Page images
PDF
EPUB

comes

never

a mug full of wine upon his Last Things ! Who pate, which gave him a red knocking in high God's name? baptism. “ Hist, you block- Who saith, 'Open'?-I will tell head, hist !” said his host. you : it is She who last night lit “ There is a stir outside the upon my village and my own door I tell you !” The shepherd sister's son. Eh! bodies of all grew sober in a moment.

dogs, what will become of us There was a brief scramble in sinners ?Here the shepherd the room -then silence. The beat the drum of his breast as a ladies' petticoats went farther signal before he fell flat on the than they were ever intended to floor. go; Picagente rolled over and From behind his wailful voice over till he reached cover under the gentle knocking was heard the table; the cards were hidden, running on. It had all the players' heads buried in ceased ; it was insistent! Crosstheir elbows. Stefano blew outing himself desperately, Stefano the light. Then they heard dis- slid back the bolts, then paused, tinctly a fluttering knock at the then turned the key, then paused door, timid but continuous. again to breathe hard, his hand

Feigning a yawn, Stefano upon the latch. He threw his growled, “ Who's there at this head forward with a gesture of hour?'

abandonment to what must be, The answer came in a woman's flung wide the door, and dropped voice, saying, “Open, open, in upon his two knees. the name of high God.” It Against a mild radiance, softer brought every head into the air than any lamp could shed, was again, but hushed every breath. a tall shrouded woman's figure.

The shepherd broke the silence They saw the round of her with a groan. He brought his cloaked head, they saw the white hand splashing on to his wet stream of her under-robe run head, then fell to his knees and from a peak at her bosom in a began to confess his sins. broadening path to her feet.

My fault, my fault, my ex- They saw the pure grey moon ceeding great fault! O Mary! of her face, guessed by the dark 0 Jesus ! O nobis peccatori- rings where her eyes should be, bus !Thus the

the shepherd, watched with quicker awe the voicing the suspicions of the slow movement of her arms, rest. So he became their lifted their own to what she prophet as well as their priest. held up, and to the running He towered in the room.

under-current of the two sob“I tell you, comrades, that bing drabs muttered in one the hour of our visitation is voice their remembered adoracome. Not Can Grande and tion. his hounds are hunting us this The tall shepherd rose up by night; not the tumbril, the the help of the table, swayed branding-irons, nor the cart's and spoke. No one knew his tail, are for us, but the pains of voice again, hollow as it was death, the fire eternal, the untir- like the sea-grumble. “O Holiable worm, the trumpet of the est, O Rose, o Stem of Sharon,

66

VI.—THE VISITATION OF THE GOLDEN FISH.

When a beast of chase—hart- the benches, partly for fear of royal, bear, or wolf—has been a visit from the watch, partly bayed and broken up, the least because, having already fallen worthy parts are thrown to the there once, they feared to fall curs which always come up at there again if they rose. In the heels of the pack. Soit is with one hand each held his knife, a kingly seat: the best of the in the other his empty mug. meats, after the great officers of Two ladies, intimates of theirs, the household have feasted, go Robaccia and Crucciacorda, sat to the dependants of these; the immediately above them, with peelings and guttings, the very petticoats ready to make amoffal and scour of the broth, are bush the moment a staff should flung farther, to the parasites of rattle at the door; round the the parasites, the ticks on ticks' table half-a-dozen shabby rogues backs. Round about the Castle bickered over their cards; Picaof Verona, where Can Grande gente, the hairy brigand, lay II. misused the justice which his snoring across the threshold, forefathers had set up, lay the and his dog on him; on a barrel houses of his courtiers; beyond in a corner a gigantic shepherd them the lodgings of the grooms; in leather, with bandaged legs beyond them again, down to and a patch over one eye, shut the river's brink, were the stews the other eye while he roared a and cabins and unholy dens hymn to Bacchus at the top whose office was to be lower stretch of his lungs. The oilthan the lowest, that there lamp flickered, flared, and might still be degrees for the gloomed, half drowned in the gentlemen of gentlemen's gentle- fumes of wine. A smell of

And since even cock- wicked bodies, foul clothes, roaches must drink, in this drink, and bad language made fungus - bed of misery there the air wellnigh solid. The flourished a rather infamous hour was at the stroke of tavern by the sale of vino nos- ten; outside the streets seemed trano, black and sour, of cer- asleep. tain sausages,

black also and In the middle of the uproar nameless, speckled with white Stefano the host looked up lumps, and of other wares whom sharply, listening. to name were to expose.

