I was somewhat disappointed at this different ending to the narrative of Peppino, but it was very extraordinary that my adventure and that of the Frate should be so similar. It was broad day, I had overcome my superstitious fancies, yet the whole affair was so strange that I could not help feeling a qualm of fear, which I tried to laugh off, a proceeding which mightily offended Peppino.
“Signore, it is the truth I tell.”
“Suppose I prove it, Peppino. This is the month of May, and no doubt the feast takes place every night. You will show me the palace, and I will watch at the door of the secret room.”
“Dio! do not think of it, Illustrious,” cried Peppino in
alarm; “the Frate himself, a holy priest, was nearly killed, and you, Signore, you are a heretic.”
“And, therefore, liable to be carried off by his Satanic Majesty. You are complimentary, Peppino. Nevertheless, to-morrow you must show me the palace.”
“The Illustrious must excuse me.”
“And watch with me for this feast of ghosts.”
“Dio? the Signore jests!”
“No, indeed, Peppino! I am in sober earnest. We will go to the Palazzo Morone to-morrow; and now drive back to my hotel, as I feel very tired. Your story has been very entertaining, nevertheless.”
“Ah! the Signor does not believe me?” said Peppino, getting on the box again.
“Yes, I do, Peppino; but I believe your ghostly party can be explained away.”
CHAPTER IV. THE ANGELLO HOUSEHOLD
The bruises I had received during my nocturnal adventure turned out to be worse than I
expected, especially one on the left knee-cap, which quite incapacitated me from walking; therefore I was forced to remain in the house all day. This was somewhat annoying, as I was anxious to find out the Palazzo Morone, and see the chamber of Donna Renata during daylight. I thought also that as the palace bore such an evil reputation, my lady of the sepulchre would think herself safe in leaving the dead body of the young man lying in the room, and if I discovered the corpse I intended to give notice to the authorities of the crime I had seen committed.
Unluckily, however, I had to remain in bed most of the day, and when Peppino came in to say that his fiacre was at the door I was obliged to send him away, much to his gratification, as he was by no means anxious to guide me to the haunted palace. The curious resemblance between
my own experience and the legend related by Peppino had rather startled me; but, being certain that I had to deal with the natural, and not the supernatural, I was firmly resolved to unravel this mystery before leaving Verona. To do this every moment was of value, and I bitterly regretted that my stiff knee kept me confined to the house. Everything, however, is for the best, 佛山桑拿0757n and before I saw the Palazzo Morone, fresh light was thrown upon the events of the night in a most unexpected manner.
After my one day of enforced idleness I was fully determined to seek the conclusion of my adventure the next, when on the following morning I received a note from Maestro Angello, asking me to be sure and come to my lesson. As the Maestro was always annoyed at the non-appearance of a pupil, I judged it wise to go, and arranged with Peppino to search for the Palazzo Morone in the afternoon. The lesson would only last an hour, and I would thus have plenty of time to carry out my intention, as Peppino, knowing the palazzo, would be able to take me there direct.
I felt much better this second day after my adventure, as the pain had quite left my knee, so having thus arranged my plans for the afternoon, I started 佛山夜生活无忧 in a very contented frame of mind for the Casa Angello.
It was a dreary day, for there are dreary days even in Italy, and at intervals there fell heavy showers, which made me feel somewhat depressed. Pedestrians were hurrying along with large umbrellas of the Gamp species, red being the prevailing colour; and what with the sloppy streets, the gloomy houses, and the absence of the chattering Italian populace, the whole place looked infinitely melancholy, so in order to keep up my spirits I hummed the weird air I had heard in the Palazzo Morone.
Maestro Angello lived in a narrow street more like a drain than anything else, and I entered into a damp courtyard through a dismal little tunnel barred by an iron gate. The portinaia, who lived in a glass-fronted room as if she were a unique specimen of the human race preserved 佛山桑拿0757 in a case, nodded her head to intimate that the Maestro was at home, so I climbed up the evil-smelling stone stairs which went up the side of the courtyard, and soon arrived at Angello’s door. Ringing a little bell which tinkled in a most irritating manner, I was admitted into the dingy ante-chamber by Petronella, a short, fat, good-natured woman who managed the whole household, and made a great deal of noise over doing so. She was dressed in an untidy print gown, with a bright red shawl over her shoulders, and wore wooden clogs which clattered noisily on the terra-cotta floor. Her plenteous hair was roughly twisted into a knot and stuck through with large brass pins, which gave her a spiky appearance about the head. This curious apparition saluted me with a jolly smile in a gruff voice, with the usual familiarity of Italian 佛山桑拿体验 servants,–
“Sta bene! Signore. Ah, the Maestro! povero Maestro!”
“What’s the matter with him, Petronella?”
“Eh! Signore, he cannot live much longer.”
As Angello was considerably over eighty years of age I thought this highly probable, but was about to condole with Petronella over his illness, when she saved me the trouble of a reply by bursting out into a long speech delivered with much dramatic effect:–
“It is nothing but trouble, Signore. Such a fine young man, and the piccola loved him so! It will surely place the Maestro among the saints. Four masses for his soul, Signore; and those priests are such thieves. I said ‘No lesson,’ but the Maestro is a mule for having his own way. Let him teach, say I; it will divert his mind! There, Signore, go in with you! But I always thought it would come; four times I heard the cock 佛山桑拿网论坛 crowing, a bad sign, as Saint Peter knew. There, there! the Madonna aid us!”
