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volubility was never at fault, and whatever the church may have gained when he was expelled from the seminary, there can be little doubt that she lost a famous preacher. He was of a fervor that carried conviction, and he would have carried it on this occasion but for the testimony of Razetta's back and shoulders, which were still black and blue from last night's drubbing. The saggio inquired sardonically whether Messer Casanova would suggest that his accuser had had himself belabored especially to the end that he might add weight to his accusation.
He was taken back to the black gondola. This headed toward the Lido and brought up half a hour later at the steps of the Fortress of Sant' Andrea, fronting the Adriatic, on the very spot where the Bucentaur comes to a halt when the doge goes on the feast of the Ascension to wed the sea. A year's sojourn in this prison was the penalty imposed upon Casanova in expiation of his offense against the peace of Venice.
The place was garrisoned by Albanian soldiers brought from that part of Epirus which belonged to the Serene Republic. The governor was a Major Pelodero, by whom Casanova was amiably received, and given the freedom of the entire fortress. The major, it would seem, took a lenient view of the offense that the young man was sent to expiate, and came no doubt under the influence of that singular charm or personal magnetism which was one of this rogue's chief assets. He was given a fine room on the first floor, with two windows, and it was from these that he first espied the masts of those fruit-sellers' boats, and so, after a week's residence in the
fort, came to conceive the first notion of enlisting their service to enable him to effect his escape.
That, of course, was no more than the first crude, germinal, and somewhat obvious idea that leaped to his mind. Another in his place might have lacked the wit to go beyond acting upon it. Not so Casanova. He considered that if he was to make good his escape, the circumstance could profit him, after all, but little. Perforce he must remain a fugitive from justice, hunted perhaps, certainly unable ever again to show his face in Venice without the certainty of being dealt with in a fashion far more rigorous than was the case at present. A door was open to him, and he were a fool not to avail himself of it; yet he were a fool to avail himself of it in the crude fashion that had suggested itself. He sat down to think, and the fruit of his thoughts was that when soon after dawn on the morrow the gentle splash of an oar reached him from below, he slipped from his bed and gained the window. The single mast of a fruit-barge came level with it at that moment.
Casanova put his head between the bar and the sill, and called softly to one of the boatmen:
"Olà, my friend! I want to buy peaches."
"Peaches, Excellency? At once." And while one of the men steadied the boat against the wall of the fort, the other swarmed up the stout, short mast, with a basket on the crook of his arm. This he held out as far as he could, and Casanova on his side stretched out to reach it. He emptied the peaches on to the floor of his room, put a gold coin into the basket, and returned it to the man, who broke into
protestations of gratitude at such munificence, and summoned every saint in the calendar to come and watch over this princely consumer of peaches.
"That," said Casanova, indicating the glistening ducat, "is a fruit culled from the Tree of Wisdom. So that So that you are wise, you may fill your pannier with them, and undoubtedly they are worth more than peaches."
"Show me but where the tree stands, Excellency!" cried the fruiterer.
"What would you do for ten ducats?" inquired the prisoner, and in naming that amount he named all the money he had in his possession.
"Anything short of murder," replied the other, dazzled by the mention of a sum which to one of his modest estate seemed a veritable fortune.
his hand to his knee. Stefani, the aide, ran immediately to his assistance.
"It is nothing," said Casanova, and sought to rise unaided, but found the task impossible. He availed himself then of the hand solicitously held out to him, and came to his feet, or, rather, to his left foot; for he found it quite impossible to put his right to the ground. He must have wrenched his knee, he declared, clenching his teeth to help him master the pain from which Stefani perceived him very obviously to be suffering. Then leaning upon his cane on one side and the aide's on the other, he hobbled painfully within doors and straight to his room, where presently he was attended by the surgeon of the fort. His knee was examined, and although no swelling was visible as yet, it was undoubtedly extremely sensitive, for the patient
Casanova looked at him, smiled, winced and cried out when the surgeon and nodded. pressed upon the cap.
"Be here at ten to-night," he said. "Now go."
Protesting that he would not fail, the boatman slithered down his mast again, and the barge moved on past the fort toward the city, suffused now by the horizontal rays of the sun newrisen from the Adriatic.
Casanova looked at his peaches, and his first notion was to send them as a present to the governor's wife. But he thought better of it. They might afford a trace, however slender, to what he had planned should follow. So one by one he dropped them into the water below.
Later that day, as he was taking the air with the major's aide-de-camp, he happened to leap down from one of the parapets of the bastion. As his foot touched the ground he cried out, staggered, and fell in a heap, clapping
"A slight strain of the muscles," the latter concluded. "Not very serious, but undoubtedly painful. You have had a narrow escape, M'sir. As it is, a few days' rest and bandages according to a fashion of which I possess the secret, and you will be yourself again."
Thereafter the knee was tightly bound in bandages, soaked in camphorated spirits of wine, and Casanova sat for the remainder of the day with the ailing limb stretched across a chair. The major and some other officers of the garrison, taking pity upon his helpless plight, spent a portion of the evening at cards with him, and whatever the condition of his leg, his wits had suffered no damage, for despite the small points for which they played, he contrived to win six ducats from them. When they left him, toward
eight o'clock, he begged that his servant might be sent to him, and permitted to spend the night in his room, lest in his present crippled state he should need assistance.
