7 error-prone idioms, there are stories and philosophies

Roman society did not accept without protest the marriage of Count Sant’Anna to Miss Carroll. In the black world he was highly and severely blamed; in the white world he aroused much envy and violent jealousy. In contrast, the entire Italian-American clan openly rejoiced at being able to add a big name to their guestbook.

As for Countess Sant’Anna, the news of Lelo’s engagement caused her a shock that deeply shook her body and soul. Her son marry a foreigner, a Protestant, her son, a Salvoni, the cardinal’s sister whom the public voice designated as the probable successor of Leo XIII!…

Donna Teresa had been very beautiful, ardently courted. Religion, the pride of a hard and haughty race, had preserved her from those trainings to which the Italian gave in so easily, but which did not mark in her life. She was growing old, as the great Roman ladies used to grow old; she was far behind her time. After the marriage of her daughter, she had reduced her house train and had confined herself to the second floor of her palace. She was no longer going into the world, but the world was still coming to her. She entertained every day, after five o’clock, and her living room was never empty. Without appearing to be, she wielded considerable influence. The passing years had gradually diminished the procession of admirers which had been the triumph of his youth, but she still had around her sixty-year-old chair a circle of devoted friends. Among the companions of the last stage was the Marquis Boni, a man of the past too. He had had for her one of those platonic loves which have become psychological rarities, and of which we hardly find examples except in Italy. He had loved her as a child, young girl and woman, had lived in the radiance of her beauty, had protected her in an occult manner, served her with indefatigable devotion and, by his respect, had imposed on calumny and slander. backbiting. For fifteen years now, he had dined with her every evening and played her game of cards. As he left her, he kissed her hand, and she invariably said: an old man too. He had had for her one of those platonic loves which have become psychological rarities, and of which we hardly find examples except in Italy. He had loved her as a child, young girl and woman, had lived in the radiance of her beauty, had protected her in an occult manner, served her with indefatigable devotion and, by his respect, had imposed on calumny and slander. backbiting. For fifteen years now, he had dined with her every evening and played her game of cards. As he left her, he kissed her hand, and she invariably said: an old man too. He had had for her one of those platonic loves which have become psychological rarities, and of which we hardly find examples except in Italy. He had loved her as a child, young girl and woman, had lived in the radiance of her beauty, had protected her in an occult manner, served her with indefatigable devotion and, by his respect, had imposed on calumny and slander. backbiting. For fifteen years now, he had dined with her every evening and played her game of cards. As he left her, he kissed her hand, and she invariably said: had lived in the radiance of her beauty, had protected her in an occult manner, served her with indefatigable dedication and, by her respect, had imposed slander and slander. For fifteen years now, he had dined with her every evening and played her game of cards. As he left her, he kissed her hand, and she invariably said: had lived in the radiance of her beauty, had protected her in an occult manner, served her with indefatigable dedication and, by her respect, had imposed slander and slander. For fifteen years now, he had dined with her every evening and played her game of cards. As he left her, he kissed her hand, and she invariably said:

-  Buona will be, marchese, domani, alle sette (Good evening, marquis, tomorrow at seven o’clock).

It was his invitation. And the next day he was there, in impeccable clothes, and he would be there, probably, until death came to relieve him of his chivalrous bondage.

In her privacy, the Countess Sant’Anna still had Don Salvatore – an austere Jesuit, her spiritual director; Monsignor Capella, – a little worldly prelate, with a doll face; Doctor Masso, whose science was limited to the treatment of Roman fever and who was stronger in archeology than in medicine; and finally the essential avvocato(lawyer), which one meets in all the families of the aristocracy, where he is received, if not on an equal footing, at least as a confidant and a familiar. The lawyer devotes himself to such and such a house, he takes charge of his affairs, works for its prosperity and becomes a precious helper for people whose haughty ignorance of modern life leaves them helpless. He does this less out of speculation often than out of instinctive sympathy for his clients. Italy is perhaps the only country in the world where a businessman can be moved and governed by this mysterious power.

