“The big boys” Carlo Collodi

– Bettina, immediately turn on the fireplace – said Clarenza, entering into the living room and turning his word to a woman in her fifties, that was dusting with a brush pens thousand knickknacks, a variable methods, placed for ornament on the shelf of a fireplace, surmounted by a large mirror.

– In the moment – said Bettina, and bending to accommodate the wood, he said to his young mistress:

– Guess a little ', Mrs. Clarenza, chi ho veduto or ora, for the road, mentre tornavo home.

– It will be a little 'difficult.

– Yo, I give you a thousand guesses.

– Imagine, if you want to be to rack your brain. Spicciamoci: those who have seen?

– The Count!…

– Come! Mario is here?.. It seems almost impossible. At this hour would come to visit us.

– Eppure was his!

– Research, Bettina, you wrong!…

– It was him in person… and you keep getting a handsome man!…

– Lo credo. Always Elegant?..

– Always the same. I remember when, from young man, came to the house and they all believed that between him and her – (so saying Bettina, motioned with his eyes on his mistress) – there really was something… besides…

– And then, the most beautiful all hopes went up in smoke, Bettina is not true?.. – In uttering these last words, the Clarenza had one of those laughs artificial, that does not make anyone laugh, not even the person laughs.

After ten minutes of silence, la Bettina, shaking his head, continued:

– Too bad! What a lovely couple would have been!…

– I do not believe: Mario was not the man for me! Too light of nature: too fickle! too farfallone!… Mario, to your rule, will never be a serious man!…

– But a very handsome man!

– We hope that Emilia has made the judgment put!…

– Let us hope really.

– Anyway, Federigo is worth more in a single finger…

– Dicerto – replicò la Bettina, in a tone of sincere conviction. – Dicerto, Mr. Frederick is a great person worthy… but here… in my view, does not have to be as good as the malice of Mr. Mario!…

In the meantime,, Francis showed up at the door, announcing: – The Count Mario.

The Clarenza, with the rapidity of lightning, you looked in the mirror one last dié: then, took the first book that he happened in her hands, went to sit in front of the fireplace.

– Permission is granted?

– But this is a miracle! a true apparition!… – said Clarenza, smiling, turning toward the door, and stretching out his hand to the Count.

– My good Clarenza! Me too I seem to dream! – replicò Mario, in a tone of ill-concealed distress.

Clarenza, amazed, looked him straight in the eye: then, Gaining a soothing tone of voice:

– There is perhaps happened qualchecosa?..

– Because?..

– Dio mio! Have him an air of ill-humor, you do just pity… can, once so cheerful… so scapato…

– You do not mind me, Clarenza, rather talk about you. The years pass and do not affect you. Always fresh and beautiful, as a camellia plant on.

– Devil May! – replied brightly Clarenza, a little impermalita the compliment – a woman, to venticinqu'anni, almost a duty not to be ugly. You also, you know, Mario: if you had not codest'aria of weeping willow, you could say that you are kept as an ermine in camphor.

– Not, my friend – replied the Count, again lowering the tone of voice – now I am old, a decrepit thirty-year!…

– Here are the usual phrases! About: How is Emilia? have not told me anything..

– Vi prego!… do not touch this button.

– I do fear? Is it sick? – asked Clarenza with lively anxiety.

– Worse!…

– My God!… Life?

– Worse!…

– Worse?.. – Clarenza was puzzled, stuonata, as outside itself: then almost suddenly illuminated by a flash, that crossed his mind, added slowly and compassionate voice:

– Povero Mario! in this case I completely understand your pain and I respect that…

The Count let fall over a chair, where for a few seconds and stood with his eyes fixed on the ground. When he resented, his first move was to bring the hand above the head, to make glue fingertips if scrinatura hair had suffered some disturbance, in the violent shock of the whole person.

– Mario!… it's chi was? – asked Clarenza hesitating and looking down.

– One of my fellow college! the friend of the heart.

– Infamous! so all the friends of the heart!

– It was this summer in Genoa. The doctors had ordered sea-bathing. On the same day that I met him he came to the post office. He was very pale and mal'andato health. You're just? I asked him. – Yes. – and where do you live? I imagine that you will not be on the inn. – Rather they are precisely the inn. – In this state of health? You need someone who will assist. – Ubbie, I smiled sadly; necessary, I also die by myself; and without help. – Nonsense! you come to my house, I answered him in thunder imperative. I live at twenty paces from the sea. I have a very large area and very convenient, because there is always a room and a sitting area for friends. – Impossible. – I repeat that await you, and do not make unnecessary compliments. Yes. – no, no – yes – the fact is that forced him to accept. I introduced him to my wife, and after a few days became family. In the evening I accompanied the Club, and the two came to recover after midnight to go home together. They spent two months so: the wetting were finished; the friend had completely recovered… but he talked of leaving…

– And all this time you did not see anything? Do not you find you nothing?

– Clarenza my – Mario went on quivering with pleasure and stroking his long whiskers – Husbands are like those unfortunates of which the Gospel speaks: Have Eyes, and do not see; have ears, and do not want anything. A beautiful morning, Giorgio… (that was the name that miserable) receives a dispatch from home. It was necessary that would start immediately. In fact, he left, promising that he would return after a few days to resume his stuff and thank you for your kind hospitality that was given.

At this point, there were two minutes of rest and recollection, then the count continued:

– I will not tell you by what strange combination, during that brief absence, a letter from George, that was destined for the Emilia, unfortunately happen in my hands. You really guilty lovers are like thieves: which, after so much talent and so many precautions after, sooner or later end up making some very foolish, which serves to scuoprirli and put them in the hands of justice.

– And that letter?.. – asked Clarenza with an eager curiosity.

– From that point I was able to understand that the false friend… that lay in wait for Judah on my honor!… You know my impetuous nature, violent, subitaneo. Without putting time in half, I introduced myself to my wife, like a wounded tiger. Emilia protested his innocence: pianse: pregò – and as a word pulls another, so it happened a painful scene, the result of which my wife returned to her mother, shouting and swearing that he would never put my foot in my house… Partita Emilia, I found myself alone! – just like a dog. Resolute, other parte, for my dignity, not to make any note of apology and submission, I set up my suitcase, and until last night, here I am, in a country where I have spent the best years of my youth; where you can say that they are known by all, and where everyone loves me.

– Povero Mario! It's di?..

– I have not heard anything, I do not want to know anything. But tell me, Clarenza, if you can find a man more evil than?!… so basely betray the hospitality of his. George is a monster.

– George is a man, like everyone else. I do not really apologize for his conduct! God forbid! But George is not an exception to the rule. My friend – continued Clarenza, tapping lightly with grace and her beautiful little hand on the arm of Count – keep that in mind: allowed certain given circumstances, all men resemble each other.

– Not, Clarenza, no – replicò Mario, and almost angry with accent vibrato. – I, for example, I've been a big scapato: I, to speak the words of my father, I've done all sorts of!… but, vivaddio, I feel that I would not be capable of this as an unworthy!… But it's my fault, all mine… and now it's up to me to make penance.

– True, the fault is yours; but let, me tell you: a little 'guilt has it even Emilia.

– Am I, I, I conducted Giorgio home! Thus all my carelessness is.

– But a prudent wife – added Clarenza, thinning the item with much grace and unplugging the words, from each other – but a prudent wife was supposed to remedy the imprudence of her husband. Tocco all'Emilia, so excuse me if I speak, to draw your attention to the little convenience to put a young man house… if if only out of respect for the world!

– We do not talk more, – Mario interrupted, standing up and giving himself the overall look in the mirror, hanging above the fireplace. He continued with an accent of bitterness infinite.

– If I told you that this disaster did off for maid always the smile of my life.

– Fortunately it was not a disaster irreparable! Meno male, that ye are wise in time.

– If I told you that the abominable conduct of Giorgio me sick world… put me in mistrust with the whole of society!… If I told you – (and here the voice of Mario began to tremble) – that every time I find myself alone… assail me sad thoughts…and finish… I'm ashamed to say… yearn with suicide.

– Mario! – cried Clarenza, Afraid – look good that I do not hear more about your bad mouth this word!… How long are you going to keep you here?..

– I do not know it myself: around the world as a fool.

– Do you want to listen to me?

– Willingly.

– Promettetelo.

– I promise.

– In our house, we have a small area that opens onto the garden. It is the district intended for my brother Charles, when he returns from Berlin, where to finish his studies…

– Thank you – said Mario, interrompendola – but it is impossible, absolutely impossible.

– You need entertainment, distraction ...

– While too!

– Oh, above all, you need not remain ever – solo!… Loneliness is always sad thoughts of Councillor… and especially for you, for you that you have a character so sensitive, so nervous! –

– Do not be afraid, Clarenza – said Mario, with a smile on his lips, Gaining and hand her pretty interlocutor.

– I'm not afraid, I: but if it happened some nonsense, been thinking all along remorse, that would be for all of us?…

– Talk with at least before Federigo.

– There is Federigo taking; to your rule, in this house we are husband and wife. I Contenta, everyone happy.

– Women really rare!… And to say that such a treasure of grace and spirit could be my!… Do you remember, Clarenza, in those days famous?…

– I do not remember anything! – replicate with other disinvoltura.

– Really?… How can you remember even that famous dance party, in my aunt's house?…

– I repeat that I do not remember anything: nothing at all. I remember only of a proverb, who says: "Water under the bridge does not grind more».

– Ah! Clarenza! The proverbs are sometimes cruel!…

– They will be cruel – he added, laughing Clarenza, – but they are very comfortable to truncate the dreary speeches and inconclusive.

Mario, that at that moment he had forgotten his marital disaster (is not granted to everyone to have an excellent memory!), she bit her lower lip slightly; then, reattaching the conversation, continued:

– E Federigo sta bene?

– Like a fish in water – answered Clarenza, to let him know that he had read the Rogues Schiller.

– And your fur trade still thrives?

– I warn you, Mario – Clarenza observed with the accent of a cold person humiliated in the most vivid of his self-love – which is now more than a year that Frederick has withdrawn from the market at all. Abandoned mercatura to devote himself entirely to political life!

– Come! – replied the Count, giving into laughter. – You left the skins Policy? A bad barter, mia way; there avvedrete budget!

– Patience! On the other hand, we have so much, and perhaps something more, to be able to live comfortably. The proof is that Federigo, not having children, he founded his own expense a educatorio for poor girls of the town.

– It's something that does him honor.

– This you say so, and they say it all: but the Ministry is continuing to the Indian. Do you believe that these gentlemen have been wanted to remember once my husband?…

– For other – Mario added, endeavoring to give to his voice the color of a gentle rebuke – if the rumors are true, I hear that Frederick is one of the ringleaders of the party of malcontents…

– We are just, my friend – replied Clarenza lively mind – as you want it my husband both governmental, if it is not even a knight?

Mario opened his mouth to yawn half, just to hide the gleam of a naughty giggle, that had popped, without realizing it, on his lips; then resumed:

– Ditemi thing un'altra: Frederick and always keeps the same habits?

– What habits?

– I mean – the other went on joking – always the same hat at the door of Calabria, the usual shirt unbuttoned almost always neck, the usual silk tie in colors?…

– To tell the truth – answered Clarenza, annoyed and mortified – are all things that I never did care. Rest – continued with ironic voice and standing up – not all men have by nature the gift of being beautiful and elegant, as the Count Mario!…

– I beg your pardon: I have not understood the point of offending, nor to make comparisons!…

– It then, because you care so much of my husband's toilet?..

– Because?.. Ah!… I wonder why?.. Because, Clarenza my, the more we look, the more I am persuaded that you would have had to be born lucky times to Louis XIV! Your hand was worthy of the Knights of the most brilliant court of the monarch.

– Mind, Mario! if you begin to canzonarmi, I leave here on two feet and I'm going – said Clarenza, sitting down again.

– Another curiosity. And your sister? I have not yet said anything of that dear little devil of Norina.

– He's in the house with us.

– He is married again?

– Not.

– It seems impossible: So young and so pretty!

– I will tell you: My sister is the good girl of this world: ma qui sta male slightly.

The Clarenza, uttering quest'avverbio place, touched his forefinger of the hand in the middle of the forehead. Then he continued:

– If the judgment did faiths from birth, The Norina would just ten years. Figuratevi, for a dirvene, which these days has sent back a magnificent party. Do you know, per caso, Mr. Valerio?

– If I know him! We're old friends. A talented young man and he can do very well their business.

– Valerio is precisely the person, Federigo which sold all its commercial traffic.

– And Norina rejected him?

– Rejected really, no; but already has the same: it disgusted… wearied.

– And because we know?

– I know only too. This is because a child. A can, old friend of the family, I can also do with them the confidence.

In saying these last words, Clarenza stood: and with light step she went to put his eye to the crack of a door ajar, that remained from the opposite wall, in the face of the fireplace.

– Excuse my curiosity – said the count, he did not understand anything in this piece of pantomime – and all this circumspection, because?.. But it would be the case for a state secret?…

– I have my reasons – answered Clarenza, back to the fireplace; – you should know that Norina often likes to stay behind to hear the doors.

– No, ma'am, No, ma'am! – cried a voice clear and ringing like a bell – The Norina has not ever stay amused to hear behind the doors. Here is why, happened to me once… once… my lady sister has not done more over!

La Norina, that had already entered the room suddenly, looked at his sister in a way tragic-comic, as if to say: cute! There rivedremmo-to-face.

Then, and all smiling countenance changed shewn, he turned his hand to the Count and stendendogli:

– Good Morning – said – signor Mario. Hello and good came!

– He spoke precisely of you.

– I figured the ero.

– I told, that's right, a Mario, the mistake you've made – added Clarenza.

– Blunder?.. which inappropriately?

– What to check out disgusted Mr. Valerio.

– For goodness sake ... – FECE the Norina, with the accent of the person whining bored – for charity ...: we no longer talk to him. It is now a reason old. I came to boredom as the pyre of the Troubadour.

– Hai torto!

– Patience! so much the worse for me: if if only the name of Valerio! It seemed to me always a name to comedy.

