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CXLIV.—AN ADVENTURE IN CALABRIA.
1. I Was once travelling in Calabria," a land of wicked pec» pie, who, I believe, do not love anybody over much, and least of all a Frenchman. To tell you the why and the wherefore would take too long; suffice it to say, that they hate us with a deadly hatred, and that one of our countrymen who falls into their hands is not likely to fare very well. In these mountains the roads are precipic.es. It was with difficulty that my horse made his way over them. I had for a companion a young man who took the lead. Thinking that he had hit upon a shorter and more practicable route," he led us astray. It served me right. What business had I to trust to a head of only twenty years?
2. We sought, while the day lasted, our way through these woods; but the more we sought the more we were baffled; and it was black night when we drew near to a very black-looking house. We entered, — not without suspicion, — but what could we do? There we found a whole family of charcoal-burners, Beated round a table, at which they forthwith invited us to take places. My young man did not wait for a second invitation. We soon made ourselves at home, and began to eat and drink; or rather my companion did. As for myself, I was occupied in examining the place and the aspects of our hosts. That they were charcoal-burners, their faces gave ample pledge; but as for the house — you would have taken it for an arsenal.
3. What an assortment of guns, pistols, sabres, knives, and cutlasses! Everything displeased me, and I saw that I also displeased everybody. My comrade, on the contrary, made himself quite one of the family; laughed and chatted with them, and, with an imprudence that I ought to have foreseen (but, alas! fate would have it so), informed them whence we came, where we were going, who we were. He told them, in short, that we were Frenchmen! Conceive of it! We, all the while, poor, bewildered travellers, far from all human succor, and in tho power of our mortal enemies!
4. And then, as if to omit nothing that might contribute to our destruction, he played the rich man; promised to pay these people whatever they might ask for our entertainment, and for guides the next day. Then he spoke of his valise," requested that they would take particular care of it, and put it at the head of his bed, remarking that he wanted no better bolster. Ah' youth, youth,' you are to be pitied. Cousin, one would have thought we had charge of the crown diamonds! All that there was in my companion's valise to occasion this amount of solicitude was a bundle of his sweetheart's letters!
5. Supper being ended, our hosts left us. They slept below, we in the room above that where we had supped. A loft, to which we had to mount seven or eight feet by a ladder, was our destined place of repose. It was a sort of nest, into which one had to insinuate himself by creeping under cross-beams, hung with provisions for the whole year. My comrade made his way up alone, and threw himself down, already half-asleep, with his head on the precious valise. As for myself, I determined to watch; and, making a good fire, I sat down near it.
6. The night wore away tranquilly enough, and was at length near its end. I was beginning to be reassured, when, just before the break of day, I heard our host and his wife talking and disputing down stairs. Listening intently at the chimney, which communicated with that below, I distinctly heard the husband utter these words: "Well, come, now, must we kill them both?" To which the woman replied, "Yes; " and I heard nothing more. How shall I describe my emotions? I remained almost breathless, my whole body frigid as marble. To have seen me, you would not have known whether I was dead or alive. Ah! when I but think of it, even now!
7. Two of us, almost without weapons, against twelve or fifteen, so remarkably well provided! And my comrade halfdead with sleep and fatigue! To call him — to make a noise — I did not dare; escape by myself I could not; the window was not very high from the ground, but beneath it were two savage bull-dogs, howling like wolves. Imagine, if you can, in what a dilemma I found myself. At the end of a long quarter of an hour I heard some one on the stairs, and, through the cracks of the door, I saw the father, with a lamp in one hand, and one of his big knives in the other. Up he came, his wife after him, I behind the door: he opened it; but, before entering, he put down the lamp, which his wife took; then he entered barefoot, and she, outside, said, in a low tone, shading the light with her hand, "Softly, go softly!"
8. When he got to the laddor he mounted, holding the knife between his teeth. Approaching the head of the bed, where my poor young companion, with throat uncovered, was lying, with
one hand the monster grasped his knife, and with the other
Ah! cousin — with the other — he seized a ham, which hung from the ceiling, cut a slice, and retired as he had entered. The door closed, the lamp disappeared, and I was left alone to my reflections.
9. As soon as the day dawned, all the family came bustling to waken us, as we had requested. They brought us something to cut, and spread, I assure you, a very clean and nice breakfast. Two chickens formed part of it, of which, our hostess told us, wo were to eat one and take away the other. Seeing these, I at length comprehended the meaning of those terrible words, "Must we kill them both?" And I think you, too, cousin, will have penetration enough to guess now what they signified.
10. Cousin, I have a favor to ask: do not tell this story. In the first place, as you cannot fail to perceive, I do not play a very enviable part in it. In the next place, you will spoil it. Indeed, I do not flatter: it is that face of yours which will ruin the effect of the recital. As for myself, without vanity I may 6ay, I have just the countenance one ought to have in telling a tale of terror. Original Translation From P. L. Courier
CXIiV. — IN ROME.
1. I Am in Rome! Oft as the morning ray
'Whence this excess of joy! "What has befallen me1
2. Thou art in Rome! the city that so long
And love of glory, towered above the clouds,
3. There, as though
Grandeur attracted grandeur, are beheld
Within those silent chambers where they dwell
4 And I am there!
Ah! little thought I, when in school I sat,
5. But what a narrow space
Just underneath! In many a heap the ground
6. Here the first Brutus" stood, — when o'er the corse
Here Cincinnatus" passed, his plough the while
Left in the furrow ; and how many more
Whose laurels fade not, who still walk the earth,
Consuls, dictators, still in curule" pomp
Sit and decide, and, as of old in Rome,
Name but their names, set every heart on fire!
7. Now all is changed; and here, as in the wild,
CXLTI. — SELECT PASSAGES IN VERSE.
1. The Pleasures Of Hope. — Campbell.
At summer eve, when Heaven's ethereal how
2. Fame. — Pope.
Nor Fame I slight, nor for her favors call;
She comes unlooked for, if she comes at all.
But if the purchase cost so dear a price
As soothing Folly, or exalting Vice,
O! if the Muse" must flatter lawless sway,
And follow still where Fortune leads the way,—
Or if no basis bear my rising name,
But the fallen ruins of another's fame, —
Then teach me, Heaven! to scorn the guilty bays,"
Drive from my breast that wretched lust of praise;
Unblemished let me live, or die unknown;
O, grant an honest fame, or grant me none!
3. Death. — Young.
Why start at death? Where is he? Death arrived