The Betrothed CHAPTER 25

In the village where she lived and throughout the territory of Lecco, people were talking on the following day of little else but Lucia, the Unnamed and the Archbishop – and of one other person, who generally liked people to talk about him, but would gladly have done without it on this occasion. This was my lord Don Rodrigo.

Of course people had been talking about his activities long before this time; but only in secret, disjointed conversations. Two men had to know each other very well before opening a discussion on such a subject. And people had never spoken about it with the full feeling that the matter deserved. For when it is dangerous to express indignation to the full most men do not merely conceal or understate their sense of outrage, but really feel less indignation than they would otherwise have done. But now no one was likely to feel shy about asking questions or stating opinions regarding a widely known story, in which the hand of Providence could clearly be seen – a story with two such remarkable heroes, one of whom united so vigorous a love of justice with so lofty an authority, while the other was a man in whom tyranny itself seemed to be humbled, and gangsterism itself to have laid down its arms and sued for peace. In comparison with those towering figures Don Rodrigo began to look rather small. Anyone could now see just what it meant to torture innocent people in the hope of making them surrender their honour, to persecute them with such shameless insistence, such atrocious violence, such abominable, underhand villainy.

A whole series of Don Rodrigo’s earlier exploits were remembered, and people now said what they thought about them, each individual taking heart from the discovery that everyone else agreed with him. There was a general murmur and a general unrest – still at a discreet distance, however, because of all the bravoes Don Rodrigo had around him.

A good deal of the public hatred fell upon his friends and protégés. His worship the mayor, who had always been blind, deaf and dumb when it came to Don Rodrigo’s activities, received his full share of it; though again only from a distance, because he too was effectively guarded – not by bravoes, but by the police. Dr Quibbler (whose only weapons were those of sophistry and intrigue) and other minor protégés received less consideration. They were greeted with pointing fingers and scowling looks; so that they felt it better to keep off the streets for some time.

Don Rodrigo was thunderstruck by the astonishing news, so utterly different from the message he had been expecting to hear from one day to another, from hour to hour in fact. He shut himself up in his palace for a couple of days, grinding his teeth, and with only his bravoes for company. On the third day he went off to Milan. If it had only been a matter of the popular murmur against him, he might have stayed on (since things had already gone so far) to face it out, and perhaps to single out one or two of the most daring spirits and make an example of them for the benefit of the others. The thing that shifted him was definite news that the Archbishop was about to visit that part of the state. Don Rodrigo’s noble uncle, who knew nothing of the whole story except what he had been told by Attilio, would certainly have insisted that his nephew should take a leading part on any such occasion – that he should receive the most conspicuous public greetings from the Cardinal.

Anyone could see how that would turn out … His uncle would not only have insisted on Don Rodrigo playing his part, but would have wanted a full and detailed report afterwards, because it would have been a significant opportunity to demonstrate the respect in which the family was held by one of the greatest authorities in the duchy. To escape from this embarrassing situation, Don Rodrigo rose before dawn one morning, and got into a carriage, with Griso and various other bravoes outside it, in front of it and behind. He left orders that the rest of the household should follow as soon as possible, and set off like a fugitive, after the manner of Catiline – if we may presume to dignify our characters with an occasional classical analogy – of Catiline fleeing from Rome, snarling and swearing to return before long in a very different guise and take his revenge.

Meanwhile the Cardinal continued his journey, visiting the parishes of the territory of Lecco at the rate of one a day. On the day when he was due to arrive at Lucia’s village, many of the inhabitants went out early to meet him. At the entrance to the village, right next to Agnese’s cottage, was a triumphal arch, with uprights of scaffolding and wooden poles across the centre, hung with straw and moss and decorated with green boughs of butchers’ broom and holly, with their bright red berries. The west front of the church was hung with coloured cloths, and blankets and sheets dangled below every window, with streamers improvised from babies’ swaddling bands. All the poor necessities of life that could make some show of being festive decorations had been called into service.

At about three in the afternoon, when the Cardinal was due to arrive, the villagers who were still in their houses – old men, women and children for the most part – also went out to meet him, some in orderly procession, some in a confused throng. At their head was Don Abbondio, a gloomy figure in the middle of all the rejoicing, because of the noise that deafened him and the surging crowd that made him feel giddy, as he kept on remarking – and also because of his secret terror that the women might say something about Lucia’s wedding day, and he might have to render an account of his own conduct.

