Puslapio vaizdai

of Porto Fino; to the right extended westward a grand line of picturesque coast, including the headlands of Capo di Noli and Capo delle Mele; and near at hand lay the harbor of Genoa, with its shipping, its amphitheatre of palaces, surmounted by the high ground above, and crowned by the fortressed summits beyond.

We were roused from the absorbing admiration which this majestic sea and land view had excited, by one of the four asking whether there were any access to the palazzo from this terrace. Whereupon the brothers showed us a winding turret staircase, which led by a subterranean passage into one of the lower vaulted rooms. Nothing more like a place in a wonderful story-book ever met us in real life; and while we were lost in a dream of romantic imaginings, one of the brothers was engaged in giving a prosaic relation of how the old palazzo had come into their family by a lawsuit, which terminated in their favor, and left them possessors of this unexpected property. During the narrative a brood of adolescent chickens had come near to where we stood listening on the green plot, and eyed us with expectant looks, as if accustomed to be fed or noticed. The elder brother indulged the foremost among the poultry group - - a white bantam cock

of courageous character - by giving him his foot to assault. Valiantly the little fellow flew at, and spurred, and pecked the boot and trousers; again and again he returned to the charge, while the blue-gray eyes beamed smilingly down from beneath the steeplecrowned hat, as the old man humored the bird's pugnacious spirit.

Presently a shy little girl of some ten or twelve years came peering out at the strangers from beneath a row of evergreen oaks that ornamented the back of the dwelling-house overlooking the terrace.

There she stood at the foot of the ilexes, shading her eyes with one hand, (for the sun coyly gleamed through the rain - clouds at that moment,) while the other was employed

in restraining the lumbering fondness of two large bull-dogs, that gambolled heavily round her. She was introduced to us as the daughter of the younger of the two brothers; who proved after all to be no bachelor, but a widower. One ponderous brindled brute poked his black muzzle against the child with such a weight of affection that we expected to see her overturned on the sward; but she seemed to have complete control over her canine favorites, and to live with them and a large macaw she had up stairs in her own room (we afterwards found it perched there, when taken to see the upper floor of the bachelor residence), as her familiars and sole associates, like some enchanted princess in a fairy-tale.

On entering the house from the terrace, we found ourselves in its kitchen, which strongly resembled a cavern made habitable. It was hewn out of the rock on which the dwelling stood; and it only required the presence of the black man and the old woman who figure in Gil Blas's story to give, to the life, the cooking-department of the robbers' cave there. As we ascended a rude stone staircase that led from it, we heard the lowing of cows; and, turning, we saw two of these animals comfortably stalled in a side recess, not far from the rocky ledge on which the culinary apparatus for dressing the food of the establishment was deposited. Mounting into the parlor, we discovered a good-sized apartment, its windows looking out through the foliage of the ilexes over the sea, skirted by the extensive coast view. Behind was the dining-room; on each side were the brothers' bedrooms; and leading from a small entrance-hall at the back was a large billiard-room. This opened on a small garden nook, in which were orange-trees and camellias, full of bud and blossom, from which some of the flowers were gathered for us by the Italian brethren, on our taking leave and thanking them for the unusual treat we had had in going over their curious abode.

The transient gleam of sunshine that

had shone forth while we were there was the only intermission vouchsafed by the rain, which afterwards poured down with a steady vehemence and pertinacity seldom seen on the Ligurian Riviera. The effects of this rare continuance of wet weather were soon made impressively perceptible to the four as they emerged upon the open road, after passing the Lighthouse of Genoa and the long straggling suburbs of San Pier d' Arena, Pegli, and Voltri. The horses splashed through channels of water which filled the spongy ruts, smoking, and toiling, and plunging on; while the whoops and yells of the postilion urging them forward, together with the loud smacks of his whip, made a savage din. This was farther increased as we crashed along a ledge road, cut in a cliff overhanging the sea;

