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Title: The Betrothed - From the Italian of Alessandro Manzoni
Author: Manzoni, Alessandro, 1785-1873
Language: English
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THE BETROTHED

From the Italian of

ALESSANDRO MANZONI


[Illustration: _The street was deserted before him; but,
behind him, the terrible cry still resounded.
"Seize him! stop him! a poisoner!"_]



London:
Richard Bentley,
(_Successor to H. Colburn_)
Cumming, Dublin. Bell and Bradfute, Edinburgh.
Galignani, Paris.
1834


    [Illustration: THE BETROTHED.

    _So saying, he passed his arm around the neck
    of the Unknown, who after resisting a moment,
    yielded, quite vanquished by this impulse of
    kindness, and fell on the neck of the Cardinal
    in an agony of repentance._]



STANDARD NOVELS.

Nº XLIII.

"No kind of literature is so generally attractive as Fiction. Pictures
of life and manners, and Stories of adventure, are more eagerly received
by the many than graver productions, however important these latter may
be. APULEIUS is better remembered by his fable of Cupid and Psyche than
by his abstruser Platonic writings; and the Decameron of BOCCACCIO has
outlived the Latin Treatises, and other learned works of that author."


THE BETROTHED.

Complete in One Volume.


London:
Richard Bentley, 8. New Burlington Street
(Successor to Henry Colburn):
Bell, and Bradfute, Edinburgh;
and Cumming, Dublin.

1834.

London:
Printed by A. Spottiswoode,
New-Street-Square.



CRITICAL REMARKS on MANZONI'S BETROTHED:

BY THE COUNT O'MAHONY. [Translated from the Italian.]


To publish a novel, to analyse, to eulogise it, and recommend its
perusal to the good and pious, will appear no doubt very extraordinary,
and offend the prejudices of many who have agreed among themselves to
consider a novel, whoever may be its author, and whatever may be its
subject, form, and design, as a pestilent production. If you ask them
why? "Because," they will reply--"because it is a novel!" The answer is
as wise as it is peremptory and decisive, and we will spare ourselves
the useless trouble of replying to arguments so profound and powerful.
We will, however, submit a few serious reflections to minds of a less
elevated order, were it only to prove that we can talk reasonably, even
on the subject of novels.

Certainly, if we are understood to designate by the appellation of
_Novel_, the written dreams and extravagant imaginations of a corrupt
mind and depraved heart, where illusions are substituted for realities,
vice transformed into virtue, crime justified by the passions that lead
to its perpetration, and fallacious pictures presented of an ideal
world, or criminal apologies for a world too real; if, we say, such are
the novels to be condemned and proscribed, none more than ourselves will
be disposed to confirm the sentence. The unhappy influence which
productions like these have exerted over the minds of youth, and above
all, the ravages which their multiplication has within a few years
produced, is a fact acknowledged by all, by those who have escaped the
contagion of their perusal, as well as by those whom that perusal has
injured. With respect to this, the wise and the good are unanimous in
their testimony and their anathemas; it is one of those self-evident
truths, about which an Englishman or a German might still elaborate many
a learned dissertation, but of which we shall take no further notice,
certain that we should only repeat much less forcibly and eloquently,
that which a thousand writers or orators have said before us.

But there is another point of view under which we must consider novels,
or rather the works so called, but which bear, to those which morals and
good taste reprobate, no other resemblance than the name. These are, it
is true, unhappily few in number, and therefore have not been classed by
themselves, but have been comprehended in the common appellation, and
included in the general proscription; like an honest man, who, bearing
the same name as a rogue, partakes with him the odium of his reputation.
But this is an injustice for which we are disposed to claim reparation.

Every work of imagination, in which the author causes ideal personages
to speak, think, and act, according to his pleasure, has been
stigmatised as a _Novel_. But, if we allow this rigorous definition, the
apologue, so dear to the moralist, is a _Novel_, and deserving of
proscription. We will go further; the parable, which also creates its
characters and invents their words and actions, is a _novel_! But who
would dare to call them so? Who would dare profane by this name, those
profound allegories, those holy fables, so excellent in truth, and so
replete with instruction, which God himself has related to man? Finally,
if we peruse the works of the most austere philosophers, and the most
severe moralists, without excepting ecclesiastical writers, we shall
find among them all, pictures of fancy or ideal histories of imaginary
persons, fiction serving as a veil, or rather (we must acknowledge it)
as an apology for truth.

Now, we ask, by what unjust caprice would we condemn in the novelist
that which we admire and applaud in the moralist and philosopher; or
rather, by what title do we interdict to the former the right of being
equally philosophical and moral with the latter? If man were without
weaknesses and society without imperfections, truth would prevail of
itself, and in order to be loved and obeyed, it would need only to be
shown in its unadorned purity and undisguised nakedness. But, from the
beginning of the world, pride has precipitated man into darkness.
Corrupt and blind, a jealous susceptibility is developed in his
character, which continually increases in proportion to his blindness
and corruptions,--that is to say, the deeper he is plunged in darkness,
the more he dreads the light, and it is but by degrees, and under
various disguises, that we can hope ultimately to make him endure its
full blaze.

Besides, fiction, under divers forms, such as fables, apologues, novels,
allegories, and tales, constitutes a large portion of the literature of
every nation; to this we may add the utility, nay, even the necessity of
disguising truth, in order to make it acceptable to our imperfection;
and more than all, the good frequently resulting from these modest
productions ought to stimulate those on whom Heaven has bestowed the
same kind of talent, to employ it in exposing vice and reforming the
corruptions of society.

But if the imperfection and weakness of our hearts render fiction
necessary to us, a similar necessity results from the languor and
inaction of our minds: for in proportion to the extent of public
corruption, individual application of the mind to severe and serious
study diminishes. Insensibly all continued exercise of the powers of his
understanding becomes irksome to man, and he finally considers thought
and _ennui_ to be synonymous terms. This is, without doubt, a deplorable
and alarming symptom of the decline of society; but we are obliged to
confess its existence, and, not possessing the power of changing, we
must submit to its caprices and satisfy its necessities.

Now, whether from instinct or observation, writers appear for some years
past to have generally understood the demands of the age; and throughout
Europe, men of distinguished talents have employed themselves in
answering them. It might be said that Germany, England, Switzerland, and
Italy, have formed as it were a literary alliance, which will probably
endure longer than their _political alliance_. As to France, her
attention has for fifteen years been attracted to literature as well as
to politics; but she has thought it sufficient for her glory to
translate foreign books, and for her prosperity to translate foreign
constitutions.[1]

      [1] In this assertion we do not agree with the critic.
      France, in common with other European nations, has
      unquestionably manifested much curiosity regarding
      foreign literature, and has availed herself of its
      treasures; but, by the original works of her own
      writers, the advantage has been reciprocated,
      particularly in the novels lately produced in Paris by
      such men as M. de Vigny and M. Victor Hugo. The "Notre
      Dame de Paris" of the latter has attained an European
      celebrity, and has accordingly been incorporated in
      the present series of "Standard Novels."--_English
      Ed._

However this may be, the new taste for foreign literature is remarkable.
Numerous works of imagination have appeared simultaneously of an
elevated style and uncommon erudition. The choice, and we may add the
gravity, of the subjects, the importance of the action, the extent of
the developements, and the fidelity of the descriptions, stamp them with
a peculiar character, and oblige us to assign to their authors a
distinct rank among novel writers. Although unequal in merit, they may
be arranged into two classes. The one, beholding how history was
neglected, has endeavoured to restore its influence by reviving our
ancient chronicles, and presenting to us in an elegant undress, the same
characters from whom we avert our eyes, in the magnificent and stiff
accompaniments of their historical costume. The other, less numerous,
but, in our opinion, much more happily inspired, afflicted by the cold
indifference with which the most excellent works on morals and politics
are received, or by the insulting contempt which discards them
altogether, has undertaken to allure and amuse the prejudices of the
age, in order to correct them. In an imaginary picture, they have
specially devoted themselves to describe the great springs of human
action, and to bring prominently forward those traits of character,
those inflexible criticisms on society, which under such a form will
attract attention, when every direct and serious admonition would be
rejected. Now, it is to this class of novel writers that Alessandro
Manzoni essentially belongs.

And here, a great difficulty presents itself; a work of which the action
is so simple, that an analysis of it might be given in half a page, and
yet so rich in beauties, that a volume might be written in its praise;
between these two extremes, the middle path is not easy to find. For, if
we should content ourselves with stating that two villagers, who were
betrothed, and about to be united, had been separated by the menaces of
a rich and titled robber, calumniated, betrayed by a seeming friend, and
aided by the unlooked-for benevolence of an enemy; again persecuted by
the tyranny of the great, and then almost immolated by the tyranny of
the people, and finally delivered by the pestilence itself; if, we
repeat, we confine ourselves to this exposition, we shall have presented
to our readers the abstract of the work; but shall we have given them a
single idea of its beauties?

If, on the contrary, we would enter on an examination of the characters,
and follow them in their developement, what a task we impose on
ourselves! For here, what beauty! what truth! what originality! The
character of Don Abbondio alone would furnish matter for extensive
remark, as it is assuredly one of the most profoundly comic creations of
the genius of romance. A coward by nature, and selfish from habit,
entering the ecclesiastical order only to find in it powerful protection
against future enemies, and a refuge against present terrors, during his
whole life he pursues, without a single deviation, the tyrannical
vocation of _fear_. Ever disturbed by the apprehension of being
disturbed, and giving himself prodigious trouble in order to secure his
tranquillity, the care of his repose takes from him all repose. "_A
friend to all_," is his device, and "_Be quiet_," his habitual reply.
For him, the evil committed in secret is preferable to the good which
might excite dangerous remark. However, at the bottom of his heart, he
still esteems the good and virtuous; as to the wicked, he caresses, and
where there is necessity, flatters them; in every controversy, he deems
the strongest party to be in the right, but his fear of mistake often
prevents him from deciding which _is_ the strongest. In discussions
where he is personally involved, he acts not less prudently; he does not
grant concessions, he does more, he freely offers them, as by so doing
he saves the honour of his authority. Indeed, he does not drop a word
nor risk a gesture, of which he has not previously weighed the
consequences. So that by calculation and foresight, he is prepared for
all, except the performance of duty under circumstances of peril and
difficulty; to this he closes his ears and his eyes, and thus
compromises with the world and his conscience.

And here, let us add, that if any of our readers discover, in this
character, the intention, or even the possibility, of an application
injurious to religion, they understand but little the mind of the
author, which is constantly animated by the most ardent faith, and
imbued, we may say, with its highest inspirations. The curate Abbondio
appears before us chiefly to give greater relief to the sublime figures
of the friar Christopher, and the holy archbishop of Milan, and to
furnish materials for scenes between these three characters, where the
weakness, the cowardice, and the selfishness of the one serves to
brighten, by contrast, the courage, devotion, and heroism of the others.
It is an eminently philosophical conception to portray three men
entering the priesthood from such different motives, in the course of
their long lives, disclosing faithfully in their actions, the sources of
their primitive choice. A lesson indeed! from which we may learn what
religion can do with men, when they obey its laws and devote themselves
to its service, and what men can do with religion, when they subject it
to their caprices, or prostitute it to their interests.

But it is in the conversion of the formidable Unknown, that religion
appears in all its power, and its pontiff in all the majesty of his
benevolence. The interview between these two persons, the one the
terror, the other the beloved of his country; the proud criminal
humbling himself before the most humble of the just; the former
preserving in his profound humiliation the traces of his habitual
wickedness and pride, and the latter, with humility equally profound,
the majestic authority of unsullied virtue. This scene, conceived and
executed with equal genius, combines within itself the deepest interest,
and the highest beauty.

As an illustration of the ingenuity and discernment of the author, we
will offer one remark further; he has placed before us two wicked men;
the one a subaltern robber, a libertine of the second rank, a swaggerer
in debauch, vainer of his vices than jealous of his pleasures. The other
a superior genius, who has measured how far man could descend in crime,
and himself reached its depths, where he governs human corruption as its
sovereign, committing no act of violence without leaving the impression
of his unlimited power and inexorable will. One of these is to be
converted; which will it be? The least guilty? No; coward in vice, where
would he find courage to repent? He will die hardened and impenitent. It
is the grand criminal who will be drawn from the abyss, for he has
descended into it with all his power, and it will need a repentance
proportioned to the measure of his iniquities to restore him to the
favour of his God. There is evinced in this developement, great
knowledge of the human heart, and a very striking revelation of the
mysterious dealings of a just and compassionate God.

We find the same sagacity of observation in other parts of the work; it
appears under an altogether original form in the episode of Gertrude;
irresistibly conducted to the cloister, notwithstanding her
insurmountable repugnance, when she could by a single word free herself
from such a condemnation, dooming her own self to a sacrifice she
detests; yielding without having been conquered; the slave of her very
liberty, and the victim to a voluntary fatality! It is not in a rapid
sketch that we can give an idea of this singular and altogether novel
character. To appreciate its excellence, we must give an attentive
perusal.

But Alessandro Manzoni is not only a skilful painter of individual
portraits, he excels also in grand historical representations. In that
of the plague at Milan, and the famine preceding it, his manner becomes
bolder, his touch more free and majestic, without, however, losing any
of its exquisite delicacy. When he represents an entire people rebelling
against hunger, or vanquished by disease and death, we deeply feel the
horror of the picture, at the same time that an occasional smile is
elicited by the comic genius of the artist, which exercises itself even
amidst the agonies of famine and pestilence, so that, through the grand
design of the exhibition, the delicate touches of the pencil are still
visible, and individual character perceptible through the very depths of
bold and general description; it is Van Dyck painting on the reverse of
one of Michael Angelo's pictures.

We will not take leave of this interesting production without indulging
ourselves in one more observation, which is, that in this succession of
adventures, where appear, by turns or simultaneously, two robber chiefs
and their followers, an unbridled soldiery, a people in rebellion,
famine, and pestilence, all the evil specially resulting to the
virtuous, is the consequence of the cowardice of a single man! What a
lesson may we derive from such a _Novel_!



THE BETROTHED.



CHAPTER I.


That branch of the Lake of Como, which turns toward the south between
two unbroken chains of mountains, presenting to the eye a succession of
bays and gulfs, formed by their jutting and retiring ridges, suddenly
contracts itself between a headland to the right and an extended sloping
bank on the left, and assumes the flow and appearance of a river. The
bridge by which the two shores are here united, appears to render the
transformation more apparent, and marks the point at which the lake
ceases, and the Adda recommences, to resume, however, the name of _Lake_
where the again receding banks allow the water to expand itself anew
into bays and gulfs. The bank, formed by the deposit of three large
mountain streams, descends from the bases of two contiguous mountains,
the one called St. Martin, the other by a Lombard name, _Resegone_, from
its long line of summits, which in truth give it the appearance of a
saw; so that there is no one who would not at first sight, especially
viewing it in front, from the ramparts of Milan that face the north, at
once distinguish it in all that extensive range from other mountains of
less name and more ordinary form. The bank, for a considerable distance,
rises with a gentle and continual ascent, then breaks into hills and
hollows, rugged or level land, according to the formation of the
mountain rocks, and the action of the floods. Its extreme border,
intersected by the mountain torrents, is composed almost entirely of
sand and pebbles; the other parts of fields and vineyards, scattered
farms, country seats, and villages, with here and there a wood which
extends up the mountain side. Lecco, the largest of these villages, and
which gives its name to the district, is situated at no great distance
from the bridge, upon the margin of the lake; nay, often, at the rising
of the waters, is partly embosomed within the lake itself; a large town
at the present day, and likely soon to become a city. At the period of
our story, this village was also fortified, and consequently had the
honour to furnish quarters to a governor, and the advantage of
possessing a permanent garrison of Spanish soldiers, who gave lessons in
modesty to the wives and daughters of the neighbourhood, and toward the
close of summer never failed to scatter themselves through the
vineyards, in order to thin the grapes, and lighten for the rustics the
labours of the vintage. From village to village, from the heights down
to the margin of the lake, there are innumerable roads and paths: these
vary in their character; at times precipitous, at others level; now sunk
and buried between two ivy-clad walls, from whose depth you can behold
nothing but the sky, or some lofty mountain peak; then crossing high and
level tracts, around the edges of which they sometimes wind,
occasionally projecting beyond the face of the mountain, supported by
prominent masses resembling bastions, whence the eye wanders over the
most varied and delicious landscape. On the one side you behold the blue
lake, with its boundaries broken by various promontories and necks of
land, and reflecting the inverted images of the objects on its banks; on
the other, the Adda, which, flowing beneath the arches of the bridge,
expands into a small lake, then contracts again, and holds on its clear
serpentining course to the distant horizon: above, are the ponderous
masses of the shapeless rocks; beneath, the richly cultivated acclivity,
the fair landscape, the bridge; in front, the opposite shore of the
lake, and beyond this, the mountain, which bounds the view.

Towards evening, on the 7th day of November, 1628, Don Abbondio, curate
of one of the villages before alluded to (but of the name of which, nor
of the house and lineage of its curate, we are not informed), was
returning slowly towards his home, by one of these pathways. He was
repeating quietly his office; in the pauses of which he held his closed
breviary in his hand behind his back; and as he went, with his foot he
cast listlessly against the wall the stones that happened to impede his
path; at the same time giving admittance to the idle thoughts that
tempted the spirit, while the lips of the worthy man were mechanically
performing their function; then raising his head and gazing idly around
him, he fixed his eyes upon a mountain summit, where the rays of the
setting sun, breaking through the openings of an opposite ridge,
illumined its projecting masses, which appeared like large and variously
shaped spots of purple light. He then opened anew his breviary, and
recited another portion at an angle of the lane, after which angle the
road continued straight for perhaps seventy paces, and then branched
like the letter Y into two narrow paths; the right-hand one ascended
towards the mountain, and led to the parsonage (_Cura_); that on the
left descended the valley towards a torrent, and on this side the wall
rose out to the height of about two feet. The inner walls of the two
narrow paths, instead of meeting at the angle, ended in a little chapel,
upon which were depicted certain long, sinuous, pointed shapes, which,
in the intention of the artist, and to the eyes of the neighbouring
inhabitants, represented flames, and amidst these flames certain other
forms, not to be described, that were meant for souls in purgatory;
souls and flames of a brick colour, upon a ground of blackish grey, with
here and there a bare spot of plaster. The curate, having turned the
corner, directed, as was his wont, a look toward the little chapel, and
there beheld what he little expected, and would not have desired to see.
At the confluence, if we may so call it, of the two narrow lanes, there
were two men: one of them sitting astride the low wall; his companion
leaning against it, with his arms folded on his breast. The dress, the
bearing, and what the curate could distinguish of the countenance of
these men, left no doubt as to their profession. They wore upon their
heads a green network, which, falling on the left shoulder, ended in a
large tassel, from under which appeared upon the forehead an enormous
lock of hair. Their mustachios were long, and curled at the extremities;
the margin of their doublets confined by a belt of polished leather,
from which were suspended, by hooks, two pistols; a little powder-horn
hung like a locket on the breast; on the right-hand side of the wide and
ample breeches was a pocket, out of which projected the handle of a
knife, and on the other side they bore a long sword, of which the great
hollow hilt was formed of bright plates of brass, combined into a
cypher: by these characteristics they were, at a glance, recognised as
individuals of the class of bravoes.

This species, now entirely extinct, flourished greatly at that time in
Lombardy. For those who have no knowledge of it, the following are a few
authentic records, that may suffice to impart an idea of its principal
characteristics, of the vigorous efforts made to extirpate it, and of
its obstinate and rank vitality.

As early as the 8th of April, 1583, the most illustrious and most
excellent lord Don Charles of Arragon, Prince of Castelvetrano, Duke of
Terranova, Marquis of Avola, Count of Burgeto, High Admiral and High
Constable of Sicily, Governor of Milan, and Captain General of His
Catholic Majesty in Italy, "fully informed of the intolerable misery
which the city of Milan has endured, and still endures, by reason of
bravoes and vagabonds," publishes his decree against them, "declares and
designates all those comprehended in this proclamation to be regarded as
bravoes and vagabonds,----who, whether foreigners or natives, have no
calling, or, having one, do not follow it,----but, either with or
without wages, attach themselves to any knight, gentleman, officer, or
merchant,----to uphold or favour him, or in any manner to molest
others." All such he commands, within the space of six days, to leave
the country; threatens the refractory with the galleys, and grants to
all officers of justice the most ample and unlimited powers for the
execution of his commands. But, in the following year, on the 12th of
April, the said lord, having perceived "that this city still continues
to be filled with bravoes, who have again resumed their former mode of
life; their manners unchanged, and their number undiminished," puts
forth another edict still more energetic and remarkable, in which, among
other regulations, he directs "that any person whatsoever, whether of
this city or from abroad, who shall, by the testimony of two witnesses,
be shown to be regarded and commonly reputed as a bravo, even though no
criminal act shall have been proved against him, may, nevertheless, upon
the sole ground of his reputation, be condemned by the said judges to
the rack for examination; and although he make no confession of guilt,
he shall, notwithstanding, be sentenced to the galleys for the said term
of three years, solely for that he is regarded as, and called a bravo,
as above-mentioned;" and this "because His Excellency is resolved to
enforce obedience to his commands."

One would suppose that at the sound of such denunciations from so
powerful a source, all the bravoes must have disappeared for ever. But
testimony, of no less authority, obliges us to believe directly the
reverse. This testimony is the most illustrious and most excellent lord
Juan Fernandez de Velasco, Constable of Castile, High Chamberlain of His
Majesty, Duke of the city of Freas, Count of Haro and Castelnuovo, Lord
of the house of Velasco, and of that of the Seven Infanti of Lara,
Governor of the State of Milan, &c. On the 5th of June, 1593, he also,
fully informed "how great an injury to the common weal, and how
insulting to justice, is the existence of such a class of men," requires
them anew to quit the country within six days, repeating very nearly the
same threats and injunctions as his predecessor. On the 23d of May,
then, 1598, "having learnt, with no little displeasure, that the number
of bravoes and vagabonds is increasing daily in this state and city, and
that nothing is heard of them but wounds, murders, robberies, and every
other crime, to the commission of which these bravoes are encouraged by
the confidence that they will be sustained by their chiefs and
abettors," he prescribes again the same remedies, increasing the dose,
as is usual in obstinate disorders. "Let every one, then," he concludes,
"carefully beware that he do not, in any wise, contravene this edict;
since, in place of experiencing the mercy of His Excellency, he shall
prove his rigour and his wrath--he being resolved and determined that
this shall be a final and peremptory warning."

But this again did not suffice; and the illustrious and most excellent
lord, the Signor Don Pietro Enriquez de Acevedo, Count of Fuentes,
Captain and Governor of the State of Milan, "fully informed of the
wretched condition of this city and state, in consequence of the great
number of bravoes that abound therein, and resolved wholly to extirpate
them," publishes, on the 5th of December, 1600, a new decree, full of
the most rigorous provisions, and "with firm purpose that in all rigour,
and without hope of remission, they shall be wholly carried into
execution."

We are obliged, however, to conclude that he did not, in this matter,
exhibit the same zeal which he knew how to employ in contriving plots
and exciting enemies against his powerful foe, Henry IV., against whom
history attests that he succeeded in arming the Duke of Savoy, whom he
caused to lose more towns than one; and in engaging in a conspiracy the
Duke of Biron, whom he caused to lose his head. But as regards the
pestilent race of bravoes, it is very certain they continued to increase
until the 22d day of September, 1612; on which day the most illustrious
and most excellent lord Don Giovanni de Mendoza, Marchese de la
Hynojosa, gentleman, & c., Governor, & c., thought seriously of their
extirpation. He addressed to Pandolfo and Marco Tullio Malatesti,
printers of the Royal Chamber, the customary edict, corrected and
enlarged, that they might print it, to accomplish that end. But the
bravoes still survived, to experience, on the 24th December, 1618, still
more terrific denunciations from the most illustrious and most excellent
lord, Don Gomez Suarez de Figueroa, Duke of Feria, Governor, & c.; yet,
as they did not fall even under these blows, the most illustrious and
most excellent lord Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordova, under whose government
we are made acquainted with Don Abbondio, found himself obliged to
republish the usual proclamation against the bravoes, on the 5th day of
October, 1627, that is, a year, a month, and two days previous to the
commencement of our story.

Nor was this the last publication; but of those that follow, as of
matters not falling within the period of our history, we do not think it
proper to make mention. The only one of them to which we shall refer, is
that of the 13th day of February, 1632, in which the most illustrious
and most excellent lord, the Duke of Feria, for the second time
governor, informs us, "that the greatest and most heinous crimes are
perpetrated by those styled bravoes." This will suffice to prove that,
at the time of which we treat, the bravoes still existed.

It appeared evident to Don Abbondio that the two men above mentioned
were waiting for some one, and he was alarmed at the conviction that it
was for himself; for on his appearance, they exchanged a look, as if to
say, "'tis he." Rising from the wall, they both advanced to meet him. He
held his breviary open before him, as though he were employed in reading
it; but, nevertheless, cast a glance upward in order to espy their
movements. Seeing that they came directly toward him, he was beset by a
thousand different thoughts. He considered, in haste, whether between
the bravoes and himself there were any outlet from the road, and he
remembered there was none. He took a rapid survey of his conduct, to
discover if he had given offence to any powerful or revengeful man; but
in this matter, he was somewhat reassured by the consoling testimony of
his conscience. The bravoes draw near, and kept their eyes upon him. He
raised his hand to his collar, as if adjusting it, and at the same time
turned his head round, to see if any one were coming; he could discover
no one. He cast a glance across the low stone wall upon the fields; no
one! another on the road that lay before him; no one, except the
bravoes! What is to be done? Flight was impossible. Unable to avoid the
danger, he hastened to encounter it, and to put an end to the torments
of uncertainty. He quickened his pace, recited a stanza in a louder
tone, did his utmost to assume a composed and cheerful countenance, and
finding himself in front of the two gallants, stopped short. "Signor
Curate," said one of them, fixing his eyes upon him,--

"Your pleasure, sir," suddenly raising his eyes from his book, which he
continued to hold open before him.

"You intend," pursued the other, with the threatening and angry mien of
one who has detected an inferior in an attempt to commit some villany,
"you intend to-morrow to unite in marriage Renzo Tramaglino and Lucy
Mondella."

"That is," said Don Abbondio with a faltering voice, "that is to
say--you gentlemen, being men of the world, are very well aware how
these things are managed: the poor curate neither meddles nor
makes--they settle their affairs amongst themselves, and then--then,
they come to us, as if to redeem a pledge; and we--we are the servants
of the public."

"Mark now," said the bravo in a low voice, but in a tone of command,
"this marriage is not to take place, neither to-morrow, nor at any other
time."

"But, my good sirs," replied Don Abbondio, with the mild and gentle tone
of one who would persuade an impatient listener, "but, my good sirs,
deign to put yourselves in my situation. If the thing depended on
myself--you see plainly, that it does not in the least concern----"

"Hold there," said the bravo, interrupting him, "this matter is not to
be settled by prating. We neither know nor care to know any more about
it. A man once warned--you understand us."

"But, fair sirs, you are too just, too reasonable----"

"But," interrupted the other comrade, who had not before spoken, "but
this marriage is not to be performed, or (with an oath) he who performs
it will not repent of it, because he'll not have time" (with another
oath).

"Hush, hush," resumed the first orator, "the Signor Curate knows the
world, and we are gentlemen who have no wish to harm him if he conducts
himself with judgment. Signor Curate, the most illustrious Signor Don
Roderick, our patron, offers you his kind regards." As in the height of
a midnight storm a vivid flash casts a momentary dazzling glare around
and renders every object more fearful, so did this _name_ increase the
terror of Don Abbondio: as if by instinct, he bowed his head
submissively, and said--

"If it could but be suggested to me."

"Oh! suggested to _you_, who understand Latin!" exclaimed the bravo,
laughing; "it is for you to manage the matter. But, above all, be
careful not to say a word concerning the hint that has been given you
for your good; for if you do, ehem!--you understand--the consequences
would be the same as if you performed the marriage ceremony. But say,
what answer are we to carry in your name to the most illustrious Signor
Don Roderick?"

"My respects----"

"Speak more clearly, Signor Curate."

"That I am disposed, ever disposed, to obedience." And as he spoke the
words he was not very certain himself whether he gave a promise, or only
uttered an ordinary compliment. The bravoes took, or _appeared_ to take
them, in the more serious sense.

"'Tis very well; good night, Signor Curate," said one of them as he
retired, together with his companion. Don Abbondio, who a few minutes
before would have given one of his eyes to avoid the ruffians, was now
desirous to prolong the conversation.

"Gentlemen----" he began, as he shut his book. Without again noticing
him, however, they passed on, singing a loose song, of which we will not
transcribe the words. Poor Don Abbondio remained for a moment, as if
spell-bound, and then with heavy and lagging steps took the path which
led towards his home. The reader will better understand the state of his
mind, when he shall have learned something more of his disposition, and
of the condition of the times in which it was his lot to live.

Don Abbondio was not (as the reader may have perceived) endowed with the
courage of a lion. But from his earliest years he had been sensible that
the most embarrassing situation in those times was that of an animal,
furnished with neither tusks nor talons, at the same time having no wish
to be devoured. The arm of the law afforded no protection to a man of
quiet, inoffensive habits, who had no means of making himself feared.
Not that laws and penalties were wanting for the prevention of private
violence: the laws were most express; the offences enumerated, and
minutely particularised; the penalties sufficiently extravagant; and if
that were not enough, the legislator himself, and, a hundred others to
whom was committed the execution of the laws, had power to increase
them. The proceedings were studiously contrived to free the judge from
every thing that might prevent his passing sentence of condemnation; the
passages we have cited from proclamations against the bravoes, may be
taken as a faithful specimen of these decrees. Notwithstanding this, or,
it may be, in _consequence_ of this, these proclamations, reiterated and
reinforced from time to time, served only to proclaim in pompous
language the impotence of those who issued them; or, if they produced
any immediate effect, it was _that_ of adding to the vexations which the
peaceful and feeble suffered from the disturbers of society. Impunity
was organised and effected in so many ways as to render the
proclamations powerless. Such was the consequence of the sanctuaries and
asylums; and of the privileges of certain classes, partly acknowledged
by the legal power, partly tolerated in silence, or feebly opposed; but
which, in _fact_, were sustained and guarded by almost every individual
with interested activity and punctilious jealousy. Now this impunity,
threatened and assailed, but not destroyed, by these proclamations,
would naturally, at every new attack, employ fresh efforts and devices
to maintain itself. The proclamations were efficient, it is true, in
fettering and embarrassing the honest man, who had neither power in
himself nor protection from others; inasmuch as, in order to reach every
person, they subjected the movements of each private individual to the
arbitrary will of a thousand magistrates and executive officers. But he,
who before the commission of his crime had prepared himself a refuge in
some convent or palace where bailiffs never dared to enter; or who
simply wore a livery, which engaged in his defence the vanity or the
interest of a powerful family; such a one was free in his actions, and
could laugh to scorn every proclamation. Of those very persons whose
part it was to ensure the execution of these decrees, some belonged by
birth to the privileged class, others were its clients and dependants;
and as the latter as well as the former had, from education, from habit,
from imitation, embraced its maxims, they would be very careful not to
violate them. Had they however, been bold as heroes, obedient as monks,
and devoted as martyrs, they could never have accomplished the execution
of the laws, inferior as they were in number to _those_ with whom they
must engage, and with the frequent probability of being abandoned, or
even sacrificed, by him who, in a moment of theoretical abstraction,
might require them to act. But, in addition to this, their office would
be regarded as a base one in public opinion, and their name stamped with
reproach. It was therefore very natural that, instead of risking, nay,
throwing away, their lives in a fruitless attempt, they should sell
their inaction, or, rather, their connivance, to the powerful; or, at
least, exercise their authority only on those occasions when it might be
done with safety to themselves; that is, in oppressing the peaceable and
the defenceless.

The man who acts with violence, or who is constantly in fear of violence
from others, seeks companions and allies. Hence it happened that, during
these times, individuals displayed so strong a tendency to combine
themselves into classes, and to advance, as far as each one was able,
the power of that to which he belonged. The clergy was vigilant in the
defence and extension of its immunities; the nobility, of its
privileges; the military, of its exemptions; the merchants and artisans
were enrolled in companies and fraternities; the lawyers were united in
leagues, and even the physicians formed a corporation. Each of these
little oligarchies had its own appropriate power,--in each of them the
individual found the advantage of employing for himself, in proportion
to his influence and dexterity, the united force of numbers. The more
honest availed themselves of this advantage merely for their defence;
the crafty and the wicked profited by it to assure themselves of success
in their rogueries, and impunity from their results. The strength,
however, of these various combinations was far from being equal; and,
especially in the country, the wealthy and overbearing nobleman, with a
band of bravoes, and surrounded by peasants accustomed to regard
themselves as subjects and soldiers of their lord, exercised an
irresistible power, and set all laws at defiance.

Don Abbondio, neither noble, rich, nor valiant, had from early youth
found himself alone and unaided in such a state of society, like an
earthen vessel thrown amidst iron jars; he therefore readily obeyed his
parents, who wished him to become a priest. He did, to say the truth,
not regard the obligations and the noble ends of the ministry to which
he dedicated himself, but was only desirous to secure the means of
living, and to connect himself with a powerful and respected class. But
no class provided for the individual, or secured his safety, _further_
than to a certain point; none rendered it unnecessary for him to adopt
for himself a system of his own. The system of Don Abbondio consisted
chiefly in shunning all disputes; he maintained an unarmed neutrality in
all the contests that broke out around him;--between the clergy and the
civil power, between persons in office and nobles and magistrates,
bravoes and soldiers, down to the squabbles of the peasantry themselves,
terminated by the fist or the knife. By keeping aloof from the
overbearing, by affecting not to notice their acts of violence, by
bowing low and with the most profound respect to all whom he met, the
poor man had succeeded in passing over sixty years without encountering
any violent storms; not but that he also had some small portion of gall
in his composition; and this continual exercise of patience exacerbated
it to such a degree, that, if he had not had it in his power
occasionally to give it vent, his health must have suffered. But as
there were a few persons in the world connected with himself whom he
knew to be powerless, he could, from time to time, discharge on them his
long pent-up ill-humour. He was, moreover, a severe censor of those who
did not regulate their conduct by his example, provided he could censure
without danger. According to his creed, the poor fellow who had been
cudgelled had been a little imprudent; the murdered man had always been
turbulent; the man who maintained his right against the powerful, and
met with a broken head, must have been somewhat wrong; which is,
perhaps, true enough, for in all disputes the line can never be drawn
so finely as not to leave a little wrong on both sides. He especially
declaimed against those of his confraternity, who, at their own risk,
took part with the oppressed against a powerful oppressor. "This," he
said, "was to purchase trouble with ready money, to kick at snarling
dogs, and an intermeddling in profane things that lowered the dignity of
the sacred ministry." He had, in short, a favourite maxim, that an
honest man, who looked to himself and minded his own affairs, never met
with any rough encounters.

From all that has been said, we may imagine the effect the meeting just
described must have had upon the mind of poor Don Abbondio. Those fierce
countenances, the threats of a lord who was well known not to speak
idly, his plan of quiet life and patient endurance disconcerted in an
instant, a difficulty before him from which he saw no possibility of
extrication; all these thoughts rushed confusedly through his mind. "If
Renzo could be quietly dismissed with a refusal, all would be well; but
he will require reasons--and what can I say to him? he too has a head of
his own; a lamb, if not meddled with--but once attempt to cross him----
Oh!--and raving after that Lucy, as much enamoured as---- Young idiots!
who, for want of something else to do, fall in love, and must be
married, forsooth, thinking of nothing else, never concerning themselves
about the trouble they bring upon an honest man like me. Wretch that I
am! Why should those two scowling faces plant themselves exactly in my
path, and pick a quarrel with me? What have I to do in the matter? Is it
I that mean to wive? Why did they not rather go and speak---- Ah! truly,
that which is to the purpose always occurs to me after the right time:
if I had but thought of suggesting to them to go and bear their
message----" But here he was disturbed by the reflection, that to repent
of not having been the counsellor and abettor of evil, was too
iniquitous a thing; and he therefore turned the rancour of his thoughts
against the individual who had thus robbed him of his tranquillity. He
did not know Don Roderick, except by sight and by report; his sole
intercourse with him had been to touch chin to breast, and the ground
with the corner of his hat, the few times he had met him on the road.
He had, on more than one occasion, defended the reputation of that
Signor against those who, in an under-tone, with sighs and looks raised
to heaven, had execrated some one of his exploits. He had declared a
hundred times that he was a respectable cavalier. But at this moment he,
in his own heart, readily bestowed upon him all those titles to which he
would never lend an ear from another. Having, amidst the tumult of these
thoughts, reached the entrance of his house, which stood at the end of
the little glebe, he unlocked the door, entered, and carefully secured
it within. Anxious to find himself in society that he could trust, he
called aloud, "Perpetua, Perpetua," advancing towards the little parlour
where she was, doubtless, employed in preparing the table for his
supper. Perpetua was, as the reader must be aware, the housekeeper of
Don Abbondio; an affectionate and faithful domestic, who knew how to
obey or command as occasion served; to bear the grumbling and whims of
her master at times, and at others to make him bear with hers. These
were becoming every day more frequent; she had passed the age of forty
in a single state; the consequences, _she_ said, of having refused all
the offers that had been made her; her _female friends_ asserted that
she had never found any one willing to take her.

"Coming," said Perpetua, as she set in its usual place on the little
table the flask of Don Abbondio's favourite wine, and moved slowly
toward the parlour door: before she reached it he entered, with steps so
disordered, looks so clouded, and a countenance so changed, that an eye
less practised than that of Perpetua could have discovered at a glance
that something unusual had befallen him.

"Mercy on me! What is it ails my master?"

"Nothing, nothing," said Don Abbondio, as he sank upon his easy chair.

"How, nothing! Would you have me believe that, looking as you do? Some
dreadful accident has happened."

"Oh! for the love of Heaven! When I say nothing, it is either nothing,
or something I cannot tell."

"That you cannot tell, not even to me? Who will take care of your
health? Who will give you advice?"

"Oh! peace, peace! Do not make matters worse. Give me a glass of my
wine."

"And you will still pretend to me that nothing is the matter?" said
Perpetua, filling the glass, but retaining it in her hand, as if
unwilling to present it except as the reward of confidence.

"Give here, give here," said Don Abbondio, taking the glass with an
unsteady hand, and hastily swallowing its contents.

"Would you oblige me then to go about, asking here and there what it is
has happened to my master?" said Perpetua, standing upright before him,
with her hands on her sides, and looking him steadfastly in the face, as
if to extract the secret from his eyes.

"For the love of Heaven, do not worry me, do not kill me with your
pother; this is a matter that concerns--concerns my life."

"Your life!"

"My life."

"You know well, that, when you have frankly confided in me, I have
never----"

"Yes, forsooth, as when----"

Perpetua was sensible she had touched a false string; wherefore,
changing suddenly her note, "My dear master," said she, in a moving tone
of voice, "I have always had a dutiful regard for you, and if I now wish
to know this affair, it is from zeal, and a desire to assist you, to
give you advice, to relieve your mind."

The truth is, that Don Abbondio's desire to disburden himself of his
painful secret was as great as that of Perpetua to obtain a knowledge of
it; so that, after having repulsed, more and more feebly, her renewed
assaults; after having made her swear many times that she would not
breathe a syllable of it, he, with frequent pauses and exclamations,
related his miserable adventure. When it was necessary to pronounce the
dread name of him from whom the prohibition came, he required from
Perpetua another and more solemn oath: having uttered it, he threw
himself back on his seat with a heavy sigh, and, in a tone of command,
as well as supplication, exclaimed,--

"For the love of Heaven!"--

"Mercy upon me!" cried Perpetua, "what a wretch! what a tyrant! Does he
not fear God?"

"Will you be silent? or do you want to ruin me completely?"

"Oh! we are here alone, no one can hear us. But what will my poor master
do?"

"See there now," said Don Abbondio, in a peevish tone, "see the fine
advice you give me. To ask of me, what I'll do? what I'll do? as if you
were the one in difficulty, and it was for me to help you out!"

"Nay, I could give you my own poor opinion; but then--"

"But--but then, let us know it."

"My opinion would be, that, as every one says our archbishop is a saint,
a man of courage, and not to be frightened by an ugly phiz, and who will
take pleasure in upholding a curate against one of these tyrants; I
should say, and do say, that you had better write him a handsome letter,
to inform him as how----"

"Will you be silent! will you be silent! Is this advice to offer a poor
man? When I get a pistol bullet in my side--God preserve me!--will the
archbishop take it out?"

"Ah! pistol bullets are not given away like sugarplums; and it were
woful if those dogs should bite every time they bark. If a man knows how
to show his teeth, and make himself feared, they hold him in respect: we
should not have been brought to such a pass, if you had stood upon your
rights. Now, all come to us (by your good leave) to----"

"Will you be silent?"

"Certainly; but it is true though, that when the world sees one is
always ready, in every encounter, to lower----"

"Will you be silent? Is this a time for such idle talk?"

"Well, well, you'll think of it to-night; but in the meantime do not be
the first to harm yourself; to destroy your own health: eat a mouthful."

"I'll think of it," murmured Don Abbondio; "certainly I'll think of it.
I _must_ think of it;" and he arose, continuing--"No! I'll take nothing,
nothing; I've something else to do. But, that this should have fallen
upon me----"

"Swallow at least this other little drop," said Perpetua, as she poured
the wine. "You know it always restores your stomach."

"Oh! there wants other medicine than that, other medicine than that,
other medicine than that----"

So saying, he took the light, and muttering, "A pretty business this! To
an honest man like me! And to-morrow, what is to be done?" with other
like exclamations, he went towards his bedchamber. Having reached the
door, he stopped a moment, and before he quitted the room, exclaimed,
turning towards Perpetua, with his finger on his lips--"For the love of
Heaven, be silent!"



CHAPTER II.


It is related that the Prince of Condé slept soundly the night preceding
the battle of Rocroi; but then, he was greatly fatigued, and moreover
had made every arrangement for the morrow. It was not thus with Don
Abbondio; he only knew the morrow would be a day of trouble, and
consequently passed the night in anxious anticipation. He could not for
a moment think of disregarding the menaces of the bravoes, and
solemnising the marriage. To confide to Renzo the occurrence, and
consult with him as to the means--God forbid!--He remembered the warning
of the bravo, "not to say one word"--otherwise, _ahem!_ and this
dreadful _ahem_ of the bravo resounded in the ears of Don Abbondio; so
that he already repented of his communication to Perpetua. To fly was
impossible--and where _could_ he fly? At the thought, a thousand
obstacles presented themselves.--After long and painful deliberation, he
resolved to endeavour to gain time, by giving Renzo some fanciful
reasons for the postponement of the marriage. He recollected that in a
few days more the time would arrive, during which marriages were
prohibited. "And if I can keep this youngster at bay for a few days, I
shall then have two months before me; and in two months who can tell
what may happen?" He thought of various pretexts for his purpose; and
though they were rather flimsy, he persuaded himself that his authority
would give them weight, and that his experience would prevail over the
mind of an ignorant youth. "We will see," said he to himself: "he thinks
of his love, but I think of myself; I am, therefore, the party most
interested; I must call in all my cunning to assist me. I cannot help
it, young man, if you suffer; I must not be the victim." Having somewhat
composed his mind with this determination, he at length fell asleep. But
his dreams, alas! how horrible--bravoes, Don Roderick, Renzo, roads,
rocks, cries, bullets.

The arousing from sleep, after a recent misfortune, is a bitter moment;
the mind at first habitually recurs to its previous tranquillity, but is
soon depressed by the thought of the contrast that awaits it. When alive
to a sense of his situation, Don Abbondio recapitulated the plans of the
night, made a better disposal of them, and after having risen, awaited
with dread and impatience the moment of Renzo's arrival.

Lorenzo, or as he was called, Renzo, did not make him wait long; at an
early hour he presented himself before the curate with the joyful
readiness of one who was on this day to espouse her whom he loved. He
had been deprived of his parents in his youth, and now practised the
trade of a weaver of silk, which was, it might be said, hereditary in
his family. This trade had once been very lucrative; and although now on
the decline, a skilful workman might obtain from it a respectable
livelihood. The continual emigration of the tradesmen, attracted to the
neighbouring states by promises and privileges, left sufficient
employment for those who remained behind. Besides, Renzo possessed a
small farm, which he had cultivated himself when otherwise unoccupied;
so that, for one of his condition, he might be called wealthy: and
although the last harvest had been more deficient than the preceding
ones, and the evils of famine were beginning to be felt; yet, from the
moment he had given his heart to Lucy, he had been so economical as to
preserve a sufficiency of all necessaries, and to be in no danger of
wanting bread. He appeared before Don Abbondio gaily dressed, and with a
joyful countenance. The mysterious and perplexed manner of the curate
formed a singular contrast to that of the handsome young man.

"What is the matter now?" thought Renzo; but without waiting to answer
his own question, "Signor Curate," said he, "I am come to know at what
hour of the day it will be convenient for you that we should be at the
church?"

"Of what day do you speak?"

"How! of what day? do you not remember that this is the day appointed?"

"To-day?" replied Don Abbondio, as if he heard it for the first time,
"to-day? to-day? be patient, I cannot to-day----"

"You cannot to-day? why not?"

"In the first place I am not well----"

"I am sorry for it; but we shall not detain you long, and you will not
be much fatigued."

"But then--but then----"

"But then, what, sir?"

"There are difficulties."

"Difficulties! How can that be?"

"People should be in our situation, to know how many obstacles there are
to these matters; I am too yielding, I think only of removing
impediments, of rendering all things easy, and promoting the happiness
of others. To do this I neglect my duty, and am covered with reproaches
for it."

"In the name of Heaven, keep me not thus in suspense, but tell me at
once what is the matter?"

"Do you know how many formalities are required before the marriage can
be celebrated?"

"I must, indeed, know something of them," said Renzo, beginning to grow
angry, "since you have racked my brains with them abundantly these few
days back. But are not all things now ready? have you not done all there
was to do?"

"All, all, you expect; but be patient, I tell you. I have been a
blockhead to neglect my duty, that I might not cause pain to others;--we
poor curates--we are, as may be said, ever between a hawk and a buzzard.
I pity you, poor young man! I perceive your impatience, but my
superiors----Enough, I have reasons for what I say, but I cannot tell
all--we, however, are sure to suffer."

"But tell me what this other formality is, and I will perform it
immediately."

"Do you know how many obstacles stand in the way?"

"How can I know any thing of obstacles?"

"Error, conditio, votum, cognatis, crimen, cultus disparitas, vis,
ordo.... Si sit affinis...."

"Oh! for Heaven's sake--how should I understand all this Latin?"

"Be patient, dear Renzo; I am ready to do----all that depends on me.
I--I wish to see you satisfied--I wish you well---- And when I think
that you were so happy, that you wanted nothing when the whim entered
your head to be married----"

"What words are these, Signor?" interrupted Renzo, with a look of
astonishment and anger.

"I say, do be patient--I say, I wish to see you happy. In short--in
short, my dear child, I have not been in fault; I did not make the laws.
Before concluding a marriage, we are required to search closely that
there be no obstacles."

"Now, I beseech you, tell me at once what difficulty has occurred?"

"Be patient--these are not points to be cleared up in an instant. There
_will_ be nothing, I hope; but whether or not, we must search into the
matter. The passage is clear and explicit,--'antiquam matrimonium
denunciet----'"

"I'll not hear your Latin."

"But it is necessary to explain to you----"

"But why not do this before? Why tell me all was prepared? Why wait----"

"See there now! to reproach me with my kindness! I have hastened every
thing to serve you; but--but there has occurred----well, well, I
know----"

"And what do you wish that I should do?"

"Be patient for a few days. My dear child, a few days are not eternity;
be patient."

"For how long a time then?"

"We are coming to a good conclusion," thought Don Abbondio. "Come," said
he, gently, "in fifteen days I will endeavour----"

"Fifteen days! Oh! this is something new. To tell me now, on the very
day you yourself appointed for my marriage, that I must wait fifteen
days! Fifteen," resumed he, with a low and angry voice.

Don Abbondio interrupted him, earnestly seizing his hand, and with an
imploring tone beseeching him to be quiet. "Come, come, don't be angry;
for the love of Heaven! I'll see, I'll see if in a week----"

"And what shall I say to Lucy?" said Renzo, softening.

"That it has been a mistake of mine."

"And to the world?"

"Say also it is my fault; that through too great haste I have made some
great blunder: throw all the blame on me. Can I do more than this? Come
in a week."

"And then there will be no further difficulties?"

"When I say a thing----"

"Well, well, I will be quiet for a week; but be assured, I will be put
off with no further excuses:--for the present, I take my leave." So
saying, he departed, making a bow to Don Abbondio less profound than
usual, and giving him a look more expressive than respectful.

With a heavy heart he approached the house of his betrothed, his mind
dwelling on the strange conversation which had just taken place. The
cold and embarrassed reception of Don Abbondio, his constrained and
impatient air, his mysterious hints, all combined to convince him there
was still something he had not been willing to communicate. He stopped
for a moment, debating with himself whether he should not return and
compel him to be more frank; raising his eyes, however, he beheld
Perpetua entering a little garden a few steps distant from the house. He
called to her, quickened his pace, and detaining her at the gate,
endeavoured to enter into discourse with her.

"Good day, Perpetua; I expected to have received your congratulations
to-day."

"But it must be as God pleases, my poor Renzo."

"I want to ask a favour of you: the Signor Curate has offered reasons I
cannot comprehend; will you explain to me the true cause why he is
unable or unwilling to marry us to-day?"

"Oh! you think then that I know the secrets of my master."

"I was right in supposing there was a mystery," thought Renzo. "Come,
come, Perpetua," continued he, "we are friends; tell me what you
know,--help a poor young man."

"It is a bad thing to be born poor, my dear Renzo."

"That is true," replied he, still more confirmed in his
suspicions--"that is true; but it is not becoming in the clergy to
behave unjustly to the poor."

"Hear me, Renzo; I can tell you nothing, because--I know nothing. But I
can assure you my master would not wrong you or any one; and he is not
to blame."

"Who then is to blame?" asked Renzo, carelessly, but listening intently
for a reply.

"I have told you already I know nothing. But I may be allowed to speak
in defence of my master; poor man! if he has erred, it has been through
too great kindness. There are in this world men who are overpowerful,
knavish, and who fear not God."

"Overpowerful! knavish!" thought Renzo; "these cannot be his
superiors."--"Come," said he, with difficulty concealing his increasing
agitation, "come, tell me who it is."

"Ah! you would persuade me to speak, and I must not, because--I know
nothing. I will keep silence as faithfully as if I had promised to do
so. You might put me to the torture, and you could not draw any thing
from me. Adieu! it is lost time for both of us."

Thus saying, she re-entered the garden hastily, and shut the gate. Renzo
turned very softly, lest at the noise of his footsteps she might discern
the road he took: when fairly beyond her hearing, he quickened his
steps, and in a moment was at the door of Don Abbondio's house; he
entered, rushed towards the little parlour where he had left him, and
finding him still there, approached him with a bold and furious manner.

"Eh! eh! what has happened now?" said Don Abbondio.

"Who is this powerful personage?" said Renzo, with the air of one
resolved to obtain an explicit answer; "who is he that forbids me to
marry Lucy?"

"What! what! what!" stammered Don Abbondio, turning pale with surprise.
He arose from his chair, and made an effort to reach the door. But
Renzo, who expected this movement, was upon his guard; and locking the
door, he put the key in his pocket.

"Ah! will you speak now, Signor Curate? Every one knows the affair but
myself; and, by heavens! I'll know it too. Who is it, I say?"

"Renzo, Renzo, for the love of charity, take care what you do; think of
your soul."

"I must know it at once--this moment." So saying, he placed his hand on
his dagger, but perhaps without intending it.

"Mercy!" exclaimed Don Abbondio, in a stifled voice.

"I _must_ know it."

"Who has told you?"

"Come, no more excuses. Speak plainly and quickly."

"Do you mean to kill me?"

"I mean to know that which I have a right to know."

"But if I speak, I die. Must I not preserve my life?"

"Speak, then."

The manner of Renzo was so threatening and decided, that Don Abbondio
felt there was no possibility of disobeying him. "Promise me--swear,"
said he, "never to tell----"

"Tell me, tell me quickly his name, or----"

At this new adjuration, the poor curate, with the trembling look of a
man who feels the instrument of the dentist in his mouth, feebly
articulated, "Don----"

"Don?" replied Renzo, inclining his ear towards him, eager to hear the
rest. "Don?"

"Don Roderick!" muttered he hastily, trembling at the sound that escaped
his lips.

"Ah! dog!" shouted Renzo; "and how has he done it? what has he said to
you to----"

"What? what?" said Don Abbondio, in an almost contemptuous tone, already
gaining confidence by the sacrifice he had made. "I wish you were like
myself, you would then meddle with nothing, and certainly you would not
have had so many whims in your head." He, however, related in terrible
colours the ugly encounter; his anger, which had hitherto been subdued
by fear, displayed itself as he proceeded; and perceiving that Renzo,
between rage and astonishment, remained motionless, with his head bent
down, he continued in a lively manner, "You have made a pretty business
of it, indeed! You have rendered me a notable service. Thus to attack an
honest man, your curate, in his own house! in a sacred place! You have
done a fine thing, truly. To wrest from my mouth, that which I
concealed, from prudence, for your own good. And now that you know it,
what will you do? When I gave you good advice this morning, I had
judgment for you and me; but believe me, this is no jesting matter, no
question of right or wrong, but superior power. At all events, open the
door; give me the key."

"I may have been to blame," replied Renzo with a softened voice, but in
which might be perceived smothered anger towards his concealed enemy, "I
may have been to blame, but if you had been in my situation----" He
drew the key from his pocket, and advanced towards the door.

"Swear to me," said Don Abbondio with a serious and anxious face.

"I may have been to blame--forgive me," replied Renzo, moving to depart.

"Swear first," said Don Abbondio, holding him tremblingly by the arm.

"I may have been to blame," said Renzo, freeing himself from his grasp,
and immediately springing out of the room.

"Perpetua! Perpetua!" cried Don Abbondio, after having in vain called
back the fugitive. Perpetua did not answer. The poor man was so
overwhelmed by his innumerable difficulties, his increasing
perplexities, and so apprehensive of some fresh attack, that he
conceived the idea of securing to himself a safe retreat from them all,
by going to bed and giving out that he had a fever. His malady, indeed,
was not altogether imaginary; the terror of the past day, the anxious
watching of the night, the dread of the future, had combined to
produce really the effect. Weary and stupified, he slumbered in his
large chair, muttering occasionally in a feeble but passionate voice,
"Perpetua."--Perpetua arrived at last with a great cabbage under her
arm, and with as unconcerned a countenance as if nothing had happened.
We will spare the reader the reproaches, the accusations, and denials
that passed between them; it is sufficient that Don Abbondio ordered
Perpetua to bolt the door, not to put her foot outside, and if any one
knocked, to reply from the window that the curate was gone to bed with a
fever. He then slowly ascended the stairs and put himself really in bed,
where we will leave him.

Renzo, meanwhile, with hurried steps, and with a mind unsettled and
distracted as to the course he should pursue, approached his home. Those
who injure others are guilty, not only of the evils they commit, but
also of the effects produced by these evils on the characters of the
injured persons. Renzo was a quiet and peaceful youth, but now his
nature appeared changed, and his thoughts dwelt only on deeds of
violence. He would have run to the house of Don Roderick to assault him
there; but he remembered that it was a fortress, furnished with bravoes
within, and well guarded without; that only those known to be friends
and servants could enter without the minutest scrutiny; and that not
even a tradesman could be seen there without being examined from head to
foot; and he, above all, would be, alas! but too well known. He then
imagined himself placed behind a hedge, with his arquebuss in his hand,
waiting till Roderick should pass by alone; rejoicing internally at the
thought, he pictured to himself an approaching footstep; the villain
appears, he takes aim, fires, and he falls; he exults a moment over his
dying struggles, and then escapes for his life beyond the confines! And
Lucy? This name recalled his wiser and better thoughts: he remembered
the last instructions of his parents; he thought of God, the Holy
Virgin, and the Saints; and he tremblingly rejoiced that he had been
guilty of the deed only in imagination. But how many hopes, promises,
and anticipations did the idea of Lucy suggest? And this day so ardently
desired! How announce to her the dreadful news? And then, what plan to
pursue? How make her his own in spite of the power of this wicked lord?
And now a tormenting suspicion passed through his mind. Don Roderick
must have been instigated to this injury by a brutal passion for Lucy!
And she! He could not for a moment endure the maddening thought that she
had given him the slightest encouragement. But was she not informed of
his designs? Could he have conceived his infamous purpose, and have
advanced so far towards its completion, without her knowledge? And Lucy,
his own beloved, had never uttered a syllable to him concerning it!

These reflections prevailing in his mind, he passed by his own house,
which was situated in the centre of the village, and arrived at that of
Lucy, which was at the opposite extremity. It had a small court-yard in
front, which separated it from the road, and which was encircled by a
low wall. Entering the yard, Renzo heard a confused murmur of voices in
the upper chamber; he rightly supposed it to be the wedding company,
and he could not resolve to appear before them with such a countenance.
A little girl, who was standing at the door, ran towards him, crying
out, "The bridegroom! the bridegroom!" "Hush, Betsy, hush," said Renzo,
"come hither; go to Lucy, and whisper in her ear--but let no one hear
you--whisper in her ear, that I wish to speak with her in the lower
chamber, and that she must come at once." The little girl hastily
ascended the stairs, proud of having a secret commission to execute.
Lucy had just come forth, adorned from the hands of her mother, and
surrounded by her admiring friends. These were playfully endeavouring to
steal a look at the blooming bride; while she, with the timidity of
rustic modesty, attempted to conceal her blushing countenance with her
bending arm, from beneath which a smiling mouth nevertheless appeared.
Her black tresses, parted on her white forehead, were folded up in
multiplied circles on the back of her head, and fastened with pins of
silver, projecting on every side like the rays of the sun: this is still
the custom of the Milanese peasantry. Around her throat she had a
necklace of garnets, alternated with beads of gold filagree; she wore a
boddice embroidered in flowers, the sleeves tied with ribands; a short
petticoat of silk, with numerous minute plaits; crimson stockings, and
embroidered silk slippers. But beyond all these ornaments was the modest
and beautiful joy depicted on her countenance; a joy, however, troubled
by a slight shade of anxiety. The little Betsy intruded herself into the
circle, managed to approach Lucy, and communicated her message. "I shall
return in a moment," said Lucy to her friends, as she hastily quitted
the room. On perceiving the altered and unquiet appearance of Renzo,
"What is the matter?" said she, not without a presentiment of evil.

"Lucy," replied Renzo, "all is at a stand, and God knows whether we
shall ever be man and wife!"

"How!" said Lucy, alarmed. Renzo related briefly the history of the
morning; she listened with anguish: when he uttered the name of Don
Roderick, "Ah!" exclaimed she, blushing and trembling, "has it then come
to this?"

"Then you knew!" said Renzo.

"Too well," replied Lucy.

"What did you know?"

"Do not make me speak now, do not make me weep! I'll call my mother and
dismiss the company. We must be alone."

As she departed, Renzo whispered, "And you have never spoken of it to
me!"

"Ah, Renzo!" replied Lucy, turning for a moment to gaze at him.

He understood well what this action meant; it was as if she had said,
"Can you doubt me?"

Meanwhile the good Agnes (so the mother of Lucy was called) had
descended the stairs, to ascertain the cause of her daughter's
disappearance. She remained with Renzo; while Lucy returned to the
company, and, assuming all the composure she could, said to them, "The
Signor Curate is indisposed, and the wedding cannot take place to-day."
The ladies departed, and lost no time in relating amongst the gossips of
the neighbourhood all that had occurred, while they made particular
enquiries respecting the reality of Don Abbondio's sickness. The truth
of this cut short the conjectures which they had already begun to
intimate by brief and mysterious hints.



CHAPTER III.


Lucy entered the lower room as Renzo was sorrowfully informing Agnes of
that, to which she as sorrowfully listened. Both turned towards her from
whom they expected an explanation which could not but be painful; the
suspicions of both were, however, excited in the midst of their grief,
and the displeasure they felt towards Lucy differed only according to
their relative situation. Agnes, although anxious to hear her daughter
speak, could not avoid reproaching her--"To say nothing to thy mother!"

"Now, I will tell you all," said Lucy, wiping her eyes with her apron.

"Speak, speak!" cried at once her mother and her lover.

"Holy Virgin!" exclaimed Lucy, "that it should come to this!"--and with
a voice interrupted by tears, she related that a few days previously, as
she returned from weaving, and was loitering behind her companions, Don
Roderick came up with her, in company with another gentleman; that the
former sought to engage her in idle conversation; that she quickened her
pace, without lending him an ear, and rejoined her companions; in the
mean while she heard the other gentleman laugh, and Don Roderick say,
"I'll lay a wager with you." The day following, on their return, they
met them again, but Lucy kept in the midst of her companions, with her
head down; the other gentleman burst into laughter, and Don Roderick
said, "We will see, we will see." "Happily for me," continued Lucy,
"this day was the last of the weaving. I related the adventure
immediately----"

"To whom didst thou relate it?" asked Agnes quickly, indignant at the
idea of any one being preferred before her as a confidant.

"To Father Christopher, in confession, mamma," replied Lucy, in a tone
of apology. "I told him all, the last time you and I went to the church
of the convent; you may perhaps recollect my contrivances for delay on
that morning, until there should pass some villagers in whose company we
might go into the street; because I was so afraid----"

The indignation of Agnes subsided at once, at the mention of a name so
revered as Father Christopher's. "Thou didst well, my child," said she;
"but why not tell it also to thy mother?"

For this, Lucy had had two very good reasons; the one, a desire not to
disturb and frighten her mother with a circumstance she could not have
prevented; the other, the dread of placing a secret, which she wished to
be buried in her own bosom in danger of becoming known to all the
village: of these two reasons she only alleged the first.

"And could I," said she, turning to Renzo, in a gentle and reproachful
voice, "could I speak to you of this?--Alas! that you should know it
now!"

"And what did the Father say to you?" asked Agnes.

"He told me to endeavour to hasten my nuptials, and in the mean while to
keep myself within doors; to pray much to God; and he hoped that if Don
Roderick should not see me, he would cease to think of me. And it was
then," continued she, turning again towards Renzo, without, however,
raising her eyes, and blushing deeply, "it was then that I compelled
myself, at the risk of appearing very forward, to request you to
conclude the marriage before the appointed time. Who can tell what you
must have thought of me? But I did it for the best, and from advice--and
this morning I little thought----" She could articulate no longer, and
burst into a flood of tears.

"Ah! the scoundrel! the villain!" exclaimed Renzo, pacing the room in a
violent paroxysm of rage. He stopped suddenly before Lucy, regarded her
with a countenance agitated by various passions, and said, "This is the
last wicked deed this wretch will perform."

"Ah! no, Renzo, for the love of Heaven!" cried Lucy; "no, no, for the
love of Heaven! There is a God who watches over the oppressed; but do
you think he will protect us if we do evil?"

"No, no, for the love of Heaven!" repeated Agnes.

"Renzo," said Lucy, with a more resolved and tranquil air, "you have a
trade, and I know how to work: let us go away into some distant place,
that he may hear of us no more."

"Ah, Lucy! but we are not yet man and wife! If we were married, then,
indeed----" Lucy relapsed into tears, and all three remained silent; the
deep despondency of their countenances formed a mournful contrast to the
festive character of their dress.

"Hear me, my children; listen to me," said Agnes, after a few moments;
"I came into the world before you, and I know it a little better than
you do. The devil is not so frightful as they paint him. To us poor
people the skeins appear more entangled, because we do not know where
to look for the end; but sometimes advice from a learned man----I know
what I mean to say.--Do as I tell you, Renzo; go to Lecco; find the
Doctor _Azzecca Garbugli_[2]; relate to him----But you must not call him
by this name--it is a nick-name. Say to the doctor----what do they call
him? Oh dear! I can't think of his real name, every one calls him
_Azzecca Garbugli_. Well, well, find this tall, stiff, bald doctor, with
a red nose, and a face as red----"

      [2] Seek quarrel.

"I know the man by sight," said Renzo.

"Well, very well," continued Agnes, "there's a man for you! I have seen
more than one troubled wretch who did not know which way to turn
himself; I have known him remain an hour with the Doctor _Azzecca
Garbugli_ (be careful you don't call him so), and go away laughing at
himself for his uneasiness. Take with you these fowls; I expected to
have wrung their necks, poor little things! for the banquet of to-night;
however, carry them to him, because one must never go empty-handed to
these gentlemen. Relate to him all that has happened, and he will tell
you at once that which would never enter our heads in a year."

Renzo and Lucy approved of this advice; Agnes, proud of having given it,
with great complacency took the poor fowls one by one from the coop,
tied their legs together as if she were making a nosegay, and consigned
them to his hands. After having exchanged words of hope, he departed,
avoiding the high road and crossing the fields, so as not to attract
notice. As he went along, he had leisure to dwell on his misfortunes,
and revolve in his mind his anticipated interview with the Doctor
_Azzecca Garbugli_. I leave the reader to imagine the condition of the
unfortunate fowls swinging by the legs with their heads downwards in the
hands of a man agitated by all the tumults of passion; and whose arm
moved more in accordance with the violence of his feelings, than with
sympathy for the unhappy animals whose heads became conscious of sundry
terrific shocks, which they resented by pecking at one another,--a
practice too frequent with companions in misfortune.

He arrived at the village, asked for the house of the doctor, which
being pointed out to him, he proceeded thither. On entering, he
experienced the timidity so common to the poor and illiterate at the
near approach to the learned and noble; he forgot all the speeches he
had prepared, but giving a glance at the fowls, he took courage. He
entered the kitchen, and demanded of the maid servant, "If he could
speak with the Signor Doctor?" As if accustomed to similar gifts, she
immediately took the fowls out of his hand, although Renzo drew them
back, wishing the doctor to know that it was he who brought them. The
doctor entered as the maid was saying, "Give here, and pass into the
study." Renzo bowed low to him; he replied with a kind "Come in, my
son," and led the way into an adjoining chamber. This was a large room,
on the three walls of which were distributed portraits of the twelve
Cæsars, while the fourth was covered with a large bookcase of old and
dusty books; in the middle stood a table laden with memorials, libels,
and proclamations, with three or four seats around; on one side of it
was a large arm-chair with a high and square back, terminated at each
corner by ornaments of wood in the fashion of horns; the nails which had
fallen out here and there from its leathern covering, left the corners
of it at liberty to roll themselves up in all directions. The doctor was
in his morning gown, that is, enveloped in a faded toga, which had
served him long since to appear in at Milan, on some great occasion. He
closed the door, and encouraged the young man with these words: "My son,
tell me your case."

"I wish to speak a word to you in confidence."

"Well, say on," replied the doctor, as he seated himself in the
arm-chair. Renzo stood before the table twirling his hat in his hand,
and began, "I wish to know from one as learned as yourself----"

"Tell me the affair just as it is," interrupted the doctor, "in as few
words as possible."

"You must pardon me, Signor Doctor; we poor people know not how to speak
to such as you are. I wish then to know----"

"Bless the people! they are all alike; instead of relating facts, they
ask questions; and that because their own opinions are already settled!"

"Excuse me, Signor Doctor. I wish, then, to know if there is a
punishment for threatening a curate, to prevent him from performing a
marriage ceremony?"

"I understand," said the doctor, who in truth had _not_ understood--"I
understand." And suddenly assuming an air of seriousness and importance,
"A serious case, my son--a case contemplated. You have done well to come
to me; it is a clear case, noticed in a hundred proclamations, and in
one, of the year just elapsed, by the actual governor. You shall see,
you shall see! Where can it be?" said he, plunging his hand amidst the
chaos of papers; "it must surely be here, as it is a decree of great
importance. Ah! here it is, here it is!" He unfolded it, looked at the
date, and with a serious face exclaimed, "Fifteenth of October, 1627.
Yes, yes, this is it; a new edict; these are those which cause
terror--Do you know how to read, my son?"

"A little, Signor Doctor."

"Well now, come behind me, and you will see for yourself."

Holding the proclamation extended before him, he began to read,
stammering rapidly over some passages, and pausing distinctly with great
expression on others, according to the necessity of the case.

"_Although by the proclamation published by order of the Signor Duke di
Feria, on the 14th of December, 1620, and ratified by the most
illustrious, and most excellent lord, Signor Gonsalez Fernandez de
Cordova,_ &c. &c.--_had by extraordinary and rigorous remedies provided
against the oppressions, exactions, and other tyrannical acts committed
against the devoted vassals of His Majesty; the frequency of the
excesses, however,_ &c. &c., _has arrived at such a point that His
Excellency is under the necessity,_ &c. &c._--wherefore, with the
concurrence of the Senate and Convention,_ &c. &c._--has resolved to
publish the present decree." "And from the tyrannical acts which the
skill of many in the villages, as well as in the cities._"--"Do you
hear"--umph--"_exact and oppress the weak in various ways, making
violent contracts of purchase, of rent,_ &c."--"Where is it? Ah! here it
is, listen, listen,"--"_who, whether matrimony follow or not_."

"Ah! that's my case!" said Renzo.

"Listen, listen, here is more; now we will find the punishment."
Umph--"_that they leave the place of their abode_, &c. &c.--_that if one
pays a debt he must not be molested_." "All this has nothing to do with
us. Ah! here it is!" "_the priest refusing to do that to which he is
obliged by his office_,"--"Eh?"

"It appears the proclamation was made purposely for me."

"Ah! is it not so? listen, listen." "_And other similar oppressions
which flow from the vassals, nobility, middle and lower classes._" "None
escape, they are all here--it is like the valley of Jehoshaphat. Hear
now the penalty." "_For all these and other similar evil deeds, which
having been prohibited, it is nevertheless necessary to exact with
rigour_, &c.--_His Excellency, not annulling, orders and commands, that
whoever the offenders be, they shall be subjected to pecuniary and
corporal punishment--to banishment, the galleys, or to death_," "a mere
trifle!" "_at the will of His Excellency, or of the Senate. And from
this there is no escape_, &c. &c." "And see here the signature,"
"_Gonsalez Fernandez de Cordova_;" "and lower down," "_Platonas_;" "and
here again"--"_Videt Ferrar_," "nothing is wanting." Whilst the doctor
was reading, Renzo had kept his eyes on the paper, seeking to ascertain
for himself its real meaning. The doctor, perceiving his new client more
attentive than dismayed, marvelled greatly. "He must be enrolled as one
of the bravoes," said he to himself; "Ah! ah!" exclaimed he, addressing
Renzo, "you have shaved off the long lock! Well, well, it was prudent;
but placing yourself in my hands, you need not have done so. The case is
a serious one--you can have no idea how much resolution is required to
conduct these matters wisely."

To understand this mistake of the doctor's, it should be known, that the
bravoes by profession used to wear a long lock of hair, which they
pulled over the face as a mask in enterprises that required prudence as
well as strength. The proclamation had not been silent with regard to
this custom.

"_His Excellency commands, that whosoever shall wear hair of such a
length as to cover the forehead to the eyebrows, will incur the penalty
of a fine of three hundred crowns; in case of incapability of payment,
three years in the galleys for the first offence; and for the second, in
addition to the aforesaid, greater punishments still, at the will of His
Excellency._" The long lock had become a distinctive mark of the loose
and disorderly.

"Indeed, indeed," replied Renzo, "I have never worn a long lock in my
life."

"I can do nothing," replied the doctor, shaking his head, with a knowing
and rather impatient smile, "nothing, if you do not trust me. He who
utters falsehoods to the doctor is a fool who will tell the truth to the
judge. It is necessary to relate things plainly to the lawyer, but it
rests with us to render them more intricate. If you wish me to help you,
you must tell all from beginning to end, as to your confessor: you must
name the person who commissioned you to do the deed; doubtless he is a
person of consequence; and, considering this, I will go to his house to
perform an act of duty. I will not betray you at all, be assured; I will
tell him I come to implore his protection for a poor calumniated youth;
and we will together use the necessary means to finish the affair in a
satisfactory manner. You understand; in securing himself, he will
likewise secure you. If, however, the business has been all your own, I
will not withdraw my protection: I have extricated others from worse
difficulties; provided you have not offended a person of
_consequence_;--you understand--I engage to free you from all
embarrassment, with a little expense--you understand. As to the curate,
if he is a person of judgment, he will keep his own counsel; if he is a
fool, we will take care of him. One may escape clear out of every
trouble; but for this, a _man_, a _man_ is necessary. Your case is a
very, very serious one--the edict speaks plainly; and if the thing
rested between you and the law, to be candid, it would go hard with you.
If you wish to pass smoothly--money and obedience!"

Whilst the doctor poured forth this rhapsody, Renzo had been regarding
him with mute astonishment, as the countryman watches the juggler, whom
he sees cramming his mouth with handful after handful of tow; when, lo!
he beholds immediately drawn forth from the same mouth a never-ending
line of riband. When at last he perceived his meaning, he interrupted
him with, "Oh! Signor Doctor, how you have misunderstood me! the matter
is directly the reverse; I have threatened no one--not I--I never do
such things; ask my companions, all of them, and they will tell you I
never had any thing to do with the law. The injury is mine, and I have
come to you to know how I can obtain justice, and am well satisfied to
have seen this proclamation."

"The devil!" exclaimed the doctor, opening wide his eyes; "what a cock
and a bull story you have made! So it is; you are all alike: is it
possible you can't tell a plain fact?"

"But, Signor Doctor, you must pardon me, you have not given me time; now
I will tell you all. Know, then, that I was to have been married
to-day"--and here his voice trembled--"was to have been married to-day
to a young person to whom I have been some time betrothed; to-day was
the day fixed upon by the Signor Curate, and every thing was in
readiness. The Signor Curate began to make excuses--and--not to weary
you--I compelled him to tell me the cause; and he confessed that he had
been forbidden, on pain of death, to perform the ceremony. This powerful
Don Roderick----"

"Eh!" hastily interrupted the doctor, contracting his brow and wrinkling
his red nose, "away with you; what have I to do with these idle stories?
Tell them to your companions, and not to one of my condition. Begone; do
you think I have nothing to do but listen to tales of this sort----"

"I protest----"

"Begone, I say; what have I to do with your protestations? I wash my
hands from them!" and pacing the room, he rubbed his hands together, as
if really performing that act. "Hereafter learn when to speak; and do
not take a gentleman by surprise."

"But hear me, hear me," vainly repeated Renzo.

The doctor, still growling, pushed him towards the door, set it wide
open, called the maid, and said to her, "Return this man immediately
what he brought, I will have nothing to do with it." The woman had never
before been required to execute a similar order, but she did not
hesitate to obey; she took the fowls and gave them to Renzo with a
compassionate look, as if she had said, "You certainly have made some
very great blunder." Renzo wished to make apologies; but the doctor was
immovable. Confounded, therefore, and more enraged than ever, he took
back the fowls and departed, to render an account of the ill success of
his expedition.

At his departure, Agnes and Lucy had exchanged their nuptial robes for
their humble daily habits, and then, sorrowful and dejected, occupied
themselves in suggesting fresh projects. Agnes expected great results
from Renzo's visit to the doctor; Lucy thought that it would be well to
let Father Christopher know what had happened, as he was a man who would
not only advise, but assist whenever he could serve the unfortunate;
Agnes assented, but how was it to be accomplished? the convent was two
miles distant, and at this time _they_ certainly could neither of them
hazard a walk thither. Whilst they were weighing the difficulties, some
one knocked at the door, and they heard a low but distinct _Deo
Gracias_. Lucy, imagining who it was, hastened to open it; and, bowing
low, there entered a capuchin collector of contributions, with his
wallet swung over his left shoulder. "Oh! brother Galdino!" said Agnes.
"The Lord be with you," said the brother; "I come for your contribution
of nuts."

"Go, get the nuts for the fathers," said Agnes. Lucy obeyed; but before
she quitted the room, she gave her mother a kind and impressive look, as
much as to say, "Be secret."

The capuchin, looking significantly at Agnes, said, "And the wedding? It
was to have taken place to-day; what has happened?"

"The curate is sick, and we are obliged to defer it," replied the dame,
in haste; "but what success in the contributions?" continued she,
anxious to change the subject, which she would willingly have prolonged,
but for Lucy's earnest look.

"Very poor, good dame, very poor. This is all," said he, swinging the
wallet from his shoulder--"this is all; and for this I have been obliged
to knock at ten doors."

"But the year is a scarce one, brother Galdino, and when we have to
struggle for bread, our alms are necessarily small."

"If we wish abundance to return, my good dame, we must give alms. Do you
not know the miracle of the nuts, which happened many years ago in our
convent of Romagna?"

"No, in truth; tell me."

"Well you must know, then, that in this convent there was one of our
fathers who was a saint; he was called Father Macario. One winter's day,
passing by a field of one of our patrons,--a worthy man he was,--he saw
him standing near a large nut tree, and four peasants with their axes
raised to level it to the ground. 'What are you doing to the poor tree?'
demanded father Macario. 'Why, father, it is unfruitful, and I am about
to cut it down.' 'Do not do so, do not do so,' said the father; 'I tell
you that next year it will bear more nuts than leaves. The master
ordered the workmen to throw at once the earth on the roots which had
been already bared; and, calling after the Father Macario, said, 'Father
Macario, the half of the crop shall be for the convent.' The prediction
was noised about, and every one went to look at the tree. In fact, when
spring arrived, there were flowers in abundance, and afterwards nuts in
abundance! But there was a greater miracle yet, as you shall hear. The
owner, who, before the nut season, was called hence to enjoy the fruits
of his charity, left a son of a very different character from himself.
Now, at the time of harvest, the collector went to receive his appointed
portion; but the son affected entire ignorance, and presumptuously
replied, he never had understood that the capuchins knew how to make
nuts. Now guess what happened then. One day he had invited to dinner
some friends, and, making merry, he amused them with the story of the
nuts; they desired to visit his granary, to behold his abundance; he led
the way, advanced towards the corner where they had been placed,
looked--and what do you think he saw?--a heap of dry nut leaves! Was not
this a miracle? And the convent gained, instead of suffering loss; the
profusion of nuts bestowed upon it in consequence was so great, that one
of our patrons, compassionating the poor collector, gave him a mule to
assist in carrying them home. And so much oil was made, that it was
freely given to the poor; like the sea, which receives waters from every
part, and distributes abundantly to the rivers."

Lucy now reappeared with her apron so loaded with nuts, that she could
with difficulty support the burthen. Whilst Friar Galdino untied his
wallet to receive them, Agnes cast an astonished and displeased glance
at her for her prodigality; she returned it with a look which seemed to
say, "I will satisfy you." The friar was liberal of thanks, and,
replacing his wallet, was about to depart, when Lucy called him back. "I
wish you to do me a service," said she; "I wish you to say to Father
Christopher that I have a great desire to speak with him, and request
him to have the goodness to come hither immediately, as it is impossible
for me to go to the convent."

"Willingly; an hour shall not elapse before Father Christopher shall be
informed of your wish."

"I rely on you."

"Trust me," said he, "I will be faithful," and moved off, bending under
the increased weight of his wallet. We must not suppose, from the
readiness with which Lucy sent this request to Father Christopher, and
the equal readiness of Father Galdino to carry it, that the father was a
person of no consequence; on the contrary, he was a man of much
authority amongst his companions, and throughout all the neighbourhood.
To serve the feeble, and to be served by the powerful; to enter the
palace and the hut; to be at one time a subject of pastime, and at
another regarded with profound respect; to seek alms, and to bestow
them;--to all these vicissitudes a capuchin was well accustomed. The
name of _Friar_, at this period, was uttered with the greatest respect,
and with the most bitter contempt; of both of which sentiments, perhaps,
the capuchins were, more than any other order, the objects. They
possessed no property, wore a coarser habit than others, and made a more
open profession of humility; they therefore exposed themselves, in a
greater degree, to the veneration or the scorn which might result from
the various characters among men.

The Friar Galdino being gone, "Such a quantity of nuts!" exclaimed
Agnes, "and in a year of scarcity!"--"I beg pardon," replied Lucy; "but
if we had been as penurious as others in our charity, who can tell how
long the friar would have been in reaching home, or, amongst all the
gossipings, whether he would have remembered----"

"True, true, it was a good thought; and besides, charity always produces
good fruit," said Agnes, who, with all her defects, was a kind-hearted
woman, and would have sacrificed every thing she had in the world for
the sake of her child, in whom she had reposed all her happiness.

Renzo entered at this moment, with an angry and mortified countenance.
"Pretty advice you gave me!" said he to Agnes. "You sent me to a fine
man, indeed! to one truly who aids the distressed!" And he briefly
related his interview with the doctor. The dame, astonished at the
issue, endeavoured to prove that the advice was good, and that the
failure must have been owing to Renzo himself. Lucy interrupted the
debate, by informing him of her message to Father Christopher: he seized
with avidity the new hopes inspired by the expectation of assistance
from so holy a man. "But if the father," said he, "should not extricate
us from our difficulties, I will do it myself by some means or other."
Both mother and daughter implored him to be patient and prudent.

"To-morrow," said Lucy, "Father Christopher will certainly be here, and
he will no doubt suggest to us some plan of action which we ourselves
would not have thought of in a year."

"I hope so," said Renzo; "but if not, I will obtain redress, or find
another to do it for me; for surely there must be justice to be had in
the world."

Their mournful conversation might have continued much longer, but
approaching night warned him to depart.

"Good night!" said Lucy mournfully, to Renzo, who could hardly resolve
to go.

"Good night!" replied he, yet more sadly.

"Some saint will watch over us," said she. "Be patient and prudent." The
mother added some advice of the like nature. But the disappointed
bridegroom, with a tempest in his heart, left them, repeating the
strange proposition--"Surely, there's justice in the world." So true is
it that, under the influence of great misfortune, men no longer know
what they say.



CHAPTER IV.


The sun had not yet risen above the horizon, when Father Christopher
left the convent of Pescarenico, to go to the cottage where he was so
anxiously expected. Pescarenico is a small hamlet on the left bank of
the Adda, or, rather, of the Lake, a few steps below the bridge; a group
of houses, inhabited for the most part by fishermen, and adorned here
and there with nets spread out to dry. The convent was situated (the
building still subsists) at a short distance from them, half way between
Lecco and Bergamo.

The sky was clear and serene. As the sun rose behind the mountain, its
rays brightened the opposite summits, and thence rapidly spread
themselves over the declivities and valleys; a light autumn breeze
played through the leaves of the mulberry trees, and brought them to the
ground. The vineyards were still brilliant with leaves of various hues;
and the newly made nets appeared brown and distinct amid the fields of
stubble, which were white and shining with the dew. The scene was
beautiful; but the misery of the inhabitants formed a sad contrast to
it. At every moment you met pale and ragged beggars, some grown old in
the trade, others youthful, and induced to it from extreme necessity.
They passed quietly by Father Christopher, and although they had nothing
to hope from him, since a capuchin never touches money, they bowed low
in thanks for the alms they had received, or might hereafter receive at
the convent. The spectacle of the labourers scattered in the fields was
still more mournful; some were sowing thinly and sparingly their seed,
as if hazarding that which was too precious; others put the spade into
the earth with difficulty, and wearily turned up the clods. The pale and
sickly child was leading the meagre cattle to the pasture ground, and as
he went along plucked carefully the herbs found in his path, as food for
his family. This melancholy picture of human misery increased the
sadness of Father Christopher, who, when he left the convent, had been
filled with presentiments of evil.

But why did he feel so much for Lucy? And why, at the first notice, did
he hasten to her with as much solicitude as if he had been sent for by
the Father Provincial. And who was this Father Christopher? We must
endeavour to satisfy all these enquiries.

Father Christopher, of ----, was a man nearer sixty than fifty years of
age. His head was shaven, with the exception of the band of hair allowed
to grow round it like a crown, as was the custom of the capuchins; the
expression of his countenance was habitually that of deep humility,
although occasionally there passed over it flashes of pride and
inquietude, which were, however, succeeded by a deeper shade of
self-reproach and lowliness. His long grey beard gave more character to
the shape of the upper part of his head, on which habitual abstinence
had stamped a strong expression of gravity. His sunken eyes were for the
most part bent to the earth, but brightened at times with unexpected
vivacity, which he ever appeared to endeavour to repress. His name,
before entering the convent, had been Ludovico; he was the son of a
merchant of ----, who, having accumulated great wealth, had renounced
trade in the latter part of his life, and having resolved to live like a
gentleman, he studied every means to cause his former mode of life to
be forgotten by those around him. He could not, however, forget it
himself; the shop, the goods, the day-book, the yard measure, rose to
his memory, like the shade of Banquo to Macbeth, amidst the pomp of the
table and the smiles of his parasites; whose continual effort it was to
avoid any word which might appear to allude to the former condition of
the host. Ludovico was his only child: he caused him to be nobly
educated, as far as the laws and customs permitted him to do so; and
died, bequeathing him a splendid fortune. Ludovico had contracted the
habits and feelings of a gentleman, and the flatterers who had
surrounded him from infancy had accustomed him to the greatest deference
and respect. But he found the scene changed when he attempted to mingle
with the nobility of the city; and that in order to live in their
company he must school himself to patience and submission, and bear with
contumely on every occasion. This agreed neither with his education nor
his disposition. He retired from them in disgust, but unwillingly,
feeling that such should naturally have been his companions; he then
resolved to outdo them in pomp and magnificence, thereby increasing the
enmity with which they had already regarded him. His open and violent
nature soon engaged him in more serious contests: he sincerely abhorred
the extortions and injuries committed by those to whom he had opposed
himself; he therefore habitually took part with the weak against the
powerful, so that by degrees he had constituted himself the defender of
the oppressed, and the vindicator of their wrongs. The office was
onerous; and fruitful in evil thoughts, quarrels, and enmities against
himself. But, besides this external warfare, he perhaps suffered still
more from inward conflicts; for often, in order to compass his objects,
he was obliged to adopt measures of circumvention and violence, which
his conscience disapproved. He was under the painful necessity of
keeping in pay a band of ruffians for his own security, as well as to
aid him in his enterprises; and for these purposes he was necessarily
obliged to select the boldest, that is, the vilest, and to live with
vagabonds from a love of justice; so that, disgusted with the world and
its conflicts, he had many times seriously thought of entering some
monastery, and retiring from it for ever. Such intentions were more
strongly entertained on the failure of some of his enterprises, or the
perception of his own danger, or the annoyance of his vicious
associates, and would probably have still continued _intentions_, but
for one of the most serious and terrible events of his hazardous mode of
life.

He was walking one day through the streets of the city, accompanied by a
former shopman, who had been transformed by his father into a steward,
followed by two bravoes. The name of the shopman was Christopher; he was
a man about fifty years of age, devoted to the master whom he had tended
in infancy, and upon whose liberality he supported himself, his wife,
and a large family of children. Ludovico saw a gentleman approaching at
a distance, with whom he had never spoken in his life, but whom he hated
for his arrogance and pride, which hatred the other cordially returned.
He had in his train four bravoes; he advanced with a haughty step, and
an expression of insolence and disdain on his countenance. It was
Ludovico's right, being on the left side, to pass nearest the wall,
according to the custom of the day, and every one was tenacious of this
privilege. As they met they stopped face to face, like two figures on a
bass relief, neither of them being disposed to yield to the other. The
gentleman, eyeing Ludovico proudly and imperiously, said, with a
corresponding tone of voice, "Pass on the outside."

"Pass there yourself," replied Ludovico, "the street is mine."

"With persons of your condition the street is always mine."

"Yes, if your arrogance were a law to others."

The attendants of each stood still, with their hands on their daggers,
prepared for battle. The passers-by retreated to a distance to watch the
event.

"Pass on, vile mechanic, or I will teach you the civility due to a
gentleman."

"You lie; I am not vile."

"Ha! Do you give me the lie? If you were a gentleman I would soon settle
matters with my sword."

"You are a coward also, or you would not hesitate to support by deeds
the insolence of your words."

"Throw this rascal in the dirt," said the gentleman, turning to his
followers.

"Let us see who will dare to do so," said Ludovico, stepping back and
laying his hand on his sword.

"Rash man," cried the other, unsheathing his own, "I will break this in
pieces when it shall have been stained with your base blood."

They rushed violently on each other; the servants of both sprang to the
defence of their masters. The combat was unequal in numbers, and also
unequal from Ludovico's desire to defend himself rather than to wound
his enemy; whilst the latter intended nothing less than murder. Ludovico
was warding off the dagger of one of the bravoes, after having received
a slight scratch on the cheek, when his enemy thrust at him from behind;
Christopher, seeing his master's peril, went to his assistance; upon
this the anger of the enraged cavalier was turned against the shopman,
and he thrust him through the heart with his sword. Ludovico, as if
beside himself at the sight, buried his weapon in the breast of the
murderer, who fell almost at the same instant with the poor Christopher!
The attendants of the gentleman, beholding him on the ground, took to
flight; and Ludovico found himself alone, in the midst of a crowd, with
two bodies lying at his feet.

"What has happened? One--two--he has been thrust through the body. Who
is killed? A nobleman.--Holy Virgin! what destruction! who seeks,
finds.--A moment pays all.--What a wound!--It must have been a serious
affair!--And this unfortunate man!--Mercy! what a spectacle!--Save, save
him.--It will go hard with him also.--See how he is wounded--he is
covered with blood!--Escape, poor man, escape; do not let yourself be
taken." These words expressed the common suffrage, and with advice came
also assistance; the affair had taken place near a church of the
capuchins, an asylum impenetrable to the officers of justice. The
murderer, bleeding and stupified, was carried thither by the crowd; the
brotherhood received him from their hands with this recommendation, "He
is an honest man who has made a proud rascal cold; but he did it in his
own defence."

Ludovico had never before shed blood, and although in these times murder
was a thing so common that all ceased to wonder at it, yet the
impression which he received from the recollection of the dying (dying
through his instrumentality,) was new and indescribable; a revelation of
feelings hitherto unknown. The fall of his enemy, the alteration of
those features, passing in a moment from angry threatenings to the
solemn stillness of death; this was a spectacle which wrought an
instantaneous change in the soul of the murderer. Whilst they were
carrying him to the convent he had been insensible to what was passing;
returning to his senses, he found himself in a bed of the infirmary, in
the hands of a friar who was dressing his wounds. Another, whose
particular duty it was to administer comfort to the dying, had been
called to the scene of combat. He returned in a short time, and
approaching Ludovico's bed, said, "Console yourself; he has died in
peace, has forgiven you, and hoped for your forgiveness." At these words
the soul of Ludovico was filled with remorse and sorrow. "And the
other?" asked he anxiously.

"The other had expired before I arrived."

In the mean time the avenues and environs of the convent swarmed with
people; the officers of justice arrived, dispersed the crowd, and placed
themselves in ambush at a short distance from the gates, so that no one
could pass through them unobserved. A brother of the deceased and some
of his family appeared in full armour with a large attendance of
bravoes, and surrounded the place, watching with a threatening aspect
the bystanders, who did not dare say, he is safe, but they had it
written on their faces.

Scarcely had Ludovico recalled his scattered thoughts, when he asked for
a father confessor, prayed him to seek out the widow of Christopher, to
ask forgiveness in his name for having been (however involuntarily) the
cause of her affliction, and to assure her that he would take the care
of her family on himself. Reflecting further on his own situation, his
determination was made to become a friar. It seemed as if God himself
had willed it, by placing him in a convent at such a conjuncture. He
immediately sent for the superior of the monastery, and expressed to him
his intention. He replied to him, that he should be careful not to form
a resolution precipitately, but that, if he persisted, he would be
accepted. Ludovico then sent for a notary, and made a donation of all
his estate to the widow and family of Christopher.

The resolution of Ludovico happened opportunely for his hosts, who felt
themselves embarrassed concerning him. To send him from the monastery,
and thus expose him to justice and the vengeance of his enemies, was not
to be thought of a moment; it would be the same as a renunciation of
their privileges, a discrediting of the convent amongst the people; and
they would draw upon themselves the animadversion of all the capuchins
of the universe for this relinquishment of the rights of the order, this
defiance of the ecclesiastical authorities, who then considered
themselves the guardians of these rights. On the other hand, the family
of the deceased, rich, and powerful in adherents, were determined on
vengeance, and disposed to consider as enemies whoever should place
obstacles to its accomplishment. History declares, not that they grieved
much for the dead, or that a single tear was shed for him amongst his
whole race, but that they were urged on by scenting the blood of his
opponent. But Ludovico, by assuming the habit of a capuchin, removed all
difficulties: to a certain degree he made atonement; imposed on himself
penitence; confessed his fault; withdrew from the contest; he was, in
short, an enemy who laid down his arms. The relations of the deceased
could, if they pleased, believe and boast that he had become a friar
through despair and dread of their revenge. And at all events, to reduce
a man to dispossess himself of his wealth, to shave his head, to walk
bare-footed, to sleep on straw, and to live on alms, might appear a
punishment competent to the offence.

The superior presented himself before the brother of the deceased with
an air of humility; after a thousand protestations of respect for his
illustrious house, and of desire to comply with its wishes as far as was
practicable, he spoke of the repentance and resolution of Ludovico,
politely hoping that the family would grant their accordance; and then
insinuating, mildly and dexterously, that, agreeable or not agreeable,
the thing would take place. After some little vapouring, he agreed to it
on one condition; that the murderer of his brother should depart
immediately from the city. To this the capuchin assented, as if in
obedience to the wishes of the family, although it had been already so
determined. The affair was thus concluded to the satisfaction of the
illustrious house, of the capuchin brotherhood, of the popular feeling,
and, above all, of our generous penitent himself. Thus, at thirty years
of age, Ludovico bade farewell to the world; and having, according to
custom, to change his name, he took one which would continually recall
to him his crime,--thus he became _Friar Christopher_!

Hardly was the ceremony of assuming the habit completed, when the
superior informed him he must depart on the morrow to perform his
noviciate at ----, sixty miles' distance. The noviciate bowed
submissively. "Permit me, father," said he, "before I leave the scene of
my crime, to do all that rests with me now to repair the evil; permit me
to go to the house of the brother of him whom I have murdered, to
acknowledge my fault, and ask forgiveness; perhaps God will take away
his but too just resentment."

It appeared to the superior that such an act, besides being praiseworthy
in itself, would serve still more to reconcile the family to the
monastery. He therefore bore the request himself to the brother of the
murdered man; a proposal so unexpected was received with a mixture of
scorn and complacency. "Let him come to-morrow," said he, and appointed
the hour. The superior returned to Father Christopher with the desired
permission.

The gentleman reflected that the more solemn and public the apology was,
the more it would enhance his credit with the family and the world; he
made known in haste to the members of the family, that on the following
day they should assemble at his house to receive a common satisfaction.
At mid-day the palace swarmed with nobility of either sex; there was a
blending of veils, feathers, and jewels; a heavy motion of starched and
crisped bands; a confused entangling of embroidered trains. The
antechambers, the courts, and the street, were crowded with servants,
pages, and bravoes.

Father Christopher experienced a momentary agitation at beholding all
this preparation, but recovering himself, said, "It is well; the deed
was committed in public, the reparation should be public." Then, with
his eyes bent to the earth, and the father, his companion, at his elbow,
he crossed the court, amidst a crowd who eyed him with unceremonious
curiosity; he entered, ascended the stairs, and passing through another
crowd of lords, who made way for him at his approach, he advanced
towards the master of the mansion, who stood in the middle of the room
waiting to receive him, with downcast looks, grasping with one hand the
hilt of his sword, and with the other pressing the cape of his Spanish
cloak on his breast. The countenance and deportment of Father
Christopher made an immediate impression on the company; so that all
were convinced that he had not submitted to this humiliation from fear
of man. He threw himself on his knees before him whom he had most
injured, crossed his hands on his breast, and bending his head,
exclaimed, "I am the murderer of your brother! God knows, that to
restore him to life I would sacrifice my own; but as this cannot be, I
supplicate you to accept my useless and late apology, for the love of
God!"

