Part 4 out of 7
"Oh, well, you've seen him, you know."
"Yes; but what has he got to do with it?"
"Why, I'll get you to take me, and I'll go to him, and tell him all
about it, and about all these horrid men; and I'll ask him if he can't
do something or other to help me. They have dispensations and things,
you know, that the Pope gives; and I want him to let me dispense with
these awful people."
"Nonsense!" said Mrs. Willoughby.
"I don't see any nonsense in it at all. I'm in earnest," said Minnie;
"and I think it's a great shame."
"Nonsense!" said her sister again; "the only thing is for you to stay
in your room."
"But I don't want to stay in my room, and I can't."
"Oh dear! what can I do with this child?" exclaimed Mrs. Willoughby,
whose patience was giving way.
Upon this Minnie went over and kissed her, and begged to be forgiven;
and offered to do any thing that darling Kitty wanted her to do.
After this they talked a good deal over their difficulty, but without
being able to see their way out of it more clearly.
That evening they were walking up and down the balcony of the house.
It was a quadrangular edifice, and they had a suite of rooms on the
second and third stories. They were on the balcony of the third story,
which looked down into the court yard below. A fountain was in the
middle of this, and the moon was shining brightly.
The ladies were standing looking down, when Minnie gently touched her
sister's arm, and whispered,
"Look at the man!"
"By the fountain."
Mrs. Willoughby looked, and saw the face of a man who was standing on
the other side of the fountain. His head rose above it, and his face
was turned toward them. He evidently did not know that he was seen,
but was watching the ladies, thinking that he himself was unobserved.
The moment that Mrs. Willoughby looked at the face she recognized it.
"Come in," said she to Minnie. And drawing her sister after her, she
went into the house.
"I knew the face; didn't you, Kitty dear?" said Minnie. "It's so easy
to tell it. It was Scone Dacres. But what in the world does he want?
Oh dear! I hope _he_ won't bother me."
Judging from the Baron's own words, it will be perceived that his
comprehension of the situation was a little different from the actual
fact. His idea was that his last letter had been received by Minnie in
England, whereupon she had been seized with such an ungovernable
longing to see him that she at once set out for Rome. She had not sent
him any message, for she wished to surprise him. She had done so
effectually. He was not merely surprised; he was overwhelmed,
overjoyed, intoxicated with joy. This was indeed kind, he thought--the
true part of a fond girl, who thus cast aside all silly scruples, and
followed the dictates of her own noble and loving heart.
Now the fact that he had made a partial failure of his first visit to
his charmer did not in the slightest degree disconcert him. He was
naturally joyous, hilarious, and sanguine. His courage never faltered,
nor could the brightness of his soul be easily dimmed. A
disappointment on one day gave him but little trouble. It was quickly
thrown off, and then his buoyant spirit looked forward for better
fortune on the next day. The little disappointment which he had did
not, therefore, prevent him from letting his reason feast and his soul
flow with Lord Hawbury; nor, when that festive season was over, did it
prevent him from indulging in the brightest anticipations for the
On the afternoon of that day, then, the Baron directed his steps
toward the hotel where his charmer resided, his heart beating high,
and the generous blood mantling his cheek, and all that sort of thing.
But the Baron was not alone. He had a companion, and this companion
was an acquaintance whom he had made that morning. This companion was
very tall, very thin, very sallow, with long, straggling locks of
rusty black hair, white neck-tie, and a suit of rather seedy black
clothes. In fact, it was the very stranger who had been arrested
almost under his eyes as a Garibaldian. His case had come under the
notice of the Baron, who had visited him, and found him not to be a
Garibaldian at all, but a fellow-countryman in distress--in short, no
less a person than the Reverend Saul Tozer, an esteemed clergyman, who
had been traveling through Europe for the benefit of his health and
the enlargement of his knowledge. This fellow-countryman in distress
had at once been released by the Baron's influence; and, not content
with giving him his liberty, he determined to take him under his
protection, and offered to introduce him to society; all of which
generous offices were fully appreciated by the grateful clergyman.
The Baron's steps were first directed toward the place above
mentioned, and the Reverend Saul accompanied him. On reaching it he
knocked, and asked for Miss Fay.
"Not at home," was the reply.
"Oh, well," said he, "I'll go in and wait till she comes home. Come
along, parson, and make yourself quite at home. Oh, never mind, young
man," he continued to the servant; "I know the way. Come along,
parson." And with these words he led the way into the reception-room,
in which he had been before.
An elderly lady was seated there whom the Baron recognized as having
seen before. It was Lady Dalrymple, whose name was, of course, unknown
to him, since he had only exchanged a few words on his former visit.
But as he was naturally chivalrous, and as he was bent on making
friends with all in the house, and as he was also in a glorious state
of good-will to the entire human race, he at once advanced to the lady
and made a low bow.
"How do you do, ma'am?"
Lady Dalrymple bowed good-naturedly, for she was good-natured to a
"I suppose you remember me, ma'am," said the Baron, in rather a loud
voice; for, as the lady was elderly, he had a vague idea that she was
deaf--which impression, I may mention, was altogether unfounded--"I
suppose you remember me, ma'am? But I haven't had the pleasure of a
regular introduction to you; so we'll waive ceremony, if you choose,
and I'll introduce myself. I'm the Baron Atramonte, and this is my
very particular friend, the Reverend Saul Tozer."
"I'm happy to make your acquaintance," said Lady Dalrymple, with a
smile, and not taking the Baron's offered hand--not, however, from
pride, but simply from laziness--for she hated the bother, and didn't
consider it good taste.
"I called here, ma'am," said the Baron, without noticing that Lady
Dalrymple had not introduced _herself_--"I called here, ma'am, to see
my young friend, Miss Minnie Fay. I'm very sorry that she ain't at
home; but since I _am_ here, I rather think I'll just set down and
wait for her. I s'pose you couldn't tell me, ma'am, about how long
it'll be before she comes in?"
Lady Dalrymple hadn't any idea.
"All right," said the Baron; "the longer she keeps me waiting, the
more welcome she'll be when she does come. That's all I've got to
So the Baron handed a chair to the Reverend Saul, and then selecting
another for himself in a convenient position, he ensconced himself in
it as snugly as possible, and sat in silence for a few minutes. Lady
Dalrymple took no notice of him whatever, but appeared to be engrossed
with some trifle of needle-work.
After about five minutes the Baron resumed the task of making himself
He cleared his throat.
"Long in these parts, ma'am?" he asked.
"Not very long," said Lady Dalrymple, with her usual bland
"A nice place this," continued the Baron.
"And do you keep your health, ma'am?" inquired the Baron, with some
"Thanks," said Lady Dalrymple; which observation set the Baron's mind
wondering what she meant by that.
"Pray, ma'am," said he, after a pause, "might you be any relation to a
young lady friend of mine that's staying here named Minnie Fay?"
"A little," said Lady Dalrymple; which remark set the Baron again
wondering. And he was about to return to the charge with another and
more direct question, when his attention was arrested by the sound of
footsteps on the stairs; so he sat bolt upright, and stared hard at
the door. There was the rustle of a dress. The Baron rose. So did the
Reverend Saul Tozer. The lady appeared. It was not Minnie. It was Mrs.
Now during the Baron's visit there had been some excitement up stairs.
The ladies had told the servants that they were not at home to any
callers that day. They had found with consternation how carelessly the
Baron had brushed aside their little cobweb regulation, and had heard
his voice as he strove to keep up an easy conversation with their
aunt. Whereupon an earnest debate arose. They felt that it was not
fair to leave their aunt alone with the Baron, and that one of them
should go to the rescue. To Mrs. Willoughby's amazement, Minnie was
anxious to go. To this she utterly objected. Minnie insisted, and Mrs.
Willoughby was in despair. In vain she reproached that most whimsical
of young ladies. In vain she reminded her of the Baron's rudeness on a
former occasion. Minnie simply reminded her that the Baron had saved
her life. At last Mrs. Willoughby actually had to resort to
entreaties, and thus she persuaded Minnie not to go down. So she went
down herself, but in fear and trembling, for she did not know at what
moment her voluble and utterly unreliable sister might take it into
her head to follow her.
The Baron, who had risen, full of expectation, stood looking at her,
full of disappointment, which was very strongly marked on his face.
Then he recollected that Minnie was "not at home," and that he must
wait till she did get home. This thought, and the hope that he would
not now have long to wait, brought back his friendly glow, and his
calm and his peace and his good-will toward the whole human race,
including the ladies in the room. He therefore bowed very low, and,
advancing, he made an effort to shake hands; but Mrs. Willoughby had
already known the dread pressure which the Baron gave, and evaded him
by a polite bow. Thereupon the Baron introduced the Reverend Saul
The Baron took out his watch, looked at it, frowned, coughed, put it
back, and then drummed with his fingers on the arm of the chair.
"Will it be long, ma'am," asked the Baron, "before Minnie gets back?"
"She is not out," said Mrs. Willoughby.
"Why, the thundering fool of a servant went and told me that she was
not at home!"
"She is at home," said Mrs. Willoughby, sweetly.
"What! at home!" cried the Baron. "And does she know _I'm_ here?"
