I found two cans of Sterno, another fruit of my preparedness campaign, but no sign ofthe little tin stove to use them in. Ingenuity suggested tipping up a burner on theelectric stove, setting a can of Sterno in the well under it, and tipping the burner backflat. Presto. I was congratulating myself and trying to cheer my determinedly gloomywife when the door blew open and Minnie stamped in, wet-coated, hoo-hoofing like asteamboat, with a wet cigarette pasted to her lower lip.
"Heyyyyy! Ain't this some'm!"
Every Tuesday morning she arrives at our door bursting with some dramatic tidings.Like any boiler or pressure tank, she must be eased of her burden gradually. She can'tbe hurried, she has to bubble and hiss herself quiet. Even on such a day as this weknow better than to interrupt her show. As when on some hot mountain road a travelerhears the rumbling under the hood and watches the temperature needle climb past thered and out of sight, and stops and opens the hood, with handkerchief around handmakes darting stabs at the radiator cap to pen it a little, but not too much, so theAllstons gave greetings to their cleaning lady, and waited for the jets of steam.
She kicked off her muddy shoes, she stripped off her raincoat and revealed the whitenurse's nylon that gives her status as a professional and imparts a touch of class to theestablishments she is willing to assist. Rumbling with phlegmy laughter, squintingagainst imaginary smoke from the cigarette that had been quenched in her run fromcar to door, she slid in stocking feet to the kitchen wastebasket and with a wet thumband finger dropped the disintegrating cigarette in among the garbage.
"You know what I see on my way over? Ha-ha! Them creeps! Lessee if their zoninglaws' 11 take care of that one!"
That was about eleven. Three quarters of an hour later I was still digging, blind withrain, my slicker threatening to lift me up like a hang glider, at the moment of leavesand gravel the floodwater had piled over the entrance to the culvert. Water pouringdown against the pile was being deflected out into the road, to go sheeting down theasphalt toward the bottom, where a lake had covered the area between the eucalyptustrees. That culvert was obviously clogged too.
My feet wet, ma pants were soaked to the thighs. As usual, my hands had gone intotheir Raynaud's syndrome spasm in the cold and were white to the second joints ofthe fingers. For all that, the adobe mixed with leaves was so impossible to shovel thatI finally had to get down and dig at the mass with my hands. Eventually I movedsomething that counted. The bottom fell out, the stream of water dove downward witha slurp, and across the road I heard the plug of mud and leaves shoot out into the gully.So. Emergency dealt with. I cope, therefor I am. I washed my numb hands in muddy ice water and stood up to shove them between the buttons of my slicker and into my armpits for warming. Then I heard a car at the foot of the hill.
双脚已经湿了，裤子也已经湿到了大腿。跟往常一样，我的手指又冻得出现了雷诺氏综合征，手指的第二关节以上都变白了。但尽管如此，夹杂着树叶的土坯还是太难除去了，最后我就干脆蹲下来用手挖。终于，我挪动了一个东西，起了作用。土坯底部被翻了起来，水 “ 咕嘟 ”一下就下去了，然后就听到路的那边泥块和树叶塞住的地方就冲开了，堵塞物流到了溪谷里。终于，危机解除了。我解决故我在。我在冰冷的泥水中冲洗冻似的手指，然后又站起来往我雨衣扣子中间塞，放在咯吱窝下面取暖。这时，我听到山脚下有汽车声音传来。
It had already eased through the lake down there. Now, shifted down, it started fast up the road on which water was still sheeting, not yet cleared by my clearing of the culvert. It threw a bow wave like a power boat a BMW, I saw, two people in it, blonde hair on the right, black behind the wheel, two faces staring out through the sweeping wiper blades. Cesare and Company, a half hour early. Ruth would be so pleased.
