Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

up, regardless of the usage of the Aragonese and Castilian courts. When Columbus beheld this mark of esteem, he sought to kneel, but Ferdinand forbade him, and, descending from the throne, clasped him to his breast.

A YEAR and a half had passed from the day the sovereigns overcame Boabdil to their reception of Columbus. What a contrast between these two historical events and their central epic figures! On the Vega of Granada perished the olden world of fatalism, and in that audience-hall of Barcelona began the new world of liberty; there despotism sank away, and here the rights of man dawned; beneath Mendoza's cross uplifted on the Vermilion Towers fell the social structure builded upon warfare, while beneath the banner set by Columbus on the coralreef of Salvador arose another society, which, despite its birth in armed conquest, was soon to be self-converted into an outgrowth of trade and labor. To be scanned aright, social truths demand the far perspective of infinite time and space. Boabdil, setting out with the conquered warriors of the Koran for the Libyan sands, closed the ancient era, while Columbus, returning from the measureless ocean with the simple sons of the world revealed by his mighty genius, inaugurated the modern era. Yet they who had wrought these marvels knew not their full scope or transcendency, and were even unaware that they had in fact found a new world in the ocean, believing that the discovered land was but a spur of the old historical continent.1 Setting aside the usages of the traditional courtly code, the Catholic Sovereigns bade Columbus be seated in their presence, and speak as he listed concerning his voyage. The discoverer spoke freely and long, repeating as though by rote the record of his journal and the report he had prepared for his sovereigns. A humble recognition of God's aid and of the help vouchsafed him by God's royal vicegerents on earth fitly prefaced his well-arranged discourse. The facts being set forth in orderly sequence, he gave due prominence to the more important features of his divine Odyssey, and to the emotions aroused in his mind by his sudden meeting with yonder virgin isles of beauty. Columbus spoke much of the gold he had obtained, and cast ardent eyes upon it as a promise of more to come. But, even as he was unaware of the true geographical position and

1 A belief not even dispelled by the results of the later voyages. See the interesting document entitled "Informacion y testimonio de cómo el Almirante fue á reconocer la Isla de Cuba quedando persuadido de que era tierra-firme," drawn up on the Niña, June 12, 1494,

immeasurable vastness of the archipelago he had found, so he divined not the potent factors he had added to interchange and trade. Had one set before his eyes the new productions so fraught with blessing to mankind, such as the febrifuge we call quinine, hidden on the mainland he had not reached but was soon to discover, his genius, now blinded by the glitter of gold, would have foreseen other and incalculable advantages to flow from his achievement. He knew naught of the bread made from the rich ears of the maize, nor the worth of the foodbearing but unsightly potato, now so indispensable to man's life. Who could have foretold him the future of tobacco? He saw it first in Cuba. Certain Indians carried it, rolled in dry leaves and lighted at one end, while they sucked the other end, and so regaled themselves with the smoke. How could he have forecast the part that leaf and its smoke were to play toward the enjoyment and the revenues of the civilized world in both hemispheres? With gaze reverted to the past, Columbus believed that all these lands had fallen under the dominion of our Spain to revive the crusades of the feudal ages, when they were in reality destined, in the plan of divine providence and in the development of human progress, to renew society as they had renewed life. But the onlookers of his time shared not such fancies. Columbus yet believed that Cuba was a part of the Asiatic continent and that the second expedition to be sent to the shores of Cuba and Española, with more and better-equipped vessels than the first, would attain to the kingdom of Cathay, the golden city of Cipango and the realms of the Great Khan, all rich with priceless gems. Whatever his inward beliefs, he could not for an instant doubt that the Church, thanks to his discovery, would win many souls and the State new subjects, while the Spanish nation should stretch out beneath new skies and through new seas to other virgin lands, as though God had willed to reward his faith and constancy by another and immaculate creation. How fitting, therefore, that upon the completion of the discoverer's story, a celestial chant should arise in mystic cadence, bearing to heaven's heights a glorious "Te Deum," voicing the emotion that possessed all hearts in that marvelous moment, when it seemed as though God and mankind were reconciled by the restoration of the lost paradise.

