The Charterhouse of Parma, by Stendhal


So, less than a month after his arrival at court, Fabrizio had tasted all the sorrows of a courtier, and the intimate friendship which constituted the happiness of his life was poisoned. One evening, tormented by these thoughts, he left that drawing-room of the Duchessa in which he had too much of the air of a reigning lover; wandering at random through the town, he came opposite the theatre, in which he saw lights; he went in. It was a gratuitous imprudence in a man of his cloth and one that he had indeed vowed that he would avoid in Parma, which, after all, is only a small town of forty thousand inhabitants. It is true that after the first few days he had got rid of his official costume; in the evenings, when he was not going into the very highest society, he used simply to dress in black like a layman in mourning.

At the theatre he took a box on the third tier, so as not to be noticed; the play was Goldoni’s La Locanderia. He examined the architecture of the building, scarcely did he turn his eyes to the stage. But the crowded audience kept bursting into laughter at every moment; Fabrizio gave a glance at the young actress who was playing the part of the landlady, and found her amusing. He looked at her more closely; she seemed to him quite attractive, and, above all, perfectly natural; she was a simple-minded young girl who was the first to laugh at the witty lines Goldoni had put into her mouth, lines which she appeared to be quite surprised to be uttering. He asked what her name was, and was told: “Marietta Valserra.”

“Ah!” he thought; “she has taken my name; that is odd.” In spite of his intentions he did not leave the theatre until the end of the piece. The following evening he returned; three days later he knew Marietta Valserra’s address.

On the evening of the day on which, with a certain amount of trouble, he had procured this address, he noticed that the Conte was looking at him in the most friendly way. The poor jealous lover, who had all the trouble in the world in keeping within the bounds of prudence, had set spies on the young man’s track, and this theatrical escapade pleased him. How are we to depict the Conte’s joy when, on the day following that on which he had managed to bring himself to look amicably at Fabrizio, he learned that the latter, in the partial disguise, it must be admitted, of a long blue frock-coat, had climbed to the wretched apartment which Marietta Valserra occupied on the fourth floor of an old house behind the theatre? His joy was doubled when he heard that Fabrizio had presented himself under a false name, and had had the honour to arouse the jealousy of a scapegrace named Giletti, who in town played Third Servant, and in the villages danced on the tight rope. This noble lover of Marietta cursed Fabrizio most volubly and expressed a desire to kill him.

Opera companies are formed by an impresario who engages in different places the artists whom he can afford to pay or has found unemployed, and the company collected at random remains together for one season or two at most. It is not so with comedy companies; while passing from town to town and changing their address every two or three months, they nevertheless form a family of which all the members love or loathe one another. There are in these companies united couples whom the beaux of the towns in which the actors appear find it sometimes exceedingly difficult to sunder. This is precisely what happened to our hero. Little Marietta liked him well enough, but was horribly afraid of Giletti, who claimed to be her sole lord and master and kept a close watch over her. He protested everywhere that he would kill the Monsignore, for he had followed Fabrizio, and had succeeded in discovering his name. This Giletti was quite the ugliest creature imaginable and the least fitted to be a lover: tall out of all proportion, he was horribly thin, strongly pitted by smallpox, and inclined to squint. In addition, being endowed with all the graces of his profession, he was continually coming into the wings where his fellow-actors were assembled, turning cart-wheels on his feet and hands or practising some other pretty trick. He triumphed in those parts in which the actor has to appear with his face whitened with flour and to give or receive a countless number of blows with a cudgel. This worthy rival of Fabrizio drew a monthly salary of 32 francs, and thought himself extremely well off.

Conte Mosca felt himself drawn up from the gate of the tomb when his watchers gave him the full authority for all these details. His kindly nature reappeared; he seemed more gay and better company than ever in the Duchessa’s drawing-room, and took good care to say nothing to her of the little adventure which had restored him to life. He even took steps to ensure that she should be informed of everything that occurred with the greatest possibly delay. Finally he had the courage to listen to the voice of reason, which had been crying to him in vain for the last month that, whenever a lover’s lustre begins to fade, it is time for that lover to travel.

Urgent business summoned him to Bologna, and twice a day cabinet messengers brought him not so much the official papers of his departments as the latest news of the love affairs of little Marietta, the rage of the terrible Giletti and the enterprises of Fabrizio.

One of the Conte’s agents asked several times for Arlecchino fantasma e pasticcio, one of Giletti’s triumphs (he emerges from the pie at the moment when his rival Brighella is sticking the knife into it, and gives him a drubbing); this was an excuse for making him earn 100 francs. Giletti, who was riddled with debts, took care not to speak of this windfall, but became astonishing in his arrogance.

Fabrizio’s whim changed to a wounded pride (at his age, his anxieties had already reduced him to the state of having whims!). Vanity led him to the theatre; the little girl acted in the most sprightly fashion and amused him; on leaving the theatre, he was in love for an hour. The Conte returned to Parma on receiving the news that Fabrizio was in real danger; Giletti, who had served as a trooper in that fine regiment the Dragoni Napoleone, spoke seriously of killing him, and was making arrangements for a subsequent flight to Romagna. If the reader is very young, he will be scandalised by our admiration for this fine mark of virtue. It was, however, no slight act of heroism on the part of Conte Mosca, his return from Bologna; for, after all, frequently in the morning he presented a worn appearance, and Fabrizio was always so fresh, so serene! Who would ever have dreamed of reproaching him with the death of Fabrizio, occurring in his absence and from so stupid a cause? But his was one of those rare spirits which make an everlasting remorse out of a generous action which they might have done and did not do; besides, he could not bear the thought of seeing the Duchessa look sad, and by any fault of his.

He found her, on his arrival, taciturn and gloomy. This is what had occurred: the little lady’s maid, Cecchina, tormented by remorse and estimating the importance of her crime by the immensity of the sum that she had received for committing it, had fallen ill. One evening the Duchessa, who was devoted to her, went up to her room. The girl could not hold out against this mark of kindness; she dissolved in tears, was for handing over to her mistress all that she still possessed of the money she had received, and finally had the courage to confess to her the questions asked by the Conte and her own replies to them. The Duchessa ran to the lamp, which she blew out, then said to little Cecchina that she forgave her, but on condition that she never uttered a word about this strange episode to anyone in the world. “The poor Conte,” she added in a careless tone, “is afraid of being laughed at; all men are like that.”

The Duchessa hastened downstairs to her own apartments. No sooner had she shut the door of her bedroom than she burst into tears; there seemed to her something horrible in the idea of her making love to Fabrizio, whom she had seen brought into the world; and yet what else could her behaviour imply?

This had been the primary cause of the black melancholy in which the Conte found her plunged; on his arrival she suffered fits of impatience with him, and almost with Fabrizio; she would have liked never to set eyes on either of them again; she was contemptuous of the part, ridiculous in her eyes, which Fabrizio was playing with the little Marietta; for the Conte had told her everything, like a true lover, incapable of keeping a secret. She could not grow used to this disaster; her idol had a fault; finally, in a moment of frank friendship, she asked the Conte’s advice; this was for him a delicious instant, and a fine reward for the honourable impulse which had made him return to Parma.

“What could be more simple?” said the Conte, smiling. “Young men want to have every woman they see, and next day they do not give her a thought. Ought he not to be going to Belgirate, to see the Marchesa del Dongo? Very well, let him go. During his absence, I shall request the company of comedians to take their talents elsewhere, I shall pay their travelling expenses; but presently we shall see him in love with the first pretty woman that may happen to come his way: it is in the nature of things, and I should not care to see him act otherwise. . . . If necessary, get the Marchesa to write to him.”

This suggestion, offered with the air of a complete indifference, came as a ray of light to the Duchessa; she was frightened of Giletti. That evening, the Conte announced, as though by chance, that one of his couriers, on his way to Vienna, would be passing through Milan; three days later Fabrizio received a letter from his mother. He seemed greatly annoyed at not having yet been able, thanks to Giletti’s jealousy, to profit by the excellent intentions, assurance of which little Marietta had conveyed to him through a mammaccia, an old woman who acted as her mother.

Fabrizio found his mother and one of his sisters at Beigirate, a large village in Piedmont, on the right shore of Lake Maggiore; the left shore belongs to the Milanese, and consequently to Austria. This lake, parallel to the Lake of Como, and also running from north to south, is situated some ten leagues farther to the west. The mountain air, the majestic and tranquil aspect of this superb lake which recalled to him that other on the shores of which he had spent his childhood, all helped to transform into a tender melancholy Fabrizio’s grief, which was akin to anger. It was with an infinite tenderness that the memory of the Duchessa now presented itself to him; he felt that in separation he was acquiring for her that love which he had never felt for any woman; nothing would have been more painful to him than to be separated from her for ever, and, he being in this frame of mind, if the Duchessa had deigned to have recourse to the slightest coquetry, she could have conquered this heart by — for instance — presenting it with a rival. But, far from taking any so decisive a step, it was not without the keenest self-reproach that she found her thoughts constantly following in the young traveller’s footsteps. She reproached herself for what she still called a fancy, as though it had been something horrible; she redoubled her forethought for and attention to the Conte, who, captivated by such a display of charm, paid no heed to the sane voice of reason which was prescribing a second visit to Bologna.

