Don Bosco et le «Grigio»

Jean Cagliero takes advantage of the calm of Sunday morning, the children of the boarding school being out, to exercise on his dear violin a particularly difficult passage. This fifteen-year-old artist is so much at his business that he barely notices the arrival of Joseph Buzzetti in the room:
"Couldn't you stop your music for a moment?" I have something to tell you.
—What burns? John asks without putting down his bow.
"Finally leave your crincrin and listen a little! I just saw two men enter Don Bosco's room who do not seem safe to me at all.
— How so?
"I don't know, but I feel like there's danger. I can't tell you exactly why, but I think we would do well to open our eyes.
"What do they look like your gentlemen?" Jean finally resumes attentive.
"Certainly not good Catholics. They may be Freemasons, Liberals or Waldensians. You know well that all these people resent Don Bosco, since he entered into a campaign against them with his Catholic Readings. But, not so many questions! Come! Don Bosco may need us.
Jean puts away his violin, the two friends will quickly stand in front of their Father's door, their ears outstretched.
The conversation is nothing to worry about at first. The two visitors praise Jean Bosco:
— Your oratory is a splendid humanitarian work that should be supported. We are immediately ready to give you four thousand lire.
"Four thousand lire? made Don Bosco. A nice sum! Under what conditions, please?
"Oh, it's almost useless to talk about it. Here are the tickets. Take. There will be more! You will only promise us to give up the distribution of your brochures.
"Is that what you were getting at? No. Nothing to do! Take your money back. I don't need it.
The two visitors then knock down the mask of politeness.
"Don't you want to? That is an insult to us. Be aware that you may not come home alive when you don't go out.
"Are you threatening me?" You seem, gentlemen, to have an entirely false idea of the Catholic priest. No one buys me or scares me!
"You will see the consequences of your pride. We will be able to silence you!
"As long as I am alive, I will not be silent. And now please leave.
Don Bosco suddenly opens the door:
"Joseph, drive these gentlemen back, and beware that they do not stumble down the stairs: they are a little angry.
The cronies are leaving, crimson. Don Bosco grabs Jean Cagliero by the ear:
"So, friends, did you listen?"
"This visit didn't tell us anything good and we wanted to be there for a helping hand if needed.
"With these two puppets, I would have gotten away with it on my own.
"Please, Mr. Abbot, be careful. We can expect everything from these fanatics. Please do not go out, when it is dark, without being accompanied.
"I agree to reassure you.

A few days later, at the end of the dinner, two men come to pick up Don Bosco for a dying man: "I'm going!"
But Jean Cagliero holds him by the sleeve and whispers to him:
"Mr. Abbot, remember your promise.
"Oh yes! It's true. Does any of you want to accompany me? Maybe you, Joseph?
— With pleasure!
The young mason takes his cap:
"Are you also coming? he asks Ciglinti and Gravano, two excellent pugilists.

— A little outing? Why not? do they make an air heard.
"Oh, no need for these young men to accompany you," the strangers observe to Don Bosco.
—Why not? It's going to do them good to get some fresh air. They will not bother us.
Don Bosco soon realizes that he has been lured into a trap. Here it is with individuals seated around a dish of roasted chestnuts:
"Ah, Don Bosco," cries one of them, "sit down and taste these chestnuts!
"I think a sick person is waiting for me...
"Oh, it's hardly pressing. Please use yourself.
"Thank you, I'm going out of the table.
— You will not refuse a glass of wine. Drink! the best asti you've ever tasted!
"I never drink between meals.
The adventure becomes more and more shady.
"It's an insult," continues one of the cronies. Take! It's famous!
"Yes, yes, you will drink to our health, braille the whole troop.
"I've already told you that I'll drink nothing now.
"Then we're going to force you to do it!"
Two energizers grab Don Bosco by the shoulders; a third approaches a glass of his mouth.
"No, friends, not that! If you want me to drink, let me go!
"Well, why not right now?"
No sooner had the chenapans let go than Don Bosco pushed them away with a vigorous gesture and opened the door in front of which his companions were on the lookout.
— What's the matter? Joseph Buzzetti asks as he leaps into the room with his classmates. Nothing has been done to you, Mr. Abbot?
"Oh, just a little joke," said one of the attackers, sheepishly. We wanted him to have a drink, but if he doesn't want it, let's not talk about it anymore!
"Are you finally going to lead me to the sick," cries Don Bosco.
— To the sick? Yes, of course.
— Do we accompany you? Ciglinti asks.
"No, wait downstairs!
Don Bosco climbs the stairs. In a poorly lit room a man groans and groans on his bed.
"Well, my friend, do you want to confess?"
"No, not today... I'm too bad... Oh, those pains!...
"Since I'm here...
But shhh! In a jiffy don Bosco snatches the blankets of the false sick, one of the two men who came to pick him up. While the priest insisted on seeing the sick, the scoundrel stuffed himself in bed, all dressed, all booted.
"What an idiocy!" cries Don Bosco, and, grabbing his comedian, with a single gesture he plants him standing.
"I'm sure these bandits wanted to poison me," he told his defenders as he returned. I did well to take you with me. On my own, I might not have been able to overcome these scoundrels. »

This is not the only lookout from which he escapes.
Another time, we come to ask for it, very late, for a sick person. He does not get prayed. Four strong gaillards follow him and come to plant themselves in front of the patient's door; but they intend to turn the key inside.
No sooner had Don Bosco entered than the lamp went out and the chenapans rushed at him with batons. Don Bosco grabs a chair to park. His acolytes do not hesitate for long. With a stroke of the shoulder Jacques blows up the hinges of the door and the four of them rush into the room. In no time they have cleared Don Bosco and bring him back to safety.
— are you injured? Joseph Buzzetti asks.
"It's nothing," replies Don Bosco. The left thumb crushed. The nail will probably come off.
Now his young men do not let go of his eyes. There are always a few nearby as soon as a suspicious visit arrives. In several circumstances they save him from a real peril. Sometimes, however, Don Bosco prefers to go out alone so as not to deprive them of rest; the sky then advises to its protection by an astonishing means.
One evening, as he returns to the oratory, a huge wolf dog with gray hair leaps towards him in the shadows.
"What do you want from me, my brave beast?" Don Bosco asks him, who has never been afraid of a dog. He leans over the animal and caresses its fur. The molosse frolicks around him barking, tries to lick his hands and face, and follows him home.
— What is this animal? ask for a few curious little ones.
"A magnificent beast, isn't it?" We have already made friends.
— What is it called?
"My goodness, he didn't show up. Let's call him "Grigio" — "the Grey" — if you like it.
"Grigio! Yes, it's a beautiful name! Should we go to the kitchen to see if there is something for him? »
Grigio is soon blessed with a magnificent bone, but he reserves it for later and goes into the pre frolic with the jubilant children until dinner time.
"Let's go! Grigio, go away! Don Bosco once again puts his hand around his ears: "Don't forget your bone! »
From that day on Don Bosco still finds him in the lonely streets of Valdocco. Suddenly Grigio emerges from the shadows and does not leave him until the gate of the house. Often he narrowly saves him. He seems to sniff out all the dangers that threaten him.
One evening, at nightfall, Don Bosco is about to go out. The dog, lying in front of the door, leaps and pushes him back: "What takes you, Grigio? Let me pass. Grigio, stubborn, throws himself at him as soon as he tries to take a step towards the street.
Don Bosco resigns himself and turns around. Half an hour later, one of the boys tells him that he saw a few shady individuals on the lookout, well armed, behind a bush. He was even able to overhear their conversation: they were waiting for Don Bosco to attack him.
How does Grigio carry out his duties? We'll see!
One evening again, Don Bosco returning from administering a sick man realizes that a man is following him with a large club. He may accelerate the pace, but the malandrin is always on his heels.
"With one, I'll get away with it," he thinks," when a few sinister individuals come out of a nearby alley to block his way. At the same time his pursuer rushes at him, knocking him up. Don Bosco throws himself aside and administers to him in the pit of the stomach an elbow so masterful that the apache collapses while moaning. The others come to the rescue. Don Bosco is lost when Grigio appears. The mastiff throws himself furiously at the bandits and tumbles to the ground the first two, while the others detach as quickly as possible.
"Well worked, Grigio!" said Don Bosco. It's about time! »
The frightened apaches dodge clopin-clopant. Grigio accompanies Don Bosco to his home.
Another time, on a damp and dark evening in November, two malandrins chase Don Bosco through an alley that runs from the Consolata to the Valdocco. Before he can distance them, a man emerges from the shadow of a porch and throws a blanket over his head. Don Bosco tries to get rid of this hood, but another rushes at him with a long dagger.
"Strike! shouts first. We hold it! »
Grigio pounced, threw him to the ground and immediately thrust his fangs into the arm of the companion ready to strike. He drops his dagger to get out, but Grigio rolls it in the dust. The first one manages to get up, but the dog knocks him over again.
"For heaven's sake, save me from this animal! " pants the unfortunate. You can see that he will devour me!
"What about you?" What did you want to do to me?
"Ah, sir, we will confess everything to you. For poor buggers, a thousand lire is a nice sum!
"Thus, for a thousand lire you were determined to kill a man. That's what you mean, isn't it?
—Yes, yes, yes! But call your dog back!
"Do you promise to leave me alone now?"
"By Our Lady, it is promised!
"So, here, Grigio! You have done your duty. Let them go. Be kind. Approach. Here!
One last disturbing growl again, and the dog comes to lick his friend's hand, while the bandits in bad shape leave tremblingly.

As if he feared arriving too late, Grigio now prowls every night in front of the door of the oratory, accompanies Don Bosco on his outings and brings him back.
One day, after having waited for him unnecessarily for a long time in front of the door of the Marquis Dominique Fassati, Grigio returns, with a low ear, to the oratory. The boys, playing in the snow, greet him with hoots, but unnecessarily try to fire him at supper time.
"Where does Grigio come from?" don Bosco asks at the table.
"We couldn't get him to leave. He doesn't want to leave.
Grigio, meanwhile, sneaks between the tables to Don Bosco, puts his muzzle on his lap and looks at him with a strange look.
"Do you want to eat something, Grigio?" »
Grigio doesn't even sniff out the piece of bread presented to him.
"Oh, little fine ghoul, would you like meat?"
You know that Don Bosco has none. If you don't want that, you just have to leave.
Then, suddenly, Don Bosco is delighted: "Ah, I'm there! You're sad because you didn't meet me today! It's not my fault: the Marquis took me back in his car! »
Grigio then begins to bark happily as if he had understood perfectly and leaves happy.
"It's really curious," says Don Bosco. I have often sought to know where Grigio comes from, to whom he belongs. Impossible to achieve this. It was the good Lord who sent it to me, I believe, to protect and guard me. »
For more than a year, Grigio continued his good offices. The attacks against Don Bosco having then ceased, he disappeared. He was not seen again in Turin.

(Don Bosco, the Apostle of Youth, G. Hünermann)