“Take me! — save me! — comrade, brother, friend!” he cried aloud to it with his last breath of life; and he plunged where it was deepest.
Then the sky grew dark, and only the sound of the water was heard in his ears. By the bridge its depth was great, and the current was strong under the shade of the ruined keep. It swept his body onward to the sea.
It was the beginning of winter when Don Silverio Frascara, having been put upon his trial and no evidence of any sort having been adduced against him, was declared innocent and set free, no compensation or apology being offered to him.
“Were it only military law it had been easy enough to find him guilty,” said Senator Giovacchino Gallo to the Syndic of San Beda, and the Count Corradini warmly agreed with his Excellency that for the sake of law, order, and public peace it would be well could the military tribunals be always substituted for the civil; but alas! the monarchy was not yet absolute!
He had been detained many weeks and months at the city by the sea, where the trial of the young men of the Valdedera had been held with all the prolonged, tedious, and cruel delays common to the national laws. Great efforts had been made to implicate him in the criminal charges; but it had been found impossible to verify such suspicions; every witness by others, and every action of his own, proved the wisdom, the purity, and the excellence in counsel and example of his whole life at Ruscino. The unhappy youths who had been taken with arms in their hands were condemned for overt rebellion and conspiracy against authority, and were sentenced, some to four, some to seven, some to ten, and, a few who were considered the ringleaders, to twenty-five years of cellular confinement. But against Don Silverio it was found impossible even to make out the semblance of an accusation, the testimony event of those hostile to him being irresistibly in his favour in all ways. He had done his utmost to defend the poor peasantry who had been misled by Adone to their own undoing, and he had defended also the motives and the character of the dead with an eloquence which moved to tears the public who heard him, and touched even the hearts of stone of president and advocates; and he had done this at his own imminent risk; for men of law can never be brought to understand that comprehension is not collusion, or that pity is not fellowship.
But all his efforts failed to save the young men from the utmost rigour of the law. The judge, agreeing with the State prosecutor, declared that the most severe example was necessary to check once for all by its terrors the tendency of the common people to resist the State and its public works and decrees. Useful and patriotic enterprises must not be impeded or wrecked because ignorance was opposed to progress: thus said the King’s advocate in an impassioned oration which gained for him eventually emolument and preferment. The rustics were sent in a body to the penitentiaries; and Don Silverio was permitted to go home.