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GIULIO MALATESTA



T. ADOLPHUS TROLLOPS,

AUTHOK OP

"LABEATA," " MARIETTA," &c.



IN THREE VOLUMES.

VOL. III.



SECOND EDITION.

LONDON :

CHAPMAN AND HALL, 193, PICCADILLY.
1888.

[Thf Itiiihl nf Tr.tHSlttlinn rnterrnl.}



CONTENTS OF VOL. III.



BOOK IV.

(CONTINUED.)

THE URSULINES AT MONTEPULCIANO.

CHAPTER VI. PAGIO

A TAlE-A-TAlE IN THE SACRISTY 3

CHAPTER VII.
THE ABBESS AND HER PUPIL . . . .17



BOOK V.
SANTA CROCE.

CHAPTER I.
CAPTAIN MALATESTA'S LETTERS 43

CHAPTER II.
MARIA VARANI 59

CHAPTER III.

THE SEALED PACKET 84



IV CONTENTS.

CHAPTER IV.
STELLA'S RETURN HOME 110

CHAPTER V.
GIULTO IN FLORENCE ONCE MORE 134

CHAPTER VI.
THE REQUIEM IN SANTA CROCE ] 60



BOOK VI.
THE MARCHESE MALATESTA.

CHAPTER I.

THE MARCHESE FLOBIMOND AND CARLO BRANCACCI . . 185

CHAPTER IT.
THE ARCHBISHOP'S CHANCERY 206

CHAPTER ITT.
CARLO BRANCACCI AND THE ABBESS 222

CHAPTER IV.
CARLO'S SUPPER . . . 242

CHAPTER V.

MOTHER AND SON . . 202

CHAPTER VI.
GIULIO'S DIAGRAM ....... 292

CHAPTER VII.
CONCLUSION 315



GIULIO IALATESTA.



BOOK IV.

(CONTINUED.)

THE URSULINES AT MONTEPULCIANO.

VOL. III.



GIULIO MALATESTA.

CHAPTEE VI.

A TETE-A-TETE IN THE SACRISTY.

IT is probable, as has been hinted, that the ec-
clesiastical superiors who had selected Sister Mad-
dalena for promotion from the remote convent at
Ascoli, to be the Superior of the Ursulines of Santa
Filomena at Montepulciano, had done so with the
intention of refreshing with a certain modicum of
greatly-needed new wine those old bottles of theirs,
which had become terribly musty under the regime
of immobility, which was now beginning to be
shaken. But that pouring in of new wine under
such circumstances is a difficult and dangerous
experiment, which we know on high authority is
little likely to answer the purpose intended. And
it seemed likely in the case in question that the



4 GIULIO MALATESTA.

attempt would issue in a catastrophe analogous to
that mentioned in the sacred parable.

The fermentation caused by this new wine in
the old Montepulciano bottles, seemed likely to be
greater than the strength of them could stand.
Innovation and heresy are to many minds almost
synonymous terms. And there are various de-
partments of orthodoxy in which the instinct that
prompts this feeling is not a delusive one. The
old nuns in the TJrsuline convent were not far
wrong in thinking that change of any kind in their
ways, practices, and habits, was dangerous to them ;
as change of habits of life mostly is to the old and
infirm.

It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that a
spirit of disaffection and insubordination was ripe
in the convent under the new rule. And absolute
as is the theory of conventual obedience, and
high as is the notion we outsiders especially are
apt to entertain of the unlimited power of the
Superior of a religious house, it is an absolutism
difficult to be maintained like other absolutisms
in the face of a disaffection at all general among
the subjects of it.

It was a few days after the discontented mem-
bers of the community had been scandalised anew
by the unheard-of strangeness of the Holy Mother
having been closeted with a pensioner of the house



A TETE-A-TETE IN THE SACRISTY. 5

during an entire morning, that a more orthodox and
less unexampled tete-a-tete took place in the sacristy
of the convent chapel, at the pleasant evening hour
before the Ave Maria. The parties were Sister
Giuseppa and the Reverend Domenico Tondi, the
Chancellor of the Diocese; and their confidential con-
versation was an altogether warrantable, orthodox,
and correct proceeding. For, was not the Reverend
Domenico Tondi also the "Director" of theUrsulines
of Santa Filomena ? And was not Sister Giuseppa
the Vice-Superior of the convent, no new disposi-
tion having been as yet taken by the new Abbess
to place any other in her stead in that position ?

