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another. I do not give you any promise, because the first promise of all—the promise to keep one—is not in my power. Shut your eyes and sleep where you are, and in the morning think better of your conduct.”
“Of my conduct, mademoiselle!” Pericles retained this sentence in his head till the conclusion of her animated speech,—“of my conduct I judge better zan to accept of such a privilege as you graciously offer to me;" and he retired with a sour grin, very much subdued by her unexpected capacity for expression. The bugles of the Austrians were soon ringing. There was a trifle of a romantic flavour in the notes which Vittoria tried not to feel; the smart iteration of them all about her rubbed it off, but she was reduced to repeat them, and take them in various keys. This was her theme for the day. They were in the midst of mulberries, out of sight of the army; green mulberries, , and the green and the bronze young vine-leaf. It was a delicious day, but she began to fear that she was approaching Verona, and that Pericles was acting seriously. The bronze young vine-leaf seemed to her like some warrior's face, as it would look when beaten by weather, burned by sun.
They came now to inns which had been visited by both armies. Luigi established communication with the innkeepers before the latter had stated the names of villages to Pericles, who stood map in hand, believing himself at last to be no more conscious of his position than an atom in a whirl of dust. Vittoria still refused to give him any promise, and finally, on a solitary stretch of the road, he appealed to her mercy. She was the mistress of the carriage, he said; he had never meant to imprison her in Verona; his behaviour was simply dictated by his adoration :—alas! This was true or not true, but it was certain that the ways were confounded to them. Luigi, despatched to reconnoitre from a neighbouring eminence, reported a Piedmontese encampment far ahead, and a walking tent that was coming on their route. The walking tent was an enormous white umbrella. Pericles advanced to meet it; after an interchange of opening formalities, he turned about and clapped hands. The umbrella was folded. Vittoria recognised the last man she would then have thought of meeting ; he seemed to have jumped out of an ambush from Meran in Tyrol :—it was Wilfrid. Their greeting was disturbed by the rushing up of half a dozen troopers. The men claimed him as an Austrian spy. With difficulty Vittoria obtained leare to drive him on to their commanding officer. It appeared that the white umbrella was notorious for having been seen on previous occasions threading the Piedmontese lines into and out of Peschiera. These very troopers swore to it; but they could not swear to Wilfrid, and white umbrellas were not absolutely uncommon.
Vittoria declared that Wilfrid was an old English friend; Pericles vowed that Wilfrid was one of their party. The prisoner was clearly an
Englishman. As it chanced, the officer before whom Wilfrid was taken had heard Vittoria sing on the great night at La Scala. “Signorina, your word should pass the Austrian field-marshal himself,” he said, and merely requested Wilfrid to state on his word of honour that he was not in the Austrian service, to which Wilfrid unhesitatingly replied, "I am not.”
Permission was then accorded to him to proceed in the carriage.
Vittoria held her hand to Wilfrid. He took the fingers and bowed over them.
He was perfectly self-possessed, and cool even under her eyes. Like a pedlar he carried a pack on his back, which was his life; for his business was a combination of scout and
spy. “ You have saved me from a ditch to-day,” he said ; “every fellow has some sort of love for his life, and I must thank you for the odd luck of your coming by. I knew you were on this ground somewhere. If the rascals had searched me, I should not have come off so well. I did not speak falsely to that officer; I am not in the Austrian service. I am a voluntary spy. I am an unpaid soldier. I am the dog of the army-fetching and carrying for a smile and a pat on the head. I am ruined, and I am working my way up as best I can. My uncle disowns me. It is to General Schöneck that I owe this chance of re-establishing myself. I followed the army out of Milan. I was at Melegnano, at Pastrengo, at Santa Lucia. If I get nothing for it, the Lenkensteins at least shall not say that I abandoned the flag in adversity. I am bound for Rivoli. The fortress (Peschiera) has just surrendered. The marshal is stealing round to inake a dash on Vicenza." So far he spoke like one apart from her, but a flush crossed his forehead. "I have not followed you. I have obeyed your brief directions. I saw this carriage yesterday in the ranks of our troops. I saw Pericles. I guessed who might be inside it. I let it pass
Could I do more?" “ Not if you wanted to punish me,” said Vittoria.
She was afflicted by his refraining from reproaches in his sunken state.
Their talk bordered the old life which they had known, like a rivulet coming to falls where it threatens to be a torrent and a flood; like flame bubbling the wax of a seal. She was surprised to find herself expecting tenderness from him; and, startled by the languor in her veins, she conceived a contempt for her sex and her own weak nature. To mask that, an excessive outward coldness was assumed. “You can serve as a spy, Wilfrid !"
The answer was ready : “ Having twice served as a traitor, I need not be particular. It is what my uncle and the Lenkensteins call
I do my best to work my way up again. Despise me for it, if you please."
On the contrary, she had never respected him so much. She got herself into opposition to him by provoking him to speak with pride of his army; but the opposition was artificial, and she called to Carlo Ammiani in heart. “I will leave these places, cover up my head, and crouch till the struggle is decided."
The difficulty now was to be happily rid of Wilfrid by leaving him in safety. Piedmontese horse scoured the neighbourhood, and any mischance that might befall him she traced to her hand. She dreaded at every instant to hear him speak of his love for her; yet how sweet it would have been to hear it,—to hear him speak of passionate love; to shape it in deep music; to hear one crave for what she gave to another! “I am sinking; I am growing degraded,” she thought. But there was no other way for her to quicken her imagination of her distant and offended lover. The sights on the plains were strange contrasts to these conflicting inner emotions : she seemed to be living in two divided worlds.
Pericles declared anew that she was mistress of the carriage. She issued orders: '“ The nearest point to Rivoli, and then to Brescia.”
