« ПредишнаНапред »
gave laws to the maritime states of beds. As we had already seen that reItaly, is now nothing more than a paltrymonstrance with this worthy personage station for fishermen.
was in vain, we made no objections to The Albergo, if such it could be such wretched accommodation, but called, which bad more the appearance having wished her a good night, began of a poor lodging house than of a public to dispose of ourselves with as much inn, to which we were directed, was regard to comfort as we could. not in its exterior more inviting than When we looked round upon the the other houses of the town, and in its bare floor, and empty walls, and barred interior bore every mark of extreme casement of our dismal apartment, discomfort. Our hostess was a tall, through which a solitary lamp, standing gaunt, masculine-featured woman, the on a small decrepit table, spread a dirty disordered state of whose attire sombre and uncertain light, we could was in perfect unison with the ap- not help recalling all the stories that pearance of her dwelling ; and our host had been so carefully repeated to us, presented an appearance by no means of murders, and robberies, and bauditti; more prepossessing. He was a strong recollections which the sour visage and muscular man, with the dark eye and gaunt form of our hostess, together prominent nose of the Italian coun with the sullen conduct of the host, and tenance; a red woollen cap was drawn the constant passing in and out of over his brows, and a long undressed sundry ill-favoured fellows, whom we beard and moustache covered the had seen prowling about the kitchen lower part of his face.
during supper, were by no means calSullen and disobliging as persons of culated to dispel. My companions were this class in poverty generally are, it the first to hint their suspicions that all was with difficulty that we could pre was not right, and I confess I was a vail on either of these sinister indivi- good deal confirmed in the same duals to attend to our wants. The opinion, when, on proceeding to secure hostess moved sluggishly about, ar- the door, I found that it was furnished ranging, or rather disarranging, the with neither lock nor bolt. However mean articles of furniture which the it was now too late to retreat, so we ill-appointed kitchen contained ; and determined to make such provision for her husband, for such we presumed hinn our safety as our situation would admit, to be, did not even deign to notice our and wait the result, whatever it might be. entrance, or interrupt for a moment his Having accordingly carefully loaded occupation of burnishing the lock of an our fire-arms with ball, we agreed, as old rusty musket. It was only after the best arrangement, that one of us many fair words and entreaties, that we should watch while the others slept, at last procured some fish and eggs, each undertaking the duty of guard alwhich, as our hostess did not seem in- ternately. The bed opposite the door clined to dress, I was obliged to exert was fixed on as that to be occupied by my own talents in the culinary art, and the sentry for the time, who, being turned cook for the party. With the armed with the double-kun, we thought assistance of a little pepper, salt, and could in this position more effectually bread, I accordingly contrived to pro- range the entrance, in case of any boscure a very savoury mess, on which we tile intrusion. Lots were then drawn supped, with a hearty appetite, washing to determine who should first discharge down the whole as we best could with the duties of watch ; and these arsome miserable vin ordinaire and worse rangements being completed, we reacquadente. After this frugal repast, tired at last to our miserable pallets. we bathed our feet and the aching But alas! we might have saved ourjoints of our limbs in warm oil-cer- selves the trouble of appointing a tainly the best remedy in all similar watch, for, drowsy though we were, cases of fatigue—and prepared to retire not an individual of the party could to rest.
close an eye. No sooner was the light The room to which our hostess con- extinguished, than myriads of those inducted us, was a large, unfurnished, sect-dispellers of sleep, generally known empty-looking apartment, on the floor by a more familiar epithet, issued from of which were spread three miserable their lurking places, and proceeded to pallets, which she told us were our feast so ravenously on our blood, that
they promised to leave but little to be At length my dreams reverted to my drawn by the banditti. To sleep, or present situation ; the supper scene even to remain in bed, was impossible; passed before my imagination with so, after tossing about till we had al- many additional circumstances of susmost fretted ourselves into a fever, we picion, the manner in which I bad rose, rekindled our lamp, and com- barricaded the door, my present posimenced to solace ourselves with cigars tion in bed, the gun at my side, all was and what cognac still remained in our faithfully represented to my dreaming travelling canteen. This amusement fancy. I then thought I heard a lasted till past midnight, when our rustling noise in the apartment, but fatigue at last became so excessive, when I attempted to grasp my weapon that we could no longer resist it; and my fingers refused to move. accordingly, after having fumigated our loud sound as of soniething falling beds with tobacco-smoke, which we heavily on the floor rung in my ear. found a most specific exorcisor of our in- I started up instinctively in bed, and sect guests, we once more retired to bed. was in an instant wide awake. Nothing
It was now my turn to watch; but stirred; everything in the apartment not trusting altogether to my powers was dark and silent, and yet I could of wakefulness, I took the precaution have sworn that I heard the noise that of placing upon a chair which I set up awoke me. against the door the large brazen cal “ Did you hear nothing ?" I whisdron in which we had performed our pered to my companions; but they ablutions the previous evening, in such were both fast asleep, and answered a manner that no one could enter me only with a disturbed groan. without arousing me, should I chance I continued for some time to listen to be asleep. The gun I carefully eagerly, and presently I thought I disposed of by my side in bed, with could distinguish a footstep treading the muzzle pointed in the direction of lightly in the next apartment. By dethe door; and in order to prevent grees the sound became more distinct, being taken unawares, my hand upon and I could plainly hear someone the lock.
stealing gently along the passage toMy companions were now fast asleep, wards the door of our apartment. In snoring away in most harmonious con an instant I put my gun on cock and cert; and it was not long till I too raised it to my shoulder, determined yielded to the influence of extreme fa- to fire as soon as the intruder aptigue, and sunk into a state of dozing prized me of his entrance by the overslumber. It was a disturbed and fe- turn of the chair and brazen basin. verish sleep. Terrific visions of blood The steps ceased; a hand lifted the and horror fitted in appalling succes- latch : my finger was on the trigger; sion before my wandering fancy. At the slightest additional pressure, and one time I thought myself in the woods, the gun would be discharged. surrounded by dark-visaged men, in
“ Who's there?” I exclaimed, in a long floating cloaks, my pistols missing loud, and perhaps somewhat agitated fire whenever I attempted to discharge voice. them, and when I fled, stumbled and fell “It is I, signor,” replied the gruff voice at every step I took. Then I supposed of our landlord : “the day is breaking, myself asleep in a hut among the and the boat is ready to convey you mountains; an approaching footstep to Salerno. I have brought you a seemed to arouse me; a tall man, with light,” he continued, as he pushed open a lanthorn and bare dagger, leant over the door, and the chair and basin my couch, and when I tried to call for rolled into the middle of the apartassistance my tongue refused utterance. ment. The gun dropped in an instant Sometimes again I was at sea in an from my hands; a cold perspiration open boat, overtaken and surprised by ran over my frame, and I sunk back pirates, observing the carnage of com- upon my pallet. panions, and every stroke of my sabre The noise occasioned by the falling missing its aim. Convulsive starts chair speedily awoke my companions, changed from time to time the subject who now sprung from their beds, each of these borrible imaginings; but blood with a pistol in his hand, ready for and assassination were still the theme. action. The host, whose face bore the
expression of utter astonishment at this beyond Salerno, we dismissed our boat, warlike array, stood in the middle of and set out for Eboli, where we inthe floor, holding forward his lamp, as tended to spend another night before if anxious to ascertain the meaning of proceeding to Pæstum. The country such suspicious movements. It was an through which we passed during our excelleni scene for the comic pencil of walk was extremely beautiful, consistCruikshank; so ridiculous, indeed, that iny of rich cultivated fields and clumps I had no sooner explained the affair of fine trees, with the lofty peaks of than my two friends dropped their the Apennines and the rugged brow weapons and burst out into an incon- of the towering Alburnus in the backtrollable fit of laughter. For my own ground. Groups of peasants in the part, I confess I could not at the time picturesque costumes which the works contemplate the circumstance in a lu- of Salvator Rosa have rendered so ce. dicrous point of view. How nearly had lebrated, were employed in tilling the I become a murderer!
ground, or regaling themselves during Scarcely had the sun appeared in the heat of the day in little arbours the horizon when we were once more erected close on the side of the road. afloat, running with a fine breeze up The whole presented a scene on which the Gulf towards Salerno. The scenery the eye of the traveller loves to linger,and here is so totally different from that in so frequent and prolonged were the vathe Bay of Naples, that it would be in rious halts we made to admire the landvain to compare the two. The coast scape or converse with the peasantry, of the latter, if we except the precipi- that it was evening before we arrived at tous rocks near Miseno and Sorrento, Eboli. Our accommodation in this pretty rises for the most part with a compa- little town was every way superior to ratively gentle slope from the water's what it was at Amalfi; and it was not edge, displaying generally a smiling long till our obliging hostess set before border of turf or vineyards. In the us an excellent dinner, consisting of Gulf of Salerno, on the contrary-at such substantial fare as our whettened least on the side of Amalfi, for to- appetites rendered extremely acceptwards Pesto there is notbing but a able. A bottle of what had once been vast unbroken plain, backed by a range rum, but was now so strongly impregof undulating inountains—the shore is nated with cinnamon and other spices bold and prominent, rising at once as to be little better than liquid fire, with a steep ascent from the sea, and furnished a glass of grog, with which, covered to the very top with the most in sailor fashion, our repast was conluxuriant verdure. Deep craggy ra- cluded; and we retired to bed in high vines, through which brawling moun- spirits, determined to pursue our jourtain torrents discharge themselves into ney early in the morning. the gulf, intersect the mountain-ridge Notwithstanding all our good resoin different directions; while towering lutions, however, and owing probably rocks, generally crowned by a church to the rum having proved a rather or a convent, and in the more imme- over powerful sleeping potion, the sun diate foreground naked beetling pro- was already high in the heavens before montories, break the uniformity which we left our beds. To go to Pæstum the extended mass of foliage might on foot, and return before sunset, as otherwise produce. Along the shore, we had originally intended, was therea succession of towns and villages pre- fore now impossible; and our hostess did sent themselves perched, as it were, all in her power to persuade us to upon platforms of the abrupt rock, at postpone our journey till the succeedthe very font of the mountains, and ing day. She assured us that the far up even on the very brows of the country was perfectly infected by banhuge rocks, houses and churches are ditti, who had of late committed many occasionally seen, hanging dizzily over daring outrages; and that wilfully to the water. Orange groves, vineyards, allow our to be benighted beand gardens, skirting round villas and tween Pæstum and Eboli was little convents, give an appearance of culti- better than suicide. However, as our vation to a coast otherwise so wild and leave was liinited, we determined to unsubdued.
run all risk of these formidable maHaving landed about two miles rauders rather than waste another day;
and accordingly, trusting a good deal There is no lodging to be had in
“ Are the banditti numerous on the
“ Mind your weather-eye, Ned !We w seated beside the fragment Shoot that villain dead the moment he of a broken column within the area of attempts any treachery." the Temple of Neptune, when a stranger Determined accordingly to keep a stepped in between the distant pillars, cautious watch upon the fellow's moveand stood for a moment contemplating ments, I took my station close by his
He was a tall, athletic, finely side. As far as the banks of the Silaro formed man, with a dark sallow face he conducted us by the same road as and fiery eye; a large slouch hat we had followed in the morning; but shaded his brows, and a short cloak after passing the river he diverged hung gracefully down from his left considerably to the left, and led the shoulder. Round his waist he wore a way through a wet marshy tract, cobroad belt, in which were fastened a vered with tall brushwood and straghunting knife and brace of pistols, and gling trees. The path was under his arm he carried a long single- tremely bad, from the wet and slimy barrelled gun.
