Who said the yellow race will rule

The small town / Chapter III

[ 140 ]

Can my husband ring the bell? How? Tell me! ”Demanded the servant's wife Pipistrelli, pulling her crooked shoulder even higher and peering around under her green visor. “And he will stay up there and ring the bells of the monastery church in front of their noses as long as their damned theater lasts. We'll see if they manage to celebrate a mass for the devil. "

"Don Taddeo is a true servant of God," said the locksmith Fantapiè and crossed himself. The locksmith Scarpetta, who, like Fantapiè, was thinking of the work in the sacristy, hastily crossed himself with. Frau Nonoggi rolled her eyes.

“And yet the whole city will soon be up there. They cannot run fast enough. There! just fall over the stairs and break your leg before the bad guy breaks your neck! "

"How we are good few!" Remarked Mrs. Acquistapace. "Shouldn't the unfortunate be held back?"

The Pipistrelli was already waving her cane.

“Hey, you men! Stay down! There is nothing good to be found up there, except for eternal damnation. "

Galileo Belotti, who came out of the café with a bunch of farmers, shouted back through the noise of the bells:

"So what do you want? The days of superstition are over. By the way, if a scarecrow like you is standing in front of it, nobody will want to go to heaven. "

They stomped up the alley. The pious little crowd looked desolately around the empty space.

"To think that in the time of the Pope Galileo went to Mass!" Said the locksmith. "But as Monsignor said when he was last present: the hope of the Church is getting smaller every day!"

"Oh, what, one must act!" Said Mrs. Acquistapace. "Notice Don Taddeo, he is an example of bravery."

From time to time he was seen slipping out from behind the leather mattress of the cathedral door and shooting at a couple of boys who came around the corner of the corso. He tore them away wildly and closed the mattress behind them and himself. But no sooner did he leave his hiding place to hunt for the next when the previous ones pushed themselves away from under the mattress; and as he was dragging Serafini's apprentice with him, a little Chiaralunzi and the Michelino from the barber Druso came along like hares and ran over the Pipistrelli so that she sat down on the pavement.

“What a shame for our profession!” Cried Mrs. Nonoggi after the young Druso, and the locksmith Scarpetta struck out. But where did they go?

The wigmaker's wife dropped her arms; didn't it look like her own husband was trying to get away back there? Just now he had put a chair in front of the shop, as if to read the newspaper; and now, with the clarinet firmly under his arm, he stroked very close to the wall, waved his fist as if he were simply rushing to a customer, and yet screwed up one eye on his turned back face, as always when he had a clear conscience would have.

"Hey! Nonoggi, “- and when the woman had her voice again, it was already after him. He mumbled and tried to contort his face, but the closed eye prevented it.

“No fuss, my friend, we have to join in, what else will happen to the business? The customers will say: ah, Nonoggi, the evening was a failure because the orchestra was bad, and that comes because your clarinet was missing. "

He patted her cheek with the instrument. [142]

“At first you say what the woman and the priest want,” he explained to the two locksmiths who came after, “but a barber has other considerations to take care of.” “Ouch!” Cried his wife, because his friendly knock was always there sharper. Suddenly, as a sign that he was feeling well again, he opened his other eye, made a jump and was in the alley.

"We have been betrayed, you have to prevent the worst" - and Mrs. Nonoggi, wrung her hands, followed suit. Those who stayed behind counted each other in silence.

"Now there are four of us," Scarpetta stated; Mrs. Acquistapace pointed ominously from her black handkerchief to the pharmacy.

“I shouldn't feel that way. He's inside making pills, and I vouch for he'll keep making pills. "

They nodded doggedly to each other.

"But look at the brave, holy Don Taddeo!" Said the Pipistrelli. "Shouldn't one bring him something to drink?"

For he was hanging on the back of one of the lions in the cathedral, exhausted from the hunt and all alone in the twilight, and he held his forehead with his hand. Footsteps approached in the stairway; the lawyer Belotti appeared in tails; and already from a distance he was panting:

"Don Taddeo, this ringing must stop, I tell you on behalf of the committee and the municipality that the noise must stop."

All the way across the square he kept shouting the same thing, as if he were practicing before things got serious. At last Don Taddeo noticed him and straightened up.

"What do you want from me?" He seemed to ask; - and in the roar of heaven that devoured their voices, one saw the two of them pushing out with their arms, shaking their fists and [143] walking around their faces blindly as if after witnesses. When the pious came up, Don Taddeo said:

"And I explain to you that it is the eve of the feast of St. Theophrastus, who owns a chapel in the monastery church."

"A chapel!" Shouted the lawyer. “That is a right thing! And if you were to dedicate every tile on the roof to a different saint, how, sir, would we have the noise every day? "

The priest raised his hollow voice in despair:

"I forbid you, sir, to make fun of religion!"

His eyes glowed red and his arms twitched so wildly in the air that the lawyer withdrew from their area. Still, he hit the right hand on the stiff shirt:

"In the name of the committee, rather in the name of the people -"

"Who are the people?" Asked the old Fantapiè and stepped wide to the lawyer, who took another two paces. But at the same time he took a deep breath.

“I am the people!” He said with conviction. "And be careful that I don't ring the people's bell!"

"We have newspapers too," said Don Taddeo.

"We too are the people," said Ms. Acquistapace threateningly.

"And my husband," shrieked Pipistrelli, "will probably be able to call on God with the holy bells when your comedians sing songs to the devil."

The locksmith Scarpetta was very still behind the pillar; It was not for nothing that he had found out about certain jobs that were to be awarded in the town hall. Don Taddeo and the lawyer Belotti could both be right, because both the church and the town hall needed a locksmith. [144]

Now there was a measured distance between him and the priest, the lawyer grabbed his brown straw hat and pulled him in a bow.

“So you will find out, sir, our last word! If your agent does not stop interfering with a public event such as a theater performance, we are determined to use the armed forces against him. "

As he did so, he moved further backwards and in a hurry.

The pious crowded the priest. They only had one voice.

"Should we let it happen, Reverendo?"

He looked over their number and ran his hand flat in front of him.

“The measure will soon be full, my friends; we just have to wait. "

Mrs. Acquistapace understood him.

“Unfortunately we are few, Reverendo. We saw the whole city pilgrimage up. What a shame! There were many who had promised to stay behind. What can one say about the Nonoggi who chased after her husband? Wasn't that a pre-arranged thing between them? "

“It seemed to me too,” said the others.

“And the Jole Capitani could hardly wait, despite all your admonitions, Reverendo. The lawyer Belotti picked her up, which was found to be peculiar in the wife of a doctor ... "

Don Taddeo made a painful gesture to declare that he knew.

"Of all good families," the clerk's wife shouted, "only the Nardini have withstood the evil ... [145] except for the Acquistapace house," she added, as the pharmacist's wife looked at them terribly.

“Even the good, holy Mrs. Camuzzi,” said the locksmith Fantapiè, “stays away from sin. Nobody will want to say that she left the house. "

All confirmed it; only Don Taddeo was silent and bowed his head. For he had seen his confessor slip out of the house of the laundress Grattalupi into the alley, slide in with gathered skirts and quickly disappear. She must have climbed up from the courtyard of the town hall to the little house, although the old steps were only rubble, and secretly she had run after lust. Perhaps what the Evangelina Mancafede wanted to know about Frau Camuzzi and the youngest of the comedians also contained truth?

Don Taddeo started up; an image that came back to his eyes made him white and confused.

"We will all spoil," he stammered, "and those they call Italia are the worst of all harm!"

