Part 9 out of 31
authorities of the country in which he practices this kind
of philanthropy," said Franz.
"And what cares he for that," replied Gaetano with a laugh,
"or any authorities? He smiles at them. Let them try to
pursue him! Why, in the first place, his yacht is not a
ship, but a bird, and he would beat any frigate three knots
in every nine; and if he were to throw himself on the coast,
why, is he not certain of finding friends everywhere?"
It was perfectly clear that the Signor Sinbad, Franz's host,
had the honor of being on excellent terms with the smugglers
and bandits along the whole coast of the Mediterranean, and
so enjoyed exceptional privileges. As to Franz, he had no
longer any inducement to remain at Monte Cristo. He had lost
all hope of detecting the secret of the grotto; he
consequently despatched his breakfast, and, his boat being
ready, he hastened on board, and they were soon under way.
At the moment the boat began her course they lost sight of
the yacht, as it disappeared in the gulf of Porto-Vecchio.
With it was effaced the last trace of the preceding night;
and then supper, Sinbad, hashish, statues, -- all became a
dream for Franz. The boat sailed on all day and all night,
and next morning, when the sun rose, they had lost sight of
Monte Cristo. When Franz had once again set foot on shore,
he forgot, for the moment at least, the events which had
just passed, while he finished his affairs of pleasure at
Florence, and then thought of nothing but how he should
rejoin his companion, who was awaiting him at Rome.
He set out, and on the Saturday evening reached the Eternal
City by the mail-coach. An apartment, as we have said, had
been retained beforehand, and thus he had but to go to
Signor Pastrini's hotel. But this was not so easy a matter,
for the streets were thronged with people, and Rome was
already a prey to that low and feverish murmur which
precedes all great events; and at Rome there are four great
events in every year, -- the Carnival, Holy Week, Corpus
Christi, and the Feast of St. Peter. All the rest of the
year the city is in that state of dull apathy, between life
and death, which renders it similar to a kind of station
between this world and the next -- a sublime spot, a
resting-place full of poetry and character, and at which
Franz had already halted five or six times, and at each time
found it more marvellous and striking. At last he made his
way through the mob, which was continually increasing and
getting more and more turbulent, and reached the hotel. On
his first inquiry he was told, with the impertinence
peculiar to hired hackney-coachmen and inn-keepers with
their houses full, that there was no room for him at the
Hotel de Londres. Then he sent his card to Signor Pastrini,
and asked for Albert de Morcerf. This plan succeeded; and
Signor Pastrini himself ran to him, excusing himself for
having made his excellency wait, scolding the waiters,
taking the candlestick from the porter, who was ready to
pounce on the traveller and was about to lead him to Albert,
when Morcerf himself appeared.
The apartment consisted of two small rooms and a parlor. The
two rooms looked onto the street -- a fact which Signor
Pastrini commented upon as an inappreciable advantage. The
rest of the floor was hired by a very rich gentleman who was
supposed to be a Sicilian or Maltese; but the host was
unable to decide to which of the two nations the traveller
belonged. "Very good, signor Pastrini," said Franz; "but we
must have some supper instantly, and a carriage for tomorrow
and the following days."
"As to supper," replied the landlord, "you shall be served
immediately; but as for the carriage" --
"What as to the carriage?" exclaimed Albert. "Come, come,
Signor Pastrini, no joking; we must have a carriage."
"Sir," replied the host, "we will do all in our power to
procure you one -- this is all I can say."
"And when shall we know?" inquired Franz.
"To-morrow morning," answered the inn-keeper.
"Oh, the deuce! then we shall pay the more, that's all, I
see plainly enough. At Drake's or Aaron's one pays
twenty-five lire for common days, and thirty or thirty-five
lire a day more for Sundays and feast days; add five lire a
day more for extras, that will make forty, and there's an
end of it."
"I am afraid if we offer them double that we shall not
procure a carriage."
"Then they must put horses to mine. It is a little worse for
the journey, but that's no matter."
"There are no horses." Albert looked at Franz like a man who
hears a reply he does not understand.
"Do you understand that, my dear Franz -- no horses?" he
said, "but can't we have post-horses?"
"They have been all hired this fortnight, and there are none
left but those absolutely requisite for posting."
"What are we to say to this?" asked Franz.
"I say, that when a thing completely surpasses my
comprehension, I am accustomed not to dwell on that thing,
but to pass to another. Is supper ready, Signor Pastrini?"
"Yes, your excellency."
"Well, then, let us sup."
"But the carriage and horses?" said Franz.
"Be easy, my dear boy; they will come in due season; it is
only a question of how much shall be charged for them."
Morcerf then, with that delighted philosophy which believes
that nothing is impossible to a full purse or well-lined
pocketbook, supped, went to bed, slept soundly, and dreamed
he was racing all over Rome at Carnival time in a coach with
The next morning Franz woke first, and instantly rang the
bell. The sound had not yet died away when Signor Pastrini
"Well, excellency," said the landlord triumphantly, and
without waiting for Franz to question him, "I feared
yesterday, when I would not promise you anything, that you
were too late -- there is not a single carriage to be had --
that is, for the last three days of the carnival."
"Yes," returned Franz, "for the very three days it is most
"What is the matter?" said Albert, entering; "no carriage to
"Just so," returned Franz, "you have guessed it."
"Well, your Eternal City is a nice sort of place."
"That is to say, excellency," replied Pastrini, who was
desirous of keeping up the dignity of the capital of the
Christian world in the eyes of his guest, "that there are no
carriages to be had from Sunday to Tuesday evening, but from
now till Sunday you can have fifty if you please."
"Ah, that is something," said Albert; "to-day is Thursday,
and who knows what may arrive between this and Sunday?"
"Ten or twelve thousand travellers will arrive," replied
Franz, "which will make it still more difficult."
"My friend," said Morcerf, "let us enjoy the present without
gloomy forebodings for the future."
"At least we can have a window?"
"In the Corso."
"Ah, a window!" exclaimed Signor Pastrini, -- "utterly
impossible; there was only one left on the fifth floor of
the Doria Palace, and that has been let to a Russian prince
for twenty sequins a day."
The two young men looked at each other with an air of
"Well," said Franz to Albert, "do you know what is the best
thing we can do? It is to pass the Carnival at Venice; there
we are sure of obtaining gondolas if we cannot have
"Ah, the devil, no," cried Albert; "I came to Rome to see
the Carnival, and I will, though I see it on stilts."
"Bravo! an excellent idea. We will disguise ourselves as
monster pulchinellos or shepherds of the Landes, and we
shall have complete success."
"Do your excellencies still wish for a carriage from now to
"Parbleu!" said Albert, "do you think we are going to run
about on foot in the streets of Rome, like lawyer's clerks?"
"I hasten to comply with your excellencies' wishes; only, I
tell you beforehand, the carriage will cost you six piastres
"And, as I am not a millionaire, like the gentleman in the
next apartments," said Franz, "I warn you, that as I have
been four times before at Rome, I know the prices of all the
carriages; we will give you twelve piastres for to-day,
tomorrow, and the day after, and then you will make a good
"But, excellency" -- said Pastrini, still striving to gain
"Now go," returned Franz, "or I shall go myself and bargain
with your affettatore, who is mine also; he is an old friend
of mine, who has plundered me pretty well already, and, in
the hope of making more out of me, he will take a less price
than the one I offer you; you will lose the preference, and
that will be your fault."
"Do not give yourselves the trouble, excellency," returned
Signor Pastrini, with the smile peculiar to the Italian
speculator when he confesses defeat; "I will do all I can,
and I hope you will be satisfied."
"And now we understand each other."
"When do you wish the carriage to be here?"
"In an hour."
"In an hour it will be at the door."
An hour after the vehicle was at the door; it was a hack
conveyance which was elevated to the rank of a private
carriage in honor of the occasion, but, in spite of its
humble exterior, the young men would have thought themselves
happy to have secured it for the last three days of the
Carnival. "Excellency," cried the cicerone, seeing Franz
approach the window, "shall I bring the carriage nearer to
Accustomed as Franz was to the Italian phraseology, his
first impulse was to look round him, but these words were
addressed to him. Franz was the "excellency," the vehicle
was the "carriage," and the Hotel de Londres was the
"palace." The genius for laudation characteristic of the
race was in that phrase.
Franz and Albert descended, the carriage approached the
palace; their excellencies stretched their legs along the
seats; the cicerone sprang into the seat behind. "Where do
your excellencies wish to go?" asked he.
"To Saint Peter's first, and then to the Colosseum,"
returned Albert. But Albert did not know that it takes a day
to see Saint Peter's, and a month to study it. The day was
passed at Saint Peter's alone. Suddenly the daylight began
to fade away; Franz took out his watch -- it was half-past
four. They returned to the hotel; at the door Franz ordered
the coachman to be ready at eight. He wished to show Albert
the Colosseum by moonlight, as he had shown him Saint
Peter's by daylight. When we show a friend a city one has
already visited, we feel the same pride as when we point out
a woman whose lover we have been. He was to leave the city
by the Porta del Popolo, skirt the outer wall, and re-enter
by the Porta San Giovanni; thus they would behold the
Colosseum without finding their impressions dulled by first
looking on the Capitol, the Forum, the Arch of Septimus
Severus, the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, and the Via
Sacra. They sat down to dinner. Signor Pastrini had promised
them a banquet; he gave them a tolerable repast. At the end
of the dinner he entered in person. Franz thought that he
came to hear his dinner praised, and began accordingly, but
at the first words he was interrupted. "Excellency," said
Pastrini, "I am delighted to have your approbation, but it
was not for that I came."
"Did you come to tell us you have procured a carriage?"
asked Albert, lighting his cigar.
"No; and your excellencies will do well not to think of that
any longer; at Rome things can or cannot be done; when you
are told anything cannot he done, there is an end of it."
"It is much more convenient at Paris, -- when anything
cannot be done, you pay double, and it is done directly."
