“A little while, Marc’antonio! The file is working.”
“To what end, Princess?—since time is wanting. The bugle will call—it may call now at any moment. And if the Prince should miss you—Indeed it were better that he died—”
Their voices swam on my ear through giddy whirls of mist, I heard him persuade her to go—at the last insist upon her going. Still the file worked.
Suddenly it ceased working. It seemed to me that they both had withdrawn, and my neck still remained in bondage, though my legs were free. I knew that my legs were free though I had not the power to test this by drawing them up. I tried once, and closed my eyes, swooning with pain.
Upon the swoon broke a shattering blow, across my legs and below the knees; a blow that lifted my body to clutch with both hands upon night and fall back again upon black unconsciousness.
HOW MARC’ANTONIO NURSED ME AND GAVE ME COUNSEL.
famous Princes like thyself,
Drawn by report, adventurous by desire,
Tell thee, with speechless tongues and semblance pale,
That without covering, save yon field of stars,
They here stand martyrs, slain in Cupid’s wars;
And with dead cheeks advise thee to desist
For going on Death’s net, whom none resist.”
Pericles, Prince of Tyre.
His honour forbidding him to kill me, the Prince Camillo had given orders to break my legs: and since to abandon me in this plight went against the conscience of his followers (and even, it is possible, against his own), he had left Marc’antonio behind to nurse me—thus gratifying a second spite. The Prince was an ingenious young man.
So much I gathered in faint intervals between anguish while Marc’antonio bound me with rude splints of his own manufacture. Yet he said little and did his surgery, though not ungently, with a taciturn frown which I set down to moroseness, having learnt somehow that the bandits had broken up their camp on the mountain and marched off, leaving us two alone.
“Did the Princess know of this?” I managed to ask, and I believe this was my first intelligible question.
Marc’antonio paused before answering. “She knew that you were to be hurt, but not the manner of it. It was she that brought you the file, by stealth. Why did you not use it, and escape?”
“She brought me the file?” I knew it already, but found a fierce satisfaction in the words. “And she—and you—tried to use it upon my chain here and deliver me: I forced you to that, my friends! As for using it myself, you heard what I promised her, yesterday, before her brother came.”
“I heard you talk very foolishly; and now you have done worse than foolishly. I do not understand you at all—no, by the Mother of God, I do not! You had the whole night for filing at your chain: and it would have been better for you, and in the end for her.”