Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 10/Beppo, the conscript - Part 19

Part 18Part 20


be said that jg ki




the pos-



Of the

be fields, it so


probably Such a case So true it is that id ich matters is ruled more








and the natural


than by any other order of syncrasies of race, espial raa the morning after the unfortunate at Santa Lucia, expedition to the old tower, clock in the forenoon ; the farmer I

and his son wave in the fields, and la padrona was engaged in household affairs, up-stairs. Giulia was busy in the kitchen, mechanically of little going through her accustomed round

when Corporal Tenda came into the It was the first time that Giulia and room. been alone together since he had been For it had been the object of at Bella Luce. of them to avoid such meetings. .


u will excuse me, I hope, for intruding on you, Signora," said the Corporal, saluting ry gravely, and with the same military h of the arm that he would have used to

" the Colonel of the regiment ; you will do me the justice to admit, that since I have been have not yielded to the temptation of og with you." >u have been very kind, Signor Capo-


said Giulia, sighing deeply, is




" Pardon me ermit






and now


you the on learning that the .ess I had been presumptuous enough to is out of my reach. He made you that your happiness is the consideration I have in the world and villi,



I believe, explained to




that OSD be

promoted only fare of your cousin, then ur cousin becomes a matter of to me." 1

gratefol to


Caporale, "



for again









for the welfare

  • }'




no way of avoiding absolute ruin and de-


Even if struction except timely submission. he could hope permanently to elude the pursuit of the troops and the police, what sort of a

life is

that of a bandit


for such a


Be sure, therefore, that Signor Beppo the chance which has led to the certainty of r his capture, w hen he comes up to the tower yonder, is the best thing that could happen to Not the best thing, however for the him. best thing would be that he should surrender as



and I had hoped that you might

" possibly have induced him to do so " But I intended to I try hard to do so voluntarily



did write to him, Signor Caporale, begging him I should have said all I could to come back. everything I could think of to make him come Oh Signor in, when I saw him at the tower. Caporale, why not let me try ? Why not let me meet him," said Giulia, clasping her hands, as a sudden ray of hope darted into her mind ; " why not let me meet him alone, and try to " persuade him ? " It would be against orders, against duty, I would not do it to save my neck Signora But I am not sure not from the halter. sure," he added, looking into her tearful eyes, " that I should not do it to merit your grati!


had been possible Happily for me, not possible. You forget, Signora, that it was not I who discovered the secret of your appointment with Signor Beppo, but two of my men. Even if I were to be willing to commit this breach of duty, I could not for the men know, as well as I, that it is our duty to take the defaulter at all hazards, and by every means. Signor Beppo must be taken on Sunday tude

if it



busithere is no help for it.

ness was only to point out for your consolation that it is in truth the best thing that could



happen to him and just to say that you may depend on me to make it clear to him, that his capture is not due to any betrayal of him


condescend to shall the sooner

yon of J




There is a are posted all over the country. copy on the door of the Court-house up at It is perfectly clear, that there Santa Lucia.


for interrupting you, Signora to say a few words to you.

[Feb. 13, 1864.


any way." " Beppo will never, never, believe it he " but there was some thinks feeling at Giulia's heart, sore and bleeding as it was, that prevented her from going on to demonstrate what it was that Beppo thought which would make him proof against the Corporal's elo;

quence. r.

hs*| any donbtl

" said hope he will be more reasonable And now, Signora, 1 must little thought when I last did so that should see you again here, and under such circumstances. I shall not intrude Upon your privacy again and besides, you are 11



" the Corporal. bid you farewell. Dp<»n


subject II

any the







aware, of course, that the capture of your cousin puts an end to oar unwelcome stay It will be our duty to inarch with him at onco that same evening to F&no. May the time





may meet

uml'T happier ciroum " Addio, Signor Caporale " to you for much kindness






" !



" said the CorFarewell, Signora Giulia the kitchen. of in the act leaving poral, "Oh, Signor Caporale!" said Giulia, sud-




will anything very denly calling after him bad be done to Beppo for going away?" " They don't want to be severe Oh, no.

with the men. They know, between ourselves, Signora," he continued, dropping his voice as he spoke, with the true Italian feeling that he was approaching a dangerous subject, " they



it is

the priests that are really to

blame more than the poor fellows who take to the hills. Only No, they won't do much. let him buckle-to with a good will, and make a good soldier, and all will soon be forgotten, and he will be made a corporal in no time. And you won't like him any the worse when he comes back a smart soldier, Signora Giulia," said the Corporal, with a somewhat rueful smile