"That is what all the French say," returned Signor Pastrini,
somewhat piqued; "for that reason, I do not understand why
"But," said Albert, emitting a volume of smoke and balancing
his chair on its hind legs, "only madmen, or blockheads like
us, ever do travel. Men in their senses do not quit their
hotel in the Rue du Helder, their walk on the Boulevard de
Gand, and the Cafe de Paris." It is of course understood
that Albert resided in the aforesaid street, appeared every
day on the fashionable walk, and dined frequently at the
only restaurant where you can really dine, that is, if you
are on good terms with its frequenters. Signor Pastrini
remained silent a short time; it was evident that he was
musing over this answer, which did not seem very clear.
"But," said Franz, in his turn interrupting his host's
meditations, "you had some motive for coming here, may I beg
to know what it was?"
"Ah, yes; you have ordered your carriage at eight o'clock
"You intend visiting Il Colosseo."
"You mean the Colosseum?"
"It is the same thing. You have told your coachman to leave
the city by the Porta del Popolo, to drive round the walls,
and re-enter by the Porta San Giovanni?"
"These are my words exactly."
"Well, this route is impossible."
"Very dangerous, to say the least."
"Dangerous! -- and why?"
"On account of the famous Luigi Vampa."
"Pray, who may this famous Luigi Vampa be?" inquired Albert;
"he may be very famous at Rome, but I can assure you he is
quite unknown at Paris."
"What! do you not know him?"
"I have not that honor."
"You have never heard his name?"
"Well, then, he is a bandit, compared to whom the Decesaris
and the Gasparones were mere children."
"Now then, Albert," cried Franz, "here is a bandit for you
"I forewarn you, Signor Pastrini, that I shall not believe
one word of what you are going to tell us; having told you
"Once upon a time" --
"Well, go on." Signor Pastrini turned toward Franz, who
seemed to him the more reasonable of the two; we must do him
justice, -- he had had a great many Frenchmen in his house,
but had never been able to comprehend them. "Excellency,"
said he gravely, addressing Franz, "if you look upon me as a
liar, it is useless for me to say anything; it was for your
interest I" --
"Albert does not say you are a liar, Signor Pastrini," said
Franz, "but that he will not believe what you are going to
tell us, -- but I will believe all you say; so proceed."
"But if your excellency doubt my veracity" --
"Signor Pastrini," returned Franz, "you are more susceptible
than Cassandra, who was a prophetess, and yet no one
believed her; while you, at least, are sure of the credence
of half your audience. Come, sit down, and tell us all about
this Signor Vampa."
"I had told your excellency he is the most famous bandit we
have had since the days of Mastrilla."
"Well, what has this bandit to do with the order I have
given the coachman to leave the city by the Porta del
Popolo, and to re-enter by the Porta San Giovanni?"
"This," replied Signor Pastrini, "that you will go out by
one, but I very much doubt your returning by the other."
"Why?" asked Franz.
"Because, after nightfall, you are not safe fifty yards from
"On your honor is that true?" cried Albert.
"Count," returned Signor Pastrini, hurt at Albert's repeated
doubts of the truth of his assertions, "I do not say this to
you, but to your companion, who knows Rome, and knows, too,
that these things are not to be laughed at."
"My dear fellow," said Albert, turning to Franz, "here is an
admirable adventure; we will fill our carriage with pistols,
blunderbusses, and double-barrelled guns. Luigi Vampa comes
to take us, and we take him -- we bring him back to Rome,
and present him to his holiness the Pope, who asks how he
can repay so great a service; then we merely ask for a
carriage and a pair of horses, and we see the Carnival in
the carriage, and doubtless the Roman people will crown us
at the Capitol, and proclaim us, like Curtius and the veiled
Horatius, the preservers of their country." Whilst Albert
proposed this scheme, Signor Pastrini's face assumed an
expression impossible to describe.
"And pray," asked Franz, "where are these pistols,
blunderbusses, and other deadly weapons with which you
intend filling the carriage?"
"Not out of my armory, for at Terracina I was plundered even
of my hunting-knife."
"I shared the same fate at Aquapendente."
"Do you know, Signor Pastrini," said Albert, lighting a
second cigar at the first, "that this practice is very
convenient for bandits, and that it seems to be due to an
arrangement of their own." Doubtless Signor Pastrini found
this pleasantry compromising, for he only answered half the
question, and then he spoke to Franz, as the only one likely
to listen with attention. "Your excellency knows that it is
not customary to defend yourself when attacked by bandits."
"What!" cried Albert, whose courage revolted at the idea of
being plundered tamely, "not make any resistance!"
"No, for it would be useless. What could you do against a
dozen bandits who spring out of some pit, ruin, or aqueduct,
and level their pieces at you?"
"Eh, parbleu! -- they should kill me."
The inn-keeper turned to Franz with an air that seemed to
say, "Your friend is decidedly mad."
"My dear Albert," returned Franz, "your answer is sublime,
and worthy the `Let him die,' of Corneille, only, when
Horace made that answer, the safety of Rome was concerned;
but, as for us, it is only to gratify a whim, and it would
be ridiculous to risk our lives for so foolish a motive."
Albert poured himself out a glass of lacryma Christi, which
he sipped at intervals, muttering some unintelligible words.
"Well, Signor Pastrini," said Franz, "now that my companion
is quieted, and you have seen how peaceful my intentions
are, tell me who is this Luigi Vampa. Is he a shepherd or a
nobleman? -- young or old? -- tall or short? Describe him,
in order that, if we meet him by chance, like Bugaboo John
or Lara, we may recognize him."
"You could not apply to any one better able to inform you on
all these points, for I knew him when he was a child, and
one day that I fell into his hands, going from Ferentino to
Alatri, he, fortunately for me, recollected me, and set me
free, not only without ransom, but made me a present of a
very splendid watch, and related his history to me."
"Let us see the watch," said Albert.
Signor Pastrini drew from his fob a magnificent Breguet,
bearing the name of its maker, of Parisian manufacture, and
a count's coronet.
"Here it is," said he.
"Peste," returned Albert, "I compliment you on it; I have
its fellow" -- he took his watch from his waistcoat pocket
-- "and it cost me 3,000 francs."
"Let us hear the history," said Franz, motioning Signor
Pastrini to seat himself.
"Your excellencies permit it?" asked the host.
"Pardieu!" cried Albert, "you are not a preacher, to remain
The host sat down, after having made each of them a
respectful bow, which meant that he was ready to tell them
all they wished to know concerning Luigi Vampa. "You tell
me," said Franz, at the moment Signor Pastrini was about to
open his mouth, "that you knew Luigi Vampa when he was a
child -- he is still a young man, then?"
"A young man? he is only two and twenty; -- he will gain
himself a reputation."
"What do you think of that, Albert? -- at two and twenty to
be thus famous?"
"Yes, and at his age, Alexander, Caesar, and Napoleon, who
have all made some noise in the world, were quite behind
"So," continued Franz, "the hero of this history is only two
"Scarcely so much."
"Is he tall or short?"
"Of the middle height -- about the same stature as his
excellency," returned the host, pointing to Albert.
"Thanks for the comparison," said Albert, with a bow.
"Go on, Signor Pastrini," continued Franz, smiling at his
friend's susceptibility. "To what class of society does he
"He was a shepherd-boy attached to the farm of the Count of
San-Felice, situated between Palestrina and the lake of
Gabri; he was born at Pampinara, and entered the count's
service when he was five years old; his father was also a
shepherd, who owned a small flock, and lived by the wool and
the milk, which he sold at Rome. When quite a child, the
little Vampa displayed a most extraordinary precocity. One
day, when he was seven years old, he came to the curate of
Palestrina, and asked to be taught to read; it was somewhat
difficult, for he could not quit his flock; but the good
curate went every day to say mass at a little hamlet too
poor to pay a priest and which, having no other name, was
called Borgo; he told Luigi that he might meet him on his
return, and that then he would give him a lesson, warning
him that it would be short, and that he must profit as much
as possible by it. The child accepted joyfully. Every day
Luigi led his flock to graze on the road that leads from
Palestrina to Borgo; every day, at nine o'clock in the
morning, the priest and the boy sat down on a bank by the
wayside, and the little shepherd took his lesson out of the
priest's breviary. At the end of three months he had learned
to read. This was not enough -- he must now learn to write.
The priest had a writing teacher at Rome make three
alphabets -- one large, one middling, and one small; and
pointed out to him that by the help of a sharp instrument he
could trace the letters on a slate, and thus learn to write.
The same evening, when the flock was safe at the farm, the
little Luigi hastened to the smith at Palestrina, took a
large nail, heated and sharpened it, and formed a sort of
stylus. The next morning he gathered an armful of pieces of
slate and began. At the end of three months he had learned
to write. The curate, astonished at his quickness and
intelligence, made him a present of pens, paper, and a
penknife. This demanded new effort, but nothing compared to
the first; at the end of a week he wrote as well with this
pen as with the stylus. The curate related the incident to
the Count of San-Felice, who sent for the little shepherd,
made him read and write before him, ordered his attendant to
let him eat with the domestics, and to give him two piastres
a month. With this, Luigi purchased books and pencils. He
applied his imitative powers to everything, and, like
Giotto, when young, he drew on his slate sheep, houses, and
trees. Then, with his knife, he began to carve all sorts of
objects in wood; it was thus that Pinelli, the famous
sculptor, had commenced.
"A girl of six or seven -- that is, a little younger than
Vampa -- tended sheep on a farm near Palestrina; she was an
orphan, born at Valmontone and was named Teresa. The two
children met, sat down near each other, let their flocks
mingle together, played, laughed, and conversed together; in
the evening they separated the Count of San-Felice's flock
from those of Baron Cervetri, and the children returned to
their respective farms, promising to meet the next morning.
The next day they kept their word, and thus they grew up
together. Vampa was twelve, and Teresa eleven. And yet their
natural disposition revealed itself. Beside his taste for
the fine arts, which Luigi had carried as far as he could in
his solitude, he was given to alternating fits of sadness
and enthusiasm, was often angry and capricious, and always
sarcastic. None of the lads of Pampinara, Palestrina, or
Valmontone had been able to gain any influence over him or
even to become his companion. His disposition (always
inclined to exact concessions rather than to make them) kept
him aloof from all friendships. Teresa alone ruled by a
look, a word, a gesture, this impetuous character, which
yielded beneath the hand of a woman, and which beneath the
hand of a man might have broken, but could never have been
bended. Teresa was lively and gay, but coquettish to excess.
