Chapter 4

All the morning Nostromo had kept his eye from afar on the Casa Viola, even in the thick of the hottest scrimmage near the Custom House. `If I see smoke rising over there,' he thought to himself, `they are lost.' Directly the mob had broken he pressed with a small band of Italian workmen in that direction, which, indeed, was the shortest line towards the town. That part of the rabble he was pursuing seemed to think of making a stand under the house; a volley fired by his followers from behind an aloe hedge made the rascals fly. In a gap chopped out for the rails of the harbour branch-line Nostromo appeared, mounted on his silver-grey mare. He shouted, sent after them one shot from his revolver, and galloped up to the cafe window. He had an idea that old Giorgio would choose that part of the house for a refuge.

His voice had penetrated to them, sounding breathlessly hurried: `Hola! vecchio! O, vecchio! Is it all well with you in there?'

`You see--' murmured old Viola to his wife.

Signora Teresa was silent now. Outside Nostromo laughed.

`I can hear the padrona is not dead.'

`You have done your best to kill me with fear,' cried Signora Teresa. She wanted to say something more, but her voice failed her.

Linda raised her eyes to her face for a moment, but old Giorgio shouted apologetically:

`She is a little upset.'

Outside Nostromo shouted back with another laugh:

`She cannot upset me.'

Signora Teresa found her voice.

`It is what I say. You have no heart -- and you have no conscience, Gian' Battista--'

They heard him wheel his horse away from the shutters. The party he led were babbling excitedly in Italian and Spanish, inciting each other to the pursuit. He put himself at their head, crying, `Avanti!'

`He has not stopped very long with us. There is no praise from strangers to be got here,' Signora Teresa said, tragically. `Avanti! Yes! That is all he cares for. To be first somewhere -- somehow -- to be first with these English. They will be showing him to everybody. "This is our Nostromo!"' She laughed ominously. `What a name! What is that? Nostromo? He would take a name that is properly no word from them.'

Meantime Giorgio, with tranquil movements, had been unfastening the door; the flood of light fell on Signora Teresa, with her two girls gathered to her side, a picturesque woman in a pose of maternal exaltation. Behind her the wall was dazzlingly white, and the crude colours of the Garibaldi lithograph paled in the sunshine.

Old Viola, at the door, moved his arm upwards as if referring all his quick, fleeting thoughts to the picture of his old chief on the wall. Even when he was cooking for the `signori inglesi' -- the engineers (he was a famous cook, though the kitchen was a dark place) -- he was, as it were, under the eye of the great man who had led him in a glorious struggle where, under the walls of Gaeta, tyranny would have expired for ever had it not been for that accursed Piedmontese race of kings and ministers. When sometimes a frying-pan caught fire during a delicate operation with some shredded onions, and the old man was seen backing out of the doorway, swearing and coughing violently in an acrid cloud of smoke, the name of Cavour -- the arch intriguer sold to kings and tyrants -- could be heard involved in imprecations against the China girls, cooking in general, and the brute of a country where he was reduced to live for the lover of liberty that traitor had strangled.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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