Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

A Romance of the Republic by Lydia Maria Francis Child

Part 4 out of 7

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.8 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

"And that queenly beauty, where is she? I don't know that I ever heard
her name."

"Rosabella Royal," replied Fitzgerald. "She is living at a convenient
distance from my plantation."

"Well, I will be generous," said Bruteman. "If you will make _her_
over to me, I will cancel the debt."

"She is not in strong health at present," rejoined Fitzgerald. "She
has a babe about two weeks old."

"You know you have invited me to visit your island two or three
weeks hence," replied Bruteman; "and then I shall depend upon you to
introduce me to your fair Rosamond. But we will draw up the papers and
sign them now, if you please."

Some jests unfit for repetition were uttered by the creditor, to which
the unhappy debtor made no reply. When he called Tom to bring paper
and ink, the observing servant noticed that he was very pale, though
but a few moments before his face had been flushed.

That night, he tried to drown recollection in desperate gambling and
frequent draughts of wine. Between one and two o'clock in the morning,
his roisterous companions were led off by their servants, and he was
put into bed by Tom, where he immediately dropped into a perfectly
senseless sleep.

As soon as there was sufficient light, Tom started for the house of
the Signor; judging that he was safe from his master for three hours
at least. Notwithstanding the earliness of the hour, Madame made her
appearance in a very few moments after her servant informed her who
was in waiting, and the Signor soon followed. In the course of the
next hour and a half an incredible amount of talking was done in negro
"lingo" and broken English. The impetuous Signor strode up and down,
clenching his fists, cursing slavery, and sending Fitzgerald to the
Devil in a volley of phrases hard enough in their significance, though
uttered in soft-flowing Italian.

"Swearing does no good, my friend," said Madame; "besides, there isn't
time for it. Rosabella must be brought away immediately. Bruteman will
be on the alert, you may depend. She slipped through his fingers once,
and he won't trust Fitzgerald again."

The Signor cooled down, and proposed to go for her himself. But that
was overruled, in a very kind way, by his prudent wife, who argued
that he was not well enough for such an exciting adventure, or to
be left without her nursing, when his mind would be such a prey to
uneasiness. It was her proposition to send at once for her cousin
Duroy, and have him receive very particular directions from Tom how to
reach the island and find the cottage. Tom said he didn't know whether
he could get away for an hour again, because his master was always
very angry if he was out of the way when called; but if Mr. Duroy
would come to the hotel, he would find chances to tell him what to do.
And that plan was immediately carried into effect.

While these things were going on in New Orleans, Mrs. Fitzgerald was
taking frequent drives about the lovely island with her mother, Mrs.
Bell; while Rosa was occasionally perambulating her little circuit of
woods on the back of patient Thistle. One day Mrs. Fitzgerald and her
mother received an invitation to the Welby plantation, to meet some
Northern acquaintances who were there; and as Mrs. Fitzgerald's
strength was not yet fully restored, Mrs. Welby proposed that they
should remain all night. Chloe, who had lost her own baby, was chosen
to nurse her master's new-born heir, and was consequently tied so
closely that she could find no chance to go to the cottage, whose
inmates she had a great longing to see. But when master and mistress
were both gone, she thought she might take her freedom for a while
without incurring any great risk. The other servants agreed to keep
her secret, and Joe the coachman promised to drive her most of the
way when he came back with the carriage. Accordingly, she made her
appearance at the cottage quite unexpectedly, to the great joy of
Tulee.

When she unwrapped the little black-haired baby from its foldings
of white muslin, Tulee exclaimed: "He looks jus' like his
good-for-nothing father; and so does Missy Rosy's baby. I'm 'fraid 't
will make poor missy feel bad to see it, for she don't know nothin'
'bout it."

"Yes I do, Tulee," said Rosa, who had heard Chloe's voice, and gone
out to greet her. "I heard Tom tell you about it."

She took up the little hand, scarcely bigger than a bird's claw, and
while it twined closely about her finger, she looked into its eyes,
so like to Gerald's in shape and color. She was hoping that those
handsome eyes might never be used as his had been, but she gave
no utterance to her thoughts. Her manner toward Chloe was full of
grateful kindness; and the poor bondwoman had some happy hours,
playing free for a while. She laid the infant on its face in her lap,
trotting it gently, and patting its back, while she talked over with
Tulee all the affairs at the "Grat Hus." And when the babe was asleep,
she asked and obtained Rosa's permission to lay him on her bed beside
his little brother. Then poor Chloe's soul took wing and soared aloft
among sun-lighted clouds. As she prayed, and sang her fervent hymns,
and told of her visions and revelations, she experienced satisfaction
similar to that of a troubadour, or palmer from Holy Land, with an
admiring audience listening to his wonderful adventures.

While she was thus occupied, Tulee came in hastily to say that a
stranger gentleman was coming toward the house. Such an event in that
lonely place produced general excitement, and some consternation. Rosa
at once drew her curtain and bolted the door. But Tulee soon came
rapping gently, saying, "It's only I, Missy Rosy." As the door
partially opened, she said, "It's a friend Madame has sent ye." Rosa,
stepping forward, recognized Mr. Duroy, the cousin in whose clothes
Madame had escaped with them from New Orleans. She was very slightly
acquainted with him, but it was such a comfort to see any one who knew
of the old times that she could hardly refrain from throwing herself
on his neck and bursting into tears. As she grasped his hand with a
close pressure, he felt the thinness of her emaciated fingers. The
paleness of her cheeks, and the saddened expression of her large eyes,
excited his compassion. He was too polite to express it in words,
but it was signified by the deference of his manner and the extreme
gentleness of his tones. He talked of Madame's anxious love for her,
of the Signor's improving health, of the near completion of their plan
for going to Europe, and of their intention to take her with them.
Rosa was full of thankfulness, but said she was as yet incapable of
much exertion. Mr. Duroy went on to speak of Tom's visit to Madame;
and slowly and cautiously he prepared the way for his account of the
conversation between Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Bruteman. But careful as
he was, he noticed that her features tightened and her hands were
clenched. When he came to the interchange of writings, she sprung to
her feet, and, clutching his arm convulsively, exclaimed, "Did he
do that?" Her eyes were like a flame, and her chest heaved with the
quick-coming breath.

He sought to draw her toward him, saying in soothing tones, "They
shall not harm you, my poor girl. Trust to me, as if I were your
father." But she burst from him impetuously, and walked up and down
rapidly; such a sudden access of strength had the body received from
the frantic soul.

"Try not to be so much agitated," said he. "In a very short time you
will be in Europe, and then you will be perfectly safe."

She paused an instant in her walk, and, with a strange glare in her
eyes, she hissed out, "I hate him."

He laid his hand gently upon her shoulder, and said: "I want very much
that you should try to be calm. Some negroes are coming with a boat
at daybreak, and it is necessary we should all go away with them. You
ought to rest as much as possible beforehand."

"_Rest_!" repeated she with bitter emphasis. And clenching her teeth
hard, she again said, "I hate him!"

Poor Rosa! It had taken a mountain-weight of wrong so to crush out all
her gentleness.

Mr. Duroy became somewhat alarmed. He hastened to the kitchen and
told Chloe to go directly to Miss Rosa. He then briefly explained his
errand to Tulee, and told her to prepare for departure as fast as
possible. "But first go to your mistress," said he; "for I am afraid
she may go crazy."

The sufferer yielded more readily to Tulee's accustomed influence than
she had done to that of Mr. Duroy. She allowed herself to be laid upon
the bed; but while her forehead and temples were being bathed, her
heart beat violently, and all her pulses were throbbing. It was,
however, necessary to leave her with Chloe, who knelt by the bedside,
holding her hand, and praying in tones unusually low for her.

"I'm feared for her," said Tulee to Mr. Duroy. "I never see Missy Rosy
look so wild and strange."

A short time after, when she looked into the room, Rosa's eyes were
closed. She whispered to Chloe: "Poor Missy's asleep. You can come and
help me a little now."

But Rosa was not in the least drowsy. She had only remained still, to
avoid being talked to. As soon as her attendants had withdrawn, she
opened her eyes, and, turning toward the babes, she gazed upon them
for a long time. There they lay side by side, like twin kittens. But
ah! thought she, how different is their destiny! One is born to be
cherished and waited upon all his days, the other is an outcast and
a slave. My poor fatherless babe! He wouldn't manumit us. It was not
thoughtlessness. He _meant_ to sell us. "He _meant_ to sell us," she
repeated aloud; and again the wild, hard look came into her eyes. Such
a tempest was raging in her soul, that she felt as if she could kill
him if he stood before her. This savage paroxysm of revenge was
followed by thoughts of suicide. She was about to rise, but hearing
the approach of Tulee, she closed her eyes and remained still.

Language is powerless to describe the anguish of that lacerated soul.
At last the storm subsided, and she fell into a heavy sleep.

Meanwhile the two black women were busy with arrangements for
the early flight. Many things had been already prepared with the
expectation of a summons to New Orleans, and not long after midnight
all was in readiness. Chloe, after a sound nap on the kitchen floor,
rose up with the first peep of light. She and Tulee hugged each other,
with farewell kisses and sobs. She knelt by Rosa's bedside to whisper
a brief prayer, and, giving her one long, lingering look, she took up
her baby, and set off for the plantation, wondering at the mysterious
ways of Providence.

They deferred waking Rosa as long as possible, and when they roused
her, she had been so deeply sunk in slumber that she was at first
bewildered. When recollection returned, she looked at her babe.
"Where's Chloe?" she asked.

"Gone back to the plantation," was the reply.

"O, I am so sorry!" sighed Rosa.

"She was feared they would miss her," rejoined Tulee. "So she went
away as soon as she could see. But she prayed for ye, Missy Rosy; and
she told me to say poor Chloe would never forget ye."

"O, I'm _so_ sorry!" repeated Rosa, mournfully.

She objected to taking the nourishment Tulee offered, saying she
wanted to die. But Mr. Duroy reminded her that Madame was longing to
see her, and she yielded to that plea. When Tulee brought the same
travelling-dress in which she had first come to the cottage, she
shrunk from it at first, but seemed to remember immediately that she
ought not to give unnecessary trouble to her friends. While she was
putting it on, Tulee said, "I tried to remember to put up everything
ye would want, darling."

"I don't want _any_thing," she replied listlessly. Then, looking up
suddenly, with that same wild, hard expression, she added, "Don't let
me ever see anything that came from _him_!" She spoke so sternly, that
Tulee, for the first time in her life, was a little afraid of her.

The eastern sky was all of a saffron glow, but the golden edge of the
sun had not yet appeared above the horizon, when they entered the boat
which was to convey them to the main-land. Without one glance toward
the beautiful island where she had enjoyed and suffered so much, the
unhappy fugitive nestled close to Tulee, and hid her face on her
shoulder, as if she had nothing else in the world to cling to.

* * * * *

A week later, a carriage stopped before Madame's door, and Tulee
rushed in with the baby on her shoulder, exclaiming, "_Nous voici_!"
while Mr. Duroy was helping Rosa to alight. Then such huggings and
kissings, such showers of French from Madame, and of mingled French
and Italian from the Signor, while Tulee stood by, throwing up her
hand, and exclaiming, "Bless the Lord! bless the Lord!" The parrot
listened with ear upturned, and a lump of sugar in her claw, then
overtopped all their voices with the cry of "_Bon jour, Rosabella! je
suis enchantee_."