The Pipistrelli and Mrs. Acquistapace nodded bitterly. Old Fantapiè exclaimed:

"She is the wife of Babel."

"By Bacchus," remarked the locksmith Scarpetta; "After the lawyer, the baron, Mr. Polli and, as they say, also the servant of the landlord Malandrini at the Italia, nobody knows whether it will be his turn."

As the two women turned away from him angrily, he squinted in front of himself. Everyone was silent - and Don Taddeo saw her, the woman, as he had seen her through that cathedral window to which he had climbed because Pipistrelli had broken a pane with the rod. He had not [146] known that from up there one could see “to the moon” straight into a window of the inn; and this window was hers, and what he found was a hug. Don Taddeo had barely been able to come down the ladder for trembling. Even here in the dark he was trembling because that image reappeared ...

"Don Taddeo," shouted the Baron Torroni and came quickly from his house. "If you have time, the baroness will ask for your visit."

Don Taddeo raised his forehead shyly, greeted him without looking at the baron, and took steps towards the Palazzo Torroni, where the cassock audibly thrown around his legs.

“We had forgotten the baroness. Another pious sheep for the consolation of the shepherd, ”said the Pipistrelli.

“But the baron” - and you looked after him - “goes to the theater, you can see that because he has taken off his leather gaiters. The poor baroness! What a fight she has behind her! "

"And now it's all over because that damn committee is using violence!"

"Isn't Pipistrelli already ringing the bell?" Asked his wife. "I am sure that you are threatening him!"

“We are men,” said Fantapiè and Scarpetta; and Mrs. Acquistapace added:

“On this occasion we are too. Let them find out about it up there! "

She began to march. One after the other, the four crossed the square.

"Don Taddeo still has soldiers," said Pipistrelli, hobbling; and Scarpetta, to encourage herself, called out loud in the shadows of the alley:

"We shall see!" [147]

When they were gone, the lawyer Belotti stepped out of the dark arch of the town hall and staggered over to the pharmacy. He lifted the curtain and whispered piercingly:

"Come over! We are liberated. "

A harsh cry of joy - and old Acquistapace came out, stilting so that the square echoed away.

"Sst!" Made the lawyer. “Don't wake up the enemies of art! Have I been clever? How? Everything worked. "

"And I," cheered the pharmacist, "who was already wearing the black skirt under my work smock!"

They hooked each other, swung around and exchanged puffs.

"Ah! old donkey that you are! "

On every second step they stopped and listened to the others' steps. The lawyer looked back.

“Is the chicken lucia up there too? the city seems to be extinct. Nobody on the square! But: the usual Brabrà. "

A ray of light, which was lost in the shadow of the bell tower, once grazed the little old man, as he described a wide greeting around the square, as if an invisible company were surrounding him.

"Today you could help me a little with Italia."

Acquistapace pleaded like a boy.

“I will soon be the last anyway. And who has as many women as you -; because it is said that even the big yellow one no longer resisted you. "

"Eh! you say a lot ”- and the lawyer gave a big giggle.

"And nothing is said about Jole Capitani yet?"

"How? you would have -? "

“Your husband wanted to find sugar with me: sugar with a man like me! He now sees that that doesn't prevent me -. "

"You are even bigger than I thought, lawyer."

“Eh!… But let's talk about something serious. How much time do you give the priest? "

"Not long. Your articles in the 'People's Bell' will have had an effect. "

"So you believe. I tell you, I - "

The lawyer put his finger on his shirt front.

“- that Don Taddeo doesn't have eight days left. The lodge, my dear fellow, was made aware of the key issue through me. I also wrote to the bishop about the revolt in Borgo and informed him of Don Taddeo's involvement in that superstition revolt. "

"But he -"

The old Garibaldinian spread his hand in horror.

"- it was just he who contradicted the farmers: no, she didn't move her eyes, your Madonna, - and they almost stoned him."

The lawyer shrugged and pulled his lips from his teeth.

“Is he the enemy, yes or no? … And do we want to see poor Tonietta? "

“We want that: ah! that's what we want. "

The pharmacist swung his wooden leg over the last steps.

"Sst!" Made the lawyer. “The lighting is not shiny; what do you want, we had to devote all our energy to the interior of the theater; but I still overlook the situation. Your wife is not among the people who are besieging the princess's palace and waiting for the overture; she is in the bunch of superstitious rebels, [149] there under the walls of the monastery. Don't they all have their heads back, as if macaroni were flying instead of the noise from the belfry? Eh! they have no time to catch us, and in a moment we will have you saved in my box, poor friend ... Hey! You guys, you have to let through those who paid. "

“We want to hear too,” replied the people.

An electric lamp burned under the arch next to the palace.

"So much the better" - and the lawyer climbed the scree in his tailcoat, which cracked in the seams from the exertion; “Since the lamp is attached right here, you can see where you step. It is almost inconceivable that these people should continue to use the entrance of the theater for their convenience even now. You really have to have little education ... "

“At least you have well lit the corridors, lawyer, otherwise one would have to fear breaking one's last leg; - and what a proud red curtain covers the ground floor! The golden tassels! "

“Mancafede loaned it to us. At first he just wanted to sell it; we had to threaten to thwart his concession for the Diligenza in Cremosine. What an old rascal! "

They entered the narrow corridor around the boxes.

"Good evening, Father Corvi!" - and as the doorman held out his hand: "We have no tickets, but you know that the box belongs to me."

“Impossible, lawyer. The lodge is yours; but so that I can let you in, you have to pay the entrance, and Mr. Acquistapace has to pay it too. "

The old man blinked cynically at the gentlemen with his enormous red face, and his stomach blocked their passage.

"No stupid things, Corvi," said the lawyer. "You know well that you are applying for the position at the public car."

"Perhaps, sir, and I am counting on your protection; but I can't pay the two lire for your entry out of my pocket because I don't have it. "

"If you hadn't gone bankrupt three times," - and the lawyer began to dance and pound the air, "then you wouldn't have to bother the people tonight for cards."

"God wanted it that way," said the old man, while the lawyer hurried away.

"In the meantime, just come in, Mr. Acquistapace, I am counting on your recommendation for the public car."

In the box the pharmacist met the widow Pastecaldi with little Amelia; but he just squeezed his hands in silence, because he couldn't find his way around the hall with the sheen and the crowd. There had never been such a hall in the city! A ring of fire ran around the stands, and the arc lamp under the ceiling cast a light so wild that you couldn't see who was sitting behind it.

"Ah! what an old fool has come in down there now! ”shouted the top, and the apothecary blushed, for he had recognized the voice of the maid Felicetta, at whom he had surreptitiously cast an eye before his wife released her at Don Taddeo's request would have. So it hadn't escaped her after all! He had to look up: Felicetta kept laughing at him while she bent over her neighbor's ear. And the neighbor was Pomponia, from the merchant Mancafede, the worst gossip! [151]

The two revealed the city's scandals to the gallery on the left. Felicetta was not allowed to know more than the confidante of the invisible, who knew everything; and if Felicetta came with one story, Pomponia replied with two. The tailor Chiaralunzi's wife sat in an armchair without shame, and yet she only got it because her husband was the lover of the comedian who lived with them. The Baron Torroni probably tried not to bring his wife with him, since his box was right next to the stage and he would certainly not miss exchanging signs with his lover, that other comedian. Diagonally above the baron the wife of the Doctor Capitani waited (and he had found a black liver at the carpenter's house in Via del Torchio, who was widower three times!) For her Nello: the beautiful Nello; and as long as he stayed behind the curtain she could flirt with the young gentlemen, for of course she had arranged it so that she sat next to the box of the club. Was it to be believed that Mama Paradisi had hers next to the Mancafede? And he kept tucking his head under her hat, which bumped against the walls of the box on all sides, it was so big. If these old people were still offensive, poor young people were to be forgiven of their sins. The tobacconist's Rina was hanging from the highest railing in the haywire of schoolchildren and was always staring at the empty seat of the maestro. What stupidity to love this particular artist who betrayed her with all the women in the theater!

