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Luigi and the Long-Nosed Soldier

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     Luigi lived in an Italian village right near the Swiss border. And he went to school in Aroa (that was the name of his


          Author:  Louis Slobodkin
          Copyright Date:  1963
          Publisher:  Macmillan
          Pagination:  32 p.
village) every day except Saturday.
     On Saturday morning Luigi would get on a bus and ride across the border for a violin lesson in the little Swiss village of Biasca. Professor Tagliatini was Luigi’s violin teacher. He was rather old but everyone said he was the best violin teacher for miles around.
     Early every Saturday morning, after Luigi’s mother packed a nice lunch for him, he got his violin case, grabbed his lunch box, and ran for the bus.
     There were always a lot of people on the bus who were going from Italy to Switzerland. On the Italian side of the border the bus stopped. Two Italian soldiers climbed on the bus and they looked at everyone. This was to be sure there were no smugglers or prisoners escaping from Italy. (That’s what Luigi thought.)

     Then the soldiers wished everybody a happy journey and a good morning and they climbed off.
     The bus crossed over the border to the Swiss side. Again it stopped and two Swiss soldiers climbed aboard. They too looked carefully at everyone. Sometimes they asked someone who was carrying a package what he or she had in that package. And there were times when Luigi saw people open their packages to show the soldiers what was in them.
     Luigi knew the Swiss soldiers were watching out for smugglers. But they never asked him to open his lunch box or his violin case.
     He often thought if he were a smuggler he could easily fill his lunch box with diamonds or some other jewels, or he might fill his violin case with gold. Then he could smuggle such treasures from Italy to Switzerland (or from Switzerland to Italy as he came home), and no one would have paid any attention to him.
     Sometimes he tried to look like a smuggler. He would frown and pull his cap down over his eyes. But the soldiers on both sides of the border just smiled and patted him on the head as they passed. They never asked him to open his lunch box to look for diamonds and they never looked for gold in his small violin case.
     After Luigi had his violin lesson in Professor Tagliatini’s house, he would eat his lunch. Luigi’s mother always packed an extra cake for the Professor. Then he would go back to Italy. Again the Swiss soldiers would climb on the bus on the Italian side of the border. And at last Luigi would ride home to Aroa.
     That’s what happened every Saturday until one Saturday when a new Italian soldier followed the two regular Italian soldiers onto the bus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


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