June 9, 1866. This morning, driving home from delivering Crocifisa Abatti’s thirteenth child, I see a knot of men gathered in the piazza. They jostle one another and raise a cloud of dust.
Waiting to hear the call to arms, a grizzled one tells me.
I smell sheep, stale wine, and tobacco. He slaps Largo’s rump, but the mule knows better than to run. There’s talk in the streets of war with Austria. Sicily bleeds, and we go to war.