Mateo Falcone part 4

The child appeared moved.

“What will you give me if I hide you?” said he, coming nearer.

The outlaw felt in a leather pocket that hung from his belt, and took out a five-franc piece, which he had doubtless saved to buy ammuni¬tion with.

Fortunato smiled at the sight of the silver piece; he snatched it, and said to Gianetto:

“Fear nothing.”

Immediately he made a great hole in a pile of hay that was near the house. Gianetto crouched down in it and the child covered him in such a way that he could breathe without it being possible to suspect that the hay concealed a man.

He bethought himself further, and, with the subtlety of a tolerably ingenious savage, placed a cat and her kittens on the pile, that it might not appear to have been recently disturbed. Then, noticing the traces of blood on the path near the house, he covered them carefully with dust, and, that done, he again stretched himself out in the sun with the greatest tranquillity.

A few moments afterwards, six men in brown uniforms with yellow collars, and commanded by an Adjutant, were before Mateo`s door. This Adjutant was a distant relative of Falcone`s. (In Corsica the degrees of relationship are followed much further than elsewhere.) His name was Tiodoro Gamba; he was an active man, much dreaded by the outlaws, several of whom he had already entrapped.

Approaching Fortunato

“Good day, little cousin,” said he, approaching Fortunato; “how tall you have grown. Have you seen a man go past here just now?” “Oh! I am not yet so tall as you, my cousin,” replied the child with a simple air.

“You soon will be. But haven`t you seen a man go by here, tell me?” “If I have seen a man go by?”

“Yes, a man with a pointed hat of black velvet, and a vest embroid¬ered with red and yellow.”

“A man with a pointed hat, and a vest embroidered with red and yellow?”

“Yes, answer quickly, and don`t repeat my questions!”

“This morning the cur£ passed before our door on his horse, Piero. He asked me how papa was, and I answered him”

“Ah, you little scoundrel, you are playing sly! Tell me quickly which way Gianetto went? We are looking for him, and I am sure he took this path.”

“Who knows?”

“Who knows? It is I know that you have seen him.”

“Can any one see who passes when they are asleep?”

“You were not asleep, rascal; the shooting woke you up.”

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