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great philosopher and physician, astronomer and astrologer, to receive whose instructions the unbridled youth even of distant Poland come flocking hither in shoals?"
On hearing this name, the young Spaniard receded a step in delighted astonishment; for it was the fame of this great man which had attracted him also to Padua, across the sea from Barcelona.
"It was indeed himself, then!" cried he, in a tone of enthusiasm. Hence it was that my heart was so deeply moved;-my soul instinctively recognised his. And you, my reverend friend, how much I love you because you also appear to revere this great man as much as any saint or martyr in the calendar.'
"Is it your intention to study under this man?" asked the priest, in a harsh angry tone.
"Certainly it is," replied Alphonso, "if he will deign to receive me as his pupil."
The old man stood still, and, laying his hand on the youth's shoulder, addressed him in gentler accents.
“My dear young friend, the season of safety is not yet past; pray, give ear to my fatherly warning before it be too late. Do not deceive yourself, as multitudes have already done, but be on your guard, and preserve your precious soul from the snares of the tempter."
"I understand you not, father," replied Alphonso. "Did not you yourself see and hear how piously, how Christian-like, and with what overpowering majesty that glorious being spake, when by his heavenly consolations he turned back into the right path those who had been led astray by the affliction their too fond love was groaning under?
"Ay! what is there he dare not, he cannot do, juggler and sorcerer that he is?" cried the old priest, much excited.
"Sorcerer!" exclaimed Alphonso. "It appears, then, that you also share in the foolish fancy of the rabble, who, being incapable of appreciating the science of lofty minds, will believe every thing that is absurd, rather than strengthen their own understandings by gazing on the sublime career of a mortal like themselves."
"If you have already gone so far in your admiration of him," returned the priest, "you have but little occa
sion to enter yourself as a pupil in his famous school; it is manifest that he has already caught you in his magic snares. Thus it is that he entraps every heart that beats in his neighbourhood. Yes, heathen as he is, he has this day spoken like a Christian minister, and coloured his lying schemes with the hues of holiness. Thus it was that he gained an ascendency in the house of Podesta. poor Crescentia, on her deathbed, could scarcely find her way back into the bosom of the Holy Church, so much had she been led astray by the false doctrines which this wicked hypocrite wove, in poisonous meshes, around her young soul. Thank Heaven, however, she has escaped him! The Lord has called her to himself, and, visiting her with a mortal sickness, has saved her soul at the expense of her body." The speakers had now reached the open square. The youth was in a state of excitement, and gave vent to his feelings thus:
"Pray, Mr Priest, whence comes this spirit of furious envy on your part? Is not the secret of it this, that the more you see the world day after day falling away from its obedience to you, the more are you determined to beat down beneath your exterminating curse the new spirit-the spirit of eternal truth-which is now beginning to quicken every region of the globe. In vain, however, would you endeavour to smother this spirit, and restore your musty legends to the place they once held in the estimation of the people.'
"Be it so, then," cried the old man, in high indignation. "Let us have Averroes instead of Christ, Aristotle instead of Almighty God, and your Pietro here-that Iscariot-instead of the Holy Ghost! But wait a while watch the end of this man, and see whether the seven spirits over whom he exercises a sorcerer's power, together with that Famulus of histhat imp of hell-will be able, when his hour comes, to rescue him from a most miserable doom."
"Was his Famulus present today?" asked Alphonso.
"Did you not observe the spectre that was dizzened out in fool's attirethe humpbacked abortion, with distorted hands and arms, bowed shins, leering eyes, and monstrous nose projecting from a hideous visage? That was his Famulus, or familiar attendant."
“I thought that figure had had a mask on."
"Not a bit of him," said the priest; there is no occasion for him to mask himself. Take him as nature has made him, and he is already a mask and a monster. If ever there was a spirit of hell upon earth, this Berecynth, as they call him, is that spirit. But it is drawing late; will you put up with the
accommodations of our cloister until you have provided yourself with a lodging elsewhere?"
The young foreigner declined this invitation, chiefly on account of the very different opinions which each of them entertained respecting the subject of their late discussion; and they parted mutually dissatisfied.
THE ROBBER'S DEN.
The young Florentine, who had met in a miserable hour the funeral of her who was to have been his bride, rushed like a madman through the city gates, and took his course in reckless haste through wood and wold. When he found himself in the open country, many were the bitter curses he poured forth against the world and his own fate; and, tearing his hair, he again dashed onwards, unconscious whether he was going. He spurred against the wind, which blew upon him with the freshness of night, as if to cool the burning fever of his cheeks. At length his horse, stumbling and overdriven, fairly sank under him, and he was compelled to continue his career on foot. He knew not where he was, or what he would be at: only, encompassed by the black infinitude, he prayed despairing. ly for death. "Oh, death, take me to thyself, and still the beatings of this stormy heart! Would that I might this moment expire in mortal pangs, so that my place might know me no more in the light of to-morrow's sun, and that no beam of his might ever again awaken me to the consciousness of my woe. Am I not the most miserable of all living creatures?—and all the more so, because a few hours ago I was the happiest of men. Alas for youthful love, which ends by bringing such bitter disappointment to all the rapturous feelings of the heart!"
The rain, which for some time had been drizzling through the cold air, now began to descend in heavier drops. The youth was already deep in the forest, and no shelter, as far as he knew, was at hand. He began to collect his scattered senses; his anguish grew milder, and tears at length forced themselves from his eyes. His hatred of life became less and less intense, and he felt as if comfort were poured into his troubled soul by the soft voice of the dark sobbing night.
The storm was now raging with fearful violence; and after struggling on for some time, almost blinded by the lightning and deafened by the thunder, he found himself close to the light by which he had been attracted. He knocked at the window of a small cottage which stood behind some trees, and begged for admittance and shelter from the inclemency of the ele ments. A loud hoarse voice answered from within, but the youth could not distinguish the words, for the tempest and the rain and the tossing trees raved so frightfully around him, that no other sound could be distinctly heard.
The door of the cottage entered from the garden, through which, having passed, he was conducted by a female hand along a dark passage into a small chamber, in which there was a lighted lamp and a fire burning on the hearth. In a corner beside the lamp sate a hideous old woman spinning. The young maid who had introduced him busied herself about the fireplace, and kept so moving about that he was unable to obtain a near or correct view of her countenance; while the deafening peals of thunder for a long time rendered any thing like conversation impossible.
"This is a dreadful storm!" said the old woman in a croaking voice,
during a lull in the tempest." From whence come you, young man?"
"From Padua this evening."
"That is a long way," cried the old woman; "twenty good miles from hence. What business have you here, in a place to which no high-road leads?"
"I know not," replied the youth. "The miserable are incapable of forming plans, or of taking thought for the future. Well would it be if there were no futurity at all in reserve for me."
"Badly said, badly said, young man; you must not speak so. What!" exclaimed she, rising up and scrutinizing him by the light of the lamp "A Florentine! by all that's wonderful. It is long since I have cast eyes on the garb of fair Florence. This visit must betoken me some good-luck. Truly this storm has sent me a welcome guest; for know, my young sir, that I myself come from that blessed country-from Florence. Ah! what would I give to tread thy soil once more, and to behold thy beloved moun tains and gardens! But your name, my dear young master?"
"Antonio Cavalcanti," answered the youth, who felt his heart somewhat warmed towards the old hag, because she was his country woman. "Oh, glorious name!" exclaimed she, enthusiastically, "Cavalcanti! years ago I knew a man of that name, Guido Cavalcanti."
"He was my father," said Antonio.
"And he is dead?"
"He is dead," said the young man; "and my mother, too, has long since been taken from me."
"I know it, my beautiful youth," cried the old woman. "It is now fifteen years since she died. Alas! she yielded up her spirit in an unhappy time. And your dear good father, I have to thank him that I was not condemned some years afterwards to the fagot. The judges had taken it into their heads that I was a witch, and would not be convinced to the contrary. But, by his threats and entreaties, my Lord Guido bore me through, and they at length consented merely to banish me from my native land. And now the storm has driven the son of my benefactor into my poor little hut! Give me your hand, my young master."
Antonio gave her his hand, and, al
though inwardly repelled by her forbidding appearance, he constrained himself to appear gay, and listened attentively to the tattling of the old dame, who, on account of her former ac quaintance with his family, seemed inclined to exert a sort of authority over him. But what was his astonishment and consternation when she suddenly cried out-" Crescentia ?"
