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business," said he, “ calls me away at this moment, but if you will meet me here at two o'clock we will adjourn to my Casino, where, if you can dine on one dish, you will perhaps do me the favour to partake of a boiled capon and rice. I can only offer you that ; perhaps a rice soup, for which my
, cook is famous; and it may be, just one or two little things not worth mentioning."
A boiled capon—rice soup-other little things thought I,-manna in the wilderness! I strolled about, not to get an appetite, for that was ready, but to kill time. My excellent, hospitable, longtailed friend, was punctual to the moment; I joined him, and proceeded towards his residence.
As we were bending our steps thither, we happened to pass a Luganigera's (a ham-shop), where there was some ham ready dressed in the window. My powdered patron paused,-it was an awful pause; he reconnoitred, examined, and at last said, “ Do you know, Signor, I was thinking that some of that ham would eat deliciously with our capon : -I am known in this neighbourhood, and it would not do for me to be seen buying ham—but do you go in,
, my child, and get two or three pounds of it, and I will walk on, and wait for you."
I went in of course, and purchased three pounds of the ham, to pay for which, I was obliged to change one of my two zecchinos. I carefully folded
up the precious viand, and rejoined my excellent patron, who eyed the relishing slices with the air of a gourmand; indeed, he was somewhat diffuse in his own dispraise for not having recollected to order his servant to get some before he left home. During this peripatetic lecture on gastronomy, we happened to pass a cantina ;-in plain English-a wine cellar. At the door he made another full stop.
“ In that house,” said he, “ they sell the best Cyprus wine in Venice,-peculiar wine,—a sort of wine not to be had any where else; I should like you to taste it; but I do not like to be seen buying wine by retail to carry home;—go in yourself, buy a couple of flasks, and bring them to my Casino ; nobody hereabouts knows you, and it won't signify in the least."
This last request was quite appalling; my pocket groaned to its very centre: however, recollecting that I was in the high road to preferment, and that a patron, cost what he might, was still a patron, I made the plunge, and, issuing from the cantina, set forward for my venerable friend's Casino, with three pounds of ham in my pocket, and a flask of wine under each arm, sans six sous et sans souci !
I continued walking with my excellent and longtailed patron, expecting every moment to see an elegant, agreeable residence, smiling in all the
beauties of nature and art ; when, at last, in a dirty miserable lane, at the door of a tall dingy-looking house, my Mæcenas stopped, indicated that we had reached our journey's end, and, marshalling
way that I should go, began to mount three flights of sickening stairs, at the top of which I found his Casino, it was a little Cas, and a deuce of a place to boot,-in plain English, it was a garret. The door was opened by a wretched old miscreant, who acted as cook, and whose drapery, to use a gastronomic simile, was “done to rags.”
Upon a ricketty apology for a table was placed a tattered cloth, which once had been white, and two plates; and presently in came a large bowl of boiled rice.
“ Where's the capon ?” said my patron to his
66 Has not the rascal sent it?” cried the master.
“ Rascal!" repeated the man, apparently terrified.
“ I knew he would not,” exclaimed my patron, with an air of exultation for which I saw no cause ;
well, well, never mind, put down the ham and the wine; with those and the rice, I dare say, young gentleman, you will be able to make it out.-I ought to apologise—but in fact it is all your own
fault that there is not more; if I had fallen in
2 with you earlier, we should have had a better dinner.”
I confess I was surprised, disappointed, and amused; but, as matters stood, there was no use in complaining, and accordingly we fell to, neither of us wanting the best of all sauces—appetite.
I soon perceived that my promised patron had baited his trap with a fowl to catch a fool; but as we ate and drank, all care vanished, and, rogue as I suspected him to be, my long-tailed friend was a clever witty fellow, and, besides telling me a number of anecdotes, gave me some very good advice; amongst other things to be avoided, he cautioned me against numbers of people who, in Venice, lived only by duping the unwary. I thought this counsel came very ill from him. “ Above all,” said he,“ keep up your spirits, and recollect the Venetian proverb, Cento anni di malinconia non pagheranno un soldo dei debiti.”— “ A hundred years of melancholy will not pay one farthing of debt.”
After we had regaled ourselves upon my ham and wine, we separated; he desired me to meet him the following morning at the coffee-house, and told me he would give me a ticket for the private theatre of Count Pepoli, where I should see a comedy admirably acted by amateurs; and in
justice to my long-tailed friend, I must say, he was
, punctual, and gave me the ticket, which, however, , differed from a boiled capon in one respect—he got it gratis.
Having obtained this passport, I dressed myself, and went to the parterre, which was filled with elegant company. The play was “ La Vedova Scaltra,” in which the Count Pepoli displayed much talent. However, I had no heart, no spirit for amusement, and sat mournful and moneyless, in the midst of splendour and gaiety, without hope or resource, and careless of what became of me; I was contrasting the past with the present, and the prospect before me, and repeating to myself Dante's expressive lines, “ Non v' è nessun maggiore dolore che di ricordarsi del tempo felice quando siamo nella miseria,”—when I perceived the eyes of a lady and gentleman, who were at the upper part of the parterre, fixed on me, as if they were speaking of
At the end of the play, the gentleman approached me, and said, “ Sir, the lady who is with me, and who is my wife, requests to speak to you.” I went, and she said to me, “I rather think, Sir, you are the young Englishman (which I was called at Venice), who was engaged at St. Moïse, as tenor singer."
“ I am that unfortunate personage, Madam," said I.