A King in Disguise part 5

Unbounded was the joy and congratulation of the courtiers on thus meeting with him safe and uninjured. The king then turning round to the poor fisherman, informed him that he was the monarch wltom he had so much praised, and whom he had so humanely and hoporably received the foregoing evening, and that he might rely upon him that his singular courtesy and good-will should not go unrewarded.

Now, there were certain hunting-lodges which the king had erected in those parts for the convenience which they afforded in his excursions, and several of his nobles had likewise adorned the surrounding country with various seats and other dwellings, so as to give a pleasing relief to the prospect. With the view of bestowing a handsome remuneration upon the good fisherman, the grateful monarch gave orders that the pools and marshes adjacent to these dwellings should be drained.

Cesar Elcabir or the Great Palace

He then circumscribed the limits of a noble city, co

A King in Disguise part 4

Even I, a poor fisherman, with a wife and little family, am not forgotten, and enjoy my poverty in peace. He permits me to fish for eels wherever I please, and take them afterwards to the best market I can find, in order to provide for my little ones. At any hour, night or day, I go out or I come in just as I like, to or fro, in my humble dwelling; and there is not a single person in all these neighboring woods and valleys who has ever dared to do me wrong. To whom am I indebted for all this, but to him for whom I daily offer up my prayers to God and our holy prophet to watch over his preservation? But why do I talk, when I see you, Sir Knight, before me, dripping from the pelting of this pitiless storm ? Deign to come within, and receive what shelter my poor cabin will afford; to-morrow I will conduct you to the king, or wherever else you please.”

Mansor now freely availed himself of the invitation, and dismounting from his horse, sought refuge from the still raging sto

A King in Disguise part 3

As he thus stood, listening to the distant thunder and the raving of the storm, he stretched his view in vain to discover some signs of human existence; until, on proceeding a few more steps, a light suddenly appeared at only a short distance from him. It was from the window of a poor fisherman`s hut, who earned his livelihood by catching eels in the adjacent pools and marshes.

On hearing the voice of the king, who rushed forward with a shout of joy on beholding a human habitation, the fisherman hastened to the assistance of the bewildered traveler, whom he believed to have lost his way in the storm. Inquiring who called, King Mansor approached near, and entreated him, if he possessed the least charity, to direct him the shortest path to the residence of the monarch. “The king`s court,” replied the poor man, “is distant from this place above ten long miles.”

King Mansor himself

“Yet I will make it worth your trouble, friend, to guide

A King in Disguise part 2

Residing there during several years, I acquired an excellent knowledge of the language, manners, and peculiar practices of the people, when I was at length prevailed upon to join a party of Oranese merchants, to whom I had been recommended, through Cattanio`s influence, by their king. They were men of approved worth and of the kindest manners, and with them I prepared to make a commercial tour through the country, visiting various regions of Africa, in which we discovered many great and populous cities.’In several of these countries we met with seminaries of instruction, with their regular professors of different sciences, paid and appointed by the people.

There are, moreover, different hospitals instituted for the relief of the impoverished and distressed, who are there supplied with a regular subsistence, it being a principle of their religion to bestow alms, as pleasing in the sight of God. And I solemnly aver that I have met with more instances of true charity

A King in Disguise part 1

Matteo Bandello (1480 – 1560)

Bandello, a Lombard noble by birth, is, next to Boccaccio, the most celebrated of the Italian story-tellers, and he, like his predecessor, furnished Shakespeare with plots and ideas. He resided both in Milan and Mantua, as a member of an ecclesiastical order and later was made a Bishop by Henry II of France, in which country he spent the latter part of his life.

His adventurous life is, in Symonds` words, an exciting novela in itself. The Novelle, a collection of stories placed in a fictious framework, is characterized by what appears to the Anglo- Saxon a certain exaggerated violence. Many of his stories are discreditable anecdotes about the church, and were used with considerable effect as weapons by the leaders of the Reformation.

A King in Disguise is characteristic of Bandello`s art, if not of his violence. The story has been traced to Oriental sources, and has, since Bandello wrote it, been used by severa

Mateo Falcone part 11

Giuseppa embraced her son, and bursting into tears entered the house. She threw herself on her knees before an image of the Virgin and prayed ardently. In the meanwhile Falcone walked some two hundred paces along the path and only stopped when he reached a little ravine which he descended. He tried the earth with the butt- end of his carbine, and found if soft and easy to dig. The place seemed to be convenient for his design.

“Fortunato, go close to that big rock there.”

The child did as he was commanded, then he kneeled.

“Say your prayers.”

“Oh, father, father, do not kill me!”

“Say your prayers!” repeated Mateo in a terrible voice.

Pater and the Credo

The boy, stammering and sobbing, recited the Pater and the Credo. At the end of each prayer the father loudly answered, “Amen!”

