The lines, instead of being separate, were all run together, as far as the breadth of the paper would permit, so that they did not agree with the accepted definition of poetic composition "short lines of unequal length, with a margin on each side of them." Mademoiselle Colomba's somewhat fanciful spelling might also have excited comment.
His lips began to work, he tried to stretch out his hands, but, fascinated by Colomba's glance, he sat, nailed, as it were, to his chair, unable to move or utter a word. At last great tears dropped from his eyes, and a few sobs escaped from his heaving chest. "'Tis the first time I've seen him like this," said the good woman.
Colomba sat down near him, and gazed at him silently, with her hands clasped, as though she were praying in her heart. Miss Lydia hid her face in her handkerchief, and nestled close against her friend, but every now and then she lifted her head to take a look at the wounded man over Colomba's shoulder. Thus a quarter of an hour passed by without a word being said by anybody.
Thus heralded, the two prisoners appeared, surrounded by their armed escort. My readers will imagine Colomba's radiant face, her companion's confusion, the prefect's surprise, the colonel's astonishment and joy.
This was the colonel, with his daughter, their servants, and their guide. Colomba's first word, as she welcomed them, was "Have you seen my brother?" Then she questioned the guide as to the road they had taken, and the hour of their departure, and having heard his answers, she could not understand why they had not met him.
"Is that you, Ors' Anton'?" exclaimed the child, rather startled. "It is Signorina Colomba's song." "I forbid you to sing it!" said Orso, in a threatening voice.
From the window of the drawing-room Miss Lydia watched the brother and sister mount their horses. Colomba's eyes shone with a malignant joy which she had never remarked in them before.
Toward one o'clock, as none of Colomba's messengers had yet returned, she gathered all her courage, and insisted that her guests should sit down to table with her. But, except the colonel, none of them could eat. At the slightest sound in the square, Colomba ran to the window.
Whether it was that the arrival of his sister had reminded Orso forcibly of his paternal home, or that Colomba's unconventional dress and manners made him feel shy before his civilized friends, he announced, the very next day, his determination to leave Ajaccio, and to return to Pietranera.
The child understood her agonized look, and her first words were those of the chorus in Othello: "He lives!" Colomba's grasp relaxed, and nimbly as a kitten Chilina dropped upon the ground. "The others?" queried Colomba hoarsely. Chilina crossed herself with her first and middle finger. A deep flush instantly replaced the deadly pallor of Colomba's face.