A Bushman.

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He shouldered his cane through Regent Street, and wandered in the
Quadrant's shade; - and in spite of the novelties that every where met
him - in spite of cabs and plated glass - felt perfectly isolated and

It is true, his Indian friends found him out at the Burlington, and their
cards adorned his mantelpiece - for Mr. Benjamin Vernon was said to be
worth a plum, and to be on the look out for a vacancy in the Directory.

But although these were indisputably his Indian friends, it appeared to
Mr. Vernon, that they were no longer his friends of India. They seemed to
him to live in a constant state of unnatural excitement.

_Some_ prided themselves on being stars in fashion's gayest
circle - others, whom he had hardly known, _were_ fathers - for their
families were educating in England - -he now found surrounded by children,
on whose provision they were wholly intent.

These were off at a tangent, "to see Peter Auber, at the India House,"
or, "could not wait an instant; they were to meet Josh: Alexander
precisely at two."

And then their flippant sons! taking wine with him, forsooth - adjusting
their neckcloths - and asking "whether he had met their father at Madras or

This to a true Bengalee!

Nor was this all!

The young renegades ate their curry with a knife!

Others, from whom he had parted years before, shook hands with him at the
Oriental, as if his presence there was a matter of course; and then asked
him "what he thought of Stanley's speech?"

Now, there are few men breathing, who have their sympathies so keenly
alive - who show and who look for, such warmth of heart - -who are so
chilled and hurt by indifference - as your bachelor East Indian.

The married one may solace himself for coldness abroad, by sunny smiles at
home; - but the friendless bachelor is sick at heart, unless he encounter a
hearty pressure of the hand - an eye that sparkles, as it catches his - an
interested listener to his thousand and one tales of Oriental scenes, and
of Oriental good fellowship.

Mr. Benjamin Vernon soon found this London solitude - it was worse than
solitude - quite insupportable.

He determined to visit his brother's widow, and left town for Leamington.
The brother-in-law felt more than gratified at the cordial welcome that
there met him.

His heart responded to their tones of kindness, and the old Indian, in the
warmth of his gratitude, thought he had at length discovered a congenial
home. He plunged into the extreme of dangerous intimacy; and was soon
domiciled in Mrs. Vernon's small mansion.

It is absurd what trifles can extinguish friendships, and estrange
affection. Mr. Vernon had always had the controul of his hours - loved his
hookah, and his after-dinner dose.

His brother's widow was an amiable person, but a great deal too
independent, to humour any person's foibles.

She liked activity, and disliked smoking; and was too matter-of-fact in
her ideas, to conceive that these indulgences, merely from force of habit,
might have now become absolute necessities.

Mrs. Vernon first used arguments; which were listened to very patiently,
and as systematically disregarded.

As she thought she knew her ground better, she would occasionally secrete
the hookah, and indulge in eloquent discourse, on the injurious effects,
and waste of time, that the said hookah entailed.

Nor could the old man enjoy in peace, his evening slumber.

One of his nieces was always ready to shake him by the elbow, and address
him with an expostulatory "Oh! dear uncle!" which, though delivered with
silvery voice, seemed to him deuced provoking.

For some time, the old Indian good-naturedly acquiesced in these
arrangements; and was far too polite at any time to scold, or
hazard a scene.

Mrs. Vernon was all complacency, and imagined her triumph assured.

Suddenly the tempest gathered to a head. Bachelor habits regained their
ascendancy; and Mrs. Vernon was thunderstruck, when it was one morning
duly announced to her, that her brother-in-law had purchased a large
estate in Monmouthshire, and that he intended permanently to reside there.

Mrs. Vernon was deeply chagrined.

She thought him ungrateful, and told him so.

At the outset, our East Indian was anxious that his niece Julia, who had
been by far the most tolerant of his bachelor vices, should preside over
his new establishment; but the feelings of the mother and daughter were
alike opposed to this arrangement.

This was the last rock on which he and his brother's widow split; and it
was decisive.

From that hour, all correspondence between them ceased.

Arrived in Wales, our nabob endeavoured to attach himself to country
pursuits - purchased adjoining estates - employed many labourers - and
greatly improved his property. But his rural occupations were quite at
variance with his acquired habits.