This produced a general laugh, and there was the faint gleam of a
smile on Rosa's face, as she looked up at the cage and said, "_Bon
jour, jolie Manon_!" But she soon sank into a chair with an expression
of weariness.

"You are tired, darling," said Madame, as she took off her bonnet and
tenderly put back the straggling hair. "No wonder, after all you have
gone through, my poor child!"

Rosa clasped her round the neck, and murmured, "O my dear friend, I
_am_ tired, _so_ tired!"

Madame led her to the settee, and arranged her head comfortably on its
pillows. Then, giving her a motherly kiss, she said, "Rest, darling,
while Tulee and I look after the boxes."

When they had all passed into another room, she threw up her hands and
exclaimed: "How she's changed! How thin and pale she is! How large her
eyes look! But she's beautiful as an angel."

"I never see Missy Rosy but once when she wasn't beautiful as an
angel," said Tulee; "and that was the night Massa Duroy told her she
was sold to Massa Bruteman. Then she looked as if she had as many
devils as that Mary Magdalene Massa Royal used to read about o'
Sundays."

"No wonder, poor child!" exclaimed Madame. "But I hope the little one
is some comfort to her."

"She ha'n't taken much notice of him, or anything else, since Massa
Duroy told her that news," rejoined Tulee.

Madame took the baby and tried to look into its face as well as the
lopping motions of its little head would permit. "I shouldn't think
she'd have much comfort in looking at it," said she; "for it's the
image of its father; but the poor little dear ain't to blame for
that."

An animated conversation followed concerning what had happened since
Tulee went away,--especially the disappearance of Flora. Both hinted
at having entertained similar suspicions, but both had come to the
conclusion that she could not be alive, or she would have written.

Rosa, meanwhile, left alone in the little parlor, where she had
listened so anxiously for the whistling of _Ca ira_, was scarcely
conscious of any other sensation than the luxury of repose, after
extreme fatigue of body and mind. There was, indeed, something
pleasant in the familiar surroundings. The parrot swung in the same
gilded ring in her cage. Madame's table, with its basket of chenilles,
stood in the same place, and by it was her enamelled snuffbox. Rosa
recognized a few articles that had been purchased at the auction of
her father's furniture;--his arm-chair, and the astral lamp by which
he used to sit to read his newspaper; a sewing-chair that was her
mother's; and one of Flora's embroidered slippers, hung up for a
watch-case. With these memories floating before her drowsy eyes, she
fell asleep, and slept for a long time. As her slumbers grew lighter,
dreams of father, mother, and sister passed through various changes;
the last of which was that Flora was puzzling the mocking-birds. She
waked to the consciousness that some one was whistling in the room.

"Who is that!" exclaimed she; and the parrot replied with a tempest of
imitations. Madame, hearing the noise, came in, saying: "How stupid I
was not to cover the cage! She is _so_ noisy! Her memory is wonderful.
I don't think she'll ever forget a note of all the _melange_ dear
Floracita took so much pains to teach her."

She began to call up reminiscences of Flora's incessant mischief; but
finding Rosa in no mood for anything gay, she proceeded to talk over
the difficulties of her position, concluding with the remark: "To-day
and to-night you must rest, my child. But early to-morrow you and
the Signor will start for New York, whence you will take passage to
Marseilles, under the name of Signor Balbino and daughter."

"I wish I could stay here, at least for a little while," sighed Rosa.

"It's never wise to wish for what cannot be had," rejoined Madame. "It
would cause great trouble and expense to obtain your freedom; and it
is doubtful whether we could secure it at all, for Bruteman won't give
you up if he can avoid it. The voyage will recruit your strength, and
it will do you good to be far away from anything that reminds you
of old troubles. I have nothing left to do but to dispose of my
furniture, and settle about the lease of this house. You will wait at
Marseilles for me. I shall be uneasy till I have the sea between me
and the agents of Mr. Bruteman, and I shall hurry to follow after you
as soon as possible."

"And Tulee and the baby?" asked Rosa.

"Yes, with Tulee and the baby," replied Madame. "But I shall send them
to my cousin's to-morrow, to be out of the way of being seen by the
neighbors. He lives off the road, and three miles out. They'll be
nicely out of the way there."

It was all accomplished as the energetic Frenchwoman had planned. Rosa
was whirled away, without time to think of anything. At parting, she
embraced Tulee, and looked earnestly in the baby's face, while she
stroked his shining black hair. "Good by, dear, kind Tulee," said she.
"Take good care of the little one."

At Philadelphia, her strength broke down, and they were detained three
days. Consequently, when they arrived in New York, they found that
the Mermaid, in which they expected to take passage, had sailed. The
Signor considered it imprudent to correspond with his wife on the
subject, and concluded to go out of the city and wait for the next
vessel. When they went on board, they found Madame, and explained to
her the circumstances.

"I am glad I didn't know of the delay," said she; "for I was
frightened enough as it was. But, luckily, I got off without anybody's
coming to make inquiries."

"But where are Tulee and the baby? Are they down below?" asked Rosa.

"No, dear, I didn't bring them."

"O, how came you to leave them?" said Rosa. "Something will happen to
them."

"I have provided well for their safety," rejoined Madame. "The reason
I did it was this. We have no certain home or prospects at present;
and I thought we had better be settled somewhere before the baby was
brought. My cousin is coming to Marseilles in about three months,
and he will bring them with him. His wife was glad to give Tulee her
board, meanwhile, for what work she could do. I really think it was
best, dear. The feeble little thing will be stronger for the voyage by
that time; and you know Tulee will take just as good care of it as if
it were her own."

"Poor Tulee!" sighed Rosa. "Was she willing to be left?"

"She didn't know when I came away," replied Madame.

Rosa heaved an audible groan, as she said: "I am so sorry you did
this, Madame! If anything should happen to them, it would be a weight
on my mind as long as I live."

"I did what I thought was for the best," answered Madame. "I was in
such a hurry to get away, on your account, that, if I hadn't all my
wits about me, I hope you will excuse me. But I think myself I made
the best arrangement."

Rosa, perceiving a slight indication of pique in her tone, hastened to
kiss her, and call her her best and dearest friend. But in her heart
she mourned over what she considered, for the first time in her life,
a great mistake in the management of Madame.

* * * * *

After Tom's return from New Orleans, he continued to go to the cottage
as usual, and so long as no questions were asked, he said nothing; but
when his master inquired how they were getting on there, he answered
that Missy Rosy was better. When a fortnight had elapsed, he thought
the fugitives must be out of harm's way, and he feared Mr. Bruteman
might be coming soon to claim his purchase. Accordingly he one day
informed his master, with a great appearance of astonishment and
alarm, that the cottage was shut up, and all the inmates gone.

Fitzgerald's first feeling was joy; for he was glad to be relieved
from the picture of Rosa's horror and despair, which had oppressed him
like the nightmare. But he foresaw that Bruteman would suspect him of
having forewarned her, though he had solemnly pledged himself not
to do so. He immediately wrote him the tidings, with expressions of
surprise and regret. The answer he received led to a duel, in which he
received a wound in the shoulder, that his wife always supposed was
occasioned by a fall from his horse.

When Mr. Bruteman ascertained that Madame and the Signor had left
the country, he at once conjectured that the fugitive was with them.
Having heard that Mr. Duroy was a relative, he waited upon him, at his
place of business, and was informed that Rosabella Royal had sailed
for France, with his cousin, in the ship Mermaid. Not long after, it
was stated in the ship news that the Mermaid had foundered at sea, and
all on board were lost.

CHAPTER XVII.

While Rosabella had been passing through these dark experiences, Flora
was becoming more and more accustomed to her new situation. She
strove bravely to conceal the homesickness which she could not always
conquer; but several times, in the course of their travels, Mrs.
Delano noticed moisture gathering on her long black eyelashes when she
saw the stars and stripes floating from the mast of a vessel. Once,
when a rose was given her, she wept outright; but she soon wiped her
eyes, and apologized by saying: "I wonder whether a _Pensee-Vivace_
makes Rosa feel as I do when I see a rose? But what an ungrateful
child I am, when I have such a dear, kind, new Mamita!" And a loving
smile again lighted up her swimming eyes,--those beautiful April eyes
of tears and sunshine, that made rainbows in the heart.

Mrs. Delano wisely kept her occupied with a succession of teachers and
daily excursions. Having a natural genius for music and drawing,
she made rapid progress in both during a residence of six months in
England, six months in France, and three months in Switzerland. And as
Mr. and Mrs. Percival were usually with them, she picked up, in
her quick way, a good degree of culture from the daily tone of
conversation. The one drawback to the pleasure of new acquisitions was
that she could not share them with Rosa.

One day, when she was saying this, Mrs. Delano replied: "We will go to
Italy for a short time, and then we will return to live in Boston. I
have talked the matter over a good deal with Mr. Percival, and I think
I should know how to guard against any contingency that may occur. And
as you are so anxious about your sister, I have been revolving plans
for taking you back to the island, to see whether we can ascertain
what is going on in that mysterious cottage."

From that time there was a very perceptible increase of cheerfulness
in Flora's spirits. The romance of such an adventure hit her youthful
fancy, while the idea of getting even a sly peep at Rosa filled her
with delight. She imagined all sorts of plans to accomplish this
object, and often held discussions upon the propriety of admitting
Tulee to their confidence.

Her vivacity redoubled when they entered Italy. She was herself
composed of the same materials of which Italy was made; and without
being aware of the spiritual relationship, she at once felt at home
there. She was charmed with the gay, impulsive people, the bright
costumes, the impassioned music, and the flowing language. The clear,
intense blue of the noonday sky, and the sun setting in a glowing sea
of amber, reminded her of her Southern home; and the fragrance of the
orange-groves was as incense waved by the memory of her childhood.
The ruins of Rome interested her less than any other features of the
landscape; for, like Bettini, she never asked who any of the ancients
were, for fear they would tell her. The play of sunshine on the
orange-colored lichens interested her more than the inscriptions they
covered; and while their guide was telling the story of mouldering
arches, she was looking through them at the clear blue sky and the
soft outline of the hills.

One morning they rode out early to spend a whole day at Albano; and
every mile of the ride presented her with some charming novelty. The
peasants who went dancing by in picturesque costumes, and the finely
formed women walking erect with vases of water on their heads, or
drawing an even thread from their distaffs, as they went singing
along, furnished her memory with subjects for many a picture.
Sometimes her exclamations would attract the attention of a group of
dancers, who, pleased with an exuberance of spirits akin to their own,
and not unmindful of forthcoming coin, would beckon to the driver
to stop, while they repeated their dances for the amusement of the
Signorina. A succession of pleasant novelties awaited her at Albano.
Running about among the ilex-groves in search of bright mosses, she
would come suddenly in front of an elegant villa, with garlands in
stucco, and balconies gracefully draped with vines. Wandering away
from that, she would utter a little cry of joy at the unexpected sight
of some reclining marble nymph, over which a little fountain threw a
transparent veil of gossamer sparkling with diamonds. Sometimes she
stood listening to the gurgling and dripping of unseen waters; and
sometimes melodies floated from the distance, which her quick ear
caught at once, and her tuneful voice repeated like a mocking-bird.
The childlike zest with which she entered into everything, and made
herself a part of everything, amused her quiet friend, and gave her
even more pleasure than the beauties of the landscape.

