, a woman was seen to rush towards the chariot.
Ah, I shall never forget that! She no longer seemed a human creature:
her hair was streaming, her face distorted, her garments torn; she
hurled herself forward with a rattle in her throat,--one knew not
whether to attribute it to either joy, anguish, or rage,--and darted out
her hands like two claws to snatch her child. The chariot halted.

"Here she is," said the gentleman, reaching out the child after kissing
it; and he placed her in her mother's arms, who pressed her to her
breast like a fury. But one of the tiny hands rested a second longer in
the hands of the gentleman; and the latter, pulling off of his right
hand a gold ring set with a large diamond, and slipping it with a rapid
movement upon the finger of the little girl, said:--

"Take this; it shall be your marriage dowry."

The mother stood rooted to the spot, as though enchanted; the crowd
broke into applause; the gentleman put on his mask again, his companions
resumed their song, and the chariot started on again slowly, amid a
tempest of hand-clapping and hurrahs.


    Thursday, 24th.

The master is very ill, and they have sent in his stead the master of
the fourth grade, who has been a teacher in the Institute for the Blind.
He is the oldest of all the instructors, with hair so white that it
looks like a wig made of cotton, and he speaks in a peculiar manner, as
though he were chanting a melancholy song; but he does it well, and he
knows a great deal. No sooner had he entered the schoolroom than,
catching sight of a boy with a bandage on his eye, he approached the
bench, and asked him what was the matter.

"Take care of your eyes, my boy," he said to him. And then Derossi asked

"Is it true, sir, that you have been a teacher of the blind?"

"Yes, for several years," he replied. And Derossi said, in a low tone,
"Tell us something about it."

The master went and seated himself at his table.

Coretti said aloud, "The Institute for the Blind is in the Via Nizza."

"You say blind--blind," said the master, "as you would say poor or ill,
or I know not what. But do you thoroughly comprehend the significance of
that word? Reflect a little. Blind! Never to see anything! Not to be
able to distinguish the day from night; to see neither the sky, nor sun,
nor your parents, nor anything of what is around you, and which you
touch; to be immersed in a perpetual obscurity, and as though buried in
the bowels of the earth! Make a little effort to close your eyes, and to
think of being obliged to remain forever thus; you will suddenly be
overwhelmed by a mental agony, by terror; it will seem to you impossible
to resist, that you must burst into a scream, that you must go mad or
die. But, poor boys! when you enter the Institute of the Blind for the
first time, during their recreation hour, and hear them playing on
violins and flutes in all directions, and talking loudly and laughing,
ascending and descending the stairs at a rapid pace, and wandering
freely through the corridors and dormitories, you would never pronounce
these unfortunates to be the unfortunates that they are. It is necessary
to observe them closely. There are lads of sixteen or eighteen, robust
and cheerful, who bear their blindness with a certain ease, almost with
hardihood; but you understand from a certain proud, resentful expression
of countenance that they must have suffered tremendously before they
became resigned to this misfortune.

"There are others, with sweet and pallid faces, on which a profound
resignation is visible; but they are sad, and one understands that they
must still weep at times in secret. Ah, my sons! reflect that some of
them have lost their sight in a few days, some after years of martyrdom
and many terrible chirurgical operations, and that many were born
so,--born into a night that has no dawn for them, that they entered
into the world as into an immense tomb, and that they do not know what
the human countenance is like. Picture to yourself how they must have
suffered, and how they must still suffer, when they think thus
confusedly of the tremendous difference between themselves and those who
see, and ask themselves, 'Why this difference, if we are not to blame?'

"I who have spent many years among them, when I recall that class, all
those eyes forever sealed, all those pupils without sight and without
life, and then look at the rest of you, it seems impossible to me that
you should not all be happy. Think of it! there are about twenty-six
thousand blind persons in Italy! Twenty-six thousand persons who do not
see the light--do you understand? An army which would employ four hours
in marching past our windows."

The master paused. Not a breath was audible in all the school. Derossi
asked if it were true that the blind have a finer sense of feeling than
the rest of us.

The master said: "It is true. All the other senses are finer in them,
because, since they must replace, among them, that of sight, they are
more and better exercised than they are in the case of those who see. In
the morning, in the dormitory, one asks another, 'Is the sun shining?'
and the one who is the most alert in dressing runs instantly into the
yard, and flourishes his hands in the air, to find out whether there is
any warmth of the sun perceptible, and then he runs to communicate the
good news, 'The sun is shining!' From the voice of a person they obtain
an idea of his height. We judge of a man's soul by his eyes; they, by
his voice. They remember intonations and accents for years. They
perceive if there is more than one person in a room, even if only one
speaks, and the rest remain motionless. They know by their touch whether
a spoon is more or less polished. Little girls distinguish dyed wools
from that which is of the natural color. As they walk two and two along
the streets, they recognize nearly all the shops by their odors, even
those in which we perceive no odor. They spin top, and by listening to
its humming they go straight to it and pick it up without any mistake.
They trundle hoop, play at ninepins, jump the rope, build little houses
of stones, pick violets as though they saw them, make mats and baskets,
weaving together straw of various colors rapidly and well--to such a
degree is their sense of touch skilled. The sense of touch is their
sight. One of their greatest pleasures is to handle, to grasp, to guess
the forms of things by feeling them. It is affecting to see them when
they are taken to the Industrial Museum, where they are allowed to
handle whatever they please, and to observe with what eagerness they
fling themselves on geometrical bodies, on little models of houses, on
instruments; with what joy they feel over and rub and turn everything
about in their hands, in order to see how it is made. They call this

Garoffi interrupted the teacher to inquire if it was true that blind
boys learn to reckon better than others.

The master replied: "It is true. They learn to reckon and to write. They
have books made on purpose for them, with raised characters; they pass
their fingers over these, recognize the letters and pronounce the words.
They read rapidly; and you should see them blush, poor little things,
when they make a mistake. And they write, too, without ink. They write
on a thick and hard sort of paper with a metal bodkin, which makes a
great many little hollows, grouped according to a special alphabet;
these little punctures stand out in relief on the other side of the
paper, so that by turning the paper over and drawing their fingers
across these projections, they can read what they have written, and also
the writing of others; and thus they write compositions: and they write
letters to each other. They write numbers in the same way, and they make
calculations; and they calculate mentally with an incredible facility,
since their minds are not diverted by the sight of surrounding objects,
as ours are. And if you could see how passionately fond they are of
reading, how attentive they are, how well they remember everything, how
they discuss among themselves, even the little ones, of things connected
with history and language, as they sit four or five on the same bench,
without turning to each other, and converse, the first with the third,
the second with the fourth, in a loud voice and all together, without
losing a single word, so acute and prompt is their hearing.

"And they attach more importance to the examinations than you do, I
assure you, and they are fonder of their teachers. They recognize their
teacher by his step and his odor; they perceive whether he is in a good
or bad humor, whether he is well or ill, simply by the sound of a single
word of his. They want the teacher to touch them when he encourages and
praises them, and they feel of his hand and his arms in order to express
their gratitude. And they love each other and are good comrades to each
other. In play time they are always together, according to their wont.
In the girls' school, for instance, they form into groups according to
the instrument on which they play,--violinists, pianists, and
flute-players,--and they never separate. When they have become attached
to any one, it is difficult for them to break it off. They take much
comfort in friendship. They judge correctly among themselves. They have
a clear and profound idea of good and evil. No one grows so enthusiastic
as they over the narration of a generous action, of a grand deed."

Votini inquired if they played well.

"They are ardently fond of music," replied the master. "It is their
delight: music is their life. Little blind children, when they first
enter the Institute, are capable of standing three hours perfectly
motionless, to listen to playing. They learn easily; they play with
fire. When the teacher tells one of them that he has not a talent for
music, he feels very sorrowful, but he sets to studying desperately. Ah!
if you could hear the music there, if you could see them when they are
playing, with their heads thrown back a smile on their lips, their faces
aflame, trembling with emotion, in ecstasies at listening to that
harmony which replies to them in the obscurity which envelops them, you
would feel what a divine consolation is music! And they shout for joy,
they beam with happiness when a teacher says to them, "You will become
an artist." The one who is first in music, who succeeds the best on the
violin or piano, is like a king to them; they love, they venerate him.
If a quarrel arises between two of them, they go to him; if two friends
fall out, it is he who reconciles them. The smallest pupils, whom he
teaches to play, regard him as a father. Then all go to bid him good
night before retiring to bed. And they talk constantly of music. They
are already in bed, late at night, wearied by study and work, and half
asleep, and still they are discussing, in a low tone, operas, masters,
instruments, and orchestras. It is so great a punishment for them to be
deprived of the reading, or lesson in music, it causes them such sorrow
that one hardly ever has the courage to punish them in that way. That
which the light is to our eyes, music is to their hearts."

Derossi asked whether we could not go to see them.

"Yes," replied the teacher; "but you boys must not go there now. You
shall go there later on, when you are in a condition to appreciate the
whole extent of this misfortune, and to feel all the compassion which it
merits. It is a sad sight, my boys. You will sometimes see there boys
seated in front of an open window, enjoying the fresh air, with
immovable countenances, which seem to be gazing at the wide green
expanse and the beautiful blue mountains which you can see; and when you
remember that they see nothing--that they will never see anything--of
that vast loveliness, your soul is oppressed, as though you had
yourselves become blind at that moment. And then there are those who
were born blind, who, as they have never seen the world, do not complain
because they do not possess the image of anything, and who, therefore,
arouse less compassion. But there are lads who have been blind but a few
months, who still recall everything, who thoroughly understand all that
they have lost; and these have, in addition, the grief of feeling their
minds obscured, the dearest images grow a little more dim in their minds
day by day, of feeling the persons whom they have loved the most die out
of their memories. One of these boys said to me one day, with
inexpressible sadness, 'I should like to have my sight again, only for a
moment, in order to see mamma's face once more, for I no longer
remember it!' And when their mothers come to see them, the boys place
their hands on her face; they feel her over thoroughly from brow to
chin, and her ears, to see how they are made, and they can hardly
persuade themselves that they cannot see her, and they call her by name
many times, to beseech her that she will allow them, that she will make
them see her just once. How many, even hard-hearted men, go away in
tears! And when you do go out, your case seems to you to be the
exception, and the power to see people, houses, and the sky a hardly
deserved privilege. Oh! there is not one of you, I am sure, who, on
emerging thence, would not feel disposed to deprive himself of a portion
of his own sight, in order to bestow a gleam at least upon all those
poor children, for whom the sun has no light, for whom a mother has no


    Saturday, 25th.

Yesterday afternoon, on coming out of school, I went to pay a visit to
my sick master. He made himself ill by overworking. Five hours of
teaching a day, then an hour of gymnastics, then two hours more of
evening school, which is equivalent to saying but little sleep, getting
his food by snatches, and working breathlessly from morning till night.
He has ruined his health. That is what my mother says. My mother was
waiting for me at the big door; I came out alone, and on the stairs I
met the teacher with the black beard--Coatti,--the one who frightens
every one and punishes no one. He stared at me with wide-open eyes, and
made his voice like that of a lion, in jest, but without laughing. I
was still laughing when I pulled the bell on the fourth floor; but I
ceased very suddenly when the servant let me into a wretched,
half-lighted room, where my teacher was in bed. He was lying in a little
iron bed. His beard was long. He put one hand to his brow in order to
see better, and exclaimed in his affectionate voice:--

"Oh, Enrico!"

I approached the bed; he laid one hand on my shoulder and said:--

"Good, my boy. You have done well to come and see your poor teacher. I
am reduced to a sad state, as you see, my dear Enrico. And how fares the
school? How are your comrades getting along? All well, eh? Even without
me? You do very well without your old master, do you not?"

I was on the point of saying "no"; he interrupted me.

"Come, come, I know that you do not hate me!" and he heaved a sigh.

I glanced at some photographs fastened to the wall.

"Do you see?" he said to me. "All of them are of boys who gave me their
photographs more than twenty years ago. They were good boys. These are
my souvenirs. When I die, my last glance will be at them; at those
roguish urchins among whom my life has been passed. You will give me
your portrait, also, will you not, when you have finished the elementary
course?" Then he took an orange from his nightstand, and put it in my

"I have nothing else to give you," he said; "it is the gift of a sick

I looked at it, and my heart was sad; I know not why.

"Attend to me," he began again. "I hope to get over this; but if I
should not recover, see that you strengthen yourself in arithmetic,
which is your weak point; make an effort. It is merely a question of a
first effort: because sometimes there is no lack of aptitude; there is
merely an absence of a fixed purpose--of stability, as it is called."

But in the meantime he was breathing hard; and it was evident that he
was suffering.

"I am feverish," he sighed; "I am half gone; I beseech you, therefore,
apply yourself to arithmetic, to problems. If you don't succeed at
first, rest a little and begin afresh. And press forward, but quietly
without fagging yourself, without straining your mind. Go! My respects
to your mamma. And do not mount these stairs again. We shall see each
other again in school. And if we do not, you must now and then call to
mind your master of the third grade, who was fond of you."

I felt inclined to cry at these words.

"Bend down your head," he said to me.

I bent my head to his pillow; he kissed my hair. Then he said to me,
"Go!" and turned his face towards the wall. And I flew down the stairs;
for I longed to embrace my mother.


    Saturday, 25th.

     I was watching you from the window this afternoon, when you were on
     your way home from the master's; you came in collision with a
     woman. Take more heed to your manner of walking in the street.
     There are duties to be fulfilled even there. If you keep your steps
     and gestures within bounds in a private house, why should you not
     do the same in the street, which is everybody's house. Remember
     this, Enrico. Every time that you meet a feeble old man, a poor
     person, a woman with a child in her arms, a cripple with his
     crutches, a man bending beneath a burden, a family dressed in
     mourning, make way for them respectfully. We must respect age,
     misery, maternal love, infirmity, labor, death. Whenever you see a
     person on the point of being run down by a vehicle, drag him away,
     if it is a child; warn him, if he is a man; always ask what ails
     the child who is crying all alone; pick up the aged man's cane,
     when he lets it fall. If two boys are fighting, separate them; if
     it is two men, go away: do not look on a scene of brutal violence,
     which offends and hardens the heart. And when a man passes, bound,
     and walking between a couple of policemen, do not add your
     curiosity to the cruel curiosity of the crowd; he may be innocent.
     Cease to talk with your companion, and to smile, when you meet a
     hospital litter, which is, perhaps, bearing a dying person, or a
     funeral procession; for one may issue from your own home on the
     morrow. Look with reverence upon all boys from the asylums, who
     walk two and two,--the blind, the dumb, those afflicted with the
     rickets, orphans, abandoned children; reflect that it is misfortune
     and human charity which is passing by. Always pretend not to notice
     any one who has a repulsive or laughter-provoking deformity. Always
     extinguish every match that you find in your path; for it may cost
     some one his life. Always answer a passer-by who asks you the way,
     with politeness. Do not look at any one and laugh; do not run
     without necessity; do not shout. Respect the street. The education
     of a people is judged first of all by their behavior on the street.
     Where you find offences in the streets, there you will find
     offences in the houses. And study the streets; study the city in
     which you live. If you were to be hurled far away from it
     to-morrow, you would be glad to have it clearly present in your
     memory, to be able to traverse it all again in memory. Your own
     city, and your little country--that which has been for so many
     years your world; where you took your first steps at your mother's
     side; where you experienced your first emotions, opened your mind
     to its first ideas; found your first friends. It has been a mother
     to you: it has taught you, loved you, protected you. Study it in
     its streets and in its people, and love it; and when you hear it
     insulted, defend it.




    Thursday, 2d.

LAST night my father took me to see the evening schools in our Baretti
schoolhouse, which were all lighted up already, and where the workingmen
were already beginning to enter. On our arrival we found the head-master
and the other masters in a great rage, because a little while before the
glass in one window had been broken by a stone. The beadle had darted
forth and seized a boy by the hair, who was passing; but thereupon,
Stardi, who lives in the house opposite, had presented himself, and

"This is not the right one; I saw it with my own eyes; it was Franti who
threw it; and he said to me, 'Woe to you if you tell of me!' but I am
not afraid."

Then the head-master declared that Franti should be expelled for good.
In the meantime I was watching the workingmen enter by twos and threes;
and more than two hundred had already entered. I have never seen
anything so fine as the evening school. There were boys of twelve and
upwards; bearded men who were on their way from their work, carrying
their books and copy-books; there were carpenters, engineers with black
faces, masons with hands white with plaster, bakers' boys with their
hair full of flour; and there was perceptible the odor of varnish,
hides, fish, oil,--odors of all the various trades. There also entered a
squad of artillery workmen, dressed like soldiers and headed by a
corporal. They all filed briskly to their benches, removed the board
underneath, on which we put our feet, and immediately bent their heads
over their work.

Some stepped up to the teachers to ask explanations, with their open
copy-books in their hands. I caught sight of that young and well-dressed
master "the little lawyer," who had three or four workingmen clustered
round his table, and was making corrections with his pen; and also the
lame one, who was laughing with a dyer who had brought him a copy-book
all adorned with red and blue dyes. My master, who had recovered, and
who will return to school to-morrow, was there also. The doors of the
schoolroom were open. I was amazed, when the lessons began, to see how
attentive they all were, and how they kept their eyes fixed on their
work. Yet the greater part of them, so the head-master said, for fear of
being late, had not even been home to eat a mouthful of supper, and they
were hungry.

But the younger ones, after half an hour of school, were falling off the
benches with sleep; one even went fast asleep with his head on the
bench, and the master waked him up by poking his ear with a pen. But the
grown-up men did nothing of the sort; they kept awake, and listened,
with their mouths wide open, to the lesson, without even winking; and it
made a deep impression on me to see all those bearded men on our
benches. We also ascended to the story floor above, and I ran to the
door of my schoolroom and saw in my seat a man with a big mustache and a
bandaged hand, who might have injured himself while at work about some
machine; but he was trying to write, though very, very slowly.

But what pleased me most was to behold in the seat of the little mason,
on the very same bench and in the very same corner, his father, the
mason, as huge as a giant, who sat there all coiled up into a narrow
space, with his chin on his fists and his eyes on his book, so absorbed
that he hardly breathed. And there was no chance about it, for it was he
himself who said to the head-master the first evening he came to the

"Signor Director, do me the favor to place me in the seat of 'my hare's
face.'" For he always calls his son so.

My father kept me there until the end, and in the street we saw many
women with children in their arms, waiting for their husbands; and at
the entrance a change was effected: the husbands took the children in
their arms, and the women made them surrender their books and
copy-books; and in this wise they proceeded to their homes. For several
minutes the street was filled with people and with noise. Then all grew
silent, and all we could see was the tall and weary form of the
head-master disappearing in the distance.


    Sunday, 5th.

It was what might have been expected. Franti, on being expelled by the
head-master, wanted to revenge himself on Stardi, and he waited for
Stardi at a corner, when he came out of school, and when the latter was
passing with his sister, whom he escorts every day from an institution
in the Via Dora Grossa. My sister Silvia, on emerging from her
schoolhouse, witnessed the whole affair, and came home thoroughly
terrified. This is what took place. Franti, with his cap of waxed cloth
canted over one ear, ran up on tiptoe behind Stardi, and in order to
provoke him, gave a tug at his sister's braid of hair,--a tug so violent
that it almost threw the girl flat on her back on the ground. The little
girl uttered a cry; her brother whirled round; Franti, who is much
taller and stronger than Stardi, thought:--

"He'll not utter a word, or I'll break his skin for him!"

But Stardi never paused to reflect, and small and ill-made as he is, he
flung himself with one bound on that big fellow, and began to belabor
him with his fists. He could not hold his own, however, and he got more
than he gave. There was no one in the street but girls, so there was no
one who could separate them. Franti flung him on the ground; but the
other instantly got up, and then down he went on his back again, and
Franti pounded away as though upon a door: in an instant he had torn
away half an ear, and bruised one eye, and drawn blood from the other's
nose. But Stardi was tenacious; he roared:--

"You may kill me, but I'll make you pay for it!" And down went Franti,
kicking and cuffing, and Stardi under him, butting and lungeing out with
his heels. A woman shrieked from a window, "Good for the little one!"
Others said, "It is a boy defending his sister; courage! give it to him
well!" And they screamed at Franti, "You overbearing brute! you coward!"
But Franti had grown ferocious; he held out his leg; Stardi tripped and
fell, and Franti on top of him.

"Surrender!"--"No!"--"Surrender!"--"No!" and in a flash Stardi recovered
his feet, clasped Franti by the body, and, with one furious effort,
hurled him on the pavement, and fell upon him with one knee on his

"Ah, the infamous fellow! he has a knife!" shouted a man, rushing up to
disarm Franti.

But Stardi, beside himself with rage, had already grasped Franti's arm
with both hands, and bestowed on the fist such a bite that the knife
fell from it, and the hand began to bleed. More people had run up in the
meantime, who separated them and set them on their feet. Franti took to
his heels in a sorry plight, and Stardi stood still, with his face all
scratched, and a black eye,--but triumphant,--beside his weeping sister,
while some of the girls collected the books and copy-books which were
strewn over the street.

"Bravo, little fellow!" said the bystanders; "he defended his sister!"

But Stardi, who was thinking more of his satchel than of his victory,
instantly set to examining the books and copy-books, one by one, to see
whether anything was missing or injured. He rubbed them off with his
sleeve, scrutinized his pen, put everything back in its place, and then,
tranquil and serious as usual, he said to his sister, "Let us go home
quickly, for I have a problem to solve."


    Monday, 6th.

This morning big Stardi, the father, came to wait for his son, fearing
lest he should again encounter Franti. But they say that Franti will not
be seen again, because he will be put in the penitentiary.

There were a great many parents there this morning. Among the rest there
was the retail wood-dealer, the father of Coretti, the perfect image of
his son, slender, brisk, with his mustache brought to a point, and a
ribbon of two colors in the button-hole of his jacket. I know nearly all
the parents of the boys, through constantly seeing them there. There is
one crooked grandmother, with her white cap, who comes four times a day,
whether it rains or snows or storms, to accompany and to get her little
grandson, of the upper primary; and she takes off his little cloak and
puts it on for him, adjusts his necktie, brushes off the dust, polishes
him up, and takes care of the copy-books. It is evident that she has no
other thought, that she sees nothing in the world more beautiful. The
captain of artillery also comes frequently, the father of Robetti, the
lad with the crutches, who saved a child from the omnibus, and as all
his son's companions bestow a caress on him in passing, he returns a
caress or a salute to every one, and he never forgets any one; he bends
over all, and the poorer and more badly dressed they are, the more
pleased he seems to be, and he thanks them.

At times, however, sad sights are to be seen. A gentleman who had not
come for a month because one of his sons had died, and who had sent a
maidservant for the other, on returning yesterday and beholding the
class, the comrades of his little dead boy, retired into a corner and
burst into sobs, with both hands before his face, and the head-master
took him by the arm and led him to his office.

There are fathers and mothers who know all their sons' companions by
name. There are girls from the neighboring schoolhouse, and scholars in
the gymnasium, who come to wait for their brothers. There is one old
gentleman who was a colonel formerly, and who, when a boy drops a
copy-book or a pen, picks it up for him. There are also to be seen
well-dressed men, who discuss school matters with others, who have
kerchiefs on their heads, and baskets on their arm, and who say:--

"Oh! the problem has been a difficult one this time."--"That grammar
lesson will never come to an end this morning!"

And when there is a sick boy in the class, they all know it; when a sick
boy is convalescent, they all rejoice. And this morning there were eight
or ten gentlemen and workingmen standing around Crossi's mother, the
vegetable-vender, making inquiries about a poor baby in my brother's
class, who lives in her court, and who is in danger of his life. The
school seems to make them all equals and friends.


    Wednesday, 8th.

I witnessed a touching scene yesterday afternoon. For several days,
every time that the vegetable-vender has passed Derossi she has gazed
and gazed at him with an expression of great affection; for Derossi,
since he made the discovery about that inkstand and prisoner Number 78,
has acquired a love for her son, Crossi, the red-haired boy with the
useless arm; and he helps him to do his work in school, suggests answers
to him, gives him paper, pens, and pencils; in short, he behaves to him
like a brother, as though to compensate him for his father's misfortune,
which has affected him, although he does not know it.

The vegetable-vender had been gazing at Derossi for several days, and
she seemed loath to take her eyes from him, for she is a good woman who
lives only for her son; and Derossi, who assists him and makes him
appear well, Derossi, who is a gentleman and the head of the school,
seems to her a king, a saint. She continued to stare at him, and seemed
desirous of saying something to him, yet ashamed to do it. But at last,
yesterday morning, she took courage, stopped him in front of a gate, and
said to him:--

"I beg a thousand pardons, little master! Will you, who are so kind to
my son, and so fond of him, do me the favor to accept this little
memento from a poor mother?" and she pulled out of her vegetable-basket
a little pasteboard box of white and gold.

Derossi flushed up all over, and refused, saying with decision:--

"Give it to your son; I will accept nothing."

The woman was mortified, and stammered an excuse:--

"I had no idea of offending you. It is only caramels."

But Derossi said "no," again, and shook his head. Then she timidly
lifted from her basket a bunch of radishes, and said:--

"Accept these at least,--they are fresh,--and carry them to your mamma."

Derossi smiled, and said:--

"No, thanks: I don't want anything; I shall always do all that I can for
Crossi, but I cannot accept anything. I thank you all the same."

"But you are not at all offended?" asked the woman, anxiously.

Derossi said "No, no!" smiled, and went off, while she exclaimed, in
great delight:--

"Oh, what a good boy! I have never seen so fine and handsome a boy as

And that appeared to be the end of it. But in the afternoon, at four
o'clock, instead of Crossi's mother, his father approached, with that
gaunt and melancholy face of his. He stopped Derossi, and from the way
in which he looked at the latter I instantly understood that he
suspected Derossi of knowing his secret. He looked at him intently, and
said in his sorrowful, affectionate voice:--

"You are fond of my son. Why do you like him so much?"

Derossi's face turned the color of fire. He would have liked to say: "I
am fond of him because he has been unfortunate; because you, his father,
have been more unfortunate than guilty, and have nobly expiated your
crime, and are a man of heart." But he had not the courage to say it,
for at bottom he still felt fear and almost loathing in the presence of
this man who had shed another's blood, and had been six years in prison.
But the latter divined it all, and lowering his voice, he said in
Derossi's ear, almost trembling the while:--

"You love the son; but you do not hate, do not wholly despise the
father, do you?"

"Ah, no, no! Quite the reverse!" exclaimed Derossi, with a soulful
impulse. And then the man made an impetuous movement, as though to throw
one arm round his neck; but he dared not, and instead he took one of the
lad's golden curls between two of his fingers, smoothed it out, and
released it; then he placed his hand on his mouth and kissed his palm,
gazing at Derossi with moist eyes, as though to say that this kiss was
for him. Then he took his son by the hand, and went away at a rapid


    Monday, 13th.

The little boy who lived in the vegetable-vender's court, the one who
belonged to the upper primary, and was the companion of my brother, is
dead. Schoolmistress Delcati came in great affliction, on Saturday
afternoon, to inform the master of it; and instantly Garrone and Coretti
volunteered to carry the coffin. He was a fine little lad. He had won
the medal last week. He was fond of my brother, and he had presented him
with a broken money-box. My mother always caressed him when she met him.
He wore a cap with two stripes of red cloth. His father is a porter on
the railway. Yesterday (Sunday) afternoon, at half-past four o'clock, we
went to his house, to accompany him to the church.

They live on the ground floor. Many boys of the upper primary, with
their mothers, all holding candles, and five or six teachers and several
neighbors were already collected in the courtyard. The mistress with the
red feather and Signora Delcati had gone inside, and through an open
window we beheld them weeping. We could hear the mother of the child
sobbing loudly. Two ladies, mothers of two school companions of the dead
child, had brought two garlands of flowers.

Exactly at five o'clock we set out. In front went a boy carrying a
cross, then a priest, then the coffin,--a very, very small coffin, poor
child!--covered with a black cloth, and round it were wound the garlands
of flowers brought by the two ladies. On the black cloth, on one side,
were fastened the medal and honorable mentions which the little boy had
won in the course of the year. Garrone, Coretti, and two boys from the
courtyard bore the coffin. Behind the coffin, first came Signora
Delcati, who wept as though the little dead boy were her own; behind her
the other schoolmistresses; and behind the mistresses, the boys, among
whom were some very little ones, who carried bunches of violets in one
hand, and who stared in amazement at the bier, while their other hand
was held by their mothers, who carried candles. I heard one of them say,
"And shall I not see him at school again?"

When the coffin emerged from the court, a despairing cry was heard from
the window. It was the child's mother; but they made her draw back into
the room immediately. On arriving in the street, we met the boys from a
college, who were passing in double file, and on catching sight of the
coffin with the medal and the schoolmistresses, they all pulled off
their hats.

Poor little boy! he went to sleep forever with his medal. We shall never
see his red cap again. He was in perfect health; in four days he was
dead. On the last day he made an effort to rise and do his little task
in nomenclature, and he insisted on keeping his medal on his bed for
fear it would be taken from him. No one will ever take it from you
again, poor boy! Farewell, farewell! We shall always remember thee at
the Baretti School! Sleep in peace, dear little boy!


To-day has been more cheerful than yesterday. The thirteenth of March!
The eve of the distribution of prizes at the Theatre Vittorio Emanuele,
the greatest and most beautiful festival of the whole year! But this
time the boys who are to go upon the stage and present the certificates
of the prizes to the gentlemen who are to bestow them are not to be
taken at haphazard. The head-master came in this morning, at the close
of school, and said:--

"Good news, boys!" Then he called, "Coraci!" the Calabrian. The
Calabrian rose. "Would you like to be one of those to carry the
certificates of the prizes to the authorities in the theatre to-morrow?"
The Calabrian answered that he should.

"That is well," said the head-master; "then there will also be a
representative of Calabria there; and that will be a fine thing. The
municipal authorities are desirous that this year the ten or twelve lads
who hand the prizes should be from all parts of Italy, and selected from
all the public school buildings. We have twenty buildings, with five
annexes--seven thousand pupils. Among such a multitude there has been no
difficulty in finding one boy for each region of Italy. Two
representatives of the Islands were found in the Torquato Tasso
schoolhouse, a Sardinian, and a Sicilian; the Boncompagni School
furnished a little Florentine, the son of a wood-carver; there is a
Roman, a native of Rome, in the Tommaseo building; several Venetians,
Lombards, and natives of Romagna have been found; the Monviso School
gives us a Neapolitan, the son of an officer; we furnish a Genoese and a
Calabrian,--you, Coraci,--with the Piemontese: that will make twelve.
Does not this strike you as nice? It will be your brothers from all
quarters of Italy who will give you your prizes. Look out! the whole
twelve will appear on the stage together. Receive them with hearty
applause. They are only boys, but they represent the country just as
though they were men. A small tricolored flag is the symbol of Italy as
much as a huge banner, is it not?

