“Ah! Cecco, Cecco! cried the little girl, pausing as she beat her tambourine, “here’s a stranger who has no grapes; bring them here!”
“But,” said Lucy, “aren’t they your mamma’s grapes; may you give them away?”
“Ah, ah! ’tis the vendemmia! all may eat grapes; as much as they will. See, there’s the vineyard.”
Lucy saw on the slope of the hill above the cottage long poles such as hops grow upon, and clusters hanging down. Men in shady, battered hats, bright sashes and braces, and white shirt sleeves, and women with handkerchiefs folded square over their heads, were cutting the grapes down, and piling them up in baskets; and a low cart drawn by two mouse-colored oxen, with enormous wide horns and gentle-looking eyes, was waiting to be loaded with baskets.
“To the wine-press! to the press!” shouted the children, who were politeness itself and wanted to show her everything.
The wine-press was a great marble trough with pipes leading off into other vessels around. Into it went the grapes, and in the midst were men and boys and little children, all with bare feet and legs up to the knees, dancing and leaping, and bounding and skipping upon the grapes, while the red juice covered their brown skins.
“Come in, come in; you don’t know how charming it is!” cried Cecco. “It is the best time of all the year, the dear vintage; come in and tread the grapes.”
“But you must take off your shoes and stockings,” said his sister, Nunziata; “we never wear them but on Sundays and holidays.”
Lucy was not sure that she might, but the children looked so joyous, and it seemed to be such fun, that she began fumbling with the buttons of her boots, and while she was doing it she opened her eyes, and found that her beautiful bunch of grapes was only the cushion in the bottom of Mother Bunch’s chair.
“Now suppose I tried what the very cold countries are like!”
And Lucy bent over the globe till she was nearly ready to cut her head off with the brass meridian, as she looked at the long, jagged tongue, with no particular top to it, hanging down on the east side of America. Perhaps it was the making herself so cold that did it, but she found herself in the midst of snow, snow, snow! All was snow except the sea, and that was a deep green, and in it were monstrous, floating white things, pinnacled all over like a Cathedral, and as big, and with hollows in them of glorious deep blue and green, like jewels; Lucy knew they were icebergs. A sort of fringe of these cliffs of ice hemmed in the shore. And on one of them stood what she thought at first was a little brown bear, for the light was odd, the sun was so very low down, and there was so much glare from the snow that it seemed unnatural. However, before she had time to be afraid of the bear, she saw that it was really a little boy, with a hood and coat and leggings of thick, thick fur, and a spear in his hand, with which he every now and then made a dash at a fish,—great cod fish, such as Mamma had often on a Friday.