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Full text of "Sea and Sardinia"

SEA AND SARDINIA 

By D.H.LAWRENCE 




Jan Jut? 



Illustrate^ 

. 

with. 8 pictures j n full color 

by JAN JUTA 

and With a map/bf Sardinia by the author. 



$5.00 






X LIBR.IS 







O H N 

L E N 
4ARINER, 




SEA AND SARDINIA 




OROSEI 



Jan Juta 



SEA AND SARDINIA 



BY 

D. H. LAWRENCE 



WITH EIGHT PICTURES 
IN COLOR BY 



JAN JUTA 




NEW YORK 

THOMAS SELTZER 
1921 



COPYRIG HT, Ip2I , BY 
THOMAS SELTZER, INC 

All rights reserved 



Printed in the United States of America 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

I. As FAR AS PALERMO 1 1 

II. THE SEA 44 

III. CAGLIARI . 99 

IV. MANDAS 127 

V. To SORGONO 154 

VI. To NUORO 212 

VII. To TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER . 260 

VIII. BACK 312 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 
OROSEI Frontispiece 

FACING PAGE 

MAP By D. H. Lawrence 44 

ISILI 100 

TONARA ........... 148 

SORGONO 1 8O 

FONNI 2O4 

GAVOI 236 

NUORO . 268 

TERRANOVA 300 



SEA AND SARDINIA 



SEA AND SARDINIA 
i. 

AS FAR AS PALERMO. 

COMES over one an absolute necessity to move. 
And what is more, to move in some particular 
direction. A double necessity then: to get 
on the move, and to know whither. 

Why can't one sit still? Here in Sicily it is so pleas- 
ant: the sunny Ionian sea, the changing jewel of Cala- 
bria, like a fire-opal moved in the light ; Italy and the 
parorama of Christmas clouds, night with the dog-star 
laying a long, luminous gleam across the sea, as if 
baying at us, Orion marching above j how the dog-star 
Sirius looks at one, looks at one! he is the hound of 
heaven, green, glamorous and fierce! and then oh 
regal evening star, hung westward flaring over the 
jagged dark precipices of tall Sicily: then Etna, that 
wicked witch, resting her thick white snow under 
heaven, and slowly, slowly rolling her orange-coloured 
smoke. They called her the Pillar of Heaven, the 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

Greeks. It seems wrong at first, for she trails up in 
a long, magical, flexible line from the sea's edge to 
her blunt cone, and does not seem tall. She seems 
rather low, under heaven. But as one knows her 
better, oh awe and wizardy! Remote under heaven, 
aloof, so near, yet never with us. The painters try 
to paint her, and the photographers to photograph her, 
in vain. Because why? Because the near ridges, with 
their olives and white houses, these are with us. Be- 
cause the river-bed, and Naxos under the lemon groves, 
Greek Naxos deep under dark-leaved, many-fruited 
lemon groves, Etna's skirts and skirt-bottoms, these still 
are our world, our own world. Even the high villages 
among the oaks, on Etna. But Etna herself, Etna of 
the snow and secret changing winds, she is beyond a 
crystal wall. When I look at her, low, white, witch- 
like under heaven, slowly rolling her orange smoke 
and giving sometimes a breath of rose-red flame, then 
I must look away from earth, into the ether, into the 
low empyrean. And there, in that remote region, Etna 
is alone. If you would see her, you must slowly take 
off your eyes from the world and go a naked seer to the 
strange chamber of the empyrean. Pedestal of heaven! 
The Greeks had a sense of the magic truth of things. 
Thank goodness one still knows enough about them to 
find one's kinship at last. There are so many photo- 

[ 12 ] 



AS FAR AS PALERMO 

graphs, there are so infinitely many water-colour draw- 
ings and oil paintings which purport to render Etna. 
But pedestal of heaven! You must cross the invisible 
border. Between the foreground, which is our own, 
and Etna, pivot of winds in lower heaven, there is a 
dividing line. You must change your state of mind. 
A metempsychosis. It is no use thinking you can see 
and behold Etna and the foreground both at once. 
Never. One or the other. Foreground and a tran- 
scribed Etna. Or Etna, pedestal of heaven. 

Why, then, must one go? Why not stay? Ah, what 
a mistress, this Etna! with her strange winds prowling 
round her like Circe's panthers, some black, some white. 
With her strange, remote communications and her ter- 
rible dynamic exhalations. She makes men mad. Such 
terrible vibrations of wicked and beautiful electricity 
she throws about her, like a deadly net! Nay, some- 
times, verily, one can feel a new current of her demon 
magnetism seize one's living tissue and change the 
peaceful life of one's active cells. She makes a storm 
in the living plasm and a new adjustment. And some- 
times it is like a madness. 

This timeless Grecian Etna, in her lower-heaven 
loveliness, so lovely, so lovely, what a torturer! Not 
many men can really stand her, without losing their 
souls. She is like Circe. Unless a man is very strong, 

[ 13 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

she takes his soul away from him and leaves him not 
a beast, but an elemental creature, intelligent and soul- 
less. Intelligent, almost inspired, and soulless, like the 
Etna Sicilians. Intelligent daimons, and humanly, 
according to us, the most stupid people on earth. Ach, 
horror! How many men, how many races, has Etna 
put to flight? It was she who broke the quick of the 
Greek soul. And after the Greeks, she gave the 
Romans, the Normans, the Arabs, the Spaniards, the 
French, the Italians, even the English, she gave them 
all their inspired hour and broke their souls. 

Perhaps it is she one must flee from. At any rate, 
one must go: and at once. After having come back 
only at the end of October, already one must dash 
away. And it is only the third of January. And one 
cannot afford to move. Yet there you are: at the 
Etna bidding one goes. 

Where does one go? There is Girgenti by the south. 
There is Tunis at hand. Girgenti, and the sulphur 
spirit and the Greek guarding temples, to make one 
madder? Never. Neither Syracuse and the madness 
of its great quarries. Tunis? Africa? Not yet, Not 
yet. Not the Arabs, not yet. Naples, Rome, Florence? 
No good at all. Where then? 

Where then? Spain or Sardinia. Spain or Sardinia. 



AS FAR AS PALERMO 

Sardinia, which is like nowhere. Sardinia, which has 
no history, no date, no race, no offering. Let it be 
Sardinia. They say neither Romans nor Phoenicians, 
Greeks nor Arabs ever subdued Sardinia. It lies out- 
side ; outside the circuit of civilisation. Like the 
Basque lands. Sure enough, it is Italian now, with its 
railways and its motor-omnibuses. But there is an 
uncaptured Sardinia still. It lies within the net of this 
Eureopean civilisation, but it isn't landed yet. And the 
net is getting old and tattered. A good many fish are 
slipping through the net of the old European civilisa- 
tion. Like that great whale of Russia. And probably 
even Sardinia. Sardinia then. Let it be Sardinia. 

There is a fortnightly boat sailing from Palermo 
next Wednesday, three days ahead. Let us go, then. 
Away from abhorred Etna, and the Ionian sea, and 
these great stars in the water, and the almond trees in 
bud, and the orange trees heavy with red fruit, and 
these maddening, exasperating, impossible Sicilians, 
who never knew what truth was and have long lost 
all notion of what a human being is. A sort of sul- 
phureous demons. Andiamo! 

But let me confess, in parenthesis, that I am not at 
all sure whether I don't really prefer these demons 
to our sanctified humanity. 

[ 15 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

Why does one create such discomfort for oneself! 
To have to get up in the middle of the night half past 
one to go and look at the clock. Of course this fraud 
of an American watch has stopped, with its impudent 
phosphorescent face. Half past one! Half past one, 
and a dark January night. Ah, well! Half past one! 
And an uneasy sleep till at last it is five o'clock. Then 
light a candle and get up. 

The dreary black morning, the candle-light, the 
house looking night-dismal. Ah, well, one does all 
these things for one's pleasure. So light the charcoal 
fire and put the kettle on. The queen bee shivering 
round half dressed, fluttering her unhappy candle. 

"It's fun," she says, shuddering. 

"Great," say I, grim as death. 

First fill the thermos with hot tea. Then fry bacon 
good English bacon from Malta, a god-send, in- 
deed and make bacon sandwiches. Make also sand- 
wiches of scrambled eggs. Make also bread and butter. 
Also a little toast for breakfast and more tea. But 
ugh, who wants to eat at this unearthly hour, especially 
when one is escaping from bewitched Sicily. 

Fill the little bag we call the kitchenino. Methy- 
lated spirit, a small aluminium saucepan, a spirit-lamp, 
two spoons, two forks, a knife, two aluminium plates, 
salt, sugar, tea what else? The thermos flask, the 

[ 16 ] 



AS FAR AS PALERMO 

various sandwiches, four apples, and a little tin of 
butter. So much for the kitchenino, for myself and 
the queen bee. Then my knapsack and the q-b's 
handbag. 

Under the lid of the half-cloudy night sky, far 
away at the rim of the Ionian sea, the first light, like 
metal fusing. So swallow the cup of tea and the bit 
of toast. Hastily wash up, so that we can find the 
house decent when we come back. Shut the door- 
windows of the upper terrace and go down. Lock the 
door: the upper half of the house made fast. 

The sky and sea are parting like an oyster shell, with 
a low red gape. Looking across from the veranda 
at it, one shivers. Not that it is cold. The morning 
is not at all cold. But the ominousness of it: that long 
red slit between a dark sky and a dark Ionian sea, ter- 
rible old bivalve which has held life between its lips 
so long. And here, at this house, we are ledged so 
awfully above the dawn, naked to it. 

Fasten the door-windows of the lower veranda. 
One won't fasten at all. The summer heat warped 
it one way, the masses of autumn rain warped it 
another. Put a chair against it. Lock the last door 
and hide the key. Sling the knapsack on one's back, 
take the kitchenino in one's hand and look round. The 
dawn-red widening, between the purpling sea and the 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

troubled sky. A light in the capucin convent across 
there. Cocks crowing and the long, howling, hiccup- 
ing, melancholy bray of an ass. "All females are dead, 
all females-och! och! och! hoooo! Ahaa! there's 
one left." So he ends on a moaning grunt of consola- 
tion. This is what the Arabs tell us an ass is howling 
when he brays. 

Very dark under the great carob tree as we go down 
the steps. Dark still the garden. Scent of mimosa, 
and then of jasmine. The lovely mimosa tree in- 
visible. Dark the stony path. The goat whinnies out 
of her shed. The broken Roman tomb which lolls 
right over the garden track does not fall on me as I 
slip under its massive tilt. Ah, dark garden, dark 
garden, with your olives and your wine, your medlars 
and mulberries and many almond trees, your steep 
terraces ledged high up above the sea, I am leaving 
you, slinking out. Out between the rosemary hedges, 
out of the tall gate, on to the cruel steep stony road. 
So under the dark, big eucalyptus trees, over the 
stream, and up towards the village. There, I have 
got so far. 

It is full dawn dawn, not morning, the sun will 
not have risen. The village is nearly all dark in the 

t 18 ] 



AS FAR AS PALERMO 

red light, and asleep still. No one at the fountain by 
the capucin gate: too dark still. One man leading a 
horse round the corner of the Palazzo Corvaia. One 
or two dark men along the Corso. And so over the 
brow, down the steep cobble-stone street between the 
houses, and out to the naked hill front. This is the 
dawn-coast of Sicily. Nay, the dawn-coast of Europe. 
Steep, like a vast cliff, dawn-forward. A red dawn, 
with mingled curdling dark clouds, and some gold. 
It must be seven o'clock. The station down below, 
by the sea. And noise of a train. Yes, a train. And 
we still high on the steep track, winding downwards. 
But it is the train from Messina to Catania, half an 
hour before ours, which is from Catania to Messina. 

So jolt, and drop, and jolt down the old road that 
winds on the cliff face. Etna across there is smothered 
quite low, quite low in a dense puther of ink-black 
clouds. Playing some devilry in private, no doubt. 
The dawn is angry red, and yellow above, the sea takes 
strange colors. I hate the station, pigmy, drawn out 
there beside the sea. On this steep face, especially in 
the windless nooks, the almond blossom is already out. 
In little puffs and specks and stars, it looks very like 
bits of snow scattered by winter. Bits of snow, bits 
of blossom, fourth day of the year 1921. Only bios- 

[ 19 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

som. And Etna indescribably cloaked and secretive in 
her dense black clouds. She has wrapped them quite 
round her, quite low round her skirts. 

At last we are down. We pass the pits where men 
are burning lime red-hot, round pits and are out on 
the highway. Nothing can be more depressing than an 
Italian high-road. From Syracuse to Airolo it is the 
same: horrible, dreary, slummy high-roads the moment 
you approach a village or any human habitation. Here 
there is an acrid smell of lemon juice. There is a fac- 
tory for making citrate. The houses flush on the road, 
under the great limestone face of the hill, open their 
slummy doors, and throw out dirty water and coffee 
dregs. We walk over the dirty water and coffee dregs. 
Mules rattle past with carts. Other people are going 
to the station. We pass the Dazio and are there. 

Humanity is, externally, too much alike. Internally 
there are insuperable differences. So one sits and 
thinks, watching the people on the station: like a line 
of caricatures between oneself and the naked sea and 
the uneasy, clouding dawn. 

You would look in vain this morning for the swarthy 
feline southerner of romance. It might, as far as 
features are concerned, be an early morning crowd 

[ 20] 



AS FAR AS PALERMO 

waiting for the train on a north London suburb station. 
As far as features go. For some are fair and some 
colorless and none racially typical. The only one that 
is absolutely like a race caricature is a tall stout elderly 
fellow with spectacles and a short nose and a bristling 
moustache, and he is the German of the comic papers 
of twenty years ago. But he is pure Sicilian. 

They are mostly young fellows going up the line to 
Messina to their job: not artizans, lower middle class. 
And externally, so like any other clerks and shop- 
men, only rather more shabby, much less socially self- 
conscious. They are lively, they throw their arms 
round one another's necks, they all but kiss.- One poor 
chap has had earache, so a black kerchief is tied round 
his face, and his black hat is perched above, and a comic 
sight he looks. No one seems to think so, however. 
Yet they view my arrival with a knapsack on my back 
with cold disapprobation, as unseemly as if I had 
arrived riding on a pig. I ought to be in a carriage, 
and the knapsack ought to be a new suitcase. I know 
it, but am inflexible. 

That is how they are. Each one thinks he is as 
handsome as Adonis, and as "fetching" as Don Juan. 
Extraordinary! At the same time, all flesh is grass, 
and if a few trouser-buttons are missing or if a black 
hat perches above a thick black face-muffle and a long 

[ 21 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

excruciated face, it is all in the course of nature. They 
seize the black-edged one by the arm, and in profound 
commiseration: "Do you suffer? Are you suffering?" 
they ask. 

And that also is how they are. So terribly physically 
all over one another. They pour themselves one over 
the other like so much melted butter over parsnips. 
They catch each other under the chin, with a tender 
caress of the hand, and they smile with sunny melting 
tenderness into each other's face. Never in the world 
have I seen such melting gay tenderness as between 
casual Sicilians on railway platforms, whether they be 
young lean-cheeked Sicilians or huge stout Sicilians. 

There must be something curious about the proximity 
of a volcano. Naples and Catania alike, the men are 
hugely fat, with great macaroni paunches, they are 
expansive and in a perfect drip of casual affection and 
love. But the Sicilians are even more wildly exur- 
berant and fat and all over one another than the Nea- 
politans. They never leave off being amorously 
friendly with almost everybody, emitting a relentless 
physical familiarity that is quite bewildering to one 
not brought up near a volcano. 

This is more true of the middle classes than of the 
lower. The working men are perforce thinner and 



AS FAR AS PALERMO 

less exuberant. But they hang together in clusters, 
and can never be physically near enough. 

It is only thirty miles to Messina, but the train takes 
two hours. It winds and hurries and stops beside the 
lavender grey morning sea. A flock of goats trail over 
the beach near the lapping wave's edge, dismally. 
Great wide deserts of stony river-beds run down to the 
sea, and men 1 on asses are picking their way across, and 
women are kneeling by the small stream-channel wash- 
ing clothes. The lemons hang pale and innumerable 
in the thick lemon groves. Lemon trees, like Italians, 
seem to be happiest when they are touching one another 
all round. Solid forests of not very tall lemon trees 
lie between the steep mountains and the sea, on the 
strip of plain. Women, vague in the orchard under- 
shadow, are picking the lemons, lurking as if in the 
undersea. There are heaps of pale yellow lemons 
under the trees. They look like pale, primrose-smoul- 
dering fires. Curious how like fires the heaps of lemons 
look, under the shadow of foliage, seeming to give off 
a pallid burning amid the suave, naked, greenish trunks. 
When there comes a cluster of orange trees, the oranges 
are red like coals among the darker leaves. But lemons, 
lemons, innumerable, speckled like innumerable tiny 
stars in the green firmament of leaves. So many 

[ 23 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

lemons! Think of all the lemonade crystals they will 
be reduced to! Think of America drinking them up 

next summer. 

tr 

I always wonder why such vast wide river-beds of 
pale boulders come out of the heart of the high-rearing, 
dramatic stone mountains, a few miles to the sea. A 
few miles only: and never more than a few threading 
water- trickles in river-beds wide enough for the Rhine. 
But that is how it is. The landscape is ancient, and 
classic romantic, as if it had known far-off days and 
fiercer rivers and more verdure. Steep, craggy, wild, 
the land goes up to its points and precipices, a tangle of 
heights. But all jammed on top of one another. And 
in old landscapes, as in old people, the flesh wears away, 
and the bones become prominent. Rock sticks up fan- 
tastically. The jungle of peaks in this old Sicily. 

The sky is all grey. The Straits are grey. Reggio, 
just across the water, is white looking, under the great 
dark toe of Calabria, the toe of Italy. On Aspromonte 
there is grey cloud. It is going to rain. After such 
marvelous ringing blue days, it is going to rain. What 
luck! 

I 

Aspromonte! Garibaldi! I could always cover my 



AS FAR AS PALERMO 

face when I see it, Aspromonte. I wish Garibaldi had 
been prouder. Why did he go off so humbly, with his 
bag of seed-corn and a flea in his ear, when His 
Majesty King Victor Emmanuel arrived with his little 
short legs on the scene. Poor Garibaldi ! He wanted to 
be a hero and a dictator of free Sicily. Well, one can't 
be a dictator and humble at the same time. One must 
be a hero, which he was, and proud, which he wasn't. 
Besides people don't nowadays choose proud heroes for 
governors. Anything but. They prefer constitutional 
monarchs, who are paid servants and who know it. 
That is democracy. Democracy admires its own ser- 
vants and nothing else. And you couldn't make a real 
servant even of Garibaldi. Only of His Majesty King 
Victor Emmanuel. So Italy chose Victor Emmanuel, 
and Garibaldi went off with a corn bag and a whack 
on the behind like a humble ass. 

It is raining dismally, dismally raining. And this 
is Messina coming. Oh horrible Messina, earthquake- 
shattered and renewing your youth like a vast mining 
settlement, with rows and streets and miles of concrete 
shanties, squalor and a big street with shops and gaps 
and broken houses still, just back of the tram-lines, 
and a dreary squalid earthquake-hopeless port in a 
lovely harbor. People don't forget and don't recover. 

[ 25 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

The people of Messina seem to be today what they 
were nearly twenty years ago, after the earthquake: 
people who have had a terrible shock, and for whom 
all life's institutions are really nothing, neither civili- 
zation nor purpose. The meaning of everything all 
came down with a smash in that shuddering earthquake, 
and nothing remains but money and the throes of some 
sort of sensation. Messina between the volcanoes, 
Etna and Stromboli, having known the death-agony's 
terror. I always dread coming near the awful place, 
yet I have found the people kind, almost feverishly so, 
as if they knew the awful need for kindness. 

Raining, raining hard. Clambering down on to the 
wet platform and walking across the wet lines to the 
cover. Many human beings scurrying across the wet 
lines, among the wet trains, to get out into the ghastly 
town beyond. Thank heaven one need not go out into 
the town. Two convicts chained together among the 
crowd and two soldiers. The prisoners wear fawny 
homespun clothes, of cloth such as the peasants weave, 
with irregularly occurring brown stripes. Rather nice 
handmade rough stuff. But linked together, dear God! 
And those horrid caps on their hairless foreheads. No 
hair. Probably they are going to a convict station on 
the Lipari islands. The people take no notice. 

[ 26 ] 



AS FAR AS PALERMO 

No, but convicts are horrible creatures: at least, the 
old one is, with his long, nasty face: his long, clean- 
shaven, horrible face, without emotions, or with 
emotions one cannot follow. Something cold, sightless. 
A sightless, ugly look. I should loathe to have to touch 
him. Of the other I am not so sure. He is younger, 
and with dark eyebrows. But a roundish, softish face, 
with a sort of leer. No, evil is horrible. I used to 
think there was no absolute evil. Now I know there 
is a great deal. So much that it threatens life alto- 
gether. That ghastly abstractness of criminals. They 
don't know any more what other people feel. Yet 
some horrible force drives them. 

It is a great mistake to abolish the death penalty. 
If I were dictator, I should order the old one to be 
hung at once. I should have judges with sensitive, 
living hearts: not abstract intellects. And because the 
instinctive heart recognised a man as evil, I would have 
that man destroyed. Quickly. Because good warm life 
is now in danger. 

Standing on Messina station dreary, dreary hole 
and watching the winter rain and seeing the pair of 
convicts, I must remember again Oscar Wilde on Read- 
ing platform, a convict. What a terrible mistake, to 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

let oneself be martyred by a lot of canaille. A man 
must say his say. But noli me tangere. 

Curious these people are. Up and down, up and 
down go a pair of officials. The young one in a black 
gold-laced cap talks to the elder in a scarlet gold-laced 
cap. And he walks, the young one, with a mad little 
hop, and his fingers fly as if he wanted to scatter them 
to the four winds of heaven, and his words go off like 
fireworks, with more than Sicilian speed. On and on, 
up and down, and his eye is dark and excited and un- 
seeing, like the eye of a fleeing rabbit. Strange and 
beside itself is humanity. 

What a lot of officials! You know them by their 
caps. Elegant tubby little officials in kid-and-patent 
boots and gold-laced caps, tall long-nosed ones in more 
gold-laced caps, like angels in and out of the gates of 
heaven they thread in and out of the various doors. As 
far as I can see, there are three scarlet station-masters, 
five black-and-gold substation-masters, and a countless 
number of principalities and powers in more or less 
broken boots and official caps. They are like bees 
round a hive, humming in an important conversazione, 
and occasionally looking at some paper or other, and 
extracting a little official honey. But the conversazione 
is the affair of affairs. To an Italian official, life seems 



AS FAR AS PALERMO 

to be one long and animated conversation the Italian 
word is better interrupted by casual trains and tele- 
phones. And besides the angels of heaven's gates, there 
are the mere ministers, porters, lamp-cleaners, etc. 
These stand in groups and talk socialism. A lamp- 
man slashes along, swinging a couple of lamps. Bashes 
one against a barrow. Smash goes the glass. Looks 
down as if to say, What do you mean by it? Glances 
over his shoulder to see if any member of the higher 
hierarchies is looking. Seven members of higher hier- 
archies are assiduously not looking. On goes the min- 
ister with the lamp, blithely. Another pane or two 
gone. Vogue la galere. 

Passengers have gathered again, some in hoods, some 
in nothing. Youths in thin, paltry clothes stand out 
in the pouring rain as if they did not know it was rain- 
ing. One sees their coat-shoulders soaked. And yet 
they do not trouble to keep under shelter. Two large 
station dogs run about and trot through the standing 
trains, just like officials. They climb up the footboard, 
hop into a train and hop out casually when they feel 
like it. Two or three port-porters, in canvas hats as 
big as umbrellas, literally, spreading like huge fins over 
their shoulders, are looking into more empty trains. 
More and more people appear. More and more official 
caps stand about. It rains and rains. The train for 

[ 29 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

Palermo and the train for Syracuse are both an hour 
late already, coming from the port. Flea-bite. 
Though these are the great connections from Rome. 

Loose locomotives trundle back and forth, vaguely, 
like black dogs running and turning back. The port is 
only four minutes' walk. If it were not raining so hard, 
we would go down, walk along the lines and get into 
the waiting train down there. Anybody may please 
himself. There is the funnel of the great unwieldy 
ferry-object she is just edging in. That means the 
connection from the mainland at last. But it is cold, 
standing here. We eat a bit of bread and butter from 
the kitchenino in resignation. After all, what is an 
hour and a half? It might just as easily be five hours, 
as it was the last time we came down from Rome. And 
the wagon-tit y booked to Syracuse, calmly left stranded 
in the station of Messina, to go no further. All get 
out and find yourselves rooms for the night in vile 
Messina. Syracuse or no Syracuse, Malta boat or no 
Malta boat. We are the Ferrovia dello Stato. 

But there, why grumble. Noi Italiani siamo cosi 
buoni. Take it from their own mouth. 

Ecco! Finalmente! The crowd is quite joyful as 
the two express trains surge proudly in, after their 
half-a-mile creep. Plenty of room, for once. Though 

[ 30 ] 



AS FAR AS PALERMO 

the carriage floor is a puddle, and the roof leaks. This 
is second class. 

Slowly, with two engines, we grunt and chuff and 
twist to get over the break-neck heights that shut Mes- 
sina in from the north coast. The windows are opaque 
with steam and drops of rain. No matter tea from 
the thermos flask, to the great interest of the other two 
passengers who had nervously contemplated the un- 
known object. 

"Ha!" says he with joy, seeing the hot tea come out. 
"It has the appearance of a bomb." 

"Beautiful hot! " says she, with real admiration. All 
apprehension at once dissipated, peace reigns in the wet, 
mist-hidden compartment. We run through miles and 
miles of tunnel. The Italians have made wonderful 
roads and railways. 

If one rubs the window and looks out, lemon groves 
with many wet-white lemons, earthquake broken 
houses, new shanties, a grey weary sea on the right 
hand, and on the left the dim, grey complication of 
steep heights from which issue stone river-beds of in- 
ordinate width, and sometimes a road, a man on a mule. 
Sometimes near at hand, long-haired, melancholy goats 
leaning sideways like tilted ships under the eaves of 

[ 31 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

some scabby house. They call the house-eaves the 
dogs' umbrellas. In town you see the dogs trotting 
close under the wall out of the wet. Here the goats 
lean like rock, listing inwards to the plaster wall. Why 
look out? 

Sicilian railways are all single line. Hence, the 
coincidenza. A coincidenza is where two trains meet 
in a loop. You sit in a world of rain and waiting until 
some silly engine with four trucks puffs alongside. 
Ecco la coincidenza! Then after a brief conversazione 
between the two trains, diretto and merce y express and 
goods, the tin horn sounds and away we go, happily, 
towards the next coincidence. Clerks away ahead joy- 
fully chalk up our hours of lateness on the announce- 
ment slate. All adds to the adventurous flavour of the 
journey, dear heart. We come to a station where we 
find the other diretto, the express from the other direc- 
tion, awaiting our coincidential arrival. The two trains 
run alongside one another, like two dogs meeting in 
the street and snuffing one another. Every official 
rushes to greet every other official, as if they were all 
David and Jonathan meeting after a crisis. They rush 
into each other's arms and exchange cigarettes. And 
the trains can't bear to part. And the station can't bear 
to part with us. The officials tease themselves and us 
with the word pronto, meaning ready! Pronto! And 

[ 32 ] 



AS FAR AS PALERMO 

again Pronto! And shrill whistles. Anywhere else a 
train would go off its tormented head. But no! Here 
only that angel's trump of an official little horn will do 
the business. And get them to blow that horn if you 
can. They can't bear to part. 

Rain, continual rain, a level grey wet sky, a level 
grey wet sea, a wet and misty train winding round and 
round the little bays, diving through tunnels. Ghosts 
of the unpleasant-looking Lipari islands standing a 
little way out to sea, heaps of shadow deposited like 
rubbish heaps in the universal greyness. 

Enter more passengers. An enormously large 
woman with an extraordinarily handsome face: an ex- 
traordinarily large man, quite young: and a diminutive 
servant, a little girl-child of about thirteen, with a beau- 
tiful face. But the Juno it is she who takes my 
breath away. She is quite young, in her thirties still. 
She has that queenly stupid beauty of a classic Hera: 
a pure brow with level dark brows, large, dark, bridling 
eyes, a straight nose, a chiselled mouth, an air of remote 
self-consciousness. She sends one's heart straight back 
to pagan days. And and she is simply enormous, 
like a house. She wears a black toque with sticking-up 
wings, and a black rabbit fur spread on her shoulders, 

[ 33 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

She edges her way in carefully: and once seated, is ter- 
rified to rise to her feet. She sits with that motionless- 
ness of her type, closed lips, face muted and expres- 
sionless. And she expects me to admire her: I can see 
that. She expects me to pay homage to her beauty: 
just to that: not homage to herself, but to her as a bel 
'pezzo. She casts little aloof glances at me under her 
eyelids. 

It is evident she is a country beauty become a bour- 
geoise. She speaks unwillingly to the other squint- 
eyed passenger, a young woman who also wears a black- 
rabbit fur, but without pretensions. 

The husband of Juno is a fresh-faced bourgeois 
young fellow, and he also is simply huge. His waist- 
coat would almost make the overcoat of the fourth 
passenger, the unshaven companion of the squinting 
young woman. The young Jupiter wears kid gloves: 
a significant fact here. He, too, has pretensions. But 
he is quite affable with the unshaven one, and speaks 
Italian unaffectedly. Whereas Juno speaks the dialect 
with affectation. 

No one takes any notice of the little maid. She has 
a gentle, virgin moon-face, and those lovely grey 
Sicilian eyes that are translucent, and into which the 
light sinks and becomes black sometimes, sometimes 
dark blue. She carries the bag and the extra coat of 

[ 34 ] 



AS FAR AS PALERMO 

the huge Juno, and sits on the edge of the seat between 
me and the unshaven, Juno having motioned her there 
with a regal inclination of the head. 

The little maid is rather frightened. Perhaps she is 
an orphan child probably. Her nut-brown hair is 
smoothly parted and done in two pigtails. She wears 
no hat, as is proper for her class. On her shoulders 
one of those little knitted grey shoulder-capes that one 
associates with orphanages. Her stuff dress is dark 
grey, her boots are strong. 

The smooth, moon-like, expressionless virgin face, 
rather pale and touching, rather frightened, of the girl- 
child. A perfect face from a mediaeval picture. It 
moves one strangely. Why? It is so unconscious, as 
we are conscious. Like a little muted animal it sits 
there, in distress. She is going to be sick. She goes 
into the corridor and is sick very sick, leaning her head 
like a sick dog on the window-ledge. Jupiter towers 
above her not unkind, and apparently feeling no re- 
pugnance. The physical convulsion of the girl does 
not affect him as it affects us. He looks on unmoved, 
merely venturing to remark that she had eaten too much 
before coming on to the train. An obviously true re- 
mark. After which he comes and talks a few common- 
places to me. By and by the girl-child creeps in again 
and sits on the edge of the seat facing Juno. But no, 

[ 35 1 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

says Juno, if she is sick she will be sick over me. So 
Jupiter accommodatingly changes places with the girl- 
child, who is thus next to me. She sits on the edge of 
the seat with folded little red hands, her face pale and 
expressionless. Beautiful the thin line of her nut- 
brown eyebrows, the dark lashes of the silent, pellucid 
dark eyes. Silent, motionless, like a sick animal. 

But Juno tells her to wipe her splashed boots. The 
child gropes for a piece of paper. Juno tells her to 
take her pocket handkerchief. Feebly the sick girl- 
child wipes her boots, then leans back. But no good. 
She has to go in the corridor and be sick again. 

After a while they all get out. Queer to see people 
so natural. Neither Juno nor Jupiter is in the least 
unkind. He even seems kind. But they are just not 
upset. Not half as upset as we are the q-b want- 
ing to administer tea, and so on. We should have 
to hold the child's head. They just quite naturally 
leave it alone to its convulsions, and are neither dis- 
tressed nor repelled. It just is so. 

Their naturalness seems unnatural to us. Yet I am 
sure it is best. Sympathy would only complicate mat- 
ters, and spoil that strange, remote virginal quality. 
The q-b says it is largely stupidity. 

Nobody washes out the corner of the corridor, 

[ 36 ] 



AS FAR AS PALERMO 

though we stop at stations long enough, and there are 
two more hours journey. Train officials go by and 
stare, passengers step over and stare, new-comers stare 
and step over. Somebody asks who? Nobody thinks 
of just throwing a pail of water. Why should they? 
It is all in the course of nature. One begins to be a 
bit chary of this same "nature", in the south. 

Enter two fresh passengers: a black-eyed, round- 
faced, bright-sharp man in corduroys and with a gun, 
and a long-faced, fresh-colored man with thick snowy 
hair, and a new hat and a long black overcoat of 
smooth black cloth, lined with rather ancient, once 
expensive fur. He is extremely proud of this long 
black coat and ancient fur lining. Childishly proud 
he wraps it again over his knee, and gloats. The 
beady black-eyes of the hunter look round with pleased 
alertness. He sits facing the one in the overcoat, who 
looks like the last sprout of some Norman blood. The 
hunter in corduroys beams abroad, with beady black 
eyes in a round red face, curious. And the other tucks 
his fur-lined long coat between his legs and gloats to 
himself: all to himself gloating, and looking as if he 
were deaf. But no, he's not. He wears muddy high- 
low boots. 

At Termini it is already lamp-light. Business men 

[ 37 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

crowd in. We get five business men: all stout, 
respected Palermitans. The one opposite me has 
whiskers, and a many-colored, patched traveling rug 
over his fat knees. Queer how they bring that feeling 
of physical intimacy with them. You are never sur- 
prised if they begin to take off their boots, or their 
collar-and-tie. The whole world is a sort of bedroom 
to them. One shrinks, but in vain. 

There is some conversation between the black-eyed, 
beady hunter and the business men. Also the young 
white-haired one, the aristocrat, tries to stammer out, 
at great length, a few words. As far as I can gather 
the young one is mad or deranged and the other, 
the hunter, is his keeper. They are traveling over 
Europe together. There is some talk of "the Count". 
And the hunter says the unfortunate "has had an acci- 
dent." But that is a southern gentleness presumably, 
a form of speech. Anyhow it is queer: and the hunter 
in his corduroys, with his round, ruddy face and strange 
black-bright eyes and thin black hair is a puzzle to me, 
even more than the albino, long-coated, long-faced, 
fresh-complexioned, queer last remnant of a baron as 
he is. They are both muddy from the land, and 
pleased in a little mad way of their own. 

But it is half-past six. We are at Palermo, capital 
of Sicily. The hunter slings his gun over his shoulder, 

[ 38 ] 



AS FAR AS PALERMO 

I my knapsack, and in the throng we all disappear, into 
the Via Maqueda. 

Palermo has two great streets, the Via Maqueda, and 
the Corso, which cross each other at right-angles. 
The Via Maqueda is narrow, with narrow little pave- 
ments, and is always choked with carriages and foot- 
passengers. 

It had ceased raining. But the narrow road was 
paved with large, convex slabs of hard stone, inexpress- 
ibly greasy. To cross the Via Maqueda therefore was 
a feat. However, once accomplished, it was done. 
The near end of the street was rather dark, and had 
mostly vegetable shops. Abundance of vegetables 
piles of white-and-green fennel, like celery, and great 
sheaves of young, purplish, sea-dust-colored artichokes, 
nodding their buds, piles of big radishes, scarlet and 
bluey purple, carrots, long strings of dried figs, moun- 
tains of big oranges, scarlet large peppers,, a last slice 
of pumpkin, a great mass of colors and vegetable fresh- 
nesses. A mountain of black-purple cauliflowers, like 
niggers' heads, and a mountain of snow-white ones 
next to them. How the dark, greasy, night-stricken 
street seems to beam with these vegetables, all this 
fresh delicate flesh of luminous vegetables piled there 
in the air, and in the recesses of the windowless little 

[ 39 1 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

caverns of the shops, and gleaming forth on the dark 
air, under the lamps. The q-b at once wants to buy 
vegetables. "Look! Look at the snow-white broc- 
coli. Look at the huge finocchi. Why don't we get 
them? I must have some. Look at those great clus- 
ters of dates ten francs a kilo, and we pay sixteen. 
It's monstrous. Our place is simply monstrous." 

For all that, one doesn't buy vegetables to take to 
Sardinia. 

Cross the Corso at that decorated maelstrom and 
death-trap of the Quattro Canti. I, of course, am 
nearly knocked down and killed. Somebody is nearly 
knocked down and killed every two minutes. But 
there the carriages are light, and the horses curiously 
aware creatures. They would never tread on one. 

The second part of the Via Maqueda is the swell 
part: silks and plumes, and an infinite number of shirts 
and ties and cuff-links and mufflers and men's fancies. 
One realises here that man-drapery and man-under- 
wear is quite as important as woman's, if not more. 

I, of course, in a rage. The q-b stares at every rag 
and stitch, and crosses and re-crosses this infernal dark 
stream of a Via Maqueda, which, as I have said, is 
choked solid with strollers and carriages. Be it re- 
membered that I have on my back the brown knapsack, 
and the q-b carries the kitchenino. This is enough to 

[40] 



AS FAR AS PALERMO 

make a travelling menagerie of us. If I had my 
shirt sticking out behind, and if the q-b had happened 
merely to catch up the table-cloth and wrap it round 
her as she came out, all well and good. But a big 
brown knapsack! And a basket with thermos flask, 
etc! No, one could not expect such things to pass in 
a southern capital. 

But I am case-hardened. And I am sick of shops. 
True, we have not been in a town for three months. 
But can I care for the innumerable fantasias in the 
drapery line? Every wretched bit of would-be-extra 
chic is called a fantasia. The word goes lugubriously 
to my bowels. 

Suddenly I am aware of the q-b darting past me like 
a storm. Suddenly I see her pouncing on three gig- 
ling young hussies just in front the inevitable black 
velveteen tarn, the inevitable white curly muffler, the 
inevitable lower-class flappers. "Did you want some- 
thing? Have you something to say? Is there some- 
thing that amuses you? Oh-h! You must laugh, 
must you? Oh laugh! Oh-h! Why? Why? You 
ask why? Haven't I heard you! Oh you spik In- 
gleesh! You spik Ingleesh! Yes why! That's 
why! Yes, that's why." 

The three gigling young hussies shrink together as 
if they would all hide behind one another, after a 

[41 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

vain uprearing and a demand why? Madam tells 
them why. So they uncomfortably squeeze together 
under the unexpected strokes of the q-b's sledge- 
hammer Italian and more than sledge-hammer retal- 
iation, there full in the Via Maqueda. They edge 
round one another, each attempting to get back of the 
other, away from the looming q-b. I perceive that 
this rotary motion is equivalent to a standstill, so feel 
called upon to say something in the manly line. 

"Beastly Palermo bad-manners," I say, and throw 
a nonchalant "Ignoranti" at the end, in a tone of dis- 
missal. 

Which does it. Off they go down-stream, still 
huddling and shrinking like boats that are taking 
sails in, and peeping to see if we are coming. Yes, 
my dears, we are coming. 

"Why do you bother?" say I to the q-b, who is 
towering with rage. 

"They've followed us the whole length of the 
street with their sacco militario and their parlano 
inglese and their you sfiik Ingleesh, and their jeering 
insolence. But the English are fools. They always 
put up with this Italian impudence." 

Which is perhaps true. But this knapsack! It 
might be full of bronze-roaring geese, it would not 
attract more attention! 

[ 4* ] 



AS FAR AS PALERMO 

However, and however, it is seven o'clock, and the 
shops are beginning to shut. No more shop-gazing. 
Only one lovely place: raw ham, boiled ham, chickens 
in aspic, chicken vol-au- vents, sweet curds, curd-cheese, 
rustic cheese-cake, smoked sausages, beautiful fresh 
mortadella, huge Mediterranean red lobsters, and 
those lobsters without claws. "So good! So good!" 
We stand and cry it aloud. 

But this shop too is shutting. I ask a man for the 
Hotel Pantechnico. And treating me in that gentle, 
strangely tender southern manner, he takes me and 
shows me. He makes me feel such a poor, frail, help- 
less leaf. A foreigner, you know. A bit of an im- 
becile, poor dear. Hold his hand and show him the 
way. 

To sit in the room of this young American woman, 
with its blue hangings, and talk and drink tea till mid- 
night! Ah these naive Americans they are a good 
deal older and shrewder than we, once it nears the 
point. And they all seem to feel as if the world were 
coming to an end. And they are so truly generous 
of their hospitality, in this cold world. 



[ 43 ) 



II. 

THE SEA. 

THE fat old porter knocks. Ah 
more it is dark. Get up again before dawn. 
A dark sky outside, cloudy. The thrilling 
tinkle of innumerable goat-bells as the first flock enters 
the city, such a rippling sound. Well, it must be 
morning, even if one shivers at it. And at least it 
does not rain. 

That pale, bluish, theatrical light outside, of the 
first dawn. And a cold wind. We come on to the 
wide, desolate quay, the curve of the harbour Panor- 
mus. That horrible dawn-pallor of a cold sea out 
there. And here, port mud, greasy: and fish: and 
refuse. The American girl is with us, wrapped in her 
sweater. A coarse, cold, black-slimy world, she seems 
as if she would melt away before it. But these frail 
creatures, what a lot they can go through! 

Across the great, wide, badly paved, mud-greasy, 
despairing road of the quay side, and to the sea. There 

[,44 ] 




D. H. Lawrence 

MAP FOR SEA AND SARDINIA 



THE SEA 

lies our steamer, over there in the dawn-dusk of the 
basin, half visible. "That one who is smoking her 
cigarette," says the porter. She looks little, beside 
the huge City of Trieste who is lying up next her. 

Our row-boat is hemmed in by many empty boats, 
huddled to the side of the quay. She works her way 
out like a sheepdog working his way out of a flock 
of sheep, or like a boat through pack-ice. We are on 
the open basin. The rower stands up and pushes the 
oars from him. He gives a long, melancholy cry to 
someone on the quay. The water goes chock-chock 
against the urging bows. The wind is chill. The 
fantastic peaks behind Palermo show half -ghostly in 
a half -dark sky. The dawn seems reluctant to come. 
Our steamer still smokes her cigarette meaning the 
funnel-smoke across there. So, one sits still, and 
crosses the level space of half -dark water. Masts of 
sailing-ships, and spars, cluster on the left, on the un- 
darkening sky. 

Climb up, climb up, this is our ship. Up we go, 
up the ladder. "Oh but!" says the American girl. 
"Isn't she small! Isn't she impossibly small! Oh 
my, will you go in such a little thing? Oh dear! 

[ 45 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

Thirty two hours in such a little boat? Why no, I 
wouldn't care for it at all." 

A bunch of stewards, cooks, waiters, engineers, pan- 
cleaners and what-not, mostly in black canvas jackets. 
Nobody else on the ship. A little black bunch of 
loutish crew with nothing to do, and we the first pas- 
sengers served up to be jeered at. There you are, in 
the grey light. 

"Who is going?" 

"We two the signorina is not going." 

"Tickets!" 

These are casual proletarian manners. 

We are taken into the one long room with a long 
table and many maple-golden doors, alternate panels 
having a wedgewood blue-and-white picture inserted 
a would-be Goddess of white marble on a blue ground, 
like a health-salts Hygeia advertisement. One of the 
plain panels opens our cabin. 

"Oh dear! Why it isn't as big as a china-closet. 
However will you get in!" cries the American girl. 

"One at a time," say I. 

"But it's the tiniest place I ever saw." 

It really was tiny. One had to get into a bunk to 
shut the door. That did not matter to me, I am no 
Titanic American. I pitched the knapsack on one 
bunk, the kitchenino on the other, and we shut the 

[ 46 ] 



THE SEA 

door. The cabin disappeared into a maple-wood panel 
of the long, subterranean state-room. 

"Why, is this the only place you've got to sit in?" 
cried the American girl. "But how perfectly awful! 
No air, and so dark, and smelly. Why I never saw 
such a boat! Will you really go? Will you really!" 

The stateroom was truly rather subterranean and 
stuffy, with nothing but a long table and an uncanny 
company of screw-pin chairs seated thereat, and no 
outlet to the air at all, but it was not so bad otherwise, 
to me who have never been out of Europe. Those 
maple-wood panels and ebony curves and those 
Hygeias! They went all round, even round the 
curve at the dim, distant end, and back up the near side. 
Yet how beautiful old, gold-coloured maple-wood is! 
how very lovely, with the ebony curves of the door 
arch! There was a wonderful old-fashioned, Victor- 
ian glow in it, and a certain splendour. Even one 
could bear the Hygeias let in under glass the colour 
was right, that wedge-wood and white, in such lovely 
gold lustre. There was a certain homely grandeur 
still in the days when this ship was built: a richness 
of choice material. And health-salts Hygeias, wedge- 
wood Greek goddesses on advertisement placards! 
Yet they weren't advertisements. That was what 

[47 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

really worried me. They never had been. Perhaps 
Weego's Health Salts stole her later. 

We have no coffee that goes without saying. 
Nothing doing so early. The crew still stands in a 
gang, exactly like a gang of louts at a street-corner. 
And they've got the street all to themselves this 
ship. We climb to the upper deck. 

She is a long, slender, old steamer with one little 
funnel. And she seems so deserted, now that one 
can't see the street-corner gang of the casual crew. 
They are just below. Our ship is deserted. 

The dawn is wanly blueing. The sky is a curdle 
of cloud, there is a bit of pale gold eastwards, beyond 
Monte Pellegrino. The wind blows across the har- 
bour. The hills behind Palermo prick up their ears 
on the sky-line. The city lies unseen, near us and 
level. There a big ship is coming in: the Naples 
boat. 

And the little boats keep putting off from the near 
quay, and coming to us. We watch. A stout officer, 
cavalry, in grayey-green, with a big dark-blue cloak 
lined with scarlet. The scarlet lining keeps flashing. 
He has a little beard, and his uniform is not quite 
clean. He has big wooden chests, tied with rope, for 

[ 48 ] 



THE SEA 

luggage. Poor and of no class. Yet that scarlet, splen- 
did lining, and the spurs. It seems a pity they must 
go second-class. Yet so it is, he goes forward when 
the dock porter has hoisted those wooden boxes. No 
fellow-passenger yet. 

Boats still keep coming. Ha-ha! Here is the 
commissariat! Various sides of kid, ready for roast- 
ing: various chickens: fennel like celery: wine in a 
bottiglione: new bread: packages! Hand them up, 
hand them up. "Good food!" cries the q-b in antici- 
pation. 

It must be getting near time to go. Two more 
passengers young thick men in black broadcloth 
standing up in the stern of a little boat, their hands 
in their pockets, looking a little cold about the chin. 
Not quite Italian, too sturdy and manly. Sardinians 
from Cagliari, as a matter of fact. 

We go down from the chill upper-deck. It is grow- 
ing full day. Bits of pale gold are flying among 
delicate but cold flakes of cloud from the east, over 
Monte Pellegrino, bits of very new turquoise sky come 
out. Palermo on the left crouches upon her all-har- 
bour a little desolate, disorderly, end-of-the-world, 
end-of-the-sea, along her quay front. Even from 
here we can see the yellow carts rattling slowly, the 

[49 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

mules nodding their high weird plumes of scarlet 
along the broad weary harbour-side. Oh painted carts 
of Sicily, with all history on your panels! 

Arrives an individual at our side. "The captain 
fears it will not be possible to start. There is much 
wind outside. Much wind!" 

How they love to come up with alarming, disquiet- 
ing, or annoying news! The joy it gives them. What 
satisfaction on all the faces: of course all the other 
loafers are watching us, the street-corner loungers of 
this deck. But we have been many times bitten. 

"Ah ma!" say I, looking at the sky, '"not so much 
wind as all that." 

An air of quiet, shrugging indifference is most 
effectual: as if you knew all about it, a good deal 
more than they knew. 

"Ah si! Molto vento! Molto vento! Outside! 
Outside!" 

With a long face and a dramatic gesture he points 
out of the harbour, to the grey sea. I too look out of 
the harbour at the pale line of sea beyond the mole. 
But I do not trouble to answer, and my eye is calm. 
So he goes away, only half triumphant. 

"Things seem to get worse and worse!" cries the 
[ 50 ] 



THE SEA 

American friend. "What will you do on such a boat 
if you have an awful time out in the Mediterranean 
here? Oh no will you risk it, really? Won't you 
go from Civita Vecchia?" 

"How awful it will be!" cries the q-b, looking 
round the grey harbour, the many masts clustering in 
the grey sky on the right: the big Naples boat turning 
her posterior to the quay-side a little way off, and 
cautiously budging backwards: the almost entirely shut- 
in harbour: the bits of blue and flying white cloud 
overhead: the little boats like beetles scuttling hither 
and thither across the basin: the thick crowd on the quay 
come to meet the Naples boat. 

Time! Time! The American friend nvst go. 
She bids us goodbye, more than sympathetically. 
"I shall be awfully interested to hear how you get 



on." 



So down the side she goes. The boatman wants 
twenty francs wants more but doesn't get it. He 
gets ten, which is five too much. And so, sitting 
rather small and pinched and cold-looking, huddled 
in her sweater, she bibbles over the ripply water to 
the distant stone steps. We wave farewell. But 
other traffic comes between us. And the q-b, feeling 
nervous, is rather cross because the American friend's 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

ideas of luxury have put us in such a poor light. We 
feel like the poorest of poor sea-faring relations. 

Our ship is hooting for all she's worth. An im- 
portant last-minuter comes surging up. The rope 
hawsers are being wound clankily in. Seagulls they 
are never very many in the Mediterranean sea-gulls 
whirl like a few flakes of snow in the upper chill air. 
Clouds spin. And without knowing it we are evapor- 
ating away from the shore, from our mooring, between 
the great City of Trieste and another big black steamer 
that lies like a wall. We breathe towards this second 
black wall of steamer: distinctly. And of course an 
individual in an official cap is standing on the bottom 
of our departure ladder just above the water, yelling 
Barca! Barca! shouting for a boat. And an old 
man on the sea stands up to his oars and comes pushing 
his clumsy boat with gathering speed between us and 
the other black wall. There he stands away below 
there, small, firing his clumsy boat along, remote as 
if in a picture on the dark green water. And our 
black side insidiously and evilly aspires to the other 
huge black wall. He rows in the canyon between, 
and is nearly here. 

