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The Gadfly by E. L. Voynich

Part 5 out of 9

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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

"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

"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."


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

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

"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

"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

"Thank you. I--I am sorry to have troubled

"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

"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,

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----"


"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

"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.


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

"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

"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

"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

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

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

"No. I was only turning over some old

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."


"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."


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

"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

"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."


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

"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."


"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

"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

"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

"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

"Very likely." For a moment he tramped to
and fro in silence, then suddenly stopped beside

"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

"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.


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

"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

"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

. . . . .

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

"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."


"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

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

"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

"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--

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

"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.


"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."


"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

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

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