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within.]

Voices.

Here he is. How handsome! What a dear! Just
see him smile!

[Maria Lodoli withdraws to the rear, pale and
excited. Anna enters, triumphantly hearing
aloft in her arms a little fellow not much more
than two years old, wrapped in a cover: it is
the little sparrow.]

Anna.

[To Graziani.]

Lieutenant, we simply couldn't resist the tempta-
tion. We wanted so much to see him. He was awake.



The Sparrow 157

We took him in. A biscuit for the httle fellow? May
we give him a biscuit? Yes? [Then, looking about.]
And Madame Lodoli?

[Maria Lodoli has disappeared.]



CURTAIN.



LUIGI PIRANDELLO

(1867-

Luigi Pirandello was born on June 28, 1867 at
Girgenti; Sicily. After a thorough education in
Italy he went to the University of Bonn, where he
was graduated in philosophy and philology. His
subsequent career has been devoted to professorship,
but has permitted him enough leisure in which to
produce a veritable library of books, covering a wide
range and revealing a fine quality.

From poetry he progressed to the novel, to criti-
cism, to the theatre. Indeed, his novel "II Fu
Mattia Pascal" (19C4), which has been translated
into French and German, is one of the most original
Italian books of the twentieth century and was
responsible for his stepping beyond the national
frontier. It is written in a witty, fluent, Boccac-
cesque style, in which the author reveals his charac-
teristic capability of treating humorously situations
of underlying seriousness. In his fiction he has been
called a " gay pessimist" — a sobriquet that seems to
match his paradoxical style with a corresponding
paradox; his pessimism, however, is found not to be
the Anglo-Saxon type, for underneath it seems to
flow a current of faith. The man's writings are
really topsy-turvy, compounded of cynicism jostling
against sentimentality, Christian self-abnegation

IS9



i6o Luigi Pirandello

rubbing elbows with anarchic denial. Pirandello is an
"intellectual. " One suspects in him the man whose
emotions and intellect never have reached a state of
stable equilibrium; now one, now the other, is upper-
most, with a resultant kaleidoscope of many-colored
notions, ideas, feehngs, reactions.

He has been credited with having brought to the
stage his own pecuKar humorism, upon wliich, by the
way, he has written a tightly packed volume, and
he is no small asset to the "grotesque'^ movement.
An American critic has written that his work for the
theatre lacks the " modern '^ tinge, yet he is pecu-
Uarly a symptom of modernity struggling to accli-
mate itself upon the Italian ^'boards." He is no
stranger to the plays of Ibsen, Shaw, Bracco. And
if he began with the bitter-sweet Httle piece by wliich
he is represented in tliis collection, he has since done
things that single him out for sheer daring and
originality. Among his numerous plays perhaps
''Cosi e (se vi pare) — It's So, If You Think It is —
best shows him in his puzzling, paradoxical mood,
even as "Se non cosi" (If Not Thus) gives his best
measure as a dramatist of social change. The first
of these is a swiftly mo\dng three-act comedy
designed to suggest, as the title hints, that the truth
is hardly so easy to grasp as some would imagine.
Perhaps there is more than one truth; perhaps when
people contradict each other they are both right; is
there such a thing as truth at all? Is Truth a Delphic
oracle? And what a strange, silly sight we present
chasing after it mth more of the inquisitive gossip in



Luigi Pirandello i6i

us than that of the sober searcher after any real good !
The action is, up to the somewhat disconcerting
close, quite breathless, and the story is followed with
amused bepuzzlement. The second of the plays
presents a strange twist to the eternal triangle, in
which the child begotten by the erring husband and
his mistress is the crux of the situation. For, curi-
ously enough, the wronged wife wishes to bring up
the child as her own; but so does the real mother,
who is willing enough to have the husband return to
the hearth whence he strayed. Admitting the
plausability of the wife's views, the play is strong,
dignified and moving. There is Httle drama in the
conventional sense, despite some affecting scenes in
the second and third acts. The action lies mainly in
the working out of the wife's views and the dialogue
that arises from the exposition of them.

Pirandello, like most of the leading Italians, writes
too much. His best, however, is so plainly expressive
of a decidedly arresting personality that it will
remain as one of the traits of contemporary Italian
belles-lettres.



PERSONS

Micuccio BoNAViNO, musician in a country hand,

Marta Marnis, mother of

SiNA Marnis, singer,

Ferdinando, waiter,

Dorina, maid.

Guests.

Waiters.

Time: The present. Place: A city in Northern
Italy.



SICILIAN LIMES

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 curtain.

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 folloioed 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?

163



164 Sicilian Limes

Ferdinando.

[Placing the light upon the little table.]

Hey, Dorina! Get up! Can't you see that we
have Signer 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?



Sicilian Limes 165

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 hour.

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.



i66 Sicilian Limes

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.

[Smiling 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 on tonight!

Micuccio.

So? What party?



Sicilian Limes 167

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 . . .



i68 Sicilian Limes

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 we stay.

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?



Sicilian Limes 169

Micuccio.

[Rubbing his hands contentedly.]
Then it's true !

DORINA.

What?

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



e « •



I70 Sicilian Limes

DORINA.

Yes, yes. Bonavino. But . . . Domenico. Your
name's Domenico, isn't it?

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 . . .



Sicilian Limes 171

Ferdinando.
[Passing through the hallway, from the door at
the left, carrying kitchen utensils and shouting
applause.]

Bravo! Bravo! Bis! Bis! 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 her voice.

Micuccio.
I'm a musician, I am.

Ferdinando.

Ah! A musician? Bravo! And what do you play?
The trumpet?



172 Sicilian Limes

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 shoulders.]
How I did it? She used to sing . . .

DORINA.

And at once, you being a musician . . . eh?

Micuccio.
No . . . not at once; on the other hand . . .

Ferdinando.
It took you some time?



Sicilian Limes 173

Micuccio.

She always used to be singing . . . sometimes out
of pique. . .

DORINA.

Really?

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?



174 Sicilian Limes

Micuccio.

My parents were against it! And that's why
Teresina sang out of spite. . .

DORINA.

Ah! Just Usten 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 !

Ferdinando.

Understand?

DORINA.

Hush!

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.



Sicilian Limes 17S

DORINA.

Little air?

Micuccio.

Yes. ^' All things in this world beloWo " That's the

name of it.

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



176 Sicilian Limes

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 grateful-
ness. Zia Marta, on the other hand, poor woman
that she was . . .



Sicilian Limes 177

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 remem-
ber 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.



You?



Yes, I.— I.



Ferdinando.
Micuccio.

DORINA.



[To Ferdinando.]
At his expense, don't you understand?



178



Sicilian Limes



^



Micuccio.

I kept her there for four years, studying. I haven't
seen her since then.

DORINA.

Never?

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!
^h, I know all about it! I've got them all here,
in the valise, all the papers. . . And in here [he
removed from Ms 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."

Ferdina-Ndo
And did she send you much?

DORINA.

A thousand lire — wasn't it?

Micuccio.
That was it. A thousand.



Sicilian Limes 179

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 herseli . .

Ferdinando.
I should say! And what a place, my dear sir!

Micuccio.
Then it's time . . .

Dorina.
To marry?

Micuccio.
I am here.



i8o Sicilian Limes

Ferdinando.
Have you come to marry Sina Marnis?

DORINA.

Hush! That's their agreement! Can't you under-
stand 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 Bona-
vino, 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?



Sicilian Limes i8i

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. . .



i82 Sicilian Limes

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!



Sicilian Limes 183

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 scullion leave.]

Ferdinando.
My dress coat. . . Where did I put it?

DORINA.

There! [She points to behind the hangings and
leaves in haste.]

[Miaucdo 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 dejec-
tion, confused, oppressed by an uneasy
presentiment.]

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



184 Sicilian Limes



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 together, 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.]



Sicilian Limes 185

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. . .


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Online LibraryIsaac GoldbergPlays of the Italian theatre → online text (page 7 of 8)