Cuore (Chapter 45)
Edmondo De Acimis
Who could have told me, when I returned from that delightful excursion with my father, that for ten days I should not see the country or the sky again? I have been very ill—in danger of my life. I have heard my mother sobbing—I have seen my father very, very pale, gazing intently at me; and my sister Silvia and my brother talking in a low voice; and the doctor, with his spectacles, who was there every moment, and who said things to me that I did not understand. In truth, I have been on the verge of saying a final farewell to everyone. Ah, my poor mother! I passed three or four days at least, of which I recollect almost nothing, as though I had been in a dark and perplexing dream. I thought I beheld at my bedside my kind schoolmistress of the upper primary, who was trying to stifle her cough in her handkerchief in order not to disturb me. In the same manner I confusedly recall my master, who bent over to kiss me, and who pricked my face a little with his beard; and I saw, as in a mist, the red head of Crossi, the golden curls of Derossi, the Calabrian clad in black, all pass by, and Garrone, who brought me a mandarin orange with its leaves, and ran away in haste because his mother is ill.
Then I awoke as from a very long dream, and understood that I was better from seeing my father and mother smiling, and hearing Silvia singing softly. Oh, what a sad dream it was! Then I began to improve every day. The little mason came and made me laugh once more for the first time, with his hare’s face; and how well he does it, now that his face is somewhat elongated through illness, poor fellow! And Coretti came; and Garoffi came to present me with two tickets in his new lottery of “a penknife with five surprises,” which he purchased of a second-hand dealer in the Via Bertola. Then, yesterday, while I was asleep, Precossi came and laid his cheek on my hand without waking me; and as he came from his father’s workshop, with his face covered with coal dust, he left a black print on my sleeve, the sight of which caused me great pleasure when I awoke.
How green the trees have become in these few days! And how I envy the boys whom I see running to school with their books when my father carries me to the window! But I shall go back there soon myself. I am so impatient to see all the boys once more, and my seat, the garden, the streets; to know all that has taken place during the interval; to apply myself to my books again, and to my copy-books, which I seem not to have seen for a year! How pale and thin my poor mother has grown! Poor father! how weary he looks! And my kind companions who came to see me and walked on tiptoe and kissed my brow! It makes me sad, even now, to think that one day we must part. Perhaps I shall continue my studies with Derossi and with some others; but how about all the rest? When the fourth grade is once finished, then good by! we shall never see each other again: I shall never see them again at my bedside when I am ill,—Garrone, Precossi, Coretti, who are such fine boys and kind and dear comrades,—never more!