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1^ tD/AliHD-SOSSe ^^^1 


fANTASY 




^^^E' 





/^ BEI 



BERKELEY 



I LIBR. 

1 UNIVERS 
\ CALIFC 



UNIVERSITY OF 
CALIFORNIA 



\ 



FANTASY 



Ijeinemann's international Xibrarg. 

Edited by EDMUND Q088E. 

4. 

Crown Bva, in paper covers, zs. 6d., or cloth limp, 3^. 6J. 

IN GOD'S WA Y, 

By BJORNSTJERNE BJORNSON. 
Translated from the Norwesian by Elizabeth Carinichael. 

PIERRE AND JEAN. 

By GUY DE MA UP ASS A NT. 
Translated from the French by Clara Bell. 



THE CHIEF JUSTICE, 

By KARL EMIL FRANZOS. 
Translated from the German by Miles Corbet. 



WORK WHILE YE HAVE THE 
LIGHT. 

By COUNT LYOF TOLSTOI. 
Translated from the Russian by E. J. Dillon, Ph.D. 

FANTASY, 

By MA TILDE SERA O. 

Translated from the Italian by Henry Harland and 

Paul Sylvester, 

FROTH, 

By ARMANDO PALACIO VALDES. 

Translated from the Spanish by Clara Bell. 

Other Volumes will be announced later. 

Each Volume ivill contain a Specially Written Introduction 

by the Editor. 



London : WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21 Bedford St., W.C. 



Fantasy 



A NOVEL 



BY 



MATILDE jSERAO 



TRANSLATED FROM THE ITALIAN 

BV 

HENRY HARLAN D & PAUL SYLVESTER 



jfourtb 




jEMtlon 



LONDON 

WILLIAM HEINEMANN 

1891 

[A /I righfs resenmiX^ 






INTRODUCTION, 



The most prominent imaginative writer of the latest generation 
in Italy is a woman. What little is known of the private life 
of Matilde Serao adds, as forcibly as what may be divined 
from the tenour and material of her books, to the impression 
that every student of literary history must have formed of 
the difficulties which hem in the intellectual development of 
an ambitious girl. Without unusual neglect, unusual misfor- 
tune, it seems impossible for a woman to arrive at that experi- 
ence which is essential to the production of work which shall 
be able to compete with the work of the best men. It is 
known that the elements of hardship and enforced adventure 
have not been absent from the career of the distinguished 
Italian novelist. Madame Serao has learned in the fierce 
school of privation what she teaches to us with so much 
beauty and passion in her stories. 

Matilde Serao was born on the 17th of March 1856, in the 
little town of Patras, on the western coast of Greece. Her 

215 



Vi INTRODUCTION, 

father was a Neapolitan political exile, her mother a Greek 
princess, the last survivor of an ancient noble family. I know- 
not under what circumstances she came to the Italian home of 
her father, but it was probably in 1861 or soon afterwards that 
the unification of Italy permitted his return. At an early age, 
however, she seems to have been left without resources. She 
received a rough education at the Scuola Normale in Naples, 
and she obtained a small clerkship in the telegraph office at 
Rome. Literature, however, was the profession she designed 
to excel in, and she showed herself a realist at once. Her 
earliest story, if I do not mistake, was that minute picture of 
the vicissitudes of a post-office which is named Telegraphi dello 
Stato f' State Telegraphs "). She worked with extreme energy, 
she taught herself shorthand, and she presently quitted the 
post-office to become a reporter and a journalist. To give 
herself full scope in this new employment, she, as I have been 
assured, cut short her curly crop of hair, and adopted on 
occasion male costume. She soon gained a great proficiency 
in reporting, and advanced to the writing of short sketches and 
stories for the newspapers. The power and originality of these 
attempts were acknowledged, and the name of Matilde Serao 
gradually became one of those which irresistibly attracted 
public attention. The writer of these lines may be permitted 
to record the impression which more than ten years ago was 
made upon him by reading a Neapolitan sketch, signed by that 
then wholly obscure name, in a chance number of the Roman 
Fanfulla. 
The short stories were first collected in a little volume in 



INTRODUCTION. vii 

1879. In 1880 Matilde Serao became suddenly famous by the 
publication of the charming sioxy Fantasia ("Fantasy"), which 
is now first presented to an English public. It was followed by 
a much weaker study of Neapolitan lif .', Cuore Inferrno (" A 
Heart Diseased"). In 1881 she published "The Life and 
Adventures of Riccardo Joanna," to which she added a con- 
tinuation in 1885. It is not possible to enumerate all Madame 
Serao's successive publications, but the powerful romance 
La Conquista di Roma (*' The Conquest of Rome"), 1882, 
must not be omitted. This is a very careful and highly 
finished study of bureaucratic ambition, admirably charac- 
terised. Since then she has written in rapid succession 
several volumes of collected short stories, dealing with the 
oddities of Neapolitan life, and a curious novel, ''The Virtue 
of Cecchina," 1884. Her latest romances, most of them short, 
have been Terno Secco (" A Dry Third "), a very charming 
episode of Italian life, illustrating the frenzied interest taken 
in the public lotteries, 1887; Addio Amore ("Good-bye, 
Love"), 1887; La Granda Fiamma^ 1889; and Sogno di una 
notte d^ estate ("A Summer Night's Dream''), 1890. 

The naturalism of Matilde Serao deserves to be distinguished 
from that of the French contemporaries with whom she is 
commonly classed. She has a finer passion, more of the true 
ardour of the South, than Zola or Maupassant, but her 
temperament is distinctly related to that of Daudet. She ia 
an idealist working in the school of realism j she climbs, on 
scaffolding of minute prosaic observation, to heights which are 
emotional and often lyrical. But her most obvious merit is 



viii INTR0DUC7I0N. 

the acuteness with which she has learned to collect and 
arrange in artistic form the elements of the town life of 
Southern Italy. She still retains in her nature something of 
the newspaper reporter's quicksilver, but it is sublimated by 
the genius of a poet. 

EDMUND GOSSE. 



4:-/- 



FANTASY, 



PART I. 



"The discipline for to-morrow is this . . . . " said the preacher, 
reading from a small card. " You will sacrifice to the Virgin 
Mary all the sentiments of rancour that you cherish in your 
hearts, and you will kiss the schoolfellow, the teacher, or the 
servant whom you think you hate." 

In the twilight of the chapel there was a slight stir among 
the grown-up girls and teachers ; the little ones remained 
quiet; some of them were asleep, others yawned behind tiny 
hands, and their small round faces twitched with weariness. 
The sermon had lasted an hour ; and the poor children had 
not understood a word of it. They were longing for supper 
and bed. The preacher had now descended from the pulpit, 
and Cherubina Friscia, the teacher who acted as sacristan, was 
lighting the candles with a taper. By degrees the chapel 
became flooded with light. The cheeks of the dazed, sleepy 
little girls flushed pink under it; their elders stood immovable, 
with blinking startled eyes, and weary indiflerent faces. Some 
prayed, with bowed heads, while the candle-light played with 
the thick plaits of their hair, coiled close to the neck, and with 
certain blonde ciirls that no comb could restrain. Then, when 
the whole chapel was lighted for the recital of the Rosary, the 
group of girl scholars in white muslin frocks, with black aprons 

A 



2 FANTASY. 

and the various coloured ribbons by which the classes were 
distinguished, assumed a gay aspect, despite the general 
weariness. A deep sigh escaped Lucia Altimare. 

"What ails thee?" queried Caterina Spaccapietra, under 
her breath. 

" I suffer, I suff"er," murmured the other dreamily. " This 
preacher saddens me. He does not understand, he does not 
feel. Our Lady." And the black pupils of her eyes, set in 
bluish white, dilated as in a vision. Caterina did not reply. 
The Directress intoned the Rosary in a solemn voice, with a 
.strong Tuscan accent. She read the Mystery alone. Then 
all the voices in chorus, shrill and low, accompanied her in 
the Gloria Patri^ and in the Pater. 

She repeated the Ave Maria as far as the Frutto del iuo 
ventre ; the teachers and pupils taking up the words in unison. 
The chapel filled with music, the elder pupils singing with a 
fulness of voice that sounded like the outpouring of their 
souls : but the little ones made a game of it. While the 
Directress, standing alone, repeated the verses, they counted 
the time, so that they might all break in at the end with a 
burst, and nudging each other, tittered under their breath. 
Some of them would lean over the backs of the chairs, assuming 
a devout collectedness, but in reality pulling out the hair of 
the playfellows in front of them. Some played with their 
rosaries under their pinafores, with an audible click of the 
beads. The vigilant eye of the Directress watched over the 
apparently exemplary elder girls; she saw that Carolina 
Pentasuglia wore a carnation at the button-hole of her bodice, 
though no carnations grew in the College gardens \ that a little 
square of paper was perceptible in the bosom of Ginevra 
Avigliana, beneath the muslin of her gown ; that Artemisia 
Minichini, with the short hair and firm chin, had as iisual 
crossed one leg over the other, in contempt of religion; she 
saw and noted it all. Lucia Altimare sat leaning forward, with 
wide open eyes fixed upon a candle, her mouth drawn slightly 
on one side ; from time to time a nervous shock thrilled her. 



FANTASY. 3 

Close to her, Caterina Spaccapietra said her prayers in all 
tranquillity, her eyes void of sight, as was her face of motion 
and expression. The Directress said the words of the Ave 
Maria without thinking of their meaning, absent, preoccupied, 
getting through her prayers as rapidly as possible. 

The restlessness of the little ones increased. They twisted 
about, and lightly raised themselves on their chairs, whispering 
to each other, and fidgeting with their rosaries. Virginia 
Friozzi had a live cricket in her pocket, with a fine silken 
thread tied round its claw ; at first she had covered it with 
her hand to prevent its moving, then she had allowed it to 
peep out of the opening of her pocket, then she had taken it 
out and hidden it under her apron ; at last she could not 
resist showing it to the neighbours on her right and on her 
left. The news spread, the children became agitated, restrain- 
ing their laughter with difficulty, and no longer giving the 
responses in time. Suddenly the cricket dragged at the thread, 
and hopped off", limping, into the midst of the passage which 
divided the two rows of chairs. There was a burst of laughter. 

" Friozzi will not appear in the parlour to-morrow," said the 
Directress severely. 

The child turned pale at the harshness of a punishment 
which would prevent her from seeing her mother. 

Cherubina Friscia, the sacristan-teacher, of cadaverous 
complexion, and worn anaemic face, descended the altar steps, 
and confiscated the cricket. There was a moment of silence, 
and then they heard the gasping voice of Lucia Altimare 
murmuring, " Mary .... Mary .... divine Mary ! " 

" Pray silently, Altimare," gently suggested the Directress. 

The Rosary began again, this time without interruption. AL 
knelt down, with a great noise of moving chairs, and the Latin 
words were recited, almost chanted, in chorus. Caterina 
Spaccapietra rested her head against the back of the chair in 
front of her. Lucia Altimare had thrown herself down, 
shuddering, with her head on the straw seat, and arras hanging 
slack at her side. 



X 



4 FANTASY. 

"The blood will go to your head, Lucia," whispered her 
friend. 

*' Leave me alone," said Lucia. 

The pupils rose from their knees. One of them, accom- 
panied by a teacher, had mounted the steps leading to the 
little organ. The teacher played a simple devotional prelude 
for the Litany to the Virgin. A pure fresh voice, of brilliant 
quality, rang out, and permeated the chapel, waking its sleep- 
ing echoes ; a young yearning voice, crying with the ardour of 
an invocation, '' Sancta Maria . . . ./" And from below, 
all the pupils responded in the minor key, " Ora pro nobis I " 
The singer stood in the light on the platform of the organ, 
her face turned towards the altar. She was Giovanna 
Casacalenda, a tall girl whose white raiment did not conceal 
her fine proportions ; a girl with a massive head, upon which 
her dark hair was piled heavily, and with eyes so black that 
they appeared as if painted. She stood there alone, isolated, 
infusing all the passion of her youth into her full mellow voice, 
delighting in the pleasure of singing as if she had freed herself, 
and lived in her song. The pupils turned to look at her, with 
the joy in music which is inherent in childhood. When the 
voice of Giovanna came down to them, the chorus rising from 
below answered, ^^ Ora pro nobis l^^ She felt her triumph. 
With head erect, her wondrous black eyes swimming in a 
humid light, her right hand resting lightly on the wooden 
balustrade, her white throat throbbing as if for love, she 
intoned the medium notes, ran up to the highest ones, and came 
down gently to the lower, giving full expression to her song : 
'"' Regina angelorum ..../" One moment of silence, in 
which to enjoy the last notes ; then from below, in enthusiastic 
answer, came childish and youthful voices : " Ora pro nobis /" 
The singer looked fixedly at the altar, but she seemed to see 
or hear something beyond it a vision, or music inaudible to 
the others. Every now and then a breath passed through her 
song, lending it warmth, making it passionate ; every now and 
then the voice thinned itself to a golden thread, that sounded 



FANTASY. 5 

like the sweet trill of a bird, while occasionally it sank to a 
murmur, with a delicious hesitation. 

*' Giovanna sees heaven," said Ginevra Avigliana to Arte- 
misia Minichini. 

" Or the stage," rejoined the other, sceptically. 

Still, when Giovanna came to the poetic images by which 
the Virgin is designated Gate of Heaven, Vase of Election, 
Tower of David the girls' faces flushed in the ecstasy of that 
wondrous music : only Caterina Spaccapietra, who was ab- 
sorbed, did not join in, and Lucia Altimare, who wept silently. 
The tears coursed down her thin cheeks. They rained upon 
her bosom and her hands 3 they melted away on her apron; 
and she did not dry them. Caterina quietly passed her hand- 
kerchief to her. But she took no notice of it. The preacher, 
Father Capece, went up the altar steps for the benediction. 
The Litany ended with the Agnus Dei. The voice of the 
singer seemed overpowered by sheer fatigue. Once more all 
the pupils knelt, and the priest prayed. Giovanna, kneeling at 
the organ, breathed heavily. After five minutes of silent 
prayer, the organ pealed out again slowly over the bowed 
heads, and a thrilling resonant voice seemed to rise from mid- 
air towards heaven, lending its splendour to the Sacrament in 
the Tantum Ergo. Giovanna was no longer tired ; indeed her 
song grew in power, triumphant and full of life, with an ebb 
and flow that were almost voluptuous. The throb of its 
passion passed over the youthful heads below, and a mystic J\ 
sensation caused their hearts to flutter. In the intensity of 
their prayer, in the approach of the benediction, they realised 
the solemnity of the moment. It dominated and terrified 
them, until it was followed by a painful and exquisite prostra- 
tion. Then all was silent. A bell rang three peals ; for an 
instant Artemisia Minichini dared to raise her eyes ; she alone ; 
looking at the inert forms upon the chairs, looking boldly at 
the altar ; after which, overcome by childish fear, she dropped 
them again. 

The holy Sacrament, in its sphere of burnished gold, raised 



6 FANTASY. 

high in the priest's hands, shed its blessing on those assembled 
in the church. 

" I am dying," gasped Lucia Altimare. 

At the door of the chapel, in the long gas-lighted corridor, the 
teachers were waiting to muster the classes, and lead them to 
the refectory. The faces were still agitated, but the little ones 
hopped and skipped about, and prattled together, and pinched 
each other, in all the joyous exuberance of childhood released 
from durance vile. As their limbs unstiffened, they jostled 
each other, laughing the while. The teachers, running after 
some of them, scolding others, half threatening, half coaxing, 
tried to range them in a file of two and two. They began 
with the little ones, then came the elder children, and after 
them the grown-up girls. The corridor rang with voices, 
calling : 

" The Blues, where are the Blues?" " Here they are, all of 
them." " Friozzi is missing." " Where is Friozzi of the 
Blues ?" " Here !" " In line, and to the left, if you please." 
" The Greens, in line the Greens, or no fruit for dinner to- 
morrow." " Quick, the refectory bell has rung twice already." 
"Federici of the Reds, walk straight!" "Young ladies of 
the White-and-Greens, the bell is ringing for the third time." 
<-Are the Tricolors all here?" "All." " Casacalenda is 
missing." "She is coming; she is still at the organ." "Alti- 
mare is missing." " Where is Altimare?" 

" She was here just now, she must have disappeared in the 
bustle ; shall I look for her '\ " 

" Look ; and come to the refectory with her." 

Then the corridor emptied, and the refectory filled with light 
and merriment. With measured, almost rhythmic step, Caterina 
went to and fro in the deserted passages, seeking her friend 
Altimare. She descended to the ground-floor, called her 
twice from the garden ; no answer. Then she mounted the 
stairs again, and entered the dormitory. The white beds 
formed a line under the crude gaslight ; Lucia was not there. 



FANTASY. f 

A shade of anxiety began to dawn on Caterina's rosy face. 
She passed by the chapel twice, without going in. But the 
third time, finding the door ajar, she made up her m.ind to 
enter. It was dark inside. A lamp burning before the 
Madonna, scarcely relieved the gloom. She passed on, half 
intimidated, despite her well-balanced nerves, for she was 
alone in the darkness, in church. 

Along one of the altar steps, stretched out on the crimsoik 
velvet carpet, a white form was lying, with open arms and \/ 
pallid face, a spectral figure. It was Lucia Altimare, who had 
fainted. 

II. 

The fan of Artemisia Minichini, made of a large sheet of 
manuscript, waved noisily to and fro. 

"Minichini, you disturb the Professor," said Friscia, the 
assistant teacher, without raising her eyes from her crochet 
work. 

