“In hate or in love, cavalier?” Marc’antonio’s voice shook with his whole body.
“That shall be my secret,” answered I. (Yet well I knew what the answer was, and had known it since the moment she had bent over me in the sty, filing at my chain.) “It had better be hate—eh, Marc’antonio?—seeing that for some reason she hates all men, except you, perhaps, and Stephanu, and her brother.”
“We do not count, I and Stephanu. Her brother she adores. But the rest of men she hates, cavalier, and with good cause.”
“Then it had better be hate?”
“Yes, yes”—and there was appeal in his voice—“it had a thousand times better be hate, could such a miracle happen.” He peered into my eyes for a moment, and shook his head. “But it is not hate, cavalier; you do not deceive me. And since it is not—”
“It were better for you—far better—that Giuse had died of the wound you gave him.”
“Why, what on earth has Giuse to do with this matter?” I demanded. Indeed I had all but forgotten Giuse’s existence.
“Only this; that had Giuse died, they would have killed you out of hand in vendetta.”
“You are an amiable race, you Corsicans!”
“And you came, cavalier, meaning to reign over us! Now, I have taken a liking to you and will give you a warning. Be like your father, and give up all for love.”
“Suppose,” said I, after a pause, “that for love I choose rather to dare all?”
“Signore”—he stepped back and, raising himself erect, flung out both hands passionately—“Take her, if you must take her, away from Corsica! She is innocent, but here they will never understand. What she did she did for her brother, far from home: yet he—he has no thanks, no bowels of pity, and here at home it is killing her! There was a young man, a noble, head of the family of Rocca Serra by Sartene—” Marc’antonio broke off, trembling.
“You must finish,” said I, in a voice cold and slow as the chilled blood about my heart.
“There was no harm in her. By her brother’s will they were betrothed. She hated the youth, and he—he was eager—until the day before the marriage—”
“What happened, Marc’antonio?”
“He slew himself, cavalier. Some story reached him, and he slew himself with his own gun. O cavalier, if you can help us, take her away from Corsica!”
He cast up both hands and ran from me.
I LEARN OF LIBERTY, AND AM RESTORED TO IT.
“A! Fredome is a noble
Fredome mayse man to haif liking.”
BARBOUR, The Bruce.
“Non enim propter gloriam divitas aut honores pugnanus,
sed propter libertatem solummodo, quam nemo bonus nisi cum vita
Lit. Comit. et Baron. Scotoe ad Pap. A.D. 1320
(quoted by BOSWELL).