Infomotions, Inc.The Gadfly / Voynich, E. L. (Ethel Lillian), 1864-1960



Author: Voynich, E. L. (Ethel Lillian), 1864-1960
Title: The Gadfly
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): montanelli; gadfly; gemma; martini; arthur; eminence
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Title:  The Gadfly

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THE GADFLY

by E. L. VOYNICH




"What have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth?"



AUTHOR'S PREFACE.


MY most cordial thanks are due to the many
persons who helped me to collect, in Italy, the
materials for this story. I am especially indebted
to the officials of the Marucelliana Library of
Florence, and of the State Archives and Civic
Museum of Bologna, for their courtesy and
kindness.





THE GADFLY




PART I.



CHAPTER I.

Arthur sat in the library of the theological
seminary at Pisa, looking through a pile of manuscript
sermons. It was a hot evening in June, and
the windows stood wide open, with the shutters
half closed for coolness. The Father Director,
Canon Montanelli, paused a moment in his writing
to glance lovingly at the black head bent over
the papers.

"Can't you find it, carino? Never mind; I
must rewrite the passage. Possibly it has got
torn up, and I have kept you all this time for
nothing."

Montanelli's voice was rather low, but full and
resonant, with a silvery purity of tone that gave to
his speech a peculiar charm. It was the voice of a
born orator, rich in possible modulations. When
he spoke to Arthur its note was always that of a
caress.

"No, Padre, I must find it; I'm sure you put
it here. You will never make it the same by
rewriting."

Montanelli went on with his work. A sleepy
cockchafer hummed drowsily outside the window,
and the long, melancholy call of a fruitseller echoed
down the street: "Fragola! fragola!"

"'On the Healing of the Leper'; here it is."
Arthur came across the room with the velvet tread
that always exasperated the good folk at home.
He was a slender little creature, more like an Italian
in a sixteenth-century portrait than a middle-class
English lad of the thirties. From the long
eyebrows and sensitive mouth to the small hands
and feet, everything about him was too much
chiseled, overdelicate. Sitting still, he might
have been taken for a very pretty girl masquerading
in male attire; but when he moved, his lithe
agility suggested a tame panther without the
claws.

"Is that really it? What should I do
without you, Arthur? I should always be losing
my things. No, I am not going to write any
more now. Come out into the garden, and I will
help you with your work. What is the bit you
couldn't understand?"

They went out into the still, shadowy cloister
garden. The seminary occupied the buildings of
an old Dominican monastery, and two hundred
years ago the square courtyard had been stiff and
trim, and the rosemary and lavender had grown in
close-cut bushes between the straight box edgings.
Now the white-robed monks who had tended
them were laid away and forgotten; but the
scented herbs flowered still in the gracious mid-summer
evening, though no man gathered their
blossoms for simples any more. Tufts of wild
parsley and columbine filled the cracks between
the flagged footways, and the well in the middle
of the courtyard was given up to ferns and matted
stone-crop. The roses had run wild, and their
straggling suckers trailed across the paths; in the
box borders flared great red poppies; tall foxgloves
drooped above the tangled grasses; and the
old vine, untrained and barren of fruit, swayed
from the branches of the neglected medlar-tree,
shaking a leafy head with slow and sad persistence.

In one corner stood a huge summer-flowering
magnolia, a tower of dark foliage, splashed
here and there with milk-white blossoms. A
rough wooden bench had been placed against the
trunk; and on this Montanelli sat down. Arthur
was studying philosophy at the university; and,
coming to a difficulty with a book, had applied to
"the Padre" for an explanation of the point.
Montanelli was a universal encyclopaedia to him,
though he had never been a pupil of the seminary.

"I had better go now," he said when the passage
had been cleared up; "unless you want me for
anything."

"I don't want to work any more, but I should
like you to stay a bit if you have time."

"Oh, yes!" He leaned back against the tree-trunk
and looked up through the dusky branches
at the first faint stars glimmering in a quiet sky.
The dreamy, mystical eyes, deep blue under black
lashes, were an inheritance from his Cornish
mother, and Montanelli turned his head away, that
he might not see them.

"You are looking tired, carino," he said.

"I can't help it." There was a weary sound
in Arthur's voice, and the Padre noticed it at
once.

"You should not have gone up to college so
soon; you were tired out with sick-nursing and
being up at night. I ought to have insisted on
your taking a thorough rest before you left
Leghorn."

"Oh, Padre, what's the use of that? I couldn't
stop in that miserable house after mother died.
Julia would have driven me mad!"

Julia was his eldest step-brother's wife, and a
thorn in his side.

"I should not have wished you to stay with your
relatives," Montanelli answered gently. "I am
sure it would have been the worst possible thing
for you. But I wish you could have accepted the
invitation of your English doctor friend; if you had
spent a month in his house you would have been
more fit to study."

"No, Padre, I shouldn't indeed! The Warrens
are very good and kind, but they don't understand;
and then they are sorry for me,--I can see it in
all their faces,--and they would try to console me,
and talk about mother. Gemma wouldn't, of
course; she always knew what not to say, even
when we were babies; but the others would.
And it isn't only that----"

"What is it then, my son?"

Arthur pulled off some blossoms from a drooping
foxglove stem and crushed them nervously in
his hand.

"I can't bear the town," he began after a moment's
pause. "There are the shops where she
used to buy me toys when I was a little thing, and
the walk along the shore where I used to take her
until she got too ill. Wherever I go it's the same
thing; every market-girl comes up to me with
bunches of flowers--as if I wanted them now!
And there's the church-yard--I had to get away;
it made me sick to see the place----"

He broke off and sat tearing the foxglove bells
to pieces. The silence was so long and deep that
he looked up, wondering why the Padre did not
speak. It was growing dark under the branches
of the magnolia, and everything seemed dim and
indistinct; but there was light enough to show the
ghastly paleness of Montanelli's face. He was
bending his head down, his right hand tightly
clenched upon the edge of the bench. Arthur
looked away with a sense of awe-struck wonder.
It was as though he had stepped unwittingly on to
holy ground.

"My God!" he thought; "how small and selfish
I am beside him! If my trouble were his own he
couldn't feel it more."

Presently Montanelli raised his head and looked
round. "I won't press you to go back there; at
all events, just now," he said in his most caressing
tone; "but you must promise me to take a
thorough rest when your vacation begins this
summer. I think you had better get a holiday
right away from the neighborhood of Leghorn. I
can't have you breaking down in health."

"Where shall you go when the seminary closes,
Padre?"

"I shall have to take the pupils into the hills,
as usual, and see them settled there. But by the
middle of August the subdirector will be back
from his holiday. I shall try to get up into the
Alps for a little change. Will you come with me?
I could take you for some long mountain rambles,
and you would like to study the Alpine mosses and
lichens. But perhaps it would be rather dull for
you alone with me?"

"Padre!" Arthur clasped his hands in what
Julia called his "demonstrative foreign way." "I
would give anything on earth to go away with
you. Only--I am not sure----" He stopped.

"You don't think Mr. Burton would allow
it?"

"He wouldn't like it, of course, but he could
hardly interfere. I am eighteen now and can do
what I choose. After all, he's only my step-brother;
I don't see that I owe him obedience.
He was always unkind to mother."

"But if he seriously objects, I think you had
better not defy his wishes; you may find your
position at home made much harder if----"

"Not a bit harder!" Arthur broke in passionately.
"They always did hate me and always
will--it doesn't matter what I do. Besides, how
can James seriously object to my going away with
you--with my father confessor?"

"He is a Protestant, remember. However, you
had better write to him, and we will wait to hear
what he thinks. But you must not be impatient,
my son; it matters just as much what you do,
whether people hate you or love you."

The rebuke was so gently given that Arthur
hardly coloured under it. "Yes, I know," he
answered, sighing; "but it is so difficult----"

"I was sorry you could not come to me on
Tuesday evening," Montanelli said, abruptly introducing
a new subject. "The Bishop of Arezzo
was here, and I should have liked you to meet
him."

"I had promised one of the students to go to a
meeting at his lodgings, and they would have been
expecting me."

"What sort of meeting?"

Arthur seemed embarrassed by the question.
"It--it was n-not a r-regular meeting," he said
with a nervous little stammer. "A student had
come from Genoa, and he made a speech to us--
a-a sort of--lecture."

"What did he lecture about?"

Arthur hesitated. "You won't ask me his
name, Padre, will you? Because I promised----"

"I will ask you no questions at all, and if you
have promised secrecy of course you must not tell
me; but I think you can almost trust me by this
time."

"Padre, of course I can. He spoke about--us
and our duty to the people--and to--our own
selves; and about--what we might do to
help----"

"To help whom?"

"The contadini--and----"

"And?"

"Italy."

There was a long silence.

"Tell me, Arthur," said Montanelli, turning to
him and speaking very gravely, "how long have
you been thinking about this?"

"Since--last winter."

"Before your mother's death? And did she
know of it?"

"N-no. I--I didn't care about it then."

"And now you--care about it?"

Arthur pulled another handful of bells off the
foxglove.

"It was this way, Padre," he began, with his
eyes on the ground. "When I was preparing for
the entrance examination last autumn, I got to
know a good many of the students; you remember?
Well, some of them began to talk to me
about--all these things, and lent me books. But
I didn't care much about it; I always wanted to
get home quick to mother. You see, she was quite
alone among them all in that dungeon of a house;
and Julia's tongue was enough to kill her. Then,
in the winter, when she got so ill, I forgot all about
the students and their books; and then, you know,
I left off coming to Pisa altogether. I should have
talked to mother if I had thought of it; but it went
right out of my head. Then I found out that she
was going to die----You know, I was almost
constantly with her towards the end; often I would
sit up the night, and Gemma Warren would come
in the day to let me get to sleep. Well, it was in
those long nights; I got thinking about the books
and about what the students had said--and wondering--
whether they were right and--what--
Our Lord would have said about it all."

"Did you ask Him?" Montanelli's voice was
not quite steady.

"Often, Padre. Sometimes I have prayed to
Him to tell me what I must do, or to let me die
with mother. But I couldn't find any answer."

"And you never said a word to me. Arthur, I
hoped you could have trusted me."

"Padre, you know I trust you! But there are
some things you can't talk about to anyone. I--it
seemed to me that no one could help me--not
even you or mother; I must have my own answer
straight from God. You see, it is for all my life
and all my soul."

Montanelli turned away and stared into the
dusky gloom of the magnolia branches. The
twilight was so dim that his figure had a shadowy
look, like a dark ghost among the darker boughs.

"And then?" he asked slowly.

"And then--she died. You know, I had been
up the last three nights with her----"

He broke off and paused a moment, but Montanelli
did not move.

"All those two days before they buried her,"
Arthur went on in a lower voice, "I couldn't think
about anything. Then, after the funeral, I was ill;
you remember, I couldn't come to confession."

"Yes; I remember."

"Well, in the night I got up and went into
mother's room. It was all empty; there was only
the great crucifix in the alcove. And I thought
perhaps God would help me. I knelt down
and waited--all night. And in the morning
when I came to my senses--Padre, it isn't any use;
I can't explain. I can't tell you what I saw--I
hardly know myself. But I know that God has
answered me, and that I dare not disobey Him."

For a moment they sat quite silent in the darkness.
Then Montanelli turned and laid his hand
on Arthur's shoulder.

"My son," he said, "God forbid that I should
say He has not spoken to your soul. But remember
your condition when this thing happened, and
do not take the fancies of grief or illness for His
solemn call. And if, indeed, it has been His will
to answer you out of the shadow of death, be sure
that you put no false construction on His word.
What is this thing you have it in your heart
to do?"

Arthur stood up and answered slowly, as though
repeating a catechism:

"To give up my life to Italy, to help in freeing
her from all this slavery and wretchedness, and in
driving out the Austrians, that she may be a
free republic, with no king but Christ."

"Arthur, think a moment what you are saying!
You are not even an Italian."

"That makes no difference; I am myself. I
have seen this thing, and I belong to it."

There was silence again.

"You spoke just now of what Christ would have
said----" Montanelli began slowly; but Arthur
interrupted him:

"Christ said: 'He that loseth his life for my
sake shall find it.'"

Montanelli leaned his arm against a branch, and
shaded his eyes with one hand.

"Sit down a moment, my son," he said at
last.

Arthur sat down, and the Padre took both his
hands in a strong and steady clasp.

"I cannot argue with you to-night," he said;
"this has come upon me so suddenly--I had not
thought--I must have time to think it over.
Later on we will talk more definitely. But, for
just now, I want you to remember one thing. If
you get into trouble over this, if you--die, you
will break my heart."

"Padre----"

"No; let me finish what I have to say. I told
you once that I have no one in the world but you.
I think you do not fully understand what that
means. It is difficult when one is so young; at
your age I should not have understood. Arthur,
you are as my--as my--own son to me. Do you
see? You are the light of my eyes and the desire
of my heart. I would die to keep you from making
a false step and ruining your life. But there
is nothing I can do. I don't ask you to make any
promises to me; I only ask you to remember this,
and to be careful. Think well before you take an
irrevocable step, for my sake, if not for the sake
of your mother in heaven."

"I will think--and--Padre, pray for me, and for
Italy."

He knelt down in silence, and in silence Montanelli
laid his hand on the bent head. A moment
later Arthur rose, kissed the hand, and went
softly away across the dewy grass. Montanelli
sat alone under the magnolia tree, looking straight
before him into the blackness.

"It is the vengeance of God that has fallen upon
me," he thought, "as it fell upon David. I, that
have defiled His sanctuary, and taken the Body of
the Lord into polluted hands,--He has been very
patient with me, and now it is come. 'For thou
didst it secretly, but I will do this thing before all
Israel, and before the sun; THE CHILD THAT IS BORN
UNTO THEE SHALL SURELY DIE.'"



CHAPTER II.

MR. JAMES BURTON did not at all like the idea
of his young step-brother "careering about Switzerland"
with Montanelli. But positively to forbid
a harmless botanizing tour with an elderly professor
of theology would seem to Arthur, who knew
nothing of the reason for the prohibition, absurdly
tyrannical. He would immediately attribute it to
religious or racial prejudice; and the Burtons
prided themselves on their enlightened tolerance.
The whole family had been staunch Protestants
and Conservatives ever since Burton & Sons, ship-owners,
of London and Leghorn, had first set up
in business, more than a century back. But they
held that English gentlemen must deal fairly, even
with Papists; and when the head of the house,
finding it dull to remain a widower, had married
the pretty Catholic governess of his younger children,
the two elder sons, James and Thomas, much
as they resented the presence of a step-mother
hardly older than themselves, had submitted with
sulky resignation to the will of Providence. Since
the father's death the eldest brother's marriage
had further complicated an already difficult position;
but both brothers had honestly tried to
protect Gladys, as long as she lived, from Julia's
merciless tongue, and to do their duty, as they
understood it, by Arthur. They did not even pretend
to like the lad, and their generosity towards
him showed itself chiefly in providing him with
lavish supplies of pocket money and allowing him
to go his own way.

In answer to his letter, accordingly, Arthur received
a cheque to cover his expenses and a cold
permission to do as he pleased about his holidays.
He expended half his spare cash on botanical books
and pressing-cases, and started off with the Padre
for his first Alpine ramble.

Montanelli was in lighter spirits than Arthur
had seen him in for a long while. After the first
shock of the conversation in the garden he had
gradually recovered his mental balance, and now
looked upon the case more calmly. Arthur was
very young and inexperienced; his decision could
hardly be, as yet, irrevocable. Surely there was
still time to win him back by gentle persuasion and
reasoning from the dangerous path upon which
he had barely entered.

They had intended to stay a few days at Geneva;
but at the first sight of the glaring white streets
and dusty, tourist-crammed promenades, a little
frown appeared on Arthur's face. Montanelli
watched him with quiet amusement.

"You don't like it, carino?"

"I hardly know. It's so different from what I
expected. Yes, the lake is beautiful, and I like the
shape of those hills." They were standing on
Rousseau's Island, and he pointed to the long,
severe outlines of the Savoy side. "But the town
looks so stiff and tidy, somehow--so Protestant;
it has a self-satisfied air. No, I don't like it; it
reminds me of Julia."

Montanelli laughed. "Poor boy, what a misfortune!
Well, we are here for our own amusement, so there
is no reason why we should stop. Suppose we take a
sail on the lake to-day, and go up into the mountains
to-morrow morning?"

"But, Padre, you wanted to stay here?"

"My dear boy, I have seen all these places a
dozen times. My holiday is to see your pleasure.
Where would you like to go?"

"If it is really the same to you, I should like to
follow the river back to its source."

"The Rhone?"

"No, the Arve; it runs so fast."

"Then we will go to Chamonix."

They spent the afternoon drifting about in a
little sailing boat. The beautiful lake produced
far less impression upon Arthur than the gray and
muddy Arve. He had grown up beside the Mediterranean,
and was accustomed to blue ripples;
but he had a positive passion for swiftly moving
water, and the hurried rushing of the glacier
stream delighted him beyond measure. "It is so
much in earnest," he said.

Early on the following morning they started for
Chamonix. Arthur was in very high spirits while
driving through the fertile valley country; but
when they entered upon the winding road near
Cluses, and the great, jagged hills closed in around
them, he became serious and silent. From St. Martin
they walked slowly up the valley, stopping to
sleep at wayside chalets or tiny mountain villages,
and wandering on again as their fancy directed.
Arthur was peculiarly sensitive to the influence of
scenery, and the first waterfall that they passed
threw him into an ecstacy which was delightful to
see; but as they drew nearer to the snow-peaks
he passed out of this rapturous mood into one of
dreamy exaltation that Montanelli had not seen
before. There seemed to be a kind of mystical relationship
between him and the mountains. He
would lie for hours motionless in the dark, secret,
echoing pine-forests, looking out between the
straight, tall trunks into the sunlit outer world of
flashing peaks and barren cliffs. Montanelli
watched him with a kind of sad envy.

"I wish you could show me what you see,
carino," he said one day as he looked up from his
book, and saw Arthur stretched beside him on the
moss in the same attitude as an hour before, gazing
out with wide, dilated eyes into the glittering
expanse of blue and white. They had turned aside
from the high-road to sleep at a quiet village near
the falls of the Diosaz, and, the sun being already
low in a cloudless sky, had mounted a point of pine-clad
rock to wait for the Alpine glow over the
dome and needles of the Mont Blanc chain. Arthur
raised his head with eyes full of wonder and
mystery.

"What I see, Padre? I see a great, white being
in a blue void that has no beginning and no end.
I see it waiting, age after age, for the coming of the
Spirit of God. I see it through a glass darkly."

Montanelli sighed.

"I used to see those things once."

"Do you never see them now?"

"Never. I shall not see them any more. They
are there, I know; but I have not the eyes to see
them. I see quite other things."

"What do you see?"

"I, carino? I see a blue sky and a snow-mountain
--that is all when I look up into the heights.
But down there it is different."

He pointed to the valley below them. Arthur
knelt down and bent over the sheer edge of the
precipice. The great pine trees, dusky in the gathering
shades of evening, stood like sentinels along
the narrow banks confining the river. Presently
the sun, red as a glowing coal, dipped behind a
jagged mountain peak, and all the life and light
deserted the face of nature. Straightway there
came upon the valley something dark and threatening
--sullen, terrible, full of spectral weapons.
The perpendicular cliffs of the barren western
mountains seemed like the teeth of a monster
lurking to snatch a victim and drag him down into
the maw of the deep valley, black with its moaning
forests. The pine trees were rows of knife-blades
whispering: "Fall upon us!" and in the
gathering darkness the torrent roared and howled,
beating against its rocky prison walls with the
frenzy of an everlasting despair.

"Padre!" Arthur rose, shuddering, and drew
back from the precipice. "It is like hell."

"No, my son," Montanelli answered softly, "it
is only like a human soul."

"The souls of them that sit in darkness and in
the shadow of death?"

"The souls of them that pass you day by day
in the street."

Arthur shivered, looking down into the shadows.
A dim white mist was hovering among the
pine trees, clinging faintly about the desperate
agony of the torrent, like a miserable ghost that
had no consolation to give.

"Look!" Arthur said suddenly. "The people
that walked in darkness have seen a great
light."

Eastwards the snow-peaks burned in the afterglow.
When the red light had faded from the
summits Montanelli turned and roused Arthur
with a touch on the shoulder.

"Come in, carino; all the light is gone. We
shall lose our way in the dark if we stay any
longer."

"It is like a corpse," Arthur said as he turned
away from the spectral face of the great snow-peak
glimmering through the twilight.

They descended cautiously among the black
trees to the chalet where they were to sleep.

As Montanelli entered the room where Arthur
was waiting for him at the supper table, he saw
that the lad seemed to have shaken off the ghostly
fancies of the dark, and to have changed into quite
another creature.

"Oh, Padre, do come and look at this absurd
dog! It can dance on its hind legs."

He was as much absorbed in the dog and its
accomplishments as he had been in the after-glow.
The woman of the chalet, red-faced and white-aproned,
with sturdy arms akimbo, stood by smiling,
while he put the animal through its tricks.
"One can see there's not much on his mind if he
can carry on that way," she said in patois to her
daughter. "And what a handsome lad!"

Arthur coloured like a schoolgirl, and the
woman, seeing that he had understood, went away
laughing at his confusion. At supper he talked of
nothing but plans for excursions, mountain
ascents, and botanizing expeditions. Evidently
his dreamy fancies had not interfered with either
his spirits or his appetite.

When Montanelli awoke the next morning Arthur
had disappeared. He had started before daybreak
for the higher pastures "to help Gaspard
drive up the goats."

Breakfast had not long been on the table, however,
when he came tearing into the room, hatless,
with a tiny peasant girl of three years old
perched on his shoulder, and a great bunch of wild
flowers in his hand.

Montanelli looked up, smiling. This was a curious
contrast to the grave and silent Arthur of Pisa
or Leghorn.

"Where have you been, you madcap? Scampering
all over the mountains without any breakfast?"

"Oh, Padre, it was so jolly! The mountains
look perfectly glorious at sunrise; and the dew is
so thick! Just look!"

He lifted for inspection a wet and muddy boot.

"We took some bread and cheese with us, and
got some goat's milk up there on the pasture; oh, it
was nasty! But I'm hungry again, now; and I
want something for this little person, too.
Annette, won't you have some honey?"

He had sat down with the child on his knee, and
was helping her to put the flowers in order.

"No, no!" Montanelli interposed. "I can't
have you catching cold. Run and change your wet
things. Come to me, Annette. Where did you
pick her up?"

"At the top of the village. She belongs to the
man we saw yesterday--the man that cobbles the
commune's boots. Hasn't she lovely eyes? She's
got a tortoise in her pocket, and she calls it
'Caroline.'"

When Arthur had changed his wet socks and
came down to breakfast he found the child seated
on the Padre's knee, chattering volubly to him
about her tortoise, which she was holding upside
down in a chubby hand, that "monsieur" might
admire the wriggling legs.

"Look, monsieur!" she was saying gravely in
her half-intelligible patois: "Look at Caroline's
boots!"

Montanelli sat playing with the child, stroking
her hair, admiring her darling tortoise, and telling
her wonderful stories. The woman of the
chalet, coming in to clear the table, stared in
amazement at the sight of Annette turning out
the pockets of the grave gentleman in clerical
dress.

"God teaches the little ones to know a good
man," she said. "Annette is always afraid of
strangers; and see, she is not shy with his reverence
at all. The wonderful thing! Kneel down,
Annette, and ask the good monsieur's blessing
before he goes; it will bring thee luck."

"I didn't know you could play with children
that way, Padre," Arthur said an hour later, as
they walked through the sunlit pasture-land.
"That child never took her eyes off you all the
time. Do you know, I think----"

"Yes?"

"I was only going to say--it seems to me
almost a pity that the Church should forbid priests
to marry. I cannot quite understand why. You
see, the training of children is such a serious thing,
and it means so much to them to be surrounded
from the very beginning with good influences, that
I should have thought the holier a man's vocation
and the purer his life, the more fit he is to be a
father. I am sure, Padre, if you had not been
under a vow,--if you had married,--your children
would have been the very----"

"Hush!"

The word was uttered in a hasty whisper that
seemed to deepen the ensuing silence.

"Padre," Arthur began again, distressed by the
other's sombre look, "do you think there is anything
wrong in what I said? Of course I may be
mistaken; but I must think as it comes natural to
me to think."

"Perhaps," Montanelli answered gently, "you
do not quite realize the meaning of what you just
said. You will see differently in a few years.
Meanwhile we had better talk about something
else."

It was the first break in the perfect ease and harmony
that reigned between them on this ideal holiday.

From Chamonix they went on by the Tete-Noire
to Martigny, where they stopped to rest,
as the weather was stiflingly hot. After dinner
they sat on the terrace of the hotel, which was
sheltered from the sun and commanded a good
view of the mountains. Arthur brought out his
specimen box and plunged into an earnest botanical
discussion in Italian.

Two English artists were sitting on the terrace;
one sketching, the other lazily chatting. It did
not seem to have occurred to him that the strangers
might understand English.

"Leave off daubing at the landscape, Willie,"
he said; "and draw that glorious Italian boy going
into ecstasies over those bits of ferns. Just look
at the line of his eyebrows! You only need to put
a crucifix for the magnifying-glass and a Roman
toga for the jacket and knickerbockers, and there's
your Early Christian complete, expression and
all."

"Early Christian be hanged! I sat beside that
youth at dinner; he was just as ecstatic over the
roast fowl as over those grubby little weeds. He's
pretty enough; that olive colouring is beautiful;
but he's not half so picturesque as his father."

"His--who?"

"His father, sitting there straight in front of
you. Do you mean to say you've passed him over?
It's a perfectly magnificent face."

"Why, you dunder-headed, go-to-meeting
Methodist! Don't you know a Catholic priest
when you see one?"

"A priest? By Jove, so he is! Yes, I forgot;
vow of chastity, and all that sort of thing. Well
then, we'll be charitable and suppose the boy's his
nephew."

"What idiotic people!" Arthur whispered,
looking up with dancing eyes. "Still, it is kind of
them to think me like you; I wish I were really
your nephew----Padre, what is the matter?
How white you are!"

Montanelli was standing up, pressing one hand
to his forehead. "I am a little giddy," he said in
a curiously faint, dull tone. "Perhaps I was too
much in the sun this morning. I will go and lie
down, carino; it's nothing but the heat."

     .     .     .     .     .

After a fortnight beside the Lake of Lucerne
Arthur and Montanelli returned to Italy by the
St. Gothard Pass. They had been fortunate as
to weather and had made several very pleasant excursions;
but the first charm was gone out of their
enjoyment. Montanelli was continually haunted
by an uneasy thought of the "more definite talk"
for which this holiday was to have been the opportunity.
In the Arve valley he had purposely
put off all reference to the subject of which they
had spoken under the magnolia tree; it would be
cruel, he thought, to spoil the first delights of
Alpine scenery for a nature so artistic as Arthur's
by associating them with a conversation which
must necessarily be painful. Ever since the day
at Martigny he had said to himself each morning;
"I will speak to-day," and each evening: "I will
speak to-morrow;" and now the holiday was over,
and he still repeated again and again: "To-morrow,
to-morrow." A chill, indefinable sense of
something not quite the same as it had been, of
an invisible veil falling between himself and
Arthur, kept him silent, until, on the last evening
of their holiday, he realized suddenly that
he must speak now if he would speak at all.
They were stopping for the night at Lugano,
and were to start for Pisa next morning. He
would at least find out how far his darling had
been drawn into the fatal quicksand of Italian
politics.

"The rain has stopped, carino," he said after
sunset; "and this is the only chance we shall have
to see the lake. Come out; I want to have a talk
with you."

They walked along the water's edge to a quiet
spot and sat down on a low stone wall. Close
beside them grew a rose-bush, covered with scarlet
hips; one or two belated clusters of creamy
blossom still hung from an upper branch, swaying
mournfully and heavy with raindrops. On the
green surface of the lake a little boat, with white
wings faintly fluttering, rocked in the dewy breeze.
It looked as light and frail as a tuft of silvery
dandelion seed flung upon the water. High up
on Monte Salvatore the window of some shepherd's
hut opened a golden eye. The roses hung
their heads and dreamed under the still September
clouds, and the water plashed and murmured
softly among the pebbles of the shore.

"This will be my only chance of a quiet talk
with you for a long time," Montanelli began.
"You will go back to your college work and
friends; and I, too, shall be very busy this winter.
I want to understand quite clearly what our position
as regards each other is to be; and so, if
you----" He stopped for a moment and then
continued more slowly: "If you feel that you can
still trust me as you used to do, I want you to tell
me more definitely than that night in the seminary
garden, how far you have gone."

Arthur looked out across the water, listened
quietly, and said nothing.

"I want to know, if you will tell me," Montanelli
went on; "whether you have bound yourself
by a vow, or--in any way."

"There is nothing to tell, dear Padre; I have
not bound myself, but I am bound."

"I don't understand------"

"What is the use of vows? They are not what
binds people. If you feel in a certain way about
a thing, that binds you to it; if you don't feel that
way, nothing else can bind you."

"Do you mean, then, that this thing--this--
feeling is quite irrevocable? Arthur, have you
thought what you are saying?"

Arthur turned round and looked straight into
Montanelli's eyes.

"Padre, you asked me if I could trust you.
Can you not trust me, too? Indeed, if there were
anything to tell, I would tell it to you; but there
is no use in talking about these things. I have
not forgotten what you said to me that night; I
shall never forget it. But I must go my way and
follow the light that I see."

Montanelli picked a rose from the bush, pulled
off the petals one by one, and tossed them into
the water.

"You are right, carino. Yes, we will say no
more about these things; it seems there is indeed
no help in many words----Well, well, let us go
in."



CHAPTER III.

THE autumn and winter passed uneventfully.
Arthur was reading hard and had little spare time.
He contrived to get a glimpse of Montanelli once
or oftener in every week, if only for a few
minutes. From time to time he would come
in to ask for help with some difficult book; but
on these occasions the subject of study was
strictly adhered to. Montanelli, feeling, rather
than observing, the slight, impalpable barrier that
had come between them, shrank from everything
which might seem like an attempt to retain the
old close relationship. Arthur's visits now caused
him more distress than pleasure, so trying was the
constant effort to appear at ease and to behave as
if nothing were altered. Arthur, for his part,
noticed, hardly understanding it, the subtle
change in the Padre's manner; and, vaguely feeling
that it had some connection with the vexed
question of the "new ideas," avoided all mention
of the subject with which his thoughts were constantly
filled. Yet he had never loved Montanelli
so deeply as now. The dim, persistent sense of
dissatisfaction, of spiritual emptiness, which he
had tried so hard to stifle under a load of theology
and ritual, had vanished into nothing at the touch
of Young Italy. All the unhealthy fancies born of
loneliness and sick-room watching had passed
away, and the doubts against which he used to
pray had gone without the need of exorcism.
With the awakening of a new enthusiasm, a
clearer, fresher religious ideal (for it was more in
this light than in that of a political development
that the students' movement had appeared to
him), had come a sense of rest and completeness,
of peace on earth and good will towards men; and
in this mood of solemn and tender exaltation all
the world seemed to him full of light. He found
a new element of something lovable in the persons
whom he had most disliked; and Montanelli, who
for five years had been his ideal hero, was now in
his eyes surrounded with an additional halo, as a
potential prophet of the new faith. He listened
with passionate eagerness to the Padre's sermons,
trying to find in them some trace of inner kinship
with the republican ideal; and pored over the
Gospels, rejoicing in the democratic tendencies of
Christianity at its origin.

One day in January he called at the seminary to
return a book which he had borrowed. Hearing
that the Father Director was out, he went up to
Montanelli's private study, placed the volume on
its shelf, and was about to leave the room when
the title of a book lying on the table caught his
eyes. It was Dante's "De Monarchia." He
began to read it and soon became so absorbed that
when the door opened and shut he did not hear.
He was aroused from his preoccupation by Montanelli's
voice behind him.

"I did not expect you to-day," said the Padre,
glancing at the title of the book. "I was just
going to send and ask if you could come to me
this evening."

"Is it anything important? I have an engagement
for this evening; but I will miss it if------"

"No; to-morrow will do. I want to see you
because I am going away on Tuesday. I have
been sent for to Rome."

"To Rome? For long?"

"The letter says, 'till after Easter.' It is from
the Vatican. I would have let you know at once,
but have been very busy settling up things about
the seminary and making arrangements for the new
Director."

"But, Padre, surely you are not giving up the
seminary?"

"It will have to be so; but I shall probably come
back to Pisa, for some time at least."

"But why are you giving it up?"

"Well, it is not yet officially announced;
but I am offered a bishopric."

"Padre! Where?"

"That is the point about which I have to go to
Rome. It is not yet decided whether I am to
take a see in the Apennines, or to remain here as
Suffragan."

"And is the new Director chosen yet?"

"Father Cardi has been nominated and arrives
here to-morrow."

"Is not that rather sudden?"

"Yes; but----The decisions of the Vatican
are sometimes not communicated till the last
moment."

"Do you know the new Director?"

"Not personally; but he is very highly spoken
of. Monsignor Belloni, who writes, says that he
is a man of great erudition."

"The seminary will miss you terribly."

"I don't know about the seminary, but I am sure
you will miss me, carino; perhaps almost as much
as I shall miss you."

"I shall indeed; but I am very glad, for all
that."

"Are you? I don't know that I am." He sat
down at the table with a weary look on his face;
not the look of a man who is expecting high
promotion.

"Are you busy this afternoon, Arthur?" he said
after a moment. "If not, I wish you would stay
with me for a while, as you can't come to-night.
I am a little out of sorts, I think; and I want to
see as much of you as possible before leaving."

"Yes, I can stay a bit. I am due at six."

"One of your meetings?"

Arthur nodded; and Montanelli changed the
subject hastily.

"I want to speak to you about yourself," he
said. "You will need another confessor in my
absence."

"When you come back I may go on confessing
to you, may I not?"

"My dear boy, how can you ask? Of course I
am speaking only of the three or four months that
I shall be away. Will you go to one of the
Fathers of Santa Caterina?"

"Very well."

They talked of other matters for a little while;
then Arthur rose.

"I must go, Padre; the students will be waiting
for me."

The haggard look came back to Montanelli's
face.

"Already? You had almost charmed away
my black mood. Well, good-bye."

"Good-bye. I will be sure to come to-morrow."

"Try to come early, so that I may have time
to see you alone. Father Cardi will be here.
Arthur, my dear boy, be careful while I am gone;
don't be led into doing anything rash, at least before
I come back. You cannot think how anxious
I feel about leaving you."

"There is no need, Padre; everything is quite
quiet. It will be a long time yet."

"Good-bye," Montanelli said abruptly, and sat
down to his writing.

The first person upon whom Arthur's eyes fell,
as he entered the room where the students' little
gatherings were held, was his old playmate, Dr.
Warren's daughter. She was sitting in a corner
by the window, listening with an absorbed and
earnest face to what one of the "initiators," a tall
young Lombard in a threadbare coat, was saying
to her. During the last few months she had
changed and developed greatly, and now looked a
grown-up young woman, though the dense black
plaits still hung down her back in school-girl
fashion. She was dressed all in black, and had
thrown a black scarf over her head, as the room
was cold and draughty. At her breast was a spray
of cypress, the emblem of Young Italy. The
initiator was passionately describing to her the
misery of the Calabrian peasantry; and she sat
listening silently, her chin resting on one hand
and her eyes on the ground. To Arthur she
seemed a melancholy vision of Liberty mourning
for the lost Republic. (Julia would have seen in
her only an overgrown hoyden, with a sallow complexion,
an irregular nose, and an old stuff frock
that was too short for her.)

"You here, Jim!" he said, coming up to her
when the initiator had been called to the other end
of the room. "Jim" was a childish corruption of
her curious baptismal name: Jennifer. Her Italian
schoolmates called her "Gemma."

She raised her head with a start.

"Arthur! Oh, I didn't know you--belonged
here!"

"And I had no idea about you. Jim, since when
have you----?"

"You don't understand!" she interposed
quickly. "I am not a member. It is only that
I have done one or two little things. You see, I
met Bini--you know Carlo Bini?"

"Yes, of course." Bini was the organizer of the
Leghorn branch; and all Young Italy knew him.

"Well, he began talking to me about these
things; and I asked him to let me go to a students'
meeting. The other day he wrote to me to
Florence------Didn't you know I had been to
Florence for the Christmas holidays?"

"I don't often hear from home now."

"Ah, yes! Anyhow, I went to stay with the
Wrights." (The Wrights were old schoolfellows
of hers who had moved to Florence.) "Then Bini
wrote and told me to pass through Pisa to-day on
my way home, so that I could come here. Ah!
they're going to begin."

The lecture was upon the ideal Republic and
the duty of the young to fit themselves for it.
The lecturer's comprehension of his subject was
somewhat vague; but Arthur listened with devout
admiration. His mind at this period was curiously
uncritical; when he accepted a moral ideal
he swallowed it whole without stopping to think
whether it was quite digestible. When the lecture
and the long discussion which followed it were
finished and the students began to disperse, he
went up to Gemma, who was still sitting in the
corner of the room.

"Let me walk with you, Jim. Where are you
staying?"

"With Marietta."

"Your father's old housekeeper?"

"Yes; she lives a good way from here."

They walked for some time in silence. Then
Arthur said suddenly:

"You are seventeen, now, aren't you?"

"I was seventeen in October."

"I always knew you would not grow up like
other girls and begin wanting to go to balls and
all that sort of thing. Jim, dear, I have so often
wondered whether you would ever come to be
one of us."

"So have I."

"You said you had done things for Bini; I
didn't know you even knew him."

"It wasn't for Bini; it was for the other one"

"Which other one?"

"The one that was talking to me to-night--
Bolla."

"Do you know him well?" Arthur put in with
a little touch of jealousy. Bolla was a sore subject
with him; there had been a rivalry between them
about some work which the committee of Young
Italy had finally intrusted to Bolla, declaring
Arthur too young and inexperienced.

"I know him pretty well; and I like him very
much. He has been staying in Leghorn."

"I know; he went there in November------"

"Because of the steamers. Arthur, don't you
think your house would be safer than ours for that
work? Nobody would suspect a rich shipping
family like yours; and you know everyone at the
docks----"

"Hush! not so loud, dear! So it was in your
house the books from Marseilles were hidden?"

"Only for one day. Oh! perhaps I oughtn't to
have told you."

"Why not? You know I belong to the society.
Gemma, dear, there is nothing in all the world that
would make me so happy as for you to join us--
you and the Padre."

"Your Padre! Surely he----"

"No; he thinks differently. But I have sometimes
fancied--that is--hoped--I don't know----"

"But, Arthur! he's a priest."

"What of that? There are priests in the society
--two of them write in the paper. And why
not? It is the mission of the priesthood to lead
the world to higher ideals and aims, and what else
does the society try to do? It is, after all, more
a religious and moral question than a political one.
If people are fit to be free and responsible citizens,
no one can keep them enslaved."

Gemma knit her brows. "It seems to me,
Arthur," she said, "that there's a muddle somewhere
in your logic. A priest teaches religious
doctrine. I don't see what that has to do with
getting rid of the Austrians."

"A priest is a teacher of Christianity, and the
greatest of all revolutionists was Christ."

"Do you know, I was talking about priests to
father the other day, and he said----"

"Gemma, your father is a Protestant."

After a little pause she looked round at him
frankly.

"Look here, we had better leave this subject
alone. You are always intolerant when you talk
about Protestants."

"I didn't mean to be intolerant. But I think
Protestants are generally intolerant when they
talk about priests."

"I dare say. Anyhow, we have so often quarreled
over this subject that it is not worth while to
begin again. What did you think of the lecture?"

"I liked it very much--especially the last part.
I was glad he spoke so strongly about the
need of living the Republic, not dreaming of it.
It is as Christ said: 'The Kingdom of Heaven is
within you.'"

"It was just that part that I didn't like. He
talked so much of the wonderful things we ought
to think and feel and be, but he never told us practically
what we ought to do."

"When the time of crisis comes there will be
plenty for us to do; but we must be patient; these
great changes are not made in a day."

"The longer a thing is to take doing, the more
reason to begin at once. You talk about being
fit for freedom--did you ever know anyone so fit
for it as your mother? Wasn't she the most perfectly
angelic woman you ever saw? And what use
was all her goodness? She was a slave till the day
she died--bullied and worried and insulted by your
brother James and his wife. It would have been
much better for her if she had not been so sweet
and patient; they would never have treated her
so. That's just the way with Italy; it's not
patience that's wanted--it's for somebody to get
up and defend themselves------"

"Jim, dear, if anger and passion could have
saved Italy she would have been free long ago;
it is not hatred that she needs, it is love."

As he said the word a sudden flush went up
to his forehead and died out again. Gemma
did not see it; she was looking straight before
her with knitted brows and set mouth.

"You think I am wrong, Arthur," she said
after a pause; "but I am right, and you will grow
to see it some day. This is the house. Will you
come in?"

"No; it's late. Good-night, dear!"

He was standing on the doorstep, clasping her
hand in both of his.

"For God and the people----"

Slowly and gravely she completed the unfinished
motto:

"Now and forever."

Then she pulled away her hand and ran into
the house. When the door had closed behind her
he stooped and picked up the spray of cypress
which had fallen from her breast.



CHAPTER IV.

ARTHUR went back to his lodgings feeling as
though he had wings. He was absolutely, cloudlessly
happy. At the meeting there had been
hints of preparations for armed insurrection; and
now Gemma was a comrade, and he loved her.
They could work together, possibly even die together,
for the Republic that was to be. The
blossoming time of their hope was come, and the
Padre would see it and believe.

The next morning, however, he awoke in a
soberer mood and remembered that Gemma was
going to Leghorn and the Padre to Rome. January,
February, March--three long months to
Easter! And if Gemma should fall under "Protestant"
influences at home (in Arthur's vocabulary
"Protestant" stood for "Philistine")------
No, Gemma would never learn to flirt and simper
and captivate tourists and bald-headed shipowners,
like the other English girls in Leghorn; she was
made of different stuff. But she might be very
miserable; she was so young, so friendless, so
utterly alone among all those wooden people. If
only mother had lived----

In the evening he went to the seminary, where
he found Montanelli entertaining the new Director
and looking both tired and bored. Instead
of lighting up, as usual, at the sight of Arthur, the
Padre's face grew darker.

"This is the student I spoke to you about," he
said, introducing Arthur stiffly. "I shall be much
obliged if you will allow him to continue using the
library."

Father Cardi, a benevolent-looking elderly
priest, at once began talking to Arthur about the
Sapienza, with an ease and familiarity which
showed him to be well acquainted with college
life. The conversation soon drifted into a discussion
of university regulations, a burning question
of that day. To Arthur's great delight, the new
Director spoke strongly against the custom
adopted by the university authorities of constantly
worrying the students by senseless and vexatious
restrictions.

"I have had a good deal of experience in guiding
young people," he said; "and I make it a
rule never to prohibit anything without a good
reason. There are very few young men who will
give much trouble if proper consideration and respect
for their personality are shown to them.
But, of course, the most docile horse will kick if
you are always jerking at the rein."

Arthur opened his eyes wide; he had not expected
to hear the students' cause pleaded by the
new Director. Montanelli took no part in the discussion;
its subject, apparently, did not interest
him. The expression of his face was so unutterably
hopeless and weary that Father Cardi broke
off suddenly.

"I am afraid I have overtired you, Canon. You
must forgive my talkativeness; I am hot upon this
subject and forget that others may grow weary
of it."

"On the contrary, I was much interested."
Montanelli was not given to stereotyped politeness,
and his tone jarred uncomfortably upon
Arthur.

When Father Cardi went to his own room
Montanelli turned to Arthur with the intent and
brooding look that his face had worn all the
evening.

"Arthur, my dear boy," he began slowly; "I
have something to tell you."

"He must have had bad news," flashed through
Arthur's mind, as he looked anxiously at the haggard
face. There was a long pause.

"How do you like the new Director?" Montanelli
asked suddenly.

The question was so unexpected that, for a moment,
Arthur was at a loss how to reply to it.

"I--I like him very much, I think--at least--
no, I am not quite sure that I do. But it is difficult
to say, after seeing a person once."

Montanelli sat beating his hand gently on the
arm of his chair; a habit with him when anxious
or perplexed.

"About this journey to Rome," he began again;
"if you think there is any--well--if you wish it,
Arthur, I will write and say I cannot go."

"Padre! But the Vatican------"

"The Vatican will find someone else. I can
send apologies."

"But why? I can't understand."

Montanelli drew one hand across his forehead.

"I am anxious about you. Things keep coming
into my head--and after all, there is no need
for me to go------"

"But the bishopric----"

"Oh, Arthur! what shall it profit me if I gain a
bishopric and lose----"

He broke off. Arthur had never seen him like
this before, and was greatly troubled.

"I can't understand," he said. "Padre, if you
could explain to me more--more definitely, what
it is you think------"

"I think nothing; I am haunted with a horrible
fear. Tell me, is there any special danger?"

"He has heard something," Arthur thought,
remembering the whispers of a projected revolt.
But the secret was not his to tell; and he merely
answered: "What special danger should there be?"

"Don't question me--answer me!" Montanelli's
voice was almost harsh in its eagerness.
"Are you in danger? I don't want to know your
secrets; only tell me that!"

"We are all in God's hands, Padre; anything
may always happen. But I know of no reason
why I should not be here alive and safe when you
come back."

"When I come back----Listen, carino; I will
leave it in your hands. You need give me no
reason; only say to me, 'Stay,' and I will give up
this journey. There will be no injury to anyone,
and I shall feel you are safer if I have you
beside me."

This kind of morbid fancifulness was so foreign
to Montanelli's character that Arthur looked at
him with grave anxiety.

"Padre, I am sure you are not well. Of course
you must go to Rome, and try to have a thorough
rest and get rid of your sleeplessness and headaches."

"Very well," Montanelli interrupted, as if tired
of the subject; "I will start by the early coach
to-morrow morning."

Arthur looked at him, wondering.

"You had something to tell me?" he said.

"No, no; nothing more--nothing of any consequence."
There was a startled, almost terrified
look in his face.

A few days after Montanelli's departure Arthur
went to fetch a book from the seminary library,
and met Father Cardi on the stairs.

"Ah, Mr. Burton!" exclaimed the Director;
"the very person I wanted. Please come in and
help me out of a difficulty."

He opened the study door, and Arthur followed
him into the room with a foolish, secret sense of
resentment. It seemed hard to see this dear
study, the Padre's own private sanctum, invaded
by a stranger.

"I am a terrible book-worm," said the Director;
"and my first act when I got here was to examine
the library. It seems very interesting, but I do
not understand the system by which it is catalogued."

"The catalogue is imperfect; many of the
best books have been added to the collection
lately."

"Can you spare half an hour to explain the arrangement
to me?"

They went into the library, and Arthur carefully
explained the catalogue. When he rose to
take his hat, the Director interfered, laughing.

"No, no! I can't have you rushing off in that
way. It is Saturday, and quite time for you to
leave off work till Monday morning. Stop and
have supper with me, now I have kept you so
late. I am quite alone, and shall be glad of
company."

His manner was so bright and pleasant that Arthur
felt at ease with him at once. After some
desultory conversation, the Director inquired how
long he had known Montanelli.

"For about seven years. He came back from
China when I was twelve years old."

"Ah, yes! It was there that he gained his reputation
as a missionary preacher. Have you been
his pupil ever since?"

"He began teaching me a year later, about the
time when I first confessed to him. Since I have
been at the Sapienza he has still gone on helping
me with anything I wanted to study that was not
in the regular course. He has been very kind to
me--you can hardly imagine how kind."

"I can well believe it; he is a man whom no one
can fail to admire--a most noble and beautiful
nature. I have met priests who were out in China
with him; and they had no words high enough to
praise his energy and courage under all hardships,
and his unfailing devotion. You are fortunate to
have had in your youth the help and guidance of
such a man. I understood from him that you have
lost both parents."

"Yes; my father died when I was a child, and
my mother a year ago."

"Have you brothers and sisters?"

"No; I have step-brothers; but they were business
men when I was in the nursery."

"You must have had a lonely childhood; perhaps
you value Canon Montanelli's kindness the
more for that. By the way, have you chosen a
confessor for the time of his absence?"

"I thought of going to one of the fathers of
Santa Caterina, if they have not too many
penitents."

"Will you confess to me?"

Arthur opened his eyes in wonder.

"Reverend Father, of course I--should be glad;
only----"

"Only the Director of a theological seminary
does not usually receive lay penitents? That is
quite true. But I know Canon Montanelli takes
a great interest in you, and I fancy he is a little
anxious on your behalf--just as I should be if I
were leaving a favourite pupil--and would like to
know you were under the spiritual guidance of his
colleague. And, to be quite frank with you, my
son, I like you, and should be glad to give you
any help I can."

"If you put it that way, of course I shall be
very grateful for your guidance."

"Then you will come to me next month?
That's right. And run in to see me, my lad, when
you have time any evening."

      .      .      .      .      .

Shortly before Easter Montanelli's appointment
to the little see of Brisighella, in the Etruscan
Apennines, was officially announced. He
wrote to Arthur from Rome in a cheerful and
tranquil spirit; evidently his depression was passing
over. "You must come to see me every vacation,"
he wrote; "and I shall often be coming to
Pisa; so I hope to see a good deal of you, if not
so much as I should wish."

Dr. Warren had invited Arthur to spend the
Easter holidays with him and his children, instead
of in the dreary, rat-ridden old place where Julia
now reigned supreme. Enclosed in the letter was
a short note, scrawled in Gemma's childish, irregular
handwriting, begging him to come if possible,
"as I want to talk to you about something."
Still more encouraging was the whispered communication
passing around from student to student in the university;
everyone was to be prepared for great things after Easter.

All this had put Arthur into a state of rapturous
anticipation, in which the wildest improbabilities
hinted at among the students seemed to
him natural and likely to be realized within the
next two months.

He arranged to go home on Thursday in Passion
week, and to spend the first days of the
vacation there, that the pleasure of visiting the
Warrens and the delight of seeing Gemma might
not unfit him for the solemn religious meditation
demanded by the Church from all her children at
this season. He wrote to Gemma, promising to
come on Easter Monday; and went up to his bedroom
on Wednesday night with a soul at peace.

He knelt down before the crucifix. Father
Cardi had promised to receive him in the morning;
and for this, his last confession before the
Easter communion, he must prepare himself by
long and earnest prayer. Kneeling with clasped
hands and bent head, he looked back over the
month, and reckoned up the miniature sins of
impatience, carelessness, hastiness of temper,
which had left their faint, small spots upon the
whiteness of his soul. Beyond these he could find
nothing; in this month he had been too happy
to sin much. He crossed himself, and, rising, began
to undress.

As he unfastened his shirt a scrap of paper
slipped from it and fluttered to the floor. It was
Gemma's letter, which he had worn all day upon
his neck. He picked it up, unfolded it, and kissed
the dear scribble; then began folding the paper
up again, with a dim consciousness of having done
something very ridiculous, when he noticed on
the back of the sheet a postscript which he had
not read before. "Be sure and come as soon as
possible," it ran, "for I want you to meet Bolla.
He has been staying here, and we have read together
every day."

The hot colour went up to Arthur's forehead as
he read.

Always Bolla! What was he doing in Leghorn
again? And why should Gemma want to read
with him? Had he bewitched her with his smuggling?
It had been quite easy to see at the meeting
in January that he was in love with her; that
was why he had been so earnest over his propaganda.
And now he was close to her--reading
with her every day.

Arthur suddenly threw the letter aside and knelt
down again before the crucifix. And this was the
soul that was preparing for absolution, for the
Easter sacrament--the soul at peace with God and
itself and all the world! A soul capable of sordid
jealousies and suspicions; of selfish animosities and
ungenerous hatred--and against a comrade! He covered
his face with both hands in bitter humiliation. Only
five minutes ago he had been dreaming of martyrdom; and
now he had been guilty of a mean and petty thought like this!

When he entered the seminary chapel on Thursday
morning he found Father Cardi alone. After
repeating the Confiteor, he plunged at once into
the subject of his last night's backsliding.

"My father, I accuse myself of the sins of jealousy
and anger, and of unworthy thoughts against
one who has done me no wrong."

Farther Cardi knew quite well with what kind of
penitent he had to deal. He only said softly:

"You have not told me all, my son."

"Father, the man against whom I have thought
an unchristian thought is one whom I am
especially bound to love and honour."

"One to whom you are bound by ties of
blood?"

"By a still closer tie."

"By what tie, my son?"

"By that of comradeship."

"Comradeship in what?"

"In a great and holy work."

A little pause.

"And your anger against this--comrade, your
jealousy of him, was called forth by his success in
that work being greater than yours?"

"I--yes, partly. I envied him his experience--
his usefulness. And then--I thought--I feared--
that he would take from me the heart of the girl
I--love."

"And this girl that you love, is she a daughter
of the Holy Church?"

"No; she is a Protestant."

"A heretic?"

Arthur clasped his hands in great distress.
"Yes, a heretic," he repeated. "We were brought
up together; our mothers were friends--and I
--envied him, because I saw that he loves her,
too, and because--because----"

"My son," said Father Cardi, speaking after a
moment's silence, slowly and gravely, "you have
still not told me all; there is more than this upon
your soul."

"Father, I----" He faltered and broke off
again.

The priest waited silently.

"I envied him because the society--the Young
Italy--that I belong to------"

"Yes?"

"Intrusted him with a work that I had hoped
--would be given to me, that I had thought myself
--specially adapted for."

"What work?"

"The taking in of books--political books--from
the steamers that bring them--and finding a hiding
place for them--in the town------"

"And this work was given by the party to your
rival?"

"To Bolla--and I envied him."

"And he gave you no cause for this feeling?
You do not accuse him of having neglected the
mission intrusted to him?"

"No, father; he has worked bravely and devotedly;
he is a true patriot and has deserved nothing
but love and respect from me."

Father Cardi pondered.

"My son, if there is within you a new light, a
dream of some great work to be accomplished for
your fellow-men, a hope that shall lighten the burdens
of the weary and oppressed, take heed how
you deal with the most precious blessing of God.
All good things are of His giving; and of His giving
is the new birth. If you have found the way
of sacrifice, the way that leads to peace; if you have
joined with loving comrades to bring deliverance
to them that weep and mourn in secret; then see
to it that your soul be free from envy and passion
and your heart as an altar where the sacred fire
burns eternally. Remember that this is a high and
holy thing, and that the heart which would receive
it must be purified from every selfish thought.
This vocation is as the vocation of a priest; it is
not for the love of a woman, nor for the moment
of a fleeting passion; it is FOR GOD AND THE PEOPLE;
it is NOW AND FOREVER."

"Ah!" Arthur started and clasped his hands;
he had almost burst out sobbing at the motto.
"Father, you give us the sanction of the Church!
Christ is on our side----"

"My son," the priest answered solemnly,
"Christ drove the moneychangers out of the
Temple, for His House shall be called a House
of Prayer, and they had made it a den of thieves."

After a long silence, Arthur whispered tremulously:

"And Italy shall be His Temple when they are
driven out----"

He stopped; and the soft answer came back:

"'The earth and the fulness thereof are mine,
saith the Lord.'"



CHAPTER V.

THAT afternoon Arthur felt the need of a long
walk. He intrusted his luggage to a fellow-student
and went to Leghorn on foot.

The day was damp and cloudy, but not cold; and
the low, level country seemed to him fairer than he
had ever known it to look before. He had a sense
of delight in the soft elasticity of the wet grass
under his feet and in the shy, wondering eyes of
the wild spring flowers by the roadside. In a
thorn-acacia bush at the edge of a little strip of
wood a bird was building a nest, and flew up as he
passed with a startled cry and a quick fluttering of
brown wings.

He tried to keep his mind fixed upon the devout
meditations proper to the eve of Good Friday.
But thoughts of Montanelli and Gemma got so
much in the way of this devotional exercise that at
last he gave up the attempt and allowed his fancy
to drift away to the wonders and glories of the
coming insurrection, and to the part in it that he
had allotted to his two idols. The Padre was to
be the leader, the apostle, the prophet before
whose sacred wrath the powers of darkness were
to flee, and at whose feet the young defenders of
Liberty were to learn afresh the old doctrines,
the old truths in their new and unimagined
significance.

And Gemma? Oh, Gemma would fight at
the barricades. She was made of the clay from
which heroines are moulded; she would be the
perfect comrade, the maiden undefiled and unafraid,
of whom so many poets have dreamed. She
would stand beside him, shoulder to shoulder,
rejoicing under the winged death-storm; and they
would die together, perhaps in the moment of
victory--without doubt there would be a victory.
Of his love he would tell her nothing; he would say
no word that might disturb her peace or spoil her
tranquil sense of comradeship. She was to him a
holy thing, a spotless victim to be laid upon the
altar as a burnt-offering for the deliverance of the
people; and who was he that he should enter into
the white sanctuary of a soul that knew no other
love than God and Italy?

God and Italy----Then came a sudden drop
from the clouds as he entered the great, dreary
house in the "Street of Palaces," and Julia's butler,
immaculate, calm, and politely disapproving as
ever, confronted him upon the stairs.

"Good-evening, Gibbons; are my brothers in?"

"Mr. Thomas is in, sir; and Mrs. Burton. They
are in the drawing room."

Arthur went in with a dull sense of oppression.
What a dismal house it was! The flood of life
seemed to roll past and leave it always just above
high-water mark. Nothing in it ever changed--
neither the people, nor the family portraits, nor the
heavy furniture and ugly plate, nor the vulgar
ostentation of riches, nor the lifeless aspect of
everything. Even the flowers on the brass stands
looked like painted metal flowers that had never
known the stirring of young sap within them in
the warm spring days. Julia, dressed for dinner,
and waiting for visitors in the drawing room which
was to her the centre of existence, might have sat
for a fashion-plate just as she was, with her wooden
smile and flaxen ringlets, and the lap-dog on her
knee.

"How do you do, Arthur?" she said stiffly, giving
him the tips of her fingers for a moment, and
then transferring them to the more congenial contact
of the lap-dog's silken coat. "I hope you
are quite well and have made satisfactory progress
at college."

Arthur murmured the first commonplace that
he could think of at the moment, and relapsed into
uncomfortable silence. The arrival of James, in his
most pompous mood and accompanied by a stiff,
elderly shipping-agent, did not improve matters;
and when Gibbons announced that dinner was
served, Arthur rose with a little sigh of relief.

"I won't come to dinner, Julia. If you'll excuse
me I will go to my room."

"You're overdoing that fasting, my boy," said
Thomas; "I am sure you'll make yourself ill."

"Oh, no! Good-night."

In the corridor Arthur met the under housemaid
and asked her to knock at his door at six in
the morning.

"The signorino is going to church?"

"Yes. Good-night, Teresa."

He went into his room. It had belonged to his
mother, and the alcove opposite the window had
been fitted up during her long illness as an oratory.
A great crucifix on a black pedestal occupied the
middle of the altar; and before it hung a little
Roman lamp. This was the room where she had
died. Her portrait was on the wall beside the
bed; and on the table stood a china bowl which
had been hers, filled with a great bunch of her
favourite violets. It was just a year since her
death; and the Italian servants had not forgotten
her.

