The Maltese stood with folded arms, closely regarding George Delme.
George leant against a pillar, with one knee bent. Over it was stretched the corpse of a girl, with the face horribly decomposed. The dull and flagging winds of the vault moved her dank and matted hair.
"Acme," said he, as he parted the dry hair from the blackened brow, "do but speak to your own George! Be not angry with me, dearest!" He held the disgusting object to his lips, and lavished endearments on the putrid corpse.
Delme staggered—and Thompson supported him—as he gasped for breath in the extremity of his agony. At this moment his eye caught the face of the Maltese. He had advanced towards George—his arms were still folded—his eyes were sparkling with joy—and his features wore the malignant expression of gratified revenge. Sir Henry sprang to his feet and rushed forward.
"George! my brother! my brother!"
The maniac raised his pallid brow—his eye flashed consciousness—the blue veins in his forehead swelled almost to bursting—he tossed his arms wildly—and sunk powerless on the corpses around—his convulsive shrieks re-echoing in that lonely vault. Thompson seized the Maltese, and making him unlock the door, bore the brothers into the open air; for Henry, at the time, was as much overpowered as George himself.
A clear solution to that curious scene was never given, for George could not give the clue to his train of mental aberration.
With regard to his companion's share in the transaction, the man was closely questioned, and other means of information resorted to, but the only facts elicited were these:
His son had been executed some years before for a desperate attempt to assassinate a British soldier, with whom he had had an altercation during the carnival.
The man himself said, that he had no recollection of ever having seen George before, but that he certainly did remember some officers questioning him on two occasions somewhat minutely as to his mode of life.
This part of his story was confirmed by another officer of the regiment, who remembered George and Delancey being with him on one occasion, when the latter had taken much interest in the questioning of this man. The Maltese declared, that on the night in question he was taken entirely by surprise—that George entered the room abruptly—offered him money to be allowed to accompany him to the vault—and told him that he had just placed a young lady there whom he wished to see.
Colonel Vavasour, who took some trouble in arriving at the truth, was satisfied that the man was well aware of George's insanity, but that he felt too happy in being able to wreak an ignoble revenge on a British officer.
"The child of love, though born in bitterness, And nurtured in convulsion."
For many days, George Delme lay on his couch unconscious and immoveable. If his eye looked calm, it was the tranquillity of apathetic ignorance, the fixedness of idiotcy. He spoke if he was addressed, but recognised no one, and his answers were not to the purpose. He took his food, and would then turn on his side, and close his eyes as if in sleep. In vain did Acme watch over him—in vain did her tears bedew his couch—in vain did Delme take his hand, and endeavour to draw his attention to passing objects.
George had never been so long without a lucid interval. The surgeon's voice grew less cheering every day, as he saw the little amendment in his patient, and remarked that the pulse was gradually sinking. Colonel Vavasour never allowed a day to elapse without visiting the invalid; and in the regiment, his illness excited great commiseration, and drew forth many expressions of kindness.
"Oh God! oh God!" said Delme, "he must not sink thus. Just as I am with him—just as—oh, poor Emily! what will she feel? Can nothing he done, Mr. Graham?"
"Nothing! Sir: we must now put our whole trust in an all-seeing Providence. My skill can neither foresee nor hasten the result."
One soft summer's evening, when the wind blew in the scent of flowers from the opposite gardens—and the ceaseless hum of the insects—those twilight revellers—sounded happily on the ear, Acme started from the couch as a thought crossed her.
"We have never tried music," said she, "I have been too unhappy to think of it."
Her tears fell fast on the guitar, as she tuned its strings. She sung a plaintive Greek air. It was the first George ever heard her sing, and was the favourite. He heard it, when watching; lover-like beneath her balcony during the first vernal days of their attachment. The song was gone through sadly, and without hope. George's face was from her, and she laid down the guitar, weary of life.
George gently turned his head. His eyes wore a subdued melancholy expression, bespeaking consciousness. Down his cheek one big drop was trickling.
"Acme!" said he, "dearest Acme!"
Delme, who had left the room, was recalled by the hysterical sobs of the poor girl, as she fell back on the chair, her hands clasped in joyful gratitude.
The surgeon, who had immediately been sent for, ordered that George should converse as little as possible.
What he did say was rational. What a solace was that to Henry and Acme! The invalid too appeared well aware of his previous illness, although he alluded to it but seldom. To those about him, his manner was femininely soft, as he whispered his thanks, and sense of their kindness.
Immediately after the horrible scene he had witnessed, Sir Henry's mind had been made up, as to the line of conduct he ought to pursue. The affectionate solicitude of the young Greek, during George's illness, gave him no reason to regret his determination.
"Now," said Mr. Graham, one day as George was rapidly recovering, "now, Sir Henry, I would recommend you to break all you have to say to George. For God's sake, let them be married; and although, mark me! I by no means assert that it will quite re-establish George's health, yet I think such a measure may effectually do so, and at all events will calm him for the present; which, after all, is the great object we have in view."
The same day, Delme went to his brother's bed-side. "George," said he, "let me take the present opportunity of Acme's absence, to tell you what I had only deferred till you were somewhat stronger. She is a good girl, George, a very good girl. I wish she had been English—it would have been better!—but this we cannot help. You must marry her, George! I will be a kind brother-in-law, and Emily shall love her for your sake."
The invalid sat up in his bed—his eyes swam in tears. He twice essayed to speak, ere he could express his gratitude.
"Thank you! a thousand times thank you! my kind brother! Even you cannot tell the weight of suffering, you have this day taken from my mind. My conduct towards Acme has been bowing me to the earth; and yet I feared your consent would never be obtained. I feared that coldness from you and Emily would have met her; and that I should have had but her smile to comfort me for the loss of what I so value. God bless you for this!"
Delme was much affected.
To complete his good work, he waited till Acme had returned from a visit she had just made to her relations; and taking her aside, told her his wishes, and detailed his late conversation with George.
"Never! never!" said the young Greek, "I am too happy as I am. I have heard you all make better lovers than husbands. I cannot be happier! No! no! I will never consent to it."
All remonstrances were fruitless—no arguments could affect her—no entreaties persuade.
Delme, quite perplexed at finding such a difficulty, where he had so little expected to find one,—pitying her simplicity, but admiring her disinterestedness,—went to George, and told him Acme's objections.
"I feared it," said his brother, "but perhaps I may induce her to think differently. Were I to take advantage of her unsophisticated feelings, and want of knowledge of the world, I should indeed be a villain."
Acme was sent for, and came weeping in—took Georg's hand—and gazed earnestly in his face as he addressed her.
"You must change your mind, dearest," said he. And he told her of the world's opinion—the contumely she might have to endure—the slights to which she would be subjected. Still she heeded not.
"Why mention these things?" said she. "Who would insult me, were you near? or if they did, should I regard them while you were kind?"
And her lover's words took a loftier tone; and he spoke of religion, and of the duties it imposes; of the feelings of his countrywomen; and the all-seeing eye of their God. Still the fond girl wept bitterly, but spoke not.
"My own Acme! consider my health too, dearest! Were you now to consent, I might never again be ill. It would be cruelty to me to refuse. Say you consent for my sake, sweet!"
"For your sake, then!" said Acme, as she twined her snowy arms round his neck, "for your sake, Giorgio, I do so! But oh! when I am yours for ever by that tie; when—if this be possible—our present raptures are less fervent—our mutual affections less devoted—do not, dearest George—do not, I implore you—treat me with coldness. It would break my heart, indeed it would."
They were married according to the rites of both the Protestant and Catholic Church. Few were present. George had been lifted to the sofa, and sat up during the ceremony; and although his features were pale and emaciated, they brightened with internal satisfaction, as he heard those words pronounced, which made his love a legitimate one. Acme was silent and thoughtful; and tears quenched the fire of her usually sparkling eye. George Delme's recovery from this date became more rapid.
He was able to resume his wonted exercise—his step faltered less—his eye became clearer. His convalescence was so decided, that the surgeon recommended his at once travelling, and for the present relinquishing the army.
"Perhaps the excessive heat may not be beneficial. I would, if possible, get him to Switzerland for the summer months. I will enquire what outward-bound vessels there are. If there is one for Leghorn, so much the better. But the sooner he tries change of scene, the more advantageous it is likely to be; and after all, the climate is but a secondary consideration."
An American vessel bound to Palermo, happened to be the only one in the harbour, whose destination would serve their purpose; and determined not to postpone George's removal, Sir Henry at once engaged its cabin. Colonel Vavasour obtained George leave for the present, and promised to arrange as to his exchanging from full pay. He likewise enabled him, which George felt as a great boon, to take his old and attached servant with him; with the promise that he would use all his interest to have the man's discharge forwarded him, before the expiration of his leave.
"He may be useful to you, my dear boy, if you get ill again, which God forbid! He is an old soldier, and a good man—well deserving the indulgence. And remember! if you should be better, and feel a returning penchant for the red coat, write to me—we will do our best to work an exchange for you."
"Farewell! a word that must be, and hath been, A sound that makes us linger, yet farewell."
The day of departure at length arrived. Thompson had been busy the greater part of the night in getting every thing ready for the voyage. It was a lovely morning, and the wind, although light, was propitious.
Acme had parted with her relations and friends the day previous.
She was henceforward to share the destiny of one, who was to supply the place of both to her. Attached to them as she was, and grateful as she felt for their kindness in the hour of need, there was nothing in that parting to throw a permanent gloom on the hopes of the youthful bride.
