Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

life, and liberty, and love? By heaven, I had rather play the headsman's loathsome part, and do his duty on the dog myself!" Say not so, my lord,” she replied beseechingly; "the noble blood that circles in your veins should engender nobler feelings in your heart. The high-born Duke should scorn the lowly plebeian. Matches the lion with the timid fawn? Mates the eagle with the turtle-dove? Oh, my good lord, pity and mercy are the attributes of noble minds, and you are noble-be then but merciful!” And with a simple but still irresistible eloquence, the lovely girl solicited the bitterest enemy of the unfortunate prisoner to become his protector. She asked but for permission to accompany her lover into a voluntary exile, and she promised her eternal gratitude to whoever should become the instrument of accomplishing her wishes. Alas! the very means she adopted were calculated to defeat their aim. Melazzo loved with the sensual passion of a selfish heart, and the fate of Vitelli was rendered more certain, as he gazed upon the beaming eye, the throbbing bosom, the sylph-like figure of the suppliant before him.

"It is in vain,” said he, "you can never be his. You love him? Prove your affection, and save him. You and you alone can give him freedom. Be but mine, and he is saved.”

It is scarcely necessary to say that Fortunata listened to this proposition with utter repugnance. She instantly rejected it as impossible. The Duke painted in glowing colors the death-scene of her lover, and the subsequent upbraidings of her own conscience, for having permitted him to suffer an ignominious death, which, by a slight sacrifice on her part, she might have prevented. After many a painful struggle, her love for Filippo triumphed over every consideration of self, and she yielded. “Let him be saved,” said she ; " and if you still demand, and can accept, a broken heart, it shall be yours.”

Melazzo was warm in his professions of deep and enduring affection. “Go then,” he added; “see Vitelli for the last time. Tell him he shall be freed, and bid him hold himself in readiness. To-night sel, subject to my orders, sails for France. He shall be placed on board :-and then

“ And then,repeated the half-bewildered girl, “ ask of me what you will. Until then, farewell !"

But the real intentions of Melazzo, with respect to the captive, were far different from those he had avowed to the daughter of Nousiate ; and she had no sooner departed, than he proceeded to put his actual plans in operation. Nor was Fortunata so entirely resigned to her apparent fate as her parting words seemed to indicate. The manner of escape, proposed by the Duke for Vitelli, had suggested to herself a project for eluding the performance of her promise. She hastened to the prison of the rebel. She informed him of her success with Melazzo; she renewed her vows of undying constancy, and, with a pledge that she would be the companion of his flight, she proceeded to the investigation necessary to the accomplishment of her designs. She learned that the vessel to which the Duke had alluded, was named the Victoria ; that she was commanded by Vincenzo Masoni ; that he had once been a Carbonari, and was formerly a warm friend of her lover's.

ves

She sought him out, and informed him of the situation in which Vitelli was placed-of his intended flight; and she prevailed upon him to permit her to accompany him.

At the commencement of the engagement which terminated so disastrously for the conspirators, the Count Vellini, whose impetuosity drove him to the front of the besiegers, had been struck down by a stroke from a sabre. He fell before the barriers were forced, and lay insensible among the dead and dying, until the termination of the conAict, when those who missed their friends came out to seek them. By some of these the body of Vellini was discovered. Finding life was not yet extinct, and knowing that Masoni, although taking no active part in the rebellion, was warm in his attachment to their cause, and that it would be impossible to keep the Count concealed in Sicily, they determined to convey him on board of the Victoria. This they accomplished. Vellini recovered, but his sanguine hopes were blasted by defeat, and his whole thoughts now centered in a desire of vengeance on Melazzo, the cause of his misfortunes.

In the prosecution of his scheme, the Duke had entrusted to Nousiate the charge of conducting Vitelli to the spot where a boat was previously to be provided to transport him on board Masoni's vessel. . At his request, the old man, as they left the prison, supplied him with a sword.

Fortunata was on board the Victoria, Vitelli was on his way to join her, and the plans of Melazzo were ripe for consummation. But the Count Vellini could not leave his native land—it might be foreverwithout one effort for revenge. With this view he left the vessel, and, landing without the city, proceeded towards Messina. As he approached the ruins of a building, destroyed during the late insurrection, he was aroused by the sound of smothered voices from within its walls. An indescribable impulse prompted him to enter.

“ It is almost the hour,” said a voice which Vellini instantly recognized as that of Melazzo's ; " be firm, be resolute ; above all, be sure ; if he escape you, tremble for your lives : succeed, and claim your own reward.” * Trust all to us,” replied one of his companions ; "our daggers never fail."

At this instant approaching footsteps were heard. Two persons withdrew from the ruin; the Duke alone remained. The silence which succeeded was soon interrupted by Vitelli : “ Ha, villain !" There was a clash of arms—the one brief cry that breathes life's parting pangthen another struggle, and again Vitelli's voice: “Die, wretch !"

“Death to my hopes !” exclaimed the Duke; "he will escape them yet.” As he spoke, he drew his sword, and was rushing out, when the strong arm of Vellini arrested bis progress. Drawing his own sword, and thrusting him backward, he cried: “Well met, my Lord Dukewell met, at last. I have sought you, Sir. But words are useless."

