Don Paolo took Tiudo aside: “Son, you are a man now. Your sisters will depend on you.”
“You mean they have to obey me?” The boy responded.
“It’s your responsibility to protect their reputation. Young men will start coming around, and you need to be the protector.” Don Paolo added.
“You mean, I have to be with her all the time? ” He said whining, all the time thinking that if he had to accompany Dolora and later Lina all the time, he’d miss building snowmen and bonfires.
“Are we hunting this year?” Tiudo had hoped that he was now old enough to have his own rifle.
Don Paolo wanted his boy to understand his responsibilities.
“You’ll be in the military when you are older, but for now, you need to be useful and carry yourself with pride in this new manly role. When your mother died, Dolora had to quit school and pitch in around here. You were left carefree for a long time because your family supported you, took you and Lina to school every day. But things are changing, with my health, Dolora's age, even how the business is doing. You need to carry your weight."
“Do I have to continue going to school? I just want to do my art!”
“Tiudo, you have a military career waiting for you, like your grandparent, like every man in our family. You can pursue art anywhere after you retire. It’ll be a good hobby for a man with farms and vineyards and long winters.”
“ I already am better than Michelangelo!”
“Now, now, a little humility, Signor Buonarroti. A genius needs teachers. I can get some one to give you extra lessons. But, you have to promise me that you will be acting more mature from now on. No more running off to play with whomever. Next year, when Graziella is married and living in the house in town, you can stay with them during the school week, and take an art class. What’s the name of the teacher that teaches art?”
“Yeah! If you obey Mingu and Graziella they can let you take classes from him, extra classes. They will need you to be an angel, and do exactly what needs to be done.”
“What about you?”
“What about me?”
“Where are you going to live?”
“I’m going to live and die right here, be buried right next to Mother, right on that hill of ours. If we still own that hill, that is!”
“Nothing but dead people on that hill.”
“A couple of generations of Rapolla men and women, cut in their prime, or in old age. I wouldn’t be surprised if Giuseppe and Elena from America returned to be buried next to their mother and father. There are spaces for all of us. We'll be together up on that hill, shaded by Monticchio."
“You had a brother and sister?”
“Elena, my sister, was seventeen when she left for America, Graziella’s age. Giuseppe, my little brother, about your age. He was her escort. I had just entered the military, missed their departure completely. I never saw them again.”
“Papa’, am I going to get a racing bike at graduation?”
“But Papa’, you promised!”
"Yes, I promised. And God willing, I will keep those promises. Now, you promise."
"Say what it is that you promise."
"I promise I'll look out and protect my sisters."
"That's it! That's the promise I want to hear. God willing, we'll both keep our promises."
"Ask me about that another day, son. I need to rest now."