Her love, and the feelings it engendered, were of that confiding nature, that she could have followed George anywhere, and been happy still. As it was, her lot seemed cast "in pleasant places," and no foreboding of evil, except indeed for George, ever marred the waking dreams of Acme. Her simple heart had already learnt, to look up with respect and affection to Sir Henry, and yearned with fond longing for the period when she should return a sister's love.
She had that lively talent too, which, miniatured as it was, allowed of her fully appreciating the superiority of the English she had lately met, to the general run of those with whom she had hitherto associated. An English home had none but charms for her.
"Come Acme," said George, as he assisted her in adjusting the first bonnet that had ever confined her wavy curls, "wish good bye to your ring-dove, dear! Mrs. Graham will take good care of it; and Thompson has just finished the packing."
The boat which was to convey them to the vessel was so near, that they had agreed to walk down to the place of embarkation.
As George left the room, a tall figure presented itself on the staircase.
"Ah, Clark!" said George, "my good fellow! I am very sorry to part with you. I do not know what I shall do without my pay serjeant!" and he held out his hand.
It was grasped gratefully.
"Thank you, your honour!"
The old soldier stood erect, and put his hand to his cap.
"God bless you! Mr. Delme. I have served under many officers, but never under a kinder. May the Almighty bless you, Sir, in all your wanderings."
The soldier turned away—one large drop burst o'er the lid, and trickled down his sun-burnt cheek.
With the back of his hand, he brushed it off indignantly.
His converse may be rough—his manner rude—his hand ever ready for quarrel;—but, believe us! ye who deem the soldier beneath his fellow-men,—that the life of change—of chance—of hardship—and of danger—which is his, freezes not the kindlier emotions of the soul, if it sweep away its sicklier refinements. Beneath the red vest, beat hearts as warm and true, as ever throbbed beneath operative apron, or swelled under softest robe of ermine.
George was moved by the man's evidently sincere grief. He reached the bottom of the stairs. The company to which he belonged was drawn up in the court yard.
In front of it, the four tallest men supported a chair, and almost before George Delme was aware of their purpose, bore him to it, and lifted him on their shoulders, amidst the huzzas of their comrades. The band, too, which had voluntarily attended, now struck up the march which George delighted to hear; and, followed by his company, he was carried triumphantly towards the mole.
George's heart was full.
Sir Henry felt deeply interested in the scene; and poor Acme leant on his arm, and wept with joy.
Yes! there are moments in life, and this was one, when the approval of our inferiors awakens a degree of pride and mental satisfaction, that no panegyric of our superiors, no expressions of esteem from our equals, could have ever called forth. Such approval meets us, as the spontaneous effusion of hearts that have looked up to ours, and have not been deceived.
This pride was it that flushed George's cheek, and illumed with brightness his swimming eye. He was thus carried till he arrived at the spot where his boat should have been. It was already, with Thompson and their baggage, half way towards the vessel. In its place was the regimental gig, manned by George's best friends. Its steersman was Colonel Vavasour, drest in the fanciful aquatic costume his regiment had adopted.
Trifling as this may appear, this act of his Colonel, seemed to George the very highest compliment that had ever been paid him.
George Delme turned to his company, and with choking voice thanked them for this last mark of attention. We are very certain that a shake of the hand from a prince, would not have delighted him as much, as did the hearty farewell greeting of his rough comrades.
Even Acme blushingly went up to the chair-supporters, and, with a winning smile, extended her small hand. Vavasour assisted her into the gig, and it was with a bounding elasticity of spirit, to which he had long been a stranger, that George followed. As the boat cut through the water, they were greeted with a last and deafening huzza.
In a short time they were alongside the vessel. The captain was pacing the deck, and marking the signs of the wind, with the keen eye of the sailor. A chair was lowered for Acme. She shook hands with the rowers. George parted from them as if they had been brothers, and from Colonel Vavasour last of all.
"Take care of yourself, my dear boy," said the latter, "do not forget to write us; we shall all be anxious to know how you have stood the voyage."
As the gig once more shot its way homewards, and many a friendly handkerchief waved its adieu, George felt, that sad as the parting was, he should have felt it more bitterly if they had loved him less.
To divert their minds from thoughts of a melancholy nature, Sir Henry, as the boat made a turn of the land, and was no longer visible, proposed exploring the cabin. This they found small, but cleanly. Some hampers of fruit, and a quantity of ice, exhibited agreable proofs of the attention of Acme's relations. We may, by the way, observe, that rarely does the sense of the palate assert its supremacy with greater force than on board-ship. There will the thought—much more the reality—of a mellow pine—or juicy pomegranate—cause the mouth to water for the best part of a long summer's day. On their ascending the deck, the captain approached Sir Henry.
"No offence! Sir; but I guess the wind is fair. If you want nothing ashore, we will off, Sir, now! if you please."
How disagreable is the act of leaving harbour in a merchant ship!
Even sailors dislike it, and growl between their teeth, like captive bears. The chains of the anchor clank gratingly on the ear. The very chorus of the seamen smacks of the land, and wants the rich and free tone that characterises it in mid-sea. Hoarse are the mandates of the boat-swain! his whistle painfully shrill! The captain walks the deck thoughtfully, and frowningly ruminates on his bill of lading—or on some over-charge in the dock duties—or, it may be, on his dispute on shore with a part owner of the vessel.
And anon, he shakes off these thoughts, and looks on the weather-side—then upwards at the the masts—and, as he notes the proceedings, his orders are delivered fiercely, and his passions seem ungovernable.
The vessel, too, seems to share the general feeling—is loath to leave the port.
She unsteadily answers the call of her canvas—her rigging creaks—and her strong sides groan—as she begins lazily and slowly to make her way.
Glad to turn their attention to anything rather than the scene around, George began conversing on the effect the attentions of his company and brother officers had had on him.
"Their kindness," said George, "was wholly unexpected by me, and I felt it very deeply. An hour before, I fancied that Acme and my own family monopolised every sympathy I possessed. But, thank God! the heart has many hidden channels through which kindness may steal, and infuse its genial balm."
"I felt it, too, George!" said his brother, "and was anxious as to the effect the scene might have on you. I am glad it was unexpected. We are sometimes better enabled to enact our parts improvising them, than when we have schooled ourselves, and braced all our energies to the one particular purpose.
"Acme, how did you like the way George's men behaved?"
"It made me weep with joy," replied the young Greek, "for I love all who love my Giorgio."
"Adieu! the joys of La Valette."
* * * * *
"No more! no more! No! never more on me The freshness of the heart shall fall like dew."
* * * * *
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder, Isle of Beauty! fare thee well."
Malta! the snowy sail shivers in the wind—the waves, chafed by our intruding keel, are proudly foaming—sea birds soar, screaming their farewell aloft—as we wave our hand to thee for ever! What is our feeling, as we see thee diminish hourly?
Regret! unfeigned regret!
Albeit we speed to our native land, on the wing of a bark as fleet as ever—but it matters not—thou hast seen the best of our days.
Visions conjured up by thee, have the unusual power, to banish anticipations of Almack's glories, and of home flirtations.
We are recalling balls enjoyed in thee, loved island! the valse spun round with the darling fleet-footed Maltese, who during its pauses leant back on our arm, against which her spangled zone throbbed, from the pulsations of her heart.
Dreams of turtle and of grand master—the fish, not the official—and of consecutive iced champagne, mock our sight! But more—yes! far more than all, are we reminded of thy abode—thou dispenser of cheering liquids! thou promoter of convivial happiness! meek Saverio! How swiftly glided the mirth-loving nights as—the enchanting strains of the prima donna hushed—we adjourned to thy ever to be praised bottegua!
With what precision didst thou there mete out the many varied ingredients—the exact relative proportions—which can alone embody our conception of the nectar of the Gods, punch a la Romaine!
Whose cigars ever equalled thine, thou prince of Ganymedes? and when were cigars more justly appreciated, than as our puffs kept time with the trolling ditty, resounding through the walls of thy domain?
The luxury of those days!
Then would Sol come peeping in upon us; as unwelcome and unlooked-for a visitant, as to the enamoured Juliet, when she sighing told her lover that
"'Twas but a meteor that the sun exhaled, To be to him that night a torch-bearer, And light him on his way to Mantua."
Then, with head dizzy from its gladness, with heart unduly elate, has the Strada Teatro seen us, imperiously calling for the submissive caleche. Arrived in our chamber, how gravely did we close its shutters! With what a feeling of satisfied enjoyment, did we court the downy freshness of the snow-white sheet!
Sweet and deep were our slumbers—for youth's spell was upon us, and our fifth lustre had not yet heralded us to serious thoughts and anxious cares.
Awoke by the officious valet, and remorseless friend, deemest though our debauch was felt? No! an effervescent draught of soda calmed us; we ate a blood orange, and smoked a cigar!
We often hear Malta abused. Byron is the stale authority; and every snub-nosed cynic turns up his prominent organ, and talks of "sirocco, sun, and sweat." Byron disliked it—he had cause. He was there at a bad season, and was suffering from an attack of bile. We know of no place abroad, where the English eye will meet with so little to offend it, and so much to please and impress.
There is such a blending together of European, Asiatic, and African customs; there is such a variety in the costumes one meets; there is such grandeur in their palaces—such glory in their annals; such novelty in their manners and habits; such devotion in their religious observances; such simplicity and yet such beauty, in the dress of the women; and their wearers possess such fascinations; that we defy the most fastidious of critics, who has really resided there, to deny to Malta many of those attributes, with which he would invest that place, on whose beauty and agremens, he may prefer of all others to descant.
