One single thought pursued

Two hours later, during the warm, clear afternoon, all the neighbouring
harvesters and farm-hands, who had been summoned by La Brevetta, were
assembled together in answer to the invitation. A number of great
straw stacks in the yard gleamed brightly golden in the sun; a flock of
geese, snowy white, with orange-coloured beaks, waddled slowly about,
cackling, and hunting for a place to swim while the smell of manure was
wafted at intervals from the barnyard. All these rustic men, waiting
to drink, were jesting contentedly, sitting upon their curved legs,
deformed by their labours; some of them had round, wrinkled faces
like withered apples, some were mild and patient in expression, some
showed the animation of malice, all possessed the incipient beards of
adolescence, and lounged about in the easy attitudes of youth, wearing
their new clothes with the manifest care of love.

Ciavola and Ristabilito did not keep them waiting long. Holding the box
of candy in his hand, Ristabilito ordered the men to form a circle, and
standing in the centre, he proceeded with grave voice and gestures to
give a brief harangue.

“Good men! None of you know Why Mastro Peppe De Sierri has called you
here….”

The men’s mouths opened in stupid wonder at this unexpected preamble,
and as they listened, their joy in anticipation of the promised wine
changed to an uneasy expectation of something else, they knew not what.
The orator continued:

“But as something unpleasant might happen for which you would reprove
me, I will tell you what is the matter before making any experiment.”

His listeners stared questioningly at each other with a look of
stupidity, then turned their gaze upon the curious and mysterious box
which the speaker held in his hands. One of them, when Ristabilito
paused to notice the effect of his words, exclaimed impatiently:

“Well, what is it?”

“I will tell you immediately, my good men. Last night there was stolen
from Mastro Peppe a beautiful pig, which was all ready for salting. Who
the thief is we do not know, but certainly he must be found among you
people, for nobody came from India to steal the pig from Mastro Peppe!”

Whether it was the playful effect of the strong argument about India,
or whether it was the heat of the bright sun cannot be determined, but
at any rate, La Brevetta began to sneeze. The peasants moved back,
the flock of geese ran in all directions, terrified, and the seven
consecutive sneezes resounded loudly in the air, disturbing the rural
quiet. An uproar of merriment seized the crowd at the great noise.
After they had again recovered their composure, Ristabilito went on
gravely, as before:

“In order to discover the thief, Mastro Peppe has planned to give you
certain good candies to eat, and some of his old Montepulciano wine
to drink, which will be tapped for this purpose today. But I must tell
you something. The thief, as soon as he bites the candy, will feel his
mouth so drawn up by the bitterness of the candy that he will have to
spit it out. Now, do you want to try this experiment? Or, is the thief,
in order not to be found out in such a manner, ready to confess now?
Tell me, what do you want to do?”

“We wish to eat and drink!” answered the crowd in a chorus, while an
excited motion ran through the throng, each man showing an expression
of curiosity and delight at the portentous demonstration about to be
made.

Ciavola said:

“You must stand in a row for this experiment. Now, one of you is to be
singled out.”

When they were all thus formed in a line, he took up the flask of wine
and one of the glasses, ready to pour it. Ristabilito placed himself
at one end of the line, and began slowly to distribute the candy,
which cracked under the strong teeth of the peasants and instantly
disappeared. When he reached Mastro Peppe, he took out one of the
canine candies, which had been marked, and handed it to him, without in
any way arousing suspicion by his manner.

Mastro Peppe, who had been watching with wide open eyes to detect the
thief, thrust the candy quickly in his mouth, with almost gluttonous
eagerness, and began to chew it up. Suddenly his jaw bones rose through
his cheeks towards his eyes, the corners of his mouth twisted upwards,
and his temples wrinkled, the skin of his nose drew up, his chin
became contorted, and all his features took on a comic and involuntary
expression of horror, a visible shiver passed down his back, the
bitterness of the aloes on his tongue was beyond endurance, his stomach
revolted so that he was unable to swallow the dose, and the unhappy man
was forced to spit it from his mouth.

“Oho, Mastro Peppe! What in the dickens are you doing?” cried out
Tulespre dei Passeri, a greenish, hairy old goat-shepherd,—green as
a swamp-turtle. Hearing his voice, Ristabilito turned around from his
work of distributing the candies. Seeing La Brevetta’s contortions, he
said in a benevolent voice:

“Well! Perhaps the candy I gave you is too sweet. Here is another one,
try this, Peppe,” and with his two fingers, he tossed into Peppe’s open
mouth the other canine pill.

