Sicilian limes (Lumie di Sicilia)
- 1910 - Drama in one act
[Translator's note: The new version (1920) has a different
ending. Sina, instead of gaily distributing the limes to her guests, stands in
tears before her former sweetheart, who repudiating her remorse, thrusts the
money into her bosom and leaves.]
MICUCCIO BONAVINO, musician in a country band
MARTA MARNIS, mother of
SINA MARNIS, singer.
PLACE: A city in Northern Italy.
SCENE: A hallway, furnished simply with a small table and several
chairs. The corner to the left of the actors is hidden from view by a curtain.
There are doors at the right and the left. At the rear, the main door, of glass,
is open and leads to a dark room across which may be seen a decorated door,
likewise of glass, which affords a view of a splendidly illuminated salon. The
view includes a table, sumptuously spread.
NIGHT. The hallway is in darkness. Some one is snoring behind the
Shortly after the rise of the stage curtain Ferdinando enters
through the door at the right with a light in his hand. He is in shirt sleeves,
but he has only to put on his dress-coat and he will be ready to serve at the
table. He is followed by Micuccio Bonavino, evidently just from the country,
with his overcoat collar raised to his ears, a grimy bag in one hand and in the
other an old valise and the case oJ a musical instrument. He is so cold and so
exhausted that he can barely manage his burden. No sooner has the light been
brought in than the snoring behind the curtain ceases.
Dorina. [From within.] Who is it?
Ferdinando.. [Placing the light upon the little table.] Hey,
Dorina! Get up! Can't you see that we have Signor Bonvicino here?
Micuccio. [Shaking his head so as to get rid of a drop at the tip
of his nose.] My name's Bonavino.
Ferdinando.. Bonavino, Bonavino.
Dorina. [Yawning behind the curtain.] And who's he?
Ferdinando.. A relation of madame's. [To Micuccio.] And just
how may you be related to madame, please? Cousin, maybe?
Micuccio. [Embarrassed, hesitant ] Well, really, there's no
relationship. I am . . . my name's Micuccio Bonavino. You know that.
Dorina. [Her curiosity roused, she steps from behind the curtain,
still half asleep.] A relative of madame's?
Ferdinando.. [Provoked.] Can't you hear? [To Micuccio.]
Countryman of hers? Then why did you ask me whether zia Marta was here? [To
Dorina.] Understand? I took him for a relative, a nephew. I can't receive
you, my dear fellow.
Micuccio. What? Can't receive me? Why, I've come all the way from the
country, on purpose!
Ferdinando.. On purpose? What for?
Micuccio. To find her!
Ferdinando.. She's not here. I told you she can't be found in at this
Micuccio. And if the train just came in, what can I do about it? I've
been traveling for two days.
Dorina. [Eyeing him from head to toe.] And you look it!
Micuccio. I do, eh? Very much? How do I look?
Dorina. Ugly, my dear fellow. No offense.
Ferdinando.. I can't receive you. Call again tomorrow and you'll find
her. The madame is at the theatre now.
Micuccio. What do you mean, call again? Must I go? Where? I don't know
where to go in this town, at night. I'm a stranger. If she isn't here, I'll wait
for her. Really now. Can't I wait for her here?
Ferdinando.. I say No! Without her permission.
Micuccio. What permission! You don't know me.
Ferdinando.. That's just it. Because I don't know you, I'm not going
to get a bawling-out on account of you!
Micuccio. [Smiting with a confident air and with his finger making
a negative sign.] Rest easy.
Dorina. [To Ferdinando, ironically.] Indeed, she'll be just in
the proper mood to attend to him this evening. [To Micuccio.] Can't you
see? [She points to the illuminated salon in the rear.] There's a party
Micuccio. So? What party?
Dorina. An evening in [she yawns] her honor.
Ferdinando.. And we'll get through, God willing, by daybreak!
Micuccio. All right, no matter. I'm sure that the moment Teresina sees
me. . .
Ferdinando.. [To Dorina.] Understand? He calls her Teresina, he
does. Plain Teresina. He asked me whether "Teresina, the singer" was in.
Micuccio. Well, what of it? Isn't she a singer? That's what they call
it. Are you trying to teach me?
Dorina. Then you really know her well?
Micuccio. Well? Why, we grew up together!
Ferdinando.. [To Dorina.] What shall we do?
Dorina. Let him wait.
