« PreviousContinue »
length Antonio, in spite of his agita- the distance. Not knowing what road tion, fell asleep, resting on his sword, to take, he wandered about at random before the crucifix; and, when he during the greater part of that day ; awakened in the cold morning wind, but, towards evening, reached the door he found himself lying on the top of a of a collier's cottage, and on the followsmall rock, surrounded by thick woods, ing morning proceeded on his journey while he thought he heard a sound as towards Florence. if of scornful laughter dying away in
THE MEETING IN ROME. Antonio's object in going to Flo- believed that he had been bribed by the rence was to visit his family and rela- Marconi family to poison her daughtions. He was undecided what course ter; and that he had an additional of life to pursue, so much did he ap- motive thereto in the feeling, that he pear to be the sport of fortune, while could again restore her to life for the the reality of existence, he thought, gratification of his own diabolical purwas no better than a miserable dream. poses. He set his affairs in order; and, in his “ Let us leave every thing to Proancestral palace, gave
6. The grief, representing to himself in lively circumstances as they stand are dreadcolours, in these well-known halls, his ful enough without our seeking to exown misery and that of his parents. He aggerate them, by involving others often thought of that hateful witch, in crimes of such unheard-of magni. and of her who bore so close a resem- tude. However, be they guilty or blance to his affianced bride-that innocent, I am resolved to disinherit other Crescentia whom he had so the Marconi family, and shall leave strangely found and lost. This indo- all my possessions to the monasteries lent prostration of mind, however, at and other religious establishments length gave way to the desire of visit- here, in one of which I myself shall ing Rome and its curiosities. He probably spend the remainder of my wished again to enjoy the society of days." his friend Alphonso and the father of * But,” said the mother, with tears Crescentia, who were living there ; in her
- what if it were possible and accordingly he left Florence, and to recover that other Crescentia-our proceeded towards that city.
lost daughter's twin-sister -- whom The tumult of Rome, so different Antonio has told us about? During from any thing he had been accustomed your absence she was stolen away to in Florence or Padua, greatly sur- from me in her infancy; and the ex. prised him as he entered that city. pressions made use of before Antonio He thought he should never be able by that old witch, who was in the pay to find any of his friends amid the of the Marconi family, appear to me mighty throng. His satisfaction was so remarkable, that I think we ought therefore the greater, when, on going not even yet to despair of getting up to the capitol, he met Podesta back our lost child." coming down from the same. The old “ My good Eudoxia," replied the man took him home with him, where father, “lay aside your dreams and he had the gratification of paying his vain imaginations. We have norespects to the mother of his Crescen- thing to hope for on this earth but tia. The news of the singular death death ; and that it may be soft and of Pietro, of Crescentia's strange resto- holy, is the only boon we ought now ration to life and subsequent disen- to pray for at the hands of Heaven." chantment, had reached Rome upon 66 And if afterwards, when too late, every wind that blew.
But of course we were to find that our poor lost many perverted and false versions of child might have been recovered, the story were abroad, and therefore what would be our remòrse for not the parents were both glad and grieved having relied with greater confidence to hear the true account of it from on the merciful dispensations of the Antonio's lips. The abhorrence ex. Most High!" pressed for the magician, by Crescen- Podesta threw a gloomy look on tia's mother especially, was unbound- Antonio, as he rejoinedmi Nothing ed. In the bitterness of her soul, she was wanting to complete our misery
but those idle imaginations of yours, the smallest trace of the hut you said which, by inspirivg the mother of you had spent the night in, or of the Crescentia with hopes that are never robber you had slain? Not a vestigeto be realized, have deprived her for and not a soul in the neighbourhood ever of repose."
had ever heard either of the one or May ask you to explain your the other. No, my dear young friend, self?" said Antonio.
your meeting with my real dead daugh“ Young man,” said the father, ter had turned your brain and over“ since that night on which you pre- thrown your reason; and the same tended to have met "
disordered fantasy will account for “ Pretended!” cried Antonio, lay- your vision of the hermit's cell, in ing his hand on his sword.