The poor man took it, and feeling the sharp, malignant eyes of the
goat-herder fixed upon him, he made a supreme effort to endure the
bitterness. He neither bit nor swallowed it, but let it stay in his
mouth, with his tongue pressed motionless against his teeth. But in the
heat and dampness of his mouth, the aloes began to dissolve, and he
could not long endure the taste; his mouth began to twist as before,
his nose was filled with tears, the big drops ran down his cheeks,
springing from his eyes like uncut pearls, and at last, he had to spit
out the mouthful.

“Well, well, Mastro Peppe! What the dickens are you doing now?” again
exclaimed the goat-herder, showing his white and toothless gums as he
spoke. “Well, well! What does this mean?”

The peasants broke the lines, and crowded around La Brevetta, some
jeering and laughing, others with wrathful words. Their pride had been
hurt, and the ready brutality of the rustic people was aroused and
the implacable austerity of their superstitious natures broke out in a
sudden tempest of contumely and reproach.

“Why did you get us to come here to try to lay the blame of this thing
on one of us? So this is the kind of sorcery you have gotten up? It
was intended to fool us! And why? You calculated wrongly, you fool!
you liar! you ill-bred fool! you rascal! You wanted to deceive us, you
fool! you thief! you liar! You deserve to have every bone in your body
broken, you scoundrel! you deceiver!”

Having broken the wine flasks and all the glasses, they dispersed,
shouting back their last insults through the poplar grove.

Ciavola, Ristabilito, the geese, and La Brevetta were left alone in the
yard. The latter, filled with shame, rage, and confusion, his tongue
still biting from the acridness of the aloes, was unable to speak a
word. Ristabilito stood looking at him pitilessly, tapping the ground
with his toe as he stood supported on his heels, and shaking his head
sarcastically, then he broke out with an insinuating sneer:

“Ha! ha! ha! ha! Good, good, La Brevetta! Now, tell us how much you got
for the pig. Did you get ten ducats?”

The great sandy square scintillated as if spread with powdered pumice
stone. All of the houses around it, whitened with plaster, seemed
red hot like the walls of an immense furnace whose fire was about to
die out. In the distance, the pilasters of the church reflected the
radiation of the clouds and became red as granite, the Windows flashed
as if they might contain an internal conflagration; the sacred images
possessed personalities alive with colour; the entire structure,
beneath the splendour of this meteoric twilight, assumed a more lofty
power of dominion over the houses of Radusani.

There moved from the streets to the square groups of men and women,
vociferating and gesticulating. In the souls of all, superstitious
terror was rapidly becoming intense; in all of those uncultivated
imaginations a thousand terrible images of divine chastisement arose;
comments, passionate contentions, lamentable conjurations, disconnected
tales, prayers, cries mingled with the ominous rumbling of an imminent
hurricane.

Already for many days that bloody redness had lingered in the sky after
the sunset, had invaded the tranquillity of the night, illuminated
tragically the slumber of the fields, aroused the howls of the dogs.

“Giacobbe! Giacobbe!” cried several while waving their arms who
previous to this time had spoken in low voices, before the church,
crowded around a pilaster of the vestibule. “Giacobbe!”

There issued from the main door and approached the summoners a long and
lean man, who seemed ill with a hectic fever, was bald upon the top of
his head, and crowned at the temples and neck with long reddish hair.

His small, hollow eyes, animated as if from the ardour of a deep
passion, converged slightly toward his nose, and were of an uncertain
colour. The lack of the two front teeth of the upper jaw gave to his
mouth as he spoke, and to the movements of his sharp chin scattered
with hairs, a singular appearance of satyr-like senility. The rest
of his body was a miserable architectural structure of bones badly
concealed by clothes, while on his hands, on the under sides of his
arms and on his breast, his skin was full of azure marks, incisions
made with the point of a pin and powder of indigo, in memory of visits
to sanctuaries, of grace received, of vows taken.

As the fanatic drew near to the group around the pilaster, a medley of
questions arose from these anxious men.

“What then? What had Don Consolo said? Had he made only the arm of
silver appear?”

“And was not the entire bust a better omen? When would Pallura return
with the candles?”

“Were there a hundred pounds of wax? Only a hundred pounds? And when
would the bells begin to sound? What then? What then?”

The clamours increased around Giacobbe; those furthest away drew near
to the church; from all the streets the people overflowed on to the
piazza and filled it.

