The Baldwin Library
THE HEART OF
HEART OF A BOY
A SCHOOLBOY'S JOURNAL
By EIDM(ONDO DE AMICIS
TRANSLATED FROM THE 224TH ITALIAN EDITION
BY PROF. G. MANTELLINI
EDITION DE LUiXE
CONTAINING 32 FULL-PAGE HA.LF-TONIE IENR(AVIN;aS
AND 2( TEXT ILLUSTRATIONS
LAIRD & LEE, PUBLISHERS
Entered according to Act of Congress in the year eighteen hun-
dred and ninety-five by
WM. H. LEE,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright. 1899, by
Wm. H. Lee.
The First Day of School,... . ... 9
Our Master, .. . . .. . 11
An Accident .... .. .......... 12
The Calabrian Boy, ... ... ....... 13
My Classmates . . . ... .. 15
A Noble Action, .... . . 16
My School Mistress of the Upper First, . ... 18
In an Attic, .. .. .. . ... . 20
The School, . . 22
The Little Patriot of Padua, . . ... 23
The Chimney Sweep, ..... . 25
All Souls' Day, ... . .. . . 27
My Friend Garrone,. ...... . 28
The Charcoal Man and the Gentleman, ... . ... 30
My Brother's School-Mistress, ... . . 31
My Mother, .. .. .. . .. 33
My Companion Coretti, ........... .. 35
The Principal of the School, .. . . 39
The Soldiers, ...... . . . 40
The Protector of Nelli,. .. .. .. . 42
The First of the Class, .... .. . .. ... .44
The Little Vidette of Lombardy, .. .... 43
The Poor, .... ..... .. .. 51
The Trading Boy, ... .. . 53
Vanity, . ..... . ... .. 54
The First Snow Storm,.. . ..... 56
The Little Mason, . .. 58
A Snow Ball, . ... .. 59
The School-Mistress, : . . . 62
In the Home of the Wounded Man, .
The Little Florentine Writer, .
W ill, . . ..
Gratitude, . . .
The Substitute .. .....
Stardi's Library, . ... .
The Son of the Blacksmith, .
A Nice Visit, . . .
The Funeral of Vittorio Emanuele, .
Franti Expelled from School, .
The Sardinian Drummer Boy,
The Love of Our Country,....
Envy, . . .
Franti's Mother, . .
Hope, . . .
A Well-Awarded Medal, .. ..
Good Resolutions, .. ...
The Little Railway Train,....
Pride . . .
The Wounds of Work . ..
The Prisoner, . . .
Papa's Nurse, ....
The Workshop, .. ...
The Little Clown .. .....
The Last Day of the Carnival, .
The Blind Boys, . .
The Sick Master, .. ...
The Street, . . .
The Evening Schools, .. ..
The Fight, . .
The Boy's Relatives, .. ...
Number 78 ... .
The Little Dead Boy, .. ..
The Eve of the Fourteenth of March,
The Distribution of Prizes, ..
A Quarrel, . . .
My Sister, . . .
. . 65
. . 72
. . 74
Blood of Romagna, . .
The Little Mason Seriously Ill, .
The Count Cavour, . ...
Spring,... . .
King Umberto, . .
The Infant Asylum . .
At the Gymnasium, . ..
My Father's Teacher, . .
Convalescence, .. ...
The Friend of the Workman, .
Garrone's Mother, . .
Giuseppe Mazzini, . ...
Civic Valor, . .
The Children with the Rickets,
Sacrifice, . . .
The Fire, . .
From the Apennines to the Andes,
Summer, . . .
Poetry, . . .
The Deaf and Dumb Girl,....
Garibaldi, . . .
The Army, . .
Italy, . . .
Thirty-two Degrees Centigrade, .
My Father, . ..
In the Country, . . .
The Distribution of Prizes to the Workmen,
My Dead School-Mistress, .. ..
Thanks, . . .
A Shipwreck, . .
The Last Page from My Mother, .
The Examination . .....
The Last Examination, . ...
Farewell, ... ... .
. . 160
. . 168
. . 172
. . 282
Portrait of Edmondo de Amicis, . . .
Poor, tired, little chap, ... ....
. others, seeing their parents leave, began to cry, .
He pointed to Reggio di Calabria on the wall map of Italy, .
Then Garroni said resolutely: "It was I," . .
. in a few rough words the child told his story, .
A tempest of coins fell upon their heads, . .
It was Coretti carrying a load of wood . .
That boy resembled perfectly his own lost son, .. ..
The band surrounded by a crowd of boys, . .
And he slept there in the grass . . .
Coming down with a log to warm the school-room, .
She plays the part of mother toward them . .
The old man had his right eye bandaged. . .
His brow leaning against his son's heart, . .
They darted out of the house with lowered bayonets, .
At that moment passed the military surgeon, .
Upon the litter, a man as white as a corpse, . .
S. he went every day to teach the prisoners in the jail,.
A boy, dressed as a peasant and with a bundle,....
The sister drew the curtains saying, "This is your father,"
The blind children at their music lesson, .. ..
A mother dreaming of her absent boy, ... .
The old teacher opened a narrow drawer, .. .
The child wrested his friend from the river .....
'Poor little shriveled and distorted bodies !" .
"I will do everything you wish-everything!" .
He stood looking at the convoy until it vanished, ..
They were Indians, . .....
Worn out, the boy fell on the wayside, . .
We went along, running and rolling, .. .. .
The funeral of the dead school-mistress, . .
A number of them were kneeling around the priest,
SThis book is particularly dedi-
S -- cated to boys of the elementary
schools, between the ages of nine to thirteen years, and it
might be called, "History of a School Year, by a pupil of
the Third Grade of a Public School in Italy."
By saying that it was written by a pupil of the third grade,
I do not wish to convey the idea that it was written by him
entire, or as it appears in print. The boy noted down success-
ively in a copy-book, what he knew, what he saw, what he
felt, thought and experienced inside and outside the school;
and his father, at the end of the year, wrote these pages from
those notes, endeavoring not to alter the thought but to pre-
serve, as near as possible, even the words used by his son.
The latter, however, four years later, having entered the High
School, re-read the manuscript and added to it something of
his own, drawing upon his memory, still fresh, of the people
Now read this book, boys. I hope it will please you and
do you some good.
- ,- ~s~ r u. -E
Poor, tired, little chap.
THE HEART OF A BOY
THE! FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL.
Monday the r7tk.
This is the first day of school. My three months spent in
the country passed like a dream. This morning my mother
took me to the Baretti school to have me entered for the third
elementary grade. I was thinking of the country and went
reluctantly. The streets were swarming with boys; the book-
sellers' shops crowded with fathers and mothers who were
buying bags, portfolios, and copybooks; and so many people
thronged in front of the school that a janitor and policeman
had a very hard time keeping the entrance clear.
Near the door, some one touched me on the shoulder; it was
my teacher of the second elementary. Always cheerful, he said:
"'Well, Enrico, are we separated forever? "
I knew it too well, still those words pained me.
We made our way through the crowd with difficulty.
Ladies, gentlemen, women of the middle class, workingmen,
officers, grandmothers, servants, each leading a boy with one
hand and holding the books of promotion with the other, were
crowding the entrance and the stairway, making such a buzzing
that it seemed like entering a theatre. I saw with pleasure the
large hall on the ground floor with the doors of the seven class
rooms where I had passed nearly every day for three years.
There was a crowd of school mistresses coming and going. She
TH'I HEART OF A BOY
who had taught me in the first upper class saluted me from the
door of her room and said:
Enrico, you go upstairs this year, I shall not even see you
pass!" and looked at me with sadness. The principal had
around him mothers in distress because there was no room for
their children, and it seemed to me that his beard was a little
whiter than it was last year. I also noticed that some of the
boys had grown taller and stouter.
On the ground floor, where the divisions had already been
made, there were children of the first and lowest grade who did
not want to enter the class-room and who balked like donkeys;
it was necessary to push them in; some escaped again from
their benches; others, seeing their parents leave, commenced to
cry, and the father or mother would return to offer consolation
or take them home again, and the teachers were in despair.
My little brother was to enter the class of Mistress Delcati;
I was put in that of Master Perboni up on the first floor.
At ten o'clock we were all in the class-room; fifty-four of us;
only fifteen or sixteen of my class-mates of the second grade,
among whom was Derossi, the one who always wins the first
prize. The school-room seemed small and sad to me. I was
thinking of the woods and mountains where I had spent the
summer. I was also thinking of my teacher of the second
class; -he was so good and always laughed with us, and so small
that he seemed like a companion, and I was sorry not to see
him there with his bushy red hair. Our present teacher is tall,
with long hair and no beard, and he has a straight wrinkle
across his forehead. His voice is heavy and he looks at us
fixedly, as though to read our inmost thoughts; I do not think
he ever laughs. I was saying to myself: This is the first
day. Nine more months. How much work, how many
monthly examinations, how much fatigue! I felt the need of
finding my mother at the close. I ran to her and kissed her
hand. She said: Courage, Enrico! we will study together,"
and I returned home happy. But I no longer have my master
Others, seeing their parents leave, be~ega to cry.
r;: R VIIf~JI
THE HEART OF A BOY
with his kind and cheerful smile, and the school does not seem
so pleasant to me as it did last year.
Tuesday the 8thz.
My new teacher pleases me since this morning. While we
were coming in, he stood at his post, and many of his pupils
of last year peeped in through the door to salute him:
" Good day, Signor teacher," Good day, Signor Perboni;"
some would enter, touch his hand and run away. It was plain
that they liked him and would have been pleased to remain
with him. He answered : Good day," shook the hands that
were tendered him, but looked at no one, and at every salute
remained serious, with the straight wrinkle on his forehead,
turning his head toward the window and looking at the roof of
the house opposite. Instead of enjoying those salutations he
seemed to suffer from them. Then he looked at us, one after
the other, attentively. While dictating, he came walking
down between the benches, and seeing a scholar whose face
was all red with pimples, he paused, took the boy's face be-
tween his hands and looked at him; asked the cause of the
trouble and felt his forehead to see if it were warm. In the
meanwhile, the boy behind him stood up on the bench and be-
gan to play the marionette. Our master turned around sud-
denly; the boy sat down quickly and awaited his punishment.
The teacher placed his hand on his head and said: Do not
do it any more! and returned to his desk. When he had
finished dictating, he looked at us silently for a moment, and
then said very slowly, in his heavy yet kind voice:
Listen, we have a year to pass together, let us seek to
pass it well. Study and be good. I have no family. You
may take the place of my family. I had a mother last year
but she is dead. I have no one else in the world now but you.
THE HEART OF A BOY
I have no other affection, no other thought than you. You
must be my sons; I love you; you must love me. I do not
want to be obliged to punish any one. Show me that you are
boys with good hearts, and our school will be a family and you
will be my consolation and my pride. I do not ask a promise
of you, I am sure that in your hearts you have already told me
yes' and I thank you."
At that moment the janitor came in to announce that the
class was over, and we left our desks very quietly. The boy
who had stood up on his bench approached the master and
said to him in a trembling voice :
"'Signor master, will you forgive me ?"
The master kissed his forehead and said: Go, my son."
Friday the 2ist.
The year has commenced with an accident. Going to school
this morning, I was repeating the words of the teacher to my
father, when we beheld the street thronged with people who
were crowding in front of the school. My father said: "An
accident! the year commences badly."
We entered with some difficulty. The large hall was so
crowded with relatives of the boys that the teachers could
hardly reach their class-rooms, and all were turned toward the
principal's room and we could hear them saying, "Poor boy."
"Poor Robetti! "
Above the heads at the further end of the room, which was
thronged with people, one could see the helmet of a policeman
and the bald head of the principal; then a gentleman with a
silk hat entered and they all said: It is the doctor." My
father asked a teacher what was the matter, and he answered:
"A wheel passed over his foot." It crushed his foot," said
another. "It is a boy of the second grade, who, when
TH I HLART OP A BOY
coming to school through the street Dora Grossa, saw a child
of the first grade, who had run away from his mother, fall in
the middle of the street only a few steps from an omnibus
which was coming upon him. He ran and caught up the boy
and put him in safety, but not being quick enough to withdraw
his own foot, the omnibus had passed over it. He is the son
of an artillery captain." While they were telling us this, a lady
entered the room looking like a crazy woman, breaking her
way through the crowd. It was the mother of Robetti, for
whom they had sent. Another lady ran to meet her and threw
her arms around her neck, sobbing; it was the mother of the
child who had been saved. Both ran into the room and a des-
perate cry was heard: Oh, my Giulio, my child! "
At that moment a carriage stopped in front of the door, and
the principal appeared with the boy in his arms, the sufferer's
head leaning upon his shoulder, with a white face and closed
eyes. All were silent, and one could hear the mother sobbing.
The principal stopped a moment, raised the boy with both arms
and showed him to the people. Then masters, mistresses, par-
ents and boys murmured together: "Bravo, Robetti! Bravo, poor
boy! They threw kisses at him, and the mistresses and boys
who were near him kissed his hands and his arms. He opened
his eyes and said: "My satchel! The mother of the boy
who had been saved showed it to him and said: I will bring
it for you, you angel, I will bring it for you." In the mean-
time she was sustaining the mother of the wounded boy, who
covered her face with both hands. They went out, laid the
boy in the carriage, which was driven away. Then we all
entered the class room silently.
THI CALABRIAN BOY
Saturday the 22nd.
Last evening, while the teacher was giving us the news of
poor Robetti-who will be compelled to walk on crutches for a
THE HEART OF A BOY
time-the principal entered the class room with a new pupil, a
boy with a brown face, black hair, big black eyes, and with
thick eyebrows which met between his eyes. He was dressed
in dark clothes with a black leather belt around his waist.
The principal, after whispering into the ear of the master, left
the boy with him. He looked at us with his big black eyes as
though he were frightened. Then the master took him by the
hand, and said to the class: You must congratulate your-
selves. To-day there enters the school a little Italian boy, born
at Reggio di Calabria, more than five hundred miles away from
here. You must love your brother who comes from so far.
He was born in that glorious country which has given to Italy
many illustrious men, that still gives her strong workers and
brave soldiers; where there are great forests and high moun-
tains; one of the finest parts of our land, inhabited by people
full of talent and courage. Do love him in a way that will
make him forget that he is far away from the place where he
was born. Demonstrate to him that an Italian boy, no matter
in what Italian school he may be placed, will find brothers
there." After saying this, he arose and pointed out on the
wall map of Italy the place where Reggio di Calabria is situ-
ated. Then he called:
"Ernest Derossi," the one who always gets the first prize.
Derossi stood up.
