Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

was

a

natural position, and led the way brass Christ, and above this again to the curate's house, not twenty a coloured print of San Bernardino yards from the church, in a narrow of Siena. The walls were whitealley. The Prince pulled the bell by washed, and perfectly clean,-as the long chain which hung beside indeed was everything else in the the open street door, and gave the room,—and there

sweet boys the promised coppers. They smell of flowers from a huge pot did not leave him, however, but of pinks which had been taken stood by to see what would hap- in for the night, and stood upon pen. An old woman looked out the stone sill within the closed of an upper window, and after sur- window. veying the Prince with care, called The curate was a tall old man, down to him

with a singularly gentle face and " What do you want?'

soft brown eyes. He wore a thread" Is the Padre Carato at home?" bare cassock, carefully brushed ;

"Of course he is at home," and from beneath his three-corscreamed the old woman. “At nered black cap his thin hair hung this hour!” she added, contemp- in a straight grey fringe. As the tuously.

Prince entered the room, the old "Ebbene—can I see him?" woman called over his shoulder to

"What! is the door shut?” re- the priest an uncertain formula of turned the hag.

introduction. "No."

"Don Paolo, c'è unothere is "Then why don't you come up one.” Then she retired, grumbling without asking ?” The old wo- audibly. man's head disappeared, and the The priest removed his

сар,

and window was shut with a clattering bowing courteously, offered one of noise.

the two chairs to his visitor. With “She is a woman without edu- an apology, he replaced his cap cation,” remarked one of the ragged upon his head, and seated himself boys, making a face towards the opposite the Prince.

There was closed window.

much courteous simplicity in his The Prince entered the door and manner. stumbled up the dark stairs, and " In what way can I serve you, after some further palaver obtained Signore?” he asked. admittance to the curate's lodging.

* These papers,

answered the The curate sat in a room which ap- Prince, drawing the famous enpeared to serve as dining-room, velope from his breast-pocket, “are living-room, and study. A small copies of certain documents in table was spread with a clean cloth, your keeping, relating to the supupon which were arranged a plate, posed marriage of one Giovanni a loaf of bread, a battered spoon, Sarracinesca.

With your very and a knife, and a small measure kind permission, I desire to see of thin-looking wine. Upon the the originals." table stood also a brass lamp with The old curate bowed, as though three wicks, one of which only was giving his assent, and looked burning, and shed a feeble light steadily at his visitor for a mothrough the poor apartment. ment before he answered. Against the wall stood a rough " There is nothing simpler, niy table with an inkstand and three good sir. You will pardon me, or four mouldy books. Above this however, if I venture to inquire hung a little black cross bearing a your name, and to ask you for

66.I am

was

what purpose you desire to con- day-yes--and asked to have his sult the documents ?"

card returned. But I could not Leone Sarracinesca of find it for him. There was a hole Rome"

in one of my pockets—it had The priest started uneasily. slipped down. Carmela, my old

"A relation of Giovanni Sarra- servant, found it a day or two cinesca ?" he inquired. Then he later in the lining of my cassock.

, added immediately, “Will you I thought it strange that he should kindly excuse me for one mo- have asked for it." ment?" and left the room abrupt- " It

very natural.

He ly. The Prince was considerably wished you to forget his existastonished, but he held his papers ence.” firmly in his hand, and did not " He asked me many questions move from his seat. The curate about Giovanni," said the priest, returned in a few seconds, bringing “but I could not answer him at with him a little painted porce- that time.” lain basket, much chipped and the - You could answer now?” inworse for age, and which contain- quired the Prince, eagerly. ed a collection of visiting-cards. • Excuse me, my good sir ; There were not more than a score what relation are you to Giovanni ? of them, turning brown with ac- You say you are from Rome?" cumulated dust. The priest found “Let us understand each other, one which was rather newer than padre mio,” said Sarracinesca. “I the rest, and after carefully ad- see I had better explain the posijusting as pair of huge spectacles tion. I am Leone Sarracinesca, upon his nose, he went over to the the prince of that name, and the lamp and examined it.

head of the family.” The priest so Il Conte del Ferice,'

,!” he read bowed respectfully at this intellislowly. “Do you happen to know gence. “My only son lives with that gentleman, my good sir ?” he me in Rome-he is now thereinquired, turning to the Prince, and his name is Giovanni Sarraand looking keenly at him over cinesca. He is engaged to be his glasses.

married.

When the engagement Certainly," answered Sarraci- became known, an enemy of the nesca, beginning to understand the family attempted to prove, by situation. " I know him very means of these papers, that he well."

was married already to a certain “Ah, that is good !” said the Felice Baldi. Now I wish to priest. “He was here two years know who this Giovanni Sarraago, and had those same entries cinesca is, where he is, and how concerning Giovanni Sarracinesca he comes to have my son's name. copied. Probably--certainly, in- I wish a certificate or some proof deed—the papers you have there that he is not my son,—that he are the very ones he took away is alive, or that he is dead and with him. When he came to see buried." me about it, he gave me this The old priest burst into a genial card."

laugh, and rubbed his hands to"I wonder he did," answered gether in delight. Sarracinesca.

« My dear sir—your Excellency, “Indeed," replied the curate, I mean—I baptised Felice Baldi's after a moment's thought, “I re- second baby a fortnight ago! member that he came the next There is nothing simpler

" Padre mio, I knew it !" cried it from his mother, married a the Prince, springing from his woman of the village of some chair in great excitement; “I education, and died of the cholera, knew it! Where is that baby? leaving his son, the present GioSend and get the baby at once vanni Sarracinesca. This Giovanni -the mother—the father-every- received a better education than body!"

his father had before him, improved "Subito!

At once-or come his farm, began to sell wine and with me. I will show you the oil for exportation, travelled as far whole family together," said the as Aquila, and met Felice Baldi, curate, in innocent delight. “Splen- the daughter of a man of some did children they are, too. Car- wealth, who has since established mela, my cloak—sbrigati, be an inn here. Giovanni loved her. quick!"

I married them. He went back “One moment,'' objected Sarra- to Naples, sold his farm for a good cinesca, as though suddenly recul- price last year, and returned to lecting something. “One moment, Aquila. He manages his fatherpadre mio; who goes slowly goes in-law's inn, which is the second safely. Where does this man come largest here, and drives a good from, and how does he come by business, having put his own capihis name? I would like to know tal into the enterprise. They have something about him before I see two children, the second one of him."

which was born three weeks ago, " True," answered the priest, and they are perfectly happy." resuming his seat. “I had for- Sarracinesca looked thoughtfully gotten. Well, it is not a long at Don Paolo, the old curate. story.

Giovanni Sarracinesca is “ Has this man any papers to from Naples. You know there prove the truth of this very singuwas once a branch of your family lar story?" he inquired at last. in the Neapolitan kingdom-at " Altro ! That was all his least so Giovanni says, and he is grandfather left-a heap of parchan honest fellow. Their title was ments. They seem to be in order Marchese di San Giacinto; and if –he showed them to me when I Giovanni liked to claim it, he has married him.” a right to the title still.”

• Why does he make no claim « But those Sarracinesca were to have the attainder of his grandextinct fifty years ago," objected father reversed ?" the Prince, who knew his family The curate shrugged his shoulders history very well.

and spread out the palms of his “Giovanni says there were not. hands, smiling incredulously. They were believed to be. The " The lands,

he says, have last Marchese di San Giacinto fallen into the hands of certain fought under Napoleon. He lost patriots. There is no chance of all he possessed-lands, money, getting them back. It is of little everything—by confiscation, when use to be a Marchese without Ferdinand was restored in 1815. property. What he possesses is a He was a rough man ; he dropped modest competence; it is wealth, his title, married a peasant's only even, in his present position. For daughter, became a peasant him- a nobleman it would be nothing. self, and died obscurely in a village Besides, he is half a peasant by near Salerno. He left a son who blood and tradition." worked on the farm and inherited “ He is not the only noble

[ocr errors]

are

man in that position," laughed Sorry to disappoint you, Don Sarracinesca.

you Paolo mio," he said, supposing the aware"

priest had brought a customerHe stopped short.

He was

very sorry; there is not a bed in going to say that if he himself the house." and his son both died, the inn- " That is no matter, Giacchino," keeper of Aquila would become answered the curate. ". We want Prince of Sarracinesca. The idea to see Sor Giovanni for a moment." shocked him, and he kept it to The man disappeared, and a mohimself.

ment later Sor Giovanni himself " After all," he continued, “the came down the passage. man is of my blood by direct Favorisca, dear Don Paolo. descent. I would like to see him." Come in." And he bowed to the

“ Nothing easier. If you will Prince as he opened the door which come with me, I will present him led into a small sitting-room reto your Excellency," said the priest. served for the innkeeper's family.