With the commonplace observer, its superb harbour, studded with gilded boats; its powerful fortifications, where art towers over nature, and where the eye looks up a rock, and catches a bristling battery; the glare of its scenery, with no foliage to cover the white stone;—all these, together with the different way in which the minutiae of life are transacted,—will call forth his attention, and demand his notice.
Art thou a poet, or a fancied warrior? What scene has been more replete with noble exploits? In whose breasts did the flame of chivalry burn brighter, than in those of the knights of St. John of Jerusalem? Not a name meets thee, that has not belonged to a hero! If thou grievest to find all dissimilar but the name; yet mayest thou still muse, contemplative, over the tomb and ashes of him, whom thy mind has shadowed forth, as a noble light in a more romantic age.
Art thou a moralist, a thinking Christian? Thou mayest there trace—and the pursuit shall profit thee—the steps of the sainted apostle; he who was so signally called forth, to hear witness to the truth of ONE, whom he had erst reviled. Yon cordelier will show you the bay, where his vessel took refuge in its distress; and will tell you, that yon jagged rock first gave its dangerous welcome, to the bark of his patron saint.
Lovest thou music? hast loved? or been beloved? or both perchance?
Steal forth when night holds her starry court, and the guitars around are tinkling, as more than one rich voice deplores his mistress's cruelty, in hopes she may now relent. But see! there is one, who puts in requisition neither music's spell, nor flattery's lay.
See! he approaches. His cloak wrapped around him, he cautiously treads the tranquil street.
He gains the portico—the signal is given. Who but an expectant maiden could hear one so slight?
Hark! a sound! cautiously the lattice opens—above him blushes the fair one! How brightly her dark eye flashes! how silver soft the tones of her voice!
The stern father—the querulous mother—the tricked duenna—all—all are slumbering. She leans forward, and her ear drinks in his honied words; as her head is supported by her snowy arm.
And now he whispers more passionately. She answers not, but hides her face in her hands. She starts! she throws back her hair from her brow; she waves a white fazzolet, and is gone.
Not thus flies the lover. He crouches beneath the Ionic portico, his figure hardly discernible. A bolt—the last bolt is withdrawn. A form is dimly seen within—retiring, timid, repentant.
Sweet the task to calm that throbbing heart, or teach it to throb no more with fear!
But let him of melancholy mood, wander to the deserted village. A more fearful calamity has befallen it, than ever attended the soft shades, of the one conjured up by the poet.
Here the demon Plague, with baneful wing, and pestilential influence, tarried for many days; till not one—no! not one soul of that village train—that did not join his bygone fathers.
Stray along its grass-grown roofless tenements! where your echo alone breaks the silence, as it startles from its resting-place the slumbering owl—for who would dwell in abodes so marked for destruction? Stray there! think of the gentle contadina diffusing happiness around her! then think of her as she supports the youth she loves—as she clasps his faint form—and drinks in a poisonous contagion from his pallid lip.
Think of her as the disease seizes on its new victim—still attempting to prop up his head—to reach the cup, that may relieve his maddening thirst,—until, giddy and overpowered, she sinks at last; but—beside him!
Think of their dying together! that at least is a solace.
Do not the scene and the thought draw a tear?
If your eye be dry, come—come away—your step should not sound there!
The wind continued fair during the whole of the first day. Every trace of Valletta was soon lost; and the good barque Boston swept by the rocky coast of the island, where few human habitations meet the eye, swiftly and cheerily. The sea birds sported round the tall masts—the canvas bulged out bravely—the Captain forgot his shore griefs, and commenced a colloquy with Sir Henry. The sailors sung in chorus; whilst poor Acme,—we grieve to confess the fact, for never was a Mediterranean sea looked down on by brighter sun, or more cloudless sky,—retired to her cabin, supported by George, a prey to that unsentimental malady, sea sickness. The following day, the wind shifted some points; and the Captain judged it most prudent to forego his original intention of steering direct for Palermo; but to take advantage of the breeze, and adopt the passage through the Faro of Messina.
Delme felt glad of this change; for Scylla and Charybdis to an Englishman, are as familiar as Whittington and his cat. For the first two days Acme continued unwell; and George, who already appeared improved by the sea air, never left her side.
Delme had therefore a dull time of it; which he strove to enliven by conversing, one after the other, with the Captain and his two mates. From all of them, he learnt something; but from all he turned away, as they commenced discussing the comparative merits of the United States, and the old country; a subject he had neither the wish to enter on, nor fortitude to prosecute. Not daunted, he attacked mate the third; and was led to infer better things, as the young gentleman commenced expatiating on the "purple sky," and "dark blue sea." This hope did not last long; for this lover of nature turned round to Sir Henry, and asked him in a nasal twang, if he preferred Cooper's or Mr. Scott's novels? Delme was not naturally a rude man, but as he turned away, he hummed something very like Yankee-doodle.
And then the moon got up; and Sir Henry felt lonely and sentimental. He leant over the vessel's side, and watched it pictured on the ocean, and quivering as the transient billow swept onwards. And he thought of home, and Emily. He thought of his brother, his heir,—if he died, the only male to inherit the ancient honours of his house,—married to a stranger, and—but Acme was too sweet a being, not to have already enlisted all his sympathies with her. And as if all these thoughts, like rays converged in a burning glass, did but tend to one object, the image of Julia Vernon suddenly rose before him.
He saw her beautiful as ever—gentleness in her eye—fascination in her smile!
And the air got cold—and he went to bed.
A Dream and a Ghost Story.
"Touching this eye-creation; What is it to surprise us? Here we are Engendered out of nothing cognisable— If this were not a wonder, nothing is; If this be wonderful, then all is so. Man's grosser attributes can generate What is not, and has never been at all; What should forbid his fancy to restore A being pass'd away? The wonder lies In the mind merely of the wondering man."
It was the fourth evening of the voyage. Hardly a breath fanned the sails, as the vessel slowly glided between the Calabrian and Sicilian coasts, approaching quite close to the former.
The party, seated on chairs placed on the deck, gazed in a spirit of placid enjoyment on one of those scenes, which the enthusiastic traveller often recals, as in his native clime, he pines for foreign lands, and for novel impressions. The sun was setting over the purple peaks of the Calabrian mountains, smiling in sunny gladness on deep ravines, whose echoes few human feet now woke, save those of simple peasant, or lawless bandit. Where the orb of day held its declining course, the sky wore a hue of burnished gold; its rich tint alone varied, by one fleecy violet cloud, whose outline of rounded beauty, was marked by a clear cincture of white,
On their right, beneath the mountain, lay the little village of Capo del Marte, a perfect specimen of Italian scenery.
Its sandy beach, against which the tide beat in dalliance—the chafed spray catching and reflecting the glories of the setting sun—ran smoothly up a slope of some thirty yards; beyond which, the orange trees, in their greenest foliage, chequered with their shade the white cottages scattered above them.
The busy hum of the fishermen on the coast—the splash of the casting net—and the drip of the oar—were appropriate accompaniments to the simple scene.
On the Sicilian side, a different view wooed attention. There, old Etna upreared his encumbered head, around which the smoke clung in dense majesty; and—not contemptible rivals of the declining deity—the moon's silvery crescent, and the evening star's quiet splendour, were bedecking the cloudless blue of the firmament.
Acme gazed enraptured on the scene—her long tresses hanging back on the chair, across which one hand was languidly thrown.
"Giorgio," said she, "do you see this beautiful bird close to the ship—swimming so steadily—its snowy plumage apparently unwet from its contact with the wave? To what can you compare it?"
"That bright-eyed gull, love!" replied he, "riding on the water as if all regardless that he is on the wide—wide sea—whose billows may so soon be lashed up to madness;—where may I find a resemblance more close, than my Acme's simplicity, which guides her through a troubled world, unknowing its treacheries, and happily ignorant of its dangers and its woes?"
"Ah!" said the blushing girl, "how poetical you are this evening; will you tell us a story, Giorgio?"
"I will tell you one," said Delme, interrupting her. "Do you recollect old Featherstone, who had been in the civil service in India, and who lived so near Delme Park, George?"
"Perfectly," said his brother, "I remember I used to think him mad, because he always looked so melancholy, and used to send us word in the morning when he contemplated a visit; in order that all cats might be kept out of his way."
"The very man! I am glad you know so much about him, for it is on this subject I was going to speak. I cannot tell you where he picked up the idea originally—but I believe in a dream—that a cat would occasion his death.
"Well! he was at Ascot one year, when a gipsy woman came up to him on the course—told him his fortune—and, to his utter astonishment, warned him to beware of the wild cat.
"From that moment, I understand his habits changed. From being a tolerably cheerful companion, he became a wretched hypochondriac; all his energies being directed to the avoiding a contact with any of the feline race.
"Featherstone, two or three years ago, embarked in one of the mining speculations—lost great part of his fortune—and found it necessary to try and retrieve his affairs, by a second voyage to India.
"I heard nothing more of him, till just before leaving England, when my old school-fellow, Lockhart, who went as a cadet to the East, called on me—reminded me of our old whimsical friend—and related his tragic death.
"Lockhart says that one day he and some mutual friends, persuaded Featherstone to accompany them into the interior of the country, to enjoy the diversion of a boar hunt.
"They had had good sport, and were returning homewards, when they suddenly came on a party of natives, headed by the Rajah.
"They were mounted on elephants, and surrounding a jungle, in which, as some sepoys had reported, lay a tiger.
"You know Lockhart's manner—animated and enthusiastic—making one see the scene he is describing.
"I will try and clothe the rest of the story in his own words, although I can hardly hope it will make the same impression on you, that its recital did on me.