Then they caught sight of the Cardinal, or rather of the crowd amid which he was riding in his litter, with his suite around him. All that could be seen of his party was something borne high in the air, well above the heads of the people – the top of the cross carried by the chaplain, who was riding a mule. The people with Don Abbondio now surged forward to mingle with the other crowd.

‘Not so fast!’ cried the curé three or four times, and ‘Keep in file!’ and ‘What are you thinking of?’

Then he turned back, very disgruntled, muttering the words ‘What a muddle! What pandemonium!’ over and over again. He went into the church, which was still empty, and waited there.

The Cardinal made his way forward, blessing the crowd with his hand, while they blessed him with their voices. His suite struggled to get him a little breathing space. As this was Lucia’s village, the inhabitants wanted to do something special for the Archbishop; but this was not easy, because people always did the utmost they could in his honour wherever he went. At the very beginning of his time as Archbishop, during his first formal entry into the cathedral, the crowd had thronged in on him with such force that his life had been in danger. Certain noblemen who were near at hand had drawn their swords to frighten the mob into holding back. So disordered and violent was life in those days, that even demonstrations of good will towards a bishop in his own cathedral – and even attempts to moderate those demonstrations – could lead to something very close to murder. And the protection of the nobles’ swords might not have been enough, if Clerici and Picozzi, the Master of Ceremonies and his assistant, who were two stout-hearted and stout-limbed young priests, had not lifted the Archbishop in their arms and carried him bodily from the cathedral door to the great altar. From then on, throughout the episcopal visitations that he had to make, his first entry into every church was seriously to be reckoned among the labours of his office, and sometimes among its dangers.

So he made his way into this church too, as best he could. He went up to the altar, and stood in prayer for a little, and then gave the people a short talk, as was his habit. He spoke of his love for them, of his care for their salvation, and of the way in which they should prepare for the ceremonies of the following day. Then he withdrew to the house of the parish priest, and asked him, in the course of conversation, what he knew about Renzo. Don Abbondio replied that he was a rather hasty young man, and inclined to be obstinate and quick-tempered. But when pressed with more detailed and precise questions, he could only reply that Renzo was a good citizen, and that he too, could not imagine how the young fellow could have got involved in all the deeds of darkness in Milan that had been attributed to him.

‘And the girl then,’ went on the Cardinal. ‘Do you think it is safe, now, for her to come back and live in her own home?’

‘For the moment’, said Don Abbondio, ‘she can come and stay here just as she pleases. For the moment, yes; but,’ he added with a sigh, ‘it wouldn’t be any good in the long run, unless Your Grace were always here, or at least always near at hand.’

‘The Lord is always near at hand,’ said the Cardinal. ‘But I will think of a safe place for her anyway.’ And he gave orders that the litter should be sent off, with an escort, early the following day, to fetch the two women.

Don Abbondio went out very pleased that the Cardinal had spoken to him about Lucia and Renzo without asking for an explanation of his refusal to marry them. ‘So he doesn’t know about it!’ thought the priest. ‘Wonder of wonders, the mother must have kept her mouth shut! It’s true that she’ll be seeing him again; but I’ll have another word with her first; I certainly will!’ The poor man had no idea that Federigo Borromeo had kept off the subject for the moment only because he intended to go into it thoroughly at a more convenient time, and to hear what the priest had to say before passing judgement.

But the good prelate’s concern to find a safe place for Lucia was no longer needed. After he had left her, various things had happened, of which we must now give an account.

During the few days they spent in the hospitable cottage of the tailor, the two women took up their normal way of life again, as far as they could. At the very beginning, Lucia had asked for some work to do, and settled down, as she had in the convent, sewing all day in a little room where no one could see her. Agnese went out some of the time, and some of the time she sat and worked with her daughter. Their talk was affectionate, and all the sadder for that – for both of them had made up their minds to the necessity of a separation. The lamb could hardly return to a fold so near the den of the wolf … But when and how would that separation ever end? The future was dark and confused – for one of them especially.

Agnese trotted out a series of cheerful suggestions. Renzo, after all, unless something had happened to him, must soon let Lucia have some news of himself. If he had found work and a place to live, if he were true to his promise – and there could be no doubt about that – why shouldn’t they join him later on?