Leaning on my shovel, I stood aside, my face fixed for humorous comment, intending to wave them on when they slowed, with shouted assurances that i would be with them in a few minutes. But at the last moment something in the set of Cesare's head and neck told me that he was not pausing in any downpour on any flooded hill for any workman in a muddy slicker leaning on a muddy shovel. I just had time to swing around as they passed. The splash drenched the back of my slicker and the unprotected back of my neck.
靠在我的铲子上，我站在一旁。表情僵硬，等着他们的嬉笑，当他们路过慢下来的时候，我要跟他们打招呼，说一些 “ 一会而见 ” 之类的话。但是最后，从切萨雷的脑袋和脖子中，我意识到他不会在这大雨傍沱的山谷中，为任何身披泥糊糊雨衣靠在一个泥铁铲的工人停下车来。他们过来的时候我正好可以转过身去。溅起的水花淋湿了我身后的雨衣，还把我光着的后脖子也溅的满是水。
Almost contemplatively, assuring myself that I still had a half hour before my guests were due, I went on down to the bottom and cleared the culvert there to ease and drain the lake. Leaving the shovel in case further emergencies developed, I came back up the road littered with leaves, broken branches, and rocks loosened from above. To maintain feelings appropriate to a host, I did not allow myself to dwell on the State Department's exchange-of-persons program, nor yet on the volatile and romantic Italian temperament. Instead, I counted the steps it took me from the bottom culvert to the middle one--one hundred twelve- and from the middle one to the top-one hundred seventy-one. Two hundred eighty-three altogether.
Unseen, I got past the entrance and around to the bedroom door. But when I had peeled off my soaked and muddied clothes and stepped into the bathroom, my finger on the switch produced no light, and in the shower my turning of the knob gave rise to no more than a weak little old man's jet followed by a dribble. While I tried to get clean under that, I elaborated a fantasy in which I called Dr. Ben Alexander and had him come to examine the prostate of my plumbing system.
我悄悄地从门口进来绕到卧室门口。但是当我脱下又湿又泥的衣服走进浴室的时候，我手指按下开关，灯没有亮。打开出水开关，出来的也仅是一小股水，还没一个老男人尿的多，然后又滴了一滴。我就在这样的条件下洗了个澡，洗澡的时候我幻想叫本.亚历山大医生来，让他检查一下我们管道系统的 “ 前列腺 ”。
Finally I got half clean, though my hands continued numb, and at twelve-forty, only ten minutes after they had been invited for, but forty after their arrival, I went in to my guests. Things had obviously been a little strained in there. Ruth, who has a lot of doomed-queen, avenge-queen expressions, sometimes Medea, sometimes Clytemnestra, sometimes Lady Macbeth, gave me one that was more like Cassandra o Mary Queen SCOtS. She was just handing a drink, probably the second or third, to Cesare, who was peering out at the drowned hills and being reminded, not for the first time id my intuition was right, of Umbria.
Cesare rushed to embrace me, crying to his gods that he had not recognized me on the hill."How could I know? I saw you there, I thought, `Poor devil, what some people must do to live. But I could not stop, you understand, the road was a torrente. Or should I pretend that Ms. McElvenny was driving?"
切萨雷冲过来抱住我，高喊着说在山上的时候没认出来我。“ 我怎么会知道你在那里？不过我想我看见你在那儿了。我当时想：‘ 可怜的人，人为了活真是什么都能干得出来。’ 但是我也没办法停下来，你知道的，那条路就是一条torrente。或者我能假装是迈克尔温妮在开车吗？”
I shook Ms. McElvenny's hand: she was a pussycat with half inch eyelashes."I knew who was dying," I said. "Remember the last time I saw you? You drove me down the corkscrew road from the American Academy to Trastevere. I didn't draw a breath all the way down. Once I looked back, just as we passed that little temple, the one with the fountains, and the gravel was still hanging in the air above the Villa Aurelia's gate.
我跟迈克尔温妮女士握了握手。她是只性感小野猫，睫毛有半英寸长。“ 我知道当时是谁在开车，” 我说。“ 还记得上次我见你的时候吗？你带着我从美国科学院沿着螺旋形道路一路开到特拉斯泰韦雷，我一口气都没敢喘。有次路过有喷泉的那座小寺庙的时候我回了一下头，路上飞起的石子仍然悬在奥蕾莉亚别墅大门的上空。
Then I looked down, and here came a Volkswagen bus that was going to meet us just at a curve where a fellow was washing his car in the road. And from farther down the roofs of the Regina Coeli were floating up toward us the way Fifth Avenue would flap up at you if you did a half gainer off the Empire State. Nobody's going to be in any doubt who's driving, if you're at the wheel."
Cesare was delighted. Said Ms. McElvenny the pussycat, "Can you picture what it's like to have him drive you down Jones Street?"
"Yes," I said. `Yes, I can. Exactly."
Ruth's eyes were asking accusingly, where were you? Cesare was simultaneously exclaiming about the brutto tempo and asking how I was and demanding to know how I found myself out here on the West Coast. I got myself a drink and offered to refill Ms. McElvenny."I'm gonna drive," she said with a grin. The lights came on. Ruth breathed an excuse and darted for the kitchen. to the door she hung a moment."Give me fifteen minutes?" she said, and vanished. There we were.
露丝露出责备的眼神，“ 你们刚才在哪儿？” 萨塞雷紧接着又说起了糟糕的天气，问我身体怎么样，为什么在西海岸这里定居。我倒了点喝的，然后准备给迈克尔温妮女士再斟满的时候，她咧嘴笑着说：“ 我还要开车。” 灯亮了。露丝告辞了一下就奔去了厨房。在出门的时候，她停顿了下说：“ 给我一刻钟就好。” 说完她就消失了。然后我们就还在那里。
I inspected Ms. McElvenny. She was just the kind of pussycat that Cesare collects. In fact, she too put me in mind of the last time we were in Rome, when an American girl came to me wanting me to get her an advance on her manuscript and be a reference in her application for a Guggenheim. She said she worked so well in Rome that she simply must stay another year. She intimated two or three times that she would do anything for the chance. I found myself unable to assist her as much as she wanted me to. Three days later I saw her at a table on the Via Veneto, smiling as any pussycat smiles who has just swallowed a bumblebee, while Italy's Greatest Novelist poured out to her, leaning head to head across the cloth, his best D'Annunzio monologue.
A version of which he was now giving me. Beside Cesare Rulli, Ben Alexander would seem taciturn. He has an interest in everything that moves; only quiet things elude him. He cannot sit still. Sitting, he hitches a chair around like a milking stool. Standing, he hops and strides around with his impetuous limp, gained, he says, from a German bullet when he was with the partisans during the war. I make no judgement on where he spent the war or how he got his limp. Maybe he borrowed it from Lord Byron and liked it so well he forgot to return it. He is a fly in a bottle, a June bug against a screen. Where anyone else would simmer, he boils; where others boil, he erupts.
He didn't dwell long on the brutto tempo or the view that is like Umbria. He was instantly off on San Francisco, which he had of course fallen in love with: a world city, a city more of Europe than America, a place full of life, excitement, color, motion, a city that knows how to play. Apparently he and his pussycat had seen it all, including two or three topless-bottomless joints in North Beach that they took in after the consul's party.
"This that you live in is beautiful," he says with a sweeping gesture that makes Ms. McElvenny protect her sherry glass with both hands." Bella, bella. Really, it is like Umbria. With cypresses it might be Tuscany. But I am curious, Giuseppe. Why do you live in the country? Why not in San Francisco?"
“你住的这个地方真美，” 切萨雷把手一挥说道。迈克尔温妮女士赶忙双手护住乘有雪莉酒的酒杯。“ 贝拉贝拉，这里真的很像翁布里亚。要是有柏树的话，就像托斯卡纳了。但是乔塞普，我还是很好奇，你为什么住在村子里，而不住在旧金山？”
I said we were close enough. When we needed the City, which was no oftener than once a month, we could be there in less than an hour. Mostly we went for nothing more spectacular than to see an exhibition at oxie of the galleries or museums, or to walk in Golden Gate Park.
"Golden Gate Park?" says Cesare to Ms. McElvenny." Did we see that?"
“ 金门公园？” 切萨雷对迈克尔温妮女士说，“ 我们去过么？”
"I didn't think it would be very high on your must list," says Ms. McElvenny.
The glance he gave her was of such melting warmth and promise and adoration that I expected I might out of pure discretion have to leave the room for a few minutes." Avevi ragione," Cesare said. "You were right."
切萨雷看了她一眼，眼神充满浓浓的暖意与宠溺，让人心醉。经过慎重思考，我觉得我还是出去几分钟比较好。"Avevi ragione” 切萨雷说。“ 你是对的。”
He tipped his glass to drink, and I saw his eye fix on something across the room. There were the breadpans I had set out on top of the bookcase wall. Below, overlooked in the rush, were the collected works of Oates, O'Connor, O'Neill, and Katherine Anne. He limped across to inspect them, and after a moment of contemptuous scrutiny limped back.
"I didn't set them out to impress you with the competition," I said. "I set them out because the rain had leaked in and got them wet. Your own are farther along the shelf, nice and dry."
“ 我把它们放出来不是有意要跟你的比，” 我说，“ 而是因为那里漏雨把这些东西淋湿了。你的藏品在书架的前面，完好无损。”
He grunted, regarding me across his raised glass." So you like it better in the country. What do you do besides put pans under leaks and dig in the mud?"
"Lavoriamo in giardino," I said. "Leggiamo. Meditiamo. Di quando in quando facciamo una passeggata."
“ Lavoriamo in giardino，” 我说，“ Leggiamo.Meditiamo.Diquando in quando faceiamo una Passeggiata。”
"Sei filosofo," Cesare said. He studied me, tasting his drink with pursed lips, with the wincing, pleased, thoughtful expression of a horse drinking ice water. I half expected him to bob his nose in it."Who are the literary people here? Who is there to talk to?"
“ Sei filosofo。” 萨塞雷说。他一边仔细打量着我，一边呱着嘴品尝它的美酒。皱着眉，脸上露出一副满意地沉思的表情，就像马在喝冰水时的样子。我隐约觉得他会用鼻子在水里吹泡泡。“ 这里的文学家们都是谁啊？有谁在这里可以聊聊吗？”
I said there were writers up and down the Peninsula, but no literary life as he knew it, no taverns or pubs or sidewalk cafes where they gathered to talk shop and subvert each other's wives and girl friends. Publishers and agents were all in New York. The local writers operated by mail, a fine economical system.
Squinting in amusement, he called the pussycat's attention to me with a jerk of shoulder and eyebrow."Look at him. He was once a man of the world, he had juice in him, he liked conversation, excitement, people, crowds; pretty women, literary discussion. Now he sits on a cow pad and consults the grass. He pretends to be on the shelf. Look, right over there is proof that on the shelf you can get all wet. You are not fair to your wife. She is an angel, I adore her, she should be out where things go on.
She will look at you and grow dull, dull, dull! Listen. I wish you had been with us in San Francisco. Come back with us tonight, I'll stay over, we'll see something besides Golden Gate Park. You don't want to sit in this imitation Umbria and dig in the. Mud and struggle against uncivilized nature. That is the way to grow old."
It was "Up at a Villa-Down in the City" all over again. Bang-whang-whang went his drum, and tootle-de-tootle his fife. After I came in, he didn't once look outside again, though what was going on out there was spectacular and even frightening. Until Ruth announced lunch-she had lighted candles on the table, anticipating further trouble from Pacific Gas and Electric-he proselytized me on life in the city square. As if I were a high school student, an not a bright one at that, he literally construed me the word "civilization," and how it came from civic, and the word "urbanity," and how it came from urbs, and he suggested that, being the man I was, I could not rusticate myself without doing harm to the civilized world.
