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Who are you kidding? Who is this guy? And she swoons. How about both treating each other with respect? How about women not sleeping with jerks? How about this is how people should treat each other? There are twenty women here vying for your attention. The women stand at the foot of the U-shaped couch and wait for Kostas to point them where to sit: one beside him, one between us, and one on the other side of me.
Are we talking about dogs here? Let her tease me with them. Let her show me how bad she wants it. How generous he was in past. Its like women should earn him or something? Enough said. More over, through out during the tour he makes her feel special by touching her, caring for her, etc. But she doesn't do it wondering if he will think she likes him. I am too disgusted right now and wondering how a female writer can write shit like this and how females can support and love jerks like this just because they are little less of jerks around them?
Signing off. I want to go botanising. You are a man of science! Who sent you here to collect our plants? Some famous university, I'll be bound. Happy young man! You now see the value of a sound, scientific education. Had you been an utter ignoramus as I am, I wouldn't have asked the ransom of a penny. He rose up and departed; and one of his secretaries led us to a plot of green sward, where a meal had been laid for us. Everything they took will be returned to you.
You have thirty days in which to pay your ransom. Write to your friends without delay, as the king never grants an extension of time. I did not know what to do. Then I thought of John Harris. If he will not intercede for me, I leave myself, dear friend, in your hands. I know you are a man of courage and imagination. You will find a way to get me out of this fix.
Don't you understand? Here you have an opportunity of winning a charming wife and an immense fortune. Close at hand was a stream, which ran through a hole in the rocks, and went tumbling down the precipitous side of the plateau.
I saw that the stretch of green sward between the rocks had been a lake. This suggested to me a way of escape. Simons, very snappishly. I've written to the British Ambassador, and we shall be rescued by the royal troops in two days at the latest. Two days afterwards the king was explaining to me his scheme for transforming brigandage into a peaceful orderly system of taxation, when four shots were fired in the distance. Captain Pericles, whose figure I had often admired at Athens, ran up to Hadgi Stavros, and kissed him.
Guard the camp, and write out the report of our battle. Defeat me if you like, but leave ten of your best troops dead on the field. I am in need of recruits. Look after the three prisoners. Simons saw that the brigands had gone, and the troops had arrived, she was wild with excitement. I told her of the real state of affairs; but she wouldn't believe me, and gave Pericles her money and jewels when asked for them.
In the evening the king returned with his men, and the troops departed. Simons then broke down. Do you remember the letter he was dictating when we arrived? I must explain the position at once to him," said Mrs. Pay Hadgi Stavros; make him give you a receipt. Enclose this in the next letter from Messrs. Simons, as per enclosed receipt. He refused at first to give a receipt. He had never done such a thing. Then I took him on his weak side, and said that perhaps it was more prudent not to give one.
If ever he were captured it might be used against him. This touched him. The ransom of the two ladies was paid, and they were set free. But as Messrs. Simons, as she and Mary Ann departed. Your first plan was impossible with two women, but now you are alone, it is admirable. Come and see us as soon as you get away. I then dammed the stream, and climbed down its empty bed. It was difficult work, as the rocks were wet and the night was very dark.
I was covered with bruises when I reached a platform of rock about ten feet from the bottom of the precipice. Just as I was about to jump down, a white form appeared below, and a savage growl came from it. I had forgotten the pack of fierce dogs, which, as the King of the Mountains had told me, were the best of all his sentries. Happily, I carried my collecting case, and in it was a packet of arsenic which I used for stuffing birds.
I put some of the powder on a piece of bread, and threw the poisoned food to the dog; but arsenic takes a long time to act. In about half an hour's time the creature began to howl in a frightful manner, and it did not expire until daybreak. It also succeeded in arousing the camp, and I was recaptured and brought before the king.
Were I to give way to my feelings I would have you killed. But I will be merciful. You will merely be bastinadoed to prevent you from wandering out of bounds until your ransom is paid. At the third I began to bleed. At the fourth I began to howl. At the tenth I was insensible to pain.
I tried to, but failed. But I would hurt him, though I knew I should die for it. So, with a torrent of invectives, I explained how I tricked him over the ransom of Mrs. Simons and her daughter. You have not suffered enough. Four thousand pounds! It is a fortune. You have stolen my daughter's fortune.
What can I do to you? The red cinders fell about me, and the heat was unsupportable. I dragged myself away on my hands--I could not use my feet--but the ruffian kicked me back. Then he left me for a moment to get some salt and pepper. I remembered that I had put the arsenic in my trousers pocket. With a supreme effort I rose up and scattered the powder over the meat. I was avenged! Suddenly I heard a cry: "The king! Where is the king? Then Hadgi Stavros appeared.
With a cry of anguish he took me gently in his arms, and carried me to the cave among the rocks. But you will soon be well. I once had sixty strokes of the bastinado, and two days afterwards I was dancing the Romaika. It was this ointment that cured me.