– Let's put aside the giuccherie: Valerio is a smart shopkeeper, that in a few years will be a nice gentleman…

– But always gloomy, always disliked, always annoying. In conclusion, I feel great, that if you marry him, I would do two unfortunates!… – Norina the disse, doing with his mouth grimaced curious, as if he had spoken of cod liver oil is not purified.

Clarenza looked into the face of his sister; then added with emphasis ironic and stunted:

– Yes!… Marry that other!…

– Ah! therefore, there is another? – asked the Count, thrusting both hands into the pockets of the petticoat and putting himself in the middle of the two young women.

– I know nothing! – replied Clarenza.

– Here is the explanation of the story – she added frankly Norina. – You have to know that the lady Clarenza has put into his head that I still have some hope on the Marquis of Santa Teodora.

– This is the tale: I tell you the moral – replied Clarenza. – You must know that the Marquis of Santa Teodora, after he had for some time in our house very often, began one day to scatter his visits… and then ended as it had to end.. namely, does not come with the most!

– A good account, he left without saying goodbye: therefore might return.

– Yes, wait patiently.

– I do not know this point Santa Teodora: is a handsome young man? – asked the Count.

– You Marquis! behold all its beauty!… – said Clarenza: Mario and approached them to, she whispered softly:

– For the itch for a title, The Norina would be able to commit any folly.

– Do you want to know, Mario? – Norina the disse, pulling out a small wallet in a portrait photo.

– Let's see it – replied the Count: and picked up the portrait, to observe. At that moment, The Norina quickly whispered in the ears:

– See! Se domani, unfortunately, I became Marquise, the Clarenza would be able to tear out my eyes. I am curious as certain weaknesses! because it happened to her a furrier, so would claim that all women should marry shopkeepers skins!…

– Therefore, Mario?.. – interrupted Clarenza, who had guessed the topic of that chatter, muttered under his breath.

– You are right – said the count, going to take his hat, that he had placed on a chair. – Because you want it, I'll go get my suitcase.

– About, Norina; I have to give welcome news: this gentleman – (Mario nodded and Clarenza) becomes for a few days in our house guest.

– Lo so! – replied carelessly Norina.

– Who told you? – he asked brightly Clarenza.

– It was a case – Replication Norina, begging for an excuse. – Just crossed the green living room, quand'ho heard that you said…

– I understand, I understand: the usual case!… Rest, the poor Mario is malatissimo of nerves… and recreation needs. So it's up to us to seek all means to not give him time to remember his bad mood. In the evening we'll do a little 'music: sometimes a little 'dance: and soon the time will recover, anderemo to spend a day at our villa Belmonte…

– Towards Norin! – Mario said in passing, giving themselves a look of complacency in the mirror – I fall on one of those misfortunes!…

– While too!… – he added carelessly the Norina.

– And as you have known how to?

– Maybe it was the usual combination, the usual case!… – interrupted Clarenza, laughing and looking at her sister.

– The forces I have so abandoned! – continued the count, with difficulty getting up from the chair where she was lying more than sitting, – forces so I have abandoned, I feel great that I am going to meet a large disease.

– Ubbie! exaggerations! – Norina the disse. – If all the sorrows marital necessarily bring with it a disease, at this time the world would be a hospital…

– What a terrible disappointment! a friend, capita?.. a friend, Cheating…

– Go, Mario, go get your stuff.

– You are right, Clarenza!… Compatitemi if I repeat myself too often… and that as a reminder that it is a work of mercy to bear wrongs! A little fra.

The count went.

– Poor devil! yet it hurts! – Clarenza said in a tone of true compassion.

– I say, instead, that's fine!… When a man has a wife and young pretty, as is Emilia, before setting off home a dangerous friend, should think twenty times, and besides do nothing.

– There veh! In this case, in my view, the more guilty is Emilia. It was up to her to protest.

– Poor child! Chi lo sa! perhaps did not foresee anything wrong… perhaps it was believed safe of any danger…

– Eh! mia way – Clarenza replied shaking his head slightly – all we believe safe!… And the world? do not account for nothing? the world that is so tatting, so gossipy, so mettibocca?..

The Norina looked at her face in her sister: and said suddenly in a great laugh, showing thirty-two teeth of dazzling whiteness…

– Now, what are you laughing? – asked Clarenza impermalita.

– I laugh at you!

– Imbeci…!

Clarenza recovered in time, and did not finish the rude word.

– You who criticize both the poor judgment of Emilia – continue Norina – Can you tell me, then, because you have succumbed to the Mario quartierino our brother?

– That speech is Codest?.. perhaps you would like to compare me coll'Emilia? Emilia will be a good woman… and a talented woman… but at bottom, is a woman as there are many. As poi to me! (and here he raised his voice) – I can tell you, mia signora expensive, I feel really safe and secure…

– All we feel safe!… – soggiunse other, with fine banter! but then, there is not perhaps the world? mondaccio that it is so deft language?…

– The world needs to know who pigliarsela, and those who must comply with; the world knows that there are some wives who do not admit even suspect. For your information I am like Caesar's wife.

– Di Cesare?..

– Di Cesare, Roman.

– Huh!… – FECE the Norina, which was weak in Roman history! maybe I will have known this Caesar, but now I do not remember!…

At that moment he entered the room the husband of Clarenza. Frederick was a man of about forty: not stylish, but clean: kicking, smooth and colorful, as a rose apple: one of those countenances commonplace that, when you see the first time, seems to have them met many times and always known.

– Finally!… – said coming into the room and andandosi to throw in one piece on the armchair, that was in front of the fireplace.

– What did you do?.. – asked Clarenza, without a trace of curiosity, quasiché knew by heart the answer.

– I'm sick… I'm tired, exhausted. From this morning onwards I have not had a moment to breath. Cara mia – continued, passing and ripassandosi white handkerchief from the beginning of the forehead up to four fingers behind his head, over a strip of skull shiny and clean, almost like ivory – mia way! the popularity, I do not deny, has its pleasures and its great satisfaction, but unfortunately it is also sown in trouble and sorrow. If I had a son, I would say the modest contented obscurity, and not be like your father! When a man has done so much of becoming necessary to his country, addio pace, bye peace, farewell welfare. For him there is no longer good, neither day, nor night.

– And now to where you come from? – asked Clarenza.

– I go out at this time by the Election Committee. Finally, God willing, we found our candidate.

– It would?

– The Marquis Sorbelli..

– I thought something better – FECE the Norina, twisting a bit 'mouth – Marquis has not gone for ever eagle.

– It will not be an eagle – filming Federigo – but, however, is a man of character: in one piece. I never heard speak well of any Ministry!

– Speaks well? – churches Clarenza.

– Not – replied the husband with the seriousness of man which they will – no: speaks pretty bad: but reads well: and this is a great requirement for a speaker. I want to make him a party…

– You will know that in a few days we will have here His Excellency!… – said Clarenza, supporting the voice of the latter words with irony.

– Lo so, lo so! I saw it in the papers.

– I imagine that will be here for the election?

– It is well understood. A bit 'for the election, and a bit' for arrogance. 'm Delighted to ritornar Ministers, in the country where we were born, and where for many years we have been men, like everyone else.

– About the Ministers – interrupted his wife, offhandedly – You know who we have to host at this time?

– Who?

– The granddaughter of His Excellency.

– Mario?

– He himself.

– I knew that Mario was here – continued Federigo – but I did not know that he was staying in our house.

– I sold the district Carlo: ho fatto male?

– You have done very well; are political opponent of the Minister: but I love this one. Povero Mario!… these days has been home to a beautiful storm.

– How do you know?

– I received a long letter from the mother of Emilia.

– The stop as, was a serious matter – said Clarenza.

– Would be in!… – replied Federigo – but could BECOME very serious. It appears from the documents that for now it was just one of chiassata… a crush…

– Then it is trivial! – rejoined Norina, making some lame bocce garbo, eats up volesse dire: «non c’è sugo!».

– Un'inezia? – Replica vivacemente Federigo – adagio with a little trifle!… You have to persuade, mia way, che fra Platonic love the e amare… without Plato, there is just the distance that divides the cigar ash.

– It seems impossible – observed Clarenza, keeping his eyes fixed on the ground and enchanted. – I never would have believed!… And the mother of Emilia what he wrote?

– I wrote a mountain of things… She writes, giuccheria that this could very well be darkened between the domestic walls… but that blessed son of Mario, believed to protect one's honor, I wanted to do to force a scene from the theater during the day… She writes that Emilia is desperate, that does nothing but cry day and night… and ends at the bottom with advised me to see it to find your way to put together these two wretches.

– Pensaci bene, first! – said Clarenza, supporting the voice of this warning.

– What?

– Do not load wood green. If I were you I laverei hands.

– No really: I want to try it. If I can not, patience; I take into account the goodwill. It is seen Valerio?

– Valerio? Che deve upcoming? – asked Norina

– So I promised! I have to give him these cards… – and Federigo arose from his pocket a bundle of papers and went to place them on the mantel: then, turning to the young sister, who stared, continued smiling:

– Got, Norina, that just now, making house, came to me to head a curious idea?..

– Un’idea? Let's hear it.

– If I tried I…

– Male! male… – interrupted the other.

– Let me finish, that God bless you; I if I tried – we understand well at all my own risk – of…reactivate the good relations, as we say other politicians.

– Lost time, Federigo! I told you a thousand times; and today I repeat: I do not want to remarry.

– Are you sure?

– Very sure.

– Norina! you make a blunder.

– Patience! Maritandomi, I would do two: one on my own, and another on behalf of the unfortunate…

– But the reason for your obstinacy?.. – asked Frederick, almost warms.

– I'll tell you the – added Clarenza, to stand between her husband and sister.

– We feel a little famous indovinatrice! – he cried with a capricious irony Norina. – Too bad you do not even the moon and you do not sell the numbers for the lotto!…

Clarenza, laughing at her sister's tantrum, leaned toward the ear of Federigo, whispering loud enough, to be understood:

– All breath thrown away: cognatina your lady always has some hope!…

– Hope that?.. Ah! now I understand! – these Federigo, in place to recollect something – but, if I'm not mistaken, now that is a hope failed.

– Just a moment – interruppe the Norina, facendosi serious: – I declare that I have no hope: ma casomai the avessi, I do not see why you should call a failed hope.

– Dunque not null sai?..

– Is there something new?

– I'm sorry to have to tell you that the Marquis of Saint Theodora, up from yesterday, is officially boyfriend of the daughter of the American consul.

– Do you know for sure?

– Most certain of. He told me an hour ago, Stock Exchange, the secretary of the Consulate.

There were two minutes of profound silence. Poi the Norina, raising his head, domandò:

– It is the beautiful bride?

– Bella no – replicò Federigo – but a model of virtue and talent. Fifty thousand francs a year.

The Clarenza that, seeing his sister mortified and confused he could not conceal a giggle consolation, spread to the whole face, said interrupting:

– I'm going to get the key in the neighborhood of Charles. I want to see for myself if everything is on.

She left the room.

Left alone – Norina and the Frederick – the latter asked his young sister in law, that she was almost banned:.

– What are you thinking?

– I think of that poor wretch.

– A chi?

– At the consul's daughter… I do not think he could capitar worse. The Marquis of Saint Theodora goes to a young man of spirit, but in the end is nothing more than an idiot. I figured if I know him well!…

– These are all things, that I have spoken to you before you. And yet… I bet you would have preferred to Valerio…

– I beg your pardon: between character and character there is no comparison. Valerio is a man: and that one is a boy.

– This is called reasoning! Ah! Norina! Too bad you are not going to rimaritarti!…

– Who said?

– Io no.

– Nemmen’io.

– You can see, I will not have understood! – these Federigo, in a tone of false mortification.

– Or maybe I, I explained that I will be hurt. In conclusion, I wanted to say that I do not intend to marry again so long as I do not find a person who suits me.

– To tell the truth: I would like a little 'know why that poor Valerio which is so obnoxious?

– I have never said that I disliked… I only say, I do not like. It's too serious, too supported…

– But an excellent person.

– There's no denying: but susceptible, touchy, delicate worse than a woman!…

– And yet – continued Federigo, approaching and insisting with some interest – and yet, you see, although you have it treated rather badly, I am completely convinced that you would take a half-word, because… they could resume negotiations, as we say other politicians.

– With a superbiosaccio one made?… It seems to me a bit 'difficult.

– A good account, Valerio was dead in love with you… e l'amore, when it was the good one, is how diseases of the chest, has long convalescence. Add it to me then that Valerio of gratitude… deference ... In short, to do away, I bet you would have settled everything.

– Research, Federigo. I, instead, I have a great fear that you'd made mock.

– Are you happy that I give it a try?

– Master! Tested as well.

– Ma se, per caso, arrival to convert, I hope I do not make the figure of Pulcinella.

– Devil May! I am not not a child!

In the meantime,, Francis showed up at the door and announced: – Mr. Valerio.

– The time! – these Federigo.

– I run! – soggiunse other, subheading.

– It will be a victory, or a fiasco? What your heart tells you?

– How does the heart in these childish?.. – briskly replied the Norina, and disappeared.

Valerio enters in room. He was a young man between thirty and thirty-five: height of the mizzen: nor beautiful, né brutto. He spoke slowly, laughed a little, always walked the same step, and he wore a black one year. These four great qualities had earned him the reputation of an honest shopkeeper, the post of municipal councilor and the rank of captain in the city guard.

– Ecco, Valerio, our little ready-contract signed – these Federigo, handing him the book that had laid, a quarter of an hour before, on fire.

– It was fine? – He asked the other.

– Admirably.

– Now, Mr. Frederick, I just have to thank you for the truth that you made me.

– Of which?

– By having agreed to stay for a very small part interested in my marketing firm.

– It is well understood, which it is a secret between the two of us. I do not want to appear in anything, nor meddle nothing.

– To me, I just know that you are my partner. Here is the great word, la quale, though if only, I think that should bring me good luck.

