“Then you believe, cousin, that your guns make so much noise? My father`s carbine has the advantage of them.”
“The devil take you, you cursed little scapegrace! I am certain that you have seen Gianetto. Perhaps, even, you have hidden him. Come, comrades, go into the house and see if our man is there. He could only go on one foot, and the knave has too much good sense to try to reach the maquis limping like that.
Moreover, the bloody tracks stop here.” “And what will papa say?” asked Fortunato with a sneer. “What will he say if he knows that his house has been entered while he was away?”
“You rascal,” said the Adjutant, taking him by the ear, “do you know that it only remains for me to make you change your tone? Perhaps you will speak differently after I have given you twenty blows with the flat of my sword.”
Fortunato continued to sneer.
“My father is Mateo Falcone,” said he with emphasis.
“You little scamp, you know very well that I can carry you off to Corte or to Bastia. I will make you lie in a dungeon, on straw, with your feet in shackles, and I will have you guillotined if you don`t tell me where Gianetto is.”
The child burst out laughing at this ridiculous menace. He repeated: “My father is Mateo Falcone.”
“Adjutant,” said one of the soldiers in a low voice, “let us have no quarrels with Mateo.”
Cabin of a Corsican consists
Gamba appeared evidently embarrassed. He spoke in an undertone with the soldiers who had already visited the house. This was not a very long operation, for the cabin of a Corsican consists only of a single square room, furnished with a table, some benches, chests, house¬keeping utensils and those of the chase. In the meantime, little For¬tunato petted his cat and seemed to take a wicked enjoyment in the confusion of the soldiers and of his cousin.
One of the men approached the pile of hay. He saw the cat, and gave the pile a careless thrust with his bayonet, shrugging his shoulders as if he felt that his precaution was ridiculous. Nothing moved; the boy`s face betrayed not the slightest emotion.
The Adjutant and his troop were cursing their luck. Already they were looking in the direction of the plain, as if disposed to return by the way they had come, when their chief, convinced that menaces would produce no impression of Falcone`s son, determined to make a last effort, and try the effect of caresses and presents.
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