Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

try, equally destitute of inhabitants and cultivation. The road had one time been a tolerably good one, but was now quite neglected, which Charles attributed to the late disturbed state of the country. Even this, however, they left, in order to visit an old frontier castle, which Charles had resolved to see, although his guide much wished to persuade him to pursue his journey straight forwardly, alledging, what was in fact the case, that it was on the highest point of the mountains, and that when they had taken the trouble of climbing up to it, it was not worth seeing after all.

Mr. Melville, however, went on, and in the mean while the Italian began to entertain him with a thousand tales of robberies and murders committed there

upon wayfaring travellers like himself, assuring him, that since the counter-revolution had taken place in Naples, Piedmont, et cætera, the whole country was filled with carbonari, who had no other means of

living,

VOL. II.

G

living, and who, hiding themselves in these mountains, in bands of ten, twelve, and sometimes many more, not only pillaged and assassinated, but sometimes even had the boldness to treat with travellers for a ransom, and detain them till the bills they gave on Florence and other towns were paid.

Charles knew the greater part of this to be true; but he was at that ardent time of life, and possessed by that desire for incident, which made danger almost pleasing to him ; at all events, much preferable to inaction.—“ I have generally founid,” said he, in answer to the guide's sage observations upon the best plan of avoiding the banditti—“ I have generally found that no accident happens to me when I think that none will; and whether any should or not, I am not one to turn a step out of my way for all the robbers in the Apennines.”

The guide remarked, that the signor was

very bold.

“ Besides,"

si Besides, continued Charles, giving him a sharp look, for he rather began to suspect him, “ I have pistols in my pookets that will serve two. How long do you think we shall be going?”

The guide replied, that an hour more would take them to Radicofani, and in little better than another, they would have , passed the hills.

To Charles there was an excitement in the very idea of being in the Apennines, which would have made everything around appear interesting, had not the prospect itself possessed all the gay variety of a mountainous country, constantly changing the rough features of the fores ground; and every now and then, as they climbed one of the acclivities, affording a long, bright view of the fertile track they had left behind. Thus they went on, till they had penetrated pretty far in the mountains, when Charles suddenly heard the report of two or three guns, which seemed to come from the other side of a

G 2

projecting

projecting angle of wooded ground that skirted the hill in advance.—" What is that?" demanded he, turning to the guide, who was looking deadly pale—" what is that noise ?"

“Oh, nothing," said he, hesitating, “ but some people shooting in the wood; we had better come this way;" and he was turning out of the path.

. Charles reined up his horse for a moment, and listened. The scream of a woman struck his ear. By Heaven I will see what it is !” he exclaimed, and dashing forward, he turned the angle of the wood.

Close upon him was a carriage, with the two leaders shot, a servant or two tied to a tree, half a dozen savage-looking ruffians surrounding the vehicle, and one of them dragging out by the arm the almost lifeless form of his cousin Mary. It was at that moment of agony, that he felt for the first time how much he loved her.

It was the impulse of the moment to spring from his horse, to strike the man

who

who held her a blow nerved by despair, which sent him reeling and bloody to the ground, and catching up Mary in his arms, he placed her on a piece of rock, and threw himself, with his pistols in his hand, between her and the robbers.

A flash of lightning could scarcely have been more quick, and it was done almost before they knew he was on the spot-almost before he knew it himself; but when he saw the situation in which he was placed, hope nearly forsook his bosom. There were none to aid him: the guide and his servant had not attempted to follow him, and he was surrounded by fourteen or fifteen armed men, whose counte- · nances told of famine, and whose very garments spoke their desperation. There were two who appeared superior to the rest; the one evidently an Italian, and whose looks Charles fancied, or hoped, told a tale of better days. The face of the other instantly flashed upon Charles's memory; it was that of the very English

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »