Two slow years passed

In the group of friends, standing on the corner of the bottle shop, there was unchanging talk of women, of games, of love.

On the opposite sidewalk a young girl passed, with a brisk gait, with something like the glee in her fresh youth, moving the changing wave of her body within her skimpy skirt.

– Who’s that girl? – Asked the Marquis of Sant’Urbino, pointing her out to the group of her friends.

– Bellina! Said Cesare Farra, who loved the immature first fruits of every fruit.

– It looks like a small wasp! – Lanzo Malatesta commented, handling his mace like a saber for celia, from that habit he had as a celiator and a fencer.

Totò Rígoli took a few steps off the sidewalk to see her better.

– To ‘! … if I’m not mistaken, it must be the virgin who is about to fall with Rafa Giuliani. I’ve only seen it once, but I recognize it. It’s a love!

Already far away. Of her one could clearly see nothing more than her beautiful hair, of a fluffy blond color.

Sacco Berni made a face; sometimes he liked to proverb; he said:

– Narrow passage, you pay the toll.

“But Rafa is very rich,” Giorgino Prémoli noted. – Rafa doesn’t mind these trifles.

– Then it must be cooked in love! – Franco Spada went on. – Break everyone’s eardrums with his confidences. I didn’t know it was for that one. Graceful. But she seems to me a little badly dressed. What is she doing? The tailor?

“She must be an honest girl, but the daughter of a cuckold,” he ruled [126]the Rígoli. – Because her legitimate fathers never manage to make her so pretty. Do you think so? How much then to dress it with elegance will provide the good Rafa … Here it is! And see how it runs!

The Giuliani passed on the other sidewalk, walking quickly. They called him, but he didn’t answer.

– Run, run, you’re late! Sacco Berni shouted after him. – It’s just over now.

– I am afraid of virgins, – said Giannotto Pigna gravely – because they often attack syphilis …

At that time the marquise of Versano passed, in her open carriage, with the pair of the sorrel and the gray, two superb trotters. Many took off their hats, bowing deeply.

“The abortion didn’t hurt her,” observed Rigoli. – She recovered very quickly. But the Commendatore certainly had a great fear …

Some, since they were friends of the house, refrained from laughing.

– Totò, do you know Rafa’s virgin?

– Not me.

– Then how do you know she is an honest girl?

– Rafa told me.

Count Anatoli arrived in a new suit, which suited him very badly. He was famous for his ridiculous elegance. Many made fun of him, which basically flattered him.

“It’s a wasp, but it’s pretty,” Lanzo retorted, who couldn’t get out of his head. And he asked Pigna, I use to guard that corner for long hours:

– Do you spend every day here?

– Almost never.

Del Ferrante had won thirty thousand lire at the Club the night before. When he arrived he was very complimented and they made him tell the details of the good game. But at that point Tita Borsani, who had modestly given herself the name of Tita La Vallière to meow in variety theaters, got out of the car. She had, some time ago, had a whim for del Ferrante, and as soon as she saw him, as he had to pass between the crowd, she took him by the arm and said with a certain ostentation:

[127]
– Come and buy me a cup of tea.

Del Ferrante, with the air of a man who obeyed reluctantly, accompanied him into the room. Many others followed them.

– Is that how you keep your promises? Miss La Vallière said to Arrigo as soon as they were seated. – I waited for you yesterday and the day before yesterday. Waited in a manner of speaking: that is, I stayed at home.

– Little Tita, you know well I said: maybe …

– Why are you calling me you, sorry? She interrupted impertinently.

– And you?

– Ah okay!

– Have you stopped being drunk? – one said, approaching.

– Fool! She sent back with a nice laugh. – Do you think I drank last night?

– If you like? I put you in a heavy carriage to take you home, and if you had come all the way up, I swear you wouldn’t have even noticed!

– Oh, you, it seems that it is very difficult “to notice …” – she laughed.

The other said nothing, but it seemed that the celia did not please him at all.

– So you started drinking? Arrigo asked her as soon as he had gone away.

– But no! They forced me to drink last night. That terrible Mumm … Come on, pour me some tea. Why are you looking at me? What do you think?

– I think, dear Tita, – he said affectionately, – that we almost loved each other once, and that saddens me, because I always feel a great melancholy thinking about the things that have passed, about the things that cannot …

– … come back for more! – She said, serious, in smiling.

– I meant: that I can’t always go on.

– Do you have some feeling now? Asked Rígoli, who had sat down at the nearby table.

– Yes, to laugh … and also to make you laugh! Tita exclaimed with a fit of glee. But her big black eyes, tarnished with black, a little silly perhaps in their beauty, could not conceal a certain restlessness, a certain almost timid sensitivity, in looking at the young man from the gaze. [128]velvety, with a sour mouth, which was now pouring her steaming tea and seemed to regard her as a little plaything.

“We don’t see you anymore,” she said to Ferrante in a low voice. – What are you doing?

– A lot of things. Then, with a vague gesture, he repeated: “Many things.”

She looked at him carefully:

– You became a poser.

– Those two make up for it! – then announced one of the neighbors, who had heard. – You are very boring!

– You know that unfortunately – admitted Tita laughing – I have always had a fondness for Arrigo.

“This does not concern us,” Sacco Berni retorted. – After all, Arrigo is not free and you waste your time. I am, on the other hand, very free, if you want.

– You? … No, thanks! You are a prosaic man, foul-mouthed and full of vices. To fall in love with women you always need a little poetry.

She dipped a biscuit in tea, grabbing it quickly with her lips, so that it wouldn’t break.

“Besides,” he continued, “if he’s not free, what does it matter to me?” I don’t ask him anything. On the contrary, I told him that he has become a poser.

Malatesta arrived, with his hat thrown back, his insolent spectacle, clutching the flexible club, which he was spinning, between his fingers. He said to Arrigo:

– You, who know everything about women, would you by chance be able to tell me who is the girl to whom Rafa Giuliani runs after? She came by a little while ago: I like it.

“I haven’t seen her,” replied Arrigo. – I don’t know anything about anything.

“If Rafa runs after her, I advise you to leave her alone,” observed Tita, full of common sense. – Rafa is too rich.

– Here is the venal woman! Exclaimed Malatesta with a gay laugh.

It was a sunny autumn; in the parks and gardens where the little wasp went all the leaves had not yet fallen.