« AnkstesnisTęsti »
Domenica and Maria would plan the
Oh, those eyes so black,
sang Giuseppe, a few yards away, and brought down the ax with a ringing crash.
"Ben'; that is enough for to-day. To-morrow we finish. There is no danger to be cold, eh, Cecco?"
Cecco lifted a gnarled apple-trunk to the block and began chopping it into stove lengths.
chickens. The soup must be ready." Giuseppe threw down his ax, and went whistling to the house.
Cecco laid another stump on the block and attacked it savagely. The chips flew, and the wood was piled in the right lengths about the block. Standing near, Maria watched, and at last pleasure in Cecco's strokes moved her to speech.
"Thou art very strong, Cecco. It is a miracle at fifty that-"
Cecco threw down the ax and turned on her.
"Dost think at fifty the muscles run to water? Look!" He held his right arm toward her. "Feel!" The woman's work-scarred fingers closed over
"No, thou wilt be warm and happy the swelled muscles, and her small, -thou and-"
"In three weeks, Cecco!" Giuseppe looked across the field to the small white house where the evening lamp already beckoned across the cold twilight. "Three weeks, and nothing will be the same, Cecco." Giuseppe's eyes were grave. The usual merry twinkle was buried under the wonder of the future.
"It is strange, eh, Cecco, this love that drowns a man's heart? Hast not forgotten, Cecco?"
bright eyes gleamed approval.
"At fifty a man is not dead, Maria.
"For the sake of the gentle Gesu!" bellowed Giuseppe, from the kitchen door, "come and serve the soup. I have a hollow inside like a pagan's need of the holy church."
But for a moment longer Maria lingered.
"Ecco," she whispered, "it is true. We do not die because we have forty or fifty years. I know. When the Cecco kicked the pieces of wood mother put him into my arms and said, aside and shook his head. 'Care always for the little one,' I had "Dost look for the heart to die after only twelve years. For him I worked. twenty-five?"
"Just we two at first," Giuseppe went on softly, "and then others—strong sons to work the fields with me; for there will be many fields to work, Cecco, when Domenica and I are old." "May the good God send it!" Cecco answered shortly, and went on with the wood.
"Come, we have worked enough. See, Maria comes to shut in the
For him I dreamed to come to this country, where no longer he would be a peasant always under the padrone, but might have land of his own. Now he has the land. He loves me, but he thinks I am old-old-like"
"Ma-ri-a!" Giuseppe's voice carried across the fields and terrified resting cows to lumbering motion.
"Bene, bene; I come. Patience, famished one!" Maria plodded away.
When the soup and polenta were eaten to the last scrap, and the kitchen was spotless, Maria brought the roll of linen lace she was finishing for Domenica, and, drawing the lamp close, began to crochet. At the other end of the table Giuseppe grumbled as he searched for a mistake in a long column of figures. In a cleared space at one corner Cecco laid the cards in a complicated game of solitaire.
The fire breathed a low accompaniment to Giuseppe's smothered exclamations. Across the fields a dog barked, with the far, lonely sound of a house dog at night in open spaces. Maria's broad shoulders moved in the faintest rocking motion, so that from time to time her head came into the direct lamplight, and the tiny gold hoops in her ears twinkled.
Again and again Cecco's eyes moved from the cards to the glinting golden hoops in Maria's ears, to the heavy, brown hands that held the white lace lightly, to the full throat above the collarless waist. For an hour they sat so, then Giuseppe slammed the book shut.
"May I die sitting in this chair if I waste another moment looking for the mistake! As well look for a mustard seed in a barrel of corn." He got up and, crossing to the stove, stood with his back to the warmth, smiling at the other two. "Praise to the Holy Mother! Domenica has been to school and can make the figures. No more will I wear a hole in the head at this stupid business. Let Pietro keep the two dollars."
"Foolish one!" Maria dropped her work. "For a little trouble will lose two dollars! Dost think money grows on a bush? I will find the mistake. Not in the book, for I am stupid, but
in the head; I have there all the figures of the business."
"Bene, Little Mother, then thou and Cecco may keep the money. A new petticoat, a little extra tobacco, eh? But not another moment do I stay from the bed because of it."
When he was gone, Maria looked helplessly at Cecco.
"Since the wedding comes near he is like that, crazy almost. To throw away two dollars like water! Macché, when love burns in the heart, it seems also that it burns away the sense. He is like a baby. He needs me more even than when the mother put him in my arms." She picked up the lace and began working again. "He needs me, but he thinks to need nothing but Domenica. For a little while it is so, and then in truth he needs me no longer."
