They went out, and walked to the Porta Camollia, and then in Pescaia, to re-enter the city by way of Fontebranda. The Pescaia road winds round the foot of an eminence of steep and bushy ground of increasing height, behind which Siena gradually retires from view and finally is lost completely. The country on the right descends into a long slope of vineyards. At the Madonnino Scapato, one could only see San Domenico, massive and red, on an outstanding height. The sky was tinged with a faint rosy haze ; and the monastery, on another higher and steeper hill in the distance, seemed of the same red colour, with the cypresses beside it, dim, dark and tapering. A deep entrenched torrent, dashing down in hurried frenzy from its own hill, reached the level of the road through a trembling confusion of tattered and crooked poplar-trees. Near these old stunted poplars the grass was very green, so strong and freshly coloured that Nicchioli ceased talking about his son and remarked to Giulio :
– I’d exchange these fields very willingly with my own at Monteriggioni.
But he resumed his interrupted conversation immediately, not giving the bookseller time to reply. He had been telling, and not for the first time by any means, of how many doctors had assisted his wife in her confinement ; of all that had happened at that never-to-beforgotten time, with all its dangers and relative remedies. Then, how many nurses they had had to change before finding one who apparently had the requisite quantity and quality of milk. At the present moment his son had reached the critical stage of an inflammation of the gums, due to the efforts of the teeth now beginning to come through. He took out of his pocket a small notebook, bound in white cardboard and gilt-edged, and said :
– You see, so as not to forget anything, I jot it all down here. The child never cries, not even at night ; but when we heard it crying lately, my wife so sensitive and such a bundle of nerves was alarmed at once. You see, neither of us imagined that it was anything to do with the teeth. We sent immediately oh, immediately for the doctor, our doctor, who, to give him his due, came at once … in a carriage. He really is one of the very few conscientious and scrupulous doctors whom one can absolutely trust. … I would never call any other doctor . . . not on any account . . . and, mind, I had forgotten to mention . . . the child was feverish ! We had all lost our heads at home . . . some running this way, some running that. My mother-in-law, too, had arrived, and she wanted to apply some leeches . . . but I wouldn’t let her. Although it’s not a bad remedy … I don’t dislike it. . . . My wife was in tears. . . . I leave you to imagine the rest !
And since he feared that Giulio’s thoughts might wander, he would always make him look him in the eye as he spoke, thus keeping a firm hold on his attention.
( Federigo Tozzi, Three crosses – 1920 )