The two piastres that Luigi received every month from the
Count of San-Felice's steward, and the price of all the
little carvings in wood he sold at Rome, were expended in
ear-rings, necklaces, and gold hairpins. So that, thanks to
her friend's generosity, Teresa was the most beautiful and
the best-attired peasant near Rome. The two children grew up
together, passing all their time with each other, and giving
themselves up to the wild ideas of their different
characters. Thus, in all their dreams, their wishes, and
their conversations, Vampa saw himself the captain of a
vessel, general of an army, or governor of a province.
Teresa saw herself rich, superbly attired, and attended by a
train of liveried domestics. Then, when they had thus passed
the day in building castles in the air, they separated their
flocks, and descended from the elevation of their dreams to
the reality of their humble position.
"One day the young shepherd told the count's steward that he
had seen a wolf come out of the Sabine mountains, and prowl
around his flock. The steward gave him a gun; this was what
Vampa longed for. This gun had an excellent barrel, made at
Breschia, and carrying a ball with the precision of an
English rifle; but one day the count broke the stock, and
had then cast the gun aside. This, however, was nothing to a
sculptor like Vampa; he examined the broken stock,
calculated what change it would require to adapt the gun to
his shoulder, and made a fresh stock, so beautifully carved
that it would have fetched fifteen or twenty piastres, had
he chosen to sell it. But nothing could be farther from his
thoughts. For a long time a gun had been the young man's
greatest ambition. In every country where independence has
taken the place of liberty, the first desire of a manly
heart is to possess a weapon, which at once renders him
capable of defence or attack, and, by rendering its owner
terrible, often makes him feared. From this moment Vampa
devoted all his leisure time to perfecting himself in the
use of his precious weapon; he purchased powder and ball,
and everything served him for a mark -- the trunk of some
old and moss-grown olive-tree, that grew on the Sabine
mountains; the fox, as he quitted his earth on some
marauding excursion; the eagle that soared above their
heads: and thus he soon became so expert, that Teresa
overcame the terror she at first felt at the report, and
amused herself by watching him direct the ball wherever he
pleased, with as much accuracy as if he placed it by hand.
"One evening a wolf emerged from a pine-wood hear which they
were usually stationed, but the wolf had scarcely advanced
ten yards ere he was dead. Proud of this exploit, Vampa took
the dead animal on his shoulders, and carried him to the
farm. These exploits had gained Luigi considerable
reputation. The man of superior abilities always finds
admirers, go where he will. He was spoken of as the most
adroit, the strongest, and the most courageous contadino for
ten leagues around; and although Teresa was universally
allowed to be the most beautiful girl of the Sabines, no one
had ever spoken to her of love, because it was known that
she was beloved by Vampa. And yet the two young people had
never declared their affection; they had grown together like
two trees whose roots are mingled, whose branches
intertwined, and whose intermingled perfume rises to the
heavens. Only their wish to see each other had become a
necessity, and they would have preferred death to a day's
separation. Teresa was sixteen, and Vampa seventeen. About
this time, a band of brigands that had established itself in
the Lepini mountains began to be much spoken of. The
brigands have never been really extirpated from the
neighborhood of Rome. Sometimes a chief is wanted, but when
a chief presents himself he rarely has to wait long for a
band of followers.
"The celebrated Cucumetto, pursued in the Abruzzo, driven
out of the kingdom of Naples, where he had carried on a
regular war, had crossed the Garigliano, like Manfred, and
had taken refuge on the banks of the Amasine between Sonnino
and Juperno. He strove to collect a band of followers, and
followed the footsteps of Decesaris and Gasperone, whom he
hoped to surpass. Many young men of Palestrina, Frascati,
and Pampinara had disappeared. Their disappearance at first
caused much disquietude; but it was soon known that they had
joined Cucumetto. After some time Cucumetto became the
object of universal attention; the most extraordinary traits
of ferocious daring and brutality were related of him. One
day he carried off a young girl, the daughter of a surveyor
of Frosinone. The bandit's laws are positive; a young girl
belongs first to him who carries her off, then the rest draw
lots for her, and she is abandoned to their brutality until
death relieves her sufferings. When their parents are
sufficiently rich to pay a ransom, a messenger is sent to
negotiate; the prisoner is hostage for the security of the
messenger; should the ransom be refused, the prisoner is
irrevocably lost. The young girl's lover was in Cucumetto's
troop; his name was Carlini. When she recognized her lover,
the poor girl extended her arms to him, and believed herself
safe; but Carlini felt his heart sink, for he but too well
knew the fate that awaited her. However, as he was a
favorite with Cucumetto, as he had for three years
faithfully served him, and as he had saved his life by
shooting a dragoon who was about to cut him down, he hoped
the chief would have pity on him. He took Cucumetto one
side, while the young girl, seated at the foot of a huge
pine that stood in the centre of the forest, made a veil of
her picturesque head-dress to hide her face from the
lascivious gaze of the bandits. There he told the chief all
-- his affection for the prisoner, their promises of mutual
fidelity, and how every night, since he had been near, they
had met in some neighboring ruins.
"It so happened that night that Cucumetto had sent Carlini
to a village, so that he had been unable to go to the place
of meeting. Cucumetto had been there, however, by accident,
as he said, and had carried the maiden off. Carlini besought
his chief to make an exception in Rita's favor, as her
father was rich, and could pay a large ransom. Cucumetto
seemed to yield to his friend's entreaties, and bade him
find a shepherd to send to Rita's father at Frosinone.
Carlini flew joyfully to Rita, telling her she was saved,
and bidding her write to her father, to inform him what had
occurred, and that her ransom was fixed at three hundred
piastres. Twelve hours' delay was all that was granted --
that is, until nine the next morning. The instant the letter
was written, Carlini seized it, and hastened to the plain to
find a messenger. He found a young shepherd watching his
flock. The natural messengers of the bandits are the
shepherds who live between the city and the mountains,
between civilized and savage life. The boy undertook the
commission, promising to be in Frosinone in less than an
hour. Carlini returned, anxious to see his mistress, and
announce the joyful intelligence. He found the troop in the
glade, supping off the provisions exacted as contributions
from the peasants; but his eye vainly sought Rita and
Cucumetto among them. He inquired where they were, and was
answered by a burst of laughter. A cold perspiration burst
from every pore, and his hair stood on end. He repeated his
question. One of the bandits rose, and offered him a glass
filled with Orvietto, saying, `To the health of the brave
Cucumetto and the fair Rita.' At this moment Carlini heard a
woman's cry; he divined the truth, seized the glass, broke
it across the face of him who presented it, and rushed
towards the spot whence the cry came. After a hundred yards
he turned the corner of the thicket; he found Rita senseless
in the arms of Cucumetto. At the sight of Carlini, Cucumetto
rose, a pistol in each hand. The two brigands looked at each
other for a moment -- the one with a smile of lasciviousness
on his lips, the other with the pallor of death on his brow.
A terrible battle between the two men seemed imminent; but
by degrees Carlini's features relaxed, his hand, which had
grasped one of the pistols in his belt, fell to his side.
Rita lay between them. The moon lighted the group.
"`Well,' said Cucumetto, `have you executed your
"`Yes, captain,' returned Carlini. `At nine o'clock
to-morrow Rita's father will be here with the money.' -- `It
is well; in the meantime, we will have a merry night; this
young girl is charming, and does credit to your taste. Now,
as I am not egotistical, we will return to our comrades and
draw lots for her.' -- `You have determined, then, to
abandon her to the common law?" said Carlini.
"`Why should an exception be made in her favor?'
"`I thought that my entreaties' --
"`What right have you, any more than the rest, to ask for an
exception?' -- `It is true.' -- `But never mind,' continued
Cucumetto, laughing, `sooner or later your turn will come.'
Carlini's teeth clinched convulsively.
"`Now, then,' said Cucumetto, advancing towards the other
bandits, `are you coming?' -- `I follow you.'
"Cucumetto departed, without losing sight of Carlini, for,
doubtless, he feared lest he should strike him unawares; but
nothing betrayed a hostile design on Carlini's part. He was
standing, his arms folded, near Rita, who was still
insensible. Cucumetto fancied for a moment the young man was
about to take her in his arms and fly; but this mattered
little to him now Rita had been his; and as for the money,
three hundred piastres distributed among the band was so
small a sum that he cared little about it. He continued to
follow the path to the glade; but, to his great surprise,
Carlini arrived almost as soon as himself. `Let us draw
lots! let us draw lots!' cried all the brigands, when they
saw the chief.
"Their demand was fair, and the chief inclined his head in
sign of acquiescence. The eyes of all shone fiercely as they
made their demand, and the red light of the fire made them
look like demons. The names of all, including Carlini, were
placed in a hat, and the youngest of the band drew forth a
ticket; the ticket bore the name of Diovolaccio. He was the
man who had proposed to Carlini the health of their chief,
and to whom Carlini replied by breaking the glass across his
face. A large wound, extending from the temple to the mouth,
was bleeding profusely. Diovalaccio, seeing himself thus
favored by fortune, burst into a loud laugh. `Captain,' said
he, `just now Carlini would not drink your health when I
proposed it to him; propose mine to him, and let us see if
he will be more condescending to you than to me.' Every one
expected an explosion on Carlini's part; but to their great
surprise, he took a glass in one hand and a flask in the
other, and filling it, -- `Your health, Diavolaccio,' said
he calmly, and he drank it off, without his hand trembling
in the least. Then sitting down by the fire, `My supper,'
said he; `my expedition has given me an appetite.' -- `Well
done, Carlini!' cried the brigands; `that is acting like a
good fellow;' and they all formed a circle round the fire,
while Diavolaccio disappeared. Carlini ate and drank as if
nothing had happened. The bandits looked on with
astonishment at this singular conduct until they heard
footsteps. They turned round, and saw Diavolaccio bearing
the young girl in his arms. Her head hung back, and her long
hair swept the ground. As they entered the circle, the
bandits could perceive, by the firelight, the unearthly
pallor of the young girl and of Diavolaccio. This apparition
was so strange and so solemn, that every one rose, with the
exception of Carlini, who remained seated, and ate and drank
calmly. Diavolaccio advanced amidst the most profound
silence, and laid Rita at the captain's feet. Then every one
could understand the cause of the unearthly pallor in the
young girl and the bandit. A knife was plunged up to the
hilt in Rita's left breast. Every one looked at Carlini; the
sheath at his belt was empty. `Ah, ah,' said the chief, `I
now understand why Carlini stayed behind.' All savage
natures appreciate a desperate deed. No other of the bandits
would, perhaps, have done the same; but they all understood
what Carlini had done. `Now, then,' cried Carlini, rising in
his turn, and approaching the corpse, his hand on the butt
of one of his pistols, `does any one dispute the possession
of this woman with me?' -- `No,' returned the chief, `she is
thine.' Carlini raised her in his arms, and carried her out
of the circle of firelight. Cucumetto placed his sentinels
for the night, and the bandits wrapped themselves in their
cloaks, and lay down before the fire. At midnight the
sentinel gave the alarm, and in an instant all were on the
alert. It was Rita's father, who brought his daughter's
ransom in person. `Here,' said he, to Cucumetto, `here are
three hundred piastres; give me back my child. But the
chief, without taking the money, made a sign to him to
follow. The old man obeyed. They both advanced beneath the
trees, through whose branches streamed the moonlight.
Cucumetto stopped at last, and pointed to two persons
grouped at the foot of a tree.
"`There,' said he, `demand thy child of Carlini; he will
tell thee what has become of her;' and he returned to his
companions. The old man remained motionless; he felt that
some great and unforeseen misfortune hung over his head. At
length he advanced toward the group, the meaning of which he
could not comprehend. As he approached, Carlini raised his
head, and the forms of two persons became visible to the old
man's eyes. A woman lay on the ground, her head resting on
the knees of a man, who was seated by her; as he raised his
head, the woman's face became visible. The old man
recognized his child, and Carlini recognized the old man. `I
expected thee,' said the bandit to Rita's father. --
`Wretch!' returned the old man, `what hast thou done?' and
he gazed with terror on Rita, pale and bloody, a knife
buried in her bosom. A ray of moonlight poured through the
trees, and lighted up the face of the dead. -- `Cucumetto
had violated thy daughter,' said the bandit; `I loved her,
therefore I slew her; for she would have served as the sport
of the whole band.' The old man spoke not, and grew pale as
death. `Now,' continued Carlini, `if I have done wrongly,
avenge her;' and withdrawing the knife from the wound in
Rita's bosom, he held it out to the old man with one hand,
while with the other he tore open his vest. -- `Thou hast
done well!' returned the old man in a hoarse voice; `embrace
me, my son.' Carlini threw himself, sobbing like a child,
into the arms of his mistress's father. These were the first
tears the man of blood had ever wept. `Now,' said the old
man, `aid me to bury my child.' Carlini fetched two
pickaxes; and the father and the lover began to dig at the
foot of a huge oak, beneath which the young girl was to
repose. When the grave was formed, the father kissed her
first, and then the lover; afterwards, one taking the head,
the other the feet, they placed her in the grave. Then they
knelt on each side of the grave, and said the prayers of the
dead. Then, when they had finished, they cast the earth over
the corpse, until the grave was filled. Then, extending his
hand, the old man said; `I thank you, my son; and now leave
me alone.' -- `Yet' -- replied Carlini. -- `Leave me, I
command you.' Carlini obeyed, rejoined his comrades, folded
himself in his cloak, and soon appeared to sleep as soundly
as the rest. It had been resolved the night before to change
their encampment. An hour before daybreak, Cucumetto aroused
his men, and gave the word to march. But Carlini would not
quit the forest, without knowing what had become of Rita's
father. He went toward the place where he had left him. He
found the old man suspended from one of the branches of the
oak which shaded his daughter's grave. He then took an oath
of bitter vengeance over the dead body of the one and the
tomb of the other. But he was unable to complete this oath,
for two days afterwards, in an encounter with the Roman
carbineers, Carlini was killed. There was some surprise,
however, that, as he was with his face to the enemy, he
should have received a ball between his shoulders. That
astonishment ceased when one of the brigands remarked to his
comrades that Cucumetto was stationed ten paces in Carlini's
rear when he fell. On the morning of the departure from the
forest of Frosinone he had followed Carlini in the darkness,
and heard this oath of vengeance, and, like a wise man,
anticipated it. They told ten other stories of this bandit
chief, each more singular than the other. Thus, from Fondi
to Perusia, every one trembles at the name of Cucumetto.
"These narratives were frequently the theme of conversation
between Luigi and Teresa. The young girl trembled very much
at hearing the stories; but Vampa reassured her with a
smile, tapping the butt of his good fowling-piece, which
threw its ball so well; and if that did not restore her
courage, he pointed to a crow, perched on some dead branch,
took aim, touched the trigger, and the bird fell dead at the
foot of the tree. Time passed on, and the two young people
had agreed to be married when Vampa should be twenty and
Teresa nineteen years of age. They were both orphans, and
had only their employers' leave to ask, which had been
already sought and obtained. One day when they were talking
over their plans for the future, they heard two or three
reports of firearms, and then suddenly a man came out of the
wood, near which the two young persons used to graze their
flocks, and hurried towards them. When he came within
hearing, he exclaimed. `I am pursued; can you conceal me?'
They knew full well that this fugitive must be a bandit; but
there is an innate sympathy between the Roman brigand and
the Roman peasant and the latter is always ready to aid the
former. Vampa, without saying a word, hastened to the stone
that closed up the entrance to their grotto, drew it away,
made a sign to the fugitive to take refuge there, in a
retreat unknown to every one, closed the stone upon him, and
then went and resumed his seat by Teresa. Instantly
afterwards four carbineers, on horseback, appeared on the
edge of the wood; three of them appeared to be looking for
the fugitive, while the fourth dragged a brigand prisoner by
the neck. The three carbineers looked about carefully on
every side, saw the young peasants, and galloping up, began
to question them. They had seen no one. `That is very
annoying,' said the brigadier; for the man we are looking
for is the chief.' -- `Cucumetto?' cried Luigi and Teresa at
the same moment.
"`Yes,' replied the brigadier; `and as his head is valued at
a thousand Roman crowns, there would have been five hundred
for you, if you had helped us to catch him.' The two young
persons exchanged looks. The brigadier had a moment's hope.
Five hundred Roman crowns are three thousand lire, and three
thousand lire are a fortune for two poor orphans who are
going to be married.
"`Yes, it is very annoying,' said Vampa; `but we have not
"Then the carbineers scoured the country in different
directions, but in vain; then, after a time, they
disappeared. Vampa then removed the stone, and Cucumetto
came out. Through the crevices in the granite he had seen
the two young peasants talking with the carbineers, and
guessed the subject of their parley. He had read in the
countenances of Luigi and Teresa their steadfast resolution
not to surrender him, and he drew from his pocket a purse
full of gold, which he offered to them. But Vampa raised his
head proudly; as to Teresa, her eyes sparkled when she
thought of all the fine gowns and gay jewellery she could
buy with this purse of gold.
"Cucumetto was a cunning fiend, and had assumed the form of
a brigand instead of a serpent, and this look from Teresa
showed to him that she was a worthy daughter of Eve, and he
returned to the forest, pausing several times on his way,
under the pretext of saluting his protectors. Several days
elapsed, and they neither saw nor heard of Cucumetto. The
time of the Carnival was at hand. The Count of San-Felice
announced a grand masked ball, to which all that were
distinguished in Rome were invited. Teresa had a great
desire to see this ball. Luigi asked permission of his
protector, the steward, that she and he might be present
amongst the servants of the house. This was granted. The
ball was given by the Count for the particular pleasure of
his daughter Carmela, whom he adored. Carmela was precisely
the age and figure of Teresa, and Teresa was as handsome as
Carmela. On the evening of the ball Teresa was attired in
her best, her most brilliant ornaments in her hair, and
gayest glass beads, -- she was in the costume of the women
of Frascati. Luigi wore the very picturesque garb of the
Roman peasant at holiday time. They both mingled, as they
had leave to do, with the servants and peasants.
"The festa was magnificent; not only was the villa
brilliantly illuminated, but thousands of colored lanterns
were suspended from the trees in the garden; and very soon
the palace overflowed to the terraces, and the terraces to
the garden-walks. At each cross-path was an orchestra, and
tables spread with refreshments; the guests stopped, formed
quadrilles, and danced in any part of the grounds they
pleased. Carmela was attired like a woman of Sonnino. Her
cap was embroidered with pearls, the pins in her hair were
of gold and diamonds, her girdle was of Turkey silk, with
large embroidered flowers, her bodice and skirt were of
cashmere, her apron of Indian muslin, and the buttons of her
corset were of jewels. Two of her companions were dressed,
the one as a woman of Nettuno, and the other as a woman of
La Riccia. Four young men of the richest and noblest
families of Rome accompanied them with that Italian freedom
which has not its parallel in any other country in the
world. They were attired as peasants of Albano, Velletri,
Civita-Castellana, and Sora. We need hardly add that these
peasant costumes, like those of the young women, were
brilliant with gold and jewels.
"Carmela wished to form a quadrille, but there was one lady
wanting. Carmela looked all around her, but not one of the
guests had a costume similar to her own, or those of her
companions. The Count of San-Felice pointed out Teresa, who
was hanging on Luigi's arm in a group of peasants. `Will you
allow me, father?' said Carmela. -- `Certainly,' replied the
count, `are we not in Carnival time?' -- Carmela turned
towards the young man who was talking with her, and saying a
few words to him, pointed with her finger to Teresa. The
young man looked, bowed in obedience, and then went to
Teresa, and invited her to dance in a quadrille directed by
the count's daughter. Teresa felt a flush pass over her
face; she looked at Luigi, who could not refuse his assent.
Luigi slowly relinquished Teresa's arm, which he had held
beneath his own, and Teresa, accompanied by her elegant
cavalier, took her appointed place with much agitation in
the aristocratic quadrille. Certainly, in the eyes of an
artist, the exact and strict costume of Teresa had a very
different character from that of Carmela and her companions;
and Teresa was frivolous and coquettish, and thus the
embroidery and muslins, the cashmere waist-girdles, all
dazzled her, and the reflection of sapphires and diamonds
almost turned her giddy brain.
"Luigi felt a sensation hitherto unknown arising in his
mind. It was like an acute pain which gnawed at his heart,
and then thrilled through his whole body. He followed with
his eye each movement of Teresa and her cavalier; when their
hands touched, he felt as though he should swoon; every
pulse beat with violence, and it seemed as though a bell
were ringing in his ears. When they spoke, although Teresa
listened timidly and with downcast eyes to the conversation
of her cavalier, as Luigi could read in the ardent looks of
the good-looking young man that his language was that of
praise, it seemed as if the whole world was turning round
with him, and all the voices of hell were whispering in his
ears ideas of murder and assassination. Then fearing that
his paroxysm might get the better of him, he clutched with
one hand the branch of a tree against which he was leaning,
and with the other convulsively grasped the dagger with a
carved handle which was in his belt, and which, unwittingly,
he drew from the scabbard from time to time. Luigi was
jealous! He felt that, influenced by her ambitions and
coquettish disposition, Teresa might escape him.
"The young peasant girl, at first timid and scared, soon
recovered herself. We have said that Teresa was handsome,
but this is not all; Teresa was endowed with all those wild
graces which are so much more potent than our affected and
studied elegancies. She had almost all the honors of the
quadrille, and if she were envious of the Count of
San-Felice's daughter, we will not undertake to say that
Carmela was not jealous of her. And with overpowering
compliments her handsome cavalier led her back to the place
whence he had taken her, and where Luigi awaited her. Twice
or thrice during the dance the young girl had glanced at
Luigi, and each time she saw that he was pale and that his
features were agitated, once even the blade of his knife,
half drawn from its sheath, had dazzled her eyes with its
sinister glare. Thus, it was almost tremblingly that she
resumed her lover's arm. The quadrille had been most
perfect, and it was evident there was a great demand for a
repetition, Carmela alone objecting to it, but the Count of
San-Felice besought his daughter so earnestly, that she
acceded. One of the cavaliers then hastened to invite
Teresa, without whom it was impossible for the quadrille to
be formed, but the young girl had disappeared. The truth
was, that Luigi had not felt the strength to support another
such trial, and, half by persuasion and half by force, he
had removed Teresa toward another part of the garden. Teresa
had yielded in spite of herself, but when she looked at the
agitated countenance of the young man, she understood by his
silence and trembling voice that something strange was
passing within him. She herself was not exempt from internal
emotion, and without having done anything wrong, yet fully
comprehended that Luigi was right in reproaching her. Why,
she did not know, but yet she did not the less feel that
these reproaches were merited. However, to Teresa's great
astonishment, Luigi remained mute, and not a word escaped
his lips the rest of the evening. When the chill of the
night had driven away the guests from the gardens, and the
gates of the villa were closed on them for the festa
in-doors, he took Teresa quite away, and as he left her at
her home, he said, --
"`Teresa, what were you thinking of as you danced opposite
the young Countess of San-Felice?' -- `I thought,' replied
the young girl, with all the frankness of her nature, `that
I would give half my life for a costume such as she wore.'
"`And what said your cavalier to you?' -- `He said it only
depended on myself to have it, and I had only one word to
"`He was right,' said Luigi. `Do you desire it as ardently
as you say?' -- `Yes.' -- `Well, then, you shall have it!'
"The young girl, much astonished, raised her head to look at
him, but his face was so gloomy and terrible that her words
froze to her lips. As Luigi spoke thus, he left her. Teresa
followed him with her eyes into the darkness as long as she
could, and when he had quite disappeared, she went into the
house with a sigh.
"That night a memorable event occurred, due, no doubt, to
the imprudence of some servant who had neglected to
extinguish the lights. The Villa of San-Felice took fire in
the rooms adjoining the very apartment of the lovely
Carmela. Awakened in the night by the light of the flames,
she sprang out of bed, wrapped herself in a dressing-gown,
and attempted to escape by the door, but the corridor by
which she hoped to fly was already a prey to the flames. She
then returned to her room, calling for help as loudly as she
could, when suddenly her window, which was twenty feet from
the ground, was opened, a young peasant jumped into the
chamber, seized her in his arms, and with superhuman skill
and strength conveyed her to the turf of the grass-plot,
where she fainted. When she recovered, her father was by her
side. All the servants surrounded her, offering her
assistance. An entire wing of the villa was burnt down; but
what of that, as long as Carmela was safe and uninjured? Her
preserver was everywhere sought for, but he did not appear;
he was inquired after, but no one had seen him. Carmela was
greatly troubled that she had not recognized him. As the
count was immensely rich, excepting the danger Carmela had
run, -- and the marvellous manner in which she had escaped,
made that appear to him rather a favor of providence than a
real misfortune, -- the loss occasioned by the conflagration
was to him but a trifle.
"The next day, at the usual hour, the two young peasants
were on the borders of the forest. Luigi arrived first. He
came toward Teresa in high spirits, and seemed to have
completely forgotten the events of the previous evening. The
young girl was very pensive, but seeing Luigi so cheerful,
she on her part assumed a smiling air, which was natural to
her when she was not excited or in a passion. Luigi took her
arm beneath his own, and led her to the door of the grotto.
Then he paused. The young girl, perceiving that there was
something extraordinary, looked at him steadfastly.
`Teresa,' said Luigi, `yesterday evening you told me you
would give all the world to have a costume similar to that
of the count's daughter.' -- `Yes,' replied Teresa with
astonishment; `but I was mad to utter such a wish.' -- `And
I replied, "Very well, you shall have it."' -- `Yes,'
replied the young girl, whose astonishment increased at
every word uttered by Luigi, `but of course your reply was
only to please me.'
"`I have promised no more than I have given you, Teresa,'
said Luigi proudly. `Go into the grotto and dress yourself.'
At these words he drew away the stone, and showed Teresa the
grotto, lighted up by two wax lights, which burnt on each
side of a splendid mirror; on a rustic table, made by Luigi,
were spread out the pearl necklace and the diamond pins, and
on a chair at the side was laid the rest of the costume.
"Teresa uttered a cry of joy, and, without inquiring whence
this attire came, or even thanking Luigi, darted into the
grotto, transformed into a dressing-room. Luigi pushed the
stone behind her, for on the crest of a small adjacent hill
which cut off the view toward Palestrina, he saw a traveller
on horseback, stopping a moment, as if uncertain of his
road, and thus presenting against the blue sky that perfect
outline which is peculiar to distant objects in southern
climes. When he saw Luigi, he put his horse into a gallop
and advanced toward him. Luigi was not mistaken. The
traveller, who was going from Palestrina to Tivoli, had
mistaken his way; the young man directed him; but as at a
distance of a quarter of a mile the road again divided into
three ways, and on reaching these the traveller might again
stray from his route, he begged Luigi to be his guide. Luigi
threw his cloak on the ground, placed his carbine on his
shoulder, and freed from his heavy covering, preceded the
traveller with the rapid step of a mountaineer, which a
horse can scarcely keep up with. In ten minutes Luigi and
the traveller reached the cross-roads. On arriving there,
with an air as majestic as that of an emperor, he stretched
his hand towards that one of the roads which the traveller
was to follow. -- "That is your road, excellency, and now
you cannot again mistake.' -- `And here is your recompense,'
said the traveller, offering the young herdsman some small
pieces of money.
"`Thank you,' said Luigi, drawing back his hand; `I render a
service, I do not sell it.' -- `Well,' replied the
traveller, who seemed used to this difference between the
servility of a man of the cities and the pride of the
mountaineer, `if you refuse wages, you will, perhaps, accept
a gift.' -- `Ah, yes, that is another thing.' -- `Then,'
said the traveller, `take these two Venetian sequins and
give them to your bride, to make herself a pair of
"`And then do you take this poniard,' said the young
herdsman; `you will not find one better carved between
Albano and Civita-Castellana.'
"`I accept it,' answered the traveller, `but then the
obligation will be on my side, for this poniard is worth
more than two sequins.' -- `For a dealer perhaps; but for
me, who engraved it myself, it is hardly worth a piastre.'
"`What is your name?' inquired the traveller. -- `Luigi
Vampa,' replied the shepherd, with the same air as he would
have replied, Alexander, King of Macedon. -- `And yours?' --
`I,' said the traveller, `am called Sinbad the Sailor.'"
Franz d'Epinay started with surprise.
"Sinbad the Sailor." he said.
"Yes," replied the narrator; "that was the name which the
traveller gave to Vampa as his own."
"Well, and what may you have to say against this name?"
inquired Albert; "it is a very pretty name, and the
adventures of the gentleman of that name amused me very much
in my youth, I must confess." -- Franz said no more. The
name of Sinbad the Sailor, as may well be supposed, awakened
in him a world of recollections, as had the name of the
Count of Monte Cristo on the previous evening.
"Proceed!" said he to the host.
"Vampa put the two sequins haughtily into his pocket, and
slowly returned by the way he had gone. As he came within
two or three hundred paces of the grotto, he thought he
heard a cry. He listened to know whence this sound could
proceed. A moment afterwards he thought he heard his own
name pronounced distinctly. The cry proceeded from the
grotto. He bounded like a chamois, cocking his carbine as he
went, and in a moment reached the summit of a hill opposite
to that on which he had perceived the traveller. Three cries
for help came more distinctly to his ear. He cast his eyes
around him and saw a man carrying off Teresa, as Nessus, the
centaur, carried Dejanira. This man, who was hastening
towards the wood, was already three-quarters of the way on
the road from the grotto to the forest. Vampa measured the
distance; the man was at least two hundred paces in advance
of him, and there was not a chance of overtaking him. The
young shepherd stopped, as if his feet had been rooted to
the ground; then he put the butt of his carbine to his
shoulder, took aim at the ravisher, followed him for a
second in his track, and then fired. The ravisher stopped
suddenly, his knees bent under him, and he fell with Teresa
in his arms. The young girl rose instantly, but the man lay
on the earth struggling in the agonies of death. Vampa then
rushed towards Teresa; for at ten paces from the dying man
her legs had failed her, and she had dropped on her knees,
so that the young man feared that the ball that had brought
down his enemy, had also wounded his betrothed. Fortunately,
she was unscathed, and it was fright alone that had overcome
Teresa. When Luigi had assured himself that she was safe and
unharmed, he turned towards the wounded man. He had just
expired, with clinched hands, his mouth in a spasm of agony,
and his hair on end in the sweat of death. His eyes remained
open and menacing. Vampa approached the corpse, and
recognized Cucumetto. From the day on which the bandit had
been saved by the two young peasants, he had been enamoured
of Teresa, and had sworn she should be his. From that time
he had watched them, and profiting by the moment when her
lover had left her alone, had carried her off, and believed
he at length had her in his power, when the ball, directed
by the unerring skill of the young herdsman, had pierced his
heart. Vampa gazed on him for a moment without betraying the
slightest emotion; while, on the contrary, Teresa,
shuddering in every limb, dared not approach the slain
ruffian but by degrees, and threw a hesitating glance at the
dead body over the shoulder of her lover. Suddenly Vampa
turned toward his mistress: -- `Ah,' said he -- `good, good!
You are dressed; it is now my turn to dress myself.'
"Teresa was clothed from head to foot in the garb of the
Count of San-Felice's daughter. Vampa took Cucumetto's body
in his arms and conveyed it to the grotto, while in her turn
Teresa remained outside. If a second traveller had passed,
he would have seen a strange thing, -- a shepherdess
watching her flock, clad in a cashmere grown, with ear-rings
and necklace of pearls, diamond pins, and buttons of
sapphires, emeralds, and rubies. He would, no doubt, have
believed that he had returned to the times of Florian, and
would have declared, on reaching Paris, that he had met an
Alpine shepherdess seated at the foot of the Sabine Hill. At
the end of a quarter of an hour Vampa quitted the grotto;
his costume was no less elegant than that of Teresa. He wore
a vest of garnet-colored velvet, with buttons of cut gold; a
silk waistcoat covered with embroidery; a Roman scarf tied
round his neck; a cartridge-box worked with gold, and red
and green silk; sky-blue velvet breeches, fastened above the
knee with diamond buckles; garters of deerskin, worked with
a thousand arabesques, and a hat whereon hung ribbons of all
colors; two watches hung from his girdle, and a splendid
poniard was in his belt. Teresa uttered a cry of admiration.
Vampa in this attire resembled a painting by Leopold Robert,
or Schnetz. He had assumed the entire costume of Cucumetto.
The young man saw the effect produced on his betrothed, and
a smile of pride passed over his lips. -- `Now,' he said to
Teresa, `are you ready to share my fortune, whatever it may
be?' -- `Oh, yes!' exclaimed the young girl
enthusiastically. -- `And follow me wherever I go?' -- `To
the world's end.' -- `Then take my arm, and let us on; we
have no time to lose.' -- The young girl did so without
questioning her lover as to where he was conducting her, for
he appeared to her at this moment as handsome, proud, and
powerful as a god. They went towards the forest, and soon
entered it. We need scarcely say that all the paths of the
mountain were known to Vampa; he therefore went forward
without a moment's hesitation, although there was no beaten
track, but he knew his path by looking at the trees and
bushes, and thus they kept on advancing for nearly an hour
and a half. At the end of this time they had reached the
thickest of the forest. A torrent, whose bed was dry, led
into a deep gorge. Vampa took this wild road, which,
enclosed between two ridges, and shadowed by the tufted
umbrage of the pines, seemed, but for the difficulties of
its descent, that path to Avernus of which Virgil speaks.
Teresa had become alarmed at the wild and deserted look of
the plain around her, and pressed closely against her guide,
not uttering a syllable; but as she saw him advance with
even step and composed countenance, she endeavored to
repress her emotion. Suddenly, about ten paces from them, a
man advanced from behind a tree and aimed at Vampa. -- `Not
another step,' he said, `or you are a dead man.' -- `What,
then,' said Vampa, raising his hand with a gesture of
disdain, while Teresa, no longer able to restrain her alarm,
clung closely to him, `do wolves rend each other?' -- `Who
are you?' inquired the sentinel. -- `I am Luigi Vampa,
shepherd of the San-Felice farm.' -- `What do you want?' --
`I would speak with your companions who are in the glade at
Rocca Bianca.' -- `Follow me, then,' said the sentinel; `or,
as you know your way, go first.' -- Vampa smiled
disdainfully at this precaution on the part of the bandit,
went before Teresa, and continued to advance with the same
firm and easy step as before. At the end of ten minutes the
bandit made them a sign to stop. The two young persons
obeyed. Then the bandit thrice imitated the cry of a crow; a
croak answered this signal. -- `Good!' said the sentry, `you
may now go on.' -- Luigi and Teresa again set forward; as
they went on Teresa clung tremblingly to her lover at the
sight of weapons and the glistening of carbines through the
trees. The retreat of Rocca Bianca was at the top of a small
mountain, which no doubt in former days had been a volcano
-- an extinct volcano before the days when Remus and Romulus
had deserted Alba to come and found the city of Rome. Teresa
and Luigi reached the summit, and all at once found
themselves in the presence of twenty bandits. `Here is a
young man who seeks and wishes to speak to you,' said the
sentinel. -- `What has he to say?' inquired the young man
who was in command in the chief's absence. -- `I wish to say
that I am tired of a shepherd's life,' was Vampa's reply. --
`Ah, I understand,' said the lieutenant; `and you seek
admittance into our ranks?' -- `Welcome!' cried several
bandits from Ferrusino, Pampinara, and Anagni, who had
recognized Luigi Vampa. -- `Yes, but I came to ask something
more than to be your companion.' -- `And what may that be?'
inquired the bandits with astonishment. -- `I come to ask to
be your captain,' said the young man. The bandits shouted
with laughter. `And what have you done to aspire to this
honor?' demanded the lieutenant. -- `I have killed your
chief, Cucumetto, whose dress I now wear; and I set fire to
the villa San-Felice to procure a wedding-dress for my
betrothed.' An hour afterwards Luigi Vampa was chosen
captain, vice Cucumetto deceased."
"Well, my dear Albert," said Franz, turning towards his
friend; "what think you of citizen Luigi Vampa?"
"I say he is a myth," replied Albert, "and never had an
"And what may a myth be?" inquired Pastrini.
"The explanation would be too long, my dear landlord,"
"And you say that Signor Vampa exercises his profession at
this moment in the environs of Rome?"
"And with a boldness of which no bandit before him ever gave
"Then the police have vainly tried to lay hands on him?"
"Why, you see, he has a good understanding with the
shepherds in the plains, the fishermen of the Tiber, and the
smugglers of the coast. They seek for him in the mountains,
and he is on the waters; they follow him on the waters, and
he is on the open sea; then they pursue him, and he has
suddenly taken refuge in the islands, at Giglio, Guanouti,
or Monte Cristo; and when they hunt for him there, he
reappears suddenly at Albano, Tivoli, or La Riccia."
"And how does he behave towards travellers?"
"Alas! his plan is very simple. It depends on the distance
he may be from the city, whether he gives eight hours,
twelve hours, or a day wherein to pay their ransom; and when
that time has elapsed he allows another hour's grace. At the
sixtieth minute of this hour, if the money is not
forthcoming, he blows out the prisoner's brains with a
pistol-shot, or plants his dagger in his heart, and that
settles the account."
"Well, Albert," inquired Franz of his companion, "are you
still disposed to go to the Colosseum by the outer wall?"
"Quite so," said Albert, "if the way be picturesque." The
clock struck nine as the door opened, and a coachman
appeared. "Excellencies," said he, "the coach is ready."
"Well, then," said Franz, "let us to the Colosseum."
"By the Porta del Popolo or by the streets, your
"By the streets, morbleu, by the streets!" cried Franz.
"Ah, my dear fellow," said Albert, rising, and lighting his
third cigar, "really, I thought you had more courage." So
saying, the two young men went down the staircase, and got
into the carriage.
Franz had so managed his route, that during the ride to the
Colosseum they passed not a single ancient ruin, so that no
preliminary impression interfered to mitigate the colossal
proportions of the gigantic building they came to admire.
The road selected was a continuation of the Via Sistina;
then by cutting off the right angle of the street in which
stands Santa Maria Maggiore and proceeding by the Via Urbana
and San Pietro in Vincoli, the travellers would find
themselves directly opposite the Colosseum. This itinerary
possessed another great advantage, -- that of leaving Franz
at full liberty to indulge his deep reverie upon the subject
of Signor Pastrini's story, in which his mysterious host of
Monte Cristo was so strangely mixed up. Seated with folded
arms in a corner of the carriage, he continued to ponder
over the singular history he had so lately listened to, and
to ask himself an interminable number of questions touching
its various circumstances without, however, arriving at a
satisfactory reply to any of them. One fact more than the
rest brought his friend "Sinbad the Sailor" back to his
recollection, and that was the mysterious sort of intimacy
that seemed to exist between the brigands and the sailors;
and Pastrini's account of Vampa's having found refuge on
board the vessels of smugglers and fishermen, reminded Franz
of the two Corsican bandits he had found supping so amicably
with the crew of the little yacht, which had even deviated
from its course and touched at Porto-Vecchio for the sole
purpose of landing them. The very name assumed by his host
of Monte Cristo and again repeated by the landlord of the
Hotel de Londres, abundantly proved to him that his island
friend was playing his philanthropic part on the shores of
Piombino, Civita-Vecchio, Ostia, and Gaeta, as on those of
Corsica, Tuscany, and Spain; and further, Franz bethought
him of having heard his singular entertainer speak both of
Tunis and Palermo, proving thereby how largely his circle of
But however the mind of the young man might be absorbed in
these reflections, they were at once dispersed at the sight
of the dark frowning ruins of the stupendous Colosseum,
through the various openings of which the pale moonlight
played and flickered like the unearthly gleam from the eyes
of the wandering dead. The carriage stopped near the Meta
Sudans; the door was opened, and the young men, eagerly
alighting, found themselves opposite a cicerone, who
appeared to have sprung up from the ground, so unexpected
was his appearance.
