Vittoria — Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 575 pages of information about Vittoria Complete.

The Italians present, one and all, rose up reverently and murmured the refrain.  Many of the aristocracy would, doubtless, have preferred that this public declaration of the plain enigma should not have rung forth to carry them on the popular current; and some might have sympathized with the insane grin which distorted the features of Antonio-Pericles, when he beheld illusion wantonly destroyed, and the opera reduced to be a mere vehicle for a fulmination of politics.  But the general enthusiasm was too tremendous to permit of individual protestations.  To sit, when the nation was standing, was to be a German.  Nor, indeed, was there an Italian in the house who would willingly have consented to see Vittoria silenced, now that she had chosen to defy the Tedeschi from the boards of La Scala.  The fascination of her voice extended even over the German division of the audience.  They, with the Italians, said:  ’Hear her! hear her!’ The curtain was agitated at the wings, but in the centre it was kept above Vittoria’s head by the uplifted arms of the twelve young men:—­

       ’I cannot count the years,
        That you will drink, like me,
        The cup of blood and tears,
        Ere she to you appears:—­
        Italia, Italia shall be free!’

So the great name was out, and its enemies had heard it.

       ’You dedicate your lives
        To her, and you will be
        The food on which she thrives,
        Till her great day arrives
        Italia, Italia shall be free!

       ’She asks you but for faith! 
        Your faith in her takes she
        As draughts of heaven’s breath,
        Amid defeat and death:—­
        Italia, Italia shall be free!’

The prima donna was not acting exhaustion when sinking lower in Montini’s arms.  Her bosom rose and sank quickly, and she gave the terminating verse:—­

       ’I enter the black boat
        Upon the wide grey sea,
        Where all her set suns float;
        Thence hear my voice remote
        Italia, Italia shall be free!’

The curtain dropped.

CHAPTER XXII

WILFRID COMES FORWARD

An order for the immediate arrest of Vittoria was brought round to the stage at the fall of the curtain by Captain Weisspriess, and delivered by him on the stage to the officer commanding, a pothered lieutenant of Croats, whose first proceeding was dictated by the military instinct to get his men in line, and who was utterly devoid of any subsequent idea.  The thunder of the house on the other side of the curtain was enough to disconcert a youngster such as he was; nor have the subalterns of Croat regiments a very signal reputation for efficiency in the Austrian Service.  Vittoria stood among her supporters apart; pale, and ’only very thirsty,’ as she told the enthusiastic youths who pressed near her, and implored her to have

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Vittoria — Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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