"Friscia, you don't feel the heat?" returned Minichini, 
insolently. " _) 

" No." 

" You are lucky to be so insensible." 

In the class room, where the Tricolor young ladles were 
taking their lesson in Italian history, it was very hot. There 
were two windows opening upon the garden, a door leading 
to the corridor, three rows of benches, and twenty-four pupils. 
On a high raised step stood the table and armchair of the 
Professor. The fans. waved hither and thither, some viva- 
ciously, some languidly. Here and there a head bent over its 
book as if weighted with drowsiness. Ginevra Avigliana 
stared at the Professor, nodding as if in approval, though her 
face expressed entire absence of mind. Minichini had put 
down her fan, opened her pince-nez^ and fixed it impudently 
upon the Professor's face. With her nose tip-tilted, and a 
truant lock of hair curling on her forehead, she laughed her 
silent laugh that so irritated the teachers. The Professor 



8 FANTASY. 

explained the lesson in a low voice. He was small, spare, and 
pitiable. He might have been about two-and-thirty, but his 
emaciated face, whose dark colouring had yellowed with the 
pallor of some long illness, proclaimed him a convalescent. 
A big scholarly head surmounting the body of a dwarf, a wild 
thick mane in which some white hairs were already visible, 
proud yet shy eyes, a small dirty black beard, thinly planted 
towards the thin cheeks, completed his sad and pensive 
ugliness. 

He spoke without gesture, his eyes downcast ; occasionally 
his right hand moved never so slightly. Its shadow on the 
wall seemed to belong to a skeleton, it was so thin and 
crooked. He proceeded slowly, picking his words. These 
girls intimidated him, some because of their intelligence, others 
because of their impertinence, others simply because of their 
sex. His scholastic austerity was perturbed by their shining 
' eyes, by their graceful and youthful forms ; their white gar- 
ments formed a kind of mirage before his eyes. A pungent 
scent diffused itself throughout the class, although perfumes 
were prohibited ; whence came it ? And, at the end of the 
third bench, Giovanna Casacalenda, who paid not the slightest 
attention, sat, with half closed eyes, furiously nibbling a rose. 
Here in front, Lucia Altimare, with hair falling loose about 
her neck, one arm hanging carelessly over the bench, resting 
her brow against her hand and hiding her eyes, looked at the 
Professor through her fingers ; every now and then she pressed 
her handkerchief to her too crimson lips, as if to mitigate their 
feverishness. The Professor felt upon him the gaze that 
filtered through her fingers ; while, without looking at her, he 
could see Giovanna Casacalenda tearing the rose to pieces 
with her little teeth. He remained apparently imperturb- 
able, still discoursing of Carmagnola and the conspiracy of 
Fiesco, addressing himself to the tranquil face of Caterina 
Spaccapietra, who pencilled rapid notes in her copy-book. 

*'What are you writing, Pentasuglia ? " asked the teacher 
Friscia, who had been observing the latter for some time. 



FANTASY. 9 

" Nothing/' replied Pentasuglia, reddening. 

" Give me that scrap of paper." 

" What for ? There is nothing on it." 

*' Give me that scrap of paper." 

" It is not a scrap of paper," said Minichini, audaciously, 
taking hold of it as if to hand it to her. " It is one, two, 
three, four, five, twelve useless fragments . . . ." 

To save her schoolfellow, she had torn it to shreds. There 
was silence in the class ; they trembled for Minichini. The 
teacher bent her head, tightened her thin lips, and picked up 
her crochet again as if nothing had happened. The Professor 
appeared to take no notice of the incident, as he looked 
through his papers, but his mind must have been inwardly 
disturbed. A flush of youthful curiosity made him wonder 
what those girls were thinking of what they scribbled in their 
little notes for whom their smiles were meant, as they looked 
at the plaster bust of the King what they thought when they 
drew the tricolor scarves round their waists. But the ghastly 
face and false grey eyes of Cherubina Friscia, the governess, 
frightened him. 

'' Avigliana, say the lesson." 

The girl rose and began rapidly to speak of the Viscontis, 
like a well-trained parrot. When asked to give a few histo- 
rical comments, she made no reply j she had not understood 
her own words. 

*' Minichini, say the lesson." 

" Professor, I don't know it." 

"And why?" 

" Yesterday was Sunday, and we went out, so I could not 
study." 

The Professor made a note in the register ; the young lady 
shrugged her shoulders. 

"Casacalenda?" 

This one made no answer. She was gazing with intense 
earnestness at her white hands^ hands that looked as if they 
were modelled in v/ax. 



16 FANTASY, 

" 6<&'acalenda, will you say the lesson ? " 

Opening her great eyes as if she were dazed, she began, 
stumbling at every word, puzzled, making one mistake upon 
another : the Professor prompted, and she repeated, with the 
winning air of a strong, beautiful, young animal : she neither 
knew nor understood, nor was ashamed, maintaining her 
sculpturesque placidity, moistening her savage Diana-like lips, 
contemplating her pink nails. The Professor bent his head 
in displeasure, not daring to scold that splendid stupid crea- 
ture, whose voice had such enchanting modulations. 

He made two or three other attempts, but the class, owing 
to the preceding holiday, had not studied. This was the 
explanation of the flowers, the perfumes, and the little notes : 
the twelve hours' liberty had upset the girls. Their eyes were 
full of visions, they had seen the world, yesterday. He drew 
himself together, perplexed; a sense of mingled shame and 
respect kept every mouth closed. How he loved that science 
of history ! His critical acumen measured its widest horizons j 
his was a vast ideal, and he suffered in having to offer crumbs 
of it to those pretty, aristocratic, indolent girls, who would 
have none of it. Still young, he had grown old and grey in 
arduous study; and now, behold gay and careless youth, 
choosing rather to live than to know, rose in defiance against 
him. Bitterness welled up to his lips and went out towards 
those creatures, thrilling with life, and contemptuous of his 
ideal : bitterness, in that he could not, like them, be beautiful 
and vigorous, and revel in heedlessness, and be beloved. 
Anguish rushed through his veins, from his heart, and poisoned 
his brain, that he should have to humiliate his knowledge 
before those frivolous, scarcely human girls. But the gathering 
storm was held back ; and nothing of it was perceptible save a 
slight flush on his meagre cheekbones. 

" Since none of you have studied," he said slowly, 
in a low voice, "none of you can have done the com- 
position." 

** Allimare and I have done it," answered Caterina Spacca- 



PANTASV, it 

plettc*. "We did not go home," she added apologetically, to 
avoid offending her friends. 

"Then you read, Spaccapietra ; the subject is, I think, 
Beatrice di Tenda." 

"Yes ; Beatrice di Tenda." 

Spaccapietra stood up and read, in her pure, slow 
voice : 

" Ambition had ever been the ruling passion of the Viscontis 
of Milan, who shrank from naught that could minister to the 
maintenance of their sovereign power. Filippo Maria, son of 
Gian Galeazzo, who had succeeded his brother, Gian Galeazzo, 
differed in no way from his predecessors. For the love of 
gain, this Prince espoused Beatrice di Tenda, the widow of a 
Condottiere, a soldier of fortune, a virtuous and accomplished 
woman of mature age. She brought her husband in dowry the 
dominions of Tortona, No vara, Vercelli and Alessandria ; but 
he tired of her as soon as he had satisfied his thirst for wealth. 
He caused her to be accused of unfaithfulness to her wifely 
duty, with a certain Michele Orombello, a simple squire. 
Whether the accusation was false, or made in good faith, 
whether the witnesses were to be reHed upon or not, Beatrice 
di Tenda was declared guilty, and, with Michele Orombello, 
mounted the scaffold in the year 141 8, which was the forty- 
eighth of her life, she having been born in 1370." 

Caterina had folded up her paper, and the Professor was 
still waiting ; two minutes elapsed. 

" Is there no more ? " 

" No." 

"Really, is that all?" 

"All." 

" It is a very meagre composition, Spaccapietra. It is but 
the bare narrative of the historical fact, as it stands in the 
text-book. Does not the hapless fate of Beatrice inspire you 
with any sympathy ? " 

"I don't know . . . ." murmured the young scholar, pale 
with emotion. 



12 FANTASY. 

"Yet you are a woman .... It so happens that I had 
chosen a theme which suggests the manifestation of a noble 
impulse; say of pity, or contempt for the false accusation. 
But like this, the story turns to mere chronology. The com- 
position is too meagre. You have no imagination, Spacca- 
pietra." 

" Yes, Professor," replied the young girl, submissively, as she 
took her seat again, while tears welled to her eyes. 

" Let us hear Altimare." 

Lucia appeared to start out of a lethargy. She sought for 
some time among her papers, with an ever increasing expres- 
sion of weariness. Then, in a weak inaudible voice, she began 
to read, slowly, dragging the syllables, as if overpowered by an 
invincible lassitude .... 

" Louder, Altimare." 

*' I cannot. Professor." 

And she looked at him with such melancholy eyes that he 
repented of having made the remark. Again, she touched her 
parched lips with her handkerchief and continued : 

" . . . . through the evil lust of power. He was Filippo 
Maria Visconti, of a noble presence, with the eye of a hawk, of 
powerful build, and ever foremost in the saddle. The maidens 
who watched hmi pass, clad in armour under the velvet coat, on 
the breastpiece of which was broidered the wily, fascinating 
serpent, the crest of the Lords of Visconti, sighed as they 
exclaimed : ' How handsome he is ! ' But under this attractive 
exterior, as is ever the case in this melancholy world, where 
appearance is but part of the mise- en- scene of life, he hid a 
depraved soul. Oh ! gentle, loving women, trust not him who 
flutters round you with courteous manner, and words that 
charm, and protestations of exquisite sentiment ; he deceives 
you. All is vanity, all is corruption, all is ashes ! None learnt 
this lesson better than the hapless Beatrice di Tenda, whose 
tale I am about to tell you. This youthful widow was of 
unblemished character and matchless beauty ; fair was her 
hair of spun gold, soft were her eyes of a blue worthy to reflect 



FANTASY. 13 

the firmament ; her skin was as dazzling white as the petals of 
a lily. Her first marriage with Facino Cane could not have 
been a happy one. He, a soldier of fortune, fierce, blood- 
thirsty, trained to the arms, the wine, and the rough speech of 
martial camps, could scarcely have been a man after Beatrice's 
heart. Woe to those marriages, in which one consort neither 
understands nor appreciates the mind of the other. Woe to 
those marriages in which the man ignores the mystic poetry, 
the mysterious sentiments of the feminine heart ! These be the 
unblessed unions, with which alas ! our corrupt and suffering 
modern society teems. Facino Cane died. His widow shed 
bitter tears over him, but her virgin heart beat quicker when 
she first met the valorous yet malefic Filippo Maria Visconti. 
Her face turned as pale as Luna's when she drags her weary 
way along the starred empyrean. And she loved him with all 
the ardour of her stored-up youth, with the chastity of a pious 
soul loving the Creator in the created, blending divine with 
human love. Beatrice, pure and beautiful, wedded Filippo 
Maria for love : Filippo Maria, black soul that he was, wedded 
Beatrice for greed of money. For a short time the august pair 
were happy on their ducal throne. But the hymeneal roses 
were worm-eaten : in the dewy grass lay hidden the perfidious 
serpent, perfidious emblem of the most perfidious Visconti. 
No sooner had he obtained possession of the riches of 
Beatrice, than Filippo Maria wearied of her, as might be 
expected of a man of so hard a heart and of such depraved 
manners. He had, besides, formed an infamous connection 
with a certain Agnese del Maino, one of the most vicious of 
women ; and more than ever he was possessed of the desire to 
rid himself of his wife. There lived at the Court of the 
Visconti, a simple squire named Michele Orombello, a young 
troubadour, a poet, who had dared to raise his eyes to his 
august mistress. But the noble woman did not reciprocate 
his passion, although the faithlessness and treachery of Filippo 
Maria caused her the greatest unhappiness, and almost jus- 
tified reprisals j she was simply courteous to her unfortunate 



14 FANTASY, 

adorer. When Filippo Maria saw how matters stood, he at 
once threw Michele Orombello and his chaste consort into 
prison, accusing them of treason. Torture was applied to 
Beatrice, who bore it bravely and maintained her innocence. 
Michele Orombello, being younger and perchance weaker to 
combat pain, or because he was treacherously advised that he 
might thereby save Beatrice, made a false confession. The 
judges, vile slaves of Filippo Maria, and tremblingly sub- 
missive to his will, condemned that most ill-starred of women 
and her miserable lover to die on the scaffold. The saintly 
woman ascended it with resignation; embracing the crucifix 
whereon the Redeemer agonised and died for our sins. Then, 
perceiving the young squire, who, weeping desperately, went 
with her to death, she cried: *I forgive thee, Michele Orom- 
bello ; ' and he made answer : * I proclaim thee the purest of 
wives!' But it availed not; the Prince's will must needs 
be carried out; the axe struck off the squire's dark head. 
Beatrice cried : * Gesii Maria ; ' and the axe felled the blonde 
head too. A pitiable spectacle and full of horror for those 
assembled! Yet none dared to proclaim the infamy of the 
mighty Filippo Maria Visconti. Thus it ever is in life, virtue 
is oppressed, and vice triumphs. Only before the Eternal 
Judge is justice, only before that God of mercy who has said : 
* I am the resurrection and the life.' " 

A profound silence ensued. The pupils were embarrassed, 
and looked furtively at each other. Caterina gazed at Lucia 
with frightened astonished eyes. Lucia remained standing, 
pale, panting, contemptuous, with twitching lips. The Pro- 
fessor, deep in thought, held his peace. 

^' The composition is very long, Altimare," he said at last. 
*' You have too much imagination." 

Then silence once more and the dry malicious hissing 
voice of Cherubina Friscia, "Give me that composition, 
Altimare." 

All trembled, seized by an unknown terror. 



FANTASY, IS 



III. 



They, the Tricolors, the tallest, the handsomest, the proudest 
girls, had the privilege of sitting together in groups, during the 
hours set aside for needlework, in a corner of the long work- 
room. The other pupils sat on benches, behind frames, in 
rows, separated from each other, in enforced silence. The 
Tricolors, whose deft fingers produced the prettiest and most 
costly work, for the annual exhibition, enjoyed a certain 
freedom. So, in a narrow circle, with their backs turned to 
the others, they chatted in whispers. Whenever the work- 
mistress approached them, they turned the conversation, and 
asking for her advice, would hold up their work for her 
approval. It was their best hour, almost free of surveillance, 
delivered from the tyranny of Cherubina Friscia's boiled fish 
eyes, with liberty to talk of whatever they chose. The work 
dragged on ; but word and thought flew. 

Giovanna Casacalenda who was embroidering an altar- 
cover on finest cambric, a cloudy, diaphanous piece of work, 
a very marvel had a way of rounding her arms, with certain 
graceful and studied movements of the fingers, as they drew 
the thread. Ginevra Avigliana was absorbed in a piece of 
lace made with bobbins, like Venetian point, to be presented 
to the Directress at the end of the term ; every palma (a 
measure of six inches) cost five francs in silk. Carolina Pen- 
tasuglia was working a red velvet cushion in gold. Giulia 
Pezzali was making a portfolio-cover in chenille. But little 
thought they of their work, while the needles clicked and the 
bobbins flew; especially little on that morning, when they 
could talk of nothing but the Altimare scandal. 

" So they have ordered her to appear before the Directress's 
Committee ? " inquired Vitali, who was working with beads on 
perforated cardboard. 

" No, not yet. Do you think they will ? " asked Spacca- 
pietra, timidly. She did not dare to raise her eyes from the 
shirt she was sewing. 



i6 FANTASY, 

" Diamine ! " exclaimed AvigHana. " Didn't you hear what 
ambiguous things there were in the composition ! A girl has 
no right to know anything about them." 

"Altimare is innocent as anew-born babe," replied Spacca- 
pietra, gravely. No one answered, but all looked towards 
Altimare. Separated from the rest, far away from them, she 
sat with bowed head, making lint. It was her latest fancy ; to 
make lint for the hospitals. She had voluntarily withdrawn 
herself, but appeared to be calm. 

"Nonsense, girls, nonsense," observed Minichini, passing 
her hand through her hair with a^ masculine gesture. " Every 
one knows these things, buFno one can speak oFthem." 

" But to write about a wife's deceiving her husband, Mini- 
chini, what do you think of that ? " 

*' Oh, dear, that's how it is in society ; Signora Ferrari 
deceives her husband with my cousin/' added Minichini, " I 
saw them .... behind a door . . . ." 

" How, what, what did you see ? " asked two or three in 
concert, while the others opened their eyes. 

** The viaestra is coming," said Spaccapietra. 

*' As usual, Minichini, you are not working," observed the 
teacher. 

*' You know it hurts my eyes." 

" Are these your glasses } You are not so very short- 
sighted ; I think you might work." 

"And why, what for?" 

" P'or your own house, when you return to it . . . .'* 

" You are perhaps unaware that my mother has three maids," 
said the other, turning on her like a viper. 

The teacher bent over the work of Avigliana, muttering some- 
thing about " pride .... insolence," and then presently with- 
drew. Minichini shrugged her shoulders. After a moment : 

"I say, Minichini, what were the Signora Ferrari and your 
cousin doing behind the door?" 

" Do you really want to know ?" 

" Yes, yes, yes." 



FANTASY. 17 

"Well .... they were kissing." 

*' Ah ! " exclaimed the chorus, alternately blushing and 
turning pale. 

" On the lips, of course?" asked Casacalenda, biting her 
own to make them redder. 

"Yes." 

