The Crowning of the Queen


Is not ambition the source of man’s bitterest heartaches in this wretched life? Consider the lowly worm. Is he beset by any of the problems that confronted, for example, poor Gianpaolo Maccalucci in that memorable episode which forms the substance of this sorry tale? No; he is content to remain what nature designed him to be — an invertebrate limbless creeping animal, burrowing zealously in the sweet depths of the loamy earth, enjoying, without complications, the multiple pleasures of his simple estate. But if the worm were suddenly seized with ambitions, what then? Suppose he desired to stick an adventurous nose up out of the ground? We all know what would happen. As like as not, some clucking hen or murderous songbird would come along and make an end of him. Can any man deny that he would have been better off had he been content to remain where he was? I doubt it; and certainly no man can deny that Gianpaolo would have been better off had he not lent a receptive ear to the siren voice of ambition.

But, alas, he wanted his daughter to be Queen of Italy at the Fair . . . ah, Gianpaolo, poor friend, why? Did you not know that such laurels are but empty honors, the fruit of vanity and the treacherous greed that corrupts the simple heart? Suppose she had been crowned the queen, what then? The crown, after all, was only tinsel and burnished tin; certainly it in itself would not have been worth all it cost you in the attempt to gain it for your daughter. What else? The dubious satisfaction of boasting to your friends and the neighbors? Or, perhaps, of remembering, in your old age, that once upon a time your daughter, your own Lena, had been crowned a queen?

We — that is to say, my mother and father and myself—first got wind of our paesano’s extraordinary activity on the occasion of one of our numerous Sunday-afternoon visits to the Maccalucci domicile. As it happened, we surprised him in the midst of having a little snack, which in his case consisted of a big bowl of dried hot red peppers fried in salted oil, a loaf of fragrant Italian bread, and a quart of the incomparable claret which he made himself every summer. He was sitting at the oilcloth-covered table in the kitchen, soaking his bread in the oil and with his mouth crammed full of the peppers, when we entered; he jumped up from the table, pumped my father’s hand enthusiastically, and called to his wife, who was in the cellar. My father, meanwhile, had his eyes already on the peppers; in a moment more Mrs. Maccalucci came bustling in, chairs were drawn up, and within two minutes of our entrance we found ourselves at the table with glasses of wine and forks and great chunks of bread before us.

‘Mangial Eat!’ cried Gianpaolo, as he speared a twisted swirl of pepper with his fork and lifted it, oil dripping, to his mouth.

My father did not need a second invitation. The peppers, which would have been about as tempting as carbolic acid to the throats of most men, were his favorite delicacy; he impaled a pair of them on his fork, soaked the bread in the oil, and shoved them into his mouth. The tears sprang to his eyes; he perspired, coughed, chewed valiantly.

‘Ti piace? You like them?’ beamed Gianpaolo.

Like them! echoed my father (the tears continuing to well in the corners of his eyes and his face blood-red from the shock). But they were wonderful, wonderful! ‘If you’d eat more peppers and smoke less cigarettes,’ he added to me, ‘you would n’t always be complaining of your stomach!’

‘È vero, that’s true,’ nodded Gianpaolo, turning his big nose and solemnly furtive eyes to me. The cigarettes, he added, were bad; they spoiled the stomach and made the complexion sallow. But the peppers — ah! — in the old country, when he was a boy, the children ate them like candy. And who ever heard of a bad stomach in those days?

‘Sure, sure!’ nodded my father, taking a great gurgling swallow of the wine. He wiped his moustache contentedly and speared another pepper. In those days . . .

They were well off, now, to the familiar conversation which formed the bulk of their talk on these Sunday afternoons — a nostalgic recalling of the village they had been born in in the old country, and which they had both left as boys.

Suddenly Gianpaolo threw his fork down and slapped the table. ‘But I forgot to tell you!’ he cried to my father in Italian. A sly, mischievous twinkle came to his eyes; he beamed, grinned, and reached into his pocket, bringing forth a greasy leather wallet which he opened clumsily with his blunt, work-stiffened fingers. He extracted a handful of pink oblong cards and tossed them on the table before my father.

But what were these? asked my father, peering at them curiously.

Read! said Gianpaolo. They were tickets, he added, to the Fair.

My father picked one up and looked at it, then at his paesano, mystified as to the reason for his friend’s excitement. There was a contest, Gianpaolo explained excitedly, for the honor of being chosen Queen of Italy; whoever sold the most tickets would win — and he had entered into it.

