“We have fared ill,” he answered, turning his head aside, and added with sudden petulance, “God’s curse upon Pasquale Paoli, and all his house!”
“He would not receive you?”
“On the contrary, he made us welcome and listened to all we had to say. When I had done, Father Domenico took up the tale.”
“But surely, brother, when you had given him the proofs—when he heard all—”
“The mischief, sister,” he interrupted, stabbing at the ground with his heel and stealing a sidelong glance at the priest, “the mischief was, he had already heard too much.”
She drew back, white in the face. She, too, flung a look at the priest, but a more honest one, although in flinging it she shrank away from him. The priest, a sensual, loose-lipped man, whose mere aspect invited one to kick him, smiled sideways and downwards with a deprecating air, and spread out his hands as who should say that here was no place for a domestic discussion.
I could make no guess at what the youth had meant; but the girl’s face told me that the stroke was cruel, and (as often happens with the weak) his own cruelty worked him into a passion.
“But who is this man with you?” he demanded, the blood rushing to his face. “And how came you alone with him, and Stephanu, and Marc’antonio? You don’t tell me that the others have deserted!”
“No one has deserted, brother. You will find them all upon the mountain.”
“And the recruits? Is this a recruit?”
“There are no recruits.”
“No recruits? By God, sister, this is too bad! Has this cursed rumour spread, then, all over the countryside that honest men avoid us like a plague—us, the Colonne!” He checked his tongue as she drew herself up and turned from him, before the staring soldiery, with drawn mouth and stony eyes; but stepped a pace after her on a fresh tack of rage.
“But you have not answered me. Who is this man, I repeat? And eh?— but what in God’s name have we here?” He halted, staring at the half-digged grave and Nat’s body laid beside it.
Marc’antonio stepped forward. “These are two prisoners, O Prince, of whom, as you see, we are burying one.”
“Prisoners? But whence?”
“From England, as they tell us, O Prince.”
THE TENDER MERCIES OF PRINCE CAMILLO.
“Tyranny is the
wish to have in one way what can only be had in
The young man eyed me insolently for a moment and turned again to his sister.
“Camilla! will you have the goodness to explain?” he demanded.
But here, while she hesitated, searching her brother’s face proudly yet pitifully, as though unable quite to believe in the continued brutality of his tone, I struck in.
“Pardon me, Signore,” said I, “but an explanation from me may be shorter.”