– Today we are not members of that trade! – added Federigo, Gaining arm friend. – And to think that we could be something more!… fors’anche parenti!…

– The fault was not mine.

– Do not get confused. There was a little 'guilt by both parties. But nothing serious: the great nothing. So much so that I have always believed – and I believe even today – that with a little 'good will could restore the entente cordiale, as we say other politicians.

– Impossible! Absolutely impossible!…

– And because?

– Let's talk a clear, Mr. Frederick. I am no longer a boy. I am a Man. My personal dignity does not allow me to make similar figures. Not, no: when we took a resolution – he must be the one. Otherwise, what it should mean the world to me?

– Blessed this world! Let me tell you: and besides will eventually dry out the throat.

– I can not!

– But why?..

– Because?.. There are certain things that they feel, and you can not find fault with the words. These regrets, these tunes are forgivable in people read, in men of little consequence. As for me, I confess the true, it seems to me of becoming ridiculous; seems to me to play the part of Don Fulgencio negl'Innammorati Goldoni.

– That stubborn!

– You are right: a thousand reasons. Unfortunately my character is one of those that break, but do not bend. Rather than suffer: I gnaw inside of me; but a weakness, a prank, more!

– I'm sorry. Just sorry!

– I'm sorry too: but, I repeat, the fault is not mine: is all the fault of Mrs. Norina…

– And by what right Mr. Valerio is allowed to judge my actions? – asked the Norina, suddenly entering the room.

– I beg your pardon: I said… – balbettò Valerio, turning all confused.

– Maybe she is my boyfriend?

– No really.

– My tutor?

– Not a chance.

– My spiritual director?

– God forbid!

– So I would like a little 'know by what right Mr. Valerio takes care of me so much?

– Ecco… I'll tell you… First of all you should know that Mr. Frederick at this time, was insisting to persuade…

– I know everything.

– All – Valerio said, marveled. – How can?.

– Again, I know everything…

– But it is a conversation confidenzialissima, made now, which, between the two of us, to-face…

– Never mind: for a certain combination I understood everything.

– The usual combination… to be heard – borbottò from the denti Federigo, winking comically his young sister.

– Before anything else – went on to say the same tone of voice Norina neck and the same rate of speech – I must observe that Frederick has no right to pry my business; and that has hurt, rather badly…

– I just have the symphony: the rest of the work I can well imagine! – interrupted Federigo; and seized the pretext, is the svignò.

– There is no doubt. My brother in law has done very badly to insist so warmly on this… scioccheria. God knows what you'll figuratively!…

– I?..

– What you'll put your head! Maybe in your infinite vanity, you will believe that I struggessi own passion!…

And Norina accompanied these last words with a laugh almost impertinent.

– We Pare! – replied modestly Valerio.

– Maybe you'll be imagined that I could not live without you.

– You're welcome, Ms. Norina…

– That, perduto voi, for me there was no more hope of finding a husband.

– Tutt’altro, tutt’altro.

– Well, ricredetevi. Have you cheated Wholesale. Oh – (Norina and here the emphasis changed and lowered his voice slightly) – can, I agree fully, you are a respectable person: shopkeeper honored…

– Too good.

– Municipal councilor…

– Thank you.

– National Guard captain. In short, you are a fine young man for a thousand titles: but perhaps you believe to be the only?

– I never thought.

– You are worth much, there is no doubt: maybe not but believe that that are brought hither many others that are as good as you?..

– Who doubts it?

– We are outspoken, one time! – said Norina, sitting up, and hinting at Valerio to sit. – We tell the thing, come sta; you have come into my house: I have done a little 'court, as do all: until one fine day, I do not know why, you ended up asking my hand.

– And I had your full consent – immediately said Valerio.

– Not so fast – Replication Norina. – As for this full consent, adagio. There really said neither yes, né no. If you remember well, pigliammo time to reflect and study each other's character.

– I do not think that would go precisely so.

– I tell you that he went so.

– It will be as you say – Valerio added, bowing her head in an act of submission forced – I'm sorry, that unfortunately in certain cases, you can not even see the Minutes.

– In the meantime, – continue Norina, crossing one leg over the, and letting out of the bottom of the dress the tip of an elegant golden boots of morocco. – In the meantime,, It was introduced into our house the Marquis of Santa Teodora… a young educated… different…

– Rather, most distinguished.

– It was my duty to show gentle with him, as with all other.

– maybe…

– Perhaps what?

– Maybe a little 'too kind!…

– Too much?.. I'm never realized.

– I realized I!

– In fact, I pigliaste shadow… and it started now to make angry… the proud, the bad…

– Towards Norin, it was a matter of feeling.

– But that sentiment? it was a matter of vanity, all vanity. There are men who leave them to do, women would claim the perpetual adoration.

– I'm not from these men! – Valerio said with pride.

– Neither myself of those women! – He replied the other. – The fact is that your demeanor, supported and almost contemptuous, He began to impose myself a certain coldness…

– Norina! let's call it coolness.

– My friend, if you go in search of love to great effect, passion plays, sentimentality in the moonlight, I am not the woman for you. I love the restraint and composure, throughout, Also love!

– Mi stir ingannato.

– The fact, mi pare, speaks clearly for itself: after a few weeks, the Marquis of St. Theodora, perhaps too much kindness for the sake of my, about him! began to thin out the visits and ended up completely coll'allontanarsi. Then today, as you may know, is betrothed to the daughter of the American consul.

– But why, Norina, then there deigned to take away from my deception? show me my mistake? the absence of 'my suspicions? the strangeness of my fixation?

– I? God forbid. Rather death, that go down to the humiliation to justify my conduct. I will not hide, Valerio: your doubts… your suspicions, mi hanno offeso… I have hurt! very bad. Ma non importa. You will never hear a lament on my lips, not a word of reproach. Now that everything is over between us – all! – I can speak freely… and I thank God. This outburst, celebrities, I take away from the heart oppression painful!…

– Norina, and why did you say that everything is over between us?

– Curious question!

– And I could not ridomandare your affection and your hand?

– Valerio! I advise you not to do it. A Man, come voi, a man of your character, certain feelings do not agree. These things are excusable just eighteen years old.

– I do not understand – insists Valerius, mortified. – So I will not be master to acknowledge that I was wrong? I was wrong?

– Absolute right! But the world!… what will the world say?…

– The world will say what he wants. At the end of the day, I'm not a slave to the chatter and gossip of the idle.

– Think about it, Valerio. There is the case that there paragonino wits to Don Fulgencio Goldoni.

– I will laugh with compassion.

– Come! can, as measured, so fearful of cicaleggi and chronicles of the slanderers, Today I come out to make the independent?.. the man who laughs?.. Tell me Valerio: If you do not want to play fetch me?

– Norina! – Valerio said in a supplicating, Gaining the gracious hand of his interlocutor, and squeezing it with passion.

– I do not believe. Let.

– Listen!…

– I do not want to hear anything.

– Norina! a word… one word… vi supplico…I beseech… – and in saying so happened to Valerio what usually happens to the lovers on the scene: was found, without realizing it, almost to his knees in front of his beautiful.

At this point he entered the room Clarenza. Valerius stood up with the velocity of a steel spring.

– Sorry, friend – said Clarenza, laughing – I'm sorry to have bothered. Stay well in knee: do not do compliments. Good news, in what seems?

– Yes – answered Norina. – Peace is signed: but I have not yet forgiven the great wrong that made me…

– We do not talk more – interrupted Valerio. – I will be sure to let me forgive.

– And so?.. – asked Frederick, pausing at the door.

– Come forward. Everything is arranged. You have to think again on this wedding gift – said Clarenza, showing much more cheerful sister.

– Good! so I like! – added Federigo, putting himself between the two boyfriends. – Already I had always said: between those two guys there must be a misunderstanding, one malinteso…

– And in fact it was a misunderstanding – these Valerio. – About – replied the husband of Clarenza – sorry to jump in a tangent: but here there is no time to lose. we must begin to address these elections.

– As for me, are promptly. But…

– But that?

– I must tell you frankly? I think that our candidate has very little sympathy, here in the country.

– Them to him shall we.

– The Marquis is a gentleman Sorbelli: but we must agree that she's wearing a large tare.

– Which one?

– The wife. The Marquise is nasty to everyone.

– He's a bit 'to see, from here forward, that a candidate must also have a nice wife, if he wants to be elected!…

– I do not say this.

– The marchesa, I agree too, is a bit 'superb, a little 'professorial, but the rest is a woman of great merit… and worth much more than her husband. Rather, look here in a few minutes.

– What does he want from you? – asked Clarenza.

– Does that make me feel the election manifesto of her husband… wants to know if we find anything to complain. Una bella garbatezza, not true? The spectacle of this aristocracy, that is knocking on the doors of the bourgeoisie, looking for advice, I am hopeful of the future of the country.

– I hear that the MP government has made many proselytes. In a few days will also have the reinforcement of the minister in person – said Clarenza.

– What is this Mr. Minister – replicò Federigo – I look forward to standing with both feet. I can not wait to measure myself with him.

– Really – added Clarenza, – that the gentlemen of the Ministry does not have the right to have you as a friend! We have treated, as the janitor of the town hall.

– How does the treating me in one way rather than another? Here there is no question in person; is a matter of principles, mia way: principles go, and people…

– Or – added Clarenza – the principles remain, and people…

– I beg your pardon! – Grido Federigo. – They are the people who remain…

– I do not want to contradict – modestly remarked his wife – but I heard nothing more: people spend, and the principles remain.

– Have you heard speak ill; I hurt a lot because, instead, I have always seen that the principles and pass people remain. Anyway, that is Mr. Minister, and I shall be there.

– Mr. Mario – disse Bettina, looking out on the middle door.

– Caro Federigo; I am your host – said Mario, stendendogli hand.

– It's a gift that I improvised Clarenza – The other replica, embracing and kissing.

Mario, having seen Valerio and Norina talking to each other, in very close conversation, turned around smiling at Clarenza, it asked in a low voice:

– Mistake, or I was told that between those two gentlemen?…

– Verissimo – answered Clarenza – but today the wind suddenly changed…

– I pity the Norina! – Mario added; – is a woman, and the woman is synonymous with weakness; but it makes me wonder about him! – (and nodded Valerio).

– Caro mio – replied the wife of Frederick – if you only knew how funny sometimes serious men!

– I had at this time a letter from your mother-in-law – sussurrò Federigo, slowly approaching the ear of the Count.

– I imagine that what you have written! What do you say huh? A woman who loved and for which I would put both hands into the fire.

– Things of this world, my friend! The proverb says: who does not want infarinarsi, non Vada to mulino.

– And that wicked?..

– Bear in mind, Mario! are just friends, from which one must guard… But we are just: why a man of spirit, which has a pretty little woman for wife, can think of to get home?..

– Lo so! Lo so!

– Mario, was coarse. To me, I tell the truth, I would not have happened DiCerto. It takes eye, understand, eye! I have more to tell you that I've got the task to fix everything and reconcile.

– For charity, do not talk about reconciliation. I feel the blood that goes to the head.

– Enough, discorreremo it at the appropriate time.

– Turn around in here – said suddenly Clarenza, Gaining her husband's arm, and glancing at him from head to foot.

– What's new? – asked Frederick.

– Nothing new – rispose other. – Rather, the usuals: the usual unbuttoned shirt, the usual tie, Mass without grace or grace!… It seems impossible that you do not have to have a little 'self-esteem… He says well a certain person, – (Clarenza and looked cursorily Mario) -do not know who you are, one might mistake you for a factor out of the country, or for a dealer oil.

– Look at how many cases, this morning! Yet I was always so.

– You have always done evil!

– You had told me before.

– I'll tell you now just. If you do not want to have any respect for you, you have at least a little for your wife… mi pare!…

– I do not understand anything – Frederick said softly to Count. – It is the first time that Clarenza makes a scene similar.

– Women, caro mio, women: ie charades upright on two legs cute (when I am pretty): rebus difficult to explain, and that once explained, you can clearly see that these are not merely a formula of vanity, or operation of the infinitesimal calculus!

– Clarenza – added Federigo – is a great woman: but, but too, the vanity has always been his weak side. She would need to be born queen and to have married the king of the universe. Contrary to me. I, instead, I can have all the defects of the world; but the vanity I've never known.

– Really?..

– May! and I will try with the fact. I would like to see another who had been treated as I was treated I! You know what it cost me to Italy; Well, do you think that up there at the Ministry have given a sign of realizing that I am in the world of the living?..

– Lo so, is an injustice; and want there to be remedied. I wrote to my uncle on purpose… riserbandomi then mention it to voice, when it will be here.

– Let's be clear – these Federigo, changing tone of voice – if I made you this confidence inconclusive, I wish you could not believe…

– Ti pare.

– I did not ask anything! and I do not want anything! You know what clothes I always dress: I have not ever given no weight and no importance to pendants. I always have seemed toys for boys…

– And yet, if you just send him one… – said Mario, smiling.

– I would refer. Oh! I would refer, no doubt: is a matter of principle.

– When it's like, is useless at all that I send a letter..

– You had already written?

– Here it is: read it and pull down.

– To’! I wonder. I've never ripped other people's letters. Here is a letter, which will probably in limbo letters intended never to have no answer.

– Patience. And now tell me one thing. What time does the mail train passes through here?

– Alle tre precise.

– I'm half past two – said Mario, watching the clock. – For today, there is no more time to set it. Tomorrow I will set the.

– Yes, yes, – replicò Federigo – you can set it tomorrow, Doman another, quell'altro, within a week, mese a fra… So much is a letter of no urgency.

– Of absolutely no.

– For other… I'll note that if the letter really premises…

– But if I tell you that not pressed!

– I mean, that if the letter really premises, would have time to set it again today.

– Come?

– It would be enough to send her to the station. Would you like to send?..

– He does not account.

– Why do you want to compliment me?

– I do not do compliments. It is a letter to those who do not wait for response. I can set tomorrow, or when I'll remember – said Mario, doing the lazy.

– Give me a letter – insisté Federigo. – So if only, I raise you a thought.

– Let it go: there is no hurry.