"For Godsake!" cried the youth, trembling all over, "do you know her?-do you behold her? Do you know any thing at all about her ?"
"What ails you?" shrieked the old woman. "I think I ought to know something about her, seeing that she is my own daughter. Look yourself, how the lazy wench sits yonder fast asleep, allowing the fire to go out, and our supper to grow cold."
She took the lamp, and approached the hearth. And now the youth's bewilderment may be conceived, when he beheld Crescentia before him, just as he had seen her that very evening lying in her coffin, in Padua. The pale countenance, the closed eyes, the heavy tresses, and all the features, were those of his bride-elect; her small hands, also, were folded, and between them lay an image of our Saviour on the cross. Her white robe heightened the illusion. "She is dead!" cried he, gazing upon her, and rooted to the spot.
"She is lazy, the idle huzzy!" croaked the hag, shaking the fair sleeper. "The useless_baggage can do nothing but pray and sleep.'
Crescentia aroused herself, and her confusion heightened her charms. Antonio was wellnigh distracted when he saw before him her whom he thought he had lost for ever.
"Old sorceress !" cried he with vehemence "Where am I? And what image is that which you have placed before my wandering senses? Speak!-who is that blessed being? Crescentia, is it really thou? Dost thou still know thine own Antonio? Tell me how comest thou to be here?"
"Come," said the old woman, in terrupting them, "let us go to supper.
The meal was set, and consisted of vegetables and a flask of rich Florentine wine, which the old dame produced out of a small cupboard. Antonio could eat but little. He kept his eyes riveted on Crescentia, and his disturbed fancy was ever whispering him that she was his dead bride. Then, again, he believed that he lay bound up in a heavy dream-the vic. tim of a delirium which changed all the objects around him-that, perhaps, at that moment he was in the city, in his own home, suffering under the pressure of his own wild imaginations, and incapable of perceiving or recog. nising any of his friends, who yet might be weeping around him, and striving to comfort his afflicted spirit.
The storm was now past, and the stars were shining in the dark quiet sky. The old woman ate well, and drank better of the sweet wine. "Come, Master Antonio," said she, after a pause, "tell us what it was that took you to Padua, and brought you hither." Antonio started from his reverie. "You are certainly entitled," replied he, "to interrogate your guest; besides, you appear to have known my father, and, perhaps, my mother also." "Well, indeed, did I know her," said the old woman. "No one knew her better. Ay, ay, she died just six months before your father made out his second marriage with the Marchioness of Manfredi."
"So you are acquainted with that circumstance, too, are you?"
"Yes, truly," continued she; "it appears as if I had that fair puppet for ever before mine eyes. Tell me, is your beautiful stepmother still alive? When she came up from the country to be married, she was just in the heyday of her charms."
"I cannot tell you," said Antonio, with a sigh, "all that I endured at the hands of this stepmother. She had thrown the spells of enchantment, as it were, around my father, who would rather have acted with the greatest injustice towards his oldest friends, and his own son, than have subjected her to the smallest inconvenience. But matters between him and her were at length very much changed. Yet, I believe, my heart now suffered more from witnessing their mutual hatred, than it had for
merly done under its own multiplied vexations."
"It appears, then, that matters went on bitter bad in your household ?" en. quired the old woman with a discordant chuckle.
Antonio darted a keen glance at the hag as he replied, in a tone of confusion, "I know not how I have been led to speak, in this place, of my own misery and that of my parents.'
The old woman drained the red wine which stood mantling in her glass like blood, and with loud laughter replied" I know no such glorious sport -no such perfect heaven upon earthas is to be witnessed when we see a husband and wife, once a most loving couple, now living together like cat and dog—tearing, scolding, and banning one another like two tigers, and both ready to devote themselves to Satan, provided by doing so each can annoy the other, or break the band that unites them. That, my boy, is the divinest spectacle that human life affords, and greatly is the sport euhanced if we know that the pair, in the early delirium of their passion, broke through every law of God and man in order to come together, and to tie the bands which they now abominate so heartily. That, believe me, is a high festival for Satan and all his powers, and is celebrated as a jubilee throughout hell with tinkling cymbals. now, touching these family affairs of yours- But I must hold my tongue
perhaps I might say too much." Crescentia looked sorrowfully towards the astonished Antonio. "Never mind her," whispered she. "She is drunk, miserable woman.”