他又开始了 “上达庙堂之上，下通江湖之远 ” 的长篇阔论，一会儿哇啦哇啦，一会儿又吧啦吧啦地说个不停。窗外的瓢泼大雨尤为壮观，甚至还让人害怕，但自打我进来，他就再没往外看过。切萨雷试图改变我对城市广场生活的看法。他从字面上给我讲解“文明”是如何从这个词的词根 “ 公民 ” 演变过来的，还跟我讲 “ 城市性 ” 是如何从词根 “ 城市 ” 演变过来的，好像我是个高中生似的，而且还是个头脑不怎么灵光的高中生。他还说我这种人住在乡下对这个文明世界是没有什么好处的。他就这样一直说到露丝宣布开饭。露丝觉得太平洋燃气与电力公司短时间内不会把电送来，于是就提前点亮了桌子上的蜡烛。
Since we were on that subject, one on which I have pondered, I remind him of some other words: "arcadian," which had its own pleasant connotations, and "civility" which might once have characterized the civis but which seemed now to be forgotten there. I said if I had my choice I preferred to be suburbane. I said there were enough people around without my going hunting them. I preferred books. And as for pretty girls and amore, I quoted him Aidous Huxley to the effect that sooner or later everybody arrived at the point where he could not take yes for an answer. Miss Pussycat, sipping her barely touched sherry and keeping track of things behind her camel eyelashes, just about broke up over that one.
既然提起了这个我一直在思考的话题，我就跟他又提了几个词：田园和礼貌。前者自带一种偷悦的内涵，而后者曾有“文明”的含义，但现在己经被人们遗忘了。我说如果我能选择的话，我宁愿做个郊区的居民。郊区人群熙熙攘攘，不用再四处探寻。我更喜欢书。说到漂亮女郎和amore，我跟他提到了阿道司·赫胃黎。人们迟早会明自， “ 是的 ” 不能用于所有的回答。迈克尔温妮女士的雪莉酒几乎没怎么动过，她正一小口一小口地喝着。在她骆驼似的睫毛下面搜寻着什么，眨的都快破了。
But Cesare could not be diverted form his basic subject, women. He brought them to the table with him and developed them role by role: civilizers, comforters, handmaidens, houris, goddesses, objects of worship, homemakers, matriarchs. He made a speech worthy of an oil sheikh. Miss Pussycat watched and was fascinated, and likewise Minnie, stumbling around the table in her wiped-off but still wet shoes, bulging her white nylon as she thrust platters and bowls before people, her eyes on Cesare's animated face and her thumb comfortably in the sauce.
But after he had run through his set pieces, Cesare rather tapered off. The plate that Minnie carried away from his place was only half cleaned. He drank his Green Hungarian without comment, almost impatiently. I had the distinct impression that he was more and more astonished that we had asked him down en famille. Why were there no other people, why had on one been invited in to meet him? Why, when we obviously were well enough off to choose, did we choose to eat like peasants in a kitchen, without the stimulation of guests? We had we not understood that a famous novelist appreciated a larger audience? His eye once or twice wandered to Ms. McElvenny's. He yearned to be gone.
At two-thirty she took her cue, stood up from the coffee tray in the living room, and said they ought to leave. It was such a terrible day, bad for driving, and they had appointments. How lovely of us to let her come down and kibitz on our reunion. On departure, Cesare embraced Ruth and then me, clapping my shoulder as if he were Anthony and I Enobarbas. When were we next coming to Rome? We must absolutely let him know. We must be pulled out of our retirement and restored to civilization. And for today, and the chance to see us even so briefly, mille grazie. And arrivederci. And evnga, venga a Roma.