When lo, the individual on the bottom step turns 
in the other direction. Another boat from the open 

[ 52 ] 



THE SEA 

basin is sweeping up: it is a race: she is near, she is 
nearer, she is up. With a curvet the boat from the 
open rounds up at the ladder. The boat between the 
gulf backs its oars. The official individual shouts 
and waves, the old man backing his oars in the gulf 
below yells expostulation, the boat from the open 
carries off its prey, our ship begins slowly to puddle- 
puddle-puddle, working her screw, the man in the 
gulf of green water rows for his life we are floating 
into the open basin. 

Slowly, slowly we turn round: and as the ship 
turns, our hearts turn. Palermo fades from our con- 
sciousness: the Naples boat, the disembarking crowds, 
the rattling carriages to the land the great City of 
Trieste all fades from our heart. We see only the 
open gap of the harbour entrance, and the level, pale- 
grey void of the sea beyond. There are wisps of 
gleamy light out there. 

And out there our heart watches though Palermo 
is near us, just behind. We look round, and see it 
all behind us but already it is gone, gone from our 
heart. The fresh wind, the gleamy wisps of light, 
the running, open sea beyond the harbour bars. 

And so we steam out. And almost at once the ship 
begins to take a long, slow, dizzy dip, and a fainting 

[ 53 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

swoon upwards, and a long, slow, dizzy dip, slipping 
away from beneath one. The q-b turns pale. Up 
comes the deck in that fainting swoon backwards 
then down it fades in that indescribable slither for- 
wards. It is all quite gentle quite, quite gentle. 
But oh, so long, and so slow, and so dizzy. 

"Rather pleasant!" say I to the q-b. 

"Yes. Rather lovely really " she answers wistfully. 
To tell the truth there is something in the long, slow 
lift of the ship, and her long, slow slide forwards 
which makes my heart beat with joy. It is the motion 
of freedom. To feel her come up then slide slowly 
forward, with a sound of the smashing of waters, is 
like the magic gallop of the sky, the magic gallop of 
elemental space. That long, slow, waveringly rhyth- 
mic rise and fall of the ship, with waters snorting as it 
were from her nostrils, oh God what a joy it is to the 
wild innermost soul. One is free at last and lilting 
in a slow flight of the elements, winging outwards. 
Oh God, to be free of all the hemmed-in life the 
horror of human tension, the absolute insanity of 
machine persistence. The agony which a train is to 
me, really. And the long-drawn-out agony of a life 
among tense, resistant people on land. And then to 
feel the long, slow lift and drop of this almost empty 
ship, as she took the waters. Ah God, liberty, liberty, 

[ 54 ] 



THE SEA 

elemental liberty. I wished in my soul the voyage 
might last forever, that the sea had no end, that one 
might float in this wavering, tremulous, yet long and 
surging pulsation while ever time lasted: space never 
exhausted, and no turning back, no looking back, even. 

The ship was almost empty save of course for the 
street-corner louts who hung about just below, on the 
deck itself. We stood alone on the weather-faded 
little promenade deck, which has old oak seats with old, 
carved little lions at the ends, for arm-rests and a 
little cabin mysteriously shut, which much peeping 
determined as the wireless office and the operator's 
little curtained bed-niche. 

Cold, fresh wind, a black-blue, translucent, rolling 
sea on which the wake rose in snapping foam, and 
Sicily on the left: Monte Pellegrino, a huge, inordin- 
ate mass of pinkish rock, hardly crisped with the faint- 
est vegetation, looming up to heaven from the sea. 
Strangely large in mass and bulk Monte Pellegrino 
looks: and bare, like a Sahara in heaven: and old- 
looking. These coasts of Sicily are very imposing, 
terrific, fortifying the interior. And again one gets 
the feeling that age has worn them bare: as if old, 
old civilisations had worn away and exhausted the soil, 

[ 55 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

leaving a terrifying blankness of rock, as at Syracuse 
in plateaus, and here in a great mass. 

There seems hardly any one on board but ourselves: 
we alone on the little promenade deck. Strangely 
lonely, floating on a bare old ship past the great bare 
shores, on a rolling sea, stooping and rising in the wind. 
The wood of the fittings is all bare and weather-sil- 
vered, the cabin, the seats, even the little lions of the 
seats. The paint wore away long ago: and this timber 
will never see paint any more. Strange to put one's 
hand on the old oaken wood, so sea-fibred. Good old 
delicate-threaded oak: I swear it grew in England. 
And everything so carefully done, so solidly and ever- 
lastingly. I look at the lions, with the perfect-fitting 
oaken pins through their paws clinching them down, 
and their little mouths open. They are as solid as 
they were in Victorian days, as immovable. They will 
never wear away. What a joy in the careful, 
thorough, manly, everlasting work put into a ship: at 
least into this sixty-year-old vessel. Every bit of this 
old oak wood so sound, so beautiful: and the whole 
welded together with joints and wooden pins far more 
beautifully and livingly than iron welds. Rustless, 
life-born, living-tissued old wood: rustless as flesh is 
rustless, and happy-seeming as iron never can be. She 

[ 56] 



THE SEA 

rides so well, she takes the sea so beautifully, as a 
matter of course. 

Various members of the crew wander past to look 
at us. This little promenade deck is over the first- 
class quarters, full in the stern. So we see first one 
head then another come up the ladder mostly bare 
heads: and one figure after another slouches past, 
smoking a cigarette. All crew. At last the q-b stops 
one of them it is what they are all waiting for, an 
opportunity to talk and asks if the weird object on 
the top of Pellegrino is a ruin. Could there be a 
more touristy question! No, it is the semaphore 
station. Slap in the eye for the q-b! She doesn't 
mind, however, and the member of the crew proceeds 
to converse. He is a weedy, hollow-cheeked town- 
product: a Palermitan. He wears faded blue over- 
alls and informs us he is the ship's carpenter: happily 
unemployed for the rest of his life, apparently, and 
taking it as rather less than his dues. The ship once 
did the Naples-Palermo course a very important 
course in the old days of the General Navigation 
Company. The General Navigation Company sold 
her for eighty thousand liras years ago, and now she 
was worth two million. We pretend to believe: but 
I make a poor show. I am thoroughly sick to death 

[ 57 1 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

of the sound of liras. No man can overhear ten 
words of Italian today without two thousand or two 
million or ten or twenty or two liras flying like ven- 
omous mosquitoes round his ears. Liras liras 
liras nothing else. Romantic, poetic, cypress-and- 
orange-tree Italy is gone. Remains an Italy smoth- 
ered in the filthy smother of innumerable Lira notes: 
ragged, unsavoury paper money so thick upon the air 
that one breathes it like some greasy fog. Behind this 
greasy fog some people may still see the Italian sun. 
I find it hard work. Through this murk of Liras you 
peer at Michael Angelo and at Botticelli and the rest, 
and see them all as through a glass, darkly. For 
heavy around you is Italy's after-the-war atmosphere, 
darkly pressing you, squeezing you, milling you into 
dirty paper notes. King Harry was lucky that they 
only wanted to coin him into gold. Italy wants to 
mill you into filthy paper Liras. 

Another head and a black alpaca jacket and a ser- 
viette this time to tell us coffee is ready. Not before 
it is time, too. We go down into the subterranean 
state-room and sit on the screw-pin chairs, while the 
ship does the slide-and-slope trot under us, and we 
drink a couple of cups of coffee-and-milk, and eat a 
piece of bread and butter. At least one of the innum- 

[ 58 ] 



THE SEA 

erable members of the crew gives me one cup, then 
casts me off. It is most obviously his intention that I 
shall get no more: because of course the innumerable 
members of the crew could all just do with another 
coffee and milk. However, though the ship heaves 
and the alpaca coats cluster menacingly in the doorway, 
I balance my way to the tin buffet and seize the coffee 
pot and the milk pot, and am quite successful in ad- 
ministering to the q-b and myself. Having restored 
the said vessels to their tin altar, I resume my spin- 
chair at the long and desert board. The q-b and I are 
alone save that in the distance a very fat back with 
gold-braid collar sits sideways and a fat hand disposes 
of various papers he is part of the one-and-only table, 
of course. The tall lean alpaca jacket, with a face of 
yellow stone and a big black moustache moves from 
the outer doorway, glowers at our filled cups, and goes 
to the tin altar and touches the handles of the two 
vessels: just touches them to an arrangement: as one 
who should say: These are mine. What dirty foreign- 
er dares help himself! 

As quickly as possible we stagger up from the long 
dungeon where the alpaca jackets are swooping like 
blue-bottles upon the coffee pots, into the air. There 
the carpenter is waiting for us, like a spider. 

[ 59 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

"Isn't the sea a little quieter?" says the q-b wist- 
fully. She is growing paler. 

"No, Signora how should it be?" says the gaunt- 
faced carpenter. "The wind is waiting for us behind 
Cape Gallo. You see that cape?" he points to a tall 
black cliff-front in the sea ahead. "When we get to 
that cape we get the wind and the sea. Here " he 
makes a gesture "it is moderate." 

"Ugh!" says the q-b, turning paler. "I'm going 
to lie down." 

She disappears. The carpenter, finding me stony 
ground, goes forward, and I see him melting into the 
crowd of the innumerable crew, that hovers on the 
lower-deck passage by the kitchen and the engines. 

The clouds are flying fast overhead: and sharp and 
isolated come drops of rain, so that one thinks it must 
be spray. But no, it is a handful of rain. The ship 
swishes and sinks forward, gives a hollow thudding 
and rears slowly backward, along this pinkish lofty 
coast of Sicily that is just retreating into a bay. From 
the open sea comes the rain, come the long waves. 

No shelter. One must go down. The q-b lies 
quietly in her bunk. The state-room is stale like a 
passage on the underground railway. No shelter, 

[ 60 ] 



THE SEA 

save near the kitchen and the engines, where there is 
a bit of warmth. The cook is busy cleaning fish, mak- 
ing the whiting bite their tails venomously at a little 
board just outside his kitchen-hole. A slow stream 
of kitchen-filth swilkers back and forth along the ship's 
side. A gang of the crew leans near me a larger 
gang further down. Heaven knows what they can all 
be but they never do anything but stand in gangs 
and talk and eat and smoke cigarettes. They are 
mostly young mostly Palermitan with a couple of 
unmistakable Neapolitans, having the peculiar Nea- 
politan hang-dog good looks, the chiselled cheek, the 
little black moustache, the large eyes. But they 
chew with their cheeks bulged out, and laugh with 
their fine, semi-sarcastic noses. The whole gang looks 
continually sideways. Nobody ever commands them 
there seems to be absolutely no control. Only the 
fat engineer in grey linen looks as clean and as com- 
petent as his own machinery. Queer how machine- 
control puts the pride and self-respect into a man. 

The rain over, I go and squat against the canvas 
that is spread over the arched sky-lights on the small 
promenade deck, sitting on the seat that is fixed to 
the sky-light sides. The wind is cold: there are 
snatches of sun and spits of rain. The big cape has 

[ 61 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

come and is being left behind: we are heading for a 
far-off cape like a cloud in the grey air. A dimness 
comes over one's mind: a sort of stupefaction owing 
to the wind and the relentless slither-and-rearing of 
the ship. Not a sickness, but a sort of dim faintness. 
So much motion, such moving, powerful air. And 
withal a constant triumph in the long, slow sea-gallop 
of the ship. 

A great loud bell: midday and the crew going to 
eat, rushing to eat. After some time we are sum- 
moned. "The Signora isn't eating?" asks the waiter 
eagerly: hoping she is not. "Yes, she is eating," say 
I. I fetch the q-b from her berth. Rather wanly 
she comes and gets into her spin chair. Bash comes 
a huge plate of thick, oily cabbage soup, very full, 
swilkering over the sides. We do what we can with 
it. So does the third passenger: a young woman who 
never wears a hat, thereby admitting herself simply 
as one of "the people," but who has an expensive com- 
plicated dress, nigger-coloured thin silk stockings, and 
suede high-heeled shoes. She is handsome, sturdy, 
with large dark eyes and a robust, frank manner: 
far too robustly downright for Italy. She is from 
Cagliari and can't do much with the cabbage soup: 
and tells the waiter so, in her deep, hail-fellow-well- 

[ 62 ] 



THE SEA 

met voice. In the doorway hovers a little cloud of 
alpaca jackets grinning faintly with malignant antici- 
pation of food, hoping, like blow-flies, we shall be too 
ill to eat. Away goes the soup and appears a massive 
yellow omelette, like some log of bilious wood. It is 
hard, and heavy, and cooked in the usual rank-tasting 
olive oil. The young woman doesn't have much 
truck with it: neither do we. To the triumph of the 
blow-flies, who see the yellow monster borne to their 
altar. After which a long long slab of the inevitable 
meat cut into innumerable slices, tasting of dead noth- 
ingness and having a thick sauce of brown neutrality: 
sufficient for twelve people at least. This, with masses 
of strong-tasting greenish cauliflower liberally weight- 
ed with oil, on a ship that was already heaving its heart 
out, made up the dinner. Accumulating malevolent 
triumph among the blow-flies in the passage. So on 
to a dessert of oranges, pears with wooden hearts and 
thick yellowish wash-leather flesh, and apples. Then 
coffee. 

And we had sat through it, which is something. 
The alpaca blue-bottles buzzed over the masses of 
food that went back on the dishes to the tin altar. 
Surely it had been made deliberately so that we should 
not eat it! The Cagliarese young woman talked to 
us. Yes, she broke into that awful language which 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

the Italians the quite ordinary ones call French, 
and which they insist on speaking for their own glori- 
fication: yea, when they get to heaven's gate they will 
ask St. Peter for: 

"OOn bigliay pour ung trozzieme classe." 
Fortunately or unfortunately her inquisitiveness got 
the better of her, and she fell into her native Italian. 
What were we, where did we come from, where were 
we going, why were we going, had we any children, 
did we want any, etc. After every answer she nodded 
her head and said Ahu! and watched us with energetic 
dark eyes. Then she ruminated over our nationalities 
and said, to the unseeing witnesses: Una bella coppia, 
a fine couple. As at the moment we felt neither beau- 
tiful nor coupled, we only looked greener. The grim 
man-at-arms coming up to ask us again if we weren't 
going to have a little wine, she lapsed into her ten- 
pounder French, which was most difficult to follow. 
And she said that on a sea-voyage one must eat, one 
must eat, if only a little. But and she lapsed into 
Italian one must by no means drink wine no no! 
One didn't want to, said I sadly. Whereupon the 
grim man-at-arms, whom, of course, we had cheated 
out of the bottle we refused to have opened for us, 
said with a lost sarcasm that wine made a man of a 
man, etc., etc. I was too weary of that underground, 



THE SEA 

however. All I knew was that he wanted wine, wine, 
wine, and we hadn't ordered any. He didn't care for 
food. 

The Cagliarese told us she came now from Naples, 
and her husband was following in a few days. He 
was doing business in Naples. I nearly asked if he was 
a little dog-fish this being the Italian for profiteer, 
but refrained in time. So the two ladies retired to lie 
down, I went and sat under my tarpaulin. 

I felt very dim, and only a bit of myself. And I 
dozed blankly. The afternoon grew more sunny. 
The ship turned southwards, and with the wind and 
waves behind, it became much warmer, much smoother. 
The sun had the lovely strong winey warmth, golden 
over the dark-blue sea. The old oak-wood looked 
almost white, the afternoon was sweet upon the sea. 
And in the sunshine and the swishing of the sea, the 
speedier running of the empty ship, I slept a warm, 
sweet hour away, and awoke new. To see ahead pale, 
uplooming islands upon the right: the windy Egades: 
and on the right a mountain or high conical hill, with 
buildings on the summit: and in front against the sea, 
still rather far away, buildings rising upon a quay, 
within a harbor: and a mole, and a castle forward to 

ea ? all mali and far away, like a view, The buildings 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

were square and fine. There was something im- 
pressive magical under the far sunshine and the keen 
wind, the square and well-proportioned buildings wait- 
ing far off, waiting like a lost city in a story, a Rip van 
Winkle city. I knew it was Trapani, the western port 
of Sicily, under the western sun. 

And the hill near us was Mount Eryx. I had never 
seen it before. So I had imagined a mountain in the 
sky. But it was only a hill, with undistinguishable 
cluster of a village on the summit, where even now cold 
wisps of vapour caught. They say it is 2,500 feet high. 
Still it looks only a hill. 

But why in the name of heaven should my heart 
stand still as I watch that hill which rises above the sea? 
It is the Etna of the west: but only a town-crowned hill. 
To men it must have had a magic almost greater than 
Etna's. Watching Africa! Africa, showing her coast 
on clear days. Africa the dreaded. And the great 
watch-temple of the summit, world-sacred, world- 
mystic in the world that was. Venus of the aborigines, 
older than Greek Aphrodite. Venus of the aborigines, 
from her watch-temple looking at Africa, beyond the 
Egatian isles. The world-mystery, the smiling Astarte. 
This, one of the world centres, older than old! and 
the woman-goddess watching Africa! Eryciw ridens* 

[ 66] 



THE SEA 

Laughing, the woman-goddess, at this centre of an 
ancient, quite-lost world. 

I confess my heart stood still. But is mere historical 
fact so strong, that what one learns in bits from books 
can move one so? Or does the very word call an echo 
out of the dark blood? It seems so to me. It seems 
to me from the darkest recesses of my blood comes a 
terrible echo at the name of Mount Eryx: something 
quite unaccountable. The name of Athens hardly 
moves me. At Eryx my darkness quivers. Eryx, 
looking west into Africa's sunset. Erydna ridens. 

There is a tick-tocking in the little cabin against 
which I lean. The wireless operator is busy communi- 
cating with Trapani, no doubt. He is a fat young man 
with fairish curly hair and an important bearing. Give 
a man control of some machine, and at once his air of 
importance and more-than-human dignity develops. 
One of the unaccountable members of the crew lounges 
in the little doorway, like a chicken on one foot, hav- 
ing nothing to do. The girl from Cagliari comes up 
with two young men also Sardinians by their thick-set, 
independent look, and the touch of pride in their dark 
eyes. She has no wraps at all: just her elegant fine- 
cloth dress, her bare head from which the wisps of 
hair blow across her brow, and the transparent "nigger" 
silk stockings. Yet she does not seem cold. She talks 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

with great animation, sitting between the two young 
men. And she holds the hand of the one in the over- 
coat affectionately. She is always holding the hand of 
one or other of the two young men: and wiping wisps 
of wind-blown hair from her brow: and talking in her 
strong, nonchalant voice, rapidly, ceaselessly, with 
massive energy. Heaven knows if the two young 
men they are third-class passengers were previous 
acquaintances. But they hold her hand like brothers 
quite simply and nicely, not at all sticky and libidinous, 
It all has an air of "Why not?" 

She shouts at me as I pass, in her powerful, extraor- 
dinary French: 

"Madame votre femme, elle est au lit?" 

I say she is lying down. 

"Ah ! " she nods. "Elle a le mal de mer ? " 

No, she is not sea-sick, just lying down. 

The two young men, between whom she is sitting 
as between two pillows, watch with the curious Sar- 
dinian dark eyes that seem alert and show the white 
all round. They are pleasant a bit like seals. And 
they have a numb look for the moment, impressed by 
this strange language. She proceeds energetically to 
translate into Sardinian, as I pass on. 

We do not seem to be going to Trapani. There lies 
the town on the left, under the hill, the square build- 

[ 68 ] 



THE SEA 

ings that suggest to me the factories of the East India 
Company shining in the sun along the curious, closed-in 
harbour, beyond the running, dark blue sea. We seem 
to be making for the island bulk of Levanzo. Perhaps 
we shall steer away to Sardinia without putting in to 
Trapani. 

On and on we run and always as if we were going 
to steer between the pale blue, heaped-up islands, leav- 
ing Trapani behind us on our left. The town has been 
in sight for an hour or more: and still we run out to sea 
towards Levanzo. And the wireless-operator busily 
tick-tocks and throbs in his little cabin on this upper 
deck. Peeping in, one sees his bed and chair behind a 
curtain, screened off from his little office. And all so 
tidy and pleased-looking. 

From the islands one of the Mediterranean sailing 
ships is beating her way, across our track, to Trapani. 
I don't know the name of ships but the carpenter says 
she is a schooner: he says it with that Italian misgiving 
which doesn't really know but which can't bear not to 
know. Anyhow on she comes, with her tall ladder of 
square sails white in the afternoon light, and her lovely 
prow, curved in with a perfect hollow, running like a 
wild animal on a scent across the waters. There the 
scent leads her north again. She changes her tack from 
the harbour mouth, and goes coursing away, passing 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

behind us. Lovely she is, nimble and quick and pal- 
pitating, with all her sails white and bright and eager. 

We are changing our course. We have all the time 
been heading for the south of Levanzo. Now I see 
the island slowly edging back, as if clearing out of the 
way for us, like a man in the street. The island edges 
and turns aside: and walks away. And clearly we are 
making for the harbour mouth. We have all this time 
been running, out at sea, round the back of the harbour. 
Now I see the fortress-castle, an old thing, out forward 
to sea: and a little light-house and the way in. And 
beyond, the town-front with great palm trees and other 
curious dark trees, and behind these the large square 
buildings of the south rising imposingly, as if severe, 
big palaces upon the promenade. It all has a stately, 
southern, imposing appearance, withal remote from our 
modern centuries: standing back from the tides of our 
industrial life. 

I remember the Crusaders, how they called here so 
often on their way to the East. And Trapani seems 
waiting for them still, with its palm trees and its silence, 
full in the afternoon sun. It has not much to do but 
wait, apparently. 

The q-b emerges into the sun, crying out how lovely! 
And the sea is quieter: we are already in the lea of the 
harbour-curve. From the north the many-sailed ship 

[ 70 ] 



THE SEA 

from the islands is running down towards us, with the 
wind. And away on the south, on the sea-level, numer- 
ous short windmills are turning their sails briskly, 
windmill after windmill, rather stumpy, spinning gaily 
in the blue, silent afternoon, among the salt-lagoons 
stretching away towards Marsala. But there is a whole 
legion of windmills, and Don Quixote would have 
gone off his head. There they spin, hither and thither, 
upon the pale-blue sea-levels. And perhaps one 
catches a glitter of white salt-heaps. For these are 
the great salt-lagoons which make Trapani rich. 

We are entering the harbour-basin, however, past the 
old castle out on the spit, past the little light-house, 
then through the entrance, slipping quietly on the now 
tranquil water. Oh, and how pleasant the fulness of 
the afternoon sun flooding this round, fast-sleeping 
harbour, along whose side the tall palms drowse, and 
whose waters are fast asleep. It seems quite a small, 
cosy harbour, with the great buildings warm-colored in 
the sun behind the dark tree-avenue of the marina. 
The same silent, sleeping, endlessly sun-warmed 
stateliness. 

In the midst of this tranquillity we slowly turn round 
upon the shining water, and in a few moments are 

moored, There are other ships moored away to the 

[ 7' j 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

right: all asleep, apparently, in the flooding of the 
afternoon sun. Beyond the harbour entrance runs the 
great sea and the wind. Here all is still and hot and 
forgotten. 

"Vous descendez en terre?" shouts the young woman, 
in her energetic French she leaves off holding the 
young men's hands for the moment. We are not quite 
sure: and we don't want her to come with us, anyhow, 
for her French is not our French. 

The land sleeps on: nobody takes any notice of us: 
but just one boat paddles out the dozen yards to our 
side. We decide to set foot on shore. 

One should not, and we knew it. One should never 
enter into these southern towns that look so nice, so 
lovely, from the outside. However, we thought we 
would buy some cakes. So we crossed the avenue 
which looks so beautiful from the sea, and which, 
when you get into it, is a cross between an outside place 
where you throw rubbish and a humpy unmade road in 
a raw suburb, with a few iron seats, and litter of old 
straw and rag. Indescribably dreary in itself: yet with 
noble trees, and lovely sunshine, and the sea and the 
islands gleaming magic beyond the harbour mouth, and 
the sun, the eternal sun full f ocussed. A few mangy, 
nothing-to-do people stand disconsolately about, in 

[ 72 ] 



THE SEA 

southern fashion, as if they had been left there, water- 
logged, by the last flood, and were waiting for the 
next flood to wash them further. Round the corner 
along the quay a Norwegian steamer dreams that she is 
being loaded, in the muddle of the small port. 

We looked at the cakes heavy and wan they ap- 
peared to our sea-rolled stomachs. So we strolled into 
a main street, dark and dank like a sewer. A tram 
bumped to a standstill, as if now at last was the end 
of the world. Children coming from school ecstati- 
cally ran at our heels, with bated breath, to hear the 
vocal horrors of our foreign speech. We turned down 
a dark side alley, about forty paces deep: and were on 
the northern bay, and on a black stench that seemed like 
the perpetual sewer, a bank of mud. 

So we got to the end of the black main street, and 
turned in haste to the sun. Ah in a moment we were 
in it. There rose the palms, there lay our ship in 
the shining, curving basin and there f ocussed the sun, 
so that in a moment we were drunk or dazed by it. 
Dazed. We sat on an iron seat in the rubbish-desolate, 
sun-stricken avenue. 

A ragged and dirty girl was nursing a fat and moist 
and immovable baby and tending to a grimy fat infant 
boy. She stood a yard away and gazed at us as one 

[ 73 1 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

would gaze at a pig one was going to buy. She came 
nearer, and examined the q-b. I had my big hat down 
over my eyes. But no, she had taken her seat at my 
side, and poked her face right under my hat brim, so 
that her towzled hair touched me, and I thought she 
would kiss me. But again no. With her breath on 
my cheek she only gazed on my face as if it were a 
wax mystery. I got up hastily. 

"Too much for me," said I to the q-b. 

She laughed, and asked what the baby was called. 
The baby was called Beppina, as most babies are. 

Driven forth, we wandered down the desolate 
avenue of shade and sun towards the ship, and turned 
once more into the town. We had not been on shore 
more than ten minutes. This time we went to the 
right, and found more shops. The streets were dark 
and sunless and cold. And Trapani seemed to me to 
sell only two commodities: cured rabbit skins and cat- 
skins, and great, hideous, modern bed-spread arrange- 
ments of heavy flowered silk and fabulous price. They 
seem to think nothing of thousands of liras, in Trapani. 

But most remarkable was bunny and pussy. 
Bunny and pussy, flattened out like pressed leaves, 
dangling in clusters everywhere. Furs! white bunny, 
black bunny in great abundance, piebald bunny, grey 
bunny: then pussy, tabby pussy, and tortoiseshell 

[ 74 ] 



THE SEA 

pussy, but mostly black pussy, in a ghastly semblance 
of life, all flat, of course. Just single furs. Clusters, 
bunches, heaps, and dangling arrays of plain-superficies 
puss and bun-bun! Puss and bun by the dozen and 
the twenty, like dried leaves, for your choice. If 
a cat from a ship should chance to find itself in 
Trapani streets, it would give a mortal yell, and go 
mad, I am sure. 

We strolled for ten more minutes in this narrow, 
tortuous, unreal town, that seemed to have plenty of 
flourishing inhabitants, and a fair number of Socialists, 
if one was to judge by the great scrawlings on the walls: 
W. LENIN and ABASSO LA BORGHESIA. Don't im- 
agine, by the way, that Lenin is another Wille on the 
list. The apparent initial stands for Evviva, the 
double V. 

Cakes one dared not buy, after looking at them. 
But we found macaroon biscuits, and a sort of flat 
plaster-casts of the Infant Jesus under a dove, of which 
we bought two. The q-b ate her macaroon biscuits 
all through the streets, and we went towards the ship. 
The fat boatman hailed us to take us back. It was 
just about eight yards of water to row, the ship being 
moored on the quay: one could have jumped it. I 
gave the fat boatman two liras, two francs. He im- 

[ 75 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

mediately put on the socialist-workman indignation, 
and thrust the note back at me. Sixty centimes more! 
The fee was thirteen sous each way! In Venice or 
Syracuse it would be two sous. I looked at him and 
gave him the money and said: "Per Dio, we are in Tra- 
pani ! " He muttered back something about foreigners. 
But the hateful, unmanly insolence of these lords of 
toil, now they have their various "unions" behind them 
and their "rights" as working men, sends my blood 
black. They are ordinary men no more: the human, 
happy Italian is most marvellously vanished. New 
honors come upon them, etc. The dignity of human 
labour is on its hind legs, busy giving every poor inno- 
cent who isn't ready for it a kick in the mouth. 

But, once more in parenthesis, let me remind myself 
that it is our own English fault. We have slobbered 
about the nobility of toil, till at last the nobles naturally 
insist on eating the cake. And more than that, we have 
set forth, politically, on such a high and Galahad quest 
of holy liberty, and been caught so shamelessly filling 
our pockets, that no wonder the naive and idealistic 
south turns us down with a bang. 

Well, we are back on the ship. And we want tea. 
On the list by the door it says we are to have coffee, 

[ 76 1 



THE SEA 

milk and butter at 8.30: luncheon at 11.30: tea, coffee 
or chocolate at 3.00: and dinner at 6.30. And more- 
over: "The company will feed the passengers for the 
normal duration of the voyage only." Very well 
very well. Then where is tea? Not any signs! and 
the alpaca jackets giving us a wide berth. But we find 
our man, and demand our rights: at least the q-b does. 

The tickets from Palermo to Cagliari cost, together, 
583 liras. Of this, 250 liras was for the ticket, and 
40 liras each for the food. This, for two tickets, 
would make 580 liras. The odd three for usual 
stamps. The voyage was supposed to last about thirty 
or thirty-two hours: from eight of the morning of de- 
parture to two or four of the following afternoon. 
Surely we pay for our tea. 

The other passengers have emerged: a large, pale, 
fat, "handsome" Palermitan who is going to be pro- 
fessor at Cagliari : his large, fat, but high-coloured wife: 
and three children, a boy of fourteen like a thin, frail, 
fatherly girl, a little boy in a rabbit-skin overcoat, com- 
ing rather unfluffed, and a girl-child on the mother's 
knee. The one-year-old girl-child being, of course, 
the only man in the party. 

They have all been sick all day, and look washed out. 
We sympathise. They lament the cruelties of the 
journey and senza servizio! senza servizio! without 

[ 77 1 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

any maid servant. The mother asks for coffee, and a 
cup of milk for the children: then, seeing our tea with 
lemon, and knowing it by repute, she will have tea. 
But the rabbit-boy will have coffee coffee and milk 
and nothing else. And an orange. And the baby will 
have lemon, pieces of lemon. And the fatherly young 
"miss" of an adolescent brother laughs indulgently at 
all the whims of these two young ones: the father 
laughs and thinks it all adorable and expects us to 
adore. He is almost too washed-out to attend prop- 
erly, to give the full body of his attention. 

So the mother gets her cup of tea and puts a piece 
of lemon in and then milk on top of that. The rab- 
bit boy sucks an orange, slobbers in the tea, insists on 
coffee and milk, tries a piece of lemon, and gets a bis- 
cuit. The baby, with weird faces, chews pieces of 
lemon: and drops them in the family cup: and fishes 
them out with a little sugar, and dribbles them across 
the table to her mouth, throws them away and reaches 
for a new sour piece. They all think it humorous and 
adorable. Arrives the milk, to be treated as another 
loving cup, mingled with orange, lemon, sugar, tea, 
biscuit, chocolate, and cake. Father, mother, and elder 
brother partake of nothing, they haven't the stomach. 
But they are charmed, of course, by the pretty pranks 
and messes of the infants. They have extraordinary 



THE SEA 

amiable patience, and find the young ones a perpetual 
source of charming amusement. They look at one 
another, the elder ones, and laugh and comment, while 
the two young ones mix themselves and the table into 
a lemon - milk - orange - tea-sugar-biscuit-cake-chocolate 
mess. This inordinate Italian amiable patience with 
their young monkeys is astonishing. It makes the 
monkeys more monkey-like, and self-conscious incredi- 
bly, so that a baby has all the tricks of a Babylonian 
harlot, making eyes and trying new pranks. Till at 
last one sees the southern Holy Family as an unholy 
triad of imbecility. 

Meanwhile I munched my Infant-Jesus-and-Dove 
arrangement, which was rather like eating thin glass, so 
hard and sharp. It was made of almond and white of 
egg presumably, and was not so bad if you could eat 
it at all. It was a Christmas relic. And I watched 
the Holy Family across the narrow board, and tried not 
to look all I felt. 

Going on deck as soon as possible, we watched the 
loading of barrels of wine into the hold a mild and 
happy-go-lucky process. The ship seemed to be al- 
most as empty of cargo as of passengers. Of the latter, 
we were apparently twelve adults, all told, and the 
three children. And as for cargo, there were the 

[ 79 1 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

wooden chests of the officer, and these fourteen barrels 
of wine from Trapani. The last were at length set- 
tled more or less firm, the owner, or the responsible 
landsman seeing to it. No one on the ship seemed to 
be responsible for anything. And four of the in- 
numerable crew were replacing the big planks over the 
hold. It was curious how forlorn the ship seemed to 
feel, now she was ready for sea again. Her innumera- 
ble crew did not succeed in making her alive. She ran 
her course like a lost soul across the Mid-Mediter- 
ranean. 

Outside the harbour the sun was sinking, gorgeous 
gold and red the sky, and vast, beyond the darkening 
islands of the Egades group. Coming as we did from 
the east side of the island, where dawn beyond the 
Ionian sea is the day's great and familiar event: so 
decisive an event, that as the light appears along the 
sea's rim, so do my eyes invariably open and look at it, 
and know it is dawn, and as the night-purple is fused 
back, and a little scarlet thrills towards the zenith, in- 
variably, day by day, I feel I must get up: coming from 
the east, shut off hermetically from the west by the 
steep spikes of the mountains at our back, we felt this 
sunset in the African sea terrible and dramatic. It 
seemed much more magnificent and tragic than our 

[ 80 ] 



THE SEA 

Ionian dawn, which has always a suggestion of a flower 
opening. But this great red, trumpet-flaring sunset 
had something African, half -sinister, upon the sea: and 
it seemed so far off, in an unknown land. Whereas 
our Ionian dawn always seems near and familiar and 
happy. 

A different goddess the Eryx Astarte, the woman 
Ashtaroth, Erycina ridens must have been, in her pre- 
historic dark smiling, watching the fearful sunsets be- 
yond the Egades, from our gold-lighted Apollo of the 
Ionian east. She is a strange goddess to me, this 
Erycina Venus, and the west is strange and unfamiliar 
and a little fearful, be it Africa or be it America. 

Slowly at sunset we moved out of the harbour. And 
almost as we passed the bar, away in front we saw, 
among the islands, the pricking of a quick pointed 
light. Looking back, we saw the light at the harbour 
entrance twitching: and the remote, lost town beginning 
to glimmer. And night was settling down upon the 
sea, through the crimsoned purple of the last afterglow. 

The islands loomed big as we drew nearer, dark in 
the thickening darkness. Overhead a magnificent 
evening-star blazed above the open sea, giving me a 
pang at the heart, for I was so used to see her hang 
just above the spikes of the mountains, that I felt she 
might fall, having the space beneath. 

[ 81 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

i 

Levanzo and the other large island were quite dark: 
absolutely dark, save for one beam of a lighthouse low 
down in the distance. The wind was again strong and 
cold: the ship had commenced her old slither and 
heave, slither and heave, which mercifully we had 
forgotten. Overhead were innumerable great stars 
active as if they were alive in the sky. I saw Orion 
high behind us, and the dog-star glaring. And swish! 
went the sea as we took the waves, then after a long 
trough, swish! This curious rhythmic swishing and 
hollow drumming of a steamer at sea has a narcotic, 
almost maddening effect on the spirit, a long, hissing 
burst of waters, then the hollow roll, and again the 
upheaval to a sudden hiss-ss-ss! 

A bell had clanged and we knew the crew were once 
more feeding. At every moment of the day and pre- 
sumably of the night, feeding was going on or coffee- 
drinking. 

We were summoned to dinner. Our young woman 
was already seated: and a fat uniformed mate or purser 
or official of some sort was finishing off in the distance. 
The pale professor also appeared: and at a certain dis- 
tance down the table sat a little hard-headed grey man 
in a long grey alpaca travelling coat. Appeared the 
beloved macaroni with tomato sauce: no food for the 



THE SEA 

sea. I put my hopes on the fish. Had I not seen 
the cook making whiting bite their own tails viciously? 
The fish appeared. And what was it? Fried ink- 
pots. A calamaio is an ink-pot: also it is a polyp, a 
little octopus which, alas, frequents the Mediterranean 
and squirts ink if offended. This polyp with its tenta- 
cles is cut up and fried, and reduced to the consistency 
of boiled celluloid. It is esteemed a delicacy: but is 
tougher than indiarubber, gristly through and through. 

I have a peculiar aversion to these ink-pots. Once 
in Liguria we had a boat of our own and paddled with 
the peasant paddlers. Alessandro caught ink-pots: and 
like this. He tied up a female by a string in a cave 
the string going through a convenient hole in her end. 
There she lived, like an Amphitrite's wire-haired ter- 
rier tied up, till Alessandro went a-fishing. Then he 
towed her, like a poodle behind. And thus, like a 
poodly-bitch, she attracted hangers-on in the briny 
seas. And these poor polyp inamorati were the victims. 
They were lifted as prey on board, where I looked with 
horror on their grey, translucent tentacles and large, 
cold, stony eyes. The she-polyp was towed behind 
again. But after a few days she died. 

And I think, even for creatures so awful-looking, 
this method is indescribably base, and shows how much 
lower than an octopus even, is lordly man. 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

Well, we chewed a few ends of oil-fried ink-pots, 
and gave it up. The Cagliari girl gave up too: the 
professor had not even tried. Only the hard-headed 
grey man in the alpaca coat chewed animatedly, with 
bouncing jaws. Mountains of calamaio remained for 
the joyous blue-bottles. 

Arrived the inevitable meat this long piece of com- 
pletely tasteless undercut in innumerable grey-brown 
slices. Oh, Italy! The professor fled. 

Arrived the wash-leather pears, the apples, the 
oranges we saved an apple for a happier hour. 

Arrived coffee, and, as a magnificent treat, a few 
well-known pastries. They all taste wearily alike. 
The young woman shakes her head. I shake mine, but 
the q-b, like a child, is pleased. Most pleased of all, 
however, are the blue-bottles, who dart in a black- 
alpaca bunch to the tin altar, and there loudly buzz, 
wildly, above the sallow cakes. 

The citron-cheeked, dry one, however, cares darkly 
nothing for cakes. He comes once more to twit us 
about wine. So much so that the Cagliari girl orders 
a glass of Marsala: and I must second her. So there 
we are, three little glasses of brown liquid. The 
Cagliari girl sips hers and suddenly flees. The q-b sips 
hers with infinite caution, and quietly retires. I finish 
the q-b's little glass, and my own, and the voracious 



THE SEA 

blow-flies buzz derisively and excited. The yellow- 
cheeked one has disappeared with the bottle. 

From the professorial cabin faint wails, sometimes 
almost fierce, as one or another is going to be ill. Only 
a thin door is between this stateroom and them. The 
most down-trodden frayed ancient rag of a man goes 
discreetly with basins, trying not to let out glimpses of 
the awful within. I climb up to look at the vivid, 
drenching stars, to breathe the cold wind, to see the 
dark sea sliding. Then I too go to the cabin, and 
watch the sea run past the porthole for a minute, and 
insert myself like the meat in a sandwich into the tight 
lower bunk. Oh, infinitessimal cabin, where we sway 
like two matches in a match box! Oh strange, but 
even yet excellent gallop of a ship at sea. 

I slept not so badly through the stifled, rolling 
night in fact later on slept soundly. And the day 
was growing bright when I peered through the port- 
hole, the sea was much smoother. It was a brilliant 
clear morning. I made haste and washed myself 
cursorily in the saucer that dribbled into a pail in a 
corner: there was not space even for one chair, this 
saucer was by my bunk-head. And I went on deck. 

Ah the lovely morning! Away behind us the sun 
was just coming above the sea's horizon, and the sky 

[ 85 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

all golden, all a joyous, fire-heated gold, and the sea 
was glassy bright, the wind gone still, the waves sunk 
into long, low undulations, the foam of the wake was 
pale ice-blue in the yellow air. Sweet, sweet wide 
morning on the sea, with the sun coming, swimming up, 
and a tall sailing bark, with her flat fore-ladder of 
sails delicately across the light, and a far-far steamer 
on the electric vivid morning horizon. 

The lovely dawn: the lovely pure, wide morning in 
the mid-sea, so golden-aired and delighted, with the 
sea like sequins shaking, and the sky far, far, far above, 
unfathomably clear. How glad to be on a ship! 
What a golden hour for the heart of man! Ah if one 
could sail for ever, on a small quiet, lonely ship, from 
land to land and isle to isle, and saunter through the 
spaces of this lovely world, always through the spaces 
of this lovely world. Sweet it would be sometimes to 
come to the opaque earth, to block oneself against the 
stiff land, to annul the vibration of one's flight against 
the inertia of our terra firma! but life itself would be 
in the flight, the tremble of space. Ah the trembling 
of never-ended space, as one moves in flight! Space, 
and the frail vibration of space, the glad lonely wring- 
ing of the heart. Not to be clogged to the land any 
more. Not to be any more like a donkey with a log 

[ 86 ] 



THE SEA 

on its leg, fastened to weary earth that has no answer 
now. But to be off. 

To find three masculine, world-lost souls, and world- 
lost saunter, and saunter on along with them, across the 
dithering space, as long as life lasts! Why come to 
anchor? There is nothing to anchor for. Land has 
no answer to the soul any more. It has gone inert. 
Give me a little ship, kind gods, and three world-lost 
comrades. Hear me! And let me wander aimless 
across this vivid outer world, the world empty of man, 
where space flies happily. 

The lovely, celandine-yellow morning of the open 
sea, paling towards a rare, sweet blue! The sun stood 
above the horizon, like the great burning stigma of the 
sacred flower of day. Mediterranean sailing-ships, so 
mediaeval, hovered on the faint morning wind, as if 
uncertain which way to go, curious, odd-winged insects 
of the flower. The steamer, hull-down, was sinking 
towards Spain. Space rang clear about us: the level 
sea! 

Appeared the Cagliari young woman and her two 
friends. She was looking handsome and restored now 
the sea was easy. Her two male friends stood touch- 
ing her, one at either shoulder. 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

"Bonjour, Monsieur!" she barked across at me. 
"Vous avez pris le cafe?" 

"Pas encore. Et vous?" 

"Non! Madame votre femme. . . ." 

She roared like a mastiff dog: and then translated 
with unction to her two uninitiated friends. How it 
was they did not understand her French I do not know, 
it was so like travestied Italian. 

I went below to find the q-b. 

When we came up, the faint shape of land appeared 
ahead, more transparent than thin pearl. Already 
Sardinia. Magic are high lands seen from the sea, 
when they are far, far off, and ghostly translucent like 
ice-bergs. This was Sardinia, looming like fascinating 
shadows in mid-sea. And the sailing ships, as if cut 
out of frailest pearl translucency, were wafting away 
towards Naples. I wanted to count their sails five 
square ones which I call the ladder, one above the 
other but how many wing-blades? That remained 
yet to be seen. 

Our friend the carpenter spied us out: at least, he 
was not my friend. He didn't find me simfatico, I 
am sure. But up he came, and proceeded to entertain 
us with weary banality. Again the young woman 

[ 88 1 



THE SEA 

called, had we had coffee? We said we were just go- 
ing down. And then she said that whatever we had 
today we had to pay for: our food ended with the one 
day. At which the q-b was angry, feeling swindled. 
But I had known before. 

We went down and had our coffee notwithstanding. 
The young woman came down, and made eyes at one 
of the alpaca blue-bottles. After which we saw a cup 
of coffee and milk and two biscuits being taken to her 
into her cabin, discreetly. When Italians are being 
discreet and on the sly, the very air about them becomes 
tell-tale, and seems to shout with a thousand tongues. 
So with a thousand invisible tongues clamouring the 
fact, the young woman had her coffee secretly and 
gratis, in her cabin. 

But the morning was lovely. The q-b and I crept 
round the bench at the very stern of the ship and sat 
out of the wind and out of sight, just above the foam- 
ing of the wake. Before us was the open morning 
and the glisten of our ship's track, like a snail's path, 
trailing across the sea: straight for a little while, then 
giving a bend to the left, always a bend towards the 
left: and coming at us from the pure horizon, like a 
bright snail-path. Happy it was to sit there in the 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

stillness, with nothing but the humanless sea to shine 
about us. 

But no, we were found out. Arrived the carpenter, 

"Ah, you have found a fine place !" 

"Molto bello!" This from the q-b. I could not 
bear the irruption. 

He proceeded to talk and as is inevitable, the war. 
Ah, the war it was a terrible thing. He had become 
ill very ill. Because, you see, not only do you go 
without proper food, without proper rest and warmth, 
but, you see, you are in an agony of fear for your life 
all the time. An agony of fear for your life. And 
that's what does it. Six months in hospital ! The 
q-b, of course, was sympathetic 

The Sicilians are quite simple about it. They just 
tell you they were frightened to death, and it made 
them ill. The q-b, woman-like, loves them for being 
so simple about it. I feel angry somewhere. For 
they expect a full-blown sympathy. And however the 
great god Mars may have shrunk and gone wizened in 
the world, it still annoys me to hear him so blasphemed. 

Near us the automatic log was spinning, the thin 
rope trailing behind us in the sea. Erratically it jerked 
and spun, with spasmodic torsion. He explained that 
the little screw at the end of the line spun to the speed 

1 90 ] 



THE SEA 

of travelling. We were going from ten to twelve 
Italian miles to the hour. Ah, yes, we could go twenty. 
But we went no faster than ten or twelve, to save the 
coal. , -Hilll 

The coal il carbone! I knew we were in for it. 
England 1'Inghilterra she has the coal. And what 
does she do? She sells it very dear. Particularly to 
Italy. Italy won the war and now can't even have 
coal. Because why! The price. The exchange! il 
cambio. Now I am doubly in for it. Two countries 
had been able to keep their money high England and 
America. The English sovereign la sterlina and 
the American dollar sa y these were money. The 
English and the Americans flocked to Italy, with their 
sterlme and their dollari, and they bought what they 
wanted for nothing, for nothing. Ecco! Whereas 
we poor Italians we are in a state of ruination proper 
ruination. The allies, etc., etc. 

I am so used to it I am so wearily used to it. I 
can't walk a stride without having this wretched cambio y 
the exchange, thrown at my head. And this with an 
injured petulant spitefulness which turns my blood. 
For I assure them, whatever I have in Italy I pay for: 
and I am not England. I am not the British Isles on 
two legs. 

Germany La Germania she did wrong to make the 

[ 91 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

war. But there you are, that was war. Italy and 
Germany PItalia e la Germania they had always 
been friends. In Palermo. . . . 

My God, I felt I could not stand it another second. 
To sit above the foam and have this miserable creature 
stuffing wads of chewed newspaper into my ear no, I 
could not bear it. In Italy, there is no escape. Say 
two words, and the individual starts chewing old news- 
paper aqd stuffing it into you. No escape. You be- 
come if you are English l y lnghilterra y il car- 
bone y and il .cambio; and as England, coal and 
exchange you are treated. It is more than use- 
less to try to be human about it. You are a 
State usury system, a coal fiend and an exchange 
thief. Every Englishman has disappeared into this 
triple abstraction, in the eyes of the Italian, of the 
proletariat particularly. Try and get them to be hu- 
man, try and get them to see that you are simply an 
individual, if you can. After all, I am no more than 
a single human man wandering my lonely way across 
these years. But no to an Italian I am a perfected 
abstraction, England coal exchange. The Germans 
were once devils for inhuman theoretic abstracting of 
living beings. But now the Italians beat them. I am 
a walking column of statistics, which adds up badly for 

[ 9* ] 



THE SEA 

Italy. Only this and nothing more. Which being so, 
I shut my mouth and walk away. 

For the moment the carpenter is shaken off. But I 
am in a rage, fool that I am. It is like being pestered 
by their mosquitoes. The sailing ships are near and 
I count fifteen sails. Beautiful they look! Yet if I 
were on board somebody would be chewing newspaper 
at me, and addressing me as England coal exchange. 

The mosquito hovers and hovers. But 'the stony 
blank of the side of my cheek keeps him away. Yet 
he hovers. And the q-b feels sympathetic towards 
him: quite sympathetic. Because of course he treats 
her a bel -pezzo as if he would lick her boots, or 
anything else that she would let him lick. 

Meanwhile we eat the apples from yesterday's des- 
sert, and the remains of the q-b's Infant-Jesus-and- 
dove cake. The land is drawing nearer we can see 
the shape of the end promontory and peninsula and 
a white speck like a church. The bulk of the land is 
forlorn and rather shapeless, coming towards us: but 
attractive. 

Looking ahead towards the land gives us away. The 
mosquito swoops on us. Yes he is not sure he 
thinks the white speck is a church or a lighthouse. 

[ 93 1 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

When you pass the cape on the right, and enter the 
wide bay between Cape Spartivento and Cape Car- 
bonara, then you have two hours sail to Cagliari. We 
shall arrive between two and three o'clock. It is now 
eleven. 

Yes, the sailing ships are probably going to Naples. 
There is not much wind for them now. When there is 
wind they go fast, faster than our steamer. Ah 
Naples bella, bella, eh? A little dirty, say I. But 
what do you want? says he. A great city! Palermo 
of course is better. 

Ah the Neapolitan women he says, a propos or 
not. They do their hair so fine, so neat and beauti- 
ful but underneath sotto sotto they are dirty. 
This being received in cold silence, he continues: Not 
giriamo il mondo! Not, chi giriamo, conoscmmo il 
mondo. We travel about, and we know the world. 
Who we are, I do not know: his highness the Paler- 
mitan carpenter lout, no doubt. But we, who travel, 
know the world. He is preparing his shot. The 
Neapolitan women, and the English women, in this are 
equal: that they are dirty underneath. Underneath, 
they are dirty. The women of London 

But it is getting too much for me. 