"Then why in thunder don't she come down?" cried the Baron,
"Because she is indisposed."
This was the information which Mrs. Willoughby had decided to give to
the Baron. Minnie had stipulated that his feelings should not be hurt;
and this seemed to her to be the easiest mode of dealing with him.
"Indisposed!" cried the Baron.
"Oh dear! Oh, I hope, ma'am--I do hope, ma'am, that she ain't very
bad. Is it any thing serious--or what?"
"Not _very_ serious; she has to keep her room, though."
"She ain't sick abed, I hope?"
"Oh no--not so bad as that!"
"Oh dear! it's all _me_, I know. _I'm_ to blame. She made this
journey--the poor little pet!--just to see me; and the fatigue and the
excitement have all been too much. Oh, I might have known it! Oh, I
remember now how pale she looked yesterday! Oh dear! what'll I do if
any thing happens to her? Oh, do tell me--is she better?--did she pass
a good night?--does she suffer any pain?--can I do any thing for
her?--will you take a little message from me to her?"
"She is quite easy now, thanks," said Mrs. Willoughby; "but we have to
keep her perfectly quiet; the slightest excitement may be dangerous."
Meanwhile the Reverend Saul had become wearied with sitting dumb, and
began to look around for some suitable means of taking part in the
conversation. As the Baron had introduced him to society, he felt that
it was his duty to take some part so as to assert himself both as a
man, a scholar, and a clergyman. So, as he found the Baron was
monopolizing Mrs. Willoughby, he gradually edged over till he came
within ear-shot of Lady Dalrymple, and then began to work his way
toward a conversation.
"This, ma'am," he began, "is truly an interesting spot."
Lady Dalrymple bowed.
"Yes, ma'am. I've been for the past few days surveying the ruins of
antiquity. It is truly a soul-stirring spectacle."
"So I have heard," remarked Lady Dalrymple. cheerfully.
"Every thing around us, ma'am," continued the Reverend Saul, in a
dismal voice, "is subject to dissolution, or is actually dissolving.
How forcible air the words of the Psalmist: 'Our days air as the
grass, or like the morning flower; when blasting winds sweep o'er the
vale, they wither in an hour.' Yes, ma'am, I have this week stood in
the Roman Forum. The Coliseum, also, ma'am, is a wonderful place. It
was built by the Flavian emperors, and when completed could hold
eighty thousand spectators seated, with about twenty thousand
standing. In hot weather these spectators were protected from the rays
of the sun by means of awnings. It is a mighty fabric, ma'am!"
"I should think so," said Lady Dalrymple.
"The arch of Titus, ma'am, is a fine ruin. It was originally built by
the emperor of that name to commemorate the conquest of Jerusalem. The
arch of Septimius Severus was built by the Emperor of that name, and
the arch of Constantino was built by the emperor of _that_ name. They
are all very remarkable structures."
"I'm charmed to hear you say so."
"It's true, ma'am; but let me add, ma'am, that the ruins of this
ancient city do not offer to my eyes a spectacle half so melancholy as
the great moral ruin which is presented by the modern city. For,
ma'am, when I look around, what do I see? I behold the Babylon of the
Apocalypse! Pray, ma'am, have you ever reflected much on that?"
"Not to any great extent," said Lady Dalrymple, who now began to feel
bored, and so arose to her feet. The Reverend Saul Tozer was just
getting on a full head of conversational steam, and was just fairly
under way, when this sad and chilling occurrence took place. She rose
and bowed to the gentlemen, and began to retreat.
All this time the Baron had been pouring forth to Mrs. Willoughby his
excited interrogatories about Minnie's health, and had asked her to
take a message. This Mrs. Willoughby refused at first.
"Oh no!" said she; "it will really disturb her too much. What she
wants most is perfect quiet. Her health is really _very_ delicate, and
I am _excessively_ anxious about her."
"But does she--does she--is she--can she walk about her own room?"
stammered the Baron.
"A little," said Mrs. Willoughby. "Oh, I hope in a few weeks she may
be able to come down. But the very _greatest_ care and quiet are
needed, for she is in such a _very_ delicate state that we watch her
night and day."
"A few weeks!" echoed the Baron, in dismay. "Watch her night and day!"
"Oh, you know, it is the only chance for her recovery. She is _so_
The Baron looked at Mrs. Willoughby with a pale face, upon which there
was real suffering and real misery.
"Can't I do something?" he gasped. "Won't you take a message to her?
It ought to do her good. Perhaps she thinks I'm neglecting her.
Perhaps she thinks I ain't here enough. Tell her I'm ready to give up
my office, and even my title of nobility, and come and live here, if
it'll be any comfort to her."
"Oh, really, Sir, you _quite_ mistake her," said Mrs. Willoughby. "It
has no reference to you whatever. It's a nervous affection,
accompanied with general debility and neuralgia."
"Oh no, you don't know her," said the Baron, incredulously. "I _know_
her. I know what it is. But she walks, don't she?"
"Yes, a little--just across the room; still, even that is too much.
She is _very, very_ weak, and must be _quite_ kept free from
excitement. Even the excitement of your visits is bad for her. Her
pulse is--is--always--accelerated--and--she--I--Oh, dear me!"
While Mrs. Willoughby had been making up this last sentence she was
startled by a rustling on the stairs. It was the rustle of a female's
dress. An awful thought occurred to her, which distracted her, and
confused her in the middle of her sentence, and made her scarce able
to articulate her words. And as she spoke them the rustle drew nearer,
and she heard the sound of feet descending the stairs, until at last
the footsteps approached the door, and Mrs. Willoughby, to her utter
horror, saw Minnie herself.
Now as to the Baron, in the course of his animated conversation with
Mrs. Willoughby, and in his excited entreaties to her to carry a
message up to the invalid, he had turned round with his back to the
door. It was about the time that Lady Dalrymple had begun to beat a
retreat. As she advanced the Baron saw her, and, with his usual
politeness, moved ever so far to one side, bowing low as he did so.
Lady Dalrymple passed, the Baron raised himself, and as Mrs.
Willoughby was yet speaking, and had just reached the exclamation
which concluded her last remark, he was astounded by the sudden
appearance of Minnie herself at the door.
The effect of this sudden appearance was overwhelming. Mrs. Willoughby
stood thunder-struck, and the Baron utterly bewildered. The latter
recovered his faculties first. It was just as Lady Dalrymple was
passing out. With a bound he sprang toward Minnie, and caught her in
his arms, uttering a series of inarticulate cries.
"Oh, Min! and you did come down, did you? And you couldn't stay up
there, could you? I wanted to send a message to you. Poor little Min!
you're so weak. Is it any thing serious? Oh, my darling little Min!
But sit down on this here seat. Don't stand; you're too weak. Why
didn't you send, and I'd have carried you down? But tell me now,
honest, wasn't it _me_ that brought this on? Never mind, I'll never
leave you again."
This is the style which the gallant Baron adopted to express his
sentiments concerning Minnie; and the result was that he succeeded in
giving utterance to words that were quite as incoherent as any that
Minnie herself, in her most rambling moods, had ever uttered.
The Baron now gave himself up to joy. He took no notice of any body.
He sat by Minnie's side on a sofa, and openly held her hand. The
Reverend Saul Tozer looked on with an approving smile, and surveyed
the scene like a father. Mrs. Willoughby's soul was on fire with
indignation at Minnie's folly and the Baron's impudence. She was also
indignant that her little conventional falsehoods had been suddenly
disproved by the act of Minnie herself. Yet she did not know what to
say, and so she went to a chair, and flung herself into it in fierce
As for Minnie herself, she had come down to the Baron, and appeared
rather to enjoy the situation. She talked about Rome and Naples, and
asked him all about himself, and the Baron explained his whole
situation down to the minutest detail. She was utterly indifferent to
her sister. Once or twice the Baron made a move to go, but did not
succeed. He finally settled himself down apparently for the rest of
the day; but Mrs. Willoughby at last interposed. She walked forward.
She took Minnie's hand, and spoke to her in a tone which she but
"You shall _not_ stay here any longer!" she cried. "Come."
And Minnie obeyed at once.
The Baron insisted on a tender adieu. Mrs. Willoughby stood by, with
flashing eyes and heaving breast.
Minnie followed her up stairs in silence.
"You silly child!" she cried. "Are you mad? What made you come down?
You broke your promise!"
"Well--well--I couldn't help it, and he is so deliciously rude; and do
you know, Kitty dearest, I really begin to feel quite fond of him."
"Now listen, child. You shall never see him again."
"I don't see why not," whimpered Minnie.
"And I'm going to telegraph to papa. I wouldn't have the
responsibility of you another week for the world."
"Now, Kitty, you're horrid."
THE BARON'S ASSAULTS.
On the eventful afternoon when the Baron had effected an entrance into
the heart of the enemy's country, another caller had come there--one
equally intent and equally determined, but not quite so aggressive.