What an assassin! If I only had you and your friend, one in each hand! Oh, he won't do it! Will he? It ran: "Hadgi Stavros,--Photini is now on my ship, the Fancy, which carries four guns. She remains a hostage as long as Hermann Schultz remains a prisoner. As you treat my friend, so I will treat your daughter.
She shall pay hair for hair, tooth for tooth, head for head. Answer at once, or I will come and see you. But I must return to Athens at once. Get four of your men to carry me down the mountains in a litter. I remembered the arsenic. He must have eaten some of the meat. I tickled the inside of his throat, and he brought up most of the poison. Soon afterwards the other brigands came up to the enclosure, screaming with pain, and wanted to murder me.
I had cast a spell over their meat, and it was torturing them, they cried. I must be killed at once, and then the spell would be removed. The king commanded them to withdraw. They resisted. He drew his saber, and cut down two of the ringleaders. The rest seized their guns and began to shoot. There were about sixty of them, all suffering, more or less, from the effects of arsenic poisoning. We were only twelve in number, but our men had the steadier aim; and the king fought like a hero, though his hands and feet were swelling painfully.
The fact was that he had eaten some time before his men, and I could not therefore get the poison completely out of his system. But it was the arsenic that saved his life. He had at last to come and lie down beside me. We heard the sound of rapid firing in the distance; and suddenly two men entered our enclosure, with revolvers in each hand, and shot down our defenders with an extraordinary quickness of aim.
They were Harris and Lobster. There has been civil war in the camp. The ointment used by Hadgi Stavros was, as he had said, marvelous; and in two days I could walk as well as ever. I at once called on Mrs. I might get others. But look at my swollen hands. How can I use a sword? No; let some one younger now take my place. But I defy him to equal me in fame or fortune.
And I have not done yet. Oh, there are more ways of making money than one! On the advice of Harris, I at once returned to Hamburg, lest some of the remaining brigands found me out, and take vengeance for the spell I had cast on their meat. But some day I hope to go to London, and call at 31, Cavendish Square. A solicitor's son, he was himself trained in the law, but some adventures in journalism led him finally to the literary life, his first success as a writer of romance being scored with "Rookwood" in From the popularity of the romance it is reasonable to suppose that it fulfilled its author's hopes in this respect, though it must be confessed its history leaves a good deal to be desired.
Here is not the place to discuss the rights and wrongs of Ainsworth's bold liberties in respect to the historical personages he introduces; but there is no doubt that the romance is told with vigour and dramatic movement, and it is an excellent example of the novelist's spirited style of narrative, though, judged on purely literary merits, like his other works, the "Tower of London" will not bear comparison with the masterpieces of Sir Walter Scott in the field of historical romance.
Ainsworth died at Reigate on January 3, For three days had an attempt been made to keep his death secret, so that the proud and ambitious duke might seize the persons of the Princess Mary and the Princess Elizabeth. But the former, warned in time, had escaped the snare; and the Duke of Northumberland, finding further dissimulation useless, boldly proclaimed his daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey, queen. On July 10, , Queen Jane, the wisest and most beautiful woman in the kingdom, though only sixteen years of age, was conducted in state to the Tower, where it was the custom for the monarchs of England to spend the first few days of their reign.
But the crowds who watched her departure from Durham House, in the Strand, were silent and sullen. Her youthful beauty and grace might win an involuntary cry of admiration, but the heart of the people was not hers. They recognised that she was but the tool of her father-in-law, whom, because of his overweening ambition, they hated.
All the pride and pomp of silken banners and cloth of gold could not mask the gloomy presage of the young queen's reign. The very heavens thundered; and owing to the press of boats that surrounded the procession, many small craft were overturned and their occupants thrown into the water. And if further signs of portending evil were wanted, they could be discerned in the uneasy whisperings of those lords of the Privy Council who were present, or in the sinister face of the Spaniard, Simon Renard, ambassador to the Emperor Charles V.
But there was one man at least who did not share the general depression and uneasiness. Cuthbert Cholmondeley, esquire to Lord Guildford Dudley, husband of Queen Jane, found much to interest him in the scene. The reception of her Majesty by Og, Gog, and Magog had already driven away the sense of portending evil from his mind when he caught sight of a girl's face in the crowd.
It was only for a moment that he had sight of it; but it left such a deep impression on his mind that for the rest of the day he burned with impatience to discover who the girl might be. Much had to happen before he could satisfy his curiosity.
At a meeting of the Privy Council the duke compelled the lords, under threat of imprisonment, to sign a proclamation declaring Princess Mary illegitimate. Renard lost no time in turning to his own advantage the bad impression created by these tactics. He at once sent a warning missive to his master, telling him of the plot against the duke's life.