"Applaud them warmly, then. Let it be seen that your little hearts are
all aglow, that your souls of ten years grow enthusiastic in the
presence of the sacred image of your fatherland."

Having spoken thus, he went away, and the master said, with a smile,
"So, Coraci, you are to be the deputy from Calabria."

And then all clapped their hands and laughed; and when we got into the
street, we surrounded Coraci, seized him by the legs, lifted him on
high, and set out to carry him in triumph, shouting, "Hurrah for the
Deputy of Calabria!" by way of making a noise, of course; and not in
jest, but quite the contrary, for the sake of making a celebration for
him, and with a good will, for he is a boy who pleases every one; and he
smiled. And thus we bore him as far as the corner, where we ran into a
gentleman with a black beard, who began to laugh. The Calabrian said,
"That is my father." And then the boys placed his son in his arms and
ran away in all directions.


    March 14th.

Towards two o'clock the vast theatre was crowded,--pit, gallery, boxes,
stage, all were thronged; thousands of faces,--boys, gentlemen,
teachers, workingmen, women of the people, babies. There was a moving of
heads and hands, a flutter of feathers, ribbons, and curls, and loud and
merry murmur which inspired cheerfulness. The theatre was all decorated
with festoons of white, red, and green cloth. In the pit two little
stairways had been erected: one on the right, which the winners of
prizes were to ascend in order to reach the stage; the other, on the
left, which they were to descend after receiving their prizes. On the
front of the platform there was a row of red chairs; and from the back
of the one in the centre hung two laurel crowns. At the back of the
stage was a trophy of flags; on one side stood a small green table, and
upon it lay all the certificates of premiums, tied with tricolored
ribbons. The band of music was stationed in the pit, under the stage;
the schoolmasters and mistresses filled all one side of the first
balcony, which had been reserved for them; the benches and passages of
the pit were crammed with hundreds of boys, who were to sing, and who
had written music in their hands. At the back and all about, masters and
mistresses could be seen going to and fro, arranging the prize scholars
in lines; and it was full of parents who were giving a last touch to
their hair and the last pull to their neckties.

    [Illustration: "HURRAH FOR THE DEPUTY OF CALABRIA!"--Page 166.]

No sooner had I entered my box with my family than I perceived in the
opposite box the young mistress with the red feather, who was smiling
and showing all the pretty dimples in her cheeks, and with her my
brother's teacher and "the little nun," dressed wholly in black, and my
kind mistress of the upper first; but she was so pale, poor thing! and
coughed so hard, that she could be heard all over the theatre. In the
pit I instantly espied Garrone's dear, big face and the little blond
head of Nelli, who was clinging close to the other's shoulder. A little
further on I saw Garoffi, with his owl's-beak nose, who was making great
efforts to collect the printed catalogues of the prize-winners; and he
already had a large bundle of them which he could put to some use in his
bartering--we shall find out what it is to-morrow. Near the door was the
wood-seller with his wife,--both dressed in festive attire,--together
with their boy, who has a third prize in the second grade. I was amazed
at no longer beholding the catskin cap and the chocolate-colored tights:
on this occasion he was dressed like a little gentleman. In one balcony
I caught a momentary glimpse of Votini, with a large lace collar; then
he disappeared. In a proscenium box, filled with people, was the
artillery captain, the father of Robetti, the boy with the crutches who
saved the child from the omnibus.

On the stroke of two the band struck up, and at the same moment the
mayor, the prefect, the judge, the _provveditore_, and many other
gentlemen, all dressed in black, mounted the stairs on the right, and
seated themselves on the red chairs at the front of the platform. The
band ceased playing. The director of singing in the schools advanced
with a _baton_ in his hand. At a signal from him all the boys in the pit
rose to their feet; at another sign they began to sing. There were seven
hundred singing a very beautiful song,--seven hundred boys' voices
singing together; how beautiful! All listened motionless: it was a slow,
sweet, limpid song which seemed like a church chant. When they ceased,
every one applauded; then they all became very still. The distribution
of the prizes was about to begin. My little master of the second grade,
with his red head and his quick eyes, who was to read the names of the
prize-winners, had already advanced to the front of the stage. The
entrance of the twelve boys who were to present the certificates was
what they were waiting for. The newspapers had already stated that
there would be boys from all the provinces of Italy. Every one knew it,
and was watching for them and gazing curiously towards the spot where
they were to enter, and the mayor and the other gentlemen gazed also,
and the whole theatre was silent.

All at once the whole twelve arrived on the stage at a run, and remained
standing there in line, with a smile. The whole theatre, three thousand
persons, sprang up simultaneously, breaking into applause which sounded
like a clap of thunder. The boys stood for a moment as though
disconcerted. "Behold Italy!" said a voice on the stage. All at once I
recognized Coraci, the Calabrian, dressed in black as usual. A gentleman
belonging to the municipal government, who was with us and who knew them
all, pointed them out to my mother. "That little blond is the
representative of Venice. The Roman is that tall, curly-haired lad,
yonder." Two or three of them were dressed like gentlemen; the others
were sons of workingmen, but all were neatly clad and clean. The
Florentine, who was the smallest, had a blue scarf round his body. They
all passed in front of the mayor, who kissed them, one after the other,
on the brow, while a gentleman seated next to him smilingly told him the
names of their cities: "Florence, Naples, Bologna, Palermo." And as each
passed by, the whole theatre clapped. Then they all ran to the green
table, to take the certificates. The master began to read the list,
mentioning the schoolhouses, the classes, the names; and the
prize-winners began to mount the stage and to file past.

The foremost ones had hardly reached the stage, when behind the scenes
there became audible a very, very faint music of violins, which did not
cease during the whole time that they were filing past--a soft and
always even air, like the murmur of many subdued voices, the voices of
all the mothers, and all the masters and mistresses, giving counsel in
concert, and beseeching and administering loving reproofs. And
meanwhile, the prize-winners passed one by one in front of the seated
gentlemen, who handed them their certificates, and said a word or
bestowed a caress on each.

The boys in the pit and the balconies applauded loudly every time that
there passed a very small lad, or one who seemed, from his garments, to
be poor; and also for those who had abundant curly hair, or who were
clad in red or white. Some of those who filed past belonged to the upper
primary, and once arrived there, they became confused and did not know
where to turn, and the whole theatre laughed. One passed, three spans
high, with a big knot of pink ribbon on his back, so that he could
hardly walk, and he got entangled in the carpet and tumbled down; and
the prefect set him on his feet again, and all laughed and clapped.
Another rolled headlong down the stairs, when descending again to the
pit: cries arose, but he had not hurt himself. Boys of all sorts
passed,--boys with roguish faces, with frightened faces, with faces as
red as cherries; comical little fellows, who laughed in every one's
face: and no sooner had they got back into the pit, than they were
seized upon by their fathers and mothers, who carried them away.

When our schoolhouse's turn came, how amused I was! Many whom I knew
passed. Coretti filed by, dressed in new clothes from head to foot, with
his fine, merry smile, which displayed all his white teeth; but who
knows how many myriagrammes of wood he had already carried that morning!
The mayor, on presenting him with his certificate, inquired the meaning
of a red mark on his forehead, and as he did so, laid one hand on his
shoulder. I looked in the pit for his father and mother, and saw them
laughing, while they covered their mouths with one hand. Then Derossi
passed, all dressed in bright blue, with shining buttons, with all those
golden curls, slender, easy, with his head held high, so handsome, so
sympathetic, that I could have blown him a kiss; and all the gentlemen
wanted to speak to him and to shake his hand.

Then the master cried, "Giulio Robetti!" and we saw the captain's son
come forward on his crutches. Hundreds of boys knew the occurrence; a
rumor ran round in an instant; a salvo of applause broke forth, and of
shouts, which made the theatre tremble: men sprang to their feet, the
ladies began to wave their handkerchiefs, and the poor boy halted in the
middle of the stage, amazed and trembling. The mayor drew him to him,
gave him his prize and a kiss, and removing the two laurel crowns which
were hanging from the back of the chair, he strung them on the
cross-bars of his crutches. Then he accompanied him to the proscenium
box, where his father, the captain, was seated; and the latter lifted
him bodily and set him down inside, amid an indescribable tumult of
bravos and hurrahs.

Meanwhile, the soft and gentle music of the violins continued, and the
boys continued to file by,--those from the Schoolhouse della Consolata,
nearly all the sons of petty merchants; those from the Vanchiglia
School, the sons of workingmen; those from the Boncompagni School, many
of whom were the sons of peasants; those of the Rayneri, which was the
last. As soon as it was over, the seven hundred boys in the pit sang
another very beautiful song; then the mayor spoke, and after him the
judge, who terminated his discourse by saying to the boys:--

"But do not leave this place without sending a salute to those who toil
so hard for you; who have consecrated to you all the strength of their
intelligence and of their hearts; who live and die for you. There they
are; behold them!" And he pointed to the balcony of teachers. Then, from
the balconies, from the pit, from the boxes, the boys rose, and extended
their arms towards the masters and mistresses, with a shout, and the
latter responded by waving their hands, their hats, and handkerchiefs,
as they all stood up, in their emotion. After this, the band played once
more, and the audience sent a last noisy salute to the twelve lads of
all the provinces of Italy, who presented themselves at the front of the
stage, all drawn up in line, with their hands interlaced, beneath a
shower of flowers.


    Monday, 26th.

However, it is not out of envy, because he got the prize and I did not,
that I quarrelled with Coretti this morning. It was not out of envy. But
I was in the wrong. The teacher had placed him beside me, and I was
writing in my copy-book for calligraphy; he jogged my elbow and made me
blot and soil the monthly story, _Blood of Romagna_, which I was to copy
for the little mason, who is ill. I got angry, and said a rude word to
him. He replied, with a smile, "I did not do it intentionally." I should
have believed him, because I know him; but it displeased me that he
should smile, and I thought:--

"Oh! now that he has had a prize, he has grown saucy!" and a little
while afterwards, to revenge myself, I gave him a jog which made him
spoil his page. Then, all crimson with wrath, "You did that on purpose,"
he said to me, and raised his hand: the teacher saw it; he drew it back.
But he added:--

"I shall wait for you outside!" I felt ill at ease; my wrath had
simmered away; I repented. No; Coretti could not have done it
intentionally. He is good, I thought. I recalled how I had seen him in
his own home; how he had worked and helped his sick mother; and then how
heartily he had been welcomed in my house; and how he had pleased my
father. What would I not have given not to have said that word to him;
not to have insulted him thus! And I thought of the advice that my
father had given to me: "Have you done wrong?"--"Yes."--"Then beg his
pardon." But this I did not dare to do; I was ashamed to humiliate
myself. I looked at him out of the corner of my eye, and I saw his coat
ripped on the shoulder,--perhaps because he had carried too much
wood,--and I felt that I loved him; and I said to myself, "Courage!" But
the words, "excuse me," stuck in my throat. He looked at me askance from
time to time, and he seemed to me to be more grieved than angry. But at
such times I looked malevolently at him, to show him that I was not

He repeated, "We shall meet outside!" And I said, "We shall meet
outside!" But I was thinking of what my father had once said to me, "If
you are wronged, defend yourself, but do not fight."

And I said to myself, "I will defend myself, but I will not fight." But
I was discontented, and I no longer listened to the master. At last the
moment of dismissal arrived. When I was alone in the street I perceived
that he was following me. I stopped and waited for him, ruler in hand.
He approached; I raised my ruler.

"No, Enrico," he said, with his kindly smile, waving the ruler aside
with his hand; "let us be friends again, as before."

I stood still in amazement, and then I felt what seemed to be a hand
dealing a push on my shoulders, and I found myself in his arms. He
kissed me, and said:--

"We'll have no more altercations between us, will we?"

"Never again! never again!" I replied. And we parted content. But when I
returned home, and told my father all about it, thinking to give him
pleasure, his face clouded over, and he said:--

"You should have been the first to offer your hand, since you were in
the wrong." Then he added, "You should not raise your ruler at a comrade
who is better than you are--at the son of a soldier!" and snatching the
ruler from my hand, he broke it in two, and hurled it against the wall.


    Friday, 24th.

     Why, Enrico, after our father has already reproved you for having
     behaved badly to Coretti, were you so unkind to me? You cannot
     imagine the pain that you caused me. Do you not know that when you
     were a baby, I stood for hours and hours beside your cradle,
     instead of playing with my companions, and that when you were ill,
     I got out of bed every night to feel whether your forehead was
     burning? Do you not know, you who grieve your sister, that if a
     tremendous misfortune should overtake us, I should be a mother to
     you and love you like my son? Do you not know that when our father
     and mother are no longer here, I shall be your best friend, the
     only person with whom you can talk about our dead and your infancy,
     and that, should it be necessary, I shall work for you, Enrico, to
     earn your bread and to pay for your studies, and that I shall
     always love you when you are grown up, that I shall follow you in
     thought when you go far away, always because we grew up together
     and have the same blood? O Enrico, be sure of this when you are a
     man, that if misfortune happens to you, if you are alone, be very
     sure that you will seek me, that you will come to me and say:
     "Silvia, sister, let me stay with you; let us talk of the days when
     we were happy--do you remember? Let us talk of our mother, of our
     home, of those beautiful days that are so far away." O Enrico, you
     will always find your sister with her arms wide open. Yes, dear
     Enrico; and you must forgive me for the reproof that I am
     administering to you now. I shall never recall any wrong of yours;
     and if you should give me other sorrows, what matters it? You will
     always be my brother, the same brother; I shall never recall you
     otherwise than as having held you in my arms when a baby, of having
     loved our father and mother with you, of having watched you grow
     up, of having been for years your most faithful companion. But do
     you write me a kind word in this same copy-book, and I will come
     for it and read it before the evening. In the meanwhile, to show
     you that I am not angry with you, and perceiving that you are
     weary, I have copied for you the monthly story, _Blood of Romagna_,
     which you were to have copied for the little sick mason. Look in
     the left drawer of your table; I have been writing all night, while
     you were asleep. Write me a kind word, Enrico, I beseech you.


     I am not worthy to kiss your hands.--ENRICO.


(_Monthly Story._)

That evening the house of Ferruccio was more silent than was its wont.
The father, who kept a little haberdasher's shop, had gone to Forli to
make some purchases, and his wife had accompanied him, with Luigina, a
baby, whom she was taking to a doctor, that he might operate on a
diseased eye; and they were not to return until the following morning.
It was almost midnight. The woman who came to do the work by day had
gone away at nightfall. In the house there was only the grandmother with
the paralyzed legs, and Ferruccio, a lad of thirteen. It was a small
house of but one story, situated on the highway, at a gunshot's distance
from a village not far from Forli, a town of Romagna; and there was near
it only an uninhabited house, ruined two months previously by fire, on
which the sign of an inn was still to be seen. Behind the tiny house was
a small garden surrounded by a hedge, upon which a rustic gate opened;
the door of the shop, which also served as the house door, opened on the
highway. All around spread the solitary campagna, vast cultivated
fields, planted with mulberry-trees.

It was nearly midnight; it was raining and blowing. Ferruccio and his
grandmother, who was still up, were in the dining-room, between which
and the garden there was a small, closet-like room, encumbered with old
furniture. Ferruccio had only returned home at eleven o'clock, after an
absence of many hours, and his grandmother had watched for him with eyes
wide open, filled with anxiety, nailed to the large arm-chair, upon
which she was accustomed to pass the entire day, and often the whole
night as well, since a difficulty of breathing did not allow her to lie
down in bed.

It was raining, and the wind beat the rain against the window-panes: the
night was very dark. Ferruccio had returned weary, muddy, with his
jacket torn, and the livid mark of a stone on his forehead. He had
engaged in a stone fight with his comrades; they had come to blows, as
usual; and in addition he had gambled, and lost all his soldi, and left
his cap in a ditch.

Although the kitchen was illuminated only by a small oil lamp, placed on
the corner of the table, near the arm-chair, his poor grandmother had
instantly perceived the wretched condition of her grandson, and had
partly divined, partly brought him to confess, his misdeeds.

She loved this boy with all her soul. When she had learned all, she
began to cry.

"Ah, no!" she said, after a long silence, "you have no heart for your
poor grandmother. You have no feeling, to take advantage in this manner
of the absence of your father and mother, to cause me sorrow. You have
left me alone the whole day long. You had not the slightest compassion.
Take care, Ferruccio! You are entering on an evil path which will lead
you to a sad end. I have seen others begin like you, and come to a bad
end. If you begin by running away from home, by getting into brawls with
the other boys, by losing soldi, then, gradually, from stone fights you
will come to knives, from gambling to other vices, and from other vices

Ferruccio stood listening three paces away, leaning against a cupboard,
with his chin on his breast and his brows knit, being still hot with
wrath from the brawl. A lock of fine chestnut hair fell across his
forehead, and his blue eyes were motionless.

"From gambling to theft!" repeated his grandmother, continuing to weep.
"Think of it, Ferruccio! Think of that scourge of the country about
here, of that Vito Mozzoni, who is now playing the vagabond in the town;
who, at the age of twenty-four, has been twice in prison, and has made
that poor woman, his mother, die of a broken heart--I knew her; and his
father has fled to Switzerland in despair. Think of that bad fellow,
whose salute your father is ashamed to return: he is always roaming with
miscreants worse than himself, and some day he will go to the galleys.
Well, I knew him as a boy, and he began as you are doing. Reflect that
you will reduce your father and mother to the same end as his."

Ferruccio held his peace. He was not at all remorseful at heart; quite
the reverse: his misdemeanors arose rather from superabundance of life
and audacity than from an evil mind; and his father had managed him
badly in precisely this particular, that, holding him capable, at
bottom, of the finest sentiments, and also, when put to the proof, of a
vigorous and generous action, he left the bridle loose upon his neck,
and waited for him to acquire judgment for himself. The lad was good
rather than perverse, but stubborn; and it was hard for him, even when
his heart was oppressed with repentance, to allow those good words which
win pardon to escape his lips, "If I have done wrong, I will do so no
more; I promise it; forgive me." His soul was full of tenderness at
times; but pride would not permit it to manifest itself.

"Ah, Ferruccio," continued his grandmother, perceiving that he was thus
dumb, "not a word of penitence do you utter to me! You see to what a
condition I am reduced, so that I am as good as actually buried. You
ought not to have the heart to make me suffer so, to make the mother of
your mother, who is so old and so near her last day, weep; the poor
grandmother who has always loved you so, who rocked you all night long,
night after night, when you were a baby a few months old, and who did
not eat for amusing you,--you do not know that! I always said, 'This boy
will be my consolation!' And now you are killing me! I would willingly
give the little life that remains to me if I could see you become a good
boy, and an obedient one, as you were in those days when I used to lead
you to the sanctuary--do you remember, Ferruccio? You used to fill my
pockets with pebbles and weeds, and I carried you home in my arms, fast
asleep. You used to love your poor grandma then. And now I am a
paralytic, and in need of your affection as of the air to breathe, since
I have no one else in the world, poor, half-dead woman that I am: my

Ferruccio was on the point of throwing himself on his grandmother,
overcome with emotion, when he fancied that he heard a slight noise, a
creaking in the small adjoining room, the one which opened on the
garden. But he could not make out whether it was the window-shutters
rattling in the wind, or something else.

He bent his head and listened.

The rain beat down noisily.

The sound was repeated. His grandmother heard it also.

"What is it?" asked the grandmother, in perturbation, after a momentary

"The rain," murmured the boy.

"Then, Ferruccio," said the old woman, drying her eyes, "you promise me
that you will be good, that you will not make your poor grandmother weep

Another faint sound interrupted her.

"But it seems to me that it is not the rain!" she exclaimed, turning
pale. "Go and see!"

But she instantly added, "No; remain here!" and seized Ferruccio by the

Both remained as they were, and held their breath. All they heard was
the sound of the water.

Then both were seized with a shivering fit.

It seemed to both that they heard footsteps in the next room.

"Who's there?" demanded the lad, recovering his breath with an effort.

No one replied.

"Who is it?" asked Ferruccio again, chilled with terror.

But hardly had he pronounced these words when both uttered a shriek of
terror. Two men sprang into the room. One of them grasped the boy and
placed one hand over his mouth; the other clutched the old woman by the
throat. The first said:--

"Silence, unless you want to die!"

The second:--

"Be quiet!" and raised aloft a knife.

Both had dark cloths over their faces, with two holes for the eyes.

For a moment nothing was audible but the gasping breath of all four, the
patter of the rain; the old woman emitted frequent rattles from her
throat, and her eyes were starting from her head.

The man who held the boy said in his ear, "Where does your father keep
his money?"

The lad replied in a thread of a voice, with chattering teeth,
"Yonder--in the cupboard."

"Come with me," said the man.

And he dragged him into the closet room, holding him securely by the
throat. There was a dark lantern standing on the floor.

"Where is the cupboard?" he demanded.

The suffocating boy pointed to the cupboard.

Then, in order to make sure of the boy, the man flung him on his knees
in front of the cupboard, and, pressing his neck closely between his own
legs, in such a way that he could throttle him if he shouted, and
holding his knife in his teeth and his lantern in one hand, with the
other he pulled from his pocket a pointed iron, drove it into the lock,
fumbled about, broke it, threw the doors wide open, tumbled everything
over in a perfect fury of haste, filled his pockets, shut the cupboard
again, opened it again, made another search; then he seized the boy by
the windpipe again, and pushed him to where the other man was still
grasping the old woman, who was convulsed, with her head thrown back and
her mouth open.

The latter asked in a low voice, "Did you find it?"

His companion replied, "I found it."

And he added, "See to the door."

The one that was holding the old woman ran to the door of the garden to
see if there were any one there, and called in from the little room, in
a voice that resembled a hiss, "Come!"

The one who remained behind, and who was still holding Ferruccio fast,
showed his knife to the boy and the old woman, who had opened her eyes
again, and said, "Not a sound, or I'll come back and cut your throat."

And he glared at the two for a moment.

At this juncture, a song sung by many voices became audible far off on
the highway.

The robber turned his head hastily toward the door, and the violence of
the movement caused the cloth to fall from his face.

The old woman gave vent to a shriek; "Mozzoni!"

"Accursed woman," roared the robber, on finding himself recognized, "you
shall die!"

And he hurled himself, with his knife raised, against the old woman, who
swooned on the spot.

The assassin dealt the blow.

But Ferruccio, with an exceedingly rapid movement, and uttering a cry of
desperation, had rushed to his grandmother, and covered her body with
his own. The assassin fled, stumbling against the table and overturning
the light, which was extinguished.

The boy slipped slowly from above his grandmother, fell on his knees,
and remained in that attitude, with his arms around her body and his
head upon her breast.

Several moments passed; it was very dark; the song of the peasants
gradually died away in the campagna. The old woman recovered her senses.

"Ferruccio!" she cried, in a voice that was barely intelligible, with
chattering teeth.

"Grandmamma!" replied the lad.

The old woman made an effort to speak; but terror had paralyzed her

She remained silent for a while, trembling violently.

Then she succeeded in asking:--

"They are not here now?"


"They did not kill me," murmured the old woman in a stifled voice.

"No; you are safe," said Ferruccio, in a weak voice. "You are safe, dear
grandmother. They carried off the money. But daddy had taken nearly all
of it with him."

His grandmother drew a deep breath.

"Grandmother," said Ferruccio, still kneeling, and pressing her close to
him, "dear grandmother, you love me, don't you?"

"O Ferruccio! my poor little son!" she replied, placing her hands on his
head; "what a fright you must have had!--O Lord God of mercy!--Light the
lamp. No; let us still remain in the dark! I am still afraid."

"Grandmother," resumed the boy, "I have always caused you grief."

"No, Ferruccio, you must not say such things; I shall never think of
that again; I have forgotten everything, I love you so dearly!"

"I have always caused you grief," pursued Ferruccio, with difficulty,
and his voice quivered; "but I have always loved you. Do you forgive
me?--Forgive me, grandmother."

"Yes, my son, I forgive you with all my heart. Think, how could I help
forgiving you! Rise from your knees, my child. I will never scold you
again. You are so good, so good! Let us light the lamp. Let us take
courage a little. Rise, Ferruccio."

"Thanks, grandmother," said the boy, and his voice was still weaker.
"Now--I am content. You will remember me, grandmother--will you not? You
will always remember me--your Ferruccio?"

"My Ferruccio!" exclaimed his grandmother, amazed and alarmed, as she
laid her hands on his shoulders and bent her head, as though to look him
in his face.

"Remember me," murmured the boy once more, in a voice that seemed like a
breath. "Give a kiss to my mother--to my father--to Luigina.--Good by,

"In the name of Heaven, what is the matter with you?" shrieked the old
woman, feeling the boy's head anxiously, as it lay upon her knees; and
then with all the power of voice of which her throat was capable, and in
desperation: "Ferruccio! Ferruccio! Ferruccio! My child! My love! Angels
of Paradise, come to my aid!"

But Ferruccio made no reply. The little hero, the saviour of the mother
of his mother, stabbed by a blow from a knife in the back, had rendered
up his beautiful and daring soul to God.


    Tuesday, 18th.

The poor little mason is seriously ill; the master told us to go and see
him; and Garrone, Derossi, and I agreed to go together. Stardi would
have come also, but as the teacher had assigned us the description of
_The Monument to Cavour_, he told us that he must go and see the
monument, in order that his description might be more exact. So, by way
of experiment, we invited that puffed-up fellow, Nobis, who replied
"No," and nothing more. Votini also excused himself, perhaps because he
was afraid of soiling his clothes with plaster.

We went there when we came out of school at four o'clock. It was raining
in torrents. On the street Garrone halted, and said, with his mouth full
of bread:--

"What shall I buy?" and he rattled a couple of soldi in his pocket. We
each contributed two soldi, and purchased three huge oranges. We
ascended to the garret. At the door Derossi removed his medal and put it
in his pocket. I asked him why.

"I don't know," he answered; "in order not to have the air: it strikes
me as more delicate to go in without my medal." We knocked; the father,
that big man who looks like a giant, opened to us; his face was
distorted so that he appeared terrified.

"Who are you?" he demanded. Garrone replied:--

"We are Antonio's schoolmates, and we have brought him three oranges."

"Ah, poor Tonino!" exclaimed the mason, shaking his head, "I fear that
he will never eat your oranges!" and he wiped his eyes with the back of
his hand. He made us come in. We entered an attic room, where we saw
"the little mason" asleep in a little iron bed; his mother hung
dejectedly over the bed, with her face in her hands, and she hardly
turned to look at us; on one side hung brushes, a trowel, and a
plaster-sieve; over the feet of the sick boy was spread the mason's
jacket, white with lime. The poor boy was emaciated; very, very white;
his nose was pointed, and his breath was short. O dear Tonino, my little
comrade! you who were so kind and merry, how it pains me! what would I
not give to see you make the hare's face once more, poor little mason!
Garrone laid an orange on his pillow, close to his face; the odor waked
him; he grasped it instantly; then let go of it, and gazed intently at

"It is I," said the latter; "Garrone: do you know me?" He smiled almost
imperceptibly, lifted his stubby hand with difficulty from the bed and
held it out to Garrone, who took it between his, and laid it against his
cheek, saying:--

"Courage, courage, little mason; you are going to get well soon and come
back to school, and the master will put you next to me; will that please

But the little mason made no reply. His mother burst into sobs: "Oh, my
poor Tonino! My poor Tonino! He is so brave and good, and God is going
to take him from us!"

"Silence!" cried the mason; "silence, for the love of God, or I shall
lose my reason!"

Then he said to us, with anxiety: "Go, go, boys, thanks; go! what do you
want to do here? Thanks; go home!" The boy had closed his eyes again,
and appeared to be dead.

"Do you need any assistance?" asked Garrone.

"No, my good boy, thanks," the mason answered. And so saying, he pushed
us out on the landing, and shut the door. But we were not half-way down
the stairs, when we heard him calling, "Garrone! Garrone!"

We all three mounted the stairs once more in haste.

"Garrone!" shouted the mason, with a changed countenance, "he has called
you by name; it is two days since he spoke; he has called you twice; he
wants you; come quickly! Ah, holy God, if this is only a good sign!"

"Farewell for the present," said Garrone to us; "I shall remain," and
he ran in with the father. Derossi's eyes were full of tears. I said to

"Are you crying for the little mason? He has spoken; he will recover."

"I believe it," replied Derossi; "but I was not thinking of him. I was
thinking how good Garrone is, and what a beautiful soul he has."


    Wednesday, 29th.

     You are to make a description of the monument to Count Cavour. You
     can do it. But who was Count Cavour? You cannot understand at
     present. For the present this is all you know: he was for many
     years the prime minister of Piemont. It was he who sent the
     Piemontese army to the Crimea to raise once more, with the victory
     of the Cernaia, our military glory, which had fallen with the
     defeat at Novara; it was he who made one hundred and fifty thousand
     Frenchmen descend from the Alps to chase the Austrians from
     Lombardy; it was he who governed Italy in the most solemn period of
     our revolution; who gave, during those years, the most potent
     impulse to the holy enterprise of the unification of our
     country,--he with his luminous mind, with his invincible
     perseverance, with his more than human industry. Many generals have
     passed terrible hours on the field of battle; but he passed more
     terrible ones in his cabinet, when his enormous work might suffer
     destruction at any moment, like a fragile edifice at the tremor of
     an earthquake. Hours, nights of struggle and anguish did he pass,
     sufficient to make him issue from it with reason distorted and
     death in his heart. And it was this gigantic and stormy work which
     shortened his life by twenty years. Nevertheless, devoured by the
     fever which was to cast him into his grave, he yet contended
     desperately with the malady in order to accomplish something for
     his country. "It is strange," he said sadly on his death-bed, "I no
     longer know how to read; I can no longer read."

     While they were bleeding him, and the fever was increasing, he was
     thinking of his country, and he said imperiously: "Cure me; my mind
     is clouding over; I have need of all my faculties to manage
     important affairs." When he was already reduced to extremities, and
     the whole city was in a tumult, and the king stood at his bedside,
     he said anxiously, "I have many things to say to you, Sire, many
     things to show you; but I am ill; I cannot, I cannot;" and he was
     in despair.