Giacobbe replied to the interrogators. He spoke in a low voice, as if
he were about to reveal terrible secrets, as if he were the bearer
of prophecies from afar. He had witnessed on high, in the centre of
blood, a threatening hand and then a black veil, and then a sword and a
trumpet….

“Tell us! Tell us!” the others induced him, while watching his face,
seized with a strange greediness to hear marvellous things, while,
in the meantime the fable sped from mouth to mouth throughout the
assembled multitude.

The great vermilion clouds mounted slowly from the horizon to the
zenith, until they finally filled the entire cupola of the heavens. A
vapour as of melted metals seemed to undulate over the roofs of the
houses, and in the descending lustre of the twilight sulphurous and
violent rays blended together with trembling iridescence.

A long streamer more luminous than the rest escaped toward a street
giving on the river front, and there appeared in the distance the
flaming of the water between the long, slender shafts of the poplars;
then came a border of ragged country, where the old Saracenic towers
rose confusedly like islands of stone in the midst of obscurity;
oppressive emanations from the reaped hay filled the atmosphere, which
was at times like an odour of putrefied worms amongst the foliage.
Troops of swallows flew across the sky with shrill-resounding notes,
while going from the banks of the river to the caves. The murmuring
of the multitude was interrupted by the silence of expectation. The
name of Pallura was on all lips, while irate impatience burst out here
and there. Along the path of the river they did not as yet see the
cart appear; they lacked candles and Don Consolo delayed because of
this to expose the relics and make the exorcisms; further, an imminent
peril was threatening. Panic invaded all of this people, massed like
a herd of beasts, no longer daring to lift their eyes to heaven.
From the breasts of the women sobs began to escape, while a supreme
consternation oppressed and stupefied all souls at these sounds of
grief.

At length the bells rang out. As these bronze forms swung at a low
height, the ominous sound of their tolling blanched the faces of all,
and a species of continuous howling filled the air, between strokes.

“Saint Pantaleone! Saint Pantaleone!”

There was an immense simultaneous cry for help from these desperate
souls. All upon their knees, with extended hands, with white faces,
implored, “Saint Pantaleone!”

There appeared at the door of the church, in the midst of the smoke
from two censers, Don Consolo in a shining violet cape embroidered
with gold. He held on high the sacred arm of silver, and exorcised the
air while pronouncing these words in Latin, “_Ut fidelibus tuis aeris
serenitatem concedere digneris. Te rogamus, audi nos._”

The appearance of the relic excited a delirium of tenderness in the
multitude. Tears flowed from all eyes, and behind the clear veil of
tears their eyes saw a miraculous, celestial splendour emanate from the
three fingers held up to bless the multitude. The arm seemed larger in
the kindled atmosphere, the twilight rays produced a dazzling effect
on the precious stones, the balsam of the incense was wafted rapidly to
the devotees.

“_Te rogamus audi nos!_”

But when the arm re-entered and the bells ceased to ring, in the
momentary silence, they heard nearby a tinkling of bells that came from
the road by the river. Then followed a sudden movement of the crowd in
that direction and many said, “It is Pallura with the candles! It is
Pallura who has come! See Pallura!”

The cart arrived, rattling over the gravel, dragged by a heavy grey
mare, on whose back a great brass horn shone like a beautiful half
moon. As Giacobbe and the others ran to meet the wagon the gentle beast
stopped, blowing heavily from his nostrils. Giacobbe, who reached it
first, saw, stretched in the bottom of the cart, the body of Pallura
covered with blood, whereupon he began to howl and waved his arms to
the crowd, shouting, “He is dead! He is dead!”

The sad news passed from mouth to mouth in a flash. The people pressed
around the cart, stretched their necks to see the body, no longer
thought of threats from above, stricken by this new, unexpected
occurrence, invaded by that natural fierce curiosity that men possess
in the presence of blood.

“Is he dead? How did he die?”

Pallura rested supine on the boards, with a large wound in the centre
of his forehead, with an ear lacerated, with rents in his arms, in his
sides, in one thigh. A tepid stream dripped from the hollow of his eyes
down to his chin and neck, while it spotted his shirt, formed black
and shining clots upon his breast, on his leather belt, and even on his
trousers.

Giacobbe remained leaning over the body; all of those around him
waited, a light as of the morning illuminated their perplexed faces;
and, in that moment of silence, from the banks of the river came the
croak of the frogs, and the bats passed and repassed grazing the heads
of the people.

Suddenly Giacobbe standing up, with a cheek stained with blood, cried,
“He is not dead. He still breathes.”