Not understanding in the least what Petronella was talking about, I allowed myself to be pushed mechanically into the inner room in a state of bewilderment. The Maestro, seated in his usual chair, was waiting for me, and his granddaughter, Bianca, who assisted him in his lessons, was looking out of the window at the falling rain. An atmosphere of sadness seemed to pervade the dull, grey room, and as Bianca advanced to meet me I saw that her eyes were red with crying, while old Angello stared at her in a listless, indifferent manner, being so old as to be past all sympathetic feelings.
He was a mere mummy, this old man who had been celebrated as a teacher of singing in the days of Pasta and Malibran; a faint shadow of his former self, only kept 佛山桑拿按摩一条龙服务 alive by the mechanical exercise of his art. Yet, in spite of his great age, his ear was wonderfully keen and true; the sense of hearing, from continuous cultivation, being the only one which had survived the wreck of his faculties, and with the assistance of Bianca, he was still enabled to teach his wonderful system in an intelligible manner. Many of his pupils had been European, celebrities on the operatic stage during the past fifty years, and his rooms in Milan were crowded with souvenirs of famous artists of undying fame. His children, and, with the exception of Bianca, his grandchildren, were all dead; his friends and acquaintances and the generation that knew him had all passed away; but this Nestor of lyrical art still survived, alone and sad, amid the ruins of his past. White-haired, wrinkled, blear-eyed, silent, he sat 佛山夜网狼女 daily in his great armchair, taking but little notice of the life around him, save to ask childish questions or talk about some dead-and-gone singer whose fame had once filled the world; but place a baton in his hand, strike the piano, lift the voice, and this apparent corpse awoke to life. He beat time, he corrected the least false note, he explained the necessary instructions in a faltering voice, and, during the lesson, bore at least some semblance of life; but when all was finished, the baton fell from his withered hand as he relapsed into his former apathy. One would have thought that he would have been glad to rest in his old age, but such was his love for his art that he insisted upon teaching still, and it was this alone which kept him alive. His granddaughter, Bianca, trained in the family traditions, was enabled to interpret his words, and, as his system of singing was unique, in spite of his apparent uselessness, he had many pupils.
Bianca herself was a charming Italian girl of twenty, more like a graceful white lily in appearance than anything else, so fragile, so delicate, so pallid did she seem. Her mournful eyes, dark and soft as those of a gazelle, seemed too large for her pale, oval face; and her figure, small and slender, always put me in mind of that of a fairy. Indeed, in sport, I sometimes called her the Fairy of Midnight, after some poet-fancy that haunted my brain, for all her strength seemed to have gone into those glorious masses of raven-black hair, coiled so smoothly round her small head. This portraiture seems to give the idea that Bianca was a melancholy young person, yet such was not the case, for I have seen her as gay as a bird on bright days, or when she received a letter from her lover.
Yes! she had a lover to whom she was engaged to be married, but, curiously enough, I knew nothing about this lover, not being intimate enough with Bianca to be the confidant of her tender little secret. This unknown lover was always away in other parts of Italy, and when he did visit Bianca it was during my absence, so I used to joke with the Signorina about this visionary being. But she, with one delicate finger on her lip and an arch smile of glee, would tell me that he–she never mentioned his name–that he had an actual existence, and some day I would see him in person at Verona. Well, here was Verona, here was Bianca, but the lover had not appeared, so I would have jestingly asked this Fairy of Midnight the reasons of his absence, had not the real grief expressed on her face deterred me.
“Signorina, are you in trouble?”
“Yes, yes! Signore, great trouble; but you cannot help me. No one can help me.”
“But perhaps I—-”
“No, Signore, it is useless. Come, you must have the lesson at once. The Maestro is dull to-day, he needs amusement; so come, the lesson.”
“It is very cruel of you to make a joke of my lesson, Signorina.”
Bianca made no reply to my jesting remark, but heaving a little sigh, placed the ivory baton in the hand of the Maestro and sat down at the piano. The mummy, finding his services required, woke up and had a little conversation with me before beginning the lesson.
“Eh! Signor Inglése,” he croaked–this being his name for me–“London is dark!”
He had a fearful prejudice against London, which he had once visited at a foggy season, and always made the above remark to his English pupils, which no one ever thought of contradicting.
“Yes, yes!” he said, nodding his old head like a Chinese mandarin; “London is always dark.”
“You’ve not been working?”
“Indeed I have, Maestro.”
“Come then, Signor Inglése, we will see,” and the lesson commenced.
Oh, those lessons! what agonies I suffered during them, trying to attain the impossible! To how many fits of despair have I given way in failing time after time to manage my breathing! It was all breathing–a deep drawing in, a slow letting out–the exercise of internal muscles of which I had never heard even the name–the weariness of incessantly practising notes in a still, small voice hardly audible,–it was enough to discourage the most persevering. Some of the female pupils, I believe, cried with vexation when not able to do what was required by the severe Maestro, who denied the existence of the word “impossible” in connection with singing; but I, not being a woman, was reduced to swearing, which certainly relieved my feelings after a battle with a particularly aggravating exercise.