He took out of his portmanteau a framed picture,
carefully wrapped up. It was a crayon portrait
of Montanelli, which had come from Rome
only a few days before. He was unwrapping this
precious treasure when Julia's page brought in a
supper-tray on which the old Italian cook, who had
served Gladys before the harsh, new mistress came,
had placed such little delicacies as she considered
her dear signorino might permit himself to eat
without infringing the rules of the Church.
Arthur refused everything but a piece of bread;
and the page, a nephew of Gibbons, lately arrived
from England, grinned significantly as he carried
out the tray. He had already joined the Protestant
camp in the servants' hall.

Arthur went into the alcove and knelt down
before the crucifix, trying to compose his mind to
the proper attitude for prayer and meditation.
But this he found difficult to accomplish. He had,
as Thomas said, rather overdone the Lenten privations,
and they had gone to his head like strong
wine. Little quivers of excitement went down his
back, and the crucifix swam in a misty cloud before
his eyes. It was only after a long litany, mechanically
repeated, that he succeeded in recalling his
wandering imagination to the mystery of the
Atonement. At last sheer physical weariness
conquered the feverish agitation of his nerves, and
he lay down to sleep in a calm and peaceful mood,
free from all unquiet or disturbing thoughts.

He was fast asleep when a sharp, impatient
knock came at his door. "Ah, Teresa!" he
thought, turning over lazily. The knock was
repeated, and he awoke with a violent start.

"Signorino! signorino!" cried a man's voice in
Italian; "get up for the love of God!"

Arthur jumped out of bed.

"What is the matter? Who is it?"

"It's I, Gian Battista. Get up, quick, for Our
Lady's sake!"

Arthur hurriedly dressed and opened the door.
As he stared in perplexity at the coachman's pale,
terrified face, the sound of tramping feet and
clanking metal came along the corridor, and he
suddenly realized the truth.

"For me?" he asked coolly.

"For you! Oh, signorino, make haste! What
have you to hide? See, I can put----"

"I have nothing to hide. Do my brothers
know?"

The first uniform appeared at the turn of the
passage.

"The signor has been called; all the house is
awake. Alas! what a misfortune--what a terrible
misfortune! And on Good Friday! Holy Saints,
have pity!"

Gian Battista burst into tears. Arthur moved
a few steps forward and waited for the gendarmes,
who came clattering along, followed by a shivering
crowd of servants in various impromptu costumes.
As the soldiers surrounded Arthur, the
master and mistress of the house brought up the
rear of this strange procession; he in dressing
gown and slippers, she in a long peignoir, with her
hair in curlpapers.

"There is, sure, another flood toward, and these
couples are coming to the ark! Here comes a
pair of very strange beasts!"

The quotation flashed across Arthur's mind as
he looked at the grotesque figures. He checked
a laugh with a sense of its jarring incongruity--this
was a time for worthier thoughts. "Ave Maria,
Regina Coeli!" he whispered, and turned his eyes
away, that the bobbing of Julia's curlpapers might
not again tempt him to levity.

"Kindly explain to me," said Mr. Burton, approaching
the officer of gendarmerie, "what is the
meaning of this violent intrusion into a private
house? I warn you that, unless you are prepared
to furnish me with a satisfactory explanation, I
shall feel bound to complain to the English
Ambassador."

"I presume," replied the officer stiffly, "that
you will recognize this as a sufficient explanation;
the English Ambassador certainly will." He
pulled out a warrant for the arrest of Arthur
Burton, student of philosophy, and, handing it to
James, added coldly: "If you wish for any further
explanation, you had better apply in person to the
chief of police."

Julia snatched the paper from her husband,
glanced over it, and flew at Arthur like nothing
else in the world but a fashionable lady in a
rage.

"So it's you that have disgraced the family!"
she screamed; "setting all the rabble in the town
gaping and staring as if the thing were a show?
So you have turned jail-bird, now, with all your
piety! It's what we might have expected from
that Popish woman's child----"

"You must not speak to a prisoner in a foreign
language, madam," the officer interrupted; but
his remonstrance was hardly audible under the torrent
of Julia's vociferous English.

"Just what we might have expected! Fasting
and prayer and saintly meditation; and this is what
was underneath it all! I thought that would be
the end of it."

Dr. Warren had once compared Julia to a salad
into which the cook had upset the vinegar cruet.
The sound of her thin, hard voice set Arthur's
teeth on edge, and the simile suddenly popped up
in his memory.

"There's no use in this kind of talk," he said.
"You need not be afraid of any unpleasantness;
everyone will understand that you are all quite
innocent. I suppose, gentlemen, you want to
search my things. I have nothing to hide."

While the gendarmes ransacked the room, reading
his letters, examining his college papers, and
turning out drawers and boxes, he sat waiting on
the edge of the bed, a little flushed with excitement,
but in no way distressed. The search did
not disquiet him. He had always burned letters
which could possibly compromise anyone, and beyond
a few manuscript verses, half revolutionary,
half mystical, and two or three numbers of Young
Italy, the gendarmes found nothing to repay them
for their trouble. Julia, after a long resistance,
yielded to the entreaties of her brother-in-law and
went back to bed, sweeping past Arthur with
magnificent disdain, James meekly following.

When they had left the room, Thomas, who all
this while had been tramping up and down, trying
to look indifferent, approached the officer and
asked permission to speak to the prisoner.
Receiving a nod in answer, he went up to Arthur
and muttered in a rather husky voice:

"I say; this is an infernally awkward business.
I'm very sorry about it."

Arthur looked up with a face as serene as a summer
morning. "You have always been good to
me," he said. "There's nothing to be sorry
about. I shall be safe enough."

"Look here, Arthur!" Thomas gave his moustache
a hard pull and plunged head first into the
awkward question. "Is--all this anything to do
with--money? Because, if it is, I----"

"With money! Why, no! What could it have
to do----"

"Then it's some political tomfoolery? I
thought so. Well, don't you get down in the
mouth--and never mind all the stuff Julia talks.
It's only her spiteful tongue; and if you want
help,--cash, or anything,--let me know, will
you?"

Arthur held out his hand in silence, and Thomas
left the room with a carefully made-up expression
of unconcern that rendered his face more stolid
than ever.

The gendarmes, meanwhile, had finished their
search, and the officer in charge requested Arthur
to put on his outdoor clothes. He obeyed at once
and turned to leave the room; then stopped with
sudden hesitation. It seemed hard to take leave
of his mother's oratory in the presence of these
officials.

"Have you any objection to leaving the room
for a moment?" he asked. "You see that I cannot
escape and that there is nothing to conceal."

"I am sorry, but it is forbidden to leave a
prisoner alone."

"Very well, it doesn't matter."

He went into the alcove, and, kneeling down,
kissed the feet and pedestal of the crucifix, whispering
softly: "Lord, keep me faithful unto death."

When he rose, the officer was standing by the
table, examining Montanelli's portrait. "Is this
a relative of yours?" he asked.

"No; it is my confessor, the new Bishop of
Brisighella."

On the staircase the Italian servants were waiting,
anxious and sorrowful. They all loved Arthur
for his own sake and his mother's, and crowded
round him, kissing his hands and dress with
passionate grief. Gian Battista stood by, the
tears dripping down his gray moustache. None
of the Burtons came out to take leave of him.
Their coldness accentuated the tenderness and
sympathy of the servants, and Arthur was near to
breaking down as he pressed the hands held out
to him.

"Good-bye, Gian Battista. Kiss the little ones
for me. Good-bye, Teresa. Pray for me, all of
you; and God keep you! Good-bye, good-bye!"

He ran hastily downstairs to the front door. A
moment later only a little group of silent men and
sobbing women stood on the doorstep watching
the carriage as it drove away.



CHAPTER VI.

ARTHUR was taken to the huge mediaeval fortress
at the harbour's mouth. He found prison life
fairly endurable. His cell was unpleasantly damp
and dark; but he had been brought up in a palace
in the Via Borra, and neither close air, rats, nor
foul smells were novelties to him. The food, also,
was both bad and insufficient; but James soon obtained
permission to send him all the necessaries of
life from home. He was kept in solitary confinement,
and, though the vigilance of the warders
was less strict than he had expected, he failed to
obtain any explanation of the cause of his arrest.
Nevertheless, the tranquil frame of mind in which
he had entered the fortress did not change. Not
being allowed books, he spent his time in prayer
and devout meditation, and waited without impatience
or anxiety for the further course of events.

One day a soldier unlocked the door of his cell
and called to him: "This way, please!" After two
or three questions, to which he got no answer but,
"Talking is forbidden," Arthur resigned himself
to the inevitable and followed the soldier through
a labyrinth of courtyards, corridors, and stairs, all
more or less musty-smelling, into a large, light
room in which three persons in military uniform
sat at a long table covered with green baize and littered
with papers, chatting in a languid, desultory
way. They put on a stiff, business air as he came
in, and the oldest of them, a foppish-looking man
with gray whiskers and a colonel's uniform,
pointed to a chair on the other side of the table
and began the preliminary interrogation.

Arthur had expected to be threatened, abused,
and sworn at, and had prepared himself to
answer with dignity and patience; but he was pleasantly
disappointed. The colonel was stiff, cold
and formal, but perfectly courteous. The usual
questions as to his name, age, nationality, and
social position were put and answered, and the
replies written down in monotonous succession.
He was beginning to feel bored and impatient,
when the colonel asked:

"And now, Mr. Burton, what do you know
about Young Italy?"

"I know that it is a society which publishes a
newspaper in Marseilles and circulates it in Italy,
with the object of inducing people to revolt and
drive the Austrian army out of the country."

"You have read this paper, I think?"

"Yes; I am interested in the subject."

"When you read it you realized that you were
committing an illegal action?"

"Certainly."

"Where did you get the copies which were
found in your room?"

"That I cannot tell you."

"Mr. Burton, you must not say 'I cannot tell'
here; you are bound to answer my questions."

"I will not, then, if you object to 'cannot.'"

"You will regret it if you permit yourself to
use such expressions," remarked the colonel. As
Arthur made no reply, he went on:

"I may as well tell you that evidence has come
into our hands proving your connection with this
society to be much more intimate than is implied
by the mere reading of forbidden literature. It
will be to your advantage to confess frankly. In
any case the truth will be sure to come out, and
you will find it useless to screen yourself behind
evasion and denials."

"I have no desire to screen myself. What is it
you want to know?"

"Firstly, how did you, a foreigner, come to be
implicated in matters of this kind?"

"I thought about the subject and read everything
I could get hold of, and formed my own
conclusions."

"Who persuaded you to join this society?"

"No one; I wished to join it."

"You are shilly-shallying with me," said the
colonel, sharply; his patience was evidently beginning
to give out. "No one can join a society by
himself. To whom did you communicate your wish
to join it?"

Silence.

"Will you have the kindness to answer me?"

"Not when you ask questions of that kind."

Arthur spoke sullenly; a curious, nervous irritability
was taking possession of him. He knew by
this time that many arrests had been made in both
Leghorn and Pisa; and, though still ignorant of
the extent of the calamity, he had already heard
enough to put him into a fever of anxiety for the
safety of Gemma and his other friends. The
studied politeness of the officers, the dull game of
fencing and parrying, of insidious questions and
evasive answers, worried and annoyed him, and the
clumsy tramping backward and forward of the
sentinel outside the door jarred detestably upon
his ear.

"Oh, by the bye, when did you last meet Giovanni
Bolla?" asked the colonel, after a little more
bandying of words. "Just before you left Pisa,
was it?"

"I know no one of that name."

"What! Giovanni Bolla? Surely you know him
--a tall young fellow, closely shaven. Why, he
is one of your fellow-students."

"There are many students in the university
whom I don't know."

"Oh, but you must know Bolla, surely! Look,
this is his handwriting. You see, he knows you
well enough."

The colonel carelessly handed him a paper
headed: "Protocol," and signed: "Giovanni
Bolla." Glancing down it Arthur came upon his
own name. He looked up in surprise. "Am I to
read it?"

"Yes, you may as well; it concerns you."

He began to read, while the officers sat silently
watching his face. The document appeared to
consist of depositions in answer to a long string of
questions. Evidently Bolla, too, must have been
arrested. The first depositions were of the usual
stereotyped character; then followed a short account
of Bolla's connection with the society, of the
dissemination of prohibited literature in Leghorn,
and of the students' meetings. Next came
"Among those who joined us was a young Englishman,
Arthur Burton, who belongs to one of
the rich shipowning families."

The blood rushed into Arthur's face. Bolla had
betrayed him! Bolla, who had taken upon himself
the solemn duties of an initiator--Bolla, who had
converted Gemma--who was in love with her!
He laid down the paper and stared at the floor.

"I hope that little document has refreshed
your memory?" hinted the colonel politely.

Arthur shook his head. "I know no one of that
name," he repeated in a dull, hard voice. "There
must be some mistake."

"Mistake? Oh, nonsense! Come, Mr. Burton,
chivalry and quixotism are very fine things in
their way; but there's no use in overdoing them.
It's an error all you young people fall into at first.
Come, think! What good is it for you to compromise
yourself and spoil your prospects in life over
a simple formality about a man that has betrayed
you? You see yourself, he wasn't so particular
as to what he said about you."

A faint shade of something like mockery had
crept into the colonel's voice. Arthur looked
up with a start; a sudden light flashed upon his
mind.

"It's a lie!" he cried out. "It's a forgery! I
can see it in your face, you cowardly----You've
got some prisoner there you want to compromise,
or a trap you want to drag me into. You are a forger,
and a liar, and a scoundrel----"

"Silence!" shouted the colonel, starting up in a
rage; his two colleagues were already on their
feet. "Captain Tommasi," he went on, turning to
one of them, "ring for the guard, if you please,
and have this young gentleman put in the punishment
cell for a few days. He wants a lesson, I see,
to bring him to reason."

The punishment cell was a dark, damp, filthy
hole under ground. Instead of bringing Arthur
"to reason," it thoroughly exasperated him. His
luxurious home had rendered him daintily fastidious
about personal cleanliness, and the first effect
of the slimy, vermin-covered walls, the floor
heaped with accumulations of filth and garbage,
the fearful stench of fungi and sewage and rotting
wood, was strong enough to have satisfied the
offended officer. When he was pushed in and the
door locked behind him he took three cautious
steps forward with outstretched hands, shuddering
with disgust as his fingers came into contact with
the slippery wall, and groped in the dense blackness
for some spot less filthy than the rest in which
to sit down.

The long day passed in unbroken blackness and
silence, and the night brought no change. In the
utter void and absence of all external impressions,
he gradually lost the consciousness of time; and
when, on the following morning, a key was turned
in the door lock, and the frightened rats scurried
past him squeaking, he started up in a sudden
panic, his heart throbbing furiously and a roaring
noise in his ears, as though he had been shut
away from light and sound for months instead of
hours.

The door opened, letting in a feeble lantern
gleam--a flood of blinding light, it seemed to him
--and the head warder entered, carrying a piece of
bread and a mug of water. Arthur made a step
forward; he was quite convinced that the man
had come to let him out. Before he had time to
speak, the warder put the bread and mug into his
hands, turned round and went away without a
word, locking the door again.

Arthur stamped his foot upon the ground. For
the first time in his life he was savagely angry.
But as the hours went by, the consciousness of time
and place gradually slipped further and further
away. The blackness seemed an illimitable thing,
with no beginning and no end, and life had, as it
were, stopped for him. On the evening of the
third day, when the door was opened and the head
warder appeared on the threshold with a soldier,
he looked up, dazed and bewildered, shading his
eyes from the unaccustomed light, and vaguely
wondering how many hours or weeks he had been
in this grave.

"This way, please," said the cool business voice
of the warder. Arthur rose and moved forward
mechanically, with a strange unsteadiness, swaying
and stumbling like a drunkard. He resented the
warder's attempt to help him up the steep, narrow
steps leading to the courtyard; but as he reached
the highest step a sudden giddiness came over him,
so that he staggered and would have fallen backwards
had the warder not caught him by the shoulder.

     .     .     .     .     .

"There, he'll be all right now," said a cheerful
voice; "they most of them go off this way coming
out into the air."

Arthur struggled desperately for breath as another
handful of water was dashed into his face.
The blackness seemed to fall away from him in
pieces with a rushing noise; then he woke suddenly
into full consciousness, and, pushing aside
the warder's arm, walked along the corridor and
up the stairs almost steadily. They stopped for a
moment in front of a door; then it opened, and before
he realized where they were taking him
he was in the brightly lighted interrogation
room, staring in confused wonder at the table and
the papers and the officers sitting in their accustomed places.

"Ah, it's Mr. Burton!" said the colonel. "I
hope we shall be able to talk more comfortably
now. Well, and how do you like the dark cell?
Not quite so luxurious as your brother's drawing
room, is it? eh?"

Arthur raised his eyes to the colonel's smiling
face. He was seized by a frantic desire to spring
at the throat of this gray-whiskered fop and tear it
with his teeth. Probably something of this kind
was visible in his face, for the colonel added immediately,
in a quite different tone:

"Sit down, Mr. Burton, and drink some water;
you are excited."

Arthur pushed aside the glass of water held out
to him; and, leaning his arms on the table, rested
his forehead on one hand and tried to collect his
thoughts. The colonel sat watching him keenly,
noting with experienced eyes the unsteady hands
and lips, the hair dripping with water, the dim
gaze that told of physical prostration and disordered nerves.

"Now, Mr. Burton," he said after a few minutes;
"we will start at the point where we left off; and
as there has been a certain amount of unpleasantness
between us, I may as well begin by saying that
I, for my part, have no desire to be anything but
indulgent with you. If you will behave properly
and reasonably, I assure you that we shall not
treat you with any unnecessary harshness."

"What do you want me to do?"

Arthur spoke in a hard, sullen voice, quite different
from his natural tone.

"I only want you to tell us frankly, in a straightforward
and honourable manner, what you know
of this society and its adherents. First of all, how
long have you known Bolla?"

"I never met him in my life. I know nothing
whatever about him."

"Really? Well, we will return to that subject
presently. I think you know a young man named
Carlo Bini?"

"I never heard of such a person."

"That is very extraordinary. What about
Francesco Neri?"

"I never heard the name."

"But here is a letter in your handwriting, addressed
to him. Look!"

Arthur glanced carelessly at the letter and laid it
aside.

"Do you recognize that letter?"

"No."

"You deny that it is in your writing?"

"I deny nothing. I have no recollection of it."

"Perhaps you remember this one?"

A second letter was handed to him, and he saw
that it was one which he had written in the autumn
to a fellow-student.

"No."

"Nor the person to whom it is addressed?"

"Nor the person."

"Your memory is singularly short."

"It is a defect from which I have always
suffered."

"Indeed! And I heard the other day from a
university professor that you are considered by no
means deficient; rather clever in fact."

"You probably judge of cleverness by the police-spy
standard; university professors use words in a
different sense."

The note of rising irritation was plainly audible
in Arthur's voice. He was physically exhausted
with hunger, foul air, and want of sleep; every bone
in his body seemed to ache separately; and the
colonel's voice grated on his exasperated nerves,
setting his teeth on edge like the squeak of a slate
pencil.

"Mr. Burton," said the colonel, leaning back
in his chair and speaking gravely, "you are again
forgetting yourself; and I warn you once more
that this kind of talk will do you no good. Surely
you have had enough of the dark cell not to want
any more just for the present. I tell you plainly
that I shall use strong measures with you if you
persist in repulsing gentle ones. Mind, I have
proof--positive proof--that some of these young
men have been engaged in smuggling prohibited
literature into this port; and that you have been
in communication with them. Now, are you going
to tell me, without compulsion, what you know
about this affair?"

Arthur bent his head lower. A blind, senseless,
wild-beast fury was beginning to stir within him
like a live thing. The possibility of losing command
over himself was more appalling to him than
any threats. For the first time he began to realize
what latent potentialities may lie hidden beneath
the culture of any gentleman and the piety of any
Christian; and the terror of himself was strong
upon him.

"I am waiting for your answer," said the colonel.

"I have no answer to give."

"You positively refuse to answer?"

"I will tell you nothing at all."

"Then I must simply order you back into the
punishment cell, and keep you there till you change
your mind. If there is much more trouble with
you, I shall put you in irons."

Arthur looked up, trembling from head to foot.
"You will do as you please," he said slowly; "and
whether the English Ambassador will stand your
playing tricks of that kind with a British subject
who has not been convicted of any crime is for him
to decide."

At last Arthur was conducted back to his own
cell, where he flung himself down upon the bed
and slept till the next morning. He was not put
in irons, and saw no more of the dreaded dark cell;
but the feud between him and the colonel grew
more inveterate with every interrogation. It was
quite useless for Arthur to pray in his cell for grace
to conquer his evil passions, or to meditate half the
night long upon the patience and meekness of
Christ. No sooner was he brought again into the
long, bare room with its baize-covered table, and
confronted with the colonel's waxed moustache,
than the unchristian spirit would take possession of
him once more, suggesting bitter repartees and
contemptuous answers. Before he had been a
month in the prison the mutual irritation had
reached such a height that he and the colonel
could not see each other's faces without losing
their temper.

The continual strain of this petty warfare was
beginning to tell heavily upon his nerves. Knowing
how closely he was watched, and remembering
certain dreadful rumours which he had heard of
prisoners secretly drugged with belladonna that
notes might be taken of their ravings, he gradually
became afraid to sleep or eat; and if a mouse ran
past him in the night, would start up drenched
with cold sweat and quivering with terror, fancying
that someone was hiding in the room to listen
if he talked in his sleep. The gendarmes were evidently
trying to entrap him into making some
admission which might compromise Bolla; and so
great was his fear of slipping, by any inadvertency,
into a pitfall, that he was really in danger of doing
so through sheer nervousness. Bolla's name rang
in his ears night and day, interfering even with his
devotions, and forcing its way in among the beads
of the rosary instead of the name of Mary. But
the worst thing of all was that his religion, like the
outer world, seemed to be slipping away from him
as the days went by. To this last foothold he clung
with feverish tenacity, spending several hours of
each day in prayer and meditation; but his
thoughts wandered more and more often to Bolla,
and the prayers were growing terribly mechanical.

His greatest comfort was the head warder of the
prison. This was a little old man, fat and bald,
who at first had tried his hardest to wear a severe
expression. Gradually the good nature which
peeped out of every dimple in his chubby face conquered
his official scruples, and he began carrying
messages for the prisoners from cell to cell.

One afternoon in the middle of May this
warder came into the cell with a face so scowling
and gloomy that Arthur looked at him in
astonishment.

"Why, Enrico!" he exclaimed; "what on earth
is wrong with you to-day?"

"Nothing," said Enrico snappishly; and, going
up to the pallet, he began pulling off the rug,
which was Arthur's property.

"What do you want with my things? Am I to
be moved into another cell?"

"No; you're to be let out."

"Let out? What--to-day? For altogether?
Enrico!"

In his excitement Arthur had caught hold of the
old man's arm. It was angrily wrenched away.

"Enrico! What has come to you? Why don't
you answer? Are we all going to be let out?"

A contemptuous grunt was the only reply.

"Look here!" Arthur again took hold of the
warder's arm, laughing. "It is no use for you to
be cross to me, because I'm not going to get
offended. I want to know about the others."

"Which others?" growled Enrico, suddenly
laying down the shirt he was folding. "Not Bolla,
I suppose?"

"Bolla and all the rest, of course. Enrico, what
is the matter with you?"

"Well, he's not likely to be let out in a hurry,
poor lad, when a comrade has betrayed him.
Ugh!" Enrico took up the shirt again in disgust.

"Betrayed him? A comrade? Oh, how dreadful!"
Arthur's eyes dilated with horror. Enrico
turned quickly round.

"Why, wasn't it you?"

"I? Are you off your head, man? I?"

"Well, they told him so yesterday at interrogation,
anyhow. I'm very glad if it wasn't you, for I
always thought you were rather a decent young
fellow. This way!" Enrico stepped out into the
corridor and Arthur followed him, a light breaking
in upon the confusion of his mind.

"They told Bolla I'd betrayed him? Of course
they did! Why, man, they told me he had betrayed
me. Surely Bolla isn't fool enough to
believe that sort of stuff?"

"Then it really isn't true?" Enrico stopped at
the foot of the stairs and looked searchingly at
Arthur, who merely shrugged his shoulders.

"Of course it's a lie."

"Well, I'm glad to hear it, my lad, and I'll tell
him you said so. But you see what they told him
was that you had denounced him out of--well, out
of jealousy, because of your both being sweet on
the same girl."

"It's a lie!" Arthur repeated the words in a
quick, breathless whisper. A sudden, paralyzing
fear had come over him. "The same girl--jealousy!"
How could they know--how could they know?

"Wait a minute, my lad." Enrico stopped in
the corridor leading to the interrogation room,
and spoke softly. "I believe you; but just tell me
one thing. I know you're a Catholic; did you
ever say anything in the confessional------"

"It's a lie!" This time Arthur's voice had risen
to a stifled cry.

Enrico shrugged his shoulders and moved on
again. "You know best, of course; but you
wouldn't be the only young fool that's been taken
in that way. There's a tremendous ado just now
about a priest in Pisa that some of your friends
have found out. They've printed a leaflet saying
he's a spy."

He opened the door of the interrogation room,
and, seeing that Arthur stood motionless, staring
blankly before him, pushed him gently across the
threshold.

"Good-afternoon, Mr. Burton," said the colonel,
smiling and showing his teeth amiably. "I have
great pleasure in congratulating you. An order
for your release has arrived from Florence. Will
you kindly sign this paper?"

Arthur went up to him. "I want to know," he
said in a dull voice, "who it was that betrayed
me."

The colonel raised his eyebrows with a smile.

"Can't you guess? Think a minute."

Arthur shook his head. The colonel put out
both hands with a gesture of polite surprise.

"Can't guess? Really? Why, you yourself,
Mr. Burton. Who else could know your private
love affairs?"

Arthur turned away in silence. On the wall
hung a large wooden crucifix; and his eyes wandered
slowly to its face; but with no appeal in
them, only a dim wonder at this supine and patient
God that had no thunderbolt for a priest who betrayed
the confessional.

"Will you kindly sign this receipt for your
papers?" said the colonel blandly; "and then I
need not keep you any longer. I am sure you
must be in a hurry to get home; and my time is
very much taken up just now with the affairs of
that foolish young man, Bolla, who tried your
Christian forbearance so hard. I am afraid he
will get a rather heavy sentence. Good-afternoon!"

Arthur signed the receipt, took his papers, and
went out in dead silence. He followed Enrico to
the massive gate; and, without a word of farewell,
descended to the water's edge, where a ferryman
was waiting to take him across the moat. As he
mounted the stone steps leading to the street, a
girl in a cotton dress and straw hat ran up to him
with outstretched hands.

"Arthur! Oh, I'm so glad--I'm so glad!"

He drew his hands away, shivering.

"Jim!" he said at last, in a voice that did not
seem to belong to him. "Jim!"

"I've been waiting here for half an hour. They
said you would come out at four. Arthur, why do
you look at me like that? Something has happened!
Arthur, what has come to you? Stop!"

He had turned away, and was walking slowly
down the street, as if he had forgotten her presence.
Thoroughly frightened at his manner, she
ran after him and caught him by the arm.

"Arthur!"

He stopped and looked up with bewildered eyes.
She slipped her arm through his, and they walked
on again for a moment in silence.

"Listen, dear," she began softly; "you mustn't
get so upset over this wretched business. I know
it's dreadfully hard on you, but everybody understands."

"What business?" he asked in the same dull
voice.

"I mean, about Bolla's letter."

Arthur's face contracted painfully at the name.

"I thought you wouldn't have heard of it,"
Gemma went on; "but I suppose they've told
you. Bolla must be perfectly mad to have imagined
such a thing."

"Such a thing----?"

"You don't know about it, then? He has
written a horrible letter, saying that you have told
about the steamers, and got him arrested. It's
perfectly absurd, of course; everyone that knows
you sees that; it's only the people who don't know
you that have been upset by it. Really, that's what
I came here for--to tell you that no one in our
group believes a word of it."

"Gemma! But it's--it's true!"

She shrank slowly away from him, and stood
quite still, her eyes wide and dark with horror, her
face as white as the kerchief at her neck. A great
icy wave of silence seemed to have swept round
them both, shutting them out, in a world apart,
from the life and movement of the street.

"Yes," he whispered at last; "the steamers--
I spoke of that; and I said his name--oh, my God!
my God! What shall I do?"

He came to himself suddenly, realizing her presence
and the mortal terror in her face. Yes, of
course, she must think------

"Gemma, you don't understand!" he burst out,
moving nearer; but she recoiled with a sharp cry:

"Don't touch me!"

Arthur seized her right hand with sudden
violence.

"Listen, for God's sake! It was not my fault;
I----"

"Let go; let my hand go! Let go!"

The next instant she wrenched her fingers away
from his, and struck him across the cheek with her
open hand.

A kind of mist came over his eyes. For a little
while he was conscious of nothing but Gemma's
white and desperate face, and the right hand which
she had fiercely rubbed on the skirt of her cotton
dress. Then the daylight crept back again, and he
looked round and saw that he was alone.



CHAPTER VII.

IT had long been dark when Arthur rang at the
front door of the great house in the Via Borra. He
remembered that he had been wandering about
the streets; but where, or why, or for how long, he
had no idea. Julia's page opened the door, yawning,
and grinned significantly at the haggard,
stony face. It seemed to him a prodigious joke to
have the young master come home from jail like
a "drunk and disorderly" beggar. Arthur went
upstairs. On the first floor he met Gibbons coming
down with an air of lofty and solemn disapproval.
He tried to pass with a muttered "Good
evening"; but Gibbons was no easy person to get
past against his will.

"The gentlemen are out, sir," he said, looking
critically at Arthur's rather neglected dress and
hair. "They have gone with the mistress to an
evening party, and will not be back till nearly
twelve."

Arthur looked at his watch; it was nine o'clock.
Oh, yes! he would have time--plenty of time------

"My mistress desired me to ask whether you
would like any supper, sir; and to say that she
hopes you will sit up for her, as she particularly
wishes to speak to you this evening."

"I don't want anything, thank you; you can
tell her I have not gone to bed."

He went up to his room. Nothing in it had
been changed since his arrest; Montanelli's portrait
was on the table where he had placed it, and
the crucifix stood in the alcove as before. He
paused a moment on the threshold, listening; but
the house was quite still; evidently no one was
coming to disturb him. He stepped softly into the
room and locked the door.

And so he had come to the end. There was
nothing to think or trouble about; an importunate
and useless consciousness to get rid of--and nothing
more. It seemed a stupid, aimless kind of
thing, somehow.

He had not formed any resolve to commit suicide,
nor indeed had he thought much about it;
the thing was quite obvious and inevitable. He
had even no definite idea as to what manner of
death to choose; all that mattered was to be done
with it quickly--to have it over and forget. He
had no weapon in the room, not even a pocketknife;
but that was of no consequence--a towel
would do, or a sheet torn into strips.

There was a large nail just over the window.
That would do; but it must be firm to bear his
weight. He got up on a chair to feel the nail; it
was not quite firm, and he stepped down again and
took a hammer from a drawer. He knocked in the
nail, and was about to pull a sheet off his bed,
when he suddenly remembered that he had not
said his prayers. Of course, one must pray before
dying; every Christian does that. There are even
special prayers for a departing soul.

He went into the alcove and knelt down before
the crucifix. "Almighty and merciful God----"
he began aloud; and with that broke off and said
no more. Indeed, the world was grown so dull
that there was nothing left to pray for--or against.
And then, what did Christ know about a trouble
of this kind--Christ, who had never suffered it?
He had only been betrayed, like Bolla; He had
never been tricked into betraying.

Arthur rose, crossing himself from old habit.
Approaching the table, he saw lying upon it a
letter addressed to him, in Montanelli's handwriting.
It was in pencil:


"My Dear Boy: It is a great disappointment
to me that I cannot see you on the day of your
release; but I have been sent for to visit a dying
man. I shall not get back till late at night. Come
to me early to-morrow morning. In great haste,

                                    "L. M."


He put down the letter with a sigh; it did seem
hard on the Padre.

How the people had laughed and gossiped in the
streets! Nothing was altered since the days when
he had been alive. Not the least little one of all
the daily trifles round him was changed because a
human soul, a living human soul, had been struck
down dead. It was all just the same as before.
The water had plashed in the fountains; the sparrows
had twittered under the eaves; just as they
had done yesterday, just as they would do to-morrow.
And as for him, he was dead--quite dead.

He sat down on the edge of the bed, crossed his
arms along the foot-rail, and rested his forehead
upon them. There was plenty of time; and his
head ached so--the very middle of the brain
seemed to ache; it was all so dull and stupid--so
utterly meaningless----

      .      .      .      .      .

The front-door bell rang sharply, and he started
up in a breathless agony of terror, with both hands
at his throat. They had come back--he had sat
there dreaming, and let the precious time slip
away--and now he must see their faces and hear
their cruel tongues--their sneers and comments--
If only he had a knife------

He looked desperately round the room. His
mother's work-basket stood in a little cupboard;
surely there would be scissors; he might sever an
artery. No; the sheet and nail were safer, if he
had time.

He dragged the counterpane from his bed, and
with frantic haste began tearing off a strip. The
sound of footsteps came up the stairs. No; the
strip was too wide; it would not tie firmly; and
there must be a noose. He worked faster as the
footsteps drew nearer; and the blood throbbed in
his temples and roared in his ears. Quicker--
quicker! Oh, God! five minutes more!

There was a knock at the door. The strip of
torn stuff dropped from his hands, and he sat quite
still, holding his breath to listen. The handle of
the door was tried; then Julia's voice called:

"Arthur!"

He stood up, panting.

"Arthur, open the door, please; we are waiting."

He gathered up the torn counterpane, threw it
into a drawer, and hastily smoothed down the
bed.

"Arthur!" This time it was James who called,
and the door-handle was shaken impatiently.
"Are you asleep?"

Arthur looked round the room, saw that everything
was hidden, and unlocked the door.

"I should think you might at least have obeyed
my express request that you should sit up for us,
Arthur," said Julia, sweeping into the room in a
towering passion. "You appear to think it the
proper thing for us to dance attendance for half
an hour at your door----"

"Four minutes, my dear," James mildly corrected,
stepping into the room at the end of his
wife's pink satin train. "I certainly think, Arthur,
that it would have been more--becoming if----"

"What do you want?" Arthur interrupted. He
was standing with his hand upon the door, glancing
furtively from one to the other like a trapped
animal. But James was too obtuse and Julia too
angry to notice the look.

Mr. Burton placed a chair for his wife and sat
down, carefully pulling up his new trousers at the
knees. "Julia and I," he began, "feel it to be our
duty to speak to you seriously about----"

"I can't listen to-night; I--I'm not well. My
head aches--you must wait."

Arthur spoke in a strange, indistinct voice, with
a confused and rambling manner. James looked
round in surprise.

"Is there anything the matter with you?" he
asked anxiously, suddenly remembering that Arthur
had come from a very hotbed of infection.
"I hope you're not sickening for anything. You
look quite feverish."

"Nonsense!" Julia interrupted sharply. "It's
only the usual theatricals, because he's ashamed to
face us. Come here and sit down, Arthur."
Arthur slowly crossed the room and sat down on
the bed. "Yes?" he said wearily.

Mr. Burton coughed, cleared his throat,
smoothed his already immaculate beard, and began
the carefully prepared speech over again:

"I feel it to be my duty--my painful duty--to
speak very seriously to you about your extraordinary
behaviour in connecting yourself with--a--
law-breakers and incendiaries and--a--persons of
disreputable character. I believe you to have been,
perhaps, more foolish than depraved--a----"

He paused.

"Yes?" Arthur said again.

"Now, I do not wish to be hard on you," James
went on, softening a little in spite of himself
before the weary hopelessness of Arthur's manner.
"I am quite willing to believe that you have been
led away by bad companions, and to take into
account your youth and inexperience and the--a--
a--imprudent and--a--impulsive character which
you have, I fear, inherited from your mother."

Arthur's eyes wandered slowly to his mother's
portrait and back again, but he did not speak.

"But you will, I feel sure, understand," James
continued, "that it is quite impossible for me to
keep any longer in my house a person who has
brought public disgrace upon a name so highly
respected as ours."

"Yes?" Arthur repeated once more.

"Well?" said Julia sharply, closing her fan with
a snap and laying it across her knee. "Are you
going to have the goodness to say anything but
'Yes,' Arthur?"

"You will do as you think best, of course," he
answered slowly, without moving. "It doesn't
matter much either way."

"Doesn't--matter?" James repeated, aghast;
and his wife rose with a laugh.

"Oh, it doesn't matter, doesn't it? Well, James,
I hope you understand now how much gratitude
you may expect in that quarter. I told you what
would come of showing charity to Papist adventuresses
and their----"

"Hush, hush! Never mind that, my dear!"

"It's all nonsense, James; we've had more than
enough of this sentimentality! A love-child setting
himself up as a member of the family--it's
quite time he did know what his mother was!
Why should we be saddled with the child of
a Popish priest's amourettes? There, then--
look!"

She pulled a crumpled sheet of paper out of her
pocket and tossed it across the table to Arthur.
He opened it; the writing was in his mother's
hand, and was dated four months before his birth.
It was a confession, addressed to her husband, and
with two signatures.

Arthur's eyes travelled slowly down the page,
past the unsteady letters in which her name was
written, to the strong, familiar signature: "Lorenzo
Montanelli." For a moment he stared at
the writing; then, without a word, refolded the
paper and laid it down. James rose and took his
wife by the arm.

"There, Julia, that will do. Just go downstairs
now; it's late, and I want to talk a little business
with Arthur. It won't interest you."

She glanced up at her husband; then back at
Arthur, who was silently staring at the floor.

"He seems half stupid," she whispered.

When she had gathered up her train and left the
room, James carefully shut the door and went back
to his chair beside the table. Arthur sat as before,
perfectly motionless and silent.

"Arthur," James began in a milder tone, now
Julia was not there to hear, "I am very sorry that
this has come out. You might just as well not
have known it. However, all that's over; and I
am pleased to see that you can behave with such
self-control. Julia is a--a little excited; ladies
often--anyhow, I don't want to be too hard on
you."

He stopped to see what effect the kindly words
had produced; but Arthur was quite motionless.

"Of course, my dear boy," James went on after
a moment, "this is a distressing story altogether,
and the best thing we can do is to hold our tongues
about it. My father was generous enough not to
divorce your mother when she confessed her fall to
him; he only demanded that the man who had led
her astray should leave the country at once; and,
as you know, he went to China as a missionary.
For my part, I was very much against your having
anything to do with him when he came back; but
my father, just at the last, consented to let him
teach you, on condition that he never attempted to
see your mother. I must, in justice, acknowledge
that I believe they both observed that condition
faithfully to the end. It is a very deplorable
business; but----"

Arthur looked up. All the life and expression
had gone out of his face; it was like a waxen
mask.

"D-don't you think," he said softly, with a curious
stammering hesitation on the words, "th-that--all
this--is--v-very--funny?"

"FUNNY?" James pushed his chair away from
the table, and sat staring at him, too much petrified
for anger. "Funny! Arthur, are you mad?"

Arthur suddenly threw back his head, and burst
into a frantic fit of laughing.

"Arthur!" exclaimed the shipowner, rising with
dignity, "I am amazed at your levity!"

There was no answer but peal after peal of
laughter, so loud and boisterous that even James
began to doubt whether there was not something
more the matter here than levity.

"Just like a hysterical woman," he muttered,
turning, with a contemptuous shrug of his shoulders,
to tramp impatiently up and down the room.
"Really, Arthur, you're worse than Julia; there,
stop laughing! I can't wait about here all night."

He might as well have asked the crucifix to come
down from its pedestal. Arthur was past caring
for remonstrances or exhortations; he only
laughed, and laughed, and laughed without end.

"This is absurd!" said James, stopping at last
in his irritated pacing to and fro. "You are evidently
too much excited to be reasonable to-night.
I can't talk business with you if you're going on
that way. Come to me to-morrow morning after
breakfast. And now you had better go to bed.
Good-night."

He went out, slamming the door. "Now for the
hysterics downstairs," he muttered as he tramped
noisily away. "I suppose it'll be tears there!"

      .      .      .      .      .

The frenzied laughter died on Arthur's lips.
He snatched up the hammer from the table and
flung himself upon the crucifix.

With the crash that followed he came suddenly
to his senses, standing before the empty pedestal,
the hammer still in his hand, and the fragments of
the broken image scattered on the floor about his
feet.

He threw down the hammer. "So easy!" he
said, and turned away. "And what an idiot
I am!"

He sat down by the table, panting heavily for
breath, and rested his forehead on both hands.
Presently he rose, and, going to the wash-stand,
poured a jugful of cold water over his head and
face. He came back quite composed, and sat down
to think.

And it was for such things as these--for these
false and slavish people, these dumb and soulless
gods--that he had suffered all these tortures of
shame and passion and despair; had made a rope
to hang himself, forsooth, because one priest was
a liar. As if they were not all liars! Well, all that
was done with; he was wiser now. He need only
shake off these vermin and begin life afresh.

There were plenty of goods vessels in the docks;
it would be an easy matter to stow himself away
in one of them, and get across to Canada, Australia,
Cape Colony--anywhere. It was no matter
for the country, if only it was far enough; and, as
for the life out there, he could see, and if it did not
suit him he could try some other place.

He took out his purse. Only thirty-three paoli;
but his watch was a good one. That would help
him along a bit; and in any case it was of no
consequence--he should pull through somehow. But
they would search for him, all these people; they
would be sure to make inquiries at the docks. No;
he must put them on a false scent--make them
believe him dead; then he should be quite free--
quite free. He laughed softly to himself at the
thought of the Burtons searching for his corpse.
What a farce the whole thing was!

Taking a sheet of paper, he wrote the first words
that occurred to him:


"I believed in you as I believed in God. God
is a thing made of clay, that I can smash with a
hammer; and you have fooled me with a lie."


He folded up the paper, directed it to Montanelli,
and, taking another sheet, wrote across it:
"Look for my body in Darsena." Then he put on
his hat and went out of the room. Passing his
mother's portrait, he looked up with a laugh
and a shrug of his shoulders. She, too, had lied
to him.

He crept softly along the corridor, and, slipping
back the door-bolts, went out on to the great,
dark, echoing marble staircase. It seemed to
yawn beneath him like a black pit as he descended.

He crossed the courtyard, treading cautiously
for fear of waking Gian Battista, who slept on the
ground floor. In the wood-cellar at the back was
a little grated window, opening on the canal and
not more than four feet from the ground. He
remembered that the rusty grating had broken away
on one side; by pushing a little he could make an
aperture wide enough to climb out by.

The grating was strong, and he grazed his
hands badly and tore the sleeve of his coat; but
that was no matter. He looked up and down the
street; there was no one in sight, and the canal
lay black and silent, an ugly trench between two
straight and slimy walls. The untried universe
might prove a dismal hole, but it could hardly be
more flat and sordid than the corner which he was
leaving behind him. There was nothing to regret;
nothing to look back upon. It had been a pestilent
little stagnant world, full of squalid lies and clumsy
cheats and foul-smelling ditches that were not
even deep enough to drown a man.

He walked along the canal bank, and came out
upon the tiny square by the Medici palace. It was
here that Gemma had run up to him with her vivid
face, her outstretched hands. Here was the little
flight of wet stone steps leading down to the moat;
and there the fortress scowling across the strip of
dirty water. He had never noticed before how
squat and mean it looked.

Passing through the narrow streets he reached
the Darsena shipping-basin, where he took off his
hat and flung it into the water. It would be
found, of course, when they dragged for his body.
Then he walked on along the water's edge, considering
perplexedly what to do next. He must
contrive to hide on some ship; but it was a difficult
thing to do. His only chance would be to
get on to the huge old Medici breakwater and
walk along to the further end of it. There was a
low-class tavern on the point; probably he should
find some sailor there who could be bribed.

But the dock gates were closed. How should
he get past them, and past the customs officials?
His stock of money would not furnish the high
bribe that they would demand for letting him
through at night and without a passport. Besides
they might recognize him.

As he passed the bronze statue of the "Four
Moors," a man's figure emerged from an old house
on the opposite side of the shipping basin and
approached the bridge. Arthur slipped at once
into the deep shadow behind the group of statuary
and crouched down in the darkness, peeping
cautiously round the corner of the pedestal.

It was a soft spring night, warm and starlit.
The water lapped against the stone walls of the
basin and swirled in gentle eddies round the steps
with a sound as of low laughter. Somewhere near
a chain creaked, swinging slowly to and fro. A
huge iron crane towered up, tall and melancholy
in the dimness. Black on a shimmering expanse of
starry sky and pearly cloud-wreaths, the figures
of the fettered, struggling slaves stood out in
vain and vehement protest against a merciless
doom.

The man approached unsteadily along the water
side, shouting an English street song. He was
evidently a sailor returning from a carouse at some
tavern. No one else was within sight. As he
drew near, Arthur stood up and stepped into the
middle of the roadway. The sailor broke off in
his song with an oath, and stopped short.

"I want to speak to you," Arthur said in
Italian. "Do you understand me?"

The man shook his head. "It's no use talking
that patter to me," he said; then, plunging into
bad French, asked sullenly: "What do you want?
Why can't you let me pass?"

"Just come out of the light here a minute; I
want to speak to you."

"Ah! wouldn't you like it? Out of the light!
Got a knife anywhere about you?"

"No, no, man! Can't you see I only want your
help? I'll pay you for it?"

"Eh? What? And dressed like a swell,
too------" The sailor had relapsed into English.
He now moved into the shadow and leaned against
the railing of the pedestal.

"Well," he said, returning to his atrocious
French; "and what is it you want?"

"I want to get away from here----"

"Aha! Stowaway! Want me to hide you?
Been up to something, I suppose. Stuck a knife
into somebody, eh? Just like these foreigners!
And where might you be wanting to go? Not
to the police station, I fancy?"

He laughed in his tipsy way, and winked one eye.

"What vessel do you belong to?"

"Carlotta--Leghorn to Buenos Ayres; shipping
oil one way and hides the other. She's over
there"--pointing in the direction of the breakwater
--"beastly old hulk!"

"Buenos Ayres--yes! Can you hide me anywhere on board?"

"How much can you give?"

"Not very much; I have only a few paoli."

"No. Can't do it under fifty--and cheap at
that, too--a swell like you."

"What do you mean by a swell? If you like my
clothes you may change with me, but I can't give
you more money than I have got."

"You have a watch there. Hand it over."

Arthur took out a lady's gold watch, delicately
chased and enamelled, with the initials "G. B." on
the back. It had been his mother's--but what
did that matter now?

"Ah!" remarked the sailor with a quick glance
at it. "Stolen, of course! Let me look!"

Arthur drew his hand away. "No," he said.
"I will give you the watch when we are on board;
not before."

"You're not such a fool as you look, after all!
I'll bet it's your first scrape, though, eh?"

"That is my business. Ah! there comes the
watchman."

They crouched down behind the group of statuary
and waited till the watchman had passed.
Then the sailor rose, and, telling Arthur to follow
him, walked on, laughing foolishly to himself.
Arthur followed in silence.

The sailor led him back to the little irregular
square by the Medici palace; and, stopping in a
dark corner, mumbled in what was intended for a
cautious whisper:

"Wait here; those soldier fellows will see you
if you come further."

"What are you going to do?"

"Get you some clothes. I'm not going to take
you on board with that bloody coatsleeve."

Arthur glanced down at the sleeve which had
been torn by the window grating. A little blood
from the grazed hand had fallen upon it. Evidently
the man thought him a murderer. Well,
it was of no consequence what people thought.

After some time the sailor came back, triumphant,
with a bundle under his arm.

"Change," he whispered; "and make haste
about it. I must get back, and that old Jew has
kept me bargaining and haggling for half an
hour."

Arthur obeyed, shrinking with instinctive disgust
at the first touch of second-hand clothes.
Fortunately these, though rough and coarse, were
fairly clean. When he stepped into the light in
his new attire, the sailor looked at him with tipsy
solemnity and gravely nodded his approval.

"You'll do," he said. "This way, and don't
make a noise." Arthur, carrying his discarded
clothes, followed him through a labyrinth of winding
canals and dark narrow alleys; the mediaeval
slum quarter which the people of Leghorn call
"New Venice." Here and there a gloomy old
palace, solitary among the squalid houses and
filthy courts, stood between two noisome ditches,
with a forlorn air of trying to preserve its ancient
dignity and yet of knowing the effort to be a hopeless
one. Some of the alleys, he knew, were
notorious dens of thieves, cut-throats, and smugglers;
others were merely wretched and poverty-stricken.

Beside one of the little bridges the sailor
stopped, and, looking round to see that they were
not observed, descended a flight of stone steps to
a narrow landing stage. Under the bridge was a
dirty, crazy old boat. Sharply ordering Arthur
to jump in and lie down, he seated himself in the
boat and began rowing towards the harbour's
mouth. Arthur lay still on the wet and leaky
planks, hidden by the clothes which the man had
thrown over him, and peeping out from under
them at the familiar streets and houses.

Presently they passed under a bridge and
entered that part of the canal which forms a moat
for the fortress. The massive walls rose out of
the water, broad at the base and narrowing upward
to the frowning turrets. How strong, how
threatening they had seemed to him a few hours
ago! And now----

He laughed softly as he lay in the bottom of the
boat.

"Hold your noise," the sailor whispered, "and
keep your head covered! We're close to the
custom house."

Arthur drew the clothes over his head. A few
yards further on the boat stopped before a row of
masts chained together, which lay across the surface
of the canal, blocking the narrow waterway
between the custom house and the fortress wall.
A sleepy official came out yawning and bent over
the water's edge with a lantern in his hand.

"Passports, please."

The sailor handed up his official papers.
Arthur, half stifled under the clothes, held his
breath, listening.

"A nice time of night to come back to your
ship!" grumbled the customs official. "Been out
on the spree, I suppose. What's in your boat?"

"Old clothes. Got them cheap." He held up
the waistcoat for inspection. The official, lowering
his lantern, bent over, straining his eyes to see.

"It's all right, I suppose. You can pass."

He lifted the barrier and the boat moved slowly
out into the dark, heaving water. At a little distance
Arthur sat up and threw off the clothes.

"Here she is," the sailor whispered, after rowing
for some time in silence. "Keep close behind me
and hold your tongue."

He clambered up the side of a huge black monster,
swearing under his breath at the clumsiness
of the landsman, though Arthur's natural agility
rendered him less awkward than most people
would have been in his place. Once safely on
board, they crept cautiously between dark masses
of rigging and machinery, and came at last to a
hatchway, which the sailor softly raised.

"Down here!" he whispered. "I'll be back in
a minute."

The hold was not only damp and dark, but intolerably
foul. At first Arthur instinctively drew
back, half choked by the stench of raw hides and
rancid oil. Then he remembered the "punishment
cell," and descended the ladder, shrugging
his shoulders. Life is pretty much the same
everywhere, it seemed; ugly, putrid, infested with
vermin, full of shameful secrets and dark corners.
Still, life is life, and he must make the best of it.

In a few minutes the sailor came back with
something in his hands which Arthur could not
distinctly see for the darkness.

"Now, give me the watch and money. Make
haste!"

Taking advantage of the darkness, Arthur succeeded
in keeping back a few coins.

"You must get me something to eat," he said;
"I am half starved."

"I've brought it. Here you are." The sailor
handed him a pitcher, some hard biscuit, and a
piece of salt pork. "Now mind, you must hide
in this empty barrel, here, when the customs officers
come to examine to-morrow morning. Keep
as still as a mouse till we're right out at sea. I'll
let you know when to come out. And won't you
just catch it when the captain sees you--that's
all! Got the drink safe? Good-night!"

The hatchway closed, and Arthur, setting the
precious "drink" in a safe place, climbed on to an
oil barrel to eat his pork and biscuit. Then he
curled himself up on the dirty floor; and, for the
first time since his babyhood, settled himself to
sleep without a prayer. The rats scurried round
him in the darkness; but neither their persistent
noise nor the swaying of the ship, nor the nauseating
stench of oil, nor the prospect of to-morrow's
sea-sickness, could keep him awake. He
cared no more for them all than for the broken and
dishonoured idols that only yesterday had been
the gods of his adoration.





PART II.

----------

THIRTEEN YEARS LATER.

----------

CHAPTER I.

ONE evening in July, 1846, a few acquaintances
met at Professor Fabrizi's house in Florence to
discuss plans for future political work.

Several of them belonged to the Mazzinian
party and would have been satisfied with nothing
less than a democratic Republic and a United
Italy. Others were Constitutional Monarchists
and Liberals of various shades. On one point,
however, they were all agreed; that of dissatisfaction
with the Tuscan censorship; and the popular
professor had called the meeting in the hope that,
on this one subject at least, the representatives
of the dissentient parties would be able to get
through an hour's discussion without quarrelling.

Only a fortnight had elapsed since the famous
amnesty which Pius IX. had granted, on his accession,
to political offenders in the Papal States; but
the wave of liberal enthusiasm caused by it was
already spreading over Italy. In Tuscany even
the government appeared to have been affected
by the astounding event. It had occurred to
Fabrizi and a few other leading Florentines that
this was a propitious moment for a bold effort to
reform the press-laws.

"Of course," the dramatist Lega had said, when
the subject was first broached to him; "it would
be impossible to start a newspaper till we can
get the press-law changed; we should not bring
out the first number. But we may be able to run
some pamphlets through the censorship already;
and the sooner we begin the sooner we shall get
the law changed."

He was now explaining in Fabrizi's library his
theory of the line which should be taken by liberal
writers at the moment.

"There is no doubt," interposed one of the
company, a gray-haired barrister with a rather
drawling manner of speech, "that in some way
we must take advantage of the moment. We
shall not see such a favourable one again for bringing
forward serious reforms. But I doubt the
pamphlets doing any good. They will only irritate
and frighten the government instead of winning
it over to our side, which is what we really
want to do. If once the authorities begin to think
of us as dangerous agitators our chance of getting
their help is gone."

"Then what would you have us do?"

"Petition."

"To the Grand Duke?"

"Yes; for an augmentation of the liberty of the
press."

A keen-looking, dark man sitting by the window
turned his head round with a laugh.

"You'll get a lot out of petitioning!" he said.
"I should have thought the result of the Renzi
case was enough to cure anybody of going to work
that way."

"My dear sir, I am as much grieved as you are
that we did not succeed in preventing the extradition
of Renzi. But really--I do not wish to
hurt the sensibilities of anyone, but I cannot help
thinking that our failure in that case was largely
due to the impatience and vehemence of some
persons among our number. I should certainly
hesitate----"

"As every Piedmontese always does," the dark
man interrupted sharply. "I don't know where
the vehemence and impatience lay, unless you
found them in the strings of meek petitions we
sent in. That may be vehemence for Tuscany or
Piedmont, but we should not call it particularly
vehement in Naples."

"Fortunately," remarked the Piedmontese,
"Neapolitan vehemence is peculiar to Naples."

"There, there, gentlemen, that will do!" the
professor put in. "Neapolitan customs are very
good things in their way and Piedmontese customs
in theirs; but just now we are in Tuscany,
and the Tuscan custom is to stick to the
matter in hand. Grassini votes for petitions and
Galli against them. What do you think, Dr.
Riccardo?"

"I see no harm in petitions, and if Grassini gets
one up I'll sign it with all the pleasure in life.
But I don't think mere petitioning and nothing
else will accomplish much. Why can't we have
both petitions and pamphlets?"

"Simply because the pamphlets will put the
government into a state of mind in which it won't
grant the petitions," said Grassini.

"It won't do that anyhow." The Neapolitan
rose and came across to the table. "Gentlemen,
you're on the wrong tack. Conciliating the government
will do no good. What we must do is to
rouse the people."

"That's easier said than done; how are you
going to start?"

"Fancy asking Galli that! Of course he'd start
by knocking the censor on the head."

"No, indeed, I shouldn't," said Galli stoutly.
"You always think if a man comes from down
south he must believe in no argument but cold
steel."

"Well, what do you propose, then? Sh! Attention,
gentlemen! Galli has a proposal to make."

The whole company, which had broken up into
little knots of twos and threes, carrying on separate
discussions, collected round the table to
listen. Galli raised his hands in expostulation.

"No, gentlemen, it is not a proposal; it is merely
a suggestion. It appears to me that there is a
great practical danger in all this rejoicing over
the new Pope. People seem to think that, because
he has struck out a new line and granted
this amnesty, we have only to throw ourselves--
all of us, the whole of Italy--into his arms and he
will carry us to the promised land. Now, I am
second to no one in admiration of the Pope's
behaviour; the amnesty was a splendid action."

"I am sure His Holiness ought to feel flattered----"
Grassini began contemptuously.

"There, Grassini, do let the man speak!"
Riccardo interrupted in his turn. "It's a most
extraordinary thing that you two never can
keep from sparring like a cat and dog. Get on,
Galli!"

"What I wanted to say is this," continued the
Neapolitan. "The Holy Father, undoubtedly, is
acting with the best intentions; but how far he
will succeed in carrying his reforms is another
question. Just now it's smooth enough and, of
course, the reactionists all over Italy will lie quiet
for a month or two till the excitement about the
amnesty blows over; but they are not likely to
let the power be taken out of their hands without
a fight, and my own belief is that before the winter
is half over we shall have Jesuits and Gregorians
and Sanfedists and all the rest of the crew about
our ears, plotting and intriguing, and poisoning
off everybody they can't bribe."

"That's likely enough."

"Very well, then; shall we wait here, meekly
sending in petitions, till Lambruschini and his
pack have persuaded the Grand Duke to put us
bodily under Jesuit rule, with perhaps a few Austrian
hussars to patrol the streets and keep us
in order; or shall we forestall them and take advantage
of their momentary discomfiture to strike
the first blow?"

"Tell us first what blow you propose?"

"I would suggest that we start an organized
propaganda and agitation against the Jesuits."

"A pamphleteering declaration of war, in
fact?"

"Yes; exposing their intrigues, ferreting out
their secrets, and calling upon the people to make
common cause against them."

"But there are no Jesuits here to expose."

"Aren't there? Wait three months and see
how many we shall have. It'll be too late to keep
them out then."

"But really to rouse the town against the
Jesuits one must speak plainly; and if you do that
how will you evade the censorship?"

"I wouldn't evade it; I would defy it."

"You would print the pamphlets anonymously?
That's all very well, but the fact is, we have all
seen enough of the clandestine press to know----"

"I did not mean that. I would print the pamphlets
openly, with our names and addresses, and
let them prosecute us if they dare."

"The project is a perfectly mad one," Grassini
exclaimed. "It is simply putting one's head into
the lion's mouth out of sheer wantonness."

"Oh, you needn't be afraid!" Galli cut in
sharply; "we shouldn't ask you to go to prison
for our pamphlets."

"Hold your tongue, Galli!" said Riccardo.
"It's not a question of being afraid; we're all as
ready as you are to go to prison if there's any good
to be got by it, but it is childish to run into danger
for nothing. For my part, I have an amendment
to the proposal to suggest."

"Well, what is it?"

