When Hermione got out of the boat
in the little harbor of the village on the mainland
Gaspare said again:
“I could easily row you to Mergellina, Signore.
I am not a bit tired.”
She looked at him as he stood with
his hand on the prow of the boat. His shirt-sleeves
were rolled up, showing his strong arms. There
was something brave, something “safe” so
she called it to herself in his whole appearance
which had always appealed to her nature. How she
longed at that moment to be quite at ease with him!
Why would he not trust her completely? Perhaps
in her glance just then she showed her thought, her
desire. Gaspare’s eyes fell before her.
“I think I’ll take the tram,” she
said, “unless ”
She was still looking at him, longing
for him to speak. But he said nothing. At
that moment a fisherman ran down the steps from the
village, and came over the sand to greet them.
“Good-bye, Gaspare,” she
said. “Don’t wait, of course.
Giovanni can row me back.”
The fisherman smiled, but Gaspare said:
“I can come for you, Signora.
You will not be very long, will you? You will
be back for colazione?”
“Oh yes, I suppose so.”
“I will come for you, Signora.”
Again she looked at him, and felt
his deep loyalty to her, his strong and almost doglike
affection. And, feeling them, she was seized once
more by fear. The thing Gaspare hid from her must
be something terrible.
“Thank you, Gaspare.”
“A rivederci, Signora.”
Was there not a sound of pleading
in his voice, a longing to retain her? She would
not heed it. But she gave him a very gentle look
as she turned to walk up the hill.
At the top, by the Trattoria
del Giardinetto, she had to wait for several
minutes before the tram came. She remembered her
solitary dinner there on the evening when she had
gone to the Scoglio di Frisio to look at
the visitor’s book. She had felt lonely
then in the soft light of the fading day. She
felt far more lonely now in the brilliant sunshine
of morning. And for an instant she saw herself
travelling steadily along a straight road, from which
she could not diverge. She passed milestone after
milestone. And now, not far off, she saw in the
distance a great darkness in which the road ended.
And the darkness was the ultimate loneliness which
can encompass on earth the human spirit.
The tram-bell sounded. She lifted
her head mechanically. A moment later she was
rushing down towards Naples. Before the tram reached
the harbor of Mergellina, on the hill opposite the
Donn’ Anna, Hermione got out. Something
in her desired delay; there was plenty of time.
She would walk a little way among the lively people
who were streaming to the Stabilimenti to have
their morning dip.
In the tram she had scarcely thought
at all. She had given herself to the air, to
speed, to vision. Now, at once, with physical
action came an anxiety, a restlessness, that seemed
to her very physical too. Her body felt ill,
she thought; though she knew there was nothing the
matter with her. All through her life her health
had been robust. Never yet had she completely
“broken down.” She told herself that
her body was perfectly well.
But she was afraid. That was
the truth. And to feel fear was specially hateful
to her, because she abhorred cowardice, and was inclined
to despise all timidity as springing from weakness
She dreaded reaching Mergellina.
She dreaded seeing this woman, Ruffo’s mother.
And Ruffo? Did she dread seeing him?
She fought against her fear.
Whatever might befall her she would remain herself,
essentially separate from all other beings and from
events, secure of the tremendous solitude that is
the property of every human being on earth.
“Pain, misery, horror, come
from within, not from without.” She said
that to herself steadily. “I am free so
long as I choose, so long as I have the courage to
choose, to be free.”
And saying that, and never once allowing
her mind to state frankly any fear, she came down
to the harbor of Mergellina.
The harbor and its environs looked
immensely gay in the brilliant sunshine. Life
was at play here, even at its busiest. The very
workers sang as if their work were play. Boats
went in and out on the water. Children paddled
in the shallow sea, pushing hand-nets along the sand.
From the rocks boys were bathing. Their shouts
travelled to the road where the fishermen were talking
with intensity, as they leaned against the wall hot
with the splendid sun.
Hermione looked for Ruffo’s
face among all these sun-browned faces, for his bright
eyes among all the sparkling eyes of these children
of the sea.
But she could not see him. She
walked along the wall slowly.
“Ruffo Ruffo Ruffo!”
She was summoning him with her mind.
Perhaps he was among those bathing
boys. She looked across the harbor to the rocks,
and saw the brown body of one shoot through the shining
air and disappear with a splash into the sea.
Perhaps that boy was he how
far away from her loneliness, her sadness, and her
She began to despair of finding him.
