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room. This unlucky choice, however, had world, would have filled me with serious nearly proved my ruin, and, as it was, led alarms; but now, so occupied was my mind to no very pleasant result. Before I was with the thought of my assassins, that I aware of it, I stumbled upon a door that felt, comparatively speaking, but little fear stood half open, and the person within, on that score. I am not quite sure,” said being awake, was roused by the glimpse of 1, half aloud, 6 whether the appearance of my lamp ere I had time to shade it, and a ghost would be a thing so much to be called out—“ Is it you, Beppo ?”
dreaded under my present circumstances. I retained just sufficient presence of inind, For ought I know, he might keep away instead of flying, to reply
6 Hush !” imi more unpleasant visiters.” But let no man tating with infinite nicety the gruff tones even whisper such thoughts to himself, lest of my host.
the devil, who is ever on the watch, should But, capital as the assumption was, it did serve him as he did me, and take him at not seem to satisfy the confounded querist, his word. Scarcely had I spoken, or rather who again called out—“Santa Maria ! what whispered,--for I am sure I did not raise ails thee, husband ? Have you been making my voice beyond a whisper,—this half too free with the wine-pot again, that you fancy, half wish, when the tapestry became stand croaking there like an old frog with violently agitated, a portion of it seemed to the asthma ? If you don't make the more divide, and the spectre of the blue chamber haste, that prying guest of yours, that you stood before me, bearing in his hand that must needs pick up in the forest ; (the customary, but somewhat inconsistent, saints only know why, at such a time ;) appendage for a spirit, a lighted lamp. will wake before all's done, and then see The heart sunk within me as I gazed in what a fine pickle we shall be in. I am speechless wonder at this visitant from sure he half suspects us already.”
another world, who, like many other visiters Will any one condemn me for a fancier of mere flesh and blood, though his
presence of vain terrors, a dreamer of ideal dangers, was invited, was by no means welcome after such convincing words as these ? Was now that he had come. I will not attempt not the import sufficiently palpable to con to describe him, for how can mortal lanvince the dullest understanding, even if the guage define things immortal ? Enough, other pregnant proofs had not gone before his appearance was such as to fill me with as already narrated ?
awe, and for a long time we remained The extremity of the danger made me staring at each other in silence, I being too adopt a most desperate resolution. I much alarmed to open the conversation, rushed into the room, pistol in hand, and and the spectre or spirit, with the usual ordered the woman, who, it seems, had not punctilio of such visiters, not choosing to risen from her bed, not to stir, or utter a speak till he was spoken to. At last, howsingle cry, on peril of her life. Staggered ever, I collected so much courage as to by my determined air, the hag lay per- address him, but not being versed in the fectly still, while I gagged her to prevent etiquette of such a tête-à-tête, I could her raising any alarm, and with her own think of no better formula than that pregarters bound her hand and foot to the bed- scribed by Shakspeare in his “Hamlet.” post, an act not only of necessity but of If it were a proper mode of address from a retributive justice. While it secured me prince to his defunct father, I thought it against any chance of her raising the house, could not be other than respectful from it was in some sort a punishment, though me to a stranger, who, if ghosts are to be infinitely too mild, for her murderous in- estimated, like the living, from their outtentions, so plainly expressed when she ward garments, was certainly not a ghost mistook me for her husband.
of quality. Accordingly, not omitting the Having thus happily extricated myself preparatory start, as I had seen it practised from so great a peril, I resumed my flight, on the stage, I saluted him with “ Angels and followed the windings of the passage, and ministers of grace defend us! Art thou till I found myself in a room, which, from a spirit from heaven or goblin damned ? the colour of the walls, I had no doubt was Be thy intents wicked or charitable? Speak! the blue chamber, first proposed to me by Oh, speak!” my treacherous host. At any other time “I will speak,” replied the ghost, “and the idea of intruding upon a spot, said to well is it for you that you have spoken, or be visited by an inhabitant froin the other before the cock crows you would have
shared my dark prison-house. Follow trampling which were kept up all that me.”
time. More than once I gave myself up Though by no means certain that my for lost, so close did the pursuit come upon supernatural friend might not be “a goblin my hiding-place, and fortunate was it for damned,” in which case I could expect me that my lamp had gone out, for it nothing less than that he was leading me would assuredly have betrayed me when I by the shortest cut to the place with the least expected it. At one time they were ugly name, it yet required less courage to no farther off than the next room, and the accept than to refuse his invitation. light of their torches gleamed through the Accordingly, I followed as he bade me, chinks of the old wall, but some happy and, to judge from the facility with which fatality led them off again in an opposite he found his way through the old ruins, direction, and, from the total silence that up stairs and down stairs, threading a mul- followed soon after, I concluded they must titude of passages that seemed to have been have given up the pursuit. done for no other purpose than to perplex This relief to my over-excited feelings strangers, the ghost must assuredly have came in good time. I could not have been an inhabitant of the villa in his life- endured this horrible state of suspense time, if indeed he had not been the architect many minutes longer, and, as it was, I also.
sank exhausted on the floor, unable to take I began to think the building must be any farther measures for my safety.
