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Chapter 3

  • It might have been said that there he was only protecting his own. From th_irst he had been admitted to live in the intimacy of the family of the hotel-
  • keeper who was a countryman of his. Old Giorgio Viola, a Genoese with a shagg_hite leonine head—often called simply "the Garibaldino" (as Mohammedans ar_alled after their prophet)—was, to use Captain Mitchell's own words, the
  • "respectable married friend" by whose advice Nostromo had left his ship to tr_or a run of shore luck in Costaguana.
  • The old man, full of scorn for the populace, as your austere republican s_ften is, had disregarded the preliminary sounds of trouble. He went on tha_ay as usual pottering about the "casa" in his slippers, muttering angrily t_imself his contempt of the non-political nature of the riot, and shruggin_is shoulders. In the end he was taken unawares by the out-rush of the rabble.
  • It was too late then to remove his family, and, indeed, where could he hav_un to with the portly Signora Teresa and two little girls on that grea_lain? So, barricading every opening, the old man sat down sternly in th_iddle of the darkened cafe with an old shot-gun on his knees. His wife sat o_nother chair by his side, muttering pious invocations to all the saints o_he calendar.
  • The old republican did not believe in saints, or in prayers, or in what h_alled "priest's religion." Liberty and Garibaldi were his divinities; but h_olerated "superstition" in women, preserving in these matters a lofty an_ilent attitude.
  • His two girls, the eldest fourteen, and the other two years younger, crouche_n the sanded floor, on each side of the Signora Teresa, with their heads o_heir mother's lap, both scared, but each in her own way, the dark-haire_inda indignant and angry, the fair Giselle, the younger, bewildered an_esigned. The Patrona removed her arms, which embraced her daughters, for _oment to cross herself and wring her hands hurriedly. She moaned a littl_ouder.
  • "Oh! Gian' Battista, why art thou not here? Oh! why art thou not here?"
  • She was not then invoking the saint himself, but calling upon Nostromo, whos_atron he was. And Giorgio, motionless on the chair by her side, would b_rovoked by these reproachful and distracted appeals.
  • "Peace, woman! Where's the sense of it? There's his duty," he murmured in th_ark; and she would retort, panting—
  • "Eh! I have no patience. Duty! What of the woman who has been like a mother t_im? I bent my knee to him this morning; don't you go out, Gian' Battista—sto_n the house, Battistino—look at those two little innocent children!"
  • Mrs. Viola was an Italian, too, a native of Spezzia, and though considerabl_ounger than her husband, already middle-aged. She had a handsome face, whos_omplexion had turned yellow because the climate of Sulaco did not suit her a_ll. Her voice was a rich contralto. When, with her arms folded tight unde_er ample bosom, she scolded the squat, thick-legged China girls handlin_inen, plucking fowls, pounding corn in wooden mortars amongst the mu_utbuildings at the back of the house, she could bring out such a_mpassioned, vibrating, sepulchral note that the chained watch-dog bolted int_is kennel with a great rattle. Luis, a cinnamon-coloured mulatto with _prouting moustache and thick, dark lips, would stop sweeping the cafe with _room of palm-leaves to let a gentle shudder run down his spine. Hi_anguishing almond eyes would remain closed for a long time.
  • This was the staff of the Casa Viola, but all these people had fled early tha_orning at the first sounds of the riot, preferring to hide on the plai_ather than trust themselves in the house; a preference for which they were i_o way to blame, since, whether true or not, it was generally believed in th_own that the Garibaldino had some money buried under the clay floor of th_itchen. The dog, an irritable, shaggy brute, barked violently and whine_laintively in turns at the back, running in and out of his kennel as rage o_ear prompted him.
  • Bursts of great shouting rose and died away, like wild gusts of wind on th_lain round the barricaded house; the fitful popping of shots grew loude_bove the yelling. Sometimes there were intervals of unaccountable stillnes_utside, and nothing could have been more gaily peaceful than the narro_right lines of sunlight from the cracks in the shutters, ruled straigh_cross the cafe over the disarranged chairs and tables to the wall opposite.
  • Old Giorgio had chosen that bare, whitewashed room for a retreat. It had onl_ne window, and its only door swung out upon the track of thick dust fenced b_loe hedges between the harbour and the town, where clumsy carts used to crea_long behind slow yokes of oxen guided by boys on horseback.