‘By God, you would look damn’ funny as the queen,’ chuckled my father jocularly.

But no! said Gianpaolo, aggrieved, and apparently taking my father’s jest literally. Not him, he added — he did not want to be the queen; it was for his daughter Lena that he had entered the contest.

But what nonsense! broke in my mother. It was all, she went on shrewdly, simply a trick to sell more tickets to the Fair; why did he want to bother?

‘But, cara signora,’ said Gianpaolo, turning to her deferentially. Did she not understand? The winner would be Queen of Italy. Think of the honor! And all they had to do was sell the most tickets. . . .

As he said the last, he glanced innocently at the tickets, then at my father; my father coughed, darted a glance to my mother, then —

‘And how much do they cost?’ he asked.

Fifty cents apiece, said Gianpaolo — but he did not want my father to bother . . .

Nonsense! said my father, reaching into his pocket. We would take a dozen.

A dozen! echoed my mother in a stricken voice. But there were only the three of us . . .

Ah well, said my father, what difference did it make? We could give the extra ones to the neighbors. . . .


Such was our entrance into the maelstrom of events that circled around the crowning of the queen. As the bosom friend of Gianpaolo, it was inevitable that my father should have been sucked into this whirlpool; such activities were dear to his enthusiastic heart. Like his paesano, he was inordinately fond of ‘occasions’ of all description — parades, church celebrations, circuses; even, indeed, political rallies (of which more on another occasion).

Hence the spectacle (with which many a housewife in our town was confronted upon answering the front doorbell during the next couple of weeks) of a huge man with a florid countenance and a bristling gray moustache, carrying in one hand his hat and in the other a fistful of pink oblong cards which, immediately the door was opened, he held forth ingratiatingly: ‘Excoosa me, lady, you like to buy a ticket to the Fair?’

Sometimes the big man would be accompanied by a smaller, a bandylegged, long-nosed man with solemnly furtive eyes who stood, hat in hand, a pace or so in the rear, awaiting the psychological moment to insert his contribution to these well-planned assaults on the purses of their victims: ‘Joosta fifty centsa, lady, joosta fifty cents.’

They were both up at the crack of dawn, and after hasty breakfasts they would meet in some designated spot and start out to canvass the town, sometimes together, sometimes separately, meeting, as the sun went down, like two comrades at arms. And in the evening, over their wine, they would regale each other and us with adventurous tales of the day’s occurrences; checking up the number of sales they had made, boasting, laughing gleefully.

Within the larger pattern of the contest for the queen there was now taking place a smaller contest — a contest between my father and his paesano to see who could sell the most tickets. Each tried to outdo the other; and as he entered the house at night my father would puff and groan and rub his aching legs wearily.

To which my mother, exasperated at all this gratuitous expenditure of energy on his part (‘If you feel so much like working, why don’t you clean out the garage or mow the lawn?’), would vengefully exclaim: ‘I only hope you get fallen arches — it would serve you right!’


Before a week had passed, Gianpaolo was neglecting his job entirely and he had conscripted all his children — and as many of his relatives as were willing to lend their assistance — to the task of ticket selling. The sales mounted: Gianpaolo was in a fever of excitement. It was then that a terrible thought occurred to him: Suppose, after all the work and worry they were going through, his daughter did not win?

‘It would break Lena’s heart,’ he confided to my father worriedly. ‘And as for my wife —’ He shook his head and looked at my father out of his solemnly furtive eyes. If only they had some way of knowing how many tickets were being sold, and by whom! They would then be able to know where they stood, instead of having to proceed, as they were now doing, blindly.

My father slapped his thigh.

‘Corpo di Bacco!’ he cried. ‘But why did n’t we think of it before? Amadeo Bucci, who used to sell oranges for my wife’s cousin, is working in the ticket office at the Fair Grounds!’

‘But no!’ cried Gianpaolo delightedly, jumping up and down in his excitement. ‘Is it really true?’

‘By the blessed Madonna, it is indeed true,’ said my father. He looked around cautiously. ‘To-night we will pay him a little visit.’ He rubbed his thumb against his forefinger significantly. ‘A few dollars, and—’

Gianpaolo winked one delighted eye, nodded vigorously, patted my father on the back; and that night they made a visit to Amadeo’s house.

The result of this nocturnal pilgrimage was all they had hoped for. In consideration of his past association with my mother’s cousin in the latter’s produce house (and the ten-dollar bill which Gianpaolo slipped into his palm), Amadeo promised to keep tab on the number of contest tickets being sold, and by whom — which information, relayed each morning by telephone to Gianpaolo, would keep our paesano posted on the progress of the contest.

‘By the Bishop’s holy hat!’ chortled Gianpaolo gleefully as, chuckling with all the fraternal secrecy of arch-conspirators, they left Amadeo’s house. ‘There is no chance of our losing now!’

But, alas, he did not reckon on the eternal duplicity of man. How was he to know that Amadeo, a Sicilian, had lost his job with my mother’s cousin because he was two minutes late for work one morning, — that, indeed, he had been kicked bodily out of the market, — and that, as a result of this, he had sworn undying vengeance against his former employer, a vengeance which for him embraced all the members of my mother’s cousin’s family, even to such remote relations as my mother and father? Gianpaolo, being a paesano, or fellow townsman, of my father, — and thus, by circuitous involvement, a friend of his hated former employer, — was in the same category as all the members of our ‘tribe’; and by the same token, automatically, his blood enemy. Of such is the peculiar quality of Sicilian vengeance.

We, of course, knew nothing of this at the time. It was not until the light of subsequent events cast an illuminating ray upon the deceptive elements underlying the miscarriage of Gianpaolo’s plans that we understood the extent of Amadeo’s cunning, the depth of his villainy. These events prove, beyond question of doubt, that he deliberately deceived Gianpaolo all the while, that the figures regarding the ticket sales which he relayed each morning to our paesano were false; that, indeed, Gianpaolo — far from being ahead all the time, as Amadeo led him to believe — had from the very beginning stood not even a ghost of a chance. In short, the whole thing has been proved, to the satisfaction of us all, to have been nothing less than an elaborate, masterfully conceived and as masterfully executed plot on the part of the perfidious Amadeo to bring about poor Gianpaolo’s ruin. (Which facts, in due time, we propose to present to the jury when Gianpaolo comes up for trial.)

There is ample evidence to back up these strong assertions: consider, for example, the matter of the hundred dollars which Gianpaolo borrowed from my father two days before the contest closed. Amadeo had led him to believe that he was far ahead of the field, that his nearest contender, a wealthy wholesale butcher named Diodato Russo, was over three hundred tickets behind. Then, two days before the contest closed, he phoned Gianpaolo excitedly and told him that Russo had suddenly forged ahead, so much so that he was now in the lead by over a hundred tickets. ‘You’d better sell a couple of hundred tickets in a hurry if you want to win,’ he told Gianpaolo. What was our paesano to do? The contest was dwindling to a close; the town had been combed and cross-combed by contestants until there was hardly a housewife left who had not dug into her purse for the fifty cents necessary to buy a ticket.

In desperation, Gianpaolo borrowed the hundred dollars from my father and gave it to Amadeo, entrusting him to buy two hundred tickets with it and to enter the money on the books to Lena’s credit. It is now evident that this money never saw the ticket office — that, in fact, it was pocketed by Amadeo himself, for there is no record of it on the books. And there is something more, too: if, as Amadeo told Gianpaolo, our paesano was within a hundred tickets of being the winner before he bought the additional two hundred tickets with the money borrowed from my father, how does it happen that the final figures for the contest show that Mr. Russo was the leader by the amazing margin of nine hundred and eighty-six tickets? In short, Gianpaolo, in order to win, would have had to sell nearly a thousand tickets in those last fateful two days before the contest closed. Yet Amadeo had assured him that Russo led by only a paltry hundred tickets, and that Gianpaolo would have a safe margin if he topped Russo’s lead by a like figure! Does all of this not prove, beyond question of even an unreasonable doubt, that Amadeo had betrayed, tricked, and, in the end, robbed him?

All of this, however, pales into insignificance beside the final thrust which Amadeo, with true Sicilian cunning, plunged into Gianpaolo’s poor unsuspecting heart. Not content with having egged Gianpaolo on all through the last days of the contest (when, as we have already pointed out, he had not the slightest chance of winning), nor with tricking our paesano into paying over to him the hundred dollars which Gianpaolo in desperation borrowed from my father—not content with all of this, he announced to Gianpaolo that he had won the contest!

These, then (despite all rumors to the contrary), are the real reasons behind what took place at the Fair on that eventful day which marked the crowning of the queen; and it is on these facts that we all pin our hopes for Gianpaolo’s eventual acquittal.


And now for the fateful episode at the Fair Grounds.