The usual guide from the hotel having followed them, they
had paid two conductors, nor is it possible, at Rome, to
avoid this abundant supply of guides; besides the ordinary
cicerone, who seizes upon you directly you set foot in your
hotel, and never quits you while you remain in the city,
there is also a special cicerone belonging to each monument
-- nay, almost to each part of a monument. It may,
therefore, be easily imagined there is no scarcity of guides
at the Colosseum, that wonder of all ages, which Martial
thus eulogizes: "Let Memphis cease to boast the barbarous
miracles of her pyramids, and the wonders of Babylon be
talked of no more among us; all must bow to the superiority
of the gigantic labor of the Caesars, and the many voices of
Fame spread far and wide the surpassing merits of this
As for Albert and Franz, they essayed not to escape from
their ciceronian tyrants; and, indeed, it would have been so
much the more difficult to break their bondage, as the
guides alone are permitted to visit these monuments with
torches in their hands. Thus, then, the young men made no
attempt at resistance, but blindly and confidingly
surrendered themselves into the care and custody of their
conductors. Albert had already made seven or eight similar
excursions to the Colosseum, while his less favored
companion trod for the first time in his life the classic
ground forming the monument of Flavius Vespasian; and, to
his credit be it spoken, his mind, even amid the glib
loquacity of the guides, was duly and deeply touched with
awe and enthusiastic admiration of all he saw; and certainly
no adequate notion of these stupendous ruins can be formed
save by such as have visited them, and more especially by
moonlight, at which time the vast proportions of the
building appear twice as large when viewed by the mysterious
beams of a southern moonlit sky, whose rays are sufficiently
clear and vivid to light the horizon with a glow equal to
the soft twilight of an eastern clime. Scarcely, therefore,
had the reflective Franz walked a hundred steps beneath the
interior porticoes of the ruin, than, abandoning Albert to
the guides (who would by no means yield their prescriptive
right of carrying their victims through the routine
regularly laid down, and as regularly followed by them, but
dragged the unconscious visitor to the various objects with
a pertinacity that admitted of no appeal, beginning, as a
matter of course, with the Lions' Den, and finishing with
Caesar's "Podium,"), to escape a jargon and mechanical
survey of the wonders by which he was surrounded, Franz
ascended a half-dilapidated staircase, and, leaving them to
follow their monotonous round, seated himself at the foot of
a column, and immediately opposite a large aperture, which
permitted him to enjoy a full and undisturbed view of the
gigantic dimensions of the majestic ruin.
Franz had remained for nearly a quarter of an hour perfectly
hidden by the shadow of the vast column at whose base he had
found a resting-place, and from whence his eyes followed the
motions of Albert and his guides, who, holding torches in
their hands, had emerged from a vomitarium at the opposite
extremity of the Colosseum, and then again disappeared down
the steps conducting to the seats reserved for the Vestal
virgins, resembling, as they glided along, some restless
shades following the flickering glare of so many
ignes-fatui. All at once his ear caught a sound resembling
that of a stone rolling down the staircase opposite the one
by which he had himself ascended. There was nothing
remarkable in the circumstance of a fragment of granite
giving way and falling heavily below; but it seemed to him
that the substance that fell gave way beneath the pressure
of a foot, and also that some one, who endeavored as much as
possible to prevent his footsteps from being heard, was
approaching the spot where he sat. Conjecture soon became
certainty, for the figure of a man was distinctly visible to
Franz, gradually emerging from the staircase opposite, upon
which the moon was at that moment pouring a full tide of
The stranger thus presenting himself was probably a person
who, like Franz, preferred the enjoyment of solitude and his
own thoughts to the frivolous gabble of the guides. And his
appearance had nothing extraordinary in it; but the
hesitation with which he proceeded, stopping and listening
with anxious attention at every step he took, convinced
Franz that he expected the arrival of some person. By a sort
of instinctive impulse, Franz withdrew as much as possible
behind his pillar. About ten feet from the spot where he and
the stranger were, the roof had given way, leaving a large
round opening, through which might be seen the blue vault of
heaven, thickly studded with stars. Around this opening,
which had, possibly, for ages permitted a free entrance to
the brilliant moonbeams that now illumined the vast pile,
grew a quantity of creeping plants, whose delicate green
branches stood out in bold relief against the clear azure of
the firmament, while large masses of thick, strong fibrous
shoots forced their way through the chasm, and hung floating
to and fro, like so many waving strings. The person whose
mysterious arrival had attracted the attention of Franz
stood in a kind of half-light, that rendered it impossible
to distinguish his features, although his dress was easily
made out. He wore a large brown mantle, one fold of which,
thrown over his left shoulder, served likewise to mask the
lower part of his countenance, while the upper part was
completely hidden by his broad-brimmed hat. The lower part
of his dress was more distinctly visible by the bright rays
of the moon, which, entering through the broken ceiling,
shed their refulgent beams on feet cased in elegantly made
boots of polished leather, over which descended fashionably
cut trousers of black cloth.
From the imperfect means Franz had of judging, he could only
come to one conclusion, -- that the person whom he was thus
watching certainly belonged to no inferior station of life.
Some few minutes had elapsed, and the stranger began to show
manifest signs of impatience, when a slight noise was heard
outside the aperture in the roof, and almost immediately a
dark shadow seemed to obstruct the flood of light that had
entered it, and the figure of a man was clearly seen gazing
with eager scrutiny on the immense space beneath him; then,
as his eye caught sight of him in the mantle, he grasped a
floating mass of thickly matted boughs, and glided down by
their help to within three or four feet of the ground, and
then leaped lightly on his feet. The man who had performed
this daring act with so much indifference wore the
Transtevere costume. "I beg your excellency's pardon for
keeping you waiting," said the man, in the Roman dialect,
"but I don't think I'm many minutes after my time, ten
o'clock his just struck on the Lateran."
"Say not a word about being late," replied the stranger in
purest Tuscan; "'tis I who am too soon. But even if you had
caused me to wait a little while, I should have felt quite
sure that the delay was not occasioned by any fault of
"Your excellency is perfectly right in so thinking," said
the man; "I came here direct from the Castle of St. Angelo,
and I had an immense deal of trouble before I could get a
chance to speak to Beppo."
"And who is Beppo?"
"Oh, Beppo is employed in the prison, and I give him so much
a year to let me know what is going on within his holiness's
"Indeed! You are a provident person, I see."
"Why, you see, no one knows what may happen. Perhaps some of
these days I may be entrapped, like poor Peppino and may be
very glad to have some little nibbling mouse to gnaw the
meshes of my net, and so help me out of prison."
"Briefly, what did you glean?"
"That two executions of considerable interest will take
place the day after to-morrow at two o'clock, as is
customary at Rome at the commencement of all great
festivals. One of the culprits will be mazzolato;* he is an
atrocious villain, who murdered the priest who brought him
up, and deserves not the smallest pity. The other sufferer
is sentenced to be decapitato;** and he, your excellency, is
* Knocked on the head.
"The fact is, that you have inspired not only the pontifical
government, but also the neighboring states, with such
extreme fear, that they are glad of all opportunity of
making an example."
"But Peppino did not even belong to my band: he was merely a
poor shepherd, whose only crime consisted in furnishing us
"Which makes him your accomplice to all intents and
purposes. But mark the distinction with which he is treated;
instead of being knocked on the head as you would be if once
they caught hold of you, he is simply sentenced to be
guillotined, by which means, too, the amusements of the day
are diversified, and there is a spectacle to please every
"Without reckoning the wholly unexpected one I am preparing
to surprise them with."
"My good friend," said the man in the cloak, "excuse me for
saying that you seem to me precisely in the mood to commit
some wild or extravagant act."
"Perhaps I am; but one thing I have resolved on, and that
is, to stop at nothing to restore a poor devil to liberty,
who has got into this scrape solely from having served me. I
should hate and despise myself as a coward did I desert the
brave fellow in his present extremity."
"And what do you mean to do?"
"To surround the scaffold with twenty of my best men, who,
at a signal from me, will rush forward directly Peppino is
brought for execution, and, by the assistance of their
stilettos, drive back the guard, and carry off the
"That seems to me as hazardous as uncertain, and convinces
me that my scheme is far better than yours."
"And what is your excellency's project?"
"Just this. I will so advantageously bestow 2,000 piastres,
that the person receiving them shall obtain a respite till
next year for Peppino; and during that year, another
skilfully placed 1,000 piastres will afford him the means of
escaping from his prison."
"And do you feel sure of succeeding?"
"Pardieu!" exclaimed the man in the cloak, suddenly
expressing himself in French.
"What did your excellency say?" inquired the other.
"I said, my good fellow, that I would do more single-handed
by the means of gold than you and all your troop could
effect with stilettos, pistols, carbines, and blunderbusses
included. Leave me, then, to act, and have no fears for the
"At least, there can be no harm in myself and party being in
readiness, in case your excellency should fail."
"None whatever. Take what precautions you please, if it is
any satisfaction to you to do so; but rely upon my obtaining
the reprieve I seek."
"Remember, the execution is fixed for the day after
tomorrow, and that you have but one day to work in."
"And what of that? Is not a day divided into twenty-four
hours, each hour into sixty minutes, and every minute
sub-divided into sixty seconds? Now in 86,400 seconds very
many things can be done."
"And how shall I know whether your excellency has succeeded
"Oh, that is very easily arranged. I have engaged the three
lower windows at the Cafe Rospoli; should I have obtained
the requisite pardon for Peppino, the two outside windows
will be hung with yellow damasks, and the centre with white,
having a large cross in red marked on it."
"And whom will you employ to carry the reprieve to the
officer directing the execution?"
"Send one of your men, disguised as a penitent friar, and I
will give it to him. His dress will procure him the means of
approaching the scaffold itself, and he will deliver the
official order to the officer, who, in his turn, will hand
it to the executioner; in the meantime, it will be as well
to acquaint Peppino with what we have determined on, if it
be only to prevent his dying of fear or losing his senses,
because in either case a very useless expense will have been
"Your excellency," said the man, "you are fully persuaded of
my entire devotion to you, are you not?"
"Nay, I flatter myself that there can be no doubt of it,"
replied the cavalier in the cloak.
"Well, then, only fulfil your promise of rescuing Peppino,
and henceforward you shall receive not only devotion, but
the most absolute obedience from myself and those under me
that one human being can render to another."
"Have a care how far you pledge yourself, my good friend,
for I may remind you of your promise at some, perhaps, not
very distant period, when I, in my turn, may require your
aid and influence."
