The Romance Of Giovanni Calvotti
by David Christie Murray
THE ROMANCE OF GIOVANNI CALVOTTI.
By David Christie Murray
From Coals Of Fire And Other Stories By David Christie Murray In
Three Volumes Vol. II.
Chatto &Windus, Piccadilly 1882
CHAPTER I.IN THE ATTIC.
I live in an attic. I am in the immediate neighbourhood of a great
tavern and a famous place of amusement. The thoroughfare on which I can
look whilst I sit at my window is noisy with perpetual traffic. In the
midst of London I am more of a hermit than is that pretentious humbug
who waves his flag at passing steamers from his rock in the Ægean. I am
not a hermit from any choice of mine, or from any dislike of men and
women. I am not a hermit because of any dislike which men and women may
entertain for me. In my time I have been popular, and have had many
friends. If I could find it in my heart at this moment to face some one
of those friends, the necessity for a continued hermitage might pass.
If I could find it in my heart to write to one of them I might close
this lonely vigil to-morrow. Let me confess the truth. I am ashamed of
myself, and I can appeal to nobody for assistance. I have gamed away
the whole of my substance, and I am a broken man. It would be possible
to do something better for myself if I could venture into the streets.
But my sole possessions in the way of outer clothing are one pair of
too-ancient trousers, one pair of tattered slippers, one fez, and one
poor old dressing-gown.
My estimable Uncle round the corner has the rest. Perhaps I am less
a hermit than a prisonera prisoner over whom that sternest of
janitors, Poverty, holds the key.
I am a little proud of my English, and I do not think you can have
yet discovered from my style of expression that I am not a native of
this country. Permit me to describe myself.
I am an Italian and a gentleman, and my age is thirty. My main fault
is, that I am able to do much in too many directions. I play admirably
upon several instruments, and my little original compositions are
admitted to show great undeveloped talent. My verses in four languages
are also admitted to show great undeveloped talent. As a painter or a
sculptor I might have made fame certain. I am merry and generous, and
slow to offence, an unmeasured braggart, careless about money matters,
without dignity, but the soul of honour. I am also your obedient
servant. Permit me so to subscribe myselfYour obedient servant,
My attic is uncarpeted, and its general aspect is sordid. It
contains a bed, a table, a chair, a chest of drawers, a grand piano, a
violin, a violoncello, my pipes, my tobacco, my writing materials,
andme. Stay! Hidden for the moment from my glance beneath the grand
piano are the tools by which I live: my easel, my porte-couleur, my
palette, canvas, and brushes. My estimable uncle round the corner is
not a judge of art. It is my weakness that I cannot paint bad pictures.
I linger sometimes for a whole day hungrysometimes even without
tobaccotouching and again touching the ripened beauties of my canvas
child, before I can dare to leave it. I am a hungry amateur, but that
is no reason why I should be false to the principles of art. Like my
playing upon four instruments, and like my verses in four languages, my
painting is admitted to show great talentas yet only partially
developed. Upon each of my works my estimable uncle advances me the sum
of twelve shillings and sixpence. I paint one picture per week. In
consideration of the restricted character of my wardrobe, my landlady
is so obliging as to send my works to the only dealer with whom I can
at present do business. I had never known until this morning who it was
that acted as my ambassador. I have told you already that I am of a
merry temperament. I snap my fingers at evil fortune. I despise the
goddess Circumstance. Seeking to do me an evil turn this morning she
has benefited me, and I am contented in spite of her. Good gracious! Is
a man to lose everything because his stomach is empty? The goddess
Circumstance shall not keep my heart empty, let her keep my shelves as
bare as she will. My Lady of Circumstance, Giovanni Calvotti proffers
to you a polite but irrevocable defiance!
This morning my canvas child was a landscape. This afternoon it was
an inglorious smudge. It is now on its way back to the landscape
condition, and will have revived all its glories by to-morrow. It was
noon when I rang my bell.
'Madame,' I said to my landlady, in my cheerful Italian manner,
'will you again extend to me your courtesy?'
My landlady is not an educated woman, but she is a good creature,
and has a delicate and refined susceptibility. She recognises in me a
gentleman. She reveres in my person a genius to which I make no
pretension. I am not a man of genius. A man of genius does one thing
supremely well. Some men of exceptional talent do many things
admirably, but nothing supremely well. I am a man of exceptional
talent. Pardon the modest candour which is compelled to assume the garb
My landlady looked at my canvas child, and then at me, and laughed.
'To Mr. Aaron's, sir?' Asking this, she put her hands upon the edges
of the framework of the canvas.
'Yes, madame,' I answered, for we have always the same formula on
Fridays at noon. 'To my estimable uncle round the corner.'
'Anything more than usual?' my landlady asked me.
'No, madame,' I answered. 'A loaf, a pound of coffee, half a pound
of bird's-eye tobacco, the ticket from my estimable uncle, a receipt
for the week's rent, and the change.'
My landlady laughed again and said, 'Very good, sir.' Then she went
downstairs with the picture, and I felt unhappy when my canvas child
was gone, and was fain (an idiom employed by your best writers) to
solace myself with my violin. So far there was nothing to mark this
Friday morning from any other Friday morning for the last nine weeks.
It is now nine weeks that I have been a hermit. I was very hungry, and
was glad to think of the coffee and the loaf. I should have told you
that my habits are very abstemious, and that I am admirably healthy on
a low diet. My native cheerfulness, my piano, my violin, my
violoncello, my canvas children, and my pipes, all nourish me like meat
and wine. I played upon my violin a little impromptu good-bye to my
landscapea melodious farewell to a sweet creation. The time seemed
long before my landlady returned, and when I put back my violin in its
case, I heard a sound of crying on the stairs. I opened the door and
looked out, and there was a little English angel, whom I had never
before seen, sitting upon the topmost step, close to my attic door,
crying as if her heart had broken.
'What is the matter, my poor little maid?' I asked very tenderly,
for I know that young girls are easily frightened by strangers.
She looked up with eyes like the skies I was born under. The pretty
pale cheeks were all wet, and the pretty red lips were trembling, and
those beautiful blue heavens were raining as no blue skies ought to
'Ah, come, my child,' I said to her; 'how can I help you if you do
not tell me what is the matter?'
'Oh, signor,' she said, with many sobs and tears, 'I have spoiled
your beautiful picture.'
She held it upmy canvas childall besmeared with mud. I could not
resist one exclamation of sorrow. The news was too sudden for my
self-possession to remain. But when I saw that the little English angel
began to weep afresh at this exclamation, I longed for one moment to be
able to get out of my own body, that I might chastise a poltroon so
un-philosophical. I took her by the hand instead, and led her into this
room and made her sit down, and, whilst I sponged the picture with cold
water, made her tell me how the accident had happened. For I thought,
in my Machiavellian Italian way, 'If she should go away without having
quite familiarised herself with this unhappy incident, she will always
be afraid of me.' Therefore I lured her on.
'Mrs. Hopkins asked me to take the picture to Mr. Aaron's,' she
began, still sobbing. 'I was just passing the corner when a gentleman
leaped out of a cab. The cab was moving at the time, and I did not
expect to see anybody jump from it. The gentleman missed his footing
and stumbled against me. I fell down and the picture fell face
downwards on the pavement, and a man who was passing by trod upon it.'
Now, I invite you to observe that these sentences are in no way
remarkable. Yet I felt compelled to say
'Most admirably and succinctly put!'
For the little girl was very pleasing, and she looked very pretty
and innocent and distressed. And if you had employed a professional
orator to make the statement, he would have been a thousand miles
behind her in grace and straightforwardness, and in everything that
makes human speech beautiful and admirable. When I had removed the mud
from my canvas child I found that its countenance was badly scratched.
So I busied myself in putting up my easel and in setting my palette.
'Oh, signor,' said the poor child, 'I am so sorry.'
Then she cried again.
'Mademoiselle,' I replied, with charming gaiety, 'it is not your
fault at all. It is the doing of another lady, an old enemy of mine.
The other lady has been trying to spite me, mademoiselle, for several
years. She is powerful; she has hosts of servants. She plunges me into
all manner of terrible scrapes, and for all this I laugh at her and
snap my fingersSo.'
By the time I had said 'So' and snapped my fingers she had done
crying, and being very intelligent she understood my parable, and when
I laughed she smiled. I will tell you exactly what her smile was like.
I was painting: in the Welsh hills three years ago, with plenty of
money in my pocket, and a very great enthusiasm for art in my soul. I
strayed out from the hotel I was staying in one beautiful moonlight
night. I had rambled far, when it began to rain and grew very dark with
clouds. I sat under a rock upon a big stone by the side of a little
lake, and lit my pipe and waited for the rain to cease. And while it
was still raining a little, the clouds divided for one second, and the
moonlight swam down the lake from one end to the other. That was her
smile; and when I saw it I seemed to see the lake again, and to hear
the rain and the rustling of the trees, and smell the scent of the dead
leaves. The moonlight stayed on her face only a second. She grew grave
and sad again, and came timidly to me where I was at work. 'Will it be
much trouble to you to mend it?' she asked. 'Will it take long?'
'Not long, mademoiselle,' I answered; 'I shall finish it to-day.'
I am gifted by nature with a delicate organisation. It is not
possible for a man to be a gentleman without something of the quality I
desire to indicate. I observe intuitively. I saw that my distressed
companion desired to say something, and I saw also that what she
desired to say would be embarrassing to me. It was also plain to my
refined observation that she would be happier if she could only go
gracefully. I relieved her of this trouble
'We will challenge Madame Fortune again in the morning,
mademoiselle. You and I will beat her this time. We will co-operate
'Oh yes,' she said, 'do let me take it in the morning. I will
'And now,' I said, 'you will think me an ogre, and will fancy that I
am going to imprison you unless I let you go.'
I opened the door, but she lingered, struggling with that
embarrassment which feared to embarrass me. For she is a lady just as
certainly as I am a gentleman, and fine natures understand each other.
I could see her make up her mind, and I resolved therefore not to be
'But, signor,' she said, with more firmness than I had expected,
'the tobacco and the coffee and the loaf?'
'Mademoiselle,' I said, 'the coffee and the tobacco and the loaf
loom dimly from the future. They will come in good time.'
But, oh, the little girl was brave and tender-hearted and
honourable. She was a little Englishwoman, with beliefs in duty. And
yet she would sooner have faced ten lions than me, with my Italian
courtesy and my uncomplaining good temper.
'Mrs. Hopkins,' she said, 'will lend me aa shilling, and I'
From that moment I respected her.
'Mademoiselle,' I answered, 'you are a lady, I am a gentleman. We
have both the misfortune to be poor. We have both the admirable good
fortune to be proud and honourable. You are brave and good, and your
instincts are delicate. You will permit me to ask you not to humiliate
'But, signor,' she urged, 'it is very hard for you to go'
'My good-hearted, dutiful little English lady,' I took the liberty
to say, for I was very much in earnest,' it is not at all hard for me
to go without the coffee and the tobacco and the loaf. Above all, I do
not lose my self-respect or touch my pride when I go without the coffee
and the tobacco and the loaf. And now, mademoiselle, since it is our
scheme to rout my lady enemy in the morning, we will despoil her of her
triumph now by not caring for her or it, and by snapping our fingers at
Whilst we had talked I had closed the door, and now I crossed over
to my picture and began to work again. She still lingered, watching me
whilst I painted.
'Are you fond of pictures?' I asked her, to divert her thoughts.
'I have not seen many, but I am very fond of some of them.'
'Would you like to look at those?' I said, pointing with my brush to
a portfolio on the piano.
She opened the portfolio and looked through my sketches. I saw with
pleasure that she did not race over them, but that she stopped and
looked long at some. I could see from where I stood that they were the
best, and I said, 'The young lady has taste and discernment.'
Suddenly she clapped her two hands together, and said
Then she came to me with a sketch in her hands, and her face was
'Did you paint this, signor?'
'Yes, mademoiselle, I painted that. Why do you ask?'
'Poor old place!' she said very softly, without knowing that she
said it at all.
It was a picturesque old house in Surrey. The house stood in a
hollow, and the road wound up past it on to a long rolling wold. (That
is the beautiful word your poet Tennyson uses. The country-people, the
peasantry, use it also.) She had cried so much that her eyes were ready
for tears again at almost anything. When she looked at me they were
brim-full, but they did not run over.
'We lived here with papa,' she said, 'till he died.'
Then two big tears brimmed over and ran down. I committed an
indiscretion: I was sorry for her, and I kissed her. She drew away with
much dignity and said
'I have stayed too long. Good morning, signor.'