– Give me a letter. Hey! Francesco! – And the servant appeared at the door.

– Immediately brings the letter to the post office station.

– And the stamp? – disse Francesco.

– Do not you see that it is addressed to the Minister? Get a car and hurry.

– And if I did not in time?

– Give me that, imbecile – these Federigo, snatching the letter out of hand – to let you do, Would you be able to lose even.

And the husband of Clarenza taken in haste his hat and his overcoat.

– Dove vai? – asked Mario.

– Leave it to me. In quest'ora, ero bell’e tornato. If you happen to arrive in the meantime the Marquise Sorbelli, that I expect, I am here in two minutes.

– Where did Federigo? – asked Mario to Clarenza.

– At the station. He wanted to take him to my letter to the Minister.

– Thank you Mario of your care… not so much for me… As for my husband. The man now he's made a fixation.

– Good man, that Federigo – said Mario, beginning a confidential interview and a low voice with Clarenza, while Norina and Valerio reasoned among themselves in the opposite corner of the room – great good man that Federigo!

– A pearl uomo! For our family it was something more than a father. In conclusion, it is he who thinks of everything, it is he who has made a gift to Norina, it is he who keeps Carlo studies.

– Excellent heart!… Too bad that the figure has a little 'vulgar… a bit 'ordinarietta… As ex-, Clarenza my, FRA's will is. You the fine and delicate camellia leaf, it, the stem of some inelegant succulent plant.

– It is now well – said Clarenza, sospirando.

– It seems impossible – continued the count – that a delicate hand and aristocratic, come your, wished to make a choice so… Curious.

– I warn you, Mario, that I have nothing to repent! – He replied the other, assuming a certain air of dignity.

– Here is a noble protest! protest, which is much honor to your character and your beautiful heart. But tell me a bit ', Clarenza, let's here in private and in confidence: if certain things could be redone twice?..

– It… is… is… Giving heed to whether, we would have to lose your bearings and to say a lot of scioccherie.

– Divine creature! And to think that Providence had put me before my eyes the only girl, that could have been the love and the happiness of my whole life… and I, imbecile!… two years have passed, and still do not know give me peace. You remember Clarenza, in those days famous?…

– I remember only too.

– And of that famous dance party?..

– Also that.

– Bad! and besides you have the heart to tell me that "water under the bridge does not grind more».

– Am I not tell you that, is the proverb.

– How many times have I thought of you!… how many times have I seen it 'my dreams!…

– E Emilia? – asked Clarenza, to give another turn to the conversation.

– For charity, I do not speak – said Mario.

– I hear that you're already dealing with a reconciliation.

– May, and carry! Between me and the woman there is an insurmountable barrier.

– I really believe?

– I'm sure.

– Poor woman! More reckless, that guilty. Credetelo, Mario, if I was I standing in the Emilia, your DiCerto Mr. George would not have found a home in my neighborhood available. Con me, no, a thousand times no! About the district – continued Clarenza, standing up – what do you think of the neighborhood that I intended?

– Un’oasi, a nido incantato.

– Your Window, the garden, is just two away from my windows; tantoché alzandomi, in the morning, I will give you a good morning.

– So I hope I could, the sera… while everyone is sleeping peacefully, wish you good night – said Mario, lowering his voice, and clutching the hand of Clarenza, with intention, as they say the comedians in their own dialect of the stage.

– That's it, – these Federigo, re-entering the room, all rowdy – two minutes of more, and the letter we had left in my pocket.

– Poco male – Mario added, continuing to make the indifferent.

– Very little! – replied the husband of Clarenza. – And the marquise is seen?

– Still no.

– It would be nice that I was missing. To tell the truth, this then legherei me the finger.

– The Marchesa Ortensia, – disse la Bettina, looking out the door.

– Ah! that's right, I wanted to say – replicò Federigo, satisfied. – And where did you get passed?

– In green living room.

– It is only?

– Not, is with Mr. Leonetto.

– It seemed impossible – remarked maliciously Norina. – Do you think that the Marquise may leave the house once without carrying the pageboy?

– With permission – these Federigo, adjusting her hair and dress, and coming out of the hall.

– Bell'originale that Leonetto – replied the Count – always the same debunked.

– Dove l'Avet panorama? – asked Clarenza.

– I met him last night at the Club.

– Do you know that he became director of the 'Journal of the Province "?

– He told me he. Leonetto is not an ark of science: but keeps the spirit young.

– To me, I found it always a beautiful caricature – Valerio added, – has the desire to do the nasty, spirit strong, the sworn enemy of marriage.

– Enemy of marriage – asked the Norina, laughing, – I, instead, I believe that if God did not take into his holy hands on head, runs at this time a great danger of becoming husband.

– Really? – they all cried with one voice.

– There are serious symptoms, very serious! – went on to say the sister of Clarenza. – I know, for example,, that all the hours that remain free, passes at the home of those two ladies (per a time, I will call such) who came to settle here for a month, about, and were recommended to him.

– I do not know the point – said Clarenza. – Sono belle?

– The daughter is not bad: The sera, especially, no bad figure. Blonde, blue eyes, un bel carnato: a girl, in short, you may like. If Leonetto happen a moment here, I promise to make it sing.

– Permission is granted! – these Leonetto, game with comic and confidential, arriving in room.

– Venite avanti, scapato – answered Norina – we sapute beautiful on your behalf. How are the loves?

– What love?

– Mind, do not make the stranger, I come to do the turkish in Italy…

– Indeed, I do not understand…

– How are the loves with that blonde person?…

– The Loves? Ah! I understand, Ms. Norina, you slander me.

– Tutt’altro.

– It might be supposed that a man, come me, can catch a passion for that poor girl?..

– I know her only by sight, but it seems to me a pretty girl.

– An eye of the sun – replied jokingly Leonetto.

– Imagine that among the many beauties, also to exchange an eye.

– It is not true! My eyes have been like beautiful.

– I spiego! the left eye of Mrs. Armanda…

– Ah! is called Armanda?..

– Temporarily!…

– Che lingua d’inferno!…

– I was saying that the eye of Mrs. Armanda is intermittent: exchange only when the weather is going to mutate.

– Own? – asked all giving a big laugh.

– I imagine that without looking at the thermometer, I know now that eye, if the next day, leaving the house, I'll need to take an umbrella.

Un'altra risata generale.

– Tant’è vero, I call it the eye-Réaumur!

Third laughter prolungatissima.

– You are a great canzonatore – Norina the disse. – But mind, friend, that I have seen fall de 'stronger than you.

– It may well be – replied the reporter, rocking on the person – but as for me believe it, too, that there are dangers: the devil tempting me lose the will and the soap. Then I'll tell you another thing: the Signora Armanda, physically speaking, point is not responding to my dream, to my ideal type of woman. I love the woman quickly as the palm tree: black eye; the countenance pale and suffering, hair blacks; and especially, lots of hair.

– It does not have a lot of hair, the Signora Armanda?

– Poor girl! Do you trentatré e mezzo: forty does not get it!

Another laugh, in coro.

– Moreover – rejoined Norina – we must agree that it has a nice incarnate.

– This is true! It paints with gusto.

– Do you know for sure that you paint?

– Mi of Di Temple.

– And yet – insisted the pretty widow – hard hard to believe. Anyway, I concur that it is painted very well.

– Like a painting by Titian – replicò Leonetto, with comic seriousness. – Then the remaining, is a very good and very good fgliuola.

– Bravissimo. Now that you've torn down piece by piece, begin to speak well.

– The truth, the truth!

– You make me rage!…

– But the panegyric is not finished yet. Armanda is educated, di belle ways, of education connpitissima. He speaks English and French perfectly. When he is at the piano, has the grace of Chopin, hand Fumagalli, the feeling of Dohler. Sing Schubert and things Gordigiani with an unparalleled grace. Byron knows it all by heart. Draw, ricama, riding a horse… in short, I say to you that the whole is one of those dear little women that I would gladly give to my wife's younger brother – if I had a brother.

– And you often see?

– Almost every day. His house is for me a foot-to-ground, a nice refuge from the hassles of policy…

– And from the hassle of the Marquise Sorbelli.

– For charity, How about plan, you will not feel. He has the ear unfortunately so delicious!

– Are you afraid, eh? – Norina the disse, laughing. – For other, I pity you: the marquise is not a woman… is a man!

– It is not even a man… – Leonetto replied softly – is a dragon. When the nature of those mustache, he knew what he was doing.

– If you sentisse, would be able to eat you!…

– Poor friend – Mario interrupted in a tone playful – there mancherebb'altro you will not find in the bad case of being swallowed alive!

– I do not hide – The other rispose – I would hate very much to do with Jonah in the whale body.

– About – said Clarenza – before they throw me warn you of mind, signor Leonetto, Today you are to dine with us. Accepted?

– With all the pleasure.

– It is a gift that I do to Count Mario.

– Getting the kind of courtesy, that lovable Clarenza – replied the count, bowing gallantly.

– Tomorrow night, then, we'll do a little 'music. Mind, Leonetto, do not miss, you know that you need to, indispensable. I present the first absolute content of our little family Philharmonic – said the wife of Frederick, volgendosi a Mario, and pointing to the journalist.

In this point, you heard a deep voice and sound.

– Here it is – these Leonetto, composing, how does the student when he hears the approach of the teacher. – I recommend! let me pleasure not to joke…

– We Pare. State tranquillo.

– The Marchesa Ortensia – these Federigo, presenting in a room matron of forty, vegeta., strong, colorful, as a cavalry officer returning from a maneuver on horseback in the parade ground.

– Accomodatevi, marchesa – said Clarenza, accennandole an armchair in the vicinity of the fireplace.

– I'm sorry, but I can not refrain – answered Sorbelli. – I greet you and run away immediately. I have to do a thousand bricciche: and before returning home, I also want to go to my friend the Marquise de Saint Theodora. I long to know precisely the true causes of this small scandal.

– Which scandal? – asked the Norina.

– Come! you know nothing?

– Nothing.

– Then, I will tell you. It went to air the wedding, already combined, between Rodolfo and the daughter of the American consul.

– Own? – asked Norina, with increasing interest.

– Give it to you for sure.

– And the reason?..

– I do not know well, ma suppergiù, me the figure. That guy must have some Rodolfo amoretto clandestine… qualche'impegno… some mysterious passioncella…

– To tell the truth, I expected..

– What?

– That this marriage does not end well go. We sometimes some curious presentiments!… – watched the Norina, barely concealing a lively complacency.

– The rest marchesa – these Federigo, making in the middle – in return for a marriage gone awry, I am pleased to notificarvene one, combined just an hour ago! – and the husband of the Clarenza nodded Norina and Valerio.

– Excuse, veh, Federigo – immediately said his young sister, offense had remained almost – I think you've ran a bit 'too. I would like to know how do you call it a marriage already combined?

– And it is perhaps? – asked Valerio, to which almost trembling voice.

– I beg your pardon – Replica Norina tranquillamente: – is a marriage, which probably will be combined, but for now that is not combined. Vi prego, marchesa, to notice this small difference. Ne convenite, Valerio?

– I agree with everything! – The other rispose; poi borbottò fra i denti: – I also agree that I am the first idiot universe.

– E voi, signor Leonetto? – asked Clarenza, just to digress the conversation. – When we do eat the confetti wedding?

– I husband? – replied the reporter, twirling his mustache and giving a loud laugh. – I husband? I think it will be a little 'difficult. For your rule, in this world there are two institutions, I have always been afraid: marriage and the cellular system! Every time I think of my poor husband is done naturally shed a furtive tear on their unhappy fate. And to say that America has become a gigantic war for the abolition of slavery of blacks, sentenced to the cultivation of sugar cane and cotton, and then on the old continent we have today many millions of white slaves, intended to cultivate wife, cultivation, believe in me, no less strenuous than that of sugar cane and cotton.

Everyone laughed to compliment.

– Your usual exaggerations – Norina the disse.

– They are not exaggerations; is a profession of sincere faith and fair. I have always loved my freedom, my complete independence.

– This is very true – said the marquise Ortensia.

– It's a good thing – continued Leonetto, inflamed increasingly – to feel free, like a swallow in the air: masters of themselves, of his own will, without depending on anybody, no one who can command!…

– Therefore, Leonetto, Venita restate the? – asked the marquise, interrompendolo. – Io I do not Vado.

– If you do not need me, I tratterrei for a cert'affare!… – replied the reporter with some 'hesitation.

– Fate pure! – Replication Sorbelli, standing up and giving him a dirty look…

Leonetto, who got the message immediately said:

– Namely, marchesa, see my permettete, I'll take you up on your cousin.

– Per me, I repeat, go ahead your convenience – replied the other with a voice of thunder ugualissimo and quiet. – I am not indifferent.

– Then, Leonetto – said Clarenza, – Recollect that we go to the table at five o'clock precise.

– I will be on time, as fate.

– Are you here for lunch, Leonetto? – asked the marquise, studied with phlegm, and looking into the eyes of journalist.

– I had the kind invitation a few moments ago… – The other rispose, giving himself the air of frank and uninhibited person.

– But today you can not! – insisted the Sorbelli with the same phlegm and with the usual tone of voice.

– I can not?.. – e Leonetto, sheepish, blew on the plush hat, to conceal his confusion.

– Surely, you can not!… even if you are not willing to have lunch in two houses, the same day. Think about it a bit 'better, and perhaps you will remember that my husband, until two days ago, has invited you to his house for today…

Leonetto was about to reply that he knew nothing: but look at the Marchesa was enough to call it their duty. In fact balbettò, fooling…

– Yes, it's true!… namely, will be fine: but you see that I'd forgotten… What do you want me to do? They are so abstract, that the lunches I pass by the mind, at any moment.

– Patience! – added the wife of Frederick, that he understood everything. – I do not want to deprive the Marchioness of a diner so pleasing. Sara un'altra back. Do me the favor, however, not to forget the chiassata tomorrow night. We look forward invariably, to sing along with our famous duet Italiana in Algeri.

– No Doubt, eccovi hand.