"'Well, Sir! we all said we would see the sport—all but Featherstone—who said something about coming on.
"'We were engaged to dine with Sir John M——, who was in that part of the world, on some six-and-eightpenny mission about indigo.
"'The beaters went in, firing and shouting—intending to make him break towards the hunting party.
"'We all drew up on one side, to be in view, but out of the way; Featherstone was next me. He suddenly grasped my arm, and pointed to the jungle, his teeth chattering—his face ashy pale. I turned and saw the tiger!—a splendid beast—certainly!
"'He seemed not to notice us, and stalked on with an innocent yep! yep! like a sick hound's, more than anything else.
"'Suddenly his eye caught us, and flashed fire. At the first view, he crouched to the earth, then came on us, bounding like a tost foot-ball. More magnificent leaps I never beheld! We were struck dumb—but fired—and turned our horses' heads!—all but Featherstone.
"'I shall remember the tones of his voice to my dying hour.
"'"The cat! Lockhart! the cat!"
"'I don't know whether his horse refused the spur—or whether the rider's nerve was gone: but neither appeared to make an effort, till the animal was close on them.
"'The horse gave one plunge—and had hardly recovered his feet, when down went horse and rider.
"'Featherstone gave a piercing scream! Some of the sepoys were by this time up—and fired.
"'The tiger trailed off—the blood spouting down his striped side.
"'We came up—it was all over!
"'The first stroke of that terrific paw had laid the unfortunate man's scull bare. On his shoulder, were the marks of the animal's teeth.
"'The horse was still writhing in agony. One of my pistols relieved him.
"'We bore Featherstone to the nearest cantonment, and buried him there.'"
"How terrible!" said Acme, as she gave a slight shudder. "Englishmen are generally more sceptical on these points than we are; and disbelieve supernatural appearances, which we are accustomed to think are not unfrequent. I could tell you many stories, which, in my native island, were believed by our enemies the Turks, as well as by ourselves: but if you would like it, I will tell you a circumstance that occurred to myself, the reality of which I dare not doubt.
"You have often, Giorgio! heard me revert with pain, to the horrible scene which took place, on the recapture of our little isle by the infidel Turks; when my family were massacred, and only poor Acme left to tell their tale."
Here the young bride put her handkerchief to her face, and wept bitterly. George put his arm round her and soothed her. She continued her narrative.
"You know my escape, and how I was sent to a kinsman, who had promised to have me sent to my kind friends in Malta. He was a Corfuote, and it was in Corfu I remained for a long—a very long time—and there first met my dear friend, Zoee Scalvo-Forressi. I was then very young. We lived in the Campagna—about four miles from each other.
"We had both our Greek ponies, and used often to pass the evenings together; and at length knew our road so well, that often it was night before we parted.
"One night, we had been singing together at her house, and it was later than usual when I cantered home.
"About four months had elapsed previous to my landing in Corfu, and I had been eight months there; although at the time, I paid little attention to these circumstances.
"My road lay through an olive grove. I had arrived in its centre, where a small knoll stretched away on my right; on whose summit, was a white Greek monastery, backed by some dark cypress trees.
"The moon was shining brightly—dancing on the silver side of the olive trees—and illuminating the green sward.
"This was smooth and verdant.
"My spirits were more than usually buoyant, when suddenly my pony stopped.
"I could not conceive the reason.
"I looked before me. Immediately in front of me, was the shattered trunk of an old olive tree—it had been blasted by lightning—and sitting quietly at its foot—I saw my own mother, Giorgio! as clearly as I see you now. I could not be mistaken. She wore the same embroidered vest and Albanian shawl, as when I had last seen her.
"She conversed with me calmly for many minutes, and—which surprised me much at the time—I felt no dread, and asked her and answered many questions.
"She told me I should die early, in a foreign land; and many—many more things, which I dare not repeat; for I cannot contemplate the possibility of their being true.
"At the time, I told you I felt composed: without any sense of alarm or surprise. For many days afterwards, however, I never left my bed of sickness.
"I told my kinsman all the circumstances, and he discovered beyond a doubt, that it was on that very day, the twelve-month previous, that my poor mother had been murdered."
Sir Henry and George tried to smile at Acme's story, and account for what she had seen;—but her manner was so impressive, and her ingenious reasonings—delivered in the most earnest tone—seemed to confute so entirely all their speculations, that they were at length content to deem it "wondrous strange."
In the best and wisest of us, there is such a tendency to believe in a mysterious link, connecting the living and the departed; that a story of this nature, in exciting our feelings, serves to paralyse our reasoning faculties, and leaves us half converts, to the doctrines that we faintly combat.
They looked forth again on the scene. The mountains of Calabria were frowning on them. The village was far behind—and not a straggling light marked its situation.
Numberless stars were reflected on the glassy water, whose serenity was no longer ruffled by wing of sea bird, which long ere now had returned to its "wave girded nest."
Our party and the watch were the only lingerers on deck.
George wrapped Acme's silk cloak around her, and then carefully assisted her in her descent to the cabin.
The Mad House.
"And see the mind's convulsion leave it weak."
The land breeze continued to freshen, and the first dawn of morning saw our party on deck, scanning with near view, the opposite coasts of Sicily and Italy, as their vessel glided through the Faro of Messina.
Some pilot boats,—how unlike those which greet the homeward-bound voyager, as he first hails Britain's chalky cliffs—crowded around the vessel, offering their services to guide it through the strait.
Avarice—one incentive to language—had endowed these Sicilian mariners with a competent knowledge of English, which they dealt out vociferously.
As the Captain made his selection, the rejected candidates failed not to use that familiar English salam; half the gusto of which is lost, when used by foreign lip.
On the Calabrian coast, the sea-port town of Reggio wore an unusual air of bustle and animation.
It was a festa day there; and groups of peasants, in many-coloured costumes, paced up and down the mole; emitting that joyous hum, which is the never-failing concomitant of a happy crowd. Passing through the Faro, the vessel's course lay by the northern coast of Sicily. The current and wind were alike favourable, as it swept on by Melazzo and Lascari.
Etna, towering over the lesser mountains, became once more visible; its summit buried in the clouds of heaven.
On the right, a luminous crimson ring revealed Stromboli, whose fitful volcano was more than usually active.
The following day our party arrived at Palermo. So pleasurable had been their voyage, that it was with a feeling akin to regret, that they heard the rumbling chains of the anchor, rush through the hawse-hole, as their vessel took her station in the bay.
After going through those wearisome forms, which a foreign sea-port exacts; and which appear purposely intended, to temper the rapture of the sea-worn voyager, as he congratulates himself on once more treading terra firma; our party found themselves the inmates of the English hotel; and spent the remainder of the day in engaging a cicerone, and in discussing plans for the morrow.
The morrow came—sunny and cloudless—and the cicerone bowed to the ground, as he opened the door of the commodious fiacre.
"Where shall I drive to, Sir?"
"What were our plans, George?" said Sir Henry.
"I think," replied George, "that we only formed one plan to change it for another. Let the cicerone decide for us."
He, nothing loath, accepted the charge; and taking his station on the box of the carriage, directed the driver.
The carriage first stopped before a large stone building. The bell was rung—a veteran porter presented himself—and our party entered the court yard.
"What place is this?" said Delme.
"This," rejoined his guide, with the true cicerone fluency, "is the famous lunatic asylum, instituted by the illustrious Baron Pisani. This, gentlemen, is the Baron!"
Here a benevolent-looking little man with a large nose, took off his hat.
"So much approved of was his beneficent design, that our noble King, and our paternal Government, have not only adopted it; but have graciously permitted the Baron, to continue to preside over that institution, which he so happily commenced, and which he so refulgently adorns."
During this announcement, the Baron's face flushed with a simple, but honest pride.
These praises did not to him appear exaggerated; for his intentions had been of the purest, and in this institution was his whole soul wrapt up. Acme became somewhat pale, as she heard where they were, and looked nervously at George; who could not forbear smiling, as he begged they would be under no apprehensions.
"Yes! gentlemen," said the Baron, "circumstances in early life made me regard mental disease as the most fearful of all. I observed its victims struggling between reason and insanity; goaded on by the ignorance of empirics, and the harsh treatment of those about them, until light fled the tortured brain, and madness directed its every impulse. You, gentlemen, are English travellers, I perceive! In your happy land, where generosity and wealth go hand in hand, there are, I doubt not, many humane institutions, where those, who—bowed down by misfortunes, or preyed on by disease—have lost the power to take care of themselves, may find a home, where they may be anxiously tended, and carefully provided for.
"Here we knew not of such things.
"I have said, gentlemen, that chance made me feel a deep interest in these unfortunates. I sunk the greater part of my fortune, in constructing this mansion, trusting that the subscriptions of individuals, would enable me to prosecute the good work.
"In this I was disappointed; but our worthy Viceroy, who took an interest in my plans, laid the matter before the Government, which—as Signer Guiseppe observes—has not only undertaken to support my asylum, but also permits me to preside over the establishment. That, gentlemen, is my apartment, with the mignionette boxes in front, and without iron bars in the window; though indeed these very bars are painted, at my suggestion, such a delicate green, that you might not have been aware that they were such.
"This is our first chamber—cheerful and snug. Here are the patients first brought. We indulge them in all their caprices, until we are enabled to decide with certainty, on the fantasy the brain has conjured up. From this room, we take them to the adjacent bed-room, where we administer such remedies as we think the best fitted to restore reason.