Micuccio. [Piqued.] Of course I'll wait. What do you mean? I
came on purpose to . . .
Ferdinando.. Take a seat there. I wash my hands of it. I must get
things ready. [He leaves in the direction of the salon at the rear.]
Micuccio. This is fine, indeed. As if I were . . . Perhaps because
they see me in this condition . . . If I were to tell Teresina when she returns
from the theatre. [He is seized by a doubt and looks about him.] Whose
house is this?
Dorina. [Eyeing him and poking fun at him.] Ours -- as long as
Micuccio. So, then, things are going well. [He inspects the place
anew, staring into the salon.] Is it a large house?
Dorina. So so.
Micuccio. And that's a salon?
Dorina. A reception hall. Tonight there's a banquet there.
Micuccio. Ah! What a spread! What bright lights!
Dorina. Beautiful, isn't it?
Micuccio. [Rubbing his hands contentedly.] Then it's true!
Micuccio. Eh, it's easily seen, they're well. . .
Dorina. In good health?
Micuccio. No, I mean well off. [He rubs his thumb against his
forefinger, in a manner to suggest the counting of money.]
Dorina. Why, do you know who Sina Marnis is?
Micuccio. Sina? Ah, yes, yes, now I understand. Zia Marta wrote me
about it. Teresina. Certainly. Tere-sina: Sina . . .
Dorina. But wait a moment. Now that I think of it. You [She calls
Ferdinando from the salon.] Do you know who he is? The fellow that she's
always writing to, the mother . . .
Micuccio. She can't write, the poor little thing . . .
Dorina. Yes, yes. Bonavino. But . . . Domenico. Your name's Domenico,
Micuccio. Domenico or Micuccio. It's the same thing. We call it
Micuccio where I come from.
Dorina. You're the fellow that was so sick, aren't you? Recently . . .
Micuccio. Terribly, yes. At death's door. Dead. Practically dead.
Dorina. And Signora Marta sent you a money order, didn't she? We went
to the post-office together.
Micuccio. A money order. A money order. And that's what I've come for!
I have it here -- the money.
Dorina. Are you returning it to her?
Micuccio. [Disturbed.] Money -- nothing! It's not to be
mentioned. But first . . . Will they be much longer in coming?
Dorina. [Looks at the clock.] Oh, about . . . Sometime tonight,
I imagine . . .
Ferdinando.. [Passing through the hallway, from the door at the
left, carrying kitchen utensils and shouting applause.] Bravo! Bravo! Bis!
Micuccio. [Smiling.] A great voice, eh?
Ferdinando.. [Turning back.] I should say so. A voice . . .
Micuccio. [Rubbing his palms.] I can take the credit for that!
It's my work!
Dorina. Her voice?
Micuccio. I discovered it!
Dorina. What, you? [To Ferdinando.] Do you hear? He discovered
Micuccio. I'm a musician, I am.
Ferdinando.. Ah! A musician? Bravo! And what do you play? The trumpet?
Micuccio. [At first, in all seriousness, makes a negative sign with
his finger; then] Who said trumpet? The piccolo. I belong to the band, I do.
I belong to our communal band up at my place.
Dorina. And what's the name of your place? Wait; I'll recall it.
Micuccio. Palma Monetchiaro. What else should it be named?
Ferdinando.. And it was really you who discovered her voice?
Dorina. Come now, my boy. Tell us how you did it, sonny! Wait and
listen to this, Ferdinando.
Micuccio. [Shrugging his shoulikrs.] How I did it? She used to
sing . . .
Dorina. And at once, you being a musician . . . ch?
Micuccio. No . . . not at once; on the other hand . . .
Ferdinando.. It took you some time?
Micuccio. She always used to be singing . . . sometimes out of pique.
Micuccio. And then again, to . . . to get certain thoughts out of her
mind . . . because . . .
Ferdinando.. Because what?
Micuccio. Oh, certain unpleasant things . . . disappoint- ments, poor
little girl . . . in those days. Her father had died. . . I, -- yes, I helped
her out a bit . . . her and her mother, zia Marta, . . But my mother was
against it . . . and . . . in short . . .
Dorina. You were fond of her, then?
Micuccio. I? Of Teresina? You make me laugh! My mother insisted on my
giving her up because she didn't have anything, and had lost her father . . .
while I, come good or evil, had my position in the band. . .