"You who look for dirty women," say I, "find dirty 
women everywhere." 

[ 94 ] 



THE SEA 

He stops short and watches me. 

"No! No! You have not understood me. No! 
I don't mean that. I mean that the Neapolitan women 
and the English women have dirty underclothing " 

To which he gets no answer but a cold look and a 
cold cheek. Whereupon he turns to the q-b, and pro- 
ceeds to be simpatica. And after a few moments he 
turns again to me: 

"II signore is offended! He is offended with me." 

But I turn the other way. And at last he clears out : 
in triumph, I must admit: like a mosquito that has bit- 
ten one in the neck. As a matter of fact one should 
never let these fellows get into conversation nowadays. 
They are no longer human beings. They hate one's 
Englishness, and leave out the individual. 

We walk forward, towards the fore-deck, where the 
captain's lookout cabin is. The captain is an elderly 
man, silent and crushed: with the look of a gentleman. 
But he looks beaten down. Another, still another 
member of the tray-carrying department is just creep- 
ing up his ladder with a cup of black coffee. Return- 
ing, we peep down the skylight into the kitchen. And 
there we see roast chicken and sausages roast chicken 
and sausages! Ah, this is where the sides of kid and 
the chickens and the good things go: all down the 

[ 95 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

throats of the crew. There is no more food for us, 
until we land. 

We have passed the cape and the white thing 
is a lighthouse. And the fattish, handsome professor 
has come up carrying the little girl-child, while the 
f emalish elder brother leads the rabbit-fluffy small boy 
by the hand. So en jamille: so terribly en famille. 
They deposit themselves near us, and it threatens 
another conversation. But not for anything, my dears ! 

The sailors not sailors, some of the street-corner 
loafers, are hoisting the flag, the red-white-and-green 
Italian tricolor. It floats at the mast-head, and the 
femalish brother, in a fine burst of feeling, takes off his 
funny hat with a flourish and cries: 

"Ecco la bandiera italiana!" 

Ach, the hateful sentimentalism of these days. 

The land passes slowly, very slowly. It is hilly, 
but barren looking, with few trees. And it is not 
spikey and rather splendid, like Sicily. Sicily has 
style. We keep along the east side of the bay away 
in the west is Cape Spartivento. And still no sight of 
Cagliari. 

"Two hours yet!" cries the Cagliari girl. "Two 
hours before we eat. Ah, when I get on land, what 
a good meal I shall eat." 

[ 96 ] 



THE SEA 

The men haul in the automatic log. The sky is 
clouding over with that icy curd which comes after 
midday when the bitter north wind is blowing. It is 
no longer warm. 

Slowly, slowly we creep along the formless shore. 
An hour passes. We see a little fort ahead, done in 
enormous black-and-white checks, like a fragment of 
gigantic chess-board. It stands at the end of a long 
spit of land a long, barish peninsula that has no houses 
and looks as if it might be golf-links. But it is not 
golf-links. 

And suddenly there is Cagliari: a naked town rising 
steep, steep, golden-looking, piled naked to the sky 
from the plain at the head of the formless hollow bay. 
It is strange and rather wonderful, not a bit like Italy. 
The city piles up lofty and almost miniature, and makes 
me think of Jerusalem: without trees, without cover, 
rising rather bare and proud, remote as if back in his- 
tory, like a town in a monkish, illuminated missal. 
One wonders how it ever got there. And it seems 
like Spain or Malta: not Italy. It is a steep and 
lonely city, treeless, as in some old illumination. Yet 
withal rather jewel-like: like a sudden rose-cut amber 
jewel naked at the depth of the vast indenture. The 
air is cold, blowing bleak and bitter, the sky is all curd. 

[ 97 1 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

And that is Cagliari. It has that curious look, as if it 
could be seen, but not entered. It is like some vision, 
some memory, something that has passed away. 
Impossible that one can actually walk in that city: set 
foot there and eat and laugh there. Ah, no! Yet 
the ship drifts nearer, nearer, and we are looking for 
the actual harbour. 

The usual sea-front with dark trees for a promenade 
and palatial buildings behind, but here not so pink and 
gay, more reticent, more sombre of yellow stone. The 
harbour itself a little basin of water, into which we are 
slipping carefully, while three salt-barges laden with 
salt as white as snow creep round from the left, drawn 
by an infinitesimal tug. There are only two other for- 
lorn ships in the basin. It is cold on deck. The ship 
turns slowly round, and is being hauled to the quay 
side. I go down for the knapsack, and a fat blue-bottle 
pounces at me. 

"You pay nine francs fifty." 

I pay them, and we get off that ship. 



III. 

CAGLIARI. 

THERE is a very little crowd waiting on the 
quay: mostly men with their hands in their 
pockets. But, thank Heaven, they have a 
certain aloofness and reserve. They are not like the 
tourist-parasites of these post-war days, who move to 
the attack with a terrifying cold vindictiveness the mo- 
ment one emerges from any vehicle. And some of 
these men look really poor. There are no poor 
Italians any more: at least, loafers. 

Strange the feeling round the harbour: as if every- 
body had gone away. Yet there are people about. 
It is "festa" however, Epiphany. But it is so different 
from Sicily: none of the suave Greek-Italian charms, 
none of the airs and graces, none of the glamour. 
Rather bare, rather stark, rather cold and yellow 
somehow like Malta, without Malta's foreign liveli- 
ness. Thank Goodness no one wants to carry my knap- 
sack. Thank Goodness no one has a fit at the sight of 

[ 99 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

it. Thank Heaven no one takes any notice. They 
stand cold and aloof, and don't move. 

We make our way through the Customs: then 
through the Dazio, the City Customs-house. Then 
we are free. We set off up a steep, new, broad road, 
with little trees on either side. But stone, arid, new, 
wide stone, yellowish under the cold sky and aban- 
doned-seeming. Though, of course, there are people 
about. The north wind blows bitingly. 

We climb a broad flight of steps, always upwards, 
up the wide, precipitous, dreary boulevard with sprouts 
of trees. Looking for the Hotel, and dying with 
hunger. 

^ 

At last we find it, the Scala di Ferro: through a 
courtyard with green plants. And at last a little man 
with lank, black hair, like an esquimo, comes smiling. 
He is one brand of Sardinian esquimo looking. 
There is no room with two beds: only single rooms. 
And thus we are led off, if you please, to the "bagnio": 
the bathing-establishment wing, on the dank ground 
floor. Cubicles on either side a stone passage, and in 
every cubicle a dark stone bath, and a little bed. We 
can have each a little bath cubicle. If there's nothing 
else for it, there isn't: but it seems dank and cold and 
horrid, underground. And one thinks of all the un- 

[ 100 ] 




ISILI 



Jan Juta 



CAGLIARI 

savory "assignations" at these old bagnio places. True, 
at the end of the passage are seated two carabinieri. 
But whether to ensure respectibility or not, Heaven 
knows. We are in the baths, that's all. 

The esquimo returns after five minutes, however. 
There is a bedroom in the house. He is pleased, be- 
cause he didn't like putting us into the bagnio. Where 
he found the bedroom I don't know. But there it was, 
large, sombre, cold, and over the kitchen fumes of a 
small inner court like a well. But perfectly clean and 
all right. And the people seemed warm and good- 
natured, like human beings. One has got so used to 
the non-human ancient-souled Sicilians, who are suave 
and so completely callous. 

After a really good meal we went out to see the 
town. It was after three o'clock and everywhere was 
shut up like an English Sunday. Cold, stony Cagliari: 
in summer you must be sizzling hot, Cagliari, like a 
kiln. The men stood about in groups, but without the 
intimate Italian watchfulness that never leaves a passer- 
by alone. 

Strange, stony Cagliari. We climbed up a street 
like a corkscrew stairway. And we saw announcements 
of a children's fancy-dress ball. Cagliari is very steep. 
Half-way up there is a strange place called the bastions, 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

a large, level space like a drill-ground with trees, curi- 
ously suspended over the town, and sending off a long 
shoot like a wide viaduct, across above the corkscrew 
street that comes climbing up. Above this bastion place 
the town still rises steeply to the Cathedral and the 
fort. What is so curious is that this terrace or bastion 
is so large, like some big recreation ground, that it is 
almost dreary, and one cannot understand its being sus- 
pended in mid-air. Down below is the little circle of 
the harbour. To the left a low, malarial-looking sea 
plain, with tufts of palm trees and Arab-looking houses. 
From this runs out the long spit of land towards that 
black-and-white watch-fort, the white road trailing 
forth. On the right, most curiously, a long strange 
spit of sand runs in a causeway far across the shallows 
of the bay, with the open sea on one hand, and vast, 
end-of-the-world lagoons on the other. There are 
peaky, dark mountains beyond this just as across the 
vast bay are gloomy hills. It is a strange, strange 
landscape: as if here the world left off. The bay is 
vast in itself ; and all these curious things happening at 
its head: this curious, craggy-studded town, like a great 
stud of house-covered rock jutting up out of the bay 
flats: around it on one side the weary, Arab-looking 
palm-desolated malarial plain, and on the other side 
great salt lagoons, dead beyond the sand-bar: these 

[ 102 ] 



CAGLIARI 

backed again by serried, clustered mountains, suddenly, 
while away beyond the plain, hills rise to sea again. 
Land and sea both seem to give out, exhausted, at 
the bay head: the world's end. And into this world's 
end starts up Cagliari, and on either side, sudden, ser- 
pent-crest hills. 

But it still reminds me of Malta: lost between 
Europe and Africa and belonging to nowhere. Be- 
longing to nowhere, never having belonged to any- 
where. To Spain and the Arabs and the Phoenicians 
most. But as if it had never really had a fate. No 
fate. Left outside of time and history. 

The spirit of the place is a strange thing. Our 
mechanical age tries to override it. But it does not 
succeed. In the end the strange, sinister spirit of the 
place, so diverse and adverse in differing places, will 
smash our mechanical oneness into smithereens, and 
all that we think the real thing will go off with a pop, 
and we shall be left staring. 

On the great parapet above the Municipal Hall and 
above the corkscrew high-street a thick fringe of people 
is hanging, looking down. We go to look too: and 
behold, below there is the entrance to the ball. Yes, 
there is a china shepherdess in pale blue and powdered 
hair, crook, ribbons, Marie Antoinette satin daintiness 

[ 103 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

and all, slowly and haughtily walking up the road, and 
gazing superbly round. She is not more than twelve 
years old, moreover. Two servants accompany her. 
She gazes supremely from right to left as she goes, 
mincingly, and I would give her the prize for haughti- 
ness. She is perfect a little too haughty for Watteau, 
but "marquise" to a T. The people watch in silence. 
There is no yelling and screaming and running. They 
watch in a suitable silence. 

Comes a carriage with two fat bay horses slithering, 
almost swimming up the corkscrew high-street. That 
in itself is a "tour-de-force": for Cagliari doesn't have 
carriages. Imagine a street like a corkscrew stair, paved 
with slippery stone. And imagine two bay horses row- 
ing their way up it: they did not walk a single stride. 
But they arrived. And there fluttered out three 
strangely exquisite children, two frail, white satin Pier- 
rots and a white satin Pierrette. They were like fragile 
winter butterflies with black spots. They had a curious, 
indefinable remote elegance, something conventional 
and "fin-de-siecle". But not our century. The won- 
derful artificial delicacy of the eighteenth. The 
boys had big, perfect ruffs round their necks: and be- 
hind were slung old, cream-colored Spanish shawls, 
for warmth. They were frail as tobacco flowers, and 
with remote, cold elegance they fluttered by the car- 

[ 104 ] 



CAGLIARI 

riage, from which emerged a large black-satin Mama. 
Fluttering their queer little butterfly feet on the pave- 
ment, hovering round the large Mama like three frail- 
tissued ghosts, they found their way past the solid, 
seated Carabinieri into the hall. 

Arrived a primrose-brocade beau, with ruffles, and 
his hat under his arm: about twelve years old. Walk- 
ing statelily, without a qualm up the steep twist of the 
street. Or perhaps so perfect in his self -consciousness 
that it became an elegant "aplomb" in him. He was a 
genuine eighteenth-century exquisite, rather stiffer than 
the French, maybe, but completely in the spirit. Curi- 
ous, curious children! They had a certain stand-offish 
superbness, and not a single trace of misgiving. For 
them, their "noblesse" was indisputable. For the first 
time in my life I recognized the true cold superbness 
of the old "noblesse". They had not a single qualm 
about their own perfect representing of the higher 
order of being. 

Followed another white satin "marquise", with a 
maid-servant. They are strong on the eighteenth cen- 
tury in Cagliari. Perhaps it is the last bright reality 
to them. The nineteenth hardly counts. 

Curious the children in Cagliari. The poor seem 
thoroughly poor-bare-footed urchins, gay and wild in 

[ 105 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

the narrow dark streets. But the more well-to-do 
children are so fine: so extraordinarily elegantly- 
dressed. It quite strikes one of a heap. Not so much 
the grown-ups. The children. All the "chic," all 
the fashion, all the originality is expended on the chil- 
dren. And with a great deal of success. Better than 
Kensington Gardens very often. And they promen- 
ade with Papa and Mama with such alert assurance, 
having quite brought it off, their fashionable get-up. 
Who would have expected it? 

Oh narrow, dark, and humid streets going up to the 
Cathedral, like crevices. I narrowly miss a huge pail 
of slop-water which comes crashing down from heaven. 
A small boy who was playing in the street, and whose 
miss is not quite a clean miss, looks up with that naive, 
impersonal wonder with which children stare at a star 
or a lamp-lighter. 

The Cathedral must have been a fine old pagan 
stone fortress once. Now it has come, as it were, 
through the mincing machine of the ages, and oozed 
out baroque and sausagey, a bit like the horrible balda- 
chins in St. Peter's at Rome. None the less it is 
homely and hole-and-cornery, with a rather ragged 
high mass trailing across the pavement towards the 
high altar, since it is almost sunset, and Epiphany. 

[ 106 ] 



CAGLIARI 

It feels as if one might squat in a corner and play 
marbles and eat bread and cheese and be at home: a 
comfortable old-time churchey feel. 

There is some striking filet lace on the various altar- 
cloths. And St. Joseph must be a prime saint. He 
has an altar and a verse of invocation praying for the 
dying. 

"Oh, St. Joseph, true potential father of Our Lord." 
What can it profit a man, I wonder, to be the potential 
father of anybody! For the rest I am not Baedeker. 

The top of Cagliari is the fortress: the old gate, 
the old ramparts, of honey-combed, fine yellowish 
sandstone. Up in a great sweep goes the rampart wall, 
Spanish and splendid, dizzy. And the road creeping 
down again at the foot, down the back of the hill. 
There lies the country: that dead plain with its bunch 
of palms and a fainting sea, and inland again, hills. 
Cagliari must be on a single, loose, lost bluff of rock. 

From the terrace just below the fortress, above the 
town, not behind it, we stand and look at the sunset. 
It is all terrible, taking place beyond the knotted, ser- 
pent-crested hills that lie, bluey and velvety, beyond 
the waste lagoons. Dark, sultry, heavy crimson the 
west is, hanging sinisterly, with those gloomy blue 
cloud-bars and cloud-banks drawn across. All behind 

[ 107 i 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

the blue-gloomy peaks stretches the curtain of sinister, 
smouldering red, and away to the sea. Deep below 
lie the sea-meres. They seem miles and miles, and 
utterly waste. But the sand-bar crosses like a bridge, 
and has a road. All the air is dark, a sombre bluish 
tone. The great west burns inwardly, sullenly, and 
gives no glow, yet a deep red. It is cold. 

We go down the steep streets, smelly, dark, dank, 
and very cold. No wheeled vehicle can scramble up 
them, persumably. People live in one room. Men 
are combing their hair or fastening their collars in 
the doorways. Evening is here, and it is a feast day. 

At the bottom of the street we come to a little bunch 
of masked youths, one in a long yellow frock and a 
frilled bonnet, another like an old woman, another in 
red twill. They are arm in arm and are accosting the 
passers-by. The q-b gives a cry, and looks for escape. 
She has a terror of maskers, a terror that comes from 
childhood. To say the truth, so have I. We hasten 
invisibly down the far side of the street, and come out 
under the bastions. Then we go down our own famil- 
iar wide, short, cold boulevard to the sea. 

At the bottom, again, is a carriage with more mask- 
ers. Carnival is beginning. A man dressed as a 
peasant woman in native costume is clambering with 

[ 108 ] 



CAGLIARI 

his great wide skirts and wide strides on to the box, 
and, flourishing his ribboned whip, is addressing a 
little crowd of listeners. He opens his mouth wide 
and goes on with a long yelling harangue of taking 
a drive with his mother another man in old-woman's 
gaudy finery and wig who sits already bobbing on the 
box. The would-be daughter flourishes, yells, and 
prances up there on the box of the carriage. The 
crowd listens attentively and mildly smiles. It all 
seems real to them. The q-b hovers in the distance, 
half-fascinated, and watches. With a great flourish 
of whip and legs showing his frilled drawers the 
masker pulls round to drive along the boulevard by 
the sea the only place where one can drive. 

The big street by the sea is the Via Roma. It has 
the cafes on one side and across the road the thick 
tufts of trees intervening between the sea and us. 
Among these thick tufts of sea-front trees the little 
steam tram, like a little train, bumps to rest, after 
having wound round the back of the town. 

The Via Roma is all social Cagliari. Including the 
cafes with their outdoor tables on the one side of the 
road, and the avenue strand on the other, it is very 
wide, and at evening it contains the whole town. Here, 
and here alone carriages can spank along, very slowly, 

[ 109 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

officers can ride, and the people can promenade "en 



masse." 



We were amazed at the sudden crowd we found 
ourselves amongst like a short, dense river of people 
streaming slowly in a mass. There is practically no 
vehicular traffic only the steady dense streams of hu- 
man beings of all sorts, all on a human footing. It 
must have been something like this in the streets of 
imperial Rome, where no chariots might drive and 
humanity was all on foot. 

Little bunches of maskers, and single maskers 
danced and strutted along in the thick flow under the 
trees. If you are a mask you don't walk like a human 
being: you dance and prance along extraordinarily 
like the life-size marionettes, conducted by wires from 
above. That is how you go: with that odd jauntiness 
as if lifted and propelled by wires from the shoulders. 
In front of me went a charming coloured harlequin, 
all in diamond-shaped colours, and beautiful as a 
piece of china. He tripped with the light, fantastic 
trip, quite alone in the thick crowd, and quite blithe. 
Came two little children hand in hand in brilliant 
scarlet and white costumes, sauntering calmly. They 
did not do the mask trip. After a while a sky-blue 
girl with a high hat and full skirts, very short, that 
went flip-flip-flip, as a ballet dancer's, whilst she strut- 

[ no] 



CAGLIARI 

tedj after her a Spanish grandee capering like a 
monkey. They threaded among the slow stream of 
the crowd. Appeared Dante and Beatrice, in Para- 
dise apparently, all in white sheet-robes, and with sil- 
ver wreaths on their heads, arm in arm, and prancing 
very slowly and majestically, yet with the long lilt 
as if hitched along by wires from above. They were 
very good: all the well-known vision come to life, 
Dante incorporate, and white as a shroud, with his 
tow-haired, silver-crowned, immortal Beatrice on his 
arm, strutting the dark avenues. He had the nose 
and cheek-bones and banded cheek, and the stupid 
wooden look, and offered a modern criticism on the 
Inferno. 

It had become quite dark, the lamps were lighted. 
We crossed the road to the Cafe Roma, and found a 
table on the pavement among the crowd. In a 
moment we had our tea. The evening was cold, 
with ice in the wind. But the crowd surged on, 
back and forth, back and forth, slowly. At the 
tables were seated mostly men, taking coffee or 
vermouth or aqua vitae, all familiar and easy, 
without the modern self-consciousness. There was 
a certain pleasant, natural robustness of spirit, and 
something of a feudal free-and-easiness. Then ar- 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

rived a family, with children, and nurse in her native 
costume. They all sat at table together, perfectly 
easy with one another, though the marvellous nurse 
seemed to be seated below the salt. She was bright 
as a poppy, in a rose-scarlet dress of fine cloth, with 
a curious little waistcoat of emerald green and purple, 
and a bodice of soft, homespun linen with great full 
sleeves. On her head she had a rose-scarlet and 
white head-dress, and she wore great studs of gold 
filigree, and similar ear-rings. The feudal-bourgeois 
family drank its syrup-drinks and watched the crowd. 
Most remarkable is the complete absence of self- 
consciousness. They all have a perfect natural "sang- 
froid," the nurse in her marvellous native costume 
is as thoroughly at her ease as if she were in her own 
village street. She moves and speaks and calls to a 
passer-by without the slightest constraint, and much 
more, without the slightest persumption. She is be- 
low the invisible salt, the invisible but insuperable 
salt. And it strikes me the salt-barrier is a fine thing 
for both parties: they both remain natural and human 
on either side of it, instead of becoming devilish, 
scrambling and pushing at the barricade. 

The crowd is across the road, under the trees near 
the sea. On this side stroll occasional pedestrians. 



CAGLIARI 

And I see my first peasant in costume. He is an 
elderly, upright, handsome man, beautiful in the black- 
and-white costume. He wears the full-sleeved white 
shirt and the close black bodice of thick, native frieze, 
cut low. From this sticks out a short kilt or frill, of 
the same black frieze, a band of which goes between 
the legs, between the full loose drawers of coarse 
linen. The drawers are banded below the knee into 
tight black frieze gaiters. On his head he has the long 
black stocking cap, hanging down behind. How hand- 
some he is, and so beautifully male! He walks with 
his hands loose behind his back, slowly, upright, and 
aloof. The lovely unapproachableness, indomitable. 
And the flash of the black and white, the slow stride 
of the full white drawers, the black gaiters and black 
cuirass with the bolero, then the great white sleeves 
and white breast again, and once more the black cap 
what marvellous massing of the contrast, marvellous, 
and superb, as on a magpie. How beautiful maleness 
is, if it finds its right expression. And how perfectly 
ridiculous it is made in modern clothes. 

There is another peasant too, a young one with a 
swift eye and hard cheek and hard, dangerous thighs. 
He has folded his stocking cap, so that it comes forward 
to his brow like a phrygian cap. He wears close knee 
breeches and close sleeved waistcoat of thick brownish 

[ "3 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

stuff that looks like leather. Over the waistcoat a 
sort of cuirass of black, rusty sheepskin, the curly 
wool outside. So he strides, talking to a comrade. 
How fascinating it is, after the soft Italians, to see 
these limbs in their close knee-breeches, so definite, so 
manly, with the old fierceness in them still. One re- 
alises, with horror, that the race of men is almost ex- 
tinct in Europe. Only Christ-like heroes and woman- 
worshipping Don Juans, and rabid equality-mongrels. 
The old, hardy, indomitable male is gone. His fierce 
singleness is quenched. The last sparks are dying out in 
Sardinia and Spain. Nothing left but the herd-pro- 
letariat and the herd-equality mongrelism, and the 
wistful poisonous self -sacrificial cultured soul. How 
detestable. 

But that curious, flashing, black-and-white costume! 
I seem to have known it before: to have worn it even: 
to have dreamed it. To have dreamed it: to have 
had actual contact with it. It belongs in some way 
to something in me to my past, perhaps. I don't 
know. But the uneasy sense of blood-familiarity 
haunts me. I know I have known it before. It is 
something of the same uneasiness I feel before Mount 
Eryx: but without the awe this time. 

In the morning the sun was shining from a blue, 

i 



CAGLIARI 

blue sky, but the shadows were deadly cold, and the 
wind like a flat blade of ice. We went out running to 
the sun. The hotel could not give us coffee and milk: 
only a little black coffee. So we descended to the sea- 
front again, to the Via Roma, and to our cafe. It 
was Friday: people seemed to be bustling in from the 
country with huge baskets. 

The Cafe Roma had coffee and milk, but no butter. 
We sat and watched the movement outside. Tiny 
Sardinian donkeys, the tiniest things ever seen, trotted 
their infinitesimal little paws along the road, drawing 
little wagons like handcarts. Their proportion is so 
small, that they make a boy walking at their side look 
like a tall man, while a natural man looks like a Cyclops 
stalking hugely and cruelly. It is ridiculous for a 
grown man to have one of these little creatures, hardly 
bigger than a fly, hauling his load for him. One is 
pulling a chest of drawers on a cart, and it seems to 
have a whole house behind it. Nevertheless it plods 
bravely, away beneath the load, a wee thing. 

They tell me there used to be flocks of these don- 
keys, feeding half wild on the wild, moor-like hills 
of Sardinia. But the war and also the imbecile 
wantonness of the war-masters consumed these flocks 
too, so that few are left. The same with the cattle. 
Sardinia, home of cattle, hilly little Argentine of the 

[ "5 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

Mediterranean, is now almost deserted. It is war, 
say the Italiana. And also the wanton, imbecile, 
foul lavishness of the war-masters. It was not 
alone the war which exhausted the world. It was 
the deliberate evil wastefulness of the war-makers in 
their own countries. Italy ruined Italy. 

Two peasants in black-and-white are strolling in the 
sun, flashing. And my dream of last evening was not 
a dream. And my nostalgia for something I know 
not what was not an illusion. I feel it again, at once, 
at the sight of the men in frieze and linen, a heart 
yearning for something I have known, and which I 
want back again. 

It is market day. We turn up the Largo Carlo- 
Felice, the second wide gap of a street, a vast but 
very short boulevard, like the end of something. 
Cagliari is like that: all bits and bobs. And by the 
side of the pavement are many stalls, stalls selling 
combs and collar-studs, cheap mirrors, handkerchiefs, 
shoddy Manchester goods, bed-ticking, boot-paste, 
poor crockery, and so on. But we see also Madame 
of Cagliari going marketing, with a servant accom- 
panying her, carrying a huge grass-woven basket: or 
returning from marketing, followed by a small boy 

[ "6 ] 



CAGLIARI 

supporting one of these huge grass-woven baskets 
like huge dishes on his head, piled with bread, eggs, 
vegetables, a chicken, and so forth. Therefore we 
follow Madame going marketing, and find ourselves 
in the vast market house, and it fairly glows with eggs: 
eggs in these great round dish-baskets of golden grass: 
but eggs in piles, in mounds, in heaps, a Sierra Nevada 
of eggs, glowing warm white. How they glow! I 
have never noticed it before. But they give off a 
warm, pearly effulgence into the air, almost a warmth. 
A pearly-gold heat seems to come out of them. 
Myriads of eggs, glowing avenues of eggs. 

And they are marked 60 centimes, 65 centimes. 
Ah, cries the q-b, I must live in Cagliari For in Sicily 
the eggs cost 1.50 each. 

This is the meat and poultry and bread market. 
There are stalls of new, various-shaped bread, brown 
and bright: there are tiny stalls of marvellous native 
cakes, which I want to taste, there is a great deal of 
meat and kid: and there are stalls of cheese, all cheeses, 
all shapes, all whitenesses, all the cream-colours, on 
into daffodil yellow. Goat cheese, sheeps cheese, Swiss 
cheese, Parmegiano, stracchino, caciocavallo, torolone, 
how many cheeses I don't know the names of! But 
they cost about the same as in Sicily, eighteen francs, 
twenty francs, twenty-five francs the kilo. And there is 

[ "7 1 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

lovely ham thirty and thirty-five francs the kilo. 
There is a little fresh butter too thirty or thirty-two 
francs the kilo. Most of the butter, however, is 
tinned in Milan. It costs the same as the fresh. 
There are splendid piles of salted black olives, and 
huge bowls of green salted olives. There are chickens 
and ducks and wild-fowl: at eleven and twelve and 
fourteen francs a kilo. There is mortadella, the enor- 
mous Bologna sausage, thick as a church pillar: 16 
francs: and there are various sorts of smaller sausage, 
salami, to be eaten in slices. A wonderful abundance 
of food, glowing and shining. We are rather late 
for fish, especially on Friday. But a barefooted man 
offers us two weird objects from the Mediterranean, 
which teems with marine monsters. 

The peasant women sit behind their wares, their 
home-woven linen skirts, hugely full, and of various 
colours, ballooning round them. The yellow baskets 
give off a glow of light. There is a sense of profusion 
once more.^ But alas no sense of cheapness: save the 
eggs. Every month, up goes the price of everything. 

"I must come and live in Cagliari, to do my shop- 
ping here," says the q-b. "I must have one of those 
big grass baskets." 

We went down to the little street but saw more 
baskets emerging from a broad flight of stone stairs, 

[ "8 ] 



CAGLIARI 

enclosed. So up we went and found ourselves in 
the vegetable market. Here the q-b was happier still. 
Peasant women, sometimes barefoot, sat in their tight 
little bodices and voluminous, coloured skirts behind 
the piles of vegetables, and never have I seen a love- 
lier show. The intense deep green of spinach seemed 
to predominate, and out of that came the monuments 
of curd-white and black-purple cauliflowers: but mar- 
vellous cauliflowers, like a flower-show, the purple 
ones intense as great bunches of violets. From this 
green, white, and purple massing struck out the vivid 
rose-scarlet and blue crimson of radishes, large radishes 
like little turnips, in piles. Then the long, slim, grey- 
purple buds of artichokes, and dangling clusters of 
dates, and piles of sugar-dusty white figs and sombre- 
looking black figs, and bright burnt figs: basketfuls 
and basketfuls of figs. A few baskets of almonds, 
and many huge walnuts. Basket-pans of native rais- 
ins. Scarlet peppers like trumpets: magnificient fen- 
nels, so white and big and succulent: baskets of new 
potatoes: scaly kohlrabi: wild asparagus in bunches, 
yellow-budding sparacelli: big, clean-fleshed carrots: 
feathery salads with white hearts: long, brown-purple 
onions and then, of course pyramids of big oranges, 
pyramids of pale apples, and baskets of brilliant shiny 
mandarini, the little tangerine oranges with their green- 

[ "9 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

black leaves. The green and vivid-coloured world of 
fruit-gleams I have never seen in such splendour as 
under the market roof at Cagliari : so raw and gorgeous. 
And all quite cheap, the one remaining cheapness, ex- 
cept potatoes. Potatoes of any sort are 1.40 or 1.50 
the kilo. 

"Oh!" cried the q-b, "If I don't live at Cagliari 
and come and do my shopping here, I shall die with 
one of my wishes unfulfilled." 

But out of the sun it was cold, nevertheless. We 
went into the streets to try and get warm. The sun 
was powerful. But alas, as in southern towns gener- 
ally, the streets are sunless as wells. 

So the q-b and I creep slowly along the sunny bits, 
and then perforce are swallowed by shadow. We look 
at the shops. But there is not much to see. Little> 
frowsy provincial shops, on the whole. 

But a fair number of peasants in the streets, and 
peasant women in rather ordinary costume: tight- 
bodiced, volume-skirted dresses of hand-woven linen 
or thickish cotton. The prettiest is of dark-blue-and- 
red, stripes-and-lines, intermingled, so made that the 
dark-blue gathers round the waist into one colour, the 
myriad pleats hiding all the rosy red. But when she 
walks, the full-petticoated peasant woman, then the 

[ 120 ] 



CAGLIARI 

red goes flash-flash-flash, like a bird showing its colours. 
Pretty that looks in the sombre street. She has a 
plain, light bodice with a peak: sometimes a little vest, 
and great full white sleeves, and usually a handker- 
chief or shawl loose knotted. It is charming the way 
they walk, with quick, short steps. When all is said 
and done, the most attractive costume for women in 
my eye, is the tight little bodice and the many-pleated 
skirt, full and vibrating with movement. It has a 
charm which modern elegance lacks completely a 
bird-like play in movement. 

They are amusing, these peasant girls and women: 
so brisk and defiant. They have straight backs, like 
little walls, and decided, well-drawn brows. And 
they are amusingly on the alert. There is no eastern 
creeping. Like sharp, brisk birds they dart along the 
streets, and you feel they would fetch you a bang 
over the head as leave as look at you. Tenderness, 
thank heaven, does not seem to be a Sardinian quality. 
Italy is so tender like cooked macaroni yards and 
yards of soft tenderness ravelled round everything. 
Here men don't idealise women, by the looks of things. 
Here they don't make these great leering eyes, the 
inevitable yours-to-command look of Italian males. 
When the men from the country look at these women, 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

then it is Mind-yourself, my lady. I should think 
the grovelling Madonna-worship is not much of a 
Sardinian feature. These women have to look out for 
themselves, keep their own back-bone stiff and their 
knuckles hard. Man is going to be male Lord if he 
can. And woman isn't going to give him too much 
of his own way, either. So there you have it, the 
fine old martial split between the sexes. It is tonic 
and splendid, really, after so much sticky interming- 
ling and backboneless Madonna-worship. The Sar- 
dinian isn't looking for the "noble woman nobly 
planned." No, thank you. He wants that young 
madam over there, a young stiff-necked generation 
that she is. Far better sport than with the nobly- 
planned sort : hollow frauds that they are. Better sport 
too than with a Carmen, who gives herself away too 
much. In these women there is something shy and 
defiant and un-get-atable. The defiant, splendid split 
between the sexes, each absolutely determined to de- 
fend his side, her side, from assault. So the meeting 
has a certain wild, salty savour, each the deadly 
unknown to the other. And at the same time, each 
his own, her own native pride and courage, taking 
the dangerous leap and scrambling back. 

Give me the old, salty way of love. How I am 
[ 122 ] 



CAGLIARI 

nauseated with sentiment and nobility, the macaroni 
slithery-slobbery mess of modern adorations. 

One sees a few fascinating faces in Cagliari: those 
great dark unlighted eyes. There are fascinating dark 
eyes in Sicily, bright, big, with an impudent point of 
light, and a curious roll, and long lashes: the eyes of 
old Greece, surely. But here one sees eyes of soft, 
blank darkness, all velvet, with no imp looking out 
of them. And they strike a stranger, older note: be- 
fore the soul became self-conscious: before the men- 
tality of Greece appeared in the world. Remote, al- 
ways remote, as if the intelligence lay deep within the 
cave, and never came forward. One searches into 
the gloom for one second, while the glance lasts. But 
without being able to penetrate to the reality. It re- 
cedes, like some unknown creature deeper into its lair. 
There is a creature, dark and potent. But what? 

Sometimes Velasquez, and sometimes Goya gives us 
a suggestion of these large, dark, unlighted eyes. And 
they go with fine, fleecy black hair almost as fine as 
fur. I have not seen them. north of Cagliari. 

The q-b spies some of the blue-and-red stripe-and- 
line cotton stuff of which the peasants make their dress: 
a large roll in the doorway of a dark shop. In we 

[ 123 1 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

go, and begin to feel it. It is just soft, thickish cotton 
stuff twelve francs a metre. Like most peasant pat- 
terns, it is much more complicated and subtle than ap- 
pears: the curious placing of the stripes, the subtle 
proportion, and a white thread left down one side only 
of each broad blue block. The stripes, moreover, run 
across the cloth, not lengthwise with it. But the 
width would be just long enough for a skirt though 
the peasant skirts have almost all a band at the bottom 
with the stripes running round-ways. 

The man he is the esquimo type, simple, frank 
and aimiable says the stuff is made in France, and this 
the first roll since the war. It is the old, old pattern, 
quite correct but the material not quite so good. 
The q-b takes enough for a dress. 

He shows us also cashmeres, orange, scarlet, sky- 
blue, royal blue: good, pure- wool cashmeres that were 
being sent to India, and were captured from a German 
mercantile sub-marine. So he says. Fifty francs a 
metre very, very wide. But they are too much 
trouble to carry in a knapsack, though their brilliance 
fascinates. 

So we stroll and look at the shops, at the filigree 
gold jewelling of the peasants, at a good bookshop. 
But there is little to see and therefore the question is ; 
shall we go on? Shall we go forward? 

[ 124 ] 



CAGLIARI 

There are two ways of leaving Cagliari for the 
north: the State railway that runs up the west side of 
the island, and the narrow-gauge secondary railway 
that pierces the centre. But we are too late for the 
big trains. So we will go by the secondary railway, 
wherever it goes. 

There is a train at 2.30, and we can get as far as 
Mandas, some fifty miles in the interior. When we tell 
the queer little waiter at the hotel, he says he comes 
from Mandas, and there are two inns. So after 
lunch a strictly fish menu we pay our bill. It 
comes to sixty odd francs for three good meals each, 
with wine, and the night's lodging, this is cheap, as 
prices now are in Italy. 

Pleased with the simple and friendly Scala di Ferre, 
I shoulder my sack and we walk off to the second sta- 
tion. The sun is shining hot this afternoon burning 
hot, by the sea. The road and the buildings look dry 
and desiccated, the harbour rather weary and end of 
the world. 

There is a great crowd of peasants at the little 
station. And almost every man has a pair of woven 
saddle-bags a great flat strip of coarse-woven wool, 
with flat pockets at either end, stuffed with purchases. 
These are almost the only carrying bags. The men 

[ 125 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

sling them over their shoulder, so that one great pocket 
hangs in front, one behind. 

These saddle bags are most fascinating. They are 
coarsely woven in bands of raw black-rusty wool, with 
varying bands of raw white wool or hemp or cotton 
the bands and stripes of varying widths going cross- 
wise. And on the pale bands are woven sometimes 
flowers in most lovely colours, rose-red and blue and 
green, peasant patterns and sometimes fantastic ani- 
mals, beasts, in dark wool again. So that these striped 
zebra bags, some wonderful gay with flowery colours 
on their stripes, some weird with fantastic, griflin- 
like animals, are a whole landscape in themselves. 

The train has only first and third class. It costs 
about thirty francs for the two of us, third class to 
Mandas, which is some sixty miles. In we crowd with 
the joyful saddlebags, into the wooden carriage with 
its many seats. 

And, wonder of wonders, punctually to the second, 
off we go, out of Cagliari. En route again. 



[ 126 



IV. 

MANDAS. 



THE coach was fairly full of people, returning 
from market. On these railways the third 
-^j^duioD o;ut pspiAip ;ou SJ-E ssip^OD ss-ep 
ments. They are left open, so that one sees every- 
body, as down a room. The attractive saddlebags, 
bercole y were disposed anywhere, and the bulk of the 
people settled down to a lively conversazione. It is 
much nicest, on the whole, to travel third class on the 
railway. There is space, there is air, and it is like 
being in a lively inn, everybody in good spirits. 

At our end was plenty of room. Just across the 
gangway was an elderly couple, like two children, com- 
ing home very happily. He was fat, fat all over, 
with a white moustache and a little not-unamiable 
frown. She was a tall lean, brown woman, in a brown 
full-skirted dress and black apron, with huge pocket. 
She wore no head covering, and her iron grey hair 
was parted smoothly. They were rather pleased and 
excited being in the train. She took all her money 

[ 1*7 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

out of her big pocket, and counted it and gave it to 
him: all the ten Lira notes, and the five Lira and the 
two and the one, peering at the dirty scraps of pink- 
backed one-lira notes to see if they were good. Then 
she gave him her half-pennies. And he stowed them 
away in the trouser pocket, standing up to push them 
down his fat leg. And then one saw, to one's amaze- 
ment, that the whole of his shirt-tail was left out be- 
hind, like a sort of apron worn backwards. Why 
a mystery. He was one of those fat, good-natured, 
unheeding men with a little masterful frown, such as 
usually have tall, lean, hard-faced, obedient wives. 

They were very happy. With amazement he 
watched us taking hot tea from the Thermos flask. 
I think he too had suspected it might be a bomb. He 
had blue eyes and standing-up white eyebrows. 

"Beautiful hot !" he said, seeing the tea steam. 
It is the inevitable exclamation. "Does it do you 
good?" 

"Yes," said the q-b. "Much good." And they 
both nodded complacently. They were going home. 

The train was running over the malarial-looking 
sea-plain past the down-at-heel palm trees, past the 
mosque-looking buildings. At a level crossing the 
woman crossing-keeper darted out vigorously with her 

[ 128 ] 



MANDAS 

red flag. And we rambled into the first village. It 
was built of sun-dried brick-adobe houses, thick adobe 
garden-walls, with tile ridges to keep off the rain. 
In the enclosures were dark orange trees. But the 
clay-coloured villages, clay-dry, looked foreign: the 
next thing to mere earth they seem, like fox-holes or 
coyote colonies. 

Looking back, one sees Cagliari bluff on her rock, 
rather fine, with the thin edge of the sea's blade curv- 
ing round. It is rather hard to believe in the real sea, 
on this sort of clay-pale plain. 

But soon we begin to climb to the hills. And soon 
the cultivation begins to be intermittent. Extraordin- 
ary how the heathy, moor-like hills come near the sea: 
extraordinary how scrubby and uninhabited the great 
spaces of Sardinia are. It is wild, with heath and 
arbutus scrub and a sort of myrtle, breast-high. Some- 
times one sees a few head of cattle. And then again 
come the greyish arable-patches, where the corn is 
grown. It is like Cornwall, like the Land's End re- 
gion. Here and there, in the distance, are peasants 
working on the lonely landscape. Sometimes it is one 
man alone in the distance, showing so vividly in his 
black-and-white costume, small and far-off like a soli- 
tary magpie, and curioulsy distinct. All the strange 

[ 129 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

magic of Sardinia is in this sight. Among the low, 
moor-like hills, away in a hollow of the wide landscape 
one solitary figure, small but vivid black-and-white, 
working alone, as if eternally. There are patches and 
hollows of grey arable land, good for corn. Sardinia 
was once a great granary. 

Usually, however, the peasants of the South have 
left off the costume. Usually it is the invisible soldiers' 
grey-green cloth, the Italian khaki. Wherever you go, 
wherever you be, you see this khaki, this grey-green 
war-clothing. How many millions of yards of the 
thick, excellent, but hateful material the Italian gov- 
ernment must have provided I don't know: but enough 
to cover Italy with a felt carpet, I should think. It is 
everywhere. It cases the tiny children in stiff and 
neutral frocks and coats, it covers their extinguished 
fathers, and sometimes it even encloses the women in 
its warmth. It is symbolic of the universal grey mist 
that has come over men, the extinguishing of all bright 
individuality, the blotting out of all wild singleness. 
Oh democracy! Oh khaki democracy! 

This is very different from Italian landscape. Italy 
is almost always dramatic, and perhaps invariably ro- 
mantic. There is drama in the plains of Lombardy, 
and romance in the Venetian lagoons, and sheer scenic 

I 130 ] 



MANDAS 

excitement in nearly all the hilly parts of the peninsula. 
Perhaps it is the natural floridity of limestone forma- 
tions. But Italian landscape is really eighteenth-cen- 
tury landscape, to be represented in that romantic- 
classic manner which makes everything rather marvel- 
ous and very topical: aqueducts, and ruins upon sugar- 
loaf mountains, and craggy ravines and Wilhelm 
Meister water-falls: all up and down. 

Sardinia is another thing. Much wider, much more 
ordinary, not up-and-down at all, but running away 
into the distance. Unremarkable ridges of moor-like 
hills running away, perhaps to a bunch of dramatic 
peaks on the southwest. This gives a sense of space, 
which is so lacking in Italy. Lovely space about one, 
and traveling distances nothing finished, nothing 
final. It is like liberty itself, after the peaky confine- 
ment of Sicily. Room give, me room give me room 
for my spirit: and you can have all the toppling crags 
of romance. 

So we ran on through the gold of the afternoon, 
across a wide, almost Celtic landscape of hills, our lit- 
tle train winding and puffing away very nimbly. Only 
the heath and scrub, breast-high, man-high, is too big 
and brigand-like for a Celtic land. The horns of 
black, wild-looking cattle show sometimes. 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

After a long pull, we come to a station after a stretch 
of loneliness. Each time, it looks as if there were 
nothing beyond no more habitations. And each time 
we come to a station. 

Most of the people have left the train. And as 
with men driving in a gig, who get down at every 
public-house, so the passengers usually alight for an 
airing at each station. Our old fat friend stands up and 
tucks his shirt-tail comfortably in his trousers, which 
trousers all the time make one hold one's breath, for 
they seem at each very moment to be just dropping 
right down: and he clambers out, followed by the long, 
brown stalk of a wife. 

So the train sits comfortably for five or ten minutes, 
in the way the trains have. At last we hear whistles 
and horns, and our old fat friend running and clinging 
like a fat crab to the very end of the train as it sets off. 
At the same instant a loud shriek and a bunch of shouts 
from outside. We all jump up. There, down the 
line, is the long brown stork of a wife. She had just 
walked back to a house some hundred yards off, for a 
few words, and has now seen the train moving. 

Now behold her with her hands thrown to heaven, 
and hear the wild shriek "Madonna!" through all the 
hubbub. But she picks up her two skirt-knees, and 
with her thin legs in grey stockings starts with a mad 

[ 132 ] 



MANDAS 

rush after the train. In vain. The train inexorably 
pursues its course. Prancing, she reaches one end of 
the platform as we leave the other end. Then she 
realizes it is not going to stop for her. And then, oh 
horror, her long arms thrown out in wild supplication 
after the retreating train: then flung aloft to God: then 
brought down in absolute despair on her head. And 
this is the last sight we have of her, clutching her poor 
head in agony and doubling forward. She is left 
she is abandoned. 

The poor fat husband has been all the time on the 
little outside platform at the end of the carriage, hold- 
ing out his hand to her and shouting frenzied scolding 
to her and frenzied yells for the train to stop. And 
the train has not stopped. And she is left left on 
that God-forsaken station in the waning light. 

So, his face all bright, his eyes round and bright as 
two stars, absolutely transfigured by dismay, chagrin, 
anger and distress, he comes and sits in his seat, ablaze, 
stiff, speechless. His face is almost beautiful in its 
blaze of conflicting emotions. For some time he is as 
if unconscious in the midst of his feelings. Then 
anger and resentment crop out of his consternation. 
He turns with a flash to the long-nosed, insidious, 
Phoenician-looking guard. Why couldn't they stop the 
train for her! And immediately, as if someone had set 

[ 133 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

fire to him, off flares the guard. Heh! the train 
can't stop for every person's convenience! The train 
is a train the time-table is a time-table. What did 
the old woman want to take her trips down the line for? 
Heh ! She pays the penalty for her own inconsiderate- 
ness. Had she paid for the train heh? And the 
fat man all the time firing off his unheeding and un- 
heeded answers. One minute only one minute if 
he, the conductor had told the driver! if he, the con- 
ductor, had shouted! A poor woman! Not another 
train! What was she going to do! Her ticket? And 
no money. A poor woman 

There was a train back to Cagliari that night, said 
the conductor, at which the fat man nearly burst out 
of his clothing like a bursting seed-pod. He bounced 
on his seat. What good was that? What good was 
a train back to Cagliari, when their home was in Snelli ! 
Making matters worse 

So they bounced and jerked and argued at one 
another, to their hearts' content. Then the conductor 
retired, smiling subtly, in a way they have. Our fat 
friend looked at us with hot, angry, ashamed, grieved 
eyes and said it was a shame. Yes, we chimed, it was 
a shame. Whereupon a self-important miss who said 
she came from some Collegio at Cagliari advanced and 
asked a number of impertinent questions in a tone of 

[ 134 ] 



MANDAS 

pert sympathy. After which our fat friend, left alone, 
covered his clouded face with his hand, turned his back 
on the world, and gloomed. 

It had all been so dramatic that in spite of ourselves 
we laughed, even while the q-b shed a few tears. 

Well, the journey lasted hours. We came to a sta- 
tion, and the conductor said we must get out: these 
coaches went no further. Only two coaches would 
proceed to Mandas. So we climbed out with our traps, 
and our fat friend with his saddle-bag, the picture of 
misery. 

The one coach into which we clambered was rather 
crowded. The only other coach was most of it first- 
class. And the rest of the train was freight. We were 
two insignificant passenger wagons at the end of a long 
string of freight-vans and trucks. 

There was an empty seat, so we sat on it: only to 
realize after about five minutes, that a thin old woman 
with two children her grandchildren was chunter- 
ing her head off because it was her seat why she had 
left it she didn't say. And under my legs was her bun- 
die of bread. She nearly went off her head. And 
over my head, on the little rack, was her bercola, her 
saddle-bag. Fat soldiers laughed at her good-natur- 
edly, but she fluttered and flipped like a. tart, feather- 

[ '3$ ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

less old hen. Since she had another seat and was 
quite comfortable, we smiled and let her chunter. So 
she clawed her bread bundle from under my legs, and, 
clutching it and a fat child, sat tense. 

It was getting quite dark. The conductor came and 
said that there was no more paraffin. If what there 
was in the lamps gave out, we should have to sit in the 
dark. There was no more paraffin all along the line. 
So he climbed on the seats, and after a long struggle, 
with various boys striking matches for him, he man- 
aged to obtain a light as big as a pea. We sat in 
this dair-obscur, and looked at the sombre-shadowed 
faces round us: the fat soldier with a gun, the hand- 
some soldier with huge saddle-bags, the weird, dark 
little man who kept exchanging a baby with a solid 
woman who had a white cloth tied round her head, 
a tall peasant-woman in costume, who darted out at a 
dark station and returned triumphant with a piece of 
chocolate: a young and interested young man, who told 
us every station. And the man who spat: there is 
always one. 

Gradually the crowd thinned. At a station we saw 
our fat friend go by, bitterly, like a betrayed soul, his 
bulging saddle-bag hanging before and after, but no 
comfort in it now no comfort. The pea of light 

[ 136 ] 



MANDAS 

from the paraffin lamp grew smaller. We sat in in- 
credible dimness, and the smell of sheeps-wool and 
peasant, with only our fat and stoic young man to tell 
us where we were. The other dusky faces began to 
sink into a dead, gloomy silence. Some took to sleep. 
And the little train ran on and on, through unknown 
Sardinian darkness. In despair we drained the last 
drop of tea and ate the last crusts of bread. We knew 
we must arrive some time. 

It was not much after seven when we came to Man- 
das. Mandas is a junction where these little trains 
sit and have a long happy chat after their arduous 
scramble over the downs. It had taken us somewhere 
about five hours to do our fifty miles. No wonder 
then that when the junction at last heaves in sight 
everybody bursts out of the train like seeds from an 
exploding pod, and rushes somewhere for something. 
To the station restaurant, of course. Hence there is 
a little station restaurant that does a brisk trade, and 
where one can have a bed. 

A quite pleasant woman behind the little bar: a 
brown woman with brown parted hair and brownish 
eyes and brownish, tanned complexion and tight brown 
velveteen bodice. She led us up a narrow winding 
stone stair, as up a fortress, leading on with her candle, 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

and ushered us into the bedroom. It smelled horrid 
and sourish, as shutup bedrooms do. We threw open 
the window. There were big frosty stars snapping 
ferociously in heaven. 

The room contained a huge bed, big enough for eight 
people, and quite clean. And the table on which stood 
the candle actually had a cloth. But imagine that 
cloth! I think it had been originally white: now, how- 
ever, it was such a web of time-eaten holes and mourn- 
ful black inkstains and poor dead wine stains that it 
was like some 2000 B. C. mummy-cloth. I wonder if 
it could have been lifted from that table: or if it was 
mummified on to it! I for one made no attempt to 
try. But that table-cover impressed me, as showing 
degrees I had not imagined. A table-cloth. 

We went down the fortress-stair to the eating-room. 
Here was a long table with soup-plates upside down 
and a lamp burning an uncanny naked acetylene flame. 
We sat at the cold table, and the lamp immediately be- 
gan to wane. The room in fact the whole of Sar- 
dinia was stone cold, stone, stone cold. Outside the 
earth was freezing. Inside there was no thought of 
any sort of warmth: dungeon stone floors, dungeon 
stone walls and a dead, corpse-like atmosphere, too 
heavy and icy to move. 

The lamp went quite out, and the q-b gave a cry. 

[ 138 ] 



MANDAS 

The brown woman poked her head through a hole in 
the wall. Beyond her we saw the flames of the cook- 
ing, and two devil-figures stirring the pots. The 
brown woman came and shook the lamp it was like a 
stodgy porcelain mantelpiece vase shook it well and 
stirred up its innards, and started it going once more. 
Then she appeared with a bowl of smoking cabbage 
soup, in which were bits of macaroni: and would we 
have wine? I shuddered at the thought of death-cold 
red wine of the country, so asked what else there was. 
There was malvagia malvoisie, the same old malmsey 
that did for the Duke of Clarence. So we had a pint 
of malvagia, and were comforted. At least we were 
being so, when the lamp went out again. The brown 
woman came and shook and smacked it, and started it 
off again. But as if to say "Shan't for you", it whipped 
out again. 

Then came the host with a candle and a pin, a large, 
genial Sicilian with pendulous mustaches. And he 
thoroughly pricked the wretch with the pin, shook it, 
and turned little screws. So up flared the flame. We 
were a little nervous. He asked us where we came 
from, etc. And suddenly he asked us, with an excited 
gleam, were we Socialists. Aha, he was going to hail 
us as citizens and comrades. He thought we were a 
pair of Bolshevist agents: I could see it. And as such 

t 139 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

he was prepared to embrace us. But no, the q-b dis- 
claimed the honor. I merely smiled and shook my 
head. It is a pity to rob people of their exciting 
illusions. 

"Ah, there is too much socialism everywhere!" cried 
the q-b. 

"Ma perhaps, perhaps " said the discreet Sicilian. 
She saw which way the land lay, and added: 

"Si vuole un -pocchetino di Socialismo: one wants a 
tiny bit of socialism in the world, a tiny bit. But not 
much. Not much. At present there is too much." 

Our host, twinkling at this speech which treated of 
the sacred creed as if it were a pinch of salt in the broth, 
believing the q-b was throwing dust in his eyes, and 
thoroughly intrigued by us as a pair of deep ones, re- 
tired. No sooner had he gone than the lamp-flame 
stood up at its full length, and started to whistle. The 
q-b drew back. Not satisfied by this, another flame 
suddenly began to whip round the bottom of the burner, 
like a lion lashing its tail. Unnerved, we made room: 
the q-b cried again: in came the host with a subtle smile 
and a pin and an air of benevolence, and tamed the 
brute. 

What else was there to eat? There was a piece of 
fried pork for me, and boiled eggs for the q-b. As 
we were proceeding with these, in came the remainder 



MANDAS 

of the night's entertainment: three station officials, two 
in scarlet peaked caps, one in a black-and-gold peaked cap. 
They sat down with a clamour, in their caps, as if there 
was a sort of invisible screen between us and them. 
They were young. The black cap had a lean and sar- 
donic look: one of the red-caps was little and ruddy , 
very young, with a little mustache: we called him the 
maialinoy the gay little black pig, he was so plump and 
food-nourished and frisky. The third was rather 
puffy and pale and had spectacles. They all seemed to 
present us the blank side of their cheek, and to intimate 
that no, they were not going to take their hats off, even 
if it were dinner-table and a strange signora. And 
they made rough quips with one another, still as if we 
were on the other side of the invisible screen. 

Determined however, to remove this invisible screen, 
I said Good-evening, and it was very cold. They mut- 
tered Good-evening, and yes, it was fresh. An Italian 
never says it is cold: it is never more than fresco. But 
this hint that it was cold they took as a hint at their 
caps, and they became very silent, till the woman came 
in with the soup-bowl. Then they clamoured at her, 
particularly the maialmo, what was there to eat. She 
told them beefsteaks of pork. Whereat they pulled 
faces. Or bits of boiled pork. They sighed, looked 
gloomy, cheered up, and said beefsteaks, then. 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

And they fell on their soup. And never, from 
among the steam, have I heard a more joyful trio of 
soup-swilkering. They sucked it in from their spoons 
with long, gusto-rich sucks. The maialino was the 
treble he trilled his soup into his mouth with a swift, 
sucking vibration, interrupted by bits of cabbage, which 
made the lamp start to dither again. Black-cap was 
the baritone j good, rolling spoon-sucks. And the one 
in spectacles was the bass: he gave sudden deep gulps. 
All was led by the long trilling of the maialino. Then 
suddenly, to vary matters, he cocked up his spoon in 
one hand, chewed a huge mouthful of bread, and swal- 
lowed it down with a smack-smack-smack! of his tongue 
against his palate. As children we used to call this 
"clapping". 

"Mother, she's clapping!" I would yell with anger, 
against my sister. The German word is schmatzen. 

So the maialino clapped like a pair of cymbals, while 
baritone and bass rolled on. Then in chimed the swift 
bright treble. 

At this rate however, the soup did not last long. 
Arrived the beefsteaks of pork. And now the trio was 
a trio of Castanet smacks and cymbal claps. Triumph- 
antly the maialino looked around. He out-smacked 
all. 

The bread of the country is rather coarse and brown, 

[ 142 ] 



MANDAS 

with a hard, hard crust. A large rock of this is perched 
on every damp serviette. The maialino tore his rock 
asunder, and grumbled at the black-cap, who had got a 
weird sort of three-cornered loaf -roll of pure white 
bread starch white. He was a swell with this white 
bread. 

Suddenly black-cap turned to me. Where had we 
come from, where were we going, what for? But in 
laconic, sardonic tone. 

"I like Sardinia," cried the q-b. 

"Why?" he asked sarcastically. And she tried to 
find out. 

"Yes, the Sardinians please me more than the Sici- 
lians," said I. 

"Why?" he asked sarcastically. 

"They are more open more honest." He seemed 
to turn his nose down. 

"The padrone is a Sicilian," said the mamlmo y stuff- 
ing a huge block of bread into his mouth, and rolling 
his insouciant eyes of a gay, well-fed little black pig 
towards the background. We weren't making much 
headway. 

"YouVe seen Cagliari?" the black-cap said to me, 
like a threat. 

"Yes! oh Cagliari pleases me Cagliari is beauti- 

[ 143 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

full" cried the q-b, who travels with a vial of melted 
butter ready for her parsnips. 

"Yes Cagliari is so-so Cagliari is very fair," said 
the black cap. "Cagliari e discrete." He was evi- 
dently proud of it. 

"And is Mandas nice?" asked the q-b. 

"In what way nice?" they asked, with immense 
sarcasm. 

"Is there anything to see?" 

"Hens," said the maialino briefly. They all bristled 
when one asked if Mandas was nice. 

"What does one do here?" asked the q-b. 

"Niente! At Mandas one does nothing. At Man- 
das one goes to bed when it's dark, like a chicken. At 
Mandas one walks down the road like a pig that is 
going nowhere. At Mandas a goat understands more 
than the inhabitants understand. At Mandas one needs 
socialism. . . ." 

They all cried out at once. Evidently Mandas was 
more than flesh and blood could bear for another min- 
ute to these three conspirators. 

"Then you are very bored here?" say I. 

"Yes." 

And the quiet intensity of that naked yes spoke more 
than volumes. 

"You would like to be in Cagliari?" 

[ H4 ] 



MANDAS 

"Yes." 

Silence, intense, sardonic silence had intervened. 
The three looked at one another and made a sour joke 
about Mandas. Then the black-cap turned to me. 

"Can you understand Sardinian?" he said. 

"Somewhat. More than Sicilian, anyhow." 

"But Sardinian is more difficult than Sicilian. It is 
full of words utterly unknown to Italian " 

"Yes, but," say I, "it is spoken openly, in plain 
words, and Sicilian is spoken all stuck together, none 
of the words there at all." 

He looks at me as if I were an imposter. Yet it is 
true. I find it quite easy to understand Sardinian. As 
a matter of fact, it is more a question of human ap- 
proach than of sound. Sardinian seems open and 
manly and downright. Sicilian is gluey and evasive, as 
if the Sicilian didn't want to speak straight to you. 
As a matter of fact, he doesn't. He is an over-cul- 
tured, sensitive, ancient soul, and he has so many sides 
to his mind that he hasn't got any definite one mind 
at all. He's got a dozen minds, and uneasily he's 
aware of it, and to commit himself to any one of them 
is merely playing a trick on himself and his interlocu- 
tor. The Sardinian, on the other hand, still seems to 
have one downright mind. I bump up against a down- 
right, smack-out belief in Socialism, for example. 

[ 145 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

The Sicilian is much too old in our culture to swallow 
Socialism whole: much too ancient and ruse not to be 
sophisticated about any and every belief. He'll go 
off like a squib: and then he'll smoulder acridly and 
sceptically even against his own fire. One sympathizes 
with him in retrospect. But in daily life it is unbear- 
able. 

"Where do you find such white bread?" say I to the 
black cap, because he is proud of it. 

"It comes from my home." And then he asks about 
the bread of Sicily. Is it any whiter than Ms the 
Mandas rock. Yes, it is a little whiter. At which 
they gloom again. For it is a very sore point, this 
bread. Bread means a great deal to an Italian: it is 
verily his staff of life. He practically lives on bread. 
And instead of going by taste, he now, like all the 
world, goes by eye. He has got it into his head that 
bread should be white, so that every time he fancies a 
darker shade in the loaf a shadow falls on his soul. 
Nor is he altogether wrong. For although, person- 
ally, I don't like white bread any more, yet I do like 
my brown bread to be made of pure, unmixed flour. 
The peasants in Sicily, who have kept their own wheat 
and make their own natural brown bread, ah, it is amaz- 
ing how fresh and sweet and clean their loaf seems, 
so perfumed, as home-bread used all to be before the 

[ 146 ] 



MANDAS 

war. Whereas the bread of the commune, the regula- 
tion supply, is hard, and rather coarse and rough, so 
rough and harsh on the palate. One gets tired to death 
of it. I suspect myself the maize meal mixed in. 
But I don't know. And finally the bread varies im- 
mensely from town to town, from commune to com- 
mune. The so-called just and equal distribution is all 
my-eye. One place has abundance of good sweet 
bread, another scrapes along, always stinted, on an al- 
lowance of harsh coarse stuff. And the poor suffer 
bitterly, really, from the bread-stinting, because they 
depend so on this one food. They say the inequality 
and the injustice of distribution comes from the 
Camorra la grande Camorra which is no more now- 
adays than a profiteering combine, which the poor hate. 
But for myself, I don't know. I only know that one 
town Venice, for example seems to have an endless 
supply of pure bread, of sugar, of tobacco, of salt 
while Florence is in one continual ferment of irritation 
over the stinting of these supplies which are all gov- 
ernment monopoly, doled out accordingly. 

We said Good-night to our three railway friends, 
and went up to bed. We had only been in the room 
a minute or two, when the brown woman tapped: and 
if you please, the black-cap had sent us one of his little 
white loaves. We were really touched. Such deli- 

[ 147 1 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

cate little generosities have almost disappeared from 
the world. 

It was a queer little bread three-cornered, and 
almost as hard as ships biscuit, made of starch flour. 
Not strictly bread at all. 

The night was cold, the blankets flat and heavy, but 
one slept quite well till dawn. At seven o'clock it was 
a clear, cold morning, the sun not yet up. Standing 
at the bedroom window looking out, I could hardly 
believe my eyes it was so like England, like Cornwall 
in the bleak parts, or Derbyshire uplands. There was 
a little paddock-garden at the back of the Station, 
rather tumble-down, with two sheep in it. There were 
several forlorn-looking out-buildings, very like Corn- 
wall. And then the wide, forlorn country road 
stretched away between borders of grass and low, dry- 
stone walls, towards a grey stone farm with a tuft 
of trees, and a naked stone village in the distance. 
The sun came up yellow, the bleak country glimmered 
bluish and reluctant. The low, green hill-slopes were 
divided into fields, with low drystone walls and ditches. 
Here and there a stone barn rose alone, or with a few 
bare, windy trees attached. Two rough-coated winter 
horses pastured on the rough grass, a boy came along 
the naked, wide, grass-bordered high-road with a couple 



MANDAS 

of milk cans, drifting in from nowhere: and it was all 
so like Cornwall, or a part of Ireland, that the old nos- 
talgia for the Celtic regions began to spring up in me. 
Ah, those old, drystone walls dividing the fields pale 
and granite-blenched! Ah, the dark, sombre grass, 
the naked sky! the forlorn horses in the wintry morn- 
ing! Strange is a Celtic landscape, far more moving, 
disturbing than the lovely glamor of Italy and Greece. 
Before the curtains of history lifted, one feels the 
world was like this this Celtic bareness and sombre- 
ness and air. But perhaps it is not Celtic at all: 
Iberian. Nothing is more unsatisfactory than our con- 
ception of what is Celtic and what is not Celtic. I 
believe there never were any Celts, as a race. As for 
the Iberians ! 

Wonderful to go out on a frozen road, to see the 
grass in shadow bluish with hoar-frost, to see the grass 
in the yellow winter-sunrise beams melting and going 
cold-twinkly. Wonderful the bluish, cold air, and 
things standing up in cold distance. After two south- 
ern winters, with roses blooming all the time, this 
bleakness and this touch of frost in the ringing morning 
goes to my soul like an intoxication. I am so glad, 
on this lonely naked road, I don't know what to do 
with myself. I walk down in the shallow grassy 
ditches under the loose stone walls, I walk on the little 

[ H9 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

ridge of grass, the little bank on which the wall is built, 
I cross the road across the frozen cow-droppings: and it 
is all so familiar to my feet, my very feet in contact, 
that I am wild as if I had made a discovery. And I 
realize that I hate lime-stone, to live on lime-stone or 
marble or any of those limey rocks. I hate them. 
They are dead rocks, they have no life thrills for the 
feet. Even sandstone is much better. But granite! 
Granite is my favorite. It is so live under the feet, 
it has a deep sparkle of its own. I like its roundnesses 
and I hate the jaggy dryness of limestone, that burns 
in the sun, and withers. 

After coming to a deep well in a grassy plot in a 
wide space of the road, I go back, across the sunny 
naked upland country, towards the pink station and its 
out-buildings. An engine is steaming its white clouds 
in the new light. Away to the left there is even a 
row of small houses, like a row of railway-mens' dwell- 
ings. Strange and familiar sight. And the station 
precincts are disorderly and rather dilapidated. I 
think of our Sicilian host. 

The brown woman gives us coffee, and very strong, 
rich goats' milk, and bread. After which the q-b 
and I set off once more along the road to the village. 
She too is thrilled. She too breathes deep. She too 

1 150] 



MANDAS 

feels s'pace around her, and freedom to move the limbs: 
such as one does not feel in Italy and Sicily, where all 
is so classic and fixed. 

The village itself is just a long, winding, darkish 
street, in shadow, of houses and shops and a smithy. 
It might almost be Cornwall: not quite. Something, 
I don't know what, suggests the stark burning glare of 
summer. And then, of course, there is none of the 
cosiness which climbing roses and lilac trees and cottage 
shops and haystacks would give to an English scene. 
This is harder, barer, starker, more dreary. An ancient 
man in the black-and-white costume comes out of a 
hovel of a cottage. The butcher carries a huge side of 
meat. The women peer at us but more furtive and 
reticent than the howling stares of Italy. 

So we go on, down the rough-cobbled street through 
the whole length of the village. And emerging on 
the other side, past the last cottage, we find ourselves 
again facing the open country, on the gentle down- 
slope of the rolling hill. The landscape continues the 
same: low, rolling upland hills, dim under the yellow 
sun of the January morning: stone fences, fields, grey- 
arable land: a man slowly, slowly ploughing with a 
pony and a dark-red cow: the road trailing empty across 
the distance: and then, the one violently unfamiliar 
note, the enclosed cemetery lying outside on the gentle 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

hill-side, closed in all round, very compact, with high 
walls: and on the inside face of the enclosure wall the 
marble slabs, like shut drawers of the sepulchres, shin- 
ing white, the wall being like a chest of drawers, or 
pigeon holes to hold the dead. Tufts of dark and 
plumy cypresses rise among the flat graves of the en- 
closure. In the south, cemeteries are walled off and 
isolated very tight. The dead, as it were, are kept 
fast in pound. There is no spreading of graves over 
the face of the country. They are penned in a tight 
fold, with cypresses to fatten on the bones. This is the 
one thoroughly strange note in the landscape. But 
all-pervading there is a strangeness, that strange feeling 
as if the deaths were barren, which comes in the south 
and the east, sun-stricken. Sun-stricken, and the heart 
eaten out by the dryness. 

"I like it! I like it!" cries the q-b. 

"But could you live here?" She would like to say 
yes, but daren't. 

We stray back. The q-b wants to buy one of those 
saddle-bag arrangements. I say what for? She says 
to keep things in. Ach! but peeping in the shops, we 
see one and go in and examine it. It is quite a sound 
one, properly made: but plain, quite plain. On the 
white cross-stripes there are no lovely colored flowers 
of rose and green and magenta: the three favorite Sar- 

[ 152 ] 



MANDAS 

dinian colors: nor are there any of the fantastic and 
griffin-like beasts. So it won't do. How much does 
it cost? Forty-five francs. 

There is nothing to do in Mandas. So we will take 
the morning train and go to the terminus, to Sorgono. 
Thus, we shall cross the lower slopes of the great cen- 
tral knot of Sardinia, the mountain knot called Gen- 
nargentu. And Sorgono we feel will be lovely. 

Back at the station we make tea on the spirit lamp, 
fill the thermos, pack the knapsack and the kitchenino, 
and come out into the sun of the platform. The q-b 
goes to thank the black-cap for the white bread, whilst 
I settle the bill and ask for food for the journey. The 
brown woman fishes out from a huge black pot in the 
background sundry hunks of coarse boiled pork, and 
gives me two of these, hot, with bread and salt. This 
is the luncheon. I pay the bill: which amounts to 
twenty-four francs, for everything. (One says francs 
or liras, irrespective, in Italy.) At that moment ar- 
rives the train from Cagliari, and men rush in, roaring 
for the soup or rather, for the broth. "Ready, 
ready!" she cries, going to the black pot. 



t 153 ] 



V. 
TO SORGONO. 

THE various trains in the junction squatted side 
by side and had long, long talks before at 
last we were off. It was wonderful to be 
running in the bright morning towards the heart of 
Sardinia, in the little train that seemed so familiar. 
We were still going third class, rather to the disgust 
of the railway officials at Mandas. 

At first the country was rather open : always the long 
spurs of hills, steep-sided, but not high. And from 
our little train we looked across the country, across hill 
and dale. In the distance was a little town, on a low 
slope. But for its compact, fortified look it might have 
been a town on the English downs. A man in the car- 
riage leaned out of the window holding out a white 
cloth, as a signal to someone in the far off town that 
he was coming. The wind blew the white cloth, the 
town in the distance glimmered small and alone in its 
hollow. And the little train pelted along. 

[ 154 ] 



TO SORGONO 

It was rather comical to see it. We were always 
climbing. And the line curved in great loops. So 
that as one looked out of the window, time and again 
one started, seeing a little train running in front of 
us, in a diverging direction, making big puffs of steam. 
But lo, it was our own little engine pelting off around 
a loop away ahead. We were quite a long train, but 
all trucks in front, only our two passenger coaches 
hitched on behind. And for this reason our own engine 
was always running fussily into sight, like some dog 
scampering in front and swerving about us, while we 
followed at the tail end of the thin string of trucks. 

I was surprised how well the small engine took the 
continuous steep slopes, how bravely it emerged on the 
sky-line. It is a queer railway. I would like to know 
who made it. It pelts up hill and down dale and round 
sudden bends in the most unconcerned fashion, not as 
proper big railways do, grunting inside deep cuttings 
and stinking their way through tunnels, but running 
up the hill like a panting, small dog, and having a look 
round, and starting off in another direction, whisking 
us behind unconcernedly. This is much more fun than 
the tunnel-and-cutting system. 

They told me that Sardinia mines her own coal: and 
quite enough for her own needs: but very soft, not fit 
for steam-purposes. I saw heaps of it: small, dull, 

[ 155 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

dirty-looking stuff. Truck-loads of it too. And 
truck-loads of grain. 

At every station we were left ignominiously planted, 
while the little engines they had gay gold names on 
their black little bodies strolled about along the side- 
lines, and snuffed at the various trucks. There we sat, 
at every station, while some truck was discarded and 
some other sorted out like a branded sheep, from the 
sidings and hitched on to us. It took a long time, this 
did. 

All the stations so far had had wire netting over the 
windows. This means malaria-mosquitoes. The ma- 
laria climbs very high in Sardinia. The shallow up- 
land valleys, moorland with their intense summer sun 
and the riverless, boggy behaviour of the water breed 
the pest inevitably. But not very terribly, as far as 
one can make out: August and September being the 
danger months. The natives don't like to admit there 
is any malaria: a tiny bit, they say, a tiny bit. As soon 
as you come to the trees there is no more. So they say. 
For many miles the landscape is moorland and down- 
like, with no trees. But wait for the trees. Ah, the 
woods and forests of Gennargentu: the woods and for- 
ests higher up: no malaria there! 

The little engine whisks up and up, around its loopy 

[ 156 ] 



TO SORGONO 

curves as if it were going to bite its own tail: we being 
the tail: then suddenly dives over the skyline out of 
sight. And the landscape changes. The famous woods 
begin to appear. At first it is only hazel-thickets, 
miles of hazel-thickets, all wild, with a few black cat- 
tle trying to peep at us out of the green myrtle and 
arbutus scrub which forms the undergrowth; and a 
couple of rare, wild peasants peering at the train. 
They wear the black sheepskin tunic, with the wool 
outside, and the long stocking caps. Like cattle they 
too peer out from between deep bushes. The myrtle 
scrub here rises man-high, and cattle and men are 
smothered in it. The big hazels rise bare above. It 
must be difficult getting about in these parts. 

Sometimes, in the distance one sees a black-and-white 
peasant riding lonely across a more open place, a tiny 
vivid figure. I like so much the proud instinct which 
makes a living creature distinguish itself from its back- 
ground. I hate the rabbity khaki protection-colouration. 
A black-and-white peasant on his pony, only a dot in 
the distance beyond the foliage, still flashes and domi- 
nates the landscape. Ha-ha! proud mankind! There 
you ride! But alas, most of the men are still khaki- 
muffled, rabbit-indistinguishable, ignominious. The 
Italians look curiously rabbity in the grey-green uni- 
form: just as our sand-colored khaki men look doggy. 

[ 157 1 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

They seem to scuffle rather abased, ignominious on the 
earth. Give us back the scarlet and gold, and devil 
take the hindmost. 

The landscape really begins to change. The hill- 
sides tilt sharper and sharper. A man is ploughing 
with two small red cattle on a craggy, tree-hanging 
slope as sharp as a roof-side. He stoops at the small 
wooden plough, and jerks the ploughlines. The oxen 
lift their noses to heaven, with a strange and beseeching 
snake-like movement, and taking tiny little steps with 
their frail feet, move slantingly across the slope-face, 
between rocks and tree-roots. Little, frail, jerky steps 
the bullocks take, and again they put their horns back 
and lift their muzzles snakily to heaven, as the man 
pulls the line. And he skids his wooden plough round 
another scoop of earth. It is marvellous how they 
hang upon that steep, craggy slope. An English la- 
bourer's eyes would bolt out of his head at the sight. 

There is a stream: actually a long tress of a water- 
fall pouring into a little gorge, and a stream-bed that 
opens a little, and shows a marvellous cluster of naked 
poplars away below. They are like ghosts. They 
have a ghostly, almost phosphorescent luminousness in 
the shadow of the valley, by the stream of water. If 
not phosphorescent, then incandescent: a grey, goldish- 

[ 158 1 



TO SORGONO 

pale incandescence of naked limbs and myriad cold- 
glowing twigs, gleaming strangely. If I were a 
painter I would paint them: for they seem to have liv- 
ing, sentient flesh. And the shadow envelopes them. 
Another naked tree I would paint is the gleaming 
mauve-silver fig, which burns its cold incandescence, 
tangled, like some sensitive creature emerged from the 
rock. A fig tree come forth in its nudity gleaming 
over the dark winter-earth is a sight to behold. Like 
some white, tangled sea anemone. Ah, if it could but 
answer! or if we had tree-speech! 

Yes, the steep valley sides become almost gorges, 
and there are trees. Not forests such as I had im- 
agined, but scattered, grey, smallish oaks, and some 
lithe chestnuts. Chestnuts with their long whips, and 
oaks with their stubby boughs, scattered on steep hill- 
sides where rocks crop out. The train perilously wind- 
ing round, half way up. Then suddenly bolting over 
a bridge and into a completely unexpected station. 
What is more, men crowd in the station is connected 
with the main railway by a post motor-omnibus. 

An unexpected irruption of men they may be 
miners or navvies or land-workers. They all have 
huge sacks: some lovely saddle-bags with rose-coloured 
flowers across the darkness. One old man is in full 

[ 159 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

black-and-white costume, but very dirty and coming to 
pieces. The others wear the tight madder-brown 
breeches and sleeved waistcoats. Some have the sheep- 
skin tunic, and all wear the long stocking cap. And 
how they smell! of sheep-wool and of men and goat. 
A rank scent fills the carriage. 

They talk and are very lively. And they have 
mediaeval faces, ruse, never really abandoning their 
defences for a moment, as a badger or a pole-cat never 
abandons its defences. There is none of the brother- 
liness and civilised simplicity. Each man knows he 
must guard himself and his own: each man knows the 
devil is behind the next bush. They have never known 
the post-Renaissance Jesus. Which is rather an eye- 
opener. 

Not that they are suspicious or uneasy. On the con- 
trary, noisy, assertive, vigorous presences. But with 
none of that implicit belief that everybody will be and 
ought to be good to them, which is the mark of our era. 
They don't expect people to be good to them: they 
don't want it. They remind me of half -wild dogs that 
will love and obey, but which won't be handled. They 
won't have their heads touched. And they won't be 
fondled. One can almost hear the half-savage growl. 

The long stocking caps they wear as a sort of crest, 
as a lizard wears his crest at mating time. They are 

1 60 



TO SORGONO 

always moving them, settling them on their heads. 
One fat fellow, young, with sly brown eyes and a young 
beard round his face folds his stocking-foot in three, 
so that it rises over his brow martial and handsome. 
The old boy brings his stocking-foot over the left ear. 
A handsome fellow with a jaw of massive teeth pushes 
his cap back and lets it hang a long way down his back. 
Then he shifts it forward over his nose, and makes it 
have two sticking-out points, like fox-ears, above his 
temples. It is marvellous how much expression these 
caps can take on. They say that only those born to 
them can wear them. They seem to be just long bags, 
nearly a yard long, of black stockinette stuff. 

The conductor comes to issue them their tickets. 
And they all take out rolls of paper money. Even a 
little mothy rat of a man who sits opposite me has quite 
a pad of ten-franc notes. Nobody seems short of a 
hundred francs nowadays: nobody. 

They shout and expostulate with the conductor. 
Full of coarse life they are: but so coarse! The hand- 
some fellow has his sleeved waistcoat open, and his 
shirt-breast has come unbuttoned. Not looking, it 
seems as if he wears a black undervest. Then sud- 
denly, one sees it is his own hair. He is quite black 
inside his shirt, like a black goat. 

But there is a gulf between oneself and them, They 
[ 161 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

have no inkling of our crucifixion, our universal con- 
sciousness. Each of them is pivoted and limited to 
himself, as the wild animals are. They look out, and 
they see other objects, objects to ridicule or mistrust or 
to sniff curiously at. But "thou shalt love thy neigh - 
bour as thyself" has never entered their souls at all, not 
even the thin end of it. They might love their neigh- 
bour, with a hot, dark, unquestioning love. But the 
love would probably leave off abruptly. The fascina- 
tion of what is beyond them has not seized on them. 
Their neighbour is a mere external. Their life is centri- 
petal, pivoted inside itself, and does not run out towards 
others and mankind. One feels for the first time the 
real old mediaeval life, which is enclosed in itself and 
has no interest in the world outside. 

And so they lie about on the seats, play a game, 
shout, and sleep, and settle their long stocking-caps: 
and spit. It is wonderful in them that at this time of 
day they still wear the long stocking-caps as part of 
their inevitable selves. It is a sign of obstinate and 
powerful tenacity. They are not going to be broken 
in upon by world-consciousness. They are not going 
into the world's common clothes. Coarse, vigorous, 
determined, they will stick to their own coarse dark 
stupidity and let the big world find its own way to its 

[ 162 ] 



TO SORGONO 

own enlightened hell. Their hell is their own hell, 
they prefer it unenlightened. 

And one cannot help wondering whether Sardinia 
will resist right through. Will the last waves of en- 
lightenment and world-unity break over them and wash 
away the stocking-caps? Or is the tide of enlighten- 
ment and world-unity already receding fast enough? 

Certainly a reaction is setting in, away from the old 
universality, back, away from cosmopolitanism and 
internationalism. Russia, with her Third Inter- 
national, is at the same time reacting most violently 
away from all other contact, back, recoiling on 
herself, into a fierce, unapproachable Russian- 
ism. Which motion will conquer? The workman's 
International, or the centripetal movement into na- 
tional isolation? Are we going to merge into one 
grey proletarian homogeneity? or are we going to 
swing back into more-or-less isolated, separate, defiant 
communities? 

Probably both. The workman's International move- 
ment will finally break the flow towards cosmopolitan- 
ism and world-assimilation, and suddenly in a crash 
the world will fly back into intense separations. The 
moment has come when America, that extremist in 
world-assimilation and world-oneness, is reacting into 
violent egocentricity, a truly Amerindian egocentricity. 

[ 163 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

As sure as fate we are on the brink of American empire. 

For myself, I am glad. I am glad that the era of 
love and oneness is over: hateful homogeneous world- 
oneness. I am glad that Russia flies back into savage 
Russianism, Scythism, savagely self-pivoting. I am 
glad that America is doing the same. I shall be glad 
when men hate their common, world-alike clothes, 
when they tear them up and clothe themselves fiercely 
for distinction, savage distinction, savage distinction 
against the rest of the creeping world: when America 
kicks the billy-cock and the collar-and-tie into limbo, and 
takes to her own national costume: when men fiercely 
react against looking all alike and being all alike, and 
betake themselves into vivid clan or nation-distinctions. 

The era of love and oneness is over. The era of 
world-alike should be at an end. The other tide has 
set in. Men will set their bonnets at one another 
now, and fight themselves into separation and sharp 
distinction. The day of peace and oneness is over, 
the day of the great fight into multifariousness is at 
hand. Hasten the day, and save us from proletarian 
homogeneity and khaki all-alikeness. 

I love my indomitable coarse men from mountain 
Sardinia, for their stocking-caps and their splendid, 
animal-bright stupidity. If only the last wave of all- 

[ 164 ] 



TO SORGONO 

alikeness won't wash those superb crests, those caps, 
away. 

We are struggling now among the Gennargentu 
spurs. There is no single peak no Etna of Sardinia. 
The train, like the plough, balances on the steep, steep 
sides of the hill-spurs, and winds around and around. 
Above and below the steep slopes are all bosky. These 
are the woods of Gennargentu. But they aren't woods 
in my sense of the word. They are thin sprinkles of 
oaks and chestnuts and cork-trees over steep hill-slopes. 
And cork-trees! I see curious slim oaky-looking trees 
that are stripped quite naked below the boughs, stand- 
ing brown-ruddy, curiously distinct among the bluey 
grey pallor of the others. They remind me, again 
and again, of glowing, coffee-brown, naked aborigines 
of the South Seas. They have the naked suavity, skin- 
bare, and an intense coffee-red colour of unclothed 
savages. And these are the stripped cork-trees. Some 
are much stripped, some little. Some have the whole 
trunk and part of the lower limbs ruddy naked, some 
only a small part of the trunk. 

It is well on in the afternoon. A peasant in black 
and white, and his young, handsome woman in rose-red 
costume, with gorgeous apron bordered deep with 

[ 165 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

grass-green, and a little, dark-purple waistcoat over 
her white, full bodice, are sitting behind me talking. 
The workmen peasants are subsiding into sleep. It is 
well on in the afternoon, we have long ago eaten the 
meat. Now we finish the white loaf, the gift, and the 
tea. Suddenly looking out of the window, we see 
Gennargentu's mass behind us, a thick snow-deep knot- 
summit, beautiful beyond the long, steep spurs among 
which we are engaged. We lose the white mountain 
mass for half an hour: when suddenly it emerges un- 
expectedly almost in front, the great, snow-heaved 
shoulder. 

How different it is from Etna, that lonely, self- 
conscious wonder of Sicily! This is much more hu- 
man and knowable, with a deep breast and massive 
limbs, a powerful mountain-body. It is like the 
peasants. 

The stations are far between an hour from one to 
another. Ah, how weary one gets of these journeys, 
they last so long. We look across a valley a stone's 
throw. But alas, the little train has no wings, and 
can't jump. So back turns the line, back and back 
towards Gennargentu, a long rocky way, till it comes 
at length to the poor valley-head. This it skirts fuss- 
ily, and sets off to pelt down on its traces again, gaily. 

[ 166 ] 



TO SORGONO 

And a man who was looking at us doing our round- 
about has climbed down and crossed the valley in five 
minutes. 

The peasants nearly all wear costumes now, even 
the women in the fields: the little fields in the half- 
populated valleys. These Gennargentu valleys are all 
half-populated, more than the moors further south. 

It is past three o'clock, and cold where there is no 
sun. At last only one more station before the ter- 
minus. And here the peasants wake up, sling the bulg- 
ing sacks over their shoulders, and get down. We see 
Tonara away above. We see our old grimy black-and- 
white peasant greeted by his two women who have 
come to meet him with the pony daughters hand- 
some in vivid rose and green costume. Peasants, men 
in black and white, men in madder-brown, with the 
close breeches on their compact thighs, women in rose- 
and-white, ponies with saddle-bags, all begin to trail 
up the hill-road in silhouette, very handsome, towards 
the far-off, perched, sun-bright village of Tonara, a 
big village, shining like a New Jerusalem. 

The train as usual leaves us standing, and shuffles 
with trucks water sounds in the valley: there are 
stacks of cork on the station, and coal. An idiot girl 
in a great full skirt entirely made of coloured patches 

[ 167 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

mops and mows. Her little waistcoat thing is also in- 
credibly old, and shows faint signs of having once been 
a lovely purple and black brocade. The valley and 
steep slopes are open about us. An old shepherd has 
a lovely flock of delicate merino sheep. 

And at last we move. In one hour we shall be 
there. As we travel among the tree slopes, many 
brown cork-trees, we come upon a flock of sheep. Two 
peasants in our carriage looking out, give the most 
weird, unnatural, high-pitched shrieks, entirely unpro- 
duceable by any ordinary being. The sheep know, 
however, and scatter. And after ten minutes the 
shrieks start again, for three young cattle. Whether 
the peasants do it for love, I don't know. But it is 
the wildest and weirdest inhuman shepherd noise I 
have ever heard. 

It is Saturday afternoon and four o'clock. The 
country is wild and uninhabited, the train almost 
empty, yet there is the leaving-off-work feeling in 
the atmosphere. Oh twisty, wooded, steep slopes, oh 
glimpses of Gennargentu, oh nigger-stripped cork- 
trees, oh smell of peasants, oh wooden, wearisome 
railway carriage, we are so sick of you! Nearly seven 
hours of this journey already: and a distance of sixty 
miles. 

[ 168 ] 



TO SORGONO 

But we are almost there look, look, Sorgono, nest- 
ling beautifully among the wooded slopes in front. 
Oh magic little town. Ah, you terminus and gang- 
lion of the inland roads, we hope in you for a pleasant 
inn and happy company. Perhaps we will stay a day 
or two at Sorgono. 

The train gives a last sigh, and draws to a last stand- 
still in the tiny terminus station. An old fellow flut- 
tering with rags as a hen in the wind flutters, asked 
me if I wanted the Albergo y the inn. I said yes, and 
let him take my knapsack. Pretty Sorgono! As we 
went down the brief muddy lane between hedges, to 
the village high-road, we seemed almost to have come 
to some little town in the English west-country, or in 
Hardy's country. There were glades of stripling 
oaks, and big slopes with oak trees, and on the right 
a saw-mill buzzing, and on the left the town, white and 
close, nestling round a baroque church-tower. And 
the little lane was muddy. 

Three minutes brought us to the highroad, and a 
great, pink-washed building blank on the road facing 
the station lane, and labelled in huge letters: RISTOR- 
ANTE RISVEGLIO: the letter N being printed back- 
wards. Risveglio if you please: which means waking 
up or rousing, like the word reveille. Into the door- 
way of the Risveglio bolted the flutterer. "Half a 

[ 169 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

minute," said I. "Where is the Albergo d'ltalia?" 
I was relying on Baedeker. 

"Non c'e piu," replied my rag-feather. "There 
isn't it any more." This answer, being very frequent 
nowadays, is always most disconcerting. 

"Well then, what other hotel?" 

"There is no other." 

Risveglio or nothing. In we go. We pass into a 
big, dreary bar, where are innumerable bottles behind 
a tin counter. Flutter- jack yells: and at length appears 
mine host, a youngish fellow of the Esquimo type, 
but rather bigger, in a dreary black suit and a cutaway 
waistcoat suggesting a dinner-waistcoat, and innumer- 
able wine-stains on his shirt front. I instantly hated 
him for the filthy appearance he made. He wore a 
battered hat and his face was long unwashed. 

Was there a bedroom? 

Yes. 

And he led the way down the passage, just as dirty 
as the road outside, up the hollow, wooden stairs also 
just as clean as the passage, along a hollow, drum- 
rearing dirty corridor, and into a bedroom. Well, it 
contained a large bed, thin and flat with a grey-white 
counterpane, like a large, poor, marble-slabbed tomb 
in the room's sordid emptiness j one dilapidated chair 
on which stood the miserablest weed of a candle I have 

[ 170 ] 



TO SORGONO 

ever seen: a broken wash-saucer in a wire ring: and 
for the rest, an expanse of wooden floor as dirty-grey- 
black as it could be, and an expanse of wall charted 
with the bloody deaths of mosquitoes. The window 
was about two feet above the level of a sort of stable- 
yard outside, with a fowl-house just by the sash. 
There, at the window flew lousy feathers and dirty 
straw, the ground was thick with chicken-droppings. 
An ass and two oxen comfortably chewed hay in an 
open shed just across, and plump in the middle of the 
yard lay a bristly black pig taking the last of the sun. 
Smells of course were varied. 

The knapsack and the kitchenino were dropped on 
the repulsive floor, which I hated to touch with my 
boots even. I turned back the sheets and looked at 
other people's stains. 

"There is nothing else?" 

"Niente," said he of the lank, low forehead and 
beastly shirt-breast. And he sullenly departed. I 
gave the flutterer his tip and he too ducked and fled. 
Then the queen-bee and I took a few mere sniffs. 

"Dirty, disgusting swine!" said I, and I was in a 
rage. 

I could have forgiven him anything, I think, except 
his horrible shirt-breast, his personal shamelessness. 

We strolled round saw various other bedrooms, 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

some worse, one really better. But this showed signs 
of being occupied. All the doors were open: the 
place was quite deserted, and open to the road. The 
one thing that seemed definite was honesty. It must 
be a very honest place, for every footed beast, man or 
animal, could walk in at random and nobody to take 
the slightest regard. 

So we went downstairs. The only other apartment 
was the open public bar, which seemed like part of 
the road. A muleteer, leaving his mules at the corner 
of the Risveglio, was drinking at the counter. 

This famous inn was at the end of the village. 
We strolled along the road between the houses, down- 
hill. A dreary hole! a cold, hopeless, lifeless, Satur- 
day afternoon-weary village, rather sordid, with noth- 
ing to say for itself. No real shops at all. A weary- 
looking church, and a clutch of disconsolate houses. 
We walked right through the village. In the middle 
was a sort of open space where stood a great, grey 
motor-omnibus. And a bus-driver looking rather 
weary. 

Where did the bus go? 

It went to join the main railway. 

When? 

At half-past seven in the morning. 



TO SORGONO 

Only then? 

Only then. 

"Thank God we can get out, anyhow," said I. 

We passed on, and emerged beyond the village, still 
on the descending great high-road that was mended 
with loose stones pitched on it. This wasn't good 
enough. Besides, we were out of the sun, and the 
place being at a considerable elevation, it was very cold. 
So we turned back, to climb quickly uphill into the sun. 

We went up a little side-turning past a bunch of 
poor houses towards a steep little lane between banks. 
And before we knew where we were, we were in the 
thick of the public lavatory. In these villages, as I 
knew, there are no sanitary arrangements of any sort 
whatever. Every villager and villageress just betook 
himself at need to one of the side-roads. It is the 
immemorial Italian custom. Why bother about pri- 
vacy? The most socially-constituted people on earth, 
they even like to relieve themselves in company. 

We found ourselves in the full thick of one of these 
meeting-places. To get out at any price! So we 
scrambled up the steep earthen banks to a stubble field 
above. And by this time I was in a greater rage. 

Evening was falling, the sun declining. Below us 

[ 173 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

clustered the Sodom-apple of this vile village. Around 
were fair, tree-clad hills and dales, already bluish with 
the frost-shadows. The air bit cold and strong. In 
a very little time the sun would be down. We were 
at an elevation of about 2,500 feet above the sea. 

No denying it was beautiful, with the oak-slopes 
and the wistfulness and the far-off feeling of loneli- 
ness and evening. But I was in too great a temper to 
admit it. We clambered frenziedly to get warm. 
And the sun immediately went right down, and the ice- 
heavy blue shadow fell over us all. The village be- 
gan to send forth blue wood-smoke, and it seemed 
more than ever like the twilit West Country. 

But thank you we had to get back. And run the 
gauntlet of that stinking, stinking lane? Never. 
Towering with fury quite unreasonable, but there you 
are I marched the q-b down a declivity through a 
wood, over a ploughed field, along a cart-track, and so 
to the great high-road above the village and above 
the inn. 

It was cold, and evening was falling into dusk. Down 
the high-road came wild half -ragged men on ponies, 
in all degrees of costume and not-costume: came four 
wide-eyed cows stepping down-hill round the corner, 
and three delicate, beautiful merino sheep which stared 
at us with their prominent, gold-curious eyes: came an 

[ 174] 



TO SORGONO 

ancient, ancient man with a stick: came a stout-chested 
peasant carrying a long wood-pole: came a straggle of 
alert and triumphant goats, long-horned, long-haired, 
jingling their bells. Everbody greeted us hesitatingly. 
And everything came to a halt at the Risveglio corner, 
while the men had a nip. 

I attacked the spotty-breast again. 

Could I have milk? 

No. Perhaps in an hour there would be milk. 
Perhaps not. 

Was there anything to eat? 

No at half past seven there would be something 
to eat. 

Was there a fire? 

No the man hadn't made the fire. 

Nothing to do but to go to that foul bedroom or 
walk the highroad. We turned up the highroad again. 
Animals stood about the road in the frost-heavy air, 
with heads sunk passively, waiting for the men to 
finish their drinks in the beastly bar we walked slow- 
ly up the hill. In a field on the right a flock of merino 
sheep moved mistily, uneasily, climbing at the gaps 
in the broken road bank, and sounding their innumer- 
able small fine bells with a frosty ripple of sound. A 
figure which in the dusk I had really thought was 
something inanimate broke into movement in the field. 

[ 175 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

It was an old shepherd, very old, in very ragged dirty 
black-and-white, who had been standing like a stone 
there in the open field-end for heaven knows how 
long, utterly motionless, leaning on his stick. Now 
he broke into a dream-motion and hobbled after the 
wistful, feminine, inquisitive sheep. The red was 
fading from the far-off west. At the corner, climb- 
ing slowly and wearily, we almost ran into a grey 
and lonely bull, who came stepping down-hill in his 
measured fashion like some god. He swerved his 
head and went round us. 

We reached a place which we couldn't make out: 
then saw it was a cork-shed. There were stacks and 
stacks of cork-bark in the dusk, like crumpled hides. 

"Now Pm going back," said the q-b flatly, and she 
swung round. The last red was smouldering beyond 
the lost, thin-wooded hills of this interior. A fleece 
of blue, half-luminous smoke floated over the obscure 
village. The high-way wound downhill at our feet, 
pale and blue. 

And the q-b was angry with me for my fury. 

"Why are you so indignant! Anyone would think 
your moral self had been outraged! Why take it 
morally? You petrify that man at the inn by the 
very way you speak to him, such condemnation! Why 
don't you take it as it comes? It's all life." 

[ 176 ] 



TO SORGONO 

But no, my rage is black, black, black. Why, 
heaven knows. But I think it was because Sorgono 
had seemed so fascinating to me, when I imagined 
it beforehand. Oh so fascinating! If I had expected 
nothing I should not have been so hit. Blessed is he 
that expecteth nothing, for he shall not be disappointed. 

I cursed the degenerate aborigines, the dirty-breasted 
host who dared, to keep such an inn, the sordid villagers 
who had the baseness to squat their beastly human 
nastiness in this upland valley. All my praise of the 
long stocking-cap you remember? vanished from my 
mouth. I cursed them all, and the q-b for an inter- 
fering female. . . . 

In the bar a wretched candle was weeping light 
uneasy, gloomy men were drinking their Saturday- 
evening-home-coming dram. Cattle lay down in the 
road, in the cold air as if hopeless. 

Had the milk come? 

No. 

When would it come. 

He didn't know. 

Well, what were we to do? Was there no room? 
Was there nowhere where we could sit? 

Yes, there was the stanza now. 

Now! Taking the only weed of a candle, and 
[ 177 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

leaving the drinkers in the dark, he led us down a dark 
and stumbly earthen passage, over loose stones and 
an odd plank, as it would seem underground, to the 
stanza: the room. 

The stanza! It was pitch dark But suddenly I 
saw a big fire of oak-root, a brilliant, flamy, rich fire, 
and my rage in that second disappeared. 

The host, and the candle, forsook us at the door. 
The stanza would have been in complete darkness, 
save for that rushing bouquet of new flames in the 
chimney, like fresh flowers. By this firelight we saw 
the room. It was like a dungeon, absolutely empty, 
with an uneven, earthen floor, quite dry, and high bare 
walls, gloomy, with a handbreadth of window high up. 
There was no furniture at all, save a little wooden 
bench, a foot high, before the fire, and several home- 
made-looking rush mats rolled up and leaning against 
the walls. Furthermore a chair before the fire on 
which hung wet table-napkins. Apart from this, it 
was a high, dark, naked prison-dungeon. 

But it was quite dry, it had an open chimney, and 
a gorgeous new fire rushing like a waterfall upwards 
among the craggy stubs of a pile of dry oak roots. 
I hastily put the chair and the wet corpse-cloths to 
one side. We sat on the low bench side by side in 
the dark, in front of this rippling rich fire, in front 

1 178 ] 



TO SORGONO 

of the cavern of the open chimney, and we did not 
care any more about the dungeon and the darkness. 
Man can live without food, but he can't live without 
fire. It is an Italian proverb. We had found the 
fire, like new gold. And we sat in front of it, a little 
way back, side by side on the low form, our feet on the 
uneven earthen floor, and felt the flame-light rippling 
upwards over our faces, as if we were bathing in some 
gorgeous stream of fieriness. I forgave the dirty- 
breasted host everything and was as glad as if I had 
come into a kingdom. 

So we sat alone for half an hour, smiling into the 
flames, bathing our faces in the glow. From time to 
time I was aware of steps in the tunnel-like passage 
outside, and of presences peering. But no one came. 
I was aware too of the faint steaming of the beastly 
table-napkins, the only other occupants of the room. 

In dithers a candle, and an elderly, bearded man in 
gold-coloured corduroys, and an amazing object on a 
long, long spear. He put the candle on the mantel- 
ledge, and crouched at the side of the fire, arranging 
the oak-roots. He peered strangely and fixedly in the 
fire. And he held up the speared object before our 
faces. 

It was a kid that he had come to roast. But it was 

[ 179 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

a kid opened out, made quite flat, and speared like a 
flat fan on a long iron stalk. It was a really curious 
sight. And it must have taken some doing. The 
whole of the skinned kid was there, the head curled in 
against a shoulder, the stubby cut ears, the eyes, the 
teeth, the few hairs of the nostrils: and the feet curled 
curiously round, like an animal that puts its fore-paw 
over its ducked head: and the hind-legs twisted indes- 
cribably up: and all skewered flat-wise upon the long 
iron rod, so that it was a complete flat pattern. It re- 
minded me intensely of those distorted, slim-limbed, 
dog-like animals which figure on the old Lombard 
ornaments, distorted and curiously infolded upon them- 
selves. Celtic illuminations also have these distorted, 
involuted creatures. 

The old man flourished the flat kid like a banner- 
ette, whilst he arranged the fire. Then, in one side of 
the fire-place wall he poked the point of the rod. He 
himself crouched on the hearth-end, in the half-shadow 
at the other side of the fire-place, holding the further 
end of the long iron rod. The kid was thus extended 
before the fire, like a hand-screen. And he could 
spin it round at will. 

But the hole in the masonry of the chimney-piece 
was not satisfactory. The point of the rod kept slip- 
ping, and the kid came down against the fire. He mut- 

[ 180 ] 




SORGONO 



Jan Juta 



TO SORGONO 

tered and muttered to himself, and tried again. Then at 
length he reared up the kid-banner whilst he got large 
stones from a dark corner. He arranged these stones so 
that the iron point rested on them. He himself sat 
away on the opposite side of the fire-place, on the 
shadowy hearth-end, and with queer, spell-bound black 
eyes and completely immovable face, he watched the 
flames and the kid, and held the handle end of the rod. 

We asked him if the kid was for the evening meal 
and he said it was. It would be good! And he said 
yes, and looked with chargin at the bit of ash on the 
meat, where it had slipped. It is a point of honour 
that it should never touch the ash. Did they do all 
their meat this way? He said they did. And wasn't 
it difficult to put the kid thus on the iron rod? He said 
it was not easy, and he eyed the joint closely, and felt 
one of the forelegs, and muttered that was not fixed 
properly. 

He spoke with a very soft mutter, hard to catch, 
and sideways, never to us direct. But his manner was 
gentle, soft, muttering, reticent, sensitive. He asked 
us where we came from, and where we were going: al- 
ways in his soft mutter. And what nation were we, 
were we French? Then he went on to say there was 
a war but he thought it was finished. There was a 
war because the Austrians wanted to come into Italy 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

again. But the French and the English came to help 
Italy. A lot of Sardinians had gone to it. But let 
us hope it is all finished. He thought it was -young 
men of Sorgono had been killed. He hoped it was 
finished. 

Then he reached for the candle and peered at the 
kid. It was evident he was the born roaster. He held 
the candle and looked for a long time at the sizzling 
side of the meat, as if he would read portents. Then 
he held his spit to the fire again. And it was as if 
time immemorial were roasting itself another meal. 
I sat holding the candle. 

A young woman appeared, hearing voices. Her 
head was swathed in a shawl, one side of which was 
brought across, right over the mouth, so that only her 
two eyes and her nose showed. The q-b thought she 
must have toothache but she laughed and said no. 
As a matter of fact that is the way a head-dress is 
worn in Sardinia, even by both sexes. It is something 
like the folding of the Arab's burnoose. The point 
seems to be that the mouth and chin are thickly cov- 
ered, also the ears and brow, leaving only the nose 
and eyes exposed. They say it keeps off the malaria. 
The men swathe shawls round their heads in the same 

[ 182 ] 



TO SORGONO 

way. It seems to me they want to keep their heads 
warm, dark and hidden: they feel secure inside. 

She wore the workaday costume: a full, dark-brown 
skirt, the full white bodice, and a little waistcoat or 
corset. This little waistcoat in her case had become 
no more than a shaped belt, sending up graceful, stiff- 
ened points under the breasts, like long leaves standing 
up. It was pretty but all dirty. She too was pretty, 
but with an impudent, not quite pleasant manner. She 
fiddled with the wet napkins, asked us various questions, 
and addressed herself rather jerkily to the old man, 
who answered hardly at all Then she departed again. 
The women are self-conscious in a rather smirky way, 
bouncy. 

When she was gone I asked the old man if she was 
his daughter. He said very brusquely, in his soft 
mutter, No. She came from a village some miles 
away. He did not belong to the inn. He was, as 
far as I understood, the postman. But I may have 
been mistaken about the word. 

But he seemed laconic, unwilling to speak about the 
inn and its keepers. There seemed to be something 
queer. And again he asked where we were going. 
He told me there were now two motor-buses: a new 
one which ran over the mountains to Nuoro. Much 
better gp to Nuoro than to Abbasanta., Nuoro was 

[ 183 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

evidently the town towards which these villages looked, 
as a sort of capital. 

The kid-roasting proceeded very slowly, the meat 
never being very near the fire. From time to time 
the roaster arranged the cavern of red-hot roots. 
Then he threw on more roots. It was very hot. And 
he turned the long spit, and still I held the candle. 

Other people came strolling in, to look at us. But 
they hovered behind us in the dark, so I could not make 
out at all clearly. They strolled in the gloom of the 
dungeon-like room, and watched us. One came for- 
ward a fat, fat young soldier in uniform. I made 
place for him on the bench but he put out his hand 
and disclaimed the attention. Then he went away 
again. 

The old man propped up the roast, and then he too 
disappeared for a time. The thin candle guttered, 
the fire was no longer flamy but red. The roaster re- 
appeared with a new, shorter spear, thinner, and a great 
lump of raw hog-fat spitted on it. This he thrust 
into the red fire. It sizzled and smoked and spit fat, 
and I wondered. He told me he wanted it to catch 
fire. It refused. He groped in the hearth for the 
bits of twigs with which the fire had been started. 
These twig-stumps he stuck in the fat, like an orange 

[ 184 ] 



TO SORGONO 

stuck with cloves, then he held it in the fire again. 
Now at last it caught, and it was a flaming torch run- 
ning downwards with a thin shower of flaming fat. 
And now he was satisfied. He held the fat-torch 
with its yellow flares over the browning kid, which he 
turned horizontal for the occasion. All over the 
roast fell the flaming drops, till the meat was all shiny 
and browny. He put it to the fire again, holding the 
diminishing fat, still burning bluish, over it all the time 
in the upper air. 

While this was in process a man entered with a loud 
Good evening. We replied Good-evening and evi- 
dently he caught a strange note. He came and bent down 
and peered under my hat-brim, then under the q-b's 
hat-brim, we still wore hats and overcoats, as did every- 
body. Then he stood up suddenly and touched his 
cap and said Scusi excuse me. I said Niente, which 
one always says, and he addressed a few jovial words 
to the crouching roaster: who again would hardly ans- 
wer him. The omnibus was arrived from Oristano, 
I made out with few passengers. 

This man brought with him a new breezy atmos- 
phere, which the roaster did not like. However, I 
made place on the low bench, and the attention this 
time was accepted. Sitting down at the extreme end, 

[ 185 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

he came into the light, and I saw a burly man in the 
prime of life, dressed in dark brown velvet, with a 
blond little moustache and twinkling blue eyes and a 
tipsy look. I thought he might be some local trades- 
man or farmer. He asked a few questions, in a boister- 
ous familiar fashion, then went out again. He ap- 
peared with a small iron spit, a slim rod, in one hand, 
and in the other hand two joints of kid and a handful 
of sausages. He stuck his joints on his rod. But our 
roaster still held the interminable flat kid before the 
now red, flameless fire. The fat-torch was burnt out, 
the cinder pushed in the fire. A moment's spurt of 
flame, then red, intense redness again, and our kid be- 
fore it like a big, dark hand. 

"Eh," said the newcomer, whom I will call the giro- 
vago, "it's done. The kid's done. It's done." 

The roaster slowly shook his head, but did not ans- 
wer. He sat like time and eternity at the hearth-end, 
his face flame-flushed, his dark eyes still fire-abstract, 
still sacredly intent on the roast. 

"Na-na-na!" said the girovago. "Let another body 
see the fire." And with his pieces of meat awkwardly 
skewered on his iron stick he tried to poke under the 
authorised kid and get at the fire. In his soft mutter, 
the old man bade him wait for the fire till the fire was 
ready for him. But the girovago poked impudently 

[ 186 ] 



TO SORGONO 

and good humouredly, and said testily that the author- 
ised kid was done. 

"Yes, surely it is done," said I, for it was already a 
quarter to eight. 

The old roasting priest muttered, and, took out his 
knife from his pocket. He pressed the blade slowly, 
slowly deep into the meat: as far as a knife will go in 
a piece of kid. He seemed to be feeling the meat in- 
wardly. And he said it was not done. He shook his 
head, and remained there like time and eternity at the 
end of the rod. 

The girovago said Sangue di Dio, but couldn't roast 
his meat! And he tried to poke his skewer near the 
coals. So doing his pieces fell off into the ashes, and 
the invisible onlookers behind raised a shout of laugh- 
ter. However, he raked it out and wiped it with his 
hand and said No matter, nothing lost. 

Then he turned to me and asked the usual whence 
and whither questions. These answered, he said wasn't 
I German. I said No, I was English. He looked at 
me many times, shrewdly, as if he wanted to make out 
something. Then he asked, where were we domi- 
ciled and I said Sicily. And then, very pertinently, 
why had we come to Sardinia. I said for pleasure, 
and to see the island. 

[ 187 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

"Ah, per divertimento!" he repeated, half -musingly, 
not believing me in the least. 

Various men had now come into the room, though 
they all remained indistinct in the background. The 
girovago talked and jested abroad in the company, and 
the half -visible men laughed in a rather hostile manner. 

At last the old roaster decided the kid was done. 
He lifted it from the fire and scrutinised it thoroughly, 
holding the candle to it, as if it were some wonderful 
epistle from the flames. To be sure it looked mar- 
vellous, and smelled so good: brown, and crisp, and 
hot, and savoury, not burnt in any place whatever. It 
was eight o'clock. 

"It's done! It's done! Go away with it! Go." 
said the girovago, pushing the old roaster with his hand. 
And at last the old man consented to depart, hold- 
ing the kid like a banner. 

"It looks so good!" cried the q-b. "And I am so 
hungry." 

"Ha-ha! It makes one hungry to see good meat, 
Signora. Now it is my turn. Heh Gino " the 
girovago flourished his arm. And a handsome, un- 
washed man with a black moustache came forward 
rather sheepishly. He was dressed in soldier's clothes, 
neutral grey, and was a big, robust, handsome fellow 
with dark eyes and Mediterranean sheepishness. 

[ 188 ] 



TO SORGONO 

"Here, take it thou," said the girovago, pressing the 
long spit into his hand. "It is thy business, cook the 
supper, thou art the woman. But I'll keep the saus- 
ages and do them." 

The so-called woman sat at the end of the hearth, 
where the old roaster had sat, and with his brown, 
nervous hand piled the remaining coals together. The 
fire was no longer flamy: and it was sinking. The 
dark-browed man arranged it so that he could cook the 
meat. He held the spit negligently over the red mass. 
A joint fell off. The men laughed. "It's lost noth- 
ing," said the dark-browed man, as the girovago had 
said before; and he skewered it on again and thrust it 
to the fire. But meanwhile he was looking up from 
under his dark lashes at the girovago and at us. 

The girovago talked continually. He turned to me, 
holding the handful of sausages. 

"This makes the tasty bit," he said. 

"Oh yes good salsiccia," said I. 

"You are eating the kid? You are eating at the 
inn?" he said. I replied that I was. 

"No," he said. "You stay and eat with me. You 
eat with me. The sausage is good, the kid will soon 
be done, the fire is grateful." 

I laughed, not quite understanding him. He was 
certainly a bit tipsy. 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

"Signora," he said, turning to the q-b. She did not 
like him, he was impudent, and she shut a deaf ear to him 
as far as she could. "Signora," he said, "do you 
understand me what I say?" 

She replied that she did. 

"Signora," he said, "I sell things to the women. 
I sell them things." 

"What do you sell?" she asked in astonishment. 

"Saints," he said. 

"Saints!" she cried in more astonishment. 

"Yes, saints," he said with tipsy gravity. 

She turned in confusion to the company in the back- 
ground. The fat soldier came forward, he was the 
chief of the carabinieri. 

"Also combs and bits of soap and little mirrors," he 
explained sarcastically. 

"Saints!" said the girovago once more. "And also 
ragazzini also youngsters Wherever I go there is a 
little one comes running calling Babbo! Babbo! 
Daddy! Daddy! Wherever I go youngsters. 
And I'm the babbo." 

All this was received with a kind of silent sneer 
from the invisible assembly in the background. The 
candle was burning low, the fire was sinking too. In 
vain the dark-browed man tried to build it up. The 
q-b became impatient for the food. She got up wrath- 

[ 190 ] 



TO SORGONO 

fully and stumbled into the dark passage, exclaiming 
"Don't we eat yet?" 

"Eh Patience! Patience, Signora. It takes time 
in this house," said the man in the background. 

The dark-browed man looked up at the girovago 
and said: 

"Are you going to cook the sausages with your fing- 
ers?" 

He too was trying to be assertive and jesting, but 
he was the kind of person no one takes any notice of. 
The girovago rattled on in dialect, poking fun at us 
and at our being there in this inn. I did not quite 
follow. 

"Signora ! " said the girovago. "Do you understand 
Sardinian?" 

"I understand Italian and some Sardinian," she 
replied rather hotly. "And I know that you are try- 
ing to laugh at us to make fun of us." 

He laughed fatly and comfortably. 

"Ah Signora," he said. "We have a language that 
you wouldn't understand not one word. Nobody 
here would understand it but me and him " he 
pointed to the black-browed one. "Everybody would 
want an interpreter everybody." 

But he did not say interpreter he said mtre^rete y 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

with the accent on the penultimate, as if it were some 
sort of priest. 

"A what? "said I. 

He repeated with tipsy unction, and I saw what he 
meant. 

"Why?" said I. "Is it a dialect? What is your 
dialect?" 

"My dialect," he said, "is Sassari. I come from 
Sassari. If I spoke my dialect they would understand 
something. But if I speak this language they would 
want an interpreter." 

"What language is it then?" 

He leaned up to me, laughing. 

"It is the language we use when the women are 
buying things and we don't want them to know what 
we say: me and him " 

"Oh," said I. "I know. We have that language 
in England. It is called thieves Latin Latino dei 
furbi." 

The men at the back suddenly laughed, glad to 
turn the joke against the forward girovago. He 
looked down his nose at me. But seeing I was laugh- 
ing without malice, he leaned to me and said softly, 
secretly: 

"What is your affair then? What affair is it, yours? " 

"How? What?" I exclaimed, not understanding. 
[ 192 ] 



TO SORGONO 

"Che genere di affari? What sort of business?" 

"How affari?" said I, still not grasping. 

"What do you sell?" he said, flatly and rather spite- 
fully. "What goods?" 

"I don't sell anything," replied I, laughing to think 
he took us for some sort of strolling quacks or commer- 
cial travellers. 

"Cloth or something," he said cajolingly, slyly, 
as if to worm my secret out of me. 

"But nothing at all. Nothing at all," said I. "We 
have come to Sardinia to see the peasant costumes " 
I thought that might sound satisfactory. 

"Ah, the costumes!" he said, evidently thinking I 
was a deep one. And he turned bandying words with 
his dark-browed mate, who was still poking the meat 
at the embers and crouching on the hearth. The room 
was almost quite dark. The mate answered him back, 
and tried to seem witty too. But the girovago was the 
commanding personality! rather too much so: too im- 
pudent for the q-b, though rather after my own secret 
heart. The mate was one of those handsome, passive, 
stupid men. 

"Him!" said the girovago, turning suddenly to me 
and pointing at the mate. "He's my wife," 

"Your wife! "said I. 

[ 193 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

"Yes. He's my wife, because we're always to- 
gether." 

There had become a sudden dead silence in the 
background. In spite of it the mate looked up under 
his black lashes and said, with a half smile: 

"Don't talk, or I shall give thee a good bacio to- 
night." 

There was an instant's fatal pause, then the girovago 
continued: 

"Tomorrow is festa of Sant 'Antonio at Tonara. 
Tomorrow we are going to Tonara. Where are you 
going?" 

"To Abbasanta," said I. 

"Ah Abbasanta! You should come to Tonara. At 
Tonara there is a brisk trade and there are costumes. 
You should come to Tonara. Come with him and 
me to Tonara tomorrow, and we will do business to- 
gether." 

I laughed, but did not answer. 

"Come," said he. "You will like Tonara! Ah, 
Tonara is a fine place. There is an inn: you can eat 
well, sleep well. I tell you, because to you ten francs 
don't matter. Isn't that so? Ten francs don't matter 
to you. Well, then come to Tonara. What? What 
do you say?" 

I shook my head and laughed, but 4id not answer, 

[ 194 ] 



TO SORGONO 

To tell the truth I should have liked to go to Tonara 
with him and his mate and do the brisk trade: if only 
I knew what trade it would be. 

"You are sleeping upstairs?" he said to me. 

I nodded. 

"This is my bed," he said, taking one of the home- 
made rush mats from against the wall. I did not take 
him seriously at any point. 

"Do they make those in Sorgono?" I said. 

"Yes, in Sorgono they are the beds, you see ! And 
you roll up this end a bit so land that is the pillow." 

He laid his cheek sideways. 

"Not really," said I. 

He came and sat down again next to me, and my 
attention wandered. The q-b was raging for her din- 
ner. It must be quite half-past eight. The kid, the 
perfect kid would be cold and ruined. Both fire and 
candle were burning low. Someone had been out for 
a new candle, but there was evidently no means of re- 
plenishing the fire. The mate still crouched on the 
hearth, the dull red fire-glow on his handsome face, 
patiently trying to roast the kid and poking it against 
the embers. He had heavy, strong limbs in his khaki 
clothes, but his hand that held the spit was brown and 
tender and sensitive, a real Mediterranean hand. The 
girovago, blond, round-faced, mature and aggressive 

t 195 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

with all his liveliness, was more like a northerner. In 
the background were four or five other men, of whom 
I had distinguished none but a stout soldier, probably 
chief carabiniere. 

Just as the q-b was working up to the rage I had at 
last calmed down from, appeared the shawl-swathed 
girl announcing "Pronto!" 

"Pronto! Pronto!' said everybody. 

"High time, too," said the q-b, springing from the 
low bench before the fire. "Where do we eat? Is 
there another room?" 

"There is another room, Signora," said the cara- 
biniere. 

So we trooped out of the fire-warmed dungeon, 
leaving the girovago and his mate and two other men, 
muleteers from the road, behind us. I could see that 
it irked my girovago to be left behind. He was by far 
the strongest personality in the place, and he had the 
keenest intelligence. So he hated having to fall into 
the background, when he had been dragging all the 
lime-light on to himself all the evening. To me, too, 
he was something of a kindred soul that night. But 
there we are: fate, in the guise of that mysterious di- 
vision between a respectable life and a scamp's life 
divided us. There was a gulf between me and him, 

[ 196 ] 



TO SORGONO 

between my way and his. He was a kindred spirit 
but with a hopeless difference. There was something 
a bit sordid about him and he knew it. That is why 
he was always tipsy. Yet I like the lone wolf souls 
best better than the sheep. If only they didn't feel 
mongrel inside themselves. Presumably a scamp is 
bound to be mongrel. It is a pity the untamable, lone- 
wolf souls should always become pariahs, almost of 
choice: mere scamps. 

Top and bottom of it is, I regretted my girovago, 
though I knew it was no good thinking of him. His 
way was not my way. Yet I regretted him, I did. 

We found ourselves in a dining room with a long 
white table and inverted soup-plates, tomb-cold, lighted 
by an acetylene flare. Three men had accompanied us: 
the carabiniere, a little dark youth with a small black 
moustache, in a soldier's short, wool-lined great-coat: 
and a young man who looked tired round his blue 
eyes, and who wore a dark-blue overcoat, quite smart. 
The be-shawled damsel came in with the inevitable 
bowl of minestrone, soup with cabbage and cauliflower 
and other things. We helped ourselves, and the fat 
carabiniere started the conversation with the usual 
questions and where were we going tomorrow? 

I asked about buses. Then the responsible-looking, 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

tired-eyed youth told me he was the bus-driver. He 
had come from Oristano, on the main line, that day. 
It is a distance of some forty miles. Next morning 
he was going on over the mountains to Nuoro about 
the same distance again. The youth with the little 
black moustache and the Greek, large eyes, was his mate, 
the conductor. This was their run, from Oristano to 
Nuoro a course of ninety miles or more. And every 
day on, on, on. No wonder he looked nerve-tired. 
Yet he had that kind of dignity, the wistful seriousness 
and pride of a man in machine control: the only god- 
like ones today, those who pull the iron levers and are 
the gods in the machine. 

They repeated what the old roaster said: much nicer 
for us to go to Nuoro than to Abbasanta. So to Nuoro 
we decided to go, leaving at half-past nine in the 
morning. 

Every other night the driver and his mate spent in 
this benighted Risveglio inn. It must have been their 
bedroom we saw, clean and tidy. I said was the food 
always so late, was everything always as bad as today. 
Always if not worse, they said, making light of it, 
with sarcastic humor against the Risveglio. You spent 
your whole life at the Risveglio sitting, waiting, and 
going block-cold: unless you were content to drink 



TO SORGONO 

aqua vitae, like those in there. The driver jerked his 
head towards the dungeon. 

"Who were those in there?" said I. 

The one who did all the talking was a mercante, a 
mercante girovago, a wandering peddler. This was 
my girovago: a wandering peddler selling saints and 
youngsters! The other was his mate, who helped carry 
the pack. They went about together. Oh, my giro- 
vago was a known figure all over the country. And 
where would they sleep? There, in the room where 
the fire was dying. 

They would unroll the mats and lie with their feet 
to the hearth. For this they paid threepence, or at 
most fourpence. And they had the privilege of cook- 
ing their own food. The Risveglio supplied them 
with nothing but the fire, the roof, and the rush mat. 
And, of course, the drink. Oh, we need have no 
sympathy with the girovago and his sort. They lacked 
for nothing. They had everything they wanted: 
everything: and money in abundance. They lived for 
the aqua vitae they drank. That was all they wanted: 
their continual allowance of aqua vitae. And they got 
it. Ah, they were not cold. If the room became cold 
during the night: if they had no coverings at all: pah, 
they waited for morning, and as soon as it was light 
fhey dr^-k 3 large glass of aqua vitae. That was their 

E '?? ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

fire, their hearth and their home: drink. Aqua vitae, 
was hearth and home to them. 

I was surprised at the contempt, tolerant and yet 
profound, with which these three men in the dining- 
room spoke of the others in the stanza. How con- 
temptuous, almost bitter, the driver was against alcohol. 
It was evident he hated it. And though we all had our 
bottles of dead-cold dark wine, and though we all 
drank: still, the feeling of the three youths against 
actual intoxication was deep and hostile, with a certain 
burning moral dislike that is more northern than Italian. 
And they curled their lip with real dislike of the giro- 
vago: his forwardness, his impudent aggressiveness. 

As for the inn, yes, it was very bad. It had been 
quite good under the previous proprietors. But now 
they shrugged their shoulders. The dirty-breast and 
the shawled girl were not the owners. They were 
merely conductors of the hotel: here a sarcastic curl of 
the lip. The owner was a man in the village a young 
man. A week or two back, at Christmas time, there 
had been a roomful of men sitting drinking and roister- 
ing at this very table. When in had come the pro- 
prietor, mad-drunk, swinging a litre bottle round his 
head and yelling: "Out! Out! Out, all of you! 
Out, every one of you! I am proprietor here* And 

[ 200 ] 



TO SORGONO 

when I want to clear my house I clear my house. 
Every man obeys who doesn't obey has his brains 
knocked out with this bottle. Out, out, I say Out, 
everyone!" And the men all cleared out. "But," 
said the bus-driver, "I told him that when I had paid 
for my bed I was going to sleep in it. I was not going 
to be turned out by him or anybody. And so he came 
down." 

There was a little silence from everybody after this 
story. Evidently there was more to it, that we were 
not to be told. Especially the carabiniere was silent. 
He was a fat, not very brave fellow, though quite nice. 

Ah, but said the little dark bus-conductor, with hib 
small-featured swarthy Greek face you must not be 
angry with them. True the inn was very bad. Very 
bad but you must pity them, for they are only ig- 
norant. Poor things, they are ignoranti\ Why be 
angry? 

The other two men nodded their heads in agreement 
and repeated ignoranti. They are ignoranti. It is 
true. Why be angry? 

And here the modern Italian spirit came out: the 
endless pity for the ignorant. It is only slackness. 
The pity makes the ignorant more ignorant, and makes 
the Risveglio daily more impossible. If somebody let 

[ 201 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

a bottle buzz round the ears of the dirty-breast, and 
whipped the shawl from the head of the pert young 
madam and sent her flying down the tunnel with a flea 
in her ear, we might get some attention and they might 
find a little self-respect. But no: pity them, poor 
ignoranti, while they pull life down and devour it like 
vermin. Pity them! What they need is not pity but 
prods: they and all their myriad of likes. 

The be-shawled appeared with a dish of kid. Need- 
less to say, the ignoranti had kept all the best portions 
for themselves. What arrived was five pieces of cold 
roast, one for each of us. Mine was a sort of large 
comb of ribs with a thin web of meat : perhaps an ounce. 
That was all we got, after watching the whole process. 
There was moreover a dish of strong boiled cauliflower, 
which one ate, with the coarse bread, out of sheer hun- 
ger. After this a bilious orange. Simply one is not 
fed nowadays. In the good hotels and in the bad, one 
is given paltry portions of unnourishing food, and one 
goes unfed. 

v " 

The bus-driver, the only one with an earnest soul, 
was talking of the Sardinians. Ah, the Sardinians! 
They were hopeless. Why because they did not 
know how to strike. They, too, were ignoranti. But 

[ 202 ] 



TO SORGONO 

this form of ignorance he found more annoying. They 
simply did not know what a strike was. If you offered 
them one day ten francs a stint he was speaking now 
of the miners of the Iglesias region. No, no, no, they 
would not take it, they wanted twelve francs. Go to 
them the next day and offer them four francs for half 
a stint, and yes, yes, yes, they would take it. And 
there they were: ignorant: ignorant Sardinians. They 
absolutely did not know how to strike. He was quite 
sarcastically hot about it. The whole tone of these 
three young men was the tone of sceptical irony com- 
mon to the young people of our day the world over. 
Only they had or at least the driver had some little 
fervour for his strikes and his socialism. But it was a 
pathetic fervour: a ps-aller fervour. 

We talked about the land. The war has practically 
gutted Sardinia of her cattle: so they said. And now 
the land is being deserted, the arable land is going back 
to fallow. Why? Why, says the driver, because the 
owners of the land won't spend any capital. They 
have got the capital locked up, and the land is dead. 
They find it cheaper to let all the arable go back to fal- 
low, and raise a few head of cattle, rather than to pay 
high wages, grow corn, and get small returns. 

Yes, and also, chimes in the carabiniere, the peasants 
[ 203 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

don't want to work the land. They hate the land. 
They'll do anything to get off the land. They want 
regular wages, short hours, and devil take the rest. 
So they will go into France as navvies, by the huuc , ed. 
They flock to Rome, they besiege the Labor bureaus, 
they will do the artificial Government navvy-work at 
a miserable five francs a day a railway shunter having 
at least eighteen francs a day anything, anything 
rather than work the land. 

Yes, and what does the Government do! replies the 
bus driver. They pull the roads to pieces in order to 
find work for the unemployed, remaking them, across 
the campagna. But in Sardinia, where roads and 
bridges are absolutely wanting, will they do anything? 
No! 

There it is, however. The bus-driver, with dark 
shadows under his eyes, represents the intelligent por- 
tion of the conversation. The carabiniere is soft and 
will go any way, though always with some interest. 
The little Greek-looking conductor just does not care. 

Enters another belated traveller, and takes a seat at 
the end of the table. The be-shawled brings him soup 
and a skinny bit of kid. He eyes this last with con- 
tempt, and fetches out of his bag a large hunk of roast 

[ 204 ] 




FONNI 



Jan Juta 



TO SORGONO 

pork, and bread, and black olives, thus proceeding to 
make a proper meal. 

We being without cigarettes, the bus-driver and his 
companion press them on us: their beloved Macedonia 
cigarettes. The driver says they are squisitissimi 
most, most exquisite so exquisite that all foreigners 
want them. In truth I believe they are exported to 
Germany now. And they are quite good, when they 
really have tobacco in them. Usually they are hollow 
tubes of paper which just flare away under one's nose 
and are done. 

We decide to have a round drink: they choose the 
precious aqua vitae: the white sort I think. At last it 
arrives when the little dark-eyed one has fetched it. 
And it tastes rather like sweetened petroleum, with a 
dash of aniseed: filthy. Most Italian liquors are now 
sweet and filthy. 

At length we rise to go to bed. We shall all meet 
in the morning. And this room is dead cold, with frost 
outside. Going out, we glance into the famous stanza. 
One figure alone lies stretched on the floor in the almost 
complete darkness. A few embers still glow. The 
other men no doubt are in the bar. 

Ah, the filthy bedroom. The q-b ties up her head 
in a large, clean white kerchief, to avoid contact with 
the unsavoury pillow. It is a cold, hard, flat bed, with 

[ 205 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

two cold, hard, flat blankets. But we are very tired. 
Just as we are going to sleep, however, weird, high- 
pitched singing starts below, very uncanny with a 
refrain that is a yelp-yelp-yelp! almost like a dog 
in angry pain. Weird, almost gruesome this singing 
goes on, first one voice and then another and then a 
tangle of voices. Again we are roused by the pound- 
ing of heavy feet on the corridor outside, which is as 
hollow and resonant as a drum. And then in the in- 
fernal crew-yard outside a cock crows. Throughout 
the night yea, through all the black and frosty hours 
this demoniac bird screams its demon griefs. 

However, it is morning. I gingerly wash a bit of 
myself in the broken basin, and dry that bit on a mus- 
lin veil which masquerades upon the chair as a towel. 
The q-b contents herself with a dry wipe. And we 
go downstairs in hopes of the last-night's milk. 

There is no one to be seen. It is a cold, frost-strong, 
clear morning. There is no one in the bar. We stum- 
ble down the dark tunnel passage. The stanza is as if 
no man had ever set foot in it: very dark, the mats 
against the wall, the fire-place grey with a handful of 
long dead ash. Just like a dungeon. The dining- 
room has the same long table and eternal table-cloth 

[ 206 ] 



TO SORGONO 

and our serviettes, still wet, lying where we shovelled 
them aside. So back again to the bar. 

And this time a man is drinking aqua vitae, and the 
dirty-shirt is officiating. He has no hat on: and 
extraordinary, he has no brow at all: just flat, straight 
black hair slanting to his eyebrows, no forehead at all. 

Is there coffee? 

No, there is no coffee. 

Why? 

Because they can't get sugar. 

Ho! laughs the peasant drinking aqua vitae. You 
make coffee with sugar! 

Here, say I, they make it with nothing. Is there 
milk? 

No. 

No milk at all? 

No. 

Why not? 

Nobody brings it. 

Yes, yes there is milk if they like to get it, puts in 
the peasant. But they want you to drink aqua vitae. 

I see myself drinking ague vitae. My yesterday's 
rage towers up again suddenly, till it quite suffocates 
me. There is something in this unsavoury, black, wine- 
dabbled, thick, greasy young man that does for me. 

"Why," say I, lapsing into the Italian rhetorical man- 
[ 207 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

ner, "why do you keep an inn? Why do you write 
the word Ristorante so large, when you have nothing 
to offer people, and don't intend to have anything. 
Why do you have the impudence to take in travellers? 
What does it mean, that this is an inn? What, say, 
what does it mean? Say then what does it mean? 
What does it mean, your Ristorante Risveglio, written 
so large?" 

Getting all this out in one breath, my indignation now 
stifled me. Him of the shirt said nothing at all. The 
peasant laughed. I demanded the bill. It was 
twenty-five francs odd. I picked up every farthing of 
the change. 

"Won't you leave any tip at all?" asks the q-b. 

"Tip!" say I, speechless. 

So we march upstairs and make tea to fill the thermos 
flask. Then, with sack over my shoulder, I make my 
way out of the Risveglio. 

It is Sunday morning. The frozen village street is 
almost empty. We march down to the wider space 
where the bus stands: I hope they haven't the impu- 
dence to call it a Piazza. 

"Is this the Nuoro bus?" I ask of a bunch of urchins. 

And even they begin to jeer. But my sudden up- 
starting flare quenches them at once. One answers yes, 

[ 208 ] 



TO SORGONO 

and they edge away. I stow the sack and the kitchenino 
in the first-class part. The first-class is in front: we 
shall see better. 

There are men standing about, with their hands in 
their pockets, those who are not in costume. Some 
wear the black-and-white. All wear the stocking caps. 
And all have the wide shirt-breasts, white, their waist- 
coats being just like evening dress waistcoats. Imagine 
one of these soft white shirt fronts well slobbered, and 
you have mine host of the Risveglio. But these loung- 
ing, static, white-breasted men are snowily clean, this 
being Sunday morning. They smoke their pipes on 
the frosty air, and are none too friendly. 

The bus starts at half-past nine. The campanile is 
clanging nine. Two or three girls go down the road 
in their Sunday costume of purplish brown. We go 
up the road, into the clear, ringing frosty air, to find 
the lane. 

And again, from above, how beautiful it is in the 
sharp morning ! The whole village lies in bluish shadow, 
the hills with their thin pale oak trees are in bluish 
shadow still, only in the distance the frost-glowing sun 
makes a wonderful, jewel-like radiance on the pleasant 
hills, wild and thinly-wooded, of this interior region, 

[ 209 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

Real fresh wonder-beauty all around. And such 
humanity. 

Returning to the village we find a little shop and get 
biscuits and cigarettes. And we find our friends the 
bus-men. They are shy this morning. They are 
ready for us when we are ready. So in we get, joy- 
fully, to leave Sorgono. 

One thing I say for it, it must be an honest place. 
For people leave their sacks about without a qualm. 

Up we go, up the road. Only to stop, alas, at the 
Risveglio. The little conductor goes down the lane 
towards the station. The driver goes and has a little 
drink with a comrade. There is quite a crowd round 
the dreary entrances of the inn. And quite a little 
bunch of people to clamber up into the second class, 
behind us. 

We wait and wait. Then in climbs an old peasant, 
in full black-and-white costume, smiling in the pleased, 
naive way of the old. After him climbs a fresh-faced 
young man with a suit-case. 

"Na!" said the young man. "Now you are in the 
automobile." 

And the old man gazes round with the wondering, 
, naive smile. 



TO SORGONO 

"One is all right here, eh?" the young citizen per- 
sists, patronizing. 

But the old man is too excited to answer. He gazes 
hither and thither. Then he suddenly remembers he 
had a parcel, and looks for it in fear. The bright- 
faced young man picks it from the floor and hands it 
him. Ah, it is all right. 

I see the little conductor in his dashing, sheep-lined, 
short military overcoat striding briskly down the little 
lane with the post-bag. The driver climbs to his seat 
in front of me. He has a muffler round his neck and 
his hat pulled down to his ears. He pips at the horn, 
and our old peasant cranes forward to look how he 
does it. 

And so, with a jerk and a spurt, we start uphill. 

"Eh rwhat's that?" said the peasant, frightened. 

"We're starting," explained the bright-faced young 
man. 

"Starting! Didn't we start before?" 

The bright face laughs pleasedly. 

"No," he said. "Did you think we had been going 
ever since you got in?" 

"Yes," says the old man, simply, "since the door was 
shut." 

The young citizen looks at us for our joyful ap- 
proval. 



VI. 
TO NUORO. 

THESE automobiles in Italy are splendid. 
They take the steep, looping roads so easily, 
they seem to run so naturally. And this 
one was comfortable, too. 

The roads of Italy always impress me. They run 
undaunted over the most precipitous regions, and with 
curious ease. In England almost any such road, among 
the mountains at least, would be labelled three times 
dangerous and would be famous throughout the land 
as an impossible climb. Here it is nothing. Up and 
down they go, swinging about with complete sang- 
froid. There seems to have been no effort in their 
construction. They are so good, naturally, that one 
hardly notices what splendid gestures they represent. 
Of course, the surface is now often intolerably bad. 
And they are most of them roads which, with ten years' 
neglect, will become ruins. For they are cut through 
overhanging rock and scooped out of the sides of hills. 
But I think it is marvellous how the Italians have pene- 

[ 212 ] 



TO NUORO 

trated all their inaccessible regions, of which they have 
so many, with great high-roads: and how along these 
high-roads the omnibuses now keep up a perfect com- 
munication. The precipitous and craggily-involved 
land is threaded through and through with roads. 
There seems to be a passion for high-roads and for con- 
stant communication. In this the Italians have a real 
Roman instinct, now. For the roads are new. 

The railways too go piercing through rock for miles 
and miles, and nobody thinks anything of it. The 
coast railway of Calabria, down to Reggio, would make 
us stand on our heads if we had it in England. Here 
it is a matter of course. In the same way I always have 
a profound admiration for their driving whether of 
a great omnibus or of a motor-car. It all seems so easy, 
as if the man were part of the car. There is none 
of that beastly grinding, uneasy feeling one has in the 
north. A car behaves like a smooth, live thing, sensi- 
bly. 

All the peasants have a passion for a high-road. 
They want their land opening out, opening out. They 
seem to hate the ancient Italian remoteness. They all 
want to be able to get out at a moment's notice, to get 
away quick, quick. A village which is two miles off 
the high-road, even if it is perched like a hawk's nest 
on a peak, still chafes and chafes for the great road 

[ 213 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

to come to it, chafes and chafes for the daily motor-bus 
connection with the railway. There is no placidity, no 
rest in the heart of the land. There is a fever of 
restless irritation all the time. 

And yet the permanent way of almost every railway 
is falling into bad disrepair, the roads are shocking. 
And nothing seems to be done. Is our marvellous, 
mechanical era going to have so short a bloom? Is 
the marvellous openness, the opened-out wonder of the 
land going to collapse quite soon, and the remote places 
lapse back into inaccessibility again? Who knows! I 
rather hope so. 

The automobile took us rushing and winding up the 
hill, sometimes through cold, solid-seeming shadow, 
sometimes across a patch of sun. There was thin, 
bright ice in the ruts, and deep grey hoar-frost on the 
grass. I cannot tell how the sight of the grass and 
bushes heavy with frost, and wild in their own prim- 
itive wildness charmed me. The slopes of the steep 
wild hills came down shaggy and bushy, with a few ber- 
ries lingering, and the long grass-stalks sere with the 
frost. Again the dark valley sank below like a ravine, 
but shaggy, bosky, unbroken. It came upon me how 
I loved the sight of the blue-shadowed, tawny-tangled 
winter with its frosty standstill. The young oaks keep 

[ "4 ] 



TO NUORO 

their brown leaves. And doing so, surely they are best 
with a thin edge of rime. 

One begins to realize how old the real Italy is, how 
man-gripped, and how withered. England is far more 
wild and savage and lonely, in her country parts. Here 
since endless centuries man has tamed the impossible 
mountain side into trerraces, he has quarried the rock, 
he has fed his sheep among the thin woods, he has cut 
his boughs and burnt his charcoal, he has been half 
domesticated even among the wildest fastnesses. This 
is what is so attractive about the remote places, the 
Abruzzi, for example. Life is so primitive, so pagan, 
so strangely heathen and half-savage. And yet it is 
human life. And the wildest country is half human- 
ized, half brought under. It is all conscious. Wher- 
ever one is in Italy, either one is conscious of the pres- 
ent, or of the mediaeval influences, or of the far, mys- 
terious gods of the early Mediterranean. Wherever 
one is, the place has its conscious genus. Man has lived 
there and brought forth his consciousness there and in 
some way brought that place to consciousness, given 
it its expression, and, really, finished it. The expression 
may be Proserpine, or Pan, or even the strange 
"shrouded gods" of the Etruscans or the Sikels, none 
the less it is an expression. The land has been human- 
ised, through and through: and we in our own tissued 

[ 315 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

consciousness bear the results of this humanisation. So 
that for us to go to Italy and to penetrate into Italy is 
like a most fascinating act of self -disco very back, back 
down the old ways of time. Strange and wonderful 
chords awake in us, and vibrate again after many hun- 
dreds of years of complete forgetfulness. 

And then and then there is a final feeling of 
sterility. It is all worked out. It is all known: connu t 
connu! 

This Sunday morning, seeing the frost among the 
tangled, still savage bushes of Sardinia, my soul thrilled 
again. This was not all known. This was not all 
worked out. Life was not only a process of rediscov- 
ering backwards. It is that, also: and it is that in- 
tensely. Italy has given me back I know not what of 
myself, but a very, very great deal. She has found 
for me so much that was lost: like a restored Osiris. 
But this morning in the omnibus I realize that, apart 
from the great rediscovery backwards, which one must 
make before one can be whole at all, there is a move 
forwards. There are unknown, unworked lands where 
the salt has not lost its savour. But one must have per- 
fected oneself in the great past first. 

If one travels one eats. We immediately began to 
munch biscuits, and the old peasant in his white, baggy 

[ 216 ] 



TO NUORO 

breeches and black cuirass, his old face smiling wonder- 
ingly under his old stocking cap, although he was only 
going to Tonara, some seven or eight miles, began to 
peel himself a hard-boiled egg, which he got out of 
his parcel. With calm wastefulness he peeled away 
the biggest part of the white of the egg with the shell 
because it came away so. The citizen of Nuoro, for 
such the bright-faced young man was, said to him 
"But see how you waste it." "Ha!" said the old 
peasant, with a reckless indifferent wave of the hand. 
What did he care how much he wasted, since he was 
en voyage and riding for the first time in his life in an 
automobile. 

The citizen of Nuoro told us he had some sort of 
business in Sorgono, so he came back and forth con- 
stantly. The peasant did some work or other for him 
or brought him something down from Tonara. He 
was a pleasant, bright-eyed young man, and he made 
nothing of eight hours in a motor-bus. 

He told us there was still game among these hills: 
wild boars which were hunted in big hunts, and many 
hares. It was a curious and beautiful sight, he said, 
to see a hare at night fascinated by the flare of the 
lamps of the automobile, racing ahead with its ears back, 
always keeping in front, inside the beam, and flying 

[ 217 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

like mad, on and on ahead, till at some hill it gathered 
speed and melted into the dark. 

We descended into a deep, narrow valley to the road- 
junction and the canteen-house, then up again, up and 
up sharp to Tonara, our village we had seen in the sun 
yesterday. But we were approaching it from the back. 
As we swerved into the sunlight, the road took a long 
curve on to the open ridge between two valleys. And 
there in front we saw a glitter of scarlet and white. 
It was in slow motion. It was a far-off procession, 
scarlet figures of women, and a tall image moving 
away from us, slowly, in the Sunday morning. It was 
passing along the level sunlit ridge above a deep, hol- 
low valley. A close procession of women glittering 
in scarlet, white and black, moving slowly in the dis- 
tance beneath the grey-yellow buildings of the village 
on the crest, towards an isolated old church: and all 
along this narrow upland saddle as on a bridge of sun- 
shine itself. 

Were we not going to see any more? The bus 
turned again and rushed along the now level road and 
then veered. And there beyond, a little below, we 
saw the procession coming. The bus faded to a stand- 
still, and we climbed out. Above us, old and mel- 
lowed among the smooth rocks and the bits of flat grass 

[ 218 ] 



TO NUORO 

was the church, tanging its bell. Just in front, above, 
were old, half-broken houses of stone. The road came 
gently winding up to us, from what was evidently two 
villages ledged one above the other upon the steep 
summit of the south slope. Far below was the south 
valley, with a white puff of engine steam. 

And slowly chanting in the near distance, curving slow- 
ly up to us on the white road between the grass came 
the procession. The high morning was still. We 
stood all on this ridge above the world, with the deeps 
of silence below on the right. And in a strange, brief, 
staccato monody chanted the men, and in quick, light 
rustle of women's voices came the responses. Again 
the men's voices! The white was mostly men, not 
women. The priest in his robes, his boys near him, 
was leading the chanting. Immediately behind him 
came a small cluster of bare-headed, tall, sunburnt 
men, all in golden-velveteen corduroy, mountain- 
peasants, bowing beneath a great life-size seated image 
of Saint Anthony of Padua. After these a number of 
men in the costume, but with the white linen breeches 
hanging wide and loose almost to the ankles, instead 
of being tucked into the black gaiters. So they seemed 
very white beneath the black kilt frill. The black 
frieze body-vest was cut low, like an evening suit, and 
the stocking caps were variously perched. The men 

[ 219 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

chanted in low, hollow, melodic tones. Then came the 
rustling chime of the women. And the procession 
crept slowly, aimlessly forward in time with the 
chant. The great image rode rigid, and rather foolish. 
After the men was a little gap and then the brilliant 
wedge of the women. They were packed two by two, 
close on each other's heels, chanting inadvertently when 
their turn came, and all in brilliant, beautiful costume. 
In front were the little girl-children, two by two, im- 
mediately following the tall men in peasant black-and- 
white. Children, demure and conventional, in ver- 
milion, white and green little girl-children with long 
skirts of scarlet cloth down to their feet, green-banded 
near the bottom : with white aprons bordered with vivid 
green and mingled colour: having little scarlet, purple- 
bound, open boleros over the full white shirts: and 
black head-cloths folded across their little chins, just 
leaving the lips clear, the face framed in black. Won- 
derful little girl-children, perfect and demure in the 
stiffish, brilliant costume, with black head-dress! Stiff 
as Velasquez princesses! The bigger girls followed, 
and then the mature women, a close procession. The 
long vermilion skirts with their green bands at the bot- 
tom flashed a solid moving mass of colour, softly swing- 
ing, and the white aprons with their band of brilliant 
mingled green seemed to gleam. At the throat the 

[ 220 ] 



TO NUORO 

full-bosomed white shirts were fastened with big studs 
of gold filigree, two linked filigree globes: and the 
great white sleeves billowed from the scarlet, purplish- 
and-green-edged boleros. The faces came nearer to 
us, framed all round in the dark cloths. All the lips 
still sang responses, but all the eyes watched us. So 
the softly-swaying coloured body of the procession came 
up to us. The poppy-scarlet smooth cloth rocked in 
fusion, the bands and bars of emerald green seemed to 
burn across the red and the showy white, the dark eyes 
peered and stared at us from under the black snood, 
gazed back at us with raging curiosity, while the lips 
moved automatically in chant. The bus had run into 
the inner side of the road, and the procession had to 
press round it, towards the sky-line, the great valley 
lying below. 

The priest stared, hideous St. Anthony cockled a bit 
as he passed the butt end of the big grey automobile, 
the peasant men in gold-coloured corduroy, old, washed 
soft, were sweating under the load and still singing 
with opened lips, the loose white breeches of the men 
waggled as they walked on with their hands behind 
their backs, turning again, to look at us. The big, 
hard hands, folded behind black kilt-frill! The 
women, too, shuffled slowly past, rocking the scarlet 
and the bars of green, and all twisting as they sang, to 

[ 221 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

look at us still more. And so the procession edged past 
the bus, and was trailing upwards, curved solid against 
the sky-line towards the old church. From behind, 
the geranium scarlet was intense, one saw the careful, 
curiously cut backs of the shapen boleros, poppy-red, 
edged with mauve-purple and green, and the white of 
the shirt just showing at the waist. The full sleeves 
billowed out, the black head-cloths hung down to a 
point. The pleated skirts swing slowly, the broad 
band of green accentuating the motion. Indeed that 
is what it must be for, this thick, rich band of jewel 
green, to throw the wonderful horizontal motion back 
and forth, back and forth, of the suave vermilion, and 
give that static, Demeta splendor to a peasant motion, 
so magnificent in colour, geranium and malachite. 

All the costumes were not exactly alike. Some had 
more green, some had less. In some the sleeveless 
boleros were of a darker red, and some had poorer 
aprons, without such gorgeous bands at the bottom. 
And some were evidently old: probably thirty years 
old: still perfect and in keeping, reserved for Sunday 
and high holidays. A few were darker, ruddier than 
the true vermilion. This varying of the tone intensi- 
fied the beauty of the shuffling woman-host. 

When they had filed into the grey, forlorn little 
[ 222 ] 



TO NUORO 

church on the ridge-top just above us, the bus started 
silently to run on to the rest-point below, whilst we 
climbed back up the little rock-track to the church. 
When we came to the side-door we found the church 
quite full. Level with us as we stood in the open 
side doorway, we saw kneeling on the bare stoneflags 
the little girl-children, and behind them all the women 
clustered kneeling upon their aprons, with hands negli- 
gently folded, filling the church to the further door- 
way, where the sun shone: the bigger west-end door- 
way. In the shadow of the whitewashed, bare church 
all these kneeling women with their colour and their 
black head-cloths looked like some thick bed of flowers, 
geranium, black hooded above. They all knelt on the 
naked, solid stone of the pavement. 

There was a space in front of the geranium little 
girl-children, then the men in corduroys, gold-soft, 
with dark round heads, kneeling awkwardly in rever- 
ence j and then the queer, black cuirasses and full white 
sleeves of grey-headed peasant men, many bearded. 
Then just in front of them the priest in his white vest- 
ment, standing exposed, and just baldly beginning an 
address. At the side of the altar was seated large and 
important the modern, simpering, black-gowned An- 
thony of Padua, nursing a boy-child. He looked a 
sort of male Madonna. 

[ 223 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

"Now," the priest was saying, "blessed Saint 
Anthony shows you in what way you can be Christians. 
It is not enough that you are not Turks. Some think 
they are Christians because they are not Turks. It 
is true you are none of you Turks. But you have still 
to learn how to be good Christians. And this you 
can learn from our blessed Saint Anthony. Saint 
Anthony, etc., etc. . . ." 

The contrast between Turks and Christians is still 
forceful in the Mediterranean, where the Mohamme- 
dans have left such a mark. But how the word 
cristiani, cristiam y spoken with a peculiar priestly unc- 
tion, gets on my nerves. The voice is barren in its 
homily. And the women are all intensely watching 
the q-b and me in the doorway, their folded hands are 
very negligently held together. 

"Come away!" say I. "Come away, and let them 
listen." 

We left the church crowded with its kneeling host, 
and dropped down past the broken* houses towards the 
omnibus, which stood on a sort of level out-look place, 
a levelled terrace with a few trees, standing silent over 
the valley. It should be picketed with soldiers hav- 
ing arquebuses. And I should have welcomed a few 

[ 224 ] 



TO NUORO 

thorough-paced infidels, as a leaven to this dreary 
Christianity of ours. 

But it was a wonderful place. Usually, the life- 
level is reckoned as sea-level. But here, in the heart 
of Sardinia, the life-level is high as the golden-lit 
plateau, and the sea-level is somewhere far away, be- 
low, in the gloom, it does not signify. The life-level is 
high up, high and sun-sweetened and among rocks. 

We stood and looked below, at the puff of steam, 
far down the wooded valley where we had come yes- 
terday. There was an old, low house on this eagle- 
perching piazza. I would like to live there. The 
real village or rather two villages, like an ear-ring 
and its pendant lay still beyond, in front, ledging 
near the summit of the long, long, steep wooded slope, 
that never ended till it ran flush to the depths away 
below there in shadow. 

And yesterday, up this slope the old peasant had 
come with his two brilliant daughters and the pack- 
pony. 

And somewhere in those ledging, pearly villages in 
front must be my girovago and his "wife". I wish 
I could see their stall and drink aqua vitae with them. 

"How beautiful the procession!" says the q-b to the 
driver. 

[ 225 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

"Ah yes one of the most beautiful costumes of 
Sardinia, this of Tonara," he replied wistfully. 

The bus sets off again minus the old peasant. We 
retrace our road. A woman is leading a bay pony past 
the church, striding with long strides, so that her maroon 
skirt swings like a fan, and hauling the halter rope. 
Apparently the geranium red costume is Sunday only, 
the week-day is this maroon, or puce, or madder- 
brown. 

Quickly and easily the bus slips down the hill into 
the valley. Wild, narrow valleys, with trees, and 
brown-legged cork trees. Across the other side a black 
and white peasant is working alone on a tiny terrace 
of the hill-side, a small, solitary figure, for all the 
world like a magpie in the distance. These people like 
being alone solitary one sees a single creature so 
often isolated among the wilds. This is different from 
Sicily and Italy, where the people simply cannot be 
alone. They must be in twos and threes. 

But it is Sunday morning, and the worker is excep- 
tional. Along the road we pass various pedestrians, 
men in their black sheepskins, boys in their soldiers' 
remains. They are trudging from one village to an- 
other, across the wild valleys. And there is a sense of 
Sunday morning freedom, of roving, as in an English 

[ 226 ] 



TO NUORO 

countryside. Only the one old peasant works alone: 
and a goatherd watching his long-haired, white goats. 
Beautiful the goats are: and so swift. They fly- 
like white shadows along the road from us, then dart 
downhill. I see one standing on a bough of an oak- 
tree, right in the tree, an enormous white tree-creature 
complacently munching up aloft, then rearing on her 
hind legs, so lengthy, and putting her slim paws far 
away on an upper, forward branch. 

Whenever we come to a village we stop and get 
down, and our little conductor disappears into the post- 
office for the post-bag. This last is usually a limp 
affair, containing about three letters. The people 
crowd round and many of them in very ragged cos- 
tume. They look poor, and not attractive: perhaps a 
bit degenerate. It would seem as if the Italian instinct 
to get into rapid touch with the world were the healthy 
instinct after all. For in these isolated villages, which 
have been since time began far from any life-centre, 
there is an almost sordid look on the faces of the peo- 
ple. We must remember that the motor-bus is a great 
innovation. It has been running for five weeks only. 
I wonder for how many months it will continue. 

For I am sure it cannot pay. Our first-class tickets 
cost, I believe, about twenty-seven francs each. The 

[ 227 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

second class costs about three-quarters the first. Some 
parts of the journey we were very few passengers. 
The distance covered is so great, the population so thin, 
that even granted the passion for getting out of their 
own villages, which possesses all people now, still the 
bus cannot earn much more than an average of two hun- 
dred to three hundred francs a day. Which, with two 
men's wages, and petrol at its enormous price, and the 
cost of wear-and-tear, cannot possibly pay. 

I asked the driver. He did not tell me what his 
wages were: I did not ask him. But he said the com- 
pany paid for the keep and lodging for himself and mate 
at the stopping-places. This being Sunday, fewer peo- 
ple were travelling: a statement hard to believe. Once 
he had carried fifty people all the way from Tonara to 
Nuoro. Once! But it was in vain he protested. Ah 
well, he said, the bus carried the post, and the govern- 
ment paid a subsidy of so many thousands of lire a year: 
a goodly number. Apparently then the government 
was the loser, as usual. And there are hundreds, if 
not thousands of these omnibuses running the lonely 
districts of Italy and Sicily Sardinia had a network of 
systems. They are splendid and they are perhaps 
an absolute necessity for a nervous restless population 
which simply cannot keep still, and which finds some 

[ 228 ] 



TO NUORO 

relief in being whirled about even on the autovie, as 
the bus-system is called. 

The autovie are run by private companies, only sub- 
sidised by the government. 

On we rush, through the morning and at length 
see a large village, high on the summit beyond, stony 
on the high upland. But it has a magical look, as 
these tiny summit-cities have from the distance. They 
recall to me always my childish visions of Jerusalem, 
high against the air, and seeming to sparkle, and built 
in sharp cubes. 

It is curious what a difference there is between the 
high, fresh, proud villages and the valley villages. 
Those that crown the world have a bright, flashing air, 
as Tonara had. Those that lie down below, infolded 
in the shadow, have a gloomy, sordid feeling and a 
repellent population, like Sorgono and other places at 
which we had halted. The judgment may be all 
wrong: but this was the impression I got. 

We were now at the highest point of the journey. 
The men we saw on the road were in their sheepskins, 
and some were even walking with their faces shawl- 
muffled. Glancing back, we saw up the valley clefts 
the snow of Gennargentu once more, a white mantle on 
broad shoulders, the very core of Sardinia. The bus 

[ 229 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

slid to a standstill in a high valley, beside a stream 
where the road from Fonni joined ours. There was 
waiting a youth with a bicycle. I would like to go to 
Fonni. They say it is the highest village in Sardinia. 

In front, on the broad summit, reared the towers of 
Gavoi. This was the half-way halt, where the buses 
had their coincidenza, and where we would stay for an 
hour and eat. We wound up and up the looping road, 
and at last entered the village. Women came to the 
doors to look. They were wearing the dark madder- 
brown costume. Men were hastening, smoking their 
pipes, towards our stopping place. 

We saw the other bus a little crowd of people 
and we drew up at last. We were tired and hungry. 
We were at the door of the inn, and we entered quickly. 
And in an instant, what a difference! At the clean lit- 
tle bar, men were drinking cheerfully. A side door 
led into the common room. And how charming it was. 
In a very wide chimney, white and stone-clean, with a 
lovely shallow curve above, was burning a fire of long, 
clean-split faggots, laid horizontally on the dogs. A 
clean, clear bright fire, with odd little chairs in front, 
very low, for us to sit on. The funny, low little chairs 
seem a specialty of this region. 

The floor of this room was paved with round dark 
[ 230 ] 



TO NUORO 

pebbles, beautifully clean. On the walls hung brilliant 
copper fans, glittering against the whitewash. And 
under the long, horizontal window that looked on the 
street was a stone slab with sockets for little charcoal 
fires. The curve of the chimney arch was wide and 
shallow, the curve above the window was still wider, 
and of a similar delicate shallowness, the white roof 
rose delicately vaulted. With the glitter of copper, 
the expanse of dark, rose-coloured, pebbled floor, the 
space, the few low, clean-gleaming faggots, it was 
really beautiful. We sat and warmed ourselves, wel- 
comed by a plump hostess and a pleasant daughter, both 
in madder-brown dress and full white shirt. People 
strayed in and out, through the various doors. The 
houses are built without any plan at all, the rooms 
just happening, here or there. A bitch came from an 
inner darkness and stood looking at the fire, then 
looked up at me, smiling in her bitch-like, complacent 
fashion. 

But we were dying with hunger. What was there 
to eat? and was it nearly ready? There was 
cinghiale, the pleasant, hard-cheeked girl told us, and 
it was nearly ready. Cinghiale being wild boar, we 
sniffed the air. The girl kept tramping rather feck- 
lessly back and forth, with a plate or a serviette: and 

[ 231 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

at last it was served. We went through the dark inner 
place, which was apparently the windowless bit left 
over, inside, when the hap-hazard rooms were made 
round about, and from thence into a large, bare, darkish 
pebbled room with a white table and inverted soup- 
plates. It was deathly cold. The window looked 
north over the wintry landscape of the highlands, fields, 
stone walls, and rocks. Ah, the cold, motionless air 
of the room. 

But we were quite a party: the second bus-driver and 
his mate, a bearded traveller on the second bus, with 
his daughter, ourselves, the bright-faced citizen from 
Nuoro, and our driver. Our little dark-eyed con- 
ductor did not come. It dawned on me later he could 
not afford to pay for this meal, which was not included 
in his wage. 

The Nuoro citizen conferred with our driver who 
looked tired round the eyes and made the girl pro- 
duce a tin of sardines. These were opened at table 
with a large pocket-knife belonging to the second con- 
ductor. He was a reckless, odd, hot-foot fellow whom 
I liked very much. But I was terrified at the way he 
carved the sardine-box with his jack-knife. However, 
we could eat and drink. 

Then came the brodo, the broth, in a great bowl. 
This was boiling hot, and very, very strong. It was, 



TO NUORO 

perfectly plain, strong meat-stock, without vegetables. 
But how good and invigorating it was, and what an 
abundance! We drank it down, and ate the good, 
cold bread. 

Then came the boar itself. Alas, it was a bowl of 
hunks of dark, rather coarse boiled meat, from which 
the broth had been made. It was quite dry, without 
fat. I should have been very puzzled to know what 
meat it was, if I had not been told. Sad that the wild 
boar should have received so little culinary attention. 
However, we ate the hunks of hot, dry meat with 
bread, and were glad to get them. They were filling, 
at least. And there was a bowl of rather bitter green 
olives for a condiment. 

The Nuoro citizen now produced a huge bottle of 
wine, which he said was finissimo, and refused to let 
us go on with the dark wine on the table, of which 
every guest was served with a bottle. So we drank up, 
and were replenished with the redder, lighter, finer 
Sorgono wine. It was very good. 

The second bus-conductor also did not eat the inn 
meal. He produced a vast piece of bread, good, home- 
made bread, and at least half of a roast lamb, and a 
large paper of olives. This lamb he insisted on sending 
round the table, waving his knife and fork with dra- 
matic gestures at every guest, insisting that every 

[ 233 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

guest should take a hunk. So one by one we all helped 
ourselves to the extraordinarily good cold roast lamb, 
and to the olives. Then the bus-conductor fell to as 
well. There was a mass of meat still left to him. 

It is extraordinary how generous and, from the in- 
side, well-bred these men were. To be sure the sec- 
ond conductor waved his knife and fork and made 
bitter faces if one of us took only a little bit of the 
lamb. He wanted us to take more. But the essential 
courtesy in all of them was quite perfect, so manly and 
utterly simple. Just the same with the q-b. They 
treated her with a sensitive, manly simplicity, which 
one could not but be thankful for. They made none 
of the odious politenesses which are so detestable in 
well-brought-up people. They made no advances and 
did none of the hateful homage of the adulating male. 
They were quiet, and kind, and sensitive to the natural 
flow of life, and quite without airs. I liked them ex- 
tremely. Men who can be quietly kind and simple to 
a woman, without wanting to show off or to make an 
impression, they are men still. They were neither 
humble nor conceited. They did not show off. And 
oh God, what a blessed relief, to be with people who 
don't bother to show off. We sat at that table quietly 
and naturally as if we were by ourselves, and talked 
or listened to their talk, just as it happened. When 

[ 234 ] 



TO NUORO 

we did not want to talk, they took no notice of us. 
And that I call good manners. Middle-class, showing 
off people would have found them uncouth. I found 
them almost the only really well-bred people I have 
met. They did not show off in any way at all, not 
even a show of simplicity. They knew that in the 
beginning and in the end a man stands alone, his soul 
is alone in itself, and all attributes are nothing and 
this curious final knowledge preserved them in simplic- 
ity. 

When we had had coffee and were going out, I 
found our own conductor in a little chair by the fire. 
He was looking a bit pathetic. I had enough sense to 
give him a coffee, which brightened him. But it was 
not till afterwards, putting things together, that I 
realized he had wanted to be with us all at table, but 
that his conductor's wages probably did not allow him 
to spend the money. My bill for the dinner was about 
fifteen francs, for the two of us. 

In the bus again, we were quite crowded. A peasant 
girl in Nuoro costume sat facing me, and a dark-bearded, 
middle-aged man in a brown velveteen suit was next 
me and glowering at her. He was evidently her hus- 
band. I did not like him: one of the jealous, carping 
sort. She, in her way, was handsome: but a bit of a 

[ 235 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

devil as well, in all probability. There were two 
village women become fine, in town dress and black silk 
scarves over their heads, fancying themselves. Then 
there was a wild scuffle, and three bouncing village 
lasses were pushed in, laughing and wild with excite- 
ment. There were wild farewells, and the bus rolled 
out of Gavoi between the desolate mountain fields and 
the rocks, on a sort of table-land. We rolled on for 
a mile or so: then stopped, and the excited lasses got 
down. I gathered they had been given a little ride 
for a Sunday treat. Delighted they were. And they 
set off, with other bare-headed women in costume, 
along a bare path between flat, out-cropping rocks and 
cold fields. 

The girl facing me was a study. She was not more 
than twenty years old I should say: or was she? Did 
the delicate and fine complication of lines against her 
eyes mean thirty-five? But anyhow she was the wife 
of the velveteen man. He was thick-set and had 
white hairs in his coarse black beard, and little, irritable 
brown eyes under his irritable brows. He watched her 
all the time. Perhaps, she was after all a young, new 
girl-wife. She sat with that expressionless look of 
one who is watched and who appears not to know it. 
She had her back to the engine. 

[ 236 ] 




GAVO I 



Jan Juta 



TO NUORO 

She wore her black head-cloth from her brow and 
her hair was taken tight back from her rather hard, 
broad, well-shaped forehead. Her dark eyebrows 
were very finely drawn above her large, dark-grey, pel- 
lucid eyes, but they were drawn with a peculiar obsti- 
nate and irritating lift. Her nose was straight and 
small, her mouth well-shut. And her big, rather hos- 
tile eyes had a withheld look in them, obstinate. Yet, 
being newly wed and probably newly-awakened, her 
eyes looked sometimes at me with a provoking look, 
curious as to what I was in the husband line, challeng- 
ing rather defiantly with her new secrets, obstinate in 
opposition to the male authority, and yet intrigued by 
the very fact that one was man. The velveteen hus- 
band his velveteens too had gone soft and gold- 
faded, yet somehow they made him look ugly, com- 
mon he watched her with his irritable, yellow-brown 
eyes, and seemed to fume in his stiff beard. 

She wore the costume: the full-gathered shirt 
fastened at the throat with the two gold filigree globes, 
a little dark, braided, stiff bolero just fastened at the 
waist, leaving a pretty pattern of white breast, and a 
dark maroon skirt. As the bus rushed along she turned 
somewhat pale, with the obstinate pinched look of a 
woman who is in opposition to her man. At length 
she flung him a few words which I did not catch and 

[ 237 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

her forehead seemed to go harder, as she drooped her 
lashes occasionally over her wide, alert, obstinate, 
rather treacherous eyes. She must have been a diffi- 
cult piece of goods to deal with. And she sat with her 
knees touching mine, rocking against mine as the bus 
swayed. 

We came to a village on the road: the landscape had 
now become wider, much more open. At the inn door 
the bus stopped, and the velveteen husband and the 
girl got down. It was cold but in a minute I got 
down too. The bus conductor came to me and asked 
anxiously if the q-b were ill. The q-b said no, why? 
Because there was a signora whom the motion of the 
bus made ill. This was the girl. 

There was a crowd and a great row at this inn. In 
the second dark room, which was bare of furniture, 
a man sat in a corner playing an accordion. Men in 
the close breeches were dancing together. Then they 
fell to wrestling wildly, crashing about among the 
others, with shouts and yells. Men in the black-and- 
white, but untidy, with the wide white drawers left 
hanging out over the black gaiters, surged here and 
there. All were rowdy with drink. This again was 
rather a squalid inn but roaring with violent, crude 
male life. 

[ 238 ] 



TO NUORO 

The Nuoro citizen said that here was very good wine, 
and we must try it. I did not want it, but he insisted. 
So we drank little glasses of merely moderate red 
wine. The sky had gone all grey with the afternoon 
curd-clouds. It was very cold and raw. Wine is no 
joy, cold, dead wine, in such an atmosphere. 

The Nuoro citizen insisted on paying. He would 
let me pay, he said, when he came to England. In 
him, and in our bus men, the famous Sardinian hospi- 
tality and generosity still lingers. 

When the bus ran on again the q-b told the peasant 
girl who again had the pinched look, to change places 
with me and sit with her face to the engine. This the 
young woman did, with that rather hard assurance 
common to these women. But at the next stop she 
got down, and made the conductor come with us into 
the compartment, whilst she sat in front between the 
driver and the citizen of Nuoro. That was what she 
wanted all the time. Now she was all right. She 
had her back to the velveteen husband, she sat close 
between two strange young men, who were condoling 
with her. . And velveteens eyed her back, and his little 
eyes went littler and more pin-pointed, and his nose 
seemed to curl with irritation. 

[ 239 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

The costumes had changed again. There was again 
the scarlet, but no green. The green had given place 
to mauve and rose. The women in one cold, stony, 
rather humbled broken place were most brilliant. 
They had the geranium skirts, but their sleeveless bo- 
leros were made to curl out strangely from the waist, 
and they were edged with a puckered rose-pink, a broad 
edge, with lines of mauve and lavender. As they went 
up between the houses that were dark and grisly under 
the blank, cold sky, it is amazing how these women of 
vermilion and rose-pink seemed to melt into an almost 
impossible blare of colour. What a risky blend of 
colours! Yet how superb it could look, that danger- 
ous hard assurance of these women as they strode along 
so blaring. I would not like to tackle one of them. 

Wider and colder the landscape grew. As we topped 
a hill at the end of a village, we saw a long string of 
wagons, each with a pair of oxen, and laden with large 
sacks, curving upwards in the cold, pallid Sunday after- 
noon. Seeing us, the procession came to a standstill at 
the curve of the road, and the pale oxen, the pale low 
wagons, the pale full sacks, all in the blenched light, 
each one headed by a tall man in shirt-sleeves, trailing a 
static procession on the hill-side, seemed like a vision: 
like a Dore drawing. The bus slid past, the man 

[ 240 ] 



TO NUORO 

holding the wagon-pole, while some oxen stood like 
rock, some swayed their horns. The q-b asked the 
velveteener what they were carrying. For a long 
time he took no notice of the question. Then he vol- 
unteered, in a snappy voice, that it was the govern- 
ment grain being distributed to the communes for bread. 
On Sunday afternoon too. 

Oh this government corn! What a problem those 
sacks represent! 

The country became wider as we dropped lower. 
But it was bleak and treeless once more. Stones 
cropped up in the wide, hollow dales. Men on ponies 
passed forlorn across the distances. Men with bundles 
waited at the cross-roads to pick up the bus. We were 
drawing near to Nuoro. It was past three in the after- 
noon, cold with a blenched light. The landscape 
seemed bare and stony, wide, different from any before. 

We came to the valley where the branch-line runs to 
Nuoro. I saw little pink railway-cabins at once, lone- 
ly along the valley bed. Turning sharp to the right, 
we ran in silence over the moor-land-seeming slopes, 
and saw the town beyond, clustered beyond, a little 
below, at the end of the long declivity, with sudden 
mountains rising around it. There it lay, as if at the 
end of the world, mountains rising sombre behind, 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

So, we stop at the Dazio, the town's customs hut, and 
velveteens has to pay for some meat and cheese he is 
bringing in. After which we slip into the cold high- 
street of Nuoro. I am thinking that this is the home 
of Grazia Deledda, the novelist, and I see a barber's 
shop. De Ledda. And thank heaven we are at the 
end of the journey. It is past four o'clock. 

The bus has stopped quite close to the door of the 
inn: Star of Italy, was it? In we go at the open door. 
Nobody about, free access to anywhere and every- 
where, as usual: testifying again to Sardinian honesty. 
We peer through a doorway to the left through a 
rough little room: ah, there in a dark, biggish room 
beyond is a whitehaired old woman with a long, ivory- 
coloured face standing at a large table ironing. One 
sees only the large whiteness of the table, and the long 
pallid face and the querulous pale-blue eye of the 
tall old woman as she looks up questioning from the 
gloom of the inner place. 

"Is there a room, Signora?" 

She looks at me with a pale, cold blue eye, and 
shouts into the dark for somebody. Then she ad- 
vances into the passage and looks us up and down, the 
q-b and me. 

"Are you husband and wife?" she demands, chal- 
lenge, 

[ 242 ] 



TO NUORO 

"Yes, how shouldn't we be," say I. 

A tiny maid, of about thirteen, but sturdy and brisk- 
looking, has appeared in answer to the shout. 

"Take them to number seven," says the old dame, 
and she turns back to her gloom, and seizes the flat 
iron grimly. 

We follow up two flights of cold stone stairs, dis- 
heartening narrow staircase with a cold iron rail, and 
corridors opening off gloomily and rather disorderly. 
These houses give the effect, inside, of never having 
been properly finished, as if, long, long ago, the in- 
mates had crowded in, pig-sty fashion, without waiting 
for anything to be brought into order, and there it 
had been left, dreary and chaotic. 

Thumbelina, the little maid, threw open the door 
of number seven with eclat. And we both exclaimed: 
"How fine!" It seemed to us palatial. Two good, 
thick white beds, a table, a chest of drawers, two mats 
on the tiled floor, and gorgeous oleographs on the wall 
and two good wash-bowls side by side and all perfect- 
ly clean and nice. What were we coming to! We 
felt we ought to be impressed. 

We pulled open the latticed window doors, and 
looked down on the street: the only street. And it 
was a river of noisy life. A band was playing, rather 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

terribly, round the corner at the end, and up and down 
the street jigged endless numbers of maskers in their 
Carnival costume, with girls and young women stroll- 
ing arm-in-arm to participate. And how frisky they 
all were, how bubbly and unself -conscious! 

The maskers were nearly all women the street was 
full of women: so we thought at first. Then we saw, 
looking closer, that most of the women were young 
men, dressed up. All the maskers were young men, 
and most of these young men, of course, were mas- 
querading as women. As a rule they did not wear 
face-masks, only little dominoes of black cloth or green 
cloth or white cloth coming down to the mouth. 
Which is much better. For the old modelled half- 
masks with the lace frill, the awful proboscis sticking 
forward white and ghastly like the beaks of corpse- 
birds such as the old Venice masks these I think 
are simply horrifying. And the more modern "faces" 
are usually only repulsive. While the simple little 
pink half-masks with the end of black or green or 
white cloth, these just form a human disguise. 

It was quite a game, sorting out the real women 
from the false. Some were easy. They had stuffed 
their bosoms, and stuffed their bustles, and put on hats 
and very various robes, and they minced along with 
little jigging steps, like little dolls that dangle from 

[ 244 ] 



TO NUORO 

elastic, and they put their heads on one side and dripped 
their hands, and danced up to flurry the actual young 
ladies, and sometimes they received a good clout on 
the head, when they broke into wild and violent ges- 
tures, whereat the actual young ladies scuffled wildly. 
They were very lively and naive. But some were 
more difficult. Every conceivable sort of "woman" 
was there, broad shouldered and with rather large feet. 
The most usual was the semi-peasant, with a very full 
bosom and very full skirt and a very downright bear- 
ing. But one was a widow in weeds, drooping on the 
arm of a robust daughter. And one was an ancient 
crone in a crochet bed-cover. And one was in an old 
skirt and blouse and apron, with a broom, wildly sweep- 
ing the street from end to end. He was an animated 
rascal. He swept with very sarcastic assiduity in front 
of two town-misses in fur coats, who minced very im- 
portantly along. He swept their way very humbly, 
facing them and going backwards, sweeping and bow- 
ing, whilst they advanced with their noses in the air. 
He made his great bow, and they minced past, daugh- 
ters of dog-fish, pesce-carne, no doubt. Then he 
skipped with a bold, gambolling flurry behind them, 
and with a perfectly mad frenzy began to sweep after 
them, as if to sweep their tracks away. He swept so 
madly and so blindly with his besom that he swept on 

[ 245 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

to their heels and their ankles. They shrieked and 
glowered round, but the blind sweeper saw them not. 
He swept and swept and pricked their thin silk ankles. 
And they, scarlet with indignation and rage, gave hot 
skips like cats on hot bricks, and fled discomfited for- 
wards. He bowed once more after them, and started 
mildly and innocently to sweep the street. A pair of 
lovers of fifty years ago, she in a half crinoline and 
poke bonnet and veil, hanging on his arm came very 
coyly past, oh so simpering, and it took me a long time 
to be sure that the "girl" was a youth. An old woman 
in a long nightdress prowled up and down, holding 
out her candle and peering in the street as if for 
burglars. She would approach the real young women 
and put her candle in their faces and peer so hard, as 
if she suspected them of something. And they blushed 
and turned their faces away and protested confusedly. 
This old woman searched so fearfully in the face of 
one strapping lass in the pink and scarlet costume, who 
looked for all the world like a bunch of red and rose- 
pink geraniums, with a bit of white, a real peasant 
lass that the latter in a panic began to beat him with 
her fist, furiously, quite aroused. And he made off, 
running comically in his long white nightdress. 

There were some really beautiful dresses of rich old 
brocade, and some gleaming old shawls, a shimmer of 

[ 246 ] 



TO NUORO 

lavender and silver, or of dark, rich shot colours with 
deep borders of white silver and primrose gold, very 
lovely. I believe two of them were actual women 
but the q-b says no. There was a Victorian gown of 
thick green silk, with a creamy blotched cross-over 
shawl. About her we both were doubtful. There 
were two wistful, drooping-lily sisters, all in white, 
with big feet. And there was a very successful tall 
miss in a narrow hobble-skirt of black satin and a 
toque with ospreys. The way she minced and wagged 
her posterior and went on her toes and peered over 
her shoulder and kept her elbows in was an admirable 
caricature. Especially the curious sagging heaving 
movement of "bustle" region, a movement very char- 
acteristic of modern feminism, was hit off with a bit 
of male exaggeration which rejoiced me. At first she 
even took me in. 

We stood outside our window, and leaned on the 
little balcony rail looking down at this flow of life, 
Directly opposite was the chemist's house: facing our 
window the best bedroom of the chemist, with a huge 
white matrimonial bed and muslin curtains. In the 
balcony sat the chemist's daughters, very elegant in 
high-heeled shoes and black hair done in the fluffy 
fashion with a big sweep sideways. Oh very elegant! 

[ 247 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

They eyed us a little and we eyed them. But without 
interest. The river of life was down below. 

It was very cold and the day was declining. We 
too were cold. We decided to go into the street and 
look for the cafe. In a moment we were out of doors, 
walking as inconspicuously as possible near the wall. 
Of course there was no pavement. These maskers 
were very gentle and whimsical, no touch of brutality 
at all. Now we were level with them, how odd and 
funny they were. One youth wore a thin white blouse 
and a pair of his sister's wide, calico knickers with needle- 
work frills near the ankle, and white stockings. He 
walked artlessly, and looked almost pretty. Only the 
q-b winced with pain: not because of the knickers, but 
because of that awful length, coming well below the 
knee. Another young man was wound into a sheet, 
and heavens knows if he could ever get out of it. An- 
other was involved in a complicated entanglement of 
white crochet antimacassars, very troublesome to con- 
template. I did not like him at all, like a fish in a 
net. But he strode robustly about. 

We came to the end of the street, where there is a 
wide, desolate sort of gap. Here the little band stood 
braying away, there was a thick crowd of people, and 
on a. slanting place just above, a little circle where 

[ 248 ] 



TO NUORO 

youths and men, maskers and one or two girls were 
dancing, so crowded together and such a small ring 
that they looked like a jiggly set of upright rollers 
all turning rickettily against one another. They were 
doing a sort of intense jigging waltz. Why do they 
look so intense? Perhaps because they were so tight 
all together, like too many fish in a globe slipping 
through one another. 

There was a cafe in this sort of piazza not a 
piazza at all, a formless gap. But young men were 
drinking little drinks, and I knew it would be hope- 
less to ask for anything but cold drinks or black coffee : 
which we did not want. So we continued forwards, 
up the slope of the village street. These towns soon 
come to an end. Already we were wandering into 
the open. On a ledge above, a peasant family was 
making a huge bonfire, a tower of orange-coloured, 
rippling flame. Little, impish boys were throwing 
on more rubbish. Everybody else was in town. Why 
were these folk at the town-end making this fire alone? 

We came to the end of the houses and looked over 
the road-wall at the hollow, deep, interesting valley 
below. Away on the other side rose a blue mountain, 
a steep but stumpy cone. High land reared up, dusky 
and dark-blue, all around. Somewhere far off the sun 
was setting with a bit of crimson. It was a wild, un- 

[ 249 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

usual landscape, of unusual shape. The hills seemed 
so untouched, dark-blue, virgin-wild, the hollow cradle 
of the valley was cultivated like a tapestry away be- 
low. And there seemed so little outlying life: noth- 
ing. No castles even. In Italy and Sicily castles 
perching everywhere. In Sardinia none the remote, 
ungrappled hills rising darkly, standing outside of life. 

As we went back it was growing dark, and the little 
band was about to leave off its brass noise. But the 
crowd still surged, the maskers still jigged and frisked 
unweariedly. Oh the good old energy of the bygone 
days, before men became so self-conscious. Here it 
was still on the hop. 

We found no cafe that looked any good. Coming 
to the inn, we asked if there was a fire anywhere. 
There wasn't. We went up to our room. The 
chemist-daughters had lighted up opposite, one saw 
their bedroom as if it were one's own. In the dusk 
of the street the maskers were still jigging, all the 
youths still joyfully being women, but a little more 
roughly now. Away over the house-tops the purple- 
red of a dying sunset. And it was very cold. 

There was nothing for it but just to lie in bed. 
The q-b made a little tea on the spirit-lamp, and we 
sat in bed and sipped it. Then we covered ourselves 

[ 250 ] 



TO NUORO 

up and lay still, to get warm. Outside the noise of 
the street came unabated. It grew quite dark, the 
lights reflected into the room. There was the sound 
of an accordion across the hoarseness of the many voices 
and movements in the street: and then a solid, strong 
singing of men's voices, singing a soldier song. 

"Quando torniamo in casa nostra " 

We got up to look. Under the small electric lights 
the narrow, cobbled street was still running with a river 
of people, but fewer maskers. Two maskers beating 
loudly at a heavy closed door. They beat and beat. 
At last the door opens a crack. They rush to try to 
get in but in vain. It had shut the moment it saw 
them, they are foiled, on they go down the street. 
The town is full of men, many peasants come in from 
the outlying parts, the black and white costume now 
showing in the streets. 

We retire to bed again out of the cold. Comes a 
knock, and Thumbelina bursts in, in the darkness. 

"Siamo qua!" says the q-b. 

Thumbelina dashes at the window-doors and shuts 
them and shuts the casement. Then she dashes to 
my bedhead and turns on the light, looking down at 
me as if I were a rabbit in the grass. Then she flings 
a can of water against the wash-bowls cold water, 
icy, alas. After which, small and explosive, she ex- 

[ 251 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

plodes her way out of the room again, and leaves us 
in the glaring light, having replied that it is now a 
little after six o'clock, and dinner is half past seven. 

So we lie in bed, warm and in peace, but hungry, 
waiting for half past seven. 

When the q-b can stand it no more she flounces up, 
though the clock from the Campanile has struck seven 
only a few minutes before. Dashing downstairs to 
reconnoitre, she is back in a breath to say that people 
are eating their heads off in the long dining room. 
In the next breath we are downstairs too. 

The room was brightly lighted, and at many white 
tables sat diners, all men. It was quite city-like. 
Everyone was in convivial mood. The q-b spied men 
opposite having chicken and salad and she had hopes. 
But they were brief. When the soup came, the girl 
announced that there was only bistecca: which meant 
a bit of fried cow. So it did: a quite, quite small bit 
of fried beef, a few potatoes and a bit of cauliflower. 
Really, it was not enough for a child of twelve. But 
that was the end of it. A few mandarini tangerine 
oranges rolled on a plate for dessert. And there's 
the long and short of these infernal dinners. Was 
there any cheese? No, there was no cheese. So we 
merely masticated bread. 

[ 252 ] 



TO NUORO 

There came in three peasants in the black and white 
costume, and sat at the middle table. They kept on 
their stocking caps. And queer they looked, coming 
in with slow, deliberate tread of these elderly men, 
and sitting rather remote, with a gap of solitude 
around them. The peculiar ancient loneliness of the 
Sardinian hills clings to them, and something stiff, 
static, pre-world. 

All the men at our end of the room were citizens 
employees of some sort and they were all acquaint- 
ances. A large dog, very large indeed, with a great 
muzzle, padded slowly from table to table, and looked 
at us with big wistful topaz eyes. When the meal 
was almost over our bus-driver and conductor came 
in looking faint with hunger and cold and fatigue. 
They were quartered at this house. They had eaten 
nothing since the boar-broth at Gavoi. 

In a very short time they were through their por- 
tions: and was there nothing else? Nothing! But 
they were half starved. They ordered two eggs each, 
in padella. I ordered coffee and asked them to come 
and take it with us, and a brandy. So they came when 
their eggs were finished. 

A diversion was now created at the other side of 
the room. The red wine, which is good in Sardinia, 

[ 253 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

had been drunk freely. Directly facing us sat a rather 
stout man with pleasant blue eyes and a nicely shaped 
head: dressed like any other town man on a Sunday. 
The dog had waddled up to him and sat down statu- 
esque in front of him. And the fat man, being mellow, 
began to play with the big, gentle, brindled animal. 
He took a piece of bread and held it before the dog's 
nose and the dog tried to take it. But the man, like 
a boy now he was ripe with wine, put the mastiff back 
with a restraining finger, and told him not to snatch. 
Then he proceeded with a little conversation with the 
animal. The dog again tried to snatch, gently, and 
again the man started, saved the bread, and startled 
the dog, which backed and gave a sharp, sad yelp, as 
if to say: "Why do you tease me!" 

"Now," said the man, "you are not to snatch. Come 
here. Come here. Vieni qua!" And he held up 
the piece of bread. The animal came near. "Now," 
said the man, "I put this bread on your nose, and you 
don't move, un Ha! !" 

The dog had tried to snatch the bread, the man had 
shouted and jerked it away, the animal had recoiled 
and given another expostulating yelp. 

The game continued. All the room was watching, 
smiling. The dog did not understand at all. It came 
forward again, troubled. The man held the bread 



TO NUORO 

near its nose, and held up a warning finger. The beast 
dropped its head mournfully, cocking up its eye at the 
bread with varied feelings. 

"Now !" said the man, "not until I say three 
Uno due " the dog could bear it no longer, the 
man in jerking let go the bread and yelled at the top 
of his voice "e tre!" The dog gulped the piece of 
bread with a resigned pleasure, and the man pretended 
it had all happened properly on the word "three." 

So he started again. "Vieni qua! Vieni qua!" 
The dog, which had backed away with the bread, came 
hesitating, cringing forward, dropping its hind-quarters 
in doubt, as dogs do, advancing towards the new nugget 
of bread. The man preached it a little sermon. 

"You sit there and look at this bread. I sit here 
and look at you, and I hold this bread. And you stop 
still, and I stop still, while I count three. Now 
then uno " the dog couldn't bear these numerals, 
with their awful slowness. He snatched desperately. 
The man yelled and lost the bread, the dog, gulping, 
turned to creep away. 

Then it began again. 

"Come here! Come here! Didn't I tell thee I 
would count three? Gi&! I said I would count three 
Not one, but three. And to count three you need 
three numbers. Ha! Steady! Three numbers. 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

Uno due E TRE!" The last syllables were yelled 
so that the room rang again. The dog gave a mourn- 
ful howl of excitement, missed the bread, groped for 
it, and fled. 

The man was red with excitement, his eyes shining. 
He addressed the company at large. "I had a dog," 
he said, "ah, a dog! And I would put a piece of bread 
on his nose, and say a verse. And he looked at me 
so ! " The man put his face sideways. "And he looked 
at me so!" He gazed up under his brows. "And he 
talked to me so o: Zieu! Zieu! But he never moved. 
No, he never moved. If he sat with that bread on 
his nose for half an hour, and if tears ran down his 
face, he never moved not till I said three! Then 
ah!" The man tossed up his face, snapped the air 
with his mouth, and gulped an imaginary crust. "AH, 
that dog was trained . . ." The man of forty 
shook his head. 

"Vieni qua! Come here! Tweet! Come here!" 

He patted his fat knee, and the dog crept forward. 
The man held another piece of bread. 

"Now," he said to the dog, "listen! Listen. I am 
going to tell you something. 

II soldato va alia guerra 

No no, Not yet. When I say three! 

II soldato va alia guerra 

1 256 ] 



TO NUORO 

Mangia male, dorme in terra 
Listen. Be still. Quiet now. UNO DUE E 
TRE!" 

It came out in one simultaneous yell from the man, 
the dog in sheer bewilderment opened his jaws and 
let the bread go down his throat, and wagged his tail 
in agitated misery. 

"Ah," said the man, "you are learning. Come! 
Come here! Come! Now then! Now you know. 
So! So! Look at me so!" 

The stout, good-looking man of forty bent forward. 
His face was flushed, the veins in his neck stood out. 
He talked to the dog, and imitated the dog. And 
very well indeed he reproduced something of the big, 
gentle, wistful subservience of the animal. The dog 
was his totem the affectionate, self-mistrustful, warm- 
hearted hound. 

So he started the rigmarole again. We put it into 
English. 

"Listen now. Listen! Let me tell it you. 
So the soldier goes to the war! 

His food is rotten, he sleeps on the floor 

Now! Now! No, you are not keeping quiet. 
Now! Now! 

II soldate va alia guerra 

male, dorme in terra--*' 7 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

The verses, known to every Italian, were sung out 
in a sing-song fashion. The audience listened as one 
man or as one child the rhyme chiming in every 
heart. They waited with excitement for the One 
Two and Three! The last two words were always 
ripped out with a tearing yell. I shall never forget 
the force of those syllables E TRE! But the dog 
made a poor show He only gobbled the bread and 
was uneasy. 

This game lasted us a full hour: a full hour by the 
clock sat the whole room in intense silence, watching 
the man and the dog. 

Our friends told us the man was the bus-inspector 
their inspector. But they liked him. "Un brav' 
uomo! Un bravo uomo! Eh si!" Perhaps they 
were a little uneasy, seeing him in his cups and hearing 
him yell so nakedly: AND THREE! 

We talked rather sadly, wistfully. Young people, 
especially nice ones like the driver, are too sad and 
serious these days. The little conductor made big 
brown eyes at us, wistful too, and sad we were going. 

For in the morning they were driving back again to 
Sorgono, over the old road, and we were going on, to 
Terranova 7 the port. But we promised to come. 



TO NUORO 

in the summer, when it was warmer. Then we should 
all meet again. 

"Perhaps you will find us on the same course still. 
Who knows!" said the driver sadly. 



t 259 1 



VII. 
TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER. 

THE morning was very clear and blue. We 
were up betimes. The old dame of the inn 
very friendly this morning. We were going 
already! Oh, but we hadn't stayed long in Nuoro. 
Didn't we like it? 

Yes, we like it. We would come back in the sum- 
mer when it was warmer. 

Ah yes, she said, artists came in the summer. Yes, 
she agreed, Nuoro was a nice place simpatico, molto 
sim'patico. And really it is. And really she was an 
awfully nice, capable, human old woman: and I had 
thought her a beldame when I saw her ironing. 

She gave us good coffee and milk and bread, and 
we went out into the town. There was the real Mon- 
day morning atmosphere of an old, same-as-ever pro- 
vincial town: the vacant feeling of work resumed after 
Sunday, rather reluctantly ; nobody buying anything, 
nobody quite at grips with anything. The doors of 
the old-fashioned shops stood open: in Nuoro they 

[ 260 ] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

have hardly reached the stage of window-displays. 
One must go inside, into the dark caves, to see what 
the goods are. Near the doorways of the drapers' 
shops stood rolls of that fine scarlet cloth, for the 
women's costumes. In a large tailor's window four 
women sat sewing, tailoring, and looking out of the 
window with eyes still Sunday-emancipate and mis- 
chievous. Detached men, some in the black and white, 
stood at the street corners, as if obstinately avoiding 
the current of work. Having had a day off, the salt 
taste of liberty still lingering on their lips, they were 
not going to be dragged so easily back into harness. 
I always sympathise with these rather sulky, forlorn 
males who insist on making another day of it. It 
shows a spark of spirit, still holding out against our 
over-harnessed world. 

There is nothing to see in Nuoro: which, to tell the 
truth, is always a relief. Sights are an irritating bore. 
Thank heaven there isn't a bit of Perugino or anything 
Pisan in the place: that I know of. Happy is the 
town that has nothing to show. What a lot of stunts 
and affectations it saves! Life is then life, not museum- 
stuffing. One could saunter along the rather inert, 
narrow, Monday-morning street, and see the women 
having a bit of a gossip, and see an old crone with a 
basket of bread on her head, and see the unwilling 

[ 261 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

ones hanging back from work, and the whole current 
of industry disinclined to flow. Life is life and things 
are things. I am sick of gaping things, even Peru- 
ginos. I have had my thrills from Carpaccio and 
Botticelli. But now I've had enough. But I can al- 
ways look at an old, grey-bearded peasant in his earthy 
white drawers and his black waist-frill, wearing no 
coat or over-garment, but just crooking along beside 
his little ox-wagon. I am sick of "things," even Peru- 
gino. 

The sight of the woman with the basket of bread 
reminded us that we wanted some food. So we 
searched for bread. None, if you please. It was 
Monday morning, eaten out. There would be bread 
at the forno, the oven. Where was the oven? Up 
the road and down a passage. I thought we should 
smell it. But no. We pandered back. Our friends 
had told us to take tickets early, for perhaps the bus 
would be crowded. So we bought yesterday's pastry 
and little cakes, and slices of native sausage. And still 
no bread. I went and asked our old hostess. 

"There is no fresh bread. It hasn't come in yet," 
she said. 

"Never mind, give me stale." 

So she went and rummaged in a drawer. 
[ 262 ] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

"Oh dear. Oh dear, the women have eaten it all! 
But perhaps over there " she pointed down the 
street "they can give you some." 

They couldn't. 

I paid the bill about twenty-eight francs, I think 
and went out to look for the bus. There it was. In 
a dark little hole they gave me the long ticket-strips, 
first-class to Terranova. They cost some seventy francs 
the two. The q-b was still vainly, aimlessly looking 
along the street for bread. 

"Ready when you are," said our new driver rather 
snappily. He was a pale, cross-looking young man 
with brown eyes and fair "ginger" hair. So in we 
clambered, waved farewell to our old friends, whose 
bus was ready to roll away in the opposite direction. 
As we bumped past the "piazza" I saw Velveteens 
standing there, isolate, and still, apparently, scowling 
with unabated irritation. 

I am sure he has money: why the first class, yester- 
day, otherwise. And Pm sure she married him be- 
cause he is a townsman with property. 

Out we rolled, on our last Sardinian drive. The 
morning was of a bell-like beauty, blue and very love- 
ly. Below on the right stretched the concave valley, 
tapestried with cultivation. Up into the morning light 

3 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

rose the high, humanless hills, with wild, treeless moor- 
slopes. 

But there was no glass in the left window of the 
cou^e y and the wind came howling in, cold enough. 
I stretched myself on the front seat, the q-b screwed 
herself into a corner, and we watched the land flash 
by. How well this new man drove! the long-nosed, 
freckled one with his gloomy brown eyes. How clev- 
erly he changed gear, so that the automobile mewed 
and purred comfortably, like a live thing enjoying 
itself. And how dead he was to the rest of the world, 
wrapped in his gloom like a young bus-driving Ham- 
let. His answers to his mate were monosyllabic or 
just no answers at all. He was one of those respon- 
sible, capable, morose souls, who do their work with 
silent perfection and look as if they were driving along 
the brink of doom, say a word to them and they'll go 
over the edge. But gentle au fond, of course. Fiction 
used to be fond of them: a sort of ginger-haired, 
young, mechanic Mr. Rochester who has even lost 
the Jane illusion. 

Perhaps it was not fair to watch him so closely from 
behind. 

His mate was a bit of a bounder, with one of 
those rakish military caps whose soft tops cock side- 
ways or backwards. He was in Italian khaki, riding- 

[ 264] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

breeches and puttees. He smoked his cigarette bound- 
erishly: but at the same time, with peculiar gentleness, 
he handed one to the ginger Hamlet. Hamlet ac- 
cepted it, and his mate held him a light as the bus 
swung on. They were like man and wife. The mate 
was the alert and wide-eyed Jane Eyre whom the gin- 
ger Mr. Rochester was not going to spoil in a hurry. 

The landscape was different from yesterday's. As 
we dropped down the shallow, winding road from 
Nuoro, quite quickly the moors seemed to spread on 
either side, treeless, bushy, rocky, desert. How hot 
they must be in summer! One knows from Grazia 
Deledda's books. 

A pony with a low trap was prancing unhappily in 
the roadside. We slowed down and slid harmlessly 
past. Then again, on we whizzed down the looped 
road, which turned back on itself as sharply as a snake 
that has been wounded. Hamlet darted the bus at the 
curves j then softly padded round like an angel: then 
off again for the next parabola. 

We came out into wide, rather desolate, moorland 
valley spaces, with low rocks away to the left, and steep 
slopes, rocky-bushy, on the right. Sometimes groups 
of black-and-white men were working in the forlorn 
distances. A woman in the madder costume lecj - pan- 

[ 265 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

niered ass along the wastes. The sun shone magnifi- 
cently, already it was hotter here. The landscape had 
quite changed. These slopes looked east and south 
to the sea, they were sun-wild and sea-wild. 

The first stop was where a wild, rough lane came 
down the hill to our road. At the corner stood a 
lonely house and in the road-side the most battered, 
life-weary old carriage I have ever seen. The jaunty 
mate sorted out the post the boy with the tattered- 
battered brown carriage and brown pony signed the 
book as we all stood in the roadway. There was a lit- 
tle wait for a man who was fetching up another parcel. 
The post-bag and parcels from the tattered carriage 
were received and stowed and signed for. We walked 
up and down in the sun to get warm. The landscape 
was wild and open round about. 

Pip! goes Mr. Rochester, peremptorily, at the horn. 
Amazing how obediently we scuffle in. Away goes 
the bus, rushing towards the sea. Already one felt 
that peculiar glare in the half-way heavens, that inten- 
sification of the light in the lower sky, which is caused 
by the sea to sunward. 

Away in front three girls in brown costume are 
walking along the side of the white high-road, going 
with panniers towards a village up a slight incline. 
They hear us, turn round, and instantly go off their 

266 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

heads, exactly like chickens in the road. They fly 
towards us, crossing the road, and swifter than any rab- 
bits they scuttle, one after another, into a deep side- 
track, like a deep ditch at right angles to the road. 
There, as we roll past, they are all crouched, peering 
out at us fearfully, like creatures from their hole. 
The bus mate salutes them with a shout, and we roll 
on towards the village on the low summit. 

It is a small, stony, hen-scratched place of poor 
people. We roll on to a standstill. There is a group 
of poor people. The women wear the dark-brown 
costume, and again the bolero has changed shape. It 
is a rather fantastic low corset, curiously shapen; and 
originally, apparently, made of wonderful elaborate 
brocade. But look at it now. 

There is an altercation because a man wants to get 
into the bus with two little black pigs, each of which 
is wrapped in a little sack, with its face and ears ap- 
pearing like a flower from a wrapped bouquet. He 
is told that he must pay the fare for each pig as if it 
were a Christian. Cristo del mondo! A pig, a little 
pig, and paid for as if it were a Christian. He dangles 
the pig-bouquets, one from each hand, and the little 
pigs open their black mouths and squeal with self- 
conscious appreciation of the excitement they are caus- 

[ 267 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

ing. D'w benedetto! it is a chorus. But the bus mate 
is inexorable. Every animal, even if it were a mouse, 
must be paid for and have a ticket as if it were a Chris- 
tian. The pig-master recoils stupified with indigna- 
tion, a pig-bouquet under each arm. "How much do 
you charge for the fleas you carry?" asks a sarcastic 
youth. 

A woman sitting sewing a soldier's tunic into a little 
jacket for her urchin, and thus beating the sword into 
a ploughshare, stitches unconcernedly in the sun. 
Round-cheeked but rather slatternly damsels giggle. 
The pig-master, speechless with fury, slings the pig- 
bouquets, like two bottles one on either side the saddle 
of the ass whose halter is held by a grinning but also 
malevolent girl: malevolent against pig-prices, that is. 
The pigs, looking abroad from their new situation, 
squeal the eternal pig-protest against an insufferable 
humanity. 

"Andiamo! Andiamo!" says ginger Mr. Rochester 
in his quiet but intense voice. The bus-mate scrambles 
up and we charge once more into the strong light to 
seaward. 

In we roll, into Orosei, a dilapidated, sun-smitten, 
god-forsaken little town not far from the sea. We 
descend in piazza. There is a great, false baroque facade 
to a church, up a wavering vast mass of steps: and at the 

268 




NUORO 



Jan Juta 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

side a wonderful jumble of roundnesses with a jumble 
of round tiled roofs, peaked in the centre. It must 
have been some sort of convent. But it is eminently 
what they call a "painter's bit" that pallid, big 
baroque face, at the top of the slow incline, and the 
very curious dark building at the side of it, with its 
several dark-tiled round roofs, like pointed hats, at 
varying altitudes. The whole space has a strange 
Spanish look, neglected, arid, yet with a bigness and 
a dilapidated dignity and a stoniness which carry one 
back to the Middle Ages, when life was violent and 
Orosei was no doubt a port and a considerable place. 
Probably it had bishops. 