"Rina! Don't fall down! ”Everyone shouted.

“She doesn't hear; here is a noise -! "The godfather Achille shouts from his box, like a bull, after his waiter:" Hey! Nonò, it's you! I want to drink. Is that a way that only the gentlemen are served? ”No [152] possibility. They tune their instruments. “This Nonoggi trills like a goat; but the upholsterer Allebardi roars with his bombardon so that the dead move ... Ah! Miss Zampieri: So she really will play the harp. You wouldn't have believed that a girl would dare. Should you whistle? "

"The arms, how pretty they are!" Said Michele from the locksmith Fantapiè. The journeyman baker Carlino added:

“It seems that she and the mother have no money because they could not pay my master; and Nina's fingers are said to be bloody from playing the harp. "

"Ah, Nina, you love!" Shouted the girls. “In her white dress, how gently she smiles! Who is it talking to her? The one with the violin and long black hair? ... The mandolini from the Volksbank: he is in love with her, may she be happy! ... But he has actually gone mad, the beautiful Alfò, he hits the kettledrum and cymbals as if everyone had just come to hear him. "

“He doesn't understand anything, poor man; he is placed there instead of Vittorino Baccalà, the carpenter who was not allowed to come because of Don Taddeo. "

"Don Taddeo threatened my uncle Coccola that his gout would affect him when he went to the theater."

“And so that the rest of us are not taken by the devil, he lets the bell ring. You won't be able to start while the bell rings. Niccolo, shut the window behind you! "

“The windows are all closed; it's supernatural how loud you hear the bells. Maybe he's right, Don Taddeo. "

“It's east wind, that's all; and you have to make a demonstration against the priest. Down with the priests! "[153]

“Quiet up there!” They called up to the gallery from the ground floor. The boys around the white pastry boy answered with whistles. There was clapping in the club's box, and the women in other boxes laughed out loud. Little old Giocondi leaned backwards out of his and called, past Salvatori's, up to the gallery:

"Did you yell along, Klothilde?"

His maid called back:

"We screamed: Long live Don Taddeo and the comedians!"

“Good, Klothilde! And also scream: Long live the Salvatori family! "

The boxes were amused.

“Ah the joker from Giocondi! The Salvatori has taken his cement factory from him, and so he is now taking revenge. "

The Salvatori had to bow because some people clapped and laughed at him. The tax farmer Vallesi, in his box at the very front above that of the lawyer Belotti, bowed constantly to all the good payers: first straight ahead in front of Baron Torroni, then in front of Mancafede, then around the corner, past the third empty box, towards the landlord Malandrini - and suddenly across to Doctor Ranucci, who quickly stood in front of his wife. The ground floor laughed, and Galileo Belotti, the lawyer's brother, said aloud to the peasants around him:

“He is brilliant, the doctor, to imagine that one would like to take his ugly wife away from him. I was missing nothing more! If you come to Ranucci with a boil: the woman is always sitting in the waiting room, because she seems safest to him when several people are around. Every moment he sticks his head in - and just give her his hand, then he pushes her back and dances around in front of her: Pappappapp ... "[154]

Galileo took the voice he thought everyone spoke in but himself.

“If you look at her a little longer, you can be sure that he will cut off two legs instead of one. Something should be done to get rid of his silly jealousy. "

The fat zecchini who had had the bazaar and now carried all his belongings in his stomach was of the same opinion. He promised that his friend Corvi would find something for the surgeon, and the drinkers who were with him were already looking forward to it: the whole ground floor parted.

"Yes what? It seems to me that I'm dreaming ... That must be a joke."

But they made their entry as confidently as if it had been the salon on Via Tripoli: Raffaella, Theo and Lauretta, covered by Mama Farinaggi. Everything went up in the boxes, for a moment it was quiet, and all you could hear was Galileo Belotti, who said:

"Good evening, the company!"

Laughter broke out above and below. The musicians in the orchestra got up and wanted to see the ladies come. They came through all the people to the first row of chairs, where the three seats were still free. The Serafini, out of consternation, did not immediately remove his hat from Raffaella's chair; she first had to give him a painted look that he knew and that had sometimes moved him to action. He bowed.

"Bravo Serafini!" Shouted from above, and Coletto, his apprentice, whistled on his fingers.

Mama Farinaggi made attempts from several sides to create her shapes on her armchair in the second row. Finally, the city toll collector Loretani and [155] the two Fraulein Pernici and Lieutenant Cantinelli stepped out into the corridor to let them through. The lieutenant even put his hand on the helmet. Achille's waiter urged them to offer his fruit juices, and all these people blocked the aisle so that the shoemaker Malagodi and his wife could not get their seats in the first numbered bench. They exchanged disparaging remarks with the baker Crepalini - while Mama Farinaggi uttered little screeching tones because a tenant from across the corridor pinched them. In addition it shouted from the gallery:

"Lauretta has the most beautiful hat!"

And:

"Raffaella, you cheated on me with someone else!"

Fat Lauretta didn't even look up, she put something in her mouth; Theo showed the tip of his tongue to the gentlemen from the club, who were applauding with two fingers; Raffaella, however, eyed the women all around like a strange lady. Each who had looked at them leaned towards the next, and without taking their eyes off Raffaella, they said one word to each other: Scandal! It rattled from box to box: “Scandal!”, Jumped over the rank: “Scandal! Scandal! "- and the men on the ground floor shouted:" Scandal! Scandal! ”And they struck the beat with their sticks. Mama Farinaggi put her hand on her bosom again, quite buckling in her chair, and sent reassuring looks in all directions. Nevertheless, the two Fraulein Pernici sat on top of each other for fear of touching her and turned their necks like hens in distress, and Frau Camuzzi in her box next to the three girls slowly bent to one side to spit. Then she moved her chair all the way to the right and kept staring at the orchestra. Severino Salvatori, leading his monocle around in the [156] stalls, came and stood between her and the three of them.

“Thank you, sir,” said Ms. Camuzzi in her soft voice, “thank you for your attention. My husband is late, but who could think that a decent woman in this theater would not be safe from insults. Don Taddeo is therefore right to forbid us to have this pleasure and to let the bells ring, as if on the Last Judgment. "

"It's a real scandal, madam, and all the blame is on the old drunk Corvi who sold the tickets to these ladies."

"Ah! - and my husband wanted to employ him at the public carriage. He will no longer be employed. "

"You are strict but fair, madam."

Otherwise one had to complain about the composition of the audience. The family of one of the comedians sat in the front of the numbered seats. Then, of course, the baker Crepalini could not be blamed for claiming a lodge for himself and his family.

“We have struggled enough,” explained the young Salvatori, “to avert the prank that the middle class was planning on us. At first we made people believe that the famous third lodge on the right belonged to the Nardini family; and when old Nardini's aversion to the theater became known, we put it off with the prefect, who might come. In this way the box has now remained empty and more could not be achieved. The Filiberti and several other good families have had to do without a box, but at least this baker doesn't have one either. ”Messrs. Torroni and Mancafede leaned in from right and left. [157] “But this ringing! You don't understand each other anymore. Shouldn't one do something to put an end to it? "

"For nothing in the world," said Ms. Camuzzi. "I would go home immediately."

"But you came to hear the comedians and not these bells."

“I am ready to listen to both at the same time. One must reconcile worldly duties with religious ones. "

She fanned herself more strongly: she was offended by the behavior of these little Zampieri, who, God knows, gave herself the importance behind the golden strings of her harp and flirted with all men over the poor Mandolini, of whom she seemed quite certain.

"To think that old Mandolini died the moment he was about to become prefect - and his own son is sacrificing his future to a little intriguer!"

The gentlemen agreed with Frau Camuzzi; - but it was noticed that there was half a silence in the room and that the cause was the lawyer Belotti, who was whispering violently in the sub-prefect's box. Even the moderate Mr. Fiorio seemed excited. Finally he spread his arms, as if he could no longer prevent something, and then the lawyer rushed out the door ... Suddenly the room surged. What was going on Should the theater be closed again because Don Taddeo had the government to himself? What an assault! “We are very much back in Italy!” Did you at least get your money out? ... All the voices immediately sank again, because now you could see the lawyer hurrying into the ground floor. Lieutenant Cantinelli had already got up and immediately followed the lawyer, quickly and carefully. “Fontana! He shouted in a low voice, and his two subordinates left their posts on either side of the entrance to follow him. At the head of the armed force, who wore their large feathers, had their coats broad in red and clinked cautiously, the lawyer Belotti pulled through the dividing crowd, thrown into the chest so that the stiff shirt cracked. He looked straight ahead with determination and no one dared ask him anything.

“What a personality, the lawyer!” Remarked the coachman Masetti, who had been pressed against the wall of the exit by the force; and the barber Bonometti added:

"I knew he was a great man."

At the same time he pushed behind with the others.

“What then?” Called Galileo Belotti, bracing himself against the tide. "What do you want? Don't you know the lawyer is a Buffone? Cardboard! That was still missing to take the lawyer seriously! "

But his own friends, the peasants, poked him in the back; he had to make room; and already there was a hundredfold pounding on the stairs outside. Mama Paradisi had got up in her box, pulled a daughter right and left under the wide roof of her hat, and waited to see if they could escape. The merchant Mancafede promised her - and in the general excitement he put his dry hand on his heart - his person as cover in case of danger. The widow Pastecaldi pleaded with her neighbor, the pharmacist, to call the orchestra and warn her son, who was playing the bass.

Acquistapace replied:

"It's nothing, Signora, the lawyer only silences Don Taddeo." [159]

"The lawyer silences Don Taddeo," repeated the young Amelia Pastecaldi, silently dreamy, and looked out of her stiff gauze dress.

The blind head of the old writer Ortensi leaned into Frau Mandolini's box.

“Beatrice,” he said, giggling, “the priest is silenced. That reminds of the good times. "

"We're still alive, Orlando," said the old woman, stiffly erect, in a deep voice, and between her white hair rolls only the black eyes on her long white face laughed.

“Not possible!” Called the tobacco dealer Polli next door and ran out. The housekeeper of old Ortensi immediately hung her ample hand over the wall of the box, and when the young Olindo Polli brushed against it, trembling, she turned an imperiously lascivious face on him, before which he broke into a sweat.The two Miss Giocondi saw everything that was going on in spite of the chaos of the house, and they nudged each other with hostility.

"Everyone like Papa," said Cesira and turned around. Behind them her mother kept her dirty gray head bowed and was probably asleep again.

"With women like that they make families unhappy, the woman will look like mom, and we will not marry."

"I'm sick of getting married," said the betrothed Rosina. Then the box door opened, and old Giocondi swung his funny little belly in. His eyes sparkled.

"Everything is going well," he called, making a generous bow with his hand. “They're bringing Pipistrelli down from the bell tower. You should have frozen food, and do you want a [160] Marsala? Ah, girls, kiss me, you only got your papa back yesterday. "

"I knew you would come: blood is thicker than water", Cesira cheered and swayed in his arm. The betrothed Rosina, whom he ignored in her shame, looked away and thought: “The goose lets itself be petted and screams! As if one were getting a dowry from it! What the insurance company gives his papa he uses for his pleasure on business trips; Mama and we have to get by with retirees; and if you finally have a little civil servant to marry, then after three years of waiting he runs away again because papa never puts anything aside for the facility ... "

"Hey, Zecchini, how is it?" Her father called into the ground floor. "So he's still ringing?"

“The lawyer is just asking him for the last time: then power will penetrate the tower!” - and the old gifted man pushed everyone aside with his stomach in order to get out again. Others returned with messages shouting into the boxes. The pious kept the bell tower ringed, but the lawyer had driven them to flight! He had forced the nuns, whose white wing hoods looked out of the windows of the monastery, to withdraw because the sight of them caused an uproar! From outside came the shouts of victory, then the quiet, hasty rustle of a crowd as they shrink back, and again the noise of triumphant people. Then from the ground floor to the gallery a rushing "Ah!"

"It stopped! Bravo! Down with the priests! "

Someone shouted:

"Long live the lawyer!"

"What? Which lawyer? ”- and Galileo Belotti [161] worked his way through with shoulders and arms. At the same moment the bell started again.

“There you have it!” Shouted the brother. “If I tell you he's a Buffone, the lawyer! Pipistrelli gets something on his head from the tower - "

He could no longer be heard, because suddenly there was howling, whistling and roaring outside, so that the ladies in the boxes stopped breathing. Mrs. Camuzzi crossed herself.

“Don Taddeo was right. If it went well again! ”- and the merchant Mancafede, very white, glanced behind him at his two clerks who were lying on the wall from tiredness.

“That is the end of everything. One should never unleash the people. At first it only seems to go against the priests, and then, good night, it's about our box seats and our money. "

"My God, where to now," sighed the widow Pastecaldi over there, left alone by the pharmacist Acquistapace; "We women are sacrificed here."

The old Mandolini said beside her, deeply and without moving:

“Have no fear of the people, my dear! The people are generous. When my husband was about to be shot in Cesena, a crowd drove the Pope's soldiers apart, and in the confusion a tanner named Sciaccaluga took the place of the condemned. For fear of being disturbed again, they shot him immediately and without looking closer; But Mario escaped. That people loved him because he had loved them. "

"What do you want?" Asked Rosina Giocondi and led the bright spherical eyes over the crowd in her face, which was soft and transparent as gelatine. The people had jumped up, they were shouting at one another! They clapped, hissed and roared the hissers down! What mattered to the priests whom they wished death? What was the lawyer Belotti for, whom they honored, useful? "Neither Belotti nor Don Taddeo will marry me, and Amadeo has been transferred."

One could see for oneself that the bells were silent: the noise subsided. For in front on the left the lawyer Belotti was standing behind the parapet of his box; his stiff shirt was broken into folds, his wig was crooked, and with his brown straw hat he signaled that he wanted to talk. At first the heart that was beating in the throat let out only a hoarse touch. Then came a saying.

"Finally we can say that we are free."

“Bravo!” - and the lawyer scratched his feet in front of the gallery, ground floor and boxes. Then he fell into old Acquistapace's arms and gasped:

“I'm happy, my friend, but it doesn't matter, it was getting hot outside. Your wife was one of the most dangerous. She wanted to penetrate here, fortunately Corvi defended the lodges; I'll get him the job at the public car. "

"The lawyer silences Don Taddeo," whispered young Amelia, her cheeks unevenly flushed.

"Long live the lawyer!" Shouted the gallery.

