we are a match for them! Artillery we shall get. The Piedmontese are mad for the signal. Come; sit and eat. The air seems dead down in this quiet country; we’re out of the stream. I must rush up to London to breathe and then we won’t lose a moment. We shall be in Italy in four days. Four days, my Sandra! And Italy going to be free; Georgey, I’m fasting. And you will see all your old friends. All? Good God! No!—not all! Their blood shall nerve us. The Austrian thinks he wastes us by slaughter. With every dead man he doubles the life of the living! Am I talking like a foreigner, Sandra mia? My child, you don’t eat! And I, who dreamed last night that I looked out over Novara from the height of the Col di Colma, and saw the plain under a red shadow from a huge eagle!”
Merthyr laughed, swinging round his arm. Emilia continued staring at him as at a man transformed, while Georgiana asked: “May Marini’s letter be seen?” Her visage had become firm and set in proportion as her brother’s excitement increased.
“Eat, my Sandra! eat!” called Merthyr, who was himself eating with a campaigning appetite.
Georgiana laid down the letter folded under Merthyr’s fingers, keeping her hand on it till he grew alive to her meaning, that it should be put away.
“Marini is vague about artillery,” she murmured.
“Vague!” echoed Merthyr. “Say prudent. If he said we could lay hands on fifty pieces, then distrust him!”
“God grant that this be not another pit for further fruitless bloodshed!” was the interjection standing in Georgiana’s eyes, and then she dropped them pensively, while Merthyr recounted the patient schemes that had led to this hour, the unuttered anxieties and the bursting hopes.
Still Emilia kept her distressfully unenthusiastic looks turned from one to the other, though her Italy was the theme. She did not eat, but had dropped one hand flat on her plate, looking almost idiotic. She heard of Italy as of a distant place, known to her in ancient years. Merthyr’s transformation, too, helped some form of illusion in her brain that she was cut off from any kindred feeling with other people.
As soon as he had finished, Merthyr jumped up; and coming round to Emilia, touched her shoulder affectionately, saying: “Now! There won’t be much packing to do. We shall be in London to-night in time for your mother to pass the evening with you.”
Emilia rose straightway, and her eyes fell vacantly on Georgiana for help, as far as they could express anything.
Georgiana gave no response, save a look well nigh as vacant in the interchange.
“But you haven’t eaten at all!” said Merthyr.
Emilia shook her head. “No.”
“Eat, my Sandra! to please me! You will need all your strength if you would be a match for Georgey anywhere where there’s action.”
“Yes!” Emilia traversed his words with a sudden outcry. “Yes, I will go to London. I am ready to go to London now.”