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The mythical jewels of
Aunt Mary (she is so called by her relatives and friends) are
wellknown among her nieces,who believe she has disposed of them
by a will,open,in any case,to possible revisions.
The aunt does not make up her face,following an ancestral habit,but she has a scrupulous care of her hair,usually tainted,cut and styled by a trustworthy hairdresser.
The soul of a great lady and of a doorkeeper alike seem to live simultaneously in this generous and gruff,firm and frail woman : how incredible indeed,her supple shifting,like Cicero,from the actic to the Asian style,from a simple,clear, easygoing way of speaking to a solemn,biblical one,filled with hidden phrases,puzzling the listeners.
Feeling certain to be always right,she does not see the difference between good and evil,so she can do good or strike in the same calm way,being sure to have ever operated for a good end,following the suggestions of a superior soul: an attitude she has received perhaps,from her family haughtiness,but also from her experience of life,which brought several obstacles she usually faced and solved on her own.
Her oxy eyes are narrowed till slits,when she is deeply inquiring,to understand,or brooding in the deep pit of her memory.
Then the woman's face,with classical,almost fine features,hardens into the mask of a threatening idol,absorbed in the dark whirl of her thoughts.
* * *
Unique and solemn was
that year aunt Mary's birthday celebration.Green was the colour
she had chosen for her dress :a light bright green.Emeralds were
her jewels. She looked like a big tree in its full foliage:an oak,a
fir tree,a secular beech.
She herself felt to be like a solidly rooted plant,waving its top skyward. It was in fact to the sky, to a free clean space,that her soul secretly aspired.
It was the 26th July,very clear sky. Since the early morning gifts had been arriving,a huge branch of fleshy orchids,eager of life and light,was put in a crystal pot on the living room chest of drawers,soon surrounded by cases,ribboned boxes,letters and telegrams.Before lunch George,Maria's brother ,arrived from Milan.Without him this celebration could not exist. A dental surgeon he was the result of the family genius,even if he had bestowed some changes on his ancestors' way of living.
Owing to his lazy hedonistic nature in his job he lacked his ancestors' aggressive self-sacrificing rush.He didn't want to sacrifice himself on the job altar Only for a short time he made use of the consulting room that his father had equipped for him; he soon got tired of his boring repetitive job so that he preferred to give it to a young doctor,receiving in his turn a share of his earnings.
Then he began his gattopardo-style life,which he was particularly bent for.
A very handsome man,he had constantly been annoyed by women,whom he did not appraise and whose intrusiveness he scared as endangering his freedom. Yet he got married,not very excited for it and begot two children,a boy and a girl of whom,once a widower,he was careless watcher for long years.
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