"Let that day come sooner or later, your excellency will
find me what I have found you in this my heavy trouble; and
if from the other end of the world you but write me word to
do such or such a thing, you may regard it as done, for done
it shall be, on the word and faith of" --
"Hush!" interrupted the stranger; "I hear a noise."
"'Tis some travellers, who are visiting the Colosseum by
"'Twere better we should not be seen together; those guides
are nothing but spies, and might possibly recognize you;
and, however I may be honored by your friendship, my worthy
friend, if once the extent of our intimacy were known, I am
sadly afraid both my reputation and credit would suffer
"Well, then, if you obtain the reprieve?"
"The middle window at the Cafe Rospoli will be hung with
white damask, bearing a red cross."
"And if you fail?"
"Then all three windows will have yellow draperies."
"And then, my good fellow, use your daggers in any way you
please, and I further promise you to be there as a spectator
of your prowess."
"We understand each other perfectly, then. Adieu, your
excellency; depend upon me as firmly as I do upon you."
Saying these words, the Transteverin disappeared down the
staircase, while his companion, muffling his features more
closely than before in the folds of his mantle, passed
almost close to Franz, and descended to the arena by an
outward flight of steps. The next minute Franz heard himself
called by Albert, who made the lofty building re-echo with
the sound of his friend's name. Franz, however, did not obey
the summons till he had satisfied himself that the two men
whose conversation he had overheard were at a sufficient
distance to prevent his encountering them in his descent. In
ten minutes after the strangers had departed, Franz was on
the road to the Piazza de Spagni, listening with studied
indifference to the learned dissertation delivered by
Albert, after the manner of Pliny and Calpurnius, touching
the iron-pointed nets used to prevent the ferocious beasts
from springing on the spectators. Franz let him proceed
without interruption, and, in fact, did not hear what was
said; he longed to be alone, and free to ponder over all
that had occurred. One of the two men, whose mysterious
meeting in the Colosseum he had so unintentionally
witnessed, was an entire stranger to him, but not so the
other; and though Franz had been unable to distinguish his
features, from his being either wrapped in his mantle or
obscured by the shadow, the tones of his voice had made too
powerful an impression on him the first time he had heard
them for him ever again to forget them, hear them when or
where he might. It was more especially when this man was
speaking in a manner half jesting, half bitter, that Franz's
ear recalled most vividly the deep sonorous, yet
well-pitched voice that had addressed him in the grotto of
Monte Cristo, and which he heard for the second time amid
the darkness and ruined grandeur of the Colosseum. And the
more he thought, the more entire was his conviction, that
the person who wore the mantle was no other than his former
host and entertainer, "Sinbad the Sailor."
Under any other circumstances, Franz would have found it
impossible to resist his extreme curiosity to know more of
so singular a personage, and with that intent have sought to
renew their short acquaintance; but in the present instance,
the confidential nature of the conversation he had overheard
made him, with propriety, judge that his appearance at such
a time would be anything but agreeable. As we have seen,
therefore, he permitted his former host to retire without
attempting a recognition, but fully promising himself a rich
indemnity for his present forbearance should chance afford
him another opportunity. In vain did Franz endeavor to
forget the many perplexing thoughts which assailed him; in
vain did he court the refreshment of sleep. Slumber refused
to visit his eyelids and the night was passed in feverish
contemplation of the chain of circumstances tending to prove
the identity of the mysterious visitant to the Colosseum
with the inhabitant of the grotto of Monte Cristo; and the
more he thought, the firmer grew his opinion on the subject.
Worn out at length, he fell asleep at daybreak, and did not
awake till late. Like a genuine Frenchman, Albert had
employed his time in arranging for the evening's diversion;
he had sent to engage a box at the Teatro Argentino; and
Franz, having a number of letters to write, relinquished the
carriage to Albert for the whole of the day. At five o'clock
Albert returned, delighted with his day's work; he had been
occupied in leaving his letters of introduction, and had
received in return more invitations to balls and routs than
it would be possible for him to accept; besides this, he had
seen (as he called it) all the remarkable sights at Rome.
Yes, in a single day he had accomplished what his more
serious-minded companion would have taken weeks to effect.
Neither had he neglected to ascertain the name of the piece
to be played that night at the Teatro Argentino, and also
what performers appeared in it.
The opera of "Parisina" was announced for representation,
and the principal actors were Coselli, Moriani, and La
Specchia. The young men, therefore, had reason to consider
themselves fortunate in having the opportunity of hearing
one of the best works by the composer of "Lucia di
Lammermoor," supported by three of the most renowned
vocalists of Italy. Albert had never been able to endure the
Italian theatres, with their orchestras from which it is
impossible to see, and the absence of balconies, or open
boxes; all these defects pressed hard on a man who had had
his stall at the Bouffes, and had shared a lower box at the
Opera. Still, in spite of this, Albert displayed his most
dazzling and effective costumes each time he visited the
theatres; but, alas, his elegant toilet was wholly thrown
away, and one of the most worthy representatives of Parisian
fashion had to carry with him the mortifying reflection that
he had nearly overrun Italy without meeting with a single
Sometimes Albert would affect to make a joke of his want of
success; but internally he was deeply wounded, and his
self-love immensely piqued, to think that Albert de Morcerf,
the most admired and most sought after of any young person
of his day, should thus be passed over, and merely have his
labor for his pains. And the thing was so much the more
annoying, as, according to the characteristic modesty of a
Frenchman, Albert had quitted Paris with the full conviction
that he had only to show himself in Italy to carry all
before him, and that upon his return he should astonish the
Parisian world with the recital of his numerous
love-affairs. Alas, poor Albert! none of those interesting
adventures fell in his way; the lovely Genoese, Florentines,
and Neapolitans were all faithful, if not to their husbands,
at least to their lovers, and thought not of changing even
for the splendid appearance of Albert de Morcerf; and all he
gained was the painful conviction that the ladies of Italy
have this advantage over those of France, that they are
faithful even in their infidelity. Yet he could not restrain
a hope that in Italy, as elsewhere, there might be an
exception to the general rule. Albert, besides being an
elegant, well-looking young man, was also possessed of
considerable talent and ability; moreover, he was a viscount
-- a recently created one, certainly, but in the present day
it is not necessary to go as far back as Noah in tracing a
descent, and a genealogical tree is equally estimated,
whether dated from 1399 or merely 1815; but to crown all
these advantages, Albert de Morcerf commanded an income of
50,000 livres, a more than sufficient sum to render him a
personage of considerable importance in Paris. It was
therefore no small mortification to him to have visited most
of the principal cities in Italy without having excited the
most trifling observation. Albert, however, hoped to
indemnify himself for all these slights and indifferences
during the Carnival, knowing full well that among the
different states and kingdoms in which this festivity is
celebrated, Rome is the spot where even the wisest and
gravest throw off the usual rigidity of their lives, and
deign to mingle in the follies of this time of liberty and
The Carnival was to commence on the morrow; therefore Albert
had not an instant to lose in setting forth the programme of
his hopes, expectations, and claims to notice. With this
design he had engaged a box in the most conspicuous part of
the theatre, and exerted himself to set off his personal
attractions by the aid of the most rich and elaborate
toilet. The box taken by Albert was in the first circle;
although each of the three tiers of boxes is deemed equally
aristocratic, and is, for this reason, generally styled the
"nobility's boxes," and although the box engaged for the two
friends was sufficiently capacious to contain at least a
dozen persons, it had cost less than would be paid at some
of the French theatres for one admitting merely four
occupants. Another motive had influenced Albert's selection
of his seat, -- who knew but that, thus advantageously
placed, he might not in truth attract the notice of some
fair Roman, and an introduction might ensue that would
procure him the offer of a seat in a carriage, or a place in
a princely balcony, from which he might behold the gayeties
of the Carnival? These united considerations made Albert
more lively and anxious to please than he had hitherto been.
Totally disregarding the business of the stage, he leaned
from his box and began attentively scrutinizing the beauty
of each pretty woman, aided by a powerful opera-glass; but,
alas, this attempt to attract notice wholly failed; not even
curiosity had been excited, and it was but too apparent that
the lovely creatures, into whose good graces he was desirous
of stealing, were all so much engrossed with themselves,
their lovers, or their own thoughts, that they had not so
much as noticed him or the manipulation of his glass.
The truth was, that the anticipated pleasures of the
Carnival, with the "holy week" that was to succeed it, so
filled every fair breast, as to prevent the least attention
being bestowed even on the business of the stage. The actors
made their entries and exits unobserved or unthought of; at
certain conventional moments, the spectators would suddenly
cease their conversation, or rouse themselves from their
musings, to listen to some brilliant effort of Moriani's, a
well-executed recitative by Coselli, or to join in loud
applause at the wonderful powers of La Specchia; but that
momentary excitement over, they quickly relapsed into their
former state of preoccupation or interesting conversation.
Towards the close of the first act, the door of a box which
had been hitherto vacant was opened; a lady entered to whom
Franz had been introduced in Paris, where indeed, he had
imagined she still was. The quick eye of Albert caught the
involuntary start with which his friend beheld the new
arrival, and, turning to him, he said hastily, "Do you know
the woman who has just entered that box?"
"Yes; what do you think of her?"
"Oh, she is perfectly lovely -- what a complexion! And such
magnificent hair! Is she French?"
"No; a Venetian."
"And her name is -- "
"Countess G---- ."
"Ah, I know her by name!" exclaimed Albert; "she is said to
possess as much wit and cleverness as beauty. I was to have
been presented to her when I met her at Madame Villefort's
"Shall I assist you in repairing your negligence?" asked
"My dear fellow, are you really on such good terms with her
as to venture to take me to her box?"
"Why, I have only had the honor of being in her society and
conversing with her three or four times in my life; but you
know that even such an acquaintance as that might warrant my
doing what you ask." At that instant, the countess perceived
Franz, and graciously waved her hand to him, to which he
replied by a respectful inclination of the head. "Upon my
word," said Albert, "you seem to be on excellent terms with
the beautiful countess."
"You are mistaken in thinking so," returned Franz calmly;
"but you merely fall into the same error which leads so many
of our countrymen to commit the most egregious blunders, --
I mean that of judging the habits and customs of Italy and
Spain by our Parisian notions; believe me, nothing is more