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acts of brutality, etc. that only husbands are capable of, or of which their poor wives are ever the victims.
If the moral geography of Europe be ever written, the region south of the Alps will certainly be coloured with that tint, whatever it be, that describes the blessedness of a divorced existence. In other lands, especially in our own, the separated individual labours under no common difficulty in his advances to society. The story —there must be a story-of his separation is told in various ways—all of course to his disparagement. Tyrant or victim, it is hard to say under which title he comes out best-50 much for the man ; but for the wo man there is no plea; judgment is pronounced at once, without the me rits. Fugitive, or fied from—who inquires ? she is one that few men dare to recognise. The very fact that to mention her name exacts an explanation, is condemnatory. What a boon to all such must it be that there is a climate mild enough for their malady, and a country that will suit their constitution; and not only that, but a region which actually pays ho mage to their infirmity, and makes of their martyrdom atriumph! As you go to Norway for salmon fishing—to Bengal to hunt tigers—to St. Petersburgh to eat caviare, so when divorced, if you would really know the blessing of your state, go take a house on the Arno. Vast as are the material resources of our globe, the moral ones are infinitely greater; nor need we despair, some day or other, of finding an island where a certificate of fraudulent bankruptcy will be deemed a letter of credit, and an evidence of insolvency be accepted as qualification to start a bank.
La Comtessa inhabited a splendid palace, furnished with magnificence; her gardens were one of the sights of the capital, not only for their floral display, but that they contained a celebrated group by Canova, of which no copy existed. Her gallery was, if not extensive, enriched with some priceless treasures of art; and with all these she possessed high rank, for her card bore the name of La Comtesse de Glencore, née Comtesse della Torre.
The reader thus knows at once, if not actually as much as we do our selves, all that we mean to impart to him ; and now let us come back to
that equipage around which swarmed the fashion of Florence, eagerly pressing forward to catch a word, a smile, or even a look ; and actually perched on every spot from which they could obtain a glimpse of those within. A young Russian prince, with his arm in a sling, had just recited the incident of his late duel ; a Neapolitan minister had delivered a rose-coloured epistle from a Royal Highness of his own, court. A Spanish grandee had deposited his offering of camelias, which actually covered the front cushions of the carriage ; and now a little lane was formed for the approach of the old Duke de Bregnolles, who made his advance with a mingled courtesy and haughtiness that told of Versailles and long ago.
A very creditable specimen of the old noblesse of France was the Duke, and well worthy to be the grandson of one who was Grand Marechal to Louis XIV. Tall, thin, and slightly stooped from age; his dark eye seemed to glisten the brighter beneath his shaggy, white eyebrows. He had served with distinction as a soldier, and been an ambassador at the court of the Czar Paul ; in every station he had filled sustaining the character of a true and loyal gentleman-a man who could reflect nothing but honour on the great country he belonged to. It was amongst the scandal of Florence that he was the most devoted of la Comtessa's admirers; but we are quite willing to believe that his admiration had nothing in it of love. At all events, she distinguished him by her most marked notice. He was the frequent guest of her choicest dinners, and the constant visitor at her evenings at home. It was then with a degree of favour that many an envious heart coveted, she extended her hand to him as he came forward, which he kissed with all the lowly deference he would have shown to that of his Prince.
« Mon cher Duc," said she, smiling, “I have such a store of grievances to lay at your door. The essence of violets is not violets, but verbena."
“ Charming Comtesse, I had it direct from Pierrot's."
“Pierrot is a traitor, then ; that's all : and where's Ida's Arab, is he to be here to-day, or to-morrow ? When are we to see him ?"
" Why, I only wrofe to the Emir movement of her upper lip batravel on Tuesday last."
what might mean scorn or sorrow, or “ Mais a quoi bon l’Emir if he even both. can't do impossibilities? Surely the The Prince, however, had now ru very thought of him brings up the his eyes over the paragraph, and Arabian Nights, and the Calif Ha- crushing the newspaper in his hand, roun. By the way, thank you for the hurried away from the spot. The poignard. It is true Damascus; is Duke as quickly followed, and soon
overtook him. “ Of course. I'd not have dared ” “Who gave you this paper, Duke?"
