“Slightly in the hand—you see, he can march,” Romara said, laughing at her promptness to suspect a subterfuge, until he thought, “Now, what does this mean, madam?”
A lamp was brought to Countess Ammiani. She read:
“Cotton-wool on the left fore-finger. They deigned to give me no other memorial of my first fight. I am not worthy of papa’s two bullets. I march with Corte and Sana to Brescia. We keep the passes of the Tyrol. Luciano heads five hundred up to the hills to-morrow or next day. He must have all our money. Then go from door to door and beg subscriptions. Yes, my Chief! it is to be like God, and deserving of his gifts to lay down all pride, all wealth. This night send to my betrothed in Turin. She must be with no one but my mother. It is my command. Tell her so. I hold imperatively to it.
“I breathe the best air of life. Luciano is a fine leader in action, calm as in a ball-room. What did I feel? I will talk of it with you by-and-by;—my father whispered in my ears; I felt him at my right hand. He said, ‘I died for this day.’ I feel now that I must have seen him. This is imagination. We may say that anything is imagination. I certainly heard his voice. Be of good heart, my mother, for I can swear that the General wakes up when I strike Austrian steel. He loved Brescia; so I go there. God preserve my mother! The eyes of heaven are wide enough to see us both. Vittoria by your side, remember! It is my will.
Countess Ammiani closed her eyes over the letter, as in a dead sleep. “He is more his father than himself, and so suddenly!” she said. She was tearless. Violetta helped her to her bed-room under the pretext of a desire to hear the contents of the letter.
That night, which ended the five days of battle in Milan, while fires were raging at many gates, bells were rolling over the roof-tops, the army of Austria coiled along the North-eastern walls of the city, through rain and thick obscurity, and wove its way like a vast worm into the outer land.
Episodes of the revolt and
Vittoria disobeys her lover
Countess d’Isorella’s peculiar mission to Milan was over with the victory of the city. She undertook personally to deliver Carlo’s injunction to Vittoria on her way to the king. Countess Ammiani deemed it sufficient that her son’s wishes should be repeated verbally; and as there appeared to be no better messenger than one who was bound for Turin and knew Vittoria’s place of residence, she entrusted the duty to Violetta.
The much which hangs on little was then set in motion: