The Wiseli And The RIco In the Upper Engadine Valley, on the road leading up to the Maloja Pass, lies a lonely town called Sils. Taking a diagonal path from the street back to the mountains, one comes to a smaller village known as Sils–Maria. Here, a little aside from the highway, in a field, two dwellings stood opposite each other. Both had old–fashioned doors and tiny windows set deep in the wall. One house had a garden, where herbs and vegetables and a few straggling flowers were growing. The other, which was much smaller, had only an old stable with a couple of chickens wandering in and out of it.
At the same hour every morning there came out of this forlorn little house a man who was so tall that he had to stoop in order to pass through the doorway. His hair and eyes were very dark, and the lower part of his face was hidden by a heavy black beard. Familiar as this man's figure was to the people of Sils, they always spoke of him as "the Italian." His work took him regularly up the Maloja, where the roads were being improved, or down the Pass to St. Moritz Bath, where some new houses were going up.
Each morning a boy followed the man to the door and stood looking wistfully after him. It would have been hard to say just what those great dark eyes were fixed upon, their gaze seemed so far reaching.
Sunday afternoons, when the weather was favorable, the father and son would go for a walk together. So striking was the likeness between them that no one could help noticing it, although in the bearded face of the man the sadness was less apparent. They seldom spoke, but sometimes the man would hum or whistle a tune, and then the boy would listen eagerly. It was easy to see that music was their chief pleasure. When they were kept in the house by bad weather, the father would play familiar airs on a mouth organ or on a whistle that he had made himself—perhaps on a comb or even on a leaf from a tree. Once he brought home a violin, which delighted the boy beyond measure. He watched the father intently as he played, and later tried to bring out the same notes himself. He must have succeeded fairly well, for the man laughed, and laying his own fingers over the little ones, played several melodies from beginning to end.