Part 6 out of 9
should have to bear--to be so close, so close that
he could have put out his arm and touched the
"Will you not come under shelter, my friend?"
the soft voice said. "I am afraid you are chilled."
The Gadfly's heart stood still. For a moment
he was conscious of nothing but the sickening
pressure of the blood that seemed as if it would
tear his breast asunder; then it rushed back, tingling
and burning through all his body, and he
looked up. The grave, deep eyes above him grew
suddenly tender with divine compassion at the
sight of his face.
"Stand bark a little, friends," Montanelli said,
turning to the crowd; "I want to speak to him."
The people fell slowly back, whispering to each
other, and the Gadfly, sitting motionless, with
teeth clenched and eyes on the ground, felt the
gentle touch of Montanelli's hand upon his
"You have had some great trouble. Can I do
anything to help you?"
The Gadfly shook his head in silence.
"Are you a pilgrim?"
"I am a miserable sinner."
The accidental similarity of Montanelli's question
to the password came like a chance straw,
that the Gadfly, in his desperation, caught at, answering
automatically. He had begun to tremble
under the soft pressure of the hand that seemed
to burn upon his shoulder.
The Cardinal bent down closer to him.
"Perhaps you would care to speak to me alone?
If I can be any help to you----"
For the first time the Gadfly looked straight
and steadily into Montanelli's eyes; he was already
recovering his self-command.
"It would be no use," he said; "the thing is
A police official stepped forward out of the
"Forgive my intruding, Your Eminence. I
think the old man is not quite sound in his mind.
He is perfectly harmless, and his papers are in
order, so we don't interfere with him. He has
been in penal servitude for a great crime, and is
now doing penance."
"A great crime," the Gadfly repeated, shaking
his head slowly.
"Thank you, captain; stand aside a little,
please. My friend, nothing is hopeless if a man
has sincerely repented. Will you not come to me
"Would Your Eminence receive a man who is
guilty of the death of his own son?"
The question had almost the tone of a challenge,
and Montanelli shrank and shivered under it as
under a cold wind.
"God forbid that I should condemn you, whatever
you have done!" he said solemnly. "In His
sight we are all guilty alike, and our righteousness
is as filthy rags. If you will come to me I will
receive you as I pray that He may one day receive me."
The Gadfly stretched out his hands with a sudden
gesture of passion.
"Listen!" he said; "and listen all of you,
Christians! If a man has killed his only son--his
son who loved and trusted him, who was flesh of
his flesh and bone of his bone; if he has led his son
into a death-trap with lies and deceit--is there
hope for that man in earth or heaven? I have
confessed my sin before God and man, and I have
suffered the punishment that men have laid on
me, and they have let me go; but when will God
say, 'It is enough'? What benediction will take
away His curse from my soul? What absolution
will undo this thing that I have done?"
In the dead silence that followed the people
looked at Montanelli, and saw the heaving of the
cross upon his breast.
He raised his eyes at last, and gave the benediction
with a hand that was not quite steady.
"God is merciful," he said. "Lay your burden
before His throne; for it is written: 'A
broken and contrite heart shalt thou not despise.'"
He turned away and walked through the market-place,
stopping everywhere to speak to the
people, and to take their children in his arms.
In the evening the Gadfly, following the directions
written on the wrapping of the image, made
his way to the appointed meeting-place. It was
the house of a local doctor, who was an active
member of the "sect." Most of the conspirators
were already assembled, and their delight at the
Gadfly's arrival gave him a new proof, if he had
needed one, of his popularity as a leader.
"We're glad enough to see you again," said the
doctor; "but we shall be gladder still to see you
go. It's a fearfully risky business, and I, for one,
was against the plan. Are you quite sure none of
those police rats noticed you in the market-place
"Oh, they n-noticed me enough, but they
d-didn't recognize me. Domenichino m-managed
the thing capitally. But where is he? I don't see
"He has not come yet. So you got on all
smoothly? Did the Cardinal give you his blessing?"
"His blessing? Oh, that's nothing," said Domenichino,
coming in at the door. "Rivarez,
you're as full of surprises as a Christmas cake.
How many more talents are you going to astonish
"What is it now?" asked the Gadfly languidly.
He was leaning back on a sofa, smoking a cigar.
He still wore his pilgrim's dress, but the white
beard and wig lay beside him.
"I had no idea you were such an actor. I never
saw a thing done so magnificently in my life. You
nearly moved His Eminence to tears."
"How was that? Let us hear, Rivarez."
The Gadfly shrugged his shoulders. He was in
a taciturn and laconic mood, and the others, seeing
that nothing was to be got out of him,
appealed to Domenichino to explain. When the
scene in the market-place had been related, one
young workman, who had not joined in the laughter
of the rest, remarked abruptly:
"It was very clever, of course; but I don't see
what good all this play-acting business has done
"Just this much," the Gadfly put in; "that I
can go where I like and do what I like anywhere
in this district, and not a single man, woman, or
child will ever think of suspecting me. The story
will be all over the place by to-morrow, and when
I meet a spy he will only think: 'It's mad Diego,
that confessed his sins in the market-place.' That
is an advantage gained, surely."
"Yes, I see. Still, I wish the thing could have
been done without fooling the Cardinal. He's
too good to have that sort of trick played on
"I thought myself he seemed fairly decent,"
the Gadfly lazily assented.
"Nonsense, Sandro! We don't want Cardinals
here!" said Domenichino. "And if Monsignor
Montanelli had taken that post in Rome when he
had the chance of getting it, Rivarez couldn't have
"He wouldn't take it because he didn't want to
leave his work here."
"More likely because he didn't want to get
poisoned off by Lambruschini's agents. They've
got something against him, you may depend upon
it. When a Cardinal, especially such a popular
one, 'prefers to stay' in a God-forsaken little hole
like this, we all know what that means--don't we,
The Gadfly was making smoke-rings. "Perhaps
it is a c-c-case of a 'b-b-broken and contrite
heart,'" he remarked, leaning his head back to
watch them float away. "And now, men, let us
get to business."
They began to discuss in detail the various plans
which had been formed for the smuggling and concealment
of weapons. The Gadfly listened with
keen attention, interrupting every now and then
to correct sharply some inaccurate statement or
imprudent proposal. When everyone had finished
speaking, he made a few practical suggestions,
most of which were adopted without discussion.
The meeting then broke up. It had been resolved
that, at least until he was safely back in Tuscany,
very late meetings, which might attract the notice
of the police, should be avoided. By a little after
ten o'clock all had dispersed except the doctor, the
Gadfly, and Domenichino, who remained as
a sub-committee for the discussion of special
points. After a long and hot dispute, Domenichino
looked up at the clock.
"Half-past eleven; we mustn't stop any longer
or the night-watchman may see us."
"When does he pass?" asked the Gadfly.
"About twelve o'clock; and I want to be home
before he comes. Good-night, Giordani. Rivarez,
shall we walk together?"
"No; I think we are safer apart. Then I shall
see you again?"
"Yes; at Castel Bolognese. I don't know yet
what disguise I shall be in, but you have the passWord.
You leave here to-morrow, I think?"
The Gadfly was carefully putting on his beard
and wig before the looking-glass.
"To-morrow morning, with the pilgrims. On
the next day I fall ill and stop behind in a shepherd's
hut, and then take a short cut across the hills. I shall
be down there before you will. Good-night!"
Twelve o'clock was striking from the Cathedral
bell-tower as the Gadfly looked in at the door of
the great empty barn which had been thrown open
as a lodging for the pilgrims. The floor was
covered with clumsy figures, most of which were
snoring lustily, and the air was insufferably close
and foul. He drew back with a little shudder of
repugnance; it would be useless to attempt to
sleep in there; he would take a walk, and then
find some shed or haystack which would, at least,
be clean and quiet.
It was a glorious night, with a great full moon
gleaming in a purple sky. He began to wander
through the streets in an aimless way, brooding
miserably over the scene of the morning, and wishing
that he had never consented to Domenichino's
plan of holding the meeting in Brisighella. If at
the beginning he had declared the project too dangerous,
some other place would have been chosen;
and both he and Montanelli would have been
spared this ghastly, ridiculous farce.
How changed the Padre was! And yet his voice was
not changed at all; it was just the same as in the
old days, when he used to say: "Carino."
The lantern of the night-watchman appeared at
the other end of the street, and the Gadfly turned
down a narrow, crooked alley. After walking a
few yards he found himself in the Cathedral
Square, close to the left wing of the episcopal
palace. The square was flooded with moonlight,
and there was no one in sight; but he noticed that
a side door of the Cathedral was ajar. The sacristan
must have forgotten to shut it. Surely nothing
could be going on there so late at night. He
might as well go in and sleep on one of the benches
instead of in the stifling barn; he could slip out in
the morning before the sacristan came; and even
if anyone did find him, the natural supposition
would be that mad Diego had been saying his
prayers in some corner, and had got shut in.
He listened a moment at the door, and then
entered with the noiseless step that he had retained
notwithstanding his lameness. The moonlight
streamed through the windows, and lay in broad
bands on the marble floor. In the chancel, especially,
everything was as clearly visible as by daylight. At
the foot of the altar steps Cardinal Montanelli knelt
alone, bare-headed, with clasped hands.
The Gadfly drew back into the shadow. Should
he slip away before Montanelli saw him? That,
no doubt, would be the wisest thing to do--perhaps
the most merciful. And yet, what harm
could it do for him to go just a little nearer--to
look at the Padre's face once more, now that the
crowd was gone, and there was no need to keep
up the hideous comedy of the morning? Perhaps
it would be his last chance--and the Padre need
not see him; he would steal up softly and look--
just this once. Then he would go back to his work.
Keeping in the shadow of the pillars, he crept
softly up to the chancel rails, and paused at the
side entrance, close to the altar. The shadow of
the episcopal throne was broad enough to cover
him, and he crouched down in the darkness, holding
"My poor boy! Oh, God; my poor boy!"
The broken whisper was full of such endless
despair that the Gadfly shuddered in spite of himself.
Then came deep, heavy, tearless sobs; and
he saw Montanelli wring his hands together like
a man in bodily pain.
He had not thought it would be so bad as
this. How often had he said to himself with bitter
assurance: "I need not trouble about it; that
wound was healed long ago." Now, after all these
years, it was laid bare before him, and he saw it
bleeding still. And how easy it would be to heal
it now at last! He need only lift his hand--only
step forward and say: "Padre, it is I." There
was Gemma, too, with that white streak across her
hair. Oh, if he could but forgive! If he could
but cut out from his memory the past that
was burned into it so deep--the Lascar, and the
sugar-plantation, and the variety show! Surely
there was no other misery like this--to be willing
to forgive, to long to forgive; and to know that
it was hopeless--that he could not, dared not forgive.
Montanelli rose at last, made the sign of the
cross, and turned away from the altar. The Gadfly
shrank further back into the shadow, trembling
with fear lest he should be seen, lest the very
beating of his heart should betray him; then he
drew a long breath of relief. Montanelli had
passed him, so close that the violet robe had
brushed against his cheek,--had passed and had
not seen him.
Had not seen him---- Oh, what had he done?
This had been his last chance--this one precious
moment--and he had let it slip away. He started
up and stepped into the light.
The sound of his own voice, ringing up and
dying away along the arches of the roof, filled him
with fantastic terror. He shrank back again into
the shadow. Montanelli stood beside the pillar,
motionless, listening with wide-open eyes, full
of the horror of death. How long the silence
lasted the Gadfly could not tell; it might have
been an instant, or an eternity. He came to his
senses with a sudden shock. Montanelli was beginning
to sway as though he would fall, and his
lips moved, at first silently.
"Arthur!" the low whisper came at last; "yes,
the water is deep----"
The Gadfly came forward.
"Forgive me, Your Eminence! I thought it
was one of the priests."
"Ah, it is the pilgrim?" Montanelli had at
once recovered his self-control, though the Gadfly
could see, from the restless glitter of the sapphire
on his hand, that he was still trembling. "Are
you in need of anything, my friend? It is late, and
the Cathedral is closed at night."
"I beg pardon, Your Eminence, if I have done
wrong. I saw the door open, and came in to pray,
and when I saw a priest, as I thought, in meditation,
I waited to ask a blessing on this."
He held up the little tin cross that he had
bought from Domenichino. Montanelli took it
from his hand, and, re-entering the chancel, laid it
for a moment on the altar.
"Take it, my son," he said, "and be at rest,
for the Lord is tender and pitiful. Go to Rome,
and ask the blessing of His minister, the Holy
Father. Peace be with you!"
The Gadfly bent his head to receive the benediction,
and turned slowly away.
"Stop!" said Montanelli.
He was standing with one hand on the chancel rail.
"When you receive the Holy Eucharist in
Rome," he said, "pray for one in deep affliction--
for one on whose soul the hand of the Lord is heavy."
There were almost tears in his voice, and the
Gadfly's resolution wavered. Another instant and
he would have betrayed himself. Then the
thought of the variety-show came up again, and
he remembered, like Jonah, that he did well to
"Who am I, that He should hear my prayers?
A leper and an outcast! If I could bring to His
throne, as Your Eminence can, the offering of a
holy life--of a soul without spot or secret
Montanelli turned abruptly away.
"I have only one offering to give," he said; "a
. . . . .
A few days later the Gadfly returned to Florence
in the diligence from Pistoja. He went
straight to Gemma's lodgings, but she was out.
Leaving a message that he would return in the
morning he went home, sincerely hoping that he
should not again find his study invaded by Zita.
Her jealous reproaches would act on his nerves,
if he were to hear much of them to-night, like the
rasping of a dentist's file.
"Good-evening, Bianca," he said when the
maid-servant opened the door. "Has Mme. Reni
been here to-day?"
She stared at him blankly
"Mme. Reni? Has she come back, then, sir?"
"What do you mean?" he asked with a frown,
stopping short on the mat.
"She went away quite suddenly, just after you
did, and left all her things behind her. She never
so much as said she was going."
"Just after I did? What, a f-fortnight ago?"
"Yes, sir, the same day; and her things are
lying about higgledy-piggledy. All the neighbours
are talking about it."
He turned away from the door-step without
speaking, and went hastily down the lane to the
house where Zita had been lodging. In her rooms
nothing had been touched; all the presents that
he had given her were in their usual places; there
was no letter or scrap of writing anywhere.