Then, this duty performed, he set out to try and find the girl whose face had so impressed him. From the giant warders he learnt that she was the adopted daughter of Dame Potentia Trusbut, wife of Peter, the pantler of the Tower. A mystery surrounded her birth. Magog, seeing Cuthbert's interest, good-naturedly carried him off with him to the pantler's quarters. Here a gargantuan feast was in progress, to which the three giants did full justice, devouring whole joints and pasties and quaffing vast flagons of wine, to the great delight of the pantler and his wife.
But Cuthbert had no eyes except for Cicely. He was not content until he was by her side and was able to hear her voice. The attraction between them was mutual, and it was not long before they were whispering the first words of love into one another's ears. While all was merriment, Renard and Pembroke made their appearance unobserved.
They had intercepted Cuthbert's letter, and were anxious to satisfy themselves as to the identity of the rash youth who had dared to cross their path. He must not return to the palace. He has supplanted me, but he shall not profit by his good fortune.
Half an hour later Cuthbert dragged himself unwillingly from Cicely's side and passed into the open air. As he did so he received a blow on the back of his head which stretched him unconscious on the ground. When he came to his senses he found himself bound by a chain in a gloomy dungeon, a ghastly, dreadful place, but a few feet in height.
His first instinct was to try to loosen his bonds, but after vainly lacerating his hands he sank down exhausted. Terrible recollections flashed upon his mind of the pitiless sufferings he had heard that the miserable wretches immured in these dungeons endured before death.
For a time these mental tortures were acute; but at last nature asserted herself, and he sank exhausted into sleep. He was awakened by a cry, and perceived the tall, skeleton figure of a woman standing by him. She placed a thin and bony hand upon his shoulder. He shrank back as far as his chain would permit, horror-stricken. The figure pursued him, shrieking, "My child! My child! You have taken my child! A distant footstep was heard. He comes! In another second Nightgall stood before him.
The gaoler made no attempt to disguise the motives which prompted him to imprison the young esquire. No threats that Cuthbert could use had the least effect on him. He quailed before the charge that Cuthbert made at random--that he had murdered the child of the unfortunate wretch who had disappeared at his coming, but on the question of his release he was obdurate.
If Cuthbert would agree to give up Cicely he should be released; otherwise he should meet with a secret death at the hands of Mauger, the executioner. At this juncture, Cicely, who had been directed by the dwarf, Xit, appeared. To save the man she loved she boldly declared that she would wed Nightgall, provided that he would conduct his prisoner outside the walls of the Tower. Nightgall consented, and agreed to withdraw while Cuthbert and Cicely arranged privately what the token should be.
Hurriedly Cuthbert gave her a ring to send to Lord Dudley, who, he knew, would at once effect his release. Then, accompanied by Nightgall, Cicely withdrew from the gloomy dungeon. Unable to deliver the ring herself to Lord Dudley, Cicely entrusted that task to Xit. But the vanity of the dwarf prevented the execution of the plan. As he was exhibiting the ring to Og, Nightgall suddenly approached, and snatched it from him, and, without taking any notice of the little man's threats, made his way to Cicely.
When he displayed the ring as the token that her lover had been set free, Cicely, shrieking "Lost! At long intervals Nightgall visited him, and once the wretched prisoner, whom the gaoler called Alexia, came to him, entreating his help against Nightgall.
At last Cuthbert decided upon a daring plan of escape. After several days' imprisonment he feigned to be dead. Nightgall, seeing him stretched on the ground, apparently lifeless, chuckled with delight, and, releasing the chain that bound his leg, bent over him with the intention of carrying his body into the burial vault near the moat.
But a suspicion crossed his mind, and he drew his dagger, determined to make sure that his prisoner had passed away. As he did so, the young esquire sprang to his feet, and wrested the poniard from his grasp. In another second Nightgall was lying chained to the floor, where his prisoner had been a moment before. Despite the gaoler's threats, Cuthbert set out, determined to liberate Alexia and made good his own escape.
He wandered through the terrible torture chambers, released an old man confined in a cell called Little Ease, a cell so low and so contrived that the wretched inmate could not stand, walk, sit, or lie at full length within, and then, unable to discover the whereabouts of the ill-fated Alexia, returned to the gaoler, and, possessing himself of his keys and cloak, started forth once more.
After wandering for a long time, chance at last brought him to a secret door, which led into St. John's Chapel in the White Tower. While these events were in progress Cicely, despairing of her lover's safety, sought an audience of Queen Jane, and poured out her story. Moved by compassion, the queen gave directions for a search to be made, and, delighted by the grace and charm of Cicely, appointed her one of her attendants. Lord Guildford Dudley, procuring the assistance of Magog, burst open the door leading to the subterranean dungeons beneath the Devilin Tower, and eventually discovered Nightgall, who made a full confession of his crime as the price of his release.