These devotees ( fedeloni) formed a sort of court for Countess Sant’Anna. Although they belonged to the clerical party, they had intelligences in white society and knew what was being said and done everywhere. They were living gazettes to Donna Teresa: it was whoever had the biggest bag of news and gossip to bring her. Everyone, at will, entertained his hopes and his illusions. Despite the present reality, she still believed that one day or another, the Pope would regain possession of Rome. What a cataclysm she could not imagine, but no miracle seemed impossible to her. Above all, she flattered herself that she was bringing her son back to what she called the right path, by a marriage of her choice: so she had cast her eyes on a little sixteen-year-old princess, still in the convent. At his prayer, the cardinal had sounded out the family and made sure that there would be no obstacle on that side. In the meantime, Miss Carroll arrived in Rome. Donna Teresa soon knew the diligence of her son with the young girl, but was not alarmed, so far was she from believing in the possibility of what had to be. American women had always inspired him with an instinctive antipathy; many times she had declared that Lelo would never marry one with her consent. After that it is easy to imagine his pain, his humiliation, when the young man came to tell him that he had asked for and obtained Miss Carroll’s hand. For the first time, she uttered a cry of revolt against Providence, which allowed her hopes to be so cruelly deceived. She treated her son with unusual severity, refused for several days to listen to him, stiffened against him, overwhelmed him with reproaches. Perhaps she would have won in the end, if the young man had not been able to hide behind the fait accompli.

The number of Dora’s dowry did not fail to impress the friends of the countess and lessen their indignation. Lawyer Orlandi spoke of the increasing demands of modern life, of the impossibility for Lelo to be happy without a great fortune. Marquis Boni began to shyly say that American women were good, that they were honest and made excellent wives. Don Salvatore and Monsignor Capella recognized that with the millions of Miss Carroll, a Sant’Anna could do a lot of good. Cardinal Salvoni fell back on the hope that the young girl would perhaps convert to Catholicism and, later, in the zeal of her new faith, would eventually bring her husband back to the Vatican. Donna Teresa was amazed, scandalized, at the ease with which her followers, her brother even, were reconciled with this marriage. It seemed to her that everything was crumbling around her: principles, convictions, religions. Nothing could have overcome his resistance except the fear of losing his son. He was her pride, her living joy: she didn’t want to leave it entirely to a foreign woman. For that alone, she gave in and forgave. For two months she had been held captive by an attack of rheumatism. She secretly congratulated herself on not being able to pay Madame Carroll the official visit prescribed by propriety, but she consented to receive her and her daughter, and the day of the interview was fixed. she didn’t want to leave it entirely to a foreign woman. For that alone, she gave in and forgave. For two months she had been held captive by an attack of rheumatism. She secretly congratulated herself on not being able to pay Madame Carroll the official visit prescribed by propriety, but she consented to receive her and her daughter, and the day of the interview was fixed. she didn’t want to leave it entirely to a foreign woman. For that alone, she gave in and forgave. For two months she had been held captive by an attack of rheumatism. She secretly congratulated herself on not being able to pay Madame Carroll the official visit prescribed by propriety, but she consented to receive her and her daughter, and the day of the interview was fixed.

The filial feeling is very powerful in the Italian; when he can fully esteem his mother, when he knows her to be irreproachable, his love becomes a kind of cult. Lelo was very proud of his. He admired her old-fashioned beauty, her dignity, even her intransigence. He stayed with her. Although he usually dined in town and spent his evenings in the world, he always found a moment to come and ask for his blessing. After wishing her good night, he bowed his man’s forehead to her; she traced there, with her thumb, the sign of the cross, saying, with the fervor of a believer: “  Dio ti benedica, figlio mio… – God bless you, my son… ”Then she put her beautiful patrician hand against Lelo’s lips, so that he kissed her. It was an exchange of the best of their souls. And this maternal blessing fell like dew on the young man’s often troubled heart, calmed his nervousness, gave him hope for happiness.

Now that Sant’Anna had obtained his mother’s consent to marry an American, he was amazed that he had had the courage to force her hand like he had. He was well aware that between her and her future daughter-in-law there could be neither sympathy nor understanding. This certainty did not stop diminishing his satisfaction. He had often spoken of his family to his fiancée, tried to make her understand their characters, their ideas, but he quickly realized that the meaning of certain things completely escaped him. She laughed at the thought that she, Dora, was going to become the niece of a cardinal, of a pope, perhaps! It seemed overwhelmingly funny to him. In the presence of this Saxon soul, clear, active, and brilliant, of such a different essence, Lelo, who was not a thinker yet, suddenly saw what the Latin soul was. He had the revelation of its depth, of its subtlety, and was a little afraid to feel so much other than the future companion of his life.

Madame Verga had warned Miss Carroll that the Sant’Annas didn’t like Americans and that she should expect to be greeted rather coldly. The young girl shrugged her shoulders. The awareness of having a very large fortune added considerably to his natural poise. Incapable of conceiving the hostility created by the difference of race and religion, she imagined that her quality of rich heiress would suffice to assure him a cordial reception, and hardly suspected what had to be brought into play. moral forces to bring Donna Teresa to accept it. Her toilet for the introductory visit worried her alone. After much deliberation in front of her mirror, she gave preference to a costume of small light gray cloth trimmed with sable, with matching hat. When on the day said, Lelo came to pick her up to take her to her mother’s house, she seemed very thin and very elegant, thus dressed, but terribly modern. Madame Carroll, in her black dress of the good maker, looked quite right and could not but make a favorable impression.

The Sant’Anna Palace, famous for the beauty and the purity of its architecture, occupies an entire side of one of those little forgotten squares of Rome where you can still find the feeling of the past. Dora knew him well; she had tried to admire him, but she found him terribly sad and off-putting.

As she crossed the threshold of this old mansion, the young American felt a sudden lack of light and warmth: she shivered slightly, her babbling ceased, and as she climbed the wide staircase, her heartbeat quickened. . For his part, Lelo was visibly nervous. He knew a lot was going to depend on that first interview. He had not wanted to paralyze his fiancée with recommendations, he preferred that she show herself as she was: her naturalness, her originality, had a chance to please. He only feared his irrepressible frankness and his often too lively repartee.

The door was opened by a very correct servant who fulfilled the functions of butler and footman; the earl gave him the name of Madame and Mademoiselle Carroll. In his footsteps, the two Americans crossed a vast anteroom with high carved benches, panels of old tapestry and the arms of the Sant’Anna under a rich canopy, then they passed through three adjoining lounges, where sofas, armchairs, chairs were clad against walls hung with brocade, adorned with paintings, gilded consoles which supported magnificent mirrors. All those old things, that naked and rich interior, cold and rigid, increased Dora’s uneasiness. Arrived on the threshold of the large green salon, Empire style, she heard herself announce and found herself in the presence of Countess Sant’Anna, Duchess Avellina, her daughter, and Cardinal Salvoni. So, between these beings of various origins, unknown to each other, and whose destinies were to be mingled by a game of Providence, there was a kind of excitement, a passage of fluids, a rapid exchange of these first looks that often take ineffaceable snapshots.

Countess Sant’Anna, dressed in a rather long woolen dress, a lace collar thrown over her shoulders, was a haughty and noble figure, with the profile of a Roman medal framed by gray hair, still abundant, slightly crimped; the imperious line of his eyebrows added to the expression of his very lively black eyes, and his stern mouth gave the face a sort of stillness. It was a head that sorrows had not bowed, a countenance that age had not softened, and in his whole person there was an irreducible intransigence. His brother, Cardinal Salvoni, had the grand air of an aristocratic prelate. His forehead, of a powerful shape, indicated unusual capacities. Her eyes, often lowered, which rose with rapid, penetrating glances, her lips firm in keeping all the secrets of the Church,

Duchess Avellina – Donna Pia – she was the beauty of the black party. She had been compared to all Madonnas. She had the regular and pure features, but the resemblance ended there. The play of his physiognomy revealed a learned and sensual coquetry mitigated by a religious temperament.

It didn’t take many glances at Dora to grasp the characteristic features of these three Sant’Annas. She had the curious impression that she was under the fire of a crowd of black eyes and she felt an indefinable uneasiness.

Donna Teresa indicated seats to the two Americans, then, speaking in French to Mrs. Carroll, she apologized for not being able to visit her.

– Thank you, madame, – she added ceremoniously, – for having accepted my son’s request. I hope our children will be happy.

– I hope so too ; they have what it takes for that.

– It must be a great sacrifice for you to give your daughter to a stranger?

This naturally implied the reciprocity of sacrifice.

– A sacrifice ? Oh ! don’t believe it, madame! said Mademoiselle Carroll quickly, to come to the aid of her mother, who had a nervous shyness to speak French. – Mum recognized, almost as quickly as I, Lelo’s qualities, she added, giving her fiance a mischievous look. – She’s sure he’ll make a model husband. That is enough for him.

Hearing the surname of her son thus familiarly thrown, the countess felt an internal tension; anger and pride swelled his nostrils.

“And you, mademoiselle, do you think you can get used to our life, to our customs?” asked Duchess Avellina.

– Perfectly! As well as Princess Branca, Marquise Terrant … In the past, I am not saying, Rome would have frightened me, but today it is cheerful, lively, quite cosmopolitan.

No word could be more miserable; Lelo looked down in embarrassment.

– It’s true, it is cosmopolitan, – said Donna Teresa, – so much that only foreigners feel at home there. It is becoming more and more commonplace.

– Banal! cried Dora. Oh ! it will never be that! See, she’s not tall and she looks huge.

A flash of pleasure lit up the cardinal’s face. He looked at the young American with a benevolent expression.

– You are right, mademoiselle, and it is Saint-Pierre, it is the Vatican, which make it immense.

– It is also the Colosseum, the Forum, the palace of the Caesars, – answered Miss Carroll with this frankness which nothing bothered. – I realized, just the other day, that dimensions don’t always make greatness. Beside the temple of Vesta, so perfect in proportions and lines, our twenty-five-storey houses appear to me to be singularly small.

Donna Pia looked in surprise at this young girl who had ideas about people and things, and who spelled them out so clearly.

– Have you visited Rome entirely? asked the cardinal.

– More or less, and at the same time, I showed her to Lelo who didn’t know her at all. I made him read me pages and pages of Baedeker. When I saw that he was not kicking, I began to believe in the sincerity of his feelings.

“You were not wrong,” replied the count, smiling; – I have never done this for anyone.

– A Sant’Anna Baedeker student in the company of an American, it’s a sign of the times! said Duchess Avellina with a tinge of disdain and bitterness.

“It’s true,” Dora replied quietly. Everything must be arranged by Providence.

“It is impossible to doubt it,” said the cardinal.

– I vaguely believed it, but now I’m sure. Judge! I had come to Europe to have fun: I meet Mr. Sant’Anna, and here I am fixed forever on this side of the ocean. Every moment, I rub my eyes to know if I’m not dreaming.

“I have heard that America is a paradise for women,” said the Duchess Avellina; I am surprised that you all leave her so easily.

– To try purgatory, no doubt!… And then, we believe ourselves a little citizens of the world. When you spend your life as a young girl in America and get married in Europe, it’s almost being born a second time. I’m going to do a lot of new experiences, learn another language, “  it will be great fun , it will be very fun…” So, I would have been sorry not to know the pleasure and the emotions of this beautiful fox hunt. through the Campagna. When, out of a hundred and fifty, we get a good second or first, well, that’s something! A triumph!

A slightly mocking smile crossed Donna Pia’s lips. The discovery of this new type of young girl kept Countess Sant’Anna speechless with astonishment.

“You already have beautiful Catholic churches in New York,” said the cardinal.

– Yes, Saint-Patrick’s Cathedral, Saint-Léon’s Church… High society goes to Saint-Patrick on Easter Day to hear the music, which is superb. All the great passing artists sang there.

– Do you like Catholic worship?

– I find it very pretty, very poetic. The worship of the Episcopal Church, to which I belong, is very similar to him. We have candles, incense, complicated services. I imagine that, except for confession, it’s the same thing.

Each of these words showed the spiritual distance that existed between the young American and her fiancé’s family. Lelo, ashamed, lowered his eyes again.

A prodigious disdain arched Donna Teresa’s lips.

– The same thing, the worship of the Episcopal Church! she said. Oh ! no, miss. Between Catholicism and other religions there is the gulf that separates truth from error.

– Ah! here ! but what is error for this one is not so for that one. I guess the diversity of cults is necessary like the diversity of people and things.

Hearing him thus decide and settle such questions, the cardinal opened wide his magnificent black eyes and fixed them on the young girl as on a prodigy. She seemed to him so oblivious to the enormous heresy she had just launched that he deemed it unnecessary to demonstrate to her the need for a single faith.

Madame Carroll, feeling that this first visit had lasted long enough, rose.

“As soon as I am allowed to go out, I will be happy to go and see you,” said the countess politely. – One of these days we will have a family dinner which will allow us to get to know each other better. If you don’t fear the company of an old woman, she added, addressing Dora, you will find me every day after five.

– I hope, my daughter… figlia mia , said the cardinal, that God will bless your marriage. I will not stop asking him.

And, as if he wanted to take possession of the spirit of his future niece, the prelate traced the sign of the cross on her forehead.

The count, finally breathing, accompanied the two Americans to their car. As soon as the door was closed on her and her mother, Dora cried out:

– So many black eyes! Lelo claims his sister has purple eyes; they seemed to me like coals!… I would like them to be blue, green, even red, so that there were fewer black eyes in casa Sant’Anna! …

Madame Carroll couldn’t help but laugh.

– You don’t seem delighted with your new family.

– She is rather formidable, but it is not her that I marry.

– No … however I fear that it is a serious obstacle to your happiness. She will never understand you. She’s from a different time than us… I have an idea that this marriage is foolishness. Think about it, there is still time.

– No, mammy , it’s not time anymore, because I love Lelo, – Dora said with sudden gentleness. – I couldn’t be happy without him. The Countess and Donna Pia hate me, that’s for sure; but I believe that I have made the conquest of the cardinal. I will maintain his sympathy with care. I like him, my future uncle. He has a good countenance. This red cap that puts light on his head is very imposing, symbolic, I suppose. His sign of the cross moved me awfully, even through my veil. If he becomes pope, I will become a Catholic.

– God forbid! cried Mrs. Carroll fervently. – It would be missing more than that!

After getting his fiancée into the car, Lelo went back to his mother’s house to find out how she felt and to end the unpleasant things.

– Well, how do you find her, madre mia  ? he asked entering the living room.

– You call this person a young girl? said Donna Teresa.

– But she’s not a widow, as far as I know! Sant’Anna said laughing nervously.

– She could be, with her aplomb… I wonder what charmed you about her. She is ugly.

– Ugly ! with eyes and hair like hers! Come on, this is bias.

“Well, she doesn’t displease me, this American,” said the cardinal. There is in her a frankness a little raw, but which lets see the back of her mind. She is interesting.

“If ever that woman becomes Catholic!” Said the Duchess Avellina.

– Anything ! replied Lelo sharply; Mademoiselle Carroll possesses all the qualities which make life pleasant: she is cheerful, original, she has an excellent character; moreover, she is as honest as the day. I never caught her deviating from the truth, even in small things. Do you know many young women of whom you can say the same?

– Let us hope for our country that American women do not have the privilege of sincerity! Donna Pia snapped.

Sant’Anna sat down opposite her mother, and, taking her hands:

– Come, madre mia , he said, get out of this sorry air.

– I had such a different dream for you!

– Yes, I know, you had plotted a marriage which was to bring me back, bound hand and foot, in your party. Do not regret it: for that very reason, I would never have consented. All of you, as long as you are, you seem to me like people walking with their heads turned back so as not to see in front of them. The eyes were made, however, to look ahead.

– And up ! said the cardinal.