The girls were silent, absorbed in thought. Minichini 
always unsettled the work-class with her tales : she would tell 
the simplest thing with a certain malicious reticence and 
brusque frankness, that wrought upon their imagination. " I 
shall work myself a wrapper like this altar-cloth, when I leave 
this house," said Cisacalenda, " it is so becoming to the 
skin." 

And she tried it over her hand, a pink and exquiste 
transparency. 

"Z>/(7, when shall I get out cf this house!" exclaimed 
Avigliana. 

" Three more months, eight days, and seven hours," said 
Pentasuglia. 

"Doesn't Altimare wish she were out of it?" murmured 
Vitali. 

" Goodness knows how they will punish her," said Spacca- 
pietra. 

"If I were she, I shouldgivetheDirectressapieceof mymind." 

Then all at once they heard : " Hush-sh." The Vice- 
Directress had entered the room; quite an event. Altimare 
raised her eyes, but only for an instant, and her lids quivered. 
She went on making lint. To avoid a sensation, the Vice- 
Directress bent over two or three frames, and made a it\s 
remarks. At last : 

" Altimare, the Directress wishes to see you." 

Altimare stood up, erect and rigid, and passed straight down 
through two rows of pupils without looking either to right 
or left. The girls kept silence and worked industriously. 

" Holy Mother, do thou help her," said Caterina Spacca- 
pietra under her breath. 



i8 PANTASY, 

" My married sister told me that Zola's books are not fit to 
be read," said Giovanna Casacalenda. 

" That means that they may be read, but that it wouldn't 
do to say before gentlemen that one had read them." 

'' Oh ! what a number of books I have read that no one 
knows anything about," exclaimed Avigliana. 

" I know of a marriage that never came off," said Minichini, 
" because the fia?icee let out that she read the Dame aux 
Camellas." 

^^ La Dame aux Camclias ! how interesting it must be ! Who 
has read it, girls ? " 

** Not I, nor I, nor I," in chorus, accompanied by gentle 
sighs. 

" I have read it," confessed Minichini. 

" The maesira is coming," whispered Vitali, the sentinel. 

" What is the matter, that you don't sew, Spaccapietra ? " 
asked the teacher. 

" Nothing," replied Caterina, casting down her eyes, while 
her hands trembled. 

" Do you feel ill ? Would you like to go out into the air?" 

" No, thank you, I am well ; I prefer to stay here." 

" Are you in trouble about Altimare ? " asked Avigliana. 

" No, no/' murmured the other, shyly. 

' After all, what can they do to her ? " said Casacalenda. 

*' Diamine^ they won't eat her," said Minichini. " If they 
do anything to her, we will avenge her." 

" The Directress is cruel," said Avigliana. 

" And the Vice-Directress is a wretch," added Vitali. 

" And as far as malignity goes, Cherubina Friscia is no 
joke," observed Pentasuglia. 

" Dio mio, may I soon leave this house ! " exclaimed 
Casacalenda. 

All heads bent in acquiesence to this prayer. There was a 
spell of silence. Caterina Spaccapietra, overcome by a great 
lassitude, dragged slowly at her needle. 

*' Minichini, darling, tell us about the Dame aux Camelias" 



FANTASY, 1^ 

entreated Giovanna Casacalenda, her sweet voice thrilling 
with the passion of the unknown. 

" I cannot, my heart." 

" Why not ? is it so dreadful ? Tell it, Minichini. Artemisia, 
sweetest, tell us about that book." The others did not speak, 
but curiosity burned in their eyes ; desire dried the words on. 
their parched lips. Giovanna pleaded for them, her great 
eyes brimming over with entreaty, while a languid smile played 
about her full lips. 

" Well, I'll tell it you. But you will never tell any one, 
Giovanna?" 

" No, dear love." 

'< It is too late to finish the tale to-day . . . . " 

" Never mind, never mind, go on." 

" Well then, work hard, without looking at me ; as if yoii 
were not listening to me. I shall turn towards Giovanna, as 
if I were chatting with her : she must nod approval from time 
to time, and say a word or two. But, for goodness' sake, don't 
show that you are listening to me : 

" Once upon a time, there lived in Paris, a poor little dress- 
maker, whose name was Marguerite Duplessis . . . ." 

" Violetta Valery," interrupted Pezzali ; " I have seen the 
Traviata" 

" Don't interrupt ; in making the opera, they changed the 
name .... She was a radiant beauty at fourteen, delicate, jz;^//^, 
with long blonde chestnut hair, large blue eyes, and an ethereal 
form. She was very poor ; she wore a faded cotton frock, a 
little black shawl, transparent from age, and shabby shoes, 
down at heel. Every day she went to the man who sold fried 
potatoes, and bought herself two sous worth of them. She was 
known as the Blonde of the fried potatoes. But she was born 
for beautiful things, for luxury and elegance : she could not 
bear poverty and misery ; she held out for a time, but not for 
long. One fine day, the pretty dove had a perfumed nest . . . . " 

" What had she done ?" asked Avigliana, bewildered. 

" She had become .... one of those . . . . " 



c^ 



FANTASY. 



'' Here is Altimare," said Spaccapietra, half rising from her 
chair. 

Every one turned round. Lucia advanced slowly, with 
uncertain gait, stumbling here and there against the chairs, 
as if she did not see them. Her hands hung down against her 
dress as if they did not belong to her. Her face was not pale, 
it was livid, with wild eyes. She sat down, but did not take 
up her work. Her companions looked at her aghast. The 
V emaciated figure of the ardent ascetic had always intimidated 
them : now it terrified them. Something very serious must 
have passed between herself and the Directress. Without 
saying a word, Caterina Spaccapietra laid down her work, left 
the charmed circle of the Tricolors, and went and seated her- 
self by Lucia. Altimare took no notice of her, but sat as still 
as one petrified, with an expression of pain on her face. 

" What is the matter, Lucia ? " 

"Nothing." 

" Tell me, Lucia, have they made you suffer much ; do you 
still suffer?" 

Not even a sign that she breathed ; not a line moved in her 
face. 

" Lucia, sai^ I don't know what to say to comfort you, I don't 
know how to say it, 1 don't . . . . " Then she was silent. She 
took one of Lucia's hands in hers ; it was icy cold. The hand lay 
there, inert and lifeless. Caterina caressed it as if to put warmth 
into it j indeed, she was trying to think of something to say, but 
she found nothing. She sat by her side, leaning slightly towards 
her, endeavouring to make Lucia look at her. The Tricolors 
watched from a distance. The whole College was watching. 

" Why do you not cry, Lucia ? " suggested Caterina, timidly. 

Nothing, no impression. Caterina felt her own embarrass- 
ment and confusion increase. ** Tell me, Lucia, tell me what 
ails you? Be comforted; see, I cannot console you; but 
speak, cry, give it vent, it will choke you." 

Nothing. All at once Lucia's hand contracted nervously ; 
she stood up, still petrified, then thrust her hand into her hair 



FANTASY. 21 

and tore it, gave one long, heartrending, horrible cry, and 
rushed Hke a whirlwind down the room. The confusion was 
indescribable. Caterina Spaccapietra was stunned for a 
moment. 

" To the terrace !" cried Minichini, " that's v/here the danger 
is. To the terrace ! " 

Lucia Altimare fled along the hall with bowed head, the 
dark plaits of her hair hanging loose o\er her shoulders, her 
white gown clinging to her limbs. She fled along the room, 
and down the corridor, feeling the hot breath of her pursuers 
close upon her. In the long corridor, she doubled her speed ; 
at the steps leading to the refectory, she cast aside her tricolor 
scarf. 

"Altimare, Altimare, Altimare!" said her panting school- 
fellows. She did not turn ; she bounded up the steps, stumbled, 
instantly rose to her feet again, drew a long breath and gained 
the corridor on the upper story that ran parallel with the 
dormitory. She rushed to the door ; but uttered a cry of rage 
and anguish when she found it closed. 

" Altimare, for pity's sake, Altimare ! " called the voices of 
her pursuers, in a tumult. She ran to another door, pushed it 
open and entered the dormitory. She made a wild gesture of 
salutation to the Christ over her bed. At the further end of 
the long room was a large bay window, which overlooked the 
terrace. Wherever she went, the whole College pressed within 
a dozen yards of her footsteps ; but she did not hear them. 
With one supreme bound she reached the window, opened it, 
and rushed out upon the black asphalt, burning under thev x 
July sun. Blinded by the brilliant outdoor light, mad with /n 
despair, she dashed forward, wishing, almost believing, that 
the stone parapet would give way at her desire. But when 
she got there, and hurriedly made the sign of the cross, two 
iron arms caught her round the waist. 

" Let me go, Caterina, let me throw myself down." 

'' No." 

" Loose me, I will die I" 



22 FANTASY. 

" No." 

And for an instant there was a struggle on the broad, deserted 
terrace, close to the outer wall, beyond which was the precipice. 
Caterina held her close, panting, yet never loosening her hold. 
Lucia struggled with serpentine flexibility ; striking, scratching, 
and biting. Then she gave a scream, and fell down insensible 
on the asphalt. When the others arrived, when the whole 
College assembled on that wide terrace, Caterina was fanning 
Lucia's face with her handkerchief, and sucking away the blood 
from the scratches on her own hands. 

*'But for thee, she would have died," said Minichini, kissing 
her. " How did you manage ? " 

*'I came up by the chapel stair," said Caterina, simply. 
*' Directress, I beg your pardon, but would you mind sending 
for some vinegar ? " 

IV. 

The little ones were doing their gymnastics in the garden, 
laughing and screaming. Attenuated by the distance, their 
voices floated up to the terrace, where the big girls were taking 
their recreation. In the serene violet sunset, the young ladies 
-walked slowly to and fro, in groups of twos, and threes, and 
fours ; white figures, on which the black aprons stood out clearly 
defined, as they lingered near the terrace wall. Three or four 
teachers moved about with crochet or tatting in their hands. 
Their eyes bent on their work, and their faces expressionless, 
none the less they heard and took heed of everything. That 
hour of recess was the most longed for and yet the most 
melancholy of the whole day. The fresh, calm air the vast 
horizon opening out before and around the line of houses that 
appeared to flow like a stream into the sea, from Capo-di- 
monte, where the College stood the atmosphere of liberty 
all lent a saddening influence to temperaments that were either 
oppressed by exuberance or impoverished by anaemia. The 
mystic melancholy, the yearning tenderness, the efl"usion of 



FANTASY. 23 

anguish, the vague aspirations, all those impulses of tears and 
sighs, which the dawn of womanhood brings in its train, 
breathed in that hour. 

The fair collegians mounted the terrace steps, longing for 
the open air, and uttering little cries of joy at their deliverance. 
Merry words ran from one to the other, and rippling laughter. 
They chased each other as if they were but ten years old, 
those great girls of fifteen and eighteen ; they all but played 
at hide-and-seek. Here they could forget the unedifying 
subjects upon which their precocious minds were prone to 
dwell. They did not even think of murmuring against the 
Directress or the teachers, an eternal theme on which to 
embroider the most malicious variations. Up here they once 
more became frank, light-hearted children. One day, Artemisia 
Minichini had in a fit of gaiety forced Cherubina Friscia to 
waltz round the terikce with her j and it had seemed to every 
one, natural and amusing. 

But after the first quarter of an hour, the excitement abated, 
until it gradually died out. The laughter was silenced ; the 
voices lowered, as if in fear ; the race abandoned for a slow 
solemn walk ; separate groups of twos and threes formed where 
there had been a compact crowd. And the words came 
languidly and far between to their lips. All the suppressed 
sadness of the full young life with which their pulses throbbed, 
made their heads hang listlessly in that summer sunset. Lucia 
Altimare, drawn to her full height, stood gazing across at 
Naples, as if she did not see it. Her slight figure stood out 
clearly against the paling sky, and in that light the fine lines 
of her profile acquired the purity and refinement of an antique 
statue. Indeed, that dark hair coiled up high, looked not 
unlike a classic helmet. Next to her stood Caterina Spacca- 
pietra, her clear grey eyes bent upon Naples. She seemed 
absent and dreamy ; but the moment Lucia looked down the 
precipice, she started forward as if to hold her back. 

" Don't be afraid, I won't throw myself over," said Lucia 
Altimare, in her low, weak voice, her face breaking into the 



24 FANTASY 

shadow of a smile. " Last week, I was mad, but you have 
made me sane. That is to say, not you, but God. Through 
your lips, by your hands, has the Lord saved me from eternal 
perdition." 

She drew her blue rosary from her pocket, and kissed the 
silver crucifix and the medal of the Madonna. "Yes, Caterina, 
it was madness. But here" she bent down to whisper " no 
one understands me, no one but you ! You are good, and you 
understand me ; oh ! if I could but tell you all ! They 
cannot understand me here. That day, the Directress was so 
cold and cruel to me. She said that I had written things that 
were unworthy of a gentleman's daughter, that I appealed to 
know of things which it is unmaidenly even to think of; that 
the Professor, the teacher, and my companions were scanda- 
lised ; that she should be obliged to send the composition to 
my father, with a severe letter. I held my tongue, Caterina ; 
what could I say? I held my tongue, I did not weep; 
neither did I entreat her. I returned to the hall in an agony 
of grief and shame. You spoke to me, but I did not hear 
you. Death passed like lightning through my soul, and my 
soul fell in love with it. God .... disappeared." 

She left off speaking, tired in voice and body. Caterina, 
who had listened spell-bound by her sentimental talk, replied : 
*' Cheer up, Lucia ; September will soon be here. We shall 
leave then." 

"What does that matter?" said the other, shrugging her 
shoulders. " I shall but exchange one sorrow for another. 
Do you see a little tower yonder, under the Vomero hill ? I 
was christened in that church. In that little church there 
is a Madonna, all robed in black ; her gown is embroidered 
with gold. She holds a little white handkerchief in her hand ; 
she can turn her eyes in anguish, and in her divine heart of 
woman and mother, are seven swords of pain. Caterina, they 
christened me in the church of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows. 
The Madonna Addolorata is my patron saint; I shall suffer 
for ever." 



FANTASY. 25 

Caterina listened to her with a pained expression on her 
face. 

" You exaggerate ; what do you know of hfe ? " 

"I know it," said the other, shaking her head. "I feel 
as if I had lived enough, suffered enough I feel as I had 
grown so old. I feel as if I had found dust and ashes every- 
where. I am sick at heart. We are only born to sorrow." ^ 

" That's Leopardi again, Lucia ; you promised me not to ^^ 
read Leopardi again." 

"I will not read him again. But listen; we are blind, 
miserable beings, destined to pain and death. Do you see 
beautiful Naples, smiling, voluptuous, nestling between her 
fruitful hills and her divine sea, in the magic of her radiant 
colouring ? Do you really love Naples ? " 

*' Yes, for I was born there," said the other in a low voice. 

" I hate her, with her odour of flowers, of humanity, of 
sparkling wines; her starred and seductive nights. I hate her ; 
for she is the embodiment of sin and sorrow. There, where 
the tall lightning conductors shoot into the air, is the aristo- 
cratic quarter; the home of corruption and sorrow. Here below 
us, where the houses are closer together and look darker, are the 
people's dwellings ; but here, too, are corruption and sorrow. 
She is a sinner, like the city of Sodom, like the city of Gomorrah ; 
she is a sinful woman, like the Magdalen. But she writhes in 
her sin, she inundates her bed with her tears, she weeps in the 
fatal night of Gethsemane. Oh ! triumphant city, accursed and 
agonising ! " 

Her gesture cut the air like an anathema; but immediately her 
excitement calmed down, and the flush died out of her cheeks. 

" It is bad for you to stand here, Lucia ; shall we walk ?" 

" No, let me speak ; I think too much, and thought ploughs 
too deep a furrow, when I cannot put it into words. Have I 
saddened you, Caterina?" 

" A little ; I fear for your health." 

" I beg your pardon. I ought not to talk to you of these 
things. You don't like to hear them." 



26 FANTASY. 

'* I assure you . . . . " 

"You are right, dear. But really, without exaggeration, 
life is not beautiful. Have you ever thought of the future ; of 
the vague, dread future, that is so close upon us ? " 

*' Sometimes." 

*' And you have not feared ? " 

" I don't know." 

" The future is all fear, Caterina .... Do you know what 
you will do with your life ? " 

" I know." 

" Who has told it you, thoughtless child ? Who has read 
the riddle of the future ? " 

" My aunt intends me to marry Andrea Lieti." 

"Shall you obey?" 

" Yes." 

" Without regret ? " 

" Without regret." 

"Oh! poor child, poor child! Does this Andrea love you?" 

" I think so." 

" Do you love him ? " 

" I think I do." 

" Love is sorrow ; marriage is an abomination, Caterina." 

" I hope not," replied the other, with clasped hands and 
bowed head. 

" I shall never marry, no, never," added Lucia, drawing herself 
up and raising her eyes to heaven, in the pride of her mysticism. 

The violet twilight deepened. The collegians stood still in 
the grounds, near the parapet, looking at some of the windows 
that reflected the sun's last rays, at the distant sea that was 
turning to iron grey, at the swallows that shot like arrows 
across the roofs with the shrill cry that is their evensong. 

Giovanna Casacalenda confessed to Maria Vitali that the 
hour of twilight made her long to die a sudden death, so that 
they might embalm her, dress her in a white satin gown, and 
loosen her long hair under a wreath of roses . , , , and after a 



FANTASY, 27 

hundred years a poet might fall in love with hei. Artemisia 
Minichini assumed her most lugubrious air, her fists were 
doubled up in her apron pockets, there was a deep furrow 
across her forehead, and her lips were pursed up. Carolina 
Pentasuglia, the blonde, romantic, little sentimentalist, told 
Ginevra Avigliana that she wished herself far away in Den- 
mark, on the shore of the Northern Sea, on a deserted strand, 
where the north wind howls through the fir-trees. Even 
Cherubina Friscia forgot her part of eavesdropper, and with 
vague eyes and listless hands meditated upon a whole life to 
be passed within College walls, without friends or relations, a 
poor old maid, hated by the girls. 

