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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Edmondo De Amicis (1846–1908)


From “Cuore”

FANCY that Carlo Nobis dusting off his coat-sleeve so disdainfully after Derossi has brushed by him! His infernal pride is simply due to the fact of his father’s being a rich man. But Derossi’s father is rich too. He thinks he ought to have a whole bench to himself, as if the others would make it unfit for him to sit upon. He gives himself airs, and looks down on everybody. And what a fuss he makes if one of the boys happens to stumble over his foot when we file out of the room! He calls you bad names because of the least thing, or else he threatens to make his father come to the school and complain against you. He deserved the lecture his father gave him for calling the coal-merchant’s son a rascally beggar. No one ever saw such a cad. No one cares to speak to him in school, or say good-by when he goes home; there is not even one of us who will whisper an answer to him when he has not learned the lesson. Nobis hates us all, and shows most contempt for Derossi because he is at the head of the class. Garrone he particularly dislikes for the reason that he is so popular. However, Derossi pays no attention to him, and when Garrone hears that Nobis has been blackguarding him behind his back, he says:

“He is so absurdly stuck up that I take no notice of him.”

One day Coretti said to him, when he was sneering at his catskin cap:

“Go to Derossi, and ask him to teach you manners.”

One day he complained to the master about the Calabrian, who had kicked him on the leg. The master asked the Calabrian if he had done it on purpose. The reply being a frank “No, sir,” the teacher said to Nobis:

“You are too quick-tempered.”

To which Nobis answered, in his haughty fashion:

“I shall tell my father about this.”

Now it was for the teacher to get angry:

“If you do, your father will merely point out to you that you are in the wrong, as he has done before. Besides, it is for no one but the master to judge and punish in school.” And he added, speaking less severely, “Come, Nobis, try to behave better. Be more civil to your school-fellows. We have working-men’s sons and gentlemen’s sons here, sons of rich parents and sons of poor parents, and they all love one another and treat each other properly, as they should. Why don’t you behave like the rest? It would be so easy for you to make the other boys care for you, and you would be all the happier for it yourself. Well, have you nothing to answer?”

Nobis, who had been listening with his usual haughty expression, replied coldly:

“No, sir.”

“Sit down,” said the master. “I am sorry for you. You seem to have very little heart.”

And when Nobis sat down, the little mason on the front bench turned round and made such an absurd rabbit’s face at him that the whole class burst out laughing. The teacher saw it, and scolded the boy, but he was obliged to put his hand up to his mouth to hide a smile. Nobis laughed, too, but in a very disagreeable way.