The Baron in the Trees
- Italo Calvino
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IT WAS at this time, when he began seeing a lot of the Cavalier, that Cosimo noticed something odd in his behavior, or rather something different from usual, whether odder or less odd. It was as if that abstracted air of his no longer came from a wandering mind, but from a fixed and dominating thought. He would often, now, have talkative moments; and though before, unsociable as he was, he never set foot in the town, now, on the other hand, he was always down at the port, mingling with groups or sitting on the pavements with old sailors and boatmen, commenting on the arrival and departure of ships and the misdeeds of the pirates
Lingua Franca for them to fetch him and take him to the ship, stretching
He had lost the will to live and would stay in bed all day long. Nothing in his life had turned out as he hoped. No one mentioned the dukedom any more. His eldest son spent his whole life on trees even now that he was grown up; his half brother had been murdered; his daughter was far away and married into a family even more unpleasant than herself; I was too young to be anything of a companion; his wife too impulsive and hectoring. He began getting hallucinations that the Jesuits had taken over his house and would not allow him to leave his room, and so, bitter and bizarre as he had lived, he came to death
Anyway, the fact remained that our father had never allowed him to keep bees near the house, as the Baron had an unreasonable fear of being stung; when by chance he happened to come across a bee or a wasp in the garden he would run along the alleys, looking ridiculous, thrusting his hands into his wig as if to protect himself from the pecks of an eagle. Once, as he was doing this, his wig slipped, the bee, disturbed by his sudden movement, turned against him and plunged its sting into his bald pate. For three days he tended his head with compresses soaked in vinegar, for he was that kind of man, very proud and strong in serious matters, but frenzied by a slight scratch or pimple
Our father shut himself up in his room and refused all food for fear of being poisoned by the Jesuits
It was very difficult to bring my fiancée around to the idea of coming to live at Ombrosa; she was afraid of my brother. The thought that there was a man moving among the leaves who was watching every move through the windows, who would appear when least expected, filled her with terror
They call me Mino, too, as Cosimo's an old man's name."
"I don't like it."
"Ah . . . you can call me Cosimo."
"Wouldn't think of it! Listen, you, we must get things straight."
"How do you mean?" exclaimed he, who was put out by everything she said