The Lure of the Mask
"I buy the blacking for the signore's boots," gravely.
Hillard saw the twinkle in the black eyes. "I have never," he said truthfully, "asked you to black my boots."
"Penance, signore, penance for my sins; and I am not without gratitude. There was a time when I had rather cut off a hand than black a boot; but all that is changed. We of the Sabine Hills are proud, as the signore knows. We are Romans out there; we despise the cities; and we do not hold out our palms for the traveler's pennies. I am a peasant, but always remember the blood of the Cæsars. Who can say? Besides, I have held a sword for the church. I owe no allegiance to the puny House of Savoy!" There was no twinkle in the black eyes now; there was a ferocious gleam. It died away quickly, however; the squared shoulders drooped, and there was a deprecating shrug. "Pardon, signore; this is far away from the matter of boots. I grow boastful; I am an old man and should know better. But does the signore return to Italy