After a picnic repast, they ascended Monte Cavo, and looked down on
the deep basins of the lakes, once blazing with volcanic fire, now
full of water blue as the sky it reflected; like human souls in which
the passions have burned out, and left them calm recipients of those
divine truths in which the heavens are mirrored. As Mrs. Delano
pointed out various features in the magnificent panorama around them,
she began to tell Flora of scenes in the Aeneid with which they were
intimately connected. The young girl, who was serious for the moment,
dropped on the grass to listen, with elbows on her friend's lap, and
her upturned face supported by her hands. But the lecture was too
grave for her mercurial spirit; and she soon sprang up, exclaiming:
"O Mamita Lila, all those people were dead and buried so long ago! I
don't believe the princess that Aeneas was fighting about was half
as handsome as that dancing Contadina from Frascati, with a scarlet
bodice and a floating veil fastened among her black braids with a
silver arrow. How her eyes sparkled, and her cheeks glowed! And the
Contadino who was dancing with her, with those long streamers of red
ribbon flying round his peaked hat, he looked almost as handsome as
she did. How I wish I could see them dance the saltarello again! O
Mamita Lila, as soon as we get back to Rome, do buy a tambourine."
Inspired by the remembrance, she straightway began to hum the
monotonous tune of that grasshopper dance, imitating the hopping steps
and the quick jerks of the arms, marking the time with ever-increasing
rapidity on her left hand, as if it were a tambourine. She was so
aglow with the exercise, and so graceful in her swift motions, that
Mrs. Delano watched her with admiring smiles. But when the extempore
entertainment came to a close, she thought to herself: "It is a
hopeless undertaking to educate her after the New England pattern. One
might as well try to plough with a butterfly, as to teach her ancient
history."

When they had wandered about a little while longer, happy as souls
newly arrived in the Elysian Fields, Mrs. Delano said: "My child, you
have already gathered mosses enough to fill the carriage, and it is
time for us to return. You know twilight passes into darkness very
quickly here."

"Just let me gather this piece of golden lichen," pleaded she. "It
will look so pretty among the green moss, in the cross I am going to
make you for Christmas."

When all her multifarious gleanings were gathered up, they lingered
a little to drink in the beauty of the scene before them. In the
distance was the Eternal City, girdled by hills that stood out with
wonderful distinctness in the luminous atmosphere of that brilliant
day, which threw a golden veil over all its churches, statues, and
ruins. Before they had gone far on their homeward ride, all things
passed through magical changes. The hills were seen in vapory visions,
shifting their hues with opaline glances; and over the green, billowy
surface of the broad Campagna was settling a prismatic robe of mist,
changing from rose to violet. Earth seemed to be writing, in colored
notes, with tenderest modulations, her farewell hymn to the departing
God of Light. And the visible music soon took voice in the vibration
of vesper-bells, in the midst of which they entered Rome. Flora, who
was sobered by the solemn sounds and the darkening landscape, scarcely
spoke, except to remind Mrs. Delano of the tambourine as they drove
through the crowded Corso; and when they entered their lodgings in Via
delle Quattro Fontane, she passed to her room without any of her usual
skipping and singing. When they met again at supper her friend said:
"Why so serious? Is my little one tired?"

"I have been thinking, Mamita, that something is going to happen to
me," she replied; "for always when I am very merry something happens."

"I should think something would happen very often then," rejoined Mrs.
Delano with a smile, to which she responded with her ready little
laugh. "Several visitors called while we were gone," said Mrs. Delano.
"Our rich Boston friend, Mr. Green, has left his card. He follows us
very diligently." She looked at Flora as she spoke; but though the
light from a tall lamp fell directly on her face, she saw no emotion,
either of pleasure or embarrassment.

She merely looked up with a smile, as she remarked: "He always seems
to be going round very leisurely in search of something to entertain
him. I wonder whether he has found it yet."

Though she was really tired with the exertions of the day, the sight
of the new tambourine, after supper, proved too tempting; and she was
soon practising the saltarello again, with an agility almost equal to
that of the nimble Contadina from whom she had learned it. She was
whirling round more and more swiftly, as if fatigue were a thing
impossible to her, when Mr. Green was announced; and a very stylishly
dressed gentleman, with glossy shirt-bosom and diamond studs, entered
the room. She had had scarcely time to seat herself, and her face was
still flushed with exercise, while her dimples were revealed by a sort
of shy smile at the consciousness of having been so nearly caught
in her rompish play by such an exquisite. The glowing cheek and the
dimpling smile were a new revelation to Mr. Green; for he had never
interested her sufficiently to call out the vivacity which rendered
her so charming.

Mrs. Delano noticed his glance of admiration, and the thought
occurred, as it had often done before, what an embarrassing dilemma
she would be in, if he should propose marriage to her _protegee_.

"I called this morning," said he, "and found you had gone to Albano. I
was tempted to follow, but thought it likely I should miss you. It is
a charming drive."

"Everything is charming here, I think," rejoined Flora.

"Ah, it is the first time you have seen Rome," said he. "I envy you
the freshness of your sensations. This is the third time I have been
here, and of course it palls a little upon me."

"Why don't you go to some new place then?" inquired Flora.

"Where _is_ there any new place?" responded he languidly. "To be sure,
there is Arabia Petraea, but the accommodations are not good. Besides,
Rome has attractions for me at present; and I really think I meet more
acquaintances here than I should at home. Rome is beginning to swarm
with Americans, especially with Southerners. One can usually recognize
them at a glance by their unmistakable air of distinction. They are
obviously of porcelain clay, as Willis says."

"I think our New England Mr. Percival is as polished a gentleman as
any. I have seen," observed Mrs. Delano.

"He is a gentleman in manners and attainments, I admit," replied Mr.
Green; "but with his family and education, what a pity it is he has so
disgraced himself."

"Pray what has he done?" inquired the lady.

"Didn't you know he was an Abolitionist?" rejoined Mr. Green. "It is a
fact that he has actually spoken at their meetings. I was surprised
to see him travelling with you in England. It must be peculiarly
irritating to the South to see a man of his position siding with those
vulgar agitators. Really, unless something effectual can be done to
stop that frenzy, I fear Southern gentlemen will be unable to recover
a fugitive slave."

Flora looked at Mrs. Delano with a furtive, sideway glance, and a
half-smile on her lips. Her impulse was to jump up, dot one of her
quick courtesies, and say: "I am a fugitive slave. Please, sir, don't
give _me_ up to any of those distinguished gentlemen."

Mr. Green noticed her glance, and mistook it for distaste of his
theme. "Pardon me, ladies," said he, "for introducing a subject
tabooed in polite society. I called for a very different purpose. One
novelty remains for me in Rome. I have never seen the statues of the
Vatican by torchlight. Some Americans are forming a party for that
purpose to-morrow evening, and if you would like to join them, it will
give me great pleasure to be your escort."

Flora, being appealed to, expressed acquiescence, and Mrs. Delano
replied: "We will accept your invitation with pleasure. I have a great
predilection for sculpture."

"Finding myself so fortunate in one request encourages me to make
another," rejoined Mr. Green. "On the evening following Norma is to
be brought out, with a new _prima donna_, from whom great things are
expected. I should be much gratified if you would allow me to procure
tickets and attend upon you."

Flora's face lighted up at once. "I see what my musical daughter
wishes," said Mrs. Delano. "We will therefore lay ourselves under
obligations to you for two evenings' entertainment."

The gentleman, having expressed his thanks, bade them good evening.

Flora woke up the next morning full of pleasant anticipations. When
Mrs. Delano looked in upon her, she found her already dressed, and
busy with a sketch of the dancing couple from Frascati. "I cannot make
them so much alive as I wish," said she, "because they are not
in motion. No picture can give the gleamings of the arrow or the
whirlings of the veil. I wish we could dress like Italians. How I
should like to wear a scarlet bodice, and a veil fastened with a
silver arrow."

"If we remained till Carnival, you might have that pleasure," replied
Mrs. Delano; "for everybody masquerades as they like at that time. But
I imagine you would hardly fancy my appearance in scarlet jacket, with
laced sleeves, big coral necklace, and long ear-rings, like that old
Contadina we met riding on a donkey."

Flora laughed. "To think of Mamita Lila in such costume!" exclaimed
she. "The old Contadina would make a charming picture; but a picture
of the Campagna, sleepy with purple haze, would be more like you."

"Am I then so sleepy?" inquired her friend.

"O, no, not sleepy. You know I don't mean that. But so quiet; and
always with some sort of violet or lilac cloud for a dress. But here
comes Carlina to call us to breakfast," said she, as she laid down her
crayon, and drummed the saltarello on her picture while she paused a
moment to look at it.

As Mrs. Delano wished to write letters, and Flora expected a teacher
in drawing, it was decided that they should remain at home until
the hour arrived for visiting the Vatican. "We have been about
sight-seeing so much," said Mrs. Delano, "that I think it will be
pleasant to have a quiet day." Flora assented; but as Mrs. Delano
wrote, she could not help smiling at her ideas of quietude. Sometimes
rapid thumps on the tambourine might be heard, indicating that the
saltarello was again in rehearsal. If a _piffero_ strolled through the
street, the monotonous drone of his bagpipe was reproduced in most
comical imitation; and anon there was a gush of bird-songs, as if a
whole aviary were in the vicinity. Indeed, no half-hour passed without
audible indication that the little recluse was in merry mood.

At the appointed time Mr. Green came to conduct them to the Vatican.
They ascended the wide slopes, and passed through open courts into
long passages lined with statues, and very dimly lighted with
occasional lamps. Here and there a marble figure was half revealed,
and looked so spectral in the gloaming that they felt as if they were
entering the world of spirits. Several members of the party preceded
them, and all seemed to feel the hushing influence, for they passed
on in silence, and stepped softly as they entered the great Palace
of Art. The torch-bearers were soon in readiness to illuminate the
statues, which they did by holding a covered light over each, making
it stand out alone in the surrounding darkness, with very striking
effects of light and shadow. Flora, who was crouched on a low seat by
the side of Mrs. Delano, gazed with a reverent, half-afraid feeling
on the thoughtful, majestic looking Minerva Medica. When the graceful
vision of Venus Anadyomene was revealed, she pressed her friend's
hand, and the pressure was returned. But when the light was held over
a beautiful Cupid, the face looked out from the gloom with such
an earnest, childlike expression, that she forgot the presence of
strangers, and impulsively exclaimed, "O Mamita, how lovely!"

A gentleman some little distance in front of them turned toward
them suddenly, at the sound of her voice; and a movement of the
torch-bearer threw the light full upon him for an instant. Flora hid
her face in the lap of Mrs. Delano, who attributed the quick action
to her shame at having spoken so audibly. But placing her hand
caressingly on her shoulder, she felt that she was trembling
violently. She stooped toward her, and softly inquired, "What is the
matter, dear?"