This was the Count Girasole. The same answer was given to him which
had been given to the Baron, but with far different effect. The Baron
had carelessly brushed the slight obstacle aside. To the Count it was
an impenetrable barrier. It was a bitter disappointment, too; for he
had been filled with the brightest hopes and expectations by the
reception with which he had met on his last visit. That reception had
made him believe that they had changed their sentiments and their
attitude toward him, and that for the future he would be received in
the same fashion. He had determined, therefore, to make the most of
this favorable change, and so he at once repeated his call. This time,
however, his hopes were crushed. What made it worse, he had seen the
entrance of the Baron and the Reverend Saul, and knew by this that
instead of being a favored mortal in the eyes of these ladies, he was
really, in their estimation, placed below these comparative strangers.
By the language of Lord Hawbury on his previous call, he knew that the
acquaintance of the Baron with Mrs. Willoughby was but recent.
The disappointment of the Count filled him with rage, and revived all
his old feelings and plans and projects. The Count was not one who
could suffer in silence. He was a crafty, wily, subtle, scheming
Italian, whose fertile brain was full of plans to achieve his desires,
and who preferred to accomplish his aims by a tortuous path, rather
than by a straight one. This repulse revived old projects, and he took
his departure with several little schemes in his mind, some of which,
at least, were destined to bear fruit afterward.
On the following day the Baron called once more. The ladies in the
mean time had talked over the situation, but were unable to see what
they were to do with a man who insisted on forcing his way into their
house. Their treatment would have been easy enough if it had not been
for Minnie. She insisted that they should not be unkind to him. He had
saved her life, she said, and she could not treat him with rudeness.
Lady Dalrymple was in despair, and Mrs. Willoughby at her wit's end,
while Ethel, to whom the circumstance was made known, was roused by it
from her sadness, and tried to remonstrate with Minnie. All her
efforts, however, were as vain as those of her friends. Minnie could
not be induced to take any decided stand. She insisted on seeing him
whenever he called, on the ground that it would be unkind not to.
"And will you insist on seeing Girasole also?" asked Mrs. Willoughby.
"I don't know. I'm awfully sorry for him," said Minnie.
"Well, then, Captain Kirby will be here next. Of course you will see
"I suppose so," said Minnie, resignedly.
"And how long do you think this sort of thing can go on? They'll meet,
and blood will be shed."
"Oh dear! I'm afraid so."
"Then I'm not going to allow it. I've telegraphed to papa. He'll see
whether you are going to have your own way or not."
"I'm sure I don't see what dear papa can do."
"He won't let you see those horrid men."
"He won't be cruel enough to lock me up in the house. I do wish he
would come and take me away. I don't want them. They're all horrid."
[Illustration: "MIN, IT'S ME!"]
"This last one--this Gunn--is the most terrible man I ever saw."
"Oh, Kitty dearest! How _can_ you say so? Why, his rudeness and
violence are perfectly irresistible. He's charming. He bullies one so
Mrs. Willoughby at this turned away in despair.
Minnie's very peculiar situation was certainly one which required a
speedy change. The forced entrance of the Baron had thrown
consternation into the family. Ethel herself had been roused, and took
a part in the debate. She began to see Minnie in a new light, and
Hawbury's attention to her began to assume the appearance of a very
mournful joke. To her mind Minnie was now the subject of desperate
attention from five men.
1. Lord Hawbury.
2. Count Girasole.
3. Scone Dacres.
4. Baron Atramonte.
5. Captain Kirby, of whom Mrs. Willoughby had just told her.
And of these, four had saved her life, and consequently had the
strongest possible claims on her.
And the only satisfaction which Ethel could gain out of this was the
thought that Hawbury, at least, had not saved Minnie's life.
And now to proceed.
The Baron called, as has been said, on the following day. This time he
did not bring the Reverend Saul with him. He wished to see Minnie
alone, and felt the presence of third persons to be rather unpleasant.
On reaching the place he was told, as before, that the ladies were not
Now the Baron remembered that on the preceding day the servant had
said the same, while all the time the ladies were home. He was
charitably inclined to suppose that it was a mistake, and not a
deliberate lie; and, as he was in a frame of good-will to mankind, he
adopted this first theory.
"All right, young man," said he; "but as you lied yesterday--under a
mistake--I prefer seeing for myself to-day."
So the Baron brushed by the servant, and went in. He entered the room.
No one was there. He waited a little while, and thought. He was too
impatient to wait long. He could not trust these lying servants. So he
determined to try for himself. Her room was up stairs, somewhere in
the story above.
So he went out of the room, and up the stairs, until his head was on a
level with the floor of the story above. Then he called:
"MIN!" in a louder voice.
"MIN! it's ME!" still louder.
_"MIN!"_ a perfect yell.
At this last shout there was a response. One of the doors opened, and
a lady made her appearance, while at two other doors appeared two
maids. The lady was young and beautiful, and her face was stern, and
her dark eyes looked indignantly toward the Baron.
"Who are you?" she asked, abruptly; "and what do you want?"
"Me? I'm the Baron Atramonte; and I want Min. Don't you know where she
"Min?" asked the other, in amazement.
"Yes. My Min--Minnie, you know. Minnie Fay."
At this the lady looked at the Baron with utter horror.
"I want her."
"She's not at home," said the lady.
"Well, really, it's too bad. I must see her. Is she out?"
"Really? Honor bright now?"
The lady retired and shut the door.
"Well, darn it all, you needn't be so peppery," muttered the Baron. "I
didn't say any thing. I only asked a civil question. Out, hey? Well,
she must be this time. If she'd been in, she'd have made her
appearance. Well, I'd best go out and hunt her up. They don't seem to
me altogether so cordial as I'd like to have them. They're just a
leetle too 'ristocratic."
With these observations to himself, the Baron descended the stairs,
and made his way to the door. Here he threw an engaging smile upon the
servant, and made a remark which set the other on the broad grin for
the remainder of the day. After this the Baron took his departure.
The Baron this time went to some stables, and reappeared in a short
time mounted upon a gallant steed, and careering down the Corso. In
due time he reached the Piazza del Popolo, and then he ascended the
Pincian Hill. Here he rode about for some time, and finally his
perseverance was rewarded. He was looking down from the summit of the
hill upon the Piazza below, when he caught sight of a barouche, in
which were three ladies. One of these sat on the front seat, and her
white face and short golden hair seemed to indicate to him the one he
In an instant he put spurs to his horse, and rode down the hill as
quick as possible, to the great alarm of the crowds who were going up
and down. In a short time he had caught up with the carriage. He was
right. It was the right one, and Minnie was there, together with Lady
Dalrymple and Mrs. Willoughby. The ladies, on learning of his
approach, exhibited no emotion. They were prepared for this, and
resigned. They had determined that Minnie should have no more
interviews with him indoors; and since they could not imprison her
altogether, they would have to submit for the present to his advances.
But they were rapidly becoming desperate.
Lord Hawbury was riding by the carriage as the Baron came up.
"Hallo!" said he to the former. "How do? and _how_ are you all? Why,
I've been hunting all over creation. Well, Minnie, how goes it? Feel
lively? That's right. Keep out in the open air. Take all the exercise
you can, and eat as hard as you can. You live too quiet as a general
thing, and want to knock around more. But we'll fix all that, won't
we, Min, before a month of Sundays?"
The advent of the Baron in this manner, and his familiar address to
Minnie, filled Hawbury with amazement. He had been surprised at
finding him with the ladies on the previous day, but there was nothing
in his demeanor which was at all remarkable. Now, however, he noticed
the very great familiarity of his tone and manner toward Minnie, and
was naturally amazed. The Baron had not confided to him his secret,
and he could not understand the cause of such intimacy between the
representatives of such different classes. He therefore listened with
inexpressible astonishment to the Baron's language, and to Minnie's
Minnie was sitting on the front seat of the barouche, and was alone in
that seat. As the gentlemen rode on each side of the carriage her face
was turned toward them. Hawbury rode back, so that he was beside Lady
Dalrymple; but the Baron rode forward, on the other side, so as to
bring himself as near to Minnie as possible. The Baron was exceedingly
happy. His happiness showed itself in the flush of his face, in the
glow of his eyes, and in the general exuberance and all-embracing
swell of his manner. His voice was loud, his gestures demonstrative,
and his remarks were addressed by turns to each one in the company.
The others soon gave up the attempt to talk, and left it all to the
Baron. Lady Dalrymple and Mrs. Willoughby exchanged glances of
despair. Hawbury still looked on in surprise, while Minnie remained
perfectly calm, perfectly self-possessed, and conversed with her usual
As the party thus rode on they met a horseman, who threw a rapid
glance over all of them. It was Girasole. The ladies bowed, and Mrs.
Willoughby wished that he had come a little before, so that he could
have taken the place beside the carriage where the Baron now was. But
the place was now appropriated, and there was no chance for the Count.
Girasole threw a dark look over them, which rested more particularly
on Hawbury. Hawbury nodded lightly at the Count, and didn't appear to
take any further notice of him. All this took up but a few moments,
and the Count passed on.
Shortly after they met another horseman. He sat erect, pale, sad, with
a solemn, earnest glow in his melancholy eyes. Minnie's back was
turned toward him, so that she could not see his face, but his eyes
were fixed upon Mrs. Willoughby. She looked back at him and bowed, as
did also Lady Dalrymple. He took off his hat, and the carriage rolled
past. Then he turned and looked after it, bareheaded, and Minnie
caught sight of him, and smiled and bowed. And then in a few moments
more the crowd swallowed up Scone Dacres.
