She bent and smote her lap. “How little they know us, my darling! They take fever for strength, and calmness for submission. Here is the world before us, and I feel that such a man, were he to pounce on me now, might snap me up and lock me in a praying-box with small difficulty. And I am the inveterate rebel! What is it nourishes you and keeps you always aiming straight when you are alone? Once in Turin, I shall feel that I am myself. Out of Italy I have a terrible craving for peace. It seems here as if I must lean down to him, my beloved, who has left me.”
Vittoria was in alarm lest Wilfrid should accost her while she drove from gate to gate of the city. They passed under the archway of the gate leading up to Schloss Tyrol, and along the road bordered by vines. An old peasant woman stopped them with the signal of a letter in her hand. “Here it is,” said Laura, and Vittoria could not help smiling at her shrewd anticipation of it.
“May I follow?”
Nothing more than that was written.
But the bearer of the missive had been provided with a lead pencil to obtain the immediate reply.
“An admirable piece of foresight!” Laura’s honest exclamation burst forth.
Vittoria had to look in Laura’s face before she could gather her will to do the cruel thing which was least cruel. She wrote firmly:—“Never follow me.”
Episodes of the revolt and the war—the tobacco-riots—Rinaldo Guidascarpi
Anna von Lenkenstein was one who could wait for vengeance. Lena punished on the spot, and punished herself most. She broke off her engagement with Wilfrid, while at the same time she caused a secret message to be conveyed to him, telling him that the prolongation of his residence in Meran would restore him to his position in the army.
Wilfrid remained at Meran till the last days of December.
It was winter in Milan, turning to the new year—the year of flames for continental Europe. A young man with a military stride, but out of uniform, had stepped from a travelling carriage and entered a cigar-shop. Upon calling for cigars, he was surprised to observe the woman who was serving there keep her arms under her apron. She cast a look into the street, where a crowd of boys and one or two lean men had gathered about the door. After some delay, she entreated her customer to let her pluck his cloak halfway over the counter; at the same time she thrust a cigar-box under that concealment, together with a printed song in the Milanese dialect. He lifted the paper to read it, and found it tough as Russ. She translated some of the more salient couplets. Tobacco had become a dead business, she said, now that the popular edict had gone forth against ‘smoking gold into the pockets of the Tedeschi.’ None smoked except officers and Englishmen.