"Am I a dog, to meet this end!" demanded Pippo, fiercely "or that I should not know my own bones from those of some infidel rascal, who may happen to be my neighbor!" "We have had one disturbance about brutes, let us not have another;" sarcastically rejoined Il Maledetto.
Il Maledetto trembled with the reaction of this hot sally, the moment his gripe was forcibly released, and he would have disappeared as soon as possible, had it been the pleasure of those into whose hands he had fallen to permit so politic a step. But now commenced the war of words, and the clamor of voices, which usually succeed, as well as precede, all contests of a popular nature.
"Tell it plainly!" commanded Girolamo, hastening after the retreating figure and violently grasping his arm to detain him. "Have I failed to her in aught? She is soul of my soul! Maledetto! why dost thou break my heart?" "Look to thine other son-in-law!"
Learning is a ticklish thing; it was said by Festus to have maddened even the wise and experienced Paul and what may we not expect it to do with your downright ignoramus? What is thy name prisoner?" "Tommaso Santi; sometimes known among my friends as San Tommaso; called by my enemies, Il Maledetto, and by my familiars, Maso." "Thou hast a formidable number of aliases, the certain sign of a rogue.
Placing himself in the middle of the path, he awaited the arrival of the party, while the monk stood quietly at his side. When the travellers were within speaking distance, the young man first discovered that the companions of Il Maledetto were Pippo and Conrad.
Il Maledetto presented himself with perfect steadiness of nerve. He was accompanied by Nettuno, the mastiffs of the convent having been kennelled for the night. It had been the habit of the dog of late to stray among the rocks by day, and to return to the convent in the evening in quest of food, the sterile St.
Il Maledetto rarely listened to the voice of the Signor Grimaldi, without a manner of interest and curiosity which, as already mentioned, had more than once struck the latter himself, but which he quite naturally attributed to the circumstance of his person being known to one who had declared himself to be a native of Genoa.
Il Maledetto was again troubled. His features betrayed it, for he frowned like a man who had committed a grave fault in a matter touching an important interest. His olive complexion changed, and his interrogator thought that his eye quailed before his own fixed look. But the emotion was transient, and shuddering, as if to shake off a weakness, his appearance became once more natural and composed.
Here is Balthazar, come of a race of executioners a man condemned of opinion that prejudice besets with a hedge of hatred that men point at with their fingers, and whom the dogs are ready to bay this Balthazar is the father of that gallant youth, whose form is so perfect, whose spirit is so noble, and whose life so pure; while I, the last of a line that is lost in the obscurity of time, the wealthiest of my land, and the chosen of my peers, am accursed with an outcast, a common brigand, a murderer, for the sole prop of my decaying house with this Il Maledetto this man accursed for a son!"
Thou wert alone, but we travelled in company; judging from thy exterior, thou art but little favored by fortune, Whereas we are more happy in this particular; and thou hast been, and art still, in haste to depart, while the discovery of the foul deed is owing to us alone. Thou must return to the convent, that this grave matter may, at least, be examined." Il Maledetto seemed troubled.