The Queen’s Litter

“But what good did Neighbor Cosimo get from the sun and the fine day? If his heart was blacker than a thundercloud, and he didn’t dare raise his eyes from the cobblestones on which the mules put down their feet as if they were walking on eggs, nor could he look around to see how the corn was coming on, nor enjoy seeing the clusters of olives hanging along the hedges, nor think of what a lot of good all the last week’s rain had done, while his heart was beating like a hammer at the mere thought that the torrent might be swollen, and they had to cross the ford! He didn’t dare to seat himself straddle-legs on the shafts, as he always did when he wasn’t carrying his queen, and snatch forty winks under that fine sun and on that level road that the mules could have followed with their eyes shut; whilst the mules, who had no understanding, and didn’t know who they were carrying, were enjoying the dry level road, the mild sun, and the green country, wagging their hindquarters and shaking the collar bells cheerfully[…]

The queen, for her part, kept up a chatter with another lady, whom they’d placed in the litter to while away the time with her, in a language of which nobody understood a single damn; she looked around the country with her eyes blue as flax flowers, and she rested a little hand on the window frame, so little that it seemed made on purpose to have nothing to do […] But she could have people’s heads cut off with a single word, small though she might be, and the mules, who had no sense in them,  what with that light load, and with all that barley in their bellies, felt strongly tempted to start dancing and jumping along the road, and so get Neighbor Cosimo’s head taken off for him.”

Giovanni Verga, Little Novels of Sicily, “So Much for the King.”

 

 

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