GIULIA [shuddering with sincere sympathy] Poor Signorino! That must have hurt horribly.
FERRUCCIO. What! You pity me for the tooth affair, and you did not
pity me in that hideous agony of terror that is not the terror of death
nor of anything else, but pure grim terror in itself.
GIULIA. It was the terror of the soul, Signor. And I do not pity
your soul: you have a wicked soul. But you have pretty teeth.
FERRUCCIO. The toothache lasted a week; but the agony of my soul was
too dreadful to last five minutes: I should have died of it if it could
have kept its grip of me. But you helped me out of it.
GIULIA. I, Signor!
FERRUCCIO. Yes: you. If you had pitied me: if you had been less
inexorable than death itself, I should have broken down and cried and
begged for mercy. But now I have come up against something hard:
something real: something that does not care for me. I see now the
truth of my excellent uncle's opinion that I was a spoilt cub. When I
wanted anything I threatened men or ran crying to women; and they gave
it to me. I dreamed and romanced: imagining things as I wanted them,
not as they really are. There is nothing like a good look into the face
of death: close up: right on you: for shewing you how little you really
believe and how little you really are. A priest said to me once, "In
your last hour everything will fall away from you except your
religion." But I have lived through my last hour; and my religion was
the first thing that fell away from me. When I was forced at last to
believe in grim death I knew at last what belief was, and that I had
never believed in anything before: I had only flattered myself with
pretty stories, and sheltered myself behind Mumbo Jumbo, as a soldier
will shelter himself from arrows behind a clump of thistles that only
hide the shooters from him. When I believe in everything that is real
as I believed for that moment in death, then I shall be a man at last.
I have tasted the water of life from the cup of death; and it may be
now that my real life began with this [he holds up the rosary]
and will end with the triple crown or the heretic's fire: I care not
which. [Springing to his feet] Come out, then, dog of a bandit,
and fight a man who has found his soul. [Squarcio appears at the
door, sword in hand. Ferruccio leaps at him and strikes him full in the
chest with his dagger. Squarcio puts back his left foot to brace
himself against the shock. The dagger snaps as if it had struck a stone
GIULIA. Quick, Sandro.
Sandro, who has come stealing round the corner of the inn with a
fishing net, casts it over Ferruccio, and draws it tight.
SQUARCIO. Your Excellency will excuse my shirt of mail. A good home
blow, nevertheless, Excellency.
SANDRO. Your Excellency will excuse my net: it is a little damp.
FERRUCCIO. Well, what now? Accidental drowning, I suppose.
SANDRO. Eh, Excellency, it is such a pity to throw a good fish back
into the water when once you have got him safe in your net. My
Giulietta: hold the net for me.
GIULIA [taking the net and twisting it in her hands to draw it
tighter round him] I have you very fast now, Signorino, like a
little bird in a cage.
FERRUCCIO. You have my body, Giulia. My soul is free.
GIULIA. Is it, Signor? I think Saint Barbara has got that in her net
too. She has turned your jest into earnest.
SANDRO. It is indeed true, sir, that those who come under the
special protection of God and the Saints are always a little mad; and
this makes us think it very unlucky to kill a madman. And since from
what Father Squarcio and I overheard, it is clear that your Excellency,
though a very wise and reasonable young gentleman in a general way, is
somewhat cracked on the subject of the soul and so forth, we have
resolved to see that no harm comes to your Excellency.
FERRUCCIO. As you please. My life is only a drop falling from the
vanishing clouds to the everlasting sea, from finite to infinite, and
itself part of the infinite.
SANDRO [impressed] Your Excellency speaks like a crazy but
very holy book. Heaven forbid that we should raise a hand against you?
But your Excellency will notice that this good action will cost us
FERRUCCIO. Is it not worth it?
SANDRO. Doubtless, doubtless. It will in fact save us the price of
certain masses which we should otherwise have had said for the souls of
certain persons who--ahem! Well, no matter. But we think it dangerous
and unbecoming that a nobleman like your Excellency should travel
without a retinue, and unarmed; for your dagger is unfortunately
broken, Excellency. If you would therefore have the condescension to
accept Father Squarcio as your man-at-arms--your servant in all but the
name, to save his nobility--he will go with you to any town in which
you will feel safe from His Eminence the Cardinal, and will leave it to
your Excellency's graciousness as to whether his magnanimous conduct
will not then deserve some trifling present: say a wedding gift for my
FERRUCCIO. Good: the man I tried to slay will save me from being
slain. Who would have thought Saint Barbara so full of irony!
SANDRO. And if the offer your Excellency was good enough to make in
respect of Giulietta still stands--
SQUARCIO. Rascal: have you then no soul?
SANDRO. I am a poor man, Excellency: I cannot afford these luxuries
of the rich.
FERRUCCIO. There is a certain painter will presently make a great
picture of St Barbara; and Giulia will be his model. He will pay her
well. Giulia: release the bird. It is time for it to fly.
She takes the net from his shoulders.
COOLE PARK, Summer, 1909.