She had reached the steps now near
the Savoy Hotel. A happy-looking boatman, with
hazel eyes and a sensitive mouth, hailed her from the
water. It was Fabiano Lari, to whom Artois had
once spoken, waiting for custom in his boat the Stella
Hermione was attracted to the man,
as Artois had been, and she resolved to find out from
him, if possible, where Ruffo’s mother lived.
She went down the steps. The man immediately
brought his boat right in.
“No,” she said, “I don’t want
Fabiano looked a little disappointed.
“I am looking for some one who lives here, a
Sicilian boy called Ruffo.”
“Ruffo Scarla, Signora? The Sicilian?”
“That must be he. Do you know him?”
“Si, Signora, I know Ruffo very
well. He was here this morning. But I don’t
know where he is now.” He looked round.
“He may have gone home, Signora.”
“Do you know where he lives?”
“Si, Signora. It is near where I live.
It’s near the Grotto.”
“Could you possibly leave your boat and take
“Si, Signora! A moment, Signora.”
Quickly he signed to a boy who was
standing close by watching them. The boy ran
down to the boat. Fabiano spoke to him in dialect.
He got into the boat, while Fabiano jumped ashore.
“Signora, I am ready. We go this way.”
They walked along together.
Fabiano was as frank and simple as
a child, and began at once to talk. Hermione
was glad of that, still more glad that he talked of
himself, his family, the life and affairs of a boatman.
She listened sympathetically, occasionally putting
in a word, till suddenly Fabiano said:
“Antonio Bernari will be out to-day. I
suppose you know that, Signora?”
“Antonio Bernari! Who is he? I never
heard of him.”
Fabiano looked surprised.
“But he is Ruffo’s Patrigno.
He is the husband of Maddalena.”
Hermione stood still on the pavement.
She did not know why for a moment. Her mind seemed
to need a motionless body in which to work. It
was surely groping after something, eagerly, feverishly,
Fabiano paused beside her.
“Signora,” he said, staring
at her in surprise, “are you tired? Are
you not well?”
“I’m quite well.
But wait a minute. Yes, I do want to rest for
She dared not move lest she should interfere with
that mental search.
Fabiano’s words had sent her mind sharply to
She was sure she had known, or heard
of, some girl in Sicily called Maddalena, some girl
or some woman. She thought of the servants in
the Casa del Prete, Lucrezia.
Had she any sister, any relation called Maddalena?
Or had Gaspare ?
Suddenly Hermione seemed to be on
the little terrace above the ravine with Maurice and
Artois. She seemed to feel the heat of noon in
summer. Gaspare was there, too. She saw
his sullen face. She saw him looking ugly.
She heard him say:
“Salvatore and Maddalena, Signora.”
Why had he said that? In answer to what question?
And then, in a flash, she remembered
everything. It was she who had spoken first.
She had asked him who lived in the House of the Sirens.
“Salvatore and Maddalena.”
And afterwards Maurice
had said something. Her mind went in search,
seized its prey.
“They’re quite friends of ours. We
saw them at the fair only yesterday.”
Maurice had said that. She could hear his voice
“I’m rested now.”
She was speaking to Fabiano.
They were walking on again among the chattering people.
They had come to the wooden station where the tram-lines
“Is it this way?”
“Si, Signora, quite near the Grotto. Take
“It’s all right. Thank you.”
They had crossed now and were walking
up the street that leads directly to the tunnel, whose
mouth confronted them in the distance. Hermione
felt as if they were going to enter it, were going
to walk down it to the great darkness which seemed
to wait for her, to beckon her. But presently
Fabiano turned to the right, and they came into a street
leading up the hill, and stopped almost immediately
before a tall house.
“Antonio and Maddalena live here, Signora.”
“And Ruffo,” she said, as if correcting
“Ruffo! Si, Signora, of course.”
Hermione looked at the house.
It was evidently let out in rooms to people who were
comparatively poor; not very poor, not in any destitution,
but who made a modest livelihood, and could pay their
fourteen or fifteen lire a month for lodging.
She divined by its aspect that every room was occupied.