"If you please, sir," said Bianca, putting her
head in at the door, "there's an old woman----"
He turned round fiercely.
"What do you want here--following me
"An old woman wishes to see you."
"What does she want? Tell her I c-can't see
her; I'm busy."
"She has been coming nearly every evening
since you went away, sir, always asking when you
would come back."
"Ask her w-what her business is. No; never
mind; I suppose I must go myself."
The old woman was waiting at his hall door.
She was very poorly dressed, with a face as brown
and wrinkled as a medlar, and a bright-coloured
scarf twisted round her head. As he came in
she rose and looked at him with keen black
"You are the lame gentleman," she said, inspecting
him critically from head to foot. "I have
brought you a message from Zita Reni."
He opened the study door, and held it for her
to pass in; then followed her and shut the door,
that Bianca might not hear.
"Sit down, please. N-now, tell me who you
"It's no business of yours who I am. I have
come to tell you that Zita Reni has gone away
with my son."
"Yes, sir; if you don't know how to keep your
mistress when you've got her, you can't complain
if other men take her. My son has blood in his
veins, not milk and water; he comes of the
"Ah, you are a gipsy! Zita has gone back to
her own people, then?"
She looked at him in amazed contempt. Apparently,
these Christians had not even manhood
enough to be angry when they were insulted.
"What sort of stuff are you made of, that she
should stay with you? Our women may lend
themselves to you a bit for a girl's fancy, or if you
pay them well; but the Romany blood comes back
to the Romany folk."
The Gadfly's face remained as cold and steady
"Has she gone away with a gipsy camp, or
merely to live with your son?"
The woman burst out laughing.
"Do you think of following her and trying to
win her back? It's too late, sir; you should have
thought of that before!"
"No; I only want to know the truth, if you will
tell it to me."
She shrugged her shoulders; it was hardly
worth while to abuse a person who took it so
"The truth, then, is that she met my son in the
road the day you left her, and spoke to him in the
Romany tongue; and when he saw she was one of
our folk, in spite of her fine clothes, he fell in love
with her bonny face, as OUR men fall in love, and
took her to our camp. She told us all her trouble,
and sat crying and sobbing, poor lassie, till our
hearts were sore for her. We comforted her as
best we could; and at last she took off her fine
clothes and put on the things our lasses wear, and
gave herself to my son, to be his woman and to
have him for her man. He won't say to her: 'I
don't love you,' and: 'I've other things to do.'
When a woman is young, she wants a man; and
what sort of man are you, that you can't even
kiss a handsome girl when she puts her arms round
"You said," he interrupted, "that you had
brought me a message from her."
"Yes; I stopped behind when the camp went
on, so as to give it. She told me to say that she
has had enough of your folk and their hair-splitting
and their sluggish blood; and that she wants
to get back to her own people and be free. 'Tell
him,' she said, 'that I am a woman, and that I
loved him; and that is why I would not be his
harlot any longer.' The lassie was right to come
away. There's no harm in a girl getting a bit of
money out of her good looks if she can--that's
what good looks are for; but a Romany lass has
nothing to do with LOVING a man of your race."
The Gadfly stood up.
"Is that all the message?" he said. "Then tell
her, please, that I think she has done right, and
that I hope she will be happy. That is all I have
to say. Good-night!"
He stood perfectly still until the garden gate
closed behind her; then he sat down and covered
his face with both hands.
Another blow on the cheek! Was no rag of
pride to be left him--no shred of self-respect?
Surely he had suffered everything that man can
endure; his very heart had been dragged in the
mud and trampled under the feet of the passers-by;
there was no spot in his soul where someone's contempt
was not branded in, where someone's mockery
had not left its iron trace. And now this gipsy
girl, whom he had picked up by the wayside--
even she had the whip in her hand.
Shaitan whined at the door, and the Gadfly
rose to let him in. The dog rushed up to his master
with his usual frantic manifestations of delight,
but soon, understanding that something was
wrong, lay down on the rug beside him, and thrust
a cold nose into the listless hand.
An hour later Gemma came up to the front door.
No one appeared in answer to her knock; Bianca,
finding that the Gadfly did not want any dinner,
had slipped out to visit a neighbour's cook. She
had left the door open, and a light burning in the
hall. Gemma, after waiting for some time, decided
to enter and try if she could find the Gadfly, as she
wished to speak to him about an important message
which had come from Bailey. She knocked
at the study door, and the Gadfly's voice answered
from within: "You can go away, Bianca. I don't
She softly opened the door. The room was
quite dark, but the passage lamp threw a long
stream of light across it as she entered, and she saw
the Gadfly sitting alone, his head sunk on his
breast, and the dog asleep at his feet.
"It is I," she said.
He started up. "Gemma,---- Gemma! Oh,
I have wanted you so!"
Before she could speak he was kneeling on the
floor at her feet and hiding his face in the folds of
her dress. His whole body was shaken with a convulsive
tremor that was worse to see than tears.
She stood still. There was nothing she could
do to help him--nothing. This was the bitterest
thing of all. She must stand by and look on passively
--she who would have died to spare him
pain. Could she but dare to stoop and clasp her
arms about him, to hold him close against her
heart and shield him, were it with her own body,
from all further harm or wrong; surely then he
would be Arthur to her again; surely then the day
would break and the shadows flee away.
Ah, no, no! How could he ever forget? Was
it not she who had cast him into hell--she, with
her own right hand?
She had let the moment slip by. He rose
hastily and sat down by the table, covering his
eyes with one hand and biting his lip as if he would
bite it through.
Presently he looked up and said quietly:
"I am afraid I startled you."
She held out both her hands to him. "Dear,"
she said, "are we not friends enough by now for
you to trust me a little bit? What is it?"
"Only a private trouble of my own. I don't
see why you should be worried over it."
"Listen a moment," she went on, taking his
hand in both of hers to steady its convulsive
trembling. "I have not tried to lay hands on a
thing that is not mine to touch. But now that
you have given me, of your own free will, so much
of your confidence, will you not give me a little
more--as you would do if I were your sister.
Keep the mask on your face, if it is any consolation
to you, but don't wear a mask on your soul,
for your own sake."
He bent his head lower. "You must be patient
with me," he said. "I am an unsatisfactory sort
of brother to have, I'm afraid; but if you only
knew---- I have been nearly mad this last week.
It has been like South America again. And somehow
the devil gets into me and----" He broke off.
"May I not have my share in your trouble?"
she whispered at last.
His head sank down on her arm. "The hand of
the Lord is heavy."
THE next five weeks were spent by Gemma and
the Gadfly in a whirl of excitement and overwork
which left them little time or energy for thinking
about their personal affairs. When the arms had
been safely smuggled into Papal territory there
remained a still more difficult and dangerous task:
that of conveying them unobserved from the secret
stores in the mountain caverns and ravines to the
various local centres and thence to the separate
villages. The whole district was swarming with
spies; and Domenichino, to whom the Gadfly had
intrusted the ammunition, sent into Florence a
messenger with an urgent appeal for either help
or extra time. The Gadfly had insisted that the
work should be finished by the middle of June;
and what with the difficulty of conveying heavy
transports over bad roads, and the endless hindrances
and delays caused by the necessity of continually
evading observation, Domenichino was
growing desperate. "I am between Scylla and
Charybdis," he wrote. "I dare not work quickly,
for fear of detection, and I must not work slowly
if we are to be ready in time. Either send me
efficient help at once, or let the Venetians know
that we shall not be ready till the first week in
The Gadfly carried the letter to Gemma and,
while she read it, sat frowning at the floor and
stroking the cat's fur the wrong way.
