A B C D E F
G H I J K L M 

Total read books on site:
more than 10 000

You can read its for free!


Text on one page: Few Medium Many
E-text prepared by Curtis Weyant, Bill Hershey, and Project
Distributed Proofreaders



THE ITALIANS:

A Novel

BY FRANCES ELLIOT

AUTHOR OF "ROMANCE OF OLD COURT LIFE IN FRANCE," "THE DIARY OF AN IDLE
WOMAN IN ITALY," ETC., ETC.

1875






TO

THE REAL ENRICA,

WITH

THE AUTHOR'S LOVE.




CONTENTS


PART I.

I. LUCCA
II. THE CATHEDRAL OF LUCCA
III. THE THREE WITCHES
IV. THE MARCHESA GUINIGI
V. ENRICA
VI. MARCHESA GUINIGI AT HOME
VII. COUNT MARESCOTTI
VIII. THE CABINET COUNCIL
IX. THE COUNTESS ORSETTI'S BALL


PART II.

I. CALUMNY
II. CHURCH OF SAN FREDIANO
III. THE GUINIGI TOWER
IV. COUNT NOBILI
V. NUMBER FOUR AT THE UNIVERSO HOTEL
VI. A NEW PHILOSOPHY
VII. THE MARCHESA'S PASSION
VIII. ENRICA'S TRIAL
IX. WHAT CAME OF IT


PART III.


I. A LONELY TOWN
II. WHAT SILVESTRO SAYS
III. WHAT CAME OF BURNING THE MARCHESA'S PAPERS
IV. WHAT A PRIEST SHOULD BE
V. "SAY NOT TOO MUCH"
VI. THE CONTRACT
VII. THE CLUB AT LUCCA
VIII. COUNT NOBILI'S THOUGHTS
IX. NERA


PART IV.


I. WAITING AND LONGING
II. A STORM AT THE VILLA
III. BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH
IV. FRA PACIFICO AND THE MARCHESA
V. TO BE, OR NOT TO BE?
VI. THE CHURCH AND THE LAW
VII. THE HOUR STRIKES
VIII. FOR THE HONOR OF A NAME
IX. HUSBAND VERSUS WIFE
X. THE LAWYER BAFFLED
XI. FACE TO FACE
XII. OH BELLO!







PART I.



CHAPTER I.

LUCCA.


We are at Lucca. It is the 13th of September, 1870--the anniversary of
the festival of the Volto Santo--a notable day, both in city, suburb,
and province. Lucca dearly loves its festivals--no city more; and of
all the festivals of the year that of the Volto Santo best. Now the
Volto Santo (_Anglicè_, Holy Countenance) is a miraculous crucifix,
which hangs, as may be seen, all by itself in a gorgeous chapel--more
like a pagoda than a chapel, and more like a glorified bird-cage than
either--built expressly for it among the stout Lombard pillars in the
nave of the cathedral. The crucifix is of cedar-wood, very black, and
very ugly, and it was carved by Nicodemus; of this fact no orthodox
Catholic entertains a doubt. But on what authority I cannot tell, nor
why, nor how, the Holy Countenance reached the snug little city of
Lucca, except by flying through the air like the Loretto house, or
springing out of the earth like the Madonna of Feltri. But here it is,
and here it has been for many a long year; and here it will remain
as a miraculous relic, bringing with it blessings and immunities
innumerable to the grateful city.

What a glorious morning it is! The sun rose without a cloud. Now there
is a golden haze hanging over the plain, and glints as of living flame
on the flanks of the mountains. From all sides crowds are pressing
toward Lucca. Before six o'clock every high-road is alive. Down from
the highest mountain-top of Pizzorna, overlooking Florence and its
vine-garlanded campagna, comes the hermit, brown-draped, in hood and
mantle; staff in hand, he trudges along the dusty road. And down,
too, from his native lair among the pigs and the poultry, comes the
black-eyed, black-skinned, matted-haired urchin, who makes mud pies
under the tufted ilex-trees at Ponte a Moriano, and swears at the
hermit.

They come! they come! From mountain-sides bordering the broad road
along the Serchio--mountains dotted with bright homesteads, each
gleaming out of its own cypress-grove, olive-patch, canebrake, and
vine-arbor, under which the children play--they come from solitary
hovels, hung up, as it were, in mid-air, over gloomy ravines, scored
and furrowed with red earth, down which dark torrents dash and spray.

They come! they come! these Tuscan peasants, a trifle too fond of
holiday-keeping, like their betters--but what would you have? The land
is fertile, and corn and wine and oil and rosy flowering almonds grow
almost as of themselves. They come--tens and tens of miles away, from
out the deep shadows of primeval chestnut-woods, clothing the flanks
of rugged Apennines with emerald draperies. They come--through parting
rocks, bordering nameless streams--cool, delicious waters, over which
bend fig, peach, and plum, delicate ferns and unknown flowers. They
come--from hamlets and little burghs, gathered beside lush pastures,
where tiny rivulets trickle over fresh turf and fragrant herbs,
lulling the ear with softest echoes.

They come--dark-eyed mothers and smiling daughters, decked with
gold pins, flapping Leghorn hats, lace veils or snowy handkerchiefs
gathered about their heads, coral beads, and golden crosses as big as
shields, upon their necks--escorted by lover, husband, or father--a
flower behind his ear, a slouch hat on his head, a jacket thrown over
one arm, every man shouldering a red umbrella, although to doubt the
weather to-day is absolute sacrilege!

Carts clatter by every moment, drawn by swift Maremma nags, gay with
brass harness, tinkling bells, and tassels of crimson on reins and
frontlet.

The carts are laden with peasants (nine, perhaps, ranged three
abreast)--treason to the gallant animal that, tossing its little head,
bravely struggles with the cruel load. A priest is stuck in bodkin
among his flock--a priest who leers and jests between pinches of
snuff, and who, save for his seedy black coat, knee-breeches, worsted
stockings, shoe-buckles, clerical hat, and smoothly-shaven chin, is
rougher than a peasant himself.

Riders on Elba ponies, with heavy cloaks (for the early morning, spite
of its glories, is chill), spur by, adding to the dust raised by the
carts.

Genteel flies and hired carriages with two horses, and hood and
foot-board--pass, repass, and out-race each other. These flies and
carriages are crammed with bailiffs from the neighboring villas,
shopkeepers, farmers, and small proprietors. Donkeys, too, there are
in plenty, carrying men bigger than themselves (under protest, be it
observed, for here, as in all countries, your donkey, though marked
for persecution, suffers neither willingly nor in silence). Begging
friars, tanned like red Indians, glide by, hot and grimy (thank
Heaven! not many now, for "New Italy" has sacked most of the convent
rookeries and dispersed the rooks), with wallets on their shoulders,
to carry back such plunder as can be secured, to far-off convents and
lonely churches, folded up tightly in forest fastnesses.

All are hurrying onward with what haste they may, to reach the city
of Lucca, while broad shadows from the tall mountains on either hand
still fall athwart the roads, and cool morning air breathes up from
the rushing Serchio.

The Serchio--a noble river, yet willful as a mountain-torrent--flows
round the embattled walls of Lucca, and falls into the Mediterranean
below Pisa. It is calm now, on this day of the great festival,
sweeping serenely by rocky capes, and rounding into fragrant bays,
where overarching boughs droop and feather. But there is a sullen
look about its current, that tells how wicked it can be, this Serchio,
lashed into madness by winter storms, and the overflowing of the
water-gates above, among the high Apennines--at the Abbetone at San
Marcello, or at windy, ice-bound Pracchia.

How fair are thy banks, O mountain-bordered Serchio! How verdant
with near wood and neighboring forest! How gay with cottage
groups--open-galleried and garlanded with bunches of golden maize and
vine-branches--all laughing in the sun! The wine-shops, too, along the
road, how tempting, with snowy table-cloths spread upon dressers under
shady arbors of lemon--trees; pleasant odors from the fry cooking in
the stove, mixing with the perfume of the waxy flowers! Dear to
the nostrils of the passers-by are these odors. They snuff them
up--onions, fat, and macaroni, with delight. They can scarcely resist
stopping once for all here, instead of waiting for their journey's end
to eat at Lucca.

But the butterflies--and they are many--are wiser in their generation.
The butterflies have a festival of their own to-day. They do not wait
for any city. They are fixed to no spot. They can hold their festival
anywhere under the blue sky, in the broad sunshine.

See how they dance among the flowers! Be it spikes of wild-lavender,
or yellow down within the Canterbury bell, or horn of purple
cyclamens, or calyx of snowy myrtle, the soft bosom of tall lilies or
glowing petals of red cloves--nothing comes amiss to the butterflies.
They are citizens of the world, and can feast wherever fancy leads
them.

Meanwhile, on comes the crowd, nearer and nearer to the city of their
pilgrimage, laughing, singing, talking, smoking. Your Italian peasant
must sleep or smoke, excepting when he plays at _morra_ (one, two,
three, and away!). Then he puts his pipe into his pocket. The
women are conversing in deep voices, in the _patois_ of the various
villages. The men, more silent, search out who is fairest--to lead
her on the way, to kneel beside her at the shrine, and, most prized of
all, to conduct her home. Each village has its belle, each belle her
circle of admirers. Belles and beaux all have their own particular
plan of diversion for the day. For is it not a great day? And is it
not stipulated in many of the marriage contracts among the mountain
tribes that the husband must, under a money penalty, conduct his wife
to the festival of the Holy Countenance once at least in four years?
The programme is this: First, they enter the cathedral, kneel at the
glistening shrine of the black crucifix, kiss its golden slipper, and
hear mass. Then they will grasp such goods as the gods provide them,
in street, _café_, eating-house, or day theatre; make purchases in the
shops and booths, and stroll upon the ramparts. Later, when the sun
sinks westward over the mountains, and the deep canopy of twilight
falls, they will return by the way that they have come, until the
coming year.

* * * * *

Within the city, from before daybreak, church-bells--and Lucca abounds
in belfries fretted tier upon tier, with galleries of delicate marble
colonnettes, all ablaze in the sunshine--have pealed out merrily.

Every church-door, draped with gold tissue and silken stuffs, more
or less splendid, is thrown wide open.



Pages: | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | 51 | | 52 | | 53 | | 54 | | 55 | | 56 | | 57 | | 58 | | 59 | | 60 | | 61 | | 62 | | 63 | | 64 | | 65 | | 66 | | 67 | | Next |

N O P Q R S T
U V W X Y Z 

Your last read book:

You dont read books at this site.