For the building teemed with life, and echoed with
the sound of calling, or screaming, voices. The
inhabitants were surely all of them in a flurry of
furious activity. Children were playing before
and upon the door-step, which was flanked by an open
shop, whose interior revealed with a blatant sincerity
a rummage of mysterious edibles fruit,
vegetables, strings of strange objects that looked
poisonous, fungi, and other delights. Above, from
several windows, women leaned out, talking violently
to one another. Two were holding babies, who
testified their new-born sense of life by screaming
shrilly. Across other window-spaces heads passed
to and fro, denoting the continuous movement of those
within. People in the street called to people
in the house, and the latter shouted in answer, with
that absolute lack of self-consciousness and disregard
of the opinions of others which is the hall-mark of
the true Neapolitan. From the corner came the
rumble and the bell notes of the trams going to and
coming from the tunnel that leads to Fuorigrotta.
And from every direction rose the vehement street
calls of ambulant venders of the necessaries of Neapolitan
“Ruffo lives here!” said Hermione.
She could hardly believe it.
So unsuitable seemed such a dwelling to that bright-eyed
child of the sea, whom she had always seen surrounded
by the wide airs and the waters.
“Si, Signora. They are on the third floor.
Shall I take you up?”
Hermione hesitated. Should she go up alone?
“Please show me the way,” she said, deciding.
Fabiano preceded her up a dirty stone
staircase, dark and full of noises, till they came
to the third floor.
“It is here, Signora!”
He knocked loudly on a door.
It was opened very quickly, as if by some one who
was on the watch, expectant of an arrival.
“Chi e?” cried a female voice.
And, almost simultaneously, a woman
appeared with eyes that stared in inquiry.
By these eyes, their shape, and the
long, level brows above them, Hermione knew that this
woman must be Ruffo’s mother.
“Good-morning, Donna Maddalena,” said
“Good-morning,” said the
woman, directing her eyes with a strange and pertinacious
scrutiny to Hermione, who stood behind him. “I
thought perhaps it was ”
She stopped. Behind, in the doorway,
appeared the head of a young woman, covered with blue-black
hair, then the questioning face of an old woman with
a skin like yellow parchment.
She nodded, keeping her long, Arab eyes on Hermione.
“No. Are you expecting him so early?”
“He may come at any time. Chi lo
She shrugged her broad, graceless shoulders.
“It isn’t he! It
isn’t Antonio!” bleated a pale and disappointed
voice, with a peculiarly irritating timbre.
It was the voice of the old woman,
who now darted over Maddalena Bernari’s shoulder
a hostile glance at Hermione.
baaed the woman with the blue-black hair. “Perhaps
he will not be let out to-day!”
The old woman began to cry feebly, yet angrily.
“Courage, Madre Teresa!”
said Fabiano. “Antonio will be here to-day
for a certainty. Every one knows it. His
friends” he raised a big brown hand
significantly “his friends have managed
well for him.”
“Si! si! It is true!”
said the black-haired woman, nodding her large head,
and gesticulating towards Madre Teresa. “He
will be here to-day. Antonio will be here.”
They all stared at Hermione, suddenly
forgetting their personal and private affairs.
“Donna Maddalena,” said
Fabiano, “here is a signora who knows Ruffo.
I met her at the Mergellina, and she asked me to show
her the way here.”
“Ruffo is out,” said Maddalena,
always keeping her eyes on Hermione.
“May I come in and speak to you?” asked
Maddalena looked doubtful, yet curious.
“My son is in the sea, Signora. He is bathing
at the Marina.”
Hermione thought of the brown body
she had seen falling through the shining air, of the
gay splash as it entered the water.
“I know your son so well that
I should like to know his mother,” she said.
Fabiano by this time had moved aside,
and the two women were confronting each other in the
doorway. Behind Maddalena the two other women
stared and listened with all their might, giving their
whole attention to this unexpected scene.
“Are you the Signora of the island?” asked
“Yes, I am.”
“Let the Signora in, Donna Maddalena,”
said Fabiano. “She is tired and wants to
Without saying anything Maddalena
moved her broad body from the doorway, leaving enough
space for Hermione to enter.
“Thank you,” said Hermione
to Fabiano, giving him a couple of lire.
“Grazie, Signora. I will
wait down-stairs to take you back.”
He went off before she had time to
tell him that was not necessary.
Hermione walked into Ruffo’s home.