"But that word was spoken by Garibaldi," said the parish secretary Camuzzi; and above him, in the club box, the hymn to Garibaldi was ironically demanded. The pharmacist Acquistapace wanted to hear her seriously. Knowing that his wife would not get to him, he shouted dark red, and beside him the old mandolini clapped. Someone on the ground floor hissed: it was the baker Crepalini. [163]

"To the door!" Called the gallery.

"How?" He replied, holding out his bulldog face. "I paid six seats, they cost more than a box, and I shouldn't give my opinion?"

"He's right, the baker," said the locksmith Fantapiè to the locksmith Scarpetta upstairs, and both looked around menacingly.

"You want a beating?" Asked a man in a driver's coat, throwing everyone aside to get closer. In the orchestra, the tailor Chiaralunzi struck the ramp with his horn.

"The hymn!"

Said the Baron Torroni to Frau Camuzzi. "We won't give it anything more to do."

“The gallery will collapse from the trampling”, the merchant Mancafede wailed, “and we will fall on our heads. The lawyer was a fool with his hymn. "

"All of this is not good" - and Mrs. Camuzzi hid herself in the shadows. "What will Don Taddeo say?"

Raffaella, Theo and Lauretta, too, had put their handkerchiefs over their mouths and were watching with fear and disapproval the waves that were blowing up there and back there.

"What! What a hymn! Pappappapp! ”Repeated Galileo Belotti; and in the orchestra the barber Nonoggi imitated the rooster. Suddenly his wife had him by the collar and was shaking him.

"You asked for the hymn too, you heathen!"

One laughed. In the gallery, Felicetta and Pomponia clapped their thighs and screeched. Mrs. Salvatori and Mrs. Malandrini held out their fans at the same time towards the Jole Capitani's box. Everyone looked, even the old Mandolini took her lorgnon. [164]

"The lawyer is with Jole," they said all around. “So it is true… how delighted she looks at him! She has lost her head, her arms. "

"Signora," said the lawyer, "I have come to lay at your feet the homage this people pays to me."

She craned her neck gently and peered out, fearful and eager to be seen.

"If only I had a plaster there," she said, cooing, "for your finger that is bleeding."

The lawyer had his cue, he stepped forward.

“Fellow citizens!” He shouted, and from the exertion he rose to tiptoe; "The struggle for freedom has once again torn wounds with us: now, as you demand, the hymn will sound that greeted the hero of freedom whenever he -"

"What! What a hymn! ”Snapped Galileo Belotti.

“I don't need a hymn!” Cried Crepalini the baker. "I need a box, pay for six and not a box!"

"You have spoken, I know my duty," shouted the lawyer.

"You don't know anything, Buffone!"

The lawyer started; suddenly the whole hall seemed to be of his brother's opinion. They laughed, they cheered angrily; there: a whistle ... pale, with noiseless chattering lips and hurrying little servants, the lawyer withdrew. The doctor's wife watched him in horror until he closed the door of the box with one last scratching foot.

"What happened?" He asked outside and wiped his forehead. “What do you suddenly have? You just paid homage to me? Who is behind it? ... And the Jole that I thought I had! O faithless happiness! "[165]

He stumbled against the walls of the corridor. A door could open and you could see him in his weakness! He hurried down the stairs, would have liked to have fled outside, - but again only malevolent curiosity of the fallen waited in front of the theater! He slipped on his toes into the left corridor, secretly opened his box ... His sister was just saying to the pharmacist:

“Always with the women, the lawyer! If he were a minister, he would just always do whatever they want, and that would be his misfortune ... There he is! "

She smiled at him with pouting admiration.

“There you have, lawyer! Of course, they were upset because you were with a beautiful woman. I've always told you: women will be your undoing. "

The friend Acquistapace shook his hand, but the lawyer sat down with a groan on the unlit end of the bench.

"The lawyer is silencing Don Taddeo," he said ecstatically, and his niece Amelia adored him. He nodded to her, as one nods down to soft water in a difficult hour, to a flower that smells delicately, to some harmless piece of unconscious nature.

“Popular favor,” he said, “is changing. Every great man has experienced it. "

There were soft steps above him: the sub-prefect, Mr. Fiorio, returned to his box. The citizens pointed out appreciatively; he had acted as a statesman by avoiding the dispute between the parties. The people in the gallery found him cowardly; several hissed; but then the humorous voice of Mr. Giocondi called out:

"And who, poor Tonietta‘? "[166]

"Of course, you, poor Tonietta‘ ", replied the gallery, and on the ground floor Galileo Belotti added:

"Enough with the Buffoons!"

"Maestro! Maestro!"

There was a pounding in the gallery.

"It's nine thirty, we wait an hour," said the merchant Mancafede. Over there Mrs. Polli said:

"These comedians make fun of us."

To please her, her husband whistled. It whistled in every corner.

"We want them, poor Tonietta‘! "

“What do I care about, poor Tonietta‘ ”, thought the lawyer Belotti and the disobedient Rosina Giocondi.

"Maestro! Maestro!"

Suddenly he appeared in the small door under the stage. You clapped ironically, you said "Ah!"

He held out his hands awkwardly, hurried down and was extremely pale.

"The poor young man!" Said the ladies.

"The Kanaille!" He thought. “She doesn't know what an hour she gave me. They do their mischief for an hour - while I stand behind a dark backdrop and suffer like an animal. Then let me come by whistling. "

He climbed onto his swivel stand, tapped it with his stick and, tearing at the tips of his goatee, looked from one to the other in the orchestra.

"Nonoggi, you don't speak anymore when I'm there! ... Mr. Zampieri, watch out for your fifths!"

"He'll screw himself up, as usual," thought the conductor. “Everyone is thinking of something else, this performance is impossible, why don't I put the baton down and leave. If you look at this audience - "[167]

He had to turn to look at him.

“- then who did Maestro Viviani write his opera for? We are few and we should live in solitude. There is no people that hears us ... Alfò! "He whispered wildly," if you don't keep your kettledrum quiet, I don't know what I'm doing! "

He added very gently:

"Dear Mandolini, I recommend myself to you."

He let go of the tips of his beard and held out his hand. She was in suspension; the staff hovered on the other side. The conductor held his breath; and his trestle seemed to him, in the midst of an immense silence, lifted into the air.

"It won't go well, something will come up!"

"The hymn!" Shouted a drunken voice from the gallery. "We want the anthem!"

"To the door! To the door!"

"Allebardi, you will get to know me!" - and the bandmaster drove from his seat so terribly distorted that the upholsterer, eyes down, straightened himself out with his bombardon.

... And finally the staff could lower.

"What then, Prelude!" Grumbled Galileo Belotti. "We have come to see!"

And as if his command were being carried out, the curtain opened after just two bars.

The gallery held its breath. Gradually she whispered.

"What do you want? ... you want wine. The two in front of the house have just married, and the others are accompanying them home ... They sing like the girls in Pozzo sing at the grape harvest. Do we need comedians for that? But [168] they understand better. How do you understand? Hear, Felicetta, what voices! I didn't think the big yellow was good for anything other than hanging around with the gentlemen ... What a noise the instruments made! Allebardi was the worst. My head is only booming now that they are quiet and only the children's voices remain. It's like when a big thunderstorm suddenly ends and you hear a little bird chirping ... Look, my Ninetto, the one in front is Carlino Chiaralunzi. You too could stand there and congratulate the couple. Let's clap! "

“Bravo!” And the fat old Zecchini clinked glasses with his drinking brothers on the ground floor. “That one is having a good day too. Stand firm, godfather! ... And he says things as they are, this old man: Be fertile, my children, father me grandchildren! Bravo!"

