A big car passed us, going fast, and a sheet of muddy water rose up and over our windshield and radiator. The automatic windshield cleaner moved back and forth, spreading the film over the glass. We stopped and ate lunch at Sestri. There was no heat in the restaurant and we kept our hats and coats on. We could see the car outside, through the window. It was covered with mud and was stopped beside some boats that had been pulled up beyond the waves. In the restaurant you could see your breath.

The pasta asciutta was good; the wine tasted of alum, and we poured water in it. Afterwards the waiter brought beef steak and fried potatoes. A man and a woman sat at the far end of the restaurant. He was middle-aged and she was young and wore black. All during the meal she would blow out her breath in the cold damp air. The man would look at it and shake his head. They ate without talking and the man held her hand under the table. She was good-looking and they seemed very sad. They had a traveling-bag with them.

We had the papers and I read the account of the Shanghai fighting aloud to Guy. After the meal, he left with the waiter in search for a place which did not exist in the restaurant, and I cleaned off the windshield, the lights, and the license plates with a rag. Guy came back and we backed the car out and started. The waiter had taken him across the road and into an old house. The people in the house were suspicious and the waiter had remained with Guy to see nothing was stolen.

“Although I don’t know how, me not being a plumber, they expected me to steal anything,” Guy said.

As we came up on a headland beyond the town, the wind struck the car and nearly tipped it over.

“It’s good, it blows us away from the sea,” Guy said.

“Well,” I said, “they drowned Shelley somewhere along here.”

“That was down by Viareggio,” Guy said. “Do you remember what we came to this country for?”

“Yes,” I said, “but we didn’t get it.”

“We’ll be out of it tonight.”

“If we can get past Ventimiglia.”

“We’ll see. I don’t like to drive this coast at night.” It was early afternoon and the sun was out. Below, the sea was blue with whitecaps running towards Savona. Back beyond the cape the brown and blue waters joined. Out ahead of us, a tramp steamer was going up the coast.

“Can you still see Genoa?” Guy asked.

“Oh, yes.”

“That next big cape ought to put it out of sight.”

“We’ll see it a long time yet. I can still see Portofino Cape behind it.”

Finally we could not see Genoa. I looked back as we came out and there was only the sea, and below in the bay, a line of beach and fishing-boats and above, on the side of the hill, a town and then capes far down the coast.

“It’s gone now,” I said to Guy.

“Oh, it’s been gone a long time now.”

“But we couldn’t be sure till we got way out.”

There was a sign with a picture of an S-turn and Svolta Pericolosa. The road curved around the headland and the wind blew through the crack in the windshield. Below the cape was a flat stretch beside the sea. The wind had dried the mud and the wheels were beginning to lift dust. On the flat road we passed a Fascist riding a bicycle, a heavy revolver in a holster on his back. He held the middle of the road on his bicycle and we turned out for him. He looked up at us as we passed. Ahead there was a railway crossing, and as we came towards it the gates went down.

As we waited, the Fascist came up on his bicycle. The train went by and Guy started the engine.

“Wait,” the bicycle man shouted from behind the car. “Your number’s dirty.”

I got out with a rag. The number had been cleaned at lunch.

“You can read it,” I said.

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56

Categories: Hemingway, Ernest