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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesCaptain Mansana - Chapter 14
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Captain Mansana - Chapter 14 Post by :add2it Category :Long Stories Author :Bjornstjerne Bjornson Date :May 2012 Read :604

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Captain Mansana - Chapter 14

CHAPTER XIV

The sequel shall be told in a letter written by Theresa Leaney to Mansana's mother, and sent from the princess's Hungarian estate not long after the events set forth in the last chapter:

"DEAREST MOTHER,

"At last you shall have a connected account of all that has happened since we parted at Naples. Excuse me if at times I repeat what I have told you already.

"Well, then, you must know that after our wedding Giuseppe's gloomy reserve was replaced by a devoted and humble zeal to do me service which made me anxious; it seemed so strange in him. His old confidence and self-reliance did not return till after our visit to the town in which he had last been quartered. He quite understood why you wanted us to go there first of all; and how worthy of our love he showed himself! Among his comrades he had, as it were, to run the gauntlet; he faced the trial at once, and with a courage which I think may well be called heroic. And I should also like to tell you a little about a certain young bride who helped him then. You must understand that never in her life had she seemed more brilliant, more joyous, than at this time, when it was a question of supporting this noble lover through his days of humiliation. Her gestures, her words, her whole bearing seemed to challenge the question: 'Who dare say anything against him when I say nothing?'

"I have, I am afraid, still so much coquetry left as to be half inclined to give you particulars of my costumes on each of these three days. (I had got my maid to come to me from Ancona with some dresses.) But I will have the modesty to forbear.

"And so it came about that, after those three days of struggle in the mountain town, this same young bride found herself loved as not many women have ever been loved before; for there is power in that deep temperament, which you, dear friend, have given him out of your own perfect soul. But I must not forget to praise the man Sardi; for a man he is indeed! He had done a most excellent service in giving it to be understood that Mansana had been ill--as, in fact, he was--and that you and I had nursed him back to health. It was fortunate that Mansana, who had already gained fame among his comrades, had now laid up a store of affection in their hearts on which he could make many demands before it is exhausted. They were determined to think well of Giuseppe Mansana. My dear husband felt that himself, and it made him very humble, for he was oppressed by the thought that he had not deserved all this affection.

"In Ancona all went easily enough. The main obstacles had been overcome. And now--now at last--he is all mine, and I have for my own the noblest character in the world, cleansed and purified, the most considerate husband, the most devoted companion, the manliest lover that any Italian girl ever won. Pardon the vehemence of my expressions. I know you do not like them, but they _will out.

"In Bologna--you see I hasten on--as we were walking about, we happened to pass the town hall. There two marble tablets hang, inscribed with the names of those who fell in the fight for the liberation of the city. I felt a thrill pass through Giuseppe's arm; and to this circumstance I owe a conversation which laid, deeper than ever, the foundations of our union.

"You know, dearest mother, how my eyes were opened to the wrong I did Giuseppe by my odious, egotistical caprices; they almost cost him his life and both of us our happiness. You know how my soul is constantly vexed by that state of public feeling which breeds in us resentment, hatred, unreasonable fanaticism, and a disgraceful intolerance. An unnatural, unhealthy state of opinion like this does more harm to society than the most disastrous war, for it is impossible to estimate how much it destroys of spiritual power and efficiency, how many hearts it leaves empty, how many families it lays waste. Believe me, mother, that any nation which has achieved an unrighteous conquest, and annexed what belongs to others, makes all its citizens participators in its wrong-doing. Not only does it relax the moral fibre of every individual and add to the mischiefs done by private chicanery, violence, and robbery, and the harsh tyranny of officialism, but it robs the heart of its due rights in the family and society.

"Some silly verses were once written about me by an enamoured fool; not a word of truth was there in them. But now, my beloved mother, I feel that, if I had never met Giuseppe, what was said in those verses would have come to be true enough some time, for heartless and vain as I then was, heartless and vain I should have remained to the end! And why? Because the unhappy condition of public affairs had sown poison in my whole nature.

"And my confessions were met by Giuseppe's. His defiant, egotistical will had so mastered him that the most casual interference with his desires might have cost him his life, the merest accident have changed its whole course. But that same defiant will--in what atmosphere had it been fostered?

"We gave one another the fullest confidence that evening in Bologna, and then for the first time all doubts vanished and the future seemed absolutely secure.

"Here, on this estate of mine that I love, he has set to work. Here all was chaos, so that he has something on which his energies can be brought to bear. He intends to resign his commission--he does not care any longer to play the soldier in peace time. He needs to be busy on definite objects, that lie near at hand, and if I divine rightly, the objects dearest to him are those most carefully hidden from the world. So, at any rate, it stands for the present; what events may develop I know not. But this I do know: let Italy be in danger, and he will place himself in the front rank, whatever the circumstances may be.

"God's blessing on you! Come here soon; you must see him in this active life of his, you must see him with me. Has any woman ever had so devoted a husband, so gallant a lover? Ah, I know you do not give me leave to talk in this extravagant vein. But I cannot help it, and I must tell you again that these are the words I feel I _must use.

"I love you, and again and again I long to embrace you, to kiss you, you dear mother, to whom I owe my happiness.

"Dearest, so hardly tried and proven, from whose eyes there streams a hymn of praise, from whose lips the words of help and comfort pour their waters of refreshment, we want you to bow your grey head over our happiness, that it may be blessed. Yes, you must let us learn from you, so that the evil days do not come too soon upon us.

"Your son's wife, your own, your loving

"THERESA."


(THE END)
Bjornstjerne Bjornson's Book: Captain Mansana

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