which the image of the dead Pietro “ Nay!” continued the old man, presented itself to your imagination. “ let that pass. Far be it from me Believe me, all these phantoms were to accuse you of falsehood. I know brought before your senses merely by well the truth and nobleness of your the jugglery of pain and sorrow. nature. But do you think I can have Antonio was perplexed, and knew failed to observe that your senses have not what to reply. Dreadfully as his been to a certain extent disordered faculties had been shaken by the loss ever since that unhappy night on of his beloved Crescentia, he yet felt which you met the funeral of my convinced that the events of that awful daughter-of her who, on the follow- night in the forest, were not the mere ing day, was to have been your bride? offspring of his imagination. At the Then, during the night of agony you same time, he became doubly desirous passed in the forest, is it wonderful of restoring that second Crescentia to that, in the excess of your passionate her disconsolate parents—if it were grief, you should have imagined that only for the purpose of convincing you again beheld the image of Cres- the sceptical Podesta of the truth of centia—and that you should have his story. With these feelings he mixed up the vision with the remem. bade them farewell, and went forth brance of your own unhappy parents ? into the crowded streets of the city. Consider, were we able to discover
A New FRIEND. As he was proceeding along the said Alphonso, “where we can hardly thronged thoroughfares, he caught an hear ourselves speaking for the worse indistinct glimpse of what appeared to than Babylonian confusion of tongues him to be the figure of the hideous old that prevails." woman of the forest. In the utmost Accordingly, they walked into the anxiety he pressed forward to over- country, and here Alphonso informed take her, and had almost done so, his friend, that since he came to Rome when a long procession of pilgrims, he bad addicted himself to the study streaming forth out of a side street, of astrology, fortune-telling, and other cut him off from the object of his pur- similar pursuits — pursuits which he suit, and, when the pageant had passed, had formerly condemned, in the bethe old woman was nowhere to be seen. lief that they could be successfully In great perplexity, he ascended the practised only through the instrumen. steps of the Temple of St John, in or- tality of evil spirits. “ But,” contider to obtain a more extensive view, pued he, “ since I became acquainted and, while standing there, he felt a with the incomparable Castalio, I friendly tap upon the shoulder, and have viewed these matters in a totally heard his name pronounced by a well- different light." known voice. On turning round, he “ Is it possible," cried Antonio, recognised his Spanish friend Al- or that, after our terrible experience in phonso.
Padua, you can again put your soul “ Here you are,” said the latter in in peril by cultivating such studies ? a tone of cordiality,“ on the very spot Are you, then, of opinion that the where I expected to find you." sciences which stand within the limits
“ What do you mean by that?" ask. of nature and reason are not worth od Antonio.
the pains bestowed upon then! ; and "Let usleavetheso crowded strcets," that all our labours ought to be de.
voted to those which are based in de- find you standing on the steps of the ception, and in which, at any rate, Lateran church; and you see that it no success is to be obtained except has so come to pass.” through fellowship with the powers of Antonio now became extremely darkness?"
anxious to be introduced to the gifted • Warmth, my good friend," re- seer, and to learn from him his destiny. joined the Spaniard, “is not argument. They dined in a garden in the country, We are much too young to under and towards evening returned to town. stand ourselves thoroughly, or to have It was twilight when they entered a fathomed all the mysteries of the uni- small street which ran behind the And if you but saw the man monument to Augustus.
Here they to whom I owe so much, I am sure all crossed a little grass plot, and, knockyour scruples would vanish. So pious ing at the entrance of a small house, is he, so simple ; and so pure is the the door was opened, and, arm in arm faith that may be read in the depth of -(Antonio filled with the most in. his serene eyes.”
tense expectations)-the two friends “ And what say you to Pietro?" walked into the hall. replied Antonio.
66 Were not our A young nian, about thirty years feelings towards him precisely of this of age, and with nothing remark. description ?"
able in his appearance, came forward “No,” answered his friend. “ Pietro to meet them. He greeted them was a man who laid claim to more with great simplicity of manner. than mortal endowments. He came “ You are welcome,” said he to Antoamong us like an ambassador from nio, " your Spanish friend has spoken heaven, and strove to dazzle the eyes so highly in your favour, that I have of ordinary men by the brightness of long been desirous of making your supernatural accomplishments. He acquaintance. Only you must not
. gloried in ceremony and pomp; and imagine that you have come to an even in his condescension he made adept to whom all mysteries are you feel the prodigious distance that known, or to a man before whom the separated him from you. But my foundations of hell tremble. No, my new friend, Castalio, is quite a differ friend, a mere mortal man stands beent sort of person. He does not deal fore you--one like yourself, or at least in the magnificent or the sublime ; one whom you or any man may rerather believing that there must be semble, if you fear not to renounce something spurious or defective in the the vain pursuits and tumults of the nature of those who indulge in over world, and to devote yourself to a life lofty aspirations; and that even the of severe and earnest study. greatest of men, in the genuine con- “ Look around you," continued he, sciousness of his soul, must bear wit- “ this is my unostentatious dwellingness to the truth that he, no less than place and in yonder chamber stands the most ignorant beggar in the streets, my bed. There is no room here for is but a cbild of clay.'
the mighty instruments and treacher“ You excite my curiosity,” said ous pr«parations of magic. You see Antonio. “ Can he read the past here no circles, or glasses, or globes, and the future, and foretell the des. or signs of the zodiac-and, in truth, tinies of men ? Can he, think you, there is no occasion for them. The unriddle for me the mysteries of my man who, in humility and profound own particular fate?"
earnestress of purpose, descends into “ It is precisely in that sort of the depths of his own soul, in order to research that his wonderful capacity know himself, has all those secrets laid displays itself,” answered Alphonso. bare before him, which he would in “ And he goes to work in an extremely vain, by any other process, conjure simple and innocent manner. There heaven and hell to render up. • Beare none of the customary adjurations, come ye like little children!' These formulas, shrieks, and death-agonies, are the words which throw wide the to be found in his practice. He has gates of the whole world of mystery no magical apparatus, no crystals -Unsophisticate your nature ; and or imprisoned spirits-no mirror, or then, though but for an hour or a skeletons, or smoking incense vessels. moment, ye shall be lightened of the He is in himself all-sufficient. I spoke load laid upon you by the rash impiety to him of you, and he informed me of our first parents- then shall ye that to-day, at this very hour, I should wander back into the þosom of para
dise, and, with unscaled eyes, shall death — the guilty passion, and the behold nature and all her powers as murder of his father. He then passed she appeared on the first day of crea- on to the events of Antonio's own life tion in her bride-like attire."
-how, while pursuing his father's While the meek student was thus murderer, he had been detained in speaking, Alphonso cast a triumphant Padua by an attachment to the lovely glance upon his friend, and Antonio Crescentia. 6. And it is with the utcould not help confessing that he was most astonishment,” he concluded, more prepossessed by the discourse “ that I discover you to be the man and humble demeanour of their new who brought to light the hellish pracfriend, than he had ever been by the tices of the accursed Abano, and deliostentatious parade and grandilo- vered that miscreant over to the pun. quence of the mighty Abano. He ishment he so richly deserved. Alas, now began to think that the wisdom
my young friend, how deeply do I usually deemed supernatural and un- sympathize with your affliction, for lawful, was perfectly compatible with twice over had you to sustain the tertrue piety and lowliness of heart. rible loss of your beloved one !" 66 Can
tell me what my destiny Antonio opened his whole soul to is to be ?" asked Antonio.
his new friend, with as much confi. “ If I knew the year, the day, and dence as if he had been merely the hour of your birth,” replied Cas- speaking to himselfHe related to talio, “ I should then draw your ho. him the adventures of that dreadful roscope, and, after comparing it with night in which he seemed to have the lineaments of your countenance discovered a second Crescentia in the and the lines of your hand, I think I cottage of the old witch, whom, he could reveal to you something of your was convinced, he had seen that very future fate.
day in the streets. Can
you inform Antonio handed a pocket-book to me," asked he with eagerness, " whethe seer, in which his father had put ther what I then beheld was real, and down the precise hour of his birth. whether there be another Crescentia Castalio made the young men sit alive, whom I shall yet have the hapdown, and placed wine before them, piness of restoring to her parents ?" of which he himself also partook while Castalio became more thoughtful he was making his calculations. He than before—“ Provided the person likewise, from time to time, joined you saw to-day,” said he,“ be not the gaily in the conversation; and, in fiend Berecynth disguised as a woman, short, went through his work in such I have little doubt but that we shall an easy off-hand manner, as plainly detect the old hag. However, wait showed that it by no means required patiently till the morning, and in the his undivided attention. When about mean time let us part. Rest assured an hour had passed over in this way, of this, that the events of that night Castalio rose, and beckoned Antonio were no mere fancies bred in your to a window. “ I have called you distempered brain; but were actual aside," said he, “ because I do not realities—you and your friends may know how far your friend is in your be perfectly satisfied of that." confidence." He then, after atten. The young men bade adieu to Cas. tively examining his countenance and talio; and Antonio thanked the Span. the lines upon his hands, related to iard very heartily for having procured him, step by step, the history of his him such an agreeable acquaintance. parents' misery-his mother's violent
CHAP. XII. A CHAPTER ON BEAUTY, AND OTHER MATTERS. Antonio had not been mistaken. the very abode of despair. She selThe old woman he had caught a dom ventured abroad, but on this ocglimpse of in the crowded streets, was casion had gone out into the town to really she in whose cottage in the fo- look for her Crescentia, who was abrest he had passed the night. She sent without leave. After her return, dwelt in a small hovel, behind some when sitting up at night, she was ruined houses near the Lateran church. greatly surprised to hear a violent Persecuted, and in want—hated, fear. knocking at the door, and a confused ed, and forsaken-her house seemed noise of cries and lamentations. She
took up her lamp and went to the door, one side with both hands. There—that where she found a mob collected, and will do. Now, good aunt, take care busily engaged in persecuting a little you don't yet yours fly back suddenly. hump-backed figure, who wore a red If you do, it will fetch me such a box velvet cloak, fantastically decorated on the ear that not a remaining tooth with gold.