     And his feverish thoughts hovered ever round the State, round the
     new Italian provinces which had been united with us, round the many
     things which still remained to be done. When delirium seized him,
     "Educate the children!" he exclaimed, between his gasps for
     breath,--"educate the children and the young people--govern with

     His delirium increased; death hovered over him, and with burning
     words he invoked General Garibaldi, with whom he had had
     disagreements, and Venice and Rome, which were not yet free: he had
     vast visions of the future of Italy and of Europe; he dreamed of a
     foreign invasion; he inquired where the corps of the army were, and
     the generals; he still trembled for us, for his people. His great
     sorrow was not, you understand, that he felt that his life was
     going, but to see himself fleeing his country, which still had need
     of him, and for which he had, in a few years, worn out the
     measureless forces of his miraculous organism. He died with the
     battle-cry in his throat, and his death was as great as his life.
     Now reflect a little, Enrico, what sort of a thing is our labor,
     which nevertheless so weighs us down; what are our griefs, our
     death itself, in the face of the toils, the terrible anxieties, the
     tremendous agonies of these men upon whose hearts rests a world!
     Think of this, my son, when you pass before that marble image, and
     say to it, "Glory!" in your heart.




    Saturday, 1st.

THE first of April! Only three months more! This has been one of the
most beautiful mornings of the year. I was happy in school because
Coretti told me to come day after to-morrow to see the king make his
entrance with his father, _who knows him_, and because my mother had
promised to take me the same day to visit the Infant Asylum in the Corso
Valdocco. I was pleased, too, because the little mason is better, and
because the teacher said to my father yesterday evening as he was
passing, "He is doing well; he is doing well."

And then it was a beautiful spring morning. From the school windows we
could see the blue sky, the trees of the garden all covered with buds,
and the wide-open windows of the houses, with their boxes and vases
already growing green. The master did not laugh, because he never
laughs; but he was in a good humor, so that that perpendicular wrinkle
hardly ever appeared on his brow; and he explained a problem on the
blackboard, and jested. And it was plain that he felt a pleasure in
breathing the air of the gardens which entered through the open window,
redolent with the fresh odor of earth and leaves, which suggested
thoughts of country rambles.

While he was explaining, we could hear in a neighboring street a
blacksmith hammering on his anvil, and in the house opposite, a woman
singing to lull her baby to sleep; far away, in the Cernaia barracks,
the trumpets were sounding. Every one appeared pleased, even Stardi. At
a certain moment the blacksmith began to hammer more vigorously, the
woman to sing more loudly. The master paused and lent an ear. Then he
said, slowly, as he gazed out of the window:--

"The smiling sky, a singing mother, an honest man at work, boys at
study,--these are beautiful things."

When we emerged from the school, we saw that every one else was cheerful
also. All walked in a line, stamping loudly with their feet, and
humming, as though on the eve of a four days' vacation; the
schoolmistresses were playful; the one with the red feather tripped
along behind the children like a schoolgirl; the parents of the boys
were chatting together and smiling, and Crossi's mother, the
vegetable-vender, had so many bunches of violets in her basket, that
they filled the whole large hall with perfume.

I have never felt such happiness as this morning on catching sight of my
mother, who was waiting for me in the street. And I said to her as I ran
to meet her:--

"Oh, I am happy! what is it that makes me so happy this morning?" And my
mother answered me with a smile that it was the beautiful season and a
good conscience.


    Monday, 3d.

At ten o'clock precisely my father saw from the window Coretti, the
wood-seller, and his son waiting for me in the square, and said to me:--

"There they are, Enrico; go and see your king."

I went like a flash. Both father and son were even more alert than
usual, and they never seemed to me to resemble each other so strongly as
this morning. The father wore on his jacket the medal for valor between
two commemorative medals, and his mustaches were curled and as pointed
as two pins.

We at once set out for the railway station, where the king was to arrive
at half-past ten. Coretti, the father, smoked his pipe and rubbed his
hands. "Do you know," said he, "I have not seen him since the war of
'sixty-six? A trifle of fifteen years and six months. First, three years
in France, and then at Mondovì, and here, where I might have seen him, I
have never had the good luck of being in the city when he came. Such a
combination of circumstances!"

He called the King "Umberto," like a comrade. Umberto commanded the 16th
division; Umberto was twenty-two years and so many days old; Umberto
mounted a horse thus and so.

"Fifteen years!" he said vehemently, accelerating his pace. "I really
have a great desire to see him again. I left him a prince; I see him
once more, a king. And I, too, have changed. From a soldier I have
become a hawker of wood." And he laughed.

His son asked him, "If he were to see you, would he remember you?"

He began to laugh.

"You are crazy!" he answered. "That's quite another thing. He, Umberto,
was one single man; we were as numerous as flies. And then, he never
looked at us one by one."

We turned into the Corso Vittorio Emanuele; there were many people on
their way to the station. A company of Alpine soldiers passed with their
trumpets. Two armed policemen passed by on horseback at a gallop. The
day was serene and brilliant.

"Yes!" exclaimed the elder Coretti, growing animated, "it is a real
pleasure to me to see him once more, the general of my division. Ah, how
quickly I have grown old! It seems as though it were only the other day
that I had my knapsack on my shoulders and my gun in my hands, at that
affair of the 24th of June, when we were on the point of coming to
blows. Umberto was going to and fro with his officers, while the cannon
were thundering in the distance; and every one was gazing at him and
saying, 'May there not be a bullet for him also!' I was a thousand miles
from thinking that I should soon find myself so near him, in front of
the lances of the Austrian uhlans; actually, only four paces from each
other, boys. That was a fine day; the sky was like a mirror; but so hot!
Let us see if we can get in."

We had arrived at the station; there was a great crowd,--carriages,
policemen, carabineers, societies with banners. A regimental band was
playing. The elder Coretti attempted to enter the portico, but he was
stopped. Then it occurred to him to force his way into the front row of
the crowd which formed an opening at the entrance; and making way with
his elbow, he succeeded in thrusting us forward also. But the
undulating throng flung us hither and thither a little. The wood-seller
got his eye upon the first pillar of the portico, where the police did
not allow any one to stand; "Come with me," he said suddenly, dragging
us by the hand; and he crossed the empty space in two bounds, and went
and planted himself there, with his back against the wall.

A police brigadier instantly hurried up and said to him, "You can't
stand here."

"I belong to the fourth battalion of forty-nine," replied Coretti,
touching his medal.

The brigadier glanced at it, and said, "Remain."

"Didn't I say so!" exclaimed Coretti triumphantly; "it's a magic word,
that fourth of the forty-ninth! Haven't I the right to see my general
with some little comfort,--I, who was in that squadron? I saw him close
at hand then; it seems right that I should see him close at hand now.
And I say general! He was my battalion commander for a good half-hour;
for at such moments he commanded the battalion himself, while it was in
the heart of things, and not Major Ubrich, by Heavens!"

In the meantime, in the reception-room and outside, a great mixture of
gentlemen and officers was visible, and in front of the door, the
carriages, with the lackeys dressed in red, were drawn up in a line.

Coretti asked his father whether Prince Umberto had his sword in his
hand when he was with the regiment.

"He would certainly have had his sword in his hand," the latter replied,
"to ward off a blow from a lance, which might strike him as well as
another. Ah! those unchained demons! They came down on us like the wrath
of God; they descended on us. They swept between the groups, the
squadrons, the cannon, as though tossed by a hurricane, crushing down
everything. There was a whirl of light cavalry of Alessandria, of
lancers of Foggia, of infantry, of sharpshooters, a pandemonium in which
nothing could any longer be understood. I heard the shout, 'Your
Highness! your Highness!' I saw the lowered lances approaching; we
discharged our guns; a cloud of smoke hid everything. Then the smoke
cleared away. The ground was covered with horses and uhlans, wounded and
dead. I turned round, and beheld in our midst Umberto, on horseback,
gazing tranquilly about, with the air of demanding, 'Have any of my lads
received a scratch?' And we shouted to him, 'Hurrah!' right in his face,
like madmen. Heavens, what a moment that was! Here's the train coming!"

The band struck up; the officers hastened forward; the crowd elevated
themselves on tiptoe.

"Eh, he won't come out in a hurry," said a policeman; "they are
presenting him with an address now."

The elder Coretti was beside himself with impatience.

"Ah! when I think of it," he said, "I always see him there. Of course,
there is cholera and there are earthquakes; and in them, too, he bears
himself bravely; but I always have him before my mind as I saw him then,
among us, with that tranquil face. I am sure that he too recalls the
fourth of the forty-ninth, even now that he is King; and that it would
give him pleasure to have for once, at a table together, all those whom
he saw about him at such moments. Now, he has generals, and great
gentlemen, and courtiers; then, there was no one but us poor soldiers.
If we could only exchange a few words alone! Our general of twenty-two;
our prince, who was intrusted to our bayonets! I have not seen him for
fifteen years. Our Umberto! that's what he is! Ah! that music stirs my
blood, on my word of honor."

An outburst of shouts interrupted him; thousands of hats rose in the
air; four gentlemen dressed in black got into the first carriage.

"'Tis he!" cried Coretti, and stood as though enchanted.

Then he said softly, "Madonna mia, how gray he has grown!"

We all three uncovered our heads; the carriage advanced slowly through
the crowd, who shouted and waved their hats. I looked at the elder
Coretti. He seemed to me another man; he seemed to have become taller,
graver, rather pale, and fastened bolt upright against the pillar.

The carriage arrived in front of us, a pace distant from the pillar.
"Hurrah!" shouted many voices.

"Hurrah!" shouted Coretti, after the others.

The King glanced at his face, and his eye dwelt for a moment on his
three medals.

Then Coretti lost his head, and roared, "The fourth battalion of the

The King, who had turned away, turned towards us again, and looking
Coretti straight in the eye, reached his hand out of the carriage.

Coretti gave one leap forwards and clasped it. The carriage passed on;
the crowd broke in and separated us; we lost sight of the elder Coretti.
But it was only for a moment. We found him again directly, panting, with
wet eyes, calling for his son by name, and holding his hand on high. His
son flew towards him, and he said, "Here, little one, while my hand is
still warm!" and he passed his hand over the boy's face, saying, "This
is a caress from the King."

And there he stood, as though in a dream, with his eyes fixed on the
distant carriage, smiling, with his pipe in his hand, in the centre of a
group of curious people, who were staring at him. "He's one of the
fourth battalion of the forty-ninth!" they said. "He is a soldier that
knows the King." "And the King recognized him." "And he offered him his
hand." "He gave the King a petition," said one, more loudly.

"No," replied Coretti, whirling round abruptly; "I did not give him any
petition. There is something else that I would give him, if he were to
ask it of me."

They all stared at him.

And he said simply, "My blood."


    Tuesday, 4th.

After breakfast yesterday my mother took me, as she had promised, to the
Infant Asylum in the Corso Valdocco, in order to recommend to the
directress a little sister of Precossi. I had never seen an asylum. How
much amused I was! There were two hundred of them, boy-babies and
girl-babies, and so small that the children in our lower primary schools
are men in comparison.

We arrived just as they were entering the refectory in two files, where
there were two very long tables, with a great many round holes, and in
each hole a black bowl filled with rice and beans, and a tin spoon
beside it. On entering, some grew confused and remained on the floor
until the mistresses ran and picked them up. Many halted in front of a
bowl, thinking it was their proper place, and had already swallowed a
spoonful, when a mistress arrived and said, "Go on!" and then they
advanced three or four paces and got down another spoonful, and then
advanced again, until they reached their own places, after having
fraudulently disposed of half a portion. At last, by dint of pushing and
crying, "Make haste! make haste!" they were all got into order, and the
prayer was begun. But all those on the inner line, who had to turn their
backs on the bowls for the prayer, twisted their heads round so that
they could keep an eye on them, lest some one might meddle; and then
they said their prayer thus, with hands clasped and their eyes on the
ceiling, but with their hearts on their food. Then they set to eating.
Ah, what a charming sight it was! One ate with two spoons, another with
his hands; many picked up the beans one by one, and thrust them into
their pockets; others wrapped them tightly in their little aprons, and
pounded them to reduce them to a paste. There were even some who did not
eat, because they were watching the flies flying, and others coughed and
sprinkled a shower of rice all around them. It resembled a poultry-yard.
But it was charming. The two rows of babies formed a pretty sight, with
their hair all tied on the tops of their heads with red, green, and blue
ribbons. One teacher asked a row of eight children, "Where does rice
grow?" The whole eight opened their mouths wide, filled as they were
with the pottage, and replied in concert, in a sing-song, "It grows in
the water." Then the teacher gave the order, "Hands up!" and it was
pretty to see all those little arms fly up, which a few months ago were
all in swaddling-clothes, and all those little hands flourishing, which
looked like so many white and pink butterflies.

Then they all went to recreation; but first they all took their little
baskets, which were hanging on the wall with their lunches in them. They
went out into the garden and scattered, drawing forth their provisions
as they did so,--bread, stewed plums, a tiny bit of cheese, a
hard-boiled egg, little apples, a handful of boiled vetches, or a wing
of chicken. In an instant the whole garden was strewn with crumbs, as
though they had been scattered from their feed by a flock of birds. They
ate in all the queerest ways,--like rabbits, like rats, like cats,
nibbling, licking, sucking. There was one child who held a bit of rye
bread hugged closely to his breast, and was rubbing it with a medlar, as
though he were polishing a sword. Some of the little ones crushed in
their fists small cheeses, which trickled between their fingers like
milk, and ran down inside their sleeves, and they were utterly
unconscious of it. They ran and chased each other with apples and rolls
in their teeth, like dogs. I saw three of them excavating a hard-boiled
egg with a straw, thinking to discover treasures, and they spilled half
of it on the ground, and then picked the crumbs up again one by one with
great patience, as though they had been pearls. And those who had
anything extraordinary were surrounded by eight or ten, who stood
staring at the baskets with bent heads, as though they were looking at
the moon in a well. There were twenty congregated round a mite of a
fellow who had a paper horn of sugar, and they were going through all
sorts of ceremonies with him for the privilege of dipping their bread in
it, and he accorded it to some, while to others, after many prayers, he
only granted his finger to suck.

    RESIN."--Page 202.]

In the meantime, my mother had come into the garden and was caressing
now one and now another. Many hung about her, and even on her back,
begging for a kiss, with faces upturned as though to a third story, and
with mouths that opened and shut as though asking for the breast. One
offered her the quarter of an orange which had been bitten, another a
small crust of bread; one little girl gave her a leaf; another showed
her, with all seriousness, the tip of her forefinger, a minute
examination of which revealed a microscopic swelling, which had been
caused by touching the flame of a candle on the preceding day. They
placed before her eyes, as great marvels, very tiny insects, which I
cannot understand their being able to see and catch, the halfs of corks,
shirt-buttons, and flowerets pulled from the vases. One child, with a
bandaged head, who was determined to be heard at any cost, stammered out
to her some story about a head-over-heels tumble, not one word of which
was intelligible; another insisted that my mother should bend down, and
then whispered in her ear, "My father makes brushes."

And in the meantime a thousand accidents were happening here and there
which caused the teachers to hasten up. Children wept because they could
not untie a knot in their handkerchiefs; others disputed, with scratches
and shrieks, the halves of an apple; one child, who had fallen face
downward over a little bench which had been overturned, wept amid the
ruins, and could not rise.

Before her departure my mother took three or four of them in her arms,
and they ran up from all quarters to be taken also, their faces smeared
with yolk of egg and orange juice; and one caught her hands; another her
finger, to look at her ring; another tugged at her watch chain; another
tried to seize her by the hair.

"Take care," the teacher said to her; "they will tear your clothes all
to pieces."

But my mother cared nothing for her dress, and she continued to kiss
them, and they pressed closer and closer to her: those who were nearest,
with their arms extended as though they were desirous of climbing; the
more distant endeavoring to make their way through the crowd, and all

"Good by! good by! good by!"

At last she succeeded in escaping from the garden. And they all ran and
thrust their faces through the railings to see her pass, and to thrust
their arms through to greet her, offering her once more bits of bread,
bites of apple, cheese-rinds, and all screaming in concert:--

"Good by! good by! good by! Come back to-morrow! Come again!"

As my mother made her escape, she passed her hand once more over those
hundreds of tiny outstretched hands as over a garland of living roses,
and finally arrived safely in the street, covered with crumbs and spots,
rumpled and dishevelled, with one hand full of flowers and her eyes
swelling with tears, and happy as though she had come from a festival.
And inside there was still audible a sound like the twittering of birds,

"Good by! good by! Come again, _madama_!"


    Tuesday, 5th.

As the weather continues extremely fine, they have made us pass from
chamber gymnastics to gymnastics with apparatus in the garden.

Garrone was in the head-master's office yesterday when Nelli's mother,
that blond woman dressed in black, came in to get her son excused from
the new exercises. Every word cost her an effort; and as she spoke, she
held one hand on her son's head.

"He is not able to do it," she said to the head-master. But Nelli showed
much grief at this exclusion from the apparatus, at having this added
humiliation imposed upon him.

"You will see, mamma," he said, "that I shall do like the rest."

His mother gazed at him in silence, with an air of pity and affection.
Then she remarked, in a hesitating way, "I fear lest his companions--"

What she meant to say was, "lest they should make sport of him." But
Nelli replied:--

"They will not do anything to me--and then, there is Garrone. It is
sufficient for him to be present, to prevent their laughing."

And then he was allowed to come. The teacher with the wound on his neck,
who was with Garibaldi, led us at once to the vertical bars, which are
very high, and we had to climb to the very top, and stand upright on the
transverse plank. Derossi and Coretti went up like monkeys; even little
Precossi mounted briskly, in spite of the fact that he was embarrassed
with that jacket which extends to his knees; and in order to make him
laugh while he was climbing, all the boys repeated to him his constant
expression, "Excuse me! excuse me!" Stardi puffed, turned as red as a
turkey-cock, and set his teeth until he looked like a mad dog; but he
would have reached the top at the expense of bursting, and he actually
did get there; and so did Nobis, who, when he reached the summit,
assumed the attitude of an emperor; but Votini slipped back twice,
notwithstanding his fine new suit with azure stripes, which had been
made expressly for gymnastics.

In order to climb the more easily, all the boys had daubed their hands
with resin, which they call colophony, and as a matter of course it is
that trader of a Garoffi who provides every one with it, in a powdered
form, selling it at a soldo the paper hornful, and turning a pretty

Then it was Garrone's turn, and up he went, chewing away at his bread as
though it were nothing out of the common; and I believe that he would
have been capable of carrying one of us up on his shoulders, for he is
as muscular and strong as a young bull.

After Garrone came Nelli. No sooner did the boys see him grasp the bars
with those long, thin hands of his, than many of them began to laugh and
to sing; but Garrone crossed his big arms on his breast, and darted
round a glance which was so expressive, which so clearly said that he
did not mind dealing out half a dozen punches, even in the master's
presence, that they all ceased laughing on the instant. Nelli began to
climb. He tried hard, poor little fellow; his face grew purple, he
breathed with difficulty, and the perspiration poured from his brow. The
master said, "Come down!" But he would not. He strove and persisted. I
expected every moment to see him fall headlong, half dead. Poor Nelli! I
thought, what if I had been like him, and my mother had seen me! How she
would have suffered, poor mother! And as I thought of that I felt so
tenderly towards Nelli that I could have given, I know not what, to be
able, for the sake of having him climb those bars, to give him a push
from below without being seen.

Meanwhile Garrone, Derossi, and Coretti were saying: "Up with you,
Nelli, up with you!" "Try--one effort more--courage!" And Nelli made one
more violent effort, uttering a groan as he did so, and found himself
within two spans of the plank.

"Bravo!" shouted the others. "Courage--one dash more!" and behold Nelli
clinging to the plank.

All clapped their hands. "Bravo!" said the master. "But that will do
now. Come down."

But Nelli wished to ascend to the top like the rest, and after a little
exertion he succeeded in getting his elbows on the plank, then his
knees, then his feet; at last he stood upright, panting and smiling, and
gazed at us.

We began to clap again, and then he looked into the street. I turned in
that direction, and through the plants which cover the iron railing of
the garden I caught sight of his mother, passing along the sidewalk
without daring to look. Nelli descended, and we all made much of him. He
was excited and rosy, his eyes sparkled, and he no longer seemed like
the same boy.

Then, at the close of school, when his mother came to meet him, and
inquired with some anxiety, as she embraced him, "Well, my poor son, how
did it go? how did it go?" all his comrades replied, in concert, "He did
well--he climbed like the rest of us--he's strong, you know--he's
active--he does exactly like the others."

And then the joy of that woman was a sight to see. She tried to thank
us, and could not; she shook hands with three or four, bestowed a caress
on Garrone, and carried off her son; and we watched them for a while,
walking in haste, and talking and gesticulating, both perfectly happy,
as though no one were looking at them.


    Tuesday, 11th.

What a beautiful excursion I took yesterday with my father! This is the
way it came about.

Day before yesterday, at dinner, as my father was reading the newspaper,
he suddenly uttered an exclamation of astonishment. Then he said:--

"And I thought him dead twenty years ago! Do you know that my old first
elementary teacher, Vincenzo Crosetti, is eighty-four years old? I see
here that the minister has conferred on him the medal of merit for sixty
years of teaching. Six-ty ye-ars, you understand! And it is only two
years since he stopped teaching school. Poor Crosetti! He lives an
hour's journey from here by rail, at Condove, in the country of our old
gardener's wife, of the town of Chieri." And he added, "Enrico, we will
go and see him."

And the whole evening he talked of nothing but him. The name of his
primary teacher recalled to his mind a thousand things which had
happened when he was a boy, his early companions, his dead mother.
"Crosetti!" he exclaimed. "He was forty when I was with him. I seem to
see him now. He was a small man, somewhat bent even then, with bright
eyes, and always cleanly shaved. Severe, but in a good way; for he loved
us like a father, and forgave us more than one offence. He had risen
from the condition of a peasant by dint of study and privations. He was
a fine man. My mother was attached to him, and my father treated him
like a friend. How comes it that he has gone to end his days at Condove,
near Turin? He certainly will not recognize me. Never mind; I shall
recognize him. Forty-four years have elapsed,--forty-four years, Enrico!
and we will go to see him to-morrow."

And yesterday morning, at nine o'clock, we were at the Susa railway
station. I should have liked to have Garrone come too; but he could not,
because his mother is ill.

It was a beautiful spring day. The train ran through green fields and
hedgerows in blossom, and the air we breathed was perfumed. My father
was delighted, and every little while he would put his arm round my neck
and talk to me like a friend, as he gazed out over the country.

"Poor Crosetti!" he said; "he was the first man, after my father, to
love me and do me good. I have never forgotten certain of his good
counsels, and also certain sharp reprimands which caused me to return
home with a lump in my throat. His hands were large and stubby. I can
see him now, as he used to enter the schoolroom, place his cane in a
corner and hang his coat on the peg, always with the same gesture. And
every day he was in the same humor,--always conscientious, full of good
will, and attentive, as though each day he were teaching school for the
first time. I remember him as well as though I heard him now when he
called to me: 'Bottini! eh, Bottini! The fore and middle fingers on that
pen!' He must have changed greatly in these four and forty years."

As soon as we reached Condove, we went in search of our old gardener's
wife of Chieri, who keeps a stall in an alley. We found her with her
boys: she made much of us and gave us news of her husband, who is soon
to return from Greece, where he has been working these three years; and
of her eldest daughter, who is in the Deaf-mute Institute in Turin. Then
she pointed out to us the street which led to the teacher's house,--for
every one knows him.

We left the town, and turned into a steep lane flanked by blossoming

My father no longer talked, but appeared entirely absorbed in his
reminiscences; and every now and then he smiled, and then shook his

Suddenly he halted and said: "Here he is. I will wager that this is he."
Down the lane towards us a little old man with a white beard and a large
hat was descending, leaning on a cane. He dragged his feet along, and
his hands trembled.

"It is he!" repeated my father, hastening his steps.

When we were close to him, we stopped. The old man stopped also and
looked at my father. His face was still fresh colored, and his eyes were
clear and vivacious.

"Are you," asked my father, raising his hat, "Vincenzo Crosetti, the

The old man raised his hat also, and replied: "I am," in a voice that
was somewhat tremulous, but full.

"Well, then," said my father, taking one of his hands, "permit one of
your old scholars to shake your hand and to inquire how you are. I have
come from Turin to see you."

The old man stared at him in amazement. Then he said: "You do me too
much honor. I do not know--When were you my scholar? Excuse me; your
name, if you please."

My father mentioned his name, Alberto Bottini, and the year in which he
had attended school, and where, and he added: "It is natural that you
should not remember me. But I recollect you so perfectly!"

The master bent his head and gazed at the ground in thought, and
muttered my father's name three or four times; the latter, meanwhile,
observed him with intent and smiling eyes.

All at once the old man raised his face, with his eyes opened widely,
and said slowly: "Alberto Bottini? the son of Bottini, the engineer? the
one who lived in the Piazza della Consolata?"

"The same," replied my father, extending his hands.

"Then," said the old man, "permit me, my dear sir, permit me"; and
advancing, he embraced my father: his white head hardly reached the
latter's shoulder. My father pressed his cheek to the other's brow.

"Have the goodness to come with me," said the teacher. And without
speaking further he turned about and took the road to his dwelling.

In a few minutes we arrived at a garden plot in front of a tiny house
with two doors, round one of which there was a fragment of whitewashed

The teacher opened the second and ushered us into a room. There were
four white walls: in one corner a cot bed with a blue and white checked
coverlet; in another, a small table with a little library; four chairs,
and one ancient geographical map nailed to the wall. A pleasant odor of
apples was perceptible.

We seated ourselves, all three. My father and his teacher remained
silent for several minutes.

"Bottini!" exclaimed the master at length, fixing his eyes on the brick
floor where the sunlight formed a checker-board. "Oh! I remember well!
Your mother was such a good woman! For a while, during your first year,
you sat on a bench to the left near the window. Let us see whether I do
not recall it. I can still see your curly head." Then he thought for a
while longer. "You were a lively lad, eh? Very. The second year you had
an attack of croup. I remember when they brought you back to school,
emaciated and wrapped up in a shawl. Forty years have elapsed since
then, have they not? You are very kind to remember your poor teacher.
And do you know, others of my old pupils have come hither in years gone
by to seek me out: there was a colonel, and there were some priests, and
several gentlemen." He asked my father what his profession was. Then he
said, "I am glad, heartily glad. I thank you. It is quite a while now
since I have seen any one. I very much fear that you will be the last,
my dear sir."

"Don't say that," exclaimed my father. "You are well and still vigorous.
You must not say that."

"Eh, no!" replied the master; "do you see this trembling?" and he showed
us his hands. "This is a bad sign. It seized on me three years ago,
while I was still teaching school. At first I paid no attention to it; I
thought it would pass off. But instead of that, it stayed and kept on
increasing. A day came when I could no longer write. Ah! that day on
which I, for the first time, made a blot on the copy-book of one of my
scholars was a stab in the heart for me, my dear sir. I did drag on for
a while longer; but I was at the end of my strength. After sixty years
of teaching I was forced to bid farewell to my school, to my scholars,
to work. And it was hard, you understand, hard. The last time that I
gave a lesson, all the scholars accompanied me home, and made much of
me; but I was sad; I understood that my life was finished. I had lost my
wife the year before, and my only son. I had only two peasant
grandchildren left. Now I am living on a pension of a few hundred lire.
I no longer do anything; it seems to me as though the days would never
come to an end. My only occupation, you see, is to turn over my old
schoolbooks, my scholastic journals, and a few volumes that have been
given to me. There they are," he said, indicating his little library;
"there are my reminiscences, my whole past; I have nothing else
remaining to me in the world."

Then in a tone that was suddenly joyous, "I want to give you a surprise,
my dear Signor Bottini."

He rose, and approaching his desk, he opened a long casket which
contained numerous little parcels, all tied up with a slender cord, and
on each was written a date in four figures.

After a little search, he opened one, turned over several papers, drew
forth a yellowed sheet, and handed it to my father. It was some of his
school work of forty years before.

At the top was written, _Alberto Bottini, Dictation, April 3, 1838_. My
father instantly recognized his own large, schoolboy hand, and began to
read it with a smile. But all at once his eyes grew moist. I rose and
inquired the cause.

He threw one arm around my body, and pressing me to his side, he said:
"Look at this sheet of paper. Do you see? These are the corrections made
by my poor mother. She always strengthened my _l_'s and my _t_'s. And
the last lines are entirely hers. She had learned to imitate my
characters; and when I was tired and sleepy, she finished my work for
me. My sainted mother!"

And he kissed the page.

"See here," said the teacher, showing him the other packages; "these are
my reminiscences. Each year I laid aside one piece of work of each of my
pupils; and they are all here, dated and arranged in order. Every time
that I open them thus, and read a line here and there, a thousand things
recur to my mind, and I seem to be living once more in the days that are
past. How many of them have passed, my dear sir! I close my eyes, and I
see behind me face after face, class after class, hundreds and hundreds
of boys, and who knows how many of them are already dead! Many of them I
remember well. I recall distinctly the best and the worst: those who
gave me the greatest pleasure, and those who caused me to pass sorrowful
moments; for I have had serpents, too, among that vast number! But now,
you understand, it is as though I were already in the other world, and I
love them all equally."

He sat down again, and took one of my hands in his.

"And tell me," my father said, with a smile, "do you not recall any
roguish tricks?"

"Of yours, sir?" replied the old man, also with a smile. "No; not just
at this moment. But that does not in the least mean that you never
played any. However, you had good judgment; you were serious for your
age. I remember the great affection of your mother for you. But it is
very kind and polite of you to have come to seek me out. How could you
leave your occupations, to come and see a poor old schoolmaster?"

"Listen, Signor Crosetti," responded my father with vivacity. "I
recollect the first time that my poor mother accompanied me to school.
It was to be her first parting from me for two hours; of letting me out
of the house alone, in other hands than my father's; in the hands of a
stranger, in short. To this good creature my entrance into school was
like my entrance into the world, the first of a long series of necessary
and painful separations; it was society which was tearing her son from
her for the first time, never again to return him to her intact. She was
much affected; so was I. I bade her farewell with a trembling voice, and
then, as she went away, I saluted her once more through the glass in the
door, with my eyes full of tears. And just at that point you made a
gesture with one hand, laying the other on your breast, as though to
say, 'Trust me, signora.' Well, the gesture, the glance, from which I
perceived that you had comprehended all the sentiments, all the thoughts
of my mother; that look which seemed to say, 'Courage!' that gesture
which was an honest promise of protection, of affection, of indulgence,
I have never forgotten; it has remained forever engraved on my heart;
and it is that memory which induced me to set out from Turin. And here I
am, after the lapse of four and forty years, for the purpose of saying
to you, 'Thanks, dear teacher.'"

