Signa, by Ouida

Chapter 19.

IN a warm cloudless morning, with the scent of wild flowers upon the wind, when the summer had drawn near, and the world was filled with life and light, they brought Bruno out into the public place of Rome to meet his death.

He was quite silent. He had been always silent.

When the sun smote his eyes, and the wind blew on his face, he shivered a little, that was all.

“It was all of no use,” he muttered. “It was all of no use.”

He mounted the scaffold with a firm step. He was unconscious what he did, but courage remained an instinct with him.

Priests could do naught for him. He repelled them. He had no remorse.

“I did what I could,” he said in his heart. “But it was all of no use — of no use.”

He looked a moment at the blue sky — at the fair sailing clouds — at the hills which rose between him and his old home — then he surrendered himself.

They bared his throat.

“Pray for your soul,” said some voice in his ear.

He looked straight upward at the sun.

“Let my soul burn for ever!” he said. “Save the boy’s.”

That was his prayer.

Then he bowed his head, and knelt.

The axe fell.

They flung his body in a ditch, and threw the quicklime on it, and the heavy earth.

That was the end.

The hills lie quiet and know no change; the winds wander amongst the white arbutus‐bells and shake the odours from the clustering herbs; the stone‐pines scent the storm; the plain out‐ spreads its golden glory to the morning light; the sweet chimes ring; the days glide on; the splendours of the sunsets burn across the sky, and make the mountains as the jewelled thrones of gods.

Signa, hoary and old, stands there unchanged; beholding the sun shine alike on the just and on the unjust.

Why not?


Signa can count her age by many centuries. Before the Latins were, she knew Etruria; but many as be her memories, she remembers no other thing than this, there is no justice that she knows of anywhere. Signa is wise. She lets this world go by; and sleeps.


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The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:58