THE CALABRIAN BOY
Yesterday afternoon, while the master was telling us the news of poor Robetti, who will have to go on crutches, the director entered with a new pupil, a lad with a very brown face, black hair, large black eyes, and thick eyebrows which met on his forehead: he was dressed entirely in dark clothes, with a black morocco belt round his waist. The director went away, after speaking a few words in the master’s ear, leaving beside the latter the boy, who glanced about with his big black eyes as though frightened. The master took him by the hand, and said to the class: “You ought to be glad. To-day there enters our school a little Italian born in Reggio, in Calabria, more than five hundred miles from here. Love your brother who has come from so far away. He was born in a glorious land, which has given illustrious men to Italy, and which now furnishes her with stout laborers and brave soldiers; in one of the most beautiful lands of our country, where there are great forests, and great mountains, inhabited by people full of talent and courage. Treat him well, so that he shall not perceive that he is far away from the city in which he was born; make him see that an Italian boy, in whatever Italian school he sets his foot, will find brothers there.” So saying, he rose and pointed out on the wall map of Italy the spot where lay Reggio, in Calabria. Then he called loudly:—
“Ernesto Derossi!”—the boy who always has the first prize. Derossi rose.
“Come here,” said the master. Derossi left his bench and stepped up to the little table, facing the Calabrian.
“As the head boy in the school,” said the master to him, “bestow the embrace of welcome on this new companion, in the name of the whole class—the embrace of the sons of Piedmont to the son of Calabria.”
Derossi embraced the Calabrian, saying in his clear voice, “Welcome!” and the other kissed him impetuously on the cheeks. All clapped their hands. “Silence!” cried the master; “don’t clap your hands in school!” But it was evident that he was pleased. And the Calabrian was pleased also. The master assigned him a place, and accompanied him to the bench. Then he said again:—
“Bear well in mind what I have said to you. In order that this case might occur, that a Calabrian boy should be as though in his own house at Turin, and that a boy from Turin should be at home in Calabria, our country fought for fifty years, and thirty thousand Italians died. You must all respect and love each other; but any one of you who should give offence to this comrade, because he was not born in our province, would render himself unworthy of ever again raising his eyes from the earth when he passes the tricolored flag.”
Hardly was the Calabrian seated in his place, when his neighbors presented him with pens and a print; and another boy, from the last bench, sent him a Swiss postage-stamp.
Chapter 4 (Summary)
The Calabrian Boy
Saturday, the 22nd.
Yesterday afternoon my class had one more student. The boy came from Calabria which was more than five hundred miles from Torino and where residents were full of talent and courage. This glorious land had given celebrities, good laborers and brave soldiers to Italy. It was one of the most beautiful lands of our country with great forests and mountains.
The boy had a very brown face, black hair, large black eyes, and thick eyebrows. He was dressed in dark clothes with a black Moroccan belt around his waist. He glanced at us fearfully with his big black eyes. The teacher wanted us to treat him well and he wanted the boy to feel that our class was his home.
The teacher called Derossi who always was the best student to step up to the teacher’s desk and to face the Calabrian. The teacher told Derossi to give the boy an embrace of welcome on behalf of the whole class.
As Derossi embraced the Calabrian, he said in his clear voice, “Welcome!” and kissed him impetuously on the cheeks. We all clapped our hands. The teacher said not to clap hands in school, but he was pleased with our enthusiasm.
The teacher said that we must all respect and love each other. A Calabrian boy should be at home in Turin. A boy from Turin should be at home in Calabria. Our country fought for fifty years and thirty thousand Italians died. Anyone who offended our new friend would be unworthy of raising his face to look at the tri-colored flag.
When the Calabrian was at his seat, his neighbors gave him with pens and some pictures. Another boy from the last bench sent him a Swiss postage-stamp.