The sacristy in which these two persons were sit-
ting was a snug-looking room enough, though some-
what gloomy, except when the setting sun sertfc an il-
luminating gleam athwart it, through the one win-
dow placed so high in the wall as to afford no view of
the convent garden on which it opened. It was en-
tirely lined from floor to ceiling with a series of dark
walnut-wood presses in double tier, the centre of the
doors of which Avere ornamented with large round
brass knobs, rubbed up, as well as the shining wood
around them, to a perfect polish. There were two
br*eaks only besides the window in the continuity
of this polished walnut-wood lining. One opposite
' to the window extended in a strip, some five feet
wide from floor to ceiling, and was occupied by a



6 GIULIO MALATESTA.

large crucifix above, and by a massive faldstool
beneath it. The other uncovered space of wall ex-
tended only half the height of the apartment from
the floor, the range of presses being carried on
without interruption above it. And the space thus
left was occupied by a little conduit of red marble,
with a water-cock above it, and a long circular
towel on a roller by its side. There were two doors,
also of walnut-wood, and so made as to form to the
eye no interruption to the range of presses. Both
of them were in one corner of the room. One
opened on to the little church, and the other on to a
corridor communicating with the interior of the
convent. In the middle of the room was a large,
oblong, massive table, the space beneath which, in-
stead of being void, save for the legs of it, after
the fashion of ordinary tables, was filled up with a
series of large drawers. The top of the table was
covered with a green baize cloth. There were
three or four straight-backed, square-made arm-
chairs, with ancient stamped leather seats and
backs, fairly indicating them to be at least three
hundred years old; and there was an old con-
temporary of theirs a large and handsome brass
brazier, resting on an iron tripod, the admirable
ornamentation of which unmistakably declared its
cinquecentista origin.

The declining sun, as the closing day approached



A TETE-A-TETE IN THE SACRISTY. 7

the Ave Maria, shot a mellow golden ray through
the high window, which lay like a great glistening
stripe across the threadbare green baize top of the
huge table ; sparkled on the brass of the brazier,
played on the polished panel of the opposite wall
in a strange variety of high lights and demi-lights
and shadows, and concentrated itself on the bur-
nished brazen knob in the centre of it with an in-
tensity that made it appear like a ball of fire. The
great crucifix was left in deep shadow, as were also
the two occupants of the room, who sat side by side
near one end of the table ; and by virtue of the
strikingly characterised harmony of their appear-
ance with the locality and all the objects around
them, formed a group which might well be called
picturesque, though it could not be said to possess
any of the elements of the beautiful.

The tall, gaunt figure, the hard features, and
black brows of Sister Giuseppa, are already known
to the reader. Don Domenico Tondi, the Chan-
cellor of the Diocese and Director of the Convent,
was a dried-up little man, with a head and face of
a triangular form, with a minimum of brain packed
into the apex, and a maximum of animalism dis-
tending the base, across the whole extent of which
a wide, lipless mouth, cut like that of a toad, was
stretched from corner to corner, so near the lower
side of the triangle as to leave scarcely any room



8 GIULIO MALATESTA.

for a chin. Close under this strange wide and
short lower jaw, came the rim of his ecclesiastical
collar, which was of so nearly the same yellow as
the whole of his face, that it needed a close glance
to see where the dirty skin ended and the dirty
linen began. The huge shoes on his feet, much
larger, apparently, than necessary, would hardly
have offended the ideas of St. Chrysostom upon
that subject. The curiously coarse worsted stock-
ings above them were not darned, but pieced with
fragments of brown cloth; and the black camlet
garment next above them was almost entirely
hidden, as he sat, by a blue checked cotton hand-
kerchief, much begrimed with snuff, laid across his
knees. His cloth waistcoat was alsc grimy from
the same cause from top to bottom.

" That makes five clear sins, of which four are
decidedly grave, and two of them probably mortal,"
said Don Domenico, ticking off the bill on the
fingers of his left hand, while he held a pinch of
his favourite dust between the thumb and fore-
finger of his right; "and three opportunities of
cardinal virtues neglected ! " He was speaking of
the short-comings of the new Abbess, according to
Sister Giuseppa's report of her conduct, the par-
ticulars of which he had been sorting, tariffing, and
labelling secundum artem, with the above result.

" Oh ! we are not at the end yet, most excellent



A TETE-A-TETE IN THE SACRISTY. 9

father! There are things which your holy con-
science would never dream of, and which I could
never bring myself to repeat, if it were not for the
glory of God and the credit of the house," rejoined
Sister Giuseppa, crossing herself as she spoke.