"I think we might contrive, with care, to fight
the Jesuits without coming into collision with the
censorship."

"I don't see how you are going to manage it."

"I think that it is possible to clothe what one
has to say in so roundabout a form that----"

"That the censorship won't understand it?
And then you'll expect every poor artisan and
labourer to find out the meaning by the light of
the ignorance and stupidity that are in him! That
doesn't sound very practicable."

"Martini, what do you think?" asked the professor,
turning to a broad-shouldered man with
a great brown beard, who was sitting beside him.

"I think that I will reserve my opinion till I
have more facts to go upon. It's a question of
trying experiments and seeing what comes of them."

"And you, Sacconi?"

"I should like to hear what Signora Bolla has
to say. Her suggestions are always valuable."

Everyone turned to the only woman in the
room, who had been sitting on the sofa, resting
her chin on one hand and listening in silence to
the discussion. She had deep, serious black eyes,
but as she raised them now there was an unmistakable
gleam of amusement in them.

"I am afraid," she said; "that I disagree with
everybody."

"You always do, and the worst of it is that you
are always right," Riccardo put in.

"I think it is quite true that we must fight the
Jesuits somehow; and if we can't do it with one
weapon we must with another. But mere defiance
is a feeble weapon and evasion a cumbersome
one. As for petitioning, that is a child's toy."

"I hope, signora," Grassini interposed, with
a solemn face; "that you are not suggesting such
methods as--assassination?"

Martini tugged at his big moustache and Galli
sniggered outright. Even the grave young
woman could not repress a smile.

"Believe me," she said, "that if I were ferocious
enough to think of such things I should not be
childish enough to talk about them. But the
deadliest weapon I know is ridicule. If you can
once succeed in rendering the Jesuits ludicrous,
in making people laugh at them and their claims,
you have conquered them without bloodshed."

"I believe you are right, as far as that goes,"
Fabrizi said; "but I don't see how you are going
to carry the thing through."

"Why should we not be able to carry it
through?" asked Martini. "A satirical thing has
a better chance of getting over the censorship
difficulty than a serious one; and, if it must be
cloaked, the average reader is more likely to find
out the double meaning of an apparently silly joke
than of a scientific or economic treatise."

"Then is your suggestion, signora, that we
should issue satirical pamphlets, or attempt to run
a comic paper? That last, I am sure, the censorship
would never allow."

"I don't mean exactly either. I believe a series
of small satirical leaflets, in verse or prose, to be
sold cheap or distributed free about the streets,
would be very useful. If we could find a clever
artist who would enter into the spirit of the thing,
we might have them illustrated."

"It's a capital idea, if only one could carry it
out; but if the thing is to be done at all it must
be well done. We should want a first-class satirist;
and where are we to get him?"

"You see," added Lega, "most of us are
serious writers; and, with all respect to the company,
I am afraid that a general attempt to be
humorous would present the spectacle of an elephant
trying to dance the tarantella."

"I never suggested that we should all rush into
work for which we are unfitted. My idea was
that we should try to find a really gifted satirist--
there must be one to be got somewhere in Italy,
surely--and offer to provide the necessary funds.
Of course we should have to know something of
the man and make sure that he would work on
lines with which we could agree."

"But where are you going to find him? I can
count up the satirists of any real talent on the
fingers of one hand; and none of them are available.
Giusti wouldn't accept; he is fully occupied
as it is. There are one or two good men in
Lombardy, but they write only in the Milanese
dialect----"

"And moreover," said Grassini, "the Tuscan
people can be influenced in better ways than this.
I am sure that it would be felt as, to say the least,
a want of political savoir faire if we were to treat
this solemn question of civil and religious liberty
as a subject for trifling. Florence is not a mere
wilderness of factories and money-getting like
London, nor a haunt of idle luxury like Paris. It
is a city with a great history------"

"So was Athens," she interrupted, smiling;
"but it was 'rather sluggish from its size and
needed a gadfly to rouse it'----"

Riccardo struck his hand upon the table.
"Why, we never thought of the Gadfly! The very man!"

"Who is that?"

"The Gadfly--Felice Rivarez. Don't you remember
him? One of Muratori's band that came
down from the Apennines three years ago?"

"Oh, you knew that set, didn't you? I remember
your travelling with them when they went on
to Paris."

"Yes; I went as far as Leghorn to see Rivarez
off for Marseilles. He wouldn't stop in Tuscany;
he said there was nothing left to do but laugh,
once the insurrection had failed, and so he had
better go to Paris. No doubt he agreed with
Signor Grassini that Tuscany is the wrong place
to laugh in. But I am nearly sure he would come
back if we asked him, now that there is a chance
of doing something in Italy."

"What name did you say?"

"Rivarez. He's a Brazilian, I think. At any
rate, I know he has lived out there. He is one of
the wittiest men I ever came across. Heaven
knows we had nothing to be merry over, that week
in Leghorn; it was enough to break one's heart to
look at poor Lambertini; but there was no keeping
one's countenance when Rivarez was in the
room; it was one perpetual fire of absurdities. He
had a nasty sabre-cut across the face, too; I
remember sewing it up. He's an odd creature;
but I believe he and his nonsense kept some of
those poor lads from breaking down altogether."

"Is that the man who writes political skits
in the French papers under the name of 'Le Taon'?"

"Yes; short paragraphs mostly, and comic
feuilletons. The smugglers up in the Apennines
called him 'the Gadfly' because of his tongue;
and he took the nickname to sign his work
with."

"I know something about this gentleman,"
said Grassini, breaking in upon the conversation
in his slow and stately manner; "and I cannot say
that what I have heard is much to his credit. He
undoubtedly possesses a certain showy, superficial
cleverness, though I think his abilities have been
exaggerated; and possibly he is not lacking in
physical courage; but his reputation in Paris and
Vienna is, I believe, very far from spotless. He
appears to be a gentleman of--a--a--many adventures
and unknown antecedents. It is said that he
was picked up out of charity by Duprez's expedition
somewhere in the wilds of tropical South
America, in a state of inconceivable savagery and
degradation. I believe he has never satisfactorily
explained how he came to be in such a condition.
As for the rising in the Apennines, I fear it is no


101

secret that persons of all characters took part in
that unfortunate affair. The men who were executed
in Bologna are known to have been nothing
but common malefactors; and the character of
many who escaped will hardly bear description.
Without doubt, SOME of the participators were
men of high character----"

"Some of them were the intimate friends of
several persons in this room!" Riccardo interrupted,
with an angry ring in his voice. "It's all
very well to be particular and exclusive, Grassini;
but these 'common malefactors' died for their
belief, which is more than you or I have done as
yet."

"And another time when people tell you the
stale gossip of Paris," added Galli, "you can tell
them from me that they are mistaken about the
Duprez expedition. I know Duprez's adjutant,
Martel, personally, and have heard the whole story
from him. It's true that they found Rivarez
stranded out there. He had been taken prisoner
in the war, fighting for the Argentine Republic,
and had escaped. He was wandering about the
country in various disguises, trying to get back
to Buenos Ayres. But the story of their taking
him on out of charity is a pure fabrication. Their
interpreter had fallen ill and been obliged to turn
back; and not one of the Frenchmen could speak
the native languages; so they offered him the post,
and he spent the whole three years with them,
exploring the tributaries of the Amazon. Martel
told me he believed they never would have got
through the expedition at all if it had not been
for Rivarez."

"Whatever he may be," said Fabrizi; "there
must be something remarkable about a man who
could lay his 'come hither' on two old campaigners
like Martel and Duprez as he seems to have
done. What do you think, signora?"

"I know nothing about the matter; I was in
England when the fugitives passed through Tuscany.
But I should think that if the companions
who were with a man on a three years' expedition
in savage countries, and the comrades who were
with him through an insurrection, think well of
him, that is recommendation enough to counterbalance
a good deal of boulevard gossip."

"There is no question about the opinion his
comrades had of him," said Riccardo. "From
Muratori and Zambeccari down to the roughest
mountaineers they were all devoted to him.
Moreover, he is a personal friend of Orsini. It's
quite true, on the other hand, that there are endless
cock-and-bull stories of a not very pleasant
kind going about concerning him in Paris; but if
a man doesn't want to make enemies he shouldn't
become a political satirist."

"I'm not quite sure," interposed Lega; "but
it seems to me that I saw him once when
the refugees were here. Was he not hunchbacked,
or crooked, or something of that kind?"

The professor had opened a drawer in his writing-table
and was turning over a heap of papers.
"I think I have his police description somewhere
here," he said. "You remember when they escaped
and hid in the mountain passes their personal
appearance was posted up everywhere, and
that Cardinal--what's the scoundrel's name?--
Spinola, offered a reward for their heads."

"There was a splendid story about Rivarez and
that police paper, by the way. He put on a
soldier's old uniform and tramped across country
as a carabineer wounded in the discharge of his
duty and trying to find his company. He actually
got Spinola's search-party to give him a lift, and
rode the whole day in one of their waggons,
telling them harrowing stories of how he had been
taken captive by the rebels and dragged off into
their haunts in the mountains, and of the fearful
tortures that he had suffered at their hands. They
showed him the description paper, and he told
them all the rubbish he could think of about 'the
fiend they call the Gadfly.' Then at night, when
they were asleep, he poured a bucketful of water
into their powder and decamped, with his pockets
full of provisions and ammunition------"

"Ah, here's the paper," Fabrizi broke in: "'Felice
Rivarez, called: The Gadfly. Age, about 30;
birthplace and parentage, unknown, probably
South American; profession, journalist. Short;
black hair; black beard; dark skin; eyes, blue;
forehead, broad and square; nose, mouth, chin------'
Yes, here it is: 'Special marks: right foot lame;
left arm twisted; two ringers missing on left hand;
recent sabre-cut across face; stammers.' Then
there's a note put: 'Very expert shot; care should
be taken in arresting.'"

"It's an extraordinary thing that he can have
managed to deceive the search-party with such a
formidable list of identification marks."

"It was nothing but sheer audacity that carried
him through, of course. If it had once occurred
to them to suspect him he would have been lost.
But the air of confiding innocence that he can put
on when he chooses would bring a man through
anything. Well, gentlemen, what do you think of
the proposal? Rivarez seems to be pretty well
known to several of the company. Shall we suggest
to him that we should be glad of his help
here or not?"

"I think," said Fabrizi, "that he might be
sounded upon the subject, just to find out whether
he would be inclined to think of the plan."

"Oh, he'll be inclined, you may be sure, once
it's a case of fighting the Jesuits; he is the most
savage anti-clerical I ever met; in fact, he's rather
rabid on the point."

"Then will you write, Riccardo?"

"Certainly. Let me see, where is he now? In
Switzerland, I think. He's the most restless
being; always flitting about. But as for the pamphlet
question----"

They plunged into a long and animated discussion.
When at last the company began to disperse Martini
went up to the quiet young woman.

"I will see you home, Gemma."

"Thanks; I want to have a business talk with
you."

"Anything wrong with the addresses?" he
asked softly.

"Nothing serious; but I think it is time to make
a few alterations. Two letters have been stopped
in the post this week. They were both quite unimportant,
and it may have been accidental; but
we cannot afford to have any risks. If once the
police have begun to suspect any of our addresses,
they must be changed immediately."

"I will come in about that to-morrow. I am
not going to talk business with you to-night;
you look tired."

"I am not tired."

"Then you are depressed again."

"Oh, no; not particularly."



CHAPTER II.

"Is the mistress in, Katie?"

"Yes, sir; she is dressing. If you'll just step
into the parlour she will be down in a few
minutes."

Katie ushered the visitor in with the cheerful
friendliness of a true Devonshire girl. Martini
was a special favourite of hers. He spoke English,
like a foreigner, of course, but still quite respectably;
and he never sat discussing politics at the top
of his voice till one in the morning, when the mistress
was tired, as some visitors had a way of
doing. Moreover, he had come to Devonshire to
help the mistress in her trouble, when her baby
was dead and her husband dying there; and ever
since that time the big, awkward, silent man had
been to Katie as much "one of the family" as was
the lazy black cat which now ensconced itself upon
his knee. Pasht, for his part, regarded Martini
as a useful piece of household furniture. This
visitor never trod upon his tail, or puffed tobacco
smoke into his eyes, or in any way obtruded upon
his consciousness an aggressive biped personality.
He behaved as a mere man should: provided a
comfortable knee to lie upon and purr, and at table
never forgot that to look on while human beings
eat fish is not interesting for a cat. The friendship
between them was of old date. Once, when
Pasht was a kitten and his mistress too ill to think
about him, he had come from England under Martini's
care, tucked away in a basket. Since then,
long experience had convinced him that this
clumsy human bear was no fair-weather friend.

"How snug you look, you two!" said Gemma,
coming into the room. "One would think you
had settled yourselves for the evening."

Martini carefully lifted the cat off his knee. "I
came early," he said, "in the hope that you will
give me some tea before we start. There will
probably be a frightful crush, and Grassini won't
give us any sensible supper--they never do in
those fashionable houses."

"Come now!" she said, laughing; "that's as
bad as Galli! Poor Grassini has quite enough sins
of his own to answer for without having his wife's
imperfect housekeeping visited upon his head.
As for the tea, it will be ready in a minute. Katie
has been making some Devonshire cakes specially
for you."

"Katie is a good soul, isn't she, Pasht? By the
way, so are you to have put on that pretty dress.
I was afraid you would forget."

"I promised you I would wear it, though it is
rather warm for a hot evening like this."

"It will be much cooler up at Fiesole; and
nothing else ever suits you so well as white cashmere.
I have brought you some flowers to wear with it."

"Oh, those lovely cluster roses; I am so fond
of them! But they had much better go into water.
I hate to wear flowers."

"Now that's one of your superstitious fancies."

"No, it isn't; only I think they must get so
bored, spending all the evening pinned to such a
dull companion."

"I am afraid we shall all be bored to-night. The
conversazione will be dull beyond endurance."

"Why?"

"Partly because everything Grassini touches
becomes as dull as himself."

"Now don't be spiteful. It is not fair when we
are going to be a man's guests."

"You are always right, Madonna. Well then,
it will be dull because half the interesting people
are not coming."

"How is that?"

"I don't know. Out of town, or ill, or something.
Anyway, there will be two or three ambassadors
and some learned Germans, and the usual
nondescript crowd of tourists and Russian princes
and literary club people, and a few French officers;
nobody else that I know of--except, of course,
the new satirist, who is to be the attraction of the
evening."

"The new satirist? What, Rivarez? But I
thought Grassini disapproved of him so strongly."

"Yes; but once the man is here and is sure to
be talked about, of course Grassini wants his house
to be the first place where the new lion will be on
show. You may be sure Rivarez has heard nothing
of Grassini's disapproval. He may have guessed
it, though; he's sharp enough."

"I did not even know he had come."

"He only arrived yesterday. Here comes the
tea. No, don't get up; let me fetch the kettle."

He was never so happy as in this little study.
Gemma's friendship, her grave unconsciousness of
the charm she exercised over him, her frank and
simple comradeship were the brightest things for
him in a life that was none too bright; and whenever
he began to feel more than usually depressed
he would come in here after business hours and
sit with her, generally in silence, watching her as
she bent over her needlework or poured out tea.
She never questioned him about his troubles or
expressed any sympathy in words; but he always
went away stronger and calmer, feeling, as he put
it to himself, that he could "trudge through
another fortnight quite respectably." She possessed,
without knowing it, the rare gift of consolation;
and when, two years ago, his dearest
friends had been betrayed in Calabria and shot
down like wolves, her steady faith had been perhaps
the thing which had saved him from despair.

On Sunday mornings he sometimes came in to
"talk business," that expression standing for anything
connected with the practical work of the
Mazzinian party, of which they both were active
and devoted members. She was quite a different
creature then; keen, cool, and logical, perfectly
accurate and perfectly neutral. Those who saw
her only at her political work regarded her as a
trained and disciplined conspirator, trustworthy,
courageous, in every way a valuable member of
the party, but somehow lacking in life and individuality.
"She's a born conspirator, worth any
dozen of us; and she is nothing more," Galli had
said of her. The "Madonna Gemma" whom
Martini knew was very difficult to get at.

"Well, and what is your 'new satirist' like?"
she asked, glancing back over her shoulder as she
opened the sideboard. "There, Cesare, there are
barley-sugar and candied angelica for you. I wonder,
by the way, why revolutionary men are always
so fond of sweets."

"Other men are, too, only they think it beneath
their dignity to confess it. The new satirist? Oh,
the kind of man that ordinary women will rave
over and you will dislike. A sort of professional
dealer in sharp speeches, that goes about the world
with a lackadaisical manner and a handsome ballet-girl
dangling on to his coat-tails."

"Do you mean that there is really a ballet-girl,
or simply that you feel cross and want to imitate
the sharp speeches?"

"The Lord defend me! No; the ballet-girl is
real enough and handsome enough, too, for those
who like shrewish beauty. Personally, I don't.
She's a Hungarian gipsy, or something of that
kind, so Riccardo says; from some provincial
theatre in Galicia. He seems to be rather a cool
hand; he has been introducing the girl to people
just as if she were his maiden aunt."

"Well, that's only fair if he has taken her away
from her home."

"You may look at things that way, dear Madonna,
but society won't. I think most people
will very much resent being introduced to a woman
whom they know to be his mistress."

"How can they know it unless he tells them
so?"

"It's plain enough; you'll see if you meet her.
But I should think even he would not have the
audacity to bring her to the Grassinis'."

"They wouldn't receive her. Signora Grassini
is not the woman to do unconventional things of
that kind. But I wanted to hear about Signor
Rivarez as a satirist, not as a man. Fabrizi told
me he had been written to and had consented to
come and take up the campaign against the
Jesuits; and that is the last I have heard. There
has been such a rush of work this week."

"I don't know that I can tell you much more.
There doesn't seem to have been any difficulty
over the money question, as we feared there would
be. He's well off, it appears, and willing to work
for nothing."

"Has he a private fortune, then?"
"Apparently he has; though it seems rather
odd--you heard that night at Fabrizi's about
the state the Duprez expedition found him
in. But he has got shares in mines somewhere
out in Brazil; and then he has been immensely
successful as a feuilleton writer in Paris and
Vienna and London. He seems to have half a
dozen languages at his finger-tips; and there's
nothing to prevent his keeping up his newspaper
connections from here. Slanging the Jesuits
won't take all his time."

"That's true, of course. It's time to start,
Cesare. Yes, I will wear the roses. Wait just a
minute."

She ran upstairs, and came back with the roses
in the bosom of her dress, and a long scarf of black
Spanish lace thrown over her head. Martini surveyed
her with artistic approval.

"You look like a queen, Madonna mia; like
the great and wise Queen of Sheba."

"What an unkind speech!" she retorted,
laughing; "when you know how hard I've been
trying to mould myself into the image of the typical
society lady! Who wants a conspirator to
look like the Queen of Sheba? That's not the
way to keep clear of spies."

"You'll never be able to personate the stupid
society woman if you try for ever. But it doesn't
matter, after all; you're too fair to look upon for
spies to guess your opinions, even though you
can't simper and hide behind your fan like Signora
Grassini."

"Now Cesare, let that poor woman alone!
There, take some more barley-sugar to sweeten
your temper. Are you ready? Then we had
better start."

Martini had been quite right in saying that the
conversazione would be both crowded and dull.
The literary men talked polite small-talk and
looked hopelessly bored, while the "nondescript
crowd of tourists and Russian princes" fluttered
up and down the rooms, asking each other who
were the various celebrities and trying to carry on
intellectual conversation. Grassini was receiving
his guests with a manner as carefully polished as
his boots; but his cold face lighted up at the sight
of Gemma. He did not really like her and indeed
was secretly a little afraid of her; but he realized
that without her his drawing room would lack a
great attraction. He had risen high in his profession,
and now that he was rich and well known
his chief ambition was to make of his house a
centre of liberal and intellectual society. He was
painfully conscious that the insignificant, overdressed
little woman whom in his youth he had
made the mistake of marrying was not fit, with
her vapid talk and faded prettiness, to be the
mistress of a great literary salon. When he could
prevail upon Gemma to come he always felt that
the evening would be a success. Her quiet
graciousness of manner set the guests at their ease,
and her very presence seemed to lay the spectre
of vulgarity which always, in his imagination,
haunted the house.

Signora Grassini greeted Gemma affectionately,
exclaiming in a loud whisper: "How charming
you look to-night!" and examining the white
cashmere with viciously critical eyes. She hated
her visitor rancourously, for the very things for
which Martini loved her; for her quiet strength
of character; for her grave, sincere directness;
for the steady balance of her mind; for the very
expression of her face. And when Signora Grassini
hated a woman, she showed it by effusive tenderness.
Gemma took the compliments and
endearments for what they were worth, and
troubled her head no more about them. What
is called "going into society" was in her eyes one
of the wearisome and rather unpleasant tasks
which a conspirator who wishes not to attract the
notice of spies must conscientiously fulfil. She
classed it together with the laborious work of
writing in cipher; and, knowing how valuable a
practical safeguard against suspicion is the reputation
of being a well-dressed woman, studied the
fashion-plates as carefully as she did the keys of
her ciphers.

The bored and melancholy literary lions brightened
up a little at the sound of Gemma's name;
she was very popular among them; and the radical
journalists, especially, gravitated at once to her
end of the long room. But she was far too practised
a conspirator to let them monopolize her.
Radicals could be had any day; and now, when
they came crowding round her, she gently sent
them about their business, reminding them with a
smile that they need not waste their time on converting
her when there were so many tourists in
need of instruction. For her part, she devoted
herself to an English M. P. whose sympathies the
republican party was anxious to gain; and, knowing
him to be a specialist on finance, she first won
his attention by asking his opinion on a technical
point concerning the Austrian currency, and then
deftly turned the conversation to the condition of
the Lombardo-Venetian revenue. The Englishman,
who had expected to be bored with small-talk,
looked askance at her, evidently fearing that
he had fallen into the clutches of a blue-stocking;
but finding that she was both pleasant to look at
and interesting to talk to, surrendered completely
and plunged into as grave a discussion of Italian
finance as if she had been Metternich. When
Grassini brought up a Frenchman "who wishes to
ask Signora Bolla something about the history of
Young Italy," the M. P. rose with a bewildered
sense that perhaps there was more ground for
Italian discontent than he had supposed.

Later in the evening Gemma slipped out on to
the terrace under the drawing-room windows to
sit alone for a few moments among the great
camellias and oleanders. The close air and continually
shifting crowd in the rooms were beginning to give her
a headache. At the further end of the terrace stood a
row of palms and tree-ferns, planted in large tubs
which were hidden by a bank of lilies and other
flowering plants. The whole formed a complete screen,
behind which was a little nook commanding a beautiful
view out across the valley. The branches of a pomegranate
tree, clustered with late blossoms, hung beside the
narrow opening between the plants.

In this nook Gemma took refuge, hoping that
no one would guess her whereabouts until she had
secured herself against the threatening headache
by a little rest and silence. The night was warm
and beautifully still; but coming out from the
hot, close rooms she felt it cool, and drew her lace
scarf about her head.

Presently the sounds of voices and footsteps
approaching along the terrace roused her from the
dreamy state into which she had fallen. She drew
back into the shadow, hoping to escape notice and
get a few more precious minutes of silence before
again having to rack her tired brain for conversation.
To her great annoyance the footsteps
paused near to the screen; then Signora Grassini's
thin, piping little voice broke off for a moment in
its stream of chatter.

The other voice, a man's, was remarkably soft
and musical; but its sweetness of tone was marred
by a peculiar, purring drawl, perhaps mere affectation,
more probably the result of a habitual
effort to conquer some impediment of speech, but
in any case very unpleasant.

"English, did you say?" it asked. "But
surely the name is quite Italian. What was it--
Bolla?"

"Yes; she is the widow of poor Giovanni Bolla,
who died in England about four years ago,--
don't you remember? Ah, I forgot--you lead
such a wandering life; we can't expect you to
know of all our unhappy country's martyrs--they
are so many!"

Signora Grassini sighed. She always talked in
this style to strangers; the role of a patriotic
mourner for the sorrows of Italy formed an effective
combination with her boarding-school manner and
pretty infantine pout.

"Died in England!" repeated the other voice.
"Was he a refugee, then? I seem to recognize
the name, somehow; was he not connected with
Young Italy in its early days?"

"Yes; he was one of the unfortunate young
men who were arrested in '33--you remember
that sad affair? He was released in a few months;
then, two or three years later, when there was a
warrant out against him again, he escaped to
England. The next we heard was that he was
married there. It was a most romantic affair altogether,
but poor Bolla always was romantic."

"And then he died in England, you say?"

"Yes, of consumption; he could not stand that
terrible English climate. And she lost her only
child just before his death; it caught scarlet fever.
Very sad, is it not? And we are all so fond of
dear Gemma! She is a little stiff, poor thing; the
English always are, you know; but I think her
troubles have made her melancholy, and----"

Gemma stood up and pushed back the boughs
of the pomegranate tree. This retailing of her
private sorrows for purposes of small-talk was
almost unbearable to her, and there was visible
annoyance in her face as she stepped into the
light.

"Ah! here she is!" exclaimed the hostess, with
admirable coolness. "Gemma, dear, I was wondering
where you could have disappeared to.
Signor Felice Rivarez wishes to make your
acquaintance."

"So it's the Gadfly," thought Gemma, looking
at him with some curiosity. He bowed to her
decorously enough, but his eyes glanced over her
face and figure with a look which seemed to
her insolently keen and inquisitorial.

"You have found a d-d-delightful little nook
here," he remarked, looking at the thick screen;
"and w-w-what a charming view!"

"Yes; it's a pretty corner. I came out here to
get some air."

"It seems almost ungrateful to the good God
to stay indoors on such a lovely night," said the
hostess, raising her eyes to the stars. (She had
good eyelashes and liked to show them.) "Look,
signore! Would not our sweet Italy be heaven
on earth if only she were free? To think that she
should be a bond-slave, with such flowers and such
skies!"

"And such patriotic women!" the Gadfly murmured
in his soft, languid drawl.

Gemma glanced round at him in some trepidation;
his impudence was too glaring, surely, to
deceive anyone. But she had underrated Signora
Grassini's appetite for compliments; the poor
woman cast down her lashes with a sigh.

"Ah, signore, it is so little that a woman can
do! Perhaps some day I may prove my right to
the name of an Italian--who knows? And now
I must go back to my social duties; the French
ambassador has begged me to introduce his ward
to all the notabilities; you must come in presently
and see her. She is a most charming girl.
Gemma, dear, I brought Signor Rivarez out to
show him our beautiful view; I must leave him
under your care. I know you will look after him
and introduce him to everyone. Ah! there is
that delightful Russian prince! Have you met
him? They say he is a great favourite of the
Emperor Nicholas. He is military commander
of some Polish town with a name that nobody can
pronounce. Quelle nuit magnifique! N'est-ce-pas,
mon prince?"

She fluttered away, chattering volubly to a
bull-necked man with a heavy jaw and a coat glittering
with orders; and her plaintive dirges for
"notre malheureuse patrie," interpolated with
"charmant" and "mon prince," died away along
the terrace.

Gemma stood quite still beside the pomegranate
tree. She was sorry for the poor, silly
little woman, and annoyed at the Gadfly's languid
insolence. He was watching the retreating figures
with an expression of face that angered her; it
seemed ungenerous to mock at such pitiable creatures.

"There go Italian and--Russian patriotism,"
he said, turning to her with a smile; "arm in arm
and mightily pleased with each other's company.
Which do you prefer?"

She frowned slightly and made no answer.

"Of c-course," he went on; "it's all a question
of p-personal taste; but I think, of the two, I like
the Russian variety best--it's so thorough. If
Russia had to depend on flowers and skies for her
supremacy instead of on powder and shot, how
long do you think 'mon prince' would k-keep
that Polish fortress?"

"I think," she answered coldly, "that we can
hold our personal opinions without ridiculing a
woman whose guests we are."

"Ah, yes! I f-forgot the obligations of hospitality
here in Italy; they are a wonderfully hospitable
people, these Italians. I'm sure the
Austrians find them so. Won't you sit down?"

He limped across the terrace to fetch a chair
for her, and placed himself opposite to her, leaning
against the balustrade. The light from a
window was shining full on his face; and she was
able to study it at her leisure.

She was disappointed. She had expected to
see a striking and powerful, if not pleasant face;
but the most salient points of his appearance were
a tendency to foppishness in dress and rather more
than a tendency to a certain veiled insolence of
expression and manner. For the rest, he was as
swarthy as a mulatto, and, notwithstanding his
lameness, as agile as a cat. His whole personality
was oddly suggestive of a black jaguar. The forehead
and left cheek were terribly disfigured by
the long crooked scar of the old sabre-cut; and
she had already noticed that, when he began to
stammer in speaking, that side of his face was
affected with a nervous twitch. But for these
defects he would have been, in a certain restless
and uncomfortable way, rather handsome; but it
was not an attractive face.

Presently he began again in his soft, murmuring
purr ("Just the voice a jaguar would talk in,
if it could speak and were in a good humour,"
Gemma said to herself with rising irritation).

"I hear," he said, "that you are interested in
the radical press, and write for the papers."

"I write a little; I have not time to do much."

"Ah, of course! I understood from Signora
Grassini that you undertake other important
work as well."

Gemma raised her eyebrows slightly. Signora
Grassini, like the silly little woman she was, had
evidently been chattering imprudently to this
slippery creature, whom Gemma, for her part, was
beginning actually to dislike.

"My time is a good deal taken up," she said
rather stiffly; "but Signora Grassini overrates
the importance of my occupations. They are
mostly of a very trivial character."

"Well, the world would be in a bad way if we
ALL of us spent our time in chanting dirges for
Italy. I should think the neighbourhood of our
host of this evening and his wife would make anybody
frivolous, in self-defence. Oh, yes, I know
what you're going to say; you are perfectly right,
but they are both so deliciously funny with their
patriotism.--Are you going in already? It is so
nice out here!"

"I think I will go in now. Is that my scarf?
Thank you."

He had picked it up, and now stood looking at
her with wide eyes as blue and innocent as forget-me-nots
in a brook.

"I know you are offended with me," he said
penitently, "for fooling that painted-up wax doll;
but what can a fellow do?"

"Since you ask me, I do think it an ungenerous
and--well--cowardly thing to hold one's intellectual
inferiors up to ridicule in that way; it is
like laughing at a cripple, or------"

He caught his breath suddenly, painfully; and
shrank back, glancing at his lame foot and mutilated
hand. In another instant he recovered his
self-possession and burst out laughing.

"That's hardly a fair comparison, signora; we
cripples don't flaunt our deformities in people's
faces as she does her stupidity. At least give us
credit for recognizing that crooked backs are no
pleasanter than crooked ways. There is a step
here; will you take my arm?"

She re-entered the house in embarrassed silence;
his unexpected sensitiveness had completely disconcerted her.

Directly he opened the door of the great reception
room she realized that something unusual
had happened in her absence. Most of the gentlemen
looked both angry and uncomfortable;
the ladies, with hot cheeks and carefully feigned
unconsciousness, were all collected at one end of
the room; the host was fingering his eye-glasses
with suppressed but unmistakable fury, and a little
group of tourists stood in a corner casting amused
glances at the further end of the room. Evidently
something was going on there which appeared to
them in the light of a joke, and to most
of the guests in that of an insult. Signora Grassini
alone did not appear to have noticed anything;
she was fluttering her fan coquettishly
and chattering to the secretary of the Dutch
embassy, who listened with a broad grin on his
face.

Gemma paused an instant in the doorway, turning
to see if the Gadfly, too, had noticed the disturbed
appearance of the company. There was
no mistaking the malicious triumph in his eyes as
he glanced from the face of the blissfully unconscious
hostess to a sofa at the end of the room.
She understood at once; he had brought his mistress
here under some false colour, which had
deceived no one but Signora Grassini.

The gipsy-girl was leaning back on the sofa,
surrounded by a group of simpering dandies and
blandly ironical cavalry officers. She was gorgeously
dressed in amber and scarlet, with an
Oriental brilliancy of tint and profusion of ornament
as startling in a Florentine literary salon
as if she had been some tropical bird among
sparrows and starlings. She herself seemed to
feel out of place, and looked at the offended
ladies with a fiercely contemptuous scowl. Catching
sight of the Gadfly as he crossed the room
with Gemma, she sprang up and came towards
him, with a voluble flood of painfully incorrect
French.

"M. Rivarez, I have been looking for you everywhere!
Count Saltykov wants to know whether
you can go to his villa to-morrow night. There
will be dancing."

"I am sorry I can't go; but then I couldn't
dance if I did. Signora Bolla, allow me to introduce
to you Mme. Zita Reni."

The gipsy glanced round at Gemma with a half
defiant air and bowed stiffly. She was certainly
handsome enough, as Martini had said, with a
vivid, animal, unintelligent beauty; and the perfect
harmony and freedom of her movements were
delightful to see; but her forehead was low and
narrow, and the line of her delicate nostrils was
unsympathetic, almost cruel. The sense of
oppression which Gemma had felt in the Gadfly's
society was intensified by the gypsy's presence;
and when, a moment later, the host came up to
beg Signora Bolla to help him entertain some
tourists in the other room, she consented with an
odd feeling of relief.

      .      .      .      .      .

"Well, Madonna, and what do you think of the
Gadfly?" Martini asked as they drove back to
Florence late at night. "Did you ever see anything
quite so shameless as the way he fooled that
poor little Grassini woman?"

"About the ballet-girl, you mean?"

"Yes, he persuaded her the girl was going to
be the lion of the season. Signora Grassini would
do anything for a celebrity."

"I thought it an unfair and unkind thing to
do; it put the Grassinis into a false position; and
it was nothing less than cruel to the girl herself.
I am sure she felt ill at ease."

"You had a talk with him, didn't you? What
did you think of him?"

"Oh, Cesare, I didn't think anything except
how glad I was to see the last of him. I never
met anyone so fearfully tiring. He gave me a
headache in ten minutes. He is like an incarnate
demon of unrest."

"I thought you wouldn't like him; and, to tell
the truth, no more do I. The man's as slippery
as an eel; I don't trust him."



CHAPTER III.

THE Gadfly took lodgings outside the Roman
gate, near to which Zita was boarding. He was
evidently somewhat of a sybarite; and, though
nothing in the rooms showed any serious extravagance,
there was a tendency to luxuriousness in
trifles and to a certain fastidious daintiness in the
arrangement of everything which surprised Galli
and Riccardo. They had expected to find a man
who had lived among the wildernesses of the Amazon
more simple in his tastes, and wondered at his
spotless ties and rows of boots, and at the masses
of flowers which always stood upon his writing
table. On the whole they got on very well with
him. He was hospitable and friendly to everyone,
especially to the local members of the Mazzinian
party. To this rule Gemma, apparently, formed
an exception; he seemed to have taken a dislike to
her from the time of their first meeting, and in
every way avoided her company. On two or three
occasions he was actually rude to her, thus bringing
upon himself Martini's most cordial detestation.
There had been no love lost between the
two men from the beginning; their temperaments
appeared to be too incompatible for them to feel
anything but repugnance for each other. On
Martini's part this was fast developing into
hostility.

"I don't care about his not liking me," he said
one day to Gemma with an aggrieved air. "I
don't like him, for that matter; so there's no harm
done. But I can't stand the way he behaves to
you. If it weren't for the scandal it would make
in the party first to beg a man to come and then
to quarrel with him, I should call him to account
for it."

"Let him alone, Cesare; it isn't of any consequence,
and after all, it's as much my fault as his."

"What is your fault?"

"That he dislikes me so. I said a brutal thing
to him when we first met, that night at the
Grassinis'."

"YOU said a brutal thing? That's hard to
believe, Madonna."

"It was unintentional, of course, and I was very
sorry. I said something about people laughing at
cripples, and he took it personally. It had never
occurred to me to think of him as a cripple; he is
not so badly deformed."

"Of course not. He has one shoulder higher
than the other, and his left arm is pretty badly
disabled, but he's neither hunchbacked nor clubfooted.
As for his lameness, it isn't worth talking
about."

"Anyway, he shivered all over and changed
colour. Of course it was horribly tactless of me,
but it's odd he should be so sensitive. I wonder
if he has ever suffered from any cruel jokes of that
kind."

"Much more likely to have perpetrated them, I
should think. There's a sort of internal brutality
about that man, under all his fine manners, that
is perfectly sickening to me."

"Now, Cesare, that's downright unfair. I
don't like him any more than you do, but what is
the use of making him out worse than he is? His
manner is a little affected and irritating--I expect
he has been too much lionized--and the everlasting
smart speeches are dreadfully tiring; but I
don't believe he means any harm."

"I don't know what he means, but there's something
not clean about a man who sneers at everything. It
fairly disgusted me the other day at
Fabrizi's debate to hear the way he cried down
the reforms in Rome, just as if he wanted to find
a foul motive for everything."

Gemma sighed. "I am afraid I agreed better
with him than with you on that point," she said.
"All you good people are so full of the most
delightful hopes and expectations; you are always
ready to think that if one well-meaning middle-aged
gentleman happens to get elected Pope,
everything else will come right of itself. He has
only got to throw open the prison doors and give
his blessing to everybody all round, and we may
expect the millennium within three months. You
never seem able to see that he can't set things
right even if he would. It's the principle of the
thing that's wrong, not the behaviour of this man
or that."

"What principle? The temporal power of the
Pope?"

"Why that in particular? That's merely a part
of the general wrong. The bad principle is that
any man should hold over another the power to
bind and loose. It's a false relationship to stand
in towards one's fellows."

Martini held up his hands. "That will do, Madonna,"
he said, laughing. "I am not going to
discuss with you, once you begin talking rank
Antinomianism in that fashion. I'm sure your
ancestors must have been English Levellers in the
seventeenth century. Besides, what I came round
about is this MS."

He pulled it out of his pocket.

"Another new pamphlet?"

"A stupid thing this wretched man Rivarez
sent in to yesterday's committee. I knew we
should come to loggerheads with him before
long."

"What is the matter with it? Honestly,
Cesare, I think you are a little prejudiced. Rivarez
may be unpleasant, but he's not stupid."

"Oh, I don't deny that this is clever enough in
its way; but you had better read the thing
yourself."

The pamphlet was a skit on the wild enthusiasm
over the new Pope with which Italy was still
ringing. Like all the Gadfly's writing, it was
bitter and vindictive; but, notwithstanding her
irritation at the style, Gemma could not help
recognizing in her heart the justice of the criticism.

"I quite agree with you that it is detestably
malicious," she said, laying down the manuscript.
"But the worst thing about it is that it's all true."

"Gemma!"

"Yes, but it is. The man's a cold-blooded eel,
if you like; but he's got the truth on his side.
There is no use in our trying to persuade ourselves
that this doesn't hit the mark--it does!"

"Then do you suggest that we should print it?"

"Ah! that's quite another matter. I certainly
don't think we ought to print it as it stands; it
would hurt and alienate everybody and do no
good. But if he would rewrite it and cut out the
personal attacks, I think it might be made into a
really valuable piece of work. As political criticism
it is very fine. I had no idea he could write
so well. He says things which need saying and
which none of us have had the courage to say.
This passage, where he compares Italy to a tipsy
man weeping with tenderness on the neck of the
thief who is picking his pocket, is splendidly
written."

"Gemma! The very worst bit in the whole
thing! I hate that ill-natured yelping at everything
and everybody!"

"So do I; but that's not the point. Rivarez
has a very disagreeable style, and as a human being
he is not attractive; but when he says that we have
made ourselves drunk with processions and embracing
and shouting about love and reconciliation, and that
the Jesuits and Sanfedists are the people who will
profit by it all, he's right a thousand times. I
wish I could have been at the committee yesterday.
What decision did you finally arrive at?"

"What I have come here about: to ask you to
go and talk it over with him and persuade him to
soften the thing."

"Me? But I hardly know the man; and besides
that, he detests me. Why should I go, of all
people?"

"Simply because there's no one else to do it
to-day. Besides, you are more reasonable than
the rest of us, and won't get into useless arguments
and quarrel with him, as we should."

"I shan't do that, certainly. Well, I will go if
you like, though I have not much hope of success."

"I am sure you will be able to manage him if
you try. Yes, and tell him that the committee
all admired the thing from a literary point of view.
That will put him into a good humour, and it's perfectly
true, too."

      .      .      .      .      .

The Gadfly was sitting beside a table covered
with flowers and ferns, staring absently at the
floor, with an open letter on his knee. A shaggy
collie dog, lying on a rug at his feet, raised its
head and growled as Gemma knocked at the open
door, and the Gadfly rose hastily and bowed in a
stiff, ceremonious way. His face had suddenly
grown hard and expressionless.

"You are too kind," he said in his most chilling
manner. "If you had let me know that you
wanted to speak to me I would have called on
you."

Seeing that he evidently wished her at the end
of the earth, Gemma hastened to state her business.
He bowed again and placed a chair for her.

"The committee wished me to call upon you,"
she began, "because there has been a certain difference
of opinion about your pamphlet."

"So I expected." He smiled and sat down opposite
to her, drawing a large vase of chrysanthemums
between his face and the light.

"Most of the members agreed that, however
much they may admire the pamphlet as a literary
composition, they do not think that in its present
form it is quite suitable for publication. They fear
that the vehemence of its tone may give offence,
and alienate persons whose help and support are
valuable to the party."

He pulled a chrysanthemum from the vase and
began slowly plucking off one white petal after
another. As her eyes happened to catch the
movement of the slim right hand dropping the
petals, one by one, an uncomfortable sensation
came over Gemma, as though she had somewhere
seen that gesture before.

"As a literary composition," he remarked in
his soft, cold voice, "it is utterly worthless, and
could be admired only by persons who know nothing
about literature. As for its giving offence,
that is the very thing I intended it to do."

"That I quite understand. The question is
whether you may not succeed in giving offence to
the wrong people."

He shrugged his shoulders and put a torn-off
petal between his teeth. "I think you are mistaken,"
he said. "The question is: For what purpose did
your committee invite me to come here? I understood,
to expose and ridicule the Jesuits. I fulfil my
obligation to the best of my ability."

"And I can assure you that no one has any
doubt as to either the ability or the good-will.
What the committee fears is that the liberal party
may take offence, and also that the town workmen
may withdraw their moral support. You may have
meant the pamphlet for an attack upon the Sanfedists:
but many readers will construe it as an
attack upon the Church and the new Pope; and
this, as a matter of political tactics, the
committee does not consider desirable."

"I begin to understand. So long as I keep to
the particular set of clerical gentlemen with whom
the party is just now on bad terms, I may speak
sooth if the fancy takes me; but directly I touch
upon the committee's own pet priests--'truth's a
dog must to kennel; he must be whipped out,
when the--Holy Father may stand by the fire
and-----' Yes, the fool was right; I'd rather be
any kind of a thing than a fool. Of course I
must bow to the committee's decision, but I
continue to think that it has pared its wit o' both
sides and left--M-mon-signor M-m-montan-n-nelli
in the middle."

"Montanelli?" Gemma repeated. "I don't understand
you. Do you mean the Bishop of Brisighella?"

"Yes; the new Pope has just created him a
Cardinal, you know. I have a letter about him
here. Would you care to hear it? The writer is
a friend of mine on the other side of the frontier."

"The Papal frontier?"

"Yes. This is what he writes----" He took
up the letter which had been in his hand when she
entered, and read aloud, suddenly beginning to
stammer violently:

"'Y-o-you will s-s-s-soon have the p-pleasure
of m-m-meeting one of our w-w-worst enemies,
C-cardinal Lorenzo M-montan-n-nelli, the
B-b-bishop of Brisig-g-hella. He int-t----'"

He broke off, paused a moment, and began
again, very slowly and drawling insufferably, but
no longer stammering:

"'He intends to visit Tuscany during the coming
month on a mission of reconciliation. He will
preach first in Florence, where he will stay for
about three weeks; then will go on to Siena and
Pisa, and return to the Romagna by Pistoja. He
ostensibly belongs to the liberal party in the
Church, and is a personal friend of the Pope and
Cardinal Feretti. Under Gregory he was out of
favour, and was kept out of sight in a little hole
in the Apennines. Now he has come suddenly to
the front. Really, of course, he is as much pulled
by Jesuit wires as any Sanfedist in the country.
This mission was suggested by some of the Jesuit
fathers. He is one of the most brilliant preachers
in the Church, and as mischievous in his way as
Lambruschini himself. His business is to keep
the popular enthusiasm over the Pope from subsiding,
and to occupy the public attention until
the Grand Duke has signed a project which the
agents of the Jesuits are preparing to lay before
him. What this project is I have been unable to
discover.' Then, further on, it says: 'Whether
Montanelli understands for what purpose he is
being sent to Tuscany, or whether the Jesuits are
playing on him, I cannot make out. He is either
an uncommonly clever knave, or the biggest ass
that was ever foaled. The odd thing is that, so
far as I can discover, he neither takes bribes nor
keeps mistresses--the first time I ever came
across such a thing.'"

He laid down the letter and sat looking at her
with half-shut eyes, waiting, apparently, for her to
speak.

"Are you satisfied that your informant is correct
in his facts?" she asked after a moment.

"As to the irreproachable character of Monsignor
M-mon-t-tan-nelli's private life? No; but
neither is he. As you will observe, he puts in the
s-s-saving clause: 'So far as I c-can discover----

"I was not speaking of that," she interposed
coldly, "but of the part about this mission."

"I can fully trust the writer. He is an old
friend of mine--one of my comrades of '43, and he
is in a position which gives him exceptional
opportunities for finding out things of that kind."

"Some official at the Vatican," thought Gemma
quickly. "So that's the kind of connections you
have? I guessed there was something of that sort."

"This letter is, of course, a private one," the
Gadfly went on; "and you understand that the
information is to be kept strictly to the members
of your committee."

"That hardly needs saying. Then about the
pamphlet: may I tell the committee that you consent
to make a few alterations and soften it a little,
or that----"

"Don't you think the alterations may succeed
in spoiling the beauty of the 'literary composition,'
signora, as well as in reducing the vehemence
of the tone?"

"You are asking my personal opinion. What
I have come here to express is that of the committee
as a whole."

"Does that imply that y-y-you disagree with the
committee as a whole?" He had put the letter
into his pocket and was now leaning forward and
looking at her with an eager, concentrated expression
which quite changed the character of his
face. "You think----"

"If you care to know what I personally think
--I disagree with the majority on both points. I
do not at all admire the pamphlet from a literary
point of view, and I do think it true as a presentation
of facts and wise as a matter of tactics."

"That is------"

"I quite agree with you that Italy is being led
away by a will-o'-the-wisp and that all this enthusiasm
and rejoicing will probably land her in a
terrible bog; and I should be most heartily glad
to have that openly and boldly said, even at the
cost of offending or alienating some of our present
supporters. But as a member of a body the large
majority of which holds the opposite view, I cannot
insist upon my personal opinion; and I certainly
think that if things of that kind are to be
said at all, they should be said temperately and
quietly; not in the tone adopted in this pamphlet."

"Will you wait a minute while I look through
the manuscript?"

He took it up and glanced down the pages. A
dissatisfied frown settled on his face.

"Yes, of course, you are perfectly right. The
thing's written like a cafe chantant skit, not a
political satire. But what's a man to do? If I
write decently the public won't understand it;
they will say it's dull if it isn't spiteful enough."

"Don't you think spitefulness manages to be
dull when we get too much of it?"

He threw a keen, rapid glance at her, and burst
out laughing.

"Apparently the signora belongs to the dreadful
category of people who are always right!
Then if I yield to the temptation to be spiteful, I
may come in time to be as dull as Signora Grassini?
Heavens, what a fate! No, you needn't
frown. I know you don't like me, and I am going
to keep to business. What it comes to, then,
is practically this: if I cut out the personalities and
leave the essential part of the thing as it is, the
committee will very much regret that they can't
take the responsibility of printing it. If I cut out
the political truth and make all the hard names
apply to no one but the party's enemies, the committee
will praise the thing up to the skies, and
you and I will know it's not worth printing.
Rather a nice point of metaphysics: Which is the
more desirable condition, to be printed and not be
worth it, or to be worth it and not be printed?
Well, signora?"

"I do not think you are tied to any such alternative.
I believe that if you were to cut out the
personalities the committee would consent to
print the pamphlet, though the majority would,
of course, not agree with it; and I am convinced
that it would be very useful. But you would have
to lay aside the spitefulness. If you are going to
say a thing the substance of which is a big pill for
your readers to swallow, there is no use in frightening
them at the beginning by the form."

He sighed and shrugged his shoulders resignedly.
"I submit, signora; but on one condition.
If you rob me of my laugh now, I must have it
out next time. When His Eminence, the irreproachable
Cardinal, turns up in Florence, neither
you nor your committee must object to my being
as spiteful as I like. It's my due!"

He spoke in his lightest, coldest manner, pulling
the chrysanthemums out of their vase and
holding them up to watch the light through the
translucent petals. "What an unsteady hand he
has," she thought, seeing how the flowers shook
and quivered. "Surely he doesn't drink!"

"You had better discuss the matter with the
other members of the committee," she said, rising.
"I cannot form any opinion as to what they will
think about it."

"And you?" He had risen too, and was leaning
against the table, pressing the flowers to his face

She hesitated. The question distressed her,
bringing up old and miserable associations. "I
--hardly know," she said at last. "Many years
ago I used to know something about Monsignor
Montanelli. He was only a canon at that time,
and Director of the theological seminary in the
province where I lived as a girl. I heard a great
deal about him from--someone who knew him
very intimately; and I never heard anything of him
that was not good. I believe that, in those days
at least, he was really a most remarkable man.
But that was long ago, and he may have changed.
Irresponsible power corrupts so many people."

The Gadfly raised his head from the flowers, and
looked at her with a steady face.

"At any rate," he said, "if Monsignor Montanelli
is not himself a scoundrel, he is a tool in
scoundrelly hands. It is all one to me which he
is--and to my friends across the frontier. A stone
in the path may have the best intentions, but it
must be kicked out of the path, for all that.
Allow me, signora!" He rang the bell, and, limping
to the door, opened it for her to pass out.

"It was very kind of you to call, signora. May
I send for a vettura? No? Good-afternoon, then!
Bianca, open the hall-door, please."

Gemma went out into the street, pondering
anxiously. "My friends across the frontier"--
who were they? And how was the stone to be
kicked out of the path? If with satire only, why
had he said it with such dangerous eyes?



CHAPTER IV.

MONSIGNOR MONTANELLI arrived in Florence
in the first week of October. His visit caused a
little flutter of excitement throughout the town.
He was a famous preacher and a representative of
the reformed Papacy; and people looked eagerly
to him for an exposition of the "new doctrine,"
the gospel of love and reconciliation which was to
cure the sorrows of Italy. The nomination of
Cardinal Gizzi to the Roman State Secretaryship
in place of the universally detested Lambruschini
had raised the public enthusiasm to its highest
pitch; and Montanelli was just the man who could
most easily sustain it. The irreproachable strictness
of his life was a phenomenon sufficiently rare
among the high dignitaries of the Roman Church
to attract the attention of people accustomed to
regard blackmailing, peculation, and disreputable
intrigues as almost invariable adjuncts to the
career of a prelate. Moreover, his talent as a
preacher was really great; and with his beautiful
voice and magnetic personality, he would in any
time and place have made his mark.

Grassini, as usual, strained every nerve to get
the newly arrived celebrity to his house; but
Montanelli was no easy game to catch. To all
invitations he replied with the same courteous but
positive refusal, saying that his health was bad and
his time fully occupied, and that he had neither
strength nor leisure for going into society.

"What omnivorous creatures those Grassinis
are!" Martini said contemptuously to Gemma as
they crossed the Signoria square one bright, cold
Sunday morning. "Did you notice the way
Grassini bowed when the Cardinal's carriage drove
up? It's all one to them who a man is, so long as
he's talked about. I never saw such lion-hunters
in my life. Only last August it was the Gadfly;
now it's Montanelli. I hope His Eminence feels
flattered at the attention; a precious lot of adventurers
have shared it with him."

They had been hearing Montanelli preach in
the Cathedral; and the great building had been so
thronged with eager listeners that Martini, fearing
a return of Gemma's troublesome headaches,
had persuaded her to come away before the Mass
was over. The sunny morning, the first after a
week of rain, offered him an excuse for suggesting
a walk among the garden slopes by San Niccolo.

"No," she answered; "I should like a walk if
you have time; but not to the hills. Let us keep
along the Lung'Arno; Montanelli will pass on his
way back from church and I am like Grassini--
I want to see the notability."

"But you have just seen him."

"Not close. There was such a crush in the
Cathedral, and his back was turned to us when the
carriage passed. If we keep near to the bridge
we shall be sure to see him well--he is staying
on the Lung'Arno, you know."

"But what has given you such a sudden fancy
to see Montanelli? You never used to care about
famous preachers."

"It is not famous preachers; it is the man himself;
I want to see how much he has changed since I saw him last."

"When was that?"

"Two days after Arthur's death."

Martini glanced at her anxiously. They had
come out on to the Lung'Arno, and she was staring
absently across the water, with a look on her
face that he hated to see.

"Gemma, dear," he said after a moment; "are
you going to let that miserable business haunt
you all your life? We have all made mistakes
when we were seventeen."

"We have not all killed our dearest friend when
we were seventeen," she answered wearily; and,
leaning her arm on the stone balustrade of the
bridge, looked down into the river. Martini held
his tongue; he was almost afraid to speak to her
when this mood was on her.

"I never look down at water without remembering,"
she said, slowly raising her eyes to his;
then with a nervous little shiver: "Let us walk
on a bit, Cesare; it is chilly for standing."

They crossed the bridge in silence and walked
on along the river-side. After a few minutes she
spoke again.

"What a beautiful voice that man has! There
is something about it that I have never heard in
any other human voice. I believe it is the secret
of half his influence."

"It is a wonderful voice," Martini assented,
catching at a subject of conversation which might
lead her away from the dreadful memory called up
by the river, "and he is, apart from his voice,
about the finest preacher I have ever heard. But
I believe the secret of his influence lies deeper than
that. It is the way his life stands out from that
of almost all the other prelates. I don't know
whether you could lay your hand on one other
high dignitary in all the Italian Church--except
the Pope himself--whose reputation is so utterly
spotless. I remember, when I was in the Romagna
last year, passing through his diocese and
seeing those fierce mountaineers waiting in the
rain to get a glimpse of him or touch his dress.
He is venerated there almost as a saint; and that
means a good deal among the Romagnols, who
generally hate everything that wears a cassock. I
remarked to one of the old peasants,--as typical
a smuggler as ever I saw in my life,--that the
people seemed very much devoted to their bishop,
and he said: 'We don't love bishops, they are
liars; we love Monsignor Montanelli. Nobody has
ever known him to tell a lie or do an unjust thing.'"

"I wonder," Gemma said, half to herself, "if he
knows the people think that about him."

"Why shouldn't he know it? Do you think it
is not true?"

"I know it is not true."

"How do you know it?"

"Because he told me so."

"HE told you? Montanelli? Gemma, what do you mean?"

She pushed the hair back from her forehead and
turned towards him. They were standing still
again, he leaning on the balustrade and she slowly
drawing lines on the pavement with the point of
her umbrella.

"Cesare, you and I have been friends for all
these years, and I have never told you what really
happened about Arthur."

"There is no need to tell me, dear," he broke
in hastily; "I know all about it already."

"Giovanni told you?"

"Yes, when he was dying. He told me about
it one night when I was sitting up with him. He
said---- Gemma, dear, I had better tell you the
truth, now we have begun talking about it--he
said that you were always brooding over that
wretched story, and he begged me to be as good
a friend to you as I could and try to keep you
from thinking of it. And I have tried to, dear,
though I may not have succeeded--I have,
indeed."

"I know you have," she answered softly, raising
her eyes for a moment; "I should have been
badly off without your friendship. But--Giovanni
did not tell you about Monsignor Montanelli, then?"

"No, I didn't know that he had anything to
do with it. What he told me was about--all that
affair with the spy, and about----"

"About my striking Arthur and his drowning
himself. Well, I will tell you about Montanelli."

They turned back towards the bridge over which
the Cardinal's carriage would have to pass.
Gemma looked out steadily across the water as
she spoke.

"In those days Montanelli was a canon; he was
Director of the Theological Seminary at Pisa, and
used to give Arthur lessons in philosophy and read
with him after he went up to the Sapienza. They
were perfectly devoted to each other; more like
two lovers than teacher and pupil. Arthur almost
worshipped the ground that Montanelli walked on,
and I remember his once telling me that if he lost
his 'Padre'--he always used to call Montanelli so
--he should go and drown himself. Well, then
you know what happened about the spy. The
next day, my father and the Burtons--Arthur's
step-brothers, most detestable people--spent the
whole day dragging the Darsena basin for the
body; and I sat in my room alone and thought of
what I had done----"

She paused a moment, and went on again:

"Late in the evening my father came into my
room and said: 'Gemma, child, come downstairs;
there's a man I want you to see.' And when we
went down there was one of the students belonging
to the group sitting in the consulting room,
all white and shaking; and he told us about Giovanni's
second letter coming from the prison to
say that they had heard from the jailer about
Cardi, and that Arthur had been tricked in the
confessional. I remember the student saying to
me: 'It is at least some consolation that we know
he was innocent' My father held my hands and
tried to comfort me; he did not know then about
the blow. Then I went back to my room and
sat there all night alone. In the morning my
father went out again with the Burtons to see the
harbour dragged. They had some hope of finding
the body there."

"It was never found, was it?"

"No; it must have got washed out to sea; but
they thought there was a chance. I was alone in
my room and the servant came up to say that a
'reverendissimo padre' had called and she had
told him my father was at the docks and he had
gone away. I knew it must be Montanelli; so I
ran out at the back door and caught him up at
the garden gate. When I said: 'Canon Montanelli,
I want to speak to you,' he just stopped and
waited silently for me to speak. Oh, Cesare, if
you had seen his face--it haunted me for months
afterwards! I said: 'I am Dr. Warren's daughter,
and I have come to tell you that it is I who have
killed Arthur.' I told him everything, and he
stood and listened, like a figure cut in stone, till
I had finished; then he said: 'Set your heart at
rest, my child; it is I that am a murderer, not you.
I deceived him and he found it out.' And with
that he turned and went out at the gate without
another word."

"And then?"

"I don't know what happened to him after that;
I heard the same evening that he had fallen down
in the street in a kind of fit and had been carried
into a house near the docks; but that is all
I know. My father did everything he could for
me; when I told him about it he threw up
his practice and took me away to England at
once, so that I should never hear anything that
could remind me. He was afraid I should end in
the water, too; and indeed I believe I was near it
at one time. But then, you know, when we found
out that my father had cancer I was obliged to
come to myself--there was no one else to nurse
him. And after he died I was left with the little
ones on my hands until my elder brother was able
to give them a home. Then there was Giovanni.
Do you know, when he came to England we were
almost afraid to meet each other with that frightful
memory between us. He was so bitterly
remorseful for his share in it all--that unhappy
letter he wrote from prison. But I believe,
really, it was our common trouble that drew us
together."

Martini smiled and shook his head.