The tenants at the front explained to each other:

“He wants the property to stay in the family. He is poorly understood, but it seems that he is a reasonable man ... Of course, there must be a woman in between! What does she want from the young husband? Oh yes: he should have married her. And the good? Of course she is a beautiful girl, more beautiful than the other. "

“It looks similar to the Italia,” remarked the innkeeper Malandrini in his box. “Now she is inciting the boys against the newlyweds: Tonietta has betrayed him. In doing so, she cheated on the baron herself, with the lawyer and the others. "

"Be silent!" Said Ms. Malandrini, pressing her chin wide on her neck collar and getting a face like a red cone. “Be silent! You don't know what you are talking about. A man like the baron does not even think of such - "[169]

She bit her lip.

"What did I want to say?" She thought. "This music makes you lose your head and chat."

There was a giggle in the gallery.

“See the girls! You look through the window into the newlyweds' bedroom. But it is certainly not true that Tonietta did what you say. You are jealous! The little blonde is right, who throws a flower on the bed. Now the others are throwing flowers too. Why is that a thing that makes you sad? "

Mama Paradisi and her daughters also let tears flow, and the widow Pastecaldi sobbed childlike.

"There is nothing. It's the music, ”explained the lawyer.

"But now the bed must look like a coffin, and you are so young!"

"So young!"

Cesira Giocondi tilted her long nose over her sister Rosina.

"Certainly Tonietta has spoken as much about her furniture as you have talked about yours - and you should see that things are going wrong with her too."

Lauretta and Theo from Via Tripoli nodded touchedly to each other; only the tall Raffaella worried the thickest of the tenants on the left behind her with the corner of her eye. Mama Farinaggi whispered wetly on the back of her neck:

"Don't you have a heart?"

Mrs. Camuzzi turned to her husband, who had come in and asked what was going on.

"Shut up. Be quiet! you have no heart. "

And she returned to the tenor.

Only once had she let him out of her sight. He had stood beside his [170] Tonietta in front of the flower-colored country house, and when he put his arm around his mistress, Frau Camuzzi closed her eyelids and bitterly lowered the corners of her mouth. A strand of his half-long and straight black hair swayed on his forehead, above the broad, short saddle of his nose. He was pale in his white suit; and his paleness and his black, never laughing gaze made that in the fullness of his happiness, he alone among the happy, he seemed already shadowed by the fate that lay ahead.

And he rushed forward because he heard his comrades speak ill of his wife. He had an exchange; he bit his knuckles; he straightened up, stepped away from the others, in front of the ramp; - and the action that had gasped took a deep breath: he sang his aria. “I am betrayed,” he sang, “now I should love who betrayed me. I will be happy with my enemy. Tomorrow I'll talk to her lover, and happiness is over ... "

"Out," thought Mrs. Camuzzi. “Why didn't he come back? He said I was beautiful and he loved me. I told him if he sneaked into the dark space under the stairs after lunch, I would come to him. He never did it; - and instead of me he should love others: the baroness, the Malandrini with whom he lives, Mama Paradisi even. I don't need his loyalty; but i am out of luck My husband could die; I could get out of this city where no one understands me. But I myself will die here without having enjoyed; - and I hate everyone: him, who doesn't want to help me, and Camuzzi, who hinders me! "

“… Happiness is over at the same time as lies. It takes a night. We want to enjoy the night, it may cost your life, the precious night! "[171]

"The precious night!" Repeated the choir. He cheerfully accompanied Piero's threatening and painful tones. The wedding procession returned between the fields to the village, where the bell rang for evening; And before him, when the bells were silent, the Pifferari's flute was loud, which, invisible in the distance, as if it were dreams and teasing, blew the way in which, in the foreground, the lover's passion raged. Now he was alone on the stage, holding out one last note; - and meanwhile the tenor horn of the tailor Chiaralunzi repeated his scream, Piero grasped his temples with both hands, took two plunging steps and shook himself completely. . . He was gone. It was still so quiet in the room that Frau Giocondi's snoring could be heard; but before her husband even pinched her, all hands were in the air and clapping. They clapped as if they were chasing after the faded notes. She embittered that the orchestra wanted to continue.

"Once again! Once again!"

"Do you want to be quiet!" Hissed Mrs. Camuzzi over her shoulder to her husband.

"But he sang very well, my dear," said the ward clerk. "Everyone thinks it is."

"Not me," and she bit her lip. "He is happy," she thought; "But I will take revenge."

He showed himself, with his dark smile, against the backdrop.

"Once again! Once again!"

Mrs. Camuzzi turned graciously to her husband.

“You are too good-natured, my dear. As happy as your character can make a woman, you may need to be more ruthless in public life. Why did you submit when the lawyer Belotti tried to fetch these bad comedians [172]? But if you couldn't prevent it, then you had to put yourself at the top of the company. "

“You think, my dear? The truth is, I didn't believe it would work. I was sure the lawyer would be embarrassed ... Has your fan broken? I heard it crack. "

"No. Now you have one thing, my friend. You can strengthen Don Taddeo's cause. It's the good thing; - and why should the lawyer be made so big? Say it yourself! ... You heard that the baker Crepalini rebelled because he didn't get a box. There are more dissatisfied people in his class. Get in touch with the middle class, my Ghino! "

“What a nice thought,” said the community secretary, shoving his hands into his trouser pockets and showing off his slender bust, standing upright next to his much admired wife. “In this way one would see whether the lawyer's enterprise holds up in the dispute between the parties. I don't think this theater season will be played to the end. I have already calculated that we will have to put the electrical system out of operation for lack of money. "

"So what are you going to do?"

"To do? ... I can speak to the locksmith Fantapiè, who is a follower of Don Taddeo and who will work on his friends in the spirit of the priest. "

"So go, my friend!" - and as soon as he was out, Mrs. Camuzzi dropped her broken fan and stepped on it. "That's a man!" She smiled and gritted her teeth when she greeted the gentlemen who greeted them.

"One more time!" It shouted incessantly.

The conductor conducted with arms and body, as if he were galloping, as if he had to go through a pack. But she was on his heels, she stopped him. Exhausted, he let the staff drop; the orchestra broke off; Tonietta quickly withdrew into the house; and Piero appeared. He bowed and wanted to leave. But the clapping hands brought him out again. The conductor raised his face and staff. Then the tenor gave him a sign with his hand, you didn't know whether to grant or plead. He took his former place. The choir returned and settled down. The conductor knocked. The young people on the ground floor, with the big hats and brightly colored scarves, watched calmly and happily as all this bliss was accomplished again thanks to the strength of their hands, which had defeated time and put time aside.

When Piero was finished, the gallery screamed over the tenor horn.

"Bravo! Well!"

Many looked around proudly, as if they had sung themselves. The city customs officer Loretani in the second row of stalls, behind the fat Lauretta, started again out of inexperienced enthusiasm:

"Once again!"

Immediately the family sons imitated ironically in the club box:

"Once again!"

And there was a hissing sound. The Piero disappeared. The young people on the ground floor clapped to avenge him. The lodges were indignant. A fight of tongues and hands raged through the house. Mrs. Camuzzi held up the cloth and hissed. With every hissing sound, she straightened up, and her little depressed face had sparkling eyes. [174]

The conductor continued to conduct, and he smiled deeply in derision.

"We want to hear Tonietta!" Shouted from the gallery; - and that's when most of them noticed that she was singing. She knelt in front of the picture of the Madonna by the house, with one shoulder facing the hall.