Emilio Castelar.

by the notary Fernand Perez de Luna, in which the officers and seamen testified, by request of Columbus, that Cuba was, indeed, a part of the mainland of India. (Navarrete, "Coleccion," II., 162.) Cuba was first mapped as an island by La Cosa, 1500.-TRANSLATOR.

THE CHATELAINE OF LA TRINITÉ.1

BY HENRY B. FULLER.

Author of "The Chevalier of Pensieri-Vani."

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

HE interval between the reunion at the gateway of Juliet's garden and the ceremony at her tomb was brief, but it had been long enough for Aurelia West to inform Tempo-Rubato that the acrobatic fantasy at Iduelegni had had other witnesses than those to whom it had been especially addressed, and pointedly to intimate to him that it might be proper for him to declare his real status before the present occasion was much older. She had been as peremptory as she dared, and had awaited his explanation with the air of one who has brought up a delinquent with a good round turn. But Tempo-Rubato had been in no wise abashed or embarrassed, or even inconvenienced. He had simply laughed loud and long, a laugh to flood a shrine with profanation,-and had asked them (all three, impartially) what they had thought of it, anyway. There had been no denial, no subterfuge, no palliation, no explanation whatever; and they were simply left to feel that this erratic person must be allowed the widest claim he cared to make,- must be granted full freedom on the highest plane he chose to occupy,band dumbly wonder under what aspect he would see fit next to present himself. This next aspect was offered at Bellagio, and presented a transition from applegreen fustian to navy-blue serge. Our two young ladies were just ending a morning's loitering stroll on the terrace of their hotel, when a small craft happened to pass by within a hundred feet of the shore. It was one of the kind common to the Lake of Como, but was gilded, curtained, and upholstered to the verge of the operatic. The glorious azure plain of Como might straightway have become a mere muddy puddle, and the towering crest of Crocione but a bald and inconspicuous mound, and the smiling undulations of the Tremezzino simply the flat vacuity of a prairie farm, for all the heed that Aurelia West now

VOL. XLIV.-121.

1 Copyright, 1891, by Henry B. Fuller.

929

gave them; for the craft before her was impelled by a young man in the garb (full-rigged, and more) of a sailor,-widening trousers, a low, broad-brimmed straw hat, a wide, lowcut, anchor-embroidered collar, a gold-fringed sash of white silk,-and the passenger was a lady who lolled back under the same parasol that had illumined the quay at Lucerne, and who lazily admired the quick and supple muscularity of her ornately attired companion.

Aurelia asked the Governor at lunch if he considered the salon of their hotel at all adapted to the giving of a concert. The Governor sent out a questioning look full of startled apprehension, as if to inquire what was in the wind now. It was the look of a man who feels the ground shifting beneath his feet-of a man whose recent experiences have made it worth his while to wonder what will happen next. He had entered upon this little tour simply as a quiet scientific gentleman whose tastes were subdued and whose requirements were extremely moderate, certain that what was good enough for him was good enough for the unexacting Chatelaine, and that what would please them both would assuredly suffice for their guest. But at just the present moment his status was something of a puzzle to him. It seemed now and then as if his eyes caught distant glimpses of the flaunting of banners, as if his ears detected remotely the halfsmothered clamor of trumpets, as if his nostrils were being tickled by fumes wafted from invisible censers, and there were hours when their modest little excursion seemed to have merged into something almost equaling a progress. And one day, after an hour's quiet cogitation in a retired corner of the garden, he became satisfied as to the identity of the chief figure in this triumphant march-reaching the result by a process of elimination. In the first place, it was not he himself. True, there were moments when he felt that the cheeks of the genius of Fame showed a tendency to distend themselves unduly on his account; he was daily hearing himself addressed by new and ingenious titles supposed fittingly to recognize his eminence, and this eminence had been further confessed by unexpected attentions from various officials in the minor towns lying between Verona and Milan. Yet, on the other hand, he often felt himself degraded almost to the level of a lackey: it was fetch and carry, do this and do that- a long and unceasing string of minor attentions which Aurelia West expected and demanded, and in which even the Chatelaine, careless of her gray-haired guardian, completely acquiesced.