" I think," said Lucia to Caterina, " that my father intends 
marrying again. He has not dared to before, but human 
patience is so fragile a thing ! My father is worldly, he does 
not understand me. My presence saddens him. He would 
like to have a merry, thoughtless girl in the house, who would 
enliven it. I am not the one for that." 

" But what will you do ? Something will have to be done, 
Lucia." 

" Yes, something I will do, not for myself, but for others. 
Great undertakings call for great sacrifices. If I were a man, 
I would go to Africa and explore unknown regions. If I were 
a man, I would be a monk, a missionary to China or Japan, 
far, far away. But I am a woman, a weak, useless woman." 

" You could stay with your father, meanwhile." 

" No, his is a tardy youth, and mine a precocious old age. 
My presence in his house would be a continual reproach. Well, 
listen, I shall try to come upon a good, noble, holy idea, to 
which I can consecrate my mind and my energy. I will seek 
for a plague to lessen, an injustice to remove, a wrong to right, 
everywhere I will search for the ideal of humanity, to which I 
may sacrifice my life. I know not what I shall do, as yet I 
know not. But either as a Sister of the Red Cross on the 
battlefield, or as a Sister of Charity in the hospitals, or as a 
visitor in prisons, or as founder and teacher in some orphan 



28 FANTASY, 

asyluiti, I shall dedicate the strength and the courage of a 
wasted existence to the alleviation of human suffering." 

Caterina did not answer. Lucia contemplated her friend 
with the faintest shade of disdain on her lips. 

'' Will it not be a beautiful life, Caterina?" 

" Very beautiful. Will your people give their consent ? " 

"I should like to know how they could prevent it. ll 
would be cruel tyranny." 

" And your health ? " 

*' I shall struggle against it .... or if I die, death will be the 
more welcome to me, worn with toil, with the consciousness 
of accomplished duty." 

" I am not capable of such great things," murmured Caterina, 
after a short silence. " Mine is not a great soul." 

" Never mind, dear," said the other, stroking her hair as if 
she were a child, " tlie ideal of humanity is not for every one." 

Evening had closed in, recreation was over, the collegians 
re-entered the dormitory, passed thence to the corridor, and 
descending the stair, approached the chapel, for evening prayer. 
On they went, without looking at each other, in silence, prey 
to a melancholy so intense that it isolated them. They 
walked two and two, but not arm in arm. Two of them took 
each other by the hand, but with so languid a pressure that 
they scarcely held together. Behind them, the lights of Naples 
glimmered like evening stars ; they entered into the garnered 
peace of the College, and did not turn to look back. The 
oppression of that long hour of twilight weighed upon their 
spirits, and there was something funereal in the long, unsmiling 
march to the chapel. The window, hastily closed by the last 
comer, Cherubina Friscia, grated on its rusty hinge with a 
noise like a laugh of irony. 



It was the last lesson. August was dying ; the lessons were 
all coming to an end. After the September and October 



FANTASY. ig 

holidays, the children were to return to school for the Feast of 
San Carlo. But the Tricolors, maidens of seventeen or 
eighteen, having finished their education, left in September, to 
return no more. On that day, at two o'clock, they attended 
the history lesson the last of all. After that lesson, their course 
of study was absolutely finished. 

That was why there was something so abnormal in the girls 
themselves, and in the very atmosphere about them. That 
was why the curly, blonde hair of Carolina Pentasuglia was 
dressed more like a poodle's than it had ever been before ; a 
roguish cherub's head, one mass of curls. Giovanna Casaca- 
lenda, divested of her apron, was in pure white, a resplendent 
whiteness, broken only at the waist by her tricolor scarf. 
Artemisia Minichini wore a big gold locket on the velvet 
ribbon round her throat. Ginevra Avigliana had three roses 
in her waistband, right under her heart. But all of them sat 
demure and composed in the class-room, that already seemed 
so deserted : there was not a book on the desks, nor a scrap of 
paper, nor a pen. The inkstands were closed. A few drawers 
stood open. In a corner, on the ground, behind the blackboard, 
was a heap of tattered paper, torn into shreds or rolled up in balls. 
On a black panel destined to the exhibition of caligraphic 
achievements, there was chalked a tabulated list which set 
forth in finest imitation of printed letters, combined with copy- 
book and old English characters, embellished by countless flou- 
rishes, the fact that : " In the scholastic year the Signorine 

.... had completed the studies of the fifth gymnasial course . . . ." 
And first on the list was Lucia Altimare. It was the cloture^ 
the end of the volume, the vfoidjims .... The young ladies never 
turned towards that tablet. The eyes of some of them were 
rather red. Oh ! on that day the lesson was a serious and 
arduous one. They had all studied that period of 1815, with 
which the historical programme ended. From time to time 
the Professor made a critical remark, to which the pupils lis- 
tened attentively. Caterina Spaccapietra, that diligent scribe, 
took notes on a scrap of paper. On that day the Professor 



30 FANTASY, 

was paler and uglier than ever : he seemed thinner, a pitiable 
figure in the clothes that set so awkwardly upon him. The 
most ludicrous item of his attire was a large cameo pin, stuck 
in a dark red cravat of the worst possible taste. On that day- 
he was more careful than ever to avoid the glances of his 
pupils. He listened to them with profound attention, his eyes 
half closed, nodding his approval, murmuring an occasional 
bene under his breath. Now and again he would make an 
absent comment, as if he were talking to himself. Then the 
half-hour struck. As the minutes passed, the voice of the girl 
who repeated the lesson grew more and more tremulous : then 
at last the Professor added certain historical anecdotes con- 
cerning Napoleon. He spoke slowly, carefully picking his words. 
When he had ended the third quarter struck. The Professor 
and his pupils, impressed by a sudden and painful embarrass- 
ment, looked at each other. The history lesson was over. 

" The class asks permission to read its farewell letter," said 
Cherubina Friscia, whose placid face was undisturbed by 
emotion. 

He hesitated, a painful .look of indecision passed over his 
face. 

" I should prefer to read it at home. I could give more 
attention to it . . . ." he stammered, for want of something 
better. 

"No, no; listen to it here, Professor," cried two or three 
eager voices. 

" It is customary, Professor," said Friscia, dryly. 

There was a moment's silence. All the girls' faces turned 
pale from emotion. His head was bent in thought ; at last : 
" Read," he said, and appeared ready to listen in earnest from 
behind the hand with which he hid his eyes. 

Altimare rose, took the letter from an envelope and read it, 
halting at every word, dividing every syllable, her voice 
suffused with tenderness : 

" Honoured and beloved Professor, fate has indeed been 
both blind and cruel in choosing me to offer you, most 



FANTASY, 31 

respected Professor, the last farewell of a departing class. I 
am assuredly too much affected by our common sorrow ; so 
conscious of the solitude in which this separation will leave 
us, that a nameless pang at the heart will prevent the anguish of 
our minds from passing into words, in parting from him who 
has been our master and our guide. Oh, judge not the depth 
of our feeling for you from what I write .... Words are so 
pale, so weak and inadequate, and our emotion is so heartfelt. 
Professor, we are leaving . . . ." 

Ginevra Avigliana wept aloud, her face buried in her 
hands. 

". . . . this college where we have lived the sweetest 
years of our life, where our childhood and youth have been 
passed in the companionship of beloved friends and in the 
salutary occupation of our studies. We are leaving the house 
where we have laughed and learned, the roof that has over- 
looked our sports, our strivings for knowledge, our dreams. 
God is our witness that we feel that the past is slipping from 
us . . . ." 

Silently and with a pressure at her heart, Carolina Penta- 
suglia wept until she felt faint. 

" . . . . that a whirlwind is snatching it from us, that our 
joyous youth has vanished, and that the weight of the future, 
heavy with responsibility, is hanging over us. We cannot face 
the future undaunted, we would fain prolong this last day at 
school, we would fain cry aloud to our Directress and our 
teachers ' Why turn us away? we were so happy ! oh ! keep 
us, keep us with you ...,.!''' 

The reader broke down, her voice was hoarse, sobs checked 
her utterance, tears blinded her. She dried her eyes and 
cheeks, and continued : 

". . . . but this is a hard law which governs human beings. 
They must meet, love and part part for ever from those with 
whom one would gladly pass one's life. Well, on this day, we 
gather our memories together, we recall the life we have lived 
and all the benefits we owe to your knowledge, your teaching, 



32 FANTASY. 

and your patient, indulgent affection. For all you have done 
for us, take our blessing and our thanks. Yours is the 
tenderest memory that will abide with us, in the battle of life, 
a guiding star in the darkness that perchance awaits us. If we 
have failed in aught, forgive us. We entreat you, by this hour 
of sorrow upon which we enter, prepared for it, and yet 
shrinking from it, we entreat you, think of us without bitter- 
ness . . . ." 

The reader fell back on her bench exhausted, sobbing 
violently. The letter had fallen from her hand. Cherubina 
Friscia rose, crossed the class, picked up the letter, put it into 
its envelope and placed it on the Professor's desk. Nearly 
all of them wept in the despair of childish sorrow, at the many 
farewells, at the details of their departure, and in doubt and 
dread of the world they were about to enter. Artemisia Mini- 
chini, in the vain attempt to keep up her reputation of a 
strong-minded woman, bit her hps and blinked with her eyelids, 
but the flush on her cheek betrayed the effort it cost her. 
Little Giulia Pezzali, with her head hanging over her arms, 
which she had crossed on the back of the bench in front of 
her, like the child she was, moaned as if some one were hurting 
her. Even the plump white beauty of Giovanna Casacalenda 
was dimmed, her surprised black eyes were swollen with tears. 
Caterina's were dry and burning, but from time to time a sigh 
escaped her lips. The Professor did not weep, but he appeared 
to be more than usually unhappy in the heavy atmosphere 
that bowed those youthful heads and forced from them such 
noisy tears. 

" Listen," he said, " do not weep . . . ." Some faces looked 
up through their tears. " Do not weep. There should be no 
tears at your age. The time will come for them later very late, 
I trust .... To-day you feel unbearable sorrow in departing 
from this educational institution, where you must needs leave 
behind you so much of yourselves. To-morrow will bring a 
joy that will blot out all this sorrow. Life is made up of these 
alternations. They are not hard to bear, if you have within 



PANTASV. 35 

you faith and courage. I have taught you all I know, hoping 
that in the history of man's deeds you might find guidance for 
your own actions. Why do you thank me ? I have done so 
little. But if you will perforce thank me, I pray you let it be 
in this Vvise only: be good, be. so in a humane, womanly 
spirit. Remember one who says these words to you, re- 
member . . . ." 

By this time his voice was very faint, and his hands were 
trembling. The girls had abandoned themselves to a fresh fit 
of weeping. Motionless he stood for a second on the little 
platform, looking down at the bowed heads, at the faces 
buried in pocket-handkerchiefs, at the convulsed forms on the 
benches ; then he noiselessly descended, scribbled a single 
word in chalk on the blackboard and slipped away, bowing to 
Friscia as he passed. 

On the dingy slate, in big uncertain characters, stood the 
word"Addio." 

VI. 

There was only one flickering jet of gas burning at the 
entrance to the dormitory that contained the little white beds 
in which the Tricolors passed the last night of their school-days. 
There had been short dialogues, interrupted by sighs, melan- 
choly reflections and regrets, until a late hour. They would 
have liked to sit up all night, to indulge in their grief. But 
fatigue had melted their project away. When they could hold 
out no longer, sleep mastered those restless beings, weary with 
weeping. A languid "Good-night" was audible here and 
there, gradually the irregular breathing had subsided, and the 
sobs had died out. Complete repose reigned in the dormitory 
of the Tricolors. 

When the great clock struck two after midnight, Lucia Alti- 
mare opened her eyes. She had not slept; devoured by 
impatience, she had watched. Without rising she gently and 
noiselessly took her clothes from the chair near her bed, and 
put them on, thrust her bare feet into her slippers, and then 

c 



34 PANTASY. 

crept out of bed. She moved liked a shadow, with infinite 
precaution, casting, in passing, an oblique glance at the beds 
where her companions slept. Now and again she looked 
towards the end of the hall where Cherubina Friscia lay. 
There was no danger. Lucia passed like a tall white phantom, 
with burning eyes, through the heavy gloom, to " Caterina's 
bedside. 

Her friend slept quietly, composedly, breathing like a child. 
She bent down and whispered close to her ear ; 

"Caterina, Caterina!" 

She opened her eyes in alarm ; a sign from Lucia froze the 
cry that rose to her lips. The surprise on her face spoke for 
her, and questioned her friend. 

** If you love me, Caterina, dress and follow me." 

"Where are we going?" the other ventured to ask, hesi- 
tating. 

" If you love me . . . ." 

Caterina no longer questioned her. She dressed herself in 
silence, looking now and then at Lucia, who stood there like 
a statue, waiting. When Caterina was ready she took her by 
the hand to lead her. 

** Fear nothing," breathed Lucia, who could feel the coldness 
of her hand. They glided down the passage that divided the 
beds from the rest of the room. Artemisia Minichini was the 
only one who turned in her bed, and appeared for a moment 
to have opened her eyes. They closed again, but perhaps she 
saw through her lids. No other sign of waking. They shrank 
closer together when they passed the last bed, Friscia's, and 
stooped to make themselves smaller. That moment seemed 
to them like a century. When they got into the corridor, 
Caterina squeezed Lucia's hand as if they had passed through 
a great danger. 

" Come, come, come ! " murmured the siren voice of Lucia, 
and suddenly they stopped before a door. Lucia dropped 
Caterina's hand and inserted a key into the keyhole; the 
door creaked as it flew open. A gust of chill air struck the 



FANTASY, ' 35 

two young girls ; a faint diffuse light broke in upon them. A 
lamp was burning before the image of the Virgin. They were 
in the chapel. Calmly Lucia knelt before the altar and lighted 
two candelabra. Then she turned to Caterina, who, dazed 
by the light, was catching her breath, and once more said, 
"Come." 

They advanced towards the altar. In the little whitewashed 
church, with two high windows open on the country, a pleasant 
dampness tempered the heat of the August night. The 
faintest perfume of incense still clung to the air. The church 
was so placid and restful, the candelabra in their places, the 
tapers extinguished, the Sacrament shut away in its pix, the 
altar-cloth turned up to cover it. But a quaintly fashioned 
silver arabesque, behind which Lucia had lighted a taper, pro- 
jected on the wall the profile of a strange monstrous beast. 
Caterina stood there in a dream, with her hand still clasped 
in Lucia's, whose fever it had caivght .... Even at that 
unusual hour, in the dead of night, she no longer asked her- 
self what strange rite was to be solemnised in that chapel 
illuminated only for them. She was conscious of a vague 
tremor, of a weight in the head, and a longing for sleep ; she 
would fain have been back in the dormitory, with her cheek on 
her pillow .... But like one who dreams of having the 
well-defined will to do a thing, and yet while the dream lasts 
has neither the speech to express nor the energy to accomplish 
it, she was conscious, between sleeping and waking, of the 
torpor of her own mind. She looked around her as one in a 
stupor, neither understanding nor caring to understand. From 
time to time her mouth twitched with an imperceptible yawn. 
Lucia's hands were crossed over her bosom, and her eyes fixed 
on the Madonna. No sound escaped her half-open lips. 
Caterina leant forward to observe her ; in the vague turn of 
thought that went round and round in her sleepy brain, she 
asked herself if she were dreaming, and Lucia a phantom. 
.... She passed one hand across her brow either to awake 
herself or to dispel the hallucination. 



36 FANTASY. 

" Listen, Caterina, and try and comprehend me better than I 
know how to express myself. Doyou give yourwhole attention?" 

" Yes," said the other with an effort. 

"You alone know how we have loved each other here. 
After God, the Madonna Addolorata, and my father, I have 
loved you, Caterina. You have saved my life, I can never 
forget it. But for you, I should have gone to burn in hell, 
where suicides must eternally suffer. I thank you, dear heart. 
You believe in my gratitude ? " 

" Yes," said Caterina, opening wide her eyes the better to 
understand her. 

" Now we who so love each other must part. You go to 
the left, I to the right. You are to be married. I know not 
what will happen to me. Shall we meet again ? I know not. 
Shall we again come together in the future ? Who knows ? 
Do you know ? " 

" No," replied Caterina, starting. 

*' Well, then, I propose to you to conquer time and space, 
men and circumstances, should they stand in the way of our 
affection. From afar, howsoever we may be separated, let us 
love each other as we do to-day, as we did yesterday. Do 
you promise ? " 

" I promise." 

" The Madonna hears us, Caterina. Do you promise with 
a vow, with an oath ? " 

"With a vow, with an oath," repeated Caterina, monoto- 
nously, like an echo. 

" And I too promise, that no one shall ever by word or deed 
lessen this our steadfast friendship. Do you promise ? " 

" I promise." 

" And I too promise, that neither shall ever seek to do ill 
to the other, or willingly cause her sorrow, or ever, ever betray 
her. Promise the Madonna hears us." 

" I promise." 

" I swear it that always, whatever befalls, one shall try to 
help the other. Say, do you promise?" 



JPANTASY. 37 

" I promise." 