"This is bad," she said. "We can hardly keep
the Venetians waiting for three weeks."
"Of course we can't; the thing is absurd.
Domenichino m-might unders-s-stand that. We
must follow the lead of the Venetians, not they
"I don't see that Domenichino is to blame; he
has evidently done his best, and he can't do
"It's not in Domenichino that the fault lies; it's
in the fact of his being one person instead of two.
We ought to have at least one responsible man
to guard the store and another to see the transports
off. He is quite right; he must have efficient help."
"But what help are we going to give him? We
have no one in Florence to send."
"Then I m-must go myself."
She leaned back in her chair and looked at him
with a little frown.
"No, that won't do; it's too risky."
"It will have to do if we can't f-f-find any other
way out of the difficulty."
"Then we must find another way, that's all.
It's out of the question for you to go again just
An obstinate line appeared at the corners of his
"I d-don't see that it's out of the question."
"You will see if you think about the thing
calmly for a minute. It is only five weeks since
you got back; the police are on the scent about
that pilgrim business, and scouring the country
to find a clue. Yes, I know you are clever at disguises;
but remember what a lot of people saw you, both as
Diego and as the countryman; and you can't disguise
your lameness or the scar on your face."
"There are p-plenty of lame people in the world."
"Yes, but there are not plenty of people in the
Romagna with a lame foot and a sabre-cut across
the cheek and a left arm injured like yours, and
the combination of blue eyes with such dark
"The eyes don't matter; I can alter them with
"You can't alter the other things. No, it won't
do. For you to go there just now, with all your
identification-marks, would be to walk into a trap
with your eyes open. You would certainly be
"But s-s-someone must help Domenichino."
"It will be no help to him to have you caught
at a critical moment like this. Your arrest would
mean the failure of the whole thing."
But the Gadfly was difficult to convince, and
the discussion went on and on without coming
nearer to any settlement. Gemma was beginning
to realize how nearly inexhaustible was the fund
of quiet obstinacy in his character; and, had the
matter not been one about which she felt strongly,
she would probably have yielded for the sake of
peace. This, however, was a case in which she
could not conscientiously give way; the practical
advantage to be gained from the proposed journey
seemed to her not sufficiently important to be
worth the risk, and she could not help suspecting
that his desire to go was prompted less by a conviction
of grave political necessity than by a morbid
craving for the excitement of danger. He had
got into the habit of risking his neck, and his tendency
to run into unnecessary peril seemed to her
a form of intemperance which should be quietly
but steadily resisted. Finding all her arguments
unavailing against his dogged resolve to go his
own way, she fired her last shot.
"Let us be honest about it, anyway," she said;
"and call things by their true names. It is not
Domenichino's difficulty that makes you so determined
to go. It is your own personal passion for----"
"It's not true!" he interrupted vehemently.
"He is nothing to me; I don't care if I never see
He broke off, seeing in her face that he had
betrayed himself. Their eyes met for an instant,
and dropped; and neither of them uttered the
name that was in both their minds.
"It--it is not Domenichino I want to save," he
stammered at last, with his face half buried in the
cat's fur; "it is that I--I understand the danger
of the work failing if he has no help."
She passed over the feeble little subterfuge, and
went on as if there had been no interruption:
"It is your passion for running into danger
which makes you want to go there. You have
the same craving for danger when you are worried
that you had for opium when you were ill."
"It was not I that asked for the opium," he said
defiantly; "it was the others who insisted on giving
it to me."
"I dare say. You plume yourself a little on
your stoicism, and to ask for physical relief would
have hurt your pride; but it is rather flattered than
otherwise when you risk your life to relieve the
irritation of your nerves. And yet, after all, the
distinction is a merely conventional one."
He drew the cat's head back and looked down
into the round, green eyes. "Is it true, Pasht?"
he said. "Are all these unkind things true that
your mistress is s-saying about me? Is it a case
of mea culpa; mea m-maxima culpa? You wise
beast, you never ask for opium, do you? Your
ancestors were gods in Egypt, and no man t-trod
on their tails. I wonder, though, what would become
of your calm superiority to earthly ills if I
were to take this paw of yours and hold it in the
c-candle. Would you ask me for opium then?
Would you? Or perhaps--for death? No,
pussy, we have no right to die for our personal
convenience. We may spit and s-swear a bit, if
it consoles us; but we mustn't pull the paw away."
"Hush!" She took the cat off his knee and
put it down on a footstool. "You and I will
have time for thinking about those things later
on. What we have to think of now is how to get
Domenichino out of his difficulty. What is it,
Katie; a visitor? I am busy."
"Miss Wright has sent you this, ma'am, by
The packet, which was carefully sealed, contained
a letter, addressed to Miss Wright, but
unopened and with a Papal stamp. Gemma's
old school friends still lived in Florence, and
her more important letters were often received,
for safety, at their address.
"It is Michele's mark," she said, glancing
quickly over the letter, which seemed to be about
the summer-terms at a boarding house in the
Apennines, and pointing to two little blots on a
corner of the page. "It is in chemical ink; the
reagent is in the third drawer of the writing-table.
Yes; that is it."
He laid the letter open on the desk and passed
a little brush over its pages. When the real message
stood out on the paper in a brilliant blue line,
he leaned back in his chair and burst out laughing.
"What is it?" she asked hurriedly. He
handed her the paper.
"DOMENICHINO HAS BEEN ARRESTED. COME AT ONCE."
She sat down with the paper in her hand and
stared hopelessly at the Gadfly.
"W-well?" he said at last, with his soft, ironical
drawl; "are you satisfied now that I must go?"
"Yes, I suppose you must," she answered, sighing.
"And I too."
He looked up with a little start. "You too? But----"
"Of course. It will be very awkward, I know,
to be left without anyone here in Florence; but
everything must go to the wall now except the
providing of an extra pair of hands."
"There are plenty of hands to be got there."
"They don't belong to people whom you can
trust thoroughly, though. You said yourself just
now that there must be two responsible persons
in charge; and if Domenichino couldn't manage
alone it is evidently impossible for you to do so.
A person as desperately compromised as you are
is very much handicapped, remember, in work of
that kind, and more dependent on help than anyone
else would be. Instead of you and Domenichino,
it must be you and I."
He considered for a moment, frowning.
"Yes, you are quite right," he said; "and the
sooner we go the better. But we must not start
together. If I go off to-night, you can take, say,
the afternoon coach to-morrow."
"That we must discuss. I think I had b-b-better
go straight in to Faenza. If I start late to-night
and ride to Borgo San Lorenzo I can get
my disguise arranged there and go straight on."
"I don't see what else we can do," she said, with
an anxious little frown; "but it is very risky, your
going off in such a hurry and trusting to the smugglers
finding you a disguise at Borgo. You ought
to have at least three clear days to double on your
trace before you cross the frontier."
"You needn't be afraid," he answered, smiling;
"I may get taken further on, but not at the frontier.