There were two rooms, one opening
into the other. The latter was a kitchen, the
former the sleeping-room. Hermione looked quietly
round it, and her eyes fell at once upon a large green
parrot, which was sitting at the end of the board
on which, supported by trestles of iron, the huge
bed of Maddalena and her husband was laid. At
present this bed was rolled up, and in consequence
towered to a considerable height. The parrot
looked at Hermione coldly, with round, observant eyes
whose pupils kept contracting and expanding with a
monotonous regularity. She felt as if it had
a soul that was frigidly ironic. Its pertinacious
glance chilled and repelled her, and she fancied it
was reflected in the faces of the women round her.
“Can I speak to you alone for
a few minutes?” she asked Maddalena.
Maddalena turned to the two women
and spoke to them loudly in dialect. They replied.
The old woman spoke at great length. She seemed
always angry and always upon the verge of tears.
Over her shoulders she wore a black shawl, and as
she talked she kept fidgeting with it, pulling it
first to one side, then to the other, or dragging at
it with her thin and crooked yellow fingers.
The parrot watched her steadily. Her hideous
voice played upon Hermione’s nerves till they
felt raw. At length, looking back, as she walked,
with bloodshot eyes, she went into the kitchen, followed
by the young woman. They began talking together
in sibilant whispers, like people conspiring.
After a moment of apparent hesitation
Maddalena gave her visitor a chair.
“Thank you,” Hermione said, taking it.
She looked round the room again.
It was clean and well kept, but humbly furnished.
Ruffo’s bed was rolled up in a corner. On
the walls were some shields of postcards and photographs,
such as the poor Italians love, deftly enough arranged
and fastened together by some mysterious not apparent
means. Many of the postcards were American.
Near two small flags, American and Italian, fastened
crosswise above the head of the big bed, was a portrait
of Maria Addolorata, under which burned a tiny light.
A palm, blessed, and fashioned like a dagger with a
cross for the hilt, was nailed above it, with a coral
charm to protect the household against the evil eye.
And a little to the right of it was a small object
which Hermione saw and wondered at without understanding
why it should be there, or what was its use a
Fattura della morte (death-charm), in the form
of a green lemon pierced with many nails. This
hung by a bit of string to a nail projecting from
From the death-charm Hermione turned
her eyes to Maddalena.
She saw a woman who was surely not
very much younger than herself, with a broad and spreading
figure, wide hips, plump though small-boned arms,
heavy shoulders. The face that, perhaps yes,
that, certainly must have been once pretty.
Very pretty? Hermione looked searchingly at it
until she saw Maddalena’s eyes drop before hers
suddenly, as if embarrassed. She must say something.
But now that she was here she felt a difficulty in
opening a conversation, an intense reluctance to speak
to this woman into whose house she had almost forced
her way. With the son she was strangely intimate.
From the mother she felt separated by a gulf.
And that fear of hers?
She looked again round the room.
Had that fear increased or diminished? Her eyes
fell on Maria Addolorata, then on the Fattura della
morte. She did not know why, but she was
moved to speak about it.
“You have nice rooms here,” she said.
Maddalena had rather a harsh voice.
She spoke politely, but inexpressively.
“What a curious thing that is on the wall!”
“It’s a lemon, isn’t it? With
nails stuck through it?”
Maddalena’s broad face grew a dusky red.
“That is nothing, Signora!” she said,
She looked greatly disturbed, suddenly
went over to the bed, unhooked the string from the
nail, and put the death-charm into her pocket.
As she came back she looked at Hermione with defiance
in her eyes.
The gulf between them had widened.
From the kitchen came the persistent
sound of whispering voices. The green parrot
turned sideways on the board beyond the pile of rolled-up
mattresses, and looked, with one round eye, steadfastly
An almost intolerable sensation of
desertion swept over her. She felt as if every
one hated her.
“Would you mind shutting that
door?” she said to Maddalena, pointing towards
The sound of whispers ceased.
The women within were listening.
“Signora, we always keep it open.”
“But I have something to say to you that I wish
to say in private.”
The exclamation was suspicious.
The voice sounded harsher than before. In the
kitchen the silence seemed to increase, to thrill with
“Please shut that door.”
It was like an order. Maddalena
obeyed it, despite a cataract of words from the old
woman that voiced indignant protest.
“And do sit down, won’t
you? I don’t like to sit while you are
“Signora, I ”
“Please do sit down.”
Hermione’s voice began to show
her acute nervous agitation. Maddalena stared,
then took another chair from its place against the
wall, and sat down at some distance from Hermione.
She folded her plump hands in her lap. Seated,
she looked bigger, more graceless, than before.
