« PreviousContinue »
arms, and once kissed her fair fore- balf dead with horror, awaited the ishead, by way of binding the compact. sue of the contest. The assailants He looked up to the wall to consider came on with great fury; and as they the best means of enabling the lady to were three to two, the odds were rather scale it, when he saw above it a man's in their favour. They consisted of the head looking at them. Ascanio at first Gascon Captain, the porter, and a serthought they were betrayed, but the vant, who seemed to be in no great expression of the face, which he con- hurry to begin the fight; they appeartinued to look at, removed his alarmed astonished at finding two opponents, on this head.
It was a very fine having seen only Ascanio from the countenance, highly intelligent, and house. They fell on, however, in uncommonly good-humoured. It seem- pretty good order. It happened to be ed, as well as Ascanio could guess, by the lot of the stranger, perhaps bethe thick beard and mustaches, to be cause he was the bigger man, to enlong to a man of middle age. . He had counter the servant and the Captain. a long pointed nose, bright eyes, and Just as they came up, he loosened his very white teeth ; a small cap just cloak from his throat, and twisting it stuck on the left side of his head gave very lightly round bis left arm, he a knowing sort of look to his appear- made as serviceable a buckler as a ance, and added to the arch expression man should wish to use. Upon this he of his visage, as he put his finger on caught the Captain's first blow, and his lips to enjoin silence when Asca- dealt in return so shrewd a cut upon nio looked up at him.
the serving man's head, as laid him on “ Hush,' he said, it is a very rea- the forest turf without the least inclisonable bargain on both sides, very
nation to take any further share in the disinterested, and strongly sworn to. combat. The fight was now nearly And now, my children, as I have been equal; and to do bim justice, the a witness to it, although unintention- Gascon Captain was a fair match for ally, I feel bound to help your escape.' most men.
The stranger, however, Ascanio bardly knew what answer to
was one to whom fighting was evidentmake; but as he saw it was perfectly ly any thing but new : and in less than indifferent to the stranger, who knew five minutes the Captain lay beside the the whole of his secrct, whether he servant so dead, that if all the monks should trust him or not, he resolved to in Christendom had sung a mass in his accept his offer. He told him of the ears he would not have heard it. difficulty he had to get the lady over 66. I have owed you this good turn a the wall."
very long time, my gallunt Captain While employed on this, “three Sangfeu. I have not forgotten an ill fellows were seen stealing round the turn you did me at Pavia, when you walls with their swords drawn.
did not wear the rebel Bourbon's liveBy St. Dennis we have been ry; but there's an end of all
, and you reckoning without our host, cried the die as a soldier should.' And as the stranger, they don't mean to let us strànger muttered this, he wiped the part thus. Come, my spark,' he said blood-drops off bis own sword, and to Ascanio, you will have some ser- looked at the fight which was continuvice for that sword you wear, and ing between the Swiss and Ascanio, which,
pray heaven, you know how to but did not seemed inclined to inter
Do you stand on the other side fere. “ Save him, for mercy's sake, of the tree, Madam,' he said, putting cried the lady. By our Holy Lady, the lady on his horse, and if the worst he replied, I think he wants no aid. should betide, gallop down the path, He is making gallant play with his keeping the high road till you come to slender rapier there against the large Paris; inquire for the Nunnery of St. weapon of the Swiss. You shall see Geverieve, and give this ring to the him win you, Madam, or I have misAbbess, who is a relation of mine; she taken my man. Well evaded ! will ensure you protection.?
there he has it! he shouted, as As6. The lady received the ring, and, canio's sword entered his antagonist's
body until the shell struck against his the form of a gigantic face, representbreast-bone, and the giant fell at the ing the aspect of the God of Battles, youth's feet.
and a very terrible affair to look upon 6. The varlet may get over it, it was. said the stranger, kicking the ser- " Ascanio, who had often been vant's body ; but for the other two, much annoyed by the discordant noises I'll be their gage they'll never come with which his master conducted his out to assassinate honest men on moon- labours, and no less by the incessant light nights agaio. But away with talking of the old house-keeper, had you, turning to Ascanio, we shall found a refuge from both in the cavity have the whole country up in five of this head, where he had formed a minutes ; begone :' and he held the very convenient, and not a very small horse while Ascanio mounted.
apartment. Here he used to study 66 But what will you do?' returned painting and music, both of which he the youth.
loved far better than either sculpture «?I am not far from home, and if or working in gold; and he had been the hunt should become hot, I'll get up wise enough never to teh Cellini or one of these trees; but take care of the any other person of this retreat. He horse, he'll carry you six leagues in an entered it easily by a chasm from the hour. Good bye, Rabican,' he added, ground, and a small ladder, which he patting the steed's neck, who by his had placed within side, conducted him pawing seemed to know his master. up to his chamber.
The lovers do indeed put the speed « Cellini's oddities and the uncereof this noble animal to the test, and monious method he had adopted of get“his gallop was as wild as if it would ting possession of the Il Piccol Nello, never end.” But, on reaching Paris, had made him many enemies. Among Ascanio is at a loss how to dispose of others, there was a wretched little his fair charge.
tailor, who had the honour of being “ He was at this time living with employed for some of the Counseillers Cellini, in an old castellated house on du Parlement." This tailor becomes the left bank of the Seine, which had for certain reasons the implacable foe formed part of the Nesle Palace, and of Cellini. “ He took a garret directwhich Cellini had called Il Piccolly opposite his house, where he used to Nello. Almost all the chambers, ex- watch the motions of the inhabitants cepting the few in which they dwelt, of Il Piccol Nello, and to soften the were occupied by the numerous works exasperation of his mind, he bestowed in which the artist was engaged. At on them from morning till night all the length Ascanio's fertile invention sug- maledictions his ingenuity could ingested to him an expedient, by which vent. He had heard noises proceedhe might ensure an asylum for the ing from the monstrous plaster head lady, for a short time at least, until he in the court-yard, and even sometimes should be able to explain the whole af- in the dead of the night he had seen fair to Cellini.
two streams of light issuing from the Among the odd whims which, great eyes, but as he had no notion that from time to time, reigned in the cra- Ascanio was then within the head, zy brain of Cellini, that of making a drawing by the light of a lamp, or colossal statue of Mars, had for a long playing upon a guitar, which he actime been paramount, and he had pro- companied with his voice, the little ceeded so far as to make the head of tailor's fears and malice induced him the figure, when some other freak to spread a report that Cellini was an drew off his attention. This head was enchanter, and that the Testu di about as large as the cottage of a Lon- Marte he had made, was some demodon ruralist, and occupied a large space niacal contrivance which he had aniin the court-yard of Il Piccol Nello. mated for the destruction of the good The frame was made of solid timber, city of Paris. Not content" with reand the outside covered with a very porting this throughout the quarter in thick plaster, which was moulded into which he dwelt, he told it among all
the lacquais of all the Conseillers he in the world of whom he had ever knew, until at length the story of the been afraid) to themselves. He said Devil's Head in Il Piccol Nello was as he would see Cellini, who had staid well known as any other current lie in all night in the palace by his orders; the city."
and the artist was accordingly sent for. In this chamber Beatrice is placed ; 66. How now, Cellini," said the meanwhile the Chancellor had found monarch, as he approached, did I bis bullies where Ascanio left them, send for you to Paris that
should but could, persuade "none of the bring with you troops of fiends and dethree to tell him what had brought mons, who, it is said, help you in your them into so sad a plight, and for this works.' reason ; two of them were stone-dead, 66. I have no devils to help me in and the other was so faint, from the my work,' said Cellini, . but your maloss of blood, that he could not speak, jesty's subjects; and if my great and seemed very likely to follow his countryman, Alighieri, were to lead companions." He however pursues me through all the darkest places in the fagitives, 5 resolved, in his rage, the Inferno, I could not find worse to devote the youth to utter ruin, as fiends.' soon as he should catch him ; and, in “But here,' said the king, holdthe meantime, he proposed to glut his ing out the papers, 'two men swear rage by sacrificing Benvenuto Cellini, that you have a head of the devil in who, as we said before, had made him- Il Piccol Nello, and that the whole of self many enemies, by an unlucky the neighbourhood is infested by his habit he had of threatening to kill peo- legions, to the disturbance of the public ple with whom he had any disputes, tranquillity, and the great scandal of A practice which, although it has its our holy church.' advantages, would, if generally adopt. 6. The confessor crossed himself. ed, be highly injurious to all legal pro- 666 I abjure the devil and his powfessions;
and which, therefore, desery- ers,' said Cellini, crossing himself with ed the most severe reprobation of a no less fervour; -and next to them, I Chancellor.”
hate and abhor the villains who have Aware of Cellini's favour with the thus slandered me to your gracious King, he is obliged to tread warily; Majesty. Give me to know their but the superstition of that age render- names, and I swear they shall be beted a charge of sorcery too grave to be ter acquainted with the real devil ere parried. The haunted head is there- long.' fore made the hinge on which the ar- The King decides, on examining tist’s ruin is to turn; and the Duchess into the matter personally ; but Ascad'Estampes, the King's mistress, and nio had married the fair Beatrice behis Majesty's confessor, both enemies fore the royal commission got to Paris, of Cellini, enter into the confederacy and was gone to restore the stranger's against him.
horse, according to the directions he The confessor « devoutly believed had received, at the time it arrived in all the legends of the Romish at the Testa di Marte, wherein the church, and thought it highly proba- Bride was lodged. ble, that a man who could execute 66 The consternation of Beatrice such beautiful sculptures, as Cellini had may be better imagined than described, exhibited on the preceding day, must when she heard the arrival of so many be in league with the devil. When, strangers; but it was increased to an therefore, the Chancellor began to tell almost intolerable degree as she listenhis story, these two worthy personages ed to the conversation which ensued, chimed in, and backed his villainous and heard the odious voice of her opproject so well, that the good-natured pressor, the Chancellor. She could King was diverted from his first in- pot see any of the persons unless she tention, which had been to kick the had looked out at the eyes of the Chancellor, and to leave the confessor figure, and this she dared not to do and the saltana (the only two persons lest she should discover herself.
4. And this,' said the King, "is invent some pretext upon which Celliwhat they call the Devil's Head." ni might be sent to prison, and know
«« Who calls it so ?' asked Cellini, ing that their influence with the King fiercely, it is the head of Mars, and was much greater than his own, the whoever has called it the head of the Confessor fell into his scheme readily, Devil is an ass and a liar!!
and he said he did not doubt that there “ Patience, good Benvenuto,' said was a spirit in the head, and repeated the King; let us hear what they have that it ought to be exorcised. The to say against the head, which seems King had no objection to this, and as to be a very fine work of art, whe- he had already enjoyed the farce so ther it has been wrought by man or far, he wished to see it played. Some demon.
of the brethren of the neighbouring “ The Chancellor, who had taken Carmelite Church were sent for, in all care upon the journey to mature his haste, and preparations made for the plans, now produced the little tailor, exorcising. The Confessor directed a who saw here a glorious opportunity of large stack of faggots, which stood in being revenged on his formidable an- a corner of the yard, to be laid around tagonist. He, therefore, began a the head; because, he said, the applilong story, every third word of wbich cation of fire was always necessary to was a lie, about the sights he had seen dislodge a spirit so malignant as that and the sounds he had heard, in and appeared to be which had taken up about this dreadful head. He had its abode in this structure. The preoften seen the foul fiend himself go in parations were soon made, and a torch and out, he said ; he had heard the applied, when a faint shriek was heard devils performing the sacred office of to issue from the head. All the bymass backwards; he had seen flames standers looked aghast; the Priests issue from the mouth, and no longer crossed themselves; even the King ago than last night, as he was a Chris- looked grave; Cellini's hair stood on tian and a tailor, he swore that he had end; and the tailor ran away. At seen two fiends enter the head, imme- this moment Ascanio had returned diately after which it was seen to roll from the park, and learning from a its fiery eyes in a manner truly horrible bystander that they were about to exand awful.
orcise the Magic Head, at the Italian “It would be impossible to convey sculptor's, because there was a spirit any adequate notion of the extrava- in it, he rushed in just time enough to gances which Cellini committed while dash the torch from the hand of a lay this little idiot was uttering his lies. brother of the Carmelites, who was apIf he had not been restrained he plying it, anů whom he knocked down, would have killed him on the spot; he at the same time trampling out the fire roared all sorts of imprecations, he which had begun to catch one of the cursed every tailor that had been on faggots. the earth since the creation, and then, 6. Fiends, monsters ! he cried, 'adadding all those curses together, he vance one step, and your lives shall heaped them in a lump on the head of be the forfeit.' the particular tailor then before him ; “ Beatrice heard his voice, and alin short, he acted so whimsical a mad- most fainting with terror, she rushed ness, that the King laughed until his out, and threw herself into his arms. sides ached.
Supporting her with his left arm and “ The Chancellor, however, took holding out his sword with his right, up the matter in a much more serious he continued to menace all who should light. He said it was evident from the approach. relation of the witness, that some foul 66. What means all this ?' cried the deeds were practised, and that the King. But Ascanio was too much head ought to be exorcised; never busied in encouraging the terrified girl doubting that if he could once gain the to listen to the question. assistance of the Clergy, they would “ The old Chancellor, however, who
recognized Beatrice instantly, now holy patron, St. Dennis, I believe he - thought that his plan had succeeded could himself have killed those three even beyond his expectation.
murderous villains whom thou didst re(46 My gracious - liege,' he cried, tain, but know that I helped him
this maiden is a ward of mine, whose that I cut the throat of that traitor - person I require to be instantly restor- Sangfeu, whom, in spite of me, thou bed to me; the youth I charge with didst cherish, to do deeds which thy
having, in company with others, slain black heart planned, but dare not = three of my household and having car- achieve. I helped him to carry off the ried off the maiden by force.'
maiden, thy dead friend's daughter, 1876. It is false,' cried Beatrice, as whom thou didst basely oppress; and she threw herself frantically at the if he had not been there I had done it King's feet, they were killed in fair myself.' --combat, and I went willingly with him " The King and his train then deto seek protection from the cruelty of parted, leaving the young people with that vicious tyrant. Here, at your Cellini, whom the disgrace of the Majesty's knees, I implore your pity Chancellor had put into mighty good and protection.'
He made Ascanio tell him 5. But what says the youth ?? asked the story of the fight in the forest over the King, of Ascanio, who had been and over again. He kissed Beatrice, gazing on him in almost stupifying as- and called her his child; he forbade
tonishment. He saw before him, in all work in Il Piccol Nello for a week; , the person of the gallant Francis, the had the wedding celebrated with great Stranger who had so generously aided magnificence, and said, that of all him in the Forest of Fontainbleau. works he had ever produced, none bad • Has he any witness besides that mai- made him so happy as den who is too deeply interested in this 66 LA TESTA DI MARTE." * matter, to prove that he killed his an
We now give a specimen of the po#tagonist in fair fight?" 66. He is one of a band of murder
etry—a canzonet : ers and ravishers,' cried the Chancel- My soul they say is hard and cold, lor in a rage, he has no witness.'
And nought can move me;
Perchance 'tis so 'midst life's wild whirl, 666 Thou art a liar though thou wert
But oh ! on beauty's lips, my girl! a thousand Chancellors,' replied the 'Twill melt like Cleopatra's pearl : youth ; and since peaceful men like Then love me love me. thee do not make war but upon weak
I would not climb th' ambitious heights - maidens, I defy thee by thy cham
pion.? 7. “No, my liege, he added, turning to the King, and kneeling- I have
Or wreathe with laurel leaves my brown no witness save God and your Majesty.'
Oh ! I'll gaze op thee till my fond
Fixed glances move thee : 666 And may every honest man have
Love's glance sometimes the coldest warms, witnesses as good in time of need to Pygmalion on a statue's charms oppose to perjurors and lawyers. He Gazed, till it leaped into his arms; is no murderer, Chancellor ; by my
That soar above me;
But love me-love me.
Then love me love me.