  • In a pause of stillness Giorgio cocked his gun. The ominous sound wrung a lo_oan from the rigid figure of the woman sitting by his side. A sudden outbrea_f defiant yelling quite near the house sank all at once to a confused murmu_f growls. Somebody ran along; the loud catching of his breath was heard fo_n instant passing the door; there were hoarse mutters and footsteps near th_all; a shoulder rubbed against the shutter, effacing the bright lines o_unshine pencilled across the whole breadth of the room. Signora Teresa's arm_hrown about the kneeling forms of her daughters embraced them closer with _onvulsive pressure.
  • The mob, driven away from the Custom House, had broken up into several bands,
  • retreating across the plain in the direction of the town. The subdued crash o_rregular volleys fired in the distance was answered by faint yells far away.
  • In the intervals the single shots rang feebly, and the low, long, whit_uilding blinded in every window seemed to be the centre of a turmoil widenin_n a great circle about its closed-up silence. But the cautious movements an_hispers of a routed party seeking a momentary shelter behind the wall mad_he darkness of the room, striped by threads of quiet sunlight, alight wit_vil, stealthy sounds. The Violas had them in their ears as though invisibl_hosts hovering about their chairs had consulted in mutters as to th_dvisability of setting fire to this foreigner's casa.
  • It was trying to the nerves. Old Viola had risen slowly, gun in hand,
  • irresolute, for he did not see how he could prevent them. Already voices coul_e heard talking at the back. Signora Teresa was beside herself with terror.
  • "Ah! the traitor! the traitor!" she mumbled, almost inaudibly. "Now we ar_oing to be burnt; and I bent my knee to him. No! he must run at the heels o_is English."
  • She seemed to think that Nostromo's mere presence in the house would have mad_t perfectly safe. So far, she, too, was under the spell of that reputatio_he Capataz de Cargadores had made for himself by the waterside, along th_ailway line, with the English and with the populace of Sulaco. To his face,
  • and even against her husband, she invariably affected to laugh it to scorn,
  • sometimes good-naturedly, more often with a curious bitterness. But then wome_re unreasonable in their opinions, as Giorgio used to remark calmly o_itting occasions. On this occasion, with his gun held at ready before him, h_tooped down to his wife's head, and, keeping his eyes steadfastly on th_arricaded door, he breathed out into her ear that Nostromo would have bee_owerless to help. What could two men shut up in a house do against twenty o_ore bent upon setting fire to the roof? Gian' Battista was thinking of th_asa all the time, he was sure.
  • "He think of the casa! He!" gasped Signora Viola, crazily. She struck he_reast with her open hands. "I know him. He thinks of nobody but himself."
  • A discharge of firearms near by made her throw her head back and close he_yes. Old Giorgio set his teeth hard under his white moustache, and his eye_egan to roll fiercely. Several bullets struck the end of the wall together;
  • pieces of plaster could be heard falling outside; a voice screamed "Here the_ome!" and after a moment of uneasy silence there was a rush of running fee_long the front.
  • Then the tension of old Giorgio's attitude relaxed, and a smile o_ontemptuous relief came upon his lips of an old fighter with a leonine face.
  • These were not a people striving for justice, but thieves. Even to defend hi_ife against them was a sort of degradation for a man who had been one o_aribaldi's immortal thousand in the conquest of Sicily. He had an immens_corn for this outbreak of scoundrels and leperos, who did not know th_eaning of the word "liberty."
  • He grounded his old gun, and, turning his head, glanced at the coloure_ithograph of Garibaldi in a black frame on the white wall; a thread of stron_unshine cut it perpendicularly. His eyes, accustomed to the luminou_wilight, made out the high colouring of the face, the red of the shirt, th_utlines of the square shoulders, the black patch of the Bersagliere hat wit_ock's feathers curling over the crown. An immortal hero! This was you_iberty; it gave you not only life, but immortality as well!
  • For that one man his fanaticism had suffered no diminution. In the moment o_elief from the apprehension of the greatest danger, perhaps, his family ha_een exposed to in all their wanderings, he had turned to the picture of hi_ld chief, first and only, then laid his hand on his wife's shoulder.
  • The children kneeling on the floor had not moved. Signora Teresa opened he_yes a little, as though he had awakened her from a very deep and dreamles_lumber. Before he had time in his deliberate way to say a reassuring word sh_umped up, with the children clinging to her, one on each side, gasped fo_reath, and let out a hoarse shriek.
  • It was simultaneous with the bang of a violent blow struck on the outside o_he shutter. They could hear suddenly the snorting of a horse, the restiv_ramping of hoofs on the narrow, hard path in front of the house; the toe of _oot struck at the shutter again; a spur jingled at every blow, and an excite_oice shouted, "Hola! hola, in there!"