The master did not reply; he stroked my hair with his hand, and his hand
trembled, and glided from my hair to my forehead, from my forehead to my

In the meanwhile, my father was surveying those bare walls, that
wretched bed, the morsel of bread and the little phial of oil which lay
on the window-sill, and he seemed desirous of saying, "Poor master!
after sixty years of teaching, is this all thy recompense?"

But the good old man was content, and began once more to talk with
vivacity of our family, of the other teachers of that day, and of my
father's schoolmates; some of them he remembered, and some of them he
did not; and each told the other news of this one or of that one. When
my father interrupted the conversation, to beg the old man to come down
into the town and lunch with us, he replied effusively, "I thank you, I
thank you," but he seemed undecided. My father took him by both hands,
and besought him afresh. "But how shall I manage to eat," said the
master, "with these poor hands which shake in this way? It is a penance
for others also."

"We will help you, master," said my father. And then he accepted, as he
shook his head and smiled.

"This is a beautiful day," he said, as he closed the outer door, "a
beautiful day, dear Signor Bottini! I assure you that I shall remember
it as long as I live."

My father gave one arm to the master, and the latter took me by the
hand, and we descended the lane. We met two little barefooted girls
leading some cows, and a boy who passed us on a run, with a huge load of
straw on his shoulders. The master told us that they were scholars of
the second grade; that in the morning they led the cattle to pasture,
and worked in the fields barefoot; and in the afternoon they put on
their shoes and went to school. It was nearly mid-day. We encountered no
one else. In a few minutes we reached the inn, seated ourselves at a
large table, with the master between us, and began our breakfast at
once. The inn was as silent as a convent. The master was very merry, and
his excitement augmented his palsy: he could hardly eat. But my father
cut up his meat, broke his bread, and put salt on his plate. In order to
drink, he was obliged to hold the glass with both hands, and even then
he struck his teeth. But he talked constantly, and with ardor, of the
reading-books of his young days; of the notaries of the present day; of
the commendations bestowed on him by his superiors; of the regulations
of late years: and all with that serene countenance, a trifle redder
than at first, and with that gay voice of his, and that laugh which was
almost the laugh of a young man. And my father gazed and gazed at him,
with that same expression with which I sometimes catch him gazing at me,
at home, when he is thinking and smiling to himself, with his face
turned aside.

The teacher allowed some wine to trickle down on his breast; my father
rose, and wiped it off with his napkin. "No, sir; I cannot permit this,"
the old man said, and smiled. He said some words in Latin. And, finally,
he raised his glass, which wavered about in his hand, and said very
gravely, "To your health, my dear engineer, to that of your children, to
the memory of your good mother!"

"To yours, my good master!" replied my father, pressing his hand. And at
the end of the room stood the innkeeper and several others, watching us,
and smiling as though they were pleased at this attention which was
being shown to the teacher from their parts.

At a little after two o'clock we came out, and the master wanted to
escort us to the station. My father gave him his arm once more, and he
again took me by the hand: I carried his cane for him. The people
paused to look on, for they all knew him: some saluted him. At one point
in the street we heard, through an open window, many boys' voices,
reading together, and spelling. The old man halted, and seemed to be
saddened by it.

"This, my dear Signor Bottini," he said, "is what pains me. To hear the
voices of boys in school, and not be there any more; to think that
another man is there. I have heard that music for sixty years, and I
have grown to love it. Now I am deprived of my family. I have no sons."

"No, master," my father said to him, starting on again; "you still have
many sons, scattered about the world, who remember you, as I have always
remembered you."

"No, no," replied the master sadly; "I have no longer a school; I have
no longer any sons. And without sons, I shall not live much longer. My
hour will soon strike."

"Do not say that, master; do not think it," said my father. "You have
done so much good in every way! You have put your life to such a noble

The aged master inclined his hoary head for an instant on my father's
shoulder, and pressed my hand.

We entered the station. The train was on the point of starting.

"Farewell, master!" said my father, kissing him on both cheeks.

"Farewell! thanks! farewell!" replied the master, taking one of my
father's hands in his two trembling hands, and pressing it to his heart.

Then I kissed him and felt that his face was bathed in tears. My father
pushed me into the railway carriage, and at the moment of starting he
quickly removed the coarse cane from the schoolmaster's hand, and in its
place he put his own handsome one, with a silver handle and his
initials, saying, "Keep it in memory of me."

The old man tried to return it and to recover his own; but my father was
already inside and had closed the door.

"Farewell, my kind master!"

"Farewell, my son!" responded the master as the train moved off; "and
may God bless you for the consolation which you have afforded to a poor
old man!"

"Until we meet again!" cried my father, in a voice full of emotion.

But the master shook his head, as much as to say, "We shall never see
each other more."

"Yes, yes," repeated my father, "until we meet again!"

And the other replied by raising his trembling hand to heaven, "Up

And thus he disappeared from our sight, with his hand on high.


    Thursday, 20th.

Who could have told me, when I returned from that delightful excursion
with my father, that for ten days I should not see the country or the
sky again? I have been very ill--in danger of my life. I have heard my
mother sobbing--I have seen my father very, very pale, gazing intently
at me; and my sister Silvia and my brother talking in a low voice; and
the doctor, with his spectacles, who was there every moment, and who
said things to me that I did not understand. In truth, I have been on
the verge of saying a final farewell to every one. Ah, my poor mother! I
passed three or four days at least, of which I recollect almost nothing,
as though I had been in a dark and perplexing dream. I thought I beheld
at my bedside my kind schoolmistress of the upper primary, who was
trying to stifle her cough in her handkerchief in order not to disturb
me. In the same manner I confusedly recall my master, who bent over to
kiss me, and who pricked my face a little with his beard; and I saw, as
in a mist, the red head of Crossi, the golden curls of Derossi, the
Calabrian clad in black, all pass by, and Garrone, who brought me a
mandarin orange with its leaves, and ran away in haste because his
mother is ill.

Then I awoke as from a very long dream, and understood that I was better
from seeing my father and mother smiling, and hearing Silvia singing
softly. Oh, what a sad dream it was! Then I began to improve every day.
The little mason came and made me laugh once more for the first time,
with his hare's face; and how well he does it, now that his face is
somewhat elongated through illness, poor fellow! And Coretti came; and
Garoffi came to present me with two tickets in his new lottery of "a
penknife with five surprises," which he purchased of a second-hand
dealer in the Via Bertola. Then, yesterday, while I was asleep, Precossi
came and laid his cheek on my hand without waking me; and as he came
from his father's workshop, with his face covered with coal dust, he
left a black print on my sleeve, the sight of which caused me great
pleasure when I awoke.

How green the trees have become in these few days! And how I envy the
boys whom I see running to school with their books when my father
carries me to the window! But I shall go back there soon myself. I am so
impatient to see all the boys once more, and my seat, the garden, the
streets; to know all that has taken place during the interval; to apply
myself to my books again, and to my copy-books, which I seem not to have
seen for a year! How pale and thin my poor mother has grown! Poor
father! how weary he looks! And my kind companions who came to see me
and walked on tiptoe and kissed my brow! It makes me sad, even now, to
think that one day we must part. Perhaps I shall continue my studies
with Derossi and with some others; but how about all the rest? When the
fourth grade is once finished, then good by! we shall never see each
other again: I shall never see them again at my bedside when I am
ill,--Garrone, Precossi, Coretti, who are such fine boys and kind and
dear comrades,--never more!


    Thursday, 20th.

     Why "never more," Enrico? That will depend on yourself. When you
     have finished the fourth grade, you will go to the Gymnasium, and
     they will become workingmen; but you will remain in the same city
     for many years, perhaps. Why, then, will you never meet again? When
     you are in the University or the Lyceum, you will seek them out in
     their shops or their workrooms, and it will be a great pleasure for
     you to meet the companions of your youth once more, as men at work.

     I should like to see you neglecting to look up Coretti or Precossi,
     wherever they may be! And you will go to them, and you will pass
     hours in their company, and you will see, when you come to study
     life and the world, how many things you can learn from them, which
     no one else is capable of teaching you, both about their arts and
     their society and your own country. And have a care; for if you do
     not preserve these friendships, it will be extremely difficult for
     you to acquire other similar ones in the future,--friendships, I
     mean to say, outside of the class to which you belong; and thus you
     will live in one class only; and the man who associates with but
     one social class is like the student who reads but one book.

     Let it be your firm resolve, then, from this day forth, that you
     will keep these good friends even after you shall be separated, and
     from this time forth, cultivate precisely these by preference
     because they are the sons of workingmen. You see, men of the upper
     classes are the officers, and men of the lower classes are the
     soldiers of toil; and thus in society as in the army, not only is
     the soldier no less noble than the officer, since nobility consists
     in work and not in wages, in valor and not in rank; but if there is
     also a superiority of merit, it is on the side of the soldier, of
     the workmen, who draw the lesser profit from the work. Therefore
     love and respect above all others, among your companions, the sons
     of the soldiers of labor; honor in them the toil and the sacrifices
     of their parents; disregard the differences of fortune and of
     class, upon which the base alone regulate their sentiments and
     courtesy; reflect that from the veins of laborers in the shops and
     in the country issued nearly all that blessed blood which has
     redeemed your country; love Garrone, love Coretti, love Precossi,
     love your little mason, who, in their little workingmen's breasts,
     possess the hearts of princes; and take an oath to yourself that no
     change of fortune shall ever eradicate these friendships of
     childhood from your soul. Swear to yourself that forty years hence,
     if, while passing through a railway station, you recognize your old
     Garrone in the garments of an engineer, with a black face,--ah! I
     cannot think what to tell you to swear. I am sure that you will
     jump upon the engine and fling your arms round his neck, though you
     were even a senator of the kingdom.



    Saturday, 29th.

On my return to school, the first thing I heard was some bad news.
Garrone had not been there for several days because his mother was
seriously ill. She died on Saturday. Yesterday morning, as soon as we
came into school, the teacher said to us:--

"The greatest misfortune that can happen to a boy has happened to poor
Garrone: his mother is dead. He will return to school to-morrow. I
beseech you now, boys, respect the terrible sorrow that is now rending
his soul. When he enters, greet him with affection, and gravely; let no
one jest, let no one laugh at him, I beg of you."

And this morning poor Garrone came in, a little later than the rest; I
felt a blow at my heart at the sight of him. His face was haggard, his
eyes were red, and he was unsteady on his feet; it seemed as though he
had been ill for a month. I hardly recognized him; he was dressed all in
black; he aroused our pity. No one even breathed; all gazed at him. No
sooner had he entered than at the first sight of that schoolroom whither
his mother had come to get him nearly every day, of that bench over
which she had bent on so many examination days to give him a last bit of
advice, and where he had so many times thought of her, in his impatience
to run out and meet her, he burst into a desperate fit of weeping. The
teacher drew him aside to his own place, and pressed him to his breast,
and said to him:--

"Weep, weep, my poor boy; but take courage. Your mother is no longer
here; but she sees you, she still loves you, she still lives by your
side, and one day you will behold her once again, for you have a good
and upright soul like her own. Take courage!"

Having said this, he accompanied him to the bench near me. I dared not
look at him. He drew out his copy-books and his books, which he had not
opened for many days, and as he opened the reading-book at a place where
there was a cut representing a mother leading her son by the hand, he
burst out crying again, and laid his head on his arm. The master made us
a sign to leave him thus, and began the lesson. I should have liked to
say something to him, but I did not know what. I laid one hand on his
arm, and whispered in his ear:--

"Don't cry, Garrone."

He made no reply, and without raising his head from the bench he laid
his hand on mine and kept it there a while. At the close of school, no
one addressed him; all the boys hovered round him respectfully, and in
silence. I saw my mother waiting for me, and ran to embrace her; but she
repulsed me, and gazed at Garrone. For the moment I could not understand
why; but then I perceived that Garrone was standing apart by himself and
gazing at me; and he was gazing at me with a look of indescribable
sadness, which seemed to say: "You are embracing your mother, and I
shall never embrace mine again! You have still a mother, and mine is
dead!" And then I understood why my mother had thrust me back, and I
went out without taking her hand.


    Saturday, 29th.

This morning, also, Garrone came to school with a pale face and his eyes
swollen with weeping, and he hardly cast a glance at the little gifts
which we had placed on his desk to console him. But the teacher had
brought a page from a book to read to him in order to encourage him. He
first informed us that we are to go to-morrow at one o'clock to the
town-hall to witness the award of the medal for civic valor to a boy who
has saved a little child from the Po, and that on Monday he will dictate
the description of the festival to us instead of the monthly story. Then
turning to Garrone, who was standing with drooping head, he said to

"Make an effort, Garrone, and write down what I dictate to you as well
as the rest."

We all took our pens, and the teacher dictated.

"Giuseppe Mazzini, born in Genoa in 1805, died in Pisa in 1872, a grand,
patriotic soul, the mind of a great writer, the first inspirer and
apostle of the Italian Revolution; who, out of love for his country,
lived for forty years poor, exiled, persecuted, a fugitive heroically
steadfast in his principles and in his resolutions. Giuseppe Mazzini,
who adored his mother, and who derived from her all that there was
noblest and purest in her strong and gentle soul, wrote as follows to a
faithful friend of his, to console him in the greatest of misfortunes.
These are almost his exact words:--

"'My friend, thou wilt never more behold thy mother on this earth. That
is the terrible truth. I do not attempt to see thee, because thine is
one of those solemn and sacred sorrows which each must suffer and
conquer for himself. Dost thou understand what I mean to convey by these
words, _It is necessary to conquer sorrow_--to conquer the least sacred,
the least purifying part of sorrow, that which, instead of rendering the
soul better, weakens and debases it? But the other part of sorrow, the
noble part--that which enlarges and elevates the soul--that must remain
with thee and never leave thee more. Nothing here below can take the
place of a good mother. In the griefs, in the consolations which life
may still bring to thee, thou wilt never forget her. But thou must
recall her, love her, mourn her death, in a manner which is worthy of
her. O my friend, hearken to me! Death exists not; it is nothing. It
cannot even be understood. Life is life, and it follows the law of
life--progress. Yesterday thou hadst a mother on earth; to-day thou hast
an angel elsewhere. All that is good will survive the life of earth with
increased power. Hence, also, the love of thy mother. She loves thee now
more than ever. And thou art responsible for thy actions to her more,
even, than before. It depends upon thee, upon thy actions, to meet her
once more, to see her in another existence. Thou must, therefore, out of
love and reverence for thy mother, grow better and cause her joy for
thee. Henceforth thou must say to thyself at every act of thine, "Would
my mother approve this?" Her transformation has placed a guardian angel
in the world for thee, to whom thou must refer in all thy affairs, in
everything that pertains to thee. Be strong and brave; fight against
desperate and vulgar grief; have the tranquillity of great suffering in
great souls; and that it is what she would have.'"

"Garrone," added the teacher, "_be strong and tranquil, for that is what
she would have_. Do you understand?"

Garrone nodded assent, while great and fast-flowing tears streamed over
his hands, his copy-book, and his desk.


(_Monthly Story._)

At one o'clock we went with our schoolmaster to the front of the
town-hall, to see the medal for civic valor bestowed on the lad who
saved one of his comrades from the Po.

On the front terrace waved a huge tricolored flag.

We entered the courtyard of the palace.

It was already full of people. At the further end of it there was
visible a table with a red cover, and papers on it, and behind it a row
of gilded chairs for the mayor and the council; the ushers of the
municipality were there, with their under-waistcoats of sky-blue and
their white stockings. To the right of the courtyard a detachment of
policemen, who had a great many medals, was drawn up in line; and beside
them a detachment of custom-house officers; on the other side were the
firemen in festive array; and numerous soldiers not in line, who had
come to look on,--cavalrymen, sharpshooters, artillery-men. Then all
around were gentlemen, country people, and some officers and women and
boys who had assembled. We crowded into a corner where many scholars
from other buildings were already collected with their teachers; and
near us was a group of boys belonging to the common people, between ten
and eighteen years of age, who were talking and laughing loudly; and we
made out that they were all from Borgo Po, comrades or acquaintances of
the boy who was to receive the medal. Above, all the windows were
thronged with the employees of the city government; the balcony of the
library was also filled with people, who pressed against the balustrade;
and in the one on the opposite side, which is over the entrance gate,
stood a crowd of girls from the public schools, and many _Daughters of
military men_, with their pretty blue veils. It looked like a theatre.
All were talking merrily, glancing every now and then at the red table,
to see whether any one had made his appearance. A band of music was
playing softly at the extremity of the portico. The sun beat down on the
lofty walls. It was beautiful.

All at once every one began to clap their hands, from the courtyard,
from the balconies, from the windows.

I raised myself on tiptoe to look.

The crowd which stood behind the red table had parted, and a man and
woman had come forward. The man was leading a boy by the hand.

This was the lad who had saved his comrade.

The man was his father, a mason, dressed in his best. The woman, his
mother, small and blond, had on a black gown. The boy, also small and
blond, had on a gray jacket.

At the sight of all those people, and at the sound of that thunder of
applause, all three stood still, not daring to look nor to move. A
municipal usher pushed them along to the side of the table on the

All remained quiet for a moment, and then once more the applause broke
out on all sides. The boy glanced up at the windows, and then at the
balcony with the _Daughters of military men_; he held his cap in his
hand, and did not seem to understand very thoroughly where he was. It
struck me that he looked a little like Coretti, in the face; but he was
redder. His father and mother kept their eyes fixed on the table.

In the meantime, all the boys from Borgo Po who were near us were making
motions to their comrade, to attract his attention, and hailing him in a
low tone: _Pin! Pin! Pinot!_ By dint of calling they made themselves
heard. The boy glanced at them, and hid his smile behind his cap.

At a certain moment the guards put themselves in the attitude of

The mayor entered, accompanied by numerous gentlemen.

The mayor, all white, with a big tricolored scarf, placed himself beside
the table, standing; all the others took their places behind and beside

The band ceased playing; the mayor made a sign, and every one kept

He began to speak. I did not understand the first words perfectly; but I
gathered that he was telling the story of the boy's feat. Then he raised
his voice, and it rang out so clear and sonorous through the whole
court, that I did not lose another word: "When he saw, from the shore,
his comrade struggling in the river, already overcome with the fear of
death, he tore the clothes from his back, and hastened to his
assistance, without hesitating an instant. They shouted to him, 'You
will be drowned!'--he made no reply; they caught hold of him--he freed
himself; they called him by name--he was already in the water. The
river was swollen; the risk terrible, even for a man. But he flung
himself to meet death with all the strength of his little body and of
his great heart; he reached the unfortunate fellow and seized him just
in time, when he was already under water, and dragged him to the
surface; he fought furiously with the waves, which strove to overwhelm
him, with his companion who tried to cling to him; and several times he
disappeared beneath the water, and rose again with a desperate effort;
obstinate, invincible in his purpose, not like a boy who was trying to
save another boy, but like a man, like a father who is struggling to
save his son, who is his hope and his life. In short, God did not permit
so generous a prowess to be displayed in vain. The child swimmer tore
the victim from the gigantic river, and brought him to land, and with
the assistance of others, rendered him his first succor; after which he
returned home quietly and alone, and ingenuously narrated his deed.

"Gentlemen, beautiful, and worthy of veneration is heroism in a man! But
in a child, in whom there can be no prompting of ambition or of profit
whatever; in a child, who must have all the more ardor in proportion as
he has less strength; in a child, from whom we require nothing, who is
bound to nothing, who already appears to us so noble and lovable, not
when he acts, but when he merely understands, and is grateful for the
sacrifices of others;--in a child, heroism is divine! I will say nothing
more, gentlemen. I do not care to deck, with superfluous praises, such
simple grandeur. Here before you stands the noble and valorous rescuer.
Soldier, greet him as a brother; mothers, bless him like a son;
children, remember his name, engrave on your minds his visage, that it
may nevermore be erased from your memories and from your hearts.
Approach, my boy. In the name of the king of Italy, I give you the medal
for civic valor."

An extremely loud hurrah, uttered at the same moment by many voices,
made the palace ring.

The mayor took the medal from the table, and fastened it on the boy's
breast. Then he embraced and kissed him. The mother placed one hand over
her eyes; the father held his chin on his breast.

The mayor shook hands with both; and taking the decree of decoration,
which was bound with a ribbon, he handed it to the woman.

Then he turned to the boy again, and said: "May the memory of this day,
which is such a glorious one for you, such a happy one for your father
and mother, keep you all your life in the path of virtue and honor!

The mayor withdrew, the band struck up, and everything seemed to be at
an end, when the detachment of firemen opened, and a lad of eight or
nine years, pushed forwards by a woman who instantly concealed herself,
rushed towards the boy with the decoration, and flung himself in his

Another outburst of hurrahs and applause made the courtyard echo; every
one had instantly understood that this was the boy who had been saved
from the Po, and who had come to thank his rescuer. After kissing him,
he clung to one arm, in order to accompany him out. These two, with the
father and mother following behind, took their way towards the door,
making a path with difficulty among the people who formed in line to let
them pass,--policemen, boys, soldiers, women, all mingled together in
confusion. All pressed forwards and raised on tiptoe to see the boy.
Those who stood near him as he passed, touched his hand. When he passed
before the schoolboys, they all waved their caps in the air. Those from
Borgo Po made a great uproar, pulling him by the arms and by his jacket
and shouting. "_Pin! hurrah for Pin! bravo, Pinot!_" I saw him pass very
close to me. His face was all aflame and happy; his medal had a red,
white, and green ribbon. His mother was crying and smiling; his father
was twirling his mustache with one hand, which trembled violently, as
though he had a fever. And from the windows and the balconies the people
continued to lean out and applaud. All at once, when they were on the
point of entering the portico, there descended from the balcony of the
_Daughters of military men_ a veritable shower of pansies, of bunches of
violets and daisies, which fell upon the head of the boy, and of his
father and mother, and scattered over the ground. Many people stooped to
pick them up and hand them to the mother. And the band at the further
end of the courtyard played, very, very softly, a most entrancing air,
which seemed like a song by a great many silver voices fading slowly
into the distance on the banks of a river.



    Friday, 5th.

TO-DAY I took a vacation, because I was not well, and my mother took me
to the Institution for Children with the Rickets, whither she went to
recommend a child belonging to our porter; but she did not allow me to
go into the school.

     You did not understand, Enrico, why I did not permit you to enter?
     In order not to place before the eyes of those unfortunates, there
     in the midst of the school, as though on exhibition, a healthy,
     robust boy: they have already but too many opportunities for making
     melancholy comparisons. What a sad thing! Tears rushed from my
     heart when I entered. There were sixty of them, boys and girls.
     Poor tortured bones! Poor hands, poor little shrivelled and
     distorted feet! Poor little deformed bodies! I instantly perceived
     many charming faces, with eyes full of intelligence and affection.
     There was one little child's face with a pointed nose and a sharp
     chin, which seemed to belong to an old woman; but it wore a smile
     of celestial sweetness. Some, viewed from the front, are handsome,
     and appear to be without defects: but when they turn round--they
     cast a weight upon your soul. The doctor was there, visiting them.
     He set them upright on their benches and pulled up their little
     garments, to feel their little swollen stomachs and enlarged
     joints; but they felt not the least shame, poor creatures! it was
     evident that they were children who were used to being undressed,
     examined, turned round on all sides. And to think that they are now
     in the best stage of their malady, when they hardly suffer at all
     any more! But who can say what they suffered during the first
     stage, while their bodies were undergoing the process of
     deformation, when with the increase of their infirmity, they saw
     affection decrease around them, poor children! saw themselves left
     alone for hour after hour in a corner of the room or the courtyard,
     badly nourished, and at times scoffed at, or tormented for months
     by bandages and by useless orthopedic apparatus! Now, however,
     thanks to care and good food and gymnastic exercises, many are
     improving. Their schoolmistress makes them practise gymnastics. It
     was a pitiful sight to see them, at a certain command, extend all
     those bandaged legs under the benches, squeezed as they were
     between splints, knotty and deformed; legs which should have been
     covered with kisses! Some could not rise from the bench, and
     remained there, with their heads resting on their arms, caressing
     their crutches with their hands; others, on making the thrust with
     their arms, felt their breath fail them, and fell back on their
     seats, all pale; but they smiled to conceal their panting. Ah,
     Enrico! you other children do not prize your good health, and it
     seems to you so small a thing to be well! I thought of the strong
     and thriving lads, whom their mothers carry about in triumph, proud
     of their beauty; and I could have clasped all those poor little
     heads, I could have pressed them to my heart, in despair; I could
     have said, had I been alone, "I will never stir from here again; I
     wish to consecrate my life to you, to serve you, to be a mother to
     you all, to my last day." And in the meantime, they sang; sang in
     peculiar, thin, sweet, sad voices, which penetrated the soul; and
     when their teacher praised them, they looked happy; and as she
     passed among the benches, they kissed her hands and wrists; for
     they are very grateful for what is done for them, and very
     affectionate. And these little angels have good minds, and study
     well, the teacher told me. The teacher is young and gentle, with a
     face full of kindness, a certain expression of sadness, like a
     reflection of the misfortunes which she caresses and comforts. The
     dear girl! Among all the human creatures who earn their livelihood
     by toil, there is not one who earns it more holily than thou, my



    Tuesday, 9th.

My mother is good, and my sister Silvia is like her, and has a large and
noble heart. Yesterday evening I was copying a part of the monthly
story, _From the Apennines to the Andes_,--which the teacher has
distributed among us all in small portions to copy, because it is so
long,--when Silvia entered on tiptoe, and said to me hastily, and in a
low voice: "Come to mamma with me. I heard them talking together this
morning: some affair has gone wrong with papa, and he was sad; mamma was
encouraging him: we are in difficulties--do you understand? We have no
more money. Papa said that it would be necessary to make some sacrifices
in order to recover himself. Now we must make sacrifices, too, must we
not? Are you ready to do it? Well, I will speak to mamma, and do you nod
assent, and promise her on your honor that you will do everything that I
shall say."

Having said this, she took me by the hand and led me to our mother, who
was sewing, absorbed in thought. I sat down on one end of the sofa,
Silvia on the other, and she immediately said:--

"Listen, mamma, I have something to say to you. Both of us have
something to say to you." Mamma stared at us in surprise, and Silvia

"Papa has no money, has he?"

"What are you saying?" replied mamma, turning crimson. "Has he not
indeed! What do you know about it? Who has told you?"

"I know it," said Silvia, resolutely. "Well, then, listen, mamma; we
must make some sacrifices, too. You promised me a fan at the end of May,
and Enrico expected his box of paints; we don't want anything now; we
don't want to waste a soldo; we shall be just as well pleased--you

Mamma tried to speak; but Silvia said: "No; it must be thus. We have
decided. And until papa has money again, we don't want any fruit or
anything else; broth will be enough for us, and we will eat bread in the
morning for breakfast: thus we shall spend less on the table, for we
already spend too much; and we promise you that you will always find us
perfectly contented. Is it not so, Enrico?"

I replied that it was. "Always perfectly contented," repeated Silvia,
closing mamma's mouth with one hand. "And if there are any other
sacrifices to be made, either in the matter of clothing or anything
else, we will make them gladly; and we will even sell our presents; I
will give up all my things, I will serve you as your maid, we will not
have anything done out of the house any more, I will work all day long
with you, I will do everything you wish, I am ready for anything! For
anything!" she exclaimed, throwing her arms around my mother's neck, "if
papa and mamma can only be saved further troubles, if I can only behold
you both once more at ease, and in good spirits, as in former days,
between your Silvia and your Enrico, who love you so dearly, who would
give their lives for you!"

Ah! I have never seen my mother so happy as she was on hearing these
words; she never before kissed us on the brow in that way, weeping and
laughing, and incapable of speech. And then she assured Silvia that she
had not understood rightly; that we were not in the least reduced in
circumstances, as she imagined; and she thanked us a hundred times, and
was cheerful all the evening, until my father came in, when she told him
all about it. He did not open his mouth, poor father! But this morning,
as we sat at the table, I felt at once both a great pleasure and a great
sadness: under my napkin I found my box of colors, and under hers,
Silvia found her fan.


    Thursday, 11th.

This morning I had finished copying my share of the story, _From the
Apennines to the Andes_, and was seeking for a theme for the independent
composition which the teacher had assigned us to write, when I heard an
unusual talking on the stairs, and shortly after two firemen entered the
house, and asked permission of my father to inspect the stoves and
chimneys, because a smoke-pipe was on fire on the roof, and they could
not tell to whom it belonged.

My father said, "Pray do so." And although we had no fire burning
anywhere, they began to make the round of our apartments, and to lay
their ears to the walls, to hear if the fire was roaring in the flues
which run up to the other floors of the house.

And while they were going through the rooms, my father said to me, "Here
is a theme for your composition, Enrico,--the firemen. Try to write down
what I am about to tell you.

"I saw them at work two years ago, one evening, when I was coming out of
the Balbo Theatre late at night. On entering the Via Roma, I saw an
unusual light, and a crowd of people collecting. A house was on fire.
Tongues of flame and clouds of smoke were bursting from the windows and
the roof; men and women appeared at the windows and then disappeared,
uttering shrieks of despair. There was a dense throng in front of the
door: the crowd was shouting: 'They will be burned alive! Help! The
firemen!' At that moment a carriage arrived, four firemen sprang out of
it--the first who had reached the town-hall--and rushed into the house.
They had hardly gone in when a horrible thing happened: a woman ran to a
window of the third story, with a yell, clutched the balcony, climbed
down it, and remained suspended, thus clinging, almost suspended in
space, with her back outwards, bending beneath the flames, which flashed
out from the room and almost licked her head. The crowd uttered a cry of
horror. The firemen, who had been stopped on the second floor by mistake
by the terrified lodgers, had already broken through a wall and
precipitated themselves into a room, when a hundred shouts gave them

"'On the third floor! On the third floor!'

"They flew to the third floor. There there was an infernal
uproar,--beams from the roof crashing in, corridors filled with a
suffocating smoke. In order to reach the rooms where the lodgers were
imprisoned, there was no other way left but to pass over the roof. They
instantly sprang upon it, and a moment later something which resembled a
black phantom appeared on the tiles, in the midst of the smoke. It was
the corporal, who had been the first to arrive. But in order to get
from the roof to the small set of rooms cut off by the fire, he was
forced to pass over an extremely narrow space comprised between a dormer
window and the eavestrough: all the rest was in flames, and that tiny
space was covered with snow and ice, and there was no place to hold on

"'It is impossible for him to pass!' shouted the crowd below.