“To be sure not. I told the Arch cried the Russian, angrily. duchess it was. I wore it in my “ It was Lord Selby. He was Turkish dress on Wednesday, and reading it aloud to a friend." you, false man, wouldn't come to ad
“ Then he is an infame, and I'll mire me !"
tell him so," cried the other passion“ You know what a sad day was ately. “Which is he? the one with that for me, madam," said he, so- the light moustache, or the shortar lemnly. “It was the anniversary of one ?" and, without waiting for rsher fate who was your only rival in ply, the Russian dashed between the beauty, as she had no rival in unde carriages, and thrusting his way served misfortunes.”
through the prancing crowd of mor“Pauvre Reine !" sighed the Coun- ing horses, arrived at a spot where tess, and held her bouquet to her two young men, evidently strangers face.
to the scene, were standing calmly “What great mass of papers is that surveying the bright panorama before you have there, Duke ?" resumed she. them. Can it be a journal ?"
“ The Lord Selby,” said the Rus. “ It is an English newspaper, my sian, taking off his hat and saluting dear Countess. As I know you do one of them. not receive any of his countrymen, I “ That's his lordship," replied the have not asked your permission to one he addressed, pointing to his present the Lord Selby ; but hearing friend. him read out your name in a para “I am the Prince Volkoffsky, Aid. graph here, I carried off his paper de-Camp to the Emperor," said theRusto have it translated for me. "You sian; "and hearing from my friend, read English, don't you ?"
the Duke de Bregnolles, that you " Very imperfectly; and I detest have just given him this newspaper, it,” said she, impatiently; " but that he might obtain the translation Prince Volkoffsky can, I am sure, of a passage in it which concerns oblige you ;" and she turned away her Lady Glencore, and have the explahead in ill-humour.
nation read out at her own carriage, “ It is here somewhere. Parbleu, publicly, before all the world, I de I thought I marked the place," mut- sire to tell you that your lordship is tered the Duke, as he handed the unworthy of your rank-an infame! paper to the Russian. “Isn't that it ?" and if you do not resent this --- a
This is all about theatres, Ma- polisson !!" dame Pasta, and the Haymarket." “ This man is mad, Selby," said
“ Ah! well, it is lower down: the short man, with the coolest air here, perhaps."
imaginable. “ Court news. The Grand Duke “Quite sane enough to give your of Saxe Weimar."
friend a lesson in good manners; and “No, no : not that."
you too, sir, if you have any fancy for " Oh, here it is. Great Scandal it,” said the Russian. in High Life-A very singular cor “ I'd give him in charge to the po respondence has just passed, and will lice, by Jove, if there were nolice soon, we believe, be made public, be- here," said the same one who spoke tween the Herald's College and Lord before : “he can't be a gentlemnn." Glencore.'” Here the reader stop- “ There's my card, sir," said the ped, and lowered his voice at the Russian; “ and for you too, sir," next word.
said he, presenting another to him “Rad on, Prince. C'est mon mari," who spoke. said she, coldly, while a very sliglt “Where are you to be heard of ?"
said the short man.
“At the Russian legation," said the Prince, haughtily, and turned away.
“ You're wrong, Baynton, he is a gentleman," said Lord Selby, as he pocketed the card, “though certainly he is not a very mild tempered specimen of his order.”
“ You didn't give the newspaper as he said. "
“ Nothing of the kind. I was reading it aloud to you when the royal carriages came suddenly past ; and, in taking off my hat to salute, I never noticed that the old Duke had carried off the paper. I know he can't read English, and the chances are, he has asked this Scythian gentleman to interpret for him.”
“ So then the affair is easily settled," said the other, quietly.
“Of course it is," was the answer; and they both lounged about among the carriages, which already were thinning, and, after a while, set out towards the city.
They had but just reached their hotel when a stranger presented him self to them as the Count de Marny. He had come as the friend of Prince Volkoffsky, who had fully explained to him the event of that afternoon.
“ Well," said Baynton, “ we are of opinion your friend has conducted himself exceedingly ill, and we are here to receive his excuses."
“I am afraid, messieurs," said the Frenchmau, bowing, “ that it will exhaust your patience if you continue to wait for them. Might it not be better to come and accept what he is quite prepared to offer you-satisfaction ?"
“ Be it so," said Lord Selby : “ he'll see his mistake some time or other, and perhaps regret it. Where shall it be 1-and when ?"
“At the Fossombroni Villa, about two miles from this. To-morrow morning, at eight, if that suit you."
“Quite well. I have no other appointment. Pistols, of course ?"
“ You have the choice, otherwise my friend would have preferred the sword.”
“ Take him at his word, Selby," whispered Baynton ; “you are equal to any of them with the rapier."
“ If your friend desire the sword, I have no objection-I mean the rapier.”
* The rapier be it,” said the Frenchman; and with a polite assurance of the infinite honour he felt in forming their acquaintance, and the gratifying certainty they were sure to possess of his highest considerations, he bowed, backed, and withdrew.
“Well mannered fellow the Frenchman," said Baynton, as the door closed ; and the other nodded assent, and rang the bell for dinner,
THE VILLA FOSSOMEROXI.
The grounds of the Villa Fossombroni were, at the time we speak of, the Chalk Farm, or the Fifteen Acres of Tuscany. The Villa itself, long since deserted by the illustrious far mily whose name it bore, had fallen into the hands of an old Piedmontese noble, ruined by a long life of excess and dissipation. He had served with gallantry in the imperial army of France, but was dismissed the service for a play transaction, in which his conduct was deeply disgraceful ; and the Colonel Count Tasseroni, of the 8th Hussars of the Guards, was declared unworthy to wear the uniform of a Frenchman.
For a number of years he had lived 80 estranged from the world, that many believed he had died ; but at
last it was known that he had gone to reside in a half-ruined villa near Florence, which soon became the resort of a certain class of gamblers, whose habits would have speedily attracted notice if practised within the city. The quarrels and altercations, so inseparable from high play, were usually settled on the spot in which they occurred, until at last the Villa became famous for these meetings, and the name of Fossombroni, in a discussion, was the watchword for a duel.
It was of a splendid spring morning that the two Englishmen arrived at this spot-which, even on the unpleasant errand that they had come, struck them with surprise and adniration, The Villa itself was one of those vast structures which the country about Florence abounds in. Gloomy, stern, and gaol-like without; while within, splendid apartments open into each other, in what seems an endless succession. Frescoed walls, and gorgeously ornamented ceilings, gilded mouldings, and rich tracery are on every side, and these, too, in chambers where the immense proportions and the vast space recall the idea of a royal residence. Passing in by a dilapidated grelle which once had been richly gilded, they entered by a flight of steps a great hall which ran the entire length of the building. Though lighted by a dou ble range of windows, neglect and dirt had so dimmed the panes, that the place was almost in deep shadow. Still they could perceive that the vaulted roof was a mass of stuccoed tracery, and that the colossal divisions of the walls were of brilliant Tierna marble. At one end of this great gallery was a small chapel, now partly despoiled of its religious decorations, which were most irreverently replaced by a variety of swords and sabres of every possible size and shape, and several pairs of pistols, arranged with an evide at eye to picturesque grouping.
“What are all these inscriptions here on the walls, Baynton ?" cried Selby, as he stood endeavouring to decypher the lines on a little marble slab, a number of which were dotted over the chapel.
“Strange enough this, by Jove," muttered the other, reading to himself, half aloud-"Francisco Ricordi, ucciso da Gieronimo Gazzi, 29 Settembre, 1828.” · “ What does that mean ?" asked Selby.
“ It is to commemorate some fel low who was killed here in '28."
" Are they all in the same vein ?" asked the other.
“ It would seem so." Here's one : gravamente ferito,' badly wounded, with a postscript that he died the same night."
" What's this large one here, in black marble ?” inquired Selby.
“To the memory of Carlo Luigi Guiccidrini, detto il Carnefice,' called the slaughterer : cut down to the forehead by Pietro Baldasseroni, on the night of July 8th, 1829.”
“ I confess any other kind of lite
rature would amuse me as well," said Selby, turning back again into the large hall. Baynton had scarcely joined him when they saw, advancing towards them through the gloom, a short, thick-set man, dressed in muchworn dressing - gown and slippers He removed his skull-cap as he approached, and said—“ The Count Tasseroni, at your orders."
“ We have come here by appointment," said Baynton.
“ Yes, yes. I know it all. Volkoffsky sent me word. He was here on Saturday. He gave that French colonel a sharp Inson. Ran the sword clean through the chest. To be sure he was wounded too, but only through the arm; but 'La Marque' has got his passport."
“You'll have him up there soon, then," said Baynton, pointing towards the chapel.
“I think not. We have not done it latterly," said the Count, musingly. “The authorities don't seem to like it; and, of course, we respect the authorities !"
“That's quite evident," said Bayn. ton, who turned to translate the observation to his friend.
