Mateo Falcone part 10

Fortunato had gone into the house when his father arrived, but now he reappeared with a bowl of milk which he handed with downcast eyes to Gianetto.

“Get away from me!” cried the outlaw, in a loud voice. Then, turn¬ing to one of the soldiers, he said:

“Comrade, give me a drink.”

The soldier placed his gourd in his hands, and the prisoner drank the water handed to him by a man with whom he had just exchanged bullets. He then asked them to tie his hands across his breast instead of behind his back.

“I like,” said he, “to lie at my ease.”

They hastened to satisfy him; then the Adjutant gave the signal to start, said adieu to Mateo, who did not respond, and descended with rapid steps towards the plain.

Nearly ten minutes elapsed before Mateo spoke. The child looked with restless eyes, now at his mother, now at his father, who was leaning on his gun and gazing at him with an expression of concentrated rage.

“You begin well,” said Mateo at last with a calm voice, but frightful to one who knew the man.

“Oh, father!” cried the boy, bursting into tears, and making a for¬ward movement as if to throw himself on his knees. But Mateo cried, “Away from me!”

The little fellow stopped and sobbed, immovable, a few feet from his father.

Discovered the watch-chain

Giuseppa drew near. She had just discovered the watch-chain, the end of which was hanging out of Fortunato`s jacket.

“Who gave you that watch?” demanded she in a severe tone.

“My cousin, the Adjutant.”

Falcone seized the watch and smashed it in a thousand pieces against rock “Wife,” said he, “is this my child?”

Giuseppa`s cheeks turned a brick-red.

“What are you saying, Mateo? Do you know to whom you speak?” “Very well, this child is the first of his race to commit treason.” Fortunato`s sobs and gasps redoubled as Falcone kept his lynx-eyes upon him. Then he struck the earth with his gun-stock, shouldered the weapon, and turned in the direction of the maquis, calling to Fortunato to follow. The boy obeyed. Giusepppa hastened after Mateo and seized his arm.

“He is your son,” said she with a trembling voice, fastening her black eyes on those of her husband to read what was going on in his heart. “Leave me alone,” said Mateo. “I am his father.”

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