I blushed. She was so much a child, and I feel myself so old, that I
had not thought it any indiscretion. And now I remember that I have
been writing of her as a child. She is quite a grown girla young
lady. She is perhaps more than seventeen years of age. I was a brute
beastan insensateto frighten her. Before I could say anything she
I abused myself in my vehement Continental way, and then I began to
work. The picture was but little hurt, and before daylight was over it
was almost repaired. But I had heard the clock strike seven, and my
estimable uncle round the corner retires at that hour into the country,
and will have no business again until nine o'clock in the morning. So,
to prevent myself from thinking too much of the coffee and the tobacco
and the loaf, I sat down to my piano and played. One would have thought
that my sitting down to play was a signal, for I had scarcely begun
when my landlady tapped at my door and brought a note. She looked shyly
at the picture, and hoped it had not suffered much. I told her gaily
that it was all the better for the accident, as in reality it was. Then
I read my note.
'Miss Grammont presents her compliments to Signor Calvotti,
and requests that he will oblige her by his company at tea
this evening. Miss Grammont begs that Signor Calvotti will
forgive this intrusion, and will forget that no formal
introduction has taken place between them.'
I read this over twice, and then asked the landlady
'Who is Miss Grammont?'
'She's the sister of the young lady who had the accident with your
picture, sir,' said the landlady. 'She's a middle-aged lady, sir, and
very badly lame. But she's got an angel temper, and ways that sweet as
I never saw anybody like her. I do hope you'll go, sir. She's on the
'Present my most distinguished compliments, madame, and say that I
will do myself the honour to be there. At what hour?'
'Tea's getting ready now, sir,' said the landlady.
When she had gone, I washed myself and put on a clean shirt, and
went downstairs. At a door at the foot of the stains stood the young
lady who had by misfortune brought about this adventure. She led me
into the room and to a lady who sat upon a sofa. The room was
absolutely bare of ornament, and I knew that they were very poor. But
it was not possible to think for a moment that Miss Grammont was
anything but a lady. She was old-fashioned and precise in her attire,
and she is perhaps forty years of age, but her face is as beautiful as
a seraph's. She is calm and sweet and quiet. She is like a Venetian
nightsweet and venerable, and moving to touches of soft music. I took
tea with them botha simple meal. We talked of art and of Italy. I
brought down my sketches and my violin at their request. I played to
themall manner of thingsand they did me the honour to be delighted.
I am now in my own room again, and have expended my last candle
whilst I have given myself the charming task to set down this day's
adventures. My candle is so nearly burned out that it will not last
another minute. I foresee that I shall go to bed in the
CHAPTER II.ON THE SECOND FLOOR.
I have just found this manuscript among my music, and to charm a
lonely evening I will continue it. I remember that the candle went out
so suddenly that I lost the place of my pen, or I would have completed
the sentence. In the morning I had other things to think of. My
landlady came up for the picture and took it away. In five minutes I
heard a step upon the stairs, and opening my door I saw CeciliaI have
not told you my little English angel's name until nowwith the picture
in her hands. For a moment I thought that my inestimable uncle had
refused to accept it, but I saw by her smiling face that it was no
misfortune which had brought her back.
'There is a gentleman downstairs, signor, who wishes to buy your
picture. He is waiting in the hall. Shall I send him up? It is the
gentleman who jumped from the cab yesterday and caused the accident.'
I besought her not to take so much trouble, and myself ran
downstairs. There was an Englishman, broad-shouldered, ruddy, and
iron-grey, with bushy eyebrows and blue eyes and a square chin.
'Do you wish to see me, sir?' I asked him.
'If you're the painter of the picture I saw just nowyes.'
'It is something of a climb upstairs,' I warned him.
He took the warning as an invitation, and went upstairs, stepping
firmly and solidly in his heavy boots. When he reached my room, he took
his hat off and I saw he was bald. He had a good face, and a high
forehead, and he was evidently of the prosperous middle classes.
Mademoiselle had left the room, and had placed the picture upon the
easel. He looked round the room, and then faced the picture, square and
business-likelike an Englishman.
'Ah!' he said, 'that's the picture, is it? H'm. What do you want for
I told him I had never yet sold a picture, and did not know what
price to set upon it.
'What have you done with the rest?' he said, looking round the room
again. 'This isn't the first you've painted.'
His bluntness amused me, and I laughed. He saw my circumstances, and
there could be no service in disguise. I told him of my estimable
'H'm?' he said, lifting his eyebrows. Then suddenly, 'What do you
get on 'em?'
'Twelve and sixpence each.'
'How many has he got?'
'Nine,' I answered.
'Got the tickets?' he said, examining the picture on the easel.
I produced them from a drawer.
'Five pounds fourteen,' he said to himself. 'A pound 'll pay the
interest. Call it six ten, roughly. Got anybody you can send out for
I rang the bell, and by-and-by my landlady appeared.
'Look here,' said the stranger, taking out a purse. 'Take this six
pounds ten and that lot of pawn tickets, and send somebody to the
pawnbroker's to bring the pictures out.'
My landlady took the money and went downstairs. In ten minutes she
came back again with a boy behind her, carrying all my canvas children
home again. During this time the stranger said nothing. Now he took the
change in silver and copper from my landlady, said 'Eight,' and nothing
more, and then set the pictures one by one on the easel and looked at
them all in turn. When he had satisfied himself, he turned on me again.
'Calvotti'I helped him with my name.
'Now, Signor Calvotti, what do you want for the lot?'
I entered into his business humour as well as I could.
'Permit me to ask what you are prepared to give?'
'Oh,' he said emphatically, 'I can't be buyer and seller. How
much for the lot?'
I thought it over. I knew the pictures were goodthat they were
better than many I had seen sold for high prices. I spoke quietly, but
with inward desperation.
'A hundred pounds.'
My landlady clasped her hands.
'What?' said the stranger sharply. 'Say seventy-five.'
My landlady absolutely curtsied, with her hands clasped.
'If you think that is a fair price,' I said.
The stranger looked at me for a minute, then turned to my landlady.
'Pardon me a minute,' he said, waving a backward hand to me. Then to
the landlady; 'What sort of gentleman is this? Dissipated dog, eh?'
'Lord bless you, no, sir,' said the landlady; 'the steadiest
gentleman I ever had in the house.'
'H'm,' said the stranger, facing round on me. 'Want a hundred pounds
for 'em, eh? Very well. If I can't get 'em for less. Pen and ink
anywhere? Ah, I see.'
He wrote a cheque standing at the table. Then he produced a card.
'That's my address. Glad to see you, if you'll call. Any Friday
evening after eight. I've got a cab at the door, and I'll take these
away at once.'
I was embarrassed by a terrible suspicion. I had read and heard much
of London fraud.
'You will pardon me, sir. You are too much a man of the world not to
forgive a little caution in a man who is selling all he has.' Then I
stumbled and could not go on.
'Ah!' he said, 'quite right. Stupid of me, to be sure. Wait a
He seized the cheque and his hat, and went heavily downstairs. When
he was at the bottom of the first flight he shouted, 'Back directly,'
and so went down the other three flights, and out-of-doors.
My landlady opened the window, and looked out.
'He's gone into the bank, sir,' she said; then ran to the head of
the stairs and screamed for somebody to open the door.
'He's coming out of the bank, sir,' said the landlady after an
interval of renewed observation. He came upstairs, solidly, and into
'Count that,' he said, and placed a small bag on the table.
I counted the contents of the bag, but my fingers trembled, and I
was confused. I made out one hundred and six pounds.
'No,' he said, 'make no mistakes at the bank?
He counted the money rapidly.
'One hundred and five.'
'We agreed for one hundred, sir,' I said pushing five pounds across
'Guineas,' he said brusquely. 'Always guineas in art. Don't know
why, but always is. Oblige me, ma'am, by carrying these downstairs.'
My landlady took the pictures in her arms.
They were defended from each other by strips of thin cork at the
corners, and they made a clumsy bundle. I had not looked at my client's
card until now. Whilst he gave his directions to the landlady I took it
up, and learned that his name was John Gregory; and that he lived in
Westbourne Terrace. When my landlady had gone, he spoke to me, with
another glance round the room.
'Been hard up?' he asked.
'I have been totally without money,' I answered him frankly, for I
began to understand him.
'These things belong to you?' he asked again, waving his hand at the
piano and the violin and the violoncello.
'Yes,' I answered.
'Why didn't you sell 'em? Better than starving.'
'I would sooner starve than part with any of them,' I told him.
He turned sharply upon me.
'My mother played them.' There seemed no reason, for all his
brusquerie, why I should not tell him this.
'Didn't play the fiddle, did she?' 'Divinely,' I told him.
'And the 'cello?' 'Yes.'
'Singular,' he said. 'Oh, ah, foreign lady. Yes, of course. Not at
all remarkable. Good morning. Don't forget the Fridays. Glad to see
As he was going out he caught sight of the portfolio of sketches. He
stopped and turned them over without remark or apology until he came to
one which pleased him. It was a large sketch, sixteen inches by twelve,
in water-colour, and had some little finish. He held it up and took it
to the light.
'I meant to say just now, but I forgot it, he said, turning the
picture upside down and looking at it so'I meant to tell you that
you're making a mistake in painting so small. A larger canvas would
suit your style. Let me have this, now, in oil. Say eighty by sixty.
Give you fifty pounds for it. What do you say?'
What was I likely to say? I told him I would do my best.
'I know that,' he answered. 'Couldn't help it. Good morning.'
This time he really went away. I was confounded by my good fortune.
I scarcely knew what had happened, until my landlady came upstairs
again and asked me if she should get me something to eat. Then I
remembered that I was ravenous. She brought me eggs and ham and coffee;
and when I had finished breakfast I despatched her for a portmanteau
which lay in the care of my estimable uncle, and for certain parcels of
clothing and boots and jewellery. Twenty-three pounds went in this way.
I spread my clothing about the room to freshen it after its long
confinement. Then I dressed, and was delighted to feel once more like a
gentleman. I clapped my hands, and sang, and rattled gay things on the
pianoforte. Then I put on my hatnewly recovered from my estimable
uncleand went out to buy canvas and materials for my new picture. I
brought these things back in a cab, and carried them upstairs. When I
got them there, I found that I had no room for so large a canvas. I had
managed to get the small canvases and the little field-easel on which I
painted into a good light, but with this it was impossible. I spoke
about it to the landlady.
'If you'll excuse me, sir,' she said, 'I think I could propose an
arrangement as would suit. The ladies below give warning last week,
because the rooms they've got is too expensive.
Now, this little room would do nicely for 'em, with the next, which
I shall be glad and thankful for a chance of giving Mr. Jinks his
warning,' (Jinks was a drunken tailor, my next-room neighbour.) 'Now,
sir, if the rooms below will suit you'
I told her I was sure they would, and asked her if she would broach
the question with the ladies. She went down at once, and came back
shortly to ask when it would be convenient for me to remove my things.
I said 'at any moment,' There was so little property between us all
three, that it was transferred without much trouble in a few minutes.
The landlady agreed that Mr. Jinks should have other accommodation
secured for him in the house until the end of the next week; and for a
single day the ladies were to make themselves at home in this one old
room of mine. Miss Grammont came up the stairs with difficulty, and
'When shall you wish to remove your piano, signor?'
Now, I had already proposed to myself a great pleasure.
'Permit me, madame,' I answered, 'to leave it here for a little
time, until I can arrange my rooms.'
'Certainly,' the lady answered.
'And if madame or her sister play, it will improve the piano to be
played upon, and I shall be vastly gratified.'
Cecilia thanked me with so much energy that I was assured that she
was a devotee to music.
'Would she play?' I asked; and she consented.
She was shy before me, but so eager to put her fingers on the keys
that she conquered all diffidence and went at once to the piano.
When she had played a Sonata of Haydn's, I turned in my enthusiastic
way to her sister and said how I rejoiced to have been able to gratify
'Genius is a very large word,' said Miss Grammont. Cecilia was
playing something else, and had not heard me.
'Genius is a large word, madame,' I replied. 'But is not that
a large style? Is it not a noble style?'
Cecilia, she allowed, played very finely.
'Finely, madame? 'I respectfully protested'she should play among
the seraphs. You shall allow me, madame. I am no mean musician. As a
critic I am exact and exacting. Permit me, madame, that I bring my
violin, and play once with Mademoiselle Cecilia.'
She consented. I brought my violin and we played. Cecilia's musical
memory is prodigious. Mine is also retentive and precise. But she had
too much inventive genius for precision, unless the notes were before
her, and sometimes I corrected her. Next, this delicious interlude
over, I begged that the ladies would do me the honour to dine with me.
'You must not be extravagant in your good fortune, signor,' Miss
'Trust me, madame,' I answered. 'If the day has dawned, I will
hasten no new night and make no artificial curtains.'