All eyes were fixed in breathless and mute attention on the novice, and
on the person to whom he addressed himself; there was heard through the
crowd a murmur of pity and respect; the angry scorn of the nobleman
relaxed at this appeal, and bending towards the kneeling supplicant,
"Rise," said he, with a troubled voice. "The offence--the deed
truly--but the habit you wear--not only this--but on your own
account--rise, father!--my brother--I cannot deny it--was a cavalier--of
a hasty temper. Do not speak of it again. But, father, you must not
remain in this posture." And he took him by the arm to raise him. Father
Christopher, standing with his eyes still bent to the ground, continued,
"I may, then, hope that you have granted me your pardon. And if I obtain
it from you, from whom may I not expect it? Oh! if I could hear you
utter the word!"

"Pardon!" said the nobleman; "I pardon you with all my heart, and
all----" turning to the company----"All! all!" resounded at once through
the room.

The countenance of the father expanded with joy, under which, however,
was still visible an humble and profound compunction for the evil, which
the remission of men could not repair. The nobleman, entirely
vanquished, threw his arms around his neck, and the kiss of peace was
given and received.

Loud exclamations of applause burst from the company; and all crowded
eagerly around the father. In the meanwhile the servants entered,
bearing refreshments; the master of the mansion, again addressing Father
Christopher, said, "Father, afford me a proof of your friendship by
accepting some of these trifles."

"Such things are no longer for me," replied the father; "but if you will
allow me a loaf of bread, as a memorial of your charity and your
forgiveness, I shall be thankful." The bread was brought, and with an
air of humble gratitude he put it in his basket. He then took leave of
the company; disentangled himself with difficulty from the crowd in the
antechambers, who would have kissed the hem of his garment, and pursued
his way to the gate of the city, whence he commenced his pedestrian
journey towards the place of his noviciate.

It is not our design to write the history of his cloistral life; we will
only say, he executed faithfully the offices ordinarily assigned to him,
of preaching, and of comforting the dying; but beyond these, "the
oppressor's wrongs, the proud man's contumely," aroused in him a spirit
of resistance which humiliation and remorse had not been able entirely
to extinguish. His countenance was habitually mild and humble, but
occasionally there passed over it a shade of former impetuosity, which
was with difficulty restrained by the high and holy motives which now
predominated in his soul. His tone of voice was gentle as his
countenance; but in the cause of justice and truth, his language assumed
a character of solemnity and emphasis singularly impressive. One who
knew him well, and admired his virtues, could often perceive, by the
smothered utterance or the change of a single word, the inward conflict
between the natural impetus and the resolved will, which latter never
failed to gain the mastery.

If one unknown to him in the situation of Lucy had implored his
assistance, he would have granted it immediately; with how much more
solicitude, then, did he direct his steps to the cottage, knowing and
admiring her innocence, trembling for her danger, and experiencing a
lively indignation at the persecution of which she had become the
object. Besides, he had advised her to remain quiet, and not make known
the conduct of her persecutor, and he felt or feared that his advice
might have been productive of bad consequences. His anxiety for her
welfare, and his inadequate means to secure it, called up many painful
feelings, which the good often experience.

But while we have been relating his history, he arrived at the dwelling;
Agnes and her daughter advanced eagerly towards him, exclaiming in one
breath, "Oh! Father Christopher, you are welcome."



CHAPTER V.


Father Christopher perceived immediately, from the countenances of Lucy
and her mother, that some evil had occurred. "Is all well with you?"
said he. Lucy replied by a flood of tears. "Quiet yourself, poor child,"
continued he; "and do you," turning to Agnes, "tell me what is the
matter." Whilst the good dame proceeded with the melancholy relation, he
experienced a variety of painful emotions. The story being done, he
buried his face in his hands, and exclaimed, "Oh, blessed God! how
long?"--He then turned to Lucy; "Poor child! God has, indeed, visited
you," said he.

"You will not abandon us, father?" said Lucy, sobbing.

"Abandon you!" replied he. "How should I dare ask the protection
of Almighty God for myself, if I abandoned _you_! You, so
defenceless!--you, whom he has confided to me! Take courage! He will
assist you--His eye beholds you--He can even make use of a feeble
instrument like myself to confound a ----. Let us think what can be
done."

Thus saying, he grasped his beard and chin with his hand, as if to
concentrate more completely the powers of his mind. But the more clearly
he perceived the pressing nature of the case, the more uncertain and
dangerous appeared every mode of meeting it. To endeavour to make Don
Abbondio sensible of a failure in duty? This appeared hopeless; fear was
more powerful with him than either shame or duty. To inform the cardinal
archbishop, and invoke his authority? That would require time; and, in
the meanwhile, what was to be done? To resist Don Roderick? How?
Impossible! The affair being one of a private nature, he would not be
sustained by the brethren of his order: he would, perhaps, be raising a
storm against himself; and, what was worse, by a useless attempt render
the condition of Lucy more hopeless and deplorable. After many
reflections he came to the conclusion to go to Don Roderick himself, and
to endeavour by prayers and representations of the punishments of the
wicked in another state, to win him from his infamous purpose. At least
he might at the interview discover something of his intentions, and
determine his measures accordingly. At this moment Renzo, who, as the
reader will readily imagine, could not long be absent at so interesting
a crisis, appeared at the door of the room; the father raised his head
and bowed to him affectionately, and with a look of intense pity.

"Have they told you, father?" enquired he, with a troubled voice.

"Yes, my son; and on that account I am here."

"What do you say of the villain?"

"What do I say of _him_? I say to _you_, dear Renzo, that you must
confide in God, and He will not abandon you."

"Blessed words!" exclaimed the youth: "you are not one of those who
wrong the poor. But the curate and this doctor----"

"Do not torment yourself uselessly: I am but a poor friar; but I repeat
to you that which I have already said to Lucy and her mother--poor as I
am, I will never abandon you."

"Oh! you are not like the friends of the world--rascals--when I was in
prosperity, abundant in protestations; ready to shed their blood for me,
to sustain me against the devil! Had I an enemy, they would soon put it
out of his power to molest me! And now, to see them withdraw
themselves!" He was interrupted in his vituperations by the dark shade
which passed over the countenance of his auditor; he perceived the
blunder he had made, and attempting to remedy it, became perplexed and
confused. "I would say--I did not at all intend--that is, I meant to
say----"

"What did you mean to say? You have already begun to mar my undertaking.
It is well that thou art undeceived in time. What! thou didst seek
friends! and what friends! they could not have aided thee, had they been
willing. And thou didst not apply to the only friend who can and will
protect thee;--dost thou not know that God is the friend of all who
trust in Him? dost thou not know that to spread the talons does little
good to the weak? and even if----" at these words he grasped forcibly
Renzo's arm; his countenance, without losing his wonted authority,
displayed an affecting remorse; his eyes were fixed on the ground; and
his voice became slow and sepulchral: "and even if that little should be
gained, how terribly awful! Renzo, will you confide in me?--that I
should say in me! a worm of the dust! will you not confide in God?"

"Oh! yes!" replied Renzo; "He only is the Lord."

"Promise me, then, that you will not meet or provoke any one; that you
will suffer yourself to be guided by me."

"I promise," said Renzo.

Lucy drew a long breath, as if relieved from a weight, and Agnes was
loud in applauses.

"Listen, my children," resumed Father Christopher: "I will go myself
to-day to speak to this man: if God touches his heart through my words,
well; if not, _He_ will provide some other remedy. In the mean time keep
yourselves quiet and retired; this evening, or to-morrow at the latest,
you shall see me again." Having said this, he departed amidst thanks and
blessings.

He arrived at the convent in time to perform his daily duty in the
choir, dined, and then pursued his way towards the den of the wild beast
he had undertaken to tame.

The palace of Don Roderick stood by itself, on the summit of one of the
promontories that skirt the coast; it was three or four miles distant
from the village; at the foot of the promontory nearest the lake, there
was a cluster of decayed cottages inhabited by peasantry belonging to
Don Roderick. This was the little capital of his little kingdom. As you
cast a glance within their walls, you beheld suspended to them various
kinds of arms, with spades, mattocks, and pouches of powder, blended
promiscuously. The persons within appeared robust and strong, with a
daring and insulting expression of countenance, and wearing a long lock
of hair on the head, which was covered with net-work. The aged, that had
lost their teeth, seemed ready to show their gums at the slightest call:
masculine women, with sinewy arms, seemed disposed to use them with as
much indifference as their tongues; the very children exhibited the same
daring recklessness as the parent stock. Friar Christopher passed
through the hamlet, ascending a winding path which conducted him to the
little esplanade in the front of the castle. The door was shut, which
was a sign that the chief was dining and did not wish to be disturbed.
The few windows that looked on the road were small and decayed by time;
they were, however, secured by large iron bars; and the lowest of them
were more than ten feet from the ground. A profound silence reigned
within, and a traveller might have believed the mansion deserted, but
for the appearance of four animals, two alive and two dead, in front of
the castle. Two large vultures, with their wings expanded, were nailed
each at the posts of the gate; and two bravoes, extended at full length
on the benches on either side, were keeping guard until their master
should have finished his repast. The father stopped, as if willing also
to wait. "Father, father, come on," said one, "we do not make the
capuchins wait here; we are the friends of the convent; I have been
within its walls when the air on the outside of them was not very
wholesome for me; it was well the fathers did not refuse me admittance."
So saying, he gave two strokes with the knocker: at the sound, the howls
of mastiffs were heard from within; and in a few moments there appeared
an aged domestic. On seeing the father, he bowed reverently, quieted the
animals with his voice, introduced the guest into a narrow court, and
closed the gate. Then escorting him into a saloon, and regarding him
with an astonished and respectful look, said, "Is not this--the Father
Christopher of Pescarenico?"

"The same."

"And here!"

"As you see, good man."

"It must be to do good," continued he, murmuring between his teeth;
"good can be done every where." He then guided him through two or three
dark halls, and led the way to the banqueting room: here was heard a
confused noise of plates, and knives and forks, and discordant voices.
Whilst Father Christopher was urging the domestic to suffer him to
remain in some other apartment until the dinner should be finished, the
door opened. A certain Count Attilio, a cousin of the noble host, (of
whom we have already spoken, without giving his name,) was seated
opposite: when he saw the bald head and habit of the father, and
perceived his motion to withdraw, "Ho! father," cried he, "you sha'n't
escape us; reverend father, forward, forward!" Don Roderick seconded
somewhat unwillingly this boisterous command, as he felt some
presentiment of the object of his visit. "Come, father, come in," said
he. Seeing there was no retreating, Father Christopher advanced,
saluting the nobleman and his guests.

An honest man is generally fearless and undaunted in presence of the
wicked; nevertheless, the father, with the testimony of a good
conscience and a firm conviction of the justice of his cause, with a
mixture of horror and compassion for Don Roderick, felt a degree of
embarrassment in approaching him. He was seated at table, surrounded by
guests; on his right was Count Attilio, his colleague in libertinism,
who had come from Milan to visit him. To the left was seated, with
respectful submissiveness, tempered, however, with conscious security,
the _podestà_ of the place,--he whose duty it was, according to the
proclamation, to cause justice to be done to Renzo Tramaglino, and to
inflict the allotted penalty on Don Roderick. Nearly opposite to the
_podestà_ sat our learned Doctor _Azzecca Garbugli_, with his black cap
and his red nose; and over against him two obscure guests, of whom our
story says nothing beyond a general mention of their toad-eating
qualities.

"Give a seat to the father," said Don Roderick. A servant presented a
chair, and the good father apologised for having come at so inopportune
an hour. "I would speak with you alone on an affair of importance,"
added he, in a low tone, to Don Roderick.

"Very well, father, it shall be so," replied he; "but in the meanwhile
bring the father something to drink."

Father Christopher would have refused, but Don Roderick, raising his
voice above the tumult of the table, cried, "No, by Bacchus, you shall
not do me this wrong; a capuchin shall never leave this house without
having tasted my wine, nor an insolent creditor without having tasted
the wood of my forests." These words produced a universal laugh, and
interrupted for a moment the question which was hotly agitated between
the guests. A servant brought the wine, of which Father Christopher
partook, feeling the necessity of propitiating the host.

"The authority of Tasso is against you, respected Signor _Podestà_,"
resumed aloud the Count Attilio: "this great man was well acquainted
with the laws of knighthood, and he makes the messenger of Argantes,
before carrying the defiance of the Christian knights, ask permission
from the pious Bouillon."

"But that," replied vociferously the _podestà_, "that is poetical
licence merely: an ambassador is in his nature inviolable, by the law of
nations, _jure gentium_; and moreover, the ambassador, not having spoken
in his own name, but merely presented the challenge in writing----"

"But when will you comprehend that this ambassador was a daring fool,
who did not know the first----"

"With the good leave of our guests," interrupted Don Roderick, who did
not wish the argument to proceed farther, "we will refer it to the
Father Christopher, and submit to his decision."

"Agreed," said Count Attilio, amused at submitting a question of
knighthood to a capuchin; whilst the _podestà_ muttered between his
teeth, "Folly!"

"But, from what I have comprehended," said the father, "it is a subject
of which I have no knowledge."

"As usual, modest excuses from the father," said Don Roderick; "but we
will not accept them. Come, come, we know well that you came not into
the world with a cowl on your head; you know something of its ways.
Well, how stands the argument?"

"The facts are these," said the Count Attilio----

"Let me tell, who am neutral, cousin," resumed Don Roderick. "This is
the story: a Spanish knight sent a challenge to a Milanese knight; the
bearer, not finding him at home, presented it to his brother, who,
having read it, struck the bearer many blows. The question is----"

"It was well done; he was perfectly right," cried Count Attilio.

"There was no right about it," exclaimed the _podestà_. "To beat an
ambassador--a man whose person is sacred! Father, do _you_ think this
was an action becoming a knight?"

"Yes, sir; of a knight," cried the count, "I think I know what belongs
to a knight. Oh! if it had been an affair of fists, that would have
been quite another thing, but a cudgel soils no one's hands."

"I am not speaking of this, Sir Count; I am speaking of the _laws_ of
knighthood. But tell me, I pray you, if the messengers that the ancient
Romans sent to bear defiance to other nations, asked permission to
deliver the message; find, if you can, a writer who relates that such
messenger was ever cudgelled."

"What have the ancient Romans to do with us? a people well enough in
some things, but in others, far, far behind. But according to the laws
of modern knighthood, I maintain that a messenger, who dared place in
the hands of a knight a challenge without having previously asked
permission, is a rash fool who deserves to be cudgelled."

"But answer me this question----"

"No, no, no."

"But hear me. To strike an unarmed person is an act of treachery.
_Atqui_ the messenger _de quo_ was without arms. _Ergo_----"

"Gently, gently, Signor _Podestà_."

"How? gently."

"Gently, I tell you; I concede that under other circumstances this might
have been called an act of treachery, but to strike a low fellow! It
would have been a fine thing truly, to say to him, as you would to a
gentleman, Be on your guard! And you, Sir Doctor, instead of sitting
there grinning your approbation of my opinion, why do you not aid me to
convince this gentleman?"

"I," replied the doctor in confusion; "I enjoy this learned dispute, and
am thankful for the opportunity of listening to a war of wit so
agreeable. And moreover, I am not competent to give an opinion; his most
illustrious lordship has appointed a judge--the father."

"True," said Don Roderick; "but how can the judge speak when the
disputants will not keep silence?"

"I am dumb," said the Count Attilio. The _podestà_ made a sign that he
would be quiet.

"Well! father! at last!" said Don Roderick, with comic gravity.

"I have already said, that I do not comprehend----"

"No excuses! we must have your opinion."

"If it must be so," replied the father, "I should humbly think there was
no necessity for challenges, nor bearers, nor blows."

The guests looked in wonder at each other.

"Oh! how ridiculous!" said the Count Attilio. "Pardon me, father; but
this is exceedingly ridiculous. It is plain you know nothing of the
world."

"He?" said Don Roderick; "he knows as much of it as you do, cousin. Is
it not so, father?"

Father Christopher made no reply; but to himself he said, "submit
thyself to every insult for the sake of those for whom thou art here."

"It may be so," said the count; "but the father----how is the father
called?"

"Father Christopher," replied more than one.

"But, Father Christopher, your reverend worship, with your maxims you
would turn the world upside down--without challenges! without blows!
Farewell, the point of honour! Impunity to ruffians! Happily, the thing
is impossible."

"Stop, doctor," cried Don Roderick, wishing to divert the dispute from
the original antagonists. "You are a good man for an argument; what have
you to say to the father?"

"Indeed," replied the doctor, brandishing his fork in the air--"indeed I
cannot understand how the Father Christopher should not remember that
his judgment, though of just weight in the pulpit, is worth nothing--I
speak with great submission--on a question of knighthood. But perhaps he
has been merely jesting, to relieve himself from embarrassment."

The father not replying to this, Don Roderick made an effort to change
the subject.

"Apropos," said he, "I understand there is a report at Milan of an
accommodation."

There was at this time a contest regarding the succession to the dukedom
of Mantua, of which, at the death of Vincenzo Gonzaga, who died without
male issue, the Duke de Nevers, his nearest relation, had obtained
possession. Louis XIII., or rather the Cardinal de Richelieu, wished to
sustain him there; Philip IV., or rather the Count d'Olivares, commonly
called the Count Duke, opposed him. The dukedom was then a fief of the
empire, and the two parties employed intrigue and importunity at the
court of the Emperor Ferdinand II. The object of one was to obtain the
investiture of the new duke; of the other, the denial of his claim, and
also assistance to oblige him to relinquish it.

"I rather think," said the Count Attilio, "that the thing will be
arranged satisfactorily. I have reasons----"

"Do not believe it, count, do not believe it," added the _podestà_; "I
have an opportunity of knowing, because the Spanish keeper of the
castle, who is my friend, and who is the son of a dependant of the Count
Duke, is informed of every thing."

"I tell you I have discoursed on the subject daily at Milan; and I know
from good authority that the pope, exceedingly interested as he is for
peace, has made propositions----"

"That may be, the thing is in order; his Holiness does his duty; a pope
should always endeavour to make peace between Christian princes; but the
Count Duke has his own policy, and----"

"And, and, and, do you know, Signor _Podestà_, how much thought the
emperor now gives to it? Do you believe there is no place but Mantua in
the world! There are many things to provide for, signor, mind. Do you
know, for instance, how far the emperor can trust this Prince of
Valdistano, or di Vallistai, as they call him; and if----"

"His name, in the German language," interrupted the magistrate, "is
Wallenstein, as I have heard it uttered many times by the Spanish keeper
of the castle. But be of good courage----"

"Do you dare teach me," replied the count. Here Don Roderick whispered
to him to cease contradiction, as there would be no end to it. He
obeyed; and the _podestà_, like a vessel unimpeded by shoals, continued
with full sails the course of his eloquence. "Wallenstein gives me but
little anxiety; because the Count Duke has his eye every where; and if
Wallenstein carries matters with a high hand, he will soon set him
right. He has his eye every where, I say, and unlimited power; and if it
is his policy that the Signor Duke of Nevers should not take root in
Mantua, he will never flourish there, he assured. It makes me laugh to
see the Signor Cardinal de Richelieu contend with an Olivares. The Count
Duke, gentlemen," pursued he, with the wind still in his favour, and
much wondering at not meeting with opposition, "the Count Duke is an old
fox--speaking with due respect--who would make any one lose his track:
when he appears to go to the right, it would be safest to follow him to
the left: no one can boast of knowing his designs; they who are to
execute them, they who write the despatches, know nothing of them. I
speak from authority, for the keeper of the castle deigns to confide in
me. The Count Duke knows well enough how the pot boils in all the courts
in Europe; and these politicians have hardly laid a plan, but he begins
to frustrate it. That poor man, the Cardinal Richelieu, attempts and
dissembles, toils and strives; and what does it all produce? When he has
dug the mine, he finds a countermine already prepared by the Count
Duke----"

None can tell when the magistrate would have cast anchor, if Don
Roderick had not interrupted him. "Signor _Podestà_," said he, "and you,
gentlemen, a bumper to the Count Duke, and you shall then judge if the
wine is worthy of the personage." The _podestà_ bowed low in gratitude
for an honour he considered as paid to himself in part for his eloquent
harangue.

"May Don Gaspero Guzman, Count de Olivares, Duke of St. Lucar, live a
thousand years!" said he, raising his glass.

"May he live a thousand years!" exclaimed all the company.

"Help the father," said Don Roderick.

"Excuse me," replied he, "I could not----"

"How!" said Don Roderick; "will you not drink to the Count Duke? Would
you have us believe that you hold to the Navarre party?"

This was the contemptuous term applied to the French interest at the
time of Henry IV.

There was no reply to be made to this, and the father was obliged to
taste the wine. All the guests were loud in its praise, except the
doctor, who had kept silence. "Eh! doctor," asked Don Roderick, "what
think _you_ of it?"

"I think," replied the doctor, withdrawing his ruddy and shining nose
from the glass, "that this is the Olivares of wines: there is not a
liquor resembling it in all the twenty-two kingdoms of the king our
master, whom God protect! I maintain that the dinners of the most
illustrious Signor Don Roderick exceed the suppers of Heliogabalus, and
that scarcity is banished for ever from this palace, where reigns a
perpetual and splendid abundance."

"Well said! bravo! bravo!" exclaimed with one voice the guests; but the
word _scarcity_, which the doctor had accidentally uttered, suggested a
new and painful subject. All spoke at once:--"There is no famine," said
one, "it is the speculators who----"

"And the bakers, who conceal the grain. Hang them!"

"That is right; hang them, without mercy."

"Upon fair trial," cried the magistrate.

"What trial?" cried Attilio, more loudly; "summary justice, I say. Take
a few of them who are known to be the richest and most avaricious, and
hang them."

"Yes, hang them! hang them! and there will be grain scattered in
abundance."

Thus the party continued absorbing the wine, whose praises, mixed with
sentences of economical jurisprudence, formed the burthen of the
conversation; so that the loudest and most frequent words were, _Nectar,
and hang 'em_.

Don Roderick had, from time to time, during this confusion, looked at
the father: perceiving him calmly, but firmly, awaiting his leisure for
the interview which had been promised him, he relinquished the hope of
wearying him by its postponement. To send away a capuchin, without
giving him an audience, was not according to his policy; and since it
could not be avoided, he resolved to meet it at once: he rose from the
table, excused himself to his guests, and saying proudly, "At your
service, father," led the way to another room.



CHAPTER VI.


"In what can I serve you?" said Don Roderick, as soon as they entered
into the room. Such were his words, but his manner said plainly,
"Remember before whom thou standest, weigh well thy words, and be
expeditious."

There were no means more certain to impart courage to Father Christopher
than arrogance or pride. He had stood for a moment in some
embarrassment, passing through his fingers the beads of the rosary that
hung suspended from his girdle; but he soon "resumed new courage, and
revived," at the haughty air of Don Roderick. He had, however,
sufficient command over himself to reply with caution and humility. "I
come to supplicate you to perform an act of justice: some wicked persons
have, in the name of your lordship, frightened a poor curate, and have
endeavoured to prevent his fulfilling his duty towards an innocent and
unoffending couple. You can by a word confound their machinations, and
impart consolation to the afflicted. You can--and having it in your
power--conscience, honour----"

"Speak to me of conscience, when I ask your advice on the subject; and
as to my honour, know that I only am the guardian of it, and that
whoever dares to meddle with it is a rash man."

Friar Christopher, warned by these words that the intention of Don
Roderick was to turn the conversation into a dispute, so as to win him
from his original purpose, determined to bear whatever insult might be
offered him, and meekly replied, "It was certainly not my intention to
say any thing to displease you: correct me, reprove me; but deign to
listen to me. By the love of Heaven, by that God before whom we must all
appear, I charge thee, do not obstinately refuse to do justice to the
innocent and oppressed! Think that God watches over them, that their
imprecations are heard above, and----"

"Stop," interrupted Don Roderick, rudely. "The respect I bear to your
habit is great; but if any thing could make me forget it, it would be to
see it worn by one coming as a spy into my house."

These words spread an indignant glow over the face of the father; but
swallowing them as a bitter medicine, he resumed: "You do not believe
that I am such; you feel in your heart that I am here on no vile or
contemptible errand. Listen to me, Signor Don Roderick; and Heaven grant
that the day may never arrive, when you shall repent of not having
listened to me! Listen to me, and perform this deed of justice and
benevolence. Men will esteem you! God will esteem you! you have much in
your power, but----"

"Do you know," again interrupted Don Roderick with warmth, but with
something like remorse, "that when the whim takes me to hear a sermon, I
can go to church? But, perhaps," continued he, with a forced smile of
mockery, "you are putting regal dignity on me, and giving me a preacher
in my own palace."

"And to God princes are responsible for the reception of his messages;
to God you are responsible; he now sends into your palace a message by
one of his ministers, the most unworthy----"

"In short, father," said Don Roderick, preparing to go, "I do not
comprehend you: I suppose you have some affair of your own on hand; make
a confidant of whom you please; but use not the freedom of troubling a
gentleman any farther."

"Don Roderick, do not say _No_ to me; do not keep in anguish the heart
of an innocent child! a word from you would be sufficient."

"Well," said Don Roderick, "since you think I have so much in my power,
and since you are so much interested----"

"Yes!" said Father Christopher, anxiously regarding him.

"Well, advise her to come, and place herself under my protection; she
will want for nothing, and no one shall disturb her, as I am a
gentleman."

At such a proposal, the indignation of the friar, which had hitherto
been restrained with difficulty, loudly burst forth. All his prudence
and patience forsook him: "Your protection!" exclaimed he, stepping
back, and stretching forth both his hands towards Don Roderick, while he
sternly fixed his eyes upon him, "your protection! You have filled the
measure of your guilt by this wicked proposal, and I fear you no
longer."

"Dare you speak thus to me?"

"I dare; I fear you no longer; God has abandoned you, and you are no
longer an object of fear! Your protection! this innocent child is under
the protection of God; you have, by your infamous offer, increased my
assurance of her safety. Lucy, I say; see with what boldness I pronounce
her name before you; Lucy----"

"How! in this house----"

"I compassionate this house; the wrath of God is upon it! You have acted
in open defiance of the great God of heaven and earth; you have set at
naught his counsel; you have oppressed the innocent; you have trampled
on the rights of those whom you should have been the first to protect
and defend. The wrath of God is upon you! A day will come!"

"Villain!" said Don Roderick, who at first was confounded between rage
and astonishment; but when he heard the father thundering forth this
prediction, a mysterious and unaccountable dread took possession of his
soul. Hastily seizing his outstretched arm, and raising his voice in
order to drown the maledictions of the monk, he cried aloud, "Depart
from me, rash villain, cowled spy!"

These words instantly cooled the glowing enthusiasm of Father
Christopher. The ideas of insult and injury in his mind had long been
habitually associated with those of suffering and silence. His usual
habits resumed their sway, and he became calm; he awaited what farther
might be said, as, after the strength of the whirlwind has passed, an
aged tree naturally recomposes its branches, and receives the hail as
Heaven sends it.

"Villain! scoundrel! talk to your equals," said Don Roderick; "but thank
the habit you bear for saving you from the chastisement which is your
due. Begone this instant, and with unscathed limbs, or we shall see."
So saying, he pointed imperiously to an opposite door. The friar bowed
his head, and departed, leaving Don Roderick to measure with hasty and
agitated steps the field of battle.

When he had closed the door behind him, the father perceived a man
stealing softly away through another, and he recognised him as the aged
domestic who had been his guide to the presence of Don Roderick. Before
the birth of that nobleman, he had been in the service of his father,
who was a man of a very different character. At his death, the new
master expelled all the domestics, with the exception of this one, whom
he retained on account of two valuable qualifications; a high conception
of the dignity of the house, and a minute knowledge of the ceremonial
required to support that dignity. The poor old man had never dared even
to hint disapprobation of the daily proceedings at the castle before the
signor, but he would sometimes venture to allow an exclamation of grief
and disapproval to escape him before his fellow servants, who were
infinitely diverted by his simple honesty, and his warm love of the good
old times. His censures did not reach his master's ears unaccompanied by
a relation of the raillery bestowed upon them, so that he became an
object of general ridicule. On the days of formal entertainment,
therefore, the old man was a person of great importance.

Father Christopher bowed to him as he passed by him, and pursued his
way; but the old man approached him with a mysterious air, and made a
sign that he should follow him into a dark passage, where, speaking in
an under tone, he said, "Father! I have heard all, and I want to speak
to you."

"Speak at once, then, good man."

"Here! oh no! Woe be to us if the master suspect it! But I shall be able
to discover much, and I will endeavour to come to-morrow to the
convent."

"Is there any base plot?"

"There is something hatching, certainly; I have long suspected it; but
now I shall be on the look out, and I will come at the truth. These are
strange doings--I live in a house where----But I wish to save my soul."

"God bless you!" said the friar, placing his hands on his head, as he
bent reverently towards him; "God reward you! Do not forget then to come
to-morrow."

"I will not," replied the domestic; "but go, now, for the love of
Heaven, and do not betray me."

So saying, he looked cautiously on all sides, and led the way through
the passage into a large hall, which fronted the court-yard, and
pointing to the door, silently bade him "Farewell."

When once in the street, and freed from this den of depravity, the
father breathed more freely; he hastened down the hill, pale in
countenance, and agitated and distressed by the scene he had witnessed,
and in which he had taken so leading a part. But the unlooked-for
proffer of the servant came like a cordial. It seemed as if Heaven had
sent a visible sign of its protection--a clue to guide him in his
intricate undertaking--and in the very house where it was least likely
to be found. Occupied with these thoughts, he raised his eyes towards
the west, and beheld the sun declining behind the mountain, and felt
that he had but a few minutes in which to reach the monastery, without
violating the absolute law of the capuchins, that none of the
brotherhood should remain beyond the walls after sunset.

Meanwhile, in the cottage of Lucy there had been plans agitated of which
it is necessary to inform the reader. After the departure of the father,
they had continued some time in silence; Lucy, with a heavy heart,
prepared the dinner; Renzo, wavering and anxious, knew not how to
depart; Agnes was apparently absorbed with her reel, but she was really
maturing a thought, which she in a few moments thus declared:--

"Listen, my children. If you will have the necessary courage and
dexterity; if you will confide in your mother; I pledge myself to free
you from perplexity, sooner than Father Christopher could do, although
he is the best man in the world." Lucy looked at her mother with an
expression of astonishment rather than confidence, in a promise so
magnificent. "Courage! dexterity!" cried Renzo, "say, say, what can I
do?"

"Is it not true," said Agnes, "that if you were married, your chief
difficulty would be removed, and that for the rest we would easily find
a remedy!"

"Undoubtedly," said Renzo, "if we were married--The world is before us;
and at a short distance from this, in Bergamo, a silk weaver is received
with open arms. You know how often my cousin Bartolo has solicited me to
go there, and enter into business with him; how many times he has told
me that I should make a fortune, as he has done; and if I never listened
to his request, it was--because my heart was here. Once married, we
would all go together, and live happily far from the clutches of this
villain, far from the temptation to do a rash deed. Is it not so, Lucy?"

"Yes," said Lucy, "but how----"

"As I said," resumed Agnes, "courage and dexterity, and the thing is
easy."

"Easy!" exclaimed they, in wonder.

"Easy," replied Agnes, "if you are prudent. Hear me patiently, and I
will endeavour to make you comprehend my project. I have heard it said
by persons who knew, and moreover I have seen one instance of it myself,
that a curate's _consent_ is not necessary to render a marriage ceremony
lawful, provided you have his presence."

"How so?" asked Renzo.

"You shall hear. There must be two witnesses, nimble and cunning. You go
to the curate; the point is to catch him unexpectedly, that he may have
no time to escape. You say, 'Signor Curate, this is my wife;' Lucy says,
'Signor Curate, this is my husband;' you must speak so distinctly that
the curate and the witnesses hear you, and the marriage is as inviolable
as if the pope himself had celebrated it. When the words are once
uttered, the curate may fret, and fume, and scold; it will be of no use,
you are man and wife."

"Is it possible?" exclaimed Lucy.

"Do you think," said Agnes, "that the thirty years I was in the world
before you, I learned nothing? The thing is as I tell you."

The fact was truly such as Agnes represented it; marriages contracted
in this manner were at that time held valid. Such an expedient was,
however, not recurred to, but in cases of great necessity, and the
priests made use of every precaution to avoid this compulsive
co-operation.

"If it be true, Lucy!" said Renzo, regarding her attentively, with a
supplicating expression.

"_If_ it be true!" exclaimed Agnes. "Do you think I would say that which
is _not_ true? Well, well, get out of the difficulty as you can, I wash
my hands from it."

"Ah, no! do not abandon us!" said Renzo; "I mean not to suggest a doubt
of it. I place myself in your hands; I look to you as to a mother."

The momentary anger of Agnes vanished.

"But why, mamma," said Lucy, in her usual modest tone, "why did not
Father Christopher think of this?"

"Think you that it did not come into his mind?" replied Agnes; "but he
would not speak of it."

"Why?" exclaimed they, both at once.

"Why?--because, if you must know it, the friars do not approve of it."

"If it is not right," said Lucy, "we must not do it."

"What!" said Agnes, "do you think I would advise you to do that which is
not right? If, against the advice of your parents, you were going to
marry a rogue--but, on the contrary, I am rejoiced at your choice, and
he who _causes_ the disturbance is the only villain; and the curate----"

"It is as clear as the sun," said Renzo.

"It is not necessary to speak of it to Father Christopher," continued
Agnes. "Once over, what do you think he will say to you? 'Ah! daughter,
it was a great error; but it is done.' The friars must talk thus; but,
believe me, in his heart he will be well content."

Lucy made no reply to an argument which did not appear to her very
powerful; but Renzo, quite encouraged, said, "If it be thus, the thing
is done."

"Softly," said Agnes; "there is need of caution. We must procure the
witnesses; and find means to present ourselves to the curate
unexpectedly. He has been two days concealed in his house; we must make
him remain there. If he suspects your intention, he will be as cunning
as a cat, and flee as Satan from holy water."

Lucy here gained courage to offer her doubts of the propriety of such a
course. "Until now we have lived with candour and sincerity," said she;
"let us continue to do so; let us have faith in God, and God will aid
us. Father Christopher said so: let us listen to his advice."

"Be guided by those who know better than you do," said Agnes gravely.
"What need of advice? God tells us, 'Help thyself, and I will help
thee.' We will tell the father all about it, when it is over."

"Lucy," said Renzo, "will you fail me now? Have we not done all that we
could do, like good Christians? Had not the curate himself fixed the day
and the hour? And whose is the blame if we are now obliged to use a
little management? No, you will not fail me. I go at once to seek the
witnesses, and will return to tell you my success." So saying, he
hastily departed.

Disappointment sharpens the wit; and Renzo, who, in the straightforward
path he had hitherto travelled, had not been required to subtilise much,
now conceived a plan which would have done honour to a lawyer. He went
directly to the house of one Anthony, and found him in his kitchen,
employed in stirring a _polenta_ of wheat, which was on the fire, whilst
his mother, brother, and his wife, with three or four small children,
were seated at the table, eagerly intent on the earthen pan, and
awaiting the moment when it should be ready for their attack. But, on
this occasion, the pleasure was wanting which the sight of dinner
usually produces in the aspect of the labourer who has earned it by his
industry. The size of the _polenta_ was proportioned to the scantiness
of the times, and not to the number and appetite of the assailants: and
in casting a dissatisfied look on the common meal, each seemed to be
considering the extent of appetite likely to survive it. Whilst Renzo
was exchanging salutations with the family, Tony poured out the pudding
on the pewter trencher prepared for its reception, and it appeared like
a little moon within a large circumference of vapour. Nevertheless, the
wife of Tony said courteously to Renzo, "Will you be helped to
something?" This was a compliment that the peasants of Lombardy, however
poor, paid to those who were, from any accident, present at their meals.

"I thank you," replied Renzo; "I only came to say a few words to Tony;
and, Tony, not to disturb your family, we can go and dine at the inn,
and we shall then have an opportunity to converse." The proposal was as
agreeable as it was unexpected. Tony readily assented to it, and
departed with Renzo, leaving to his family his portion of the _polenta_.
They arrived at the inn, seated themselves at their ease in a perfect
solitude, since the penury of the times had driven away the daily
frequenters of the place. After having eaten, and emptied a bottle of
wine, Renzo, with an air of mystery, said to Tony, "If you will do me a
small service, I will do you a _great_ one."

"Speak, speak, command me," said Tony, filling his glass; "I will go
through fire to serve you."

"You are twenty-five livres in debt to the curate, for the rent of his
field, that you worked last year."

"Ah! Renzo, Renzo! why do you mention it to me now? You've spoiled your
kindness, and put to flight my good wishes."

"If I speak to you of your debt," said Renzo, "it is because I intend to
give you the means of paying it."

"Do you really?"

"Really; would this content you?"

"Content me! that it would, indeed; if it were only to be freed from
those infernal shakings of the head the curate makes me every time I
meet him. And then always, '_Tony, remember; Tony, when shall we see
each other for this business?_' When he preaches, he fixes his eyes on
me in such a manner, I am almost afraid he will speak to me from the
pulpit. I have wished the twenty-five livres to the devil a thousand
times: and I was obliged to pawn my wife's gold necklace, which might be
turned into so much _polenta_. But----"

"But, if you will do me a small favour, the twenty-five livres are
ready."

"Agreed."

"But," said Renzo, "you must be silent and talk to no one about it."

"Need you tell me that?" said Tony; "you know me."

"The curate has some foolish reason for putting off my marriage, and I
wish to hasten it. I am told that the parties going before him with two
witnesses, and the one saying, _This is my wife_, and the other, _This
is my husband_, that the marriage is lawful. Do you understand me?"

"You wish me to go as a witness?"

"Yes."

"And you will pay the twenty-five livres?"

"Yes."

"Done; I agree to it."

"But we must find another witness."

"I have found him already," said Tony. "My simpleton of a brother,
Jervase, will do whatever I tell him; but you will pay him with
something to drink?"

"And to eat," replied Renzo. "But will he be able?"

"I'll teach him; you know I was born with brains for both."

"To-morrow."

"Well."

"Towards evening."

"Very well."

"But be silent," said Renzo.

"Poh!" said Tony.

"But if thy wife should ask thee, as without doubt she will?"

"I am in debt to my wife for lies already; and for so much, that I don't
know if we shall ever balance the account. I will tell her some idle
story or other to set her heart at rest." With this good resolution he
departed, leaving Renzo to pursue his way back to the cottage. In the
meanwhile Agnes had in vain solicited Lucy's consent to the measure; she
could not resolve to act without the approbation of Father Christopher.
Renzo arrived, and triumphantly related his success. Lucy shook her
head, but the two enthusiasts minded her not. They were now determined
to pursue their plan, and by authority and entreaties induce her finally
to accede to it.

"It is well," said Agnes, "it is well, but you have not thought of every
thing."

"What have I not thought of?" replied Renzo.

"Perpetua! You have not thought of Perpetua. Do you believe that she
would suffer Tony and his brother to enter? How then is it probable she
would admit you and Lucy?"

"What shall we do?" said Renzo, pausing.

"I will tell you. I will go with you; I have a secret to tell her, which
will engage her so that she will not see you. I will take her aside, and
will touch such a chord--you shall see."

"Bless you!" exclaimed Renzo, "I have always said you were our best
support."

"But all this will do no good," said Agnes, "if we cannot persuade Lucy,
who obstinately persists that it is sinful."

Renzo made use of all his eloquence, but Lucy was not to be moved. "I
know not what to say to your arguments," replied she. "I perceive that
to do this, we shall degrade ourselves so far as to lie and deceive. Ah!
Renzo, let us not so abase ourselves! I would be your wife" (and a blush
diffused itself over her lovely countenance), "I would be your wife, but
in the fear of God--at the altar. Let us trust in Him who is able to
provide. Do you not think He will find a way to help us, far better than
all this deception? And why make a mystery of it to Father Christopher?"

The contest still continued, when a trampling of sandals announced
Father Christopher. Agnes had barely time to whisper in the ear of Lucy,
"Be careful to tell him nothing," when the friar entered.



CHAPTER VII.


"Peace be with you!" said the friar as he entered. "There is nothing
more to hope from man: so much the greater must be our confidence in
God; and I've already had a pledge of his protection." None of the three
entertained much hope from the visit of Father Christopher: for it would
have been not only an unusual, but an absolutely unheard-of fact, for a
nobleman to desist from his criminal designs at the mere prayer of his
defenceless victim. Still, the sad certainty was a painful stroke.

The women bent down their heads; but in the mind of Renzo anger
prevailed over disappointment. "I would know," cried he, gnashing his
teeth, and raising his voice as he had never done before in the presence
of Father Christopher, "I would know what reasons this dog has given,
that my wife should not _be_ my wife?"

"Poor Renzo!" said the father, with an accent of pity, and with a look
which greatly enforced moderation; "poor Renzo! if those who commit
injustice were always obliged to give a reason for it, things would not
be as they are!"

"He has said, then, the dog! that he will not, because he will not?"

"He has not even said _so_, poor Renzo! There would be something gained,
if he would make an open confession of his iniquity."

"But he has said something; _what_ has this firebrand of hell said?"

"I could not repeat his words. He flew into a passion at me for my
suspicions, and at the same time confirmed me in them: he insulted me,
and then called himself offended; threatened, and complained. Ask no
farther. He did not utter the name of Lucy, nor even pretend to know
you: he affected to intend nothing. In short, I heard enough to feel
that he is inexorable. But confidence in God! Poor children! be patient,
be submissive! And thou, Renzo! believe that I sympathise with all that
passes in thy heart.--But _patience_! It is a poor word, a bitter word
to those who want faith; but, Renzo, will you not let God work? Will you
not trust Him? Let Him work, Renzo; and, for your consolation, know that
I hold in my hand a clue, by which I hope to extricate you from your
distress. I cannot say more now. To-morrow I shall not be here; I shall
be all day at the convent employed for you. Renzo, if thou canst, come
there to me; but, if prevented by any accident, send some trusty
messenger, by whom I can make known to you the success of my endeavours.
Night approaches; I must return to the convent. Farewell! Faith and
courage!" So saying, he departed, and hastened by the most abrupt but
shortest road, to reach the convent in time, and escape the usual
reprimand; or, what was worse, the imposition of some penance, which
might disenable him, for the following day, from continuing his efforts
in favour of his protégés.

"Did you hear him speak of a clue which he holds to aid us?" said Lucy;
"it is best to trust in him; he is a man who does not make rash
promises."

"He ought to have spoken more clearly," said Agnes; "or at least have
taken me aside, and told me what it was."

"I'll put an end to the business; I'll put an end to it," said Renzo,
pacing furiously up and down the room.

"Oh! Renzo!" exclaimed Lucy.

"What do you mean?" said Agnes.

"What do I mean? I mean to say that he may have a hundred thousand
devils in his soul, but he is flesh and blood notwithstanding."

"No, no, for the love of Heaven!" said Lucy, but tears choked her voice.

"It is not a theme for jesting," said Agnes.

"For jesting?" cried Renzo, stopping before her, with his countenance
inflamed by anger; "for jesting! you will see if I am in jest."

"Oh! Renzo!" said Lucy, sobbing, "I have never seen you thus before!"

"Hush, hush!" said Agnes, "speak not in this manner. Do you not fear
the law, which is always to be had against the poor? And, besides, how
many arms would be raised at a word!"

"I fear nothing," said Renzo; "the villain is well protected, dog that
he is! but no matter. Patience and resolution! and the time will come.
Yes! justice shall be done! I will free the country! People will bless
me! Yes, yes."

The horror which Lucy felt at this explicit declaration of his purpose
inspired her with new resolution. With a tearful countenance, but
determined voice, she said to Renzo, "It can no longer be of any
consequence to you, that I should become yours; I promised myself to a
youth who had the fear of God in his heart; but a man who had
once----were you safe from the law, were you secure from vengeance, were
you the son of a king----"

"Well!" cried Renzo, in a voice of uncontrollable passion, "well! I
shall not have you, then; but neither shall he; of _that_ you may----"

"For pity's sake, do not talk thus; do not talk so fiercely!" said Lucy
imploringly.

"You to implore me!" said he, somewhat appeased. "You! who will do
nothing for _me_! What proof do you give me of your affection? Have I
not supplicated in vain? Have I been able to obtain----"

"Yes, yes," replied Lucy, hastily, "I will go to the curate's to-morrow;
now, if you wish it. Only be yourself again; I will go."

"Do you promise me?" said Renzo, softening immediately.

"I promise."

"Well, I am satisfied."

"God be praised!" said Agnes, much relieved.

"I have promised you," said Lucy, with an accent of timid reproach, "but
you have also promised me to refer it to Father Christopher."

"Ha! will you now draw back?" said Renzo.

"No, no," said Lucy, again alarmed, "no, no, I have promised, and will
perform. But you have compelled me to it by your own impetuosity. God
forbid that----"

"Why will you prognosticate evil, Lucy? God knows we wrong no person."

"Well, well," said Lucy, "I will hope for the best."

Renzo would have wished to prolong the conversation, in order to allot
to each their several parts for the morrow, but the night drew on, and
he reluctantly felt himself compelled to depart.

The night was passed, by all three, in that state of agitation and
trouble which always precedes an important enterprise whose issue is
uncertain. Renzo returned early in the morning, and Agnes and he busied
themselves in concerting the operations of the evening. Lucy was a mere
spectator; but although she disapproved these measures in her heart, she
still promised to do the best she could.

"Will you go to the convent, to speak to Father Christopher, as he
desired you last night?" said Agnes to Renzo.

"Oh! no," replied he, "the father would soon read in my countenance that
there was something on foot; and if he interrogated me, I should be
obliged to tell him. You had better send some one."

"I will send Menico."

"Yes, that will do," replied Renzo, as he hurried off to make farther
arrangements.

Agnes went to a neighbouring house to obtain Menico, a smart lad of
twelve years of age, who, by the way of cousins and sisters-in-law, was
a sort of nephew to the dame. She asked and obtained permission of his
parents to keep him all day "for a particular service." She took him
home, and after giving him breakfast, told him he must go to
Pescarenico, and show himself to Father Christopher, who would send him
back with a message.

"_Father Christopher_, you understand; that nice old man, with a white
beard; him they call the Saint."

"I know him, I know him!" said Menico: "he speaks so kindly to the
children, and often gives them pictures."

"Yes! that is he; and if, Menico, if he tells you to wait near the
convent until he has an answer ready, don't stray away; don't go to the
lake to throw stones in the water with the boys; nor to see them fish,
nor----"

"Poh! aunt, I am no longer a baby."

"Well, behave well, and when you return with the answer, I will give you
these new _parpagliole_."[3]

      [3] A sort of coin.

During the remainder of this long morning, several strange things
occurred, calculated to infuse suspicion into the already troubled minds
of Lucy and her mother. A mendicant, but not in rags like others of his
kind, and with a dark and sinister countenance, narrowly observing every
object around him, entered to ask alms. A piece of bread was presented
to him, which he received with ill-dissembled indifference. Then, with a
mixture of impudence and hesitation, he made many enquiries, to which
Agnes endeavoured to return evasive replies. When about to depart, he
pretended to mistake the door, and went through the one that led to the
stairs. They called to him, "Stay, stay! where are you going, good man?
this way." He returned, excusing himself with an affectation of
humility, to which he felt it difficult to compose his hard and stern
features. After him, they saw pass, from time to time, other strange
people. One entered the house, under pretence of asking the road;
another stopped before the gate, and glanced furtively into the room, as
if to avoid suspicion. Agnes went often to the door of the house during
the remainder of the day, with an undefined dread of seeing some one
approach who might cause them alarm. These mysterious visitations,
however, ceased towards noon, but they had left an impression of
impending evil on their minds, which they felt it impossible altogether
to suppress.

To explain to the reader the true character of these suspicious
wanderers, we must recur to Don Roderick, whom we left alone, in the
hall of his palace, at the departure of Father Christopher. The more he
reflected on his interview with the friar, the more was he enraged and
ashamed, that he should have dared to come to him with the rebuke of
Nathan to David on his lips. He paced with hurried steps through the
apartment, and as he gazed at the portraits of his ancestors, warriors,
senators, and abbots, which hung against its walls, he felt his
indignation at the insult which had been offered him increase. A
base-born friar to speak thus to one of noble birth! He formed plans of
vengeance, and discarded them, without his being willing to acknowledge
it to himself. The prediction of the father again sounded in his ears,
and caused an unaccustomed perplexity. Restless and undetermined, he
rang the bell, and ordered a servant to excuse him to the company, and
to say to them, that urgent business prevented his seeing them again.
The servant returned with the intelligence that the guests had departed.
"And the Count Attilio?" asked Don Roderick.

"He has gone with the gentlemen, my lord."

"Well; six followers to accompany me; quickly. My sword, cloak, and hat.
Be quick."

The servant left the room, and returned in a few moments with a rich
sword, which his master girded on; he then threw the cloak around his
shoulders, and donned his hat with its waving plumes with an air of
proud defiance. He then passed into the street, followed by six armed
ruffians, taking the road to Lecco. The peasantry and tradesmen shrunk
from his approach; their profound and timid salutations received no
notice from him; indeed, he acknowledged but by a slight inclination of
the head those of the neighbouring gentry, whose rank, however, was
incontestably inferior to his own. Indeed, the only man whose
salutations he condescended to return upon an equal footing was the
Spanish governor. In order to get rid of his _ennui_, and banish the
idea of the monk and his imprecations, he entered the house of a
gentleman, where a party was met together, and was received with that
apparent cordiality which it is a necessary policy to manifest towards
the powerful who are held in fear. On his return at night to his palace,
he found Count Attilio seated at supper. Don Roderick, full of thought,
took a chair, but said little.

Scarcely was the table cleared, and the servants departed, when the
count, beginning to rally his dull companion, said, "Cousin, when will
you pay me my wager?"

"San Martin's day has not yet passed."

"Well, you will have to pay it; for all the saints in the calendar may
pass, before you----"

"We will see about that!" said Don Roderick.

"Cousin, you would play the politician, but you cannot deceive me; I am
so certain that I have won the wager, that I stand ready for another."

"Why!"

"Why? because the father--the father--in short, this friar has converted
you."

"One of your fine imaginations, truly!"

"Converted, cousin, converted, I tell you; I rejoice at it; it will be a
fine spectacle to see you penitent, with your eyes cast down! And how
flattering to the father! he don't catch such fish every day. Be
assured, he will bring you forward as an example to others; your actions
will be trumpeted from the pulpit!"

"Enough, enough!" interrupted Don Roderick, half annoyed, and half
disposed to laugh. "I will double the wager with you, if you please."

"The devil! perhaps _you_ have converted the father!"

"Do not speak of him; but as to the wager, San Martin will decide." The
curiosity of the count was aroused; he made many enquiries, which Don
Roderick evaded, referring him to the day of decision.

The following morning, when he awoke, Don Roderick was "himself again."
The various emotions that had agitated him after his interview with the
father, had now resolved themselves into the simple desire of revenge.
Hardly risen, he sent for Griso.--"Something serious," muttered the
servant to whom the order was given; as this _Griso_ was nothing less
than the leader of the _bravoes_ to whom was intrusted the most
dangerous and daring enterprises, who was the most trusted by the
master, and the most devoted to him, from gratitude and interest. This
man had been guilty of murder; he had fled from the pursuit of justice
to the palace of Don Roderick, who took him under his protection, and
thus sheltered him from the pursuit of the law. He, therefore, stood
pledged to the performance of any deed of villany that should be imposed
on him.

"Griso," said Don Roderick, "you must show your skill in this
emergency. Before to-morrow, this Lucy must be in this palace."

"It shall never be said that Griso failed to execute a command from his
illustrious protector."

"Take as many men as are necessary, and dispose of them as appears to
you best; only let the thing succeed. But be careful that no harm be
done to her."

"Signor, a little fright--we cannot do less."

"Fright--may be unavoidable. But touch not a hair of her head; and,
above all, treat her with the greatest respect. Do you hear?"

"Signor, I could not take a flower from the bush, and carry it to your
Highness, without touching it; but I will do only what is absolutely
necessary."

"Well; I trust thee. And--how wilt thou do it?"

"I was thinking, signor. It is fortunate that her cottage is at the
extremity of the village; we have need of some place of concealment; and
not far from her house there is that old uninhabited building in the
middle of the fields, that one--but, your Highness knows nothing of
these matters--which was burnt a few years ago, and, not having been
repaired, is now deserted, except by the witches, who keep all cowardly
rascals away from it; so that we may take safe possession."

"Well; what then?"

Here Griso went on to propose, and Don Roderick to approve, until they
had agreed upon the manner of conducting the enterprise to the desired
conclusion, without leaving a trace of the authors of it: and also upon
the manner of imposing silence, not only upon poor Agnes, but also upon
the more impatient and fiery Renzo.

"If this rash fellow fall in your way by chance," added Don Roderick,
"you had best give him, on his shoulders, something he will remember; so
that he will be more likely to obey the order to remain quiet, which he
will receive to-morrow. Do you hear?"

"Yes, yes, leave it to me," said Griso, as, with an air of importance,
he took his leave.

The morning was spent in reconnoitring,--the mendicant of whom we have
spoken was Griso; the others were the villains whom he employed, to
gain a more perfect knowledge of the scene of action. They returned to
the palace to arrange and mature the enterprise;--all these mysterious
movements were not effected without rousing the suspicions of the old
domestic, who, partly by listening, and partly by conjecture, came to
the knowledge of the concerted attempt of the evening. This knowledge
came a little too late, for already a body of ruffians were laying in
wait in the old house. However, the poor old man, although well aware of
the dangerous game he played, did not fail to perform his promise; he
left the palace on some slight pretence, and hurried to the convent.
Griso and his band left shortly after, and met at the old building,--the
former had previously left orders at the palace, that, at the approach
of night, there should be a litter brought thither,--he then despatched
three of the bravoes to the village inn; one to remain at its entrance
to observe the movements on the road, and to give notice when the
inhabitants should have retired to rest; the other two to occupy
themselves within as idlers, gaming and drinking. Griso, with the rest
of the troop, continued in ambush, on the watch.

All this was going forward, and the sun was about to set, when Renzo
entered the cottage, and said to Lucy and her mother, "Tony and Jervase
are ready; I am going with them to sup at the inn; at the sound of the
'Ave Maria,' we will come for you; take courage, Lucy, all depends on a
moment."

"Oh, yes," said Lucy, "courage;" with a voice that contradicted her
words.

When Renzo and his companions arrived at the inn, they found the door
blockaded by a sentinel, who, leaning on one side of it, with his arms
folded on his breast, occupied half its width; at the same time rolling
his eagle eyes first to the right and then to the left, displaying
alternately their blacks and their whites. A flat cap of crimson velvet,
placed sideways, covered the half of the _long lock_, which, parted on a
dark forehead, was fastened behind with a comb. He held in his hand a
club; his arms, properly speaking, were concealed beneath his garments.
When Renzo evinced a desire to enter, he looked at him fixedly without
moving; of this, the young man, wishing to decline all conversation,
took no notice, but, beckoning to his companions to follow his example,
slid between the figure and the door-post. Having gained an entrance, he
beheld the other two bravoes with a large mug between them, seated at
play; they stared at him with a look of enquiry, making signs to each
other, and then to their comrade at the door. This was not unobserved by
Renzo, and his mind was filled with a vague sentiment of suspicion and
alarm. The innkeeper came for his orders; which were, "a private room,
and supper for three."

"Who are those strangers?" asked he of the landlord, when he came in to
set the table.

"I do not know them," replied he.

"How! neither of them?"

"The first rule of our trade," said he, spreading the cloth, "is, not to
meddle with the affairs of others; and, what is wonderful, even our
women are not curious. It is enough for us that customers pay well; who
they are, or who they are not, matters nothing. And now, I will bring
you a dish of polpette, the like of which you have never eaten."

When he returned to the kitchen, and was employed in taking the polpette
from the fire, one of the bravoes approached, and said, in an under
tone, "Who are those men?"

"Good people of this village," replied the host, pouring the mince-meat
into a dish.

"Well; but what are their names? Who are they?" insisted he, in a rough
voice.

"One is called Renzo," replied the host; "esteemed a good youth, and an
excellent weaver of silk. The other is a peasant, whose name is Tony; a
jovial fellow,--it is a pity he has no more money, for he would spend it
all here. The other is a simpleton, who eats when they feed him. By your
leave----" So saying, he slipped past him, with the dish in his hand,
and carried it to the place of its destination.

"How do you know?" said Renzo, continuing the conversation from the
point at which it had been dropped, "how do you know that they are
honest men, when you are not acquainted with them?"

"From their actions, my good fellow; men are known by their actions. He
who drinks wine without criticising it; he who shows the face of the
king on the counter without prattling; he who does not quarrel with
other customers, and, if he has a blow or two to give, goes away from
the inn, so that the poor host need not suffer from it; _he_ is an
honest man. But what the devil makes you so inquisitive, when you are
engaged to be married, and should have other things in your head? And
with this mince-meat before you, which would make the dead revive?" So
saying, he returned to the kitchen.

The supper was not very agreeable; the two guests would have lingered
over the unusual luxury; but Renzo, preoccupied, and troubled and uneasy
at the singular appearance of the strangers, longed for the hour of
departure. He conversed in brief sentences, and in an under tone, so
that he might not be overheard by them.

"What an odd thing it is," blundered Jervase, "that Renzo wishes to be
married, and has needed----" Renzo looked sternly at him. "Keep silence,
you beast!" said Tony to him, accompanying the epithet with a cuff.
Jervase obeyed, and the remainder of the repast was consumed in silence.
Renzo observed a strict sobriety, in order to keep his companions under
some restraint. Supper being over, he paid the reckoning, and prepared
to depart: they were obliged to pass the three men again, and encounter
a repetition of their eager gaze. When a few steps distant from the inn,
Renzo, looking back, perceived that he was followed by the two whom he
had left seated in the kitchen. He stopped; observing this, they stopped
also, and retraced their steps.

If he had been near enough, he would have heard a few words of strange
import; "It would be a glorious thing," said one of the scoundrels,
"without reckoning the cash, if we could tell at the palace how we had
flattened their ribs,--without the direction, too, of Signor Griso."

"And spoil the whole work," added the other; "but see! he stops to look
at us! Oh! if it were only later! But let us turn back, not to create
suspicion. People are coming on all sides; let us wait till they go to
their rests."

Then was heard in the village the busy hum of the evening, which
precedes the solemn stillness of the night; then were seen women
returning from their daily labour, with their infants on their backs,
and leading by the hand the older children, to whom they were repeating
the evening prayers; men with their spades, and other instruments of
culture, thrown over their shoulders. At the opening of the cottage
doors, was discerned the bright light of the fires, kindled in order to
prepare their meagre suppers; in the street there were salutations given
and returned, brief and mournful observations on the poverty of the
harvest, and the scarcity of the year; and at intervals was heard the
measured strokes of the bell which announced the departure of the day.

When Renzo saw that the two men no longer followed him, he continued his
way, giving instructions, in a low voice, from time to time, to his two
companions. It was dark night when they arrived at the cottage of Lucy.

    "Between the acting of a dreadful thing
    And the first motion, all the interim is
    Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream."

Lucy endured many hours the anguish of such a dream; and Agnes, even
Agnes, the author of the plot, was thoughtful and silent. But, in the
moment of action, new and various emotions pass swiftly through the
mind: at one instant, that which had appeared difficult becomes
perfectly easy; at another, obstacles present themselves which were
never before thought of, the imagination is filled with alarm, the limbs
refuse their office, and the heart fails at the promise it had given
with such security. At the gentle knock of Renzo, Lucy was seized with
such terror, that, at the moment, she resolved to suffer any thing, to
endure a separation from him for ever, rather than execute her
resolution; but when, with an assured and encouraging air, he said, "All
is ready; let us begone," she had neither heart nor time to suggest
difficulties. Agnes and Renzo placed her between them, and the
adventurous company set forward. Slowly and quietly they took the path
that led around the village,--it would have been nearer to pass directly
through it, to Don Abbondio's house, but their object was to avoid
observation. Upon reaching the house, the lovers remained concealed on
one side of it, Agnes a little in advance, so as to be prepared to speak
to Perpetua as soon as she should make her appearance. Tony, with
Jervase, who did nothing, but _without_ whom nothing could be done,
courageously knocked at the door.

"Who is there, at this hour?" cried a voice from the window, which they
recognised to be that of Perpetua. "No one is sick, that I know of. What
is the matter?"

"It is I," replied Tony, "with my brother; we want to speak with the
curate."

"Is this an hour for Christians?" replied Perpetua, briskly. "Come
to-morrow."

"Hear me; I will come, or not, as I choose; I have received I can't tell
how much money, and I have come to balance the small account that you
know of. I have here twenty-five fine new pieces; but if he cannot see
me,--well--I know how and where to spend them."

"Wait, wait. I will speak to you in a moment. But why come at this
hour?"

"If you can change the hour, I am willing; as for me, I am here, and, if
you don't want me to stay, I'll go away."

"No, no, wait a moment; I will give you an answer." So saying, she
closed the window. As soon as she disappeared, Agnes separated herself
from the lovers, saying to Lucy, in a low voice, "Courage, it is but a
moment." She then entered into conversation with Tony at the door, that
Perpetua, on opening it, might suppose she had been accidentally passing
by, and that Tony had detained her.



CHAPTER VIII.


"Carneades! who was he?" said Don Abbondio to himself, seated in his
large chair, with a book open before him. "Carneades! this name I have
either heard or read of; he must have been a man of study, a scholar of
antiquity; but who the devil _was_ he?" Now, it should be known, that it
was Don Abbondio's custom to read a little every day, and that a curate,
his neighbour, who had a small library, furnished him with books, one
after the other, as they came to hand. That with which he was at this
moment engaged, was a panegyric on St. Carlos, delivered many years
before in the cathedral of Milan. The saint was there compared for his
love of study to Archimedes; which comparison the poor curate well
understood, inasmuch as this did not require, from the various anecdotes
related of him, an erudition very extensive. But the author went on to
liken him also to Carneades, and here the poor reader was at fault. At
this moment, Perpetua announced the visit of Tony.

"At such an hour?" said Don Abbondio.

"What do you expect? They have no discretion. But if you do not shoot
the bird flying----"

"Who knows if I shall ever be able to do it?" continued he. "Let him
come in. But are you very sure that it is Tony?"

"The devil!" said Perpetua, as she descended, and, opening the door,
demanded, "Where are you?"

Tony appeared, in company with Agnes, who accosted Perpetua by name.

"Good evening, Agnes," said she; "whence come you at this hour?"

"I come from----," naming a neighbouring village. "And do you know," she
continued, "that I have been delayed on your account?"

"On my account!" exclaimed she; and turning to the two brothers, said,
"Go in, and I will follow you."

"Because," resumed Agnes, "a gossiping woman of the company said--would
you believe it?--obstinately persisted in saying, that you were never
engaged to Beppo Suolavecchia, nor to Anselmo Lunghigna, because they
would not have you. I maintained that you had refused them both----"

"Certainly I did. Oh! what a liar! oh! what a great liar! Who was it?"

"Don't ask me; I don't wish to make mischief."

"You must tell me; you must tell me. Oh! what a lie!"

"So it was; but you can't believe how sorry I felt not to know all the
story, that I might have confuted her."

"It is an infamous lie," said Perpetua. "As to Beppo, every one
knows----"

In front of Don Abbondio's house, there was a short and narrow lane,
between two old cottages, which opened at the farther end into the
fields. Agnes drew Perpetua thither, as if for the purpose of talking
with her more freely. When they were at a spot, from which they could
not see what passed before the curate's house, Agnes coughed loudly.

This was the concerted signal, which, being heard by Renzo, he, with
Lucy on his arm, crept quietly along the wall, approached the door,
opened it softly, and entered the passage, where the two brothers were
waiting their approach. They all ascended the stairs on tiptoe; the
brothers advanced towards the door of the chamber; the lovers remained
concealed on the landing.

"_Deo gratias_," said Tony, in a clear voice.

"Tony, eh? come in," replied the voice from within. Tony obeyed, opening
the door just enough to admit himself and brother, one at a time. The
rays of light, which shone unexpectedly through this opening on the
darkness by which Renzo and Lucy were protected, made the latter tremble
as if already discovered. The brothers entered, and Tony closed the
door; the lovers remained motionless without; the beating of poor Lucy's
heart might be heard in the stillness.

Don Abbondio was, as we have said, seated in his arm chair, wrapped in
a morning-gown, with an old cap on his head, in the fashion of a tiara,
which formed a sort of cornice around his face, and shaded it from the
dim light of a little lamp. Two thick curls which escaped from beneath
the cap, two thick eyebrows, two thick mustachios, a dense tuft along
his chin, all quite grey, and studding his sun-burnt and wrinkled
visage, might be compared to snowy bushes projecting from a rock by
moonlight.

"Ah! ah!" was his salutation, as he took off his spectacles and placed
them on his book.

"Does the curate think I have come at too late an hour?" said Tony,
bowing: Jervase awkwardly followed his example.

"Certainly, it is late; late on all accounts. Do you know that I am
ill?"

"Oh! I am sorry."

"Did you not hear that I was sick, and could not be seen? But why is
this boy with you?"

"For company, Signor Curate."

"Well; let us see."

"Here are twenty-five new pieces, with the image of St. Ambrose on
horseback," said Tony, drawing forth a little bundle from his pocket.

"Give here," said Don Abbondio; and taking the bundle, he opened it,
counted the money, and found it correct.

"Now, sir, you will give me the necklace of my Teela."

"Certainly," replied Don Abbondio; and going to an old press, he drew
forth the pledge, and carefully returned it.

"Now," said Tony, "you will please to put it in black and white?"

"Eh!" said Don Abbondio, "how suspicious the world has become! Do you
not trust me?"

"How! Sir. If I trust you! you do me wrong. But since my name is on your
book on the side of debtor----"

"Well, well," interrupted Don Abbondio; and seating himself at the
table, he began to write, repeating, with a loud voice, the words as
they came from his pen. In the meanwhile, Tony, and, at a sign from him,
Jervase, placed themselves before the table, in such a manner as to
deprive the writer of a view of the door; and, as if from heedlessness,
moved their feet about on the floor, as a signal to those without, and
also for the purpose of drowning the noise of their footsteps; of this
Don Abbondio, occupied in writing, took no notice. At the grating sounds
of the feet Renzo drew Lucy trembling into the room, and stood with her
behind the brothers. Don Abbondio, having finished writing, read it over
attentively, folded the paper, and reaching it to Tony, said, "Will you
be satisfied now?" Tony, on receiving it, retired on one side, Jervase
on the other, and, behold, in the midst, Renzo and Lucy! Don Abbondio,
affrighted, astonished, and enraged, took an immediate resolution; and
while Renzo was uttering the words, "Sir Curate, in the presence of
these witnesses, this is my wife," and the poor Lucy had begun, "And
this is----" he had snatched from the table the cloth which covered it,
throwing on the ground books, pen, ink, and paper, and in haste letting
fall the light, he threw it over and held it wrapped around the face of
Lucy, at the same time roaring out, "Perpetua! Perpetua! treachery!
help!" The wick, dying in the socket, sent a feeble and flickering light
over the figure of Lucy, who, entirely overcome, stood like a statue,
making no effort to free herself. The light died away, and left them in
darkness; Don Abbondio quitted the poor girl, and felt cautiously along
the wall for a door that led to an inner chamber; having found it, he
entered, and locked himself in, crying out, "Perpetua! treachery! help!
out of the house! out of the house!" All was confusion in the apartment
he had quitted; Renzo, groping in the dark to find the curate, had
followed the sound of his voice, and was knocking at the door of the
room, crying, "Open, open; don't make such an outcry;" Lucy calling to
Renzo, in a supplicating voice, "Let us go, let us go, for the love of
God!" Tony, creeping on all fours, and feeling along the floor for his
receipt, which had been dropped in the tumult; the poor Jervase, crying
and jumping, and endeavouring to find the door on the stairs, so as to
escape with whole bones.

In the midst of this turmoil, we cannot stop to make reflections; but
Renzo, causing disturbance at night in another person's house, and
holding the master of it besieged in an inner room, has all the
appearance of an oppressor; when in fact he was the oppressed. Don
Abbondio, assaulted in his own house, while he was tranquilly attending
to his affairs, appeared the victim; when, in fact, it was he who had
inflicted the injury. Thus goes the world, or rather, thus it went in
the seventeenth century.

The besieged, seeing that the enemy gave no signs of retreat, opened a
window which looked out upon the churchyard, and cried, "Help, help!"
The moon shone brightly--every object could be clearly discerned as in
the day; but a deep repose rested over all--there was no indication of a
living soul. Contiguous to the church, and on that side of it which
fronted the parsonage, was a small habitation in which slept the sexton.
Aroused by this strange outcry, he jumped from his bed, opened the small
window, with his eyelids glued together all the time, and cried, "What
is the matter?"

"Run, Ambrose, run! help! people in the house!" cried Don Abbondio. "I
come in a moment," replied he, drawing in his head; he closed his
curtain, and half stupid, and half affrighted, thought of an expedient
to bring more help than had been required of him, without risking his
own life in the contest, whatever it might be. He hastily took his
breeches from the bed, and putting them under his arm, like an opera
hat, ran to the belfry and pulled away lustily.

_Ton, Ton, Ton_; the peasant aroused, sat up in his bed; the boy,
sleeping in the hay-loft, listened eagerly, and sprang on his feet;
"What is the matter? What is it? Fire! Robbers!" Each woman entreated
her husband not to stir, but to leave it to others: such as were cowards
obeyed, whilst the inquisitive and courageous took their arms, and ran
towards the noise.

Long before this, however, the alarm had been given to other personages
of our story; the bravoes in one place; and Agnes and Perpetua in
another. It is necessary to relate briefly how the former had been
occupied, since we last took leave of them; those at the old house, and
those at the inn. The latter, when they ascertained that the
inhabitants of the village had retired to rest, and that the road was
clear, went to the cottage of Lucy, and found that a perfect stillness
reigned within. They then returned to the old house to give in their
report to Signor Griso. He immediately put on a slouched hat, with a
pilgrim's habit, and staff, saying, "Let us act as becometh soldiers;
cautious, quiet, and attentive to orders." Then leading the way, he,
with his company, arrived at the cottage, by a route different from that
taken by our poor cottagers. Griso kept the band a few steps off, went
forward alone to explore, and seeing all deserted and quiet on the
outside, he beckoned to two of them, ordered them to mount very
carefully and quietly the wall which enclosed the court-yard, and to
conceal themselves on the other side behind a thick fig-tree, which he
had observed in the morning. That being done, he knocked gently at the
door, with the intention to call himself a pilgrim, who had wandered
from his way, and request shelter until the morning. No answer; he
knocked again, louder; not a sound! He then called a third robber, made
him also descend into the yard, with orders to unfasten the bolt on the
inside, so that they might have free entrance. All was performed with
the utmost caution, and the most complete success. Griso then called the
rest, and made some of them conceal themselves by the side of those
behind the fig-tree; he then opened the door very softly, placed two
centinels on the inside of it, and advanced to the lower chamber. He
knocked; he waited--and well might wait; he raised the latch; no one
from within said, "Who is there?" Nothing could go on better. He then
called the robbers from the fig-tree, and with them entered the room
where he had in the morning so villanously received the loaf of bread.
He drew out his flint, tinder-box, and matches, and striking a light,
proceeded to the inner chamber; it was empty! He returned to the stairs,
and listened; solitude and silence! He left two to keep watch below, and
with the others carefully ascended the stairs, cursing in his heart the
creaking of the steps. He reached the summit, pushed softly open the
door of the first room, and listened if any one breathed or moved: no
one! He advanced, shading his face with the lamp, and perceived a bed;
it was made, and perfectly smooth, with the covering arranged in order
on the bolster! He shrugged his shoulders, and returning to the company,
made a sign to them, that he was going into the other room, and that
they should remain quietly behind,--he did so, and had the same success;
all deserted and quiet.

"What the devil's this?" said he aloud; "some traitorous dog has played
the spy!" They then searched with less ceremony the rest of the house,
putting every thing out of its place. Meanwhile those at the doorway
heard a light step approaching in the street,--they kept very quiet,
thinking it would pass on; but, behold! it stopped exactly in front of
the cottage! It was Menico, who had come in haste from the convent, to
warn Agnes and her daughter to escape from the house, and take refuge
_there_, because--the _because_ is already known. He was surprised to
find the door unbolted, and entering with a vague sentiment of alarm,
found himself seized by two ruffians, who said in a menacing tone,
"Hush! be quiet, or you die!" He uttered a cry, at which one struck him
a blow on the mouth, the other placed his hand on his sword to inspire
him with fear. The boy trembled like a leaf, and did not attempt to
stir; but all at once was heard the first sound of the bell, and
immediately after, a thundering peel burst forth. "The wicked are always
cowards," says a Milanese proverb; alarmed at the sound, the bravoes let
go in haste the arms of Menico, and fled away hastily to the old house,
to join the main body of their comrades. Menico, finding himself free,
also fled, by the way of the fields, towards the belfry, naturally
supposing he would find some one there. As to the other villains above
stairs, the terrible sound made the same impression on them; amazed and
perplexed, they hit one against the other, in striving to find the
nearest way to the door. Nevertheless, they were brave, and accustomed
to confront any known danger; but here was something unusual, an
undetermined peril, and they became panic-struck. It now required all
the superiority of Griso to keep them together, so that there should be
a retreat, and not a flight. He succeeded, however, in assembling them
in the middle of the court-yard. "Halt, halt," cried he, "pistols in
hand, knives ready, all in order, and then we will march. Cowards! for
shame! fall behind me, and keep together." Reduced to order, they
followed him in silence.

We will leave them, in order to give an account of Agnes and Perpetua,
whom we left at the end of the little lane, engaged in conversation.
Agnes had managed to draw the latter off to some distance, by dint of
appearing to give great heed to her story, which she urged on by an
occasional "Certainly; now I comprehend; that is plain; and then? and
he? and you?" In the midst of an important part of her narrative, the
deep silence of the night was broken by the cry of Don Abbondio for
"_help!_" "Mercy! what is the matter?" cried Perpetua, and prepared to
run.

"What is the matter? what is the matter?" cried Agnes, holding her by
the gown.

"Mercy! did you not hear?" replied she, struggling to get free.

"What is the matter? what is the matter?" repeated Agnes, holding her
firmly by the arm.

"Devil of a woman!" exclaimed Perpetua, still struggling. Then was heard
at a distance the light scream of Menico.

"Mercy!" cried Agnes also, and they both ran at full speed; the sound of
the bell, which now succeeded, spurred them on. Perpetua arrived first,
and, behold, at the door, Tony, Jervase, Renzo, and Lucy, who had found
the stairs, and, at the terrible sound of the bell, were flying to some
place of safety.

"What is the matter? What is the matter?" demanded Perpetua, out of
breath, of the brothers. They answered her with a violent push, and fled
away. "And you! what are you here for?" said she then to Renzo and Lucy.
They made no reply. She then ascended the stairs in haste, to seek her
master. The two lovers (still lovers) stood before Agnes, who, alarmed
and grieved, said, "Ah! you are here! How has it gone? Why did the bell
ring?"

"Home, home!" said Renzo, "before the people gather." But Menico now
appeared running to meet them. He was out of breath, and hardly able to
cry out, "Back! back! by the way of the convent. There is the devil at
the house," continued he, panting; "I saw him, I did; he was going to
kill me. The Father Christopher says you must come quickly.--I saw him,
I did.--I am glad I found you all here,--I will tell you all when we are
safe off."

Renzo, who was the most self-possessed of the party, thought it best to
follow his advice. "Let us follow him," said he, to the females. They
silently obeyed, and the little company moved on. They hastily crossed
the churchyard, passing through a private street, into the fields. They
were not many paces distant, before the people began to collect, each
one asking of his neighbour what was the matter, and no one being able
to answer the question. The first that arrived ran to the door of the
church: it was fastened. They then looked through a little window into
the belfry, and demanded the cause of the alarm. When Ambrose heard a
known voice, and knew, by the hum, that there was an assemblage of
people without, he hastily slipped on that part of his dress which he
had carried under his arm, and opened the church door.

"What is all this tumult? What is the matter? Where is it?"

"Where is it? Do you not know? Why, in the curate's house. Run, run."
They rushed in a crowd thither; looked,--listened. All was quiet. The
street door was fastened; not a window open; not a sound within.

"Who is within there? Holla! holla! Signor Curate, Signor Curate!"

Don Abbondio, who, as soon as he was relieved by the flight of the
invaders, had retired from the window, and closed it, was now
quarrelling with Perpetua for leaving him to bear the brunt of the
battle alone. When he heard himself called by name, by the people
outside, he repented of the rashness which had produced this undesired
result.

"What has happened? Who are they? Where are they? What have they done to
you?" cried a hundred voices at a time.

"There is no one here now; I am much obliged to you.--Return to your
houses."

"But who _has_ been here? Where have they gone? What has happened?"

"Bad people, bad people, who wander about in the night; but they have
all fled.--Return to your houses. I thank you for your kindness." So
saying, he retired and shut the window. There was a general murmur of
disappointment through the crowd. Some laughed, some swore, some
shrugged up their shoulders and went home; but at this moment a person
came running towards them, panting and breathless. He lived at the house
opposite to the cottage of Lucy, and had witnessed from the window the
alarm of the bravoes, when Griso endeavoured to collect them in the
court-yard. When he recovered breath, he cried, "What do you do here,
friends? The devil is not here, he is down at the house of Agnes
Mondella. Armed people are in it. It seems they wish to murder a
pilgrim; but who knows what the devil it is?"

"What! what! what!" And then began a tumultuous conversation. "Let us
go. How many are there? How many are we? Who are they?--The constable!
the constable!"

"I am here," replied the constable, from the midst of the crowd, "I am
here, but you must assist me; you must obey.--Quick;--where is the
sexton? To the bell, to the bell. Quick; some one run to Lecco to ask
for succour.--Come this way." The tumult was great, and as they were
about to depart for the cottage of Agnes, another messenger came flying,
and exclaimed, "Run, friends;--robbers who are carrying off a pilgrim.
They are already out of the village! On! on! this way."

In obedience to this command they moved in a mass, without waiting the
orders of their leader, towards the cottage of Lucy. While the army
advances, many of those at the head of the column, slacken their pace,
not unwilling to leave the post of honour to their more adventurous
friends in the rear. The confused multitude at length reach the scene of
action. The traces of recent invasion were manifest,--the door open, the
bolts loosened, but the invaders, where were they? They entered the
court, advanced into the house, and called loudly, "Agnes! Lucy!
Pilgrim! Where is the pilgrim! Did Stephano dream that he saw him? No,
no, Carlandrea saw him also. Hallo! Pilgrim! Agnes! Lucy! No reply! They
have killed them! they have killed them!" There was then a proposition
to follow the murderers, which would have been acceded to, had not a
voice from the crowd cried out, that Agnes and Lucy were in safety in
some house. Satisfied with this, they soon dispersed to their homes, to
relate to their wives that which had happened. The next day, however,
the constable being in his field, and, with his foot resting on his
spade, meditating on the mysteries of the past night, was accosted by
two men, much resembling, in their appearance, those whom Don Abbondio
had encountered a few days before. They very unceremoniously forbade him
to make a deposition of the events of the night before the magistrate,
and, if questioned by any of the gossips of the villagers, to maintain a
perfect silence on pain of death.

Our fugitives for a while continued their flight, rapidly and silently,
utterly overwhelmed by the fatigue of their flight, by their late
anxiety, by vexation and disappointment at their failure, and a confused
apprehension of some future danger. As the sound of the bell died away
on the ear, they slackened their pace. Agnes, gathering breath and
courage, first broke the silence, by asking Renzo what had been done at
the curate's? He related briefly his melancholy story. "And who," said
she to Menico, "was the devil in the house? What did you mean by that?"
The boy narrated that of which he had been an eye-witness, and which
imparted a mingled feeling of alarm and gratitude to the minds of his
auditors,--alarm at the obstinacy of Don Roderick in pursuing his
purpose, and gratitude that they had thus escaped his snares. They
caressed affectionately the boy who had been placed in so great danger
on their account: Renzo gave him a piece of money in addition to the
new coin already promised, and desired him to say nothing of the message
given him by Father Christopher. "Now, return home," said Agnes,
"because thy family will be anxious about thee: you have been a good
boy; go home, and pray the Lord that we may soon meet again." The boy
obeyed, and our travellers advanced in silence. Lucy kept close to her
mother, dexterously but gently declining the arm of her lover. She felt
abashed, even in the midst of all this confusion, at having been so long
and so familiarly alone with him, while expecting that a few moments
longer would have seen her his wife: but this dream had vanished, and
she felt most sensitively the apparent indelicacy of their situation.
They at length reached the open space before the church of the convent.
Renzo advanced towards the door, and pushed it gently. It opened, and
they beheld, by the light of the moon, which then fell upon his pallid
face and silvery beard, the form of Father Christopher, who was there in
anxious expectation of their arrival. "God be thanked!" said he, as they
entered. By his side stood a capuchin, whose office was that of sexton
to the church, whom he had persuaded to leave the door half open, and to
watch with him. He had been very unwilling to submit to this
inconvenient and dangerous condescension, which it required all the
authority of the holy father to overcome; but, perceiving who the
company were, he could endure no longer. Taking the father aside, he
whispered, to him, "But Father--Father--at night--in the church--with
women--shut--the rules--but Father!----" "Omnia munda mundis," replied
he, turning meekly to Friar Fazio, and forgetting that he did not
understand Latin. But this forgetfulness was exactly the most fortunate
thing in the world. If the father had produced arguments, Friar Fazio
would not have failed to oppose them; but these mysterious words, he
concluded, must contain a solution of all his doubts. He acquiesced,
saying, "Very well; you know more than I do."

Father Christopher then turned to our little company, who were standing
in suspense, by the light of a lamp which was flickering before the
altar. "Children," said he, "thank the Lord, who has preserved you from
great peril. Perhaps at this moment----" and he entered into an
explanation of the reasons which had induced him to send for them to the
convent, little suspecting that they knew more than he did, and
supposing that Menico had found them tranquil at their home, before the
arrival of the robbers. No one undeceived him, not even Lucy, although
suffering the keenest anguish at practising dissimulation with such a
man; but it was a night of confusion and duplicity.

"Now," continued he, "you perceive, my children, that this country is no
longer safe for you. It is your country, I know; you were born here; you
have wronged no one: but such is the will of God! It is a trial,
children, support it with patience, with faith, without murmuring; and
be assured, there will come a day, in which you will see the wisdom of
all that now befalls you. I have procured you a refuge for a season, and
I hope you will soon be able to return safely to your home; at all
events, God will provide, and I his minister will faithfully exert
myself to serve you, my poor persecuted children. You," continued he,
turning to the females, "can remain at ----. There you will be beyond
danger, and yet not far from home; go to our convent in that place, ask
for the superior, give him this letter, he will be to you another Friar
Christopher. And thou, my Renzo, thou must place thyself in safety from
the impetuosity of others, and your own. Carry this letter to Father
Bonaventura, of Lodi, in our convent at the eastern gate of Milan; he
will be to you a father, will advise you, and find you work, until you
can return to live here tranquilly. Now, go to the border of the lake,
near the mouth of the Bione" (a stream a short distance from the
convent); "you will see there a small boat fastened; you must say, 'A
boat;' you will be asked for whom, answer, 'Saint Francis.' The boatman
will receive you, will take you to the other side, where you will find a
carriage, which will conduct you to ----. If any one should ask how
Father Christopher came to have at his disposal such means of transport
by land and by water, he would show little knowledge of the power
possessed by a capuchin who held the reputation of a saint."

The charge of the houses remained to be thought of; the father received
the keys of them; Agnes, on consigning hers, thought with a sigh, that
there was no need of keys, the house was open, the devil had been there,
and it was doubtful if there remained any thing to be cared for.

"Before you go," said the father, "let us pray together to the Lord,
that he may be with you in this journey, and always, and above all, that
he may give you strength to submit cheerfully to that which he has
ordained." So saying, he knelt down; all did the same. Having prayed a
few moments in silence, he pronounced with a low but distinct voice the
following words: "We pray thee also for the wretched man who has brought
us to this state. We should be unworthy of thy mercy if we did not
earnestly solicit it for him: he has most need of it. We, in our sorrow,
have the consolation of trusting in thee; we can still offer thee our
supplications, with thankfulness. But he--he is an enemy to thee! Oh
wretched man! He dares to strive against thee: have pity on him, O Lord!
touch his heart, soften his rebellious will, and bestow on him all the
good we would desire for ourselves."

Rising hastily, he then said, "Away, my children, there is no time to
lose; God will go with you, his angel protect you: away." They kept
silence from emotion, and as they departed, the father added, "My heart
tells me we shall soon meet again." Without waiting for a reply, he
retired; the travellers pursued their way to the appointed spot, found
the boat, gave and received the watchword, and entered into it. The
boatmen made silently for the opposite shore: there was not a breath of
wind; the lake lay polished and smooth in the moonlight, agitated only
by the dipping of the oars, which quivered in its gleam. The waves
breaking on the sands of the shore, were heard deadly and slowly at a
distance, mingled with the rippling of the waters between the pillars of
the bridge.

The silent passengers cast a melancholy look behind at the mountains and
the landscape, illumined by the moon, and varied by multitudes of
shadows. They discerned villages, houses, cottages; the palace of Don
Roderick, raised above the huts that crowded the base of the promontory,
like a savage prowling in the dark over his slumbering prey. Lucy beheld
it, and shuddered; then cast a glance beyond the declivity, towards her
own little home, and beheld the top of the fig-tree which towered in the
court-yard; moved at the sight, she buried her face in her hands, and
wept in silence.

Farewell, ye mountains, source of waters! farewell to your varied
summits, familiar as the faces of friends! ye torrents, whose voices
have been heard from infancy! Farewell! how melancholy the destiny of
one, who, bred up amid your scenes, bids you farewell! If voluntarily
departing with the hope of future gain at this moment, the dream of
wealth loses its attraction, his resolution falters, and he would fain
remain with you, were it not for the hope of benefiting you by his
prosperity. The more he advances into the level country, the more his
view becomes wearied with its uniform extent; the air appears heavy and
lifeless: he proceeds sorrowfully and thoughtfully into the tumultuous
city; houses crowded against houses, street uniting with street, appears
to deprive him of the power to breathe; and in front of edifices admired
by strangers, he stops to recall, with restless desire, the image of the
field and the cottage which had long been the object of his wishes, and
which, on his return to his mountains, he will make his own, should he
acquire the wealth of which he is in pursuit.

But how much more sorrowful the moment of separation to him, who, having
never sent a transient wish beyond the mountains, feels that they
comprise the limit of his earthly hopes, and yet is driven from them by
an adverse fate; who is compelled to quit them to go into a foreign
land, with scarcely a hope of return! Then he breaks forth into mournful
exclamations. "Farewell native cottage! where, many a time and oft, I
have listened with eager ear, to distinguish, amidst the rumour of
footsteps, the well-known sound of those long expected and anxiously
desired. Farewell, ye scenes, where I had hoped to pass, tranquil and
content, the remnant of my days! Farewell, thou sanctuary of God, where
my soul has been filled with admiring thoughts of him, and my voice has
united with others to sing his praise! Farewell! He, whom I worshipped
within your walls, is not confined to temples made with hands; heaven is
his dwelling place, and the earth his footstool; he watches over his
children, and, if he chastises them, it is in love, to prepare them for
higher and holier enjoyments."

Of such a nature, if not precisely the same, were the reflections of
Lucy and her companions, as the bark carried them to the right bank of
the Adda.



CHAPTER IX.


The shock which the boat received, as it struck against the shore,
aroused Lucy from her reverie; they quitted the bark, and Renzo turned
to thank and reward the boatman. "I will take nothing--nothing," said
he: "we are placed on earth to aid one another." The carriage was ready,
the driver seated; its expected occupants took their places, and the
horses moved briskly on. Our travellers arrived then at Monza, which we
believe to have been the name of the place to which Father Christopher
had directed Renzo, a little after sunrise. The driver turned to an inn,
where he appeared to be well acquainted, and demanded for them a
separate room. He, as well as the boatman, refused the offered
recompence of Renzo; like the boatman, he had in view a reward, more
distant indeed, but more abundant; he withdrew his hand, and hastened to
look after his beast.

After an evening such as we have described, and a night passed in
painful thoughts both in regard to recent events and future
anticipations--disturbed, indeed, by the frequent joltings of their
incommodious vehicle,--our travellers felt a little rest in their
retired apartment at the inn highly necessary. They partook of a small
meal together, not more in proportion to the prevailing want, than to
their own slender appetites; and recurred with a sigh to the delightful
festivities, which, two days before, were to have accompanied their
happy union. Renzo would willingly have remained with his companions all
the day, to secure their lodging and perform other little offices. But
they strongly alleged the injunctions of Father Christopher, together
with the gossiping to which their continuing together would give rise,
so that he at length acquiesced. Lucy could not conceal her tears; Renzo
with difficulty restrained his; and, warmly pressing the hand of Agnes,
he pronounced with a voice almost choked, "Till we meet again."

The mother and daughter would have been in great perplexity, had it not
been for the kind driver, who had orders to conduct them to the convent,
which was at a little distance from the village. Upon their arrival
there, the guide requested the porter to call the superior: he appeared,
and the letter of Father Christopher was delivered to him. "Oh, from
Father Christopher!" said he, recognising the handwriting. His voice and
manner told evidently that he uttered the name of one whom he regarded
as a particular friend. During the perusal of the letter, he manifested
much surprise and indignation, and, raising his eyes, fixed them on Lucy
and her mother with an expression of pity and interest. When he had
finished reading, he remained for a moment thoughtful, and then
exclaimed, "There is no one but the signora; if the signora would take
upon herself this obligation----" and then addressing them, "My
friends," said he, "I will make the effort, and I hope to find you a
shelter, more than secure, more than honourable; so that God has
provided for you in the best manner. Will you come with me?"

The females bowed reverently in assent; the friar continued, "Come with
me, then, to the monastery of the signora. But keep yourselves a few
steps distant, because there are people who delight to speak evil of
others, and God knows how many fine stories might be told, if the
superior of the convent was seen walking with a beautiful young
woman--with women, I mean."

So saying, he went on before: Lucy blushed; the guide looked at Agnes,
who could not conceal a momentary smile; and they all three obeyed the
command of the friar, and followed him at a distance. "Who is the
signora?" said Agnes, addressing their conductor.

"The signora," replied he, "is not a nun; that is, not a nun like the
others. She is not the abbess, nor the prioress; for they say that _she_
is one of the youngest of them; but she is from Adam's rib, and her
ancestors were great people, who came from Spain; and they call her the
_signora_, to signify that she is a great lady,--every one calls her so,
because they say that in this monastery they have never had so noble a
person; and her relations down at Milan are very powerful, and in Monza
still more so; because her father is the first lord in the country; for
which reason she can do as she pleases in the convent,--and moreover
people abroad bear her a great respect, and if she undertakes a thing,
she makes it succeed; and if this good father induces her to take you
under her protection, you will be as safe as at the foot of the altar."

When the superior arrived at the gate of the town, which was defended at
that time by an old tower, and part of a dismantled castle, he stopped
and looked back to see if they followed him--then advanced towards the
monastery, and, remaining on the threshold, awaited their approach. The
guide then took his leave, not without many thanks from Agnes and her
daughter for his kindness and faithfulness. The superior led them to the
portress's chamber, and went alone to make the request of the signora.
After a few moments he re-appeared, and with a joyful countenance told
them that she would grant them an interview: on their way, he gave them
much advice concerning their deportment in her presence. "She is well
disposed towards you," said he, "and has the power to protect you. Be
humble, and respectful; reply with frankness to the questions she will
ask you, and when not questioned, be silent."

They passed through a lower chamber, and advanced towards the parlour.
Lucy, who had never been in a monastery before, looked around as she
entered it for the signora; but there was no one there; in a few
moments, however, she observed the friar approach a small window or
grating, behind which she beheld a nun standing. She appeared about
twenty-five years of age; her countenance at first sight produced an
impression of beauty, but of beauty prematurely faded. A black veil hung
in folds on either side of her face; below the veil a band of white
linen encircled a forehead of different, but not inferior whiteness;
another plaited band encompassed the face, and terminated under the chin
in a neck handkerchief, or cape, which, extending over the shoulders,
covered to the waist the folds of her black robe. But her forehead was
contracted from time to time, as if by some painful emotion; now, her
large black eye was fixed steadfastly on your face with an expression of
haughty curiosity, then hastily bent down as if to discover some hidden
thought; in certain moments an attentive observer would have deemed that
they solicited affection, sympathy, and pity; at others, he would have
received a transient revelation of hatred, matured by a cruel
disposition; when motionless and inattentive, some would have imagined
them to express haughty aversion, others would have suspected the
labouring of concealed thought, the effort to overcome some secret
feeling of her soul, which had more power over it than all surrounding
objects. Her cheeks were delicately formed, but extremely pale and thin;
her lips, hardly suffused with a feeble tinge of the rose, seemed to
soften into the pallid hue of the cheeks; their movements, like those of
her eyes, were sudden, animated, and full of expression and mystery. Her
loftiness of stature was not apparent, owing to an habitual stoop; as
well as to her rapid and irregular movements, little becoming a nun, or
even a lady. In her dress itself there was an appearance of studied
neglect, which announced a singular character; and from the band around
her temples was suffered to escape, through forgetfulness or contempt of
the rules which prohibited it, a curl of glossy black hair.

These things made no impression on the minds of Agnes and Lucy,
unaccustomed as they were to the sight of a nun; and to the superior it
was no novelty--he, as well as many others, had become familiarised to
her habit and manners.

She was, as we have said, standing near the grate, against which she
leaned languidly, to observe those who were approaching. "Reverend
mother, and most illustrious lady," said the superior, bending low,
"this is the poor young woman for whom I have solicited your protection,
and this is her mother."

Both mother and daughter bowed reverently. "It is fortunate that I have
it in my power," said she, turning to the father, "to do some little
service to our good friends the capuchin fathers. But tell me a little
more particularly, the situation of this young woman, that I may be
better prepared to act for her advantage."

Lucy blushed, and held down her head. "You must know, reverend mother,"
said Agnes--but the father interrupted her;--"This young person, most
illustrious lady," continued he, "has been recommended to me, as I have
told you, by one of my brethren. She has been obliged to depart secretly
from her native place, in order to escape heavy perils; and she has need
for some time of an asylum, where she can remain unknown, and where no
one will dare to molest her."

"What perils?" demanded the lady. "Pray, father, do not talk so
enigmatically: you know, we nuns like to hear stories minutely."

"They are perils," replied the father, "that should not be told to the
pure ears of the reverend mother."--"Oh, certainly," said the lady,
hastily, and slightly blushing. Was this the blush of modesty? He would
have doubted it, who should have observed the rapid expression of
disdain which accompanied it, or have compared it with that which from
time to time diffused itself over the cheek of Lucy.

"It is sufficient to say," resumed the friar, "that a powerful lord--it
is not all the rich and noble who make use of the gifts of God for the
promotion of his glory, as you do, most illustrious lady--a powerful
lord, after having persecuted for a long time this innocent creature
with wicked allurements, finding them unavailing, has had recourse to
open force, so that she has been obliged to fly from her home."

"Approach, young woman," said the signora. "I know that the father is
truth itself; but no one can be better informed than you with regard to
this affair. To you it belongs to tell us if this lord was an odious
persecutor." Lucy obeyed the first command, and approached the grating;
but the second, accompanied as it was with a certain malicious air of
doubt, brought a blush over her countenance, and a sense of painful
embarrassment, which she found it impossible to overcome.
"Lady----mother----reverend----" stammered she. Agnes now felt herself
authorised to come to her assistance. "Most illustrious lady," said she,
"I can bear testimony that my daughter hates this lord as the devil
hates holy water. I would call him the devil, were it not for your
reverend presence. The case is this: this poor maiden was promised to a
good and industrious youth; and if the curate had done his duty----"

"You are very ready to speak without being interrogated," interrupted
the lady, with an expression of anger on her countenance, which changed
it almost to deformity. "Silence; I have not to be informed that parents
have always an answer prepared in the name of their children."

Agnes drew back mortified, and the father guardian signified to Lucy by
a look, as well as by a movement of the head, that now was the time to
rouse her courage, and not leave her poor mother in the dilemma.
"Reverend lady," said she, "what my mother has told you is the truth. I
willingly engaged myself to the poor youth (and here she became covered
with blushes)---- Pardon me this boldness; but I would not have you
think ill of my mother. And as to this lord (God forgive him!) I would
rather die than fall into his hands. And if you do this deed of charity,
be certain, signora, none will pray for you more heartily than those
whom you have thus sheltered."

"I believe you," said the lady, with a softened voice; "but we will see
you alone. Not that I need farther explanation, nor other motives to
accede to the wishes of the father superior," added she, turning to him
with studied politeness. "Nay," continued she, "I have been thinking,
and this is what has occurred to me. The portress of the monastery has
bestowed in marriage, a few days since, her last daughter; these females
can occupy her room, and supply her place in the little services which
it was her office to perform."

The father would have expressed his thanks, but the lady interrupted
him. "There is no need of ceremony; in case of need, I would not
hesitate to ask assistance of the capuchin fathers. In short," continued
she, with a smile, in which appeared a degree of bitter irony, "are we
not brothers and sisters?"

So saying, she called a nun, her attendant (by a singular distinction
she had two assigned for her private service), and sent her to inform
the abbess; she then called the portress, and made with her and Agnes
the necessary arrangements. Then taking leave of the superior, she
dismissed Agnes to her room, but retained Lucy. The signora, who, in
presence of a capuchin, had studied her actions and her words, thought
no longer of putting a restraint on them before an inexperienced country
girl. Her discourse became by degrees so strange, that, in order to
account for it, we will relate the previous history of this unhappy and
misguided person.

She was the youngest daughter of the Prince ***, a great Milanese
nobleman, who was among the wealthiest of the city. The magnificent
ideas he entertained of his rank, made him suppose his wealth hardly
sufficient to support it properly; he therefore determined to preserve
his riches with the greatest care. How many children he had does not
clearly appear; it is only known that he had destined to the cloister
all the youngest of both sexes, in order to preserve his fortune for the
eldest son. The condition of the unhappy signora had been settled even
before her birth; it remained only to be decided whether she were to be
a monk or a nun. At her birth, the prince her father, wishing to give
her a name which could recall at every moment the idea of a cloister,
and which had been borne by a saint of a noble family, called her
Gertrude. Dolls, clothed like nuns, were the first toys that were put
into her hands; then pictures of nuns; and these gifts were accompanied
with many injunctions to be careful of them, for they were precious
things. When the prince or princess, or the young prince, who was the
only one of the children brought up at home, wished to praise the beauty
of the infant, they found no way of expressing their ideas, except in
exclamations of this sort, "What a mother abbess!" But no one ever said
directly to her, "Thou must be a nun;" such an intention, however, was
understood, and included in every conversation regarding her future
destiny. If, sometimes, the little Gertrude betrayed perversity and
impetuosity of temper, they would say to her, "Thou art but a child, and
these manners are not becoming: wait till thou art the mother abbess,
and then thou shalt command with a rod; thou shalt do whatever pleases
thee." At other times, reprehending her for the freedom and familiarity
of her manners, the prince would say, "Such should not be the deportment
of one like you; if you wish at some future day to have the respect of
all around you, learn now to have more gravity; remember that you will
be the first in the monastery, because noble blood bears sway every
where."

By such conversations as these the implicit idea was produced in the
mind of the child, that she was to be a nun. The manners of the prince
were habitually austere and repulsive; and, with respect to the
destination of the child, his resolution appeared fixed as fate. At six
years of age she was placed for her education in the monastery where we
find her: her father, being the most powerful noble in Monza, enjoyed
there great authority; and his daughter, consequently, would receive
those distinctions, with those allurements, which might lead her to
select it for her perpetual abode. The abbess and nuns, rejoicing at the
acquisition of such powerful friendship, received with great gratitude
the honour conferred in preference on them, and entered with avidity
into the views of the prince; Gertrude experienced all sorts of favours
and indulgences, and, child as she was, the respectful attention of the
nuns towards her was exercised with the same deference as if she had
been the abbess herself! Not that they were all pledged to draw the poor
child into the snare; many acted with simplicity, and through
tenderness, merely following the example of those around them; if the
suspicions of others were excited, they kept silence, so as not to cause
useless disturbance; some, indeed, more discriminating and
compassionate, pitied the poor child as being the object of artifices,
to the like of which they themselves had been the victims.

Things would have proceeded agreeably to the wishes of all concerned,
had Gertrude been the only child in the monastery; but this was not the
case; and there were some among her school companions who were destined
for the matrimonial state. The little Gertrude, filled with the idea of
her superiority, spoke proudly of her future destiny, expecting thereby
to excite their envy at her peculiar honours: with scorn and wonder she
perceived that their estimation of them was very different. To the
majestic but circumscribed and cold images of the power of an abbess,
they opposed the varied and bright pictures of husband, guests, cities,
tournaments, courts, dress, and equipage. New and strange emotions arose
in the mind of Gertrude: her vanity had been cultivated in order to make
the cloister desirable to her; and now, easily assimilating itself with
the ideas thus presented, she entered into them with all the ardour of
her soul. She replied, that no one could oblige her to take the veil,
without her own consent; that she could also marry, inhabit a palace,
and enjoy the world; that she could if she wished it; that she _would_
wish it, and _did_ wish it. The necessity of her own consent, hitherto
little considered, became henceforth the ruling thought of her mind; she
called it to her aid, at all times, when she desired to luxuriate in the
pleasing images of future felicity.

But her fancied enjoyment was impaired by the reflection, which at such
moments intruded itself, that her father had irrevocably decided her
destiny; and she shuddered at the recollection of his austere manners,
which impressed upon all around him the sentiments of a fatal necessity
as being necessarily conjoined with whatever he should command. Then
would she compare her condition to that of her more fortunate
companions; and envy soon grew into hatred. This would manifest itself
by a display of present superiority, and sometimes of ill-nature,
sarcasm, and spite; at other times her more amiable and gentle qualities
would obtain a transitory ascendency. Thus she passed the period
allotted for her education, in dreams of future bliss, mingled with the
dread of future misery. That which she anticipated most distinctly, was
external pomp and splendour; and her fancy would often luxuriate in
imaginary scenes of grandeur, constructed out of such materials as her
memory could faintly and confusedly furnish forth, and the descriptions
of her companions supply. There were moments when these brilliant
imaginings were disturbed by the idea of religion; but the religion
which had been inculcated to the poor girl did not proscribe pride, but,
on the contrary, sanctified it, and proposed it as a means of obtaining
terrestrial felicity. Thus despoiled of its essence, it was no longer
religion, but a phantom, which, assuming at times a power over her mind,
the unhappy girl was tormented with superstitious dread, and, filled
with a confused idea of duties, imagined her repugnance to the cloister
to be a crime, which could only be expiated by her voluntary dedication.

There was a law, that no young person could be accepted for the monastic
life, without being examined by an ecclesiastic, called the vicar of the
nuns, so that it should be made manifest that it was the result of her
free election; and this examination could not take place until a year
after she had presented her petition for admission, in writing, to the
vicar. The nuns, therefore, who were aware of the projects of her
father, undertook to draw from her such a petition; encountering her in
one of those moments, when she was assailed by her superstitious fears,
they suggested to her the propriety of such a course, and assured her,
nevertheless, that it was a mere formality (which was true), and would
be without efficacy, unless sanctioned by some after-act of her own. The
petition, however, had scarcely been sent to its destination, when
Gertrude repented of having written it; she then repented of this
repentance, passing months in incessant vicissitude of feeling. There
was another law, that, at this examination, a young person should not be
received, without having remained at least a month at her paternal home.
A year had nearly passed since the petition had been sent, and Gertrude
had been warned that she would soon be removed from the monastery, and
conducted to her father's house, to take the final steps towards the
consummation of that which they held certain. Not so the poor girl; her
mind was busied with plans of escape: in her perplexity, she unbosomed
herself to one of her companions, who counselled her to inform her
father by letter of the change in her views. The letter was written and
sent; Gertrude remained in great anxiety, expecting a reply, which never
came. A few days after, the abbess took her aside, and, with a mixed
expression of contempt and compassion, hinted to her the anger of the
prince, and the error she had committed; but that, if she conducted
herself well for the future, all would be forgotten. The poor girl
heard, and dared not ask farther explanation.

The day, so ardently desired and so greatly feared, came at last. The
anticipation of the trials that awaited her was forgotten in her
tumultuous joy at the sight of the open country, the city, and the
houses. She might well feel thus, after having been for eight years
enclosed within the walls of the monastery! She had previously arranged
with her new confidant the part she was to act. Oh! they will try to
force me, thought she: but I will persist, humbly and respectfully; the
point is, not to say _Yes_; and I will _not_ say it. Or, perhaps they
will endeavour to shake my purpose by kindness: but I will weep, I will
implore, I will excite their compassion, I will beseech them not to
sacrifice me. But none of her anticipations were verified: her parents
and family, with the usual artful policy in such cases, maintained a
perfect silence with regard to the subject of her meditations; they
regarded her with looks of contemptuous pity, and appeared to avoid all
conversation with her, as if she had rendered herself unworthy of it. A
mysterious anathema appeared to hang over her, and to keep at a distance
every member of the household. If, wearied with this proscription, she
endeavoured to enter into conversation, they made her understand
indirectly, that by obedience alone could she regain the affections of
the family. But this was precisely the condition to which she could not
assent: she therefore continued in her state of excommunication, which
unhappily appeared to be, at least partially, the consequence of her own
conduct.

Such a state of things formed a sad contrast to the radiant visions
which had occupied her imagination. Her confinement was as strict at
home as it had been in the monastery; and she, who had fancied she
should enjoy, at least for this brief period, the pleasures of the
world, found herself an exile from all society. At every announcement of
a visiter, she was compelled to retire with the elderly persons of the
family; and always dined apart whenever a guest was present. Even the
servants of the family appeared to concur with the designs of their
master, and to treat her with carelessness, ill concealed by an awkward
attempt at formality. There was one among them, however, who seemed to
feel towards her respect and compassion. This was a handsome page, who
equalled, in her imagination, the ideal images of loveliness she had so
often fondly cherished. There was soon apparent a change in her manner,
a love of reverie and abstraction, and she no longer appeared to covet
the favour of her family; some engrossing thought had taken possession
of her mind. To be brief, she was detected one day in folding a letter,
which it had been better she had not written, and which she was obliged
to relinquish to her female attendant, who carried it to the prince, her
father. He came immediately to her apartment with the letter in his
hand, and in few but terrible words told her, that for the present she
should be confined to her chamber, with the society only of the woman
who had made the discovery; and intimated for the future still darker
punishments. The page was dismissed, with an imperative command of
silence, and solemn threatenings of punishment should he presume to
violate it. Gertrude was then left alone, with her shame, her remorse,
and her terror; and the sole company of this woman, whom she hated, as
the witness of her fault, and the cause of her disgrace. The hatred was
cordially returned, inasmuch as the attendant found herself reduced to
the annoying duty of a jailer, and was made the guardian of a perilous
secret for life. The first confused tumult of her feelings having in
some measure subsided, she recalled to mind the dark intimations of her
father with regard to some future punishment: what could this be? It
most probably was a return to the monastery at Monza, not as the
signorina, but as a guilty wretch, who, loaded with shame, was to be
inclosed within its walls for ever! Now, indeed, her fancy no longer
dwelt on the bright visions with which it had been so often busied; they
were too much opposed to the sad reality of her present condition. Such
an act would repair all her errors, and change (could she doubt it) in
an instant her condition. The only castle in which Gertrude could
imagine a tranquil and honourable asylum, and which was not in the
_air_, was the monastery, in which she now resolved to place herself for
ever! Opposed to this resolution rose up the contemplations of many
years past: but times were changed, and to the depth in which Gertrude
had fallen, the condition of a nun, revered, obeyed, and feared, formed
a bright contrast. She was perpetually tormented also by her jailer,
who, to revenge herself for the confinement imposed on her, failed not
to taunt her for her misdemeanor, and to repeat the menaces of her
father; or whenever she seemed disposed to relent, and to show something
like pity, her tone of protection was still more intolerable. The
predominant desire of Gertrude was to escape from her clutches, and to
raise herself to a condition above her anger or her pity. At the end of
four or five long days, with her patience exhausted by the bitter
railings of her keeper, she sat herself down in a corner of the chamber,
and covering her face with her hands, wept in bitterness of soul. She
experienced an absolute craving for other faces and other sounds than
those of her tormentor; and a sudden joy imparted itself to her mind,
from the reflection, that it depended only on herself to be restored to
the good-will and attentions of the family. Mingled with this joy, came
repentance for her fault, and a desire to expiate it. She arose, went to
a small table, and taking a pen, wrote to her father, expressing her
penitence and her hope, imploring his pardon, and promising to do all
that might be required of her.



CHAPTER X.


There are moments in which the mind, particularly of the young, is so
disposed, that a little importunity suffices to obtain from it any thing
that has the appearance of virtuous sacrifice; as a flower scarcely
budded abandons itself on its fragile stem, ready to yield its sweets to
the first breeze which plays around it. These moments, which ought to be
regarded by others with timid respect, are exactly those of which
interested cunning makes use, to insnare the unguarded will.

On the perusal of this letter, the prince saw the way opened to the
furtherance of his views. He sent for Gertrude; she obeyed the command,
and, in his presence, threw herself at his feet, and had scarcely power
to exclaim, "Pardon!" He made a sign to her to rise, and in a grave
voice answered, that it was not enough merely to confess her fault, and
ask forgiveness, but that it was necessary to merit it. Gertrude asked
submissively, "what he would have her do?" To this the prince did not
reply directly, but spoke at length of the fault of Gertrude: the poor
girl shuddered as at the touch of a hand on a severe wound. He
continued, that even if he had entertained the project of settling her
in the world, she had herself placed an insuperable obstacle to it;
since he could never, as a gentleman of honour, permit her to marry,
after having given such a specimen of herself. The miserable listener
was completely humbled!

The prince, then, by degrees softened his voice and manner to say, that
for all faults there was a remedy, and that the remedy for hers was
clearly indicated; that she might perceive, in this fatal accident, a
warning that the world was too full of dangers for her----

"Oh, yes!" exclaimed Gertrude, overwhelmed with shame and remorse.

"Ah, you perceive it yourself!" resumed the prince. "Well, we will
speak no more of the past; all is forgotten. You have taken the only
honourable way that remains for you; and because you _have_ taken it
voluntarily, it rests with me to make it turn to your advantage, and to
make the merit of the sacrifice all your own." So saying, he rang the
bell, and said to the servant who appeared, "The princess and the prince
immediately." He continued to Gertrude, "I wish to make them the sharers
of my joy; I wish that they should begin at once to treat you as you
deserve. You have hitherto found me a severe judge; you shall now prove
that I am a loving father."

At these words Gertrude remained stupified; she thought of the "yes" she
had so precipitately suffered to escape from her lips, and would have
recalled it; but she did not dare; the satisfaction of the prince
appeared so entire, his condescension so conditional, that she could not
presume to utter a word to disturb it.

The princess and prince came into the room. On seeing Gertrude there,
they appeared full of doubt and surprise; but the prince, with a joyful
countenance, said to them, "Behold here the lost sheep! and let these be
the last words that shall recall painful recollections. Behold the
consolation of the family! Gertrude has no longer need of advice; she
has voluntarily chosen her own good. She has resolved, she has signified
to me that she has resolved----" She raised to him a look of
supplication, but he continued more plainly, "that she has resolved to
take the veil."

"Well done, well done," exclaimed they both, overwhelming her with
embraces, which Gertrude received with tears, which they chose to
interpret as tears of joy. Then the prince enlarged on the splendid
destiny of his daughter, on the distinction she would enjoy in the
monastery and in the country, as the representative of the family. Her
mother and her brother renewed their congratulations and praises.
Gertrude stood as if possessed by a dream.

It was then necessary to fix the day for the journey to Monza, for the
purpose of making the request of the abbess. "How rejoiced she will be!"
said the prince; "I am sure all the nuns will appreciate the honour
Gertrude does them. But why not go there to-day? Gertrude will
willingly take the air."

"Let us go, then," said the princess.

"I will order the carriage," said the young prince.

"But----" said Gertrude submissively.

"Softly, softly," said the prince, "let her decide; perhaps she does not
feel disposed to go to-day, and would rather wait until to-morrow. Say,
do you wish to go to-day or to-morrow?"

"To-morrow," said Gertrude, in a feeble voice, glad of a short reprieve.

"To-morrow," said the prince, solemnly; "she has decided to go
to-morrow. Meanwhile I will see the vicar of the nuns, to have him to
appoint a day for the examination." He did so, and the vicar named the
day after the next. In the interval Gertrude was not left a moment to
herself. She would have desired some repose for her mind after so many
contending emotions; to have reflected on the step she had already
taken, and what remained to be done--but the machine once in motion at
her direction, it was no longer in her power to arrest its progress;
occupations succeeded each other without interruption. The princess
herself assisted at her toilette, which was completed by her own maid.
This effected, dinner was announced, and poor Gertrude was made to pass
through the crowd of servants, who nodded their congratulations to each
other. She found at the table a few relations of the family, who had
been invited in haste to participate in the general joy. The young
bride--thus they called young persons about to enter the monastic
life--the young bride had enough to do to reply to the compliments which
were paid to her; she felt that each reply was a confirmation of her
destiny; but how act differently? After dinner came the hour of riding,
and Gertrude was placed in a carriage with her mother and two uncles,
who had been among the guests. They entered the street Marina, which
then crossed the space now occupied by the public gardens, and was the
public promenade, where the nobility refreshed themselves after the
fatigues of the day. The uncles conversed much with Gertrude, and one of
them in particular, who appeared to know every body, every carriage,
and every livery, had something to tell of signor such an one, and
signora such an one; but checking himself, he said to his niece, "Ah!
you little rogue! you turn your back upon all these follies; you are the
righteous person; you leave us worldlings far behind; you are going to
lead a happy life, and take yourself to paradise in a coach."

They returned home in the dusk of the evening, and the servants,
appearing with torches, announced to them that numerous visiters had
arrived. The report had spread, and a multitude of relations and friends
had come to offer their congratulations. The young bride was the idol,
the amusement, the victim of the evening. Finally, Gertrude was left
alone with the family. "At last," said the prince, "I have had the
consolation of seeing my daughter in society becoming her rank and
station. She has conducted herself admirably, and has evinced that there
will be no preventive to her obtaining the highest honours, and
supporting the dignity of the family." They supped hastily, so as to be
ready early in the morning.

At the request of Gertrude, her attendant, of whose insolence she
bitterly complained to her father, was removed, and another placed in
her stead. This was an old woman, who had been nurse to the young
prince, in whom was centred all her hopes and her pride. She was
overjoyed at the decision of Gertrude, who, as a climax to her trials,
was obliged to listen to her congratulations and praises. She talked of
her numerous aunts and relatives, who were so happy as nuns; of the many
visits she would doubtless receive. She further spoke of the young
prince, and the lady who was to be his wife, and the visit which they
would doubtless pay to Gertrude at the monastery, until, wearied out
with the conflicts of the day, the poor girl fell asleep. She was
aroused in the morning by the harsh voice of the old woman, "Up, up,
signora, young bride! it is day; the princess is up, and waiting for
you. The young prince is impatient. He is as brisk as a hare, the young
devil; he was so from an infant. But when he is ready, you must not make
him wait; he is the best temper in the world, but that always makes him
impatient and noisy. Poor fellow, we must pity him, it is the effect of
temperament; in such moments he has respect to no one but the head of
the household; however, one day he will be the head; may that day be far
off! Quick, quick, signorina! You should have been out of your nest
before this."

The idea of the young prince, risen and impatient, recalled the
scattered thoughts of Gertrude, and hastily she suffered herself to be
dressed, and descended to the saloon, where her parents and brother were
assembled. A cup of chocolate was brought her, and the carriage was
announced. Before their departure, the prince took his daughter aside,
and said to her, "Courage, Gertrude; yesterday you did well, to-day you
must excel yourself; the point is now to make a suitable appearance in
the country and in the monastery, where you are destined to hold the
first station. They expect you, and all eyes will be on you. Dignity and
ease. The abbess will ask you what is your request; it is a mere form,
but you must reply that you wish to be admitted to take the veil in this
monastery, where you have been educated, and treated so kindly; which is
the truth. Speak these words with a free unembarrassed air, so as not to
give occasion for scandal. These good mothers know nothing of the
unhappy occurrence; that must remain buried with the family. However, an
anxious countenance might excite suspicion; show whose is the blood in
your veins; be polite and modest; but remember also, that in this
country, out of the family, there is none your superior."

During their ride, the troubles and the trials of the world, and the
blessed life of the cloister, were the principal subjects of
conversation. As they approached the monastery, the crowd collected from
all parts; as the carriage stopped before the walls, the heart of
Gertrude beat more rapidly: they alighted amidst the concourse; all eyes
were fastened on her, and compelled her to study the movements of her
countenance; and, above all, those of her father, upon whom she could
not help fixing her regards, notwithstanding the fear he inspired. They
crossed the first court, entered the second, and here appeared the
interior cloister, wide open, and occupied by nuns. In front was the
abbess, surrounded by the most aged of the sisterhood; behind these the
others, raised promiscuously on tiptoe, and farther back the lay
sisters, standing on benches and overlooking the scene; whilst here and
there were seen, peeping between the cowls, some youthful faces, which
Gertrude recognised as those of her school companions. As she stood
fronting the abbess, the latter demanded, with grave solemnity, "What
she desired to have in this place, where nothing could be denied her?"

"I am here," began Gertrude; but, about to utter the words which were to
decide her destiny irrevocably, she felt her heart fail, and hesitating,
she fixed her eyes on the crowd before her. She beheld there the
well-known face of one of her companions, who regarded her with looks of
compassion and malice, as if to say, "They have caught the brave one."
This sight required all her courage, and she was about to give a reply
very different from that which was expected from her, when, glancing at
her father, she caught from his eye such an anxious and threatening
expression, that, overcome by terror, she proceeded, "I am here to ask
admittance into this monastery, where I have been instructed so kindly."
The abbess immediately expressed her regret, that the regulations were
such as to prohibit an immediate answer, which must be given by the
common suffrage of the sisterhood; but that Gertrude knew well the
sentiments they entertained towards her; and might judge what that
answer would be. In the mean time nothing prevented them from
manifesting their joy at her request. There was then heard a confused
murmur of congratulations and rejoicing.

Whilst the nuns were surrounding their new companion, and offering their
congratulations to all the party, the abbess expressed her wish to
address a few words to the prince at the parlour grating.

"Signor," said she, "in obedience to our rules--to fulfil a necessary
form--I must inform you--that whenever a young person desires to
assume--the superior, which I am, though unworthily, is obliged to make
known to the parents that if--they have forced the will of their
daughter, they will incur the pains of excommunication. You will
excuse----"

"Oh! yes, yes, reverend mother. Your exactitude is very praiseworthy,
very just. But you cannot doubt----"

"Oh! imagine, prince, if--but I merely speak by order; besides----"

"True--true, reverend mother."

After these few words, and a renewal of compliments and thanks, they
departed.

Gertrude was silent during their ride; overcome and occupied by
conflicting thoughts, ashamed of her own want of resolution, vexed with
others as well as herself, she was still meditating some way of escape,
but every time she looked at her father, she felt her destiny to be
irrevocable. After the various engagements of the day were over,--the
dinner, the visits, the drive, the _conversazione_, the supper,--the
prince brought another subject under discussion, which was the choice of
a godmother (so they called the lady who is selected as chaperone to the
young candidate in the interval between the request for admission, and
the putting on of the habit); the duty of this person was to visit, with
her charge, the churches, public palaces, the _conversazioni_, in short,
every thing of note in the city and its environs; so as to afford a peep
at that world they were about to quit for ever. "We must think of a
godmother," said the prince, "because to-morrow the vicar of the nuns
will be here for the examination, and soon after that, Gertrude will be
finally accepted. Now the choice shall come from Gertrude herself,
although contrary to usage; but she deserves to be made an exception,
and we may confidently trust to her judgment in the selection." And
then, turning to her, as if bestowing a singular favour, he continued,
"Any one of the ladies who were at the _conversazione_ this evening,
possesses the necessary qualifications for a godmother; any one of them
will consider it an honour; make your selection." Gertrude instantly
felt that the choice would be a renewal of consent; but the proposal was
made with such an air of condescension, that a refusal would have
appeared to spring from contempt or ingratitude. Thus she took another
step, and named a lady who had been forward in attentions to her during
the whole evening. "A perfectly wise choice," said the prince, who had
expected no less. The affair had all been previously arranged; this lady
had been so much with Gertrude at the _conversazione_, and had displayed
such kindness of manner, that it would have been an effort for her to
think of another. The attentions, however, of this lady were not without
their object: she had also for a long time contemplated making the young
prince her son; she, therefore, naturally interested herself in all that
concerned the family, and felt the deepest interest in her dear
Gertrude.

On the morrow, the imagination of Gertrude was occupied with the
expected examination, and with a vague hope of some opportunity to
retract. At an early hour she was sent for by the prince, who addressed
her in these words:--"Courage, my daughter; you have as yet conducted
yourself admirably; to-day you must crown the work. All that has been
done, has been done with your consent. If, in the meanwhile, you had any
doubts, any misgivings, you should have expressed them; but at the point
to which things have now arrived, it will no longer do to play the
child. The worthy man who is to come this morning, will put a hundred
questions to you, concerning your vocation; such as, whether you go
voluntarily, and the why and the wherefore. If you falter in your
replies, he will continue to urge you; this will produce pain to
yourself, but might become the source of a more serious evil. After all
the public demonstrations that we have made, the slightest hesitation on
your part might place my honour in danger, by conveying the idea that I
had taken a mere youthful whim for a confirmed resolution, and that I
had thus acted precipitately; in this case, I should feel myself under
the necessity, in order to preserve my character inviolate, to reveal
the true motive----" But, seeing the countenance of Gertrude all on
flame, and contracting itself like the leaves of a flower in the heat
which precedes a tempest, he stopped a moment, and then resumed, "Well,
well, all depends on yourself. I know you will not show yourself a
child; but recollect, you must reply with freedom, so as not to create
suspicion in the mind of this worthy man." He then suggested the
answers to be made to the probable questions that would be put, and
concluded with various remarks upon the happiness that awaited Gertrude
at the convent. At this moment the servant announced the arrival of the
vicar, and the prince was obliged to leave his daughter alone to receive
him.

The good man had come with a preconceived opinion that Gertrude went
voluntarily to the cloister, because the prince had told him so. It was
one of his maxims, however, to preserve himself unprejudiced, and to
depend only on the assertions of the candidates themselves. "Signorina,"
said he, "I come to play the part of the tempter; I come to suggest
doubts where you have affirmed certainties; I come to place before your
eyes difficulties, and ascertain if you have well considered them. You
will allow me to trouble you with some interrogatories?"

"Say on," replied Gertrude.

The good priest then began to interrogate her in the form prescribed.
"Do you feel in your heart a free spontaneous resolution to become a
nun? Have menaces, or allurements, or authority been made use of? Speak
without reserve to one whose duty it is to ascertain the true state of
your feelings, and to prevent violence being done to them."

The true reply to such a question presented itself suddenly to the mind
of Gertrude, with terrible reality. But to come to an explanation, to
say she was threatened, to relate the unfortunate story--from this her
spirit shrank, and she brought herself to the resolution of saying, "I
become a nun, freely, from inclination."

"How long have you had this intention?" asked the good priest.

"I have always had it," said Gertrude, finding it easier after the first
step to proceed in falsehood.

"But what is the principal motive which has induced you?"

The interrogator was not aware of the chord he touched; and Gertrude,
making a great effort to preserve the tranquillity of her countenance,
amid the tumult of her soul, replied. "The motive is, to serve God, and
to fly the perils of the world."

"Has there never been any disgust? any--excuse me--caprice? Often
trifling causes make impressions which we deem will be perpetual, but
the causes cease----"

"No, no," replied Gertrude, hastily; "the cause is that which I have
said."

The vicar, in order to execute his duty fully, persisted in his
enquiries, but Gertrude was determined to deceive him. She could not for
a moment think of rendering the good man acquainted with her weakness;
she knew, indeed, that he could prevent her being a nun, but that this
would be the extent of his authority and his protection. When he should
be gone, she would still be left alone, to endure fresh trials from her
father and the family. Finding, therefore, a uniform answer to all his
questions, he became somewhat wearied of putting them, and, concluding
that all was as it should be, with many prayers for her welfare, he took
his leave. As he crossed the hall he met the prince, and congratulated
him on the good dispositions of his daughter. This put an end to a very
painful state of suspense and anxiety on the part of the prince; who,
forgetting his usual gravity, ran to his daughter, and loaded her with
praises, caresses, and promises, and with a tenderness of affection in
great measure sincere: such is the inconsistency of the human heart.

Then ensued a round of spectacles and diversions, during which we cannot
attempt to describe minutely or in order the emotions to which the heart
of Gertrude was subjected. The perpetual change of objects, the freedom
enjoyed by this change, rendered more odious to her the idea of her
prison; still more pungent were the impressions she received in the
festivals and assemblies of the city. The pomp of the palaces, the
splendour of their furniture, the buzzing and festal clamour of the
_conversazione_, communicated to her such an intoxication, such an eager
desire for happiness, that she thought she could encounter all the
consequences of a recantation, or even suffer death, rather than return
to the cold shades of the cloister. But all such resolutions instantly
fled as her eyes rested on the austere countenance of the prince.

Meanwhile, the vicar of the nuns had made the necessary deposition, and
liberty was given to hold a chapter for the acceptation of Gertrude. The
chapter was held, and she was received! Wearied out with her long
conflicts, she requested immediate admittance, which was readily
granted. After a noviciate of twelve days, full of resolves and
counter-resolves, the moment arrived when she finally pronounced the
fatal "yes," which was to exclude her from the world for ever. But even
in the depths of the monastery she found no repose; she had not the
wisdom to make a virtue of necessity, but was continually and uselessly
recurring to the past. She could not call religion to her aid, for
religion had no share in the sacrifice she had made; and heavily and
bitterly she bore the yoke of bondage. She hated the nuns, because she
remembered their artifices, and regarded them in some measure as the
authors of her misfortune; she tyrannised over them with impunity,
because they dared not rebel against her authority, and incur the
resentment of the powerful lord, her father. Those nuns who were really
pious and harmless, she hated for their piety itself, as it seemed to
cast a tacit reproach on her weakness; and she suffered no occasion to
escape without railing at them as bigots and hypocrites. It might,
however, have mitigated her asperity towards them, had she known that
the black balls to oppose her entrance had been cast into the urn by
their sympathetic generosity. She found, however, one consolation, in
the unlimited power she possessed, in being courted and flattered, and
in hearing herself called the "signora." But what a consolation! Her
soul felt its insufficiency, but had not the courage nor the virtue to
seek happiness from the only source where it could be found. Thus she
lived many years, tyrannising over and feared by all around her, till an
occasion presented itself for a further developement of her habitual,
but secret feelings. Among other privileges which had been accorded to
her in the monastery, was that of having her apartments on a side of the
building little frequented by the other nuns. Opposite to this quarter
of the convent was a house, inhabited by a young man, a villain by
profession, one of those who, at this period, by their mutual
combinations were enabled to set at nought the public laws. His name was
Egidio. From his small window, which overlooked the court-yard, he had
often seen Gertrude wandering there from listlessness and melancholy.
Allured rather than intimidated by the danger and iniquity of the act,
he dared one day to speak to her. The wretched girl replied!

Then was experienced a new but not unmixed satisfaction; into the
painful void of her soul was infused a powerful stimulus, a fresh
principle of vitality: but this enjoyment resembled the restoring
beverage which the ingenious cruelty of the ancients presented to the
criminal, in order to strengthen him to sustain his martyrdom. A change
came also over her whole deportment; she was regular, tranquil,
endearing, and affable; in such a degree, that the sisters congratulated
themselves upon the circumstance, little imagining the true motive, and
that the alteration was none other than hypocrisy added to her other
defects. This outward improvement, however, did not last long; she soon
returned to her customary caprices, and, moreover, was heard to utter
bitter imprecations against the cloistral prison, in unusual and
unbecoming language. The sisters bore these vicissitudes as well as they
could, and attributed them to the light and capricious nature of the
signora. For some time it did not appear that the suspicions of any one
of them were excited; but one day the signora had been speaking with one
of the sisters, her attendant, and reviling her beyond measure for some
trifling matter: the sister suffered a while, and gnawed the bit in
silence; but finally, becoming impatient, declared that she was mistress
of a secret, and could advise the signora in her turn. From this time
forward her peace was lost. Not many days after, however, this very
sister was missing from her accustomed offices; they sought her in her
cell, and did not find her; they called, and she answered not; they
searched diligently in every place, but without success. And who knows
what conjectures might have arisen, if there had not been found a great
opening in the wall of the orchard, through which she had probably made
her escape. They sent messengers in various directions to pursue, and
restore her, but they never heard of her more! Perhaps they would not
have been so unfortunate in their search, if they had dug near the
garden wall! Finally, the nuns concluded that she must have gone to a
great distance, and because one of them happened to say, she has taken
refuge in Holland, "O yes," said they, "she has, without doubt, taken
refuge in Holland." The signora did not believe this, but she had
certain reasons for encouraging the opinion, and this she did not fail
to do. Thus the minds of the nuns became satisfied; but who can tell the
torments of the signora's soul? Who can tell how many times a day the
image of this sister came unbidden into her mind, and fastened itself
there with terrible tenacity? Who can tell how many times she desired to
behold the real and living person, for the company of this empty,
impassible, terrible shade? Who can tell with what delight she would
have heard the very words of the threat repeated in her mental ear,
rather than this continual and fantastic murmur of those very words,
sounding with a pertinacity of which no living voice could have been
capable.

It was about a year after this event, that we find Lucy at the
monastery, and under the protection of the signora. The reader may
remember, that after Agnes and the portress had left the room, the
signora and Lucy had entered into conversation alone; the former
continued her questions concerning Don Roderick, with a fearlessness
which filled the mind of Lucy with astonishment, little supposing that
the curiosity of the nuns ever exercised itself upon such subjects. The
opinions which were blended with these enquiries, were not less strange;
she laughed at the dread which Lucy expressed herself to have of Don
Roderick, asking her if he was not handsome; and surmising that Lucy
would have liked him very well, if it had not been for her preference of
Renzo. When again with her mother, the poor girl expressed her
astonishment at such observations from such a source, but Agnes, as more
experienced, solved the mystery. "Do not be surprised," said she; "when
you have known the world as I have, you will cease to wonder at any
thing. The nobility, some more, some less, some one way, some another,
have all a little oddity. We must let them talk, especially when we have
need of them; we must appear to listen to them seriously, as if they
were talking very wisely. Did you not hear how she interrupted me, as if
I had uttered some absurdity? I did not wonder at it; they are all so.
Notwithstanding that, Heaven be thanked, she seems to have taken a
liking to you, and is willing to protect us; and if we would retain her
favour, we must let her say that which it shall please her to say."

A desire to oblige the superior, the complacency experienced in
protecting, the thought of the good opinions which would be the result
of a protection thus piously extended, a certain inclination towards
Lucy, and also a degree of self-satisfaction in doing good to an
innocent creature, in succouring and consoling the oppressed, had really
disposed the signora to take to heart the fate of our poor fugitives.
The mother and daughter congratulated themselves on their safe and
honourable asylum. They would have wished to remain unknown to all; but
this, in a convent, was impossible; and one there was, besides, too far
interested in obtaining an account of one of the two, stimulated as his
passion had been by the opposition he had encountered. We will leave
them for the present in their safe retreat, and return to the palace of
Don Roderick, at the hour in which he was anxiously expecting the result
of his wicked and villanous enterprise.



CHAPTER XI.


As a pack of blood-hounds, after having in vain tracked the hare, return
desponding towards their master, with their ears down, and tails
hanging, so, in this night of confusion, returned the bravoes to the
palace of Don Roderick, who was pacing, in the dark, the floor of an
upper uninhabited chamber. Full of impatience and uncertainty as to the
issue of the expedition, and not without anxiety for the possible
consequences, his ear was attentive to every sound, and his eye to every
movement on the esplanade. This was the most daring piece of villany he
had ever undertaken; but he felt that the precautions he had used would
preserve him from suspicion. "And who will dare to come here, and ask if
she is not in this palace? Should this young fellow do so, he will be
well received, I promise him. Let the friar come! yea, let him come. If
the old woman presumes so far, she shall be sent to Bergamo. As for the
law, I do fear it not; the _podestà_ is neither a boy nor a fool! Pshaw!
there's nothing to fear. How will Attilio be surprised to-morrow
morning; he will find I am not a mere boaster. But if any difficulty
should arise, he'll assist--the honour of all my relatives will be
pledged." But these anxious thoughts subsided as he reverted to
Lucy.--"She will be frightened to find herself alone, surrounded only by
these rough visages: by Bacchus, the most human face here is my own, and
she will be obliged to have recourse to me--to entreaty." In the midst
of these calculations he heard a trampling of feet, approached the
window, and looking out exclaimed, "It is they! But the litter! the
devil! where is the litter? Three, five, eight, they are all there; but
where is the litter? The devil! Griso shall render me an account of
this." He then advanced to the head of the stairs to meet Griso. "Well,"
cried he, "Signor Bully, Signor Captain, Signor 'Leave it to me!'"

"It is hard," said Griso,--"it is hard to meet with reproach, when one
has hazarded one's life to perform his duty."

"How has it happened? Let us hear, let us hear," said he, as he advanced
towards the room, followed by Griso, who related, as clearly as he
could, the occurrences of the night.

"Thou hast done well," said Don Roderick; "thou hast done all that thou
couldst--but to think that this roof harbours a spy! If I discover him
I will settle matters for him; and I tell thee, Griso, I suspect the
information was given the day of the dinner."

"I have had the same suspicion," said Griso; "and if my master discovers
the scoundrel, he has only to trust him to me. He has made me pass a
troublesome night, and I wish to pay him for it. But there must be, I
think, some other cause, which we cannot at present fathom; to-morrow,
Signor, to-morrow we will see clear water."

"Have you been recognised by any one?"

Griso thought not; and after having given him many orders for the
morrow, and wishing to make amends for the impetuosity with which he had
at first greeted him, Don Roderick said, "Go to rest, poor Griso! you
must indeed require it. Labouring all day, and half the night, and then
to be received in this manner! Go to rest now; for we may yet be obliged
to put your friendship to a severer test. Good night."

The next morning Don Roderick sought the Count Attilio, who, receiving
him with a laugh, said, "San Martin!"

"I will pay the wager," said Don Roderick. "I thought indeed to have
surprised you this morning, and therefore have kept from you some
circumstances. I will now tell you all."

"The friar's hand is in this business," said his cousin, after having
heard him through: "this friar, with his playing at bo-peep, and giving
advice; I know him for a busybody and a rascal! And you did not confide
in me, and tell me what brought him here the other day to trifle with
you. If I had been in your place he should not have gone out as he came
in, of that be assured."

"What! would you wish me to incur the resentment of all the capuchins in
Italy?"

"In such a moment," said the count, "I should have forgotten there was
any other capuchin in the world than this daring rascal; but the means
are not wanting, within the pale of prudence, to take satisfaction even
of a capuchin. It is well for him that he has escaped the punishment
best suited to him; but I take him henceforth under my protection, and
will teach him how to speak to his superiors."

"Do not make matters worse."

"Trust me for once; I will serve you as a relation and a friend."

"What do you mean to do?"

"I don't know yet; but I will certainly pay the friar. Let me see--the
count my uncle, who is one of the secret council, will do the service;
dear uncle! How pleased I am when I can make him work for me, a
politician of his stamp! The day after to-morrow I will be at Milan, and
in some way or other the friar shall have his due."

Meanwhile breakfast was brought in, which however did not interrupt the
important discussion. Count Attilio interested himself in the cause from
his friendship for his cousin, and the honour of the name, according to
his notions of friendship and honour; yet he could hardly help laughing
every now and then at the ridiculous issue of the adventure. But Don
Roderick, who had calculated upon making a master-stroke, was vexed at
his signal failure, and agitated by various passions. "Fine stories will
be circulated," said he, "of last night's affair, but no matter; as to
justice, I defy it: it does not exist; and if it did, I should equally
defy it. Apropos, I have sent word this morning to the constable, to
make no deposition respecting the affair, and he will be sure to follow
my advice; but tattling always annoys me,--it is enough that _you_ have
it in your power to laugh at me."

"It is well you have given the constable his message," said the count;
"this great empty-headed, obstinate proser of a _podestà_ is however a
man who knows his duty, and we must be careful not to place him in
difficulty. If a fellow of a constable makes a deposition, the
_podestà_, however well intentioned, is obliged to----"

"But you," interrupted Don Roderick, with a little warmth,--"you spoil
my affairs, by contradicting him, and laughing at him on every occasion.
Why the devil can't you suffer a magistrate to be an obstinate beast,
while in other things that suit our convenience he is an honest man?"

"Do you know, cousin," said the count, regarding him with an expression
of affected surprise, "do you know that I begin to think you capable of
fear? You take the _podestà_ and myself to be in earnest."

"Well, well, have not you yourself said that we should be careful?"

"Certainly; and when the question is serious, I will show you I am not a
boy. Shall I tell you what I will do for you? I will go in person to
make the _podestà_ a visit; do you not think he will be pleased with the
honour? And I will let him talk by the half hour of the count duke, and
the Spanish keeper of the castle, and then I will throw in some remarks
about the signor count of the secret council, my uncle; you know what
effect this will have. Finally, he has more need of our protection, than
you have of his condescension. He knows this well enough, and I shall
leave him better disposed than I find him, that you may depend upon." So
saying, he took his departure, leaving Don Roderick alone to wait the
return of Griso, who had been, in obedience to his orders, reconnoitring
the ground, and ascertaining the state of the public mind with regard to
the events of the preceding night. He came at last, at the hour of
dinner, to give in his relation. The tumult of this night had been so
loud, and the disappearance of three persons from the village so
mysterious, that strict and indefatigable search would naturally be made
for them; and on the other hand, those who were possessed of partial
information on the subject were too numerous to preserve an entire
silence. Perpetua was assailed every where to tell what had caused her
master such a fright, and she, perceiving how she had been deceived by
Agnes, and feeling exasperated at her perfidy, had need of a little
self-restraint; not that she complained of the deception practised on
herself, of that she did not breathe a syllable; but the injury done to
her poor master could not pass in silence, and that such an injury
should have been attempted by such worthy people! Don Abbondio could
command and entreat her to be silent, and she could reply that there was
no necessity for inculcating a thing so obvious and proper, but certain
it is that the secret remained in the heart of the poor woman as new
wine in an old cask, which ferments and bubbles, and if it does not send
the bung into the air, works out in foam between the staves, and drops
here and there, so that one can drink it, and tell what sort of wine it
is. Jervase, who could scarcely believe that for once he knew a little
more than others, and who felt himself a man, since he had been an
accomplice in a criminal affair, was dying to communicate it. And Tony,
however alarmed at the thoughts of further enquiries and investigation,
was bursting, in spite of all his prudence, till he had told the whole
secret to his wife, who was not dumb. The one who spoke least was
Menico, because his parents, alarmed at his coming into collision with
Don Roderick, had kept him in the house for several days; they
themselves, however, without wishing to appear to know more than others,
insinuated that the fugitives had taken refuge at Pescarenico. This
report, then, became current among the villagers. But no one could
account for the attack of the bravoes: all agreed in suspecting Don
Roderick; but the rest was total obscurity. The presence of the three
bravoes at the inn was discussed, and the landlord was interrogated; but
his memory was, on this point, as defective as ever. His inn, he
concluded as usual, was just like a sea-port. Who was this pilgrim, seen
by Stefano and Carlandrea, and whom the robbers wished to murder, and
had carried off? For what purpose had he been at the cottage? Some said
it was a good spirit, come to the assistance of the inmates; others,
that it was the spirit of a wicked pilgrim, who came at night to join
such companions, and perform such deeds, as he had been accustomed to
while living; others, again, went so far as to conjecture that it was
one of these very robbers, clothed like a pilgrim; so that Griso, with
all his experience, would have been at a loss to discover who it was, if
he had expected to acquire this information from others. But, as the
reader knows, that which was perplexity to them, was perfect clearness
to Griso. He was enabled, therefore, from these various sources, to
obtain a sufficiently distinct account for the ear of Don Roderick. He
related the attempt upon Don Abbondio, which accounted for the
desertion of the cottage, without the necessity of imagining a spy in
the palace: he told of their flight, which might be accounted for by the
fear of the discovery of their trick upon Don Abbondio, or by the
intelligence that their cottage had been broken into, and that they had
probably gone together to Pescarenico. "Fled together!" cried Don
Roderick, hoarse with rage: "together! and this rascal friar! this friar
shall answer it! Griso, this night I must know where they are. I shall
have no peace; ascertain if they are at Pescarenico; quick; fly; four
crowns immediately, and my protection for ever! this rascal! this
friar!"

Griso was once more in the field; and on the evening of this very day
reported to his worthy master the desired intelligence, and by the
following means. The good man by whom the little party had been
conducted to Monza, returning with his carriage to Pescarenico at the
hour of vespers, chanced to meet, before he reached his home, a
particular friend, to whom he related, in great confidence, the good
work he had accomplished; so that Griso could, two hours after, inform
Don Roderick that Lucy and her mother had taken refuge in a convent of
Monza, and that Renzo had proceeded on his way to Milan. Don Roderick
felt his hopes revive at this separation; and having, during great part
of the night, revolved in his mind the measures for effecting his wicked
purpose, he aroused Griso early in the morning, and gave him the orders
he had premeditated.

"Signor?" said Griso, hesitating.

"Well, have I have not spoken clearly?"

"If you would send some other----"

"How?"

"Most illustrious signor, I am ready to sacrifice my life for my master,
and it is my duty to do so; but you, you would not desire me to place it
in peril?"

"Well?"

"Your illustrious lordship knows well these few murders that are laid to
my account, and----Here I am under the protection of your lordship, and
in Milan the livery of your lordship is known, but in Monza _I_ am
known. And, your lordship knows, I do not say it boastingly, he who
should deliver me up to justice would be well rewarded, a hundred good
crowns, and permission to liberate two banditti."

"What, the devil!" said Don Roderick, "you are like a vile cur, who has
scarce courage to rush at the legs of such as pass by the door; and, not
daring to leave the house, keeps himself within the protection of his
master."

"I think I have given proof, signor," said Griso.

"Well?"

"Well," resumed Griso, boldly, thus put on his mettle, "your lordship
must forget my hesitation; heart of a lion, legs of a hare, I am ready
to go."

"But you shall not go alone; take with you two of the best; _Cut-face_
and _Aim-well_, and go boldly, and show yourself to be still Griso. The
devil! people will be well content to let such faces as yours pass
without molestation! And as to the bailiffs of Monza, they must have
become weary of life to place it in such danger, for the chance of a
hundred crowns! But I do not believe that I am so far unknown there,
that the stamp of my service should pass for nothing."

Griso, having received ample and minute instructions, took his
departure, accompanied by the two bravoes; cursing in his heart the
whims of his master.

It now became the design of Don Roderick to contrive some way, by which
Renzo, separated as he was from Lucy, should be prevented from
attempting to return. He thought that the most certain means would be to
have him sent out of the state, but this required the sanction of the
law; he could, for example, give a colouring to the attempt at the
curate's house, and represent it as a seditious act, and through Doctor
Azzecca Garbugli give the _podestà_ to understand that it was his duty
to apprehend Renzo. But while he thought of the doctor as the man the
most suitable for this service, Renzo himself put an end to much further
deliberation on the subject by withdrawing himself.

Like the boy who drives his little Indian pigs to the fold, whose
obstinacy impels them divers ways, and thus obliges him first to apply
to one and then to another till he can succeed in penning them all, so
are we obliged to play the same game with the personages of our story.
Having secured Lucy, we ran to Don Roderick. Him we now quit to give an
account of Renzo.

After the mournful parting which we have related, he set out,
discouraged and disheartened, on his way to Milan. To bid farewell to
his home and his country, and what was more, to Lucy! to find himself
among strangers, not knowing where to rest his head, and all on account
of this villain! When these thoughts presented themselves to the mind of
Renzo, he was, for the moment, absorbed by rage and the desire of
revenge; but when he recollected the prayer that he had uttered with the
good friar in the convent of Pescarenico, his better feelings prevailed,
and he was enabled to acquire some degree of resignation to the
chastisements of which he stood so much in need. The road lay between
two high banks; it was muddy, stony, and furrowed by deep wheel tracks,
which, after a rain, became rivulets, overflowing the road, and
rendering it nearly impassable. In such places small raised footpaths
indicated that others had found a way by the fields. Renzo ascended one
of these paths to the high ground, whence he beheld, as if rising from a
desert, and not in the midst of a city, the noble structure of the
cathedral, and he forgot all his misfortunes in contemplating, even at a
distance, this eighth wonder of the world, of which he had heard so much
from his infancy. But looking back, he saw in the horizon the notched
ridge of mountains, and distinctly perceiving, among them, his own
_Resegone_, he gazed at it mournfully a while, and then with a beating
heart went on his way; steeples, towers, cupolas, and roofs soon
appeared: he descended into the road, and when he perceived that he was
very near the city, he accosted a traveller, with the civility which was
natural to him, "Will you be so good, sir----"

"What do you want, my good young man?"

"Will you be so good as to direct me by the shortest way to the convent
of the capuchins, where Father Bonaventura resides?"

He replied, very affably, "My good lad, there is more than one convent;
you must tell me more clearly what and whom you seek."

Renzo then took from his bosom the letter of Father Christopher, and
presented it to the gentleman, who, after having read it, returned it,
saying, "The eastern gate; you are fortunate, young man--the convent you
seek is but a short distance from this. Take this path to the left; it
is a by-way, and in a little while you will find yourself by the side of
a long and low building; that is the _lazaretto_; keep along the ditch
that encircles it, and you will soon be at the eastern gate. Enter, and
a few steps further on you will see before you an open square with fine
elm trees; the convent is there--you cannot mistake it. God be with
you!" And accompanying his last words with a kind wave of his hand, he
proceeded on his way. Renzo was astonished at the good manners of the
citizens to countrymen, not knowing that it was an extraordinary day, a
day in which cloaks humbled themselves to doublets. He followed the path
which had been pointed out to him, and arrived at the eastern entrance,
which consisted of two pilasters, with a roofing above to secure the
gates, and on one side was a small house for the toll-gatherer. The
openings of the rampart descended irregularly, and their surface was
filled with rubbish. The street of the suburb which led from this gate
was not unlike the one which now opens from the Tosa gate. A small ditch
ran in the midst of it, until within a few steps of the gate, and
divided it into two small crooked streets, covered with dust or mud,
according to the season. At the place where was, and is still, the
collection of houses called the Borghetto, the ditch empties itself into
a common sewer, and thence into another ditch which runs along the
walls. At this point was a column with a cross oh it, dedicated to _San
Dionigi_; to the right and left were gardens enclosed by hedges, and at
intervals, small houses inhabited for the most part by washerwomen.
Renzo passed through the gate, without being stopped by the
toll-gatherer, which appeared to him very remarkable, as he had heard
those few of his townsmen, who could boast of having been at Milan,
relate wonderful stories of the strict search and close enquiries to
which those were subjected who entered its gates. The street was
deserted, and if he had not heard the humming of a crowd at a distance,
he might have thought he was entering a city which had been abandoned by
its inhabitants. As he advanced, he saw on the pavement something
scattered here and there, which was as white as snow, but snow at this
season it could not be; he touched it, and found that it was flour.
"There must be a great plenty in Milan," said he, "if they thus throw
away the gifts of God. They give out that famine is every where; this
they do to keep poor people abroad quiet." But in a few moments he
arrived in front of the column, and saw on the steps of the pedestal
certain things scattered, which were not assuredly stones, and which, if
they had been on a baker's counter, he would not have hesitated to call
loaves of bread. But Renzo dared not so easily trust his eyes, because
truly this was not a place for bread. "Let us see what this is," said
he, and approaching the column, he took one in his hand; it was, indeed,
a very white loaf of bread, such as Renzo was accustomed to eat only on
festival days. "It is really bread!" said he, in wonder. "Do they
scatter it thus here? And in a year like this? And do they suffer it to
lie here, and not take the trouble to gather it? This must be a fine
place to live in!" After ten miles of travel, in the fresh air of the
morning, the sight of the bread awaked his appetite. "Shall I take it?"
said he again. "Poh! they have left it to the dogs; surely, a Christian
may take advantage of it; and if the owner should come, I can pay him at
any rate." So saying, he put in one pocket that which he had in his
hand, took a second, and put it in the other, and a third, which he
began to eat, and resumed his way, full of wonder at the strangeness of
the incident. As he moved on he saw people approaching from the interior
of the city; and his attention was drawn to those who appeared first; a
man, a woman, and a boy, each with a load which seemed beyond their
strength, and exhibiting each a grotesque appearance. Their clothes, or
rather their rags, powdered with meal, their faces the same, and
excessively heated; they walked, not only as if overcome by the weight,
but as if their limbs had been beaten and bruised. The man supported
with difficulty a great bag of flour, which having holes here and there,
scattered its contents at every unequal movement. But the figure of the
woman was still more remarkable: she had her petticoat turned up, filled
with as much flour as it could hold, and a little more; so that from
time to time it flew over the pavement. She was, indeed, a grotesque
picture, with her arms stretched out to encompass her burden, and
staggering under its weight, her bare legs were seen beneath it. The boy
held with both hands a basket full of bread on his head, but he was
detained behind his parents to pick up the loaves which were constantly
falling from it.

"If you let another fall, you ugly little dog----" said the mother, in a
rage.

"I don't let them fall; they fall of themselves. How can I help it?"
replied he.

"Eh! it's well for thee that my hands are full," resumed the woman.

"Come, come," said the man, "now that we have a little plenty, let us
enjoy it in peace."

Meanwhile there had arrived a company of strangers, and one of them
addressed the woman, "Where are we to go for bread?"--"On, on," replied
she, and added, muttering, "These rascal countrymen will sweep all the
shops and warehouses, and leave none for us."

"There is a share for every one, chatterer," said her husband; "plenty,
plenty."

From all that Renzo saw and heard, he gathered that there was an
insurrection in the city, and that each one provided for himself, in
proportion to his will and strength. Although we would desire to make
our poor mountaineer appear to the most advantage, historical truth
obliges us to say that his first sentiment was that of complacency. He
had so little to rejoice at, in the ordinary course of affairs, that he
congratulated himself on a change, of whatever nature it might be. And
for the rest, he, who was not a man superior to the age in which he
lived, held the common opinion that the scarcity of bread had been
caused by the speculators and bakers, and that any method would be
justifiable, of wresting from them the aliment which they cruelly denied
to the people. However, he determined to keep away from the tumult, and
congratulated himself on the good fortune of having for his friend a
capuchin, who would afford him shelter and good advice. Occupied with
such reflections, and noticing from time to time as more people came up
loaded with plunder, he proceeded to the convent.

The church and convent of the capuchins was situated in the centre of a
small square, shaded by elm trees; Renzo placed in his bosom his
remaining half loaf, and with his letter in his hand, approached the
gate and rung the bell. At a small grated window appeared the face of a
friar, porter to the convent, to ask "who was there?"

"One from the country, who brings a letter to Father Bonaventura, from
Father Christopher."

"Give here," said the friar, thrusting his hand through the grate.

"No, no," said Renzo, "I must give it into his own hands."

"He is not in the convent."

"Suffer me to enter and wait for him," replied Renzo.

"You had best wait in the church," said the friar; "perhaps that may be
of service to you. Into the convent you do not enter at present." So
saying, he hastily closed the window, leaving Renzo to receive the
repulse with the best grace he could. He was about to follow the advice
of the porter, when he was seized with the desire to give a glance at
the tumult. He crossed the square, and advanced towards the middle of
the city, where the disturbance was greatest. Whilst he is proceeding
thither, we will relate, as briefly as possible, the causes of this
commotion.



CHAPTER XII.


This was the second year of the scarcity; in the preceding one, the
provisions, remaining from past years, had supplied in some measure the
deficiency, and we find the population neither altogether satisfied, nor
yet starved; but certainly unprovided for in the year 1628, the period
of our story. Now this harvest, so anxiously desired, was still more
deficient than that of the past year, partly from the character of the
season itself (and that not only in the Milanese but also in the
surrounding country), and partly from the instrumentality of men. The
havoc of the war, of which we have before made mention, had so
devastated the state, that a greater number of farms than ordinary
remained uncultivated and deserted by the peasants, who, instead of
providing, by their labour, bread for their families, were obliged to
beg it from door to door. We say a greater number of farms than
ordinary, because the insupportable taxes, levied with a cupidity and
folly unequalled; the habitual conduct, even in time of peace, of the
standing troops (conduct which the mournful documents of the age compare
to that of an invading army), and other causes which we cannot
enumerate, had for some time slowly operated to produce these sad
effects in all the Milanese,--the particular circumstances of which we
now speak were, therefore, like the unexpected exasperation of a chronic
disease. Hardly had this harvest been gathered, when the supplies for
the army, and the waste which always accompanies them, caused an
excessive scarcity, and with it its painful but profitable concomitant,
a high price upon provisions; but this, attaining a certain point,
always creates in the mind of the multitude a suspicion that scarcity is
not in reality the cause of it. They forget that they had both feared
and predicted it: they imagine all at once that there must be grain
sufficient, and that the evil lies in an unwillingness to sell it for
consumption. Preposterous as these suppositions were, they were
governed by them, so that the speculators in grain, real or imaginary,
the farmers, the bakers, became the object of their universal dislike.
They could tell certainly where there were magazines overflowing with
grain, and could even enumerate the number of sacks: they spoke with
assurance of the immense quantity of corn which had been despatched to
other places, where probably the people were deluded with a similar
story, and made to believe that the grain raised among _them_ had been
sent to Milan! They implored from the magistrate those precautions,
which always appear equitable and simple to the populace. The
magistrates complied, and fixed the price on each commodity, threatening
punishment to such as should refuse to sell; notwithstanding this, the
evil continued to increase. This the people attributed to the feebleness
of the remedies, and loudly called for some of a more decided character;
unhappily they found a man that was willing to grant them all they
should ask.

In the absence of the Governor Don Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordova, who was
encamped beyond Casale, in Montferrat, the High Chancellor Antonio
Ferrer, also a Spaniard, supplied his place in Milan. He considered the
low price of bread to be in itself desirable, and vainly imagined that
an order from him would be sufficient to accomplish it. He fixed the
limit, therefore, at the price the bread would have had when corn was
thirty-three livres the bushel; whereas it was now as high as eighty.

Over the execution of these laws the people themselves watched, and were
determined to receive the benefit of them quickly. They assembled in
crowds before the bakers' houses to demand bread at the price fixed;
there was no remedy; the bakers were employed night and day in supplying
their wants, inasmuch as the people, having a confused idea that the
privilege would be transient, ceased not to besiege their houses, in
order to enjoy to the utmost their temporary good fortune. The
magistrates threatened punishment--the multitude murmured at every delay
of the bakers in furnishing them. These remonstrated incessantly against
the iniquitous and insupportable weight of the burden imposed on them;
but Antonio Ferrer replied, that they had possessed great advantages in
times past, and now owed the public some reparation. Finally, the
council of ten (a municipal magistracy composed of nobles, which lasted
until the ninety-seventh year of the century just elapsed,) informed the
governor of the state in which things were, hoping that he would find
some remedy. Don Gonzalo, immersed in the business of war, named a
council, upon whom he conferred authority to fix a reasonable price upon
bread, so that both parties should be satisfied. The deputies assembled,
and after much deliberation felt themselves compelled to augment the
price of it: the bakers breathed, but the people became furious.

The evening preceding the day on which Renzo arrived at Milan, the
streets swarmed with people, who, governed by one common feeling,
strangers or friends, had intuitively united themselves in companies
throughout the city. Every observation tended to increase their rage and
their resentment; various opinions were given, and many exclamations
uttered; here, one declaimed aloud to a circle of bystanders, who
applauded vehemently; there, another more cautious, but not less
dangerous, was whispering in the ear of a neighbour or two, that
something must and would be done: in short, there was an incessant and
discordant din from the medley of men, women, and children, which
composed the various assemblages. There was now only required an impetus
to set the machine in motion, and reduce words to deeds; and an
opportunity soon presented itself. At the break of day little boys were
seen issuing from the bakers' shops with baskets on their heads, loaded
with bread, which they were about to carry to their usual customers. The
appearance of one of these unlucky boys in an assembly of people was
like a squib thrown into a gunpowder mill. "Here is bread!" cried a
hundred voices at once. "Yes, for our tyrants, who swim in abundance,
and wish to make us die in hunger," said one, who drew near the boy, and
seizing the basket, cried out, "Let us see." The boy coloured, grew
pale, trembled, and would have entreated them to let him pass on, but
the words died on his lips; he then endeavoured to free himself from the
basket. "Down with the basket" was heard on all sides; it was seized by
many hands, and placed on the earth: they raised the napkin which
covered it, and a tepid fragrance diffused itself around. "We are
Christians also," said one; "and have a right to eat bread as well as
other people:" so saying, he took a loaf and bit it; the rest followed
his example; and it is unnecessary to add, that in a few moments the
contents of the basket had disappeared. Those who had not been able to
secure any for themselves were irritated at the sight of their
neighbours' gains, and animated by the facility of the enterprise, went
in search of other boys with baskets; as many, therefore, as they met
were stopped and plundered. Still the number who remained unsatisfied
was beyond comparison the greatest, and even the gainers were only
stimulated by their success to ampler enterprises; so that
simultaneously there was a shout from the crowd of "To the bake-house!
to the bake-house!"

In the street called the _Corsia de' Servi_ there was, and is still, a
bakery of the same name,--a name that signifies in Tuscan the _Shop of
the Crutches_, and in Milanese is composed of such barbarous words, that
it is impossible to discover their sound from any rule of the
language.[4] To this place the throng approached: the shopkeepers were
listening to the sad relation of the boys, who had but just escaped with
their lives, when they heard a distant murmur, and beheld the crowd
advancing.

      [4] El prestin di scansc.

"Shut, shut! quick, quick!" some ran to ask aid from the sheriff; others
in haste closed the shop, and barricadoed and secured the doors from
within. The throng thickened in front, and cries of "Bread, bread! open,
open!" were heard from every quarter. The sheriff arrived with a troop
of halberdiers. "Make way, make way, friends! home, home! make way for
the sheriff," cried they. The people gave way a little, so that they
could draw themselves up in front of the door of the shop. "But,
friends," cried the sheriff from this place, "what do you do here? Home,
home! have you no fear of God? What will our lord the king say? We do
not wish you harm; but go home. There is no good to be gained here for
soul or body. Home, home!" The crowd, regardless of his expostulations,
pressed forward, themselves being urged on by increasing multitudes
behind. "Make them draw back, that I may recover breath," continued he
to the halberdiers, "but harm no one--we will endeavour to get into the
shop--make them keep back, and knock at the door."--"Back, back," cried
the halberdiers, presenting the but-ends of their arms; the throng
retreated a little; the sheriff knocked, crying to those within to open;
they obeyed, and he and his guard contrived to intrench themselves
within the house; then, appearing at a window above, "Friends," cried
he, "go home. A general pardon to whoever shall return immediately to
their houses."

"Bread, bread! open, open!" vociferated the crowd in reply.

"You shall have justice, friends; but return to your houses. You shall
have bread; but this is not the way to obtain it. Eh! what are you doing
below there? At the door of the house! hah! hah! Take care; it is a
criminal act. Eh! away with those tools! take down those hands! hah!
hah! You Milanese, who are famous throughout the world for your
benevolence, who have always been accounted good citi---- Ah! rascals!"

This rapid change of style was occasioned by a stone thrown by one of
these good citizens at the sheriff's head. "Rascals! rascals!" continued
he, closing the window in a rage. The confusion below increased; stones
were thrown at the doors and windows, and they had nearly opened a way
into the shop. Meanwhile the master and boys of the shop, who were at
the windows of the story above, with a supply of stones (obtained
probably from the court-yard), threatened to throw them upon the crowd
if they did not disperse. Perceiving their threats to be of no avail,
they commenced putting them in execution.

"Ah! villains! ah! rogues! Is this the bread you give to the poor?" was
screamed from below. Many were wounded, two were killed; the fury of the
multitude increased; the doors were broken open, and the torrent rushed
through all the passages. At this, those within took refuge under the
shop floor; the sheriff and the halberdiers hid themselves beneath the
tiles; others escaped by the skylights, and wandered upon the roofs like
cats.

The sight of their prey made the conquerors forget their designs of
sanguinary vengeance; some rushed to the chests, and plundered them of
bread; others hastened to force the locks of the counter, and took from
thence handfulls of money, which they pocketed, and then returned to
take more bread, if there should remain any. Others, again, entered the
interior magazines, and, throwing out part of the flour, reduced the
bags to a portable size; some attacked a kneading trough, and made a
booty of the dough; a few had made a prize of a bolting cloth, which
they raised in the air as in triumph, and, in addition to all, men,
women, and children were covered with a cloud of white powder.

While this shop was so ransacked, none of the others in the city
remained quiet, or free from danger. But at none had the people
assembled in such numbers as to be very daring; in some, the owners had
provided auxiliaries, and were on the defensive; in others, the owners
less strong in numbers, and more affrighted, endeavoured to compromise
matters; they distributed bread to those who crowded around their shops,
and thus got rid of them. And these did not depart so much because they
were content with the acquisition, as from fear of the halberdiers and
officers of justice, who were now scattered throughout the city, in
companies sufficient to keep these little bands of mutineers in
subjection. In the mean time the tumult and the crowd increased in front
of the unfortunate bakery, as the strength of the populace had here the
advantage. Things were in this situation, when Renzo, coming from the
eastern gate, approached, without knowing it, the scene of tumult.
Hurried along by the crowd, he endeavoured to extract from the confused
shouting of the throng some more positive information of the real state
of affairs.

"Now the infamous imposition of these rascals is discovered," said one;
"they said there was neither bread, flour, nor corn. Now we know things
just as they are, and they can no longer deceive us."

"I tell you that all this answers no purpose," said another; "it will
do no good unless justice be done to us. Bread will be cheap enough,
'tis true, but they will put poison in it to make the poor die like
flies. They have already said we are too numerous, I know they have; I
heard it from one of my acquaintances, who is a friend of a relation of
a scullion of one of the lords."

"Make way, make way, gentlemen, I beseech you; make way for a poor
father of a family who is carrying bread to five children!" This was
said by one who came staggering under the weight of a bag of flour.

"I," said another, in an under tone, to one of his companions, "I am
going away. I am a man of the world, and I know how these things go.
These clowns, who now make so much noise, will prove themselves cowards
to-morrow. I have already perceived some among the crowd who are taking
note of those who are present, and when all is over, they will make up
the account, and the guilty will pay the penalty."

"He who protects the bakers," cried a sonorous voice, which attracted
the attention of Renzo, "is the superintendent of provisions."

"They are all rogues," said a neighbour.

"Yes, but he is the chief," replied the one who had first spoken.

The superintendent of provisions, elected every year by the governor
from a list of seven nobles formed from the council of ten, was the
president of the court of provision, which, composed of twelve nobles,
had, with other duties, that of superintending the corn for the
citizens. Persons in such a station would naturally, in times of
starvation and ignorance, be considered as the authors of all the evil.

"Cheats!" exclaimed another; "can they do worse? They have had the
audacity to say that the high chancellor is a childish old man, and they
wish to take the government into their own hands. We ought to make a
great coop, and put them in, to feed upon dry peas and cockleweed, as
they would fain have us do."

While listening to such observations as the above, Renzo continued to
make his way through the crowd, and at last arrived in front of the
bakery. On viewing its dilapidated and ruinous state, after the assault
just sustained, "This cannot be a good deed," thought he: "if they treat
all the bake-houses in this manner, where will they make bread?"

From time to time, some were seen issuing from the house, loaded with
pieces of chests, or troughs, or a bench, basket, or some other relic of
the poor building, and crying, "Make way, make way!" passed through the
crowd. These were all carried in the same direction, and it appeared to
a place agreed upon. Renzo's curiosity being excited, he followed one
who carried a bundle of pieces of board and chips on his shoulder, and
found that he took the direction of the cathedral. On passing it, the
mountaineer could not avoid stopping a moment to gaze with admiring eyes
on the magnificent structure. He then quickened his steps to rejoin him
whom he had taken as a guide, and, keeping behind him, they drew near
the middle of the square. The crowd was here more dense, but they opened
a way for the carrier, and Renzo, skilfully introducing himself in the
void left by him, arrived with him in the very midst of the multitude.
Here there was an open space, in the centre of which was a bonfire, a
heap of embers, the remains of the tools mentioned above; surrounding it
was heard a clapping of hands and stamping of feet, the tumult of a
thousand cries of triumph and imprecation.

He of the boards threw them on the embers, and some, with pieces of
half-burnt shovel, stirred them until the flame ascended, upon which
their shouts were renewed louder than before. The flame sank again, and
the company, for want of more combustibles, began to be weary, when a
report spread, that at the Cordusio (a square or cross-way not far from
there) they were besieging a bakery: then was heard on all sides, "Let
us go, let us go;" and the crowd moved on. Renzo was drawn along with
the current, but in the mean while held counsel with himself, whether he
had not best withdraw from the fray, and return to the convent in search
of Father Bonaventura; but curiosity again prevailed, and he suffered
himself to be carried forward, with the determination, however, of
remaining a mere spectator of the scene.

The multitude passed through the short and narrow street of Pescheria,
and thence by the crooked arch to the square de' Mercanti. Here there
were very few, who, in passing before the niche that divides towards the
centre the terrace of the edifice then called the College of Doctors,
did not give a slight glance at the great statue contained in it of
Philip II., who even from the marble imposed respect, and who, with his
arm extended, appeared to be menacing the populace for their rebellion.

This niche is now empty, and from a singular circumstance. About one
hundred and sixty years after the events we are now relating, the head
of the statue was changed, the sceptre taken from its hand, and a dagger
substituted in its place, and beneath it was written _Marcus Brutus_.
Thus inserted it remained perhaps a couple of years, until one day, some
persons, who had no sympathies with Marcus Brutus, but rather an
aversion to him, threw a rope around the statue, pulled it down, and,
reducing it to a shapeless mass, dragged it, with many insulting
gestures, beyond the walls of the city. Who would have foretold this to
Andrea Biffi when he sculptured it?

From the square de' Mercanti, the clamorous troop at length arrived at
the Cordusio. Each one immediately looked towards the shop; but, instead
of the crowd of friends which they expected to find engaged on its
demolition, there were but a few, at a distance from the shop, which was
shut, and defended from the windows by armed people. They fell back, and
there was a murmur through the crowd of unwillingness to risk the hazard
of proceeding, when a voice was heard to cry aloud, "Near by is the
house of the superintendent of provision; let us do justice, and plunder
it." There was a universal acceptance of the proposal, and "To the
superintendent's! to the superintendent's!" was the only sound that
could be heard. The crowd moved with unanimous fury towards the street
where the house, named in such an evil moment, was situated.



CHAPTER XIII.


The unfortunate superintendent was at this moment painfully digesting
his miserable dinner, whilst awaiting anxiously the termination of this
hurricane; he was, however, far from suspecting that its greatest fury
was to be spent on himself. Some benevolent persons hastened forward to
inform him of his urgent peril. The servants, drawn to the door by the
uproar, beheld, in affright, the dense mass advancing. While they
listened to the friendly notice, the vanguard appeared; one hastily
informed his master; and while he, for a moment, deliberated upon
flight, another came to say there was no longer time for it; in hurry
and confusion they closed and barricadoed the windows and the doors. The
howling without increased; each corner of the house resounded with it;
and in the midst of the vast and mingled noise was heard, fearfully and
distinctly, the blows of stones upon the door. "The tyrant! the tyrant!
the causer of famine! we must have him, living or dead!"

The poor man wandered from room to room in a state of insupportable
alarm, commending himself to God, and beseeching his servants to be
firm, and to find for him some way of escape! He ascended to the highest
floor, and, from an opening between the garret and the roof, he looked
anxiously out upon the street, and beheld it filled with the enraged
populace; more appalled than ever, he withdrew to seek the most secure
and secret hiding-place. Here, concealed, he listened intently to
ascertain if at any time the importunate transport of passion should
weaken, if the tumult should in any degree subside; but his heart died
within him to hear the uproar continue with aggravated and savage
ferocity.

Renzo at this time found himself in the thickest of the confusion, not
now carried there by the press, but by his own inclination. At the first
proposal of blood-shedding, he felt his own curdle in his veins; as to
the plundering, he was not quite certain whether it was right or wrong;
but the idea of murder caused him unmixed horror. And although he was
greatly persuaded that the vicar was the primary cause of the famine,
the grand criminal, still, having, at the first movement of the crowd,
heard, by chance, some expressions which indicated a willingness to make
any effort to save him, he had suddenly determined to aid such a work,
and had therefore pressed near the door, which was assailed in a
thousand ways. Some were pounding the lock to break it in pieces; others
assisted with stakes, and chisels, and hammers; others, again, tore away
the plastering, and beat in pieces the wall, in order to effect a
breach. The rest, who were unable to get near the house, encouraged by
their shouts those who were at the work of destruction; though,
fortunately, through the eagerness with which they pressed forward, they
impeded its progress.

The magistrates, who were the first to have notice of the fray,
despatched a messenger to ask military aid of the commander of the
castle, which was then called, from the gate, Giovia; and he forthwith
detached a troop, which arrived when the house was encompassed with the
throng, and undergoing its tremendous assault; and was therefore obliged
to halt at a distance from it, and at the extremity of the crowd. The
officer who commanded it did not know what course to pursue; at the
order to disperse and make way, the people replied by a deep and
continued murmur, but no one moved. To fire on the crowd appeared not
only savage, but perilous, inasmuch as the most harmless might be
injured, and the most ferocious only irritated, and prepared for further
mischief; and moreover his instructions did not authorise it. To break
the crowd, and go forward with his band to the house, would have been
the best, if success could have been certain; but who could tell if the
soldiers could proceed united and in order? The irresolution of the
commander seemed to proceed from fear: the populace were unmoved by the
appearance of the soldiers, and continued their attacks on the house. At
a little distance there stood an ill-looking, half-starved old man, who,
contracting an angry countenance to a smile of diabolical complacency,
brandished above his hoary head a hammer, with which he said he meant to
nail the vicar to the posts of his door, alive as he was.

"Oh, shame! shame!" exclaimed Renzo. "Shame! would you take the
hangman's business out of his hand? to assassinate a Christian? How can
you expect God will give us bread, if we commit such iniquity? He will
send us his thunders, and not bread!"

"Ah! dog! ah! traitor to the country!" cried one who had heard these
words, turning to Renzo with the countenance of a demon. "It is a
servant of the vicar's disguised like a countryman; it is a spy!" A
hundred voices were heard exclaiming, "Who is it? where is he?"--"A
servant of the vicar's--a spy--the vicar himself, escaping in the
disguise of a peasant!"--"Where is he? where is he?"

Renzo would have shrunk into nothingness,--some of the more benevolent
contrived to help him to disappear through the crowd; but that which
preserved him most effectually was a cry of "Make way, here comes our
help, make way!" which attracted the attention of the throng.

This was a long scaling ladder, supported by a few persons who were
endeavouring to penetrate the living mass, and by which they meant to
gain entrance to the house. But, happily, this was not easy of
execution; the length of the machine precluded the possibility of its
being carried easily through such a multitude; it came, however, just in
time for Renzo, who profited by the confusion, and escaped to a
distance, with the intention of making his way, as soon as he could, to
the convent, in search of Father Bonaventura.

Suddenly a new movement began at one extremity, and diffused itself
through the crowd:--"Ferrer, Ferrer!" resounded from every side. Some
were surprised, some rejoiced, some were exasperated, some applauded,
some affirmed, some denied, some blessed, some cursed!

"Is he here? It is not true; it is not true. Yes, yes, long live Ferrer,
he who makes bread cheap.--No, no! He is here--here in a carriage! Why
does he come?--we don't want him.--Ferrer! long live Ferrer! the friend
of the poor! he comes to take the vicar prisoner.--No, no, we would
revenge _ourselves_, we would fight our own battles; back, back.--Yes,
yes, Ferrer! Let him come! to prison with the vicar!"

At the extremity of the crowd, on the side opposite to that where the
soldiers were, Antonio Ferrer, the high chancellor, was approaching in
his carriage, who, probably condemning himself as the cause of this
commotion, had come to avert at least its most terrific and irreparable
effects, to spend worthily a popularity unworthily acquired.

In popular tumults there are always some who, from heated passion, or
fanaticism, or wicked design, do what they can to push things to the
worst; proposing and promoting the most barbarous counsels, and
assisting to stir the fire whenever it appears to slacken. But, on the
other hand, there are always those who, perhaps with equal ardour, and
equal perseverance, employ their efforts for the production of contrary
effects; some led by friendship or partiality for the persons in danger,
others without other impulse than that of horror of bloodshed and
atrocity. The mass, then, is ever composed of a mixed assemblage, who,
by indefinite gradations, hold to one or the other extreme; prompt to
rage or compassion, to adoration or execration, according as the
occasion presents itself for the developement of either of these
sentiments: _life_ and _death_ are the words involuntarily uttered, and
with equal facility; and he who succeeds in persuading them that such an
one does not deserve to be quartered, has but little more to do, to
convince them that he ought to be carried in triumph.

While these various interests were contending for superiority in the
mob, before the house of the vicar, the appearance of Antonio Ferrer
gave instantly a great advantage to the humane, who were manifestly
yielding to the greater strength of the ferocious and blood-thirsty. The
man himself was acceptable to the multitude, from his having previously
favoured their cause, and from his heroic resistance to any arguments
against it. Those already favourably inclined towards him were now much
more affected by the courageous confidence of an old man, who, without
guards or retinue, came thus to confront an angry and stormy multitude.
The announcement that his purpose was to take the vicar prisoner,
produced at once a wonderful effect; and the fury against that unhappy
person, which would have been aggravated by any attempt at defiance, or
refusal of concession, now, with the promise of satisfaction, and, to
speak in the Milanese fashion, with this bone in the mouth, became in a
degree appeased, and gave place to other opposite sentiments, which
began to prevail over their minds.

The partisans of peace, having recovered breath, aided Ferrer in various
ways; those who were near him, while endeavouring by their own to
perpetuate the general applause, sought at the same time to keep off the
crowd, so as to open a passage for the carriage; others applauded and
repeated his words, or such as appeared appropriate to his undertaking
and his peril; imposed silence on the obstinately furious, or contrived
to turn against _them_ the anger of the fickle assembly. "Who is it that
will not say, Long live Ferrer? You don't wish bread to be cheap, then,
eh? They are rogues who are not willing to receive justice at the hands
of a Christian, and there are some among them who cry louder than the
rest, to allow the vicar to escape. To prison with the superintendent!
Long live Ferrer! Make way for Ferrer!" The numbers of those who spoke
in this manner increasing continually, the numbers of the opposite party
diminished in proportion; so that the former, from admonishing, had
recourse to blows, in order to silence those who were still disposed to
pursue the work of destruction. The menaces and threatenings of the
weaker party were of no longer avail; the cause of blood had ceased to
predominate, and in its place were heard only the cries of "Prison,
justice, Ferrer!" The rebellious spirits were finally silenced: the
remainder took possession of the door, in order to defend it from fresh
attacks, and also to prepare a passage for Ferrer; and some among them
called to those within (openings were not wanting) that succour had
arrived, and that the vicar must get ready "to go quickly--to
prison--hem! do you hear?"

"Is this the Ferrer who helps in making the proclamations?" asked our
Renzo of one of his new neighbours, remembering the _vidit Ferrera_ that
the doctor had shown him appended to the famous proclamation, and which
he had reiterated in his ears with so great a degree of pertinacity.

"The same, the high chancellor," replied he.

"He is a worthy man, is he not?"

"He is more than worthy; it is he who has lowered the price of bread,
against the wishes of others in power, and now he comes to carry the
vicar to prison, because he has not acted justly."

It is unnecessary to say, that Renzo's feelings were immediately
enlisted on the side of Ferrer. He was desirous to approach near him,
but the undertaking was no easy one; however, with the decision and
strength of a mountaineer, he continued to elbow himself through the
crowd, and finally reached the side of the carriage.

The carriage had already penetrated into the midst of the crowd, but was
here suddenly stopped by one of those obstructions, the unavoidable
consequence of a journey like this. The aged Ferrer presented, now at
one window of his carriage, now at the other, a countenance full of
humility, of sweetness, and benevolence; a countenance which he had
always kept in reserve for the day in which he should appear before Don
Philip IV.; but he was constrained to make use of it on this occasion.
He spoke; but the noise and buzzing of so many voices, and the shouts of
applause which they bestowed on him, allowed but little of his discourse
to be heard. He had recourse also to gestures; now placing his fingers
on his lips, to take from thence a kiss, which his enclosed hands
distributed to right and left, as if to render thanks for the favour
with which the public regarded him; then he extended them, waving them
slowly beyond the window as if to entreat a little space; and now again
lowering them politely, as if to request a little silence. When he had
succeeded in obtaining, in some measure, his last request, those who
were nearest to him heard and repeated his words:--"Bread, abundance. I
come to do justice; a little space, if you please." Then, as if stifled
and suffocated with the press, and the continual buzzing of so many
voices, he threw himself back in the carriage, and with difficulty
drawing a long breath, said to himself, "_Por mi vida, que de
gente_."[5]

      [5]: Upon my life, what a multitude.

"Long live Ferrer; there is no occasion for fear; you are a brave man.
Bread! bread!"

"Yes, bread, bread," replied Ferrer, "in abundance! _I_ promise you, I
do," placing his hand on his heart. "Clear a passage for me," added he,
then, in the loudest voice he could command; "I come to carry him to
prison, to inflict on him a just punishment;" and he added, in a very
low tone, "_Si esta culpable_."[6] Then leaning forward to the coachman,
he said hastily, "_Adelante, Pedro, si puedes_."[7]

      [6] If he is guilty.

      [7] Go on, Pedro, if you can.

The coachman smiled also on the people with an affected politeness, as
if he were some great personage; and, with ineffable grace, he waved the
whip slowly from right to left, as if requesting his inconvenient
neighbours to retire a little on either side. "Be so kind, gentlemen,"
said he, "a little space, ever so little, just enough to let us pass."

Meanwhile the most active and officious employed themselves in preparing
the passage so politely requested. Some made the crowd retire from
before the horses with good words, placing their hands on their breast,
and pushing them gently, "There, there, a little space, gentlemen."
Others pursued the same plan at the sides of the carriage, so that it
might pass on without damage to those who surrounded it; which would
have subjected the popularity of Antonio Ferrer to great hazard. Renzo,
after having been occupied for a few moments in admiring the respectable
old man, a little disturbed by vexation, overwhelmed with fatigue, but
animated by solicitude, embellished, so to speak, by the hope of
wresting a fellow-creature from the pains of death,--Renzo, I say, threw
away all idea of retreat. He resolved to assist Ferrer in every way that
lay in his power, and not to abandon him until he had accomplished his
designs. He united with the others to free the way, and he was certainly
not one of the least active or industrious. A passage was opened. "Come
on, come on," said a number of them to the coachman, retiring in front
of the crowd to maintain the passage clear. "_Adelante, presto, con
juicio_[8]," said his master also to him, and the carriage moved
forward. In the midst of the salutes which he lavished promiscuously on
the public, Ferrer, with a smile of intelligence, bestowed particular
thanks upon those whom he beheld busily employed for him; more than one
of these smiles was directed to Renzo, who, in truth, deserved them
richly, serving the high chancellor on this day with more devoted zeal
than the most intrepid of his secretaries. The young mountaineer was
delighted with his condescension, and proud of the honour of having, as
he thought, formed a friendship with Antonio Ferrer.

      [8] On, on, but be careful.

The carriage, once in motion, continued its way with more or less
slowness, and not without being frequently brought to a full stop. The
space to be traversed was short, but, with respect to the time it
occupied, it would have appeared interminable, even to one not governed
by the holy motive of Ferrer. The people thronged around the carriage,
to right and left, as dolphins around a vessel, hurried forward by a
tempest. The noise was more piercing and discordant than that of a
tempest itself. Ferrer continued to speak to the populace the whole
length of the way. "Yes, gentlemen, bread in abundance. I will conduct
him to prison; he shall be punished--_si esta culpable_.[9] Yes, yes, I
will order it so; bread shall be cheap. _Asi es._ So it shall, I mean.
The king our master does not wish his faithful subjects to suffer from
hunger. _Oh, oh! guardaos._[10] Take care that we do not hurt you,
gentlemen, _Pedro, adelante, con juicio._[11] Abundance! abundance! a
little space, for the love of Heaven! Bread, bread! To prison! to
prison! What do you want?" demanded he of a man who had thrust himself
partly within the window to howl at him some advice, or petition, or
applause, no matter what; but he, without having heard the question, had
been drawn back by another, who saw him in danger of being crushed by
the wheel. Amidst all this clamour, Ferrer at last gained the house,
thanks to his kind auxiliaries.

      [9] If he is guilty.

      [10] Oh, oh! take care.

      [11] On, Pedro, but be careful.

Those who had stationed themselves there had equally laboured to procure
the desired result, and had succeeded in dividing the crowd in two, and
keeping them back, so that between the door and the carriage there
should be an empty space, however small. Renzo, who in acting as a scout
and a guide had arrived with the carriage, was able to find a place,
whence he could, by making a rampart of his powerful shoulders, see
distinctly all that passed.

Ferrer breathed again on seeing the place free, and the door still shut,
or, to speak more correctly, not yet open. However, the hinges were
nearly torn from their fastenings, and the panels shivered in many
pieces; so that an opening was made, through which it could be seen that
what held it together was the bolt, which, however, was almost twisted
from its socket. Through this breach some one cried to those within to
open the door, another ran to let down the steps of the carriage, and
the old man descended from it, leaning on the arm of this benevolent
person.

The crowd pressed forward to behold him: curiosity and general attention
caused a moment's silence. Ferrer stopped an instant on the steps,
turned towards them, and putting his hand to his heart, said, "Bread and
justice." Clothed in his toga, with head erect, and step assured, he
continued to descend, amid the loud applause that rent the skies.

In the mean while the people of the house had opened the door, so as to
permit the entrance of so desired a guest; taking care, however, to
contract the opening to the space his body would occupy. "Quick, quick!"
said he, "open, so that I may enter; and you, brave men, keep back the
people, do not let them come behind me--for the love of Heaven! Open a
way for us, presently.--Eh! eh! gentlemen, one moment," said he to the
people of the house; "softly with this door; let me pass. Oh, my ribs,
take care of my ribs. Shut now--no, my gown, my gown!" It would have
remained caught within the door if Ferrer had not hastily withdrawn it.

The doors, closed in the best manner they could be, were nevertheless
supported with bars from within. On the outside, those who had
constituted themselves the bodyguard of Ferrer worked with their
shoulders, their arms, and their voice to keep the place empty, praying
from the bottom of their hearts that they would be expeditious.

"Quick, quick!" said Ferrer, as he reached the portico, to the servants
who surrounded him, crying, "May your excellency be rewarded! What
goodness! Great God, what goodness!"

"Quick, quick," repeated Ferrer, "where is this poor man?"

The superintendent descended the stairs half led, half carried by his
domestics, and pale as death. When he saw who had come to his
assistance, he sighed deeply, his pulse returned, and a slight colour
tinged his cheek. He hastened to meet Ferrer, saying, "I am in the hands
of God and your excellency; but how go hence? we are surrounded on all
sides by people who desire my death."

"_Venga con migo usted_[12], and take courage. My carriage is at the
door; quick, quick!" He took him by the hand, and, continuing to
encourage him, led him towards the door, saying in his heart, however,
_Aqui esta el busilis! Dios nos valga!_[13]

      [12] Come with me.

      [13] Now for the difficult point! God help us!

The door, opened; Ferrer appeared first; the superintendent followed,
shrinking with fear, and clinging to the protecting toga, as an infant
to the gown of its mother. Those who had maintained the space free
raised their hands and waved their hats; making in this manner a sort of
cloud to conceal the superintendent from the view of the people, and to
enable him to enter the carriage, and place himself out of sight. Ferrer
followed, and the carriage was closed. The people drew their own
conclusions as to what had taken place, and there arose, in consequence,
a mingled sound of applauses and imprecations.

The return of the carriage might seem to be even more difficult and
dangerous; but the willingness of the public to suffer the
superintendent to be carried to prison was sufficiently manifest; and
the friends of Ferrer had been busy in keeping the way open whilst he
was at the house, so that he could return with a little more speed than
he went. As it advanced, the crowd, ranged on either side, closed and
united their ranks behind it.

Ferrer, as soon as he was seated, whispered the superintendent to keep
himself concealed in the bottom of the carriage, and not to let himself
be seen, for the love of Heaven; there was, however, no need of this
advice. It was the policy of the high chancellor, on the contrary, to
attract as much of the attention of the populace as possible, and during
all this passage, as in the former, he harangued his changeable auditory
with a great quantity of sound, and very little sense; interrupting
himself continually to breathe into the ear of his invisible companion a
few hurried words of Spanish. "Yes, gentlemen, bread and justice. To the
castle, to prison under my care. Thanks, thanks, a thousand thanks! No,
no, he shall not escape! _Por ablanderlos._[14] It is too just, we will
examine, we will see. I wish you well. A severe punishment. _Esto lo
digo por su bien._[15] A just and moderate price, and punishment to
those who oppose it. Keep off a little, I pray you. Yes, yes; I am the
friend of the people. He shall be punished; it is true; he is a villain,
a rascal. _Perdone usted._[16] He shall be punished, he shall be
punished--_si esta culpable_.[17] Yes, yes; we will make the bakers do
that which is just. Long live the king! long live the good Milanese, his
faithful subjects! _Animo estamos ya quasi afuera._"[18]

      [14] It is to coax them.

      [15] I say that for your good.

      [16] Pardon me.

      [17] If he is guilty.

      [18] Courage, we are almost out of danger.

They had, in fact, passed through the thickest of the throng, and were
rapidly advancing to a place of safety; and now Ferrer gave his lungs a
little repose, and looking forward, beheld the succours from Pisa, those
Spanish soldiers, who had at last rendered themselves of service, by
persuading some of the people to retire to their homes, and by keeping
the passage free for the final escape. Upon the arrival of the carriage,
they made room, and presented arms to the high chancellor, who bowed to
right and left; and to the officer who approached the nearest to salute
him he said, accompanying his words with a wave of his hand, "_Beso à
usted las manos_[19]," which the officer interpreted to signify, You
have given me much assistance!

      [19] I kiss your hands.

He might have appropriately added, _Cedant arma togæ_; but the
imagination of Ferrer was not at this moment at liberty to occupy itself
with quotations, and, moreover, they would have been addressed to the
wind, as the officer did not understand Latin.

Pedro felt his accustomed courage revive at the sight of these files of
muskets, so respectfully raised; and recovering entirely from his
amazement, he urged on his horses, without deigning to take further
notice of the few, who were now harmless from their numbers.

"_Levantese, levantese, estamos afueras_[20]," said Ferrer to the
superintendent, who, re-assured by the cessation of the tumult, the
rapid motion of the carriage, and these words of encouragement, drew
himself from his corner, and overwhelmed his liberator with thanks. The
latter, after having condoled with him on account of his peril, and
rejoiced at his deliverance, exclaimed, "_Ah! que dira de esto su
excelencia_[21], who is already weary of this cursed Casale, because it
will not surrender? _que dira el conde duque?_[22] who trembles if a
leaf makes more noise than usual? _Que dira el rey nuestro señor?_[23]
who must necessarily be informed of so great a tumult? And is it at an
end? _Dios lo sabe._"[24]--"Ah, as for me, I will have nothing more to
do with it," said the superintendent. "I wash my hands of it. I resign
my office into the hands of your excellency, and I will go and live in a
cavern on a mountain, as a hermit, far, very far from this savage
people."

      [20] Rise, rise, we are beyond danger.

      [21] What will his excellency say to this?

      [22] What will the count duke say?

      [23] What will the king our master say?

      [24] God knows.

"_Usted_[25] will do that which is best _por el servicio de su
majestad_," replied the high chancellor, gravely.

      [25] You--for his majesty's service.

"His majesty does not desire my death," replied the superintendent.
"Yes, yes, in a cavern, in a cavern far from these cruel people."

It is not known what became of this project, as, after conducting the
poor man in safety to his castle, our author makes no farther mention of
him.



CHAPTER XIV.


The crowd began to disperse; some went home to take care of their
families, some wandered off from the desire to breathe more freely,
after such a squeeze, and others sought their acquaintances, to chat
with them over the deeds of the day. The other end of the street was
also thinning, so that the detachment of Spanish soldiers could without
resistance advance near the superintendent's house. In front of it there
still remained, so to speak, the dregs of the commotion; a company of
the seditious, who, discontented with "so lame and impotent a
conclusion," of that which promised so much, muttered curses at the
disappointment, and united themselves in knots to consult with each
other on the possibility of yet attempting something; and, to afford
themselves proof that this was in their power, they attacked and pounded
the poor door, which had been propped up anew from within. At the
arrival of the troop, however, their valour diminished, and without
further consultation they dispersed, leaving the place free to the
soldiers, who took possession, in order to serve as a guard to the house
and road. But the streets and small squares of the vicinity were full of
little gatherings; where three or four individuals stopped, twenty were
soon added to them; there was a confused and constant babbling; one
narrated with emphasis the peculiar incidents of which he had been the
witness, another related his own feats, another rejoiced that the affair
had ended so happily, loaded Ferrer with praises, and predicted serious
consequences to the superintendent; to which another still replied,
that there was no danger of it, because wolves do not eat wolves;
others, in anger, muttered that they had been duped, and that they were
fools to allow themselves to be deceived in this manner.

Meanwhile the sun had set, and twilight threw the same indistinct hue
over every object. Many, fatigued with the day, and wearied with
conversing in the dark, returned to their houses. Our hero, after having
assisted the carriage as far as was necessary, rejoiced when he beheld
it in safety, and as soon as it was in his power left the crowd, so that
he might, once more, breathe freely. Hardly had he taken a few steps in
the open air, when he experienced a re-action after such excitement, and
began to feel the need of food and repose; he therefore looked upward on
either side, in search of a sign, which might hold out to him the
prospect of satisfying his wants, as it was too late to think of going
to the convent. Thus, walking with his eyes directed upward, he stumbled
on one of these groups, and his attention was attracted by hearing them
speak of designs and projects for the morrow; it appeared to him that
he, who had been such a labourer in the field, had a right to give his
opinion. Persuaded from all he had witnessed during the day, that, in
order to secure the success of an enterprise, it was only necessary to
gain the co-operation of the populace, "Gentlemen," cried he, in a tone
of exordium, "allow me to offer my humble opinion. My humble opinion is
this; it is not only in the matter of bread that iniquity is practised:
and since we have discovered to-day, that we have only to make ourselves
heard, to obtain justice, we must go on, until we obtain redress for all
their other knavish tricks--until we compel them to act like Christians.
Is it not true, gentlemen, that there is a band of tyrants who reverse
the tenth commandment; who commit injuries on the peaceful and the poor,
and in the end make it out that they act justly? And even when they have
committed a greater villany than usual, they carry their heads higher
then ever. There are some such even in Milan."

"Too many," said a voice.

"I say it, I do," resumed Renzo; "it has even reached our ears. And then
the thing speaks for itself. By way of illustration, let us suppose one
of those to whom I allude to have one foot in Milan, and the other
elsewhere; if he is a devil there, will he be an angel here? Tell me,
gentlemen, have you ever seen one of these people with a countenance
like Ferrer's? But what renders their practices more wicked, I assure
you that there are printed proclamations against them, in which their
evil deeds are clearly pointed out, and a punishment assigned to each,
and it is written, '_Whoever he be, ignoble and plebeian_, &c. &c.' But
go now to the doctors, scribes, and pharisees, and demand justice
according to the proclamation; they listen to you as the pope does to
rogues: it is enough to make an honest man turn rascal! It is evident,
that the king and those who govern would willingly punish the villains,
but they can do nothing, because there is a league among them. We must
break it up, then; we must go to-morrow to Ferrer, who is a good worthy
man; it was plain how delighted he was to-day to find himself among the
poor; how he tried to hear what was said to him, and how kindly he
answered them. We must go, then, to Ferrer, and inform him how things
are situated; and I, for my part, can tell him something that will
astonish him; I, who have seen with my own eyes a proclamation, with
ever so many coats of arms at the head of it, and which had been made by
three of the rulers; their names were printed at the bottom, and one of
these names was Ferrer; this I saw with my own eyes! Now this
proclamation was exactly suited to my case; so that I demanded justice
from the doctor, since it was the desire of these three lords, among
whom was Ferrer; but in the eyes of this very doctor, who had himself
shown me this fine proclamation, I appeared to be a madman. I am sure
that when this dear old man shall hear these doings, especially in the
country, he will not let the world go on in this manner, but will
quickly find some remedy. And then, they themselves, if they issue
proclamations, they should wish to see them obeyed; for it is an insult,
an epitaph, with their _name_, if counted for nothing. And if the
nobility will not lower their pretensions, and cease their evil doings,
we must compel them as we have done to-day. I do not say that he should
go in his carriage to take all the rascals to gaol--it would need Noah's
ark for that; he must give orders to those whose business it is, not
only at Milan but elsewhere, to put the proclamations in force, to enter
an action against such as have been guilty of those iniquities, and
where the edict says, 'Prison,' then prison; where it says, 'The
galleys,' the galleys; and to say to the various _podestà_ that they
must conduct themselves uprightly, or they shall be dismissed and others
put in their place, and then, as I say, we will be there also to lend a
helping hand, and to command the doctors to listen to the poor, and talk
reasonably. Am I not right, gentlemen?"

Renzo had spoken so vehemently, that he had attracted the attention of
the assembly, and, dropping by degrees all other discourse, they had all
become his listeners. A confused clamour of applause, a "bravo!
certainly! assuredly! he is right, it is but too true," followed his
harangue. Critics, however, were not wanting. "It is a pretty thing,
indeed," said one, "to listen to a mountaineer! they are all lawyers!"
and he turned on his heel.

"Now," muttered another, "every barefooted fellow will give his opinion,
and with this rage for meddling, we shall at last not have bread at a
low price, and that is all that disturbs us." Compliments, however, were
all that reached the ears of Renzo; they seized his hands, and
exclaimed,--

"We will see you again to-morrow."

"Where?"

"On the square of the cathedral."

"Yes, very well. And something shall be done, something shall be done."

"Which of these good gentlemen will show me an inn, where I may obtain
refreshment and repose for the night?" said Renzo.

"I am the one for your service, worthy youth," said one, who had
listened to the sermon very attentively, but had not yet opened his
mouth; "I know an inn, that will suit you exactly; I will recommend you
to the keeper, who is my friend, and moreover a very honest man."

"Near by?"

"Not very far off."

The assembly dissolved; and Renzo, after many shakes of the hand, from
persons unknown, followed his guide, adding many thanks for his
courtesy.

"It is nothing, it is nothing," said he; "one hand washes the other, and
both the face. We ought to oblige our neighbour." As they walked along,
he put many questions to Renzo, by way of discourse.

"It is not from curiosity, nor to meddle with your affairs, but you
appear to be fatigued. From what country do you come?"

"All the way from Lecco, all the way from Lecco."

"All the way from Lecco! Are you from Lecco?"

"From Lecco; that is to say, from the province."

"Poor youth! From what I have understood of your discourse, it appears
you have been hardly treated."

"Ah! my dear and worthy man, I have been obliged to use much skill in
speaking, not to make the public acquainted with my affairs; but--it is
enough that they will one day be known, and then---- But I see here a
sign, and, by my faith, I don't wish to go farther."

"No, no; come to the place I told you of, it is but a short distance
off. You will not be well accommodated here."

"Oh yes. I am not a gentleman accustomed to delicacies; any thing to
satisfy my hunger; and a little straw will answer my purpose: that which
I have most at heart is to find them both very soon, under Providence!"
And he entered a large gate, from which hung a sign of the _Full Moon_.

"Well, I will conduct you here, since you desire it," said the unknown;
and Renzo followed him.

"There is no necessity for troubling you longer," replied Renzo; "but,"
he added, "do me the favour to go in, and take a glass with me."

"I accept your obliging offer," said he; and preceding Renzo as being
more accustomed to the house, he entered a little court-yard,
approached a glass door, and opening it, advanced into the kitchen with
his companion.

It was lighted by two lamps suspended from the beam of the ceiling. Many
people, all busy, were seated on benches which surrounded a narrow
table, occupying almost all one side of the apartment; at intervals
napkins were spread, and dishes of meat; cards played, and dice thrown;
and bottles and wine-glasses amid them all. _Berlinghe_, _reali_, and
_parpagliole_[26], were also scattered in profusion over the table,
which, could they have spoken, would probably have said, "We were this
morning in a baker's counter, or in the pocket of some spectator of the
tumult, who, occupied with public affairs, neglected the care of private
affairs." The confusion was great; a boy ran to and fro busily engaged
in attending to the dinner and gaming tables; the host was seated on a
low bench under the mantle-tree of the chimney, apparently occupied in
tracing figures in the ashes with the tongs, but in reality deeply
attentive to all that passed around him. He raised his head at the sound
of the latch, and turned towards the new comers. When he saw the guide,
"Curse the fellow," said he to himself, "he must always be under my
feet, when I wish him at the devil!" Casting a rapid glance towards
Renzo, he continued, "I know you not; but if you come with such a
hunter, you are either a dog or a hare. When you shall have spoken a few
words, I shall know which of the two you are."

      [26] Different coins.

Nothing of this mute soliloquy could be traced, however, in the
countenance of the host, who was motionless as a statue: his eyes were
small and without expression, his face fat and shining, and his short
and thick beard of a reddish hue.

"What are your orders, gentlemen?" said he.

"First, a good flagon of wine," said Renzo, "and then something to eat."
So saying, he threw himself on a bench at one end of the table, and
uttered a loud and sonorous _Ah!_ as if to say, "It is a good thing to
sit down after having been so long on one's feet." But recollecting the
table at which he had been seated the evening before with Agnes and
Lucy, he sighed deeply. The host brought the wine; his companion had
seated himself opposite to him; Renzo filled a glass for him, saying,
"To wet your lips," and another for himself, which he swallowed at a
draught.

"What can you give me to eat?" said he, addressing the host.

"A good piece of stewed meat," replied he.

"Well, sir, a good piece of stewed meat."

"You shall be served immediately," said the host, and calling to the
boy, "Serve this gentleman. But," resumed he, turning again to Renzo, "I
have no bread to-day."

"As for bread," said Renzo, in a loud voice, and laughing, "Providence
has provided that." And he drew forth the third and last loaf, picked up
under the cross of _St. Dionigi_, and holding it up, cried, "Here is the
bread of Providence!"

At this exclamation many of the company turned round, and seeing this
trophy in the air, one of them cried, "Bread for ever at a low price!"

"At a low price!" said Renzo; "_gratis et amore_."

"Better still, better still."

"But," added he, "I do not wish these gentlemen to think evil of me. I
have not stolen it--I found it on the ground; and if I could find the
owner, I am ready to pay him."

"Bravo, bravo!" cried they, laughing louder still, not imagining that he
was in earnest.

"They think that I jest, but it is really so," said Renzo to his guide,
and turning the bread in his hand; "see how they have formed it--you
would call it a cake, but they were so packed one on the other. If there
were any with the crust a little tender, one might know they were
fresh." Then devouring three or four mouthfulls of the bread, he washed
them down with another glass of wine, adding, "The bread will not go
down alone--my throat was never so dry--a glorious uproar we made!"

"Prepare a good bed for this young man," said the guide; "he is going to
pass the night here."

"Do you wish to sleep here?" said the host to Renzo, approaching the
table.

"Certainly; I shall be content with any bed, provided the sheets are
white; for although poor, I am accustomed to cleanliness."

"Oh, as to that----" said the host. So saying, he went to his counter,
which was in a corner of the kitchen, and returned, bringing in his hand
paper, pen, and ink.

"What does this mean?" swallowing a piece of the stew which had been
placed before him, and smiling with an air of surprise; "is that the
white sheet?"

The host, without replying, placed the paper on the table, and himself
in an attitude to write, and with the pen in his hand, leaning towards
Renzo, he said, "Do me the favour to tell me your name and country."

"What!" said Renzo, "what has this to do with the bed?"

"I do my duty," said the host, looking at the guide. "We are obliged to
give an exact account of all who lodge at our house. _Name and surname,
and from what country they are; why they are here; if they have arms;
and how long they expect to remain in the city._ These are the very
words of the proclamation."

Before answering, Renzo emptied another glass; it was the third, but I
fear for the future we shall not find it possible to count them. "Ah,
ah!" exclaimed he, "you have the proclamation. Well, I pride myself on
being a doctor of laws, and I know what importance is attached to
proclamations."

"I speak in earnest," said the host, looking again at the mute companion
of Renzo; and returning to his desk, he drew from it a large sheet of
paper, which he unfolded before Renzo, as an exact copy of the
proclamation.

"Ah! there it is!" cried he, quickly emptying the contents of the glass
which he held in his hand. "Ah! there it is! the fine sheet! I rejoice
to see it. I know these arms; I know what this pagan head means with a
noose around its neck." (The proclamations of that time were headed by
the arms of the governor, and in those of Don Gonzalo Fernandez de
Cordova was seen a Moorish king, chained by the throat.) "This face
means, Command who can, and obey who will. When the Signor Don----shall
have been sent to the galleys--well, well, I know what I would say--I
have seen another leaf just like this. When he shall have so taken
measures that an honest young man can, without molestation, marry her to
whom he is betrothed, and by whom he is beloved, then I will tell my
name to this face, and will give him a kiss in the bargain. I may have
very good reasons for not telling my name; it's a fine thing, truly! And
if a robber, who might have under his command a band of villains,
because if he were alone----" He hesitated a moment, finishing the
phrase with a gesture, and then proceeded, "If a robber wished to know
who I was, in order to do me some evil turn, I ask you if that face
would move from the paper to help me. Am I obliged to tell my business?
Truly, this is something new. Suppose, for instance, that I have come to
Milan to confess--I would wish to do it to a capuchin father, and not to
the landlord of an inn."

The host kept silence, looking at the guide, who appeared not to notice
any thing that passed. Renzo, it grieves us to say, swallowed another
glass, and continued, "I will give you reasons enough to satisfy you, my
dear host; if those proclamations which speak favourably of good
Christians are worth nothing, those which speak unfavourably are worth
less than nothing. Take away, then, all these encumbrances, and bring in
exchange another flagon, because this one is broken." So saying, he
struck it lightly with his hand, adding, "Don't you hear how it is
cracked?"

The discourse of Renzo had again attracted the general attention of the
company, and when he concluded, there was a general murmur of applause.

"What must I do?" said the host, looking at the strange companion, who
was, however, no stranger to him.

"Yes, yes," cried many of the company, "this countryman is right; they
are vexatious impositions. New laws to-day! new laws to-day!"

The stranger took advantage of the noise to say to the host, in a tone
of reproach for his too abrupt demand, "Leave him to his own way a
little; do not raise a disturbance."

"I have done my duty," said the host aloud, "and secured myself,"
continued he, lowering his voice; "and that is all I care for." He
removed the pen, ink, and paper, and gave the empty flagon to the boy.

"Bring the same kind of wine," said Renzo, "for it suits my taste
exactly; and we will send it to sleep with the other, without asking its
name, surname, nor what is its business, nor whether it is going to
remain long in this city."

"Of the same kind," said the host to the boy, giving him the flagon, and
returning to his seat by the chimney. "He is no other than a hare,"
thought he, raking in the ashes. "And in what hands art thou fallen,
poor silly youth! If you will drown, drown; but the host of the _Full
Moon_ will not go halves with thy folly."

Renzo returned thanks to his guide, and to all those who had taken his
side. "Worthy friends," said he, "I know that honest people support each
other." Then striking the table, and placing himself in the attitude of
an orator, "Is it not an unheard of thing," cried he, "that those who
govern must always introduce paper, pen, and ink? Always the pen in
hand! Such a passion for the pen!"

"Eh! young and worthy stranger! would you know the reason?" said one of
the gamesters, laughing.

"Let us hear it," replied Renzo.

"The reason is, as these lords eat geese, they have so many quills, they
know not what to do with them."

"Oh, oh!" said Renzo, "you are a poet! You have poets here, then? I have
also a vein for poetry, and I sometimes make verses--but it is when
things go on well."

To comprehend this witticism of poor Renzo, it is necessary to be
informed, that in the eyes of the vulgar of Milan, and more particularly
in its environs, the name of poet did not signify, as among cultivated
people, a sublime genius, an inhabitant of Pindus, a pupil of the muses,
but a whimsicality and eccentricity in discourse and conduct, which had
more of singularity than sense; and an absurd wresting of words from
their legitimate signification.

"But I will tell the true reason," added Renzo, "it is because they
themselves hold the pen, and, therefore, they do not record their own
words; but let a poor man speak, they are very attentive, and in a
moment, _there_ it is, in black and white for some future occasion. They
are cunning, also; and when they want to perplex a poor youth, who does
not know how to read, but who has a little----I know well----" beating
his forehead with his hand, and pointing to it with his finger, to make
himself understood; "and when they perceive that he begins to comprehend
the difficulty, they throw into the conversation some Latin, to make him
lose the thread of their argument, to put him at his wits' end, to
confuse his brains. This custom must be broken up: to-day, every thing
has been done after the people's fashion, without paper, pen, and ink.
To-morrow, if they know how to conduct themselves, we shall do still
better, without hurting a hair of any one's head; all in the way of
justice."

In the mean while some of the company had engaged again in play, and
some in eating; some went away, others came in their place. The unknown
guide continued to remain; and without appearing to have any business to
detain him, lingered to talk a little more with Renzo, and resumed the
conversation about bread.

"If I had the control, I would order things better," said he.

"What would you do?" said Renzo, endeavouring to exhibit every
appearance of attention.

"What would I do? Every one should have bread--the poor as well as the
rich."

"Ah! that is right."

"See how I would do. I would fix a reasonable rate within the ability of
every one; then bread should be distributed according to the number of
mouths, because there are gluttons who seize all they can get for
themselves, and leave the poor still in want. We must then divide it.
And how shall we do this? Why in this way. Give a ticket to every family
in proportion to the mouths, to authorise them to get bread from the
bakers. For example: they give me a ticket expressed in this manner;
Ambrose Fusella, by trade a sword cutler, with a wife and four children,
all old enough to eat bread (mind that); he must be furnished with so
much bread at such a price. But the thing must be done in order, always
with regard to the number of mouths. For instance, they should give you
a ticket for--your name?"

"Lorenzo Tramaglino," said the young man, who, enchanted with the
project, did not reflect that it all depended on pen, ink, and paper;
and that the first point towards its success was to collect the names of
the persons to be served.

"Very well," said the unknown; "but have you a wife and children?"

"I ought to have--children, no--not yet--but a wife--if people had acted
as their duty required----"

"Ah, you are single! then have patience; they will only give you a
smaller portion."

"That is but just. But if soon, as I hope--by the help of God--enough;
suppose I have a wife."

"Then the ticket must be changed, and the portion increased, as I have
said, according to the mouths," replied the unknown, rising.

"That would be very good," cried Renzo, thumping the table with his
fist; "and why don't they make such a law?"

"How can I tell you? meanwhile I wish you a good night, as my wife and
children must have been expecting me this long while."

"Another drop, another drop," filling his glass, and endeavouring to
force him to sit down again; "another drop!"

But his friend contrived to disengage himself; and leaving Renzo,
pouring forth a torrent of entreaties and reproaches, he departed. Renzo
continued to talk until he was in the street, and then fell back on his
seat. He looked at the glass which he had filled to the brim; and seeing
the boy pass before the table, he beckoned to him, as if he had
something particular to communicate. He pointed to the glass, and with a
tone of solemnity said, "See there! I prepared it for that worthy man;
you see it is full, as it should be for a friend; but he would not have
it. Sometimes people have singular ideas; however, I have shown my good
will; but now, since the thing is done, it must not be lost." So saying,
he emptied it at one draught.

"I understand," said the boy, moving off.

"You understand too, do you? It is true, when the reasons are
sufficient----"

Here we have need of all our love of truth to induce us to pursue
faithfully our hero's history; at the same time this same impartiality
leads us to inform the reader, that this was his first error of a
similar character; and precisely because he was so unaccustomed to
merry-making did this prove so fatal. The few glasses of wine which he
swallowed so rapidly, contrary to his custom, partly to cool his throat,
and partly from an exaltation of spirits, which deprived him of the
power of reflection, went immediately to his head. Upon an habitual
drinker it would have produced no visible effect; our author observes
this, that "temperate and moderate habits have this advantage, that the
more a man practises them, the more he finds a departure from them to be
disagreeable and inconvenient; so that his fault itself serves as a
lesson to him for the future."

However this may be, when these first fumes had mounted to the brain of
Renzo, wine and words continued to flow without rule or reason. He felt
a great desire to speak, and for a while his words were arranged with
some degree of order, but by little and little he found it difficult to
form a connected sentence. The thoughts which presented themselves to
his mind were cloudy and indistinct, and his expressions, in
consequence, unconnected and obscure: to relieve his perplexity, by one
of those false instincts which, under similar circumstances, lead men to
the accomplishment of their own ruin, he had recourse to the flagon.

We will relate only a few of the words which he continued to ejaculate,
during the remainder of this miserable evening. "Ah! host, host,"
resumed he, following him with his eye around the table, or gazing at
him where he was not, and taking no notice of the noise of the company,
"host that thou art! I cannot swallow it--this request of name, surname,
and business. To a peaceable youth like me! you have not behaved well!
what satisfaction, what advantage, what pleasure--to put a poor youth on
paper? Am I not right--speak, gentlemen? Hosts should stand by good
fellows. Listen, listen, host, I wish to make a comparison for you--for
the reason----They laugh, do they? I am a little gay, I know; but the
reasons, I say, are just. Tell me, if you please, who is it that brings
custom to your house? Poor young men, is it not? Do these lords, they of
the proclamations, ever come here to wet their lips?"

"They are all water-drinkers," said one who sat near Renzo.

"They wish to keep possession of their understandings, so as to tell
lies skilfully," added another.

"Ah!" cried Renzo, "that is the poet who spoke. Then hear my reasons.
Answer me, host. Ferrer, who is the best of all of them, has he ever
been here to drink the health of any one, and to spend so much as a
farthing? And this dog of an assassin, this Don ----? I must be silent,
because I am too much in the humour for babbling. Ferrer, and Father
Crr----, I know, are two honest men. But there are few honest men. The
old are worse than the young; and the young--are much worse than the
old. I am glad there was no blood shed, these are things we must leave
to the hangman. Bread! Oh yes, for that I have had many a thrust, but I
have also given some. Make way! Abundance! _vivat!_ And Ferrer too--some
words in Latin,--_Si es baraos trapolorum._ Cursed fault! _vivat!_
justice! bread! Ah, those are good words! We had need of them. When we
heard that cursed ton, ton, ton, and then again, ton, ton, ton, the
question was not of flight; but hold the signor curate to--I, I know
what I am thinking of."

At these words he hung down his head, and remained for a time as if
absorbed by some new imagination; then, sighing deeply, he raised it
again, and looked up with such a mournful and silly expression, as
excited the amusement of all around. In short, he became the
laughingstock of the whole company. Not that they were all perfectly
sober, but, to say truth, they were so in comparison with poor Renzo.
They provoked and angered him with silly questions, and with mock
civilities; sometimes he pretended to be offended, then, without
noticing them at all, spoke of other things; then replied, then
interrogated, and always wide of the mark. By good fortune, in his
folly, he seemed from instinct to avoid pronouncing the names of
persons; so that the one most deeply graven in his memory was not
uttered. We should have been sorry ourselves if this name, for which we
feel so much love and respect, had passed from mouth to mouth, and been
made a theme of jesting by these vulgar and degraded wretches.



CHAPTER XV.


The host, seeing that the game was about to be carried too far,
approached Renzo, and entreating the others to be quiet, endeavoured to
make him understand that he had best go to bed. But our mountaineer
could think of nothing but _name_, _surname_, and _proclamations_; yet
the words _bed_ and _sleep_, repeated frequently in his ear, made at
last some impression, and producing a sort of lucid interval, made him
feel that he really had need of both. The little sense that remained to
him enabled him to perceive that the greater part of the company had
departed; and with his hands resting on the table before him, he
endeavoured to stand on his feet; his efforts would have been, however,
unavailing, without the assistance of the host, who led him from between
the table and the bench, and taking a lantern in one hand, managed
partly to lead and partly to drag him to the stairs, and thence up the
narrow staircase to the room designed for him. At the sight of the bed,
he endeavoured to look kindly upon the host; but his eyes at one time
sparkled, at another disappeared, like two fireflies: he endeavoured to
stand erect, and stretched out his hand to pat the shoulder of his host
in testimony of his gratitude; but in this he failed: however he did
succeed in saying, "Worthy host, I see now that you are an honest man;
but I don't like your rage for _name_ and _surname_. Happily I am
also----"

The host, who did not expect to hear him utter one connected idea, and
who knew from experience how prone men in his situation were to sudden
changes of feeling, wishing to profit by this lucid interval, made
another attempt. "My dear fellow," said he, in a tone of persuasion, "I
have not intended to vex you, nor to pry into your affairs. What would
you have had me do? There is a law, and if we innkeepers do not obey it,
we shall be the first to be punished; therefore it is better to conform.
And after all, as regards yourself, what is it? A hard thing, indeed!
just to say two words. It is not for them, but to do me a favour. Now,
here, between ourselves, tell me your _name_, and then you shall go to
bed in peace."

"Ah, rascal! knave!" cried Renzo, "do you dare to bring up this cursed
_name_ and _surname_ and _business_ again?"

"Hush! you fool! and go to bed," said the host.

But Renzo continued to bellow, "I understand it, you belong to the
league. Wait, wait, till I settle matters for you;" and turning to the
door, he bellowed down the stairs, "Friends! the host is of the----"

"I spoke in jest," cried the host, pushing him towards the bed, "in
jest; did you not perceive I spoke in jest?"

"Ah, in jest; now you talk reasonably. Since you said it in jest--they
are just the thing to make a jest of----." And he fell on the bed.
"Undress yourself quickly," said the host; and adding his assistance to
his advice, the thought occurred to him, to ascertain if there were any
money in Renzo's pockets, as on the morrow it would fall into hands from
which an innkeeper would have but little chance of recovering it; he
therefore hazarded another attempt, saying to Renzo, "You are an honest
youth, are you not?"

"Yes, an honest youth," replied Renzo, still endeavouring to rid himself
of his clothes.

"Well, settle this little account with me now, because to-morrow I am
obliged to leave home on business."

"That's right," said Renzo "I am honest. But the money--we must find the
money----!"

"Here it is," said the host; and calling up all his patience and skill,
he succeeded in obtaining the reckoning.

"Lend me your hand to finish undressing, host," said Renzo; "I begin to
comprehend, do you see, that----I am very sleepy."

The host rendered him the desired service, and covering him with the
quilt, bade him "Good night."

The words were scarcely uttered before poor Renzo snored. The host
stopped to contemplate him a moment by the light of his lantern; "Mad
blockhead!" said he to the poor sleeper, "thou hast accomplished thy own
ruin! dunces, who want to travel over the world, without knowing where
the sun rises, to entangle themselves with affairs they know nothing of,
to their own injury and that of their neighbour!"

So saying, he left the apartment, having locked the door outside, and
calling to his wife, told her to take his place in the kitchen,
"Because," said he, "I must go out for a while, thanks to a stranger who
is here, unhappily for me;" he then briefly related the annoying
circumstance, adding, "And now keep an eye on all, and above all be
prudent. There is below a company of dissolute fellows, who, between
drink and their natural disposition, are very very free of speech.
Enough--if any of them should dare----"

"Oh! I am not a child! I know what I ought to do. It could never be
said----"

"Well, well. Be careful to make them pay. If they talk of the
superintendant of provision, the governor, Ferrer, and the council of
ten, and the gentry, and Spain and France, and other follies, pretend
not to hear them, because, if you contradict them, it may go ill with
you now, and if you argue with them, it may go ill with you hereafter;
and take care, when you hear any dangerous remarks, turn away your
head, and call out 'Coming, sir.' I will endeavour to return as soon as
possible."

So saying, he descended with her into the kitchen, put on his hat and
cloak, and taking a cudgel in his hand, departed. As he walked along the
road, he resumed the thread of his apostrophe to poor Renzo. "Headstrong
mountaineer!"--for that Renzo was such, had been manifest from his
pronunciation, countenance, and manners, although he vainly tried to
conceal it,--"on a day like this, when by dint of skill and prudence I
had kept my hands clean, you must come at the end of it to spoil all I
have done! Are there not inns enough in Milan, that you must come to
mine! at least, if you had been alone, I would have winked at it for
to-night, and made you understand matters to-morrow. But no; my
gentleman must come in company, and, to do the thing better, in company
with an informer."

At this moment he perceived a patrole of soldiers approaching; drawing
on one side to let them pass, and eyeing them askance, he continued,
"There go the fool-punishers. And thou, great booby, because thou saw'st
a few people making a little noise, thou must think the world was turned
upside down; and on this fine foundation thou hast ruined thyself and
would have ruined me; I have done all I could to save thee, now thou
must get thyself out of trouble. As if I wanted to know thy name from
curiosity! What was it to me whether it were Thaddeus or Bartholomew? I
have truly great satisfaction in taking a pen in my hand! I know well
enough that there are proclamations which are disregarded; just as if we
had need of a mountaineer to tell us that! And dost thou not know, thou
fool! what would be done to a poor innkeeper, who should be of thy
opinion (since upon them the proclamation bear hardest), and should not
inform himself of the name of any one who did him the favour to lodge at
his house. _Under penalty of whoever of the above-said hosts, tavern
keepers, and others, of three hundred crowns_,--behold three hundred
crowns hatched; and now to spend them well,--_two thirds to be applied
to the royal chamber, and the other third to the accuser or informer.
And in case of inability, five years in the galleys, and greater
pecuniary and corporal punishments, at the discretion of his
Excellency._ Very much obliged for such favours, indeed!" He ended his
soliloquy, finding himself at his destined point, the palace of the
_Capitano di Giustizia_.

There, as in all the offices of the secretaries, there was a great deal
of business going on; on all sides, persons were employed in issuing
orders to ensure the peace of the following day, to take from rebellion
every pretext, to cool the audacity of those who were desirous of fresh
disorders, and to concentrate power in the hands of those accustomed to
exercise it. The number of the soldiers who protected the house of the
superintendant was increased; the ends of the streets were defended by
large pieces of timber thrown across them; the bakers were ordered to
bake bread without intermission; expresses were sent to all the
surrounding villages, with orders to send corn into the city; and at
every baker's some of the nobility were stationed, to watch over the
distribution, and to restrain the discontented by fair words and the
authority of their presence. But to give, as they said, a blow to the
hoop, and another to the cask, and increase the efficacy of their
caresses by a little awe, they took measures to seize some of the
seditious, and this was the principal duty of the _Capitano di
Giustizia_. His blood-hounds had been in the field since the
commencement of the tumult; and this self-styled Ambrose Fusella was a
police officer in disguise, who, having listened to the famous sermon of
Renzo, concluded him to be fair game. Finding that he had but newly
arrived from his village, he would have conducted him immediately to
prison, as the safest inn in the city; but in this, as we have seen, he
did not succeed. He could, however, carry to the police certain
information of his _name_, _surname_, and _country_, besides many other
conjectures; so that when the host arrived to tell what he knew of
Renzo, their knowledge was already more precise than his. He entered the
accustomed hall, and gave in his deposition, that a stranger had come to
lodge at his house, who would not tell his name.

"You have done your duty in giving us the information," said a notary,
laying down his pen; "but we know it already."

"That is very singular!" thought the host; "you must have a great deal
of cunning."

"And we know also," continued the notary, "this famous name."

"The devil! the name also. How do they know that?" thought the host
again.

"But," resumed the notary, with a serious air, "you do not tell all."

"What is there more to tell?"

"Ah! ah! we know well that this man carried to your house a quantity of
stolen bread--bread acquired by theft and sedition."

"A man comes with bread in his pocket; am I to know where he got it? if
it was on my death-bed, I can say, I only saw him have one loaf."

"Thus it is! you are always excusing and defending yourselves! If we
were to take your word for it, you are all honest people. How can you
prove that this bread was honestly acquired?"

"Why need I prove it? it is nothing to me. I am an innkeeper."

"You cannot, however, deny, that this, your customer, had the audacity
to complain of the proclamations, and make indecent jokes on the arms of
his Excellency."

"Pardon me, signor; how could he be my customer, when I never saw him
before? It was the devil, saving your presence, who sent him to my
house. If I had known him, there would have been no need of asking his
name, as your honour knows."

"However, in your inn, and in your presence, seditious and inflammatory
conversation has been held; your customers have been riotous, clamorous,
and complaining."

"How would your honour expect me to pay attention to the absurdities
uttered by a parcel of brawlers. I attend only to my own affairs, for I
am a poor man. And then your honour knows, that those who are lavish of
their tongue, are often lavish of their fists, especially when there are
many together."

"Yes, yes, they may have their way now; to-morrow--to-morrow, we will
see if the heat is dislodged from their brains. What do you think?"

"I don't know."

"That the mob will become masters in Milan?"

"Certainly!"

"You shall see, you shall see."

"I understand--I know the king will be always the king; but he who has
taken any thing will keep it. Naturally a poor father of a family has no
desire to give back; your honours have the power; that belongs to you."

"Have you still some people at your house?"

"A number."

"And this your customer, what is he about? Is he still labouring to
excite the people to sedition?"

"This stranger, your honour means; he is gone to sleep."

"Then you have a number? Well, be careful not to let them go away."

"Am I to play the constable?" thought the host, but said nothing.

"Return to your house, and be prudent," resumed the notary.

"I have always been prudent. Your honour can say that I have never made
any disturbance."

"Well, well; but do not think that justice has lost its power."

"I! Good heavens! I think nothing. I am an innkeeper."

"The same old tune. Have you nothing more to say?"

"What else would your honour have me say? Truth is one."

"Well; you have done enough for to-day: but to-morrow, we will see; you
must give more full information, and answer all questions that shall be
put to you."

"What information have I to give? I know nothing; I have hardly brains
enough to attend to my own affairs."

"Take care not to let him go away."

"I hope your honour will remember that I have done my duty. Your
honour's humble servant."

On the following morning, Renzo was still in a sound and deep sleep,
when he was suddenly roused by a shaking of the arms, and by a voice at
the foot of the bed, crying, "Lorenzo Tramaglino!" He sat up, and
rubbing his eyes, perceived a man clothed in black standing at the foot
of his bed, and two others, one on each side of the bolster. Between
surprise, sleep, and the fumes of the wine, he remained a moment
stupified, believing himself to be still dreaming.

"Ah! you have heard at last! Lorenzo Tramaglino," said the man in black,
the notary of the preceding evening. "Up, up; get up, and come with us."

"Lorenzo Tramaglino!" said Renzo Tramaglino. "What does this mean? What
do you want with me? Who has told you my name?"

"Few words, and get up quickly," said one of the men at his side,
seizing him by the arm.

"Oh! oh! what violence is this?" cried Renzo, drawing away his arm.
"Host! oh! host!"

"Shall we carry him off in his shirt?" said one of the officers; turning
to the notary.

"Did you hear what he said?" said he to Renzo; "we will do so, if you do
not rise quickly, and come with us!"

"Why?" demanded Renzo.

"You will hear that from the _Capitano di Giustizia_."

"I! I am an honest man; I have done nothing; I am astonished----"

"So much the better for you! so much the better for you! In two words
you will be dismissed, and then go about your affairs."

"Let me go now, then; there is no reason why I should go before the
_capitano_."

"Come, let us finish the business," said an officer.

"We shall be obliged to carry him off!" said the other.

"Lorenzo Tramaglino!" said the notary.

"How does your honour know my name?"

"Do your duty," said he to the men, who attempted to draw Renzo from the
bed.

"Oh! don't touch me! I can dress _myself_."

"Dress yourself, then, and get up," said the notary.

"I will," said Renzo, and he gathered his clothes, scattered here and
there on the bed, like the fragments of a shipwreck on the coast. Whilst
engaged in the act of dressing, he continued, "but I will not go to the
_Capitano di Giustizia_; I have nothing to do with him: since you put
this affront on me, I wish to be conducted to Ferrer; I am acquainted
with him; I know he is an honest man, and he is under obligations to
me."

"Yes, yes, my good fellow, you shall be conducted to Ferrer," replied
the notary.

In other circumstances he would have laughed heartily at the absurdity
of such a proposition, but he felt that this was not a moment for
merriment. On his way to the inn, he had perceived so many people
abroad, such a stirring--some collecting in small quantities, others
gathering in crowds--that he was not able to determine whether they were
the remnants of the old insurrection not entirely suppressed, or the
beginnings of a new one. And now, without appearing to do so, he
listened, and thought the buzzing increased. He felt haste to be of
importance; but he did not dare to take Renzo against his will, lest,
finding himself in the street, he might take advantage of public
sympathy, and endeavour to escape from his hands. He made a sign to his
officers to be patient, and not exasperate the youth; whilst he himself
sought to appease him with fair words.

Renzo meanwhile began to have a confused recollection of the events of
the preceding day, and to comprehend that the _proclamations_, _name_,
and _surname_, were the cause of all this trouble; but how the devil did
this man know his name? And what the devil had happened during the
night, that they should come to lay hands on one, who, the day before,
had such a voice in the assembly, which could not be yet dispersed,
because he also heard a growing murmur in the street. He perceived also
the agitation which the notary vainly endeavoured to conceal; therefore,
to feel his pulse, and clear up his own conjectures, as well as to gain
time, he said, "I comprehend the cause of all this, it is on account of
the _name_ and _surname_. Last night, 'tis true, I was a little merry;
these hosts have such treacherous wine and, you know, often when wine
passes through the channel of speech, it will have its say too. But if
that is all the difficulty, I am ready to give you every satisfaction.
Besides, you know my name already. Who the devil told it to you?"

"Bravo! my good fellow, bravo!" replied the notary in a tone of
encouragement. "I see you are in the right, and you must believe that I
am also. I am only following my trade. You are more tractable than
others. It is the easiest way to get out of the difficulty quickly. With
such an accommodating spirit, you will soon be set at liberty; but my
hands are tied, and I cannot release you now, although I would wish to
do so. Be of good courage, and come on boldly. When they see who you
are--and I will tell--Leave it to me--quick, quick, my good fellow!"

"Ah! you cannot! I understand," said Renzo. "Shall we pass by the square
of the cathedral?"

"Where you choose. We will go the shortest road, that you may be the
sooner at liberty," said he, inwardly cursing his stars at being unable
to follow up this mysterious demand of Renzo's, which might have been
made the subject of a hundred interrogatories. "Miserable that I am!"
thought he, "here is a fellow fallen into my hands, who likes no better
fun than to prate. Were there but a little time, he would confess all in
the way of friendly discourse, without the aid of rope. Ay! and without
perceiving it too. But that he should fall into my hands at such an
unlucky moment.--Well, it can't be helped," thought he, while turning
his head and listening to the noise without, "there is no remedy: this
will be a hotter day than yesterday!"

That which gave rise to this last thought was an extraordinary uproar in
the street, which tempted him to open the window and reconnoitre. There
was a concourse of citizens, who, at the order given them by the patrole
to separate, had resisted for a while, and then moved off, on all sides,
in evident discontent. It was a fatal sign to the eyes of the notary,
that the soldiers treated them with much politeness. He closed the
window, and remained for a moment undecided, whether he should conduct
the enterprise to an end, or, leaving Renzo in the care of the
bailiffs, go himself to the _Capitano di Giustizia_, and relate the
whole difficulty. "But," thought he, "he will tell me I am a poltroon, a
coward, and that it was my business to execute orders. We are at the
ball; we must dance, it seems. Cursed crowd! what a damned business!"
He, however addressed Renzo in a tone of kind entreaty, "Come, my worthy
fellow, do let us be off, and make haste."

Renzo, however, was not without his thoughts. He was almost dressed,
with the exception of his doublet, into the pockets of which he was
fumbling. "Oh!" said he, regarding the notary significantly, "Oh! I had
a letter, and some money here, once, sir!"

"When these formalities are over, all shall be faithfully restored to
you. Come, come, let us be off."

"No, no, no!" said Renzo, shaking his head, "that won't do: I must have
what belongs to me, sir. I will render an account of my actions, but I
must have what belongs to me."

"I will show you that I have confidence in you; here they are. And now
make haste," said the notary, drawing from his bosom the sequestered
goods, and consigning them, with something like a sigh, to Renzo, who
muttered between his teeth, as he put them in his pocket, "You have so
much to do with thieves, that you have learned the trade!"

"If I get you once safe out of the house, you shall pay this with
interest," thought the notary.

As Renzo was putting on his hat, the notary made a sign to the officers,
that one of them should go before, and the other follow the prisoner;
and as they passed through the kitchen, and whilst Renzo was saying,
"And this blessed host, where has he fled?" they seized, one his right
hand, the other the left, and skilfully slipped over his wrists,
hand-fetters, as they were called, which, according to the customs of
the times, consisted of a cord, a little longer than the usual size of
the fist, which had at the two ends two small pieces of wood. The cord
encircled the wrist of the patient; the captor held the pegs in his
hand, so that he could, by twisting them, tighten the cord at will, and
this enabled him, not only to secure the prisoner, but also to torment
him, if restless; and, to ensure this more effectually, the cord was
full of knots.

Renzo struggled and exclaimed, "What treachery is this? to an honest
man!" But the notary, who had fair words prepared for every occasion,
said, "Be patient, they only do their duty. What would you have? It is a
mere ceremony. We cannot treat people as we would wish. If we did not
obey orders, we should be worse off than you. Be patient."

As he spoke, the two operators twisted the pegs; Renzo plunged like a
skittish horse upon the bit, and cried, "Patience, indeed!"

"But, worthy young man," said the notary, "it is the only way to come
off well in these affairs. It is troublesome, I confess, but it will
soon be over; and since I see you so well disposed, I feel an
inclination to serve you, and will give you another piece of advice for
your good, which is, to pass on quietly, looking neither to right nor
left, so as to attract notice. If you do this, no one will pay any
attention to you, and you will preserve your honour. In one hour you
will be at liberty. There are so many other things to be done, that your
business will soon be despatched; and then I will tell them----. You
shall have your liberty, and no one will know you have been in the hands
of the law. And you," pursued he, addressing his followers in a tone of
severity, "do him no harm, because I take him under my protection. You
must do your duty, I know; but remember that this is a worthy and honest
youth, who in a little while will be at liberty, and who has a regard
for his honour. Let nothing appear but that you are three peaceable men,
walking together. You understand me!" and smoothing his brow, and
twisting his face into a gracious smile, he said to Renzo, "A little
prudence,--do as I tell you; do not look about; trust to one who has
your interest at heart! And now let us begone." And the convoy moved
forward.

But of all these fine speeches Renzo believed not a word. He understood
very well the fears that prevailed over the mind of the notary, and his
exhortations only served to confirm him in his purpose to escape; and to
this end to act directly contrary to the advice given him. No one must
conclude from this that the notary was an inexperienced knave. On the
contrary, he was master of his trade, but at the present moment his
spirits were agitated. At another time he would have ridiculed any one
for pursuing the measures he had now himself employed, but his agitation
had deprived him of his accustomed cunning and self-possession. We would
recommend, therefore, to all knaves by trade, to maintain on all
occasions their _sang froid_, or, what is better, never to place
themselves in difficult circumstances.

Renzo, then, hardly found himself in the street, when he began to look
around, and listen eagerly. There was not, however, an extraordinary
concourse of people; and although on the countenance of more than one
passer-by you could read an expression of discontent and sedition, yet
each one pursued his way in quietness.

"Prudence! prudence!" murmured the notary behind him. "Your honour,
young man, your honour."

But when Renzo heard three men, who were approaching, talk of a bakery,
of flour concealed, of justice, he began to make signs to them, and
cough in such a manner, as indicated any thing but a cold. They looked
attentively at the convoy, and stopped; others who had passed by, turned
back, and kept themselves a short distance off.

"Take care; be prudent, my good fellow; do not spoil all; your honour,
your reputation," said the notary in a low voice, but unheeded by Renzo.
The men again twisted the pegs.

"Ah! ah! ah!" cried the prisoner. At this cry the crowd thickened
around; they gathered from all parts of the street. The convoy was
stopped! "He is a wicked fellow," said the notary in a whisper to those
nearest him; "he is a thief taken in the fact. Draw back, and let
justice have its way." But Renzo perceived that the occasion was
favourable: he saw the officers pale and almost dead with fright. "If I
do not help myself now," thought he, "so much the worse for me;" and
raising his voice, he cried, "My friends; they are carrying me off,
because I cried, 'Bread! and justice!' yesterday. I have done nothing;
I am an honest man! Help me, do not abandon me, my friends."

He was answered by a light murmur, which soon changed to an unanimous
cry in his favour. The officers ordered, requested, and entreated those
nearest them to go off, and leave their passage free; but the crowd
continued to press around. The officers, at the sight of the danger,
left their prisoner, and endeavoured to lose themselves in the throng,
for the purpose of escaping without being observed; and the notary
desired heartily to do the same, but found it more difficult on account
of his black cloak. Pale as death, he endeavoured, by twisting his body
to work his way through the crowd. He studied to appear a stranger, who,
passing accidentally, had found himself in the crowd like a bit of straw
in the ice; and finding himself face to face with a man who looked at
him more intently and sternly than the rest, he composed his countenance
to a smile, and asked, "What is this confusion?"

"Oh! you ugly raven!" replied he. "A raven! a raven!" resounded from all
sides. To the cries they added threats, so that, finally, partly with
his own legs, partly with the elbows of others, he succeeded in
obtaining a release from the squabble.



CHAPTER XVI.


"Fly, fly, honest man! Here is a convent, there is a church; this way!
this way!" was shouted to Renzo from every side. The advice was not
necessary; from the moment that he conceived the hope of extricating
himself from the talons of the police, he had determined, if he
succeeded, to depart immediately, not only from the city, but the
dukedom. "Because," thought he, "however they may have procured it, they
have my name on their books; and with name and surname, they will take
me again if they choose to do so." As to an asylum, he was determined
not to have recourse to it, but in the last extremity. "Because,"
thought he, "if I can be a bird of the woods, I will not be a bird of
the cage." He then determined to seek his cousin Bartolo in the
territory of Bergamo, who had often urged him to establish himself
there; but to find the road was the difficulty! In a part of the city
entirely unknown to him, he did not know which gate led to Bergamo; nor
if he had known it, would he have been able to find it. He thought a
moment of asking directions from his liberators, but he had for some
time had strange suspicions with regard to the obliging sword-cutler,
father of four children; so that he did not dare openly declare his
design, lest, amidst the crowd, there might be another of the same
stamp. He determined therefore to hasten from this spot, and ask the way
when he should arrive at a place where there would be nothing to fear
from the curiosity or the character of others. He said to his
liberators, "Thanks, a thousand thanks! friends! may Heaven reward you!"
and quitting the crowd through a passage made for him, he ran down lanes
and narrow streets, without knowing whither.

When he thought himself sufficiently removed from the scene of peril, he
slackened his steps, and began to look around for some countenance which
might inspire him with confidence enough to make his enquiries. But the
enquiry would of itself be suspicious; time pressed; the police,
recovering from their fright, would, without doubt, pursue their
fugitive; the noise of his escape might have reached even there; and in
so great a multitude Renzo might pass many judgments in physiognomy
before he should find one which seemed favourable. After suffering many
to pass whose appearance was unpropitious, he at last summoned courage
to address a man, who seemed in such haste, that Renzo deemed he would
not hesitate to answer his questions, in order to get rid of him. "Will
you be so good, sir, as to tell me through which gate to go to Bergamo?"

"To Bergamo? through the eastern gate. Take this street to the left; you
will come to the square of the cathedral; then----"

"That is enough, sir; I know the way after that; God reward you!" And he
went on hastily by the way pointed out to him, and arrived at the square
of the cathedral. He crossed it, passed by the remains of the
extinguished bonfire, at which he had assisted the day before; the
bake-house of the Crutches half demolished, and still guarded by
soldiers; and finally, reaching the convent of the capuchins, and
looking at the door of the church, he said to himself, sighing, "The
friar gave me good advice yesterday, when he told me it would be best
for me to wait patiently in the church." He stopped a moment, and seeing
that many persons guarded the gate through which he had to pass, he felt
a repugnance to confront them; and hesitated whether it would not be his
wisest plan to seek this asylum and deliver his letter. But he soon
resumed courage, saying, "A bird of the woods as long as I can be. Who
knows me? Certainly the police cannot be waiting for me at all the
gates." He looked around, therefore, and perceiving that no one appeared
to notice him, and, whistling as he went, as if from carelessness, he
approached the gate. A company of custom-house officers, with a
reinforcement of Spanish soldiers, were stationed precisely at its
entrance, to keep out persons from abroad, who might be attracted, by
the noise of the tumult, to rush into the city; their attention was
therefore directed beyond the gate, and Renzo, taking advantage of this,
contrived, with a quiet and demure look, to pass through, as if he were
some peaceful traveller; but his heart beat violently. He pursued a path
on the right, to avoid the high road, and for some distance did not dare
to look behind him.

On! on! he passed hamlets and villages, without asking the name of them;
hoping that, whilst he was removing from Milan, he was approaching
Bergamo. He looked behind him from time to time, while pressing onwards,
and rubbing first one wrist, then the other, which bore the red marks
from the painful pressure of the manacles. His thoughts were a confused
medley of repentance, anxiety, and resentment; and he wearily retraced
the circumstances of the preceding night, to ascertain what had plunged
him into these difficulties, and above all, how they came to know his
name. His suspicions rested on the cutler, whose curiosity he well
remembered, and he had also a confused recollection that after his
departure he had continued to talk, but with whom, his memory did not
serve to inform him. The poor fellow was lost in these speculations; the
past was a chaos.

He then endeavoured to form some plan for the future; but all other
considerations were soon swallowed up in the necessity which he was
under of ascertaining the road; and to do this, he was obliged to
address himself to some one. He was reluctant to name Bergamo, lest it
might excite suspicion: why it should, he knew not; but his mind was a
prey to vague apprehensions of evil. However, he could not do otherwise;
and, as at Milan, he accosted the first passenger whose appearance
promised favourably.

"You are out of the road," replied the traveller; and directed him to a
path by which he might regain the high road. Renzo thanked him, and
followed the direction, with the intention, however, of keeping the high
road in sight, without exposing himself to hazard by travelling on it.
The project was more easily conceived than executed; in pursuing a
zigzag course, from right to left, and left to right, and endeavouring
still to keep the general direction of the way, he had probably
traversed twelve miles, when he was only six miles from Milan; and as to
Bergamo, it was a chance if he was not farther from it, than when he
began his journey. He reflected that this would never do, and he must
seek some other expedient; that which occurred to him, was to inform
himself of the name of some village near the frontier, which he would
reach by crossroads, and asking the way to that, be enabled to avoid the
mention of this dreaded Bergamo, which seemed to him so likely to cause
distrust and suspicion.

Whilst he was reflecting on the best method of pursuing this plan
without awakening conjectures, he saw a green branch hanging from the
door of a lonely cottage, some distance beyond a village; and as he had
for some time felt the need of refreshment, he thought he could now kill
two birds with one stone, and therefore entered the humble dwelling.
There was no one within, but an old woman, with her distaff by her
side, and spindle in her hand. He asked for a mouthful to eat; she
offered him some _stracchino_[27], and some wine. He accepted the food,
but refused the wine; of which he felt an intuitive horror since the
events of the preceding night. The old woman then began to assail her
guest with enquiries of his trade, his journey, and of the news from
Milan, of the disturbances of which she had heard some rumours. To her
question, "Where are you going?" he replied, "I am obliged to go to many
places, but if I find a moment of time, I should like to stop awhile at
the village on the road to Bergamo, near the frontier, but in the
territory of Milan--what do they call it?--There must be some village
there," thought he.

      [27] A kind of soft cheese.

"Gorgonzola, you mean," replied the old woman.

"Gorgonzola," repeated Renzo, as if to fix it in his memory, "is it far
from here?"

"I don't know for certain; perhaps ten or twelve miles. If one of my
children were here, they could tell you."

"And do you think I could reach there by keeping on these pleasant
paths, without taking the high road, where there is so much dust? such a
quantity of dust! It is so long since we have had any rain!"

"I think you can. You can ask at the first village to the
right,"--naming it.

"Thank you," said Renzo, carrying off the remains of his bread, which
was much coarser than what he had lately eaten from the foot of the
Cross of St. Dionysius; and paying the bill, departed. He took the road
to the right, and with the name of Gorgonzola in his mouth, from village
to village, he succeeded in reaching it an hour before sunset.

He had on his way intended to halt here for some more substantial
refreshment; he felt also the need of sleep; but rather than indulge
himself in this, he would have dropped dead on the road. His design was
to inform himself, at the inn, of the distance from the Adda, to
contrive to obtain some direction to the cross paths which led to it,
and after having eaten, to go on his way. Born at the second source of
this river, he had often heard that at a certain point, and for some
distance, its waters marked the confines of the Milanese and Venetian
states. He had no precise idea of the spot where this boundary
commenced, but, at this time, the principal matter was to reach the
river. Provided he could not accomplish it by daylight, he decided to
travel as long as the darkness and his strength would permit, and then
to wait the approach of day in a field, among brambles, or any where,
where it should please God, an inn excepted. After advancing a few steps
in Gorgonzola, he saw a sign, and entering the house, asked the host for
a mouthful to eat, and a half-pint of wine, his horror of which had been
subdued by his excessive fatigue. "I pray you to be in haste," added he,
"for I must continue my journey immediately." And he said this, not only
because it was the truth, but from fear that the host, imagining he was
going to lodge there, might ask him his _name_, _surname_, and _whence
he came_, and _what was his business_!

The host replied that he should have what he requested, and Renzo seated
himself at the end of a bench near the door.

There were in the room some idle people of the neighbourhood, who, after
having discussed the great news from Milan of the preceding day,
wondered how affairs were going on; as the circumstances of the
rebellion had left their curiosity unsatisfied as to its termination; a
sedition neither suppressed nor successful; suspended rather than
terminated; an unfinished work; the end of an act rather than of a
drama. One of them detached himself from the company, and, approaching
the new-comer, asked him, "If he came from Milan?"

"I?" said Renzo, endeavouring to collect his thoughts for a reply.

"You; if the enquiry be lawful."

Renzo, contracting his mouth, made a sort of inarticulate sound, "Milan,
from what I hear--from what they say--is not a place where one would go
now, unless necessity required it."

"The tumult continues, then?" asked he, with eagerness.

"One must have been on the spot, to know if it were so," said Renzo.

"But do you not come from Milan?"

"I come from Liscate," replied the youth, who, in the mean while had
prepared his answer. He had, indeed, come from that place, as he had
passed through it. He had learned its name from a traveller who had
mentioned it, as the first village on his road to Gorgonzola.

"Oh!" said his interrogator, "I wish you had come from Milan. But
patience--and did you hear nothing from Milan at Liscate?"

"It is very possible that others knew something," replied our
mountaineer; "but I have heard nothing."

The inquisitive person rejoined his companions.

"How far is it from this to the Adda?" said Renzo to the host, in a low
careless tone, as he set before him something to eat.

"To the Adda? to cross the river?"

"That is--yes--to the Adda."

"Would you cross the bridge of Cassano, or the ferry of Canonica?"

"Where are they?--I ask simply from curiosity."

"Ah! I name them because they are the places chosen by honest people,
who are willing to give an account of themselves."

"That is right. And how far are they?"

"It must be about six miles."

"Six miles! I did not know that," said he. "But," resuming an air of
indifference, "if one wished to shorten the distance, are there not
other places, where one might cross?"

"Certainly," replied the host, looking at him with an expression of
malignant curiosity, which restrained Renzo from any further enquiry. He
drew the dish towards him, and looking at the decanter the host had put
on the table, said, "Is this wine pure?"

"As gold. Ask all the inhabitants of the village, and hereabouts. But
you can judge yourself." So saying, he joined the other customers.

"Curse the hosts!" said Renzo, in his heart. "The more I know of them,
the worse I find them."

He began to eat, listening at the same time to the conversation, to
learn what was thought, in this place, of the events in which he had
acted so principal a part; and also to discover if there were not some
honest man among the company, of whom a poor youth might ask his way
without fear of being compelled in return to tell his business.

"But," said one, "to-morrow, at the latest, we shall know something from
Milan."

"I am sorry I did not go to Milan this morning," said another.

"If you will go to-morrow, I will go with you," said two or three.

"That which I wish to know," replied the first speaker, "is, if these
gentlemen of Milan will think of poor people abroad, or if they will
only think of obtaining advantages for themselves. You know how they
are. The citizens are proud--they think only of themselves; the
villagers are treated as if they were not Christians."

"We have mouths also, to eat, and to give our reasons," said another in
a voice as timid as the remark was daring, "and since the thing has
begun----" But he did not think to finish his sentence.

"It is not only in Milan, that they conceal grain," said another, with a
mysterious air--when suddenly they heard approaching the trampling of a
horse. They ran to the door, and recognising the person who arrived,
they went out to receive him. It was a merchant of Milan, who, going
frequently to Bergamo on business, was accustomed to pass the night at
this inn, and as he had almost always found there the same company, he
had formed an acquaintance with all of them. They crowded around
him--one held the bridle, another the stirrup. "You are welcome."

"And I am glad to find you all here."

"Have you made a good journey?"

"Very good. And you all, how do you do?"

"Well, well. What news from Milan?"

"Ah! there is great news truly," said the merchant, dismounting, and
leaving his horse in the care of a boy. "But," continued he, entering
the house with the company, "perhaps you know by this time better than I
do."

"Truly, we know nothing."

"Is it possible?--Well, you will hear fine news, or rather bad news. Eh!
host! is my bed unoccupied? It is well. A glass of wine, and my usual
dish. Quick, quick! because I must go to bed early, in order to rise
early, as I must be at Bergamo to dinner. And you," pursued he, seating
himself at the table opposite to Renzo, who continued silent and
attentive, "you know nothing of the mischief of yesterday!"

"We heard about yesterday."

"I knew that you must have heard it, being here always on guard to watch
travellers."

"But to-day? What has been done to-day?"

"Ah! to-day! Then you know nothing of to-day?"

"Nothing at all. No one has passed."

"Then let me wet my lips, and I will tell you what has happened to-day."
He filled the glass, swallowed its contents, and continued: "To-day, my
dear friends, little was wanting to make the tumult worse than
yesterday. And I can hardly believe that I am here to tell you, for I
had nearly given up all thoughts of coming, that I might stay to guard
my shop."

"What was the matter, then?" said one of his auditors.

"What was the matter? I will tell you." And beginning to eat, he at the
same time pursued his relation; the company standing on his right and
left, listened with open mouths and ears. Renzo, without appearing to
hear him, was, in fact, the most attentive of all; and ate his last
mouthful very, very slowly. "This morning, then, those vagabonds who
made such a hurly-burly yesterday, met at the points agreed on, and
began to run from street to street, sending forth cries in order to
collect a crowd. You know it is with such people, as when one sweeps a
house; the more you sweep, the more dirt you have. When they thought
there were people enough, they approached the house of the
superintendant of provision, as if the atrocities they committed
yesterday were not enough, to a gentleman of his character. Oh! the
rascals! And the abuse they bestowed on him! All invention and
falsehood: he is a worthy punctual man; I can say it, for I know; and I
furnish him cloth for his liveries. They hurried then towards his
house--such a mob! such faces! They passed before my shop. Such
faces--the Jews of the _Via Crucis_ are nothing to them. And the
blasphemies they uttered! enough to make one stop one's ears, had it not
been for fear of observation. Their intention was to plunder, but----"

"But?" said they all.

"But they found the street barricadoed, and a company of musketeers on
guard. When they saw this ceremony--what would you have done?"

"Turn back."

"Certainly; and that is precisely what they did. But see if the devil
did not carry them there. When they came on the Cordusio, they saw the
baker that they had wanted to plunder the day before; and what do you
think they were doing at this baker's? They were distributing bread to
purchasers; the first gentlemen of the land were there, watching over
its distribution. The mob, instigated by the devil, rushed upon them
furiously, and, in the twinkling of an eye, gentlemen, bakers,
purchasers, bread, counters, benches, loaves, bags, flour, all
topsy-turvy."

"And the musketeers?"

"The musketeers had the vicar's house to guard. One can't sing and carry
the cross too. It was done in the twinkling of an eye, I say. Plunder,
plunder; every thing was carried off. And then they proposed the
amusement of yesterday, to burn what remained, in the square, and make a
bonfire. And immediately they began, the rascals! to drag every thing
out of the house, when one among them----Guess what fine proposal he
made!"

"What?"

"What! to gather every thing in the shop in a heap, and set fire to it
and the shop at the same time. No sooner said than done----"

"Did they set fire to it?"

"Wait a bit. An honest man in the neighbourhood had an inspiration from
Heaven. He ran into the house, ascended the stairs, took a crucifix, and
hung it in front of a window; took from the head of the bed two wax
candles which had been blessed, lit them, and placed them right and left
of the crucifix. The crowd looked up; there is a little fear of God yet,
in Milan, it must be confessed; the crowd retired--a few would have been
sacrilegious enough to set fire to paradise itself; but seeing the rest
not of their opinion, they were obliged to be quiet. Guess what happened
then! All the lords of the cathedral in procession, with the cross
elevated, and in pontifical robes; and my lord the arch-priest began to
preach on one side, and my lord the _penitenziere_ on the other, and
then others here and there: '_But, honest people, what would you do? Is
this the example you set to your children? Return to your homes; you
shall have bread at a fair price; you can see, yourselves, the rate is
affixed at every corner!_'"

"Was it true?"

"Can you doubt it? Do you think the lords of the cathedral would come in
their robes and declare falsehoods?"

"And what did the people do?"

"By little and little they dispersed; they ran to the corners of the
streets; the rate was there for those who knew how to read. Eight ounces
of bread for a penny!"

"What good fortune."

"The vine is fine, if its fruitfulness continues. Do you know how much
flour has been consumed since yesterday? As much as would supply the
dukedom two months."

"And have they made no good law for us country people?"

"What they have done at Milan is for the city alone. I know not what to
tell you; for you, it must be as God shall direct. The tumult has
entirely ceased for the present; I have not told you all yet. Here is
the best----"

"What! is there any thing more?"

"Yesterday evening, or this morning, they have arrested some of the
leaders, and they have been told that four will be hung. Hardly was this
known, when every one betook himself home by the shortest road, so as
not to be the fifth. Milan, when I left it, resembled a convent of
monks."

"But will they really hang them?"

"Undoubtedly, and very soon," replied the merchant.

"And what will the people do?"

"The people will go to see them," said the merchant. "They desired so
much to see a man hung, that the rascals were about to satisfy their
curiosity on the superintendent of provision. They will see instead,
four rogues, accompanied by capuchins and friars of the _buona
morte_[28]; well, they have richly deserved it. It is a providence, you
see; it was a necessary thing. They had begun to enter the shops, and
take what they wanted, without putting their hand to their purse. If
they had been suffered to go on their own way, after bread, it would
have been wine, and then something else--and I assure you, as an honest
man, keeping a shop, it was not a very agreeable idea."

      [28] Good death. A confraternity which exists under
      the same name in the south of France.

"Assuredly not," said one of his auditors.

"Assuredly not," repeated the others in chorus.

"And," continued the merchant, "it had been in preparation a long while.
There was a league, you know?"

"A league!"

"A league. Cabals instigated by the Navarrese, by that cardinal of
France, you know, who has a half-barbarous name, and who every day
offers some new affront to the crown of Spain. But he aims chiefly at
Milan, because he knows, the knave, that the strength of the king lies
there."

"Indeed!"

"Would you have a proof of it? Those who made the most noise were
strangers; people who were never seen before in Milan. I have forgotten,
after all, to tell you something I heard; one of these had been caught
in an inn----"

When this chord was touched, poor Renzo felt a cold shiver, and could
with difficulty conceal his agitation. No one however perceived it, and
the orator proceeded:--

"They do not yet know whence he came, by whom he was sent, nor what kind
of man he was; but he was certainly one of the leaders. Yesterday, in
the height of the tumult, he played the devil; then, not content with
that, he began to exhort, and propose a fine thing truly! to murder all
the lords! Rascal! how would poor people live, if the lords were killed?
He was taken, however, and they found on him an enormous packet of
letters, after which they were taking him to prison. But what do you
think? his companions, who were keeping watch round the inn, came in
great force, and delivered him. The rogue!"

"And what has become of him?"

"It is not known. He has escaped, or is concealed in Milan. These people
find lodging and concealment any where, although they have neither house
nor home of their own. The devil helps them; but they are sometimes
taken in the snare, when they least expect it. When the pear is ripe, it
must fall. It is well known that these letters are in the hands of
government, that they contain an account of the whole plot, that many
people are implicated, that they have turned the city upside down, and
would have done much worse. Some say the bakers are rogues, and so say
I: but they ought to be hanged at least in a legal manner. There
certainly is corn concealed; and the government ought to have spies and
find it out, and hang up all that keep it back in company with the
bakers; and if they don't, all the city ought to remonstrate again and
again, but never allow the villainous practice of entering shops and
warehouses for plunder."

The little that Renzo had eaten had become poison. It appeared like an
age before he dared rise to quit. He felt nailed to the spot. To have
moved from the inn and the village, in the midst of the conversation,
would have incurred suspicion. He determined to wait till the babbler
should cease to speak of him and apply to some other subject.

"And I," said one of the company, "who have some experience, know that a
tumult like this is no place for an honest man; therefore I have not
suffered my curiosity to conquer me, and have remained quietly at home."

"And did I move?" said another.

"And I," added a third, "if by any chance I had been at Milan, I would
have left my business unfinished, and returned home."

At this moment the host approached the corner of the table, to see how
the stranger came on. Renzo gathered courage to speak, asked for his
bill, settled it, and rapidly crossed the threshold, trusting himself to
the guardian care of a kind Providence.



CHAPTER XVII.


The discourse of the merchant had plunged our poor Renzo into
inexpressible agitation and alarm; there was no doubt that his adventure
was noised abroad--that people were in search of him? Who could tell how
many bailiffs were in pursuit of him? Who could tell what orders had
been given to watch at the villages, inns, and along the roads? True it
was, that two only of the officers were acquainted with his person, and
he didn't bear his name stamped on his forehead. Yet he had heard
strange stories of fugitives being discovered by their suspicious air,
or some unexpected mark; in short, he was alarmed at every shadow.

Although at the moment he quitted Gorgonzola, the bells struck the _Ave
Maria_, and the increasing darkness diminished his danger, he
unwillingly took the high road, with the intention, however, of entering
the first path which should appear to him to lead in the right
direction. He met some travellers, but, his imagination filled with
apprehensions, he dared not interrogate them. "The host called it six
miles," said he; "if, in travelling through by-paths, I make it eight or
ten, these good limbs will not fail me, I know. I am certainly not going
towards Milan, and must therefore be approaching the Adda. If I keep
on, sooner or later I must arrive there; the Adda has a voice
sufficiently loud to be heard at some distance, and when I hear it,
there will be no longer any need of direction. If there is a boat there,
I shall cross immediately; if not, I will wait until morning in a field,
upon the ground, like the sparrows, which will be far better than a
prison."

He saw a cross-road open to the left, and he pursued it: "_I_ play the
devil!" continued he, "_I_ assassinate the lords! A packet of letters!
My companions keeping watch! I would give something to meet this
merchant face to face, on the other side of the Adda; (Oh! when shall I
reach the beautiful stream?) I would ask him politely where he picked up
that fine story. Know, my good sir, that, devil as I am, it was I who
aided Ferrer, and like a good Christian saved your superintendent of
provisions from a rough joke that those ruffians, my friends, were about
to play on him. Ay, while you were keeping watch over your shop----and
that enormous packet of letters--in the hands of the government. See,
sir, here it is; a single letter, written by a worthy man, a monk; a
hair of whose beard is worth----but in future learn to speak with more
charity of your neighbours." However, after a while, these thoughts of
the poor traveller gave way to more urgent considerations of his present
difficulties; he no longer feared pursuit or discovery; but darkness,
solitude, and fatigue combined to distress him and retard his progress.
A chill north wind penetrated his light clothing, his wedding suit; and,
uncomfortable and disheartened, he wandered on, in hopes of finding some
place where he might obtain concealment and repose for the night.

He passed through villages, but did not dare ask shelter; the dogs
howled at his approach, and induced him to quicken his steps. At single
houses near the road-side his fatigue tempted him to knock for shelter;
but the apprehension of being saluted with the cry of "Help, thieves!
robbers!" banished the idea from his mind. Leaving the cultivated
country, he found himself in a plain, covered with fern and broom; and
thinking this a favourable symptom of the near vicinity of the river, he
followed the path across it. When he had advanced a few steps, he
listened, but in vain. The desolation of the place increased the
depression of his spirits. Strange forms and apparitions, the birth of
former tales and legends, began to haunt his imagination; and to drive
them away he began to chant the prayers for the dead. He passed through
a thicket of plum-trees and oaks, and found himself on the borders of a
wood; he conquered his repugnance to enter it, but as he proceeded into
its depths, every object excited his apprehensions. Strange forms
appeared beneath the bushes; and the shade of the trees, trembling on
his moon-lit path, with the crackling of the dead leaves between his
footsteps, inspired him with dread. He would have hastened through the
perilous passage, but his limbs refused their office; the wind blew cold
and sharp, and penetrating his weakened frame, almost subdued its small
remains of vigour. His senses, affected by undefined horrors, appeared
to be leaving him; aroused to his danger, he made a violent effort to
regain some degree of resolution, in order to return through the wood,
and seek shelter in the last village he had passed through, even if it
should be in an inn! As he stopped for a moment, before putting his
design in execution, the wind brought a new sound to his ear--the murmur
of running water. Intently listening, to ascertain if his senses did not
deceive him, he cried out, "It is the Adda!" His fatigue vanished, his
pulse returned, his blood flowed freely through his veins, his fears
disappeared; and guided by the friendly sound, he went forward. He soon
reached the extremity of the plain, and found himself on the edge of a
steep precipice, whence looking downward, he discovered, through the
bushes, the long-desired river, and, on the other side of it, villages
scattered here and there, with hills in the distance; and on the summit
of one of these a whitish spot, which in the dimness he took to be a
city; Bergamo certainly! He descended the declivity, and throwing aside
the bushes with his hands, looked beyond them, to spy if some friendly
bark were moving on the flood, or if he could not, by listening, hear
the sound of oars cleaving the water; but he saw, he heard nothing. If
it had been any stream less than the Adda, he would have attempted to
ford it, but this he well knew to be impracticable.

He was uncertain what plan to pursue: to lie down on the grass for the
next six hours, and wait until morning, exposed to the north wind and
the damps of the night; or to continue walking to and fro, to protect
himself from the cold, until the day should dawn: neither of these held
out much prospect of comfort. He suddenly recollected to have seen, in a
neighbouring part of the uncultivated heath, a _cascinotto_;--this was
the name given by the peasants of the Milanese to cabins covered with
straw, constructed with the trunks and branches of trees, and the
crevices filled with mud, where they were in the habit of placing the
crop, gathered during the day, until a more convenient opportunity for
removing it; they were therefore abandoned except at such seasons. Renzo
found his way thither, pushed open the door, and perceiving a bundle of
straw on the ground, thought that sleep, even in such a place, would be
very welcome. Before, however, throwing himself on the bed Providence
had provided for him, he kneeled, and returned thanks for the blessing,
and for all the assistance which had been this day afforded him, and
then implored forgiveness for the errors of the previous day; then
gathering the straw around him as some defence against the cold, he
closed his eyes to sleep; but sleep was not so soon to visit our poor
traveller. Confused images began to throng his fancy; the merchant, the
notary, the bailiffs, the cutler, the host, Ferrer, the superintendent,
the company at the inn, the crowds in the streets, assailed his
imagination by turns; then came the thought of Don Abbondio, Roderick,
Lucy, Agnes, and the good friar. He remembered the paternal counsels of
the latter, and reflected with shame and remorse on his neglect of them;
and what bitter retrospection did the image of Lucy produce! and Agnes!
poor Agnes! how ill had she been repaid for her motherly solicitude on
his behalf! an outcast from her home, solitary, uncertain of the future,
reaping misery from what seemed to promise the happiness of her
declining years! Poor Renzo! what a night didst thou pass! what an
apartment! what a bed for a matrimonial couch! tormented, too, with
apprehensions of the future! "I submit to the will of God," said he,
speaking aloud, "to the will of God! He does only that which is right; I
accept it all as a just chastisement for my sins. Lucy, however, is so
good! the Lord will not long afflict her with suffering."

In the mean time he despaired of obtaining any repose; the cold was
insupportable; his teeth chattered; he ardently wished for day, and
measured with impatience the slow progress of the hours; this he was
enabled to do, as he heard, every half hour, in the deep silence, the
heavy sound of some distant clock, probably that of Trezzo. When the
time arrived which he had fixed on for his departure, half benumbed with
exposure to the night air, he stretched his stiffened limbs, and opening
the door of the _cascinotto_, looked out, to ascertain if any one were
near, and finding all silent around, he resumed his journey along the
path he had quitted.

The sky announced a beautiful day; the setting moon shone pale in an
immense field of azure, which, towards the east, mingled itself lightly
with the rosy dawn. Near the horizon were scattered clouds of various
hues and forms; it was, in fact, the sky of Lombardy, beautiful,
brilliant, and calm. If Renzo had had a mind at ease, he would no doubt
have stopped to contemplate this splendid ushering in of day, so
different from that which he had been accustomed to witness amidst his
mountains; but his thoughts were otherwise occupied. He reached the brow
of the precipice where he had stood the preceding night, and looking
below, perceived, through the bushes, a fisherman's bark, which was
slowly stemming the current, near the shore. He descended the precipice,
and standing on the bank, made a sign to the fisherman to approach. He
intended to do this with a careless air, as if it were of little
importance, but in spite of himself, his manner was half supplicatory.
The fisherman, after having for a moment surveyed the course of the
water, as if to ascertain the practicability of reaching the shore,
directed the boat towards it; before it touched the bank, Renzo, who was
standing on the water's edge, awaiting its approach, seized the prow,
and jumped into it.

"Do me a service, and I will pay you for it," said he; "I wish to cross
to the other shore."

The fisherman having divined his object, had already turned his boat in
that direction. Renzo, perceiving another oar in the bottom of the bark,
stooped to take it.

"Softly, softly," said the fisherman. But seeing with what skill the
young man managed the oar, "Ah! ah!" added he, "you know the trade."

"A very little," replied Renzo, and he continued to row with a vigour
and skill beyond that of a mere amateur in the art. With all his
efforts, however, the bark moved slowly; the current, setting strong
against it, drove it continually from the line of its direction, and
impeded the rapidity of its course. New perplexities presented
themselves to the mind of Renzo; now that the Adda was almost passed, he
began to fear that it might not, at this place, serve for the boundary
between the states, and that, this obstacle surmounted, there would yet
be others remaining. He spoke to the fisherman, and pointing to the
white spot he had noticed the night before, and which was now much more
distinct, "Is that Bergamo?" said he.

"The city of Bergamo," replied the fisherman.

"And the other shore, does it belong to Bergamo?"

"It is the territory of St. Mark."

"Long live St. Mark!" cried Renzo. The fisherman made no reply.

The boat reached the shore, at last; Renzo thanked God in his heart, as
he stepped upon it; and turning to the fisherman took from his pocket a
_berlinga_ and gave it to him. The man took it in silence, and with a
significant look, placed his forefinger on his lip; and saying, "A good
journey to you," returned to his employment.

In order to account for the prompt and discreet civility of this man
towards a perfect stranger, we must inform the reader, that he was
accustomed to render similar favours to smugglers and outlaws, not so
much for the sake of the little gain which accrued to him thereby, as
not to create enemies among these classes of people. He rendered these
services, therefore, when he was sure of not being seen by the
custom-house officers, bailiffs, or spies. Thus he endeavoured to act
with an impartiality, which should give offence to neither party.

Renzo stopped a moment to contemplate the shore he had quitted, and
where he had suffered so much; "I am at last safely beyond it," was his
first thought; then the remembrance of those he had left behind rushed
over his mind, overwhelming it with regret and shame; for, with the calm
and virtuous image of Lucy, came the recollection of his extravagances
in Milan.

He shook off, however, these oppressive thoughts, and went on, taking
the direction of the whitish mass on the declivity of the mountain,
until he should meet some one who could direct him on his way. And now
with what a different and careless air he accosted travellers! he
hesitated no more, he pronounced boldly the name of the place where his
cousin lived, to ask the way to it; from the information given him by
the first traveller he met, he found that he had still nine miles to
travel.

His journey was not agreeable. Without referring to his own causes of
trouble, Renzo was affected every moment by the sight of painful and
distressing objects; so that he foresaw, that he should find in this
country the poverty he had left in his own. All along the way he was
assailed by mendicants,--mendicants of necessity, not of
choice,--peasants, mountaineers, tradesmen, whole families reduced to
poverty, and to the necessity of begging their bread. This sight,
besides the compassion it excited, made him naturally recur to his own
prospects.

"Who knows," thought he, mournfully, "if I shall find work to do?
perhaps things are not as they were in preceding years. Bartolo wishes
me well, I know; he is a good fellow; he has made money; he has invited
me many times to come to him; I am sure he will not abandon me. And then
Providence has aided me until now; and will continue to do so."

Meanwhile, the walk had sharpened his appetite; he could indeed have
well waited to the end of his journey, which was only two miles farther,
but he did not like to make his first appearance before his cousin as a
hungry beggar; he therefore drew all his wealth from his pocket, and
counting it on the palm of his hand, found that he had more than
sufficient to procure a slight repast; after paying for which, he would
still have a few pence remaining.

As he came out of the inn at which he had rested, to proceed on his
journey, he saw, lying near the door, two women: the one was elderly,
and the other more youthful, with an infant in her arms, which was in
vain seeking sustenance from its exhausted mother; both were of the
complexion of death: by them stood a man, whose countenance and limbs
gave signs of former vigour; now lost from long inanition. All three
stretched forth their hands, but spoke not--what prayer could be so
moving as their appearance. Renzo sighed; "There is a Providence," said
he, as he placed in the nearest hand the last remnant of his wealth.

The slight repast he had made, and the good deed he had performed (for
we are composed of body and soul), had equally tended to refresh and
invigorate him. If, to afford relief to these unhappy persons,
Providence had kept in reserve the last farthing of a fugitive stranger,
would he leave the wants of that stranger unsupplied? He looked with
renewed hope to the future; he pictured to himself the return of
abundant harvests, and in the mean time he had his cousin Bartolo and
his own industry to depend on, and moreover he had left at home a small
sum of money, the fruit of his economy, which he could send for, if
needed. "Then," said he, "plenty will eventually return, and trade will
be profitable again; the Milanese workmen will be in demand, and can set
a high price on their labour; I shall have more than enough to satisfy
my wants, and can lay by money, and can furnish my nice house, and then
write to Agnes and Lucy to come--and then--But why wait for this? We
should have been obliged to live, had we remained at home; we should
have been obliged to live during this winter, upon my little savings,
and we can do the same here. There are curates every where, and they can
come shortly. Oh! what joy will it be to walk together on this same
road; to go to the borders of the Adda, where I will point out to them
the place where I embarked, the woods through which I passed, the spot
where I stood watching for a boat."

He reached at last the village of his cousin; at its entrance, he saw a
very high house, with numerous windows, and perceived it to be a silk
manufactory; he entered, and amidst the noise of the water and
machinery loudly demanded, "if Bartolo Castagneri was within?"

"Signor Bartolo? there he is."

"Signor! that's a good sign," thought Renzo. He perceived his cousin,
and ran towards him, exclaiming, "I am come at last!" Bartolo made an
exclamation of surprise, and embraced him; he then took him into another
chamber, apart from the noise of the machinery and the notice of the
inquisitive, and said, "I am glad to see you, but you are a droll
fellow. I have invited you many times to come hither; you have always
refused, and now choose a most unfavourable moment."

"What shall I say to you? I have not now come of my own free will," said
Renzo; and he briefly, and with much emotion, related the mournful
story.

"That's another affair truly," said Bartolo. "Poor Renzo! you have
relied on me, and I will not abandon you. To say truth, workmen are not
in much demand at present; and it is with difficulty that those already
engaged are kept by their employers. But my master regards me, and he
has money; and besides, without boasting, we are equally dependent on
each other--he has the capital, and I the skill, such as it is! I am his
first workman, his _factotum_! Poor Lucy Mondella! I remember her as if
it was but yesterday that I last saw her! An excellent girl! always so
modest at church; and if you passed by her cottage--I see it now, the
little cottage beyond the village, with a large fig-tree against the
wall----"

"No, no," said Renzo, "do not speak of it."

"I meant to say, that if you passed it, you always heard the noise of
her reel. And Don Roderick! even before I left, showed symptoms of his
character; but now, it seems, he plays the devil outright, until God
shall put a bridle on his neck. Well, as I said, we suffer here also the
consequences of scarce harvests.--But, apropos, are you not hungry?"

"It is not long since I have eaten," said Renzo.

"And how are you off for money?" Renzo extended the palm of his hand and
shook his head. "No matter," said Bartolo: "I have plenty. Cheer up;
things will change for the better soon, and then you can repay me."

"I have a small sum at home, and I will send for it."

"Well, in the mean while, depend on me. God has given me wealth to spend
for others, and above all, for my relations and friends."

"I knew that you would befriend me," said Renzo, affectionately pressing
his cousin's hand.

"Well, what a fuss they have made at Milan," continued Bartolo; "the
people seem to me to be mad. The report has reached us, but I shall be
glad to know the particulars from you. I think we shall have enough to
talk about, shall we not? Here, however, things are conducted with more
judgment. The city purchased two thousand loads of corn from a merchant
of Venice; the corn comes from Turkey. Now, what do you think happened?
The governors of Verona and Brescia forbade the transit of the corn.
What did the people of Bergamo do then, do you think? They sent to
Venice a man that knew how to talk, I can tell you: he went to the doge,
and made a speech which they say deserves to be printed! Immediately an
order was sent to let the corn pass: the governors were obliged to obey.
The country, too, has been thought of. Another good man informed the
senate that the people here were famishing, and the senate granted us
four thousand bushels of millet, which makes very good bread. And then,
if there is no bread, you and I can eat meat; God has given me wealth I
tell you. Now I will conduct you to my patron. I have often spoken of
you to him; he will make you welcome. He is a native of Bergamo, a man
of an excellent disposition. 'Tis true, he did not expect you at this
time, but when he learns your story--And then he knows how to value
skilful workmen, because scarcity lasts but a little while, and business
must finally go on.--But I must hint to you one thing; do you know what
name they give to us Milanese in this country?"

"What name they give us?"

"They call us simpletons."[29]

      [29] Baggiani.

"That is certainly not a very agreeable name."

"What matters it? Whoever is born in the territory of Milan, and would
gain his living in that of Bergamo, must put up with it. As to the
people here, they call a Milanese a simpleton as freely as they call a
gentleman _sir_."

"They say so, I suppose, to those who will suffer it."

"My good fellow, if you are not disposed to submit to be called
simpleton, till it becomes familiar to your taste, you must not expect
to live in Bergamo. You would always be obliged to carry your knife in
hand; and when you had killed three or four, you might be killed
yourself, and have to appear before the bar of God with three or four
murders to answer for?"

"And a Milanese who understands his trade?"

"It is all the same; he would still be a simpleton. Do you know how my
master expresses himself when he talks of me to his friends? _Heaven has
sent me this simpleton to carry on my business. If it were not for this
simpleton I should never get on._ It is the custom."

"It is a silly custom, to say the least of it; and especially as it is
we who have brought the art hither, and who carry it on. Is it possible
that there is no remedy?"

"None. Time may accomplish it. The next generation may be different, but
at present we must submit. And after all, what is it?"

"Why, if there is no other evil----"

"Ah! now that you are convinced, all will be well. Let us go to my
master. Be of good courage."

In fact, the promises of Bartolo were realised, and all _was_ well. It
was truly a kind Providence; for we shall see how little dependence
Renzo could place on the treasure he had left at home,--the savings of
his labour.



CHAPTER XVIII.


On this same day, the 13th of November, there arrived a courier
extraordinary to the signor _podestà_ of Lecco. The courier brought an
express from the head of the police, containing an order to make every
possible search for a young man of the name of Lorenzo Tramaglino, silk
weaver, who, having escaped from the hands "_of the illustrious head
above cited_," had probably returned to the territory of Lecco. That, in
case of his discovery, he should be committed to prison, and an account
rendered to the police of his wicked practices, his ostensible means of
procuring subsistence, and his accomplices. And furthermore, that an
execution should be put into the house of the above-said Lorenzo
Tramaglino, and every thing taken from thence that might aid in throwing
light on his nefarious deeds.

The signor podestà, after ascertaining as well as he could, that Renzo
had not returned to the village, took with him the constable of the
place, and obeyed these injunctions, accompanied by a large escort of
notary, constable, and officers. The key of the house was not to be
found; the door was accordingly forced. The report of this transaction
spread around, and soon reached the ears of Father Christopher. The good
man was surprised and afflicted; and not being able to gain satisfactory
information with regard to Renzo, he wrote to the Father Bonaventura for
intelligence concerning him. In the mean while the relations and friends
of Renzo were summoned to give in their testimony, with regard to his
depravity of character. To bear the name of Tramaglino became a
disgrace; the village was all in commotion. By little and little, it was
understood that Renzo had escaped from the hands of justice, even in the
heart of Milan, and had disappeared: it was whispered that he had
committed some enormous crime, the nature of which remained unknown.
The more enormous, however, the less it was believed, for Renzo was
known by every body to be a worthy youth; the greatest number thought,
therefore, that it was a machination of Don Roderick to ruin his poor
rival. Thus it is true, that judging from inference, and without the
indispensable knowledge of facts, we often wrongfully suspect even the
wicked.

But we, who have the facts in our hands, can affirm, that if Don
Roderick had no share in creating these misfortunes, he rejoiced in them
as if they had been his own work; and made them a subject of merriment
with his friends, and above all with Count Attilio, who had been
deterred from prosecuting his intended journey to Milan by the account
received of the disturbances there: but this order from the police gave
him to understand that things had resumed their usual course. He then
determined to depart immediately, and, exhorting his cousin to persist
in his undertaking, and to surmount every obstacle, he promised to use
his efforts to rid him of the friar. Attilio had hardly taken his
departure, when Griso arrived, safe and sound, from Monza, and gave in
his report to his master of all he had been able to collect. He told him
that Lucy had been taken into the convent under the protection of the
signora; that she lived there as secluded as if she were a nun, never
putting her foot without the walls; that she assisted at the ceremonies
of the church behind a grated window; and that it was impossible to
obtain a view of her.

This relation put the devil into Roderick, or rather rendered the one
more uncontrollable that sojourned there already. So many favourable
circumstances concurring to forward his designs, inflamed the medley of
spleen, rage, and infamous desire, which he dignified by the name of
love. Renzo absent, expelled, banished, every measure against him became
lawful; his betrothed herself might be considered in some sort as the
property of a rebel. The only man who could and would take her under his
protection, the friar, would soon be deprived of the power to do so;
but, amidst so many unlooked-for facilities, one obstacle appeared to
render them unavailable. A monastery of Monza, even if there were no
_signora_ there, was an obstacle not to be surmounted even by Don
Roderick. He in vain wandered, in his imagination, around this asylum,
not being able to devise any means of violating it, either by force or
intrigue. He was upon the point of renouncing the enterprise, of going
to Milan, of mixing in its pleasures, and thus drowning all remembrance
of Lucy; but, in place of relief, would he not find there fresh food for
vexation? Attilio had certainly told the story, and every one would ask
him about the mountain girl! What reply would he be obliged to give? He
had been outwitted by a capuchin and a clown; and, moreover, when a
happy unexpected chance had rid him of the one, and a skilful friend
removed the other, then he, like a simpleton, abandoned the undertaking!
There was enough in this to prevent his ever lifting up his head in the
society of his equals; or else to compel him to go among them sword in
hand! And on the other hand, how could he return and remain in this
spot, where he would be tormented by the remembrance of his passion, and
the disgrace of its failure. How resolve? What do? Shall he go forward?
Shall he draw back? A means presented itself to his mind, by which his
enterprise might succeed. This was to call to his aid the assistance of
a man whose power could accomplish whatever he thought fit to undertake,
and for whom the difficulty of an enterprise would be only an additional
motive for engaging in it. But this project had nevertheless its
inconveniences and dangers, the consequences of which it was impossible
to calculate. No one could foresee the termination of an affair, when
they had once embarked in it with this man; a powerful auxiliary,
assuredly, but a guide not less absolute than dangerous. Such
reflections kept Don Roderick many days in a state of painful
irresolution: he received, in the meanwhile, a letter from his cousin,
informing him that the intrigue was prospering. After the lightning came
the thunder. One fine morning he heard that Father Christopher had left
the convent of Pescarenico! Such complete and prompt success, and the
letter of Attilio, who encouraged him by his advice and vexed him by his
jokes, inclined him to hazard every thing; and what above all confirmed
him in his intention, was the unexpected intelligence that Agnes had
returned to the village, and was at her own house! We will relate these
two events for the information of the reader.

Lucy and her mother had hardly entered their asylum, when the news of
the terrible insurrection at Milan spread through Monza, and even
penetrated the walls of the convent. The accounts were various and
contradictory.

The portress, who from necessity went much abroad, heard all the news,
and related them to her guests. "They have put several in prison," said
she; "some were taken before the bakers of the Crutches, others in front
of the house inhabited by the superintendant of provision----But listen
to this; there was one who escaped, who was from Lecco, or thereabouts.
I don't know his name, but I will ascertain it from some one; perhaps
you may know him."

This intelligence, joined to the circumstance that Renzo must have
arrived in Milan precisely on this fatal day, gave some uneasiness to
Lucy and her mother; judge what must have been their feelings, when the
portress came again to tell them, "He that fled to avoid hanging is from
your village, a silk weaver, one Tramaglino. Do you know him?"

Lucy was seated, busy at her work; it fell from her hands; she turned
pale, and her emotion must certainly have attracted the attention of the
portress, had she not been too eagerly engaged in delivering her report
to Agnes, who was standing by the door at some distance from the poor
girl. Agnes, notwithstanding she was much agitated, avoided any
exhibition of her feelings. She made an effort to reply, that in a small
village every one was known, but she could hardly believe this to be
true of Tramaglino, as he was a quiet worthy youth. She asked if it was
true that he had escaped, and if it was known where he was?

"Escaped, he certainly has, for every one knows it; but where, no one
knows. Perhaps they may take him again, perhaps he is in safety; but if
your peaceful youth falls into their hands----"

Here very fortunately the portress was called away; you may imagine the
feelings of Agnes and her daughter! The poor woman and the desolate Lucy
remained more than a day in cruel uncertainty, imagining the details and
the probable consequences of this unhappy event. Tormented with vain
hopes and anxious fears, their only relief was in each other's sympathy.

At length, a man arrived at the convent, and asked to see Agnes; he was
a fishmonger of Pescarenico, who was going, according to custom, to
Milan, to sell his fish; the good Christopher had desired him to stop at
the convent, to relate what he knew of the unhappy affair of Renzo to
Lucy and her mother, and exhort them, in his name, to have patience and
to confide in God. As for him, he should certainly not forget them, and
would seize every possible opportunity to aid them; in the meanwhile he
would not fail to send them news every week, by this or some other
means. All that the messenger could tell them further of Renzo was, that
it was considered certain that he had taken refuge in Bergamo. Such a
certainty was a great balm to the affliction of Lucy; her tears flowed
less bitterly, and she experienced some comfort in discoursing upon it
with her mother; and they united in heartfelt thanks to the Great Being
who had saved them from so many dangers.

Gertrude made Lucy often visit her in her private parlour, and conversed
much with her, finding a charm in the ingenuousness and sweetness of the
poor girl, and delighted with listening to expressions of gratitude from
her mouth. She changed insensibly the suspicions of Lucy with regard to
her into a sentiment of the deepest compassion, by relating to her, in
confidence, a part of her history, that part of it which she dared avow.
Lucy found in the relation reasons more than sufficient to explain what
had appeared strange in the manners of her benefactress. She was very
careful, however, not to return the confidence Gertrude placed in her,
by speaking of her new fears and misfortunes, lest she should thereby
extend the knowledge of Renzo's supposed crime and disgrace. She avoided
as much as possible replying to the repeated enquiries of the signora on
that part of her history, which preceded the promise of marriage; to
her modesty and innocence it appeared an impossible thing to converse
freely on such a subject. Gertrude was often tempted to quarrel with her
shyness, but how could she? Lucy was nevertheless so respectful, so
grateful, so trusting! Sometimes her shrinking and susceptible modesty
might displease her, from other motives; but all was lost in the
sweetness of the thought that to Lucy, if to no other human being, she
was doing good. And this was true; for besides the asylum she afforded
her, her conversation and endearments encouraged the timid mind of the
maiden; whose only other resource was constant employment. The nuns, at
her solicitation, furnished her with occupation; and, as from morning
till night she plied her needle, her reel, her beloved but now forsaken
reel, recurred to her memory, bringing with it a throng of painful
recollections.

The following week another message was received from Father Christopher,
confirming the flight of Renzo, but with regard to the extent or nature
of his misdemeanor, there was no further information. The friar had
hoped for satisfaction on this point from his brother at Milan, to whom
he had recommended him; but had received for answer that he had neither
seen the young man, nor received the letter; that some one from abroad
had been at the convent to ask for him, and not finding him there, had
gone away.

The third week there was no messenger, which not only deprived them of a
desired and expected consolation, but also produced a thousand uneasy
suspicions. Before this, Agnes had thought of taking a journey home, and
this disappointment confirmed her resolution. Lucy was unwilling to be
separated from her mother, but her anxiety to gain more satisfactory
intelligence of Renzo, and the security she felt in her sacred asylum,
reconciled her. It was therefore agreed between them, that Agnes should
wait on the road the following day for the return of the fishmonger from
Milan, and should ask the favour of a seat in his cart, in order to go
to her mountains. Upon seeing him approach, therefore, she asked him if
Father Christopher had not sent any message by him. The fishmonger had
been occupied the whole day before his departure in fishing, and had
received no message from the friar! She then preferred her request, and
having obtained a compliance with it, bade farewell to her daughter and
the signora, promising a speedy return.

The journey was without accident; early in the morning they arrived at
Pescarenico. Here Agnes took leave of her conductor, with many thanks
for the obligation he had conferred on her; and as she was before the
convent gates, she determined to speak with the good friar before she
proceeded homeward. She pulled the bell--the friar Galdino, whom we may
remember as the nut collector, appeared to answer it.

"Oh! good dame, what good wind brings you here?"

"I come to see Father Christopher!"

"Father Christopher? He is not here!"

"No? will it be long before he returns? Where is he gone?"

"To Rimini."

"To----?"

"To Rimini."

"Where is that?"

"Eh! eh! eh!" replied the friar, extending his arms, as if to indicate a
great distance.

"Miserable that I am! But why did he go so suddenly?"

"Because the father provincial would have it so."

"And why did they send away one who did so much good here? Oh! unhappy
me!"

"If our superiors were obliged to give reasons for what they do, where
would be our obedience, my good woman?"

"But this is such a loss!"

"Shall I tell you how it has happened? they have probably wanted a good
preacher at Rimini; (we have them in every place to be sure, but
sometimes a particular man is needed;) the father provincial of that
place has written to the father provincial of this, to know if there
were such a person in this convent; the father provincial returned for
answer, that there was none but Father Christopher who corresponded to
the description."

"Oh! unfortunate! When did he go?"

"The day before yesterday."

"Oh! if I had only come a few days sooner, as I wished to do! And do
they not know when he will return?"

"Why! my dear woman! the father provincial knows, if any one does; but
when one of our preachers has taken his flight, it is impossible to say
on what branch he will rest. They want him here; they want him there;
for we have convents in the four quarters of the world. Father
Christopher will make a great noise at Rimini, with his Lent sermon; the
fame of this great preacher will resound every where, and it is our duty
to give him up, because we live on the charity of others, and it is but
right we should serve all the world."

"Oh! misery! misery!" cried Agnes, weeping; "what shall I do without
this good man? He was a father to us; what a loss! what a loss!"

"Hear me, good woman--Father Christopher was truly a good man, but we
have others equally so; there is Father Antanasio, Father Girolamo,
Father Zaccaria! Father Zaccaria is a worthy man! And you must not
wonder, as some ignorant people do, at his shrill voice and his little
beard; I do not say that he is a preacher, because every one has his
talent; but to give advice, he is the man."

"Oh! holy patience!" cried Agnes, with a mixture of gratitude and
vexation one feels at an offer containing more good-will than
suitableness; "What is it to me what another man is, when he who is gone
knew our affairs, and had every thing prepared to help us!"

"Then you must have patience."

"I know that. Excuse the trouble I have given you."

"That is of no consequence, my good woman; I pity you; if you decide
upon asking advice of one of the fathers, you will find the convent
still in its place. But let me see you soon, when I collect the oil."

"God preserve you," said Agnes; and she proceeded homeward, confused
and disconcerted as a blind man who had lost his staff.