The night before, Gianpaolo gave a great party in his house for all his friends, to celebrate his ‘victory.’ They had bought a beautiful white silk dress with pink flounces for their daughter to wear when the crown (as Amadeo had led them to believe) would be placed on her head; she put on the dress for us, and there were many oh’s and ah’s and enthusiastic congratulations. Gianpaolo was in a very ecstasy of happiness; the past three weeks of arduous pavement pounding had worn him to a shred, but now that it was all over he sighed contentedly, flung his arm about my father, and ordered his wife to ‘ bring on the wine.’

Before leaving, my parents arranged to go with the Maccalucci family to the Fair Grounds for the coronation ceremony; and so, next morning, I drove my mother and father to their house, where all the family was up and in a fever of excitement.

The problem of transporting the six members of his own family and my parents and myself, without separating us, Gianpaolo solved by bringing into service the milk truck which one of his sons drove for a creamery. It was in the back of this truck that, jouncing up and down on the boxes which had been arranged for seats, we started, after a hasty breakfast, for the Fair Grounds, which lay some twenty miles or so outside of town.

Coming down through the pass in the mountains above the Fair that fragrant spring morning, we saw, beneath the brightly shining sun, the glass-topped buildings of the floral exhibits, the gleaming surface of the bandstand, the glinting roofs of the structures which enclosed the agricultural and mineral displays — all neatly separated by graveled walks, in the midst of green grounds encircled by a great wall and ornamented with fluttering pennants and flags. From all sides roads converged, bearing traffic, and thousands of automobiles were parked for many blocks around. We drove the truck into the first vacant spot we could find, and walked the remainder of the way.

Innocents that we were, we were all in the most festive of spirits. Mrs. Maccalucci had packed a great lunch, which now reposed, under lock and key, in one of the compartments of the truck; the entire occasion, in fact, had taken on the aspect of a picnic. Chattering excitedly, we pushed our way through the thickening crowds that surged about the entrance. From behind his barred window at the ticket booth, Amadeo’s blue-black, pointednosed, square-jawed face peered at us with what we now know to have been a crafty, hypocritical expression, but which at the moment we one and all took as a knowing smile of recognition.

‘Amico! Friend!’ cried Gianpaolo; and, rushing up to the window, he shoved his hand beneath the bars and pumped Amadeo’s damp paw with enthusiastic gratitude.

Amadeo grinned, showing all his tobacco-yellowed teeth; Mrs. Maccalucci waddled up and, reaching between the bars, pulled his head down and tried to kiss him. We all stood for a moment while felicitations and congratulations were exchanged, then, since it was nearing time for the coronation ceremony, went on into the Fair Grounds.


The coronation was scheduled to take place in the bandstand. Here a great crowd, Italians in large part, had gathered. The platform was decorated with Italian and American flags; in the centre stood a speaker’s table with a water tumbler and pitcher, and behind the table a row of chairs for the officials. The band itself had been tastefully arranged at one side and in the rear, out of the way; when we arrived it was blaring forth a stirring military march, something from Sousa, I think, which the leader, an agile little man with a white jacket, was pumping out of his men with acrobatic jerks of his arms that resembled a man taking-setting-up exercises.

We stood for a moment in confusion, wondering what to do next; then Carlo, Gianpaolo’s oldest son, approached a policeman and asked him where he was to take Lena, who, he explained importantly, was the queen. The policeman pointed to a clubhouse behind the bandstand, where, it would seem, the officials were awaiting the appointed hour for the ceremony to begin; Carlo strode back to where we were standing and relayed to his father the information he had gained.

‘You find some seats and sit down,’ he added. ‘I’ll take her there.’

At that moment the band came to a stirring close. There was scattered applause, amidst which the officials and speakers suddenly appeared on the platform — the mayor of the town, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, the Italian consul, and so on, all in morning suits and with white carnations in their buttonholes. Carlo grabbed his sister’s hand and started through the crowd; the rest of us scrambled for seats.

A white-haired gentleman — who, it appeared, was chairman on this solemn occasion — stepped forward to the edge of the platform, raised his hand for silence, coughed, and, adjusting his glasses, commenced to address the audience. He had not been speaking three minutes when suddenly, from behind the bandstand, Carlo came running toward us frantically.

‘Pop! Pop!’ he shouted. ‘Something’s gone wrong! They won’t let Lena be the queen!’

‘What?’ cried Gianpaolo. He stared at his son in bewilderment, then, ‘Sangue de la Madonna!’ he roared, and, jumping up from his seat, he gripped his son by the arm and demanded that he explain.