Then I went down to paint, and at seven o'clock they joined me at
dinner. The meal was sent in from the famous tavern hard by, and I
think I may say we all enjoyed it. And then came music, and for an hour
we were happy.
CHAPTER III.AT POSILIPO.
Ay me, for one hour we were happy, and for many hours thereafter.
But when your heart is glad, when you drink the wine of joy, there is
Madame Circumstance keeping the score, and she brings in the bill at
the end of the banquet, and you pay it in coin of sorrow. She is my old
enemy, this Madame Circumstance, as I have told you. It is not always
that I can defy her. Who is it that is always brave? Not I. But I shall
be brave again in the morning, and the battle will begin again, and I
shall win. Pah! I have won already. I have smoked my pipe, and the
incense of victory curls about my head just now, at this moment. There
is no friend like your pipe. None.
Ten minutes ago I was despondent when; I sat down to write. I broke
off and smoked, and I am my own man again. (Regard once more the
beautiful English idiom, and the smiling soul which so soon after
battle can take delight in verbal felicities.)
Now I will go on with my story. It takes a long time to write. It
will be twelve months to-morrow since I last looked at the pages of
this narrative. I may not touch it again after to-day for a year. Who
I went to Mr. Gregory's house in West-bourne Terrace on Friday, and
I continued to go there on Friday evenings until the close of the
season. Mr. Gregory is no more my patron, only: he is now my friend,
and his friendship is firm and true. I shall be honest in saying that
to me those Friday evenings were very beautiful. It was so great a
change from the hungry and lonely nights in my attic, to find myself
back again with ladies and gentlemen, myself well dressed and at home,
and no longer hungry. There I was admired and fêted, and all
people made much of me. I played and sang, and the people talked of my
pictures, and everywhere I was asked out, until I could have spent my
every hour in those calm social dissipations which make up so large a
share of life in all refined societies. For my friend Gregory is a man
of refinementwithin himselfand his friends are all artistic and
literary.. But why should I talk about him? Everybody knows him.
Gregory the millionaire; Gregory the connoisseur in wines, in pictures,
in old violins, in pottery; the Connoisseur in humanity at whose
gatherings the wisest and the most charming meet each other. Gregory
the ship-builder, iron-master, coal-owner; architect of himselfa
splendid edifice. That such a man should have bought my pictures was of
itself a fortune to me. I am on my way to get riches, and my balance
at-the bank is already respectable. Why, then, should I be at battle
with Madame Circumstance? You shall see.
One day at the beginning of this year he called to see me. I was
hard at work making the best of the few hours of light. He sat and
watched for a full hour, talking very little. At last he said
'I can trust you, Calvotti. I want you to do me a service.'
'I am very heartily glad to hear it,' I answered.
'You won't understand what I want you to do unless I tell you the
whole story,' he said, after a pause. Then he remained silent for some
'Put down your brushes and listen,' he went on.
I obeyed him. He lit a cigar, poured out a glass of claret, crossed
his legs, and talked easily, though at times I could see that he felt
'I have had a good many friendly acquaintances in my life, and one
friend: he died five years ago. I was abroad at the time, in Russia,
laying down a railway. My friend, whom everybody supposed to be fairly
well-to-do, died poor. There was one lump sum of money in my hands,
placed there by him for investment, and that was almost all he had. By
some terrible mischance, the acknowledgment I had given for this lump
sum was lost, and his relatives were in ignorance of it. Six months
after his death I came home, and finding that nothing had been said of
the money he had entrusted to my care, I went to his lawyer and spoke
to him about it. My friend had been a widower for the last dozen years.
He had three children, and no other relatives in the world. After the
sale of his effects, poor fellow, the two girls disappeared utterly.
The son, who was a reckless, good-for-nothing scamp, was my poor
friend's favourite, and whatever the old man died possessed of went by
will to him with a mere injunction to look after his sisters. He had
not been heard of for more than a year, but was believed to be
somewhere in Italy. The scoundrel professed to be a painter, and might
have made a decent sign-writer, if he hadn't been a drunkard. I could
not find even him, and the girls have been advertised for, vainly. Now,
the lawyer has just received a letter from this young ne'er-do-weel,
who wants to borrow money. I will tell you what I want you to do. If
this scamp learns that ten thousand pounds belong to him, he will take
every penny, though he left the girls to starve. But I want things so
managed that he shall share with his sistersa thing he will be very
reluctant to do. Now, will you go to Naples, find this man out, get to
know from him the whereabouts of his sisters, manoeuvre him, and, if
possible, induce him to accept half? Will you remember that there is
absolutely no receipt in existence for the money which lies in my
handthat I am not legally bound to pay a penny of it? That is my only
power over this fellow. Keep my name dark. Let him know there is a
certain sum of moneynever mind telling him how muchin the hands of
a certain person in London, who is willing, on his written undertaking
to divide with his sisters whatever his father may have left, to pay
over to him his moiety. Let him understand distinctly that the person
in whose hands the money lies will not pay him one farthing without
this bond unless he produces the receipt given to his father. When you
have secured his written undertaking, will you bring him to me? I will
be answerable for all your charges in the matter.'
I had listened attentively to this story, and I said Yes, at once. I
added, that it seemed to me a very easy task and an honourable one.
'I want it done at once,' he said, 'because I know the girls must be
in a very poor position wherever they are. When can you start? There is
a tidal train at eight o'clock this evening, and the man is now in
Naples. I have the papers here all ready: you can study them on the
'I will start to-night,' I answered.
'Thank you, Calvotti, thank you,' he said heartily. 'Do you remember
how I excused myself for overturning that little girl who was carrying
the first picture I ever saw of yours to your estimable uncle round the
corner, as you called him?'
'Yes. There was a man in the street you were anxious to speak to,
and you jumped from a cab to catch him, and lost sight of him through
'That was the man I want you to seeCharles Grammont.'
I had only time to catch at the name and weave Cecilia and her
sister into this romance with one throw of the shuttle, when there came
a knock at the door.
'Come in,' I said. The door opened, and a man entered. Seeing my
patron and myself, he drew back.
'I have made a mistake,' he murmured awkwardly. 'I wish to find Miss
Grammont. I was told she lived here.'
'Talk of the devil!' cried my patron. 'Charles Grammont!'
'That is my name,' said the new-comer, standing awkwardly in the
doorway. 'You have the advantage of me, sir.'
'H'm!' said my patron, returning to the manner he had first worn in
my presence. 'Likely to keep it too. Good-day, Calvotti. You'll
remember that little commission. Things may perhaps be easier than I
thought they would be.' He muttered this to himself so that the
new-comer did not hear him. He pushed uncourteously past the young man
and went out.
'You will find Miss Grammont upstairs, sir,' I said. 'If you are Mr.
Charles Grammont, the brother of the ladies upstairs, I shall be glad
to speak to you in an hour's time, on a matter of much advantage to
The young man had a disagreeable swagger and a bloated face. His
swagger was intended to hide the discomfiture in the midst of which
that sort of man's soul lives always.
'If you have any thing to say to me,' he answered, still holding the
handle of the door, 'you can say it now, or save yourself the trouble
of saying it at all.'
'Sir,' I replied with some asperity, 'it is not a matter which
concerns me at all, but you.
Your late father left some money in which you are interested, that
He looked bewildered.
'My father left no money,' he stammered.
'Your father left a considerable sum,' I answered, 'and if you will
call upon me in one hour from now I will inform you of the conditions
attached to your receipt of it. Meantime, the stairs are dark, and I
will give you a light.'
'No, thank you,' he said. 'I won't trouble my sisters until I've
heard what you have to say, I'll call again in an hour's time.'
He went away, closing the door behind him. I, sitting there, and
listening to his footsteps, heard him speak to somebody on the stairs,
and heard two sets of footsteps blunder down the ill-lighted staircase
together. I took the papers Mr. Gregory had left behind him and looked
them through. They were short and simple, and I mastered them in five
minutes. Then I went back to my painting and worked until I heard a
knock at the door and admitted my new acquaintance. He had a companion
with him, and, since I must do him justice, I must say that his
companion was sevenfold worse than he. He was a countryman of my own,
as I knew by his face and voice. They had both been drinking.
'You know my name, it seems,' said young Grammont, 'and I shall be
glad to know yours.'
I was decided that nobody but our two selves should be present when
I spoke to him, lest any slip of mine before a witness should blunder
the matter I had in charge.
'My business with you, Mr. Grammont, is of a private nature, and I
cannot discuss it in the presence of a third party.' I was plain and
outspoken, because this kind of man does not comprehend innuendo.
'This is a chum of mine,' he answered. 'He's quite welcome to hear
anything about me.'
'Pardon me, sir,' I told him quietly; 'but I can only discuss this
matter in private.'
'All right,' he hiccoughed. 'You'd better slide, Jack. Evado, you
blackguard! Hidi! git! chabouk!'
'You are merry, my friend,' said my unwholesome countryman, who was
very drunk indeed. 'But I am not a Hamal that you speak to me so.'
'There's half-a-crown,' said young Grammont, throwing a coin on the
carpet. 'Wait at the Red Lion. It's all right.'
My unwholesome countryman took himself out of the room with the
half-crown, and went downstairs in a series of dangerous slides and
'Now, then,' said my client, throwing himself insolently upon the
sofa and lighting a pipe. 'You can say what you have; to say, and get
it over as soon as you like.'
One is not angry with this kind of person. 'If you are in a fit
condition to listen, sir, you may know all about the matter in five
minutes. Your father just before his death invested a large sum of
money. The receipt for that sum of money was lost, but the gentleman
with whom he invested it is honourable and is ready to pay it. He will
only pay it on one condition, and that is that it be divided into equal
portions between your two sisters and yourself.'
He sat up with the pipe between his finger and thumb.
'Whatever my father left,' he said, 'belongs to me.'
'Then,' I answered, 'claim it!'
He lay down again as suddenly as if I had shot him.
'You will remember,' I said, 'that the receipt is lost, and that you
have no legal claim upon the gentleman who now holds the money. He is
willing to pay it over at once, provided you divide it with your
'Who is he?'
I made no answer.
'What right has he, whoever he is, to dictate terms to me? What
right has he to suppose that I shouldn't make fair terms with my
sisters, and make them a decent allowance, and all that sort of thing,
if I had the money?'
'I know nothing of the matter, sir,' I answered, 'except that on
your written undertaking to divide whatever property your father may
have left, you can take half of it, and that without such an
undertaking you can get nothing.'
'I'll sign no such undertaking!' he cried angrily. 'Why should I be
juggled out of money which belongs to me? If I choose to make my
sisters a present, why, I'll do it, and if I don't, I won't.'
'Very good, sir,' I said; 'when you have changed your mind, and wish
to draw the money, you can apply to me again.'
'What's the amount?' he asked sulkily, after a time.
'I am requested not to mention the amount,' I answered, 'but it is
'How do you come to be mixed up with my affairs?' he asked.
'I don't even know your name. You're not a lawyer. How do I know that
the whole thing isn't a stupid joke? How do I know there's not a trap
of some sort in it?'
'All these things are for your own consideration, sir,' I answered,
as coolly as I could. 'I am acting to oblige a friend, and if it were
not for my desire to oblige a friend'
There I stayed. He glared at me, and rose-to his feet.. 'Well!' he
said, 'what then?'.
'I should take no trouble at all in the matter, and should be glad
to be rid of you.'
'Oh!' he said jeeringly, and then sat down again. By-and-by he
looked up and shook a forefinger at me with an air of drunken
perspicacity and resolution which was amusing.
'Don't think,' he said, 'that I can't see through your little
game. You're living in the same house, are you? You've got my sister's
affairs into your own dirty fingers, eh, my boy? She's getting to a
nice manageable age, isn't she? And you've found out that some money is
coming to me after all, and you think me idiot enough to sign away half
of it for you and that young'
'Stop, sir, if you please. You shall commit what folly you like in
respect to the business in hand, but I have no time or taste for a
drunken brawl. You may call upon me in the morning. You will forgive me
if I suggest that you are not quite fit for business at present. I have
the honour to bid you a good afternoon.'
'Oh!' said he, 'I'm quite fit for business, if there is any business
to be done. Have you any objection to my consulting a lawyer before I
I disregarded the sneer, and said that I could have no objection to
such a course.
'Will you come with me?' he asked.
'No,' I told him. There was the case already in his hands. I was
powerless to alter its conditions. He could tell the story to his
lawyer for himself.
'I will give you a reply to-morrow, he said.