This “Stop your devil's ferment, was the tavern of the Golden Malabocca !” he thundered at Fish.

the shepherd; “stop it, or I'll On the evening of the day of split your crown." the Translation of the Peachstone, this tavern was full to “ Bacco trionfante, suffocation. Stefano, the purple

Amante e spumante,

Evviva l' ubbriacchezza ! " faced host, in shirt and breeches, stood dealing the liquor from a roared Malabocca, screwing up tub. Two outlaws lay under his eye. Stefano brought down

men.

comes

never

a mug full of wine upon his Last Things !

Who pate, which gave him a

him a red knocking in high God's name? baptism. “ Hist, you block- Who saith, 'Open'?-I will tell head, hist!” said his host. you: it is She who last night lit “ There is a stir outside the upon my village and my own door I tell you !” The shepherd sister's son. Eh! bodies of all grew sober in a moment. dogs, what will become of us

There was a brief scramble in sinners ?” Here the shepherd the room—then silence. The beat the drum of his breast as a ladies' petticoats went farther signal before he fell flat on the than they were ever intended to floor. go; Picagente rolled over and From behind his wailful voice over till he reached cover under the gentle knocking was heard the table; the cards were hidden, running on. It had all the players' heads buried in ceased; it was insistent! Crosstheir elbows. Stefano blew out ing himself desperately, Stefano the light. Then they heard dis- slid back the bolts, then paused, tinctly a fluttering knock at the then turned the key, then paused door, timid but continuous. again to breathe hard, his hand

Feigning a yawn, Stefano upon the latch. He threw his growled, “Who's there at this head forward with a gesture of hour?

abandonment to what must be, The answer came in a woman's flung wide the door, and dropped voice, saying, “Open, open, in upon his two knees. the name of high God.” It Against a mild radiance, softer brought every head into the air than any lamp could shed, was again, but hushed every breath. a tall shrouded woman's figure. The shepherd broke the silence They saw the round of her

He brought his cloaked head, they saw the white hand splashing on to his wet stream of her under-robe run head, then fell to his knees and from a peak at her bosom in a began to confess his sins. broadening path to her feet.

“My fault, my fault, my ex- They saw the pure grey moon ceeding great fault! O Mary! of her face, guessed by the dark 0 Jesus ! O nobis peccatori- rings where her eyes should be, bus !Thus the shepherd, watched with quicker awe the voicing the suspicions of the slow movement of her arms, rest. So he became their lifted their own to what she prophet as well as their priest. held up, and to the running He towered in the room.

under-current of the two sob“I tell you, comrades, that bing drabs muttered in the hour of our visitation is voice their remembered adora

Not Can Grande and tion. his hounds are hunting us this The tall shepherd rose up by night; not the tumbril, the the help of the table, swayed branding-irons, nor the cart's and spoke. No one knew his tail, are for us, but the pains of voice again, hollow as it was death, the fire eternal, the untir- like the sea-grumble. “O Holiable worm, the trumpet of the est, O Rose, o Stem of Sharon,

with a groan.

one

come.

me?"

O Tree of Carmel !” said he had finished she sat a little “What wouldest thou with us while with her white cheek sinners ?

against her hand, whispering And the woman at the door words in an unknown tongue said, “My friends, I have no (they said, who knew no baby roof to my head; will you take language) to the child on her me in ?