Once in the hills I am as safe as here; there's
not a smuggler in the Apennines that would betray me.
What I am not quite sure about is how you are to get across."
"Oh, that is very simple! I shall take Louisa
Wright's passport and go for a holiday. No one
knows me in the Romagna, but every spy knows you."
"F-fortunately, so does every smuggler."
She took out her watch.
"Half-past two. We have the afternoon and
evening, then, if you are to start to-night."
"Then the best thing will be for me to go home
and settle everything now, and arrange about
a good horse. I shall ride in to San Lorenzo; it
will be safer."
"But it won't be safe at all to hire a horse. The
"I shan't hire one. I know a man that will lend
me a horse, and that can be trusted. He has done
things for me before. One of the shepherds will
bring it back in a fortnight. I shall be here again
by five or half-past, then; and while I am gone,
I w-want you to go and find Martini and exp-plain
everything to him."
"Martini!" She turned round and looked at
him in astonishment.
"Yes; we must take him into confidence--unless
you can think of anyone else."
"I don't quite understand what you mean."
"We must have someone here whom we can
trust, in case of any special difficulty; and of all
the set here Martini is the man in whom I have
most confidence. Riccardo would do anything he
could for us, of course; but I think Martini has
a steadier head. Still, you know him better than
I do; it is as you think."
"I have not the slightest doubt as to Martini's
trustworthiness and efficiency in every respect; and
I think he would probably consent to give us any
help he could. But----"
He understood at once.
"Gemma, what would you feel if you found out
that a comrade in bitter need had not asked you
for help you might have given, for fear of hurting
or distressing you? Would you say there was any
true kindness in that?"
"Very well," she said, after a little pause; "I
will send Katie round at once and ask him to
come; and while she is gone I will go to Louisa
for her passport; she promised to lend it whenever
I want one. What about money? Shall I draw
some out of the bank?"
"No; don't waste time on that; I can draw
enough from my account to last us for a bit. We
will fall back on yours later on if my balance runs
short. Till half-past five, then; I shall be sure to
find you here, of course?"
"Oh, yes! I shall be back long before then."
Half an hour after the appointed time he returned,
and found Gemma and Martini sitting on
the terrace together. He saw at once that their
conversation had been a distressing one; the traces
of agitation were visible in both of them, and Martini
was unusually silent and glum.
"Have you arranged everything?" she asked,
"Yes; and I have brought you some money for
the journey. The horse will be ready for me at
the Ponte Rosso barrier at one in the night."
"Is not that rather late? You ought to get
into San Lorenzo before the people are up in the
"So I shall; it's a very fast horse; and I don't
want to leave here when there's a chance of anyone
noticing me. I shan't go home any more;
there's a spy watching at the door, and he thinks
"How did you get out without his seeing
"Out of the kitchen window into the back garden
and over the neighbour's orchard wall; that's
what makes me so late; I had to dodge him. I
left the owner of the horse to sit in the study all
the evening with the lamp lighted. When the spy
sees the light in the window and a shadow on the
blind he will be quite satisfied that I am writing
at home this evening."
"Then you will stay here till it is time to go to
"Yes; I don't want to be seen in the street any
more to-night. Have a cigar, Martini? I know
Signora Bolla doesn't mind smoke."
"I shan't be here to mind; I must go downstairs
and help Katie with the dinner."
When she had gone Martini got up and began
to pace to and fro with his hands behind his back.
The Gadfly sat smoking and looking silently out
at the drizzling rain.
"Rivarez!" Martini began, stopping in front of
him, but keeping his eyes on the ground; "what
sort of thing are you going to drag her into?"
The Gadfly took the cigar from his mouth and
blew away a long trail of smoke.
"She has chosen for herself," he said, "without
compulsion on anyone's part."
"Yes, yes--I know. But tell me----"
"I will tell you anything I can."
"Well, then--I don't know much about the
details of these affairs in the hills,--are you going
to take her into any very serious danger?"
"Do you want the truth?"
Martini turned away and went on pacing up and
down. Presently he stopped again.
"I want to ask you another question. If you
don't choose to answer it, you needn't, of course;
but if you do answer, then answer honestly. Are
you in love with her?"
The Gadfly deliberately knocked the ash from
his cigar and went on smoking in silence.
"That means--that you don't choose to
"No; only that I think I have a right to know
why you ask me that."
"Why? Good God, man, can't you see why?"
"Ah!" He laid down his cigar and looked
steadily at Martini. "Yes," he said at last,
slowly and softly. "I am in love with her. But
you needn't think I am going to make love to
her, or worry about it. I am only going
His voice died away in a strange, faint whisper.
Martini came a step nearer.
He was staring straight before him with a cold,
fixed look, as if he were dead already. When he
spoke again his voice was curiously lifeless and even.
"You needn't worry her about it beforehand,"
he said; "but there's not the ghost of a chance for
me. It's dangerous for everyone; that she knows
as well as I do; but the smugglers will do their
best to prevent her getting taken. They are good
fellows, though they are a bit rough. As for me,
the rope is round my neck, and when I cross the
frontier I pull the noose."
"Rivarez, what do you mean? Of course it's
dangerous, and particularly so for you; I understand
that; but you have often crossed the frontier
before and always been successful."
"Yes, and this time I shall fail."
"But why? How can you know?"
The Gadfly smiled drearily.
"Do you remember the German legend of the
man that died when he met his own Double? No?
It appeared to him at night in a lonely place,
wringing its hands in despair. Well, I met mine
the last time I was in the hills; and when I cross
the frontier again I shan't come back."
Martini came up to him and put a hand on the
back of his chair.
"Listen, Rivarez; I don't understand a word
of all this metaphysical stuff, but I do understand
one thing: If you feel about it that way, you are
not in a fit state to go. The surest way to get
taken is to go with a conviction that you will be
taken. You must be ill, or out of sorts somehow,
to get maggots of that kind into your head. Suppose
I go instead of you? I can do any practical
work there is to be done, and you can send a
message to your men, explaining------"
"And let you get killed instead? That would
be very clever."
"Oh, I'm not likely to get killed! They don't
know me as they do you. And, besides, even if
He stopped, and the Gadfly looked up with a
slow, inquiring gaze. Martini's hand dropped by
"She very likely wouldn't miss me as much as
she would you," he said in his most matter-of-fact
voice. "And then, besides, Rivarez, this is public
business, and we have to look at it from the point
of view of utility--the greatest good of the greatest
number. Your 'final value'---isn't that what
the economists call it?--is higher than mine; I
have brains enough to see that, though I haven't
any cause to be particularly fond of you. You
are a bigger man than I am; I'm not sure that
you are a better one, but there's more of you,
and your death would be a greater loss than mine."
From the way he spoke he might have been discussing
the value of shares on the Exchange. The
Gadfly looked up, shivering as if with cold.
"Would you have me wait till my grave opens
of itself to swallow me up?
"If I must die,
I will encounter darkness as a bride----
Look here, Martini, you and I are talking nonsense."
"You are, certainly," said Martini gruffly.
"Yes, and so are you. For Heaven's sake, don't
let's go in for romantic self-sacrifice, like Don
Carlos and Marquis Posa. This is the nineteenth
century; and if it's my business to die, I have got
to do it."
"And if it's my business to live, I have got to
do that, I suppose. You're the lucky one,
"Yes," the Gadfly assented laconically; "I was
They smoked in silence for a few minutes, and
then began to talk of business details. When
Gemma came up to call them to dinner, neither
of them betrayed in face or manner that their
conversation had been in any way unusual.
After dinner they sat discussing plans and making
necessary arrangements till eleven o'clock, when
Martini rose and took his hat.
"I will go home and fetch that riding-cloak of
mine, Rivarez. I think you will be less recognizable
in it than in your light suit. I want to
reconnoitre a bit, too, and make sure there are no
spies about before we start."
"Are you coming with me to the barrier?"
"Yes; it's safer to have four eyes than two in
case of anyone following you. I'll be back by
twelve. Be sure you don't start without me. I
had better take the key, Gemma, so as not to wake
anyone by ringing."
She raised her eyes to his face as he took the
keys. She understood that he had invented a pretext
in order to leave her alone with the Gadfly.
"You and I will talk to-morrow," she said.
"We shall have time in the morning, when my
packing is finished."
"Oh, yes! Plenty of time. There are two or
three little things I want to ask you about, Rivarez;
but we can talk them over on our way to the
barrier. You had better send Katie to bed,
Gemma; and be as quiet as you can, both of you.
Good-bye till twelve, then."
He went away with a little nod and smile, banging
the door after him to let the neighbours hear
that Signora Bolla's visitor was gone.
Gemma went out into the kitchen to say good-night
to Katie, and came back with black coffee on a tray.
"Would you like to lie down a bit?" she said.
"You won't have any sleep the rest of the night."
"Oh, dear no! I shall sleep at San Lorenzo
while the men are getting my disguise ready."
"Then have some coffee. Wait a minute; I
will get you out the biscuits."
As she knelt down at the side-board he suddenly
stooped over her shoulder.
"Whatever have you got there? Chocolate
creams and English toffee! Why, this is l-luxury
for a king!"
She looked up, smiling faintly at his enthusiastic tone.
"Are you fond of sweets? I always keep them
for Cesare; he is a perfect baby over any kind of
"R-r-really? Well, you must get him s-some
more to-morrow and give me these to take with
me. No, let me p-p-put the toffee in my pocket;
it will console me for all the lost joys of life. I
d-do hope they'll give me a bit of toffee to suck
the day I'm hanged."
"Oh, do let me find a cardboard box for it, at
least, before you put it in your pocket! You
will be so sticky! Shall I put the chocolates in, too?"
"No, I want to eat them now, with you."
"But I don't like chocolate, and I want you to
come and sit down like a reasonable human being.
We very likely shan't have another chance to talk
quietly before one or other of us is killed, and------"
"She d-d-doesn't like chocolate!" he murmured
under his breath. "Then I must be greedy
all by myself. This is a case of the hangman's
supper, isn't it? You are going to humour all my
whims to-night. First of all, I want you to sit
on this easy-chair, and, as you said I might lie
down, I shall lie here and be comfortable."
He threw himself down on the rug at her feet,
leaning his elbow on the chair and looking up into
"How pale you are!" he said. "That's because
you take life sadly, and don't like chocolate----"
"Do be serious for just five minutes! After all,
it is a matter of life and death."
"Not even for two minutes, dear; neither life
nor death is worth it."
He had taken hold of both her hands and was
stroking them with the tips of his fingers.
"Don't look so grave, Minerva! You'll make
me cry in a minute, and then you'll be sorry. I do
wish you'd smile again; you have such a d-delightfully
unexpected smile. There now, don't scold
me, dear! Let us eat our biscuits together, like
two good children, without quarrelling over them
--for to-morrow we die."
He took a sweet biscuit from the plate and
carefully halved it, breaking the sugar ornament
down the middle with scrupulous exactness.
"This is a kind of sacrament, like what the
goody-goody people have in church. 'Take, eat;
this is my body.' And we must d-drink the wine
out of the s-s-same glass, you know--yes, that is
right. 'Do this in remembrance----'"
She put down the glass.
"Don't!" she said, with almost a sob. He
looked up, and took her hands again.
"Hush, then! Let us be quiet for a little bit.
When one of us dies, the other will remember this.
We will forget this loud, insistent world that howls
about our ears; we will go away together, hand in
hand; we will go away into the secret halls of
death, and lie among the poppy-flowers. Hush!
We will be quite still."
He laid his head down against her knee and covered
his face. In the silence she bent over him,
her hand on the black head. So the time slipped
on and on; and they neither moved nor spoke.
"Dear, it is almost twelve," she said at last.
He raised his head.
"We have only a few minutes more; Martini
will be back presently. Perhaps we shall never
see each other again. Have you nothing to say
He slowly rose and walked away to the other
side of the room. There was a moment's silence.
"I have one thing to say," he began in a hardly
audible voice; "one thing--to tell you----"
He stopped and sat down by the window, hiding
his face in both hands.
"You have been a long time deciding to be
merciful," she said softly.
"I have not seen much mercy in my life; and I
thought--at first--you wouldn't care----"
"You don't think that now."
She waited a moment for him to speak and then
crossed the room and stood beside him.
"Tell me the truth at last," she whispered.
"Think, if you are killed and I not--I should have
to go through all my life and never know--never
be quite sure----"
He took her hands and clasped them tightly.
"If I am killed---- You see, when I went to
South America---- Ah, Martini!"
He broke away with a violent start and threw
open the door of the room. Martini was rubbing
his boots on the mat.
"Punctual to the m-m-minute, as usual!
You're an an-n-nimated chronometer, Martini. Is
that the r-r-riding-cloak?"
"Yes; and two or three other things. I have
kept them as dry as I could, but it's pouring with
rain. You will have a most uncomfortable ride,
"Oh, that's no matter. Is the street clear?"
"Yes; all the spies seem to have gone to bed.
I don't much wonder either, on such a villainous
night. Is that coffee, Gemma? He ought to
have something hot before he goes out into the
wet, or he will catch cold."
"It is black coffee, and very strong. I will boil
She went into the kitchen, passionately clenching
her teeth and hands to keep from breaking
down. When she returned with the milk the Gadfly
had put on the riding-cloak and was fastening
the leather gaiters which Martini had brought.
He drank a cup of coffee, standing, and took up
the broad-brimmed riding hat.
"I think it's time to start, Martini; we must
make a round before we go to the barrier, in case
of anything. Good-bye, for the present, signora;
I shall meet you at Forli on Friday, then, unless
anything special turns up. Wait a minute; th-this
is the address."
He tore a leaf out of his pocket-book and wrote
a few words in pencil.
"I have it already," she said in a dull, quiet
"H-have you? Well, there it is, anyway.
Come, Martini. Sh-sh-sh! Don't let the door creak!"
They crept softly downstairs. When the street
door clicked behind them she went back into the
room and mechanically unfolded the paper he had
put into her hand. Underneath the address was
"I will tell you everything there."
IT was market-day in Brisighella, and the country
folk had come in from the villages and hamlets
of the district with their pigs and poultry, their
dairy produce and droves of half-wild mountain
cattle. The market-place was thronged with a
perpetually shifting crowd, laughing, joking, bargaining
for dried figs, cheap cakes, and sunflower
seeds. The brown, bare-footed children sprawled,
face downward, on the pavement in the hot sun,
while their mothers sat under the trees with their
baskets of butter and eggs.
