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    Italian without a Master

    by Mark Twain
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    Revolverate in teatro

    Parigi, 27.--La Patrie ha da Chicago:

    Il guardiano del teatro dell'opera di Walace (Indiana), avendo voluto
    espellare uno spettatore che continuava a fumare malgrado il diviety,
    questo spalleggiato dai suoi amici tir'o diversi colpi di rivoltella.
    Il guardiano ripose. Nacque una scarica generale. Grande panico
    tra gli spettatori. Nessun ferito.

    Translation.--"Revolveration in Theater. Paris, 27th. La Patrie
    has from Chicago: The cop of the theater of the opera of Wallace,
    Indiana, had willed to expel a spectator which continued to smoke
    in spite of the prohibition, who, spalleggiato by his friends,
    tir'o (Fr. tir'e, Anglice pulled) manifold revolver-shots;
    great panic among the spectators. Nobody hurt."

    It is bettable that that harmless cataclysm in the theater of the opera
    of Wallace, Indiana, excited not a person in Europe but me, and so
    came near to not being worth cabling to Florence by way of France.
    But it does excite me. It excites me because I cannot make out,
    for sure, what it was that moved the spectator to resist the officer.
    I was gliding along smoothly and without obstruction or accident,
    until I came to that word "spalleggiato," then the bottom fell out.
    You notice what a rich gloom, what a somber and pervading mystery,
    that word sheds all over the whole Wallachian tragedy. That is the charm
    of the thing, that is the delight of it. This is where you begin,
    this is where you revel. You can guess and guess, and have all
    the fun you like; you need not be afraid there will be an end to it;
    none is possible, for no amount of guessing will ever furnish you
    a meaning for that word that you can be sure is the right one.
    All the other words give you hints, by their form, their sound,
    or their spelling--this one doesn't, this one throws out no hints,
    this one keeps its secret. If there is even the slightest slight
    shadow of a hint anywhere, it lies in the very meagerly suggestive
    fact that "spalleggiato" carries our word "egg" in its stomach.
    Well, make the most out of it, and then where are you at?
    You conjecture that the spectator which was smoking in spite
    of the prohibition and become reprohibited by the guardians,
    was "egged on" by his friends, and that was owing to that evil
    influence that he initiated the revolveration in theater that has
    galloped under the sea and come crashing through the European
    press without exciting anybody but me. But are you sure,
    are you dead sure, that that was the way of it? No. Then the
    uncertainty remains, the mystery abides, and with it the charm.
    Guess again.

    If I had a phrase-book of a really satisfactory sort I would
    study it, and not give all my free time to undictionarial readings,
    but there is no such work on the market. The existing phrase-books
    are inadequate. They are well enough as far as they go, but when
    you fall down and skin your leg they don't tell you what to say.
    If you're writing a Italian without a Master essay and need some advice, post your Mark Twain essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

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