两点半的时候她意识到了这一点，从卧室的咖啡盘旁站起，说他们该走了。天气太糟糕了，不适合开车，而他们今天又恰好有约。她很开心我们让她也过来参加我和切萨雷的相聚。走的时候，切萨雷拥抱了露丝，又抱了我，然后拍了拍我的肩膀，好像他是安东尼，而我是爱诺巴勃斯。我们必须要让他知道我们下次到罗马的时间，必须要从退休生活中出来，回归文明社会。至于今天，相见时间如此短暂，mille grazie， Arrivederci。Venga，venga a Roma。
I held an umbrella over the two of them as we all ran for their car, and got myself wet all over again. As they grimaced and waved from behind their streaming windows and swashing wipers, I stood there like Little Boy Blue's tin soldier, waving them off: When I came in, I was depressed and irritable, and I have been that way ever since.
By working our heads off, we managed to give Cesare the dullest two and a half hours he has had since arriving in America. Any lunch in the City, anything from fog cutters and Indonesian sate at Trader Vic's to a beer and a Polish sausage down at the Eagle, among the longshoremen by Pier 37, would have pleased him more. It did not occur to him, so busy was he talking up women and civilization, to comment on Ruth's food, which was better than anything he would have got in the City. He was not moved by the Green Hungarian, though it is so much better than the sulphurous Frascati he is used to that he should never know peace in Rome again. Nothing we provided him, including the company, was anything but a bore. His monologues were wasted on an empty house. He pities me, I saw it in his face.
One thing he did do-he impressed Minnie."Ain't he a skyrocket, though?" she said as we gathered to clean up."What is he, Eyetalian?"
不过，他确实做了一件事，那就是让明妮印象深刻。“ 他就像一个火箭，不是吗？” 我们一起收拾的时候她说，“ 他是谁，是意大利人吗？”
"He's a famous Italian novelist," Ruth said tightly. She was squeezing a headache between her brows."Some people, including himself, have mentioned him for the Nobel Prize."
“ 他是个有名的意大利小说家，” 露丝咬着牙说。她双眉紧锁，头痛地厉害。“ 一些人曾为他提名诺贝尔奖，他也自荐过。”
"Is that so?" Minnie said. "He talks like a writer, don't he? And don't he like the ladies! He never took his eyes off his girl friend the whole time. Who's she? She don't sound Eyetalian."
“ 是这样吗？” 明妮说，“ 他说的跟写的似的，不是吗？而且他还很喜欢女人!从进门到出去，他眼睛一直盯着他女朋友。她是谁？听说话不像意大利人。”
"Ms. McElvenny is a San Francisco girl who will go far, and undoubtedly has," I said.
“ 迈克尔温妮女士是旧金山的，以后大有前途，现在己经有了。” 我说。
`Joe," said my weary wife, "you don't know a thing about it."
“ 乔，” 我妻子不耐烦地说，“ 你知道啥呀。”
The hell I don't. I know Cesare.
Now here I sit looking out into the dripping live oak, with somber afternoon fading to gloomy dusk outside, the study chilly because I haven't had the ambition to build a fire in my little Norwegian stove, and my spirits as gloomy as the evening and as chilly as the room. God damn that Roman cricket with his nonstop monologue and his pussycat and his civis and his urbs. He has managed to make me feel ten years older than I was yesterday-out of it, self-exiled, and without the courage of my convictions, without the grace to be content with what I chose.
