‘As I once did?’ replies Orso with frown terrific, like a black crest. He turns broadly and receives the chorus of countrymen in paternal fashion—an admirably acted bit of grave burlesque.
By this time the German portion of the audience had, by one or other of the senses, dimly divined that the opera was a shadow of something concealed—thanks to the buffo-basso Lebruno. Doubtless they would have seen this before, but that the Austrian censorship had seemed so absolute a safeguard.
‘My children! all are my children in this my gladsome realm!’ Count Orso says, and marches forth, after receiving the compliment of a choric song in honour of his paternal government. Michiella follows him.
Then came the deep suspension of breath. For, as upon the midnight you count bell-note after bell-note of the toiling hour, and know not in the darkness whether there shall be one beyond it, so that you hang over an abysm until Twelve is sounded, audience and actors gazed with equal expectation at the path winding round from the castle, waiting for the voice of the new prima donna.
‘Mia madre!’ It issued tremblingly faint. None could say who was to appear.
Rocco Ricci struck twice with his baton, flung a radiant glance across his shoulders for all friends, and there was joy in the house. Vittoria stood before them.
ETEXT EDITOR’S BOOKMARKS:
A fortress face; strong and massive, and honourable
Defiance of foes and (what was harder to brave) of friends
Do I serve my hand? or, Do I serve my heart?
Good nerve to face the scene which he is certain will be enacted
Government of brain; not sufficient Insurrection of heart
Had taken refuge in their opera-glasses
He postponed it to the next minute and the next
I hope I am not too hungry to discriminate
I know nothing of imagination
In Italy, a husband away, ze friend takes title
Morales, madame, suit ze sun
No intoxication of hot blood to cheer those who sat at home
Not to be feared more than are the general race of bunglers
Patience is the pestilence
People who can lose themselves in a ray of fancy at any season
Question with some whether idiots should live
Rarely exacted obedience, and she was spontaneously obeyed
The divine afflatus of enthusiasm buoyed her no longer
Too weak to resist, to submit to an outrage quietly
We are good friends till we quarrel again
We can bear to fall; we cannot afford to draw back
Who shrinks from an hour that is suspended in doubt
Whole body of fanatics combined to precipitate the devotion
Youth will not believe that stupidity and beauty can go together