Ferdinando.. So . . . You're not related at all, then. Lovers, maybe?
Micuccio. My parents were against it! And that's why Teresina sang out
of spite. . .
Dorina. Ah! Just listen to that. . . And you?
Micuccio. It was heaven! I can truly say: an inspiration from heaven!
Nobody had ever noticed it -- not even I. All of a sudden . . . one morning . .
Ferdinando.. There's luck for you!
Micuccio. I'll never forget it. . . It was a morning in April. She was
at the window, singing. . . Up in the garret, beneath the roof!
Micuccio. What's wrong about that? The humblest of folk can have the
greatest of gifts.
Dorina. Of course they can! As you were saying? She was at the window
singing. . .
Micuccio. I had heard her sing that little air of ours surely a
hundred thousand times.
Dorina. Little air?
Micuccio. Yes. "All things in this world below." That's the name of
Ferdinando.. Eh! All things in this world below, . .
Micuccio. [Reciting the words.]
All things in this world below,
Live their day and then depart;
But this thorn that pricks my heart,
Darling mine, will never go.
And what a melody! Divine, impassioned. . . Enough of that. I had
never paid any attention to it. But that morning. . . It was as if I were in
paradise! An angel, it seemed that an angel was singing! That day, after dinner,
ever so quietly, without letting her or her mother know a thing about it, I took
up into the garret the leader of our band, who's a friend of mine, uh, a very
close friend, for that matter: Saro Malvati, such a kind-hearted chap, the poor
fellow, . . He hears her, he's a clever boy, a great leader, so they all say at
Palma, . . And he says, "Why, this is a God-given voice!" Imagine our joy! I
hired a piano, and before it was got up into that attic. . . Well. Then I bought
the music, and right away the leader began to give her lessons. . . Just like
that, satisfied with whatever they could give him from time to time. What was I?
Same as I am today; a poor, humble fellow, . . The piano cost money, the music
cost money, and then Teresina had to eat decent food. . .
Ferdinando.. Eh, of course.
Dorina. So that she's had the strength to sing. . .
Micuccio. Meat, every day! I can take the credit for that!
Ferdinando.. The deuce you say!
Dorina. And so?
Micuccio. And so she began to learn. You could see it all from the
very beginning, . . It was written above, in heaven, you might say. . . And it
was heard throughout the whole country, that great voice of hers. . . The people
would come from all around, and stand beneath the window in the street, to hear
her. . . And what spirit! She burned, she really was afire. . . And when she
would finish singing, she'd grasp me by the arm, like this [he seizes
Ferdinando.] and would shake me. . . Just like a madwoman. . . For she
already foresaw. She knew that fame was hers. . . The leader told us so. And she
didn't know how to show me her gratefulness. Zia Marta, on the other
hand, poor woman that she was . . .
Dorina. Was against her career?
Micuccio. I wouldn't say that she was against it -- she didn't believe
it, that was it. The poor old lady had had so many hard knocks in her life that
she didn't want Teresina to take it into her head to rise above the position to
which she had been so long resigned. She was, in plain words, afraid. And then
she knew what it cost me, and that my parents. . . But I broke with them all,
with my father, with my mother, when a certain teacher came from outside. . . He
used to give concerts. . . A. . . I can't remember his name now -- but he had a
fine reputation. . . When this master heard Teresina and said that it would be a
sin, a real sin not to have her continue her studies in a city, in a great
conservatory . . . I broke with them all. I sold the farm that had been left to
me by an uncle of mine, a priest, and sent Teresina to Naples.
Micuccio. Yes, I. -- I.
Dorina. [To Ferdinando.] At his expense, don't you understand?
Micuccio. I kept her there for four years, studying. I haven't seen
her since then.
Micuccio. Never. Because . . . because she began to sing in the
theatres, you see, here and there. . . She'd fly from Naples to Rome, from Rome
to Milan, then to Spain, then to Russia, then back here again, . .
Ferdinando.. Creating a furore everywhere!
Micuccio. Eh, I know all about it! I've got them all here, in the
valise, all the papers. . . And in here [he removed from his inside coat
pocket a bundle of letters.] I have all the letters, hers and her mother's.
. . Here you are: these are her words when she sent me the money, that time I
was on the point of death: "Dear Micuccio, I haven't time to write to you. I
confirm everything that mamma has said. Get better at once, become your old self
again, and wish me well. Teresina."
