Charles James Lever.

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wife and ask recognition amongst his fellow-towns-
men. The house where she lived was, besieged by a
crowd, all more or less eager in asserting the woman's
cause, and denouncing the pretensions of a fellow


covered with crimes, and pronounced dead to all
civil rights. Amid execrations and insults, ^^ith
threats of even worse, Baldassare stood on a chair
in the street, in the act of addressing the multitude,
as Cutbill di-ew nigh. The impei-turbable self-pos-
session, the cool courage of the man — who dared to
brave public opinion in this fashion, and demand a
hearing for what in reality was nothing but a delibe-
rate insult to the people around him whose lives he
knew, and whose various social dereHctions he was
all familiar with, — was positively astounding. " I
have often thought of you, good people," said he,
" while at the galleys ; and I made a vow to myself
that the first act of my escape, if ever I should
escape, should be to visit this place and thank you
for every great lesson I have learned in life. It was
here, in this place, I committed my first theft ; it
was yonder in that chm-ch I first essayed sacrilege.
It was you, amiable and gentle people, who gave me
four associates who betrayed each other, and who
died on the drop or by the guillotine, with a courage
worthy of Aix ; and it was from you I received that
pearl of wives who is now married to a thii'd husband,
and denies the decent rights of hospitality to her first."


This outrage was now unbearable ; a rush was
made at him, and he fell amongst the crowd, who
had torn him limb from limb but for the intervention
of the police, who were driven to defend him with
fixed bayonets. " A warm reception I must say,"
cried the fellow, as they led him away bleeding and
bruised to the gaol.

It was not a difficult task for Cutbill to obtain
from Marie Pracontal the details he sought for.
Smarting under the insults and scandal she had
been exposed to on the day before, she revealed
everything, and signed in due form a i^roces verbal
drawn up by a notary of the place, of her marriage
with Baldassare, the birth of her son Anatole, with
the dates of his birth and baptism, and gave up
besides some letters which he had written while at
the naval school of Genoa. What became of him
afterwards she knew not, nor indeed seemed to care.
The cruelties of the father had poisoned her mind
against the son, and she showed no interest in his
fate, and wished not to hear of him.

Cutbill left Aix on the third day, and was slowly
strolling up the Mont Cenis pass in front of his
horses, when he overtook the very galley-slave he


had seen addressing the crowd at Aix. " I thought
they had sent you oyer the frontier into France, my
friend," said Cutbill, accosting him like an old

" So they did, but I gave them the slip at Culoz,
and doubled back. I have business at Rome, and
couldn't endure that round-about way by Marseilles."

" Will you smoke ? may I offer you a cigar ? "

"My best thanks," said he, touching his cap
politely. '' They smashed my pipe, those good
people down there ; like all villagers they resent free
speech, but they'd have learned something had they
listened to me."

" Perhaps your frankness was excessiye."

" Ha I you were there, then ? Well, it was what
Diderot calls self-sacrificing sincerity; but all men
who travel much and mix with varied classes of man-
kind, fall into this habit. In becoming cosmopolitan
you lose in politeness."

" Signor Baldassare, your conversation interests
me much. Will you accept a seat in my carriage
over the mountain, and give me the benefit of your

*' It is I that am honom-ed, sir," said he, re-


moving his cap, and bowing low. *' There is nothing
so distinctively well bred as the courtesy of a man in
yoiir condition to one in mine.^^

" But you are no stranger to me."

" Indeed ! I remarked you called me by my
name ; but I'm not aware that you know more of

" I can afford to rival your own candour, and
confess I know a great deal about you."

" Then you have read a very chequered page, sir.
What an admirable cigar. You import these, I'd
wager ? "

'' No ; but it comes to the same. I buy them in
bond and pay the duty."

" Yours is the only country to live in, sir. It
has been the dream of my life to pass my last days
in England."

" Why not do so ? I can't imagine that Aix will
prefer any strong claims in preference."

*' No, I don't care for Aix, though it is pretty,
and I have passed some daj^s of happy tranquility on
that little Lac de Bourges ; but to return : to what
fortunate circumstance am I indebted for the know-
ledge you possess of my biography ? "


'* You have been a yery interesting subject to me
for some time back. First of all, I ought to say
that I enjoy the pleasure of your son's acquaint-

'' A charming young man, I am told," said he,
puffing out a long column of smoke.