Cholmondeley's arrival in St. John's Chapel was opportune. Renard, with Pembroke by his side, had just demanded the resignation of the crown by Queen Jane, and the queen, helpless but courageous, had ordered Lord Pembroke to arrest the Spaniard. Pembroke had refused to move, and at this juncture Cholmondeley stepped forward, and, advancing towards the ambassador, said, "M.
Simon Renard, you are the queen's prisoner. Next day, Queen Jane was forced by the Privy Council to resign her crown, and that same night, accompanied by Cuthbert and Cicely, she escaped by a secret passage from the Tower, and, taking a boat, made her way to Sion House.
Here, the following day, she and her husband were arrested, and learnt the news that the Duke of Northumberland was in captivity, and that Queen Mary had ascended the throne. Once more Lady Jane was led back to the Tower, and as she entered by the Traitors' Gate she saw Renard standing hard by, with a smile of bitter mockery in his face.
The Twelfth Day Queen has played her part. At his instigation the Duke of Northumberland was tricked into a confession of the Roman Catholic faith on the scaffold, and then executed. Ambitious that Mary should marry Philip of Spain, he contrived by intrigue to kill her affection for Courtenay, the young Earl of Devon, and succeeded so successfully that Courtenay was placed under arrest, and the Princess Elizabeth, with whom the earl had fallen in love, became the victim of her sister's jealousy.
Cuthbert, though not confined in a cell, was kept prisoner in the Tower, and occupied quarters in the pantler's house. Cicely had disappeared, and nothing had been heard of her since the arrest of Lady Jane Grey at Sion House. Consumed with anxiety for the safety of the girl he loved, the esquire began to suspect that she had been kidnapped by Nightgall. He determined to find her at all cost, and getting Xit to steal the gaoler's keys, he once more made his way to the subterranean dungeons.
Cell after cell he searched, but nowhere could he find a trace of his beloved Cicely. All that he discovered was the dead body of Alexia. He made haste to return to his quarters, and had almost reached them when Nightgall appeared, and at once placed him under arrest for stealing his keys. His enemy was now at his mercy, and Nightgall, after burying the body of Alexia, sought out Cicely, whom be had kept for several weeks a close prisoner in the Salt Tower.
He told her that he was about to remove her to another prison in the Tower leading to the Iron Gate. She continued her screams, until her head, striking against the stones, she was stunned by the blow and became insensible. Nightgall raised her, and carried her quickly to the dark cell he had already prepared.
Here she would have languished for months without seeing anybody save Nightgall, except for a curious chain of circumstances. Renard's plan of marrying Mary to Philip of Spain, to which end he had had Courtenay and the Princess Elizabeth imprisoned in the Tower, was bitterly opposed by De Noailles.
The French ambassador determined to prevent the Spaniard's plans, and, by means of Xit, sent a communication to the princess just as she was leaving her prison for Ashbridge. Further, the little mannikin managed to creep, by way of the chimney, into the chamber where Courtenay was confined, and arrange a plan by which the Earl was able to escape. His share in these events, however, was discovered, and, much to his amazement, he was arrested and taken to the torture chamber.
Though none of the instruments were small enough to inflict much pain upon him, he was so terrified that he answered every question that Renard asked him, giving those answers that he thought the Spaniard would approve. The examination over he was placed in a cell. Here he was visited by Nightgall, from whose girdle he managed to cut, unobserved, the bunch of keys.
Unlocking his own door, he hurried out into the labyrinth of passages and cells, and in his wanderings in search of an exit lighted upon the cell in which Cicely was confined. He was not able to effect her escape, for as they were setting out Nightgall appeared, and put an end to their hopes. Cuthbert had meanwhile been released, together with Lady Jane and her husband. For a time they lived together quietly in Sion House, but De Noailles' plan to prevent the Spanish marriage at all costs dragged them once more into the whirlpool.
Under the leadership of Sir Thomas Wyatt, an insurrection took place, having for its nominal object the prevention of Mary's marriage with Philip of Spain; but it was joined by all the forces opposed to the crown. Courtenay shared in it because he hoped to wed Elizabeth, who would be made Queen on the deposition of Mary.
Lord Guildford Dudley joined in it in the anticipation that his wife might once more mount the throne. At first Wyatt carried everything before him. Mary was actually besieged in the Tower, which it was attempted to carry by force. Down with Renard and the See of Rome! Cuthbert only escaped by forcing himself through an aperture, and dropping into the moat, from where he managed to swim ashore.
He made his way at once to Lady Jane, and related to her how the insurrection had collapsed, and how her husband had been taken prisoner. For her own safety Jane had no thought. She at once determined to seek out the queen, and beseech her to spare her husband. Accompanied by Cuthbert, she presented herself at the Tower, and, obtaining an audience with Mary, flung herself at her feet.
I have come to offer myself for him. If your highness has any pity for me, extend it to him, and heap his faults on my head. Had not Gardiner intervened, she would undoubtedly have granted the request; but Gardiner suggested that the price of the pardon should be the public reconciliation of Lady Jane and her husband with the Church of Rome.