"And I too. Besides, that either will be ever ready to 
sacrifice her own happiness to that of the other. Swear it, 
swear ! " 

Caterina thought for an instant. Was she dreaming a 
strange dream, or was she binding herself for Ufe ? "I 
swear," she said, firmly. 

" I swear," reiterated Lucia. " The Madonna has heard. 
Woe to her who breaks her vow ! God will punish her." 

Caterina bowed her assent. Lucia took her rosary from her 
pocket. It was a string of lapis lazuli bound together by 
little silver links. From it depended a small silver crucifix, 
and a little gold medal on which was engraved the image of 
the Madonna della Saletta. She kissed it. 

" We will break this rosary in two equal parts, Caterina. 
Half of it you shall take with you, the other half I will keep. 
It will be our keepsake, to remind us of our vow. When I 
pray at night, I shall remember. You too will remember 
me in your prayers. The missing half will remind you of 
your absent friend." 

And taking up the rosary between them, they pulled hard 
at it from either side . . , . Lucia kept the half with the 
crucifix, Caterina the half with the medal. The two girls em- 
braced. Then they heard the clock strike three. When 
silence reigned once more in the College and in the empty 
chapel, both knelt dovv^n on the steps of the altar, crossed 
their hands on their bosoms, and with closed eyes repeated in 
ui.isoii 



PART II. 



I. 



The green hue of the country disappeared under the heavy 
November rain. Caserta, down below, shrouded by the 
falling water as by a veil of mist, seemed but a large grey 
blot on a background of paler grey. The Tifata hills, that 
are tinged with so deep a violet during the long autumn twi- 
lights, had vanished behind the thick, opaque downpour. The 
small and aristocratic village of Centurano, entirely composed 
of lordly villas, separated from each other by narrow lanes and 
flowering hedges, held its peace. 

At the corner of the high road that leads to Caserta, the 
fountain which Ferdinand of Bourbon had bestowed on 
Michelangiolo Viglia, his favourite barber, overflowed with 
rain-water. The long, melancholy, watery day was slowly dying, 
in a rainy twilight that seemed already evening. No sound 
was heard. The last lingerers among the villeganti kept 
within their houses, yawning, dozing, or gazing through closed 
windows at the drenched, denuded gardens, where the monthly 
roses hung their dishevelled heads, and the water trickled in 
litde muddy rivulets among wasted flower-beds; while here 
and there the stalks of stocks and wallflowers showed Hke the 
bare bones of so many skeletons. Behind one window were 
visible the cadaverous old face and red velvet smoking-cap of 
Cavalier Scardamaglia, judge at the Court of Santa Maria; 
behind another, the aquiline nose and the long thin cheeks of 
Signora Magaloni, wife of the architect who was directing the 
repairs of the royal palace. The children of lawyer Farinj 



FANTASY. *39 

were running after and shouting at each other on the covered 
terrace of their villa. Francesca, their nurse, sat in the arch 'of 
the window, knitting, without dreaming of scolding them. The 
water poured along the gutters and filled the pipes to bursting ; 
the butts for the family washing overflowed ; the walls were 
stained as with rust. 

From behind her balcony windows, Caterina looked out 
upon the fountain that overflowed the road. She tried to see 
farther away, down the highway to Caserta, but in this the 
rain thwarted her. She looked back again at the fountain, 
and re-read the two first lines of its fatuous inscription : 

DIEMMI DELL'ACQUA GIULIA 
UN RIVOLETTO IL RE. 

But she soon wearied of this contemplation, and again applied 
herself to her sewing. She was seated on the broad window- 
sill: before her stood her work-table, covered with reels of 
cotton, a needle-case, a pincushion, scissors of all sizes, and 
bundles of tapes ; near to her was a large basket of new ready- 
basted household linen, at which she was sewing. Just now 
she was hemming a fine Flanders tablecloth ; four that she 
had finished were lying folded on the little table. She sewed 
deliberately, with a harmonious precision of movement. 
Whenever she cut her thread with her scissors, she turned to 
the road for a moment to see if any one was coming. Then 
she resumed her hem again, patiently and mechanically, passing 
her pink nail across it to make it even. Once a noise in the 
street caused her to start : she stopped to listen. It was the 
little covered cart in which the Avvocata Farini was returning 
from Nola, whither he had gone on some legal errand. The 
lawyer, as he alighted, made her a low bow. 

Despite her disappointment, she responded with a pretty, 
gracious smile, and followed him with her eyes, to where his 
children welcomed him with shouts and outstretched arms. 
Qnce more the regular profile bent over the Flanders cloth, 



40 FANTASY, 

and the needle flew under her agile fingers. Caterina appeared 
to have grown bigger, although she still retained a certain 
girlish delicacy and a pretty minuteness of feature. The look 
in her grey eyes was more decided, the contour of her cheek 
was firmer, the chin had assumed a more energetic character. 
On the low brow, the bright chestnut hair was slightly waved ; 
its thick plaits were gathered up at the nape by a light 
tortoiseshell comb. She wore a short indoor dress of ivory- 
white cashmere a soft thick material that clung closely to her, 
especially at the waist a relic of the coquetry of her school- 
days. Round her throat was a broad creamy lace tie, with a 
large bow, wherein the chin seemed to bury itself. It gave 
value to the delicate pink colouring of her face. There were 
full lace ruffles around her wrists ; no jewels, except a plain 
gold ring on one finger. Her whole person breathed a serene 
simplicity, a delightful happy calm. 

*' Shall I bring the lights?" asked Cecchina, the maid, 
entering the room." 

*' What time is it?" 

" Nearly six o'clock." 

*' Wait a litile longer." 

" And master not yet back ! " 

" He will come in good time." 

" The Lord knows how soaker] he'll be." 

" I hope not. Is his room quite ready ? " 

'* Everything, Signora." 

" Then you needn't wait." 

Cecchina left the room. Caterina did not return to her 
sewing, for it was nearly dark, and she wanted to believe that 
it was still early. Meanwhile, the lamplighter of Centurano 
was proceeding under cover of his waterproof and his umbrella 
to light the few petroleum lamps of the tiny village. Caterina 
folded and refolded her linen in the twilight. Cecchina, who 
was getting impatient, brought in two lamps. 

The cook says, ' What is he to do ? ' " 

" He's to wait," 



FANTASl. 41 

"Till what hour?" 

*' Till seven like yesterday." 

But all at once a faint bark was audible down the lane. 

*' That is Fox," said Caterina quietly. " Your master is 
coming." 

Immediately there was the noise of a great opening and 
shutting of doors ; a rush of sound and movement. After that 
a lusty voice resounded in the couityard. 

"Here, Fox! Here, poor beast ! Here, Diana ! She's as 
wet as a newly hatched chicken ! Caterina, Caterina ! Matteo, 
take care of the gun, it's full of water ! Caterina !" 

** Here I am," she said, leaning over the balustrade. 

A big curly head and a green felt hat, then a herculean 
body, clothed in a velveteen jacket, leather breeches, and top- 
boots, appeared on the lower steps. With a great sound of 
clanking spur, and cracking whip, soaked from head to foot, 
but laughing heartily, Andrea seized his wife by the waist, and 
raised her like a child in his strong arms, while he kissed her 
eyes, lips, and throat, roughly and eagerly. 

*' Nini, Nini ! " he cried, between each sounding kiss. 

" You're come .... you're come 1 " she murmured, smiling ; 
her hair loosened from its comb, and on her fair skin sundry 
red imprints left by his caresses. 

"Oh! Nini, Nini!" he repeated, burying his big nose in 
the soft folds of her tie. Then he placed his wife on he 
feet again, drew a deep breath like a bellows, and stretchec 
himself. 

'* How wet you are, Andrea ! " 

" From head to foot. Beastly weather ! Yesterday capital 
sport, but to-day, perdio ! this rascally rain ! I'm soaked to 
the bone." 

Leaning out of the landing window, he called in to the court- 
yard : " Take care of the dogs, Matteo. Rub them down with 
warm straw." 

" And yourself, Andrea ? " 

" I will go and change my clothes. But I am not cold. I 



4 FANTASY, 

have walked so fast that I am quite warm. Is everything 
ready for me?" 

*' Everything." 

" And dinner ? I'm dying of hunger." 

" Dinner is ready, Andrea." 

" Macaroni, eh ? " 

" Macaroni patties." 

''Hurrah!" he shouted, tossing his cap up to the ceiling. 
" Thou art a golden Nini." 

And he took her once more in his arms, like a small bundle. 

" You are drenching me," she murmured, without looking at 
all vexed. 

" I'm a brute ; right you are. Thy pretty white frock ! what 
a lout I am ! " 

And he delicately shook out its folds. He took his hand- 
kerchief, and went down on his knees to dry her gown, while 
she said : "No, it was nothing, she would not let him tire 
himself." 

" Let me ; do, do let me, I am a brute .... I am a brute !" 
he persisted. When he had finished, he turned her round and 
round like a child. 

" Now you're dry, Nini. What a sweet smell you have 
about you. Is it your lace tie or your skin ? I'll go and 
dress. Go and see if the macaroni patties will be done in 
time." 

She went away, but returned immediately to listen at his 
door, in case he should call her. She could hear him moving 
to and fro in his dressing-room, puffing and blowing and in the 
highest spirits. He was throwing his wet boots against the 
wall, tramping about like a horse, or halting to look at his 
clothes ; singing the while to an air of his own composition : 

" Where are the socks .... the socks .... the socks .... 
Here you are. Now I want a scarf to bind up my inexpressibles. 
Here's the scarf .... Now where's my necktie ? " 

Then there was silence. 



FANTASY. 43 

" Have you found the necktie, Andrea ? May I come in ? " 
she asked shyly. 

" Oh ! you are there ! And here is the necktie .... I*m 
ready. Call Cecchina to take away these wet things while we 
are at dinner." 

He opened the door and came out with a face red from much 
rubbing. He looked taller and broader in indoor dress. His 
curly leonine head, with its low forehead, blue eyes, and bushy 
auburn moustache, was firmly set on a full, massive, and very 
white throat. Round it he wore a white silk tie and no collar. 
His broad shoulders expanded under the dark blue cloth of his 
jacket, his mighty chest swelled under the fine linen of his 
shirt. The whole figure, ponderous in its strength, was re- 
deemed from awkwardness by a certain high-bred ease and by 
the minute care of his person, visible in the cut of his hair 
and the polish of his well-tended nails. 

" H'm, Caterina, are we going to dine to-day ? " 

** Dinner is on the table." 

The dining-room was bright with lighted candles, spotless 
linen, and shining silver. The centre-piece of fruit grapes, 
apples, and pears shone golden with autumn tints. Through 
the closed shutters the faintest patter of rain was perceptible. 
The light fell upon two huge oaken cupboards, whose glass 
doors revealed within various services of porcelain and crystal, 
and on the panels of which were carved birds, fish, and fruit. 
Two high-backed armchairs faced each other. The whole 
room was pervaded by a sense of peace and order. The 
macaroni pasty, copper-coloured within its paler crust, was 
smoking on the table. Andrea ate heartily and in silence ; he 
had helped himself three times. Caterina, who had taken her 
share with the appetite of a healthy young woman, watched 
while he ate, with her chin in the air and a little smile on her 
face. 

" Perdio 1 how good this pie is I Tell the cook, Caterina, to 
repeat it as often as he likes," 



44 FANTASY. 

" I will make a note of it in the household book. Will you 
have some more ? " 

" No, hasia. Ring, please. Has it rained all day here ? " 

" Since last night." 

"At Santa Maria, too. Would you believe it? I went as far 
as Mazzoni, to the Torone, our farm over there." 

" Did you sleep there last night ? " 

"Yes ; a good bed. Coarse but sweet-smelling sheets. But 
I v/as furious with the weather. Have some beef, Nini. There 
is no sport to be had now. Who has been here ? " 

"Pepe Guardini, one of the Nola tenants. He wants a 
reduction." 

" I've given him three reductions. He is a drunkard and 
too ready with his knife. He must pay." 

"He says he can't." 

" He can't, he can't ! " he roared ; " then I'll turn him out." 

She looked at him fixedly, but smiling. Andrea lowered his 
voice. 

" I don't know why I lose my temper," he muttered. " I 
beg your pardon, Nini, but it annoys me when they come and 
bother you. What did you say to him ?" 

** That I would speak to you about it ; that we should see. 
. , , . Have your own way. Give me some wine. By-the-by, 
Giovanni has been here; the vats are opened; he says the wine 
promises well." 

" I will look in to-morrow. When that's over, in a week 
we'll leave for Naples. Are you impatient ? No fowl ! I assure 
you, it is excellent." 

" Tell the truth, 'tis you who want more." 

" I blush, but I say yes. So you pine for Naples ? " 

"And you?" 

" I, too. Here there's no sport, and dull neighbours. We 
are expected there. By-the-by, send for Cecchina and tell 
her that in the pocket of my shooting-jacket there is a letter 
lor you. I found it at the post-office at Caserta." 

<* Whose handwriting ? " she queried, with a start. 



FANTASY. 45 

"The writing of one who sends thee long letters in a scratchy 
hand, on transparent paper. Of one on whose seal is graven a 
death's-head, with the motto, * Nihil ', Of one whose paper is 
so heavily scented with musk, that my pocket reeks intolerably 
of it. Here's a pear peeled for you, Nini. 'Tis thy lover who 
writes to thee." 

" It's Lucia Altimare, is it not ? " 

" Yes " . . . . stretching himself with a sigh of satisfaction, as 
one who has dined well ; " the Signorina Lucia Altimare, a skinny, 
ethereal creature, with pointed (!qq'^'?,^ po sense par excellences^ 

* Andrea!" 

"Do you mean to say that she is not ? posetisel Indulgent 
Nini! What is this under the table ? Your foot, Nini ! I hope 
I haven't crushed it. But your friend is repugnant to me, at 
least she was so the only time I ever saw her." 

" I am so sorry, Andrea. I hope that when you see her 
again, you will alter your mind." 

" If you're sorry, I hope I shall alter my mind. But why 
does she scent her letters so heavily ? I recommend you this 
coffee, Caterina ; it ought to be good." 

" Lucia is sickly and unhappy. One is so sorry for her. 
Do you think five teaspoonfuls of coffee will be sufficient?" 

" Put six .... I see ; .... to please you I will pity her. But 
don't read her letter yet ; for, to judge by the weight of it, it 
must be a very long one. Make the coffee first. If you don't, I 
shall say that you care for Lucia more than for me," murmured 
Andrea, with the vague tenderness induced by digestion. 

" I will read it later." 

He leant back in his chair, breathing slowly and contentedly, 
with his necktie unfastened and his hands resting on the table- 
cloth, while he watched her making the coffee to which she 
gave all her attention, intent on listening for the hiss of the 
machine. A calm lithe figure that neither fidgeted nor moved 
too often, absorbed by her occupation, she bent her whole 
mind to it, 

" It's ready," she said, after a time. 



46 FANTASY. 

"Let's discuss it in the drawing-room," he replied. "As a 
reward I will let you read my rival's letter." 

A bright wood fire burned on the drawing-room hearth. 
With another sigh of satisfaction, Andrea sank into a broad, 
low, leathern armchair that was drawn up before it. 

" If it were not for the shooting, I should get too fat. Now 
don't begin to sew again, Caterina ; sit down here and talk to 
me. Did you use to dance when you were at school?" 

" The dancing-master came twice a week." 

"Did you like dancing?" 

"Pretty well; 'do you?" 

" Now, when we are at Naples we can dance as much as we 
like. We've got three invitations already." 

" Giovanna Casacalenda .... that's one." 

"And my relations the Valgheras .... two.'* ' 

"And Passalancias .... three." 

" We'll dance, Nini. If I didn't dance I should get too fat. 
It will be capital exercise for me. Does your melancholy 
skeleton of a friend dance?" 

"Lucia?" 

"Yes." 

" She didn't dance much. She liked the lancers and the 
mazuTka,! ^remember. The waltz tried her strength too 
much." 

" A woman who is always ill ! who faints away in your arms 
at any moment ! What a bore I" 

"Oh, Andrea!" 

" At least you are always well, Nini." 

"Always." 

" So much the better, come here and give me a kiss ! Has 
the Pungolo arrived?" 

" Here it is." 

" Caterina, I am going to bury myself in the newspaper. 
Read your letter. I won't tease you any more." 

But while he lost himself in the political diatribes that filled 
the Pungolo^ Caterina, notwithstanding the permission granted 



FANTASY, 47 

to her, did not begin to read. She kept the letter in her hand, 
looking at it and inhaling its scent. It was charged with the 
violent, luscious perfume of ambergris. Then she glanced 
shyly at her husband ; he was falling gradually asleep, his head 
sinking towards his shoulder. In five minutes the paper fell 
from his hands. Caterina picked it up, and gently replaced it 
on the table. She turned down the lamp, to make a twilight 
in the room. Then she crept back to her chair, and knelt to 
read her letter by the light of the fire. For a long time, the 
only sound within the quiet room was the calm, regular breath- 
ing of Andrea, accompanied by the faint rustle of foreign letter- 
paper as Caterina turned the pages. She read carefully and 
attentively, as if weighing every word. From time to time an 
expression of trouble passed across her firelit face. When she 
had finished reading she looked at her husband; he slept on, 
like a great child, beautiful and gentle in his strength, an 
almost infantile sweetness and tenderness on his countenance. 
He lay there calm and still in the assurance of their mutual 
love, his tired muscles relaxed and at ease in the peace of his 
honest soul. She bent her head again towards the flame, and 
once more read the letter from beginning to end, with the same 
minute attention. When she had read it through for the 
second time, Caterina slipped it into her pocket, and leaving 
her hand half hidden in its depths, rested her head on the 
back of her low chair. Time passed, the quarter struck, then 
the half-hour, and another quarter, at the clock in the tower of 
Centurano : by degrees the fire burned out on the hearth. 
Andrea awoke with a start. 