" Eh ! " said Don Domenico, sharply, suddenly
arresting in his newly-awakened interest the hand
which was conveying to his nose a pinch of snuff ;
" in our position, my dear sister in Christ, it is our
bounden duty to allow no scruples of delicacy to
interfere with perfect openness between us. I will
look the other way, dear sister, while you commu-
nicate the facts," added the Director, courteously
offering the old woman his snuff-box as he spoke.

Sister Giuseppa took as large a pinch as her>
finger and thumb would hold, and savoured it
leisurely with upturned nose, before she replied,
advancing her mouth towards his ear, and hissing
out the terrible word, " Heresy ! padre mio ! a
clear case of heresy !"

" Oh h h !" said Don Domenico, with an
accent of disappointment in his tone ; " heresy !
Heresy, is it ? Humph ! Heresy, my good
Giuseppa, is a malady of which it needs, perhaps,
greater skill than yours to read the symptoms."

" I am but a poor nun, your reverence," said
the old woman, evidently nettled at the small effect
her communication had produced, "but I haven't



10 GIULIO MALATESTA.

served the Lord for upwards of half a century with-
out learning to know the savour of heresy when it
comes near me ! A pure conscience and zeal for
the glory of God will stand in the place of book-
learning ! "

" No doubt ! no doubt ! What is the case, my
excellent sister in Christ ? " asked the Director.

" Why ! what does your reverence think of her
forbidding us to avail ourselves of the holy
privileges and dispensation you, yourself, in the
exercise of your known discretion and exalted
piety, have deigned to procure for this holy house ?
What do you think of that? If that be not a
questioning of the dispensing power of our Holy
Father, I should like to know what is ! And if
any devout and lowly-minded Christian cannot
smell heresy there, more shame and pity for them ;
that is all I say ! "

" And you say very well, my sister in Christ !
excellently well ! " returned the Director. " This
new Superior," he continued, inhaling a great
pinch of snuff, and nodding his head slowly up
and down, "must be one of that sort a very
dangerous and pestilential sort, indeed ! But, my
dear sister, it is necessary to be prudent in these
cases, it is necessary to be very prudent ! We
live in bad times, in bad and strange times, Sister
Giuseppa! There is backsliding and lukewarm-



A TETE-A-TETE IN THE SACRISTY. 11

ness in high places ! The world is not what it
was ! And God forbid that I should speak or
even think evil of those placed in spiritual autho-
rity over me ! and I would not say such a thing
for the world ! only to you, Sister Giuseppa, who
are a prudent, a God-fearing woman, I may say
between ourselves, you know, quite between our-
selves that our own Bishop here is but a poor
creature ! I pity him with all my heart, in a
position in which knowledge, judgment, energy,
zeal, are required. For he is an excellent, worthy
man ! but the vainest, weakest, shallowest crea-
ture ! no learning ! less industry ! And so worldly
and self-seeking ! We live in bad times, sister !"

" Ah ! bad times indeed ! caro mio padre. I
remember when Monsignore came here ten years
ago it will be eleven years next Nativity of the
Blessed Virgin I said at the time though I
always speak of the right reverend father with
that respect which his holy office demands, and
even with reverence (for you cannot expect more
from any one than the Holy Spirit has given him)
I said at the time that it seemed strange, and, as
it were, a refusal of the blessings of Providence,
to bring a stranger to the diocese, when we had
among us one so well fitted in every way for the
position as Don Domenico Tondi, I said. Things
would have been different in Montepulciano, and



12 GIULIO MALATESTA.

in this house, if those above us had seen with my
eyes !"

" God's will be done !" ejaculated the Director,
with a shrug and a grimace, which seemed to add
an expression of " since there's no help for it !" to
the pious sentiment.

"Ah! God's will be done!" re-echoed the nun,
holding out her fingers towards the priest's snuff-
box, in a manner that compelled the offer of
another pinch.

" But there was one thing, carissimo mio padre,
which afflicted me, God forgive me for it, even
more grievously than her very evident and most
pestilent heresy ! She has strictly forbidden that
devout woman, our cook, Guglielmina, to make any
more of those little confections and patties which
your reverence and one or two others of the good
friends of the house were so fond of ! She has
positively refused to allow any more to be sent
from the convent to any one ! under pretence that
whatever we can spare from our slender revenues
ought to be employed in a different manner ! Oh !
It is very abominable."

" It is the will of the Lord to try us, my sister !"
ejaculated the priest, while a heavy scowl passed
over his features. " But as for this shameless
woman, what you tell me is certainly a sin against
the holy virtue of charity, and I am very much



A TETE-A-TETE IN THE SACRISTY. 13

inclined to think/' he added, tapping his snuff-
box as he spoke, "at least constructively a sin
against the Holy Spirit!"

" No ! you don't say so ! " exclaimed Sister Giu-
seppa, with a gleam of gratified malice in her eye.
"Ah! your reverence, it is you who are a great theo-
logian! Ma proprio un peccato contra lo Spirito
Santo!"* she added, throwing up her head, as she
savoured her pinch of snuff and her odium theo-
logicum together with exquisite gusto, " who would
have thought it ! But that is what it is to be a
profound canonist ! "

" Mind ! I said constructively, Sister Giuseppa,
constructively ! And I am free to own that such
is my opinion. But che vuole ? What would
you have ? We live in degenerate times ! Still
something ought to be done. It is very mon-
strous ! "

"Surely, your reverence, in your position, and
with your immense science, will be able to take
some steps for the protection of our poor house !
you, my father, who, after the blessed St. Ursula
and the holy Filomena," said Sister Giuseppa,
crossing herself in compliment to the two first-
named patrons, and with a leer of holy coaxing to



But really a sin against the Holy Spirit." Really hardly
expresses the full force of the " proprio," which involves a " Come !
really now ! you don't say that," sort of meaning.



expresses



14 GIULIO MALATESTA.

the third, "have ever been our protector and most
efficacious patron ! "

" We must see what is to be done !" replied the
Director ; " we must consider what steps can
be taken. In the mean time, be vigilant, Sister
Giuseppa! This holy house, and I may say the
Church, expect it at your hands ! Keep a strict
and holy watch ! And perhaps you may be able

you understand "

"Trust me to keep my eyes open, your reve-
rence ! Trust old Sister Giuseppa a simple nun
to do her part !"

"But caution!" said the priest, holding up a
black-nailed forefinger in front of his snuffy nose,
and sinking his voice to a whisper ; " caution and
vigilance !"

u A chi lo dice!" returned the nun. "I shall
have the advantage of speaking with your paternity
again ere long?"

"Assuredly! assuredly! my sister in Christ!
Ah ! if certain folks had had the holy discernment

to place you at the head of this house ! "

" Oh ! reverendissimo padre ! If it had but
pleased the Lord so to illuminate the hearts of
princes, as that your reverence should have been

put in the place that was due to you !"

" A rivederci dunque, sorella mia ! " * said the

* " Au revoir, ray sister."



A TETE-A-TETE IN THE SACRISTY. 15

Director, as he passed out of the sacristy by the
door leading to the church, giving his benedic-
tion as he went by the usual flourish of his dirty
fingers.

" A rivederci, riverenza ! " returned the nun,
bowing lowly, with her arms crossed upon her
bosom.

Before the Director had been gone an hour,
Sister Giuseppa had found an opportunity of
whispering her great news into the sympathising
ear of Sister Maria :

" I have had a long conversation with our Direc-
tor, sister ! such a consoling conversation ! The
holy man places great confidence in me !"

"In whom better could he place confidence,
Sister Giuseppa! And what does his paternity
say?"

" Sister Maria ! we have a Superior who has
been guilty of sin against the Holy Spirit ! " said
the other, hissing the words into the ear of her
hearer.

" Holy Virgin and gracious St. Ursula keep
and preserve us ! " exclaimed Sister Maria, cross-
ing herself ever so many times in rapid succession.

" Hush h h ! Prudence, Sister Maria ! The
Director recommends to us the utmost prudence !
Yes ! a clear case of sin against the Holy Spirit ! "
replied Sister Giuseppa, repeating the words with



16 GIULIO MALATESTA.

an infinite relish. " Nothing less than that ! What
do you think of it ? Oh ! he is a great theologian,
our blessed Director ! "

" It is very dreadful, Sister Giuseppa ! "
" Ah ! horrible, Sister Maria ! But a very
blessed thing, and a great grace of the Virgin,
that it should be discovered ! I thought as much

t5

when I laid the facts before his paternity. Oh !
I knew there was something very bad ! But, pru-
dence, Sister Maria ! "

" A chi lo dite ! Sister Giuseppa."

And so, before the same hour on the following
evening, a mysterious whisper had passed through
all the community, and every member of it was
aware that some almost unmentionable horror had
been providentially discovered with reference to the
new Abbess! And the nuns were seizing every
opportunity of getting into corners by twos and
threes, to ask and tell rumours, and communicate
ideas respecting the terrible news. And before
long the great question which divided the opinions
of the sisterhood was, whether the new Abbess
would be burned within the convent walls, or on
the principal piazza of the city.



17



CHAPTER VH.

THE ABBESS AND HER PUPIL.

IT soon became impossible for the Abbess to
avoid observing that there was something amiss
between her and the members of the sisterhood
under her government, and that their sentiments
with regard to her were not such as were desirable.
Nevertheless, as the Director's injunctions as to
"caution" and "prudence" were observed most
sedulously, she was wholly at a loss for any expla-
nation of the unpleasant symptoms which forced
themselves on her notice. Least of all did it occur
to her to imagine that her intercourse with one of
the young persons placed under her special care
could form any part of the grounds of discontent
with her government of the convent. And it was
inevitable that what had passed between her and

VOL. III. C



18 GIULIO MALATESTA.

Stella at their last interview should make that
intercourse closer and still more confidential for
the future. The tie which henceforth bound them
together was far too strong an one to be severed
or weakened by the etiquette of convent discipline,
even if either of them had been aware of the
extent to which they were considered to be sinning
against it. Henceforward for ever the heart-life
of these two women was to be centred in one and
the same individual. Their hopes, fears, and inte-
rests were, of course, the same, their wishes iden-
tical ; and the goal, which represented to the
ardent imagination of the younger the full attain-
ment of all that earth had to offer of happiness,
could not but shine out as a dim distant star to the
resuscitated heart of the elder, like the nascent
glimmering of the possibility of a joy in that
future, where till now all had been dead, arid, and
barren as the desert.

But it would have been a curious study, not so
much of the innate differences between one human
temperament and another, as between the results
of different courses of life -discipline on the subjects
of them, to mark the differences in the effect pro-
duced by the discovery they had both of them made
on these two women.

Stella Altamari had received from nature a
stronger moral fibre, a greater power of volition,



THE ABBESS AND HER PUPIL. 19

and a bolder temperament, than Maddalena Tacca.
Youth, moreover, is bolder and more sanguine
than advanced life. Yet more -is a heart which
has grown in the world's sunshine braver than one
Avhich has known only its cold shade. But greatest
difference of all between those two in the capacity
of hopefulness, in the elasticity which can rise
from the depression of past sorrows to fresh
straggles and new amis, was that which resulted
from the twenty years of living death which had
made half the existence of the latter. A distant
glimmering of the possibility of a feeling of joy
had been manifested, as has been said, to the
resuscitated heart of the woman who had been
so long in her moral grave. But resuscitation is
never otherwise than painful. The surest mark of
the intensity of suffering is the limitation of the
sufferer's desires to absolute repose, and the cessa-
tion of all sensation. The moral nature cleaves to
moral life, and abominates moral death with as
strong an instinct as the physical body abhors
physical death. And the heart may suffer much,
and turn eagerly at nature's kindly and beneficent
prompting to new hopes and aims. But the heart
which has suffered most is that which limits its
aspirations to the moral death of absolute vacancy ;
which dreads a new affection even as the quivering
nerves dread another turn of the tormentor's screw ;
c2



20 GIULIO MALATESTA.

which has learned to distrust life so profoundly,
that it clings to the numbed immobility of annihi-
lation.

This was the condition of heart and mind in
which the discovery made by Stella and herself
had found the Abbess. Twenty years ago her
babe had been torn from her bosom, and she had
been consigned to a grave where it appeared im-
possible that any further tidings of him should
reach her. If any half-conscious hope had lin-
gered for a while in her heart, it had long since
perished. And now the numbed heart was to be
wakened from its long trance, the blood was to
tingle again in its old currents, the pulses to be
set beating afresh ! A strange fear and trembling,
like that which prisoners have felt when called,
after long, long years of confinement in dark cells,
to come forth into the light of day, fell upon the
Abbess when the possibilities of the future shaped
themselves in her mind.

Stella saw only cause of unmixed delight in the
discovery she had made ! What a joy for Giulio !
His mother found ! and such a mother ! And she
had been the discoverer ! Oh ! the pleasure of
instantly writing her great tidings ! There would
be no difficulty in sending her letter now ! She
should be the means of bringing the long lost son
and long lost mother to each other's arms ! And,



THE ABBESS AND HER PUPIL. 21

of course, Avith such an aid on her side as the
Abbess, her family would soon be brought to hear
reason !

Poor little sanguine Stella was doomed, there-


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