Ferdinando.. And did she send you much?
Dorina. A thousand lire -- wasn't it?
Micuccio. That was it. A thousand.
Ferdinando.. And that farm of yours, if I may ask -- that you sold.
How much was it worth?
Micuccio. How much should it be worth? Not much . . . A mere strip of
land. . .
Ferdinando.. [Winking to Dorina.] Ah!
Micuccio. But I have the money right here, I have. I don't want
anything at all. What little I've done, I've done for her sake. We had agreed to
wait two, three years, so as to let her make a place for her- self. . . Zia
Marta kept writing that to me all the time in her letters. I speak the plain
truth: I wasn't waiting for the money. So many years had passed I could wait a
while longer, . . But seeing that Teresina has sent it to me, it's a sign she
has enough and to spare; she's made a place for herself. . .
Ferdinando. . I should say! And what a place, my dear sir!
Micuccio. Then it's time . . .
Dorina. To marry?
Micuccio. I am here.
Ferdinando.. Have you come to marry Sina Marnis?
Dorina. Hush! That's their agreement! Can't you understand anything?
Certainly! To marry her!
Micuccio. I'm not saying anything. I simply say: I'm here. I've
abandoned everything and everybody yonder in the country: family, band,
everything. I went to law against my parents on account of those thousand lire,
which came unknown to me, at the time I was more dead than alive. I had to tear
it out of my mother's hands, for she wanted to keep it. Ah, no sirree -- it
isn't the money! Micuccio Bonavino, money? -- Not at all! Wherever I may happen
to be, even at the end of the world, I won't starve. I have my art. I have my
piccolo, and . . .
Dorina. You have? Did you bring along your piccolo, too?
Micuccio. Sure I did! We're as one person, my piccolo and I. . .
Ferdinando.. She sings and he plays. Understand?
Micuccio. Don't you think I can play in the orchestra?
Ferdinando.. Certainly! Why not?
Dorina. And, I'll bet you play well!
Micuccio. So so; I've been playing for ten years. . .
Ferdinando.. Would you mind letting us hear something? [About to
take the instrument case.]
Dorina. Yes! Bravo, bravo! Let's hear something!
Micuccio. Oh, no! What would you want, at this hour. . .
Dorina. Anything at all! Please, now!
Ferdinando.. Some little air. . .
Micuccio. Oh, no. . . Really! . . .
Ferdinando.. Don't make us coax you! [He opens the case and removes
the instrument.] Here you are!
Dorina. Come, now. Let's hear something. . .
Micuccio. But, really, it's impossible. . . Like this -- alone. . .
Dorina. No matter! Come on. Make a try!
Ferdinando.. If you don't, I'll play the thing!
Micuccio. For me, if you wish. . . Shall I play for you the air that
Teresina sang that day, up in the garret?
Ferdinando and Dorina. Yes, yes! Bravo! Bravo!
Ferdinando.. "All things in this world below"?
Micuccio. All things in this world below. [Micuccio sits down and
begins to play in all seriousness. Ferdinando and Dorina do their best to keep
from bursting into laughter. The other waiter, in dress coat, comes in to
listen, followed by the cook and the scullion. Ferdinando and Dorina caution
them by signs to listen quietly and earnestly. Micuccio's playing is suddenly
interrupted by a loud ringing of the bell.]
Ferdinando.. Oh! Here's madame!
Dorina. [To the other waiters.] Be off, now. Open the door. [To
the cook and the scullion.] And you, clear out! She said she wanted to have
dinner served as soon as she came back. [The other waiter, the cook and the
Ferdinando.. My dress coat. . . Where did I put it?
Dorina. There! [She points to behind the hangings and leaves in
[Micuccio arises, his instrument in his hand, abashed.
Ferdinando finds his coat, puts it on hurriedly, then, seeing that Micuccio is
about to follow Dorina, stops him rudely.]
Ferdinando.. You stay here! I must first let madame know. [Ferdinando
leaves. Micuccio is left in dejection, confused, oppressed by an uneasy
Marta's voice. [From within.] In there, Dorina! In the drawing
room! [Ferdinando, Dorina and the other waiter enter from the door at the
right and cross the stage toward the salon in the background, carrying
magnificent baskets of flowers, wreaths, and so on. Micuccio sticks his head
forward to get a look into the salon and catches sight of a large number of
gentlemen, all in evening dress, conversing confusedly. Dorina returns in a
great hurry, hastening to the door at the right.]