"The corporal advanced along the edge of the roof. All shuddered, and
began to observe him with bated breath. He passed. A tremendous hurrah
rose towards heaven. The corporal resumed his way, and on arriving at
the point which was threatened, he began to break away, with furious
blows of his axe, beams, tiles, and rafters, in order to open a hole
through which he might descend within.

"In the meanwhile, the woman was still suspended outside the window. The
fire raged with increased violence over her head; another moment, and
she would have fallen into the street.

"The hole was opened. We saw the corporal pull off his shoulder-belt and
lower himself inside: the other firemen, who had arrived, followed.

"At that instant a very lofty Porta ladder, which had just arrived, was
placed against the entablature of the house, in front of the windows
whence issued flames, and howls, as of maniacs. But it seemed as though
they were too late.

"'No one can be saved now!' they shouted. 'The firemen are burning! The
end has come! They are dead!'

"All at once the black form of the corporal made its appearance at the
window with the balcony, lighted up by the flames overhead. The woman
clasped him round the neck; he caught her round the body with both
arms, drew her up, and laid her down inside the room.

"The crowd set up a shout a thousand voices strong, which rose above the
roar of the conflagration.

"But the others? And how were they to get down? The ladder which leaned
against the roof on the front of another window was at a good distance
from them. How could they get hold of it?

"While the people were saying this to themselves, one of the firemen
stepped out of the window, set his right foot on the window-sill and his
left on the ladder, and standing thus upright in the air, he grasped the
lodgers, one after the other, as the other men handed them to him from
within, passed them on to a comrade, who had climbed up from the street,
and who, after securing a firm grasp for them on the rungs, sent them
down, one after the other, with the assistance of more firemen.

"First came the woman of the balcony, then a baby, then another woman,
then an old man. All were saved. After the old man, the fireman who had
remained inside descended. The last to come down was the corporal who
had been the first to hasten up. The crowd received them all with a
burst of applause; but when the last made his appearance, the vanguard
of the rescuers, the one who had faced the abyss in advance of the rest,
the one who would have perished had it been fated that one should
perish, the crowd saluted him like a conqueror, shouting and stretching
out their arms, with an affectionate impulse of admiration and of
gratitude, and in a few minutes his obscure name--Giuseppe Robbino--rang
from a thousand throats.

"Have you understood? That is courage--the courage of the heart, which
does not reason, which does not waver, which dashes blindly on, like a
lightning flash, wherever it hears the cry of a dying man. One of these
days I will take you to the exercises of the firemen, and I will point
out to you Corporal Robbino; for you would be very glad to know him,
would you not?"

I replied that I should.

"Here he is," said my father.

I turned round with a start. The two firemen, having completed their
inspection, were traversing the room in order to reach the door.

My father pointed to the smaller of the men, who had straps of gold
braid, and said, "Shake hands with Corporal Robbino."

The corporal halted, and offered me his hand; I pressed it; he made a
salute and withdrew.

"And bear this well in mind," said my father; "for out of the thousands
of hands which you will shake in the course of your life there will
probably not be ten which possess the worth of his."


(_Monthly Story._)

Many years ago a Genoese lad of thirteen, the son of a workingman, went
from Genoa to America all alone to seek his mother.

His mother had gone two years before to Buenos Ayres, a city, the
capital of the Argentine Republic, to take service in a wealthy family,
and to thus earn in a short time enough to place her family once more in
easy circumstances, they having fallen, through various misfortunes,
into poverty and debt. There are courageous women--not a few--who take
this long voyage with this object in view, and who, thanks to the large
wages which people in service receive there, return home at the end of a
few years with several thousand lire. The poor mother had wept tears of
blood at parting from her children,--the one aged eighteen, the other,
eleven; but she had set out courageously and filled with hope.

The voyage was prosperous: she had no sooner arrived at Buenos Ayres
than she found, through a Genoese shopkeeper, a cousin of her husband,
who had been established there for a very long time, a good Argentine
family, which gave high wages and treated her well. And for a short time
she kept up a regular correspondence with her family. As it had been
settled between them, her husband addressed his letters to his cousin,
who transmitted them to the woman, and the latter handed her replies to
him, and he despatched them to Genoa, adding a few lines of his own. As
she was earning eighty lire a month and spending nothing for herself,
she sent home a handsome sum every three months, with which her husband,
who was a man of honor, gradually paid off their most urgent debts, and
thus regained his good reputation. And in the meantime, he worked away
and was satisfied with the state of his affairs, since he also cherished
the hope that his wife would shortly return; for the house seemed empty
without her, and the younger son in particular, who was extremely
attached to his mother, was very much depressed, and could not resign
himself to having her so far away.

But a year had elapsed since they had parted; after a brief letter, in
which she said that her health was not very good, they heard nothing
more. They wrote twice to the cousin; the cousin did not reply. They
wrote to the Argentine family where the woman was at service; but it is
possible that the letter never reached them, for they had distorted the
name in addressing it: they received no answer. Fearing a misfortune,
they wrote to the Italian Consulate at Buenos Ayres to have inquiries
made, and after a lapse of three months they received a response from
the consul, that in spite of advertisements in the newspapers no one had
presented herself nor sent any word. And it could not have happened
otherwise, for this reason if for no other: that with the idea of
sparing the good name of her family, which she fancied she was
discrediting by becoming a servant, the good woman had not given her
real name to the Argentine family.

Several months more passed by; no news. The father and sons were in
consternation; the youngest was oppressed by a melancholy which he could
not conquer. What was to be done? To whom should they have recourse? The
father's first thought had been to set out, to go to America in search
of his wife. But his work? Who would support his sons? And neither could
the eldest son go, for he had just then begun to earn something, and he
was necessary to the family. And in this anxiety they lived, repeating
each day the same sad speeches, or gazing at each other in silence;
when, one evening, Marco, the youngest, declared with decision, "I am
going to America to look for my mother."

His father shook his head sadly and made no reply. It was an
affectionate thought, but an impossible thing. To make a journey to
America, which required a month, alone, at the age of thirteen! But the
boy patiently insisted. He persisted that day, the day after, every
day, with great calmness, reasoning with the good sense of a man.
"Others have gone thither," he said; "and smaller boys than I, too. Once
on board the ship, I shall get there like anybody else. Once arrived
there, I only have to hunt up our cousin's shop. There are plenty of
Italians there who will show me the street. After finding our cousin, my
mother is found; and if I do not find him, I will go to the consul: I
will search out that Argentine family. Whatever happens, there is work
for all there; I shall find work also; sufficient, at least, to earn
enough to get home." And thus little by little he almost succeeded in
persuading his father. His father esteemed him; he knew that he had good
judgment and courage; that he was inured to privations and to
sacrifices; and that all these good qualities had acquired double force
in his heart in consequence of the sacred project of finding his mother,
whom he adored. In addition to this, the captain of a steamer, the
friend of an acquaintance of his, having heard the plan mentioned,
undertook to procure a free third-class passage for the Argentine

And then, after a little hesitation, the father gave his consent. The
voyage was decided on. They filled a sack with clothes for him, put a
few crowns in his pocket, and gave him the address of the cousin; and
one fine evening in April they saw him on board.

"Marco, my son," his father said to him, as he gave him his last kiss,
with tears in his eyes, on the steps of the steamer, which was on the
point of starting, "take courage. Thou hast set out on a holy
undertaking, and God will aid thee."

Poor Marco! His heart was strong and prepared for the hardest trials of
this voyage; but when he beheld his beautiful Genoa disappear on the
horizon, and found himself on the open sea on that huge steamer thronged
with emigrating peasants, alone, unacquainted with any one, with that
little bag which held his entire fortune, a sudden discouragement
assailed him. For two days he remained crouching like a dog on the bows,
hardly eating, and oppressed with a great desire to weep. Every
description of sad thoughts passed through his mind, and the saddest,
the most terrible, was the one which was the most persistent in its
return,--the thought that his mother was dead. In his broken and painful
slumbers he constantly beheld a strange face, which surveyed him with an
air of compassion, and whispered in his ear, "Your mother is dead!" And
then he awoke, stifling a shriek.

Nevertheless, after passing the Straits of Gibraltar, at the first sight
of the Atlantic Ocean he recovered his spirits a little, and his hope.
But it was only a brief respite. That vast but always smooth sea, the
increasing heat, the misery of all those poor people who surrounded him,
the consciousness of his own solitude, overwhelmed him once more. The
empty and monotonous days which succeeded each other became confounded
in his memory, as is the case with sick people. It seemed to him that he
had been at sea a year. And every morning, on waking, he felt surprised
afresh at finding himself there alone on that vast watery expanse, on
his way to America. The beautiful flying fish which fell on deck every
now and then, the marvellous sunsets of the tropics, with their enormous
clouds colored like flame and blood, and those nocturnal
phosphorescences which make the ocean seem all on fire like a sea of
lava, did not produce on him the effect of real things, but of marvels
beheld in a dream. There were days of bad weather, during which he
remained constantly in the dormitory, where everything was rolling and
crashing, in the midst of a terrible chorus of lamentations and
imprecations, and he thought that his last hour had come. There were
other days, when the sea was calm and yellowish, of insupportable heat,
of infinite tediousness; interminable and wretched hours, during which
the enervated passengers, stretched motionless on the planks, seemed all
dead. And the voyage was endless: sea and sky, sky and sea; to-day the
same as yesterday, to-morrow like to-day, and so on, always, eternally.

And for long hours he stood leaning on the bulwarks, gazing at that
interminable sea in amazement, thinking vaguely of his mother, until his
eyes closed and his head was drooping with sleep; and then again he
beheld that unknown face which gazed upon him with an air of compassion,
and repeated in his ear, "Your mother is dead!" and at the sound of that
voice he awoke with a start, to resume his dreaming with wide-open eyes,
and to gaze at the unchanging horizon.

The voyage lasted twenty-seven days. But the last days were the best.
The weather was fine, and the air cool. He had made the acquaintance of
a good old man, a Lombard, who was going to America to find his son, an
agriculturist in the vicinity of the town of Rosario; he had told him
his whole story, and the old man kept repeating every little while, as
he tapped him on the nape of the neck with his hand, "Courage, my lad;
you will find your mother well and happy."

This companionship comforted him; his sad presentiments were turned into
joyous ones. Seated on the bow, beside the aged peasant, who was smoking
his pipe, beneath the beautiful starry heaven, in the midst of a group
of singing peasants, he imagined to himself in his own mind a hundred
times his arrival at Buenos Ayres; he saw himself in a certain street;
he found the shop, he flew to his cousin. "How is my mother? Come, let
us go at once! Let us go at once!" They hurried on together; they
ascended a staircase; a door opened. And here his mute soliloquy came to
an end; his imagination was swallowed up in a feeling of inexpressible
tenderness, which made him secretly pull forth a little medal that he
wore on his neck, and murmur his prayers as he kissed it.

On the twenty-seventh day after their departure they arrived. It was a
beautiful, rosy May morning, when the steamer cast anchor in the immense
river of the Plata, near the shore along which stretches the vast city
of Buenos Ayres, the capital of the Argentine Republic. This splendid
weather seemed to him to be a good augury. He was beside himself with
joy and impatience. His mother was only a few miles from him! In a few
hours more he would have seen her! He was in America, in the new world,
and he had had the daring to come alone! The whole of that extremely
long voyage now seemed to him to have passed in an instant. It seemed to
him that he had flown hither in a dream, and that he had that moment
waked. And he was so happy, that he hardly experienced any surprise or
distress when he felt in his pockets and found only one of the two
little heaps into which he had divided his little treasure, in order to
be the more sure of not losing the whole of it. He had been robbed; he
had only a few lire left; but what mattered that to him, when he was
near his mother? With his bag in his hand, he descended, in company
with many other Italians, to the tug-boat which carried him within a
short distance of the shore; clambered down from the tug into a boat
which bore the name of _Andrea Doria_; was landed on the wharf; saluted
his old Lombard friend, and directed his course, in long strides,
towards the city.

On arriving at the entrance of the first street, he stopped a man who
was passing by, and begged him to show him in what direction he should
go in order to reach the street of _los Artes_. He chanced to have
stopped an Italian workingman. The latter surveyed him with curiosity,
and inquired if he knew how to read. The lad nodded, "Yes."

"Well, then," said the laborer, pointing to the street from which he had
just emerged, "keep straight on through there, reading the names of all
the streets on the corners; you will end by finding the one you want."

The boy thanked him, and turned into the street which opened before him.

It was a straight and endless but narrow street, bordered by low white
houses, which looked like so many little villas, filled with people,
with carriages, with carts which made a deafening noise; here and there
floated enormous banners of various hues, with announcements as to the
departure of steamers for strange cities inscribed upon them in large
letters. At every little distance along the street, on the right and
left, he perceived two other streets which ran straight away as far as
he could see, also bordered by low white houses, filled with people and
vehicles, and bounded at their extremity by the level line of the
measureless plains of America, like the horizon at sea. The city seemed
infinite to him; it seemed to him that he might wander for days or
weeks, seeing other streets like these, on one hand and on the other,
and that all America must be covered with them. He looked attentively at
the names of the streets: strange names which cost him an effort to
read. At every fresh street, he felt his heart beat, at the thought that
it was the one he was in search of. He stared at all the women, with the
thought that he might meet his mother. He caught sight of one in front
of him who made his blood leap; he overtook her: she was a negro. And
accelerating his pace, he walked on and on. On arriving at the
cross-street, he read, and stood as though rooted to the sidewalk. It
was the street _del los Artes_. He turned into it, and saw the number
117; his cousin's shop was No. 175. He quickened his pace still more,
and almost ran; at No. 171 he had to pause to regain his breath. And he
said to himself, "O my mother! my mother! It is really true that I shall
see you in another moment!" He ran on; he arrived at a little
haberdasher's shop. This was it. He stepped up close to it. He saw a
woman with gray hair and spectacles.

"What do you want, boy?" she asked him in Spanish.

"Is not this," said the boy, making an effort to utter a sound, "the
shop of Francesco Merelli?"

"Francesco Merelli is dead," replied the woman in Italian.

The boy felt as though he had received a blow on his breast.

"When did he die?"

"Eh? quite a while ago," replied the woman. "Months ago. His affairs
were in a bad state, and he ran away. They say he went to Bahia Blanca,
very far from here. And he died just after he reached there. The shop
is mine."

The boy turned pale.

Then he said quickly, "Merelli knew my mother; my mother who was at
service with Signor Mequinez. He alone could tell me where she is. I
have come to America to find my mother. Merelli sent her our letters. I
must find my mother."

"Poor boy!" said the woman; "I don't know. I can ask the boy in the
courtyard. He knew the young man who did Merelli's errands. He may be
able to tell us something."

She went to the end of the shop and called the lad, who came instantly.
"Tell me," asked the shopwoman, "do you remember whether Merelli's young
man went occasionally to carry letters to a woman in service, in the
house of the _son of the country_?"

"To Signor Mequinez," replied the lad; "yes, signora, sometimes he did.
At the end of the street _del los Artes_."

"Ah! thanks, signora!" cried Marco. "Tell me the number; don't you know
it? Send some one with me; come with me instantly, my boy; I have still
a few soldi."

And he said this with so much warmth, that without waiting for the woman
to request him, the boy replied, "Come," and at once set out at a rapid

They proceeded almost at a run, without uttering a word, to the end of
the extremely long street, made their way into the entrance of a little
white house, and halted in front of a handsome iron gate, through which
they could see a small yard, filled with vases of flowers. Marco gave a
tug at the bell.

A young lady made her appearance.

"The Mequinez family lives here, does it not?" demanded the lad

"They did live here," replied the young lady, pronouncing her Italian in
Spanish fashion. "Now we, the Zeballos, live here."

"And where have the Mequinez gone?" asked Marco, his heart palpitating.

"They have gone to Cordova."

"Cordova!" exclaimed Marco. "Where is Cordova? And the person whom they
had in their service? The woman, my mother! Their servant was my mother!
Have they taken my mother away, too?"

The young lady looked at him and said: "I do not know. Perhaps my father
may know, for he knew them when they went away. Wait a moment."

She ran away, and soon returned with her father, a tall gentleman, with
a gray beard. He looked intently for a minute at this sympathetic type
of a little Genoese sailor, with his golden hair and his aquiline nose,
and asked him in broken Italian, "Is your mother a Genoese?"

Marco replied that she was.

"Well then, the Genoese maid went with them; that I know for certain."

"And where have they gone?"

"To Cordova, a city."

The boy gave vent to a sigh; then he said with resignation, "Then I will
go to Cordova."

"Ah, poor child!" exclaimed the gentleman in Spanish; "poor boy! Cordova
is hundreds of miles from here."

Marco turned as white as a corpse, and clung with one hand to the

"Let us see, let us see," said the gentleman, moved to pity, and
opening the door; "come inside a moment; let us see if anything can be
done." He sat down, gave the boy a seat, and made him tell his story,
listened to it very attentively, meditated a little, then said
resolutely, "You have no money, have you?"

"I still have some, a little," answered Marco.

The gentleman reflected for five minutes more; then seated himself at a
desk, wrote a letter, sealed it, and handing it to the boy, he said to

"Listen to me, little Italian. Take this letter to Boca. That is a
little city which is half Genoese, and lies two hours' journey from
here. Any one will be able to show you the road. Go there and find the
gentleman to whom this letter is addressed, and whom every one knows.
Carry the letter to him. He will send you off to the town of Rosario
to-morrow, and will recommend you to some one there, who will think out
a way of enabling you to pursue your journey to Cordova, where you will
find the Mequinez family and your mother. In the meanwhile, take this."
And he placed in his hand a few lire. "Go, and keep up your courage; you
will find fellow-countrymen of yours in every direction, and you will
not be deserted. _Adios!_"

The boy said, "Thanks," without finding any other words to express
himself, went out with his bag, and having taken leave of his little
guide, he set out slowly in the direction of Boca, filled with sorrow
and amazement, across that great and noisy town.

Everything that happened to him from that moment until the evening of
that day ever afterwards lingered in his memory in a confused and
uncertain form, like the wild vagaries of a person in a fever, so weary
was he, so troubled, so despondent. And at nightfall on the following
day, after having slept over night in a poor little chamber in a house
in Boca, beside a harbor porter, after having passed nearly the whole of
that day seated on a pile of beams, and, as in delirium, in sight of
thousands of ships and boats and tugs, he found himself on the poop of a
large sailing vessel, loaded with fruit, which was setting out for the
town of Rosario, managed by three robust Genoese, who were bronzed by
the sun; and their voices and the dialect which they spoke put a little
comfort into his heart once more.

They set out, and the voyage lasted three days and four nights, and it
was a continual amazement to the little traveller. Three days and four
nights on that wonderful river Paranà, in comparison with which our
great Po is but a rivulet; and the length of Italy quadrupled does not
equal that of its course. The barge advanced slowly against this
immeasurable mass of water. It threaded its way among long islands, once
the haunts of serpents and tigers, covered with orange-trees and
willows, like floating coppices; now they passed through narrow canals,
from which it seemed as though they could never issue forth; now they
sailed out on vast expanses of water, having the aspect of great
tranquil lakes; then among islands again, through the intricate channels
of an archipelago, amid enormous masses of vegetation. A profound
silence reigned. For long stretches the shores and very vast and
solitary waters produced the impression of an unknown stream, upon which
this poor little sail was the first in all the world to venture itself.
The further they advanced, the more this monstrous river dismayed him.
He imagined that his mother was at its source, and that their navigation
must last for years. Twice a day he ate a little bread and salted meat
with the boatmen, who, perceiving that he was sad, never addressed a
word to him. At night he slept on deck and woke every little while with
a start, astounded by the limpid light of the moon, which silvered the
immense expanse of water and the distant shores; and then his heart sank
within him. "Cordova!" He repeated that name, "Cordova!" like the name
of one of those mysterious cities of which he had heard in fables. But
then he thought, "My mother passed this spot; she saw these islands,
these shores;" and then these places upon which the glance of his mother
had fallen no longer seemed strange and solitary to him. At night one of
the boatmen sang. That voice reminded him of his mother's songs, when
she had lulled him to sleep as a little child. On the last night, when
he heard that song, he sobbed. The boatman interrupted his song. Then he
cried, "Courage, courage, my son! What the deuce! A Genoese crying
because he is far from home! The Genoese make the circuit of the world,
glorious and triumphant!"

And at these words he shook himself, he heard the voice of the Genoese
blood, and he raised his head aloft with pride, dashing his fist down on
the rudder. "Well, yes," he said to himself; "and if I am also obliged
to travel for years and years to come, all over the world, and to
traverse hundreds of miles on foot, I will go on until I find my mother,
were I to arrive in a dying condition, and fall dead at her feet! If
only I can see her once again! Courage!" And with this frame of mind he
arrived at daybreak, on a cool and rosy morning, in front of the city of
Rosario, situated on the high bank of the Paranà, where the beflagged
yards of a hundred vessels of every land were mirrored in the waves.

Shortly after landing, he went to the town, bag in hand, to seek an
Argentine gentleman for whom his protector in Boca had intrusted him
with a visiting-card, with a few words of recommendation. On entering
Rosario, it seemed to him that he was coming into a city with which he
was already familiar. There were the straight, interminable streets,
bordered with low white houses, traversed in all directions above the
roofs by great bundles of telegraph and telephone wires, which looked
like enormous spiders' webs; and a great confusion of people, of horses,
and of vehicles. His head grew confused; he almost thought that he had
got back to Buenos Ayres, and must hunt up his cousin once more. He
wandered about for nearly an hour, making one turn after another, and
seeming always to come back to the same street; and by dint of
inquiring, he found the house of his new protector. He pulled the bell.
There came to the door a big, light-haired, gruff man, who had the air
of a steward, and who demanded awkwardly, with a foreign accent:--

"What do you want?"

The boy mentioned the name of his patron.

"The master has gone away," replied the steward; "he set out yesterday
afternoon for Buenos Ayres, with his whole family."

The boy was left speechless. Then he stammered, "But I--I have no one
here! I am alone!" and he offered the card.

The steward took it, read it, and said surlily: "I don't know what to do
for you. I'll give it to him when he returns a month hence."

"But I, I am alone; I am in need!" exclaimed the lad, in a supplicating

"Eh? come now," said the other; "just as though there were not a plenty
of your sort from your country in Rosario! Be off, and do your begging
in Italy!" And he slammed the door in his face.

The boy stood there as though he had been turned to stone.

Then he picked up his bag again slowly, and went out, his heart torn
with anguish, with his mind in a whirl, assailed all at once by a
thousand anxious thoughts. What was to be done? Where was he to go? From
Rosario to Cordova was a day's journey, by rail. He had only a few lire
left. After deducting what he should be obliged to spend that day, he
would have next to nothing left. Where was he to find the money to pay
his fare? He could work--but how? To whom should he apply for work? Ask
alms? Ah, no! To be repulsed, insulted, humiliated, as he had been a
little while ago? No; never, never more--rather would he die! And at
this idea, and at the sight of the very long street which was lost in
the distance of the boundless plain, he felt his courage desert him once
more, flung his bag on the sidewalk, sat down with his back against the
wall, and bent his head between his hands, in an attitude of despair.

People jostled him with their feet as they passed; the vehicles filled
the road with noise; several boys stopped to look at him. He remained
thus for a while. Then he was startled by a voice saying to him in a
mixture of Italian and Lombard dialect, "What is the matter, little

He raised his face at these words, and instantly sprang to his feet,
uttering an exclamation of wonder: "You here!"

It was the old Lombard peasant with whom he had struck up a friendship
during the voyage.

The amazement of the peasant was no less than his own; but the boy did
not leave him time to question him, and he rapidly recounted the state
of his affairs.

"Now I am without a soldo. I must go to work. Find me work, that I may
get together a few lire. I will do anything; I will carry rubbish, I
will sweep the streets; I can run on errands, or even work in the
country; I am content to live on black bread; but only let it be so that
I may set out quickly, that I may find my mother once more. Do me this
charity, and find me work, find me work, for the love of God, for I can
do no more!"

"The deuce! the deuce!" said the peasant, looking about him, and
scratching his chin. "What a story is this! To work, to work!--that is
soon said. Let us look about a little. Is there no way of finding thirty
lire among so many fellow-countrymen?"

The boy looked at him, consoled by a ray of hope.

"Come with me," said the peasant.

"Where?" asked the lad, gathering up his bag again.

"Come with me."

The peasant started on; Marco followed him. They traversed a long
stretch of street together without speaking. The peasant halted at the
door of an inn which had for its sign a star, and an inscription
beneath, _The Star of Italy_. He thrust his face in, and turning to the
boy, he said cheerfully, "We have arrived at just the right moment."

They entered a large room, where there were numerous tables, and many
men seated, drinking and talking loudly. The old Lombard approached the
first table, and from the manner in which he saluted the six guests who
were gathered around it, it was evident that he had been in their
company until a short time previously. They were red in the face, and
were clinking their glasses, and vociferating and laughing.

"Comrades," said the Lombard, without any preface, remaining on his
feet, and presenting Marco, "here is a poor lad, our fellow-countryman,
who has come alone from Genoa to Buenos Ayres to seek his mother. At
Buenos Ayres they told him, 'She is not here; she is in Cordova.' He
came in a bark to Rosario, three days and three nights on the way, with
a couple of lines of recommendation. He presents the card; they make an
ugly face at him: he hasn't a centesimo to bless himself with. He is
here alone and in despair. He is a lad full of heart. Let us see a bit.
Can't we find enough to pay for his ticket to go to Cordova in search of
his mother? Are we to leave him here like a dog?"

"Never in the world, by Heavens! That shall never be said!" they all
shouted at once, hammering on the table with their fists. "A
fellow-countryman of ours! Come hither, little fellow! We are emigrants!
See what a handsome young rogue! Out with your coppers, comrades! Bravo!
Come alone! He has daring! Drink a sup, _patriotta_! We'll send you to
your mother; never fear!" And one pinched his cheek, another slapped him
on the shoulder, a third relieved him of his bag; other emigrants rose
from the neighboring tables, and gathered about; the boy's story made
the round of the inn; three Argentine guests hurried in from the
adjoining room; and in less than ten minutes the Lombard peasant, who
was passing round the hat, had collected forty-two lire.

"Do you see," he then said, turning to the boy, "how fast things are
done in America?"

"Drink!" cried another to him, offering him a glass of wine; "to the
health of your mother!"

All raised their glasses, and Marco repeated, "To the health of my--"
But a sob of joy choked him, and, setting the glass on the table, he
flung himself on the old man's neck.

At daybreak on the following morning he set out for Cordova, ardent and
smiling, filled with presentiments of happiness. But there is no
cheerfulness that rules for long in the face of certain sinister aspects
of nature. The weather was close and dull; the train, which was nearly
empty, ran through an immense plain, destitute of every sign of
habitation. He found himself alone in a very long car, which resembled
those on trains for the wounded. He gazed to the right, he gazed to the
left, and he saw nothing but an endless solitude, strewn with tiny,
deformed trees, with contorted trunks and branches, in attitudes such as
were never seen before, almost of wrath and anguish, and a sparse and
melancholy vegetation, which gave to the plain the aspect of a ruined

He dozed for half an hour; then resumed his survey: the spectacle was
still the same. The railway stations were deserted, like the dwellings
of hermits; and when the train stopped, not a sound was heard; it seemed
to him that he was alone in a lost train, abandoned in the middle of a
desert. It seemed to him as though each station must be the last, and
that he should then enter the mysterious regions of the savages. An icy
breeze nipped his face. On embarking at Genoa, towards the end of April,
it had not occurred to him that he should find winter in America, and
he was dressed for summer.

After several hours of this he began to suffer from cold, and in
connection with the cold, from the fatigue of the days he had recently
passed through, filled as they had been with violent emotions, and from
sleepless and harassing nights. He fell asleep, slept a long time, and
awoke benumbed; he felt ill. Then a vague terror of falling ill, of
dying on the journey, seized upon him; a fear of being thrown out there,
in the middle of that desolate prairie, where his body would be torn in
pieces by dogs and birds of prey, like the corpses of horses and cows
which he had caught sight of every now and then beside the track, and
from which he had turned aside his eyes in disgust. In this state of
anxious illness, in the midst of that dark silence of nature, his
imagination grew excited, and looked on the dark side of things.

Was he quite sure, after all, that he should find his mother at Cordova?
And what if she had not gone there? What if that gentleman in the Via
del los Artes had made a mistake? And what if she were dead? Thus
meditating, he fell asleep again, and dreamed that he was in Cordova,
and it was night, and that he heard cries from all the doors and all the
windows: "She is not here! She is not here! She is not here!" This
roused him with a start, in terror, and he saw at the other end of the
car three bearded men enveloped in shawls of various colors who were
staring at him and talking together in a low tone; and the suspicion
flashed across him that they were assassins, and that they wanted to
kill him for the sake of stealing his bag. Fear was added to his
consciousness of illness and to the cold; his fancy, already perturbed,
became distorted: the three men kept on staring at him; one of them
moved towards him; then his reason wandered, and rushing towards him
with arms wide open, he shrieked, "I have nothing; I am a poor boy; I
have come from Italy; I am in quest of my mother; I am alone: do not do
me any harm!"

They instantly understood the situation; they took compassion on him,
caressed and soothed him, speaking to him many words which he did not
hear nor comprehend; and perceiving that his teeth were chattering with
cold, they wrapped one of their shawls around him, and made him sit down
again, so that he might go to sleep. And he did fall asleep once more,
when the twilight was descending. When they aroused him, he was at

Ah, what a deep breath he drew, and with what impetuosity he flew from
the car! He inquired of one of the station employees where the house of
the engineer Mequinez was situated; the latter mentioned the name of a
church; it stood beside the church: the boy hastened away.

It was night. He entered the city, and it seemed to him that he was
entering Rosario once more; that he again beheld those straight streets,
flanked with little white houses, and intersected by other very long and
straight streets. But there were very few people, and under the light of
the rare street lanterns, he encountered strange faces of a hue unknown
to him, between black and greenish; and raising his head from time to
time, he beheld churches of bizarre architecture which were outlined
black and vast against the sky. The city was dark and silent, but after
having traversed that immense desert, it appeared lively to him. He
inquired his way of a priest, speedily found the church and the house,
pulled the bell with one trembling hand, and pressed the other on his
breast to repress the beating of his heart, which was leaping into his

An old woman, with a light in her hand, opened the door.

The boy could not speak at once.

"Whom do you want?" demanded the dame in Spanish.

"The engineer Mequinez," replied Marco.

