Verona’s Two Gentlemen Submitted by A. J. Cronin

A J Cronin was a medical doctor by profession. He abandoned his career as a physician and began writing novels and short stories. Several of his works have been adapted into feature films. The title of the short storey, “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” refers to one of Shakespeare’s early plays. The storey details the sacrifice made by two small boys in order to bring hope to their sister.

The narrator was driving with a partner through the foothills of the Alps. They observed two boys selling wild straw berries on the outskirts of Verona. They were brothers. Nicola was thirteen years old, while Jacopo was twelve. They came across these two boys in a variety of locations. Their actions drew them in. They cheerfully performed a variety of tasks. They cleaned shoes, sold fruits and newspapers, escorted tourists around town, and performed a variety of other modest activities.

The narrator observed the two boys lying on a stone pavement one night, clutching a bundle of unsold Newspapers. When the narrator inquired as to why they were still there at such a late hour, Nicola explained that they were waiting for the last bus to Padua in order to sell the Newspaper. They were at the fountain the following morning, as the narrator observed. He visited in order to have his shoes polished. He enquired as to what they did with their wages, noting that they did not spend money on clothing and ate plain foods. He inquired as to whether they had saved money for the trip to the United States. They responded that they had made alternative arrangements.

Given the narrator’s impending departure from Verona, he inquired of the boys whether they required assistance from him. Jacopo requested that the narrator drop them off in the car and drive them to the village of Polenta, which is around 30 kilometres distant. However, his brother Nicola was not pleased that his brother was causing the narrator distress. The narrator enthusiastically agreed to assist the boys. The following afternoon, he took them to the village, where the boys requested that he pull over in front of a large structure. The boys asked the narrator to wait a moment before proceeding into the structure.

The narrator was informed by a nurse that the hospital was where the boys’ sister Lucia was a patient. She was receiving TB treatment. For more than a year, the two boys accompanied her to the hospital.

Additionally, the nurse stated that their father, a widower, was a well-known singer at La Scala who was killed during the German war. As a result, they became orphans as a result of the conflict. Their residence was demolished by a bomb. The boys spied on German army movements and provided intelligence to the resistance forces. When peace was restored, they discovered Lucia suffering from tuberculosis. The hospital assessed a fee, which was paid by her two brothers. She also stated that Lucia is a singer and that her health is improving, and that she will soon be able to sing and earn a living.

While they were on their way back to Verona, the narrator made no inquiries of the boys. He did not want the boys to know he was aware of their secret. He was impressed by the lads’ cheerfulness and purposefulness. The storyteller was moved by their selfless deeds, decency, and courage. Thus, the storyteller dubbed them the gentlemen of Verona.


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