“You know the rest,” I said gently; “you understand my vengeance! But it is all over, Guido—all over, now! She has played us both false. May God forgive you as I do!”
He smiled—a soft look brightened his fast-glazing eyes—the old boyish look that had won my love in former days.
“All over!” he repeated in a sort of plaintive babble. “All over now! God—Fabio—forgive!—” A terrible convulsion wrenched and contorted his limbs and features, his throat rattled, and stretching himself out with a long shivering sigh—he died! The first beams of the rising sun, piercing through the dark, moss-covered branches of the pine-trees, fell on his clustering hair, and lent a mocking brilliancy to his wide-open sightless eyes: there was a smile on the closed lips! A burning, suffocating sensation rose in my throat, as of rebellious tears trying to force a passage. I still held the hand of my friend and enemy—it had grown cold in my clasp. Upon it sparkled my family diamond—the ring she had given him. I drew the jewel off: then I kissed that poor passive hand as I laid it gently down—kissed it tenderly, reverently. Hearing footsteps approaching, I rose from my kneeling posture and stood erect with folded arms, looking tearlessly down on the stiffening clay before me. The rest of the party came up; no one spoke for a minute, all surveyed the dead body in silence. At last Captain Freccia said, softly in half-inquiring accents:
“He is gone, I suppose?”
I bowed. I could not trust myself to speak.
“He made you his apology?” asked the marquis.
I bowed again. There was another pause of heavy silence. The rigid smiling face of the corpse seemed to mock all speech. The doctor stooped and skillfully closed those glazed appealing eyes—and then it seemed to me as though Guido merely slept and that a touch would waken him. The Marquis D’Avencourt took me by the arm and whispered, “Get back to the city, amico, and take some wine—you look positively ill! Your evident regret does you credit, considering the circumstances—but what would you?—it was a fair fight. Consider the provocation you had! I should advise you to leave Naples for a couple of weeks—by that time the affair will be forgotten. I know how these things are managed—leave it all to me.”
I thanked him and shook his hand cordially and turned to depart. Vincenzo was in waiting with the carriage. Once I looked back, as with slow steps I left the field; a golden radiance illumined the sky just above the stark figure stretched so straightly on the sward; while almost from the very side of that pulseless heart a little bird rose from its nest among the grasses and soared into the heavens, singing rapturously as it flew into the warmth and glory of the living, breathing day.