With fiendish delight Nightgall took him to the horrible chamber. There, the first thing that he saw was the tortured, mangled figure of Lord Dudley, covered from head to foot by a blood-coloured cloth. Has she fled? Has she escaped? Delusive expectation! Oh God! I am her destroyer! He determined that not a sound should escape him, and though his whole frame seemed rent asunder, he bravely kept his resolve. As he lay there, Nightgall, with diabolical cruelty, brought Cicely to his side, and bade her look on his nerveless arms and crippled limbs, and mockingly offered to set him free if Cicely would marry him of her own free will.
When at Cuthbert's instigation she refused, he forced her away, shrieking for help. Cuthbert sank once more into insensibility. He came to his senses again to find that men were chafing his limbs and bathing his temples, and that Renard was in his cell. At the Spaniard's order he was given a cup of wine, and the rest having withdrawn, Renard questioned him further. While this examination was going on the cell door opened softly, and a masked figure appeared.
It was Nightgall, who, bribed by De Noailles, had come to assassinate Renard. He flung himself on his intended victim, and was about to dispatch him with his poniard, when Cuthbert, summoning up all his strength, intervened. Finding that he had two men to deal with instead of one, the gaoler sprang to his feet, and rushed from the dungeon. Renard followed him, furious with rage, and Cuthbert at once took advantage of the opportunity to escape.
After some search he discovered the whereabouts of Cicely, and together the lovers, happy once more at being united, if only for a short time, succeeded in finding their way out of the dungeons. As soon as they emerged into the open air they were arrested by the warders, and taken to the guard-room in the White Tower, where Cicely received a warm welcome from the three giants. There was no time to relate their adventures before Renard appeared, walking before a litter upon which was borne the mangled body of Nightgall, who, in his attempt to escape the Spaniard's sword, had been forced to jump from an embrasure of the White Tower.
The wretch was dying; but with his last breath he attempted to make some amends for all the evil he had done in his life. Bidding Cicely come to his side, he told her that she was the daughter of Alexia, whose real name was Lady Mountjoy, and he gave her papers, proving her right to the estates of her father, Sir Alberic Mountjoy, who had incurred the vengeance of Henry VIII.
Renard, grateful to Cholmondeley for saving his life, secured his pardon. Cicely also returned to the side of Lady Jane Grey, and watched the splendid fortitude and unswerving courage with which her unfortunate mistress prepared for the scaffold.
The day before her death her wish that Cicely and Cuthbert should be united was granted, and they were married in her presence by Master John Bradford, Prebendary of St. At last Monday, the twelfth of February, , dawned, and Lady Jane Grey was led out to the scaffold. On the way she passed the headless corpse of Lord Guildford, being borne to the grave.
Cicely accompanied the beautiful girl to the last. It was her hands that helped her to remove her attire and that tied the handkerchief over those eyes which were never to look on the world again. Blindfolded, Jane groped for the block, crying, "What shall I do? Where is it? His life was full of exciting incidents; his early years in particular constitute a record of hard struggle, poverty and lack of recognition.
When nine he tried his hand at tragedy and comedy, and was sent, after his father's death in , to Copenhagen, where he engaged in various occupations with little success, until his talents attracted the attention of a few influential personages, who provided him with the means for continuing his studies.
He won considerable reputation with some early poems, and was quite well known to the public before he entered the university in He next published a satirical story, and after a journey in Italy, his famous novel, "The Improvisatore," which gave him an opportunity for a brilliant series of word-pictures describing the life and character of the parts of Italy he had visited.
Apart from his world-famous fairy tales, by which he set no great store, being ambitious of fame as a novelist, he wrote several successful plays, epic poems and novels. His fairy tales have been translated practically into every language. Hans Andersen died at the age of seventy, in Copenhagen, on August 4, She supported us by sewing and by the rent of a larger room, sublet to a young painter.
On the house opposite there was an image of the Virgin, before which, when the evening bells rang, I and the neighbours' children used to kneel and sing in honour of the Mother of God and the Child Jesus. Once an English family stopped to listen; and the gentleman gave me a silver coin, "because of my fine voice," as my mother told me. My mother's confessor, Fra Martino, always showed great kindness to me; and I spent many hours with him at the convent.
It was through him that I became chorister in the Capuchin church, and was allowed to carry the great censer. Before I was nine, I was chosen as one of the boys and girls who were to preach between Christmas and the New Year in the church of Ara Croeli, before the image of Jesus.
I had no fear, and it seemed decided that I, of all children, gave most delight; but after me came a little girl of exquisitely delicate form, bright countenance, and so melodious a voice that even my mother, with all her pride of me, awarded her the palm, and declared that she was just like an angel. But I had often to repeat my speech at home, and then made up a new one describing the festival in the church, which was considered just as good.