With a fury that defied resistance, he rushed at his astonished victim, and before he could recover from his surprise, his sword was flying through the ruined building—his hand was on his foeman's throat-his weapon upon his breast-the shout, “Vellini !" rung upon his ear—and the avenging steel was deep in his heart.

He died without a groan.

[ocr errors]

“And now," said Masoni, when the shout for the arrival of the fugitive on board his vessel had subsided" for France! But first

He was interrupted by a scream of delight as Fortunata threw herself into her lover's arms.

The remainder of the story is soon told. Arrived in France, all their hopes were consummated; and during long and prosperous years, the noble generosity and kindness of the faithful pair imparted additional interest to the story of the lovely and happy wife, now known, for leagues around, as Fortunata of Rametta.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

To a careless observer, a shallow mind may sometimes appear profound, by reflecting the higher thoughts of other minds, that stand infinitely above it: even as to the passing eye a drop of water seems thousands of fathoms deep, by holding within it a reflection of the sky;and yet it is but a drop of water.

VIII.

AN OBITUARY.

Epitaphs and obituary notices are not fit themes for merriment; but at times they are so solemnly ludicrous, that sorrow and sadness change into a smile. I have one now before me which commences thus :“ The death of Mr. -, cannot fail to draw a deep chasm on the society of his numerous friends." The following is so surpassingly comic, that it seems a tigment of a waggish fancy, though I find it in a provincial newspaper; it is no invention of my own. Shakspeare has seldom been so travestied. He little thought, when he made Mark Anthony speak of the rent the envious Casca made," that he should be so misunderstood, as in the following lines :

“ The spoiler came. Disease rioted on her vitals; and when she thought to taste again the dear enjoyments of domestic peace, death, cold, cruel, and relentless death, with his envious casca, closed the scene !"

IX.

A CURE FOR CELIBACY.

The following wonderful cure is copied verbatim from the advertisement of a notorious Botanic Physician :

"A lady-deplorable state of mental derangement-attended by the celebrated Dr. -, and by him pronounced beyond the reach of medical aid, and advised that she be immediately removed to the Insane Hospital, or Mad House, Pepperell, (Mass.)—cured in one week and married in three months.

[ocr errors]

Some poetic lover in the reign of King John, thus quaintly addresses his mistress, whom he calls the fairest maid “bituene Lyncolne and Lyndeseye:”

When the nightegale singes the wodes waxen grene,
Lef and gras and blosme springes in Avril y wene,
And love is to myn herte gon with one spere so kene,
Nighte and day my blod hit drynkes, my herte doth me tene.

XI.

THE CHRISTIAN FATHERS.

I love at times to turn over the pages of the early Christian Fathers. When I open one of their sombre-looking tomes, and my eye loiters down the long and weather-stained column, something of the same feeling comes over me, as if I were passing along the gloomy aisles of an old cathedral, and listening to the sage monitions of the past. The names of Justin Martin, Tertullian, Lactantius, Origen, Chrysostome, and others, are familiar to our ears; but how few at the present day ever think of looking into their worm-eaten tomes either for delight or instruction! And yet they contain passages of startling eloquencetrains of singular, but close-pressing argument—and touches of ludicrous home-preaching, which remind one of what he has heard and read of Whitfield. The following specimen

of the kind last mentioned, I copy from St. Cyprian, “ of the habit of Virgins.” Works, part i. pp. 89, 90.

“God, we consider, made not sheep of a purple or a scarlet color; nor was it from his instruction that we were taught to tincture our wool with the juices of herbs or of fishes; nor did he form these ranges of pearl and precious stones, which make those necklaces, wherewith the neck, which was truly of his forming, is in a manner covered and hid; and thus in truth his workmanship is made to disappear, in favor of an invention of Satan's, which is suffered to dangle over it. Can we think it the will of God, that the ears should be bored and wounded, and poor harmless infants, ignorant as yet of all worldly wickedness, be thereby tormented ?

All these mischievous inventions, those wicked spirits introduced among us, who, sinking into the dregs of worldly pollution, lost thereby the vigor of their heavenly state ; and then instructed us, after their deceitful manner, in the arts of blackening our eyebrows, painting our faces, changing the color of our hair, and in short of disguising every feature.

“ Your Lord and Master hath told you, that you cannot make one hair white or black; but you must needs confute his assertion, and prove yourselves capable of doing what he has pronounced impracticable. You presumptuously adventure to dye your hair, and with a very ill omen to your future condition, you labor to make it flame-colored?

I wonder you are not afraid, that the great divine artist, who made and fashioned you, should refuse to acknowledge you at the general resurrection, and reject you from the hope of his promises, with the sarcasm of a satirist, and the censure of a judge, in some such manner as this which follows: This is none of my workmanship, nor my image; you have quite altered the countenance which I made for you; nor hair, nor face, nor features are the same; you cannot therefore see God, with those eyes which he did not make, but which the devil hath

« ForrigeFortsett »