But Hermione saw that she was not really middle-aged.
Hard life and trouble doubtless had combined to destroy
her youth and beauty early, to coarsen the outlines,
to plant the many wrinkles that spread from the corners
of her eyes and lips to her temples and her heavy,
dusky cheeks. She was now a typical woman of
the people. Hermione tried to see her as a girl,
long ago years and years ago.
“I know your son Ruffo very well,” she
Maddalena’s face softened.
“Si, Signora. He has told me of you.”
Suddenly she seemed to recollect something.
“I have never Signora, thank you
for the money,” she said.
The harshness was withdrawn from her
voice as she spoke now, and in her abrupt gentleness
she looked much younger than before. Hermione
divined in that moment her vanished beauty. It
seemed suddenly to be unveiled by her tenderness.
“I heard you were in trouble.”
“Si, Signora great trouble.”
Her eyes filled with tears and her
mouth worked. As if moved by an uncontrollable
impulse, she thrust one hand into her dress, drew out
the death-charm, and contemplated it, at the same
time muttering some words that Hermione did not understand.
Her face became full of hatred. Holding up the
charm, and lifting her head, she exclaimed:
“Those who bring trouble shall have trouble!”
While she spoke she looked straight
before her, and her voice became harsh again, seemed
to proclaim to the world unalterable destiny.
“Yes,” said Hermione, in a low voice.
Maddalena hid the death-charm once
more with a movement that was surreptitious.
“Yes,” Hermione said again,
gazing into Maddalena’s still beautiful eyes.
“And you have trouble!”
Maddalena looked afraid, like an ignorant
person whose tragic superstition is proved true by
an assailing fact.
“You have trouble in your house.
Have you ever brought trouble to any one? Have
Maddalena stared at her with dilated
eyes, but made no answer.
“Tell me something.”
Hermione leaned forward. “You know my servant,
Maddalena was silent.
“You know Gaspare. Did you know him in
“Sicily?” Her face and
her voice had become stupid. “Sicily?”
The parrot shifted on the board, lifted
its left claw, and craned its head forward in the
direction of the two women. The tram-bell sounded
its reiterated appeal.
“Yes, in Sicily. You are a Sicilian?”
“Who says so?”
“Your son is a Sicilian. At the port they
call him ‘Il Siciliano.’”
Her intellect seemed to be collapsing. She looked
Hermione’s excitement began to be complicated
by a feeling of hot anger.
“But don’t you know it? You must
The parrot shuffled slowly along the
board, coming nearer to them, and bowing its head
obsequiously. Hermione could not help watching
its movements with a strained attention. Its
presence distracted her. She had a longing to
take it up and wring its neck. Yet she loved birds.
“You must know it!” she repeated, no longer
looking at Maddalena.
All ignorance and all stupidity were
surely enshrined in that word thus said.
“Where did you know Gaspare?”
“Who says I know Gaspare?”
The way in which she pronounced his
name revealed to Hermione a former intimacy between
“Ruffo says so.”
The parrot was quite at the edge of
the board now, listening apparently with cold intensity
to every word that was being said. And Hermione
felt that behind the kitchen door the two women were
straining their ears to catch the conversation.
Was the whole world listening? Was the whole
world coldly, cruelly intent upon her painful effort
to come out of darkness into perhaps a
“Ruffo says so. Ruffo told me so.”
“Boys say anything.”
“Do you mean it is not true?”
Maddalena’s face was now almost
devoid of expression. She had set her knees wide
apart and planted her hands on them.
“Do you mean that?” repeated Hermione.
“I know it is true. You
knew Gaspare in Sicily. You come from Marechiaro.”
At the mention of the last word light broke into Maddalena’s
“You are from Marechiaro.
Have you ever seen me before? Do you remember
Maddalena shook her head.
“And I I don’t remember you.
But you are from Marechiaro. You must be.”
Maddalena shook her head again.
“You are not?”
Hermione looked into the long Arab
eyes, searching for a lie. She met a gaze that
was steady but dull, almost like that of a sulky child,
and for a moment she felt as if this woman was only
a great child, heavy, ignorant, but solemnly determined,
a child that had learned its lesson and was bent on
repeating it word for word.
“Did Gaspare come here early
this morning to see you?” she asked, with sudden
Maddalena was obviously startled. Her face flushed.
“Why should he come?” she said, almost
“That is what I want you to tell me.”
