25 February

What a day!

It's nearly midnight; everyone else has gone to bed, and I'm alone here in my room, alone with my secret, my great secret, and I'm laughing and crying and trembling without knowing why or with what. I'm finding it hard even to write about this important event in my life for fear that someone will find out...

But no! In these pages I have written about my every act and thought, and I feel a need to give free rein, here in my dear diary, to the feelings which invade my soul and move me so greatly...

Before I continue, I just want to check that my secret is safe.

Yes, yes! All two hundred of them are there.. Not one is missing! Let's try to stay calm, and let's carry on from where we were interrupted.

Poor Mr Venanzio, then, has died. That was what I wrote yesterday.

I also said that the news of his death made me sad, which is true, since I felt sorry for that deaf paralytic old man, whom everyone wished dead, and now that he's dead and up there, he can see things as they really are and must understand that if I ripped his last tooth out with a hook, I didn't do it out of malice but only in trying to amuse him, and I certainly wouldn't have done what I did had I been able to foresee the consequences which, in any case, my brother-in-law overstated greatly since there is no real difference between having one decayed tooth and no teeth at all, and I do not believe I shortened that poor man's life by even a minute.

However, even though I was sorry to hear that he had died, I was no longer thinking about it this morning until a strange event happened.

At about half past nine, whilst I was dunking my third buttered roll in my caffelatte with lots of sugar (it's not gluttony, I always put lots of sugar in since I always have lots of milk with lots of coffee so that I can dunk lots of rolls with lots of butter), I suddenly heard someone call me:

"Giannino! Giannino!.. Come here at once..." It was Ada who was shouting like this and, busy as I was, I wouldn't have budged at all had I not heard something truly unusual in her tone of voice.

I ran into the hallway, where I found her and mama talking about a letter which they were holding.

"Look, Giannino", said my mother, "This letter is for you"

"So why did you open it?", I replied.

"Well, really! I'm your mother and I have a right to know who is writing to you, I think."

"And who is writing to me?"

"Cavalier Ciapi, the solicitor."

"And what does he want from me?"


So I read, wondering, the letter which I reproduce here:

Cavalier Temistocle Ciapi


Master Giovanni Stoppani

In my capacity as a notary public, called upon to act as executor of the last will and testament of the late Venanzio Maralli, I have the honour of quoting here paragraph 2 of said will, which regards you personally:

2. I desire and require that at the reading of this testament, as well as those directly interested, that is my nephew, the lawyer Carlo Maralli, his maid, Cesira degli Innocenti and Giovan Maria Salviati, mayor of this town, there also be present Giovannino Stoppani, brother-in-law of Carlo Maralli, even though none of the dispositions in this will regard him. I desire his presence because, having met him, it pleases me to think that master Stoppani may find, in my last wishes, some useful lessons about the vanity of wealth, and a noble example. To this end, I charge the solicitor Cavalier Temistocle Ciapi with fetching Giovanni Stoppani wherever he may be. Any expense incurred in so doing will be paid for out of the sum referred to in paragraph 9.

As requested in the above paragraph, I will, at three in the afternoon today, send an employee of mine to accompany you in a carriage to my studio in Via Vittorio Emanuele number 15, first floor, where the reading of the last will and testament of the late Mr Venanzio Maralli will take place.

Temistocle Ciapi, Notary

"Try to remember, Giannino" said my mother, after I'd read the letter. "Think about what you did during the time you stayed with the Marallis. Did you do something else naughty which could have caused this?"

"Um..." I said, "there was that business with the tooth.."

"It's strange!" said Ada. "I've never heard of a child being invited to the reading of a will before."

"If he'd left you something it would make sense", added my mother, " but there's no danger of that after what you did..."

"And anyway" said my sister, "the letter is very clear.. although none of the dispositions in this will regard him."

"In any event", concluded mama, "we won't say anything to your father. If there is something behind this, we don't want him to send you away to some kind of institution."

We agreed, then, that at three in the afternoon Caterina would wait outside the front door so that she could tell the driver to wait without him having to ring. I would then get silently into the carriage. Mama and Ada would tell my father that I had gone to play at Mrs Olga's house.

There's no point trying to describe how eager I was for three o'clock to arrive.

Finally, Caterina came to call me. I slipped out of the house and got into the carriage, which was waiting there with the door open. Inside, there was a man all dressed in black who said:

"Are you Giovannino Stoppani?"

"Yes, and I have the letter here."


When I went into Ciapi's studio a little later, the mayor was there, and my brother in law Maralli arrived soon afterwards. He ?? as soon as he saw me, but I pretended not to see him and instead I said hello to his maid, Cesira, who had arrived immediately after him. She sat next to me, and asked me how I was.

Ciapi sat in an armchair in behind of a small table. This solicitor looked funny. He was very small and fat, with a round face half-buried in an embroidered hat

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