When Sanin, an hour and a half later, returned to the Rosellis’ shop he was received there like one of the family. Emilio was sitting on the same sofa, on which he had been rubbed; the doctor had prescribed him medicine and recommended ‘great discretion in avoiding strong emotions’ as being a subject of nervous temperament with a tendency to weakness of the heart. He had previously been liable to fainting-fits; but never had he lost consciousness so completely and for so long. However, the doctor declared that all danger was over. Emil, as was only suitable for an invalid, was dressed in a comfortable dressing-gown; his mother wound a blue woollen wrap round his neck; but he had a cheerful, almost a festive air; indeed everything had a festive air. Before the sofa, on a round table, covered with a clean cloth, towered a huge china coffee-pot, filled with fragrant chocolate, and encircled by cups, decanters of liqueur, biscuits and rolls, and even flowers; six slender wax candles were burning in two old-fashioned silver chandeliers; on one side of the sofa, a comfortable lounge-chair offered its soft embraces, and in this chair they made Sanin sit. All the inhabitants of the confectioner’s shop, with whom he had made acquaintance that day, were present, not excluding the poodle, Tartaglia, and the cat; they all seemed happy beyond expression; the poodle positively sneezed with delight, only the cat was coy and blinked sleepily as before. They made Sanin tell them who he was, where he came from, and what was his name; when he said he was a Russian, both the ladies were a little surprised, uttered ejaculations of wonder, and declared with one voice that he spoke German splendidly; but if he preferred to speak French, he might make use of that language, as they both understood it and spoke it well. Sanin at once availed himself of this suggestion. ‘Sanin! Sanin!’ The ladies would never have expected that a Russian surname could be so easy to pronounce. His Christian name —‘Dimitri’— they liked very much too. The elder lady observed that in her youth she had heard a fine opera — Demetrio e Polibio’— but that ‘Dimitri’ was much nicer than ‘Demetrio.’ In this way Sanin talked for about an hour. The ladies on their side initiated him into all the details of their own life. The talking was mostly done by the mother, the lady with grey hair. Sanin learnt from her that her name was Leonora Roselli; that she had lost her husband, Giovanni Battista Roselli, who had settled in Frankfort as a confectioner twenty — five years ago; that Giovanni Battista had come from Vicenza and had been a most excellent, though fiery and irascible man, and a republican withal! At those words Signora Roselli pointed to his portrait, painted in oil-colours, and hanging over the sofa. It must be presumed that the painter, ‘also a republican!’ as Signora Roselli observed with a sigh, had not fully succeeded in catching a likeness, for in his portrait the late Giovanni Battista appeared as a morose and gloomy brigand, after the style of Rinaldo Rinaldini! Signora Roselli herself had come from ‘the ancient and splendid city of Parma where there is the wonderful cupola, painted by the immortal Correggio!’ But from her long residence in Germany she had become almost completely Germanised. Then she added, mournfully shaking her head, that all she had left was this daughter and this son (pointing to each in turn with her finger); that the daughter’s name was Gemma, and the son’s Emilio; that they were both very good and obedient children — especially Emilio . . . (‘Me not obedient!’ her daughter put in at that point. ‘Oh, you’re a republican, too!’ answered her mother). That the business, of course, was not what it had been in the days of her husband, who had a great gift for the confectionery line . . . (‘Un grand uomo!’ Pantaleone confirmed with a severe air); but that still, thank God, they managed to get along!
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01