" Do you still wish to see the When they had entered, Sarradocuments ? "

cinesca looked at his son's name“ It is useless. The mystery is sake. He saw before him a man solved. Let us go and see this whose face and figure he long new-found relation of mine." remembered with an instinctive

Don Paolo wrapped his cloak dislike. Giovanni the innkeeper around him, and ushering his was of a powerful build. Two guest from the room, led the way generations of peasant blood had down-stairs. He carried a bit of given renewed strength to the old wax taper, which he held low to blood. He was large, with large the steps, frequently stopping and bones, vast breadth of shoulder, warning the Prince to be careful. and massive joints ; lean withal, It was night when they went out. and brown of face, his high cheekThe air was sharp and cold, and bones making his cheeks look Sarracinesca buttoned his great- hollow; clean shaved, his hair coat to his throat as he strode straight and black and neatly by the side of the old priest. combed; piercing black eyes near The two walked on in silence together, the heavy eyebrows joinfor ten minutes, keeping straight ing together in the midst of his down the Corso Vittorio Emman- forehead ; thin and cruel lips, now uele. At last the curate stopped parted in a smile and showing a before a clean, new house, from the formidable set of short, white, windows of which the bright light even teeth ; a prominent square streamed into the street. Don jaw, and a broad, strong nose, Paolo motioned to the Prince to rather unnaturally pointed, altoenter, and followed him in.

A gether a striking face, one that man in a white apron, with his would be noticed in a crowd for arms full of plates, who was prob- its strength, but strangely cunning ably servant, butler, boots, and in expression, and not without factotum to the establishment, ferocity. The Prince looked at came out of the dining-room, him with considerable curiosity, which was to the left of the and if he disliked him at first entrance, and which, to judge sight, he told himself that it was by the noise, seemed to be full beneath him to show antipathy for of people. He looked at the an innkeeper. curate, and then at the Prince. “Sor Giovanni," said the curate,

“this gentleman is desirous of back to Salerno, and my wife's making your acquaintance." father had not yet established him

Giovanni, whose manners were self in Aquila. Signor Del—what above his station, bowed politely, is his name?" and looked inquiringly at his " Del Ferice." visitor.

" Del Ferice, exactly. He “Signor Sarracinesca," said the thought we had disappeared, and Prince, “ I am Leone Sarracinesca, were not likely to come back.

Or of Rome. I have just heard of else he is a fool.” your existence.

We have long be- “ He is not a fool,” said Sarralieved your family to be extinct- cinesca. “He thought he was I am delighted to find it still rep- safe. It is all very clear now. resented, and by one who seems Well, Signor Marchese, or Signor likely to perpetuate the name.”' Sarracinesca, I am very glad to

The innkeeper fixed his piercing have made your acquaintance. eyes on the speaker's face, and You have cleared up a very imlooked long before he answered. portant question by returning to

So you are Prince Sarraci- Aquila. It will always give me nesca,” he said, gravely.

the greatest pleasure to serve you And you are the Marchese di in any way I can.” San Giacinto," said the Prince, in "A thousand thanks. Anythe same tone, holding out his thing I can do for you during hand frankly.

your stay" Pardon me,-I am Giovanni " You are very kind. I will Sarracinesca, the innkeeper of hire horses and return to Terni toAquila,” returned the other. But night. My business in Rome is he took the Prince's hand. Then urgent.

There is some suspense they all sat down.

there in my absence.” As you please," said the “You wili drink a glass before Prince. “ The title is none the going?” asked Giovanni; and withless yours.

If you had signed out waiting for an answer, he strode yourself with it when you married, from the room. you would have saved me a vast And what does your Exceldeal of trouble ; but on the other lency think of your relation ?" hand, I should not have been so asked the curate, when he was fortunate as to meet you."

alone with the Prince. "I do not understand," said

terrible-looking fellow ! Giovanni.

But

The Prince made a The Prince told his story in as face and a gesture indicating doubt few words as possible.

in regard to the innkeeper's char“ Amazing! extraordinary! acter. what a chance!' ejaculated the “Oh, do not be afraid,” answercurate, nodding his old head from ed the priest. “He is the most time to time while the Prince honest man alive." spoke, as though he had not heard "Of course," returned the Prince, it all before. The innkeeper said politely, “ you have had many ocnothing until old Sarracinesca had casions of ascertaining that.” finished.

Giovanni, the innkeeper, re“I see how it was managed," turned with a bottle of wine and he said at last. “When that gen- three glasses, which he placed upon tleman was making inquiries, I the table, and proceeded to fill. was away. I had taken my wife " By the by," said the Prince,

"A

« PoprzedniaDalej »