A dull murmur ran through the crowd, and those nearest stretched
themselves to see; the restlessness of those most distant made them
break into shouts. Two women brought a flask of water, another some
strips of linen, while a youth offered a pumpkin full of wine. The
face of the wounded man was bathed, the flow of blood from the forehead
stanched and his head raised.

Then there arose loud voices, demanding the cause of all this. The
hundred pounds of wax were missing; barely a few fragments of candles
remained among the interstices of the boards in the bottom of the cart.

In the midst of the commotion the emotions of the people were kindled
more and more, and became more irritable and belligerent. As an ancient
hereditary hatred for the country of Mascalico, opposite upon the other
bank of the river, was always fermenting, Giacobbe cried venomously in
a hoarse voice, “Maybe the candles are being used for Saint Gonselvo?”

This was like a spark of fire. The spirit of the church awoke suddenly
in that race, grown brutish through so many years of blind and fierce
worship of its one idol. The words of the fanatic sped from mouth to
mouth. And beneath the tragic glow of the twilight this tumultuous
people had the appearance of a tribe of negro mutineers.

The name of the Saint burst from all throats like a war cry. The most
ardent hurled imprecations against the farther side of the river,
while shaking their arms and clenching their fists. Then, all of
those countenances afire with wrath and wrathful thoughts, round and
resolute, whose circles of gold in the ears and thick tufts of hair
on the forehead gave them a strange barbarian aspect, all of those
countenances turned toward the reclining man, and softened with pity.
There was around the cart a pious solicitude shown by the women, who
wished to reanimate the suffering man; many loving hands changed the
strips of linen on the wounds, sprinkled the face with water, placed
the pumpkin of wine to the white lips and made a kind of a pillow
beneath the head.

“Pallura, poor Pallura, why do you not answer?”

He remained motionless, with closed hands, with mouth half open, with
a brown down on his throat and chin, with a sort of beauty of youth
still apparent in his features even though they were strained by the
convulsions of pain. From beneath the binding of his forehead a stream
of blood dropped down upon his temples, while at the angles of his
mouth appeared little bubbles of red foam, and from his throat issued
a species of thick, interrupted hissing. Around him the assistance,
the questions, the feverish glances increased. The mare every so
often shook her head and neighed in the direction of her stable. An
oppression as of an imminent hurricane weighed upon the country.

Then one heard feminine cries in the direction of the square, cries of
the mother, that seemed even louder in the midst of the sudden silence
of the others. An enormous woman, almost suffocated by her flesh,
passed through the crowd, and arrived crying at the cart. As she was
so heavy as to be unable to climb into the cart, she grasped the feet
of her son, with words of love interspersed among her tears, given in
a broken voice, so sharp, and with an expression of grief so terribly
beast like, that a shiver ran through all of the bystanders and all
turned their faces aside.

“Zaccheo! Zaccheo! my heart! my joy!”—the widow cried, over and over
again, while kissing the feet of the wounded one, and drawing him to
her toward the ground. The wounded man stirred, twisted his mouth in
a spasm, opened his eyes wide, but he really could not see, because a
kind of humid film covered his sight. Great tears began to flow from
the corners of his eyelids and to run down upon his cheeks and neck,
his mouth remained twisted, and in the thick hissing of his throat
one perceived a vain effort to speak. They crowded around him. “Speak,
Pallura! Who has wounded you? Who has wounded you? Speak! Speak!”

And beneath the question their wrath raged; their violent desires
intensified, a dull craving for vengeance shook them and that
hereditary hatred boiled up again in the souls of all.

“Speak! Who has wounded you? Tell us about it! Tell us about it!”

The dying man opened his eyes a second time, and as they clasped both
of his hands, perhaps through the warmth of that living contact the
spirit in him revived and his face lighted up. He had upon his lips a
vague murmur, betwixt the foam that rose, suddenly more abundant and
bloody. They did not as yet understand his words. One could hear in the
silence the breathing of the breathless multitude, and all eyes held
within their depths a single flame because all minds awaited a single
word.

“Ma—Ma—Ma—scalico.”

“Mascalico! Mascalico!” howled Giacobbe, who was bending, with strained
ear, to grasp the weak syllables from that dying mouth. An immense
cry greeted this explanation. There was at first a confused rising and
falling as of a tempest in the multitude. Then when one voice raised
above the tumult gave the signal, the multitude disbanded in mad haste.

One single thought pursued those men, one thought that seemed to have
flashed instantaneously into the minds of all: to arm themselves with
something in order to wound. A species of sanguinary fatality settled
upon all consciences beneath the surly splendour of the twilight,
in the midst of the electrifying odours emanating from the panting
country.

Then the phalanxes, armed with scythes, with sickles, with hatchets,
with hoes and with muskets, reunited on the square before the church.

And the idolaters shouted, “Saint Pantaleone!”

Don Consolo, terrified by the turmoil, had fled to the depths of a
stall behind the altar. A handful of fanatics, conducted by Giacobbe,
penetrated the large chapel, forced its gratings of bronze, and arrived
at length in the underground passage where the bust of the Saint was
kept. Three lamps fed with olive oil burned gently in the sacristy
behind a crystal; the Christian idol sparkled with its white head
surrounded by a large solar disc, and the walls were covered over with
the rich gifts.

When the idol, borne upon the shoulders of four Hercules, appeared
presently between the pilasters of the vestibule, and shed rays from
its aureole, a long, breathless passion passed over the expectant
crowd, a noise like a joyous wind beat upon all foreheads. The column
moved. And the enormous head of the Saint oscillated on high, gazing
before it with two empty eyes.

In the heavens now passed at intervals meteors which seemed alive,
while groups of thin clouds seemed to detach themselves from the
heavens, and, while dissolving, floated slowly away. The entire country
of Radusa appeared in the background like a mountain of ashes that
might be concealing a fire, and in front of it the contour of the
country lost itself with an indistinct flash. A great chorus of frogs
disturbed the harmony of the solitude.

On the road by the river Pallura’s cart obstructed progress. It was
empty now, but bore traces of blood in many places. Irate imprecations
exploded suddenly in the silence.

Giacobbe cried, “Let us put the Saint in it!”

The bust was placed on the boards and dragged by human strength to the
ford. The procession, ready for battle, thus crossed the boundary.
Along the files metal lamps were carried, the invaded waters broke
in luminous sprays, and everywhere a red light flamed from the young
poplars in the distance, toward the quadrangular towers. Mascalico
appeared upon a little elevation, asleep in the centre of an olive
orchard.

The dogs barked here and there, with a furious persistency. The column
having issued from the ford, on abandoning the common road, advanced
with rapid steps by a direct path that cut through the fields. The
bust of silver borne anew on rugged shoulders, towered above the heads
of the men amongst the high grain, odorous and starred with living
fireflies.

Suddenly, a shepherd, who rested under a straw shed to guard the grain,
seized by a mad terror at the sight of so many armed men, began to flee
up the coast, screaming as loud as he could, “Help! Help!”

His cries echoed through the olive orchards.

Then it was that the Radusani increased their speed. Among the trunks
of trees, amid the dried reeds, the Saint of silver tottered, gave back
sonorous tinklings at the blows of the trees, became illuminated with
vivid flashes at every hint of a fall. Ten, twelve, twenty shots rained
down in a vibrating flash, one after another upon the group of houses.
One heard creaks, then cries followed by a great clamorous commotion;
several doors opened while others closed, windows fell in fragments and
vases of basil fell shivered on the road. A white smoke rose placidly
in the air, behind the path of the assailants, up to the celestial
incandescence. All blinded, in a belligerent rage, shouted, “To death!
To death!”

A group of idolaters maintained their positions around Saint
Pantaleone. Atrocious vituperations against Saint Gonselvo burst out
amongst the brandished scythes and sickles.

“Thief! Thief! Loafer! The candles!… The candles!”

Other groups besieged the doors of the houses with blows of
hatchets. And, as the doors unhinged shattered and fell, the howling
Pantaleonites burst inside, ready to kill. Half nude women fled to the
corners, imploring pity and, trying to defend themselves from the blows
by grasping the weapons and cutting their fingers, they rolled extended
on the pavement in the midst of heaps of coverings and sheets from
which oozed their flaccid turnip-fed flesh.

Giacobbe, tall, slender, flushed, a bundle of dried bones rendered
formidable by passion, director of the slaughter, stopped everywhere in
order to make a broad, commanding gesture above all heads with his huge
scythe. He walked in the front ranks, fearless, without a hat, in the
name of Saint Pantaleone. More than thirty men followed him. And all
had the confused and stupid sensation of walking in the midst of fire,
upon an oscillating earth, beneath a burning vault that was about to
shake down upon them.