She spoke again and again of these hopes to her daughter. I cannot say whether Lucia was more oppressed by the pain of hearing Agnese’s words, or by the embarrassment of answering them. She had never disclosed her great secret to anybody. Though distressed by the thought of employing a subterfuge with so good a mother – and not for the first time either – she was irresistibly constrained to silence by feelings of modesty and by the various fears which we mentioned before; and so she went on from one day to the next without saying anything. Her plans were very different from those of her mother; or, more accurately, she had no plans at all. She had abandoned herself to the care of Providence. So she tried to let the subject drop, or to turn the conversation aside to a different one. Or she would say, in general terms, that she had no other hope or desire left in this world except that of an early reunion with her mother. More often than not, her tears came at the right moment to interrupt their talk.

‘Do you know why everything looks so black to you?’ said Agnese. ‘It’s because you’ve had such a bad time that you can’t imagine things taking a turn for the better. But you must leave everything to Heaven, and if … just you wait until a glimmer of hope appears, only a glimmer, and we’ll see how you feel then!’

Lucia kissed her mother, and wept.

Meanwhile a great friendship had suddenly sprung up between the two women and their hosts – and where should friendship spring up, if not between the givers and the receivers of a kindness, if they are all good people? Agnese, in particular, was always chatting to her hostess. The tailor entertained them with stories and moral disquisitions, especially at dinner-time, when he always had something interesting to tell them about Bovo d’Antona or about the holy fathers in the desert.

Not far from that little village was the country residence of a distinguished couple, who were there at the time on holiday. Our anonymous author tells us that they were called Don Ferrante and Donna Prassede; but he withholds their surname, in his usual way.

Donna Prassede was an old lady with a great inclination towards doing good – certainly the worthiest of all occupations to which a man can devote himself, but still an occupation in which it is possible to take a wrong turning, like any other. To do good, we have to be able to recognize it; and we have to identify it, like everything else in this world, in the midst of our passions, by means of our powers of judgement, and with the help of our ideas, which are not always very firmly based. In the matter of ideas Donna Prassede followed the policy we are told we should follow with our friends – she had only a few, but she was very strongly attached to them. Among the few she had were unfortunately a number of shaky ones, to which she was if anything more attached than the others. So it sometimes happened that she took on a ‘good cause’ which was really nothing of the kind; or made use of means which could all too easily frustrate her ends. Sometimes she thought that certain methods were permissible when they were really quite the contrary, from a muddled idea that those who do more than their duty are thereby entitled to exceed their rights. Sometimes she would miss the realities of a given situation, or see in it other things which were not really there; and other similar mishaps often befell her. These are things that can happen to anyone, and do happen sometimes to the best of us; but they came Donna Prassede’s way much too often – sometimes all of them at once.

When she heard about Lucia’s strange adventure, and all the other things that people were saying about the girl at that time, Donna Prassede felt curious to see her. So she sent off a carriage, with an old admirer of hers, to fetch Lucia and her mother. The girl shrugged her shoulders, and asked the tailor, who brought her the message, to make some excuse so that she need not go. As long as such requests had come from ordinary folk who were trying to make the acquaintance of the miracle girl, the tailor had been glad to do this for her; but in the present case he felt that refusal would almost amount to rebellion. He gave voice to all sorts of protests, exclamations and arguments. You couldn’t do that sort of thing, he said; and it was an important family; and you mustn’t say no to the gentry; and it could be the making of their fortunes; and Donna Prassede was a saint, apart from everything else. He said so much, in fact, that Lucia had to give in; all the more so because Agnese kept backing up the tailor’s arguments by saying: ‘That’s right! That’s right!’

When they were shown into the lady’s presence, she greeted them warmly, with many congratulations on Lucia’s escape. She asked them questions, and gave them advice – all with a certain air of innate superiority, which however was offset with so many expressions of humility, tempered with so much affectionate concern, tinged with such piety, that Agnese very soon began to feel less oppressed by the sensations of awe which had afflicted her to begin with in that noble presence, and before long Lucia felt the same relief. In fact both of them found a certain charm in the lady’s manner. And, to cut a long story short, when Donna Prassede heard that the Cardinal had undertaken to find a place of safety for Lucia, she was moved by the desire to second his good resolution, and at the same time to anticipate it. So she expressed herself as willing to take Lucia into her own household, where, without being given any specific duties, she could help the other women as and when she pleased. And she said that she would see about informing the Cardinal of what had happened.