The Baron thus enjoyed himself in a large, exuberant fashion, and
monopolized the conversation in a large, exuberant way. He outdid
himself. He confided to the ladies his plans for the regeneration of
the Roman Church and the Roman State. He told stories of his
adventures in the Rocky Mountains. He mentioned the state of his
finances, and his prospects for the future. He was as open, as free,
and as communicative as if he had been at home, with fond sisters and
admiring brothers around him. The ladies were disgusted at it all; and
by the ladies I mean only Mrs. Willoughby and Lady Dalrymple. For
Minnie was not--she actually listened in delight. It was not
conventional. Very well. Neither was the Baron. And for that matter,
neither was she. He was a child of nature. So was she. His rudeness,
his aggressiveness, his noise, his talkativeness, his egotism, his
confidences about himself--all these did not make him so very
disagreeable to her as to her sister and aunt.
So Minnie treated the Baron with the utmost complaisance, and Hawbury
was surprised, and Mrs. Willoughby and Lady Dalrymple were disgusted;
but the Baron was delighted, and his soul was filled with perfect joy.
Too soon for him was this drive over. But the end came, and they
reached the hotel. Hawbury left them, but the Baron lingered. The spot
was too sweet, the charm too dear--he could not tear himself away.
In fact, he actually followed the ladies into the house.
"I think I'll just make myself comfortable in here, Min, till you come
down," said the Baron. And with these words he walked into the
reception-room, where he selected a place on a sofa, and composed
himself to wait patiently for Minnie to come down.
So he waited, and waited, and waited--but Minnie did not come. At last
he grew impatient. He walked out, and up the stairs, and listened.
He heard ladies' voices.
_"MIN!"_ a perfect shout.
At this a door was opened violently, and Mrs. Willoughby walked out.
Her cheeks were flushed, and her eyes glanced fire.
"Sir," she said, "this is intolerable! You must be intoxicated. Go
away at once, or I shall certainly have you turned out of the house."
And saying this she went back, shut the door, and locked it.
The Baron was thunder-struck. He had never been treated so in his
life. He was cut to the heart. His feelings were deeply wounded.
"Darn it!" he muttered. "What's all this for? I ain't been doing any
He walked out very thoughtfully. He couldn't understand it at all. He
was troubled for some time. But at last his buoyant spirit rose
superior to this temporary depression. To-morrow would explain all, he
thought. Yes, to-morrow would make it all right. To-morrow he would
see Min, and get her to tell him what in thunder the row was. She'd
have to tell, for he could never find out. So he made up his mind to
keep his soul in patience.
That evening Hawbury was over at the Baron's quarters, by special
invitation, and the Baron decided to ask his advice. So in the course
of the evening, while in the full, easy, and confidential mood that
arises out of social intercourse, he told Hawbury his whole
story--beginning with the account of his first meeting with Minnie,
and his rescue of her, and her acceptance of him, down to this very
day, when he had been so terribly snubbed by Mrs. Willoughby. To all
this Hawbury listened in amazement. It was completely new to him. He
wondered particularly to find another man who had saved the life of
this quiet, timid little girl.
The Baron asked his advice, but Hawbury declined giving any. He said
he couldn't advise any man in a love-affair. Every man must trust to
himself. No one's advice could be of any avail. Hawbury, in fact, was
puzzled, but he said the best he could. The Baron himself was fully of
Hawbury's opinion. He swore that it was truth, and declared the man
that followed another's advice in a love-affair was a "darned fool
that didn't deserve to win his gal."
There followed a general conversation on things of a different kind.
The Baron again discoursed on church and state. He then exhibited some
curiosities. Among other things a skull. He used it to hold his
tobacco. He declared that it was the skull of an ancient Roman. On the
inside was a paper pasted there, on which he had written the
"Oh, I'm the skull of a Roman bold
That fit in the ancient war;
From East to West I bore the flag
Of S.P.Q. and R.
"In East and West, and North and South,
We made the nations fear us--
Both Nebuchadnezzar and Hannibal,
And Pharaoh too, and Pyrrhus.
"We took their statutes from the Greeks,
And lots of manuscripts too;
We set adrift on his world-wide tramp
The original wandering Jew.
"But at last the beggarly Dutchman came,
With his lager and sauerkraut;
And wherever that beggarly Dutchman went
He made a terrible rout.
"Wo ist der Deutscher's Vaterland?
Is it near the ocean wild?
Is it where the feathery palm-trees grow?
Not there, not there, my child.
"But it's somewhere down around the Rhine;
And now that Bismarck's come,
Down goes Napoleon to the ground,
And away goes the Pope from Rome!"
"HE SAVED MY LIFE."
"I can't bear this any longer!" exclaimed Mrs. Willoughby. "Here you
are getting into all sorts of difficulties, each one worse than the
other. I'm sure I don't see why you should. You're very quiet, Minnie
dearest, but you have more unpleasant adventures than any person I
ever heard of. You're run away with on horseback, you're shipwrecked,
you're swept down a precipice by an avalanche, and you fall into the
crater of a burning volcano. Every time there is some horrid man who
saves you, and then proposes. As for you, you accept them all with
equal readiness, one after another, and what is worse, you won't give
any of them up. I've asked you explicitly which of them you'll give
up, and you actually refuse to say. My dear child, what are you
thinking of? You can't have them all. You can't have any of them. None
of them are agreeable to your family. They're horrid. What are you
going to do? Oh, how I wish you had dear mamma to take care of you!
But she is in a better world. And here is poor dear papa who can't
come. How shocked he would be if he knew all. What is worst, here is
that dreadful American savage, who is gradually killing me. He
certainly will be my death. What _am_ I to do, dear? Can't you
possibly show a little sense yourself--only a little, dear--and have
some consideration for your poor sister? Even Ethel worries about you,
though she has troubles of her own, poor darling; and aunty is really
quite ill with anxiety. What _are_ we going to do? I know one thing.
_I'm_ not going to put up with it. My mind is made up. I'll leave Rome
at once, and go home and tell papa."
"Well, you needn't scold so," said Minnie. "It's my trouble. I can't
help it. They would come. I'm sure _I_ don't know what to do."
"Well, you needn't be so awfully kind to them all. That's what
encourages them so. It's no use for me to try to keep them away if you
make them all so welcome. Now there's that dreadful Italian. I'm
positive he's going to get up some unpleasant plot. These Italians are
so very revengeful. And he thinks you're so fond of him, and I'm so
opposed. And he's right, too. You always act as if you're fond of him,
and all the rest. As to that terrible American savage, I'm afraid to
think of him; I positively am."
"Well, you needn't be so awfully unkind to him. He saved my life."
"That's no reason why he should deprive me of mine, which he will do
if he goes on so much longer."
"You were very, very rude to him, Kitty," said Minnie, severely, "and
very, very unkind--"
"I intended to be so."
"I really felt like crying, and running out and explaining things."
"I know you did, and ran back and locked the door. Oh, you wretched
little silly goose, what _am_ I _ever_ to do with such a child as you
are! You're really not a bit better than a baby."
This conversation took place on the day following the Baron's last
eventful call. Poor Mrs. Willoughby was driven to desperation, and lay
awake all night, trying to think of some plan to baffle the enemy, but
was unsuccessful; and so she tried once more to have some influence
over Minnie by a remonstrance as sharp as she could give.
"He's an American savage. I believe he's an Indian."
"I'm sure I don't see any thing savage in him. He's as gentle and as
kind as he can be. And he's so awfully fond of me."
"Think how he burst in here, forcing his way in, and taking possession
of the house. And then poor dear aunty! Oh, how she _was_ shocked and
"It's because he is so _awfully_ fond of me, and was so perfectly
_crazy_ to see me."
"And then, just as I was beginning to persuade him to go away quietly,
to think of you coming down!"
"Well, I couldn't bear to have him so sad, when he saved my life, and
so I just thought I'd show myself, so as to put him at ease."
"A pretty way to show yourself--to let a great, horrid man treat you
"Well, that's what they _all_ do," said Minnie, plaintively. "I'm sure
_I_ can't help it."
"Oh dear! was there ever such a child! Why, Minnie darling, you must
know that such things are very, very ill-bred, and very, very
indelicate and unrefined. And then, think how he came forcing himself
upon us when we were driving. Couldn't he see that he wasn't wanted?
No, he's a savage. And then, how he kept giving us all a history of
his life. Every body could hear him, and people stared so that it was
really quite shocking."
"Oh, that's because he is so very, very frank. He has none of the
deceit of society, you know, Kitty darling."
"Deceit of society! I should think not. Only think how he acted
yesterday--forcing his way in and rushing up stairs. Why, it's
actually quite frightful. He's like a madman. We will have to keep all
the doors locked, and send for the police. Why, do you know, Ethel
says that he was here before, running about and shouting in the same
way: 'Min!' 'Min!' 'Min!'--that's what the horrid wretch calls you
--'Min! it's me.' 'Come, Min!'"
At this Minnie burst into a peal of merry, musical laughter, and
laughed on till the tears came to her eyes. Her sister looked more
disgusted than ever.