In the second place, the chief figure of the progress was not their guest from Paris. True, she was showing an increasing disposition to flaunt her magnificent apparel here, there, and

everywhere, in places high and low, in season and out, and she was developing a capacity for haughty insolence toward hotel-keepers and their dependents that almost chilled the old gentleman's blood. But, on the other side, for every inch that she exalted herself in public she would humble herself a foot in private; and when the Governor had seen her a few times running about nervously with her mouth full of pins, and had once encountered her in a dark hallway with a shoe of the Chatelaine's in one hand and a tiny blacking-brush in the other, he saw that Aurelia West was not burning to be the Princess, but only the Princess's devoted slave.

There was only one of them left the Chatelaine herself. It must be for her, then, that they had given up their quiet and pleasant inn at Verona, and had transferred themselves to another, larger, showier, more expensive. It was for her that Fin-de-Siècle was always being sent trotting about for carriages and coachmen, that Tempo-Rubato would be despatched for ciceroni and sagrestani to open up famous places at distinguishedly unusual hours, and that Aurelia West had so willingly metamorphosed herself into a lady's-maid. It was for her that the hotel-keeper at Brescia had bowed down with obsequious devotion, and that the half-dozen eager waiters had tumbled over one another's heels; it was for her that the sindaco of Bergamo had driven up to the door of their inn with a carriage and pair; it was for her that he himself had been left to spend three dismal days m the Brera at Milan, staring at casts, coins, and madonnas, while Aurelia organized and led a triumphal tour among the shops of the Corso and the Galleria. The Governor studiously contracted his eyebrows as he stared through the white walls of Cadenabbia across the lake. and rubbed his nose thoughtfully with his long forefinger. Well, after all, the dear child wa worth it.

But he might have spared himself an uneas apprehension that the indefatigable Aurelia was designing to organize an entertainment at the hotel with the Chatelaine as chief patroness. and Aurelia, too, might have spared herself an apprehension that Des Guenilles was intending to duplicate here her performance at Meran: the Duchess had dismissed her three or f remaining voices, and, having thus stripped ber self of the last shreds of opéra comique, was ir dulging in a fortnight of unadulterated res preparatory to her autumnal engagements Paris itself. Meanwhile, she was established the other big hotel at the far end of the tosz and was daily doing Cleopatra-on-the-Cyds as far as circumstances and surroundings mitted the resemblance being greatest a course, on those occasions when Antony

-

not required to furnish the motive power as well as the devotion.

But the lake was free to all, and its shores were made accessible by frequent steamers. Aurelia twice covered the course from Como to Colico, and once she made a side-excursion down into the arm at the end of which stands Lecco; and on all these occasions she passed the panorama in review with the ferret-like, undeviating gaze of the specialist. The sheer fall of mountain-side, and the white tumbling of cascades, she viewed with complete indifference; the busy activities of quarry and silkmanufactory were so completely ignored as even to pass unresented; the fine picturesque ness of church-tower and monastery was taken in unconsciously, if at all, while the crumb ling walls of untenanted castles and fortresses seemed to strike her as anachronous to a degree: but for every distant glint struck by the sun on balustraded terrace, for every glimpse of pediment or colonnade caught through groves of cedar and magnolia, her eyes were keen indeed. In fact, Aurelia's sole concern in all this was to discover a villa ideally suitable for the enigmatic son of the Duke of Largo. Before long she did discover it, but not from the deck of the steamer.

