Cuore (Chapter 60)
Edmondo De Acimis
THE LAST PAGE FROM MY MOTHER
SO the year has come to an end, Enrico, and it is well that you should be left on the last day with the image of the sublime child, who gave his life for his friend. You are now about to part from your teachers and companions, and I must impart to you some sad news. The separation will last not three months, but forever. Your father, for reasons connected with his profession, is obliged to leave Turin, and we are all to go with him.
We shall go next autumn. You will have to enter a new school. You are sorry for this, are you not? For I am sure that you love your old school, where twice a day, for the space of four years, you have experienced the pleasure of working, where for so long a time, you have seen, at stated hours, the same boys, the same teachers, the same parents, and your own father or mother awaiting you with a smile; your old school, where your mind first unclosed, where you have found so many kind companions, where every word that you have heard has had your good for its object, and where you have not suffered a single displeasure which has not been useful to you! Then bear this affection with you, and bid these boys a hearty farewell. Some of them will experience misfortunes, they will soon lose their fathers and mothers; others will die young; others, perhaps, will nobly shed their blood in battle; many will become brave and honest workmen, the fathers of honest and industrious workmen like themselves; and who knows whether there may not also be among them one who will render great services to his country, and make his name glorious. Then part from them with affection; leave a portion of your soul here, in this great family into which you entered as a baby, and from which you emerge a young lad, and which your father and mother loved so dearly, because you were so much beloved by it.
School is a mother, my Enrico. It took you from my arms when you could hardly speak, and now it returns you to me, strong, good, studious; blessings on it, and may you never forget it more, my son. Oh, it is impossible that you should forget it! You will become a man, you will make the tour of the world, you will see immense cities and wonderful monuments, and you will remember many among them; but that modest white edifice, with those closed shutters and that little garden, where the first flower of your intelligence budded, you will perceive until the last day of your life, as I shall always behold the house in which I heard your voice for the first time.