Ilka on the Hill-Top and Other Stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 161 pages of information about Ilka on the Hill-Top and Other Stories.

Cranbrook, who had made several vain attempts to call attention to his presence, now rose and through the window re-entered his room.  The snatch of the conversation which he had overheard had made him uneasy and had spoiled his happy Homeric mood.  He was only too willing to put the most flattering construction upon Annunciata’s solicitude for his fate in the hereafter, but he had to admit to himself, that there was something in her tone and in the frank directness of her manner which precluded such an interpretation.  He had floated along, as it were, in a state of delicious semi-consciousness during the six weeks since he first entered this house.  He had established himself firmly, as he believed, in the favor of every member of the family, from Antonio himself to the two-year-old baby, Babetta, who spent her days contentedly in running from one end to the other of a large marble sarcophagus, situated under a tall stone pine, a dozen steps from the house.  Monna Nina could then keep watch over her from the window while at work, and the high, sculptured sides of the sarcophagus prevented Babetta from indulging her propensity for running away.  Pietro, a picturesque vagabond of twelve, who sold patriotic match-boxes with the portraits of Garibaldi and Vittorio Emanuele, had been bribed into the stanchest partisanship for the foreigner by a ticket to the monkey theatre in the Piazza delle Terme, and had excited his sister’s curiosity to a painful pitch by his vivid descriptions of the wonderful performance he had witnessed.  Antonio, who was a quiet and laborious man, listened with devout attention to Cranbrook’s accounts of the foreign countries he had visited, while Monna Nina sometimes betrayed an invincible scepticism regarding facts which belonged to the A B C of transatlantic existence, and unhesitatingly acquiesced in statements which to an Italian mind might be supposed to border on the miraculous.  She would not believe, for instance, that hot and cold water could be conducted through pipes to the fifth and sixth story of a house and drawn ad libitum by the turning of a crank; but her lodger’s descriptions of the travelling palaces in which you slept and had your dinner prepared while speeding at a furious rate across the continent, were listened to with the liveliest interest and without the slightest misgiving.  She had, moreover, well-settled convictions of her own concerning a number of things which lay beyond Cranbrook’s horizon.  She had a great dread of the evil eye and knew exactly what remedies to apply in order to counteract its direful effects; she wore around her neck a charm which had been blessed by the pope and which was a sure preventive of rheumatism; and under the ceiling of her kitchen were suspended bunches of medicinal herbs which had all been gathered during the new moon and which, in certain decoctions, were warranted to cure nearly all the ailments to which flesh is heir.

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Ilka on the Hill-Top and Other Stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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