Monsignor Montanelli, coming out to wish the
people "Good-morning," was at once surrounded
by a clamourous throng of children, holding up for
his acceptance great bunches of irises and scarlet
poppies and sweet white narcissus from the mountain
slopes. His passion for wild flowers was
affectionately tolerated by the people, as one of
the little follies which sit gracefully on very wise
men. If anyone less universally beloved had filled
his house with weeds and grasses they would have
laughed at him; but the "blessed Cardinal" could
afford a few harmless eccentricities.
"Well, Mariuccia," he said, stopping to pat one of
the children on the head; "you have grown since I saw
you last. And how is the grandmother's rheumatism?"
"She's been better lately, Your Eminence; but
mother's bad now."
"I'm sorry to hear that; tell the mother to
come down here some day and see whether Dr.
Giordani can do anything for her. I will find
somewhere to put her up; perhaps the change
will do her good. You are looking better, Luigi;
how are your eyes?"
He passed on, chatting with the mountaineers.
He always remembered the names and ages of
the children, their troubles and those of their
parents; and would stop to inquire, with sympathetic
interest, for the health of the cow that fell
sick at Christmas, or of the rag-doll that was
crushed under a cart-wheel last market-day.
When he returned to the palace the marketing
began. A lame man in a blue shirt, with a shock
of black hair hanging into his eyes and a deep scar
across the left cheek, lounged up to one of the
booths and, in very bad Italian, asked for a drink
"You're not from these parts," said the woman
who poured it out, glancing up at him.
"No. I come from Corsica."
"Looking for work?"
"Yes; it will be hay-cutting time soon, and a
gentleman that has a farm near Ravenna came
across to Bastia the other day and told me there's
plenty of work to be got there."
"I hope you'll find it so, I'm sure, but times are
"They're worse in Corsica, mother. I don't
know what we poor folk are coming to."
"Have you come over alone?"
"No, my mate is with me; there he is, in the
red shirt. Hola, Paolo!"
Michele hearing himself called, came lounging
up with his hands in his pockets. He made a
fairly good Corsican, in spite of the red wig which
he had put on to render himself unrecognizable.
As for the Gadfly, he looked his part to perfection.
They sauntered through the market-place together,
Michele whistling between his teeth, and
the Gadfly trudging along with a bundle over his
shoulder, shuffling his feet on the ground to render
his lameness less observable. They were waiting
for an emissary, to whom important directions
had to be given.
"There's Marcone, on horseback, at that corner,"
Michele whispered suddenly. The Gadfly, still carrying
his bundle, shuffled towards the horseman.
"Do you happen to be wanting a hay-maker,
sir?" he said, touching his ragged cap and running
one finger along the bridle. It was the signal
agreed upon, and the rider, who from his
appearance might have been a country squire's
bailiff, dismounted and threw the reins on the
"What sort of work can you do, my man?"
The Gadfly fumbled with his cap.
"I can cut grass, sir, and trim hedges"--he
began; and without any break in his voice, went
straight on: "At one in the morning at the
mouth of the round cave. You must have two
good horses and a cart. I shall be waiting inside
the cave---- And then I can dig, sir, and----"
"That will do, I only want a grass-cutter.
Have you ever been out before?"
"Once, sir. Mind, you must come well-armed;
we may meet a flying squadron. Don't go by the
wood-path; you're safer on the other side. If
you meet a spy, don't stop to argue with him; fire
at once---- I should be very glad of work, sir."
"Yes, I dare say, but I want an experienced
grass-cutter. No, I haven't got any coppers to-day."
A very ragged beggar had slouched up to them,
with a doleful, monotonous whine.
"Have pity on a poor blind man, in the name
of the Blessed Virgin------ Get out of this place at
once; there's a flying squadron coming along----
Most Holy Queen of Heaven, Maiden undefiled--
It's you they're after, Rivarez; they'll be here in
two minutes---- And so may the saints reward
you---- You'll have to make a dash for it; there
are spies at all the corners. It's no use trying to
slip away without being seen."
Marcone slipped the reins into the Gadfly's hand.
"Make haste! Ride out to the bridge and let
the horse go; you can hide in the ravine. We're
all armed; we can keep them back for ten minutes."
"No. I won't have you fellows taken. Stand
together, all of you, and fire after me in order.
Move up towards our horses; there they are, tethered
by the palace steps; and have your knives
ready. We retreat fighting, and when I throw
my cap down, cut the halters and jump every man
on the nearest horse. We may all reach the wood
They had spoken in so quiet an undertone that
even the nearest bystanders had not supposed
their conversation to refer to anything more dangerous
than grass-cutting. Marcone, leading his
own mare by the bridle, walked towards the
tethered horses, the Gadfly slouching along beside
him, and the beggar following them with an outstretched
hand and a persistent whine. Michele
came up whistling; the beggar had warned him
in passing, and he quietly handed on the news to
three countrymen who were eating raw onions
under a tree. They immediately rose and followed
him; and before anyone's notice had been
attracted to them, the whole seven were standing
together by the steps of the palace, each man with
one hand on the hidden pistol, and the tethered
horses within easy reach.
"Don't betray yourselves till I move," the Gadfly
said softly and clearly. "They may not recognize us.
When I fire, then begin in order. Don't
fire at the men; lame their horses--then they can't
follow us. Three of you fire, while the other
three reload. If anyone comes between you and
our horses, kill him. I take the roan. When I
throw down my cap, each man for himself; don't
stop for anything."
"Here they come," said Michele; and the Gadfly
turned round, with an air of naive and stupid
wonder, as the people suddenly broke off in their
Fifteen armed men rode slowly into the marketplace.
They had great difficulty to get past the
throng of people at all, and, but for the spies at
the corners of the square, all the seven conspirators
could have slipped quietly away while the
attention of the crowd was fixed upon the soldiers.
Michele moved a little closer to the Gadfly.
"Couldn't we get away now?"
"No; we're surrounded with spies, and one of
them has recognized me. He has just sent a man
to tell the captain where I am. Our only chance
is to lame their horses."
"Which is the spy?"
"The first man I fire at. Are you all ready?
They have made a lane to us; they are going to
come with a rush."
"Out of the way there!" shouted the captain.
"In the name of His Holiness!"
The crowd had drawn back, startled and wondering;
and the soldiers made a quick dash towards
the little group standing by the palace steps.
The Gadfly drew a pistol from his blouse and fired,
not at the advancing troops, but at the spy, who
was approaching the horses, and who fell back
with a broken collar-bone. Immediately after
the report, six more shots were fired in quick succession,
as the conspirators moved steadily closer
to the tethered horses.
One of the cavalry horses stumbled and
plunged; another fell to the ground with a fearful
cry. Then, through the shrieking of the panic-stricken
people, came the loud, imperious voice of
the officer in command, who had risen in the
stirrups and was holding a sword above his head.
"This way, men!"
He swayed in the saddle and sank back; the
Gadfly had fired again with his deadly aim. A
little stream of blood was trickling down the captain's
uniform; but he steadied himself with a
violent effort, and, clutching at his horse's mane,
cried out fiercely:
"Kill that lame devil if you can't take him alive!
"Another pistol, quick!" the Gadfly called to
his men; "and go!"
