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eleven-Cookham church clock struck twelve—and still I lay awake, with maledictions on my lips, and Mr. Bell the object of them. But I did not hear one o'clock strike, from which I infer either that my tyrant left off snoring, or that exhausted nature sent me to sleep in spite of him.
It is beautifully said that there is compensation in all things, and to a certain extent I admit that the saying is true. But then comes the question of continuance.
“ Heaviness,” says the Psalmist,“ may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
Does joy, however, last the whole day through? Is it of equal length with the previous sorrow? After all, our sensations are to be measured, not by their term of duration, but by their intensity. I, at least, was reprieved from suffering while I slumbered; nay, more, I was rapt in Elysium, for my dreams were of waving corn and rustling boughs and shining streams, the objects which had charmed my waking senses being reproduced in sleep.
How long I slept, it is impossible for me to say ; I should suppose not more than half an hour, for when I woke, though the dawn breaks early in July, it was still dark. And under what circumstances did I awake?
While the ripple of murmuring waters was in my ears, while they were yet filled with the songs of birds, the sounds instantaneously changed into the most fearful bellowing with which they were ever greeted; my bed rocked to and fro as if convulsed by an earthquake ; violent blows, apparently dealt at random, threatened to drive in the panelling of the partition; and then came frantic oaths, as it seemed from different voices, mingled with stifled cries, more dog-like than human. I sat up in my bed affrighted - I own it, affrighted.
“ There are burglars in the next room,” I said ; "they are murdering Mr. Bell! He wronged me grievously yesterday—this very night-but I must rush to his assistance !"
I jumped out of bed, but too energetically, for my whole weight came upon a mouldering plank, which gave way, and one foot was caught as if
Meantime the struggle in the next room went on, and now, as I strove to extricate myself—desisting only through pain-I could distinguish the words which were uttered.
“I'll do for you !" shouted a burly voice.
“ Seize him by the tail!"-" Wring his neck !"_"Damage his crooked beak!"-"Close up his everlasting eyelids !"-"Smother him with sage and onions !" shrieked a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, a seventh, an eighth, a ninth; and “Baugh, waugh, waugh!" closed the infernal clamour.
“What on earth can this mean?” I said, making another effort to get away. “All these fellows—with a dog, toomcan't have got into the house to murder one poor fellow. They must be Bedlamites, not thieves !"
“Aha! you would, would you !" exclaimed a voice, which I thought bore some resemblance to that of Mr. Bell; “but here goes ;
I'll strangle you! Bel and the Dragon-Bel and the Dragon-hooray!"
in a trap.
A heavy body fell with tremendous violence on the floor, there was a deep groan, and another violent scuffle,
I tore away my foot, scraping the skin off every toe; but I was free, and in the passage in an instant. The brisk waiting maid was at the top of the stairs, and other faces peered lower down, all gaping with fear. Regardless of appearances, I snatched a light from the trembling girl,the shouts and groans were repeated, -I turned, and rushing against Mr. Bell's bedroom door, I burst it open,
I beheld a most extraordinary scene.
In the middle of the floor, rolling over and over, like a stranded porpoise, was the semi-nude form of Mr. Bell; clutched under, one arm was a pillow, into which, as he rolled, he dug his right fist, with all the vehemence, if not with all the skill, of a prize-fighter ; the bed-clothes were strewn over the room, the curtains were torn down, chairs displaced and broken, and all was in dire confusion; but Mr. Bell was the only occupant of the chamber.
" I see how it is," I exclaimed. “He has had a terrific nightmare. That roast pork and crackling did it !"
And, while yet he was heaving his mountain frame, and dealing frantic blows with his disengaged fist, I dashed the contents of a jug of water clean over him.
The effect of this application was marvellous. Like a wheel suddenly stopped, Mr. Bell's gyrations were suspended. He stopped midway in a desperate movement, and sat up on the arrested part. " Hallo! hallo !” he shouted, but now in his natural voice—“I
I say, what's the matter where am I-who are you—what are you doing this for ?”
“ To awaken you from a troublesome dream-that's all. You have roused the whole house with your noise."
