Barnabo (bahr-NAH-boh), a young forester and the only one of his guard not called by a last name. Although proud and somewhat quick-tempered, Barnabo is also sensitive and considerate, as demonstrated by his pretense of allowing another forester (Pietro Molo) to win a fight rather than be humiliated. Later, he stops to help a wounded crow, not having the heart to kill it, unlike his comrades, who kill and pluck crows to be cooked for dinner. Barnabo is disgraced and his career ruined when cowardice overcomes him and he is unable to help his fellow foresters in a battle with the brigands. His only solace in exile is his special relationship with the crow that he rescued shortly before the battle. When Barnabo does have a chance to redeem himself many years later, he finds himself once again unable to kill, though for a different reason: It is not cowardice but compassion that makes Barnabo allow the brigands to escape.
Giovanni Berton, another young forester and Barnabo’s friend. the son of a carpenter, Berton is fascinated by the mountains and can spend hours merely watching them. It is he who sees the smoke of the brigands in the mountains and convinces Barnabo to join him in an expedition in search of the bandits. Berton covers up for Barnabo when Barnabo is accused of cowardice, saying that Barnabo was not near the scene of the battle. Many years later, he...
(The entire section is 439 words.)