He pined away - became hypochondriacal - and died, just three years after
leaving Mrs. Vernon, for want of an Eastern sun, and something to love.

Chapter VI.


"The seal is set."

On the day fixed for the departure of Sir Henry Delmé and his brother,
they together visited once more the sumptuous pile of St. Peter's, and
heard the voices of the practised choristers swell through the mighty
dome, as the impressive service of the Catholic Church was performed by
the Pope and his conclave.

The morning dawn had seen George, as was his daily custom in Rome,
kneeling beside the grave of Acmé, and breathing a prayer for their
blissful reunion in heaven.

As the widower staggered from that spot, the thought crossed him, and
bitterly poignant was that thought, that now might he bid a second
earthly farewell, to what had been his pride, and household solace.

Now, indeed, "was the last link broken." Each hour - each traversed
league - was to bear him away from even the remains of his heart's

Their bones must moulder in a different soil.

It was Sir Henry's choice that they should on that day visit Saint
Peter's; and well might the travellers leave Rome with so unequalled an
object fresh in the mind's eye.

Whether we gaze on its exterior of faultless proportions - or on the
internal arrangement, where perfect symmetry reigns; - whether we consider
the glowing canvas - or the inspired marble, - or the rich mosaics; - whether
with the enthusiasm of the devotee, we bend before those gorgeous shrines;
or with the comparative apathy of a cosmopolite, reflect on the historical
recollections with which that edifice - the focus of the rays of
Catholicism - teems and must teem forever; - we must in truth acknowledge,
that _there_ alone is the one matchless temple, in strict and perfect
harmony with Imperial Rome.

Gazing there - or recalling in after years its unclouded majesty - the
delighted pilgrim knows neither shade of disappointment - nor doth he
harbour one thought of decay.

Where is the other building in the "eternal city," of which we can say
thus much?

Sir Henry Delmé had engaged a vettura, which was to convey them with the
same horses as far as Florence.

This arrangement made them masters of their own time, and was perhaps in
their case, the best that could be adopted; for slowness of progress,
which is its greatest objection, was rather desirable in George's then
state of health.

As is customary, Delmé made an advance to the vetturino, who usually binds
himself to defray all the expenses at the inns on the road.

The travellers dined early - left Rome in the afternoon - and proposed
pushing on to Neppi during the night.

When about four miles on their journey, Delmé observed a mausoleum on the
side of the road, which appeared of ancient date, and rather curious

On consulting his guide-book, he found it designated as the tomb of Nero.

On examining its inscription, he saw that it was erected to the memory of
a Prefect of Sardinia; and he inwardly determined to distrust his
guide-book on all future occasions.

The moon was up as they reached the post-house of Storta.

The inn, or rather tavern, was a small wretched looking building, with a
large courtyard attached, but the stables appeared nearly - if not
quite - untenanted.

Sir Henry's surprise and anger were great, when the driver, coolly
stopping his horses, commenced taking off their harness; - and informed the
travellers, that _there_ must they remain, until he had received some
instructions from his owner, which he expected by a vettura leaving Rome
at a later hour.

It was in vain that the brothers expostulated, and reminded him of
his agreement to stop when they pleased, expressing their
determination to proceed.

The driver was dogged and unmoved; and the travellers had neglected
to draw up a written bargain, which is a precaution absolutely
necessary in Italy.

They soon found they had no alternative but to submit. It was with a very
bad grace they did so, for Englishmen have a due abhorrence of imposition.

They at length stepped from the vehicle - indulged in some vehement
remonstrances - smiled at Thompson's voluble execrations, which they found
were equally unavailing - and were finally obliged to give up the point.

They were shown into a small room. The chief inmates were some Papal
soldiers of ruffianly air, engaged in the clamorous game of moro. Unlike
the close shorn Englishmen, their beards and mustachios, were allowed to
grow to such length, as to hide the greater part of the face.

Their animated gestures and savage countenances, would have accorded well
with a bandit group by Salvator.

The landlord, an obsequious little man, with face pregnant with
mischievous cunning, was watching with interest, the turns of the game;
and assisting his guests, to quaff his vino ordinario, which Sir Henry
afterwards found was ordinary enough.

Delmé's equanimity of temper was already considerably disturbed.

The scanty accommodation afforded them, by no means diminished his choler;
which he began to expend on the obstinate driver, who had followed them
into the room, and was busily placing chairs round one of the tables.

"See what you can get for supper, you rascal!"

"Signore! there are some excellent fowls, and the very best wine of

The wine was produced and proved vinegar.

The host bustled away loud in its praise, and a few seconds afterwards,
the dying shriek of a veteran tenant of the poultry yard, warned them that
supper was preparing.

"Thompson!" said George, rather languidly, "do, like a good fellow, see
that they put no garlic with the fowl!"

"I will, Sir," replied the domestic; "and the wine, Mr. George, seems none
of the best. I have a flask of brandy in the rumble."

"Just the thing!" said Sir Henry.

To their surprise, the landlord proffered sugar and lemons.

Sir Henry's countenance somewhat brightened, and he declared he would
make punch.

Punch! thou just type of matrimony! thy ingredients of sweets and bitters
so artfully blended, that we know not which predominate, - so deceptive,
too, that we imbibe long and potent draughts, nor awake to a consciousness
of thy power, till awoke by headache.

Hail to thee! all hail!

Thy very name, eked out by thine appropriate receptacle, recals raptures
past - bids us appreciate joys present - and enjoins us duly to reverence
thee, if we hope for joys in futurity.

A bowl of punch! each merry bacchanal rises at the call!

Moderate bacchanals all! for where is the abandoned sot, who would not
rather dole out his filthy lucre, on an increase of the mere
alchohol - than expend it on those grateful adjuncts, which, throwing a
graceful veil over that spirit's grossness, impart to it its chief and its
best attraction.

Up rises then each hearty bacchanal! thrice waving the clear tinkling
crystal, ere he emits that joyful burst, fresh from the heart, which from
his uncontrolled emotion, meets the ear husky and indistinct.

Delmé squeezed the lemons into not a bad substitute for a bowl, viz. a red
earthen vase of rough workmanship, but elegant shape, somewhat resembling
a modern wine cooler.

George stood at the inn door, wistfully looking upward; when he remarked
an intelligent boy of fourteen, with dark piercing eyes, observing him
somewhat earnestly.

On finding he was noticed, he approached with an air of ingenuous
embarrassment - pulled off his cap - and said in a tone of enquiry,

"Un Signore Inglese?"

"Yes! my fine fellow! Do you know anything of me or the English?"

"Oh yes!" replied the boy with vivacity, replacing his cap, "I have
travelled in England, and like London very much."

George conversed with him for some time; and found him to be one of that
class, whose numbers make us unmindful of their wants or their
loneliness; who eke out a miserable pittance, by carrying busts of
plaster-of-Paris - grinding on an organ - or displaying through Europe,
the tricks of some poodle dog, or the eccentricities of a monkey
disguised in scarlet.

It is rare that these come from a part of Italy so far south; but it
appeared in this instance, that Giuseppe's father being a carrier, had
taken him with him to Milan - had there met a friend, rich in an organ and
porcupine - and had entrusted the boy to his care, in order that he might
see the world, and make his fortune.

Giuseppe gave a narrative of some little events, that had occurred to him
during his wanderings, which greatly interested George; and he finally
concluded, by saying that his father had now retired to his native place
at Barberini, where many strangers came to see the "antichità." George,
on referring to the guide book, found that this was indeed the case; and
that Isola Barberini is marked as the site of ancient Veii, the rival of
young Rome.

"And when do you go there, youngster, and how far is it from this?"

"I am going now, Signore, to be in time for supper. It is only a
'piccolo giro' across the fields; and looks as well by moonlight as at
any other time."

"Ah!" replied George, "I would be glad to accompany you. Henry," said he,
as he entered the room of the inn, "I am away on a classic excursion to
Veii. The night is lovely - I have an excellent guide - and shall be back
before you have finished your punch making.

"_Do_ let me go!" and he lowered his voice, and the tears swam in his eyes,
"I cannot endure these rude sounds of merriment, and a moonlight walk will
at least afford nothing that can _thus_ pain me."

Sir Henry looked out. The night was perfectly fine. The young peasant,
all willingness, had already shouldered his bundle, and was preparing to
move forward.

"You must not be late, George," said his brother, assenting to his
proposal. "Do not stay too long about the ruins. Remember that you are
still delicate, and that I shall wait supper for you."

As the boy led on, George followed him in a foot path, which led through
fields of meadow land, corn, and rye.

The fire-flies - mimic meteors - were giddily winging their way from bush to
bush, - illuming the atmosphere, and imparting to the scene a glittering
beauty, which a summer night in a northern clime cannot boast.

As they approached somewhat nearer to the hamlet, their course was over
ground more rugged; and the disjointed fragments of rocks strewed, and at
intervals obstructed, the path.

The cottages were soon reached.

The villagers were all in front of their dwellings, taking their last meal
for the day, in the open air.

The young guide stopped in front of a cottage, a little apart from the
rest. The family party were seated round a rude table, on which were
plates and napkins.

Before the master of the house - a wrinkled old man, with long grey
hair - was a smoking tureen of bread soup, over which he was in the act of
sprinkling some grated Parmesan cheese.

A plate of green figs, and a large water melon - the cocomero - made up
the repast.

"Giuseppe! you are late for supper," said the old patriarch, as the boy
approached to whisper his introduction of the stranger.

The old man waved his hand courteously - made a short apology for the
humble viands - and pointed to a vacant seat.

"Many thanks," said George, "but my supper already awaits me. I will not,
however, interfere with my young guide. Show me the ruins, Giuseppe, and I
will trouble you no further."

The boy moved on towards what were indeed ruins, or rather the
vestige of such.

Here a misshapen stone - there a shattered column - decaying walls,
overgrown with nettles - arches and caves, choked up with rank
vegetation - bespoke remains unheeded, and but rarely visited.

George threw the boy a piece of silver - heard his repeated cautions as
to his way to Storta - and wished him good night, as he hurried back to
the cottage.

George Delmé sat on the shaft of a broken pillar, his face almost buried
in his hands, as he looked around him on a scene once so famous.

But with him classic feelings were not upper-most. The widowed
heart mourned its loneliness; and in that calm hour found the full
relief of tears.

The mourner rose, and turned his face homeward, slowly - sadly - but

The heavens had become more overcast - and clouds occasionally were
hiding the moon.

It was with some difficulty that George avoided the pieces of rock which
obstructed the path.

The road seemed longer, and wilder, than he had previously thought it.

Suddenly the loud bay of dogs was borne to his ear; and almost, before he
had time to turn from the path, two large hounds brushed past him,
followed by a rider - his gun slung before his saddle - and his horse
fearlessly clattering over the loose stones.

The horseman seemed a young Roman farmer. He did not salute, and probably
did not observe our traveller. As the sound from the horse receded, and
the clamour of the dogs died away, a feeling almost akin to alarm crossed
George's mind.

George was one, however, who rarely gave way to vague fears.

It so happened that he was armed.

Delancey had made him a present of a brace of pocket pistols, during the
days of their friendship; and, very much to Sir Henry's annoyance, George
had been in the habit, since leaving Malta, of constantly carrying these
about him.

He strode on without adventure, until entering the field of rye.

The pathway became very narrow - so that on either side him, he grazed
against the bearded ears.

Suddenly he heard a rustling sound. The moon at the moment broke from
a dark cloud, and he fancied he discerned a figure near him half hid
by the rye.

Again the moon was shrouded.

A rustling again ensued.

George felt a ponderous blow, which, aimed at the left shoulder, struck
his left arm.

The collar of his coat was instantaneously grasped.

For a moment, George Delmé felt irresolute - then drew a pistol from his
pocket and fired.

The hold was loosened - a man fell at his feet.

The pistol's flash revealed another figure, which diving into the
corn - fled precipitately.

Let us turn to Sir Henry Delmé and to Thompson.

For some time after George's departure, they were busily engaged in
preparing supper.

While they were thus occupied, they noticed that the Papal soldiers
whispered much together - but this gave rise to no suspicion on
their part.

One by one the soldiers strolled out, and the landlord betook himself to
the kitchen.

The punch was duly made, and Sir Henry, leaving the room, paced
thoughtfully in front of the inn.

At length it struck him, that it was almost time for his brother to

He was entering the inn, for the purpose of making some enquiries; when he
saw one of the soldiers cross the road hurriedly, and go into the
courtyard, where he was immediately joined by the vetturino.

Delmé turned in to the house, and called for the landlord.

Before the latter could appear, George rushed into the room.

His hat was off - his eyes glared wildly - his long hair streamed back,
wet with the dews of night. He dragged with him the body of one of the
soldiers; and threw it with supernatural strength into the very centre
of the room.

"Supper!" said he, "ha, ha, ha! _I_ have brought you supper!"

The man was quite dead.

The bullet had pierced his neck and throat. The blood was yet flowing, and
had dabbled the white vest. His beard and hair were clotted with gore.

Shocked as Sir Henry was, the truth flashed on him. He lost not a moment
in beckoning to Thompson, and rushing towards the stable. The driver was
still there, conversing with the soldier.

As Sir Henry approached, they evinced involuntary confusion; and the
vetturino - -at once unmanned - fell on his knees, and commenced a

They were dragged into the inn, and the officers of justice were sent for.

Sir Henry Delmé's anxious regards were now directed to his brother.

George had taken a seat near the corpse; and was sternly regarding it with
fixed, steady, and unflinching gaze.

It is certainly very fearful to mark the dead - with pallid
complexion - glazed eye - limbs fast stiffening - and gouts of
blood - standing from out the face, like crimson excrescences on a
diseased leaf.

But it is far more fearful than even this, to look on one, who is bound
to us by the nearest and most cherished ties - with cheek yet
glowing - expression's flush mantling still - and yet to doubt whether the
intellect, which adorned that frame - the jewel in the casket - hath not for
ever left its earthly tenement.

Chapter VII.

The Vetturini.

"Far other scene is Thrasymene now."

* * * * *

"Fair Florence! at thy day's decline
When came the shade from Appennine,
And suddenly on blade and bower
The fire-flies shed the sparkling shower,
As if all heaven to earth had sent
Each star that gems the firmament;
'Twas sweet at that enchanting hour,
To bathe in fragrance of the Italian clime,
By Arno's stream."

The brothers were detained a few days at Storta; while the Roman police,
who, to do them justice, were active on the occasion, and showed every
anxiety to give the travellers as little trouble as possible - were
investigating the occurrences we have described. It appeared that some
suspicion had previously attached itself to Vittore Santado, and that the
eyes of the police had been on him for some time.

It now became evident, both from his own confession, and subsequent
discoveries, that this man had for years trafficked in the lives and
property of others; - and that the charge connected with George, was one of
the least grave, that would be brought against him.

It was shown that he was an active agent, in aiding the infamous designs
of that inn, on the Italian frontier, whose enormities have given rise to
more than one thrilling tale of fiction, far out-done by the
reality - that inn - where the traveller retired to rest - but rose not
refreshed to prosecute his journey: - where - if he slumbered but once,
that sleep was his last.

Until now, his career had been more than usually successful.

The crafty vetturino had had the art to glean a fair reputation even from
his crimes.

More than once, had he induced a solitary traveller to leave the high road
and his carriage, for the purpose of visiting some ruin, or viewing some
famous prospect.

On such occasions, Vittore's accomplices were in waiting; and the
unsuspecting stranger - pillaged and alarmed, would return to the vettura

Vittore would be foremost in his commiseration; and with an air of blunt
sincerity, would proffer the use of his purse; such conduct ensuring the
gratitude, and the after recommendations of his dupe.

It is supposed that the vetturino had contemplated rifling the carriage in
the inn yard; but some suspicion as to the servant's not leaving the
luggage, and the sort of dog fidelity displayed by Thompson towards the
brothers; had induced him rather to sanction an attempt on George during
his imprudent excursion to Barberini.

Vittore Santado was executed near the Piazza del Popolo, and to this day,
over the chimney-piece of many a Roman peasant, may be seen the tale of
his crimes - his confessions - and his death; which perused by casual
neighbour guests - calls up many a sign of the cross - and devout look of
rustic terror.

After the incident we have related in the last chapter, George Delmé,
contrary to Sir Henry's previous misgivings, enjoyed a good night's rest,
and arose tolerably calm and refreshed.

The following night he was attacked with palpitation of the heart.

His brother and Thompson felt greatly alarmed; but after an hour's severe
suffering, the paroxysm left him.

Nothing further occurred at Storta, to induce them to attach very great

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Online LibraryA BushmanA Love Story → online text (page 14 of 21)