"If these fail, we apportion the patient a cell, and consider the case as beyond our immediate relief. We cure, on an average, two-thirds of the cases forwarded to us; and there have been instances of the mind's recovering its tone, after a confinement of some years."
"How many inmates have you in the asylum at present?" said Acme.
"One hundred and thirty-six, eighty-six of whom are males. These are our baths, to which they are daily taken; this the refectory; this the parlatorio, where they see their friends; and now, if the lady is not afraid, we will descend to the court yard, and see my charges."
"There is no fear?" said George.
"Not in the least. Our punishment is so formidable, that few will incur it by being refractory."
"What! then you are obliged to punish them?" said Acme, with a shudder.
"Sometimes, but not often. I will show you what our punishment consists in. You see this room without furniture! Observe the walls and floor; and even the door as it closes. All these are carefully stuffed; and if you walk across the room, there is no sound.
"We cautiously search violent lunatics; who are then dressed in a plain flannel suit, and left alone. It is seldom we have occasion to retain them longer than twenty-four hours. They soon find they cannot injure themselves; their most violent efforts cannot elicit a sound. Their minds become calmed; and when released, they are perfectly quiet, and generally inclined to melancholy."
They descended to the court yard, set apart for the men. Its inmates were pacing it hurriedly; some jabbering to themselves; others with groups round them, to whom they addressed some quickly delivered jargon. With one or two exceptions, all noticed the entrance of the strangers; and some of them bowed to them, with mock gravity. One man, who wore an old cocked hat with a shabby feather, tapped Sir Henry on the shoulder.
"Vous me reconnaissez—Napoleon! votre Empereur!"
He wheeled round, and called for his Mamelukes.
The next moment, a young and interesting looking person came forward, the tears standing in his, eyes, and extended his hand to Acme.
"Give me yours," said he, "as a great favour. I was a painter once in Naples—and I went to Rome—and I loved Gianetta Cantieri!"
A more ludicrous incident now occurred. At and since their entrance, our party had heard what seemed the continued bark of a dog. A man on all fours came forward from behind a group, and with unmeaning face, and nostril snuffing up the wind, imitated to perfection the deep bay of a mastiff.
"That man's peculiarity," observed the Baron, "is an extraordinary one. He had a cottage near Catania, and had saved some little wealth. His house was one night robbed of all it contained. This misfortune preyed on the man's reason, and he now conceives himself a watch dog. He knows the step of every inmate of the asylum, and only barks at strangers."
From the male court yard, the Baron ushered them to the female, where insanity assumed a yet more melancholy shape.
A pale-faced maniac, with quivering frame, and glaring eye-balls, continued to cry, in a low and piteous tone, "Murder! murder!! murder!!!"
One woman, reclining on the cold pavement, dandled a straw, and called it her sweet child; while another hugged a misshapen block of wood to her bared breast, and deemed it her true love.
A third was on her knees, and at regular intervals, bent down her shrivelled body, and devoured the gravel beneath her.
Acme was happy to leave the scene, and move towards the garden; which was extensive, and beautifully laid out.
As they turned down one of the alleys, they encountered five or six men, drawn up in line, and armed with wooden muskets.
In front stood Napoleon, who, with stentorian voice, gave the word to "present arms!" then dropping his stick, and taking off his hat to Delme, began to converse familiarly with him, as with his friend Emperor Alexander, as to the efficiency of Poniatowski and his Polish lancers.
"Poor fellow!" said the Baron, as they moved on. "Never was insanity more harmless! He was once brigade major to Murat. This is his hour for exercise. Exactly at two, he goes through the scene of Fontainbleau, What will appear to you extraordinary is, that over the five or six men you saw around him, whose madness has been marked by few distinguishing traits, he has gradually assumed a superiority, until they now believe him to be, in reality, the Emperor he so unconsciously personates."
In the garden, which was of considerable size, were placed a number of swings and whirligigs, in full motion and occupancy.
On a stuccoed wall, were represented grotesque figures of animals dancing; opposite to which, one of Terpsichore's votaries, with a paper cap on his head, shaped like a pyramid, was executing agile capers, whose zeal of purpose would have found infinite favour in the eyes of Laporte.
Having explored the garden, Delme accompanied the Baron to a small room, where the sculls of the deceased maniacs were ranged on shelves, with a small biographical note attached to each; and heard with attention, the old man's energetic reasoning, as to these fully demonstrating the truth of Spurzheim's theory.
Acme, meantime, remained on George's arm, talking to a girl of thirteen, who had been selected to conduct them to the carriage.
They entered their names in a book at the lodge, and then, turning to the benevolent director, paid him some well deserved compliments, for which he bowed low and often.
The young girl, who had been conversing most rationally with Acme, moved forward, and made a signal for the carriage to drive up.
She was a fair-haired gentle-looking creature, with quiet eye, and silvery voice. She assisted Acme to step into the carriage, who dropped a piece of silver into her hand, for which she gave a sweet smile and a curtsey.
She stood a moment motionless. Suddenly her eye lighted up—she darted into the carriage, and clapped her hands together joyfully.
"Viva! viva! we shall soon be home at Trapani!"
The tears sprang to the eyes of the young Greek.
Even the driver and cicerone were moved.
Acme took some flowers from her zone—kissed her cheek—and tried to change the current of her thoughts; but it was not till the driver promised he would call again, at the same hour the following day, that she consented with a sigh to relinquish her journey home.
From the Lunatic Asylum, our party adjourned to the Duomo, and beheld the coffin, where the revered body of the Palermitan Saint, attracts many a devout Catholic.
Sweet Rosalia! thy story is a pretty one—thy festa beauteous—the fireworks in thy honour most bright. No wonder the fair Sicilians adore thy memory.
In the cool of the evening, our travellers drove to the Marina; where custom—the crowded assemblage—and the grateful sea breeze—nightly attract the gay inhabitants of Palermo.
The carriages, with their epauletted chasseurs, swept on in giddy succession, and made a scene quite as imposing as is witnessed in most European capitals.
Delme did not think it advisable, to remain too long in the metropolis of Sicily; and the travellers contented themselves, with the sight-seeing of the immediate neighbourhood.
They admired the mosaics of the Chiesa di Monte Reale; and fed the pheasants, at that beautiful royal villa, well styled "the Favourite." They took a boat to witness the tunny fishery; and Sir Henry explored alone the vast catacombs—that city of the dead.
After a few days thus passed—the weather continuing uncommonly fine—they did not hesitate to engage one of the small vessels of the place, to convey them to Naples.
After enjoying their evening drive as usual, they embarked on board the Sparonara, one fine starry night, in order to get the full advantage of the favouring night breeze.
End of the First Volume.
A Love Story
"My thoughts, like swallows, skim the main, And bear my spirit back again Over the earth, and through the air, A wild bird and a wanderer."
A Love Story.
"And be it mine to muse there, mine to glide From day-break when the mountain pales his fire, Yet more and more, and from the mountain top, Till then invisible, a smoke ascends, Solemn and slow."
"Vedi Napoli! e poi muori!"
Memory! beloved memory! to us thou art as hope to other men. The present—solitary, unexciting—where are its charms? The future hath no joys in store for us; and may bereave us of some of the few faint pleasures that still are ours.
What then is left us—old before our time—but to banquet on the past?
Memory! thou art in us, as the basil of the enamoured Florentine. [Footnote 1: See Keats' poem taken from Boccaccio.] Thy blossoms, thy leaves,—green, fresh, and fragrant,—draw their nurture, receive their every colouring, from what was dearest to us on earth. And are they not watered by our tears?
The poet tells us—
"Nessun maggior dolore Che ricordarsi del tempo felice Nella miseria."
But it is not so. Where is he of the tribe of the unfortunate, who would not gladly barter the contemplation of present wretchedness, for the remembrance, clogged as it is by a thousand woes, of a time when joyous visions flitted across life's path?
Yes! though the contrast, the succeeding moment, should cut him to the soul.
"Joy's recollection is no longer joy, Whilst sorrow's memory is a sorrow still."
Ah! there's the rub! yet, better to think it was joy, than gaze unveiled on the cold reality around; than view the wreck—the grievous wreck—a few short years have made.
We care not,—and, alas! to such as we have in our mind's eye, these are the only cases allowed,—we care not! whether rapture has been succeeded by apathy, or whether the feelings continue as deeply enlisted—the thoughts as intensely concentrated;—but—in the servitude of despair!
And again we say—gentle memory! let us dream over our past joys! ay! and brood over our sorrows—undeserved—as in this hour of solitude, we may justly deem them.
Yes! let us again live over our days of suffering, and deem it wiser to steep our soul in tears, than let it freeze with an iced coating of cynic miscalled philosophy.
And shall adversity—that touchstone—softened as our hearts shall thus be—shall it pass over us, and improve us not?
No! it has purifying and cleansing qualities; and for us, it has them not in vain.
We are not dust, to be more defiled by water; nor are we as the turbid stream, which passing over driven snow, becomes more impure by the close contact.
Thee, Mnemosyne! let us still adore; content rather to droop, fade, and die—martyrs to thee! than linger on as beasts of the forest, that know thee not. No hope may be ours to animate the future: let us still cling to thee, though thine influence sadden the past.
Away! we are on the placid sea! and Naples lies before us.
The sun had just risen from ocean's bed, attired in his robe of gold; as our travellers watched from the deck of their Sparonara, to catch the first view of the "garden of the world," as the Neapolitans fondly style their city,
A dim haze was abroad, the mists were slowly stealing up the mountains, as their vessel glided on; a light breeze anon filling its canvas, then dying away, and leaving the sails to flap against the loosened cordage.
On their left, extended the charming heights of Posilipo—-the classic site of Baia—Pozzuoli—Nisida—and Ischia, to be reverenced for its wine.
On their right, Capra's isle and Portici—and Vesuvius—wreathed in vapour, presented themselves.
As their vessel held on her way, Naples became visible—its turrets capt by a solitary cloud, which had not yet acknowledged the supremacy of the rising deity.
The effulgence of the city was dimmed, but it was lovely still,—as a diamond, obscured by a passing breath; or woman's eye, humid from pity's tear.
"And this," said Sir Henry, for it happened that his travels in Italy had not extended so far south, "this is Naples! and this sea view the second finest in the world!"
"Which is the first?" said Acme, laughing, "not in England, I trust; for we foreigners do not invest your island with beauty's attributes."
"My dear Acme!" replied Sir Henry, somewhat gravely, "I trust the day may arrive, when you will deem Delme Park, with its mansion bronzed by time—its many hillocks studded with ancient trees—its glistening brook, and hoary gateways—its wooded avenue, where the rooks have built for generations—its verdant glades, where the deer have long found a home:—when you will consider all these, as forming as fair a prospect, as ever eye reposed on. But I did not allude at the time to England; but to the Turkish capital. George! I remember your glowing description of your trip in Mildmay's frigate, up the Dardanelles. What comparison would you make between the two scenes?"
"I confess to have been much disappointed," replied George, "in my first view of Stamboul; and even the beauty of the passage to the Dardanelles, seemed to me to have been exaggerated. But what really did strike me, as being the most varied, the most interesting scenery I had ever witnessed, was that which greeted us, on an excursion we made in a row boat, from the Bosphorus into the Black Sea.
"There all my floating conceptions of Oriental luxury, and of Moslem pomp, were more than realised.
"The elegant kiosks—the ornamented gardens—the pinnacled harems, the entrance to which lofty barriers jealously guarded—the number of the tombs in their silent cities—-gave an intense interest to the Turkish coast;—while sumptuous barges, filled with veiled women, swept by us, and gave a fairy charm to the sea. On our return, we were nearly lost from our ignorance of the current, which is rapid and dangerous."
"Well! I am glad to hear such a smiling account of Stamboul," rejoined Acme. "My feelings regarding it have been quite Grecian. It has always been to me a sort of Ogre city."
The breeze began to freshen, and the vessel made way fast.
As they neared the termination of their voyage, some church, or casino bedecked with statues, or fertile glen, whose sides blushed with the luscious grape, opened at every instant, and drew forth their admiration.
Their little vessel swung to her anchor.
The busy hum of the restless inhabitants, and the joyous toll of the churches, announcing one of the never-failing Neapolitan processions, was borne on the breeze.
The whole party embarked for the quarantine office, and—once authorised to join the throng of Naples—soon found themselves in the Strada Toledo, moving towards the Santa Lucia.
Their hotel was near the mole; its windows commanding an extensive view of the purple sea, beyond which the eye took in the changeful volcano; and many a vista—sunny, smiling, and beauteous enough, for the exacting fancy of an Englishman, who conjures up for an Italian landscape, marble-like villas—and porticoes, where grapes cluster, in festoons of the vine—heaving mountains—a purple sky—faces bronzed, but oh how fair!—and song, revelry, and grace.
But what struck Acme, and even Sir Henry, who was more inured to the whirl of cities, as the characteristical feature of Naples, was its moving life. In the streets, there was an incessant bustle from morning until midnight. Each passer by wore an air of importance, almost amounting to a consciousness of happiness. There was fire in the glance—speech in the action—on the lip a ready smile.
In no city of Italy, does care seem more misplaced. The noble rolls on in his vehicle on the Corso, with features gay and self-possessed; while the merry laugh of the beggar—as he feasts on the lengthened honors of his Macaroni—greets the ear at every turn. Stray not there! oh thou with brow furrowed by anguish!
If thy young affections have been blighted—if hope fondly indulged, be replaced by despair—if feelings that lent their roseate hue, to the commonest occurrences of life, now darken every scene—if thou knowest thyself the accessary to this, thy misery, stray not in Naples, all too joyous for thee!
Rather haunt the shrines of the world's ancient mistress! Perchance the sunken pillar—and the marble torso—and the moss-grown edifice—and the sepulchre, with the owl as tenant—and the thought that the great, the good, and the talented, who reared these fading monuments—are silent and mouldering below: mayhap these things will speak to thy heart, and repress the full gush of a sorrow that may not be controlled! And if—the martyr to o'er-sicklied refinement—to sentiment too etherialised for the world, where God hath placed thee—ideal woes have stamped a wrinkle on the brow, and ideal dreams now constitute thy pleasure and thy bane: for such as thou art! living on feeling's excess—soaring to rapture's heights—or sinking to despair's abyss—Naples is not fitting!
Visit the city of the sea! there indulge thy shapeless imaginings—with no sound to break thy day dreams—save the shrill cry of the gondolier, and the splash of his busy oar.
The young Greek, Delme, and George, were soon immersed in the round of sight seeing.
Visits to the ancient palace of Queen Joanna—to the modern villa of the Margravine—to the Sibyl's Cave, and to Maro's Tomb—to some sites that owed their interest to classic associations—to others that claimed it from present beauty—wiled away days swiftly and pleasurably.
What with youth, change of scene, and an Italian sky, George was no longer an invalid. His eye wore neither the film of apathy, nor the unnatural flush of delirium; but smiled its happiness on all, and beamed its love on Acme.
One night they were at the Fondo, and after listening delightedly to Lalande, and following with quick glance, the rapid movements of the agile ballerina, and after George had been honoured by a bow—which greatly amused Acme—from the beautiful princess; who, poor girl! then felt a penchant for Englishmen, which she failed not to avow from her opera box—the party agreed to walk home to the hotel. On their way, they turned into a coffee-room to take ice.
The fluent waiter prattled over his catalogue; and Acme selected his "sorbetto Maltese," because the name reminded her of the loved island.
Leaving the coffee-room, they were accosted by a driver of one of the public coaches.
"Now, Signore! just in time for Vesuvius! See the sun rise! superb sight! elegant carriage!"
"Do let us go!" said Acme, clapping her hands with youthful enthusiasm.
"No, no! my dear!" said Sir Henry, "we must not think of it! you would be so tired."
"No, no! you do not know how strong I am; and I intend sleeping on George's shoulder all the way—and we are all in such high spirits—and these improvised excursions you yourself granted were always best—and besides, you know we must always start at this hour, if we expect to see the sunrise from the mountain. What do you say, Giorgio?"
The discussion ended, by the driver taking the direction of the hotel; whence, after making arrangements as to provisions and change of dress, the party started for the mountain.
The warm cheek of Acme was reposing on that of her husband; and the wanton night air was disporting with her wavy tresses, as the loud halloo of the driver, warned them that they were in Portici, and in the act of arousing Salvador, the guide to the mountain. After some short delay, they procured mules. Each brother armed himself with a long staff, and leaving the carriage, they wended their way towards the Hermitage.
It was a clear night. The moon was majestically gliding on her path, vassalled by myriads of stars.
There was something in the hour—and the scene—and the novelty of the excursion—that enjoined silence.
Arrived at the Hermitage, the party dismounted. Acme clung to the strap, fastened round their guide, and they commenced the ascent. In a short time, they had manifest proofs of their vicinity to the volcano. The ashy lava gave way at each footstep, and it was only by taking short and quick steps, and perseveringly toiling on, that they were enabled to make any progress.
More than once, was Acme inclined to stop, and take breath, but the guide assured them they were already late, and that they would only just be in time for the sunrise.
As the last of the party reached the summit, the sun became perceptible—and rose in glory indescribable. The scene afar how gorgeous! around them how grand!
Panting from their exertions, they sat on a cloak of Salvador's, and gazed with astonishment at the novelties bursting on the eye.
Each succeeding moment, gusts of flame issued forth from the crater.
They looked down on the bason, above which they were. From a conical pyramid of lava, were emitted volumes of smoke, which rolled up to heaven in rounded and fantastic shapes of beauty. Below, a deep azure—above, of a clear amber hue—the clouds wreathed and ascended majestically, as if in time to the rumbling thunder—the accompaniments of nature's subterraneous throes.
Their fatigues were amply repaid. Sir Henry's curiosity was aroused, and he descended with the guide to the crater. George and Acme, delighted with the excursion, remained on the summit, partaking of Salvador's provisions.
The descent they found easy and rapid; the lava now assisting, as much as it had formerly impeded them.
At Portici, Salvador introduced them to his apartment, embellished with specimens of lava. They purchased some memorials of their visit—partook of some fruit—and, after rewarding the guide, they returned to Naples.
Another of their excursions, and it is one than which there are few more interesting, was to that city—which, like the fabulous one of the eastern tale, rears its temples, but there are none to worship; its theatres, but there are none to applaud; its marble statues, where are the eyes that should dwell on them with pride? Its mansions are many—its walls and tesselated pavements, show colours of vivid hue, and describe tales familiar from our boyhood. The priest is at his altar—the soldiers in their guard-room—the citizen in his bath. It is indeed difficult, as our step re-echoes through the silent streets, to divest ourselves of the impression, that we are wandering where the enchanter's wand has been all powerful, that he has waved it, and lo! the city sleeps for a season, until some event shall have been fulfilled.
Our party were in the Via Appia of Pompeii, when Acme turned aside, to remark one tomb more particularly. It was an extensive one, surrounded with a species of iron net work, through which might be seen ranges of red earthen vases. Acme turned to the custode, and asked if this was the burial place of some noble family.
