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Copyright , , and Copyright , He noted day by day in a copy-book, as well as he knew how, what he had seen, felt, thought in the school and outside the school; his father at the end of the year wrote these pages on those notes, taking care not to alter the thought, and preserving, when it was possible, the words of his son. Four years later the boy, being then in the lyceum, read over the MSS. To-day is the first day of school.

These three months of vacation in the country have passed like a dream. This morning my mother conducted me to the Baretti schoolhouse to have me enter for the third elementary course: I was thinking of the country and went unwillingly.

All the streets were swarming with boys: the two book-shops were thronged with fathers and mothers who were purchasing bags, portfolios, and copy-books, and in front of the school so many people had collected, that the beadle and the policeman found it difficult to keep the entrance disencumbered.

Near the door, I felt myself touched on the shoulder: it was my master of the second class, cheerful, as usual, and with his red hair ruffled, and he said to me:—. I knew it perfectly well, yet these words pained me. We made our way in with difficulty. Ladies, gentlemen, women of the people, workmen, officials, nuns, servants, all leading boys with one hand, and holding the promotion books in the other, filled the anteroom and the stairs, making such a buzzing, that it seemed as though one were entering a theatre.

I beheld again with pleasure that large room on the ground floor, with [2] the doors leading to the seven classes, where I had passed nearly every day for three years. There was a throng; the teachers were going and coming. My schoolmistress of the first upper class greeted me from the door of the class-room, and said:—. I shall never see you pass by any more! The director was surrounded by women in distress because there was no room for their sons, and it struck me that his beard was a little whiter than it had been last year.

I found the boys had grown taller and stouter. On the ground floor, where the divisions had already been made, there were little children of the first and lowest section, who did not want to enter the class-rooms, and who resisted like donkeys: it was necessary to drag them in by force, and some escaped from the benches; others, when they saw their parents depart, began to cry, and the parents had to go back and comfort and reprimand them, and the teachers were in despair.

My little brother was placed in the class of Mistress Delcati: I was put with Master Perboni, up stairs on the first floor. The school seemed to me so small and gloomy when I thought of the woods and the mountains where I had passed the summer! I thought again, too, of my master in the second class, who was so good, and who always smiled at us, and was so small that he seemed to be one of us, and I grieved that I should no longer see him there, with his tumbled red hair.

Our teacher is tall; he has no beard; his hair is gray and long; and [3] he has a perpendicular wrinkle on his forehead: he has a big voice, and he looks at us fixedly, one after the other, as though he were reading our inmost thoughts; and he never smiles. There are nine months more. What toil, what monthly examinations, what fatigue! She said to me:—. But I no longer have my master, with his kind, merry smile, and school does not seem pleasant to me as it did before.

My new teacher pleases me also, since this morning. While we were coming in, and when he was already seated at his post, some one of his scholars of last year every now and then peeped in at the door to salute him; they would present themselves and greet him:—.

It was evident that they liked him, and would have liked to return to him. Then he surveyed us attentively, one after the other. Meanwhile, a boy behind him got up on the bench, and began to play the marionette. The teacher turned round suddenly; the boy resumed his seat at one dash, and remained there, with head hanging, in expectation of being punished.

The master placed one hand on his head and said to him:—. Then he returned to his table and finished the dictation. When he had finished dictating, he looked at us a moment in silence; then he said, very, very slowly, with his big but kind voice:—.

We have a year to pass together; let us see that we pass it well. Study and be good. I have no family; you are my family.

Last year I had still a mother: she is dead. I am left alone. I have no one but you in all the world; I have no other affection, no other thought than you: you must be my sons. I wish you well, and you must like me too. I do not wish to be obliged to punish any one. Show me that you are boys of heart: our school shall be a family, and you shall be my consolation and my pride. At that moment the beadle entered to announce the close of school.

We all left our seats very, very quietly. The boy who had stood up on the bench approached the master, and said to him, in a trembling voice: [5] —.

The year has begun with an accident. On my way to school this morning I was repeating to my father these words of our teacher, when we perceived that the street was full of people, who were pressing close to the door of the schoolhouse. The year is beginning badly! We entered with great difficulty. Poor Robetti! He was a boy belonging to the second class, who, on his way to school through the Via Dora Grossa, seeing a little child of the lowest class, who had run away from its mother, fall down in the middle of the street, a few paces from an omnibus which was bearing down upon it, had hastened boldly forward, caught up the child, and placed it in safety; but, as he had not withdrawn his own foot quickly enough, the wheel of the omnibus had passed over it.

He is the son of a captain of artillery. Another woman hastened towards her, and flung her arms about her neck, with sobs: it was the mother of the baby who had been saved.

My child! At that moment a carriage stopped before the door, and a little later the director made his appearance, with the boy in his arms; the latter leaned his head on his shoulder, with pallid face and closed eyes.

Every one stood very still; the sobs of the mother were audible. The director paused a moment, quite pale, and raised the boy up a little in his arms, in order to show him to the people. Bravo, poor child! They went out, placed the lad comfortably in the carriage, and the carriage drove away. Then we all entered school in silence.

Yesterday afternoon, while the master was telling us the news of poor Robetti, who will have to go on crutches, the director entered with a new pupil, a lad [7] with a very brown face, black hair, large black eyes, and thick eyebrows which met on his forehead: he was dressed entirely in dark clothes, with a black morocco belt round his waist. To-day there enters our school a little Italian born in Reggio, in Calabria, more than five hundred miles from here. Love your brother who has come from so far away.

He was born in a glorious land, which has given illustrious men to Italy, and which now furnishes her with stout laborers and brave soldiers; in one of the most beautiful lands of our country, where there are great forests, and great mountains, inhabited by people full of talent and courage.

Treat him well, so that he shall not perceive that he is far away from the city in which he was born; make him see that an Italian boy, in whatever Italian school he sets his foot, will find brothers there.

Then he called loudly:—. Derossi left his bench and stepped up to the little table, facing the Calabrian. All clapped their hands. And the Calabrian was pleased also.

The master assigned him a place, and accompanied him to the bench. Then he said again:—. In order that this case might occur, that a Calabrian boy should be as though in his own house at Turin, and that a boy from Turin should be at home in Calabria, our country fought for fifty years, and thirty thousand Italians died. You must all respect and love each other; but any one of you who should give offence to this comrade, because he was not born in our province, would render himself unworthy of ever again raising his eyes from the earth when he passes the tricolored flag.

Hardly was the Calabrian seated in his place, when his neighbors presented him with pens and a print ; and another boy, from the last bench, sent him a Swiss postage-stamp. The boy who sent the postage-stamp to the Calabrian is the one who pleases me best of all. His name is Garrone: he is the biggest boy in the class: he is about fourteen years old; his head is large, his shoulders broad; he is good, as one can see when he smiles; but it seems as though he always thought like a man.

I already know many of my comrades. Another one pleases me, too, by the name of Coretti, [9] and he wears chocolate-colored trousers and a catskin cap: he is always jolly; he is the son of a huckster of wood, who was a soldier in the war of , in the squadron of Prince Umberto, and they say that he has three medals. There is little Nelli, a poor hunchback, a weak boy, with a thin face.

There is one who is very well dressed, who always wears fine Florentine plush, and is named Votini. He wears a little ragged cap, which he carries rolled up in his pocket like a handkerchief. Beside the little mason there sits Garoffi, a long, thin, silly fellow, with a nose and beak of a screech owl, and very small eyes, who is always trafficking in little pens and images and match-boxes, and who writes the lesson on his nails, in order that he may read it on the sly.

Then there is a young gentleman, Carlo Nobis, who seems very haughty; and he is between two boys who are sympathetic to me,—the son of a blacksmith-ironmonger, clad in a jacket which reaches to his knees, who is pale, as though from illness, who always has a frightened air, and who never laughs; and one with red hair, who has a useless arm, and wears it suspended from his neck; his father has gone away to America, and his mother goes about peddling pot-herbs.

And there is another curious type,—my neighbor on the left,—Stardi—small and thickset, with no neck,—a gruff fellow, who speaks to no one, and seems not to understand much, but stands attending to the master without winking, his brow corrugated with [10] wrinkles, and his teeth clenched; and if he is questioned when the master is speaking, he makes no reply the first and second times, and the third time he gives a kick: and beside him there is a bold, cunning face, belonging to a boy named Franti, who has already been expelled from another district.

But handsomer than all the rest, the one who has the most talent, who will surely be the head this year also, is Derossi; and the master, who has already perceived this, always questions him.

But I like Precossi, the son of the blacksmith-ironmonger, the one with the long jacket, who seems sickly. But Garrone is the biggest and the nicest. It was this very morning that Garrone let us know what he is like. When I entered the school a little late, because the mistress of the upper first had stopped me to inquire at what hour she could find me at home, the master had not yet arrived, and three or four boys were tormenting poor Crossi, the one with the red hair, who has a dead arm, and whose mother sells vegetables.

They were poking him with rulers, hitting him in the face with chestnut shells, and were making him out to be a cripple and a monster, by mimicking [11] him, with his arm hanging from his neck. And he, alone on the end of the bench, and quite pale, began to be affected by it, gazing now at one and now at another with beseeching eyes, that they might leave him in peace.

But the others mocked him worse than ever, and he began to tremble and to turn crimson with rage. All at once, Franti, the boy with the repulsive face, sprang upon a bench, and pretending that he was carrying a basket on each arm, he aped the mother of Crossi, when she used to come to wait for her son at the door; for she is ill now.

Many began to laugh loudly. You have committed one of the basest, the most shameful acts with which a human creature can stain himself. My schoolmistress has kept her promise which she made, and came to-day just as I was on the point of going out with my mother to carry some linen to a poor woman recommended by the Gazette.


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Heart: a Schoolboy's Journal

Copyright, , and This book is specially dedicated to the boys of the elementary schools between the ages of nine and thirteen years, and might be entitled: "The Story of a Scholastic Year written by a Pupil of the Third Class of an Italian Municipal School. He noted day by day in a copy-book, as well as he knew how, what he had seen, felt, thought, in the school and outside the school; his father at the end of the year wrote these pages on those notes, taking care not to alter the thought, and preserving, when it was possible, the words of his son. Four years later the boy, being then in the lyceum, read over the MSS.


Internet Archive Page. M4B Audiobook MB. If you are not in the USA, please verify the copyright status of these works in your own country before downloading, otherwise you may be violating copyright laws. Download cover art Download CD case insert. Little Enrico Bottini is a ten year-old third grade student in Italy who keeps a diary for one whole school year.

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