The popular method of collecting is for the principal capo maestra, or temporary boss of Mulberry Street, to "give" a banquet at which all "friends" must be present at five dollars per head. No one cares to be conspicuous by reason of his absence, and the hero returns to Italy with a large-sized draft on Naples or Palermo.
Looking at his lemons, the Signore sighed. I think he hates them. They are leaving him in the lurch. They are sold retail at a halfpenny each all the year round. 'But that is as dear, or dearer, than in England, I say. 'Ah, but, says the maestra, 'that is because your lemons are outdoor fruit from Sicily. Pero one of our lemons is as good as two from elsewhere.
The plan was instantly arranged; they were to present themselves as honest, shipwrecked mariners to the authorities at Cadiz; Soto was to take upon himself the office of mate, or contra maestra, to an imaginary captain, and thus obtain their sanction in disposing of the vessel.
The Bersaglieri buy their own black cock's-plumes, and some pay twenty or thirty francs for the bunch, so the maestra said. The poor ones have only poor, scraggy plumes. There is something very primitive about these men. They remind me really of Agamemnon's soldiers clustered oil the seashore, men, all men, a living, vigorous, physical host of men.
In Oriente, immediately along the south coast line, is the precipitous Sierra Maestra, reaching its greatest altitude in the Pico del Turquino, with an elevation of approximately 8,500 feet. Another elevation, near Santiago, known as La Gran Piedra, is estimated at 5,200 feet. All these heights are densely wooded.
"You will be in danger from the Cubans." "Ask your guerilla captain if he thinks so." The latter said he did not believe there were any insurgents on the Enramada road just then, since their chief, General Garcia, had withdrawn from Bayamo, and was understood to be collecting his entire force near El Cobre, in the Sierra Maestra, or southern coast range. "Very well, then," said Ridge.
What should he choose for his great occasion, this broad, thick-set, ruddy descendant of the peasant proprietors of the plain? No one knew. The title of the play was not revealed. So we were staying at home, it was cold and wet. But the maestra came inflammably on that Thursday evening, and were we not going to the theatre, to see Amleto?
"Couldn't you make it half an hour, General?" asked Ridge, with an audacity that drew forth only a grunt from the Cuban leader. So it happened that in something less than an hour from the time of this important interview our young American, well fed, and provided with a pass through the Cuban lines for himself and one friend, was retracing his steps down the northern slope of the Sierra Maestra.
And the maestra she is the schoolmistress, who wears black gloves while she teaches us Italian says that the lemon was brought by St Francis of Assisi, who came to the Garda here and founded a church and a monastery.
As children they avoid school, later haunt "pool" parlors and saloons, and soon become infected with a desire for "easy money," which makes them glad to follow the lead of some experienced capo maestra. To them he is a sort of demi-god, and they readily become his clients in crime, taking their wages in experience or whatever part of the proceeds he doles out to them.