– Sorry if I put in your mouth speeches – said the Marchioness, stentando the word, and turning to the journalist, – but it seems to me that you will not be free tomorrow evening very late that. Recollect that you have agreed to accompany me to the dance of Kindergartens.

– I?..

– Oh, can! – ripeté other, giving him a look of intelligence, that translated into the language spoken, he should have said: imbecile, answer tone.

– Do not mi pareva…

– Poor Leonetto! We see that the policy you just did not lose the compass. I almost began to regret having procured the direction of the "Journal of the Province".

– It will be… as you say… – answered Leonetto, shrugging his shoulders -…but I swear upon my honor that I knew nothing… namely, that I'd quite forgotten!…

– Therefore? – asked Clarenza, bored of all that comedy.

– They dispiacentissimo – replied the reporter, that shame had become almost red, – but tomorrow night I can not… The Marquise assures me that I promised to take her… the dance of Kindergartens…and the fault is all mine, if I have forgotten…

– Ladies and Gentlemen! – the dissemina Sorbelli, congedandosi, then left the room, accompanied by Federigo and by Leonetto.

While the journalist reached out his hand to Norina, in the act of saying farewell, this whispered, smiling – It is a great fortune, my friend, to be free and independent, how are you! at least, we are never masters to do anything in our own way.

It's been a month, from the day when Mario was welcomed into the house of Frederick.

– Tonight is the night is done earlier than usual. What time is it? – Clarenza asked to Bettina who had kindled a light to moderator, in the middle of the table.

– The five play now – said the old woman.

– The Norina where?

– I believe, in her room.

– Are you sure?

– Mi of Di Temple.

– Senti, Bettina, do me a favor – rejoined the young mistress, lowering his voice with thunder and caressing. – Go Beyond, and with some excuse ascertained whether the Norina is right in the room.

As soon as she was alone Clarenza, began to himself this monologue:

– When is out of the house, or ora, I did the usual sign… So behind the frame there must be a letter – (and saying so, turned his eyes toward a picture, closed in a frame and attached in the wall of the middle) -…Already, of these letters do not want any more… is so long that I say… This is the last of some. Every time I mount on the couch to rummage around in the frame maladettissima, I get the febbre addosso… If if only, fear! With a frugolo house as Norina, there is to be discovered, without even realizing it! At least should rise early in the way, that blessed daughter!…

– It is in the room – disse la Bettina, subheading, back into the room on tiptoe.

– Enough for me… I want to ask you a joke. You can go.

E la Bettina uscì.

– And yet, neppur'ora seems to me to be safe for good – said Clarenza, looking here and there with so compared, – a little, be afraid of Norina: but a little to be said that it is also the conscience… the guilt of knowing that I am doing something… that is not nice. To tell the truth, I thought I was stronger… If I believed witches, I would doubt that I had been haunted! Luckily this is childish, things without consequence… And then do not do it for me… I do it for another, to give her a good lesson in that time womanizer Mario.

Meanwhile Clarenza, after giving one last look at all the doors, who put in room, had lowered the light to the point of leaving a glimmer fiochissimo, and it was uphill on the sofa.

With the rapidity of lightning, shoved a hand behind the picture, and took a paper that was hidden there: but, when he was about to descend, suddenly swung open the door to face.

– I bet it was you, I've sent the Bettina Room?.. – GRID la Norina, a voce Squillante, that looked like a bell.

– To’?.. – replied his sister, remained silent on the sofa and with his back turned to the wall.

– First of all, what do you do for air costassù? –

– Nothing… – soggiunse other, who could not find the words to respond. – wanted to see this up close Niobe.

– Brava! And to see it better have lowered the light.

– What you said of Bettina?…

– I said that I'd bet it was you that you sent me in the room.

– Well, I was the ..., I in person: and for this?.. – said Clarenza, down from the sofa and going to lift up the light.

– So I would like to know why that idiot gets to make the diplomatic, the furba, the mysterious…

– I do not understand.

– Imagine, that has come to beat me in the door. What do you want?, I ask. Nothing, I answered, wanted to know if he was okay. Then I ate the leaf, and I immediately said: here's something under…

– It, com’è naturale, now you ran on tiptoe… to see… per bracare… Who knows what you'll be imagined!

– What do you want that m'immaginassi? Despite – followed the Norina, with a giggle impertinentissimo – I really did a great consolation to see that you love the painting, and that to enjoy it better, you are also able to mount on the chairs and sofa, as boys do.

– Ah! if I were a great lady – replied Clarenza, pretending not to understand the irony of those words maliziosetta. – Ah! if I were a great lady, tappezzerei all my rooms of paintings.

– Io no: tappezzerei the fabric and satin. It is cleaner, and costs less. The paintings I liked a girl. Do you remember that Moses on Sinai, that our father kept in the study? Me too, every morning, before the study is opened, I had taken the habit to mount on a chair to see the Moses closer. But do you know why? because behind the frame of the picture we found for the usual few forgotten letter.

– Adagio grab a little pranks, Norina – said Clarenza, facendosi serious, – I beg you to believe that behind the Niobe there was no letter.

– Lo credo bene, and even if there had been, you would have had enough judgment to not leave it there with the danger that went into the hands of others!

The two sisters looked at each other: squared and after very well from head to toe, they ended up giving both a great laugh.

– On the subject of resolutions. And Valerio responded? – asked Clarenza, to change the subject.

– I wanted to see that even this did not satisfy.

Will be here at eight o'clock precise, to accompany us to the theater.

– Poor Valerio: is the best devil of this world.

– Does his duty, and nothing more.

– And you have not decided yet?..

– For now no. I'm not in a hurry to have a husband.

– Tell me: spereresti for the case that the marriage of that person – (and Clarenza accompanied the word with a curious gleam of eyes) – go to the mountain a second time?…

– I do not need to go to confession. I only say that the cases are more laws… and that as long as there is breath there is hope. It will be another vedesti? It was in a box almost opposite to our, with all its future relatives… I do not ever arose on the scopes of. And tonight the family of the console is certainly in theater: Tuesdays and Thursdays never fails.

– And you invite him to accompany you?.. Ah? let me tell you; is something that does not look good and makes you great wrong. Why flatter? Why put it in the middle? why make them do, unbeknownst to him a poor figure? Or would it be better to speak to him frankly and make his freedom?..

– Are you curious! Am I that I keep?

– Let frankly; you do not you love him.

– It is not true either Codest. In order to love, I love him…

– Yes, yes; but it is not that good, as I intend to

– You are right: is another good… for example, on the kind of what you want to Frederick.

– Norina! – said Clarenza, doing the frown – Mind you once and for all; I do not agree on this jokes.

– Calmati, Clarenza, calmati.

– There is little to calm down. Another similar speech, and there guastiamo forever; or out of the house you, out or I.

– Come to my arms and be goodie – He replied the other, passing his arm affectionately around her sister. – Why should we spoil? Why must one do comedy, when we are in private? Think a little above and answer; do you think that two women like us, with the ideas and with the character we have and with the education that they gave us at home, you really believe that Frederick and Valerio were men more suitable for our husbands?

– Do you take care of me; rather talk to you.

– Well, I will speak on my own and I will confess frankly that it may well be that I end up marrying neck Valerio: but, Valerio is not my ideal.

– You said the same of your poor Ernesto. I remember it as if it were now.

– Ernesto was an angel: but we must agree that he had a large defect: an insufferable defect. Employed as a boy to telegraph, had attacked the vice of their jobs. He spoke very little, and when he said something seemed to hear a telegram. I always remember that famous evening when he made his first statement. "Mrs. Norina," he said, "I love you; are honest: telegrafista; resolute accasarmi. Let me know your intentions ». Che burla! I always expected him to say "reply paid!».

– Povero Ernesto! How he died young!…

– While too! but he was so unhappy! Rest, yes: if I were to choose mistress, I'm not ashamed to say, always choose for a husband a man like the Marquis of Saint Theodora. A po 'scapato, a little 'light, a bit 'breakneck!… but so cute. Do not you think that has a lot of similarity coll'Artagnan of the Three Musketeers?

– Caves'; all tastes are tastes!… – said Clarenza, shrugging his shoulders.

– And this – soggiunse other – is said to my account; now then I'll tell you…

– I do not want to know anything!…

– Federigo, no doubt about it, is the cleverest person…

– Enough.

– But for you, for your character it would take…

– Enough, I tell you.

– It would take a man like…

– Enough! enough! enough. I explained, sì o no?

– Eh! as noise. Do not be afraid, I will not say another! – e andandosene, he muttered between his teeth, "I have come here with a half-doubt, and I'm leaving with a half-certainty. Good thing I thought to rimediarci time!…».

– That Norina has noticed something? – she asked herself the Clarenza, when left alone. – There forbid… I'm wearing a mania… a restlessness, that makes my heart and temples! But why not look for a good time resolution? Tant’è: I am now convinced… he is stronger than me ... that tempter exerts a spell on my mind irresistible. I am no longer master of saying a word or looking at him, without feeling that I face catches fire. When it is in the house, I do not see the time it goes out… When you are shaken out, thoughtful, moody… until that time has not come back home ... Infamous a man!… and besides has the courage to complain about George, because he betrayed the hospitality of his! And he would not even worse?.. But… but there is a case, signorino bello; I'm not the Emilia! oh! be convinced, too, that I'm not the Emilia. Mind, mind. Here it takes a great resolution: a heroic resolution, and without putting time in half. Meanwhile, we will begin by burning this letter, without reading it. I have done wrong in general… but this has to go on the fire.

And Clarenza turned resolutely toward the fireplace, and made the act of throwing a letter: but then he stopped, thinking:

– And if you feel the smell of burnt sheet? The Norina is so suspicious! Dio, what you think. It is better to tear it, yes: it is better to tear it… That's it: so you do not think most!

And the letter, divided into two pieces, remained between the fingers of Clarenza.

– I'm sorry that you have not looked at the date. She wanted to at least know if the letter was written today or of yesterday. Let's see if it was possible to raccapezzare the day.

And so saying, gathered together to better the two pieces of the torn letter.

While he tried his eyes Clarenza date, was the fact that posar eyes of these words:

– "Adorata Clarenza!».

– "Adored"!… cheeky which is nothing. This is the first time you take it with me such a confidence. And down here what it says?

– "I'm tired of seeing me treated with such cruelty '.

– If you are tired, all the better: I'm tired, and so we find ourselves in complete agreement. Ma la data? It is a time that I try the date and I can not manage to find it. Let's see a little -. And Clarenza continued to slide the letter with the eye, and, with visible agitation, unload from the denti:

– "I'm tired of seeing me treated with such cruelty. I begged a thousand times to get you ten minutes… Just ten minutes of freedom, for an intimate conversation…».

– Cucù! – did Clarenza, interrompendosi – I'm not the Emilia! Caro signor conte, by this time you are wrong – then continued reading.

– "Clarenza! if it is true that you do not know how to arrange these ten minutes of freedom, I suggest that you let the. Tonight you set to go to the theater. You could not let you go your sister and find an excuse to stay indoors? dubitereste front di me? I think I deserve your trust, and is in fact an act of trust that you wonder. Are voi me lo Negat, I am not worthy to stay an hour longer in this house, and I swear to God (which sees the whiteness of my intention) I leave this evening it ».

– God wanted – said Clarenza, throwing the pieces of the letter in the fire. – At least so I will be out of all danger! So I can regain the peace and tranquility, I lost. But if you really ander? I have to sit on his promise, his oath? Not, no: avoidance of repentance, is better than us Provide to me and immediately.

And he rang the bell.

– Where is the master?

– He is in his studio with the Marquis Sorbelli – said Bettina.

– What do?

– They scream and squeal as two calenders.

– Well: when they have finished scream of, Federigo to say that distance from me: I absolutely need to see it: you understand?..

– Good night, Clarenza – these Federigo, entering the room with his hat on his head and put on the overcoat, in the act of leaving the house.

– Just you! Where to run away in such a hurry?

– C’è giù, carriage, Marquis Sorbelli, waiting for me. I promised to introduce him tonight at our little Election Committee. And you and what you do Norina? Go therefore to the theater?

– I think so: Valerio at least promised to pick us up.

– Oh! if he promised not you miss some.

– I wanted to tell you something.

– After the theater, if you do not mind. Now there is the Marquis, who is waiting for me, and I do not want to wait. It's something urgent.

– You hurry up in two words. It is essential, imperative that Mario tomorrow if they go to our home.

– Clarenza! maybe there would be something? – asked Frederick, turbandosi and looking into his face wife.

– Mr. Marquis is waiting for him – disse la Bettina, looking out the door of room.

– I'll be right. Clarenza frankly tell me everything.

– And why are you so alarms.

– But then what was?

– Nothing, nothing, the great nothing.

– I want to know everything.

– And I'll tell you everything. In this house there are two women…that are neither old nor ugly… The country is gossip: and I will not chatter around the house.

– Tell me… perhaps Norina?..

– I will repeat that I do not want to chatter: by Mario, no later than tomorrow morning should get out of our house.

– We must tell them in a good manner.

– With delicious.

– Or do not you tell him? – asked Frederick to his wife.

– Io no!

– But who has put Mario in our house?

– I.

– E tu, then, licenzialo.

– Nossignore: is a part that's up to you.

– But it's up to me?

– Oh! nice!… speaks… because you are the husband.

– Clarenza!

– Oh! in short, when I tell you that there is nothing and, I seem to insist that almost un'indiscretezza!…

– Patience! the part having to do is a bit 'hard, and I would have gladly sold to you: ma if the O of far'io, the deed something. It is very urgent?

– If you could, better tonight: not, tomorrow for sure.

– Mr. Marquis!… – Bettina said, looking out the back door on the.

– He's right: I am now; dimmi Bettina: Mr. Mario is at home? – asked Frederick, with the haste of a man agitated, who wants to stand a thought, before you leave the house.

– Mr. Mario is left to the two – rispose Bettina – and never came back. They have come to warn him that it was his uncle, and that he was staying at the Locanda Maggiore.

– His uncle? – replicò Federigo; – So the minister is in town?

– Par in sì – answered Clarenza.

– Do you know if Mario never received a response to that famous letter?

– I think not.

– L’ho caro! own dear! – Grido Federigo, laughing with teeth. – I told him: Mario provider: do not send that letter: do you tease. Nossignore: wanted to send to the force. You will recall that it was recommended to me, I did bring it to him because all'uffizio postal station. On the other hand, better that way: if unfortunately Uncle minister, he contented himself the grandson, Today I would find myself in a curious embarrassment.

– In what?

– Capirai bene, that we should, I rimandassi back the Cross!

– Uhm!… forse no!

– maybe, yes.

– maybe, no.

– There is perhaps taking, mia way: or are men, or are we boys…

– Enough, enough; I know the rest by heart – said Clarenza, Bored.

– It's a matter of principles…

– If I tell you that I know the rest.

– Masters, padronissimi, que 'lords of the Ministry to have her with me…

– If you followed a little more, I do not Vado.

– Rest, – these Federigo, jumping from a tangent, – I'm sorry that this dismissal of Mario, is of such urgency: Otherwise…

– Otherwise, namely?

– Otherwise it was a matter of two or three days, at most, would melt by itself.

– That is to say?

– Mario in two or three days if he goes to some.

– And where it goes?

– Probably leave for a long trip through Germany.

– Only?

– Not, with his wife.

– Come! coll'Emilia?.. mind your; but this is a joke – said Clarenza, laughing.

– It is not a joke: is history.

– Or there was talk of separation?..

– But that separation! if I tell you that all that noise was nothing but a prank by Mario!

– So the husband and wife are on the way to an understanding, to sit down?

– Everything about my! In these twenty-five or thirty days, I had a very active correspondence with his mother and coll'Emilia.

– Bravo really? and have not told me anything? – said Clarenza, hiding barely tantrum, who had blood.

– I had the seal of confession, Mario had made me swear that talks of reconciliation would remain a secret between the two of us!

– Senti! felt! – replied Clarenza, with a little laugh of mockery, – So Mr. Mario wanted it to be a secret to everybody?

Then, changing pitch, continued:

– As for you, let me tell you: 've done badly in this mess in the middle of entrar.

– Because?

– Why would a prudent man never puts in the mouth gossip between husband and wife… if you were spoiled, so much the worse for them: had to think about fending.

– I thought you were not so bad.

– I am not bad: I have quite a bit of 'judgment even for those who do not! Already, I can see that will be a sham reconciliation… Fra a mese, at most, will again: and I want to give you the long.

– I then, I hope not. In being in the midst of this affair, I have reached the conclusion that those guys, in the end, you want a great deal of good.

– Povero Federigo! naive as you are at your age!…

– Mistress to give me the ingenuous as you like. I, however, I have seen all the letters that were exchanged between husband and wife, in these last days, and I assure you that I seem to love, worse than before!

– Really? And you believe seriously? Caves'; it may well be that Emilia is in love again! Do not say no; poor girl, has a character so light!… but as for Mario, I doubt very… oh! I doubt very.

– Mario is in love, credilo!

– Mario, no.

– Not? and how did you know?

– Lo so… because I know…

– Namely?

– He told me he.

– It? and because he told you?

– Oh bella! because I entreated him.

– To tell you the truth, I think a question a little 'indiscreet.

– To me, instead, it seems very natural.

– Well, if you want to know them all, Mario told you a lie.

– We'll talk about it at the time.

– Want one more try again? Imagine that Bettina told me that yesterday morning, being suddenly comes into the room by Mario, found him with the portrait of his wife in hand, covering him with kisses.

– Imbecile!… affected… – made the Clarenza with an ineffable grace of nausea and despite. – Certain svenevolezze in a man I can not suffer… And then… remains to be seen if that was really the portrait of his wife.

– For Codest, it was certainly. So much so that he said Bettina: "How beautiful is the wife of Mr. Mario! It looks like all the lady Clarenza!…».

( – It was my portrait! great imprudent!… – thought the wife of Frederick inwardly, becoming red in the face; then went on to say). – And this reconciliation will take place when?

– In two or three days. Emilia wrote that we will know, by means of the telegraph, the precise day and the train arrives at the station with which.

– I hope that the inn anderanno…

– It is likely.

– There is likely, nor unlikely. Let's be clear that we do not want them in the house… Do you understand?.. And the terms of this reconciliation?

– Simple. Not a word, not even a single word about the incident. The couple, Meeting at the station, you abbraccieranno, you bacieranno…

– Current!… current!… really dear!… Do you want me to tell you? Certain giuccherie almost make me sick!…

– When they have finished all the formalities of rigor, will hold off a half-day, just to have the time to do the chests and take the flight to the northern regions. It is mutually understood and agreed that the pilgrimage, all'estero, should not last less than one year.

– One year?..

– One year: so it is fixed, for the great reason that the world, language that is long and short-term memory, has all the time necessary to be able to forget everything.

– And if Mario did not want to leave?.. – asked Clarenza, laughing like mad; so as not to see the tears, in her eyes.

– MISUSE is an idea – these Federigo.

– Un’idea! It's easy to say an idea… Chi lo sa: sometimes men are so fickle:…

– Scusa veh, Clarenza: but if he is, Mario himself in person, that this condition has put the trip a year!

(- Infamous:… – he muttered between his teeth Clarenza – and would like to see the expected tonight at home… Guai's, if I happen before!).

– Mr. Marquis Sorbelli… – disse la Bettina, almost mortified to have to repeat the same thing.

– Poor Marquis! which ha, two thousand reasons. Now and then I'll be right… – and so saying Federigo, he went to meet with the greatest haste hat and overcoat, that, during the conversation, had laid on the table of means.

– Listen, come here a moment! – rejoined his wife, holding him by the arm.

– Let me go.

– I thought of one thing.

– What?

– Since this is to be patient for three or four days yet, I think it would be better to wait and not saying anything.

– Well, expect… I do it your way… Shut! if I'm not mistaken, This is Mario: His voice is certainly.

– Mind, Federigo – said Clarenza, he wanted to be alone, – do not wait any longer that poor Marquis.

– I'll go. I say a word to Mario, e scappo.

– Usual. Let me tell you: I think the lack of a good education to force a respectable person, as the Marquis Sorbelli, to get almost the servant.

– You will not be concerned – Replica Federigo sorridendo. – The Marquis is a candidate for now; So it's up to him to make my comfortable; when will then deputy, no doubt, unfortunately that will touch me to make him the antechamber.

– Are you a grand'ostinato. Well, if you do not want to leave you, me ne anderò io – Clarenza and walked out of the room, that he had a devil for hair.

– What's new? – asked Frederick to Mario, with a childlike curiosity.

– There is something – said Mario, smiling – and I was almost afraid not to find at home.

– Something care? He wrote Emilia?

– Not. From Emilia now do not expect anything but the telegram arrival: There is another news… sai?

– Which one?

– It came my uncle.

– Ah! has arrived?.. – added Federigo, with indifference.

– I do not know anything?

– Nothing. On the other hand, interest that you want to have me for the arrival of a minister? between me and the men of the Government, There is an ocean of middle.

– For charity – said Mario, joking – we do not speak of the oceans! I have known some oceans, and politica, you are rasciugati at any moment, and many have become rivulets that they can go on dry ground. As you may figured, My uncle never replied to that letter…

– It was easy to guess.

– Moreover responded with the fact.

– The fact? namely? would like to say?..

– Mr. Marquis Sorbelli… – bisbigliò la Bettina, subheading, closer to his master.

– Great tease! Two minutes and go down immediately.

– He says that he does not want to wait any longer – she added softly the old maid.

– What if they go, then! – replicò Federigo; then turning to Mario:

– Therefore, you told me?..

– I was saying that the minister handed me an envelope for you.

– A package for me?.. I know I should not receive any packet from the Ministry.

– Caro mio; Do not shoot the ambassador – and so saying, Mario took from his pocket a packet, and handed it to her husband to Clarenza, which, hovering above the eyes, he read in a voice almost trembling: – "At Frederick Knight Fabiani». Ah! finally!… – esclamò Federigo.

– Namely?

– I mean – The other rispose, barely holding back his emotion. – I mean I finally had to happen to him even this evil. Mario? bear with me if I tell you. but I've done a bad joke.

– Caro mio: I am not my fault.

– See a little 'embarrassment to what you put me. You know very well that I am a logical man, Uomo conseguente…

– Well.

– Well, I would not accept a distinction, that comes from a home office, I have always fought.

– If you do not want; e tu rimandala.

– Rimandarla! is obvious. And your uncle?.. is an affront nice and good, I'd do him.

– Se fossi in te, I would not have so many respects; I would refer the cross, and bustling night.

Frederick was silent and lost in thought, for two minutes: then, turning to his friend, he asked quietly:

– Tell me a little: as is the custom in these unfortunate circumstances? Use write a thank you letter?..

– For the usual, yes.

– But I, it is understood that I do not answer anything – these Federigo, swelling the voice.

– Absolute right – said Mario, that he understood the weakness of his. – No one can force you to do anything against conscience.

– At most I could answer two verses… only two verses of formality… just to let you know that I received the package.

– Enough, e this n'è D'Avanzo.

Frederick went to the table in the middle, and took a sheet of letters, and postoselo front, said Mario:

– Give me a break: you who practice in certain things… dictates these few words. Let's be clear: liberalissime words and without a shadow of flattery.

– Or pur là, and write – replicò Mario, closer to the fireplace; and the high you, began to dictate: – "Signor minister".

– "Mr.…"Tell me a little – He asked the other, raising her head and stopping to write – it would be better to give him a bit 'of Excellence.

– Fai tu: but the phrase "Mr. Minister," is much more frank and uninhibited.

– It's true; did i ministers, credilo a me, keep us Excellence: to know certain things. Do you want to do it my way? Diamogli Excellence.

– Diamogli Excellence – Mario added, laughing: then continued to dictate: – "I am sensitive to the honor…».

– That "sensitive" seems a bit 'short – said Federigo. – If we put instead of "sensitive?».

– You are right. "Very sensitive" is longer. So it begins: "I am very sensitive to the honor…».

– Honor… honor! – borbottò from the denti Federigo. – And do not you think it would be better called "high honor?».

– High? in this case it seems to me a word a bit 'too bombastic.

– Ampolloso, no. Indeed it seems to me a very common word and continuously strives. Precisely so it says "high esteem" and high regard… even when writing to say nothing.

– I see, my friend – said Mario, bored – What do you know more than me: So write down your letter from you: besides, se credi, I can take him.

– Will you do me a true gift – replied Federigo. So he wrote a letter in a few minutes, closed it in an envelope, and, delivering it to the Count, she said with a tone of voice somber and melancholy: – Now I need you to give me a test of true friendship.

– Talk.

– You know the weight, I have always given these trinkets, these giuocattoli by children…

– Lo so! lo so… – interruppe other, ridendosela under his mustache.

– Yet: I wish this thing would remain a secret between the two of us: not even know that the air. What do you want me to tell you? I feel something here that disgusts me – (and he touched his stomach from the heart). – I understand that man is an animal of habit, and that in this world we are accustomed to everything: but, eat pray pray, I tell the truth, I feel that I can not resign myself to being called Knight.

– I mean your great repugnance… and here the hand. I solemnly swear not to tell anyone about it.

– We are aiming: anyone!

– Nobody!

Clarenza room in between: perhaps he believed only to find Mario: but since there was Federigo, was pretty bad; voltasi gracefully and spiteful towards her husband, said:

– Come? 're always here?

– Always chi! – The other rispose, without raising his head, and the accompanying reply with a kind of sigh.

– What did you? what has happened to you?

– Nothing, nothing.

– Ditelo voi, Mario; what's been? – asked Clarenza, a little worried.

– I repeat, that there was nothing – Grido Federigo, angry. – One of my usual fortunes. Guard! – and, so saying, you took from his pocket the envelope of the Ministry, and passed it to his wife,.

Clarenza laid eyes address: and after having given the provenance, and after reading the sopraccarta "At the cavalier Frederick Fabiani," returned the letter to her husband, exclaiming with true consolation:

– Oh! thank God! Eventually you'll be glad!

– Glad I? I? Or pur là, you've guessed.

– As for me, I say frankly, I'm very happy.

– All the same women! – these Federigo, swelling the voice. – Do you have a vanity that passes any measure. For other, Clarenza, mind you well. I warn you once and for all. Know that this thing must remain a secret between the three of us – (I also mentioned to Mario). – So mind you do not tell anyone! Nobody, and especially to that of the talkative Norina.

– Sir Knight, my respects – Norina the disse, jumping in room, and bowing before comically-law.

– Ah! Norina! – replicò Federigo, making angrily – this your indiscretion… this your eagerness to poke his nose into everything I begins to dry. With a woman, come te, between the feet. it is useless in a home that are brought hither the doors and the doors.

– Useless?

– Inutilissimo. Because at least I have always heard say that the doors were made just to prevent others who know what we want that we do not know.

– It is also an idea MISUSE – rejoined Norina, laughing. – Not everyone feels the same way. I, for example, I have always believed that the doors were made only to have to listen to what others say. It's like your opinion, and must be respected.

– Do not they are speaking more for today. I warn you to keep the secret: and do not tell anyone! with no. About: but that the Marquis Sorbelli is always waiting for me down? We hear a little.

And Frederick rang the bell.

– She played her, Mr. Frederick?. – disse la Bettina, arriving in room.

– Brava, Bettina! So I like: Call me always Federigo.

– Or how does what you call it?

– Guai of, if once, once, you beat knight said.

– Come! come! – cried the old maid, gaily – who was made a knight, law? I really dear! It was thus, poor master, that he pined!…

– I longed, a horn! Not much flow, and looks rather to what I say: I repeat, then, that my name is Frederick, I want to be called Frederick, and in my house there shall be neither knights, born Commendatori. Tell suffered even to Francesco and the chef.

– Not dubiti, Sir Knight.

– Enough. Now I wanted to ask you something; Marquis started?

– It will be almost a half an hour – disse la Bettina. – Blowing like a porcupine. If you knew how many Cossack said!…

– I Contro?

– Against her!

– Bravo signor marchese: we will do the accounts at the time. The appearance, all’urna, not dubiti, the appearance urn! Curious these squires standing. Because they have a little 'title, found among the cobwebs home, the par to be God knows that!… I Quant'a, for example, not should exchange my modest knight's cross with all their coats of arms: am I right?..

– Holy! – Mario added; – tell me one thing: and now, to which side you are directed?

– That question? – replied Federigo, watching the clock. – It's my time: I, according to my usual (habit now than ten years), I go home Appiani to make my chess game.

– You can not leave it for a night? – asked the Count.

– Impossible: I am sure that this night I could not sleep.

– Do you dissemble, I'm sorry.

– Do you mind? and why?

– Why does the minister would want to see you.

– Me?.. – asked Frederick, that the excessive and sudden joy did send out a falsetto note.

– You in person. And add that I had promised to accompany him tonight!

– You hurt… namely, I do not say that you have done wrong… but, in short, What do you want from me Mr. Minister?

– I do not know!

– The count does not know – interrupted Clarenza – but it is easy to suppose. The minister knows that you're a good man, an honest man, a person a great deal of influential… and it is natural that you want to meet you in person and shake your hand.

– Too good, Mr. Minister: but I'm not going! – these Federigo, man posing as a tough and resolute.

– Patience! – replicò Mario, by making the act no longer wish to insist.

– Please, moreover, to make him my apologies.

– No need to apologize. You have your good reasons not to want to come, and that's enough!

– And why do not you go? – asked Clarenza, sorry to which this strange stubbornness of her husband.

– Oh! nice! I'm not going, because I do not agree. It is a matter of pride of character and sense of his own dignity, and women can not understand certain things.

– I understand you very well! – said Mario, blowing her nose, to plug a laugh insolentissima.

– E tu, when you return to your uncle?

– We return now: as soon as I get out of here. Meanwhile, bring your letter and I will make your excuses.

– If I wait two minutes, we can do a little way along.

– I quickly.

– Only two minutes.

– I beseech thee to make haste.

– The time it takes, to change me this coat, that is beginning to be a bit 'too serious for the season.

And Frederick left the room.

– Tell me, Mario, and your uncle holds very? – asked Clarenza, just to say something, and to dissemble his anger for Norina, who persisted in not wanting to leave.

– My uncle tonight by train part of the eight and a half to San Giusto.

– Senti!

– It, probably, I will keep you company.

– Games you too?.. – churches Clarenza, drawling voice with a little 'banter.

– It is not difficult to point.

– And when you return?

– Chi lo sa. I do not even know. It all depends on a response, that aspect… – said, looking into the eyes of the pretty wife of Frederick, then added immediately, not to give time to fantasize Norina:

– And these two beautiful ladies then go to the theater tonight?

– Yes – answered Norina. – We look right Mr. Valerio, who has promised to accompany.

– There is a nice comedy?

– Non lo so davvero: something Vado to theater, to go to the theater.

– And I'm going to the theater to not stay at home – added Clarenza, slightly accenting the last words.

– I bet you have a little 'afraid to be alone at home? – asked the Count, smiling with intention.

– L'shelter indovinata! I'm afraid of boredom. Three hours of solitude are too long. What you have now, Mario?

– The eight neighboring.

– If you linger a little longer, miss the train, and you can no longer accompany your uncle.

– Aspect that blessed man of Federigo… Oh! But there is all the time needed: the train should pass at half past eight, and delays always nine or ten minutes…Sorry, Mrs. Clarenza: and laugh because?

– I laugh to see you tell lies so seriously.

– Namely?

– For your rule, you do not leave tonight!

– I swear to you that childbirth. I promised my uncle. And because, scusatemi, I should tell you one thing for another?..

– San Giusto! – went on to say Clarenza, guffawing with a forced laugh. – Guard, by Appunti!… And what you are going to do in San Giusto?..

– I there some small affaretto.

– It is not true.

– Sorry Clarenza: but why give me a belie?

– I will not do no lied: I tell you that simply is not true! – replied Clarenza, that, without realizing it, had become serious and almost spiteful.

– Mr. Leonetto! – said the reporter, looking out at room, and proclaiming himself.

– Oh! miracle is that this? – asked the Norina, beckoning him to come forward.

– Scusatemi, mie belle signore, if you disturbo: Frederick came out?

– Frederick will be here in minutes – answered Clarenza.

– I need to see him for a certain thing… of urgenza… Meanwhile profitterò opportunity to shake his hand and give me the glad-.

– How did you know?

– Bettina told me everything. Rather, if you are content, I would make him a sort of surprise… I would like to announce his appointment in tomorrow's paper.

And so saying he drew from his pocket a pencil and a piece of paper; and, After writing a few verses, turned to the hostess, saying:

– Sorry, Mrs. Clarenza: would you mind sending your Francis to the printing of the newspaper with this warning? –

– Figuratevi!…

And Clarenza called Bettina, and dié the ticket, with considerate to do so immediately to take Francis to the printing of the "Journal of the Province".

– They are soon! – these Federigo, arriving in room, all dressed up, in black dress, white tie, gloves and pearly light overcoat on his arm.

– Good! good! – Mario cried laughing – So you regret? come along by the Minister?

– And because?..

– Me lo figuro! I see you in the habit of visiting the official!…

– Officiale?.. anything but official! I am changed dress, because with the other one burst from the heat.

– Therefore, come or do not come?

– Impossible, credilo, impossible! Ask me for quite a cup of my blood, and do not say no… but by the Minister…

– Well, do not talk about it anymore: So I can leave?

– If you wait for me, you along the way and I'll take you up there.

– Up to where?

– Until the Locanda Maggiore. Per me, is across road.

– We are just! When you have done so much to arrivar there, You can also climb stairs – said Clarenza.

– Not out! when I said that I climb, not out. At the most, I can expect down Down, in the room of the bureau.

– And if the minister, per caso, comes to know that you're down waiting…

– Oh! in short: not out. I'll walk you, waiting for you, but… but will not go up the stairs of power ever.

Federigo, believing he had said a good thing, stroked his chin, with visible complacency.

– Therefore, Federigo, you can shake hands? – asked Leonetto, stepping forward.

– Caro mio. is a plate that I suddenly fell on his head. I swear to you that I knew nothing! just the big nothing!…

– You will see your appointment announced in tomorrow's paper! – replied the reporter, just one thing to say welcome.

– You have done very badly.

– Really?

– I wish I had this thing that he did a secret! I will not deny that you gave me a true sorrow!…

– When it's like, it's easy to rimediarci… – these Leonetto, off the ground in a hurry, 'll go out to the hall.

– And now where escape? – asked Frederick, holding him by the arm.

– I run to the printing, to ensure the suspension of the proclamation. We are always on time.

– Now lets go – replied the husband of Clarenza. – Little good and a little bad: so it is the newspaper of the province. It is not a newspaper that no one reads it.

– The ticket is already at the printing – disse Francesco, showing up at the door, with a duffel bag in hand. – Tell Mr. Mario, where I have to carry this bag?

– At the station: and leave it over to Mr. Petrine.

– This is actually decided! – whispered to Clarenza, biting for bizza lip below.

– Therefore, mie belle signore, you have to give me commands for San Giusto? – said the count, with grace and with a great deal of indifference.

– Thank you, Mario – answered Norina.

– So good night and good fun…

– And when they meet again in? – asked Clarenza, striving to make the easy.

– Chi lo sa!… maybe tomorrow and maybe in a week.

Clarenza, who was standing, approached the Count, and seizing a moment that all the others were talking to each other, she asked softly, but with an emphasis on vibrato:

– Matches really?..

– Just go to the theater? – sussurrò Mario, giving his wife of Federigo look significantissima.

– Hurry Mario – Grido Federigo, turning suddenly. – I'm late; and chess are waiting for me.

And the Count Federigo and took their leave in a hurry and left.

Norina leaned on the door, to see if Mario was just released; then she went out, telling his sister:

– I'm going, in the meantime, from there to take the mantilla and the cap: e tu?

– My toilets are ready-made – said Clarenza, looking into the mirror. – For him theater quel, is too much luxury!…

Just Leonetto was left alone with the wife of Frederick, took a certain air of collegiate shameful: and, as if he needed to look for the right words, to begin, stammered confusedly…

– Tell me… Mrs. Clarenza, would like to put in a good word for me with your husband?

– Figuratevi; – rispose other. – With all the pleasure. And that it is?..

– That's what it is ... you know DiCerto… or if by chance you do not know, I tell you, that is vacant the post of director of the Institute Azeglio… Your husband, as one of the main backers of that Institute, have much say in the matter… Would you like to instruct him to that place a person of my acquaintance?..

– Your knowledge of? – replied Clarenza, looking at the reporter with a sort of curiosity malignant.

– I know – added Leonetto seriously – and that… I care very much!…

– Maybe one of your relative?

– Anything more!

– More?.. and this person would be?..

– The signorina Armanda, the same of which we spoke some time ago.

– Ah! signor Leonetto! – said Clarenza, standing up and a tone of offended person. – To tell the truth: I wonder that you can recommend me to use a very sensitive person… like that!

– I beg your pardon! – replied the reporter, that had become as red as a cherry (nice done for a journalist!). – Vi giuro, upon my honor, that the young…

– And why would you waste the time to swear? Do not you remember you told me yourself, understand well, yourself, the young lady who traveled the world, calling himself temporarily Armanda. Perhaps it is for me to tell you what family they belong to women…no fixed address, and that change of name as combing?

– Lady Clarenza, you are right: – Leonetto said confused and mortified. – But if I answered that on that day I will, speaking so lightly of Armanda, I thought I was a young man of spirit, while later, I have reached the conclusion that I was nothing but a vulgar fool and a slanderer?

– There is no doubt – Clarenza observed with grace: – is a retraction spontaneous and made in good faith… but it has a small flaw…

– Which one?

– There comes a little late.

– I have nothing to add! – said the reporter, standing in place of wanting to dismiss.

– Feel, Leonetto: do not flee; I also I need to ask you a favor.

– I'm here.

– Talk directly with my husband of this…person… that interests you so much; dispensatemi but put me in the mouth.

– Well, Mrs. Clarenza – Leonetto said with emphasis frank and resolute – my delicacy does not allow me to leave under the sad impression that I have wanted to abuse your good faith and your exquisite courtesy.

– Misuse?.. not really.

– A justification for the recommendation that I made, I feel the absolute need to confide a thing, which so far is a secret to all. In a few days Armanda will bring my name!

– Come?.. can?..

– It is so, Mrs. Clarenza…

– In this case, amor mio, mortificatissima are saying a few words, perhaps a bit '… unripe, but I hope you will convenir me that the fault, in the end, it is not all mine.

– I repeat: you have a thousand reasons. I have been a great guy: and now I pay the penalty of my lightness…

– Consolatevi, Leonetto! – Clarenza said, smiling and hand stendendogli – you are not the only! I have known of others, who finished neck marry the woman, which had washed her mouth.

– And this Mr. Valerio has not seen yet? – asked the Norina, arriving in room, mantilla glue on the arm.

– Here I am – Valerio said, appearing in the doorway of the bottom. – I have done maybe wait?

– No really. Indeed we can hold us back a little more. As for me, I did not like ever to arrive in theater, all'alzata the curtain. Yes, par of the gentuccia, going to the theater, just for the show, not true?… E tu, Clarenza, What are you doing that you do not send in the meantime, take your stuff?

– Now no longer come – replied the wife of Frederick, doing the bored, with weariness and leaning his head back in his chair. – To survey will, stay at home.

– Stay at home? – replied brightly sister.

– Wearies me to go out!… besides to tell you the truth, I'm like Valerio: I really enjoy the music: ma prose… oh! Dio!… prose!…

– Per me, – these Valerio, – the prose is still prose.

– Even when he is in poetry! – he added, laughing wife of Frederick.

The Norina had been enchanted: thinking of something with a fixation unusual in her. When he roused himself, mormorò from the denti: The deal gets serious… and very!…Let's hope that my letter has been sent in time! E is north, patience! There are things in this world.

Then, given a shrug of the shoulders, resumed his usual light-heartedness and his usual good humor, and rivoltasi to the journalist, he asked, laughing:

– And so, Leonetto, how does that famous old thermometer?..

The reporter wanted to be an abstract, the man engrossed in deep thought, m at Norina, with a petulant and childish carelessness, stressed:

– And those poor hair? They were always at thirty-nine and a half, or have given birth this time? The know, Valerio, the story of the thirty-hair and the old thermometer? – (and here a great laugh).

– Enough, enough, Norina – said Clarenza, pity the ineffable torture, that the poor suffered Leonetto. – How did you get verbose! when cominci, not the finish more!

In the meantime,, Bettina came hurrying across the room in, announcing:

– The Countess Emilia.

Framework of universal astonishment and surprise!

After all the hugs and kisses all, who share in similar circumstances, all women who love each other and those who can not suffer each other, Clarenza, for the first, cried, taking her friend to both hands.

– But this is a very dear improvised!

– And Mario dov'è? – asked Emilia.

– Mario tonight do not you see! – rejoined Norina, overjoyed that his letter had arrived in time.

– And because I can not see?

– Because the train was leaving the eight and a half to San Giusto. Accompanied the minister.

– The uncle then was here?

– He stayed a few hours.

– I'd seen so willingly. E Federigo?.. That pearl of man your husband? – he said, turning to Clarenza.

– She looks great: but he is out. At this Appiani will be at home to do his usual game of chess until midnight.

– I bet, Clarenza, I do not expect you to… tonight?…

– Io no!… – rispose other, a bit 'puzzled glances probing and insightful, with which the darting his wife of Mario. – Tonight was not expecting you… but though I knew you'd be here in two or three days longer.

– It's true!… I wanted to anticipate my trip a few hours… and I'll tell you why. It was a whim… I had the idea of ​​putting all of a sudden get here, without anyone knowing anything about… and especially Mario…

– A Surprise?