“Are those all the prayers you know?”

“Oh! father, I know the Ave Maria and the litany t

Mateo Falcone part 10

Fortunato had gone into the house when his father arrived, but now he reappeared with a bowl of milk which he handed with downcast eyes to Gianetto.

“Get away from me!” cried the outlaw, in a loud voice. Then, turn¬ing to one of the soldiers, he said:

“Comrade, give me a drink.”

The soldier placed his gourd in his hands, and the prisoner drank the water handed to him by a man with whom he had just exchanged bullets. He then asked them to tie his hands across his breast instead of behind his back.

“I like,” said he, “to lie at my ease.”

They hastened to satisfy him; then the Adjutant gave the signal to start, said adieu to Mateo, who did not respond, and descended with rapid steps towards the plain.

Nearly ten minutes elapsed before Mateo spoke. The child looked with restless eyes, now at his mother, now at his father, who was leaning on his gun and gazing at him with an expression of concentrated rage.

Mateo Falcone part 9

In this perplexity he took a bold step. It was to advance alone towards Mateo and tell him of the affair while accosting him as an old acquaintance, but the short space that separated him from Mateo seemed terribly long.

“Hello! old comrade,” cried he. “How do you do, my good fellow? It is I, Gamba, your cousin.”

Without answering a word, Mateo stopped, and in proportion as the other spoke, slowly raised the muzzle of his gun so that it was pointing upward when the Adjutant joined him.

“Good-day, brother,” said the Adjutant, holding out his hand. “It is a long time since I have seen you.”

“Good-day, brother.”

“I stopped while passing, to say good-day to you and to cousin Pepa here. We have had a long journey to-day, but have no reason to com¬plain, for we have captured a famous prize. We have just seized Gianetto Saupiero.”

“God be praised!” cried Giuseppa. “He stole a milch goat from us last

Mateo Falcone part 8

“Good,” said the prisoner. “You will also put a little straw on your litter that I may be more comfortable.”

While some of the soldiers were occupied in making a kind of stretcher out of some chestnut boughs and the rest were dressing Gianetto`s wound, Mateo Falcone and his wife suddenly appeared at a turn in the path that led to the maquis.

The woman was staggering under the weight of an enormous sack of chestnuts, while her husband was sauntering along, carrying one gun in his hands, while another was slung across his shoulders, for it is unworthy of a man to carry other burdens than his arms.

At the sight of the soldiers Mateo`s first thought was that they had come to arrest him. But why this thought? Had he then some quarrels with justice? No.

Few Corsican highlanders

He enjoyed a good reputation. He was said to have a particularly good name, but he was a Corsican and a highlander, and there are few Corsican high

Mateo Falcone part 7

“May I lose my epaulettes,” cried the Adjutant, “if I do not give you the watch on this condition. These comrades are witnesses; I can¬not deny it.”

While speaking he gradually held the watch nearer till it almost touched the child`s pale face, which plainly showed the struggle that was going on in his soul between covetousness and respect for hospital¬ity. His breast swelled with emotion; he seemed about to suffocate. Meanwhile the watch was slowly swaying and turning, sometimes brushing against his cheek.

Finally, his right hand was gradually stretched toward it; the ends of his fingers touched it; then its whole weight was in his hand, the Adjutant still keeping hold of the chain. The face was light blue; the cases newly burnished. In the sunlight it seemed to be all on fire. The temptation was too great. Fortunato raised his left hand and pointed over his shoulder with his thumb at the hay against which he was reclining.

The Adjutant u

Mateo Falcone part 6

“My little cousin,” said he, “you are a very wide-awake little fellow. You will get along. But you are playing a naughty game with me; and if I wasn`t afraid of making trouble for my cousin, Mateo, the devil take me, but I would carry you off with me.”

“Bah!”

“But when my cousin comes back I shall tell him about this, and he will whip you till the blood comes for having told such lies.”

“You don`t say so!”

“You will see. But hold on!—be a good boy and I will give you something.”

“Cousin, let me give you some advice: if you wait much longer Gianetto will be in the maquis and it will take a smarter man than you to follow him.”

The Adjutant took from his pocket a silver watch worth about ten crowns, and noticing that Fortunato`s eyes sparkled at the sight of it, said, holding the watch by the end of its steel chain:

Look at my watch

“Rascal! you would like to have su

Mateo Falcone part 5

“Then you believe, cousin, that your guns make so much noise? My father`s carbine has the advantage of them.”

“The devil take you, you cursed little scapegrace! I am certain that you have seen Gianetto. Perhaps, even, you have hidden him. Come, comrades, go into the house and see if our man is there. He could only go on one foot, and the knave has too much good sense to try to reach the maquis limping like that.

Moreover, the bloody tracks stop here.” “And what will papa say?” asked Fortunato with a sneer. “What will he say if he knows that his house has been entered while he was away?”

“You rascal,” said the Adjutant, taking him by the ear, “do you know that it only remains for me to make you change your tone? Perhaps you will speak differently after I have given you twenty blows with the flat of my sword.”

Fortunato continued to sneer.

“My father is Mateo Falcone,” said he with emphasis.

Mateo Falcone part 4

The child appeared moved.

“What will you give me if I hide you?” said he, coming nearer.

The outlaw felt in a leather pocket that hung from his belt, and took out a five-franc piece, which he had doubtless saved to buy ammuni¬tion with.

Fortunato smiled at the sight of the silver piece; he snatched it, and said to Gianetto:

“Fear nothing.”

Immediately he made a great hole in a pile of hay that was near the house. Gianetto crouched down in it and the child covered him in such a way that he could breathe without it being possible to suspect that the hay concealed a man.

He bethought himself further, and, with the subtlety of a tolerably ingenious savage, placed a cat and her kittens on the pile, that it might not appear to have been recently disturbed. Then, noticing the traces of blood on the path near the house, he covered them carefully with dust, and, that done, he again stretched himself out in the sun with th

Mateo Falcone part 3

On a certain day in autumn, Mateo set out at an early hour with his wife to visit one of his flocks in a clearing of the maquis. The little Fortunato wanted to go with them, but the clearing was too far away; moreover, it was necessary someone should stay to watch the house; therefore the father refused: it will be seen whether or not he had reason to repent.

He had been gone some hours, and the little Fortunato was tran¬quilly stretched out in the sun, looking at the blue mountains, and thinking that the next Sunday he was going to dine in the city with his uncle, the Caporal, when he was suddenly interrupted in his medita¬tions by the firing of a musket.

He got up and turned to that side of the plain whence the noise came. Other shots followed, fired at ir¬regular intervals, and each time nearer; at last, in the path which led from the plain to Mateo`s house, appeared a man wearing the pointed hat of the mountaineers, bearded, covered with rags, and dragg

Mateo Falcone part 2

When I was in Corsica in 18—, Mateo Falcone had his house half a league from this maquis. He was rich enough for that country, living in noble style—that is to say, doing nothing—on the income from his flocks, which the shepherds, who are a kind of nomads, lead to pasture here and there on the mountains. When I saw him, two years after the event that I am about to relate, he appeared to me to be about fifty years old or more. Picture to yourself a man, small but robust, with curly hair, black as jet, an aquiline nose, thin lips, large, restless eyes, and a complexion the color of tanned leather.

His skill as a marksman was considered extraordinary even in his country, where good shots are so common. For example, Mateo would never fire at a sheep with buckshot; but at a hundred and twenty paces, he would drop it with a ball in the head or shoulder, as he chose. He used his arms as easily at night as during the day. I was told this feat of his skill, which will, perhap

Mateo Falcone part 1

Prosper Merimee (1803—1870)

Born in Paris in 1803, Merimee spent the greater part of his life in the government service and in travelling. In later years he became a senator. His chief works are his stories and the novel Carmen. Me- rim^e was one of the earliest authors who were content to write for the purpose of giving aesthetic pleasure, and is considered, with Gautier, one of the chief exponents of the Art for Art`s Sake theory. His stories are written with great deliberation and care. Mateo Falcone is a masterpiece of its kind.

The present version, anonymously translated, is reprinted by per¬mission from International Short Stories, P. F. Collier`s Sons, New York. Copyright, 1910.

Mateo Falcone

On leaving Porto-Vecchio from the northwest and directing his steps towards the interior of the island, the traveler will notice that the land rises rapidly, and after three hours` walking over tortuous paths obstructed by great masses

A Terribly Strange Bed part 15

Thesmothering canopy was then lowered, but not so noiselessly as I had seen itlowered. When I mentioned this to the Sub-prefect, his answer, simple as itwas, had a terrible significance, “My men,” said he, “are working down thebed-top for the first time —- the men whose money you won were in betterpractise.”

Weleft the house in the sole possession of two police agents—every one of theinmates being removed to prison on the spot. The Sub-prefect, after taking downmy “proces verbal” in his office, returned with me to my hotel to get mypassport. “Do you think,” I asked, as I gave it to him, “that any men havereally been smothered in that bed, as they tried to smother me?”

“Ihave seen dozens of drowned men laid out at the Morgue,” answered theSub-prefect, “in whose pocketbooks were found letters stating that they hadcommitted suicide in the Seine, because they had lost everything at thegaming-table. Do I know how many of tho

A Terribly Strange Bed part 13

Tosome men the means of escape which I had discovered might have seemed difficultand dangerous enough—to me the prospect of slipping down the pipe into thestreet did not suggest even a thought of peril. I had always been accustomed,by the practise of gymnastics, to keep up my school-boy powers as a daring andexpert climber; and knew that my head, hands, and feet would serve mefaithfully in any hazards of ascent or descent.

