Excerpt from “A Soldier of the Great War” by Mark Helprin ~~Rafi~~

picture-SoldieroftheGreatWar-HelprinA hawk dropped from the empty sky into the topmost branches of a tall pine. Lia quickly looked up, shading her eyes from the sun, and at that moment Rafi Foa emerged from the Giuliani’s house, dressed in a full business suit and carrying a leather briefcase. Having just walked up the hill, he looked like a soldier on maneuvers in the desert, but he would neither loosen his tie nor take off his jacket, because the suit had a logic of its own, and as he had chosen to wear it, he did not want to contradict it.
“This one is complicated,” Alessandro said as Rafi approached. “He’s made great strides, but he still wears a suit on a day like today.”
Rafi sat down on the blond grass and threw the briefcase in front of him. He had finished his studies with great distinction and was making the rounds of palaces and ministries in hope of starting near the top, but because of the way the government operated, and because his heart was not in it, he hadn’t found a place. Even the guards and doormen sensed his hesitation, and judges and deputy ministers knew immediately that he was pulled by something far above the law, by something holy and alive.
“I went to see the chief of protocol for the Supreme Court,” Rafi said, soaking in sweat. “He’s old enough to be thinking about a successor. He was impressed by my record, and asked about my French. I said it was adequate, and he began to shout in the dialect of the Savoyards – Aostian Italian, we used to call it at school – and he spoke with such insanity and with such a squeaky voice that I couldn’t help laughing.”
“You shouldn’t have laughed,” Alessandro said. He was proud of Rafi and wanted him to get as high a position as possible.
“I couldn’t help it. He asked a lot of questions that I only half understood, and he didn’t hesitate between them. I think his object was to prove that, even though I said I knew French, I didn’t.”
“What did you do?”
“I told him that.”
“You did?” Lia asked.
Rafi nodded. “And I told him . . . I said, ‘You may think you’re speaking French, but you sound like a village idiot.’ He got red and started to make strange noises.”
“What happened?”
“What happened? I left his office. Perhaps I’m not cut out for the law.”


1 Comment

Filed under Fiction, Literature

One response to “Excerpt from “A Soldier of the Great War” by Mark Helprin ~~Rafi~~

  1. Mark Helprin was born in Manhattan, New York on 28 June 1947.
    “A Soldier of the Great War” was published in 1991.

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