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All the blood in his body seemed to rush into his face" Curse the purse," said he, as he snatched it up. He dashed a handful of money on the ground before the pale cringing waiter-" There-be off!" cried he. "John, order the postilions to drive on."
Above half an hour had been exhausted in this altercation. The Venetian carriage had loitered along ; its passengers looking out from time to time, and expect ing the escort every moment to follow. They had gradually turned an angle of the road that shut them out of sight. The little army was again in motion, and made a very picturesque appearance as it wound along at the bottom of the rocks; the morning sunshine beaming upon the weapons of the soldiery.
The Englishman lolled back in his carriage, vexed with himself at what had passed, and consequently out of humour with all the world. As this, however, is no uncommon case with gentlemen who travel for their pleasure, it is hardly worthy of remark. They had wound up from the coast among the hills, and came to a part of the road that admitted of some prospect ahead.
"I see nothing of the lady's carriage, sir," said John, leaning down from the coach-box.
"Pish!" said the Englishman, testily-" don't plague me about the lady's carriage; must I be continually pestered with the concerns of strangers ?" John said not another word, for he understood his master's mood.
The road grew more wild and lonely; they were slowly proceeding on a foot pace up a hill; the dragoons were some distance ahead, and had just reached the summit of the hill, when they uttered an exclamation, or rather shout, and galloped forward. The Englishman was roused from his sulky reverie. He stretched his head from the carriage, which had attained the brow of the hill. Before him extended a long hollow defile, commanded on one side by rugged precipitous heights, covered with bushes and scanty forest. At some distance he beheld the carriage of the Venetians overturned; a numerous gang of desperadoes were rifling it; the young man and his servant were overpowered,
and partly stripped, and the lady was in the hands of two of the ruffians. The Englishman seized his pistols, sprung from the carriage, and called upon John to follow him.
In the meantime, as the dragoons came forward, the robbers, who were busy with the carriage, quitted their spoil, formed themselves in the middle of the road, and taking a deliberate aim, fired. One of the dragoons fell, another was wounded, and the whole were for a moment checked and thrown in confusion. The robbers loaded again in an instant. The dragoons discharged their carbines, but without apparent effect. They received another volley, which, though none fell, threw them again into confusion. The robbers were loading a second time, when they saw the foot soldiers at hand." Scampa via!" was the word: they abandoned their prey, and retreated up the rocks, the soldiers after them. They fought from cliff to cliff, and bush to bush, the robbers turning every now and then to fire upon their pursuers; the soldiers scrambling after them, and discharging their muskets whenever they could get a chance. Sometimes a soldier or a robber was shot down, and came tumbling among the cliffs. The dragoons kept firing from below whenever a robber came in sight.
The Englishman had hastened to the scene of action, and the balls discharged at the dragoons had whistled past him as he advanced. One object, however, engrossed his attention. It was the beautiful Venetian lady in the hands of two of the robbers, who, during the confusion of the fight, carried her shrieking up the mountain. He saw her dress gleaming among the bushes, and he sprang up the rocks to intercept the robbers, as they bore off their prey. The ruggedness of the steep, and the entanglements of the bushes, delayed and impeded him. He lost sight of the lady, but was still guided by her cries, which grew fainter and fainter. They were off to the left, while the reports of muskets showed that the battle was raging to the right. At length he came upon what appeared to be a
rugged footpath, faintly worn in a gully of the rocks, and beheld the ruffians at some distance hurrying the lady up the defile. One of them hearing his approach, let go his prey, advanced towards him, and levelling the carbine, which had been slung on his back, fired. The ball whizzed through the Englishman's hat, and carried with it some of his hair. He returned the fire with one of his pitols, and the robber fell. The other brigand now dropped the lady, and drawing a long pistol from his belt, fired on his adversary with deliberate aim. The ball passed between his left arm and his side, slightly wounding the arm. The Englishman advanced, and discharged his remaining pistol, which wounded the robber, but not severely.
