Puslapio vaizdai

Cecco Remains

Drawings by Kerr EBY


HE man walked patiently along hungrily, gone back to the crowded

between the shafts of the little rooms of his son Carlo, and at night, in cart, his head bent against the cutting the bed he shared with Carlino and wind. His hair was thick with gray, Paolo and Pietro, his three youngest his brown face seamed, his shoulders grandsons, dreamed of what they said. were hopeless. Every now and then Most vividly did he dream of Tomasso he stopped and called in a hoarse voice: Soracco, father of Michele Soracco, the “Apples, hot potatoes, a penny. ” avvocato, beloved of the poor. In these Like an insect, dragging its home be- dreams Tomasso always leaned across hind, he trudged between the clanging the table, as he was doing now, shaking cars and the great trucks unloading his great, hairy fist in the faces of the before the factories. When some one others, roaring: called him, he turned and went back "It is as I say, and no more do I gratefully half a block to sell a shriv- waste time talking to the deaf. Is not eled apple or a soggy potato. When my own son, the avvocato, secretary of his hands grew too numb to feel the the company? Do not my words come shafts, he halted a moment to warm to you straight as water from a well? them over the rusty oven.

In five years, in less, I tell you again, Late in the afternoon the oven was you will own the land. Here in New empty. Cecco peered closely to make York, what have you? A home like a sure that not the smallest browned sardine in a can. The Americans know apple was left, drew a deep breath of nothing of the earth, but we! Back relief, which froze a moment later to beyond memory our fathers' fathers

' delicate frostwork on his grizzled dressed the vines and planted corn and mustache, then took a new grip on olives. Already I am old; I have althe shafts and hurried away. When ready the family grown. Or I, even I, he came to the bake-shop of il Sorcio, Tomasso Soracco, would go and dig in the Mouse, he drew the cart close to the fat earth with these hands." the wall, and went in.

"Bah!" Il Sorcio took the broad At the back of the shop, close to paddle from under the counter and the warm ovens, Cecco sat down. No went to turn his loaves in the oven. one paid any attention to him. The When a man comes to me with so four men arguing violently at the round many fine words and says, 'Dear table near the front counter went on friend, I wish this only for your happiwith their talk. Every day for a week ness,' I button the flap of the purse Cecco had come at this hour, listened tight. Why this fine scheme to give


us the fat land of America? Twenty When the edge of hunger had been years I have been in this country, and dulled, Carlo began to talk loudly, no one has given to me a cent. The working himself into a rage over the avvocato is a Christ with dreams.' happenings of the day. The new boss

"Holy Mother, pour oil on his heart, in the factory was a pig and the son of for it is stone!" Tomasso's beseeching a pig; Carlo cursed him, his ancestors hands sought it as a personal favor. and descendants, forever. Gemma lis“Only in the brain of a great man like tened dully, like a brown cow. When

a my son can such ideas come, but not Carlo had expended his fury, he seized even he can make such a one see the his hat and went out. Gemma cleared truth. Ecco! bake on, poor Mouse, but the table, spread clean newspapers, these others—” He turned to the two and emptied a mountain of violets. remaining, their brown, unshaven The old man and Gemma and all but faces cupped in their scarred palms. the two youngest children began si“In five years you can be padrone.” lently to work.

Their eyes were solemn with wonder. Spring came early. The days grew

“In one year I send for Nicolena and suddenly warm; babies sprawled in the the boy," said Felipe, softly.

gutters; high in the air women hung, "And no boss to say, 'Do this, do laughing and chattering, from the winthat, you Guinea.'Giacomo's head dows.

dows. Tomasso Soracco no longer wagged as if stricken to idiocy. talked in the bake-shop of il Sorcio.

Cecco half rose from his chair, then Many had heeded, and from time to sank back, huddling into the depths. time, when Cecco stopped in the weary He heard none of the mutterings of il trundling of his little cart to gossip, he Sorcio, turning the loaves near him. heard of them somewhere beyond the Wide land under the sun, open fields, river, living like Christians in little black earth, freedom!

houses and digging in the earth. Il Sorcio drew the hot loaves from It was the second week in April that the oven, and the shop was filled with Carlo came earlier than usual from the the sweet smell of fresh bread. Women wine-shop of Nicolo and said: came to buy, listened for a few mo- Babbo mio, there is no longer need ments to Tomasso, and went, longing for hot potatoes. I have arranged in their dark eyes, the huge loaves with Luigi, and to-morrow thou wilt swaying upon their heads. It was al- begin with the organ. I have paid most dark when Cecco went, unno- more, and it is better than that cursed ticed, as he had come.

instrument of last year, the one the When he had padlocked the cart to lying dog of a Genovese cheated us its iron ring in the basement wall, he with.” climbed the five flights to the floor “As thou sayest," answered Cecco, where he lived with his son Carlo, and went on making violets. Gemma, and their eight children. As he opened the door, Gemma put the

82 soup on the table. Carlo drew in his From early morning till late at night chair, the older children stood about Cecco pulled the organ, but day by the table, the younger fought over day the circle of his journeying widtheir meal, placed upon the floor. ened. He chose streets with budding

