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THE BRIGAND AND THE NUN. gentleman. But alas ! he was poor, and
on his bearing alone rested his claims to
a noble origin, for he was the offspring LOVELY as was that of Eden is the of a love on which the priest had never sky that bends over the terraces of breathed his benison, and he knew neiNaples, arches the rocky castle of St. ther his father nor his mother. At stated Elmo, and lends its magic colouring to times he received small sums of money, the romantic bay. Beneath its sunny but they were conveyed to him with influence fair flowers and fairer women such precaution that he could not disspring to early maturity, and passionate cover the person who sent him his slender hearts glow with its pervading warmth ; remittances. None of the youth of but stern as well as gentle passions are Naples dared reproach him with his birth, nurtured by its sun, and love, hate, for they knew the blood of Gasparoni to revenge and cruelty grow in unison to- be fiery as the lava of Vesuvius, and his gether.
hand as prompt to crush as to caress. It Gasparoni was a gay and passionate was in his seventeenth year that the Neapolitan ; young, brave and ardent, young Neapolitan saw and loved the and at sixteen years of age he had the beautiful Leonora, the only daughter of form and feelings of a man. Passion a rich old merchant of the city. He shone in the eyes that gleamed beneath loved her with all the fervour of which their black brows; daring and resolution his passionate heart was capable, and might be read in the lines prematurely had the happiness of being loved in retraced in the lower portion of his face. turn. The lovers met only by stealth, He was not without accomplishments, for Leonora's father had conceived a for he could troll a barcarole and touch violent dislike to Gasparoni from his a guitar, danced with grace and spirit, poverty and from the guilt of his unand handled a stiletto and reined a steed known parents. But Leonora's kindness in a manner which proclaimed him a compensated her lover for every rebuff,
Vol. I. (5.)
16 And now,
and when, awakened by his nightly sere- which reposed in a silver sheath, with nades, she bent from her window and its ivory handle protruding from the dropped some flowers as a token of her robber's sash. But all this richness of presence and her love, he felt that he attire contrasted strangely with the worn, lived for her alone.
haggard, stern and vicious expression of One night when Gasparoni repaired the bandit. It was Gasparoni-now as usual to the dwelling of his beloved, twenty years of age. he suddenly encountered her enraged “To the health of our captain !” said father, who, in tones of the wildest ex- one of the robbers, raising a cup to his citement, bade him begone. Gasparoni lips. “Ah!"' added he, after swallowing replied with equal warmth ; a war of its contents, “ your wine of Sicily tastes words ensued, and, in the height and none the worse for mantling in a sacrafrenzy of passion, the young man struck mental chalice. Commend me to our his opponent to the earth. An instant captain, for teaching us the true use of after, the lovely Leonora, pale and with the church. Until he came among us disordered tresses, rushed from the we were a poor set of superstitious devils, house.
who couldn't cut a throat without making " You have slain him !" she cried. a vow to the Virgin—but he has changed
“ 'Tis true!" answered Gasparoni, still all that.” gaspingwith passion; “ he was insolent, Gasparoni smiled bitterly. and I have chastised him."
noble captain," said the “ Begone !" exclaimed the excited spokesman of the gang, “ I humbly beg girl. Monster, begone ! The hand you'll tell us what is passing in your that has been raised against my father's scheming brain. I know by the knitting person shall never clasp mine in love, of your eyebrows that you are revolving amity, or marriage !"
some mighty project.' “ Leonora, hear me!”
Right, Anselmo," said the bandit “ I swear it. Begone !"
leader, rising. “ But hist! what noise " You will think better of this !" is that?" “ Never !"
“The vesper bell,'' answered Anselmo. With a glance of scorn and indignation, “Your predecessor, now, would have she waved him off. Gasparoni stood one had us down upon our knees in a trice." moment looking at her with a demoniac “Ay, the vesper bell,” repeated Gasexpression; then he bowed low with paroni, in a melancholy tone. “Methinks mock respect and gravity, and quitted it steals very softly on the ear, calling the scene of his quarrel with a hasty the erring to penitence and prayer. It step.
is very music to a weary soul.”
“Our captain's turned preacher,” CHAPTER II.
said a robber. Daylight is dying along the stern “ Hear the end of my sermon,” reheights of the Abruzzi. Surrounded by plied Gasparoni, with one of his ambiguimpending crags, and clustering in dis- ous smiles. “ It were a good deed, array, a bandit group are carousing methinks, to free yon_pining beauties noisily together, and toasting the depart- from their thraldom. Report says that ing god of day in overflowing cups of the nuns are lively, ripe, and tempting; fiery wine. A portion of the wild com- and some of them belong to noble pany sit in the dark shadow of the rocks, families. The lady abbess was a countess while others bask in the last rosy hues when she was of the world ; she shall of sunset. Among the latter is one dis- wear her coronet and title again ; such tinguished by his lofty air and stature charms were never meant to wither in a from the rest, and wearing a somewhat convent. What say you, comrades, shall richer garb than his companions. His we liberate the nuns ?"! conical hat is decked with gay ribands, A deafening roar of applause replied his green velvet jacket is studded with in the affirmative. By midnight the gold buttons, and his lower garments band were on their march, and ere long are seamed with the richest lace. An halted before the asylum doomed so soon ornamented carbine was slung by a band to be roused by a rude alarm. Imposing of snowy leather at his back, and a pair
silence by a gesture, Gasparoni apof richly mounted pistols glittered in his proached the gate of the convent and
irdle. Neither was he without the rapped upon the wicket with the hilt of Italian's bosom friend, a broad stiletto, his stiletto. After waiting for a brief
space, the feeble light of a taper glim- you, for you are in the house of God, mered through the bars of a grated aper- and I shall pronounce His curse, which ture, and a trembling voice asked what now hangs suspended over you, if you was wanted.
do not instantly retire, nor farther molest “ We are certain reverend friars, those devoted to His service." sweeting,” answered Gasparoni, in a “Dear lady, I came to do you a sercanting tone, “come at the order of his vice," answered Gasparoni, recovering holiness to examine into the condition of his bitterness and self-possession. his well-beloved."
really a pity such a bevy of beauties “Away, rude man!” cried the nun. should die in a convent. I cannot
• Nay, you will force me to be rude answer for you, madam, for you are past unless you give me admittance,'' said the hey-day of your youth ; but for these the brigand, in his natural tone. “Here sweet girls, I believe they're ready to are thirty stout fellows to whom sacri- quit your roof without compulsion.” lege is pastime, and who know how to “ Hear him!” cried the abbess, lifting relieve the unfortunate of vows it is up her hands in holy horror. troublesome to keep. I have obeyed the unhallowed infidel.” She gave a the scriptural injunction, do ye verify the private signal, which was understood and words—knock, and it shall be opened.' answered as she wished. The notes of You see I am not altogether so graceless the organ suddenly broke upon the midas you believe me.”
night air, the echoes rolled along the But the latter part of his address was vaulted roof, and died away like distant breathed to empty air, for the frightened thunder. Then rose the sweet, wailing nun had fled to the interior of the build- voices of the nuns, clustering around ing to alarm the abbess and the sister their altar, and chanting to their Maker hood.
-Sanctum et terribile nomen ejus, Ini“To the gate, brigands, with your tium sapientiæ timor domini. Then the bludgeons !” shouted Gasparoni. His voices ceased and all was mute. Perhaps order was obeyed—beneath heavy and even the brigand chief would have fled repeated blows the wicket gave way. the holy spot, appalled and chilled, had Anselmo would have entered first. he not seen among the shrinking nuns,
Way for your captain !" sternly shout- a lovely, a well-known face — it was ed Gasparoni. Dispute my precedence Leonora's. He sprang over the fretted and die !" The appalled robber stepped barrier, and seized his victim. She back hastily, and Gasparoni was the first shrieked with pious horror as his burning to step within the hallowed precincts. lips pressed those she had vowed to
Several doors in the body of the build- purity and prayer. ing were successively forced, and the “ Each to his nun!” shouted Gaspaarmed heels of the brigands rang along roni, lifting the fainting girl from her the stone-paved corridors, as, headed by feet—" and let those who are covetous their captain, they strode onward to their bear off the crucifix and plate. Away! crime. The nuns had assembled in the before the morning comes to tell the chapel and were now cowering within the tale." precincts of the altar. The lady abbess His orders were obeyed with all the alone was self-possessed and dignified. promptness of inclination. Some tore She was a woman of middle age, of a the loveliest nuns from the pillars to lofty stature, and possessing some claims which they clung convulsively, while to the epithet of beautiful, though her others seized the gold and silver vessels countenance was somewhat worn and of the chapel. One gigantic robber furrowed.
wrenched the golden cross from its peCommanding his band to halt on the destal, and bore it off in triumph. Long threshold of the chapel, Gasparoni doffed before the daylight dawned, the sacri. his hat, walked with a firm step up the legious band had secured its retreat ; central aisle, and halted at the railing still breaking the solemn silence of the of the altar, on the lowest step of which early hour, the mighty bell of the conthe abbess stood. There was something vent was heard tolling forth a dolorous in her bearing that awed even the lawless alarm. brigand. Sensible of the feeling she inspired, and determined to profit by it, the lady addressed the intruder.
As the weary robbers reached their “Ay, pause," she said, “well may mountain fastness, the clear rays of
broad daylight bathed the heights of the most frantic girl. “There is yet time Abruzzi. Fatigued with toil they flung for retreat.” themselves upon the ground to sleep, " Quick ! quick ! for the love of regardless of their victims, who, half- heaven, gentlemen!” shrieked the nun. dead with terror, awaited the conclusion “ Too late !" repeated Gasparoni. of their unfortunate adventure. The
Away!" And he succeeded in forcing captain, alone, refused to sleep, but, her from the rock to which she clung. seated on an isolated crag, watched over “ A hundred ducats to the man who the inanimate form of Leonora. At puts a ball through the heart of Gaspalength sensation revisited the wretched roni !" cried a dismounted colonel of girl. She arose from her recumbent dragoons, rushing up the rocky steep. posture, opened her eyes, and then closed A carbineer sprang upon a rock, levelled them again with a heavy sigh.
his piece, and fired. Santa Maria ! the “ Where am I ?" she murmured, bullet pierced the heart of Leonora, and faintly.
mortally wounded the brigand chieftain. “ In the arms of a lover,” answered No sooner had the wretched girl sunk at Gasparoni.
his feet, than the robber uttered a deep “I am the bride of heaven !” shrieked groan. For an instant he seemed crushed, the horror-stricken nun.
and then all his energy returned. Though “Do I look like a celestial bride- the blood was pouring freely from his groom ?” asked the robber, bitterly. wound, he cocked his gun, aimed at the “No! I am of the earth-earthly. But, unlucky carbineer, and fired. The sol. Leonora, you
an reform me—you can dier sprang into the air, and fell head. make me happy."
long from the precipice, on the verge of Away! your hands are stained with which he had been standing. blood.”
The fight was over. The brigands “ Penitence shall make them white as were all slain, captured, or put to flight. snow, or gold shall purchase absolution On one side of Leonora's body kneeled of the pope himself-only be mine." the lady abbess, on the other Gasparoni, “My vow!"
drawing his breath with difficulty, and Ay-vows do very well for the un- momentarily expecting to breathe his initiated, but not for us who know the last. world. The noble takes a vow of alle- • Requiescat in pace !” cried the giance to his sovereign, but he turns abbess. “ She was the lawful daughter traitor when interest commands him. of the man to whom I surrendered my The sovereign swears to protect the honour in my early days. Her mother people, but, notwithstanding this, he wiled away my betrayer from me, therebetrays the people. Why should the fore I had a natural right to hate her ; vows of a nun be more binding than but I loved her-I loved Leonora Car. those of prince or noble ?"
riale as if she had been my child.” “Gasparoni, I abhor you! Sooner Here the dying brigand groaned hea. than submit to your sacrilegious em- vily.“ Open his vest,” said the abbess, braces, I will dash this frail person from compassionating even the fallen sinner. the eminence on which I stand, and roll “Give him air, it may revive him.” a mangled corse, before your eyes, to the Some of the soldiers bared the breast foot of the mountain. Sooner-" of the robber, from which the life-blood
More she would have said, bnt from was fast flowing. their very feet there broke the wail of a “ Mother of God, what do I see !” solitary trumpet.
In a moment the cried the abbess. “That cross indelibly crags were bristling with bayonets, and imprinted in the flesh, that in after years emerging from concealment the arms of I might recognize the child of my shame. cuirassiers and light infantry glistened My son! my son! from what horror in the rising sun.
has not this death freed you. She whom “ Saved ! saved !” cried Leonora ; you pursued with your fatal love“ saved from worse than death. The Leonora—was your sister." bell has been heard-our prayers have The dying man bowed his head upon been heard_and the Lord hath saved his breast. • Sister ! mother !” were his servants !"
the words he feebly uttered. They were “ Too late they come !" cried the his last. Gasparoni, the brigand, has robber, struggling to bear away the al- gone to his account.
beside thee, do thou throw thy handkerCOUSINS.
chief over thy head and sleep, or pre
tend to sleep ; and if thou pretendest to Dear reader, hast thou ever a fair snore, it were perhaps better, though it cousin numbering about eighteen sum- were doubtful if thou couldst deceive her, mers—with light blue eyes, clustering for cousins are very artful; and if she ringlets of a bright golden brown-a face essay to lift the corner of thy handkerso sunny that it seemeth never to have chief and look upon thee with her eyes, known sorrow—an arch smile lurking do thou resist stoutly, for it is doing near the corners of one of the prettiest battle in a good cause—yet take heed in mouths in the world—and lips, so full, thy struggle that thou openest not thine ruddy, and pouting, that they seem to eye, or evil may come upon thee; better say,
come, kiss me”-together with let the guileful one take from thee thy a voice of that clear peculiar richness handkerchief without resistance than which windeth itself into the heart and that thine eyes should be opened ; and nestleth there as if it were its appropriate if she faint at any time when thou art resting-place? If thou hast such an near, do thou hasten and call another, in one, take the advice of a friend, and order that all needful assistance may be shun her. Is her figure lightly and rendered, but beware that thou goest not beautifully formed ? has she a springy thyself, for it may come to pass that it tread as if half walking, half floating ? was but a feint to draw thee beside her, is her laugh musical ? doth she discourse for cousins are exceedingly artful ; and sweetly? doth she call thee “cousin" if thy cousin singest exquisite songs at in a low confiding tone ? If so, I pray any time, do thou keep time with thy thee avoid her—fly from herlock thy feet, and see that thou do it loudly, door when she approacheth ; and if she that the noise of the stamping may exentereth thy apartment when thou art ceed threefold the noise of the singing ; sitting alone of an evening, put out the and should thy father at any time call lamp, that darkness may be between thee unto thee and say, “ Lo! thy cousin and her—then button up thy coat and hath not any one who shall conduct her heart and depart quickly. If thou be- whither she would go, therefore do thou holdest her afar off in thy summer array thee and depart with her, that she rambles in the shadowy grove, or by the may not be rudely treated by the way ;” margin of the bright river, return thou if thy father speak thus unto thee, refuse hastily as one who fleeth from an enemy not, but his bidding, for a son may that seeketh his life. If thou meetest not refuse his father : but when ye are her unawares, pull thy hat over thy arrived in the open street be thou as an brow and pass on; and, remember, see adder that heareth not, even as an adder that thou salute her not by the way, or that is deaf—though thy cousin's voice evil will come of it; for, 'twere less be as musical as the pipe of the charmdangerous to thee to gaze upon the head er, yet be not thou charmed, “ charm of the Medusa than bestow a single she never so wisely ;" take heed that glance upon the laughing features of a thou doth this lest thy cousin cozen cousin of eighteen. Treasure these pre- thee; and if a rude man should push cepts in thy heart, so shalt thou be safe against her as ye walk together in the in the midst of temptation ; but if thou street, even in the street of the city of abatest one jot in thy vigilance, thou many men, and thy cousin fall, do not wilt ere many days become as one who thou smite the man, but bid him raise putteth on sackcloth and ashes for a her, and if he sayeth nay, and passeth grievous penance, and walketh through on, do thou ask the next wayfarer ; but the city of many men crying aloud, wo! be sure that thou raise her not thyself, wo! wo! Therefore, guard thyself for lest thine eyes meet hers, for it may be the contest, and if she dwelleth in the that she fell hoping to rise in thy esteem house of thy father, depart thou from it, even as he of the Horatii retreated to and though they send to thee and say, conquer—for cousins are exceedingly “ what is this that thou hast done! artful ; and when ye have arrived at the Verily, it is a foolish thing ; return, for place wherein thy cousin is fain to enter, we lack thy presence at the board”- do thou ring and retire quickly lest that yet go thou not back; and if thou the good man of the house should call to visitest the house of a friend, and thy thee and say, “ Tarry thou with us cousin happeneth to be in and is seated a while ;” for, should he speak the