" Caterina, wake up." 

" I am not asleep, Andrea," she replied placidly, with wide- 
open eyes. 

"It's late, Nini, very late; time for by-bye," said the 
Colossus, as in loving jest he gathered her up in his arms like 
a child. 



48 FANTASY, 



II. 

The circular drawing-room had been transformed into a 
garden of camellias, on whose close, dense, dark-green back- 
ground of foliage the flowers displayed their insolent waxen 
beauty, white or red, perfumeless, icily voluptuous, their full 
buds swelling as if to burst their green chalices. A luxuriant 
vegetation covered the walls and the very roof, lending them a 
silent enchantment. In the midst of the shrubbery a Musa 
paradisiaca reared its lofty head, spreading out its vivid green 
leaves like an umbrella. Round the Musa ran a rustic divan 
roughly wrought in wood. Here and there were low rustic 
stools. Massive branches of camellia nearly hid the two doors 
leading to this room. A faint difiuse light shone through its 
opaque rose-coloured shades. 

Three or four times during the evening, in the intervals of 
the dances, this room had filled with guests. Ladies, young 
and old, uttered little cries of delight in the rustic effect, in the 
coolness and the repose of it, as compared with the hard white 
glare of the ball-room, its oppressive atmosphere and noisy 
orchestra. They assumed attitudes of graceful languor. The 
men looked round with an air of suppressed satisfaction, as if 
they too were far fiom insensible to the beauties of Nature. A 
few timidly culled bu Is were offered as gifts .... A young 
lady in pale yellow, with a shower of lilies of the valley in her 
dark hair, recited some verses in a low murmur. Quiet women 
fanned themselves gently with noiseless, winged fans of soft 
grey feathers; but hardly had the triumphant appeal of 
the first notes of a waltz or the plaintive melting strains of the 
mazurka reached their retreat, when one and all flung them- 
selves into the whirl of the ball and every couple vanished. 
Once more the shrubbery was silent and deserted, the red 
camellias again opened their lips. What were they waiting for ? 

Giovanna Casacalenda, the daughter of the house, entered 
the shrubbery on the arm of a young man. Taller than her 



FANTASY. 49 

partner, she seemed to look down upon him from the height 
of her regal beauty. She was draped in the dinging folds of a 
long dress of ivory crape, that ended in a soft floating train. 
Wondrous to behold was the low bodice of crimson satin, 
fitting without a crease ; her arms were bare to the shoulder. 
One row of pearls round the firm white throat. A wreath 
of damask roses, worn low on the forehead, crowned her dark 
hair, drawn up close from the nape of her neck. This auda- 
ciously simple costume was worn with the repose of conscious 
beauty, proof against any weakness on its own account. A 
smile just parted her curved lips while she listened to her 
companion, a meagre undersized youth, with a bilious com- 
plexion; there were lines about his eyes and the hair was 
scanty on the temples. He was correct, refined, and 
finnikin. 

"But, Giovanna, I have your promise," he protested, ^^ thy 
promise." 

" You need not ' thou ' and * thee ' me," she observed. 

*' Forgive .... I beg your pardon, I am always betraying 
my feelings," he murmured; "it's very clear that you are 
casting me off, Giovanna . . . ." 

" If it is so clear, why trouble to talk about it?" 

" Why do I .... ? That you may contradict me. What 
have I done to thee ? '* 

" Nothing ; treat me to you, if you please. Now go on, I 
am in a hurry." 

" Then it has been a dream?" 

" Dream, caprice, folly ; call it what you will. You must 
make up your mind to the fact that we cannot marry. You 
have an income of eight thousand lire; I shall have six 
thousand. What can one do with fourteen thousand lire a 
year ? " 

Smiling, she said these things, without changing her 
easy attitude ; the arm that plied the fan was carefully 
rounded, and she looked at him with a Httle air of 
superiority. 

D 



50 FANTASY. 

" But if my uncle dies . . . ." whined her victim. 

" Your uncle is not going to die just yet, I have observed 
him carefully ; he's solid." 

"You are positively malevolent, Giovanna , , . . remem- 
ber .... 

*'What would you have me remember? Do try to be 
sensible. Let us go back." 

They went away, and those superb camellias that Giovanna 
so closely resembled told no tales, neither did they murmur 
among themselves. 

" Very fine indeed ! '* said Andrea Lieti, admiring the 
general effect, while the divan creaked under his weight. 
" But give me Centurano." 

" Real country must always surpass in beauty its counterfeit 
presentment," mumbled timid Galimberti, Professor of History. 
" But these Casacalendas have a fine, luxurious taste." 

*'Bah ! respected Professor, they want to marry their daughter, 
and they are sure to succeed." 

" Do you really think . . . . ? " 

*' I don't blame them. So magnificent a creature is not 
meant to be kept at home. Was she so beautiful when she 
was at school ? " 

*' Beautiful .... dangerously beautiful, even at school .... 
I remember . . . . " passing his hand across his forehead, as if 
he were talking to himself. 

Andrea Lieti opened his big blue eyes in amazement. The 
Professor remained standing in an awkward attitude, stooping 
slightly, and ill at ease in his easy attire. His trousers were 
too long, and bagged at the knees. The collar of his old- 
fashioned dress -coat was too high. Instead of the regulation 
shirt, shining like a wall of marble, he wore an embroidered 
one, with large Roman mosaic studs, a view of the Colos- 
seum, the Column of Trajan, the Piazza di San Pietro. 
There he stood, with hanging arms, with his hideous, pen- 
sive head. The brow appeared to have grown higher and 



FANTASY. 51 

yellower. His eyes had the old oblique look, at once 
absent and embarrassed. 

"These balls must bore you fearfully, Professor," cried 
Andrea, as he rose and walked to and fro, conspicuous for his 
fine proportions and well-bred ease. 

" Well .... rather .... I feel somewhat isolated in a crowd 
like this," said Galimberti, confusedly. 

" And yet you don't disHke it ? " 

" A . . . . Two or three of my pupils are so good as to invite 
me .... I go out for recreation .... I read too hard." 

Again that weary gesture, as if to ease his brow of its weight 
of thought, and the wandering glance seeming to seek some- 
thing that was lost. 

" Ycu must come to us, too, Professor," said Andrea, full of 
compassion for the wretched little dwarf. *'Caterina often 
speaks of you." 

" She was a good creature .... such a good creature. So good 
and gentle and sensible. Yours was an excellent choice." 

"I believe you," said Andrea, laughing heartily. "Is it 
true that you always reproached her with a lack of imagi- 
nation ? " 

"Did she tell you that too? Yes sometimes .... a 
certain dryness . . . . " 

"Well, Caterina isn't troubled with sentimental vagaries. 
But I like her best as she is. Have you seen her to-night ? 
She's lovely. If she were not my wife, I should be dancing 
with her." 

" She is .... or was with her friend . . . , " 

" With Lucia Altimare, to be sure." 

"With the Signorina Altimare," repeated the Professor, 
gulping down something with difficulty. 

" There's another of your pupils ! She must have plagued 
you, no end, with her compositions, to judge from the tire- 
some fantastic letters she writes to my wife." 

" The Signorina Altimare wrote divinely," said the Professor, 
dryly. 



Sa FANTASY. 

*' Eh ! maybe," muttered Andrea, choosing a 
"Have one? No? I assure you they are not bad. I was 
saying" he resumed his seat on the couch, and blew the 
smoke upwards " that she must have bored you to tears." 

" The Signorina Altimare is a suffering, interesting being. 
She is so very unhappy," persisted the Professor, with his 
cravat all awry, in the heat of his defence. 

Andrea gazed at him with curiosity; then a faint smile 
parted his lips. 

" She goes to balls, however," he replied, quietly enjoying 
the study of the Professor. 

" She does. She is obliged to, and it changes the current 
of her thoughts. You see she never dances." 

" Bah ! because nobody insists on her doing so. What do 
you bet that, if I go and ask her, she won't dance the waltz 
with me ? " 

" Nothing would induce her to dance, she is subject to 
palpitations. It might make her faint." 

*' Che ! If I give her a turn, you'll see how she'll trot ! No 
woman has ever fainted in my arms . . . . " He stopped short 
from sheer pity. Galimberti, who had turned from yellow to 
red, and stood nervously clutching at his hat, looked at Andrea 
with so marked an expression of pain and anger, that he felt 
ashamed of tormenting him. 

*' But she is too thin, too angular ; we'll leave her alone. 
Or you try it. Professor ; you dance with her." With a friendly 
gesture he took him by the arm, to lead him away. 

"I don't dance," mumbled Galimberti, and his big head 
sank on his breast. " I don't know how to dance." 

Enter once more Giovanna Casacalenda, leaning this time 
with a certain abandon on the arm of a cavalry officer. Her 
arm nestled against his coat, her face was raised to his. He, 
strutting like a peacock in his new uniform, was smiling through 
his blonde moustache ; an ornamental soldier, who had left 
his sword in the ante-room. 



FANTASY. 53 

"Well, Giovanna, has the old boy made up his mind?" 

** There is something brewing, but nothing settled," she 
replied, wearily. " Indeed, it's a sorry business." 

*' All's well that ends well. Courage, Giovanna ; you are 
enchanting to-night." 

" Am I ? " she murmured, looking in his face. 

" More than ever .... when I think that old ....'* 

*' Don't think about it, Roberto .... It must be," she added 
seriously. 

** I know that it must be ; as if I hadn't advised it ! Oi 
course your father would not give you to me : it's no good 
thinking of it. Besides, he is a very presentable old fellow." 

"Oh! presentable . . . ." 

** Well, with the collar of his order under his coat, his bald 
head, and his white whiskeis, he looks dignified enough for a 
husband, and . . . ." 

" It's all so far off, Roberto," she said, looking at him 
languidly but fixedly, with parted lips and sad eyes. 

" Well, get it over ; it rests with you . . . . " 

" You will never forget me, Roberto, my own Roberto ? " 

" Forget you, Giovanna, transcendent, fascinating as you are ? 
Do you realise the extent of my sacrifice? I leave you to 
Gabrielli. Do you realise what I lose ? " 

" You do not lose all," murmured Giovanna, with a catch in 
her breath. He bent down and imprinted a long kiss on her 
wrist. Her eyelids drooped, but she did not withdraw it ; she 
was ready to fall into his arms, notwithstanding the nearness 
of the ball-room. The young officer, whose prudence was 
more than equal to his love, raised his head. 

" It would be rash to loiter here," he said ; '* the old boy 
mi^ht get jealous." 

'' Dio inio^ what a bore ! Basta, for your sake." 

*' Why do you not sing to-night? " 

" Mamma won't let me , . . ." And tliey passed on. 

The two friends were approaching the rustic seat : after care- 



54 FANTASY. 

fully arranging their trains, they sat down together. Lucia 
Altimare sank as if from sheer fatigue. Her dress was of 
strange pale sea-green, almost neutral in tint ; the skirt hung in 
plain ample folds, like a peplum. The bodice closely defined 
her small waist ; her arms and shoulders were swathed in a 
pale veil, like a cloud in colour and texture. Some of her 
dark tresses were loosened on her shoulders, and, half buried 
in their waves, was a wreath of natural white flowers, fresh, but 
just beginning to fade. A bunch of the same flowers was dying 
in the folds of tulle that covered her bosom. The general 
effect was that of the fragile body of an Undine, surmounted 
by the head of a Sappho. 

Next to her sat Caterina Lieti, radiantly serene and fresh, 
in her pretty pink ball-dress, wearing round her throat a 
dazzling riviere of diamonds, and in her hair a diamond 
aigrette that trembled as she leant over her friend, talking to 
her the while with animation. Lucia appeared to be lost in 
thought, or in the absence of it. She said, in her dragging 
tones, as if her very words weighed too heavily for her, *' I 
knew I should meet you here. Besides, my father is so very 
youngish it amuses him, he likes dancing. Why did you not 
answer my last letter?" 

" I was on the eve of returning to Naples .... and so you 
see .... " 

" I hope," said the other, with a somewhat contemptuous 
pout, " that you do not permit your husband to read my 
letters." 

Caterina, blushing, denied the impeachment. 

" He is a good young man," admitted Lucia, in an indulgent 
tone. *'I think your husband suits you. You are pretty to- 
night : too many diamonds, though." 

"They were a present from Andrea," proudly. 

" I hate jewels ; I shall never wear them." 

" If you were to marry, Lucia . . . ." 

" I marry ? You know what I wrote you." 

" But listen ; there is that Galimberti, who follows you every- 



FANTASY, S5 

where; who admires you from a distance; who loves you 
without daring to tell his love. I am sorry for him." 

" Alas ! 'tis no fault of mine, Caterina, sai" 

"You know; perhaps he is poor; perhaps his feelings are 
hurt in all these rich houses, where he follows you. You are 
good. Spare him. He looks so unhappy." 

" What can I do ? He is, Hke myself, a victim of fate, of 
fatality." 

"Of what fatality?" 

" He is ill-starred, he deserves to be wealthy and handsome, 
and that is just what he is not. I ought to have come into the 
world either as an ignorant peasant or as queen of a people to 
whose happiness I could have ministered. We console our- 
selves by a correspondence which gives vent to our souls." 

" But he will fall over head and ears in love." 

" I cannot love any one : it is not given to me to love ; " and 
Lucia fell into a rigid, all but statuesque attitude, like a Greek 
heroine caught in the act of posing. Caterina neither asked 
her why nor wherefore. In Lucia's presence she was under the 
spell that fantastic divagations sometimes exercise over calm 
reasonable beings. 

" Caterina, I have begun to visit the poor in their homes. 
It is an interesting humanitarian occupation. It is the source 
of the sweetest emotion. Will you come with me? " 

" I will ask Andrea." 

" Must you needs ask his permission for everything? Have 
you bartered your liberty so far as that ? " 

"5^/, a wife!" 

" Tell me, Caterina, what is the happiness, the charm of 
married life ? " 

" I can't explain it." 

" Tell me why is marriage the death of love." 

" I don't know, Lucia." 

" Then marriage is to be the eternal mystery of Ufo ? " 

" Who tells you these things, Lucia? " 

** My own heart, Caterina," replied the other, rising. 



56 FANTASY. 

Then, assuming a solemn tone and raising her hand to swing 
it swordwise through the air " One thing only exists for 
certain." 

"What?" 

" Passion, it's the only reality." 

" The favoured mortal is always a young man," remarked 
the Commendatore Gabrielli, his mouth twitching with a 
nervous tic to which he was subject. 

" But that is not my ideal," replied the enchanting voice of 
Giovanna .... "I have always felt a tacit contempt for 
those idlers, deficient alike in character and talent, who waste 
their youth and their fortune on gambling and horses and 
other less worthy pursuits . . . ." She pretended to blush 
behind her fan. 

" Well, Signora Giovanna, you are perhaps right. But a 
reformed rake makes a good husband." 

** I do not think so, Commendatore ; with all due deference, 
I am not of your opinion. Think of Angela Toraldo's 
husband ; what a pearl ! I hear that if she weeps or complains 
he boxes her ears. A horror ! These young husbands are 
brutes. Look at Andrea Lieti ! how roughly he must treat 
that poor little Caterina ! . . . . While with a man of mature 
age '; 

*' Has this often occurred to you, Signora Giovanna ? " 

" Always .... A grave man who takes life seriously ; who 
lives up to a political idea . . . ." 

*' You would know how to grace a political salon," he mur- 
mured, gazing at her. 

She shut her fan and shrugged her beautiful shoulders, as 
if they were about to take leave of their crimson cuirasse. 
The Commendatore's catlike eyes blazed behind his gold 
spectacles. Giovanna again plied her fan ; it fluttered caress- 
ingly, humbly. 

" Oh 1 I am not worthy such honour .... He would 
shir.e ; and I should modestly reflect his light. We women 



FANTASY. 57 

love to be the secret inspirers of great men. Could you read 
our hearts . . . ." 

And she leant on his arm, against his shoulder, smiling 
perpetually, smiling to the verge of weariness, while the bald 
head of the Commendatore shone with a crimson glow, 

" What madness," whispered Lucia Altimare, sinking on the 
divan. " Perfect madness, for which you are responsible. I 
ought not to have waltzed . . . ." 

" Pray forgive me," said Andrea, apparently embarrassed, 
but really bored. He was standing before her in a deferential 
attitude. 

" It is your fault," she said, looking up at him through her 
lashes. " You are strong and robust, and an odd fancy came 
into your head. I ought to have refused .... At first it 
was all right, a delicious waltz .... You bore me along like 
a feather, then my head began to whirl .... The room swam 
round, the lights danced in my brain .... I lost my 
breath . . . ." 

*' May I get you something to drink ?" 

*' No," she answered curtly at his interruption of her elo- 
quence. 

"A glass of punch? Punch is a capital remedy," he con- 
tinued hurriedly ; " it warms, and it's the best possible restora- 
tive. I am going to have some. Pray drink something, unless 
you mean to overwhelm me with remorse. All our ills come 
from the stomach. Shall I call Caterina to insist on your 
taking it ? " 

" Caterina did not see us come in here?" 

"I think not, she was dancing with my brother-in-law, 
Federigo Passalancia. Caterina is looking her loveliest to- 
night, isn't she?" 