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trees, and cross-streets that ran to the had lived always with the air and sun. river. While he stood grinding the “When summer came he said again: wailing tunes into the clear spring blue, 'Babbo mio, next year I look to buy a he gazed across the shimmering water house. Every scudo helps. I have to the greening cliffs beyond. The rented an organ for thee. The work is shafts of the organ-cart seemed to easy.' I said nothing. In summer I crumble into soft, warm earth in his hold out the hat like a beggar—I who hands.

asked never of any man anything. At It was the middle of May, a warm fifty I grin like a monkey for a penny. day with soft breezes that flirted in and My Carlo is good, but, like a fish in a out of the open windows in the office of net, he is caught in this America. It Avvocato Soracco. Cecco sat respect- is a terrible country, your Excellency, fully upon the edge of the chair, his hat like living always under a master with in both hands, while the avvocato lis- a whip. I believe not even the blessed tened with quiet attention.

dead rest in peace in your campo santo. “I tell you, Excellency, the truth. And I, an old man, fifty next winter, I It is no longer possible. I am an old cannot run in the race. But since I man. For more than thirty years I must yet work, I will do the work of a worked like a dog. In the morning I man, not a slave.” was in the fields before the sun. I was "You want a farm, Cecco?happy. Four girls and five boys I have “Ah, your Excellency, that would given to the world, but of all, I loved be heaven, but it is not for me. I am best Carlo. He was so smart. When old, fifty years, Signor Avvocato; I am he came to America I was proud. poor; I have nothing. I ask only to do When he wrote of this wonderful coun- the work of a man. I would dig in the try, I ran with the letters to Beppo, earth until I have money to return to who can read, and I learned by heart the land of the sun, where men live what Carlo said, and told to others. like men, not like engines. Ecco, I Three years ago he wrote, "Come, make have taken much time from your Exthe home with me.'

cellency. Is it possible that you ar"I saw before the eyes a home with range it for me?”' my eldest. My work was done. I Cecco leaned forward, and wiped shall be fifty next winter, your Excel- his moist face on a yellow handkerlency. I would sit in the sun and chief, while his black eyes blinked teach his children the wisdom I had nervously, waiting the decision of the learned. Dio mio! dreams! dreams!" avvocato. At last the latter looked up. Before the memory Cecco blushed as if “I believe I can, Cecco. In six he had been found naked in a crowd. months Giuseppe Fabbri marries. Now “I came.

When I had been two he lives alone with his Sister Maria, months, he bought a little cart. and they wish a third to help till the Babbo,' he said, 'here is easy work. marriage. After that he needs no one; Thou also canst earn a little, and it with two women it will be enough. costs much to live in America.' Bene, They are good people. The pay is not I am proud; I took the cursed little much, but you have nothing to buy, cart. I dragged it like a beast up and and in six months, if you wish, you down the funnels of your streets—I who have the fare to return to Italy.”

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"May the holy saints protect and Out in the green fields Cecco dug guard your Excellency!" Cecco's deep into the soft, black earth. As he voice broke, and he rubbed the yellow dug, he sang low to himself a song that handkerchief across his eyes.

he had sung in his youth, that his "It is nothing. To-day I shall write father had sung, his father's father, to Giuseppe. In three days we shall and all the peasants of that Calabrian hear."

village back beyond the memory of Cecco rose.

man. "You have opened paradiso, signor,

Oh, those eyes so black, to an old man. And your Excellency

And those red lips that will mention it to no one_."

stab me! "As you wish, Cecco; as you wish."

Maria, the sister of Giuseppe, paused $ 3

in throwing the grain to the chickens, Four days later Gemma waited and hummed the words with Cecco. supper for Cecco. When it was very She was a heavy woman of forty, but late, and he did not come, they ate the black curls still clung close to her nervously, and afterward Carlo walked firm, brown neck, and her voice was till late in the streets, looking for him. full and strangely young. They sang Il Sorcio remembered an old man who it to the end, smiling; then Maria emphad come through the last cold weeks tied the pan of wheat and went back to of winter to keep warm by the ovens, the house. but since spring he had not been there. All through the long, hot summer They waited three days; then the police Cecco worked in the earth. In the took up the search. At the end of an- dusk of evening he sat with Giuseppe other week Gemma threw her apron and Maria on the kitchen porch. over her head and sat one whole after- Paolo and Giovanni came from the noon wailing in the kitchen: "He is next farm with mandolin and accordead; he is dead. The poor old one dion, and the three younger men sang has been killed, and they have buried songs, while Cecco and Maria listened him in Protestant ground."

---songs of passionate desire, young "Silence!" commanded Carlo. "He songs that beat and throbbed in the is not dead. We would hear. He has night long after they had gone. So lost the memory, as is often with the life ran happily until the land lay bare old. He has become a child. No one and the wedding of Giuseppe was only

. . would hurt an old man. He will be three weeks off. brought back. To-morrow I will give Already the sky pressed gray and a fine candle of the purest wax of the heavy upon the bare field. Splashes of Abruzzi to Saint Anthony that he find pale gold marked the flight of autumn him."

through the leafless trees. All day But the candle burned away, Cecco Giuseppe and Cecco cut wood against did not come, and the police forgot the coming winter, and Maria cleaned that they had ever been asked to look and polished the three rooms for the for an organ-grinder, aged fifty, with coming of the bride. In three weeks gray hair and mustache, answering to the snow might lie thick on the fields. the name of Cecco.

About the kitchen stove Giuseppe and

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