"It may have been so on your side," he said;
"but Giovanni had made up his mind from the
first time he ever saw you. I remember his coming
back to Milan after that first visit to Leghorn
and raving about you to me till I was perfectly
sick of hearing of the English Gemma. I thought
I should hate you. Ah! there it comes!"

The carriage crossed the bridge and drove up to
a large house on the Lung'Arno. Montanelli was
leaning back on the cushions as if too tired to
care any longer for the enthusiastic crowd which
had collected round the door to catch a glimpse of
him. The inspired look that his face had worn
in the Cathedral had faded quite away and the
sunlight showed the lines of care and fatigue.
When he had alighted and passed, with the heavy,
spiritless tread of weary and heart-sick old age,
into the house, Gemma turned away and walked
slowly to the bridge. Her face seemed for a moment
to reflect the withered, hopeless look of his.
Martini walked beside her in silence.

"I have so often wondered," she began again
after a little pause; "what he meant about the
deception. It has sometimes occurred to me----"

"Yes?"

"Well, it is very strange; there was the
most extraordinary personal resemblance between
them."

"Between whom?"

"Arthur and Montanelli. It was not only I
who noticed it. And there was something mysterious
in the relationship between the members
of that household. Mrs. Burton, Arthur's mother,
was one of the sweetest women I ever knew. Her
face had the same spiritual look as Arthur's, and
I believe they were alike in character, too. But
she always seemed half frightened, like a detected
criminal; and her step-son's wife used to treat
her as no decent person treats a dog. And then
Arthur himself was such a startling contrast to
all those vulgar Burtons. Of course, when one
is a child one takes everything for granted; but
looking back on it afterwards I have often wondered
whether Arthur was really a Burton."

"Possibly he found out something about his
mother--that may easily have been the cause of
his death, not the Cardi affair at all," Martini
interposed, offering the only consolation he could
think of at the moment. Gemma shook her
head.

"If you could have seen his face after I struck
him, Cesare, you would not think that. It may
be all true about Montanelli--very likely it is--
but what I have done I have done."

They walked on a little way without speaking,

"My dear," Martini said at last; "if there were
any way on earth to undo a thing that is once
done, it would be worth while to brood over our
old mistakes; but as it is, let the dead bury their
dead. It is a terrible story, but at least the
poor lad is out of it now, and luckier than some
of those that are left--the ones that are in exile
and in prison. You and I have them to think of,
we have no right to eat out our hearts for the
dead. Remember what your own Shelley says:
'The past is Death's, the future is thine own.'
Take it, while it is still yours, and fix your mind,
not on what you may have done long ago to hurt,
but on what you can do now to help."

In his earnestness he had taken her hand. He
dropped it suddenly and drew back at the sound
of a soft, cold, drawling voice behind him.

"Monsignor Montan-n-nelli," murmured this
languid voice, "is undoubtedly all you say, my
dear doctor. In fact, he appears to be so much
too good for this world that he ought to be politely
escorted into the next. I am sure he would
cause as great a sensation there as he has done
here; there are p-p-probably many old-established
ghosts who have never seen such a thing as an
honest cardinal. And there is nothing that ghosts
love as they do novelties----"

"How do you know that?" asked Dr. Riccardo's
voice in a tone of ill-suppressed irritation.

"From Holy Writ, my dear sir. If the Gospel
is to be trusted, even the most respectable of all
Ghosts had a f-f-fancy for capricious alliances.
Now, honesty and c-c-cardinals--that seems to
me a somewhat capricious alliance, and rather an
uncomfortable one, like shrimps and liquorice.
Ah, Signor Martini, and Signora Bolla! Lovely
weather after the rain, is it not? Have you been
to hear the n-new Savonarola, too?"

Martini turned round sharply. The Gadfly,
with a cigar in his mouth and a hot-house flower
in his buttonhole, was holding out to him a slender,
carefully-gloved hand. With the sunlight reflected
in his immaculate boots and glancing back
from the water on to his smiling face, he looked
to Martini less lame and more conceited than
usual. They were shaking hands, affably on the
one side and rather sulkily on the other, when
Riccardo hastily exclaimed:

"I am afraid Signora Bolla is not well!"

She was so pale that her face looked almost livid
under the shadow of her bonnet, and the ribbon
at her throat fluttered perceptibly from the violent
beating of the heart.

"I will go home," she said faintly.

A cab was called and Martini got in with her
to see her safely home. As the Gadfly bent down
to arrange her cloak, which was hanging over the
wheel, he raised his eyes suddenly to her face, and
Martini saw that she shrank away with a look of
something like terror.

"Gemma, what is the matter with you?" he
asked, in English, when they had started. "What
did that scoundrel say to you?"

"Nothing, Cesare; it was no fault of his. I--
I--had a fright----"

"A fright?"

"Yes; I fancied----" She put one hand over
her eyes, and he waited silently till she should
recover her self-command. Her face was already
regaining its natural colour.

"You are quite right," she said at last, turning
to him and speaking in her usual voice; "it is
worse than useless to look back at a horrible past.
It plays tricks with one's nerves and makes one
imagine all sorts of impossible things. We will
NEVER talk about that subject again, Cesare, or I
shall see fantastic likenesses to Arthur in every
face I meet. It is a kind of hallucination, like
a nightmare in broad daylight. Just now, when
that odious little fop came up, I fancied it was
Arthur."



CHAPTER V.

THE Gadfly certainly knew how to make personal
enemies. He had arrived in Florence in
August, and by the end of October three-fourths
of the committee which had invited him shared
Martini's opinion. His savage attacks upon Montanelli
had annoyed even his admirers; and Galli
himself, who at first had been inclined to uphold
everything the witty satirist said or did, began to
acknowledge with an aggrieved air that Montanelli
had better have been left in peace. "Decent
cardinals are none so plenty. One might treat
them politely when they do turn up."

The only person who, apparently, remained
quite indifferent to the storm of caricatures and
pasquinades was Montanelli himself. It seemed,
as Martini said, hardly worth while to expend
one's energy in ridiculing a man who took it so
good-humouredly. It was said in the town that
Montanelli, one day when the Archbishop of Florence
was dining with him, had found in the room
one of the Gadfly's bitter personal lampoons
against himself, had read it through and handed
the paper to the Archbishop, remarking: "That
is rather cleverly put, is it not?"

One day there appeared in the town a leaflet,
headed: "The Mystery of the Annunciation."
Even had the author omitted his now familiar
signature, a sketch of a gadfly with spread wings,
the bitter, trenchant style would have left in the
minds of most readers no doubt as to his identity.
The skit was in the form of a dialogue between
Tuscany as the Virgin Mary, and Montanelli as the
angel who, bearing the lilies of purity and crowned
with the olive branch of peace, was announcing
the advent of the Jesuits. The whole thing was
full of offensive personal allusions and hints of the
most risky nature, and all Florence felt the satire
to be both ungenerous and unfair. And yet all
Florence laughed. There was something so irresistible
in the Gadfly's grave absurdities that those
who most disapproved of and disliked him laughed
as immoderately at all his squibs as did his warmest
partisans. Repulsive in tone as the leaflet was,
it left its trace upon the popular feeling of the
town. Montanelli's personal reputation stood too
high for any lampoon, however witty, seriously to
injure it, but for a moment the tide almost turned
against him. The Gadfly had known where to
sting; and, though eager crowds still collected
before the Cardinal's house to see him enter or
leave his carriage, ominous cries of "Jesuit!" and
"Sanfedist spy!" often mingled with the cheers
and benedictions.

But Montanelli had no lack of supporters. Two
days after the publication of the skit, the Churchman,
a leading clerical paper, brought out a
brilliant article, called: "An Answer to 'The
Mystery of the Annunciation,'" and signed: "A
Son of the Church." It was an impassioned defence
of Montanelli against the Gadfly's slanderous
imputations. The anonymous writer, after
expounding, with great eloquence and fervour, the
doctrine of peace on earth and good will towards
men, of which the new Pontiff was the evangelist,
concluded by challenging the Gadfly to prove a
single one of his assertions, and solemnly appealing
to the public not to believe a contemptible
slanderer. Both the cogency of the article as a
bit of special pleading and its merit as a literary
composition were sufficiently far above the average
to attract much attention in the town, especially
as not even the editor of the newspaper could
guess the author's identity. The article was soon
reprinted separately in pamphlet form; and the
"anonymous defender" was discussed in every
coffee-shop in Florence.

The Gadfly responded with a violent attack on
the new Pontificate and all its supporters, especially
on Montanelli, who, he cautiously hinted, had
probably consented to the panegyric on himself.
To this the anonymous defender again replied in
the Churchman with an indignant denial. During
the rest of Montanelli's stay the controversy raging
between the two writers occupied more of the
public attention than did even the famous preacher
himself.

Some members of the liberal party ventured to
remonstrate with the Gadfly about the unnecessary
malice of his tone towards Montanelli; but
they did not get much satisfaction out of him.
He only smiled affably and answered with a languid
little stammer: "R-really, gentlemen, you are
rather unfair. I expressly stipulated, when I gave
in to Signora Bolla, that I should be allowed a
l-l-little chuckle all to myself now. It is so nominated
in the bond!"

At the end of October Montanelli returned to
his see in the Romagna, and, before leaving Florence,
preached a farewell sermon in which he spoke
of the controversy, gently deprecating the vehemence
of both writers and begging his unknown
defender to set an example of tolerance by closing
a useless and unseemly war of words. On the
following day the Churchman contained a notice
that, at Monsignor Montanelli's publicly expressed
desire, "A Son of the Church" would withdraw
from the controversy.

The last word remained with the Gadfly. He
issued a little leaflet, in which he declared himself
disarmed and converted by Montanelli's Christian
meekness and ready to weep tears of reconciliation
upon the neck of the first Sanfedist he met. "I
am even willing," he concluded; "to embrace my
anonymous challenger himself; and if my readers
knew, as his Eminence and I know, what that
implies and why he remains anonymous, they
would believe in the sincerity of my conversion."

In the latter part of November he announced to
the literary committee that he was going for a
fortnight's holiday to the seaside. He went, apparently,
to Leghorn; but Dr. Riccardo, going
there soon after and wishing to speak to him,
searched the town for him in vain. On the 5th of
December a political demonstration of the most
extreme character burst out in the States of the
Church, along the whole chain of the Apennines;
and people began to guess the reason of the Gadfly's
sudden fancy to take his holidays in the depth
of winter. He came back to Florence when the
riots had been quelled, and, meeting Riccardo in
the street, remarked affably:

"I hear you were inquiring for me in Leghorn;
I was staying in Pisa. What a pretty old town
it is! There's something quite Arcadian about it."

In Christmas week he attended an afternoon
meeting of the literary committee which was held
in Dr. Riccardo's lodgings near the Porta alla
Croce. The meeting was a full one, and when he
came in, a little late, with an apologetic bow and
smile, there seemed to be no seat empty. Riccardo
rose to fetch a chair from the next room,
but the Gadfly stopped him. "Don't trouble
about it," he said; "I shall be quite comfortable
here"; and crossing the room to a window beside
which Gemma had placed her chair, he sat down
on the sill, leaning his head indolently back
against the shutter.

As he looked down at Gemma, smiling with
half-shut eyes, in the subtle, sphinx-like way that
gave him the look of a Leonardo da Vinci portrait,
the instinctive distrust with which he inspired her
deepened into a sense of unreasoning fear.

The proposal under discussion was that a pamphlet
be issued setting forth the committee's views
on the dearth with which Tuscany was threatened
and the measures which should be taken to meet
it. The matter was a somewhat difficult one to
decide, because, as usual, the committee's views
upon the subject were much divided. The more
advanced section, to which Gemma, Martini, and
Riccardo belonged, was in favour of an energetic
appeal to both government and public to take adequate
measures at once for the relief of the peasantry.
The moderate division--including, of
course, Grassini--feared that an over-emphatic
tone might irritate rather than convince the
ministry.

"It is all very well, gentlemen, to want the
people helped at once," he said, looking round
upon the red-hot radicals with his calm and pitying
air. "We most of us want a good many things
that we are not likely to get; but if we start with
the tone you propose to adopt, the government
is very likely not to begin any relief measures
at all till there is actual famine. If we could
only induce the ministry to make an inquiry
into the state of the crops it would be a step in
advance."

Galli, in his corner by the stove, jumped up to
answer his enemy.

"A step in advance--yes, my dear sir; but if
there's going to be a famine, it won't wait for us
to advance at that pace. The people might all
starve before we got to any actual relief."

"It would be interesting to know----" Sacconi
began; but several voices interrupted him.

"Speak up; we can't hear!"

"I should think not, with such an infernal row
in the street," said Galli, irritably. "Is that window
shut, Riccardo? One can't hear one's self speak!"

Gemma looked round. "Yes," she said, "the
window is quite shut. I think there is a variety
show, or some such thing, passing."

The sounds of shouting and laughter, of the
tinkling of bells and trampling of feet, resounded
from the street below, mixed with the braying of
a villainous brass band and the unmerciful banging
of a drum.

"It can't be helped these few days," said Riccardo;
"we must expect noise at Christmas time. What were you
saying, Sacconi?"

"I said it would be interesting to hear what is
thought about the matter in Pisa and Leghorn.
Perhaps Signor Rivarez can tell us something; he
has just come from there."

The Gadfly did not answer. He was staring out
of the window and appeared not to have heard
what had been said.

"Signor Rivarez!" said Gemma. She was the
only person sitting near to him, and as he remained
silent she bent forward and touched him on the
arm. He slowly turned his face to her, and she
started as she saw its fixed and awful immobility.
For a moment it was like the face of a corpse; then
the lips moved in a strange, lifeless way.

"Yes," he whispered; "a variety show."

Her first instinct was to shield him from the
curiosity of the others. Without understanding
what was the matter with him, she realized that
some frightful fancy or hallucination had seized
upon him, and that, for the moment, he was at
its mercy, body and soul. She rose quickly and,
standing between him and the company, threw
the window open as if to look out. No one but
herself had seen his face.

In the street a travelling circus was passing,
with mountebanks on donkeys and harlequins in
parti-coloured dresses. The crowd of holiday
masqueraders, laughing and shoving, was exchanging
jests and showers of paper ribbon with the
clowns and flinging little bags of sugar-plums to
the columbine, who sat in her car, tricked out in
tinsel and feathers, with artificial curls on her
forehead and an artificial smile on her painted lips.
Behind the car came a motley string of figures--
street Arabs, beggars, clowns turning somersaults,
and costermongers hawking their wares. They
were jostling, pelting, and applauding a figure
which at first Gemma could not see for the pushing
and swaying of the crowd. The next moment,
however, she saw plainly what it was--a
hunchback, dwarfish and ugly, grotesquely attired
in a fool's dress, with paper cap and bells. He
evidently belonged to the strolling company, and
was amusing the crowd with hideous grimaces and
contortions.

"What is going on out there?" asked Riccardo,
approaching the window. "You seem very much
interested."

He was a little surprised at their keeping the
whole committee waiting to look at a strolling
company of mountebanks. Gemma turned round.

"It is nothing interesting," she said; "only a
variety show; but they made such a noise that I
thought it must be something else."

She was standing with one hand upon the
window-sill, and suddenly felt the Gadfly's cold
fingers press the hand with a passionate clasp.
"Thank you!" he whispered softly; and then,
closing the window, sat down again upon the sill.

"I'm afraid," he said in his airy manner, "that
I have interrupted you, gentlemen. I was l-looking
at the variety show; it is s-such a p-pretty sight."

"Sacconi was asking you a question," said Martini
gruffly. The Gadfly's behaviour seemed to
him an absurd piece of affectation, and he was
annoyed that Gemma should have been tactless
enough to follow his example. It was not like her.

The Gadfly disclaimed all knowledge of the state
of feeling in Pisa, explaining that he had been
there "only on a holiday." He then plunged at
once into an animated discussion, first of agricultural
prospects, then of the pamphlet question;
and continued pouring out a flood of stammering
talk till the others were quite tired. He seemed
to find some feverish delight in the sound of his
own voice.

When the meeting ended and the members of
the committee rose to go, Riccardo came up to
Martini.

"Will you stop to dinner with me? Fabrizi
and Sacconi have promised to stay."

"Thanks; but I was going to see Signora Bolla
home."

"Are you really afraid I can't get home by
myself?" she asked, rising and putting on her
wrap. "Of course he will stay with you, Dr. Riccardo;
it's good for him to get a change. He doesn't go out
half enough."

"If you will allow me, I will see you home," the
Gadfly interposed; "I am going in that direction."

"If you really are going that way----"

"I suppose you won't have time to drop in here
in the course of the evening, will you, Rivarez?"
asked Riccardo, as he opened the door for them.

The Gadfly looked back over his shoulder,
laughing. "I, my dear fellow? I'm going to see
the variety show!"

"What a strange creature that is; and what an
odd affection for mountebanks!" said Riccardo,
coming back to his visitors.

"Case of a fellow-feeling, I should think," said
Martini; "the man's a mountebank himself, if ever
I saw one."

"I wish I could think he was only that," Fabrizi
interposed, with a grave face. "If he is a mountebank
I am afraid he's a very dangerous one."

"Dangerous in what way?"

"Well, I don't like those mysterious little pleasure
trips that he is so fond of taking. This is the
third time, you know; and I don't believe he has
been in Pisa at all."

"I suppose it is almost an open secret that it's
into the mountains he goes," said Sacconi. "He
has hardly taken the trouble to deny that he is
still in relations with the smugglers he got to
know in the Savigno affair, and it's quite natural
he should take advantage of their friendship to
get his leaflets across the Papal frontier."

"For my part," said Riccardo; "what I wanted
to talk to you about is this very question. It
occurred to me that we could hardly do better than
ask Rivarez to undertake the management of our
own smuggling. That press at Pistoja is very
inefficiently managed, to my thinking; and the
way the leaflets are taken across, always rolled in
those everlasting cigars, is more than primitive."

"It has answered pretty well up till now," said
Martini contumaciously. He was getting wearied
of hearing Galli and Riccardo always put the Gadfly
forward as a model to copy, and inclined to
think that the world had gone well enough before
this "lackadaisical buccaneer" turned up to set
everyone to rights.

"It has answered so far well that we have been
satisfied with it for want of anything better;
but you know there have been plenty of arrests and
confiscations. Now I believe that if Rivarez undertook
the business for us, there would be less of that."

"Why do you think so?"

"In the first place, the smugglers look upon
us as strangers to do business with, or as sheep to
fleece, whereas Rivarez is their personal friend,
very likely their leader, whom they look up to and
trust. You may be sure every smuggler in the
Apennines will do for a man who was in the Savigno
revolt what he will not do for us. In the
next place, there's hardly a man among us that
knows the mountains as Rivarez does. Remember,
he has been a fugitive among them, and knows
the smugglers' paths by heart. No smuggler
would dare to cheat him, even if he wished to, and
no smuggler could cheat him if he dared to try."

"Then is your proposal that we should ask him
to take over the whole management of our literature
on the other side of the frontier--distribution,
addresses, hiding-places, everything--or simply
that we should ask him to put the things across
for us?"

"Well, as for addresses and hiding-places, he
probably knows already all the ones that we have
and a good many more that we have not. I don't
suppose we should be able to teach him much in
that line. As for distribution, it's as the others
prefer, of course. The important question, to my
mind, is the actual smuggling itself. Once the
books are safe in Bologna, it's a comparatively
simple matter to circulate them."

"For my part," said Martini, "I am against the
plan. In the first place, all this about his skilfulness
is mere conjecture; we have not actually seen
him engaged in frontier work and do not know
whether he keeps his head in critical moments."

"Oh, you needn't have any doubt of that!"
Riccardo put in. "The history of the Savigno
affair proves that he keeps his head."

"And then," Martini went on; "I do not feel
at all inclined, from what little I know of Rivarez,
to intrust him with all the party's secrets. He
seems to me feather-brained and theatrical. To
give the whole management of a party's contraband
work into a man's hands is a serious matter.
Fabrizi, what do you think?"

"If I had only such objections as yours, Martini,"
replied the professor, "I should certainly
waive them in the case of a man really possessing,
as Rivarez undoubtedly does, all the qualifications
Riccardo speaks of. For my part, I have not the
slightest doubt as to either his courage, his honesty,
or his presence of mind; and that he knows
both mountains and mountaineers we have had
ample proof. But there is another objection. I
do not feel sure that it is only for the smuggling
of pamphlets he goes into the mountains. I have
begun to doubt whether he has not another purpose.
This is, of course, entirely between ourselves.
It is a mere suspicion. It seems to me
just possible that he is in connexion with some
one of the 'sects,' and perhaps with the most dangerous
of them."

"Which one do you mean--the 'Red Girdles'?"

"No; the 'Occoltellatori.'"

"The 'Knifers'! But that is a little body of
outlaws--peasants, most of them, with neither
education nor political experience."

"So were the insurgents of Savigno; but they
had a few educated men as leaders, and this little
society may have the same. And remember, it's
pretty well known that most of the members of
those more violent sects in the Romagna are survivors
of the Savigno affair, who found themselves
too weak to fight the Churchmen in open insurrection,
and so have fallen back on assassination.
Their hands are not strong enough for guns, and
they take to knives instead."

"But what makes you suppose Rivarez to be
connected with them?"

"I don't suppose, I merely suspect. In any
case, I think we had better find out for certain
before we intrust our smuggling to him. If he
attempted to do both kinds of work at once he
would injure our party most terribly; he would
simply destroy its reputation and accomplish
nothing. However, we will talk of that another
time. I wanted to speak to you about the news
from Rome. It is said that a commission is to
be appointed to draw up a project for a municipal
constitution."



CHAPTER VI.

GEMMA and the Gadfly walked silently along
the Lung'Arno. His feverish talkativeness seemed
to have quite spent itself; he had hardly spoken
a word since they left Riccardo's door, and
Gemma was heartily glad of his silence. She
always felt embarrassed in his company, and to-day
more so than usual, for his strange behaviour
at the committee meeting had greatly perplexed
her.

By the Uffizi palace he suddenly stopped and
turned to her.

"Are you tired?"

"No; why?"

"Nor especially busy this evening?"

"No."

"I want to ask a favour of you; I want you to
come for a walk with me."

"Where to?"

"Nowhere in particular; anywhere you like."

"But what for?"

He hesitated.

"I--can't tell you--at least, it's very difficult;
but please come if you can."

He raised his eyes suddenly from the ground,
and she saw how strange their expression was.

"There is something the matter with you," she
said gently. He pulled a leaf from the flower in
his button-hole, and began tearing it to pieces.
Who was it that he was so oddly like? Someone
who had that same trick of the fingers and hurried,
nervous gesture.

"I am in trouble," he said, looking down at his
hands and speaking in a hardly audible voice. "I
--don't want to be alone this evening. Will you
come?"

"Yes, certainly, unless you would rather go to
my lodgings."

"No; come and dine with me at a restaurant.
There's one on the Signoria. Please don't refuse,
now; you've promised!"

They went into a restaurant, where he ordered
dinner, but hardly touched his own share, and
remained obstinately silent, crumbling the bread
over the cloth, and fidgeting with the fringe of
his table napkin. Gemma felt thoroughly uncomfortable,
and began to wish she had refused to
come; the silence was growing awkward; yet she
could not begin to make small-talk with a person
who seemed to have forgotten her presence. At
last he looked up and said abruptly:

"Would you like to see the variety show?"

She stared at him in astonishment. What had
he got into his head about variety shows?

"Have you ever seen one?" he asked before she
had time to speak.

"No; I don't think so. I didn't suppose they
were interesting."

"They are very interesting. I don't think anyone
can study the life of the people without seeing
them. Let us go back to the Porta alla Croce."

When they arrived the mountebanks had set up
their tent beside the town gate, and an abominable
scraping of fiddles and banging of drums
announced that the performance had begun.

The entertainment was of the roughest kind.
A few clowns, harlequins, and acrobats, a circus-rider
jumping through hoops, the painted columbine,
and the hunchback performing various dull
and foolish antics, represented the entire force of
the company. The jokes were not, on the whole,
coarse or offensive; but they were very tame and
stale, and there was a depressing flatness about
the whole thing. The audience laughed and
clapped from their innate Tuscan courtesy; but
the only part which they seemed really to enjoy
was the performance of the hunchback, in which
Gemma could find nothing either witty or skilful.
It was merely a series of grotesque and hideous
contortions, which the spectators mimicked, holding
up children on their shoulders that the little
ones might see the "ugly man."

"Signor Rivarez, do you really think this
attractive?" said Gemma, turning to the Gadfly,
who was standing beside her, his arm round one
of the wooden posts of the tent. "It seems to
me----"

She broke off and remained looking at him
silently. Except when she had stood with Montanelli
at the garden gate in Leghorn, she had
never seen a human face express such fathomless,
hopeless misery. She thought of Dante's hell as
she watched him.

Presently the hunchback, receiving a kick from
one of the clowns, turned a somersault and tumbled
in a grotesque heap outside the ring. A dialogue
between two clowns began, and the Gadfly
seemed to wake out of a dream.

"Shall we go?" he asked; "or would you like
to see more?"

"I would rather go."

They left the tent, and walked across the dark
green to the river. For a few moments neither
spoke.

"What did you think of the show?" the Gadfly
asked presently.

"I thought it rather a dreary business; and
part of it seemed to me positively unpleasant."

"Which part?"

"Well, all those grimaces and contortions.
They are simply ugly; there is nothing clever
about them."

"Do you mean the hunchback's performance?"

Remembering his peculiar sensitiveness on the
subject of his own physical defects, she had
avoided mentioning this particular bit of the
entertainment; but now that he had touched upon
the subject himself, she answered: "Yes; I did
not like that part at all."

"That was the part the people enjoyed most."

"I dare say; and that is just the worst thing
about it."

"Because it was inartistic?"

"N-no; it was all inartistic. I meant--because
it was cruel."

He smiled.

"Cruel? Do you mean to the hunchback?"

"I mean---- Of course the man himself was
quite indifferent; no doubt, it is to him just a way
of getting a living, like the circus-rider's way or
the columbine's. But the thing makes one feel
unhappy. It is humiliating; it is the degradation
of a human being."

"He probably is not any more degraded than
he was to start with. Most of us are degraded in
one way or another."

"Yes; but this--I dare say you will think it
an absurd prejudice; but a human body, to me, is
a sacred thing; I don't like to see it treated
irreverently and made hideous."

"And a human soul?"

He had stopped short, and was standing with
one hand on the stone balustrade of the embankment,
looking straight at her.

"A soul?" she repeated, stopping in her turn
to look at him in wonder.

He flung out both hands with a sudden, passionate gesture.

"Has it never occurred to you that that miserable
clown may have a soul--a living, struggling,
human soul, tied down into that crooked hulk of
a body and forced to slave for it? You that are so
tender-hearted to everything--you that pity the
body in its fool's dress and bells--have you never
thought of the wretched soul that has not even
motley to cover its horrible nakedness? Think
of it shivering with cold, stilled with shame and
misery, before all those people--feeling their jeers
that cut like a whip--their laughter, that burns
like red-hot iron on the bare flesh! Think of it
looking round--so helpless before them all--for
the mountains that will not fall on it--for the rocks
that have not the heart to cover it--envying the
rats that can creep into some hole in the earth
and hide; and remember that a soul is dumb--it
has no voice to cry out--it must endure, and endure,
and endure. Oh! I'm talking nonsense!
Why on earth don't you laugh? You have no
sense of humour!"

Slowly and in dead silence she turned and
walked on along the river side. During the whole
evening it had not once occurred to her to connect
his trouble, whatever it might be, with the
variety show; and now that some dim picture of
his inner life had been revealed to her by this sudden
outburst, she could not find, in her overwhelming
pity for him, one word to say. He
walked on beside her, with his head turned away,
and looked into the water.

"I want you, please, to understand," he began
suddenly, turning to her with a defiant air, "that
everything I have just been saying to you is pure
imagination. I'm rather given to romancing, but
I don't like people to take it seriously."

She made no answer, and they walked on in
silence. As they passed by the gateway of the
Uffizi, he crossed the road and stooped down
over a dark bundle that was lying against the
railings.

"What is the matter, little one?" he asked,
more gently than she had ever heard him speak.
"Why don't you go home?"

The bundle moved, and answered something in
a low, moaning voice. Gemma came across to
look, and saw a child of about six years old,
ragged and dirty, crouching on the pavement like a
frightened animal. The Gadfly was bending down
with his hand on the unkempt head.

"What is it?" he said, stooping lower to catch
the unintelligible answer. "You ought to go
home to bed; little boys have no business out of
doors at night; you'll be quite frozen! Give me
your hand and jump up like a man! Where do
you live?"

He took the child's arm to raise him. The result
was a sharp scream and a quick shrinking away.

"Why, what is it?" the Gadfly asked, kneeling
down on the pavement. "Ah! Signora, look
here!"

The child's shoulder and jacket were covered
with blood.

"Tell me what has happened?" the Gadfly
went on caressingly. "It wasn't a fall, was it?
No? Someone's been beating you? I thought
so! Who was it?"

"My uncle."

"Ah, yes! And when was it?"

"This morning. He was drunk, and I--I----"

"And you got in his way--was that it? You
shouldn't get in people's way when they are
drunk, little man; they don't like it. What shall
we do with this poor mite, signora? Come here
to the light, sonny, and let me look at that
shoulder. Put your arm round my neck; I won't
hurt you. There we are!"

He lifted the boy in his arms, and, carrying him
across the street, set him down on the wide stone
balustrade. Then, taking out a pocket-knife, he
deftly ripped up the torn sleeve, supporting the
child's head against his breast, while Gemma held
the injured arm. The shoulder was badly bruised
and grazed, and there was a deep gash on the arm.

"That's an ugly cut to give a mite like you,"
said the Gadfly, fastening his handkerchief round
the wound to prevent the jacket from rubbing
against it. "What did he do it with?"

"The shovel. I went to ask him to give me a
soldo to get some polenta at the corner shop, and
he hit me with the shovel."

The Gadfly shuddered. "Ah!" he said softly,
"that hurts; doesn't it, little one?"

"He hit me with the shovel--and I ran away--
I ran away--because he hit me."

"And you've been wandering about ever since,
without any dinner?"

Instead of answering, the child began to sob
violently. The Gadfly lifted him off the balustrade.

"There, there! We'll soon set all that straight.
I wonder if we can get a cab anywhere. I'm afraid
they'll all be waiting by the theatre; there's a
grand performance going on to-night. I am sorry
to drag you about so, signora; but----"

"I would rather come with you. You may
want help. Do you think you can carry him so
far? Isn't he very heavy?"

"Oh, I can manage, thank you."

At the theatre door they found only a few cabs
waiting, and these were all engaged. The performance
was over, and most of the audience had
gone. Zita's name was printed in large letters on
the wall-placards; she had been dancing in the
ballet. Asking Gemma to wait for him a moment,
the Gadfly went round to the performers' entrance,
and spoke to an attendant.

"Has Mme. Reni gone yet?"

"No, sir," the man answered, staring blankly
at the spectacle of a well-dressed gentleman carrying
a ragged street child in his arms, "Mme.
Reni is just coming out, I think; her carriage is
waiting for her. Yes; there she comes."

Zita descended the stairs, leaning on the arm of
a young cavalry officer. She looked superbly
handsome, with an opera cloak of flame-coloured
velvet thrown over her evening dress, and a great
fan of ostrich plumes hanging from her waist. In
the entry she stopped short, and, drawing her
hand away from the officer's arm, approached the
Gadfly in amazement.

"Felice!" she exclaimed under her breath,
"what HAVE you got there?"

"I have picked up this child in the street. It is
hurt and starving; and I want to get it home as
quickly as possible. There is not a cab to be got
anywhere, so I want to have your carriage."

"Felice! you are not going to take a horrid
beggar-child into your rooms! Send for a policeman,
and let him carry it to the Refuge or whatever
is the proper place for it. You can't have all
the paupers in the town----"

"It is hurt," the Gadfly repeated; "it can go
to the Refuge to-morrow, if necessary, but I must
see to the child first and give it some food."

Zita made a little grimace of disgust. "You've
got its head right against your shirt! How CAN
you? It is dirty!"

The Gadfly looked up with a sudden flash of anger.

"It is hungry," he said fiercely. "You don't
know what that means, do you?"

"Signer Rivarez," interposed Gemma, coming
forward, "my lodgings are quite close. Let us
take the child in there. Then, if you cannot find
a vettura, I will manage to put it up for the
night."

He turned round quickly. "You don't mind?"

"Of course not. Good-night, Mme. Reni!"

The gipsy, with a stiff bow and an angry shrug
of her shoulders, took her officer's arm again, and,
gathering up the train of her dress, swept past
them to the contested carriage.

"I will send it back to fetch you and the child,
if you like, M. Rivarez," she said, pausing on the
doorstep.

"Very well; I will give the address." He came
out on to the pavement, gave the address to the
driver, and walked back to Gemma with his burden.

Katie was waiting up for her mistress; and, on
hearing what had happened, ran for warm water
and other necessaries. Placing the child on a
chair, the Gadfly knelt down beside him, and,
deftly slipping off the ragged clothing, bathed
and bandaged the wound with tender, skilful
hands. He had just finished washing the boy, and
was wrapping him in a warm blanket, when
Gemma came in with a tray in her hands.

"Is your patient ready for his supper?" she
asked, smiling at the strange little figure. "I
have been cooking it for him."

The Gadfly stood up and rolled the dirty rags
together. "I'm afraid we have made a terrible
mess in your room," he said. "As for these, they
had better go straight into the fire, and I will buy
him some new clothes to-morrow. Have you any
brandy in the house, signora? I think he ought
to have a little. I will just wash my hands, if you
will allow me."

When the child had finished his supper, he
immediately went to sleep in the Gadfly's arms, with
his rough head against the white shirt-front.
Gemma, who had been helping Katie to set the
disordered room tidy again, sat down at the table.

"Signor Rivarez, you must take something
before you go home--you had hardly any dinner,
and it's very late."

"I should like a cup of tea in the English fashion,
if you have it. I'm sorry to keep you up so late."

"Oh! that doesn't matter. Put the child down
on the sofa; he will tire you. Wait a minute; I
will just lay a sheet over the cushions. What are
you going to do with him?"

"To-morrow? Find out whether he has any
other relations except that drunken brute; and
if not, I suppose I must follow Mme. Reni's advice,
and take him to the Refuge. Perhaps the
kindest thing to do would be to put a stone round
his neck and pitch him into the river there; but
that would expose me to unpleasant consequences.
Fast asleep! What an odd little lump of ill-luck
you are, you mite--not half as capable of defending
yourself as a stray cat!"

When Katie brought in the tea-tray, the boy
opened his eyes and sat up with a bewildered air.
Recognizing the Gadfly, whom he already regarded
as his natural protector, he wriggled off
the sofa, and, much encumbered by the folds of
his blanket, came up to nestle against him. He
was by now sufficiently revived to be inquisitive;
and, pointing to the mutilated left hand, in which
the Gadfly was holding a piece of cake, asked:

"What's that?"

"That? Cake; do you want some? I think
you've had enough for now. Wait till to-morrow,
little man."

"No--that!" He stretched out his hand and
touched the stumps of the amputated fingers and
the great scar on the wrist. The Gadfly put down
his cake.

"Oh, that! It's the same sort of thing as what
you have on your shoulder--a hit I got from
someone stronger than I was."

"Didn't it hurt awfully?"

"Oh, I don't know--not more than other
things. There, now, go to sleep again; you have
no business asking questions at this time of night."

When the carriage arrived the boy was again
asleep; and the Gadfly, without awaking him,
lifted him gently and carried him out on to the
stairs.

"You have been a sort of ministering angel to
me to-day," he said to Gemma, pausing at the
door. "But I suppose that need not prevent us
from quarrelling to our heart's content in future."

"I have no desire to quarrel with anyone."

"Ah! but I have. Life would be unendurable
without quarrels. A good quarrel is the salt of
the earth; it's better than a variety show!"

And with that he went downstairs, laughing
softly to himself, with the sleeping child in his
arms.



CHAPTER VII.

ONE day in the first week of January Martini,
who had sent round the forms of invitation to the
monthly group-meeting of the literary committee,
received from the Gadfly a laconic, pencil-scrawled
"Very sorry: can't come." He was a
little annoyed, as a notice of "important business"
had been put into the invitation; this cavalier
treatment seemed to him almost insolent.
Moreover, three separate letters containing bad
news arrived during the day, and the wind was in
the east, so that Martini felt out of sorts and out
of temper; and when, at the group meeting, Dr.
Riccardo asked, "Isn't Rivarez here?" he answered
rather sulkily: "No; he seems to have
got something more interesting on hand, and
can't come, or doesn't want to."

"Really, Martini," said Galli irritably, "you
are about the most prejudiced person in Florence.
Once you object to a man, everything he does is
wrong. How could Rivarez come when he's ill?"

"Who told you he was ill?"

"Didn't you know? He's been laid up for the
last four days."

"What's the matter with him?"

"I don't know. He had to put off an appointment
with me on Thursday on account of illness;
and last night, when I went round, I heard that
he was too ill to see anyone. I thought Riccardo
would be looking after him."

"I knew nothing about it. I'll go round to-night
and see if he wants anything."

The next morning Riccardo, looking very pale
and tired, came into Gemma's little study. She
was sitting at the table, reading out monotonous
strings of figures to Martini, who, with a magnifying
glass in one hand and a finely pointed pencil
in the other, was making tiny marks in the pages
of a book. She made with one hand a gesture requesting
silence. Riccardo, knowing that a person who is writing
in cipher must not be interrupted, sat down on the sofa
behind her and yawned like a man who can hardly keep awake.

"2, 4; 3, 7; 6, 1; 3, 5; 4> 1;" Gemma's voice
went on with machine-like evenness. "8, 4; 7, 2;
5, 1; that finishes the sentence, Cesare."

She stuck a pin into the paper to mark the
exact place, and turned round.

"Good-morning, doctor; how fagged you look!
Are you well?"

"Oh, I'm well enough--only tired out. I've
had an awful night with Rivarez."

"With Rivarez?"

"Yes; I've been up with him all night, and now
I must go off to my hospital patients. I just
came round to know whether you can think of
anyone that could look after him a bit for the
next few days. He's in a devil of a state. I'll do
my best, of course; but I really haven't the time;
and he won't hear of my sending in a nurse."

"What is the matter with him?"

"Well, rather a complication of things. First
of all----"

"First of all, have you had any breakfast?"

"Yes, thank you. About Rivarez--no doubt,
it's complicated with a lot of nerve trouble; but
the main cause of disturbance is an old injury
that seems to have been disgracefully neglected.
Altogether, he's in a frightfully knocked-about
state; I suppose it was that war in South America
--and he certainly didn't get proper care when
the mischief was done. Probably things were
managed in a very rough-and-ready fashion out
there; he's lucky to be alive at all. However,
there's a chronic tendency to inflammation, and
any trifle may bring on an attack----"

"Is that dangerous?"

"N-no; the chief danger in a case of that kind
is of the patient getting desperate and taking a
dose of arsenic."

"It is very painful, of course?"

"It's simply horrible; I don't know how he
manages to bear it. I was obliged to stupefy him
with opium in the night--a thing I hate to do
with a nervous patient; but I had to stop it
somehow."

"He is nervous, I should think."

"Very, but splendidly plucky. As long as he
was not actually light-headed with the pain last
night, his coolness was quite wonderful. But I
had an awful job with him towards the end. How
long do you suppose this thing has been going
on? Just five nights; and not a soul within call
except that stupid landlady, who wouldn't wake
if the house tumbled down, and would be no use
if she did."

"But what about the ballet-girl?"

"Yes; isn't that a curious thing? He won't
let her come near him. He has a morbid horror of
her. Altogether, he's one of the most incomprehensible
creatures I ever met--a perfect mass of contradictions."

He took out his watch and looked at it with a
preoccupied face. "I shall be late at the hospital;
but it can't be helped. The junior will have to
begin without me for once. I wish I had known
of all this before--it ought not to have been let
go on that way night after night."

"But why on earth didn't he send to say he
was ill?" Martini interrupted. "He might have
guessed we shouldn't have left him stranded in
that fashion."

"I wish, doctor," said Gemma, "that you had
sent for one of us last night, instead of wearing
yourself out like this."

"My dear lady, I wanted to send round to
Galli; but Rivarez got so frantic at the suggestion
that I didn't dare attempt it. When I asked
him whether there was anyone else he would like
fetched, he looked at me for a minute, as if he
were scared out of his wits, and then put up both
hands to his eyes and said: 'Don't tell them;
they will laugh!' He seemed quite possessed
with some fancy about people laughing at something.
I couldn't make out what; he kept talking Spanish;
but patients do say the oddest things sometimes."

"Who is with him now?" asked Gemma.

"No one except the landlady and her maid."

"I'll go to him at once," said Martini.

"Thank you. I'll look round again in the
evening. You'll find a paper of written directions
in the table-drawer by the large window, and the
opium is on the shelf in the next room. If the
pain comes on again, give him another dose--not
more than one; but don't leave the bottle where
he can get at it, whatever you do; he might be
tempted to take too much."

When Martini entered the darkened room, the
Gadfly turned his head round quickly, and, holding
out to him a burning hand, began, in a bad
imitation of his usual flippant manner:

"Ah, Martini! You have come to rout me out
about those proofs. It's no use swearing at me
for missing the committee last night; the fact is,
I have not been quite well, and----"

"Never mind the committee. I have just seen
Riccardo, and have come to know if I can be of
any use."

The Gadfly set his face like a flint.

"Oh, really! that is very kind of you; but it
wasn't worth the trouble. I'm only a little out
of sorts."

"So I understood from Riccardo. He was up
with you all night, I believe."

The Gadfly bit his lip savagely.

"I am quite comfortable, thank you, and don't
want anything."

"Very well; then I will sit in the other room;
perhaps you would rather be alone. I will leave
the door ajar, in case you call me."

"Please don't trouble about it; I really shan't
want anything. I should be wasting your time for
nothing."

"Nonsense, man!" Martini broke in roughly.
"What's the use of trying to fool me that way?
Do you think I have no eyes? Lie still and go to
sleep, if you can."

He went into the adjoining room, and, leaving
the door open, sat down with a book. Presently
he heard the Gadfly move restlessly two or three
times. He put down his book and listened.
There was a short silence, then another restless
movement; then the quick, heavy, panting breath
of a man clenching his teeth to suppress a groan.
He went back into the room.

"Can I do anything for you, Rivarez?"

There was no answer, and he crossed the room
to the bed-side. The Gadfly, with a ghastly, livid
face, looked at him for a moment, and silently
shook his head.

"Shall I give you some more opium? Riccardo
said you were to have it if the pain got very bad."

"No, thank you; I can bear it a bit longer.
It may be worse later on."

Martini shrugged his shoulders and sat down
beside the bed. For an interminable hour he
watched in silence; then he rose and fetched the
opium.

"Rivarez, I won't let this go on any longer; if
you can stand it, I can't. You must have the stuff."

The Gadfly took it without speaking. Then he
turned away and closed his eyes. Martini sat
down again, and listened as the breathing became
gradually deep and even.

The Gadfly was too much exhausted to wake
easily when once asleep. Hour after hour he lay
absolutely motionless. Martini approached him
several times during the day and evening, and
looked at the still figure; but, except the breathing,
there was no sign of life. The face was so
wan and colourless that at last a sudden fear seized
upon him; what if he had given too much opium?
The injured left arm lay on the coverlet, and he
shook it gently to rouse the sleeper. As he did
so, the unfastened sleeve fell back, showing a
series of deep and fearful scars covering the arm
from wrist to elbow.

"That arm must have been in a pleasant condition
when those marks were fresh," said Riccardo's voice
behind him.

"Ah, there you are at last! Look here,
Riccardo; ought this man to sleep forever? I
gave him a dose about ten hours ago, and he
hasn't moved a muscle since."

Riccardo stooped down and listened for a moment.

"No; he is breathing quite properly; it's nothing
but sheer exhaustion--what you might expect
after such a night. There may be another
paroxysm before morning. Someone will sit up,
I hope?"

"Galli will; he has sent to say he will be here
by ten."

"It's nearly that now. Ah, he's waking! Just
see the maidservant gets that broth hot. Gently
--gently, Rivarez! There, there, you needn't
fight, man; I'm not a bishop!"

The Gadfly started up with a shrinking, scared
look. "Is it my turn?" he said hurriedly in
Spanish. "Keep the people amused a minute;
I----  Ah! I didn't see you, Riccardo."

He looked round the room and drew one hand
across his forehead as if bewildered. "Martini!
Why, I thought you had gone away. I must have
been asleep."

"You have been sleeping like the beauty in the
fairy story for the last ten hours; and now you are
to have some broth and go to sleep again."

"Ten hours! Martini, surely you haven't been
here all that time?"

"Yes; I was beginning to wonder whether I
hadn't given you an overdose of opium."

The Gadfly shot a sly glance at him.

"No such luck! Wouldn't you have nice quiet
committee-meetings? What the devil do you
want, Riccardo? Do for mercy's sake leave me in
peace, can't you? I hate being mauled about by
doctors."

"Well then, drink this and I'll leave you in
peace. I shall come round in a day or two,
though, and give you a thorough overhauling. I
think you have pulled through the worst of this
business now; you don't look quite so much like
a death's head at a feast."

"Oh, I shall be all right soon, thanks. Who's
that--Galli? I seem to have a collection of all
the graces here to-night."

"I have come to stop the night with you."

"Nonsense! I don't want anyone. Go home,
all the lot of you. Even if the thing should come
on again, you can't help me; I won't keep taking
opium. It's all very well once in a way."

"I'm afraid you're right," Riccardo said.
"But that's not always an easy resolution to stick
to."

The Gadfly looked up, smiling. "No fear!
If I'd been going in for that sort of thing, I should
have done it long ago."

"Anyway, you are not going to be left alone,"
Riccardo answered drily. "Come into the other
room a minute, Galli; I want to speak to you.
Good-night, Rivarez; I'll look in to-morrow."

Martini was following them out of the room
when he heard his name softly called. The Gadfly
was holding out a hand to him.

"Thank you!"

"Oh, stuff! Go to sleep."

When Riccardo had gone, Martini remained a
few minutes in the outer room, talking with Galli.
As he opened the front door of the house he heard
a carriage stop at the garden gate and saw a
woman's figure get out and come up the path. It
was Zita, returning, evidently, from some evening
entertainment. He lifted his hat and stood aside
to let her pass, then went out into the dark lane
leading from the house to the Poggio Imperiale.
Presently the gate clicked and rapid footsteps
came down the lane.

"Wait a minute!" she said.

When he turned back to meet her she stopped
short, and then came slowly towards him, dragging
one hand after her along the hedge. There
was a single street-lamp at the corner, and he saw
by its light that she was hanging her head down
as though embarrassed or ashamed.

"How is he?" she asked without looking up.

"Much better than he was this morning. He
has been asleep most of the day and seems less
exhausted. I think the attack is passing over."

She still kept her eyes on the ground.

"Has it been very bad this time?"

"About as bad as it can well be, I should
think."

"I thought so. When he won't let me come
into the room, that always means it's bad."

"Does he often have attacks like this?"

"That depends---- It's so irregular. Last
summer, in Switzerland, he was quite well; but
the winter before, when we were in Vienna, it was
awful. He wouldn't let me come near him for
days together. He hates to have me about when
he's ill."

She glanced up for a moment, and, dropping her
eyes again, went on:

"He always used to send me off to a ball, or
concert, or something, on one pretext or another,
when he felt it coming on. Then he would lock
himself into his room. I used to slip back and sit
outside the door--he would have been furious if
he'd known. He'd let the dog come in if it
whined, but not me. He cares more for it, I
think."

There was a curious, sullen defiance in her
manner.

"Well, I hope it won't be so bad any more,"
said Martini kindly. "Dr. Riccardo is taking the
case seriously in hand. Perhaps he will be able to
make a permanent improvement. And, in any
case, the treatment gives relief at the moment.
But you had better send to us at once, another
time. He would have suffered very much less if
we had known of it earlier. Good-night!"

He held out his hand, but she drew back with
a quick gesture of refusal.

"I don't see why you want to shake hands with
his mistress."

"As you like, of course," he began in embarrassment.

She stamped her foot on the ground. "I hate
you!" she cried, turning on him with eyes like
glowing coals. "I hate you all! You come here
talking politics to him; and he lets you sit up the
night with him and give him things to stop the
pain, and I daren't so much as peep at him through
the door! What is he to you? What right have
you to come and steal him away from me? I hate
you! I hate you! I HATE you!"

She burst into a violent fit of sobbing, and, darting
back into the garden, slammed the gate in his face.

"Good Heavens!" said Martini to himself, as he
walked down the lane. "That girl is actually
in love with him! Of all the extraordinary
things----"



CHAPTER VIII.

THE Gadfly's recovery was rapid. One afternoon
in the following week Riccardo found him
lying on the sofa in a Turkish dressing-gown,
chatting with Martini and Galli. He even talked
about going downstairs; but Riccardo merely
laughed at the suggestion and asked whether he
would like a tramp across the valley to Fiesole to
start with.

"You might go and call on the Grassinis for a
change," he added wickedly. "I'm sure madame
would be delighted to see you, especially now,
when you look so pale and interesting."

The Gadfly clasped his hands with a tragic
gesture.

"Bless my soul! I never thought of that!
She'd take me for one of Italy's martyrs, and talk
patriotism to me. I should have to act up to the
part, and tell her I've been cut to pieces in an
underground dungeon and stuck together again
rather badly; and she'd want to know exactly what
the process felt like. You don't think she'd believe
it, Riccardo? I'll bet you my Indian dagger
against the bottled tape-worm in your den that
she'll swallow the biggest lie I can invent. That's
a generous offer, and you'd better jump at it."

"Thanks, I'm not so fond of murderous tools
as you are."

"Well, a tape-worm is as murderous as a dagger,
any day, and not half so pretty."

"But as it happens, my dear fellow, I don't
want the dagger and I do want the tape-worm.
Martini, I must run off. Are you in charge of this
obstreperous patient?"

"Only till three o'clock. Galli and I have to go
to San Miniato, and Signora Bolla is coming till
I can get back."

"Signora Bolla!" the Gadfly repeated in a tone
of dismay. "Why, Martini, this will never do!
I can't have a lady bothered over me and my ailments.
Besides, where is she to sit? She won't
like to come in here."

"Since when have you gone in so fiercely for the
proprieties?" asked Riccardo, laughing. "My
good man, Signora Bolla is head nurse in general
to all of us. She has looked after sick people ever
since she was in short frocks, and does it better
than any sister of mercy I know. Won't like to
come into your room! Why, you might be talking
of the Grassini woman! I needn't leave any
directions if she's coming, Martini. Heart alive,
it's half-past two; I must be off!"

"Now, Rivarez, take your physic before she
comes," said Galli, approaching the sofa with a
medicine glass.

"Damn the physic!" The Gadfly had reached
the irritable stage of convalescence, and was
inclined to give his devoted nurses a bad time.
"W-what do you want to d-d-dose me with all
sorts of horrors for now the pain is gone?"

"Just because I don't want it to come back.
You wouldn't like it if you collapsed when Signora
Bolla is here and she had to give you opium."

"My g-good sir, if that pain is going to come
back it will come; it's not a t-toothache to be
frightened away with your trashy mixtures. They
are about as much use as a t-toy squirt for a house
on fire. However, I suppose you must have your
way."

He took the glass with his left hand, and the
sight of the terrible scars recalled Galli to the
former subject of conversation.

"By the way," he asked; "how did you get so
much knocked about? In the war, was it?"

"Now, didn't I just tell you it was a case of
secret dungeons and----"

"Yes, that version is for Signora Grassini's
benefit. Really, I suppose it was in the war with
Brazil?"

"Yes, I got a bit hurt there; and then hunting
in the savage districts and one thing and another."

"Ah, yes; on the scientific expedition. You
can fasten your shirt; I have quite done. You
seem to have had an exciting time of it out there."

"Well, of course you can't live in savage countries
without getting a few adventures once in a
way," said the Gadfly lightly; "and you can
hardly expect them all to be pleasant."

"Still, I don't understand how you managed to
get so much knocked about unless in a bad adventure
with wild beasts--those scars on your left
arm, for instance."

"Ah, that was in a puma-hunt. You see, I had
fired----"

There was a knock at the door.

"Is the room tidy, Martini? Yes? Then please
open the door. This is really most kind, signora;
you must excuse my not getting up."

"Of course you mustn't get up; I have not come
as a caller. I am a little early, Cesare. I thought
perhaps you were in a hurry to go."

"I can stop for a quarter of an hour. Let me
put your cloak in the other room. Shall I take
the basket, too?"

"Take care; those are new-laid eggs. Katie
brought them in from Monte Oliveto this morning.
There are some Christmas roses for you,
Signor Rivarez; I know you are fond of flowers."

She sat down beside the table and began clipping
the stalks of the flowers and arranging them
in a vase.

"Well, Rivarez," said Galli; "tell us the rest of
the puma-hunt story; you had just begun."

"Ah, yes! Galli was asking me about life in
South America, signora; and I was telling him
how I came to get my left arm spoiled. It was
in Peru. We had been wading a river on a puma-hunt,
and when I fired at the beast the powder
wouldn't go off; it had got splashed with water.
Naturally the puma didn't wait for me to rectify
that; and this is the result."

"That must have been a pleasant experience."

"Oh, not so bad! One must take the rough
with the smooth, of course; but it's a splendid
life on the whole. Serpent-catching, for instance----"

He rattled on, telling anecdote after anecdote;
now of the Argentine war, now of the Brazilian
expedition, now of hunting feats and adventures
with savages or wild beasts. Galli, with the delight
of a child hearing a fairy story, kept interrupting
every moment to ask questions. He was
of the impressionable Neapolitan temperament
and loved everything sensational. Gemma took
some knitting from her basket and listened
silently, with busy fingers and downcast eyes.
Martini frowned and fidgeted. The manner in
which the anecdotes were told seemed to him
boastful and self-conscious; and, notwithstanding
his unwilling admiration for a man who could
endure physical pain with the amazing fortitude
which he had seen the week before, he genuinely
disliked the Gadfly and all his works and ways.

"It must have been a glorious life!" sighed
Galli with naive envy. "I wonder you ever made
up your mind to leave Brazil. Other countries
must seem so flat after it!"

"I think I was happiest in Peru and Ecuador,"
said the Gadfly. "That really is a magnificent
tract of country. Of course it is very hot, especially
the coast district of Ecuador, and one has to
rough it a bit; but the scenery is superb beyond
imagination."

"I believe," said Galli, "the perfect freedom of
life in a barbarous country would attract me more
than any scenery. A man must feel his personal,
human dignity as he can never feel it in our
crowded towns."

"Yes," the Gadfly answered; "that is----"

Gemma raised her eyes from her knitting and
looked at him. He flushed suddenly scarlet and
broke off. There was a little pause.

"Surely it is not come on again?" asked Galli
anxiously.

"Oh, nothing to speak of, thanks to your
s-s-soothing application that I b-b-blasphemed
against. Are you going already, Martini?"

"Yes. Come along, Galli; we shall be late."

Gemma followed the two men out of the room,
and presently returned with an egg beaten up in
milk.

"Take this, please," she said with mild authority;
and sat down again to her knitting. The
Gadfly obeyed meekly.

For half an hour, neither spoke. Then the Gadfly
said in a very low voice:

"Signora Bolla!"

She looked up. He was tearing the fringe of
the couch-rug, and kept his eyes lowered.

"You didn't believe I was speaking the truth
just now," he began.

"I had not the smallest doubt that you were
telling falsehoods," she answered quietly.

"You were quite right. I was telling falsehoods
all the time."

"Do you mean about the war?"

"About everything. I was not in that war at
all; and as for the expedition, I had a few adventures,
of course, and most of those stories are true,
but it was not that way I got smashed. You have
detected me in one lie, so I may as well confess the
lot, I suppose."

"Does it not seem to you rather a waste of
energy to invent so many falsehoods?" she asked.
"I should have thought it was hardly worth the
trouble."

"What would you have? You know your own
English proverb: 'Ask no questions and you'll be
told no lies.' It's no pleasure to me to fool people
that way, but I must answer them somehow when
they ask what made a cripple of me; and I may as
well invent something pretty while I'm about it.
You saw how pleased Galli was."

"Do you prefer pleasing Galli to speaking the truth?"

"The truth!" He looked up with the torn
fringe in his hand. "You wouldn't have me tell
those people the truth? I'd cut my tongue out
first!" Then with an awkward, shy abruptness:

"I have never told it to anybody yet; but I'll tell
you if you care to hear."

She silently laid down her knitting. To her
there was something grievously pathetic in this
hard, secret, unlovable creature, suddenly flinging
his personal confidence at the feet of a woman
whom he barely knew and whom he apparently
disliked.

A long silence followed, and she looked up.
He was leaning his left arm on the little table beside
him, and shading his eyes with the mutilated
hand, and she noticed the nervous tension of the
fingers and the throbbing of the scar on the wrist.
She came up to him and called him softly by name.
He started violently and raised his head.

"I f-forgot," he stammered apologetically. "I
was g-going to t-tell you about----"

"About the--accident or whatever it was that
caused your lameness. But if it worries you----"

"The accident? Oh, the smashing! Yes;
only it wasn't an accident, it was a poker."

She stared at him in blank amazement. He
pushed back his hair with a hand that shook perceptibly,
and looked up at her, smiling.

"Won't you sit down? Bring your chair close,
please. I'm so sorry I can't get it for you.
R-really, now I come to think of it, the case would
have been a p-perfect t-treasure-trove for Riccardo
if he had had me to treat; he has the true surgeon's
love for broken bones, and I believe everything
in me that was breakable was broken on that
occasion--except my neck."

"And your courage," she put in softly. "But
perhaps you count that among your unbreakable
possessions."

He shook his head. "No," he said; "my courage
has been mended up after a fashion, with the
rest of me; but it was fairly broken then, like a
smashed tea-cup; that's the horrible part of it.
Ah---- Yes; well, I was telling you about the
poker.

"It was--let me see--nearly thirteen years ago,
in Lima. I told you Peru was a delightful country
to live in; but it's not quite so nice for people that
happen to be at low water, as I was. I had been
down in the Argentine, and then in Chili, tramping
the country and starving, mostly; and had
come up from Valparaiso as odd-man on a cattle-boat.
I couldn't get any work in Lima itself, so I
went down to the docks,--they're at Callao, you
know,--to try there. Well of course in all those
shipping-ports there are low quarters where the
sea-faring people congregate; and after some time
I got taken on as servant in one of the gambling
hells there. I had to do the cooking and billiard-marking,
and fetch drink for the sailors and their
women, and all that sort of thing. Not very
pleasant work; still I was glad to get it; there was
at least food and the sight of human faces and
sound of human tongues--of a kind. You may
think that was no advantage; but I had just been
down with yellow fever, alone in the outhouse of a
wretched half-caste shanty, and the thing had
given me the horrors. Well, one night I was told
to put out a tipsy Lascar who was making himself
obnoxious; he had come ashore and lost all his
money and was in a bad temper. Of course I had
to obey if I didn't want to lose my place and
starve; but the man was twice as strong as I--I
was not twenty-one and as weak as a cat after the
fever. Besides, he had the poker."

