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And now the weekly Special English program "American Stories".

Our story today is called “Marshal in Rome", it was written by May Brisken. Here is Keg Lant with our story.

Often when he stood next to his wife, Marshal reminded me of an unhappy dog. His eyes looked as if he wanted to please her, but he was afraid he would not. His wife was about 35 years old and very pretty. Her name was March, but Marshal called her Ariel. No one knew why he did this. I wanted to ask him. My husband Robert told me not to. He said March and Marshal talked too much already.

That summer we were traveling through Italy with a group of other American tourists. Marshal and his wife were the only people our age in the group. Marshal was 42 years old. He had a weak heart. I did not understand why he always carried March's heavy suitcases and all her packages, but Robert would not let me ask him. Robert did not like March, because she wanted to buy everything she saw, and he did not like Marshal, because he was rich enough to buy March whatever she wanted.

The day we arrived in Rome, Robert made me promise not to talk to Marshal and March. It was our last day of the trip. Robert said if Marshal and March toured Rome with us, it would ruin a day for him. I said "okay."

We left the hotel early in the morning before Marshal and March woke up. We were out all day visiting museums, monuments and churches. When we returned to our hotel that evening, we met Marshal and March. March was trying to open the door to their room. Marshal could not help her. He was carrying about 8 bags of clothing that March had just bought. Robert stood there with his hands in his pockets.

"Did you empty another store, March?” he said.

Marshal laughed, March did not.

"What did you buy Bunny today, Robert?" she asked.

I took the key from her hand. "Here," I said, “let me help you."

Marshal looked over the top of the packages.

“Bunny, where are you and Robert going for dinner?"

I turned the key in the lock.

“We, we heard about this wonderful little Sicilian restaurant." I said as I opened the door. "Would you like to come with us?" I wanted to punish Robert for not helping March with the door.

Marshal smiled, "I have never eaten Sicilian food, shall we go, Ariel?”

But Robert wanted his freedom. "March would not like this restaurant," he said, "it is not elegant."

Now I was angry, "but the food is very tasty." I said.

Marshal looked at March. "Please, honey."

March looked at Robert and then at Marshal. "Okay, okay, we will go with you, but I will need at least one hour to get dressed," she said.

Two hours later, she was finally ready to leave. By the time we reached the restaurant, we all were very hungry. March pointed to something on her menu.

"What is this dish?" she asked a waiter. The waiter just shook his head and smiled at her.

"He does not speak English, March." Robert said.

March lifted the napkin. "Eh...", she said.

We followed her eyes and discovered a small hole in the table cloth. Someone had sewed the hole very nicely by hand. "March," I said," this table cloth is white, it is clean. It has even been ironed."

March was not listening to me; she continued to read the menu. “What is caponata?” she asked.

I said, "it is eggplant, olives and tomatoes.

"I hate eggplant," said March.

Robert moved closer to her, "why not ask for a hamburger and a Coke-Cola, March?" Marshal touched her arm.

“Ariel, honey, put down the menu."

"Ok, let Bunny order for all of us.”

I did not speak Italian, but I took the menu and began pointing to it. The waiter smiled as he wrote down our order.

"You will see," I told March, "there will be plenty of food you will like."

And of course, there was. We ate pasta, caponata, veal and salad. We drank wine, we ordered dessert and coffee. March loved everything.

After we paid the bill, she said, "You know that was really good."

As we walked toward the door, she took Robert’s arm, then she turned to Marshal. "Where is that store?" she asked,

"Ariel," he said gently, "no."

"Marshal,” she said gently, "yes."

Robert became very interested in this conversation. March wanted to buy something and for the first time during this trip, Marshal said no. March walked out of the restaurant, still holding Robert’s arm, “Let’s go this way," she said and cross the street.

"Robert, you must see this beautiful ring. I know Bunny will love it and it does not cost very much."

Robert suddenly stopped walking. March stood in front of him. I was embarrassed and did not know what to do. So I put my head down and kept on walking. Marshal walked next to me. I could not look at him. Now, I understood why he said no to March a few minutes earlier. He knew about her plan to get Robert into the store. He was trying to protect Robert from March, but now I was angry at him for not being able to stop her. I also was sorry for him, because he loved her too much. I began to feel unhappy as I walked alone with my head down.

Suddenly, I saw a gold chain lying on the sidewalk in front of me. I stopped to get it, but Marshal was quicker. "This is very valuable.” March and Robert walked to us.

"Look what I found," he said, holding up the gold chain.

"Let me see it." March demanded, "it is unbelievably beautiful." She said as her hand closed over the chain.

"Wait a minute, "Robert said, "Bunny was with Marshal, maybe Bunny saw it first.”

I shook my head, "Robert, we both saw it. I do not know who saw it first, but Marshal picked it up."

"Ok," March said," we can find out how much it is worth, then Marshal will give you half the money."

"No," said Robert, "I want the chain for Bunny; I will pay you half of what the chain is worth."

Suddenly, Marshal said, "Ariel, honey, you were not here and you did not see it. I did not find it. Bunny did. She stopped to look, all I did was picked it up."

Even I do not know if Marshal was telling the truth. Who knows who saw it first? But, March quickly gave me the chain,

"I am sorry," she said, a little embarrassed," I was not thinking."

A moment later, she turned to her husband, "Marsh," she said, “I want you to buy me a chain just like that."

"Sure," Marshal said, "hey! Robert and Bunny, would you two like to have another cup of coffee?"

We found a cafe and sat down.

After we finished our coffee, March went over to the owner of the cafe. "Do you speak English?" she asked loudly.

The owner nodded, "yes."

"Well, will you sell me the cups we just used for our coffee,” she asked.

The owner looked a little surprised, but he washed the cups and covered them with some newspaper. March paid him and came back to our table with the package of cups.

"I will keep them forever, so I can remember our 2 good friends." She said to Robert and me. Then she handed the package to Marshal.

"I will never forget this evening, will you?" A minute later, March stood up to go to the lady's room.

"I will be right back." She promised.

Marshal turned to watch her as she walked through the cafe, then he turned to us. First, he looked at Robert and then at me,

"Look", he said quietly, "you two do not know her the way I do. You really do not."

You have been listening to the story "Marshal in Rome". It was written by May Brisken and adapted into Special English by Donald Disenctes. Your narrator was Keg Lant .This is Shep O'Neal.
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