The Marchesa del Dongo, busy with preparations for the wedding of her elder daughter, whom she was marrying to a Milanese Duca, could give only three days to her beloved son; never had she found in him so tender an affection. Through the cloud of melancholy that was more and more closely enwrapping Fabrizio’s heart, an odd and indeed ridiculous idea had presented itself, and he had suddenly decided to adopt it. Dare we say that he wished to consult Priore Blanès? That excellent old man was totally incapable of understanding the sorrows of a heart torn asunder by boyish passions more or less equal in strength; besides, it would have taken a week to make him gather even a faint impression of all the conflicting interests that Fabrizio had to consider at Parma; but in the thought of consulting him Fabrizio recaptured the freshness of his sensations at the age of sixteen. Will it be believed? It was not simply as to a man full of wisdom, to an old and devoted friend, that Fabrizio wished to speak to him; the object of this expedition, and the feelings that agitated our hero during the fifty hours that it lasted are so absurd that, doubtless, in the interests of our narrative, it would have been better to suppress them. I am afraid that Fabrizio’s credulity may make him forfeit the sympathy of the reader; but after all thus it was; why flatter him more than another? I have not flattered Conte Mosca, nor the Prince.

Fabrizo, then, since the whole truth must be told, Fabrizio escorted his mother as far as the port of Laveno, on the left shore of Lake Maggiore, the Austrian shore, where she landed about eight o’clock in the evening. (The lake is regarded as neutral territory, and no passport is required of those who do not set foot on shore.) But scarcely had night fallen when he had himself ferried to this same Austrian shore, and landed in a little wood which juts out into the water. He had hired a sediola, a sort of rustic and fast-moving tilbury, by means of which he was able, at a distance of five hundred yards, to keep up with his mother’s carriage; he was disguised as a servant of the casa del Dongo, and none of the many police or customs officials ever thought of asking him for his passport. A quarter of a league before Como, where the Marchesa and her daughter were to stop for the night, he took a path to the left which, making a circuit of the village of Vico, afterwards joined a little road recently made along the extreme edge of the lake. It was midnight, and Fabrizio could count upon not meeting any of the police. The trees of the various thickets into which the little road kept continually diving traced the black outline of their foliage against a sky bright with stars but veiled by a slight mist. Water and sky were of a profound tranquillity. Fabrizio’s soul could not resist this sublime beauty; he stopped, then sat down on a rock which ran out into the lake, forming almost a little promontory. The universal silence was disturbed only, at regular intervals, by the faint ripple of the lake as it lapped on the shore. Fabrizio had an Italian heart; I crave the reader’s pardon for him: this defect, which will render him less attractive, consisted mainly in this: he had no vanity, save by fits and starts, and the mere sight of sublime beauty melted him to a tender mood and took from his sorrows their hard and bitter edge. Seated on his isolated rock, having no longer any need to be on his guard against the police, protected by the profound night and the vast silence, gentle tears moistened his eyes, and he found there, with little or no effort, the happiest moments that he had tasted for many a day.

He resolved never to tell the Duchessa any falsehood, and it was because he loved her to adoration at that moment that he vowed to himself never to say to her that he loved her; never would he utter in her hearing the word love, since the passion which bears that name was a stranger to his heart. In the enthusiasm of generosity and virtue which formed his happiness at that moment, he made the resolution to tell her, at the first opportunity, everything: his heart had never known love. Once this courageous plan had been definitely adopted, he felt himself delivered of an enormous burden. “She will perhaps have something to say to me about Marietta; very well, I shall never see my little Marietta again,” he assured himself blithely.

The overpowering heat which had prevailed throughout the day was beginning to be tempered by the morning breeze. Already dawn was outlining in a faint white glimmer the Alpine peaks that rise to the north and east of Lake Como. Their massive shapes, bleached by their covering of snow, even in the month of June, stand out against the pellucid azure of a sky which at those immense altitudes is always pure. A spur of the Alps stretching southwards into smiling Italy separates the sloping shores of Lake Como from those of the Lake of Garda. Fabrizio followed with his eye all the branches of these sublime mountains, the dawn as it grew brighter came to mark the valleys that divide them, gilding the faint mist which rose from the gorges beneath.

Some minutes since, Fabrizio had taken the road again; he passed the hill that forms the peninsula of Burini, and at length there met his gaze that campanile of the village of Grianta in which he had so often made observations of the stars with Priore Blanès. “What bounds were there to my ignorance in those days? I could not understand,” he reminded himself, “even the ridiculous Latin of those treatises on astrology which my master used to pore over, and I think I respected them chiefly because, understanding only a few words here and there, my imagination stepped in to give them a meaning, and the most romantic sense imaginable.”

Gradually his thoughts entered another channel. “May not there be something genuine in this science? Why should it be different from the rest? A certain number of imbeciles and quick-witted persons agree among themselves that they know (shall we say) Mexican; they impose themselves with this qualification upon society which respects them and governments which pay them. Favours are showered upon them precisely because they have no real intelligence, and authority need not fear their raising the populace and creating an atmosphere of rant by the aid of generous sentiments! For instance, Father Bari, to whom Ernesto IV has just awarded a pension of 4,000 francs and the Cross of his Order for having restored nineteen lines of a Greek dithyramb!

“But, Great God, have I indeed the right to find such things ridiculous? Is it for me to complain?” he asked himself, suddenly, stopping short in the road, “has not that same Cross just been given to my governor at Naples?” Fabrizio was conscious of a feeling of intense disgust; the fine enthusiasm for virtue which had just been making his heart beat high changed into the vile pleasure of having a good share in the spoils of a robbery. “After all,” he said to himself at length, with the lustreless eyes of a man who is dissatisfied with himself, “since my birth gives me the right to profit by these abuses, it would be a signal piece of folly on my part not to take my share, but I must never let myself denounce them in public.” This reasoning was by no means unsound; but Fabrizio had fallen a long way from that elevation of sublime happiness to which he had found himself transported an hour earlier. The thought of privilege had withered that plant, always so delicate, which we name happiness.

“If we are not to believe in astrology,” he went on, seeking to calm himself; “if this science is, like three quarters of the sciences that are not mathematical, a collection of enthusiastic simpletons and adroit hypocrites paid by the masters they serve, how does it come about that I think so often and with emotion of this fatal circumstance: I did make my escape from the prison at B— — but in the uniform and with the marching orders of a soldier who had been flung into prison with good cause?”

Fabrizio’s reasoning could never succeed in penetrating farther; he went a hundred ways round the difficulty without managing to surmount it. He was too young still; in his moments of leisure, his mind devoted itself with rapture to enjoying the sensations produced by the romantic circumstances with which his imagination was always ready to supply him. He was far from employing his time in studying with patience the actual details of things in order to discover their causes. Reality still seemed to him flat and muddy; I can understand a person’s not caring to look at it, but then he ought not to argue about it. Above all, he ought not to fashion objections out of the scattered fragments of his ignorance.

Thus it was that, though not lacking in brains, Fabrizio could not manage to see that his half-belief in omens was for him a religion, a profound impression received at his entering upon life. To think of this belief was to feel, it was a happiness. And he set himself resolutely to discover how this could be a proved, a real science, in the same category as geometry, for example. He searched his memory strenuously for all the instances in which omens observed by him had not been followed by the auspicious or inauspicious events which they seemed to herald. But all this time, while he believed himself to be following a line of reasoning and marching towards the truth, his attention kept coming joyfully to rest on the memory of the occasions on which the foreboding had been amply followed by the happy or unhappy accident which it had seemed to him to predict, and his heart was filled with respect and melted; and he would have felt an invincible repugnance for the person who denied the value of omens, especially if in doing so he had had recourse to irony.

Fabrizio walked on without noticing the distance he was covering, and had reached this point in his vain reasonings when, raising his head, he saw the wall of his father’s garden. This wall, which supported a fine terrace, rose to a height of more than forty feet above the road, on its right. A cornice of wrought stone along the highest part, next to the balustrade, gave it a monumental air. “It is not bad,” Fabrizio said to himself dispassionately, “it is good architecture, a little in the Roman style”; he applied to it his recently acquired knowledge of antiquities. Then he turned his head away in disgust; his father’s severities, and especially the denunciation of himself by his brother Ascanio on his return from his wanderings in France, came back to his mind.