Flora seized her head with both hands, and, drawing it closer,
whispered: "Take me home, Mamita! Do take me right home!"

Wondering what sudden caprice had seized the emotional child, she
said, "Why, are you ill, dear?"

Flora whispered close into her ear: "No, Mamita. But Mr. Fitzgerald is
here."

Mrs. Delano rose very quietly, and, approaching Mr. Green, said: "My
daughter is not well, and we wish to leave. But I beg you will return
as soon as you have conducted us to the carriage."

But though he was assured by both the ladies that nothing alarming was
the matter, when they arrived at their lodgings he descended from the
driver's seat to assist them in alighting. Mrs. Delano, with polite
regrets at having thus disturbed his pleasure, thanked him, and bade
him good evening. She hurried after Flora, whom she found in her room,
weeping bitterly. "Control your feelings, my child," said she. "You
are perfectly safe here in Italy."

"But if he saw me, it will make it so very unpleasant for you,
Mamita."

"He couldn't see you; for we were sitting in very deep shadow,"
replied Mrs. Delano. "But even if he had seen you, I should know how
to protect you."

"But what I am thinking of," said Floracita, still weeping, "is that
he may have brought Rosa with him, and I can't run to her this very
minute. I _must_ see her! I _will_ see her! If I have to tell ever so
many _fibititas_ about the reason of my running away."

"I wouldn't prepare any _fibititas_ at present," rejoined Mrs. Delano.
"I always prefer the truth. I will send for Mr. Percival, and ask
him to ascertain whether Mr. Fitzgerald brought a lady with him.
Meanwhile, you had better lie down, and keep as quiet as you can. As
soon as I obtain any information, I will come and tell you."

When Mr. Percival was informed of the adventure at the Vatican, he
sallied forth to examine the lists of arrivals; and before long
he returned with the statement that Mr. and Mrs. Fitzgerald were
registered among the newcomers. "Flora would, of course, consider that
conclusive," said he; "but you and I, who have doubts concerning that
clandestine marriage, will deem it prudent to examine further."

"If it should prove to be her sister, it will be a very embarrassing
affair," rejoined Mrs. Delano.

Mr. Percival thought it very unlikely, but said he would ascertain
particulars to-morrow.

With that general promise, without a knowledge of the fact already
discovered, Flora retired to rest; but it was nearly morning before
she slept.

CHAPTER XVIII.

Though Flora had been so wakeful the preceding night, she tapped at
Mrs. Delano's door very early the next morning. "Excuse me for coming
before you were dressed," said she; "but I wanted to ask you how long
you think it will be before Mr. Percival can find out whether Mr.
Fitzgerald has brought Rosa with him."

"Probably not before noon," replied Mrs. Delano, drawing the anxious
little face toward her, and imprinting on it her morning kiss. "Last
evening I wrote a note to Mr. Green, requesting him to dispose of the
opera tickets to other friends. Mr. Fitzgerald is so musical, he will
of course be there; and whether your sister is with him or not, you
will be in too nervous a state to go to any public place. You had
better stay in your room, and busy yourself with books and drawings,
till we can ascertain the state of things. I will sit with you as
much as I can; and when I am absent you must try to be a good, quiet
child."

"I will try to be good, because I don't want to trouble you, Mamita
Lila; but you know I can't be quiet in my mind. I did long for the
opera; but unless Mr. Fitzgerald brought Rosa with him, and I could
see her before I went, it would almost kill me to hear Norma; for
every part of it is associated with her."

After breakfast, Mrs. Delano sat some time in Flora's room, inspecting
her recent drawings, and advising her to work upon them during the
day, as the best method of restraining restlessness. While they were
thus occupied, Carlina brought in a beautiful bouquet for Miss Delano,
accompanied with a note for the elder lady, expressing Mr. Green's
great regret at being deprived of the pleasure of their company for
the evening.

"I am sorry I missed seeing him," thought Mrs. Delano; "for he is
always so intimate with Southerners, I dare say he would know all
about Mr. Fitzgerald; though I should have been at a loss how to
introduce the inquiry."

Not long afterward Mr. Percival called, and had what seemed to Flora
a very long private conference with Mrs. Delano. The information he
brought was, that the lady with Mr. Fitzgerald was a small, slight
figure, with yellowish hair and very delicate complexion.

"That is in all respects the very opposite of Flora's description of
her sister," rejoined Mrs. Delano.

Their brief conversation on the subject was concluded by a request
that Mr. Percival would inquire at Civita Vecchia for the earliest
vessels bound either to France or England.

Mrs. Delano could not at once summon sufficient resolution to recount
all the particulars to Flora; to whom she merely said that she
considered it certain that her sister was not with Mr. Fitzgerald.

"Then why can't I go right off to the United States to-day?" exclaimed
the impetuous little damsel.

"Would you then leave Mamita Lila so suddenly?" inquired her friend;
whereupon the emotional child began to weep and protest. This little
scene was interrupted by Carlina with two visiting-cards on a silver
salver. Mrs. Delano's face flushed unusually as she glanced at them.
She immediately rose to go, saying to Flora: "I must see these people;
but I will come back to you as soon as I can. Don't leave your room,
my dear."

In the parlor, she found a gentleman and lady, both handsome, but
as different from each other as night and morning. The lady stepped
forward and said: "I think you will recollect me; for we lived in the
same street in Boston, and you and my mother used to visit together."

"Miss Lily Bell," rejoined Mrs. Delano, offering her hand. "I had not
heard you were on this side the Atlantic."

"Not Miss Bell now, but Mrs. Fitzgerald," replied the fair little
lady. "Allow me to introduce you to Mr. Fitzgerald."

Mrs. Delano bowed, rather coldly; and her visitor continued: "I was so
sorry I didn't know you were with the Vatican party last night. Mr.
Green told us of it this morning, and said you were obliged to leave
early, on account of the indisposition of Miss Delano. I hope she has
recovered, for Mr. Green has told me so much about her that I am dying
with curiosity to see her."

"She is better, I thank you, but not well enough to see company,"
replied Mrs. Delano.

"What a pity she will be obliged to relinquish the opera to-night!"
observed Mr. Fitzgerald. "I hear she is very musical; and they tell
wonderful stories about this new _prima donna_. They say she has two
more notes in the altissimo scale than any singer who has been heard
here, and that her sostenuto is absolutely marvellous."

Mrs. Delano replied politely, expressing regret that she and her
daughter were deprived of the pleasure of hearing such a musical
genius. After some desultory chat concerning the various sights in
Rome, the visitors departed.

"I'm glad your call was short," said Mr. Fitzgerald. "That lady is a
perfect specimen of Boston ice."

Whereupon his companion began to rally him for want of gallantry in
saying anything disparaging of Boston.

Meanwhile Mrs. Delano was pacing the parlor in a disturbed state
of mind. Though she had foreseen such a contingency as one of the
possible consequences of adopting Flora, yet when it came so suddenly
in a different place, and under different circumstances from any she
had thought of, the effect was somewhat bewildering. She dreaded the
agitation into which the news would throw Flora, and she wanted to
mature her own future plans before she made the announcement. So, in
answer to Flora's questions about the visitors, she merely said a lady
from Boston, the daughter of one of her old acquaintances, had called
to introduce her husband. After dinner, they spent some time reading
Tasso's Aminta together; and then Mrs. Delano said: "I wish to go and
have a talk with Mr. and Mrs. Percival. I have asked him to inquire
about vessels at Civita Vecchia; for, under present circumstances, I
presume you would be glad to set out sooner than we intended on that
romantic expedition in search of your sister."

"O, thank you! thank you!" exclaimed Flora, jumping up and kissing
her.

"I trust you will not go out, or sing, or show yourself at the windows
while I am gone," said Mrs. Delano; "for though Mr. Fitzgerald can do
you no possible harm, it would be more agreeable to slip away without
his seeing you."

The promise was readily and earnestly given, and she proceeded to the
lodgings of Mr. and Mrs. Percival in the next street. After she had
related the experiences of the morning, she asked what they supposed
had become of Rosabella.

"It is to be hoped she does not continue her relation with that base
man if she knows of his marriage," said Mrs. Percival; "for that would
involve a moral degradation painful for you to think of in Flora's
sister."

"If she has ceased to interest his fancy, very likely he may have sold
her," said Mr. Percival; "for a man who could entertain the idea of
selling Flora, I think would sell his own Northern wife, if the law
permitted it and circumstances tempted him to it."

"What do you think I ought to do in the premises?" inquired Mrs.
Delano.

"I would hardly presume to say what you ought to do," rejoined Mrs.
Percival; "but I know what I should do, if I were as rich as you, and
as strongly attached to Flora."

"Let me hear what you would do," said Mrs. Delano.

The prompt reply was: "I would go in search of her. And if she was
sold, I would buy her and bring her home, and be a mother to her."

"Thank you," said Mrs. Delano, warmly pressing her hand. "I thought
you would advise what was kindest and noblest. Money really seems
to me of very little value, except as a means of promoting human
happiness. And in this case I might perhaps prevent moral degradation,
growing out of misfortune and despair."

After some conversation concerning vessels that were about to sail,
the friends parted. On her way homeward, she wondered within herself
whether they had any suspicion of the secret tie that bound her so
closely to these unfortunate girls. "I ought to do the same for them
without that motive," thought she; "but should I?"

Though her call had not been very long, it seemed so to Flora, who
had latterly been little accustomed to solitude. She had no heart
for books or drawing. She sat listlessly watching the crowd on Monte
Pincio;--children chasing each other, or toddling about with nurses
in bright-red jackets; carriages going round and round, ever and anon
bringing into the sunshine gleams of gay Roman scarfs, or bright
autumnal ribbons fluttering in the breeze. She had enjoyed few things
more than joining that fashionable promenade to overlook the city in
the changing glories of sunset. But now she cared not for it. Her
thoughts were far away on the lonely island. As sunset quickly faded
into twilight, carriages and pedestrians wound their way down the
hill. The noble trees on its summit became solemn silhouettes against
the darkening sky, and the monotonous trickling of the fountain in the
court below sounded more distinct as the street noises subsided. She
was growing a little anxious, when she heard soft footfalls on the
stairs, which she at once recognized and hastened to meet. "O, you
have been gone so long!" she exclaimed. Happy, as all human beings
are, to have another heart so dependent on them, the gratified lady
passed her arm round the waist of the loving child, and they ascended
to their rooms like two confidential school-girls.

After tea, Mrs. Delano said, "Now I will keep my promise of telling
you all I have discovered." Flora ran to an ottoman by her side, and,
leaning on her lap, looked up eagerly into her face. "You must try
not to be excitable, my dear," said her friend; "for I have some
unpleasant news to tell you."

The expressive eyes, that were gazing wistfully into hers while she
spoke, at once assumed that startled, melancholy look, strangely in
contrast with their laughing shape. Her friend was so much affected by
it that she hardly knew how to proceed with her painful task. At last
Flora murmured, "Is she dead?"

"I have heard no such tidings, darling," she replied. "But Mr.
Fitzgerald has married a Boston lady, and they were the visitors who
came here this morning."