But from all sides defenders began to assemble; the Mascalicesi, strong
and dark as mulattoes, sanguinary, who struck with long unyielding
knives, and tore the stomach and throat, accompanying each blow with
guttural cries. The fray drew little by little toward the church, from
the roofs of two or three houses burst flames, a horde of women and
children escaped precipitately among the olives, seized with panic and
no longer with light in their eyes.

Then among the men, without the handicap of the women’s tears and
laments, the hand-to-hand struggle grew more ferocious. Beneath the
rust-coloured sky the earth was covered with corpses. Vituperations,
choked within the teeth of the slain, resounded, and ever above
the clamour continued the shout of the Radusani, “The candles! The
candles!”

But the entrance of the church was barred by an enormous door of oak
studded with nails. The Mascalicesi defended it from the blows and
hatchets. The Saint of silver, impassive and white, oscillated in
the thick of the fray, still sustained upon the shoulders of the four
Hercules, who, although bleeding from head to foot, refused to give up.
The supreme vow of the attackers was to place the idol on the altar of
the enemy.

Now while the Mascalicesi raged like prodigious lions on the stone
steps, Giacobbe disappeared suddenly and skirted the rear of the
edifice for an undefended opening by which he could penetrate the
sacristy. Finally he discovered an aperture at a slight distance from
the ground, clambered up, remained fixed there, held fast at the hips
by its narrowness, twisted and turned, until at length he succeeded in
forcing his long body through the opening.

The welcome aroma of incense was vanishing in the nocturnal frost of
the house of God. Groping in the dark, guided by the crashing of the
external blows, the man walked toward the door, stumbling over the
chain, and falling on his face and hands.

Radusanian hatchets already resounded upon the hardness of the oak
doors, when he began to force the lock with an iron, breathless,
suffocated by the violent palpitation of anxiety that sapped his
strength, with his eyes blurred by indistinct flashes, with his wounds
aching and emitting a tepid stream which flowed down over his skin.

“Saint Pantaleone! Saint Pantaleone!” shouted outside the hoarse voices
of those who felt the door yielding slowly, while they redoubled their
shouts and the blows of their hatchets. From the other side of the wood
resounded the heavy thud of bodies of those that had been murdered and
the sharp blow of a knife that had pinioned some one against the door,
nailed through the back. And it seemed to Giacobbe that the whole nave
throbbed with the beating of his wild heart.

After a final effort, the door swung open. The Radusani rushed in
headlong with an immense shout of victory, passing over the bodies of
the dead, dragging the Saint of silver to the altar.

An animated oscillation of reflections suddenly illuminated the
obscurity of the nave and made the gold of the candelabra glitter.
And in that glaring splendour, which now and again was intensified by
the burning of the adjacent houses, a second struggle took place. The
entangled bodies rolled upon the bricks, remained in a death grip,
balanced together here and there in their wrathful struggles, howled
and rolled beneath the benches, upon the steps of the chapels and
against the corners of the confessionals. In the symmetrical concave
of this house of God arose that icy sound of the steel that penetrates
the flesh or that grinds through the bones, that single broken groan
of a man wounded in a vital part, that rattle that the framework of the
skull gives forth when crushed with a blow, that roar of him who dreads
to die, that atrocious hilarity of him who has reached the point of
exulting in killing, all of these sounds echoed through this house of
God. And the calm odour of incense arose above the conflict.

The silver idol had not yet reached the glory of the altar, because
the hostile forces, encircling the altar, had prevented it. Giacobbe,
wounded in many places, struck with his scythe, never yielding a palm’s
breadth of the steps which he had been the first to conquer. There
remained but two to support the Saint. The enormous white head rolled
as if drunk over the wrathful pool of blood. The Mascalicesi raged.

Then Saint Pantaleone fell to the pavement, giving a sharp rattle that
stabbed the heart of Giacobbe deeper than any sword could have done.
As the ruddy mower darted over to lift it, a huge demon of a man with a
blow from a sickle stretched the enemy on his spine.

Twice he arose, and two other blows hurled him down again. The blood
inundated his entire face, breast and hands, while on his shoulders
and arms the bones, laid bare by deep wounds, shone out, but still
he persisted in recovering. Maddened by his fierce tenacity of life,
three, four, five ploughmen together struck him furiously in the
stomach, thus disgorging his entrails. The fanatic fell backwards,
struck his neck on the bust of the silver Saint, turned suddenly upon
his stomach with his face pressed against the metal and with his arms
extended before him and his legs contracted under him.

Thus was Saint Pantaleone lost.