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A Village Commune, Vol. II. Ouida, 1839–1908.
page: 28


BEFORE the week was out the trees were all down, and the wood by the mill was a thing of memory alone. Demetrio Pastorini was powerless. He had misunderstood his own rights and the ways of the laws.

When the wood‐cutters and the overseer came on the morrow, he was like one beside himself. He got down his old gun from the shelf, and would have shot the first man that dared approach the boschetto, but his young sons and daughters weeping about him made his nerve and his purpose fail; page: 29 they got the weapon from him, and besought him for their sakes to be patient.

‘Patient!’ he cried to them. ‘Shall we be patient while we are stripped alive as the live lamb is stripped of her skin, she bleeding at every pore? Patient? you are poltroons! You eat the dust! You are no children of my blood. Let me be!’

But they clung about him notwithstanding, and pleaded that better was it to suffer wrong than to do it, and sweeter in heaven’s sight; and so besought him, in the name of Christ and of their own, that he, being a religious man, and one most affectionate, gave way at last, and dropped into his wooden chair and wept, and bore as best he could the sound of crashing axe, of falling trunk, of wrenching wood, of shivering leaf.

page: 30

‘Must the King, who has dominion from sea to sea, over all the land and the greatness of it, must he grudge me my little all?’ he cried in his agony, as he heard the blows of the hatchet on the trees.