“Fool!” I shriek in his ear. “Let me go to her—her lips pout for kisses—let me go!”
Another man advances and seizes me; he and the innkeeper force me back on the pillows—they overcome me, and the utter incapacity of a terrible exhaustion steals away my strength. I cease to struggle. Pietro and his assistant look down upon me.
“E morto!” they whisper one to the other.
I hear them and smile. Dead? Not I! The scorching sunlight streams through the open door of the inn—the thirsty flies buzz with persistent loudness—some voices are singing “La Fata di Amalfi”—I can distinguish the words—
“Chiagnaro la mia sventura
Si non tuorne chiu, Rosella!
Tu d’ Amalfi la chiu bella,
Tu na Fata si pe me!
Viene, vie, regina mie,
Viene curre a chisto core,
Ca non c’e non c’e sciore,
Non c’e Stella comm’a te!”
[Footnote: A popular song in the Neapolitan dialect.]
That is a true song, Nina mia! “Non c’e Stella comm’ a te!” What did Guido say? “Purer than the flawless diamond—unapproachable as the furthest star!” That foolish Pietro still polishes his wine-bottles. I see him—his meek round face is greasy with heat and dust; but I cannot understand how he comes to be here at all, for I am on the banks of a tropical river where huge palms grow wild, and drowsy alligators lie asleep in the sun. Their large jaws are open—their small eyes glitter greenly. A light boat glides over the silent water—in it I behold the erect lithe figure of an Indian. His features are strangely similar to those of Guido. He draws a long thin shining blade of steel as he approaches. Brave fellow!—he means to attack single-handed the cruel creatures who lie in wait for him on the sultry shore. He springs to land—I watch him with a weird fascination. He passes the alligators—he seems not to be aware of their presence—he comes with swift, unhesitating step to me—it is I whom he seeks—it is in my heart that he plunges the cold steel dagger, and draws it out again dripping with blood! Once--twice—thrice!—and yet I cannot die! I writhe—I moan in bitter anguish! Then something dark comes between me and the glaring sun— something cool and shadowy, against which I fling myself despairingly. Two dark eyes look steadily into mine, and a voice speaks:
“Be calm, my son, be calm. Commend thyself to Christ!”
It is my friend the monk. I recognize him gladly. He has returned from his errand of mercy. Though I can scarcely speak, I hear myself asking for news of the boy. The holy man crosses himself devoutly.
“May his young soul rest in peace! I found him dead.”