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24

(1921) Author: Sigrid Undset
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at them a while; in every bead there were small flaws, as it
were, which absorbed the light.

“You ought really to wear corals, Miss Jahrman. You
would look exactly like a Roman contadina yourself.”

“You don’t say so!” She smiled, pleased. “Do you hear,
you others?”

“You have an Italian name, too,” said Helge eagerly.

“No. I was named after my grandmother, but the Italian
family I lived with last year could not pronounce my ugly
name, and since then I have stuck to the Italian version of it.”

“Francesca,” said Ahlin, in a whisper.

“I shall always think of you as Francesca — signorina
Francesca
.”

“Why not Miss Jahrman? Unfortunately we cannot speak
Italian together, since you don’t know the language.” She
turned to the others. “Jenny, Gunnar — I am going to buy
the corals tomorrow.”

“Yes; I think I heard you say so,” said Heggen.

“And I will not pay more than ninety.”

“You always have to bargain here,” said Helge, as one who
knows. “I went into a shop this afternoon near St. Pietro
and bought this thing for my mother. They asked seven lire,
but I got it for four. Don’t you think it was cheap?” He
put the thing on the table.

Francesca looked at it with contempt. “It costs two fifty
in the market. I took a pair of them to each of the maids at
home last year.”

“The man said it was old,” retorted Helge.

“They always do, when they see that people don’t
understand, and don’t know the language.”

“You don’t think it is pretty?” said Helge, downcast, and
wrapped the pink tissue paper round his treasure. “Don’t
you think I can give it to my mother?”

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