But Lucia Altimare made no answer ; she turned extremely 
pale, breathed heavily, and then slipped off the divan on to 
the floor, in a dead faint. 

Andrea swore inwardly, with more energy than politeness, 



S8 PANT AS Y, 

against all women who waltz, and at the folly of men who 
waltz with them. 



III. 

Every morning, Lucia Altimare, draped in the folds of a red, 
yellow, and blue striped dressing-gown, fastened round her 
waist and kilted up on one side with gold cord, her sleeves 
tucked up over bare wrists, an immense white pocket-hand- 
kerchief in her hand as a duster, proceeded, after dismissing 
her maid, to dust her little apartment, a bedroom and a small 
sitting-room, within whose walls her father allowed her com- 
plete liberty. The dainty office, accomplished methodically 
and always at the same hour, after she had dressed and prayed, 
was a source of infinite delight to her. It appeared to her 
that the act of bending her great pride and her little strength 
to manual labour, was both pious and meritorious. When the 
moment for dusting the furniture came round, she would tell 
her maid, with a sense of condescension : 

" You may go, Giulietta, I will do it myself." 

" But, Signorina . . . ." 

" No, no, let me do it myself. " 

And she felt that she was kind and humane to Giulietta, 
sparing her the trouble of dusting, and at the same time proving 
that she did not disdain to share her humble labour. 

" In God's sight we are all equal. If my strength permitted, 
I would make my own bed, but I am so delicate ! If I stoop 
too much, I get palpitations," she thought, as she tied on her 
black apron and tucked up the train of her Turkish dressing- 
gown. 

But the greatest pleasure, the pleasure that thrilled her every 
nerve, to which she owed her most exquisite sensations, was 
derived from dawdling over each separate object that had 
become part of her existence. A charm, wherewith to recall 
the past, to measure the future, to pass from one dream to 
another, whereon to weave a fantastic web. 



FANTASY, 59 



The cold frigid aspect of Lucia's bedroom reminded her 
her old dream of becoming a nun, of falling sick of mysticism 
of dying in the ecstasy of the Cross. The room was uncar- 
peted, and the bare floor, with its red tiles, had an icy polish. 
The bed, whose wrought-iron supports Lucia rubbed so inde- 
fatigably, had no curtains. Under its plain cover, with its 
single, meagre little pillow, it was the typical bed of ascetic 
maidenhood. Next to the bed, in a frame draped in black 
crape, hung a Byzantine Madonna and Child, painted on a 
background of gilded wood. She wore an indigo dress, a red 
mantle, and her eyes were strangely dilated, while one hand 
clutched the Infant Jesus : a picture expressive of the first 
stammerings of the alphabet of art. Lucia always kissed it 
before she dusted it ; the lugubrious drapery made her dream 
of the mother she had hardly known, and from whom the 
Madonna came to her. Her lips would seek the traces of 
maternal kisses on the narrow, diaphanous, waxen-hued hand 
of the Virgin. 

By the side of the bed, under the Madonna, stood a wooden 
prie-dieu of mediaeval workmanship, which Lucia had bought 
of a second-hand dealer. The family arms were effaced from 
its wooden escutcheon. Lucia, instead of replacing them by 
the alte onde in teinpesta^ the polar star and the azure field of 
Casa Altimare, had had it graven with a death's-head and the 
motto *' Nihil," which she had adopted for her own seal. She 
had to kneel down on its red velvet cushion to polish it, and 
then mechanically she would say another prayer. She could 
hardly tear herself away from it. When she did so, it was 
to pass' the handkerchief over the tiny chest of drawers 
that she had taken with her to school. That brought back 
some of her past life to her, the books hidden in the folds of 
the linen, the little images from Lourdes mixed up with 
the ribbons, the sweets that she did not eat. On the top of 
this chest of drawers were a red silk pincushion, covered with 
finest lace which had been given to her by Ginevra Avig- 
liana, the most patient needlewoman of them all and 



ism, f 



60 FANTASY. 

Thomas k Kempis's *' Imitation," its margin finely annotated 
in ink red as blood. When she passed the handkerchief over 
the book, she read a few words in it. 

Her mind would run in another channel when she found 
herself in front of the large mirror in her wardrobe, where she 
could see herself from head to foot. She looked at herself, 
perceiving that her gown wrinkled about the bodice, and re- 
flecting that she must have become much thinner lately. She 
joined her fingers round her narrow waist, remarking inwardly 
that had she chosen she might have made it as slender as a 
reed .... Then she posed in profile, with her train pushed 
on one side, and her head a little inclined towards the right 
shoulder. She had once seen the fantastic portrait of a thin 
unknown woman in white, in this attitude .... Lucia liked 
to imagine that the unknown lady had suffered much, then 
died ; and that afterwards the unknown atom had joined the 
Great Unknown. The same fancies followed her to the oval 
mirror on her dressing-table. A thin white covering hung over 
it from the night before, put there because it is unlucky to 
look into an uncovered mirror the last thing at night. She 
threw the large white handkerchief, now no longer white, into 
a corner and supplied herself with another, with which she 
slowly rubbed the glass. She was tired, and sat gazing at her 
image her forehead, her eyes, and her lipsintently, as if 
seeking to discover something in them. Every now and then 
she took up a bottle of musk from the table and sniffed it, 
looking at herself to mark the intense pallor and the tears 
induced by the pungent odour. In the drawer there was a 
little box of rouge and a hare's foot to lay it on with ; but she 
did not use it. One morning she had slightly tinted one 
cheek, it had disgusted her. She preferred her pallor, the 
warm pallor of ivory, that " white heat of passion," as a raptu- 
rous poet, oi unrecognised merit, had described it. A butter- 
fly was pinned to the frame of the looking-glass. His wings 
were expanded, for he was a cotillon butterfly of blue and 
silver gauze, a memento of the first ball her father had taken 



FANTASY. Cj 

her to last year. Every morning a puff of her breath caused 
his wings to flutter, while his little body stuck fast to the 
mirror. That motionless, artificial butterfly reminded her of 
certain artificial lives, full of noble aspirations, but lacking the 
energy, the power to rise. Then she wondered if she were very 
interesting or very ugly, when she looked sad ; and she pos- 
tured before the mirror in her most melancholy manner, 
calculating the effect of the white brow, half hidden beneath 
the wealth of wavy hair, the depth of sadness in her eyes, the 
dark colouring of the underlid which accentuated their expres- 
sion, the straight line of the profile, the angle drawn by the 
bitter smile that sharpened the curves of her lips. A sigh of 
satisfaction escaped her. In her sad mood, she might inspire 
interest, if not love. Love she did not want. What would 
be the good of it ? The capacity for loving was denied her. 

Then came the turn of the bottles on the toilet-table. 
They contained, for the most part, those fantastic remedies 
which a quasi-romantic science has voted sovereign against 
the most modern of maladies, mock nevrose. In one bottle, 
chloral for insomnia, chloral to produce a sleep full of exquisite 
and painful hallucinations, the very disease of fantasy. In 
another, digitalis, wherewith to calm palpitations of the heart. 
In another, a beautiful one, enamelled, with a golden stopper, 
" English " salts wherewith to recall the fainting spirit. And 
at last, in one, a white limpid fluid morphine. "For sleep 
.... sleep," murmured Lucia, while she reviewed her little 
pharmacy. 

After the toilet-table, she passed her handkerchief over the 
second wardrobe, the one containing her linen, and dusted the 
three chairs. Then having finished, she cast a look round, to 
assure herself that her cell, as she called it, had assumed the 
cold, spotless appearance she desired to give it. Her fantasy 
was assuaged; she addressed herself aloud to her room: 
*' Peace, peace, sleep on, inert and inanimate, until to-night, 
when my tortured spirit will return to fill thy space with 
anguish." 



\ 



62 FANTASY, 

She passed into the sitting-room, her favourite resort, the 
room where her Hfe was passed. The dark rosewood cabinet, 
containing five wide deep drawers, was her first stage. Her 
fancy transformed it into a bier. She delicately dusted the 
oxidised silver inkstand, representing a tiny boat, sinking in a 
lake of ink. Then the handkerchief was passed over the 
portrait frames with their hermetically sealed doors, so that no 
one might ever steal a glimpse of the portraits hidden within. 
In reality, they were empty, but the white cardboard backs, 
the void only known to herself, suggested an unknown lover, 
a mystic knight, that fair-haired Knight of the Holy Grail 
whom Elsa had not known how to love; whom she would 
have known how to keep by her side. Gently she brushed the 
dust off a small Egyptian idol with a tiny necklace of blue 
fragments : it was an upright copy of a mummy of the Cheops 
dynasty. It served as a talisman, for these Egyptian idols 
avert the evil of one's destiny. Lucia touched the Bible, 
bound in black morocco, on whose fly-page she had inscribed 
certain memorable dates in her existence, with mysterious 
signs to denote the events to which they referred. With 
reverence she took up the diamond edition of Leopardi, on 
whose crimson binding was inscribed "Lucia," in letters of 
silver. She read in both books, every day, kissing the Bible 
and Leopardi with equal fervour. The ivory penholder, with 
its gold pen ; the sandal-wood paper-knife, on which was 
inscribed the Spanish word AW^ ; the agate seal, that bore the 
same motto as the prie-dieu; the letter-weight, upon which stood 
a porcelain child in its shift; the half-mourning penwiper of 
black cloth, embroidered in white ; all the fantastic playthings 
she had accumulated on her writing-table, were objects of 
equal interest to her. She always spent half an hour at the 
writing-table, with fingers that dallied over their pastime, 
shoulders bent in contemplation, and an imagination that sped 
on wings to unknown heights. 

Then, after the writing-table, came a photograph in a red 
frame, suspended against the wall, a portrait of Caterina, 



FANTASY, 63 

Underneath it hung a hmitier containing fresh flowers, which 
were changed every morning. Caterina contemplated her 
friend with kind serene eyes; the portrait had her own air of 
composure. ICvery morning, in passing the linen over the 
glass, Lucia greeted Caterina: ''Blessed art thou, that 
dreamest not, blessed .... that will never dream." Next 
came a small group in terra-cotta of Mephistopheles and 
Margaret. The guilty, enamoured girl was kneeling in a 
convulsed attitude, with rigid limbs. Her hands clasped the 
prayer-book that she could not open, her bosom heaved, her 
throat had sunk into her crouching shoulders, her face was 
contorted, her lips convulsed vvith the cry of horror that 
appeared to escape them. Mephistopheles, tall, meagre, 
diabolic, with a subtle, jeering smile, his hand in the act of 
making magnetic passes over her head, stood behind her ; a 
great, splendid, crushing Mephistopheles. Whenever she 
looked at Margaret ,she felt herself blush with desire ; when- 
ever she looked at Mephistopheles, Lucia paled with fear : 
with vague indefinite desire of sin ; with vague fear of punish- 
ment ; a mysterious struggle that took place in the very depths 
of her being. It was Lucia's hand that had carved in crooked, 
shaky characters, on the wooden pedestal, Et ne nos indticas in 
ientationem. When she came to the low table on which the 
albums stood, she sat down, for her fatigue grew upon her. 
She turned their leaves ; there were a few portraits girl friends, 
relations, three or four young men. Among the latter, by way 
of eccentricity, was a faded photograph of Petrofi Sandor, the 
Hungarian poet who fell in love with a dead maiden. Lucia 
never saw that portrait but through a haze of tears, when she 
pondered over a love so sad, so strange, and so funereal. 
Then she opened her book of " Confessions." Its pages were 
scribbled over by Lucia herself, by the lady who taught her 
German, by the Professor of History, by Caterina, Giovanna 
Casacalenda, and others. There were in response to the 
wildest questions, the most irrelevant, silly, or eccentric 
answers. Giovanna's was stupid, Lucia's mad and fantastic, 



64 FANTASY, 

Caterina's honest and collected, the Professor's insane, the 
German teacher's sentunental, Alberto Sanna's fluctuating and 
uncertain. Lucia lingered here and there to read one of 
them. Then she put that album aside and opened another, 
her favourite, the dearest, the handsomest, the best beloved ; 
a faded rose was gummed on the first page, underneath it was 
a line from Byron. On the next, a little wreath of violets ; in 
their centre, a date and a line of notes of interrogation ; 
farther on, the shadowy profile of a woman, barely sketched 
in, signed " Clara." And pell-mell, dried flowers, verses, 
thoughts, landscapes, sketches, an American postage-stamp, a 
scarabaeus crushed into the paper, two words written with 
gold ink. 

She smiled, revelling in melancholy, as she turned these 
pages. Then she left the albums, and stroked the head of a 
bronze lizard that lay beside them on the table. She had a 
great fondness for lizards, snakes, and toads, thinking them 
beautiful and unfortunate. 

The grand piano, littered with music, was a long business. 
When she passed the duster over the shining wood, she half 
closed her eyelids, as if she felt the caressing contact of satin ; 
then she passed it over the keys, drawing from them a sort ot 
formless, discordant music, in whose endless variations she 
revelled. Lucia neither played well, nor much ; but when she 
met with a philharmonic friend, she would instal her at the 
piano, and herself in a Viennese rocking-chair, where she 
would close her eyes, beat time with her head and listen. 
Voiceless and spell-bound, she was one of the best and most 
ecstatic of listeners. Most of the music lying on the table was 
German ; she specially affected the sacred harmonies of Bach 
and Haydn. But A'ida was always open on the reading-desk. 
Then there was the embroidery-frame, a stole for the church 
of the Madonna, her Madonna of the Bleeding Heart. Next to 
it stood a microscopic work-table, on which lay the beginning 
of a useless, spidery fabric. The chairs, the pouffs^ the little 
armchairs, were all in diff'erent styles and colours, for she 



FANTASY. 65 

loatlied uniformity. Her first prize for literature, a gold 
medal set in white satin, hung on the wall ; underneath it was 
her first childish essay in writing. A bookshelf contained a 
few worn school-books, some novels, and the Lives of the 
Saints. And last of all came a large tea-rose with red marks, 
like blood-stains, on its petals, gummed into a velvet frame, 
the Rosa inystica. When she had finished, Lucia cast aside 
her duster, washed her hands, swallowed a few drops of syrup , 
diluted with water to clear her throat of dust, returned to thef 
sitting-room, threw herself down on her sofa, and let her I 
fancies have free play. 



IV. 

Caterina Lieti entered, looking tiny in her furs; with her 
pink face peeping from under her fur cap. 

*' Make haste, dear ; it's late." 

" No, dear ; it's no good going to my poor people before 
four ; it's hardly two o'clock." 

" We are going elsewhere." 

"Where?" 

** Somewhere where we shall amuse ourselves." 

"I'm not going, I don't want to amuse myself; I am more 
inclined to cry." 

" Why ? " 

" I don't know .... I feel miserable." 

" Oh ! poor, poor thing. Now listen to me, you'd better 
come with me and try to amuse yourself. You will injure 
your health by always staying in this dark room, in this per- 
fumed atmosphere." 

" My health is gone, Caterina," said the other in a comfort- 
less tone ; " every day I get thinner." 

" Because you do not eat, dear ; you ought to eat ; Andrea 
says so too." 

" What does Andrea say," said Lucia, in a tone of indiffer- 
ence, which annoyed Caterina. 

E 



66 Paj^tasV. 

" That you should eat nutritious food, drink plenty of wine 
and eat underdone meat." 

*' I am not a cannibal. That kind of diet does very well 
for muscular organisms, but not for fragile nerve-tissues like 
mine." 
i " But Andrea says that nerves are cured by beefsteaks." 
! ** It's no good trying ; I couldn't digest them ; I can't digest 
anything now." 

" Well, do dress, and come with me. The cold is quite 
reviving." 

"Whereto?" 

*' I won't tell you. Trust me ! " 

" I will trust you .... I am tempted by the unknown. I 
will drag this weary existence about wheresoever you please. 
Will you wait for me ? " 

She returned in half an hour, dressed in a short black dress, 
softened by lace accessories. A black hat, with a broad velvet 
brim, shaded her brow and eyes. 

** Shall we walk ?" asked Caterina. 

*' We will walk ; if I get tired we can call a cab." 

They walked, entering the Toledo from Montesanto. The 
tramontana was blowing hard, but the sun flooded the streets 
with light. Men, with red noses and hands in their pockets, 
were walking quickly. Behind their short black veils the 
ladies' eyes were full of tears and their lips were chapped by 
the wind. Caterina drew her furs closer to her. 

*' Are you cold, Lucia ? " 

'* Strange to say, I am not cold." 

People turned to gaze at the two attractive-looking women, 
one small and rosy, with clear eyes and an expression of per- 
fect composure, attired like a dainty Russian ; the other, tall 
and slight, with marvellous eyes set in a waxen pallor. 

A gentleman who passed them in a hired carriage, bowed 
profoundly to both. 

*' Galimberti . . . . " murmured Lucia, in a weary voice. 
, <* Where can he be going at this hour ? " 



" I don't know .... to his lesson .... I suppose." 

" Do you know what Cherubina Friscia told me, a few days 
ago?" 

" Have you seen her again ? " 

"Yes, I went there, because I heard that the Directress was 
ill. Friscia told me that they were very dissatisfied with 
Galimberti. He is always late for his lesson now ; he either 
leaves before the hour is up, or misses it altogether." 

"Does he .... ?" indifferently. 

" Besides, he is not so good a teacher as he used to be. He 
takes no interest in his class, is careless in correcting the com- 
positions, and has become prolix and hazy as an exponent .... 
In short, a mere ruin." 

" Poor Galimberti 1 .... I told you that he was an unlucky 
creature. He'll end badly." 