"That's the prayer!" Cried old Giocondi. "Quiet, yes."

Now they understood her, and that, while a moonbeam from trees was spraying her loose hair, she begged the heavens to keep her happiness. The noise sank back from her voice, like the fleshly covering of a soul, and she rose. The people watched their flight with their mouths half open, eyes softly shining. "Oh God!" Sighed a woman here and there. Afterwards they hung themselves over the gallery and reached down with their clapping hands so that they would be closer to the little creature that was bowing down there. At the first sound of applause she rose from her knees, relaxed, as if tired from her upswing and still indifferent to the earthly.

“What a voice! Once again!"

“Only now can you see that it is beautiful! Her hair shines like a golden fur. Once again!"

With every step she became more alert and quicker. Now she was in front and greeted with cold suppleness, first the gallery, then the hall, and then the boxes. There was something intangible about her smile; it belonged to everyone and nobody. Sometimes it stopped and a stern look fell on the conductor.

"Once again! Once again!"

He struck tact unperturbed. This time they shouldn't bring him down! May they make a noise!

"And if no one hears a note from the whole act: I'll let it play to the end." [175]

He gave the prima donna a superior look, he did not notice her stomping in the midst of her smiles. Suddenly she ran - and turned away, thrusting her hand towards the conductor's seat - back to the house and knelt.

"Brava! You can see that she's starting over! "

Instead Piero appeared, they saw each other and, struck by the moonlight, went to meet. It howled up above:

"Once again! Once again!"

“Tomorrow again!” Called Galileo Belotti, and that upset her completely.

The two stood in front of each other, arms raised weakly. You could see their open mouths and hear nothing.

"From the beginning! The Tonietta! "

The prima donna cast her bright gaze over the audience, lowered it contemptuously to the conductor, and shrugged her shoulders, always singing. The tenor raised it too, and he held out his palm to the crowd in assurances. The Kapellmeister had gotten cold. He no longer looked up from the desk. The loneliness around him became fatal. For a moment it seemed to him that even his orchestra had left him and was silent. On the run from the pack beyond, he had come to the edge of an abyss. Did they tire and lag? … All right then! He had been about to drop his hand, to surrender. He wiped his forehead with his left hand.

“You don't hear anything! Buffon! We paid too! "

"Quiet! now the best is coming! ”exclaimed the jovial voice of Mr. Giocondi. From above came those of the maids:

"Watch out for Nina's harp!"

And for her sake it fell silent. Frau Zampieri in the first row of the parquet leaned forward to peer through the strings of the harp with a transfigured face. Behind it sat her child, white as a blossom, and made everyone remain silent. “We couldn't buy powder, but still her arms are very white.” Everyone was silent; only very soft violins breathed Nina's tones, which moved and dissipated like moonbeams. When it ended, then the moonlight was certainly extinguished from the stage above and Tonietta and Piero were mute. Frau Zampieri pulled her shoulders forward in her black dress, which had gone gray, for fear that these sounds would end.

“When Luciano finally gets the assistant teacher position, we will almost have something to eat… Will the young Mandolini get serious? He always looks over his violin at Nina. Keep playing, Ninetta! "

“You see,” said Lauretta next door to Theo, “I knew that this Tonietta was a decent girl and not -. Now he believes hers too, it seems, and through the window they show their bed with the flowers. How touching it is! "

"But they want to die."

“That's what he says; the men often say that; and you believe them as long as you have little experience. "

Mama Paradisi leaned over the wall of the neighboring box, unseen by her daughters, and she sighed.

"Tonietta is right: the best thing is to love each other even in adversity."

The merchant Mancafede nodded, hoping his clerks wouldn't notice.

Rosina Giocondi turned away. “How many lies! What if she didn't have the house as a dowry? She does well to remind him: Look, beloved, our blooming house! ”A whisper went around. [177]

"Ah! There it is. I've been waiting for it for a long time ... Quiet, Elenuccia, you will never hear anything more beautiful ... Just a minute, Signora: this duet is the most famous piece in the whole opera ... Ah! Ah! What is that? Are these still human voices? Don't the trees sing too? Doesn't the moon sing? ... This music is made of silk! "

The old man of letters Ortensi said to his friend, the old woman Mandolini:

“This piece is good because it makes ideas come to me. I see too little to distinguish the stage; but in these sounds it expands to me into a land of infinite love. A whole people embraced and fraternized. It has kinder, more spiritual faces than other people have. O! now it opens and an angel emerges ... Didn't we plan this, Beatrice, when we were young? "

"But we had it!" Replied the old woman. "We still have it, Orlando!"

“No comparison with our phonograph,” said the tobacco dealer Polli to his wife. “Tamagno and Berlendi sing with us; what are these poor young people besides? "

Her son Olindo thought very quietly under his red head:

"So much love! Is there such a thing? How do you have to be, what do you have to do? "

“O Rina!” Whispered in the gallery the journeyman of the locksmith Fantapiè; "If you don't love me, I'll kill myself."

"What did you think of now, Klothilde?" - and Doctor Ranucci stood in front of his wife with outstretched arms. “I look at you, you think about the tenor. Oh, we would never have come here! "

Her pale eyes slipped; she shrugged her shoulders shyly. [178]

"Bravi! Once again!"

The parquet was on its feet. Over the two Miss Pernici who were crying, Lieutenant Cantinelli said, beside himself, to Mama Farinaggi, the housewife from Via Tripoli:

"That is downright divine!"

"How? We heard it! ”- and the young people in the back, with their big hats and colorful scarves, shook the hands of the farmers around Galileo Belotti. He scolded:

"What again? Tomorrow again! "

But no one paid any attention to the other. The lawyer Belotti gasped from friend Acquistapace to sister Artemisia.

“Didn't I tell you this was the best thing? And I was the first to hear it: already on the rehearsal! ... Signora, "and he served Mrs. Mandolini over the partition," I could have predicted the success of this duet, because without wanting to boast - "

She did not listen to him, and the lawyer looked longingly about his enemy Camuzzi. The box in which the old Mandolini now sat had been reserved for the Camuzzi! What had happened then? Why didn't he find Camuzzi next to him, who was sure to declare everything bad?

“A nice fraud, the comedian with his love! I know her! ”Thought Mrs. Camuzzi. And Mrs. Zampieri:

"Nina does all of this, my Ninetta!"

"Out! Once again!"

And the two of them stepped out of the house, still arms around each other. The conductor had already knocked. "As they want! Then we will spend the night here. I will definitely not make any more attempts to prevent it. ”He questioned the singers with his eyes and immediately started again. This time the hall remained silent. Afterwards many forgot to clap; they shook their heads. “It was even nicer. You wouldn't believe it. "

The prima donna and the tenor bowed, each to his side, and in the middle the hands they were holding sometimes jerked each other, as if one were diverting all the applause on to the other. Then they disappeared into the house, hugged. There was laughter in the club box.

"To the door!"

The stage was empty and the orchestra was playing.

"The only means," the sub-prefect explained behind the held hand to the tax farmer, "to indicate what is now going on inside."

In the club box, the young Savezzo thought:

“The melody goes from the harp to the cello: there it seems less platonic - and so on up to the kettledrum. I understand. I will also write an opera. "

"Sst!" The lawyer scared Belotti, because his sister sobbed so loudly that it must soon be heard through all the music. She produced:

"If only Pastecaldi had liked the wine a little less, he was still alive!"