Micuccio. [Touching her arm.] Who are they?
Dorina. [Without stopping.] The guests! [Exit.]
[Micuccio stares again. His vision becomes clouded. His
stupefaction and his commotion are so great that he himself does not realize
that his eyes are moist with tears. He closes them, pulls himself iogether, as
if to resist the torture inflicted upon him by a shrill outburst of laughter. It
is Sina Marnis, in the salon. Dorina returns with two more baskets of flowers.]
Dorina. [Without stopping, hastening toward the salon.] What
are you crying about?
Micuccio. I? . . . No. . . All those people . . . [Enter zia Marta
from the door at the right. The poor old lady is oppressed by a hat and a
costly, splendid velvet cloak. As soon as she sees Micuccio she utters a cry
that is at once suppressed.]
Marta. What! Micuccio, you here?
Micuccio. [Uncovering his face and staring at her almost in fear.]
Zia Marta! Good Lord, . . Like this? You?
Marta. Why, what's wrong with me?
Micuccio. With a hat? You!
Marta. Ah, . . [Shakes her head and raises her hand. Then,
disturbed.] But how on earth did you come? Without a word of warning! How
did it happen?
Micuccio. I. ..I came.. .
Marta. And this evening, of all others! Oh, heavens, . . Wait. . .
What shall I do? What shall I do? Do you see how many people we have here, my
son? Tonight is the party in honor of Teresina. . .
Micuccio. I know.
Marta. Her special evening, understand? Wait. . . Just wait here a
moment. . .
Micuccio. If you, if you think that it would be best for me to go. . .
Marta. No. Wait a moment, I say. . . [She goes off toward the
Micuccio. I wouldn't know where to go. . . In this strange city. . .
[Zia Marta returns, and signals him with her gloved hand to
wait. She enters the salon and suddenly there is a deep silence. There are heard
clearly these words of Sina Marnis: "A moment, my friends!" Micuccio again hides
his face in his hands. But Sina does not come. Instead, zia Marta enters shortly
afterward, without her hat, without her gloves, without her cloak, now less
Marta. Here I am. . . Here I am. . .
Micuccio. And . . . and Teresina?
Marta. I've told her, . . I've brought her the news. . . As soon as .
. . as soon as she can get a moment, she'll come. . . In the meantime we'll stay
here a little while, eh? Are you satisfied?
Micuccio. As far as I'm concerned, . .
Marta. I'll keep you company. . .
Micuccio. Oh, no, . . . if . . . if you'd rather . . . that is, if
you're needed there. . .
Marta. . . . Not at all. . . They're having supper now, see? Admirers
of hers. . . The impresario, . . Her career, understand? We two will stay here.
Dorina will prepare this little table for us right away, and . . . and we'll
have supper together, just you and I, here -- eh? What do you say? We two, all
alone -- eh? We'll recall the good old times. . . [Dorina returns through the
door at the left with a tablecloth and other articles of the table service.]
Marta. Come on, Dorina, . . Lively, now. . . For me and for this dear
boy of mine. My dear Micuccio! I can't believe that we're together again.
Dorina. Here. In the meantime, please be seated.
Marta. [Sitting down.] Yes, yes. . . Here, like this, apart
from the others, we two alone, . . In there, you understand, so many people. . .
She, poor thing, can't very well leave them. . . Her career, . . What else can
she do? Have you seen the papers? Wonderful happenings, my boy! And as for me,
I'm all in a whirl, . . It seems impossible that I should be sitting here alone
with you tonight. . . [She rubs her hands and smiles, gazing at him through
Micuccio. [In a pensive, anguished voice.] And, she'll come?
She told you she'd come? I mean . . . just to get a look at her, at least. . .
Marta. Of course she'll come! As soon as she can find a moment to
spare. Didn't I tell you so? Why, just imagine what pleasure it would be for her
to be here with us, with you, after such a long time, . . How many years is it?
So many, so many. . . Ah, my dear boy, it seems an eternity to me. . . How many
things I've been through, things that . . . that hardly seem true when I think
of them, . . Who could have imagined, when . . . when we were yonder in Palma
when you used to come up into our garret, with its swallows' nests in the
rafters, remember? They used to fly all over the house, and my beautiful pots of
basil on the window-sill, . . And donna Annuzza, donna Annuzza? Our old
Micuccio. Eh, . . [Makes the sign of benediction with two fingers,
to signify, Dead!]