*' And without flatten', I repeat it — a charming
young man, good-looking, accomplished, high-
spirited and brave."

" You delight me, sir. What a misfortune for
the poor fellow that his antecedents have not been
more favourable ; but you see, Mr. "

" Cutbill is my name."

" Mr. Cutbill, you see that I have not only had
a great many irons in the fire through life, but
occasionally it has happened to me that I took hold
of them by the hot ends."

" And burned your fingers ? "

"And burned my fingers."

They walked on some steps in silence, when
Baldassare said, —

" Where, may I ask, did you last see my son ? "

*' I saw him last in Ireland about four months
ago. We travelled over together fi'om England, and


I visited a place called Castello in liis company, the
seat of the Bramleigh family."

" Then you know his object in having gone
there ? You know who he is, what he represents,
what he claims ? "

" I know the whole story by heart."
'' Will you favour me with your version of it ? "
"With pleasure ; but here is the carriage, let us
get in, for the narrative is somewhat long and com-

" Before you begin, sir, one question : where is
my son now ? is he at Eome ? "

" He is ; he arrived there on Tuesday last."
" That is enough — excuse my interrupting — I am
now at your orders."

The reader will readily excuse me if I do not
follow Mr. Cutbill in his story, which he told at full
length, and with what showed a perfect knowledge of
all the circumstances. It is true he was so far dis-
ingenuous that he did not confess the claim had ever
created alarm to the minds of the Bramleighs.
There were certain difficulties he admitted, and no
small expense incurred in obtaining information
abroad, and proving, as it was distinctly proved,


that no issue of Montagu Bramleigli had survived,
and that the pretensions of Pracontal were totally

" And your visit to Savoy was on this veiy
business?" asked Baldassare.

*' You are right ; a small detail was wanting
which I was able to supply."

'^ And how does Anatole bear the discovery ? "
" He has not heard of it ; he is at Eome, paying
court to an English lady of rank to whom he hopes
to be married."

" And how will he bear it ; in what spirit will he
meet the blow ? "

" From what I have seen of him, I'd say he'd
stand up nobly under misfoi*tune, and not less so
here, that I know he firmly believed in his riglit ; he
was no party to the fi*aud."

*' These frauds, as you call them, succeed every
day, and when they occur in high places we have
more courteous names to call them by. What say
you to the empire in France ? "

" I'll not discuss that question with you; it takes
too ^ide a range."

" Anatole must bethink him of some other
VOL. III. 66


livelihood now, that's clear. I mean to tell
him so."

" You intend to see him — to speak with him ?"

"What, sir, do you doubt it? Is it because
my wife rejects me that I am to be lost to the
ties of parental afiection ? " He said this with a
coarse and undisguised mockery, and then, suddenly
changing to a tone of earnestness, added, — " We
shall have to link our fortunes now, and there are not
many men who can give an adventurer such counsels
as I can."

" From what I know of the Bramleighs, they
would willingly befriend him if they knew how, or in
what way to do it."

" Nothing easier. All men's professions can be
brought to an easy test — so long as money exists."

" Let me know where to write to you, and I will
see what can be done."

" Or, rather, let me have your address, for my
whereabouts is somewhat uncertain."

Cutbill wi-ote his name and Cattaro on a shp of
paper, and the old fellow smiled grimly, and said, —
"Ah ! that was your clue then to this discovery. I
knew Giacomo died there, but it was a most unlikely


spot to track him to. Xotliing but chance, the
merest chance, could have led to it ? "

This he said interrogatively ; but Cutbill made
no reply.

" You don't care to imitate my frankness, sir ;
and I am not surprised at it. It is only a fellow
who has worn rags for years that doesn't fear
nakedness. Is my son trayelling alone, or has he a
companion ? "

''He had a companion some short time back;
but I do not know if they are together now."
" I shall learn all that at Eome."
" And have you no fears to be seen there ? Will
the authorities not meddle with you ? "

" Far from it. It is the one state in Europe
where men like myself enjoy liberty. They often
need us — they fear us always."

Cutbill was silent for some time. He seemed
like one revolving some project in his mind, but
unable to decide on what he should do. At last he
said, —

'•' You remember a young Englishman who made
his escape from Ischia last June ? "
" To be sure I do — my comrade."