Over there Jole Capitani mused softly:

“Poor lawyer! Still, it seems, he only loves me. "

The young Salvatori met young Serafini's eyes in the club box and quickly dropped hers into her lap; Rosina Giocondi met Olindo Polli's next door, and suddenly something twitched to her heart, frightening, like hope that is finding the path that has already been forgotten; - [180] while the journeyman cobbler, Dante Marinelli, wrapped his arm around his girl, who propped hers on the gallery and spoke into her dusty hair.

“I know this music, Cölestina! Didn't you sing it to me? "

The tall Raffaella slowly turned her mocking expression across the heated room.

On the ground floor, the barber Bonometti and the tailor Coccola shook their heads.

"How do you do it? The Nonoggi and the Chiaralunzi can play little, as everyone knows. "

"What! They can't do anything, ”claimed Galileo Belotti.

“And yet it sounds good. One would think that if we instead of them -. It's an honor for the stand. Good, Chiaralunzi! Good, Nonoggi! "

In the front seats, Ms. Nonoggi said to Ms. Chiaralunzi:

“Do you hear Nonoggi? Your husband is seen puffing his cheeks from time to time, as if something special was going on, but then the others make a noise too; mine, on the other hand, can always be heard and he makes funny faces as if he were shaving you. Believe me, he is the most important person here. "

The tailor's wife said, smiling quietly:

"If my husband really wanted to get started -"

The wife of the baritone Gaddi, in the third row, had long been examining the wife of the shoemaker Malagodi from the side, looked away, moved around and approached again. At last she dared:

“Now comes the main thing: my husband is about to appear. He will be a count, the highest person in the play, and when he [181] joins the plot becomes tragic. He has a voice like no one. "

Mrs. Malagodi blinked at her blankly, but the singer's wife completed:

“The fact that the music is getting so angry now, that comes because he is behind the scenes. I know it."

Mama Farinaggi turned around, clumps of moisture in her make-up.

“Should he go away again? It's not there yet, and you can no longer see the moon, which was so poetic. Certainly the poor young people who love each other so much will still have trouble because of him. I do not like it."

She started because the whip was cracked violently. A brazen voice called out to Piero, spurred boots stamped, and a tight belly in a red vest became visible.

“Bravo Maestro!” Shouted the young people over there. "Once again the orchestra!"

"What then!" It replied. "We want to see what's coming."

“How dirty it is! Is that a gentleman? It will be a carter. "

"But he has a piece of glass in his eye and a yellow beard, so he's a gentleman."

“What fists! What a voice! What a knife! Poor Piero! He's just coming out of his Tonietta's arms, and now he's dealing with him. Damn it, he hits the table, he wants wine. "

"He is drunk. And then he talks about selling his cheeses in the capital. A beautiful gentleman! "

“Don't you recognize him? This is exactly what the Conte [182] Fossoneri looks like in Calto. If you look right, the Baron Torroni - "

“But Piero's voice is always above his own, he can scream as he likes. The Piero will defeat him. Fest, Piero! "

“He says he has a right to our wives? Is he the Lord? You are a dog! Whistle! Whistle! "

“Don't believe him, Piero! He's nothing but a boast, we women notice that straight away, and he never had Tonietta. "

"Down with him!"

“Things are going badly, you are losing your head, Piero. Oh! then he runs into the house and will do something to her. How stupid men are! "

“And why are they clapping? Because he sang well there? But you don't sing such things, what the devil! "

"Shouldn't you put an end to him before it's too late?"

"Oh! what a misfortune. Piero pulls Tonietta out of the house. He is out of his mind! Yes, of course you are his wife, he shouldn't do that! Just kneel in front of the Madonna: she too is a woman, and she will testify to you of your innocence. We all will. . . Oh! it's free, he's already pulling her down the hill, people are already gathering in the village alley, and old Geronimo is standing in his door. Run to him, Tonietta, he's your father! ... Is it possible, he won't let you in? The men are all stuck together, that's it! "

“How she begs him, how she rears up! This is how they sang when we were young, Orlando. I have palpitations. "

"Have you really always been loyal to me, Cölestina?"

"O Dante, you want to torture me again!" [183]

“What a mess! Do you see! The men are all against her, and the stupid girls chatter after them that Tonietta has it with the count. Law! someone jumps at her throat. The big yellow one! Right, she deserves it. Oh! it is stronger; and now the next one. Tonietta, it's no use, let it go! "

“Have they gone crazy in the orchestra? It drives me crazy myself, I have to scream! "

“Quiet up there! To the door!"

"At last! One has mercy on her, the smallest. Poor Tonietta: yes, you speak true, she is a poor Tonietta. See, now she is standing and crying. Do you see now that it is not bad? "

"I never believed anything wrong with her, Pomponia."

“Neither do I, Felicetta. I don't believe every gossip right away. Oh! how she cries. You have to cry too. "

“It goes away through all the people who are silent. She throws her skirt over her head, as if on a long journey, and yet walks on bare feet, poor little girl. "

“Come to us! Everyone wants you here! "

"How? The curtain falls? But where is she going? You have to know that! "

“We'll find out. Hey, Corvi, your arc lamp hums like a swarm of grasshoppers and yet it doesn't turn on. "

"Out! Everyone out! Bravi! Bravo Maestro! "

“But haven't you seen, Malandrini, how Piero repented? He had his face in his hands. "

"If you ever suspect, my dear -"

“It is wrong to have a suspicion. You can see that one regrets him. "

“Eh!” Said the tobacco dealer Polli to his son Olindo, “such things happen. Life is not to be trifled with, remember that! "[184]

Old Giocondi interfered.

“I even know a very similar case from Rome. A farmer had - "

"Bravi! Bravo Maestro! "

“Coffee, frozen food, lemonade! Fresh water with anise! "

"Are we smoking a cigarette outside?"

"Bravi!"

"As the chairman of the committee, it is my duty to congratulate the performers," said lawyer Belotti. The pharmacist quickly pulled out his wooden leg.

“I'm also on the committee. Let's go! Because it seems they are no longer clapping. "

The curtain was just closing for the fifth time behind the conductor and his singers. Flora Garlinda immediately snatched her hand from his.

"Thanks," - and she hissed at him.

"What for?" He asked, blushing deeply and still, out of headlessness, still with the smile he had shown the audience.

"They ask?"

The prima donna put her hands on her hips and threw the bust forward. Red showers could be seen running over the bare skin, the face was elongated with hatred and anger.

“I know, of course, that you have learned nothing. I learn from good friends who know your past that you never went to a conservatory. Isn't that right, Maestro? "

He backed away, pale.

"But you could still know that with applause like mine, the aria will be repeated!" [185]

"We repeated the duet," he said, pulling on his fingers.

“Don't pretend to be childish! What do I get if I have to share with someone else? I don't blame Nello for anything. "

"How? What should I do? ”Asked the young man, without letting go of the hole in the curtain.

"Nothing ... He must appear very harmless to you, since you let his aria be repeated and mine not."

"But I haven't played my interlude for the second time either."

“Because nobody wanted to hear it. Thanks again. I met you, it's worth a lot. Now it's up to you to get to know me. "

She flew away. The door of her dressing room slammed shut. Gaddi and Cavaliere Giordano walked past the conductor, lifting their shoulders.

"After all, she's right ... you are an artist or not ... you could foresee that, maestro."

"I wouldn't put up with it either," said Italia with a big blow. The conductor threw up his arms.

"But none of the gentlemen runs the risk of having to repeat something!"

"If that's your opinion of us, what are we doing here?"

"That saying was a mistake, Maestro" - and Italia laughed contemptuously. The old tenor declared:

“I took it easy, that's my right, isn't it? Who, like me, has a different role to sing in each act - "

"What's the noise over there?"