Flora sprung up and pressed her hand on her heart, as if a sharp arrow
had hit her. But she immediately sank on the ottoman again, and said
in tones of suppressed agitation: "Then he has left poor Rosa. How
miserable she must be! She loved him so! O, how wrong it was for me
to run away and leave her! And only to think how I have been enjoying
myself, when she was there all alone, with her heart breaking! Can't
we go to-morrow to look for her, dear Mamita?"

"In three days a vessel will sail for Marseilles," replied Mrs.
Delano. "Our passage is taken; and Mr. and Mrs. Percival, who intended
to return home soon, are kind enough to say they will go with us. I
wish they could accompany us to the South; but he is so well known
as an Abolitionist that his presence would probably cause unpleasant
interruptions and delays, and perhaps endanger his life."

Flora seized her hand and kissed it, while tears were dropping fast
upon it. And at every turn of the conversation, she kept repeating,
"How wrong it was for me to run away and leave her!"

"No, my child," replied Mrs. Delano, "you did right in coming to me.
If you had stayed there, you would have made both her and yourself
miserable, beside doing what was very wrong. I met Mr. Fitzgerald once
on horseback, while I was visiting at Mr. Welby's plantation; but I
never fairly saw him until to-day. He is so very handsome, that, when
I looked at him, I could not but think it rather remarkable he did not
gain a bad power over you by his insinuating flattery, when you were
so very young and inexperienced."

The guileless little damsel looked up with an expression of surprise,
and said: "How _could_ I bear to have him make love to _me_, when he
was Rosa's husband? He is so handsome and fascinating, that, if he had
loved me instead of Rosa, in the beginning, I dare say I should have
been as much in love with him as she was. I did dearly love him while
he was a kind brother; but I couldn't love him _so_. It would have
killed Rosa if I had. Besides, he told falsehoods; and papa taught us
to consider that as the meanest of faults. I have heard him tell Rosa
he never loved anybody but her, when an hour before he had told me he
loved me better than Rosa. What could I do but despise such a man?
Then, when he threatened to sell me, I became dreadfully afraid of
him." She started up, as if struck by a sudden thought, and exclaimed
wildly, "What if he has sold Rosa?"

Her friend brought forward every argument and every promise she could
think of to pacify her; and when she had become quite calm, they sang
a few hymns together, and before retiring to rest knelt down side by
side and prayed for strength and guidance in these new troubles.

Flora remained a long time wakeful, thinking of Rosa deserted and
alone. She had formed many projects concerning what was to be seen
and heard and done in Rome; but she forgot them all. She did not even
think of the much-anticipated opera, until she heard from the street
snatches of Norma, whistled or sung by the dispersing audience. A
tenor voice passed the house singing, _Vieni_ _in Roma_. "Ah," thought
she, "Gerald and I used to sing that duet together. And in those
latter days how languishingly he used to look at me, behind her back,
while he sang passionately, '_Ah, deh cedi, cedi a me_!' And poor
cheated Rosa would say, 'Dear Gerald, how much heart you put into your
voice!' O shame, shame! What _could_ I do but run away? Poor Rosa! How
I wish I could hear her sing 'Casta Diva,' as she used to do when we
sat gazing at the moon shedding its soft light over the pines in that
beautiful lonely island."

And so, tossed for a long while on a sea of memories, she finally
drifted into dream-land.

CHAPTER XIX.

While Flora was listlessly gazing at Monte Pincio from the solitude of
her room in the Via delle Quattro Fontane, Rosabella was looking at
the same object, seen at a greater distance, over intervening houses,
from her high lodgings in the Corso. She could see the road winding
like a ribbon round the hill, with a medley of bright colors
continually moving over it. But she was absorbed in revery, and they
floated round and round before her mental eye, like the revolving
shadows of a magic lantern.

She was announced to sing that night, as the new Spanish _prima
donna_, La Senorita Rosita Campaneo; and though she had been applauded
by manager and musicians at the rehearsal that morning, her spirit
shrank from the task. Recent letters from America had caused deep
melancholy; and the idea of singing, not _con amore_, but as a
performer before an audience of entire strangers, filled her with
dismay. She remembered how many times she and Flora and Gerald had
sung together from Norma; and an oppressive feeling of loneliness came
over her. Returning from rehearsal, a few hours before, she had seen
a young Italian girl, who strongly reminded her of her lost sister.
"Ah!" thought she, "if Flora and I had gone out into the world
together, to make our own way, as Madame first intended, how much
sorrow and suffering I might have been spared!" She went to the piano,
where the familiar music of Norma lay open before her, and from the
depths of her saddened soul gushed forth, "_Ah, bello a me Ritorno_."
The last tone passed sighingly away, and as her hands lingered on the
keys, she murmured, "Will my heart pass into it there, before that
crowd of strange faces, as it does here?"

"To be sure it will, dear," responded Madame, who had entered softly
and stood listening to the last strains.

"Ah, if all would hear with _your_ partial ears!" replied Rosabella,
with a glimmering smile. "But they will not. And I may be so
frightened that I shall lose my voice."

"What have you to be afraid of, darling?" rejoined Madame. "It was
more trying to sing at private parties of accomplished musicians, as
you did in Paris; and especially at the palace, where there was such
an _elite_ company. Yet you know that Queen Amelia was so much pleased
with your performance of airs from this same opera, that she sent you
the beautiful enamelled wreath you are to wear to-night."

"What I was singing when you came in wept itself out of the fulness of
my heart," responded Rosabella. "This dreadful news of Tulee and the
baby unfits me for anything. Do you think there is no hope it may
prove untrue?"

"You know the letter explicitly states that my cousin and his wife,
the negro woman, and the white baby, all died of yellow-fever,"
replied Madame. "But don't reproach me for leaving them, darling. I
feel badly enough about it, already. I thought it would be healthy so
far out of the city; and it really seemed the best thing to do with
the poor little _bambino_, until we could get established somewhere."

"I did not intend to reproach you, my kind friend," answered Rosa. "I
know you meant it all for the best. But I had a heavy presentiment of
evil when you first told me they were left. This news makes it hard
for me to keep up my heart for the efforts of the evening. You know I
was induced to enter upon this operatic career mainly by the hope of
educating that poor child, and providing well for the old age of
you and Papa Balbino, as I have learned to call my good friend, the
Signor. And poor Tulee, too,--how much I intended to do for her! No
mortal can ever know what she was to me in the darkest hours of my
life."

"Well, poor Tulee's troubles are all over," rejoined Madame, with a
sigh; "and _bambinos_ escape a great deal of suffering by going out of
this wicked world. For, between you and I, dear, I don't believe one
word about the innocent little souls staying in purgatory on account
of not being baptized."

"O, my friend, if you only _knew_!" exclaimed Rosa, in a wild,
despairing tone. But she instantly checked herself, and said: "I will
try not to think of it; for if I do, I shall spoil my voice; and Papa
Balbino would be dreadfully mortified if I failed, after he had taken
so much pains to have me brought out."

"That is right, darling," rejoined Madame, patting her on the
shoulder. "I will go away, and leave you to rehearse."

Again and again Rosa sang the familiar airs, trying to put soul into
them, by imagining how she would feel if she were in Norma's position.
Some of the emotions she knew by her own experience, and those she
sang with her deepest feeling.

"If I could only keep the same visions before me that I have here
alone, I should sing well to-night," she said to herself; "for now,
when I sing 'Casta Diva,' I seem to be sitting with my arm round dear
little Flora, watching the moon as it rises above the dark pines on
that lonely island."

At last the dreaded hour came. Rosa appeared on the stage with her
train of priestesses. The orchestra and the audience were before her;
and she knew that Papa and Mamma Balbino were watching her from the
side with anxious hearts. She was very pale, and her first notes were
a little tremulous. But her voice soon became clear and strong; and
when she fixed her eyes on the moon, and sang "Casta Diva," the
fulness and richness of the tones took everybody by surprise.

"_Bis! Bis_!" cried the audience; and the chorus was not allowed to
proceed till she had sung it a second and third time. She courtesied
her acknowledgments gracefully. But as she retired, ghosts of the past
went with her; and with her heart full of memories, she seemed to weep
in music, while she sang in Italian, "Restore to mine affliction one
smile of love's protection." Again the audience shouted, "_Bis! Bis_!"

The duet with Adalgisa was more difficult; for she had not yet learned
to be an actress, and she was embarrassed by the consciousness of
being an object of jealousy to the _seconda donna_, partly because
she was _prima_, and partly because the tenor preferred her. But when
Adalgisa sang in Italian the words, "Behold him!" she chanced to
raise her eyes to a box near the stage, and saw the faces of Gerald
Fitzgerald and his wife bending eagerly toward her. She shuddered, and
for an instant her voice failed her. The audience were breathless. Her
look, her attitude, her silence, her tremor, all seemed inimitable
acting. A glance at the foot-lights and at the orchestra recalled the
recollection of where she was, and by a strong effort she controlled
herself; though there was still an agitation in her voice, which the
audience and the singers thought to be the perfection of acting. Again
she glanced at Fitzgerald, and there was terrible power in the tones
with which she uttered, in Italian, "Tremble, perfidious one! Thou
knowest the cause is ample."

Her eyes rested for a moment on Mrs. Fitzgerald, and with a wonderful
depth of pitying sadness, she sang, "O, how his art deceived thee!"

The wish she had formed was realized. She was enabled to give voice to
her own emotions, forgetful of the audience for the time being. And
even in subsequent scenes, when the recollection of being a performer
returned upon her, her inward excitation seemed to float her onward,
like a great wave.

Once again her own feelings took her up, like a tornado, and made her
seem a wonderful actress. In the scene where Norma is tempted to kill
her children, she fixed her indignant gaze full upon Fitzgerald, and
there was an indescribable expression of stern resolution in her
voice, and of pride in the carriage of her queenly head, while she
sang: "Disgrace worse than death awaits them. Slavery? No! never!"

Fitzgerald quailed before it. He grew pale, and slunk back in the
box. The audience had never seen the part so conceived, and a few
criticised it. But her beauty and her voice and her overflowing
feeling carried all before her; and this, also, was accepted as a
remarkable inspiration of theatrical genius.

When the wave of her own excitement was subsiding, the magnetism of an
admiring audience began to affect her strongly. With an outburst of
fury, she sang, "War! War!" The audience cried, "_Bis! Bis_!" and she
sang it as powerfully the second time.

What it was that had sustained and carried her through that terrible
ordeal, she could never understand.

When the curtain dropped, Fitzgerald was about to rush after her; but
his wife caught his arm, and he was obliged to follow. It was an awful
penance he underwent, submitting to this necessary restraint; and
while his soul was seething like a boiling caldron, he was obliged to
answer evasively to Lily's frequent declaration that the superb voice
of this Spanish _prima donna_ was exactly like the wonderful voice
that went wandering round the plantation, like a restless ghost.

Papa and Mamma Balbino were waiting to receive the triumphant
_cantatrice_, as she left the stage. "_Brava! Brava_!" shouted the
Signor, in a great fever of excitement; but seeing how pale she
looked, he pressed her hand in silence, while Madame wrapped her in
shawls. They lifted her into the carriage as quickly as possible,
where her head drooped almost fainting on Madame's shoulder. It
required them both to support her unsteady steps, as they mounted the
stairs to their lofty lodging. She told them nothing that night of
having seen Fitzgerald; and, refusing all refreshment save a sip of
wine, she sank on the bed utterly exhausted.