Having more information than Friar Galdino, we are enabled to relate the
truth of this affair. Attilio, immediately on his arrival at Milan,
performed his promise to Don Roderick, and visited his uncle of the
secret council; (this was a committee composed of thirteen members,
whose sanction was necessary to the proceedings of government; in case
of the absence or death of the governor, the council assumed temporarily
the control.) The count, one of the oldest members of the council,
enjoyed in it some authority, which he did not fail to make known on all
occasions. His language was ambiguous; his silence significant; he had
the art of flattering, without absolutely promising; of menacing,
without perhaps the power to perform; but these flatteries and menaces
produced in the minds of others an impression of his unlimited power,
which was the end and purpose of all his actions. Towards this point he
lately made a great stride on an extraordinary occasion. He had been
sent on an embassy to Madrid! And to hear him describe his reception
there! Among other honours, the count-duke had treated him with
particular attention, had admitted him to his confidence, so far as to
ask him in the presence of the whole court, _if he were pleased with
Madrid_? and to tell him on another occasion, at a window, that _the
cathedral of Milan was the most magnificent church in the king's
dominions_.

After having paid his duty to the count, and presented the compliments
of his cousin, Attilio, with a seriousness which he knew well how to
assume, said, "I believe it to be my duty to inform the signor, my
uncle, of an affair in which Roderick is concerned, and which requires
the interference of your lordship to avert the serious consequences
that----"

"Ah! one of his pranks, I suppose."

"In truth, I must say that the injury has not been committed by
Roderick, but he is exasperated, and none but my uncle can----"

"What is it? what is it?"

"There is in his neighbourhood a capuchin friar who sets himself in
array against my cousin, who hates him, and the matter stands thus----"

"How often have I told you both to let the friars manage their own
affairs? It is enough for those to whom it belongs--but you, you can
avoid having any thing to do with them----"

"Signor uncle, it is my duty to inform you that Roderick would have
avoided it, if it had been possible. It is the friar who has quarrelled
with him, and he has used every means----"

"What the devil can the friar have in common with my nephew?"

"First of all, he is known to be a quarrelsome fellow; he protects a
peasant girl of the village, and regards her with a benevolence, to say
the least of it, very suspicious."

"I comprehend," said his uncle; and a ray of malice passed over the
depth of dulness which nature had stamped on his countenance.

"For some time," continued Attilio, "the friar has suspected Roderick of
designs on this young girl----"

"_He_ has suspected, indeed! I know the signor Roderick too well myself,
not to need to be told that he is incorrigible in such matters!"

"That Roderick, signor uncle, may have had some trifling conversation
with this girl, I can very well believe; he is young, and, moreover, not
a capuchin,--but these are idle tales, not worth engaging your
attention. The serious part of the affair is, that the friar speaks of
Roderick as if he were a villain, and instigates all the country against
him----"

"And the other friars?"

"They do not meddle with it, because they know him to be hot-headed,
though they have great respect for Roderick; but then, on the other
hand, the friar passes for a saint with the villagers, and----"

"I imagine he does not know Roderick is my nephew."

"Does he not know it? it is that, precisely, which animates him to this
course of conduct."

"How? how?"

"He takes pleasure, and he tells it to every one, he takes the more
pleasure in vexing Roderick, because he has a protector as powerful as
your lordship; he laughs at the nobility, and at diplomatists, and
exults at the thought, that the girdle of Saint Francis can tie up all
the swords, and that----"

"Oh! the presumptuous man! what is his name?"

"Friar Christopher, of ***," said Attilio. The count drew his portfolio
towards him, and inscribed the name.

Meanwhile, Attilio proceeded: "He has always had this character; his
life is well known; he was a plebeian, and having some wealth, wished to
associate with gentlemen, and not being able to succeed, killed one of
them for rage; and to escape the gallows he assumed the habit of a
friar."

"Bravo! well done! we will see, we will see," said the count in a fume.

"Now," continued Attilio, "he is more enraged than ever, because he has
failed in a project he had much at heart. It is by this that your
lordship can see what kind of a man he is. He wished to have this girl
married, to remove her from the dangers of the world, you understand;
and he had found his man, a fellow whose name you have doubtless heard,
because I have understood that the secret council has been obliged to
take notice of the worthy youth."

"Who is he?"

"A silk weaver, Lorenzo Tramaglino, he who----"

"Lorenzo Tramaglino!" cried the count. "Well done, friar! Truly--now I
remember--he had a letter for a--it is a pity that--but no matter. And
pray, why did Don Roderick say nothing of all this? why did he suffer
things to go so far, before he acquainted one who has the power and the
will to support him?"

"I will tell you also the truth with respect to that: knowing the
multitude of cases which you have to perplex you, he has not been
willing to add to them; and, besides, since I must say it, he is beside
himself on account of the insults offered him by the friar, and would
wish to wreak summary justice on him himself, rather than obtain it from
prudence and the power of your lordship. I have tried to cool his
ardour, but finding it impossible, I thought it my duty to inform your
lordship, who, after all, is the prop and chief column of the house."

"You ought to have spoken sooner."

"That is true. But I hoped the affair would finish of itself, or that
the friar would regain his reason, or that he would leave the convent,
as often happens to these friars, who are sometimes here, sometimes
there; and then all would have been settled. But----"

"The arrangement of the business now rests with me."

"That is what I thought; I said to myself, the signor our uncle is the
only one who can save the honour of Don Roderick; he has a thousand
means that I know not of: I know that the father provincial has a great
respect for him, and if our uncle should think that the best thing for
this friar would be a change of air, he can in a few words----"

"Will your lordship leave the care of the business to him to whom it
appertains?" said the count, sharply.

"Ah! that is true," cried Attilio; "am I the man to give advice to your
lordship? But the regard I have for the honour of the family made me
speak. And I am afraid I have committed another folly," added he,
affecting a pensive air: "I am afraid I have injured Don Roderick in
your opinion; I should have no rest if you doubted Roderick's confidence
in you, and submission to your will. I hope the signor our uncle will
believe, that in this case, it is truly----"

"Well, well, you two will be always friends, until one of you become
prudent. Ever in fault, and relying on me to repair it! You give me more
trouble than all the affairs of state!" continued he, with an expression
of grave importance.

Attilio proffered a few more excuses, promises, and compliments, and
took his leave, with a parting injunction from his uncle _to be
prudent_!



CHAPTER XIX.


The signor count formed the resolution to make use of the father
provincial to cut the knot of these perplexities; whether he would have
thought of this, had it not been suggested by Attilio, it is impossible
to determine, inasmuch as he would never have acknowledged this to be
the case. It was important that one of his family, his nephew, should
not be obliged to yield in an open controversy; it was a point essential
to the reputation of his power, which he had so much at heart. The
satisfaction which his nephew might himself take of his adversary would
be a remedy worse than the disease. Should he order him to leave his
castle, when obedience would seem like flying from the field of battle?
Legal force could have no power over the capuchin; the clergy were
entirely exempt from secular jurisdiction. All that he could attempt
against such an adversary was to endeavour to have him removed and the
power to do this rested with the father provincial.

Now the count and the father provincial were old acquaintances; they saw
each other rarely, but always with great demonstrations of friendship,
and reiterated offers of service.

When all was matured in his mind, the count invited the father
provincial to a dinner, where he found a company of choice guests;
noblemen, who, by their deportment, their native boldness, and lordly
disdain, impressed those around them with the idea of their superiority
and power. There were also present some clients, who, attached to the
house by hereditary devotion, and the service of a life, sat at their
lord's table, in a spirit of implicit submission, "devouring his
discourse" and his dinner with unqualified and equal approbation.

At table, the count led the conversation to Madrid; he spoke of the
court, the count-duke, the ministers, the family of the governor; of the
bull-fights, which he could well describe, having seen them from a
distinguished place; of the escurial, of which he could speak in its
most minute details, because a page of the count-duke had conducted him
into every nook of it. For some time all the company were attentive to
him alone; then they divided into separate parties. He continued for a
while to relate a number of anecdotes, as in confidence, to the father
provincial, who was seated near him. But suddenly he gave a turn to the
conversation, and spoke of Cardinal Barberini, who was a capuchin, and
brother to the reigning pope, Urban VIII. As they left the table, the
count invited the father provincial to go with him into another
apartment.

The noble lord gave a seat to the reverend father, and taking one
himself, said, "Considering the friendship that exists between us, I
thought I was authorised to speak to your reverence of an affair equally
interesting to us both, and which had best be concluded between us
without going farther, which might--and I will tell you frankly what it
is, as I am certain we shall have the same opinion on the subject. Tell
me, in your convent of Pescarenico, is there not a Father Christopher of
***?"

The father provincial bowed assent.

"I pray your reverence to tell me, frankly, as a friend,--this man--this
father--I have no personal acquaintance with him, 'tis true; I know many
fervent, prudent, humble capuchins, who are worth their weight in gold;
I have been the friend of the order from infancy; but in a numerous
family there is always some individual----And I have reason to think
that Friar Christopher is a man--a little fond of quarrelling--who has
not all the prudence he might have: I imagine he has caused your
reverence much anxiety."

"I perceive there is some intrigue," thought the father provincial; "it
is my fault; I knew that this holy man should have been sent from pulpit
to pulpit, and not have been suffered to remain six months in a convent
in the country.--Oh," said he, aloud, "I am truly sorry that your
excellency has conceived such an opinion of Father Christopher; for I
know that his conduct in the convent is exemplary, and that he is
esteemed by every body."

"I understand very well; your reverence ought----However, I would as a
friend inform you of a matter which it is necessary you should know.
This Father Christopher has taken under his protection a young man of
that country, one of whom your reverence must have heard; him who
recently escaped from the hands of justice, on the terrible day of San
Martin--Lorenzo Tramaglino!"

"I had not heard of this," said the father provincial; "but your
excellency knows that it is the duty of our order to seek those who have
gone astray, for the purpose of leading them back."

"That is true; but I thought it best to give you this information,
because, if ever his holiness--the intelligence of it may have been sent
to Rome."

"I am much obliged to your excellency for the information. However, I am
certain, that if the affair is enquired into, it will be found that
Father Christopher has had no connection with this man but for the
purpose of doing him good. I know the father well."

"Your reverence knows, then, better than I, what he was in the world,
and the pranks of his youth."

"It is the glory of our habit, signor count, that whatever a man may
have been in the world, once clothed with that, he is quite another
person; and since the Father Christopher has belonged to our order----"

"I believe it from the bottom of my heart, I believe it; but
sometimes--as the proverb says--The habit does not make the monk."

The proverb was not much to the purpose, but the count had cited it, in
place of another which occurred to him,--"The wolf may change his skin,
but he does not become a dog."

"I have certain information," pursued he.

"If your excellency knows positively that the father has committed a
fault (we are all liable to err), I wish you would inform me of it. I am
his superior--unworthily, 'tis true; but it is my duty to watch over,
and, if necessary, correct----"

"Besides the circumstance of his granting protection to the man I have
mentioned, this same Father Christopher has undertaken to contend--but
we can settle it together with my nephew, Don Roderick."

"Oh, I am sorry for that, I am sorry for that, truly."

"My nephew is young, rash, and not accustomed to provocation."

"It becomes my duty to obtain the best information on the subject. Your
excellency, with your experience of the world, knows better than I, that
we are all frail, liable to error--some one way, some another; and if
our Father Christopher has failed----"

"But these are things which had better be settled between ourselves; to
spread them abroad would only increase the evil. These trifles are often
the cause of numerous embarrassments and difficulties, which might have
been prevented by some decisive act in the commencement. That is now our
business; my nephew is young; the monk, from what I hear, has still the
spirit, the inclinations of a young man; but we, who are advanced in
years, (too true, is it not, reverend father?) must have prudence to act
for the young, and apply a remedy to their follies. Happily there is yet
time; we must remove the fire from the straw. An individual who does not
do well in one place may in another; your reverence might see to his
being removed, might find a suitable station for the friar at a
sufficient distance--all may be easily arranged--or rather, there's no
harm done."

The father provincial had expected this conclusion from the commencement
of the conversation. "I perceive," thought he, "where you would lead me;
when a poor friar gives one of you the least umbrage, the superior must
make him march, right or wrong."

When the count had finished, the provincial said aloud, "I understand
what the signor count would say; but before taking a step----"

"It is a step, and it is not a step, very reverend father: it is only a
natural event, such as might happen in the ordinary course of affairs;
and if we do not do it quickly, I foresee a deluge of disorders, a
mountain of grievances. If we do not put a stop to the affair between
ourselves, it is not possible it should remain a secret. And then it is
not only my nephew--you raise a wasp's nest, very reverend father. We
are a powerful house--we have adherents."

The father bowed in assent. The count proceeded. "You understand me;
they are all people who have blood in their veins, and who in the
world--count as something. They are proud of their honour; the affair
will become theirs, and then---- Even those who are the friends of
peace---- It would be a grief of heart to me to be obliged---- I, who
have always had such a friendship for the capuchins! The fathers, for
their ministry to be efficient, should be in harmony with all men--no
misunderstandings: besides, they have relations abroad--and these
affairs of punctilio extend, ramify---- I, too, have a certain dignity
to maintain---- His excellency----my noble colleagues---- It becomes a
party matter----"

"It is true," said the provincial, "that Father Christopher is a
preacher; I had already the intention--I have even been solicited to do
it--but under these circumstances, and just at this time, it might be
considered as a punishment; and to punish without being well
acquainted----"

"But it is not a punishment; it is a prudent precaution, an honest means
of preventing evils that might----I have explained myself."

"The signor count and myself understand each other very well; but the
facts being those which your excellency has adduced, it is impossible
but that they should in part be known through the country: there are
every where firebrands, or idle spirits, who find pleasure in the
contests of the monks and the nobility, and love to make malignant
observations. Each one has his own dignity to preserve; and I, in the
character of a superior, have an express duty--the honour of the
habit--it is not my own affair--it is a deposit which--and since the
signor your nephew is so irritated, as your excellency has said, he
might take it as a satisfaction offered to him, and--I do not say boast
of it, but----"

"You jest, reverend father, surely; my nephew is a cavalier of
consideration in the world, as he should be; but in his relations with
me, he is but a child, and will do neither more nor less than I
prescribe to him. And, moreover, he shall never know it. The thing is
done between ourselves; there is no necessity for rendering an account
to him. Let not that give you any uneasiness; I am accustomed to keep
silence on important subjects. As to the idle talk of others, what can
be said? It is a very common thing to see a friar leave one place to go
and preach at another."

"However, in order to prevent malicious observations, it would be
necessary, on this occasion, that the nephew of your excellency should
give some demonstration of friendship, of deference,--not for us, but
for the order."

"Certainly, certainly, that is but right; it is not necessary, however;
I know that the capuchins are highly esteemed by my nephew, as well as
by our whole family. But, in this case, something more signal is very
proper. Leave it to me, very reverend father: I will give such orders to
my nephew--that is to say, it shall be prudently suggested to him, that
he may not suspect what has passed between us, because we need not apply
a plaster where there is no wound. As to that which we have agreed on,
the sooner it is done the better; and if you had a place at some
distance--to remove every occasion----"

"They want a preacher at Rimini; and perhaps without this motive I
should have thought----"

"That is very opportune, very opportune. And when?"

"Since the thing is to be done, it shall be quickly."

"Certainly, certainly; better to-day than to-morrow. And," continued he,
rising, "if I or my adherents can render any service to the good father
capuchins----"

"We have often experienced the kindness of the house," said the father
provincial, also rising, and following his vanquisher to the door of the
apartment.

"We have extinguished a spark," said the count,--"a spark, very reverend
father, which might have excited a great conflagration. Between good
friends, things are easily arranged."

They then entered the next apartment, and mixed with the rest of the
company.

The count obtained his end: Friar Christopher was made to travel on foot
from Pescarenico to Rimini, as we shall see.

One evening a capuchin from Milan arrived at Pescarenico, with a packet
for the superior: it was an order for Father Christopher to repair to
Rimini for the purpose of preaching the Lent sermons. The letter
contained instructions to the superior, to insinuate to the friar, that
he should give up every attention to any business he might have on hand
in the country he must leave, and that he should not maintain any
correspondence there. The friar, who was the bearer of the order, was to
be the companion of his journey. The superior said nothing that night,
but in the morning he sent for Father Christopher, showed him the order,
and told him to take his basket, staff, and girdle, and with the friar,
whom he presented to him, commence his journey.

Imagine what a blow this was for our good father. Renzo, Lucy, Agnes,
passed rapidly over his mind, and he thought, "Great God! what will
these unfortunate people do, when I am no longer here?" but raising his
eyes to heaven, he placed his hope and confidence there. He crossed his
hands on his breast, and bowed his head in token of obedience; he then
went to his cell, took his basket, his staff, and his breviary, and
after having bid farewell to his brethren, and obtained the benediction
of his superior, took, with his companion, the route prescribed.

We have said that Don Roderick, more than ever determined on the
accomplishment of his infamous enterprise, had resolved to seek the
assistance of a powerful man. We cannot give his name, nor even hazard a
conjecture with regard to it; this is the more astonishing, inasmuch as
we find notices of this personage in several histories of the time. The
identity of the facts does not leave a doubt of the identity of the man;
but there is evidently an extreme care to avoid the mention of his name.
Francesco Rivola, in his life of the Cardinal Federigo Borromeo,
speaking of him, says, "He was a lord as powerful from his wealth as
illustrious from his birth," and nothing further. Giuseppe Ripamonti
makes farther mention of him, as a _man_, this _man_, a _person_, this
_person_. "I will relate," says he, "the case of a man, who, belonging
to the most powerful family in the city, chose the country for his
residence; and there, assuring himself of impunity by the force of
crime, he set at nought the law and the magistrates, the king and the
nobles. Placed on the extreme confines of the state, he led an
independent life; he offered an asylum to the outlaw; he was outlawed
himself, and then absolved from the sentence which had led----" We will
hereafter quote from this author other passages, which will confirm the
history we are about to relate.

To do that which was forbidden by the laws; to be the arbiter, the
supreme judge in the affairs of others, without other interest than a
thirst for power; to be feared by all, even by those who were the
objects of fear to all men; these had ever been the controlling
principles which actuated the conduct of this man. From his youth he had
been filled with impatient envy at the power and authority of others;
superior to the greater number in riches and retinue, and to all perhaps
in birth and audacity, he constrained them to renounce all competition
with him; he took some into his friendship, but was far from admitting
any equality between himself and them; his proud and disdainful spirit
could only be content with those who were willing to acknowledge their
inferiority, and to yield to him on all occasions. When, however, they
found themselves in any difficulty, they did not fail to solicit the aid
of so powerful an auxiliary; and a refusal from him would have been the
destruction of his reputation, and of the high station which he had
assumed. So that, for himself and others, he had performed such deeds
that not all his own power and that of his family could prevent his
banishment and outlawry; and he was obliged to leave the state. I
believe that it is to this circumstance Ripamonti alludes:--

"He was obliged to leave the country: but his audacity was unsubdued; he
went through the city on horseback, followed by a pack of hounds, and
with the sound of the trumpet; passing by the court of the palace, he
sent an abusive message to the governor by one of the guards."

In his absence he did not desist from his evil practices; he maintained
a correspondence with his friends, "who were united to him," says
Ripamonti, "in a secret league of atrocious deeds."

It appears that he even contracted new habits, of which the same
historian speaks with mysterious brevity. "Foreign princes had recourse
to him for important murders, and they even sent him reinforcements of
soldiers to act under his orders."

At last, whether the proclamation of his outlawry was withdrawn from
some powerful intercession, or that the audacity of the man outweighed
all authority, he resolved to return home; not exactly to Milan, but to
a castle on the frontier of the Bergamascan territory, which then
belonged to the Venetian state. "This house," says Ripamonti, "was a
focus of sanguinary mandates. The household was composed of such as had
been guilty of great crimes; the cooks, and the scullions even, were not
free from the stain of murder." Besides this notable household, he had
men resembling them, stationed in different places of the two states, on
the confines of which he lived.

All, however tyrannical themselves, had been obliged to choose between
the friendship or enmity of this tyrannical man, and it fared ill with
those who dared resist him. It was in vain to hope to preserve
neutrality or independence; his orders to do such or such a thing, or to
refrain, were arbitrary, and resistance was useless. Recourse was had to
him on all occasions, and by all sorts of people, good as well as bad,
for the arrangements of their difficulties; so that he occasionally
became the protector of the oppressed, who could not have obtained
redress in any other way, public or private. He was almost always the
minister of wickedness, revenge, and caprice; but the various ways in
which he had employed his power impressed upon all minds a great idea of
his capability to devise and perform his acts in defiance of every
obstruction, whether lawful or unlawful. The fame of ordinary tyrants
was confined to their own districts, and every district had its tyrant;
but the fame of this extraordinary man was spread throughout the
Milanese; his life was the subject of popular tales, and his name
carried with it something powerful and mysterious. Every tyrant was
suspected of alliance with him, every assassin of acting under his
orders; at every extraordinary crime, of the author of which they were
ignorant, the name of this man was uttered, whom, thanks to the
circumspection of our historians, we are obliged to call the Unknown.

The distance between his castle and that of Don Roderick was not more
than six miles. The latter had long felt the necessity of keeping on
good terms with such a neighbour, and had proffered his services, and
entitled himself to the same sort of friendship, as the rest; he was
however, careful to conceal the nature and strictness of the union
between them. Don Roderick liked to play the tyrant, but not openly;
tyranny was with him a means, not an end; he wished to live at ease in
the city, and enjoy the advantages, pleasures, and honours of civilised
life. To insure this, he was obliged to exhibit management, to testify a
great esteem for his relations, to cultivate the friendship of persons
in place, in order to sway the balance of justice for his own peculiar
purposes. Now, an intimacy with such a man would not have advanced his
interests in such points, and especially with his uncle; but a slight
acquaintance with him might be considered unavoidable under the
circumstances, and therefore in some degree excusable. One morning Don
Roderick, equipped for the chase, with an escort of retainers, among
whom was Griso, took the road to the castle of the Unknown.



CHAPTER XX.


The castle of the Unknown was situated above a narrow and shady valley,
on the summit of a cliff, which, belonging to a rugged chain of
mountains, was nevertheless separated from them by banks, caverns, and
precipices. It was only accessible on the side which overlooked the
valley. This was a declivity rather steep, but equal, and continued
towards the summit: it was occupied as pasture ground, and its lower
borders were cultivated, having habitations scattered here and there.
The bottom was a bed of stones, through which flowed, according to the
season, a small brook, or a large torrent, which served for a boundary
between the two territories. The opposite chain of mountains, which
formed, as it were, the other wall of the valley, was slightly
cultivated towards its base; the rest was composed of precipitous rocks
without verdure, and thrown together irregularly and wildly. The scene
altogether was one of savage grandeur.

From this castle, as the eagle from his eyrie, its lawless owner
overlooked his domain, and heard no human sound above him. He could
embrace at a view all the environs, the declivities, the abyss, the
practicable approaches. To the eyes of one viewing it from above, the
winding path which ascended towards the terrible habitation could be
perceived throughout its whole course, and from the windows and
loopholes, the signor could leisurely count the steps of the person
ascending, and examine him with the closest scrutiny. With the garrison
of bravoes which he kept at the castle he could defy an army, which he
would have crushed in the valley beneath, before an individual could
reach the summit. But none, except such as were friends with the master
of the castle, dared set foot even in the valley. Tragical stories were
related of some who had attempted the dangerous enterprise, but these
stories were already of times long past, and none of the young vassals
could remember to have encountered a human being in this place, except
under his lord's authority.

Don Roderick arrived in the middle of the valley, at the foot of the
cliff, at the commencement of the rugged and winding path; at this point
was a tavern, which might have been called a guard-house; an old sign,
with a rising sun painted on both sides, was suspended before the door;
but the people gave the place the more appropriate name of _Malanotte_.

At the noise of the approaching cavalcade a young boy, well furnished
with swords and pistols, appeared on the threshold of the door; and
casting a rapid glance at the party, informed three ruffians, who were
playing at cards within the house, of its approach. He who appeared to
be the chief among them arose, and recognising a friend of his master,
saluted him respectfully; Don Roderick returned the salutation with much
politeness, and asked if the signor was at the castle. The man replied
in the affirmative; and he, dismounting, threw his horse's bridle to
Aimwell, one of his retinue. Then, taking his musket from his shoulder,
he gave it to _Montanarolo_, as if to relieve himself from an useless
encumbrance, but in reality because he knew that on this cliff none were
permitted to bear arms. Drawing from his pocket some _berlinghe_, he
gave them to _Tanabuso_, saying, "Wait here till my return; and in the
mean time amuse yourselves with these honest people." Then presenting to
the chief of the band some crowns of gold for himself and his
companions, he ascended the path with Griso.

Another bravo belonging to the Unknown, who was on his way to the
castle, bore him company; thus sparing him the trouble of declaring his
name to whomsoever he should meet. When he arrived at the castle (Griso
was left at the gate) he was conducted through a long succession of dark
galleries, and various halls hung with muskets, sabres, and other
weapons of warfare; each of these halls was guarded by a bravo. After
having waited some time, he was admitted to the presence of the Unknown,
who advanced to meet him, replying to his salutation, and at the same
time, as was his custom, even with his oldest friends, eying him from
head to foot. He was tall in stature; and from the baldness of his head,
and the deep furrows of his countenance, appeared to be much older than
sixty, which was his real age; his countenance and movements, the
firmness of his features, and the fire which sparkled from his eyes,
indicated a vigour of body as well as of mind which would have been
remarkable even in a young man.

Don Roderick told him he had come for advice and assistance; that,
having embarked in a difficult enterprise, from which his honour did not
suffer him to withdraw, he had remembered the promises of one who never
promised in vain; and he then related his abominable intrigue. The
Unknown, who had already heard something of it, listened with much
attention to the recital, both because he naturally loved such
relations, and because Friar Christopher, that avowed enemy of tyrants,
was concerned in it. Don Roderick spoke of the difficulty of the
undertaking, the distance of the place, a monastery, the _signora_,--but
the Unknown, as if prompted by the demon in his heart, interrupted him,
saying, that he took the charge of the affair on himself. He wrote down
the name of the poor Lucy, and dismissed Don Roderick, saying, "In a
little while you will receive news from me."

The reader may remember the villain Egidio, who lived near the walls of
the monastery into which Lucy had been received; now, he was one of the
most intimate colleagues in crime of the Unknown; and this accounts for
the promptness with which this lord assumed the charge of the
undertaking. However, no sooner was he left alone than he repented of
his precipitation. He had for some time experienced, not remorse, but a
vague uneasiness on account of his crimes; at every new addition to
them, the remembrance of those he had previously committed pressed upon
his memory, if not upon his conscience, and loaded it with an
intolerable weight. An undefinable repugnance to the commission of
crime, such as he had experienced and subdued at the outset of his
career, returned with all its force to overwhelm his spirit. The
thoughts of the future contributed to render the past more painful. "To
grow old! to die! and then?" And the image of death, which he had so
often met undaunted, in face of an enemy, and which seemed to inflame
his courage and double his energy--this same image now, in the midnight
silence of his castle, quelled his spirit, and impressed him with an awe
which he in vain endeavoured to resist. Formerly, the frequent spectacle
of violence and murder, inspiring him with a ferocious emulation, had
served as a kind of authority against his conscience; now the confused
but terrible idea arose in his mind of individual responsibility at the
bar of God. The idea of having risen above the crowd of vulgar
criminals, and of having left them far behind, an idea which once
flattered his pride, now impressed him with a sentiment of fearful
solitude; and experiencing at certain moments of despondence the power
and presence of that God whose existence he had hitherto neither
admitted nor denied, having been wholly immersed in himself, his
accumulated crimes rose up, to justify the sentence which was about to
condemn him to eternal banishment from the divine presence. But this
uneasiness was not suffered to appear, either in his words or his
actions; he carefully concealed it under the appearance of more profound
and intense ferocity. Regretting the time when he was accustomed to
commit iniquity without remorse, without any other solicitude than for
its success, he made every effort to recall these habits and feelings;
to take pleasure in wickedness; and glory in his shame, in order to
convince himself that he was still the same man.

This accounts for the promptitude of his promise to Don Roderick: he
wished to deprive himself of the chance of hesitation; but, scarcely
alone, he felt his resolution fail, and thoughts arose in his mind which
almost tempted him to break his word, and expose his weakness to an
inferior accomplice. But with a violent effort he put an end to the
painful conflict. He sent for Nibbio[30], one of the most skilful and
resolute ministers of his atrocities, and of whom he had made use in his
correspondence with Egidio, and ordered him to mount his horse, to go to
Monza, to inform Egidio of the affair he had undertaken, and to require
his assistance for its accomplishment.

      [30] Kite.

The messenger returned sooner than his master expected him with the
reply of Egidio; the enterprise was easy and safe; the Unknown had only
to send a carriage with two or three bravoes, well disguised; Egidio
took charge of the rest. The Unknown, whatever passed in his mind, gave
orders to Nibbio to arrange every thing, and to set out immediately on
the expedition.

If, to perform the horrible service which had been required of him,
Egidio had depended only on his ordinary means, he would not certainly
have sent back so explicit an answer. But in the asylum of the convent,
where every thing appeared as an obstacle, the villain had a means known
to himself alone; and that which would have been an insurmountable
difficulty to others was to him an instrument of success. We have
related how the unhappy signora once lent an ear to his discourse, and
the reader may have surmised that this was not the last time; it was
only the first step in the path of abomination and blood. The same voice
which then addressed her, become imperious through crime, now imposed on
her the sacrifice of the innocent girl who had been intrusted to her
care.

The proposition appeared frightful to Gertrude; to lose Lucy in any
manner would have seemed to her a misfortune, a punishment; and to
deprive herself of her with criminal perfidy, to add to her crimes by
dealing treacherously with the confiding girl, was to take away the only
gleam of virtuous enjoyment which had shone upon her mysterious and
wicked career. She tried every method to avoid obedience; every method,
except the only infallible one, that was in her power. Crime is a severe
and inflexible master, against whom we are strong only when we entirely
rebel. Gertrude could not resolve on that, and obeyed.

The day agreed on came; the hour approached; Gertrude, alone with Lucy,
bestowed on her more caresses than ordinary, which the poor girl
returned with increasing tenderness, as the lamb licks the hand of the
shepherd who entices it without the fold into the murderous power of the
butcher who there awaits it.

"I want you to do me a great favour; many are ready to obey me, but
there is none but yourself whom I can trust. I must speak immediately on
an affair of great importance, which I will relate to you some other
time, to the superior of the capuchins, who brought you hither, my dear
Lucy; but no one must know that I have sent for him. I rely on you to
carry a secret message----"

Lucy was astonished at such a request, and alleged her reasons for
declining to perform it; without her mother! without a companion! in a
solitary road! in a strange country! But Gertrude, instructed in an
infernal school, showed great astonishment and displeasure at her
refusal, after having been loaded with so many benefits; she affected to
treat her excuses as frivolous. "In open day! a short distance! a road
that Lucy had travelled a few days before!" She said so much, that the
poor girl, touched with gratitude and shame, enquired, "What was to be
done?"

"Go to the convent of the capuchins; ask for the superior, tell him to
come here immediately, but to let no one suspect that he comes at my
request."

"But what shall I say to the portress, who has never seen me go out, and
will ask me where I am going?"

"Endeavour to pass without being seen; and if you cannot, say you are
going to some church to perform your orisons."

A new difficulty for Lucy! to tell a falsehood! but the signora was so
offended at her refusal, and so ridiculed her for preferring a vain
scruple to her gratitude, that the unhappy girl, alarmed rather than
convinced, replied, "Well, I will go; may God be my guide and
protector."

Gertrude, from her grated window, followed her with anxious looks, and
when she saw her about to cross the threshold, overcome by irresistible
emotion, she cried, "Stop, Lucy."

Lucy returned to the window; but another idea, the one accustomed to
predominate, had resumed its sway over the mind of the unhappy Gertrude.
She affected dissatisfaction at the directions she had given; described
the road again to Lucy, and dismissed her: "Do exactly as I have told
you, and return quickly."

Lucy passed the door of the cloister unobserved, and proceeding on her
way with downcast eyes, found, with the aid of the directions given, and
her own recollections, the gate of the suburb; timid and trembling, she
continued on the high road, until she arrived at that which led to the
convent. This road was buried, like the bed of a river, between two high
banks, bordered with trees, whose branches united to form an arch above
it. On finding it entirely deserted, she felt her fears revive; she
hurried on, but gained courage from the sight of a travelling carriage
which had stopped a short distance before her; before the door of it,
which was open, there stood two travellers looking about, as if
uncertain of their way. As she approached, she heard one of them say,
"Here is a good girl, who will tell us the way." As she came on a line
with the carriage, this same man addressed her: "My good girl, can you
tell us the way to Monza?"

"You are going in the wrong direction," replied the poor girl; "Monza
lies there." As she turned to point it out, his companion (it was
Nibbio) seized her by the waist, and lifted her from the ground. Lucy
screamed from surprise and terror; the ruffian threw her into the
carriage; a third, who was seated in the bottom of it, seized her, and
compelled her to sit down before him; another put a handkerchief over
her mouth, and stifled her cries. Nibbio then entered the carriage, the
door was closed, and the horses set off on a gallop. He who had asked
her the perfidious question remained behind; he was an emissary of
Egidio, who had watched Lucy when she quitted the convent, and had
hastened by a shorter road to inform his colleagues, and wait for her at
the place agreed on.

But who can describe the terror and anguish of the unfortunate girl? Who
can tell what passed in her heart? Cruelly anxious to ascertain her
horrible situation, she wildly opened her eyes, but closed them again at
the sight of those frightful faces. She struggled in vain. The men held
her down in the bottom of the carriage: if she attempted to cry, they
drew the handkerchief tightly over her mouth. In the mean while, three
gruff voices, endeavouring to assume a tone of humanity, said to her,
"Be quiet, be quiet: do not be afraid; we do not wish to harm you."
After a while her struggles ceased, she languidly opened her eyes, and
the horrible faces before her appeared to blend themselves into one
monstrous image; her colour fled, and she fell lifeless into their arms.

"Courage, courage," said Nibbio; but Lucy was now beyond the reach of
his horrible voice.

"The devil! she appears to be dead," said one of them. "If she should
really be dead!"

"Poh!" said the other, "these fainting fits are common to women; they
don't die in this way."

"Hush," said Nibbio, "be attentive to your duty, and do not meddle with
other affairs. Keep your muskets ready, because this wood we are
entering is a nest for robbers. Don't keep them in your hands--the
devil! put them behind you. Do you not see that this girl is a tender
chicken, who faints at nothing? If she sees that you have arms, she may
die in reality. When she comes to her senses, be careful not to frighten
her. Touch her not, unless I tell you to do so. I can hold her. Keep
quiet, and let me talk to her."

Meanwhile the carriage entered the wood. Poor Lucy awoke as from a
profound and painful slumber. She opened her eyes, and her horrible
situation rushed with full force upon her mind. She struggled again in
vain, she attempted to scream, but Nibbio said to her, holding up the
handkerchief, "Be tranquil; it is the best thing you can do. We do not
wish to harm you; but if you do not keep silence, we must make you."

"Let me go. Who are you? Where are you taking me? Why am I here? Let me
go, let me go."

"I tell you, don't be frightened. You are not a child, and you ought to
know that we will not harm you. We might have murdered you before this,
if such had been our intention. Be quiet, then."

"No, no, let me go; I know you not."

"We know you well enough, however."

"Oh, holy Virgin! Let me go, for charity's sake. Who are you? Why have
you brought me here?"

"Because we have been ordered to do so."

"Who? who? who ordered you to do it?"

"Hush!" said Nibbio, in a severe tone. "Such questions must not be
answered."

Lucy attempted to throw herself from the door of the carriage, but
finding the effort vain, she had recourse again to entreaties, and with
her cheeks bathed in tears, and her voice broken by sobs, she continued,
"Oh, for the love of heaven, and the holy Virgin, let me go! What harm
have I done you? I am a poor creature, who have never injured you; I
forgive you all that you have done, and will pray to God for you. If you
have a daughter, a wife, or a mother, think what they would suffer in my
situation. Remember that we must all die, and that one day you will
hope that God will show mercy to you. Let me go, let me go; the Lord
will guide me on my way."

"We cannot."

"You cannot? Great God! why can you not? Where are you taking me?"

"We cannot; your supplications are useless. Do not be frightened; we
will not harm you. Be quiet; no one shall harm you."

More than ever alarmed to perceive that her words produced no effect,
Lucy turned to Him who holds in his powerful hand the hearts of men, and
can, if he sees fit, soften the most ferocious. She crossed her arms on
her breast, and prayed from the depth of her heart, fervently; then
again vainly implored to be set free: but we have not the heart to
relate more at length this painful journey, which lasted four hours, and
which was to be succeeded by many hours of still deeper anguish.

At the castle, the Unknown was waiting her arrival with extraordinary
solicitude and agitation of mind. Strange, that he who had coldly and
calmly disposed of so many lives, and had regarded as nothing the
torments he inflicted, should now feel an impression of remorse, almost
of terror, at the tyranny he exercised over an unknown girl, an humble
peasant! From a high window of his castle, he had for some time looked
down upon the valley beneath; at last he saw the carriage approaching
slowly at a distance, as if the horses were wearied with their rapid
journey. He perceived it, and felt his heart beat violently.

"Is she there?" thought he. "What trouble this girl gives me! I must
free myself from it." And he prepared himself to send one of his
ruffians to meet the carriage, and tell Nibbio to conduct the girl
immediately to the castle of Don Roderick; but an imperious _No_, which
made itself heard by his conscience, caused him to relinquish his
design. Tormented, however, by the necessity of ordering something to be
done, and insupportably weary of waiting the slow approach of the
carriage, he sent for an old woman who was attached to his service.

This woman had been born in the castle, and had passed her life in it.
She had been impressed from infancy with an opinion of the unlimited
power of its masters; and her principal maxim was implicit obedience
towards them. To the ideas of duty were united sentiments of respect,
fear, and servile devotion. When the Unknown became lord of the castle,
and began to make such horrible use of his power, she experienced a
degree of pain, and at the same time a more profound sentiment of
subjection. In time she became habituated to what was daily acting
before her: the powerful and unbridled will of such a lord she viewed as
an exercise of fated justice. When somewhat advanced in years, she had
espoused a servant of the house, who being sent on a hazardous
expedition, left his body on the high road, and his wife a widow in the
castle. The revenge that her lord took for his death imparted to her a
savage consolation, and increased her pride at being under his
protection. From that day she rarely set foot beyond the castle walls,
and by degrees there remained to her no other idea of human beings, than
that of those by whom she was daily surrounded. She was not employed in
any particular service, but each one gave her something to do as it
pleased him. She had sometimes clothes to mend, food to prepare, and
wounds to dress. Commands, reproaches, and thanks were equally mingled
with abusive raillery: she went by the appellation of the _old woman_,
and the tone with which the name was uttered varied according to the
circumstances and humour of the speaker. Disturbed in her idleness and
irritated in her self-love, which were her two ruling passions, she
returned these compliments with language in which Satan might have
recognised more of his own genius than in that of her persecutors.

"You see that carriage below there," said the Unknown.

"I do," said she.

"Have a litter prepared immediately, and let it carry you to
_Malanotte_. Quick, quick; you must arrive before the carriage; it
approaches with the slow step of death. In this carriage there is--there
ought to be--a young girl. If she is there, tell Nibbio from me, that he
must place her in the litter, and that he must come at once to me. You
will get into the litter with her; and when you arrive here, you must
take her to your room. If she asks you where you are leading her, whose
is this castle, be careful----"

"Oh, do not doubt me," said the old woman.

"But," pursued the Unknown, "comfort her, encourage her."

"What can I say to her?"

"What can you say to her? Comfort her, I tell you. Have you arrived at
this age, and know not how to administer consolation to the afflicted?
Have you never had any sorrow? Have you never been visited by fear? Do
you not know the language that consoles in such moments? Speak this
language to _her_ then; find it in the remembrance of your own
misfortunes. Go directly."

When she was gone, he remained some time at the window, gazing at the
approaching carriage; he then looked at the setting sun, and the
glorious display of clouds about the horizon. He soon withdrew, closed
the window, and kept pacing the apartment in a state of uneasy
excitement.



CHAPTER XXI.


The old woman hastened to obey, and gave orders, under authority of that
name which, by whomsoever pronounced, set the whole castle in motion, as
no one imagined that any one would dare to use it unauthorised. She
reached _Malanotte_ a little before the carriage: when it was near at
hand, she left the litter; and making a sign to the coachman to stop,
approached the window, and whispered in the ear of Nibbio the will of
her master.

Lucy, sensible that the motion of the carriage had ceased, shook off the
lethargy into which she had for some time been plunged, and in an agony
of terror looked around her. Nibbio had drawn himself back on the seat,
and the old woman, resting her chin on the window, said to Lucy, "Come,
my child; come, poor girl; come with me. I have orders to treat you
kindly, and to offer you every consolation."

At the sound of a female voice the unfortunate girl felt a momentary
relief, which was, however, succeeded by deeper terror as she looked at
the person from whom it proceeded. "Who are you?" said she, anxiously
fixing her eyes upon her.

"Come, come, poor girl," repeated the old woman.

Nibbio and his two companions, inferring the designs of their master
from the extraordinary deportment of the old woman, endeavoured to
persuade the poor girl to obey; but Lucy kept gazing at the wild and
savage solitude around, which left her no ray of hope. However, she
attempted to cry out; but seeing Nibbio give a look to the handkerchief,
she stopped, trembled, was seized, and then placed in the litter. The
old woman was placed beside her; and Nibbio left the two villains for
their escort, and hastened forward at the call of his master. Lucy,
aroused to momentary energy by the near approach of the deformed and
withered features of her companion, cried, "Where am I? Where are you
taking me?"

"To one who wishes you well; to a great--you are a lucky girl; be happy,
do not be afraid; be happy. He has told me to encourage you; you will
tell him that I have done so, will you not?"

"Who is this man? What is he? What does he want with me? I do not belong
to him. Tell me where I am. Let me go. Tell these men to let me go, to
take me to some church. Oh, you, who are a woman, in the name of the
holy Virgin, I entreat you."

This holy and tender name, so often pronounced with respect in her early
years, and for so long a time neglected and forgotten, produced on the
mind of the wretched woman, who had not heard it for so long a time, a
confused impression, like the remembrance of lights and shadows on the
mind of one blind from infancy.

Meanwhile the Unknown, standing at the door of the castle, looked below,
and saw the litter slowly ascending, and Nibbio walking a few steps in
advance of it. At the sight of his master, he hurried forward. "Come
here," said the signor to him, and led the way to an inner hall. "Well?"
said he, stopping.--"All has been done according to your wishes,"
replied Nibbio, bowing. "The order in time, the young girl in time, no
one near the place, a single cry, no one alarmed, the coachman diligent,
the horses swift; but----"

"But what?"

"But, to say truth, I would rather have received orders to plunge a
dagger in her heart at once, than to have been obliged to look at her,
and hear her entreaties."

"What is this? What is this? What do you mean?"

"I would say that during the whole journey--yes, during the whole
journey--she has excited my compassion."

"Compassion! What dost thou know of compassion? What _is_ compassion?"

"I have never understood what it is until to-day; it is something like
fear; if it takes possession of one, one is no longer a man."

"Let me hear, then, what she has done to excite your compassion?"

"Oh, most illustrious signor, she wept, implored, and looked so
piteously; then turned pale, pale as death; then wept, and prayed again,
and said such words----"

"I will not have this girl in the castle," thought the Unknown. "I was
wrong to embark in this business; but I have promised, I have promised:
when she is far away----" And looking imperiously at Nibbio, "Now," said
he, "put an end to your compassion; mount a horse, take with you two or
three companions, if you wish; go to the castle of Don Roderick, thou
knowest it. Tell him to send immediately, immediately--or otherwise----"

But another _No_, more imperious than the first, whose sound was heard
in the depth of his soul, prevented his proceeding. "_No_," said he in a
determined tone, as if expressing the command of this secret
voice,--"_no_; go to bed; and to-morrow morning you shall do what I
shall then order."

"This girl must have some demon who protects her," thought he, as he
remained alone, with his arms crossed on his breast, regarding the
fitful shadows cast by the rays of the moon on the floor, which darted
through the grating of the lofty windows. "She must have some demon or
an angel who protects her. Compassion in Nibbio! To-morrow morning,
to-morrow morning at the latest, she shall be sent away; she must submit
to her destiny, that is certain. And," continued he, with the tone of
one who gives a command to a wayward child, under the conviction that he
will not obey it, "we will think of it no more. This animal Don Roderick
must not come to torment me with thanks, for--I do not wish to hear her
spoken of. I have served him--because I promised to do so; and I
promised, because it was my destiny. But Don Roderick shall pay me with
usury. Let us see----"

And he endeavoured to imagine some difficult enterprise in which to
engage Don Roderick as a punishment; but his thoughts involuntarily
recurred to another subject. "Compassion in Nibbio! What has she done? I
must see her. No! Yes! I must see her."

He passed through several halls, and arriving at the apartment of the
old woman, knocked with his foot at the door.

"Who is there?"

"Open."

At the sound of this voice, the old woman quickly obeyed, and flung the
door wide open. The Unknown threw a glance around the chamber, and by
the light of the lantern, which stood on the table, saw Lucy on the
floor in one corner of it.

"Why did you place her there?" said he, with a frowning brow.

"She placed herself there," replied she, timidly. "I have done all I
could to encourage her; but she will not listen to me."

"Rise," said he to Lucy, who, at the noise of his step, and at the sound
of his voice, had been seized with new terror. She buried her face in
her hands, and remained silent and trembling before him.

"Rise; I will not harm you; I can befriend you," said the signor.
"Rise!" repeated he, in a voice of thunder, irritated at having spoken
in vain.

As if alarm had restored her exhausted strength, the unfortunate girl
fell on her knees, clasped her hands on her breast, as if before a
sacred image, then with her eyes fixed on the earth, exclaimed, "Here I
am, murder me if you will."

"I have already told you that I will not harm you," replied the Unknown,
in a more gentle tone, gazing at her agonised and altered features.

"Courage, courage," said the old woman. "He tells you himself that he
will not harm you."

"And why," resumed Lucy, in a voice in which indignation and despair
were mingled with alarm and dismay,--"why make me suffer the torments of
hell? What have I done to you?"

"Perhaps they have not treated you kindly? Speak!"

"Oh, kindly treated! They have brought me hither by treachery and force.
Why, why did they bring me? Why am I here? Where am I? I am a poor
creature. What have I done to you? In the name of God----"

"God! God! always God!" said the Unknown. "Those who are too weak to
defend themselves, always make use of the name of God, as if they knew
something concerning him! What! do you mean by this word to make me----"
and he left the sentence unfinished.

"Oh, signor, what could I mean, a poor girl like me, except that you
should have pity on me? God pardons so many deeds for one act of mercy!
Let me go; for pity, for charity, let me go. Do not make a poor creature
suffer thus! Oh, you, who have it in your power, tell them to let me go.
They brought me hither by force. Put me again in the carriage with this
woman, and let it carry me to my mother. O holy Virgin! My mother! my
mother! Perhaps she is not far from here--I thought I saw my mountains!
Why do you make me suffer? Carry me to a church; I will pray for you all
my life. Does it cost you so much to say one word? Oh, I see that you
are touched! Say but the word, say it. God pardons so many deeds for one
act of mercy."

"Oh, why is she not the daughter of one of the cowards who outlawed
me?" thought the Unknown. "I should then enjoy her sufferings; but
now----"

"Do not stifle so good an inspiration," pursued Lucy, on seeing
hesitation in the countenance of her persecutor. "If you do not grant me
mercy, the Lord will; he will send death to relieve me, and all will be
over. But you--one day, perhaps, you also--but no, no--I will pray the
Lord to preserve you from evil. What would it cost you to say one word?
If ever you experience these torments----"

"Well, well, take courage," said the Unknown, with a gentleness that
astonished the old woman. "Have I done you any harm? Have I menaced
you?"

"Oh, no. I see that you have a good heart, and that you pity a poor
creature. If you chose, you could alarm me more than any of them, you
could make me die with fear; and on the contrary, you have--you have
given me some consolation. God reward you! Accomplish the work you have
begun; save me, save me."

"To-morrow morning."

"Oh, save me now, now!"

"To-morrow morning I will see you again, I tell you. Be of good courage.
Rest yourself. You must need food; it shall be brought to you."

"No, no, I shall die if any one comes into this room, I shall die. Take
me away, God will reward you."

"A servant will bring you something to eat," said the Unknown; "and
you," continued he, turning to the old woman, "persuade her to eat, and
to repose on the bed. If she consents to have you sleep with her, well;
if not, you can sleep very well on the floor. Be kind to her, I say; and
take care that she makes no complaint of you."

He hastily quitted the room, before Lucy could renew her entreaties.

"Oh, miserable that I am! Shut, shut the door!" said Lucy, returning to
seat herself in her corner. "Oh, miserable that I am! Who shall I
implore now? Where am I? Tell me, tell me, for charity, who is this
signor? Who has been talking to me? who is he?"

"Who is he? Do you wish me to tell you? you must wait awhile first. You
are proud, because he protects you; provided you are satisfied, no
matter what becomes of me. Ask _him_ his name. If I should tell you, he
would not speak to me so gently as he did to you. I am an old woman, I
am an old woman," continued she, grumbling: but hearing the sobs of
Lucy, she remembered the threat of her master; and addressing her in a
less bitter tone, "Well! I have said no harm. Be cheerful. Do not ask me
what I cannot tell you, but have courage. How satisfied most people
would be, should he speak to them as he has spoken to you! Be cheerful!
Directly, you shall have something to eat; and from what he said, I know
it will be something good. And then, you must lie down, and you will
leave a little room for me," added she, with an accent of suppressed
rancour.

"I cannot eat; I cannot sleep. Leave me, approach me not. You will not
go away?"

"No, no," said the old woman, seating herself on a large arm-chair, and
regarding her with a mingled expression of alarm and rage. She looked at
the bed, and did not very well relish the idea of being banished from it
for the night, as it was very cold; but she hoped at least for a good
supper. Lucy felt neither cold nor hunger; she remained stupified with
grief and terror; her ideas became vague and confused as in the delirium
of a fever.

She shuddered at hearing a knock at the door. "Who is there?" cried she,
"who is there? Don't let any one come in."

"It is only Martha, bringing something to eat."

"Shut, shut the door!" cried Lucy.

"Certainly," replied the old woman. Taking a basket from the hands of
Martha, she placed it on the table, and closed the door. She invited
Lucy to taste the delicious food, bestowing on it profuse praises, and
on the wine too, which was such as the signor himself drank with his
friends; but seeing that they were useless she said, "It is your own
fault, you _must_ not forget to tell him that I asked you. I will eat,
however, and leave enough for you, if you should come to your senses."
When her supper was finished she approached Lucy again, and renewed her
solicitations.

"No, no, I wish nothing," replied she, in a faint and exhausted voice.
"Is the door shut?" she exclaimed, with momentary energy; "is it well
secured?"

The old woman approached the door, and showed her that it was firmly
bolted. "You see," said she, "it is well fastened. Are you satisfied
now?"

"Oh! satisfied! satisfied! in this place!" said Lucy, sinking into her
corner. "But God knows that I am here."

"Come to bed. What would you do there, lying like a dog? How silly to
refuse comforts when you can have them!"

"No, no, leave me to myself."

"Well, remember it is your own fault; if you wish to come to bed, you
can--I have left room enough for you; remember I have asked you very
often." Thus saying, she drew the clothes over her, and soon all was
profound silence.

Lucy remained motionless, with her face buried in her hands, which
rested on her knees; she was neither awake nor asleep, but in a dreamy
state of the imagination, painful, vague, and changeful. At first, she
recalled with something of self-possession the minutest circumstances of
this horrible day; then her reason for a moment forsook its throne,
vainly struggling against the phantoms conjured by uncertainty and
terror; at last, weary and exhausted, she sunk on the floor, in a state
approaching to, and resembling, sleep. But suddenly she awoke, as at an
internal call, and strove to recall her scattered senses, to know where
she was, and why she had been brought thither. She heard a noise, and
listened; it was the heavy breathing of the old woman, in a deep
slumber; she opened her eyes on the objects around her, which the
flickering of the lamp, now dying in its socket, rendered confused and
indistinct. But soon her recent impressions returned distinctly to her
mind, and the unfortunate girl recognised her prison; and with the
knowledge came associated all the terrors of this horrible day; and,
overcome anew by anxiety and terror, she wished earnestly for death.
She could only pray, and as the words fell from her trembling lips, she
felt her confidence revive. Suddenly a thought presented itself to her
mind; that her prayer would be more acceptable if united with an
offering of something dear to her; she remembered the object to which
she had clung for her happiness, and resolved to sacrifice it; then
clasping her hands over her chaplet, which hung upon her neck, and
raising her tearful eyes to heaven, she cried, "O most holy Virgin! thou
to whom I have so often prayed, and who hast so often consoled me--thou
who hast suffered so much sorrow, and art now so glorious--thou who hast
performed so many miracles for the afflicted--holy Virgin! succour me,
take me from this peril, mother of God! return me safely to my mother,
and I pledge myself to remain devoted to thy service; I renounce for
ever the unfortunate youth, and from this time devote myself to thee!"
After this consecration of herself, she felt her confidence and faith
increase; she remembered the "_to-morrow morning_" uttered by the
Unknown, and took it as a promise of safety. Her wearied senses yielded
to this new sentiment, and she slept profoundly and peacefully with the
name of her protectress on her lips.

But in this same castle was one who could not sleep: after having
quitted Lucy, and given orders for her supper, he had visited the posts
of his fortress; but her image remained stamped on his mind, her words
still resounded in his ears. He retired to his chamber, and threw
himself on his bed; but in the stillness around this same image of Lucy
in her desolation and anguish took possession still more absolutely of
his thoughts, and rendered sleep hopeless. "What new feelings are
these?" thought he. "Nibbio was right; but what is there in a woman's
tears to unman me thus? Did I never see a woman weep before? Ay, and how
often have I beheld their deepest agonies unmoved? But now----"

And here he recalled, without much difficulty, many an instance when
neither prayers nor tears were able to make him swerve from his
atrocious purposes; but instead of deriving augmented resolution, as he
had hoped, from the recollection, he experienced an emotion of alarm, of
consternation; so that even, as a relief from the torment of
retrospection, he thought of Lucy. "She lives still," said he, "she is
here; there is yet time. I have it in my power to say to her, Go in
peace! I can also ask her forgiveness. Forgiveness! I ask forgiveness of
a woman! Ah, if in that word existed the power to drive this demon from
my soul, I would say it; yes, I feel that I would say it. To what am I
reduced? I am no longer myself! Well, well! many a time have such
follies passed through my head; this will take its flight also."

And to procure the desired forgetfulness, he endeavoured to busy himself
with some new project; but in vain: all appeared changed! that which at
another time would have been a stimulus to action, had now lost its
charm; his imagination was overwhelmed with the insupportable weight of
remembered crimes. Even the idea of continuing to associate with those
whom he had employed as the instruments of his daring and licentious
will was revolting to his soul; and, disgusted and weary, he found
relief only in the thought that by the dawn of morning he would set at
liberty the unfortunate Lucy.

"I will save her; yes, I will save her. As soon as the day breaks, I
will fly to her, and say, Go, go in peace. But my promise! Ay, who is
Don Roderick that I should hold sacred a promise made to _him_?" With
the perplexity of a man to whom a superior addresses unexpectedly an
embarrassing question, the Unknown endeavoured to reply to this his own,
or, rather, that was whispered by this new principle, that had of a
sudden sprung up so awfully in his soul, to pass judgment upon him. He
wondered how he could have resolved to engage himself to inflict
suffering, without any motive of hatred or fear, on an unfortunate being
whom he did not know, only to render a service to this man. He could not
find any excuse for it; he could not even imagine how he had been led to
do it. The hasty determination had been the impulse of a mind obedient
to its habitual feelings, the consequence of a thousand previous deeds;
and from an examination of the motives which had led him to commit a
single deed, he was led to the retrospection of his whole life.

In looking back from year to year, from enterprise to enterprise, from
crime to crime, from blood to blood, each one of his actions appeared
abstracted from the feelings which had induced their perpetration, and
therefore exposed in all their horrible deformity, but which those
feelings had hitherto veiled from his view. They were all his own, he
was responsible for all; they comprised his life; the horror of this
thought filled him with despair; he grasped his pistol, and raised it to
his head--but at the moment in which he would have terminated his
miserable existence, his thoughts rushed onwards to the time that must
continue to flow on after his end. He thought of his disfigured corpse,
without sense or motion, in the power of the vilest men; the
astonishment and confusion which would take place in the castle, the
conversation it would excite in the neighbourhood and afar off, and,
more than all, the rejoicing of his enemies. The darkness and silence of
the night inspired him with other apprehensions still; it appeared to
him that he would not have hesitated to perform the deed in open day, in
the presence of others. "And, after all, what was it? but a moment, and
all would be over." And now another thought rose to his mind: "If that
other life, of which they tell, is an invention of priests, is a mere
fabrication, why should I die? Of what consequence is all that I have
done? It is a trifle--but if there should be another life!"

At such a doubt, he was filled with deeper despair, a despair from which
death appeared no refuge. The pistol dropped from his grasp--both hands
were applied to his aching head--and he trembled in every limb. Suddenly
the words he had heard a few hours before came to his memory, "God
pardons so many deeds for one act of mercy." They did not come to him
clothed in the humble tone of supplication, with which he had heard them
pronounced, but in one of authority which offered some gleam of hope. It
was a moment of relief: he brought to mind the figure of Lucy, when she
uttered them; and he regarded her, not as a suppliant, but as an angel
of consolation. He waited with anxiety the approach of day, that he
might hear from her mouth other words of hope and life. He imagined
himself conducting her to her mother, "And then, what shall I do
to-morrow? what shall I do for the rest of the day? what shall I do the
day after, and the next day? and the night? the night which will so soon
return? Oh, the night! let me not think of the night!" And, plunged in
the frightful void of the future, he sought in vain for some employment
of time, some method of living through the days and nights. Now he
thought of abandoning his castle, and flying to some distant country,
where he had never been heard of; but, could he fly from himself? Then
he felt a confused hope of recovering his former courage and habits; and
that he should regard these terrors of his soul but as a transient
delirium: now, he dreaded the approach of day, which should exhibit him
so miserably changed to his followers; then he longed for its light, as
if it would bring light also to his troubled thoughts. As the day broke,
a confused sound of merriment broke upon his ear. He listened; it was a
distant chiming of bells, and he could hear the echo of the mountains
repeat the harmony, and mingle itself with it. From another quarter,
still nearer, and then from another, similar sounds were heard. "What
means this?" said he. "For what are these rejoicings? What joyful event
has taken place?" He rose from his bed of thorns, and opened the window.

The mountains were still half veiled in darkness, the heavens appeared
enveloped in a heavy and vast cloud; but he distinguished, through the
faint dawn of the morning, crowds passing towards the opening on the
right of the castle, villagers in their holyday garments. "What are
those people doing? what has happened to cause all this joy?" And
calling a bravo, who slept in the adjoining room, he asked him the cause
of the commotion. The man replied that he was ignorant of it, but would
go immediately and enquire. His master remained at the window,
contemplating the moving spectacle, which increasing day rendered more
distinct every moment. He saw crowds passing in succession; men, women,
and children, as guided by one impulse, directing their steps in one
direction. They appeared animated by a common joy; and the bells, with
their united sound of merriment, seemed to be an echo of the general
hilarity. The Unknown looked on intently, and felt an eager curiosity to
know what could have communicated such happiness to such a multitude of
people.



CHAPTER XXII.


The bravo hastened back with the intelligence, that the Cardinal
Frederick Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan, had arrived the evening before
at ***, and was expected to pass the day there. The report of his
arrival being spread abroad, the people had been seized with a desire to
see him; and the bells were rung in testimony of the happiness his
presence conferred, and also to give wider notice of his arrival. The
Unknown, left alone, continued to look down into the valley--"For a man!
all crowding, all eager to see a man! And, nevertheless, each one of
them has some demon that torments him; but none, none, a demon like
mine; not one has passed such a night as I have. What is there in this
man to excite such joy? Some silver which he will scatter among
them.--But _all_ are not actuated by such a motive. Well, a few
words--Oh! if he had a few words of consolation for me! Yes--why should
I not go to him? Why not? I _will_ go. What better can I do? I will go
and speak to him; speak to him alone. What shall I say to him? Why, why,
that which----I will hear what he will say to me."

Having come to this vague determination, he threw over his shoulders a
military cloak, put his pistol and dagger in his girdle, and took from
the wall, where it hung, a carabine almost as famous as himself; thus
accoutred, he proceeded to Lucy's chamber, and leaving his carabine at
the door, he knocked and demanded admittance. The old woman hastened to
open the door; he entered, and looking around the room saw Lucy tranquil
and silent in the corner of it.

"Does she sleep?" asked he in a low voice. "Why did you suffer her to
sleep there? Were these my orders?"

"I did all I could; but she would neither eat nor come----"

"Let her sleep then in peace; be careful not to trouble her, and when
she wakes--Martha will be in the next chamber, and you must send her for
whatever she may want--when she wakes--tell her I----that the signor has
gone out for a little while, that he will return, and that--he will do
all that she wishes."

The old woman was astonished; "She must be some princess," thought she.

The Unknown departed, took his carabine, gave orders to Martha to be in
waiting, and to a bravo to guard the chamber, and not suffer any one to
approach; then leaving the castle, with rapid steps he descended into
the valley. The bravoes whom he met ascending the hill, stopped
respectfully at his approach, expecting and awaiting orders for some
expedition, and were astonished at his whole appearance, and the looks
with which he returned their salute.

When he reached the public road, his presence made a very different
impression; at his approach every one gave way, regarding him with looks
of suspicion and wonder; each individual whom he met, cast at him a
troubled look, bowed, and slackened his pace, in order to remain behind.
He arrived at the village in the midst of the throng; his name quickly
spread from mouth to mouth, and a passage was instantly made for him to
pass. He enquired of one near him where the cardinal was. "In the house
of the curate," replied the person, respectfully pointing to it. He went
to it, entered a small court where there were several priests, who
looked at him with astonishment and suspicion. He saw, opposite to him,
a door open, which led to a small hall, in which were also a great
collection of priests. He left his carabine in a corner of the court,
and entered the hall. He was received here, likewise, with doubting
looks, and whispers; and his name was repeated with infinite awe. He
accosted one of them, asking to be directed to the cardinal, as he
wished to speak with him.

"I am a stranger," replied the priest; and looking around upon the
assembly, he called the cross-bearer, who at the time was saying to one
near him, "He here!--the famous----What can have brought him here? Make
room!" At this call, which resounded in the general silence, he felt
himself compelled to advance. He bowed before the Unknown, raised his
eyes in uneasy curiosity to his face, and understanding his request, he
stammered out, "I do not know if his illustrious lordship--at this
time--is--can--however, I will go and see." And he went, against his
will, to carry the message to the cardinal.

At this period of our history we cannot do otherwise than rest a while,
as the traveller worn out and weary with a long journey through a
sterile and savage land, refreshes himself for a season under the shade
of a tree, near a fountain of living water. We are about to introduce a
person whose name and memory cause an emotion of respect and sympathy;
and this emotion is the more grateful from our previous contemplation of
wickedness and crime. We trust our readers will excuse our devoting a
few moments to this great and good man.

Frederick Borromeo, born in the year 1564, was one of those rare
characters who have employed a fine genius, the resources of great
wealth, the advantages of privileged rank, and unceasing industry, for
the discovery and practice of that which was for the good of mankind.
His life was like a stream, which, issuing limpid from its native rock,
moves on undefiled over various lands; and, clear and limpid still,
unites itself with the ocean. In the midst of the pomps and pleasures of
the world, he applied himself from his earliest youth to study and obey
the precepts of religion; and this application produced in his heart its
legitimate fruits. He took truth for the rule of his thoughts and
actions. He was taught by it not to look upon this life as a burthen to
the many, and a pleasure to the few; but as a scene of activity for all,
and of which all must render their account; and the chief aim of his
thoughts had ever been to render his life useful and holy.

In 1580, he declared his resolution to devote himself to the ministry of
the church, and he took the habit from the hands of his cousin Carlos,
whom the public voice, even to the present day, has uniformly
acknowledged as a saint.[31] He entered a short time after into the
college at Pavia, founded by that holy man, and which still bears the
name of the family. There, whilst applying himself with assiduity to the
occupations prescribed by its rules, he voluntarily imposed on himself,
in addition, the task of instructing the poor and ignorant in the
principles of the Christian religion, and of visiting, consoling, and
aiding the sick. He made use of the authority which was conceded to him
by all, to induce his companions to second him in these deeds of
benevolence; he steadily refused all worldly advantages, and led a life
of self-denial and devotion to the cause of religion and virtue. The
complaints of his kindred, who thought the dignity of the house degraded
by his plain and simple habits of life, were unavailing. He had another
conflict to sustain with the ecclesiastical authorities, who wished to
impel him forward to distinction, and make him appear as the prince of
the place. From all this, however, he carefully withdrew himself,
although at the time but a youth.

      [31] Saint Charles Borromeo.

It would not have been astonishing that, during the life of his cousin
Carlos, Frederick should have imitated the example and followed the
counsel of so good a man; but it was surprising, that after his death no
one could perceive that Frederick, although only twenty years of age,
had lost his guardian and guide. The increasing splendour of his
talents, his piety, the support of many powerful cardinals, the
authority of his family, the name itself, to which Carlos had caused to
be associated an idea of sanctity and sacerdotal superiority, all
concurred to point him out as a proper subject for ecclesiastical
dignity. But he, persuaded in the depth of his soul of that which no
true Christian can deny, that a man has no real superiority over
others, but in devotion to their good, dreaded distinction, and sought
to avoid it. He did not wish to escape from the obligation to serve his
neighbour; his life was but one scene of such services; but he did not
esteem himself worthy of so high and responsible an office. Governed by
such feelings, in 1595, when Clement VIII. offered him the archbishopric
of Milan, he refused it without hesitation, but was finally obliged to
yield to the express command of the pope.

Such demonstrations are neither difficult nor rare; it is no greater
effort for hypocrisy to assume them, than for raillery to deride them.
But are they not also the natural expression of wise and virtuous
feeling? The life is the test of sincerity; and though all the
hypocrites in the world had assumed the expression of virtuous
sentiments, yet the sentiments themselves will always command our
respect and veneration, when their genuineness is evinced by a life of
disinterestedness and self-sacrifice.

Frederick, as archbishop, was careful to reserve for himself only that
which was barely necessary, of his time and his wealth: he said, as all
the world says, that the ecclesiastical revenues are the patrimony of
the poor; and we shall see how he put this maxim in practice. He caused
an estimate to be made of the sum necessary for his expenses, and for
those employed in his service: finding it to be 600 sequins, he ordered
that amount to be taken from his patrimonial revenues for the supply of
his table. He exercised such minute economy with regard to himself, that
he did not relinquish any article of dress until it was entirely worn
out; but he joined to these habits of extreme simplicity, an exquisite
neatness, which was remarkable in this age of luxury and uncleanliness.
He did more: in order that nothing should be lost from the fragments of
his frugal table, he assigned them to a hospital for the poor, and a
servant came every day to gather the remnants for that purpose. From the
attention which he paid to such minutiæ, we might form a contracted idea
of his mind, as being incapable of elevating itself to more extensive
designs, were it not for the Ambrosian library, which remains a monument
of his liberality and magnificence. To furnish it with books and
manuscripts, besides those which he had already collected, he sent eight
of the most skilful and learned men to make purchases of them in France,
Spain, Germany, Italy, Flanders, Greece, Lebanon, and Jerusalem. He
succeeded in collecting 30,000 printed volumes, and 14,000 manuscripts.
He joined to the library a college of doctors: these doctors were nine
in number, and supported by him as long as he lived; after his death,
the ordinary revenues not being sufficient for the expense, they were
reduced to two. Their duty consisted in the cultivation of the various
branches of human knowledge, theology, history, belles lettres,
ecclesiastical antiquities, and Oriental languages. Each one was obliged
to publish some work on the subject to which he had particularly applied
himself. He added to this a college, which he called _Trilingue_[32],
for the study of the Greek, Latin, and Italian languages; and a college
of pupils, who were instructed in these languages to become professors
in their turn. He united to these also a printing establishment for the
Oriental languages, for Hebrew, Chaldee, Arabic, Persian, and Armenian;
a gallery of pictures, and another of statues; and a school for the
three principal arts of design. For the latter, he was at no loss to
find professors; but this was not the case with regard to the Eastern
languages, which were at this time but little cultivated in Europe. In
the orders which he left for the government and regulations of the
library, we perceive a perpetual attention to utility, admirable in
itself, and much in advance of the ordinary ideas of his time. He
prescribed to the librarian the cultivation of a regular correspondence
with the learned men of Europe, to keep himself acquainted with the
state of science, and to procure every new and important work; he also
charged him to point out to young students the books necessary for them,
and, whether natives or foreigners, to afford them every possible
facility in making use of those of the library. There is a history of
the Ambrosian library by one Pierpaolo Bosca, who was librarian after
the death of Frederick, in which all the excellent regulations are
minutely detailed. Other libraries existed in Italy, but with little
benefit to the studious: the books were carefully concealed from view in
their cases, and inaccessible to all, except on rare occasions, and with
the utmost difficulty. A book might then be seen, but not studied. It is
useless to enquire what were the fruits of these establishments of
Borromeo, but we must admire the generosity, judgment, and benevolence
of the man who could undertake and execute such things, in the midst of
the ignorance, inertness, and general indifference which surrounded him.
And in attention to public, he was not unmindful of private benevolence;
indeed, his whole life was a perpetual almsgiving; on the occasion of
the famine of which our history has spoken, we may have to relate more
than one instance of his wisdom and generosity.

      [32] Three languages.

The inexhaustible charity of the man shone as much in his private
charities, as in his splendid and magnificent public establishments
already recorded. On one occasion he saved a young lady from being
immured in a convent against her wish. Her selfish father pretended he
could not marry her suitably without a portion of 4000 crowns. The
bishop advanced the money.

Easy of access, he made it a principle to receive the poor who applied
to him, with kindness and affection. And on this point he was obliged to
dispute with the nobility, who wished to keep him to their standard of
action. One day, whilst visiting among the mountaineers, and instructing
some poor children, Frederick bestowed caresses on them. A nobleman who
was present, warned him to be careful, as the children were dirty and
disgusting. The good bishop, not without indignation, replied, "These
souls are committed to my care; these children may never see me again;
and are you not willing that I should embrace them?"

He, however, seldom felt indignation or anger: he was admired for a
placability, a sweetness of manner nearly imperturbable; which, however,
was not natural to him, but the effect of continual combat against a
quick and hasty disposition. If ever he appeared harsh, it was to those
subordinate pastors, whom he found guilty of avarice, or negligence, or
any other vice opposed to the spirit of their high calling. With regard
to his own interests or temporal glory, he exhibited no emotion, either
of joy or regret; admirable indeed, if his spirit was in reality not
affected by these emotions; but more admirable still, if viewed as the
result of continued and unremitted effort to subdue them. And amidst all
the important cares with which he was occupied, he did not neglect the
cultivation of his mind; he devoted himself to literature with so much
ardour, that he became one of the most learned men of his time.

We must not, however, conceal that he adopted with firm persuasion, and
maintained with constancy, certain opinions, which at this day would
appear singular and ill-founded; these, however, were the errors of his
time, and not his own.

Our readers may perhaps enquire, if so learned and studious a man has
left no monument of his labours and studies? His works, great and small,
Latin and Italian, printed as well as manuscript, amount to more than a
hundred; they are preserved with care in the library which he founded.
They are composed of moral treatises, sermons, historical dissertations,
sacred and profane antiquities, literature, the fine arts, &c.

And what is the reason that they are so little known, so little sought
for? We cannot enter into the causes of this phenomenon, as our
explanation might not be satisfactory to our readers. So that we had
better resume the course of our history, in relating facts concerning
this extraordinary man.



CHAPTER XXIII.


The Cardinal Frederick was engaged in study, as was his custom,
preparatory to the hour of divine service, when the cross-bearer
entered, with a disturbed and unquiet air.

"A strange visit,--strange indeed, most illustrious signor."

"From whom?" asked the cardinal.

"From the signor ----," replied the chaplain; pronouncing the name which
we are unable to repeat to our readers. "He is without, in person, and
asks admittance to the presence of your lordship."

"Indeed!" said the cardinal, closing his book and rising from his seat,
his countenance brightening; "let him come in, let him come in
immediately."

"But----," replied the chaplain, "does your lordship know who this man
is? It is the famous outlaw ----."

"And is it not a happy circumstance for a bishop, that such a man should
have come to seek him?"

"But----," insisted the chaplain, "we never dare speak of certain
things, because my lord says they are idle tales. However, in this case
it appears to be a duty----. Zeal makes enemies, my lord, and we know
that more than one ruffian has boasted that sooner or later----"

"And what have they done?"

"This man is an enterprising, desperate villain, who is in strict
correspondence with other villains, as desperate as himself, and who,
perhaps, have sent him----"

"Oh! what discipline is this!" said the cardinal, smiling; "the soldiers
exhort the general to cowardice!" Then, with a grave and pensive air, he
resumed, "Saint Carlo would not have deliberated a moment, whether he
should receive such a man; he would have gone to seek him. Let him enter
immediately; he has already waited too long."

The chaplain moved towards the door, saying in his heart, "There is no
remedy; these saints are always obstinate."

He opened the door, and reaching the hall, where he had left the
ecclesiastics, he beheld them collected together in one corner of the
room, and the Unknown standing alone in another. As he approached him,
he eyed him keenly to ascertain whether he had not arms concealed about
his person. "Truly, before introducing him, we might at least
propose----," but his resolution failed him. He spoke--"My lord expects
your lordship. Be kind enough to come with me." And he led the way into
the presence of Frederick, who came forward to meet the Unknown with a
pleased and serene countenance, making a sign to the chaplain to quit
the room.

The Unknown and the cardinal remained for some moments silent and
undecided; the former experienced at the same time a vague hope of
finding some relief to his internal torments, and also a degree of
irritation and shame at appearing in this place as a penitent, to
confess his sins, and implore pardon of a man. He could not speak;
indeed, he hardly wished to do so. However, as he raised his eyes to the
cardinal's face, he was seized with an irresistible sentiment of
respect, which increasing his confidence, and subduing his pride without
offending it, nevertheless kept him silent.

The person of Frederick was indeed fitted to inspire respect and love.
His figure was naturally majestic and noble, and was neither bent nor
wasted by years; his eye was grave and piercing, his brow serene and
pensive; his countenance still shone with the animation of youth,
notwithstanding the paleness of his face, and the visible traces it
presented of abstinence, meditation, and laborious exertion. All his
features indicated that he had once been more than ordinarily handsome;
the habit of solemn and benevolent thought, the internal peace of a long
life, love for mankind, and the influence of an ineffable hope, had
substituted for the beauty of youth, the more dignified and superior
beauty of an old age, to which the magnificent simplicity of the
_purple_ added an imposing and inexpressible charm. He kept his eyes for
a few moments fixed on the Unknown, as if to read his thoughts; and
imagining he perceived in his dark and troubled features something
corresponding to the hope he had conceived, "Oh!" cried he in an
animated voice, "what a welcome visit is this! and how I ought to thank
you for it, although it fills me with self-reproach."

"Reproach!" cried the Unknown, in astonishment; but he felt re-assured
by his manner, and the gentleness of his words, and he was glad that the
cardinal had broken the ice, and commenced the conversation.

"Certainly, it is a subject of self-reproach that I should have waited
till you came to me! How many times I might, and ought to have sought
_you_!"

"You! seek _me_! Do you know who I am? Have they told you my name?"

"Do you believe I could have felt this joy, which you may read in my
countenance--do you believe I could have felt it, at the sight of one
unknown to me? It is you who are the cause of it--you, whom it was my
duty to seek--you, for whom I have so wept and prayed--you, who are that
one of my children (and I love them all with the whole strength of my
affections)--that one, whom I would most have desired to see and
embrace, if I could have ever dared to indulge the hope of so doing. But
God alone can work miracles, and he supplies the weakness and tardiness
of his poor servants."

The Unknown was amazed at the kindness and warmth of this reception;
agitated and bewildered by such unlooked-for benevolence, he kept
silence.

"And," resumed Frederick, more affectionately, "you have some good news
for me; why do you hesitate to tell it me?"

"Good news! I! I have hell in my soul, and how can I bring _you_ good
news! Tell me, tell me, if you know, what good news could you expect
from such a one as I?"

"That God has touched your heart, and is drawing you to himself,"
replied the cardinal calmly.

"God! God! If I could see! If I could hear him! Where is God?"

"Do you ask me? you! And who more than yourself has felt his presence?
Do you not now feel him in your heart, disturbing, agitating you, not
leaving you a moment of repose, and at the same time drawing you towards
him, and imparting a hope of tranquillity and of consolation; of
consolation which shall be full and unlimited, as soon as you
acknowledge _Him_, confess your sins, and implore his mercy!"

"Oh! yes, yes; something indeed oppresses, something consumes me. But
God--if it be God, if it be He, of whom you speak, what can he do with
me?"

These words were uttered in a tone of despair; but Frederick calmly and
solemnly replied, "What can God do with you? Through you he can exhibit
his power and goodness. He would draw from you a glory, which none other
could render him; you, against whom, the cries of the world have been
for so long a time raised--you, whose deeds are detested----" (The
Unknown started at this unaccustomed language, but was astonished to
find that it excited no anger in his bosom, but rather communicated to
it a degree of alleviation.) "What glory," pursued Frederick, "will
accrue to God? A general cry of supplication has risen against you
before his throne; among your accusers, some no doubt have been
stimulated by jealousy of the power you have exercised; but more, by the
deplorable security of your own heart, which has endured until this day.
But, when _you_ yourself shall rise to condemn your life, and become
your own accuser, then, oh! then, God will be glorified! And you ask
what he can do with you? What am I, feeble mortal! that I should presume
to tell you what are his designs respecting you; what he will do with
this impetuous will, and imperturbable constancy, when he shall have
animated and warmed it with love, hope, and repentance? Who are you,
feeble mortal, that you should think yourself able to execute and
imagine greater things for the promotion of evil and vice, than God can
make you accomplish for that of good and virtue? What can God do with
you? Forgive you! save you! accomplish in you the work of redemption!
Are not these things worthy of him? Oh! speak. If I, an humble
creature--I, so miserable, and nevertheless so full of myself--I, such
as I am,--if I so rejoice at your salvation, that to assure it, I would
joyfully give (God is my witness) the few years that remain to me in
life, Oh! think! what must be the love of Him who inspires me with the
thought, and commands me to regard you with such devotion as this!"

The countenance and manner of Frederick breathed celestial purity and
love, in accordance with the vows which came from his mouth. The Unknown
felt the stormy emotions of his soul gradually calming under such
heavenly influence, and giving place to sentiments of deep and profound
interest. His eyes, which from infancy "had been unused to tears, became
swoln;" and burying his face in his hands, he wept the reply he could
not utter.

"Great and good God!" cried Frederick, raising his hands and eyes to
heaven, "what have I ever done--I, thy unprofitable servant--that thou
shouldst have invited me to this banquet of thy grace,--that thou
shouldst have thought me worthy of being thy instrument to the
accomplishment of such a miracle!" So saying, he extended his hand to
take that of the Unknown.

"No!" cried he; "no! Approach me not! Pollute not that innocent and
beneficent hand! You know not what deeds have been committed by the hand
you would place within your own!"

"Suffer," said Frederick, taking it with gentle violence,--"suffer me to
clasp this hand, which is about to repair so many wrongs, to scatter so
many blessings; which will comfort so many who are in affliction, which
will offer itself, peaceably and humbly, to so many enemies."

"It is too much," said the Unknown, sobbing aloud; "leave me, my lord!
good Frederick! leave me! Crowds eagerly await your presence, among whom
are pure and innocent souls, who have come from far to see and hear you,
and you remain here to converse----with whom?"

"We will leave the ninety and nine sheep," replied the cardinal; "they
are in safety on the mountain. I must now remain with the one which was
lost. These people are perhaps now more satisfied than if they had the
poor bishop with them; perhaps God, who has visited you with the riches
and wonders of his grace, may even now be filling their hearts with a
joy, of which they divine not the cause; perhaps they are united to us
without knowing it; perhaps the Holy Spirit animates their hearts with
the fervour of charity and benevolence; inspires them with a spirit of
prayer; with, on your account, a spirit of thanksgiving of which you are
the unknown object."

So saying, he passed his arm around the neck of the Unknown, who, after
resisting a moment, yielded, quite vanquished by this impulse of
kindness, and fell on the neck of the cardinal, in an agony of
repentance. His burning tears dropped on the stainless purple of
Frederick, and the pure hands of the bishop were clasped affectionately
around him, who had hitherto been only habituated to deeds of violence
and treachery.

The Unknown, after a long embrace, covering his face with his hands,
raised his head, exclaiming, "Oh! God! Thou who art truly great and
good! I know myself now; I comprehend what I am; my iniquities are all
before me; I abhor myself; but still--still I experience a consolation,
a joy--yes, a joy which I have never before known in all my horrible
life!"

"God accords to you this grace," said Frederick, "to attract you to his
service, to strengthen you to enter resolutely the new way he has opened
to you, where you have so much to undo, to repair, to weep for!"

"Miserable that I am!" cried he, "there is so much--so much--that I can
only weep over. But at least, there are some things but just undertaken,
that I can arrest--yes, there is at least one evil that I can repair."

He then briefly related, in the most energetic terms of self-execration,
the story of Lucy, with the sufferings and terrors of the unfortunate
girl; her entreaties, and the species of frenzy that her supplications
had excited in his soul; adding, that she was still in the castle.

"Ah! let us lose no time!" cried Frederick, moved with pity and
solicitude. "What happiness for you! You may behold in this, the pledge
of pardon! God makes you the instrument of safety to her, to whom you
were to have been the instrument of ruin. God has indeed blessed
you!--Do you know the native place of the unhappy girl?"

The Unknown named the village.

"It is not far from this," said the cardinal; "God be praised! And
probably----" so saying, he approached a table, and rang a little bell.
The chaplain entered, with an unquiet look; in amazement he beheld the
altered countenance of the Unknown, on which the traces of tears were
still visible; and glancing at that of the cardinal, he perceived,
through its wonted calmness, an expression of great satisfaction,
mingled with extraordinary solicitude. He was roused from the
astonishment which the contemplation excited, by a question of the
cardinal, if, among the curates in the hall, "there was one from ***?"

"There is, most illustrious lord," replied the chaplain.

"Bring him hither immediately," said Frederick, "and with him, the
curate of this parish."

The chaplain obeyed, and went to the hall where the priests were
assembled. All eyes were turned towards him. He cried aloud, "His most
illustrious and reverend lordship asks for the curate of this parish and
the curate of ***."

The former advanced immediately, and at the same time was heard, amidst
the crowd, a _me?_ uttered in a tone of surprise.

"Are you not the curate of ***?" said the chaplain.

"Certainly; but----"

"His most illustrious and reverend lordship asks for you."

"Me?" replied he, and Don Abbondio advanced from the crowd with an air
of amazement and anxiety. The chaplain led the way, and introduced them
both to the presence of the cardinal.

The cardinal let go the hand of the Unknown as they entered, and taking
the curate of the parish aside, related in few words the facts of the
story, asking him if he knew some kind female, who would be willing to
go to the castle in a litter, to remove Lucy thence; a devoted,
charitable woman, capable of acting with judgment in so novel an
expedition, and of exerting the best means to tranquillise the poor
girl, to whom deliverance itself, after such anguish and alarm, might
produce new and overwhelming apprehensions. After having reflected a
moment, the curate took upon himself the affair, and departed. The
cardinal then ordered the chaplain to have a litter prepared, and two
mules ready saddled. The chaplain quitted the room to obey his orders,
and the cardinal was left alone with Don Abbondio and the Unknown. The
former, who had kept himself aloof, regarding with eager curiosity the
faces of the Unknown and the cardinal, now came forward, saying, "I was
told that your illustrious lordship wished to see me; but I suppose it
was a mistake."

"There is no mistake;" replied Frederick, "I have both a novel and
agreeable commission to give you. One of your parishioners, whom you
have regarded as lost, Lucy Mondella, is found; she is near this, in the
house of my good friend here. I wish you to go with him, and a good
woman whom the curate of this parish will provide, and bring the poor
girl, who must be so dear to you, to this place."

Don Abbondio did his best to conceal the extreme alarm which such a
proposition caused him; and bowed profoundly, in sign of obedience,
first to the cardinal, and then to the Unknown, but with a piteous look,
which seemed to say, "I am in your hands; be merciful: _parcere
subjectis_."

The cardinal asked him of Lucy's relations.

"She has no near relation but her mother, with whom she lives," replied
Don Abbondio.

"Is _she_ at home?"

"Yes, my lord."

"Since," replied Frederick, "this poor child cannot yet go home, it
would be a great consolation for her to see her mother; if the curate of
this village does not return before I go to church, I beg you will
desire him to send some prudent person to bring the good woman hither."

"Perhaps I had better go myself," said Don Abbondio.

"No, no; I have other employment for you."

"Her mother," resumed Don Abbondio, "is a very sensitive woman, and it
will require a good deal of discretion to prepare her for the meeting."

"That is the reason that I have named some prudent person. You, however,
will be more useful elsewhere," replied the cardinal. He could have
added, had he not been deterred by a regard to the feelings of the
Unknown--"This poor child needs much to behold some person whom she
knows, after so many hours of alarm, and in such terrible uncertainty of
the future."

It appeared strange, however, that Don Abbondio should not have inferred
it from his manner, or that he should not have thought so himself; the
reluctance he evinced to comply with the request of the cardinal
appeared so out of place, that the latter imagined there must be some
secret cause for it. He looked at the curate attentively, and quickly
discovering the fears of the poor man at becoming the companion of this
formidable lord, or entering his abode, even for a few moments, he felt
an anxiety to dissipate these terrors; and in order to do this, and not
injure the feelings of his new friend by talking privately to Don
Abbondio in his presence, he addressed his conversation to the Unknown
himself, so that Don Abbondio might perceive by his answers, that he was
no longer a man to be feared.

"Do not believe," said he, "that I shall be satisfied with this visit
to-day. You will return, will you not, in company with this worthy
ecclesiastic?"

"_Will_ I return!" replied the Unknown: "Oh! if ever you should refuse
to see me, I would remain at your door as a beggar. I must talk to you,
I must hear you, I must see you, I cannot do without you!"

Frederick took his hand, and pressing it affectionately, said, "Do us
the favour, then, the curate of the village and myself, to dine with us;
I shall expect you. In the mean time, whilst you are gathering the first
fruits of repentance and compassion, I will go and offer supplications
and thanksgivings to God with the people."

Don Abbondio, at this exhibition of confidence and affection, was like a
timid child, who beholds a man caressing fearlessly a rough-looking
mastiff, renowned for his ferocity and strength. It is in vain that the
master assures him the dog is a good quiet beast: he looks at him,
neither contradicting nor assenting; he looks at the dog, and dares not
approach him, lest the good beast might show his teeth, if only from
habit; he dares not retreat, from fear of the imputation of cowardice;
but he heartily wishes himself safe "at home!"

The cardinal, as he was quitting the room, still holding the Unknown by
the hand, perceived that the curate remained behind, embarrassed and
motionless, and thinking that perhaps he was mortified at the little
attention that was paid to him, compared with that which was bestowed on
one so criminal, he turned towards him, stopped a moment, and with an
amiable smile said, "Signor Curate, you have always been with me in the
house of our Father; but this man _perierat, et inventus est_."

"Oh! how I rejoice at it!" said the curate, bowing to them both very
reverently.

The archbishop passed on, and entering the hall, the admirable pair
presented themselves to the eager gaze of the clergy who were there
assembled. They regarded with intense curiosity those two countenances,
on which were depicted different, but equally profound emotions. The
venerable features of Frederick breathed a grateful and humble joy; in
those of the Unknown might be traced an embarrassment blended with
satisfaction, an unusual modesty, a keen remorse, through which,
however, the lingerings of his severe and savage nature were apparent.
More than one of the spectators thought of that passage of Isaiah, "The
wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with
the kid." Behind them came Don Abbondio, whom no one noticed.

When they had reached the middle of the apartment, the servant of the
cardinal entered, to inform him that he had executed the orders of the
chaplain, that the litter was ready, and that they only waited for the
female whom the curate was to bring. The cardinal told him to inform Don
Abbondio when the curate should have arrived, and that afterwards all
would be subject to his orders and those of the Unknown, to whom he bade
an affectionate farewell, saying, "I shall expect you." Bowing to Don
Abbondio, he directed his steps, followed by the clergy in procession,
to the church.

Don Abbondio and the Unknown were left alone in the apartment; the
latter was absorbed in his own thoughts, impatient for the moment to
arrive when he should take _his_ Lucy from sorrow and prison; for she
was indeed _his_ Lucy, but in a sense very different from the preceding
night. His countenance expressed concentrated agitation, which to the
suspicious eye of Don Abbondio appeared something worse: he looked at
him with a desire to begin a friendly conversation. "But what can I say
to him?" thought he. "Shall I repeat to him that I rejoice? I rejoice!
at what? That having been a demon, he has formed the resolution to
become an honest man? A pretty salutation, indeed! Eh! eh! _however_ I
should arrange my words, my _I rejoice_ would signify nothing else! And
can one believe that he has become an honest man all in a moment!
Assertions prove nothing; it is so easy to make them! But, nevertheless,
I must go with him to the castle! Oh! who would have told me this, this
morning! Oh! if ever I am so happy as to get home again, Perpetua shall
answer for having urged me to come here! Oh! miserable that I am! I must
however say something to this man!" He had at least thought of something
to say,--"I never expected the pleasure of being in such respectable
company,"--and had opened his mouth to speak, when the servant entered
with the curate of the village, who informed them that the good woman
was in the litter awaiting them. Don Abbondio, approaching the servant,
said to him, "Give me a gentle beast, for, to say truth, I am not a
skilful horseman."

"Be quite easy," replied the valet, with a smile; "it is the mule of the
secretary, a grave man of letters."

"Well," replied Don Abbondio, and continued to himself, "Heaven preserve
me!"

The Unknown had advanced towards the door, but looking back, and seeing
Don Abbondio behind, he suddenly recollected himself, and bowing with a
polite and humble air, waited to let him pass before. This circumstance
re-assured the poor man a little; but he had scarcely reached the little
court, when he saw the Unknown resume his carbine, and fling it over his
shoulder, as if performing the military exercise.

"Oh! oh! oh!" thought Don Abbondio, "what does he want with this tool?
That is a strange ornament for a converted person! And if some whim
should enter his head! what would become of me! what would become of
me!"

If the Unknown had had the least suspicion of the thoughts that were
passing in the mind of his companion, he would have done his utmost to
inspire him with confidence; but he was far from such an imagination, as
Don Abbondio was very careful not to let his distrust appear.

They found the mules ready at the door: the Unknown mounted one which
was presented to him by a groom.

"Is she not vicious in the least?" asked Don Abbondio of the servant,
with his foot in the stirrup.

"Be quite easy, she is a lamb," replied he. Don Abbondio climbed to the
saddle, by the aid of the servant, and was at last safely mounted.

The litter, which was a few steps in advance, moved at a call from the
driver, and the convoy departed.

They had to pass before the church, which was crowded with people, and
through a small square, which was filled with villagers from abroad, who
had not been able to find a place within the walls of the church. The
report had already spread; and when they saw the carriage appear, and
beheld the man who a few hours before had been the object of terror and
execration, a confused murmur of applause rose from the crowd. They made
way to let him pass; at the same time each one endeavoured to obtain a
sight of him. When he arrived in front of the church, he took off his
hat, and bowed his head in reverence, amidst the tumultuous din of many
voices, which exclaiming "God bless you!" Don Abbondio took off his hat
also, bent his head, and commended himself to the protection of heaven;
and, hearing the voices of his brethren in the choir, he could not
restrain his tears.

But when they reached the open country, in the windings of the almost
deserted road, a darker veil came over his thoughts; there was nothing
that he could regard with confidence but the driver, who, belonging to
the establishment of the cardinal, must certainly be honest, and
moreover did not look like a coward. From time to time they passed
travellers crowding to see the cardinal. The sight of them was a
transient balm to Don Abbondio; but still he approached this formidable
valley, where they would meet none but the vassals of the Unknown! And
what vassals! He desired more than ever to enter into conversation with
his companion, to keep him in good humour; but, seeing him preoccupied,
he dared not attempt to interrupt his thoughts. He was then obliged to
hold colloquy with himself, of which we will transcribe a part for the
benefit of the reader.

"Is it not an astonishing thing that the saints, as well as the wicked,
have always quicksilver in their veins; and, not contented with making a
bustle themselves, they would make all mankind, if they could, join the
dance with them! Is there not a fatality in it, that the most
troublesome come to me,--to me who never meddled with any body; they
take me almost by the hair, and thrust me into their concerns! me! who
desire nothing, but to live tranquilly, if they will let me do so. This
mad knave Don Roderick. What was there wanting to make him the happiest
man in the world, but a little prudence? He is rich, young, respected,
courted; but happiness is a burthen to him, it seems; so that he must
seek trouble for himself and his neighbour. He must set up, forsooth,
for a molester of women,--the most silly, the most villanous, the most
insane conduct in the world. He might ride to paradise in a coach; and
he prefers to go halting to the devil's dwelling. And this man before
me," continued he, regarding him as if he feared he could hear his
thoughts, "and this man, after having, by his villanies, turned the
world upside down, now turns it upside down by his conversion--if he is
really converted! Meanwhile, it is I who am to put it to the test! Some
people always want to make a noise! Is it so difficult to act an honest
part, all one's life, as I have? Not at all! but they prefer to murder,
kill, and play the devil.--Oh! unhappy man that I am! they must always
be in a bustle, even in doing penance! just as if one could not repent
at home, in private, without so much noise,--without giving others so
much trouble.--And his illustrious lordship! to receive him all at once
with open arms; to call him his dear friend, his worthy friend; to
listen to his least words as if he had seen him work miracles, to give
him his public approbation to assist him in all his undertakings; I
should call this precipitation! And without any pledge or security, to
place a poor curate in his hands! A holy bishop--and he is such
assuredly--a holy bishop should regard his curates as the apple of his
eye. A little prudence, a little coolness, a little charity, are things
which, in my opinion, are not inconsistent with sanctity. And should
this be all hypocrisy? Who can tell the designs of such a man? To think
that I must accompany him into the castle? There must be some deviltry
in it! Am I not unhappy enough? Let me not think of it. But how has Lucy
fallen into the clutches of this man? It is a secret between him and my
lord the cardinal, and they don't deign to inform me concerning it: I
don't care to meddle with the affairs of others, but when one's life is
in danger one has a right to know something.--But poor Lucy--I shall be
satisfied if she escapes. Heaven knows what she has suffered. I pity
her, but she was born to be my ruin. And if this man is really
converted, what need has he of me? Oh! what a chaos! But Heaven owes me
its protection, since I did not get myself into the difficulty. If I
could only read in the countenance of this man what passes in his soul!
Look at him; now he looks like Saint Anthony in the desert, and now like
Holofernes himself."

In truth, the thoughts which agitated the Unknown passed over his
countenance, as in a stormy day the clouds fly over the face of the sun,
producing a succession of light and shade. His soul, calmed by the
gentle language of Frederick, felt elated at the hope of mercy, pardon,
and love; but then he sank again under the weight of the terrible past.
Agitated and uneasy, he retraced in his memory those iniquities which
were reparable, and considered what remedies would be the safest and
quickest. And this unfortunate girl! how much she has suffered! how much
he had caused her to suffer! At this thought his impatience to deliver
her increased, and he made a sign to the coachman to hasten.

