Mentana was not taken, but it surrendered on the following morning, and as Monte Rotondo had been evacuated during the night and most of the Garibaldians had escaped over the frontier, the fighting was at an end, and the campaign of twenty-four hours terminated in a complete victory for the Roman forces.
When Gouache came to himself his first sensation was that of a fiery stream of liquid gurgling in his mouth and running down his throat. He swallowed the liquor half unconsciously, and opening his eyes for a moment was aware that two men were standing beside him, one of them holding a lantern in his hand, the rays from which dazzled the wounded Zouave and prevented him from recognising the persons.
“Where is he hurt?” asked a voice that sounded strangely familiar in his ears.
“I cannot tell yet,” replied the other man, kneeling down again beside him and examining him attentively.
“It is only my shoulder,” gasped Gouache. “But I am very weak. Let me sleep, please.” Thereupon he fainted again, and was conscious of nothing more for some time.
The two men took him up and carried him to a place near, where others were waiting for him. The night was intensely dark, and no one spoke a word, as the little party picked its way over the battle-field, occasionally stopping to avoid treading upon one of the numerous prostrate bodies that lay upon the ground. The man who had examined Gouache generally stooped down and turned the light of his lantern upon the faces of the dead men, expecting that some one of them might show signs of life. But it was very late, and the wounded had already been carried away. Gouache alone seemed to have escaped observation, an accident probably due to the fact that he had been able to drag himself to a sheltered spot before losing his senses.
During nearly an hour the men trudged along the road with their burden, when at last they saw in the distance the bright lamps of a carriage shining through the darkness. The injured soldier was carefully placed among the cushions, and the two gentlemen who had found him got in and closed the door.
Gouache awoke in consequence of the pain caused by the jolting of the vehicle. The lantern was placed upon one of the vacant seats and illuminated the faces of his companions, one of whom sat behind him and supported his weight by holding one arm around his body. Anastase stared at this man’s face for some time in silence and in evident surprise. He thought he was in a dream, and he spoke rather to assure himself that he was awake than for any other reason.
“You were anxious lest I should escape you after all,” he said. “You need not be afraid. I shall be able to keep my engagement.”
“I trust you will do nothing of the kind, my dear Gouache,” answered Giovanni Saracinesca.