The next morning Franz woke first, and instantly rang the bell. The sound ha_ot yet died away when Signor Pastrini himself entered.
"Well, excellency," said the landlord triumphantly, and without waiting fo_ranz to question him, "I feared yesterday, when I would not promise yo_nything, 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 needed."
"What is the matter?" said Albert, entering; "no carriage to be had?"
"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 u_he 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, bu_rom now till Sunday you can have fifty if you please."
"Ah, that is something," said Albert; "to-day is Thursday, and who knows wha_ay arrive between this and Sunday?"
"Ten or twelve thousand travellers will arrive," replied Franz, "which wil_ake it still more difficult."
"My friend," said Morcerf, "let us enjoy the present without gloom_orebodings for the future."
"At least we can have a window?"
"In the Corso."
"Ah, a window!" exclaimed Signor Pastrini, — "utterly impossible; there wa_nly one left on the fifth floor of the Doria Palace, and that has been let t_ Russian prince for twenty sequins a day."
The two young men looked at each other with an air of stupefaction.
"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 gondola_f we cannot have carriages."
"Ah, the devil, no," cried Albert; "I came to Rome to see the Carnival, and _ill, though I see it on stilts."
"Bravo! an excellent idea. We will disguise ourselves as monster pulchinello_r shepherds of the Landes, and we shall have complete success."
"Do your excellencies still wish for a carriage from now to Sunday morning?"
"Parbleu!" said Albert, "do you think we are going to run about on foot in th_treets of Rome, like lawyer's clerks?"
"I hasten to comply with your excellencies' wishes; only, I tell yo_eforehand, the carriage will cost you six piastres a day."
"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 kno_he 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 profit."
"But, excellency" — said Pastrini, still striving to gain his point.
"Now go," returned Franz, "or I shall go myself and bargain with you_ffettatore, who is mine also; he is an old friend of mine, who has plundere_e pretty well already, and, in the hope of making more out of me, he wil_ake a less price than the one I offer you; you will lose the preference, an_hat 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; "_ill 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 wa_levated to the rank of a private carriage in honor of the occasion, but, i_pite of its humble exterior, the young men would have thought themselve_appy to have secured it for the last three days of the Carnival.
"Excellency," cried the cicerone, seeing Franz approach the window, "shall _ring the carriage nearer to the palace?"
Accustomed as Franz was to the Italian phraseology, his first impulse was t_ook 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 tha_hrase.
Franz and Albert descended, the carriage approached the palace; thei_xcellencies stretched their legs along the seats; the cicerone sprang int_he seat behind. "Where do your excellencies wish to go?" asked he.
"To Saint Peter's first, and then to the Colosseum," returned Albert. Bu_lbert did not know that it takes a day to see Saint Peter's, and a month t_tudy it. The day was passed at Saint Peter's alone. Suddenly the dayligh_egan to fade away; Franz took out his watch — it was half-past four. The_eturned to the hotel; at the door Franz ordered the coachman to be ready a_ight. He wished to show Albert the Colosseum by moonlight, as he had show_im Saint Peter's by daylight. When we show a friend a city one has alread_isited, we feel the same pride as when we point out a woman whose lover w_ave been. He was to leave the city by the Porta del Popolo, skirt the oute_all, and re-enter by the Porta San Giovanni; thus they would behold th_olosseum without finding their impressions dulled by first looking on th_apitol, the Forum, the Arch of Septimus Severus, the Temple of Antoninus an_austina, and the Via Sacra. They sat down to dinner. Signor Pastrini ha_romised them a banquet; he gave them a tolerable repast. At the end of th_inner he entered in person. Franz thought that he came to hear his dinne_raised, and began accordingly, but at the first words he was interrupted.
"Excellency," said Pastrini, "I am delighted to have your approbation, but i_as not for that I came."
"Did you come to tell us you have procured a carriage?" asked Albert, lightin_is cigar.
"No; and your excellencies will do well not to think of that any longer; a_ome 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 pa_ouble, 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 they travel."
"But," said Albert, emitting a volume of smoke and balancing his chair on it_ind legs, "only madmen, or blockheads like us, ever do travel. Men in thei_enses do not quit their hotel in the Rue du Helder, their walk on th_oulevard de Gand, and the Cafe de Paris." It is of course understood tha_lbert resided in the aforesaid street, appeared every day on the fashionabl_alk, and dined frequently at the only restaurant where you can really dine, that is, if you are on good terms with its frequenters. Signor Pastrin_emained silent a short time; it was evident that he was musing over thi_nswer, which did not seem very clear. "But," said Franz, in his tur_nterrupting his host's meditations, "you had some motive for coming here, ma_ beg to know what it was?"
"Ah, yes; you have ordered your carriage at eight o'clock precisely?"
"You intend visiting Il Colosseo."
"You mean the Colosseum?"
"It is the same thing. You have told your coachman to leave the city by th_orta del Popolo, to drive round the walls, and re-enter by the Porta Sa_iovanni?"
"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 ver_amous 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 Gasparone_ere mere children."
"Now then, Albert," cried Franz, "here is a bandit for you at last."
"I forewarn you, Signor Pastrini, that I shall not believe one word of wha_ou are going to tell us; having told you this, begin."
"Once upon a time" —
"Well, go on." Signor Pastrini turned toward Franz, who seemed to him the mor_easonable of the two; we must do him justice, — he had had a great man_renchmen in his house, but had never been able to comprehend them.
"Excellency," said he gravely, addressing Franz, "if you look upon me as _iar, 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 tha_e will not believe what you are going to tell us, — but I will believe al_ou 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, ar_ure of the credence of half your audience. Come, sit down, and tell us al_bout this Signor Vampa."
"I had told your excellency he is the most famous bandit we have had since th_ays of Mastrilla."
"Well, what has this bandit to do with the order I have given the coachman t_eave the city by the Porta del Popolo, and to re-enter by the Porta Sa_iovanni?"
"This," replied Signor Pastrini, "that you will go out by one, but I very muc_oubt your returning by the other."
"Why?" asked Franz.
"Because, after nightfall, you are not safe fifty yards from the gates."
"On your honor is that true?" cried Albert.
"Count," returned Signor Pastrini, hurt at Albert's repeated doubts of th_ruth of his assertions, "I do not say this to you, but to your companion, wh_nows Rome, and knows, too, that these things are not to be laughed at."
"My dear fellow," said Albert, turning to Franz, "here is an admirabl_dventure; we will fill our carriage with pistols, blunderbusses, and double- barrelled guns. Luigi Vampa comes to take us, and we take him — we bring hi_ack to Rome, and present him to his holiness the Pope, who asks how he ca_epay so great a service; then we merely ask for a carriage and a pair o_orses, and we see the Carnival in the carriage, and doubtless the Roma_eople will crown us at the Capitol, and proclaim us, like Curtius and th_eiled Horatius, the preservers of their country." Whilst Albert proposed thi_cheme, Signor Pastrini's face assumed an expression impossible to describe.
"And pray," asked Franz, "where are these pistols, blunderbusses, and othe_eadly 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 th_irst, "that this practice is very convenient for bandits, and that it seem_o be due to an arrangement of their own." Doubtless Signor Pastrini foun_his pleasantry compromising, for he only answered half the question, and the_e spoke to Franz, as the only one likely to listen with attention. "You_xcellency knows that it is not customary to defend yourself when attacked b_andits."
"What!" cried Albert, whose courage revolted at the idea of being plundere_amely, "not make any resistance!"
"No, for it would be useless. What could you do against a dozen bandits wh_pring 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 i_ecidedly mad."
"My dear Albert," returned Franz, "your answer is sublime, and worthy the `Le_im die,' of Corneille, only, when Horace made that answer, the safety of Rom_as concerned; but, as for us, it is only to gratify a whim, and it would b_idiculous to risk our lives for so foolish a motive." Albert poured himsel_ut a glass of lacryma Christi, which he sipped at intervals, muttering som_nintelligible words.
"Well, Signor Pastrini," said Franz, "now that my companion is quieted, an_ou 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 ma_ecognize 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, an_et me free, not only without ransom, but made me a present of a very splendi_atch, 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 o_ts 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" — h_ook his watch from his waistcoat pocket — "and it cost me 3,000 francs."
"Let us hear the history," said Franz, motioning Signor Pastrini to sea_imself.
"Your excellencies permit it?" asked the host.
"Pardieu!" cried Albert, "you are not a preacher, to remain standing!"
The host sat down, after having made each of them a respectful bow, whic_eant that he was ready to tell them all they wished to know concerning Luig_ampa. "You tell me," said Franz, at the moment Signor Pastrini was about t_pen his mouth, "that you knew Luigi Vampa when he was a child — he is still _oung 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 som_oise in the world, were quite behind him."
"So," continued Franz, "the hero of this history is only two and twenty?"
"Scarcely so much."
"Is he tall or short?"
"Of the middle height — about the same stature as his excellency," returne_he host, pointing to Albert.
"Thanks for the comparison," said Albert, with a bow.
"Go on, Signor Pastrini," continued Franz, smiling at his friend'_usceptibility. "To what class of society does he belong?"
"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 wa_lso 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 mos_xtraordinary precocity. One day, when he was seven years old, he came to th_urate of Palestrina, and asked to be taught to read; it was somewha_ifficult, for he could not quit his flock; but the good curate went every da_o say mass at a little hamlet too poor to pay a priest and which, having n_ther name, was called Borgo; he told Luigi that he might meet him on hi_eturn, and that then he would give him a lesson, warning him that it would b_hort, and that he must profit as much as possible by it. The child accepte_oyfully. Every day Luigi led his flock to graze on the road that leads fro_alestrina to Borgo; every day, at nine o'clock in the morning, the priest an_he boy sat down on a bank by the wayside, and the little shepherd took hi_esson out of the priest's breviary. At the end of three months he had learne_o read. This was not enough — he must now learn to write. The priest had _riting teacher at Rome make three alphabets — one large, one middling, an_ne small; and pointed out to him that by the help of a sharp instrument h_ould 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 a_alestrina, took a large nail, heated and sharpened it, and formed a sort o_tylus. 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 a_is quickness and intelligence, made him a present of pens, paper, and _enknife. This demanded new effort, but nothing compared to the first; at th_nd of a week he wrote as well with this pen as with the stylus. The curat_elated the incident to the Count of San-Felice, who sent for the littl_hepherd, made him read and write before him, ordered his attendant to let hi_at with the domestics, and to give him two piastres a month. With this, Luig_urchased 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 wa_hus that Pinelli, the famous sculptor, had commenced.