Apart from the obvious good that must result from such an action, Donna Prassede could see, and resolved to grasp, a chance to do good in another respect, which was even more important in her eyes – to redirect the thoughts of a disordered mind, and lead back into the paths of righteousness a fellow-creature who badly needed such guidance. From the very first time that she had heard about Lucia, she had been convinced that a girl who could promise her hand to a good-for-nothing, seditious gallows-bird like that must have some taint, some secret defect about her. Birds of a feather … And when she saw Lucia she felt sure that she was right.

Not that she didn’t look like a good girl at heart, as they say; but there was plenty of scope for criticism. Her way of keeping her little head bent forward, with her chin pressed against the hollow of her throat, her way of not answering you when you spoke to her, or answering very briefly, as if against her will … all that could be taken as indicating modesty, but it certainly showed a good deal of obstinacy too. It was easy to guess that that little head was full of its own wilful ideas. And then that continual blushing, and those sighs that she always seemed to be holding back. And a pair of great eyes finally, which Donna Prassede didn’t like the look of at all. She was quite sure – as sure as if she had heard it on good and sufficient authority – that all Lucia’s misfortunes were a judgement on her for her friendship with that ne’er-do-well, and a sign from heaven that she ought to be separated from him for good. Such being the case, she decided to do all she could to help the good work.

For Donna Prassede, as she often explained both to others and to herself, put all her efforts into seconding the will of Heaven; but she often made the serious mistake of confusing her own whimsies with the divine intent.

She was careful not to give any outward indication of her second objective. One of her maxims was that, if you want to do good to people, the most important thing, in many cases, is not to tell them what you have in mind.

Mother and daughter looked at one another. Given the sad necessity of parting from each other, they both felt that the lady’s offer should be accepted, if only because her estate was so near to their own village – which meant that, at the very worst, they would be in the same neighbourhood and able to see each other again when holiday time came round next year. They read the decision in each other’s eyes, and both turned towards Donna Prassede to thank her in tones of grateful acceptance. She repeated her kind assurances and promises, and said that she would send them a letter for the Cardinal at once.

When Lucia and Agnese had left, she got Don Ferrante to draw up the letter for her – he was a literary man, as we shall see, and she made use of him as a secretary on important occasions, such as the present one. So Don Ferrante brought all his learning to bear; and when he handed the draft over to his spouse he warmly recommended the spelling to her special attention. For spelling was one of the many things he had studied, and also one of the few matters in which his word carried any weight in that house. Donna Prassede copied it out very carefully indeed, and sent the letter off to the tailor’s house. This was two or three days before the Cardinal was to send the litter to fetch the two women home to their own village.

In due course they made the journey, and got out at Don Abbondio’s house, where the Cardinal was. Orders had been given to let them straight in. The chaplain was the first person to see them, and he obeyed the instruction, delaying them only long enough for a quick word about the ceremony to observe with the Cardinal, and the correct titles to give him. He used to do this whenever he could manage it without the Cardinal finding out. It was a constant torment to the poor chaplain to see how badly organized these things were in Federigo Borromeo’s household.

‘It’s all the blessed man’s own fault,’ he would say to other members of the suite, ‘being too kind and too familiar with everybody.’ And he would go on to tell them how he had more than once heard, with his own ears, people say things like ‘Yes, sir,’ and No, sir,’ to His Grace.

At that moment the Cardinal was talking to Don Abbondio about parish matters, which meant that the curé did not have a chance to add his own word of advice to the two women, as he would have liked to do. As he came out, he passed them on their way in, and could only give them a look, which was meant to convey that he was pleased with their behaviour so far, and that they should be good people and continue to keep their mouths shut.

The Cardinal greeted them warmly, and they bowed to him; and then Agnese took the letter from her bosom and gave it to him, saying,

‘This is from Donna Prassede, who says that she knows Your Grace very well – as of course all the nobility know each other. And if you’ll read it, Your Grace, you’ll see what it’s about.’

‘Good!’ said Federigo, when he had finished reading, and had extracted the essence of meaning from the flowers of Don Ferrante’s eloquence. He knew that household well enough to be sure that the intentions with which Lucia was invited there must be good, and that she would be safe from the violence and the wiles of her persecutor as long as she stayed there. What he thought about Donna Prassede and her ideas we cannot exactly say. She probably was not the person he would have chosen for the purpose; but, as we have said or implied before, it was not his habit to upset other people’s arrangements in order to rearrange matters better himself.