Marta. Dead? Yes, I imagined so. . . She was a pretty old lady even
then. . . Older than I. . . Poor donna Annunzza, with her clove of garlic, . .
Do you remember? She'd always come with that pretext, a clove of garlic. Just
when we were about to send her down a bite, and . . . The poor old lady! And who
knows how many more have passed on eh? at Palma, . . Ah! At least they rest
yonder, in their last sleep, in our churchyard, with their beloved ones and
relatives, . . While I. . . Who knows where I'll leave these bones of mine?
Enough of that. . . Away with such thoughts! [Dorina enters with the first
course and stands beside Micuccio, waiting for him to help himself.] Ah,
here's Dorina. . .
Micuccio. [Looks at Dorina, then at zia Marta, confused, perplexed;
he raises his hand to help himself, sees that they are grimy from the journey
and lowers them, more confused than ever.]
Marta. Here, over here, Dorina! I'll serve him, . . Leave it to me. .
. [Does so.] There. . . That's fine, isn't it?
Micuccio. Oh, yes . . . Thanks . .
Marta. [Who has served herself.] Here you are . . .
Micuccio. [Winking, and with his closed fist against his cheek
making a gesture of ecstatic approval.] Uhm . . Good . . . Good stuff.
Marta. A special honor-evening . . . Understand? To it, now! Let's
eat! But first . . . [She makes the sign of the cross.] Here I can do it,
in your company.
Micuccio. [Likewise makes the sign of the cross.]
Marta. Bravo, my boy! You, too . . . Bravo, my Micuccio, the same as
ever, poor fellow! Believe me . . . When I have to eat in there . . . without
being able to cross myself . . . it seems to me that the food can't go down . .
. Eat, eat!
Micuccio. Eh, I'm good and hungry, I am! I . . . I haven't eaten for
Marta. What do you mean? On the trip?
Micuccio. I took plenty to eat along with me . . . I have it there, in
the valise. But . . .
Marta. But what?
Micuccio. I . . . I was ashamed . . . It . . . it seemed so little . .
Marta. Oh, how silly! . . . Come, now. . . Eat, my poor Micuccio, . .
You certainly must be famished! Two days . . . And drink . . . here, drink . . .
[She pours some liquor for him.]
Micuccio. Thanks . . . Yes, I'll have some . . . [From time to
time, as the two waiters enter the salon in the background or leave it with the
courses, opening the door, there comes from inside a wave of confused words rind
outbursts of laughter. Micuccio raises his head from his plate, disturbed, and
looks into the sorrowful affectionate eyes of zia Marta, as if to read in them
an explanation of it all.] They're laughing.
Marta. Yes . . . Drink . . . Drink . . . Ah, that good old wine of
ours, Micuccio. If you only knew how how I long for it! The wine Michela used to
make, Michela, who lived underneath us . . . What's become of Michela, my son?
Micuccio. Michela? Oh, she's fine. She's fine.
Marta. And her daughter Luzza?
Micuccio. She's married . . . Has two children already. . .
Marta. Is that so? Really? She'd always come up to us, remember? Such
a happy nature, too! Oh, Luzza. And to think of it . . . Just to think of it . .
. Married . . . And whom did she marry?
Micuccio. Toto Licasi, the fellow that worked in the customs house.
Marta. Him? Fine . . . And donna Mariangela is a grandmother! A
grandmother already . . . Fortunate woman! Two children, did you say?
Micuccio. Two . . yes . . . [He is disturbed by another roar of
merriment from the salon.]
Marta. Aren't you drinking?
Micuccio. Yes . . . Right away . . .
Marta. Don't mind them . . . They're laughing, naturally . . . There's
so many of them there . . . My dear boy, that's life. What can a person do? Her
career . . . It's the impresario . . .
Dorina. [Reappears with another course.]
Marta. Here, Dorina . . . Let me have your plate, Micuccio . . .
You'll like this . . . [Serving.] Tell me how much you want . . .
Micuccio. As you please. . .
Marta. [As above.] Here you are. [Serves herself. Dorina
Micuccio. How well you've learned! You make my eyes bulge with
Marta. I had to, my boy.
Micuccio. When I saw you come in with that velvet cloak on your back .
. . and that hat on your head . . .
Marta. Necessity, my son!