Maddalena was silent. She shifted
uneasily in her chair, which creaked under her weight,
and twisted her full lips sideways. Her whole
body looked half-sleepily apprehensive. The parrot
watched her with supreme attention. Suddenly
Hermione felt that she could no longer bear this struggle,
that she could no longer continue in darkness, that
she must have full light. The contemplation of
this stolid ignorance that yet knew how
much? confronting her like a featureless
wall almost maddened her.
“Who are you?” she said. “What
have you had to do with my lie?”
Maddalena looked at her and looked
away, bending her head sideways till her plump neck
was like a thing deformed.
“What have you had to do with
my life? What have you to do with it now?
I want to know!” She stood up. “I
must know. You must tell me! Do you hear?”
She bent down. She was standing almost over Maddalena.
“You must tell me!”
There was again a silence through
which presently the tram-bell sounded. Maddalena’s
face had become heavily expressionless, almost like
a face of stone. And Hermione, looking down at
this face, felt a moment of impotent despair that
was succeeded by a fierce, energetic impulse.
“Then,” she said “then I’ll
Maddalena looked up.
“Yes, I’ll tell you.”
Hermione paused. She had begun
to tremble. She put one hand down to the back
of the chair, grasping it tightly as if to steady herself.
“I’ll tell you.”
What? What was she going to tell?
That first evening in Sicily just
before they went in to bed Maurice had
looked down over the terrace wall to the sea.
He had seen a light far down by the sea.
It was the light in the House of the Sirens.
“You once lived in Sicily.
You once lived in the Casa delle Sirene, beyond the
old wall, beyond the inlet. You were there when
we were in Sicily, when Gaspare was with us as our
Maddalena’s lips parted.
Her mouth began to gape. It was obvious that
she was afraid.
“You you knew Gaspare.
You knew you knew my husband, the Signore
of the Casa del Prete on Monte Amato.
You knew him. Do you remember?”
Maddalena only stared up at her with
a sort of heavy apprehension, sitting widely in her
chair, with her feet apart and her hands always resting
on her knees.
“It was in the summer-time ”
She was again in Sicily. She was tracing out
a story. It was almost as if she saw words and
read them from a book. “There were no forestieri
in Sicily. They had all gone. Only we were
there ” An expression so faint that
it was like a fleeting shadow passed over Maddalena’s
face, the fleeting shadow of something that denied.
“Ah, yes! Till I went away, you mean!
I went to Africa. Did you know it then?
But before I went before ”
She was thinking, she was burrowing deep down into
the past, stirring the heap of memories that lay like
drifted leaves. “They used to go at
least they went once down to the sea.
One night they went to the fishing. And they slept
out all night. They slept in the caves.
Ah, you know that? You remember that night!”
The trembling that shook her body
was reflected in her voice, which became tremulous.
She heard the tram-bell ringing. She saw the green
parrot listening on its board. And yet she was
in Sicily, and saw the line of the coast between Messina
and Cattaro, the Isle of the Sirens, the lakelike
sea of the inlet between it and the shore.
“I see that you remember it.
You saw them there. They they didn’t
As she said the last words she felt
that she was entering the great darkness. Maurice
and Gaspare she had trusted them with all
her nature. And they had they failed
her? Was that possible?
“They didn’t tell me,”
she repeated, piteously, speaking now only for herself
and to her own soul. “They didn’t
Maddalena shook her head like one
in sympathy or agreement. But Hermione did not
see the movement. She no longer saw Maddalena.
She saw only herself, and those two, whom she had
trusted so completely, and who had not
What had they not told her?
And then she was in Africa, beside
the bed of Artois, ministering to him in the torrid
heat, driving away the flies from his white face.
What had been done in the Garden of
Paradise while she had been in exile?
She turned suddenly sick. Her
body felt ashamed, defiled. A shutter seemed
to be sharply drawn across her eyes, blotting out life.
Her head was full of sealike noises.
Presently, from among these noises,
one detached itself, pushed itself, as it were, forward
to attract forcibly her attention the sound
of a boy’s voice.
A hand touched her, gripped her.
The shutter was sharply drawn back
from her eyes, and she saw Ruffo. He stood before
her, gazing at her. His hair, wet from the sea,
was plastered down upon his brown forehead as
his hair had been when, in the night, they
drew him from the sea.
She saw Ruffo in that moment as if for the first time.
And she knew. Ruffo had told her.