Part 2 out of 9
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
"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
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 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
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
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
The first uniform appeared at the turn of the
"The signor has been called; all the house is
awake. Alas! what a misfortune--what a terrible
misfortune! And on Good Friday! Holy Saints,
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
"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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
"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
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
"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.
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?"
"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
"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?"
"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
"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,
"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
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
"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
"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
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
"I never heard of such a person."
"That is very extraordinary. What about
"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
"Do you recognize that letter?"
"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.
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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?
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,
"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
"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
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
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
"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.
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
"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
"Listen, for God's sake! It was not my fault;
"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
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.
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
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
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,
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
. . . . .
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
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:
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
"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----"
"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
"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
"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--
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
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
Arthur looked up. All the life and expression
had gone out of his face; it was like a waxen
"D-don't you think," he said softly, with a curious
stammering hesitation on the words, "th-that--all
"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.
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
He threw down the hammer. "So easy!" he
said, and turned away. "And what an idiot
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
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
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
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;
"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
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
"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
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
"Hold your noise," the sailor whispered, "and
keep your head covered! We're close to the
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.
The sailor handed up his official papers.
Arthur, half stifled under the clothes, held his
"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
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
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.
THIRTEEN YEARS LATER.
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?"
"To the Grand Duke?"
"Yes; for an augmentation of the liberty of the
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
"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
"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.
"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
"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,
"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