‘Accept this separation, and the uncertainty of your present position with peaceful hearts,’ he went on after a pause. ‘Have faith that it will soon be over, and that the Lord will guide your affairs towards the end he seems to have planned for them. But be sure that, whatever his will may be, that will be the best for you.’ He gave a few more words of loving counsel to Lucia, and a few more words of comfort to both of them; and then he blessed them and let them go.

As soon as they were outside, a swarm of friends crowded round them (for the whole population, we may say, was waiting for them), and accompanied them to their house, as if in triumph. All the women vied with each other in cries of congratulation, sympathy or inquiry; all of them were loud in their regrets when they heard that Lucia was leaving the next day. The men vied with one another in offers of service. Every one of them wanted to do guard duty outside the cottage that night. This prompted our anonymous author to coin a proverb.

‘The best time to find plenty of willing helpers,’ he says, ‘is when you don’t need them.’

All these greetings confused and bewildered Lucia – Agnese was not so easily put out of her stride – but they did Lucia more good than harm all the same, by distracting her to some extent from the thoughts and memories which came back to her all too readily, despite the bustle, at the sight of that door, those little rooms and all the cottage contained.

Then the bell rang to announce that the service was about to begin, and everyone moved off towards the church – another triumphal procession for the two women.

When the service was over, Don Abbondio hurried home to make sure that Perpetua had made the best possible arrangements for dinner. Then he was summoned by the Cardinal. He immediately answered the call of his mighty guest, who waited until he had come quite close, and then said ‘Father Abbondio’ – in a tone which indicated clearly enough that this was the beginning of a long and serious conversation – ‘Father Abbondio – tell me about this poor girl and her bridegroom. Why did you not join them in marriage?’

‘So they did spill the beans this morning after all!’ thought Don Abbondio.

‘Your Grace must have heard about all the confusion that arose in that matter,’ he stammered. ‘It was such a muddle that even now it’s hard to tell exactly what happened – as Your Grace can see from the fact that the girl is here, after so many extraordinary events that it seems like a miracle, while the young man, after another series of extraordinary events, has vanished, and no one knows where he is.’

‘I am asking you’, said the Cardinal, ‘whether it is true that you, before any of those events had taken place, refused to marry this young couple, when requested to do so on the day arranged for the ceremony, and, if so, for what reason?’

‘Well … if Your Most Illustrious Grace only knew … the threats … the terrible orders I’ve had not to talk about this …’ and he stopped there without completing his sentence, in a way which respectfully suggested that it would be indiscreet to inquire further into the matter.

‘Indeed!’ said the Cardinal, with an unusual sternness in his voice and manner. ‘Kindly remember that it is your bishop who is putting this question to you, as part of his duty, and so that you may clear yourself … the question why you did not perform a task which, in the ordinary course of events, it was your duty to perform.’

‘Your Grace,’ said Don Abbondio, shrinking visibly, ‘I did not mean that … I just thought that, as these are complicated matters, that happened long ago, about which nothing can now be done, there was no point in going into them again. But of course … of course … I know that Your Grace would never betray a poor priest like myself. Because you can see for yourself, Your Grace – you can’t be everywhere all the time, and I shall be unprotected here when you go away … But if you order me to tell you the whole story, I will.’

‘Tell me the whole story. My dearest wish is to find you free from guilt.’

Then Don Abbondio began to tell the whole unhappy tale; but he left out the name of the principal actor, saying only ‘a certain great lord’. Thus he paid prudence what little tribute he could in those difficult circumstances.

‘And did you have no other reason?’ asked the Cardinal, when Don Abbondio had finished.

‘Perhaps I haven’t made myself clear,’ said the priest. ‘They threatened me with death, if I married that couple!’

‘And does that seem to you to be a sufficient reason to neglect a clearly defined duty?’