“That unnatural denunciation was the origin of my present existence; I may detest, I may despise it; when all is said and done, it has altered my destiny. What would have become of me once I had been packed off to Novara, and my presence barely tolerated in the house of my father’s agent, if my aunt had not made love to a powerful Minister? If the said aunt had happened to possess merely a dry, conventional heart instead of that tender and passionate heart which loves me with a sort of enthusiasm that astonishes me? Where should I be now if the Duchessa had had the heart of her brother the Marchese del Dongo?”

Oppressed by these cruel memories, Fabrizio began now to walk with an uncertain step; he came to the edge of the moat immediately opposite the magnificent façade of the castle. Scarcely did he cast a glance at that great building, blackened by tune. The noble language of architecture left him unmoved, the memory of his brother and father stopped his heart to every sensation of beauty, he was attentive only to the necessity of keeping on his guard in the presence of hypocritical and dangerous enemies. He looked for an instant, but with a marked disgust, at the little window of the bedroom which he had occupied until 1815 on the third storey. His father’s character had robbed of all charm the memory of his early childhood. “I have not set foot in it,” he thought, “since the 7th of March, at eight o’clock in the evening. I left it to go and get the passport from Vasi, and next morning my fear of spies made me hasten my departure. When I passed through again after my visit to France, I had not time to go upstairs, even to look at my prints again, and that thanks to my brother’s denouncing me.”

Fabrizio turned away his head in horror. “Priore Blanès is eighty-three at the very least,” he said sorrowfully to himself; “he hardly ever comes to the castle now, from what my sister tells me; the infirmities of old age have had their effect on him. That heart, once so strong and noble, is frozen by age. Heaven knows how long it is since he last went up to his campanile! I shall hide myself in the cellar, under the vats or under the wine-press, until he is awake; I shall not go in and disturb the good old man in his sleep; probably he will have forgotten my face, even; six years mean a great deal at his age! I shall find only the tomb of a friend! And it is really childish of me,” he added, “to have come here to provoke the disgust that the sight of my father’s castle gives me.”

Fabrizio now came to the little piazza in front of the church; it was with an astonishment bordering on delirium that he saw, on the second stage of the ancient campanile, the long and narrow window lighted by the little lantern of Priore Blanès. The Priore was in the habit of leaving it there when he climbed to the cage of planks which formed his observatory, so that the light should not prevent him from reading the face of his plain sphere. This chart of the heavens was stretched over a great jar of terracotta which had originally belonged to one of the orange-trees at the castle. In the opening, at the bottom of the jar, burned the tiniest of lamps, the smoke of which was carried away from the jar through a little tin pipe, and the shadow of the pipe indicated the north on the chart. All these memories of things so simple in themselves deluged Fabrizio’s heart with emotions and filled him with happiness.

Almost without thinking, he put his hands to his lips and gave the little, short, low whistle which had formerly been the signal for his admission. At once he heard several tugs given to the cord which, from the observatory above, opened the latch of the campanile door. He dashed headlong up the staircase, moved to a transport of excitement; he found the Priore in his wooden armchair in his accustomed place; his eye was fixed on the little glass of a mural quadrant. With his left hand the Priore made a sign to Fabrizio not to interrupt him in his observation; a moment later, he wrote down a figure upon a playing card, then, turning round in his chair, opened his arms to our hero, who flung himself into them, dissolved in tears. Priore Blanès was his true father.

“I expected you,” said Blanès, after the first warm words of affection. Was the Priore speaking in his character as a diviner, or, indeed, as he often thought of Fabrizio, had some astrological sign, by pure chance, announced to him the young man’s return?

“This means that my death is at hand,” said Priore Blanès.

“What!” cried Fabrizio, quite overcome.

“Yes,” the Priore went on in a serious but by no means sad tone: “five months and a half, or six months and a half after I have seen you again, my life having found its full complement of happiness will be extinguished

Come face al mancar dell’alimento

(as the little lamp is when its oil runs dry). “Before the supreme moment, I shall probably pass a month or two without speaking, after which I shall be received into Our Father’s Bosom; provided always that He finds that I have performed my duty in the post in which He has placed me as a sentinel.

“But you, you are worn out with exhaustion, your emotion makes you ready for sleep. Since I began to expect you, I have hidden a loaf of bread and a bottle of brandy for you in the great chest which holds my instruments. Give yourself that sustenance, and try to collect enough strength to listen to me for a few moments longer. It lies in my power to tell you a number of things before night shall have given place altogether to days; at present I see them a great deal more distinctly than perhaps I shall see them tomorrow. For, my child, we are at all times frail vessels, and we must always take that frailty into account. To-morrow, it may be, the old man, the earthly man in me will be occupied with preparations for my death, and tomorrow evening at nine o’clock, you will have to leave me.”

Fabrizio having obeyed him in silence, as was his custom:

“Then, it is true,” the old man went on, “that when you tried to see Waterloo you found nothing at first but a prison?”

“Yes, Father,” replied Fabrizio in amazement.

“Well, that was a rare piece of good fortune, for, warned by my voice, your soul can prepare itself for another prison, far different in its austerity, far more terrible! Probably you will escape from it only by a crime; but, thanks be to heaven, that crime will not have been committed by you. Never fall into crime, however violently you may be tempted; I seem to see that it will be a question of killing an innocent man, who, without knowing it, usurps your rights; if you resist the violent temptation which will seem to be justified by the laws of honour, your life will be most happy in the eyes of men . . . and reasonably happy in the eyes of the sage,” he added after a moment’s reflexion; “you will die like me, my son, sitting upon a wooden seat, far from all luxury and having seen the hollowness of luxury, and like me not having to reproach yourself with any grave sin.

“And now, the discussion of your future state is at an end between us, I could add nothing of any importance. It is in vain that I have tried to see how long this imprisonment is to last; is it to be for six months, a year, ten years? I have been able to discover nothing; apparently I have made some error, and heaven has wished to punish me by the distress of this uncertainty. I have seen only that after your prison, but I do not know whether it is to be at the actual moment of your leaving it, there will be what I call a crime; but, fortunately, I believe I can be sure that it will not be committed by you. If you are weak enough to involve yourself in this crime, all the rest of my calculations becomes simply one long error. Then you will not die with peace in your soul, on a wooden seat and clad in white.” As he said these words, Priore Blanès attempted to rise; it was then that Fabrizio noticed the ravages of time; it took him nearly a minute to get upon his feet and to turn towards Fabrizio. Our hero allowed him to do this, standing motionless and silent. The Priore flung himself into his arms again and again; he embraced him with extreme affection. After which he went on, with all the gaiety of the old days: “Try to make a place for yourself among all my instruments where you can sleep with some comfort; take my furs; you will find several of great value which the Duchessa Sanseverina sent me four years ago. She asked me for a forecast of your fate, which I took care not to give her, while keeping her furs and her fine quadrant. Every announcement of the future is a breach of the rule, and contains this danger, that it may alter the event, in which case the whole science falls to the ground, like a child’s card-castle; and besides, there were things that it was hard to say to that Duchessa who is always so charming. But let me warn you, do not be startled in your sleep by the bells, which will make a terrible din in your ear when the men come to ring for the seven o’clock mass; later on, in the stage below, they will set the big campanarie going, which shakes all my instruments. To-day is the feast of San Giovila, Martyr and Soldier. As you know, the little village of Grianta has the same patron as the great city of Brescia, which, by the way, led to a most amusing mistake on the part of my illustrious master, Giacomo Marini of Ravenna. More than once he announced to me that I should have quite a fine career in the church; he believed that I was to be the curate of the magnificent church of San Giovila, at Brescia; I have been the curate of a little village of seven hundred and fifty chimneys! But all has been for the best. I have seen, and not ten years ago, that if I had been curate at Brescia, my destiny would have been to be cast into prison on a hill in Moravia, the Spielberg. To-morrow I shall bring you all manner of delicacies pilfered from the great dinner which I am giving to all the clergy of the district who are coming to sing at my high mass. I shall leave them down below, but do not make any attempt to see me, do not come down to take possession of the good things until you have heard me go out again. You must not see me again by daylight, and as the sun sets tomorrow at twenty-seven minutes past seven, I shall not come up to embrace you until about eight, and it is necessary that you depart while the hours are still numbered by nine, that is to say before the clock has struck ten. Take care that you are not seen in the windows of the campanile: the police have your description, and they are to some extent under the orders of your brother, who is a famous tyrant. The Marchese del Dongo is growing feeble,” added Blanès with a sorrowful air, “and if he were to see you again, perhaps he would let something pass to you, from hand to hand. But such benefits, tainted with deceit, do not become a man like yourself, whose strength will lie one day in his conscience. The Marchese abhors his son Ascanio, and it is on that son that the five or six millions that he possesses will devolve. That is justice. You, at his death, will have a pension of 4,000 francs, and fifty ells of black cloth for your servants’ mourning.”

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00