They entered at last into the valley. In what a situation was now our
poor Don Abbondio! to find himself in this famous valley, of which he
had heard such black and horrible tales. These famous men, the flower
of the bravoes of Italy, these men without pity or fear, to see them in
flesh and blood,--to meet them at every step! They bowed, it is true,
respectfully, in the presence of their lord, but who knows what passed
in their hearts, and what wicked design against the poor priest might,
even then, be forming in their brains.

They reached _Malanotte_; bravoes were at the door, who bowed to the
Unknown, glancing with eager curiosity at his companion, and the litter.
If the departure of their master alone, at the break of day, had been
regarded as extraordinary, his return was considered not less so. Is it
a prize which he conducts? And how has he taken possession of it alone?
And what is this strange litter? And whose is this livery? They did not
stir, however; knowing, from the countenance of their master, that their
silence was what he desired.

They reached the castle; the bravoes who were on the esplanade and at
the door, retired on both sides to leave the passage free. The Unknown
made a sign to them not to go farther off. Spurring his mule, he passed
before the litter, and beckoning to Don Abbondio and the coachman to
follow him, he entered a first court, and thence a second: approaching a
small door, and with a gesture keeping back a bravo, who advanced to
hold his stirrup, he said, "Remain there yourself, and let none approach
nearer." He dismounted, and with the reins in his hand, drew near the
woman, who had withdrawn the curtains of the litter, saying to her in a
low voice, "Hasten to comfort her; and make her understand at once that
she is free, and with friends. God will reward you!" He then advanced to
the curate, and helping him to dismount, said, "Signor Curate, I will
not ask your forgiveness for the trouble you have taken on my account;
you suffer for one who will reward you well, and for this poor girl."

His countenance not less than his words restored the courage of Don
Abbondio; drawing a full breath, which had been long pent up in his
breast, he replied, "Your lordship jests, surely? But--but--" and
accepting the hand offered to him so courteously, he slid from the
saddle. The Unknown took the bridle, and gave both animals to the care
of the driver, ordering him to wait there until their return. Taking a
key from his pocket, he opened the little door, and followed by his two
companions, the curate and the female, ascended the stairs.



CHAPTER XXIV.


Lucy had just risen. She was endeavouring to collect her senses, to
separate the turbid visions of sleep from the remembrance of the sad
reality, which appeared to her a dismal dream, when the old woman, in a
voice which she meant to be humble and gentle, said to her, "Ah! you
have slept! You would have done better to go to bed; I told you so a
hundred times." Receiving no answer, she continued, "Eat a little; you
have need of something; if you do not, he will complain of me when he
returns."

"No, no, I wish to go to my mother. Your master promised me, he said,
_to-morrow morning_. Where is he?"

"He has gone away; but he left word that he would return soon, and do
all that you should desire."

"Did he say so? did he say so? Well; I wish to go to my mother, now,
now."

Suddenly they heard steps in the adjoining chamber, and a knock at the
door. The old woman demanded, "Who is there?"

"Open," replied the well-known voice.

The old woman drew the bolt, and holding the door open, the Unknown let
Don Abbondio and the good woman pass in; then closing the door, and
remaining outside himself, he sent away the old woman to a distant part
of the castle. The first appearance of other persons increased the
agitation of Lucy, to whom any change brought an accession of alarm. She
looked, and beholding a priest and a female, felt somewhat reassured;
she looked again! Can it be? Recognising Don Abbondio, her eyes remained
fixed as by the wand of an enchanter. The kind woman bent over her, and
with an affectionate and anxious countenance, said, "Alas! my poor
child! come, come with us."

"Who are you?" said Lucy,--but, without waiting her reply, she turned
again to Don Abbondio, exclaiming, "Is it you? Is it you indeed, Signor
Curate? Where are we? Oh! unhappy girl! I am no longer in my right
mind!"

"No, no, it is I, in truth; take courage. We have come to take you away.
I am indeed your curate, come for this purpose----"

As if restored to strength in an instant, Lucy stood up, and fixing her
eyes again on their faces, she said, "The Virgin has sent you, then!"

"I have no doubt of it," said the good lady.

"But is it true, that we may go away? Is it true indeed?" resumed Lucy,
lowering her voice to a timid and fearful tone. "And all these people,"
continued she, with her lips compressed, and trembling from alarm and
horror; "and this lord--this man--he promised me indeed."

"He is here also in person with us," said Don Abbondio. "He is without,
expecting us; let us go at once; we must not make such a man wait."

At this moment the Unknown appeared at the door. Lucy, who, a few
moments before, had desired earnestly to see him--nay, having no other
hope in the world, had desired to see none but him--now that she was so
unexpectedly in the presence of friends, was, for a moment, overcome
with terror. Shuddering with horror, she hid her face on the shoulder of
the good dame. Beholding the innocent girl, on whom the evening before
he had not had resolution to fix his eyes; beholding her countenance,
pale, and changed, from fasting and prolonged suffering, the Unknown
hesitated; but perceiving her impulse of terror, he cast down his eyes,
and, after a moment's silence, exclaimed, "It is true! forgive me!"

"He comes to save you; he is not the same man; he has become good. Do
you hear him ask your forgiveness?" whispered the dame in the ear of
Lucy.

"Could any one say more? Come, lift up your head; do not play the child.
We can go away now, immediately," said Don Abbondio.

Lucy raised her head, looked at the Unknown, and beholding his humble
and downcast expression, she was affected with a mingled feeling of
gratitude and pity: "Oh! my lord! may God reward you for your compassion
to an unfortunate girl!" cried she; "and may he recompense you a
hundred-fold for the consolation you afford me by these words!" So
saying, he advanced towards the door, and went out, followed by Lucy;
who, quite encouraged, was supported by the arm of the good lady, Don
Abbondio bringing up the rear. They descended the stairs, passed through
the courts, and reached the litter; into which, the Unknown with almost
timid politeness (a new thing for him!) assisted Lucy and her new
companion to enter. He then aided Don Abbondio to reseat himself in the
saddle. "Oh! what complaisance!" said the latter, moving much more
lightly than he had done on first mounting.

The convoy resumed their way; as soon as the Unknown was mounted, his
head was raised, and his countenance resumed its accustomed expression
of command and authority. The robbers whom they met on their road
discovered in it marks of strong thought and extraordinary solicitude;
but they did not, they could not, comprehend the cause. They knew
nothing as yet of the great change which had taken place in the soul of
the man, and certainly such a conjecture would not have entered into
their minds.

The good dame hastened to draw the curtains around the litter; pressing
the hands of Lucy affectionately, she endeavoured to encourage her by
words of piety, congratulation, and tenderness. Seeing, however, that
besides the exhaustion from so much suffering, the confusion and
obscurity of all that had happened prevented the poor girl from being
alive to the satisfaction of her deliverance; she said what she thought
would be most likely to restore her thoughts to their ordinary course.
She mentioned the village to which she belonged, and towards which they
were hastening.

"Yes, indeed!" said Lucy, remembering that this village was but a short
distance from her own. "Oh! holy Virgin! I render thee thanks. My
mother! my mother!"

"We will send for her immediately," said her friend, not knowing that it
had already been done.

"Yes, yes; God will reward you. And you,--who are you? How is it that
you have come here?"

"Our curate sent me, because this lord, whose heart God has touched,
(blessed be his holy name!) came to our village to see the cardinal
archbishop, who is visiting among us, the dear man of God! This lord has
repented of his horrible sins, and wishes to change his life; and he
told the cardinal that he had carried off an innocent girl, with the
connivance of another, whose name the curate did not mention to me."

Lucy raised her eyes to heaven.

"You know it, perhaps," continued the lady. "Well, the lord cardinal
thought, that a young girl being in the question, a female should be
found to accompany her; he told the curate to look for one, and the
curate kindly came to me----"

"Oh! may God reward you for your goodness!"

"And the curate desired me to encourage you, my poor child, to relieve
you from uneasiness at once, and to make you understand, how the Lord
has miraculously preserved you."

"Oh! miraculously indeed, through the intercession of the Virgin!"

"He told me to comfort you, to advise you to pardon him who has done you
this evil, to rejoice that God has shown compassion towards him, and
even to pray for him; for, besides its being a duty, you will derive
comfort from it to your own heart."

Lucy replied with a look which expressed assent as clearly as if she had
made use of words, and with a sweetness which words could not have
expressed.

"Worthy young woman!" resumed the friend. "And as your curate was also
in our village, the lord cardinal judged it best to send him with us,
thinking that he might be of some assistance. I had already heard that
he was a poor sort of a timid man; and on this occasion, he has been
wholly taken up with himself, like a hen with one chick."

"And he----he who is thus changed----who is he?"

"How! do you not know?" said the good dame, repeating his name.

"Oh! merciful heaven!" cried Lucy. For many times had she heard this
name repeated with horror, in more than one story, in which he had
appeared like the _Ogre_ of the fairy tale. At the idea of having been
in his terrible power, and of now being under his protection,--at the
thought of such peril, and such deliverance, in reflecting who this man
was that had appeared to her so ferocious, and then so humble and so
gentle, she was lost in astonishment, and could only exclaim, from time
to time, "Oh! merciful Heaven!"

"Yes, it is indeed a great mercy! it is a great happiness for half the
world in this neighbourhood, and afar off. When one thinks how many
people he kept in continual alarm; and now, as our curate says----But
you have only to look in his face to know that he is truly changed. And,
besides, by 'their works' ye shall know them."

We should not tell the truth, did we say that the good dame had no
curiosity to learn more of an affair in which she played so important a
part; but, to her praise it must be added, that, feeling a respectful
pity for Lucy, and estimating the weight and dignity of the charge
confided to her, she did not for a moment think of asking her an
indiscreet or idle question. All her discourse in their short journey
was composed of expressions of tenderness and interest for the poor
girl.

"It must be long since you have eaten any thing."

"I do not remember----It must indeed be some time."

"Poor child! you must need something to restore your strength."

"Yes," replied Lucy, in a faint voice.

"At my house, thanks be to God, we shall find something presently. Be of
good cheer, it is but a short distance off."

Lucy, wearied and exhausted by her various emotions, fell languidly to
the bottom of the litter, overcome by drowsiness; and her kind companion
left her to a short repose.

As to Don Abbondio, the descent from the castle did not cause him so
much fright as the ascent thither; but it was nevertheless not
agreeable. When his alarm had first ceased, he felt relieved from an
intolerable burthen; but he now began to torment himself in various
ways, and found materials for such an operation in the present as well
as in the future. His manner of travelling, to which he was not
accustomed, he found to be exceedingly unpleasant, especially in the
descent from the castle to the valley. The driver, obedient to a sign
from the Unknown, made his beasts set off at a quick pace; the two mules
kept up with the litter; and thus poor Don Abbondio, subjected to the
unusual bounding and rebounding, which was more perilous from the
steepness of the declivity they were descending, was obliged to hold
fast by the saddle in order to keep his seat, not daring to ask his
companions to abate somewhat of their speed. Moreover, if the road lay
on a height, along a ridge, the mule, according to the custom of these
animals, would obstinately keep on the outside, and place his feet
literally on the very edge of the precipice. "Thou also," said he in his
heart to the beast, "thou also hath this cursed desire to seek danger,
when there are so many other paths!" He tightened the rein on the other
side, but in vain; so that, although dying of vexation and fear, he
suffered himself, as was his custom, to be led by the will of another.
The bravoes no longer caused him much uneasiness now that he felt
confidence in their master. "But," thought he, nevertheless, "if the
news of this great conversion spreads, while we are yet here, who knows
how these people may take it? Who knows what might be the result?
Perhaps they might take it in their heads to think I had come as a
missionary! and then (heaven preserve me!) they would make me suffer
martyrdom!" But we have said enough of the terrors of Don Abbondio.

The company at last arrived at the extremity of the valley; the
countenance of the Unknown became more serene, and Don Abbondio
recovered in some degree his usual composure; but still his mind was
occupied with more distant evils. "What will this fool Don Roderick say?
To be exposed thus to scoffs and jests--how sorely will he feel it!
he'll certainly play the devil outright! Perhaps he will seek another
quarrel with me because I have been engaged in this cursed business!
Having had the heart to send those two demons to attack me in the road,
what he will do now, heaven knows. He cannot molest my lord the
cardinal, because he is obviously beyond his reach; he will be obliged
to champ the bit. However, the poison will be in his veins, and he will
need to discharge it somewhere. It is well known how these affairs end;
the blows always fall on the weakest. The cardinal will busy himself
with placing Lucy in safety; this other poor devil is beyond his reach,
but what is to become of me? And what will the cardinal do to defend me,
after having engaged me in the business? Can he hinder this atrocious
being from serving me a worse turn than before? And then he has so many
things to think of! he cannot pay attention to every body! They who do
good, do it in the gross, and enjoy their satisfaction without regarding
minute consequences: but your evil-doer is more diligent; he lingers
behind till he sees the last result, because of the fear that torments
him. Shall I say I have acted by my lord archbishop's command, and
against my own will? But it will seem that I favour villany! I--for the
pleasure it gives me! Heaven forbid! but enough--I'll tell Perpetua the
whole story, and leave her to circulate it--if indeed, his reverend
lordship should not take up the fancy to make the whole matter public,
and thrust me forward as a chief actor. However, I am determined on one
thing: I will take leave of my lord the cardinal as soon as we arrive
at the village, and go to my home. Lucy has no longer any need of me;
she is under good protection; and, after so many fatigues, I may claim
the right to take some repose.--But, should my lord be seized with the
desire to know all her story, and I be compelled to relate the affair of
the marriage! there would then be nothing wanting to complete my misery.
And if he should visit my parish! Oh! let come what will, I will not
torment myself beforehand! I have cares enough. For the present I shall
shut myself up at home. But I foresee too well that my last days must be
passed in trouble and vexation."

The little troop arrived before the services of the church were over;
and passing, as they had previously done, through the crowd, they
proceeded to the house of Lucy's companion.

Hardly had Don Abbondio alighted from his mule, when, making the most
profuse compliments to the Unknown, he begged him to apologise for him
to the cardinal, as he was obliged to return directly to his parish on
some urgent business. He then went in search of a staff that he had left
in the hall, and which he was accustomed to call his horse, and
proceeded homewards. The Unknown remained at the cardinal's house,
awaiting his return from the church.

The good dame hastened to procure Lucy some refreshment to recruit her
exhausted powers; she put some dry branches under a kettle which she
replaced over the fire, and in which swam a good fowl; after having
suffered it to boil a moment, she filled a plate with the soup, and
offered it to Lucy, congratulating herself that the affair had happened
on a day, when, as she said, "the cat was not on the hearth." "It is a
day of feasting for all the world," added she, "except for those
unfortunate creatures who can hardly obtain bread of vetches, and a
polenta of millet; they hope, however, to receive something from our
charitable cardinal. As for us, thank heaven, we are not in that
situation; between the trade of my husband and a small piece of land, we
manage to live comfortably. Eat, then, poor child, with a good appetite;
the fowl will be done presently, and you shall have something better."
She then set about making preparations for dinner for the family.

As Lucy's spirits and strength returned, the necessity of arranging her
dress occurred to her mind; she therefore tied up her long disordered
tresses, and adjusted the handkerchief about her neck; in doing this,
her fingers entwined themselves in the chaplet, which was there
suspended: she gazed at it with much emotion, and the recollection of
the vow she had made, this recollection which had been suspended by so
many painful sensations, now rose clearly and distinctly to her mind.
All the newly-awakened powers of her soul were again in a moment
subdued. And if she had not been prepared for this by a life of
innocence, resignation, and confidence, the consternation she
experienced would have terminated in despair. After the first tumult of
her thoughts had in some measure subsided, she exclaimed, "Oh! unhappy
girl! what have I done!"

But hardly had she pronounced the words, when she was terrified at
having done so; she recalled all the circumstances of her vow, her
intolerable anguish, without hope of human aid, the fervour of her
petition, the fulness of resolution with which the promise had been
made; and to repent of this promise, after having obtained the favour
she had implored, appeared to her sacrilegious ingratitude, perfidy
towards God and the Virgin. It seemed to her that such infidelity would
certainly draw upon her new and more terrible evils, and if these should
indeed be its consequences she could no longer hope for an answer to her
prayers; she therefore hastened to abjure her momentary regret, and
drawing the chaplet reverently from her neck, and holding it in her
trembling hand, she confirmed her vow; at the same time fervently
praying to God that he would grant her strength to fulfil it, and to
drive from her thoughts circumstances which might, if they did not move
her resolution, still increase but too much the severity of the
sacrifice. The absence of Renzo, without any probability of his return,
which had at first been so bitter, appeared now to her a design of
Providence, to make the two events conduce to the same end, and she
endeavoured to find in one a consolation for the other. She also
remembered that Providence would, to finish the work, find means to make
Renzo resigned, and cause him to forget----But scarcely had this idea
entered her mind, when a new terror overwhelmed her. Conscious that her
heart had still need of repentance, the unfortunate girl again had
recourse to prayer, and mental conflict; and at length arose, if the
expression may be allowed, like a victor wearied and wounded, having
disarmed his enemy.

Suddenly footsteps and joyous exclamations were heard; they proceeded
from the children of the family, who were returning from church. Two
little girls and a little boy ran into the room; stopping a moment to
eye the stranger, they then came to their mother, one asking the name of
their unknown guest, another wanting to relate the wonders they had
seen. The good dame replied to them all with "Be quiet; silence!" The
master of the house then entered with a calmer step; but with joy
diffused over his countenance. He was the tailor of the village and its
environs; a man who knew how to read, and who had even read, more than
once, the Legend of the Saints and the _Reali di Francia_; he was
regarded by the peasants as a man of knowledge, and when they lavished
their praises on him, he repelled them with much modesty, only saying
that he had indeed mistaken his vocation, and that, perhaps, if he had
studied---- Notwithstanding this little vanity he was the best natured
man in the world. He had been present when the curate requested his wife
to undertake her benevolent journey, and had not only given his
approbation, but would have added his own persuasions, if that had been
necessary; and now that the ceremonies of the church, and above all, the
sermon of the cardinal, had given an impetus to his amiable feelings, he
returned home with an ardent desire to know if the enterprise had
succeeded, and to see the poor innocent girl in safety.

"See here!" said his wife to him as he entered, pointing to Lucy, who
rose from her seat blushing, and stammering forth some apology. He
advanced towards her, and, with a friendly tone, cried, "You are
welcome! welcome! You bring the blessing of Heaven on this house! How
glad I am to see you here! I knew that you would arrive safely to a
haven, because I have never known the Lord commence a miracle without
accomplishing it; but I am well content to see you here. Poor child! It
is a great thing however to have been the subject of a miracle!"

We must not believe he was the only one who characterised the event by
this term, and that because he had read the legendary. Throughout the
village, and the surrounding country, it was spoken of in no other
terms, as long as its remembrance lasted; and to say truth, if we regard
its attendant circumstances, it would be difficult to find another name
for it.

He then approached his wife, who was employed in taking the kettle from
off the fire, and said in a low voice, "Has all gone well?"

"Very well. I will tell you another time."

"Well, well, at your leisure."

When the dinner was ready, the mistress of the house made Lucy sit down
with them at the table, and helping her to a wing of the chicken,
entreated her to eat. The husband began to dilate with much animation on
the events of the day; not without many interruptions from the children,
who stood round the table eating their dinner, and who had seen too many
extraordinary things to be satisfied with playing the part of mere
listeners. He described the solemn ceremonies, and then recurred to the
miraculous conversion; but that which had made the most impression on
his mind, and of which he spoke the oftenest, was the sermon of the
cardinal.

"To see him before the altar," said he, "a lord like him, to see him
before the altar, as a simple curate----"

"And that golden thing he had on his head," said one of the little
girls.

"Hush, be quiet. When one thinks, I say, that a lord like him, a man so
learned, who, as they say, has read all the books in the world, a thing
which no one else has done, not even in Milan; when one thinks that he
has adapted himself so to the comprehension of others, that every one
understood him----"

"I understood, I did," said the other little chatterer.

"Hush, be quiet. What did you understand, you?"

"I understood that he explained the Gospel, instead of the curate."

"Be quiet. I do not say that he was understood by those only who know
something, but even those who were the most stupid and ignorant, caught
the sense perfectly. You might go now, and ask them to repeat his
discourse; perhaps they might not remember a single word, but they would
have its whole meaning in their head. And how easy it was to perceive
that he alluded to this _signor_, although he never pronounced his name!
But one might have guessed it from the tears which flowed from his eyes.
And all the people wept----"

"That is true," cried the little boy. "But why did they all cry like
little children?"

"Be quiet. And there are, nevertheless, hard hearts in this country. He
has made us feel that although there is a scarcity, we must return
thanks to God, and be satisfied; be industrious; do what we can, and
then be content, because unhappiness does not consist at all in
suffering and poverty; unhappiness is the result of wicked actions.
These are not fine words merely; it is well known that he lives like a
poor man, that he takes the bread from his mouth to give to those that
are in need, when he might live an easier life than any one. Oh, then,
there is great satisfaction in hearing him speak. He is not like many
others, who say, 'Do as I say, and not as I do;' and besides, he has
made it very apparent, that those even who are not what they call
_gentlemen_, but who have more than is necessary, are bound to impart to
those who are in want."

And here he stopped, as if pained by some recollection; after a moment's
silence, he filled a plate with meat from the table, and adding a loaf
of bread to it, tied up the whole in a napkin. "Take that," said he to
the oldest of the children, and putting in her other hand a bottle of
wine, "carry that to the widow Martha, and tell her to feast with her
children. But be very careful what you say to her, don't seem to be
doing a charity, and don't say a word of it, should you meet any one;
and take care not to break any thing."

Lucy was touched, even to tears, and her soul was filled with a
tenderness that withdrew her from the contemplation of her own sorrows.
The conversation of this worthy man had already imparted a relief, that
a direct appeal to her feelings would have failed to procure. Her
spirit, yielding to the charm of the description of the august pomp of
the church, of the emotions of piety there excited, and partaking of the
enthusiasm of the narrator, forgot its woes, and, when obliged to recur
to them, felt itself strengthened. The thought even of the great
sacrifice she had imposed on herself, without having lost its
bitterness, had assumed the character of austere and solemn
tranquillity.

A few moments after, the curate of the village entered, saying that he
was sent by the cardinal for intelligence concerning Lucy, and also to
inform her that he desired to see her that day; then he thanked, in his
lordship's name, her kind hosts for their benevolence and hospitality.
All three, moved to tears, could not find words to reply to such a
message from such a person.

"Has your mother not yet arrived?" said the curate to Lucy.

"My mother!" cried she.

Learning that the good archbishop had sent for her mother, that it was
his own kind thought, her heart was overpowered, she raised her apron to
her eyes, and her tears continued to flow long after the departure of
the curate. As these tumultuous emotions, called forth by such
unexpected benevolence, gradually subsided, the poor girl remembered
that she had expressly solicited this very happiness of again beholding
her mother, as a condition to her vow. "_Return me safely to my
mother._" These words recurred distinctly to her memory. She was
confirmed more than ever in her purpose to keep her vow, and repented
again bitterly of the regret which she had for a moment experienced.

Agnes, indeed, even whilst they were speaking of her, was very near; it
is easy to imagine the feelings of the poor woman at so unexpected an
invitation, at the intelligence, necessarily confused and incomplete, of
a peril which was passed, but of a frightful peril, of an obscure
adventure, of which the messenger knew not the circumstances, and could
give no explanation, and for which she could find no clue from previous
facts. "Ah, great God! ah, holy Virgin!" escaped from her lips, mingled
with useless questions, during the journey. On the road she met Don
Abbondio, who, by the aid of his staff, was travelling homewards.
Uttering an exclamation of surprise, Agnes made the driver stop. She
alighted, and with the curate withdrew into a grove of chestnuts, which
was on the side of the road. Don Abbondio informed her of all he had
seen and known: much obscurity still rested upon his statement, but at
least Agnes ascertained that Lucy was now in safety.

Don Abbondio then introduced another subject of conversation, and would
have given her ample instruction on the manner of conducting herself
with the archbishop, if he, as was probable, should wish to see her and
her daughter. He said it would not answer for her to speak of the
marriage; but Agnes, perceiving that he spoke only from his own
interest, was determined to promise nothing, because she said, "she had
other things to think of," and bidding him farewell, she proceeded on
her journey.

The carriage at last reached the house of the tailor, and the mother and
daughter were folded in each other's arms. The good wife, who was the
only witness of the scene, endeavoured to soothe and calm their
feelings; and then prudently left them alone, saying that she would go
and prepare a bed for them.

Their first tumultuous joy having in some measure subsided, Agnes
requested to hear the adventures of Lucy, who attempted to relate them;
but the reader knows that it was a history with which no one was
entirely acquainted, and to Lucy herself there was much that was
inexplicable, particularly the fatal coincidence of the carriage being
at that place precisely at the moment that Lucy had gone there by an
extraordinary chance. With regard to this, the mother and daughter lost
themselves in conjecture, without even approaching the real cause. As
to the principal author of this plot, however, they neither of them
doubted that it was Don Roderick.

"Ah, that firebrand!" cried Agnes; "but his hour will come. God will
reward him according to his works, and then he will know----"

"No, no, mother, no!" cried Lucy. "Do not wish harm to him! do not wish
it to any one! If you knew what it is to suffer! if you had experienced
it! No, no! rather let us pray to God and the Virgin for him, that God
would touch his heart as he has done that of the other lord, who was
worse than he, and who is now a saint."

The horror that Lucy felt in retracing events so painful and recent made
her hesitate more than once. More than once she said she had not the
heart to proceed, and, choked by her tears, she with difficulty went on
with her narrative. But she was embarrassed by a different sentiment at
a certain point of her recital, at the moment when she was about to
speak of her vow. She feared her mother would accuse her of imprudence
and precipitation; she feared that she would, as she had done in the
affair of the marriage, bring forward her broad rules of conscience, and
make them prevail; she feared that the poor woman would tell it to some
one in confidence, if it were only to gain light and advice, and thus
render it public. These reflections made Lucy experience insupportable
shame, and an inexplicable repugnance to speak on the subject. She
therefore passed over in silence this important circumstance,
determining in her heart to communicate it first to Father Christopher;
but how great was her sorrow at learning that he was no longer at the
convent, that he had been sent to a distant country, a country
called----

"And Renzo?" enquired Agnes.

"He is in safety, is he not?" said Lucy, hastily.

"It must be so, since every one says so. They say that he has certainly
gone to Bergamo, but no one knows the place exactly, and there has been
no intelligence from himself. He probably has not been able to find the
means of informing us."

"Oh, if he is in safety, God be thanked!" said Lucy, commencing another
subject of conversation, which was, however, interrupted by an
unexpected event--the arrival of the cardinal archbishop.

After having returned from the church, and having learnt from the
Unknown the arrival of Lucy, he had seated himself at table, placing the
Unknown on his right hand; the company was composed of a number of
priests, who gazed earnestly at the countenance of their once formidable
companion, so softened without weakness, so humbled without meanness,
and compared it with the horrible idea they had so long entertained of
him.

Dinner being over, the Unknown and the cardinal retired together. After
a long interview, the former departed for his castle, and the latter
sent for the curate of the parish, and requested him to conduct him to
the house where Lucy had received an asylum.

"Oh, my lord," replied the curate, "suffer me, suffer me. I will send
for the young girl and her mother, if she has arrived,--the hosts
themselves, if my lord desires it."

"I wish to go to them myself," replied Frederick.

"There is no necessity that you should inconvenience yourself; I will
send for them immediately," insisted the curate, who did not understand
that, by this visit, the cardinal wished to do honour to misfortune,
innocence, hospitality, and to his own ministry. But the superior
repeating his desire, the inferior bowed, and they proceeded on their
way.

When they appeared in the street, a crowd immediately collected around
them. The curate cried, "Come, come, back, keep off."--"But," said
Frederick, "suffer them," and he advanced, now raising his hands to
bless the people, now lowering them to embrace the children, who
obstructed his progress. They reached the house, and entered it, whilst
the crowd remained without. But amidst the throng was the tailor, who
had followed with others; his eyes fixed, and his mouth open, wondering
where the cardinal was going. When he beheld him entering his own house,
he bustled his way through the crowd, crying out, "Make room for those
who have a right to enter," and followed into the house.

Agnes and Lucy heard an increasing murmur in the street; and whilst they
were surmising the cause, the door opened, and, behold, the cardinal and
the curate!

"Is this she?" asked the former of the curate, and at a sign in the
affirmative he approached Lucy, who with her mother was standing,
motionless and mute with surprise and extreme diffidence: but the tones
of the voice, the countenance, and above all, the words of Frederick,
soon removed their embarrassment. "Poor young woman," said he, "God has
permitted you to be subjected to a great trial; but he has also made you
see that he watches over you, and has never forgotten you. He has saved
you, and in addition to that blessing, has made use of you to accomplish
a great work through you, to impart the wonders of his grace and mercy
to one man, and at the same time to comfort the hearts of many."

Here the mistress of the house entered the room with her husband:
perceiving their guests engaged in conversation, they respectfully
retired to a distant part of the apartment. The cardinal bowed to them
courteously, and continued the conversation with Lucy and her mother. He
mixed with the consolation he offered many enquiries, hoping to find
from their answers some way of rendering them still farther services
after their sufferings.

"It is a pity all the clergy were not like your lordship, and then they
would take the part of the poor, and not help to bring them into
difficulty for the sake of drawing themselves out of it," said Agnes,
encouraged by the familiar and affable manner of Frederick, and vexed
that Don Abbondio, after having sacrificed others to his own
selfishness, should dare to forbid her making the least complaint to one
so much above him, when by so fortunate a chance the occasion presented
itself.

"Say all that you think," said the cardinal; "speak freely."

"I would say, that if our curate had done his duty, things would not
have been as they are."

The cardinal begging her to explain herself more clearly, she found
some embarrassment in relating a history, in which she had at one time
played a part, which she felt very unwilling to communicate to such a
man. However, she got over the difficulty; she related the projected
marriage, the refusal of Don Abbondio, and the pretext he had offered
with respect to his _superiors_ (oh, Agnes!); and passing to the attempt
of Don Roderick, she told in what manner, being informed of it, they had
been able to escape. "But, indeed," added she in conclusion, "it was
escaping to fall into another snare. If the curate had told us sincerely
the difficulty, and had married my poor children, we would have left the
country immediately, and gone where no one would have known us, not even
the wind. Thus time was lost, and that which has happened, has
happened."

"The curate shall render me an account of this," said the cardinal.

"No, my lord, no," resumed Agnes. "I did not speak on that account, do
not reprove him; because what is done, is done; and it would answer no
purpose. He is a man of such a character, that if the thing were to do
over again, he would act precisely in the same way."

But Lucy, dissatisfied with this manner of telling the story, added, "We
have also been to blame; it is plain that it was the will of God the
thing should not succeed."

"How can you have been to blame, my poor child?" said Frederick.

Lucy, notwithstanding the winks of her mother, related in her turn the
history of the attempt made in the house of Don Abbondio, saying, as she
concluded, "We did wrong, and God has punished us."

"Accept from his hand the chastisement you have endured, and take
courage," said Frederick; "for who has a right to rejoice and hope, if
not those who have suffered, and who accuse themselves?"

He then asked where was the betrothed; and learning from Agnes (Lucy
stood silent with downcast eyes) the fact of his flight, he expressed
astonishment and displeasure, and asked the reason of it. Agnes told
what she knew of the story of Renzo.

"I have heard of him before," said the cardinal; "but how could a man,
who was engaged in affairs of this nature, be in treaty of marriage with
this young girl?"

"He was a worthy young man," said Lucy, blushing, but in a firm voice.

"He was a peaceable youth, too peaceable, perhaps," added Agnes; "your
lordship may ask any one if he was not, even the curate. Who knows what
intrigues and plots may have been going on at Milan? There needs little
to make poor people pass for rogues."

"That is but too true," said the cardinal; "I will enquire about him,
without doubt." He took a memorandum of the name of the young man,
adding that he expected to be at their village in a few days; that
during his sojourn there, Lucy could return home without fear, and in
the mean while he would procure her an asylum till all was arranged for
the best.

Turning to the master and mistress of the house, they came forward; he
renewed the thanks he had addressed to them by the mouth of the curate,
and asked them if they would be willing to keep the guests God had sent
them for a few days.

"Oh yes, my lord," replied the dame, with a manner which said more than
this timid reply; but her husband, quite animated by the presence of
such a man, by the desire to do himself honour on an occasion of such
importance, studied to make a fine answer. He wrinkled his forehead,
strained his eyes, and compressed his mouth, but nevertheless felt a
confusion of ideas, which prevented him from uttering a syllable. But
time pressed; the cardinal appeared to have interpreted his silence. The
poor man opened his mouth, and said, "Imagine----" Not a word more could
he say. His failure not only filled him with shame on that day, but ever
after, the unfortunate recollection intruded itself to mar the pleasure
of the great honour he had received. How many times, in thinking of this
circumstance, did a crowd of words come to his mind, every one of which
would have been better than "_Imagine!_" But the cavities of our brains
are full enough of thoughts when it is too late to employ them.

The cardinal departed, saying, "May the blessing of Heaven rest on this
house!"

That evening he asked the curate in what way it would be best to
indemnify the tailor, who could not be rich, for his hospitality. The
curate replied, that truly neither the profits of his trade, nor his
income from some little fields that the good tailor possessed, would at
this time have enabled him to be liberal to others; but from having
saved something the few years previous, he was one of the most easy in
circumstances in the district; that he could allow himself to exercise
some hospitality without inconvenience, and that he would do it with
pleasure; and that he was confident he would be hurt if money was
offered to him.

"He has probably," said the cardinal, "some demands on people who are
unable to pay."

"You may judge, my lord; the poor people pay with the overplus of the
harvest; this year there has been no overplus; on the contrary, every
one is behind in point even of necessities."

"Well, I take upon myself all these debts. You will do me the favour to
obtain from him the memoranda, and cancel them."

"It may be a very large sum."

"So much the better. And perhaps you have but too many who are more
miserable, having no debts, because they have no credit?"

"Oh yes! indeed too many! they do what they can; but how can they supply
their wants in these hard times?"

"Have them clothed at my expense; it is true that it seems to be robbery
to spend any thing this year, except for bread; but this is a particular
case."

We cannot finish our record of the history of this day without briefly
relating the conduct of the Unknown. Before his second return to the
castle, the report of his conversion had preceded him; it had spread
through the valley, and excited surprise, anxiety, and numerous
conjectures. As he approached the castle he made a sign to all the
_bravoes_ he met to follow him: filled with unusual apprehension, but
with their accustomed submission, they obeyed; their number increased
every moment. Reaching the castle, he entered the first court, and
there, resting on his saddle bow, in a voice of thunder he gave a loud
call, the wonted signal which all habitually obeyed. In a moment those
who were scattered about the castle hastened to join the troop collected
around their leader.

"Go and wait for me in the great hall," said he; as they departed, he
dismounted from his beast, and leading it himself to the stable, thence
approached the hall. The whispering which was heard among them ceased at
his appearance; retiring to one corner they left a large space around
him.

The Unknown raised his hand to enforce the silence that his presence
alone had already effected; then raising his head, which yet was above
that of any of his followers, he said, "Listen to me, all of you; and
let no one speak, unless I ask him a question. My friends, the way which
we have followed until to-day leads to hell. I do not wish to reproach
you, I could not effect the important change, inasmuch as I have been
your leader in our abominable career; I have been the most guilty of
all; but listen to what I am about to say.

"God in his mercy has called me to a change of life, and I have obeyed
his call. May this same God do as much for you! Know, then, and hold for
certain, that I would rather now die than undertake any thing against
his holy law. I recall all the iniquitous orders which I may have given
any one of you; you understand me. And farther, I order you to do
nothing which I have hitherto prescribed to you. Hold equally for
certain, that no one can hereafter commit evil under my protection, and
in my service. Those who will remain with me on these conditions, I
shall regard as children. I should be happy, in the day of famine, to
share with them the last mouthful that remained to me. To those who do
not wish to continue here, shall be paid what is due of their salaries,
and a further donative; they have liberty to depart, but they must never
return, unless they repent and intend to lead a new life, and under such
circumstances they shall be received with open arms. Think of it this
night; to-morrow morning I will receive your answer, and then I will
give you your orders. Now, every one to his post. May God, who has
shown compassion towards me, incline your hearts to repentance and good
dispositions."

He ceased, and all kept silence. Although strange and tumultuous
thoughts fermented in their minds, no indication of them was visible.
They had been habituated to listen to the voice of their lord, as to a
manifestation of absolute authority, to which it was necessary to yield
implicit obedience. His will proclaimed itself changed, but not
enfeebled: it did not therefore enter their minds, that because he was
converted they might become bold in his presence, or reply to him as
they would to another man. They regarded him as a saint, indeed, but a
saint sword in hand.

In addition to the fear with which he inspired them, they felt for him
(especially those who were born in his service, and these were the
greater number) the affection of vassals. Their admiration partook of
the nature of love, mingled with that respect which the most rebellious
and turbulent spirits feel for a superior, whom they have voluntarily
recognised as such. The sentiments he expressed were certainly hateful
to their ears, but they knew they were not false, neither were they
entirely strange to them. If their custom had been to make them subjects
of pleasantry, it was not from disbelief of their verity, but to drive
away, by jesting, the apprehensions the contemplation of them might
otherwise have excited. And now, there was none among them who did not
feel some compunction at beholding their power exerted over the
invincible courage of their master. Moreover, some of them had heard the
extraordinary intelligence beyond the valley, and had witnessed and
related the joy of the people, the new feeling with which the Unknown
was regarded by them, the veneration which had succeeded their former
hatred--their former terror. They beheld the man whom they had never
regarded without trembling, even when they themselves constituted, to a
great degree, his strength; they beheld him now, the wonder, the idol of
the multitude,--still elevated above all others, in a different manner,
no doubt, but in one not less imposing,--always above the world, always
the first. They were confounded, and each was doubtful of the course he
should pursue. One reflected hastily where he could find an asylum and
employment; another questioned with himself his power to accommodate
himself to the life of an honest man; another, moved by what he had
said, felt some inclination for it; and another still was willing to
promise any thing so as to be entitled to the share of a loaf, which had
been so cordially proffered, and which was so scarce in those days. No
one, however, broke the silence. The Unknown, at the conclusion of his
speech, waved his hand imperiously for them to retire: obedient as a
flock of sheep, they all quietly left the hall. He followed them, and
stopping in the centre of the court, saw them all branch off to their
different stations. He returned into the castle, visited the corridors,
halls, and every avenue, and, finding all quiet, he retired to
sleep,--yes, to sleep, for he was very sleepy. In spite of all the
urgent and intricate affairs in which he was involved, more than at any
former conjuncture, he was sleepy. Remorse had banished sleep the night
before; its voice, so far from being subdued, was still more
absolute--was louder--yet he was sleepy. The order of his household so
long established, the absolute devotion of his faithful followers, his
power and means of exercising it, its various ramifications, and the
objects on which it was employed, all tended to create uncertainty and
confusion in his mind,--still he was sleepy.

To his bed then he went, that bed which the night before had been a bed
of thorns; but first he knelt to pray. He sought, in the remotest corner
of his memory, the words of prayer taught him in his days of childhood.
They came one by one: an age of vice had not effaced them. And who shall
define the sentiments that pervaded his soul at this return to the
habits of happy innocence? He slept soundly.



CHAPTER XXV.


The next morning, in the village of Lucy, and throughout all the
territory of Lecco, nothing was talked of but herself, the Unknown, the
archbishop, and another person, who, although generally desirous to be
talked of, would willingly have been forgotten on this occasion,--we
mean Don Roderick.

Not that, previous to this period, the villagers had not conversed much
of his actions, in secret, to those in whom they had perfect confidence;
but now they could no longer contain themselves, nor surpress many
enquiries on the marvellous events in which two persons so famous had
played a part. In comparison of these two personages, Signor Don
Roderick appeared rather insignificant, and all agreed in rejoicing over
the ill success of his iniquitous designs; but these rejoicings were
still, in some measure, moderated by fears of the _bravoes_ by whom he
was surrounded.

A good portion of the public censure was bestowed on his friends and
courtiers. It did not spare the Signor _Podestà_, always deaf and dumb
and blind to the deeds of this tyrant, but these opinions were expressed
in an under-tone, because the _Podestà_ had his officers. Such regard
was not paid to Doctor _Azzecca Garbugli_, who had only his _tricks_ and
his _verbiage_ to employ for his defence; and as to the whole tribe of
sycophants, resembling him, they were so pointed at, and eyed askance,
that for some time they thought it most prudent to keep themselves
within doors.

Don Roderick, struck, as by a thunderbolt, with the unexpected
intelligence, so different from that which he had been anticipating from
day to day, kept himself shut up in his castle, alone with his bravoes,
devouring his rage for the space of two days, and on the third set off
for Milan. If there had only existed the murmurs of the people,
notwithstanding things had gone so far, he would perhaps have remained
expressly to brave them; but he felt himself compelled to quit the field
of contest, by the certain information that the cardinal was coming to
the village. The count, his uncle, who knew nothing of the story but
what Attilio had told him, would certainly require him to be one of the
first to visit the cardinal, in order to obtain in public the most
distinguished reception from him. The count would require it, because it
was an important opportunity for making known in what esteem the house
was held by his powerful eminence. To escape such a dilemma, Don
Roderick, having risen before the sun, threw himself into a carriage
with Griso, and, followed by the rest of the _bravoes_, retired like a
fugitive, like (if we may be permitted to elevate him by such a
comparison), like Catiline from Rome, foaming with rage, and threatening
a speedy return to accomplish his revenge.

Meanwhile the cardinal approached, visiting every day one of the
parishes situated in the territory of Lecco. On the day he was expected
in the village, great preparations were made for his reception. At the
entrance of the village, near the cottage of Agnes, a triumphal arch was
erected, constructed of wood, covered with moss and straw, and
ornamented with green boughs of birch and holly. The front of the church
was adorned with tapestry; from every window of the houses were
suspended quilts and sheets, intended for drapery; every thing, in
short, whether in good taste or bad, was displayed in honour of this
extraordinary occasion. At the hour of vespers (which was the hour
Frederick usually selected to arrive at the churches which he visited),
those who had not gone to church, the old men, women, and the youngest
of the children, went forth, in procession, to meet their expected
guest, headed by Don Abbondio. The poor curate was sad in the midst of
the public joy; the tumult bewildered him; the movement of so many
people, before and behind, disturbed him; and, moreover, he was
tormented by the secret apprehension that the women had tattled, and
that he should be obliged to render an account of his conduct to the
cardinal.

Frederick appeared at last, or rather the crowd appeared, in the midst
of which was his litter, and the retinue surrounding it. The persons who
followed Don Abbondio scattered and mingled themselves with the crowd,
notwithstanding all his remonstrances; and he, poor man, finding himself
deserted by them, went to the church, there to await the cardinal's
approach.

The cardinal advanced, bestowing benedictions with his hands, and
receiving them in return from the mouths of the people, who were with
difficulty kept back by his attendants. Being of the same village as
Lucy, these peasants were desirous of rendering to the archbishop
peculiar demonstrations of respect, but this was not practicable,
inasmuch as, wherever he went, he was received with every possible
honour. In the very commencement of his pontificate, at his first solemn
entrance into the cathedral, the concourse had been so great that his
life was in peril. Some gentlemen, who were near him, drew their swords
to keep back and alarm the crowd. Such was the rude violence of the
times, that even in the general disposition to do honour to their
archbishop, they were on the point of crushing him: and this defence
would not have been sufficient, if two priests, of great vigour and
presence of mind, had not raised him in their arms, and carried him from
the church door to the foot of the great altar. His very first entrance
into the church, therefore, might be recorded amidst his pastoral
labours and the dangers he had run.

Entering the church, the cardinal advanced to the altar, and after
having prayed some time, he addressed, as was his custom, some words to
the people, on his love for them, on his desire for their salvation, and
how they should dispose their minds for the duties of the morrow. He
then withdrew to the house of the curate, and among other questions
which he put to him, he interrogated him with regard to the character
and conduct of Renzo. Don Abbondio replied that he was rather choleric
and obstinate: but as the cardinal made more special and precise
enquiries, he was obliged to confess that he was an honest peaceable
youth, and even he himself could not comprehend how he had committed at
Milan the conduct which had been imputed to him.

"As to the young girl," continued the cardinal, "do you think she can
return now with safety to her house?"

"At present," replied Don Abbondio, "she can come and remain for a
while. I say, at present, but," added he with a sigh, "your illustrious
lordship should be always near at hand."

"God is always present," said the cardinal. "But I will use my efforts
to secure a place of safety for her."

Before dismissing Don Abbondio, he ordered him to send a litter, on the
following day, for Lucy and her mother.

Don Abbondio went away quite pleased that the cardinal had talked to him
of the young couple, without even alluding to his refusal to marry them.
"He knows nothing of it," said he; "Agnes has kept silence! wonderful!
She will see him again, 'tis true, but she shall have further
instructions from me, so she shall." He little thought, poor man, that
Frederick had only deferred the enquiry until he should have more
leisure to learn the reasons of his conduct.

But the solicitude of the good prelate for the disposal of Lucy had been
rendered useless, by a circumstance which we will relate.

The two females had as far as possible resumed, for the few days they
had to pass under the hospitable roof of the tailor, their usual manner
of life. As she had done at the monastery, Lucy, in a small chamber
apart, employed herself in sewing; and Agnes, keeping much at home,
remained for the most part with her daughter. Their conversations were
affectionate and sorrowful; both were prepared for a separation, since
the sheep could not dwell in the neighbourhood of the wolf. But how long
was this separation to continue? The future was dark and inexplicable,
but Agnes, notwithstanding, was full of agreeable anticipation. "After
all," said she, "if no irreparable misfortune has befallen Renzo, we
shall soon hear from him. If he has found employment, (and who can doubt
it?) and if he keeps the faith he has sworn to you, why cannot we go and
live with him?" Her daughter felt as much sorrow in listening to her
hopes, as difficulty in replying to them. She still kept her secret in
her heart; and although troubled at the idea of concealment with so good
a mother, she was nevertheless restrained by a thousand fears from
communicating it. Her plans were, indeed, very different from those of
her mother, or rather, she had none, having committed the future into
the hands of Providence; she therefore endeavoured to change the
subject, saying in general terms that her only hope was to be
permanently re-united to her mother.

"Do you know why you feel thus?" said Agnes; "you have suffered so much,
that it seems impossible to you that things can turn out happily. But
let God work; and if---- Let a ray of hope come--a single ray, and then
we shall see that you will think differently."

Lucy and her mother entertained a lively friendship for their kind
hosts, which was warmly reciprocated; and between whom can friendship
exist more in its purity, than between the benefactor and the recipients
of the benefit, when both have kind hearts! Agnes, especially, had long
gossips with the mistress of the house, and the tailor afforded them
much amusement by his tales and moral discourses; at dinner particularly
he had always something to relate of the sword of Roland, or of the
Fathers of the Thebaid.

At some miles' distance from the village there dwelt a certain Don
Ferrante, and Donna Prassede his wife; the latter was a woman of high
birth, somewhat advanced in age, and exceedingly inclined to do good;
which is surely the most praiseworthy employment one can be engaged on
in this world; but which, indulged in without judgment, may be rendered
hurtful, like all other good things. To do good, we must have correct
ideas of good in itself considered, and this can be acquired only by
control over our own hearts. Donna Prassede governed herself with her
ideas, as some do with their friends; she had very few, but to these she
was much attached. Among these few, were a number unfortunately a little
narrow and unreasonable, and they were not those she loved the least.
Thence it happened that she regarded things as good, which were not
really so, and that she used means which were calculated to promote the
very opposite of that which she intended; to this perversion of her
intellect may also be attributed the fact, that she esteemed all
measures to be lawful to her who was bent on the performance of duty. In
short, with good intentions, her moral perceptions were in no small
degree distorted. Hearing the wonderful story of Lucy, she was seized
with a desire to know her, and immediately sent her carriage for the
mother and daughter. Lucy, having no desire to go, requested the tailor
to find some excuse for her; if they had been _common people_, who
desired to make her acquaintance, the tailor would willingly have
rendered her the service, but, under such circumstances, refusal
appeared to him a species of insult. He uttered so many exclamations,
such as, that it was not customary--that it was a high family--that it
was out of the question to say _No_ to such people--that it might make
their fortune--and that, in addition to all this, Donna Prassede was a
saint,--that Lucy was finally obliged to yield, especially as Agnes
seconded the remonstrances and arguments of the tailor.

The high-born dame received them with many congratulations; she
questioned and advised them with an air of conscious superiority, which
was, however, tempered by so many soft and humble expressions, and
mingled with so much zeal and devotion, that Agnes and Lucy soon felt
themselves relieved from the painful restraint her mere presence had at
first imposed on them. In brief, Donna Prassede, learning that the
cardinal wished to procure an asylum for Lucy, and impelled by the
desire to second, and at the same time to anticipate, his good
intention, offered to take the young girl to her house, where there
would be no other service required of her than to direct the labours of
the needle or the spindle. She added, that she herself would inform the
cardinal of the arrangement.

Besides the obvious and ordinary benefit conferred by her invitation,
Donna Prassede proposed to herself another, which she deemed to be
peculiarly important; this was to school impatience, and to place in the
right path a young creature who had much need of guidance. The first
time she heard Lucy spoken of, she was immediately persuaded that in one
so young, who had betrothed herself to a robber, a criminal, a fugitive
from justice such as Renzo, there must be some corruption, some
concealed vice. "_Tell me what company you keep, and I will tell you who
you are._" The visit of Lucy had confirmed her opinion; she appeared,
indeed, to be an artless girl, but who could tell the cause of her
downcast looks and timid replies? There was no great effort of mind
necessary to perceive that the maiden had opinions of her own. Her
blushes, sighs, and particularly her large and beautiful eyes, did not
please Donna Prassede at all. She regarded it as certain as if she had
been told it by having authority, that the misfortunes of Lucy were a
punishment from Heaven for her connection with that villain, and a
warning to withdraw herself from him entirely. That settled the
determination to lend her co-operation to further so desirable a work;
for as she frequently said to herself and others, "Was it not her
constant study to second the will of Heaven?" But, alas! she often fell
into the terrible mistake of taking for the will of Heaven, the vain
imaginings of her own brain. However, she was on the present occasion
very careful not to exhibit any of her proposed intentions. It was one
of her maxims, that the first rule to be observed in accomplishing a
good design, is to keep your motives to yourself.

Excepting the painful necessity of separation the offer appeared to both
mother and daughter very inviting, were it only on account of the short
distance from the castle to their village. Reading in each other's
countenance their mutual assent, they accepted with many thanks the
kindness of Donna Prassede, who renewing her kind promises, said she
would soon send them a letter to present to the cardinal. The two
females having departed, she requested Don Ferrante to write a letter,
who, being a literary and learned man, was employed as her secretary on
occasions of importance. In an affair of this sort, Don Ferrante did his
best, and he gave the original to his wife in order that she could copy
it; he warmly recommended to her an attention to the orthography, as
orthography was among the great number of things he had studied, and
among the small number over which he had control in his family. The
letter was forthwith copied and sent to the tailor's house. These events
occurred a few days before the cardinal had despatched a litter to bring
the mother and daughter to their abode.

Upon their arrival they went to the parsonage; orders having been left
for their immediate admittance to the presence of the cardinal. The
chaplain, who conducted them thither, gave them many instructions with
regard to the ceremony to be used with him, and the titles to be given
him; it was a continual torment to the poor man to behold the little
ceremony that reigned around the good archbishop in this respect. "This
results," he was accustomed to say, "from the excessive goodness of this
blessed man--from his great familiarity." And he added that he had "even
heard people address him with _Yes, sir_, and _No, sir_!"

At this moment, the cardinal was conversing with Don Abbondio on the
affairs of his parish; so that the latter had no opportunity to repeat
his instructions to the females; however, in passing by them as they
entered, he gave them a glance, to make them comprehend that he was well
satisfied with them, and that they should continue, like honest and
worthy women, to keep silence.

After the first reception, Agnes drew from her bosom the letter of Donna
Prassede, and gave it to the cardinal, saying, "It is from the Signora
Donna Prassede, who says that she knows your illustrious lordship well,
my lord, as naturally is the case with great people. When you have read,
you will see."

"It is well," said Frederick, after having read the letter, and
extracted its meaning from the trash of Don Ferrante's flowers of
rhetoric. He knew the family well enough to be certain that Lucy had
been invited into it with good intentions, and that she would be
sheltered from the snares and violence of her persecutor. As to his
opinion of Donna Prassede, we do not know it precisely; probably she was
not a person he would have chosen for Lucy's protectress; but it was not
his habit to undo things, apparently ordered by Providence, in order to
do them better.

"Submit, without regret, to this separation also, and to the suspense in
which you are left," said he. "Hope for the best, and confide in God!
and be persuaded, that all that He sends you, whether of joy or sorrow,
will be for your permanent good." Having received the benediction which
he bestowed on them, they took their leave.

Hardly had they reached the street, when they were surrounded by a swarm
of friends, who were expecting them, and who conducted them in triumph
to their house. Their female acquaintances congratulated them,
sympathised with them, and overwhelmed them with enquiries. Learning
that Lucy was to depart on the following morning, they broke forth in
exclamations of regret and disappointment. The men disputed with each
other the privilege of offering their services; each wished to remain
for the night to guard their cottage, which reminds us of a proverb;
"_If you would have people willing to confer favours on you, be sure not
to need them._" This warmth of reception served a little to withdraw
Lucy from the painful recollections which crowded upon her mind, at the
sight of her loved home.

At the sound of the bell which announced the commencement of the
ceremonies, all moved towards the church. The ceremonies over, Don
Abbondio, who had hastened home to see every thing arranged for
breakfast, was told that the cardinal wished to speak with him. He
proceeded to the chamber of his illustrious guest, who accosted him as
he entered, with "Signor Curate, why did you not unite in marriage, Lucy
to her betrothed?"

"They have emptied the sack this morning," thought Don Abbondio, and he
stammered forth, "Your illustrious lordship has no doubt heard of all
the difficulties of that business. It has been such an intricate affair,
that it cannot even now be seen into clearly. Your illustrious lordship
knows that the young girl is here, only by a miracle; and that no one
can tell where the young man is."

"I ask if it is true, that, before these unhappy events, you refused to
celebrate the marriage on the day agreed upon? and why you did so?"

"Truly--if your illustrious lordship knew--what terrible orders I
received--" and he stopped, indicating by his manner, though
respectfully, that it would be imprudent in the cardinal to enquire
farther.

"But," said Frederick, in a tone of much more gravity than he was
accustomed to employ, "it is your bishop, who, from a sense of duty, and
for your own justification, would learn from you, why you have not done
that which, in the ordinary course of events, it was your strict duty to
do?"

"My lord," said Don Abbondio, "I do not mean to say,--but it appears to
me, that as these things are now without remedy, it is useless to stir
them up--However, however, I say, that I am sure your illustrious
lordship would not betray a poor curate, because, you see, my lord, your
illustrious lordship cannot be every where present, and I--I remain
here, exposed--However, if you order me, I will tell all."

"Speak; I ask for nothing but to find you free from blame."

Don Abbondio then related his melancholy story, suppressing the name of
the principal personage, and substituting in its place, "_a great
lord_,"--thus giving to prudence the little that was left him in such an
extremity.

"And you had no other motive?" asked the cardinal, after having heard
him through.

"Perhaps I have not clearly explained myself. It was under pain of death
that they ordered me not to perform the ceremony."

"And this reason appeared sufficient to prevent the fulfilment of a
rigorous duty?"

"I know my obligation is to do my duty, even to my greatest detriment;
but when life is at stake----"

"And when you presented yourself to the church," said Frederick, with
increased severity of manner, "to be admitted to the holy ministry, were
there any such reservations made? Were you told that the duties imposed
by the ministry were free from every obstacle, exempt from every peril?
Were you told that personal safety was to be the guide and limit of your
duty? Were you not told expressly the reverse of all this? Were you not
warned that you were sent as a lamb among wolves? Did you not even then
know that there were violent men in the world, who would oppose you in
the performance of your duty? He, whose example should be our guide, in
imitation of whom we call ourselves shepherds, when he came on earth to
accomplish the designs of his benevolence, did he pay regard to his own
safety? And if your object be to preserve your miserable existence, at
the expense of charity and duty, there was no necessity for your
receiving holy unction, and entering into the priesthood. The world
imparts this virtue, teaches this doctrine. What do I say? O shame! the
world itself rejects it. It has likewise its laws, which prescribe good,
and prohibit evil; it has also its gospel, a gospel of pride and hatred,
which will not admit the love of life to be offered as a plea for the
transgression of its laws. It commands, and is obeyed; but we, we
children and messengers of the promise! what would become of the church,
if your language was held by all your brethren? Where would she now be,
if she had originally come forth with such doctrines?"

Don Abbondio hung down his head; he felt under the weight of these
arguments as a chicken under the talons of a hawk, who holds him
suspended in an unknown region, in an atmosphere he had never before
breathed. Seeing that a reply was necessary, he said, more alarmed than
convinced,--

"My lord, I have done wrong; since we should pay no regard to life, I
have nothing more to say. But when one has to do with certain powerful
people, who will not listen to reason, I do not see what is to be gained
by carrying things with a high hand."

"And know you not that our gain is to suffer for the sake of justice? If
you are ignorant of this, what is it you preach? What do you teach? What
is the _good news_ which you proclaim to the poor? Who has required this
at your hand, to overcome force by force? Certainly you will not be
asked at the day of judgment, if you have vanquished the powerful, for
you have neither had the commission nor the means to do so. But, you
_will_ be asked, if you have employed the means which have been placed
in your power, to do that which was prescribed to you, even when man had
the temerity to forbid it."

"These saints are odd creatures," thought Don Abbondio; "extract the
essence of this discourse, and it will be found that he has more at
heart the love of two young people, than the life of a priest." He would
have been delighted to have had the conversation terminate here, but he
well perceived that such was not the intention of the cardinal, who
appeared to be waiting a reply, or apology, or something of the kind.

"I say, my lord," replied he, "that I have done wrong--We cannot give
ourselves courage."

"And why, then, I might say to you, have you undertaken a ministry which
imposes on you the task of warring with the passions of the world? But,
I will rather say, how is it that you have forgotten, that where courage
is necessary to fulfil the obligations of this holy vocation, the Most
High would assuredly impart it to you, were you earnestly to implore it?
Do you think the millions of martyrs had courage naturally? that they
had naturally a contempt for life, young Christians who had just begun
to taste its charms, children, mothers! All had courage, simply because
courage was necessary, and they trusted in God to impart it. Knowing
your own weakness, have you ever thought of preparing yourself for the
difficult situations in which you might be placed? Ah! if, during so
many years of pastoral care, you had loved your flock, (and how could
you refrain from loving them?) if you had reposed in them your
affections, your dearest cares, your greatest delights, you would not
have failed in courage: love is intrepid; if you had loved those who
were committed to your spiritual guardianship, those whom you call
children--if you had really loved them, when you beheld two of them
threatened at the same time with yourself. Ah! certainly, charity would
have made you tremble for them, as the weakness of the flesh made you
tremble for yourself. You would have humbled yourself before God for
the first risings of selfish terror; you would have considered it a
temptation, and have implored strength to resist it. But, you would have
eagerly listened to the holy and noble anxiety for the safety of others,
for the safety of your children; you would have been unable to find a
moment of repose; you would have been impelled, constrained to do all
that you could to avert the evil that threatened them. With what then
has this love, this anxiety, inspired you? What have you done for them?
How have you been engaged in their service?"

And he paused for a reply.



CHAPTER XXVI.


Don Abbondio uttered not a word. It must be confessed that we ourselves,
who have nothing to fear but the criticisms of our readers, feel a
degree of repugnance in thus urging the unfashionable precepts of
charity, courage, indefatigable solicitude for others, and unlimited
sacrifice of self. But the reflection that these things were said by a
man who practised what he preached, encourages us to proceed in our
relation.

"You do not answer," resumed the cardinal. "Ah! if you had followed the
dictates of charity and duty, whatever had been the result, you would
now have been at no loss for a reply. Behold, then, what you have done;
you having obeyed iniquity, regardless of the requirements of duty; you
have obeyed her promptly; she had only to show herself to you, and
signify her desire, and she found you ready at her call. But she would
have had recourse to artifice with one who was on his guard against her,
she would have avoided exciting his suspicion, she would have employed
concealment, that she might mature at leisure her projects of treachery
and violence; she has, on the contrary, boldly ordered you to infringe
your duty, and keep silence; you have obeyed, you have infringed it,
and you have kept silence. I ask you now, if you have done nothing more.
Tell me if it is true, that you have advanced false pretences for your
refusal, so as not to reveal the true motive----"

"They have told this also, the tattlers!" thought Don Abbondio, but as
he gave no indication of addressing himself to speech, the cardinal
pursued,--"Is it true, that you told these young people falsehoods to
keep them in ignorance and darkness?--I am compelled, then, to believe
it; it only remains for me to blush for you, and to hope that you will
weep with me. Behold where it has led you, (merciful God! and you
advanced it as a justification!) behold to what it has conducted you,
this solicitude for your life! It has led you----(repel freely the
assertion if it appear to you unjust: take it as a salutary humiliation
if it is not) it has led you to deceive the feeble and unfortunate, to
lie to your children!"

"This is the way of the world!" thought Don Abbondio again; "to this
devil incarnate," (referring to the Unknown,) "his arms around his neck;
and to me, for a half lie, reproaches without end! But you are our
superiors; of course you are right. It is my star, that all the world is
against me, not excepting the saints." He continued aloud,--"I have done
wrong! I see that I have done wrong. But what could I do in so
embarrassing a situation?"

"Do you still ask? Have I not told you? And must I repeat it? You should
have loved, my son, you should have loved and prayed; you would then
have felt that iniquity might threaten, but not enforce obedience; you
would have united, according to the laws of God, those whom man desired
to separate; you would have exercised the ministry these children had a
right to expect from you. God would have been answerable for the
consequences, as you were obeying His orders; now, since you have obeyed
man, the responsibility falls on yourself. And what consequences, just
Heaven! And why did you not remember that you had a superior? How would
he now dare to reprimand you for having failed in your duty, if he did
not at all times feel himself obliged to aid you in its performance? Why
did you not inform your bishop of the obstacles which infamous power
exerted to prevent the exercise of your ministry?"

"Just the advice of Perpetua," thought Don Abbondio vexed, to whose
mind, even in the midst of these touching appeals, the images which most
frequently presented themselves, were those of the bravoes and Don
Roderick, alive and well, and returning at some future time, triumphant,
and inflamed with rage. Although the presence, the aspect, and the
language of the cardinal embarrassed him, and impressed him with a
degree of apprehension, it was, however, an embarrassment and an
apprehension which did not subjugate his thoughts, nor prevent him from
reflecting that, after all, the cardinal employed neither arms nor
bravoes.

"Why did you not think," pursued Frederick, "that if no other asylum was
open to these innocent victims, I could myself receive them, and place
them in safety, if you had sent them to me; sent them afflicted and
desolate to their bishop; as therefore belonging to him, as the most
precious part, I say not of his charge, but of his wealth! And as for
you, I should have been anxious for you; I would not have slept until
certain that not a hair of your head would be touched; and do you not
suppose that this man, however audacious he may be, would have lost
something of his audacity, when convinced that his designs were known by
me, that I watched over them, and that I was decided to employ for your
defence all the means within my power! Know you not, that if man
promises too often more than he performs, he threatens also more than he
dare execute? Know you not that iniquity does not depend solely on its
own strength, but on the credulity and cowardice of others?"

"Just the reasoning of Perpetua," thought Don Abbondio, without
considering that this singular coincidence in judgment of Frederick
Borromeo and his servant, was an additional argument against him.

"But you," pursued the cardinal, "you have only contemplated your own
danger. How is it possible that your personal safety can have appeared
of importance enough to sacrifice every thing to it?"

"Because I saw them, I saw those frightful faces," escaped from Don
Abbondio. "I heard those horrible words. Your illustrious worship talks
well, but you should have been in the place of your poor priest, and
have had the same thing happen to you."

No sooner had he uttered these words than he bit his tongue, perceiving
that he had suffered himself to be overcome by vexation; he muttered in
a low voice, "Now for the storm!" and raising his eyes timidly, he was
astonished to see the cardinal, whom he never could comprehend, pass
from the severe air of authority and rebuke, to that of a soft and
pensive gravity.

"It is but too true," said Frederick. "Such is our terrible and
miserable condition! We exact rigorously from others, that which it may
be we would not be willing to render ourselves; we judge, correct, and
reprimand, and God alone knows what we would do in the same situation,
what we _have_ done in similar situations. But, woe be to me, if I take
my weakness for the measure of another's duty, for the rule of my
instruction! Nevertheless it is certain, that while imparting precepts,
I should also afford an example to my neighbour, and not resemble the
pharisee, who imposes on others enormous burthens, which he himself
would not so much as touch with his finger. Hear me then, my son, my
brother; the errors of those in authority, are oftener better known to
others than to themselves; if you know that I have, from cowardice, or
respect to the opinions of men, neglected any part of my duty, tell me
of it frankly, so that where I have failed in example, I may at least
not be wanting in humble confession. Show me freely my weakness, and
then words from my mouth will be more available, because you will be
conscious that they do not proceed from me, but that they are the words
of Him who can give to us both the necessary strength to do what He
prescribes."

"Oh! what a holy man, but what a troublesome one!" thought Don Abbondio.
"He censures himself, and wishes that I should examine, criticise, and
control even _his_ actions!" He continued aloud,--"Oh! my lord jests,
surely! Who does not know the courage and indefatigable zeal of your
illustrious lordship?" "Yes," added he to himself, "by far too
indefatigable!"

"I do not desire praise that makes me tremble, because God knows my
imperfections, and what I know of them myself is sufficient to humble
me. But I would desire that we should humble ourselves together; I would
desire that you should feel what your conduct has been, and that your
language is opposed to the law you preach, and according to which you
will be judged."

"All turns against me. But these persons who have told your lordship
these things, have they not also told you that they introduced
themselves treacherously into my house, for the purpose of compelling me
to perform the marriage ceremony, in a manner unauthorised by the
church?"

"They _have_ told me, my son; but what afflicts and depresses me, is to
see you still seeking excuses; still excusing yourself by accusing
others; still accusing others of that which should have formed a part of
your own confession. Who placed these unfortunates, I do not say under
the necessity, but under the temptation, to do what they have? Would
they have sought this irregular method, if the legitimate way had not
been closed to them? Would they have thought of laying snares for their
pastor, if they had been received, aided, and advised by him? of
surprising him, if he had not concealed himself? And you wish to make
them bear the blame; and you are indignant that, after so many
misfortunes, what do I say? in the very midst of misfortune, they have
suffered a word of complaint to escape before their pastor and yours?
that the complaints of the oppressed and the afflicted should be hateful
to the world, is not astonishing; but to us! and what advantage would
their silence have been to you? Would you have been the gainer from
their cause having been committed entirely to the judgment of God? Is it
not an additional reason to love them, that they have afforded you the
occasion to hear the sincere voice of your pastor; that they have
provided for you the means to understand more clearly, and quite as far
as may be in your power, the great debt you have contracted to them? Ah!
if they had even been the aggressors, I would tell you to love them for
that very reason. Love them, because they have suffered, and do suffer;
love them, because they are a part of your flock, because you yourself
have need of pardon and of their prayers."

Don Abbondio kept silence, but no longer from vexation, and an
unwillingness to be persuaded; he kept silence from having more things
to think of than to say. The words which he heard were unexpected
conclusions, a new application of familiar doctrine. The evil done to
his neighbour, which apprehension on his own account had hitherto
prevented him from beholding in its true light, now made a novel and
striking impression on his mind. If he did not feel all the remorse
which the cardinal's remonstrances were calculated to produce, he
experienced at least secret dissatisfaction with himself and pity for
others; a blending of tenderness and shame; as, if we may be permitted
to use the comparison, a humid and crushed taper at first hisses and
smokes, but by degrees receives warmth, and imparts light, from the
flame of a great torch to which it is presented. Don Abbondio would have
loudly accused himself, and deplored his conduct, had not the idea of
Don Roderick still obtruded itself into his thoughts; however, his
feeling was sufficiently apparent to convince the cardinal that his
words had at last produced some effect.

"Now," pursued Frederick, "one of these unfortunate beings is a fugitive
afar off, the other on the point of departure; both have but too much
reason to keep asunder, without any present probability of being
re-united. Now, alas! they have no need of you; now, alas! you have no
longer the opportunity to do them good, and our short foresight can
assure us of but little of the future. But who knows, if God in his
compassion is not preparing the occasion for you? Ah! do not let it
escape; seek it, watch for it, implore it as a blessing."

"I shall not fail, my lord--I shall not fail to do so, I assure you,"
replied Don Abbondio, in a tone that came from the heart.

"Ah! yes, my son, yes!" cried Frederick with affectionate dignity;
"Heaven knows that I would have desired to hold other converse with you.
We have both had a long pilgrimage through life. Heaven knows how
painful it has been to me, to grieve your old age by reproaches; how
much more I should have loved to occupy the time of this interview in
mutual consolation, and mutual anticipation of the heavenly hope which
is so near our grasp! God grant that the language I have been obliged to
hold may be useful to both of us! Act in such a manner, that He will not
call me to account on the great and terrible day, for having retained
you in a ministry of which you were unworthy. Let us redeem the time;
the night is far spent; the spouse will not linger; let us keep our
lamps trimmed and burning. Let us offer to God our poor and miserable
hearts, that he may fill them with his love!" So saying he arose to
depart; Don Abbondio followed him.

We must now return to Donna Prassede, who came, according to agreement,
on the following morning, for Lucy, and also to pay her duty to the
cardinal. Frederick bestowed many praises on Lucy, and recommended her
warmly to the kindness of Donna Prassede; Lucy separated herself from
her mother with many tears, and again bade farewell to her cottage and
her village. But she was cheered by the hope of seeing her mother once
more before their final departure, as Donna Prassede informed them that
it was her intention to remain for a few days at her villa, and Agnes
promised to visit it again to take a last farewell.

The cardinal was on the point of setting out for another parish, when
the curate of the village near which the castle of the Unknown was
situated, demanded permission to see him. He presented a small packet,
and a letter from that lord, in which Frederick was requested to present
to Lucy's mother a hundred crowns of gold, to serve as a dowry for the
maiden, or for any other purpose she might desire. The Unknown also
requested him to tell them, that if ever they should be in need of his
services, the poor girl knew but too well the place of his abode, and as
for him, he should consider it a high privilege to afford her
protection and assistance. The cardinal sent immediately for Agnes, and
informed her of the commission he had received. She heard it with equal
surprise and joy.

"God reward this signor!" said she; "your illustrious lordship will
thank him in our name, but do not say a word of the matter to any one,
because we live in a world--you will excuse me, I know a man like your
lordship does not tattle about such things, but--you understand me."

Returning to her house, she shut herself up in her chamber, and untied
the packet; although she was prepared for the sight, she was filled with
wonder at seeing in her own power and in one heap such a quantity of
those coins which she had rarely ever seen before, and never more than
one at a time. She counted them over and over again, and wrapping them
carefully in a leather covering, concealed them under one corner of her
bed. The rest of the day was employed in reverie and projects for the
future, and desires for the arrival of the morrow; the night was passed
in restless dreams, and vain imaginings of the blessings to be produced
by this gold; at break of day, she arose, and departed for the villa of
Donna Prassede.

The repugnance Lucy had felt to mention her vow, had not all diminished,
but she resolved to overcome it, and to disclose the circumstance to her
mother in this conversation, which would probably be the last they
should have for a long time.

No sooner were they left alone, than Agnes, with an animated
countenance, but in a low voice, said, "I have great news to tell you,"
and she related her unexpected good fortune.

"God bless this signor," said Lucy; "you have now enough to live
comfortably yourself, and also to benefit others."

"Oh! yes, we can do a great deal with this money! Listen, I have only
you, that is, I have only you two in the world, for from the moment that
Renzo first addressed you, I have considered him as my son. We will hope
that no misfortune has befallen him, and that we shall soon hear from
him. As for myself, I would have wished to lay my bones in my own
country, but now that you cannot stay here on account of this villain,
(oh! even to think that he was near me, would make me dislike any
place!) I am quite willing to go away. I would have gone with you to the
end of the earth before this good fortune, but how could we do it
without money? The poor youth had indeed saved a few pence, of which the
law deprived him, but in recompence God has sent us a fortune. So then,
when he has informed us that he is living, and where he is, and what are
his intentions, I will go to Milan for you--yes, I will go for you.
Formerly I would not have dreamt of such a thing, but misfortune gives
courage and experience. I have been to Monza, and I know what it is to
travel. I will take with me a man of resolution; for instance, Alessio
di Maggianico; I will pay the expense, and--do you understand?"

But perceiving that Lucy, instead of exhibiting sympathy with her plans,
could with difficulty conceal her agitation and distress, she stopped in
the midst of her harangue, exclaiming, "What is the matter? are you not
of my opinion?"

"My poor mother!" cried Lucy, throwing her arms around her neck, and
concealing on her bosom her face, bathed in tears.

"What is the matter?" said Agnes, in alarm.

"I ought to have told you sooner, but I had not the heart to do it. Have
pity on me."

"But speak, speak then."

"I cannot be the wife of that unfortunate youth."

"Why? how?"

Lucy, with downcast looks and flowing tears, confessed at last the vow
which she had made. She clasped her hands, and asked pardon of her
mother for having concealed it from her, conjuring her to speak of it to
no one, and to lend her aid to enable her to fulfil it.

Agnes was overwhelmed with consternation; she would have been angry with
her daughter for so long maintaining silence towards her, had not the
grave thoughts that the circumstance itself excited, stifled all feeling
of resentment. She would have blamed her for her vow, had it not
appeared to her to be contending against Heaven; for Lucy described to
her again, in more lively colours than before, that horrible night, her
utter desolation, and unexpected preservation! Agnes listened
attentively; and a hundred examples that she had often heard related,
that she _herself_ even had related to her daughter, of strange and
horrible punishments for violated vows, came to her memory. "And what
wilt thou do now?" said she.

"It is with the Lord that care rests; the Lord and the holy Virgin. I
have placed myself in their hands; they have never yet abandoned me,
they will not abandon me now that----The favour I ask of God, the only
favour, after the safety of my soul, is to be restored to you, my
beloved mother! He will grant it, yes, he will grant it. That fatal
day----in the carriage----Oh! most holy Virgin! Those men----who would
have thought I should be the next day with you?"

"But why not tell your mother at once?"

"Forgive me, I had not the heart----What use was there in afflicting you
sooner?"

"And Renzo?" said Agnes, shaking her head.

"Ah!" cried Lucy, starting, "I must think no more of the poor youth. God
has not intended----You see it appears to be his will that we should
separate. And who knows?----But no, no; the Lord will preserve him from
every danger, and render him, perhaps, happier without me."

"But, nevertheless, if you had not bound yourself for ever, provided no
misfortune has happened to Renzo, with this money, I would have found a
remedy for all our other evils."

"But, my mother, would this money have been ours if I had not passed
that terrible night? It is God's will that all should be thus; his will
be done!" And her voice became inarticulate through tears.

At this unexpected argument, Agnes maintained a mournful silence. After
some moments, Lucy, suppressing her sobs, resumed,--"Now that the thing
is done, we must submit cheerfully; and you, dear mother, you can aid
me, first in praying to the Lord for your poor daughter, and then it is
necessary that Renzo should know it. When you ascertain where he is,
have him written to, find a man,--your cousin Alessio, for instance, who
is prudent and kind, who has always wished us well, and who will not
tattle. Make Alessio write to him, and inform him of the circumstance as
it occurred, where I was, and how I suffered; tell him that God has
ordered it thus, and that he must set his heart at rest; that, as for
me, I can never be united to any one. Make him understand the matter
clearly; when he knows that I have promised the Virgin----he always has
been pious----And you, as soon as you hear from him, get some one to
write to me, let me know that he is safe and well----and, nothing more."

Agnes, with much emotion, assured her daughter that all should be done
as she desired.

"I would say something more; that which has befallen the poor youth,
would never have occurred to him, if he had never thought of me. He is a
wanderer, a fugitive; he has lost all his little savings; he has been
deprived of every thing he possessed, poor fellow! and you know why--and
we, we have so much money! Oh! mother, since the Lord has sent us
wealth, and since the unfortunate----you regard him as your son, do you
not? Ah! divide it, share it with him! Endeavour to find a safe man, and
send him the half of it. God knows how much he may need it!"

"That is just what I was thinking of," replied Agnes. "Yes, I will do it
certainly. Poor youth! And why did you think I was so pleased with the
money, if it were not----but--I came here well pleased,'tis true; but,
since matters are so, I will send it to him. Poor youth! he also----I
know what I mean. Certainly money gives pleasure to those who have need
of it; but this money--Ah! it is not this that will make him prosper."

Lucy returned thanks to her mother for her prompt and liberal accordance
with her request, so fervently, that an observer would have imagined her
heart to be still devoted to Renzo, more than she herself was aware of.

"And without thee, what shall I do--I, thy poor mother?" said Agnes,
weeping in her turn.

"And I, without you, my dear mother? and in a house of strangers, at
Milan? But the Lord will be with us both, and will re-unite us. In eight
or nine months we shall see each other again; let us leave it to him. I
will incessantly implore this favour from the Virgin; if I had any thing
more to offer her, I would not hesitate; but she is so compassionate,
she will surely grant my prayer."

The mother and daughter parted with many tears, promising to see each
other again, the coming autumn, at the latest, as if it depended on
themselves!

A long time elapsed before Agnes heard any thing of Renzo; neither
message nor letter was received from him; the people of the village were
as ignorant concerning him as herself.

She was not the only one whose enquiries had been fruitless; it was not
a mere ceremony in the cardinal Frederick, when he promised Lucy and
Agnes, to inform himself of the history and fate of Renzo; he fulfilled
that promise, by writing immediately to Bergamo for the purpose. While
at Milan, on his return from visiting his diocese, he received a reply,
in which he was informed that little was known of the young man; that he
had made, it was true, a short sojourn in such a place, but that one
morning he had suddenly disappeared; that a relation of his, with whom
he had lived while there, knew not what had become of him; he thought
that he had probably enlisted for the Levant, or had passed into
Germany, or, which was most likely, that he had perished in crossing the
river. It was added, however, that should any more definite intelligence
be received concerning him, his illustrious lordship should immediately
be informed of it.

These reports eventually travelled to Lecco, and reached the ears of
Agnes. The poor woman did her best to ascertain the truth of them; but
she was kept in a state of suspense and anxiety by the contradictory
accounts which were given, and which were, in fact, all without
foundation.

The governor of Milan, lieutenant-general under Don Gonzalo Fernandez de
Cordova, had complained bitterly to the lord resident of Venice at
Milan, that a robber, a villain, an instigator of pillage and massacre,
the famous Lorenzo Tramaglino, had been received in the Bergamascan
territory. The resident replied, that he knew nothing of the matter, but
that he would write to Venice for information concerning it, in order to
give some explanation to his Excellency.

It was a maxim at Venice to encourage the tendency of the Milanese
workmen in silk, to establish themselves in the Bergamascan territory,
by making them find it to their advantage to do so. For this reason,
Bortolo was warned confidentially, that Renzo was not safe in his
present residence, and that he would do wisely to place him in some
other manufactory, and even cause him to change his name for a while.
Bortolo, who was quick of apprehension, made no objections, related the
matter to his cousin, and taking him to another place fifteen miles off,
he presented him, under the name of _Antonio Rivolta_, to the master of
the manufactory, who was a native of Milan, and moreover his old
acquaintance. He, although the times were hard, did not require much
entreaty to induce him to receive a workman so warmly recommended by an
old friend. He saw reason afterwards to congratulate himself on the
acquisition, although, at first, the young man appeared rather heedless,
because, when they called _Antonio_, he scarcely ever answered.

A short time after, an order arrived from Venice to the captain of
Bergamo, to inform himself, and send word to government, whether there
was not within his jurisdiction, and particularly in such a village,
such an individual. The captain having obeyed in the best manner he
could, transmitted a reply in the negative, which was transmitted to the
resident at Milan, in order that he should transmit it to Don Gonzalo
Fernandez de Cordova.

There were not wanting inquisitive people, who enquired of Bortolo why
the young man had left him. The first time the question was put to him,
he simply replied, "He has disappeared." To relieve himself, however,
from the most persevering, he framed the stories we have already
related, at the same time offering them as mere reports that he had
heard; without, however, placing much reliance on them.

But when enquiry came to be made by order of the cardinal, or rather, by
order of some great person, as his name was not mentioned, Bortolo
became more uneasy, and judged it prudent to maintain his ordinary
method of reply, with this addition, that he gave to the stories he had
fabricated an air of greater verity and plausibility.

We must not conclude, however, that Don Gonzalo had any personal dislike
to our poor mountaineer; we must not conclude that, informed perhaps of
his disrespect and ill-timed jests upon his _Moorish king enchained by
the throat_, he wished to wreak his vengeance on him, nor that he
considered him a person dangerous enough to be pursued even in his
flight, as was Hannibal by the Roman senate. Don Gonzalo had too many
things to think of, to trouble himself with the actions of Renzo, and if
he appeared to do so, it was the result of a singular concurrence of
circumstances; by which the poor fellow, without wishing it, or even
knowing why, found himself attached, as by an invisible thread, to
numerous and important affairs.



CHAPTER XXVII.


We have had occasion to mention more than once a war which was then
fermenting, for the succession to the states of the Duke Vincenzo
Gonzaga, the second of the name; we have said that, at the death of this
duke, his nearest heir, Carlos Gonzaga, chief of a younger branch
transplanted to France, where he possessed the duchies of Nevers and
Rhetel, had entered into possession of Mantua and Montferrat; the
Spanish minister, who wished, at any price, to exclude from these two
fiefs the new prince, and wanted some pretence to advance for his
exclusion, had declared his intention to support the claims upon Mantua
of another Gonzaga, Ferrante, Prince of Guastalla; and those upon
Montferrat of Carlos Emanuel the First, Duke of Savoy, and Margherita
Gonzaga, Duchess dowager of Lorraine. Don Gonzalo, who was descended
from the great captain whose name he bore, had already made war in
Flanders; and as he was desirous beyond measure to direct one in Italy,
he made the greatest efforts to promote it. By interpreting the
intentions, and by going beyond the orders of the minister, he had, in
the mean time, concluded with the Duke of Savoy a treaty for the
invasion and division of Montferrat; and easily obtained the
ratification of it, by the count duke, by persuading him that the
acquisition of Casale, which was the point the best defended, of the
portion granted to the King of Spain, was extremely easy. However, he
still continued to protest, in the name of his sovereign, that he
desired to occupy the country only as a trust, until the decision of the
emperor should be declared. But in the meantime the emperor, influenced
by others as well as by motives of his own, had refused the investiture
to the new duke, and ordered him to leave in sequestration, the states
which had been the subject of contention; promising, after he should
have heard both parties, to give it to the one whom he should deem
justly entitled to it. The Duke of Nevers would not submit to these
conditions.

The duke had high and powerful friends, being supported by the Cardinal
Richelieu, the senate of Venice, and the pope. But the first of these,
absorbed at the time by the siege of Rochelle, embarrassed in a war with
England, thwarted by the party of the queen mother, Mary de' Medici,
who, for particular reasons, was hostile to the house of Nevers, could
only hold out hopes and promises. The Venetians would not stir in the
contest, until a French army arrived in Italy; and while secretly aiding
the duke, they confined themselves, in their negotiations with the court
of Madrid, and the government of Milan, to protests, offers, or even
threats, according to circumstances. Urban VIII. recommended the Duke
of Nevers to his friends, interceded for him with his adversaries, and
made propositions of peace; but he never afforded him any military aid.

The two powers, allied for offensive operations, could then securely
begin their enterprise; Carlos Emanuel entered Montferrat, and Don
Gonzalo gladly undertook the siege of Casale; but he did not meet with
the success he had anticipated. The court did not afford him all the
supplies he demanded; his ally, on the contrary, was too liberal in his
aid to the cause; for, after having taken his own portion, he also took
that which had been assigned to the King of Spain. Don Gonzalo,
inexpressibly enraged, but fearing, if he made the least complaint, that
Carlos, as active in intrigue, and as brave in arms, as he was fickle in
disposition, and false to his promises, would throw himself on the side
of France; was constrained to shut his eyes, to champ the bit, and to
maintain a satisfied appearance. Whether from the firm resistance of the
besieged, or from the small number of troops employed against them, or,
according to some statements, from the numerous mistakes of Don Gonzalo,
the siege, although protracted, was finally unsuccessful. It was at this
very period that the sedition of Milan obliged Don Gonzalo to go thither
in person.

In the relation that was there made to him, the flight of Renzo was
mentioned, and the facts, real or supposed, which had caused his arrest;
he was also informed that this man had taken refuge in the territory of
Bergamo. This latter circumstance attracted the attention of Don
Gonzalo; he knew that the Venetians had taken an interest in the
insurrection of Milan, and that, in the beginning of it, they had
imagined that, on that account alone, he would be obliged to raise the
siege of Casale, and thus incur a heavy disappointment to his hopes. In
addition to this, immediately after this event, the news was received,
so much desired by the senate, and so much dreaded by Gonzalo, of the
surrender of Rochelle. Stung to the quick, as a man and a politician,
and vexed at his loss of reputation, he sought out every occasion to
convince the Venetians, that he had lost none of his former boldness
and determination; he therefore ventured to make loud complaints of the
conduct of the senate. The resident of Venice, having come to pay his
respects to him, and endeavouring to read in his features and deportment
what was passing in his mind, Don Gonzalo spoke lightly of the tumult,
as a thing already quieted, making use, however, of the reception of
Renzo, in the Bergamascan territory, as a pretext for complaint against
the Venetians. The result is known to our readers. When he had answered
his own purposes, with the affair, it was entirely forgotten by him.

But Renzo, who was far from suspecting the little importance that was in
reality attached to him, had, for a long time, no other thought but to
keep himself concealed. It may well be supposed that he desired ardently
to send intelligence to Lucy and her mother, and to hear from them in
return. But to this, there were two very great obstacles. It was
necessary to confide in an amanuensis, as he himself was unable to
write,--an accomplishment in those days not very usual in his class; and
how could he venture to do this where all were strangers to him? The
other difficulty was to find a trusty messenger, to take charge of the
letter. He finally succeeded in overcoming these difficulties, and found
one of his companions who could write for him. But not knowing whether
Lucy and Agnes were still at Monza, he thought it best to enclose the
letter under cover to Father Christopher, with a few lines in addition
to him. The writer engaged to send it, and gave it to a man who was to
pass near Pescarenico, and who left it in an inn on the route, in a
neighbouring place to the convent, and with many injunctions for its
safe delivery. As the cover was directed to a capuchin, it was carried
to Pescarenico, but it was never known what farther became of it. Renzo,
not receiving an answer, caused another letter to be written, and
enclosed it to one of his relations at Lecco. This time the letter
reached its destination. Agnes requested her cousin Alessio to read it
for her; and to write an answer, which was sent to Antonio Rivolta, at
the place of his abode; all this, however, was not done so quickly as
we tell it. Renzo received the answer, and wrote a reply; in short,
there was a correspondence, however irregular, established between them.
But the manner of carrying on such a correspondence, which is the same,
perhaps, at this day, we will explain. The absent party who can't write,
selects one who possesses the art, from amongst his own class, in which
he can more securely trust. To him he explains with more or less
clearness his subject and his thoughts. The man of letters comprehends
part, guesses the rest, gives an opinion, proposes an alteration, and
finishes with "leave it to me." Then begins the translation of the
spoken into the written thoughts.--The writer corrects, improves,
overcharges, diminishes, or even omits, according to his opinion of the
graces of style. The finished letter is, accordingly, often wide of the
mark aimed at. But when, at length, it reaches the hands of a
correspondent, equally deficient in the art of reading running hand, he
is under the like necessity of finding a learned clerk of the same
calibre to interpret the hieroglyphics. Hereupon arise questions upon
the various meanings. Towards their elucidation, the one supplies
philological notices upon the text; the other, commentaries upon the
hidden matter; so that, after mature discussion, they may come to the
same understanding between themselves, however remote that may be from
the intention of the originator of the perplexity.

This was precisely the condition of our two correspondents.

The first letter from Renzo contained many details; he informed Agnes of
the circumstance of his flight, his subsequent adventures, and his
actual situation. These events, however, were rather hinted at, than
clearly explained, so that Agnes and her interpreter were far from
drawing any definite conclusions from the relation of them. He spoke of
secret information, of a change of name; that he was in safety, but that
he was obliged to keep himself concealed; further, the letter contained
pressing and passionate enquiries with regard to Lucy, with some obscure
references to the reports which had reached him, mingled with vague
expressions of hope, and plans for the future, and affectionate
exhortations to constancy and patience.

Some time after the receipt of this letter, Agnes sent Renzo an answer,
with the fifty crowns that had been assigned him by Lucy. At the sight
of so much gold, he did not know what to think; and, with his mind
agitated by reflections by no means agreeable, he went in search of his
amanuensis, requesting him to interpret the letter, and afford him a
clue to the developement of the mystery.

The amanuensis of Agnes, after some complaints on the want of clearness
in Renzo's epistle, described the wonderful history of _this person_ (so
he called the Unknown), and thus accounted for the fifty crowns; then he
mentioned the vow, but only periphrastically; adding more explicitly the
advice, to set his heart at rest, and not to think of Lucy any more.

Renzo was very near quarrelling with his interpreter; he trembled; he
was enraged with what he had understood, and with what he had not
understood. He made him read three or four times this melancholy
epistle, sometimes understanding it better, sometimes finding obscure
and inexplicable that which at first had appeared clear. In the delirium
of his passion, he desired his amanuensis to write an answer
immediately. After the strongest expressions of pity and horror at the
misfortunes of Lucy; "Write," pursued he, "that I do not wish to set my
heart at rest, and that I never will; that this is not advice to give
me; and that, moreover, I will never touch the money, but will keep it
in trust, as the dowry of the young girl; that Lucy belongs to me, and
that I will not abide by her vow; that I have always heard that the
Virgin interests herself in our affairs, for the purpose of aiding the
afflicted, and obtaining favour for them; but that I have never heard
that she will protect those who do evil, and fail to perform their
promises; say that, as such cannot be the case, her vow is good for
nothing; that with this money we can establish ourselves here, and that,
if our affairs are now a little perplexed, it is a storm which will soon
pass away."

Agnes received this letter, sent an answer, and the correspondence
continued for some time, as we have related. When her mother informed
Lucy that Renzo was well and in safety, she derived great relief from
the intelligence, desiring but one thing more, which was, that he should
forget, or rather, that he should endeavour to forget her. On her part
she made a similar resolution, with respect to him, a hundred times a
day; and employing every means of which she was mistress to accomplish
so desirable an end, she applied herself incessantly to labour,
endeavouring to give to it all the powers of her soul. When the image of
Renzo occurred to her mind, she tried to banish it by prayer; but, while
thinking of her mother, (and how could she avoid thinking of her
mother?) the image of Renzo intruded himself as a third into the place
so often occupied by the real Renzo. However, if she did not succeed in
forgetting, she contrived at least to think less frequently of him; and
in this she would have been more successful, had she been left to
prosecute the work alone; but, alas! Donna Prassede, who, on her part,
was determined to drive the poor youth from her mind, thought there was
no better expedient for the purpose than to talk of him incessantly;
"Well," said she, "do you still think of him?"

"I think of no one," said Lucy.

Donna Prassede, who was not a woman to be satisfied with such an answer,
replied, "that she wanted actions, not words." Discussing at length, the
tendencies of young girls, she said, "When they have once given their
heart to a libertine, it is impossible to withdraw their affections. If
their love for an honest man is, by whatever means, unfortunate, they
are soon comforted, but love for a libertine is an incurable wound." And
then beginning the panegyric of poor Renzo, of this rascal, who wished
to deluge Milan in blood, and reduce it to ashes, she concluded, by
insisting that Lucy should confess the crimes of which he had been
guilty in his own country.

Lucy, with a voice trembling from shame, grief, and from as much
indignation as her gentle disposition and humble station permitted her,
declared and protested, that in her village this poor youth had always
acted peaceably and honourably, and had obtained a good reputation.
"She wished," she said, "that one of his countrymen were present to bear
testimony to the truth." Even respecting the events at Milan, of which,
'twas true, she knew not the details, she defended him, and solely on
account of the acquaintance she had had with his habits from infancy.
She defended him (or rather, she _meant_ to defend him) from the pure
duty of charity, from love of truth, and as being her neighbour. But
Donna Prassede deduced, from this defence, new arguments to convince
Lucy, that this man still held a place in her heart, of which he was not
worthy. At the degrading portrait which the old lady drew of him, the
habitual feelings of her heart, with regard to him, and her knowledge
and estimate of his character, revived with double force and
distinctness. Her recollections, which she had had so much difficulty in
subduing, returned vividly to her imagination; in proportion to the
aversion and contempt manifested by Donna Prassede towards the
unfortunate youth, just in such proportion did she recall her former
motives for esteem and sympathy; this blind and violent hatred excited
in her heart stronger pity and tenderness. Such conversations could not
be much prolonged without resolving Lucy's words into tears.

If Donna Prassede had been led to this course of conduct by hatred
towards Lucy, the tears of the latter, which flowed freely during these
examinations, might have subdued her to silence, but as she was moved to
speak by the desire of doing good, she never suffered herself to be
softened by them; for groans and supplications may arrest the arm of an
enemy, but not the friendly lance of the surgeon. After having
reproached her for her wickedness, she passed to exhortations and
advice, mingling also a few praises, to temper the bitter with the
sweet, and obtain more certainly the effect she desired. These disputes,
which had nearly the same beginning, middle, and end, did not, however,
leave any trace of resentment against her severe lecturer in the gentle
bosom of Lucy; she was, in other respects, treated with much kindness by
the lady, and she believed her, even in this matter, to be guided by
good, though mistaken intentions. There did follow them, however, such
agitation, such uneasy awakening of slumbering thoughts, that much time
and effort were requisite to restore her to any degree of tranquillity.

It was a happiness for Lucy that Donna Prassede's sphere of usefulness
was somewhat extensive; consequently these tiresome conversations could
not be so frequently repeated. Besides her immediate household,
composed, according to her opinion, of persons that had more or less
need of correction and regulation; and besides all the other occasions
which presented themselves for her rendering the same office from pure
benevolence to persons who required not the duty at her hands; she had
five daughters, neither of whom lived at home, but they gave her the
more trouble from that very cause. Three were nuns; and two were
married. Donna Prassede consequently had three monasteries and two
families to govern; a vast and complicated machinery, and the more
troublesome, as two husbands, supported by a numerous kindred, three
abbesses, defended by other dignitaries, and a great number of nuns,
would not accept her superintendence. There was a continual warfare,
polite indeed, but active and vigilant; a perpetual attention to avoid
her solicitude, to close up the avenues to her advice, to elude her
enquiries, and to keep her in as much ignorance as possible of their
affairs. In her own family, however, her zeal could display itself
freely; all were governed by her authority, and submissive to her, in
every respect, with the exception of Don Ferrante; with him things were
conducted in a peculiar manner.