the waves tearing up from beneath with a whelming roar; the rocks jutting forth in points, every one of which was a streaming water-spout; the rain pelting, the wind rushing, the side-currents pouring and dashing. These latter, ordinarily but small rills, carrying off the drainage of the land by gentle course, were now swollen to rough cataracts, leaping with furious rapidity from crag to crag in deluges of turbid water, discolored to a dingy yellowbrown by the heaps of earth and stone which they dislodged and brought down with them, and hurled hither and thither over the precipitous projections, and occasionally flung athwart the highway. At one spot, where a heap of such stones - large, flat slabs had been tossed upon the road, and a few of their companions were in the very act of plunging down after them, our postilion drew up to guide his cattle among those already fallen; and, raising his voice above the thunder of the seawaves, rain, wind, and waters, shouted out in broad Genoese to the falling ones, "Halloo, you there, up above! Stop a bit, will you? Wait a moment, you up there!" Then, driving on carefully till he had steered by the largest of the fragments that lay prostrate, he turned back his head, shook his whip

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at it, and apostrophised it with, "Ah, you big pig! I've passed you, for this time!"

The first change of horses took place at a village close down on the sea-shore, where some fishermen were busily employed hauling up the last of a row of boats that lay upon the beach. Every available hand, not occupied in aiding the conductor and postilion to unharness the diligence horses and put to the fresh team, was enlisted in the service of the boat-hauling. Young gentlemen out for an evening's amusement, attired in sacks or tarpaulins thrown over their shoulders, while their nether garments were rolled up tightly into a neat twist that encircled the top of each thigh, were frisking about a line of men with weather-beaten countenances and blown hair, who tugged bare-legged at the sides of the fishingboat, half in the water and half out. Occasionally one of these young gentry, feeling perhaps that he had aided sufficiently in the general work, betook himself to a doorway near, dripping and shaking himself, and looking out through the sheeted rain at his com、 panions, who were still in the excite ment of whisking round the heaving and tugging fishermen, while the waves rose high, the spray dashed up in mist over their grizzled heads and beards, and the wind whistled sharply amid the deeper tumult of the sea and torrent waters. To heighten the grim wildness of the scene, the shades of evening were closing round, and by the time the four travellers were off again and proceeding on their way, darkness was fast setting in.

Nightfall found them toiling up a steep ascent that diverges inland for a few miles, winding round the estate of some inflexible proprietor, upon whom nothing can prevail to permit the high road to take its passage through his land, there bordering the sea-side. Up the ascent we labored, and down the descent we lunged, the wheels lodging in deep mire at every moment, and threatening to abide in the deeper holes and fur

rows which the water-courses (forced from their due channels by overflowing and by obstructive fallen masses) had cut and dug into the road as they strayed swiftly over it.

By the time the next stage was reached, the conductor consulted the four on the advisability of stopping to sleep, instead of proceeding on such a tempestuous night, the like of which, for perilous effects, he said he had but once before encountered during the whole of the sixteen years he had been in office on this road. The three coupé passengers, consisting of two ladies sisters and a ruddy faced, cheerful gentleman in a velvet travelling-cap, who made it a principle, like Falstaff, to take things easily, and "not to sweat extraordinarily," warmly approved the conductor's proposal as a sensible one; and even the alert gentleman in the banquette agreed that it would be more prudent to remain at the first good inn the diligence came to. This, the conductor replied, was at Savona, one stage farther, as the place they now were at was a mere boatbuilding hamlet, that scarcely boasted an inn at all, certainly not "good beds." A group of eager, bronzed faces were visible by lamp-light, assembled round the conductor, listening to him as he held this conference with his coach-passengers; and at its close the bronze - faced crowd broke into a rapid outburst of Genoese dialect, which was interrupted by our conductor's making his way through them all, and disappearing round the corner of the small piazza wherein the diligence stood to have its horses changed. After some moments' pause, not in the rain, or wind, or sea-waves, for they kept pouring and rushing and roaring on, but in the hurly-burly of rapid talk, which ceased, owing to the talkers' hurrying off in pursuit of the vanished conductor, he returned, saying, "Andiamo a Savona." It soon proved that he had been to ascertain the feasibility of what the group of bronze-faced men had proposed, namely, that they would undertake to convey

