Federigo Tozzi, Three crosses – 2 – Chapter 1/2

Siena - La Torre del Mangia
Siena – Immagine tratta dal libro di Rusconi A.Jahn Siena – 1907

Giulio was the gloomiest of the three Gambi brothers, but he was also the strongest, and he hoped to earn enough from the bookshop to do away finally with all dangerous expedients.

He had been the one to propose the way out, and he it was who had studied the forging of signatures. But when his brother spoke to him like that even he would lose heart, and he would go to the bank solely because it was imperative to gain time.

It was also true, though, that it had become a habit, which rather worried him because of the punctuality that it required. It flattered him, however, to feel that for three years now the whole scheme had been going so well ; they had taken over 50,000 lire without arousing the slightest suspicion, and even the Cavaliere Orazio Nicchioli, who had, in fact, been good enough to accept some promissory notes in the first instance, guessed absolutely nothing as yet.

He continued to be their friend, and to call at the bookshop every evening for the usual exchange of gossip.

Giulio was even taller than Niccolo, but clean-shaven and younger, although his hair was quite white. His little moustache was still fair, his cheeks rosy, and his blue eyes were like some stone of that colour. The most intelligent and the. only one of the three who ever felt like work, he was in the bookshop from morning till night.

Niccolo, on the other hand, was also a collector of antiques ; he was nearly always away from Siena, searching the old farm-houses or the surrounding villages for something worth picking up.

Enrico was a bookbinder, and worked in a small shop close to the bookshop. He was short, with a darker moustache, and his manners were rude and insolent.

Niccolo alone was married ; but they all lived together, with two young orphan girls, their nieces. Their father had been successful, and they also had been well-off at first ; then, by degrees, the bookshop had begun to yield less and less.

Giulio put on his top-hat, after having dusted it with his sleeve, and stood for a while in hesitation, examining the note lying open on his writing-desk ; then he scratched his chin again, took up the note and put it in his pocket.

Niccolo was watching him, muttering to himself.
– It’s no good swearing !
– Then what am I to do ?
– Nothing ! Put up with it !
– Yes ; but the last thing I want to do is to go prison !

He had a loud, robust voice, and when he shouted like that you couldn’t tell whether he was speaking seriously or in fun. And then not even Giulio could find it possible to feel depressed or cast down. He only replied, with the calmness of an educated man :
– They will put me in gaol ! Does that satisfy you ?

But Niccolo cried :
– Come back soon ; I don’t want anything to happen to me in this old hole !

Giulio, fearing to lose the note and keeping his hand in the same pocket, proceeded to the bank, trying to walk with his head held well up and to appear quite at ease, certain of himself and of his actions.


( Federigo Tozzi, Three crosses – 1920 )



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