"He's such a boy," said Minnie; "he's just like a boy. He's so awfully
funny. If I'm a child, he's a big boy, and the awfullest, funniest boy
I ever saw. And then he's _so_ fond of me. Why, he worships me. Oh,
it's awfully nice."
"A boy! A beast, you mean--a horrid savage. What _can_ I do? I must
send for a policeman. I'll certainly have the doors all locked. And
then we'll all be prisoners."
"Well, then, it'll all be your own fault, for _I_ don't want to have
any doors locked."
"Oh dear!" sighed her sister.
"Well, I don't. And I think you're very unkind."
"Why, you silly child, he'd come here some day, carry you off, and
make you marry him."
"Well, I do wish he would," said Minnie, gravely. "I wish somebody
would, for then it would put a stop to all this worry, and I really
don't know what else ever will. Do _you_, now, Kitty darling?"
Mrs. Willoughby turned away with a gesture of despair.
An hour or two after some letters were brought in, one of which was
Minnie opened this, and looked over it with a troubled air. Then she
spoke to her sister, and they both went off to Minnie's room.
"Who do you think this is from?" she asked.
"Oh, I don't know! Of course it's some more trouble."
"It's from Captain Kirby."
"Oh, of course! And of course he's here in Rome?"
"No, he isn't."
"What! Not yet?"
"No; but he wrote this from London. He has been to the house, and
learned that we had gone to Italy. He says he has sent off letters to
me, directed to every city in Italy, so that I may be sure to get it.
Isn't that good of him?"
"Well?" asked Mrs. Willoughby, repressing an exclamation of vexation.
"Well, he says that in three days he will leave, and go first to Rome,
as he thinks we will be most likely to be there this season. And so,
you see, he's coming on; and he will be here in three days, you know."
"Minnie," said her sister, after some moments' solemn thought.
"Well, Kitty darling?"
"Do you ever think?"
"I don't know."
"Would you like one of these gentlemen of yours to blow one of the
others' brains out, or stab him, or any thing of that sort?"
"How shocking you are, Kitty dear! What a dreadful question!"
"Well, understand me now. One of them _will_ do that. There will be
trouble, and your name will be associated with it."
"Well," said Minnie, "I know who _won't_ be shot."
"Why, Rufus K. Gunn," said she, in the funny, prim way in which she
always pronounced that name. "If he finds it out, he'll drive all the
"And would you like that?"
"Well, you know, he's awfully fond of me, and he's so like a boy: and
if I'm such a child, I could do better with a man, you know, that's
like a boy, you know, than--than--"
"Nonsense! He's a madman, and you're a simpleton, you little goose."
"Well, then, we must be well suited to one another," said Minnie.
"Now, child, listen," said Mrs. Willoughby, firmly. "I intend to put a
stop to this. I have made up my mind positively to leave Rome, and
take you home to papa. I'll tell him all about it, put you under his
care, and have no more responsibility with you. I think he'd better
send you back to school. I've been too gentle. You need a firm hand.
I'll be firm for a few days, till you can go to papa. You need not
begin to cry. It's for your own good. If you're indulged any more,
you'll simply go to ruin."
Mrs. Willoughby's tone was different from usual, and Minnie was
impressed by it. She saw that her sister was resolved. So she stole up
to her and twined her arms about her and kissed her.
"There, there," said her sister, kissing her again, "don't look so
sad, Minnie darling. It's for your own good. We must go away, or else
you'll have another of those dreadful people. You must trust to me
now, dearest, and not interfere with me in anyway."
"Well, well, you mustn't be unkind to poor Rufus K. Gunn," said
"Unkind? Why, we won't be any thing to him at all."
"And am I never to--to--see him again?"
"No!" said her sister, firmly.
Minnie started, and looked at Mrs. Willoughby, and saw in her face a
"No, never!" repeated Mrs. Willoughby. "I am going to take you back to
England. I'm afraid to take any railroad or steamboat. I'll hire a
carriage, and we'll all go in a quiet way to Florence. Then we can
take the railroad to Leghorn, and go home by the way of Marseilles. No
one will know that we've gone away. They'll think we have gone on an
excursion. Now we'll go out driving this morning, and this afternoon
we must keep the outer door locked, and not let any one in. I suppose
there is no danger of meeting him in the morning. He must be on duty
"But mayn't I see him at all before we go?"
"Just once--only once?"
"No, not once. You've seen that horrid man for the last time."
Minnie again looked at her sister, and again read her resolution in
her face. She turned away, her head dropped, a sob escaped from her,
and then she burst into tears.
Mrs. Willoughby left the room.
Lord Hawbury had come to Rome for the sole purpose of watching over
his friend Scone Dacres. But he had not found it so easy to do so. His
friend kept by himself more than he used to, and for several days
Hawbury had seen nothing of him. Once while with the ladies he had met
him, and noticed the sadness and the gloom of his brow. He saw by this
that he was still a prey to those feelings the exhibition of which had
alarmed him at Naples, and made him resolve to accompany him here.
A few days afterward, while Hawbury was in his room, his friend
entered. Hawbury arose and greeted him with unfeigned joy.
"Well, old man," he said, "you've kept yourself close, too. What have
you been doing with yourself? I've only had one glimpse of you for an
age. Doing Rome, hey? Antiquities, arts, churches, palaces, and all
that sort of thing, I suppose. Come now, old boy, sit down and give an
account of yourself. Have a weed? Here's Bass in prime order. Light
up, my dear fellow, and let me look at you as you compose your manly
form for a friendly smoke. And don't speak till you feel inclined."
Dacres took his seat with a melancholy smile, and selecting a cigar,
lighted it, and smoked in silence for some time.
"Who was that Zouave fellow?" he asked at length: "the fellow that I
saw riding by the carriage the other day?"
"That--oh, an old friend of mine. He's an American named Gunn. He's
joined the Papal Zouaves from some whim, and a deuced good thing it is
for them to get hold of such a man. I happened to call one day, and
found him with the ladies."
"The ladies--ah!" and Dacres's eyes lighted up with a bad, hard light.
"I suppose he's another of those precious cavaliers--the scum of all
lands--that dance attendance on my charming wife."
"Oh, see here now, my dear fellow, really now," said Hawbury, "none of
that, you know. This fellow is a friend of _mine_, and one of the best
fellows I ever saw. You'd like him, old chap. He'd suit you."
"Yes, and suit my wife better," said Dacres, bitterly.
"Oh, come now, really, my dear boy, you're completely out. He don't
know your wife at all. It's the other one, you know. Don't be jealous,
now, if I tell you."
"Yes. I know your weakness, you know; but this is an old affair. I
don't want to violate confidence, but--"
Dacres looked hard at his friend and breathed heavily. He was
evidently much excited.
"But what?" he said, hoarsely.
"Well, you know, it's an old affair. It's the young one, you
know--Miss Fay. He rather affects her, you know. That's about it."
"Yes; your child-angel, you know. But it's an older affair than yours;
it is, really; so don't be giving way, man. Besides, his claims on her
are as great as yours; yes, greater too. By Jove!"
"Miss Fay! Oh, is that all?" said Dacres, who, with a sigh of infinite
relief, shook off all his late excitement, and became cool once more.
Hawbury noted this very thoughtfully.
"You see," said Dacres, "that terrible wife of mine is so cursedly
beautiful and fascinating, and so infernally fond of admiration, that
she keeps no end of fellows tagging at her heels. And so I didn't know
but that this was some new admirer. Oh, she's a deep one! Her new
style, which she has been cultivating for ten years, has made her look
like an angel of light. Why, there's the very light of heaven in her
eyes, and in her face there is nothing, I swear, but gentleness and
purity and peace. Oh, had she but been what she now seems! Oh, if even
now I could but believe this, I would even now fling my memories to
the winds, and I'd lie down in the dust and let her trample on me, if
she would only give me that tender and gentle love that now lurks in
her face. Good Heavens! can such a change be possible? No; it's
impossible! It can't be! Don't I know her? Can't I remember her? Is my
memory all a dream? No, it's real; and it's marked deep by this scar
that I wear. Never till that scar is obliterated can that woman
Dacres had been speaking, as he often did now, half to himself; and as
he ended he rubbed his hand over the place where the scar lay, as
though to soothe the inflammation that arose from the rush of angry
blood to his head.
"Well, dear boy, I can only say I wish from my heart that her nature
was like her face. She's no favorite of mine, for your story has made
me look on her with your eyes, and I never have spoken to her except
in the most distant way; but I must say I think her face has in it a
good deal of that gentleness which you mention. Miss Fay treats her
quite like an elder sister, and is deuced fond of her, too. I can see
that. So she can't be very fiendish to her. Like loves like, you know,
and the one that the child-angel loves ought to be a little of an
angel herself, oughtn't she?"
Dacres was silent for a long time.
"There's that confounded Italian," said he, "dangling forever at her
heels--the devil that saved her life. He must be her accepted lover,
you know. He goes out riding beside the carriage."
"Well, really, my dear fellow, she doesn't seem overjoyed by his
"Oh, that's her art. She's so infernally deep. Do you think she'd let
the world see her feelings? Never. Slimy, Sir, and cold and subtle and
venomous and treacherous--a beautiful serpent. Aha! isn't that the way
to hit her off? Yes, a beautiful, malignant, venomous serpent, with
fascination in her eyes, and death and anguish in her bite. But she
shall find out yet that others are not without power. Confound her!"
"Well, now, by Jove! old boy, I think the very best thing you can do
is to go away somewhere, and get rid of these troubles."
"Go away! Can I go away from my own thoughts? Hawbury, the trouble is
in my own heart. I must keep near her. There's that Italian devil. He
shall not have her. I'll watch them, as I have watched them, till I
find a chance for revenge."
"You have watched them, then?" asked Hawbury, in great surprise.
"Yes, both of them. I've seen the Italian prowling about where she
lives. I've seen her on her balcony, evidently watching for him."
"But have you seen any thing more? This is only your fancy."
"Fancy! Didn't I see her herself standing on the balcony looking down.
I was concealed by the shadow of a fountain, and she couldn't see me.
She turned her face, and I saw it in that soft, sweet, gentle beauty
which she has cultivated so wonderfully. I swear it seemed like the
face of an angel, and I could have worshiped it. If she could have
seen my face in that thick shadow she would have thought I was an
adorer of hers, like the Italian--ha, ha!--instead of a pursuer, and
"Well, I'll be hanged if I can tell myself which you are, old boy;
but, at any rate, I'm glad to be able to state that your trouble will
soon be over."
"She's going away."
"She! going away! where?"
"Back to England."
"Back to England! why, she's just come here. What's that for?"
"I don't know. I only know they're all going home. Well, you know,
holy week's over, and there is no object for them to stay longer."
"Going away! going away!" replied Dacres, slowly. "Who told you?"
"Oh, I don't believe it."
"There's no doubt about it, my dear boy. Miss Fay told me explicitly.
She said they were going in a carriage by the way of Civita
"What are they going that way for? What nonsense! I don't believe it."
"Oh, it's a fact. Besides, they evidently don't want it to be known."
"What's that?" asked Dacres, eagerly.
"I say they don't seem to want it to be known. Miss Fay told me in her
childish way, and I saw that Mrs. Willoughby looked vexed, and tried
to stop her."
"Tried to stop her! Ah! Who were there? Were you calling?"
"Oh no--it was yesterday morning. I was riding, and, to my surprise,
met them. They were driving--Mrs. Willoughby and Miss Fay, you
know--so I chatted with them a few moments, or rather with Miss Fay,
and hoped I would see them again soon, at some _fete_ or other, when
she told me this."
"And my wife tried to stop her?"
"And looked vexed?"
"Then it was some secret of _hers. She_ has some reason for keeping
dark. The other has none. Aha! don't I understand her? She wants to
keep it from _me_. She knows you're my friend, and was vexed that you
should know. Aha! she dreads my presence. She knows I'm on her track.
She wants to get away with her Italian--away from my sight. Aha! the
tables are turned at last. Aha! my lady. Now we'll see. Now take your
Italian and fly, and see how far you can get away from me. Take him,
and see if you can hold him. Aha! my angel face, my mild, soft eyes of
love, but devil's heart--can not I understand it all? I see through
it. I've watched, you. Wait till you see Scone Dacres on your track!"
"What's that? You don't really mean it?"
"Yes, I do."
"Will you follow her?"
"Yes, I will."
"What for? For a vague fancy of your jealous mind?"
"It isn't a fancy; it's a certainty. I've seen the Italian dogging
her, dodging about her house, and riding with her. I've seen her
looking very much as if she were expecting him at her balcony. Is all
that nothing? She's seen me, and feels conscience-stricken, and longs
to get away where she may be free from the terror of my presence. But
I'll track her. I'll strike at her--at her heart, too; for I will
strike through the Italian."
"I will, I swear!" cried Dacres, gloomily.
"You're mad, Dacres. You imagine all this. You're like a madman in a
"It's no dream. I'll follow her. I'll track her."
"Then, by Jove, you'll have to take me with you, old boy! I see you're
not fit to take care of yourself. I'll have to go and keep you from
"You won't keep me from harm, old chap," said Dacres, more gently;
"but I'd be glad if you would go. So come along."
"I will, by Jove!"
[Illustration: "I WATCHED HIM."]
THE BARON'S WOES.
Dacres was not the only excited visitor that Hawbury had that day.
Before its close another made his appearance in the person of the
"Well, my noble friend," cried Hawbury--"my Baron bold--how goes it?
But, by Jove! what's the matter, my boy? Your brow deep scars of
thunder have intrenched, and care sits on your faded cheek. Pour forth
the mournful tale. I'll sympathize."
"I swear it's too almighty bad!" cried the Baron.
"The way I'm getting humbugged."
"Humbugged! Who's been humbugging you?"
"Darn me if I know; and that's the worst of it by a thundering sight."
"Well, my dear fellow, if I can help you, you'd better let me know
what it's all about."
"Why, Minnie; that's the row. There ain't another thing on this green
earth that would trouble me for five seconds."
"Minnie? Oh! And what has happened--a lover's quarrel?"
"Not a quarrel. _She's_ all right."
"What is it, then?"
"Why, she's disappeared."
"Disappeared! What do you mean by that?"
"Darn me if I know. I only know this, that they keep their place
bolted and barred, and they've muffled the bell, and there's no
servant to be seen, and I can't find out any thing about them. And
it's too almighty bad. Now isn't it?"
"It's deuced odd, too--queer, by Jove! I don't understand. Are you
sure they're all locked up?"
"Course I am."
"And no servants?"
"Not a darned servant."
"Did you ask the concierge?"
"Course I did; and crossed his palm, too. But he didn't give me any
"What did he say?"
"Why, he said they were at home, for they had been out in the morning,
and had got back again. Well, after that I went back and nearly
knocked the door down. And that was no good; I didn't get a word. The
concierge swore they were in, and they wouldn't so much as answer me.
Now I call that too almighty hard, and I'd like to know what in
thunder they all mean by it."
"By Jove! odd, too."
"Well, you know, I thought after a while that it would be all
explained the next day; so I went home and waited, and came back the
next afternoon. I tried it over again. Same result. I spoke to the
concierge again, and he swore again that they were all in. They had
been out in the morning, he said, and looked well. They had come home
by noon, and had gone to their rooms. Well, I really did start the
door that time, but didn't get any answer for my pains."
"Well, I was pretty hard up, I tell you. But I wasn't going to give
up. So I staid there, and began a siege. I crossed the concierge's
palm again, and was in and out all night. Toward morning I took a nap
in his chair. He thought it was some government business or other, and
assisted me all he could. I didn't see any thing at all though, except
an infernal Italian--a fellow that came calling the first day I was
there, and worked himself in between me and Min. He was prowling about
there, with another fellow, and stared hard at me. I watched him, and
said nothing, for I wanted to find out his little game. He's up to
something, I swear. When he saw I was on the ground, though, he beat a
"Well, I staid all night, and the next morning watched again. I didn't
knock. It wasn't a bit of use--not a darned bit.
"Well, about nine o'clock the door opened, and I saw some one looking
out very cautiously. In a minute I was standing before her, and held
out my hand to shake hers. It was the old lady. But she didn't shake
hands. She looked at me quite coolly.
"'Good-morning, ma'am,' said I, in quite a winning voice.
"'Good-morning,' she said.
"'I come to see Minnie,' said I.
"'To see Minnie!' said she: and then she told me she wasn't up.
"'Ain't up?' said I; 'and it so bright and early! Why, what's got her?
Well, you just go and tell her _I'm_ here, and I'll just step inside
and wait till she comes down,' said I.
"But the old lady didn't budge.
"'I'm not a servant,' she said, very stiff; 'I'm her aunt, and her
guardian, and I allow no messages to pass between her and strange
"'Strange gentlemen!' I cried. 'Why, ain't I engaged to her?'
"'I don't know you,' says she.
"'Wasn't I introduced to you?' says I.
"'No,' says she; 'I don't know you.'"
[Illustration: "BUT I SAVED HER LIFE."]
"'But I'm engaged to Minnie,' says I.
"'I don't recognize you,' says she. 'The family know nothing about
you; and my niece is a silly girl, who is going back to her father,
who will probably send her to school.'
"'But I saved her life,' says I.
"'That's very possible,' says she; 'many persons have done so; yet
that gives you no right to annoy her; and you shall _not_ annoy her.
Your engagement is an absurdity. The child herself is an absurdity.
_You_ are an absurdity. Was it not you who was creating such a
frightful disturbance here yesterday? Let me inform you, Sir, that if
you repeat it, you will be handed over to the police. The police would
certainly have been called yesterday had we not wished to avoid
hurting your feelings. We now find that you have no feelings to hurt.'
"'Very well, ma'am,' says I; 'these are your views; but as you are not
Minnie, I don't accept them. I won't retire from the field till I hear
a command to that effect from Minnie herself. I allow no relatives to
stand between me and my love. Show me Minnie, and let me hear what she
has to say. That's all I ask, and that's fair and square.'
"'You shall not see her at all,' says the old lady, quite mild; 'not
at all. You must not come again, for you will not be admitted. Police
will be here to put you out if you attempt to force an entrance as you
"'Force an entrance!' I cried.
"'Yes,' she said, 'force an entrance. You did so, and you filled the
whole house with your shouts. Is that to be borne? Not by us, Sir. And
now go, and don't disturb us any more.'
"Well, I'll be darned if I ever felt so cut up in my life. The old
lady was perfectly calm and cool; wasn't a bit scared--though there
was no reason why she should be. She just gave it to me that way. But
when she accused me of forcing an entrance and kicking up a row, I was
struck all of a heap and couldn't say a word. _Me_ force an entrance!
_Me_ kick up a row! And in Minnie's house! Why, the old woman's mad!
"Well, the old lady shut the door in my face, and I walked off; and
I've been ever since trying to understand it, but I'll be darned if I
can make head or tail of it. The only thing I see is that they're all
keeping Minnie locked up away from me. They don't like me, though why
they don't I can't see; for I'm as good as any body, and I've been
particular about being civil to all of them. Still they don't like me,
and they see that Minnie does, and they're trying to break up the
engagement. But by the living jingo!" and the Baron clinched a
good-sized and very sinewy fist, which he brought down hard on the
table--"by the living jingo, they'll find they can't come it over
_me_! No, _Sir_!"
"Is she fond of you--Miss Fay, I mean?"
"Fond! Course she is. She dotes on me."
"Are you sure?"
"Sure! As sure as I am of my own existence. Why, the way she looks at
me is enough! She has a look of helpless trust, an innocent
confidence, a tender, child-like faith and love, and a beseeching,
pleading, imploring way that tells me she is mine through and
Hawbury was a little surprised. He thought he had heard something like
"Oh, well," said he, "that's the chief thing, you know. If you're sure
of the girl's affections, the battle's half won."
"Half won! Ain't it all won?"
"Well, not exactly. You see, with us English, there are ever so many
"But with us Americans there is only one consideration, and that is,
Do you love me? Still, if her relatives are particular about dollars,
I can foot up as many thousands as her old man, I dare say; and then,
if they care for rank, why, I'm a Baron!"
"And what's more, old boy," said Hawbury, earnestly, "if they wanted a
valiant, stout, true, honest, loyal soul, they needn't go further than
Rufus K. Gunn, Baron de Atramonte."
The Baron's face flushed.
"Hawbury," said he, "that's good in you. We've tried one another,
haven't we? You're a brick! And I don't need _you_ to tell _me_ what
you think of me. But if you could get a word into the ear of that
cantankerous old lady, and just let her know what _you_ know about me,
it might move her. You see you're after her style, and I'm not; and
she can't see any thing but a man's manner, which, after all, varies
in all countries. Now if you could speak a word for me, Hawbury--"
"By Jove! my dear fellow, I'd be glad to do so--I swear I would; but
you don't appear to know that I won't have the chance. They're all
going to leave Rome to-morrow morning."
The Baron started as though he had been shot.
"What!" he cried, hoarsely. "What's that? Leave Rome?"
"And to-morrow morning?"
"Yes; Miss Fay told me herself--"
"Miss Fay told you herself! By Heaven! What do they mean by that?" And
the Baron sat trembling with excitement.
"Well, the holy week's over."
"Darn it all, that's got nothing to do with it! It's me! They're
trying to get her from me! How are they going? Do you know?"
"They are going in a carriage by the way of Civita Castellana."
"In a carriage by the way of Civita Castellana! Darn that old idiot of
a woman! what's she up to now? If she's running away from me, she'll
wish herself back before she gets far on that road. Why, there's an
infernal nest of brigands there that call themselves Garibaldians;
and, by thunder, the woman's crazy! They'll be seized and held to
ransom--perhaps worse. Heavens! I'll go mad! I'll run and tell them.
But no; they won't see me. What'll I do? And Minnie! I can't give her
up. She can't give me up. She's a poor, trembling little creature; her
whole life hangs on mine. Separation from me would kill her. Poor
little girl! Separation! By thunder, they shall never separate us!
What devil makes the old woman go by that infernal road? Brigands all
the way! But I'll go after them; I'll follow them. They'll find it
almighty hard work to keep her from me! I'll see her, by thunder! and
I'll get her out of their clutches! I swear I will! I'll bring her
back here to Rome, and I'll get the Pope himself to bind her to me
with a knot that all the old women under heaven can never loosen!"
"What! You're going? By Jove! that's odd, for I'm going with a friend
on the same road."
"Good again! Three cheers! And you'll see the old woman, and speak a
good word for me?"
"If I see her and get a chance, I certainly will, by Jove!"
AN EVENTFUL JOURNEY.
On the day following two carriages rolled out of Rome, and took the
road toward Florence by the way of Civita Castellana. One carriage
held four ladies; the other one was occupied by four lady's-maids and
the luggage of the party.
It was early morning, and over the wide Campagna there still hung
mists, which were dissipated gradually as the sun arose. As they went
on the day advanced, and with the departing mists there opened up a
wide view. On either side extended the desolate Campagna, over which
passed lines of ruined aqueducts on their way from the hills to the
city. Here and there crumbling ruins arose above the plain--some
ancient, others medieval, none modern. Before them, in the distance,
arose the Apennines, among which were, here and there, visible the
white outlines of some villa or hamlet.
For mile after mile they drove on; and the drive soon proved very
monotonous. It was nothing but one long and unvarying plain, with this
only change, that every mile brought them nearer to the mountains. As
the mountains were their only hope, they all looked forward eagerly to
the time when they would arrive there and wind along the road among
Formerly Mrs. Willoughby alone had been the confidante of Minnie's
secret, but the events of the past few days had disclosed most of her
troubles to the other ladies also, at least as far as the general
outlines were concerned. The consequence was, that they all knew
perfectly well the reason why they were traveling in this way, and
Minnie knew that they all knew it. Yet this unpleasant consciousness
did not in the least interfere with the sweetness of her temper and
the gentleness of her manner. She sat there, with a meek smile and a
resigned air, as though the only part now left her in life was the
patient endurance of her unmerited wrongs. She blamed no one; she made
no complaint; yet there was in her attitude something so touching, so
clinging, so pathetic, so forlorn, and in her face something so sweet,
so sad, so reproachful, and so piteous, that she enforced sympathy;
and each one began to have a half-guilty fear that Minnie had been
wronged by her. Especially did Mrs. Willoughby feel this. She feared
that she had neglected the artless and simple-minded child; she feared
that she had not been sufficiently thoughtful about her; and now
longed to do something to make amends for this imaginary neglect. So
she sought to make the journey as pleasant as possible by cheerful
remarks and lively observations. None of these things, however,
produced any effect upon the attitude of Minnie. She sat there, with
unalterable sweetness and unvarying patience, just like a holy martyr,
who freely forgave all her enemies, and was praying for those who had
despitefully used her.
[Illustration: THE PROCESSION ACROSS THE CAMPAGNA.]
The exciting events consequent upon the Baron's appearance, and his
sudden revelation in the role of Minnie's lover, had exercised a
strong and varied effect upon all; but upon one its result was wholly
beneficial, and this was Ethel. It was so startling and so unexpected
that it had roused her from her gloom, and given her something to
think of. The Baron's debut in their parlor had been narrated to her
over and over by each of the three who had witnessed it, and each gave
the narrative her own coloring. Lady Dalrymple's account was humorous;
Mrs. Willoughby's indignant; Minnie's sentimental. Out of all these
Ethel gained a fourth idea, compounded of these three, which again
blended with another, and an original one of her own, gained from a
personal observation of the Baron, whose appearance on the stairs and
impatient summons for "Min" were very vividly impressed on her memory.
In addition to this there was the memory of that day on which they
endeavored to fight off the enemy.
That was, indeed, a memorable day, and was now alluded to by them all
as the day of the siege. It was not without difficulty that they had
withstood Minnie's earnest protestations, and intrenched themselves.
But Mrs. Willoughby was obdurate, and Minnie's tears, which flowed
freely, were unavailing.
Then there came the first knock of the impatient and aggressive
visitor, followed by others in swift succession, and in
ever-increasing power. Every knock went to Minnie's heart. It excited
an unlimited amount of sympathy for the one who had saved her life,
and was now excluded from her door. But as the knocks grew violent and
imperative, and Minnie grew sad and pitiful, the other ladies grew
indignant. Lady Dalrymple was on the point of sending off for the
police, and only Minnie's frantic entreaties prevented this. At last
the door seemed almost beaten in, and their feelings underwent a
change. They were convinced that he was mad, or else intoxicated. Of
the madness of love they did not think. Once convinced that he was
mad, they became terrified. The maids all hid themselves. None of them
now would venture out even to call the police. They expected that the
concierge would interpose, but in vain. The concierge was bribed.
After a very eventful day night came. They heard footsteps pacing up
and down, and knew that it was their tormentor. Minnie's heart again
melted with tender pity for the man whose love for her had turned his
head, and she begged to be allowed to speak to him. But this was not
permitted. So she went to bed and fell asleep. So, in process of time,
did the others, and the night passed without any trouble. Then morning
came, and there was a debate as to who should confront the enemy.
There was no noise, but they knew that he was there. At last Lady
Dalrymple summoned up her energies, and went forth to do battle. The
result has already been described in the words of the bold Baron
But even this great victory did not reassure the ladies. Dreading
another visit, they hurried away to a hotel, leaving the maids to
follow with the luggage as soon as possible. On the following morning
they had left the city.
Events so very exciting as these had produced a very natural effect
upon the mind of Ethel. They had thrown her thoughts out of their old
groove, and fixed them in a new one. Besides, the fact that she was
actually leaving the man who had caused her so much sorrow was already
a partial relief. She had dreaded meeting him so much that she had
been forced to keep herself a prisoner. A deep grief still remained in
her heart; but, at any rate, there was now some pleasure to be felt,
if only of a superficial kind.
As for Mrs. Willoughby, in spite of her self-reproach about her purely
imaginary neglect of Minnie, she felt such an extraordinary relief
that it affected all her nature. The others might feel fatigue from
the journey. Not she. She was willing to continue the journey for an
indefinite period, so long as she had the sweet consciousness that she
was bearing Minnie farther and farther away from the grasp of "that
horrid man." The consequence was, that she was lively, lovely,
brilliant, cheerful, and altogether delightful. She was as tender to
Minnie as a mother could be. She was lavish in her promises of what
she would do for her. She chatted gayly with Ethel about a thousand
things, and was delighted to find that Ethel reciprocated. She rallied
Lady Dalrymple on her silence, and congratulated her over and over, in
spite of Minnie's frowns, on the success of her generalship. And so at
last the weary Campagna was traversed, and the two carriages began to
ascend among the mountains.
Several other travelers were passing over that Campagna road, and in
the same direction. They were not near enough for their faces to be
discerned, but the ladies could look back and see the signs of their
presence. First there was a carriage with two men, and about two miles
behind another carriage with two other men; while behind these, again,
there rode a solitary horseman, who was gradually gaining on the other
Now, if it had been possible for Mrs. Willoughby to look back and
discern the faces of the travelers who were moving along the road
behind her, what a sudden overturn there would have been in her
feelings, and what a blight would have fallen upon her spirits! But
Mrs. Willoughby remained in the most blissful ignorance of the persons
of these travelers, and so was able to maintain the sunshine of her
At length there came over that sunny soul the first cloud.
The solitary horseman, who had been riding behind, had overtaken the
The first carriage contained Lord Hawbury and Scone Dacres. As the
horseman passed, he recognized them with a careless nod and smile.
Scone Dacres grasped Lord Hawbury's arm.
"Did you see him?" he cried. "The Italian! I thought so! What do you
say now? Wasn't I right?"
"By Jove!" cried Lord Hawbury.
Whereupon Dacres relapsed into silence, sitting upright, glaring after
the horseman, cherishing in his gloomy soul the darkest and most
The horseman rode on further, and overtook the next carriage. In this
there were two men, one in the uniform of the Papal Zouaves, the other
in rusty black. He turned toward these, and greeted them with the same
nod and smile.
"Do you see that man, parson?" said the Baron to his companion. "Do
you recognize him?"
"Well, you saw him at Minnie's house. He came in."
"No, he didn't."
"Didn't he? No. By thunder, it wasn't that time. Well, at any rate,
that man, I believe, is at the bottom of the row. It's my belief that
he's trying to cut me out, and he'll find he's got a hard row to hoe
before he succeeds in that project."
And with these words the Baron sat glaring after the Italian, with
something in his eye that resembled faintly the fierce glance of Scone
The Italian rode on. A few miles further were the two carriages.
Minnie and her sister were sitting on the front seats, and saw the
stranger as he advanced. He soon came near enough to be distinguished,
and Mrs. Willoughby recognized Girasole.
Her surprise was so great that she uttered an exclamation of terror,
which startled the other ladies, and made them all look in that
"How very odd!" said Ethel, thoughtfully.
"And now I suppose you'll all go and say that I brought _him_ too,"
said Minnie. "That's _always_ the way you do. You _never_ seem to
think that I may be innocent. You _always_ blame me for every little
mite of a thing that may happen."
No one made any remark, and there was silence in the carriage as the
stranger approached. The ladies bowed somewhat coolly, except Minnie,
who threw upon him the most imploring look that could possibly be sent
from human eyes, and the Italian's impressible nature thrilled before
those beseeching, pleading, earnest, unfathomable, tender, helpless,
innocent orbs. Removing his hat, he bowed low.
"I haf not been awara," he said, politely, in his broken English,
"that youar ladysippa's bin intend to travalla. Ees eet not subito
Mrs. Willoughby made a polite response of a general character, the
Italian paused a moment to drink in deep draughts from Minnie's great
beseeching eyes that were fixed upon his, and then, with a low bow, he
"I believe I'm losing my senses," said Mrs. Willoughby.
"Why, Kitty darling?" asked Minnie.
"I don't know how it is, but I actually trembled when that man came
up, and I haven't got over it yet."
"I'm sure I don't see why," said Minnie. "You're _always_ imagining
things, though. Now _isn't_ she, Ethel dearest?"
"Well, really, I don't see much in the Count to make one tremble. I
suppose poor dear Kitty has been too much agitated lately, and it's
her poor nerves."
"I have my lavender, Kitty dear," said Lady Dalrymple. "Won't you take
it? Or would you prefer valerian?"
"Thanks, much, but I do not need it," said Mrs. Willoughby. "I suppose
it will pass off."
"I'm sure the poor Count never did any body any harm," said Minnie,
plaintively; "so you needn't all abuse him so--unless you're all angry
at him for saving my life. I remember a time when you all thought very
differently, and all praised him up, no end."
"Really, Minnie darling, I have nothing against the Count, only once
he was a little too intrusive; but he seems to have got over that; and
if he'll only be nice and quiet and proper, I'm sure I've nothing to
say against him."
They drove on for some time, and at length reached Civita Castellana.
Here they drove up to the hotel, and the ladies got out and went up to
their apartments. They had three rooms up stairs, two of which looked
out into the street, while the third was in the rear. At the front
windows was a balcony.
The ladies now disrobed themselves, and their maids assisted them to
perform the duties of a very simple toilet. Mrs. Willoughby's was
first finished. So she walked over to the window, and looked out into
It was not a very interesting place, nor was there much to be seen;
but she took a lazy, languid interest in the sight which met her eyes.
There were the two carriages. The horses were being led to water.
Around the carriages was a motley crowd, composed of the poor, the
maimed, the halt, the blind, forming that realm of beggars which from
immemorial ages has flourished in Italy. With these was intermingled a
crowd of ducks, geese, goats, pigs, and ill-looking, mangy, snarling
Upon these Mrs. Willoughby looked for some time, when at length her
ears were arrested by the roll of wheels down the street. A carriage
was approaching, in which there were two travelers. One hasty glance
sufficed, and she turned her attention once more to the ducks, geese,
goats, dogs, and beggars. In a few minutes the crowd was scattered by
the newly-arrived carriage. It stopped. A man jumped out. For a moment
he looked up, staring hard at the windows. That moment was enough.
Mrs. Willoughby had recognized him.
She rushed away from the windows. Lady Dalrymple and Ethel were in
this room, and Minnie in the one beyond. All were startled by Mrs.
Willoughby's exclamation, and still more by her looks.
"Oh!" she cried.
"What?" cried they. "What is it?"
"_He's_ there! _He's_ there!"
"Who? who?" they cried, in alarm.
"That horrid man!"
Lady Dalrymple and Ethel looked at one another in utter horror.
As for Minnie, she burst into the room, peeped out of the windows, saw
"that horrid man," then ran back, then sat down, then jumped up, and
then burst into a peal of the merriest laughter that ever was heard
"Oh, I'm _so_ glad! I'm _so_ glad!" she exclaimed. "Oh, it's so
_aw_fully funny. Oh, I'm _
You make me laugh worse. It's so _aw_fully funny!"
But while Minnie laughed thus, the others looked at each other in
still greater consternation, and for some time there was not one of
them who knew what to say.
But Lady Dalrymple again threw herself in the gap.
"You need not feel at all nervous, my dears," said she, gravely. "I do
not think that this person can give us any trouble. He certainly can
not intrude upon us in these apartments, and on the highway, you know,
it will be quite as difficult for him to hold any communication with
us. So I really don't see any cause for alarm on your part, nor do I
see why dear Minnie should exhibit such delight."
These words brought comfort to Ethel and Mrs. Willoughby. They at once
perceived their truth. To force himself into their presence in a
public hotel was, of course, impossible, even for one so reckless as
he seemed to be; and on the road he could not trouble them in any way,
since he would have to drive before them or behind them.
At Lady Dalrymple's reference to herself, Minnie looked up with a
"You're awfully cross with me, aunty darling," she said; "but I
forgive you. Only I can't help laughing, you know, to see how
frightened you all are at poor Rufus K. Gunn. And, Kitty dearest, oh
how you _did_ run away from the window! It was awfully funny, you
Not long after the arrival of the Baron and his friends another
carriage drove up. None of the ladies were at the window, and so they
did not see the easy nonchalance of Hawbury as he lounged into the
house, or the stern face of Scone Dacres as he strode before him.