– And upstairs, if you like. You should be convinced that the Church has been cast definitively down another path, and must follow it willy-nilly. Here, as a child, I witnessed a scene whose impression has never been erased. The day the Italians entered, I was in the laundry room with the women on duty. They were all gathered there like frightened ants, in anticipation and terror of what was to come. Mary, my Irish maid, – a little brown teapot in her hand, this teapot brought from her country to which she held like the apple of her eye, – spoke in the middle of the room, in her baroque Italian; she asserted that the enemies of the Pope would never enter Rome. ” Never ! never ! she repeated, stretching out her right arm with a tragic gesture, – God will not allow it! And God allowed it! At that very minute the cannon of victory was heard: the Italians had entered. Suddenly, the precious brown teapot, escaping from Mary’s hand, broke on the floor. And the brave woman, struck down to the soul, let herself fall on a chair; big tears flowed from his eyes; she could only stammer: “Jesus! is it possible!… The end of the world, then! It was the end of a system only… At that point, I hadn’t understood much about this scene, – I was only five years old, – but later it made sense, meaning in my mind. And many times, in reminding myself of it, I have associated the fate of temporal power with that of the little brown teapot: like her, it seemed to me irreparably broken. At that very minute the cannon of victory was heard: the Italians had entered. Suddenly, the precious brown teapot, escaping from Mary’s hand, broke on the floor. And the brave woman, struck down to the soul, let herself fall on a chair; big tears flowed from his eyes; she could only stammer: “Jesus! is it possible!… The end of the world, then! It was the end of a system only… At that point, I hadn’t understood much about this scene, – I was only five years old, – but later it made sense, meaning in my mind. And many times, in reminding myself of it, I have associated the fate of temporal power with that of the little brown teapot: like her, it seemed to me irreparably broken. At that very minute the cannon of victory was heard: the Italians had entered. Suddenly, the precious brown teapot, escaping from Mary’s hand, broke on the floor. And the brave woman, struck down to the soul, let herself fall on a chair; big tears flowed from his eyes; she could only stammer: “Jesus! is it possible!… The end of the world, then! It was the end of a system only… At that moment I hadn’t understood much about this scene – I was only five years old – but later it made sense, meaning in my mind. And many times, remembering it, I have associated the fate of temporal power with that of the little brown teapot: like her, it seemed to me irretrievably broken. the precious brown teapot, escaping from Mary’s hand, shattered on the floor. And the brave woman, struck down to the soul, let herself fall on a chair; big tears flowed from his eyes; she could only stammer: “Jesus! is it possible!… The end of the world, then! It was the end of a system only… At that moment I hadn’t understood much about this scene – I was only five years old – but later it made sense, meaning in my mind. And many times, remembering it, I have associated the fate of temporal power with that of the little brown teapot: like her, it seemed to me irretrievably broken. the precious brown teapot, escaping from Mary’s hand, shattered on the floor. And the brave woman, struck down to the soul, let herself fall on a chair; big tears flowed from his eyes; she could only stammer: “Jesus! is it really possible!… The end of the world, then! It was the end of a system only… At that moment I hadn’t understood much about this scene – I was only five years old – but later it made sense, meaning in my mind. And many times, remembering it, I have associated the fate of temporal power with that of the little brown teapot: like her, it seemed to me irretrievably broken. she could only stammer: “Jesus! is it really possible!… The end of the world, then! It was the end of a system only… At that moment I hadn’t understood much about this scene – I was only five years old – but later it made sense, meaning in my mind. And many times, remembering it, I have associated the fate of temporal power with that of the little brown teapot: like her, it seemed to me irretrievably broken. she could only stammer: “Jesus! is it possible!… The end of the world, then! It was the end of a system only… At that moment I hadn’t understood much about this scene – I was only five years old – but later it made sense, meaning in my mind. And many times, remembering it, I have associated the fate of temporal power with that of the little brown teapot: like her, it seemed to me irretrievably broken.

This story seemed to have affected the cardinal’s soul; his face twitched in pain.

– The Pope and the Church are no less great, added the young man, on the contrary! … Recently, I have often walked with Miss Carroll around the Vatican; in his silence and his solitude he seemed to me more formidable than the Quirinal.

-  Ci fai troppo onore, figlio mio … (You do us too much honor, my son…), said the prelate in a bitter and sarcastic tone.

Under the impression of a passionate feeling, the Italian always finds words and ideas, which seem to spring from a reserve unknown to himself; the count had spoken with conviction and firmness, as he rarely did, but without succeeding in shaking his listeners. Noticing that his mother’s face remained frozen with grief and disappointment, he began to kiss her hands.

-  Madre mia , – he said, magnetizing her with eyes shining with filial love, – forgive me. Be very generous.

– Instead of being able to rejoice in your marriage, as I had hoped, I must resign myself to it. It’s hard.

– You would never have enjoyed my wedding, said Lelo, smiling; you love me too jealously for that. You should be happy to see me marry an American. A foreigner will take less of me than an Italian would have done.

The young man’s subtle mind had found the only argument that could console Donna Teresa. All the muscles in her face relaxed, her eyes became wet, she looked at her son with a radiance of tenderness, then she said softly:

– Oh ! children, children!… what torment and what joy!

– I suppose, said Donna Pia in her shrill voice, that I have to go visit these American women?

– Yes, if you don’t want to quarrel with me, Lelo replied.

– That’s fine, we’ll go.