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To himself the man was simply name, by insinuation, everywhere; odious, and if the result of all his and in spite of himself he found varied gifts and accomplishments he had got into a tone not merely was only to make up such a being querulous, but actually aggressive, as he was, then would he welcome and was using towards Alice an air the most unlettered and unformed of reproof that he almost trembled clown that ever walked rather than at as he re-read it. this mass of conceit and self-suffi- “ This will never do," cried he, ciency. .
as he tore up the scribbled sheets. He sat down to commit these “I'll wait till to-morrow, and perthoughts to paper, and though he haps I shall do better.” When the scrawled over seven sheets in the morrow came he was despatched attempt, nothing but failure came on duty, and Alice remained unanof it. Maitland came in, if not by swered.
CHAPTER XXXIX. --THE MAJOR'S MISSION.
If my reader has been as reten- drawn from public view, and an tive as I could wish him, he will immediate meeting with Maitland have borne in mind that on the prevented. evening when Major M'Caskey It was not very difficult, without took a very menacing leave of Nor- any breach of confidence, for Cafman Maitland at Paris, Count Caf- farelli to convey to Filangieri that farelli had promised his friend to his choice of M'Caskey for this miswrite to General Filangieri to ob- sion was something stronger than a tain from the King a letter ad- caprice, and that his real wish was dressed to Maitland in the royal that this fiery personage should not hand by the title of Count of Amalfi be at Naples when they arrived -such a recognition being as valid there. an act of ennoblement as all the A very brief note, which reached declarations and registrations and Caffarelli before he had left Paris, emblazonments of heralds and the informed him that all he requested colleges.
had been duly done. “He gave it" It had been originally intended it was of the King he spokethat this letter should be enclosed “he gave it at once, Carlo; only to Count Ludolf, the Neapolitan saying, with a laugh, One of my envoy at Turin, where Maitland brothers may dispute it with him would have found it; but seeing some of these days—for it gives the spirit which had now grown up some privilege ; but whether it be between Maitland and M'Caskey, to claim the rights of the Church and foreseeing well what would after high_treason, or to have two occur whenever these two men wives in Lower Calabria, I don't should meet, Caffarelli, with that as- remember ; but tell your friend to tuteness that never fails the Italian, avoid both murder and matrimony, determined to avert the peril by a at least till he returns to a more stratagem which lent its aid to the civilised region. object he had in hand. He begged "I shall send the Irish major the General would transmit the with the despatch, as you wish. If letter from the King, not to Turin, I understand you aright, you are not but to the Castello di Montanara, over-anxious he should come back where Maitland had long resided, in with the answer. But why not be a far-away part of Calabria, and more explicit ? If you want — employ as the messenger M'Caskey remember Calabria is— Calahimself; by which means this very bria—you understand.” irritable and irritating individual At first Caffarelli had intended might be, for a time at least, with not to show this note to Maitland; but the profound contempt which of the sea-wall being a labour that his friend exhibited for M'Caskey, never ended. proved that no sense of a debt of The present occupant, Sir Omehonour outstanding between them rod Butler, lived in one small block would lessen Maitland's satisfac- called the “Molo," which projected tion at hearing that this trouble into the sea at the very end of the some “cur" - so he called him- promontory, and was approachable should not be yelping at his heels on the land side by a beautiful through the streets of Naples. avenue of cedars. They were of
Maitland, in fact, declared, that great age, and, tradition said, had be knew of no misfortune in life been brought from Lebanon. If so thoroughly ruinous as to be con- ruin and neglect and desolation fronted in a quarrel with a ques. characterised all around, no soontionable antagonist. From the er had the traveller entered this ridicule of such a situation, he shady approach than all changed to averred, the only escape was in a the most perfect care and culturefatal ending; and Maitland knew flowery shrubs of every kind, beds nothing so bad as ridicule. En- of gorgeous flowers, pergolati of mity in all its shapes he had faced, vines leading down to the sea, and and could face again. Give him a orange-groves dipping their golden foe but worthy of him, and no man balls in the blue Mediterranean at ever sprang into the lists with a every step, till the ample gate was lighter heart: the dread of a false reached ; passing into which you position was too much for him. entered a spacious court paved with
Leaving these two friends, variegated marble, with a massive then, at Paris to talk, amid their fountain in the centre. From this lives of many dissipations, of plots court, under a pillared archway, led and schemes and ambitions, let us off all the lower rooms-great spabetake ourselves to a very distant cious chambers, with richly painted spot, at the extreme verge of the ceilings and tesselated floors. Into Continent - a little inlet on the these was gathered the most costly Calabrian coast below Reggio ; furniture of the whole palace :where, on a small promontory tables and consoles of malachite separating two narrow bays, stands and porphyry, gorgeously inlaid the lone Castle of Montanara. It slabs of lapis lazuli and agate, cahad been originally a convent, asbinets of rare beauty, and objects its vast size indicates, but was pur- of ancient art. Passing through chased and converted into a royal these again you gained the rooms residence by a former king of Na- of daily habitation, arranged with ples, who spent incredible sums all the taste and luxury of modern on the buildings and the gardens. refinement, and distinctively markThe latter especially were most ing that the cold splendour withcostly, since they were entirely arti- out could not attain to that sense ficial—the earth having been car- of comfort and voluptuous ease ried from the vicinity of Naples which an age of greater indulgence
The castle itself was the most in- requires. congruous mass that could be con- The outer gate of the castle, ceived-embracing the fortress, the which opened by a drawbridge convent, the ornate style of Venice, over a deep moat, on the Reggio and the luxurious vastness of an road, was little less than a mile Oriental palace, all within its walls. off; and it may give some idea of It may be imagined that no private the vast size of the place to state fortune, however ample, could have that, from that entrance to the kept in perfect order a place of such Molo, there was a succession of immense size, the gardens alone buildings of one kind or other, requiring above thirty men con- only interrupted by areas of courtstantly at work, and the repairs yard or garden.
When, at the close of a sultry day, of his companion assured him that Major M'Caskey presented himself the safer policy was to restrain his at this gate, summoning the porter wrath, and, touching his hat in with a vigorous pull of the bell, he salute, he retired without a word. was not admitted till a very careful As though he felt in better temscrutiny showed that he was alone, per with himself for having thus and did not, besides, exhibit any discharged this little debt, the thing very formidable in his ap- Major stepped more briskly forpearance. He was told, as he ward, gained the small postern, passed in, that he must leave his and entered a large and formal horse at the stables beside the garden, the chief avenue of which gate, and make the rest of his way showed him the gate at the exon foot. The Major was both tired tremity. It lay open, and he found and hungry; he had been in the himself in a large vaulted hall, from saddle since daybreak, had twice which doors led off. In doubt missed his way, and tasted no food which course to take, he turned to since he set out.
seek for a bell, but there was none “Is there much more of this con- to be found ; and after a careful founded way to go ?” asked he of search on every side, he determined his guide, as they now mounted a to announce himself by a stout terrace, only to descend again. knocking at one of the doors before
“About a quarter of an hour will him. bring you to the Molo," said the The hollow clamour resounded other, just as ill-pleased to have the through the whole building, and duty of escorting him. A quick soon brought down two men in glance at the fellow's face showed faded livery, half terrified, half the Major how hopeless it would angry at the summons. be to expect any information from M'Caskey, at once assuming the him ; and though he was burning upper hand, a habit in which practo know who inhabited this lone- tice had made him a proficient, some place, and why he lived there, demanded haughtily to see “ the he forebore all questioning, and Count," their master. went along in silence.
“He is at dinner," said they “There !” said his guide, at last, both together. as they reached a great archway “I wish I were so too," said the standing alone in a sort of lawn. Major. “Go in and tell him that
—“there! you follow that road to I am the bearer of a royal despatch, the little gate yonder, pass in, cross and desire to see him immediately." the garden, and you will be at the They held counsel together in side-entrance of the Molo. I don't whispers for a few minutes, during suppose you want to enter by the which the name Maria occurred grand gate ?”
frequently between them. “We Major M'Caskey was not much will tell the Senora Maria you are in the habit of suffering an inso- here," said one, at last. lence to pass unresented ; but he “And who may she be?” said seemed to control himself as he M'Caskey, haughtily. drew forth his purse and took out “ She is the Cameriera of the a crown-piece. “This is for your Countess, and the chief of all the trouble, my worthy fellow," said household." he; “ go and look for it yonder,” “My business is not with a and he jerked the piece of money waiting-woman. I have come to over the low parapet, and sent it see the Count of Amalfi," said the skimming along the sea a hundred Major, sternly. yards off.
The men apparently knew their Though the man's lips murmur- own duties best, and, civilly asked in passion, and his dark eyes ing him to follow, they led the way flashed anger, one look at the face up a small flight of stairs, and after traversing some scantily-furnished her head away, and then covered rooms, showed him into a pretty her face with her hands. decorated little chamber, with two “Senora Maria,” said he, slowly windows looking on the sea. —“unless indeed you still desire I
Having politely begged him to should call you Mrs M‘Caskey." be seated, they left him. The “No, no–Maria,” cried she, wildMajor, besides being hungry and ly; “I am but a servant-1 toil jaded, was irritable and angry. for my bread, but better that Filangieri had told him his mis- than-2” She stopped, and, afsion was one of importance and ter an effort to subdue her emotion, high trust; in fact, so much so, burst into tears and sobbed bitthat it could not be confided to terly. one less known than himself. And “It matters little to me, madam, was this the way they received a what the name. The chain that royal envoy, sent on such an er- ties us is just as irrevocable, whatrand? While he thus fumed and ever we choose to call ourselves. chafed, he heard a door open and As to anything else, I do not supclose, and shortly after the sweep pose you intend to claim me as your of a woman's dress coming along the husband.” corridor; and now the step came “No, no, never," cried she, imnearer, and the door opened, and petuously. a tall, sickly-looking woman en- “Nor am I less generous, madam. tered; but scarcely had she ad- None shall ever hear from me that vanced one pace within the room you were my wife. The contract when she uttered a faint scream was one that brought little credit and fainted.
to either of us.” The Major's first care was to “Nothing but misery and misturn the key in the lock, his second fortune to me!” said she, bitterly ; was to lift up the almost lifeless “nothing else-nothing else !" figure and place her on a sofa. As “You remind me, madam," said he did so, any emotion that his he, in a slow deliberate voice, as features betrayed was rather of dis- though he were enunciating some pleasure than astonishment; and in long-resolved sentiment,“ you rethe impatient way he jerked open mind me much of Josephine.” the window to let the fresh air “Who is Josephine?" asked she, blow on her there was far more of quickly. anger than surprise.
"I speak of the Empress Jose“So then you are the Senora phine, so you may perceive that I Maria, it would seem," were the have sought your parallel in high first words she heard as she rallied places. She, like you, deemed herfrom her swoon.
self the most unhappy of women, "Oh, Miles !” cried she, with an and all because destiny had linked intense agony, “why have you her with a greatness that she could tracked me here? Could you not not measure." have let me drag out my few years Though her vacant stare might of life in peace ?”
have assured him either that she It was difficult to guess how did not understand his words, or these words affected him, or rather follow their meaning, never dauntin how many different ways; for ed he went on. though at first his eyes flashed “Yes, madam; and, like her husangrily, he soon gave a short jeering band, yours has had much to bearsort of laugh, and, throwing himself levity-frivolity-and-worse." down into a chair, he crossed his “What are you here for? Why arms on his breast and gazed have you come after me?” cried steadily at her.
she, wildly. “I swore to you beThe look seemed to remind her fore, and I swear it again, that I of bygone suffering, for she turned will never go back to you.”
“ Whenever you reduce that thought it was a mode of addresspledge to writing, madam, call on ing him secretly. The Count of me to be your security for its due Amalfi lives here, perhaps." performance; be it known to you, “I never heard of him." therefore, that this meeting was an “Who lives here besides Sir unexpected happiness to me." Omerod ?”
She covered her face, and rocked “My lady—that is, the Countess; to and fro like one in the throes none else." of a deep suffering.
“ Who is the Countess-Countess “I should be a glutton, madam, of what, and where?”. if I desired a repetition of such “ She is a Milanese ; she was a scenes as these; they filled eight Brancaleone.” years—eight mortal years-of a life “Brancaleone, Brancaleone! there not otherwise immemorable.” were two of them. One went to
“And what have they done for Mexico with the Duke of Sommarme ?” cried she, roused almost to iva-not his wife.” boldness by his taunting manner. “This is the other ; she is mar
“Made you thinner, paler, a ried to Sir Omerod.” trifle more aged, perhaps," said he, “She must be Virginia Brancascanning her leisurely ; “but al- leone," said M'Caskey, trying to ways what Frenchmen would call a remember," the same Lord Byron femme charmante."
used to rave about." The mockery seemed more than She nodded an assent, and he she could bear; for she sprang to continued. her feet, and, in a voice vibrating “ Nini Brancaleone was a toast, with passion, said, “Take care, I remember, with Wraxall and TreMiles M‘Caskey-take care ; there lawney, and the rest of us. She was are men here, if they saw me insult the ' reason fair' of many a good ed, would throw you over that sea- glass of claret which Byron gave wall as soon as look at you."
us, in those days before he became “Ring for your bravos, madam- stingy." summon your condottieri at once," "You had better keep your mesaid he, with an impudent laugh ; mories to yourself in case you meet “they'll have some warmer work her," said she, warningly. than they bargained for.”
“ Miles M'Caskey, madam, re“Oh, why not leave me in peace quires very little advice or admoni- why not let me have these few tion in a matter that touches tact years of life without more of shame or good-breeding." A sickly smile and misery ?” said she, throwing of more than half-derision curled herself on her knees before him. the woman's lip, but she did not
“Permit me to offer you a chair, speak. “And now let us come madam," said he, as he took her back to this Count of Amalfi : who hands, and placed her on a seat; is he? where is he ?”. “and let me beg that we talk of “I have told you already I do something else. Who is the Count! not know.” • The Onoralissimo e Pregiatissimo, “ There was a time, madam, you Nobile Conte,'” for he read now would have required no second infrom the address of a letter he had timation that it was your duty to drawn from his pocket-"Nobile find out." Conte d'Amalfi '—is that the name. “Ah, I remember those words of the owner of this place ?”
but too well,” cried she, bitterly. “No; it is the Chevalier Butler, “ Finding out was my task for formerly Minister at Naples, lives many a year.” here—Sir Omerod Bramston But- “Well, madam, it was an exercise ler."
that might have put a fine edge on “Ah, then I perceive it is real- your understanding, but, like some ly meant for another person! I other advantages of your station, it