A man of study, he neither loved to obey nor command; he was perfectly
willing that his wife should be mistress in all things pertaining to
household affairs, but not that he should be her slave; and if, at her
request, he lent upon occasion the services of his pen, it was because
he had a particular taste for such employments. And, moreover, he could
refuse to do it, when not convinced of the propriety of her demand.
"Well," he would say, "do it yourself, since the matter appears so plain
to you." Donna Prassede, after vainly trying to induce him to
submission, took refuge in grumbling against him as an original, a man
who would have his own way, a mere scholar; which latter title,
however, she never gave him without a degree of complacency, mingling
itself with her displeasure.

Don Ferrante passed much time in his study, where he had a considerable
collection of choice books; he had selected the most famous works on
many different subjects, in each of which he was more or less versed. In
astrology he was justly considered more than an amateur, because he not
only possessed the general notions, and the common vocabulary of
influences, aspects, and conjunctions, but he could speak to the point,
and, like a professor, of the twelve houses of heaven, of the great and
lesser circles, of degrees, lucid and obscure, of exaltations, passages,
and revolutions; in short, of the principles the most certain and most
recondite of the science. For more than twenty years, in long and
frequent disputes, he had sustained the pre-eminence of _Cardan_ against
another learned man attached to the system of _Alcabizio_, "from pure
obstinacy," said Don Ferrante, who, in acknowledging voluntarily the
superiority of the ancients, could not, however, endure the prejudice
which would never accord to the moderns, even that which they evidently
deserved. He had also a more than ordinary acquaintance with the history
of the science; he could cite the most celebrated predictions which had
been verified, and reason very skilfully and learnedly on other
celebrated predictions which had _not_ been verified, demonstrating that
the failure was not owing to any deficiency in the science, but to the
ignorance which could not apply its principles.

He had acquired as much ancient philosophy as would have contented a man
of ordinary ambition, but he was continually adding to his stock from
the study of Diogenes Laertius; however, as we cannot adhere to every
system, and as, from among them all, a choice is necessary to him who
desires the reputation of a philosopher, Don Ferrante made choice of
Aristotle, who, as he was accustomed to say, was neither ancient nor
modern. He possessed many works of the wisest and most subtle disciples
of the school of Aristotle among the moderns; as to those of his
opponents, he would not read them, "because it would be a waste of
time," he said, "nor buy them, because it would be a waste of money."
In the judgment of the learned, therefore, Don Ferrante passed for an
accomplished peripatetic, although this was not the judgment he passed
on himself, for, more than once, he was heard to declare, with singular
modesty, that the essence, the universals, the soul of the world, and
the nature of things, were not matters so clear as people thought.

As to natural philosophy, he had made it more a pastime than a study: he
had rather read than digested the works of Aristotle himself on the
subject. Nevertheless, with a slight acquaintance with that author, and
the knowledge he had incidentally gathered from other treatises of
general philosophy, he could, when necessary, entertain an assembly of
learned persons in reasoning most acutely on the wonderful virtues and
singular characteristics of many plants. He could describe exactly the
forms and habits of the syrens, and the phoenix, the only one of its
kind; he could explain how it was that the salamander lived in fire, how
drops of dew became pearls in the shell, how the chameleon lived on air,
and a thousand other secrets of the same nature.

He was, however, much more addicted to the study of magic and sorcery,
as this was a science more in vogue, and withal more serviceable, and
the facts of which were of pre-eminent importance. It is not necessary
to add that, in devotion to such a science, he had no other purpose than
to obtain an accurate knowledge of the worst artifices of the sorcerers,
in order to guard himself against them. Guided by the great _Martino
Delrio_, he was able to discourse, _ex professo_, on the enchantment of
love, the enchantment of sleep, the enchantment of hatred, and on the
innumerable species of these three chief enchantments, which, alas! are
witnessed every day in their destructive and baneful effects.

His knowledge of history, especially universal history, was not less
vast and solid. "But," said he often, "what is history without politics?
a guide who conducts without teaching any one the way; as politics
without history, is a man without a guide to conduct him." Here was then
a small place on his shelf assigned to statistics; there, among others
of the second rank, were seen Bodin, Cavalcanti, Sansovino, Paruta, and
Boccalini. There were, however, two books that Don Ferrante preferred to
all others on the subject; two, which he called, for a long time, the
first of the kind, without deciding to which of the two this rank
exclusively belonged. One was _Il Principe_ and the _Discorsi_ of the
celebrated secretary of Florence. "A rascal, 'tis true," said he, "but
profound;" the other, _La Ragion di Stato_, of the not less celebrated
Giovanni Botero. "An honest man, 'tis true," said he, "but cunning."
But, a short time before the period to which our history belongs, a work
appeared which had terminated the question of pre-eminence; a work in
which was comprised and condensed a relation of every vice, in order to
enable men to avoid it, and every virtue, in order to enable men to
practise it,--a book of few leaves, indeed, but all of gold; in a word,
the _Statista Regnante_ of _Don Valeriano Castiglione_; of the
celebrated man upon whom the most learned men emulated each other in
bestowing praises, and for whose notice the greatest personages
contended; whom Pope Urban VIII. honoured with a magnificent eulogium;
whom Cardinal Borghese and the Viceroy of Naples, Don Pietro de Toledo,
solicited to write, the first, the life of Pope Paul V., the second, the
wars of the Catholic king in Italy, and both in vain; whom Louis XIII.,
King of France, with the advice of Cardinal Richelieu, named his
historiographer; upon whom the Duke Carlos Emanuel, of Savoy, conferred
the same office; and in praise of whom the Duchess Christina, daughter
to his most Christian majesty, Henry IV., added in a diploma, after many
other titles, "the renown he had obtained in Italy as the first writer
of the age."

But if Don Ferrante might be said to be well versed in all the above
sciences, there was one in which he deserved, and really obtained, the
title of professor, the science of chivalry. He not only spoke of it as
a master, but was often requested to interfere in nice points of honour,
and give his decision. He had in his library, and, we may add, in his
head also, the works of the most esteemed writers on this subject,
particularly Torquato Tasso, whom he had always ready; and he could, if
required, cite from memory all the passages of the Jerusalem Delivered,
which might be brought forward as authority in these matters. We might
speak more at large of this learned man, but we feel it to be time to
resume the thread of our history.

Nothing of importance occurred to any of the personages of our story
before the following autumn, when Agnes and Lucy expected to meet again;
but a great public event disappointed this hope. Other events followed,
which produced no material change in their destiny. Then occurred new
misfortunes, powerful and overwhelming, coming upon them like a
hurricane, which impetuously tears up and scatters every object in its
way, sweeping the land, and bearing off, with its irresistible and
mighty power, every vestige of peace and prosperity. That the particular
facts which remain to be related may not appear obscure, we must recur
for awhile to the farther recital of general facts.



CHAPTER XXVIII.


After the famous sedition on St. Martin's day, it may be said that
abundance flowed into Milan, as if by enchantment. The shops were well
stored with bread, the price of which was no higher than in the most
fruitful years; those who, on that terrible day, had howled through the
streets, and committed every excess in their power, had now reason to
congratulate themselves. But, with the cessation of their alarm, they
had not resumed their accustomed quiet; on the squares, and in the inns,
there were congratulations and boastings (although in an under tone) at
having hit on a mode of reducing the price of bread. However, in the
midst of these popular rejoicings, there reigned a vague apprehension
and presentiment that this happiness would be of short duration. They
besieged the bakers and vendors of flour with the same pertinacity as
during the period of the former factitious and transient abundance,
produced by the first tariff of Antony Ferrer. He who had some pence by
him converted them immediately into bread and flour, which was piled in
chests, in small casks, and even in vessels of earthen ware. In thus
attempting to extend the advantages of the moment, their long duration
was rendered, I do not say impossible, for it was so already; but even
their momentary continuance thus became still more difficult.

On the fifteenth of November, Antony Ferrer, "_by the order of his
excellency_," published a decree in which it was forbidden to any one,
having any quantity of grain or flour in his house, to purchase more;
and to the rest of the people to buy bread beyond that which was
necessary for two days, "_under pecuniary and corporal penalties at the
discretion of his excellency_." The decree ordered the _anziani_
(officers of justice), and invited every body, as a duty, to denounce
the offenders; it commanded the judges to cause search to be made in
every house which might be mentioned to them, issuing at the same time a
new command to the bakers to keep their shops well furnished with bread,
"_under penalty of five years in the galleys, and still greater
punishment at the discretion of his excellency_." A great effort of
imagination would be required to believe that such orders were easy of
execution.

In commanding the bakers to make such a quantity of bread, means ought
to have been afforded for the supply of the material of which it was to
be made. In seasons of scarcity, there is always an endeavour to make
into bread various kinds of aliment, which, under ordinary
circumstances, are consumed under other forms. In this way rice was
introduced into the composition of a bread which was called mistura.[33]
On the 23d of November, there was a decree issued, which placed at the
order of the vicar and twelve members of provision the half of the rice
that each possessed; under penalty for selling it without the permission
of those lords of the loss of the entire commodity, and a fine of three
crowns the bushel.

      [33] Mixture.

But this rice had to be paid for at a price very disproportioned to that
of bread. The burden of supplying this enormous difference was imposed
on the city: but the council of ten resolved to send a remonstrance to
the governor, on the impossibility of sustaining such a tax; and the
governor fixed, by a decree of the 13th of December, the price of rice
at twelve livres the bushel. It is also probable, though nowhere
expressly stated, that the maximum price for other sorts of grain was
fixed by other proclamations. Whilst, by these various measures, bread
and flour were kept at a low price in Milan, it consequently happened
that crowds of people rushed into the city to supply their wants. Don
Gonzalo, to remedy this inconvenience, forbade, by another decree of the
15th of December, the carrying out of the city bread to the value of
more than twenty pence; the penalty was a fine of "_twenty-five crowns,
and in case of inability, a public flogging, and greater punishments
still, at the discretion of his excellency_."

The populace wished to procure abundance by pillage and conflagration,
the legal power wished to maintain it by the galleys and the rope. Every
method was resorted to to accomplish their purpose, but the reader will
soon learn the total failure of them all. It is, besides, easy to see,
and not useless to observe, that these strange means had an intimate and
necessary connection with each other; each was the inevitable
consequence of the preceding, and all, in fact, flowed from the first
error, that of fixing upon bread a price so disproportioned to that
which ought to have resulted from the real state of things. Such an
expedient, however, has always appeared to the populace not only
conformable to equity, but very simple and easy of execution; it is then
very natural that in the agonies and misery which are the necessary
effects of scarcity, they should, if it be in their power, adopt it. But
as the consequences begin to be felt, the government is obliged to
repair the evil by new laws, forbidding men to do that which previous
laws had recently prescribed to them.

The principal fruits of the insurrection were these; the destruction or
loss of much provision in the insurrection itself, and the rapid
consumption of the small quantity of grain then on hand, which should
otherwise have lasted until the next harvest. To these general effects
may be added, the punishment of four of the populace, who were hung as
leaders of the sedition, two before the baker's shop of the crutches,
and two at the corner of the street in which was situated the house of
the superintendent of provision.

The historical relations of this epoch are handed down to us with so
little clearness, that it is difficult to ascertain when this arbitrary
tariff ceased. But we have numerous accounts of the situation of the
country, and especially the city, in the winter of that year and the
following spring. In every quarter shops were closed; and the
manufactories were, for the most part, deserted; the streets afforded a
terrible spectacle of sorrow and desolation; mendicants by profession,
now the smallest number, were confounded with the new multitude,
disputing for alms with those from whom they had formerly been
accustomed to receive them; clerks and servants, dismissed by the
merchants and shopkeepers, hardly existing upon some scanty savings;
merchants and shopkeepers themselves failing and ruined by the stoppage
of trade; artificers wandering from door to door, lying along the
pavement, by the houses and churches, soliciting charity, and hesitating
between want and shame, emaciated and feeble, reduced by long fasting,
and the rigours of the cold which penetrated their tattered clothing;
servants, dismissed by their masters, who were incapable of maintaining
their accustomed numerous and sumptuous establishments; and the numerous
dependents upon the labour of these various classes, old men, women, and
children, grouped around their former supporters, or wandered in search
of support elsewhere.

Among the wretched crowds also might be distinguished, by their _long
lock_, by the remnants of their magnificent apparel, by their carriage
and gestures, and by the traces which habit impresses on the
countenance, many _bravoes_, who, having lost in the common misery their
criminal means of support, were reduced to an equality of suffering, and
with difficulty dragged themselves along the city that they had so often
traversed with a proud and ferocious bearing, magnificently armed and
attired; they now extended with humility the hand which they had so
frequently raised to menace with insolence, or to strike with treachery.

But the most dense, livid, and hideous swarm was that of the villagers.
These were seen in entire families; husbands with their wives, dragging
along their little ones, and supporting in their arms their wretched
babies, whilst their own aged and helpless parents followed behind,--all
flocked into the city in hopes of obtaining bread. Some, whose houses
had been invaded and despoiled by the soldiery, had fled in despair;
some, to excite compassion, and render their misery more striking,
showed the wounds and bruises they had received in defending their
homes; and others, whom this scourge had not reached, had been driven,
by the two scourges from which no corner of the country was exempt,
sterility and the consequent increase on the price of provisions, to the
city, as to the abode of abundance and pious munificence. The new comers
might be recognised by their air of angry astonishment and
disappointment at finding such an excess of misery where they had hoped
to be themselves the peculiar objects of compassion and benevolence.
Here, too, might be recognised, in all their varieties of ragged
habiliments, in the midst of the general wretchedness, the pale dweller
of the marsh, the bronzed countenance of the plain or hill countryman,
and the sanguine complexion of the mountaineer, all, however, alike in
the hollow eye, ferocious or insane countenance, knotted hair, long and
matted beard, attenuated body, shrivelled skin and bony breast,--all
alike reduced to the lowest condition of languor, of infantine debility.

Heaps of straw and stubble were seen along the walls, and by the
gutters, which appeared to be a particular provision of charity for
these unfortunate creatures; there their limbs reposed during the night;
and in the day they were occupied by those who, exhausted by fatigue and
suffering, could no longer bear the weight of their emaciated bodies;
sometimes, upon the damp straw a dead body lay extended; sometimes, the
miserable spark of life was rekindled in its feeble tenement by timely
succour from a hand rich in the means and in the disposition to do
good, the hand of the pious Frederick.

He had made choice of six priests of ardent charity and robust
constitution; and, dividing them into three companies, assigned to each
the third of the city as their charge; they were accompanied by porters,
laden with food, cordials, and clothing. Each morning these worthy
messengers of benevolence passed through the streets, approached those
whom they beheld stretched on the pavement, and gave to each their
kindly assistance. Those who were too ill to be benefited by temporal
succour received from them the last offices of religion.

Their assistance was not limited to present relief: the good bishop
requested them, wherever it was possible, to furnish more efficacious
and permanent comfort, by giving to those who should be in some measure
restored to strength money for their future necessities, lest returning
want should again plunge them into wretchedness and misery; and to
obtain shelter for others who lay exposed in the street in the
neighbouring houses, by requesting their inhabitants to receive the poor
afflicted ones as boarders, whose expenses would be paid by the cardinal
himself.

Frederick had not waited for the evil to attain its height, in order to
exercise his benevolence, and to devote all the powers of his mind
towards its amelioration. By uniting all his means, by practising strict
economy, by drawing upon the sums destined to other liberalities, and
which had now become of secondary importance, he endeavoured to amass
money, in order to employ it entirely for those who were suffering from
hunger and its consequences. He bought a quantity of grain, and sent it
to the most destitute parts of his diocese; but as the succour was far
from adequate to the necessity, he sent with it a great quantity of
salt, "with which," says Ripamonti[34], relating the fact, "the herbs of
the field and the leaves of trees were made food for men." He
distributed grain and money to the curates of the city; and he himself
travelled over it, administering alms, and secretly aiding many indigent
families. In the episcopal palace, rice was boiled every day, and dealt
out to the necessities of the people, to the extent of 2000 measures.
Besides these splendid efforts of a single individual, many other
excellent persons, though with less powerful means, strove to mitigate
the horrible sufferings of the people: of these sufferers, thousands
struggled to grasp the broth or other food provided at different
quarters, and thus prolong for a day, at least, their miserable lives;
but thousands were still left behind in the struggle, and these
generally the weakest,--the aged women and children; and these might be
seen, dead and dying from inanition, in every part. But in the midst of
these calamities not the least disposition to insurrection appeared.

      [34] Historia Patriæ, decad. v. lib. vi. p. 386.

The void that mortality created each day in the miserable multitude was
each day more than replenished; there was a perpetual concourse, at
first from the neighbouring villages, then from the more distant
territories, and, finally, from the Milanese cities.

The ordinary spectacle of ordinary times, the contrast of magnificent
apparel with rags, and of luxury with poverty, had entirely disappeared.
The nobility even wore coarse clothing; some, because the general misery
had affected their fortune; others, because they would not insult the
wretchedness of the people, or because they feared to provoke the
general despair by the display of luxury at such a time.

Thus passed the winter and the spring; already had the Tribunal of
Health remonstrated with the Tribunal of Provision on the danger to
which such mass of misery exposed the city. To prevent contagious
diseases, a proposal was made to confine the vagabond beggars in the
various hospitals. Whilst this project was under discussion, some
approving and others condemning, dead bodies incumbered the streets. The
Tribunal of Provision, however, proposed another expedient as more easy
and expeditious, which was, to shut up all the mendicants, healthy or
diseased, in the lazaretto, and to maintain them there at the expense of
the city. This measure was resolved upon, notwithstanding the
remonstrances of the Tribunal of Health, who objected that, in so
numerous an assemblage, the evil to which they wished to apply a remedy
would be greatly augmented.

The little order that reigned in the lazaretto, the bad quality of the
food, and the standing water which was drank plentifully, soon created
numerous maladies. To these causes of mortality, so much the more active
from operating on bodies already exhausted or enfeebled, was added the
unfavourableness of the season; obstinate rains, followed by more
obstinate drought, and violent heat. To these physical evils were added
others of a moral nature, despair and wearisomeness in captivity, desire
for accustomed habits, regret for cherished beings of whom these
unfortunate beings had been deprived; painful apprehension for those who
were living, and the continual dread of death, which had itself become a
new and powerful cause of the extension of disease. It is not to be
wondered at that mortality increased in this species of prison to such a
degree as to assume the appearance and deserve the name of _pestilence_.
The number of deaths in the lazaretto soon amounted to a hundred daily.

Whilst within these wretched walls, grief, fear, anguish, and rage
prevailed, in the Tribunal of Provision, shame, astonishment, and
irresolution were equally apparent. They consulted, and now listened to
the advice of the Tribunal of Health: finding they could do no better
than to undo what they had done, at so much expense and trouble, they
opened the doors of the lazaretto, and released all who were well enough
to leave it. The city was thus again filled with its former cries, but
feebler, and more interrupted; the sick were transported to Santa Maria
della Stella, which was then the hospital for the poor, and the greater
part perished there.

However, the fields began to yield the harvest so long desired, and the
troops of peasants left the city for their long prayed for and
accustomed labours. The ingenious and inexhaustible charity of the good
Frederick still exerted itself; he made a present of a giulio[35] and a
sickle to each peasant, who solicited it at the palace.

      [35] A coin worth about 6_d._

With a plentiful harvest, scarcity ceased to be felt; the mortality,
however, continued, in a greater or less degree, until the middle of
autumn. It was on the point of ceasing, when a new scourge overwhelmed
the city and country.

Many events of high historical importance had occurred in this interval
of time. The Cardinal Richelieu, after having taken Rochelle, and made a
treaty of peace with England, had proposed, effected by his powerful
influence in the councils of the French king, that efficacious aid
should be sent to the Duke of Nevers; he had also persuaded the king to
lead the expedition in person. Whilst the preparations were in progress,
the Count of Nassau, imperial commissary, suggested to the new duke in
Mantua the expediency of replacing his states in the hands of Ferdinand;
intimating that, in case of refusal, an army would be immediately sent
by the emperor to occupy them. The duke, who in the most desperate
circumstances had rejected so hard a condition, encouraged now by the
promised succours from France, was determined still longer to defend
himself. The commissary departed, declaring that force would soon decide
the matter.

In the month of March, the Cardinal Richelieu with the king, at the head
of an army, demanded a free passage from the Duke of Savoy; he entered
into treaties for the purpose, but nothing was concluded. After a
rencounter, in which the French obtained the advantage, a new treaty was
entered into, in which the duke stipulated that Don Gonzalo de Cordova
should raise the siege of Casale, engaging, in case of his refusal, to
unite with the French, and invade the duchy of Milan. Don Gonzalo raised
the siege of Casale, and a body of French troops entered it, to
reinforce the garrison. The Cardinal Richelieu decided to return to
France, on business which he regarded as more urgent; but Girolamo
Soranzo, envoy from Venice, offered the most powerful reasons to divert
him from this resolution. To these the king and the cardinal paid no
attention; they returned with the greatest part of the army, leaving
only 6000 men at Suza to occupy the passes and maintain the treaty.

Whilst this army departed on one side, that of Ferdinand, commanded by
the Count of Collato, advanced on the other. It had invaded the country
of the Grisons, and the Valtelline, and was preparing to come down on
the Milanese. Besides the usual terrors which such an expectation was
calculated to excite, the report was spread, that the plague lurked in
the imperial army. Alessandro Tadino, one of the conservators of the
public health, was charged by the tribunal to state to the governor the
frightful danger which threatened the country, if this army should
obtain the pass which opened on Mantua. It appears from all the actions
of Gonzalo, that he was possessed by a desire to occupy a great place in
history; but, as often happens, history has failed to register one of
his most remarkable acts, the answer he returned to this Doctor Tadino;
which was, "that he knew not what could be done; that reasons of
interest and honour, which had induced the march of the army, were of
greater weight than the danger represented; that he would, however,
endeavour to act for the best, and that they must trust to Providence."

In order, then, to act for the best, their two physicians proposed to
the tribunal to forbid, under the most severe penalty, the purchase of
any articles of clothing from the soldiers who were about to pass. As to
Don Gonzalo, his reply to Doctor Tadino was one of his last acts at
Milan, as the ill success of the war, which had been instigated and
directed by him, caused him to be displaced in the course of the summer.
He was succeeded by Marquis Ambrosio Spinola, who had already acquired
the military celebrity in the wars of Flanders which still endures.

Meanwhile the German troops had received definite orders to march upon
Mantua, and in the month of September they entered the duchy of Milan.

At this epoch armies were composed, for the greater part, of
adventurers, enlisted by _condottieri_, who held their commission from
some prince, and who sometimes pursued the occupation on their own
account, so as to be able to sell themselves and followers together. Men
were drawn to this vocation much less by the pay which was assigned to
them, than by the hope of pillage, and the charms of licence. There was
no fixed or general discipline; and as their pay was very uncertain, the
spoils of the countries which they over-ran were tacitly accorded to
them by their commanders.

It was a saying of the celebrated Wallenstein's, that it was easier to
maintain an army of 100,000 men than one of 12,000. And this army of
which we are now speaking was part of that which in the thirty years'
war had desolated all Germany; it was commanded by one of Wallenstein's
lieutenants, and consisted of 28,000 infantry, and 7000 horse. In
descending from the Valtelline towards Milan, they had to coast along
the Adda, to the place where it empties into the Po; eight days' march
in the duchy of Milan.

A great proportion of the inhabitants retired to the mountains, carrying
with them their most precious possessions; some remained to watch the
sick, or to preserve their dwellings from the flames, or to watch the
valuable property which they had buried or concealed; and others
remained because they had nothing to lose. When the first detachment
arrived at the place where they were to halt, the soldiers scattered
themselves through the country; and subjected it at once to pillage; all
that could be eaten or carried off disappeared; fields were destroyed,
and cottages burnt to the ground; every hiding-place, every method to
which people had resorted, in their despair, for the defence of their
property, became useless, nay, often resulted in the peculiar injury of
the proprietor. Strict search was made throughout every house by the
soldiers; they easily detected in the gardens the earth which had been
newly dug; they penetrated the caverns in search of the opulent
inhabitants, who had taken refuge there, and dragging them to their
houses, forced them to declare where they had concealed their treasures.

At last they departed; their drums and trumpets were heard receding in
the distance, and a temporary calm succeeded to these hours of tumult
and affright; but, alas! the sound of drums was again heard, announcing
the arrival of another detachment, the soldiers of which, furious at not
finding booty, destroyed what the first work of desolation had spared;
burned the furniture and the houses, and manifested the most cruel and
savage disposition towards the inhabitants. This continued for a period
of twenty days, the army containing that number of divisions.

Colico was the first territory of the duchy that these demons invaded;
they then threw themselves on Bellano, from which they entered and
spread themselves in the Valsassina, whence they marched into the
territory of Lecco.



CHAPTER XXIX.


Here, among those who were expecting the arrival of the army in alarm
and consternation, we find persons of our acquaintance. He who did not
behold Don Abbondio on the day when the report was spread of the descent
of the army, of its near approach, and its excesses, can have no idea of
the power of fright upon a feeble mind. All sorts of reports were
afloat. They are coming--thirty, forty, fifty thousand men. They have
sacked Cortenova; burnt Primaluna; plundered Introbbio, Pasturo, Barsio.
They have been seen at Balobbio; to-morrow they will be here. Such were
the statements in circulation. The villagers assembled in tumultuous
crowds, hesitating whether to fly or remain, while the women lamented
aloud over their miserable fate.

Don Abbondio, to whom flight had immediately suggested itself, saw in
it, nevertheless, invincible obstacles, and frightful dangers. "What
shall I do?" cried he; "where shall I go?" The mountains, without
speaking of the difficulty of ascending them, were not safe; the foot
soldiers climbed them like cats, if they had the slightest indication or
hope of booty; the waters of the lake were swollen; it was blowing
violently; in addition to which, the greater part of the watermen,
fearing to be forced to pass soldiers or baggage, had taken refuge with
their boats on the opposite shore; the few barks that remained were
already filled with people, and endangered by the weather. It was
impossible to find a carriage or horse, or any mode of conveyance. Don
Abbondio did not dare venture on foot, incurring, as he would, the
probability of being stopped on the road. The confines of the
Bergamascan territory were not so distant, but that he could have walked
there in a little while; but a report had reached the village, that a
squadron of _cappelletri_ had been sent in haste from Bergamo, to guard
the frontiers against the German foot-soldiers. These were not less
devils incarnate than those they were commissioned to oppose. The poor
man was beside himself with terror; he endeavoured to concert with
Perpetua some plan of escape, but Perpetua was quite occupied in
collecting and concealing his valuables; with her hands full, she
replied, "Let me place this in safety; we will then do as other people
do." Don Abbondio desired eagerly to discuss with her the best means to
be pursued, but Perpetua, between hurry and fright, was less tractable
than usual: "Others will do the best they can," said she, "and so will
we. Excuse me, but you only hinder one. Do you not think they have skins
to save as well as we?"

Relieving herself thus from his importunities, she went on with her
occupation; the poor man, as a last resource, went to a window, and
cried, in a piteous tone, to the people who were passing, "Do your poor
curate the favour to bring him a horse or a mule; is it possible no one
will come to help me? Wait for me at least; wait till I can go with you;
abandon me not. Would you leave me in the power of these dogs? Know you
not that they are Lutherans, and that the murder of a priest will seem
to them a meritorious deed? Would you leave me here to be martyred?"

But to whom did he address this appeal? to men who were themselves
incumbered with the weight of their humble movables, or, disturbed by
the thoughts of what they had been obliged to leave behind, exposed to
the ravages of the destroyer. One drove his cow before him; another
conducted his children, who were also laden with burdens, his wife
perhaps with an infant in her arms. Some went on their way without
replying or looking at him; others merely said, "Eh, sir, do as you can;
you are fortunate in having no family to think of; help yourself; do the
best you can."

"Oh, poor me!" cried Don Abbondio, "oh, what savages! they have no
feeling; they give not a thought to their poor curate!" And he went
again in search of Perpetua.

"Oh, you are come just in time," said she, "where is your money?"

"What shall we do with it?"

"Give it to me; I will bury it in the garden with the plate."

"But----"

"But, but, give it to me; keep a few pence for necessity, and let me
manage the rest."

Don Abbondio obeyed, and drawing his treasure from his strong box, gave
it to Perpetua. "I will bury it in the garden, at the foot of the
fig-tree," said she, as she disappeared. She returned in a few moments,
with a large basket, full of provisions, and a small one, which was
empty; into the latter she put a few articles of clothing for herself
and master.

"You must take your breviary with you," said she.

"But where are we going?"

"Where every one else goes. We will go into the street, and then we
shall hear and see what we must do."

At this moment Agnes entered with a small basket in her hand, and with
the air of one about to make an important proposal.

She had decided not to wait the approach of the dangerous guests, alone
as she was, and with the gold of the Unknown in her possession; but had
remained some time in doubt where to seek an asylum. The residue of the
crowns, which in time of famine would have been so great a treasure, was
now the principal cause of her anxiety and irresolution; as, under the
present circumstances, those who had money were worse off than others;
being exposed at the same time to the violence of strangers, and the
treachery of their companions. It is true, none knew of the wealth which
had thus, as it were, fallen to her from heaven, except Don Abbondio, to
whom she had often applied to change a crown, leaving him always some
part of it for those more unfortunate than herself. But hidden
property, above all, to those not accustomed to such a possession, keeps
the possessor in continual suspicion of others. Now, whilst she
reflected on the peculiar dangers to which she was exposed, by the very
generosity itself of the Unknown, the offer of unlimited service, which
had accompanied the gift, suddenly occurred to her recollection. She
remembered the descriptions she had heard of his castle, as situated in
a high place, where, without the concurrence of the master, none dared
venture but the birds of heaven. Resolving to go thither, and reflecting
on the means of making herself known to this signor, her thoughts
recurred to Don Abbondio, who, since the conversation with the
archbishop, had been very particular in his expression of good feeling
towards her, as he could at present be, without compromising himself,
there being but little probability, from the situation of affairs, that
his benevolence would be put to the test. She naturally supposed, that
in a time of such consternation, the poor man would be more alarmed than
herself, and might acquiesce in her plan; this was, therefore, the
purpose of her visit. Finding him alone with Perpetua, she made known
her intentions.

"What do you say to it, Perpetua?" asked Don Abbondio.

"I say that it is an inspiration from Heaven, and that we must lose no
time, and set off immediately."

"But then----"

"But then, but then; when we have arrived safely there, we shall be very
glad, that's all. It is well known that this signor thinks of nothing
now but doing good to others, and he will afford us an asylum with the
greatest pleasure. There, on the frontiers, and almost in the sky, the
soldiers will not trouble us. But then--but then, we shall have enough
to eat, no doubt. On the top of the mountains, the provisions we have
here with us would not serve us long."

"Is it true that he is really converted?"

"Can you doubt it, after all you have seen?"

"And if, after all, we should be voluntarily placing ourselves in
prison?"

"What prison? With this trifling, excuse me, we shall never come to any
conclusion. Worthy Agnes! your plan is an excellent one." So saying, she
placed the basket on the table, and having passed her arms through the
straps, swung it over her shoulders.

"Could we not procure," said Don Abbondio, "some man to accompany us?
Should we encounter some ruffian on the way, what assistance would you
be to me?"

"Not done yet! always losing time!" cried Perpetua. "Go then, and look
for a man, and you will find every one engaged in his own business, I
warrant you. Come, take your breviary, and your hat, and let us be off."

Don Abbondio was obliged to obey, and they departed. They passed through
a small door into the churchyard. Perpetua closed it from custom; not
for the security it could now give. Don Abbondio cast a look towards the
church,--"It is for the people to guard it," thought he; "it is their
church: let them see to it, if they have the heart." They took the
by-paths through the fields, but were in continual apprehension of
encountering some one, who might arrest their progress. They met no one,
however; all were employed, either in guarding their houses, or packing
their furniture, or travelling, with their moveables, towards the
mountains.

Don Abbondio, after many sighs and interjections, began to grumble
aloud: he complained of the Duke of Nevers, who could have remained to
enjoy himself in France, had he not been determined to be Duke of
Mantua, in despite of all the world; of the emperor, and above all, of
the governor, whose duty it was to keep this scourge from the country,
and not invoke it by his taste for war.

"Let these people be, they cannot help us now," said Perpetua. "These
are your usual chatterings, excuse me, which mean nothing. That which
gives me the most uneasiness----"

"What is it?"

Perpetua, who had been leisurely recalling to mind the things which she
had so hastily concealed, remembered that she had forgotten such an
article, and had not safely deposited such another; that she had left
traces which might impart information to the depredators.

"Well done!" cried Don Abbondio, in whom the security he was beginning
to feel with regard to his life allowed his anxiety to appear for his
property; "well done! Is this what you have been doing? Where were your
brains?"

"How!" replied Perpetua, stopping for a moment, and attempting, as far
as her load would permit, to place her arms a-kimbo; "do you find fault,
when it was yourself who teased me out of my wits, instead of helping me
as you ought to have done? I have thought more of my master's goods than
my own; and if there is any thing lost, I can't help it, I have done
more than my duty."

Agnes interrupted these disputes by introducing her own troubles: she
was obliged to relinquish the hope of seeing her dear Lucy, for some
time at least; for she could not expect that Donna Prassede would come
into this vicinity under such circumstances. The sight of the
well-remembered places through which they were passing increased the
anguish of her feelings. Leaving the fields, they had taken the high
road, the same which the poor woman had travelled, in re-conducting, for
so short a time, her daughter to her home, after having been with her at
the tailor's. As they approached the village, "Let us go and visit these
worthy people," said Agnes.

"And rest a little, and eat a mouthful," said Perpetua, "for I begin to
have enough of this basket."

"On condition that we lose no time, for this is not by any means a
journey for amusement," said Don Abbondio.

They were received with open arms, and cordially welcomed; Agnes,
embracing the good hostess, wept bitterly; replying with sobs to the
questions her husband and she asked concerning Lucy.

"She is better off than we are," said Don Abbondio; "she is at Milan,
sheltered from danger, far from these horrible scenes."

"The signor curate and his companions are fugitives, are they not?" said
the tailor.

"Yes," replied, at the same time, Perpetua and her master.

"I sympathise with your misfortunes."

"We are going to the castle of----"

"That is well thought of; you will be as safe as in Paradise."

"And are you not afraid here?"

"We are too much off the road. If they should turn out of their way, we
shall be warned in time."

The three travellers decided to take a few hours' rest: as it was the
hour of dinner, "Do me the honour," said the tailor, "to partake of my
humble fare."

Perpetua said she had provisions enough in her basket wherewith to break
her fast; after a little ceremony, however, on both sides, they agreed
to seat themselves at the dinner table.

The children had joyfully surrounded their old friend Agnes; the tailor
ordered one of them to roast some early chestnuts; "and you," said he to
another, "go to the garden, and bring some peaches; all that are ripe.
And you," to a third, "climb the fig-tree, and gather the best figs; it
is a business to which you are well accustomed." As for himself, he left
the room to tap a small cask of wine, while his wife went in search of a
table-cloth. All being prepared, they seated themselves at the friendly
board, if not with unmingled joy, at least with much more satisfaction
than they could have anticipated from the events of the morning.

"What does the signor curate say to the disasters of the times? I can
fancy I'm reading the history of the Moors in France," said the tailor.

"What do I say? That even that misfortune might have befallen me,"
replied Don Abbondio.

"You have chosen an excellent asylum, however; for none can ascend those
heights without the consent of the master. You will find a numerous
company there. Many people have already fled thither, and there are
fresh arrivals every day."

"I dare to hope we shall be well received. I know this worthy signor:
when I had the honour to be in his company he was all politeness."

"And," said Agnes, "he sent me word by his illustrious lordship, that if
ever I should need assistance, I had only to apply to him."

"What a wonderful conversion!" resumed Don Abbondio. "And he perseveres?
does he _not_ persevere?"

The tailor spoke at length of the holy life of the Unknown, and said,
that after having been the scourge of the country, he had become its
best example and benefactor.

"And the people of his household--that band?" asked Don Abbondio, who
had heard some contradictory stories concerning them, and did not feel,
therefore, quite secure.

"The greater part have left him," replied the tailor, "and those who
have remained have changed their manner of life; in short, this castle
has become like the Thebaid. The signor curate understands me."

Then retracing with Agnes the visit of the cardinal, "What a great man!"
said he, "a great man, indeed! what a pity he remained so short a time
with us! I wished to do him honour. Oh, if I had only been able to
address him again, more at my leisure!"

When they rose from table, he showed them an engraving of the cardinal,
which he had hung on the door, from veneration to his virtues, and also
to enable him to assure every body that it was no likeness; he knew it
was not, as he had regarded him closely at his leisure in this very
room.

"Did they mean that for him?" said Agnes. "The habit is the same,
but----"

"It is no likeness, is it?" said the tailor; "that is what I always say,
but other things being wanting, there is at least his name under it,
which tells who it is."

Don Abbondio being impatient to be gone, the tailor went in search of a
vehicle to carry the little company to the foot of the ascent, and
returned in a few moments to inform them it was ready. "Signor curate,"
said he, "if you wish a few books to carry with you, I can lend you
some; for I amuse myself sometimes with reading. They are not like
yours, to be sure, being in the vulgar tongue, but----"

"A thousand thanks, but under present circumstances I have scarcely
brains enough to read my breviary."

After an exchange of thanks, invitations, and promises, they bade
farewell, and pursued, with a little more tranquillity of mind, the
remainder of their journey.

The tailor had told Don Abbondio the truth, with regard to the new life
of the Unknown. From the day that we took our leave of him, he had
continued to put in practice his good intentions, by repairing injuries,
reconciling himself with his enemies, and succouring the distressed and
unfortunate. The courage he had formerly evinced in attack and defence
he now employed in avoiding all occasion both for the one and the other.
He went unarmed and alone; disposed to suffer the possible consequences
of the violences he had committed; persuaded that it would be adding to
his crimes to employ any methods of defence for himself, as he was a
debtor to all the world; and persuaded also, that though the evil done
to him would be sin against God, it would be but a just retribution
against himself; and that he had left himself no right to revenge an
injury, however unprovoked it might be at the time. But he was not less
inviolable than when he bore arms to insure his safety; the recollection
of his former ferocity, and the contrast of his present gentleness, the
former exciting a desire of revenge, and the latter rendering this
revenge so easy, conspired to subdue hatred, and, in its place, to
substitute an admiration which served him as a safeguard. The man whom
no one could humble, but who had humbled himself, was regarded with the
deepest veneration. Those whom he had wronged had obtained, beyond their
hopes, and without incurring any danger, a satisfaction which they could
never have promised themselves from the most complete revenge, the
satisfaction of seeing him repent of his wrongs, and participate, so to
speak, in their indignation. In his voluntary abasement, his countenance
and manner had acquired, without his own knowledge, something elevated
and noble; his outward demeanour was as dauntless as ever.

This change, also, in addition to other reasons, secured him from public
retribution at the instigation of those in authority. His rank and
family, which had always been a species of defence to him, still
prevailed in his favour; and to his name, already famous, was joined the
personal esteem which was now due to him. The magistrates and nobility
had rejoiced at his conversion, as well as the people; as this
conversion produced compensations that they were neither accustomed to
ask nor obtain. Probably, also, the name of the Cardinal Frederick,
whose interest in his conversion, and subsequent friendship for him,
were well known, served him as an impenetrable shield.

Upon the arrival of the German troops, when fugitives from the invaded
countries fled to the castle, delighted that his walls, so long the
object of dread and execration to the feeble, should now be regarded as
a place of security and protection, the Unknown received them rather
with gratitude than politeness. He caused it to be made public, that his
doors would be open to all, and employed himself immediately in placing
not only the castle but the valley beneath in a state of defence:
assembling the servants who had remained with him, he addressed them on
the opportunity God had afforded them, as well as himself, to serve
those whom they had so frequently oppressed and terrified. With his old
accent of command, expressing the certainty of being obeyed, he gave
them general orders, as to their deportment, so that those who should
take refuge with him might behold in them only defenders and friends. He
gave their arms to them again, of which they had been deprived; as also
to the peasants of the valley, who were willing to engage in its
defence: he named officers, and appointed to them their duty and their
different stations, as he had been accustomed to do in his former
criminal life. He himself, however, whether from principle, or that he
had made a vow to that effect, remained unarmed at the head of his
garrison.

He also employed the females of the household in preparing beds, straw,
mattresses, sacks, in various rooms intended as temporary dormitories.
He ordered abundant provisions to be brought to the castle for the use
of the guests God should send him; and in the mean while he was himself
never idle, visiting every post, examining every defence, and
maintaining the most perfect order by his authority and his presence.



CHAPTER XXX.


As our fugitives approached the valley, they were joined by many
companions in misfortune, who were on the same errand to the castle with
themselves: under similar circumstances of distress and anguish,
intimacies are soon matured, and they listened to the relation of each
other's peril with mutual interest and sympathy; some had fled, like the
curate and our females, without waiting the arrival of the troops;
others had actually seen them, and could describe, in lively colours,
their savage and horrible appearance.

"We are fortunate, indeed," said Agnes; "let us thank Heaven. We may
lose our property, but at least our lives are safe."

But Don Abbondio could not see so much reason for congratulation; the
great concourse of people suggested new causes of alarm. "Oh," murmured
he to the females when no one was near enough to hear him; "oh, do you
not perceive that by assembling here in such crowds we shall attract the
notice of the soldiery? As every one flies and no one remains at home,
they will believe that our treasures are up here, and this belief will
lead them hither. Oh, poor me! why was I so thoughtless as to venture
here!"

"What should they come here for?" said Perpetua, "they are obliged to
pursue their route; and, at all events, where there is danger, it is
best to have plenty of company."

"Company, company, silly woman! don't you know that every lansquenet
could devour a hundred of them? and then, if any of them should commit
some foolish violence, it would be a fine thing to find ourselves in the
midst of a battle! It would have been better to have gone to the
mountains. I don't see why they have all been seized with a mania to go
to one place. Curse the people! all here; one after the other, like a
frightened flock of sheep!"

"As to that," said Agnes, "they may say the same of us."

"Hush, hush! it is of no use to talk," said Don Abbondio; "that which is
done, _is_ done: we are here, and here we must remain. May Heaven
protect us!"

But his anxiety was much increased by the appearance of a number of
armed men at the entrance of the valley. It is impossible to describe
his vexation and alarm. "Oh, poor me!" thought he; "I might have
expected this from a man of his character. What does he mean to do? Will
he declare war? Will he act the part of a sovereign? Oh, poor me! poor
me! In this terrible conjuncture he ought to have concealed himself as
much as possible; and, behold, he seeks every method to make himself
known. It is easy to be seen he wants to provoke them."

"Do you not see, sir," said Perpetua, "that these are brave men who are
able to defend us? Let the soldiers come; these men are not at all like
our poor devils of peasants, who are good for nothing but to use their
legs."

"Be quiet," replied Don Abbondio, in a low but angry tone, "be quiet;
you know not what you say. Pray Heaven that the army may be in haste to
proceed on its march, so that they may not gain information of this
place being disposed like a garrison. They would ask for nothing better;
an assault is mere play to them, and putting every one to the sword like
going to a wedding. Oh, poor me! perhaps I can secure a place of safety
on one of these precipices. I will never be taken in battle! I will
never be taken in battle! I never will!"

"If you are even afraid of being defended----" returned Perpetua; but
Don Abbondio sharply interrupted her.

"Be quiet, and take care not to relate this conversation. Remember you
must always keep a pleasant countenance here, and appear to approve all
that you see."

At Malanotte they found another company of armed men. Don Abbondio took
off his hat and bowed profoundly, saying to himself, "Alas, alas! I am
really in a camp." They here quitted the carriage to ascend the pass on
foot, the curate having in haste paid and dismissed the driver. The
recollection of his former terrors in this very place increased his
present forebodings of evil, by mingling themselves with his
reflections, and enfeebling more and more his understanding. Agnes, who
had never before trod this path, but who had often pictured it to her
imagination, was filled with different but keenly painful remembrances.
"Oh, signor curate," cried she, "when I think how my poor Lucy passed
this very road."

"Will you be quiet, foolish woman?" cried Don Abbondio in her ear. "Are
these things to speak of in this place? Are you ignorant that we are on
his lands? It is fortunate no one heard you. If you speak in this
manner----"

"Oh," said Agnes, "now that he is a saint----"

"Be quiet," repeated Don Abbondio: "think you we can tell the saints all
that passes through our brains? Think rather of thanking him for the
kindness he has done you."

"Oh, as to that I have already thought of it; do you think I have no
manners, no politeness?"

"Politeness, my good woman, does not consist in telling people things
they don't like to hear. Have a little discretion, I pray you. Weigh
well your words, speak but little, and that only when it is
indispensable. There is no danger in silence."

"You do much worse with all your----" began Perpetua. But "Hush," said
Don Abbondio, and, taking off his hat, he bowed profoundly. The Unknown
was coming to meet them, having recognised the curate approaching. "I
could have wished," said he, "to offer you my house on a more agreeable
occasion; but, under any circumstances, I esteem myself happy in serving
you."

"Confiding in the great kindness of your illustrious lordship, I have
taken the liberty to trouble you at this unhappy time; and, as your
illustrious lordship sees, I have also taken the liberty to bring
company with me. This is my housekeeper----"

"She is very welcome."

"And this is a female to whom your lordship has already rendered great
benefits. The mother of--of----"

"Of Lucy," said Agnes.

"Of Lucy!" cried the Unknown, turning to Agnes; "rendered benefits! I!
Just God! It is you who render benefits to me by coming hither; to
me--to this dwelling. You are very welcome. You bring with you the
blessing of Heaven!"

"Oh, I come rather to give you trouble." Approaching him nearer, she
said, in a low voice, "I have to thank you----"

The Unknown interrupted her, asking with much interest concerning Lucy.
He then conducted his new guests to the castle. Agnes looked at the
curate, as if to say, "See if there is any need of your interfering
between us with your advice."

"Has the army arrived in your parish?" said the Unknown to Don Abbondio.

"No, my lord, I would not wait for the demons. Heaven knows if I should
have escaped alive from their hands, and been able to trouble your
illustrious lordship!"

"You may be quite at ease; you are now in safety; they will not come
here. If the whim should seize them, we are ready to receive them."

"Let us hope they will not come," said Don Abbondio. "And on that side,"
added he, pointing to the opposite mountains, "on that side, also,
wanders another body of troops; but--but----"

"It is true. But, doubt not, we are ready for them also."

"Between two fires!" thought Don Abbondio, "precisely between two fires!
Where have I suffered myself to be led? And by two women! And this lord
appears to delight in such business! Oh, what people there are in the
world!"

When they entered the castle, the Unknown ordered Agnes and Perpetua to
be conducted to a room, in the quarter assigned to the women, which was
three of the four wings of the second court, in the most retired part of
the edifice. The men were accommodated in the wings of the other court
to the right and left; the body of the building was filled, partly with
provisions, and partly with the effects that the refugees brought with
them. In the quarter devoted to the men was a small apartment destined
to the ecclesiastics who might arrive. The Unknown accompanied Don
Abbondio thither, who was the first to take possession of it.

Our fugitives remained three or four and twenty days in the castle, in
the midst of continual bustle and alarm. Not a day passed without some
reports; at each account, the Unknown, unarmed as he was, led his band
beyond the precincts of the valley to ascertain the extent of the peril;
it was a singular thing, indeed, to behold him, without any personal
defence, conducting a body of armed men.

Not to encroach too far on the benevolence of the Unknown, Agnes and
Perpetua employed themselves in performing services in the household.
These occupations, with occasional conversations with the acquaintances
they had formed at the castle, enabled them to pass away the time with
less weariness. Poor Don Abbondio, who had nothing to do, was
notwithstanding prevented from becoming listless and inactive by his
fears: as to the dread of an attack, it was in some measure dissipated,
but still the idea of the surrounding country, occupied on every side by
soldiers, and of the numerous consequences which might at any moment
result from such a state, kept him in perpetual alarm.

All the time he remained in this asylum he never thought of going beyond
the defences; his only walk was on the esplanade; he surveyed every
side of the castle, observing attentively the hollows and precipices, to
ascertain if there were any practicable passage by which he might seek
escape in case of imminent danger. Every day there were various reports
of the march of the soldiers; some newsmongers by profession gathered
greedily all these reports, and spread them among their companions. On
such a day, such a regiment arrived in such a territory; the next day
they would ravage such another, where, in the mean time, another
detachment had been plundering before them. An account was kept of the
regiments that passed the bridge of Lecco, as they were then considered
fairly out of the country. The cavalry of Wallenstein passed, then the
infantry of Marrados, then the cavalry of Anzalt, then the infantry of
Brandenburgh, and, finally, that of Galasso. The flying squadron of
Venetians also removed, and the country was again free from invaders.
Already the inhabitants of the different villages had begun to quit the
castle; some departed every day, as after an autumn storm the birds of
heaven leave the leafy branches of a great tree, under whose shelter
they had sought and obtained protection. Our three friends were the last
to depart, as Don Abbondio feared, if he returned so soon to his house,
to find there some loitering soldiers. Perpetua in vain repeated, that
the longer they delayed, the greater opportunity they afforded to the
thieves of the country to take possession of all that might have been
left by the spoilers.

On the day fixed for their departure, the Unknown had a carriage ready
at Malanotte, and, taking Agnes aside, he made her accept a bag of
crowns, to repair the damage she would find at home; although she
protested she was in no need of them, having still some of those he had
formerly sent her.

"When you see your good Lucy," said he, "(I am certain that she prays
for me, as I have done her much evil,) tell her that I thank her, and
that I trust in God that her prayer will return in blessings on
herself."

They finally departed; they stopped for a few moments at the house of
the tailor, where they heard sad relations of this terrible march,--the
usual story of violence and plunder. The tailor's family, however, had
remained unmolested, as the army did not pass that way.

"Ah, signor curate!" said the tailor, as he was bidding him farewell,
"here is a fine subject to appear in print!"

After having proceeded a short distance, our travellers beheld
melancholy traces of the destruction they had heard related. Vineyards
despoiled, not by the vintager, but as if by a tempest; vines trampled
under foot; trees wounded and lopped of their branches; hedges
destroyed; in the villages, doors broken open, window-frames dashed in,
and streets filled with different articles of furniture and clothing,
broken and torn to pieces. In the midst of lamentations and tears, the
peasants were occupied in repairing, as well as they could, the damage
done; while others, overcome by their miseries, remained in a state of
silent despair. Having passed through these scenes of complicated woe,
they at last succeeded in reaching their own dwellings, where they
witnessed the same destruction. Agnes immediately occupied herself in
reducing to order the little furniture that was left her, and in
repairing the damage done to her doors and windows; but she did not
forget to count over in secret her crowns, thanking God in her heart,
and her generous benefactor, that in the general overthrow of order and
safety she at least had fallen on her feet.

Don Abbondio and Perpetua entered their house without being obliged to
have recourse to keys. In addition to the miserable destruction of all
their furniture, whose various fragments impeded their entrance, the
most horrible odours for a time drove them back; and when these
obstacles were at last surmounted, and the rooms were entered, they
found indignity added to mischief. Frightful and grotesque figures of
priests, with their square caps and bands, were drawn with pieces of
coal upon the walls in all sorts of ridiculous attitudes.

"Ah, the hogs!" cried Perpetua.--"Ah, the thieves!" exclaimed Don
Abbondio. Hastening into the garden, they approached the fig-tree, and
beheld the earth newly turned up, and, to their utter dismay, the tomb
was opened, and the dead was gone. Don Abbondio scolded Perpetua for her
bad management, who was not slack in repelling his complaints. Both
pointing backwards to the unlucky hiding place, at length returned to
the house, and set about endeavouring to purify it of some of its
accumulated filth, as at such a time it was impossible to procure
assistance for the purpose. With money lent them by Agnes, they were in
some measure enabled to replace their articles of furniture.

For some time this disaster was the source of continual disputes between
Perpetua and her master; the former having discovered that some of the
property, which they supposed to have been taken by the soldiers, was
actually in possession of certain people of the village, she tormented
him incessantly to claim it. There could not have been touched a chord
more hateful to Don Abbondio, since the property was in the hands of
that class of persons with whom he had it most at heart to live in
peace.

"But I don't wish to know these things," said he. "How many times must I
tell you that what has happened has? Must I get myself into trouble
again, because my house has been robbed?"

"You would suffer your eyes to be pulled from your head, I verily
believe," said Perpetua; "others hate to be robbed, but you, you seem to
like it."

"This is pretty language to hold, indeed! Will you be quiet?"

Perpetua kept silence, but continually found new pretexts for resuming
the conversation; so that the poor man was obliged to suppress every
complaint at the loss of such or such a thing, as she would say, "Go and
find it at such a person's house, who has it, and who would not have
kept it until now if he had not known what kind of a man he had to deal
with."

But here we will leave poor Don Abbondio, having more important things
to speak of than his fears, or the misery of a few villagers from a
transient disaster like this.



CHAPTER XXXI.


The pestilence, as the Tribunal of Health had feared, did enter the
Milanese with the German troops. It is also known that it was not
limited to that territory, but that it spread over and desolated a great
part of Italy. Our story requires us, at present, to relate the
principal circumstances of this great calamity, as far as it affected
the Milanese, and principally the city of Milan itself, for the
chroniclers of the period confine their relations chiefly to this place.
At the same time we cannot avoid giving a general though brief sketch of
an event in the history of our country more talked of than understood.

Many partial narratives written at the time are still extant; but these
convey but an imperfect view of the subject, historically speaking. It
is true they serve to illustrate and confirm one another, and furnish
materials for a history; but the history is still wanting. Strange to
say, no writer has hitherto attempted to reduce them to order, and
exhibit all the various events, public and private acts, causes and
conjectures, relative to this calamity, in a concatenated series.
Ripamonti's narrative, though far more ample than any other, is still
very defective. We shall, therefore, attempt, in the following pages, to
present the reader with a succinct, but accurate and continuous,
statement of this fatal scourge.

In all the line of country which had been over-run by the army, dead
bodies had been found in the houses, as well as on the roads. Soon
after, throughout the whole country, entire families were attacked with
violent disorders, accompanied with unusual symptoms, which the aged
only remembered to have seen at the time of the plague, which,
fifty-three years before, had desolated a great part of Italy, and
principally the Milanese, where it was and still is known by the name of
the Plague of San Carlo. It derives this appellation from the noble,
beneficent, and disinterested conduct of that great man, who at length
became its victim.

Ludovico Settala, a physician distinguished so long ago as during the
former plague, announced to the Tribunal of Health, by the 20th of
October, that the contagion had indisputably appeared at Lecco; but no
measures were taken upon this report. Further notices of a like import
induced them to despatch a commissioner, with a physician of Como, who,
most unaccountably, upon the report of an old barber of Bellano,
announced that the prevailing disease arose merely from the autumnal
exhalation from the marshes, aggravated by the sufferings caused by the
passage of the German troops.

Meanwhile, further intelligence of the new disease, and of the number of
deaths, arriving from all parts, two commissioners were sent to examine
the places where it had appeared, and, if necessary, to use precautions
to prevent its increase. The scourge had already spread to such an
extent, as to leave no doubt of its character. The commissioners passed
through the territories of Lecco, the borders of the lake of Como, the
districts of Monte-Brianza, and Gera-d'Adda, and found the villages
every where in a state of barricade, or deserted, and the inhabitants
flying, or encamped in the middle of the fields, or dispersed abroad
throughout the country; "like so many wild creatures," says Doctor
Tadino, one of the envoys, "they were carrying about them some imaginary
safeguard against the dreaded disease, such as sprigs of mint, rue, or
rosemary, and even vinegar." Informing themselves of the number of
deaths, the commissioners became alarmed, and visiting the sick and the
dead, recognised the terrible and infallible evidences of the _plague_!

Upon this information, orders were given to close the gates of Milan.

The Tribunal of Health, on the 14th of November, directed the
commissioners to wait on the governor, in order to represent to him the
situation of affairs. He replied, that he was very sorry for it; but
that the cares of war were much more pressing: this was the second time
he had made the same answer under similar circumstances. Two or three
days after, he published a decree, prescribing public rejoicings on the
birth of Prince Charles, the first son of Philip IV., without troubling
himself with the danger which would result from so great a concourse of
people at such a time; just as if things were going on in their ordinary
course, and no dreadful evil was hanging over them.

This man was the celebrated Ambrose Spinola, who died a few months
after, and during this very war which he had so much at heart,--not in
the field, but in his bed, and through grief and vexation at the
treatment he experienced from those whose interests he had served.
History has loudly extolled his merits; she has been silent upon his
base inhumanity in risking the dissemination of that worst of mortal
calamities, plague, over a country committed to his trust.

But that which diminishes our astonishment at his indifference is the
indifference of the people themselves, of that part of the population
which the contagion had not yet reached, but who had so many motives to
dread it. The scarcity of the preceding year, the exactions of the army,
and the anxiety of mind which had been endured, appeared to them more
than sufficient to explain the mortality of the surrounding country.
They heard with a smile of incredulity and contempt any who hazarded a
word on the danger, or who even mentioned the plague. The same
incredulity, the same blindness, the same obstinacy, prevailed in the
senate, the council of ten, and in all the judicial bodies. Cardinal
Frederick alone enjoined his curates to impress upon the people the
importance of declaring every case, and of sequestrating all infected or
suspected goods. The Tribunal of Health, prompted by the two physicians,
who fully apprehended the danger, did take some tardy measures; but in
vain. A proclamation to prevent the entrance of strangers into the city
was not published until the 29th of November. This was too late; the
plague was already in Milan.

It must be difficult, however interesting, to discover the first cause
of a calamity which swept off so many thousands of the inhabitants of
the city; but both Tadino and Ripamonti agree that it was brought
thither by an Italian soldier in the service of Spain, who had either
bought or stolen a quantity of clothes from the German soldiers. He was
on a visit to his parents in Milan, when he fell sick, and, being
carried to the hospital, died on the fourth day.

The Tribunal of Health condemned the house he had lived in; his clothes
and the bed he had occupied in the hospital were consigned to the
flames. Two servants and a good friar, who had attended him, fell sick a
few days after; but the suspicions from the first entertained of the
nature of the malady, and the precautions used, prevented its extension
for the present.

But in the house from which the soldier had been taken there were
several attacked by the disease; upon which all the inhabitants of it
were conducted to the lazaretto, by order of the Tribunal of Health.

The contagion made but little progress during the rest of this year and
the beginning of the following. From time to time there were a few
persons attacked, but the rarity of the occurrence diminished the
suspicion of the plague, and confirmed the multitude in their disbelief
of its existence. Added to this, most of the physicians joined with the
people in laughing at the unhappy presages and threatening opinions of
the smaller number of their brethren: the cases that did occur they
pretended to explain upon other grounds; and the account of these cases
was seldom presented to the Tribunal of Health. Fear of the lazaretto
kept all on the alert; the sick were concealed, and false certificates
were obtained from some subaltern officers of health, who were deputed
to inspect the dead bodies. Those physicians, who, convinced of the
reality of the contagion, proposed precautions against it, were the
objects of general animadversion. But the principal objects of
execration were Tadino and the senator Settala, who were stigmatised as
enemies of their country, men whose best exertions had been directed
towards mitigating the severity of the coming mischief. Even the
illustrious Settala, the aged father of the senator, whose talents were
equalled by his benevolence, was obliged to take refuge in a friend's
house from the popular fury, because he had constantly urged the
necessity of precautionary measures.

Towards the end of the month of March, at first in the suburb of the
eastern gate, then in the rest of the city, deaths, attended by singular
symptoms, such as spasms, delirium, livid spots and buboes, began to be
more frequent. Sudden deaths, too, were frequent, without any previous
illness. The physicians still perversely held out; but the magistracy
were aroused. The Tribunal of Health called on them to enforce their
directions; to raise the requisite funds for the growing expenses of the
lazaretto, as well as the helpless poor. The malady advanced rapidly. In
the lazaretto all was confusion, bad arrangement, and anarchy. In their
difficulty on this point the Tribunal had recourse to the capuchins, and
conjured the father provincial to give them a man capable of governing
this region of desolation. He offered them Father Felice Casati, who
enjoyed a high reputation for charity, activity, and kindness of
disposition, added to great strength of mind, and as a companion to him,
Father Michele Pozzobonelli, who, although young, was of a grave and
thoughtful character. They were joyfully accepted, and on the 30th of
March they entered on their duties. As the crowd in the lazaretto
increased, other capuchins joined them, willingly performing every
office both of spiritual and of temporal kindness, even the most menial;
the Father Felice, indefatigable in his labours, watched with unceasing
and parental care over the multitude. He caught the plague, was cured,
and resumed his duties even with greater alacrity. Most of his brethren
joyfully sacrificed their lives in this cause of afflicted humanity.

Not being able longer to deny the terrible effects of the malady, which
had now reached the family of the physician Settala, and was spreading
its ravages in many noble families, those medical men who had been
incredulous were still unwilling to acknowledge its true cause, which
would have been a tacit condemnation of themselves; they therefore
imagined one entirely conformable to the prejudices of the time. It was
at that period a prevailing opinion in all Europe, that enchanters
existed, diabolical operators, who at this time conspired to spread the
plague, by the aid of venomous poisons and witchcraft. Similar things
had been affirmed and believed in other epidemics; particularly at
Milan, in that of the preceding century. Moreover, towards the end of
the preceding year, a despatch had arrived from King Philip IV. giving
information that four Frenchmen, suspected of spreading poisons and
pestilential substances, had escaped from Madrid, and ordering that
watch should be kept to ascertain if by chance they had arrived at
Milan.

The governor communicated the despatch to the senate, and the Tribunal
of Health. It then excited no attention; but when the plague broke out,
and was acknowledged by all, this intelligence was remembered, and it
served to confirm the vague suspicion of criminal agency: two incidents
converted this vague suspicion into conviction of a positive and real
conspiracy. Some persons who imagined they saw, on the evening of the
17th of May, individuals rubbing a partition of the cathedral, carried
the partition out of the church in the night, together with a great
quantity of benches. The president of the senate, with four persons of
his tribunal, visited the partition, the benches, and the basins of holy
water, and found nothing which confirmed the ridiculous suspicion of
poison. However, to satisfy the disturbed imaginations of the populace,
it was decided that the partition should be washed and purified. But the
incident became a text for conjecture to the people; it was affirmed,
that the poisoners had rubbed all the benches and walls of the
cathedral, and even the bell-ropes.

The next morning a new and more strange and significant spectacle struck
the wondering eyes of the citizens. In all parts of the city the doors
of the houses and the walls were plastered with long streaks of whitish
yellow dirt, which appeared to have been rubbed on with a sponge.
Whether it was a wicked pleasantry to excite more general and thrilling
alarm, or that it had been done from the guilty design of increasing the
public disorder; whatever was the motive, the fact is so well attested,
that it cannot be attributed to imagination. The city, already alarmed,
was thrown into the utmost confusion; the owners of houses purified all
infected places; strangers were stopped in the streets on suspicion, and
conducted to prison, where they underwent long interrogatories which
naturally ended in proving none of these absurd and imaginary practices
against them. The Tribunal of Health published a decree, offering a
reward to whomsoever should discover the author or authors of this
attempt; but they did this, as they wrote to the governor, only to
satisfy the people and calm their fears,--a weak and dangerous
expedient, and calculated to confirm the popular belief.

In the mean time many attributed this story of the poisoned ointment to
the revenge of Gonsalvo Fernandez de Cordova; others to Cardinal
Richelieu, in order the more easily to get possession of Milan; others
again affixed the crime to various Milanese gentlemen.

There were still many who were not persuaded that it was the plague,
because if it were, every one infected would die of it; whereas a few
recovered. To dissipate every doubt, the Tribunal of Health made use of
an expedient conformable to the necessity of the occasion; they made an
address to the eyes, such as the spirit of the times suggested. On one
of the days of the feast of Pentecost, the inhabitants of the city were
accustomed to go to the burying ground of San Gregorio, beyond the
eastern gate, in order to pray for the dead in the last plague. Turning
the season of devotion into one of amusement, every one was attired in
his best; on that day a whole family, among others, had died of the
plague. At the hour in which the concourse was most numerous, the dead
bodies of this family were, by order of the Tribunal of Health, drawn
naked on a carriage towards this same burying ground; so that the crowd
might behold for themselves the manifest traces, the hideous impress of
the disease. A cry of alarm and horror arose wherever the car passed;
their incredulity was at least shaken, but it is probable that the great
concourse tended to spread the infection.

Still it was not absolutely the _plague_; the use of the word was
prohibited, it was a pestilential fever, the adjective was preferred to
the substantive,--then, not the true plague,--that is to say, the
plague, but only in a certain sense,--and further, combined with poison
and witchcraft. Such is the absurd trifling with which men seek to blind
themselves, wilfully abstaining from a sound exercise of judgment to
arrive at the truth.

Meanwhile, as it became from day to day more difficult to raise funds to
meet the painful exigencies of circumstances, the council of ten
resolved to have recourse to government. They represented, by two
deputies, the state of misery and distress of the city, the enormity of
the expense, the revenues anticipated, and the taxes withheld in
consequence of the general poverty which had been produced by so many
causes, and especially by the pillaging of the soldiery. That according
to various laws, and a special decree of Charles V., the expense of the
plague ought by right to devolve upon government. Finally, they
proceeded to make four demands: that the taxes should be suspended; that
the chamber should advance funds; that the governor should make known to
the king the calamitous state of the city and province; and that the
duchy, already exhausted, should be excused from providing quarters for
the soldiery. Spinola replied with new regrets and exhortations;
declaring himself grieved not to be able to visit Milan in person, in
order to employ himself for the preservation of the city, but hoping
that the zeal of the magistrates would supply his place: in short, he
made evasive answers to all their requests. Afterwards, when the plague
was at its height, he transferred, by letters patent, his authority to
the high chancellor Ferrer, being, as he said, obliged to devote himself
entirely to the cares of the war.

The council of ten then requested the cardinal to order a solemn
procession, for the purpose of carrying through the streets the body of
San Carlos. The good prelate refused; this confidence in a doubtful
means disturbed him, and he feared that, if the effect should not be
obtained, confidence would be converted into infidelity, and rebellion
against God. He also feared that if there really were poisoners, this
procession would be a favourable occasion for their machinations; and if
there were not, so great a collection would have a tendency to spread
the contagion.

The doors of public edifices and private houses had been again anointed
as at first. The news flew from mouth to mouth; the people, influenced
by present suffering, and by the imminence of the supposed danger,
readily embraced the belief. The idea of subtle instantaneous poison
seemed sufficient to explain the violence, and the almost
incomprehensible circumstances, of the disease. Add to this the idea of
enchantment, and any effect was possible, every objection was rendered
feeble, every difficulty was explained. If the effects did not
immediately succeed the first attempt, the cause was easy to assign: it
had been done by those to whom the art was new; and now that it was
brought to perfection, the perpetrators were more confirmed in their
infernal resolution. If any one had dared to suggest its having been
done in jest, or denied the existence of a dark plot, he would have
passed for an obstinate fool, if he did not incur the suspicion of being
himself engaged in it. With such persuasions on their minds, all were on
the alert to discover the guilty; the most indifferent action excited
suspicion, suspicion was changed to certainty, and certainty to rage.

As illustrations of this, Ripamonti cites two examples which fell under
his own observation, and such were of daily occurrence.

In the church of St. Antonio, on a day of some great solemnity, an old
man, after having prayed for some time on his knees, rose to seat
himself, and before doing so, wiped the dust from the bench with his
handkerchief. "The old man is poisoning the bench," cried some women,
who beheld the action. The crowd in the church threw themselves upon
him, tore his white hair, and after beating him, drew him out half dead,
to carry him to prison and to torture. "I saw the unfortunate man," says
Ripamonti; "I never knew the end of his painful story, but at the time I
thought he had but a few moments to live."

The other event occurred the next day; it was as remarkable, but not as
fatal. Three young Frenchmen having come to visit Italy, and study its
antiquities, had approached the cathedral, and were contemplating it
very attentively. Some persons, who were passing by, stopped; a circle
was formed around them; they were not lost sight of for a moment, having
been recognised as strangers, and especially Frenchmen. As if to assure
themselves that the wall was marble, the young artists extended their
hands to touch it. This was enough. In a moment they were surrounded,
and, with imprecations and blows, dragged to prison. Happily, however,
they were proved to be innocent, and released.

These things were not confined to the city; the frenzy was propagated
equally with the contagion. The traveller encountered off the high road,
the stranger whose habits or appearance were in any respect singular,
were judged to be poisoners. At the first intelligence of a new comer,
at the cry even of a child, the alarm bell was rung; and the unfortunate
persons were assailed with showers of stones, or seized and conducted to
prison. And thus the prison itself was, during a certain period, a place
of safety.

Meanwhile, the council of ten, not silenced by the refusal of the wise
prelate, again urged their request for the procession, which the people
seconded by their clamours. The cardinal again resisted, but finding
resistance useless, he finally yielded; he did more, he consented that
the case which enclosed the relics of San Carlos should be exposed for
eight days on the high altar of the cathedral.

The Tribunal of Health and the other authorities did not oppose this
proceeding; they only ordained some precautions, which, without
obviating the danger, indicated too plainly their apprehensions. They
issued severe orders to prevent people from abroad entering the city;
and, to insure their execution, commanded the gates to be closed. They
also nailed up the condemned houses; "the number of which," says a
contemporary writer, "amounted to about five hundred."

Three days were employed in preparation; on the 11th of June the
procession left the cathedral at daybreak: a long file of people,
composed for the most part of women, their faces covered with silk
masks, and many of them with bare feet, and clothed in sackcloth,
appeared first. The tradesmen came next, preceded by their banners; the
societies, in habits of various forms and colours; then the
brotherhoods, then the secular clergy, each with the insignia of his
rank, and holding a lighted taper in his hand. In the midst, among the
brilliant light of the torches, and the resounding echo of the
canticles, the case advanced, covered with a rich canopy, and carried
alternately by four canons, sumptuously attired. Through the crystal
were seen the mortal remains of the saint, clothed in his pontifical
robes, and his head covered with a mitre. In his mutilated features
might still be distinguished some traces of his former countenance, such
as his portraits represent him, and such as some of the spectators
remembered to have beheld and honoured. Behind the remains of the holy
prelate, and resembling him in merit, birth, and dignity, as well as in
person, came the Archbishop Frederick. The rest of the clergy followed
him, and with them the magistrates in their robes, then the nobility,
some magnificently clothed, as if to do honour to the pomp of the
celebration, and others as penitents, in sackcloth and bare-footed, each
bearing a torch in his hand. A vast collection of people terminated the
procession.

The streets were ornamented as on festival days: the rich sent out their
most precious furniture; and thus the fronts of the poorest houses were
decorated by their more wealthy neighbours, or at the expense of the
public. Here, in the place of hangings, and there, over the hangings
themselves, were suspended branches of trees; on all sides hung
pictures, inscriptions, devices; on the balconies were displayed vases,
rich antiquities, and valuable curiosities; with burning flambeaux at
various stations. From many of the windows the sequestrated sick looked
out upon the procession, and mingled their prayers with those of the
people as they passed. The procession returned to the cathedral about
the middle of the day.

But the next day, whilst presumptuous and fanatical assurance had taken
possession of every mind, the number of deaths augmented in all parts of
the city in a progression so frightful, and in a manner so sudden, that
none could avoid confessing the cause to have been the procession
itself. However, (astonishing and deplorable power of prejudice!) this
effect was not attributed to the assemblage of so many people, and to
the increase of fortuitous contact, but to the facility afforded to the
poisoners to execute their infernal purposes. But as this opinion could
not account for so vast a mortality, and as no traces of strange
substances had been discovered on the road of the procession, recourse
was had to another invention, admitted by general opinion in
Europe--magical and poisoned powders! It was asserted that these
powders, scattered profusely in the road, attached themselves to the
skirts of the gowns, and to the feet of those who had been on that day
barefooted: thus the human mind delights itself with contending against
phantoms of its own creating.

The violence of the contagion increased daily; in short, there was
hardly a house that was not infected; the number of souls in the
lazaretto amounted to 12,000, and sometimes to 16,000. The daily
mortality, which had hitherto exceeded 500, soon increased to 1200 and
1500.

We may imagine the agony of the council of ten, on whom rested the
weighty burden of providing for the public necessities, and of repairing
what was reparable in such a disaster: they had to replace every day,
and every day to add to the number of individuals charged with public
services of all kinds. Of these individuals there were three remarkable
classes; the first was that of the _monatti_: this appellation, of
doubtful origin, was applied to those men who were devoted to the most
painful and dangerous employment in times of contagion; the taking of
the dead bodies from the houses, from the streets, and from the
lazaretto, carrying them to their graves, and burying them; also,
bringing the sick to the lazaretto, and burning and purifying suspected
or infected objects; the second class was that of the _apparitori_,
whose special function was to precede the funeral cars, ringing a bell
to warn passengers to retire; and the third was that of the
commissaries, who presided over both the other classes, under the
immediate orders of the Tribunal of Health.

It was necessary to keep the lazaretto furnished with medicine,
surgeons, food, and all the requisites of an infirmary; and it was also
necessary to find and prepare new habitations for new cases. Cabins of
wood and straw were hastily constructed in the interior enclosure of the
lazaretto; then a second lazaretto, a little beyond, was erected,
capable of containing 4000 persons. Two others were ordered, but means,
men, and courage failed, and they were never completed: despair and
weakness had attained such a point, that the most urgent and painful
wants were unprovided for; each day, for example, children, whose
mothers had perished of the plague, died from neglect. The Tribunal of
Health proposed to found an hospital for these innocent creatures, but
could obtain no assistance for the purpose; all supplies were for the
army, "because," said the governor, "it is a time of war, and we must
treat the soldiers well."

Meanwhile the immense ditch which had been dug near the lazaretto was
filled with dead bodies; a number still remained without sepulture, as
hands were wanting for the work. Without extraordinary aid this calamity
must have remained unremedied. The president of the senate addressed
himself in tears to the two intrepid friars who governed the lazaretto,
and the Father Michele pledged himself to relieve in four days the city
of the unburied dead, and to dig, in the course of a week, another ditch
sufficient not only for present wants, but even for those which might be
anticipated in future. Followed by another friar, and public officers
chosen by the president, he went into the country to procure peasants,
and partly by the authority of the tribunal, partly by that of his
habit, he gathered 200, whom he employed to dig the earth. He then
despatched _monatti_ from the lazaretto to collect the dead. At the
appointed time his promise was fulfilled.

At one time the lazaretto was left without physicians, and it was only
after much trouble and time, and great offers of money and honours, that
others could be prevailed on to supply their place. Provisions were
often so scarce, as to create apprehensions of starvation, but more than
once these necessities were unexpectedly supplied by the charity of
individuals. In the midst of the general stupor, or the indifference to
the miseries of others, occasioned by personal apprehension, some were
found whose hands and hearts had ever been open to the wretched, and
others with whom the virtue of benevolence had commenced with the loss
of all their terrestrial happiness. So also, amidst the destruction of
the flight of so many men charged with watching over and providing for
the public safety, others were seen, who, well in body and firm in mind,
ever remained faithful at their post, and some even, who, by an
admirable self-devotion, sustained with heroic constancy cares to which
their duty did not call them.

The most entire self-devotion was especially conspicuous among the
clergy; at the lazarettos, in the city, their assistance was always at
hand; they were found, wherever there was suffering, always in
attendance on the sick and the dying; very often languishing and dying
themselves: with spiritual, they bestowed, as far as they could,
temporal succour. More than sixty clergymen in the city alone died from
the contagion, which was nearly eight out of nine.

Frederick, as might be expected, was an example to all; after having
seen all his household perish around him, he was solicited by his
family, by the first magistrates, and by the neighbouring princes, to
fly the peril, but he rejected their advice and their solicitations with
the same firmness which induced him to write to the clergy of his
diocese:--"Be disposed to abandon life rather than these sufferers, who
are your children, and your family; go with the same joy into the midst
of the pestilence, as to a certain reward, since you may, by these
means, win many souls to Christ." He neglected no precaution compatible
with his duty: he even gave instructions to his clergy on this point;
but he betrayed no anxiety, nor did he even appear to perceive danger,
where it was necessary to incur it, in order to do good. He was always
with the ecclesiastics, to praise and direct the zealous, and to excite
the lukewarm; he visited the lazarettos to console the sick, and
encourage those who assisted them; he travelled over the city, carrying
aid to the miserable who were sequestered in their houses, stopping at
their doors and under their windows, to listen to their complaints, and
to give them words of consolation and encouragement. Having thus thrown
himself into the midst of the contagion, it was truly wonderful that he
never was attacked by it.

In seasons of public calamity, when confusion takes the place of order,
we often behold a display of the sublimest virtue, but more frequently,
alas! an increase of vice and crime. Instances of the latter were not
wanting during the present unhappy period. The profligate, spared by the
plague, found in the common confusion, and in the slackening of the
restraints of law, new occasions for mischief, and new assurances of
impunity. And further, power itself had passed into the hands of the
boldest among them. There were scarcely found for the functions of
_monatti_ and _apparitori_ any, but those over whom the attraction of
rapine and licence had more sway than dread of the contagion. Strict
rules had been prescribed to them, and severe penalties threatened for
infringing them, which had some power for awhile; but the number of
deaths, and the increasing desolation, and the universal alarm, soon
relieved them from all superintendence, and they constituted themselves
(the _monatti_ in particular) the arbiters of every thing. They entered
houses as masters and enemies; and, not to mention their robberies, and
the cruel treatment which those unhappy persons experienced whom the
plague condemned to their authority, they applied their infected and
criminal hands to those in health, threatening to carry them to the
lazaretto, unless they purchased their exemption with money. At other
times they refused to carry off the dead bodies already in a state of
putrefaction, without a high price being paid them; it is even said,
that they designedly let fall from their carts infected clothing, in
order to propagate the infection from which their wealth was derived.
Many ruffians, too, assuming the garb of these wretches, carried on
extensive robberies in the houses of the sick, dying, and helpless.

In the same proportion as vice increased, folly increased; the foolish
idea was again revived of _poisonings_; the dread of this fantastic
danger beset and tormented the minds of men more than the real and
present danger. "While," says Ripamonti, "the heaps of dead bodies lying
before the eyes of the living made the city a vast tomb, there was
something more afflicting and hideous still--reciprocal distrust and
extravagant suspicion; and this not only between friends, neighbours,
and guests; but husbands, wives, and children, became objects of terror
to one another, and, horrible to tell! even the domestic board and the
nuptial bed were dreaded as snares, as places were poison might be
concealed."

Besides ambition and cupidity, the motives commonly attributed to the
poisoners, it was imagined that this action included an indefinable,
diabolical voluptuousness of enjoyment, an attractiveness stronger than
the will. The ravings of the sick, who accused themselves of that which
they had dreaded in others, were considered as so many involuntary
revelations, which rendered belief irresistible.

Among the stories recorded of this delirium, there is one which deserves
to be related, on account of the extensive credence it obtained.

It was said that on a certain day, a citizen had seen an equipage with
six horses stop in the square of the cathedral. Within it was a person
of a noble and majestic figure, dark complexion, eyes inflamed, and lips
compressed and threatening. The spectator being invited to enter the
carriage, complied. After a short circuit, it made a halt before the
gate of a magnificent palace. Entering it he beheld mingled scenes of
delight and horror, frightful deserts and smiling gardens, dark caverns
and magnificent saloons. Phantoms were seated in council. They showed
him large boxes of money, telling him he might take as many of them as
he chose, provided he would accept at the same time a little vase of
poison, and consent to employ it against the citizens. He refused, and
in a moment found himself at the place from which he had been taken.
This story, generally believed by the people, spread all over Italy. An
engraving of it was made in Germany. The Archbishop of Mayence wrote to
Cardinal Frederick, asking him what credence might be attached to the
prodigies related of Milan. He received for answer, that they were all
idle dreams.

The dreams of the learned, if they were not of the same nature as those
of the vulgar, did not exceed them in value; the greater part beheld the
forerunner and the cause of these calamities, in a comet which appeared
in 1628, and in the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. Another comet
that appeared in June in the same year announced the poisonous
anointings. All writings were ransacked that contained any passages
respecting poisons; amongst the ancients, Livy was cited, Tacitus,
Dionysius, even Homer and Ovid were searched. Among the moderns,
Cesalpino, Cardan, Grevino, Salio, Pareo Schenchio, Zachia, and lastly
the fatal Delrio, whose _Disquisitions on Magic_ became the text book on
such subjects, the future rule, and, in fact, the powerful impulse to
horrible and frequent legal murders.

The physicians yielded to the popular belief, and attributed to poison
and diabolical conjurations the ordinary symptoms of the malady. Even
Tadino himself, one of the most celebrated physicians of his day, who
had witnessed the entrance of the disorder, anticipated its ravages,
studied its symptoms, and admitted it to be _the plague_, even he, such
is the strange perversity of human reason, drew from all these facts an
argument in proof of the dissemination of some subtle poison, by means
of ointments. Nor was the enlightened Cardinal Frederick himself
altogether uninfected by the general mania. In a small tract of his on
the subject in the Ambrosian Library, he says, "Of the mode of
compounding and dispensing these ointments, various statements have been
made, some of which we hold for true, while others appear imaginary."

On the other hand, Muratori tells us, that he had met with well-informed
persons in Milan, whose ancestors were decidedly convinced of the
absurdity of this widely spread and extraordinary error, but whose
safety rendered it imperative on them to keep their sentiments on the
subject to themselves.

The magistrates employed the little vigilance and resolution which
remained to them in searching out the poisoners, and unhappily thought
they had detected them. A recital of these and similar cases would form
a remarkable feature in the history of jurisprudence. But it is high
time we should resume the thread of our story.



CHAPTER XXXII.


One night, towards the end of the month of August, in the very height of
the pestilence, Don Roderick returned to his house at Milan, accompanied
by his faithful Griso, one of the small number of his servants who still
survived. He had just left a company of friends, who were accustomed to
assemble together, to banish by debauchery the melancholy of the times;
at each meeting there were new guests added, and old ones missing. On
that day Don Roderick had been one of the gayest, and, among other
subjects of merriment which he introduced, he had made the company laugh
at a mock funeral sermon on Count Attilio, who had been carried off by
the pestilence a few days before.

After leaving the house where he had held his carousal, he was conscious
of an uneasiness, a faintness, a weariness of his limbs, a difficulty of
breathing, and an internal heat, which he was ready to attribute to the
wine, the late hour, and the influence of the season. He spoke not a
word during the whole route. Arriving at his house, he ordered Griso to
light him to his chamber. Griso, perceiving the change in his master's
countenance, kept at a distance, as, in these dangerous times, every one
was obliged to keep for himself, as was said, a medical eye.

"I feel very well, do you see," said Don Roderick, reading in the
features of Griso the thoughts which were passing through his mind,--"I
feel very well; but I have drank a little too much. The wine was so
fine! With a good sleep all will be well again. I am overcome by sleep.
Take away the light; I cannot bear it; it troubles me."

"It is the effect of the wine, signor," said Griso, still keeping at a
distance; "but go to bed, sleep will do you good."

"You are right; if I could sleep---- I am well, were it not for the want
of sleep. Place the little bell near me, in case I should want
something; and be attentive if I ring. But I shall need nothing. Carry
away that cursed light," added he; "it troubles me more than I can
tell."

Griso carried off the light; and, wishing his master a good night, he
quitted the apartment as Don Roderick crouched beneath the bed-clothes.

But the bed-clothes weighed upon him like a mountain; throwing them off,
he endeavoured to compose himself to sleep; hardly had he closed his
eyes when he awoke with a start, as if he had been roused by a blow, and
he felt that the pain and fever had increased. He endeavoured to find
the cause of his sufferings in the heat of the weather, the wine, and
the debauch in which he had just been engaged; but one idea
involuntarily mingled itself with all his reflections, an idea at which
he had been laughing all the evening with his companions, as it was
easier to make it a subject of raillery than to drive it away,--the idea
of the plague.

After having struggled a long time, he at last fell asleep, but was
tormented by frightful dreams. It appeared to him that he was in a vast
church, in the midst of a crowd of people. How he came there he could
not tell, nor how the thought to do so could have entered his head,
especially at such a time. Looking on those by whom he was surrounded,
he perceived them to be lean, livid figures, with wild and glaring eyes;
the garments of these hideous creatures fell in shreds from their
bodies, and through them might be seen frightful blotches and swellings.
He thought he cried, "Give way, you rascals!" as he looked towards the
door, which was far, far off, accompanying the cry with a menacing
expression of countenance, and wrapping his arms around his body to
prevent coming in contact with them, for they seemed to be touching him
on every side. But they moved not, nor even seemed to hear him: it
appeared to him, however, that some one amongst them, with his elbow,
pressed his left side near his heart, where he felt a painful pricking.
Trying to withdraw himself from so irksome a situation, he experienced a
recurrence of the sensation. Irritated beyond measure, he stretched out
his hand for his sword, and, behold, it had glided the whole length of
his body, and the hilt of it was pressing him in this very place. Vainly
did he endeavour to remove it, every effort only increased his agonies.
Agitated and out of breath, he again cried aloud; at the sound, all
those wild and hideous phantoms rushed to one side of the church,
leaving the pulpit exposed to view, in which stood, with his venerable
countenance, his bald head and white beard, Father Christopher. It
appeared to Don Roderick that the capuchin, after having looked over the
assembly, fixed his eyes upon him, with the same expression as on the
well-remembered interview in his castle, and, at the same time, raised
his arm, and held it suspended above his head; making an effort to
arrest the blow, a cry which struggled in his throat escaped him, and he
awoke. He opened his eyes; the light of day, which was already advanced,
pressed upon his brain, and imparted as keen an anguish as the torch of
the preceding night. Looking around on his bed and his room, he
comprehended that it was a dream; the church, the crowd, the friar, all
had vanished; but not so the pain in his left side. He was sensible of
an agonising and rapid beating of his heart, a buzzing in his ears, an
internal heat which consumed him, and a weight and weariness in his
limbs greater than when he went to bed. He could not resolve to look at
the spot where he felt the pain; but, finally gathering courage to do
so, he beheld with horror a hideous tumour of a livid purple.

Don Roderick saw that he was lost. The fear of death took possession of
him, and with it came the apprehension, stronger perhaps than the dread
of death itself, of becoming the prey of the _monatti_, and of being
thrown into the lazaretto. Endeavouring to think of some means of
avoiding this terrible fate, he experienced a confusion and obscurity in
his ideas which told him that the moment was fast approaching when he
should have no feeling left but of despair. Seizing the bell, he shook
it violently. Griso, who was on the watch, appeared immediately;
stopping at a distance from the bed, he looked attentively at his
master, and became certain of that which he had only conjectured the
night before.

"Griso," said Don Roderick, with difficulty raising himself in his bed,
"you have always been my favourite."

"Yes, my lord."

"I have always done well by you."

"The consequence of your goodness."

"I can trust you, I think. I am ill, Griso."

"I perceived that you were."

"If I am cured, I will do still more for you than I have ever yet done."

Griso made no answer, waiting to see to what this preamble would lead.

"I would not trust any one but you," resumed Don Roderick; "do me a
favour."

"Command me."

"Do you know where the surgeon Chiodo lives?"

"I do."

"He is an honest man, who, if he be well paid, keeps secret the sick. Go
to him; tell him I will give him four or six crowns a visit,--more, if
he wishes it. Tell him to come here immediately; act with prudence; let
no one get knowledge of it."

"Well thought of," said Griso; "I will return immediately."

"First, Griso, give me a little water; I burn with thirst."

"No, my lord, nothing without the advice of a physician. This is a rapid
disease, and there is no time to lose. Be tranquil. In the twinkling of
an eye, I will be here with the signor Chiodo." So saying, he left the
room.

Don Roderick followed him in imagination to the house of Chiodo, counted
his steps, measured the time. He often looked at his side, but,
horror-struck, could only regard it a moment. Continuing to listen
intently for the arrival of the surgeon, this effort of attention
suspended the sense of suffering, and left him the free exercise of his
thoughts. Suddenly he heard a noise of small bells, which appeared to
come from some of the apartments, and not from the street. Listening
again, he heard it louder, and at the same time a sound of steps. A
horrible suspicion darted across his mind. He sat up, listened still
more attentively, and heard a sound in the next chamber, as of a chest
carefully placed on the floor; he threw his limbs out of bed, so as to
be ready to rise; and kept his eyes fastened on the door; it opened,
and, behold, two _monatti_ with their diabolical countenances, and
cursed liveries, advancing towards the bed, whilst from the half-open
door was seen the figure of Griso, awaiting the success of his sordid
treachery.

"Ah, infamous traitor! Begone, rascals! Biondino, Carlotto, help!
murder!" cried Don Roderick, extending his hand under his pillow for his
pistol.

At his very first cry the _monatti_ had rushed towards the bed, and the
most active of the two was upon him before he could make another
movement; jerking the pistol from his hand, and throwing it on the
floor, he forced him to lie down, crying in an accent of rage and
mockery, "Ah, scoundrel! against the _monatti_! against the ministers of
the tribunal!"

"Keep him down until we are ready to carry him out," said the other, as
he advanced to a strong box. Griso entered the room, and with him
commenced forcing its lock. "Villain!" shouted Don Roderick, struggling
to get free: "let me kill this infamous rascal," said he to the
_monatti_, "and then you may do with me what you will." He then called
again loudly on his other servants, but in vain; the abominable Griso
had sent them far away with orders as if from his master, before he
himself went to propose this expedition, and a share of its spoils, to
the _monatti_.

"Be quiet, be quiet," said the man, who held him extended on the bed, to
the unhappy Don Roderick; then, turning to those who were taking the
booty, he said, "Behave like honest men."

"You! you!" murmured Don Roderick to Griso, "you! after---- Ah, demon
of hell! I may still be cured! I may still be cured!"

Griso spoke not a word, and was careful to avoid looking at his master.

"Hold him tight," said the other _monatto_, "he is frantic."

The unfortunate man, after many violent efforts, became suddenly
exhausted; but from time to time was seen to struggle feebly and vainly,
for a moment, against his persecutors.

The _monatti_ deposited him on a hand-barrow which had been left in the
outer room; one of them returned for the booty, then raising their
miserable burden, they carried him off. Griso remained awhile to make a
selection of such articles as were valuable and portable; he had been
very careful not to touch the _monatti_, nor be touched by them; but, in
his thirst for gain, his prudence forsook him; taking the different
articles of his master's dress from off the bed, he shook them, for the
purpose of ascertaining if there was money in them.

He had, however, occasion to remember his want of caution the next day;
whilst carousing in a tavern, he was seized with a shivering, his eyes
grew dim, his strength failed, and he fell lifeless. Abandoned by his
companions, he fell into the hands of the _monatti_, who, after having
plundered him, threw him on a car, where he expired, before arriving at
the lazaretto to which his master had been carried.

We must leave Don Roderick in this abode of horror, and return to Renzo,
whom our readers may remember we left in a manufactory under the name of
Antony Rivolta. He remained there five or six months; after which, war
being declared between the republic and the King of Spain, and all fear
on his account having ceased, Bortolo hastened to bring him back, both
because he was attached to him, and because Renzo was a great assistance
to the _factotum_ of a manufactory, without the possibility of his ever
aspiring to be one himself, on account of his inability to write.
Bortolo was a good man, and in the main generous, but, like other men,
he had his failings; and as this motive really had a place in his
calculations, we have thought it our duty to state it. From this time
Renzo continued to work with his cousin. More than once, and especially
after having received a letter from Agnes, he felt a desire to turn
soldier; and opportunities were not wanting, for at this epoch the
republic was in want of recruits. The temptation was the stronger, as
there was a talk of invading the Milanese, and it appeared to him that
it would be a fine thing to return there as a conqueror, see Lucy again,
and have an explanation with her; but Bortolo always diverted him from
this resolution. "If they go there," said he, "they can go without you,
and you can go afterwards at your leisure. If they return with broken
heads, you will be glad to have been out of the scrape. The Milanese is
not a mouthful to be easily swallowed; and then the question, my friend,
turns on the power of Spain. Have a little patience. Are you not well
here? I know what you will say; but if it is written above that the
affair shall succeed, succeed it will, without your committing more
follies. Some saint will come to your assistance. Believe me, war is not
a trade for you. It needs men expressly trained to the business."

At other times Renzo thought of returning home in disguise, under a
false name, but Bortolo dissuaded him from this project also.

The plague afterwards spreading over all the Milanese, and advancing to
the Bergamascan territory----don't be alarmed, reader, our design is not
to relate its history; all that we would say is, that Renzo was attacked
with it, and recovered. He was at death's door; but his strong
constitution repelling the disease, in a few days he was out of danger.
With life, the hopes and recollections and projects of life returned
with greater vigour than ever; more than ever were his thoughts occupied
with his Lucy: what had become of her in these disastrous times? "To be
at so short distance from her, and to know nothing concerning her, and
to remain, God knows how long, in this uncertainty! and then her vow! I
will go myself, I will go and relieve these terrible doubts," said he.
"If she lives, I will find her; I will hear herself explain this
promise; I will show her that it is not binding; and I will bring her
here, and poor Agnes also, who has always wished me well, and I am sure
does so still,--yes, I will go in search of them."

As soon as he was able to walk, he went in search of Bortolo, who had
kept himself shut up in his house, on account of the pestilence. He
called to him to come to the window.

"Ah, ah," said Bortolo, "you have recovered. It is well for you."

"I have still some weakness in my limbs, as you see, but I am out of
danger."

"Oh, I wish I was on your legs. Formerly, when one said, _I am well_, it
expressed all that could be desired; but now-a-days that is of little
consequence. When one can say _I am better_, that's the word for you!"

Renzo informed his cousin of his determination.

"Go now, and may Heaven bless you," replied he; "avoid the law as I
shall avoid the pestilence; and if it is the will of God, we shall see
each other again."

"Oh, I shall certainly return. If I were only sure of not returning
alone! I hope for the best."

"Well, I join in your hopes; if God wills, we will work, and live
together here. Heaven grant you may find me here, and that this devilish
disease may have ceased."

"We shall meet again, we shall meet again, I am sure."

"I say again, God bless you."

In a few days Renzo, finding his strength sufficiently restored,
prepared for his departure; he put on a girdle in which he placed the
fifty crowns sent him by Agnes, together with his own small savings; he
took under his arm a small bundle of clothes, and secured in his pocket
his certificate of good conduct from his second master; and having armed
himself with a good knife, a necessary appendage to an honest man in
those days, he commenced his journey towards the end of August, three
days after Don Roderick had been carried to the lazaretto. He took the
road to Lecco, before venturing into Milan, as he hoped to find Agnes
there, and learn from her some little of what he desired so much to
know.

The small number of those who had been cured of the plague formed a
privileged class amidst the rest of the population; those who had not
been attacked by the disease lived in perpetual apprehension of it; they
walked about with precaution, with an unquiet air, with a hurried and
hesitating step; the former, on the contrary, nearly certain of security
(for to have the plague twice was rather a prodigy than a rarity),
advanced into the very midst of the pestilence with boldness and
unconcern. With such security, tempered, however, by his own peculiar
anxieties, and by the spectacle of the misery of a whole people, Renzo
travelled towards his village, under a fine sky, and through a beautiful
country; meeting on the way, after long intervals of dismal solitude,
men more like shadows and wandering phantoms than living beings; or dead
bodies about to be consigned to the trench without funeral rites.
Towards the middle of the day he stopped in a grove to eat his meat and
bread; he was bountifully supplied with fruits from the gardens by the
road, for the year was remarkably fertile, the trees along the road were
laden with figs, peaches, plums, apples, and other various kinds, with
hardly a living creature to gather them.

Towards evening he discovered his village; although prepared for the
sight, he felt his heart beat, and he was assailed in a moment by a
crowd of painful recollections and harrowing presentiments: a deathlike
silence reigned around. His agitation increased as he entered the
churchyard, and became hardly supportable at the end of the lane--it was
there, where stood the house of Lucy--one only of its inmates could now
be there, and the only favour he asked from Heaven was to find Agnes
still living; he hoped to find an asylum at her cottage, as he judged
truly that his own roust be in ruins.