‘I have always tried to carry out my duty, even to my own serious disadvantage. But when life itself is at stake …’

‘And when you offered your service to the Church, to take up that ministry which you now exercise,’ said Federigo Borromeo, in yet sterner accents, ‘did the Church guarantee your life? Did she tell you that the duties of the ministry had no difficulties attached to them, and no dangers? Did she say that duty ends where dangers begin? Or did she tell you the very opposite of all this? Were you not warned that you were sent forth as a lamb among wolves? Did you not know that there were violent men abroad, who might be displeased by the works that you would be called upon to perform? Did he whose doctrine and example we follow, in imitation of whom we call ourselves and let others call us shepherds – did he, when he came down to this world to play the shepherd’s part, make it a condition that his life should be saved? And to save your life, or rather to prolong it for a little space upon this earth, at the cost of all charity, all duty, what need was there of holy oil, of the laying on of hands, of the special grace of the priesthood? This world is quite capable of inspiring such virtues and of teaching such doctrines …But what am I saying? Shame on such thoughts! The world itself rejects them! For this world has its own laws, which prescribe evil instead of good; it has its own gospel, which is a gospel of pride and hatred; and it will not accept a man’s wish to save his life as an excuse for breaking its odious commandments. It will not tolerate that excuse; and it makes sure that its views are respected in this matter. What then of us, who are the children and the preachers of the divine promise? What would become of the Church, if your views were shared by all your brothers in the ministry? Where would the Church be now, if she had adopted those doctrines when she first appeared in the world?’

Don Abbondio hung his head. As he listened to the Cardinal’s words, his soul was transported, like a chick in the talons of a hawk, to an unknown region, to a level whose air he had never breathed before. But he realized that he must make some reply.

‘Your most noble Grace,’ he said, with an air of forced submission, ‘I can see I must be wrong. If a man’s own life is to count for nothing, I don’t know what to say. But when you have to deal with people like that – people who have power in their hands and who won’t see reason – even if one wanted to be a hero, I don’t know what would be gained by it. When you quarrel with a man like that noble I mentioned, there’s no hope of victory, nor even of coming to terms.’

‘But do you not know that to suffer for the sake of justice is victory, for us? If you do not know that, what do you preach? What instruction can you give? What good news do you proclaim to the poor? Who has ever suggested to you that you should meet force with force? You will never be asked if you have succeeded in compelling men of power to remain in the path of duty – that is neither within your mission nor within your means. But you will be asked, one day, whether you have at all times used the resources that were in your hand to perform the duties that were prescribed to you – even when men of power had the temerity to forbid you to do so.’

These saints have their oddities, like the rest of us – thought Don Abbondio. What it boils down to is that he cares more about the love that two young people have for each other than about the life of an unfortunate priest.

As far as the curé was concerned, he would have been delighted to let the conversation end there; but at every pause he could see the Cardinal remaining in the attitude of one expecting an answer – a confession, perhaps, or an apology; a reply of some kind, in any case.

‘I can only repeat, Your Grace,’ he said, ‘that I must be wrong … But courage isn’t a thing that a man can give himself if he hasn’t got it.’

‘Then I could ask you why you ever took on a ministry which demands that you should struggle against the world and its passions. But I would rather ask you a different question. Since in this ministry, however you came to enter it, courage is necessary for the fulfilment of your duties, how have you failed to reflect that there is one who will infallibly give you courage when you ask him for it? Do you believe that all the millions of martyrs who died for our faith had natural courage, or that they had no natural concern for their lives? All those young people who were just beginning to taste the pleasure of life; all those old men who had grown used to complaining that their life was approaching its end; all those maidens, wives, mothers …? Yet they all had courage, for courage was necessary, and they had faith. Knowing your weakness, and knowing your duties, did you never think to prepare yourself for the difficult times that might lie ahead – that did in fact lie ahead of you? Why! if through all your years of pastoral duty you have loved your flock – as you surely must have done – if you have devoted all your care and all your heart to them and found all your pleasure in them, your courage should not have failed you in the hour of need. For love casteth out fear. And so if you loved those who are entrusted to your spiritual care, those whom you call your children, and found that two of them were being threatened, together with yourself – then while the weakness of the flesh made you tremble for your safety, the spirit of charity must have made you tremble for them. You must have felt humiliated by that first fear, since it came from your own weakness; you must have implored Heaven to grant you the strength to conquer it and cast it out, as a temptation. But what of the holy and noble fear for the others, for your children? You must have listened to that fear; it must have given you no peace, it must have stirred you up and compelled you to think what could be done to overcome the peril which hung over their heads … But what effect did those fears, that love, have on you? What did you do for your children? What thoughts passed through your mind?’

He fell silent, in the attitude of one expecting a reply.