"No! Signora! this is where the ashes of the gladiators are preserved."
From the Appian Way, they entered through the public gate; and passing many shops, whose signs yet draw notice, if they no longer attract custom, they came to the private houses, and entered one—that called Sallust's—for the purpose of a more minute inspection.
"Nothing appears to be more strange," said George, "on looking at these frescoed paintings, and on such mosaics as we have yet seen; than the extraordinary familiarity of their subjects.
"There are many depicted on these walls, and I do not think, Henry, we are first rate classics;—and yet it would be difficult to puzzle us, in naming the story whence these frescoes have their birth. Look at this Latona—and Leda—and the Ariadne abbandonata—and this must certainly be the blooming Hebe. Ah! and look at this little niche! This grinning little deity—the facsimile of an Indian idol—must express their idea of the Penates. Strange! is it not?"
"But are you not," rejoined Sir Henry, "somewhat disappointed in the dwelling-houses? This seems one of the most extensive, and yet, how diminutive the rooms! and how little of attraction in the whole arrangement, if we except this classic fountain.
"This I think is a proof, that the ancient Romans must have chiefly passed their day abroad—in the temples—the forum—or the baths—and have left as home tenants none but women, and those unadorned with the toga virilis.
"These habits may have tended to engender a manlier independence; and to impart to their designs a loftier spirit of enterprise. What say you, Acme?"
"I might perhaps answer," replied Acme, "that the happiness gained, is well worth the glory lost. But I must not fail to remind you, that—grand as this nation must have been—my poor fallen one was its precursor—its tutor—and its model."
Hence they wandered to the theatre—the forum—the pantheon—and amphitheatre:—which last, from their converse in the earlier part of the day—fancy failed not to fill with daring combatants. As the guide pointed out the dens for the wild beasts—the passages through which they came—and the arena for the combat—Sir Henry, like most British travellers, recalled the inimitable story of Thraso, and his lion fight. [Footnote: In Valerius.]
The following day was devoted to the Studio, and to the inspection of the relics of Pompeii.
These relics, interesting as they are, yet convey a melancholy lesson to the contemplative mind. Each modern vanity here has its parallel—each luxury its archetype. Here may be found the cameoed ring—and the signet seal—and the bodkin—and paint for the frail one's cheek—a cuirass, that a life guardsman might envy—weights—whose elegance of shape charm the eye. Not an article of modern convenience or of domestic comfort, that has not its representative. They teach us the trite French lesson.
"L'histoire se repete."
With the exception of these two excursions, and one to Poestum; our travellers passed their mornings sight-seeing in Naples, and chiefly at the Studio, whose grand attraction is the thrilling group of the Taureau Farnese.
In the cool of the evening, until twilight's hour was past, they drove into the country, or promenaded in the gardens of the Villa Reale, to the sound of the military band.
Each night they turned their footsteps towards the Mole; where they embarked on the unruffled bay. To a young and loving heart—the heart of a bride—no pleasure can equal that, of being next the one loved best on earth—at night's still witching hour. The peculiar scenery of Naples, yet more enhances such pleasure.
Elsewhere night may boast its azure vault and its silver stars. Cynthia may ride the heavens in majesty—the water may be serene—and the heart attuned to the night's beauty:—but from the land, if discernible—we can rarely expect much addition to the charms of the scene, and can never expect it to form its chief attraction. At Naples it is otherwise.
Our eyes turn to the Volcano, whose flame, crowning the mountain's summit, crimsons the sky.
We watch with undiminished interest, its fitful action—now bursting out brilliantly—now fading, as if about to be extinguished for ever. Seated beside George, and thus gazing, what pleasure was Acme's! We need not say time flew swiftly. Never did happiness meet with more ardent votary than in that young bride—or find a more ready mirror, on which to reflect her beaming attributes—than on the features of that bride's husband.
Their swimming eyes would fill with tears—and their voices sink to the lowest whisper.
Sir Henry rarely interrupted their converse; but leant his head on the boat's side, and thoughtfully gazed on the placid waters, till he almost deemed he saw reflected on its surface, the face of one, in whose society he felt he too might be blest.
But these fancies would not endure long. Delme would quickly arouse himself; and, warned by the lateness of the hour, and feeling the necessity that existed, for his thinking for the all-engrossed pair, would order the rowers to direct the boat's course homewards.
Returned to their hotel, it may be that orisons more heavenward, have issued from hearts more pure.
Few prayers more full of gratitude, have been whispered by earthly lips, than were breathed by George and his young wife in the solitude of their chamber.
How often is such uncommon happiness as this the precursor of evil!
"Son port, son air de suffisance, Marquent dans son savoir sa noble confiance. Dans les doctes debats ferme et rempli de coeur, Meme apres sa defaite il tient tete an vainqueur. Voyez, pour gagner temps, quelles lenteurs savantes, Prolongent de ses mots les syllabes trainantes! Tout le monde l'admire, et ne peut concevoir Que dans un cerveau seul loge tant de savoir."
It was soon after the excursion to Poestum, that a packet of letters reached the travellers from Malta. These letters had been forwarded from England, on the intelligence reaching Emily, of George's intended marriage. They had been redirected to Naples, by Colonel Vavasour, and were accompanied by a few lines from himself.
In Sir Henry's communication with his sister, he had prudently thrown a veil, over the distressing part of George's story, and had dwelt warmly, on the beauty and sweetness of temper of Acme Frascati. He could hardly hope that the proposed marriage, would meet with the entire approval of those, to whom he addressed himself.
The letters in reply, however, only breathed the affectionate overflowings of kind hearts. Mrs. Glenallan sent her motherly blessing to George; and Emily, in addition to a long communication to her brother, wrote to Acme as to a beloved sister; begging her to hasten George's return to England, that they might meet one, in whom they must henceforward feel the liveliest interest.
"How kind they all are," said George. "I only wish we were with them."
"And so do I," said Acme. "How dearly I shall love them all."
"George!" said Sir Henry, abruptly, "do you know, I think it is quite time we should move farther north. The weather is getting most oppressive; and we have nearly exhausted the lions of Naples."
"With all my heart," replied George. "I am ready to leave it whenever you please."
On Sir Henry's considering the best mode of conveyance, it occurred to him, that some danger might arise from the malaria of the Pontine marshes; and indeed, Rome and its environs were represented, at that time, as being by no means free from this unwelcome visitant.
Sir Henry enquired if there were any English physicians resident in Naples; and having heard a high eulogium passed by the waiter, on a Doctor Pormont, "who attended the noble Consul, and my Lord Rimington," ventured to enclose his card, with a note, stating that he would be glad of five minutes' conversation with that gentleman.
In a short time, Doctor Pormont was introduced.
He was a tall man, with very marked features, and a deeply furrowed brow; whose longitudinal folds, however, seemed rather the result of thought or of study, than of age. The length of his nose was rivalled by the width of his mouth. When he spoke, he displayed two rows of very clean and very regular teeth, but which individually narrowed to a sharp point, and gave his whole features a peculiarly unpleasing expression. His voice was husky—his manners chilling—his converse that of a pedant.
Doctor Pormont was in many respects a singular man. From childhood, he had been remarkable for stoicism of character. He possessed none of the weak frailties, or gentle sympathies, which ordinarily belong to human nature. His blood ran cold, like that of a fish. Never had he been known to lose his equanimity of deportment.
A species of stern principle, however, governed his conduct; and his very absence of feeling, made him an impartial physician, and one of the most successful anatomists of the day.
What brought him to bustling, sunny Naples, was an unfathomed mystery. Once there, he acquired wealth without anxiety, and patients without friends.
Amongst the many anecdotes, current amongst his professional brethren, as to the blunted feelings of Doctor Pormont, was one,—related of him when he was lecturer at a popular London institution. A subject had been placed on the anatomist's table, for the purpose of allowing the lecturer, to elucidate to the young students, the advantages of a post mortem examination, in the determination of diseases. The lecturer dissected as he proceeded, and was particularly clear and luminous. He even threw light on the previous habits of the deceased, and showed at what period of life, the germ of decay was probably forming.
A friend casually enquired, as they left the lecture room, whether the subject had been a patient of his own.
"No!" replied the learned lecturer, "the body is that of my cousin and schoolfellow, Harry Welborne. I attended his funeral, at some little distance from town, a couple of days ago. My servant must have given information to the exhumer. It is clear the body was removed from the vault on the same evening."
Sir Henry Delme briefly explained to Doctor Pormont, his purpose in sending for him. He stated that he was anxious to take his advice, as to the best mode of proceeding to Rome, and also as to the best sleeping place for the party;—that he had a wholesome dread of the malaria, but that one of his party being a female, and another an invalid, he thought it might be as well to sleep one night on the road. Regarding all this, he deferred to the advice and superior judgment of the physician.
"Judgment," said Doctor Pormont, "is two-fold. It may be defined, either as the faculty of arriving at the knowledge of things, which may be effected by the synthetic or analytic method; or it may be considered as the just perception of them, when they are fully indagated.
"Our problem seems to resolve itself into two cases.
"First: does malaria exist to an unusual and alarming extent, on the route you purpose taking?
"Secondly: the existence conceded—what is the best method to escape the evil effects that might attend its inhibition into the human system?
"Let us apply the synthetic method to our first case."
The Doctor prefaced his arguments, by a long statement, as to the gradual commencement, and progress of malaria;—showed how the atmosphere, polluted by exhalations of water, impregnated with decaying and putrified vegetable matter, gave forth miasmata; which he described as being particles of poison in a volatile state.