will be left in my head !” “ Does not the good woman Pan- The old woman laughed, and said, cratia dwell here?" cried the little " I know not when I have been so man, as soon as he saw the door
happy. You are in a merry mood toopened.
night, nephew. But what were the “She does,” said the old woman, people tormenting you about in the admitting him, and slamming back streets ?"
' the door in the faces of the mob, who 66 What about ?” answered he. were left to expend their taunts and “ About my appearance to be sure: threats on the empty air. “ Who may it affords them rare amusement. Now, you be, my noble sir ?” continued is not man, my good nurse, an incomshe_" and what brings you to the prehensibly stupid animal ? Here are hovel of a poor forlorn old woman?" upwards of a hundred thousand souls
“ Sit down," said the dwarf_" and collected together in Rome, within the let us have a little more light, that we last few months, for the purpose of may see what we are doing. And doing honour to their Saviour, and of since you say that you are poor, take atoning for their own sins. · Well, the this piece of gold, and let us consoli. moment I happen to put my head out date our acquaintance over a glass of of my window-(I only arrived here good wine.”
yesterday)—be it with only my nightThe hag looked pleased, lighted a cap on; or to show
person couple of tapers, and replied: You in the market-place, in my best attire, shall have a flask of Florentine wine, you would take your oath that all this which is no poor drink, I promise myriad of people had come together you." She opened a small cupboard, from every quarter of Europe on my and set a long-necked bottle on the sole and particular account :-such table, pushing it across to her guest. peeping, and ogling, and shouting,
Why did you call me noble ?" and roaring, and laughing, does the asked the dwarf.
appearance of your humble servant “ Does not that gold piece speak excite. I could make a fortune, I am volumes in favour of your nobility ?" certain, if I were to show myself for returned the old woman. “ Besides, payment. They pull out their purses don't I see the fineness of your cloak, to see an ape, an Indian, or a sea-cat; the feather in your hat, and so forth. and yet the ungrateful blockheads, Are you not a prince, or a duke at the who can see me for nothing, raise a least?"
tumult, and overwhelm me with abuse - Neither the one nor the other," whenever I appear.' rejoined the little man. “ What! my “ It is the same with me,” sighed old aunt-donner and blitzen! don't the old woman, my case is just as you know me? Don't
bad. Why, the very brute beasts are own nephew, the little Berecynth of not so irrational.
Each of them may Milan ? It is said we are very like have any sort of nose or eyes he pleases, one another."
and is yet allowed to pass peaceably on - Gemini!” cried the old woman, his
way.' quite delighted, “ are you Berecynth " Ay," continued Berecynth, “ look of Milan, of whom I have heard so at fishes, for example ; what philosomuch? It does my old eyes good to phic toleration is to be witnessed you
here before me, face to face.” among them? And yet some of them “Ay," replied Berecynth," say, are all nose together. Look down rather, nose to nose ; for that, I into the waters and you behold counfancy, is the only feature either of us tenances cold and serious, and yet have worth mentioning. For the sake perfectly aware of their own and each of curiosity, dear aunt, let us try if we other's originality. One, perhaps, has cannot accomplish a kiss between us. a mouth in his belly, and another eyes No-it won't do-we have already upon his back, and yet none of their locked noses.
If we would make it fellow-fishes ever think of making out, we must forcibly hold them to sport of them on that account. Un