‘They say she did n’t win,’ Carlo stuttered excitedly. ‘They say some other girl got it. She’s back there now with her mother and father.’

Gianpaolo’s face turned blood-red: he jerked his head in the direction of the clubhouse.

‘Ees thata so!’ he cried. ‘Ees thata so!’

Various heads in the audience turned around; the speaker from the platform stopped talking and looked in our direction; from the rear someone shouted, ‘Pipe down!’

Unmindful of all this, Gianpaolo heatedly commanded his son to lead him to the scene of the mixup. His wife grabbed his arm with a restraining movement, and, wailing tearfully, begged him to take his seat. More heads turned around. But Gianpaolo jerked his arm free of his wife’s hand; scowling darkly, he again commanded his son to lead the way. They started off down the aisle. The speaker’s eyes followed them for a moment, then with a little cough he turned and again tried to gain the attention of the audience—half of whom, by now, were more interested in the progress of Gianpaolo and his son toward the clubhouse than they were in the platform. Gianpaolo and Carlo disappeared out of sight behind the bandstand; the speaker, scowling now, raised his voice; the audience settled back.

Whispering worriedly, we waited two minutes; three. The chairman finished his speech, which was an introduction of the mayor. The latter dignitary came forward. He had scarcely commenced his speech when from the direction of the clubhouse came the sound of angry voices. The mayor paused, glanced furtively in that direction, and raised his voice. Suddenly, from out of the clubhouse, Gianpaolo came running, his face red with anger, his short legs propelling him forward with the speed of a hurricane. The audience with one movement followed him as he came running to my father’s side.

‘There’s been a mistake!’ he panted in Italian, ‘They’re trying to tell me that Russo won after all!’

‘Corpo di Bacco!’ roared my father. ‘How is that?’

‘I don’t know!’ said Gianpaolo agonizedly. Suddenly his face lit up. ‘Amadeo!’ he cried. Tie will tell them they are wrong — wait!’

He whirled around and rushed off in the direction of the ticket booth. My father started to get up to follow him; my mother grabbed hold of his coattail. ‘No you don’t!’ she said, jerking him back in his seat. ‘You stay where you are and mind your own business!’

Again we waited on pins and needles for three minutes. The mayor was just concluding his speech, which was a stirring pæan to ‘the friendship felt by all the world for that great nation across the seas, nestling peacefully in the midst of the blue Mediterranean, cradle of culture, Rome, the Renaissance, Cæsar and Marconi, gathered to-day to give tribute, etc. etc.’ ‘And now,’ he said in stentorian tones, ‘it is my great pleasure to present our distinguished Italian consul, Count Guido Della — Della—’He stumbled, colored. One of the officials bent forward and whispered something; the mayor straightened and — ‘Count Guido Dellasanto,’ he concluded triumphantly, ‘who,’ he added, ‘will place this crown, signifying that she has been chosen Queen of Italy for the duration of this great Fair, on the head of the loveliest daughter of the Italian colony, Miss—’ He glanced at his notes; at that moment Gianpaolo came running down the aisle to us. The audience with one movement turned their heads in our direction; the mayor stopped short and also looked.

‘He’s gone!’ screamed Gianpaolo, wringing his hands. ‘Madonna mia, he’s gone!’

‘Quiet!’ someone shouted. ’Pipe down! ’

A couple of policemen started shouldering their way through the crowds in our direction; Gianpaolo stood in the middle of the aisle obliviously and wrung his hands.

‘. . . Miss Angelina Russo!’ concluded the mayor.

The Italian consul, a short, baldheaded man with a monocle, stood up and bowed to the mayor; the mayor bowed in return; the band struck two stirring bars; and up the steps, from the direction of the clubhouse, walked a fat girl in a white silk dress not unlike the dress Gianpaolo had bought for his own daughter. Amidst the cheers, whistles, and hand clapping of the audience, she moved across the platform, an agonized smile of self-consciousness carved on her twitching features as by a knife.

My father and Mrs. Maccalucci begged Gianpaolo to take his seat; oblivious, he stared at the platform; then suddenly —

‘No!’ he screamed. ‘No, no, no! She’sa no queen, my daughter she’sa the queen!’

The policemen, shouldering their way to us, quickened their steps; people stood up in their seats to look in our direction; the officials on the platform looked around uncertainly.

It was at this moment that Gianpaolo caught sight of Amadeo, who, having left his booth, — doubtless to sec ‘the fun,’ — was standing on the edge of the crowd not twenty yards from us. And what was this blackguard doing? He was laughing as though his sides would burst! Gianpaolo stared at him; then all at once a scream broke forth from his lips and he started after Amadeo.

Gianpaolo! ’ cried Mrs. Maccalucci.

But it was too late. Knocking people to left and right, bellowing like a mad bull, Gianpaolo bore down on Amadeo, who turned pell-mell and started to run. People blocked his way; he whirled and cut back across his tracks, down one aisle, up the next, with Gianpaolo hard after him and the policemen hard after Gianpaolo. Women screamed; men and boys jumped up on the seats; all had turned to riotous confusion.

‘Oh, oh, oh!’ wailed Mrs. Maccalucci. ‘Oh, oh, oh!’ And, toppling sidewise against my mother in the seat, she fell over in a dead faint.

Amadeo, meanwhile, finding all ways of escape blocked, scrambled up on the platform. Gianpaolo scrambled up after him, and they chased each other around and around amidst the officials, upsetting the speaker’s table, disrupting the band. The consul dropped the crown and ran; the queen fled back down the stairs whence she had come.

We on our part tried to revive Mrs. Maccalucci. Suddenly Gianpaolo caught up with Amadeo. He grabbed hold of his shoulders, whirled him around, and knocked him to the platform. They rolled over and over, amidst an indistinguishable flailing of arms and legs; then Gianpaolo extricated himself and jumped to his feet. He saw the crown, where the consul had dropped it; he snatched it up, and with a bellow brought it down on Amadeo’s head.

At that moment, both policemen descended on him at once. He ducked, wiggled out of their grasping fingers, and leaped nimbly down off the platform. Above the din we heard his voice, shouting to us to escape to the truck. Half carrying and half pushing the moaning and wailing Mrs. Maccalucci, we shoved our way frantically through the crowd and so outside. How we got her on to the truck I do not know; but at last, puffing and pulling and shoving, we lifted her up into the back and dumped her there like a sack of meal. Then all at once we saw Gianpaolo running toward us, darting in and out amongst people like a rabbit, the puffing policemen still after him. With a rattle of gears, we got the truck to moving; Gianpaolo made a flying leap that landed him on the running board — and we were off.

Hanging on for dear life, we roared up over the pass and down through the winding mountain road, careening in and out of traffic dizzily.

‘Faster, faster!’ panted Gianpaolo to his son.

And then we were out of the mountain and into the swirl of boulevard traffic.

‘We are safe!’ chortled Gianpaolo gleefully, sinking back in the seat. ‘They will never catch us now!’

But, alas, he forgot that Amadeo knew his address — and that telephones are swifter than the fastest racing car, much less a creamery truck. . . . Thus the squad of blue-uniformed officers who sat waiting for us on the porch when, after winding circuitously up and down side streets, we arrived at the Maccalucci domicile at last; and thus —

But there is nothing more to be told, at least not at this writing. The trial has been postponed twice already, awaiting Amadeo’s discharge from the hospital; Gianpaolo, meanwhile, is out on bail. He has aged ten years since the contest began; he neither eats nor (so Mrs. Maccalucci tells us) sleeps; he sits about day in and day out brooding — for which dark activity ho has more than enough time, since, on top of everything else, the stolen hours spent in selling tickets, together with the unsavory notoriety attending the episode at the Fair Grounds, cost him his job.

His one friend, through it all, has been my father. He it was who furnished the money for the bail; and he it is who now sits with him for hours on end, offering encouragement, sympathy, and moral support. The house, meanwhile, has become a dismal place, filled with the dark vapors of our paesano’s despair; the children move about silently, fearing to raise their voices lest their father, in one of the sudden fits of uncontrollable temper which have come to possess him, should throw a shoe or empty wine bottle at their heads; Mrs. Maccalucci has not had a dry eye since the day of the coronation.

There is one point, however, on which the entire family is united in hearty agreement — it will be a cold, cold day in that place where, tradition tells us, heat reigns eternal before they enter another such contest.

‘Let us hope so!’ says my mother fervently. ‘A hundred dollars he borrowed for the tickets, another five hundred for the bail bond — and God only knows how much it will be for the lawyer when he comes up for trial. At this rate . . .‘

‘Ah well!’ says my father philosophically. ‘That is what friends are for. A few dollars more or less — what does it matter?’

‘Oh sure,’ says my mother bitterly. ‘Maybe we should be thankful he didn’t decide to run for President!’