As he went on he looked attentively before him, fearing, and at the same
time hoping, to meet some one from whom he might obtain information. He
saw at last a man seated on the ground, leaning against a hedge of
jessamines, in the listless attitude of an idiot. He thought it must be
the poor simpleton Jervase, who had been employed as a witness in his
unsuccessful expedition to the curate's house. But approaching nearer,
he recognised it to be Anthony. The disease had affected his mind, as
well as his body, so that in every act a slight resemblance to his weak
brother might be traced.

"Oh, Tony," said Renzo, stopping before him, "is it you?" Tony raised
his eyes, but not his head.

"Tony, do you not know me?"

"Is it my turn? Is it my turn?" replied he.

"Poor Tony! do you indeed not know me?"

"Is it my turn? Is it my turn?" replied he, with an idiotic smile, and
then stood with his mouth open.

Renzo, seeing he could draw nothing from him, passed on still more
afflicted than before. Suddenly, at a turn of the path, he beheld
advancing towards him a person whom he recognised to be Don Abbondio.
His pale countenance and general appearance showed that he also had not
escaped the tempest. The curate, seeing a stranger, anxiously examined
his person, whose costume was that of Bergamo. At length he recognised
Renzo with much surprise.

"Is it he, indeed?" thought he, and raised his hands with a movement of
wonder and dismay. His wasted arms seemed trembling in his sleeves,
which before could hardly contain them.

Renzo, hastening towards him, bowed profoundly; for, although he had
quitted him in anger, he still felt respect for him as his curate.

"You here! you!" cried Don Abbondio.

"Yes, I am here, as you see. Do you know any thing of Lucy?"

"How should I know? nothing is known of her. She is at Milan, if she is
still in this world. But you----"

"And Agnes, is she living?"

"Perhaps she is; but who do you think can tell? she is not here.
But----"

"Where is she?"

"She has gone to Valsassina, among her relatives at Pasturo; for they
say that down there the pestilence has not made such ravages as it has
here. But you, I say----"

"I am glad of that. And Father Christopher?"

"He has been gone this long time. But you----"

"I heard that,--but has he not returned?"

"Oh no, we have heard nothing of him. But you----"

"I am sorry for it."

"But you, I say, what do you do here? For the love of Heaven, have you
forgotten that little circumstance of the order for your apprehension?"

"What matters it? people have other things to think of now. I came here
to see about my own affairs."

"There is nothing to see about; there is no one here now. It is the
height of rashness in you to venture here, with this little difficulty
impending. Listen to an old man who has more prudence than yourself, and
who speaks to you from the love he bears you. Depart at once, before any
one sees you, return whence you came. Do you think the air of this place
good for you? Know you not that they have been here on the search for
you?"

"I know it too well, the rascals."

"But then----"

"But, I tell you, they think no more about it. And _he_, does _he_ yet
live? is _he_ here?"

"I tell you there is no one here; I tell you to think no more of the
affairs of this place; I tell you that----"

"I ask you if _he_ is here;"

"Oh, just Heaven! Speak in another manner. Is it possible you still
retain so much warmth, after all that has happened?"

"Is _he_ here, or is _he_ not?"

"He is not. But the plague, my son, the plague keeps every one from
travelling at present."

"If the pestilence was all that we need fear--I speak for myself, I have
had it, and I fear it not."

"You had better render thanks to Heaven. And----"

"I do, from the bottom of my heart."

"And not go in search of other evils, I say. Listen to my advice."

"You have had it also, sir, if I am not mistaken."

"That I have, truly! most terrible it was! it is by a miracle I am here;
you see how it has left me. I have need of repose to restore my
strength; I was beginning to feel a little better. In the name of
Heaven, what do you do here? Go away, I beseech you."

"You always return to your _go away_. If I ought to go away, I would not
have come. You keep saying, _What do you come for? what do you come
for?_ Sir, I am come home."

"Home!"

"Tell me, have there been many deaths here?"

"Many!" cried Don Abbondio; and beginning with Perpetua, he gave a long
list of individuals, and even whole families. Renzo expected, it is
true, a similar recital; but hearing the names of so many acquaintances,
friends, and relations, he was absorbed by his affliction, and could
only exclaim, from time to time, "Misery! misery! misery!"

"And it is not yet over," pursued Don Abbondio. "If those who remain do
not listen to reason, and calm the heat of their brains, it will be the
end of the world."

"Do not concern yourself; I do not intend to remain here."

"Heaven be praised! you talk reason at last. Go at once----"

"Do not trouble yourself about it; the affair belongs to me. I think I
have arrived at years of discretion. I hope you will tell no one that
you have seen me. You are a priest, and I am one of your flock; you will
not betray me?"

"I understand," said Don Abbondio, angrily, "I understand. You would
ruin yourself, and me with you. What you have suffered, what I have
suffered, is not sufficient. I understand, I understand." And continuing
to mutter between his teeth, he proceeded on his way.

Renzo, afflicted and disappointed, reflected where he should seek
another asylum. In the catalogue of deaths given to him by Don Abbondio,
there was a family which had all been carried off by the pestilence,
with the exception of a young man nearly of his own age, who had been
his companion from infancy. The house was a short distance off, a little
beyond the village; he bent his steps thither, to seek the hospitality
which it might afford him. On his way he passed his own vineyard. The
vines were cut, the wood carried off. Weeds of various kinds and most
luxuriant growth, principally of the parasitical order, covered the
place, displaying the most brilliant flowers above the loftiest branches
of the vines, and obstructing the progress of the miserable owner. The
garden beyond presented a similar scene of varied and luxuriant
wildness. The house, that had not escaped the visitation of the
lansquenets, was deformed with filth, dust, and cobwebs. Poor Renzo
turned away with imbittered feelings, and moved slowly onwards to his
friend's. It was evening. He found him seated before the door, on a
small bench, his arms crossed on his breast, with the air of a man
stupified by distress, and suffering from solitude. At the sound of
steps he turned, and the twilight and the foliage not permitting him to
distinguish objects distinctly, he said, "Are there not others besides
me? Did I not do enough yesterday? Leave me in quiet; it will be an act
of charity."

Renzo, not knowing what this meant, called him by name.

"Renzo?" replied he.

"It is indeed," said Renzo, and they ran towards each other.

"Is it you indeed?" said his friend: "oh, how happy I am to see you! who
would have thought it? I took you for one of those persons who torment
me daily to help to bury the dead. Know you that I am left alone? alone!
alone as a hermit!"

"I know it but too well," said Renzo. They entered the cottage together,
each making numerous enquiries of the other. His friend began to prepare
the table for supper; he went out, and returned in a few moments with a
pitcher of milk, a little salt meat, and some fruit. They seated
themselves at table, at which the polenta was not forgotten, mutually
congratulating each other on their interview. An absence of two years,
and the circumstances under which they met, revived and added new vigour
to their former friendship.

No one, however, could supply the place of Agnes to Renzo, not only on
account of the particular affection she bore him, but she alone
possessed the key to the solution of all his difficulties. He hesitated
awhile whether he had not best go in search of her, as she was not very
far off; but recollecting that he knew nothing of the fate of Lucy, he
adhered to his first intention of gaining all the information he could
concerning her, and carrying the result to her mother. He learnt from
his friend, however, many things of which he was ignorant, others were
explained which he only knew by halves, with regard to the adventures of
Lucy, and the persecutions she had undergone. He was also informed that
Don Roderick had left the village, and had not returned. Renzo learnt,
moreover, to pronounce the name of Don Ferrante properly; Agnes, it is
true, had caused it to be written to him, but Heaven knows how it was
written; and the Bergamascan interpreter had given it so strange a
sound, that if he had not received some instruction from his friend,
probably no one in Milan would have guessed whom he meant, although this
was the only clue he had to guide him to Lucy. As far as the law was in
question his mind was set at rest. The signor Podestà was dead, and most
of the officers; the others were removed, or had other matters too
pressing to occupy their attention. He related, in his turn, his own
adventures to his friend, receiving in exchange an account of the
passage of the army, the pestilence, the poisoners, and the prodigies.
"Dreadful as are our afflictions," said he, as he led him for the night
to a little chamber which the epidemic had deprived of its inhabitants,
"there is a mournful consolation in speaking of them to our friends."

At the break of day they both arose, and Renzo prepared to depart. "If
all goes well," said he, "if I find her living--if--I will return. I
will go to Pasturo and carry the joyful news to poor Agnes, and
then--but if, by a misfortune, which may God avert--then, I know not
what I shall do, nor where I shall go; but you will never see me here
again."

As he stood on the threshold of the door, about to resume his journey,
he contemplated for a moment, with a mixture of tenderness and anguish,
his village, which he had not beheld for so long a time. His friend
accompanied him a short distance on his road, and bade him farewell,
prognosticating a happy return, and many days of prosperity and
enjoyment.

Renzo travelled leisurely, because there was ample time for him to
arrive within a short distance of Milan, so as to enter it on the
morrow. His journey was without accident, except a repetition of the
same wretched scenes that the roads at that time presented. As he had
done the day before, he stopped in a grove to make a slight repast,
which the generosity of his friend had bestowed on him. Passing through
Monza, he saw loaves of bread displayed in the window of a shop; he
bought two of them, but the shopkeeper called to him not to enter;
stretching out a shovel, on which was a small bowl of vinegar and water,
he told him to throw the money into it; then with a pair of tongs he
reached the bread to him, which Renzo put in his pocket.

Towards evening he passed through Greco, and quitting the high road,
went into the fields in search of some small house where he might pass
the night, as he did not wish to stop at an inn. He found a better
shelter than he anticipated; perceiving an opening in a hedge which
surrounded the yard of a dairy, he entered it boldly. There was no one
within: in one corner of it was a barn full of hay, and against the door
of it a ladder placed. After looking around, Renzo ascended the ladder,
settled himself for the night, and slept profoundly until the break of
day. When he awoke, he descended the ladder very cautiously, and
proceeded on his way, taking the dome of the cathedral for his polar
star. He soon arrived before the walls of Milan near the eastern gate.



CHAPTER XXXIII.


Renzo had heard vague mention made of severe orders, forbidding the
entrance of strangers into Milan, without a certificate of health; but
these were easily evaded, for Milan had reached a point when such
prohibition was useless, even if it could have been put into execution.
Whoever ventured there, might rather appear careless of his own life,
than dangerous to that of others.

With this conviction, Renzo's design was to attempt a passage at the
first gate, and in case of difficulty to wander on the outside of the
walls until he should find one easy of access. It would be difficult to
say how many gates he thought Milan had.

When he arrived before the ramparts, he looked around him; there was no
indication of living being, except on a point of the platform, a thick
cloud of dense smoke arising; this was occasioned by clothing, beds, and
infected furniture, which were committed to the flames; every where
along the ramparts appeared the traces of these melancholy
conflagrations.

The weather was close, the air heavy, the sky covered by a thick cloud,
or fog, which excluded the sun, without promising rain. The surrounding
country was neglected and sterile; all verdure extinct, and not a drop
of dew on the dry and withering leaves. The depth, solitude, and
silence, so near a large city, increased the gloom of Renzo's thoughts;
he proceeded, without being aware of it, to the gate _Nuova_, which had
been hid from his view by a bastion, behind which it was then concealed.
A noise of bells, sounding at intervals, mingled with the voices of men,
saluted his ear; turning an angle of the bastion, he saw before the gate
a sentry-box, and a sentinel leaning on his musket, with a wearied and
careless air. Exactly before the opening was a sad obstacle, a
hand-barrow, upon which two _monatti_ were extending an unfortunate man,
to carry him off; it was the chief of the toll-gatherers, who had just
been attacked by the pestilence. Renzo awaited the departure of the
convoy, and no one appearing to close the gate, he passed forwards
quickly; the sentinel cried out "Holla!" Renzo stopping, showed him a
half ducat, which he drew from his pocket; whether he had had the
pestilence, or that he feared it less than he loved ducats, he signed to
Renzo to throw it to him; seeing it at his feet, he cried, "Go in,
quickly," a permission of which Renzo readily availed himself. He had
hardly advanced forty paces when a toll-collector called to him to stop.
He pretended not to hear, and passed on. The call was repeated, but in a
tone more of anger than of resolution to be obeyed--and this being
equally unheeded, the collector shrugged his shoulders and turned back
to his room.

Renzo proceeded through the long street opposite the gate which leads to
the canal _Naviglio_, and had advanced some distance into the city
without encountering a single individual; at last he saw a man coming
towards him, from whom he hoped he might gain some information; he moved
towards him, but the man showed signs of alarm at his approach. Renzo,
when he was at a little distance, took off his hat, like a polite
mountaineer as he was, but the man drew back, and raising a knotty club,
armed with a spike, he cried, "Off! off! off!" "Oh! oh!" cried Renzo; he
put on his hat, and having no desire for a greeting of this fashion, he
turned his back on the discourteous passenger and went on his way.

The citizen retired in an opposite direction, shuddering and looking
back in alarm: when he reached home he related how a poisoner had met
him with humble and polite manners, but with the air of an infamous
impostor, and with a phial of poison or the box of powder (he did not
know exactly which) in the lining of his hat, to poison him, if he had
not kept him at a distance. "It was unlucky," said he, "that we were in
so private a street; if it had been in the midst of Milan, I would have
called the people, and he would have been seized: but alone, it was
enough to have saved myself--but who knows what destruction he may not
already have effected in the city:"--and years after, when the
poisoners were talked of, the poor man maintained the truth of the fact,
as "he had had ocular proof."

Renzo was far from suspecting the danger he had escaped; and, reflecting
on this reception, he was more angry than fearful. "This is a bad
beginning," thought he; "my star always seems unpropitious when I enter
Milan. To enter is easy enough, but, once here, misfortunes thicken.
However--by the help of God--if I find--if I succeed in finding--all
will be well."

The streets were silent and deserted; no human being could he see; a
single disfigured corpse met his eye in the channel between the street
and the houses. Suddenly he heard a cry, which appeared addressed to
him; and he perceived, not far off, on the balcony of a house, a woman,
surrounded by a group of children, making a sign to him to approach. As
he did so, "O good young man!" said she, "do me the kindness to go to
the commissary, and tell him that we are forgotten here. They have
nailed up the house as suspected, because my poor husband is dead; and
since yesterday morning no one has brought us any thing to eat, and
these poor innocents are dying of hunger."

"Of hunger!" cried Renzo. "Here, here," said he, drawing the two loaves
from his pocket. "Lower something in which I may put them."

"God reward you! wait a moment," said the woman, as she went in search
of a basket and cord to suspend it.

"As to the commissary, my good woman," said he, putting the loaves in
the basket, "I cannot serve you, because, to tell truth, I am a stranger
in Milan, and know nothing of the place. However, if I meet any one a
little humane and tractable, to whom I can speak, I will tell him."

The woman begged him to do so, and gave him the name of the street in
which she lived.

"You can also render me a service, without its costing you any thing,"
said Renzo. "Can you tell me where there is a nobleman's house in Milan,
named ***?"

"I know there is a house of that name, but I do not know where it is.
Further on in the city you will probably find some one to direct you.
And remember to speak of us."

"Do not doubt me," said Renzo, as he passed on.

As he advanced, he heard increasing a sound that had already attracted
his attention, whilst stopping to converse with the poor woman; a sound
of wheels and horses' feet, with the noise of little bells, and
occasionally the cracking of whips and loud cries.

As he reached the square of San Marco, the first objects he saw were two
beams erected, with a cord and pulleys. He recognised the horrible
instrument of torture! These were placed on all the squares and widest
streets, so that the deputies of each quarter of the city, furnished
with the most arbitrary power, could subject to them whoever quitted a
condemned house, or neglected the ordinances, or by any other act
appeared to merit the punishment; it was one of those extreme and
inefficacious remedies, which, at this epoch, were so absurdly
authorised. Now, whilst Renzo was gazing at this machine, he heard the
sounds increasing, and beheld a man appear, ringing a little bell; it
was an _apparitore_, and behind him came two horses, who advanced with
difficulty, dragging a car loaded with dead; after this car came
another, and another, and another; _monatti_ walked by the side of the
horses, urging them on with their whips and with oaths. The bodies were
for the most part naked; some were half covered with rags, and heaped
one upon another; at each jolt of the wretched vehicles, heads were seen
hanging over, the long tresses of women were displayed, arms were
loosened and striking against the wheels, thrilling the soul of the
spectator with indescribable horror!

The youth stopped at a corner of the square to pray for the unknown
dead. A frightful thought passed over his mind. "There, perhaps, there,
with them--O God! avert this misfortune! let me not think of it!"

The funeral convoy having passed on, he crossed the square, and reached
the Borgo Nuovo by the bridge Marcellino. He perceived a priest standing
before a half-open door, in an attitude of attention, as if he were
confessing some one. "Here," said he, "is my man. If a priest, and in
the discharge of his duty, has no benevolence, there is none left in the
world who has." When he was at a few paces distance from him, he took
off his hat, and made a sign that he wished to speak with him, keeping,
however, at a discreet distance, so as not to alarm the good man
unnecessarily. Renzo having made his request, was directed to the hotel.
"May God watch over you now and for ever!" said Renzo, "and," added he,
"I would ask another favour." And he mentioned the poor forgotten woman.
The worthy man thanked him for affording him the opportunity to bestow
help where it was so greatly needed, and bade him farewell.

Renzo found it difficult enough to recollect the various turnings
pointed out by the priest, disturbed as his mind was by apprehensions
for the issue of his enquiries. An end was about to be put to his doubts
and fears; he was to be told, "she is living," or, "she is dead!" This
idea took such powerful possession of his mind, that at this moment, he
would rather have remained in his former ignorance, and have been at the
commencement of the journey, to the end of which he so nearly
approached. He gathered courage, however. "Ah!" cried he, "if I play the
child now, how will it end!" Plunging therefore into the heart of the
city, he soon reached one of its most desolated quarters, that which is
called the _Carrobio di Porta Nuova_. The fury of the contagion here,
and the infection from the scattered bodies, had been so great, that
those who had survived had been obliged to fly: so that, whilst the
passenger was struck with the aspect of solitude and death, his senses
were painfully affected by the traces of recent life. Renzo hastened on,
hoping to find an improvement in the scene, before he should arrive at
the end of his journey. In fact, he soon reached what might still be
called the city of the living, but, alas! what living! Every door was
closed from distrust and terror, except such as had been left open by
the flight of the inhabitants, or by the _monatti_; some were nailed on
the outside, because there were within people dead, or dying of the
pestilence; others were marked with a cross, for the purpose of
informing the _monatti_ that their services were required, and much of
this was done more by chance than otherwise; as a commissary of health
happened to be in one spot rather than in another, and chose to enforce
the regulations. On every side were seen infected rags and bandages,
clothes and sheets, which had been thrown from the windows; dead bodies
which had been left in the streets until a car should pass to take them
up, or which had fallen from the cars themselves, or been thrown from
the houses; so much bad the long duration and the violence of the pest
brutalised men's minds, and subdued every spark of human feeling or
sympathy. The customary sounds of human occupation or pleasure had
ceased; and this silence of death was interrupted only by the funeral
cars, the lamentations of the sick, the shrieks of the frantic, or the
vociferations of the _monatti_.

At the break of day, at noon, and at night, a bell of the cathedral gave
the signal for reciting certain prayers, which had been ordered by the
archbishop, and this was followed by the bells of the other churches.
Then persons were seen at the windows, and a confused blending of voices
and groans was heard, which inspired a sorrow, not however unmixed with
consolation. It is probable that at this time not less than two thirds
of the inhabitants had died, and of the remainder many were sick or had
left the city. Every one you met exhibited signs of the dreadful
calamity. The usual dress was changed of every order of persons. The
cloak of the gentleman, the robe of the priest, the cowl of the monk, in
short, every loose appendage of dress that might occasion contact, was
carefully dismissed; every thing was as close on the person as possible.
Men's beards and hair were alike neglected, from fear of treachery on
the part of the barbers. Every man walked with a stick, or even a
pistol, to prevent the approach of others. Equal care was shown in
keeping the middle of the street to avoid what might be thrown from
windows, and in avoiding the noxious matters in the road. But if the
aspect of the uninfected was appalling, how shall we describe the
condition of the wretched sick in the street, tottering or falling to
rise no more--beggars, children, women.

Renzo had travelled far on his way, through the midst of this
desolation, when he heard a confused noise, in which was distinguishable
the horrible and accustomed tinkling of bells.

At the entrance of one of the most spacious streets, he perceived four
cars standing; _monatti_ were seen entering houses, coming forth with
burthens on their shoulders, and laying them on the cars; some were
clothed in their red dress, others without any distinctive mark, but the
greater number with a mark, more revolting still than their customary
dress,--plumes of various colours, which they wore with an air of
triumph in the midst of the public mourning, and whilst people from the
different windows around were calling to them to remove the dead. Renzo
avoided, as much as possible, the view of the horrid spectacle; but his
attention was soon attracted by an object of singular interest; a
female, whose aspect won the regards of every beholder, came out of one
of the houses, and approached the cars. In her features was seen beauty,
veiled and clouded, but not destroyed, by the mortal debility which
seemed to oppress her; the soft and majestic beauty which shines in the
Lombard blood. Her step was feeble, but decided; she wept not, although
there were traces of tears on her countenance. There was a tranquillity
and profundity in her grief, which absorbed all her powers. But it was
not _her_ appearance alone which excited compassion in hearts nearly
closed to every human feeling; she held in her arms a young girl about
nine years of age, dead, but dressed with careful precision; her hair
divided smoothly on her pale forehead, and clothed in a robe of the
purest white. She was not lying, but was seated, on the arm of the lady,
her head leaning on her shoulder; you would have thought she breathed,
if a little white hand had not hung down with inanimate weight, and her
head reposed on the shoulder of her mother, with an abandonment more
decided than that of sleep. Of her mother! it was indeed her mother! If
the resemblance of their features had not told it, you would have known
it by the expression of that fair and lovely countenance!

A hideous _monatto_ approached the lady, and with unusual respect
offered to relieve her of her burthen. "No," said she, with an
appearance neither of anger nor disgust, "do not touch her yet; it is I
who must place her on the car. Take this," and she dropped a purse into
the hands of the _monatto_; "promise me not to touch a hair of her head,
nor to let others do it, and bury her thus."

The _monatto_ placed his hand on his heart, and respectfully prepared a
place on the car for the infant dead. The lady, after having kissed her
forehead, placed her on it, as carefully as if it were a couch, spread
over her a white cloth, and took a last look; "Farewell! Cecilia! rest
in peace! To-night we will come to you, and then we shall be separated
no more!" Turning again to the _monatto_, "As you pass to-night," said
she, "you will come for me; and not for me only!"

She returned into the house, and a moment after appeared at a window,
holding in her arms another cherished child, who was still living, but
with the stamp of death on her countenance. She contemplated the
unworthy obsequies of Cecilia, until the car disappeared from her eyes,
and then left the window with her mournful burthen. And what remained
for them, but to die together, as the flower which proudly lifts its
head, falls with the bud, under the desolating scythe which levels every
herb of the field.

"O God!" cried Renzo, "save her! protect her! her and this innocent
creature! they have suffered enough! they have suffered enough!"

He then proceeded on his way, filled with emotions of distress and pity.
Another convoy of wretched victims encountered him at a cross street on
their way to the lazaretto. Some were imploring to be allowed to die on
their own beds in peace; some moving on with imbecile apathy, women as
usual with their little ones, and even some of these supported and
encouraged with manly devotion by their brothers a little older than
themselves, and whom alone the plague had for a time spared for this
affecting office. When the miserable crowd had nearly passed, he
addressed a commissary whose aspect was a little less savage than the
rest; and enquired of him the street and the house of Don Ferrante. He
replied, "The first street to the right, the last hotel to the left."

The young man hastened thither, with new and deeper trouble at his
heart. Easily distinguishing the house, he approached the door, raised
his hand to the knocker, and held it suspended awhile, before he could
summon resolution to knock.

At the sound, a window was half opened, and a female appeared at it,
looking towards the door with a countenance which appeared to ask, "Is
it _monatti_? thieves? or poisoners?"

"Signora," said Renzo, but in a tremulous voice, "is there not here in
service a young villager of the name of Lucy?"

"She is no longer here; begone," replied the woman, about to close the
window.

"A moment, I beseech you. She is no longer here! Where is she?"

"At the lazaretto."

"A moment, for the love of Heaven! With the pestilence?"

"Yes. It is something very uncommon, is it not? Begone then."

"Wait an instant. Was she very ill? Is it long since?"

But this time the window was closed entirely.

"Oh! signora, signora! one word, for charity! Alas! alas! one word!" But
he might as well have talked to the wind.

Afflicted by this intelligence, and vexed with the rude treatment of the
woman, Renzo seized the knocker again, and raised it for the purpose of
striking. In his distress, he turned to look at the neighbouring houses,
with the hope of seeing some one, who would give him more satisfactory
information. But the only person he discovered, was a woman, about
twenty paces off, who, with an appearance of terror, anger, and
impatience, was making signs to some one to approach; and this she did,
as if not wishing to attract Renzo's notice. Perceiving him looking at
her, she shuddered with horror.

"What the devil!" said Renzo, threatening her with his fist, but she,
having lost the hope of his being seized unexpectedly, cried aloud, "A
poisoner! catch him! catch him! stop the poisoner!"

"Who? I! old sorceress! be silent," cried Renzo, as he approached her in
order to compel her to be so. But he soon perceived that it was best to
think of himself, as the cry of the woman had gathered people from every
quarter; not in so great numbers as would have been seen three months
before under similar circumstances, but still many more than one man
could resist. At this moment, the window was again opened, and the same
discourteous woman appeared at it, crying, "Seize him, seize him; he
must be one of the rascals who wander about to poison the doors of
people."

Renzo determined in an instant that it was better to fly than to stop to
justify himself. Rapidly casting his eyes around to see on which side
there were the fewest people, and fighting his way through those that
opposed him, he soon freed himself from their clutches.

The street was deserted before him; but behind him the terrible cry
still resounded, "Seize him! stop him! a poisoner!" It gained on him,
steps were close at his heels. His anger became rage; his agony,
despair; drawing his knife from his pocket, and brandishing it in the
air, he turned, crying aloud, "Let him who dares come here, the rascal,
and I will poison him indeed with this."

But he saw, with astonishment and pleasure, that his persecutors had
already stopped, as if some obstacle opposed their path; and were making
frantic gestures to persons beyond him. Turning again, he beheld a car
approaching, and even a file of cars with, their usual accompaniments.
Beyond them was another little band of people prepared to seize the
poisoner, but prevented by the same obstacle. Seeing himself thus
between two fires, it occurred to Renzo, that _that_ which was an object
of terror to these people, might be to him a source of safety.
Reflecting that this was not a moment for fastidious scruples, he
advanced towards the cars, passed the first, and perceiving in the
second a space large enough to receive him, threw himself into it.

"Bravo! bravo!" cried the _monatti_ with one shout. Some of them were
following the convoy on foot, others were seated on the cars, others on
the dead bodies, drinking from an enormous flagon, which they passed
around. "Bravo! that was well done!"

"You have placed yourself under the protection of the _monatti_; you are
as safe as if you were in a church," said one, who was seated on the car
into which Renzo had thrown himself.

The enemy was obliged to retreat, crying, however, "Seize him! seize
him! he is a poisoner!"

"Let me silence them!" said the _monatto_; and drawing from one of the
dead bodies a dirty rag, he tied it up in a bundle, and made a gesture
as if intending to throw it among them, crying, "Here, rascals!" At the
sight, all fled away in horror!

A howl of triumph arose from the _monatti_.

"Ah! ah! you see we can protect honest people," said the _monatto_ to
Renzo, "one of us is worth a hundred of those cowards."

"I owe my life to you," said Renzo, "and I thank you sincerely."

"'Tis a trifle, a trifle; you deserve it; 'tis plain to be seen you're a
brave fellow; you do well to poison this rabble; extirpate the fools,
who, as a reward for the life we lead, say, that the plague once over,
they will hang us all. They must all be finished, before the plague
ceases; the _monatti_ alone must remain to sing for victory, and to
feast in Milan."

"Life to the pestilence, and death to the rabble!" cried another,
putting the flagon to his mouth, from which he drank freely, and then
offered it to Renzo, saying, "Drink to our health."

"I wish it to you all," said Renzo, "but I am not thirsty, and do not
want to drink now."

"You have been terribly frightened, it seems," said the _monatto_; "you
appear to be a harmless sort of a person; you should have another face
than that for a poisoner."

"Give me a drop," said a _monatto_, who walked by the side of the cars;
"I would drink to the health of the nobleman, who is here in such good
company--in yonder carriage!" And with a malignant laugh he pointed to
the car in which poor Renzo was seated. Then brutally composing his
features to an expression of gravity, he bowed profoundly, saying, "Will
you permit, my dear master, a poor devil of a _monatto_ to taste a
little wine from your cellar? Do now, because we lead rough lives, and
moreover, we are doing you the favour to take you a ride into the
country. And besides, you are not accustomed to wine, and it might harm
your lordship; but the poor _monatti_ have good stomachs."

His companions laughed loudly; he took the flagon, and before he drank,
turned again to Renzo, and with an air of insulting compassion said,
"The devil with whom you have made a compact, must be very young; if we
had not saved you, you would have been none the better for his
assistance."

His companions laughed louder than before, and he applied the flagon to
his lips.

"Leave some for us! some for us!" cried those from the forward car.
After having taken as much as he wanted, he returned the flagon to his
companions, who passed it on; the last of the company having emptied it,
threw it on the pavement, crying, "Long live the pestilence!" Then they
commenced singing a lewd song, in which they were accompanied by all the
voices of the horrible choir. This infernal music, blended with the
tingling of the bells, the noise of the wheels, and of the horses' feet,
resounded in the empty silence of the streets, echoed through the
houses, wringing the hearts of the very few who still inhabited them!

But the danger of the preceding moment had rendered more than tolerable
to Renzo, the company of these wretches and the dead they were about to
inter; and even this music was almost agreeable to his ears, as it
relieved him from the embarrassment of such conversation. He returned
thanks to Providence for having enabled him to escape from his peril,
without receiving or doing an injury; and he prayed God to help him now
to deliver himself from his liberators. He kept on the watch to seize
the first opportunity of quietly quitting the car, without exciting the
opposition of his protectors.

At last they reached the lazaretto. At the appearance of a commissary,
one of the two _monatti_ who were on the car with Renzo jumped to the
ground, in order to speak with him: Renzo hastily quitting the ear, said
to the other, "I thank you for your kindness; God reward you."

"Go, go, poor poisoner," replied he, "it will not be you who will
destroy Milan!"

Fortunately no one heard him. Renzo hastened onwards by the wall,
crossed the bridge, passed the convent of the capuchins, and then
perceived the angle of the lazaretto. In front of the inclosure a
horrible scene presented itself to his view. Arrived in front of the
lazaretto, throngs of sick were pressing into the avenues which led to
the building; some were seated or lying in the ditch, which bordered the
road on either side, their strength not having sufficed to enable them
to reach their asylum, or who, having quitted it in desperation, were
too weak to go further; others wandered by themselves, stupified, and
insensible to their condition; one was quite animated, relating his
imaginations to a miserable companion, who was stretched on the ground,
oppressed by suffering; another was furious from despair; a third, more
horrible still! was singing, in a voice above all the rest, and with
heart-rending hilarity, one of the popular songs of love, gay and
playful, which the Milanese call _villanelle_.

Already weary, and confounded at the view of so much misery concentrated
within so small a space, our poor Renzo reached the gate of the
lazaretto. He crossed the threshold, and stood for a moment motionless
under the portico.



CHAPTER XXXIV.


The reader may imagine the lazaretto, peopled with sixteen thousand
persons infected with the plague: the vast enclosure was encumbered with
cabins, tents, cars, and human beings. Two long ranges of porticoes, to
the right and left, were crowded with the dying or the dead, extended
upon straw; and from the immense receptacle of woe, was heard a deep
murmur, similar to the distant voice of the waves, agitated by a
tempest.

Renzo went forward from hut to hut, carefully examining every
countenance he could discern within--whether broken down by suffering,
distorted by spasm, or fixed in death. Hitherto he met none but men, and
judged, therefore, that the women were distributed in some other part
of, the inclosure. The state of the atmosphere seemed to add to the
horror of the scene: a dense and dark fog involved all things. The disc
of the sun, as if seen through a veil, shed a feeble light in its own
part of the sky, but darted down a heavy deathlike blast of heat: a
confused murmuring of distant thunder might be heard. Not a leaf moved,
not a bird was seen--save the swallow only, which descended to the
plain, and, alarmed at the dismal sounds around, remounted the air, and
disappeared. Nature seemed at war with human existence--hundreds seemed
to grow worse--the last struggle more afflictive--and no hour of
bitterness was comparable to that.

Renzo had, in his search, witnessed, as he thought, every variety of
human suffering. But a new sound caught his ear--a compound of
children's crying and goats' bleating: looking through an opening of the
boards of a hut, he saw children, infants, lying upon sheets or quilts
upon the floor, and nurses attending them; but the most singular part of
the spectacle, was a number of she-goats supplying the maternal
functions, and with all the appearance of conscious sympathy hastening,
at the cries of the helpless little ones, to afford them the requisite
nutrition. The women were aiding these efficient coadjutors, in
rendering their supplies available to the poor bereft babies. Whilst
observing this wretched scene, an old capuchin entered with two infants,
just taken from their lifeless mother, to seek among the flock for one
to supply her place. Quitting this spot, and looking about on every
side, a sudden apparition struck his sight, and set his thoughts in
commotion. He saw at some distance, among the tents, a capuchin, whom he
instantly recognised to be Father Christopher!

The history of the good friar, from the moment in which we lost sight of
him until this meeting, may be related in few words. He had not stirred
from Rimini, and he would not now have thought of doing so if the plague
breaking out at Milan had not afforded him the opportunity, so long
desired, of sacrificing his life for the benefit of others. He demanded,
as a favour, permission to go and assist those who were infected with
the disease. The count, he of the secret council, was dead; and
moreover, at this time, there was a greater want of guardians to the
sick, than of politicians: his request was readily granted. He had now
been in the lazaretto nearly three months.

But the joy of Renzo at seeing the good father was not unalloyed. It was
he indeed; but, alas! how changed! how wan! Exhausted nature appeared to
be sustained for a while by the mind, that had acquired new vigour from
the perpetual demand on its sympathies and activity.

"Oh, Father Christopher!" said Renzo, when he was near enough to speak
to him.

"You here!" said the friar, rising.

"How are you, my father, how are you?"

"Better than these unfortunate beings that you see," replied the friar.
His voice was feeble--hollow and changed as his person. His eye alone
"had not lost its original brightness"--benevolence and charity appeared
to have imparted to it a lustre superior to that which bodily weakness
was gradually extinguishing.

"But you," pursued he, "why are you here? Why do you thus come to brave
the pestilence?"

"I have had it, thank Heaven! I come----in search of----Lucy."

"Lucy! Is Lucy here?"

"Yes. At least I hope so."

"Is she thy wife?"

"My dear father! alas! no, she is not my wife. Do you know nothing,
then, of what has happened?"

"No, my son. Since God removed me from you, I have heard nothing. But
now that he sends you to me, I wish much to know. And your banishment?"

"You know, then, what they did to me?"

"But you, what did _you_ do?"

"My father, if I were to say I was prudent on that day at Milan, I
should tell a falsehood; but I committed no bad action wilfully."

"I believe you; I have always thought so."

"Now then I will tell you all."

"Wait a moment."

He approached a cabin, and called "_Father Victor_."

In a few moments a young capuchin appeared. "Do me the favour, Father
Victor," said he, "to take my place in watching over our poor patients
for a little while. If, however, any should particularly ask for me, be
so good as to call me."

The young friar complied, and Father Christopher, turning to Renzo, "Let
us enter here," said he. "But," added he, "you appear much exhausted,
you have need of food."

"It is true. Now that you make me think of it, I have not tasted any
thing to-day."

"Wait, then, a moment." He soon brought Renzo a bowl of broth, from a
large kettle, the common property of the establishment, and making him
sit down on his bed, the only seat his cabin afforded, and placing some
wine on a little table by his side, he seated himself next him. "Now
tell me about my poor child," said he, "and be in haste, for time is
precious, and I have much to do, as you perceive."

Renzo related the history of Lucy; that she had been sheltered in the
convent of Monza, and carried off from her asylum. At the idea of such
treatment and peril, and at the thought, too, that it was he who had
unwittingly exposed her to it, the good friar was breathless with
attention; but he recovered his tranquillity when he heard of her
miraculous deliverance, her restoration to her mother, and her having
been placed under the protection of Donna Prassede.

Renzo then briefly related his journey to Milan, his flight, and his
return home; that he had not found Agnes there; and at Milan had learned
that Lucy was in the lazaretto. "And I am here," concluded he, "I am
here in search of her; to see if she yet lives, and if----she still
thinks of me----because----sometimes----"

"But what direction did they give you? Did they tell you where she was
placed when she came here?"

"I know nothing, dear father, nothing; only that she is here, if she
still lives, which may God grant!"

"Oh, poor child! But what have you done here until now?"

"I have searched, and searched, but have seen hardly any but men. I
think the females must be in another part by themselves; you can tell me
if this is the case?"

"Know you not that it is forbidden to men to enter there unless their
duty calls them?"

"Oh, well! what can happen to me if I should attempt?"

"The law is a good one, my dear son; and if our weight of affliction
does not permit us to enforce it, is that a reason why an honest man
should infringe it?"

"But, Father Christopher, Lucy should have been my wife; you know how we
have been separated; it is twenty months since I have suffered, and
taken my misfortunes patiently; I have come here, risking every thing to
behold her, and now----"

"I know not what to say," resumed the friar; "you are, no doubt, guided
by a praiseworthy motive; would to God that all those who have free
access to these places conducted themselves as well as I am sure you
will. God, who certainly blesses thy perseverance of affection, thy
fidelity in desiring and seeking her whom he has given thee, God, who is
more rigorous than man, but also more indulgent, will not regard what
may be irregular in this enquiry for one so dear."

So saying, he arose, and Renzo followed him. While listening to him, he
had been confirmed in his resolution not to acquaint the father with
Lucy's vow. "If he learns that," thought he, "he will certainly raise
new difficulties. Either I shall find her, and we can then disclose,
or----and then----what use would it be?"

After having conducted him to the opening of the cabin, towards the
north, "From yonder little temple," said he, "rising above the miserable
tents, Father Felix is about to lead in procession the small remnant who
are convalescent, to another station, to finish their quarantine. Avoid
notice, but watch them as they pass. If she is not of the number, this
side," added he, pointing to the edifice before them, "this side of the
building and a part of the field before it are assigned to the women.
You will perceive a railing which divides that quarter from this, but so
broken, in many places, that you can easily pass through. Once there, if
you do nothing to offend, probably no one will speak to you. If,
however, there is any difficulty, say that Father Christopher knows you,
and will answer for you. Seek her, then, seek her with confidence--and
with resignation; for remember, it is an unusual expectation, a person
alive within the walls of the lazaretto! Go, then, and be prepared for
whatever result----"

"Yes, I understand!" said Renzo, a dark cloud overshadowing his
countenance; "I understand, I will seek in every place, from one end of
the lazaretto to the other----And if I do not find her!"

"If you do not find her?" repeated the father, in a serious and
admonitory tone.

But Renzo, giving vent to the wrath which had been for some time pent up
in his bosom, pursued, "If I do not find her, I will find _another_
person. Either at Milan, or in his abominable palace, or at the end of
the world, or in the house of the devil, I will find the villain who
separated us; but for whom Lucy would have been mine twenty months ago;
and if we had been destined to die, at least we should have died
together. If he still lives, I will find him----"

"Renzo!" said the friar, seizing him by the arm, and looking at him
severely.

"And if I find him," continued Renzo, entirely blinded by rage, "if the
pestilence has not already done justice--the time is past when a
poltroon, surrounded by bravoes, can reduce men to despair, and laugh at
them! the time is come when men meet face to face, and I will do myself
justice."

"Unhappy youth!" cried Father Christopher, with a voice which had
suddenly become strong and sonorous, his head raised, and eyes darting
forth more than their wonted fire; "unhappy youth! look around you!
Behold who punishes and who judges; who punishes and pardons! But you,
feeble worm, you would do yourself justice! Do you know what justice is?
Unhappy youth! begone! I hoped----yes, I hoped that before I died, God
would afford me the consolation to learn that my poor Lucy still lived;
to see her, perhaps, and to hear her promise that she would send a
prayer to yonder grave where I shall rest. Begone, you have taken away
my hope. God has not left her on the earth for thee, and you certainly
have not the audacity to believe yourself worthy that God should think
of consoling you. Go, I have no time to listen to you farther." And he
dropped the arm of Renzo, which he had grasped, and moved towards a
cabin.

"Oh, my father!" said Renzo, following him with a supplicating look,
"will you send me away thus?"

"How!" resumed the capuchin, but in a gentler tone, "would you dare ask
me to steal the time from these poor afflicted ones, who are expecting
me to speak to them of the pardon of God, in order to listen to thy
accents of rage--thy projects of vengeance? I listened to you, when you
asked consolation and advice, but now that you have revenge in your
heart, what do you want with me? Begone, I have listened to the
forgiveness of the injured, and the repentance of the aggressor; I have
wept with both; but what have I to do with thee?"

"Oh, I pardon him! I pardon him! I pardon him for ever!" said the young
man.

"Renzo," said the friar, in a calmer tone, "think of it, and tell me how
often you have pardoned him?"

He kept silence some time, and not receiving an answer, he bowed his
head, and, with a voice trembling from emotion, continued, "You know why
I wear this habit?"

Renzo hesitated.

"You know it?" repeated the old man.

"I know it."

"I likewise hated, I, who have reprimanded you for a thought, a word.
The man I hated, I killed."

"Yes, but it was a noble, one of those----"

"Silence!" interrupted the friar. "If that were justification, believe
you I should not have found it in thirty years? Ah! if I could now make
you experience the sentiment I have since had, and that I now have for
the man I hated! If _I_ could _I_!--but God can. May he do it! Hear me,
Renzo. He is a better friend to you, than you are to yourself; you have
thought of revenge, but He has power enough, pity enough, to prevent it;
you know you have often said that he can arrest the arm of the powerful;
but learn, also, that he can arrest that of the vindictive. And because
you are poor, because you are injured, can he not defend against you a
man created in his image? Will he suffer you to do all you wish? No! but
he can cast you off for ever; he can, for this sentiment which animates
you, embitter your whole life, since, whatever happens to you, hold for
certain, that all will be punishment until you have pardoned, pardoned
freely and for ever!"

"Yes, yes," said Renzo, with much emotion, "I feel that I have never
truly pardoned him; I have spoken as a brute and not as a Christian; and
now, by the help of God, I pardon him from the bottom of my soul."

"And should you see him?"

"I would pray God to grant me patience, and to touch his heart."

"Do you remember that the Lord has not only told us to pardon our
enemies, but to love them? Do you remember that he loved them so as to
die for them?"

"Yes, I do."

"Well, come and behold him. You have said you would find him; you shall
do so; come, and you will see against whom you preserve hatred, to whom
you desire evil, against what life you would arm yourself!"

He took the hand of Renzo, who followed him, without daring to ask a
question. The friar led the way into one of the cabins. The first object
Renzo beheld was a sick person seated on a bed of straw, who appeared to
be convalescent. On seeing the father, he shook his head, as if to say
_No_. The father bowed his with an air of sorrow and resignation. Renzo,
meanwhile, gazing with uneasy curiosity around the cabin, beheld in the
corner of it a sick person lying on a feather bed, wrapped up in a
sheet, and covered with a cloak. Looking attentively, he recognised Don
Roderick! The unfortunate man lay motionless; his eyes wide open, but
without any cognisance of the objects around him; the stamp of death was
on his face, which was covered with black spots; his lips were swollen
and black: you would have thought it the face of the dead, if a violent
contraction about the mouth had not revealed a tenacity of life; his
respiration was painful, and his livid hand, extending on the outside of
the covering, was firmly grasping his cloak, and pressing it upon his
heart, as if conscious that _there_ was his deepest agony.

"Behold!" said the friar, in a low solemn voice; "the sentiment you hold
towards this man, who has offended you, such will God hold towards you
on the great day. Bless him, and be blessed! For four days he has been
here in this condition, without giving any sign of perception. Perhaps
the Lord is disposed to grant him an hour of repentance, but he would
have you pray for it; perhaps he desires that you should pray for him
with this innocent girl; perhaps he reserves this favour for thy prayer
alone, for the prayer of an afflicted and resigned heart. Perhaps the
salvation of this man and thine own depend at this moment upon thyself,
upon thy pity, upon thy love." He kept silence, and clasping his hands,
bowed his head as in prayer, and Renzo, completely subdued, followed his
example. Their supplications were interrupted in a short time by the
striking of a bell: they immediately arose and left the cabin.

"The procession is about to move," said the father; "go then, prepared
to make a sacrifice, to praise God, whatever may be the issue of your
search; and whatever that may be, return to me, and we will praise him
together."

Here they separated; the one to resume his painful duties, the other to
the little temple, which was close at hand.



CHAPTER XXXV.


Who would have told Renzo some moments before, that at the very time of
his greatest suspense and anxiety, his heart should be divided between
Lucy and Don Roderick? And nevertheless it was so. The thought of him
mingled itself with all the bright or painful images which hope or fear
called up as he proceeded. The words the friar had uttered by that bed
of pain, blended themselves with the cruel uncertainty of his soul. He
could not utter a prayer, for the happy issue of his present
undertaking, without adding to it one for the miserable object of his
former resentment and revenge.

He saw the Father Felix on the portico of the church, and by his
attitude comprehended that the holy man was addressing the assembled
convalescents. He placed himself where he could overlook the audience.
In the midst were the women, covered with veils; Renzo gazed at them
intently, but finding that, from the place where he stood, it would be a
vain scrutiny, he directed his attention to the father. He was touched
by his venerable figure; and listened with all the attention his own
solicitude would allow, to the reverend speaker, who thus proceeded in
his affecting address:--

"Let us think for a moment," said he, "of the thousands who have gone
forth thither," pointing to a gate behind him, leading to the burying
ground of San Gregory, which was then but one mighty grave. "Let us look
at the thousands who remain here, uncertain of their destiny; let us
also look at ourselves! May the Lord be praised! praised in his justice!
praised in his mercy! praised in death! praised in life! praised in the
choice he has made of us! Oh! why has he done it, my children, if not to
preserve a people corrected by affliction, and animated by gratitude?
That we may be deeply sensible that life is his gift, that we may value
it accordingly, and employ it in works which he will approve? That the
remembrance of our sufferings may render us compassionate, and actively
benevolent to others. May those with whom we have suffered, hoped, and
feared, and among whom we leave friends and kindred, may they as we pass
amidst them derive edification from our deportment! May God preserve us
from any exhibition of self-congratulation, or carnal joy, at escaping
that death against which they are still struggling! May they see us
depart, rendering thanks to Heaven for ourselves, and praying for them;
that they may say, _Even beyond these walls they will remember us, they
will continue to pray for us!_ Let us begin from this moment, from the
first step we shall take into the world, a life of charity! Let those
who have regained their former strength, lend a fraternal arm to the
feeble; let the young sustain the old; let those who are left without
children become parents to the orphan, and thus your sorrows will be
softened, and your lives will be acceptable to God!"

Here a deep murmur of sighs and sobs, which had been increasing in the
assembly, was suddenly suspended, on seeing the friar place a cord
around his neck and fall on his knees. All was intense attention and
profound silence.

"For myself," said he, "and for all my companions, who have been chosen
to the high privilege of serving Christ in you, I humbly ask your
forgiveness if we have not worthily fulfilled so great a ministry. If
indolence, or the waywardness of the flesh, has rendered us less
attentive to your wants, less prompt to your call than duty demanded;
if unjust impatience, or culpable disgust, have caused us sometimes to
appear severe and wearied in your presence; if, indeed, the miserable
thought that you had need of us, has led us to be deficient in humility
towards you; if our frailty has made us commit any action which may have
given you pain, pardon us! May God remit also your offences, and bless
you!"

We have here related, if not the very words, at least the sense of that
which he uttered; but we cannot describe the accent which accompanied
them. It was that of a man who called it a privilege to serve the
afflicted, because he really considered it such; who confessed not to
have worthily exercised this privilege, because he truly felt his
deficiency; who asked pardon, because he was persuaded he had need of
it. But his hearers, who had beheld these capuchins only occupied in
serving them, who had beheld so many of them die in the service, and he
who now spoke in the name of all, always the first in toil as he was the
first in authority, his hearers could only answer him with tears. The
good friar then took a cross which rested against a pillar, and holding
it up before him, took off his sandals, passing through the crowd, which
opened respectfully to give him a passage, and placed himself at their
head.

Renzo, overcome with emotion, drew on one side, and placed himself near
a cabin, where, half concealed, he awaited, with his eyes open, his
heart palpitating, but with renewed confidence, the result of the
emotion excited by the touching scene of which he had been a witness.

Father Felix proceeded barefooted at the head of the procession, with
the cord about his neck, bearing that long and heavy cross; he advanced
slowly but resolutely, as one who would spare the weakness of others,
but whose ideas of duty enabled him to rise above his own. The largest
children followed immediately behind him, for the most part barefooted,
and very few entirely clothed; then came the women, nearly all of them
leading a child, and singing alternately the _miserere_. The feeble
sound of the voices, the paleness and languor of the countenances, would
have excited commiseration in the heart of a mere spectator. But Renzo
was occupied with his own peculiar anxieties; the slow progress of the
procession enabled him to scan with ease every face as it passed. He
looked and looked again, and always in vain! His eye wandered from rank
to rank, from face to face--they came, they passed--in vain, in
vain--none but unknown features! A new ray of hope dawned upon his mind
as he beheld some cars approaching, in which were the convalescents who
were still too feeble to support the fatigue of walking. They approached
so slowly that Renzo had full leisure to examine each in turn. But he
was again disappointed; the cars had all passed, and Father Michael,
with his staff in his hand, brought up the rear as regulator of the
procession.

Thus nearly vanished his hopes, and with them his resolution. His only
ground of hope now was to find Lucy still under the power of the
disease; to this sad and feeble hope, he clung with all the ardour of
his nature. He fell on his knees at the last step of the temple, and
breathed forth an unconnected, but fervent prayer; he arose,
strengthened in hope; and passing the railing pointed out by the father,
entered into the quarter allotted to the women. As he entered it, he saw
on the ground one of the little bells that the _monatti_ carried on
their feet, with its leather straps attached to it. Thinking it might
serve him as a passport, he tied it to his foot, and then began his
painful search. Here new scenes of sorrow met his eye, similar in part
to those he had already witnessed, partly dissimilar. Under the weight
of the same calamity, he discerned a more patient endurance of pain, and
a greater sensibility to the afflictions of others; they to whom bodily
suffering is a lot and an inheritance, acquire from it fortitude to bear
their own woes, and sympathy to bestow on the woes of others.

Renzo had proceeded some distance on his search, when he heard behind
him a "Ho!" which appeared to be addressed to him. Turning, he saw at a
distance a commissary, who cried, "Go there into those rooms; they want
you there; they have not finished carrying all off."

Renzo perceived that he took him for a _monatto_, and that the little
bell had caused the mistake. He determined to extricate himself from it
as soon as he could. Making a sign of obedience, he hid himself from the
commissary, by passing between two cabins which were very near each
other.

As he stooped to unloose the strap of the little bell, he rested his
head against the straw wall of one of the cabins; a voice reached his
ear. O Heaven! is it possible? His whole soul was in his ear, he
scarcely breathed. Yes! yes! it was that voice! "Fear of what?" said
that gentle voice; "we have passed through worse dangers than a tempest.
He who has watched over us until now, will still continue to do so."

Renzo scarcely breathed, his knees trembled, his sight became dim; with
a great effort recovering his faculties, he went to the door of the
cabin, and beheld her who had spoken! She was standing, leaning over a
bed; she turned at the sound of his steps, and gazed for a moment
bewildered; at last she exclaimed, "Oh! blessed Lord!"

"Lucy! I have found you again! I have found you again! It is, indeed,
you! You live!" cried Renzo, advancing with trembling steps.

"Oh! blessed Lord!" cried Lucy, greatly agitated; "is it indeed you?
How? Why? the pestilence----"

"I have had it. And you?"

"Yes. I have had it also. And my mother?"

"I have not seen her yet; she is at Pasturo. I believe, however, that
she is well. But you are still suffering! how feeble you appear! you are
cured, however; you are, is it not so?"

"The Lord has seen fit to leave me a little longer here below," said
Lucy. "But, Renzo! why are you here?"

"Why?" said Renzo, approaching her, "do you ask me why I am here? Must I
tell you? Whom do I think of then? Am I not Renzo? Are you no longer
Lucy?"

"Oh! why speak thus! Did not my mother write to you?"

"Yes! she wrote to me! kind things, truly, to write to a poor
unfortunate man, an exile from his native land, one, at least, who never
injured you!"

"But Renzo! Renzo! since you knew--why come, why?"

"Why come! O Lucy! why come, do you say! After so many promises! Are we
no longer the same! Is all forgotten?"

"O God!" cried Lucy, sorrowfully clasping her hands, and raising her
eyes to heaven; "why didst thou not take me to thyself! O Renzo! what
have you done! Alas! I hoped----that with time----I should have driven
from my memory----"

"A kind hope indeed! and to say so to me!"

"Oh! what have you done! in this place! in the midst of these sorrows!
Here, where there is nothing but death, you have dared----"

"We must pray to God for those who die, and trust that they will be
happy; but their calamity is no reason why those who live must live in
despair----"

"But Renzo! Renzo! you know not what you say; a promise to the Virgin! a
vow!"

"I tell you, such promises are good for nothing."

"Oh! where have you been all this time? with whom have you associated,
that you speak thus?"

"I speak as a good Christian. I think better of the Virgin than you do,
because I do not believe vows to the injury of others are acceptable to
her. If the Virgin had spoken herself, oh! then indeed----but it is
simply an idea of your own!"

"No, no, you know not what you say; you know not what it is to make a
vow! Leave me, leave me, for the love of Heaven!"

"Lucy!" said Renzo, "tell me at least, tell me, if this reason did not
exist----would you feel the same towards me?"

"Unfeeling man!" said Lucy, with difficulty restraining her tears;
"would it satisfy you to hear me confess that which might be sinful, and
would certainly be useless! Leave me, oh! leave me! forget me! we were
not destined for each other. We shall meet again above; we have not
long to remain in the world. Go! tell my mother that I am cured, that
even here God has assisted me, that I have found a good soul, this
worthy woman who has been a mother to me; tell her we shall meet _when_
it is the will of God, and _as_ it is his will. Go! for the love of
Heaven! and remember me no more----except when you pray to God!"

And as if wishing to withdraw from the temptation to prolong the
conversation, she drew near the bed where the female was lying of whom
she had spoken.

"Hear me, Lucy, hear me!" said Renzo, without however approaching her.

"No, no; go away! for charity!"

"Hear me, Father Christopher----"

"How!"

"He is here."

"Here! where? how do you know?"

"I have just spoken with him; a man like him it appears to me----"

"He is here! to assist the afflicted, no doubt. Has he had the plague?"

"Ah! Lucy! I fear, I greatly fear----" As Renzo hesitated to utter his
fears, she had unconsciously again approached him, with a look of
anxious enquiry----"I fear he has it now!"

"Oh! poor man! But what do I say? poor man! he is rich, rich in the
favour of God! How is he? Is he confined to his bed? Has he assistance?"

"He is, on the contrary, still assisting others----but if you were to
see him! Alas! there can be no mistake!"

"Oh! is he indeed within these walls?" said Lucy.

"Here, and not far off; hardly farther than from your cottage to
mine----if you remember----"

"Oh! most holy Virgin!"

"Shall I tell you what he said to me? He said I did well to come in
search of you, that God would approve it, and that he would assist me to
find you----Thus, then, you see----"

"If he spoke thus, it was because he did not know--"

"What use would there be in his knowing a mere imagination of your own?
A man of sense, such as he is, never thinks of things of that sort. But
oh! Lucy! Shall I tell you what I have seen?"----And he related his
visit to the cabin.

Lucy, although familiarised in this abode of horrors to spectacles of
wretchedness and despair, was shocked at the recital.

"And at the side of that bed," said Renzo, "if you could have heard the
holy man! He said, that God has perhaps resolved to look in mercy on
this unfortunate--(I can now give him no other name)--that he designs to
subdue him to himself, but that he desires that we should pray together
for him--together! do you understand?"

"Yes, yes, we will pray each, there where the Lord shall place us. He
can unite our prayers."

"But if I tell you his very words----"

"But, Renzo, he does not know----"

"But can you not comprehend, when such a man speaks, it is God who
speaks in him, and that he would not have spoken thus, if it ought not
to be exactly so? And the soul of this unfortunate! I have prayed, and
will pray for him; I have prayed with all my heart, as if he were my
brother. But what, think you, will be his condition in the other world,
if we do not repair some of the evil he has done? If you return to
reason, all will be set in order. That which has been, has been--he has
had his punishment here below----"

"No, Renzo, no! God would not have us do evil that good may come. Leave
to him the care of this unfortunate man; our duty is to pray for him. If
I had died that fatal night, would not God have been able to pardon him?
And if I am not dead, if I have been delivered----"

"And your mother, poor Agnes, who desired so much to see us man and
wife, has she not told you it was a foolish imagination?".

"My mother! think you my mother would advise me to break a vow? Would
you desire that she should? But, Renzo, you are not in your right mind!"

"Oh! you women cannot be made to comprehend reason! Father Christopher
told me to return, and inform him whether I had found you--I will go,
and get his advice----"

"Yes, yes, go to the holy man! Tell him I pray for him, and that I
desire his prayers! But, for the love of Heaven! for your soul's sake,
and for mine, do not return here, to trouble, to----tempt me! Father
Christopher will explain matters to you, and make you return to
yourself; he will set your heart at rest."

"My heart at rest! Oh! don't encourage an idea of that sort! You have,
before now, caused such language to be written to me! and the suffering
it caused me! and now you have the heart to tell it to me! As for me, I
declare to you plainly, that I will never set my heart at rest. Lucy!
you have told me to forget you; forget you! how can I do it? After so
many trials! so many promises! Who have I thought of ever since we
parted? Is it because I have suffered, that you treat me thus? because I
have been unfortunate? because the world has persecuted me? because I
have been so long away from you? because the first moment I was able, I
came to seek you?"

"Oh! holy Virgin!" exclaimed Lucy, as the tears flowed from her eyes,
"come to my help. You have aided me hitherto; aid me now. Since that
night such a moment as this have I never passed."

"Yes, Lucy, you do well to invoke the Virgin. She is the mother of
compassion, and will take no pleasure in our sufferings. But, if this is
an excuse--if I have become odious to you--tell me, speak frankly----"

"For pity, Renzo, for pity, stop--stop. Do not make me die. Go to Father
Christopher; commend me to him. Do not return here--do not return here."

"I go, but think not I will not return. I would return from the end of
the world; yes, I would return!" and he disappeared.

Lucy threw herself on the floor near the bed, upon which she rested her
head, and wept bitterly. The good woman, who had been a silent spectator
of the painful scene, demanded the cause of her anguish and her tears?
But, perhaps, the reader will wish to know something of this benevolent
person: we will satisfy the desire in a few words.

She was a rich tradeswoman, about thirty years of age: she had beheld
her husband and children die of the plague. Attacked by it herself, she
had been brought to the lazaretto, and placed in the cabin with Lucy,
who was just beginning to recover her senses, which had forsaken her
from the commencement of her attack in the house of Don Ferrante. The
humble roof could only accommodate two guests, and there grew up, in
their affliction, a strict and intimate friendship between them. They
derived great consolation from each other's society, and had pledged
themselves not to separate, after quitting the lazaretto. The good
woman, whose wealth was now far more ample than were her desires, wished
to retain Lucy with her as a daughter: the proposition was received with
gratitude, and accepted, on condition of the permission and approval of
Agnes. Lucy had, however, never made known to her the circumstances of
her intended marriage, and her other extraordinary adventures; but now
she related, as distinctly as tears permitted her to do so, her sad
story.

Meanwhile Renzo went in search of Father Christopher: he found him with
no small difficulty, and engaged in administering consolation to a dying
man. The scene was soon closed. The father remained a short time in
silent prayer. He then arose, and seeing Renzo approach, exclaimed,
"Well, my son!"

"She is there; I have found her!"

"In what state?"

"Convalescent, and out of danger."

"God be praised!" said the friar.

"But----" said Renzo, "there is another difficulty!"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that----you know how good this poor girl is; but she is
sometimes a little fanciful. After so many promises, she tells me now
she cannot marry me, because on that night of fear she made a vow to the
Virgin! These things signify nothing, do they? Is it not true that they
are not binding, at least on people such as we are?"

"Is she far from this?"

"Oh no; a few steps beyond the church."

"Wait a moment," said the friar, "and we will go together."

"Will you give her to understand that----?"

"I know not, my son: I must hear what she will say." And they proceeded
to Lucy's cabin.

The clouds were gathering in the heavens, and a tempest coming on. Rapid
lightning, cleaving the increasing darkness, illumined at moments the
long roofs and arcades of the building, and the cupola of the little
church: loud claps of thunder resounded with prolonged echoes through
the heavens. Renzo suppressed his impatience, and accommodated his steps
to the strength of the father, who, exhausted by fatigue, oppressed by
disease, and breathing in pain, could, with difficulty, drag his failing
limbs to the performance of this last act of benevolence.

As they reached the door of the cabin, Renzo stopped, saying, in a
trembling voice, "She is there!" They entered. Lucy arose, and ran
towards the old man, crying--"Oh, what I do see! Oh, Father
Christopher!"

"Well, Lucy! through how much peril has God preserved you! you must be
rejoiced that you have always trusted in Him."

"Ah! yes.--But you, my father! how you are changed! how do you feel?
say, how are you?"

"As God wills, and as, through his grace, I will also," replied the
friar, with a serene countenance. Drawing her aside, he said, "Hear me,
I have but a few moments to spare. Are you disposed to confide in me, as
in times past?"

"Oh, are you not still my father?"

"Well, my child, what is this vow of which Renzo speaks?"

"It is a vow I made to the Virgin never to marry."

"But did you forget that you were bound by a previous promise? God, my
daughter, accepts of offerings from that which is our own. It is the
heart he desires, the will; but you cannot offer the will of another to
whom you had pledged yourself."

"I have done wrong."

"No, poor child, think not so; I believe the holy Virgin has accepted
the intention of your afflicted heart, and has offered it to God for
you. But tell me, did you ask the advice of any one about this matter?"

"I did not deem it a sin, or I would have confessed it, and the little
good one does, one ought not to mention."

"Have you no other motive for preventing the fulfilment of your promise
to Renzo?"

"As to that----for myself----what motive?--no other," replied Lucy, with
a hesitation which implied any thing rather than uncertainty; and a
blush passed over her pale and lovely countenance.

"Do you believe," resumed the old man, "that God has given the church
authority to remit the obligations that man may have contracted to him?"

"Yes, I believe it."

"Learn, then, that the care of souls in this place, being committed to
us, we have the most ample powers from the church; and I can, if you ask
it, free you from the obligation you have contracted by this vow."

"But is it not a sin to repent of a promise made to the Virgin?" said
Lucy, violently agitated by unexpected hope.

"Sin, my child," said the father, "sin, to recur to the church, and to
ask her minister to use the authority which he has received from her,
and which she receives from God! I bless him that he has given me,
unworthy that I am, the power to speak in his name, and to restore to
you your vow. If you ask me to absolve you from it, I shall not hesitate
to do so; and I even hope you will."

"Then--then--I ask it," said Lucy, with a modest confidence.

The friar beckoned to Renzo, who was watching the progress of the
dialogue with the deepest solicitude, to approach, and said aloud to
Lucy, "With the authority I hold from the church, I declare you absolved
from your vow, and liberate you from all the obligations you may have
contracted by it."

The reader may imagine the feelings of Renzo at these words. His eyes
expressed the warmth of his gratitude to him who had uttered them; but
they sought in vain for Lucy's.

"Return in peace and safety to your former attachment," said the father.
"And do you remember, my son, that in giving you this companion, the
church does it not to insure simply your temporal happiness, but to
prepare you both for happiness without end. Thank Heaven that you have
been brought to this state through misery and affliction: your joy will
be the more temperate and durable. If God should grant you children,
bring them up in his fear, and in love to all men--for the rest you
cannot greatly err. And now, Lucy, has Renzo told you whom he has beheld
in this place?"

"Yes, father, he has told me."

"You will pray for him, and for me also, my children. You will remember
your poor friar?" And drawing from his basket a small wooden box,
"Within this box are the remains of the loaf--the first I asked for
charity--the loaf of which you have heard; I leave it to you; show it to
your children; they will come into a wicked world; they will meet the
proud and insolent. Tell them always to forgive, always! every thing,
every thing! And let them pray for the poor friar!"

Lucy took the box from his hands with reverence, and he continued, "Now
tell me what you mean to do here at Milan? and who will conduct you to
your mother?"

"This good lady has been a mother to me," said Lucy; "we shall leave
this place together, and she will provide for all."

"May God bless her!" said the friar, approaching the bed.

"May he bestow his blessing upon you!" said the widow, "for the joy you
have given to the afflicted, although it disappoints my hope of having
Lucy as a companion. But I will accompany her to her village, and
restore her to her mother, and," added she, in a low voice, "I will give
the outfit. I have much wealth, and of those who should have enjoyed it
with me none are left."

"The service will be acceptable to God," said the father, "who has
watched over you both in affliction. Now," added he, turning to Renzo,
"we must begone; I have remained too long already."

"Oh, my father," said Lucy, "shall I see you again? I have recovered
from this dreadful disease, I who am of no use in the world; and
you----"

"It is long since," replied the old man with a serious and gentle tone,
"I asked a great favour from Heaven; that of ending my days in the
service of my fellow-men. If God grants it to me now, all those who love
me should help me to return him thanks. And now give Renzo your
commissions for your mother."

"Tell her all," said Lucy to her betrothed; "tell her I have found here
another mother, and that we will come to her as soon as we possibly
can."

"If you have need of money," said Renzo, "I have here all that you
sent----"

"No, no," said the widow, "I have more than sufficient."

"Farewell, Lucy, and you, too, good signora, till we meet again," said
Renzo, not having words to express his feelings at this moment.

"Who knows whether we shall all meet again?" cried Lucy.

"May God ever watch over you and bless you!" said the friar, as he
quitted the cabin with Renzo.

As night was not far distant, the capuchin offered the young man a
shelter in his humble abode: "I cannot bear you company," said he, "but
you can at least repose yourself, in order to be able to prosecute your
journey."

Renzo, however, felt impatient to be gone; as to the hour or the weather
it might be said that, night or day, rain or shine, heat or cold, were
equally indifferent to him; the friar pressed his hand as he departed,
saying, "If you find, which may God grant! the good Agnes, remember me
to her; tell her, as well as all those who remember Friar Christopher,
to pray for me."

"Oh, dear father, shall we never meet again?"

"Above, I hope. Farewell, farewell!"



CHAPTER XXXVI.


As Renzo passed without the walls of the lazaretto, the rain began to
fall in torrents. Instead of lamenting, he rejoiced at it: he was
delighted with the refreshing air, and with the sound of the falling
drops from the plants and foliage which seemed to have new life imparted
to them; and breathing more freely in this change of nature, he felt
more vividly the change that had occurred in his own destiny.

But much would his enjoyment have been increased, could he have surmised
what would be seen a few days after. This water carried off, washed
away, so to speak, the contagion. If the lazaretto did not restore to
the living all the living it still contained, at least from that day it
received no more into its vast abyss. At the end of a week, shops were
opened, people returned to their houses, quarantine was hardly spoken
of, and there remained of the pestilence but a few scattered traces.

Our traveller proceeded on full of joy, without having thought _where_
or _when_ he should stop for the night; anxious only to go forward to
reach the village, and to proceed immediately to Pasturo in search of
Agnes. In the midst of the reminiscences of the horrors and the dangers
of the day, there was always present the thought, "I have found her! she
is well! she is mine!"

And then again he recalled his doubts, his difficulties, his fears, his
hopes, that had agitated him that eventful morning! He fancied himself
with his hand on the knocker of Don Ferrante's house! And the
unfavourable answer! And then those fools who were about to attack him
in their madness! And the lazaretto, that vast sepulchre! To have
hurried thither to find her, and to have found her! And the procession!
What a moment! And now it appeared nothing to him! And the quarter set
apart for the women! And there, behind that cabin when he least
expected it, that voice! that voice itself! And to see her there! But
then her vow! It exists no longer. And his violent hatred against Don
Roderick, which had augmented his grief, and shed its venom over his
hopes! That also was gone. Indeed, had it not been for his uncertainty
concerning Agnes, his anxiety about Father Christopher, and the
consciousness that the pestilence still existed, his happiness would
have been without alloy.

He arrived at Sesto in the evening; the rain had as yet no appearance of
ceasing. But Renzo did not stop, his only inconvenience was an
extraordinary appetite, which the vicinity of a baker's shop enabled him
to mitigate the violence of. When he passed through Monza it was dark
night; he succeeded, however, in leaving it by the right road; but what
a road! buried between two banks, almost like the bed of a river, it
might then, indeed, have been called a river, or rather, an aqueduct; in
numerous places were deep holes, from which Renzo could with difficulty
extricate himself. But he did as well as he could, without impatience or
regret. He reflected that every step brought him nearer to the end of
his journey; that the rain would cease when God should please; that day
would come in its own time; and that in the mean time the road he had
passed over he should not have to travel again. At the break of day he
found himself near the Adda. It had not ceased raining; there was still
a drizzling shower; the light of the dawn enabled Renzo to see around
him. He was in his own country! Who can express his sensations? Those
mountains, the _Resegone_, the territory of Lecco, appeared to belong to
him, to be his own! But, looking at himself, he felt that his outward
aspect was rather at variance with the exuberant joyousness of his
heart; his clothes were wet and clinging to his body, his hat bent out
of shape and full of water; his hair hanging straight about his face;
while his lower man was encased in a dense covering of mud.

He reached Pescate; travelled along the Adda, giving a melancholy glance
at Pescarenico; passed the bridge, and crossed the fields, to the house
of his friend, who, just risen, was at the door, looking out upon the
weather. He beheld the strange figure, covered with mud, and wet to the
skin, and yet, so joyous and animated! in his life he had never seen a
man, so accoutred, appear so satisfied with himself.

"How!" said he, "already here! and in such weather! How have things gone
with you?"

"She is there! she is there! she is there!"

"Well and safe?"

"Convalescent, which is better! I have wonderful things to tell you."

"But what a state you are in!"

"A pretty pickle indeed!"

"In truth you might squeeze water enough from your upper half to wash
away the mud from the lower. But wait a moment; I will make a fire."

"I shall be glad to feel its warmth, I assure you. Do you know where the
rain overtook me? Precisely at the door of the lazaretto; but no matter,
the weather does its business, and I mine."

His friend soon kindled a bright blaze. "Now do me another favour," said
Renzo, "bring me the bundle I left above; for before my clothes dry----"

Returning with the bundle, his friend said, "You must be hungry; you
have had drink enough, no doubt, on the way, but as to eating----"

"I bought two loaves yesterday at dusk, but truly, I have not eaten
them."

"Well, I will provide for you." He poured some water in a kettle which
hung over the fire, adding, "I will go and milk the cow, and when I
return with the milk, the water will be ready, and we will have a good
_polenta_. You, in the mean while, change your clothes." After having
allowed him time to perform the troublesome operation, his friend
returned, and commenced making the _polenta_. "I have much to tell you,"
said Renzo. "If you were to see Milan! and the lazaretto! She is there!
you will soon see her here; she will be my wife; you shall be at the
wedding, and, pestilence or not, we will be happy for a few hours."

On the following morning Renzo set out for Pasturo. On his arrival, he
asked concerning Agnes, and learnt that she was in health and safety. He
approached her residence, which had been pointed out to him, and called
her by name from the street. At the sound of his voice, she rushed to
the window, and Renzo, without allowing her time to speak, cried, "Lucy
is well; I saw her the day before yesterday; she will be at home
shortly; oh, I have so many things to tell you."

Overcome by various emotions, Agnes could only articulate, "I will open
the door for you."

"Stop, stop," said Renzo. "You have not had the plague, I believe?"

"No. Have you?"

"Yes; but you ought to be prudent. I come from Milan; and have been for
two days in the midst of it. It is true I have changed my clothes, but
the contagion attaches itself to the flesh, like witchcraft; and since
God has preserved you until now, you must take care of yourself until
all danger is over; for you are our mother, and I trust we shall live
long together as a compensation for the sufferings we have endured, _I_
at least."

"But----"

"There is no longer any _but_; I know what you would say. You will soon
see there is no longer any _but_; come into the open air, where I may
speak to you in safety, and I will tell you all about it."

Agnes pointed to a garden adjoining the house. Renzo entered it, and was
immediately joined by the anxious and impatient Agnes. They seated
themselves opposite each other on two benches. The events he described
are already known to our reader, and we will leave to his imagination
the numerous exclamations of grief, horror, surprise, and joy, that
interrupted the progress of the narrative every moment. The result,
however, was an agreement to settle all together at Bergamo, where Renzo
had already an advantageous engagement; _when_ would depend on the
pestilence and other circumstances; Agnes was to remain where she was,
until it should be safe for her to return home; and in the interval she
should have regular information of all their movements.

He departed, with the additional consolation of having found one so dear
to him safe and well. He remained the rest of that day and the following
night with his friend, and on the morrow set out for the country of his
adoption.

He found Bortolo in good health, and in less apprehension of losing it,
as within a few days things had rapidly changed for the better. The
malignity of the distemper had subsided, and given place to fever
indeed, accompanied with tumours, but much more easily cured. The
country presented a new aspect; those who had survived the pestilence
began to resume their business; masters were preparing for the
employment of workmen in every trade; and, above all, in that of weaving
silk. Renzo made some preparations for the accommodation of his family,
by purchasing and furnishing a neat little cottage, from his hitherto
untouched treasure, which the ravages of the plague enabled him to do at
small cost.

After a few days' stay, he returned by the way of Pasturo, and conducted
Agnes to her village home: we will not attempt to describe her feelings
at beholding again those well remembered places. She found all things in
her cottage as she had left them: it seemed as if angels had watched
over the poor widow and her child. Her first care was to get ready with
all speed an apartment in her humble abode for that kind friend who had
been to her child a second mother. Renzo, on his side, was not idle. He
laboured alternately at the widow's garden, and in the service of his
hospitable friend. As to his own cottage, it pained him to witness the
scene of desolation it presented; and he resolved to dispose of it, and
transfer its value to his new country. His re-appearance in the village
was a cause of much congratulation to those who had survived the plague.
All were anxious to learn his adventures, which had given rise to so
many reports among the neighbours. As to Don Abbondio, he exhibited the
same apprehension of the marriage as before; the mention of which
conjured up to his affrighted fancy the dreaded Don Roderick and his
train on the one side, and the almost equally feared cardinal and his
arguments on the other.

We will now transport the reader for a few moments to Milan. Some days
after the visit of Renzo to the lazaretto, Lucy left it with the good
widow. A general quarantine having been ordered, they passed the period
of it together in the house of the latter. The time was employed in
preparing Lucy's wedding clothes; and, the quarantine terminated, they
set off on their journey. We could add, _they arrived_, but,
notwithstanding our desire to yield to the impatience of the reader,
there are three circumstances which we must not pass over in silence.

The first is, that while Lucy was relating her adventures more minutely
to the good widow, she recurred to the signora, who had afforded her an
asylum, in the convent of Monza, and in return learnt many things which
afforded her the solution to numerous mysteries, and filled her with
sorrow and astonishment. She learnt, too, that the unfortunate signora,
falling afterwards under the most horrible suspicions, had been, by
order of the cardinal, transferred to a convent at Milan; that there,
after having given herself up for a time to rage and despair, she had at
last made her confession and repented of her crimes; and that her
present life was one of severe and voluntary penance. If any one desires
to know the details of her sad history, it will be found in the author
we have so often quoted.[36]

      [36] Ripamonti.

The second is, that Lucy, making enquiries concerning Father
Christopher, of every capuchin from the lazaretto, learnt with more
grief than surprise that he had died of the pestilence.

And the third is, that before quitting Milan, Lucy had a desire to know
something concerning her former patrons. The widow accompanied her to
their house, where they were informed that both had died of the plague.
When we say of Donna Prassede she _died_, we have said all that is
necessary; not so with Don Ferrante, he deserves a little more of our
attention, considering his learning.

From the commencement of the pestilence, Don Ferrante was one of the
most resolute in denying its existence, not indeed like the multitude,
with cries of rage, but with arguments which none could accuse of want
of concatenation. "In _rerum natura_," said he, "there are but two
kinds of things, substances and accidents; and if I prove that the
contagion can neither be one nor the other of these I shall have proved
that it does not exist; that it is a chimera. Thus, then: substances are
either material or spiritual; that the contagion is a spiritual
substance, is so absurd an opinion, that no one would presume to advance
it; it is, then, useless to speak of it. Material substances are either
simple or compound. Now, the contagion is not a simple substance, and I
will prove it in three words. It is not an aerial substance, because, if
it were, instead of passing from one body to another, it would fly off
to its sphere; it is not a watery substance, because it would be dried
up by the wind; it is not igneous, because it would burn; it is not
earthy, because it would be visible. Moreover, it is not a compound
substance, because it would be sensible to the eye, or to the touch; and
who has seen it? or touched it? It remains to see if it be an accident.
This is still less probable. The doctors say it is communicated from
body to body; this is their Achilles; the pretext for so many useless
regulations. Now, supposing it an accident, it would be a transferable
accident, which is an incongruity. There is not in all philosophy a more
evident thing than this, that an accident cannot pass from one subject
to another; so if, to avoid this Scylla, they are reduced to call it an
accident produced, they avoid Scylla by falling into Charybdis, because
if it be produced, it does not communicate itself, it does not
propagate, as they declare. These principles allowed, what is the use of
talking of botches and carbuncles?"

"It is folly," said one of his hearers.

"No, no," resumed Don Ferrante, "I do not say so. Science is science; we
must only know how to employ it. Swellings, purple botches, and black
carbuncles, are respectable terms, which have a good and proper
signification; but I say they have nothing to do with the question. Who
denies that there may be and are such things? We must only prove whence
they come."

Here began the vexations of Don Ferrante. So long as he laughed at the
contagion, he found respectful and attentive listeners; but when he came
to distinguish and demonstrate that the error of the doctors was, not in
affirming that there existed a general and terrible disease, but rather
in assigning its cause, then he found them intractable and rebellious,
then he no longer dared expose his doctrine, but by shreds and patches.

"Here is the true reason," said he, "and those even who maintain other
fancies are obliged to acknowledge it. Let them deny, if they can, that
there is a fatal conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. And when has it been
said that influences propagate? And would these gentlemen deny the
existence of influences? Will they say there are no planets? or will
they say that they keep up above, doing nothing, as so many pins in a
pincushion? But that which I cannot understand from these doctors is,
that they confess we are under so malign a conjunction, and then they
tell us, don't touch this, don't touch that, and you will be safe! as
if, in avoiding the material contact of terrestrial bodies, we could
prevent the virtual effect of celestial bodies. And such a work in
burning rags! Poor people! will you burn Jupiter? will you burn Saturn?"

_His fretus_, that is to say, on these grounds, he took no precautions
against the pestilence; he caught it, and died, like Metastasio's hero,
complaining of the stars.



CHAPTER XXXVII.


One fine evening Agnes heard a carriage drive up to the door of her
cottage. It was Lucy and the good widow. We can easily imagine the joy
of the meeting.

The following morning Renzo made his appearance, at an early hour,
little expecting to find Lucy with her mother. "How are you, Renzo?"
said Lucy, with downcast eyes, and in a tone--oh how different from that
with which she addressed all besides! Renzo was conscious that it was
meant for him alone.

"I am always well when I see you," replied the young man.

"Our poor Father Christopher," said Lucy, "pray for his soul, although
we may be almost sure he is now in heaven, praying for us."

"I expected no less," said Renzo mournfully, "I expected to hear that he
was taken away from this world of sorrow and trouble."

Notwithstanding the sadness of their recollections, joy was the
predominant feeling of their hearts. The good widow was an agreeable
addition to the little company. When Renzo saw her in the miserable
cabin at the lazaretto, he could not have believed her to be of so
facile and gay a disposition; but the lazaretto and the country, death
and a wedding, are not at all the same things. During the evening Renzo
left them, for the purpose of visiting the curate. "Signor Curate," said
he, with a respectful but jocular air, "the headache, which, you said,
prevented you from marrying us, has it passed off? The bride is here,
and I am come to have you appoint an hour, but, I pray you, not to let
it be far distant."

Don Abbondio did not say he would not; but he began to offer excuses and
insinuations. "Why come forward into public view with this order for his
apprehension hanging over him? and the thing could be easily done
elsewhere, and then this, and then that."

"I understand," said Renzo, "you have still a little pain in your head,
but listen to me." And he described the state in which he had seen Don
Roderick.

"That has nothing to do with us," said Don Abbondio. "Did I say no to
you? However, while there is life there is hope, you know. Look at me; I
have also been nearer the other world than this, and here I am
nevertheless; and if new troubles do not fall upon me, I hope to remain
here a little longer."

The conversation was prolonged some time, without coming to any
satisfactory conclusion, and Renzo returned home to relate it. "I came
off," said he, "because I feared I should lose all patience. At times he
behaved exactly as he did before, and I verily believe if I had remained
a little longer, he would have spoken Latin again. I see that all this
portends a tedious business. It would be better to do as he says, and go
and be married where we intend to live."

"Let us go and see what we can do," said the widow, "perhaps he will be
more tractable to the ladies."

They followed this advice, and in the afternoon proceeded to the
parsonage. The curate evinced much pleasure on seeing Lucy and Agnes,
and much politeness towards the stranger. He endeavoured to divert the
discourse from that which he knew to be the purport of their visit. He
begged from Lucy a recital of all her woes, and availed himself of the
account of the lazaretto to draw the stranger into the conversation. He
then expatiated on his own miseries, which he detailed at full length.
The pause so long watched for came at last. One of the widows broke the
ice; but Don Abbondio was no longer the same man; he did not say _no_;
but he returned to his doubts and his difficulties, jumping like a bird
from branch to branch. "It would be necessary," said he, "to get free
from this unlucky order. You, signora, who live at Milan, you ought to
know the course of these things; if we had the protection of some
powerful man, all wounds would be healed. After all, the shortest way
would be to have the ceremony performed where these young people are
going, and where this proscription cannot affect them. Here, with this
order, which is known to every one, to utter from the altar the name of
Lorenzo Tramaglino is a thing I should be very unwilling to do. I wish
him too well; it would be rendering him an ill service."

While Agnes and the widow were endeavouring to reply to these reasons,
which the subtle curate as often reproduced under another form, Renzo
entered the room, with the air of one bringing important intelligence,
"The Lord Marquis *** has arrived!" said he.

"What do you mean? arrived! where?" said Don Abbondio, rising.

"He has arrived at his castle, which was Don Roderick's: he is the heir
by feoffment of trust, as they say. So that there is no longer a doubt
on the subject. And as to the marquis, he is a most worthy man."

"That he is," said Don Abbondio; "I have often heard him spoken of as an
excellent lord. But is it really true that----"

"Will you believe your sexton?"

"Why----"

"Because he saw him with his own eyes. Will you hear Ambrose? I made him
wait without expressly."

Renzo called the sexton, who confirmed the intelligence.

"Ah, he is dead then! he is really gone!" said Don Abbondio. "You see,
my children, the hand of Providence. It is a happy thing for this poor
country: we could not live with this man. The plague has been a great
scourge, but it has also been, as it were, a serviceable broom; it has
swept off certain people, of whom, my children, we could never have
delivered ourselves. In the twinkling of an eye they have disappeared by
the hundred. We shall no longer see him wandering about with that
haughty air, followed by his cut throats, and looking at every body as
if they were all placed on earth for his pleasure. He is gone, and we
are still here! He will send no more messages to honest people. He has
made us all pass a sad life; and now we are at liberty to say so."

"I pardon him," said Renzo, "with all my heart."

"And you do well; it is your duty; but we may also thank Heaven for
delivering us from him. Now, if you wish to be married, I am ready. As
to the _order for your seizure_, that is of little importance; the
plague has carried off that too. If you choose--to-day is Thursday--on
Sunday, I will publish the banns, and then I shall have the happiness of
uniting you."

"You know we came for that purpose," said Renzo.

"Very well; and I will send word of it to his Eminence."

"Who is his Eminence?" asked Agnes.

"His Eminence? our lord cardinal archbishop, whom may God preserve!"

"Oh, as to that, you are mistaken; I can tell you they do not call him
so, because the second time we went to speak with him, one of the
priests drew me aside, and told me I must call him your illustrious
lordship, and my lord."

"And now, if that same priest were to tell you, he would say you must
call him _Your Eminence_; the pope has ordered, that this title be given
to the cardinals. And do you know why? Because _Most Illustrious_ was
assumed by so many people who had no right to it. By and by, they will
call the bishops _Your Eminence_, then the abbots will claim it, then
the canons----"

"And the curates," said the widow.

"No, no, let the curates alone for that; they will be only _Your
Reverence_ to the end of the world. But to return to our affairs. On
Sunday, I will publish the banns at the church, and obtain, in the mean
time, a dispensation for omitting the two other publications. There will
be plenty of similar applications, if things go on elsewhere as they do
here; the fire has taken; no one will wish to live alone, I imagine; I
have already three marriages on hand besides yours; what a pity Perpetua
is dead, she might find a husband! And at Milan, signora, I imagine it
is the same thing."

"Yes, indeed. In my parish alone there were fifty marriages last
Sunday."

"Well, the world wo'n't end yet. And you, signora, has no butterfly
begun to fly around you?"

"No, no, I think not of it; I do not mean to think of it."

"Oh, yes, yes; would you be alone indeed? Agnes also, Agnes also----"

"You have a mind to jest," said Agnes.

"To be sure I have; it is high time. We may hope that the few days that
remain to us will be less sad. As for me, poor old man! there is no
remedy for years, as they say, _Senectus ipsa est morbus_."

"Oh, now," said Renzo, "you may speak Latin as much as you like; I don't
care about it now."

"You still quarrel with Latin, do you? Well, I will not forget you. When
you come before me with Lucy, to pronounce some little words in Latin, I
will say to you, You do not like Latin, go in peace. Eh?"

"Ah, it is not that Latin I dislike, pure and holy like that of the
mass; I speak of the Latin which falls on one as a traitor, in the very
midst of conversation. For example, now that we are here, and all is
past, the Latin you spoke there, in that corner, to make me understand
that you could not, and----I know not what. Tell me now in language I
can understand, will you?"

"Hush! you mischievous fellow, hush!" said Don Abbondio. "Do not stir up
old grievances: if we were to settle our accounts, I do not know which
of us would be in debt to the other. I have forgiven you, but you also
played me an ill turn. As for you, it did not astonish me, because you
are a good-for-nothing fellow; but I speak of this silent--this little
saint; one would have thought it a sin to distrust her. But I know who
advised her; I know I do," added he, pointing to Agnes.

It is impossible to describe the change which had come over him. His
mind, so long the slave of continual apprehension, was now emancipated
from its fetters, and his tongue, liberated from its bonds, recurred to
its former habits. He playfully prolonged the conversation, even
following them to the door, with some parting jest.

The following morning, Don Abbondio received a visit, as agreeable as it
was unexpected, from the lord marquis, whose appearance confirmed all
that report had said of him. "I come," said he, "to bring you the
salutations of the cardinal archbishop."

"Oh, what condescension in both of you!"

"When I took leave of that incomparable man, who honours me with his
friendship, he spoke to me of two young people of this parish who have
suffered much from the unfortunate Don Roderick. My lord wishes to hear
of them. Are they living? Are their affairs settled?"

"Their affairs are settled; and I had thought of writing to his Eminence
about it, but now that I have the honour----"

"Are they here?"

"Yes; and as soon as possible, they will be man and wife."

"I request you to tell me what I can do for them, and the best manner of
doing it. You will render me a service by enabling me to dispose of some
of my superfluous wealth for their benefit."

"May Heaven reward you! I thank you in the name of my children," said
Don Abbondio; "and since your lordship allows me, I have an expedient to
suggest which perhaps will not displease you. These good people have
resolved to establish themselves elsewhere, and to sell the little that
belongs to them here. The best charity you can render them, is to buy
their property, as otherwise it will be sold for little or nothing. But
your lordship will decide, I have spoken in obedience to your commands."

The marquis thanked Don Abbondio, telling him he should leave it to him
to fix the price, and to do so entirely to their advantage, as it was an
object with him to make the amount as large as possible. He then
proposed that they should go together to the cottage of Lucy.

On their way, Don Abbondio, quite overjoyed continued the
conversation,--"Since your lordship is so disposed to benefit this
people, there is another service you can render them. The young man has
an order for his apprehension out against him, for some folly he
committed two years ago at Milan, on the day of the great Tumult. A
recommendation, a word, from a man like yourself, might hereafter be of
service to him."

"Are there not heavy charges against him?"

"They made a great deal of noise about it; but really there was nothing
in it."

"Well, well; I will take it upon myself to free him from all
embarrassment."

We may imagine the surprise of our little company, at a visit from such
a guest. He entered agreeably into conversation with them and after a
while, made his proposal. Don Abbondio, being requested by him to fix
the price, did so; the purchaser said he was well satisfied, and, if he
had not understood him, in repeating it, doubled the sum. He would not
hear of rectifying the mistake, and ended the conversation by inviting
the company to dinner the day after the wedding, when the affair could
be settled with every necessary formality.

"Ah!" thought Don Abbondio when he returned home, "if the pestilence
acted everywhere with so much discrimination, it would be a pity to
speak ill of it. We should want one every generation."

The happy day at length arrived. The betrothed went to the church where
they were united by Don Abbondio. The day after, the wedding party made
their visit at the castle. We will leave the reader to imagine their
reflections on entering those walls! In the midst of their joy,
however, they felt that the presence of the good Father Christopher was
wanting to complete it. "But," said Lucy, "he is even happier than we
are, assuredly."

The contract was drawn up by a doctor, but not _Azzecca Garbugli_! He
was gone to _Canterelli_. For those who are not of this country, an
explanation of this expression may be necessary.

About half a mile above Lecco, and nearly on the borders of the other
territory, called Castello, is _Canterelli_. This was a spot where two
roads cross. Near the point of junction there is a small eminence, an
artificial hill, surmounted by a cross. This was a heap of bodies, dead
of this epidemic. It is true, tradition simply says, _the dead of the
epidemic_; but it must have been this one, as it was the last, and most
severe within the memory of man: and we know that tradition says very
little of itself, unless we render it some assistance.

On their return, no other inconvenience was felt, than the weight of the
money which Renzo had to sustain. However, he did not look upon this as
one of the greatest hardships he had had to encounter. There was,
however, one matter which perplexed him not a little. How should he
employ it? Should it be in agriculture? Should it be in business? Or why
choose at all? Were not both in turn, like one's legs, better than
either singly?

It will be asked, Did they feel no regrets on quitting their native
village--their native mountains? Don Roderick and his wretched agents
could no longer disturb them. Regrets they did feel; but the old
recollections of happiness enjoyed amidst its scenes, had been greatly
weakened by recent distresses and apprehensions, and new hopes had
arisen connected with their new country; so that they could look to
their change of abode without any feelings of grief.

The little company now thought only of preparing for their journey,--the
_Tramaglino_ family to their new country, and the widow to Milan. Many
tears were shed, many thanks given, and many promises to meet again. The
separation of Renzo and the friend who had treated him so hospitably,
was not less tender. Neither did they part coldly from Don Abbondio:
they had always preserved a certain respect for their curate, and he, in
his heart, had always wished them well. It is these unfortunate affairs
of the world which perplex our affections. But who would believe that,
in this new abode, where Renzo had expected such happiness, he should
find only vexation! This was the result of trifles, doubtless; but it
requires so little to disturb a state of happiness in this life!

The reports the Bergamascans had heard of Lucy, together with Renzo's
extraordinary attachment to her--perhaps, too, the representations of
some partial friend--had contributed to excite an extravagant idea of
her beauty. When Lucy appeared, they began to shrug their shoulders, and
say, "Is this the woman? We expected something very different! What is
she, after all? A peasant, like a thousand others! Women like her, and
fairer than she, are to be found every where!"

Unfortunately, some kind friends told Renzo these things, perhaps added
to what they had heard, and roused his indignation. "And what
consequence is it to you?" said he. "Who told you what to expect? Did I
ever do so? Did I tell you she was beautiful? She is a peasant,
forsooth! Did I ever say I would bring a princess here? She does not
please you. Do not look at her, then: you have beautiful women; look at
them." Thus did he make himself unhappy; and believing that all were
disposed to criticise his Lucy, he showed ill nature in return. It would
have gone ill with him, if he had been condemned to remain in the place;
but fortune smiled on him in this respect.

The master of another manufactory, situated near the gates of Bergamo,
being dead, the inheritor of it, a young libertine, was willing to sell
it half price, for ready money. Bortolo proposed to his cousin that they
should make the purchase together. They did so; and when they entered
into possession, Lucy was much pleased, and Renzo also, and not the less
so for having heard that more than one person amongst his neighbours had
said, "Have you seen this beautiful simpleton who is just come?"

Their affairs now went on prosperously. Before the year was completed,
a beautiful little creature made her appearance, as if to give them the
earliest opportunity of fulfilling Lucy's vow. Be assured it was named
Maria. In the course of time, they were surrounded by others of both
sexes, whom Agnes was delighted to carry about one after the other,
calling them little rogues, and loading them with kisses. They were all
taught to read and write; "for," said Renzo, "as this notion is in the
country, we may as well take advantage of it."

It was highly pleasing to hear him relate his adventures: he always
concluded by naming the great things he had learnt, by which to govern
his conduct for the future. "I have learnt," said he, "not to mix in
quarrels; not to preach in public; not to drink more than I want; not to
keep my hand on the knocker of a door, when the inhabitants of the place
are all crazy; not to tie a little bell to my feet, before I think of
the consequences."

"And I!" said Lucy, who thought that the doctrine of her moralist,
though sound, was rather confused, and certainly incomplete--"what have
I learnt?" said she. "I have not sought misfortunes, they have sought
me. Unless you say," smiling affectionately, "that my error was in
loving you, and promising myself to you."

They settled the question, by deciding that misfortunes most commonly
happen to us from our own misconduct or imprudence; but sometimes from
causes independent of ourselves; that the most innocent and prudent
conduct cannot always preserve us from them; and that, whether they
arise from our own fault or not, trust in God softens them, and renders
them useful in preparing us for a better life. Although this was said by
poor peasants, it appears to us so just, that we offer it here as the
moral of our story.



      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber's note:

Original spelling, even where inconsistent, and punctuation have
been preserved. Minor typographical errors have been corrected
without note. Typographical errors corrected in the text (in
brackets the original):

   12 - the most excellent works o [part of word missing, "on"
        inserted] morals
   21 - most excellent [excellen] lord Juan Fernandez
  116 - Without [Witout] waiting for a reply
  250 - union between [betwen] them
  281 - and asks admittance [admiitance]
  306 - Throughout [Thoughout] the village
  325 - accepted with many thanks the kind [part of word missing,
        "kindness" inserted]





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