CHAPTER XX.

She slept late the next day, and woke with a feeling of utter
weariness of body and prostration of spirit. When her dressing-maid
Giovanna came at her summons, she informed her that a gentleman had
twice called to see her, but left no name or card. "Let no one be
admitted to-day but the manager of the opera," said Rosa. "I will
dress now; and if Mamma Balbino is at leisure, I should like to have
her come and talk with me while I breakfast."

"Madame has gone out to make some purchases," replied Giovanna. "She
said she should return soon, and charged me to keep everything quiet,
that you might sleep. The Signor is in his room waiting to speak to
you."

"Please tell him I have waked," said Rosa; "and as soon as I have
dressed and breakfasted, ask him to come to me."

Giovanna, who had been at the opera the preceding evening, felt the
importance of her mission in dressing the celebrated Senorita Rosita
Campaneo, of whose beauty and gracefulness everybody was talking. And
when the process was completed, the _cantatrice_ might well have been
excused if she had thought herself the handsomest of women. The glossy
dark hair rippled over her forehead in soft waves, and the massive
braids behind were intertwisted with a narrow band of crimson velvet,
that glowed like rubies where the sunlight fell upon it. Her morning
wrapper of fine crimson merino, embroidered with gold-colored silk,
was singularly becoming to her complexion, softened as the contact was
by a white lace collar fastened at the throat with a golden pin. But
though she was seated before the mirror, and though her own Spanish
taste had chosen the strong contrast of bright colors, she took no
notice of the effect produced. Her face was turned toward the
window, and as she gazed on the morning sky, all unconscious of its
translucent brilliancy of blue, there was an inward-looking expression
in her luminous eyes that would have made the fortune of an artist, if
he could have reproduced her as a Sibyl. Giovanna looked at her with
surprise, that a lady could be so handsome and so beautifully dressed,
yet not seem to care for it. She lingered a moment contemplating the
superb head with an exultant look, as if it were a picture of her
own painting, and then she went out noiselessly to bring the
breakfast-tray.

The Senorita Campaneo ate with a keener appetite than she had ever
experienced as Rosabella the recluse; for the forces of nature,
exhausted by the exertions of the preceding evening, demanded
renovation. But the services of the cook were as little appreciated as
those of the dressing-maid; the luxurious breakfast was to her simply
food. The mirror was at her side, and Giovanna watched curiously to
see whether she would admire the effect of the crimson velvet gleaming
among her dark hair. But she never once glanced in that direction.
When she had eaten sufficiently, she sat twirling her spoon and
looking into the depths of her cup, as if it were a magic mirror
revealing all the future.

She was just about to say, "Now you may call Papa Balbino," when
Giovanna gave a sudden start, and exclaimed, "Signorita! a gentleman!"

And ere she had time to look round, Fitzgerald was kneeling at her
feet. He seized her hand and kissed it passionately, saying, in an
agony of entreaty: "O Rosabella, do say you forgive me! I am suffering
the tortures of the damned."

The irruption was so sudden and unexpected, that for an instant she
failed to realize it. But her presence of mind quickly returned, and,
forcibly withdrawing the hand to which he clung, she turned to the
astonished waiting-maid and said quite calmly, "Please deliver
_immediately_ the message I spoke of."

Giovanna left the room and proceeded directly to the adjoining
apartment, where Signor Balbino was engaged in earnest conversation
with another gentleman.

Fitzgerald remained kneeling, still pleading vehemently for
forgiveness.

"Mr. Fitzgerald," said she, "this audacity is incredible. I could not
have imagined it possible you would presume ever again to come into my
presence, after having sold me to that infamous man."

"He took advantage of me, Rosa. I was intoxicated with wine, and knew
not what I did. I could not have done it if I had been in my senses.
I have always loved you as I never loved any other woman; and I never
loved you so wildly as now."

"Leave me!" she exclaimed imperiously. "Your being here does me
injury. If you have any manhood in you, leave me!"

He strove to clutch the folds of her robe, and in frenzied tones cried
out: "O Rosabella, don't drive me from you! I can't live without--"

A voice like a pistol-shot broke in upon his sentence: "Villain!
Deceiver! What are you doing here? Out of the house this instant!"

Fitzgerald sprung to his feet, pale with rage, and encountered the
flashing eyes of the Signor. "What right have _you_ to order me out of
the house?" said he.

"I am her adopted father," replied the Italian; "and no man shall
insult her while I am alive."

"So _you_ are installed as her protector!" retorted Fitzgerald,
sneeringly. "You are not the first gallant I have known to screen
himself behind his years."

"By Jupiter!" vociferated the enraged Italian; and he made a spring to
clutch him by the throat.

Fitzgerald drew out a pistol. With a look of utter distress, Rosa
threw herself between them, saying, in imploring accents, "_Will_ you
go?"

At the same moment, a hand rested gently on the Signor's shoulder, and
a manly voice said soothingly, "Be calm, my friend." Then, turning to
Mr. Fitzgerald, the gentleman continued: "Slight as our acquaintance
is, sir, it authorizes me to remind you that scenes like this are
unfit for a lady's apartment."

Fitzgerald slowly replaced his pistol, as he answered coldly: "I
remember your countenance, sir, but I don't recollect where I have
seen it, nor do I understand what right you have to intrude here."

"I met you in New Orleans, something more than four years ago,"
replied the stranger; "and I was then introduced to you by this lady's
father, as Mr. Alfred King of Boston."

"O, I remember," replied Fitzgerald, with a slight curl of his lip. "I
thought you something of a Puritan then; but it seems _you_ are her
protector also."

Mr. King colored to the temples; but he replied calmly: "I know not
whether Miss Royal recognizes me; for I have never seen her since the
evening we spent so delightfully at her father's house."

"I do recognize you," replied Rosabella; "and as the son of my
father's dearest friend, I welcome you."

She held out her hand as she spoke, and he clasped it for an
instant. But though the touch thrilled him, he betrayed no emotion.
Relinquishing it with a respectful bow, he turned to Mr. Fitzgerald,
and said: "You have seen fit to call me a Puritan, and may not
therefore accept me as a teacher of politeness; but if you wish to
sustain the character of a cavalier, you surely will not remain in a
lady's house after she has requested you to quit it."

With a slight shrug of his shoulders, Mr. Fitzgerald took his hat, and
said, "Where ladies command, I am of course bound to obey."

As he passed out of the door, he turned toward Rosabella, and, with a
low bow, said, "_Au revoir_!"

The Signor was trembling with anger, but succeeded in smothering his
half-uttered anathemas. Mr. King compressed his lips tightly for a
moment, as if silence were a painful effort. Then, turning to Rosa, he
said: "Pardon my sudden intrusion, Miss Royal. Your father introduced
me to the Signor, and I last night saw him at the opera. That will
account for my being in his room to-day." He glanced at the Italian
with a smile, as he added: "I heard very angry voices, and I thought,
if there was to be a duel, perhaps the Signor would need a second. You
must be greatly fatigued with exertion and excitement. Therefore, I
will merely congratulate you on your brilliant success last evening,
and wish you good morning."

"I _am_ fatigued," she replied; "but if I bid you good morning now, it
is with the hope of seeing you again soon. The renewal of acquaintance
with one whom my dear father loved is too pleasant to be willingly
relinquished."

"Thank you," he said. But the simple words were uttered with a look
and tone so deep and earnest, that she felt the color rising to her
cheeks.

"Am I then still capable of being moved by such tones?" she asked
herself, as she listened to his departing footsteps, and, for the
first time that morning, turned toward the mirror and glanced at her
own flushed countenance.

"What a time you've been having, dear!" exclaimed Madame, who came
bustling in a moment after. "Only to think of Mr. Fitzgerald's coming
here! His impudence goes a little beyond anything I ever heard of.
Wasn't it lucky that Boston friend should drop down from the skies,
as it were, just at the right minute; for the Signor's such a
flash-in-the-pan, there 's no telling what might have happened. Tell
me all about it, dear."

"I will tell you about it, dear mamma," replied Rosa; "but I must beg
you to excuse me just now; for I am really very much flurried and
fatigued. If you hadn't gone out, I should have told you this morning,
at breakfast, that I saw Mr. and Mrs. Fitzgerald at the opera, and
that I was singing at them in good earnest, while people thought I was
acting. We will talk it all over some time; but now I must study, for
I shall have hard work to keep the ground I have gained. You know I
must perform again to-night. O, how I dread it!"

"You are a strange child to talk so, when you have turned everybody's
head," responded Madame.

"Why should I care for everybody's head?" rejoined the successful
_cantatrice_. But she thought to herself: "I shall not feel, as I did
last night, that I am going to sing _merely_ to strangers. There will
be _one_ there who heard me sing to my dear father. I must try to
recall the intonations that came so naturally last evening, and see
whether I can act what I then felt." She seated herself at the piano,
and began to sing, "_Oh, di qual sei tu vittima_." Then, shaking her
head slowly, she murmured: "No; it doesn't come. I must trust to the
inspiration of the moment. But it is a comfort to know they will not
_all_ be strangers."

* * * * *

Mr. King took an opportunity that same day to call on Mr. Fitzgerald.
He was very haughtily received; but, without appearing to notice
it, he opened his errand by saying, "I have come to speak with you
concerning Miss Royal."

"All I have to say to you, sir," replied Mr. Fitzgerald, "is, that
neither you nor any other man can induce me to give up my pursuit of
her. I will follow her wherever she goes."

"What possible advantage can you gain by such a course?" inquired his
visitor. "Why uselessly expose yourself to disagreeable notoriety,
which must, of course, place Mrs. Fitzgerald in a mortifying
position?"

"How do you know my perseverance would be useless?" asked Fitzgerald.
"Did she send you to tell me so?"

"She does not know of my coming," replied Mr. King. "I have told you
that my acquaintance with Miss Royal is very slight. But you will
recollect that I met her in the freshness of her young life, when she
was surrounded by all the ease and elegance that a father's wealth and
tenderness could bestow; and it was unavoidable that her subsequent
misfortunes should excite my sympathy. She has never told me anything
of her own history, but from others I know all the particulars. It is
not my purpose to allude to them; but after suffering all she _has_
suffered, now that she has bravely made a standing-place for herself,
and has such an arduous career before her, I appeal to your sense of
honor, whether it is generous, whether it is manly, to do anything
that will increase the difficulties of her position."

"It is presumptuous in you, sir, to come here to teach me what is
manly," rejoined Fitzgerald.

"I merely presented the case for the verdict of your own conscience,"
answered his visitor; "but I will again take the liberty to suggest
for your consideration, that if you persecute this unfortunate young
lady with professions you know are unwelcome, it must necessarily
react in a very unpleasant way upon your own reputation, and
consequently upon the happiness of your family."

"You mistook your profession, sir. You should have been a preacher,"
said Fitzgerald, with a sarcastic smile. "I presume you propose to
console the lady for her misfortunes; but let me tell you, sir, that
whoever attempts to come between me and her will do it at his peril."

"I respect Miss Royal too much to hear her name used in any such
discussion," replied Mr. King. "Good morning, sir."

