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Inn of Tranquillity   By: (1867-1933)

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First Page:

STUDIES AND ESSAYS

By John Galsworthy

"Je vous dirai que l'exces est toujours un mal." ANATOLE FRANCE

CONCERNING LIFE

TABLE OF CONTENTS: INN OF TRANQUILITY MAGPIE OVER THE HILL SHEEP SHEARING EVOLUTION RIDING IN THE MIST THE PROCESSION A CHRISTIAN WIND IN THE ROCKS MY DISTANT RELATIVE THE BLACK GODMOTHER

THE INN OF TRANQUILLITY

Under a burning blue sky, among the pine trees and junipers, the cypresses and olives of that Odyssean coast, we came one afternoon on a pink house bearing the legend: "Osteria di Tranquillita,"; and, partly because of the name, and partly because we did not expect to find a house at all in those goat haunted groves above the waves, we tarried for contemplation. To the familiar simplicity of that Italian building there were not lacking signs of a certain spiritual change, for out of the olive grove which grew to its very doors a skittle alley had been formed, and two baby cypress trees were cut into the effigies of a cock and hen. The song of a gramophone, too, was breaking forth into the air, as it were the presiding voice of a high and cosmopolitan mind. And, lost in admiration, we became conscious of the odour of a full flavoured cigar. Yes in the skittle alley a gentleman was standing who wore a bowler hat, a bright brown suit, pink tie, and very yellow boots. His head was round, his cheeks fat and well coloured, his lips red and full under a black moustache, and he was regarding us through very thick and half closed eyelids.

Perceiving him to be the proprietor of the high and cosmopolitan mind, we accosted him.

"Good day!" he replied: "I spik English. Been in Amurrica yes."

"You have a lovely place here."

Sweeping a glance over the skittle alley, he sent forth a long puff of smoke; then, turning to my companion (of the politer sex) with the air of one who has made himself perfect master of a foreign tongue, he smiled, and spoke.

"Too quiet!"

"Precisely; the name of your inn, perhaps, suggests "

"I change all that soon I call it Anglo American hotel."

"Ah! yes; you are very up to date already."

He closed one eye and smiled.

Having passed a few more compliments, we saluted and walked on; and, coming presently to the edge of the cliff, lay down on the thyme and the crumbled leaf dust. All the small singing birds had long been shot and eaten; there came to us no sound but that of the waves swimming in on a gentle south wind. The wanton creatures seemed stretching out white arms to the land, flying desperately from a sea of such stupendous serenity; and over their bare shoulders their hair floated back, pale in the sunshine. If the air was void of sound, it was full of scent that delicious and enlivening perfume of mingled gum, and herbs, and sweet wood being burned somewhere a long way off; and a silky, golden warmth slanted on to us through the olives and umbrella pines. Large wine red violets were growing near. On such a cliff might Theocritus have lain, spinning his songs; on that divine sea Odysseus should have passed. And we felt that presently the goat god must put his head forth from behind a rock.

It seemed a little queer that our friend in the bowler hat should move and breathe within one short flight of a cuckoo from this home of Pan. One could not but at first feelingly remember the old Boer saying: "O God, what things man sees when he goes out without a gun!" But soon the infinite incongruity of this juxtaposition began to produce within one a curious eagerness, a sort of half philosophical delight. It began to seem too good, almost too romantic, to be true. To think of the gramophone wedded to the thin sweet singing of the olive leaves in the evening wind; to remember the scent of his rank cigar marrying with this wild incense; to read that enchanted name, "Inn of Tranquillity," and hear the bland and affable remark of the gentleman who owned it such were, indeed, phenomena to stimulate souls to speculation... Continue reading book >>




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