For, on a certain afternoon, one of the insinuating boatmen of Bellagio, with more heed to profit than to meteorology, had tempted our friends out upon the water at a time when the prospect for wind and rain seemed more than commonly good. Within half an hour the prospect became a certainty, and a strong wind and a high sea drove them straight to shore. They effected their haphazard landing at a flight of broad and easy marble steps which broke through a long and stately terrace to lead down to the water between rows of sculptured vases rioting with flowers, and which led up to avenues of box and clipped ilex adorned with multifarious statues. And when a brilliant figure in white flannels came hastening down one of these stately paths to assist them in alighting, the transported Aurelia rose at once to the situation on the wings of ecstasy: here at last was indeed the villa of Tempo-Rubato, and it was the master himself who had come to welcome them. Tempo-Rubato knew nothing of this ecstasy, but he had a sharp sense of atmospheric conditions; yet with all his haste to get the Governor and his charges under shelter, he had barely done so before the storm broke.

It was sharp and sudden, short yet violent; a gusty roar, an ominous lashing of waters, a heavy downpour, a touch of thunder and lightning; then the infuriated beauty quieted her heaving bosom and veiled her flashing eyes, and bound down her flying hair and stilled her angry clamor, and presently Como, save for a

murmur reminiscent of rebellion, was herself again. Within a quarter of an hour the sky was clearly blue, and Tempo-Rubato walked forth with his guests, accompanied by his parents, who were spending a month with him in zilleggiatura, and by Fin-de-Siècle, who had sprung up from somewhere or other, and who announced himself as on his way back to Paris. The broad, graveled walks trickled with their last rivulets, the polished masses of box and laurel tingled with a million raindrops, the white walls of villas and hamlets glistened on many a remote mountain-slope, and a fullarched rainbow hung out its flag of truce from shore to shore. Through this scene TempoRubato, fully en prince at last, led the way with an air of easy and gracious mastery. The Chatelaine was simply enchanted by the spectacle, and did not hesitate so to express herself. As for the splendors of the villa itself, they impressed her almost to the verge of discomfort. The pictorial stateliness of the Vintschgau had not been without its effect upon her, but the difference between that and what she had previously experienced had been only one of degree. Here, now, was a difference of kind; never before had she encountered anything so suave, so luxurious, so spaciously serene, so indolently graceful. Every glimpse of cloudwreathed mountain-peaks seen down long avenues of ilex overawed her; every glance at the blue expanse of waters caught through openings in statued and arcaded galleries acted only as a spur toward the adequate expression of her delight.

This undisguised appreciation was not at all to the taste of Aurelia West, who did not care to have the Chatelaine show herself so completely pleased, so powerfully impressed. She herself accordingly drew on a weary and halfdisdainful air, as if her own infancy and childhood had been passed in villas of uncommon splendor, and as if she had tired of all such long years ago. She entered upon a quiet little course of disparagement by means of crossreferences to other travel experiences: she drew upon the outskirts of Vienna and the environs of Paris, where, as she more than intimated, features of equal magnificence were not altogether wanting, and she reminded the prostrate Chatelaine of one or two rather fine things in the ancestral home of Zeitgeist that found no fellows here. Propped up by such aids as these, the Chatelaine was not completely bowed and broken by Tempo-Rubato's grandiose environment; but she went through an ordeal which tried to the uttermost their united fortitude when the Marchese summoned them subsequently to a grand fête, when moonlight, music, fireworks, and what not besides, combined nearly to vanquish this simple-minded

girl and even to modify the nil admirari attitude of her friend.