** You will be astonisliecl to know he was a Bram-
leigh, a brother of the owner of the estate."

" It was so like my luck to have trusted him,"
said the other, bitterly.

*' You are wrong there. He was always your
friend — he is so at this moment. I have heard him
talk of you with great kindliness."

A careless shrug of the shoulders was the reply.

" Tell him from me," said he, with a savage
grin, '' that Onofrio — don't forget the name — Onofrio
is dead. We threw him over the cliff the night we
broke the gaol. There, let me write it "for you,"
said he, taking the pencil from Cutbill's hand, and
writing the word Onofrio in a large bold character.

" Keep that pencil-case, will you, as a souvenir ? "
said Cutbill.

" Give me ten francs instead, and I'll remember
you when I pay for my dinner," said he with a
grating laugh ; and he took the handful of loose
silver Cutbill offered him, and thrust it into his
pocket. *' Isn't that Souza we see in the valley
there ? Yes ; I remember it well. I'll go no
further wdth you — there's a police-station where I
had trouble once. I'll take the cross-j)ath here that


leads down to the Pinarola road. I thank yon
heartily. I wanted a little good-nature much when
you overtook me. Good-hy."

He leaped from the carriage as he spoke, and
crossing the little embankment of the road, descended
a steep slope, and was out of sight almost in an




In the same room where Pracontal and Longworth
had parted in anger, the two men, reconciled and
once more friends, sat over their dessert and a cigar.
The handsome reparation Pracontal had offered in a
letter had heen frankly and generously met, and it is
probahle that their friendship was only the more
strongly ratified by the incident.

They were both dressed with unusual care, for
Lady Augusta "received" a few intimate friends on
that evening, and Pracontal was to be presented to
them in his quality of accepted suitor.

" 1 think," said Longworth, laughingl}^, "it is
the sort of ordeal most Englishmen would feel very
awkward in. You are trotted out for the inspection
of a critical public, who are to declare what they
think of your eyes and your whiskers, if they augur


well of your temper, and whether, on the whole, you
are the sort of person to whom a woman might
confide her fate and future."

'' You talk as if I were to be sent before a juiy
and risk a sentence," said Pracontal, with a slight
irritation in his tone.

" It is something very like it."

*' And I say, there is no resemblance whatever."

" Don't you remember what Lord Bp-on in one
of his letters says of a memorable drive through
Kavenna one evening, where he was presented as
the accepted ? There's that hang-dog rascal that
followed us through the gardens of the Vatican this
morning, there he is again, sitting directly in front
of our window, and staring at us."

" Well, I take it, those benches were placed there
for fellows to rest on who had few arm-chairs at

" I don't think, in all my experience of humanity,
I every saw a face that revolted me more. He isn't
ugly, but there is something in the expression so
intensely wicked, that mockery of all goodness, that
Eetsch puts into Mephistopheles ; it actually thrills


*• I don't see that, — there is even drollery in the

" Yes, diaholic humour, certainly. Did jou see
that ? "

'' See what ? "

" Didn't you see that when I lifted my glass to
my lips, he made a pantomime of drinking too, and
howed to me, as though in salutation ? "

" I knew^ there was fun in the fellow. Let us call
him over and speak to him."

*' No, no, Pracontal ; do not, I beseech you. I
fell an aversion towards him that I cannot explain.
The rascal poisons the very claret I'm drinking just
by glancing at me."

" You are seldom so whimsical."

" Wouldn't you say the fellow knew we were talking
of him ? See, he is smiling now ; if that infernal grin
can be called a smile."

*'I declare, I will have him over here ; now don't
go, sit down like a good fellow ; there's no man
understands character better than yourself, and I am
positively curious to see how you will read this man.
on a closer inspection."

" He does not interest, he merely disgusts me."


Pracontal arose, drew high the window, and waved
his napkin in sign to the man, who at once got up
from his seat, and slowk, and half indolently, came
over to the window. He was dressed in a sort of
grey uniform of jacket and trousers, and wore a
kerchief on his head for a cap, a costume which
certainly in no degree contributed to lessen the
unfavourable impression his face imparted, for
there was in his look a mixture of fui-tiveness and
ferocity positively appalling.

"Do you like him better now?" asked Longworth,
in English.

And the fellow grinned at the words.

*'Yon understand English, eh?" asked Pra-

" Ay, I know most modern languages."

" What nation are you ? "

"A Savoyard."

*' Whence do you come now ? "

" From the galleys at Ischia."

" Frank that, anyhow," cried Longworth. " Were
you under sentence there ? "

" Yes, for life."

*' For what offence?"


*' For a score that I committed, and twice as
many that I failed in."

" Murder, assassination ? "

He nodded.

*' Let us hear about some of them," said Pracontal,
with interest.

' T, " I don't talk of these things, they are bygones,
and I'd as soon forget them."

'' And do you fancy they'll be forgotten up there,"
said Pracontal, pointing upwards as he spoke.

" What do you know about * up there,' " said he
sternly, "more than myself? Are not your vague
words ' up there,' the proof that it's as much a
mystery to you as to me ? "

'* Don't get into theology with him, or you'll have
to listen to more blasphemy than you bargain for,'*
whispered Longwoi-th ; and whether the fellow over-
heard or merely guessed the meaning of the words,
he grinned diabolically, and said, —

" Yes, leave that question there."

" Are you not afraid of the police, my friend ? "
asked Longworth. " Is it not in their power to send
you back to those you have escaped from ? "

" They might with another, but the Cardinal


Secretary knows mc. I have told him I have some
business to do at Rome, and want only a day or two
to do it, and lie knows I will keep my word."

*' My faith, you are a veiy conscientious galley-
slave ! " cried Pracontal. '' Are you hungij ?" and
he took a large piece of bread from the sideboard and
handed it to him. The man bowed, took the bread,
and laid it beside him on the window-board.

" And so you and Antonelli are good friends ? "
said Longworth sneeringly.

" I did not say so. I only said he knew me, and
knew me to be a man of my word."

"And how could a Cardinal know '?" when he

got thus far he felt the unfairness of saying what he
was about to utter, and stopped, but the man took up
the words with perfect calmness, and said : —

*^ The best and the purest people in this world ^^-ill
now and then have to deal with the lowest and the
worst, just as men will drink dii-ty water when they
are parched with thirst."

"Is it some outlying debt of vengeance, an
old vendetta, detains you here?" asked Long-

" I wouldn't call it that," replied he slowly, " but


I'd not be surprised if it took sometliing of tliat
shape, after all."

** And do you know any other great folk ? " asked
Pracontal, with a laugh. *' Are you acquainted with
the Pope ? "

"No, I have never spoken to him. I know the
French envoy here, the Marquis de Caderousse. I
know Field-Marshal Kleinkoff. I know Brassier!—
the Italian spy — they call him the Duke of Brassieri."

*' That is to say, you have seen them as they
drove by on the Corso, or walked on the Pincian ? "
said Longworth.

''No, that would not be acquaintance. When
I said ' know ' I meant it."

*'Just as you know my friend here, and know
me perhaps ? " said Pracontal.

*'Not only him, but you,'' said the fellow with
a fierce determination.

*' Me, know me ? what do you know about me ? "

''Everything," and now he drew himself up, and
stared at him defiantly.

" I declare I wonder at you, Anatole," whispered
Longworth. "Don't you know the game of menace
and insolence these rascals play at?" And again


the fellow seemed to divine what passed, for he
said : —

" Your friend is wrong this time. I am not the
cheat he thinks me."

" Tell me something you know about me," said
Pracontal, smiling ; and he filled a goblet with wine,
and handed it to him.

The other, however, made a gesture of refusal,
and coldly said, — " What shall it be about ? I'll
answer any question 3'ou put to me."

"What is he about to do?" cried Longworth.
"What great step in life is he on the eve of

" Oh, I'm not a fortune-teller," said the man,
roughly; "though I could tell you that he's not to
be married to this rich Englishwoman. That fine
bubble is burst already."

Pracontal tried to laugh, but he could not ; and
it was with difficulty he could thunder out, —
" Servants' stories and lacqueys' talk ! "

" Xo such thing, sir. I deal as little with these
people as yourself. You seem to think me an im-
postor ; but I tell 3'ou I am less of a cheat than
either of you. Ay, sir, than you, who play fine


gentleman, mi lordo, here in Italy, but whose father
was a land- steward ; or than you "

" What of me — what of me ? " cried Pracontal,
whose intense eagerness now mastered every other

" You ! who cannot tell who or what you are,
who have a dozen names, and no right to any of
them ; and who, though you have j^our initials burned
in gunpowder in the bend of your arm, have no other
baptismal registry. Ah ! do I know you now ? " cried
he, as Pracontal sank upon a seat, covered with a
cold sweat and fainting.

" This is some rascally trick. It is some private
act of hate. Keep him in talk till I fetch a gendarme."
Longworth whispered this, and left the room.

" Bad counsel that he has given you," said the
man. ^^ My advice is better. Get away from this
at once — get away before he returns. There's only
shame and disgrace before you now."

He moved over to where Pracontal was seated,
and placing his mouth close to his ear, whispered
some words slowly and deliberately.

"And are you Niccolo Baldassare?" muttered


" Come with me, and learn all," said the man,
moving to the door; ''for I will not wait to be
arrested and made a town talk."

Pracontal arose and followed him.

The old man walked with a firm and rapid step.
He descended the stairs that led to the Piazza del
Popolo, crossed the wide piazza, and issued fi-om the
gate out upon the Campagna, and skirting the ancient
wall, was soon lost to view among the straororlinof
hovels which cluster at intervals beneath the ramparts.
Pracontal continued to walk behind him, his head
sunk on his bosom, and his steps listless and un-
certain, like one walking in sleep. Neither were
seen more after that night.




All the emissaries liad returned to the ^illa except
Sedley, who found himself obliged to revisit England
suddenly, but from whom came a few lines of tele-
gram, stating that the ''case of Pracontal de Bram-
leigh V. Bramleigh had been struck out of the cause
list; Kelson a heavy loser, ha\dng made large
advances to plaintiff."

"Wasn't it like the old fox to add this about
his colleague ? As if any of us cared about Kelson,
or thought of him ! "

" Good fortune is very selfish, I really beheve,"
said Nelly. "We have done nothing but talk of
ourselves, our interests, and our intentions for the
last four days, and the worst of it is, we don't seem
tired of doing so yet."

" It would be a niggardly thing to deny us that


pleasure, seeing what we have passed through to
reach it," cried Jack.

"Who'll write to Mariou with the news?'' said

"Not I," said Jack; "or if I do it will be to
sign myself ' late Sam Kogers.' "

"If George accepts the embassy chaplaincy,"
said Julia, "he can convey the tidings byword of

" To guess by his dreary face," said Jack, " one
would say he had really closed -with that proposal.
What's the matter, old fellow; has the general joy
here not warmed your heart ? "

L'Estrange, pale and red alternately, blundered
out a few scarcely coherent words ; and Julia, who
well knew what feelings were agitating him, and how
the hopes that adversity had favoured might be
dashed, now that a brighter fortune had dawned,
came quickly to his rescue, and said, "I see what
George is thinking of. George is wondering when
we shall all be as happy and as united again, as
we have been here, under this dear old roof."

" But why should we not ? " broke in Augustus.
" I mean to keep the anniversary of om- meeting

VOL. III. 67


here, and assemble 3'ou all every year at this place.
Perhaps I have forgotten to tell you that I am the
owner of the villa. I have signed the contract this

A cry of joy — almost a cheer — greeted this an-
nouncement, and Augustus went on.

" My ferns, and my green beetles, and my sea
anemonies, as Nelly enumerates them, can all be pro-
secuted here, and I purpose to remain and live here."

"And Castello?"

"Jack will go and live at Castello," continued
he. "I have interceded with a lady of my acquaint-
ance " — he did not glance at Julia, but she blushed
as he spoke — " to keep a certain green room, with a
little stair out of it down to the garden, for me
when I go there. Beyond that I reserve nothing."

"We'll only half value the gift without you, old
fellow," said Jack, as he passed his arm around her,
and drew her fondly towards him.

" As one of the nninstructed public," interposed
Cutbill, " I desire to ask, who are meant by ' We ?' "

A half insolent toss of the head from Julia, meant
specially for the speaker, was, however, seen by the
others, who could not help laughing at it heartily.


" I think the uninstructed public should have a
little deference for those who know more," broke in

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