Micuccio. I understand . . . eh! You must keep up appearances! But if
they ever saw you dressed like that in Palma, zia Marta . . . --, I
Marta. [Hiding her face in her hands.] Oh, good heavens, don't
mention it! Believe me . . . whenever I think of it . . . shame . . . shame
overwhelms me! . . . I look at myself. I say, "Is this really I, so bedizened?"
. . . And it seems that it's all a make-believe . . . as in the carnival season
. . . But what's a person to do? Necessity, my son!
Micuccio. Of course . . . certainly . . . once you get into that life
. . . But, she's really 'way up in the world, hey? . . . You can see that --
really 'way up? . . . They . . . they pay her well, eh?
Marta. Oh, yes . . . Very well, . .
Micuccio. How much per performance?
Marta. It depends. According to the seasons and the theatres, you see.
. . But let me tell you, my boy, it costs money. Ah, how much it costs, this
life we lead, . . It takes all the money we can get! If you only knew the
enormous expenses! It all goes out as fast as it comes in, . . Clothes, jewels,
expenses of every sort. . . [A loud outburst of voices in the salon at the
rear cuts her short.]
Voices. Where? Where? Where? We want to know! Where?
Sina's voice. A moment! I tell you, only a moment!
Marta. There! That's she! . . . Here she comes. . .
Sina. [She comes hastening in, rustling with silk, sparkling with
gems, her shoulders, bosom and arms bare. It seems as if the hallway has
suddenly been flooded with light.]
Micuccio. [Who had just stretched his hand out toward the wine
glass, sits transfixed, his face flaming, his eyes distended, his mouth agape,
dazzled and stupefied, as if in the presence of a vision. He stammers.]
Teresina, . .
Sina. Micuccio? Where are you? Ah, there he is. . . Oh, how are
things? Are you all better now? Fine, fine, . . You were so sick, weren't you?
Oh, I'll see you again soon. . . Mamma will stay with you in the meantime. . .
Agreed, eh? See you later. [Dashes out.]
Micuccio. [Stands amazed, while the reappearance of Sina in the
salon is greeted with loud shouts.]
Marta. [After a long silence, in order to break the stupefaction
into which he has fallen.] Aren't you eating?
Micuccio. [Looks at her stupidly, without understanding.]
Marta. Eat. [pointing to the plate.]
Micuccio. [Inserts two fingers between his neck and his be grimed,
wilted collar, tugging at it as if to make room for a deep breath.] Eat? [His
fingers drum against his chin as if in self-confessed refusal, to signify: "I've
lost my appetite, I can't." For a while he is silent, overwhelmed, absorbed in
the vision that has just left him, then he murmurs:] What she's come to! . .
. It . . . it doesn't seem true. . . All . . . in that style. . . [He refers,
without scorn, but rather in a stupor, to Sina's nudity.] A dream. . . Her
voice, . . Her eyes. . . It's no longer she. . . Teresina, . . [Realizing
that zia Marta is shaking her head sadly, and that she, too, has stopped eating,
as if waiting for him.] Fie! . . . No use thinking about it. . . It's all
over, . . Who knows how long since! . . . And I, fool that I was . . . stupid. .
. They had told me so back in the country . . . and I . . . broke my bones to
get here. . . Thirty-six hours on the train . . . all for the sake of making a
laughing-stock of myself . . . for that waiter and that maid there . . . Dorina,
. . How they laughed! . . . I, and . . . [Several times he brings his
forefingers together, as a symbol of his union with Sina, and smiles in
melancholy fashion, shaking his head.] But what else was I to believe? I
came because you . . . Teresina, had . . . had promised me. . . But perhaps . .
. Yes, that's it . . . How was she herself to imagine that one fine day she'd be
where she is now? While I . . . yonder . . . stayed behind . . . with my piccolo
. . . in the town square. . . She . . . making such strides, . . Lord! . . . No
use thinking of that. . . [He turns, somewhat brusquely, and faces zia Marta.]
If I have done anything for her, nobody zia Marta, must suspect that I
have come to . . . to stay. . . [He grows more and more excited, and jumps to
his feet.] Wait! [He thrusts a hand into his coat pocket and pulls out a
pocketbook.] I came just for this: to give you back the money you sent to
me. Do you want to call it a payment? Restitution? What's the difference! I see
that Teresina has become a . . . a queen! I see that . . . nothing! Let's drop
it! But this money, no! I didn't deserve that from you . . . What's the use!
