Billeder på siden

I do not rejoice. But take the napkin, sir, and lead me away to justice: Take it, sir, if you wish any triumph over our family. By the souls of all my race, I shall follow you quietly as a lamb, for you have suffered too much already, from the Marlis. Not one hair of your noble head shall for this murder come into danger. Not one suspicion shall attach to your cloudless name. Had the law seized you, by my soul's being I would not have let you die, though I wished you never to get Julia Romelli for your wife. As it now is, you shall not for a moment be impeached.-Lead me away."

Hume was puzzled what step now to take. He could have no wish to see Marli perish on the scaffold, even though he was a murderer; besides, that he would himself indirectly share the ignominy, from having been so allied to the family. But, then, on the other hand, though life might now be of little value to him, he would not have his honour called in question, nor his name linked with the suspicions of his having had any thing to do with such a vile deed of murder, which might assuredly happen to him were the real murderer to escape. He was, besides, though of a very ardent temperament, a man of a wise and well-constituted heart, and could not but think, that Marli should be directly responsible to the laws of a wise country for his outrageous act. In something like a compromise betwixt these feelings, he said, "I shall endeavour, sir, to keep the blame from myself, and fix it upon the proper culprit:— Should you make your escape, I shall defend myself as well as possible."

"So the die is cast against me," said Marli, who, notwithstanding the sincere spirit of his surrender, had perhaps clung to the hope, that Hume might yet be disposed to save him, by leaving the country with him for ever. "But I shall abide it-Take me now in tow, for I am impatient to grapple with my fate."

"Not at all," said Frederick; refusing the handkerchief, caring not for the outrageous effect of which the wild spirit of Marli seemed studious, in proposing the use of this bloody leading-string, He went close, however, by the side of the Italian, determined now to lay hold on him should he offer to escape. This, however, Antonio did not attempt; but, going quietly with Hume to the village, he himself roused the constables, stated to them his crime, and put himself under their care, to convey him to the jail of the neighbouring town, which was done without delay.


MARLI was found guilty of Romelli's murder; and condemned to be executed in the churchyard where the murder was committed, -a place of execution certainly new and remarkable. Frederick

Hume, according to a solemn promise which he had made to Marli, when one day he visited him in jail before his trial, again waited on the prisoner in his cell a few days before the appointed time of execution. The Italian boy was sitting on his low pallet-bed, apparently in deep abstraction, and he sat for a minute after Frederick entered. His face was calm, and clearly pale, as if it had come out of the refiner's furnace; but his dark hair was raised a little above one of his temples, as if disordered by the wind; and there was an awful shadow and a trouble in the inner rooms of his eye. So soon as Hume named him, he arose, and advancing, kissed his visitor on the cheek, exclaiming earnestly, "My brother! My brother!"

"Well, then, my poor Antonio Marli," said Hume, much moved, "I trust you repent of your crime?"


Why? and wherefore ?" answered the prisoner, with a gesture of impatience. "But you shall hear me: When you were last in the jail with me, I was not in the vein for explanations, but now you shall hear and judge of Romelli's deserts. I would make you a prince, sir, if I could, but I have no other way of giving you honour, than by unfolding myself a little to you, which I would do were the confession to show my heart one molten hell.-My father, who, as you have already heard, was a clergyman in the north of Italy, was one stormy night returning home, through a small village, about a mile from our house, when he heard a poor sailor begging at a door for a lodging during the night, which was refused him. My good old father, remembering that he himself had a son a sailor, who might come to equal want, brought home with him the rejected seaman, gave him food and dry raiment, and made him sit with us by the parlour fire. The man was of a talkative disposition, and being, moreover, cheered by the wine which was plentifully given him, began voluntarily to tell us of his having been lately shipwrecked. And how could it be otherwise?' continued the mariner; how could that ship thrive? You will hear why she could not; for I know the whole story. Well, before sailing from Genoa, on our last voyage, our captain, who was a widower, had fallen in love with a young lady. Now, it so happened, that his mate, a nice young chap, liked the same damsel; and she, in return, preferred him to the sulky captain, who, in consequence, was mightily huffed, and took every opportunity, after we had sailed from port, of venting his spleen against his rival. One day, being


becalmed in the South Seas, near a beautiful green island abounding in wild game, the captain with a small party went on shore, to have some sport in shooting kangaroos. To the surprise of every one the young mate was allowed to go with us, and glad he was, for


He was a lad of fine mettle, and delighted in all sorts of amusement. But no sooner had we landed, than the captain turned to him, and said peremptorily,Now, sir, you must watch the boat till we rePoor fellow, he knew his duty, though he felt the mean revenge, and folding his arms, he turned quickly round with his face from us, which was burning with anger, and began to hum a tune. After we had pursued our sport for some hours in the woods, we returned to the boat, and were surprised to find that the mate was not beside it. We saw him, however, about a hundred yards off, (for he had probably been allured from his charge by seeing some game not far off,) hasting towards us. The captain, trembling with malignant eagerness, ordered us all into the boat in a moment, and made us pull away as fast as possible from the poor young fellow, who, loudly demanding not to be left in such a wild place, dashed into the sea, and swam after us. Be sure all of us used our oars with as little effect as possible, to let him make his leeway. This he soon did, and took hold of the edge of the boat; when the cruel captain drew his hanger, and cut through his fingers, leaving him again to fall back into the sea. "You dis obeyed my orders, sir, in not staying beside the boat,' cried the heartless savage, whom every soul of us would gladly have tossed overboard, though the instinct of discipline kept us quiet. As for the poor mate, he cast a bitter and reproachful glance at the boat, folded his arms, and diving down into the sea, was never more seen. How could the ship, that bore us with the monster, be blessed after such doings? She was beat to pieces on the coast of Sicily, and the captain and I alone escaped. He used me very scurvily thereafter, and I am not ashamed to tell his misdeeds. But it was a pity for the good ship, the Arrow.' O, God! hold fast my head!' exclaimed my father, on hearing the name of the vessel--' If—if—but tell me the captain's name.' • Romelli.' 'And the mate's? Hugo Marli;-a blythe sailor! My Hugo!-my own boy!' cried my father; and the old man's head sunk down upon his breast. Never shall I forget the wild strange manner in which our sailor-guest at this caught hold of the liquor that was standing on the table, drunk it all out of the bottle, and then fled from the house, leaving me alone, a little boy, to raise and comfort my father's heart. In a few days the old man died of a broken heart, and I was left alone with my twin sister Charlotte. Day and night I thought of Hugo, the gay and gallant sailor boy that all the maids of Italy loved, the pride and stay of my father's heart, who brought presents for Charlotte from far lands, and taught me to fish for minnows in the brook, and to pipe upon the jointed stems of the green wheat:-And all this was at an end

[ocr errors]

for ever; and my father's heart was broken. Therefore the desire of revenge grew up, and widened with my soul from day to day. I found a medium through which I traced all Romelli's 'movements, and when I learned distinctly that he was a prisoner in this country, I determined to pay him a visit. My father had left a small sum of money, but now it was nearly expended, having supported Charlotte and myself scarcely a year in the house of our maternal uncle, and we were likely soon to be entirely dependent upon him. On expressing my determination to go to England with my sister, I saw that he was very willing to get quit of us: and the better to insure our removal, he bought me a harp, and paid our passage to this country."

"Allow me to ask," interrupted Hume-" Did Charlotte know this wild purpose of yours?"

[ocr errors]

No; she was staying with our aunt for a while when the above scene with the sailor took place, and my father was dead ere she knew of his illness. The thoughts of revenge which had already occurred to me made me conceal the true cause of my father's death; or, perhaps, to speak more strictly, although it was well known, that his having heard of his son Hugo's death struck the old man to the grave, yet I took care not to reveal through what channel the news had come, or the cruel mode of my brother's death. Had Charlotte known what was within me, she would have tried incessantly to break my purpose; but she could not possibly know it, and as my will was her law in indifferent matters, she readily followed me to this country. No sooner had we landed, than I made her vow never to reveal our true name or distinct place of abode till I gave her leave: And, in the meantime, we assumed the name of Cardo. After wandering about in England till we learned to speak the language fluently, which we attained the more easily that our father had taught it to us grammatically, I led the way to Scotland, gradually drawing near my victim, whose place of stay I had taken care to ascertain in Italy through the same means by which I had hitherto watched his movements. To make my soundings, I got into Romelli's house under a feigned sickness. When you saw me first, I had in truth no complaint save that the nearness of my victim and purpose had made my heart so deeply palpitate, that a degree of irritable fever had come over me. The fair Julia was too kind and tender: 1 fell madly in love with her;-I almost forgot my stern duty of revenge. cannot guess the choking struggles between my two master passions. Yielding so far to the former, I compromised my pride in another point, and consented to be a dependant of Mrs Mather's. By Heaven! I was not born with a soul to wait at palace doors-I would


have rejoiced, under other circumstances, to live with my sister, free as the pretty little finches that hunt the bearded seeds of autumn; but love and revenge, mingled or separately, imposed it upon me to accede to your charity and Mrs Mather's, that I might be near the two Romellis. In her playful mood, perhaps, Julia one evening prophesied that I should become a murderer. You cannot conceive the impression which this made upon me. I had begun to flag in my first great purpose, but now again I thought myself decreed to be an avenger; and to avoid stabbing Romelli that very night in your house, I had to keep myself literally away from him. Now, judge me, my friend, Was it not by him that I was shut up in a madhouse? Yet, for your sake, and Mrs Mather's, and Charlotte's, and Julia's, and perhaps mine own, (for I have been too weak,) again I refrained from slaying him in your house -Nay, I left the place and neighbourhood altogether, and went to London. I engaged to sing and play in an opera-house, and made enough of money. My heart again grew up dangerous and revengeful. I returned to Scotland to pay Mrs Mather for having kept us, to send Charlotte to a sea-port town, whence a ship was to sail for the Continent on a given day, then to call Romelli to account, and thereafter to join my sister a few hours before the vessel sailed. On my arrival again in your neighbourhood, to make preliminary inquiries, I called at the house of a young woman, who was Mrs Mather's servant when I first came to the cottage; but who about a year afterwards went home to take care of her mother, an old blind woman. So, then, Charlotte was dead! My sister Charlotte-My young Charlotte Marli!-and all in my most damnable absence! I heard it all, and your own noble generosity: But nothing of Julia's marriage with Stewart, which my informant, in her remote dwelling, had doubtless not yet heard. All this might change my line of politics. In the first place, I imposed secrecy as to my arrival on my young hostess, who readily promised to observe it, in virtue of having loved me for my music. I had now to concert not only how best to strike Romelli, but, at the same time, how to prevent for ever your marriage with Julia. You know my double scheme in one. The brother of my hostess had, in former years, been an organist, and one day I took his instrument, which the affectionate lass had carefully kept for his sake, and went to the remote churchyard to play a dirge over Charlotte's grave. You were there, and I found it an excellent opportunity of forwarding my scheme, by making you promise to meet me afterwards in the aisle; which you did, when Signor Romelli happened to be there. Ha! ha! how came he there, the foolish man? Before naming to you the precise night of our threefold meeting, I

« ForrigeFortsæt »