Perendless, or that we were walking in a circle, haps, after all, it was better that I could so long had this mysterious wandering con- not, at least, such was my view of the tinued, when, upon our entering what matter when in the silence and darkness I appeared to have once been an oratory, my was able to reflect upon it with the comguide suddenly vanished with a loud cry, posure that I had wanted during the terrors seeming to my eyes to sink through the of their pursuit. In my present hidingfloor. But to what purpose had he brought place I was safe for the night at least, me hither? On feeling my way round while, if I ventured to stir out in the hope the walls, for the room was as dark as of escape, it was a hundred to one that I Erebus, and the wind had extinguished my did not, from the want of the necessary lamp some time before, I could find no local knowledge, stumble again into the outlet, and concluded we had got to the hands of my pursuers. Consoling myself, extremity of the building. If so, I had therefore, as well as I could with this not much improved my situation.
reflection, I deferred any further measures Not many minutes, however, had elapsed, till daylight should come to my assistance; before I found good reason to say, “the and, stretching myself at length upon the ghost was an honest ghost,” and to attri- floor, with my cloak for a pillow, I gave bute the salvation of my life to his having way to the feelings of drowsiness which guided me to this distant part of the ruins. naturally succeeded to such excitement. In the very midst of my despair at being My dreams, as they too often are, were placed in such a situation by his inter- full of horrible imaginings. The traitor ference, I was roused to a very different Giuseppe haunted me in a thousand difestimate of things by hearing the voice of ferent forms, in all of which the ludicrous Beppo urging on his banditti in the pursuit was strangely blended with the terrific.
I found myself a boy at school again. I “ Stand you by the outer door, Gianni, was fagging might and main at the first and, if he offer to pass you, down with him, rule of syntax, which somehow or other lad. Slice him like an onion. And do my treacherous memory refused to retain ; you, Blaise, give a look to the old cellar; and there stood my old master, in his while I and Paullo scour to the rooms above. flowered morning-gown, rod in hand, ready A fine troublesome customer Master to castigate one extremity for the faults of Momolo has brought upon our hands, but the other, and all the time my old master he shall pay for it if there's faith in a good was not himself, but Beppo. The agony oak cudgel, or I am no true woodman.” of this dream was too great for human
For more than half an hour I endured sufferance. I woke with a loud yell, and the pains of purgatory, while the search found to my cost that the vision had a after me continued with unabated rancour, strong relish of reality about it. There as was evident from the shouting and was my host, with his wife, his daughter,
Bettina, and a stout young fellow in a “ since they cannot rob and murder me, fustian jacket, all variously armed, ac they want to hang me for a thief.” cording to their several degrees and occu “Besides," added the old fury, “gagging pations, with either broom, whip, or me and binding me to the bed-posts. Only mopstick, an array, which accounted see, doctor, here is the print in black and tolerably well for the flagellation of my blue on my poor arms !—the villain !-after dream.
such a supper as I cooked for him too!” “ Are you not a pretty scoundrel ?” With this she again flourished her mopasked mine host, at the same time taking stick, which seemed to serve as a signal of the measure of my shoulders with his dog- battle to the other three women. They whip.
answered it promptly with similar tokens " To rob an honest man in his own of defiance, and the whole squadron of house!” said the fustian jacket ;—and his furies was advancing gallantly to the attack, whip followed in the same track as Beppo's. when it pleased the doctor to interpose.
66 To misuse your kind hostess, you “ Iram cohibe, old lady, or, for your abominable villain !" said the wife ;—and better understanding, skim the vessel of thwack! her broomstick descended on my your wrath, which seems to be boiling over devoted head.
just now. And you too, my little Laura," Thwack! thwack! came the mops of chucking the daughter under the chin, her daughter and Bettina.
“ depose that awful broom, which you “My good friends! my kind friends !” wield so dexterously, or put it to its leI exclaimed, “ Take my money, take all I gitimate use of waging war against the have, but spare my life.”
spiders, and spare the poor gentleman's But all my cries were to no purpose; cerebellum.” the blows showered upon me thick as hail “ Don't talk to me of the gentleman's from all quarters; and had not some belly,” exclaimed the old hag; “ it has travellers come up, I should hardly have eaten me up as fine a pullet as ever you escaped to record the story of my disasters. set eyes upon; not that I bear a base mind At the sight of this party, which consisted for the matter, or speak it grudgingly; but of an elderly-looking man and four stout to be used as I have been this blessed night followers, the banditti desisted from their by such a sneaking villain, who has not the attack, though, when I heard Giuseppe heart of a hare in his body !
