Imágenes de páginas

attention, more perhaps than he was inclined to give it, for he was eager to return; and having examined the interior, he left the baron counting the seats, and went out to take a more general view of it. In the shade cast by the walls he perceived a couple of lazaroni playing at a Neapolitan game, not unlike the English game of drafts. They were both sprawling on the ground, on the space marked out for a kind of board, and contented enjoyment was beaming from their eager looks and laughing faces, while their rags and persons spoke nothing but poverty and wretchedness. But there was another object which still more attracted Charles's attention. Close beside them stood a young man, whose appearance at once spoke him a distinguished gentleman, and without in the least regarding the ruin, his eyes were fixed attentively on the two Italian beggars. There was something curious in the interest with which he looked upon them, and Charles, hardly L 3 thinking

thinking what he was about, drew pretty close to the group. After he had looked on for a minute or two, the stranger's thoughts seemed to find utterance.— “Could money make them happier?” he said aloud, and in English. * I don’t know,” answered Charles, quite forgetting that he had never seen him before—“I don't know; but you can try.” - “I will,” said the stranger, turning round, and looking at his countryman for a moment—“I will;” and he threw them a couple of small gold pieces. The first emotion of the lazaroni was of course astonishment, and then pouring forth a torrent of extravagant Italian thanks, arms, legs, head, mouth, all went to work, to express their gratitude, and the next instant they began to quarrel about the ill-bestowed bounty of the stranger. “Pshaw "cried the Englishman, and turned away. But at that moment they Were

were joined by the baron, who addressed him by the name of sir Philip Mason, and introduced Charles as his particular friend. The Englishman seemed glad to meet with the baron, and proposed to accompany them back to Naples, where he had been resident, he said, for many months. In returning, they entered into a variety of subjects of conversation, and Charles soon found that his new acquaintance was one of the most open-hearted of men, and most vehemently straight forward. From the first he seemed to have taken a partiality towards Charles, and calling on him the next day, continued to cultivate his friendship with great assiduity. Nor was Mr. Melville at all backward in meeting his advances; for the natural simplicity of the young baronet's character was, in his eyes, worth all the cultivation in the world. Englishmen, when they meet abroad, in general cast from them a part of that reserve which in their own country is interposed between them and the rest of L 4 their their fellow-creatures, like the grate of a convent between the secluded and the world without. Sir Philip Mason therefore soon became intimate in Mr. Melville's family; nor did it require long for him to discover the engagement subsisting between his friend and lady Mary Burton, and he mentioned the supposition he had formed to Charles, without any circumlocution. It was not a circumstance that Charles was at all inclined to conceal, and his frank avowal of it led sir Philip to inform him that he also was not wholly free from the trammels of that passion by which Charles himself was so deeply enthralled.—“I will introduce you,” said the baronet; “they are an Italian family I am sure you will like.” Mr. Melville, who had no wish for the introduction, passed over sir Philip's offer without any particular notice at the time; but a few days after, in riding near the tower which goes by the name of Virgil's - tomb,

tomb, the baronet pointed out a very handsome villa as the residence of count Mori, the father of the lady to whom he was paying his addresses, and proposed that they should call. Charles could not politely refuse, and acquiescing, he was accordingly introduced by his friend. The family consisted of only three individuals; the count himself, a handsome, gloomy-looking, “Werter-faced man,” as Miss Biddy Fudge has it—his wife, who seemed to have once been very beautiful, but now apparently quite depressed, and sunk into melancholy—and their daughter Biancha, who might well have charmed the heart of a less susceptible man than sir Philip Mason. She was the perfection of her country's style of beauty, as lord Byron describes the Italian peasant-girl:—

“Heart in her looks, and soul within her eyes,
Soft as her clime, and sunny as her skies.”

The first impression that she made upon Charles, and first impressions are always L 5 the

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »