Peasant Autonomy
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Story 98

A hamlet in Northern Italy – 1941

The beast

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: SNappa2006)

Northern Italy.

Slowly the door of the room opens. With a pale face the young doctor comes into the kitchen. All eyes are on him. He has been busy for one and a half hours. “You can say goodbye to her,” he says quietly. “There is nothing more I can do.” Then, his faces sets. “He will get thirty years for it. And that's what he deserves.” With difficulty he restrains a curse. When a short time later the women lament loudly by the dying young woman, and the men stand with bowed heads, their hands clasped in front of their bellies, the doctor drives away in his leather coat on his noisy motorcycle.

Gisella was not yet twenty years old, Ernesto considers, while walking back to his farm late that night. Such an attractive, such a brave young woman. They would have married after a while, once he had good agreements on the land between his and her father.
How often he hadn't told Gisella to be a bit more careful with Talino, because he is unpredictable. Talino is a beast, she had answered him. He set Rico’s farm on fire. With my own eyes I saw him run away across the field, to hide. Then he had answered, everyone in the village knows that. But watch out for Talino. Whereupon Gisella burst into tears, and said that Rico had done nothing, and that everyone let Talino carry on. How he had abused her, and everyone looked the other way, and now that fire.

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Steve Harris)

Northern Italy.

When they were unloading the fresh hay, and Talino had bragged about being a real man, Gisella had shouted at him, “You are a coward, and nothing more.” Then, Talino became enraged, and before anyone could act, he thrust his pitchfork into Gisella’s throat. While everyone was tending to Gisella, Talino fled. Ernesto, who was also helping with haying, ran after him in vain.

Gisella was right, Ernesto thinks, striding along sombrely. We all allowed him to carry on. And now, it is too late.
Above the dark hills floats a pale crescent moon, and tirelessly the crickets are chirping.


The Italian author Cesare Pavese sketches the peasants' life in his fine short novel Your Villages (1941).

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= the Table of contents, story 98.