The old woman made a motion to cross her arms on her breast, and
replied, with a shake of the head: "So you, too, have dealings with the
engineer Mequinez! It strikes me that it is time to stop this. We have
been worried for the last three months. It is not enough that the
newspapers have said it. We shall have to have it printed on the corner
of the street, that Signor Mequinez has gone to live at Tucuman!"

The boy gave way to a gesture of despair. Then he gave way to an
outburst of passion.

"So there is a curse upon me! I am doomed to die on the road, without
having found my mother! I shall go mad! I shall kill myself! My God!
what is the name of that country? Where is it? At what distance is it

"Eh, poor boy," replied the old woman, moved to pity; "a mere trifle! We
are four or five hundred miles from there, at least."

The boy covered his face with his hands; then he asked with a sob, "And
now what am I to do!"

"What am I to say to you, my poor child?" responded the dame: "I don't

But suddenly an idea struck her, and she added hastily: "Listen, now
that I think of it. There is one thing that you can do. Go down this
street, to the right, and at the third house you will find a courtyard;
there there is a _capataz_, a trader, who is setting out to-morrow for
Tucuman, with his wagons and his oxen. Go and see if he will take you,
and offer him your services; perhaps he will give you a place on his
wagons: go at once."

The lad grasped his bag, thanked her as he ran, and two minutes later
found himself in a vast courtyard, lighted by lanterns, where a number
of men were engaged in loading sacks of grain on certain enormous carts
which resembled the movable houses of mountebanks, with rounded tops,
and very tall wheels; and a tall man with mustaches, enveloped in a sort
of mantle of black and white check, and with big boots, was directing
the work.

The lad approached this man, and timidly proffered his request, saying
that he had come from Italy, and that he was in search of his mother.

The _capataz_, which signifies the head (the head conductor of this
convoy of wagons), surveyed him from head to foot with a keen glance,
and replied drily, "I have no place."

"I have fifteen lire," answered the boy in a supplicating tone; "I will
give you my fifteen lire. I will work on the journey; I will fetch the
water and fodder for the animals; I will perform all sorts of services.
A little bread will suffice for me. Make a little place for me, signor."

The _capataz_ looked him over again, and replied with a better grace,
"There is no room; and then, we are not going to Tucuman; we are going
to another town, Santiago dell'Estero. We shall have to leave you at a
certain point, and you will still have a long way to go on foot."

"Ah, I will make twice as long a journey!" exclaimed Marco; "I can walk;
do not worry about that; I shall get there by some means or other: make
a little room for me, signor, out of charity; for pity's sake, do not
leave me here alone!"

"Beware; it is a journey of twenty days."

"It matters nothing to me."

"It is a hard journey."

"I will endure everything."

"You will have to travel alone."

"I fear nothing, if I can only find my mother. Have compassion!"

The _capataz_ drew his face close to a lantern, and scrutinized him.
Then he said, "Very well."

The lad kissed his hand.

"You shall sleep in one of the wagons to-night," added the _capataz_, as
he quitted him; "to-morrow morning, at four o'clock, I will wake you.
Good night."

At four o'clock in the morning, by the light of the stars, the long
string of wagons was set in motion with a great noise; each cart was
drawn by six oxen, and all were followed by a great number of spare
animals for a change.

The boy, who had been awakened and placed in one of the carts, on the
sacks, instantly fell again into a deep sleep. When he awoke, the convoy
had halted in a solitary spot, full in the sun, and all the men--the
_peones_--were seated round a quarter of calf, which was roasting in the
open air, beside a large fire, which was flickering in the wind. They
all ate together, took a nap, and then set out again; and thus the
journey continued, regulated like a march of soldiers. Every morning
they set out on the road at five o'clock, halted at nine, set out again
at five o'clock in the evening, and halted again at ten. The _peones_
rode on horseback, and stimulated the oxen with long goads. The boy
lighted the fire for the roasting, gave the beasts their fodder,
polished up the lanterns, and brought water for drinking.

The landscape passed before him like an indistinct vision: vast groves
of little brown trees; villages consisting of a few scattered houses,
with red and battlemented façades; very vast tracts, possibly the
ancient beds of great salt lakes, which gleamed white with salt as far
as the eye could reach; and on every hand, and always, the prairie,
solitude, silence. On very rare occasions they encountered two or three
travellers on horseback, followed by a herd of picked horses, who passed
them at a gallop, like a whirlwind. The days were all alike, as at sea,
wearisome and interminable; but the weather was fine. But the _peones_
became more and more exacting every day, as though the lad were their
bond slave; some of them treated him brutally, with threats; all forced
him to serve them without mercy: they made him carry enormous bundles of
forage; they sent him to get water at great distances; and he, broken
with fatigue, could not even sleep at night, continually tossed about as
he was by the violent jolts of the wagon, and the deafening groaning of
the wheels and wooden axles. And in addition to this, the wind having
risen, a fine, reddish, greasy dust, which enveloped everything,
penetrated the wagon, made its way under the covers, filled his eyes and
mouth, robbed him of sight and breath, constantly, oppressively,
insupportably. Worn out with toil and lack of sleep, reduced to rags
and dirt, reproached and ill treated from morning till night, the poor
boy grew every day more dejected, and would have lost heart entirely if
the _capataz_ had not addressed a kind word to him now and then. He
often wept, unseen, in a corner of the wagon, with his face against his
bag, which no longer contained anything but rags. Every morning he rose
weaker and more discouraged, and as he looked out over the country, and
beheld always the same boundless and implacable plain, like a
terrestrial ocean, he said to himself: "Ah, I shall not hold out until
to-night! I shall not hold out until to-night! To-day I shall die on the
road!" And his toil increased, his ill treatment was redoubled. One
morning, in the absence of the _capataz_, one of the men struck him,
because he had delayed in fetching the water. And then they all began to
take turns at it, when they gave him an order, dealing him a kick,
saying: "Take that, you vagabond! Carry that to your mother!"

His heart was breaking. He fell ill; for three days he remained in the
wagon, with a coverlet over him, fighting a fever, and seeing no one
except the _capataz_, who came to give him his drink and feel his pulse.
And then he believed that he was lost, and invoked his mother in
despair, calling her a hundred times by name: "O my mother! my mother!
Help me! Come to me, for I am dying! Oh, my poor mother, I shall never
see you again! My poor mother, who will find me dead beside the way!"
And he folded his hands over his bosom and prayed. Then he grew better,
thanks to the care of the _capataz_, and recovered; but with his
recovery arrived the most terrible day of his journey, the day on which
he was to be left to his own devices. They had been on the way for more
than two weeks; when they arrived at the point where the road to
Tucuman parted from that which leads to Santiago dell'Estero, the
_capataz_ announced to him that they must separate. He gave him some
instructions with regard to the road, tied his bag on his shoulders in a
manner which would not annoy him as he walked, and, breaking off short,
as though he feared that he should be affected, he bade him farewell.
The boy had barely time to kiss him on one arm. The other men, too, who
had treated him so harshly, seemed to feel a little pity at the sight of
him left thus alone, and they made signs of farewell to him as they
moved away. And he returned the salute with his hand, stood watching the
convoy until it was lost to sight in the red dust of the plain, and then
set out sadly on his road.

    SIGHT."--Page 263.]

One thing, on the other hand, comforted him a little from the first.
After all those days of travel across that endless plain, which was
forever the same, he saw before him a chain of mountains very high and
blue, with white summits, which reminded him of the Alps, and gave him
the feeling of having drawn near to his own country once more. They were
the Andes, the dorsal spine of the American continent, that immense
chain which extends from Tierra del Fuego to the glacial sea of the
Arctic pole, through a hundred and ten degrees of latitude. And he was
also comforted by the fact that the air seemed to him to grow constantly
warmer; and this happened, because, in ascending towards the north, he
was slowly approaching the tropics. At great distances apart there were
tiny groups of houses with a petty shop; and he bought something to eat.
He encountered men on horseback; every now and then he saw women and
children seated on the ground, motionless and grave, with faces
entirely new to him, of an earthen hue, with oblique eyes and prominent
cheek-bones, who looked at him intently, and accompanied him with their
gaze, turning their heads slowly like automatons. They were Indians.

The first day he walked as long as his strength would permit, and slept
under a tree. On the second day he made considerably less progress, and
with less spirit. His shoes were dilapidated, his feet wounded, his
stomach weakened by bad food. Towards evening he began to be alarmed. He
had heard, in Italy, that in this land there were serpents; he fancied
that he heard them crawling; he halted, then set out on a run, and with
cold chills in all his bones. At times he was seized with a profound
pity for himself, and he wept silently as he walked. Then he thought,
"Oh, how much my mother would suffer if she knew that I am afraid!" and
this thought restored his courage. Then, in order to distract his
thoughts from fear, he meditated much of her; he recalled to mind her
words when she had set out from Genoa, and the movement with which she
had arranged the coverlet beneath his chin when he was in bed, and when
he was a baby; for every time that she took him in her arms, she said to
him, "Stay here a little while with me"; and thus she remained for a
long time, with her head resting on his, thinking, thinking.

And he said to himself: "Shall I see thee again, dear mother? Shall I
arrive at the end of my journey, my mother?" And he walked on and on,
among strange trees, vast plantations of sugar-cane, and fields without
end, always with those blue mountains in front of him, which cut the sky
with their exceedingly lofty crests. Four days, five days--a week,
passed. His strength was rapidly declining, his feet were bleeding.
Finally, one evening at sunset, they said to him:--

"Tucuman is fifty miles from here."

He uttered a cry of joy, and hastened his steps, as though he had, in
that moment, regained all his lost vigor. But it was a brief illusion.
His forces suddenly abandoned him, and he fell upon the brink of a
ditch, exhausted. But his heart was beating with content. The heaven,
thickly sown with the most brilliant stars, had never seemed so
beautiful to him. He contemplated it, as he lay stretched out on the
grass to sleep, and thought that, perhaps, at that very moment, his
mother was gazing at him. And he said:--

"O my mother, where art thou? What art thou doing at this moment? Dost
thou think of thy son? Dost thou think of thy Marco, who is so near to

Poor Marco! If he could have seen in what a case his mother was at that
moment, he would have made a superhuman effort to proceed on his way,
and to reach her a few hours earlier. She was ill in bed, in a
ground-floor room of a lordly mansion, where dwelt the entire Mequinez
family. The latter had become very fond of her, and had helped her a
great deal. The poor woman had already been ailing when the engineer
Mequinez had been obliged unexpectedly to set out far from Buenos Ayres,
and she had not benefited at all by the fine air of Cordova. But then,
the fact that she had received no response to her letters from her
husband, nor from her cousin, the presentiment, always lively, of some
great misfortune, the continual anxiety in which she had lived, between
the parting and staying, expecting every day some bad news, had caused
her to grow worse out of all proportion. Finally, a very serious malady
had declared itself,--a strangled internal rupture. She had not risen
from her bed for a fortnight. A surgical operation was necessary to save
her life. And at precisely the moment when Marco was apostrophizing her,
the master and mistress of the house were standing beside her bed,
arguing with her, with great gentleness, to persuade her to allow
herself to be operated on, and she was persisting in her refusal, and
weeping. A good physician of Tucuman had come in vain a week before.

"No, my dear master," she said; "do not count upon it; I have not the
strength to resist; I should die under the surgeon's knife. It is better
to allow me to die thus. I no longer cling to life. All is at an end for
me. It is better to die before learning what has happened to my family."

And her master and mistress opposed, and said that she must take
courage, that she would receive a reply to the last letters, which had
been sent directly to Genoa; that she must allow the operation to be
performed; that it must be done for the sake of her family. But this
suggestion of her children only aggravated her profound discouragement,
which had for a long time prostrated her, with increasing anguish. At
these words she burst into tears.

"O my sons! my sons!" she exclaimed, wringing her hands; "perhaps they
are no longer alive! It is better that I should die also. I thank you,
my good master and mistress; I thank you from my heart. But it is better
that I should die. At all events, I am certain that I shall not be cured
by this operation. Thanks for all your care, my good master and
mistress. It is useless for the doctor to come again after to-morrow. I
wish to die. It is my fate to die here. I have decided."

And they began again to console her, and to repeat, "Don't say that,"
and to take her hand and beseech her.

But she closed her eyes then in exhaustion, and fell into a doze, so
that she appeared to be dead. And her master and mistress remained there
a little while, by the faint light of a taper, watching with great
compassion that admirable mother, who, for the sake of saving her
family, had come to die six thousand miles from her country, to die
after having toiled so hard, poor woman! and she was so honest, so good,
so unfortunate.

Early on the morning of the following day, Marco, bent and limping, with
his bag on his back, entered the city of Tucuman, one of the youngest
and most flourishing towns of the Argentine Republic. It seemed to him
that he beheld again Cordova, Rosario, Buenos Ayres: there were the same
straight and extremely long streets, the same low white houses, but on
every hand there was a new and magnificent vegetation, a perfumed air, a
marvellous light, a sky limpid and profound, such as he had never seen
even in Italy. As he advanced through the streets, he experienced once
more the feverish agitation which had seized on him at Buenos Ayres; he
stared at the windows and doors of all the houses; he stared at all the
women who passed him, with an anxious hope that he might meet his
mother; he would have liked to question every one, but did not dare to
stop any one. All the people who were standing at their doors turned to
gaze after the poor, tattered, dusty lad, who showed that he had come
from afar. And he was seeking, among all these people, a countenance
which should inspire him with confidence, in order to direct to its
owner that tremendous query, when his eyes fell upon the sign of an inn
upon which was inscribed an Italian name. Inside were a man with
spectacles, and two women. He approached the door slowly, and summoning
up a resolute spirit, he inquired:--

"Can you tell me, signor, where the family Mequinez is?"

"The engineer Mequinez?" asked the innkeeper in his turn.

"The engineer Mequinez," replied the lad in a thread of a voice.

"The Mequinez family is not in Tucuman," replied the innkeeper.

A cry of desperate pain, like that of one who has been stabbed, formed
an echo to these words.

The innkeeper and the women rose, and some neighbors ran up.

"What's the matter? what ails you, my boy?" said the innkeeper, drawing
him into the shop and making him sit down. "The deuce! there's no reason
for despairing! The Mequinez family is not here, but at a little
distance off, a few hours from Tucuman."

"Where? where?" shrieked Marco, springing up like one restored to life.

"Fifteen miles from here," continued the man, "on the river, at
Saladillo, in a place where a big sugar factory is being built, and a
cluster of houses; Signor Mequinez's house is there; every one knows it:
you can reach it in a few hours."

"I was there a month ago," said a youth, who had hastened up at the cry.

Marco stared at him with wide-open eyes, and asked him hastily, turning
pale as he did so, "Did you see the servant of Signor Mequinez--the

"The Genoese? Yes; I saw her."

Marco burst into a convulsive sob, which was half a laugh and half a
sob. Then, with a burst of violent resolution: "Which way am I to go?
quick, the road! I shall set out instantly; show me the way!"

"But it is a day's march," they all told him, in one breath. "You are
weary; you should rest; you can set out to-morrow."

"Impossible! impossible!" replied the lad. "Tell me the way; I will not
wait another instant; I shall set out at once, were I to die on the

On perceiving him so inflexible, they no longer opposed him. "May God
accompany you!" they said to him. "Look out for the path through the
forest. A fair journey to you, little Italian!" A man accompanied him
outside of the town, pointed out to him the road, gave him some counsel,
and stood still to watch him start. At the expiration of a few minutes,
the lad disappeared, limping, with his bag on his shoulders, behind the
thick trees which lined the road.

That night was a dreadful one for the poor sick woman. She suffered
atrocious pain, which wrung from her shrieks that were enough to burst
her veins, and rendered her delirious at times. The women waited on her.
She lost her head. Her mistress ran in, from time to time, in affright.
All began to fear that, even if she had decided to allow herself to be
operated on, the doctor, who was not to come until the next day, would
have arrived too late. During the moments when she was not raving,
however, it was evident that her most terrible torture arose not from
her bodily pains, but from the thought of her distant family.
Emaciated, wasted away, with changed visage, she thrust her hands
through her hair, with a gesture of desperation, and shrieked:--

"My God! My God! To die so far away, to die without seeing them again!
My poor children, who will be left without a mother, my poor little
creatures, my poor darlings! My Marco, who is still so small! only as
tall as this, and so good and affectionate! You do not know what a boy
he was! If you only knew, signora! I could not detach him from my neck
when I set out; he sobbed in a way to move your pity; he sobbed; it
seemed as though he knew that he would never behold his poor mother
again. Poor Marco, my poor baby! I thought that my heart would break!
Ah, if I had only died then, died while they were bidding me farewell!
If I had but dropped dead! Without a mother, my poor child, he who loved
me so dearly, who needed me so much! without a mother, in misery, he
will be forced to beg! He, Marco, my Marco, will stretch out his hand,
famishing! O eternal God! No! I will not die! The doctor! Call him at
once I let him come, let him cut me, let him cleave my breast, let him
drive me mad; but let him save my life! I want to recover; I want to
live, to depart, to flee, to-morrow, at once! The doctor! Help! help!"

And the women seized her hands and soothed her, and made her calm
herself little by little, and spoke to her of God and of hope. And then
she fell back again into a mortal dejection, wept with her hands
clutched in her gray hair, moaned like an infant, uttering a prolonged
lament, and murmuring from time to time:--

"O my Genoa! My house! All that sea!--O my Marco, my poor Marco! Where
is he now, my poor darling?"

It was midnight; and her poor Marco, after having passed many hours on
the brink of a ditch, his strength exhausted, was then walking through a
forest of gigantic trees, monsters of vegetation, huge boles like the
pillars of a cathedral, which interlaced their enormous crests, silvered
by the moon, at a wonderful height. Vaguely, amid the half gloom, he
caught glimpses of myriads of trunks of all forms, upright, inclined,
contorted, crossed in strange postures of menace and of conflict; some
overthrown on the earth, like towers which had fallen bodily, and
covered with a dense and confused mass of vegetation, which seemed like
a furious throng, disputing the ground span by span; others collected in
great groups, vertical and serrated, like trophies of titanic lances,
whose tips touched the clouds; a superb grandeur, a prodigious disorder
of colossal forms, the most majestically terrible spectacle which
vegetable nature ever presented.

At times he was overwhelmed by a great stupor. But his mind instantly
took flight again towards his mother. He was worn out, with bleeding
feet, alone in the middle of this formidable forest, where it was only
at long intervals that he saw tiny human habitations, which at the foot
of these trees seemed like the ant-hills, or some buffalo asleep beside
the road; he was exhausted, but he was not conscious of his exhaustion;
he was alone, and he felt no fear. The grandeur of the forest rendered
his soul grand; his nearness to his mother gave him the strength and the
hardihood of a man; the memory of the ocean, of the alarms and the
sufferings which he had undergone and vanquished, of the toil which he
had endured, of the iron constancy which he had displayed, caused him to
uplift his brow. All his strong and noble Genoese blood flowed back to
his heart in an ardent tide of joy and audacity. And a new thing took
place within him; while he had, up to this time, borne in his mind an
image of his mother, dimmed and paled somewhat by the two years of
absence, at that moment the image grew clear; he again beheld her face,
perfect and distinct, as he had not beheld it for a long time; he beheld
it close to him, illuminated, speaking; he again beheld the most
fleeting motions of her eyes, and of her lips, all her attitudes, all
the shades of her thoughts; and urged on by these pursuing
recollections, he hastened his steps; and a new affection, an
unspeakable tenderness, grew in him, grew in his heart, making sweet and
quiet tears to flow down his face; and as he advanced through the gloom,
he spoke to her, he said to her the words which he would murmur in her
ear in a little while more:--

"I am here, my mother; behold me here. I will never leave you again; we
will return home together, and I will remain always beside you on board
the ship, close beside you, and no one shall ever part me from you
again, no one, never more, so long as I have life!"

And in the meantime he did not observe how the silvery light of the moon
was dying away on the summits of the gigantic trees in the delicate
whiteness of the dawn.

At eight o'clock on that morning, the doctor from Tucuman, a young
Argentine, was already by the bedside of the sick woman, in company with
an assistant, endeavoring, for the last time, to persuade her to permit
herself to be operated on; and the engineer Mequinez and his wife added
their warmest persuasions to those of the former. But all was in vain.
The woman, feeling her strength exhausted, had no longer any faith in
the operation; she was perfectly certain that she should die under it,
or that she should only survive it a few hours, after having suffered in
vain pains that were more atrocious than those of which she should die
in any case. The doctor lingered to tell her once more:--

"But the operation is a safe one; your safety is certain, provided you
exercise a little courage! And your death is equally certain if you
refuse!" It was a sheer waste of words.

"No," she replied in a faint voice, "I still have courage to die; but I
no longer have any to suffer uselessly. Leave me to die in peace."

The doctor desisted in discouragement. No one said anything more. Then
the woman turned her face towards her mistress, and addressed to her her
last prayers in a dying voice.

"Dear, good signora," she said with a great effort, sobbing, "you will
send this little money and my poor effects to my family--through the
consul. I hope that they may all be alive. My heart presages well in
these, my last moments. You will do me the favor to write--that I have
always thought of them, that I have always toiled for them--for my
children--that my sole grief was not to see them once more--but that I
died courageously--with resignation--blessing them; and that I recommend
to my husband--and to my elder son--the youngest, my poor Marco--that I
bore him in my heart until the last moment--" And suddenly she became
excited, and shrieked, as she clasped her hands: "My Marco, my baby, my
baby! My life!--" But on casting her tearful eyes round her, she
perceived that her mistress was no longer there; she had been secretly
called away. She sought her master; he had disappeared. No one remained
with her except the two nurses and the assistant. She heard in the
adjoining room the sound of hurried footsteps, a murmur of hasty and
subdued voices, and repressed exclamations. The sick woman fixed her
glazing eyes on the door, in expectation. At the end of a few minutes
she saw the doctor appear with an unusual expression on his face; then
her mistress and master, with their countenances also altered. All three
gazed at her with a singular expression, and exchanged a few words in a
low tone. She fancied that the doctor said to her mistress, "Better let
it be at once." She did not understand.

"Josefa," said her mistress to the sick woman, in a trembling voice, "I
have some good news for you. Prepare your heart for good news."

The woman observed her intently.

"News," pursued the lady, with increasing agitation, "which will give
you great joy."

The sick woman's eyes dilated.

"Prepare yourself," continued her mistress, "to see a person--of whom
you are very fond."

The woman raised her head with a vigorous movement, and began to gaze in
rapid succession, first at the lady and then at the door, with flashing

"A person," added the lady, turning pale, "who has just

"Who is it?" shrieked the woman, with a strange and choked voice, like
that of a person in terror. An instant later she gave vent to a shrill
scream, sprang into a sitting posture in her bed, and remained
motionless, with starting eyes, and her hands pressed to her temples, as
in the presence of a supernatural apparition.

Marco, tattered and dusty, stood there on the threshold, held back by
the doctor's hand on one arm.

The woman uttered three shrieks: "God! God! My God!"

Marco rushed forward; she stretched out to him her fleshless arms, and
straining him to her heart with the strength of a tiger, she burst into
a violent laugh, broken by deep, tearless sobs, which caused her to fall
back suffocating on her pillow.

But she speedily recovered herself, and mad with joy, she shrieked as
she covered his head with kisses: "How do you come here? Why? Is it you?
How you have grown! Who brought you? Are you alone? You are not ill? It
is you, Marco! It is not a dream! My God! Speak to me!"

Then she suddenly changed her tone: "No! Be silent! Wait!" And turning
to the doctor, she said with precipitation: "Quick, doctor! this
instant! I want to get well. I am ready. Do not lose a moment. Take
Marco away, so that he may not hear.--Marco, my love, it is nothing. I
will tell you about it. One more kiss. Go!--Here I am, doctor."

Marco was taken away. The master, mistress, and women retired in haste;
the surgeon and his assistant remained behind, and closed the door.

Signor Mequinez attempted to lead Marco to a distant room, but it was
impossible; he seemed rooted to the pavement.

"What is it?" he asked. "What is the matter with my mother? What are
they doing to her?"

And then Mequinez said softly, still trying to draw him away: "Here!
Listen to me. I will tell you now. Your mother is ill; she must undergo
a little operation; I will explain it all to you: come with me."

"No," replied the lad, resisting; "I want to stay here. Explain it to me

The engineer heaped words on words, as he drew him away; the boy began
to grow terrified and to tremble.

Suddenly an acute cry, like that of one wounded to the death, rang
through the whole house.

The boy responded with another desperate shriek, "My mother is dead!"

The doctor appeared on the threshold and said, "Your mother is saved."

The boy gazed at him for a moment, and then flung himself at his feet,
sobbing, "Thanks, doctor!"

But the doctor raised him with a gesture, saying: "Rise! It is you, you
heroic child, who have saved your mother!"


    Wednesday, 24th.

Marco, the Genoese, is the last little hero but one whose acquaintance
we shall make this year; only one remains for the month of June. There
are only two more monthly examinations, twenty-six days of lessons, six
Thursdays, and five Sundays. The air of the end of the year is already
perceptible. The trees of the garden, leafy and in blossom, cast a fine
shade on the gymnastic apparatus. The scholars are already dressed in
summer clothes. And it is beautiful, at the close of school and the exit
of the classes, to see how different everything is from what it was in
the months that are past. The long locks which touched the shoulders
have disappeared; all heads are closely shorn; bare legs and throats are
to be seen; little straw hats of every shape, with ribbons that descend
even on the backs of the wearers; shirts and neckties of every hue; all
the little children with something red or blue about them, a facing, a
border, a tassel, a scrap of some vivid color tacked on somewhere by the
mother, so that even the poorest may make a good figure; and many come
to school without any hats, as though they had run away from home. Some
wear the white gymnasium suit. There is one of Schoolmistress Delcati's
boys who is red from head to foot, like a boiled crab. Several are
dressed like sailors.

But the finest of all is the little mason, who has donned a big straw
hat, which gives him the appearance of a half-candle with a shade over
it; and it is ridiculous to see him make his hare's face beneath it.
Coretti, too, has abandoned his catskin cap, and wears an old
travelling-cap of gray silk. Votini has a sort of Scotch dress, all
decorated; Crossi displays his bare breast; Precossi is lost inside of a
blue blouse belonging to the blacksmith-ironmonger.

And Garoffi? Now that he has been obliged to discard the cloak beneath
which he concealed his wares, all his pockets are visible, bulging with
all sorts of huckster's trifles, and the lists of his lotteries force
themselves out. Now all his pockets allow their contents to be
seen,--fans made of half a newspaper, knobs of canes, darts to fire at
birds, herbs, and maybugs which creep out of his pockets and crawl
gradually over the jackets.

Many of the little fellows carry bunches of flowers to the mistresses.
The mistresses are dressed in summer garments also, of cheerful tints;
all except the "little nun," who is always in black; and the mistress
with the red feather still has her red feather, and a knot of red ribbon
at her neck, all tumbled with the little paws of her scholars, who
always make her laugh and flee.

It is the season, too, of cherry-trees, of butterflies, of music in the
streets, and of rambles in the country; many of the fourth grade run
away to bathe in the Po; all have their hearts already set on the
vacation; each day they issue forth from school more impatient and
content than the day before. Only it pains me to see Garrone in
mourning, and my poor mistress of the primary, who is thinner and whiter
than ever, and who coughs with ever-increasing violence. She walks all
bent over now, and salutes me so sadly!


    Friday, 26th.

     You are now beginning to comprehend the poetry of school, Enrico;
     but at present you only survey the school from within. It will seem
     much more beautiful and more poetic to you twenty years from now,
     when you go thither to escort your own boys; and you will then
     survey it from the outside, as I do. While waiting for school to
     close, I wander about the silent street, in the vicinity of the
     edifice, and lay my ear to the windows of the ground floor, which
     are screened by Venetian blinds. At one window I hear the voice of
     a schoolmistress saying:--

     "Ah, what a shape for a _t_! It won't do, my dear boy! What would
     your father say to it?"

     At the next window there resounds the heavy voice of a master,
     which is saying:--

     "I will buy fifty metres of stuff--at four lire and a half the
     metre--and sell it again--"

     Further on there is the mistress with the red feather, who is
     reading aloud:--

     "Then Pietro Micca, with the lighted train of powder--"

     From the adjoining class-room comes the chirping of a thousand
     birds, which signifies that the master has stepped out for a
     moment. I proceed onward, and as I turn the corner, I hear a
     scholar weeping, and the voice of the mistress reproving and
     comforting him. From the lofty windows issue verses, names of great
     and good men, fragments of sentences which inculcate virtue, the
     love of country, and courage. Then ensue moments of silence, in
     which one would declare that the edifice is empty, and it does not
     seem possible that there should be seven hundred boys within; noisy
     outbursts of hilarity become audible, provoked by the jest of a
     master in a good humor. And the people who are passing halt, and
     all direct a glance of sympathy towards that pleasing building,
     which contains so much youth and so many hopes. Then a sudden dull
     sound is heard, a clapping to of books and portfolios, a shuffling
     of feet, a buzz which spreads from room to room, and from the lower
     to the higher, as at the sudden diffusion of a bit of good news: it
     is the beadle, who is making his rounds, announcing the dismissal
     of school. And at that sound a throng of women, men, girls, and
     youths press closer from this side and that of the door, waiting
     for their sons, brothers, or grandchildren; while from the doors of
     the class-rooms little boys shoot forth into the big hall, as from
     a spout, seize their little capes and hats, creating a great
     confusion with them on the floor, and dancing all about, until the
     beadle chases them forth one after the other. And at length they
     come forth, in long files, stamping their feet. And then from all
     the relatives there descends a shower of questions: "Did you know
     your lesson?--How much work did they give you?--What have you to do
     for to-morrow!--When does the monthly examination come?"

     And then even the poor mothers who do not know how to read, open
     the copy-books, gaze at the problems, and ask particulars: "Only
     eight?--Ten with commendation?--Nine for the lesson?"

     And they grow uneasy, and rejoice, and interrogate the masters, and
     talk of prospectuses and examinations. How beautiful all this is,
     and how great and how immense is its promise for the world!



    Sunday, 28th.

The month of May could not have had a better ending than my visit of
this morning. We heard a jingling of the bell, and all ran to see what
it meant. I heard my father say in a tone of astonishment:--

"You here, Giorgio?"

Giorgio was our gardener in Chieri, who now has his family at Condove,
and who had just arrived from Genoa, where he had disembarked on the
preceding day, on his return from Greece, where he has been working on
the railway for the last three years. He had a big bundle in his arms.
He has grown a little older, but his face is still red and jolly.

