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The Italian Twins   By: (1865-1937)

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The Italian Twins, by Lucy Fitch Perkins.

This is a truly delightful little book, despite the sad predicament in which the Twins find themselves. Beppo and Beppina are twelve years old and are the older children of the aristocratic Marchese Grifoni. They are taken by their family nurse to visit the cathedral in the centre of the city of Florence, for it is Easter Saturday. Unfortunately they lose contact with Teresina the nurse, and set off to find their own way back home. But somehow they lose their way, and are wondering what direction to take when they come across a man and woman with a performing monkey and bear. The woman offers to take the children home, and they all jump up into the van, drawn by a donkey. But when it gets dark the children realise they have been kidnapped.

They travel on through the villages, and the children give performances of dances the woman has taught them, and sing beautifully the songs they have learnt previously. In this way they earn their keep. The woman is determined to get back to the island city of Venice, which is where her family are. After many months Beppo works out how to escape by stealing a boat, and the children make their way due west to Padua. By chance their own nurse Teresina and their mother the Marchesa are in Padua to pray to Saint Antony for his help in restoring the lost Twins to their family. Great are the rejoicings when Teresina finds the children. THE ITALIAN TWINS, BY LUCY FITCH PERKINS.

CHAPTER ONE.

MORNING IN THE GRIFONI PALACE.

Near the banks of the river Arno, in an upper room of the beautiful old palace of the Grifoni family, Beppina, the twelve year old daughter of the Marchese, lay peacefully sleeping. In his own room across the hall from hers, Beppo, her twin brother, slept also, though it was already early dawn of Easter Saturday in the city of Florence, and both children had meant to be up before the sun, that no hour of the precious holiday should be lost in sleep.

It was the jingle of donkey bells and the sound of laughing voices in the street below her windows that at last roused Beppina. Though it was not yet light, the peasants were already pouring into the city from outlying villages and farms, bringing their families in donkey carts or wagons drawn by sleek oxen, to enjoy the wonderful events which were to take place in the city on that holy day.

Beppina opened her great dark eyes and sat up in bed to listen. "I'm awake before Beppo," she whispered joyfully to herself. "I told him I should be first. I wonder what time it is!"

As if in answer to her question a distant clock struck five. "Five o'clock!" murmured Beppina, and, struggling to her knees in her great carved bed, she dipped a dainty finger in the vase of holy water which hung on the wall near by, and crossed herself devoutly. Then, folding her hands, she murmured an Ave Maria before the image of the Virgin which stood on the little table beside her bed. This duty done, she slid to the floor, thrust her little white feet into a pair of blue felt slippers, and her arms into the sleeves of a gay wrapper, then ran across the room to the eastern windows.

As she pushed open the shutters, a gleam of sunshine flashed across the room, lighting the dim frescoes on the high ceiling, and paling the light of the little lamp which burned before the image of the Madonna. A wandering breeze, fresh from the distant hills, blew in, making the flame dance and flicker and flaunting a corner of the white counterpane gayly in the air.

Beppina leaned her arms on the wide stone window sill, and looked out over Florence. The sun had just risen above the blue crest of the Apennines, its level rays tipping the Campanile and the great dome of the Cathedral with light, and turning eastern window panes into flaming beacons. The glowing colour of the sky was reflected in the waters of the Arno, which flowed beneath its many bridges like a stream of molten gold... Continue reading book >>




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