One moonlit evening, on returning with my mother from a visit in Trastevere, we found a crowd in the Piazza di Trevi, listening to a man singing to a guitar--not songs like those which I had so often heard, but about things around him, of what we saw and heard, and we ourselves were in the song. My mother told me he was an improvisatore; and Federigo, our artist lodger, told me I should also improvise, for I was really a poet.
And I tried it forthwith--singing about the foodshop over the way, with its attractively set out window and the haggling customers. I gained much applause; and from this time forth I turned everything into song. My first visit to the country ended in a sad event, which was to shape the whole course of my life.
We stayed the night at an inn, and in the morning joined the dense holiday crowd that moved over the carpet of flowers on the pavement of the main street. Suddenly there was a piercing cry--a pair of unmanageable horses rushed through. I was thrown down, and all was blackness. When I awoke, Mother of God, I lay with my head on Mariuccia's lap, beside the lifeless form of my mother, crushed by the carriage wheel! The occupant of the carriage, a gentleman of the Borghese family, had escaped with a shaking, and sent a servant in rich livery with a purse containing twenty scudi for the motherless child.
Mariuccia took me back to Rome; it was decided that her parents, who kept flocks in the Campagna--honest people to whom my twenty scudi would be wealth--should take charge of me. Thus, in the dreary Campagna, with honest Benedetto and kindly Domenica, I spent the summer and the early autumn in the ancient tomb which they had transformed into a hut.
The first week it rained incessantly; then, with the sun, came the insufferable heat, increasing in intensity from day to day, from week to week. Even the buffaloes lay like dead masses upon the burnt-up grass, unless, excited to madness by the poison-stings of myriads of flies, that covered them as if they were carrion, they rushed in mad career to the Tiber to roll themselves in the yellow water.
One day, towards sunset, I was just opening the door to leave the hut, when a man darted in so suddenly that I was thrown down. With lightning speed he shut the door, and in a distressed tone uttered the name of the Madonna, when a violent blow shattered the door, and the whole opening was filled with the head of a fierce buffalo, whose body was tightly squeezed into the doorway.
The stranger seized a gun from the wall, took aim, and shot the beast. The danger over, he lifted me from the ground, and said: "Blessed be Madonna! You have saved my life. I was made to show him my abominable sketches upon bits of paper and to sing to him, and caused him astonishment at my improvising about the Madonna and himself and the buffalo. He finally asked Domenica to bring me next morning to see him at the Borghese Palace.
He was the powerful prince himself, who had unwittingly been the cause of my poor mother's death! The visit had to be frequently repeated; and I became quite accustomed to the splendours of the palazzo. Finally, Eccellenza decided to have me educated in the Jesuits' school; and I had to bid farewell to good Domenica and to enter upon my school life. New occupations engrossed me; new acquaintances presented themselves; the dramatic portion of my life began to unfold itself.
Here years compress themselves together. I became particularly attached to one of my school-fellows, Bernardo, a gay, almost dissolute son of a Roman senator. When he suddenly left school to join the Papal Guard the whole world seemed to me empty and deserted. One day I saw him pass my window on a prancing horse. I rushed out, but ran across the porter's wife of the Borghese Palace, who informed me that the young Eccellenza and her husband had just arrived.
Would I not come to give them welcome? To the palace I went, was graciously received by Fabiani and Francesca, who brought me their little daughter Flaminia, the "little abbess," as she was called, having been destined from her birth for the life of a nun. The child had wonderfully bright eyes, and came towards me as though we were old acquaintances, laughing and chattering, and showing me her toys. On my way back, early in the evening, as luck would have it, I almost ran into the arms of Bernardo.
He was delighted to see me, told me of his merry life and adventures, and wanted to drag me into an artists' tavern to drink a bottle of wine. That was impossible for me, a Jesuits' pupil. I refused. As we walked on we met a crowd hustling an old Jew. A thick-set brute of a fellow wanted to force him to jump over a long stick, and everybody shouted, "Leap, Jew!
The crowd veered round at once, laughed and applauded, the old Jew meanwhile making his escape. Let them say what they may, I will drink a bottle of wine with you. May we always be friends! His joy equalled mine, and he immediately plunged into confidences.
One day, when straying into the Ghetto, he had encountered the old Jew of our adventure, bowing and scraping, and requesting the honour of receiving, him in his house. They entered; wine was brought to him by a dark Jewish maiden, of such beauty as to set his whole blood on fire. Since then he had vainly tried to see her. He visited the Jew's house on all sorts of pretexts, but his charmer remained invisible.
He now made the amazing proposition that I should take up the study of Hebrew with the old Jew, and thus help him in this affair. I explained the utter impossibility of aiding him in a project of this nature. He was obviously offended; and when we parted he returned my warmth with chilly politeness. We met but rarely after this meeting; Bernardo was always jovial and friendly, though not confidential, until, on the occasion of a dance at the Borghese Palace, when I asked him about the handsome Jewish maiden, he laughed.