My father wished to have him enter; but he refused, and suddenly
inquired, assuming a serious expression:

"How is my family? How is Gigia?"

"She was well a few days ago," replied my mother.

Giorgio uttered a deep sigh.

"Oh, God be praised! I had not the courage to present myself at the
Deaf-mute Institution until I had heard about her. I will leave my
bundle here, and run to get her. It is three years since I have seen my
poor little daughter! Three years since I have seen any of my people!"

My father said to me, "Accompany him."

"Excuse me; one word more," said the gardener, from the landing.

My father interrupted him, "And your affairs?"

"All right," the other replied. "Thanks to God, I have brought back a
few soldi. But I wanted to inquire. Tell me how the education of the
little dumb girl is getting on. When I left her, she was a poor little
animal, poor thing! I don't put much faith in those colleges. Has she
learned how to make signs? My wife did write to me, to be sure, 'She is
learning to speak; she is making progress.' But I said to myself, What
is the use of her learning to talk if I don't know how to make the signs
myself? How shall we manage to understand each other, poor little thing?
That is well enough to enable them to understand each other, one
unfortunate to comprehend another unfortunate. How is she getting on,
then? How is she?"

My father smiled, and replied:--

"I shall not tell you anything about it; you will see; go, go; don't
waste another minute!"

We took our departure; the institute is close by. As we went along with
huge strides, the gardener talked to me, and grew sad.

"Ah, my poor Gigia! To be born with such an infirmity! To think that I
have never heard her call me _father_; that she has never heard me call
her _my daughter_; that she has never either heard or uttered a single
word since she has been in the world! And it is lucky that a charitable
gentleman was found to pay the expenses of the institution. But that is
all--she could not enter there until she was eight years old. She has
not been at home for three years. She is now going on eleven. And she
has grown? Tell me, she has grown? She is in good spirits?"

"You will see in a moment, you will see in a moment," I replied,
hastening my pace.

"But where is this institution?" he demanded. "My wife went with her
after I was gone. It seems to me that it ought to be near here."

We had just reached it. We at once entered the parlor. An attendant came
to meet us.

"I am the father of Gigia Voggi," said the gardener; "give me my
daughter instantly."

"They are at play," replied the attendant; "I will go and inform the
matron." And he hastened away.

The gardener could no longer speak nor stand still; he stared at all
four walls, without seeing anything.

The door opened; a teacher entered, dressed in black, holding a little
girl by the hand.

Father and daughter gazed at one another for an instant; then flew into
each other's arms, uttering a cry.

The girl was dressed in a white and reddish striped material, with a
gray apron. She is a little taller than I. She cried, and clung to her
father's neck with both arms.

Her father disengaged himself, and began to survey her from head to
foot, panting as though he had run a long way; and he exclaimed: "Ah,
how she has grown! How pretty she has become! Oh, my dear, poor Gigia!
My poor mute child!--Are you her teacher, signora? Tell her to make
some of her signs to me; for I shall be able to understand something,
and then I will learn little by little. Tell her to make me understand
something with her gestures."

The teacher smiled, and said in a low voice to the girl, "Who is this
man who has come to see you?"

And the girl replied with a smile, in a coarse, strange, dissonant
voice, like that of a savage who was speaking for the first time in our
language, but with a distinct pronunciation, "He is my fa-ther."

The gardener fell back a pace, and shrieked like a madman: "She speaks!
Is it possible! Is it possible! She speaks? Can you speak, my child? can
you speak? Say something to me: you can speak?" and he embraced her
afresh, and kissed her thrice on the brow. "But it is not with signs
that she talks, signora; it is not with her fingers? What does this

"No, Signor Voggi," rejoined the teacher, "it is not with signs. That
was the old way. Here we teach the new method, the oral method. How is
it that you did not know it?"

"I knew nothing about it!" replied the gardener, lost in amazement. "I
have been abroad for the last three years. Oh, they wrote to me, and I
did not understand. I am a blockhead. Oh, my daughter, you understand
me, then? Do you hear my voice? Answer me: do you hear me? Do you hear
what I say?"

"Why, no, my good man," said the teacher; "she does not hear your voice,
because she is deaf. She understands from the movements of your lips
what the words are that you utter; this is the way the thing is managed;
but she does not hear your voice any more than she does the words which
she speaks to you; she pronounces them, because we have taught her,
letter by letter, how she must place her lips and move her tongue, and
what effort she must make with her chest and throat, in order to emit a

The gardener did not understand, and stood with his mouth wide open. He
did not yet believe it.

"Tell me, Gigia," he asked his daughter, whispering in her ear, "are you
glad that your father has come back?" and he raised his face again, and
stood awaiting her reply.

The girl looked at him thoughtfully, and said nothing.

Her father was perturbed.

The teacher laughed. Then she said: "My good man, she does not answer
you, because she did not see the movements of your lips: you spoke in
her ear! Repeat your question, keeping your face well before hers."

The father, gazing straight in her face, repeated, "Are you glad that
your father has come back? that he is not going away again?"

The girl, who had observed his lips attentively, seeking even to see
inside his mouth, replied frankly:--

"Yes, I am de-light-ed that you have re-turned, that you are not go-ing
a-way a-gain--nev-er a-gain."

Her father embraced her impetuously, and then in great haste, in order
to make quite sure, he overwhelmed her with questions.

"What is mamma's name?"


"What is the name of your little sister?"


"What is the name of this college?"

"The Deaf-mute Insti-tution."

"How many are two times ten?"


While we thought that he was laughing for joy, he suddenly burst out
crying. But this was the result of joy also.

"Take courage," said the teacher to him; "you have reason to rejoice,
not to weep. You see that you are making your daughter cry also. You are
pleased, then?"

The gardener grasped the teacher's hand and kissed it two or three
times, saying: "Thanks, thanks, thanks! a hundred thanks, a thousand
thanks, dear Signora Teacher! and forgive me for not knowing how to say
anything else!"

"But she not only speaks," said the teacher; "your daughter also knows
how to write. She knows how to reckon. She knows the names of all common
objects. She knows a little history and geography. She is now in the
regular class. When she has passed through the two remaining classes,
she will know much more. When she leaves here, she will be in a
condition to adopt a profession. We already have deaf-mutes who stand in
the shops to serve customers, and they perform their duties like any one

Again the gardener was astounded. It seemed as though his ideas were
becoming confused again. He stared at his daughter and scratched his
head. His face demanded another explanation.

Then the teacher turned to the attendant and said to him:--

"Call a child of the preparatory class for me."

The attendant returned, in a short time, with a deaf-mute of eight or
nine years, who had entered the institution a few days before.

"This girl," said the mistress, "is one of those whom we are instructing
in the first elements. This is the way it is done. I want to make her
say _a_. Pay attention."

The teacher opened her mouth, as one opens it to pronounce the vowel
_a_, and motioned to the child to open her mouth in the same manner.
Then the mistress made her a sign to emit her voice. She did so; but
instead of _a_, she pronounced _o_.

"No," said the mistress, "that is not right." And taking the child's two
hands, she placed one of them on her own throat and the other on her
chest, and repeated, "_a_."

The child felt with her hands the movements of the mistress's throat and
chest, opened her mouth again as before, and pronounced extremely well,

In the same manner, the mistress made her pronounce _c_ and _d_, still
keeping the two little hands on her own throat and chest.

"Now do you understand?" she inquired.

The father understood; but he seemed more astonished than when he had
not understood.

"And they are taught to speak in the same way?" he asked, after a moment
of reflection, gazing at the teacher. "You have the patience to teach
them to speak in that manner, little by little, and so many of them? one
by one--through years and years? But you are saints; that's what you
are! You are angels of paradise! There is not in the world a reward that
is worthy of you! What is there that I can say? Ah! leave me alone with
my daughter a little while now. Let me have her to myself for five

And drawing her to a seat apart he began to interrogate her, and she to
reply, and he laughed with beaming eyes, slapping his fists down on his
knees; and he took his daughter's hands, and stared at her, beside
himself with delight at hearing her, as though her voice had been one
which came from heaven; then he asked the teacher, "Would the Signor
Director permit me to thank him?"

"The director is not here," replied the mistress; "but there is another
person whom you should thank. Every little girl here is given into the
charge of an older companion, who acts the part of sister or mother to
her. Your little girl has been intrusted to the care of a deaf-mute of
seventeen, the daughter of a baker, who is kind and very fond of her;
she has been assisting her for two years to dress herself every morning;
she combs her hair, she teaches her to sew, she mends her clothes, she
is good company for her.--Luigia, what is the name of your mamma in the

The girl smiled, and said, "Ca-te-rina Gior-dano." Then she said to her
father, "She is ve-ry, ve-ry good."

The attendant, who had withdrawn at a signal from the mistress, returned
almost at once with a light-haired deaf-mute, a robust girl, with a
cheerful countenance, and also dressed in the red and white striped
stuff, with a gray apron; she paused at the door and blushed; then she
bent her head with a smile. She had the figure of a woman, but seemed
like a child.

Giorgio's daughter instantly ran to her, took her by the arm, like a
child, and drew her to her father, saying, in her heavy voice,
"Ca-te-rina Gior-dano."

"Ah, what a splendid girl!" exclaimed her father; and he stretched out
one hand to caress her, but drew it back again, and repeated, "Ah, what
a good girl! May God bless her, may He grant her all good fortune, all
consolations; may He make her and hers always happy, so good a girl is
she, my poor Gigia! It is an honest workingman, the poor father of a
family, who wishes you this with all his heart."

The big girl caressed the little one, still keeping her face bent, and
smiling, and the gardener continued to gaze at her, as at a madonna.

"You can take your daughter with you for the day," said the mistress.

"Won't I take her, though!" rejoined the gardener. "I'll take her to
Condove, and fetch her back to-morrow morning. Think for a bit whether I
won't take her!"

The girl ran off to dress.

"It is three years since I have seen her!" repeated the gardener. "Now
she speaks! I will take her to Condove with me on the instant. But first
I shall take a ramble about Turin, with my deaf-mute on my arm, so that
all may see her, and take her to see some of my friends! Ah, what a
beautiful day! This is consolation indeed!--Here's your father's arm, my

The girl, who had returned with a little mantle and cap on, took his

"And thanks to all!" said the father, as he reached the threshold.
"Thanks to all, with my whole soul! I shall come back another time to
thank you all again."

He stood for a moment in thought, then disengaged himself abruptly from
the girl, turned back, fumbling in his waistcoat with his hand, and
shouted like a man in a fury:--

"Come now, I am not a poor devil! So here, I leave twenty lire for the
institution,--a fine new gold piece."

And with a tremendous bang, he deposited his gold piece on the table.

"No, no, my good man," said the mistress, with emotion. "Take back your
money. I cannot accept it. Take it back. It is not my place. You shall
see about that when the director is here. But he will not accept
anything either; be sure of that. You have toiled too hard to earn it,
poor man. We shall be greatly obliged to you, all the same."

"No; I shall leave it," replied the gardener, obstinately; "and then--we
will see."

But the mistress put his money back in his pocket, without leaving him
time to reject it. And then he resigned himself with a shake of the
head; and then, wafting a kiss to the mistress and to the large girl, he
quickly took his daughter's arm again, and hurried with her out of the
door, saying:--

"Come, come, my daughter, my poor dumb child, my treasure!"

And the girl exclaimed, in her harsh voice:--

"Oh, how beau-ti-ful the sun is!"



    June 3d.

    To-morrow is the National Festival Day.

     TO-DAY is a day of national mourning. Garibaldi died last night. Do
     you know who he is? He is the man who liberated ten millions of
     Italians from the tyranny of the Bourbons. He died at the age of
     seventy-five. He was born at Nice, the son of a ship captain. At
     eight years of age, he saved a woman's life; at thirteen, he
     dragged into safety a boat-load of his companions who were
     shipwrecked; at twenty-seven, he rescued from the water at
     Marseilles a drowning youth; at forty-one, he saved a ship from
     burning on the ocean. He fought for ten years in America for the
     liberty of a strange people; he fought in three wars against the
     Austrians, for the liberation of Lombardy and Trentino; he defended
     Rome from the French in 1849; he delivered Naples and Palermo in
     1860; he fought again for Rome in 1867; he combated with the
     Germans in defence of France in 1870. He was possessed of the flame
     of heroism and the genius of war. He was engaged in forty battles,
     and won thirty-seven of them.

     When he was not fighting, he was laboring for his living, or he
     shut himself up in a solitary island, and tilled the soil. He was
     teacher, sailor, workman, trader, soldier, general, dictator. He
     was simple, great, and good. He hated all oppressors, he loved all
     peoples, he protected all the weak; he had no other aspiration than
     good, he refused honors, he scorned death, he adored Italy. When he
     uttered his war-cry, legions of valorous men hastened to him from
     all quarters; gentlemen left their palaces, workmen their ships,
     youths their schools, to go and fight in the sunshine of his glory.
     In time of war he wore a red shirt. He was strong, blond, and
     handsome. On the field of battle he was a thunder-bolt, in his
     affections he was a child, in affliction a saint. Thousands of
     Italians have died for their country, happy, if, when dying, they
     saw him pass victorious in the distance; thousands would have
     allowed themselves to be killed for him; millions have blessed and
     will bless him.

     He is dead. The whole world mourns him. You do not understand him
     now. But you will read of his deeds, you will constantly hear him
     spoken of in the course of your life; and gradually, as you grow
     up, his image will grow before you; when you become a man, you will
     behold him as a giant; and when you are no longer in the world,
     when your sons' sons and those who shall be born from them are no
     longer among the living, the generations will still behold on high
     his luminous head as a redeemer of the peoples, crowned by the
     names of his victories as with a circlet of stars; and the brow and
     the soul of every Italian will beam when he utters his name.



    Sunday, 11th.

    The National Festival Day. Postponed for a week on
    account of the death of Garibaldi.

We have been to the Piazza Castello, to see the review of soldiers, who
defiled before the commandant of the army corps, between two vast lines
of people. As they marched past to the sound of flourishes from trumpets
and bands, my father pointed out to me the Corps and the glories of the
banners. First, the pupils of the Academy, those who will become
officers in the Engineers and the Artillery, about three hundred in
number, dressed in black, passed with the bold and easy elegance of
students and soldiers. After them defiled the infantry, the brigade of
Aosta, which fought at Goito and at San Martino, and the Bergamo
brigade, which fought at Castelfidardo, four regiments of them, company
after company, thousands of red aiguillettes, which seemed like so many
double and very long garlands of blood-colored flowers, extended and
agitated from the two ends, and borne athwart the crowd. After the
infantry, the soldiers of the Mining Corps advanced,--the workingmen of
war, with their plumes of black horse-tails, and their crimson bands;
and while these were passing, we beheld advancing behind them hundreds
of long, straight plumes, which rose above the heads of the spectators;
they were the mountaineers, the defenders of the portals of Italy, all
tall, rosy, and stalwart, with hats of Calabrian fashion, and revers of
a beautiful, bright green, the color of the grass on their native
mountains. The mountaineers were still marching past, when a quiver ran
through the crowd, and the _bersaglieri_, the old twelfth battalion, the
first who entered Rome through the breach at the Porta Pia, bronzed,
alert, brisk, with fluttering plumes, passed like a wave in a sea of
black, making the piazza ring with the shrill blasts of their trumpets,
which seemed shouts of joy. But their trumpeting was drowned by a broken
and hollow rumble, which announced the field artillery; and then the
latter passed in triumph, seated on their lofty caissons, drawn by three
hundred pairs of fiery horses,--those fine soldiers with yellow lacings,
and their long cannons of brass and steel gleaming on the light
carriages, as they jolted and resounded, and made the earth tremble.

And then came the mountain artillery, slowly, gravely, beautiful in its
laborious and rude semblance, with its large soldiers, with its
powerful mules--that mountain artillery which carries dismay and death
wherever man can set his foot. And last of all, the fine regiment of the
Genoese cavalry, which had wheeled down like a whirlwind on ten fields
of battle, from Santa Lucia to Villafranca, passed at a gallop, with
their helmets glittering in the sun, their lances erect, their pennons
floating in the air, sparkling with gold and silver, filling the air
with jingling and neighing.

"How beautiful it is!" I exclaimed. My father almost reproved me for
these words, and said to me:--

"You are not to regard the army as a fine spectacle. All these young
men, so full of strength and hope, may be called upon any day to defend
our country, and fall in a few hours, crushed to fragments by bullets
and grape-shot. Every time that you hear the cry, at a feast, 'Hurrah
for the army! hurrah for Italy!' picture to yourself, behind the
regiments which are passing, a plain covered with corpses, and inundated
with blood, and then the greeting to the army will proceed from the very
depths of your heart, and the image of Italy will appear to you more
severe and grand."


    Tuesday, 14th.

     Salute your country thus, on days of festival: "Italy, my country,
     dear and noble land, where my father and my mother were born, and
     where they will be buried, where I hope to live and die, where my
     children will grow up and die; beautiful Italy, great and glorious
     for many centuries, united and free for a few years; thou who didst
     disseminate so great a light of intellect divine over the world,
     and for whom so many valiant men have died on the battle-field,
     and so many heroes on the gallows; august mother of three hundred
     cities, and thirty millions of sons; I, a child, who do not
     understand thee as yet, and who do not know thee in thy entirety, I
     venerate and love thee with all my soul, and I am proud of having
     been born of thee, and of calling myself thy son. I love thy
     splendid seas and thy sublime mountains; I love thy solemn
     monuments and thy immortal memories; I love thy glory and thy
     beauty; I love and venerate the whole of thee as that beloved
     portion of thee where I, for the first time, beheld the light and
     heard thy name. I love the whole of thee, with a single affection
     and with equal gratitude,--Turin the valiant, Genoa the superb,
     Bologna the learned, Venice the enchanting, Milan the mighty; I
     love you with the uniform reverence of a son, gentle Florence and
     terrible Palermo, immense and beautiful Naples, marvellous and
     eternal Rome. I love thee, my sacred country! And I swear that I
     will love all thy sons like brothers; that I will always honor in
     my heart thy great men, living and dead; that I will be an
     industrious and honest citizen, constantly intent on ennobling
     myself, in order to render myself worthy of thee, to assist with my
     small powers in causing misery, ignorance, injustice, crime, to
     disappear one day from thy face, so that thou mayest live and
     expand tranquilly in the majesty of thy right and of thy strength.
     I swear that I will serve thee, as it may be granted to me, with my
     mind, with my arm, with my heart, humbly, ardently; and that, if
     the day should dawn in which I should be called on to give my blood
     for thee and my life, I will give my blood, and I will die, crying
     thy holy name to heaven, and wafting my last kiss to thy blessed


    [Illustration: "WE DESCENDED, RUNNING AND SINGING."--Page 30.]


    Friday, 16th.

During the five days which have passed since the National Festival, the
heat has increased by three degrees. We are in full summer now, and
begin to feel weary; all have lost their fine rosy color of springtime;
necks and legs are growing thin, heads droop and eyes close. Poor Nelli,
who suffers much from the heat, has turned the color of wax in the face;
he sometimes falls into a heavy sleep, with his head on his copy-book;
but Garrone is always watchful, and places an open book upright in front
of him, so that the master may not see him. Crossi rests his red head
against the bench in a certain way, so that it looks as though it had
been detached from his body and placed there separately. Nobis complains
that there are too many of us, and that we corrupt the air. Ah, what an
effort it costs now to study! I gaze through the windows at those
beautiful trees which cast so deep a shade, where I should be so glad to
run, and sadness and wrath overwhelm me at being obliged to go and shut
myself up among the benches. But then I take courage at the sight of my
kind mother, who is always watching me, scrutinizing me, when I return
from school, to see whether I am not pale; and at every page of my work
she says to me:--

"Do you still feel well?" and every morning at six, when she wakes me
for my lesson, "Courage! there are only so many days more: then you will
be free, and will get rested,--you will go to the shade of country

Yes, she is perfectly right to remind me of the boys who are working in
the fields in the full heat of the sun, or among the white sands of the
river, which blind and scorch them, and of those in the glass-factories,
who stand all day long motionless, with head bent over a flame of gas;
and all of them rise earlier than we do, and have no vacations. Courage,
then! And even in this respect, Derossi is at the head of all, for he
suffers neither from heat nor drowsiness; he is always wide awake, and
cheery, with his golden curls, as he was in the winter, and he studies
without effort, and keeps all about him alert, as though he freshened
the air with his voice.

And there are two others, also, who are always awake and attentive:
stubborn Stardi, who pricks his face, to prevent himself from going to
sleep; and the more weary and heated he is, the more he sets his teeth,
and he opens his eyes so wide that it seems as though he wanted to eat
the teacher; and that barterer of a Garoffi, who is wholly absorbed in
manufacturing fans out of red paper, decorated with little figures from
match-boxes, which he sells at two centesimi apiece.

But the bravest of all is Coretti; poor Coretti, who gets up at five
o'clock, to help his father carry wood! At eleven, in school, he can no
longer keep his eyes open, and his head droops on his breast. And
nevertheless, he shakes himself, punches himself on the back of the
neck, asks permission to go out and wash his face, and makes his
neighbors shake and pinch him. But this morning he could not resist, and
he fell into a leaden sleep. The master called him loudly; "Coretti!" He
did not hear. The master, irritated, repeated, "Coretti!" Then the son
of the charcoal-man, who lives next to him at home, rose and said:--

"He worked from five until seven carrying faggots." The teacher allowed
him to sleep on, and continued with the lesson for half an hour. Then he
went to Coretti's seat, and wakened him very, very gently, by blowing in
his face. On beholding the master in front of him, he started back in
alarm. But the master took his head in his hands, and said, as he kissed
him on the hair:--

"I am not reproving you, my son. Your sleep is not at all that of
laziness; it is the sleep of fatigue."


    Saturday, 17th.

     Surely, neither your comrade Coretti nor Garrone would ever have
     answered their fathers as you answered yours this afternoon.
     Enrico! How is it possible? You must promise me solemnly that this
     shall never happen again so long as I live. Every time that an
     impertinent reply flies to your lips at a reproof from your father,
     think of that day which will infallibly come when he will call you
     to his bedside to tell you, "Enrico, I am about to leave you." Oh,
     my son, when you hear his voice for the last time, and for a long
     while afterwards, when you weep alone in his deserted room, in the
     midst of those books which he will never open again, then, on
     recalling that you have at times been wanting in respect to him,
     you, too, will ask yourself, "How is it possible?" Then you will
     understand that he has always been your best friend, that when he
     was constrained to punish you, it caused him more suffering than it
     did you, and that he never made you weep except for the sake of
     doing you good; and then you will repent, and you will kiss with
     tears that desk at which he worked so much, at which he wore out
     his life for his children. You do not understand now; he hides from
     you all of himself except his kindness and his love. You do not
     know that he is sometimes so broken down with toil that he thinks
     he has only a few more days to live, and that at such moments he
     talks only of you; he has in his heart no other trouble than that
     of leaving you poor and without protection.

     And how often, when meditating on this, does he enter your chamber
     while you are asleep, and stand there, lamp in hand, gazing at you;
     and then he makes an effort, and weary and sad as he is, he returns
     to his labor; and neither do you know that he often seeks you and
     remains with you because he has a bitterness in his heart, sorrows
     which attack all men in the world, and he seeks you as a friend, to
     obtain consolation himself and forgetfulness, and he feels the need
     of taking refuge in your affection, to recover his serenity and his
     courage: think, then, what must be his sorrow, when instead of
     finding in you affection, he finds coldness and disrespect! Never
     again stain yourself with this horrible ingratitude! Reflect, that
     were you as good as a saint, you could never repay him sufficiently
     for what he has done and for what he is constantly doing for you.
     And reflect, also, we cannot count on life; a misfortune might
     remove your father while you are still a boy,--in two years, in
     three months, to-morrow.

     Ah, my poor Enrico, when you see all about you changing, how empty,
     how desolate the house will appear, with your poor mother clothed
     in black! Go, my son, go to your father; he is in his room at work;
     go on tiptoe, so that he may not hear you enter; go and lay your
     forehead on his knees, and beseech him to pardon and to bless you.



    Monday, 19th.

My good father forgave me, even on this occasion, and allowed me to go
on an expedition to the country, which had been arranged on Wednesday,
with the father of Coretti, the wood-peddler.

We were all in need of a mouthful of hill air. It was a festival day.
We met yesterday at two o'clock in the place of the Statuto, Derossi,
Garrone, Garoffi, Precossi, Coretti, father and son, and I, with our
provisions of fruit, sausages, and hard-boiled eggs; we had also leather
bottles and tin cups. Garrone carried a gourd filled with white wine;
Coretti, his father's soldier-canteen, full of red wine; and little
Precossi, in the blacksmith's blouse, held under his arm a
two-kilogramme loaf.

We went in the omnibus as far as Gran Madre di Dio, and then off, as
briskly as possible, to the hills. How green, how shady, how fresh it
was! We rolled over and over in the grass, we dipped our faces in the
rivulets, we leaped the hedges. The elder Coretti followed us at a
distance, with his jacket thrown over his shoulders, smoking his clay
pipe, and from time to time threatening us with his hand, to prevent our
tearing holes in our trousers.

Precossi whistled; I had never heard him whistle before. The younger
Coretti did the same, as he went along. That little fellow knows
how to make everything with his jack-knife a finger's length
long,--mill-wheels, forks, squirts; and he insisted on carrying the
other boys' things, and he was loaded down until he was dripping with
perspiration, but he was still as nimble as a goat. Derossi halted every
moment to tell us the names of the plants and insects. I don't
understand how he manages to know so many things. And Garrone nibbled at
his bread in silence; but he no longer attacks it with the cheery bites
of old, poor Garrone! now that he has lost his mother. But he is always
as good as bread himself. When one of us ran back to obtain the momentum
for leaping a ditch, he ran to the other side, and held out his hands to
us; and as Precossi was afraid of cows, having been tossed by one when
a child, Garrone placed himself in front of him every time that we
passed any. We mounted up to Santa Margherita, and then went down the
decline by leaps, rolls, and slides. Precossi tumbled into a thorn-bush,
and tore a hole in his blouse, and stood there overwhelmed with shame,
with the strip dangling; but Garoffi, who always has pins in his jacket,
fixed it so that it was not perceptible, while the other kept saying,
"Excuse me, excuse me," and then he set out to run once more.

Garoffi did not waste his time on the way; he picked salad herbs and
snails, and put every stone that glistened in the least into his pocket,
supposing that there was gold and silver in it. And on we went, running,
rolling, and climbing through the shade and in the sun, up and down,
through all the lanes and cross-roads, until we arrived dishevelled and
breathless at the crest of a hill, where we seated ourselves to take our
lunch on the grass.

We could see an immense plain, and all the blue Alps with their white
summits. We were dying of hunger; the bread seemed to be melting. The
elder Coretti handed us our portions of sausage on gourd leaves. And
then we all began to talk at once about the teachers, the comrades who
had not been able to come, and the examinations. Precossi was rather
ashamed to eat, and Garrone thrust the best bits of his share into his
mouth by force. Coretti was seated next his father, with his legs
crossed; they seem more like two brothers than father and son, when seen
thus together, both rosy and smiling, with those white teeth of theirs.
The father drank with zest, emptying the bottles and the cups which we
left half finished, and said:--

"Wine hurts you boys who are studying; it is the wood-sellers who need
it." Then he grasped his son by the nose, and shook him, saying to us,
"Boys, you must love this fellow, for he is a flower of a man of honor;
I tell you so myself!" And then we all laughed, except Garrone. And he
went on, as he drank, "It's a shame, eh! now you are all good friends
together, and in a few years, who knows, Enrico and Derossi will be
lawyers or professors or I don't know what, and the other four of you
will be in shops or at a trade, and the deuce knows where, and
then--good night comrades!"

"Nonsense!" rejoined Derossi; "for me, Garrone will always be Garrone,
Precossi will always be Precossi, and the same with all the others, were
I to become the emperor of Russia: where they are, there I shall go

"Bless you!" exclaimed the elder Coretti, raising his flask; "that's the
way to talk, by Heavens! Touch your glass here! Hurrah for brave
comrades, and hurrah for school, which makes one family of you, of those
who have and those who have not!"

We all clinked his flask with the skins and the cups, and drank for the
last time.

"Hurrah for the fourth of the 49th!" he cried, as he rose to his feet,
and swallowed the last drop; "and if you have to do with squadrons too,
see that you stand firm, like us old ones, my lads!"

It was already late. We descended, running and singing, and walking long
distances all arm in arm, and we arrived at the Po as twilight fell, and
thousands of fireflies were flitting about. And we only parted in the
Piazza dello Statuto after having agreed to meet there on the following
Sunday, and go to the Vittorio Emanuele to see the distribution of
prizes to the graduates of the evening schools.

What a beautiful day! How happy I should have been on my return home,
had I not encountered my poor schoolmistress! I met her coming down the
staircase of our house, almost in the dark, and, as soon as she
recognized me, she took both my hands, and whispered in my ear, "Good
by, Enrico; remember me!" I perceived that she was weeping. I went up
and told my mother about it.

"I have just met my schoolmistress."--"She was just going to bed,"
replied my mother, whose eyes were red. And then she added very sadly,
gazing intently at me, "Your poor teacher--is very ill."


    Sunday, 25th.

As we had agreed, we all went together to the Theatre Vittorio Emanuele,
to view the distribution of prizes to the workingmen. The theatre was
adorned as on the 14th of March, and thronged, but almost wholly with
the families of workmen; and the pit was occupied with the male and
female pupils of the school of choral singing. These sang a hymn to the
soldiers who had died in the Crimea; which was so beautiful that, when
it was finished, all rose and clapped and shouted, so that the song had
to be repeated from the beginning. And then the prize-winners began
immediately to march past the mayor, the prefect, and many others, who
presented them with books, savings-bank books, diplomas, and medals. In
one corner of the pit I espied the little mason, sitting beside his
mother; and in another place there was the head-master; and behind him,
the red head of my master of the second grade.

The first to defile were the pupils of the evening drawing classes--the
goldsmiths, engravers, lithographers, and also the carpenters and
masons; then those of the commercial school; then those of the Musical
Lyceum, among them several girls, workingwomen, all dressed in festal
attire, who were saluted with great applause, and who laughed. Last came
the pupils of the elementary evening schools, and then it began to be a
beautiful sight. They were of all ages, of all trades, and dressed in
all sorts of ways,--men with gray hair, factory boys, artisans with big
black beards. The little ones were at their ease; the men, a little
embarrassed. The people clapped the oldest and the youngest, but none of
the spectators laughed, as they did at our festival: all faces were
attentive and serious.