I gave him my card, and he went away. I had no doubt of his final
acceptance of the terms offered to him, and when on the morrow he
returned, he proclaimed himself willing to accept one-half of the sum
left in Mr. Gregory's hands. The lawyer he had consulted was the man
who had acted professionally for his father during the latter's
lifetime, and it was he also to whom my directions ordered me. I
telegraphed to Mr. Gregory at his offices in the city, and then drove
to Russell Square with young Grammont. At the lawyer's we were detained
for a few minutes, and before wo could get to business Mr. Gregory
arrived. The matter was then gone into, and everything was over in
half-an-hour. Mr. Gregory gave young Grammont a cheque for five
thousand pounds, and took the receipt for it. Then we bade the lawyer
good-day and went out together. Young Grammont took a cab and went away
in high feather, whilst Mr. Gregory and I went to my rooms, and sent a
message to Miss Grammont. In a few minutes we were admitted, and it was
my felicity to make the announcement of the pleasant change in their
fortunes. Miss Grammont recognised Mr. Gregory at once, and both she
and Cecilia accepted this stroke of good fortune with a calm gladness.
'Why did you hide yourself in this way?' asked Mr. Gregory.
'What could we do?' Miss Grammont answered him. 'We have never been
in actual want, and you know that we were always very foolishly
'Very foolishly proud, the lot of you,' said Mr. Gregory. 'You knew
very well how much I owed to your father's help and advice when I was a
young man. You know that Lizzie would have given you a home, and have
thought herself more than paid by your society and friendship.' (Lizzie
was the late Mrs. Gregory.) 'Forgive me,' he said a minute later. 'Had
I been in your place, I should probably have done as you have done. But
now to business. Fifteen thousand pounds remain in my hands. Of this
sum only ten thousand honestly belongs to you two.'
'How is this?' asked Miss Grammont.
'Mr. Calvotti told me just now that my father had left but ten
thousand pounds in all.'
'For investment, madamfor investment. I am a business man and I
have invested it and doubled it. That graceless brother of yours who
has gone away with his five thousand now will be back in a year's time
to borrow. He will still have five thousand to draw upon, but I hold
his discharge in full, and I shall cheat him for his own good and
button him down tightly to a weekly allowance. Money is cheap just now,
Miss Grammontdirt cheapand you can't do better than leave this in
my hands at five per cent, interest. That's five hundred a year. But
all that we'll talk about, in future. Meantime, that's the first
half-year's allowance'laying a cheque upon the table'and the first
thing to be done is to leave this place and come straightway to my
house until you can look about you and settle where to live.'
'You are just as generous and just as imperious as you always were,'
said Miss Grammont. 'We will come this day week.'
'Come now,' said Mr. Gregory. 'My sister will make you comfortable.
Poor Jane's an old maid still, and lives with me.'
'Not now,' she said. 'There are many things to be seen to before we
can leave here.'
I saw her glance at her own shabby dress, and he saw that also.
'When you like,' he said cheerfully. 'But this day week is a
bargain. At what time? Say two o'clock. I'll be there to meet you.
Good-day, Calvotti; good-day, Miriam.' Then he turned and kissed
Cecilia. 'Good-day, Baby. God bless my soul! it seems only the other
day since you were a baby. And now I suppose you'll be getting
married in a week or two.'
Cecilia blushed and laughed, and Mr. Gregory turned round with a
droll look to me, and then took his hat and went in his own solid and
determined way out of the room. Even in his walk the determination of
his character declared itself. He was strong and square and firm, but
within very gentle. Oh, you English! you English! you are a great
people! Great in your stolidity and solidity, before which I, who know
what lives beneath them, can only bow in a fluttering, butterfly
respect! Great in your passions, which you repress so splendidly that
to the superficial eye they look only like affections! Solid, stolid,
much-enduring people, with corners all over you, accept my profoundest
Now it befalls me that I am impelled to tell why, with a reputation
already considerable and fast increasing, and with a balance at the
banker's in the same beautiful conditions, I yet remained in that poor
studio of mine, and in those unfashionable apartments. It was not that
I am penurious, although I have changed my old harum-scarum habits with
regard to money.
It was notbut why should I go on saying what it was not to pave
the way to saying what it was? It was, then, that in that house had
lived that little English angel who is a woman, and Cecilia. I will set
it down in one line. She is all the joy I have and all the sorrow. And
now I will set down one thing more that I may see it in plain black and
white, and study it there until I drive its meaning into my thick head
and my sore heart, and can at last smoke calm pipes over it, and be
once more contented. There is no hope for methere is no hope for me:
none in the world. For my little Cecilia is in love already, and I
would not for twenty thousand times my own sake have her in one thought
I was walking upstairs one night a month before the events I have
just related, when I met a man coming down in the dark. I did not at
all know who he was, but I knew that he had been to Miss Grammont's
rooms, because I was already near my own door, and nobody but Miss
Grammont lived above me. The stranger said Good-night as he passed me,
and I returned his salutation. He stopped short.
'Have I the honour to address Mr. Calvotti?' he asked.
'That is my name,' I answered, in some astonishment.
'Ah, then,' he said, turning back again, 'if you can spare me just a
minute, I will deliver a letter I have for you.'
We went upstairs together, and into my studio. I lighted the gas and
took the letter. It came from Miss Grammont, and introduced Mr. Arthur
Clyde, an old friend who had found them out by accident, and who had an
especial desire to know me.
'This is not a good time at night to make a call,' he said, with a
frank and winning smile; 'but I'm an artist myself. I've seen your
work, and I've heard so much about you, that when I found that Miss
Grammont knew you I couldn't deny myself the pleasure of making your
He was very frank and pleasant in his manner, very fresh and English
in his look, very handsome and self-possessed. Not self-possessed in
the sense that he had assurance, but in the sense that he did not seem
to think about himself at all, which is the most agreeable kind of
self-possession, both for those who have it and for those who meet
We talked about indifferent things for a minute or two, and then he
lit a cigar and rose to go.
'I have heard of your kindness to Miss Grammont and little Cecilia,'
he said, turning at the door. 'You'll forgive me for saying a word
about it, but they're such dear old friends of mine, that I can't help
thanking anybody who has been good to them. Good-night, I'll run in
to-morrow, if I may. Good-night.'
He came again next evening, and we dined together. He is a fine
young fellow, and I got to like him greatly. He is fiery and
enthusiastic and impulsive, and all his adjectives are superlatives,
after the manner of earnest youth. But he is good-hearted and
honourable to the core. We took to each other naturally, and he used to
run up to my studio every evening at dusk. Very frequently we used to
go upstairs and spend an evening with the ladies. Then we had music,
and sometimes young Clyde would sing, and we would all laugh at him,
for he knew no more of music than a crow. And yet I could see that it
was to him Cecilia played and sang, and to her he listened as though
she had been an angel out of heaven. When I played he had no great joy
in the music, but when she playedah! it was plain enoughthen Love
gave him ears, and the music she created had power over him. This was
hard for me, but I have my consolations.
I can stand up and say one or two things which it is well for a man
to say. It is one of them that I do not whine like a baby because I
cannot have my own way. It is another that I have strangled jealous
hate and buried deep the baseness which would have led me to endeavour
to estrange these hearts for my own purpose. I tell myself at times,
'You have done well, my friend, and some day you will have your reward.
And if the reward should not come, or if it should not be worth having,
whyyou have still done well.' For it came to pass one night when I
was quite convinced, that I came downstairs to my own room, and sat
down and pulled a certain dream-house to pieces and beat the sawdust
out of the foolish dolls who had had their abiding place in it. But, oh
me, my friends, it is hard to pull down dream-houses; and Madame
Circumstance exults over the bare rafters and the dismantled walls.
And, ah! I loved her, and I love her still, and I shall love her till
the day I die. But I am going to be an Italian old bachelor, with no
wife but my pipe and no family but my canvas children. Do you triumph,
madame? Do you triumph? Over my subdued heart? No! Over my broken life?
No! Over any cowardly complaint of mine? Over any envy of this good
young Englishman? No! no! no! No! madame, I was not born a cad, and you
shall not remould me. Accept, once more, my defiance!
Young Clyde came on the evening of the day on which the good fortune
of the ladies' had been declared. He received the news very joyfully,
but after a while he sobered down greatly, and when we took our leave
together he was very depressed, and had grown unlike himself, I asked
no questions, but he turned into my room and sat down and lit a cigar
and held silence for a few minutes. Then he said
'I say, Calvotti, old man, have you noticed that I have never once
asked you to my rooms?'
I had never thought about it, and I told him so.
'Will you come up to-morrow, in the daytime? Don't say No. I do
particularly want you to come. Say twelve o'clock. Will you?'
He seemed strangely eager about this simple matter, and I promised
to go. He went away a minute later, and next morning I walked to the
address he had given me. He met me at the door, and I saw that he was
pale and perturbed. I learned afterwards that he had not been to bed,
but had sat up all night harassing himself with groundless misgivings.
He led me to his studio, a fine spacious room, with a high north light.
He had a chair set in the middle of the room, and on the easel a large
'Now, Calvotti,' he said, speaking with a nervous haste which was
altogether foreign to him, 'I have asked you here to settle a question
which I cannot settle for myself. Sometimes I'm brimfull of faith and
hope, and sometimes I'm in a perfect abyss of despair. You know I've
been painting all my life, but I've never sold anything. Everything I
paint goes to the governor. Some of the things he hangs about his own
place, you know, and some of themmore than half, I supposehe has
cut into strips and sent back to me. He's a very singular man, and has
extraordinary ideas about pictures. But I've been working on one
subject now for some months past, and now I've finished it, andLook
here, Calvotti, I'll tell you everything. When I got here last night, I
found a letter from my governor telling me that my allowance is stopped
after next quarter-day, and that I must get a living by painting. He
always said he would give me the chance to make a living, and then
leave me to make it. Well, I'm not afraid of that, but I want a candid
judgment, becausebecauseWell, I'm engaged to be married, old man,
and I can't live on my wife, you know. And I want you to tell me
candidly whether there's any good stuff in me, and whether I can ever
do anything, you know.'
'You are engaged to Cecilia?' I asked him.
'Yes,' he said simply, 'I am engaged to Cecilia, and I want to begin
work in earnest now.'
'Let me look at your picture,' I said, and took my seat in the chair
he had placed ready for me.
He paused a minute as though he would have spoken, but checking
himself, he turned to the picture, drew away the cloth by which it was
covered, and passed behind me. The picture represented a garret room,
through the window of which could be seen the far-reaching roofs of a
great city. Against the window rose the figure of a girl who was seated
at an old grand piano. Her fingers rested on the keys, and her eyes
were looking a great way off. The face and figure were Cecilia's, the
garret was that in which I myself had lived, and the piano was mine.
The outer light of the picture was so subdued and calm that the face
was allowed to reveal itself quite clearly. I looked long and
carefully, guarding myself from a too rapid judgment. Arthur, as by
this time I had begun to call him, stood at the back of my chair. At
last he laid a hand upon my shoulder
'What do think about it?'
'Do you want my candid opinion?' I asked him.
'Yes, your candid opinion.'
'You will not be offended at anything I shall say?'
'No. I want an honest judgment, and I can trust yours.'
I used the common slang of criticism.
'Suppose, then, I were to say that the: composition is bad, the
colour crude, the whole work amateurish, the modelling thin and in
places, false, the'
'Don't say any more, Calvotti. I've been a fool, and the governor
has been right all the time.'
'If I said these things, you would believe them?'
'If you said them?' he cried, coming from-behind my chair.
'But do you say them?'
'Stand off!' I said, laughing. A man can rarely endure praise and
blame with equal fortitude. My young friend, you will some day paint
great pictures. In four or five hundred years' time great painters will
look at this and will reverently point out in it the faults of early
manner; but they will read the soul in itas I do now. You are a
creature of a hundred yearsa painter, an artist. This is not paint,
but a facea face of flesh and blood, with soul behind. And this is
not paint, but a faded brown silk. And this is not paint, but solid
mahogany. You have done more than paint a picture. You have made
concrete an inspiration. Your technique is all masterly, but it does
not overpower. It gives only fitting body to a beautiful ideaits
He blushed and trembled whilst I spoke. Englishmen do not often talk
poetryoff the stage. He answered
'No, really, Calvotti, old man, that's rot, you know. But do you
I spoke gravely then.
'My dear young friend, so surely as that is your work, so surely
will you be a great artist if you choose.'
'You bet I choose,' this young genius answered. He would sooner have
died, I suppose, than have put his emotions at that moment into words.
This is another characteristic of you English. You will sooner look
like fools than have it appear that you feel. You wear the rags of
cynicism over the pure gold of nature. This is a foolish pride, but it
is useless to crusade against national characteristics.
I was a little chilled, and I said in a business tone
'Well, we will see about selling this at once.'
'No,' he answered. 'I will not sell this.'
'No?' I asked.
'No,' he said again; 'not this picture,' And for one minute he
regarded it, and then shook his head and once more said 'No.'
'Well,' I answered, not trying to persuade him, 'I will ask Mr.
Gregory to look at it, and he will give you a commission for a work,
and then you will be fairly afloat.'
'Oh, thank you, Calvotti. What a good fellow you are!'
I was unsettled for work. My praise was hysterical and hyperbolical.
I could have wept whilst I uttered it. For though I had given up all
hope, and though I was glad to find that in art he was worthy as in
manhood he was worthy, yet it was still hard to endorse a rival's
triumph and to cut out all envy and stifle all pain. And now I had to
go home and to live beneath the same roof with Cecilia, and to see her
sometimes, and to talk and look like a friend. If you resist the Devil,
will he always fly from you? Is it not sometimes safer to fly from him?
And is there anywhere a baser fiend than that which prompted me to
throw myself upon my knees before her and tell her everything, and so
barter honour for an impulse? Brave or not, I know that I was wise when
that afternoon I packed up everything and went to say good-bye.
'I am ill,' so I excused myself, 'and I am a child of impulse.
Impulse says to me Go back to Italyto the air of your childhoodto
the scenes you love best. And I obey.'
'But you do not leave England in this way?' asked Cecilia.
'No, mademoiselle, I shall return. But, for a time, good-bye.'
They both bade me good-bye sorrowfully, and I went away. And
whatever disturbance my soul made within its own private residence, it
was too well-bred to let the outside people know of it.
And so it came to pass that I continue this narrative at Posilipo,
in my native air, within sight of smoking Vesuvius and the glittering
city and the gleaming bayold friends, who bear comfort to the soul.
CHAPTER IV.NELLE CARCERI
How do I come to be writing in a prison? How do I come to be living
in a prison? How is it that I, who never lifted a hand in anger against
even a dog, lie here under a charge of murder, execrated by the
populace of my native town?
I can remember that I wrote, when I took up my story, that it might,
for anything I knew, be a year before I should go on with it. It is
twelve months to-day since I set those words upon paper. I take it up
again, here and now, in dogged and determined defiance to that
Circumstance which has pursued me through my life, and which shall not
subdue me even with this last strokeno, nor with any other.
Let me premise, before I go on with my own narrative, that Charles
Grammont, with whose murder I lie charged, developed a remarkable and
unexpected characteristic. A reckless spendthrift whilst penniless, he
became a miser when he found himself possessor of five thousand pounds.
He had returned to Naples, and had for some time engaged himself in
drinking, to the exclusion of all other pursuits. But he drank sullenly
and alone, and had dismissed from his society that disreputable
compatriot of mine, Giovanni Fornajo, who had accompanied him to my
room on the evening of our first meeting. When I reached Naples I had
some trouble with this personage, who, with the peculiar faculty which
belongs to the race of hangers-on and spongers, had somehow found me
out, and came to borrow money. It was enough for his limitless
impudence to remember that he had once been within my walls in London.
I knew that to yield once would be to make myself a tributary to his
necessities for ever. I refused him, therefore, and dismissed him
without ceremony. He retired unabashed, and came to the charge again. I
was strolling along the Chiaja, when I saw him and turned into the
Caffè d'Italia to avoid him. He had seen me and followed. I professed
to be absorbed in the contents of an English journal, but he sat down
at the same table, and entered into conversation, or rather into talk,
for I let him have it all to himself. He talked in English, which he
really spoke very well, though with a marked accent. I paid but little
heed to him, and only just made out that he complained of the conduct
of his late associate, who had, so he said, borrowed money of him when
they were poor together, and had thrown him over now without repaying
'It comes to this,' he said, after a long and rambling discursion on
his wrong; 'when I was the only man in Naples who could speak English
and would have to do with him, he used me; and now that he is at home
here, and can speak the language, and has plenty of money, he will have
no more to do.'
'My good friend,' I said, breaking in, 'I will have no more to do,
since you prefer to put it so, I am tired of you. I do not desire to
know you. Oblige me by not knowing me in future.'
'Maledizione!' he said. 'But you are impolite, Signor Calvotti.'
'And you, Signor Fornajo, are only unbearable. I have the pleasure
to wish you goodbye.'
He rose and retreated, but returned.
'Signor Calvotti,' he said, reseating himself, 'I shall ask you to
do me a favour. You know Grammont and you know his friends. He will
listen to you where he will not look at me. Will you do me the favour
to speak for me to ask him to pay me?'
I thought I saw a way to be rid of him.
'How much does he owe you?' I asked him.
'Cento franchi,' he answered.
'Very good. Bring me pen, ink, and paper.'
He called one of the camerieri and ordered these, and I read quietly
until they came.
'Now,' I said, 'write to my dictation.'
He took the pen and wrote
'I have this day informed Signor Calvotti that Mr. Charles Grammont
owes me the sum of One Hundred Francs, and in consideration of this
receipt Signor Calvotti has discharged Mr. Grammont's debt.'
This he signed, and I gave him a bank-note for the amount.
'Now,' I told him, 'I do not in the least believe that Mr. Grammont
owed you anything, and if you come near me again I will use this
document. I have a great mind to try it now.' 'Ah, signor, sapete cosa
vuol dire la fame?' I own that touched me. I have known what
hunger is, and I could guess what it would do with a creature of this
kind. 'Go your way,' I said, 'and trouble me no more'he bowed his
head and spread out his hands in assent'but remember!'
'Signor Calvotti,' he said, 'I thank you, and I will trouble you no
Young Clyde had written to me saying that he was tired and
overworked, and that he needed a month's holiday, and meant to take it.
He had never been in Italy, and naturally proposed to join me in
Naples. During the whole ten months which had gone between my farewell
to England and my receipt of this letter from Arthur, I had striven,
and not unsuccessfully, to banish from my mind all painful and
regretful thoughts of Cecilia. Love is a great passion, but, like
everything else but fate, it is capable of subjection by a resolute
will. That soul, believe me, is of a barren soil indeed, wherein the
flower of love has once been planted, if the flower wither or can be
rooted up. But a man who gardens his soul with resolute and lofty hopes
can train the first poor weed of passion to a glorious bloom, whose
perfume is not pain but comfort. This is a base thing, that a man shall
say he loves a woman too well to be happy whilst she can be happy with
another. For me, my divine Cecilia looks down upon me in my waking
hours and in the dreams of sleep, a thing so far away that I can but
worship without a hope of ownership, or any longer a desire. I am
content, I have loved, and I have not been unworthy. O mia santissima,
mio amore no longermy saint for ever, my love no moreso you were
happy, I were happy. But there are clouds about you, though you know
Arthur had come to Naples by one of the boats of the Messagerie
Impériale, and had come to share my little house at Posilipo. He
brought with him kindest remembrances from Cecilia and from her sister.
I had mentioned them both freely in my letters, and had sent little
things through his hand to both of them now and then. My old patron,
Mr. Gregory, had given Arthur two or three commissions, and one of his
works had been hung on the line at Burlirgton House, side by side with
mine. In his old, frank, charming way he said
'If those old buffers on the committee had laid their heads together
to please me, they couldn't have done it more successfully than by
hanging me next to you, old man. When I went in and saw it there, I was
better pleased at being next to you than I was at being on the line.
I'm painting Gregory's portrait for next' yeara splendid subject,
I took him to walk that morning to the scene I had painted in the
work he spoke of,' He recognised it with enthusiasm, and we walked back
together full of friendship and enjoyment. He had one or two
commissions for Charles Grammont from his sisters, and asked me to help
in finding him. When I learned that the young Englishman was living in
the Basso Porto I was amazed, and when Clyde saw the place he was
'Has he got through all his money already,' Arthur asked me, 'that
he lives in a hole like this?'
'I am told,' I said, 'that he has become a miser, spending money on
nothing but drink, and living in a continuous sullen debauchery.'
Clyde faced round upon me as we stood in the doorway of the house
'I haven't seen the fellow for years,' he exclaimed, 'but can you
fancy such an animal being a brother of Cecilia's?'
'Odd, isn't it?' said an English voice from the darkness of the
stairs. 'Infernally odd!'
And Charles Grammont, bearded, bloated, unclean, unwholesome,
stepped into the sunlight and poisoned it.
'Who is this fellow?' asked Arthur quietly.
'Charles Grammont,' I answered.
'Charles Grammont?' he repeated; and then, hastening to obliterate
the memory of his unlucky speech, he plunged into an explanation of his
concerns with Grammont, and I withdrew a little. But in a moment I
heard Grammont's voice raised in high anger.
'And what brings Arthur Clyde acting as my sister's messenger? Could
they find nobody but a '
If I should repeat here on paper the epithets the man used, I should
be almost as great a blackguard as he was to use them. They were words
abominable and horrible. I know by my anger at them nowthen I had no
time to feel for myselfthat if a man had used them to me, and I had
held a weapon in my hand, I should have killed him. Arthur raised his
cane, and, but that I seized his wrist, he would have struck the
insulter across the face. It was an impulse only, and when I felt his
wrist relaxing I released it, and it fell down by his side.
'Come away, Calvotti,' he said, 'or I shall disgrace myself and do
this man a mischief.'
But if I could share at the moment in the feeling of anger which
Grammont's hideous insults had inspired, I could not and I cannot
understand the bitter and passionate resentment with which Arthur
nourished the memory of them. For days after, not a waking hour passed
by without a break of sudden anger from him when he recalled the words
to mind. I did my best to calm him, and in each case succeeded in
persuading him that it was less than useless to retain the memory of
insult so conveyed by such a man. But in a little while he broke out
again, and after a time I allowed him to rage himself out.
'Why did you restrain me?' he cried one day as we walked together.
'The ruffian deserved a thrashing. I care nothing for what he said of
me, but a man who could speak of his sister in that way is not fit to
live. For God's sake, Calvotti, let us go away somewhere out of reach
of this man. I am not safe. I hardly know myself. If I met him I should
kill him then and there.'
'My dear Arthur,' I said at last, 'this is childish, and unworthy of
you. The man is a ruffian by nature, and was mad with drink. Forget
him, and any mad and drunken thing he may have said.'
'Well,' said Arthur, with a visible effort, 'the blackguard
disappears from my scheme of things. I have done with him. There! It's
all over. What shall we do to-night? Let us go out together and look at
Giovanna's Palace by moonlight. A blow on the bay would do me good, and
you might find an inspiration for a picture. Who knows? Will you go?'
I consented, and we walked back to the town at once to make
arrangements. We secured a boat, and a bottle or two of wine and a
handful of cigars having been laid in as store, we started. On the way
to the boat, by bitter misfortune, we met Grammont. This wretched man's
drunkenness had three phasesthe genial, the morose, and the violent.
He was at the first when we were so unhappy as to meet him. He insisted
upon accompanying us, and I could see the passion gathering in Arthur's
face, until I knew that if some check were not put upon him there would
be an outbreak.
I took upon myself to get rid of the intruder.
'Well, Clyde,' I said, 'at the Caffe d' Italia at six. Till then I
leave you to your appointment. Good afternoon. Will you walk with me a
Arthur took my hint and went away. Grammont lurched after him, but I
took him by the sleeve and said I had something to say to him. He stood
with drunken gravity to listen, and whilst I beat about in my own mind
for some trifle which could be made to assume a moment's importance, he
forgot everything that had passed, and himself began to talk.
'You thought I should be through my five thou, before now, didn't
you, old Stick-in-the-Mud? Well, I've got the best part of it now, my
boy. They can't suck me in Naples, I can tell you. Not much they can't.
Look here! English notes. I don't care who sees 'em. There you are.
There's more than four thousand in that thundering book. Look here.'
He took from his pocket-book a number of English bank-notes for one
hundred pounds, and flourished them about and thumbed them over, and
laughed above them with drunken cunning and triumph. A man lounged by
us this minute, and took such special notice of us both that I was
compelled to notice him. He was a swarthy bearded fellow in a blouse,
like that of a French ouvrier. He did not look so particularly honest
that I had any pleasure in knowing that he saw the great bundle of
notes in Grammont's hands, and I said to Grammont hurriedly
'It is not wise to exhibit so much money in this public place. Put
The man still regarded us, until at last he attracted the attention
of my unwelcome companion, who turned round upon him, and cursed him
volubly in Italian.
The man, speaking with a very un-Italian accent, though fluently
enough, answered that he had as much right there as Grammont, and then
moved away, still turning his eyes curiously upon us at intervals.
'Look here,' said my unwelcome companion, 'I am going to have a
sleep on this bench,' He pointed to a stone seat on the quay, and
rolled towards it.
'You are not so mad as to sleep in the open air with all that money
about you,' I urged. Heaven knows I disliked the man, but one did not
want even him to be robbed.
'Oh,' he answered drunkenly, 'I'm all right,' and so lay down at
full length with his felt hat under his head, and fell asleep.
The man in the blouse still lingered, and I, knowing that he had
seen the notes, felt it impossible to leave Grammont alone in his
company. The Chiaja was very lonely just there.
At last an idea occurred to me, and I called the man. It was growing
so near to six o'clock that I was afraid of missing Clyde. I tore a
leaf from my pocket-book, scrawled a line to Clyde asking him to wait
for me, took a franc from my purse, and asked the man to take a
'message to the Caffè d' Italia, and there give it to the person to
whom it was addressed. Regarding the man's dress and the foreign accent
with which he had spoken just now, I addressed him in French.
'Pas du tout!' he responded. 'Je ne suis pas un blooming idiot.
C'est impossible. Allez-vous donc.'
'Ah!' I said, 'you are English. I beg your pardon. I suppose you did
not understand. I wish you to be so good as to take this note to the
Caffè d' Italia for Mr. Arthur Clyde. I will give you'
'I am not anybody's messenger,' the man answered, and walked away
There was nobody else within call, and I was compelled, therefore,
to resign myself as best I could. My efforts to awaken Grammont had
proved quite fruitless. I lit a cigar, and walked to and fro. The man
in the blouse also lit a. cigar, and paced to and fro, passing in every
journey the bench on which Grammont lay asleep. Suspecting him as I
did, I never took my eyes from him for a moment when he was near
Grammont, and he, in his catlike watch of me, was equally vigilant. At
last, growing tired of this watchful promenade, I addressed him
'It is of no use for you to linger here. You will not tire me out. I
shall stay until my friend awakes.'
'Oh!' he said, removing his cigar, and taking a steady look at me.
'You'll stay until your friend awakes, will you? Thenso will I.'
He began his walk again, and I, regarding the man more closely, had
formed a new idea.
This man suspected me of designs upon those bank-notes, I began to
think, and was possibly lingering here to guard a stranger, from some
such motive as my own. Still, it was scarcely safe to trust him alone,
and I was not disposed to do so. The idea of his suspecting me amused
me for a minute and then amazed me, but I continued my promenade as if
no such thought had occurred to me. So we went on until my watch marked
half past seven o'clock, when Grammont awoke. We were not far from the
cabstand, and I led him thither, assisted him to enter the vehicle,
gave the driver his half-franc, and bade him drive to the Basso Porto.
The man in the blouse followed, and watched closely all the time, and
my later belief concerning him was quite confirmed. Dismissing him from
my mind, I entered a biroccio and drove to the Caffè. Arthur had left
long since, with a message for me to the effect that he would be at
home at Posilipo at eleven o'clock. Perhaps he had gone to the Opera, I
thought, and with the intention of discovering him I wandered from the
Caffè. The evening was very beautiful, and I changed my mind. I would
roam along by the bay and enjoy the sunset, and give myself up to the
delights of the country. As I wandered on, my thoughts ran back to
Cecilia, and I had another inward battle with myself. I found myself,
in the excitement of my thoughts, walking faster and faster until I was
far from the city, and alone in a country lane with the moonlight. The
moon was up, and up at the full, before the sun was down; and so soon
as the gathering twilight gave her power, she bathed the landscape in
so lovely a light that even my sore and troubled heart grew tranquil to
behold it. I stood near an abrupt turning in the lane, and watched the
tremor in the soft lustre of the bay, which looked as though
innumerable great jewels rose slowly to its surface and there melted
and were lost, whilst all the time innumerable others took the place of
these dissolving gems, themselves dissolving in their turn, whilst
countless others slowly rose. Here and there was a light upon the
water, and here and there the shadow of a boat. And, far away, like the
audible soul of the sea, was the soft, soft sound of music, where some
boating party sang together.
To say that the cry came suddenly would be to say nothing. There
came a shriek of appalling fear close by, which tore the air with
terror. I took one step and listened. For a second I heard the rumbling
of carriage wheels at a distance, and not another sound, but that of
the faint music far away. Then came a foot-step at racing pace nearer
and nearer, then a trip and a long stagger, as though the runner had
nearly fallen, and then the headlong pace again. And then, with the
soft broad moon-light full upon his face, a man came darting round the
corner of the lane. I strove to move aside, but before I could lift a
foot he was upon me like an avalanche. I knew that we fell together,
and that the man arose and resumed his headlong course. I tried to call
after him, but found no voice. I tried to rise, but could not move a
limb. Then a sickly shudder ran through me, and I fainted.
* * * * *
Out of a sort of vaporous dream came the slow sound of carriage
wheels bumping along the ruts of the road; then a light which was not
of the moon; then a sudden pause in the noise of wheels and the sound
of a coarse, strong voice speaking in tones of great excitement.
'Body of Bacchus! What a night for adventures! Here is another of
The light came nearer, and another voice burst out in English, 'By
the Lord! That's the man!'
The voices both grew dim, and though they still talked, they sounded
like the noise of running water, wordless and indistinct. Then I felt
myself lifted into a carriage, and until I awoke here I knew nothing.
It was the jar of bolts, and the rattling fall of a chain, and the
grating noise of a key in a lock which awoke me. I turned and
recognised the man who enteredan officer, by name Ratuzzi, to whom I
had done some service in old days. I asked him feebly where I was and
how I came there.
'In the town gaol,' he answered gravely, and the solemnity of his
face and tone chilled me.
'In the town gaol?' I repeated. 'Why was I brought here?'
'I am very sorry, signor,' he said in the same tone. 'In whatsoever
I can serve you, you may command me. Shall I give orders to send for a
'Why was I brought here?' I asked again.
He made no reply, and weak and shaken as I was, I sat up and
reiterated my question.
'You are charged with the murder of Carlo Grammont.'
'Charles Grammont? Murder?' I repeated.
'Would you wish to see a doctor or an avvocato?'
I could only moan in answer.
'Charles Grammont murdered! Oh, my poor Cecilia! My angel and my
For the face of the man in the lane was the face of Arthur Clyde,
and the moonlight had shown to me, oh! too, too clearly, the blood that
smeared his brow.
CHAPTER V.LA TEMPESTA VA
I am remanded for trial.
There is a depth below all possibilities of pain and grief, even
before one reaches the grave. I am in that depth already, and I do not
believe that there is anything in the world which could touch me with
sympathy or with sorrow. I am not even annoyed at myself and my own
mental condition, as I surely have a right to be. My bodily health is
tolerable. I sleep well at night, and during the day I eat with fair
appetite. Some of my belongings have been brought from Posilipo here;
amongst them a small mirror. I am so much a stranger to myself in this
new-found calm and indifference, that I am almost surprised to find
myself unaltered outwardly. I am a little paler than commonthat is
all. My mind finds natural employment in the most trivial speculations
and fancies, and it is chiefly to save myself from this vanity of
thought that I write now of myself and my own concernings.
I have written at this little story of my own in poverty and in
success, in happiness and in sorrow, and it has come at last to seem
that the plain white paper before me is my only fitting confidant. Will
there ever come a day when I shall be able to read all its record
gladly? Past joys are a griefgriefs gone by are a joy to us. Who
knows what may come?
And so, poor Hope, you would spread your peacock wings even here?
Ah, go your way! You forget. Our companionship is dissolved. We are not
on speaking terms any longer.
I have not been plagued with any official severities, for Ratuzzi is
mindful of old favours. He has told me only this morning that my father
extended some such kindness to his father as that for which he bears
such grateful memory to me. It was a small affair; a mere matter of
money. Against my wish he brought to me a doctor and an advocate. I
submitted myself to the first, but to the advocate I declined to
He is a pale young man of five-and-twenty or thereabouts, this
advocate. He has a cleanshaven face of rare mobility, a mouth of
remarkable decision and sweetness, and eyes of black fire. The most
noticeable thing about him is his voice, which is not easily to be
characterised. You know the sub-acid flavour in a generous Burgundyso
nicely proportioned that it does but give the wine a grip on the tongue
and palate. That is the nearest thing I can think of to the singular
quality of this man's voice. The voice is rich and full; but there is a
tart flavour in it which emphasises all it says just as the acid
emphasises the riper flavours of wine. It takes the kind of grip upon
the ear that a file takes upon steel. Or, better than all, it takes
just that hold upon the ear which the violin bow takes upon the
strings. Ecco. There is my meaning at last. It is not possible that you
should escape from listening to this young man when he speaks. He is,
further, a young man whom nothing can abash. It is not singular, then,
since I am indifferent to all things now that although I declined to
listen to him, he stayed and talked, and after much trouble brought me
to talk with him.
He was right, after all.
'You are innocent, signor, and you decline to do anything to help
yourself? Permit me. No man ever did God's work in the world by
refusing to help himself. You have some reason for your refusal? What
possible reasons exist? Guilt? We will dismiss that at once.
Despair of establishing innocence? No. When the salt mines of
Sardinia are on one side a man and liberty is on the other, he does not
yield to despair. Ha! The impossibility, signor, of defending oneself
unless one criminates another? And that other a frienda lover? I am
right, signor. No gestures of denial can throw down a conclusion so
obviously firm. And now, suppose that it should not be necessary to
criminate another. Would you then consent to be defended? No? Well,
signor, I am not the accusatore pubblico, and it is no business of mine
to hunt down criminals. But, whether you will or not, I will get to the
bottom of this matter.'
'Are you so eager for a case, signor?' I asked him. 'I will pay you
more to leave me alone than you can ask if you defend me.'
I had meant to sting him into leaving me. But his pale face did not
even flush at the insult.
'I am engaged by my friend Ratuzzi, signor. Ratuzzi tells me it is
beyond dreaming that you should be guilty of murder and theft. He came
to me and besought me to make him grateful for all eternity by taking
up this case and clearing you from the suspicions which rest upon you.
I have promised him that I will do all in my power, and I will. You
will observe, therefore, signor, that whatsoever is done in this matter
is independent of your will, if you choose to have it so. I shall know
who committed this murder in a fortnight from now, and I shall only
retire from your defence if I prove you guilty in my own mind.'
'Signor,' I said in answer, 'I apologise for the insult I offered
you just now. But in this matter I am resolute. If it be the will of
God that I suffer innocently, I suffer. I am not anxious on that score.
It is not at all a matter for my consideration. I do not care whether I
am acquitted or found guilty.'
'Is it your wish that I should consult the other prisoner's interest
I looked at him blankly, whilst my heart stood still.
'The other prisoner?' I asked.
'The other prisoner,' he answered calmly. 'Is it he whom you desire
'Who is he?'
The advocate drew forth a bundle of memoranda, and turned them over
carefully and at his leisure. I did not dare to question him further,
and waited in an agony of suspense.
'That is the name,' he said'an English name.'
He placed his thumb and leisurely turned round the paper to me on
the table which stood before us. I tried to read, but all my pulses
seemed throbbing round my eyes, and I was dazzled and blind. He took
the paper up again, but I reached out my hand for it.
'I did not read the name,' I said. 'Permit me once more.'
He passed the paper again towards me, and I read
'John Baker. Claims to be an Englishman, and speaks in English only.
Is believed to be by birth an Italian, but a naturalised British
subject. A person of notoriously evil character.'
This at least was not Arthur. I breathed again, and for a moment a
wild hope sprang up in my heart. It died again directly. Ah, if I could
have believed that he was innocent! But the evidence of which I was the
sole repository was beyond all doubt, beyond all hope.
'No,' I said. 'I know nothing of this man. What is the evidence
'The evidence against him is the knowledge that he was poor until
the night of the murder, and has since suddenly become rich. Further,
that a pocket-book found in his possession was smeared with blood. The
book contains a large sum of money in English notes, and is believed to
have belonged to the murdered man.'
I had never supposed that Arthur had robbed the body of his dead
'If this be proved, Signor l'Avvocato,' I said, after some time of
silence, 'what punishment will fall upon this man?'
'The salt mines will not be enough for him,' the advocate answered.
'He will probably be shot. You see, signor, he has denied his
nationality, and that of itself will embitter the national feeling
'Then,' I answered, 'these suspicions must not be bolstered by false
proofs. This man has, perhaps, robbed a dead body, but he has not
'Signor Calvotti,' said the advocate, the black fire burning slowly
in his eyes, and a slow flush creeping to his pale forehead whilst he
spoke, 'what mystery surrounds your share of this matter I can only
faintly guess. But I know that it is not a mystery to you. I have found
out this, at least, since I have been herethat you know the murderer,
and that you determine to shield him, even at your own expense. Now, I
warn you that if you deny me your confidence, I will convict the real
man, whosoever he may be.'
He fixed those slow-burning eyes upon me as he said this, and waited
for an answer. I responded to his words and to the fixity of his gaze
'Give me your confidence, and I will serve your turn,' he said
again. 'Are you the guilty man?'
'Signor Calvotti,' he began again, after another pause, during which
his eyes were shadowed by his drooping brows, 'you shall trust me yet.
