Giuseppa embraced her son, and bursting into tears entered the house. She threw herself on her knees before an image of the Virgin and prayed ardently. In the meanwhile Falcone walked some two hundred paces along the path and only stopped when he reached a little ravine which he descended. He tried the earth with the butt- end of his carbine, and found if soft and easy to dig. The place seemed to be convenient for his design.
“Fortunato, go close to that big rock there.”
The child did as he was commanded, then he kneeled.
“Say your prayers.”
“Oh, father, father, do not kill me!”
“Say your prayers!” repeated Mateo in a terrible voice.
Pater and the Credo
The boy, stammering and sobbing, recited the Pater and the Credo. At the end of each prayer the father loudly answered, “Amen!”
“Are those all the prayers you know?”
“Oh! father, I know the Ave Maria and the litany that my aunt taught me.”
“It is very long, but no matter.”
The child finished the litany in a scarcely audible tone.
“Are you finished?”
“Oh! my father, have mercy! Pardon me! I will never do so again. I will beg my cousin, the Caporal, to pardon Gianetto.”
He was still speaking. Mateo raised his gun, and, taking aim, said: “May God pardon you!”
The boy made a desperate effort to rise and grasp his father`s knees, but there was not time. Mateo fired and Fortunato fell dead.
Without casting a glance on the body, Mateo returned to the house for a spade with which to bury his son. He had gone but a few steps when he met Giuseppa, who, alarmed by the shot, was hastening hither.
“What have you done?” cried she.
“Where is he?”
“In the ravine. I am going to bury him. He died a Christian. I shall have a mass said for him. Have my son-in-law, Tiodoro Bianchi, sent for to come and live with us.”
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