soil, that we made but slow progress, Having invited him to partake of the and it was not long till we were overcontents of our canteen, we inquijed if taken by the dim twilight. we could procure a lodging for the night We had proceeded in this manner any where in the neighbourhood. long enough, as I thought, to bring us
to our destination, and I began to left no doubt with regard to his purgrow extremely impatient. I had in- poses ; and should his eompanions he quired several times at the guide if we anywhere in the neighbourhood, they were near the town, and his answer could not fail soon to overtake us. Our invariably was, “ We shall reach it only alternative, therefore, was to set presently;" so my amazement may be off with all our speed ; and shaping conceived when I at last caught a our course as nearly as possible in the glimpse of the lights of Eboli far dis- direction of the lights of Eboli, endeatant on the right, and became sensible voured to escape by swiftness of foot. that the course we were pursuing, in Accordingly having reloaded the pisstead of bringing us nearer, was car- tol I had discharged, we commenced rying us in a totally different direction. our march at a rapid pace ; and after
No sooner had I satisfied myself of toiling through deep marshy ground the correctness of this observation than and entangled thickets for nearly two I sprung suddenly forward, seized the hours, we had at last the satisfaction of treacherous guide by the collar, and finding ourselves in the streets of presenting my pistol at his head, ac Eboli. Towards ten o'clock we encused him of a design to betray us. tered our inn, to the no small astonish
“ You are over hasty, signor,” he re ment of our hostess, who had made up plied, without allowing himself to be her mind that we should be murdered, at all disturbed by the violence of my and was apparently not a little chamanner; “ you are not acquainted with grined that her predictions had not the path; I am.”
been verified. There cannot be a “ Are not yonder lights those of doubt that we owed our safety to the Eboli ?” I demanded, still holding my speed we exerted ; for had we propistol in his face?
ceeded at our usual pace, the villains, “ They are.”
who were certainly in pursuit, could not “ And are we not pursuing a course have failed to overtake us. directly opposite ?"
But this excursion was doomed to “ The path diverges in this direc- be an eventful one. tion, signor, to avoid a morass ; before We were proceeding next day on we have gone another hundred paces our return to Salerno, and had diverged it turns to the right, and leads direct a little from the road in search of small to the town."
birds, which we were shooting for the “ If I find you have deceived us,” I cabinet of a brother officer who was a exclaimed, “it were better for you that great collector of natural curiosities. we had never met! Lead on! and see On a tempting grassy knoll which verify your words.”
formed a sort of open glade in the surHaving loosened my hold, we again rounding wood, we determined to rest advanced ; and I still kept close to for a little during the heat of the day ; the Italian, determined to shoot bim on and we had scarcely seated ourselves the first alarm. We had not, however, for the purpose, when a tall fineproceeded far in this manner, when he looking man emerged from among the stopped, and asked me in a sneering trees and advanced towards us. tone, if I still thought he deceived us. Predisposed as we were to consider • Satisfy yourself
, signor, he said ; every one of doubtful appearance as you see the path diverges here to the more or less connected with the banright."
ditti, who abound in this neighbourI turned slightly round to look in hood more than in almost any other the direction he indicated, when be- corner of Italy, the looks of the stranfore I was aware of his intention, he ger certainly did not tend to lull our darted like lightning from my side, suspicions. He was a tall muscular and in an instant was lost among the fellow, with a short rifle slung at his tall brushwood and mimosa by which back, a most formidable inoustache we were surrounded. A ball from my upon his lip, and a peculiarly fierce expistol followed speedily in the direc- pression about his eye. Whoever he tion he had taken, but without the was, however, he was alone; and effect of arresting his progress. having therefore no cause of alarm,
Our situation now became extremely we quietly awaited his approach. critical. The condnct of our guide Gentlemen," he said, in a very civil