“ Have I ?” said Mr. Bell, looking round him with a troubled air. “I believe you're right. I dreamt I was fighting with-with-it gives me the shivers to think of it--oh, I know you now--yes--it's all your fault -I should never have done it if you hadn't have told me that devil of a story about Bel and the Dragon !"
“Mr. Bell,” returned I, gravely—though it was with some difficulty I kept my countenance“ the fault was yours.
If you had dined moderately on that roast pork and crackling, and left enough for me, you never would have had the nightmare. I now beg to return your compliment, and wish you good night-a much better one than you allowed me and others to have."
We were very good friends next morning, and breakfasted together. And so ended the Adventure of Bel and the Dragon.
THE STORY OF FRANCESCO NOVELLO DA CARRARA.
AN EPISODE IN ITALIAN HISTORY.
VIII. A DOMESTIC sorrow now occurred to the noble lord, which for a while overwhelmed him with grief. The Lady Madonna Taddea died in Padua on the 23rd of November, 1404. It was happy for her thus to escape the troubles which were thickening around her husband, but such an affliction was calculated to depress him at a moment when every nerve ought to have been, and was, strained to extricate himself from the toils of his enemies.
Savello's retreat was but a stratagem to throw Carrara off his guard, for having bribed some traitors at Stra, he and his army were guided through an undefended passage into the rich territory of Piovado di Sacco, the granary of Lombardy as it is called.
Carrara hastened to stop his further progress, but was wounded pain. fully in the hand during an engagement, and was forced to withdraw from the command of his army, which was repulsed, and the country abandoned to the pillage of Savello's mercenary troops.
In the Veronese the arms of Padua were likewise unfortunate. Francesco di Gonzaga and Giacopo dal Verme, generals on the side of Venice, had gained almost all the fortresses. The inhabitants cared little for the House of Carrara, and aided, rather than retarded, the progress of their enemies. Treachery was rife on all sides, in the court and in the camp, but its direful influence was not confined to Padua; it infected the Venetian army likewise, and through losses and divisions it was reduced to no more than twelve thousand men.
This was cause sufficient to raise the hopes of Carrara, who now possessed about sixteen thousand men, and he began to indulge in anticipations of a great and permanent success.
The Venetians were encamped at Nogara, and their position was one of peril, for were the banks of the Brenta to be cut, retreat would be impossible. Francesco saw this, and felt sure of achieving a great victory with such means at his disposal.
He could not take the field in person, as his wound was yet unhealed, but he communicated his design to his generals, Francesco Terzo and Count Manfredi di Barbiano.
A quick march was undertaken to Nogara, which place was reached on Christmas-eve. The soldiers were eager to be led to battle, for they were inspired by hopes of success, and anxious to retrieve their glory. The Paduan generals sent a trumpeter, with gauntlets of defiance, to challenge Savello to combat on the morrow, Christmas-day. He accepted the challenge, and the soldiers received the news that he had done so with shouts of joy.
A messenger on horseback came late that same evening from the Venetian
camp He was laden with presents to Manfredi from Savello. This mark of courtesy at such a moment might have raised suspicion had
it not been customary in those days to interchange presents between the combatants.
Savello sent some luxuries for the table—four unplucked geese, watermelons, and some flasks of Malvoisie. The bearer said that he was charged by his master to deliver one injunction, and that was," that the feathers should not be eaten.” This speech brought a smile to Manfredi's cheek, and he graciously accepted the presents, which contained a bribe against which Italian cupidity was not proof.
When Francesco Terzo, at break of day, was marshalling his forces into line, he was startled by receiving Manfredi's refusal to take the field, and still more surprised to see the troops commencing a retreat.
There was nothing to be done but to return ignominiously to Padua, where the traitor was seized and condemned to perpetual banishment.
The commencement of the year 1405 saw the disaffection of Nicolo of Ferrara.
Always wavering in his alliance to his kinsman, he could not longer resist the pressure of enemies without, and famine and rebellion within his capital
A treaty was concluded between Ferrara and Venice, the articles of which were well calculated to humiliate the former.
Carrara was grieved at thus losing the support of his son-in-law and sole ally, but he was yet more grieved by the treachery of his natural brother, who had formerly shared the dangers and difficulties of his wanderings, and had since benefited by the return of his good fortune.