The Governor found himself at home among the serried nymphs and goddesses of Tempo-Rubato's freshened elysium,-personages whom the old Duke pointed out as well as he knew how, and he jotted down with some nimbleness one or two little notions that he fancied might do very nicely at Avenches. He even begged from Tempo-Rubato a slight pencil-sketch of the uncommonly effective landingstage, from which to complete his own new marmorata, and he carried away a ground-plan and a perspective view which their host cleverly slap-dashed down on a page torn from his note-book. Fin-de-Siècle, too, scratched down his own little impression on the sensitive mind of the old gentleman, when he informed him, at one stage of their progress through the grounds, that he had just despatched his last chapters to Paris. This was done in a tone most marked, one sinister and even threatening; and the Governor, whose mind sometimes moved with a bounding intuition that was little less than feminine, instantly saw himself figuring upon the pages of a book, and none too flatteringly either. He sighed and shuddered. Were all the rites of hospitality powerless to exorcise the demon of publicity? And if he himself figured among the dramatis persona, how about his associates? If he were the père noble, or ignoble, as he rather feared,-how, then, as to the heroine? - an inquiry that he trembled to pursue.

But this ominous thought would now and then flap its dusky wings about his head as they loitered along through thicket and greenhouse, for Fin-de-Siècle had fixed a most intent regard upon the Chatelaine, and kept it there. Aurelia, never completely certain heretofore of exemption from a snub from this quarter, now found herself swiftly fading into nonentity. She undertook to revivify her own image in the mind of this contemptuous youth by reverting to certain episodes common to the Parisian experiences of them both; but some of these he ignored, and others he had forgotten, or had so far forgotten that it would be weariness to remember. Aurelia was willing, under certain conditions and for certain ends, to humble herself, but she was not yet quite ready to be humbled by anybody else, and she resolved to lie in wait until occasion might hold out the prospect of solace to her mortified spirit.

Such an occasion offered itself almost immediately-perhaps you will say she made it. It was in the largest of the greenhouses-the central one-that she found an opportunity at once to reassert her own importance and to exalt still higher the already exalted Chatelaine. Under a great octagonal dome of glass, focus

of Tempo-Rubato's horticultural endeavors, was set a small, stone-encircled pond, the surface of which was half hidden by the big, flat, lustrous leaves of some rare plant which had brought all its energies to one surpassing focus of its own-a single, great, white flower of transcendent purity and splendor. Aurelia's hands at this very moment were cumbered with flowers that Tempo-Rubato had presented. to her,-flowers of but moderate rank, it is true, but distinguished by the giver and his giving,-nor had the Chatelaine been altogether forgotten by the doting old Duke; but nothing like this prevented Aurelia from fixing a determined gaze on that one unique and precious blossom - -a gaze that passed from Tempo-Rubato to the Chatelaine and back again, but began and ended in the center of the pond-a gaze wide with expectation and prophetic of demand. And then she spoke-with a slow and distinct deliberation. This magnificent flower, she said, had doubtless been waiting for the coming of the lady on whom it could properly be bestowed. Well, the lady was here (this with a bow toward the Chatelaine that was almost a reverence), the Lady of La Trinité.

There was a slight pause, and in it was faintly heard the whirring of the wings of panic. Tempo-Rubato gave a start and a short, nervous laugh, the Duke paled perceptibly, and the Duchess, with a moist fear in her eyes, laid a detaining hand upon her son's arm; even Finde-Siècle gave a quick little gasp. The Governor should have done as much or more; but he simply looked in a fond, doting way upon the Chatelaine, as much intoxicated by this flattery, as much uplifted by a sense of coming triumph, as were he himself the principal-too sensitive to the fumes of the ideal to give due heed to the lees of the actual, however certain they were to remain behind. As for Aurelia. she realized pretty nearly-though not completely-what she was about; she had entered upon a course of splendid audacity, and this step was only a little longer and a little bolder than any preceding one; she honestly believed her friend conspicuously deserving of the best which could be offered; that blind old man had allowed his godchild to disparage here.f too long already.

Every one turned to the Chatelaine, but she made no effort to stay the execution of this high-handed decree. She was modest and reasonable enough, but she was too human to be above homage, and too inexperienced to r terpret signs and tokens, however open and abounding. She should have taken TempoRubato's strained bow and forced smile not a a sign of acquiescence eagerly courting encour agement, but as a plea for the averting of a

« AnkstesnisTęsti »