The sun came hot into the wide piazza ; with its 
pallid heavy facade up on the stony incline on one side, 
and arches and a dark great courtyard and outer stair- 
ways of some unknown building away on the other, 
the road entering downhill from the inland, and drop- 
ping out below to the sea-marshes, and with the im- 
pression that once some single power had had the 
place in grip, had given this centre an architectural 
unity and splendour, now lost and forgotten, Orosei 
was truly fascinating. 

But the inhabitants were churlish. We went into 
a sort of bar-place, very primitive, and asked for 
bread. 

"Bread alone?" said the churl. 

[ 269 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

"If you please." 

"There isn't any," he answered. 

"Oh where can we get some then?" 

"You can't get any." 

"Really!" 

And we couldn't. People stood about glum, not 
friendly. 

There was a second great automobile, ready to set 
off for Tortoli, far to the south, on the east coast. 
Mandas is the railway junction both for Sorgono and 
Tortoli. The two buses stood near and communed. 
We prowled about the dead, almost extinct town or 
call it village. Then Mr. Rochester began to pip his 
horn peremptorily, so we scuffled in. 

The post was stowed away. A native in black 
broad-cloth came running and sweating, carrying an 
ox-blood suit-case, and said we must wait for his 
brother-in-law, who was a dozen yards away. Ginger 
Mr. Rochester sat on his driver's throne and glared 
in the direction whence the brother-in-law must come. 
His brow knitted irritably, his long, sharp nose did not 
promise much patience. He made the horn roar like 
a sea-cow. But no brother-in-law. 

"I'm going to wait no longer," said he. 

"Oh, a minute, a minute! That won't do us any 
harm," expostulated his mate. No answer from the 

[ 270 ] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

long faced, long-nosed ginger Hamlet. He sat 
statuesque, but with black eyes looking daggers down 
the still void road. 

"Eh va bene" y he murmured through closed lips, and 
leaned forward grimly for the starting handle. 

"Patience patience patience a moment why " 
cried the mate. 

"Per 1'amor' di Dio!" cried the black broad-cloth 
man, simply sizzling and dancing in anguish on the 
road, round the suit-case, which stood in the dust. 
"Don't go! God's love, don't start. He's got to 
catch the boat. He's got to be in Rome tomorrow. 
He won't be a second. He's here, he's here, he's 
here!" 

This startled the fate-fixed, sharp-nosed driver. He 
released the handle and looked round, with dark and 
glowering eyes. No one in sight. The few glum 
natives stood round unmoved. Thunder came into 
the gloomy dark eyes of the Rochester. Absolutely 
nobody in sight. Click! went his face into a look of al- 
most seraphic peace, as he pulled off the brakes. We 
were on an incline, and insidiously, oh most subtly the 
great bus started to lean forwards and steal into 
motion. 

"Oh ma che! what a will you've got!" cried the 

[ 2 7 ! ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

mate, clambering in to the side of the now seraphic- 
looking Rochester. 

"Love of God God!" yelled the broad-cloth, see- 
ing the bus melt forwards and gather momentum. He 
put his hands up as if to arrest it, and yelled in a wild 
howl: "O Beppin'! Beppw O!" 

But in vain. Already we had left the little groups 
of onlookers behind. We were rolling downwards 
out of the piazza. Broad-cloth had seized the bag and 
was running beside us in agony. Out of the piazza 
we rolled, Rochester had not put on the engines and 
we were just simply rolling down the gentle incline 
by the will of God. Into the dark outlet-street we 
melted, towards the still invisible sea. 

Suddenly a yell "OO ahh ! ! " 

"E qua! E qua! fi qua! fi qua!" gasped 
broad-cloth four times. "He's here!" And then: 
"Beppin' she's going, she's going!" 

Beppin' appeared, a middle-aged man also in black 
broad-cloth, with a very scrubby chin and a bundle, 
running towards us on fat legs. He was perspiring, 
but his face was expressionless and innocent-looking. 
With a sardonic flicker of a grin, half of spite, half 
of relief, Rochester put on the brakes again, and we 
stopped in the street. A woman tottered up panting 
and holding her breast. Now for farewells. 

[ 272 ] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

"Andiamo!" said Rochester curtly, looking over his 
shoulder and making his fine nose curl with malice. 
And instantly he took off the brakes again. The fat 
woman shoved Beppin' in, gasping farewells, the 
brother-in-law handed in the ox-blood-red suit-case, 
tottering behind, and the bus surged savagely out of 
Orosei. 

Almost in a moment we had left the town on its 
slope, and there below us was a river winding through 
marshy flats to the sea, to where small white surf 
broke on a flat, isolated beach, a quarter of a mile 
away. The river ran rapidly between stones and then 
between belts of high sere reeds, high as a man. These 
tall reeds advanced almost into the slow, horizontal 
sea, from which stood up a white glare of light, 
massive light over the low Mediterranean. 

Quickly we came down to the river-level, and rolled 
over a bridge. Before us, between us and the sea 
rose another hill, almost like a wall with a flat top, 
running horizontal, perfectly flat, parallel with the 
sea-edge, a sort of narrow long plateau. For a mo- 
ment we were in the wide scoop of the river-bed. 
Orosei stood on the bluff behind us. 

Away to the right the flat river-marshes with the 
thick dead reeds met the flat and shining sea, river and 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

sea were one water, the waves rippled tiny and soft-foot 
into the stream. To the left there was great loveli- 
liness. The bed of the river curved upwards and in- 
land, and there was cultivation: but particularly, there 
were noble almond trees in full blossom. How beau- 
tiful they were, their pure, silvery pink gleaming so 
nobly, like a transfiguration, tall and perfect in that 
strange cradled river-bed parallel with the sea. 
Almond trees were in flower beneath grey Orosei, 
almond trees came near the road, and we could 
see the hot eyes of the individual blossoms, almond 
trees stood on the upward slope before us. And 
they had flowered in such noble beauty there, in 
that trough where the sun fell magnificent and the 
sea-glare whitened all the air as with a sort of God- 
presence, they gleamed in their incandescent sky-rosi- 
ness. One could hardly see their iron trunks, in this 
weird valley. 

But already we had crossed, and were charging up 
the great road that was cut straight, slant-wise along 
the side of the sea-hill, like a stairway outside the side 
of the house. So the bus turned southward to run 
up this stairway slant, to get to the top of the sea's 
long table-land. So, we emerged: and there was the 
Mediterranean rippling against the black rocks not 
so very far away below on our right. For, once on the 

[ 274 ] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

long table-land the road turned due north, a long 
white dead-straight road running between strips of 
moorland, wild and bushy. The sea was in the near 
distance, blue, blue, and beating with light. It seemed 
more light than watery. And on the left was the 
wide trough of the valley, where almond trees like 
clouds in a wind seemed to poise sky-rosy upon the 
pale, sun-pale land, and beyond which Orosei clustered 
its lost grey houses on the bluff. Oh wonderful 
Orosei with your almonds and your reedy river, throb- 
bing, throbbing with light and the sea's nearness, and 
all so lost, in a world long gone by, lingering as legends 
linger on. It is hard to believe that it is real. It 
seems so long since life left it and memory transfigured 
it into pure glamour, lost away like a lost pearl on the 
east Sardinian coast. Yet there it is, with a few 
grumpy inhabitants who won't even give you a crust of 
bread. And probably there is malaria almost sure. 
And it would be hell to have to live there for a month. 
Yet for a moment, that January morning, how wonder- 
ful, oh, the timeless glamour of those Middle Ages 
when men were lordly and violent and shadowed with 
death. 

"Timor mortis conturbat me." 

The road ran along by the sea, above the sea, swing- 

[ 275 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

ing gently up and down, and running on to a sea-en- 
croaching hilly promontory in the distance. There 
were no high lands. The valley was left behind, and 
moors surrounded us, wild, desolate, uninhabited and 
uninhabitable moors sweeping up gently on the left, 
and finishing where the land dropped low and clifflike 
to the sea on the right. No life was now in sight: even 
no ship upon the pale blue sea. The great globe of 
the sky was unblemished and royal in its blueness and 
its ringing cerulean light. Over the moors a great 
hawk hovered. Rocks cropped out. It was a savage, 
dark-bushed, sky-exposed land, forsaken to the sea 
and the sun. 

We were alone in the coupe. The bus-mate had 
made one or two sets at us, but he rather confused us. 
He was young about twenty-two or three. He was 
quite good-looking, with his rakish military cap and his 
well-knitted figure in military clothes. But he had 
dark eyes that seemed to ask too much, and his man- 
ner of approach was abrupt, persistent, and disconcert- 
ing. Already he had asked us where we were going, 
where we lived, whence we came, of what nationality 
we were, and was I a painter. Already he knew so 
much. Further we rather fought shy of him. We 
ate those pale Nuoro pastries they were just flaky 

[ 276 ] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

pastry, good, but with nothing inside but a breath of air. 
And we gnawed slices of very highly-flavoured Nuoro 
sausage. And we drank the tea. And we were very 
hungry, for it was past noon, and we had eaten as good 
as nothing. The sun was magnificent in heaven, we 
rushed at a great, purring speed along that moorland 
road just above the sea. 

And then the bus-mate climbed in to share the coupe 
with us. He put his dark, beseeching and yet persist- 
ent eyes on us, sat plumb in front of us, his knees 
squared, and began to shout awkward questions in a 
strong curious voice. Of course it was very difficult 
to hear, for the great rushing bus made much noise. 
We had to try to yell in our Italian and he was as 
awkward as we were. 

However, although it said "Smoking Forbidden" he 
offered us both cigarettes, and insisted we should smoke 
with him. Easiest to submit. He tried to point us 
out features in the landscape: but there were none to 
point, except that, where the hill ran to sea out of the 
moor, and formed a cape, he said there was a house 
away under the cliffs where coastguards lived. Noth- 
ing else. 

Then, however, he launched. He asked once more 
was I English and was the q-b German. We said it 
was so. And then he started the old story. Nations 

[ 277 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

popped up and down again like Punch and Judy. 
Italy 1'Italia she had no quarrel with La Germania 
never had had no no, good friends the two na- 
tions. But once the war was started, Italy had to come 
in. For why. Germany would beat France, occupy 
her lands, march down and invade Italy. Best then 
join the war whilst the enemy was only invading some- 
body else's territory. 

They are perfectly naive about it. That's what I 
like. He went on to say that he was a soldier: he had 
served eight years in the Italian cavalry. Yes, he was 
a cavalryman, and had been all through the war. But 
he had not therefore any quarrel with Germany. No 
war was war, and it was over. So let it be over. 

But France ma la Francia! Here he sat forward 
on his seat, with his face near ours, and his pleading- 
dog's eyes suddenly took a look of quite irrational blaz- 
ing rage. France! There wasn't a man in Italy who 
wasn't dying to get at the throat of France. France! 
Let there be war, and every Italian would leap to arms, 
even the old. Even the old anche i vecchi. Yes, 
there must be war with France. It was coming: it 
was bound to come. Every Italian was waiting for it. 
Waiting to fly at the French throat. For why? Why? 
He had served two years on the French front, and he 
knew why. Ah, the French! For arrogance, for 

[ 278 ] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

insolence, Dio! they were not to be borne. The 
French they thought themselves lords of the world 
signori del mondo! Lords of the world, and masters 
of the world. Yes. They thought themselves no 
less and what are they? Monkeys! Monkeys! Not 
better than monkeys. But let there be war, and Italy 
would show them. Italy would give them signori del 
mondo! Italy was pining for war all, all, pining 
for war. With no one, with no one but France. Ah, 
with no one Italy loved everybody else but France! 
France! 

We let him shout it all out, till he was at the end of 
it. The passion and energy of him was amazing. He 
was like one possessed. I could only wonder. And 
wonder again. For it is curious what fearful passions 
these pleading, wistful souls fall into when they feel 
they have been insulted. It was evident he felt he 
had been insulted, and he went just beside himself. 
But dear chap, he shouldn't speak so loudly for all 
Italy even the old. The bulk of Italian men are 
only too anxious to beat their bayonets into cigarette- 
holders, and smoke the cigarette of eternal and ever- 
lasting peace, to coincide at all with our friend. Yet 
there he was raging at me in the bus as we dashed 
along the coast. 

And then, after a space of silence, he became sad 
[ 279 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

again, wistful, and looked at us once more with those 
pleading brown eyes, beseeching, beseeching he knew 
not what: and Pm sure I didn't know. Perhaps what 
he really wants is to be back on a horse in a cavalry 
regiment: even at war. 

But no, it comes out, what he thinks he wants. 

When are we going to London? And are there 
many motor-cars in England? many, many? In 
America too? Do they want men in America? I say 
no, they have unemployment out there: they are going 
to stop immigration in April: or at least cut it down. 
Why? he asks sharply. Because they have their own 
unemployment problem. And the q-b quotes how 
many millions of Europeans want to emigrate to the 
United States. His eye becomes gloomy. Are all 
nations of Europe going to be forbidden? he asks, 
Yes and already the Italian Government will give 
no more passports for America to emigrants. No 
passports? then you can't go? You can't go, say I. 

By this time his hot-souled eagerness and his hot, 
beseeching eyes have touched the q-b. She asks him 
what he wants. And from his gloomy face it comes out 
in a rap. "Andare juori dell'Italia" To go out of 
Italy. To go out r-away to go away to go away. 
It has become a craving, a neurasthenia with them. 

Where is his home? His home is at a village a few 

1 280 ] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

miles ahead here on this coast. We are coming to 
it soon. There is his home. And a few miles inland 
from the village he also has a property: he also has 
land. But he doesn't want to work it. He doesn't 
want it. In fact he won't bother with it. He hates 
the land, he detests looking after vines. He can't 
even bring himself to try any more. 

What does he want then? 

He wants to leave Italy, to go abroad as a chauf- 
feur. Again the long beseeching look, as of a dis- 
traught, pleading animal. He would prefer to be the 
chauffeur of a gentleman. But he would drive a bus, 
he would do anything in England. 

Now he has launched it. Yes, I say, but in England 
also we have more men than jobs. Still he looks at 
me with his beseeching eyes so desperate too and so 
young and so full of energy and so longing to 
devote himself to devote himself: or else to go off 
in an unreasonable paroxysm against the French. To 
my horror I feel he is believing in my goodness of 
heart. And as for motor-cars, it is all I can do to own 
a pair of boots, so how am I to set about employing a 
chauffeur? 

We have all gone quiet again. So at last he climbs 
back and takes his seat with the driver once more. The 

[ 281 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

road is still straight, swinging on through the moor- 
land strip by the sea. And he leans to the silent, nerve- 
tense Mr. Rochester, pleading again. And at length 
Mr. Rochester edges aside, and lets him take the driv- 
ing wheel. And so now we are all in the hands of 
our friend the bus-mate. He drives not very well. 
It is evident he is learning. The bus can't quite keep 
in the grooves of this wild bare road. And he shuts 
off when we slip down a hill and there is a great 
muddle on the upslope when he tries to change gear. 
But Mr. Rochester sits squeezed and silently attentive 
in his corner. He puts out his hand and swings the 
levers. There is no fear that he will let anything go 
wrong. I would trust him to drive me down the bot- 
tomless pit and up the other side. But still the be- 
seeching mate holds the steering wheel. And on we 
rush, rather uncertainly and hesitatingly now. And 
thus we come to the bottom of a hill where the road 
gives a sudden curve. My heart rises an inch in my 
breast. I know he can't do it. And he can't, oh Lord 
but the quiet hand of the freckled Rochester takes the 
wheel, we swerve on. And the bus-mate gives up, and 
the nerve-silent driver resumes control. 

But the bus-mate now feels at home with us. He 
clambers back into the coupe, and when it is too pain- 

282 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

fully noisy to talk, he simply sits and looks at us with 
brown, pleading eyes. Miles and miles and miles goes 
this coast road, and never a village. Once or twice a 
sort of lonely watch-house and soldiers lying about by 
the road. But never a halt. Everywhere moorland 
and desert, uninhabited. 

And we are faint with fatigue and hunger and this 
relentless travelling. When, oh when shall we come 
to Siniscola, where we are due to eat our midday meal? 
Oh yes, says the mate. There is an inn at Siniscola 
where we can eat what we like. Siniscola Siniscola! 
We feel we must get down, we must eat, it is past one 
o'clock and the glaring light and the rushing loneliness 
are still about us. 

But it is behind the hill in front. We see the hill? 
Yes. Behind it is Siniscola. And down there on the 
beach are the Bagni di Siniscola, where many f orestieri, 
strangers, come in the summer. Therefore we set high 
hopes on Siniscola. From the town to the sea, two 
miles, the bathers ride on asses. Sweet place. And 
it is coming near really near. There are stone-fenced 
fields even stretches of moor fenced off. There are 
vegetables in a little field with a stone wall there is 
a strange white track through the moor to a forsaken 
sea-coast. We are near. 

[ 283 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

Over the brow of the low hill and there it is, a 
grey huddle of a village with two towers. There it 
is, we are there. Over the cobbles we bump, and pull 
up at the side of the street. This is Siniscola, and here 
we eat. 

We drop out of the weary bus. The mate asks a 
man to show us the inn the man says he won't, mut- 
tering. So a boy is deputed and he consents. This 
is the welcome. 

And I can't say much for Siniscola. It is just a nar- 
row, crude, stony place, hot in the sun, cold in the 
shade. In a minute or two we were at the inn, where 
a fat, young man was just dismounting from his brown 
pony and fastening it to a ring beside the door. 

The inn did not look promising the usual cold 
room opening gloomily on the gloomy street. The 
usual long table, with this time a foully blotched table- 
cloth. And two young peasant madams in charge, in 
the brown costume, rather sordid, and with folded 
white cloths on their heads. The younger was in at- 
tendance. She was a full-bosomed young hussy, and 
would be very queenly and cocky. She held her nose 
in the air, and seemed ready to jibe at any order. It 
takes one some time to get used to this cocky, assertive 
behaviour of the young damsels, the who'11-tread-on- 
the-tail-of-my-skirt bearing of the hussies. But it 

1 284 ] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

is partly a sort of crude def ensiveness and shyness, partly 
it is barbaric mefiance or mistrust, and partly, without 
doubt, it is a tradition with Sardinian women that they 
must hold their own and be ready to hit first. This 
young sludge-queen was all hit. She flounced her pos- 
terior round the table, planking down the lumps of 
bread on the foul cloth with an air of take-it-as-a-con- 
descension-that-I-wait-on-you, a subdued grin lurking 
somewhere on her face. It is not meant to be offensive: 
yet it is so. Truly, it is just uncouthness. But when 
one is tired and hungry . . . 

We were not the only feeders. There was the man 
off the pony, and a sort of workman or porter or dazio 
official with him and a smart young man: and later 
our Hamlet driver. Bit by bit the young damsel 
planked down bread, plates, spoons, glasses, bottles of 
black wine, whilst we sat at the dirty table in uncouth 
constraint and looked at the hideous portrait of His 
reigning Majesty of Italy. And at length came the 
inevitable soup. And with it the sucking chorus. The 
little maialino at Mandas had been a good one. But 
the smart young man in the country beat him. As 
water clutters and slavers down a choky gutter, so did 
his soup travel upwards into his mouth with one long 
sucking stream of noise, intensified as the bits of cab- 
bage, etc., found their way through the orifice. 

[ 285 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

They did all the talking the young men. They 
addressed the sludge-queen curtly and disrespectfully, 
as if to say: "What's she up to?" Her airs were finely 
thrown away. Still she showed off. What else was 
there to eat? There was the meat that had been boiled 
for the soup. We knew what that meant. I had as 
lief eat the foot of an old worsted stocking. Nothing 
else, you sludge queen? No, what do you want any- 
thing else for? Beefsteak what's the good of asking 
for beefsteak or any other steak on a Monday. Go to 
the butcher's and see for yourself. 

The Hamlet, the pony rider, and the porter had 
the faded and tired chunks of boiled meat. The smart 
young man ordered eggs in padella two eggs fried 
with a little butter. We asked for the same. The 
smart young man got his first and of course they were 
warm and liquid. So he fell upon them with a fork, 
and once he had got hold of one end of the eggs he 
just sucked them up in a prolonged and violent suck, 
like a long, thin, ropy drink being sucked upwards from 
the little pan. It was a genuine exhibition. Then he 
fell upon the bread with loud chews. 

What else was there? A miserable little common 
orange. So much for the dinner. Was there cheese? 
No. But the sludge-queen they are quite good- 
natured really held a conversation in dialect with the 

[ 286 ] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

young men, which I did not try to follow. Our pensive 
driver translated that there was cheese, but it wasn't 
good, so they wouldn't offer it us. And the pony man 
interpolated that they didn't like to offer us anything 
that was not of the best. He said it in all sincerity 
after such a meal. This roused my curiosity, so I 
asked for the cheese whether or not. And it wasn't 
so bad after all. 

This meal cost fifteen francs, for the pair of us. 

We made our way back to the bus, through the un- 
couth men who stood about. To tell the truth, 
strangers are not popular nowadays not anywhere. 
Everybody has a grudge against them at first sight. 
This grudge may or may not wear off on acquaintance. 

The afternoon had become hot hot as an English 
June. And we had various other passengers for one 
a dark-eyed, long-nosed priest who showed his teeth 
when he talked. There was not much room in the 
coupe, so the goods were stowed upon the little rack. 

With the strength of the sun, and the six or seven 
people in it, the coupe became stifling. The q-b opened 
her window. But the priest, one of the loudtalking 
sort, said that a draught was harmful, very harmful, 
so he put it up again. He was one of the gregarious 
sort, a loud talker, nervy really, very familiar with 

[ 287 1 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

all the passengers. And everything did one harm 
fa male, fa male. A draught fa male, fa molto male. 
Non e vero? this to all the men from Siniscola. And 
they all said Yes yes. 

The bus-mate clambered into the coupe, to take the 
tickets of the second-class passengers in the rotondo, 
through the little wicket. There was great squeezing 
and shouting and reckoning change. And then we 
stopped at a halt, and he dashed down with the post 
and the priest got down for a drink with the other men. 
The Hamlet driver sat stiff in his seat. He pipped 
the horn. He pipped again, with decision. Men came 
clambering in. But it looked as if the offensive priest 
would be left behind. The bus started venomously, 
the priest came running, his gown flapping, wiping his 
lips. 

He dropped into his seat with a cackling laugh, 
showing his long teeth. And he said that it was as 
well to take a drink, to fortify the stomach. To travel 
with the stomach uneasy did one harm: fa male, fa 
male non e vero? Chorus of "yes." 

The bus-mate resumed his taking the tickets through 
the little wicket, thrusting his rear amongst us. As he 
stood like this, down fell his sheepskin-lined military 
overcoat on the q-b's head. He was filled with grief. 
He folded it and placed it on the seat, as a sort of 

[ 288 ] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

cushion for her, oh so gently! And how he would love 
to devote himself to a master and mistress. 

He sat beside me, facing the q-b, and offered us an 
acid drop. We took the acid drop. He smiled with 
zealous yearning at the q-b, and resumed his conver- 
sations. Then he offered us cigarettes insisted on 
our taking cigarettes. 

The priest with the long teeth looked sideways at 
the q-b, seeing her smoking. Then he fished out a 
long cigar, bit it, and spat. He was offered a cig- 
arette. But no, cigarettes were harmful: fanno male. 
The paper was bad for the health: oh, very bad. A 
pipe or a cigar. So he lit his long cigar and spat large 
spits on the floor, continually. 

Beside me sat a big, bright-eyed, rather good-looking 
but foolish man. Hearing me speak to the q-b, he 
said in confidence to the priest: "Here are two Ger- 
mans eh? Look at them. The woman smoking. 
These are a couple of those that were interned here. 
Sardinia can do without them now." 

Germans in Italy at the outbreak of the war were 
interned in Sardinia, and as far as one hears, they were 
left very free and happy, and treated very well, the 
Sardinians having been generous as all proud people 
are. But now our bright-eyed fool made a great titter 
through the bus: quite unaware that we understood. 

1 289 ] 



SEA AND, SARDINIA 

He said nothing offensive: but that sort of tittering 
exultation of common people who think they have you 
at a disadvantage annoyed me. However, I kept still 
to hear what they would say. But it was only triviali- 
ties about the Germans having nearly all gone now, 
their being free to travel, their coming back to Sar- 
dinia because they liked it better than Germany. Oh 
yes they all wanted to come back. They all wanted 
to come back to Sardinia. Oh yes, they knew where 
they were well off. They knew their own advantage. 
Sardinia was this, that, and the other of advantageous- 
ness, and the Sardi were decent people. It is just as 
well to put in a word on one's own behalf occasionally. 
As for La Germania she was down, down: bassa. 
What did one pay for bread in Germany? Five francs 
a kilo, my boy. 

The bus stopped again, and they trooped out into the 
hot sun. The priest scuffled round the corner this time. 
Not to go round the corner was no doubt harmful. 
We waited. A frown came between the bus Hamlet's 
brows. He looked nerve-worn and tired. It was about 
three o'clock. We had to wait for a man from a vil- 
lage, with the post. And he did not appear. 

"I am going! I won't wait," said the driver. 

"Wait wait a minute," said the mate, pouring oil. 
[ 290 ] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

And he went round to look. But suddenly the bus 
started, with a vicious lurch. The mate came flying 
and hung on to the footboard. He had really almost 
been left. The driver glanced round sardonically to 
see if he were there. The bus flew on. The mate 
shook his head in deprecation. 

"He's a bit nervoso, the driver," said the q-b. "A 
bit out of temper!" 

"Ah, poor chap ! " said the good-looking young mate, 
leaning forward and making such beseeching eyes of 
hot tolerance. "One has to be sorry for him. Per- 
sons like him, they suffer so much from themselves, 
how should one be angry with them! Poverino. We 
must have sympathy." 

Never was such a language of sympathy as the 
Italian. Poverino! Povermo! They are never happy 
unless they are sympathising pityingly with somebody. 
And I rather felt that I was thrown in with the poverini 
who had to be pitied for being nervosi. Which did 
not improve my temper. 

However, the bus-mate suddenly sat on the opposite 
seat between the priest and the q-b. He turned over 
his official note book, and began to write on the back 
cover very carefully, in the flourishing Italian hand. 
Then he tore off what he had written, and with a very 
bright and zealous look he handed me the paper say- 

[ 291 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

ing: "You will find me a post in England, when you go 
in the summer? You will find me a place in London 
as a chauffeur ! " 

"If I can," said I. "But it is not easy." 

He nodded his head at me with the most complete 
bright confidence, quite sure now that he had settled 
his case perfectly. 

On the paper he had written his name and his ad- 
dress, and if anyone would like him as chauffeur they 
have only to say so. On the back of the scrap of 
paper the inevitable goodwill: Auguri infinite e buon 
Viaggio. Infinite good wishes and a good journey. 

I folded the paper and put it in my waistcoat pocket, 
feeling a trifle disconcerted by my new responsibility. 
He was such a dear fellow and such bright trustful 
eyes. 

This much achieved, there was a moment of silence. 
And the bus-mate turned to take a ticket of a fat, com- 
fortable man who had got in at the last stop. There 
was a bit of flying conversation. 

"Where are they from?" asked the good-looking 
stupid man next to me, inclining his head in our 
direction. 

"Londra" said our friend, with stern satisfaction: 
and they have said so often to one another that London 

[ 292 ] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

is the greatest city in the world, that now the very word 
Londra conveys it all. You should have seen the 
blank little-boy look come over the face of the big 
handsome fellow on hearing that we were citizens of 
the greatest city in the world. 

"And they understand Italian?" he asked, rather 
nipped. 

"Siccuro!" said our friend scornfully. "How 
shouldn't they?" 

"Ah!" My large neighbour left his mouth open 
for a few moments. And then another sort of smile 
came on to his face. He began to peep at us sideways 
from his brown eyes, brightly, and was henceforth 
itching to get into conversation with the citizens of the 
world's mistress-city. His look of semi-impudence was 
quite gone, replaced by a look of ingratiating admira- 
tion. 

Now I ask you, is this to be borne? Here I sit, and 
he talks half-impudently and patronisingly about me. 
And here I sit, and he is glegging at me as if he saw 
signs of an aureole under my grey hat. All in ten 
minutes. And just because, instead of la Germanla 
I turn out to be VInghtlterra. I might as well be a 
place on a map, or a piece of goods with a trade-mark. 
So little perception of the actual me! so much going 
by labels! I now could have kicked him harder. I 

[ 293 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

would have liked to say I was ten times German, to see 
the fool change his smirk again. 

The priest now chimed up, that he had been to 
America. He had been to America and hence he 
dreaded not the crossing from Terranuova di Sardegna 
to Civita Vecchia. For he had crossed the great 
Atlantic. 

Apparently, however, the natives had all heard this 
song of the raven before, so he spat largely on the floor. 
Whereupon the new fat neighbour asked him was it 
true that the Catholic Church was now becoming the 
one Church in the United States? And the priest said 
there was no doubt about it. 

The hot afternoon wore on. The coast was rather 
more inhabited, but we saw practically no villages. 
The view was rather desolate. From time to time 
we stopped at a sordid-looking canteen house. From 
time to time we passed natives riding on their ponies, 
and sometimes there was an equestrian exhibition as 
the rough, strong little beasts reared and travelled 
rapidly backwards, away from the horrors of our great 
automobile. But the male riders sat heavy and un- 
shakeable, with Sardinian male force. Everybody in 
the bus laughed, and we passed, looking back to see 

[ 294 ] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

the pony still corkscrewing, but in vain, in the middle 
of the lonely, grass-bordered high-road. 

The bus-mate climbed in and out, coming in to sit 
near us. He was like a dove which has at last found 
an olive bough to nest in. And we were the olive 
bough in this world of waste waters. Alas, I felt a 
broken reed. But he sat so serenely near us, now, 
like a dog that has found a master. 

The afternoon was declining, the bus pelted on at 
a great rate. Ahead we saw the big lump of the 
island of Tavolara, a magnificient mass of rock which 
fascinated me by its splendid, weighty form. It looks 
like a headland, for it apparently touches the land. 
There it rests at the sea's edge, in this lost afternoon 
world. Strange how this coast-country does not be- 
long to our present-day world. As we rushed along 
we saw steamers, two steamers, steering south, and 
one sailing ship coming from Italy. And instantly, 
the steamers seemed like our own familiar world. 
But still this coast-country was forsaken, forgotten, 
not included. It just is not included. 

How tired one gets of these long, long rides! It 
seemed we should never come up to Tavolara. But 
we did. We came right near to it, and saw the beach 

[ 295 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

with the waves rippling undisturbed, saw the narrow 
waters between the rock-lump and the beach. For 
now the road was down at sea-level. And we were 
not very far from Terranova. Yet all seemed still 
forsaken, outside of the world's life. 

The sun was going down, very red and strong, away 
inland. In the bus all were silent, subsiding into the 
pale travel-sleep. We charged along the flat road, 
down on a plain now. And dusk was gathering heav- 
ily over the land. 

We saw the high-road curve flat upon the plain. It 
was the harbour head. We saw a magic, land-locked 
harbour, with masts and dark land encircling a glow- 
ing basin. We even saw a steamer lying at the end 
of a long, thin bank of land, in the shallow, shining, 
wide harbour, as if wrecked there. And this was our 
steamer. But no, it looked in the powerful glow of 
the sunset like some lonely steamer laid up in some 
landlocked bay away at Spitzbergen, towards the North 
Pole: a solemn, mysterious, blue-landed bay, lost, lost 
to mankind. 

Our bus-mate came and told us we were to sit in 
the bus till the post-work was done, then we should 
be driven to the hotel where we could eat, and then he 
would accompany us on the town omnibus to the boat. 

[ 296 ] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

We need not be on board till eight o'clock: and now 
it was something after five. So we sat still while 
the bus rushed and the road curved and the view of 
the weird, land-locked harbour changed, though the 
bare masts of ships in a bunch still pricked the upper 
glow, and the steamer lay away out, as if wrecked on 
a sand-bank, and dark, mysterious land with bunchy 
hills circled round, dark blue and wintry in a golden 
after-light, while the great, shallow-seeming bay of 
water shone like a mirror. 

In we charged, past a railway, along the flat darken- 
ing road into a flat God-lost town of dark houses, on 
the marshy bay-head. It felt more like a settlement 
than a town. But it was Terranova-Pausanias. And 
after bumping and rattling down a sombre uncouth, 
barren-seeming street, we came up with a jerk at a 
doorway which was the post-office. Urchins, mud- 
larks, were screaming for the luggage. Everybody 
got out and set off towards the sea, the urchins carry- 
ing luggage. We sat still. 

Till I couldn't bear it. I did not want to stay in 
the automobile another moment, and I did not, I did 
not want to be accompanied by our new-found friend 
to the steamer. So I burst out, and the q-b followed. 
She too was relieved to escape the new attachment, 

[ 297 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

though she had a great tendre for him. But in the 
end one runs away from one's tendres much harder 
and more precipitately than from one's durs. 

The mudlarking urchins fell upon us. Had we 
any more luggage were we going to the steamer? I 
asked how one went to the steamer did one walk? 
I thought perhaps it would be necessary to row out. 
You go on foot, or in a carriage, or in an aeroplane, 
said an impudent brat. How far? Ten minutes. Could 
one go on board at once? Yes, certainly. 

So, in spite of the q-b's protests, I handed the sack 
to a wicked urchin, to be led. She wanted us to go 
alone but I did not know the way, and am wary of 
stumbling into entanglements in these parts. 

I told the bus-Hamlet, who was abstract with nerve 
fatigue, please to tell his comrade that I would not 
forget the commission: and I tapped my waistcoat 
pocket, where the paper lay over my heart. He 
briefly promised and we escaped. We escaped any 
further friendship. 

I bade the mud-lark lead me to the telegraph office: 
which of course was quite remote from the post-office. 
Shouldering the sack, and clamouring for the kitchen- 
ino which the q-b stuck to, he marched forward. By 
his height he was ten years old: by his face with its 

[ 298 ] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

evil mud-lark pallor and good-looks, he was forty. 
He wore a cut-down soldier's tunic which came nearly 
to his knees, was barefoot, and sprightly with that 
alert mudlarking quickness which has its advantages. 

So we went down a passage and climbed a stair and 
came to an office where one would expect to register 
births and deaths. But the urchin said it was the tele- 
graph-office. No sign of life. Peering through the 
wicket I saw a fat individual seated writing in the dis- 
tance. Feeble lights relieved the big, barren, official 
spaces I wonder the fat official wasn't afraid to be 
up here alone. 

He made no move. I banged the shutter and de- 
manded a telegraph blank. His shoulders went up 
to his ears, and he plainly intimated his intention to 
let us wait. But I said loudly to the urchin: "Is that 
the telegraph official?" and the urchin said: "Si 
signore" so the fat individual had to come. 

After which considerable delay, we set off again. 
The bus, thank heaven, had gone, the savage dark 
street was empty of friends. We turned away to the 
harbour front. It was dark now. I saw a railway 
near at hand a bunch of dark masts the steamer 
showing a few lights, far down at the tip of a long 
spit of land, remote in mid-harbour. And so off we 

[ 299 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

went, the barefoot urchin twinkling a few yards ahead, 
on the road that followed the spit of land. The spit 
was wide enough to carry this road, and a railway. 
On the right was a silent house apparently built on 
piles in the harbour. Away far down in front leaned 
our glimmering steamer, and a little train was shunt- 
ing trucks among the low sheds beside it. Night had 
fallen, and the great stars flashed. Orion was in the 
air, and his dog-star after him. We followed on down 
the dark bar between the silent, lustrous water. The 
harbour was smooth as glass, and gleaming like a mir- 
ror. Hills came round encircling it entirely dark 
land ridging up and lying away out, even to seaward. 
One was not sure which was exactly seaward. The 
dark encircling of the land seemed stealthy, the hills 
had a remoteness, guarding the waters in the silence. 
Perhaps the great mass away beyond was Tavolara 
again. It seemed like some lumpish berg guarding 
an arctic, locked-up bay where ships lay dead. 

On and on we followed the urchin, till the town was 
left behind, until it also twinkled a few meagre lights 
out of its low, confused blackness at the bay-head, 
across the waters. We had left the ship-masts and 
the settlement. The urchin padded on, only turning 
now and again and extending a thin, eager hand 
towards the kitchenino. Especially when some men 

[ 300 ] 




il 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

were advancing down the railway he wanted it: the 
q-b's carrying it was a slur on his prowess. So the 
kitchenino was relinquished, and the lark strode on 
satisfied. 

Till at last we came to the low sheds that squatted 
between the steamer and the railway-end. The lark 
led me into one, where a red-cap was writing. The 
cap let me wait some minutes before informing me 
that this was the goods office the ticket office was 
further on. The lark flew at him and said "Then 
you've changed it, have you?" And he led me on to 
another shed, which was just going to shut up. Here 
they finally had the condescension to give me two 
tickets a hundred and fifty francs the two. So we 
followed the lark who strode like Scipio Africanus up 
the gangway with the sack. 

It was quite a small ship. The steward put me in 
number one cabin the q-b in number seven. Each 
cabin had four berths. Consequently man and woman 
must separate rigorously on this ship. Here was a 
blow for the q-b, who knows what Italian female fel- 
low-passengers can be. However, there we were. All 
the cabins were down below, and all, for some myster- 
ious reason, inside no portholes outside. It was hot 

[ 301 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

and close down below already. I pitched the sack on 
my berth, and there stood the lark on the red carpet 
at the door. 

I gave him three francs. He looked at it as if it 
were my death-warrant. He peered at the paper in 
the light of the lamp. Then he extended his arm 
with a gesture of superb insolence, flinging me back 
my gold without a word. 

"How!" said I. "Three francs are quite enough." 

"Three francs two kilometers and three pieces 
of luggage! No signore. No! Five francs. Cin- 
que franchi!" And averting his pallid, old mud- 
larking face, and flinging his hand out at me, he stood 
the image of indignant repudiation. And truly, he 
was no taller than my upper waistcoat pocket. The 
brat! The brat! He was such an actor, and so im- 
pudent, that I wavered between wonder and amuse- 
ment and a great inclination to kick him up the steps. 
I decided not to waste my energy being angry. 

"What a beastly little boy! What a horrid little 
boy! What a horrid little boy! Really a little 
thief. A little swindler!" I mused aloud. 

"Swindler!" he quavered after me. And he was 
beaten. "Swindler" doubled him up: that and the 
quiet mildness of my tone of invocation. Now he 

[ 302 ] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

would have gone with his three francs. And now, 
in final contempt, I gave him the other two. 

He disappeared like a streak of lightning up the 
gangway, terrified lest the steward should come and 
catch him at his tricks. For later on I saw the steward 
send other larks flying for demanding more than one- 
fifty. The brat. 

The question was now the cabin: for the q-b simply 
refused to entertain the idea of sharing a cabin with 
three Italian women, who would all be sick simply 
for the fuss of it, though the sea was smooth as glass. 
We hunted up the steward. He said all the first-class 
cabins had four berths the second had three, but 
much smaller. How that was possible I don't know. 
However, if no one came, he would give us a cabin 
to ourselves. 

The ship was clean and civilised, though very poky. 
And there we were. 

We went on deck. Would we eat on board, asked 
another person. No, we wouldn't. We went out to 
a fourth little shed, which was a refreshment stall, and 
bought bread and sardines and chocolate and apples. 
Then we went on the upper deck to make our meal. 
In a sheltered place I lit the spirit lamp, and put on 

[ 303 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

water to boil. The water we had taken from the cabin. 
Then we sat down alone in the darkness, on a seat 
which had its back against the deck cabins, now ap- 
propriated by the staff. A thin, cold wind was travel- 
ling. We wrapped the one plaid round us both and 
snugged together, waiting for the tea to boil. I could 
just see the point of the spirit-flame licking up, from 
where we sat. 

The stars were marvellous in the soundless sky, so 
big, that one could see them hanging orb-like and 
alone in their own space, yet all the myriads. Particu- 
larly bright the evening-star. And he hung flashing 
in the lower night with a power that made me hold 
my breath. Grand and powerful he sent out his 
flashes, so sparkling that he seemed more intense than 
any sun or moon. And from the dark, uprising land 
he sent his way of light to us across the water, a mar- 
vellous star-road. So all above us the stars soared 
and pulsed, over that silent, night-dark, land-locked 
harbour. 

After a long time the water boiled, and we drank 
our hot tea and ate our sardines and bread and bits of 
remaining Nuoro sausage, sitting there alone in the 
intense starry darkness of that upper deck. I said 

[ 304 ] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

alone: but no, two ghoulish ship's cats came howling 
at us for the bits. And even when everything was 
eaten, and the sardine-tin thrown in the sea, still they 
circled and prowled and howled. 

We sat on, resting under the magnificient deep heav- 
ens, wrapped together in the old shepherd's shawl for 
which I have blessed so often a Scottish friend, half 
sheltered from the cold night wind, and recovering 
somewhat from the sixty miles bus-ride we had done 
that day. 

As yet there was nobody on the ship we were the 
very first, at least in the first class. Above, all was 
silent and deserted. Below, all was lit-up and de- 
serted. But it was a little ship, with accommodation 
for some thirty first-class and forty second-class pass- 
engers. 

In the low deck forward stood two rows of cattle 
eighteen cattle. They stood tied up side by side, and 
quite motionless, as if stupefied. Only two had lain 
down. The rest stood motionless, with tails dropped 
and heads dropped, as if drugged or gone insensible. 
These cattle on the ship fascinated the q-b. She in- 
sisted on going down to them, and examining them 
minutely. But there they were stiff almost as Noah's 
Ark cows. What she could not understand was that 
they neither cried nor struggled. Motionless terri- 

[ 305 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

bly motionless. In her idea cattle are wild and indom- 
itable creatures. She will not realise the horrid 
strength of passivity and inertia which is almost the 
preponderant force in domesticated creatures, men and 
beast alike. There are fowls too in various coops 
flappy and agitated these. 

At last, at about half past seven the train from the 
island arrived, and the people surged out in a mass. 
We stood hanging over the end of the upper deck, 
looking down. On they poured, in a thick mass, up 
the gangway, with all conceivable sorts of luggage: 
bundles, embroidered carry-alls, bags, saddle-bags 
the q-b lamenting she had not bought one a sudden 
surging mass of people and goods. There are soldiers 
too but these are lined upon the bit of a quay, to 
wait. 

Our interest is to see whether there will be any more 
first-class passengers. Coming up the wide board 
which serves as .gangway each individual hands a ticket 
to the man at the top, and is shooed away to his own 
region usually second class. There are three sorts 
of tickets green first-class, white second, and pink 
third. The second-class passengers go aft, the third 
class go forward, along the passage past our cabins, 
into the steerage. And so we watch and watch the 

[ 306 ] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

excited people come on board and divide. Nearly 
all are second-class and a great many are women. 
We have seen a few first-class men. But as yet no 
women. And every hat with ospreys gives the q-b 
a qualm. 

For a long time we are safe. The women flood to 
the second-class. One who is third, begs and beseeches 
to go with her friends in the second. I am glad to 
say without success. And then, alas, an elderly man 
with a daughter, first-class. They are very respectable 
and pleasant looking. But the q-b wails: "I'm sure 
she will be sick." 

Towards the end come three convicts, chained to- 
gether. They wear the brownish striped homespun, 
and do not look evil. They seem to be laughing to- 
gether, not at all in distress. The two young soldiers 
who guard them, and who have guns, look nervous. So 
the convicts go forward to the steerage, past our cabins. 

At last the soldiers are straightened up, and turned 
on board. There almost at once they start making 
a tent: drawing a huge tarpaulin over a cross rope in 
the mid-deck below us, between the first and second 
class regions. The great tarpaulin is pulled down well 
on either side and fastened down, and it makes a big 

[ 307 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

dark tent. The soldiers creep in and place their 
bundles. 

And now it is the soldiers who fascinate the q-b. She 
hangs over the bar above, and peers in. The soldiers 
arrange themselves in two rows. They will sleep 
with their heads on their bundles on either side of the 
tent, the two rows of feet coming together inwards. 
But first they must eat, for it is eight o'clock and more. 

Out come their suppers: a whole roast fowl, hunks 
of kid, legs of lamb, huge breads. The fowl is dis- 
membered with a jackknife in a twinkling, and shared. 
Everything among the soldiers is shared. There they 
sit in their pent-house with its open ends, crowded to- 
gether and happy, chewing with all their might and 
clapping one another on the shoulder lovingly, and 
taking swigs at the wine bottles. We envy them their 
good food. 

At last all are on board the omnibus has driven 
up from town and gone back. A last young lout dashes 
up in a carriage and scuffles aboard. The crew begins 
to run about. The quay-porters have trotted on board 
with the last bales and packages all is stowed safely. 
The steamer hoots and hoots. Two men and a girl 
kiss their friends all round and get off the ship. 
The night re-echoes the steamer's hoots. The sheds 

[ 308 ] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

have gone all dark. Far off the town twinkles very 
sparsely. All is night-deserted. And so the gang- 
way is hauled up, and the rope hawsers quickly wound 
in. We are drifting away from the quay side. The 
few watchers wave their white handkerchiefs, stand- 
ing diminutive and forlorn on the dark little quay, in 
the heart of the dark, deserted harbour. One woman 
cries and waves and weeps. A man makes exaggerated 
flag-wagging signals with his white handky, and feels 
important. We drift and the engines begin to beat. 
We are moving in the land-locked harbour. 

Everybody watches. The commander and the crew 
shout orders. And so, very slowly, and without any 
fuss at all, like a man wheeling a barrow out of a 
yard gate, we throb very slowly out of the harbour, 
past one point, then past another, away from the en- 
circling hills, away from the great lump of Tavolara 
which is to southward, away from the outreaching land 
to the north, and over the edge of the open sea. 

And now to try for a cabin to ourselves. I approach 
the steward. Yes, he says, he has it in mind. But 
there are eighty second-class passengers, in an accom- 
modation space for forty. The transit-controller is 
now considering it. Most probably he will transfer 

[ 309 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

some second-class women to the vacant first-class cabins. 
If he does not do so, then the steward will accom- 
modate us. 

I know what this means this equivocation. We 
decide not to bother any more. So we make a tour 
of the ship to look at the soldiers, who have finished 
eating, sitting yarning to one another, while some are 
already stretched out in the shadow, for sleep. Then 
to look at the cattle, which stand rooted to the deck 
which is now all messy. To look at the unhappy 
fowls in their coops. And a peep at the third-class 
rather horrifying. 

And so to bed. Already the other three berths in 
my cabin are occupied, the lights are switched off . As 
I enter I hear one young man tenderly enquiring of 
the berth below: "Dost thou feel ill?" "Er not 
much not much!" says the other faintly. 

Yet the sea is like glass, so smooth. 

I am quickly rolled in my lower berth, where I 
feel the trembling of the machine-impelled ship, and 
hear the creaking of the berth above me as its occupant 
rolls over: I listen to the sighs of the others, the wash 
of dark water. And so, uneasily, rather hot and very 
airless, uneasy with the machine-throbbing and the 
sighing of my companions, and with a cock that crows 
shrilly from one of the coops, imagining the ship's 

[ 310 ] 



TO TERRANOVA AND THE STEAMER 

lights to be dawn, the night goes by. One sleeps 
but a bad sleep. If only there were cold air, not this 
lower-berth, inside cabin airlessness. 



VIII. 
BACK. 

THE sea being steady as a level road, nobody 
succeeded in being violently sick. My young 
men rose at dawn I was not long in 
following. It was a gray morning on deck, a gray sea, 
a gray sky, and a gray, spider-cloth, unimportant 
coast of Italy not far away. The q-b joined me: and 
quite delighted with her fellow-passenger: such a nice 
girl, she said! who, when she let down her ordinary- 
looking brown hair, it reached rippling right to her 
feet! Voila! You never know your luck. 

The cock that had crowed all night crowed again, 
hoarsely, with a sore throat. The miserable cattle 
looked more wearily miserable, but still were motion- 
less, as sponges that grow at the bottom of the sea. 
The convicts were out for air: grinning. Someone told 
us they were war-deserters. Considering the light in 
which these people look on war, desertion seemed to 
me the only heroism. But the q-b, brought up in a 
military air, gazed upon them as upon men mirac- 



BACK 

ulously alive within the shadow of death. According 
to her code they had been shot when re-captured. The 
soldiers had unslung the tarpaulin, their home for the 
night had melted with the darkness, they were mere 
fragments of gray transit smoking cigarettes and staring 
overboard. 

We drew near to Civita Vecchia: the old, mediae- 
val looking port, with its castle, and a round fortress- 
barracks at the entrance. Soldiers aboard shouted and 
waved to soldiers on the ramparts. We backed in- 
significantly into the rather scrubby, insignificant har- 
bour. And in five minutes we were out, and walking 
along the wide, desolate boulevard to the station. The 
cab-men looked hard at us: but no doubt owing to the 
knapsack, took us for poor Germans. 

Coffee and milk and then, only about three-quart- 
ers of an hour late, the train from the north. It is 
the night express from Turin. There was plenty of 
room so in we got, followed by half a dozen Sardin- 
ians. We found a large, heavy Torinese in the car- 
riage, his eyes dead with fatigue. It seemed quite a 
new world on the mainland: and at once one breathed 
again the curious suspense that is in the air. Once 
more I read the Corriere della Sera from end to end. 
Once more we knew ourselves in the real active world, 

: [313] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

where the air seems like a lively wine dissolving the 
pearl of the old order. I hope, dear reader, you like 
the metaphor. Yet I cannot forbear repeating how 
strongly one is sensible of the solvent property of the 
atmosphere, suddenly arriving on the mainland again. 
And in an hour one changes one's psyche. The hu- 
man being is a most curious creature. He thinks he 
has got one soul, and he has got dozens. I felt my 
sound Sardinian soul melting off me, I felt myself 
evaporating into the real Italian uncertainty and mo- 
mentaneity. So I perused the Corriere whilst the 
metamorphosis took place. I like Italian newspapers 
because they say what they mean, and not merely what 
is most convenient to say. We call it naivete I call 
it manliness. Italian newspapers read as if they were 
written by men, and not by calculating eunuchs. 