Venice, with her usual subtle, underhand conduct, had succeeded in turning Giacomo from his brother by means of fair promises. The seigniory offered him 10,000 ducats, the pillage of ten wealthy houses in Padua, and flattered him by the promise that he should be enrolled as % member of the grand council
, and should be presented with a magnificent palace in Venice itself. Giacomo could not resist the temptation, and would have betrayed his brother and delivered Padua into the hands of her enemies, had not the diabolical plot been found out, and its instigator seized in time. He denied the crime imputed to him, but confession was torn from him upon the rack. Afraid of the cruel death which awaited him, as the just reward of his unmanly and wicked conduct, he put an end to his existence whilst confined in the Giants' Tower, by setting fire to some straw, the thick smoke of which soon suffocated him.
The minor conspirators were carried to the place of execution, riding backwards upon asses, and were then hanged by one foot to a gibbet, their heads downwards.
This is the only instance of severity recorded of Carrara. That he had terrible provocation must be allowed, and that the meditated crime, being not only against himself, but also against his people, merited a severe judgment, is very true; still, when we consider that Giacomo's sons, acting under a strong feeling of patriotism, were the denouncers of their father's intended treachery, we cannot help feeling that some leniency ought, or at least might, have been shown.
The barbarity of the punishment inflicted on the accomplices may ascribed more to the times than to the individual, such things being only too common.
Enough of this, however; sorrows and perplexities are thickening
around Carrara, and the ultimate fate which Giacomo would have accelerated is not far distant.
Disaster followed disaster. Florence, his old ally, promised Francesco her aid as soon as the war with Pisa should have an end; but immediate relief was necessary to save Padua, and there was not any forthcoming.
The Venetian invaders came nearer and nearer; the danger was so pressing that Carrara thought it advisable to place his younger children in safety at Florence. He accordingly sent Ubertino and Marsilio thither, together with his natural children and whatever he possessed of greatest value, such as precious jewels, and the sum of 80,000 florins, which he had succeeded in amassing. This done, his mind was more at rest, and he waited calmly for the result of this disastrous conflict.
Francesco Terzo was with him in Padua, and was his greatest support, whilst Giacomo had the command at Verona, and, if unsuccessful, it was not the want of spirit or courage that made him so. Giacopo dal Verme and Gonzaga pressed the attack upon
that town with such vehemence, and the citizens were so ill pleased at being put to such straits for a lord about whom they cared so little, that Giacomo Carrara scarce hoped to be able to retain possession of the place. Anxious to secure his wife's safety, he procured a safe-conduct for her and some attendants, that she might retire to Florence.
The parting between the Lady Belfiore and her husband was a very tender one; perhaps the difficulties of their situation made them fear for the future, and raised up misgivings in their hearts that this was their last embrace. Alas! such forebodings were but too true.
On the 25th of May, 1405, Castel Caro fell into the hands of the Venetian fleet, and the territory of Padua lay open to the attack of the enemy. Paolo Savello led his troops up to the walls of Padua, and commenced the siege of that devoted capital on the 12th of June. But we must return to Verona, and recount the fate of the younger,
and first victim of the brave family of Carrara.
An assembly of the people took place in Verona on the 22nd of June, in the large square of the city; and though they still wore the arms of the House of Carrara, they declared that, rather than endure the horrors of an assault, they would capitulate. Giacomo had always conducted him. self well towards them, and to secure him from molestation they procured a safe-conduct, which professed to allow him to go free wherever he pleased. This was a mere form, as subsequent events will show.
Dal Verme's army marched into Verona on the 23rd of June, and the standard of Venice was hoisted above the tower to proclaim its change of masters. Giacomo was retained instead of being allowed full liberty, but he effected his escape, and had proceeded some distance, when, despite his disguise and the sheltering darkness of the night, he was discovered by some peasants, and led back to Verona. Here he was placed at the disposal of Gabriele Emo, the Venetian podesta, who immediately sent him to Venice under a strong escort, where, on his arrival, he was thrown into the dungeons of San Giorgio. Very bitter must have been his reflections during the weary
months of his imprisonment. His own wrongs, and the total ignorance in which he was kept of what was passing without his dungeon-walls, must have preyed heavily upon his mind, more especially when he was but too fully