But the old woman's words had powerfully recalled to the mind of Antonio the past, with all its dismal scenes. The gloomy day came back upon his soul in which he had seen his stepmother on her deathbed, and his father, in despair, cursing the hour of his birth, and entreating forgiveness of the spirit of his first wife.
"Have you nothing more to tell us?" asked the old woman, arousing him with these words out of his deep reverie.
"What more can I have?" said Antonio, bitterly. "You appear to know all about me, or to have learnt it by means of some sort of second sight. Need I tell you that it was our old servant Roberto who poisoned my stepmother, stirred up to revenge by
her dislike of him, and that he afterwards endeavoured, most accursedly, to fasten the crime on my father? He escaped from prison, scaled the wall of the garden, and, in the grotto there, plunged his dagger into my father's heart."
"Roberto! the old Roberto!" cried the hag as if in high glee; "ay, ay, what is there that one does not live to learn! This Roberto was in his early years a right good hypocrite-to all appearance a most holy dog; but he is now become, as I hear, a lad of the most determined metal, He stabbed him in the grotto, too?-well, it is wonderful how all things hang together. In that same grotto your father often sat with his first bride in the early years of their love, and there did he first swear to her eternal constancy. But drink, my son, drink, and go on with your story."
"I swore to avenge my father's death," said Antonio.
"Quite right," answered the old woman; revenge, revenge is a sweet and precious word!"
"But Roberto," added Antonio, "had escaped, and was nowhere to be found."
"What a pity!" cried she. "And now the thirst for revenge drives you through the world in pursuit of him?"
"It does. I have traversed Italy and searched every city, but as yet have discovered no trace of the murderer. The fame of Pietro d'Abano at length made me a sojourner in Padua. I wished to learn wisdom from his lips; but when I was introduced to the family of Podesta".
Now, speak out, child!"
"I know not what to say. I know not whether I am mad or dreaming. There I beheld the daughter of that house, the charming, the lovely Crescentia and here also I behold her very self. Surely that funeral ceremony was a bad unseasonable jest, and surely this disguise, this flight into the wilderness, is just as ill-timed a deception. Discover yourself, discover yourself to me, my dear delightful Crescentia; do you not know that my heart lives only in your bosom? Wherefore subject me to this cruel trial? Perhaps your parents are in the next room, and hear all that we are saying. Oh! if so, let them be called in. I have now suffered enough from this terrible test, which has been like to drive me mad." The pale Crescentia gazed upon
him with such an unutterable woefulness of expression, that tears forced themselves from his eyes. "The man is surely drunk!" said the old "Come, tell me, is the daugh
ter of Podesta dead? And when did she die?"
"This very evening,” answered the weeping Antonio," I met her funeral." "Is it possible?" cried the old woman, delighted, and filling herself another glass. "That will be good news for the family of Marconi in Venice."
"Why so?" asked Antonio.
"Because they are now the sole heirs of the wealthy Podesta. This is what that crafty family wished, but scarcely could have hoped ever to be." "Woman!" cried Antonio, with renewed astonishment, "you know every thing!"
"Not quite every thing," returned she, "but some things; and witchcraft, let me tell you, has something to do with it. Do not be too much shocked: but it was not for nothing that these Florentine gentry wished to bring me to the stake. Look me in the face, youngster, and brush aside the locks from your forehead. There now, give me your left hand-now your right. Well, that is strange and wonderful!—a terrible danger impends over you, but if you survive it, you shall again behold your beloved one."
"T'other side the grave!" sighed Antonio.
"T"other side the grave!" shouted the old woman, reeling with intoxicacation "T'other side-what means that? I say on this side of it. T'other side, indeed! The grave has no t'other side. What words fools make use of!"
Antonio was about to give her an angry answer, when Crescentia threw upon him such a beseeching glance, as much as to say, "Spare my mother!" that his indignation was completely disarmed. The old woman now began to yawn and rub her eyes, and at length, overpowered by her repeated draughts of strong wine, she sank down fast asleep. The fire was extinguished on the hearth, and the lamp was burning low. Antonio stood meditating on his strange situation, and Crescentia was sitting at the window on a low footstool. At length the wearied youth put the question-" Where am I to sleep?"
There is a chamber above us,"