The other has flown out of the Ghetto--nay, even out of Rome! With the advent of the carnival I had assumed the black dress and the short silk coat of an abbate, and had become a new and happier person. For the first time I took part in the jollities of the carnival, and at the end of the first day again came across Bernardo, who insisted upon taking me to the opera to hear a new prima donna who had turned everybody's heart at Naples.
Rumour had not belied her. Her appearance was greeted with rapturous applause. Bernardo seized my arm; he had recognised in her his Jewish maiden, just as I was about to exclaim, "It is she! There were endless calls for "Annunciata" when the curtain fell; flowers and garlands were thrown at her feet, and among them a little poem which I had written under the inspiration of her exquisite voice.
With a crowd of enthusiasts, we hurried to the stage-door, took the horses from her carriage, and conducted her in triumph to her apartments. Bernardo, who, bolder than I, had called on Annunciata, brought me to her the next day. She was friendly, brilliant in her conversation, and appeared deeply impressed with my improvisation on "Immortality"--the immortality first of eternal Rome, and then of the fair singer's art--to which I was pressed when Bernardo let out the secret of my gift.
I ventured to kiss her hand. After that I saw her every day during the gay carnival, and was more and more captivated by her charm. Annunciata left Rome on Ash Wednesday, and with her the brightness seemed to have gone completely out of my life, my only pleasure being the recollection of those happy days of the carnival.
She told me that, although born in Spain, she had been, as a child, in Rome; that it was she who preached that day at Ara Coeli, "an orphan, who would have perished of hunger had not a despised Jew given it shelter and food until it could flutter forth over the wild, restless sea. Peter's--an unforgettable sight! As I went into the little inn to fetch some refreshment I found myself in the narrow passage face to face with Bernardo, pale, and with glowing eyes. He wildly seized my hand, and said: "I am not an assassin, Antonio; but fight with me you shall, or I shall become your murderer!
I thrust him back. I heard a report; my hand trembled. Bernardo lay before me in his blood. The people of the house rushed in, and with them Annunciata. I wanted to fling myself, in despair, upon Bernardo's body; but Annunciata lay on her knees beside him, trying to staunch the blood. But I, overcome by anguish, exclaimed: "I am innocent; the pistol went off by accident. Yes, Annunciata, we loved you. I would die for you, like he! Which of us was the dearer to you? Tell me whether you love me, and then I will escape.
I heard her weeping, and saw her press her lips to Bernardo's brow. Then I heard voices shout "Fly, fly! Like a madman I rushed through bushes and underwood until I reached the Tiber. Among the ruins of a tomb I came across three men sitting around a fire, to whom I explained that I wanted a boat to cross the river.
They agreed to take me across; but I had better give them my money to keep for safety. I realised that I had fallen into the hands of robbers, gave them all I had, was tied on to a horse, and taken across the river, riding all night, until at dawn we reached a wild part of the mountains. They wanted to keep me for ransom, and dispatched one of their number to Rome to find out all he could about me.
The man returned; and with a thankful heart I heard that Bernardo was only wounded and on the way to recovery. My rough hosts having found out my gift, I was asked to sing to them; and once more my power of improvisation stood me in good stead. When I had finished, a wrinkled old woman, who seemed to be held in great reverence by the robbers, came towards me. The old witch herself, who had made me write on a piece of paper the words "I travel to Naples" and my name, disappeared for a day, and came back with a letter, which she commanded me not to read then.
Finally, in the midst of night, she led me out of the robbers' den and took me across a rocky path to a dumb peasant with an ass, which I was made to mount. She kissed my forehead and departed. When daylight broke I opened the letter, which contained a passport in my name, an order for five hundred scudi on a Naples bank, and the words "Bernardo is out of danger, but do not return to Rome for some months.
Among my travelling companions was a portly, handsome, Neapolitan lady, with whom I became very friendly, and who invited me to her house. She was the wife of a Professor Maretti, and her name was Santa. The professor himself was a little half-famished looking man, full of learning, by the show of which he was in the habit of boring everybody who came near him. Santa made up for this by her liveliness and her warm interest in my affairs.
I had written to Eccellenza a true account of the reason of my departure, and informed him of my future intentions; but his reply, which arrived after long delay, was a stunning blow to me. He was exceedingly annoyed, washed his hands of me, and wished me not on any account to connect his name with my public life. That Annunciata should have preferred this fickle man to me! My debut at San Carlo aroused great enthusiasm, and Santa, whom I saw next day in her snug heavily curtained room, seemed radiant with happiness at my success.
She made me sit on a soft silken sofa, stroked my head, and spoke of my future. I kissed her hand, and looked into her dark eyes with a purity of soul and thought. She was greatly excited. I saw her bosom heave violently; she loosened a scarf to breathe more freely. Eternal Mother of God! The holy image, at that moment, fell down from the wall. It was no mere accident. The sea air would cool me. I took a boat to Torre del Annunciata; and happiness gradually returned to me as I realised what danger I had escaped by the grace of the Virgin.
