My Ten Years' Imprisonment/Chapter 5
Had Tirola, with his expression of good-nature, possessed a less roguish look, had there been something a little more dignified in his aspect, I should have tried to make him my ambassador; for perhaps a brief communication, if in time, might prevent my friend committing some fatal error, perhaps save him, poor fellow; besides several others, including myself: and too much was already known. Patience! it was fated to be thus.
I was here recalled to be examined anew. The process continued through the day, and was again and again repeated, allowing me only a brief interval during dinner. While this lasted, the time seemed to pass rapidly; the excitement of mind produced by the endless series of questions put to me, and by going over them at dinner and at night, digesting all that had been asked and replied to, reflecting on what was likely to come, kept me in a state of incessant activity. At the end of the first week I had to endure a most vexatious affair. My poor friend Piero, eager as myself to have some communication, sent me a note, not by one of the jailers, but by an unfortunate prisoner who assisted them. He was an old man from sixty to seventy, and condemned to I know not how long a period of captivity. With a pin I had by me I pricked my finger, and scrawled with my blood a few lines in reply, which I committed to the same messenger. He was unluckily suspected, caught with the note upon him, and from the horrible cries that were soon heard, I conjectured that he was severely bastinadoed. At all events I never saw him more.
On my next examination I was greatly irritated to see my note presented to me (luckily containing nothing but a simple salutation), traced in my blood. I was asked how I had contrived to draw the blood; was next deprived of my pin, and a great laugh was raised at the idea and detection of the attempt. Ah, I did not laugh, for the image of the poor old messenger rose before my eyes. I would gladly have undergone any punishment to spare the old man. I could not repress my tears when those piercing cries fell upon my ear. Vainly did I inquire of the jailers respecting his fate. They shook their heads, observing, "He has paid dearly for it, he will never do such like things again; he has a little more rest now." Nor would they speak more fully. Most probably they spoke thus on account of his having died under, or in consequence of, the punishment he had suffered; yet one day I thought I caught a glimpse of him at the further end of the court-yard, carrying a bundle of wood on his shoulders. I felt a beating of the heart as if I had suddenly recognised a brother.