– Precisely.

So saying, Emilia took her by the hand the two friends, and after they have been carried out with great ease to the piano, located in a corner of the room, said to them softly, with a certain grace and comic physiognomy:

– With you I have no mysteries, and I can also tell you the reason for this bizarre resolution. A few days ago I received a letter in the mail, who came here…an anonymous letter and curious…

– My letter! – whispered within himself the Norina.. I was quite certain that he would do his effect.

– I'll start by tell you that the letter was signed Elf. -. and that, among other things, was full of spelling blunders!…

– Sguaiata! – murmured the sister of Clarenza: then added strong: – There veh! perhaps have been blunders made especially… to hide the hand of the person who wrote.

– Not, no – briskly replied the countess – I assure you that they were nonsense spontaneous, legitimate, fallen down from the pen quite naturally. But this matters little. I know very well the fact that you should do the anonymous letters: but we should have the strength to rip them before reading them. Once you have read, it's over: you seem truer than the real letters. The fact is that Elf likes to give me curious of the information is… very curious about life, My husband leads here -. (E Emilia, with a prodigious volubility, staring eyes in the face now Clarenza, now to Norina: but then at the very Clarenza). – The letter, who knows why, is written throughout in a bizarre language; such as the tales of the Clasio and Pignotti. Figuratevi, by darvene un'idea, that speaks of a philanderer who deceive the loneliness and pain mood has made to the court and to hover around a flower: of course, Elf says, around a flower garden indoors. The butterfly and the flower are very close to home: almost, under the same roof… The flower, for now, has resisted all temptations: but if her power to abandon him? Come here immediately, concludes the author of the letter; your presence will review the butterfly: and so will save the honor of the flower and the tranquility of that good man gardener… In fact, I remember very well, that, instead of gardener, is written gardinere, without the.

– Gardinere? – Norina ripeté the impermalita. – It seems impossible!

– Namely?

– I mean – added, ripigliandosi time – it seems impossible that Mr. Elf does not know that the i need to write gardener. They are the first principles of the Italian language, that we all know by heart as the Avemmaria.

– Both fable or story? – asked Emilia, without losing sight of the countenance of the two sisters. – what do you say, Clarenza?..

– For me it's all a fairy tale – replied the wife of Frederick, endeavoring to conceal the agitation that she was wearing. – But, examines! it may be that there was a bit 'of history.

– None of you have ever noticed anything?..

– Nothing! just about anything! – replied in unison, the two sisters.

– The fable I think a! – continued to tell the countess. – The more I think, and more impossible it seems to me that Mario would be able… especially now… at this time…

– For Codest, mia way, I believe them capable of anything… out of a good deed! – Clarenza said with the accent of ill-repressed tantrum.

– With all your speeches, I do at home to midnight! – rejoined Norina, happy to be able to interrupt a conversation, threatening danger of becoming. – Something Vado to theater. Do you want to come too? – asked Emilia.

– In quest'arnese Travel?

– You look great.

– Well, I will come to the theater. So the evening will soon.

– Addio a poi, Clarenza! – Norina the disse, putting the mantilla over her shoulders.

– Come! you remain in the home? – asked the countess in a tone of curiosity singular.

– Yes I stay at home. I do not feel very well.

– Do you feel sick? Oh poor Clarenza! In this case, I do not go to the theater it myself! I want to stay to get a bit 'of company.

– Please, Emilia, do not stand on ceremony with me!

– I tell you I'm not going!

– Research, you get bored. I must warn you that when I take this damn pain in the head, I need to sleep at least a par of hours.

– Pure sleep. I'll sleep! I need so much. I figured that I got up at eight!…

– Do as you!…

– And then… do you want to say another: which, in the heart, I have a presentiment curious! I know for me that is a scioccheria, a thing without common sense… but also I began to boss Mario… should come home at any moment.

– If I tell you that the party is!…

– Will told to leave… but then so is debunked!… Anyone who tells you that he did not later?

– Dov’è, where is this lady Emilia? – Grido Federigo, entering the room and going to shake hands with the Countess.

– How did you hear of my arrival?..

– The good woman of Bettina! As soon as I entered the house, la Bettina mi have detto: its, knight, those who arrived?

– Knight!… – asked Emilia in place of rejoicing.

– For charity, countess, call me Federigo, as I have called so far! or there guastiamo. Too bad the rest of that you got a little 'late.

– Late?.. and why? I hope, instead, arrived in time to be… at least I do not want to lose this illusion! – added the other to do with that careless person who speaks at random: and at the same time launched the Clarenza look fast, seemed that one of those lightning light, produced by a small mirror stirred under a ray of sun.

– An hour early – continued Federigo – Mario and you would have found in home. Now this evening I must be patient.

– And when told to go?..

– maybe, tomorrow, with the noon train.

– It's his party?

– I took him to the station I: or rather, I accompanied them both, he and the minister.

– And you waited for the train departed?

– Not!

– Then, I always hope!

– I would have gladly waited, but the blessed man Mario began to say that the air had cooled, and that I did well to come home immediately to mutarmi dress.

– It is so full of my husband's attentions, sometimes!

– About attentions, you know that your Mario made me tonight one of those pranks, that I'll remember for a lifetime!

– What made you?

– Feel, and judge for yourself if it does not go nearly the limit of the joke. Just out of the house, un’ora fa, we went to Locanda Maggiore, where he entertained the minister. I state that I had declared beforehand that in no way wanted to be presented to His Excellency. I had my reasons to keep this attitude and just. It's all a matter of principles, and do not mess with the principles! I say that we arrived at the inn to Mario. "Oh you pur, and do all your handy: I'll wait out here, Gaining a walk and some fresh air. ". After a few minutes, I was there at the door of, here's a young man coming down the stairs, neatly dressed, which, presentandosi me and titubando, me says: "Excuse me: is the knight Fabiani?». "To obey it," I reply. 'Knight! Mr. Minister begs to go up a time to him ". "Thank you… I can not really… besides in this dress ». "Io prego, knight, by His Excellency ». «Back Un'altra… tonight is impossible ". In conclusion, Knight here, knight beyond, knight below, Knight above, I had to face, I resign myself and ended up climbing the stairs of the Locanda Maggiore. Those stairs will always be the greatest regret of my life!

– If we delay the other – Norina the disse, raising his voice – I can see that we get to play over.

– I am ready – Valerio said, putting on gloves.

– E voi, Leonetto, accompanied us? – asked the sister of Clarenza.

– I would have come too volentierissimo: but precisely are engaged. It is necessary that in a quarter of an hour to the town hall to find me.

– Maybe some marriage? – asked Frederick.

– Precisely – replied the reporter. – I am a witness to the marriage of the Marquis of Saint Theodora with Miss Edwige Clarence, the daughter of the American consul.

– Tonight?.. just tonight? – asked Norina with a passionate vitality, that he could not conceal.

– In half an hour – replicò Leonetto.

– Thank God! – cried the cunning widow, instantly changing the physiognomy of, and getting all quiet and smiling. – Thank God! and now tell me a little, Mr. Valerio, you think that your fears they reasoned?

– Compatitemi, mia way, you know that those who love, fears.

Meanwhile, in the rooms of input they heard a man's voice, and the sound of footsteps.

– Possible! – Grido Federigo – but if I'm not mistaken, this is all the voice of Mario.

– Finally!… – said the count rushing in the room, and ran to embrace his wife: – This was just a lucky combination!… It seemed that the heart to tell me!…

– And I, to quest'ora, I thought you were already arrived in San Giusto!…

– I must thank the case: the case, tonight, was my guardian angel: I figured that my uncle and I were already entered into wagon: the car blew: the train was about to leave: I notice when I, Suddenly, he had forgotten the duffel bag in the station cafe. Jump earth, and run to the coffee… the bag was gone. "Who took my bag?». "I delivered a guard," answered the coffee. "And where will reach me?». "Maybe in the stationmaster's room». It ran off the stationmaster's office. The office was closed. Busso, call, bestemmio… finally… the porta themselves apre… I take the bag… I go back and look at the car… but at that moment the car blows, the train moves… and I…

– E tu, com’è naturale, run straight home, knowing that here waiting for you… your wife…

– I did not know, certainly, but I swear I'd figured – Mario replied with that naturalness that buys the man when he has learned to tell the same lie neck candor of truth.

– And now what do we do? – asked Frederick, taking counsel glue conversation about how best to spend the remainder of the evening.

– I propose something – said Clarenza: – let's all go to the theater.

– I do not really come – Norina replied listlessly. – It is late now!

– There was perhaps some new comedy? – asked Emilia.

– New? I do not know. I saw in the papers that tonight recited the big boys.

– Then I realized – these Leonetto, smiling – is a very old comedy, but always fun.


The day after, Count Mario and his wife, had to leave, correct their fixed, a long journey (a trip of at least one year, they said the terms of reconciliation) through the main countries of Germany.

But the countess, for good luck, remarked that it was Friday: and prudent people should avoid to travel, in most deadly day of the week!

Agree on this point, the couple, instead of taking the flight to Vienna, estimated well done to come back for a few days at home – and the same evening departed for Genoa.

The ceremonial farewell was very cordial – and sometimes commoventissimo.

The Clarenza, seized a meantime, he said softly to Count, laughing happily: – Povero Mario?… I have given you a lesson!…

– To me?

– I hope that you will not have to hurt you.

And you can believe, Clarenza, I would have been able?.. Ah! no, a thousand times! my adoration for you had a sacred boundary, inviolable… friendship for Frederick!

And Clarenza and Count, at that time, spoke in good faith and believed them both to tell the truth.

Valerio it was easy to foresee, finished neck marry Norina… for several reasons, and especially to show he was a man of a serious nature, and not a boy – while Norina, on the other hand, was fond of telling her friends intimate (and all the friends become close friends for a woman who needs to know a secret), was pleased, therefore, that if he wanted to tell, he could marry the Marquis of Saint Theodora; but that, instead, because I listened to the heart, was sacrificed (sic) and had made a marriage of inclination.

Leonetto, the reporter, love to the eyes of Armanda – perhaps precisely because at first he had said so much bad – would marry her even now – but dared not do so, for fear of the Marquise Hydrangea.

Fortunately Providence (you see right there is a providence for those that blindside wife), he went to visit the Marquise, under the form of acute bronchitis: and the journalist, advantage of the favorable opportunity, brought before the mayor that girl adored, clearly that the sky had created just for him.

When the news spread abroad to the country, the Sorbelli, who was already on the mend, dissembled his resentment with ease. The Marquis, instead, went on a rampage. The poor man could not comprehend, how a friend of his house, as Leonetto, he could meditate and enter into a marriage, without saying a single word at least before the Marchesa – the marquise who had done so much for him!

Dopo new mixtures, Armanda dié birth to a girl – Leonetto which she insisted that it was imposed on the font name Ortensia.

I highly displeased at the young mother: but was pleased to Sorbelli, la quale, as soon as this episode became known intimate family, disposed of his composure until then cold and confidential, and went to visit the new mother, talking to her for half an hour of the great thoughts of motherhood and prognosticando by certain distinguishing marks, that the child, take grande, would have had beautiful eyes and an amazing amount of hair – like his father!

From that day onwards, Leonetto and marquise Ortensia returned very good friends, as before; and that gentleman of the Marquis, regained a bit 'of peace at home, and said goodbye to politics (the country was not yet ripe for him), he devoted himself entirely to the study of filugello, proposing to dissolve the problem, if during the illness of the seed, could be obtained from the silkworm at least the cotton of the highest quality!

How to Clarenza and Emilia, the play lasted for nearly a year: were written from time to time; kissed by letter – but, essentially, between them they could not suffer.

It was finally a nice day, in which the wife of Frederick suddenly stopped every relationship and every friendly match glue Countess – and the reason, as a stop, this was.

The Clarenza was learned that George – George of the wetting of the love and platonic coll'Emilia – a result of combinations (all combinations, minutes to one combination of the other) had hung up his hat again in Mario's house.

This fact, la stomacò (are his own words); so much so that by talking about it in private with her husband, she would say with his mouth doing an act of unspeakable disgust: – I do not wonder Emilia, Emilia Oramas th… what is! Who really surprises me, è Mario!… And I thought he was a man of honor!… That stuff!… that stuff!…

It happened at this time, una sera, Mario, Coming from Genoa, went all pale and transfigured knocking at a friend's house Fabiani.

Cos’è, What is not, Frederick was able to eventually figure out that Count, having gambled wildly on the Stock Exchange, was confronted with a frightening dilemma (scary, s'intende bene, so much on!) namely, the pay – or cut the figure of the gambler honored… who does not pay his gambling debts!…

Federigo, for dates and the fact that Mario, he had been knighted – then mayor – and that, for the assistance of the same Holy, already felt in the odor of Grand Officer or Commander, proclaimed the great principle, that "the friend if necessary, must sacrifice for a friend », and the next day, with a wallet full of sheets of Bank, he left for Genoa, saying to the Count: "Wait here; I return, I'll tell you everything, and will adjust everything between the two of us!».

The consolation of Mario, at that time, fu tanta e tale, who could not resist an impulse of the heart, threw her arms around the neck of his, and kissed him repeatedly, wetting his cheeks with some tears of deep gratitude and indelible.

Frederick believed in Genoa stay a day or two, at most; instead he stayed four. When he returned home, the first thing he said was this Mario:

– Everything is arranged!. – and was very cheerful and happy, as if it were her thing.

The Count, Forced by circumstances imperious, was obliged from the same evening.

In the act of taking leave and come out from the front door, whispered the Clarenza, with a certain tone of voice, and looked on with a certain eye, which gave much food for thought: – Just arrived, rammentati to write to me immediately!…

Federigo, that caution had to be a little more distant, and instead, for an unforgivable oversight, was very close, understood those words, or at least he seemed to understand them; – the fact is that, on second thought, could not close an eye all night!

Luckily the next night he went to bed at ten, and woke up the next morning at noon precise!

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