Come here," said the master. Derossi left the bench and
went and stood by the desk opposite the Calabrian boy.
As the first in the school," said the master, "give a wel-
come to your new companion, the welcome of a boy of Pied-
mont to the son of Calabria."
Derossi embraced the Calabrian boy, saying with his clear
voice, Welcome! and the latter kissed him on both cheeks
with impetuosity. All clapped their hands. "Silence! cried
the master; "one does not clap hands at school;" but one
could see that he was happy; the Calabrian boy was also happy.
-H pointed to Reggio di Calabria on the wall map of Italy.
THE HEART OF A BOY
The master assigned him his place and accompanied him to
his desk, then he said :
"'Remember what I am about to tell you. In order that a
Calabrian boy might be at home in Turin, and that a boy of
Turin be welcome in Reggio di Calabria, our country fought for
fifty years and thirty thousand Italians died. You must respect
each other, love each other, and any one who would offend his
class-mate because he was not born in our province would
rende, himself ever unworthy to raise his eyes when the flag
of our country passes."
As soon as the Calabrian boy was seated in his place, his
neighbors presented him with some pens and a picture, and
another boy from the last bench sent him a rare Swedish post-
Tuesday the 25th.
The boy who sent the postage stamp to the Calabrian boy
is the one I like best. He is called Garrone; is the tallest of
the class, and is almost fourteen years old. He has a large head
and broad shoulders. He is good, one can see that when he
smiles, but it seems to me that he is all the time thinking like
a man. I already know the names of my classmates. There
is another one I like; his name is Coretti, and he wears a knit-
ted chi. .lat, colored coat and a cat-skin cap. He is always
iolly; he is the son of a huckster of wood, who was a soldier in
the war of '66, in the army of Prince Humbert, and I have
heard he has three medals. There is little Nelli, a hunchback,
a frail boy with a pale face. There is one very well dressed,
who wears fine velvet and who is called Votini. On the bench
near me there is a boy whom they call "'The Little Mason "
because his father is a mason. His face is round like an apple,
his nose is like a ball, and he has a particular skill for making
the "hare's face." He wears a little soft hat which he dou-
bles up like a handkerchief and puts in his pocket. Next to the
THE HEART OF A BOY
Little Mason, there is Garoffi, a tall, thin fellow with a nose
like an owl's beak and very small eyes. He is always trading
marbles, pictures, match boxes, and stamps. He writes his
lessons on his nails to read when the teacher is not watching
him. There is also a little gentleman called Carlo Nobis. He
looks as though he were rather proud, and he sits between two
boys whom I like very much; one is the son of a blacksmith
ironmonger. He wears a big coat which reaches down to his
knees, seems fearful of saying much and never laughs. The
other is a lad with red hair who has a withered arm which he
carries in a sling suspended from his neck. His father has gone
to America, and his mother goes around selling green vegetables.
Stardi, my neighbor on the left, is a curious type. He is a
little fellow, heavily built, a grumbler who never speaks to
any one and seems to understand very little. He pays atten-
tion to the teacher without winking, with his forehead wrinkled
and his teeth shut tight. If spoken to while the master speaks,
the first and second time he does not answer, but the third time
he kicks. He has next to him a boy with a shrewd face. His
name is Franti, and he has already been expelled from another
school. There are also two brothers who look as much alike
as two drops of water. They both wear hats Calabrian in
style with a pheasant feather stuck in the top. But the hand-
somest and most talented one of all, he who will surely be the
first this year, is Derossi; and the teacher, who has already
comprehended this, questions him all the time. However, I
like Precossi, the son of the blacksmith ironmonger, the boy
who wears the long jacket, and who looks so scared ; they say his
father beats him. He is very timid, and every time he questions
or touches any one, he says Excuse me," and looks up with
his sad, gentle eyes. But Garrone is the bravest and the best.
A NOBLE ACTION.
Wednesday the 26th.
Garrone made himself known this morning. When I
THE HEART OF A BOY
entered the school (a little late, as I had been stopped by
my old teacher of the first grade, who asked me at what time
she might come to see us at home) the teacher had not yet
arrived, and three or four boys were tormenting poor Crossi,
the one with red hair, who has a paralyzed arm and whose
mother sells green vegetables. They would poke him with
rulers, throw chestnut burrs in his face, and call him ''cripple"'
and "'monster," mimicking him as he appeared with his with-
ered arm suspended by the sling from his neck. He was all
alone at his end of the bench looking like a dead person, and
was listening, looking first at one and then at another with
supplicating eyes, beseeching them to let him alone, but they
ridiculed him still more and he commenced to tremble and
redden with rage. All of a sudden Franti, the one with the
ugly face, jumped on the bench, pretending that he was carry-
ing two baskets'on his arms, aping Crossi's mother as she used
to come and wait for her son at the door; for now she is ill.
Many began to laugh loudly. Then Crossi lost his head, and
grasping an ink-stand he threw it with all his might at the head
of Franti, who dodged it, and it struck the chest of the teacher,
who was just entering the school room. The boys. all scam-
pered to their places and were silent and frightened.
The teacher, pallid, ascended to his desk and in an altered
"Who did it?"
No one answered.
The teacher looked again, raising his voice, and demanded :
"Who did it?"
Then Garrone, moved with pity for poor Crossi, rose with
a dash and said, resolutely: It was I."
The teacher looked at him, and then at the other pupils, as
though stupified, and said in a tranquil voice: No, it was
After a moment, he added: "The guilty one will not be
punished; let him rise."
THE HEART OF A BOY
Crossi rose and said, crying: "They were beating me,
they were insulting me, and I lost my head and threw--
"'Sit down,"' said the teacher. "'Those who provoked him
Four arose with bowed heads.
"You," said the teacher, "'you have insulted a companion
who did not provoke you; you have marked an unfortunate
boy, tormented a weak one who could not defend himself. You
have committed one of the lowest acts, one of the most shame-
ful that can stain a human creature. Cowards! "
Having said this, he descended among the benches, put a
hand under Garrone's chin, who sat with his head down, mak-
ing him raise his face; he looked straight into his eyes and
said: "You are a noble soul! "
Garrone, profiting by the moment, murmured something in
the ear of the master, who turned toward the guilty ones and
said: I forgive you."
MY SCHOOL MISTRESS OF THE UPPER FIRST
Thursday the 271h.
My old teacher has kept her word. She called at the house
to-day, just as I was going out with my mother to take wash-
ing to a poor woman mentioned in the paper. It was a year
since we had seen her in our home, and we all greeted her
cheerfully. She is not changed; still the same little woman
with a large green veil around her head, plainly dressed and
her hair carelessly arranged. She has no time to make herself
look nice. She has a little less color than she had last year,
has some white hair, and coughs all the time. My mother said
Dear teacher, you do not take good care of yourself."
Oh, never mind," she answered with a pleasant, but
Then Garroni said resolutely: "It was 1."
a;42;~r;z~ ?'lb i.
THE HEART OF A BOY
"You strain your voice so," suggested my mother. ''You
do too much for the boys."
It is true one can always hear her voice. I remember
when I was going to her school, she always spoke so that the
boys would not become inattentive, and she would not remain
seated for a moment. I Was very sure she would come be-
cause she never forgets her pupils. She remembers their
names year by year, and on the days of the monthly examina-
tion, runs to the principal to ask how many points they have
made. She waits for them at the exit and has them show their
compositions to see whether they have made progress. Some
of the boys from the high school, who wear long trousers and
carry a watch, still come to see her. To-day she was return-
ing, all out of breath, from the Pinacoteca (picture gallery)
where she had taken her boys. Last year she took her pupils
every Thursday to a museum and explained everything to them.
Poor mistress; she has grown thinner than of old, but she is
still lively. She always becomes animated when any one
speaks to her of the school. She wished to see again the bed
where she beheld me sick two years ago, and which is now my
brother's; she looked at it for awhile and could not speak. She
could not stay long as she had to go and visit a boy of her
class who is sick with the measles, the son of a saddler close by.
Besides, she had a bundle of papers to correct, an evening's
work, and two private lessons in arithmetic to give to a woman
who keeps a shop, before night came.
"'Well, Enrico,"' she said to me when going, "'do you still
love your mistress, now that you are able to solve a difficult
problem and can write a long composition ?" She kissed me
and called up from the bottom of the stairs: Do not forget
me, Enrico! "
Oh, my good mistress, never, never will I forget you.
When I am a big fellow, I will still remember you and will go
to see you among your boys, and every time I pass near a
school and hear the voice of a mistress, it will seem to me that
THE HEART OF A BOY
I hear your voice, and I will live over again the two years
which I spent in your school, where I learned many things;
where I saw you so many times so sick and tired, yet always
so cheerful, so intelligent, and in despair if one acquired some
bad way of holding the pen; trembling when the examiner
questioned us, happy when we made a good showing; always
good, always loving like a mother. Never, never, will I forget
you, my mistress!
IN AN ATTIC
Friday the 28th.
Last evening, my mother, sister and I went to take some
clothes to a poor woman recommended for charity by the
newspaper. I carried the
parcel and Silvia had the
". newspaper with the initials
,-- Ii of her name, and the ad-
-llil \ dress. We went up under
the roof of a high house,
S. through a long corridor
Switch many doors. My
'" i, i!, mother knocked at the last
S11' one and a woman opened
1it; she was a blonde, still
young but thin. It oc-
i ---- cured to me at once that I
had seen her somewhere
S- before with that same blue
-^ -. --. handkerchief worn on her
/ / head.
"Are you the woman
mentioned in the newspaper as so and so? asked my mother.
"Yes, Signora, I am."
"Well, we have brought you some clothes." Then the
THE HEART OF A BOY
woman began so thank and bless us without end. In the mean-
while, I saw in a corner of the bare, dark room, a boy kneeling
before a chair with his back turned toward us; he looked as
though he were writing, and he was, indeed, writing, with his
paper on the chair.
How can he write in the dark? While I said this to
myself, I suddenly recognized the red hair and jean jacket of
Crossi, the boy with the paralyzed arm, the son of the vegeta-
ble vender. I told it softly to my mother, while the woman
was putting away the clothes.
Hush," said my mother. Maybe he is ashamed to see
you because you bestow charity on his mother; do not call
At that moment, Crossi turned around and I felt embar-
rassed ; he smiled, and my mother gave me a push to make me
run and embrace him. I did so, and he arose to his feet and
took my hand. Then his mother said:
I am here all alone with this boy; my husband has been
in America for six years; besides, I am sick so that I cannot
go around selling green vegetables and earn a few soldi. I
have not even a table left, upon which my poor little Luigino
can do his work. When I had a bench down at the door, he
could at least write on that; but even that has been taken
away, and he has not even a little light by which to study
without ruining his eyes. It is fortunate for me that I can
send him to school, as the municipality provides him with
books and copy-books. Poor little Luigino, who would study
so willingly. Miserable woman that I am."
My mother gave her the contents of het purse and kissed
the boy, who almost cried when we left. She did right to tell
me: "'Look at the poor boy, how he is obliged to work; and
you, you have all the comforts and still study seems hard to
you. Ah, my Enrico, there is more in one day of his work
than in a year of yours. Such pupils ought to be given the
THE HEART OF A BOY
Yes, dear Enrico, study is hard, as thy mother tells thee.
Yet, I do not see thee go to school with that resolute mind and
smilingface, as I would like. Thou art still stubborn; but, listen,
think a little how miserable and despicable thy days would be if
thou didst not go to school! At the end of a week thou wouldst
ask with clasped hands to return again, wearied by annoyance and
shame, tired of thy new toys, and of thy own existence. Every-
body studies now, Enrico. Think of the workmen who go to
school in the evening, after having worked all day; of the women
and girls of the laboring class, who go to school on Sunday, after
having worked all week; of the soldiers who take up their reading
and writing books after they return tired from their drilling;
think of the deaf and dumb boys and of the blind, who also
study ; even prisoners learn to read and write. Think in the
morning, when thou goest out, that on that very mot ning, in thy
own town, there are thirty thousand boys, going like thyself, to
shut themselves in for three hours in order to study. Then again!
Think of the innumerable crowds of boys who go to school about
the same hour in all countries. Think of them--in thy imagi-
nation, while they are going-going through village by-ways,
through noisy streets, along the shores of the sea and of the lakes,
through the mist or under the burning sun; in little boats, in
countries where there are canals, on horseback through great
prairies, in sleighs over the snow, over mountains and hills,
through woods and across torrents, up through solitary paths of
the mountains; alone, in couples, in groups, in long files; all with
books under their arms, clothed in a thousand different costumes.
speaking a thousand different tongues, from the remotest schools
of Russia, almost lost in the ice, to the remotest schools of Arabia
shaded with palm trees,; millions and millions, all going to learn
the same things in a hundred different ways. Imagine these vast
multitudes of boys from hundreds of nations, this immense move-
ment of which you form a part. And know that if this movement
were to cease, humanity would fall back into barbarism. This
1t a few rough words the child told his story.
THE HEART OF A BOY
movement is the progress, the hope, the glory of the world.
Have courage then, thou little soldier of this immense army.
Thy books are thy weapons, the whole world thy field of battle; and
the victory is human civilization. Do not be a cowardly soldier,
my Enrico. Thy Father.
THE LITTLE PATRIOT OF PADUA
Saturday the 2zth.
No, I will not be a cowardly soldier," but I would go to
school more willingly if the teacher would tell us a story every
day like the one he told us this morning. He says he will tell
us one every month. He will give it to us in writing, and it
will always be a tale of noble and true acts performed by a
boy. "The Little Patriot of Padua" is the title of this. Here
A French steamer left Barcelona, a city in Spain, for
Genoa. There were on board Frenchmen, Italians, Spaniards,
and Swiss. There was among the others a boy of eleven,
apparently quite alone, who kept himself aloof like a savage.
And no wonder he looked at every one with forbidding eyes.
Two years previous to this, his father had sold him to the
master of a company of mountebanks, who after having taught
him to perform tricks by dint of beatings, kicks and fasting,
had taken him across France and Spain, abusing him very
often and never giving him enough to eat.
Arriving at Barcelona, no longer able to stand the ill-treat-
ments and hunger, reduced to a pitiable state, he had run
away from his tormenters and had gone to ask protection of
the Consul of Italy, who moved, with pity, had put him on
board that steamer, giving him a letter to the chief of police in
Genoa, who was ordered to send him back to the parents who
had sold him like a beast.
THE HEART OF A. BOY
The poor boy was ragged and sickly looking. They had
given him a second-class cabin. All looked at him, some
questioned him, but he did not answer, and seemed to hate and
despise everyone. So much privation and so many blows had
irritated and spoiled him. Three of the passengers, however,
by insisting with their questions had succeeded in making him
loosen his tongue, and in a few rough words, a mixture of
Venetian, Spanish and French, he told his story. Those three
passengers were not Italians, but they understood him, and
partly from compassion, more because excited by wine, they
gave him a few soldi, joking, jesting, and urging him to tell
them more. Several ladies having entered the salon at that
moment, two or three of them, for the purpose of making a
show of themselves, gave him some more money, crying:
" Take this, take that," and making the money sound upon
The boy pocketed everything, thanking them in a subdued
voice in his brusque manner, but with a look for the first time
smiling and affectionate. Then he climbed up to his berth,
pulled the curtains, and remained thinking of his own affairs.
With that money he could enjoy a good meal on board, after
two years of starvation! He could buy himself a jacket, as
soon 'as he landed in Genoa. For two years he had gone
dressed.in rags! He could also take some home, and be re-
ceived by his father and mother a little more humanely than if
he arrived there penniless. It was a little fortune for him. He
was thinking of all this and taking comfort in his thoughts be-
hind the curtain of his cabin, while the three passengers were
talking, seated at the dining table in the middle of the second-
class salon. They were drinking and talking about their trav-
els and of the countries they had visited, going from one topic
to another. At last, they began to discuss Italy. One com-
menced to complain about the hotels, another about the rail-
roads; and then, growing warmer, they all began to abuse
everything. One would prefer to travel in Lapland," said
tI f*o I
A temqzest of coins fell ufpon liheir heads.
THE HEART OF A BOY
one; another, had found in Italy none but swindlers and
brigands." The third added that Italian officials did not know
how to read.
"'An ignorant people,'' repeated the first.
"A filthy people," quoth the second.
Rob- exclaimed the third, meaning to say robbers,
but could not finish his word. A tempest of soldi and half-lire
fell upon their heads and shoulders and leaped upon the table
and floor, making a great noise. All three arose at once,
looking up, and received another handful of coin upon their
Take back your soldi,"' said the boy disdainfully, looking
out between the curtains of his berth, I do not accept alms
from those who insult my country!"
THE. CHIMNEY SWEEP
Tuesday the ist.
Last evening, I went to the girls' school building, next to
our own, in order to give the story of the boy from Padua to
Silvia's teacher, who wanted to read it. There are seven
hundred girls in this school! When I arrived, they were just
coming out, all happy on account of the vacation of All Souls'
day, and something beautiful took place before my eyes. In
front of the door of the school, on the other side of the street,
a chimney sweep stood, leaning with his head on his arm
against the wall. He was a very small lad, all black in the
face, with his bag and scraper, and he was crying and sobbing
as though his heart would break. Two or three of the girls
of the second grade approached him and asked:
What is the matter with you? Why do you cry in this
way?" But he did not answer and kept on crying.
26 THE HEART OF A BOY
"But tell us, why do you weep?" repeated the girls.
Then he raised his head from his arm, showing the face of a
baby, and said,weeping: I have been in many houses to sweep
the chimneys and earned thirty soldi; but
I have lost them, they slipped through a
SI hole in my pocket,"'' and he showed the
pocket which had a rip in it. He further
said that he did not dare go home without
V "The master will beat me," he sobbed,
and again dropped his head on his arm,
as though he were in deep despair. The:
Girls stopped a moment and looked at
him sorrowfully. In the meanwhile,
St other girls had gathered around him,
_rich and poor, with their satchels on their
arms. One, who had a blue feather in
S- her hat, pulled from her pocket two
Ssoldi and said:
I have nothing but two soldi, let us
make a collection."
I also have two soldi," said another
dressed in red, "we will be able to find thirty among all of
us," and they began to collect, calling aloud: Amalia!
Luigia! Annina! A soldo! Who has any soldi? Here are
Some of them had soldi with which to buy flowers and
writing books, and they gave them. Others, smaller ones, gave
some centesimi, and the one with the blue feather collected
everything and counted in a loud voice:
Eight, ten, fifteen ; but more was needed. Then, one of
the largest of them appeared; she looked like a young lady,
and gave a half-lira, and all began to cheer her. Still five
soldi were lacking.
"Now some of the fourth grade are coming, and they have
THE HEART OF A BOY 27
some," said one. Those of the fourth class came, and the
soldi fell down in a shower. They all hurried forward eagerly.
It was a fine sight to see that poor chimney sweep in the midst
-of those girls, dressed in so many different colors; it looked
like a whirl of feathers, ribbons and girls. The thirty soldi
had been collected, and more were giving; -the little ones who
had no money would make their way among the larger ones,
throwing him their bouquets of flowers in order that they
might give something. All of a sudden the janitress came out
The signora directress! The girls scampered away on
all sides like a flock of birds, and, at that moment, the little
chimney sweep was seen standing alone in the middle of the
street, wiping his eyes. He was happy with his hands full of
money, and he had. in the button holes of his jacket, in his
pockets, and on his hat, bouquets of flowers, and there were
some on the ground at his feet.
Wednesday the 2d.
This day is consecrated to commemorate the dead. Dost thou
know, Enrico, to whose death you boys should dedicate a thought
on this day? To those who have died for you-for boys and for
all children. How many have died, and how many are continu-
ally dying! Hast thou ever thought how many fathers have
worn out their lives by toiling? How many mothers have de-
scended into their graves before their time, used up by privation
to which they had condemned themselves for the sake of sustain-
ing their children? Dost thouz know how many men put a knife
in their hearts, in despair, rather than see their children in mis-
ery, and how many women drown themselves, or die of grief, or
go insane because they have lost a child? Think of all these dead
THE HEART OF A BOY
ones on this very day, Enrico. Think, too, of the many school-
mistesses who have died young, who were consumed by the
fatigues of the school, for the love of children, whom they had
not the heart to leave. Think of the many physicians who
have died from contagious diseases, having courageously sac-
rificed themselves to cure children. Think, too, of all those
who have perished in shipwrecks, in fires, in times of famine,
who in the supreme moment of danger have yielded to infancy the
last morsel of bread, the last hope of escape, -the last place of
safety, and who expire, glad of their sacrifice, since they have
saved the life of a little innocent. They are innumerable, En-
rico. Every cemetery contains hundreds of these sainted beings.
If they could rise a moment f om their graves, they would cry the
name of some child for whom they sacrificed the joys of youth, the
peace of old age, all affection, their intelligence, their life; young
mothers of twenty, men in the bloom of youth, octogenarians, old
women, young men, heroic and obscure martyrs to infancy; so
many who were great and noble, that the earth does not produce
flowers enough to cover their graves. Think to-day with grati-
tude of those dead, and thou wilt be better and more affectionate
to those who live and toil for thee, dear fortunate son, who in the
"Day of the Dead"' hast no one for whom to weep.
MY FRIEND GARRONE
Friday the 4th.
There were only two days of vacation, and yet it seems to
me such a long time since I have seen Garrone. The more I
know him, the better I like him, and it is so with all the others
except those who are overbearing and are not friendly toward
him, because he does not allow them to indulge their oppres-
sion. Every time any one of them raises his hand over a little
fellow the little fellow cries: Garrone!" and the big boy
does not strike him any more. His father is an engineer on
THE HEART OF A BOY
the railroad. He commenced late to go to school because he
was ill for two years. He is the tallest and strongest of the
class; he can raise a bench with one hand. He eats all the
time. He is good; one may ask anything of him, chalk,
rubber, paper, or pen-knife ; he lends or gives everything away,
and he never whispers or laughs in school. He keeps quiet on
his bench,-which is rather narrow for him,-with his back
bent and his head bowed. When I look at him, he smiles with
his eyes half closed as though he would say: "Well, Enrico,
are we friends? But he makes me laugh. Tall and big as
he is, he wears a jacket, trousers, sleeves, everything too small
for him; a hat that will hardly set on his head, thick shoes, a
cravat tied like a string around his neck, and he has his hair
clipped. Poor Garrone, to look into his face is to like him.
All the little ones like to sit near him. He knows his arith-
metic well. He carries his books in a pile bound with a strap of
red leather. He has a knife with mother-of-pearl handle which
he found last year in the field for military manceuvring, and
once he cut his finger to the bone with it; but no one at school
knew it and he said nothing at home for fear he might frighten
his parents. He takes with good nature anything told him in
jest and he is never offended; but woe to the one who tells him:
" It isn't true !" When he affirms a thing, fire flashes from
his eyes, and he hammers upon the desk with his fist hard
enough to split it. Saturday morning, he gave a soldo to a boy
of the first upper, who.was in the street, because some one had
stolen the boy's soldo and he could not buy himself a copy-book.
Garrone has been working for three days, making a pen orna-
mentation around an eight-page letter for the Saint's Day"
of his mother, who often comes to take him home, and who is
tall and stout like him, and looks rather pleasant. The teacher
always notices Garrone and every time he comes by him puts
his hand on his head. I am very fond of him. I am sure,that
he would risk his life to save a companion, that he would allow
himself to be killed in order to defend him; one can see
THE HEART OF A BOY
this so clearly in his eyes ; and,, although it seems as though he
always grumbles with his.big voice, it is unquestionably a voice
which comes from a kindly heart.
THE CHARCOAL MAN AND THE GENTLEMAN
Monday the 7th.
Garroie would never have said what Carlo Nobis said yes-
terday morning to Betti. Carlo Nobis is vain because his
father is a grand signor, a tall gentleman who always wears a
full black beard, very serious looking, and who comes nearly
every day to accompany his son. Yesterday morning, Nobis
quarreled with Betti, one of the smallest boys, the son of a
charcoal man; and not knowing how to answer him, because
he was in the wrong, he said to him in a loud voice: Your
father is a worthless ragged man." Betti grew red to the
roots of his hair and said nothing, but tears came to his eyes,
and when he went home he repeated those words to his father;
and, behold, the charcoal man, a little fellow, all black, ap-
peared at the school in the afternoon with the lad, in order to
make his complaint to the teacher. While he was telling his
grievance to the master, every one was quiet. The father of
Nobis, who was taking off his son's overcoat on the threshold
of the door, as he usually does, hearing his name pronounced,
entered and asked an explanation. The master answered:
" It is this workman who comes here to complain because your
son Carlo said to his boy 'Your father is a worthless ragged
Nobis' father frowned and blushed a little and then asked
his son, Did you say those words ?" Carlo standing in front
of little Betti in the middle of the school room, with drooping
head, did not answer.
Then his father took him by the arm and pushed him further
ahead, beside Betti, so that the two almost touched each other,
and said: Beg his pardon."
THE HEART' OP A BOY
The charcoal man tried to interfere, saying No, no," but
the gentleman paid no heed, and repeated to his son, Beg his
Repeat my words: 'I beg to apologize for the insulting,
senseless and ignoble words which I said against your father,
whose hand my father feels honored to grasp."
The charcoal man made a gesture as if he would say, I
will not," but the gentleman paid no heed, and his son said
slowly, with a tremor in his voice, without raising his eyes
from the floor: "I beg to apologize- for the insulting-
senseless- and ignoble words which I said against your
father, whose hand my father feels himself honored to grasp.'
Then the gentleman reached his hand to the charcoal man,
who grasped it with force: and then suddenly pushed his son
into the arms of Carl Nobis.
"Do me the favor to put them next to each other," said
the gentleman to the teacher. The teacher placed Betti
in Nobis' bench, and when he saw them in their places, the
father of Nobis made a bow and left.
The charcoal man remained a few moments, standing there
in thought, looking at both boys; then he approached the
bench, looked at Nobis with an expression of affection and re-
gard, as if he wished to say something, but said nothing. He
stretched out his hand as if to give him a caress, but dared
not, and only stroked his brow with his large hand, then
started for the door, turning once more to look at him, and
Remember well what you have seen, boys," said the
teacher; "this is the finest lesson of the year."
MY BROTHER'S SCHOOL MISTRESS
Thursday the zotl
The son of the charcoal man was a pupil of Mistress Delcati.
who came to-day to see my sick brother. She made us laugh by
THE HEART OF A BOY
telling that the mother of that boy two years ago brought to her
home an armful of charcoal, to thank her because she had given
a medal to her son. The. poor woman persisted in leaving it
and almost cried when she had to return home with her apron
full. The mistress also told of another good woman, who
brought her a very large bouquet of flowers inside of which
there was a quantity of soldi. She amused us a great deal by
telling us stories, and my brother took his medicine which be-
fore he did not want to swallow. How much patience they
must have with those boys of the first grade, all without
teeth like the old men, who cannot pronounce either the r's or
the s's. One coughs, another has the nose bleed, and another
loses his shoes under the bench. This one cries, because he
has pricked himself with a pen, and that one weeps, because
he has bought copy-book number two instead of number one.
Fifty all in one class, who know nothing, with those little hands
like butter, who have to be taught to read and writd! They
carry in their pockets pieces of licorice, sugar, buttons, brick
dust, every kind of small articles, and the teacher is obliged
to go through their pockets, but they hide these things even
inside their shoes. They pay no attention; if a fly enters
through the window, it puts them all in confusion. In sum-
mer, they carry horn-bugs to school, which fly around and fall
into the ink-stands and stain the copy-books with ink. The
mistress, who plays the part of mother toward them, must help
them to dress, bandage the fingers that are pricked, pick up
the caps that fall, take heed that they do not exchange their
coats, or else they indulge in cat-calls and shrieks. Poor
school mistress, and besides some of the mothers will go and
complain: How is it, madam, that my child has lost his
pen? "How is it that mine does not learn anything?"
" Why don't you give the prize to my boy, who knows so
much ?" Why don't you have the nail which has torn the
trousers of my Piero taken out of the bench ? "
At times, my brother's mistress gets angry at the boys, and
THE HEART OF A BOY
when she can endure it no longer, she bites her finger in order
not to give a blow. She loses, her patience and then she
repents, caresses the child who has been scolded, sends the
little rogue out of the school, and then stops her own tears.
She gets angry with the parents, who, in order to punish their
children, compel them to fast. Mistress Delcati is young and
tall, has a dark complexion, and dresses well. She is so restless
and nervous that she is affected by a mere trifle. She speaks
with a great deal of tenderness.
"But at least the children are attached to you?" my
mother asked. "Some are," she answered, "but when the
year.is over, the greater part do not look at me any more.
When they are with the male teachers they are ashamed to
have been with a school mistress. After two years of cares,
after we have loved a child so much, it is sad to be separated
from him; we say: Oh, I am sure of that one, he will love me. '
But, the vacation over, we return to school, we run to meet
him: 'Oh, my child, my child !' and he turns his head the
other way." At .this point, the mistress was interrupted.
But you will not do this, little fellow ?" she said; then arose
with her eyes full of tears and kissed my brother, You will
Snot turn your head the other way, will you? You will not
deny your poor old friend?"
In the presence of thy brother's precefiress thou hast failed to
respect thy mother! Let this not happen again, my Enrico, never,
never again! Thy irreverent words entered my heart like a steel
blade. I was thinking of thy mother when, yeats ago, she stood
a whole night bent over thy little bed to watch for thy breath, cry-
ing with anguish, and shutting her teeth in terror because she
thought she was going. to lose thee, and I was afraid she would
lbse her mind; and I elt a sense of reproof for thee. Thou hast
offended thy mother! Thy mother, who -would give a year of
THE HEART OF A BOY
happiness to spare thee an hour of sorrow, who would ask alms
for thee, who would allow herself to be killed to save thy life!
Listen, Enrico, fixtis his ought well in thy mind. Remember that
destiny has many troubles in store for thee. The greatest trouble
will come the day when thou wilt lose thy mother. A thousand
times, Enrico, when thou wilt be a man, strong, and hardened by
all the struggles of life, thou wilt be oppressed by a great desire to
hear again for one moment thy mother's voice, to see again her
open arms ready to receive thee sobbing like a poor child without
protection and without comfort. Then thou wilt remember all
the bitterness thou hast caused her, and with what remoi se wilt
thou pay for all, thou unhappy creature! Do not hope for any
serenity in thy life, if thou hast saddened thy mother. Thou wilt
repent, thou wilt ask her pardon, thou wilt venerate her memory,
all in vain, thy conscience will not grant theepeace. The sweetand
good image will always have for thee an expression of sadness and
THE HEART OF A BOY
reproach which will torture thy soul. Oh, Enrico, beware! This
is the most sacred of human affections, woe to him who tramples
upon it! The assassin who respects his mother has still something
honest and chivalrous in his heart. The most famous of men
if he .sadden and offend her is a vile wretch. Nevermore let a
harsh woi d proceed from thy mouth for the one who gave thee
life. And, if another suck word should escape thee, let it not be
the fear of thyfather but the impulse of thy soul which will throw
thee at her feet to supplicate he), that with a kiss of forgiveness
she may erase from thy forehead the stain of ingratitude. I love
thee, my son; thou art the dearest hope of my life; but I would
rather see thee dead than ungrateful to thy mother. Go, andfor
a little time do not offer me any of thy caresses. I could not ex-
change them in my heart. Thy Father.
MY COMPArION CORETTI
Sunday the z3th.
My father has forgiven me, but still I remain somewhat
sad. My mother sent me to take a walk through the Corso,
with the janitor's oldest son. Half way through, passing
near a truck standing before a shop, somebody called me. I
turned around; it was Coretti, my schoolmate, all in a perspira-
tion, with his chocolate colored knitted jacket and his catskin
cap, but merry, and carrying a load of wood on his shoulders.
A man standing on the truck handed him an armful of wood
at a time, which he would take and carry into his father's
shop, where he would pile it up in a great hurry.
What are you doing, Coretti ?" I asked.
"Don't you see? he answered, holding out his arms to
take the wood. I go over my lesson."
I laughed, but he was speaking in earnest, and, having
taken his armful of wood, began saying while running: The
conjugation of the verb consists in its variations, agreeing in num-
ber--and person- "
THE HEART OF A BOY
And then throwing down the wood and piling it up: 'Ac-
cording to the time- according to the time to which th- action
It was our grammar lesson for the next day. "What
would you have me do ? he said. I make the most of my
time. My father has gone away on account of his business.
My mother is ill. I have to unload the wood. In the mean-
while I go over my grammar; it is a difficult lesson to-day. I
do not succeed in hammering it into my head. My father will
be here at seven to give you the soldi," he then said to the
The truck moved away. "Go into the shop for a mo-
ment," said Coretti. I entered. It was a large room full of
piles of wood and fagots, with a school desk on one side.
"To-day is a day of rush, I assure you," said Coretti. I
have to do my work by fits and starts. I was writing about
the prepositions, and some one came to buy. I started to
write again, and the truck came. I have already taken two
trips to the wood market in the Piazza Venezia this morning.
I am so tired I can hardly stand on my feet and my hands are
all swollen; I would be in a fine fix, indeed, if I had to do my
drawing task." As he spoke he began sweeping up the
dry leaves and little sticks which had fallen on the brick pave-
"But where do you do your work?" I asked Coretti.
"Surely not here? "
Come and see," and he took me into a little room behind
the shop, which was used as a kitchen and dining room, with
a table in the corner where he had all his books and writing
material and the beginning of his lesson. By the way," he
said, I have left out the second answer: With leather aze
makes shoes, belts,'- now I have it-- 'valises.' And tak-
ing his pen, he started to write in his beautiful hand-writing.
Is any one here? some one cried at that moment from
the shop. It was a woman who came to buy some fagots.
* -- ,. ..' -'" ^ ^ ^ N
It' was Covelti carrying- a load of wood.
THE HEART OF A BOY
Here I am," answered Coretti, and sprang from his place
to weigh the fagots. He took the soldi, ran into the corner to
register the sale in a copy-book, and returned to his work, say-
ing: Let's see if I can finish this paragraph," and he wrote:
Traveling bags and knapsacks for soldiers." "Ah," he said,
"My poor coffee is boiling over," and he ran to the stove to
take the coffee-pot from the fire. It is the coffee for mamma,"
said he. "I had to learn to make coffee. Wait a moment,
and we will take it to her, so that she may see you; it will
give her pleasure. She has been sick in bed for seven days-
Confound it! I always scald my fingers with that coffee pot.
What can I add after 'knapsacks fo; soldiers?' I must add
something more, and I cannot think of it. Come to mamma."
He opened the door and we entered the room. There was
the mother of Coretti in a large bed, with a white handkerchief
tied around her head.
Here is the coffee, mamma," said Coretti, handing her
the cup. This is my schoolmate."
Oh, what a fine signorino," said the woman, you have
come to see the sick, isn't it so ? "
In the meantime, Coretti had fixed the pillows behind his
mother's shoulders, and had put up the blankets of the bed, and
brightened the fire, and driven the cat away from the bureau
Is there anything more you wish, mamma?" he asked,
and took away the cup. Did you take the two spoonfuls ot
syrup? When it is gone, I will go to the apothecary for
more. The wood has been unloaded. At four o'clock I will
put the meat on the fire, as you have told me. When the but-
ter woman goes by, I will give her the eight soldi. Everything
will go well, do not fear."
Thanks, my son," answered the woman. My poor son!
he thinks of everything."
She asked me to take a piece of sugar, and then Corretti
showed me a little picture, a photograph of his father dressed
THE HEART OV A BOY
like a soldier with the medal of valor that he had won in the
battle of '66, in the army of Prince Humbert. His son looks
like him, with those lively eyes and that merry smile.
I have found another," said Coretti, and he added in his
copy-book, One can make harnesses." The balance I will
do this evening; I will sit up late. How happy you are to
have all your time to study; and then you can go promenading
He is always jolly. Re-entering the shop, he began to chop
wood upon a horse and sawed it in halves, saying: It is like
gymnastics, quite different from the Throw your arms for-
ward.' I want my father to find all this wood sawed when he
returns and then he will be satisfied. The worst of it is that
after I have sawed the wood, I make some t's and l's which
'look like serpents' as the teacher says;but what else can I do ?
I will tell him that. I had to move my arms about. What I
most care for is that mamma may soon get well. Now she is
better, thank heaven! I shall study the grammar tomorrow
morning when the cock crows. Oh, here comes the wagon with
the logs. At work again! "
A wagon loaded with logs stopped in front of the shop.
Coretti ran out to speak to the man and then came back.
" Now, my comrade, I cannot keep you any longer; farewell
until tomorrow. You did well to come and see me. Pleasant
walk to you, you lucky fellow! "
He shook my hand and ran to take the first log and began
running between the wagon and the shop, with his face as fresh
as a rose under that cat-skin cap, and so bright that it was a
pleasure to look at him.
Lucky fellow! he said to me. Oh, good Coretti, no, it
is you who are fortunate; you, because you study and work
more than I do, because you are more useful to your father
and mother, because you are better than myself, a hundred
times better, and more brave than I am, my dear schoolmate.
That boy resembled perfectly his own lost son.
THE HEART OF A BOY
THE PRINCIPAL OF THE SCHOOL
Friday the i8tz.
Coretti was happy this morning because his master of the
second elementary came to assist with the work of the monthly
examination; Coatti is his name, a big man with thick crisp
hair, a black beard, black eyes, and a voice that thunders. He
always threatens to take the boys by the neck to the police
station, and makes all sorts of frightful faces, but he never
punishes any one; on the contrary, he always laughs in his
sleeve. With Coatti, there are eight more masters, including
a substitute, a little fellow who looks like a youth. There is a
master of the fourth class, who is muffled up in a large woolen
scarf, and is always complaining about his pains. He took this
illness when he was master in a country school where the walls
were very damp. Another master of the fourth class is an old
man with white hair and beard, who has been a teacher of the
blind. There is one who is always well dressed, with eye-
glasses and blonde mustache; he is called The Little Lawyer,"'
because while he was teaching he took a lawyer's diploma,
and also got up a book to teach how to read and write. The
one who teaches us gymnastics is like a soldier. He has been
with Garibaldi and has on his neck the scar of a sabre wound
that he got at the battle of Milazzo. Then comes the principal;
tall, bald headed, with a grey beard which comes down over
his chest. He has golden eye-glasses, and is all dressed in
black and buttoned up to the chin; he is always so good to the
boys. When they enter his office trembling, having been sent
there for reproof, he does not scold them but takes them by the
hand and gives so many good reasons why they should not
have done what they did, why they must repent and promise
to be good, and he speaks in such a kind manner and with such
a sweet voice that they all leave him with red eyes; they are
more confused than if they had been punished. Poor principal,
he is always the first one at his place in the morning; he waits
THE HEART OF A BOY
for the teachers and listens to the parents, and when the teachers
have started home, he keeps on the lookout to see that none of
the children fall under the carriages, and that they do not stop
in the street to play or to fill their satchels with sand and stones,
and every time he appears at the corner of a street, tall and
dark as he is, a crowd of boys scamper in all directions, stopping
suddenly the games with marbles and pens, and he threatens
with his index finger at a distance with a loving and sad air. "No
one has ever seen him laugh," says my mother, "since his son
died." The son was a volunteer in the army, and the principal
always keeps his portrait before him upon the desk in his room.
He wanted to leave the school after his son's death, and he
wrote his resignation to the municipality and kept it constantly
on his desk, waiting from day to day to send it, because he was
sorry to leave the children. The other day, he seemed to be
decided, and my father, who was with him in the directors'
room, was saying to him : What a pity that you go, signor
principal," when a man entered to have a boy enrolled, who
was coming from another school to ours because his parents had
moved. When he looked at that boy, the principal seemed
surprised. He looked at him for a moment and then at the
portrait which he keeps on his desk and then at the boy again,
and, drawing him between his knees, he made him raise his
face. That boy resembled perfectly his own lost son. The
principal said All right," wrote the name, and the father left.
He remained pensive. What a pity that you should go,"
repeated my father. The principal took his resignation, tore it
to pieces, and said: I shall remain "
Tuesday the 221.
His son was a volunteer in the army when he died, and
this is the reason the principal always goes to the Corso to see
the soldiers pass. When we came out of school yesterday, an
THE HEART OF A BOY
infantry regiment was passing, and fifty boys began to jump
around the band, singing and keeping time with their rulers
on their satchels and portfolios. We stood in a group on the
sidewalk, looking; Garrone, squeezed in clothes too small for
him, and biting a large loaf of bread;
Votini, the well dressed one, who is
always picking the hair from his
clothes; Precossi, the son of the black-
smith, wearing his father's jacket; the
Calabrian boy; "the Little Mason";
Crossi, with his red hair; Franti, with
his tough face, and Robetti, the son of --. '
an artillery captain, the one who saved ,-.i
the boy from the omnibus and who
now walks on crutches. Franti
laughed in the face of a soldier who
was limping. Suddenly he felt a ''
man's hand on his shoulder. He
turned around; it was the principal.
"Look here" said the principal; "to
jest at a soldier when he is in the :J
ranks and can neither revenge him-
self nor answer is like insulting a man
when he is bound up; it is acowardly act."
Franti disappeared. The soldiers were passing four by
four, perspiring and covered with dust, and their guns were
gleaming in the sun. "You must always wish well to the
soldiers, boys," said the principal. "They are our defenders;
they would die for us, if to-morrow a foreign army should
threaten our country. They are also boys-a few years older
than you are, and they also go to school, and there are among
them poor and rich people, as among yourselves. They come
from all parts of Italy. Look at them; one can almost recog-
nize them from their faces: the Sicilians, the Sardinians, the
Neapolitans, the Lombards. This is an old regiment, one of
THE .HEART OF A BOY
those which fought in 1848. The soldiers are no longer the
same, but the flag is. How many died for our country around
that flag twenty years before you were born "
Here it comes," said Garrone. And, in fact, one could
see at a little distance the flag which came first above the
heads of the soldiers. The principal said: Boys, make the
pupil's salute with the hand to the forehead when the tricolor
The flag, carried by an officer, passed in front of us; it was
all torn and faded, but there were medals hanging on the
staff. We put our hands to our foreheads all together. The
officer looked at us, smiled, and returned the salute with his
Good, boys! said a man behind us. We turned to look
and saw an old man who had in the buttonhole of his coat the
blue ribbon of the Crimean campaign; a pensioned officer.
" Bravo! he said; "you have done a noble act,"
In the meanwhile, the band turned at the end of the Corso,
surrounded by a crowd of boys, and a hundred merry shouts
accompanied the blast of the trumpets like a war cry.
" Bravo! repeated the old officer. He who respects the
flag when he is small, will know how to defend it when he is
THE PROTECTOR OF NELLI
Wednesday the 23rd.
Poor Nelli was also looking at the soldiers yesterday-poor
little hunchback-with a look as though he were saying: I
shall never be a soldier!" He is good and studious, but he is
thin and sickly looking and breathes with a good deal of diffi-
culty. He wears a long black shining linen apron. His mother
is a little blonde lady, dressed in black. She always calls for
him when the school is over; as, in the confusion, he would not
go out with the other boys, and she caresses him. The first
The band surrounded by a crowd of boys.
THE HEART OF A BOY
days of school, as he has the misfortune to be hunchbacked,
many of the boys laughed at him and beat him upon the back
with their satchels; but he never turned around, and said noth-
ing to his mother about it, because he did not wish to cause
her the pain of knowing that her son was the laughing
stock of his companions. When they derided him, he would
cry silently, leaning his forehead on the desk.
But this morning, Garrone sprang up and said: If any
one touches Nelli, I will give him such a blow that he will spin
three times around."
Franti paid no attention, and he received a blow which made
him reel. Since that time no one has touched Nelli. The
teacher placed Garrone near him, upon the same bench, and
they have become fast friends. Nelli is very mucn devoted to
Garrone; as soon as he enters the school room, he looks where
Garrone sits, and he never goes away without saying: "Good
bye, Garrone," and Garrone does the same with him. When
Nelli drops his pen or book under the bench, Garrone at once
bends down and hands it to him. He also helps him to put
his things in the satchel and to put on his overcoat. Because
of this, Nelli likes him and looks at him constantly, and when
the master praises Garrone, Nelli is happy
Nelli must at last have told his mother everything about
the ridicule which he suffered those first days, and also about
the companion who took his part and of whom he h: s grown
fond. Here is what happened this morning. The teacher
sent me to take the programme of the lesson to the principal
half an hour before the time for school to close, and I was in
the office when a blonde lady, dressed in black, entered. It
was Nelli's mother, and she said: Signor principal, is there
a boy in my son's class by the name of Garrone ?"
There is," answered the principal.
Will you have the kindness to send for him for a mo-
ment, as I wish to speak to him? "
The principal called the beadle and sent him into the class;
THE HEART OF A BOY
and, after a minute, Garrone, with his thick, crisp hair, ap-
peared at the door, looking as though he were amazed. As
soon as she saw him, the lady went to meet him, threw her
hands on his shoulders and kissed him many times on the fore-
head, saying: "You are Garrone, the friend of my child, the
protector of my dear son; it is you, dear boy, it is you "
Then she searched hastily in her purse and in her pockets, and,
not finding anything, she detached a chain with a little cross,
from her neck, and said: "Take it, wear it as a memento,
dear boy, in memory of Nelli's mother who thanks you and
THE FIRST OF THE CLASS
Garrone has won the affection of every one and Derossi the
admiration. Derossi has won the first medal and will always
THE HEART OF A BOY
be the first: This year there is no one who is able to compete
with him. The boys all recognize his superiority in all the dif-
ferent branches. He is the first in arithmetic, in grammar, in
composition, and in drawing. He understands everything at
a glance; has a marvelous memory; succeeds in everything
without making any effort. It seems as though study were
mere play for him. The teacher told him yesterday: "God
has endowed you very generously; you must not waste what
has been bestowed upon you." Besides all this, he is the tallest
and handsomest boy of the class, with a large crown of blonde
curls. He is so nimble that he can jump over the bench by
laying one hand upon it, and he knows how to fence. He is
the son of a merchant, and always dresses in blue clothes with
gilt buttons on them. He is twelve years old, always jolly,
and he is polite to every one, and tries to help all the other
boys at the time of examination, and no one has ever dared to
play a trick upon him or call him a bad name. Only Nobis
and Franti look at him askance. Votini looks at him with
envy, but he does not even notice it. They all smile at him
and take him by the hand when he comes around in his grace-
ful way. He gives away illustrated newspapers and drawings
-everything which they give him at home. He has drawn
a geographical map of Calabria for the little Calabrian boy.
He is like a grand signor and shows no favoritism.
It is impossible not to envy him and not to feel beneath
him in everything. I envy him myself, like Votini. I expe-
rience a certain bitterness and spitefulness against him, some-
times when I am striving to do my work at home, and think
at that hour he has already done his correctly and without
fatigue. But then, when I return to school and see him so
handsome, smiling, and triumphant, and hear him answer all
the questions put to him, in a frank, assured way, and see how
polite he is to every one, and how all look at him, then all the
bitterness, all the spite goes out of my heart, and I feel
ashamed of having felt such emotions. I would like to be near
THE HEART OF A BOY
him always; I would like to go through all the classes with
him; his presence, his voice gives me courage, and I feel a
desire to work.
The teacher has given him the monthly story to copy,
which will be read to-morrow. It is The Little Vidette of
Lombardy." When he was copying it this morning he seemed
moved by that heroic deed. His face was all aflame, his eyes
were full of tears, and his mouth trembled. I was watching
him; how handsome and noble he looked ? With what pleas-
ure would I have told him frankly to his face: Derossi, you
have worked more than I have. You are a man compared
to me, and I respect and admire you."
THE LITTLE VIDETTE OF LOMDARDY
Saturday the 26th.
.- In the year 1859, during the war
-- for the liberation of Lombardy-a
TI few days before the battle of Solfe-
rino and San Martino, won by the
French and the Italians, united
against the Austrians-on a beauti-
ful morning in the month of June a
" little troop of cavalry of Saluzzo was moving slowly through a
solitary path, toward the enemy, reconnoitering the country as
THE HEART OF A BOY
they went. The troop was commanded by an officer and a
sergeant, and all spied into the distance before them with eager
eyes, silent, expecting every moment to see the white uniforms
of the advance post of the enemy shimmering through the trees.
They came to a hut surrounded by ash trees, in front of which
was a boy about twelve years old, standing alone, removing
the bark from a small branch with a knife. From the window
of the house floated a large tricolored flag, but no one was
inside. Having hoisted the flag, all had run away, fearing
the Austrians. As soon as the boy saw the cavalrymen, he
threw away his stick and took off his hat. He was a fine-
looking lad with a brave face, large blue eyes, and long blonde
hair. He was in his shirt sleeves and his shirt was unfastened,
showing his bare chest.
What are you doing here ?" asked the officer, stopping
his horse. Why did you not run away with your family? "
I have no family," answered the boy. I am a found-
ling. I work a little for every one, and I remained here to
see the war."
Have you seen the Austrians pass? "
Not for the last three days."
The officer sat thinking a moment, then dismounted from
his horse; and, leaving the soldiers turned toward the foe, he
entered the house and went up on the roof- The house was
low and from the roof only a little stretch of the country could
be seen. It is necessary to climb the trees," said the officer,
and came down. Just in front of the yard there was a lofty,
slender ash tree, which was rocking its top in the sky. The
officer stood lost in thought for a moment, looking now at the
tree, now at the soldiers; then, all of a sudden, he asked the
Have you good eyesight, you rag-a-muffin? "
I ?" answered the boy. I can see a sparrow a mile dis-
Can you climb to the top of that tree ?"
THE HEART OF A BOY
I can do that in a miinute."
And could you tell me what you see down below from the
top, whether there are any Austrian soldiers, clouds of dust,
guns glimmering, or any horses on that side? "
''Surely, I could."
"'What do you want me to pay you for this service ?"
What do I want? said the boy smiling; "nothing, of
course-If the Austrians asked me, I would not do it at all
- but for our own people- I am a Lombard! '
Well, then, climb up."
Wait just a moment for me to take off my shoes."
He took off his shoes, tightened the strap around his trous-
ers, threw his hat on the grass, and clasped the trunk of the
But, look out! exclaimed the officer, making a gesture
as if to hold him back, as though seized with a sudden fear.
The boy turned around to look at him with his fine blue eyes,
as if to question him.
Never mind," said the officer; go up."
The boy went up like a cat. Look in front of you! cried
the officer to the soldiers.
In a few moments, the boy was at the top of the tree, with
his legs around the trunk among the leaves, but with his breast
uncovered, and the sun shining on his blonde head made it look
like gold. The officer could hardly see him, he looked so small
from the ground.
"Look straight in the distance," cried the officer.
The boy, in order to see better, took his right hand from the
tree and put it over his forehead.
What do you see ?" asked the officer.
The boy bent his head toward him, and, making a speaking
tube of his hand, answered: "'Two men on horseback on the
'-"What distance from here?"
THE HEART OF A BOY
Do they move? "
They are standing still."
What else do you see," after a moment's silence, Look
to your right.''
Then he said : Among the trees near the cemetery, there
is something which glitters like bayonets."
Do you see any people ? "
No, they must be hidden under the wheat."
At that moment, the sharp whiz of a bullet passed high
through the air and died away, far off, behind the house.
Come down, boy," cried the officer, "They have seen
you. I do not want anything more, come down."
I am not afraid," answered the boy.
Come down,".repeated the officer. What else do you see
at your left ? "
"At the left? "
"Yes, at the left."
The boy pushed his head to the left, and another whiz,
sharper and lower than the first, cut through the air. The boy
shook all over, Confound them!" he exclaimed. "They
are aiming at me." The bullet'had passed very near him.
Down cried the officer in an imperious and irritated
I will come down directly. The tree, however, will pro-
tect me, do not fear. To the left, you wish to know what I
can see? "
To the left," answered the officer ; but, come down."
"To the left," said the boy, turning his head that way,
"Where there is a chapel, it seems as though I can see ---
A third raging whiz was heard and almost at the same time,
the boy was seen coming down, holding for a moment to the
trunk and to the branches, and then falling down, head first,
with open arms.
"'Curse them cried the officer, running to him.
The boy struck the ground with his back and lay there
THE HEART OF A BOY
stretched out with his arms open ; a stream of blood was flow-
ing from his left side. The sergeant and two soldiers jumped
from their horses; the officer bent down and opened his shirt:
the bullet had entered his left lung. He is dead exclaimed
the officer. No, he lives," answered the sergeant. Our
poor, brave boy," cried the officer. Courage Courage! "
But while he was saying this and pressing his handkerchief
over the wound, the boy rolled his eyes wearily, and let his
hand fall back. He was dead. The officer turned pale and
looked at him fixedly for a moment, then laid him with his
head on the grass; and, for a while, he remained looking at
him. Also the sergeant and the two soldiers stood motionless
and gazed at him; the others were turned toward the enemy.
"Poor boy," sadly repeated the officer, "Poor and brave
Then he approached the house and took from the window
the tri-colored flag and stretched it out like a funeral pall
over his body, leaving the head uncovered. The sergeant
picked up the boy's shoes, cap, the little stick, and the
They stood in silence for a moment, then the officer turned
to the sergeant and said: We will send the ambulance for
him. He died like a soldier, and we will bury him like a sol-
dier." Having said this, he threw a kiss to the dead, and
cried, "To horse." They all jumped to their saddles, the
troop formed again and followed up its route; but a few hours
later the little dead boy did receive the honors of war.
Towards sunset all the lines of the Italian advance post were
marching toward the enemy over the same road which had
been taken in the morning by the troop of cavalry. The large
battalion of bersaglieri, which a few days before had valiantly
stained with blood the Hill of San Martino, proceeded in two
files. The news of the death of the boy had spread through
the army before the soldiers had left their encampment. A
stream ran along beside the path a few paces distant from the
And he slept there in the grass.
-:~a~ ~e~-l~ ,,
THE HEART OF A BOY
house. When the first officers of the battalion saw the little
corpse, stretched at the foot of the ash tree and covered with
the tri-colored flag, they saluted him with the sword, and one
of them bent over the edge of the stream, which was bordered
with flowers, plucked two flowers and threw them over him.
'Then all the battalion, as they were passing, picked flowers
and threw them over the dead. In a few moments the boy was
covered with flowers, and officers and soldiers all gave him a
salute as they passed by. "Bravo, little Lombard!" "Good-
bye, boy!" "Honor to you, little blonde!" Hurrah !"
"Glory!" "Goodbye!" One officer threw a medal of valor on
him; another went to kiss his forehead; the flowers continued
to shower upon his bare feet, upon his wounded chest, and upon
the blonde head. And he slept there in the grass, wrapped in
his flag, with a white but almost smiling face, poor boy, as if he
felt the honors paid him, as though he were content to have
given his life for his Lombardy.
Tuesday the 27th
To give one's life for his own country like the boy of Lom-
bardy is a great virtue, but do not forget the smaller virtues, my
child. When we returned from school this morning, while thou
wert walking in front of me, we passed a poor old woman who
held a frail and sickly baby on her knees, and who asked alms of
thee. Thou didst look at her, but didst not give her anything,
although thou hadst some soldi in thy, pocket. Listen, my child,
do not accustom thyself to pass --' ":.i in front of misery
which stretches out its hands to thee, and much the less before a
mother who asks a penny for her baby. Think that maybe the
baby was hungry; think of the heartache of that poor woman.
Can you imagine the despairing sobs of thy mother the day that she
might have to tell thee: "Enrico, today I can give thee no bread."
When I give a soldo to a mendicant and he says to me: May
THE HEART OF A BOY
the Lord preserve thee and all thy creatures! thou canst not comr
prehend the gratitude that Ifeel toward that poor man. It seems
to me, indeed, that that wish ought to preset ve me in good health
for a long time, and I return home content and think: Ah,
I1ftii t that poor man has paid me back
S more than I have given him!"
S4 Let mefeel that sometimes such
..a good wish is provoked and mer-
Sited by thee; take from time to
l time a sold from thy purse and
let it drop into the hand of an old
man without support. Give to
the mother without bread and to
,,'. the baby without a mother. The
poor love anms from children be-
,,t cause it does not humiliate them
to receive them, and because
,' ,i 1 .' children, needing everything,
S resemble them. Notice that there
.. '-*_r. ~are always many poor around
k the schools. The alms of a man
to is a deed of charity, but that of a
child is both a deed of charity and a caress. Dost thou understand
ine? It is as iffrom his hand fell a soldo and a flower. Think
that thou lackest nothing and that they lack everything! that,
while thou art wishing to be happy, they are satisfied not to die.
Think that it is horrible that in so many places on the streets,
where carriages and children dressed in velvet are passing, there
should be women who have not enough to eat! Not to have any-
thing to eat, oh my God! That boys like thee, intelligent as thou
art, good as thou art, in the midst of a large city, like wild ani-
mals lost in the desert, should have nothing to eat! No, never,
nevermore, Enrico, pass in front of a mother who asks alms
withoutputting a soldo in her hand.
THE HEART OF A BOY
THE TRADING BOY
Thursday the ist.
My father wishes that on every vacation day I should either
invite one of my schoolmates to come to our house or call upon
one of them, in order to become little by little friendly with
all. On Sunday, I am going to walk with Votini, the well
dressed, one who is always brushing his clothes and is so envious
of Derossi. Today, Garoffi came to the house. He is the tall,
slender fellow with a nose like an owl's beak and shrewd eyes,
who always seems to scrutinize everything. He is the son of
a druggist, and quite an original character. He is always
counting the soldi in his pocket; he counts them on his fingers
quickly, and can make any multiplication without an arith-
metical table. He saves money even now, and has a book in
the School Savings Bank. He never spends a soldo; and, if he
drops a centesimo under the bench he is likely to look a week
for it. He is like a night owl," says Derossi. He finds old
pens, old postage stamps, pins and old wax matches. Every-
thing he picks up he saves. He has been collecting postage
stamps for more than two years, and has hundreds from every
country, pasted in a large album, which he will sell to the sta-
tioner when it is full. In the meantime, the stationer gives
him books, because he takes so many boys into his shop. At
school, he is always trafficking. He makes a sale of somekind
every day, gets up raffles, and trades, then he repents of hav-
ing traded and wants his goods back; he buys for two and sells
for four. He plays with pens and never loses; sells old news-
papers to the tobacco man; and he has a little note book, full of
sums in subtraction, in which he keeps a record of all his
business. He studies only arithmetic, and, if he wishes to
have a prize, it is only to have free entrance to a theatre of
marionettes. I like him and he amuses me. We have played
THE HEART OF A BOY
market together, using scales to weigh the different things.
He knows the right price of everything, understands
weights and measures, and can make beautiful paper bags like
the shopkeepers. He says that as soon as he finishes school,
he will open a store and sell some new article of commerce
which he has invented. He has always been pleased when I
have given him foreign postage stamps, and he has told me
exactly how much each one will sell for. Today, my father,
while feigning to read, stood listening to him, and was
amused. Garoffi always has his pockets full of small articles
of merchandise which he covers up with a long black cloak,
and he looks as though he were continually thinking like a
merchant. That which is the nearest to his heart is his col-
lection of postage stamps; that is his treasure; he always speaks
of it as though he expected to make a fortune out of it. His
companions call him avaricious and an usurer. I do not know;
I like him. He teaches me many things and he looks like a
man. Coretti, the son of the wood huckster, says that Garoffi
would not give away his postage stamps even to save his
mother's life. My father does not believe it. He says:
" Wait before you judge him; he has that passion,but he has
Monday the 5th.
Yesterday I went to take a walk through the viable Rivoli
with Votini and his father. Passing through the street Dora
Grosse, we saw Stardi, the one who kicks at those who trouble
him. He was standing in front of a book-seller's window,
looking closely at a geographical map, and there is no knowing
how long he had stood there, because he always studies when
in the street. He scarcely returned our salute, the rude fel-
"low. Votini was well dressed-too well. He wore morocco
leather boots trimmed with red, an embroidered suit with silk
THE HEART OF A BOY
tassels, and a white castor hat. He carried a watch and
strutted; but his vanity served him ill this time. After having
walked for a long time along the path, leaving his father
who walked slowly some distance behind, we sat down on a
stone bench next to a boy who was modestly dressed, who
loo k .,l tieI --l a
and who sat with his
head hanging down. --
A man who seemed to b hi- father t -.-l
walking, back and forth under the trees,
reading a newspaper. Votini sat down between the lad and
myself and he immediately remembered that he was well dressed
and wished to be admired and envied by his neighbor.
He raised his foot and said to me, Have you seen my offi-
cer's boots?" He said that in order to have the other boy
look at them, but he paid no attention.
Then he lowered his foot and showed me his silk tassels
and said, glancing askance at the-boy, that he did not like
those silk tassels; that he wanted to have them changed for
silver buttons; but the boy did not even look at the tassels.
Votini then began to turn his beautiful white castor hat
on the point of his finger; but the boy (it seemed that he did
it purposely) did not deign to even look at the hat.
THE HEART OF A BOY
Votini was beginning to get irritated. He pulled out his
watch, opened it and showed me the works, but the other boy
did not turn his head. Is it silver? I asked him. '' No,''
he answered, it is gold." But it is not all gold," said I;
"there is probably some silver in it." No, indeed," he re-
peated; and, in order to force the boy to look, he held the
watch before his face and said, "Look and tell me, is it not all
The boy answered drily, I do not know."
"Oh, oh !" exclaimed Votini, full of wrath. "What
As he said this Votini's father came up and heard him. He
looked fixedly at the boy for a moment, and then said brusquely
to his son, "Be silent." And whispering into his ear, he
added: "He is blind."
Votini jumped to his feet with a shudder, and looked at
the boy's face. His eyes were glassy and he had no expres-
sion in them.
Votini stood dumbfounded, with downcast eyes; at last, he
muttered: I regret I did not know it."
But the blind boy, who had understood everything, said,
with a melancholy and sweet smile : Oh, it does not matter."
Yes, Votini is vain, but he has not a bad heart. He did not
smile again all that day.
THE FIRST SNOW STORM
Saturday the zoth.
Farewell, walks to Rivoli, here comes the children's beau-
tiful friend! Here comes the first snow Since last evening,
it has fallen down in large flakes likejessamine flowers. It was
fun this morning at school to see it fall against the windows
and pile up on their sills. The teacher also looked at it and
rubbed his hands. We were all content, thinking of making
snowballs and of the ice which will come, and of the fire at
.- ._ .- ;.-
1 E.; ^". *". '
Coming down with a log to warm the school-room.
a ~:. .
THE HtART' OF A BOY
home. There was no one but Stardi who did not look at it;
he was all absorbed in his lesson, with his hand on his temple.
How beautiful What a time we had coming out All danced
down the street, shouting and gesticulating, snatching up
handfuls of snow and dashing it about like poodles in the water.
The parents were waiting outside the school room with um-
brellas which were covered with snow, the policeman's helmet
was white, and all our satchels became whitein a few moments.
The boys all seemed beside themselves with joy. Even Pre-
cossi, the son of the blacksmith, the little pallid lad who never
laughs; and Robetti, the one who saved the child from under
the omnibus, poor boy, was leaping on his crutches. The
Calabrian boy who had never seen snow, made a little ball of
it and began to eat it like a peach; Crossi, the son of the vege-
table woman, filled his satchel; and the Little Mason made us
nearly burst with laughter, when my father invited him to
come and visit me to-morrow; he had his mouth full of snow
and he did not dare to swallow it nor spit it out, and he stood
there choking and staring at us but could not answer. Even
the teachers were laughing as they ran out of the school. My
teacher of the first grade was among them, poor woman, run-
ning through the slush, protecting her face with her green veil,
and she was coughing. In the meanwhile, hundreds of girls from
the neighboring school were passing, screaming and dancing
upon that white carpet, and the teachers, janitor and police-
men were shouting: Go home Go home Their mustaches
and whiskers were growing white with snow, but they also
laughed at the revelry of the pupils, who were enjoying the
Thou art enjoying winter-- but there are boys who have no
clothes, no shoes, no fire. There are those who come down to the
villages from long distances, carrying in theit hands-bleeding
with chilblains-a piece of log to 'warm up the school-room.
There are hundreds of schools almost buried in snow, like caves,
where the children nearly suffocate from the smoke and their teeth
THE HEART OF A BOY
chatter with the cold, looking with ter ror through the white snow-
flakes which fall without ceasing, which pile up constantly upon
their distant huts, threatened by the avalanche. You enjoy winter,
boys! Think of the thousands of human beings to whom winter
brings misery and death! Thy Father.
THE LITTLE MASON
"The Little Mason came to-day, dressed up in his hunt-
ing jacket and clothes cast off by his father, still white with
lime and chalk. My father wished him to come even more
than I did. How pleased we were to see him As soon as he
entered he took off the soft felt hat, which was all wet with
snow, and stuck it into his pocket; then he came forward with
that careless gait, like a tired workman, with his small face
round like an apple and his nose like a ball, turning his eyes
to look here and there; and when he came into the dining
room, he cast a glance around at the furniture, and then fixed
his eyes upon the portrait which represents Rigoletto, the
hunchbacked buffoon, and he made the hare face.
It is impossible to keep from laughing when you see him
make the hare face. We began to play with wood blocks.
He is skilled in building towers and bridges, which seem to
stand as though by magic, and he works at it seriously with
the energy of a man. Between the building of one tower and
another, he told me about his family. They live in a garret.
His father goes to the evening school to learn to read and
write; his mother is from Biella. His parents must love him;
one can see it, because if he is dressed as a poor child, yet he is
protected against the cold. His clothes are well mended, and
he wears a necktie which is tied by the hand ol his mother.
He told me that his father is a big fellow, a giant who can
hardly go through the doors, but he is kind, and he always
calls his son Hare Face." The son, however, is very small.
At four o'clock we had lunch together, seated on the sofa.
THE HEART OF A BOY
When we got up I could not understand why my father 'did
not want me to clean the back of the sofa, where the Little
Mason had made it white with his jacket, but he held back my
hand, and cleaned it himself on the sly. While we were playing,
the Little Mason lost a button from his hunting jacket, and my
mother sewed it on again for him; and he blushed and stood
looking at her so surprised and confused that he could scarcely
breathe. After that I gave him an album which contained il-
lustrations of different characters, to look at; and, unsconcious
of it, he made faces so much like them that even my father
laughed. He was so happy when he left that he forgot to put
on his hat, and to show me his gratitude, when we got to the
landing, he once more made the hare face. His name is An-
tonio Rabucco. He is eight years and eight months old.
Dost thou know, my son, why I did not wish thee to clean the
sofa? Because, by cleaning it when thy companion would see thee
was to reprove him for having soiled it, and that would not have been
right; first, because he had not done it purposely, and also because
he had done it with the clothes of his father, which have been cov-
ered with plaster while at work, and what one rubs against at work
is not dirt; it is dust, or lime, or varnish, anything that thou wilt,
but not dirt. Work does not make one filthy. Never say of a
workman who comes from his labor: He is filthy; thou must
say: "He has on his clothes the traces of toil." Remember
this, and love the Little Mason because he is thy companion and
because he is the son of a workman. Thy Father.
Friday the z6th.
And it keeps on snowing. An ugly accident happened this
morning because of the snow. As we came out of the school
room, a crowd of boys just entering the Corso began to throw
snowballs made of watery snow, which makes balls that are as
hard and heavy as stones. Many persons were passing on the
THE HEART OF A BOY
sidewalk, and a gentleman cried: Stop, you rogues! Just
at that moment, a sharp cry was heard on the other side of the
street, and an old man, who-had lost his hat, was seen stagger-
ing and covering his face with his hands. A boy next to him
cried: "Help! Help!"
Immediately people ran to him from every side; a snowball
had struck him in the eye. All the boys dispersed, running
like a flash. I stood in front of the bookseller's shop that
my father had entered, and saw several of my classmates who
were mingled with the others near me, rush in and pretend to
be looking at the show-cases. There was Garrone with a loaf
of bread in his pocket as usual, Coretti, the Little Mason, and
Garoffi, the one who collects postage stamps. In the mean-
time, a crowd had gathered around the old man, and the
policemen and others were running on all sides, threatening
and asking: "Who was it?" "Who did it? Was it
you? Tell me, who did it ?" and looking at the hands of the
boys that were wet with snow.
Garoffi was next to me and I noticed that he was trem-
bling like a leaf and his face was as white as that of a
corpse. Who was it? Who did it?" the people con-
tinued to cry.
Then I heard Garrone saying softly to Garoffi: Come,
go and denounce thyself; it would be cowardly to allow some
one else to be arrested."
But I did not do it on purpose," answered Garoffi, still
It matters not, do your duty," repeated Garrone.
"But I have not the courage."
Take courage; I will accompany you."
And the others were crying still louder: Who was it? "
" Who did it ? One of his glasses has entered into his eye!
They have blinded him, the brigands! "
I thought that Garoffi would fall on the ground. Go,"
said Garrone resolutely; I will defend you," and, taking him
THE HEART OP A BOY
by the arm, he pushed him forward, holding him up like a sick
person. The people saw and understood immediately, and
many made a dash at him with their arms lifted, but Garrone
put himself before him, crying:
You are ten against a child! "
Then they stopped, and a policeman took Garoffi by the
hand and, making his way through the crowd, he led him to
a baker's shop, where the wounded man had been carried.
When I saw him I recognized immediately the old employee
who lives on the fourth floor of our house with his little
nephew. He was leaning back on a chair with a handkerchief
over one eye. "I did not do it on purpose," said Garoffi, half
dead with fear; I did not do it on purpose."
Two or three persons pushed him into the shop violently.
Bow down thy head! Ask forgiveness! and they threw
him on the floor; but suddenly two vigorous arms put him upon
his feet, and a resolute voice said:
No, gentlemen!" It was our principal, who had seen
everything. Since he has had the courage to give himself
up," he added, "no one has the right to abuse him." They
all held their peace. "'Ask forgiveness," said the principal to
Garoffi. Garoffi burst into tears and embraced the knees of
the old man, who put his hand on his head and caressed his
hair, and then they all said:
"Go home, child, go home."
My father took me away from the crowd, and said on the
way home: Enrico, in a similar case, would you have had
the courage to do your duty and to go and confess your guilt ?"
I answered, "Yes, I would."
"Give me your word as a boy of heart and of honor that
you would do so."
"I give you my word, father !"
THE HEART OF A BOY
THE SCHOOL MISTRESS
Saturday the z7th
Garoffi was very much frightened to-day because he ex-
pected a great scolding from the teacher, but the teacher did
not make his appearance, and, as the substitute was also ab-
sent, the signora Cromi, the oldest of the school mis-
tresses, came to teach us. She has two large boys, and
she has taught many of the ladies to read'and write, who now
come to the school to accompany their own boys.
She was sad to-day because she has a sick child. As soon
as the boys saw her they began to make an uproar, but with
a sweet and tranquil voice she said softly, Respect my gray
hair; I am not only a teacher, but a mother as well." Then no
one dared to speak; not even Franti, who was satisfied with
jeering her on the sly.
Mistress Delcati, the teacher of my brother, was sent to
Cromi's class, and in Mistress Delcati's place they put the one
whom they call "The Little Nun," because she is always
dressed in black and has a small white face. She combs her
hair down smoothly; her eyes are very clear, and she has such
a low voice that it seems as though she were all the time
murmuring prayers. One cannot understand her," says my
mother, she is so mild and timid, with such a tremor in her
voice that one can scarcely hear her; and she never cries, never
gets angry." Still she holds the boys down very quietly so that
they cannot be heard, and the most roguish of them will bow
his head if she only admonishes him with her finger. Her
school seems like a church; this is another reason why they
call her The Little Nun."
There is another whom I also like-the little school mis-
tress of the upper number three, the young lady with the rosy
face and two dimples in her cheeks; she wears a large red
feather in her hat and a yellow cross on her neck. She is
She plays the fart of mother toward them.
THE HEART OF A BOY
always happy and keeps the class merry; she is always smiling,
and when she scolds with her silvery voice it seems as though
she were singing, striking her little rod on the table and clap-
ping her hands to impose silence. When they leave the room
she runs behind them like a child, first to one and then
another, to keep them in line. She pulls up the cap of one
and buttons the coat of another so that they will not catch
cold. She begs the parents not to chastise them at home.