The train ran very heavily along the Maremma. It 
began to rain. Then we stopped at a station where 
we should not stop somewhere in the Maremma 
country, the invisible sea not far off, the low country 
cultivated and yet forlorn. Oh how the Turin man 
sighed, and wearily shifted his feet as the train stood 
meaningless. There it sat in the rain. Oh express! 

At last on again, till we were winding through the 
curious long troughs of the Roman Campagna. There 

[ 3H 3 



BACK 

the shepherds minded the sheep: the slender-footed 
merino sheep. In Sardinia the merinos were very 
white and glistening, so that one thought of the Script- 
ural "white as wool." And the black sheep among 
the flock were very black. But these Campagna were 
no longer white, but dingy. And though the wildness 
of the Campagna is a real wildness still, it is a historic 
wildness, familiar in its way as a fireside is familiar. 

So we approach the hopeless sprawling of modern 
Rome over the yellow Tiber, past the famous pyra- 
mid tomb, skirting the walls of the city, till at last we 
plunge in, into the well-known station, out of all the 
chaos. 

We are late. It is a quarter to twelve. And I 
have to go out and change money, and I hope to find 
my two friends. The q-b and I dash down the plat- 
form no friends at the barrier. The station moder- 
ately empty. We bolt across to the departure plat- 
forms. The Naples train stands ready. In we pitch 
our bags, ask a naval man not to let anyone steal them, 
then I fly out into town while the q-b buys food and 
wine at the buffet. 

It no longer rains, and Rome feels as ever rather 
holiday-like and not inclined to care about anything. 
I get a hundred and three lira for each pound note: 
pocket my money at two minutes past twelve, and bolt 

[ 315 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

back, out of the Piazza delle Terme. Aha, there are 
the two missing ones, just descending vaguely from a 
carriage, the one gazing inquiringly through his mono- 
cle across the tram-lines, the other very tall and alert 
and elegant, looking as if he expected us to appear out 
of the air for his convenience. 

Which is exactly what happens. We fly into each 
other's arms. "Oh there you are! Where's the q-b? 
Why are you here? We've been to the arrival plat- 
form no sign of you. Of course I only got your wire 
half an hour ago. We flew here. Well, how nice 
to see you. Oh, let the man wait. What, going on 
at once to Naples? But must you? Oh, but how 
flighty you are! Birds of passage veramente! Then 
let us find the q-b, quick! And they won't let us on 
the platform. No, they're not issuing platform tick- 
ets today. Oh, merely the guests returning from 
that Savoy-Bavarian wedding in the north, a few royal 
Duchesses about. Oh well, we must try and wangle 
him." 

At the barrier a woman trying in vain to be let on 
to the station. But what a Roman matron can't do, an 
elegant young Englishman can. So our two heroes 
wangle their way in, and fall into the arms of the q-b 
by the Naples train. Well, now, tell us all about it! 
So we rush into a four-branched candlestick of con- 

[ 316 ] 



BACK 

versation. In my ear murmurs he of the monocle 
about the Sahara he is back from the Sahara a week 
ago: the winter sun in the Sahara! He with the 
smears of paint on his elegant trousers is giving the 
q-b a sketchy outline of his now grande passion. Click 
goes the exchange, and him of the monocle is detailing 
to the q-b his trip to Japan, on which he will start in 
six weeks' time, while him of the paint-smears is ex- 
patiating on the thrills of the etching needle, and con- 
cocting a plan for a month in Sardinia in May, with 
me doing the scribbles and he the pictures. What sort 
of pictures? Out flies the name of Goya. And well 
now, a general rush into oneness, and won't they come 
down to Sicily to us for the almond blossom: in about 
ten days' time. Yes they will wire when the almond 
blossom is just stepping on the stage and making its 
grand bow, and they will come next day. Somebody 
has smitten the wheel of a coach two ringing smacks 
with a hammer. This is a sign to get in. The q-b is 
terrified the train will slip through her fingers. "I'm 
frightened, I must get in." "Very well then! 
You're sure you have everything you want? Every- 
thing? A fiasco of vino? Oh two! All the better! 
Well then ten days' time. All right quite sure 
how nice to have seen you, if only a glimpse. Yes, 

[ 317 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

yes, poor q-b! Yes, you're quite safe. Good-bye! 
Good-bye!" 

The door is shut we are seated the train moves 
out of the station. And quickly on this route Rome 
disappears. We are out on the wintry Campagna, 
where crops are going. Away on the left we see the 
Tivoli hills, and think of the summer that is gone, the 
heat, the fountains of the Villa D'Este. The train 
rolls heavily over the Campagna, towards the Alban 
Mounts, homewards. 

So we fall on our food, and devour the excellent 
little beef-steaks and rolls and boiled eggs, apples and 
oranges and dates, and drink the good red wine, and 
wildly discuss plans and the latest news, and are alto- 
gether thrilled about things. So thrilled that we are 
well away among the romantic mountains of the south- 
centre before we realise that there are other passengers 
besides ourselves in the carriage. Half the journey is 
over. Why, there is the monastery on its high hill! 
In a wild moment I suggest we shall get down and 
spend a night up there at Montecassino, and see the 
other friend, the monk who knows so much about the 
world, being out of it. But the q-b shudders, think- 
ing of the awful winter coldness of that massive stone 
monastery, which has no spark of heating apparatus. 

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BACK 

And therefore the plan subsides, and at Cassino station 
I only get down to procure coffee and sweet cakes. 
They always have good things to eat at Cassino sta- 
tion: in summer, big fresh ices and fruits and iced 
water, in winter toothsome sweet cakes which make an 
awfully good finish to a meal. 

I count Cassino half way to Naples. After Cassino 
the excitement of being in the north begins quite to 
evaporate. The southern heaviness descends upon us. 
Also the sky begins to darken: and the rain falls. I 
think of the night before us, on the sea again. And 
I am vaguely troubled lest we may not get a berth. 
However, we may spend the night in Naples: or even 
sit on in this train, which goes forward, all through the 
long long night, to the Straits of Messina. We must 
decide as we near Naples. 

Half dozing, one becomes aware of the people about 
one. We are travelling second class. Opposite is a 
little, hold-your-own school-mistressy young person 
in pince-nez. Next her a hollow-cheeked white sol- 
dier with ribbons on his breast. Then a fat man in 
a corner. Then a naval officer of low rank. The 
naval officer is coming from Fiume, and is dead with 
sleep and perhaps mortification. D'Annunzio has 
just given up. Two compartments away we hear sol- 

[ 319 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

diers singing, martial still though bruised with fatigue, 
the D'Annunzio-bragging songs of Fiume. They are 
soldiers of the D'Annunzio legion. And one of them, 
I hear the sick soldier saying, is very hot and republican 
still. Private soldiers are not allowed, with their re- 
duced tickets, to travel on the express trains. But these 
legionaries are not penniless: they have paid the excess 
and come along. For the moment they are sent to 
their homes. And with heads dropping with fatigue, 
we hear them still definantly singing down the carriage 
for D'Annunzio. 

A regular officer went along a captain of the Ital- 
ian, not the Fiume army. He heard the chants and 
entered the carriage. The legionaries were quiet, but 
they lounged and ignored the entry of the officer. "On 
your feet!" he yelled, Italian fashion. The vehe- 
mence did it. Reluctantly as may be, they stood up 
in the compartment. "Salute!" And though it was 
bitter, up went their hands in the salute, whilst he 
stood and watched them. And then, very superb, he 
sauntered away again. They sat down glowering. 
Of course they were beaten. Didn't they know it. 
The men in our carriage smiled curiously: in slow and 
futile mockery of both parties. 

The rain was falling outside, the windows were 
steamed quite dense, so that we were shut in from the 

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world. Throughout the length of the train, which was 
not very full, could be felt the exhausted weariness 
and the dispirited dejection of the poor D'Annunzio 
legionaries. In the afternoon silence of the mist- 
enclosed, half-empty train the snatches of song broke 
out again, and faded in sheer dispirited fatigue. We 
ran on blindly and heavily. But one young fellow 
was not to be abashed. He was well-built, and his 
thick black hair was brushed up, like a great fluffy 
crest upon his head. He came slowly and unabated 
down the corridor, and on every big, mist-opaque pane 
he scrawled with his finger W D'ANNUNZIO 
GABRIELE W D'ANNUNZIO GABRIELE. 

The sick soldier laughed thinly, saying to the school- 
mistress: "Oh yes, they are fine chaps. But it was 
folly. D'Annunzio is a world poet a world wonder 
but Fiume was a mistake you know. And these 
chaps have got to learn a lesson. They got beyond 
themselves. Oh, they aren't short of money. D'An- 
nunzio had wagon-loads of money there in Fiume, and 
he wasn't altogether mean with it." The schoolmis- 
tress, who was one of the sharp ones, gave a little 
disquisition to show why it was a mistake, and wherein 
she knew better than the world's poet and wonder. 

It always makes me sick to hear people chewing over 
newspaper pulp, 

J 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

The sick soldier was not a legionary. He had been 
wounded through the lung. But it was healed, he 
said. He lifted the flap of his breast pocket, and there 
hung a little silver medal. It was his wound-medal. 
He wore it concealed: and over the place of the wound. 
He and the schoolmistress looked at one another 
significantly. 

Then they talked pensions: and soon were on the 
old topic. The schoolmistress had her figures pat, as a 
schoolmistress should. Why, the ticket-collector, the 
man who punches one's tickets on the train, now had 
twelve thousand Lira a year: twelve thousand Lira. 
Monstrous! Whilst a fully-qualified professore, a 
schoolmaster who had been through all his training 
and had all his degrees, was given five thousand. Five 
thousand for a fully qualified professore, and twelve 
thousand for a ticket puncher. The soldier agreed, 
and quoted other figures. But the railway was the 
outstanding grievance. Every boy who left school 
now, said the school-mistress, wanted to go on the rail- 
way. Oh but said the soldier the train-men ! 

The naval officer, who collapsed into the most un- 
canny positions, blind with sleep, got down at Capua 
to get into a little train that would carry him back to 
his own station, where our train had not stopped. At 

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Caserta the sick soldier got out. Down the great 
avenue of trees the rain was falling. A young man 
entered. Remained also the schoolmistress and the 
stout man. Knowing we had been listening, the 
schoolmistress spoke to us about the soldier. Then 
she had said she was catching the night boat for 
Palermo I asked her if she thought the ship would 
be very full. Oh yes, very full, she said. Why, 
hers was one of the last cabin numbers, and she had 
got her ticket early that morning. The fat man now 
joined in. He too was crossing to Palermo. The 
ship was sure to be quite full by now. Were we de- 
pending on booking berths at the port of Naples? We 
were. Whereupon he and the schoolmistress shook 
their heads and said it was more than doubtful nay, 
it was as good as impossible. For the boat was the 
renowned Citta di Trieste, that floating palace, and 
such was the fame of her gorgeousness that everybody 
wanted to travel by her. 

"First and second class alike?" I asked. 

"Oh yes, also first class," replied the school-marm 
rather spitefully. So I knew she had a white ticket 
second. 

I cursed the Citta di Trieste and her gorgeousness, 
and looked down my nose. We had now two alter- 
natives: to spend the night in Naples, or to sit on all 

[ 323 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

through the night and next morning, and arrive home, 
with heaven's aid, in the early afternoon. Though 
these long-distance trains think nothing of six hours 
late. But we were tired already. What we should 
be like after another twenty-four hours' sitting, heaven 
knows. And yet to struggle for a bed in a Naples 
hotel this night, in the rain, all the hotels being at 
present crammed with foreigners, that was no rosy 
prospect. Oh dear! 

However, I was not going to take their discourage- 
ment so easily. One has been had that way before. 
They love to make the case look desperate. 

Were we English? asked the schoolmistress. We 
were. Ah, a fine thing to be English in Italy now. 
Why? rather tart from me. Because of the cambio, 
the exchange. You English, with your money ex- 
change, you come here and buy everything for nothing, 
you take the best of everything, and with your money 
you pay nothing for it. Whereas we poor Italians we 
pay heavily for everything at an exaggerated price, and 
we can have nothing. Ah, it is all very nice to be 
English in Italy now. You can travel, you go to the 
hotels, you can see everything and buy everything, and 
it costs you nothing. What is the exchange today? 
She whipped it out. A hundred and four, twenty. 

This she told me to my nose. And the fat man 

[ 324 ] 



BACK 

murmured bitterly gid! gid! ay! ay! Her imperti- 
nence and the fat man's quiet bitterness stirred my bile. 
Has not this song been sung at me once too often, by 
these people? 

You are mistaken, said I to the schoolmistress. We 
don't by any means live in Italy for nothing. Even 
with the exchange at a hundred and three, we don't live 
for nothing. We pay, and pay through the nose, for 
whatever we have in Italy: and you Italians see that 
we pay. What! You put all the tariff you do on 
foreigners, and then say we live here for nothing. I 
tell you I could live in England just as well, on the 
same money perhaps better. Compare the cost of 
things in England with the cost here in Italy, and even 
considering the exchange, Italy costs nearly as much 
as England. Some things are cheaper here the rail- 
way comes a little cheaper, and is infinitely more mis- 
erable. Travelling is usually a misery. But other 
things, clothes of all sorts, and a good deal of food is 
even more expensive here than in England, exchange 
considered. 

Oh yes, she said, England had had to bring her prices 
down this last fortnight. In her own interests indeed. 

"This last fortnight! This last six months," said 
I. "Whereas prices rise every single day here." 

[ 325 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

Here a word from the quiet young man who had 
got in at Caserta. 

"Yes," he said, "yes. I say, every nation pays in 
its own money, no matter what the exchange. And it 
works out about equal." 

But I felt angry. Am I always to have the exchange 
flung in my teeth, as if I were a personal thief? But 
the woman persisted. 

"Ah," she said, "we Italians, we are so nice, we are 
so good. Noi, siamo cosi buoni. We are so good- 
natured. But others, they are not buoni, they are 
not good-natured to us." And she nodded her head. 
And truly, I did not feel at all good-natured towards 
her: which she knew. And as for the Italian good- 
nature, it forms a sound and unshakeable basis nowa- 
days for their extortion and self -justification and spite. 

Darkness was falling over the rich flat plains that 
lie around Naples, over the tall uncanny vines with 
their brown thongs in the intensely cultivated black 
earth. It was night by the time we were in that vast 
and thievish station. About half -past five. We were 
not very late. Should we sit on in our present carriage, 
and go down in it to the port, along with the school- 
mistress, and risk it? But first look at the coach which 
was going on to Sicily. So we got down and ran along 

[ 326 ] 



BACK 

the train to the Syracuse coach. Hubbub, confusion, 
a wedge in the corridor, and for sure no room. Cer- 
tainly no room to lie down a bit. We could not sit 
tight for twenty-four hours more. 

So we decided to go to the port and to walk. 
Heaven knows when the railway carriage would be 
shunted down. Back we went therefore for the sack, 
told the schoolmistress our intention. 

"You can but try," she said frostily. 

So there we are, with the sack over my shoulder and 
the kitchenino in the q-b's hand, bursting out of that 
thrice-damned and annoying station, and running 
through the black wet gulf of a Naples night, in a slow 
rain. Cabmen look at us. But my sack saved me. I 
am weary of that boa-constrictor, a Naples cabman after 
dark. By day there is more-or-less a tariff. 

It is about a mile from the station to the quay where 
the ship lies. We make our way through the deep, 
gulf -like streets, over the slippery black cobbles. The 
black houses rise massive to a great height on either 
side, but the streets are not in this part very narrow. 
We plunge forwards in the unearthly half-darkness of 
this great uncontrolled city. There are no lights at 
all from the buildings only the small electric lamps 
of the streets. 

[ 327 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

So we emerge on the harbour front, and hurry past 
the great storehouses in the rainy night, to where the 
actual entrances begin. The tram bangs past us. We 
scuffle along that pavement-ridge which lies like an 
isthmus down the vast black quicksands of that harbour 
road. One feels peril all round. But at length we 
come to a gate by the harbour railway. No, not that, 
On to the next iron gate of the railway crossing. And so 
we run out past the great sheds and the buildings of the 
port station, till we see a ship rearing in front, and the 
sea all black. But now where is that little hole where 
one gets the tickets? We are at the back of everywhere 
in this desert jungle of the harbour darkness. 

A man directs us round the corner and actually does 
not demand money. It is the sack again. So there, 
I see the knot of men, soldiers chiefly, fighting in 
a bare room round a tiny wicket. I recognise the place 
where I have fought before. 

So while the q-b stands guard over sack and bag, 
I plunge into the fray. It literally is a fight. Some 
thirty men all at once want to get at a tiny wicket in a 
blank wall. There are no queue-rails, there is no or- 
der: just a hole in a blank wall, and thirty fellows, 
mostly military, pressing at it in a mass. But I have 
done this before. The way is to insert the thin end 

[ 328 ] 



BACK 

of oneself, and without any violence, by deadly 
pressure and pertinacity come at the goal. One hand 
must be kept fast over the money pocket, and one 
must be free to clutch the wicket-side when one gets 
there. And thus one is ground small in those mills 
of God, Demos struggling for tickets. It isn't very 
nice so close, so incomparably crushed. And never 
for a second must one be off one's guard for one's watch 
and money and even hanky. When I first came to 
Italy after the war I was robbed twice in three weeks, 
floating round in the sweet old innocent confidence in 
mankind. Since then I have never ceased to be on 
my guard. Somehow or other, waking and sleeping 
one's spirit must be on its guard nowadays. Which 
is really what I prefer, now I have learnt it. Con- 
fidence in the goodness of mankind is a very thin pro- 
tection indeed. Integer vitae scelerisque furus will 
do nothing for you when it comes to humanity, however 
efficacious it may be with lions and wolves. There- 
fore, tight on my guard, like a screw biting into a bit 
of wood, I bite my way through that knot of fellows, 
to the wicket, and shout for two first-class. The clerk 
inside ignores me for some time, serving soldiers. But 
if you stand like Doomsday you get your way. Two 
firsts, says the clerk. Husband and wife, say I, in 
case there is a two-berth cabin. Jokes behind. But 

[ 329 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA^ 

I get my tickets. Impossible to put my hand to my 
pocket. The tickets cost about a hundred and five 
francs each. Clutching paper change and the green 
slips, with a last gasp I get out of the knot. So we've 
done it. As I sort my money and stow away, I hear 
another ask for one first-class. Nothing left, says the 
clerk. So you see how one must fight. 

I must say for these dense and struggling crowds, 
they are only intense, not violent, and not in the least 
brutal. I always feel a certain sympathy with the 
men in them. 

Bolt through the pouring rain to the ship. And in 
two minutes we are aboard. And behold, each of us 
has a deck cabin, I one to myself, the q-b to herself 
next door. Palatial not a cabin at all, but a proper 
little bedroom with a curtained bed under the port- 
hole windows, a comfortable sofa, chairs, table, carpets, 
big wash-bowls with silver taps a whole de luxe. I 
dropped the sack on the sofa with a gasp, drew back 
the yellow curtains of the bed, looked out of the port- 
hole at the lights of Naples, and sighed with relief. 
One could wash thoroughly, refreshingly, and change 
one's linen. Wonderful! 

The state-room is like an hotel lounge, many little 
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BACK 

tables with flowers and periodicals, arm-chairs, warm 
carpet, bright but soft lights, and people sitting about 
chatting. A loud group of English people in one 
corner, very assured: two quiet English ladies: various 
Italians seeming quite modest. Here one could sit 
in peace and rest, pretending to look at an illustrated 
magazine. So we rested. After about an hour there 
entered a young Englishman and his wife, whom we 
had seen on our train. So, at last the coach had been 
shunted down to the port. Where should we have 
been had we waited! 

The waiters began to flap the white table-cloths and 
spread the tables nearest the walls. Dinner would 
begin at half-past seven, immediately the boat started. 
We sat in silence, till eight or nine tables were spread. 
Then we let the other people take their choice. After 
which we chose a table by ourselves, neither of us want- 
ing company. So we sat before the plates and the 
wine-bottles and sighed in the hopes of a decent meal. 
Food by the way is not included in the hundred-and- 
five francs. 

Alas, we were not to be alone: two young Neapoli- 
tans, pleasant, quiet, blond, or semi-blond. They were 
well-bred, and evidently of northern extraction. Af- 
terwards we found out they were jewellers. But I 

[ 331 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

liked their quiet, gentle manners. The dinner began, 
and we were through the soup, when up pranced an- 
other young fellow, rather strapping and loud, a com- 
mercial traveller, for sure. He had those cocky as- 
sured manners of one who is not sure of his manners. 
He had a rather high forehead, and black hair brushed 
up in a showy wing, and a large ring on his finger. 
Not that a ring signifies anything. Here most of the 
men wear several, all massively jewelled. If one be- 
lieved in all the jewels, why Italy would be more 
fabulous than fabled India. But our friend the 
bounder was smart, and smelled of cash. Not money, 
but cash. 

I had an inkling of what to expect when he handed 
the salt and said in English "Salt, thenk you." But 
I ignored the advance. However, he did not wait 
long. Through the windows across the room the q-b 
saw the lights of the harbour slowly moving. "Oh," 
she cried, "are we going?" And also in Italian: 
"Partiamo?" All watched the lights, the bounder 
screwing round. He had one of the fine, bounderish 
backs. 

"Yes," he said. "We going" 

"Oh," cried she. "Do you speak English? " 

"Ye-es. Some English I speak." 

As a matter of fact he spoke about forty disconnected 
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BACK 

words. But his accent was so good for these forty. 
He did not speak English, he imitated an English 
voice making sounds. And the effect was startling. 
He had served on the Italian front with the Scots 
Guards so he told us in Italian. He was Milanese. 
Oh, he had had a time with the Scots Guards. 
Wheesky eh? Wheesky. 

"Come along bhoys!" he shouted. 

And it was such a Scotch voice shouting, so loud- 
mouthed and actual, I nearly went under the table. 
It struck us both like a blow. 

Afterwards he rattled away without misgiving. He 
was a traveller for a certain type of machine, and was 
doing Sicily. Shortly he was going to England and 
he asked largely about first-class hotels. Then he 
asked was the q-b French? Was she Italian? No, 
she was German. Ah German. And immediately 
out he came with the German word: "Deutsch! 
Deutsch, eh? From Deutschland. Oh yes! 
Deutschland iiber alles! Ah, I know. No more 
what? Deutschland unter alles now? Deutschland 
unter alles." And he bounced on his seat with gratifi- 
cation of the words. Of German as of English he 
knew half a dozen phrases. 

"No," said the q-b, "Not Deutschland unter alles. 
Not for long, anyhow." 

[ 333 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

"How? Not for long? You think so? I think 
so too," said the bounder. Then in Italian: "La Ger- 
mania won't stand under all for long. No, no. At 
present it is England iiber alles. England uber dies. 
But Germany will rise up again." 

"Of course," said the q-b. "How shouldn't she?" 

"Ah," said the bounder, "while England keeps the 
money in her pocket, we shall none of us rise up. Italy 
won the war, and Germany lost it. And Italy and 
Germany they both are down, and England is up. 
They both are down, and England is up. Eng- 
land and France. Strange, isn't it? Ah, the al- 
lies. What are the allies for? To keep England up, 
and France half way, and Germany and Italy down." 

"Ah, they won't stay down for ever," said the q-b. 

"You think not? Ah! We will see. We will see 
how England goes on now." 

"England is not going on so marvellously, after all," 
say I. 

"How not? You mean Ireland?" 

"No, not only Ireland. Industry altogether. Eng- 
land is as near to ruin as other countries." 

"Ma! With all the money, and we others with no 
money? How will she be ruined?" 

"And what good would it be to you if she were?" 

"Oh well who knows. If England were ruined " 
[ 334 ] ' 



BACK 

a slow smile of anticipation spread over his face. How 
he would love it how they would all love it, if Eng- 
land were ruined. That is, the business part of them, 
perhaps, would not love it. But the human part 
would. The human part fairly licks its lips at the 
thought of England's ruin. The commercial part, 
however, quite violently disclaims the anticipations of 
the human part. And there it is. The newspapers 
chiefly speak with the commercial voice. But indi- 
vidually, when you are got at in a railway carriage or 
as now on a ship, up speaks the human voice, and you 
know how they love you. This is no doubt inevitable. 
When the exchange stands at a hundred and six men 
go humanly blind, I suppose, however much they may 
keep the commercial eye open. And having gone 
humanly blind they bump into one's human self nastily: 
a nasty jar. You know then how they hate you. 
Underneath, they hate us, and as human beings we are 
objects of envy and malice. They hate us, with envy, 
and despise us, with jealousy. Which perhaps doesn't 
hurt commercially. Humanly it is to me unpleasant. 
The dinner was over, and the bounder was lavishing 
cigarettes Murattis, if you please. We had all drunk 
two bottles of wine. Two other commercial travellers 
had joined the bounder at our table two smart young 
fellows, one a bounder and one gentle and nice. Our 

[ 335 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

two jewellers remained quiet, talking their share, but 
quietly and so sensitively. One could not help liking 
them. So we were seven people, six men. 

"Wheesky! Will you drink Wheesky, Mister?" 
said our original bounder. "Yes, one small Scotch! 
One Scotch Wheesky." All this in a perfect Scotty 
voice of a man standing at a bar calling for a drink. It 
was comical, one could not but laugh : and very imperti- 
nent. He called for the waiter, took him by the but- 
ton-hole, and with a breast-to-breast intimacy asked if 
there was whisky. The waiter, with the same tone of 
you-and-I-are-men-who-have-the-same-feelings, said 
he didn't think there was whisky, but he would look. 
Our bounder went round the table inviting us all to 
whiskies, and pressing on us his expensive English 
cigarettes with great aplomb. 

The whisky came and five persons partook. It 
was fiery, oily stuff from heaven knows where. The 
bounder rattled away, spouting his bits of English and 
his four words of German. He was in high feather, 
wriggling his large haunches on his chair and waving 
his hands. He had a peculiar manner of wriggling 
from the bottom of his back, with fussy self-assertive- 
ness. It was my turn to offer whisky. 

I was able in a moment's lull to peer through the 
windows and see the dim lights of Capri the glimmer 

[ 336 ] 



BACK 

of Anacapri up on the black shadow the lighthouse. 
We had passed the island. In the midst of the babel 
I sent out a few thoughts to a few people on the island. 
Then I had to come back. 

The bounder had once more resumed his theme of 
PInghilterra, PItalia, la Germania. He swanked 
England as hard as he could. Of course England was 
the top dog, and if he could speak some English, if he 
were talking to English people, and if, as he said, he 
was going to England in April, why he was so much 
the more top-doggy than his companions, who could 
not rise to all these heights. At the same time, my 
nerves had too much to bear. 

Where were we going and where had we been and 
where did we live? And ah, yes, English people lived 
in Italy. Thousands, thousands of English people 
lived in Italy. Yes, it was very nice for them. There 
used to be many Germans, but now the Germans were 
down. But the English what could be better for 
them than Italy now: they had sun, they had warmth, 
they had abundance of everything, they had a charming 
people to deal with, and they had the cambio! Ecco! 
The other commercial travellers agreed. They ap- 
pealed to the q-b if it was not so. And altogether I 
had enough of it. 

"Oh yes," said I, "it's very nice to be in Italy: 

[ 337 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

especially if you are not living in an hotel, and you 
have to attend to things for yourself. It is very nice 
to be overcharged every time, and then insulted if you 
say a word. It's very nice to have the cambw thrown 
in your teeth, if you say two words to any Italian, even 
a perfect stranger. It's very nice to have waiters and 
shop-people and railway porters sneering in a bad 
temper and being insulting in small, mean ways all the 
time. It's very nice to feel what they all feel against 
you. And if you understand enough Italian, it's very 
nice to hear what they say when you've gone by. Oh 
very nice. Very nice indeed! " 

I suppose the whisky had kindled this outburst in 
me. They sat dead silent. And then our bounder be- 
gan, in his sugary deprecating voice. 

"Why no! Why no! It is not true, signore. No, 
it is not true. Why, England is the foremost nation 
in the world " 

"And you want to pay her out for it." 

"But no, signore. But no. What makes you say so? 
Why, we Italians are so goodnatured. Noi Italiani 
siamo cosi buoni. Siamo cosi buoni." 

It was the identical words of the schoolmistress. 

"Buoni," said I. "Yes perhaps. Buoni when it's 
not a question of the exchange and of money. But 

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BACK 

since it is always a question of cambio and soldi, now, 
one is always, in a small way, insulted." 

I suppose it must have been the whisky. Anyhow 
Italians can never bear hard bitterness. The jewellers 
looked distressed, the bounders looked down their 
noses, half exulting even now, and half sheepish, being 
caught. The third of the commis voyageurs, the gen- 
tle one, made large eyes and was terrified that he was 
going to be sick. He represented a certain Italian 
liqueur, and he modestly asked us to take a glass of it. 
He went with the waiter to secure the proper brand. 
So we drank and it was good. But he, the giver, sat 
with large and haunted eyes. Then he said he would 
go to bed. Our bounder gave him various advice re- 
garding seasickness. There was a mild swell on the 
sea. So he of the liqueur departed. 

Our bounder thrummed on the table and hummed 
something, and asked the q-b if she knew the Rosen- 
cavalier. He always appealed to her. She said she 
did. And ah, he was passionately fond of music, said 
he. Then he warbled, in a head voice, a bit more. 
He only knew classical music, said he. And he mewed 
a bit of Moussorgsky. The q-b said Moussorgsky was 
her favourite musician, for opera. Ah, cried the 
bounder, if there were but a piano! There is a piano, 

[ 339 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

said his mate. Yes, he replied, but it is locked up. 
Then let us get the key, said his mate, with aplomb. 
The waiters, being men with the same feelings as our 
two, would give them anything. So the key was forth- 
coming. We paid our bills mine about sixty francs. 
Then we went along the faintly rolling ship, up the 
curved staircase to the drawing room. Our bounder 
unlocked the door of this drawing room, and switched 
on the lights. 

It was quite a pleasant room, with deep divans up- 
holstered in pale colours, and palm-trees standing 
behind little tables, and a black upright piano. Our 
bounder sat on the piano-stool and gave us an exhibi- 
tion. He splashed out noise on the piano in splashes, 
like water splashing out of a pail. He lifted his head 
and shook his black mop of hair, and yelled out some 
fragments of opera. And he wriggled his large, 
bounder's back upon the piano stool, wriggling upon his 
well-filled haunches. Evidently he had a great deal 
of feeling for music: but very little prowess. He 
yelped it out, and wriggled, and splashed the piano. 
His friend the other bounder, a quiet one in a pale suit, 
with stout limbs, older than the wriggler, stood by the 
piano whilst the young one exhibited. Across the 
space of carpet sat the two brother jewellers, deep in 
a divan, their lean, semi-blond faces quite inscrutable. 

[ 340 ] 



BACK 

The q-b sat next to me, asking for this and that music, 
none of which the wriggler could supply. He knew 
four scraps, and a few splashes not more. The elder 
bounder stood near him quietly comforting, encourag- 
ing, and admiring him, as a lover encouraging and ad- 
miring his ingenue betrothed. And the q-b sat bright- 
eyed and excited, admiring that a man could perform 
so unself -consciously self-conscious, and give himself 
away with such generous wriggles. For my part, as 
you may guess, I did not admire. 

I had had enough. Rising, I bowed and marched 
off. The q-b came after me. Goodnight, said I, at 
the head of the corridor. She turned in, and I went 
round the ship to look at the dark night of the sea. 

Morning came sunny with pieces of cloud: and the 
Sicilian coast towering pale blue in the distance. How 
wonderful it must have been to Ulysses to venture into 
this Mediterranean and open his eyes on all the love- 
liness of the tall coasts. How marvellous to steal with 
his ship into these magic harbours. There is something 
eternally morning-glamourous about these lands as they 
rise from the sea. And it is always the Odyssey which 
comes back to one as one looks at them. All the lovely 
morning- wonder of this world, in Homer's day! 

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SEA AND SARDINIA 

Our bounder was dashing about on deck, in one of 
those rain-coats gathered in at the waist and ballooning 
out into skirts below the waist. He greeted me with 
a cry of "It's a long, long way to Tipperary." "Very 
long," said I. "Goodbye Piccadilly " he continued. 
"Ciau," said I, as he dashed jauntily down the steps. 
Soon we saw the others as well. But it was morning, 
and I simply did not want to speak to them except 
just Good-day. For my life I couldn't say two more 
words to any of them this morning: except to ask the 
mild one if he had been sick. He had not. 

So we waited for the great Citta di Trieste to float 
her way into Palermo harbour. It looked so near 
the town there, the great circle of the port, the mass 
of the hills crowding round. Panormus, the All-har- 
bour. I wished the bulky steamer would hurry up. 
For I hated her now. I hated her swankiness, she 
seemed made for commercial travellers with cash. I 
hated the big picture that filled one end of the state- 
room: an elegant and ideal peasant-girl, a sort of Italia, 
strolling on a lovely and ideal cliff's ' edge, among 
myriad blooms, and carrying over her arm, in a most 
sophisticated fashion, a bough of almond blossom and 
a sheaf of anemones. I hated the waiters, and the 
cheap elegance, the common de luxe. I disliked the 
people, who all turned their worst, cash-greasy sides 

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BACK 

outwards on this ship. Vulgar, vulgar post-war com- 
mercialism and dog-fish money-stink. I longed to get 
off. And the bloated boat edged her way so slowly 
into the port, and then more slowly still edged round 
her fat stern. And even then we were kept for fifteen 
minutes waiting for someone to put up the gangway 
for the first class. The second class, of course, were 
streaming off and melting like thawed snow into the 
crowds of onlookers on the quay, long before we were 
allowed to come off. 

Glad, glad I was to get off that ship: I don't know 
why, for she was clean and comfortable and the attend- 
ants were perfectly civil. Glad, glad I was not to 
share the deck with any more commercial travellers. 
Glad I was to be on my own feet, independent. No, 
I would not take a carriage. I carried my sack on my 
back to the hotel, looking with a jaundiced eye on the 
lethargic traffic of the harbour front. It was about 
nine o'clock. 

Later on, when I had slept, I thought as I have 
thought before, the Italians are not to blame for their 
spite against us. We, England, have taken upon our- 
selves for so long the role of leading nation. And if 
now, in the war or after the war, we have led them 

[ 343 1 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

all into a real old swinery which we have, notwith- 
standing all Entente cant then they have a legitimate 
grudge against us. If you take upon yourself to lead, 
you must expect the mud to be thrown at you if you 
lead into a nasty morass. Especially if, once in the 
bog, you think of nothing else but scrambling out over 
other poor devils' backs. Pretty behaviour of great 
nations ! 

And still, for all that, I must insist that I am a 
single human being, an individual, not a mere national 
unit, a mere chip of PInghilterra or la Germania. I 
am not a chip of any nasty old block. I am myself. 

In the evening the q-b insisted on going to the mar- 
ionettes, for which she has a sentimental passion. So 
the three of us we were with the American friend 
once more chased through dark and tortuous side- 
streets and markets of Palermo in the night, until at 
last a friendly man led us to the place. The back 
streets of Palermo felt friendly, not huge and rather 
horrible, like Naples near the port. 

The theatre was a little hole opening simply off the 
street. There was no one in the little ticket box, so 
we walked past the door-screen. A shabby old man 
with a long fennel-stalk hurried up and made us places 
on the back benches, and hushed us when we spoke of 

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BACK 

tickets. The play was in progress. A serpent-dragon 
was just having a tussle with a knight in brilliant brass 
armour, and my heart came into my mouth. The au- 
dience consisted mostly of boys, gazing with frantic 
interest on the bright stage. There was a sprinkling 
of soldiers and elderly men. The place was packed 
about fifty souls crowded on narrow little ribbons of 
benches, so close one behind the other that the end of 
the man in front of me continually encroached and sat 
on my knee. I saw on a notice that the price of entry 
was forty centimes. 

We had come in towards the end of the performance, 
and so sat rather bewildered, unable to follow. The 
story was the inevitable Paladins of France one heard 
the names Rinaldo! Orlando! again and again. But 
the story was told in dialect, hard to follow. 

I was charmed by the figures. The scene was very 
simple, showing the interior of a castle. But the fig- 
ures, which were about two-thirds of human size, were 
wonderful in their brilliant, glittering gold armour, 
and their martial prancing motions. All were knights 
even the daughter of the king of Babylon. She was 
distinguished only by her long hair. All were in the 
beautiful, glittering armour, with helmets and visors 
that could be let down at will. I am told this armour 
has been handed down for many generations. It cer- 

[ 345 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

tainly is lovely. One actor alone was not in armour, 
the wizard Magicce, or Malvigge, the Merlin of the 
Paladins. He was in a long scarlet robe, edged with 
fur, and wore a three-cornered scarlet hat. 

So we watched the dragon leap and twist and get 
the knight by the leg: and then perish. We watched 
the knights burst into the castle. We watched the 
wonderful armour-clashing embraces of the delivered 
knights, Orlando and his bosom friend and the little 
dwarf, clashing their armoured breasts to the breasts 
of their brothers and deliverers. We watched the 
would-be tears flow. And then the statue of the witch 
suddenly go up in flames^ at which a roar of exultation 
from the boys. Then it was over. The theatre was 
empty in a moment, but the proprietors and the two 
men who sat near us would not let us go. We must 
wait for the next performance. 

My neighbour, a fat, jolly man, told me all about 
it. His neighbour, a handsome tipsy man, kept con- 
tradicting and saying it wasn't so. But my fat neigh- 
bour winked at me, not to take offence. 

This story of the Paladins of France lasted three 
nights. We had come on the middle night of course. 
But no matter each night was a complete story. I am 
sorry I have forgotten the names of the knights. But 
the story was, that Orlando and his friend and the 

[ 346 ) 



BACK 

little dwarf, owing to the tricks of that same dwarf, 
who belonged to the Paladins, had been captured and 
immured in the enchanted castle of the ghastly old 
witch who lived on the blood of Christians. It was 
now the business of Rinaldo and the rest of the 
Paladins, by the help of Magicce the good wizard, to 
release their captured brethren from the ghoulish old 
witch. 

So much I made out of the fat man's story, while 
the theatre was filling. He knew every detail of the 
whole Paladin cycle. And it is evident the Paladin 
cycle has lots of versions. For the handsome tipsy 
neighbour kept saying he was wrong, he was wrong, 
and giving different stories, and shouting for a jury to 
come and say who was right, he or my fat friend. A 
jury gathered, and a storm began to rise. But the 
stout proprietor with a fennel-wand came and quenched 
the noise, telling the handsome tipsy man he knew too 
much and wasn't asked. Whereupon the tipsy one 
sulked. 

Ah, said my friend, couldn't I come on Friday. Fri- 
day was a great night. On Friday they were giving 
I Beati Paoli: The Blessed Pauls. He pointed to the 
walls where were the placards announcing The Blessed 
Pauls. These Pauls were evidently some awful secret 

with masking hoods and dagger? and awful 
I 347 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

eyes looking through the holes. I said were they 
assassins like the Black Hand. By no means, by no 
means. The Blessed Pauls were a society for the pro- 
tection of the poor. Their business was to track down 
and murder the oppressive rich. Ah, they were a won- 
derful, a splendid society. Were they, said I, a sort of 
camorra? Ah, on the contrary here he lapsed into 
a tense voice they hated the camorra. These, the 
Blest Pauls, were the powerful and terrible enemy of 
the grand camorra. For the Grand Camorra op- 
presses the poor. And therefore the Pauls track down 
in secret the leaders of the Grand Camorra, and assas- 
sinate them, or bring them to the fearful hooded 
tribunal which utters the dread verdict of the Beati 
Paoli. And when once the Beati Paoli have decreed 
a man's death all over. Ah bellissimo, bellissimo! 
Why don't I come on Friday? 

It seems to me a queer moral for the urchins thick- 
packed and gazing at the drop scene. They are all 
males : urchins or men. I ask my fat friend why there 
are no women no girls. Ah, he says, the theatre is 
so small. But, I say, if there is room for all the boys 
and men, there is the same room for girls and women. 
Oh no not in this small theatre. Besides this is 
nothing for women. Not that there is anything im- 
proper, he hastens to add. Not at all. . But what 

[ 348 1 



BACK 

should women and girls be doing at the marionette 
show? It was an affair for males. 

I agreed with him really, and was thankful we hadn't 
a lot of smirking twitching girls and lasses in the au- 
dience. This male audience was so tense and pure in 
its attention. 

But hist ! the play is going to begin. A lad is grind- 
ing a broken street-piano under the stage. The 
padrone yells Silenzio! with a roar, and reaching over, 
pokes obstreperous boys with his long fennel-stalk, like 
a beadle in church. When the curtain rises the piano 
stops, and there is dead silence. On swings a knight, 
glittering, marching with that curious hippety lilt, and 
gazing round with fixed and martial eyes. He begins 
the prologue, telling us where we are. And dramati- 
cally he waves his sword and stamps his foot, and won- 
derfully sounds his male, martial, rather husky voice. 
Then the Paladins, his companions who are to accom- 
pany him, swing one by one onto the stage, till they are 
five in all, handsome knights, including the Babylonian 
Princess and the Knight of Britain. They stand in a 
handsome, glittering line. And then comes Merlin in 
his red robe. Merlin has a bright, fair, rather chubby 
face and blue eyes, and seems to typify the northern 
intelligence. He now tells them, in many words, how 
to proceed and what is to be done. 

[ 349 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

So then, the glittering knights are ready. Are they 
ready? Rinaldo flourishes his sword with the wonder- 
ful cry "Andiamo!" let us go and the others respond: 
"Andiamo". Splendid word. 

The first enemy were the knights of Spain, in red 
kirtles and half turbans. With these a terrible fight. 
First of all rushes in the Knight of Britain. He is the 
boaster, who always in words, does everything. But 
in fact, poor knight of Britain, he falls lamed. The 
four Paladins have stood shoulder to shoulder, glitter- 
ing, watching the fray. Forth now steps another 
knight, and the fight recommences. Terrible is the 
smacking of swords, terrible the gasps from behind the 
dropped visors. Till at last the knight of Spain falls 
and the Paladin stands with his foot on the dead. 
Then loud acclamations from the Paladins, and yells 
of joy from the audience. 

"Silenzio!" yells the padrone, flourishing the fennel- 
stalk. 

Dead silence, and the story goes on. The Knight 
of Britain of course claims to have slain the foe: and 
the audience faintly, jeeringly hisses. "He's always 
the boaster, and he never does anything, the Knight 
of Britain," whispers my fat friend. He has forgotten 
my nationality. I wonder if the Knight of Britain is 

[ 350 ] 



BACK 

pure tradition, or if a political touch of today has 
crept in. 

However, this fray is over Merlin conies to advise 
for the next move. And are we ready? We are 
ready. Andiamo! Again the word is yelled out, and 
they set off. At first one is all engaged watching the 
figures: their brilliance, their blank, martial stare, their 
sudden, angular, gestures. There is something ex- 
tremely suggestive in them. How much better they 
fit the old legend-tales than living people would do. 
Nay, if we are going to have human beings on the stage, 
they should be masked and disguised. For in fact 
drama is enacted by symbolic creatures formed out of 
human consciousness: puppets if you like: but not 
human individuals. Our stage is all wrong, so boring 
in its personality. 

Gradually, however, I found that my eyes were of 
minor importance. Gradually it was the voice that 
gained hold of the blood. It is a strong, rather husky, 
male voice that acts direct on the blood, not on the 
mind. Again the old male Adam began to stir at the 
roots of my soul. Again the old, first-hand indiffer- 
ence, the rich, untamed male blood rocked down my 
veins. What does one care? What does one care 
for precept and mental dictation? Is there not the 
massive, brilliant, out-flinging recklessness in the male 

[ 351 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

soul, summed up in the sudden word: Andiamo! 
Andiamo! Let us go on. Andiamo! let us go hell 
knows where, but let us go on. The splendid reck- 
lessness and passion that knows no precept and no 
school-teacher, whose very molten spontaneity is its 
own guide. 

I loved the voices of the Paladins Rinaldo's voice, 
and Orlando's voice: the voice of men once more, men 
who are not to be tutored. To be sure there was Mer- 
lin making his long speeches in rather a chuntering, 
prosy tone. But who was he? Was he a Paladin and 
a splendour? Not he. A long-gowned chunterer. 
It is the reckless blood which achieves all, the piff-piff- 
piffing of the mental and moral intelligence is but 
a subsidiary help, a mere instrument. 

The dragon was splendid: I have seen dragons in 
Wagner, at Covent Garden and at the Prinz-Regenten 
Theater in Munich, and they were ridiculous. But this 
dragon simply frightened me, with his leaping and 
twisting. And when he seized the knight by the leg, 
my blood ran cold. 

With smoke and sulphur leaps in Beelzebub. But 
he is merely the servant of the great old witch. He is 
black and grinning, and he flourishes his posterior and 
his tail. But he is curiously inefficacious: a sort of 
lackey of wicked powers. 

[ 35* ] 



BACK 

The old witch with her grey hair and staring eyes 
succeeds in being ghastly. With just a touch, she 
would be a tall, benevolent old lady. But listen to her. 
Hear her horrible female voice with its scraping yells 
of evil lustfulness. Yes, she fills me with horror. 
And I am staggered to find how I believe in her as the 
evil principle. Beelzebub, poor devil, is only one of 
her instruments. 

It is her old, horrible, girning female soul which 
locks up the heroes, and which sends forth the awful 
and almost omnipotent malevolence. This old, 
ghastly woman-spirit is the very core of mischief. 
And I felt my heart getting as hot against her as the 
hearts of the lads in the audience were. Red, deep 
hate I felt of that symbolic old ghoul-female. Poor 
male Beelzebub is her loutish slave. And it takes all 
Merlin's bright-faced intelligence, and all the surging 
hot urgency of the Paladins, to conquer her. 

She will never be finally destroyed she will never 
finally die, till her statue, which is immured in the 
vaults of the castle, is burned. Oh, it was a very 
psychoanalytic performance altogether, and one could 
give a very good Freudian analysis of it. But behold 
this image of the witch: this white, submerged id,ea 
of woman which rules from the deeps of the uncon- 
scious. Behold, the reckless, untamable male knights 

[ 353 ] 



SEA AND SARDINIA 

will do for it. As the statue goes up in flame it is 
only paper over wires the audience yells! And yells 
again. And would God the symbolic act were really 
achieved. It is only little boys who yell. Men merely 
smile at the trick. They know well enough the white 
image endures. 

So it is over. The knights look at us once more. 
Orlando, hero of heroes, has a slight inward cast of the 
eyes. This gives him that look of almost fierce good- 
nature which these people adore: the look of a man 
who does not think, but whose heart is all the time red 
hot with burning, generous blood-passion. This is 
what they adore. 

So my knights go. They all have wonderful faces, 
and are so splendidly glittering and male. I am sorry 
they will be laid in a box now. 

There is a great gasp of relief. The piano starts its 
lame rattle. Somebody looking round laughs. And 
we all look round. And seated on the top of the ticket 
office is a fat, solemn urchin of two or three years, 
hands folded over his stomach, his forehead big and 
blank, like some queer little Buddha. The audience 
laughs with that southern sympathy: physical sympa- 
thy: that is what they love to feel and to arouse. 

But there is a little after-scene: in front of the drop- 
curtain jerks out a little fat flat caricature of a Neapoli- 

[ 354 ] 



BACK 

tan, and from the opposite side jerks the tall caricature 
of a Sicilian. They jerk towards one another and 
bump into one another with a smack. And smack goes 
the Neapolitan, down on his posterior. And the boys 
howl with joy. It is the eternal collision between the 
two peoples, Neapolitan and Sicilian. Now goes on 
a lot of fooling between the two clowns, in the two 
dialects. Alas, I can hardly understand anything at 
all. But it sounds comic, and looks very funny. The 
Neapolitan of course gets most of the knocks. And 
there seems to be no indecency at all unless once. 
The boys howl and rock with joy, and no one says 
Silenzio! 

But it is over. All is over. The theatre empties in 
a moment. And I shake hands with my fat neighbour, 
affectionately, and in the right spirit. Truly I loved 
them all in the theatre: the generous, hot southern 
blood, so subtle and spontaneous, that asks for blood 
contact, not for mental communion or spirit sympathy. 
I was sorry to leave them. 

FINIS. 



[ 355 ] 



THE OUTSTANDING TRAVEL BOOK OF THE YEAR. 

SEA AND SARDINIA 

By D. H. LAWRENCE: 

Illustrated with reproductions in full color of striking paintings made 
especially to illustrate this loolc by Jan Juta; and a map of Sardinia by 
the author. 

An account of a trip Lawrence took in Sardinia. Chatty, intimate, 
full of keen and unusual observations. It is a book that should be in the 
homes of all. The text by Lawrence and the beautiful pictures by Jan 
Juta make a rare combination. 

Mr. Lawrence himself chose the talented young Jan Juta to make the 
illustrations for this book. The whimsical, really humorous map by the 
author, displaying high draughtsman skill, further adds to the 
the book. 

The illustrations singularly fit in with Mr. Lawrence's style, as they 
are of a modern school, yet do not altogether break with classic tradition 
Mr Juta is the son of Sir Henry Juta, Judge President of the Union o 
South Africa. He was a pupil of the Slade School in London, 
war ended, he has been abroad a good deal, visiting various countries in 
search of new fields. His best recommendation, he says, is the fact 
Mr D H Lawrence, who was attracted to his work in Italy, has selected 
him to illustrate his book from among all the brilliant young arti 
the modern school. 

John Peak Bishop, in Vanity Fair, soys: "It is a remarkable 'travel 
book,' this account of the Mediterranean, and the tall coasts of Italy, o 
the hard and primitive island of Sardinia, of the peasants, still c 
implacably to a medieval individualism, the men proudly dressed in the 
old magpie motley, black and white, the women in stiff spreading , 
of mauve and vermilion, like Velasquez princesses-remarkable because 
the unflagging sensitiveness and the sly observations." 

New York Times: "Among the best things that Lawrence has done, 
full of vivid description and compact with careful analysi; ^ ^ 



THOMAS SELTZER 

FIVE WEST FIFTIETH STREET, NEW YORK