He alluded to the opinion held by many, that the disease owed its origin to the ravages of the barbarians, who destroying the Roman farms and villas, had made desert what were fertile regions.
He traced it from the time of the late Roman Emperors, to that of the dominion of the Popes, whose legislative enactments to arrest the malady, he failed not to comment on at length.
He explained the uncertainty which continued to exist, as to the boundaries of the tract of country, in which the disease was rife; and then plunged into his argument.
George, at this crisis, quietly took the opportunity of gliding from the room. Sir Henry stretched his legs on an ottoman, and appeared immersed in the study of a print—the Europa of Paul Veronese—which hung over the mantel-piece.
"The Diario di Roma," continued the Doctor, "received this day, decidedly states that malaria is fearfully raging on the Neapolitan road. Pray forgive me, if I occasionally glide into the vulgar error, of confounding the disease itself, with the causes of that disease.
"On the other hand, a young collegian, who arrived in Naples from Rome yesterday evening, states that he smoked and slept the whole journey, and suffered no inconvenience whatever.
"Here two considerations present themselves. While sleep has been considered by the best authorities, as predisposing the human frame to infection, by opening the pores, relaxing the integuments, and retarding the circulation of the blood; I cannot overlook the virtues of tobacco, narcotic—aromatic—disinfecting—as we must grant them to be.
"Here then may I place in juxta-position, the testimony of the Diario, and that of a young gentleman, half of his time asleep—the other half, under the influence of the fumes of tobacco.
"Synthetically, I opine, that we may conclude that malaria does exist, and to a great degree, in the Campagna di Roma. Will you now allow me, to submit the question under dispute, to the analytic process? By many, in the present age, though not by me, it is considered the more philosophical mode of reasoning."
"I am extremely obliged to you, Doctor," said Sir Henry, in a quiet tone of voice, "but you have raised the synthetic structure so admirably, that I think that in this instance we may dispense with your analysis. Pray proceed!"
"Having already shown, then—although your kindness has allowed me to do so but partially—that malaria does indeed exist, it becomes me to show, which is the best mode of avoiding its baneful effects.
"Injurious as are the miasmata in general, and fatal as are the effects of that peculiar form in this country, termed malaria; the diseases they engender, I apprehend to be rather endemic than epidemic.
"It would be difficult to determine, to what part of the Campagna, the disease is at present confined; but I should certainly not advise you, to sleep within the bounds of contagion, for the predisposing effects of sleep I have already hinted at.
"Rapid travelling is, in my opinion, the best prophylactic I can prescribe, as besides a certain exhilarating effect on the spirits, the swift passage through the air, will remove any spiculae of the marsh miasmata, which may be hovering near your persons. Air, cheerfulness, and exercise, however, predispose to, and are the results of sleep: and to an invalid especially, sleep is indispensable.
"In Mr. Delme's case, therefore, I would recommend a temporary halt."
Dr. Pormont then gave an account of the length of the stages, the nature of the post-house accommodations, and the probable degree of danger attached to each site.
From all this, Delme gathered, that malaria existed to some extent, on the line of road they were to travel—that sleep would be necessary for George—and that, on the whole, it would be most desirable to sleep at an inn, situated at a hamlet between Molo di Gaeta and Terracina, somewhat removed from the central point of danger.
But the truth is, that Sir Henry Delme was disposed to consider Dr. Pormont, with his pomposity, and wordy arguments, as a mere superficial thinker; and he half laughed at himself, for having ever thought it necessary to consult him. This class of men influence less than they ought. Sensible persons are apt to set them down, as either fools or pedants. Their very magniloquence condemns them; for, in the present day, it seems an axiom, that simplicity and genius are invariably allied.
This rule, like most others, has its exceptions; and it would be well for all of us, if we thought less of the manner, in which advice may be delivered, and more of the matter which it may contain.
The Doctor rose to take leave,—Sir Henry witnessed his departure with lively satisfaction; and, with the exception of enjoying a hearty laugh, at his expense, with George and Acme, ceased to recollect that such a personage existed.
Delme, however, had cause to remember that Doctor Pormont.
Were it not so, he would not have figured in these pages.
The last evening they were at Naples, they proceeded, as was their custom, to the Mole; and there engaging a boat, directed it to be rowed across the bay.
The volcano was more than usually brilliant, and the villages at its base, appeared as clear as at noonday.
The water's surface was not ruffled by a ripple. A bridal party was following in the wake of their boat—and nuptial music was floating past them in subdued cadence.
A nameless regret filled their minds, as they thought of the journey on the coming morrow. They had been so happy in Naples. Could they hope to be happier elsewhere?
It was midnight, when they returned to the hotel. As they neared its portico, the round cold moon fell on the forms of the lazzaroni, who were lying in groups round the pillars.
One of the party sprang to his feet, alarming the slumberers. The whole of them rose with admirable cheerfulness—took off their hats respectfully—and made way for the forestieri.
During the momentary pause that ensued, Acme turned to the volcano, and playfully waved her hand in token of farewell.
Her eyes filled with tears, and she clung heavily to George's arm.
She was doomed never to look on that scene again.
The Beginning of the End.
"Thou too, art gone! thou loved and lovely one, Whom youth and youth's affections bound to me."
At an early hour, rich aureate hues yet streaking the east, our party were duly seated in a roomy carriage of Angrasani's, on their way to Rome.
They had hopes of arriving at the capital, in time to witness that unique sight, the illumination of Saint Peter's; a sight which few can remember, without deeming its anticipation well worthy, to urge on the jaded traveller, to his journey's termination.
Who can forget the play of the fountains in front of the Vatican, the music of whose descending water is most distinctly audible, although crowds throng the wide and noble space.
Breathless—silent all—is the assembled multitude, as the clock of Saint Peter's gives its long expected signal.
Away! darkness is light! a fairy palace springs before us! its beautiful proportions starting into life, until the giddy brain reels, from the excess of that splendour, on which the eye suddenly and delightedly feasts!
With the exception of a short halt, which afforded the travellers time for an early dinner at the Albergo di Cicerone, which is about half a mile from the Molo di Gaeta, they prosecuted their journey without intermission, till arrived within sight of their resting place.
This bore the aspect of an extensive, but dilapidated mansion, evidently designed for some other purpose.
Its proprietor had erected it, at a period, when malaria was either less prevalent or less dreaded; and his descendants had quitted it, for some more salubrious site.
The albergo itself, occupied but a small portion of the building, immediately on the right and left of the porch.
The other apartments, which formed the wings, were either wholly tenantless, or were fitted up as hay-lofts, granaries, or receptacles for farming utensils.
In the upper rooms, the panes of glass were broken; and the whole aspect of the place betokened desolation and decay.
As they drove to the door, a throng of mendicants and squalid peasants came forth. Their faces had a cadaverous hue, which could not but be remarked. Their eyes, too, seemed heavy, and deep set in the head; while many had their throats bandaged, from the effects of glandular swellings, brought on by the marshy exhalations.
Acme threw some small pieces of Neapolitan money amongst them; and their gratitude in consequence was boundless.
She sprang from the carriage like a young fawn.
"Come, come, Giorgio! look at that sweet sun-set—and at the blue clouds edged with burnished gold! Would it not be a sin to remain in-doors on such an evening? and besides," added she, in a whisper—"is it not a pleasure to leave behind us these sickly faces, to muse on an Italian landscape, and admire an Italian sky? Driver! will you order supper? We will take a stroll while it is preparing.
"Come! Henry! come away! do not look so grave, or you will make me think of your amusing friend—Dr. Pormont."
"Thompson!" said George, as the smiling bride bore off the brothers in triumph, "do not forget your mistress' guitar case!"
The travellers passed a paved court, in rear of the building; whence a wicket gate admitted them to a kitchen garden, well stocked with the requisites for an Italian salad.
Behind this, enclosed with embankments, was a small vineyard. The vines twined round long poles, these again being connected with thin cords, which the tendrils were already clasping.
Thus far, there was nothing that seemed indicative of an unwholesome situation. As they extended their walk, however, pursuing the continuation of the path, that had led them through the vineyard, they arrived at the edge of a dark sluggish stream, whose surface was nearly on a level with them; and which, gradually becoming broader, at length emptied itself into what might be styled a wide and luxuriant marsh, which abounded with water-fowl. This was studded with small round lakes, and with islets of an emerald verdure.
From the bosom of the marsh itself, rose bulrushes and pollard willows, towered over by gigantic noisy reeds.
The stream was thickly strewn with the pure honours of the water lily.
If—as Eastern poets tell us—these snowy flowers bathe their charms, when the sun is absent, but lift up their virgin heads, when he looks down approvingly:—but that, sometimes deceived, on some peerless damsel's approaching, they mistake her eye for their loved luminary, and pay to her beauty an abrupt and involuntary homage:—now might they indeed gaze upward, to greet as fair a face as ever looked down on the water they bedecked.
They approached the edge of the marsh, and discovered a rural arbour of faded boughs—the work of children—placed around a couple of willow trees.
Within it, was a rude seat; and some parasitical plant with a deep red flower, had twined round the withered boughs, and mingled fantastically with the dead leaves.
Below the arbour, was a small stone embankment, which prevented the waters from encroaching, and made the immediate site comparatively free from dampness.
Acme arranged her cloak—took one hand of each of the brothers in hers—and in the exuberance of health and youth—commenced prattling in that charming domestic strain, which only household intimacy can beget or justify. George leant back in silence, but could have clasped her to his heart.