Pericles broke into shouts. “She has arrived at her reason ! Hurrah for Brescia! I beheld you,” he confessed to Wilfrid,—“it was on ze right of Mincio, my friend. I did not know you were so true for art, or what a hand I would have reached to you! Excuse me now. Let us whip on. I am your banker. I shall desire you not to be shot or sabred. You are deserving of an effigy on a theatral grand staircase!” His gratitude could no further express itself. In joy he whipped the horses on. Fools might be fighting—he was the conqueror. From Brescia, one leap took him in fancy to London. He composed mentally a letter to be forwarded immediately to a London manager, directing him to cause the appearance of articles in the journals on the grand new prima donna, whose singing had awakened the people of Italy,—and proscribed all eggs from all the inns of Lombardy! he added laughing, as if it were part of the letter, when an innkeeper lifted ten fingers into that vacancy whither the eggs
“But I can now digest bad provision,” Pericles said. " The mystery that keeps you going, my friend, I also can accomplish.”
Another day brought them in view of the Lago di Garda. The flag of Sardinia hung from the walls of Peschiera. And now Vittoria saw the Pastrengo hills—dear hills, that drove her wretched langour out of her, and made her soul and body one again.
She looked back as on a cast-off self.
"We beat you there,” she said to Wilfrid.
He answered, “ You generally do when you are in the opposite ranks."
* To beg your forgiveness, dear Wilfrid, if I hurt you."
“Ah, yes; you have my forgiveness whether you hurt me or not.” “There you speak like my best, best friend." “I believe I am one of a dozen," said Wilfrid. “Is it time to part ?”
“Not yet. I wish it were never! Pardon me for the evil I have done to you. I entreat it again and again.”
She had to stop her mouth. The old charm, which had slumbered hitherto, was mastering him. He shook like a pole fixed in the rush of a tide.
“When the war is over, you shall know Count Ammiani,” she said.
Wilfrid thanked her, and at once rose to bring the carriage to a halt; but Pericles was in some alarm. The horses were going at a gallop. Shots were heard. To the left of them, somewhat in the rear, on higher ground, there was an encounter of a body of Austrians and Italians; Tyrolese riflemen and the volunteers. Pericles was raving. He refused to draw the reins till they had reached a village, where one of the horses dropped. From the windows of the inn, fronting a clear space, Vittoria beheld a guard of Austrians surrounding two or more prisoners. A woman sat near them with her head buried in her lap. Presently an officer left the door of the inn and spoke to the soldiers. “ That is Count Karl von Lenkenstein," Wilfrid said in a whisper. Pericles had been speaking with Count Karl and came up to the room, saying, “We are to observe something; but we are safe ; it is only the fortune of war.” Wilfrid immediately went out to report himself. He was seen giving his papers, after which Count Karl waved his finger back to the inn, and he returned. Vittoria sprang to her feet at the words he uttered. Rinaldo Guidascarpi was one of the prisoners. The others Wilfrid professed not to know. The woman was the wife of Barto Rizzo.
In the great red of sunset the Tyrolese riflemen and a body of Italians in Austrian fatigue uniform marched into the village. These formed in the space before the inn. It seemed as if Count Karl were declaiming an indictment. A voice answered, “I am the man.”
“It was clear and straight as a voice that goes up in the night. Then a procession walked some paces on. The woman followed. She fell prostrate at the feet of Count Karl. He listened to her and nodded. Rinaldo Guidascarpi stood alone with bandaged eyes. The woman advanced to him; she put her mouth on his ear ; there she hung.
Vittoria heard a single shot. Rinaldo Guidascarpi lay stretched upon the ground. The woman stood over him.
THE RELIGION OF SAVAGES.
One of the children's magazines of a quarter of a century ago,
I think The Child's Companion, related how a certain preacher or teacher impressed on the minds of a class of school-children a useful practical lesson. Bent on teaching them where and how they might rightly bestow their sympathy, he told them a story of a broomstick. "It was on a Christmas Eve,” he said ; "the afternoon was closing in, the whole family had assembled in their comfortable home, a party of visitors had come to tea, the fire was blazing brightly in the parlour, the light gleamed out through the chinks of the shutters into the cold and darkness without; but there, outside in the cold, leaning against a brick wall, stood a broomstick that no one had remembered to bring in. After a while you might hear from inside the clattering of the cups and saucers as the parlour-maid carried out the tea-tray, the rattle of the coals tumbling out of the coalscuttle as the fire was made up, then the uproar of a new game of romps just beginning. But outside it grew colder and colder, and darker and darker, yet no one came out for the broomstick. It had been quite forgotten. Presently the snow began to fall and hang upon it in thick heavy fakes.” Here the audience began to be visibly affected. “Hour after hour passed on, and the piercing cold chilled the wretched broomstick to the very heart. The fun and laughter within rose louder and louder, then grew quiet for a while, then the hall door opened to let out the visitors setting off for home, then it closed again, and now there was no hope left for the poor frozen outcast; there it must stay till, next day, or perhaps the next day after that, it might catch some friendly eye and be released from its misery.” The children's tears had begun to flow copiously ere this; and now, having worked their feelings up to the proper pitch, the teacher turned upon them. "You silly children,” he said, “don't you know that a broomstick is a bit of wood with no sense, and can't feel the cold, and doesn't know or care whether it is left out or taken indoors? Now remember for the future that you must keep your sympathy for creatures that can really feel pleasure and pain, and not waste it on insensible broomsticks." Then, having as it were with his heavy boots trodden this moral lesson into the children's poor little minds, he sent them home to be more practical in future.
Many boys and girls must have read this story with a dim feeling of disgust for the teacher and his chapter out of the great gospel of commonplace. But it is only older years that bring the clear understanding that our professor of practical philosophy was nothing but