Maria tried to hold the smile and look bravely at Cecco, but the smile died, and the work dropped again to her lap. For Cecco was pushing the cards from him with trembling hands, and nowhere in the big kitchen could her eyes escape his. He came and stood close beside her, his hands motionless at his sides, his body bent forward. She could see the strong pulse throbbing in his throat and feel the suppressed passion in him enveloping her like a cloak.
She did not move except for the quick rising and falling of the deep breast.
"Mariaucc',"-it ran softly into the breathing of the fire,-"he no longer needs thee; but I need thee much-so much, cara."
Still she did not move. Cecco dropped clumsily to his knees.
"Mariauce'," he whispered hoarsely, "I love thee. Is it too much to ask that thou love also a little?" The pleading snapped in Cecco's voice; he gripped her shoulders. "It is not too much to ask? Look! I am not old. The fire is not out. For many years it is there, hidden under the ashes of loneliness. Now it rages. When I see thee moving in the house, outside, Dio! it is like a rat with the teeth in the heart. Mariaucc'-cara!"
Maria leaned to him.
"Thou hast lit the fire in my heart also, Cecco, for neither at forty is the heart of ice." She spoke softly, taking his grizzled face in her hands.
"A little farm-of-our own, Cecco, for you and me?”
"Most surely. For whom else?" The smile in Cecco's eyes spread to Maria's. He chuckled. In the deep bosom under the blue calico the chuckle echoed. He laughed aloud.
"'S-sh!" she cautioned. "We wake Giuseppe."
"Bene, is it a crime that our joy wakes another, so happy himself? Come, we will tell him."
But Maria's hand detained him.
Cecco leaned back, trembling. They it is only for thee and me. So many smiled at each other.
"No longer always the home of another, cara, not even of a brother or a son-our own home."
"It is possible that Giuseppe will give us the top floor of the barn; it is like a house."
"A fine barn, truly, little swallow," admitted Cecco, "but not for us. Look! Here in the pocket, sewed tight in the coat, I have it, every cent-the passage to Diamante. But no longer I wish the passage to Diamante, where one sits in the sun and talks of the past and grows old. No, to-morrow I go to the city, to Avvocato Soracco; he understands all things and will arrange. A
years! So many! Always the others
Cecco's hands trembled as he laid them gently on her shoulders. "Thou art right, carissima; so long, so long, the others!"
The woman's lips quivered.
"Us two alone! To grow young again-on our own land. It is too much, Cecco."
"It is not!" he cried harshly. Suddenly his eyes twinkled, and points of light danced all over his bronzed face. "Ecco, Mariaucc', for a little while thou and me alone; but afterward, perhaps if the good God wills-who knows? We are no longer old, carissima; we are no longer old!"
The Movies versus Motion Pictures
By RALPH BLOCK
HE movies need no defense, al- mother. All movies have these ele
Tthough much energy is spent in ments, and they are made so that any
damning them; but they do need to be understood. Millions of persons can still take them or leave them alone, but there are a few hundred thousand who are bent on building them up into a great national problem. The protestants are divided into three classes. One group is fascinated by the possibilities of motion photography, and would like to see the movies use to the utmost their potential artistic power. Another group is not stimulated any more by the platitudes on which most popular movie stories are built. It wants the movies to become more complex, more subtle, less commonplace. The third group sees youth corrupted, morality destroyed, beauty flouted, and taste ruined by the movies. Each has a good case, but excitement, moral exhortation, legal prohibition, will not help the movies. Only understanding will give all these different persons what they want.
The movies are not a fine art. They are a popular art. They tell fairystories for thirty million persons in the United States. The psychologists say fairy-stories are the day dreams of a people. The distinguishing characteristics of a fairy-story are a hero and a heroine. As a rule, there are dragons, magic swords, castles, good and bad fairies, and once in a while that extraordinarily potent figure, the fairy god
one who wants to be a hero or a heroine, or even a dragon, can put himself into the part and get almost as much enjoyment as if he were really having all these adventures.
As a piece of machinery, modern life works only fairly well, but as an amusement, it does n't come within hailing distance of success. The creative energies, the imaginations, of these standardized human beings who make it go, are constantly trying to find an outlet. Some get it in prize-fighting, base-ball, the theater, lodges, politics, newspapers; but they find it most of all in the movies. During the day George and Nellie may be as faithful and standardized as the rules demand, but at the movies in the evening they can break all the rules pertaining to vamping, dragon-killing, treasurehunting, and leave the theater absolutely spotless so far as the law and the city ordinances are concerned.
To meet this constant demand for adventure arising out of the sameness of modern life, the movies have become established as a great industrial and business enterprise.
Actually, the movie-maker is not so unidealistic as his works would tend to show him. He has a normal pride in the character of his accomplishment. He cannot forget, however, that the best guaranty of a profit is to follow