I am hungry; have lap. He lifted up a little hand, you no meat for my child and and, “Eh, my son, my son,” she

said, “wilt thou take of me?” The host in Stefano jogged Then she gave him the breast, the sinner to speak. “Surely, while not a soul said anything surely, sweet Lady! Surely, but prayers for half an hour. surely. I entreat your Gracious- When the child slept the Lady ness to enter, to step in, to ac- folded up her dress, covered him commodate, to sit down, to be with her cloak, and rose up in pleased to be easy, to-to-to their midst.

inspiration failed him- “Only the poor love the to sit down, in short,” was his poor,” said she, in those low lame conclusion. His sweat (as tones which all Verona came to he said next day) would have know by heart, "and only they blinded any other man. who have little to eat give to

Through the backing ranks of them that have less. My little the scared company- -Robaccia son will bless

you
for

your leaning face to the wall, sob- charity; and I, good friends, bing her heart out; Picagente, will pray my master to reward the hairy brigand, breathing you when he comes. Addio, short and hard ; the shepherd, addio, be with God.” Then she glorified, exalted, bursting with would have gone and left them prophecy; two thieves at their crying had not Robaccio, the prayers and a wanton taking blowsy wench and good-forthe words from them,—through naught, wailed aloud and caught such an assembly the Lady of her by the knees. the Peach-tree (who else, pray ?) “Mother, mother, mother!” walked to the table. A soft whimpered this hardy rascal, grey light from without filled “bless me a little more than the the room ; there was no need of others, a very little more ! I a lamp, nor did any eye am bad— Eh, God, I am vile watch fail to see all that fol- enough !—but I will never let lowed. Bread and wine were thee go save thou kiss me." served by Stefano on bent knee; You could have heard the bread and wine (but sparingly) roomful of them catch breath todid the Lady eat from cup and gether. Crucciacorda, the other platter. That

That cup, that platter, woman, laughed horribly; the encased in gold leaves and shepherd made a step forward crusted with turquoise, are to to drag the slut away. But this day in

the Treasury. no! The light seemed to swell Crutches have been cast be- and grow towards that point fore them, hearts innumerable where it threatens to be music, burn about them. When she so charged with messages it is

in the

then on

ир,

-it came undoubtedly from the outside its door. The ladies of heart of the Lady through her the litters were in the room smile. For smile she did, as upon their knees; the knights sweetly, as tenderly, as a break- of the horses, their great heling cloud. The sun of her smile mets on their backs, knelt in was like a clean breath in the the kennel praying devoutly. stivy den; and, behold, she took The wail of “ Dies Iræ went Robaccia by the hand and lifted down the Corso and up again, her she encircled her with a “Salve Regina ” wavered over mothering arm, and drew her the sunny spaces of the Brà. In close to her own breast. Her the amphitheatre, after an openlips touched the bad girl's air mass, the cardinal legate cheek, lingered for a moment solemnly exposed the relics of there, wistfully withdrew; and last night's miracle, and a bodyMadonna of the Peach-tree, guard of twenty noble youths, none staying her now, went out six chaplains, and a Benedictine into the dead street, and was abbot went to the suburb to seen no more of that company. escort into the city the curate

The sun at noon looked down with the Peach-stone. It was a upon Verona at peace, upon her glorious day, never to be forcitizens at their prayers. Never gotten in the annals of Verona, was such a scene in the stormy Charity and the open heart went little city before. All the bells side by side with compunction of all the churches pealed all and the searching of the heart. day-with no lack of arms to Tears were shed and kissed pull them. Men and women

away ; kisses induced the fall ran to and fro kissing whom of gentler tears. It might be they met, with a "Save you, stoutly questioned whether Ver

a “ brother!” Save

you, sister! held one unshriven soul, well met, well met!” The Grey one sin unspoken, or one solace Brethren, the Black Brethren, unawarded. the White Brethren of Carmel, It might be reasonably quesheld hands, and confessed to tioned, yet it must be denied. each other as many sins as they Within the walls of the friars had time to remember. Can of Mount Carmel were two unGrande went unarmed about easy spirits. Fra Sulpicio, the his own city, Bevilacqua un- fat prior, was extended face barred his door, Giusti married downwards before the high his mistress, the bishop said his altar; Fra Battista, the eloprayers. The cripples at the quent preacher, chewed his church doors had no need to thumb in his cell. The pittanwhine. As for the tavern of ciar, on the other hand, was of the Golden Fish, it smelt of the common mind. lavender and musk and berga- ambling down the Via Leoni mot the day through. At one with Brother Patricio of the time there were eight litters Capuchinson

arm and with their bearers, eleven stal- Brother Martino of the Dominilions, trapped and emblazoned, cans on the other, singing “In held by eleven grooms in livery, Exitu Israel ” like a choir-boy.

ona

He was

one

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »