Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

of at once hoaxing the doctor, and gra- should be sought for to have charge of tifying the humour of the Magnifico, the sick man, and told Niccolajo where laid him down on Master Manente's he might find such a person, in the bed, and went to sleep. It was nine hospital of St Maria Nuova. To the o'clock before he woke, and then, ha- hospital Niccolajo accordingly went, ving dressed himself again in Ma- and found the person in question, who nente's clothes, and assuming the had already been instructed as to the inaster's voice, he called out of the part he had to perform

; and who, hawindow of the court-yard to a female ving undertaken the office, entered the neighbour who dwelt opposite, saying house forth with, (by the aid of a lockthat he felt himself very unwell, with smith,) and shortly afterwards opened a pain in his throat, which he had ac- one of the windows, and called out to cordingly wrapped in a woollen hand- inform the by-standers, that Master kerchief.

Manente had, in good sooth, a plagueNow there was at this time great boil on his throat as big as a peach, fear of the plague at Florence, where and was already lying at death's door. some symptoms had already discover- Upon hearing this, Lorenzo gave ored themselves; so that the good wo- ders that the attendant should be supinan, dreading what might follow, plied, through the window, with food asked him, in great trepidation, what and all other necessaries, and then dehe might please to want of her? To parted, with great shew of grief and whom he answered, that he begged for affliction ; while the attendant, having a couple of new-laid eggs, and a little received the supply of provisions, clofire; and then, pretending that he was sed the window again, and, in com. too ill to support himself, withdrew pany with the pretended dying man, from the window. The good woman made good cheer on the victuals which made haste to provide what he want- were sent him, to which they added a ed, and called to him as loudly as she flask or two of the choicest wine which was able, to tell him that she had pla- the doctor had in his cellar. ced the articles at the door of his house, While these things were going on, and that he must come and fetch them the poor abused doctor, having slept -the which he did accordingly—at away a whole day and night, at length the same time exhibiting to the by- awoke, and finding himself in bed, and standers the appearance of a person in the dark, could not imagine what scarcely able to totter along through place he had come to, but, calling to exhaustion, with his mouth and throat mind what had passed before he lost muffled up, and altogether so pitiable his powers of recollection, persuaded an object, that all who beheld him himself that, having been drinking were forced to believe that he was in with his friends at the Bertucce, and the worst stage of the dreaded dis- become intoxicated, they had carried order.

him back to his own house, as had not The rumour soon spread through unfrequently before happened to him. the city; and a brother of Master He therefore got out of bed under this Manente's wife, (a goldsmith by trade impression, and groped his way to --by name Niccolajo,) came running where he expected to have found the forthwith to know how the matter window, where finding none, he was really stood. He knocked, and knock- in utter ainazement; and, after some ed again, without receiving an answer, vain efforts to enlighten himself, not but was assured by all the

neighbours, having been able to ascertain the place that the poor doctor's was, without of either door or window in the apartdoubt, a lost case. Just at this mo- ment, he finished by returning to bed ment Lorenzo rode by the spot on again, where he lay in stupid wonder, horseback, (as if by accident,) attend- and, although halt famished, afraid to ed by a numerous troop of gentlemen, call out, not knowing what mischief and, observing the crowd collected might follow. round the door, asked what it meant. Lorenzo, in the meantime, proceedThe goldsmith replied, that he was ing with the management of the drafearful his brother-in-law, Master Ma- ma, ordered the two grooms, who had nente, was attacked by the plague, and before been employed by him in this related all he had heard on the subject. service, to disguise themselves as white Upon this, the Magnifico gave imme- friars, with long hoods on their heads, diate directions that some fit attendant and grinning Carnival masks on their faces; and, thus accoutred, he caused come what will, if I am doomed to die, one of them to arm himself with a na. I shall at least have the satisfaction of ked sword in the one hand, and a dying with my belly full.” So saying, lighted torch in the other, while the he fell to with marvellous appetite, second carried two flasks of excellent and, having consumed the best part wine, two loaves of bread in a napkin, of the provision which was laid before two cold capons, with a piece of roast- him, and carefully wrapped up in the ed veal, and the proper fruits of the napkin, and stowed away, the remainseason, with which they proceeded in der, to serve for a future emergency, silence to the doctor's apartment. The finding nothing better to be done, and door being locked on the outside, they flattering himself, (in the beatitude of opened it with a loud noise, and forth- a well-filled stomach) with the belief, with entered—the man with the sword that it was a mere trick of some of his and torch keeping guard before the companions, who would soon return to door, to prevent the escape of the pri- release him, he went into bed again, soner, while the other, advancing to where he lay for some time, thinking the middle of the room, slowly spread upon the grinning masks which had his napkin upon a little table which saluted him, till the very thought of stood there, and placed the provisions them made him laugh inwardly, and in order.

