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The name of every dweller, and his craft;
Mark, where within, as though the embers lived,
But, lo! engraven on the threshold-stone,
And now a harp-string as struck carelessly,
along the corridor it comes
THE BAG OF GOLD.
I DINE very often with the good old Cardinal * *, and, I should add, with his cats ; for they always sit at his table, and are much the gravest of the company. His beaming countenance makes us forget his age;
nor did I ever see it clouded till yesterday, when, as we were contemplating the sunset from his terrace, he happened, in the course of our conversation, to allude to an affecting circumstance in his early life.
He had just left the University of PALERMO, and was entering the army, when he became acquainted with a young lady of great beauty and merit, a Sicilian of a family as illustrious as his own. Living near each other, they were often together; and, at an age like theirs, friendship soon turns to love But his father, for what reason I forget, refused his consent to their union; till, alarmed at the declining health of his son, he promised to oppose it no longer, if, after a separation of three years, they continued as much in love as ever.
Relying on that promise, he said, I set out on a long journey; but in my absence the usual arts were resorted to. Our letters were intercepted; and false rumors were spread - first of my indifference, then of my inconstancy, then of ity;
my marriage with a rich heiress of SIENNA; and, when at length I returned to make her my own, I found her in a convent of Ursuline Nuns. She had taken the veil; and I, said he with a sigh — what else remained for me?-I went into the church.
Yet many, he continued, as if to turn the conversation, very many have been happy, though we were not; and, if I am not abusing an old man's privilege, let me tell you a story with a better catastrophe. It was told to me when a boy; and you may not be unwilling to hear it, for it bears some resemblance to that of the Merchant of Venice.
We were now arrived at a pavilion that commanded one of the noblest prospects imaginable; the mountains, the sea,
and the islands illuminated by the last beams of day; and, sitting down there, he proceeded with his usual vivac
for the sadness that had come across him was gone. There lived in the fourteenth century, near BOLOGNA, a widow-lady of the Lambertini family, called MADONNA LUCREZIA, who in a revolution of the state had known the bitterness of poverty, and had even begged her bread; kneeling day after day like a statue at the gate of the cathedral; her rosary in her left hand and her right held out for charity, her long black veil concealing a face that had once adorned a court, and had received the homage of as many sonnets as PETRARCH has written on LAURA.
But Fortune had at last relented; a legacy from a distant relation had come to her relief; and she was now the mistress of a small inn at the foot of the Apennines, where she entertained as well as she could, and where those only stopped who were contented with a little. The house was still standing when in my youth I passed that way; though the sign of the White Cross,297 the Cross of the Hospitallers, was no longer to be seen over the door; a sign which she had taken, if we may believe the tradition there, in honor of a maternal uncle, a grand-master of that order, whose achievements in PALESTINE she would sometimes relate. A mountain-stream ran through the garden; and, at no great distance, where the road turned on its way to BOLOGNA, stood a little chapel in which a lamp was always burning before a picture of the Virgin, - a picture of great antiquity, the work of some Greek artist.
Here she was dwelling, respected by all who knew her, when an event took place which threw her into the deepest affliction. It was at noon-day in September that three foottravellers arrived, and, seating themselves on a bench under her vine-trellis, were supplied with a flagon of Aleatico by a lovely girl, her only child, the image of her former self. The eldest spoke like a Venetian, and his beard was short, and pointed after the fashion of Venice. In his demeanor he affected great courtesy, but his look inspired little confidence ; for, when he smiled, which he did continually, it was with his lips only, not with his eyes; and they were always turned from yours. His companions were bluff and frank in their manner, and on their tongues had many a soldier's oath. In their hats they wore a medal, such as in that age was often distributed in war; and they were evidently subalterns in one of those free bands which were always ready to serve in any quarrel, if a service it could be called where a battle was little more than a mockery, and the slain, as on an opera-stage, were up and fighting
Overcome with the heat, they threw aside their cloaks, and, with their gloves tucked under their belts, continued for some time in earnest conversation.
At length they rose to go; and the Venetian thus, ad
dressed their hostess : “Excellent lady, may we leave under your roof, for a day or two, this bag of gold ?” “You may,” she replied, gayly. “But remember, we fasten only with a latch. Bars and bolts we have none in our village ; and, if we had, where would be your secur
“In your word, lady.'' 6 But what if I died to-night? Where would it be then?” said she, laughing. "The money would go to the church ; for none could claim it."
Perhaps you will favor us with an acknowledgment.”
“If you will write it.” An acknowledgment was written accordingly, and she signed it before Master Bartolo, the village physician, who had just called on his mule to learn the news of the day; the gold to be delivered when applied for, but to be delivered (these were the words) not to one nor to two but to the three; words wisely introduced by those to whom it belonged, knowing what they knew of each other. The gold they had just released from a miser's chest in PERUGIA ; and they were now on a scent that promised
They and their shadows were no sooner departed, than the Venetian returned, saying, “Give me leave to set my seal on the bag, as the others have done ;” and she placed it on a table before him. But in that moment she was called away to receive a cavalier, who had just dismounted from his horse ; and, when she came back, it was gone. The temptation had proved irresistible; and the man and the money had vanished together.
66 Wretched woman that I am !” she cried, as in an agony of grief she threw herself on her daughter's neck, “what will become of us? Are we again to be cast out into the