Any secret suspicion given to me is buried in the grave. Any secret
certainty of knowledge is buried equally. A confession of your own
guilt, the declaration of a friend's, shall be entombed here'he laid
his hand upon his breast'and know no resurrection.'
I answered nothing, and he rose to go.
'That which you hide,' he said as a last word,' I will discover for
myself. Given freely, it would be used for your own cause. Wrested from
mystery, it shall be used for mine.'
'Come here again,' I answered, 'three hours later, and I will answer
you in one way or the other.'
'Good,' he responded, and signalled for the door to be opened.
Ratuzzi himself answered the loud knock he gave, and my friendly gaoler
asked me how I fared, and if I stood in need of anything.
'Nothing just now but time to think a little.'
He closed the door, and locked and chained and bolted it, and then I
heard the footsteps of the two grow fainter and fainter until silence
came. Then I lit my pipe and poured out a glass of winefor in these
respects I am allowed what I chooseand sat down to think. But I found
it hard to give my thoughts to anything. There was a hollow somewhere
in my mind into which all serious thoughts fell jumbled. I felt neither
pained nor confused, but only vacuous. I battled with this feeling
until I subdued it. Then I grasped the situation firmly. What object
have I, here and now, and everywhere and always, next to the rectitude
of my own soul? There is only one answer to that question: Cecilia's
happiness! How to secure that here?how to save it from the horrible
perils which everywhere surround it? Is it to be done by securing her
union for life with her brother's murderer? If I know one thing of
Arthur Clydewhom I know wellit is this: that such a crime as that I
charge him with, committed under whatsoever provocation, will weigh him
down for ever, and make life a perpetual hell to him. The hideous
injustice of a union with such a man she must not suffer, whatsoever
else she suffer. And that she, like the rest of us, must suffer,
is too clear. But of this I am assured: To learn that her lover is her
brother's murderer, and not only that, but that by his silence he
accuses a friend who is innocent, would break her heart beyond all the
remedy of hope and years. That shall not be.
It seemed little more than an hour when I heard footsteps again
approaching my door. They paused on reaching it, and the jar of bolt
and chain and lock succeeded. The door opened and closed again. I did
not turn or look round until a hand was laid on me, and a voice,
strange to me for a year, called me by my name. Then I was indeed
'Mr. Gregory! You here?'
'My poor fellow! I reached Naples last night, and found the town
ringing with the news of an arrest for murder. But what I can't
understand is, that now they've got the real fellow, they don't let you
'Never mind me,' I answered. 'Do they know in EnglandMiss Grammont
'They are with me here,' he answered quickly. 'They know that you
are arrested for murder, and scout the idea, of course. But they don't
know of their brother's death yet. I want to run them both away and let
them learn the news more tenderly than they will do here, but I must
see you through this miserable business. How did the fools come to
suspect you, of all men in the world?'
'Suspicion was natural,' I answered. 'I was found near the spot
directly after the discovery of the body.'
'What brought you there?'
'I was on my way home to Posilipo. The night was fine, and I was in
a mood for walking.'
'But you were found insensible, or something of the sort, weren't
'I was standing still in the road, looking at the moonlight on the
bay, when I heard a terrible cry. Before I could move, a man came
racing down the road as if he were flying for his life. He ran against
me, and we fell together. I fainted, and never fully recovered
consciousness until I found myself here.'
'Who do you suppose the man to be? No clue to him, I suppose, in
your own mind? What do the authorities say to this?'
'I have offered no defence, and made no statement.'
'God bless my soul, what folly! When you might have been out of
custody the next day! How very absurd!'
'I was stunned, remember. There were good reasons for silence. The
trial takes place in a fortnight.'
'A fortnight! But you can't stop here a fortnight!'
'I must!' I answered, smiling even then at his impetuosity. 'I am
remanded for trial.'
'You bear it well, Calvotti,' he said, taking me by both shoulders,
and looking kindly at me.
'I do not feel my own share much,' I told him truly. 'I am most
aggrieved for the others. It is a terrible business.'
'Give me young Clyde's address. I must bring him to comfort Cecilia
when she learns the truth. She was fond of that poor scapegrace, with
all his faults and follies. He paid bitterly for em'poor
'Bitterly, indeed,' I answered absently, looking for a way to escape
from a renewed mention of Clyde's name, and finding none.
'I shall come to see you as often as they'll let me, and stay as
long as I can. But now I must go for the present. Let me seeClyde's
living at your place, isn't he?'
'Yes,' I answered, 'he was living at the address from which I always
dated.' 'Has he been here to-day?' Oh! It was all too bitter, and I
could endure no longer. I turned my face away. My old patron laid a
gentle hand upon my shoulder, and strove to turn me round. I cast
myself upon the bed, and broke into tears. Gran Dio! I am not ashamed.
But that outbreak cost me bodily agony, and I wept and sobbed whilst I
cursed myself for weeping. Sacred Heaven! how I wrestled with this
devil of weakness, which held me so strongly. When I had fought him
down, he leapt upon me afresh, and subdued me by sheer torture until I
let nature take her way, and cried like a woman! Then, when it was all
over, I stood up and spoke with a new resolve.
'Sir, you are a just man and a wise man, and you shall know the
whole truth. But first you shall swear to me that what I tell you is
for ever buried in your own heart!'
He looked at me with stern inquiry.
'I am not an informer,' he said, 'and you may speak safely.'
I stepped towards him, but he waved me back, and himself took a
'There is a reason for my silence, but with you that reason dies. I
have your promise, and I trust it. The man who overthrew me in the
lane, whose hands and face were red with Grammont's blood, was'
'Go on,' he said, standing there still in rough-hewn dignity, though
his lips trembled and his face was pale.
'That man,' I said, 'was Arthur Clyde.'
'Ah!' The sound escaped him without his knowing it. A minute later
he asked, 'What was the ground of quarrel?'
I told him then the story of Clyde's meeting with Grammont, and of
Arthur's passion afterwards, and of our next encounter with Grammont at
the end of the Chiaja on the day of the murder.
'And you are sacrificing yourself that Clyde may escape, trusting to
chances to clear yourself?'
I answered nothing.
'What is your motive in all this?' he asked me.
What right had I to withhold it, then? what right to be ashamed of
the truth? Yet I paused.
'It is not friendship for Clyde. What is the motive?'
'I was silent because I waited here for events to decide what I
could not decide for myself.'
'And what was that?'
'How to give Cecilia least pain.'
'Are you in love with Cecilia?' he asked me.
'No,' I answered honestly, 'I am not in love with Cecilia, but she
is dearer to me than anybody in the world. I could not love my sister
or my mother more tenderly.'
'H'm!' he said in his old way, when thinking. 'And what have events
led you to?'
'They lead me nowhere,' I cried; 'I am helpless.'
'And so Clyde has never been here, of course. Has he escaped?'
'I cannot say.'
'It is a terrible business, Calvotti, but it is better so. You have
done right. You have done well. You have done nobly. There is no
evidence against you which is not so flimsy that a fly could break
through it. Clyde will disappear. If he should come back again, I will
warn him offtrust me. Time will console Cecilia, and you will have
averted a tragedy. Here is somebody at the door.'
Chain and lock creaked and jangled. The door swung inwards, and
Ratuzzi appeared with the advocate.
'Signor l'Avvocato,' I said, 'this gentleman will tell you
everything it concerns you to know. Orstay. Do you speak English?'
'I speak no language but my own,' said the young advocate.
'My dear Calvotti,' said my old patron, in Italian smoother and more
choicely worded than his English, one language is pretty much the same
to me as another, so long as it is a language, and is spoken in
Europe. I have been a mercantile adventurer in Europe for more than
thirty years, and have found a knowledge of languages a necessity.'
'Then, sir,' I said in English, 'deal with this gentleman according
to your discretion. If you think it wise, let him know all.'
'Trust to me,' he answered, and bade me a cheery adieu.
In another hour the advocate was back, again.
'Signor Calvotti,' he exclaimed, holding out his hand for mine, 'I
did not know that I had a hero to defend. But I know it now. You are in
no danger. It is weary waiting, but two weeks do not make up eternity;
and we shall march out of the court with the drums beating.'
I could not share his joy. The weight which is upon me now oppressed
me then; and when the door closed upon the advocate, I could only sit
upon my bed and think, with a heart that ached and burned, of the
terror which waited on Cecilia.
CHAPTER VI.THE END.
Whilst I lay waiting for the day of trial, I learned from my counsel
that my fellow-prisoner was identified as one Giovanni Fornajo, an old
companion of Charles Grammont. This man was known to have rifled his
dead friend's clothing, and the popular impression appeared to be that
I had either committed the murder from some other motive than cupidity,
or had been disturbed, and that this poor scoundrel had striven to
profit by my crime. Against us both the popular feeling was intense. It
was noted by the crowd that both Fornajo and myself were naturalised
British subjects, and that fact alone might have created considerable
prejudice against us, because to the ignorant mind it bespoke the
repudiation of our native landa thing from which I am utterly afar in
my own mind. I am proud of Italy, and I am proud of Naples, and I have
no idea of pretending to be other than a Neapolitan. One can be
cosmopolitan without losing one's patriotism, I venture respectfully to
hope. But I would not have cared then to set myself right with the
populace of my native city, either on that or any other point, though I
could have done it with a word. It was natural and illogical to scorn
the people for believing in my guilt, whilst I allowed them to believe
it. Yet I felt against them a sort of lofty anger, and felt myself
affronted to think that anybody could regard me as being even likely to
commit a murder. Ratuzzi was kind throughout, even when he believed me
guilty; and Mr. Gregory after his first visit never failed me. I asked
him news of Clyde, but he had no news to bring me until two days before
my trial, when he came into my cell with a grave but not uncheerful
'Calvotti,' he said, 'can you tell me with any precision the hour at
which you saw Arthur on that fatal night?'
'I can only guess the time,' I answered. 'But why do you ask?' I
questioned in my turn.
'Because,' he replied, 'I believe it possible that you may have
mistaken somebody else for Arthur, and because I have evidence that he
could not be near the place at the time at which we know that the
murder must have been committed.'
For one moment hope beamed within my heart, but in a second, like a
scene beheld by the light of heaven's fire, the sight of that
horror-stricken, blood-stained face was with me. I could read again
every line and tint of it, and I knew it too well to be mistaken.
'My friend,' I said sorrowfully'my best frienddo not comfort
yourself with any false hope on that matter. I saw him, and there is no
hope of a doubt in all my mind.'
'Arthur,' he replied, 'is lying ill of fever at this moment in your
house at Posilipo. Your housekeeper tells me that she saw him enter his
room. He made her understand that he was unwell, and that he wished to
lie down. She gave him a cup of coffee, and he retired to his room.
Next morning she found him there raving with fever and lying on the
floor. Only one point in her narrative accords with your belief, and
that is, when she raised him she found him badly cut across the
forehead, and found that his arms were bruised as if by a fall. The
doctor who attends him tells me that the crisis is over, but sternly
forbids that any questions should be asked him at present. The patient
must see nobody for a week to come, but I have hopes that we shall yet
clear up a terrible mystery, and shall find that Arthur is as innocent
as I believe you to be.'
I told him I would give all in my world to share his hopes. How
could I doubt my own eyes? A vision, moreover, does not dash against a
man and knock him down and stun him for hours. In all that Mr. Gregory
could tell me I found no hope, but only vague suspicions of a plan to
divert suspicion. Yet I found some comfort in one belief which would
intrude itself upon me. He was yet guilty though this story of the
fever were all true, but if it were true he was less base than I had
feared, and had not willingly left one who loved him to suffer for his
crime. Mr. Gregory went away sensibly subdued by my fixed refusal to
accept the hope he offered.
'There is a mystery in all this, Calvotti,' he said at parting, 'and
it must be cleared.'
'There is no mystery to my eyes,' I answered, 'and you will find
before long that I am right, though I would give the world to know that
I am wrong.'
Then came the day. I had little fear of being found guilty, and I
had, indeed, but very little care to be acquitted. When I thought of
myself, it was as though I reflected on the affairs of some troublesome
stranger, of whose interest I was weary. I am not learned in law forms,
and I cannot tell you the precise forms of the several indictments
against me. These things are managed in Italy pretty much as they are
in England, except that here you have no accusatore pubblico. The place
of that functionary would, in an English Court, be filled by a
temporarily appointed counsel for the Crown. When I was placed in the
dock, I looked about with an interest no more vivid than that of any
spectator there. Mr. Gregory sat beside my counsel, and nodded to me
gravely. There was no one else whom I knew, although the place was
crowded. There was a murmur on my entrance, and I heard many words of
hatred and loathing muttered here and there. For a moment no one spoke
or moved, and the Court seemed to await something. I saw what that
something was when Giovanni Fornajo was placed in the dock by my side,
and we were jointly and severally arraigned. The accustore pubblico
arose, and, gathering his gown about him, spoke.