the diligence (without its horses, its "outsides," and its “insides ") bodily over a high, steep, slippery mule bridge, which crossed a torrent near at hand, now swollen to an unfordable depth and swiftness. The four beheld this impassable stream, boiling and surging and sweeping on to mingle itself with the madly leaping seawaves out there in the dim night-gloom to the left, as they descended from the diligence and prepared to go on foot across something that looked like a rudely-constructed imitation of the Rialto Bridge at Venice, seen through a haze of darkness, slanting rain, faintly-beaming coach-lamps, pushing and heaving men, panting led horses, passengers muffled up and umbrellaed, conductor leading and directing. Then came the reharnessing of the horses, the reassembling of the passengers, the remounting of the "insides," the reclambering to his seat of the alert banquette "outside" (after a hearty interchange of those few brief, smiling words with his coupé companions which, between English friends, say so much in so little utterance at periods of mutual anxiety and interest), the payment of the agreed-for sum by the conductor to the bronze-faced pushers and heavers, amid a violent renewal of the storm of Genoese jargon, terminated by an authoritative word from the payer as he swung himself up into his place by a leathern strap dangling from the coach-side, a smart crack of the postilion's whip, a forward plunge of the struggling horses, an onward jerk of the diligence, and the final procedure into the wet and dark and roar of the wild night.

The gas and stir of Savona came as welcome tokens of repose to the toilsome journey; and the four alighted at one of the hotels there with an inexpressible sense of relief. His fellowtravellers were warned, however, by the alert gentleman, that they must hold themselves in readiness to start before dawn next morning, as the conductor wished to avail himself of the first peep of daylight in passing sev

eral torrents on the road which lay beyond Savona. Velvet-cap assented with a grunt; one of the sisters all briskness at night, but fit for nothing of a morning-proposed not to go to bed at all; while the other quite used up at night, but "up to everything" of a morning- undertook to call the whole party in time for departure.

This she did, ordering coffee, seeing that some was swallowed by the sister who had been unwillingly roused from the sleep she had willingly offered to forego overnight, collecting cloaks, baskets, and travelling-rugs, and altogether looking so wakeful and ready that she wellnigh drove her drowsy sister to desperation.

The preannounced torrents proved as swollen as were expected; so that the passengers had to unpack themselves from the heaps of wrappings stowed snugly round their feet and knees, and issue forth into the keen morning air, armed with difficultly-put-up umbrellas, to traverse certain wooden foot-bridges, in the midst of which they could not help halting to watch the lightened diligence dragged splashingly through the deep and rapid streams, expecting, at every lunge it made into the water-dug gullies, to see it turn helplessly over on its side in the very midst of them. Nevertheless, no such accident occurred; and the four jogged on, along soaking, soppy, drenched roads, that seemed never to have known dust or drought. At one saturated village, they saw a dripping procession of people under crimson umbrellas, shouldering two rude coffins of deal boards, which were borne to the door of a church that stood by the wayside, where the train waited in a kind of moist dejection to be admitted, and to look dispiritedly after the passing diligence. The alert gentleman heard from what the conductor gathered from an old woman wrapped in a many-colored gaudy-patterned scarf of chintz, which, wet through, covered her head and shoulders clingingly, that this was the funeral of a poor peasant-man and his

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wife, who had both died suddenly and both on the same day. The old woman held up her brown, shrivelled hands, and gesticulated pityingly with them in the pouring rain, as she mumbled her hurried tale of sorrow; while the postilion involuntarily slackened pace, that her words might be heard where he and the conductor sat.