The brigand drew a stiletto and rushed upon his adversary, who eluded the blow, receiving merely a slight wound, and defended himself with his pistol, which had a spring bayonet. They closed with one another, and a desperate struggle ensued. The robber was a squarebuilt, thick-set man, powerful, muscular, and active. The Englishman, though of larger frame and greater strength, was less active and less accustomed to athletic exercises and feats of hardihood, but he showed himself practised and skilled in the arts of defence. They were on a craggy height, and the Englishman perceived that his antagonist was striving to press him to the edge. A side glance showed him also the robber whom he had first wounded, scrambling up to the assistance of his comrade, stiletto in hand. He had in fact attained the summit of the cliff, he was within a few steps, and the Englishman felt that his case was desperate, when he heard suddenly the report of a pistol, and the ruffian fell. The shot came from John, who had arrived just in time to save his master.
The remaining robber, exhausted by loss of blood and the violence of the contest, showed signs of faltering. The Englishman pursued his advantage, pressed on him, and as his strength relaxed, dashed him headlong from the precipice. He looked after him, and saw him lying motionless among the rocks below.
The Englishman now sought the fair Venetian. He found her senseless on the ground. With his servant's assistance he bore her down to the road, where her husband was raving like one distracted. He had sought her in vain, and had given her over for lost; and when he beheld her thus brought back in safety, his joy was equally wild and ungovernable. He would have caught her insensible form to his bosom, had not the Englishman restrained him. The latter, now really aroused, displayed a true tenderness and manly gallantry which one would not have expected from his habitual phlegm. His kindness, however, was practical, not wasted in words. He despatched John to the carriage for restoratives of all kinds, and, totally thoughtless of himself, was anxious only about his lovely charge. The occasional discharge of fire-arms along the height showed that a retreating fight was still kept up by the robbers. The lady gave signs of reviving animation. The Englishman, eager to get her from this place of danger, conveyed her to his own carriage, and, committing her to the care of her husband, ordered the dragoons to escort them to Fondi. The Venetian would have insisted on the Englishman's getting into the carriage, but the latter refused. He poured forth a torrent of thanks and benedictions; but the Englishman beckoned to the postilions to drive on.
John now dressed his master's wounds, which were found not to be serious, though he was faint with loss of blood. The Venetian carriage had been righted, and the baggage replaced; and, getting into it, they set out on their way towards Fondi, leaving the foot-soldiers still engaged in ferreting out the banditti.
Before arriving at Fondi, the fair Venetian had completely recovered from her swoon. She made the usual question
"Where was she?"
In the Englishman's carriage." "How had she escaped from the robbers?"
"The Englishman had rescued her." Her transports were unbounded; and mingled with
them were enthusiastic ejaculations of gratitude to her deliverer. A thousand times did she reproach herself for having accused him of coldness and insensibility. The moment she saw him she rushed into his arms with the vivacity of her nation, and hung about his neck in a speechless transport of gratitude. Never was man more embarassed by the embraces of a fine woman. "Tut!-tut!" said the Englishman.
"You are wounded!" shrieked the Venetian, as she saw blood upon his clothes.
"Pooh! nothing at all!"
My deliverer!-my angel!" exclaimed she, clasping him again round the neck, and sobbing on his bosom.
"Pish!" said the Englishman, with a good-humoured tone, but looking somewhat foolish, "this is all humbug.'
The fair Venetian, however, has never since accused the English of insensibility.
As many of the retired matrons of this city, unskilled in "gestic lore," are doubtless ignorant of the movements and figures of this modest exhibition, I will endeavour to give some account of it, in order that they may learn what odd capers their daughters sometimes cut when from under their guardian wings.—On a signal being given by the music, the gentleman seizes the lady round her waist; the lady, scorning to be out-done in courtesy, very politely takes the gentleman round the neck, with one arm resting against his shoulder to prevent encroachments. Away, then, they go, about, and about, and about-" About what, sir?"—About the room, madam, to be sure. The whole economy of this dance consists in turning round and round the room in a certain measured step; and it is truly astonishing that this continued revolution does not set all their heads swimming like a top; but I have been positively assured that it