Had I been one of the crowd who listened, I should have believed
myself guilty. The evidence against me, as he set it forth, seemed a
web closely woven enough to hold anything. I had been seen by two or
more people engaged in a quarrel with the deceased in the Basso Porto.
I had been seen on the Chiaja with him at a time when he was the worse
for drink, and when my conduct and appearance were so suspicious that a
perfect stranger was impelled to watch me for two hours lest I should
do the man a mischief in his drunken sleep. Two or three hours later,
this perfect stranger to us both had found the dead body of Charles
Grammont in the road with all the pockets of his garments turned inside
out, and had put the body into a cart he was then driving from Posilipo
to Naples. A hundred yards nearer the city he found me lying bruised as
if in a struggle, and with the marks of a hand wet with blood upon my
white shirt-front. The marks of the hand had been found to correspond
in size with the hand of the deceased. My companion in the dock was
probably, so the accusatore said, an accessory before the fact, and it
was probable that, whilst I had committed the crime to gratify my own
evil passion for revenge, I had engaged this desperate and notorious
character to pillage the body in order to give the murder the
appearance of having been committed from a purely sordid motive. He set
forth all his facts and all his theories about them with great
calmness, but when he came to the close of his indictment he burst into
an impassioned protest against certain articles which had appeared in a
French journal on the question of Italian Brigandage, citing this case
as an argument to show that crimes of violence were committed by born
Neapolitans within the city radius, and expressing a sarcastic wonder
that the authorities should have troubled themselves to arrest the
criminals though the proofs against them both were overwhelming.
'Thus it is,' said the accusatore, speaking with a stern passion of
emphasis, 'that these traitors to their country first cast off their
natal ties in order to lead lives of unrestricted profligacy abroad,
and having, in other lands, done all within them to disgrace the land
of their birth, return to it to inflict a wound still deeper upon the
national reputation; and thus it is that these villains, though they
once did their country the honour to repudiate it, return to lay a
final disgrace upon it.'
He pressed with a passionate insistence for the extremest rigour of
the law against us both, and it was plain from the angry murmurs of the
court that this appeal to the national sentiment had told heavily
against me. Then he called his witnesses. The first three were from the
Basso Portofit inhabitants of the place. They told substantially the
same story, and all swore that I was engaged in an angry broil with
Grammont and another Englishman whom they did not know. They admitted
that the conversation was carried on in English, but my advocate's
half-contemptuous cross-examination could not set aside the fact that a
quarrel, in which I had taken some part, had taken place. After these
three, Matthew Hollis was called, and the man whom I had watched upon
the quay presented himself. He told, in fair though foreign-sounding
Italian, a plain story. He had been an engine-fitter, and had worked in
France and Italy. He was settled down in business on his own account in
Naples, and on the day to which his story related had work to do at
Posilipo. On his way thither he observed Grammont and myself, and
suspected me of evil designs and watched me. He told how I tried to get
rid of him by sending him upon a message to the Caffe d' Italia, and
how he declined to leave the place. He related how, having seen us
part, he had gone his way to Posilipo, and how, returning thence in the
evening with a workman of his own, he had found the dead body of
Grammont on the road, and had found me lying insensible at a little
distance from it. A close cross-examination only served to prove the
absolute solidity of this man's story. Then an officer produced a
bundle, and, untying it, displayed the shirt I had worn, with the
rust-coloured mark of a hand distinct upon the front. 'Did that mark
correspond with the size of the hand of the murdered man?' So asked the
accusatore pubblico. 'Yes,' answered the official, 'accurately.' 'Did
it correspond with the hand of the prisoner Giovanni Câlvotti?' 'No,'
he responded, and stated truly that I was a man of much larger build
than Grammont, and my hand at least an inch longer. So far as I
was-concerned the case closed with his evidence, and the case against
Fornajo was then gone into. There is no need to go over that ground:
again. All that was proved against him was; the possession of
Grammont's money. He failed totally to establish an alibi, and so far
as participation in the crime went the evidence; seemed clear enough
Then arose my advocate, with pale face and coal-black eyes.
'This world,' he said, 'is full of strange and curious contrasts,
but I do not think that any contrast so strange as this has been seen
by any man who now hears my voice. Side by side, companions in your
thoughts of them, stand two men so utterly unlike each other in;
appearance and character, that to see them thus commonly arraigned is
in itself an amazement. The one a gentleman and descended from
gentlemen, the other a person of the lowest classthe one famous in
the annals of contemporary art, the other known for nothing but his
love for vulgar dissipation. As they stand there before you they
present a spectacle tragic and unique. As I know themand as you will
see them when I have called the one witness I have to callthey
present a spectacle yet more amazing. One man stands there a monument
of honour, a glory to his country, and a lesson to mankind. The other
stands there a murderer in fact already, and in his heart a murderer
again; since, knowing the innocence of the man beside him, he seeks at
the expense of innocence to shield his own guilt from the sword of
justice. It is my pride and my delight to-day to heal one broken and
heroic heart, and it is my duty to bring one miserable criminal to
Whilst the young advocate spoke thus, I stood in amazed agony. Was
he about to denounce Clyde in order to free me? It would be a
professional tour de force, and the melodramatic power of the situation
would have made him notorious for life. He looked round upon me slowly
when he had ceased to speak, and I saw that his dark eyes were burning
with triumphant fire. He sat down, and for a moment there was a dead
hush in the crowded place, and then a buzz of excited speech, and then
a clamour. In the midst of it an officer placed a chair before the
judge, immediately between the judicial seat and the railed space in
which I stood. If I had been amazed at the speech of the young
advocate, you may guess how I felt when Arthur Clyde came forward and
took the seat. His eyes met mine once, and I saw that they were brimmed
with tears, and there was such a smile upon his face as I never saw
before. Was I mad, or lost in some fantastic dream? This man
voluntarily here, of all menand smiling upon me! It was at
once incredible and true. I waited, dizzy and breathless, to hear and
see the end.
The customary oath administered, my advocate arose, and, in the
midst of a deathlike silence, questioned Arthur Clyde. He first drew
from him the story of the Basso Porto, and at its close begged to
recall the three witnesses who had deposed to my participation in the
quarrel. They came, and each identified Arthur as the third party in
the fracas. Arthur gave his evidence in English, through the sworn
interpreter of the court, and Mr. Gregory once or twice gave hints to
the advocate when question or answer missed precise translation. He
told of our second meeting with Grammont, and of his own departure.
Then came a story which amazed me, and riveted the ears of every
creature there. That story I reproduce from the columns of the
Advocate: Where did you go next?
Witness: To the Caffe d' Italia to await my friend.
Advocate: How long did you stay?
Witness: Only half-an-hour. I felt suddenly unwell, and walked again
on the Chiaja.
Advocate: Did you see your friend again?
Witness: Yes. He was still engaged in talk with Mr. Grammont; and
since I had no wish to meet him then, I walked along the road to
Advocate: Did anything happen upon the road?
Witness: I was violently sick, and, feeling very faint afterwards,
lay down upon a slope at the side of the road under the shade of a
tree, and rested there.
Advocate: What happened next?
Witness: I heard voices in the lane below me.
Advocate: Relate now what happened.
Witness: I saw two menMr. Grammont and anothertalking together.
They spoke in English. The man asked for money, and said he knew
perfectly well that Mr. Grammont had more than four thousand pounds in
English notes about him at that moment.
The Judge: What was Grammont's condition at this time?
Witness: He was partially sobered, as I should judge, but not
Advocate: Pray proceed with your story.
Witness: There was a good deal of angry talk between the two and
Grammont's companion threatened that, if he were not allowed a part of
the money, he would try to take all.
Advocate: Did Grammont take any notice of that threat?
Witness: He laughed, and the two walked on together.
Advocate: Did you see them again?
Witness: I passed them on my way to Posilipo, when they were
laughing and chatting together quite amicably.
Advocate: Did you then see Mr. Grammont's companion clearly?
Witness: I did.
Advocate: Can you point him out?
Witness: That is the man (rising and pointing to the prisoner
Advocate: Continue your narrative.
Witness: I went on to Posilipo, and there took a cup of coffee and
retired to my bedroom. Feeling then a little better, and thinking that
my friend Calvotti would wonder at my absence, I walked back towards
the city, hoping to meet him. It was then broad moonlight. Where I had
last seen Grammont and the prisoner Fornajo I saw them both again.
Grammont was lying motionless upon the ground, and Fornajo was bending
above him. I suspected foul play, and ran forward. Fornajo arose and
turned upon me. I don't know who first attacked the other. We struggled
together, and he broke away. I then turned to Grammont.
The Witness here gave signs of deep emotion.
Advocate: Had any suspicion of murder up to this time occurred to
Advocate: I must trouble you by reviving a painful memory. You had a
brother who died in your childhood?
Witness (speaking with a great effort): I had.
Advocate: How did he die?
Witness: By his own hand.
Advocate: I must ask the indulgence of the court for this gentleman,
who is recovering now from the effects of recent fever, and who acts
against the advice of his doctor by coming to do his duty here. (To the
Witness): Who first discovered the body of your brother?
Witness: I did.
Advocate: I will try you as little as I can. Compose yourself. That
discovery naturally shocked you terribly?
Advocate: And left upon your mind an indelible impression?
Witness: An indelible impression.
Advocate: When you first turned to Mr. Grammont, what did you do?
Witness: I stooped down and took his head in my hands.
Advocate: And what did you see?
Witness: That his head was nearly severed from his body.
Advocate: And what effect had this spectacle upon you?
The Witness returned no answer to the interpreter, and on the
question being repeated: fainted, and was removed from court.
The Judge: Is it necessary to prolong this painful scene?
Advocate: With all submission to the Courtfor one moment only.
(After a pause, the Witness returned.) Are you strong enough to go on,
Witness: I think so.
Advocate: We are then to understand that at this terrible sight the
shock given you in your childhood by the discovery of your brother was
Advocate: What did you do?
Witness: I am not quite clear, but I remember running from the
Advocate: Did you see any living man near there?
Witness: Yes. I ran against a man close by. We fell together.
Advocate: In what condition were your hands?
Witness: They were covered with blood.
The Advocate here asked for the shirt of the prisoner Giovanni
Calvotti. It was produced.
Advocate: You observe upon the breast of that shirt the mark of a
Advocate: Lay your hand upon it, and see if it corresponds in size?
Advocate: One question more. Was Mr. Grammont dead when you saw him?
Witness: I believe that he was not quite dead. I believe that I saw
his hand move upon his breast.
Advocate: One word more. Could you identify the man against whom you
Witness: I was too agitated at the time to recognise him.
In this wise the story came out. Ah me! how I accused myself in my
heart for my suspicions. The tears of joy were in my eyes so thickly
that I could scarcely see. I had my friend back again, and my love was
saved this overwhelming horror which had seemed to threaten her.
The Public Accuser rose and cross-examined Arthur Clyde, for form's
sake, I suppose. But the jury professed themselves satisfied with the
evidence before them, and before I quite knew what had happened I was
in a chariot in the streeta chariot with no horses at all, but a
thousand men, to draw it. The story was abroad. The city rang with it.
I had risked my life to save a friend from suspicion, and those who
cursed me in the morning cheered me in the afternoon, until they were
too hoarse to cheer me longer. Happily, Cecilia's name was kept out of
this noisy chorus of applause which roared so in my ears. I was glad
and excited, and had no objection to be made a hero. As soon as I could
be rescued, Mr. Gregory bore me away to Posilipo, where I found Arthur
quite worn out with the fatigue and excitement of the day. Those
influences retarded his recovery for a week or two, but before the
autumn came he was well and strong again. I begged hard of Mr. Gregory
and the Advocate, and at last they came to agree with me, and to this
day Arthur does not know of my suspicions of him. He regards my
reception by the populace as a curious illustration of the excitability
of an Italian mobas no doubt it was.
Giovanni Fornajo, otherwise John Baker, went to the Sardinian salt
mines for the term of his natural life, and is serving there now.
I am godfather to Cecilia's boy, and I am an Italian old bachelor. I
shall never marry, but I am contented. My last news is that my old
patron, at the age of fifty-five, has proposed to Miss Grammont, and
that she has not refused him.
If you will look into the little churchyard at Posilipo you will
find a flat marble slab with a name on it, and no more. The name it
bears is that of Alberto Lezzi, who but for his early death would have
been one of the great legal orators of Europe. The case which first
brought him into note was mine. I have not told you his name before,
but my advocate was the great Alberto Lezzi. It was his hand which
averted the tragedy of my life, and it is to his memory that I dedicate