It's all over, so let's forget it . . . But money? No! Money to me? Nothing
doing! I'm only sorry that the amount isn't complete . . .
Marta. [Trembling, shattered, tears in her eyes.] What are you
saying, my boy? What are you saying?
Micuccio. [Signals her to be quiet.] It wasn't I who spent it.
My parents spent it while I was sick, without my knowledge. But let that make up
for the tiny amount I spent for her in the early days . . . Do you remember?
It's a small matter . . . Let's forget it. Here's the rest. And I'm going.
Marta. What do you mean! So suddenly? Wait at least until I can tell
Teresina. Didn't you hear her say that she wanted to come back? I'll go right
away and tell her . . .
Micuccio. [Holding her back in her seat.] No. It's useless.
Understand? [From the salon comes the sound of a piano and of voices singing
a silly, salacious chorus from a musical comedy, punctuated by outbursts of
laughter.] Let her stay there . . . She's in her element, where she belongs
. . . Poor me . . . I've seen her. That was enough . . . Or rather . . . you
better go there . . . Do you hear them laughing? I don't want them to laugh at
me . . . I'm going . . .
Marta. [Interpreting Micuccio's sudden resolution in the worse
sense, that is, as an attitude of scorn and an access of jealousy.] But I .
. . It's impossible for me to keep watch over her any more, my dear boy . . .
Micuccio. [All at once reading in her eyes the suspicion that he
has not yet formed, his face darkens and he cries out.] Why?
Marta. [Bewildered, she hides her face in her hands but cannot
restrain the rush of tears, as she gasps between sobs.] Yes, yes. Go, my
boy, go . . . She's no longer fit for you. You're right . . . If you had only
taken my advice . . .
Micuccio. [With an outburst, bending over her and tearing one of
her hands from her face.] Then . . . Ah, then she . . . she is no longer
worthy of me! [The chorus and the tones of the piano continue.]
Marta. [Weeping and in anguish, she nods yes, then raises her hands
in prayer, in so supplicating, heartbroken a manner that Micuccio's rage at once
subsides.] For mercy's sake, for mercy's sake! For pity of me, Micuccio
Micuccio. Enough, enough . . . I'm going just the same . . . I'm all
the more determined, now . . . What a fool I was, zia Marta, not to have
understood. All for this . . . all . . . all naked . . . Don't cry . . . What's
to be done about it? It's luck . . . luck . . . [As he speaks, he takes up
his valise and the little bag and starts to leave. It suddenly occurs to him
that inside of the little bag there are the beautiful limes that he had brought
from Sicily for Teresina.] Oh, look, zia Marta, . . Look here . . . [Opens
the bag and supporting it on his arm pours out upon the table the fresh,
Marta. Limes! Our beautiful limes!
Micuccio. I had brought them for her . . . [He takes one.]
Suppose I were to start throwing them at the heads of all those fine gentlemen
Marta. [Again beseeching him.] For mercy's sake!
Micuccio. [With a bitter laugh, thrusting the empty bag into his
pocket.] No, nothing. Don't be afraid. I leave them for you alone, zia
Marta. And tell them I paid the duty on them, too . . . Enough. They're for you
only, remember that. As to her, simply say, for me, "The best of luck to you!"
[He leaves. The chorus continues. zia Marta is left weeping
alone before the table, her face buried in her hands. A long pause, until Sina
Marnis takes it into her head to make another fleeting appearance in the hallway.]
Sina. [Surprised, catching sight of her weeping mother.] Has he
Marta. [Without looking at her, nods yes.]
Sina. [Stares vacantly ahead of her, engrossed, then with a sigh.]
The poor fellow . . .
Marta. Look . . . He had brought you . . . some limes.
Sina. [Her spirits returning.] Oh, how beautiful! Just see . .
. how many! What fragrance! How beautiful, beautiful! [She presses one arm to
her waist and in her other hand seizes as many as she can carry, shouting to the
guests in the salon, who come running in.] Didi! Didi! Rosi! GegŔ! Cornelli!
Marta. [Rising in vehement protest.] No! Not there! I say no!
Sina. [Shrugging her shoulders and offering the fruit to the guests.]
Let me do as I please! Here, Didi! Sicilian limes! Here's some for you, Rosi,
Sicilian limes! Sicilian limes!
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