She brings lozenges for those who cough, and lends her muff
to those who are cold, and she is constantly harassed by the
little fellows who torment her and ask her for kisses, pulling
at her veil and mantle. She lets them do it, and kisses every
one, laughing, and she returns home all out of breath but
happy. She is also the drawing teacher of the girls' school
and supports a mother and a brother with her earnings.
IN THE HOME OF THE WOUNDED MAN
Sunday the i8th.
The little nephew of the old employee who was struck in
the eye with a snowball by Garoffi belongs to the class of the
teacher with the red feather. We called on him to-day at the
home of his uncle, who keeps him like a son.
I had just finished writing the monthly story, "The Little
Florentine Writer,"' for next week, which the teacher gave me
to copy, when my father said to me, We will go upstairs to
the fourth story to see how that gentleman is getting along
with his eye." We entered a room almost dark where there
was an old man sitting up in bed with a great many pillows at
his back. By his bedside sat his wife, and in the corner the
little nephew was playing with toys. The old man had his
right eye bandaged. He was much pleased to see my father,
asking us to sit down, and told us that he was getting better,
that not only was his eye not lost, but that in two or three
days he would be entirely recovered. It was an accident,"
THEIR HEART OF A BOY
he added, and I am sorry for the fright that the poor boy
must have had."
Then he spoke of the physician who was to come at that
time to attend him.
Just at that moment, the bell rang. It is the physician,"
said the lady. The door opens and whom do I see?
Garoffi, with his long cloak, standing on the threshold with his
head bent down as though he lacked the courage to enter.
Who is it? asked the sick man.
"It is the boy who threw the snowball," answered my
father, and the old man said: Oh, my poor boy, walk in,
you come to inquire after the wounded man, isn't that so? He
is better ; be easy; I am better, I am almost well. Come
Garoffi, very much confused, approached the bed, making
an effort to keep from'crying, and the old man caressed him,
but he could not speak.
Thanks," said the old man. Go and tell your father
and mother that all is well; let them not worry on my
But Garoffi did not move, he looked as though he had some-
thing to say but dared not say it.
What have you to tell me? What do you want ?"
"Then, farewell, boy. Go with your heart at peace."
Garoffi walked to.the door, but there he stopped and turned
around toward the little nephew who was following him, and
looking at him, he suddenly pulled something from under his
cloak and put it in the hands of the boy, saying hastily, "This
is for you," and he dashed out.
The boy took the parcel to his uncle and they saw written
upon it: Igive you this as a present."
After looking inside, he uttered an exclamation of surprise;
it was the famous album, containing his collection of postage
stamps, that poor Garoffi had given him; the collection of which
The old man had. his right eye bandaged.
THE HEART OF A BOY
he always spoke and upon which he had founded so many hopes
and which had cost him so many efforts; it was a treasure,
poor lad, it was half of his own blood that he had given the old
man in exchange for his pardon.
THE LITTLE FLORENTINE WRITER
He belonged to the fourth elementary class. He was a
pretty Florentine lad of twelve, with black hair and light com-
plexion, the eldest son of a railroad employee, who, hav-
ing a large family and a
small salary, lived in
The little boy's father loved
him very much, and was ''
kind to him and indulgent, '
except in what concerned /
the school. In this one re-
spect he was exacting and '
showed himself severe with .I 1-
him because he must soon
be able to obtain employ- i
ment in order to help the .
family along, and to accom-
plish this he must learn much in a short time. And, although
the boy studied, the father still exhorted him to study harder.
His father was advanced in years, and severe work had
made him grow old before his time; nevertheless, in order
to provide for the necessities of his family, besides the large
amount of work which his office brought him, he undertook
to do some extra work as copyist, and would spend a great
part of the night at his desk. Lately he had obtained work
from a publishing house which published books and peri-
odicals, and he had to write on the wrappers the names and
THE HEART OF A BOY
addresses of all the subscribers. He received three lire foi
every five hundred paper wrappers which he addressed. But
this work tired him out, and he often complained to the family
at the dinner table.
My eyesight is going," he would say, this night work
is killing me." His son said one day: Papa, let me work
in your stead, you know that I write just as you do." But
the father answered: No, my child, you must study. Your
school is of more importance than my wrappers. It would
grieve me to steal an hour from you. I thank you, but I will
not allow you to do it; do not speak of it again."
The son knew it was useless to argue with his father in
such matters, and so he did not insist. But this is what he
did. He knew that at midnight his father would stop writ-
ing, leave his working room and go into his bedroom. At
times he heard, immediately after the stroke of twelve, the
noise of a chair moved and the slow step of his father. That
night he waited until his father had gone to bed, dressed him-
self very quietly, went softly into the writing room, lit the
kerosene lamp, and sat down on the desk where there was a
pile of white wrappers and the list of the addresses, and began
to write, imitating exactly his father's handwriting. He
wrote willingly and gladly, though a little frightened, and the
wrappers piled up. Once in a while he would stop to rub
his hands and then begin again with increased alacrity, listen-
ing intently and smiling. He wrote one hundred and sixty,
" One lire;" then he stopped, replaced the pen where he had
found it, and returned to bed on tiptoe.
The next day his father sat at the head of the table in good
humor. He had not noticed anything. He was doing his
work mechanically, measuring it by hours, and thinking of
other matters, and did not count the wrappers until the day
after they were written. That day he slapped his hand on
his son's shoulder, and said, "Well, Giulio, your father is still
a good workman, no matter what you may think. In two
THE HEART OF A BOY
hours last night he did a good third more work than usual.
My hand is still quick and my eyes still do their duty."
Giulio was content, and said to himself, Poor papa; besides
his gain, I also give him the satisfaction of thinking himself
rejuvenated. Well, have courage !"
Encouraged by his first success, the next night as soon as
the clock struck twelve he got up and went to work again, and
so he did for several nights, and his father did not notice any-
thing. One night at supper he remarked, It is strange the
amount of kerosene that we use in this house of late." Giulic
felt a shock, but the conversation stopped there, and the night
work went on.
However, by losing his sleep every night in this way,
Giulio did not rest enough, and in the morning he would get
up feeling tired, and when he did his school work in the
evening he had difficulty in keeping his eyes open. One even-
ing, for the first time in his life, he fell asleep on his copy-
Courage, courage !" cried his father, clapping his hands.
He shook himself and set to work again. But the next
evening and the following days it was the same thing, and
even worse. He dozed over his books, would get up later
than usual, study his lessons in a careless way, and seemed
disgusted with study. His father began to observe this, and
then to worry about him, and at last to reprove him. He
should never have done so.
"Giulio," said he one morning, "you disappoint me; you
are no longer what you once were. This cannot go on. All
the hopes of the family rest upon you. I am dissatisfied, do
you hear? "
Hearing such a reproof, the first really severe one which he
had ever received, the boy was troubled. Yes," said he to
himself, "I cannot continue in this way, it is true; the test
must come to an end." But that same evening, his father ex-
THE HEART OP A BOY
claimed with much satisfaction, "Do you know that, this
month, I have earned thirty-two lire more by addressing wrap-
pers than I did last month And as he said this he pulled
from under the table a box of candy which he had bought in
order to celebrate with his children the extra profit, and which
they all received with delight.
Giulio then took courage, and said in his heart: No,
poor papa, I will not stop deceiving you; I will make a greater
effort to study during the day, but I shall keep on working at
night for you and for the others." And his father added:
" Thirty-two lire more, I am happy-- but that fellow there,"
and he pointed at Giulio, "he displeases me." And Giulio
accepted the reproof in silence, swallowing the tears which were
about to fall, and feeling at the same time, a great sweetness
in his heart.
He kept on working, but fatigue following fatigue, it be-
came harder and harder for him to resist it. He worked in
this way for two months. His father continued to reprove him
and to look at him with more and more of a frown. One day
he went to ask information of the teacher, and the latter
Yes, he goes on because he is intelligent, but he has no
longer the good will which he had at first; he dozes, yawns,
and seems distracted. He writes shorter compositions, and his
penmanship is so bad that they must have been written in
haste. He could do much more."
That evening his father took him aside and talked to him
more severely than he had ever done before: Giulio, you
see that I work, that I wear my life out for the family. You
do not second my efforts. You do not care for me, for your
brothers, for your mother "
Oh! no, no, do not say so, father," cried the boy bursting
into tears and opening his mouth, about to confess everything.
But his father interrupted him, saying:
You know the condition of the family; you know there is
THE HARRT OF A BOY
need of good will and sacrifice on the part of all; you see how
I double up my work. I was counting this month on a grati-
fication of a hundred lire at the railway office, and I learned
this morning that I will not get anything!" At this news,
Giulio repressed the confession which was about to escape from
his lips and repeated resolutely to himself:
No, papa, I will tell you nothing; I will maintain secrecy
in order to be able to work for you; I will compensate you for
the pain that I cause you; at school I will always study enough
to be advanced; what is necessary now is to help you to earn
your living and to lessen the fatigues which are killing you."
And the boy kept up this night work continually for two
months and suffered from lassitude during the day; there were
desperate efforts on the part of the son and bitter reproofs from
But the worst of it all was that the latter was gradually
growing colder toward his boy; he spoke to him rarely, as though
he were a recreant son from whom there was no more to hope,
and always tried to avoid his glance. Giulio noticed this and
suffered from it, and when his father turned his back, he threw
him a furtive kiss, with a pitiful and sad tenderness on his face.
Owing to the sorrow and fatigue, the boy was growing thin-
ner, was losing his color and was forced to neglect his studies.
He understood too well that some day or other it would come
to an end, and every evening he would say: Tonight I will
not get up;" but at the stroke of twelve, at the moment when
he must keep his resolution, he felt a remorse, and it seemed
to him that if he remained in bed he failed to do his duty-rob-
bing his father and his family of a lire; and he would get up,
thinking that some night his father would wake up and sur-
prise him, or that he would find out the deceit by chance in
counting over the wrappers twice, and then all would come to
an end without any action on his part, but he did not feel cour-
ageous enough to tell his father what he was doing; and he
kept on with his work.
THE HEART OF'A BOY
But.one evening at dinner, his father said something which
decided him. His mother looked at him and it seemed to her
that he appeared more ill and weaker than usual; she said to
him: Giulio, you are ill And then turning with anxiety
to her husband, "Giulio is ill. Look how pale he is! My
Giulio, what is the matter with you ? "
His father cast a glance at him and said: "It is his bad
conscience that causes him to be in poor health; he was not like
this when he was a studious pupil and a boy of heart.
But he is looking ill,"' exclaimed the mother.
I don't care," answered the father.
These words were like a knife blade in the heart of the poor
boy. Ha he did not care for him any more His own
father, who once trembled to hear him cough He did not
love him any more He was no longer in doubt; he was dead
in the heart of his father.
"Ah, now, my father," said the boy to himself with his heart
oppressed with anxiety, this is the end, indeed; I cannot live
without your affection; I want to have it back, the whole of it;
I will tell you all; I will not deceive you any longer; I will
study as I did before, let what will happen, if you will only
love me once more, my poor father. This time I am sure of
Nevertheless, when midnight came, he got up again from
mere force of habit more than anything else, and when he was
up, he wished to go and sit for a few minutes, in the peaceful-
ness of the night, and for the last time, in that little room
where he had worked so hard, on the sly, with his heart full
of satisfaction and tenderness. And when he found himself at
the desk with the lamp lighted and those white paper wrap-
pers, upon which he would no longer write the names of per-
sons and towns which by this time he knew by heart, he was
overtaken by a great sadness, and with impetuosity he grasped'
the pen again to begin the usual work. But in stretching out
his hand he pushed a book and it fell.
THI HEART OF A 30Y
The blood rushed to his heart. What if his father should
waken He would certainly not surprise him in the act of
doing something bad. He had resolved to tell him every-
thing; still, to hear that step approaching in the
darkness-to be surprised at that hour of the night, in that sil-
lence! He must also have wakened his mother and she would
be frightened-And to think that for the first time his father
should experience humiliation in his presence, having discov-
ered everything.- All this terrified him. He put his ear
to the lock with suspended breath -- he heard no noise. He
went to another door of the room, but heard nothing. The
whole house was asleep. His father had not heard him.
He felt tranquil and began to write again, and the wrappers
were piling up fast. He heard the regular step of the police-
man in the deserted street, then the noise of a carriage which
suddenly stopped; then, after a while, the rattle of a file of
trucks which were slowly passing; then a profound silence,
broken from time to time by the barking of a dog in the dis-
tance. And he kept on writing and writing.- In the mean time
his father had come in and stood behind him.
Hearing the book fall, he had risen and had stood awaiting
the proper moment; the rattling of the trucks had drowned his
foot-steps and the creaking of the door. He stood there with
his white head over the small black head of Giulio; he had
seen the pen run over the wrappers; in a moment, he had
guessed everything, remembered all, understood all, and a sense
of despairing repentance and of immense tenderness had invaded
his soul and had kept him there, riveted and suffocated behind
Suddenly, Giulio uttered a piercing shriek and two convul-
sive arms had clasped his head. "Oh, papa, papa, forgive me !
forgive me he cried, having become aware of his father's
presence by his weeping.
"You, forgive me," answered his father, sobbing, and cov-
ing his forehead with kisses. I understand all. I know all.
THE HEART OF A BOY
It is I! It is I who ask forgiveness from you, blessed little
child of mine. Come, come with me," and he pushed him, or
rather carried him to his mother who was also awake, and
throwing him into her arms, said:
Kiss this angel of a child, who for the last three months
has not slept but has worked for me, while I was saddening his
heart, the heart of him who earned our bread."
The mother clasped him and held him to her breast without
being able to speak a word, and then said: "Go to sleep
immediately, my child, go to sleep and rest. Take him to
bed !" The father took him in his arms and carried him to
his room and put him to bed, still breathing hard and caressing
him, fixed his pillows and his bed covers.
Thanks, papa." The boy repeated his thanks and added:
"But now, you go to bed, I am satisfied; go to bed, papa." But
his father wanted to see him asleep and sat by the bedside,
took his hand and said: "Sleep Sleep my child And
Giulio, tired out, at last fell asleep and slept many hours, en-
joying for the first time in several months a peaceful sleep,
enlivened by pleasant dreams; and when he opened his eyes the
sun was shining, and he saw close to his. breast, leaning upon
the edge of the little bed, the white head of his father who had
passed the night thus, and who still slept with his brow lean-
ing against his son's heart.