-Only look, welcome the stranger familiarly under the Master Giacomo, see what fine thanks I name of Doctor Giacomo, I had little hope have got!" of a favourable result. Even if they were And, whipping off her garters in a trice not in league, which I much doubted, it with as little ceremony as if no one had was still to be expected, the man being his been present, she bared her brown withered acquaintance, and of course favourably dis- legs to Doctor Giacomo's inspection. For posed, that my false host would make good my own part, I was utterly confounded at his story; and so it turned out.
the matchless hypocrisy of the scene, and “ In the name of all the saints," said really began to fancy that I had escaped the pretended doctor, “what has this honest the perils of assassination only to be hung man done, that you cudgel him so unmer after all for felony without benefit of clergy. cifully?"
At last, when the clamour had a little “ Honest !” exclaimed Giuseppe. subsided, I begged to be favoured with a
“ Honest !" cried the young fellow in the hearing. fustian jacket.
“ That is no more than fair," said the “ Honest !” screamed the three women doctor; and, truth to say, friend Beppo, in chorus.
the signor looks not like a 'snapper up of The whole band of assassins lifted up unconsidered trifles. I'll wager my next their eyes and hands with such a well- fee against your silver poculum-your affected air of astonishment, as might have tankard, whose loss you bemoan so,—that deceived the keenest judge that ever pre
there's some mistake in this matter.” sided at an Old Bailey Sessions.
“Ah! the silver tankard !” replied “He has robbed me of a silver tankard !” Giuseppe, groaning, “ I only wish I had said the host.
him safe in my corner cupboard again; it “And ten silver spoons !” said the wife. would be some time before I'd put him into “ What wretches !” thought I to myself: any such jeopardy.”
“ Don't take on so piteously, Master to be ; “ don't be angry, signor, but listen Beppo,” said the doctor; “ perhaps I may to me while I let you into the secrets of hit on the means to conjure back this the trap-door and the banditti." runaway piece of silver. But, to begin “ Doctor !” cried Giuseppe, hastily, with the beginning, a practice I heartily would
ruin me?” recommend to all who want to see the end Tilly vally, man,” said the doctor, of anything, let us hear what you have to you have nothing to fear on that score ; say, signor."
the signor is an English traveller, and cares Thus encouraged, I proceeded to tell my no more about your smuggling concerns story, fully convinced that if my judge than the Cham of Tartary; for, to tell you were really an honest man, which was the truth,” he added, turning to me, more than I expected, the relation must worthy friend here, though indifferently overwhelm my accusers. I repeated with honest in other matters, pays no more minuteness the various speeches made by regard to the revenue laws than a Jew does Giuseppe ; pointed out their concealed to Sunday. But let that pass; you can meaning, as I had at first interpreted them; easily guess now who your banditti were, and showed how strongly I was borne out and the use of the secret cellar?” in my ideas by the subsequent facts.
" And the man who came in at the No actor could have portrayed amaze window?” I exclaimed, with more warmth ment better than did
my faithless host and than prudence, “who was he?" his family during the first part of this “Myself," replied the young fellow in detail. “ Santa Marias,” “Diavolos,” and fustian. sundry other sonorous ejaculations, burst “ The devil it was !” said mine host. from them at every fresh proof I brought “ Yes; I meant to—nay, it's of no use, forward of their atrocity. But this only Bettina, all must out, rather than uncle inspired me with greater eloquence. I Beppo should come to any harm. The went on, expatiating on each fact, and fact is, I meant to pay a visit to Bettina, dissecting each word, with the minuteness not being aware of the change of rooms." of a special pleader, who tears to pieces the “And pray," asked I, incredulously, conduct of some unhappy culprit, well 66 whom am I to thank for the vision in knowing that both fame and fee depend the blue chamber ?” upon conviction.
