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His sister Maria was
the only person ha was able to talk confidently with,quitting his
usual imperturbable mask.Theirs was not a loving relation,too
sceptical they both were to yield to tender feelings ,but it was
a firm,definite link: the only one,perhaps,of their proud lives.
His daughter Rita arrived , too. She used to accompany him after the very young boy's death,caused by a sudden heart stroke,like his mother.
George had lived that loss not only as a sorrow but also as a wrong and injustice made to him,his father,who would have liked to make some plans for that son,who promised so well . Only his daughter was left for him,scorned by his destiny he could expect nothing from her.
Fat dark and heavy,Rita looked older than her thirty years of age,but in her soul she was still a girl, loved sweets and dresses,was very lazy and undetermined.
Her father would gaze at her from his haughty scepticism,sympathetically marked when she watched him with her dark good eyes,to tell him little everyday stories in her quiet voice.
When they were at home,in the evening,after dinner,father and daughter sat still,silent,watching the television,then a wonder, and following the thread of the events on the small screen.
In these quiet moments George accepted his reality and thought it was no use to look for another one.
He sometimes fell asleep and then television stories were woven together with dreams,or with the messy memories of a more or less far off past.
Rita used to follow his father in his tours,and she never missed to pay Maria a visit.
The rumour among the cousins was that the biggest share of the aunt's patrimony was destined to her:once only this topic had been dealt with by George and his sister,and no longer he wanted to consider it.
They both were aware of the fact that owing to her ineptitude Rita would have wasted the patrimony,but they knew,too, that nothing else was to be done: because they loved that human being so different from them,as helpless and frail as they were able of defence and aggression.
Even cousins Pio and Ciro,Paolina's sons,her mother's sister,came to celebrate Maria's birthday.
Gentlemen at home,they felt themselves low in comparison with their socially superior cousin.
Of the two brothers,the former,Pio,from their ancestors had inherited a tall size and a solid harmonious appearence but not the quite pale family complexion,as he was dark in his eyes,skin and hair: his father,an enriched peasant's heritage.The latter,Ciro,was of a singular ugliness: crisp raven hair was a turban on his head, and underneath,his face was witty and wild with slantwise eyes and a thin nose.
A postal clerk ,he got rid of the frustration of his boring job,whence he got his bread,devoting his leisure to a wittier more creative work:he built Christmas cribs.He created characters,houses,landscapes and objects,invented stories.
The family genious,which had through the centuries appeared in some painter or poet,had its expression in his singular activity,manual and imaginative.
A handmade crib piece ,finished in the smallest details was his gift,and each birthday he enriched cousin Maria's collection:even if it might have been more suitable as a Christmas present.
That year Ciro brought a particularly cute,small statue:a glassed and shirt sleeved shoemaker,sitting at his multi-tooled desk around which tiny battered shoes had been placed.
"How nice!"Maria said,on seeing it."Really a little masterpiece!"
"It is the peasant handicraft tradition,"cheerfully answered Ciro,"that has still something to say".
Maria was not interested at all in the peasant handicraft tradition,but she nonetheless smiled at her cousin.The reason is that she was then in high spirits.
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