He paused a moment, glancing furtively at her;
then went on:

"Apparently he intended to put an end to me
altogether; but somehow he managed to scamp
his work--Lascars always do if they have a
chance; and left just enough of me not smashed to
go on living with."

"Yes, but the other people, could they not
interfere? Were they all afraid of one Lascar?"

He looked up and burst out laughing.

"THE OTHER PEOPLE? The gamblers and the
people of the house? Why, you don't understand!
They were negroes and Chinese and Heaven knows
what; and I was their servant--THEIR PROPERTY.
They stood round and enjoyed the fun, of course.
That sort of thing counts for a good joke out
there. So it is if you don't happen to be the subject
practised on."

She shuddered.

"Then what was the end of it?"

"That I can't tell you much about; a man
doesn't remember the next few days after a thing
of that kind, as a rule. But there was a ship's
surgeon near, and it seems that when they found I
was not dead, somebody called him in. He
patched me up after a fashion--Riccardo seems to
think it was rather badly done, but that may be
professional jealousy. Anyhow, when I came to
my senses, an old native woman had taken me in
for Christian charity--that sounds queer, doesn't
it? She used to sit huddled up in the corner of
the hut, smoking a black pipe and spitting on the
floor and crooning to herself. However, she
meant well, and she told me I might die in peace
and nobody should disturb me. But the spirit of
contradiction was strong in me and I elected to
live. It was rather a difficult job scrambling back
to life, and sometimes I am inclined to think it
was a great deal of cry for very little wool. Anyway
that old woman's patience was wonderful;
she kept me--how long was it?--nearly four
months lying in her hut, raving like a mad thing at
intervals, and as vicious as a bear with a sore ear
between-whiles. The pain was pretty bad, you
see, and my temper had been spoiled in childhood
with overmuch coddling."

"And then?"

"Oh, then--I got up somehow and crawled
away. No, don't think it was any delicacy about
taking a poor woman's charity--I was past caring
for that; it was only that I couldn't bear the place
any longer. You talked just now about my courage;
if you had seen me then! The worst of the
pain used to come on every evening, about dusk;
and in the afternoon I used to lie alone, and watch
the sun get lower and lower---- Oh, you can't
understand! It makes me sick to look at a sunset now!"

A long pause.

"Well, then I went up country, to see if I could
get work anywhere--it would have driven me mad
to stay in Lima. I got as far as Cuzco, and
there------ Really I don't know why I'm inflicting
all this ancient history on you; it hasn't even the
merit of being funny."

She raised her head and looked at him with deep
and serious eyes. "PLEASE don't talk that way,"
she said.

He bit his lip and tore off another piece of the
rug-fringe.

"Shall I go on?" he asked after a moment.

"If--if you will. I am afraid it is horrible to
you to remember."

"Do you think I forget when I hold my tongue?
It's worse then. But don't imagine it's the thing
itself that haunts me so. It is the fact of having
lost the power over myself."

"I--don't think I quite understand."

"I mean, it is the fact of having come to the
end of my courage, to the point where I found
myself a coward."

"Surely there is a limit to what anyone can bear."

"Yes; and the man who has once reached
that limit never knows when he may reach it
again."

"Would you mind telling me," she asked, hesitating,
"how you came to be stranded out there alone at twenty?"

"Very simply: I had a good opening in life, at
home in the old country, and ran away from it."

"Why?"

He laughed again in his quick, harsh way.

"Why? Because I was a priggish young cub,
I suppose. I had been brought up in an over-luxurious
home, and coddled and faddled after till
I thought the world was made of pink cotton-wool
and sugared almonds. Then one fine day I found
out that someone I had trusted had deceived me.
Why, how you start! What is it?"

"Nothing. Go on, please."

"I found out that I had been tricked into believing
a lie; a common bit of experience, of course;
but, as I tell you, I was young and priggish, and
thought that liars go to hell. So I ran away from
home and plunged into South America to sink or
swim as I could, without a cent in my pocket or a
word of Spanish in my tongue, or anything but
white hands and expensive habits to get my bread
with. And the natural result was that I got a dip
into the real hell to cure me of imagining sham
ones. A pretty thorough dip, too--it was just
five years before the Duprez expedition came
along and pulled me out."

"Five years! Oh, that is terrible! And had
you no friends?"

"Friends! I"--he turned on her with sudden
fierceness--"I have NEVER had a friend!"

The next instant he seemed a little ashamed of
his vehemence, and went on quickly:

"You mustn't take all this too seriously; I dare
say I made the worst of things, and really it wasn't
so bad the first year and a half; I was young and
strong and I managed to scramble along fairly
well till the Lascar put his mark on me. But after
that I couldn't get work. It's wonderful what an
effectual tool a poker is if you handle it properly;
and nobody cares to employ a cripple."

"What sort of work did you do?"

"What I could get. For some time I lived by
odd-jobbing for the blacks on the sugar plantations,
fetching and carrying and so on. It's one of
the curious things in life, by the way, that slaves
always contrive to have a slave of their own, and
there's nothing a negro likes so much as a white
fag to bully. But it was no use; the overseers
always turned me off. I was too lame to be
quick; and I couldn't manage the heavy loads.
And then I was always getting these attacks
of inflammation, or whatever the confounded
thing is.

"After some time I went down to the silver-mines
and tried to get work there; but it was all
no good. The managers laughed at the very
notion of taking me on, and as for the men, they
made a dead set at me."

"Why was that?"

"Oh, human nature, I suppose; they saw I had
only one hand that I could hit back with. They're
a mangy, half-caste lot; negroes and Zambos
mostly. And then those horrible coolies! So at
last I got enough of that, and set off to tramp the
country at random; just wandering about, on the
chance of something turning up."

"To tramp? With that lame foot!"

He looked up with a sudden, piteous catching
of the breath.

"I--I was hungry," he said.

She turned her head a little away and rested her
chin on one hand. After a moment's silence he
began again, his voice sinking lower and lower as
he spoke:

"Well, I tramped, and tramped, till I was nearly
mad with tramping, and nothing came of it. I
got down into Ecuador, and there it was worse
than ever. Sometimes I'd get a bit of tinkering
to do,--I'm a pretty fair tinker,--or an errand to
run, or a pigstye to clean out; sometimes I
did--oh, I hardly know what. And then at last,
one day------"

The slender, brown hand clenched itself suddenly
on the table, and Gemma, raising her head,
glanced at him anxiously. His side-face was
turned towards her, and she could see a vein on
the temple beating like a hammer, with quick,
irregular strokes. She bent forward and laid a
gentle hand on his arm.

"Never mind the rest; it's almost too horrible
to talk about."

He stared doubtfully at the hand, shook his
head, and went on steadily:

"Then one day I met a travelling variety show.
You remember that one the other night; well, that
sort of thing, only coarser and more indecent.
The Zambos are not like these gentle Florentines;
they don't care for anything that is not foul or
brutal. There was bull-fighting, too, of course.
They had camped out by the roadside for the
night; and I went up to their tent to beg. Well,
the weather was hot and I was half starved, and
so--I fainted at the door of the tent. I had a
trick of fainting suddenly at that time, like a
boarding-school girl with tight stays. So they
took me in and gave me brandy, and food, and so
on; and then--the next morning--they offered
me----"

Another pause.

"They wanted a hunchback, or monstrosity of
some kind; for the boys to pelt with orange-peel
and banana-skins--something to set the blacks
laughing------ You saw the clown that night--
well, I was that--for two years. I suppose you
have a humanitarian feeling about negroes and
Chinese. Wait till you've been at their mercy!

"Well, I learned to do the tricks. I was not
quite deformed enough; but they set that right
with an artificial hump and made the most of this
foot and arm---- And the Zambos are not critical;
they're easily satisfied if only they can get
hold of some live thing to torture--the fool's dress
makes a good deal of difference, too.

"The only difficulty was that I was so often ill
and unable to play. Sometimes, if the manager
was out of temper, he would insist on my coming
into the ring when I had these attacks on; and I
believe the people liked those evenings best.
Once, I remember, I fainted right off with the pain
in the middle of the performance---- When I
came to my senses again, the audience had got
round me--hooting and yelling and pelting me
with------"

"Don't! I can't hear any more! Stop, for
God's sake!"

She was standing up with both hands over her
ears. He broke off, and, looking up, saw the
glitter of tears in her eyes.

"Damn it all, what an idiot I am!" he said
under his breath.

She crossed the room and stood for a little while
looking out of the window. When she turned
round, the Gadfly was again leaning on the table
and covering his eyes with one hand. He had evidently
forgotten her presence, and she sat down
beside him without speaking. After a long silence
she said slowly:

"I want to ask you a question."

"Yes?" without moving.

"Why did you not cut your throat?"

He looked up in grave surprise. "I did not expect
YOU to ask that," he said. "And what about
my work? Who would have done it for me?"

"Your work---- Ah, I see! You talked just
now about being a coward; well, if you have come
through that and kept to your purpose, you are
the very bravest man that I have ever met."

He covered his eyes again, and held her hand in
a close passionate clasp. A silence that seemed to
have no end fell around them.

Suddenly a clear and fresh soprano voice rang
out from the garden below, singing a verse of a
doggerel French song:


  "Eh, Pierrot! Danse, Pierrot!
   Danse un peu, mon pauvre Jeannot!
   Vive la danse et l'allegresse!
   Jouissons de notre bell' jeunesse!
   Si moi je pleure ou moi je soupire,
   Si moi je fais la triste figure--
   Monsieur, ce n'est que pour rire!
   Ha! Ha, ha, ha!
   Monsieur, ce n'est que pour rire!"


At the first words the Gadfly tore his hand from
Gemma's and shrank away with a stifled groan.
She clasped both hands round his arm and pressed
it firmly, as she might have pressed that of a person
undergoing a surgical operation. When the
song broke off and a chorus of laughter and applause
came from the garden, he looked up with
the eyes of a tortured animal.

"Yes, it is Zita," he said slowly; "with her
officer friends. She tried to come in here the
other night, before Riccardo came. I should have
gone mad if she had touched me!"

"But she does not know," Gemma protested
softly. "She cannot guess that she is hurting
you."

"She is like a Creole," he answered, shuddering.
"Do you remember her face that night when we
brought in the beggar-child? That is how the
half-castes look when they laugh."

Another burst of laughter came from the garden.
Gemma rose and opened the window. Zita, with
a gold-embroidered scarf wound coquettishly
round her head, was standing in the garden path,
holding up a bunch of violets, for the possession
of which three young cavalry officers appeared
to be competing.

"Mme. Reni!" said Gemma.

Zita's face darkened like a thunder-cloud.
"Madame?" she said, turning and raising her
eyes with a defiant look.

"Would your friends mind speaking a little
more softly? Signor Rivarez is very unwell."

The gipsy flung down her violets. "Allez-vous
en!" she said, turning sharply on the astonished
officers. "Vous m'embetez, messieurs!"

She went slowly out into the road. Gemma
closed the window.

"They have gone away," she said, turning to
him.

"Thank you. I--I am sorry to have troubled
you."

"It was no trouble." He at once detected the
hesitation in her voice.

"'But?'" he said. "That sentence was not
finished, signora; there was an unspoken 'but' in
the back of your mind."

"If you look into the backs of people's minds,
you mustn't be offended at what you read there.
It is not my affair, of course, but I cannot understand----"

"My aversion to Mme. Reni? It is only when----"

"No, your caring to live with her when you feel
that aversion. It seems to me an insult to her as
a woman and as----"

"A woman!" He burst out laughing harshly.
"Is THAT what you call a woman? 'Madame, ce
n'est que pour rire!'"

"That is not fair!" she said. "You have no
right to speak of her in that way to anyone--
especially to another woman!"

He turned away, and lay with wide-open eyes,
looking out of the window at the sinking sun. She
lowered the blind and closed the shutters, that he
might not see it set; then sat down at the table
by the other window and took up her knitting
again.

"Would you like the lamp?" she asked after a moment.

He shook his head.

When it grew too dark to see, Gemma rolled up
her knitting and laid it in the basket. For some
time she sat with folded hands, silently watching
the Gadfly's motionless figure. The dim evening
light, falling on his face, seemed to soften away its
hard, mocking, self-assertive look, and to deepen
the tragic lines about the mouth. By some fanciful
association of ideas her memory went vividly
back to the stone cross which her father had set
up in memory of Arthur, and to its inscription:


  "All thy waves and billows have gone over me."


An hour passed in unbroken silence. At last
she rose and went softly out of the room. Coming
back with a lamp, she paused for a moment,
thinking that the Gadfly was asleep. As the light
fell on his face he turned round.

"I have made you a cup of coffee," she said,
setting clown the lamp.

"Put it down a minute. Will you come here,
please."

He took both her hands in his.

"I have been thinking," he said. "You are
quite right; it is an ugly tangle I have got my life
into. But remember, a man does not meet every
day a woman whom he can--love; and I--I have
been in deep waters. I am afraid----"

"Afraid----"

"Of the dark. Sometimes I DARE not be alone
at night. I must have something living--something
solid beside me. It is the outer darkness,
where shall be---- No, no! It's not that; that's
a sixpenny toy hell;--it's the INNER darkness.
There's no weeping or gnashing of teeth there;
only silence--silence----"

His eyes dilated. She was quite still, hardly
breathing till he spoke again.

"This is all mystification to you, isn't it? You
can't understand--luckily for you. What I mean
is that I have a pretty fair chance of going mad if
I try to live quite alone---- Don't think too
hardly of me, if you can help it; I am not altogether
the vicious brute you perhaps imagine me to be."

"I cannot try to judge for you," she answered.
"I have not suffered as you have. But--I have
been in rather deep water too, in another way; and
I think--I am sure--that if you let the fear of anything
drive you to do a really cruel or unjust or
ungenerous thing, you will regret it afterwards.
For the rest--if you have failed in this one thing,
I know that I, in your place, should have failed
altogether,--should have cursed God and died."

He still kept her hands in his.

"Tell me," he said very softly; "have you ever
in your life done a really cruel thing?"

She did not answer, but her head sank down,
and two great tears fell on his hand.

"Tell me!" he whispered passionately, clasping
her hands tighter. "Tell me! I have told you
all my misery."

"Yes,--once,--long ago. And I did it to the
person I loved best in the world."

The hands that clasped hers were trembling violently;
but they did not loosen their hold.

"He was a comrade," she went on; "and I believed
a slander against him,--a common glaring
lie that the police had invented. I struck him in
the face for a traitor; and he went away and
drowned himself. Then, two days later, I found
out that he had been quite innocent. Perhaps
that is a worse memory than any of yours. I
would cut off my right hand to undo what it has done."

Something swift and dangerous--something
that she had not seen before,--flashed into his
eyes. He bent his head down with a furtive, sudden
gesture and kissed the hand.

She drew back with a startled face. "Don't!"
she cried out piteously. "Please don't ever do
that again! You hurt me!"

"Do you think you didn't hurt the man you
killed?"

"The man I--killed---- Ah, there is Cesare
at the gate at last! I--I must go!"

      .      .      .      .      .

When Martini came into the room he found the
Gadfly lying alone with the untouched coffee beside
him, swearing softly to himself in a languid,
spiritless way, as though he got no satisfaction
out of it.



CHAPTER IX.

A FEW days later, the Gadfly, still rather pale and
limping more than usual, entered the reading
room of the public library and asked for Cardinal
Montanelli's sermons. Riccardo, who was reading
at a table near him, looked up. He liked the
Gadfly very much, but could not digest this one
trait in him--this curious personal maliciousness.

"Are you preparing another volley against that
unlucky Cardinal?" he asked half irritably.

"My dear fellow, why do you a-a-always attribute
evil m-m-motives to people? It's m-most
unchristian. I am preparing an essay on contemporary
theology for the n-n-new paper."

"What new paper?" Riccardo frowned. It
was perhaps an open secret that a new press-law
was expected and that the Opposition was preparing
to astonish the town with a radical newspaper;
but still it was, formally, a secret.

"The Swindlers' Gazette, of course, or the
Church Calendar."

"Sh-sh! Rivarez, we are disturbing the other
readers."

"Well then, stick to your surgery, if that's
your subject, and l-l-leave me to th-theology--
that's mine. I d-d-don't interfere with your
treatment of broken bones, though I know a
p-p-precious lot more about them than you do."

He sat down to his volume of sermons with an
intent and preoccupied face. One of the librarians
came up to him.

"Signor Rivarez! I think you were in the
Duprez expedition, exploring the tributaries of the
Amazon? Perhaps you will kindly help us in a
difficulty. A lady has been inquiring for the
records of the expedition, and they are at the
binder's."

"What does she want to know?"

"Only in what year the expedition started and
when it passed through Ecuador."

"It started from Paris in the autumn of 1837,
and passed through Quito in April, 1838. We
were three years in Brazil; then went down to Rio
and got back to Paris in the summer of 1841.
Does the lady want the dates of the separate
discoveries?"

"No, thank you; only these. I have written
them down. Beppo, take this paper to Signora
Bolla, please. Many thanks, Signor Rivarez. I
am sorry to have troubled you."

The Gadfly leaned back in his chair with a perplexed
frown. What did she want the dates for?
When they passed through Ecuador----

Gemma went home with the slip of paper in her
hand. April, 1838--and Arthur had died in May,
1833. Five years--

She began pacing up and down her room. She
had slept badly the last few nights, and there were
dark shadows under her eyes.

Five years;--and an "overluxurious home"--
and "someone he had trusted had deceived him"
--had deceived him--and he had found it out----

She stopped and put up both hands to her head.
Oh, this was utterly mad--it was not possible--it
was absurd----

And yet, how they had dragged that harbour!

Five years--and he was "not twenty-one"
when the Lascar---- Then he must have been
nineteen when he ran away from home. Had he
not said: "A year and a half----" Where did he
get those blue eyes from, and that nervous restlessness
of the fingers? And why was he so bitter
against Montanelli? Five years--five years------

If she could but know that he was drowned--if
she could but have seen the body; some day,
surely, the old wound would have left off aching,
the old memory would have lost its terrors. Perhaps
in another twenty years she would have
learned to look back without shrinking.

All her youth had been poisoned by the thought
of what she had done. Resolutely, day after day
and year after year, she had fought against the
demon of remorse. Always she had remembered
that her work lay in the future; always had shut
her eyes and ears to the haunting spectre of the
past. And day after day, year after year, the
image of the drowned body drifting out to sea had
never left her, and the bitter cry that she could not
silence had risen in her heart: "I have killed
Arthur! Arthur is dead!" Sometimes it had
seemed to her that her burden was too heavy to
be borne.

Now she would have given half her life to have
that burden back again. If she had killed him--
that was a familiar grief; she had endured it too
long to sink under it now. But if she had driven
him, not into the water but into------ She sat
down, covering her eyes with both hands. And
her life had been darkened for his sake, because he
was dead! If she had brought upon him nothing
worse than death----

Steadily, pitilessly she went back, step by step,
through the hell of his past life. It was as vivid
to her as though she had seen and felt it all; the
helpless shivering of the naked soul, the mockery
that was bitterer than death, the horror of
loneliness, the slow, grinding, relentless agony. It
was as vivid as if she had sat beside him in the
filthy Indian hut; as if she had suffered with him in
the silver-mines, the coffee fields, the horrible
variety show--

The variety show---- No, she must shut out
that image, at least; it was enough to drive one
mad to sit and think of it.

She opened a little drawer in her writing-desk.
It contained the few personal relics which she
could not bring herself to destroy. She was
not given to the hoarding up of sentimental
trifles; and the preservation of these keepsakes
was a concession to that weaker side of her
nature which she kept under with so steady a
hand. She very seldom allowed herself to look
at them.

Now she took them out, one after another:
Giovanni's first letter to her, and the flowers that
had lain in his dead hand; a lock of her baby's
hair and a withered leaf from her father's grave.
At the back of the drawer was a miniature portrait
of Arthur at ten years old--the only existing
likeness of him.

She sat down with it in her hands and looked
at the beautiful childish head, till the face of the
real Arthur rose up afresh before her. How clear
it was in every detail! The sensitive lines of the
mouth, the wide, earnest eyes, the seraphic purity
of expression--they were graven in upon her
memory, as though he had died yesterday.
Slowly the blinding tears welled up and hid the
portrait.

Oh, how could she have thought such a thing!
It was like sacrilege even to dream of this bright,
far-off spirit, bound to the sordid miseries of life.
Surely the gods had loved him a little, and had let
him die young! Better a thousand times that he
should pass into utter nothingness than that he
should live and be the Gadfly--the Gadfly, with
his faultless neckties and his doubtful witticisms,
his bitter tongue and his ballet girl! No, no! It
was all a horrible, senseless fancy; and she had
vexed her heart with vain imaginings. Arthur
was dead.

"May I come in?" asked a soft voice at the
door.

She started so that the portrait fell from her
hand, and the Gadfly, limping across the room,
picked it up and handed it to her.

"How you startled me!" she said.

"I am s-so sorry. Perhaps I am disturbing
you?"

"No. I was only turning over some old
things."

She hesitated for a moment; then handed him
back the miniature.

"What do you think of that head?"

While he looked at it she watched his face as
though her life depended upon its expression; but
it was merely negative and critical.

"You have set me a difficult task," he said.
"The portrait is faded, and a child's face is always
hard to read. But I should think that child would
grow into an unlucky man, and the wisest thing
he could do would be to abstain from growing into
a man at all."

"Why?"

"Look at the line of the under-lip. Th-th-that
is the sort of nature that feels pain as pain and
wrong as wrong; and the world has no r-r-room
for such people; it needs people who feel nothing
but their work."

"Is it at all like anyone you know?"

He looked at the portrait more closely.

"Yes. What a curious thing! Of course it
is; very like."

"Like whom?"

"C-c-cardinal Montan-nelli. I wonder whether
his irreproachable Eminence has any nephews, by
the way? Who is it, if I may ask?"

"It is a portrait, taken in childhood, of the
friend I told you about the other day----"

"Whom you killed?"

She winced in spite of herself. How lightly,
how cruelly he used that dreadful word!

"Yes, whom I killed--if he is really dead."

"If?"

She kept her eyes on his face.

"I have sometimes doubted," she said. "The
body was never found. He may have run away
from home, like you, and gone to South America."

"Let us hope not. That would be a bad memory
to carry about with you. I have d-d-done
some hard fighting in my t-time, and have sent
m-more than one man to Hades, perhaps; but if
I had it on my conscience that I had sent any l-living
thing to South America, I should sleep badly----"

"Then do you believe," she interrupted, coming
nearer to him with clasped hands, "that if he were
not drowned,--if he had been through your experience
instead,--he would never come back and
let the past go? Do you believe he would NEVER
forget? Remember, it has cost me something,
too. Look!"

She pushed back the heavy waves of hair from
her forehead. Through the black locks ran a
broad white streak.

There was a long silence.

"I think," the Gadfly said slowly, "that the
dead are better dead. Forgetting some things is
a difficult matter. And if I were in the place of
your dead friend, I would s-s-stay dead. The
REVENANT is an ugly spectre."

She put the portrait back into its drawer and
locked the desk.

"That is hard doctrine," she said. "And now
we will talk about something else."

"I came to have a little business talk with you,
if I may--a private one, about a plan that I have
in my head."

She drew a chair to the table and sat down.
"What do you think of the projected press-law?"
he began, without a trace of his usual stammer.

"What I think of it? I think it will not be of
much value, but half a loaf is better than no
bread."

"Undoubtedly. Then do you intend to work
on one of the new papers these good folk here are
preparing to start?"

"I thought of doing so. There is always a
great deal of practical work to be done in starting
any paper--printing and circulation arrangements
and----"

"How long are you going to waste your mental
gifts in that fashion?"

"Why 'waste'?"

"Because it is waste. You know quite well
that you have a far better head than most of the
men you are working with, and you let them make
a regular drudge and Johannes factotum of you.
Intellectually you are as far ahead of Grassini and
Galli as if they were schoolboys; yet you sit correcting
their proofs like a printer's devil."

"In the first place, I don't spend all my time
in correcting proofs; and moreover it seems to me
that you exaggerate my mental capacities. They
are by no means so brilliant as you think."

"I don't think them brilliant at all," he answered
quietly; "but I do think them sound and
solid, which is of much more importance. At
those dreary committee meetings it is always you
who put your finger on the weak spot in everybody's logic."

"You are not fair to the others. Martini, for
instance, has a very logical head, and there is no
doubt about the capacities of Fabrizi and Lega. Then
Grassini has a sounder knowledge of Italian economic
statistics than any official in the country, perhaps."

"Well, that's not saying much; but let us lay
them and their capacities aside. The fact remains
that you, with such gifts as you possess, might do
more important work and fill a more responsible
post than at present."

"I am quite satisfied with my position. The
work I am doing is not of very much value, perhaps,
but we all do what we can."

"Signora Bolla, you and I have gone too far to
play at compliments and modest denials now.
Tell me honestly, do you recognize that you are
using up your brain on work which persons inferior
to you could do as well?"

"Since you press me for an answer--yes, to
some extent."

"Then why do you let that go on?"

No answer.

"Why do you let it go on?"

"Because--I can't help it."

"Why?"

She looked up reproachfully. "That is unkind
--it's not fair to press me so."

"But all the same you are going to tell me why."

"If you must have it, then--because my life has
been smashed into pieces, and I have not the
energy to start anything REAL, now. I am about
fit to be a revolutionary cab-horse, and do the
party's drudge-work. At least I do it conscientiously,
and it must be done by somebody."

"Certainly it must be done by somebody; but
not always by the same person."

"It's about all I'm fit for."

He looked at her with half-shut eyes, inscrutably.
Presently she raised her head.

"We are returning to the old subject; and this
was to be a business talk. It is quite useless, I
assure you, to tell me I might have done all sorts
of things. I shall never do them now. But I may
be able to help you in thinking out your plan.
What is it?"

"You begin by telling me that it is useless for
me to suggest anything, and then ask what I want
to suggest. My plan requires your help in action,
not only in thinking out."

"Let me hear it and then we will discuss."

"Tell me first whether you have heard anything
about schemes for a rising in Venetia."

"I have heard of nothing but schemes for risings
and Sanfedist plots ever since the amnesty,
and I fear I am as sceptical about the one as about
the other."

"So am I, in most cases; but I am speaking of
really serious preparations for a rising of the whole
province against the Austrians. A good many
young fellows in the Papal States--particularly in
the Four Legations--are secretly preparing to get
across there and join as volunteers. And I hear
from my friends in the Romagna----"

"Tell me," she interrupted, "are you quite sure
that these friends of yours can be trusted?"

"Quite sure. I know them personally, and
have worked with them."

"That is, they are members of the 'sect' to
which you belong? Forgive my scepticism, but I
am always a little doubtful as to the accuracy of
information received from secret societies. It
seems to me that the habit----"

"Who told you I belonged to a 'sect'?" he interrupted sharply.

"No one; I guessed it."

"Ah!" He leaned back in his chair and looked
at her, frowning. "Do you always guess people's
private affairs?" he said after a moment.

"Very often. I am rather observant, and have
a habit of putting things together. I tell you that
so that you may be careful when you don't want
me to know a thing."

"I don't mind your knowing anything so long as it
goes no further. I suppose this has not----"

She lifted her head with a gesture of half-offended
surprise. "Surely that is an unnecessary question!" she said.

"Of course I know you would not speak of anything
to outsiders; but I thought that perhaps, to
the members of your party----"

"The party's business is with facts, not with
my personal conjectures and fancies. Of course
I have never mentioned the subject to anyone."

"Thank you. Do you happen to have guessed
which sect I belong to?"

"I hope--you must not take offence at my
frankness; it was you who started this talk, you
know---- I do hope it is not the 'Knifers.'"

"Why do you hope that?"

"Because you are fit for better things."

"We are all fit for better things than we ever
do. There is your own answer back again. However,
it is not the 'Knifers' that I belong to, but
the 'Red Girdles.' They are a steadier lot, and
take their work more seriously."

"Do you mean the work of knifing?"

"That, among other things. Knives are very
useful in their way; but only when you have a
good, organized propaganda behind them. That
is what I dislike in the other sect. They think a
knife can settle all the world's difficulties; and
that's a mistake. It can settle a good many, but
not all."

"Do you honestly believe that it settles any?"

He looked at her in surprise.

"Of course," she went on, "it eliminates, for
the moment, the practical difficulty caused by the
presence of a clever spy or objectionable official;
but whether it does not create worse difficulties in
place of the one removed is another question. It
seems to me like the parable of the swept and garnished
house and the seven devils. Every assassination only
makes the police more vicious and
the people more accustomed to violence and brutality,
and the last state of the community may be
worse than the first."

"What do you think will happen when the revolution
comes? Do you suppose the people won't
have to get accustomed to violence then? War
is war."

"Yes, but open revolution is another matter.
It is one moment in the people's life, and it is the
price we have to pay for all our progress. No
doubt fearful things will happen; they must in
every revolution. But they will be isolated
facts--exceptional features of an exceptional moment.
The horrible thing about this promiscuous
knifing is that it becomes a habit. The people get
to look upon it as an every-day occurrence, and
their sense of the sacredness of human life gets
blunted. I have not been much in the Romagna,
but what little I have seen of the people has given
me the impression that they have got, or are getting,
into a mechanical habit of violence."

"Surely even that is better than a mechanical
habit of obedience and submission."

"I don't think so. All mechanical habits are
bad and slavish, and this one is ferocious as well.
Of course, if you look upon the work of the revolutionist
as the mere wresting of certain definite
concessions from the government, then the secret
sect and the knife must seem to you the best weapons,
for there is nothing else which all governments
so dread. But if you think, as I do, that to
force the government's hand is not an end in itself,
but only a means to an end, and that what we
really need to reform is the relation between man
and man, then you must go differently to work.
Accustoming ignorant people to the sight of blood
is not the way to raise the value they put on human
life."

"And the value they put on religion?"

"I don't understand."

He smiled.

"I think we differ as to where the root of the
mischief lies. You place it in a lack of appreciation
of the value of human life."

"Rather of the sacredness of human personality."

"Put it as you like. To me the great cause of
our muddles and mistakes seems to lie in the
mental disease called religion."

"Do you mean any religion in particular?"

"Oh, no! That is a mere question of external
symptoms. The disease itself is what is called a
religious attitude of mind. It is the morbid
desire to set up a fetich and adore it, to fall down
and worship something. It makes little difference
whether the something be Jesus or Buddha or a
tum-tum tree. You don't agree with me, of
course. You may be atheist or agnostic or anything
you like, but I could feel the religious temperament
in you at five yards. However, it is of
no use for us to discuss that. But you are quite
mistaken in thinking that I, for one, look upon the
knifing as merely a means of removing objectionable
officials--it is, above all, a means, and I think
the best means, of undermining the prestige of the
Church and of accustoming people to look upon
clerical agents as upon any other vermin."

"And when you have accomplished that; when
you have roused the wild beast that sleeps in the
people and set it on the Church; then----"

"Then I shall have done the work that makes it
worth my while to live."

"Is THAT the work you spoke of the other day?"

"Yes, just that."

She shivered and turned away.

"You are disappointed in me?" he said, looking
up with a smile.

"No; not exactly that. I am--I think--a little
afraid of you."

She turned round after a moment and said in
her ordinary business voice:

"This is an unprofitable discussion. Our standpoints
are too different. For my part, I believe
in propaganda, propaganda, and propaganda; and
when you can get it, open insurrection."

"Then let us come back to the question of my
plan; it has something to do with propaganda and
more with insurrection."

"Yes?"

"As I tell you, a good many volunteers are going
from the Romagna to join the Venetians.
We do not know yet how soon the insurrection
will break out. It may not be till the autumn
or winter; but the volunteers in the Apennines
must be armed and ready, so that they may be
able to start for the plains directly they are
sent for. I have undertaken to smuggle the
firearms and ammunition on to Papal territory for
them----"

"Wait a minute. How do you come to be
working with that set? The revolutionists in
Lombardy and Venetia are all in favour of the new
Pope. They are going in for liberal reforms, hand
in hand with the progressive movement in the
Church. How can a 'no-compromise' anti-clerical
like you get on with them?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "What is it to me
if they like to amuse themselves with a rag-doll,
so long as they do their work? Of course they
will take the Pope for a figurehead. What have
I to do with that, if only the insurrection gets
under way somehow? Any stick will do to beat
a dog with, I suppose, and any cry to set the people
on the Austrians."

"What is it you want me to do?"

"Chiefly to help me get the firearms across."

"But how could I do that?"

"You are just the person who could do it best.
I think of buying the arms in England, and there
is a good deal of difficulty about bringing them
over. It's impossible to get them through any
of the Pontifical sea-ports; they must come by
Tuscany, and go across the Apennines."

"That makes two frontiers to cross instead of
one."

"Yes; but the other way is hopeless; you can't
smuggle a big transport in at a harbour where there
is no trade, and you know the whole shipping of
Civita Vecchia amounts to about three row-boats
and a fishing smack. If we once get the things
across Tuscany, I can manage the Papal frontier;
my men know every path in the mountains, and we
have plenty of hiding-places. The transport must
come by sea to Leghorn, and that is my great difficulty;
I am not in with the smugglers there, and
I believe you are."

"Give me five minutes to think."

She leaned forward, resting one elbow on her
knee, and supporting the chin on the raised hand.
After a few moments' silence she looked up.

"It is possible that I might be of some use in
that part of the work," she said; "but before we go
any further, I want to ask you a question. Can
you give me your word that this business is not
connected with any stabbing or secret violence of
any kind?"

"Certainly. It goes without saying that I
should not have asked you to join in a thing of
which I know you disapprove."

"When do you want a definite answer from
me?"

"There is not much time to lose; but I can give
you a few days to decide in."

"Are you free next Saturday evening?"

"Let me see--to-day is Thursday; yes."

"Then come here. I will think the matter over
and give you a final answer."

      .      .      .      .      .

On the following Sunday Gemma sent in to the
committee of the Florentine branch of the Mazzinian
party a statement that she wished to undertake
a special work of a political nature, which
would for a few months prevent her from performing
the functions for which she had up till now
been responsible to the party.

Some surprise was felt at this announcement,
but the committee raised no objection; she had
been known in the party for several years as a person
whose judgment might be trusted; and the
members agreed that if Signora Bolla took an unexpected
step, she probably had good reasons for it.

To Martini she said frankly that she had undertaken
to help the Gadfly with some "frontier
work." She had stipulated for the right to tell her
old friend this much, in order that there might be
no misunderstanding or painful sense of doubt and
mystery between them. It seemed to her that she
owed him this proof of confidence. He made no
comment when she told him; but she saw, without
knowing why, that the news had wounded
him deeply.

They were sitting on the terrace of her lodging,
looking out over the red roofs to Fiesole. After
a long silence, Martini rose and began tramping
up and down with his hands in his pockets, whistling
to himself--a sure sign with him of mental agitation.
She sat looking at him for a little while.

"Cesare, you are worried about this affair," she
said at last. "I am very sorry you feel so despondent
over it; but I could decide only as seemed
right to me."

"It is not the affair," he answered, sullenly;
"I know nothing about it, and it probably is all
right, once you have consented to go into it. It's
the MAN I distrust."

"I think you misunderstand him; I did till I
got to know him better. He is far from perfect,
but there is much more good in him than you
think."

"Very likely." For a moment he tramped to
and fro in silence, then suddenly stopped beside
her.

"Gemma, give it up! Give it up before it is too
late! Don't let that man drag you into things
you will repent afterwards."

"Cesare," she said gently, "you are not thinking
what you are saying. No one is dragging me
into anything. I have made this decision of my
own will, after thinking the matter well over alone.
You have a personal dislike to Rivarez, I know;
but we are talking of politics now, not of persons."

"Madonna! Give it up! That man is dangerous;
he is secret, and cruel, and unscrupulous--
and he is in love with you!"

She drew back.

"Cesare, how can you get such fancies into your
head?"

"He is in love with you," Martini repeated.
"Keep clear of him, Madonna!"

"Dear Cesare, I can't keep clear of him; and I
can't explain to you why. We are tied together--
not by any wish or doing of our own."

"If you are tied, there is nothing more to say,"
Martini answered wearily.

He went away, saying that he was busy, and
tramped for hours up and down the muddy streets.
The world looked very black to him that evening.
One poor ewe-lamb--and this slippery creature
had stepped in and stolen it away.



CHAPTER X.

TOWARDS the middle of February the Gadfly
went to Leghorn. Gemma had introduced him to
a young Englishman there, a shipping-agent of
liberal views, whom she and her husband had
known in England. He had on several occasions
performed little services for the Florentine radicals:
had lent money to meet an unforeseen emergency,
had allowed his business address to be used
for the party's letters, etc.; but always through
Gemma's mediumship, and as a private friend of
hers. She was, therefore, according to party
etiquette, free to make use of the connexion in
any way that might seem good to her. Whether
any use could be got out of it was quite another
question. To ask a friendly sympathizer to lend
his address for letters from Sicily or to keep a
few documents in a corner of his counting-house
safe was one thing; to ask him to smuggle over a
transport of firearms for an insurrection was
another; and she had very little hope of his
consenting.

"You can but try," she had said to the Gadfly;
"but I don't think anything will come of it. If
you were to go to him with that recommendation
and ask for five hundred scudi, I dare say he'd give
them to you at once--he's exceedingly generous,
--and perhaps at a pinch he would lend you
his passport or hide a fugitive in his cellar; but if
you mention such a thing as rifles he will stare at
you and think we're both demented."

"Perhaps he may give me a few hints, though,
or introduce me to a friendly sailor or two," the
Gadfly had answered. "Anyway, it's worth while
to try."

One day at the end of the month he came into
her study less carefully dressed than usual, and she
saw at once from his face that he had good news
to tell.

"Ah, at last! I was beginning to think something
must have happened to you!"

"I thought it safer not to write, and I couldn't
get back sooner."

"You have just arrived?"

"Yes; I am straight from the diligence; I
looked in to tell you that the affair is all settled."

"Do you mean that Bailey has really consented
to help?"

"More than to help; he has undertaken the
whole thing,--packing, transports,--everything.
The rifles will be hidden in bales of merchandise
and will come straight through from England.
His partner, Williams, who is a great friend of his,
has consented to see the transport off from Southampton,
and Bailey will slip it through the
custom house at Leghorn. That is why I have
been such a long time; Williams was just starting
for Southampton, and I went with him as far as
Genoa."

"To talk over details on the way?"

"Yes, as long as I wasn't too sea-sick to talk
about anything."

"Are you a bad sailor?" she asked quickly, remembering
how Arthur had suffered from sea-sickness one day when her
father had taken them both for a pleasure-trip.

"About as bad as is possible, in spite of having
been at sea so much. But we had a talk
while they were loading at Genoa. You know
Williams, I think? He's a thoroughly good fellow,
trustworthy and sensible; so is Bailey, for
that matter; and they both know how to hold
their tongues."

"It seems to me, though, that Bailey is running
a serious risk in doing a thing like this."

"So I told him, and he only looked sulky and
said: 'What business is that of yours?' Just the
sort of thing one would expect him to say. If I
met Bailey in Timbuctoo, I should go up to him
and say: 'Good-morning, Englishman.'"

"But I can't conceive how you managed to get
their consent; Williams, too; the last man I
should have thought of."

"Yes, he objected strongly at first; not on the
ground of danger, though, but because the thing
is 'so unbusiness-like.' But I managed to win
him over after a bit. And now we will go into
details."

      .      .      .      .      .

When the Gadfly reached his lodgings the sun
had set, and the blossoming pyrus japonica that
hung over the garden wall looked dark in the fading
light. He gathered a few sprays and carried
them into the house. As he opened the study
door, Zita started up from a chair in the corner and
ran towards him.

"Oh, Felice; I thought you were never coming!"

His first impulse was to ask her sharply what
business she had in his study; but, remembering
that he had not seen her for three weeks, he held
out his hand and said, rather frigidly:

"Good-evening, Zita; how are you?"

She put up her face to be kissed, but he moved
past as though he had not seen the gesture, and
took up a vase to put the pyrus in. The next
instant the door was flung wide open, and the
collie, rushing into the room, performed an ecstatic
dance round him, barking and whining with delight.
He put down the flowers and stooped to pat the dog.

"Well, Shaitan, how are you, old man? Yes,
it's really I. Shake hands, like a good dog!"

The hard, sullen look came into Zita's face.

"Shall we go to dinner?" she asked coldly. "I
ordered it for you at my place, as you wrote that
you were coming this evening."

He turned round quickly.

"I am v-v-very sorry; you sh-should not have
waited for me! I will just get a bit tidy and
come round at once. P-perhaps you would not
mind putting these into water."

When he came into Zita's dining room she was
standing before a mirror, fastening one of the
sprays into her dress. She had apparently made
up her mind to be good-humoured, and came up to
him with a little cluster of crimson buds tied
together.

"Here is a buttonhole for you; let me put it in
your coat."

All through dinner-time he did his best to be
amiable, and kept up a flow of small-talk, to which
she responded with radiant smiles. Her evident
joy at his return somewhat embarrassed him;
he had grown so accustomed to the idea that she
led her own life apart from his, among such friends
and companions as were congenial to her, that it
had never occurred to him to imagine her as missing
him. And yet she must have felt dull to be
so much excited now.

"Let us have coffee up on the terrace," she said;
"it is quite warm this evening."

"Very well. Shall I take your guitar? Perhaps
you will sing."

She flushed with delight; he was critical about
music and did not often ask her to sing.

On the terrace was a broad wooden bench running
round the walls. The Gadfly chose a corner
with a good view of the hills, and Zita, seating herself
on the low wall with her feet on the bench,
leaned back against a pillar of the roof. She did
not care much for scenery; she preferred to look at
the Gadfly.

"Give me a cigarette," she said. "I don't believe
I have smoked once since you went away."

"Happy thought! It's just s-s-smoke I want
to complete my bliss."

She leaned forward and looked at him earnestly.

"Are you really happy?"

The Gadfly's mobile brows went up.

"Yes; why not? I have had a good dinner; I
am looking at one of the m-most beautiful views
in Europe; and now I'm going to have coffee and
hear a Hungarian folk-song. There is nothing the
matter with either my conscience or my digestion;
what more can man desire?"

"I know another thing you desire."

"What?"

"That!" She tossed a little cardboard box
into his hand.

"B-burnt almonds! Why d-didn't you tell me
before I began to s-smoke?" he cried reproachfully.

"Why, you baby! you can eat them when you
have done smoking. There comes the coffee."

The Gadfly sipped his coffee and ate his burnt
almonds with the grave and concentrated enjoyment
of a cat drinking cream.

"How nice it is to come back to d-decent coffee,
after the s-s-stuff one gets at Leghorn!" he said
in his purring drawl.

"A very good reason for stopping at home now
you are here."

"Not much stopping for me; I'm off again
to-morrow."

The smile died on her face.

"To-morrow! What for? Where are you going to?"

"Oh! two or three p-p-places, on business."

It had been decided between him and Gemma
that he must go in person into the Apennines to
make arrangements with the smugglers of the
frontier region about the transporting of the firearms.
To cross the Papal frontier was for him a
matter of serious danger; but it had to be done if
the work was to succeed.

"Always business!" Zita sighed under her
breath; and then asked aloud:

"Shall you be gone long?"

"No; only a fortnight or three weeks, p-p-probably."

"I suppose it's some of THAT business?" she
asked abruptly.

"'That' business?"

"The business you're always trying to get your
neck broken over--the everlasting politics."

"It has something to do with p-p-politics."

Zita threw away her cigarette.

"You are fooling me," she said. "You are
going into some danger or other."

"I'm going s-s-straight into the inf-fernal regions,"
he answered languidly. "D-do you happen to have any friends
there you want to send that ivy to? You n-needn't pull it
all down, though."

She had fiercely torn off a handful of the climber
from the pillar, and now flung it down with vehement anger.

"You are going into danger," she repeated;
"and you won't even say so honestly! Do you
think I am fit for nothing but to be fooled and
joked with? You will get yourself hanged one of
these days, and never so much as say good-bye.
It's always politics and politics--I'm sick of
politics!"

"S-so am I," said the Gadfly, yawning lazily;
"and therefore we'll talk about something else--
unless you will sing."

"Well, give me the guitar, then. What shall I sing?"

"The ballad of the lost horse; it suits your voice
so well."

She began to sing the old Hungarian ballad of
the man who loses first his horse, then his home,
and then his sweetheart, and consoles himself with
the reflection that "more was lost at Mohacz
field." The song was one of the Gadfly's especial
favourites; its fierce and tragic melody and the
bitter stoicism of the refrain appealed to him as
no softer music ever did.

Zita was in excellent voice; the notes came
from her lips strong and clear, full of the vehement
desire of life. She would have sung Italian or
Slavonic music badly, and German still worse; but
she sang the Magyar folk-songs splendidly.

The Gadfly listened with wide-open eyes and
parted lips; he had never heard her sing like this
before. As she came to the last line, her voice
began suddenly to shake.


     "Ah, no matter! More was lost----"


She broke down with a sob and hid her face
among the ivy leaves.

"Zita!" The Gadfly rose and took the guitar
from her hand. "What is it?"

She only sobbed convulsively, hiding her face in
both hands. He touched her on the arm.

"Tell me what is the matter," he said caressingly.

"Let me alone!" she sobbed, shrinking away.
"Let me alone!"

He went quietly back to his seat and waited till the
sobs died away. Suddenly he felt her arms about his neck;
she was kneeling on the floor beside him.

"Felice--don't go! Don't go away!"

"We will talk about that afterwards," he said,
gently extricating himself from the clinging arms.
"Tell me first what has upset you so. Has anything
been frightening you?"

She silently shook her head.

"Have I done anything to hurt you?"

"No." She put a hand up against his throat.

"What, then?"

"You will get killed," she whispered at last.
"I heard one of those men that come here say the
other day that you will get into trouble--and
when I ask you about it you laugh at me!"

"My dear child," the Gadfly said, after a little
pause of astonishment, "you have got some exaggerated
notion into your head. Very likely I shall
get killed some day--that is the natural consequence
of being a revolutionist. But there is no
reason to suppose I am g-g-going to get killed
just now. I am running no more risk than other
people."

"Other people--what are other people to me?
If you loved me you wouldn't go off this way and
leave me to lie awake at night, wondering whether
you're arrested, or dream you are dead whenever
I go to sleep. You don't care as much for me as
for that dog there!"

The Gadfly rose and walked slowly to the other
end of the terrace. He was quite unprepared for
such a scene as this and at a loss how to answer
her. Yes, Gemma was right; he had got his life into
a tangle that he would have hard work to undo.

"Sit down and let us talk about it quietly," he
said, coming back after a moment. "I think we
have misunderstood each other; of course I should
not have laughed if I had thought you were serious.
Try to tell me plainly what is troubling you;
and then, if there is any misunderstanding, we
may be able to clear it up."

"There's nothing to clear up. I can see you
don't care a brass farthing for me."

"My dear child, we had better be quite frank
with each other. I have always tried to be honest
about our relationship, and I think I have never
deceived you as to----"

"Oh, no! you have been honest enough; you
have never even pretended to think of me as anything
else but a prostitute,--a trumpery bit of
second-hand finery that plenty of other men have
had before you--"

"Hush, Zita! I have never thought that way
about any living thing."

"You have never loved me," she insisted sullenly.

"No, I have never loved you. Listen to me,
and try to think as little harm of me as you can."

"Who said I thought any harm of you? I----"

"Wait a minute. This is what I want to say:
I have no belief whatever in conventional moral
codes, and no respect for them. To me the relations
between men and women are simply questions of
personal likes and dislikes------"

"And of money," she interrupted with a harsh
little laugh. He winced and hesitated a moment.

"That, of course, is the ugly part of the matter.
But believe me, if I had thought that you disliked
me, or felt any repulsion to the thing, I would
never have suggested it, or taken advantage of
your position to persuade you to it. I have never
done that to any woman in my life, and I have
never told a woman a lie about my feeling for her.
You may trust me that I am speaking the truth----"

He paused a moment, but she did not answer.

"I thought," he went on; "that if a man is
alone in the world and feels the need of--of a
woman's presence about him, and if he can find
a woman who is attractive to him and to whom he
is not repulsive, he has a right to accept, in a grateful
and friendly spirit, such pleasure as that woman
is willing to give him, without entering into any
closer bond. I saw no harm in the thing, provided
only there is no unfairness or insult or deceit
on either side. As for your having been in that
relation with other men before I met you, I did
not think about that. I merely thought that the
connexion would be a pleasant and harmless one
for both of us, and that either was free to break
it as soon as it became irksome. If I was mistaken
--if you have grown to look upon it differently--
then----"

He paused again.

"Then?" she whispered, without looking up.

"Then I have done you a wrong, and I am very
sorry. But I did not mean to do it."

"You 'did not mean' and you 'thought'----
Felice, are you made of cast iron? Have you never
been in love with a woman in your life that you
can't see I love you?"

A sudden thrill went through him; it was so
long since anyone had said to him: "I love you."
Instantly she started up and flung her arms round
him.

"Felice, come away with me! Come away from
this dreadful country and all these people and their
politics! What have we got to do with them?
Come away, and we will be happy together. Let
us go to South America, where you used to live."

The physical horror of association startled
him back into self-control; he unclasped her hands
from his neck and held them in a steady grasp.

"Zita! Try to understand what I am saying
to you. I do not love you; and if I did I would
not come away with you. I have my work in
Italy, and my comrades----"

"And someone else that you love better than
me!" she cried out fiercely. "Oh, I could kill
you! It is not your comrades you care about;

it's---- I know who it is!"

"Hush!" he said quietly. "You are excited
and imagining things that are not true."

"You suppose I am thinking of Signora Bolla?
I'm not so easily duped! You only talk politics
with her; you care no more for her than you do for
me. It's that Cardinal!"

The Gadfly started as if he had been shot.

"Cardinal?" he repeated mechanically.

"Cardinal Montanelli, that came here preaching
in the autumn. Do you think I didn't see your
face when his carriage passed? You were as white
as my pocket-handkerchief! Why, you're shaking
like a leaf now because I mentioned his name!"

He stood up.

"You don't know what you are talking about,"
he said very slowly and softly. "I--hate the
Cardinal. He is the worst enemy I have."

"Enemy or no, you love him better than you
love anyone else in the world. Look me in the
face and say that is not true, if you can!"

He turned away, and looked out into the garden.
She watched him furtively, half-scared at
what she had done; there was something terrifying
in his silence. At last she stole up to him,
like a frightened child, and timidly pulled his
sleeve. He turned round.

"It is true," he said.



CHAPTER XI.

"BUT c-c-can't I meet him somewhere in the
hills? Brisighella is a risky place for me."

"Every inch of ground in the Romagna is
risky for you; but just at this moment Brisighella
is safer for you than any other place."

"Why?"

"I'll tell you in a minute. Don't let that man
with the blue jacket see your face; he's dangerous.
Yes; it was a terrible storm; I don't remember to
have seen the vines so bad for a long time."

The Gadfly spread his arms on the table, and
laid his face upon them, like a man overcome with
fatigue or wine; and the dangerous new-comer in
the blue jacket, glancing swiftly round, saw only
two farmers discussing their crops over a flask of
wine and a sleepy mountaineer with his head on
the table. It was the usual sort of thing to see in
little places like Marradi; and the owner of the
blue jacket apparently made up his mind that
nothing could be gained by listening; for he drank
his wine at a gulp and sauntered into the outer
room. There he stood leaning on the counter and
gossiping lazily with the landlord, glancing every
now and then out of the corner of one eye through
the open door, beyond which sat the three figures
at the table. The two farmers went on sipping
their wine and discussing the weather in the local
dialect, and the Gadfly snored like a man whose
conscience is sound.

At last the spy seemed to make up his mind that
there was nothing in the wine-shop worth further
waste of his time. He paid his reckoning, and,
lounging out of the house, sauntered away down
the narrow street. The Gadfly, yawning and
stretching, lifted himself up and sleepily rubbed
the sleeve of his linen blouse across his eyes.

"Pretty sharp practice that," he said, pulling
a clasp-knife out of his pocket and cutting off a
chunk from the rye-loaf on the table. "Have
they been worrying you much lately, Michele?"

"They've been worse than mosquitos in August.
There's no getting a minute's peace; wherever
one goes, there's always a spy hanging about.
Even right up in the hills, where they used to be
so shy about venturing, they have taken to coming
in bands of three or four--haven't they, Gino?
That's why we arranged for you to meet Domenichino
in the town."

"Yes; but why Brisighella? A frontier town
is always full of spies."

"Brisighella just now is a capital place. It's
swarming with pilgrims from all parts of the country."

"But it's not on the way to anywhere."

"It's not far out of the way to Rome, and many
of the Easter Pilgrims are going round to hear
Mass there."

"I d-d-didn't know there was anything special
in Brisighella."

"There's the Cardinal. Don't you remember
his going to Florence to preach last December?
It's that same Cardinal Montanelli. They say he
made a great sensation."

"I dare say; I don't go to hear sermons."

"Well, he has the reputation of being a saint,
you see."

"How does he manage that?"

"I don't know. I suppose it's because he gives
away all his income, and lives like a parish priest
with four or five hundred scudi a year."

"Ah!" interposed the man called Gino; "but
it's more than that. He doesn't only give away
money; he spends his whole life in looking after
the poor, and seeing the sick are properly treated,
and hearing complaints and grievances from morning
till night. I'm no fonder of priests than you
are, Michele, but Monsignor Montanelli is not like
other Cardinals."

"Oh, I dare say he's more fool than knave!"
said Michele. "Anyhow, the people are mad after
him, and the last new freak is for the pilgrims to
go round that way to ask his blessing. Domenichino
thought of going as a pedlar, with a basket
of cheap crosses and rosaries. The people like to
buy those things and ask the Cardinal to touch
them; then they put them round their babies'
necks to keep off the evil eye."

"Wait a minute. How am I to go--as a pilgrim?
This make-up suits me p-pretty well, I think; but
it w-won't do for me to show myself in Brisighella
in the same character that I had here; it would be
ev-v-vidence against you if I get taken."

"You won't get taken; we have a splendid
disguise for you, with a passport and all complete."

"What is it?"

"An old Spanish pilgrim--a repentant brigand
from the Sierras. He fell ill in Ancona last year,
and one of our friends took him on board a trading-vessel
out of charity, and set him down in Venice, where he had
friends, and he left his papers with us to show his
gratitude. They will just do for you."

"A repentant b-b-brigand? But w-what about
the police?"

"Oh, that's all right! He finished his term of
the galleys some years ago, and has been going
about to Jerusalem and all sorts of places saving
his soul ever since. He killed his son by mistake
for somebody else, and gave himself up to the
police in a fit of remorse."

"Was he quite old?"

"Yes; but a white beard and wig will set that
right, and the description suits you to perfection
in every other respect. He was an old soldier,
with a lame foot and a sabre-cut across the face
like yours; and then his being a Spaniard, too--
you see, if you meet any Spanish pilgrims, you can
talk to them all right."

"Where am I to meet Domenichino?"

"You join the pilgrims at the cross-road that
we will show you on the map, saying you had lost
your way in the hills. Then, when you reach the
town, you go with the rest of them into the marketplace,
in front of the Cardinal's palace."

"Oh, he manages to live in a p-palace, then,
in s-spite of being a saint?"

"He lives in one wing of it, and has turned the
rest into a hospital. Well, you all wait there for
him to come out and give his benediction, and
Domenichino will come up with his basket and
say: "Are you one of the pilgrims, father?" and
you answer: 'I am a miserable sinner.' Then he
puts down his basket and wipes his face with his
sleeve, and you offer him six soldi for a rosary."

"Then, of course, he arranges where we can talk?"

"Yes; he will have plenty of time to give you
the address of the meeting-place while the people
are gaping at Montanelli. That was our plan; but
if you don't like it, we can let Domenichino know
and arrange something else."

"No; it will do; only see that the beard and
wig look natural."

      .      .      .      .      .

"Are you one of the pilgrims, father?"

The Gadfly, sitting on the steps of the episcopal
palace, looked up from under his ragged white
locks, and gave the password in a husky, trembling
voice, with a strong foreign accent. Domenichino
slipped the leather strap from his shoulder,
and set down his basket of pious gewgaws on the
step. The crowd of peasants and pilgrims sitting
on the steps and lounging about the market-place
was taking no notice of them, but for precaution's
sake they kept up a desultory conversation, Domenichino
speaking in the local dialect and the Gadfly in
broken Italian, intermixed with Spanish words.

"His Eminence! His Eminence is coming
out!" shouted the people by the door. "Stand
aside! His Eminence is coming!"

They both stood up.

"Here, father," said Domenichino, putting into
the Gadfly's hand a little image wrapped in paper;
"take this, too, and pray for me when you get to
Rome."

The Gadfly thrust it into his breast, and turned
to look at the figure in the violet Lenten robe and
scarlet cap that was standing on the upper step
and blessing the people with outstretched arms.

Montanelli came slowly down the steps, the
people crowding about him to kiss his hands.
Many knelt down and put the hem of his cassock
to their lips as he passed.

"Peace be with you, my children!"

At the sound of the clear, silvery voice, the
Gadfly bent his head, so that the white hair fell
across his face; and Domenichino, seeing the
quivering of the pilgrim's staff in his hand, said to
himself with admiration: "What an actor!"

A woman standing near to them stooped down
and lifted her child from the step. "Come,
Cecco," she said. "His Eminence will bless you
as the dear Lord blessed the children."

The Gadfly moved a step forward and stopped.
Oh, it was hard! All these outsiders--these pilgrims
and mountaineers--could go up and speak
to him, and he would lay his hand on their children's
hair. Perhaps he would say "Carino" to
that peasant boy, as he used to say----

The Gadfly sank down again on the step, turning
away that he might not see. If only he could
shrink into some corner and stop his ears to shut
out the sound! Indeed, it was more than any man
should have to bear--to be so close, so close that
he could have put out his arm and touched the
dear hand.

"Will you not come under shelter, my friend?"
the soft voice said. "I am afraid you are chilled."

The Gadfly's heart stood still. For a moment
he was conscious of nothing but the sickening
pressure of the blood that seemed as if it would
tear his breast asunder; then it rushed back, tingling
and burning through all his body, and he
looked up. The grave, deep eyes above him grew
suddenly tender with divine compassion at the
sight of his face.

"Stand bark a little, friends," Montanelli said,
turning to the crowd; "I want to speak to him."

The people fell slowly back, whispering to each
other, and the Gadfly, sitting motionless, with
teeth clenched and eyes on the ground, felt the
gentle touch of Montanelli's hand upon his
shoulder.

"You have had some great trouble. Can I do
anything to help you?"

The Gadfly shook his head in silence.

"Are you a pilgrim?"

"I am a miserable sinner."

The accidental similarity of Montanelli's question
to the password came like a chance straw,
that the Gadfly, in his desperation, caught at, answering
automatically. He had begun to tremble
under the soft pressure of the hand that seemed
to burn upon his shoulder.

The Cardinal bent down closer to him.

"Perhaps you would care to speak to me alone?
If I can be any help to you----"

For the first time the Gadfly looked straight
and steadily into Montanelli's eyes; he was already
recovering his self-command.

"It would be no use," he said; "the thing is
hopeless."

A police official stepped forward out of the
crowd.

"Forgive my intruding, Your Eminence. I
think the old man is not quite sound in his mind.
He is perfectly harmless, and his papers are in
order, so we don't interfere with him. He has
been in penal servitude for a great crime, and is
now doing penance."

"A great crime," the Gadfly repeated, shaking
his head slowly.

"Thank you, captain; stand aside a little,
please. My friend, nothing is hopeless if a man
has sincerely repented. Will you not come to me
this evening?"

"Would Your Eminence receive a man who is
guilty of the death of his own son?"

The question had almost the tone of a challenge,
and Montanelli shrank and shivered under it as
under a cold wind.

"God forbid that I should condemn you, whatever
you have done!" he said solemnly. "In His
sight we are all guilty alike, and our righteousness
is as filthy rags. If you will come to me I will
receive you as I pray that He may one day receive me."

The Gadfly stretched out his hands with a sudden
gesture of passion.

"Listen!" he said; "and listen all of you,
Christians! If a man has killed his only son--his
son who loved and trusted him, who was flesh of
his flesh and bone of his bone; if he has led his son
into a death-trap with lies and deceit--is there
hope for that man in earth or heaven? I have
confessed my sin before God and man, and I have
suffered the punishment that men have laid on
me, and they have let me go; but when will God
say, 'It is enough'? What benediction will take
away His curse from my soul? What absolution
will undo this thing that I have done?"

In the dead silence that followed the people
looked at Montanelli, and saw the heaving of the
cross upon his breast.

He raised his eyes at last, and gave the benediction
with a hand that was not quite steady.

"God is merciful," he said. "Lay your burden
before His throne; for it is written: 'A
broken and contrite heart shalt thou not despise.'"

He turned away and walked through the market-place,
stopping everywhere to speak to the
people, and to take their children in his arms.

In the evening the Gadfly, following the directions
written on the wrapping of the image, made
his way to the appointed meeting-place. It was
the house of a local doctor, who was an active
member of the "sect." Most of the conspirators
were already assembled, and their delight at the
Gadfly's arrival gave him a new proof, if he had
needed one, of his popularity as a leader.

"We're glad enough to see you again," said the
doctor; "but we shall be gladder still to see you
go. It's a fearfully risky business, and I, for one,
was against the plan. Are you quite sure none of
those police rats noticed you in the market-place
this morning?"

"Oh, they n-noticed me enough, but they
d-didn't recognize me. Domenichino m-managed
the thing capitally. But where is he? I don't see
him."

"He has not come yet. So you got on all
smoothly? Did the Cardinal give you his blessing?"

"His blessing? Oh, that's nothing," said Domenichino,
coming in at the door. "Rivarez,
you're as full of surprises as a Christmas cake.
How many more talents are you going to astonish
us with?"

"What is it now?" asked the Gadfly languidly.
He was leaning back on a sofa, smoking a cigar.
He still wore his pilgrim's dress, but the white
beard and wig lay beside him.

"I had no idea you were such an actor. I never
saw a thing done so magnificently in my life. You
nearly moved His Eminence to tears."

"How was that? Let us hear, Rivarez."

The Gadfly shrugged his shoulders. He was in
a taciturn and laconic mood, and the others, seeing
that nothing was to be got out of him,
appealed to Domenichino to explain. When the
scene in the market-place had been related, one
young workman, who had not joined in the laughter
of the rest, remarked abruptly:

"It was very clever, of course; but I don't see
what good all this play-acting business has done
to anybody."

"Just this much," the Gadfly put in; "that I
can go where I like and do what I like anywhere
in this district, and not a single man, woman, or
child will ever think of suspecting me. The story
will be all over the place by to-morrow, and when
I meet a spy he will only think: 'It's mad Diego,
that confessed his sins in the market-place.' That
is an advantage gained, surely."

"Yes, I see. Still, I wish the thing could have
been done without fooling the Cardinal. He's
too good to have that sort of trick played on
him."

"I thought myself he seemed fairly decent,"
the Gadfly lazily assented.

"Nonsense, Sandro! We don't want Cardinals
here!" said Domenichino. "And if Monsignor
Montanelli had taken that post in Rome when he
had the chance of getting it, Rivarez couldn't have
fooled him."

"He wouldn't take it because he didn't want to
leave his work here."

"More likely because he didn't want to get
poisoned off by Lambruschini's agents. They've
got something against him, you may depend upon
it. When a Cardinal, especially such a popular
one, 'prefers to stay' in a God-forsaken little hole
like this, we all know what that means--don't we,
Rivarez?"

The Gadfly was making smoke-rings. "Perhaps
it is a c-c-case of a 'b-b-broken and contrite
heart,'" he remarked, leaning his head back to
watch them float away. "And now, men, let us
get to business."

They began to discuss in detail the various plans
which had been formed for the smuggling and concealment
of weapons. The Gadfly listened with
keen attention, interrupting every now and then
to correct sharply some inaccurate statement or
imprudent proposal. When everyone had finished
speaking, he made a few practical suggestions,
most of which were adopted without discussion.
The meeting then broke up. It had been resolved
that, at least until he was safely back in Tuscany,
very late meetings, which might attract the notice
of the police, should be avoided. By a little after
ten o'clock all had dispersed except the doctor, the
Gadfly, and Domenichino, who remained as
a sub-committee for the discussion of special
points. After a long and hot dispute, Domenichino
looked up at the clock.

"Half-past eleven; we mustn't stop any longer
or the night-watchman may see us."

"When does he pass?" asked the Gadfly.

"About twelve o'clock; and I want to be home
before he comes. Good-night, Giordani. Rivarez,
shall we walk together?"

"No; I think we are safer apart. Then I shall
see you again?"

"Yes; at Castel Bolognese. I don't know yet
what disguise I shall be in, but you have the passWord.
You leave here to-morrow, I think?"

The Gadfly was carefully putting on his beard
and wig before the looking-glass.

"To-morrow morning, with the pilgrims. On
the next day I fall ill and stop behind in a shepherd's
hut, and then take a short cut across the hills. I shall
be down there before you will. Good-night!"

Twelve o'clock was striking from the Cathedral
bell-tower as the Gadfly looked in at the door of
the great empty barn which had been thrown open
as a lodging for the pilgrims. The floor was
covered with clumsy figures, most of which were
snoring lustily, and the air was insufferably close
and foul. He drew back with a little shudder of
repugnance; it would be useless to attempt to
sleep in there; he would take a walk, and then
find some shed or haystack which would, at least,
be clean and quiet.

It was a glorious night, with a great full moon
gleaming in a purple sky. He began to wander
through the streets in an aimless way, brooding
miserably over the scene of the morning, and wishing
that he had never consented to Domenichino's
plan of holding the meeting in Brisighella. If at
the beginning he had declared the project too dangerous,
some other place would have been chosen;
and both he and Montanelli would have been
spared this ghastly, ridiculous farce.

How changed the Padre was! And yet his voice was
not changed at all; it was just the same as in the
old days, when he used to say: "Carino."

The lantern of the night-watchman appeared at
the other end of the street, and the Gadfly turned
down a narrow, crooked alley. After walking a
few yards he found himself in the Cathedral
Square, close to the left wing of the episcopal
palace. The square was flooded with moonlight,
and there was no one in sight; but he noticed that
a side door of the Cathedral was ajar. The sacristan
must have forgotten to shut it. Surely nothing
could be going on there so late at night. He
might as well go in and sleep on one of the benches
instead of in the stifling barn; he could slip out in
the morning before the sacristan came; and even
if anyone did find him, the natural supposition
would be that mad Diego had been saying his
prayers in some corner, and had got shut in.

He listened a moment at the door, and then
entered with the noiseless step that he had retained
notwithstanding his lameness. The moonlight
streamed through the windows, and lay in broad
bands on the marble floor. In the chancel, especially,
everything was as clearly visible as by daylight. At
the foot of the altar steps Cardinal Montanelli knelt
alone, bare-headed, with clasped hands.

The Gadfly drew back into the shadow. Should
he slip away before Montanelli saw him? That,
no doubt, would be the wisest thing to do--perhaps
the most merciful. And yet, what harm
could it do for him to go just a little nearer--to
look at the Padre's face once more, now that the
crowd was gone, and there was no need to keep
up the hideous comedy of the morning? Perhaps
it would be his last chance--and the Padre need
not see him; he would steal up softly and look--
just this once. Then he would go back to his work.

Keeping in the shadow of the pillars, he crept
softly up to the chancel rails, and paused at the
side entrance, close to the altar. The shadow of
the episcopal throne was broad enough to cover
him, and he crouched down in the darkness, holding
his breath.

"My poor boy! Oh, God; my poor boy!"

The broken whisper was full of such endless
despair that the Gadfly shuddered in spite of himself.
Then came deep, heavy, tearless sobs; and
he saw Montanelli wring his hands together like
a man in bodily pain.

He had not thought it would be so bad as
this. How often had he said to himself with bitter
assurance: "I need not trouble about it; that
wound was healed long ago." Now, after all these
years, it was laid bare before him, and he saw it
bleeding still. And how easy it would be to heal
it now at last! He need only lift his hand--only
step forward and say: "Padre, it is I." There
was Gemma, too, with that white streak across her
hair. Oh, if he could but forgive! If he could
but cut out from his memory the past that
was burned into it so deep--the Lascar, and the
sugar-plantation, and the variety show! Surely
there was no other misery like this--to be willing
to forgive, to long to forgive; and to know that
it was hopeless--that he could not, dared not forgive.

Montanelli rose at last, made the sign of the
cross, and turned away from the altar. The Gadfly
shrank further back into the shadow, trembling
with fear lest he should be seen, lest the very
beating of his heart should betray him; then he
drew a long breath of relief. Montanelli had
passed him, so close that the violet robe had
brushed against his cheek,--had passed and had
not seen him.

Had not seen him---- Oh, what had he done?
This had been his last chance--this one precious
moment--and he had let it slip away. He started
up and stepped into the light.

"Padre!"

The sound of his own voice, ringing up and
dying away along the arches of the roof, filled him
with fantastic terror. He shrank back again into
the shadow. Montanelli stood beside the pillar,
motionless, listening with wide-open eyes, full
of the horror of death. How long the silence
lasted the Gadfly could not tell; it might have
been an instant, or an eternity. He came to his
senses with a sudden shock. Montanelli was beginning
to sway as though he would fall, and his
lips moved, at first silently.

"Arthur!" the low whisper came at last; "yes,
the water is deep----"

The Gadfly came forward.

"Forgive me, Your Eminence! I thought it
was one of the priests."

"Ah, it is the pilgrim?" Montanelli had at
once recovered his self-control, though the Gadfly
could see, from the restless glitter of the sapphire
on his hand, that he was still trembling. "Are
you in need of anything, my friend? It is late, and
the Cathedral is closed at night."

"I beg pardon, Your Eminence, if I have done
wrong. I saw the door open, and came in to pray,
and when I saw a priest, as I thought, in meditation,
I waited to ask a blessing on this."

He held up the little tin cross that he had
bought from Domenichino. Montanelli took it
from his hand, and, re-entering the chancel, laid it
for a moment on the altar.

"Take it, my son," he said, "and be at rest,
for the Lord is tender and pitiful. Go to Rome,
and ask the blessing of His minister, the Holy
Father. Peace be with you!"

The Gadfly bent his head to receive the benediction,
and turned slowly away.

"Stop!" said Montanelli.

He was standing with one hand on the chancel rail.

"When you receive the Holy Eucharist in
Rome," he said, "pray for one in deep affliction--
for one on whose soul the hand of the Lord is heavy."

There were almost tears in his voice, and the
Gadfly's resolution wavered. Another instant and
he would have betrayed himself. Then the
thought of the variety-show came up again, and
he remembered, like Jonah, that he did well to
be angry.

"Who am I, that He should hear my prayers?
A leper and an outcast! If I could bring to His
throne, as Your Eminence can, the offering of a
holy life--of a soul without spot or secret
shame------"

Montanelli turned abruptly away.

"I have only one offering to give," he said; "a
broken heart."

      .      .      .      .      .

A few days later the Gadfly returned to Florence
in the diligence from Pistoja. He went
straight to Gemma's lodgings, but she was out.
Leaving a message that he would return in the
morning he went home, sincerely hoping that he
should not again find his study invaded by Zita.
Her jealous reproaches would act on his nerves,
if he were to hear much of them to-night, like the
rasping of a dentist's file.

"Good-evening, Bianca," he said when the
maid-servant opened the door. "Has Mme. Reni
been here to-day?"

She stared at him blankly

"Mme. Reni? Has she come back, then, sir?"

"What do you mean?" he asked with a frown,
stopping short on the mat.

"She went away quite suddenly, just after you
did, and left all her things behind her. She never
so much as said she was going."

"Just after I did? What, a f-fortnight ago?"

"Yes, sir, the same day; and her things are
lying about higgledy-piggledy. All the neighbours
are talking about it."

He turned away from the door-step without
speaking, and went hastily down the lane to the
house where Zita had been lodging. In her rooms
nothing had been touched; all the presents that
he had given her were in their usual places; there
was no letter or scrap of writing anywhere.

"If you please, sir," said Bianca, putting her
head in at the door, "there's an old woman----"

He turned round fiercely.

"What do you want here--following me
about?"

"An old woman wishes to see you."

"What does she want? Tell her I c-can't see
her; I'm busy."

"She has been coming nearly every evening
since you went away, sir, always asking when you
would come back."

"Ask her w-what her business is. No; never
mind; I suppose I must go myself."

The old woman was waiting at his hall door.
She was very poorly dressed, with a face as brown
and wrinkled as a medlar, and a bright-coloured
scarf twisted round her head. As he came in
she rose and looked at him with keen black
eyes.

"You are the lame gentleman," she said, inspecting
him critically from head to foot. "I have
brought you a message from Zita Reni."

He opened the study door, and held it for her
to pass in; then followed her and shut the door,
that Bianca might not hear.

"Sit down, please. N-now, tell me who you
are."

"It's no business of yours who I am. I have
come to tell you that Zita Reni has gone away
with my son."

"With--your--son?"

"Yes, sir; if you don't know how to keep your
mistress when you've got her, you can't complain
if other men take her. My son has blood in his
veins, not milk and water; he comes of the
Romany folk."

"Ah, you are a gipsy! Zita has gone back to
her own people, then?"

She looked at him in amazed contempt. Apparently,
these Christians had not even manhood
enough to be angry when they were insulted.

"What sort of stuff are you made of, that she
should stay with you? Our women may lend
themselves to you a bit for a girl's fancy, or if you
pay them well; but the Romany blood comes back
to the Romany folk."

The Gadfly's face remained as cold and steady
as before.

"Has she gone away with a gipsy camp, or
merely to live with your son?"

The woman burst out laughing.

"Do you think of following her and trying to
win her back? It's too late, sir; you should have
thought of that before!"

"No; I only want to know the truth, if you will
tell it to me."

She shrugged her shoulders; it was hardly
worth while to abuse a person who took it so
meekly.

"The truth, then, is that she met my son in the
road the day you left her, and spoke to him in the
Romany tongue; and when he saw she was one of
our folk, in spite of her fine clothes, he fell in love
with her bonny face, as OUR men fall in love, and
took her to our camp. She told us all her trouble,
and sat crying and sobbing, poor lassie, till our
hearts were sore for her. We comforted her as
best we could; and at last she took off her fine
clothes and put on the things our lasses wear, and
gave herself to my son, to be his woman and to
have him for her man. He won't say to her: 'I
don't love you,' and: 'I've other things to do.'
When a woman is young, she wants a man; and
what sort of man are you, that you can't even
kiss a handsome girl when she puts her arms round
your neck?"

"You said," he interrupted, "that you had
brought me a message from her."

"Yes; I stopped behind when the camp went
on, so as to give it. She told me to say that she
has had enough of your folk and their hair-splitting
and their sluggish blood; and that she wants
to get back to her own people and be free. 'Tell
him,' she said, 'that I am a woman, and that I
loved him; and that is why I would not be his
harlot any longer.' The lassie was right to come
away. There's no harm in a girl getting a bit of
money out of her good looks if she can--that's
what good looks are for; but a Romany lass has
nothing to do with LOVING a man of your race."

The Gadfly stood up.

"Is that all the message?" he said. "Then tell
her, please, that I think she has done right, and
that I hope she will be happy. That is all I have
to say. Good-night!"

He stood perfectly still until the garden gate
closed behind her; then he sat down and covered
his face with both hands.

Another blow on the cheek! Was no rag of
pride to be left him--no shred of self-respect?
Surely he had suffered everything that man can
endure; his very heart had been dragged in the
mud and trampled under the feet of the passers-by;
there was no spot in his soul where someone's contempt
was not branded in, where someone's mockery
had not left its iron trace. And now this gipsy
girl, whom he had picked up by the wayside--
even she had the whip in her hand.

Shaitan whined at the door, and the Gadfly
rose to let him in. The dog rushed up to his master
with his usual frantic manifestations of delight,
but soon, understanding that something was
wrong, lay down on the rug beside him, and thrust
a cold nose into the listless hand.

An hour later Gemma came up to the front door.
No one appeared in answer to her knock; Bianca,
finding that the Gadfly did not want any dinner,
had slipped out to visit a neighbour's cook. She
had left the door open, and a light burning in the
hall. Gemma, after waiting for some time, decided
to enter and try if she could find the Gadfly, as she
wished to speak to him about an important message
which had come from Bailey. She knocked
at the study door, and the Gadfly's voice answered
from within: "You can go away, Bianca. I don't
want anything."

She softly opened the door. The room was
quite dark, but the passage lamp threw a long
stream of light across it as she entered, and she saw
the Gadfly sitting alone, his head sunk on his
breast, and the dog asleep at his feet.

"It is I," she said.

He started up. "Gemma,---- Gemma! Oh,
I have wanted you so!"

Before she could speak he was kneeling on the
floor at her feet and hiding his face in the folds of
her dress. His whole body was shaken with a convulsive
tremor that was worse to see than tears.

She stood still. There was nothing she could
do to help him--nothing. This was the bitterest
thing of all. She must stand by and look on passively
--she who would have died to spare him
pain. Could she but dare to stoop and clasp her
arms about him, to hold him close against her
heart and shield him, were it with her own body,
from all further harm or wrong; surely then he
would be Arthur to her again; surely then the day
would break and the shadows flee away.

Ah, no, no! How could he ever forget? Was
it not she who had cast him into hell--she, with
her own right hand?

She had let the moment slip by. He rose
hastily and sat down by the table, covering his
eyes with one hand and biting his lip as if he would
bite it through.

Presently he looked up and said quietly:

"I am afraid I startled you."

She held out both her hands to him. "Dear,"
she said, "are we not friends enough by now for
you to trust me a little bit? What is it?"

"Only a private trouble of my own. I don't
see why you should be worried over it."

"Listen a moment," she went on, taking his
hand in both of hers to steady its convulsive
trembling. "I have not tried to lay hands on a
thing that is not mine to touch. But now that
you have given me, of your own free will, so much
of your confidence, will you not give me a little
more--as you would do if I were your sister.
Keep the mask on your face, if it is any consolation
to you, but don't wear a mask on your soul,
for your own sake."

He bent his head lower. "You must be patient
with me," he said. "I am an unsatisfactory sort
of brother to have, I'm afraid; but if you only
knew---- I have been nearly mad this last week.
It has been like South America again. And somehow
the devil gets into me and----" He broke off.

"May I not have my share in your trouble?"
she whispered at last.

His head sank down on her arm. "The hand of
the Lord is heavy."





PART III.

----------

CHAPTER I.

THE next five weeks were spent by Gemma and
the Gadfly in a whirl of excitement and overwork
which left them little time or energy for thinking
about their personal affairs. When the arms had
been safely smuggled into Papal territory there
remained a still more difficult and dangerous task:
that of conveying them unobserved from the secret
stores in the mountain caverns and ravines to the
various local centres and thence to the separate
villages. The whole district was swarming with
spies; and Domenichino, to whom the Gadfly had
intrusted the ammunition, sent into Florence a
messenger with an urgent appeal for either help
or extra time. The Gadfly had insisted that the
work should be finished by the middle of June;
and what with the difficulty of conveying heavy
transports over bad roads, and the endless hindrances
and delays caused by the necessity of continually
evading observation, Domenichino was
growing desperate. "I am between Scylla and
Charybdis," he wrote. "I dare not work quickly,
for fear of detection, and I must not work slowly
if we are to be ready in time. Either send me
efficient help at once, or let the Venetians know
that we shall not be ready till the first week in
July."

The Gadfly carried the letter to Gemma and,
while she read it, sat frowning at the floor and
stroking the cat's fur the wrong way.

"This is bad," she said. "We can hardly keep
the Venetians waiting for three weeks."

"Of course we can't; the thing is absurd.
Domenichino m-might unders-s-stand that. We
must follow the lead of the Venetians, not they
ours."

"I don't see that Domenichino is to blame; he
has evidently done his best, and he can't do
impossibilities."

"It's not in Domenichino that the fault lies; it's
in the fact of his being one person instead of two.
We ought to have at least one responsible man
to guard the store and another to see the transports
off. He is quite right; he must have efficient help."

"But what help are we going to give him? We
have no one in Florence to send."

"Then I m-must go myself."

She leaned back in her chair and looked at him
with a little frown.

"No, that won't do; it's too risky."

"It will have to do if we can't f-f-find any other
way out of the difficulty."

"Then we must find another way, that's all.
It's out of the question for you to go again just
now."

An obstinate line appeared at the corners of his
under lip.

"I d-don't see that it's out of the question."

"You will see if you think about the thing
calmly for a minute. It is only five weeks since
you got back; the police are on the scent about
that pilgrim business, and scouring the country
to find a clue. Yes, I know you are clever at disguises;
but remember what a lot of people saw you, both as
Diego and as the countryman; and you can't disguise
your lameness or the scar on your face."

"There are p-plenty of lame people in the world."

"Yes, but there are not plenty of people in the
Romagna with a lame foot and a sabre-cut across
the cheek and a left arm injured like yours, and
the combination of blue eyes with such dark
colouring."

"The eyes don't matter; I can alter them with
belladonna."

"You can't alter the other things. No, it won't
do. For you to go there just now, with all your
identification-marks, would be to walk into a trap
with your eyes open. You would certainly be
taken."

"But s-s-someone must help Domenichino."

"It will be no help to him to have you caught
at a critical moment like this. Your arrest would
mean the failure of the whole thing."

But the Gadfly was difficult to convince, and
the discussion went on and on without coming
nearer to any settlement. Gemma was beginning
to realize how nearly inexhaustible was the fund
of quiet obstinacy in his character; and, had the
matter not been one about which she felt strongly,
she would probably have yielded for the sake of
peace. This, however, was a case in which she
could not conscientiously give way; the practical
advantage to be gained from the proposed journey
seemed to her not sufficiently important to be
worth the risk, and she could not help suspecting
that his desire to go was prompted less by a conviction
of grave political necessity than by a morbid
craving for the excitement of danger. He had
got into the habit of risking his neck, and his tendency
to run into unnecessary peril seemed to her
a form of intemperance which should be quietly
but steadily resisted. Finding all her arguments
unavailing against his dogged resolve to go his
own way, she fired her last shot.

"Let us be honest about it, anyway," she said;
"and call things by their true names. It is not
Domenichino's difficulty that makes you so determined
to go. It is your own personal passion for----"

"It's not true!" he interrupted vehemently.
"He is nothing to me; I don't care if I never see
him again."

He broke off, seeing in her face that he had
betrayed himself. Their eyes met for an instant,
and dropped; and neither of them uttered the
name that was in both their minds.

"It--it is not Domenichino I want to save," he
stammered at last, with his face half buried in the
cat's fur; "it is that I--I understand the danger
of the work failing if he has no help."

She passed over the feeble little subterfuge, and
went on as if there had been no interruption:

"It is your passion for running into danger
which makes you want to go there. You have
the same craving for danger when you are worried
that you had for opium when you were ill."

"It was not I that asked for the opium," he said
defiantly; "it was the others who insisted on giving
it to me."

"I dare say. You plume yourself a little on
your stoicism, and to ask for physical relief would
have hurt your pride; but it is rather flattered than
otherwise when you risk your life to relieve the
irritation of your nerves. And yet, after all, the
distinction is a merely conventional one."

He drew the cat's head back and looked down
into the round, green eyes. "Is it true, Pasht?"
he said. "Are all these unkind things true that
your mistress is s-saying about me? Is it a case
of mea culpa; mea m-maxima culpa? You wise
beast, you never ask for opium, do you? Your
ancestors were gods in Egypt, and no man t-trod
on their tails. I wonder, though, what would become
of your calm superiority to earthly ills if I
were to take this paw of yours and hold it in the
c-candle. Would you ask me for opium then?
Would you? Or perhaps--for death? No,
pussy, we have no right to die for our personal
convenience. We may spit and s-swear a bit, if
it consoles us; but we mustn't pull the paw away."

"Hush!" She took the cat off his knee and
put it down on a footstool. "You and I will
have time for thinking about those things later
on. What we have to think of now is how to get
Domenichino out of his difficulty. What is it,
Katie; a visitor? I am busy."

"Miss Wright has sent you this, ma'am, by
hand."

The packet, which was carefully sealed, contained
a letter, addressed to Miss Wright, but
unopened and with a Papal stamp. Gemma's
old school friends still lived in Florence, and
her more important letters were often received,
for safety, at their address.

"It is Michele's mark," she said, glancing
quickly over the letter, which seemed to be about
the summer-terms at a boarding house in the
Apennines, and pointing to two little blots on a
corner of the page. "It is in chemical ink; the
reagent is in the third drawer of the writing-table.
Yes; that is it."

He laid the letter open on the desk and passed
a little brush over its pages. When the real message
stood out on the paper in a brilliant blue line,
he leaned back in his chair and burst out laughing.

"What is it?" she asked hurriedly. He
handed her the paper.

"DOMENICHINO HAS BEEN ARRESTED. COME AT ONCE."

She sat down with the paper in her hand and
stared hopelessly at the Gadfly.

"W-well?" he said at last, with his soft, ironical
drawl; "are you satisfied now that I must go?"

"Yes, I suppose you must," she answered, sighing.
"And I too."

He looked up with a little start. "You too? But----"

"Of course. It will be very awkward, I know,
to be left without anyone here in Florence; but
everything must go to the wall now except the
providing of an extra pair of hands."

"There are plenty of hands to be got there."

"They don't belong to people whom you can
trust thoroughly, though. You said yourself just
now that there must be two responsible persons
in charge; and if Domenichino couldn't manage
alone it is evidently impossible for you to do so.
A person as desperately compromised as you are
is very much handicapped, remember, in work of
that kind, and more dependent on help than anyone
else would be. Instead of you and Domenichino,
it must be you and I."

He considered for a moment, frowning.

"Yes, you are quite right," he said; "and the
sooner we go the better. But we must not start
together. If I go off to-night, you can take, say,
the afternoon coach to-morrow."

"Where to?"

"That we must discuss. I think I had b-b-better
go straight in to Faenza. If I start late to-night
and ride to Borgo San Lorenzo I can get
my disguise arranged there and go straight on."

"I don't see what else we can do," she said, with
an anxious little frown; "but it is very risky, your
going off in such a hurry and trusting to the smugglers
finding you a disguise at Borgo. You ought
to have at least three clear days to double on your
trace before you cross the frontier."

"You needn't be afraid," he answered, smiling;
"I may get taken further on, but not at the frontier.
Once in the hills I am as safe as here; there's
not a smuggler in the Apennines that would betray me.
What I am not quite sure about is how you are to get across."

"Oh, that is very simple! I shall take Louisa
Wright's passport and go for a holiday. No one
knows me in the Romagna, but every spy knows you."

"F-fortunately, so does every smuggler."

She took out her watch.

"Half-past two. We have the afternoon and
evening, then, if you are to start to-night."

"Then the best thing will be for me to go home
and settle everything now, and arrange about
a good horse. I shall ride in to San Lorenzo; it
will be safer."

"But it won't be safe at all to hire a horse. The
owner will-----"

"I shan't hire one. I know a man that will lend
me a horse, and that can be trusted. He has done
things for me before. One of the shepherds will
bring it back in a fortnight. I shall be here again
by five or half-past, then; and while I am gone,
I w-want you to go and find Martini and exp-plain
everything to him."

"Martini!" She turned round and looked at
him in astonishment.

"Yes; we must take him into confidence--unless
you can think of anyone else."

"I don't quite understand what you mean."

"We must have someone here whom we can
trust, in case of any special difficulty; and of all
the set here Martini is the man in whom I have
most confidence. Riccardo would do anything he
could for us, of course; but I think Martini has
a steadier head. Still, you know him better than
I do; it is as you think."

"I have not the slightest doubt as to Martini's
trustworthiness and efficiency in every respect; and
I think he would probably consent to give us any
help he could. But----"

He understood at once.

"Gemma, what would you feel if you found out
that a comrade in bitter need had not asked you
for help you might have given, for fear of hurting
or distressing you? Would you say there was any
true kindness in that?"

"Very well," she said, after a little pause; "I
will send Katie round at once and ask him to
come; and while she is gone I will go to Louisa
for her passport; she promised to lend it whenever
I want one. What about money? Shall I draw
some out of the bank?"

"No; don't waste time on that; I can draw
enough from my account to last us for a bit. We
will fall back on yours later on if my balance runs
short. Till half-past five, then; I shall be sure to
find you here, of course?"

"Oh, yes! I shall be back long before then."

Half an hour after the appointed time he returned,
and found Gemma and Martini sitting on
the terrace together. He saw at once that their
conversation had been a distressing one; the traces
of agitation were visible in both of them, and Martini
was unusually silent and glum.

"Have you arranged everything?" she asked,
looking up.

"Yes; and I have brought you some money for
the journey. The horse will be ready for me at
the Ponte Rosso barrier at one in the night."

"Is not that rather late? You ought to get
into San Lorenzo before the people are up in the
morning."

"So I shall; it's a very fast horse; and I don't
want to leave here when there's a chance of anyone
noticing me. I shan't go home any more;
there's a spy watching at the door, and he thinks
me in."

"How did you get out without his seeing
you?"

"Out of the kitchen window into the back garden
and over the neighbour's orchard wall; that's
what makes me so late; I had to dodge him. I
left the owner of the horse to sit in the study all
the evening with the lamp lighted. When the spy
sees the light in the window and a shadow on the
blind he will be quite satisfied that I am writing
at home this evening."

"Then you will stay here till it is time to go to
the barrier?"

"Yes; I don't want to be seen in the street any
more to-night. Have a cigar, Martini? I know
Signora Bolla doesn't mind smoke."

"I shan't be here to mind; I must go downstairs
and help Katie with the dinner."

When she had gone Martini got up and began
to pace to and fro with his hands behind his back.
The Gadfly sat smoking and looking silently out
at the drizzling rain.

"Rivarez!" Martini began, stopping in front of
him, but keeping his eyes on the ground; "what
sort of thing are you going to drag her into?"

The Gadfly took the cigar from his mouth and
blew away a long trail of smoke.

"She has chosen for herself," he said, "without
compulsion on anyone's part."

"Yes, yes--I know. But tell me----"

He stopped.

"I will tell you anything I can."

"Well, then--I don't know much about the
details of these affairs in the hills,--are you going
to take her into any very serious danger?"

"Do you want the truth?"

"Yes."

"Then--yes."

Martini turned away and went on pacing up and
down. Presently he stopped again.

"I want to ask you another question. If you
don't choose to answer it, you needn't, of course;
but if you do answer, then answer honestly. Are
you in love with her?"

The Gadfly deliberately knocked the ash from
his cigar and went on smoking in silence.

"That means--that you don't choose to
answer?"

"No; only that I think I have a right to know
why you ask me that."

"Why? Good God, man, can't you see why?"

"Ah!" He laid down his cigar and looked
steadily at Martini. "Yes," he said at last,
slowly and softly. "I am in love with her. But
you needn't think I am going to make love to
her, or worry about it. I am only going
to----"

His voice died away in a strange, faint whisper.
Martini came a step nearer.

"Only going--to----"

"To die."

He was staring straight before him with a cold,
fixed look, as if he were dead already. When he
spoke again his voice was curiously lifeless and even.

"You needn't worry her about it beforehand,"
he said; "but there's not the ghost of a chance for
me. It's dangerous for everyone; that she knows
as well as I do; but the smugglers will do their
best to prevent her getting taken. They are good
fellows, though they are a bit rough. As for me,
the rope is round my neck, and when I cross the
frontier I pull the noose."

"Rivarez, what do you mean? Of course it's
dangerous, and particularly so for you; I understand
that; but you have often crossed the frontier
before and always been successful."

"Yes, and this time I shall fail."

"But why? How can you know?"

The Gadfly smiled drearily.

"Do you remember the German legend of the
man that died when he met his own Double? No?
It appeared to him at night in a lonely place,
wringing its hands in despair. Well, I met mine
the last time I was in the hills; and when I cross
the frontier again I shan't come back."

Martini came up to him and put a hand on the
back of his chair.

"Listen, Rivarez; I don't understand a word
of all this metaphysical stuff, but I do understand
one thing: If you feel about it that way, you are
not in a fit state to go. The surest way to get
taken is to go with a conviction that you will be
taken. You must be ill, or out of sorts somehow,
to get maggots of that kind into your head. Suppose
I go instead of you? I can do any practical
work there is to be done, and you can send a
message to your men, explaining------"

"And let you get killed instead? That would
be very clever."

"Oh, I'm not likely to get killed! They don't
know me as they do you. And, besides, even if
I did------"

He stopped, and the Gadfly looked up with a
slow, inquiring gaze. Martini's hand dropped by
his side.

"She very likely wouldn't miss me as much as
she would you," he said in his most matter-of-fact
voice. "And then, besides, Rivarez, this is public
business, and we have to look at it from the point
of view of utility--the greatest good of the greatest
number. Your 'final value'---isn't that what
the economists call it?--is higher than mine; I
have brains enough to see that, though I haven't
any cause to be particularly fond of you. You
are a bigger man than I am; I'm not sure that
you are a better one, but there's more of you,
and your death would be a greater loss than mine."

From the way he spoke he might have been discussing
the value of shares on the Exchange. The
Gadfly looked up, shivering as if with cold.

"Would you have me wait till my grave opens
of itself to swallow me up?


                "If I must die,
I will encounter darkness as a bride----

Look here, Martini, you and I are talking nonsense."

"You are, certainly," said Martini gruffly.

"Yes, and so are you. For Heaven's sake, don't
let's go in for romantic self-sacrifice, like Don
Carlos and Marquis Posa. This is the nineteenth
century; and if it's my business to die, I have got
to do it."

"And if it's my business to live, I have got to
do that, I suppose. You're the lucky one,
Rivarez."

"Yes," the Gadfly assented laconically; "I was
always lucky."

They smoked in silence for a few minutes, and
then began to talk of business details. When
Gemma came up to call them to dinner, neither
of them betrayed in face or manner that their
conversation had been in any way unusual.
After dinner they sat discussing plans and making
necessary arrangements till eleven o'clock, when
Martini rose and took his hat.

"I will go home and fetch that riding-cloak of
mine, Rivarez. I think you will be less recognizable
in it than in your light suit. I want to
reconnoitre a bit, too, and make sure there are no
spies about before we start."

"Are you coming with me to the barrier?"

"Yes; it's safer to have four eyes than two in
case of anyone following you. I'll be back by
twelve. Be sure you don't start without me. I
had better take the key, Gemma, so as not to wake
anyone by ringing."

She raised her eyes to his face as he took the
keys. She understood that he had invented a pretext
in order to leave her alone with the Gadfly.

"You and I will talk to-morrow," she said.
"We shall have time in the morning, when my
packing is finished."

"Oh, yes! Plenty of time. There are two or
three little things I want to ask you about, Rivarez;
but we can talk them over on our way to the
barrier. You had better send Katie to bed,
Gemma; and be as quiet as you can, both of you.
Good-bye till twelve, then."

He went away with a little nod and smile, banging
the door after him to let the neighbours hear
that Signora Bolla's visitor was gone.

Gemma went out into the kitchen to say good-night
to Katie, and came back with black coffee on a tray.

"Would you like to lie down a bit?" she said.
"You won't have any sleep the rest of the night."

"Oh, dear no! I shall sleep at San Lorenzo
while the men are getting my disguise ready."

"Then have some coffee. Wait a minute; I
will get you out the biscuits."

As she knelt down at the side-board he suddenly
stooped over her shoulder.

"Whatever have you got there? Chocolate
creams and English toffee! Why, this is l-luxury
for a king!"

She looked up, smiling faintly at his enthusiastic tone.

"Are you fond of sweets? I always keep them
for Cesare; he is a perfect baby over any kind of
lollipops."

"R-r-really? Well, you must get him s-some
more to-morrow and give me these to take with
me. No, let me p-p-put the toffee in my pocket;
it will console me for all the lost joys of life. I
d-do hope they'll give me a bit of toffee to suck
the day I'm hanged."

"Oh, do let me find a cardboard box for it, at
least, before you put it in your pocket! You
will be so sticky! Shall I put the chocolates in, too?"

"No, I want to eat them now, with you."

"But I don't like chocolate, and I want you to
come and sit down like a reasonable human being.
We very likely shan't have another chance to talk
quietly before one or other of us is killed, and------"

"She d-d-doesn't like chocolate!" he murmured
under his breath. "Then I must be greedy
all by myself. This is a case of the hangman's
supper, isn't it? You are going to humour all my
whims to-night. First of all, I want you to sit
on this easy-chair, and, as you said I might lie
down, I shall lie here and be comfortable."

He threw himself down on the rug at her feet,
leaning his elbow on the chair and looking up into
her face.

"How pale you are!" he said. "That's because
you take life sadly, and don't like chocolate----"

"Do be serious for just five minutes! After all,
it is a matter of life and death."

"Not even for two minutes, dear; neither life
nor death is worth it."

He had taken hold of both her hands and was
stroking them with the tips of his fingers.

"Don't look so grave, Minerva! You'll make
me cry in a minute, and then you'll be sorry. I do
wish you'd smile again; you have such a d-delightfully
unexpected smile. There now, don't scold
me, dear! Let us eat our biscuits together, like
two good children, without quarrelling over them
--for to-morrow we die."

He took a sweet biscuit from the plate and
carefully halved it, breaking the sugar ornament
down the middle with scrupulous exactness.

"This is a kind of sacrament, like what the
goody-goody people have in church. 'Take, eat;
this is my body.' And we must d-drink the wine
out of the s-s-same glass, you know--yes, that is
right. 'Do this in remembrance----'"

She put down the glass.

"Don't!" she said, with almost a sob. He
looked up, and took her hands again.

"Hush, then! Let us be quiet for a little bit.
When one of us dies, the other will remember this.
We will forget this loud, insistent world that howls
about our ears; we will go away together, hand in
hand; we will go away into the secret halls of
death, and lie among the poppy-flowers. Hush!
We will be quite still."

He laid his head down against her knee and covered
his face. In the silence she bent over him,
her hand on the black head. So the time slipped
on and on; and they neither moved nor spoke.

"Dear, it is almost twelve," she said at last.
He raised his head.

"We have only a few minutes more; Martini
will be back presently. Perhaps we shall never
see each other again. Have you nothing to say
to me?"

He slowly rose and walked away to the other
side of the room. There was a moment's silence.

"I have one thing to say," he began in a hardly
audible voice; "one thing--to tell you----"

He stopped and sat down by the window, hiding
his face in both hands.

"You have been a long time deciding to be
merciful," she said softly.

"I have not seen much mercy in my life; and I
thought--at first--you wouldn't care----"

"You don't think that now."

She waited a moment for him to speak and then
crossed the room and stood beside him.

"Tell me the truth at last," she whispered.
"Think, if you are killed and I not--I should have
to go through all my life and never know--never
be quite sure----"

He took her hands and clasped them tightly.

"If I am killed---- You see, when I went to
South America---- Ah, Martini!"

He broke away with a violent start and threw
open the door of the room. Martini was rubbing
his boots on the mat.

"Punctual to the m-m-minute, as usual!
You're an an-n-nimated chronometer, Martini. Is
that the r-r-riding-cloak?"

"Yes; and two or three other things. I have
kept them as dry as I could, but it's pouring with
rain. You will have a most uncomfortable ride,
I'm afraid."

"Oh, that's no matter. Is the street clear?"

"Yes; all the spies seem to have gone to bed.
I don't much wonder either, on such a villainous
night. Is that coffee, Gemma? He ought to
have something hot before he goes out into the
wet, or he will catch cold."

"It is black coffee, and very strong. I will boil
some milk."

She went into the kitchen, passionately clenching
her teeth and hands to keep from breaking
down. When she returned with the milk the Gadfly
had put on the riding-cloak and was fastening
the leather gaiters which Martini had brought.
He drank a cup of coffee, standing, and took up
the broad-brimmed riding hat.

"I think it's time to start, Martini; we must
make a round before we go to the barrier, in case
of anything. Good-bye, for the present, signora;
I shall meet you at Forli on Friday, then, unless
anything special turns up. Wait a minute; th-this
is the address."

He tore a leaf out of his pocket-book and wrote
a few words in pencil.

"I have it already," she said in a dull, quiet
voice.

"H-have you? Well, there it is, anyway.
Come, Martini. Sh-sh-sh! Don't let the door creak!"

They crept softly downstairs. When the street
door clicked behind them she went back into the
room and mechanically unfolded the paper he had
put into her hand. Underneath the address was
written:

"I will tell you everything there."



CHAPTER II.

IT was market-day in Brisighella, and the country
folk had come in from the villages and hamlets
of the district with their pigs and poultry, their
dairy produce and droves of half-wild mountain
cattle. The market-place was thronged with a
perpetually shifting crowd, laughing, joking, bargaining
for dried figs, cheap cakes, and sunflower
seeds. The brown, bare-footed children sprawled,
face downward, on the pavement in the hot sun,
while their mothers sat under the trees with their
baskets of butter and eggs.

Monsignor Montanelli, coming out to wish the
people "Good-morning," was at once surrounded
by a clamourous throng of children, holding up for
his acceptance great bunches of irises and scarlet
poppies and sweet white narcissus from the mountain
slopes. His passion for wild flowers was
affectionately tolerated by the people, as one of
the little follies which sit gracefully on very wise
men. If anyone less universally beloved had filled
his house with weeds and grasses they would have
laughed at him; but the "blessed Cardinal" could
afford a few harmless eccentricities.

"Well, Mariuccia," he said, stopping to pat one of
the children on the head; "you have grown since I saw
you last. And how is the grandmother's rheumatism?"

"She's been better lately, Your Eminence; but
mother's bad now."

"I'm sorry to hear that; tell the mother to
come down here some day and see whether Dr.
Giordani can do anything for her. I will find
somewhere to put her up; perhaps the change
will do her good. You are looking better, Luigi;
how are your eyes?"

He passed on, chatting with the mountaineers.
He always remembered the names and ages of
the children, their troubles and those of their
parents; and would stop to inquire, with sympathetic
interest, for the health of the cow that fell
sick at Christmas, or of the rag-doll that was
crushed under a cart-wheel last market-day.

When he returned to the palace the marketing
began. A lame man in a blue shirt, with a shock
of black hair hanging into his eyes and a deep scar
across the left cheek, lounged up to one of the
booths and, in very bad Italian, asked for a drink
of lemonade.

"You're not from these parts," said the woman
who poured it out, glancing up at him.

"No. I come from Corsica."

"Looking for work?"

"Yes; it will be hay-cutting time soon, and a
gentleman that has a farm near Ravenna came
across to Bastia the other day and told me there's
plenty of work to be got there."

"I hope you'll find it so, I'm sure, but times are
bad hereabouts."

"They're worse in Corsica, mother. I don't
know what we poor folk are coming to."

"Have you come over alone?"

"No, my mate is with me; there he is, in the
red shirt. Hola, Paolo!"

Michele hearing himself called, came lounging
up with his hands in his pockets. He made a
fairly good Corsican, in spite of the red wig which
he had put on to render himself unrecognizable.
As for the Gadfly, he looked his part to perfection.

They sauntered through the market-place together,
Michele whistling between his teeth, and
the Gadfly trudging along with a bundle over his
shoulder, shuffling his feet on the ground to render
his lameness less observable. They were waiting
for an emissary, to whom important directions
had to be given.

"There's Marcone, on horseback, at that corner,"
Michele whispered suddenly. The Gadfly, still carrying
his bundle, shuffled towards the horseman.

"Do you happen to be wanting a hay-maker,
sir?" he said, touching his ragged cap and running
one finger along the bridle. It was the signal
agreed upon, and the rider, who from his
appearance might have been a country squire's
bailiff, dismounted and threw the reins on the
horse's neck.

"What sort of work can you do, my man?"

The Gadfly fumbled with his cap.

"I can cut grass, sir, and trim hedges"--he
began; and without any break in his voice, went
straight on: "At one in the morning at the
mouth of the round cave. You must have two
good horses and a cart. I shall be waiting inside
the cave---- And then I can dig, sir, and----"

"That will do, I only want a grass-cutter.
Have you ever been out before?"

"Once, sir. Mind, you must come well-armed;
we may meet a flying squadron. Don't go by the
wood-path; you're safer on the other side. If
you meet a spy, don't stop to argue with him; fire
at once---- I should be very glad of work, sir."

"Yes, I dare say, but I want an experienced
grass-cutter. No, I haven't got any coppers to-day."

A very ragged beggar had slouched up to them,
with a doleful, monotonous whine.

"Have pity on a poor blind man, in the name
of the Blessed Virgin------ Get out of this place at
once; there's a flying squadron coming along----
Most Holy Queen of Heaven, Maiden undefiled--
It's you they're after, Rivarez; they'll be here in
two minutes---- And so may the saints reward
you---- You'll have to make a dash for it; there
are spies at all the corners. It's no use trying to
slip away without being seen."

Marcone slipped the reins into the Gadfly's hand.

"Make haste! Ride out to the bridge and let
the horse go; you can hide in the ravine. We're
all armed; we can keep them back for ten minutes."

"No. I won't have you fellows taken. Stand
together, all of you, and fire after me in order.
Move up towards our horses; there they are, tethered
by the palace steps; and have your knives
ready. We retreat fighting, and when I throw
my cap down, cut the halters and jump every man
on the nearest horse. We may all reach the wood
that way."

They had spoken in so quiet an undertone that
even the nearest bystanders had not supposed
their conversation to refer to anything more dangerous
than grass-cutting. Marcone, leading his
own mare by the bridle, walked towards the
tethered horses, the Gadfly slouching along beside
him, and the beggar following them with an outstretched
hand and a persistent whine. Michele
came up whistling; the beggar had warned him
in passing, and he quietly handed on the news to
three countrymen who were eating raw onions
under a tree. They immediately rose and followed
him; and before anyone's notice had been
attracted to them, the whole seven were standing
together by the steps of the palace, each man with
one hand on the hidden pistol, and the tethered
horses within easy reach.

"Don't betray yourselves till I move," the Gadfly
said softly and clearly. "They may not recognize us.
When I fire, then begin in order. Don't
fire at the men; lame their horses--then they can't
follow us. Three of you fire, while the other
three reload. If anyone comes between you and
our horses, kill him. I take the roan. When I
throw down my cap, each man for himself; don't
stop for anything."

"Here they come," said Michele; and the Gadfly
turned round, with an air of naive and stupid
wonder, as the people suddenly broke off in their
bargaining.

Fifteen armed men rode slowly into the marketplace.
They had great difficulty to get past the
throng of people at all, and, but for the spies at
the corners of the square, all the seven conspirators
could have slipped quietly away while the
attention of the crowd was fixed upon the soldiers.
Michele moved a little closer to the Gadfly.

"Couldn't we get away now?"

"No; we're surrounded with spies, and one of
them has recognized me. He has just sent a man
to tell the captain where I am. Our only chance
is to lame their horses."

"Which is the spy?"

"The first man I fire at. Are you all ready?
They have made a lane to us; they are going to
come with a rush."

"Out of the way there!" shouted the captain.
"In the name of His Holiness!"

The crowd had drawn back, startled and wondering;
and the soldiers made a quick dash towards
the little group standing by the palace steps.
The Gadfly drew a pistol from his blouse and fired,
not at the advancing troops, but at the spy, who
was approaching the horses, and who fell back
with a broken collar-bone. Immediately after
the report, six more shots were fired in quick succession,
as the conspirators moved steadily closer
to the tethered horses.

One of the cavalry horses stumbled and
plunged; another fell to the ground with a fearful
cry. Then, through the shrieking of the panic-stricken
people, came the loud, imperious voice of
the officer in command, who had risen in the
stirrups and was holding a sword above his head.

"This way, men!"

He swayed in the saddle and sank back; the
Gadfly had fired again with his deadly aim. A
little stream of blood was trickling down the captain's
uniform; but he steadied himself with a
violent effort, and, clutching at his horse's mane,
cried out fiercely:

"Kill that lame devil if you can't take him alive!
It's Rivarez!"

"Another pistol, quick!" the Gadfly called to
his men; "and go!"

He flung down his cap. It was only just in
time, for the swords of the now infuriated soldiers
were flashing close in front of him.

"Put down your weapons, all of you!"

Cardinal Montanelli had stepped suddenly between
the combatants; and one of the soldiers
cried out in a voice sharp with terror:

"Your Eminence! My God, you'll be murdered!"

Montanelli only moved a step nearer, and faced
the Gadfly's pistol.

Five of the conspirators were already on horseback
and dashing up the hilly street. Marcone
sprang on to the back of his mare. In the moment
of riding away, he glanced back to see
whether his leader was in need of help. The roan
was close at hand, and in another instant all would
have been safe; but as the figure in the scarlet
cassock stepped forward, the Gadfly suddenly
wavered and the hand with the pistol sank down.
The instant decided everything. Immediately he
was surrounded and flung violently to the ground,
and the weapon was dashed out of his hand by a
blow from the flat of a soldier's sword. Marcone
struck his mare's flank with the stirrup; the hoofs
of the cavalry horses were thundering up the hill
behind him; and it would have been worse than
useless to stay and be taken too. Turning in the
saddle as he galloped away, to fire a last shot in
the teeth of the nearest pursuer, he saw the Gadfly,
with blood on his face, trampled under the feet
of horses and soldiers and spies; and heard the
savage curses of the captors, the yells of triumph
and rage.

Montanelli did not notice what had happened;
he had moved away from the steps, and was trying
to calm the terrified people. Presently, as he
stooped over the wounded spy, a startled movement
of the crowd made him look up. The soldiers were
crossing the square, dragging their
prisoner after them by the rope with which his
hands were tied. His face was livid with pain and
exhaustion, and he panted fearfully for breath;
but he looked round at the Cardinal, smiling with
white lips, and whispered:

"I c-cong-gratulate your Eminence."

     .      .      .      .      .

Five days later Martini reached Forli. He
had received from Gemma by post a bundle of
printed circulars, the signal agreed upon in case of
his being needed in any special emergency; and,
remembering the conversation on the terrace, he
guessed the truth at once. All through the journey
he kept repeating to himself that there was
no reason for supposing anything to have happened
to the Gadfly, and that it was absurd to
attach any importance to the childish superstitions
of so nervous and fanciful a person; but the
more he reasoned with himself against the idea,
the more firmly did it take possession of his mind.

"I have guessed what it is: Rivarez is taken, of
course?" he said, as he came into Gemma's room.

"He was arrested last Thursday, at Brisighella.
He defended himself desperately and wounded the
captain of the squadron and a spy."

"Armed resistance; that's bad!"

"It makes no difference; he was too deeply
compromised already for a pistol-shot more or less
to affect his position much."

"What do you think they are going to do with
him?"

She grew a shade paler even than before.

"I think," she said; "that we must not wait to
find out what they mean to do."

"You think we shall be able to effect a rescue?"

"We MUST."

He turned away and began to whistle, with his
hands behind his back. Gemma let him think
undisturbed. She was sitting still, leaning her
head against the back of the chair, and looking
out into vague distance with a fixed and tragic
absorption. When her face wore that expression,
it had a look of Durer's "Melancolia."

"Have you seen him?" Martini asked, stopping
for a moment in his tramp.

"No; he was to have met me here the next
morning."

"Yes, I remember. Where is he?"

"In the fortress; very strictly guarded, and,
they say, in chains."

He made a gesture of indifference.

"Oh, that's no matter; a good file will get rid
of any number of chains. If only he isn't
wounded----"

"He seems to have been slightly hurt, but
exactly how much we don't know. I think you
had better hear the account of it from Michele
himself; he was present at the arrest."

"How does he come not to have been taken
too? Did he run away and leave Rivarez in the
lurch?"

"It's not his fault; he fought as long as anybody
did, and followed the directions given him to
the letter. For that matter, so did they all. The
only person who seems to have forgotten, or
somehow made a mistake at the last minute, is
Rivarez himself. There's something inexplicable
about it altogether. Wait a moment; I will call
Michele."

She went out of the room, and presently came
back with Michele and a broad-shouldered mountaineer.

"This is Marco," she said. "You have heard
of him; he is one of the smugglers. He has just
got here, and perhaps will be able to tell us more.
Michele, this is Cesare Martini, that I spoke to
you about. Will you tell him what happened, as
far as you saw it?"

Michele gave a short account of the skirmish
with the squadron.

"I can't understand how it happened," he concluded.
"Not one of us would have left him if
we had thought he would be taken; but his directions
were quite precise, and it never occurred to
us, when he threw down his cap, that he would
wait to let them surround him. He was close beside
the roan--I saw him cut the tether--and I
handed him a loaded pistol myself before I
mounted. The only thing I can suppose is that
he missed his footing,--being lame,--in trying to
mount. But even then, he could have fired."

"No, it wasn't that," Marcone interposed.
"He didn't attempt to mount. I was the last one
to go, because my mare shied at the firing; and I
looked round to see whether he was safe. He
would have got off clear if it hadn't been for the
Cardinal."

"Ah!" Gemma exclaimed softly; and Martini
repeated in amazement: "The Cardinal?"

"Yes; he threw himself in front of the pistol--
confound him! I suppose Rivarez must have
been startled, for he dropped his pistol-hand and
put the other one up like this"--laying the back
of his left wrist across his eyes--"and of course
they all rushed on him."

"I can't make that out," said Michele. "It's
not like Rivarez to lose his head at a crisis."

"Probably he lowered his pistol for fear of killing
an unarmed man," Martini put in. Michele
shrugged his shoulders.

"Unarmed men shouldn't poke their noses into
the middle of a fight. War is war. If Rivarez
had put a bullet into His Eminence, instead of letting
himself be caught like a tame rabbit, there'd
be one honest man the more and one priest the less."

He turned away, biting his moustache. His
anger was very near to breaking down in tears.

"Anyway," said Martini, "the thing's done,
and there's no use wasting time in discussing how
it happened. The question now is how we're to
arrange an escape for him. I suppose you're all
willing to risk it?"

Michele did not even condescend to answer the
superfluous question, and the smuggler only remarked
with a little laugh: "I'd shoot my own brother, if he
weren't willing."

"Very well, then---- First thing; have you
got a plan of the fortress?"

Gemma unlocked a drawer and took out several
sheets of paper.

"I have made out all the plans. Here is the
ground floor of the fortress; here are the upper
and lower stories of the towers, and here the plan
of the ramparts. These are the roads leading to
the valley, and here are the paths and hiding-places
in the mountains, and the underground passages."

"Do you know which of the towers he is
in?"

"The east one, in the round room with the
grated window. I have marked it on the plan."

"How did you get your information?"

"From a man nicknamed 'The Cricket,' a soldier
of the guard. He is cousin to one of our men--Gino."

"You have been quick about it."

"There's no time to lose. Gino went into
Brisighella at once; and some of the plans we
already had. That list of hiding-places was made
by Rivarez himself; you can see by the handwriting."

"What sort of men are the soldiers of the guard?"

"That we have not been able to find out yet;
the Cricket has only just come to the place, and
knows nothing about the other men."

"We must find out from Gino what the Cricket
himself is like. Is anything known of the government's
intentions? Is Rivarez likely to be tried
in Brisighella or taken in to Ravenna?"

"That we don't know. Ravenna, of course, is
the chief town of the Legation and by law cases
of importance can be tried only there, in the
Tribunal of First Instance. But law doesn't count
for much in the Four Legations; it depends on the
personal fancy of anybody who happens to be in power."

"They won't take him in to Ravenna," Michele interposed.

"What makes you think so?"

"I am sure of it. Colonel Ferrari, the military
Governor at Brisighella, is uncle to the officer that
Rivarez wounded; he's a vindictive sort of brute
and won't give up a chance to spite an enemy."

"You think he will try to keep Rivarez here?"

"I think he will try to get him hanged."

Martini glanced quickly at Gemma. She was
very pale, but her face had not changed at the
words. Evidently the idea was no new one to her.

"He can hardly do that without some formality,"
she said quietly; "but he might possibly
get up a court-martial on some pretext or other,
and justify himself afterwards by saying that the
peace of the town required it."

"But what about the Cardinal? Would he
consent to things of that kind?"

"He has no jurisdiction in military affairs."

"No, but he has great influence. Surely the
Governor would not venture on such a step without
his consent?"

"He'll never get that," Marcone interrupted.
"Montanelli was always against the military
commissions, and everything of the kind. So
long as they keep him in Brisighella nothing
serious can happen; the Cardinal will always take
the part of any prisoner. What I am afraid of is
their taking him to Ravenna. Once there, he's
lost."

"We shouldn't let him get there," said Michele.
"We could manage a rescue on the road; but to
get him out of the fortress here is another
matter."

"I think," said Gemma; "that it would be
quite useless to wait for the chance of his being
transferred to Ravenna. We must make the attempt
at Brisighella, and we have no time to lose.
Cesare, you and I had better go over the plan of
the fortress together, and see whether we can
think out anything. I have an idea in my head,
but I can't get over one point."

"Come, Marcone," said Michele, rising; "we
will leave them to think out their scheme. I have
to go across to Fognano this afternoon, and I
want you to come with me. Vincenzo hasn't sent
those cartridges, and they ought to have been
here yesterday."

When the two men had gone, Martini went up
to Gemma and silently held out his hand. She let
her fingers lie in his for a moment.

"You were always a good friend, Cesare," she
said at last; "and a very present help in trouble.
And now let us discuss plans."



CHAPTER III.

"AND I once more most earnestly assure Your
Eminence that your refusal is endangering the
peace of the town."

The Governor tried to preserve the respectful
tone due to a high dignitary of the Church; but
there was audible irritation in his voice. His liver
was out of order, his wife was running up heavy
bills, and his temper had been sorely tried during
the last three weeks. A sullen, disaffected populace,
whose dangerous mood grew daily more apparent; a
district honeycombed with plots and bristling with
hidden weapons; an inefficient garrison, of whose
loyalty he was more than doubtful, and a Cardinal
whom he had pathetically described to his adjutant
as the "incarnation of immaculate pig-headedness,"
had already reduced him to the verge of desperation.
Now he was saddled with the Gadfly, an animated
quintessence of the spirit of mischief.

Having begun by disabling both the Governor's
favourite nephew and his most valuable spy, the
"crooked Spanish devil" had followed up his
exploits in the market-place by suborning the
guards, browbeating the interrogating officers,
and "turning the prison into a bear-garden." He
had now been three weeks in the fortress, and the
authorities of Brisighella were heartily sick of their
bargain. They had subjected him to interrogation
upon interrogation; and after employing, to
obtain admissions from him, every device of threat,
persuasion, and stratagem which their ingenuity
could suggest, remained just as wise as on the day
of his capture. They had begun to realize that
it would perhaps have been better to send him into
Ravenna at once. It was, however, too late to
rectify the mistake. The Governor, when sending
in to the Legate his report of the arrest, had
begged, as a special favour, permission to superintend
personally the investigation of this case; and,
his request having been graciously acceded to, he
could not now withdraw without a humiliating
confession that he was overmatched.

The idea of settling the difficulty by a courtmartial
had, as Gemma and Michele had foreseen,
presented itself to him as the only satisfactory
solution; and Cardinal Montanelli's stubborn refusal
to countenance this was the last drop which
made the cup of his vexations overflow.

"I think," he said, "that if Your Eminence knew
what I and my assistants have put up with from
this man you would feel differently about the matter.
I fully understand and respect the conscientious
objection to irregularities in judicial
proceedings; but this is an exceptional case and
calls for exceptional measures."

"There is no case," Montanelli answered,
"which calls for injustice; and to condemn a
civilian by the judgment of a secret military tribunal
is both unjust and illegal."

"The case amounts to this, Your Eminence:
The prisoner is manifestly guilty of several capital
crimes. He joined the infamous attempt of
Savigno, and the military commission nominated
by Monsignor Spinola would certainly have had
him shot or sent to the galleys then, had he not
succeeded in escaping to Tuscany. Since that
time he has never ceased plotting. He is known
to be an influential member of one of the most
pestilent secret societies in the country. He is
gravely suspected of having consented to, if not
inspired, the assassination of no less than three
confidential police agents. He has been caught--
one might almost say--in the act of smuggling
firearms into the Legation. He has offered armed
resistance to authority and seriously wounded two
officials in the discharge of their duty, and he is
now a standing menace to the peace and order of
the town. Surely, in such a case, a court-martial
is justifiable."

"Whatever the man has done," Montanelli replied,
"he has the right to be judged according to law."

"The ordinary course of law involves delay, Your
Eminence, and in this case every moment is precious.
Besides everything else, I am in constant
terror of his escaping."

"If there is any danger of that, it rests with you
to guard him more closely."

"I do my best, Your Eminence, but I am
dependent upon the prison staff, and the man
seems to have bewitched them all. I have
changed the guard four times within three weeks;
I have punished the soldiers till I am tired of it,
and nothing is of any use. I can't prevent their
carrying letters backwards and forwards. The
fools are in love with him as if he were a woman."

"That is very curious. There must be something
remarkable about him."

"There's a remarkable amount of devilry--I
beg pardon, Your Eminence, but really this man is
enough to try the patience of a saint. It's hardly
credible, but I have to conduct all the interrogations
myself, for the regular officer cannot stand
it any longer."

"How is that?"

"It's difficult to explain. Your Eminence, but
you would understand if you had once heard the
way he goes on. One might think the interrogating
officer were the criminal and he the judge."

"But what is there so terrible that he can do?
He can refuse to answer your questions, of course;
but he has no weapon except silence."

"And a tongue like a razor. We are all mortal,
Your Eminence, and most of us have made mistakes
in our time that we don't want published
on the house-tops. That's only human nature,
and it's hard on a man to have his little slips of
twenty years ago raked up and thrown in his teeth----"

"Has Rivarez brought up some personal secret
of the interrogating officer?"

"Well, really--the poor fellow got into debt
when he was a cavalry officer, and borrowed a little
sum from the regimental funds----"

"Stole public money that had been intrusted to
him, in fact?"

"Of course it was very wrong, Your Eminence;
but his friends paid it back at once, and the affair
was hushed up,--he comes of a good family,--and
ever since then he has been irreproachable. How
Rivarez found out about it I can't conceive; but
the first thing he did at interrogation was to bring
up this old scandal--before the subaltern, too!
And with as innocent a face as if he were saying
his prayers! Of course the story's all over the
Legation by now. If Your Eminence would only
be present at one of the interrogations, I am sure
you would realize---- He needn't know anything
about it. You might overhear him from------"

Montanelli turned round and looked at the Governor
with an expression which his face did not often wear.

"I am a minister of religion," he said; "not a
police-spy; and eavesdropping forms no part of
my professional duties."

"I--I didn't mean to give offence------"

"I think we shall not get any good out of
discussing this question further. If you will
send the prisoner here, I will have a talk with
him."

"I venture very respectfully to advise Your Eminence
not to attempt it. The man is perfectly
incorrigible. It would be both safer and wiser to
overstep the letter of the law for this once, and get
rid of him before he does any more mischief. It
is with great diffidence that I venture to press the
point after what Your Eminence has said; but after
all I am responsible to Monsignor the Legate for
the order of the town------"

"And I," Montanelli interrupted, "am responsible
to God and His Holiness that there shall
be no underhand dealing in my diocese. Since you
press me in the matter, colonel, I take my stand
upon my privilege as Cardinal. I will not allow a
secret court-martial in this town in peace-time. I
will receive the prisoner here, and alone, at ten
to-morrow morning."

"As Your Eminence pleases," the Governor
replied with sulky respectfulness; and went away,
grumbling to himself: "They're about a pair, as
far as obstinacy goes."

He told no one of the approaching interview till
it was actually time to knock off the prisoner's
chains and start for the palace. It was quite
enough, as he remarked to his wounded nephew,
to have this Most Eminent son of Balaam's ass
laying down the law, without running any risk of
the soldiers plotting with Rivarez and his friends
to effect an escape on the way.

When the Gadfly, strongly guarded, entered the
room where Montanelli was writing at a table
covered with papers, a sudden recollection came
over him, of a hot midsummer afternoon when he
had sat turning over manuscript sermons in a study
much like this. The shutters had been closed, as
they were here, to keep out the heat, and a fruitseller's
voice outside had called: "Fragola! Fragola!"

He shook the hair angrily back from his eyes
and set his mouth in a smile.

Montanelli looked up from his papers.

"You can wait in the hall," he said to the
guards.

"May it please Your Eminence," began the sergeant,
in a lowered voice and with evident nervousness,
"the colonel thinks that this prisoner is
dangerous and that it would be better------"

A sudden flash came into Montanelli's eyes.

"You can wait in the hall," he repeated quietly;
and the sergeant, saluting and stammering excuses
with a frightened face, left the room with his men.

"Sit down, please," said the Cardinal, when the
door was shut. The Gadfly obeyed in silence.

"Signor Rivarez," Montanelli began after a
pause, "I wish to ask you a few questions, and
shall be very much obliged to you if you will
answer them."

The Gadfly smiled. "My ch-ch-chief occupation
at p-p-present is to be asked questions."

"And--not to answer them? So I have heard;
but these questions are put by officials who are
investigating your case and whose duty is to use
your answers as evidence."

"And th-those of Your Eminence?" There
was a covert insult in the tone more than in the
words, and the Cardinal understood it at once; but
his face did not lose its grave sweetness of
expression.

"Mine," he said, "whether you answer them
or not, will remain between you and me. If they
should trench upon your political secrets, of course
you will not answer. Otherwise, though we are
complete strangers to each other, I hope that you
will do so, as a personal favour to me."

"I am ent-t-tirely at the service of Your Eminence."
He said it with a little bow, and a face
that would have taken the heart to ask favours out
of the daughters of the horse-leech.

"First, then, you are said to have been smuggling
firearms into this district. What are they
wanted for?"

"T-t-to k-k-kill rats with."

"That is a terrible answer. Are all your fellow-men
rats in your eyes if they cannot think as you do?"

"S-s-some of them."

Montanelli leaned back in his chair and looked
at him in silence for a little while.

"What is that on your hand?" he asked
suddenly.

The Gadfly glanced at his left hand. "Old
m-m-marks from the teeth of some of the rats."

"Excuse me; I was speaking of the other
hand. That is a fresh hurt."

The slender, flexible right hand was badly cut
and grazed. The Gadfly held it up. The wrist
was swollen, and across it ran a deep and long
black bruise.

"It is a m-m-mere trifle, as you see," he said.
"When I was arrested the other day,--thanks to
Your Eminence,"--he made another little bow,--
"one of the soldiers stamped on it."

Montanelli took the wrist and examined it
closely. "How does it come to be in such a state
now, after three weeks?" he asked. "It is all
inflamed."

"Possibly the p-p-pressure of the iron has not
done it much good."

The Cardinal looked up with a frown.

"Have they been putting irons on a fresh
wound?"

"N-n-naturally, Your Eminence; that is what
fresh wounds are for. Old wounds are not much
use. They will only ache; you c-c-can't make
them burn properly."

Montanelli looked at him again in the same
close, scrutinizing way; then rose and opened a
drawer full of surgical appliances.

"Give me the hand," he said.

The Gadfly, with a face as hard as beaten iron,
held out the hand, and Montanelli, after bathing
the injured place, gently bandaged it. Evidently
he was accustomed to such work.

"I will speak about the irons," he said. "And
now I want to ask you another question: What do
you propose to do?"

"Th-th-that is very simply answered, Your Eminence.
To escape if I can, and if I can't, to die."

"Why 'to die'?"

"Because if the Governor doesn't succeed in
getting me shot, I shall be sent to the galleys, and
for me that c-c-comes to the same thing. I have
not got the health to live through it."

Montanelli rested his arm on the table and
pondered silently. The Gadfly did not disturb
him. He was leaning back with half-shut eyes,
lazily enjoying the delicious physical sensation of
relief from the chains.

"Supposing," Montanelli began again, "that
you were to succeed in escaping; what should you
do with your life?"

"I have already told Your Eminence; I should
k-k-kill rats."

"You would kill rats. That is to say, that if I
were to let you escape from here now,--supposing
I had the power to do so,--you would use your
freedom to foster violence and bloodshed instead
of preventing them?"

The Gadfly raised his eyes to the crucifix on the
wall. "'Not peace, but a sword';--at l-least I
should be in good company. For my own part,
though, I prefer pistols."

"Signor Rivarez," said the Cardinal with unruffled
composure, "I have not insulted you as
yet, or spoken slightingly of your beliefs or friends.
May I not expect the same courtesy from you, or
do you wish me to suppose that an atheist cannot
be a gentleman?"

"Ah, I q-quite forgot. Your Eminence places
courtesy high among the Christian virtues. I remember
your sermon in Florence, on the occasion
of my c-controversy with your anonymous defender."

"That is one of the subjects about which I
wished to speak to you. Would you mind
explaining to me the reason of the peculiar bitterness
you seem to feel against me? If you have
simply picked me out as a convenient target, that
is another matter. Your methods of political controversy
are your own affair, and we are not discussing politics
now. But I fancied at the time that there was some
personal animosity towards me; and if so, I should be
glad to know whether I have ever done you wrong or in
any way given you cause for such a feeling."

Ever done him wrong! The Gadfly put up the
bandaged hand to his throat. "I must refer Your
Eminence to Shakspere," he said with a little
laugh. "It's as with the man who can't endure
a harmless, necessary cat. My antipathy is a
priest. The sight of the cassock makes my
t-t-teeth ache."

"Oh, if it is only that----" Montanelli dismissed
the subject with an indifferent gesture.

"Still," he added, "abuse is one thing and perversion
of fact is another. When you stated, in
answer to my sermon, that I knew the identity
of the anonymous writer, you made a mistake,--I
do not accuse you of wilful falsehood,--and stated
what was untrue. I am to this day quite ignorant
of his name."

The Gadfly put his head on one side, like an
intelligent robin, looked at him for a moment
gravely, then suddenly threw himself back and
burst into a peal of laughter.

"S-s-sancta simplicitas! Oh, you, sweet, innocent,
Arcadian people--and you never guessed!
You n-never saw the cloven hoof?"

Montanelli stood up. "Am I to understand,
Signor Rivarez, that you wrote both sides of the
controversy yourself?"

"It was a shame, I know," the Gadfly answered,
looking up with wide, innocent blue eyes. "And
you s-s-swallowed everything whole; just as if it
had been an oyster. It was very wrong; but oh,
it w-w-was so funny!"

Montanelli bit his lip and sat down again. He
had realized from the first that the Gadfly was trying
to make him lose his temper, and had resolved
to keep it whatever happened; but he was beginning
to find excuses for the Governor's exasperation.
A man who had been spending two hours
a day for the last three weeks in interrogating the
Gadfly might be pardoned an occasional swear-word.

"We will drop that subject," he said quietly.
"What I wanted to see you for particularly is this:
My position here as Cardinal gives me some voice,
if I choose to claim my privilege, in the question
of what is to be done with you. The only use to
which I should ever put such a privilege would be
to interfere in case of any violence to you which
was not necessary to prevent you from doing violence
to others. I sent for you, therefore, partly
in order to ask whether you have anything to
complain of,--I will see about the irons; but perhaps
there is something else,--and partly because
I felt it right, before giving my opinion, to see for
myself what sort of man you are."

"I have nothing to complain of, Your Eminence.
'A la guerre comme a la guerre.' I am
not a schoolboy, to expect any government to pat
me on the head for s-s-smuggling firearms onto its
territory. It's only natural that they should hit
as hard as they can. As for what sort of man I
am, you have had a romantic confession of my sins
once. Is not that enough; or w-w-would you like
me to begin again?"

"I don't understand you," Montanelli said
coldly, taking up a pencil and twisting it between
his fingers.

"Surely Your Eminence has not forgotten old Diego,
the pilgrim?" He suddenly changed his voice and began
to speak as Diego: "I am a miserable sinner------"

The pencil snapped in Montanelli's hand.
"That is too much!" he said.

The Gadfly leaned his head back with a soft little
laugh, and sat watching while the Cardinal
paced silently up and down the room.

"Signor Rivarez," said Montanelli, stopping at
last in front of him, "you have done a thing to me
that a man who was born of a woman should hesitate
to do to his worst enemy. You have stolen
in upon my private grief and have made for
yourself a mock and a jest out of the sorrow of a
fellow-man. I once more beg you to tell me:
Have I ever done you wrong? And if not, why
have you played this heartless trick on me?"

The Gadfly, leaning back against the chair-cushions,
looked up with his subtle, chilling, inscrutable smile

"It am-m-mused me, Your Eminence; you took
it all so much to heart, and it rem-m-minded me--
a little bit--of a variety show----"

Montanelli, white to the very lips, turned away
and rang the bell.

"You can take back the prisoner," he said when
the guards came in.

After they had gone he sat down at the table,
still trembling with unaccustomed indignation,
and took up a pile of reports which had been sent
in to him by the parish priests of his diocese.

Presently he pushed them away, and, leaning on
the table, hid his face in both hands. The Gadfly
seemed to have left some terrible shadow of himself,
some ghostly trail of his personality, to haunt
the room; and Montanelli sat trembling and
cowering, not daring to look up lest he should see
the phantom presence that he knew was not there.
The spectre hardly amounted to a hallucination.
It was a mere fancy of overwrought nerves; but
he was seized with an unutterable dread of its
shadowy presence--of the wounded hand, the
smiling, cruel mouth, the mysterious eyes, like
deep sea water----

He shook off the fancy and settled to his work.
All day long he had scarcely a free moment, and
the thing did not trouble him; but going into his
bedroom late at night, he stopped on the threshold
with a sudden shock of fear. What if he
should see it in a dream? He recovered himself
immediately and knelt down before the crucifix
to pray.

But he lay awake the whole night through.



CHAPTER IV.

MONTANELLI'S anger did not make him neglectful
of his promise. He protested so emphatically
against the manner in which the Gadfly had been
chained that the unfortunate Governor, who by
now was at his wit's end, knocked off all the fetters
in the recklessness of despair. "How am I
to know," he grumbled to the adjutant, "what
His Eminence will object to next? If he calls a
simple pair of handcuffs 'cruelty,' he'll be exclaiming
against the window-bars presently, or wanting
me to feed Rivarez on oysters and truffles. In my
young days malefactors were malefactors and
were treated accordingly, and nobody thought a
traitor any better than a thief. But it's the fashion
to be seditious nowadays; and His Eminence
seems inclined to encourage all the scoundrels in
the country."

"I don't see what business he has got to interfere
at all," the adjutant remarked. "He is not
a Legate and has no authority in civil and military
affairs. By law------"

"What is the use of talking about law? You
can't expect anyone to respect laws after the Holy
Father has opened the prisons and turned the
whole crew of Liberal scamps loose on us! It's
a positive infatuation! Of course Monsignor
Montanelli will give himself airs; he was quiet
enough under His Holiness the late Pope, but he's
cock of the walk now. He has jumped into
favour all at once and can do as he pleases. How
am I to oppose him? He may have secret authorization
from the Vatican, for all I know. Everything's
topsy-turvy now; you can't tell from day
to day what may happen next. In the good old
times one knew what to be at, but nowadays------"

The Governor shook his head ruefully. A
world in which Cardinals troubled themselves over
trifles of prison discipline and talked about the
"rights" of political offenders was a world that
was growing too complex for him.

The Gadfly, for his part, had returned to the fortress
in a state of nervous excitement bordering
on hysteria. The meeting with Montanelli had
strained his endurance almost to breaking-point;
and his final brutality about the variety show had
been uttered in sheer desperation, merely to cut
short an interview which, in another five minutes,
would have ended in tears.

Called up for interrogation in the afternoon of
the same day, he did nothing but go into convulsions
of laughter at every question put to him;
and when the Governor, worried out of all
patience, lost his temper and began to swear, he
only laughed more immoderately than ever. The
unlucky Governor fumed and stormed and threatened
his refractory prisoner with impossible punishments;
but finally came, as James Burton had
come long ago, to the conclusion that it was mere
waste of breath and temper to argue with a person
in so unreasonable a state of mind.

The Gadfly was once more taken back to his cell;
and there lay down upon the pallet, in the mood
of black and hopeless depression which always succeeded
to his boisterous fits. He lay till evening
without moving, without even thinking; he had
passed, after the vehement emotion of the morning,
into a strange, half-apathetic state, in which
his own misery was hardly more to him than a dull
and mechanical weight, pressing on some wooden
thing that had forgotten to be a soul. In truth,
it was of little consequence how all ended; the one
thing that mattered to any sentient being was to
be spared unbearable pain, and whether the relief
came from altered conditions or from the deadening
of the power to feel, was a question of no moment.
Perhaps he would succeed in escaping;
perhaps they would kill him; in any case he
should never see the Padre again, and it was all
vanity and vexation of spirit.

One of the warders brought in supper, and the
Gadfly looked up with heavy-eyed indifference.

"What time is it?"

"Six o'clock. Your supper, sir."

He looked with disgust at the stale, foul-smelling,
half-cold mess, and turned his head away.
He was feeling bodily ill as well as depressed; and
the sight of the food sickened him.

"You will be ill if you don't eat," said the soldier
hurriedly. "Take a bit of bread, anyway; it'll do you good."

The man spoke with a curious earnestness of
tone, lifting a piece of sodden bread from the plate
and putting it down again. All the conspirator
awoke in the Gadfly; he had guessed at once that
there was something hidden in the bread.

"You can leave it; I'll eat a bit by and by," he
said carelessly. The door was open, and he knew
that the sergeant on the stairs could hear every
word spoken between them.

When the door was locked on him again, and
he had satisfied himself that no one was watching
at the spy-hole, he took up the piece of bread and
carefully crumbled it away. In the middle was
the thing he had expected, a bundle of small files.
It was wrapped in a bit of paper, on which a few
words were written. He smoothed the paper out
carefully and carried it to what little light there
was. The writing was crowded into so narrow a
space, and on such thin paper, that it was very
difficult to read.


"The door is unlocked, and there is no moon.
Get the filing done as fast as possible, and come
by the passage between two and three. We are
quite ready and may not have another chance."


He crushed the paper feverishly in his hand.
All the preparations were ready, then, and he had
only to file the window bars; how lucky it was
that the chains were off! He need not stop about
filing them. How many bars were there? Two,
four; and each must be filed in two places: eight.
Oh, he could manage that in the course of the
night if he made haste---- How had Gemma
and Martini contrived to get everything ready
so quickly--disguises, passports, hiding-places?
They must have worked like cart-horses to do
it---- And it was her plan that had been
adopted after all. He laughed a little to himself
at his own foolishness; as if it mattered whether
the plan was hers or not, once it was a good one!
And yet he could not help being glad that it was
she who had struck on the idea of his utilizing the
subterranean passage, instead of letting himself
down by a rope-ladder, as the smugglers had at
first suggested. Hers was the more complex
and difficult plan, but did not involve, as the other
did, a risk to the life of the sentinel on duty outside
the east wall. Therefore, when the two
schemes had been laid before him, he had unhesitatingly
chosen Gemma's.

The arrangement was that the friendly guard
who went by the nickname of "The Cricket"
should seize the first opportunity of unlocking,
without the knowledge of his fellows, the iron gate
leading from the courtyard into the subterranean
passage underneath the ramparts, and should then
replace the key on its nail in the guard-room.
The Gadfly, on receiving information of this, was
to file through the bars of his window, tear his
shirt into strips and plait them into a rope, by
means of which he could let himself down on to
the broad east wall of the courtyard. Along this
wall he was to creep on hands and knees while the
sentinel was looking in the opposite direction, lying
flat upon the masonry whenever the man turned
towards him. At the southeast corner was a half-ruined
turret. It was upheld, to some extent, by
a thick growth of ivy; but great masses of crumbling
stone had fallen inward and lay in the courtyard,
heaped against the wall. From this turret
he was to climb down by the ivy and the heaps of
stone into the courtyard; and, softly opening the
unlocked gate, to make his way along the passage
to a subterranean tunnel communicating with it.
Centuries ago this tunnel had formed a secret corridor
between the fortress and a tower on the
neighbouring hill; now it was quite disused and
blocked in many places by the falling in of the
rocks. No one but the smugglers knew of a certain
carefully-hidden hole in the mountain-side
which they had bored through to the tunnel; no
one suspected that stores of forbidden merchandise
were often kept, for weeks together, under
the very ramparts of the fortress itself, while the
customs-officers were vainly searching the houses
of the sullen, wrathful-eyed mountaineers. At
this hole the Gadfly was to creep out on to the
hillside, and make his way in the dark to a lonely
spot where Martini and a smuggler would be
waiting for him. The one great difficulty was
that opportunities to unlock the gate after the
evening patrol did not occur every night, and the
descent from the window could not be made in
very clear weather without too great a risk of
being observed by the sentinel. Now that there
was really a fair chance of success, it must not be
missed.

He sat down and began to eat some of the
bread. It at least did not disgust him like the
rest of the prison food, and he must eat something
to keep up his strength.

He had better lie down a bit, too, and try to
get a little sleep; it would not be safe to begin
filing before ten o'clock, and he would have a hard
night's work.

And so, after all, the Padre had been thinking
of letting him escape! That was like the Padre.
But he, for his part, would never consent to it.
Anything rather than that! If he escaped, it
should be his own doing and that of his comrades;
he would have no favours from priests.

How hot it was! Surely it must be going to
thunder; the air was so close and oppressive. He
moved restlessly on the pallet and put the bandaged
right hand behind his head for a pillow;
then drew it away again. How it burned and
throbbed! And all the old wounds were beginning
to ache, with a dull, faint persistence. What
was the matter with them? Oh, absurd! It was
only the thundery weather. He would go to
sleep and get a little rest before beginning his
filing.

Eight bars, and all so thick and strong! How
many more were there left to file? Surely not
many. He must have been filing for hours,--
interminable hours--yes, of course, that was what
made his arm ache---- And how it ached; right
through to the very bone! But it could hardly be
the filing that made his side ache so; and the
throbbing, burning pain in the lame leg--was
that from filing?

He started up. No, he had not been asleep; he
had been dreaming with open eyes--dreaming of
filing, and it was all still to do. There stood the
window-bars, untouched, strong and firm as ever.
And there was ten striking from the clock-tower
in the distance. He must get to work.

He looked through the spy-hole, and, seeing
that no one was watching, took one of the files
from his breast.

      .      .      .      .      .

No, there was nothing the matter with him--
nothing! It was all imagination. The pain in
his side was indigestion, or a chill, or some such
thing; not much wonder, after three weeks of
this insufferable prison food and air. As for the
aching and throbbing all over, it was partly nervous
trouble and partly want of exercise. Yes,
that was it, no doubt; want of exercise. How
absurd not to have thought of that before!

He would sit down a little bit, though, and let
it pass before he got to work. It would be sure
to go over in a minute or two.

To sit still was worse than all. When he sat
still he was at its mercy, and his face grew gray
with fear. No, he must get up and set to work,
and shake it off. It should depend upon his will
to feel or not to feel; and he would not feel, he
would force it back.

He stood up again and spoke to himself, aloud
and distinctly:

"I am not ill; I have no time to be ill. I have
those bars to file, and I am not going to be ill."

Then he began to file.

A quarter-past ten--half-past ten--a quarter to
eleven---- He filed and filed, and every grating
scrape of the iron was as though someone were filing
on his body and brain. "I wonder which will
be filed through first," he said to himself with a
little laugh; "I or the bars?" And he set his
teeth and went on filing.

Half-past eleven. He was still filing, though
the hand was stiff and swollen and would hardly
grasp the tool. No, he dared not stop to rest;
if he once put the horrible thing down he should
never have the courage to begin again.

The sentinel moved outside the door, and the
butt end of his carbine scratched against the lintel.
The Gadfly stopped and looked round, the file still
in his lifted hand. Was he discovered?

A little round pellet had been shot through the
spy-hole and was lying on the floor. He laid down
the file and stooped to pick up the round thing.
It was a bit of rolled paper.

      .      .      .      .      .

It was a long way to go down and down, with
the black waves rushing about him--how they
roared----!

Ah, yes! He was only stooping down to pick
up the paper. He was a bit giddy; many people
are when they stoop. There was nothing the
matter with him--nothing.

He picked it up, carried it to the light, and
unfolded it steadily.


"Come to-night, whatever happens; the Cricket
will be transferred to-morrow to another service.
This is our only chance."


He destroyed the paper as he had done the
former one, picked up his file again, and went
back to work, dogged and mute and desperate.

One o'clock. He had been working for three
hours now, and six of the eight bars were filed.
Two more, and then, to climb------

He began to recall the former occasions when
these terrible attacks had come on. The last had
been the one at New Year; and he shuddered as
he remembered those five nights. But that time
it had not come on so suddenly; he had never
known it so sudden.

He dropped the file and flung out both hands
blindly, praying, in his utter desperation, for the
first time since he had been an atheist; praying
to anything--to nothing--to everything.

"Not to-night! Oh, let me be ill to-morrow!
I will bear anything to-morrow--only not to-night!"

He stood still for a moment, with both hands
up to his temples; then he took up the file once
more, and once more went back to his work.

Half-past one. He had begun on the last bar.
His shirt-sleeve was bitten to rags; there was
blood on his lips and a red mist before his eyes,
and the sweat poured from his forehead as he filed,
and filed, and filed----

      .      .      .      .      .

After sunrise Montanelli fell asleep. He was
utterly worn out with the restless misery of the
night and slept for a little while quietly; then he
began to dream.

At first he dreamed vaguely, confusedly; broken
fragments of images and fancies followed each
other, fleeting and incoherent, but all filled with
the same dim sense of struggle and pain, the same
shadow of indefinable dread. Presently he began
to dream of sleeplessness; the old, frightful, familiar
dream that had been a terror to him for
years. And even as he dreamed he recognized
that he had been through it all before.

He was wandering about in a great empty place,
trying to find some quiet spot where he could lie
down and sleep. Everywhere there were people,
walking up and down; talking, laughing, shouting;
praying, ringing bells, and clashing metal instruments
together. Sometimes he would get away
to a little distance from the noise, and would lie
down, now on the grass, now on a wooden bench,
now on some slab of stone. He would shut his
eyes and cover them with both hands to keep out
the light; and would say to himself: "Now I
will get to sleep." Then the crowds would come
sweeping up to him, shouting, yelling, calling him
by name, begging him: "Wake up! Wake up,
quick; we want you!"

Again: he was in a great palace, full of gorgeous
rooms, with beds and couches and low soft
lounges. It was night, and he said to himself:
"Here, at last, I shall find a quiet place to sleep."
But when he chose a dark room and lay down,
someone came in with a lamp, flashing the merciless
light into his eyes, and said: "Get up; you are wanted."

He rose and wandered on, staggering and stumbling
like a creature wounded to death; and heard
the clocks strike one, and knew that half the night
was gone already--the precious night that was so
short. Two, three, four, five--by six o'clock the
whole town would wake up and there would be
no more silence.

He went into another room and would have lain
down on a bed, but someone started up from the
pillows, crying out: "This bed is mine!" and he
shrank away with despair in his heart.

Hour after hour struck, and still he wandered
on and on, from room to room, from house to
house, from corridor to corridor. The horrible
gray dawn was creeping near and nearer; the
clocks were striking five; the night was gone and
he had found no rest. Oh, misery! Another day
--another day!

He was in a long, subterranean corridor, a low,
vaulted passage that seemed to have no end. It
was lighted with glaring lamps and chandeliers;
and through its grated roof came the sounds of
dancing and laughter and merry music. Up there,
in the world of the live people overhead, there
was some festival, no doubt. Oh, for a place
to hide and sleep; some little place, were it even
a grave! And as he spoke he stumbled over an
open grave. An open grave, smelling of death
and rottenness---- Ah, what matter, so he could
but sleep!

"This grave is mine!" It was Gladys; and she
raised her head and stared at him over the rotting
shroud. Then he knelt down and stretched out
his arms to her.

"Gladys! Gladys! Have a little pity on me;
let me creep into this narrow space and sleep. I
do not ask you for your love; I will not touch you,
will not speak to you; only let me lie down beside
you and sleep! Oh, love, it is so long since I have
slept! I cannot bear another day. The light
glares in upon my soul; the noise is beating my
brain to dust. Gladys, let me come in here and
sleep!"

And he would have drawn her shroud across his
eyes. But she shrank away, screaming:

"It is sacrilege; you are a priest!"

On and on he wandered, and came out upon the
sea-shore, on the barren rocks where the fierce
light struck down, and the water moaned its low,
perpetual wail of unrest. "Ah!" he said; "the
sea will be more merciful; it, too, is wearied unto
death and cannot sleep."

Then Arthur rose up from the deep, and cried
aloud:

"This sea is mine!"

      .      .      .      .      .

"Your Eminence! Your Eminence!"

Montanelli awoke with a start. His servant
was knocking at the door. He rose mechanically
and opened it, and the man saw how wild and
scared he looked.

"Your Eminence--are you ill?"

He drew both hands across his forehead.

"No; I was asleep, and you startled me."

"I am very sorry; I thought I had heard you
moving early this morning, and I supposed------"

"Is it late now?"

"It is nine o'clock, and the Governor has called.
He says he has very important business, and knowing
Your Eminence to be an early riser------"

"Is he downstairs? I will come presently."

He dressed and went downstairs.

"I am afraid this is an unceremonious way to
call upon Your Eminence," the Governor began.

"I hope there is nothing the matter?"

"There is very much the matter. Rivarez has
all but succeeded in escaping."

"Well, so long as he has not quite succeeded
there is no harm done. How was it?"

"He was found in the courtyard, right against
the little iron gate. When the patrol came in to
inspect the courtyard at three o'clock this morning
one of the men stumbled over something on
the ground; and when they brought the light up
they found Rivarez lying across the path unconscious.
They raised an alarm at once and called
me up; and when I went to examine his cell I
found all the window-bars filed through and a rope
made of torn body-linen hanging from one of
them. He had let himself down and climbed along
the wall. The iron gate, which leads into the
subterranean tunnels, was found to be unlocked.
That looks as if the guards had been suborned."

"But how did he come to be lying across the
path? Did he fall from the rampart and hurt
himself?"

"That is what I thought at first. Your Eminence;
but the prison surgeon can't find any trace
of a fall. The soldier who was on duty yesterday
says that Rivarez looked very ill last night when
he brought in the supper, and did not eat anything.
But that must be nonsense; a sick man couldn't
file those bars through and climb along that roof.
It's not in reason."

"Does he give any account of himself?"

"He is unconscious, Your Eminence."

"Still?"

"He just half comes to himself from time to
time and moans, and then goes off again."

"That is very strange. What does the doctor
think?"

"He doesn't know what to think. There is no
trace of heart-disease that he can find to account
for the thing; but whatever is the matter with
him, it is something that must have come on
suddenly, just when he had nearly managed to
escape. For my part, I believe he was struck
down by the direct intervention of a merciful
Providence."

Montanelli frowned slightly.

"What are you going to do with him?" he
asked.

"That is a question I shall settle in a very few
days. In the meantime I have had a good lesson.
That is what comes of taking off the irons--with
all due respect to Your Eminence."

"I hope," Montanelli interrupted, "that you
will at least not replace the fetters while he is ill.
A man in the condition you describe can hardly
make any more attempts to escape."

"I shall take good care he doesn't," the Governor
muttered to himself as he went out. "His
Eminence can go hang with his sentimental scruples
for all I care. Rivarez is chained pretty tight
now, and is going to stop so, ill or not."

      .      .      .      .      .

"But how can it have happened? To faint
away at the last moment, when everything was
ready; when he was at the very gate! It's like
some hideous joke."

"I tell you," Martini answered, "the only thing
I can think of is that one of these attacks must
have come on, and that he must have struggled
against it as long as his strength lasted and have
fainted from sheer exhaustion when he got down
into the courtyard."

Marcone knocked the ashes savagely from his
pipe.

"Well. anyhow, that's the end of it; we can't
do anything for him now, poor fellow."

"Poor fellow!" Martini echoed, under his
breath. He was beginning to realise that to him,
too, the world would look empty and dismal without
the Gadfly.

"What does she think?" the smuggler asked,
glancing towards the other end of the room, where
Gemma sat alone, her hands lying idly in her lap,
her eyes looking straight before her into blank
nothingness.

"I have not asked her; she has not spoken since
I brought her the news. We had best not disturb
her just yet."

She did not appear to be conscious of their presence,
but they both spoke with lowered voices, as though
they were looking at a corpse. After a dreary little
pause, Marcone rose and put away his pipe.

"I will come back this evening," he said; but
Martini stopped him with a gesture.

"Don't go yet; I want to speak to you." He
dropped his voice still lower and continued in
almost a whisper:

"Do you believe there is really no hope?"

"I don't see what hope there can be now. We
can't attempt it again. Even if he were well
enough to manage his part of the thing, we
couldn't do our share. The sentinels are all being
changed, on suspicion. The Cricket won't get
another chance, you may be sure."

"Don't you think," Martini asked suddenly;
"that, when he recovers, something might be
done by calling off the sentinels?"

"Calling off the sentinels? What do you
mean?"

"Well, it has occurred to me that if I were to
get in the Governor's way when the procession
passes close by the fortress on Corpus Domini day
and fire in his face, all the sentinels would come
rushing to get hold of me, and some of you fellows
could perhaps help Rivarez out in the confusion.
It really hardly amounts to a plan; it only came
into my head."

"I doubt whether it could be managed," Marcone
answered with a very grave face. "Certainly it
would want a lot of thinking out for
anything to come of it. But"--he stopped and
looked at Martini--"if it should be possible--
would you do it?"

Martini was a reserved man at ordinary times;
but this was not an ordinary time. He looked
straight into the smuggler's face.

"Would I do it?" he repeated. "Look at her!"

There was no need for further explanations;
in saying that he had said all. Marcone turned
and looked across the room.

She had not moved since their conversation
began. There was no doubt, no fear, even no
grief in her face; there was nothing in it but the
shadow of death. The smuggler's eyes filled with
tears as he looked at her.

"Make haste, Michele!" he said, throwing open
the verandah door and looking out. "Aren't you
nearly done, you two? There are a hundred and
fifty things to do!"

Michele, followed by Gino, came in from the
verandah.

"I am ready now," he said. "I only want to
ask the signora----"

He was moving towards her when Martini
caught him by the arm.

"Don't disturb her; she's better alone."

"Let her be!" Marcone added. "We shan't do
any good by meddling. God knows, it's hard enough
on all of us; but it's worse for her, poor soul!"



CHAPTER V.

FOR a week the Gadfly lay in a fearful state.
The attack was a violent one, and the Governor,
rendered brutal by fear and perplexity, had not
only chained him hand and foot, but had insisted
on his being bound to his pallet with leather
straps, drawn so tight that he could not move
without their cutting into the flesh. He endured
everything with his dogged, bitter stoicism till the
end of the sixth day. Then his pride broke down,
and he piteously entreated the prison doctor for a
dose of opium. The doctor was quite willing to
give it; but the Governor, hearing of the request,
sharply forbade "any such foolery."

"How do you know what he wants it for?" he
said. "It's just as likely as not that he's shamming
all the time and wants to drug the sentinel,
or some such devilry. Rivarez is cunning enough
for anything."

"My giving him a dose would hardly help him
to drug the sentinel," replied the doctor, unable
to suppress a smile. "And as for shamming--
there's not much fear of that. He is as likely as
not to die."

"Anyway, I won't have it given. If a man
wants to be tenderly treated, he should behave
accordingly. He has thoroughly deserved a little
sharp discipline. Perhaps it will be a lesson to
him not to play tricks with the window-bars again."

"The law does not admit of torture, though,"
the doctor ventured to say; "and this is coming
perilously near it."

"The law says nothing about opium, I think,"
said the Governor snappishly.

"It is for you to decide, of course, colonel; but
I hope you will let the straps be taken off at
any rate. They are a needless aggravation of
his misery. There's no fear of his escaping now.
He couldn't stand if you let him go free."

"My good sir, a doctor may make a mistake
like other people, I suppose. I have got him safe
strapped now, and he's going to stop so."

"At least, then, have the straps a little loosened.
It is downright barbarity to keep them drawn so tight."

"They will stop exactly as they are; and I will
thank you, sir, not to talk about barbarity to me.
If I do a thing, I have a reason for it."

So the seventh night passed without any relief,
and the soldier stationed on guard at the cell door
crossed himself, shuddering, over and over again,
as he listened all night long to heart-rending
moans. The Gadfly's endurance was failing him
at last.

At six in the morning the sentinel, just before
going off duty, unlocked the door softly and entered
the cell. He knew that he was committing
a serious breach of discipline, but could not bear
to go away without offering the consolation of
a friendly word.

He found the Gadfly lying still, with closed eyes
and parted lips. He stood silent for a moment;
then stooped down and asked:

"Can I do anything for you, sir? I have only
a minute."

The Gadfly opened his eyes. "Let me alone!"
he moaned. "Let me alone----"

He was asleep almost before the soldier had
slipped back to his post.

Ten days afterwards the Governor called again
at the palace, but found that the Cardinal had
gone to visit a sick man at Pieve d'Ottavo, and
was not expected home till the afternoon. That
evening, just as he was sitting down to dinner, his
servant came in to announce:

"His Eminence would like to speak to you."

The Governor, with a hasty glance into the
looking glass, to make sure that his uniform was
in order, put on his most dignified air, and
went into the reception room, where Montanelli
was sitting, beating his hand gently on the arm
of the chair and looking out of the window with
an anxious line between his brows.

"I heard that you called to-day," he said, cutting
short the Governor's polite speeches with
a slightly imperious manner which he never
adopted in speaking to the country folk. "It was
probably on the business about which I have been
wishing to speak to you."

"It was about Rivarez, Your Eminence."

"So I supposed. I have been thinking the matter
over these last few days. But before we go
into that, I should like to hear whether you have
anything new to tell me."

The Governor pulled his moustaches with an
embarrassed air.

"The fact is, I came to know whether Your
Eminence had anything to tell me. If you still
have an objection to the course I proposed taking,
I should be sincerely glad of your advice in
the matter; for, honestly, I don't know what
to do."

"Is there any new difficulty?"

"Only that next Thursday is the 3d of June,
--Corpus Domini,--and somehow or other the
matter must be settled before then."

"Thursday is Corpus Domini, certainly; but
why must it be settled especially before then?"

"I am exceedingly sorry, Your Eminence, if I
seem to oppose you, but I can't undertake to be
responsible for the peace of the town if Rivarez is
not got rid of before then. All the roughest set
in the hills collects here for that day, as Your Eminence
knows, and it is more than probable that
they may attempt to break open the fortress gates
and take him out. They won't succeed; I'll
take care of that, if I have to sweep them from the
gates with powder and shot. But we are very
likely to have something of that kind before the
day is over. Here in the Romagna there is bad
blood in the people, and when once they get out
their knives----"

"I think with a little care we can prevent matters
going as far as knives. I have always found
the people of this district easy to get on with, if
they are reasonably treated. Of course, if you
once begin to threaten or coerce a Romagnol he
becomes unmanageable. But have you any reason for
supposing a new rescue scheme is intended?"

"I heard, both this morning and yesterday,
from confidential agents of mine, that a great
many rumours are circulating all over the district
and that the people are evidently up to some mischief
or other. But one can't find out the details;
if one could it would be easier to take precautions.
And for my part, after the fright we had
the other day, I prefer to be on the safe side.
With such a cunning fox as Rivarez one can't be
too careful."

"The last I heard about Rivarez was that he was
too ill to move or speak. Is he recovering, then?"

"He seems much better now, Your Eminence.
He certainly has been very ill--unless he was
shamming all the time."

"Have you any reason for supposing that
likely?"

"Well, the doctor seems convinced that it was
all genuine; but it's a very mysterious kind of illness.
Any way, he is recovering, and more intractable than ever."

"What has he done now?"

"There's not much he can do, fortunately,"
the Governor answered, smiling as he remembered
the straps. "But his behaviour is something indescribable.
Yesterday morning I went into the
cell to ask him a few questions; he is not well
enough yet to come to me for interrogation--and
indeed, I thought it best not to run any risk of
the people seeing him until he recovers. Such
absurd stories always get about at once."

"So you went there to interrogate him?"

"Yes, Your Eminence. I hoped he would be
more amenable to reason now."

Montanelli looked him over deliberately, almost
as if he had been inspecting a new and disagreeable
animal. Fortunately, however, the Governor
was fingering his sword-belt, and did not see the
look. He went on placidly:

"I have not subjected him to any particular
severities, but I have been obliged to be rather
strict with him--especially as it is a military
prison--and I thought that perhaps a little indulgence
might have a good effect. I offered to
relax the discipline considerably if he would behave
in a reasonable manner; and how does Your
Eminence suppose he answered me? He lay looking
at me a minute, like a wolf in a cage, and then
said quite softly: 'Colonel, I can't get up and
strangle you; but my teeth are pretty good; you
had better take your throat a little further off.'
He is as savage as a wild-cat."

"I am not surprised to hear it," Montanelli
answered quietly. "But I came to ask you a
question. Do you honestly believe that the presence
of Rivarez in the prison here constitutes a
serious danger to the peace of the district?"

"Most certainly I do, Your Eminence."

"You think that, to prevent the risk of bloodshed,
it is absolutely necessary that he should
somehow be got rid of before Corpus Domini?"

"I can only repeat that if he is here on Thursday,
I do not expect the festival to pass over without
a fight, and I think it likely to be a serious one."

"And you think that if he were not here there
would be no such danger?"

"In that case, there would either be no disturbance
at all, or at most a little shouting and stone-throwing.
If Your Eminence can find some way
of getting rid of him, I will undertake that the
peace shall be kept. Otherwise, I expect most
serious trouble. I am convinced that a new rescue
plot is on hand, and Thursday is the day when we
may expect the attempt. Now, if on that very
morning they suddenly find that he is not in the
fortress at all, their plan fails of itself, and they
have no occasion to begin fighting. But if we
have to repulse them, and the daggers once get
drawn among such throngs of people, we are
likely to have the place burnt down before nightfall."

"Then why do you not send him in to Ravenna?"

"Heaven knows, Your Eminence, I should be
thankful to do it! But how am I to prevent the
people rescuing him on the way? I have not soldiers
enough to resist an armed attack; and all
these mountaineers have got knives or flint-locks
or some such thing."

"You still persist, then, in wishing for a court-martial,
and in asking my consent to it?"

"Pardon me, Your Eminence; I ask you only
one thing--to help me prevent riots and bloodshed.
I am quite willing to admit that the military
commissions, such as that of Colonel Freddi,
were sometimes unnecessarily severe, and irritated
instead of subduing the people; but I think that
in this case a court-martial would be a wise measure
and in the long run a merciful one. It would
prevent a riot, which in itself would be a terrible
disaster, and which very likely might cause a return
of the military commissions His Holiness has abolished."

The Governor finished his little speech with
much solemnity, and waited for the Cardinal's
answer. It was a long time coming; and when
it came was startlingly unexpected.

"Colonel Ferrari, do you believe in God?"

"Your Eminence!" the colonel gasped in a
voice full of exclamation-stops.

"Do you believe in God?" Montanelli repeated,
rising and looking down at him with steady,
searching eyes. The colonel rose too.

"Your Eminence, I am a Christian man, and
have never yet been refused absolution."

Montanelli lifted the cross from his breast.

"Then swear on the cross of the Redeemer Who
died for you, that you have been speaking the
truth to me."

The colonel stood still and gazed at it blankly.
He could not quite make up his mind which was
mad, he or the Cardinal.

"You have asked me," Montanelli went on,
"to give my consent to a man's death. Kiss the
cross, if you dare, and tell me that you believe
there is no other way to prevent greater bloodshed.
And remember that if you tell me a lie you
are imperilling your immortal soul."

After a little pause, the Governor bent down
and put the cross to his lips.

"I believe it," he said.

Montanelli turned slowly away.

"I will give you a definite answer to-morrow.
But first I must see Rivarez and speak to him
alone."

"Your Eminence--if I might suggest--I am
sure you will regret it. For that matter, he sent
me a message yesterday, by the guard, asking to
see Your Eminence; but I took no notice of it,
because----"

"Took no notice!" Montanelli repeated. "A
man in such circumstances sent you a message,
and you took no notice of it?"

"I am sorry if Your Eminence is displeased. I
did not wish to trouble you over a mere impertinence
like that; I know Rivarez well enough by
now to feel sure that he only wanted to insult
you. And, indeed, if you will allow me to say so,
it would be most imprudent to go near him alone;
he is really dangerous--so much so, in fact, that
I have thought it necessary to use some physical
restraint of a mild kind------"

"And you really think there is much danger to
be apprehended from one sick and unarmed man,
who is under physical restraint of a mild kind?"
Montanelli spoke quite gently, but the colonel felt
the sting of his quiet contempt, and flushed under
it resentfully.

"Your Eminence will do as you think best," he
said in his stiffest manner. "I only wished to
spare you the pain of hearing this man's awful
blasphemies."

"Which do you think the more grievous misfortune
for a Christian man; to hear a blasphemous
word uttered, or to abandon a fellow-creature in
extremity?"

The Governor stood erect and stiff, with his official
face, like a face of wood. He was deeply
offended at Montanelli's treatment of him, and
showed it by unusual ceremoniousness.

"At what time does Your Eminence wish to
visit the prisoner?" he asked.

"I will go to him at once."

"As Your Eminence pleases. If you will kindly wait a
few moments, I will send someone to prepare him."

The Governor had come down from his official
pedestal in a great hurry. He did not want Montanelli
to see the straps.

"Thank you; I would rather see him as he is,
without preparation. I will go straight up to the
fortress. Good-evening, colonel; you may expect
my answer to-morrow morning."



CHAPTER VI.

HEARING the cell-door unlocked, the Gadfly
turned away his eyes with languid indifference.
He supposed that it was only the Governor, coming
to worry him with another interrogation.
Several soldiers mounted the narrow stair, their
carbines clanking against the wall; then a deferential
voice said: "It is rather steep here, Your Eminence."

He started convulsively, and then shrank down,
catching his breath under the stinging pressure of
the straps.

Montanelli came in with the sergeant and three
guards.

"If Your Eminence will kindly wait a moment,"
the sergeant began nervously, "one of my men
will bring a chair. He has just gone to fetch it.
Your Eminence will excuse us--if we had been expecting
you, we should have been prepared."

"There is no need for any preparation. Will
you kindly leave us alone, sergeant; and wait at
the foot of the stairs with your men?"

"Yes, Your Eminence. Here is the chair; shall
I put it beside him?"

The Gadfly was lying with closed eyes; but he
felt that Montanelli was looking at him.

"I think he is asleep, Your Eminence," the sergeant
was beginning, but the Gadfly opened his eyes.

"No," he said.

As the soldiers were leaving the cell they were
stopped by a sudden exclamation from Montanelli;
and, turning back, saw that he was bending
down to examine the straps.

"Who has been doing this?" he asked. The
sergeant fumbled with his cap.

"It was by the Governor's express orders, Your
Eminence."

"I had no idea of this, Signer Rivarez," Montanelli
said in a voice of great distress.

"I told Your Eminence," the Gadfly answered,
with his hard smile, "that I n-n-never expected to
be patted on the head."

"Sergeant, how long has this been going on?"

"Since he tried to escape, Your Eminence."

"That is, nearly a week? Bring a knife and cut
these off at once."

"May it please Your Eminence, the doctor
wanted to take them off, but Colonel Ferrari
wouldn't allow it."

"Bring a knife at once." Montanelli had not
raised his voice, but the soldiers could see that he
was white with anger. The sergeant took a clasp-knife
from his pocket, and bent down to cut the
arm-strap. He was not a skilful-fingered man;
and he jerked the strap tighter with an awkward
movement, so that the Gadfly winced and bit his
lip in spite of all his self-control. Montanelli came
forward at once.

"You don't know how to do it; give me the
knife."

"Ah-h-h!" The Gadfly stretched out his arms
with a long, rapturous sigh as the strap fell off.
The next instant Montanelli had cut the other
one, which bound his ankles.

"Take off the irons, too, sergeant; and then
come here. I want to speak to you."

He stood by the window, looking on, till the
sergeant threw down the fetters and approached him.

"Now," he said, "tell me everything that has
been happening."

The sergeant, nothing loath, related all that he
knew of the Gadfly's illness, of the "disciplinary
measures," and of the doctor's unsuccessful attempt
to interfere.

"But I think, Your Eminence," he added,
"that the colonel wanted the straps kept on as a
means of getting evidence."

"Evidence?"

"Yes, Your Eminence; the day before yesterday
I heard him offer to have them taken off if
he"--with a glance at the Gadfly--"would answer
a question he had asked."

Montanelli clenched his hand on the window-sill,
and the soldiers glanced at one another: they
had never seen the gentle Cardinal angry before.
As for the Gadfly, he had forgotten their existence;
he had forgotten everything except the
physical sensation of freedom. He was cramped
in every limb; and now stretched, and turned, and
twisted about in a positive ecstasy of relief.

"You can go now, sergeant," the Cardinal said.
"You need not feel anxious about having committed
a breach of discipline; it was your duty to
tell me when I asked you. See that no one disturbs
us. I will come out when I am ready."

When the door had closed behind the soldiers,
he leaned on the window-sill and looked for a while
at the sinking sun, so as to leave the Gadfly a little
more breathing time.

"I have heard," he said presently, leaving the
window, and sitting down beside the pallet, "that
you wish to speak to me alone. If you feel well
enough to tell me what you wanted to say, I am
at your service."

He spoke very coldly, with a stiff, imperious
manner that was not natural to him. Until the
straps were off, the Gadfly was to him simply a
grievously wronged and tortured human being;
but now he recalled their last interview, and the
deadly insult with which it had closed. The Gadfly
looked up, resting his head lazily on one arm.
He possessed the gift of slipping into graceful attitudes;
and when his face was in shadow no one
would have guessed through what deep waters he
had been passing. But, as he looked up, the clear
evening light showed how haggard and colourless
he was, and how plainly the trace of the last few
days was stamped on him. Montanelli's anger
died away.

"I am afraid you have been terribly ill," he said.
"I am sincerely sorry that I did not know of all
this. I would have put a stop to it before."

The Gadfly shrugged his shoulders. "All's fair
in war," he said coolly. "Your Eminence objects
to straps theoretically, from the Christian standpoint;
but it is hardly fair to expect the colonel
to see that. He, no doubt, would prefer not to
try them on his own skin--which is j-j-just my
case. But that is a matter of p-p-personal convenience.
At this moment I am undermost--
w-w-what would you have? It is very kind of
Your Eminence, though, to call here; but perhaps
that was done from the C-c-christian standpoint,
too. Visiting prisoners--ah, yes! I forgot.
'Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the l-least of
these'--it's not very complimentary, but one of
the least is duly grateful."

"Signor Rivarez," the Cardinal interrupted, "I
have come here on your account--not on my own.
If you had not been 'undermost,' as you call it, I
should never have spoken to you again after what
you said to me last week; but you have the double
privilege of a prisoner and a sick man, and I could
not refuse to come. Have you anything to say
to me, now I am here; or have you sent for me
merely to amuse yourself by insulting an old man?"

There was no answer. The Gadfly had turned.
away, and was lying with one hand across his eyes.

"I am--very sorry to trouble you," he said at
last, huskily; "but could I have a little water?"

There was a jug of water standing by the window,
and Montanelli rose and fetched it. As he
slipped his arm round the Gadfly to lift him, he
suddenly felt the damp, cold fingers close over
his wrist like a vice.

"Give me your hand--quick--just a moment,"
the Gadfly whispered. "Oh, what difference does
it make to you? Only one minute!"

He sank down, hiding his face on Montanelli's
arm, and quivering from head to foot.

"Drink a little water," Montanelli said after a
moment. The Gadfly obeyed silently; then lay
back on the pallet with closed eyes. He himself
could have given no explanation of what had happened
to him when Montanelli's hand had touched
his cheek; he only knew that in all his life there
had been nothing more terrible.

Montanelli drew his chair closer to the pallet
and sat down. The Gadfly was lying quite motionless,
like a corpse, and his face was livid and
drawn. After a long silence, he opened his eyes,
and fixed their haunting, spectral gaze on the Cardinal.

"Thank you," he said. "I--am sorry. I think
--you asked me something?"

"You are not fit to talk. If there is anything
you want to say to me, I will try to come again
to-morrow."

"Please don't go, Your Eminence--indeed,
there is nothing the matter with me. I--I have
been a little upset these few days; it was half of
it malingering, though--the colonel will tell you
so if you ask him."

"I prefer to form my own conclusions," Montanelli
answered quietly.

"S-so does the colonel. And occasionally, do
you know, they are rather witty. You w-w-wouldn't
think it to look at him; but s-s-sometimes he
gets hold of an or-r-riginal idea. On
Friday night, for instance--I think it was Friday,
but I got a l-little mixed as to time towards the
end--anyhow, I asked for a d-dose of opium--I
remember that quite distinctly; and he came in
here and said I m-might h-h-have it if I would
tell him who un-l-l-locked the gate. I remember
his saying: 'If it's real, you'll consent; if you
don't, I shall look upon it as a p-proof that you are
shamming.' It n-n-never oc-c-curred to me before
how comic that is; it's one of the f-f-funniest things----"

He burst into a sudden fit of harsh, discordant
laughter; then, turning sharply on the silent Cardinal,
went on, more and more hurriedly, and
stammering so that the words were hardly intelligible:

"You d-d-don't see that it's f-f-funny? Of
c-course not; you r-religious people n-n-never have
any s-sense of humour--you t-take everything
t-t-tragically. F-for instance, that night in the
Cath-thedral--how solemn you were! By the way
--w-what a path-thetic figure I must have c-cut
as the pilgrim! I d-don't believe you e-even see
anything c-c-comic in the b-business you have
c-come about this evening."

Montanelli rose.

"I came to hear what you have to say; but I
think you are too much excited to say it to-night.
The doctor had better give you a sedative, and we
will talk to-morrow, when you have had a night's
sleep."

"S-sleep? Oh, I shall s-sleep well enough, Your
Eminence, when you g-give your c-consent to the
colonel's plan--an ounce of l-lead is a s-splendid
sedative."

"I don't understand you," Montanelli said,
turning to him with a startled look.

The Gadfly burst out laughing again.

"Your Eminence, Your Eminence, t-t-truth
is the c-chief of the Christian virtues! D-d-do
you th-th-think I d-d-don't know how hard the
Governor has been trying to g-get your consent to
a court-martial? You had b-better by half g-give
it, Your Eminence; it's only w-what all your
b-brother prelates would do in your place. 'Cosi
fan tutti;' and then you would be doing s-such a
lot of good, and so l-little harm! Really, it's n-not
worth all the sleepless nights you have been spending
over it!"

"Please stop laughing a minute," Montanelli
interrupted, "and tell me how you heard all this.
Who has been talking to you about it?"

"H-hasn't the colonel e-e-ever told you I am
a d-d-devil--not a man? No? He has t-told me
so often enough! Well, I am devil enough to
f-find out a little bit what p-people are thinking
about. Your E-eminence is thinking that I'm a
conf-founded nuisance, and you wish s-somebody
else had to settle what's to be done with me, without
disturbing your s-sensitive conscience. That's
a p-pretty fair guess, isn't it?"

"Listen to me," the Cardinal said, sitting down
again beside him, with a very grave face. "However
you found out all this, it is quite true.
Colonel Ferrari fears another rescue attempt on
the part of your friends, and wishes to forestall it
in--the way you speak of. You see, I am quite
frank with you."

"Your E-eminence was always f-f-famous for
truthfulness," the Gadfly put in bitterly.

"You know, of course," Montanelli went on,
"that legally I have no jurisdiction in temporal
matters; I am a bishop, not a legate. But I have
a good deal of influence in this district; and the
colonel will not, I think, venture to take so extreme
a course unless he can get, at least, my tacit
consent to it. Up till now I have unconditionally
opposed the scheme; and he has been trying
very hard to conquer my objection by assuring me
that there is great danger of an armed attempt
on Thursday when the crowd collects for the procession
--an attempt which probably would end
in bloodshed. Do you follow me?"

The Gadfly was staring absently out of the
window. He looked round and answered in a
weary voice:

"Yes, I am listening."

"Perhaps you are really not well enough to
stand this conversation to-night. Shall I come
back in the morning? It is a very serious matter,
and I want your whole attention."

"I would rather get it over now," the Gadfly
answered in the same tone. "I follow everything
you say."

"Now, if it be true," Montanelli went on, "that
there is any real danger of riots and bloodshed on
account of you, I am taking upon myself a tremendous
responsibility in opposing the colonel;
and I believe there is at least some truth in what
he says. On the other hand, I am inclined to
think that his judgment is warped, to a certain
extent, by his personal animosity against you, and
that he probably exaggerates the danger. That
seems to me the more likely since I have seen this
shameful brutality." He glanced at the straps and
chains lying on the floor, and went on:

"If I consent, I kill you; if I refuse, I run the
risk of killing innocent persons. I have considered
the matter earnestly, and have sought with
all my heart for a way out of this dreadful alternative.
And now at last I have made up my mind."

"To kill me and s-save the innocent persons,
of course--the only decision a Christian man
could possibly come to. 'If thy r-right hand
offend thee,' etc. I have n-not the honour to be
the right hand of Your Eminence, and I have
offended you; the c-c-conclusion is plain. Couldn't
you tell me that without so much preamble?"

The Gadfly spoke with languid indifference and
contempt, like a man weary of the whole subject.

"Well?" he added after a little pause. "Was
that the decision, Your Eminence?"

"No."

The Gadfly shifted his position, putting both
hands behind his head, and looked at Montanelli
with half-shut eyes. The Cardinal, with his head
sunk down as in deep thought, was softly beating
one hand on the arm of his chair. Ah, that old,
familiar gesture!

"I have decided," he said, raising his head at
last, "to do, I suppose, an utterly unprecedented
thing. When I heard that you had asked to see
me, I resolved to come here and tell you everything,
as I have done, and to place the matter in
your own hands."

"In--my hands?"

"Signor Rivarez, I have not come to you as
cardinal, or as bishop, or as judge; I have come
to you as one man to another. I do not ask you
to tell me whether you know of any such scheme
as the colonel apprehends. I understand quite
well that, if you do, it is your secret and you will
not tell it. But I do ask you to put yourself in
my place. I am old, and, no doubt, have not much
longer to live. I would go down to my grave
without blood on my hands."

"Is there none on them as yet, Your Eminence?"

Montanelli grew a shade paler, but went on
quietly:

"All my life I have opposed repressive measures
and cruelty wherever I have met with them.
I have always disapproved of capital punishment
in all its forms; I have protested earnestly and
repeatedly against the military commissions in the
last reign, and have been out of favour on account
of doing so. Up till now such influence and power
as I have possessed have always been employed on
the side of mercy. I ask you to believe me, at
least, that I am speaking the truth. Now, I am
placed in this dilemma. By refusing, I am exposing
the town to the danger of riots and all their
consequences; and this to save the life of a man
who blasphemes against my religion, who has
slandered and wronged and insulted me personally
(though that is comparatively a trifle), and
who, as I firmly believe, will put that life to a bad
use when it is given to him. But--it is to save a
man's life."

He paused a moment, and went on again:

"Signor Rivarez, everything that I know of
your career seems to me bad and mischievous; and
I have long believed you to be reckless and violent
and unscrupulous. To some extent I hold that
opinion of you still. But during this last fortnight
you have shown me that you are a brave
man and that you can be faithful to your friends.
You have made the soldiers love and admire you,
too; and not every man could have done that. I
think that perhaps I have misjudged you, and that
there is in you something better than what you
show outside. To that better self in you I appeal,
and solemnly entreat you, on your conscience, to
tell me truthfully--in my place, what would you do?"

A long silence followed; then the Gadfly looked up.

"At least, I would decide my own actions for
myself, and take the consequences of them. I
would not come sneaking to other people, in the
cowardly Christian way, asking them to solve my
problems for me!"

The onslaught was so sudden, and its extraordinary
vehemence and passion were in such startling
contrast to the languid affectation of a
moment before, that it was as though he had
thrown off a mask.

"We atheists," he went on fiercely, "understand
that if a man has a thing to bear, he must
bear it as best he can; and if he sinks under it--
why, so much the worse for him. But a Christian
comes whining to his God, or his saints; or, if they
won't help him, to his enemies--he can always
find a back to shift his burdens on to. Isn't there
a rule to go by in your Bible, or your Missal, or
any of your canting theology books, that you
must come to me to tell you what to do?
Heavens and earth, man! Haven't I enough as
it is, without your laying your responsibilities on
my shoulders? Go back to your Jesus; he exacted
the uttermost farthing, and you'd better do
the same. After all, you'll only be killing an
atheist--a man who boggles over 'shibboleth'; and
that's no great crime, surely!"

He broke off, panting for breath, and then
burst out again:

"And YOU to talk of cruelty! Why, that
p-p-pudding-headed ass couldn't hurt me as much as you
do if he tried for a year; he hasn't got the brains.
All he can think of is to pull a strap tight, and
when he can't get it any tighter he's at the end
of his resources. Any fool can do that! But
you---- 'Sign your own death sentence, please;
I'm too tender-hearted to do it myself.' Oh! it
would take a Christian to hit on that--a gentle,
compassionate Christian, that turns pale at the
sight of a strap pulled too tight! I might have
known when you came in, like an angel of mercy--
so shocked at the colonel's 'barbarity'--that the
real thing was going to begin! Why do you look
at me that way? Consent, man, of course, and
go home to your dinner; the thing's not worth all
this fuss. Tell your colonel he can have me shot,
or hanged, or whatever comes handiest--roasted
alive, if it's any amusement to him--and be done
with it!"

The Gadfly was hardly recognizable; he was
beside himself with rage and desperation, panting
and quivering, his eyes glittering with green reflections
like the eyes of an angry cat.

Montanelli had risen, and was looking down at
him silently. He did not understand the drift of
the frenzied reproaches, but he understood out of
what extremity they were uttered; and, understanding
that, forgave all past insults.

"Hush!" he said. "I did not want to hurt you
so. Indeed, I never meant to shift my burden
on to you, who have too much already. I have
never consciously done that to any living creature----"

"It's a lie!" the Gadfly cried out with blazing
eyes. "And the bishopric?"

"The--bishopric?"

"Ah! you've forgotten that? It's so easy to
forget! 'If you wish it, Arthur, I will say I cannot
go. I was to decide your life for you--I, at
nineteen! If it weren't so hideous, it would be funny."

"Stop!" Montanelli put up both hands to his
head with a desperate cry. He let them fall again,
and walked slowly away to the window. There he
sat down on the sill, resting one arm on the bars,
and pressing his forehead against it. The Gadfly
lay and watched him, trembling.

Presently Montanelli rose and came back, with
lips as pale as ashes.

"I am very sorry," he said, struggling piteously
to keep up his usual quiet manner, "but I must
go home. I--am not quite well."

He was shivering as if with ague. All the Gadfly's
fury broke down.

"Padre, can't you see----"

Montanelli shrank away, and stood still.

"Only not that!" he whispered at last. "My
God, anything but that! If I am going mad----"

The Gadfly raised himself on one arm, and took
the shaking hands in his.

"Padre, will you never understand that I am
not really drowned?"

The hands grew suddenly cold and stiff. For a
moment everything was dead with silence, and
then Montanelli knelt down and hid his face on
the Gadfly's breast.

      .      .      .      .      .

When he raised his head the sun had set, and
the red glow was dying in the west. They had
forgotten time and place, and life and death; they
had forgotten, even, that they were enemies.

"Arthur," Montanelli whispered, "are you
real? Have you come back to me from the dead?"

"From the dead----" the Gadfly repeated,
shivering. He was lying with his head on Montanelli's
arm, as a sick child might lie in its mother's embrace.

"You have come back--you have come back
at last!"

The Gadfly sighed heavily. "Yes," he said;
"and you have to fight me, or to kill me."

"Oh, hush, carino! What is all that now? We
have been like two children lost in the dark,
mistaking one another for phantoms. Now we have
found each other, and have come out into the
light. My poor boy, how changed you are--how
changed you are! You look as if all the ocean of
the world's misery had passed over your head--
you that used to be so full of the joy of life!
Arthur, is it really you? I have dreamed so often
that you had come back to me; and then have
waked and seen the outer darkness staring in
upon an empty place. How can I know I shall
not wake again and find it all a dream? Give
me something tangible--tell me how it all happened."

"It happened simply enough. I hid on a goods
vessel, as stowaway, and got out to South America."

"And there?"

"There I--lived, if you like to call it so, till--
oh, I have seen something else besides theological
seminaries since you used to teach me philosophy!
You say you have dreamed of me--yes, and
much! You say you have dreamed of me--yes,
and I of you----"

He broke off, shuddering.

"Once," he began again abruptly, "I was working
at a mine in Ecuador----"

"Not as a miner?"

"No, as a miner's fag--odd-jobbing with the
coolies. We had a barrack to sleep in at the pit's
mouth; and one night--I had been ill, the same
as lately, and carrying stones in the blazing
sun--I must have got light-headed, for I saw you
come in at the door-way. You were holding a
crucifix like that one on the wall. You were praying,
and brushed past me without turning. I
cried out to you to help me--to give me poison or
a knife--something to put an end to it all before I
went mad. And you--ah------!"

He drew one hand across his eyes. Montanelli
was still clasping the other.

"I saw in your face that you had heard, but you
never looked round; you went on with your prayers.
When you had finished, and kissed the crucifix,
you glanced round and whispered: 'I am
very sorry for you, Arthur; but I daren't show it;
He would be angry.' And I looked at Him, and
the wooden image was laughing.

"Then, when I came to my senses, and saw the
barrack and the coolies with their leprosy, I understood.
I saw that you care more to curry favour
with that devilish God of yours than to save me
from any hell. And I have remembered that. I
forgot just now when you touched me; I--have
been ill, and I used to love you once. But there
can be nothing between us but war, and war,
and war. What do you want to hold my hand for?
Can't you see that while you believe in your Jesus
we can't be anything but enemies?"

Montanelli bent his head and kissed the mutilated hand.

"Arthur, how can I help believing in Him? If
I have kept my faith through all these frightful
years, how can I ever doubt Him any more, now
that He has given you back to me? Remember,
I thought I had killed you."

"You have that still to do."

"Arthur!" It was a cry of actual terror; but
the Gadfly went on, unheeding:

"Let us be honest, whatever we do, and not
shilly-shally. You and I stand on two sides of a
pit, and it's hopeless trying to join hands across
it. If you have decided that you can't, or won't,
give up that thing"--he glanced again at the
crucifix on the wall--"you must consent to what
the colonel----"

"Consent! My God--consent--Arthur, but I
love you!"

The Gadfly's face contracted fearfully.

"Which do you love best, me or that thing?"

Montanelli slowly rose. The very soul in him
withered with dread, and he seemed to shrivel up
bodily, and to grow feeble, and old, and wilted,
like a leaf that the frost has touched. He had
awaked out of his dream, and the outer darkness
was staring in upon an empty place.

"Arthur, have just a little mercy on me----"

"How much had you for me when your lies
drove me out to be slave to the blacks on the
sugar-plantations? You shudder at that--ah,
these tender-hearted saints! This is the man
after God's own heart--the man that repents of
his sin and lives. No one dies but his son. You
say you love me,--your love has cost me dear
enough! Do you think I can blot out everything,
and turn back into Arthur at a few soft
words--I, that have been dish-washer in filthy
half-caste brothels and stable-boy to Creole farmers
that were worse brutes than their own cattle?
I, that have been zany in cap and bells for
a strolling variety show--drudge and Jack-of-all-trades
to the matadors in the bull-fighting
ring; I, that have been slave to every black
beast who cared to set his foot on my neck;
I, that have been starved and spat upon and
trampled under foot; I, that have begged for
mouldy scraps and been refused because the dogs
had the first right? Oh, what is the use of all this!
How can I TELL you what you have brought on me?
And now--you love me! How much do you love
me? Enough to give up your God for me? Oh,
what has He done for you, this everlasting Jesus,
--what has He suffered for you, that you should
love Him more than me? Is it for the pierced
hands He is so dear to you? Look at mine!
Look here, and here, and here----"

He tore open his shirt and showed the ghastly scars.

"Padre, this God of yours is an impostor, His
wounds are sham wounds, His pain is all a farce!
It is I that have the right to your heart! Padre,
there is no torture you have not put me to; if
you could only know what my life has been! And
yet I would not die! I have endured it all, and
have possessed my soul in patience, because I
would come back and fight this God of yours. I
have held this purpose as a shield against my
heart, and it has saved me from madness, and from
the second death. And now, when I come back,
I find Him still in my place--this sham victim that
was crucified for six hours, forsooth, and rose
again from the dead! Padre, I have been crucified
for five years, and I, too, have risen from the
dead. What are you going to do with me?
What are you going to do with me?"

He broke down. Montanelli sat like some
stone image, or like a dead man set upright. At
first, under the fiery torrent of the Gadfly's despair,
he had quivered a little, with the automatic
shrinking of the flesh, as under the lash
of a whip; but now he was quite still. After a
long silence he looked up and spoke, lifelessly,
patiently:

"Arthur, will you explain to me more clearly?
You confuse and terrify me so, I can't understand.
What is it you demand of me?"

The Gadfly turned to him a spectral face.

"I demand nothing. Who shall compel love?
You are free to choose between us two the one
who is most dear to you. If you love Him best,
choose Him."

"I can't understand," Montanelli repeated
wearily. "What is there I can choose? I cannot
undo the past."

"You have to choose between us. If you love
me, take that cross off your neck and come away
with me. My friends are arranging another
attempt, and with your help they could manage
it easily. Then, when we are safe over the frontier,
acknowledge me publicly. But if you don't
love me enough for that,--if this wooden idol is
more to you than I,--then go to the colonel and
tell him you consent. And if you go, then go at
once, and spare me the misery of seeing you. I
have enough without that."

Montanelli looked up, trembling faintly. He
was beginning to understand.

"I will communicate with your friends, of
course. But--to go with you--it is impossible--
I am a priest."

"And I accept no favours from priests. I will
have no more compromises, Padre; I have had
enough of them, and of their consequences. You
must give up your priesthood, or you must give
up me."

"How can I give you up? Arthur, how can I
give you up?"

"Then give up Him. You have to choose between
us. Would you offer me a share of your
love--half for me, half for your fiend of a God?
I will not take His leavings. If you are His, you
are not mine."

"Would you have me tear my heart in two?
Arthur! Arthur! Do you want to drive me
mad?"

The Gadfly struck his hand against the wall.

"You have to choose between us," he repeated
once more.

Montanelli drew from his breast a little case
containing a bit of soiled and crumpled paper.

"Look!" he said.


"I believed in you, as I believed in God. God is
a thing made of clay, that I can smash with a hammer;
and you have fooled me with a lie."


The Gadfly laughed and handed it back. "How
d-d-delightfully young one is at nineteen! To
take a hammer and smash things seems so easy.
It's that now--only it's I that am under the hammer.
As for you, there are plenty of other people
you can fool with lies--and they won't even find
you out."

"As you will," Montanelli said. "Perhaps in
your place I should be as merciless as you--God
knows. I can't do what you ask, Arthur; but I
will do what I can. I will arrange your escape,
and when you are safe I will have an accident in
the mountains, or take the wrong sleeping-draught
by mistake--whatever you like to choose.
Will that content you? It is all I can do. It is a
great sin; but I think He will forgive me. He is
more merciful------"

The Gadfly flung out both hands with a sharp cry.

"Oh, that is too much! That is too much!
What have I done that you should think of me
that way? What right have you---- As if I
wanted to be revenged on you! Can't you see
that I only want to save you? Will you never
understand that I love you?"

He caught hold of Montanelli's hands and
covered them with burning kisses and tears.

"Padre, come away with us! What have you
to do with this dead world of priests and idols?
They are full of the dust of bygone ages; they are
rotten; they are pestilent and foul! Come out of
this plague-stricken Church--come away with us
into the light! Padre, it is we that are life and
youth; it is we that are the everlasting springtime;
it is we that are the future! Padre, the dawn is
close upon us--will you miss your part in the sunrise?
Wake up, and let us forget the horrible
nightmares,--wake up, and we will begin our life
again! Padre, I have always loved you--always,
even when you killed me--will you kill me again?"

Montanelli tore his hands away. "Oh, God
have mercy on me!" he cried out. "YOU HAVE
YOUR MOTHER'S EYES!"

A strange silence, long and deep and sudden, fell
upon them both. In the gray twilight they
looked at each other, and their hearts stood still
with fear.

"Have you anything more to say?" Montanelli
whispered. "Any--hope to give me?"

"No. My life is of no use to me except to
fight priests. I am not a man; I am a knife. If
you let me live, you sanction knives."

Montanelli turned to the crucifix. "God!
Listen to this----"

His voice died away into the empty stillness
without response. Only the mocking devil awoke
again in the Gadfly.

"'C-c-call him louder; perchance he s-s-sleepeth'----"

Montanelli started up as if he had been struck.
For a moment he stood looking straight before
him;--then he sat down on the edge of the pallet,
covered his face with both hands, and burst into
tears. A long shudder passed through the Gadfly,
and the damp cold broke out on his body. He
knew what the tears meant.

He drew the blanket over his head that he might
not hear. It was enough that he had to die--he
who was so vividly, magnificently alive. But he
could not shut out the sound; it rang in his
ears, it beat in his brain, it throbbed in all his
pulses. And still Montanelli sobbed and sobbed,
and the tears dripped down between his fingers.

He left off sobbing at last, and dried his eyes
with his handkerchief, like a child that has been
crying. As he stood up the handkerchief slipped
from his knee and fell to the floor.

"There is no use in talking any more," he said.
"You understand?"

"I understand," the Gadfly answered, with dull
submission. "It's not your fault. Your God is
hungry, and must be fed."

Montanelli turned towards him. The grave
that was to be dug was not more still than they
were. Silent, they looked into each other's eyes,
as two lovers, torn apart, might gaze across the
barrier they cannot pass.

It was the Gadfly whose eyes sank first. He
shrank down, hiding his face; and Montanelli
understood that the gesture meant "Go!" He
turned, and went out of the cell. A moment
later the Gadfly started up.

"Oh, I can't bear it! Padre, come back!
Come back!"

The door was shut. He looked around him
slowly, with a wide, still gaze, and understood that
all was over. The Galilean had conquered.

All night long the grass waved softly in the
courtyard below--the grass that was so soon to
wither, uprooted by the spade; and all night long
the Gadfly lay alone in the darkness, and sobbed.



CHAPTER VII.

THE court-martial was held on Tuesday morning.
It was a very short and simple affair; a
mere formality, occupying barely twenty minutes.
There was, indeed, nothing to spend much time
over; no defence was allowed, and the only witnesses
were the wounded spy and officer and a
few soldiers. The sentence was drawn up beforehand;
Montanelli had sent in the desired informal
consent; and the judges (Colonel Ferrari, the local
major of dragoons, and two officers of the Swiss
guards) had little to do. The indictment was
read aloud, the witnesses gave their evidence, and
the signatures were affixed to the sentence, which
was then read to the condemned man with befitting
solemnity. He listened in silence; and when
asked, according to the usual form, whether he had
anything to say, merely waved the question aside
with an impatient movement of his hand. Hidden
on his breast was the handkerchief which Montanelli
had let fall. It had been kissed and wept
over all night, as though it were a living thing.
Now he looked wan and spiritless, and the traces
of tears were still about his eyelids; but the words:
"to be shot," did not seem to affect him much.
When they were uttered, the pupils of his eyes
dilated, but that was all.

"Take him back to his cell," the Governor said.
when all the formalities were over; and the sergeant,
who was evidently near to breaking down,
touched the motionless figure on the shoulder.
The Gadfly looked round him with a little start.

"Ah, yes!" he said. "I forgot."

There was something almost like pity in the
Governor's face. He was not a cruel man by
nature, and was secretly a little ashamed of the
part he had been playing during the last month.
Now that his main point was gained he was willing
to make every little concession in his power.

"You needn't put the irons on again," he said,
glancing at the bruised and swollen wrists. "And
he can stay in his own cell. The condemned cell
is wretchedly dark and gloomy," he added, turning
to his nephew; "and really the thing's a mere
formality."

He coughed and shifted his feet in evident embarrassment;
then called back the sergeant, who
was leaving the room with his prisoner.

"Wait, sergeant; I want to speak to him."

The Gadfly did not move, and the Governor's
voice seemed to fall on unresponsive ears.

"If you have any message you would like conveyed
to your friends or relatives---- You have
relatives, I suppose?"

There was no answer.

"Well, think it over and tell me, or the priest.
I will see it is not neglected. You had better give
your messages to the priest; he shall come at once,
and stay the night with you. If there is any other
wish----"

The Gadfly looked up.

"Tell the priest I would rather be alone. I
have no friends and no messages."

"But you will want to confess."

"I am an atheist. I want nothing but to be
left in peace."

He said it in a dull, quiet voice, without defiance
or irritation; and turned slowly away. At the
door he stopped again.

"I forgot, colonel; there is a favour I wanted
to ask. Don't let them tie me or bandage my
eyes to-morrow, please. I will stand quite still."

      .      .      .      .      .

At sunrise on Wednesday morning they brought
him out into the courtyard. His lameness was
more than usually apparent, and he walked with
evident difficulty and pain, leaning heavily on the
sergeant's arm; but all the weary submission had
gone out of his face. The spectral terrors that
had crushed him down in the empty silence, the
visions and dreams of the world of shadows, were
gone with the night which gave them birth; and
once the sun was shining and his enemies were
present to rouse the fighting spirit in him, he was
not afraid.

The six carabineers who had been told off for
the execution were drawn up in line against the
ivied wall; the same crannied and crumbling wall
down which he had climbed on the night of his
unlucky attempt. They could hardly refrain from
weeping as they stood together, each man with his
carbine in his hand. It seemed to them a horror
beyond imagination that they should be called out
to kill the Gadfly. He and his stinging repartees,
his perpetual laughter, his bright, infectious courage,
had come into their dull and dreary lives like
a wandering sunbeam; and that he should die, and
at their hands, was to them as the darkening of
the clear lamps of heaven.

Under the great fig-tree in the courtyard, his
grave was waiting for him. It had been dug in
the night by unwilling hands; and tears had fallen
on the spade. As he passed he looked down,
smiling, at the black pit and the withering grass
beside it; and drew a long breath, to smell the
scent of the freshly turned earth.

Near the tree the sergeant stopped short, and
the Gadfly looked round with his brightest smile.

"Shall I stand here, sergeant?"

The man nodded silently; there was a lump in
his throat, and he could not have spoken to save
his life. The Governor, his nephew, the lieutenant
of carabineers who was to command, a doctor and
a priest were already in the courtyard, and came
forward with grave faces, half abashed under the
radiant defiance of the Gadfly's laughing eyes.

"G-good morning, gentlemen! Ah, and his
reverence is up so early, too! How do you do,
captain? This is a pleasanter occasion for you
than our former meeting, isn't it? I see your arm
is still in a sling; that's because I bungled my
work. These good fellows will do theirs better--
won't you, lads?"

He glanced round at the gloomy faces of the
carabineers.

"There'll be no need of slings this time, any way.
There, there, you needn't look so doleful over it!
Put your heels together and show how straight
you can shoot. Before long there'll be more work
cut out for you than you'll know how to get
through, and there's nothing like practice beforehand."

"My son," the priest interrupted, coming forward,
while the others drew back to leave them
alone together; "in a few minutes you must enter
into the presence of your Maker. Have you no
other use but this for these last moments that are
left you for repentance? Think, I entreat you,
how dreadful a thing it is to die without absolution,
with all your sins upon your head. When
you stand before your Judge it will be too late to
repent. Will you approach His awful throne with
a jest upon your lips?"

"A jest, your reverence? It is your side that
needs that little homily, I think. When our turn
comes we shall use field-guns instead of half a
dozen second-hand carbines, and then you'll see
how much we're in jest."

"YOU will use field-guns! Oh, unhappy man!
Have you still not realized on what frightful brink
you stand?"

The Gadfly glanced back over his shoulder at
the open grave.

"And s-s-so your reverence thinks that, when
you have put me down there, you will have done
with me? Perhaps you will lay a stone on the top
to pre-v-vent a r-resurrection 'after three days'?
No fear, your reverence! I shan't poach on the
monopoly in cheap theatricals; I shall lie as still as
a m-mouse, just where you put me. And all the
same, WE shall use field-guns."

"Oh, merciful God," the priest cried out; "forgive
this wretched man!"

"Amen!" murmured the lieutenant of carabineers,
in a deep bass growl, while the colonel and
his nephew crossed themselves devoutly.

As there was evidently no hope of further insistence
producing any effect, the priest gave up the
fruitless attempt and moved aside, shaking his
head and murmuring a prayer. The short and
simple preparations were made without more delay,
and the Gadfly placed himself in the required
position, only turning his head to glance up for
a moment at the red and yellow splendour of the
sunrise. He had repeated the request that his
eyes might not be bandaged, and his defiant face
had wrung from the colonel a reluctant consent.
They had both forgotten what they were inflicting
on the soldiers.

He stood and faced them, smiling, and the carbines
shook in their hands.

"I am quite ready," he said.

The lieutenant stepped forward, trembling a
little with excitement. He had never given the
word of command for an execution before.

"Ready--present--fire!"

The Gadfly staggered a little and recovered his
balance. One unsteady shot had grazed his cheek,
and a little blood fell on to the white cravat.
Another ball had struck him above the knee.
When the smoke cleared away the soldiers looked
and saw him smiling still and wiping the blood
from his cheek with the mutilated hand

"A bad shot, men!" he said; and his voice cut
in, clear and articulate, upon the dazed stupor of
the wretched soldiers. "Have another try."

A general groan and shudder passed through
the row of carabineers. Each man had aimed aside,
with a secret hope that the death-shot would come
from his neighbour's hand, not his; and there the
Gadfly stood and smiled at them; they had only
turned the execution into a butchery, and the
whole ghastly business was to do again. They
were seized with sudden terror, and, lowering their
carbines, listened hopelessly to the furious curses
and reproaches of the officers, staring in dull
horror at the man whom they had killed and who
somehow was not dead.

The Governor shook his fist in their faces,
savagely shouting to them to stand in position,
to present arms, to make haste and get the thing
over. He had become as thoroughly demoralized
as they were, and dared not look at the terrible
figure that stood, and stood, and would not fall.
When the Gadfly spoke to him he started and
shuddered at the sound of the mocking voice.

"You have brought out the awkward squad this
morning, colonel! Let me see if I can manage
them better. Now, men! Hold your tool higher
there, you to the left. Bless your heart, man, it's
a carbine you've got in your hand, not a frying-pan!
Are you all straight? Now then! Ready--present----"

"Fire!" the colonel interrupted, starting forward.
It was intolerable that this man should
give the command for his own death.

There was another confused, disorganized volley,
and the line broke up into a knot of shivering
figures, staring before them with wild eyes. One
of the soldiers had not even discharged his carbine;
he had flung it away, and crouched down, moaning
under his breath: "I can't--I can't!"

The smoke cleared slowly away, floating up into
the glimmer of the early sunlight; and they saw
that the Gadfly had fallen; and saw, too, that he
was still not dead. For the first moment soldiers
and officials stood as if they had been turned to
stone, and watched the ghastly thing that writhed
and struggled on the ground; then both doctor
and colonel rushed forward with a cry, for he had
dragged himself up on one knee and was still facing
the soldiers, and still laughing.

"Another miss! Try--again, lads--see--if you can't----"

He suddenly swayed and fell over sideways on
the grass.

"Is he dead?" the colonel asked under his
breath; and the doctor, kneeling down, with a
hand on the bloody shirt, answered softly:

"I think so--God be praised!"

"God be praised!" the colonel repeated. "At
last!"

His nephew was touching him on the arm.

"Uncle! It's the Cardinal! He's at the gate
and wants to come in."

"What? He can't come in--I won't have
it! What are the guards about? Your Eminence----"

The gate had opened and shut, and Montanelli
was standing in the courtyard, looking before him
with still and awful eyes.

"Your Eminence! I must beg of you--this is
not a fit sight for you! The execution is only just
over; the body is not yet----"

"I have come to look at him," Montanelli said.
Even at the moment it struck the Governor that
his voice and bearing were those of a sleep-walker.

"Oh, my God!" one of the soldiers cried out
suddenly; and the Governor glanced hastily back.
Surely------

The blood-stained heap on the grass had once
more begun to struggle and moan. The doctor
flung himself down and lifted the head upon his knee.

"Make haste!" he cried in desperation. "You
savages, make haste! Get it over, for God's sake!
There's no bearing this!"

Great jets of blood poured over his hands, and
the convulsions of the figure that he held in his
arms shook him, too, from head to foot. As he
looked frantically round for help, the priest bent
over his shoulder and put a crucifix to the lips of
the dying man.

"In the name of the Father and of the Son----"

The Gadfly raised himself against the doctor's
knee, and, with wide-open eyes, looked straight
upon the crucifix.

Slowly, amid hushed and frozen stillness, he
lifted the broken right hand and pushed away the
image. There was a red smear across its face.

"Padre--is your--God--satisfied?"

His head fell back on the doctor's arm.

      .      .      .      .      .

"Your Eminence!"

As the Cardinal did not awake from his stupor,
Colonel Ferrari repeated, louder:

"Your Eminence!"

Montanelli looked up.

"He is dead."

"Quite dead, your Eminence. Will you not
come away? This is a horrible sight."

"He is dead," Montanelli repeated, and looked
down again at the face. "I touched him; and he
is dead."

"What does he expect a man to be with half a
dozen bullets in him?" the lieutenant whispered
contemptuously; and the doctor whispered back.
"I think the sight of the blood has upset him."

The Governor put his hand firmly on Montanelli's arm.

"Your Eminence--you had better not look at
him any longer. Will you allow the chaplain to
escort you home?"

"Yes--I will go."

He turned slowly from the blood-stained spot
and walked away, the priest and sergeant following.
At the gate he paused and looked back, with
a ghostlike, still surprise.

"He is dead."

      .      .      .      .      .

A few hours later Marcone went up to a cottage
on the hillside to tell Martini that there
was no longer any need for him to throw away his
life.

All the preparations for a second attempt at
rescue were ready, as the plot was much more
simple than the former one. It had been arranged
that on the following morning, as the Corpus
Domini procession passed along the fortress hill,
Martini should step forward out of the crowd,
draw a pistol from his breast, and fire in the Governor's
face. In the moment of wild confusion
which would follow twenty armed men were to
make a sudden rush at the gate, break into the
tower, and, taking the turnkey with them by force,
to enter the prisoner's cell and carry him bodily
away, killing or overpowering everyone who interfered
with them. From the gate they were to
retire fighting, and cover the retreat of a second
band of armed and mounted smugglers, who would
carry him off into a safe hiding-place in the
hills. The only person in the little group who
knew nothing of the plan was Gemma; it had been
kept from her at Martini's special desire. "She
will break her heart over it soon enough," he had
said.

As the smuggler came in at the garden gate
Martini opened the glass door and stepped out
on to the verandah to meet him.

"Any news, Marcone? Ah!"

The smuggler had pushed back his broad-brimmed
straw hat.

They sat down together on the verandah. Not
a word was spoken on either side. From the
instant when Martini had caught sight of the face
under the hat-brim he had understood.

"When was it?" he asked after a long pause;
and his own voice, in his ears, was as dull and
wearisome as everything else.

"This morning, at sunrise. The sergeant told
me. He was there and saw it."

Martini looked down and flicked a stray thread
from his coat-sleeve.

Vanity of vanities; this also is vanity. He was
to have died to-morrow. And now the land
of his heart's desire had vanished, like the fairyland
of golden sunset dreams that fades away when
the darkness comes; and he was driven back into
the world of every day and every night--the world
of Grassini and Galli, of ciphering and pamphleteering,
of party squabbles between comrades
and dreary intrigues among Austrian spies--of the
old revolutionary mill-round that maketh the
heart sick. And somewhere down at the bottom
of his consciousness there was a great empty place;
a place that nothing and no one would fill any
more, now that the Gadfly was dead.

Someone was asking him a question, and he
raised his head, wondering what could be left that
was worth the trouble of talking about.

"What did you say?"

"I was saying that of course you will break the
news to her."

Life, and all the horror of life, came back into
Martini's face.

"How can I tell her?" he cried out. "You
might as well ask me to go and stab her. Oh,
how can I tell her--how can I!"

He had clasped both hands over his eyes; but,
without seeing, he felt the smuggler start beside
him, and looked up. Gemma was standing in the
doorway.

"Have you heard, Cesare?" she said. "It is
all over. They have shot him."



CHAPTER VIII.

"INTROIBO ad altare Dei." Montanelli stood
before the high altar among his ministers and acolytes
and read the Introit aloud in steady tones.
All the Cathedral was a blaze of light and colour;
from the holiday dresses of the congregation to
the pillars with their flaming draperies and wreaths
of flowers there was no dull spot in it. Over the
open spaces of the doorway fell great scarlet curtains,
through whose folds the hot June sunlight
glowed, as through the petals of red poppies in
a corn-field. The religious orders with their candles
and torches, the companies of the parishes
with their crosses and flags, lighted up the dim
side-chapels; and in the aisles the silken folds of
the processional banners drooped, their gilded
staves and tassels glinting under the arches. The
surplices of the choristers gleamed, rainbow-tinted,
beneath the coloured windows; the sunlight
lay on the chancel floor in chequered stains of
orange and purple and green. Behind the altar
hung a shimmering veil of silver tissue; and against
the veil and the decorations and the altar-lights
the Cardinal's figure stood out in its trailing white
robes like a marble statue that had come to life.

As was customary on processional days, he was
only to preside at the Mass, not to celebrate, so
at the end of the Indulgentiam he turned from the
altar and walked slowly to the episcopal throne,
celebrant and ministers bowing low as he passed.

"I'm afraid His Eminence is not well," one of
the canons whispered to his neighbour; "he seems
so strange."

Montanelli bent his head to receive the jewelled
mitre. The priest who was acting as deacon of
honour put it on, looked at him for an instant,
then leaned forward and whispered softly:

"Your Eminence, are you ill?"

Montanelli turned slightly towards him. There
was no recognition in his eyes.

"Pardon, Your Eminence!" the priest whispered,
as he made a genuflexion and went back to
his place, reproaching himself for having interrupted
the Cardinal's devotions.

The familiar ceremony went on; and Montanelli
sat erect and still, his glittering mitre and gold-brocaded
vestments flashing back the sunlight,
and the heavy folds of his white festival mantle
sweeping down over the red carpet. The light of a
hundred candles sparkled among the sapphires on
his breast, and shone into the deep, still eyes that
had no answering gleam; and when, at the words:
"Benedicite, pater eminentissime," he stooped to
bless the incense, and the sunbeams played among
the diamonds, he might have recalled some splendid
and fearful ice-spirit of the mountains, crowned
with rainbows and robed in drifted snow, scattering,
with extended hands, a shower of blessings or
of curses.

At the elevation of the Host he descended from
his throne and knelt before the altar. There was
a strange, still evenness about all his movements;
and as he rose and went back to his place the major
of dragoons, who was sitting in gala uniform behind
the Governor, whispered to the wounded
captain: "The old Cardinal's breaking, not a
doubt of it. He goes through his work like a
machine."

"So much the better!" the captain whispered
back. "He's been nothing but a mill-stone round
all our necks ever since that confounded amnesty."

"He did give in, though, about the court-martial."

"Yes, at last; but he was a precious time making
up his mind to. Heavens, how close it is!
We shall all get sun-stroke in the procession. It's
a pity we're not Cardinals, to have a canopy held
over our heads all the way---- Sh-sh-sh!
There's my uncle looking at us!"

Colonel Ferrari had turned round to glance
severely at the two younger officers. After the
solemn event of yesterday morning he was in a
devout and serious frame of mind, and inclined to
reproach them with a want of proper feeling about
what he regarded as "a painful necessity of state."

The masters of the ceremonies began to
assemble and place in order those who were to
take part in the procession. Colonel Ferrari rose
from his place and moved up to the chancel-rail,
beckoning to the other officers to accompany him.
When the Mass was finished, and the Host had
been placed behind the crystal shield in the processional
sun, the celebrant and his ministers retired
to the sacristy to change their vestments, and a
little buzz of whispered conversation broke out
through the church. Montanelli remained seated
on his throne, looking straight before him, immovably.
All the sea of human life and motion
seemed to surge around and below him, and to die
away into stillness about his feet. A censer was
brought to him; and he raised his hand with the
action of an automaton, and put the incense into
the vessel, looking neither to the right nor to the left.

The clergy had come back from the sacristy,
and were waiting in the chancel for him to descend;
but he remained utterly motionless. The
deacon of honour, bending forward to take off the
mitre, whispered again, hesitatingly:

"Your Eminence!"

The Cardinal looked round.

"What did you say?"

"Are you quite sure the procession will not be
too much for you? The sun is very hot."

"What does the sun matter?"

Montanelli spoke in a cold, measured voice,
and the priest again fancied that he must have
given offence.

"Forgive me, Your Eminence. I thought you
seemed unwell."

Montanelli rose without answering. He paused
a moment on the upper step of the throne, and
asked in the same measured way:

"What is that?"

The long train of his mantle swept down over the
steps and lay spread out on the chancel-floor, and
he was pointing to a fiery stain on the white satin.

"It's only the sunlight shining through a coloured
window, Your Eminence."

"The sunlight? Is it so red?"

He descended the steps, and knelt before the
altar, swinging the censer slowly to and fro. As
he handed it back, the chequered sunlight fell on
his bared head and wide, uplifted eyes, and cast a
crimson glow across the white veil that his ministers
were folding round him.

He took from the deacon the sacred golden sun;
and stood up, as choir and organ burst into a peal
of triumphal melody.


       "Pange, lingua, g]oriosi
        Corporis mysterium,
        Sanguinisque pretiosi
        Quem in mundi pretium,
        Fructus ventris generosi
        Rex effudit gentium."


The bearers came slowly forward, and raised the
silken canopy over his head, while the deacons of
honour stepped to their places at his right and left
and drew back the long folds of the mantle. As
the acolytes stooped to lift his robe from the
chancel-floor, the lay fraternities heading the procession
started to pace down the nave in stately
double file, with lighted candles held to left and right.

He stood above them, by the altar, motionless
under the white canopy, holding the Eucharist
aloft with steady hands, and watched them as they
passed. Two by two, with candles and banners
and torches, with crosses and images and flags,
they swept slowly down the chancel steps, along
the broad nave between the garlanded pillars, and
out under the lifted scarlet curtains into the blazing
sunlight of the street; and the sound of their
chanting died into a rolling murmur, drowned in
the pealing of new and newer voices, as the unending
stream flowed on, and yet new footsteps echoed down the nave.

The companies of the parishes passed, with their
white shrouds and veiled faces; then the brothers
of the Misericordia, black from head to foot,
their eyes faintly gleaming through the holes in
their masks. Next came the monks in solemn
row: the mendicant friars, with their dusky cowls
and bare, brown feet; the white-robed, grave Dominicans.
Then followed the lay officials of the
district; dragoons and carabineers and the local
police-officials; the Governor in gala uniform, with
his brother officers beside him. A deacon followed,
holding up a great cross between two
acolytes with gleaming candles; and as the curtains
were lifted high to let them pass out at the
doorway, Montanelli caught a momentary glimpse,
from where he stood under the canopy, of the sunlit
blaze of carpeted street and flag-hung walls and
white-robed children scattering roses. Ah, the
roses; how red they were!

On and on the procession paced in order; form
succeeding to form and colour to colour. Long
white surplices, grave and seemly, gave place to
gorgeous vestments and embroidered pluvials.
Now passed a tall and slender golden cross, borne
high above the lighted candles; now the cathedral
canons, stately in their dead white mantles. A
chaplain paced down the chancel, with the crozier
between two flaring torches; then the acolytes
moved forward in step, their censers swinging to
the rhythm of the music; the bearers raised the
canopy higher, counting their steps: "One, two;
one, two!" and Montanelli started upon the Way
of the Cross.

Down the chancel steps and all along the nave
he passed; under the gallery where the organ
pealed and thundered; under the lifted curtains
that were so red--so fearfully red; and out into
the glaring street, where the blood-red roses lay
and withered, crushed into the red carpet by the
passing of many feet. A moment's pause at the
door, while the lay officials came forward to replace
the canopy-bearers; then the procession moved on
again, and he with it, his hands clasping the
Eucharistic sun, and the voices of the choristers
swelling and dying around him, with the rhythmical
swaying of censers and the rolling tramp of feet.


       "Verbum caro, panem verum,
        Verbo carnem efficit;
        Sitque sanguis Christi merum----"


Always blood and always blood! The carpet
stretched before him like a red river; the roses lay
like blood splashed on the stones---- Oh, God!
Is all Thine earth grown red, and all Thy heaven?
Ah, what is it to Thee, Thou mighty God----
Thou, whose very lips are smeared with blood!


       "Tantum ergo Sacramentum,
        Veneremur cernui."


He looked through the crystal shield at the
Eucharist. What was that oozing from the wafer--
dripping down between the points of the golden
sun--down on to his white robe? What had he seen
dripping down--dripping from a lifted hand?

The grass in the courtyard was trampled and
red,--all red,--there was so much blood. It was
trickling down the cheek, and dripping from the
pierced right hand, and gushing in a hot red torrent
from the wounded side. Even a lock of the
hair was dabbled in it,--the hair that lay all wet
and matted on the forehead--ah, that was the
death-sweat; it came from the horrible pain.

The voices of the choristers rose higher, triumphantly:


       "Genitori, genitoque,
        Laus et jubilatio,
        Salus, honor, virtus quoque,
        Sit et benedictio."


Oh, that is more than any patience can endure!
God, Who sittest on the brazen heavens enthroned,
and smilest with bloody lips, looking
down upon agony and death, is it not enough? Is
it not enough, without this mockery of praise and
blessing? Body of Christ, Thou that wast broken
for the salvation of men; blood of Christ, Thou
that wast shed for the remission of sins; is it not
enough?

"Ah, call Him louder; perchance He sleepeth!

Dost Thou sleep indeed, dear love; and wilt
Thou never wake again? Is the grave so jealous
of its victory; and will the black pit under the tree
not loose Thee even for a little, heart's delight?

Then the Thing behind the crystal shield made
answer, and the blood dripped down as It spoke:

"Hast thou chosen, and wilt repent of thy
choice? Is thy desire not fulfilled? Look upon
these men that walk in the light and are clad in
silk and in gold: for their sake was I laid in the
black pit. Look upon the children scattering
roses, and hearken to their singing if it be sweet:
for their sake is my mouth filled with dust, and the
roses are red from the well-springs of my heart.
See where the people kneel to drink the blood that
drips from thy garment-hem: for their sake was
it shed, to quench their ravening thirst. For it is
written: 'Greater love hath no man than this, if
a man lay down his life for his friends.'"

"Oh, Arthur, Arthur; there is greater love than
this! If a man lay down the life of his best beloved,
is not that greater?"

And It answered again:

"Who is thy best beloved? In sooth, not I."

And when he would have spoken the words
froze on his tongue, for the singing of the choristers
passed over them, as the north wind over icy
pools, and hushed them into silence:


     "Dedit fragilibus corporis ferculum,
      Dedit et tristibus sanguinis poculum,
      Dicens: Accipite, quod trado vasculum
              Omnes ex eo bibite."


Drink of it, Christians; drink of it, all of you!
Is it not yours? For you the red stream stains
the grass; for you the living flesh is seared and
torn. Eat of it, cannibals; eat of it, all of you!
This is your feast and your orgy; this is the day of
your joy! Haste you and come to the festival;
join the procession and march with us; women
and children, young men and old men--come to
the sharing of flesh! Come to the pouring of
blood-wine and drink of it while it is red; take
and eat of the Body----

Ah, God; the fortress! Sullen and brown, with
crumbling battlements and towers dark among the
barren hills, it scowled on the procession sweeping
past in the dusty road below. The iron teeth
of the portcullis were drawn down over the mouth
of the gate; and as a beast crouched on the mountain-side,
the fortress guarded its prey. Yet, be
the teeth clenched never so fast, they shall be
broken and riven asunder; and the grave in the
courtyard within shall yield up her dead. For the
Christian hosts are marching, marching in mighty
procession to their sacramental feast of blood, as
marches an army of famished rats to the gleaning;
and their cry is: "Give! Give!" and they say
not: "It is enough."

"Wilt thou not be satisfied? For these men
was I sacrificed; thou hast destroyed me that they
might live; and behold, they march everyone on
his ways, and they shall not break their ranks.

"This is the army of Christians, the followers of
thy God; a great people and a strong. A fire
devoureth before them, and behind them a flame
burneth; the land is as the garden of Eden before
them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea,
and nothing shall escape them."

"Oh, yet come back, come back to me, beloved;
for I repent me of my choice! Come back, and we
will creep away together, to some dark and silent
grave where the devouring army shall not find us;
and we will lay us down there, locked in one another's
arms, and sleep, and sleep, and sleep. And
the hungry Christians shall pass by in the merciless
daylight above our heads; and when they howl
for blood to drink and for flesh to eat, their cry
shall be faint in our ears; and they shall pass on
their ways and leave us to our rest."

And It answered yet again:

"Where shall I hide me? Is it not written:
'They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall
run upon the wall; they shall climb up upon the
houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a
thief?' If I build me a tomb on the mountain-top,
shall they not break it open? If I dig me a
grave in the river-bed, shall they not tear it up?
Verily, they are keen as blood-hounds to seek out
their prey; and for them are my wounds red, that
they may drink. Canst thou not hear them, what
they sing?"

And they sang, as they went in between the
scarlet curtains of the Cathedral door; for the
procession was over, and all the roses were strewn:


       "Ave, verum Corpus, natum
        De Maria Virgine:
        Vere passum, immolatum
        In cruce pro homine!
        Cujus latus perforatum
        Undam fluxit cum sanguinae;
        Esto nobis praegustatum
        Mortis in examinae."


And when they had left off singing, he entered
at the doorway, and passed between the silent rows
of monks and priests, where they knelt, each man
in his place, with the lighted candles uplifted.
And he saw their hungry eyes fixed on the sacred
Body that he bore; and he knew why they bowed
their heads as he passed. For the dark stream
ran down the folds of his white vestments; and on
the stones of the Cathedral floor his footsteps left
a deep, red stain.

So he passed up the nave to the chancel rails;
and there the bearers paused, and he went out
from under the canopy and up to the altar steps.
To left and right the white-robed acolytes knelt
with their censers and the chaplains with their
torches; and their eyes shone greedily in the flaring
light as they watched the Body of the Victim.

And as he stood before the altar, holding aloft
with blood-stained hands the torn and mangled
body of his murdered love, the voices of the guests
bidden to the Eucharistic feast rang out in another
peal of song:


       "Oh salutaris Hostia,
        Quae coeli pandis ostium;
        Bella praemunt hostilia,
        Da robur, fer, auxilium!"


Ah, and now they come to take the Body----
Go then, dear heart, to thy bitter doom, and open
the gates of heaven for these ravening wolves that
will not be denied. The gates that are opened for
me are the gates of the nethermost hell.

And as the deacon of honour placed the sacred
vessel on the altar, Montanelli sank down where
he had stood, and knelt upon the step; and from
the white altar above him the blood flowed down
and dripped upon his head. And the voices of the
singers rang on, pealing under the arches and
echoing along the vaulted roof:


       "Uni trinoque Domino
        Sit sempiterna gloria:
        Qui vitam sine termino
        Nobis donet in patria."


"Sine termino--sine termino!" Oh, happy
Jesus, Who could sink beneath His cross! Oh,
happy Jesus, Who could say: "It is finished!"
This doom is never ended; it is eternal as the stars
in their courses. This is the worm that dieth not
and the fire that is not quenched. "Sine termino,
sine termino!"

Wearily, patiently, he went through his part in
the remaining ceremonies, fulfilling mechanically,
from old habit, the rites that had no longer any
meaning for him. Then, after the benediction, he
knelt down again before the altar and covered his
face; and the voice of the priest reading aloud the
list of indulgences swelled and sank like a far-off
murmur from a world to which he belonged no more.

The voice broke off, and he stood up and
stretched out his hand for silence. Some of the
congregation were moving towards the doors; and
they turned back with a hurried rustle and murmur,
as a whisper went through the Cathedral:

"His Eminence is going to speak."

His ministers, startled and wondering, drew
closer to him and one of them whispered hastily:
"Your Eminence, do you intend to speak to the
people now?"

Montanelli silently waved him aside. The
priests drew back, whispering together; the thing
was unusual, even irregular; but it was within the
Cardinal's prerogative if he chose to do it. No
doubt, he had some statement of exceptional importance
to make; some new reform from Rome to announce or a
special communication from the Holy Father.

Montanelli looked down from the altar-steps
upon the sea of upturned faces. Full of eager
expectancy they looked up at him as he stood
above them, spectral and still and white.

"Sh-sh! Silence!" the leaders of the procession
called softly; and the murmuring of the congregation
died into stillness, as a gust of wind dies
among whispering tree-tops. All the crowd gazed
up, in breathless silence, at the white figure on the
altar-steps. Slowly and steadily he began to speak:

"It is written in the Gospel according to St.
John: 'God so loved the world, that He gave His
only begotten Son that the world through Him
might be saved.'

"This is the festival of the Body and Blood of
the Victim who was slain for your salvation; the
Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the
world; the Son of God, Who died for your transgressions.
And you are assembled here in solemn
festival array, to eat of the sacrifice that was given
for you, and to render thanks for this great mercy.
And I know that this morning, when you came to
share in the banquet, to eat of the Body of the
Victim, your hearts were filled with joy, as you
remembered the Passion of God the Son, Who
died, that you might be saved.

"But tell me, which among you has thought of
that other Passion--of the Passion of God the
Father, Who gave His Son to be crucified?
Which of you has remembered the agony of God
the Father, when He bent from His throne in the
heavens above, and looked down upon Calvary?

"I have watched you to-day, my people, as you
walked in your ranks in solemn procession; and I
have seen that your hearts are glad within you for
the remission of your sins, and that you rejoice in
your salvation. Yet I pray you that you consider
at what price that salvation was bought.
Surely it is very precious, and the price of it is
above rubies; it is the price of blood."

A faint, long shudder passed through the listening
crowd. In the chancel the priests bent forward
and whispered to one another; but the preacher went
on speaking, and they held their peace.

"Therefore it is that I speak with you this day:
I AM THAT I AM. For I looked upon your weakness
and your sorrow, and upon the little children
about your feet; and my heart was moved to compassion
for their sake, that they must die. Then
I looked into my dear son's eyes; and I knew that
the Atonement of Blood was there. And I went
my way, and left him to his doom.

"This is the remission of sins. He died for you,
and the darkness has swallowed him up; he is
dead, and there is no resurrection; he is dead, and
I have no son. Oh, my boy, my boy!"

The Cardinal's voice broke in a long, wailing
cry; and the voices of the terrified people answered
it like an echo. All the clergy had risen
from their places, and the deacons of honour
started forward to lay their hands on the preacher's
arm. But he wrenched it away, and faced them
suddenly, with the eyes of an angry wild beast.

"What is this? Is there not blood enough?
Wait your turn, jackals; you shall all be fed!"

They shrank away and huddled shivering together,
their panting breath thick and loud, their
faces white with the whiteness of chalk. Montanelli
turned again to the people, and they swayed
and shook before him, as a field of corn before
a hurricane.

"You have killed him! You have killed him!
And I suffered it, because I would not let you die.
And now, when you come about me with your
lying praises and your unclean prayers, I repent
me--I repent me that I have done this thing!
It were better that you all should rot in your vices,
in the bottomless filth of damnation, and that he
should live. What is the worth of your plague-spotted
souls, that such a price should be paid for
them? But it is too late--too late! I cry aloud,
but he does not hear me; I beat at the door of the
grave, but he will not wake; I stand alone, in
desert space, and look around me, from the blood-stained
earth where the heart of my heart lies
buried, to the void and awful heaven that is left
unto me, desolate. I have given him up; oh,
generation of vipers, I have given him up for you!

"Take your salvation, since it is yours! I fling
it to you as a bone is flung to a pack of snarling
curs! The price of your banquet is paid for
you; come, then, and gorge yourselves, cannibals,
bloodsuckers--carrion beasts that feed on the
dead! See where the blood streams down from
the altar, foaming and hot from my darling's
heart--the blood that was shed for you! Wallow
and lap it and smear yourselves red with it!
Snatch and fight for the flesh and devour it--and
trouble me no more! This is the body that was
given for you--look at it, torn and bleeding,
throbbing still with the tortured life, quivering
from the bitter death-agony; take it, Christians,
and eat!"

He had caught up the sun with the Host and
lifted it above his head; and now flung it crashing
down upon the floor. At the ring of the metal on
stone the clergy rushed forward together, and
twenty hands seized the madman.

Then, and only then, the silence of the people
broke in a wild, hysterical scream; and, overturning
chairs and benches, beating at the doorways,
trampling one upon another, tearing down curtains
and garlands in their haste, the surging,
sobbing human flood poured out upon the street.



EPILOGUE.


"GEMMA, there's a man downstairs who wants
to see you." Martini spoke in the subdued tone
which they had both unconsciously adopted during
these last ten days. That, and a certain slow
evenness of speech and movement, were the sole
expression which either of them gave to their grief.

Gemma, with bare arms and an apron over her
dress, was standing at a table, putting up little
packages of cartridges for distribution. She had
stood over the work since early morning; and
now, in the glaring afternoon, her face looked haggard
with fatigue.

"A man, Cesare? What does he want?"

"I don't know, dear. He wouldn't tell me.
He said he must speak to you alone."

"Very well." She took off her apron and
pulled down the sleeves of her dress. "I must go
to him, I suppose; but very likely it's only a spy."

"In any case, I shall be in the next room, within
call. As soon as you get rid of him you had better
go and lie down a bit. You have been standing
too long to-day."

"Oh, no! I would rather go on working."

She went slowly down the stairs, Martini following
in silence. She had grown to look ten years
older in these few days, and the gray streak across
her hair had widened into a broad band. She
mostly kept her eyes lowered now; but when, by
chance, she raised them, he shivered at the horror
in their shadows.

In the little parlour she found a clumsy-looking
man standing with his heels together in the middle
of the floor. His whole figure and the half-frightened
way he looked up when she came in,
suggested to her that he must be one of the Swiss
guards. He wore a countryman's blouse, which
evidently did not belong to him, and kept glancing
round as though afraid of detection.

"Can you speak German?" he asked in the
heavy Zurich patois.

"A little. I hear you want to see me."

"You are Signora Bolla? I've brought you a
letter."

"A--letter?" She was beginning to tremble,
and rested one hand on the table to steady herself.

"I'm one of the guard over there." He
pointed out of the window to the fortress on the
hill. "It's from--the man that was shot last
week. He wrote it the night before. I promised
him I'd give it into your own hand myself."

She bent her head down. So he had written
after all.

"That's why I've been so long bringing it," the
soldier went on. "He said I was not to give it to
anyone but you, and I couldn't get off before--
they watched me so. I had to borrow these
things to come in."

He was fumbling in the breast of his blouse.
The weather was hot, and the sheet of folded
paper that he pulled out was not only dirty and
crumpled, but damp. He stood for a moment
shuffling his feet uneasily; then put up one hand
and scratched the back of his head.

"You won't say anything," he began again
timidly, with a distrustful glance at her. "It's as
much as my life's worth to have come here."

"Of course I shall not say anything. No,
wait a minute----"

As he turned to go, she stopped him, feeling for
her purse; but he drew back, offended.

"I don't want your money," he said roughly.
"I did it for him--because he asked me to. I'd
have done more than that for him. He'd been
good to me--God help me!"

The little catch in his voice made her look up.
He was slowly rubbing a grimy sleeve across his
eyes.

"We had to shoot," he went on under his
breath; "my mates and I. A man must obey
orders. We bungled it, and had to fire again--
and he laughed at us--he called us the awkward
squad--and he'd been good to me----"

There was silence in the room. A moment
later he straightened himself up, made a clumsy
military salute, and went away.

She stood still for a little while with the paper
in her hand; then sat down by the open window
to read. The letter was closely written in pencil,
and in some parts hardly legible. But the first
two words stood out quite clear upon the page;
and they were in English:

"Dear Jim."

The writing grew suddenly blurred and misty.
And she had lost him again--had lost him again!
At the sight of the familiar childish nickname all
the hopelessness of her bereavement came over
her afresh, and she put out her hands in blind
desperation, as though the weight of the earth-clods
that lay above him were pressing on her heart.

Presently she took up the paper again and went
on reading:


"I am to be shot at sunrise to-morrow. So
if I am to keep at all my promise to tell you everything,
I must keep it now. But, after all, there is
not much need of explanations between you and
me. We always understood each other without
many words, even when we were little things.

"And so, you see, my dear, you had no need to
break your heart over that old story of the blow.
It was a hard hit, of course; but I have had plenty
of others as hard, and yet I have managed to get
over them,--even to pay back a few of them,--and
here I am still, like the mackerel in our nursery-book
(I forget its name), 'Alive and kicking,
oh!' This is my last kick, though; and then, to-morrow
morning, and--'Finita la Commedia!'
You and I will translate that: 'The variety show
is over'; and will give thanks to the gods that
they have had, at least, so much mercy on us. It
is not much, but it is something; and for this and
all other blessings may we be truly thankful!

"About that same to-morrow morning, I want
both you and Martini to understand clearly that
I am quite happy and satisfied, and could ask
no better thing of Fate. Tell that to Martini
as a message from me; he is a good fellow and a
good comrade, and he will understand. You see,
dear, I know that the stick-in-the-mud people are
doing us a good turn and themselves a bad one
by going back to secret trials and executions so
soon, and I know that if you who are left stand
together steadily and hit hard, you will see great
things. As for me, I shall go out into the courtyard
with as light a heart as any child starting
home for the holidays. I have done my share of
the work, and this death-sentence is the proof that
I have done it thoroughly. They kill me because
they are afraid of me; and what more can any man's
heart desire?

"It desires just one thing more, though. A man
who is going to die has a right to a personal fancy,
and mine is that you should see why I have always
been such a sulky brute to you, and so slow to forget
old scores. Of course, though, you understand
why, and I tell you only for the pleasure of
writing the words. I loved you, Gemma, when you
were an ugly little girl in a gingham frock, with a
scratchy tucker and your hair in a pig-tail down
your back; and I love you still. Do you remember
that day when I kissed your hand, and when
you so piteously begged me 'never to do that
again'? It was a scoundrelly trick to play, I know;
but you must forgive that; and now I kiss the
paper where I have written your name. So I have
kissed you twice, and both times without your
consent.

"That is all. Good-bye, my dear."


There was no signature, but a verse which they
had learned together as children was written
under the letter:


                "Then am I
                 A happy fly,
                 If I live
                 Or if I die."

      .      .      .      .      .

Half an hour later Martini entered the room,
and, startled out of the silence of half a life-time,
threw down the placard he was carrying and flung
his arms about her.

"Gemma! What is it, for God's sake? Don't
sob like that--you that never cry! Gemma!
Gemma, my darling!"

"Nothing, Cesare; I will tell you afterwards--I
--can't talk about it just now."

She hurriedly slipped the tear-stained letter into
her pocket; and, rising, leaned out of the window
to hide her face. Martini held his tongue and bit
his moustache. After all these years he had betrayed
himself like a schoolboy--and she had not
even noticed it!

"The Cathedral bell is tolling," she said after
a little while, looking round with recovered self-command.
"Someone must be dead."

"That is what I came to show you," Martini
answered in his everyday voice. He picked up the
placard from the floor and handed it to her.
Hastily printed in large type was a black-bordered
announcement that: "Our dearly beloved Bishop,
His Eminence the Cardinal, Monsignor Lorenzo
Montanelli," had died suddenly at Ravenna, "from
the rupture of an aneurism of the heart."

She glanced up quickly from the paper, and
Martini answered the unspoken suggestion in her
eyes with a shrug of his shoulders.

"What would you have, Madonna? Aneurism
is as good a word as any other."





End of The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Gadfly, by E. L. Voynich


Colophon

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