Vittoria — Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 730 pages of information about Vittoria — Complete.
beaten country:  and I was admired for my devotion.  The dear old poet, Agostino, praised me.  It stopped his epigrams—­during a certain time, at least.  Colonel Corte admired me.  Marco Sana, Giulio Bandinelli admired me.  Vast numbers admired me.  I need not add that I admired myself.  I plunged into intrigues with princes, and priests, and republicans.  A clever woman was at my elbow.  In the midst of all this, my marriage:  I had seven weeks of peace; and then I saw what I was.  You feel that you are tired, when you want to go another way and you feel that you have been mad when you want to undo your work.  But I could not break the chains I had wrought, for I was a chief of followers.  The men had come from exile, or they had refused to join the Roman enterprise:—­they, in fact, had bound themselves to me; and that means, I was irrevocably bound to them.  I had an insult to wipe out:  I refrained from doing it, sincerely, I may tell you, on the ground that this admired life of mine was precious.  I will heap no more clumsy irony on it:  I can pity it.  Do you see now how I stand?  I know that I cannot rely on the king’s luck or on the skill of his generals, or on the power of his army, or on the spirit in Lombardy:  neither on men nor on angels.  But I cannot draw back.  I have set going a machine that’s merciless.  From the day it began working, every moment has added to its force.  Do not judge me by your English eyes:  other lands, other habits; other habits, other thoughts.  And besides, if honour said nothing, simple humanity would preserve me from leaving my band to perish like a flock of sheep.”

He uttered this with a profound conviction of his quality as leader, that escaped the lurid play of self-inspection which characterized what he had previously spoken, and served singularly in bearing witness to the truth of his charge against himself.

“Useless!” he said, waving his hand at anticipated remonstrances.  “Look with the eyes of my country; not with your own, my friend.  I am disgraced if I do not go out.  My friends are disgraced if I do not head them in.  Brescia—­sacrificed!—­murdered!—­how can I say what?  Can I live under disgrace or remorse?  The king stakes on his army; I on the king.  Whether he fights and wins, or fights and loses, I go out.  I have promised my men—­promised them success, I believe!—­God forgive me!  Did you ever see a fated man before?  None had plotted against me.  I have woven my own web, and that’s the fatal thing.  I have a wife, the sweetest woman of her time.  Goodnight to her! our parting is over.”

He glanced at his watch.  “Perhaps she will be at the door below.  Her heart beats like mine just now.  You wish to say that you think me betrayed, and therefore I may draw back?  Did you not hear that Bergamo has risen?  The Brescians are up too by this time.  Gallant Brescians! they never belie the proverb in their honour; and to die among them would be sweet if I had all my manhood about me.  You would have me making a scene with Violetta.”

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Vittoria — Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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