at last fell asleep as soundly as before. As soon as Master Manente heard Early the next morning, the attenthe door open, he started up in his dant from the hospital threw open the bed, intending to run out immediate- doctor's window, and, in a loud voice, ly--but no sooner did he behold the proclaimed to the neighbours, that his strange figures of those who entered, patient had passed a good night ; that than fear overcame him, and not a the boil had come to a head with the word was he able to utter. Seeing the help of poultices; and that he entersword and torch, he expected little tained good hopes of his recovery. So short of instant death ; but a glimpse passed the day without further inquiry, of the victuals somewhat revived him, and, towards evening, the Magnifico and he sat patiently for a minute while made known to his coadjutors, that an the table was spread; but, when that excellent opportunity had presented itwas accomplished, and the dumb friar, self for carrying on the jest, by the acby signs, invited him to partake, hun, cidental death of a certain young galger at once became more strong than lant, named Franciosino, who had fallany other feeling, and, leaping out of en from his horse and broken his neck, bed, he rushed voraciously to the in the square of St Maria Novella, and spot, without anything on him but had been laid out for interment, and his shirt, till the attendant pointing buried that same evening, by the friars to a dressing-gown and slippers which of the monastery, in one of the vaults were placed on a chair beside him, he without-side the principal entrance to accepted the invitation to clothe him- their church. As soon as this occurrence self in them; then, taking his seat at was made known to them, together with the table, fell to work with as keen an what was Lorenzo's pleasure as to the appetite, as if he had totally forgotten prosecution of the adventure, they be. the surprising nature of the circum- gan to give effect to it by the hospital stances in which he was placed. The servant, in the first place, going agaiu attendants, seeing him thus occupied, to the window, and declaring, in doloquitted the apartment with the like rous accents, that the disease bad taspeed and silence as they had entered ken a new turn, and the plague-boil it, and, leaving him without light as so much increased, that poor Manente before, locked the door after them, and was almost choked by it, and very went to relate the success of their mis unable either to eat or speak. Upon sion to the Magnifico. The doctor, this, the goldsmith, Niccolajo, became meanwhile, found that hunger (like very anxious that he should have somelove) can see in the dark; and the body sent to him, to make his last meré touch and smell of those good will and testament; but he was anvictuals, and those delicious wine- swered that the thing was impossible flasks, gave him such spirits, that he for that night, but he might return said to himself, “ It is well, Master the next morning, when measures Manente--things are not near so des- might be taken for accomplishing it; perate as they might have been ; and, and also for confessing the patient, and administering to him the sacram did in the most soothing terms imament. With this the goldsmith was ginable, recommending to her to reobliged for the present to rest satisfi- main with her young son in the couned, and when the crowd had disper- try, and leave it to himself to settle sed, the Magnifico's two grooms, who the affairs of the deceased in Florence; had been sent to disinter the body of which was arranged accordingly. the unfortunate Franciosino, brought Five or six days had now passed it secretly to the doctor's house, where away, during which they never failed Monaco and his attendant as secretly to provide the physician with a plenreceived it; and, having so done, wrap- tiful meal every morning and evening, ped it carefully in a new linen shroud, served up by the same men in hoods bound its throat with bandages, which and masks, as on the first day of his they bad previously dipped in plague- imprisonment. At last, one morning, ointment, belaboured the face with four hours before day-break, these thumps and blows, so as to make it same obsequious valets, dressed as belook swollen and livid, and laid it out fore, opened the door of his apartment, on a table in the basement story, with by command of the Magnifico, and 8 bounet on its head, which was well made the poor doctor get up, and slip known to be one usually worn by the on an under-garment of red suçuar doctor on solemn occasions, and strewn tone, with a pair of long mariners' with orange-flowers, and then went to boots of the same materials, and a bat bed, after again drinking and laughing à la Grecque on his head. They then together heartily.

muffled bim in a cloak, so that he was It was no sooner morning, than the not able to see, led him out of his attendant once more opened the case. chamber, and conducted him into the ment, and, with abundance of tears, court-yard, trembling all over from proclaimed to the neighbours and pas- fright, as if he had had the quartan sengers, how Master Manente had, just ague. There they lifted him from the at the turn of day-break, departed from ground, placed him in a covered litter this present life; so that, in an hour's drawn by two mules, and set forward time, the news had spread throughout on their journey by the gate of La Florence, and the brother-in-law hear. Croce, the same two grooms leading ing it, ran to the spot, and was ac- the way on horseback, in their ordia quainted by the attendant with the nary habits. Master Manente, as pretended particulars. Seeing that soon as he felt the motion of the car. there was now no remedy, the next riage, was seized with new wonder step was to take instant measures for and consternation. The voices of the his interment; and, for this purpose, country people, and noise of animals the goldsmith first gave the requisite which they heard, as day advanced inforınation to the board of health, upon them, convinced him that it was by whom the funeral was directed to not a dream. He bethought himself, take place with every proper precau- however, of all things that appeared tion. Those to whom the charge of most favourable in the singular cirremoving the corpse was committed, cumstances of his present condition, could not help remarking the great al- and allowed himself to be comforted. teration of feature. This, however, Meanwhile, not a word was uttered by was attributed entirely to the disorder either of his conductors, loud enough of which he died, and not a doubt oc- for him to hear. They stopped in the curred to any of them, or to any of a course of the day to take refreshments, numerous crowd of bystanders, who and at last, about midnight, arrived looked on at a respectful distance, at the Hermitage of Camaldoli, where stelling at sweet herbs and vinegar, they were gladly received and welcomwhile the body was tumbled into the ed by the Father Guardian, and confirst vault which they found open, ducted by him, through his own cell, head foremost. Nor is it to be doubt to an antichamber adjoining, and ed, that Master Manente's fur bonnet, thence to a sort of study, which again which was well known to everybody opened into a little parlour, the winpresent, greatly helped the illusion. dow of which had been walled up, The funeral being over, the goldsmith, and which was furnished with a smali Niccolajo, took upon himself the faré truckle-bed, a desk, and a table. This ther duty of acquainting his sister last mentioned chamber was situate on with the mournful event, which he the brink of a most deep and solitary precipice, inaccessible from without to existence. Meanwhile, certain domesboth man and beast, far remote withal tic events occurred, which (we will from any inhabited part of the con- charitably suppose) had not been at vent, and where not a sound was ever all in the contemplation of the Magniheard, except of wind and thunder, fico when he projected this memorable and now and then of a distant bell mystification. The supposed widow, tolling for Ave-Mary, and mass, or after mourning for six months with calling the brethren together to their the most exemplary patience, was, at meals. This place was judged by the the end of that period, persuaded to two conductors exactly suited to their bestow her hand, together with the purpose. So they went back to the possessions she had derived from her Court-yard where they had left their late husband, upon a friend of her unfortunate victim still locked up in brother, by name Michel Angelo, who the litter, from which they drew him was also a goldsmith, with whom she forth, half dead with hunger and now resided at Florence, in Master thirst, no less than with terror, and Manente's house, in all joy and festiconveyed him, with scarce a sign of vity, and was reported to be already knowledge or understanding, to the in a fair way of increasing the family habitation assigned him. They then establishment. once more accoutred themselves in Things were in this state, when Lotheir former habiliments, with the renzo, on his return to Florence, meetdrawn sword and torch and grinning ing accidentally a monk of Cainaldomasks, which were now so familiar to li, who had journeyed thither after their captive, that he felt as much joy certain purposes relating to his conat the sight of them as of some long- vent, was suddenly reminded by the lost friend and acquaintance, more sight of him of Master Manente, especially as they brought with them whom he had so long forgotten, and the welcome addition of a good supper commissioned him accordingly to carry to stay the cravings of his stomach, back with him a letter which he wrote upon which he fell to like a cormo- to the Guardian, containing instrucrant.

tions how he was to proceed to act We shall here take the liberty of with his prisoner. Meanwhile, that shortening some of the details of this unfortunate gentleman had generally memorable history. The two grooms, prevailed upon his keepers to relax the having delivered themselves of their extreme severity of the rules first charge, left him, (with directions to adopted with respect to him. He was two lay brothers of the monastery to allowed the light of a lamp, which serve him in the same manner as they added to the gratification afforded him themselves had been accustomed to by the meals which were provided for do,) and returned to gratify Lorenzo him, the pleasure of seeing the good with a report of their proceedings. It cheer which he tasted; and, though so happened that, shortly afterwards, neither Guardian normonks would the Magnifico had occasion to leave venture so far to transgress their Florence on affairs of state, which oc. orders as to hold any converse with cupied all his thoughts and attention him, they permitted him to testify bis during an absence of several months, gratitude for the indulgence granted and caused him' utterly to forget the him, by singing several of the airs poor doctor; and the Guardian and which he used to be celebrated for the monks of Camaldoli having, in all his skill in chanting among his old this time, received no counter-instruc- boon companious; besides which, he tions, went on, from day to day, treat would sometimes exercise his talent ing their prisoner precisely according of an improvisatore, and, at others, to what was first enjoined them; having a fine clear voice and good prowhile he, having learned to consider nunciation, would recite some of the his captivity as quite hopeless, had stanzas of Lorenzo's lately published gradually become in a manner recon- poems, entitled Selve d'Amore, all ciled to his fate, placing all his hap- which his hearers listened to with piness in eating and drinking, (the marvellous delight and satisfaction. materials for which were abundantly By this time he had nearly abansupplied to him,) and consuming in doned the hope of ever again beholdsleep almost all the hours which were ing the light of the sun ; when the not devoted to those noble purposes of monk whom Lorenzo had met in in the streets of Florence returned, whither. By degrees, however, dayand delivered to the Father Guardian light broke upon his solitude, and so the letter that was intrusted to him; far encouraged him, that he set foron perusal of which, that Holy Fać ward on his route by a little straggling ther took upon him forthwith to carry path which he discovered among the into execution the instructions contain- trees, though wholly ignorant where it ed in it. Accordingly, before daye might chance to lead him. He had break the next morning after, the two not proceeded more than a quarter of lay brothers, habited as before, enter- a mile before he reached a wider and ed the doctor's chamber, and having more trodden road, on the summit of made him get out of bed, caused him, an eminence, where he soon after met by signs, to clothe himself in a sailor's a muleteer, of whom he inquired dress, which they brought with them where he was, and was answered, at for the purpose, after which they La Vernia, to which his informant hand-cuffed and muffled him, and in added, “ But, what the devil! are that guise led him outside the gates you blind? Don't you see San Franof the monastery. Master Manente cesco before you ?" Upon which, looknow surely thought that the end of ing upwards, he beheld indeed the his life was at hand, and that he church of San Francesco, at the top of should never more taste bread; but, the hill, at no greater distance than though lamenting himself beyond two bow-shots from the place where measure, nevertheless, from the dread he was standing. of something worse that might befal It is impossible to describe the dehim, suffered himself to be led without light of Master Manente on finding resistance, wherever they pleased to himself once more at a spot already carry him. For two hours or more, familiar to him, as the scene of many they accordingly dragged him along a party of pleasure. He heartily thanks through woods and bye-places, tili ed the muleteer, and set off full speed they arrived near the Vernia, where, for the convent, which he reached in at the foot of a very large pine-tree, good season, and found there a Miin the centre of a deep valley, they lanese gentleman, who, in travelling, stopped, and after binding him fast to had met with the misfortune of disthe trunk with vine-twigs, removing locating his ankle, and

was about sendthe large bat from over his eyes, and ing for a doctor from Bibbiena to come the cloak from his back, and taking and set it. Manente, being informed off his manacles, they left him to him- of the circumstance, assured him there self, and ran away with the speed of was no need, as he was himself a phylightning ; tracing back the way they sician, and would undertake his cure had come, and never resting till they in twenty-four hours; and as, notreached Camaldoli, where nobody, in withstanding his seaman's attire, there the meanwhile, had noticed their ab- was that in his air and manner which sence.

inspired credit, the traveller was easiMaster Manente, thus tied to the ly prevailed upon to accept his offer. tree and abandoned, was filled with To make this matter short, the cure exceeding great fear; but, having lis- was speedily completed, and the doctened for a long while, and hearing no tor having received two ducats for his sound of any living creature near him, fee, and having also liberally regaled began to draw his hands together, himself at the expense of his patient, and easily slipped his ligatures. Hé proceeded, in high spirits, on the road now looked up through the branches to Mugello, where (as we have said) of the tree and saw the stars shining, was his country-house, which he reachby which he found that he was in the ed about sun-set. open air, and at liberty. His joy at Here, finding the gate shut, the this unexpected discovery, was some first thing he did on his arrival, was what moderated by the new species of to call loudly, by name, on the bailiff, alarm which he experienced from the who had the charge of the place when nature of his situation-alone, in an the family were absent, and was anunknown, and seemingly impervious swered, in a strange voice, that the forest ; nor was he by any means with- person he called had long since lett out apprehension ot' his masked con- that service, and was living at another ductors returning and carrying him farm a great way off. This answer apaway with them again, the Lord knew peared not a little strange to hiin, as

« ForrigeFortsæt »