This servant was a new acquisition of Casanova's. He was a temporary valet, one of the soldiers of the garrison whose services the prisoner was permitted to hire for a few coppers daily. The fellow's chief recommendation to the ex-seminarist lay in the fact that he had been a hair-dresser before enlisting, and Casanova's hair, as he tells us himself, required to be rescued from the effects of the neglect which it had naturally suffered in the seminary. It is obvious to any reader of his memoirs that he was at all times extremely vain of his personal appearance, and it is easy to imagine how highly he valued, and how assiduously he employed, the services of this fellow. On the present occasion it would seem that the sometime hairdresser had another quality which recommended him to his temporary master: he was a famous drunkard. Casanova, in a more than ordinarily indulgent mood, now afforded him the means to gratify his inclination on that score. He gave him money, and bade him procure three bottles of a full-bodied Falernian from the canteen. Further he insisted that the fellow should drink them, although I confess that "insisted" is hardly the right word in which to describe such mild persuasion as he found it necessary to employ.
By half past nine the soldier-valet was snoring most unpleasantly, reduced to a stupor by the contents of the now empty bottles. By ten o'clock the whole fort was wrapped in slumber, for strict discipline prevailed,
and early hours were kept. By five minutes past ten came the splash of an oar under Casanova's window, and but for the darkness a mast might have been seen to come to a halt before it.
Casanova slipped from his bed and into his clothes with a nimbleness that was miraculous, and more miraculous still was the cure that appeared to have been effected; for as he crossed swiftly to the window there was no slightest sign of lameness in his agile gait. There was a single bar set horizontally across this window, but there was room for a man of ordinary proportions to pass above or below it, and Casanova, though tall and strong, was of slender, almost stripling, proportions at this time of his life. He tied a sheet to the bar, twisted it into a rope, slipped through, and a moment later he was standing amid the decaying vegetable matter in the barge. There he found only one man, the fruiterer with whom he had that morning come to an understanding. He pressed five ducats into the rogue's hand.
"The other five when the thing is done," said he. "Now push off."
The boatman plied his single oar gondolier-wise in the stern, and stood off from the fort.
"Whither now, Excellency?" he inquired.
"Hoist your sail," said Casanova, for the breeze was fresh, “and steer for Venice."
They had words, of course. The boatman had conceived that the fugitive, as he naturally supposed Casanova, would desire him to make the open sea beyond the Lido, and so head for the mainland. This going to Venice seemed to him fraught with
danger, and he spoke of the risk of being sent to the galleys if he were caught assisting the evasion of a prisoner.
Casanova took up a stout oaken cudgel that he found in the bottom of the boat. He was ever a violent man, and one who from threats proceeded swiftly to deeds when the occasion demanded. This was not one of those occasions. His threats were sufficient, especially as they were seconded by a reminder that ten ducats were worth some risk. By his directions the boat came to moor at the Schiavoni. He leaped ashore, bidding the fruiterer await him there. Thence he walked quickly to San Stefano, roused a dozing gondolier, and had himself borne to the Rialto.
It was striking eleven when he stationed himself upon the cobbles of the bridge to wait. It was a little before the hour at which Razetta usually returned home from an obscure café which he frequented, and whither he was commonly wont to go upon leaving the Abbé Grimani's. Leaning upon the parapet, Casanova waited patiently, smiling grimly down at the black, oily water in pleasurable contemplation of the business that was to do.
He had not long to wait. At about a quarter past eleven he beheld his victim emerge from one of the narrow side streets on the right of the bridge, accompanied, as on another similar occasion, by a lackey bearing a lantern. Casanova quitted his position, and moved down to meet him. They came face to face at the foot of the bridge, Casanova walking in the middle of the road, and receiving the full glare of the lantern as he advanced.
He halted, and Razetta stared at
him, first in incredulity of what he beheld, and then in obvious terror.
"Do you bar my passage?" Casanova thundered truculently, affecting to conceive himself beset, and a whirling blow of his cudgel shivered the lantern into a thousand atoms.
"Seize him!" cried Razetta to his lackey. But his lackey was deaf to the command. His hand was still tingling from the blow that had swept the lantern from it. "Body of Satan! you 've broken prison! You shall go to the galleys for this, sir."
"You mistake me, I think," said Casanova.
"Mistake you? You are that rascal Casanova. Seize him, I say!"
"If you will insist upon hindering me, I must defend myself as best I can," replied Casanova, and plied his cudgel.
On the occasion of their last meeting he had been armed with a slender cane capable of comparatively light punishment, but the stout oaken club he wielded on this occasion went near to endangering Razetta's very life. Its smashing blows fell upon his shoulders, upon his limbs, and finally upon his head. He screamed, and his servant roared for help, until the matter ended as it had ended on that other occasion: Razetta was knocked into the canal. Casanova flung his cudgel after him, and in a voice of thunder ordered the servant to be silent.
"Instead of squawling there, go and fish him out," he said, "so that I may have the pleasure of throwing him in again some other evening."
Steps were approaching down the street by which Razetta had come. Casanova waited for no more. He flung himself swiftly over the bridge, and down a narrow by-lane. He made