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Plays of the Italian theatre online

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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. . .

I know.


Her special evening, understand? Wait. . . Just
wait here a moment. . .

i86 Sicilian Limes


If you, if you think that it would be best for me
to go. . .


No. Wait a moment, I say. . . [She goes off
toward the salon.]


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 J 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 burdened.]

Here I am. . . Here I am. . .

And . . . and Teresina?


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?

Sicilian Limes 187

As far as I'm concerned. . .

Makta. :
I'll keep you company. . .


Oh, no, , . . if . . . if you'd rather . . . that
is, if you're needed there. . .


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.]


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.

Here. In the meantime, please be seated.


[Sitting down.]

Yes, yes. . . Here, like this, aparf from the others,

we two alone. . . In there, you understand, so

many people. . . She, poor thing, can't very well

i88 Sicilian Limes

leave them. . . Her career. . . What else can sh(
do? Have you seen the papers? Wonderful happen
ings, my boy! And as for me, I'm all in a whirl. .
It seems impossible that I should be sitting here alon<
with you tonight. . . [She ruhs her hands and smiles
gazing at him through tender eyes.]


[In a pensive^ anguished voice.

And, she'll come? She told you she'd come?
mean . . . just to get a look at her, at least. . .


Of course she'll come! As soon as she can find
moment to spare. Didn't I tell you so? Why, jus
imagine what pleasure it would be for her to be her
with us, with you, after such a long time. . . Ho)
many years is it? So many, so many. . . Ah, m;
dear boy, it seems an eternity to me. . . How man;
things I've been through, things that . . . that hardl
seem true when I think of them. . . Who could hav
imagined, when . . . when we were yonder in Palm
when you used to come up into our garret, with it
swallows' nests in the rafters, remember? The
used to fly all over the house, and my beautifu
pots of basil on the window-sill. . . And donn
Annuzza, donna Annuzza? Our old neighbor?

Eh. . . [Makes the sign of benediction with tw
fingers, to signify, Dead!]

Sicilian Limes 189


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
bfeloved 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. . .


[Loohs 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.]


Here, over here, Dorina ! I'll serve him. . . Leave
it to me. . . [Does so.] There. . . That's fine, isn't


Oh, yes . . . Thanks .


[Who has served herself.]
Here you are . . .

190 Sicilian Limes


[Winking, and with his closed fist against his

cheek making a gesture of ecstatic approval.]

Uhm . . . Good . . . Good stuff.


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.

[Likewise makes the sign of the cross.]


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!


Eh, I'm good and hungry, I am! I ... I haven^t
eaten for two days.


What do you mean? On the trip?


I took plenty to eat along with me ... I have it
there, in the valise. But . . .


But what?

Sicilian Limes 191


I ... I was ashamed ... It ... it seemed so

little . . .


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.]

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 and
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.


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?

Michela? Oh, she's fine. She's fine.

192 Sicilian Limes

And her daughter Luzza?

She's married . . . Has two children already. .. .


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?

Toto Licasi, the fellow that worked in the customs
house. Remember him?

Him? Fine . . . And donna Mariangela is a
grandmother! A grandmother already . . . Fortu-
nate woman! Two children, did you say?

Two . . yes . . . [He is disturbed by another
roar of merriment from the salon.]


Aren't yoM drinking?

Yes . . . Right away . . .

Don't mind them . . . They're laughing, natur-
ally . . . There's so many of them there . . . My

Sicilian Limes 193

dear boy, that's life. What can a person do? Her
career . . . It's the impresario ...


[Reappears with another course.]


Here, Dorina . . . Let me have your plate,
Micuccio . . . You'll like this . . . [Serving.] Tell
me how much you want . . .

As you please. . .


[As above.]

Here you are. [Serves herself. Dorina leaves.]

How well you've learned! You make my eyes
bulge with astonishment !

I had to, my boy.

When I saw you come in with that velvet cloak
on your back . . . and that hat on your head . . .


Necessity, my son!


I understand ... eh! You must keep up
appearances! But if they ever saw you dressed like
that in Palma, zia Marta . . .

194 Sicilian Limes


[Hiding her face in her hands.]

Oh, good heavens, don't mention it! Beheve
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!


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?

Oh, yes . . . Very well. . .

How much per performance?


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.]

Sicilian Limes 195


Where? Where? Where? We want to know!

Sina's Voice.

A moment ! I tell you, only a moment !

There! That's she! . . . Here she comes. . «


[She comes hastening in, rustling with silk,
sparkling ivith gems, her shoulders, bosom
and anns hare. It seems as if the hallway
has suddenly been flooded with light.]


[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. . .


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.]


[Stands amazed, while the reappearance of Sina
in the salon is greeted with loud shouts.]

196 Sicilian Limes


[After a long silence, in order to break the stupe-
faction into which he has fallen.]

Aren't you eating?


[Looks at her stupidly, without understanding.]


Eat. [pointing to the plate.]


[Inserts two fingers between his neck and his
begrimed, wilted collar, tugging at it as if to
make room for a deep breath.]

Eat? [His fingers druin against his chin as if in
self-confessed refusal, to signify: " Fve lost my appe-
tite, I canH.'^ 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. . . [Real-
izing 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-

Sicilian Limes 197

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 per-
haps . . . 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 think-
ing 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? Resti-
tut^"on? 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 . . .

[Trembling, shattered, tears in her eyes.]
What are you saying, my boy? What are you

198 Sicilian Limes


[Signals her to he 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.


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 . . .


[Holding her bach 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 . . .


[Interpreting Micuccio's sudden resolution in
the worse sense, that is, as an attitude of
scorn and an access of jealousy.]

Sicilian Limes 199

But I . . . It's impossible for me to keep watch
over her any more, my dear boy . . .


[All at once reading in her eyes the suspicion
that he has not yet formed, his face darkens
and he cries out.]



[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 . . .

[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

[Weeping and in anguish, she nods yes, then
raises her hands in prayer, in so supplicat-
ing, heartbroken a manner that Micuccio's
rage at once subsides.]
For mercy's sake, for mercy's sake! For pity of
me, Micuccio mine!

200 Sicilian Limes


Enough, enough . . . Fm going just the same . . .
I'm all the more determined, now . . . What a fool
1 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, fragrant fruit.]

Limes! Our beautiful limes!


I had brought them for her . . . [He takes one.]
Suppose I were to start throwing them at the heads
of all those fine gentlemen in there?


[Again beseeching him.]
For mercy's sake!


[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,

Sicilian Limes 201

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


[Surprised, catching sight of her weeping

Has he gone?


[Without looking at her, nods yes.]


[Stares vacantly ahead of her, engrossed, then
with a sigh.]

The poor fellow . . .

Look . . .'He had brought you . . . some limes.


[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! Geg^! Cornein! Tarini! Didi!

202 Sicilian Limes

[Rising in vehement protest.]
No! Not there! I say no! Not there!


[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


*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.


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