A priest was first sent to him. The officer received him with the utmost respect, but refused to make confession, and was next importuned by the visit of a brotherhood of penitents. At last the executioner came to conduct him to the place of punishment; and while he was on the way, accompanied by several gendarmes and a long line of penitents, the funeral procession was interrupted by the unexpected arrival of the colonel of the gendarmerie, whom chance brought to the scene. This officer bore the name of Colonel Boizard, a man well known in all upper Italy, and the terror of all malefactors. The colonel ordered a halt, for the purpose of himself questioning the condemned, and made him give an account of the circumstances of the crime and the sentence. When he was alone with the officer, he said, “You see that all is against you, and nothing can save you from the death which awaits you. I can, nevertheless, save you, but only on one condition. I know that you belong to the society of the Carbonari. Give me the names of your accomplices in these terrible conspiracies and your life shall be the reward.”—“Never!”—“Consider, nevertheless.”—“Never, I tell you; lead me to execution.”
It was then necessary to set out anew for the place of execution. The executioner was at his post; and as the officer with a firm step mounted the fatal scaffold, Colonel Boizard rushed up to him and begged him still to save his life on the conditions he had offered. “No! no! never!” Instantly the scene changed; the colonel, the executioner, the gendarmes, the priest, penitents, and spectators, all gathered round the officer, each one eager to press him to their hearts, and he was conducted in triumph to his dwelling. All that had passed was simply an initiation. The assassins in the forest and their victim, as well as the judges and the pretended Colonel Boizard, had been playing a role; and the most suspicious Carbonari now knew how far their new brother would carry the constancy of his heroism and the observance of his oath.
This is almost exactly the recital which I heard, as I have said, with the deepest interest, and which I take the liberty of repeating, though I well understand how much it will lose by being written. Can it be implicitly believed? This is what I would not undertake to decide; but I can affirm that my informant gave it as the truth, and was perfectly certain that the particulars would be found in the archives of Milan, since this extraordinary initiation was at the time the subject of a circumstantial report addressed to the vice-king, whom fate had determined should nevermore see the Emperor.