"A girl of six or seven — that is, a little younger than Vampa — tended shee_n a farm near Palestrina; she was an orphan, born at Valmontone and was name_eresa. The two children met, sat down near each other, let their flock_ingle together, played, laughed, and conversed together; in the evening the_eparated the Count of San-Felice's flock from those of Baron Cervetri, an_he children returned to their respective farms, promising to meet the nex_orning. The next day they kept their word, and thus they grew up together.
Vampa was twelve, and Teresa eleven. And yet their natural dispositio_evealed itself. Beside his taste for the fine arts, which Luigi had carrie_s far as he could in his solitude, he was given to alternating fits o_adness and enthusiasm, was often angry and capricious, and always sarcastic.
None of the lads of Pampinara, Palestrina, or Valmontone had been able to gai_ny influence over him or even to become his companion. His disposition (always inclined to exact concessions rather than to make them) kept him aloo_rom all friendships. Teresa alone ruled by a look, a word, a gesture, thi_mpetuous character, which yielded beneath the hand of a woman, and whic_eneath 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 tha_uigi received every month from the Count of San-Felice's steward, and th_rice of all the little carvings in wood he sold at Rome, were expended i_ar-rings, necklaces, and gold hairpins. So that, thanks to her friend'_enerosity, Teresa was the most beautiful and the best-attired peasant nea_ome. The two children grew up together, passing all their time with eac_ther, and giving themselves up to the wild ideas of their differen_haracters. Thus, in all their dreams, their wishes, and their conversations, Vampa saw himself the captain of a vessel, general of an army, or governor o_ province. Teresa saw herself rich, superbly attired, and attended by a trai_f liveried domestics. Then, when they had thus passed the day in buildin_astles in the air, they separated their flocks, and descended from th_levation 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 wol_ome out of the Sabine mountains, and prowl around his flock. The steward gav_im 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, an_ade a fresh stock, so beautifully carved that it would have fetched fiftee_r twenty piastres, had he chosen to sell it. But nothing could be farthe_rom his thoughts. For a long time a gun had been the young man's greates_mbition. 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 onc_enders him capable of defence or attack, and, by rendering its owne_errible, often makes him feared. From this moment Vampa devoted all hi_eisure time to perfecting himself in the use of his precious weapon; h_urchased powder and ball, and everything served him for a mark — the trunk o_ome old and moss-grown olive-tree, that grew on the Sabine mountains; th_ox, as he quitted his earth on some marauding excursion; the eagle tha_oared above their heads: and thus he soon became so expert, that Teres_vercame the terror she at first felt at the report, and amused herself b_atching him direct the ball wherever he pleased, with as much accuracy as i_e placed it by hand.
"One evening a wolf emerged from a pine-wood hear which they were usuall_tationed, but the wolf had scarcely advanced ten yards ere he was dead. Prou_f this exploit, Vampa took the dead animal on his shoulders, and carried hi_o the farm. These exploits had gained Luigi considerable reputation. The ma_f superior abilities always finds admirers, go where he will. He was spoke_f as the most adroit, the strongest, and the most courageous contadino fo_en leagues around; and although Teresa was universally allowed to be the mos_eautiful girl of the Sabines, no one had ever spoken to her of love, becaus_t was known that she was beloved by Vampa. And yet the two young people ha_ever declared their affection; they had grown together like two trees whos_oots are mingled, whose branches intertwined, and whose intermingled perfum_ises to the heavens. Only their wish to see each other had become _ecessity, and they would have preferred death to a day's separation. Teres_as sixteen, and Vampa seventeen. About this time, a band of brigands that ha_stablished itself in the Lepini mountains began to be much spoken of. Th_rigands have never been really extirpated from the neighborhood of Rome.
Sometimes a chief is wanted, but when a chief presents himself he rarely ha_o wait long for a band of followers.
"The celebrated Cucumetto, pursued in the Abruzzo, driven out of the kingdo_f 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 Sonnin_nd Juperno. He strove to collect a band of followers, and followed th_ootsteps of Decesaris and Gasperone, whom he hoped to surpass. Many young me_f Palestrina, Frascati, and Pampinara had disappeared. Their disappearance a_irst caused much disquietude; but it was soon known that they had joine_ucumetto. After some time Cucumetto became the object of universal attention; the most extraordinary traits of ferocious daring and brutality were relate_f him. One day he carried off a young girl, the daughter of a surveyor o_rosinone. The bandit's laws are positive; a young girl belongs first to hi_ho carries her off, then the rest draw lots for her, and she is abandoned t_heir brutality until death relieves her sufferings. When their parents ar_ufficiently rich to pay a ransom, a messenger is sent to negotiate; th_risoner is hostage for the security of the messenger; should the ransom b_efused, the prisoner is irrevocably lost. The young girl's lover was i_ucumetto's troop; his name was Carlini. When she recognized her lover, th_oor girl extended her arms to him, and believed herself safe; but Carlin_elt 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 year_aithfully served him, and as he had saved his life by shooting a dragoon wh_as about to cut him down, he hoped the chief would have pity on him. He too_ucumetto one side, while the young girl, seated at the foot of a huge pin_hat 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 tol_he chief all — his affection for the prisoner, their promises of mutua_idelity, and how every night, since he had been near, they had met in som_eighboring ruins.
"It so happened that night that Cucumetto had sent Carlini to a village, s_hat he had been unable to go to the place of meeting. Cucumetto had bee_here, 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 fathe_as rich, and could pay a large ransom. Cucumetto seemed to yield to hi_riend's entreaties, and bade him find a shepherd to send to Rita's father a_rosinone. Carlini flew joyfully to Rita, telling her she was saved, an_idding her write to her father, to inform him what had occurred, and that he_ansom was fixed at three hundred piastres. Twelve hours' delay was all tha_as granted — that is, until nine the next morning. The instant the letter wa_ritten, Carlini seized it, and hastened to the plain to find a messenger. H_ound a young shepherd watching his flock. The natural messengers of th_andits are the shepherds who live between the city and the mountains, betwee_ivilized and savage life. The boy undertook the commission, promising to b_n Frosinone in less than an hour. Carlini returned, anxious to see hi_istress, and announce the joyful intelligence. He found the troop in th_lade, supping off the provisions exacted as contributions from the peasants; but his eye vainly sought Rita and Cucumetto among them. He inquired wher_hey were, and was answered by a burst of laughter. A cold perspiration burs_rom every pore, and his hair stood on end. He repeated his question. One o_he bandits rose, and offered him a glass filled with Orvietto, saying, `T_he health of the brave Cucumetto and the fair Rita.' At this moment Carlin_eard a woman's cry; he divined the truth, seized the glass, broke it acros_he face of him who presented it, and rushed towards the spot whence the cr_ame. After a hundred yards he turned the corner of the thicket; he found Rit_enseless in the arms of Cucumetto. At the sight of Carlini, Cucumetto rose, _istol in each hand. The two brigands looked at each other for a moment — th_ne with a smile of lasciviousness on his lips, the other with the pallor o_eath on his brow. A terrible battle between the two men seemed imminent; bu_y degrees Carlini's features relaxed, his hand, which had grasped one of th_istols in his belt, fell to his side. Rita lay between them. The moon lighte_he group.
"`Well,' said Cucumetto, `have you executed your commission?'
"`Yes, captain,' returned Carlini. `At nine o'clock to-morrow Rita's fathe_ill be here with the money.' — `It is well; in the meantime, we will have _erry 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 fo_er.' — `You have determined, then, to abandon her to the common law?" sai_arlini.
"`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?' — `I_s true.' — `But never mind,' continued Cucumetto, laughing, `sooner or late_our turn will come.' Carlini's teeth clinched convulsively.
"`Now, then,' said Cucumetto, advancing towards the other bandits, `are yo_oming?' — `I follow you.'
"Cucumetto departed, without losing sight of Carlini, for, doubtless, h_eared lest he should strike him unawares; but nothing betrayed a hostil_esign on Carlini's part. He was standing, his arms folded, near Rita, who wa_till insensible. Cucumetto fancied for a moment the young man was about t_ake her in his arms and fly; but this mattered little to him now Rita ha_een his; and as for the money, three hundred piastres distributed among th_and was so small a sum that he cared little about it. He continued to follo_he path to the glade; but, to his great surprise, Carlini arrived almost a_oon 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 o_cquiescence. The eyes of all shone fiercely as they made their demand, an_he 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 dre_orth a ticket; the ticket bore the name of Diovolaccio. He was the man wh_ad proposed to Carlini the health of their chief, and to whom Carlini replie_y breaking the glass across his face. A large wound, extending from th_emple to the mouth, was bleeding profusely. Diovalaccio, seeing himself thu_avored by fortune, burst into a loud laugh. `Captain,' said he, `just no_arlini would not drink your health when I proposed it to him; propose mine t_im, and let us see if he will be more condescending to you than to me.' Ever_ne expected an explosion on Carlini's part; but to their great surprise, h_ook a glass in one hand and a flask in the other, and filling it, — `You_ealth, Diavolaccio,' said he calmly, and he drank it off, without his han_rembling in the least. Then sitting down by the fire, `My supper,' said he; `my expedition has given me an appetite.' — `Well done, Carlini!' cried th_rigands; `that is acting like a good fellow;' and they all formed a circl_ound the fire, while Diavolaccio disappeared. Carlini ate and drank as i_othing had happened. The bandits looked on with astonishment at this singula_onduct until they heard footsteps. They turned round, and saw Diavolacci_earing the young girl in his arms. Her head hung back, and her long hai_wept the ground. As they entered the circle, the bandits could perceive, b_he firelight, the unearthly pallor of the young girl and of Diavolaccio. Thi_pparition was so strange and so solemn, that every one rose, with th_xception of Carlini, who remained seated, and ate and drank calmly.
Diavolaccio advanced amidst the most profound silence, and laid Rita at th_aptain's feet. Then every one could understand the cause of the unearthl_allor in the young girl and the bandit. A knife was plunged up to the hilt i_ita's left breast. Every one looked at Carlini; the sheath at his belt wa_mpty. `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 th_ossession 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 o_irelight. Cucumetto placed his sentinels for the night, and the bandit_rapped themselves in their cloaks, and lay down before the fire. At midnigh_he sentinel gave the alarm, and in an instant all were on the alert. It wa_ita'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 th_hief, without taking the money, made a sign to him to follow. The old ma_beyed. They both advanced beneath the trees, through whose branches streame_he moonlight. Cucumetto stopped at last, and pointed to two persons groupe_t the foot of a tree.
"`There,' said he, `demand thy child of Carlini; he will tell thee what ha_ecome of her;' and he returned to his companions. The old man remaine_otionless; he felt that some great and unforeseen misfortune hung over hi_ead. At length he advanced toward the group, the meaning of which he coul_ot comprehend. As he approached, Carlini raised his head, and the forms o_wo 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 raise_is 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 t_ita's father. — `Wretch!' returned the old man, `what hast thou done?' and h_azed with terror on Rita, pale and bloody, a knife buried in her bosom. A ra_f 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 whol_and.' The old man spoke not, and grew pale as death. `Now,' continue_arlini, `if I have done wrongly, avenge her;' and withdrawing the knife fro_he wound in Rita's bosom, he held it out to the old man with one hand, whil_ith the other he tore open his vest. — `Thou hast done well!' returned th_ld 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 th_irst tears the man of blood had ever wept. `Now,' said the old man, `aid m_o bury my child.' Carlini fetched two pickaxes; and the father and the love_egan to dig at the foot of a huge oak, beneath which the young girl was t_epose. When the grave was formed, the father kissed her first, and then th_over; afterwards, one taking the head, the other the feet, they placed her i_he grave. Then they knelt on each side of the grave, and said the prayers o_he 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; `_hank you, my son; and now leave me alone.' — `Yet' — replied Carlini. — `Leave me, I command you.' Carlini obeyed, rejoined his comrades, folde_imself in his cloak, and soon appeared to sleep as soundly as the rest. I_ad been resolved the night before to change their encampment. An hour befor_aybreak, Cucumetto aroused his men, and gave the word to march. But Carlin_ould 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 suspende_rom one of the branches of the oak which shaded his daughter's grave. He the_ook an oath of bitter vengeance over the dead body of the one and the tomb o_he 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 som_urprise, however, that, as he was with his face to the enemy, he should hav_eceived a ball between his shoulders. That astonishment ceased when one o_he brigands remarked to his comrades that Cucumetto was stationed ten pace_n Carlini's rear when he fell. On the morning of the departure from th_orest of Frosinone he had followed Carlini in the darkness, and heard thi_ath of vengeance, and, like a wise man, anticipated it. They told ten othe_tories of this bandit chief, each more singular than the other. Thus, fro_ondi to Perusia, every one trembles at the name of Cucumetto.
"These narratives were frequently the theme of conversation between Luigi an_eresa. The young girl trembled very much at hearing the stories; but Vamp_eassured her with a smile, tapping the butt of his good fowling-piece, whic_hrew its ball so well; and if that did not restore her courage, he pointed t_ crow, perched on some dead branch, took aim, touched the trigger, and th_ird fell dead at the foot of the tree. Time passed on, and the two youn_eople had agreed to be married when Vampa should be twenty and Teres_ineteen 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 the_ere talking over their plans for the future, they heard two or three report_f firearms, and then suddenly a man came out of the wood, near which the tw_oung persons used to graze their flocks, and hurried towards them. When h_ame within hearing, he exclaimed. `I am pursued; can you conceal me?' The_new full well that this fugitive must be a bandit; but there is an innat_ympathy between the Roman brigand and the Roman peasant and the latter i_lways ready to aid the former. Vampa, without saying a word, hastened to th_tone that closed up the entrance to their grotto, drew it away, made a sig_o 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 o_he wood; three of them appeared to be looking for the fugitive, while th_ourth dragged a brigand prisoner by the neck. The three carbineers looke_bout carefully on every side, saw the young peasants, and galloping up, bega_o question them. They had seen no one. `That is very annoying,' said th_rigadier; for the man we are looking for is the chief.' — `Cucumetto?' crie_uigi and Teresa at the same moment.
"`Yes,' replied the brigadier; `and as his head is valued at a thousand Roma_rowns, there would have been five hundred for you, if you had helped us t_atch him.' The two young persons exchanged looks. The brigadier had _oment's hope. Five hundred Roman crowns are three thousand lire, and thre_housand 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 seen him.'
"Then the carbineers scoured the country in different directions, but in vain; then, after a time, they disappeared. Vampa then removed the stone, an_ucumetto came out. Through the crevices in the granite he had seen the tw_oung peasants talking with the carbineers, and guessed the subject of thei_arley. He had read in the countenances of Luigi and Teresa their steadfas_esolution not to surrender him, and he drew from his pocket a purse full o_old, which he offered to them. But Vampa raised his head proudly; as t_eresa, her eyes sparkled when she thought of all the fine gowns and ga_ewellery she could buy with this purse of gold.
"Cucumetto was a cunning fiend, and had assumed the form of a brigand instea_f a serpent, and this look from Teresa showed to him that she was a worth_aughter of Eve, and he returned to the forest, pausing several times on hi_ay, under the pretext of saluting his protectors. Several days elapsed, an_hey 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 wer_istinguished in Rome were invited. Teresa had a great desire to see thi_all. Luigi asked permission of his protector, the steward, that she and h_ight be present amongst the servants of the house. This was granted. The bal_as 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 Teres_as as handsome as Carmela. On the evening of the ball Teresa was attired i_er 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 ver_icturesque garb of the Roman peasant at holiday time. They both mingled, a_hey 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 th_arden-walks. At each cross-path was an orchestra, and tables spread wit_efreshments; the guests stopped, formed quadrilles, and danced in any part o_he grounds they pleased. Carmela was attired like a woman of Sonnino. Her ca_as 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 an_kirt were of cashmere, her apron of Indian muslin, and the buttons of he_orset were of jewels. Two of her companions were dressed, the one as a woma_f Nettuno, and the other as a woman of La Riccia. Four young men of th_ichest and noblest families of Rome accompanied them with that Italia_reedom which has not its parallel in any other country in the world. The_ere attired as peasants of Albano, Velletri, Civita-Castellana, and Sora. W_eed 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. Carmel_ooked all around her, but not one of the guests had a costume similar to he_wn, 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 i_arnival time?' — Carmela turned towards the young man who was talking wit_er, and saying a few words to him, pointed with her finger to Teresa. Th_oung man looked, bowed in obedience, and then went to Teresa, and invited he_o dance in a quadrille directed by the count's daughter. Teresa felt a flus_ass 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, an_eresa, accompanied by her elegant cavalier, took her appointed place wit_uch agitation in the aristocratic quadrille. Certainly, in the eyes of a_rtist, the exact and strict costume of Teresa had a very different characte_rom that of Carmela and her companions; and Teresa was frivolous an_oquettish, and thus the embroidery and muslins, the cashmere waist-girdles, all dazzled her, and the reflection of sapphires and diamonds almost turne_er giddy brain.
"Luigi felt a sensation hitherto unknown arising in his mind. It was like a_cute pain which gnawed at his heart, and then thrilled through his whol_ody. He followed with his eye each movement of Teresa and her cavalier; whe_heir hands touched, he felt as though he should swoon; every pulse beat wit_iolence, and it seemed as though a bell were ringing in his ears. When the_poke, although Teresa listened timidly and with downcast eyes to th_onversation of her cavalier, as Luigi could read in the ardent looks of th_ood-looking young man that his language was that of praise, it seemed as i_he whole world was turning round with him, and all the voices of hell wer_hispering in his ears ideas of murder and assassination. Then fearing tha_is paroxysm might get the better of him, he clutched with one hand the branc_f a tree against which he was leaning, and with the other convulsivel_rasped 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, Teres_ight escape him.
"The young peasant girl, at first timid and scared, soon recovered herself. W_ave said that Teresa was handsome, but this is not all; Teresa was endowe_ith all those wild graces which are so much more potent than our affected an_tudied elegancies. She had almost all the honors of the quadrille, and if sh_ere envious of the Count of San-Felice's daughter, we will not undertake t_ay that Carmela was not jealous of her. And with overpowering compliments he_andsome cavalier led her back to the place whence he had taken her, and wher_uigi awaited her. Twice or thrice during the dance the young girl had glance_t Luigi, and each time she saw that he was pale and that his features wer_gitated, once even the blade of his knife, half drawn from its sheath, ha_azzled her eyes with its sinister glare. Thus, it was almost tremblingly tha_he resumed her lover's arm. The quadrille had been most perfect, and it wa_vident there was a great demand for a repetition, Carmela alone objecting t_t, but the Count of San-Felice besought his daughter so earnestly, that sh_cceded. One of the cavaliers then hastened to invite Teresa, without whom i_as impossible for the quadrille to be formed, but the young girl ha_isappeared. The truth was, that Luigi had not felt the strength to suppor_nother such trial, and, half by persuasion and half by force, he had remove_eresa toward another part of the garden. Teresa had yielded in spite o_erself, but when she looked at the agitated countenance of the young man, sh_nderstood by his silence and trembling voice that something strange wa_assing within him. She herself was not exempt from internal emotion, an_ithout having done anything wrong, yet fully comprehended that Luigi wa_ight in reproaching her. Why, she did not know, but yet she did not the les_eel that these reproaches were merited. However, to Teresa's grea_stonishment, Luigi remained mute, and not a word escaped his lips the rest o_he evening. When the chill of the night had driven away the guests from th_ardens, 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 Countes_f San-Felice?' — `I thought,' replied the young girl, with all the franknes_f her nature, `that I would give half my life for a costume such as sh_ore.'
"`And what said your cavalier to you?' — `He said it only depended on mysel_o have it, and I had only one word to say.'
"`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 fac_as so gloomy and terrible that her words froze to her lips. As Luigi spok_hus, he left her. Teresa followed him with her eyes into the darkness as lon_s she could, and when he had quite disappeared, she went into the house wit_ sigh.
"That night a memorable event occurred, due, no doubt, to the imprudence o_ome servant who had neglected to extinguish the lights. The Villa of San- Felice took fire in the rooms adjoining the very apartment of the lovel_armela. Awakened in the night by the light of the flames, she sprang out o_ed, 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, whe_uddenly her window, which was twenty feet from the ground, was opened, _oung peasant jumped into the chamber, seized her in his arms, and wit_uperhuman 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 th_ervants surrounded her, offering her assistance. An entire wing of the vill_as 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 wa_nquired after, but no one had seen him. Carmela was greatly troubled that sh_ad not recognized him. As the count was immensely rich, excepting the dange_armela had run, — and the marvellous manner in which she had escaped, mad_hat appear to him rather a favor of providence than a real misfortune, — th_oss occasioned by the conflagration was to him but a trifle.
"The next day, at the usual hour, the two young peasants were on the border_f the forest. Luigi arrived first. He came toward Teresa in high spirits, an_eemed to have completely forgotten the events of the previous evening. Th_oung girl was very pensive, but seeing Luigi so cheerful, she on her par_ssumed a smiling air, which was natural to her when she was not excited or i_ passion. Luigi took her arm beneath his own, and led her to the door of th_rotto. Then he paused. The young girl, perceiving that there was somethin_xtraordinary, looked at him steadfastly. `Teresa,' said Luigi, `yesterda_vening you told me you would give all the world to have a costume similar t_hat of the count's daughter.' — `Yes,' replied Teresa with astonishment; `bu_ was mad to utter such a wish.' — `And I replied, "Very well, you shall hav_t."' — `Yes,' replied the young girl, whose astonishment increased at ever_ord 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 th_tone, and showed Teresa the grotto, lighted up by two wax lights, which burn_n each side of a splendid mirror; on a rustic table, made by Luigi, wer_pread out the pearl necklace and the diamond pins, and on a chair at the sid_as 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 adjacen_ill which cut off the view toward Palestrina, he saw a traveller o_orseback, stopping a moment, as if uncertain of his road, and thus presentin_gainst the blue sky that perfect outline which is peculiar to distant object_n southern climes. When he saw Luigi, he put his horse into a gallop an_dvanced toward him. Luigi was not mistaken. The traveller, who was going fro_alestrina to Tivoli, had mistaken his way; the young man directed him; but a_t 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, h_egged Luigi to be his guide. Luigi threw his cloak on the ground, placed hi_arbine on his shoulder, and freed from his heavy covering, preceded th_raveller with the rapid step of a mountaineer, which a horse can scarcel_eep 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 stretche_is 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 her_s your recompense,' said the traveller, offering the young herdsman som_mall pieces of money.
"`Thank you,' said Luigi, drawing back his hand; `I render a service, I do no_ell it.' — `Well,' replied the traveller, who seemed used to this differenc_etween 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 i_nother thing.' — `Then,' said the traveller, `take these two Venetian sequin_nd give them to your bride, to make herself a pair of earrings.'
"`And then do you take this poniard,' said the young herdsman; `you will no_ind one better carved between Albano and Civita-Castellana.'
"`I accept it,' answered the traveller, `but then the obligation will be on m_ide, for this poniard is worth more than two sequins.' — `For a deale_erhaps; but for me, who engraved it myself, it is hardly worth a piastre.'
"`What is your name?' inquired the traveller. — `Luigi Vampa,' replied th_hepherd, with the same air as he would have replied, Alexander, King o_acedon. — `And yours?' — `I,' said the traveller, `am called Sinbad th_ailor.'" Franz d'Epinay started with surprise.
"Sinbad the Sailor." he said.
"Yes," replied the narrator; "that was the name which the traveller gave t_ampa as his own."
"Well, and what may you have to say against this name?" inquired Albert; "i_s a very pretty name, and the adventures of the gentleman of that name amuse_e very much in my youth, I must confess." — Franz said no more. The name o_inbad the Sailor, as may well be supposed, awakened in him a world o_ecollections, as had the name of the Count of Monte Cristo on the previou_vening.
"Proceed!" said he to the host.
"Vampa put the two sequins haughtily into his pocket, and slowly returned b_he way he had gone. As he came within two or three hundred paces of th_rotto, he thought he heard a cry. He listened to know whence this sound coul_roceed. A moment afterwards he thought he heard his own name pronounce_istinctly. 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 hil_pposite to that on which he had perceived the traveller. Three cries for hel_ame more distinctly to his ear. He cast his eyes around him and saw a ma_arrying off Teresa, as Nessus, the centaur, carried Dejanira. This man, wh_as hastening towards the wood, was already three-quarters of the way on th_oad from the grotto to the forest. Vampa measured the distance; the man wa_t least two hundred paces in advance of him, and there was not a chance o_vertaking him. The young shepherd stopped, as if his feet had been rooted t_he ground; then he put the butt of his carbine to his shoulder, took aim a_he ravisher, followed him for a second in his track, and then fired. Th_avisher stopped suddenly, his knees bent under him, and he fell with Teres_n his arms. The young girl rose instantly, but the man lay on the eart_truggling in the agonies of death. Vampa then rushed towards Teresa; for a_en paces from the dying man her legs had failed her, and she had dropped o_er knees, so that the young man feared that the ball that had brought dow_is enemy, had also wounded his betrothed. Fortunately, she was unscathed, an_t was fright alone that had overcome Teresa. When Luigi had assured himsel_hat she was safe and unharmed, he turned towards the wounded man. He had jus_xpired, with clinched hands, his mouth in a spasm of agony, and his hair o_nd in the sweat of death. His eyes remained open and menacing. Vamp_pproached the corpse, and recognized Cucumetto. From the day on which th_andit had been saved by the two young peasants, he had been enamoured o_eresa, 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 he_ff, and believed he at length had her in his power, when the ball, directe_y the unerring skill of the young herdsman, had pierced his heart. Vamp_azed on him for a moment without betraying the slightest emotion; while, o_he contrary, Teresa, shuddering in every limb, dared not approach the slai_uffian but by degrees, and threw a hesitating glance at the dead body ove_he 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'_aughter. Vampa took Cucumetto's body in his arms and conveyed it to th_rotto, while in her turn Teresa remained outside. If a second traveller ha_assed, he would have seen a strange thing, — a shepherdess watching he_lock, clad in a cashmere grown, with ear-rings and necklace of pearls, diamond pins, and buttons of sapphires, emeralds, and rubies. He would, n_oubt, have believed that he had returned to the times of Florian, and woul_ave declared, on reaching Paris, that he had met an Alpine shepherdess seate_t the foot of the Sabine Hill. At the end of a quarter of an hour Vamp_uitted the grotto; his costume was no less elegant than that of Teresa. H_ore a vest of garnet-colored velvet, with buttons of cut gold; a sil_aistcoat covered with embroidery; a Roman scarf tied round his neck; _artridge-box worked with gold, and red and green silk; sky-blue velve_reeches, fastened above the knee with diamond buckles; garters of deerskin, worked with a thousand arabesques, and a hat whereon hung ribbons of al_olors; two watches hung from his girdle, and a splendid poniard was in hi_elt. Teresa uttered a cry of admiration. Vampa in this attire resembled _ainting by Leopold Robert, or Schnetz. He had assumed the entire costume o_ucumetto. The young man saw the effect produced on his betrothed, and a smil_f pride passed over his lips. — `Now,' he said to Teresa, `are you ready t_hare my fortune, whatever it may be?' — `Oh, yes!' exclaimed the young gir_nthusiastically. — `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 gir_id so without questioning her lover as to where he was conducting her, for h_ppeared to her at this moment as handsome, proud, and powerful as a god. The_ent towards the forest, and soon entered it. We need scarcely say that al_he paths of the mountain were known to Vampa; he therefore went forwar_ithout a moment's hesitation, although there was no beaten track, but he kne_is path by looking at the trees and bushes, and thus they kept on advancin_or nearly an hour and a half. At the end of this time they had reached th_hickest 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 b_he tufted umbrage of the pines, seemed, but for the difficulties of it_escent, that path to Avernus of which Virgil speaks. Teresa had becom_larmed at the wild and deserted look of the plain around her, and presse_losely against her guide, not uttering a syllable; but as she saw him advanc_ith even step and composed countenance, she endeavored to repress he_motion. Suddenly, about ten paces from them, a man advanced from behind _ree and aimed at Vampa. — `Not another step,' he said, `or you are a dea_an.' — `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, `d_olves rend each other?' — `Who are you?' inquired the sentinel. — `I am Luig_ampa, shepherd of the San-Felice farm.' — `What do you want?' — `I woul_peak with your companions who are in the glade at Rocca Bianca.' — `Follo_e, then,' said the sentinel; `or, as you know your way, go first.' — Vamp_miled disdainfully at this precaution on the part of the bandit, went befor_eresa, 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 youn_ersons obeyed. Then the bandit thrice imitated the cry of a crow; a croa_nswered this signal. — `Good!' said the sentry, `you may now go on.' — Luig_nd Teresa again set forward; as they went on Teresa clung tremblingly to he_over at the sight of weapons and the glistening of carbines through th_rees. The retreat of Rocca Bianca was at the top of a small mountain, whic_o doubt in former days had been a volcano — an extinct volcano before th_ays when Remus and Romulus had deserted Alba to come and found the city o_ome. Teresa and Luigi reached the summit, and all at once found themselves i_he presence of twenty bandits. `Here is a young man who seeks and wishes t_peak to you,' said the sentinel. — `What has he to say?' inquired the youn_an who was in command in the chief's absence. — `I wish to say that I a_ired of a shepherd's life,' was Vampa's reply. — `Ah, I understand,' said th_ieutenant; `and you seek admittance into our ranks?' — `Welcome!' crie_everal bandits from Ferrusino, Pampinara, and Anagni, who had recognize_uigi Vampa. — `Yes, but I came to ask something more than to be you_ompanion.' — `And what may that be?' inquired the bandits with astonishment.
— `I come to ask to be your captain,' said the young man. The bandits shoute_ith laughter. `And what have you done to aspire to this honor?' demanded th_ieutenant. — `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 m_etrothed.' An hour afterwards Luigi Vampa was chosen captain, vice Cucumett_eceased."
"Well, my dear Albert," said Franz, turning towards his friend; "what thin_ou of citizen Luigi Vampa?"
"I say he is a myth," replied Albert, "and never had an existence."
"And what may a myth be?" inquired Pastrini.
"The explanation would be too long, my dear landlord," replied Franz.
"And you say that Signor Vampa exercises his profession at this moment in th_nvirons of Rome?"
"And with a boldness of which no bandit before him ever gave an example."
"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 hi_n the mountains, and he is on the waters; they follow him on the waters, an_e is on the open sea; then they pursue him, and he has suddenly taken refug_n the islands, at Giglio, Guanouti, or Monte Cristo; and when they hunt fo_im 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 th_ity, whether he gives eight hours, twelve hours, or a day wherein to pa_heir 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 blow_ut the prisoner's brains with a pistol-shot, or plants his dagger in hi_eart, and that settles the account."
"Well, Albert," inquired Franz of his companion, "are you still disposed to g_o the Colosseum by the outer wall?"
"Quite so," said Albert, "if the way be picturesque." The clock struck nine a_he door opened, and a coachman appeared. "Excellencies," said he, "the coac_s ready."
"Well, then," said Franz, "let us to the Colosseum."
"By the Porta del Popolo or by the streets, your excellencies?"
"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 wen_own the staircase, and got into the carriage.