“Stay,” Wilfrid interposed. “That wretch may be in the house, and will kill her.”
“She is not thinking of herself,” said Rinaldo.
“But, stay,” Wilfrid repeated. The woman’s way of taking breath shocked and enfeebled him.
Rinaldo threw the door open.
“Must you? must you?” her voice broke.
“Waste no words.”
“You have not seen a priest?”
“I go to him.”
“What is death to me? Be dumb, that I may think well of you till my last moment.”
“What is death tome? Be dumb!”
She had spoken with her eyes fixed on his couch. It was the figure of one upon the scaffold, knitting her frame to hold up a strangled heart.
“What is death to me? Be dumb!” she echoed him many times on the rise and fall of her breathing, and turned to get him in her eyes. “Be dumb! be dumb!” She threw her arms wide out, and pressed his temples and kissed him.
The scene was like hot iron to Wilfrid’s senses. When he heard her coolly asking him for his handkerchief to blind him, he had forgotten the purpose, and gave it mechanically. Nothing was uttered throughout the long mountings and descent of stairs. They passed across one corridor where the walls told of a humming assemblage of men within. A current of keen air was the first salute Wilfrid received from the world above; his handkerchief was loosened; he stood foolish as a blind man, weak as a hospital patient, on the steps leading into a small square of visible darkness, and heard the door shut behind him. Rinaldo led him from the court to the street.
“Farewell,” he said. “Get some housing instantly; avoid exposure to the air. I leave you.”
Wilfrid spent his tongue in a fruitless and meaningless remonstrance. “And you?” he had the grace to ask.
“I go straight to find a priest. Farewell.”
So they parted.
Episodes of the revolt and
the five days of Milan
The same hand which brought Rinaldo’s letter to his brother delivered a message from Barto Rizzo, bidding Angelo to start at once and head a stout dozen or so of gallant Swiss. The letter and the message appeared to be grievous contradictions: one was evidently a note of despair, while the other sang like a trumpet. But both were of a character to draw him swiftly on to Milan. He sent word to his Lugano friends, naming a village among the mountains between Como and Varese, that they might join him there if they pleased.