The horses were suffered to creep on at their own snail pace, while the influence of the funeral scene lasted; but soon the long lash was plied vivaciously again, and we came to another torrent, more deep, more rapid, more swollen than any previous one. Fortunately for us, a day or two before there had been a postilion nearly drowned in attempting to drive through this impassable ford; and still more fortunately for us, this postilion chanced to have a relation who was a servant in the household of Count Cavour, then prime-minister to King Victor Emanuel. "Papa Camillo's" servant's kinsman's life being endangered, an order had come from Turin only a few hours before our diligence arrived at the bank of the dangerous stream, now swollen into a swift, broad river, — decreeing that the new road and bridge, lately in course of construction on this spot, should be opened immediately for passage to and fro. The road was more like a stonequarry than a carriageable public highway, so encumbered was it with granite fragments, heaped ready for top-dressing and finishing; and the bridge led on to a raised embankment, coming to a sudden fissure, where the old coachroad crossed it. Still, our conductor, finding that some few carts and one diligence had actually passed over the ground, set himself to the work of getting ours also across. First, the insides and outsides were abstracted from the coach, which they had by this time come to regard as quite an extraneous part of their travelling, not so much a "conveyance" as something to be conveyed,—and the four took their way over the stones, amused at this new and most unexpected obstacle to their progress. Hastening across the

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fissure, they went and placed themselves (always under umbrellas) beside a troop of little vagabond boys, who had come to see the fun, and had secured good front places on the opposite bank, to view the diligence brought down the sharp declivity of the embankment to the old road below. The spectators beheld the jolting vehicle come slowly and gratingly along, like a sturdy recusant, holding back, until the straining horses had tugged it by main force to the brink of the fissure. Here the animals stopped, snorted, eyed the sheer descent with twitching ears and quivering skins, as though they said in equine language, "We're surely not required to drag it down this!" They were soon relieved from their doubt, by being taken out of the traces, patted, and gently led down the embankment, leaving their burdensome charge behind. There it stuck, helplessly alone, even more thoroughly belying its own name than diligences usually do, perched on the edge of a declivity of the height of a tall house, stock still, top-heavy with piled luggage, deserted by its passengers, abandoned of its friend in the velvet cap, a motionless and apparently objectless coach. How it was to be dislodged and conveyed down the "vast abrupt" became matter of conjecture to the four, when presently some men came to the spot with a large coil of cablecord, which they proceeded to pass through the two hindmost side-windows of the diligence, threading it like a bead on a string; and then they gradually lowered the lumbering coach down the side of the descent, amid the evvivas of the vagabond boys, led by an enthusiastic "Bravissimo!" from Velvet-cap.

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the town of Oneglia. Here, while the conductor ran into a house to make purchase of a loaf about half a yard in length and a corpulent bottle of wine, the four saw another funeral train approaching. This time it was still more dreary, being attended by a show of processional pomp, inexpressibly forlorn and squalid. The coffin was palled with a square of rusty black velvet, whence all the pile had long been worn, and which the soaking rain now helped age to embrown and make flabby; a standard cross was borne by an ecclesiastical official, who had on a quadrangular cap surmounted by a centre tuft; two priests followed, sheltered by umbrellas, their sacerdotal garments dabbled and draggled with mud, and showing thick-shod feet beneath the dingy serge and lawn that flapped above them, as they came along at a smart pace, suggestive of anything but solemnity. As little of that effect was there in the burial - hymn which they bawled, rather than chanted, in a careless, off-hand style, until they reached the end of the street and of the town, when the bawlers suddenly ceased, took an abrupt leave of the coffin and its bearers, fairly turned on their heels, accompanied by the official holy standard-bearer, and went back at a brisk trot, having, it seems, fulfilled the functions required of them. Obsequies more heartless in their manner of performance, it was never the fate of the four to behold. The impression left by this sight assorted well with the deep and settled murkiness that dwelt like a thick veil on all around. Even the cheery tones of Velvet-cap's voice lost their elasticity, and the sprightliness of the sister's spirits, that invariably rose with the coming on of night, failed under the depressing influence of that rain - hastened funeral and that "set-in" rainy evening. As for the sister whose spirits fell with the fall of day, she was fast lapsing into a melancholy condition of silence and utter "giving-up."

Rattling over the pavement of the long, straggling town, — plashing along

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