“We are Germans,” I said proudly, “old South Germans.”
“Tell him he is a beautiful boy,” the lady said. Guy is thirty-eight and takes some pride in the fact that he is taken for a traveling salesman in France. “You are a beautiful boy,” I said.
“Who says so?” Guy asked, “you or her?”
“She does. I’m just your interpreter. Isn’t that what you got me in on this trip for?”
“I’m glad it’s her,” said Guy. “I don’t want to have to leave you here too.”
“I don’t know. Spezia’s a lovely place.”
“Spezia,” the lady said. “You are talking about Spezia.”
“Lovely place,” I said.
“It is my country,” she said. “Spezia is my home and Italy is my country.”
“She says that Italy is her country.”
“Tell her it looks like her country,” Guy said.
“What have you for dessert?” I asked.
“Fruit,” she said. “We have bananas.”
“Bananas are all right,” Guy said. “They’ve got skins on.”
“Oh, he takes bananas,” the lady said. She embraced Guy.
“What does she say?” he asked, keeping his face out of her way.
“She is pleased because you take bananas.”
“Tell her I don’t take bananas.”
“The Signor does not take bananas.”
“Ah,” said the lady, crestfallen, “he doesn’t take bananas.”
“Tell her I take a cold bath every morning,” Guy said.
“The Signor takes a cold bath every morning.”
“No understand,” the lady said.
Across from us, the property sailor had not moved. No one in the place paid any attention to him.
“We want the bill,” I said.
“Oh, no. You must stay.”
“Listen,” the clean-cut young man said from the table where he was writing, “let them go. These two are worth nothing.”
The lady took my hand. “You won’t stay? You won’t ask him to stay?”
“We have to go,” I said. “We have to get to Pisa, or if possible, Firenze, tonight. We can amuse ourselves in those cities at the end of the day. It is now the day. In the day we must cover distance.”
“To stay a little while is nice.”
“To travel is necessary during the light of day.”
“Listen,” the clean-cut young man said. “Don’t bother to talk with these two. I tell you they are worth nothing and I know.”
“Bring us the bill,” I said. She brought the bill from the old woman and went back and sat at the table. Another girl came in from the kitchen. She walked the length of the room and stood in the doorway.
“Don’t bother with these two,” the clean-cut young man said in a wearied voice. “Come and eat. They are worth nothing.”
We paid the bill and stood up. All the girls, the old woman, and the clean-cut young man sat down at the table together. The property sailor sat with his head in his hands. No one had spoken to him all the time we were at lunch. The girl brought us our change that the old woman counted out for her and went back to her place at the table. We left a tip on the table and went out. When we were seated in the car ready to start, the girl came out and stood in the door. We started and I waved to her. She did not wave, but stood there looking after us.
AFTER THE RAIN
It was raining hard when we passed through the suburbs of Genoa, and, even going very slowly behind the tramcars and the motor trucks, liquid mud splashed on to the sidewalks, so that people stepped into the doorways as they saw us coming. In San Pier d’Arena, the industrial suburb outside of Genoa, there is a wide street with two car-tracks and we drove down the centre to avoid sending the mud on to the men going home from work. On our left was the Mediterranean. There was a big sea running and waves broke and the wind blew the spray against the car. A riverbed that, when we had passed, going into Italy, had been wide, stony, and dry, was running brown, and up to the banks. The brown water discolored the sea and as the waves thinned and cleared in breaking, the light came through the yellow water and the crests, detached by the wind, blew across the road.