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THE CHILD

OF

THIRTY-SIX FATHERS.

CHAPTER I.

The birth of Laurentini-His Education-His

departure from his Mother's house.

IT was in a small town called Castel. naudary, situated in one of the Southern Provinces of France, that I first beheld the light, sometime antecedent to the commencement of the revolutionary storms which have ravaged France. My mother, who was an Italian by birth, and, like most of the inhabitants of those lovely regions, was very handsome, had, when she brought me into the world, no other property than

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Vol. I.

thirty thousand livres, which she vested in a small but well circumstanced estate:Secured from all cares respecting the future, she thought of nothing but her beloved child; which, faithful to the precepts of Rousseau, she suckled herself ; not caring to confide to the hands of strangers the precious gift which Heaven had vouchsafed her.

Protected by her incessant cares, and constantly watched over and provided by her tenderness, I reached, without any unhappy accident, that age when it becomes necessary to place young people under the care of instructors. This was a duty which my mother was not a person to neglect--she therefore put me under the care of the most learned persons in the whole district. My progress was rapid, and I was no more than fifteen years of age,

when I was held up as an example to all the youths of my age. In truth, I may without vanity assert, that I deserved it. The Greek and Latin authors,

history, geography, mathematics, literature itself-.-all were familiar to me. When to these accomplishments was superadded a strong resemblance to my mother, who was, as I have already remarked, very handsome, it will be allowed that, without any extravagant stretch of vanity, I might have considered myself as a person whom fate had destined for extraordinary and grand adventures. How far I was right, my history will demonstrate.

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I must not neglect to mention that as soon as I arrived at that age when lads begin to reflect, I regarded with very close and curious observation every thing belonging to my mother, that surrounded

Tormented with an irresistible desire to know my father, and anxious to meet with the person on whom I might without apprehension bestow that endearing title, I rigidly scrutinized the figures of those who most frequently visited my mother; but not perceiving in any one of them, the least indication of being any

thing more to her than sincere and respectful friends, I remained in a most painful state of anxiety and incertitude. Angelina, for that was my mother's name, when I interrogated her upon the subject, which was often the case, would make no other answer to the questions I put to her respecting the author of my being, but these few words : “ Have patience, my “ dear son---you must wait a while---one “ day or other you will know it.” The natural sweetness of my mother's disposi. tion, which was never altered in her answers to my inquiries, filled my bosom with the assuaging balm of hope, and I returned to my occupations with my accustomed gaiety.

One day, (I then was about eighteen years of age,) having gained the prize of my class at school, I returned home to my mother full of satisfaction, and just as I entered, saw a person leaving her. He was very corpulent, low in stature, and dressed in black, his head being envelo.

ped in an enormous periwig, composed of a multitude of curls. Struck with his very grotesque appearance, I inquired who he was. My mother, who had never conversed with me about her family, replied that the man was appointed her agent after the death of my grandfather, and that it was to his care she was indebt. ed for the fortune she possessed. She then told me that her father, on his death, left to her, as well as to her sister, no. thing but some little talents, and some heavy debts; that she had cultivated the one and discharged the other; that from that time she had lived with her sister till her decease, which took place soon after I was born; finally, that all the property which she possessed, and which furnished us both with the means of creditable living, was derived from the inheritance from her sister aforesaid... Satisfied with this explanation respecting my family, I asked my mother whether she could not, without breaking in mate

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