"The mean Yankee!" exclaimed the Southerner, as he looked after him.
"If he were a gentleman he would have challenged me, and I should have
met him like a gentleman; but one doesn't know what to do with such
cursed Yankee preaching."

He was in a very perturbed state of mind. Rosabella had, in fact, made
a much deeper impression on him than any other woman had ever made.
And now that he saw her the bright cynosure of all eyes, fresh fuel
was heaped on the flickering flame of his expiring passion. Her
disdain piqued his vanity, while it produced the excitement of
difficulties to be overcome. He was exasperated beyond measure, that
the beautiful woman who had depended solely upon him should now be
surrounded by protectors. And if he could regain no other power, he
was strongly tempted to exert the power of annoyance. In some moods,
he formed wild projects of waylaying her, and carrying her off by
force. But the Yankee preaching, much as he despised it, was not
without its influence. He felt that it would be most politic to keep
on good terms with his rich wife, who was, besides, rather agreeable
to him. He concluded, on the whole, that he would assume superiority
to the popular enthusiasm about the new _prima donna_; that he would
coolly criticise her singing and her acting, while he admitted that
she had many good points. It was a hard task he undertook; for on the
stage Rosabella attracted him with irresistible power, to which was
added the magnetism of the admiring audience. After the first evening,
she avoided looking at the box where he sat; but he had an uneasy
satisfaction in the consciousness that it was impossible she could
forget he was present and watching her.

The day after the second appearance of the Senorita Campaneo, Mrs.
Delano was surprised by another call from the Fitzgeralds.

"Don't think we intend to persecute you," said the little lady. "We
merely came on business. We have just heard that you were to leave
Rome very soon; but Mr. Green seemed to think it couldn't be so soon
as was said."

"Unexpected circumstances make it necessary for me to return sooner
than I intended," replied Mrs. Delano. "I expect to sail day after
to-morrow."

"What a pity your daughter should go without hearing the new _prima
donna_!" exclaimed Mrs. Fitzgerald. "She is really a remarkable
creature. Everybody says she is as beautiful as a houri. And as for
her voice, I never heard anything like it, except the first night I
spent on Mr. Fitzgerald's plantation. There was somebody wandering
about in the garden and groves who sang just like her. Mr. Fitzgerald
didn't seem to be much struck with the voice, but I could never forget
it."

"It was during our honeymoon," replied her husband; "and how could I
be interested in any other voice, when I had yours to listen to?"

His lady tapped him playfully with her parasol, saying: "O, you
flatterer! But I wish I could get a chance to speak to this Senorita.
I would ask her if she had ever been in America."

"I presume not," rejoined Mr. Fitzgerald. "They say an Italian
musician heard her in Andalusia, and was so much charmed with her
voice that he adopted her and educated her for the stage; and he named
her Campaneo, because there is such a bell-like echo in her voice
sometimes. Do you think, Mrs. Delano, that it would do your daughter
any serious injury to go with us this evening? We have a spare
ticket; and we would take excellent care of her. If she found herself
fatigued, I would attend upon her home any time she chose to leave."

"It would be too exciting for her nerves," was Mrs. Delano's laconic
answer.

"The fact is," said Mrs. Fitzgerald, "Mr. Green has told us so much
about her, that we are extremely anxious to be introduced to her.
He says she hasn't half seen Rome, and he wishes she could join our
party. I wish we could persuade you to leave her with us. I can assure
you Mr. Fitzgerald is a most agreeable and gallant protector to
ladies. And then it is such a pity, when she is so musical, that she
should go without hearing this new _prima donna_."

"Thank you," rejoined Mrs. Delano; "but we have become so much
attached to each other's society, that I don't think either of us
could be happy separated. Since she cannot hear this musical wonder, I
shall not increase her regrets by repeating your enthusiastic account
of what she has missed."

"If you had been present at her _debut_, you wouldn't wonder at my
enthusiasm," replied the little lady. "Mr. Fitzgerald is getting over
the fever a little now, and undertakes to criticise. He says she
overacted her part; that she 'tore a passion to tatters,' and all
that. But I never saw him so excited as he was then. I think she
noticed it; for she fixed her glorious dark eyes directly upon our box
while she was singing several of her most effective passages."

"My dear," interrupted her husband, "you are so opera-mad, that you
are forgetting the object of your call."

"True," replied she. "We wanted to inquire whether you were certainly
going so soon, and whether any one had engaged these rooms. We took a
great fancy to them. What a desirable situation! So sunny! Such a fine
view of Monte Pincio and the Pope's gardens!"

"They were not engaged last evening," answered Mrs. Delano.

"Then you will secure them immediately, won't you, dear?" said the
lady, appealing to her spouse.

With wishes that the voyage might prove safe and pleasant, they
departed. Mrs. Delano lingered a moment at the window, looking out
upon St. Peter's and the Etruscan Hills beyond, thinking the while how
strangely the skeins of human destiny sometimes become entangled with
each other. Yet she was unconscious of half the entanglement.

CHAPTER XXI.

The engagement of the Senorita Rosita Campaneo was for four weeks,
during which Mr. King called frequently and attended the opera
constantly. Every personal interview, and every vision of her on the
stage, deepened the impression she made upon him when they first met.
It gratified him to see that, among the shower of bouquets she was
constantly receiving, his was the one she usually carried; nor was she
unobservant that he always wore a fresh rose. But she was unconscious
of his continual guardianship, and he was careful that she should
remain so. Every night that she went to the opera and returned from
it, he assumed a dress like the driver's, and sat with him on the
outside of the carriage,--a fact known only to Madame and the Signor,
who were glad enough to have a friend at hand in case Mr. Fitzgerald
should attempt any rash enterprise. Policemen were secretly employed
to keep the _cantatrice_ in sight, whenever she went abroad for air or
recreation. When she made excursions out of the city in company with
her adopted parents, Mr. King was always privately informed of it, and
rode in the same direction; at a sufficient distance, however, not
to be visible to her, or to excite gossiping remarks by appearing to
others to be her follower. Sometimes he asked himself: "What would my
dear prudential mother say, to see me leaving my business to
agents and clerks, while I devote my life to the service of an
opera-singer?--an opera-singer, too, who has twice been on the verge
of being sold as a slave, and who has been the victim of a sham
marriage!" But though such queries jostled against conventional ideas
received from education, they were always followed by the thought: "My
dear mother has gone to a sphere of wider vision, whence she can look
down upon the merely external distinctions of this deceptive world.
Rosabella must be seen as a pure, good soul, in eyes that see as the
angels do; and as the defenceless daughter of my father's friend,
it is my duty to protect her." So he removed from his more eligible
lodgings in the Piazza di Spagna, and took rooms in the Corso,
nearly opposite to hers, where day by day he continued his invisible
guardianship.

He had reason, at various times, to think his precautions were not
entirely unnecessary. He had several times seen a figure resembling
Fitzgerald's lurking about the opera-house, wrapped in a cloak, and
with a cap very much drawn over his face. Once Madame and the Signor,
having descended from the carriage, with Rosa, to examine the tomb of
Cecilia Metella, were made a little uneasy by the appearance of four
rude-looking fellows, who seemed bent upon lurking in their vicinity.
But they soon recognized Mr. King in the distance, and not far from
him the disguised policemen in his employ. The fears entertained by
her friends were never mentioned to Rosa, and she appeared to feel no
uneasiness when riding in daylight with the driver and her adopted
parents. She was sometimes a little afraid when leaving the opera late
at night; but there was a pleasant feeling of protection in the idea
that a friend of her father's was in Rome, who knew better than the
Signor how to keep out of quarrels. That recollection also operated
as an additional stimulus to excellence in her art. This friend had
expressed himself very highly gratified by her successful _debut_,
and that consideration considerably increased her anxiety to sustain
herself at the height she had attained. In some respects that was
impossible; for the thrilling circumstances of the first evening could
not again recur to set her soul on fire. Critics generally said she
never equalled her first acting; though some maintained that what she
had lost in power she had gained in a more accurate conception of the
character. Her voice was an unfailing source of wonder and delight.
They were never weary of listening to that volume of sound, so full
and clear, so flexible in its modulations, so expressive in its
intonations.

As the completion of her engagement drew near, the manager was eager
for its renewal; and finding that she hesitated, he became more and
more liberal in his offers. Things were in this state, when Mr. King
called upon Madame one day while Rosa was absent at rehearsal. "She is
preparing a new aria for her last evening, when they will be sure to
encore the poor child to death," said Madame. "It is very flattering,
but very tiresome; and to my French ears their '_Bis! Bis_!' sounds
too much like a hiss."

"Will she renew her engagement, think you?" inquired Mr. King.

"I don't know certainly," replied Madame. "The manager makes very
liberal offers; but she hesitates. She seldom alludes to Mr.
Fitzgerald, but I can see that his presence is irksome to her; and
then his sudden irruption into her room, as told by Giovanna, has
given rise to some green-room gossip. The tenor is rather too
assiduous in his attentions, you know; and the _seconda donna_ is her
enemy, because she has superseded her in his affections. These things
make her wish to leave Rome; but I tell her she will have to encounter
very much the same anywhere."

"Madame," said the young man, "you stand in the place of a mother
to Miss Royal; and as such, I have a favor to ask of you. Will you,
without mentioning the subject to her, enable me to have a private
interview with her to-morrow morning?"

"You are aware that it is contrary to her established rule to see any
gentleman, except in the presence of myself or Papa Balbino. But you
have manifested so much delicacy, as well as friendliness, that we all
feel the utmost confidence in you." She smiled significantly as she
added: "If I slip out of the room, as it were by accident, I don't
believe I shall find it very difficult to make my peace with her."

Alfred King looked forward to the next morning with impatience; yet
when he found himself, for the first time, alone with Rosabella, he
felt painfully embarrassed. She glanced at the fresh rose he wore,
but could not summon courage to ask whether roses were his favorite
flowers. He broke the momentary silence by saying: "Your performances
here have been a source of such inexpressible delight to me, Miss
Royal, that it pains me to think of such a thing as a last evening."

"Thank you for calling me by that name," she replied. "It carries me
back to a happier time. I hardly know myself as La Senorita Campaneo.
It all seems to me so strange and unreal, that, were it not for a few
visible links with the past, I should feel as if I had died and passed
into another world."

"May I ask whether you intend to renew your engagement?" inquired he.

She looked up quickly and earnestly, and said, "What would you advise
me?"

"The brevity of our acquaintance would hardly warrant my assuming the
office of adviser," replied he modestly.

The shadow of a blush flitted over her face, as she answered, in a
bashful way: "Excuse me if the habit of associating you with the
memory of my father makes me forget the shortness of our acquaintance.
Beside, you once asked me if ever I was in trouble to call upon you as
I would upon a brother."

"It gratifies me beyond measure that you should remember my offer, and
take me at my word," responded he. "But in order to judge for you, it
is necessary to know something of your own inclinations. Do you enjoy
the career on which you have entered?"

"I should enjoy it if the audience were all my personal friends,"
answered she. "But I have lived such a very retired life, that I
cannot easily become accustomed to publicity; and there is something
I cannot exactly define, that troubles me with regard to operas. If
I could perform only in pure and noble characters, I think it would
inspire me; for then I should represent what I at least wish to be;
but it affects me like a discord to imagine myself in positions which
in reality I should scorn and detest."