Selby whispered a word in his ear.
“ What does the signore say?" inquired the Count.
“My friend thinks that they are behind the time."
“Per Baccho! Let him be easy as to that. I have known some to think that the Russian came too soon. I never heard of one who wished him earlier! There they are now: they always come by the garden ;" and so saying, he hastened off to receive them.
“ How is this fellow to handle a sword, if his right arm be wounded ?" said Selby.
“ Don't you know that these Russians use the left hand indifferently with the right in all exercises ? It may beawkward for you ; but, depend upon it, he'll not be inconvenienced in the least.”
As he spoke, the others entered the other end of the hall. The Prince no sooner saw the Englishmen, than he advanced towards them with his hat off. “My Lord,” said he rapidly, “I have come to make you an apology, and one which I trust you will accept in all the frankness that I offer it. I have learned from your
friend, the Duc de Bregnolles, how the Englishmen were charmed by the the incident of yesterday occur fascination of manners and conversared. I see that the only fault com tional readiness of their hosts, the mitted was my own. Will you par- Russians were equally struck with a don, then, a momentary word of ill. cool imperturbability and impassivetemper, occasioned by what I wrong ness, of which they had never seen fully believed a great injury ?"
the equal. “Of course, I knew it was all a By degrees the Russian led the conmistake on your part. I told Colo versation to the question by which nel Baynton here, you'd see so your their misunderstanding originated. self-when it was too late, perhaps.” “You know my Lord Glencore, per
“ I thank you sincerely," said the haps ?" said he. Russian, bowing; “ your readiness to. "Never saw_scarcely ever heard accord methis satisfaction makes your of him," said Selby, in his dry, lacoforgiveness more precious to me; and nic tone. now, as another favour, will you per- “Is he mad or a fool ?" asked the mit me to ask you one question ?" Prince, half angrily. “Yes, certainly."
“I served in a regiment once where “Why,when you could have so easily he commanded a troop,” said Baynton; explained this misconception on my “and they always said he was a good part, did you not take the trouble of sort of fellow." doing so ?"
“You read that paragraph this Selby looked confused, blushed, morning, I conclude ?" said the Ruslooked awkwardly from side to side, sian. "You saw how he dares to and then, with a glance towards his stigmatize the honor of his wife—to friend, seemed to say, “Will you degrade her to the rank of a mistress try and answer him ?"**
-and, at the same time, to bastardize "I think you have hit it yourself, the son who ought to inherit his rank Prince,” said Baynton. “It was the and title ?" trouble—the bore of an explanation,
“I read it,” said Selby, drily; "and deterred him. He hates writing, and I had a letter from my lawyer about he thought there would be a shower it this morning." of notes to be replied to, meetings, “Indeed !” exclaimed he, anxious discussions, and what not; and so to hear more, and yet too delicate to he said, 'Let him have his shot, and venture on a question. have done with it.'”
“Yes; he writes to me for some The Russian looked from one to the title deeds or other. I didn't pay other, as he listened, and seemed much attention, exactly, to what he really as if not quite sure whether says. Glencore's man of business had this speech was uttered in seriousness addressed a letter to him.” or sarcasm. The calm, phlegmatic The Russian bowed, and waited for faces of the Englishmen—the almost him to resume; but, apparently, he apathetic expression they wore-soon had rather fatigued himself by such convinced him that the words were unusual loquacity, and so he lay back truthfully spoken; and he stood ac in his chair, and puffed his cigar in tually confounded with amazement indolent enjoyment. before them.
“A goodish sort of thing for you it Lord Selby and his friend freely ought to be," said Baynton, between accepted the polite invitation of the the puffs of his tobacco-smoke, and Prince to breakfast, and they all ad- with a look towards Selby. journed to a small, but splendidly de “I suspect it may,” said the other, corated room, where everything was without the slightest change of tone already awaiting them. There are or demeanour. few incidents in life which so much “Where is it somewhere in the predispose to rapid intimacy as the south ?" case of an averted duel. The revul “ Mostly Devon. There's somesion from animosity is almost certain to thing in Wales, too, if I remember lead to, if not actual friendship, what aright." may easily become so. In the pre- “Nothing Irish ?” sent instance, the very diversities of “No, thank Heaven -- nothing national character gave a zest and en- Irish"--and his grim lordship made joyment to the meeting; and while the nearest advance to a smile of