He flung down his cap. It was only just in
time, for the swords of the now infuriated soldiers
were flashing close in front of him.
"Put down your weapons, all of you!"
Cardinal Montanelli had stepped suddenly between
the combatants; and one of the soldiers
cried out in a voice sharp with terror:
"Your Eminence! My God, you'll be murdered!"
Montanelli only moved a step nearer, and faced
the Gadfly's pistol.
Five of the conspirators were already on horseback
and dashing up the hilly street. Marcone
sprang on to the back of his mare. In the moment
of riding away, he glanced back to see
whether his leader was in need of help. The roan
was close at hand, and in another instant all would
have been safe; but as the figure in the scarlet
cassock stepped forward, the Gadfly suddenly
wavered and the hand with the pistol sank down.
The instant decided everything. Immediately he
was surrounded and flung violently to the ground,
and the weapon was dashed out of his hand by a
blow from the flat of a soldier's sword. Marcone
struck his mare's flank with the stirrup; the hoofs
of the cavalry horses were thundering up the hill
behind him; and it would have been worse than
useless to stay and be taken too. Turning in the
saddle as he galloped away, to fire a last shot in
the teeth of the nearest pursuer, he saw the Gadfly,
with blood on his face, trampled under the feet
of horses and soldiers and spies; and heard the
savage curses of the captors, the yells of triumph
Montanelli did not notice what had happened;
he had moved away from the steps, and was trying
to calm the terrified people. Presently, as he
stooped over the wounded spy, a startled movement
of the crowd made him look up. The soldiers were
crossing the square, dragging their
prisoner after them by the rope with which his
hands were tied. His face was livid with pain and
exhaustion, and he panted fearfully for breath;
but he looked round at the Cardinal, smiling with
white lips, and whispered:
"I c-cong-gratulate your Eminence."
. . . . .
Five days later Martini reached Forli. He
had received from Gemma by post a bundle of
printed circulars, the signal agreed upon in case of
his being needed in any special emergency; and,
remembering the conversation on the terrace, he
guessed the truth at once. All through the journey
he kept repeating to himself that there was
no reason for supposing anything to have happened
to the Gadfly, and that it was absurd to
attach any importance to the childish superstitions
of so nervous and fanciful a person; but the
more he reasoned with himself against the idea,
the more firmly did it take possession of his mind.
"I have guessed what it is: Rivarez is taken, of
course?" he said, as he came into Gemma's room.
"He was arrested last Thursday, at Brisighella.
He defended himself desperately and wounded the
captain of the squadron and a spy."
"Armed resistance; that's bad!"
"It makes no difference; he was too deeply
compromised already for a pistol-shot more or less
to affect his position much."
"What do you think they are going to do with
She grew a shade paler even than before.
"I think," she said; "that we must not wait to
find out what they mean to do."
"You think we shall be able to effect a rescue?"
He turned away and began to whistle, with his
hands behind his back. Gemma let him think
undisturbed. She was sitting still, leaning her
head against the back of the chair, and looking
out into vague distance with a fixed and tragic
absorption. When her face wore that expression,
it had a look of Durer's "Melancolia."
"Have you seen him?" Martini asked, stopping
for a moment in his tramp.
"No; he was to have met me here the next
"Yes, I remember. Where is he?"
"In the fortress; very strictly guarded, and,
they say, in chains."
He made a gesture of indifference.
"Oh, that's no matter; a good file will get rid
of any number of chains. If only he isn't
"He seems to have been slightly hurt, but
exactly how much we don't know. I think you
had better hear the account of it from Michele
himself; he was present at the arrest."
"How does he come not to have been taken
too? Did he run away and leave Rivarez in the
"It's not his fault; he fought as long as anybody
did, and followed the directions given him to
the letter. For that matter, so did they all. The
only person who seems to have forgotten, or
somehow made a mistake at the last minute, is
Rivarez himself. There's something inexplicable
about it altogether. Wait a moment; I will call
She went out of the room, and presently came
back with Michele and a broad-shouldered mountaineer.
"This is Marco," she said. "You have heard
of him; he is one of the smugglers. He has just
got here, and perhaps will be able to tell us more.
Michele, this is Cesare Martini, that I spoke to
you about. Will you tell him what happened, as
far as you saw it?"
Michele gave a short account of the skirmish
with the squadron.
"I can't understand how it happened," he concluded.
"Not one of us would have left him if
we had thought he would be taken; but his directions
were quite precise, and it never occurred to
us, when he threw down his cap, that he would
wait to let them surround him. He was close beside
the roan--I saw him cut the tether--and I
handed him a loaded pistol myself before I
mounted. The only thing I can suppose is that
he missed his footing,--being lame,--in trying to
mount. But even then, he could have fired."
"No, it wasn't that," Marcone interposed.
"He didn't attempt to mount. I was the last one
to go, because my mare shied at the firing; and I
looked round to see whether he was safe. He
would have got off clear if it hadn't been for the
"Ah!" Gemma exclaimed softly; and Martini
repeated in amazement: "The Cardinal?"
"Yes; he threw himself in front of the pistol--
confound him! I suppose Rivarez must have
been startled, for he dropped his pistol-hand and
put the other one up like this"--laying the back
of his left wrist across his eyes--"and of course
they all rushed on him."
"I can't make that out," said Michele. "It's
not like Rivarez to lose his head at a crisis."
"Probably he lowered his pistol for fear of killing
an unarmed man," Martini put in. Michele
shrugged his shoulders.
"Unarmed men shouldn't poke their noses into
the middle of a fight. War is war. If Rivarez
had put a bullet into His Eminence, instead of letting
himself be caught like a tame rabbit, there'd
be one honest man the more and one priest the less."
He turned away, biting his moustache. His
anger was very near to breaking down in tears.
"Anyway," said Martini, "the thing's done,
and there's no use wasting time in discussing how
it happened. The question now is how we're to
arrange an escape for him. I suppose you're all
willing to risk it?"
Michele did not even condescend to answer the
superfluous question, and the smuggler only remarked
with a little laugh: "I'd shoot my own brother, if he
"Very well, then---- First thing; have you
got a plan of the fortress?"
Gemma unlocked a drawer and took out several
sheets of paper.
"I have made out all the plans. Here is the
ground floor of the fortress; here are the upper
and lower stories of the towers, and here the plan
of the ramparts. These are the roads leading to
the valley, and here are the paths and hiding-places
in the mountains, and the underground passages."
"Do you know which of the towers he is
"The east one, in the round room with the
grated window. I have marked it on the plan."
"How did you get your information?"
"From a man nicknamed 'The Cricket,' a soldier
of the guard. He is cousin to one of our men--Gino."
"You have been quick about it."
"There's no time to lose. Gino went into
Brisighella at once; and some of the plans we
already had. That list of hiding-places was made
by Rivarez himself; you can see by the handwriting."
"What sort of men are the soldiers of the guard?"
"That we have not been able to find out yet;
the Cricket has only just come to the place, and
knows nothing about the other men."
"We must find out from Gino what the Cricket
himself is like. Is anything known of the government's
intentions? Is Rivarez likely to be tried
in Brisighella or taken in to Ravenna?"
"That we don't know. Ravenna, of course, is
the chief town of the Legation and by law cases
of importance can be tried only there, in the