" I shall tell him that, Signora Good-bye " No, no, you must not tell him that





not from me " said Giulia, very eagerly And it but the Corporal was already gone. may be doubted whether she was very anxious to prevent the little man from using any means that such a consideration might supply towards least




to his fate,

if it



deed come to be his fate. But there were yet two nights and two days before that fate was to be consummated in the manner Corporal Tenda and his men contemIt was a Friday on which the above plated. conversation had taken place. There was, the Friday night, all the day of Saturday, the Saturday night, and the whole of the day on Sunday, before the time fixed for his coming to the tryste at the old tower. And during all this time Giulia had to meditate upon the coming catastrophe It was in vain that she persuaded herself of the truth of the Corporal's representation, that to be




of the feeling with which Beppo, like the army. i

all his


again, she put very little faith in the good result of any of those promised representations of the Corporal, to t! hat the capture

was effected by no fault or participation <-;' She knew well whaon the subject would be. She was too well aware how all that he had Men in Fano would


appear to his mind to be confirmation as

Holy Writ





pictured to herself the bitter scorn with which he would listen to assurances which, to him,

would have the effect of hi her and her lover, for the purpose of She saw blinding and making a fool of him. but too clearly how the circumstances of the matter must appear to him, how they would carry with them all the weight and authority


of indubitable





which were to follow them would come halting after with the weakness of mere excuses. And bearing in mind, too, Beppo's natural feeling towards the person who was to be the bearer of those excuses, she dared not flatter herself In short, that any good could come of them.

by the time she had spent most part of the

in the Friday night, that is ensuing night meditating on the matter in the silence of the night hours, the result was, that any good effect which the representations of the Corporal might have had on her mind at the moment

was altogether



during the whole of that day, the Saturday, the hourly drawing near of the consummation which was for evermore to brand her as false beyond all precedent falseness infamous beyond all imagined infamy, was never for a moment absent from her mind. But by the time the Ave Maria had come, she had determined on a course of action. It was very doubtful whether the effort she purposed making would be of any avail but at least, her intention involved self-sacrifice and action, with however desperate a hope,

was preferable to hopeless agonised waiting


inaction for the catastrophe.

The night came. The farmer and Carlo came home to their supper but there were

captured and taken off by force to serve his time in the army was all for his advantage. Giulia, if not altogether imbued herself with the genuine coutadino horror for the service, for her views and feelings had been a good deal modified and enlarged in this respect by her residence in the city, and by her associa-

only three of the soldiers to sup with them. Giulia had not seen the Corporal since her conversation with him in the morning. And now he and one of the men were absent at the But there was nothing unusual supper- time. in this. Two, or more, of the party were often absent, sometimes all night, patrolling the

tion there with military men, and by the conversations which she had sometimes taken part in, but had oftoner listened to ; nevertheless,

in obedience to information furnished

was quite contadina enough to be well aware


neighbourhood, or marching hither and thither


in all probability intentionally false information

the majority of cases—of the whereabout of ONCE A WEEK. some one or other of the contumacious conscripts.

oon as the sup;


the soldiers

room by and very soon afternily went also to went to hers, and bolted the door of it as soon as she had after making one or two small in the





changes in hev

curing id,



which she had previously iu a handkerchief, knotted

the purpose of a wallet, she

indow, and after straining her ight to see, and her ears to hear iet, she placed a chair by .


the side of the window-sill, and by



and unhesitating foot on which, a few minutes before supper, she had secretly carried round to the back of the house, on which the window of her room rith a light





But Giulia's calculation was, that she should not be obliged to go all the way to the place He was to be at the old of Beppo's retreat. tower at the back of the churchyard a couple of hours after the Ave Maria on the Sunday about twenty hours, that is to say, evening, or a little more, from the time of her departure from Bella Luce. She hoped, therefore, that at the end of about ten hours' walk, early on the Sunday morning, she should meet him on

so give him ample warning of Then, indeed, she would urge on him all that the Corporal had said and, if possible, induce him to surrender himself voluntarily to the authorities at Fano. The Corporal himself had said that that would be the best his road,


his danger.

thing for him of


It never entered, it will be observed, into Giulia's calculations, that a person coming

from Piobico to Santa Lucia might travel by Poor any other route than by the high road Giulia She had always heard all her life that when people wanted to go to any place, they went along the road till they came to it, and no other possible course of proceeding presented itself to her imagination. She purposed which was going through the Pass of Furlo, !


time she had secretly left the house u spied, in consequence of y to the kitchen-door by the door of




which the


were sleep-

This time she was determined to avoid

the part of the road that she best remembered,


She descended the ladder swiftly and surely and on reaching height was not great ; she started, without losing a id, moment in any further listenings, on the path whieh led to the village. t was the purpose of her night-tide It was simply to undo expedition this time 1 def she had so unwillingly done, by

ipo from coming to the trystingture awaited him. It was but


able to effect

•thing of the locality he was hiding. 'She had •ml of Santa Maria

But the messenger had It was possi>bico. rould be coming from '


had a general idea of .

BO del I

she had once

new the

— very



then she

any a mile, by the


for it is a

very remarkable

But we know that the


especially cautioned


by that route



to pass on

Beppo not



Giulia sped along the path to the village, with her wallet of bread slung behind her a precaution which was rendered shoulders, necessary by her absolute lack of money, the entirety of her moneyed possessions having been, as we saw, expended on the messenger who had brought the letter that had caused




She sped along the path, reached the village, where all the population had gone to bed two hours or more ago, reached the cura } at the windows of which she glanced suspiciously reached the but there was no light in them church and the churchyard behind it and the foot of the old ruined tower by which the road passed that was to take her down through one or two other villages into the valley of the


She had looked at the mra suspiciously she passed but she cast no glai; doubt or misgiving on the old half-ruined


brick tower. Nobody lived in that save the owls up in the ivy that clustered around its top. "less,



13, 1864.


there were two shrewd to

ivy at her as she passed. (To


no such biped, looking out be c niinxitd.)