To my great surprise, At this question, Giuseppe and his family however, the more I harangved and the crossed themselves with every symptom of more pregnant became my proofs, the more horror. Fine hypocrites ! decidedly did my auditors exchange their “ The figure," I continued, “ in the first looks of amazement for ill-repressed slouched hat, the blue cloak” laughter. The women tittered, mine host “And red hose,” added Giacomo, eagerly smiled, the young man in fustian grinned, piecing out my sentence. and the doctor's lip curled up after the
I was thunderstruck—"The very same, sardonic fashion. This piqued me; alarmed though how you should come to the knowas I was for my eventual safety, I did not ledge of”choose to be treated like a child, and to But without waiting to hear me out, the have my tale made a subject of ridicule, doctor shouted triumphantly, “ We have as if I were one of those simple-minded him! we have him! Away with you, travellers, who, as the proverb says, make Pietro; scour the ruins, Luigi. mountains of molehills. Assuming, there- lads, and put feathers to your heels, for if fore, an air of dignity, to give the greater he once escape from us into the forest, we weight to my words, I said, “ Believe me, may have another night of it.” sir, you are deceived in these people : not Away scampered the pretended doctor withstanding they want to make the whole and his myrmidons, for, that it was a preappear no more than a joke, I can assure tence, I had no doubt whatever. I was you it is anything but a laughing matter. not to be duped by any of their tricks or I saw the banditti in the kitchen-I saw explanations, and felt that the whole scene them open the trap-door”
had been got up merely to cloak the bloody But at this part of my story I was inter- occupation of the banditti, as they were rupted by a general shout of laughter. afraid I might otherwise betray them into
“Don't be angry," said the doctor, seeing the hands of justice, while yet they did that I was to the full as wroth as I dared not dare to murder me in the broad day
light. But, though such was my con sorry for having handled you so roughly, viction, I thought it most prudent to seem but we had all drunk of the same cup, I satisfied. “ I am perfectly contented," I fancy; and, since you took me for a robber, said, “ with your explanation of the night's you may the more readily forgive my mysteries, and I pledge you my honour I blunder in taking you for a thief. After will never breathe a syllable about them to all, there is no great harm done, at least any human being."
not more than our doctor here will easily I believe that if I believe nothing else," set to rights with two pennyworths of said mine host, with a sarcastic sneer. ointment.”
“You may, indeed," I repeated still Here the doctor broke in with “ Favete more emphatically.
linguis-hold your tongue, Beppo; I'll I were an infidel to doubt it,” said have no interlopers in the shop, no meddlers Giuseppe.
with the mysteries of the trade. What “And now, before I take my leave of should you know of ointments except in you, allow me to pay,—no, not pay,—but the case of a sick hound, or a horse that to testify my gratitude by offering you has got the glanders? Let me feel your these few pieces of gold.”
pulse, signor. “ I'll allow no such thing," he replied “Not the least occasion,” I said, anxious bluntly; I have already told you this is to get away from them, if that were posno inn, nor am I a man to bring a reckoning sible; “ I feel no inconvenience whatever for a night's board or a night's lodging; but, from the-the-the late affair, and, were
take your leave, as you phrase Momolo returned, should be glad to set off it, I must be sure you have not taken my with as little delay as might be.” silver tankard.”
“ Set off again!” exclaimed Giuseppe ; " And the ten silver spoons, husband ; " that were to shame our hospitality for don't forget the ten silver spoons.”
No, no, my worthy guest, you'll “ Here he is ! we have him !” shouted spend a day or so in the old ruins, if it the doctor, who now re-appeared upon the were only to convince yourself that we
“ Bring him along, lads. Here is don't make a practice of cutting throats”your ghost, signor, and your thief, Beppo, “ Except in the way of business," interand
my mad patient, all in one, three faces rupted Giacomo. “ But I forgot, signor, under one hood. We found him moaning it wont do to jest with you on such matters, and groaning in the room under the turret seeing that you have a marvellous fancy oratory, where he seems to have got by à for interpreting things after a fashion of way of his own, videlicet, through the your own. Let me, therefore, make it rotten floor. By the bye, Beppo, the rats known to you, that our worthy host excepts and the damps are playing the deuce with the human genus from his practice ; his this castle of yours; if you don't leave it scientific knife meddles with nothing of soon, I shall have to dig you out of the higher quality than the wild boar or the ruins some windy morning.–What? you red deer, and upon these he is licensed to would give us the slip again, would you ? operate by virtue of his office.” Draw that cord a little tighter about his Yes, yes, doctor, I leave the human arms, Blaise—tighter yet—you have given bipeds, whether dead or living, to your us trouble enough, my fine fellow; but, care. But come, signor, you must not basta—you fast a month for it on bread and refuse to be our guest for one day at least, water, with a handsome pair of bracelets to or I shall fancy you bear an angry will to your feet, and a smart allowance of whip to us on the score of our night's blunders, and refresh your memory.”
I should not like to part on such terms During this long tirade of Signor either.” Giacomo's, which, I must confess, was “ Well advised, honest Beppo," said the delivered with so much appearance of truth doctor; “ the whole faculty in conclave as almost to deceive myself, the woman
could not counsel more to the purpose. had pounced upon the recovered silver like List to him, sir stranger; you have come an eagle upon its quarry, and Giuseppe, abroad procul dubio-beyond doubt—to see turning to me, pretended to treat the whole sights, or it may be to compound a book, affair as a tissue of laughable blunders on for you English are desperate tourists, either side.
always travelling well armed, not with Faith, signor,” he said, “I am heartily spear in rest, but with pen in hand. If so,