There is Stardi in my class who would have the strength to
do what the little Florentine boy has done. This morning, there
were two events at school: Garoffi was crazy with satisfaction
-because they had returned his album with the addition of three
postage stamps of the Republic of Guatemala which he had
been trying to get for the last three months; and Stardi won
the second medal. Stardi next in the class to Derossi It was
a surprise to all. Who would have thought it would be so in
.r( *r'. -i
~ ,- 1
Iis brow leaning against his son's Aheart.
THE HEART OF A BOY
October, when his father took him to school, bundled up in his
large green overcoat, and said to the master, in the presence of
all the pupils: Have a great deal of patience, because it is
difficult for him to understand." Every one called him a block-
head at the beginning. But he started to work with all his
might, in the day time, by night, at home, at school, or walk-
ing in the street, with his teeth shut and his fists clenched.
And, surely, by dint of trampling on every one, not caring for
the jeers of others, and kicking all those who disturbed him, he
passed ahead of every one, that blockhead, who did not under-
stand the first thing about arithmetic, filled his composition
with mistakes, and could not commit to memory a single para-
graph. Now, he solves problems, writes correctly, sings his
lesson like a song. One can guess at his iron will when one sees
how he is built, so thick-set with a square head and no neck,
with short hands and a coarse voice. He studies evening scrap
books, newspapers, and theatre advertisements, and every time
he gets ten soldi, he buys a book. He has already collected
quite a little library, and, in a moment of good humor, he has
promised to take me to his home to see it. He never speaks
to any one, never plays with any one, but is always there at
his desk with his fists on his temples, sitting like a rock, listen-
ing to the teacher. How he must have struggled, poor Stardi !
The master, although he was impatient and in a bad humor this
morning when he delivered the medals said: Bravo, Stardi,
he who endures conquers." But Stardi did not seem at all puffed
up with pride, he did not even smile, and as soon as he returned
to his bench with his medal, he put his two fists on his temples
and sat just as still and more attentive than before. But
the finest thing happened when he went out of school, where
his father was waiting for him. He is a thick-set fellow, big
and clumsy, with a large round face and a heavy voice. He
did not expect that medal, and could scarcely believe it was
true that Stardi had won it; the teacher was obliged to convince
him, and then he began to laugh heartily and tapped his son on
THE HEART OF A BOY
the back of the neck, saying in a loud voice: Well done !
Bravo, my little blockhead that is the way !" and looked at
him as if amazed, but smiling. And all the boys around
smiled, with the exception of Stardi, who was already pondering
over the lesson for to-morrow morning.
Saturday the 3rst.
Thy companion, Stardz, never complains about his master, I
am sure. The teacher was in a bad humor and was impatient."
And thou sayst that, in a tone of resentment. Think a little, how
many times dost thou act impatiently thyself and with whom ?
With thy father and thy mother, towards whom thy impatience is
a crime. Thy teacher is right to be impatient at times! Think
how many years he has toiled for the boys, and though he has had
many who were kind and devoted to him, there are always some
who are ungrateful and take advantage of his kindness, who do
not appreciate his efforts; and among all of you, you cause him
more bitterness than satisfaction. Think that the most blessed
man on earth, if put in his place, would at times be conquered by
wrath. And then if thou newest how many times he goes to
teach, not feeling well and yet not ill enough to remain away
from the school room. He is impatient because he suffers, and it
pains him to see that you do not notice it and that you take advan-
tage of it. Respect and love thy master, child. Love him be-
cause thy father loves and respects him, because he consecrates his
life to the welfare of so many boys, who will forget him. Love
him because he opens and enlightens thy intelligence and educates
thy soul; because some day when thou art a man, and when
.,... ., he nor I shall be in this world, his image will often pre-
sent itself to thy mind alongside of mine, and then thou wilt notice
certain expressions of sorrow and of weariness in his good face
which thou dost not observe now, but that thou wilt remember and
that will cause thee sorrow even thirty years later; and thou wilt
THE HEART OF A BOY
be ashamed, and will experience sadnessfor not having loved him
and for behaving badly toward him. Love thy teacher because he
belongs to the large family of fty thousand elementary teachers
scattered all over Italy, who are like intellectualfathers to millions
of boys who grow up with thee; a worker scarcely recognized and
badly recompensed, and who prepares for our country a people bet-
ter than the present one. Iam not content with the ,', "' which
thou hast for me, if thou hast not also an affection for all those
who do thee good, and among these thy master, who is the first
after thy parents. Love him as thoou wouldst a brother of mine.
Love him when he caresses thee and when he refproves thee; when
he is just, and when it seems that he is unjust. Love him when
he is merry and affable, and love him also still more when he is
sad. Love him always, and always pronounce with reverence this
Z'ord, "master," which, next to the name of "father," is the
most noble and thesweetest that a man can call any man.
Wednesday the 4tz.
My father was right; the teacher was in a bad humor because
he was not feeling well. For the last three days, a substitute
has taken his place, a little fellow without whiskers and who
looks like a youth. A shameful thing happened this morn-
ing. The boys had been making an uproar at school for the
past two days, because the substitute has a great deal of
patience and says nothing except: Be quiet, be silent, I beg
But this morning they passed all bounds. A great noise
arose and his words could no longer be heard; he would ad-
monish and beg, but it was all lost. The principal peeped
THB H)EAR1 OV A BOY
through the door twice, but as soon as he was gone, the noise
would increase, as it does in a market place. Garrone and
Derossi in vain turned around and made some signs to their
companions to keep quiet, as it was a shame. No one paid
any heed. Stardi kept quiet. He sat with his elbows on the
desk and his fists on his temples, probably dreaming of his
famous library. Garoffi, the boy with the hooked nose and the
collector of postage stamps, kept busy, drawing up a list of
subscribers at two centesimi each for the lottery of a big
inkstand. The rest of the boys chattered and laughed, played
with pen points stuck on the benches, and threw pellets of
paper at each other with the elastics from their garters. The
substitute would grab by the arm, now one boy and now an-
other, and shake him, but it was time and trouble wasted. The
substitute no longer knew what to do, and was entreating:
" Why do you act this way? Do you want me to punish you
by force ?" Then he would pound his fists upon the desk and
cry, in a voice mingled with wrath and tears: "Silence!
Silence! Silence!" It was painful to hear him.
But the noise grew every moment. Franti threw a paper
arrow at him, others uttered cat-calls, some thumped each
other on the head; it was a pandemonium almost beyond de-
scription, when all of a sudden the janitor entered:
Signor Maestro, the principal calls you."
The teacher arose and left hurriedly, making a gesture of
despair. Then the noise recommended stronger than ever.
But suddenly Garrone sprang up with a convulsed face
and his fist closed, and shouted with a voice thick with
Stop this, you brutes! you take advantage of him because
he is good; if he were to bruise your skin .you would keep as
abject as dogs. You are a lot of cowards! The first one who
mocks him again, I will lay for him outside and break his
teeth; I swear it, even though it be under the eyes of his father!"
They were all silent.
THE HEART OF A BOY
Ah! how beautiful it was to see Garrone with those eyes
that were emitting flames! He appeared like a furious little
lion. He looked at the boldest boys, one by one, and they
bent their heads. When the substitute, with red eyes, re-
entered the room not a breath was heard. He stood in amaze-
ment. But, after seeing Garrone, still all aflame and
trembling, he understood and said, with an accent of great
affection, as if he were speaking to a brother: "I thank you,
Stardi lives opposite the school and I have been in his home.
I felt envious, indeed, when I saw his library. He is not
rich; he cannot buy many books; but he keeps with care his
school books and those which his parents give him, and saves
all the soldi which he gets, and puts them aside and spends
them at the book-seller's; in this way he has already got a lit-
tle library. And when his father discovered that he had this
passion, he bought him a nice walnut bookcase with a green
curtain and had many volumes bound in the colors he liked the
best. When he pulls a little string the curtain runs back and
one can see three rows of books of every color, all placed in
good order, shining, with the titles in gold on the back. Books
of stories, of travels, of poetry, and some of them are illus-
trated. He knows how to harmonize the colors and puts the
white volumes next to the red, the yellow ones next to the
black, and the blue ones next to the white in a way that they
may be seen at a distance and make a nice show, and he
amuses himself by changing the combinations. He has made
himself a catalogue. He is like a librarian, always around his
books, dusting them, turning over the leaves, and examining
the bindings; you ought to see with what care he opens them
with those short, thick fingers, blowing through the pages, and
they all seem new. I have worn mine all out! Every new
THE HEART OF A BOY
book he buys is a feast for him; he polishes it and puts it in
place, taking it and looking at it in every way, and brooding
over it like a treasure. He showed me nothing else in an
hour's time. He has sore eyes from reading too much. While
I was there his father passed through the room. He is big
and clumsy and has a large head like Stardi's. He gave him
two or three thumpings on the back of his head, saying with
that big voice of his:
What do you think, eh, of this thick head of bronze ?
It is a thick head which I assure you will succeed in doing
And Stardi half closed his eyes under that rough caress,
like a large hunting dog. I did not dare to jest with him. I
could hardly believe that he is only one year older than I, and
when he said Goodbye at the door, with that face which
always looks ridiculous, I came very near saying to him:
" Good afternoon, sir," as I would to a man. I told my
father about it afterward, when I was at home: I do not under-
stand it; Stardi has no talent, he lacks good manners, he has a
ridiculous looking face, still he imposes respect upon me."
And my father answered: It is because he has character."
And I added: "In the hour that I have been with him, he
has not said fifty words; he has not shown me any toy; he has
not laughed once; yet, I was glad to be there." And my father
answered: It is because you esteem hita."
THE SON OF THE BLACKSMITH
Yes, and I esteem Precossi also; and it is not enough to say
that I esteem him. Precossi, that little thin fellow, who has
languid but good eyes and a frightened look, is the son of a
blacksmith. He is so timid that he says to every one, Excuse
me," but he studies almost too much. His father returns
home drunk and beats him without any reason whatever; throws
his books and copy-books around with a blow of the hand; and
THE HEART OF A BOY
sometimes Precossi comes to school with black and blue marks
on his face, and his eyes red from crying. But one can never
make him tell that his father has beaten him. His companions
say to him:
It is your father who has beaten you," And he answers
immediately: No, that is not true! in order not to disgrace
"It was not you who burned this sheet of paper," the
master said, showing him his lesson half burned.
Yes," he answered I let it fall in the fire."
Still, we well knew that his father, being drunk, had upset
the lamp on the table with a kick while Precossi was writing
He lives in the garret of our house on the other side of the
stairway. The janitor's wife tells my mother everything. One
day my sister Silvia heard him from the balcony crying in ter-
ror; his father had sent him headlong down the stairs because
he had asked him for money to buy a grammar. His father
drinks and does not work, and his family are starving all the
How often does Precossi come to school with an empty
stomach and nibbles in secret the small loaf which Gar-
rone has given him, or an apple which the little teacher with
the red feather has presented to' him; she was his teacher in
the first lower class. But he never says: I am hungry, my
father does not give me enough to eat."
His father calls for him sometimes when he passes the
school. He has a fierce face, with his hair over his eyes and a
cap worn on the back of his head, and he is often unsteady on
his legs; the poor boy trembles when he sees him coming, but
nevertheless he runs to meet him, smiling, and his father acts as
though he did not see him but was thinking of something else.
Poor Precossi! He mends his torn copy-books, borrows
books to study the lesson, patches up the fragments of his shirt
with pins. It is pitiful to see him in the gymnastic class, wearing
THE HEART OF A BOY
shoes that are so large that he can dance inside them, and with
those long trousers which drag on the ground when he walks,
with a jacket too long for him, and those huge sleeves turned
back to the elbow. He studies and does his best and would be
one of the first in the class if he could quietly work at home.
This morning he came to school with the mark of a finger
nail on his cheek, and all the boys said to him: It is your
father, you cannot deny it this time; it is your father who did
that. Tell the principal and he will have him called before the
police magistrate." But he arose and with a voice trembling
with indignation, said: No, it is not true It is not true !
My father never strikes me "
During the lesson, the tears fell on his book, but if any
one looked at him, he made an effort to smile that he might not
show his feelings. Poor Precossi To-morrow, Derossi, Co-
retti, and Nelli are coming to my house, to have lunch with me.
I want to ask Precossi to come also. I would like to give him
some books and to turn the house upside down to amuse him ;
and I would fill his pocket with fruit, so that I might see him
happy for once. Poor Precossi, who is so kind and good, and
who has so much courage !
A NICE VISIT
Thursday the i2th.
This was one of the finest Thursdays in the year. At two
o'clock sharp, Derossi, Coretti, and Nelli, the little hunchback,
came to my house; Precossi's father would not allow him to
come. Derossi a dA Coretti were still laughing because they
had met Crossi,--the boy with the withered arm and red hair,-
the son of the green vegetable woman, in the street; he was
carrying a big cabbage in order to sell it so that with the sold
he received he might buy a pen-holder, and he was so happy
because his father has written from America that they may
expect him back any day. Oh, how happy were the two
THE HEART OF A BOY
hours which we passed together Derossi and Coretti are the
two jolliest boys in school, and my father fell in love with them.
Coretti wore his chocolate-colored knit jacket and his cat-skin
cap. He is a lively fellow, he always wants to be doing some-
thing, stirring up something, putting something in motion.
He had already carried half a wagon load of wood early in the
morning; still he galloped all over the house, observing every-
thing and talking all the time, nimble and quick like a squir-
rel; and'going to the kitchen, he asked the cook how much we
paid for our wood by the "myriagramme," and said that his
father sold it at forty-five centesimi. He always speaks of his
father who was a soldier in the 49th regiment at the battle of
Custozza, where he fought in the army of Prince Humbert.
Coretti is so gentle in his manner-It does not matter that he
was born and brought up surrounded by wood, he has a kind
heart, as my father says. Derossi amused us very much ; he
knows his geography like a teacher, and he would close his
eyes and say:
Behold, I see all Italy; the Appennines which extend to
the Ionian Sea, the rivers which flow here and there, the white
cities, the gulfs, the blue bays and the green hills." And, lie
told rapidly and in order the correct names, as if he were read-
ing them from a paper. We all stood in admiration, looking
at him with that head, covered with blonde curls, held high,
and his eyes closed. So straight and handsome and dressed in
black with gilt buttons, he looked like a statue. In an hour,
he had learned by heart almost three pages which he must
recite the day after to-morrow at the anniversary of the funeral
of King Vittorio. Even Nelli looked at him with admiration
and affection as he wrapped the folds of his black rain-coat
around him, and smiled with those clear and mournful eyes.
That visit gave me much pleasure and left me something like
two bright spots in mind and heart. I was also pleased, when
they left, to see poor Nelli between the other two, large and
strong. who carried him in their arms, making him laugh as I