I joined the crowd watching the fiery stream of lava slowly descending towards the sea, when I heard somebody calling my name. It was Fabiani, who insisted on taking me at once to see Francesca. The welcome was hearty. There were no recriminations, although I resented for a while the tone of benevolent patronage adopted by my benefactors.
I learnt that Bernardo had entered the King of Naples' service, and that Annunciata was shortly expected. He also undertook to write to his father-in-law on my behalf We were surrounded by crowds of half-naked beggars. One young girl there was, a little away from the others, scarcely more than eleven years old, but lovely as the goddess of beauty.
Modesty, soul, and a deep expression of suffering were expressed in her countenance. She was blind! I gave her a scudo. Her cheeks burned. She kissed my hand; and the touch seemed to go through my blood. The guide told us afterwards that her name was Lara, and that she generally sat in the Temple of Neptune. The ruined temple made a mighty impression upon us; I was requested to improvise in these romantic surroundings. Deeply moved by my thoughts of the blind girl, I sang of the glories of Nature and art, and of the poor maiden from whom all this magnificence was concealed.
When we left the temple, I lagged behind, and, looking around, I saw Lara on her knees, her hands clasped together. She had heard my song! It smote me to the soul. I saw her pressing my scudo to her lips and smile; I grew quite warm at the sight of it, and pressed a hot kiss upon her forehead.
With a thrilling cry she sprang up like a terrified deer, and was gone. I felt as if I had committed a sin, and sadly joined my party. Amalfi, Capri--I drank the intoxicating beauty of it all. Then I was prevailed upon to return to Rome with Fabiani and Francesca.
We spent a day at Naples, where I found two letters waiting for me. The first was a brief note to this effect: "A faithful heart, which intends honourably and kindly towards you, expects you this evening. The terror of the last unfortunate moment of our parting is now well over.
Come quickly! Delay not a moment in coming! My mind was made up not to see her again. We left for Rome The Palazzo Borghese was now my home. Eccellenza received me with the greatest kindness, but all the family continued to use the old teaching tone and depreciating mode of treatment. Thus six years went by; but somehow my protectors did not realise that I was no longer a boy, and my dependence gave them the right to make them let me feel the bitterness of my position. Even my talent as poet and improvisatore was by no means taken seriously at the palace.
Happiness was brought into my life once more by Flaminia, "the little abbess," who came home to have her last glimpse of the world before taking the veil. She had grown tall and pale of complexion, with an expression of wonderful gentleness in her features. She recalled our early friendship, when she used to sit on my knee and make me draw pictures for her and tell her stories.
From her, at any rate, I suffered no humiliation, and from day to day our friendship grew closer. I told her about Bernardo and Annunciata, and about Lara, who became inexpressibly dear to her. I also endeavoured to make her reconsider her decision to take the veil and immure herself for life; but her whole education and inclination tended towards that goal.
At last the day itself came--a day of great solemnity and state. Flaminia was dead and buried--and Elizabeth the nun, the bride of Heaven, arose from the bier! I went out to the Campagna. Domenica had died six months back!
When I returned I was seized by a violent fever, from which I recovered but slowly. It was six months after Flaminia had taken the veil that the doctor allowed me to go out. My first walk was to the grey convent where she now passed her monotonous days.
Every evening I returned, and often I stood gazing at her prison and thinking of Flaminia as I used to know her. One evening Fabiani found me thus, and made me follow him home. He spoke to me with unusual solemnity in his voice, but with great kindness. I was ill. Travelling, change of scene, would do me good. I was to move about for a year, and then return to show what the world had made of me.
I went to Venice. Dreary, sad and quiet seemed to me the Queen of the Adriatic. In the gently swaying gondola I thought with bitterness of Annunciata. I felt a grudge even against innocent, pious Flaminia, who preferred the convent to my strong, brotherly love.
Then my thoughts floated between Lara, the image of beauty, and Santa, the daughter of sin. One day I took a boat to the Lido to breathe the fresh air of the sea. On the beach I came across Poggio, a young Venetian nobleman with whom I had made friends; and as a storm hung threatening in the sky I decided to accept his invitation for dinner.
We watched the fury of the storm from the window, and then joined a crowd of women and children anxiously watching a fishing boat out at sea. Before our very eyes the boat was swallowed by the waves, and with aching hearts we witnessed the prayers, shrieks, and despair of the anxious watchers whose husbands and fathers perished thus within their sight. Next evening there was a reception at my banker's. The storm became a topic of conversation; and Poggio related the death of the fishermen, trying to enlist sympathy for the poor survivors.
But nobody seemed to understand his intention. Then I was asked to improvise. I was quickly determined. But this art cannot be given, it must be purchased.
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