Many of the prize-winners had wives and children in the pit, and there
were little children who, when they saw their father pass across the
stage, called him by name at the tops of their voices, and signalled to
him with their hands, laughing violently. Peasants passed, and porters;
they were from the Buoncompagni School. From the Cittadella School there
was a bootblack whom my father knew, and the prefect gave him a diploma.
After him I saw approaching a man as big as a giant, whom I fancied that
I had seen several times before. It was the father of the little mason,
who had won the second prize. I remembered when I had seen him in the
garret, at the bedside of his sick son, and I immediately sought out his
son in the pit. Poor little mason! he was staring at his father with
beaming eyes, and, in order to conceal his emotion, he made his hare's
face. At that moment I heard a burst of applause, and I glanced at the
stage: a little chimney-sweep stood there, with a clean face, but in his
working-clothes, and the mayor was holding him by the hand and talking
to him.

After the chimney-sweep came a cook; then came one of the city sweepers,
from the Raineri School, to get a prize. I felt I know not what in my
heart,--something like a great affection and a great respect, at the
thought of how much those prizes had cost all those workingmen, fathers
of families, full of care; how much toil added to their labors, how many
hours snatched from their sleep, of which they stand in such great need,
and what efforts of intelligences not habituated to study, and of huge
hands rendered clumsy with work!

A factory boy passed, and it was evident that his father had lent him
his jacket for the occasion, for his sleeves hung down so that he was
forced to turn them back on the stage, in order to receive his prize:
and many laughed; but the laugh was speedily stifled by the applause.
Next came an old man with a bald head and a white beard. Several
artillery soldiers passed, from among those who attended evening school
in our schoolhouse; then came custom-house guards and policemen, from
among those who guard our schools.

At the conclusion, the pupils of the evening schools again sang the hymn
to the dead in the Crimea, but this time with so much dash, with a
strength of affection which came so directly from the heart, that the
audience hardly applauded at all, and all retired in deep emotion,
slowly and noiselessly.

In a few moments the whole street was thronged. In front of the
entrance to the theatre was the chimney-sweep, with his prize book bound
in red, and all around were gentlemen talking to him. Many exchanged
salutations from the opposite side of the street,--workmen, boys,
policemen, teachers. My master of the second grade came out in the midst
of the crowd, between two artillery men. And there were workmen's wives
with babies in their arms, who held in their tiny hands their father's
diploma, and exhibited it to the crowd in their pride.


    Tuesday, 27th.

While we were at the Theatre Vittorio Emanuele, my poor schoolmistress
died. She died at two o'clock, a week after she had come to see my
mother. The head-master came to the school yesterday morning to announce
it to us; and he said:--

"Those of you who were her pupils know how good she was, how she loved
her boys: she was a mother to them. Now, she is no more. For a long time
a terrible malady has been sapping her life. If she had not been obliged
to work to earn her bread, she could have taken care of herself, and
perhaps recovered. At all events, she could have prolonged her life for
several months, if she had procured a leave of absence. But she wished
to remain among her boys to the very last day. On the evening of
Saturday, the seventeenth, she took leave of them, with the certainty
that she should never see them again. She gave them good advice, kissed
them all, and went away sobbing. No one will ever behold her again.
Remember her, my boys!"

Little Precossi, who had been one of her pupils in the upper primary,
dropped his head on his desk and began to cry.

Yesterday afternoon, after school, we all went together to the house of
the dead woman, to accompany her to church. There was a hearse in the
street, with two horses, and many people were waiting, and conversing in
a low voice. There was the head-master, all the masters and mistresses
from our school, and from the other schoolhouses where she had taught in
bygone years. There were nearly all the little children in her classes,
led by the hand by their mothers, who carried tapers; and there were a
very great many from the other classes, and fifty scholars from the
Baretti School, some with wreaths in their hands, some with bunches of
roses. A great many bouquets of flowers had already been placed on the
hearse, upon which was fastened a large wreath of acacia, with an
inscription in black letters: _The old pupils of the fourth grade to
their mistress_. And under the large wreath a little one was suspended,
which the babies had brought. Among the crowd were visible many
servant-women, who had been sent by their mistresses with candles; and
there were also two serving-men in livery, with lighted torches; and a
wealthy gentleman, the father of one of the mistress's scholars, had
sent his carriage, lined with blue satin. All were crowded together near
the door. Several girls were wiping away their tears.

We waited for a while in silence. At length the casket was brought out.
Some of the little ones began to cry loudly when they saw the coffin
slid into the hearse, and one began to shriek, as though he had only
then comprehended that his mistress was dead, and he was seized with
such a convulsive fit of sobbing, that they were obliged to carry him

The procession got slowly into line and set out. First came the
daughters of the Ritiro della Concezione, dressed in green; then the
daughters of Maria, all in white, with a blue ribbon; then the priests;
and behind the hearse, the masters and mistresses, the tiny scholars of
the upper primary, and all the others; and, at the end of all, the
crowd. People came to the windows and to the doors, and on seeing all
those boys, and the wreath, they said, "It is a schoolmistress." Even
some of the ladies who accompanied the smallest children wept.

When the church was reached, the casket was removed from the hearse, and
carried to the middle of the nave, in front of the great altar: the
mistresses laid their wreaths on it, the children covered it with
flowers, and the people all about, with lighted candles in their hands,
began to chant the prayers in the vast and gloomy church. Then, all of a
sudden, when the priest had said the last _amen_, the candles were
extinguished, and all went away in haste, and the mistress was left
alone. Poor mistress, who was so kind to me, who had so much patience,
who had toiled for so many years! She has left her little books to her
scholars, and everything which she possessed,--to one an inkstand, to
another a little picture; and two days before her death, she said to the
head-master that he was not to allow the smallest of them to go to her
funeral, because she did not wish them to cry.

She has done good, she has suffered, she is dead! Poor mistress, left
alone in that dark church! Farewell! Farewell forever, my kind friend,
sad and sweet memory of my infancy!


    Wednesday, 28th.

My poor schoolmistress wanted to finish her year of school: she departed
only three days before the end of the lessons. Day after to-morrow we go
once more to the schoolroom to hear the reading of the monthly story,
_Shipwreck_, and then--it is over. On Saturday, the first of July, the
examinations begin. And then another year, the fourth, is past! And if
my mistress had not died, it would have passed well.

I thought over all that I had known on the preceding October, and it
seems to me that I know a good deal more: I have so many new things in
my mind; I can say and write what I think better than I could then; I
can also do the sums of many grown-up men who know nothing about it, and
help them in their affairs; and I understand much more: I understand
nearly everything that I read. I am satisfied. But how many people have
urged me on and helped me to learn, one in one way, and another in
another, at home, at school, in the street,--everywhere where I have
been and where I have seen anything! And now, I thank you all. I thank
you first, my good teacher, for having been so indulgent and
affectionate with me; for you every new acquisition of mine was a labor,
for which I now rejoice and of which I am proud. I thank you, Derossi,
my admirable companion, for your prompt and kind explanations, for you
have made me understand many of the most difficult things, and overcome
stumbling-blocks at examinations; and you, too, Stardi, you brave and
strong boy, who have showed me how a will of iron succeeds in
everything: and you, kind, generous Garrone, who make all those who
know you kind and generous too; and you too, Precossi and Coretti, who
have given me an example of courage in suffering, and of serenity in
toil, I render thanks to you: I render thanks to all the rest. But above
all, I thank thee, my father, thee, my first teacher, my first friend,
who hast given me so many wise counsels, and hast taught me so many
things, whilst thou wert working for me, always concealing thy sadness
from me, and seeking in all ways to render study easy, and life
beautiful to me; and thee, sweet mother, my beloved and blessed guardian
angel, who hast tasted all my joys, and suffered all my bitternesses,
who hast studied, worked, and wept with me, with one hand caressing my
brow, and with the other pointing me to heaven. I kneel before you, as
when I was a little child; I thank you for all the tenderness which you
have instilled into my mind through twelve years of sacrifices and of


(_Last Monthly Story._)

One morning in the month of December, several years ago, there sailed
from the port of Liverpool a huge steamer, which had on board two
hundred persons, including a crew of sixty. The captain and nearly all
the sailors were English. Among the passengers there were several
Italians,--three gentlemen, a priest, and a company of musicians. The
steamer was bound for the island of Malta. The weather was threatening.

Among the third-class passengers forward, was an Italian lad of a dozen
years, small for his age, but robust; a bold, handsome, austere face,
of Sicilian type. He was alone near the fore-mast, seated on a coil of
cordage, beside a well-worn valise, which contained his effects, and
upon which he kept a hand. His face was brown, and his black and wavy
hair descended to his shoulders. He was meanly clad, and had a tattered
mantle thrown over his shoulders, and an old leather pouch on a
cross-belt. He gazed thoughtfully about him at the passengers, the ship,
the sailors who were running past, and at the restless sea. He had the
appearance of a boy who has recently issued from a great family
sorrow,--the face of a child, the expression of a man.

A little after their departure, one of the steamer's crew, an Italian
with gray hair, made his appearance on the bow, holding by the hand a
little girl; and coming to a halt in front of the little Sicilian, he
said to him:--

"Here's a travelling companion for you, Mario." Then he went away.

The girl seated herself on the pile of cordage beside the boy.

They surveyed each other.

"Where are you going?" asked the Sicilian.

The girl replied: "To Malta on the way of Naples." Then she added: "I am
going to see my father and mother, who are expecting me. My name is
Giulietta Faggiani."

The boy said nothing.

After the lapse of a few minutes, he drew some bread from his pouch, and
some dried fruit; the girl had some biscuits: they began to eat.

"Look sharp there!" shouted the Italian sailor, as he passed rapidly; "a
lively time is at hand!"

The wind continued to increase, the steamer pitched heavily; but the two
children, who did not suffer from seasickness, paid no heed to it. The
little girl smiled. She was about the same age as her companion, but was
considerably taller, brown of complexion, slender, somewhat sickly, and
dressed more than modestly. Her hair was short and curling, she wore a
red kerchief over her head, and two hoops of silver in her ears.

As they ate, they talked about themselves and their affairs. The boy had
no longer either father or mother. The father, an artisan, had died a
few days previously in Liverpool, leaving him alone; and the Italian
consul had sent him back to his country, to Palermo, where he had still
some distant relatives left. The little girl had been taken to London,
the year before, by a widowed aunt, who was very fond of her, and to
whom her parents--poor people--had given her for a time, trusting in a
promise of an inheritance; but the aunt had died a few months later, run
over by an omnibus, without leaving a centesimo; and then she too had
had recourse to the consul, who had shipped her to Italy. Both had been
recommended to the care of the Italian sailor.--"So," concluded the
little maid, "my father and mother thought that I would return rich, and
instead I am returning poor. But they will love me all the same. And so
will my brothers. I have four, all small. I am the oldest at home. I
dress them. They will be greatly delighted to see me. They will come in
on tiptoe--The sea is ugly!"

Then she asked the boy: "And are you going to stay with your relatives?"

"Yes--if they want me."

"Do not they love you?"

"I don't know."

"I shall be thirteen at Christmas," said the girl.

Then they began to talk about the sea, and the people on board around
them. They remained near each other all day, exchanging a few words now
and then. The passengers thought them brother and sister. The girl
knitted at a stocking, the boy meditated, the sea continued to grow
rougher. At night, as they parted to go to bed, the girl said to Mario,
"Sleep well."

"No one will sleep well, my poor children!" exclaimed the Italian sailor
as he ran past, in answer to a call from the captain. The boy was on the
point of replying with a "good night" to his little friend, when an
unexpected dash of water dealt him a violent blow, and flung him against
a seat.

"My dear, you are bleeding!" cried the girl, flinging herself upon him.
The passengers who were making their escape below, paid no heed to them.
The child knelt down beside Mario, who had been stunned by the blow,
wiped the blood from his brow, and pulling the red kerchief from her
hair, she bound it about his head, then pressed his head to her breast
in order to knot the ends, and thus received a spot of blood on her
yellow bodice just above the girdle. Mario shook himself and rose:

"Are you better?" asked the girl.

"I no longer feel it," he replied.

"Sleep well," said Giulietta.

"Good night," responded Mario. And they descended two neighboring sets
of steps to their dormitories.

The sailor's prediction proved correct. Before they could get to sleep,
a frightful tempest had broken loose. It was like the sudden onslaught
of furious great horses, which in the course of a few minutes split one
mast, and carried away three boats which were suspended to the falls,
and four cows on the bow, like leaves. On board the steamer there arose
a confusion, a terror, an uproar, a tempest of shrieks, wails, and
prayers, sufficient to make the hair stand on end. The tempest continued
to increase in fury all night. At daybreak it was still increasing. The
formidable waves dashing the craft transversely, broke over the deck,
and smashed, split, and hurled everything into the sea. The platform
which screened the engine was destroyed, and the water dashed in with a
terrible roar; the fires were extinguished; the engineers fled; huge and
impetuous streams forced their way everywhere. A voice of thunder

"To the pumps!" It was the captain's voice. The sailors rushed to the
pumps. But a sudden burst of the sea, striking the vessel on the stern,
demolished bulwarks and hatchways, and sent a flood within.

All the passengers, more dead than alive, had taken refuge in the grand
saloon. At last the captain made his appearance.

"Captain! Captain!" they all shrieked in concert. "What is taking place?
Where are we? Is there any hope! Save us!"

The captain waited until they were silent, then said coolly; "Let us be

One woman uttered a cry of "Mercy!" No one else could give vent to a
sound. Terror had frozen them all. A long time passed thus, in a silence
like that of the grave. All gazed at each other with blanched faces. The
sea continued to rage and roar. The vessel pitched heavily. At one
moment the captain attempted to launch one life-boat; five sailors
entered it; the boat sank; the waves turned it over, and two of the
sailors were drowned, among them the Italian: the others contrived with
difficulty to catch hold of the ropes and draw themselves up again.

After this, the sailors themselves lost all courage. Two hours later,
the vessel was sunk in the water to the height of the port-holes.

A terrible spectacle was presented meanwhile on the deck. Mothers
pressed their children to their breasts in despair; friends exchanged
embraces and bade each other farewell; some went down into the cabins
that they might die without seeing the sea. One passenger shot himself
in the head with a pistol, and fell headlong down the stairs to the
cabin, where he expired. Many clung frantically to each other; women
writhed in horrible convulsions. There was audible a chorus of sobs, of
infantile laments, of strange and piercing voices; and here and there
persons were visible motionless as statues, in stupor, with eyes dilated
and sightless,--faces of corpses and madmen. The two children, Giulietta
and Mario, clung to a mast and gazed at the sea with staring eyes, as
though senseless.

The sea had subsided a little; but the vessel continued to sink slowly.
Only a few minutes remained to them.

"Launch the long-boat!" shouted the captain.

A boat, the last that remained, was thrown into the water, and fourteen
sailors and three passengers descended into it.

The captain remained on board.

"Come down with us!" they shouted to him from below.

"I must die at my post," replied the captain.

"We shall meet a vessel," the sailors cried to him; "we shall be saved!
Come down! you are lost!"

"I shall remain."

"There is room for one more!" shouted the sailors, turning to the other
passengers. "A woman!"

A woman advanced, aided by the captain; but on seeing the distance at
which the boat lay, she did not feel sufficient courage to leap down,
and fell back upon the deck. The other women had nearly all fainted, and
were as dead.

"A boy!" shouted the sailors.

At that shout, the Sicilian lad and his companion, who had remained up
to that moment petrified as by a supernatural stupor, were suddenly
aroused again by a violent instinct to save their lives. They detached
themselves simultaneously from the mast, and rushed to the side of the
vessel, shrieking in concert: "Take me!" and endeavoring in turn, to
drive the other back, like furious beasts.

"The smallest!" shouted the sailors. "The boat is overloaded! The

On hearing these words, the girl dropped her arms, as though struck by
lightning, and stood motionless, staring at Mario with lustreless eyes.

Mario looked at her for a moment,--saw the spot of blood on her
bodice,--remembered--The gleam of a divine thought flashed across his

"The smallest!" shouted the sailors in chorus, with imperious
impatience. "We are going!"

And then Mario, with a voice which no longer seemed his own, cried: "She
is the lighter! It is for you, Giulietta! You have a father and mother!
I am alone! I give you my place! Go down!"

"Throw her into the sea!" shouted the sailors.

Mario seized Giulietta by the body, and threw her into the sea.

The girl uttered a cry and made a splash; a sailor seized her by the
arm, and dragged her into the boat.

The boy remained at the vessel's side, with his head held high, his hair
streaming in the wind,--motionless, tranquil, sublime.

The boat moved off just in time to escape the whirlpool which the vessel
produced as it sank, and which threatened to overturn it.

Then the girl, who had remained senseless until that moment, raised her
eyes to the boy, and burst into a storm of tears.

"Good by, Mario!" she cried, amid her sobs, with her arms outstretched
towards him. "Good by! Good by! Good by!"

"Good by!" replied the boy, raising his hand on high.

The boat went swiftly away across the troubled sea, beneath the dark
sky. No one on board the vessel shouted any longer. The water was
already lapping the edge of the deck.

Suddenly the boy fell on his knees, with his hands folded and his eyes
raised to heaven.

The girl covered her face.

When she raised her head again, she cast a glance over the sea: the
vessel was no longer there.



    Saturday, 1st.

     SO the year has come to an end, Enrico, and it is well that you
     should be left on the last day with the image of the sublime child,
     who gave his life for his friend. You are now about to part from
     your teachers and companions, and I must impart to you some sad
     news. The separation will last not three months, but forever. Your
     father, for reasons connected with his profession, is obliged to
     leave Turin, and we are all to go with him.

     We shall go next autumn. You will have to enter a new school. You
     are sorry for this, are you not? For I am sure that you love your
     old school, where twice a day, for the space of four years, you
     have experienced the pleasure of working, where for so long a time,
     you have seen, at stated hours, the same boys, the same teachers,
     the same parents, and your own father or mother awaiting you with a
     smile; your old school, where your mind first unclosed, where you
     have found so many kind companions, where every word that you have
     heard has had your good for its object, and where you have not
     suffered a single displeasure which has not been useful to you!
     Then bear this affection with you, and bid these boys a hearty
     farewell. Some of them will experience misfortunes, they will soon
     lose their fathers and mothers; others will die young; others,
     perhaps, will nobly shed their blood in battle; many will become
     brave and honest workmen, the fathers of honest and industrious
     workmen like themselves; and who knows whether there may not also
     be among them one who will render great services to his country,
     and make his name glorious. Then part from them with affection;
     leave a portion of your soul here, in this great family into which
     you entered as a baby, and from which you emerge a young lad, and
     which your father and mother loved so dearly, because you were so
     much beloved by it.

     School is a mother, my Enrico. It took you from my arms when you
     could hardly speak, and now it returns you to me, strong, good,
     studious; blessings on it, and may you never forget it more, my
     son. Oh, it is impossible that you should forget it! You will
     become a man, you will make the tour of the world, you will see
     immense cities and wonderful monuments, and you will remember many
     among them; but that modest white edifice, with those closed
     shutters and that little garden, where the first flower of your
     intelligence budded, you will perceive until the last day of your
     life, as I shall always behold the house in which I heard your
     voice for the first time.



    Tuesday, 4th.

Here are the examinations at last! Nothing else is to be heard under
discussion, in the streets in the vicinity of the school, from boys,
fathers, mothers, and even tutors; examinations, points, themes,
averages, dismissals, promotions: all utter the same words. Yesterday
morning there was composition; this morning there is arithmetic. It was
touching to see all the parents, as they conducted their sons to school,
giving them their last advice in the street, and many mothers
accompanied their sons to their seats, to see whether the inkstand was
filled, and to try their pens, and they still continued to hover round
the entrance, and to say:

"Courage! Attention! I entreat you."

Our assistant-master was Coatti, the one with the black beard, who
mimics the voice of a lion, and never punishes any one. There were boys
who were white with fear. When the master broke the seal of the letter
from the town-hall, and drew out the problem, not a breath was audible.
He announced the problem loudly, staring now at one, now at another,
with terrible eyes; but we understood that had he been able to announce
the answer also, so that we might all get promoted, he would have been

After an hour of work many began to grow weary, for the problem was
difficult. One cried. Crossi dealt himself blows on the head. And many
of them are not to blame, poor boys, for not knowing, for they have not
had much time to study, and have been neglected by their parents. But
Providence was at hand. You should have seen Derossi, and what trouble
he took to help them; how ingenious he was in getting a figure passed
on, and in suggesting an operation, without allowing himself to be
caught; so anxious for all that he appeared to be our teacher himself.
Garrone, too, who is strong in arithmetic, helped all he could; and he
even assisted Nobis, who, finding himself in a quandary, was quite

Stardi remained motionless for more than an hour, with his eyes on the
problem, and his fists on his temples, and then he finished the whole
thing in five minutes. The master made his round among the benches,

"Be calm! Be calm! I advise you to be calm!"

And when he saw that any one was discouraged, he opened his mouth, as
though about to devour him, in imitation of a lion, in order to make him
laugh and inspire him with courage. Toward eleven o'clock, peeping down
through the blinds, I perceived many parents pacing the street in their
impatience. There was Precossi's father, in his blue blouse, who had
deserted his shop, with his face still quite black. There was Crossi's
mother, the vegetable-vender; and Nelli's mother, dressed in black, who
could not stand still.

A little before mid-day, my father arrived and raised his eyes to my
window; my dear father! At noon we had all finished. And it was a sight
at the close of school! Every one ran to meet the boys, to ask
questions, to turn over the leaves of the copy-books to compare them
with the work of their comrades.

"How many operations? What is the total? And subtraction? And the
answer? And the punctuation of decimals?"

All the masters were running about hither and thither, summoned in a
hundred directions.

My father instantly took from my hand the rough copy, looked at it, and
said, "That's well."

Beside us was the blacksmith, Precossi, who was also inspecting his
son's work, but rather uneasily, and not comprehending it. He turned to
my father:--

"Will you do me the favor to tell me the total?"

My father read the number. The other gazed and reckoned. "Brave little
one!" he exclaimed, in perfect content. And my father and he gazed at
each other for a moment with a kindly smile, like two friends. My father
offered his hand, and the other shook it; and they parted, saying,
"Farewell until the oral examination."

"Until the oral examination."

After proceeding a few paces, we heard a falsetto voice which made us
turn our heads. It was the blacksmith-ironmonger singing.


    Friday, 7th.

This morning we had our oral examinations. At eight o'clock we were all
in the schoolroom, and at a quarter past they began to call us, four at
a time, into the big hall, where there was a large table covered with a
green cloth; round it were seated the head-master and four other
masters, among them our own. I was one of the first called out. Poor
master! how plainly I perceived this morning that you are really fond of
us! While they were interrogating the others, he had no eyes for any one
but us. He was troubled when we were uncertain in our replies; he grew
serene when we gave a fine answer; he heard everything, and made us a
thousand signs with his hand and head, to say to us, "Good!--no!--pay

He would have suggested everything to us, had he been able to talk. If
the fathers of all these pupils had been in his place, one after the
other, they could not have done more. They would have cried "Thanks!"
ten times, in the face of them all. And when the other masters said to
me, "That is well; you may go," his eyes beamed with pleasure.

I returned at once to the schoolroom to wait for my father. Nearly all
were still there. I sat down beside Garrone. I was not at all cheerful;
I was thinking that it was the last time that we should be near each
other for an hour. I had not yet told Garrone that I should not go
through the fourth grade with him, that I was to leave Turin with my
father. He knew nothing. And he sat there, doubled up together, with his
big head reclining on the desk, making ornaments round the photograph
of his father, who was dressed like a machinist, and who is a tall,
large man, with a bull neck and a serious, honest look, like himself.
And as he sat thus bent together, with his blouse a little open in
front, I saw on his bare and robust breast the gold cross which Nelli's
mother had presented to him, when she learned that he protected her son.
But it was necessary to tell him sometime that I was going away. I said
to him:--

"Garrone, my father is going away from Turin this autumn, for good. He
asked me if I were going, also. I replied that I was."

"You will not go through the fourth grade with us?" he said to me. I
answered "No."

Then he did not speak to me for a while, but went on with his drawing.
Then, without raising his head, he inquired:

"And shall you remember your comrades of the third grade?"

"Yes," I told him, "all of them; but you more than all the rest. Who can
forget you?"

He looked at me fixedly and seriously, with a gaze that said a thousand
things, but he said nothing; he only offered me his left hand,
pretending to continue his drawing with the other; and I pressed it
between mine, that strong and loyal hand. At that moment the master
entered hastily, with a red face, and said, in a low, quick voice, with
a joyful intonation:--

"Good, all is going well now, let the rest come forwards; _bravi_, boys!
Courage! I am extremely well satisfied." And, in order to show us his
contentment, and to exhilarate us, as he went out in haste, he made a
motion of stumbling and of catching at the wall, to prevent a fall; he
whom we had never seen laugh! The thing appeared so strange, that,
instead of laughing, all remained stupefied; all smiled, no one laughed.

Well, I do not know,--that act of childish joy caused both pain and
tenderness. All his reward was that moment of cheerfulness,--it was the
compensation for nine months of kindness, patience, and even sorrow! For
that he had toiled so long; for that he had so often gone to give
lessons to a sick boy, poor teacher! That and nothing more was what he
demanded of us, in exchange for so much affection and so much care!

And, now, it seems to me that I shall always see him in the performance
of that act, when I recall him through many years; and when I have
become a man, he will still be alive, and we shall meet, and I will tell
him about that deed which touched my heart; and I will give him a kiss
on his white head.


    Monday, 10th.

At one o'clock we all assembled once more for the last time at the
school, to hear the results of the examinations, and to take our little
promotion books. The street was thronged with parents, who had even
invaded the big hall, and many had made their way into the class-rooms,
thrusting themselves even to the master's desk: in our room they filled
the entire space between the wall and the front benches. There were
Garrone's father, Derossi's mother, the blacksmith Precossi, Coretti,
Signora Nelli, the vegetable-vender, the father of the little mason,
Stardi's father, and many others whom I had never seen; and on all sides
a whispering and a hum were audible, that seemed to proceed from the
square outside.

The master entered, and a profound silence ensued. He had the list in
his hand, and began to read at once.

"Abatucci, promoted, sixty seventieths. Archini, promoted, fifty-five
seventieths."--The little mason promoted; Crossi promoted. Then he read

"Ernesto Derossi, promoted, seventy seventieths, and the first prize."

All the parents who were there--and they all knew him--said:--

"Bravo, bravo, Derossi!" And he shook his golden curls, with his easy
and beautiful smile, and looked at his mother, who made him a salute
with her hand.

Garoffi, Garrone, the Calabrian promoted. Then three or four sent back;
and one of them began to cry because his father, who was at the
entrance, made a menacing gesture at him. But the master said to the

"No, sir, excuse me; it is not always the boy's fault; it is often his
misfortune. And that is the case here." Then he read:--

"Nelli, promoted, sixty-two seventieths." His mother sent him a kiss
from her fan. Stardi, promoted, with sixty-seven seventieths! but, at
hearing this fine fate, he did not even smile, or remove his fists from
his temples. The last was Votini, who had come very finely dressed and
brushed,--promoted. After reading the last name, the master rose and

"Boys, this is the last time that we shall find ourselves assembled
together in this room. We have been together a year, and now we part
good friends, do we not? I am sorry to part from you, my dear boys." He
interrupted himself, then he resumed: "If I have sometimes failed in
patience, if sometimes, without intending it, I have been unjust, or too
severe, forgive me."

"No, no!" cried the parents and many of the scholars,--"no, master,

"Forgive me," repeated the master, "and think well of me. Next year you
will not be with me; but I shall see you again, and you will always
abide in my heart. Farewell until we meet again, boys!"

So saying, he stepped forward among us, and we all offered him our
hands, as we stood up on the seats, and grasped him by the arms, and by
the skirts of his coat; many kissed him; fifty voices cried in concert:

"Farewell until we meet again, teacher!--Thanks, teacher!--May your
health be good!--Remember us!"

When I went out, I felt oppressed by the commotion. We all ran out
confusedly. Boys were emerging from all the other class-rooms also.
There was a great mixing and tumult of boys and parents, bidding the
masters and the mistresses good by, and exchanging greetings among
themselves. The mistress with the red feather had four or five children
on top of her, and twenty around her, depriving her of breath; and they
had half torn off the little nun's bonnet, and thrust a dozen bunches of
flowers in the button-holes of her black dress, and in her pockets. Many
were making much of Robetti, who had that day, for the first time,
abandoned his crutches. On all sides the words were audible:--

"Good by until next year!--Until the twentieth of October!" We greeted
each other, too. Ah! now all disagreements were forgotten at that
moment! Votini, who had always been so jealous of Derossi, was the first
to throw himself on him with open arms. I saluted the little mason, and
kissed him, just at the moment when he was making me his last hare's
face, dear boy! I saluted Precossi. I saluted Garoffi, who announced to
me the approach of his last lottery, and gave me a little paper weight
of majolica, with a broken corner; I said farewell to all the others. It
was beautiful to see poor Nelli clinging to Garrone, so that he could
not be taken from him. All thronged around Garrone, and it was,
"Farewell, Garrone!--Good by until we meet!" And they touched him, and
pressed his hands, and made much of him, that brave, sainted boy; and
his father was perfectly amazed, as he looked on and smiled.

Garrone was the last one whom I embraced in the street, and I stifled a
sob against his breast: he kissed my brow. Then I ran to my father and
mother. My father asked me: "Have you spoken to all of your comrades?"

I replied that I had. "If there is any one of them whom you have
wronged, go and ask his pardon, and beg him to forget it. Is there no

"No one," I answered.

"Farewell, then," said my father with a voice full of emotion, bestowing
a last glance on the schoolhouse. And my mother repeated: "Farewell!"

And I could not say anything.

       *       *       *       *       *


The original language and spelling have been retained, except where
noted. Minimal typographical errors concerning punctuation have been
corrected without notes.

The signatures at the end of the following sections


are missing in the original text and have been added according to the
Italian editions of the book.

The [oe] ligature has been rendered as "oe".

The following changes were made to the original text (the original text
is on the first line, the correction is on the following line):

  97: two battalions of Italian infantry and two cannon
      two battalions of Italian infantry and two cannons

  117: replied, that the the man was a mason who had
       replied, that the man was a mason who had

  177: Feruccio stood listening three paces away, leaning
       Ferruccio stood listening three paces away, leaning

  201: with the wound on his neck, who was with Garabaldi,
       with the wound on his neck, who was with Garibaldi,

  292: which anounced the field artillery; and then the
       which announced the field artillery; and then the

       *       *       *       *       *

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