Ihad already got one leg over the window-sill, when I remembered thehandkerchief filled with money under my pillow. I could well have afforded toleave it behind me, but I was revengefully determined that the miscreants ofthe gambling- house should miss their plunder as well as their victim. So Iwent back to the bed and tied the heavy handkerchief at my back by my cravat.

Justas I had made it tight and fixed it in a comfortable place, I thought I heard asound of breathing outside the door. The chill feeling of horror ran through

A Terribly Strange Bed part 12

Butere long all thought was again suspended by the sight of the mur-derous canopymoving once more. After it had remained on the bed— as nearly as I could guess—aboutten minutes, it began to move up again. The villains who worked it from aboveevidently believed that their purpose was now accomplished. Slowly andsilently, as it had descended, that horrible bed-top rose toward it formerplace. When it reached the upper extremities of the four posts, it reached theceiling too. Neither hole nor screw could be seen; the bed became in appearancean ordinary bed again—the canopy an ordinary canopy—even to the most suspiciouseyes.

Now,for the first time, I was able to move—to rise from my knees— to dress myselfin my upper clothing—and to consider of how I should escape. If I betrayed bythe smallest noise that the attempt to suffocate me had failed, I was certainto be murdered. Had I made any noise already? I listened intently, lookingtoward the door.

A Terribly Strange Bed part 11

Withoutstopping to draw my breath, without wiping the cold sweat from my face, I roseinstantly on my knees to watch the bed-top. I was literally spellbound by it.If I had heard footsteps behind me, I could not have turned round; if a meansof escape had been miraculously provided for me, I could not have moved to takeadvantage of it. The whole life in me was, at that moment, concentrated in myeyes.

Itdescended—the whole canopy, with the fringe round it, came down—down—closedown; so close that there was not room now to squeeze my finger between thebed-top and the bed. I felt at the sides, and discovered that what had appearedto me from beneath to be the ordinary light canopy of a four-post bed was inreality a thick, broad mattress, the substance of which was concealed by thevalance and its fringe.

Ilooked up and saw the four posts rising hideously bare. In the middle of thebed-top was a huge wooden screw that had evidently worked it down throug

A Terribly Strange Bed part 10

Lookingfor what?

GoodGod! the man had pulled his hat down on his brows! No! the hat itself was gone!Where was the conical crown? Where the feathers —three white, two green? Notthere! In place of the hat and feathers, what dusky object was it that now hidhis forehead, his eyes, his shading hand?

Wasthe bed moving?

Iturned on my back and looked up. Was I mad? drunk? dreaming? giddy again? orwas the top of the bed really moving down—sinking slowly, regularly, silently,horribly, right down throughout the whole of its length and breadth—right downupon me, as I lay underneath?

Paralyzing coldness

Myblood seemed to stand still. A deadly, paralyzing coldness stole all over me asI turned my head round on the pillow and determined to test whether the bed-topwas really moving or not, by keeping my eye on the man in the picture.

Thenext look in that direction was enough. The dull, black, frowsy o

A Terribly Strange Bed part 9

Thispicture put a kind of constraint upon me to look upward too— at the top of thebed. It was a gloomy and not an interesting object, and I looked back at thepicture. I counted the feathers in the man`s hat— they stood out inrelief—three white, two green. I observed the crown of his hat, which was of aconical shape, according to the fashion supposed to have been favored by GuidoFawkes. I wondered what he was looking up at. It couldn`t be at the stars; sucha desperado was neither astrologer nor astronomer. It must be at the highgallows, and he was going to be hanged presently. Would the executioner comeinto possession of his conical crowned hat and plume of feathers? I counted thefeathers again—three white, two green.

WhileI still lingered over this very improving and intellectual employment, mythoughts insensibly began to wander. The moonlight shining into the roomreminded me of a certain moonlight night in Eng-land—the night after a picnicparty

A Terribly Strange Bed part 8

Iraised myself on my elbow, and looked about the room—which was brightened by alovely moonlight pouring straight through the window—to see if it contained anypictures or ornaments that I could at all clearly distinguish. While my eyeswandered from wall to wall, a remembrance of Le Maistre`s delightful littlebook, “Voyage autour de ma Chambre,” occurred to me. I resolved to imitate theFrench author, and find occupation and amusement enough to relieve the tediumof my wakefulness, by making a mental inventory of every article of furniture Icould see, and by following up to their sources the multitude of associationswhich even a chair, a table, or a wash-hand stand may be made to call forth.

Thinking at all

Inthe nervous, unsettled state of my mind at that moment, I found it much easierto make my inventory than to make my reflections, and thereupon soon gave upall hope of thinking in Le Maistre`s fanciful track—or, indeed