"I am not surprised to hear you express this feeling," responded he.
"I had supposed it must be so. It seems to me the _libretti_ of operas
are generally singularly ill conceived, both morally and artistically.
Music is in itself so pure and heavenly, that it seems a desecration
to make it the expression of vile incidents and vapid words. But is
the feeling of which you speak sufficiently strong to induce you to
retire from the brilliant career now opening before you, and devote
yourself to concert-singing?"

"There is one thing that makes me hesitate," rejoined she. "I wish
to earn money fast, to accomplish certain purposes I have at heart.
Otherwise, I don't think I care much for the success you call so
brilliant. It is certainly agreeable to feel that I delight the
audience, though they are strangers; but their cries of '_Bis! Bis_!'
give me less real pleasure than it did to have Papasito ask me to sing
over something that he liked. I seem to see him now, as he used to
listen to me in our flowery parlor. Do you remember that room, Mr.
King?"

"Do I _remember_ it?" he said, with a look and emphasis so earnest
that a quick blush suffused her eloquent face. "I see that room as
distinctly as you can see it," he continued. "It has often been in my
dreams, and the changing events of my life have never banished it from
my memory for a single day. How _could I_ forget it, when my heart
there received its first and only deep impression. I have loved you
from the first evening I saw you. Judging that your affections were
pre-engaged, I would gladly have loved another, if I could; but though
I have since met fascinating ladies, none of them have interested me
deeply."

An expression of pain passed over her face while she listened, and
when he paused she murmured softly, "I am sorry."

"Sorry!" echoed he. "Is it then impossible for me to inspire you with
sentiments similar to my own?"

"I am sorry," she replied, "because a first, fresh love, like yours,
deserves better recompense than it could receive from a bruised and
worn-out heart like mine. I can never experience the illusion of love
again. I have suffered too deeply."

"I do not wish you to experience the _illusion_ of love again," he
replied. "But my hope is that the devotion of my life may enable you
to experience the true and tender _reality_" He placed his hand gently
and timidly upon hers as he spoke, and looked in her face earnestly.

Without raising her eyes she said, "I suppose you are aware that my
mother was a slave, and that her daughters inherited her misfortune."

"I am aware of it," he replied. "But that only makes me ashamed of my
country, not of her or of them. Do not, I pray you, pain yourself or
me by alluding to any of the unfortunate circumstances of your
past life, with the idea that they can depreciate your value in my
estimation. From Madame and the Signor I have learned the whole story
of your wrongs and your sufferings. Fortunately, my good father taught
me, both by precept and example, to look through the surface of things
to the reality. I have seen and heard enough to be convinced that your
own heart is noble and pure. Such natures cannot be sullied by the
unworthiness of others; they may even be improved by it. The famous
Dr. Spurzheim says, he who would have the best companion for his life
should choose a woman who has suffered. And though I would gladly have
saved you from suffering, I cannot but see that your character has
been elevated by it. Since I have known you here in Rome, I have been
surprised to observe how the young romantic girl has ripened into the
thoughtful, prudent woman. I will not urge you for an answer now, my
dear Miss Royal. Take as much time as you please to reflect upon it.
Meanwhile, if you choose to devote your fine musical genius to the
opera, I trust you will allow me to serve you in any way that a
brother could under similar circumstances. If you prefer to be a
concert-singer, my father had a cousin who married in England, where
she has a good deal of influence in the musical world. I am sure she
would take a motherly interest in you, both for your own sake and
mine. Your romantic story, instead of doing you injury in England,
would make you a great lioness, if you chose to reveal it."

"I should dislike that sort of attention," she replied hastily. "Do
not suppose, however, that I am ashamed of my dear mother, or of her
lineage; but I wish to have any interest I excite founded on my own
merits, not on any extraneous circumstance. But you have not yet
advised me whether to remain on the stage or to retire from it."

"If I presumed that my opinion would decide the point," rejoined he,
"I should be diffident about expressing it in a case so important to
yourself."

"You are very delicate," she replied. "But I conjecture that you would
be best pleased if I decided in favor of concert-singing."

While he was hesitating what to say, in order to leave her in perfect
freedom, she added: "And so, if you will have the goodness to
introduce me to your relative, and she is willing to be my patroness,
I will try my fortune in England. Of course she ought to be informed
of my previous history; but I should prefer to have her consider
it strictly confidential. And now, if you please, I will say, _An
revoir_; for Papa Balbino is waiting for some instructions on matters
of business."

She offered her hand with a very sweet smile. He clasped it with a
slight pressure, bowed his head upon it for an instant, and said, with
deep emotion: "Thank you, dearest of women. You send me away a happy
man; for hope goes with me."

When the door closed after him, she sank into a chair, and covered her
face with both her hands. "How different is his manner of making love
from that of Gerald," thought she. "Surely, I can trust _this_ time.
O, if I was only worthy of such love!"

Her revery was interrupted by the entrance of Madame and the Signor.
She answered their inquisitive looks by saying, rather hastily, "When
you told Mr. King the particulars of my story, did you tell him about
the poor little _bambino_ I left in New Orleans?"

Madame replied, "I mentioned to him how the death of the poor little
thing afflicted you."

Rosa made no response, but occupied herself with selecting some pieces
of music connected with the performance at the opera.

The Signor, as he went out with the music, said, "Do you suppose she
didn't want him to know about the _bambino_?"

"Perhaps she is afraid he will think her heartless for leaving it,"
replied Madame. "But I will tell her I took all the blame on myself.
If she is so anxious about his good opinion, it shows which way the
wind blows."

The Senorita Rosita Campaneo and her attendants had flitted, no one
knew whither, before the public were informed that her engagement was
not to be renewed. Rumor added that she was soon to be married to a
rich American, who had withdrawn her from the stage.

"Too much to be monopolized by one man," said Mr. Green to Mr.
Fitzgerald. "Such a glorious creature belongs to the world."

"Who is the happy man?" inquired Mrs. Fitzgerald.

"They say it is King, that pale-faced Puritan from Boston," rejoined
her husband. "I should have given her credit for better taste."

In private, he made all possible inquiries; but merely succeeded in
tracing them to a vessel at Civita Vecchia, bound to Marseilles.

To the public, the fascinating _prima donna_, who had rushed up from
the horizon like a brilliant rocket, and disappeared as suddenly, was
only a nine-days wonder. Though for some time after, when opera-goers
heard any other _cantatrice_ much lauded, they would say: "Ah, you
should have heard the Campaneo! Such a voice! She rose to the highest
D as easily as she breathed. And such glorious eyes!"

CHAPTER XXII.

While Rosabella was thus exchanging the laurel crown for the myrtle
wreath, Flora and her friend were on their way to search the places
that had formerly known her. Accompanied by Mr. Jacobs, who had long
been a steward in her family, Mrs. Delano passed through Savannah,
without calling on her friend Mrs. Welby, and in a hired boat
proceeded to the island. Flora almost flew over the ground, so great
was her anxiety to reach the cottage. Nature, which pursues her course
with serene indifference to human vicissitudes, wore the same smiling
aspect it had worn two years before, when she went singing through the
woods, like Cinderella, all unconscious of the beneficent fairy she
was to meet there in the form of a new Mamita. Trees and shrubs were
beautiful with young, glossy foliage. Pines and firs offered their
aromatic incense to the sun. Birds were singing, and bees gathering
honey from the wild-flowers. A red-headed woodpecker was hammering
away on the umbrageous tree under which Flora used to sit while busy
with her sketches. He cocked his head to listen as they approached,
and, at first sight of them, flew up into the clear blue air, with
undulating swiftness. To Flora's great disappointment, they found all
the doors fastened; but Mr. Jacobs entered by a window and opened one
of them. The cottage had evidently been deserted for a considerable
time. Spiders had woven their tapestry in all the corners. A pane had
apparently been cut out of the window their attendant had opened, and
it afforded free passage to the birds. On a bracket of shell-work,
which Flora had made to support a vase of flowers, was a deserted
nest, bedded in soft green moss, which hung from it in irregular
streamers and festoons.

"How pretty!" said Mrs. Delano. "If the little creature had studied
the picturesque, she couldn't have devised anything more graceful. Let
us take it, bracket and all, and carry it home carefully."

"That was the very first shell-work I made after we came from Nassau,"
rejoined Flora. "I used to put fresh flowers on it every morning, to
please Rosa. Poor Rosa! Where _can_ she be?"

She turned away her head, and was silent for a moment. Then, pointing
to the window, she said: "There's that dead pine-tree I told you I
used to call Old Man of the Woods. He is swinging long pennants of
moss on his arms, just as he did when I was afraid to look at him in
the moonlight."

She was soon busy with a heap of papers swept into a corner of the
room she used to occupy. They were covered with sketches of leaves and
flowers, and embroidery-patterns, and other devices with which she had
amused herself in those days. Among them she was delighted to find
the head and shoulders of Thistle, with a garland round his neck. In
Rosa's sleeping-room, an old music-book, hung with cobwebs, leaned
against the wall.

"O Mamita Lila, I am glad to find this!" exclaimed Flora. "Here is
what Rosa and I used to sing to dear papa when we were ever so little.
He always loved old-fashioned music. Here are some of Jackson's
canzonets, that were his favorites." She began to hum, "Time has not
thinned my flowing hair." "Here is Dr. Arne's 'Sweet Echo.' Rosa used
to play and sing that beautifully. And here is what he always liked to
have us sing to him at sunset. We sang it to him the very night before
he died." She began to warble, "Now Phoebus sinketh in the west."
"Why, it seems as if I were a little girl again, singing to Papasito
and Mamita," said she.

Looking up, she saw that Mrs. Delano had covered her face with her
handkerchief; and closing the music-book, she nestled to her side,
affectionately inquiring what had troubled her. For a little while her
friend pressed her hand in silence.

"O darling," said she, "what a strange, sad gift is memory! I sang
that to your father the last time we ever saw the sunset together; and
perhaps when he heard it he used to see me sometimes, as plainly as I
now see him. It is consoling to think he did not quite forget me."

"When we go home, I will sing it to you every evening if you would
like it, Mamita Lila," said Flora.

Her friend patted her head fondly, and said: "You must finish your
researches soon, darling; for I think we had better go to Magnolia
Lawn to see if Tom and Chloe can be found."

"How shall we get there? It's too far for you to walk, and poor
Thistle's gone," said Flora.

"I have sent Mr. Jacobs to the plantation," replied Mrs. Delano, "and
I think he will find some sort of vehicle. Meanwhile, you had better
be getting together any little articles you want to carry away."

As Flora took up the music-book, some of the loose leaves fell out,
and with them came a sketch of Tulee's head, with the large gold hoops
and the gay turban. "Here's Tulee!" shouted Flora. "It isn't well
drawn, but it _is_ like her. I'll make a handsome picture from it, and
frame it, and hang it by my bedside, where I can see it every morning.
Dear, good Tulee! How she jumped up and kissed us when we first
arrived here. I suppose she thinks I am dead, and has cried a great
deal about little Missy Flory. O, what wouldn't I give to see her!"

She had peeped about everywhere, and was becoming very much dispirited

Book of the day: