“One thing remains,” I said, and showed him the crown with the five empty settings, and the one diamond yet glittering in its band.
“Help me to build a cairn,” said I.
So he helped me. We built a tall cairn, and I laid the crown within it.
The sun was setting as we laid the last stone in place. We walked in silence down to the pass, and there I shook hands with him by the little chapel, and received his blessing before setting my face northwards.
I dare say that he stood for a long while, watching me as I descended the curves of the road. But I never once looked back until I had crossed the valley, far below. The great peak rose behind me; and it seemed to me that on its summit a diamond shone amongst the stars.
BY GERVASE ARUNDEL.
July 15 (St. Swithun’s), 1761.
My nephew has asked me to write the few words necessary to conclude this narrative.
The day after my brother’s burial, the Gauntlet, in company with General Paoli’s gunboat, Il Sampiero, weighed and left the island of Giraglia for Isola Rossa, where by agreement we were to wait one calendar month before sailing for England.
The foregoing pages will sufficiently explain why the month passed without my nephew’s putting in an appearance. For my part, albeit my arguments had been powerless to dissuade him from going to Genoa, I never expected him to return, but consoled myself with the knowledge that he had gone to his fate in a good cause, and in a spirit not unworthy of his father.
We were highly indebted during our stay at Isola Rossa to the General, who, being detained there by the business of his new fortifications, exerted himself that we should not lack a single comfort, and seemed to inspire a like solicitude in his subjects. I call the Corsicans his subjects since (if the reflection may be permitted) I never met a man who carried a more authentic air of kingliness—and I am not forgetting my own dear brother-in-law. Alive, these two men met face to face but once; and Priske, who witnessed the meeting, yet understood but a bare word or two of what was said, will have it that for dignity of bearing the General would not compare with his master. The honest fellow may be right; for certainly no one could speak with John Constantine and doubt that here was one of a line of kings. Nevertheless to me (a matter-of-fact man), Paoli appeared scarcely less imposing in person, and withal bore himself with a businesslike calm which, in a subtle way I cannot describe, seemed to tolerate the others, yet suggest that, beside his own purpose, theirs were something unreal. As an Englishman I should say that he felt the weight of public opinion behind him all the while, without which in these days the kingliest nature must miss something of gravity. Yet he has proved more than once that no public man can be more quixotic, upon occasion.