现在我正坐在这里，望着外面滴着雨的橡树。昏暗的下午渐渐变成了阴沉的黄昏。我不想在家里的小挪威炉子里生火，书桌冻得瑟瑟发抖。我的精神像傍晚一样阴沉，像房间一样发冷。去他的 “ 罗马火箭 ”，自己一直说个不停，去他的讨人厌的小野猫、“ 公民 ” 和 “ 城市 ” 理论。他让我觉得自己又老了10岁---走出城市，背井离乡，不勇于坚定自己的信仰，不能心安理得地过自己选择的生活。
Tonight, unless Ruth's headache alter the plan, I suppose I will have to read another installment of the journals of Joseph Allston, 1954. I am not sure I like Ruth's prescription any better than I like Cesare's, and I find that I resent the assumption both of them make, that I have stopped, and am in need of repair. It irritates me to have people blowing out my gas line and testing my sparkplugs and feeling all over me for loose wires. I suppose Ruth thinks of me as that melancholy Half-Dane in need of comforting and mothering; maybe she also thinks of my life, which is also hers, as a sort of in-house soap opera. Butt mainly she yearns over me and knows things that I should do to become her old nice funny Joe again.
I can't see that Danish episode as an adventure, or a crisis survived, or a serious quest for anything definable. It was just another happening like today's luncheon, something I got into and got out of. And it reminds me too much of how little life changes: how, without dramatic events or high resolves, without tragedy, without even pathos, a reasonably endowed, reasonably well-intentioned man can walk through the world's great kitchen from end to end and arrive at the back door hungry.
We parted, mutually complimentary. He went away somewhere, and I rang the bell and was admitted by the brawny maid, who was obviously agitated. I couldn't understand a word of her Danish, but she kept looking up the stairs, so I started up, to be met halfway by Ruth, crying, Oh, where have you been, I've been going out of my mind! You shouldn't have stayed out so long, what have you been doing? Etc. Turns out the old countess was no sooner steered back to her rooms than she had a seizure of some kind, stroke, heart attack, nobody seemed to know. She might be dead or alive at this moment. Manon and the countess were with her, dinner was canceled, they would send something up.
我们相互恭维了几句，才告了辞。我不知他回了哪里，我按了城堡的门铃，一位体格健壮的女仆给我开了门。很明显，她显得很烦躁。我听不懂她的丹麦话，但她一直向上瞅着楼梯，所以我上了楼。半路，碰上嘎咽的露丝，叫嚷着 “ 啊，你去哪儿了？我找你找得快发疯了。你怎么出去这么久?你干什么去啦?”等等之类的话。听说，老女伯爵一回到她房间，就中了风，又或者是心脏病就发作了，没人知道究竟是什么病。这会儿，她不知是死是活。玛农和女伯爵陪着她，晚餐取消了，稍后，仆人会送一些晚饭到楼上。
In the circumstances I didn't want to ring for ice. We had a couple of warm scotches and water while I told her what I had been doing, and with whom. She looked at my hand and my skinned feet and lamented. She wondered that I hadn't had a heart attack, what on earth was I thinking of, how could I dream of playing tennis, the way I had been feeling? Shortly the maid knocked and wheeled in a tea cart with dinner on it, and a good dinner, too, with a good cold bottle of Mosel, and over it we speculated a long while about this feud between the countess and her brother, and about Miss We ibull, and discussed my adventures down the lane and among the fields and woods and on the courts of honor.
We kept expecting the countess to come and let us know what was going on, but it got to be ten-thirty, and then eleven, without a sign of her. Ruth kissed me a trembling, helpless kiss and went off to her canopied four-poster and after a while I heard that she was asleep.
And here I sit; with thirty great wounds, of the least of which an emir world have died, scratching in a God damn notebook. Why? Do I think I'll forget this? I can smell the lilacs that breathe up through the open casements, and watch the moonlight chase timidly back and forth across the Aubusson rug, advancing to Ruth's bed, scurrying back, creeping out again. Outside it is not really dark; we are getting close to the time of the white.nights, when there is no true darkness, but only some hours of dusk. The sky now is either filled with moonlight or is the same predawn gray that it was when I looked out before going to bed.
The moonlight ventures out, reaches, stretches, dimly trembles on the bedclothes, on the darkness of Ruth's hair; the paleness of her face. I hope she is dreaming something gorgeous, her first night in an authentic castle.