"On the first symptom of fever, I will shoot you like a dog. Throw over me a curse which will kill me instantly, or make your will. Farewell!"
Having thus warned him, I returned to my royal palace. Early on the following Monday, the papa called on me. I had a slight headache; he enquired after my health, and when I told him that my head felt rather heavy, he made me laugh by the air of anxiety with which he assured me that it could be caused by nothing else than the heavy atmosphere of the island of Casopo.
Three days after his visit, the advanced sentinel gave the war-cry. The lieutenant went out to reconnoitre, and after a short absence he gave me notice that the long boat of an armed vessel had just landed an officer. Danger was at hand.
I go out myself, I call my men to arms, and, advancing a few steps, I see an officer, accompanied by a guide, who was walking towards my dwelling. As he was alone, I had nothing to fear. I return to my room, giving orders to my lieutenant to receive him with all military honours and to introduce him. Then, girding my sword, I wait for my visitor.
In a few minutes, Adjutant Minolto, the same who had brought me the order to put myself under arrest, makes his appearance.
"You are alone," I say to him, "and therefore you come as a friend. Let us embrace."
"I must come as a friend, for, as an enemy, I should not have enough men. But what I see seems a dream."
"Take a seat, and dine with me. I will treat you splendidly."
"Most willingly, and after dinner we will leave the island together."
"You may go alone, if you like; but I will not leave this place until I have the certainty, not only that I shall not be sent to the 'bastarda', but also that I shall have every satisfaction from the knave whom the general ought to send to the galleys."
"Be reasonable, and come with me of your own accord. My orders are to take you by force, but as I have not enough men to do so, I shall make my report, and the general will, of course, send a force sufficient to arrest you."
"Never; I will not be taken alive."
"You must be mad; believe me, you are in the wrong. You have disobeyed the order I brought you to go to the 'bastarda; in that you have acted wrongly, and in that alone, for in every other respect you were perfectly right, the general himself says so."
"Then I ought to have put myself under arrest?"
"Certainly; obedience is necessary in our profession."
"Would you have obeyed, if you had been in my place ?"
"I cannot and will not tell you what I would have done, but I know that if I had disobeyed orders I should have been guilty of a crime:"
"But if I surrendered now I should be treated like a criminal, and much more severely than if I had obeyed that unjust order."
"I think not. Come with me, and you will know everything."
"What! Go without knowing what fate may be in store for me? Do not expect it. Let us have dinner. If I am guilty of such a dreadful crime that violence must be used against me, I will surrender only to irresistible force. I cannot be worse off, but there may be blood spilled."
"You are mistaken, such conduct would only make you more guilty. But I say like you, let us have dinner. A good meal will very likely render you more disposed to listen to reason."
Our dinner was nearly over, when we heard some noise outside. The lieutenant came in, and informed me that the peasants were gathering in the neighbourhood of my house to defend me, because a rumour had spread through the island that the felucca had been sent with orders to arrest me and take me to Corfu. I told him to undeceive the good fellows, and to send them away, but to give them first a barrel of wine.
The peasants went away satisfied, but, to shew their devotion to me, they all fired their guns.
"It is all very amusing," said the adjutant, "but it will turn out very serious if you let me go away alone, for my duty compels me to give an exact account of all I have witnessed."
"I will follow you, if you will give me your word of honour to land me free in Corfu."
"I have orders to deliver your person to M. Foscari, on board the bastarda."
"Well, you shall not execute your orders this time."
"If you do not obey the commands of the general, his honour will compel him to use violence against you, and of course he can do it. But tell me, what would you do if the general should leave you in this island for the sake of the joke? There is no fear of that, however, and, after the report which I must give, the general will certainly make up his mind to stop the affair without shedding blood."
"Without a fight it will be difficult to arrest me, for with five hundred peasants in such a place as this I would not be afraid of three thousand men."
"One man will prove enough; you will be treated as a leader of rebels. All these peasants may be devoted to you, but they cannot protect you against one man who will shoot you for the sake of earning a few pieces of gold. I can tell you more than that: amongst all those men who surround you there is not one who would not murder you for twenty sequins. Believe me, go with me. Come to enjoy the triumph which is awaiting you in Corfu. You will be courted and applauded. You will narrate yourself all your mad frolics, people will laugh, and at the same time will admire you for having listened to reason the moment I came here. Everybody feels esteem for you, and M. D---- R----- thinks a great deal of you. He praises very highly the command you have shewn over your passion in refraining from thrusting your sword through that insolent fool, in order not to forget the respect you owed to his house. The general himself must esteem you, for he cannot forget what you told him of that knave."