" Forgive me if I ask you .... not from curiosity, but for 
friendship's sake .... does he still write to you ? " 

" Yes, every day ; he writes me all his troubles." 

" And you to him ? " 

*' I write him a long letter, every day/' 

"And is it true that he comes to your house every day, to 
give you a lesson in history ? " 

'' Yes, every day." 

" And does he stay long?" 

" Yes, naturally. We don't talk only of history, but of senti- 
ment .... of the human aftections ... of religion * . . " 

" Of love ? " 

"Of love too.' 

" Forgive me for importuning you. Galimberti is very much 
in love. Perhaps it is for the sake of going to you that he gets 
there so late ; perhaps when he misses his lessons there alto- 
gether, it is because he stays so long with you. You who are 
so good, think what it means for him." 

" It's nothing to do with me ; if it is his destiny, it is 
fatal." 

" But does your father approve of these long interviews ? " 



68 FANTASY. 

" My father ! He doesn't care a pin for me, he is a heartless 
man." 

" Don't say that, Lucia." 

" A heartless man ! If my health is bad, he doesn't care. 
He laughs at my piety .... Do you know how he describes 
me, when he speaks of me at all ? ' That interesting poseuse, 
my daughter.' You can't get over that ; it sums up my father." 
Caterina made no reply. " That Gahmberti will end by be- 
coming a nuisance. Were he not so unhappy, I would send 
him about his business." 

" Sai^ Lucia, a girl ought not to receive young men alone 
.... it is not nice .... it is playing with fire." 

'^ Ne fiamma d'esto incetidio ?ion m'assale^' she quoted. 

They had arrived at the Cafe de I'Kurope, where the wind 
was blowing furiously. Caterina, turning to protect herself 
against it, saw the cab in which Galimberti sat with the hood 
drawn up to hide him, following them step by step. 

" Dio mio I now he is following us ... . Galimberti .... 
What will people think ? . . . . Lucia, what shall we do ? " 

" Nothing, dear. I can't prevent it ; it is magnetism, you 
see." 

*' Now he is missing his lesson for the sake of following us." 

" It is no good struggling against fate, Caterina." 

Caterina was silent, for she knew not what to say. 

It was three o'clock when they entered the Samazzaro 
Theatre, all lit up by gas, as if for an evening entertainment. 
Nearly all the boxes were occupied, and a hum of suppressed 
chitchat arose towards the gilded ceiling. From time to time 
there was a peal of irrepressible laughter. People who, in 
groups of threes and fours, invaded the parterre were dazed by 
the artificial light. The gas was gruesome after the brilliant 
light of the streets. The ladies were all in dark morning 
costumes ; most of them wore large hats, some were wrapped 
in furs. There was the click of cups in one box where the 
Duchess of Castrogiovanni and the Countess Filomarina were 



FANTASY. 69 

drinking tea, to warm themselves. Little Countess Vanderhoot 
hid her snub nose in her muff, trying to warm it by blowing as 
hard as she could. Smart Nea;oolitans, with their fur coats 
thrown back to show the gardenia in their button-hole, with 
dark gloves and light cravats, moved about the parterre and 
the stalls and began to pay a few visits in the boxes. 

" What is going on here?" asked Lucia, as she took her 
seat in Box i, first tier. 

" You'll see, you'll see." 

" But what is that boarding for, which enlarges the stage, 
and entirely covers the place for the orchestra ? " 

*' There's a fencing tournament to-day." 

*' Ah ! " exclaimed Lucia, without much show of interest. 

" Andrea is to have three assaults." 

" Ah ! " repeated the other, in the same tone. 

The inaitre d' amies seated himself at the end of the stage, 
next to a table, laden with foils and jackets. Every one in the 
parterre immediately resumed his seat, in profound silence. 
The theatre was crowded. 

The maitre d'armes was a Count Alberti, tall, powerfully 
built, bald, with bushy grey whiskers and serious mien. He 
was dressed in black, and wore his overcoat buttoned to the 
chin. His hand was resting on a foil. 

" Look ! what a fine type," said Lucia ; " a fine imposing 
figure." 

The first couple advanced to the front of the stage. They 
were the fencing-master, Giovanelli, and a Baron Mattel. The 
latter was tall and finely proportioned. His beard was trimmed 
to a short point, his cropped hair formed another point in the 
middle of his forehead ; he wore a tight-fitting costume of 
maroon cloth, with a black scarf. He at once captured the 
ladies' favour ; there was a slight stir in the boxes. 

" A Huguenot cavalier, that's what he looks like," murmured 
Lucia, who was becoming excited. 

The fencers, after saluting the ladies and the general "company, 
bowed to each other. Then the match began promptly and 



70- FANTASY. 

brilliantly. The fencing-master was short and stout, but uncom- 
monly agile; the Baron, slight, cool, and admirable for ease and 
precision. They did not open their lips. After each thrust, Mattel 
fell into a sculpturesque attitude, which thrilled the company 
with admiration. He was touched twice. He touched his 
adversary four times. Then they shook hands, and laid down 
their foils. A burst of applause rang throughout the house. 

" Do you like it ? " whispered Caterina to Lucia. 

" Oh, so much ! " she answered, quite absorbed by the 
pleasure of it. 

" There is Giovanna Casacalenda." 

'' Where ? 

" On the second tier. No. 3." 

" Ah ! of course. Behind her is the Commendatore Gabrielli. 
Poor Giovanna." 

" The marriage is officially announced. But she does not 
look unhappy." 

" She dissembles." 

The second couple Lieti, amateur, and Galeota, pro- 
fessional appeared and placed themselves in position. Andrea 
was dressed in black cloth, with a yellow scarf and shoes, and 
chamois-leather gloves. His athletic figure showed to its 
utmost advantage in perfect vigour and harmony of form and 
line. He smiled up at the box, a second. Caterina had 
shiunk back a little out of sight, with eyes all but overflowing. 

'' Your husband is handsome to-day," said Lucia, gravely. 
'' He looks like a gladiator." 

Caterina nodded her thanks. Galeota, dark, slight and 
meagre, attacked slowly- 

Andrea defended himself phlegmatically ; motionless they 
azed into each other's eyes ; now and again a cunning thrust, 
cunningly parried. The audience was absorbed in profound 
attention. 

" Sii^ su, on, on," Lucia cried, under her breath, trembling 
in her eagerness, and crushing her cambric handkerchief with 
nervous fingers. 



FANTASY. . 71 

The assault went on as calmly and scientifically as a game 
of chess, ending in two or three master-thrusts, miraculously 
parried. The two fencers, as they shook hands, smiled at each 
other. They were worthy antagonists. The applause which 
followed was wrung from the audience by the perfection of 
their method. 

" Applaud your husband ! Are you not proud of him ? " 

* Yes," replied Caterina, blushing. 

A visitor entered the box, it was Alberto Sanna, a cousin of 
Lucia's. 

" Good-morning, Signora Lieti. What a triumph for your 
lord and master ! " 

Caterina bowed and smiled. Lucia held out two fingers to 
her cousin, who kept them in his. He was a rather stunted 
little creature, slightly bent in his tight overcoat ; his temples 
were hollow, his cheekbones high, and his moustache thin 
and scanty; yet he had the air of a gentleman. His appearance 
was sickly and his smile uncertain. He spoke slowly, hissing 
out his syllables as if his breath were short. He informed the 
ladies that cold was bad for him ; that he could not get warm, 
even in his fur coat; that he had only looked in, just by a mere 
accident, to avoid the cold outside. He was fortunate in 
having met them. He entreated them, for charity's sweet 
sake, not to send him away. He added : 

" I met your Professor of History, Lucia. He was walking 
up and down, smoking. Why don't he come in ?" 

" I don't know. Probably because he doesn't care to see 
the fencing." 

" Or because he hasn't the money to pay for a ticket," 
persisted Sanna, with the triumphant malevolence of morbid 
natures. 

Lucia struck him with the lightning of her glance, but made 
no answer. Caterina was too embarrassed to say anything. 
She looked at the stage ; the fencers were two professionals ; 
they had coarse voices, and arms that mowed the air like 
the poles of the semaphore telegraph. The audience paid 



72 FANTASY. 

small heed. Giovanna Casacalenda talked to her Com- 
mendatore, who was standing behind her, while she cast 
oblique glances at Roberto Gentile, the young officer in the 
brand-new uniform, who occupied a fauteuil underneath her 
box. 

" Do you not fence, Signor Sanna ? " asked Caterina by way 
of conversation. 

" Fence ! " said Lucia, vivaciously, giving her cousin tlt-for- 
tat. " Fence, indeed, when he hasn't breath to say more than 
four words at a time ! " 

The Signora Lieti reddened and trembled, out of sheer pity 
for Sanna's pallor. 

The silence in the box was more embarrassing than ever ; 
then as if it were the most natural thing in the world, Lucia 
separated a gardenia from the bunch in her waistband, and 
gave it to Alberto. A little colour suffused his thin cheeks, 
he coughed weakly. 

"Are you not well, Alberto? . . . " laying her hand upon 
his arm. 

" Not quite, it's the cold," said he, with the whine of a 
sickly child. 

" Have a glass of punch, to warm you }" 

*' It's bad for my chest." 

Caterina, pretending not to hear, gave her whole attention 
to the spectacle. Count Alberti had passed two foils : to 
Galeota, junior, the young fencing-master, and to Lieti. The 
interest of the audience was once more awakened. The younger 
Galeota was a beautiful, graceful youth, with fair, curly hair, 
shining blue eyes, a short wavy beard, and the complexion of 
a fair woman; a well-proportioned figure, habited in ultramarine, 
with a white scarf. Opposite him, stood Andrea Lieti, like a 
calm Colossus. 

" Di'o mio ! " cried Lucia, *' Galeota is like a picture of Our 
Lord ! How sweet and gentle he looks ! If only Andrea 
does not hurt him." But Andrea did not hurt him. It was a 
furious attack, in which the foils bent and squeaked ; at last 



FANTASY. 73 

Galeota's foil broke off at the hilt. Alberti stayed both hands. 
The fencers raised their masks to breathe. 

" How like Galeota is to Corradino of Alcardi ! " exclaimed 
Lucia. " But your husband is a glorious Charles of Anjou." 

The assault began again; hotter and fiercer than ever. 
From time to tinie the deep sonorous voice of Andrea cried, 
Toccato 1 and above the din, the clear resonant tones of 
Galeota rang out, Toccato! The ladies became enthusiastic; 
they seized their opera-glasses and leant over the parapet of 
their boxes, while a thrill of delight moved the whole assembly. 
In Lucia's excitement she closed her teeth over her hand- 
kerchief, and dug her nails into the red velvet upholstery. 
Caterina had again withdrawn into her shady corner. 

" Bravo ! bravo ! " cried the audience with one voice, when 
the assault was over. Lucia leant out of the box and ap- 
plauded ; for the matter of that, many other ladies applauded. 
After all, it was a tournament. Lucia's eyes dilated, her lips 
trembled ; a nervous shiver shook her from time to time. 

"Are you amusing yourself, Lucia?" said Caterina again. 

"Immensely! . . . ." closing her eyes in the flush of her 
enjoyment. 

" Scnti, Alberto ; if it is not too cold, go down and send us 
up something from the buffetP 

" I don't want anything," protested Caterina. 

" Yes, yes, you do ; you shall drink a glass of Marsala, with 
a biscuit." 

" I will have anything to please you," assented Caterina, to 
avoid discussion. 

" Send an ice for me, Alberto." 

" In this cold weather? I shiver to think of it." 

"I am burning; feel my hand." And she put the poor 
creature's finger in the opening of her glove. "Now, go and 
send me an ice at once. Take care of draughts .... That 
poor Alberto is not long for this life," she added, addressing 
Caterina, when he was gone, 

"Wiiynot?" 



74 FANTASY. 

" He is threatened with consumption. His mother and two 
sisters died of it. Don't you see how thin he is ? " 

" Then don't be cruel to him." 

*'I? Why, I'm devotedly attached to him. I sympathise 
with suffering of every kind. All the people about me are 
sickly creatures." 

"Andrea would say that such an atmosphere cannot but be 
injurious to your health." 

" Oh ! how strong your Andrea is ! That is what I call 
strength. You saw to-day that he was the strongest of them 
all. But he never comes to see me.'' 

" Sai, he never has a moment to spare. And he is afraid of 
talking too loudly of making your head ache." 

" He is not fond of musk, I fancy ? " And she smiled a 
strange smile. 

" Perfumes send the blood to his head. I v/ill tell him to 
call on you." 

''^ SeiiH, Caterina, strength like his is almost overwhelming. 
Does it not almost frighten you? Are you never afraid of 
him?" 

Caterina looked astonished, as she replied : " Afraid ! . . . . 
I do not understand you .... Why should I be afraid ? " 

" I don't know," said the other, shrugging her shoulders 
crossly. " I must eat this ice, for here comes Alberto 
again." 

During this conversation the performance continued alter- 
nately interesting and tiresome. Connoisseurs opined that the 
tournament was a great success, and the Neapolitan school 
had been worthily represented. The Filomarina averred, with 
tlie audacity of a Titianesque beauty, that Galeota was an 
Antinous. The Marchesa Leale, a great friend of Baron 
Mattel's, was enraptured. She was seated quietly by her hus- 
band's side; she wore a badge a brooch representing two 
crossed foils that the Baron had presented to her. On the 
latter's scarf was embroidered a red rose, the Marches:i's 
embleni, 



FANTASY. 75 

In the excitement incidental to the clashing of swords and 
the triumph of physical strength, Giovanna Casacalenda, with 
flushed cheeks and moist lips, began to neglect her Commen- 
datore, and to cast enthusiastic and incendiary glances at 
Roberto Gentile. Many ladies regretted having exchanged 
their fans for muffs in the increasingly heated atmosphere. 
By degrees a vapour ascended towards the roof, and excited 
fancy conjured up visions of duels, gleaming foils, shining 
swords, secret thrusts, and applauding beauty. A warlike 
ardour reigned in boxes and parterre. 

"Has the ice refreshed you, Lucia?" inquired her cousin. 

" No, I burn more than ever ; there was lire in it." 

" Perhaps you would feel better outside." 

"It will be over in a few minutes," observed Caterina. 
" There is to be a set-to between my husband and Mattel." 

The set-to proved to be the most interesting part of the per- 
formance. Lieti and Mattel, the two most powerful champions, 
stood facing each other. The audience held its breath. During 
five minutes the two fencers stood facing each other; they 
toyed with their foils, indulging in a flourish of salutes, y^/;?/^;-, 
thrusts, parries, and plastic attitudes a perfect symphony, 
whose theme was the chivalric salutation. Applause without 
end ; then again silence, for the assault-at-arms was about to 
begin. Not a word or sound was uttered by either fencer. 
They were equally agile, ready, scientific, and full of fire 
parrying with unflagging audacity, and liberating their foils as 
in the turn of a ring. They were well matched. Lieti touched 
Mattel five times ; Mattei touched Lieti four times. They 
divided the honours. In applauding the two champions the 
public broke through the cordon. A handkerchief fell at 
Andrea's feet. He hesitated a moment; then, without raising 
his eyes^ stuck it in the scarf round his waist. The ladles* 
gloves were torn to shreds in the storm of applause. 

When he joined them in the box, Andrea found the ladles 
standing up, waiting for him. 

" Good evening, Slgnorlna Altimare ; good evening, Caterina, 



76 FANTASY. 

Shall we go ? " He spoke curtly and crossly while he helped 
his wife, who looked confused, to put on her furs. Then he 
burst out : 

" Caterina, why did you behave so ridiculously ? It is so 
unlike you to be eccentric to make a laughing-stock of your- 
self?" 

She kept her hands in her muff and her eyes cast down, and 
made no reply. 

"You, a sensible little woman? Are we living in the 
Middle Ages ? Ferdio, to expose oneself to ridicule ! " 

Caterina. turned pale and bit her lip ; she would not cry, and 
had no voice left to answer with. Lucia leant against the door- 
post, listening. 

" You are talking about the handkerchief, Signor Andrea ? " 
she put in, slowly. 

"Just so ... . The handkerchief. A pretty conjugal 
amenity ! " 

" It was I who threw the handkerchief, Signor Andrea, in 
my enthusiasm. You were wonderful to-day the first cham- 
pion of the tournament.'' 

Andrea had not a word to say. He calmed down at once, 
with a vague smile. Caterina breathed freely once more. 

Alberto Sanna returned and offered his arm to Caterina ; 
Andrea assisted Lucia in putting on her cloak. She, with face 
uplifted towards his, her eyes, through their long lashes, fixed 
on his, and a slight quiver in her nostrils, leant on him imper- 
ceptibly, just sufficiently to graze his shoulder, as she drew on 
her coat-sleeves. 



" Is it you, Galimberti ? Pray come in.*' 

"Am I not disturbing you?" and, as usual, he stumbled 
over the rug, and then sat down, hat in hand, one glove off 
and the other on, but unbuttoned. 

"You never disturb me." Her tone was the cold, mono- 
tonous one of ill-lmmour. 



I^ANIASY. 77 

**You were thinking?" ventured the dwarf, after a short 
silence. 

" Yes, I was thinking .... but I don't remember about 
what." 

" Have you been out to-day ? It is a lovely morning." 

" And I'm so cold. I am always cold when the weather is 
warm, and vice versa^ 

" Strange creature ! " 

"Eh?" 

" I beg your pardon." 

"And about yourself, Galimberti. Have you been to the 
College to-day to give your lesson ? " 

" Yes, I went there, although I felt so sad, and so disin- 
clined to teach." 

" Very sad and why ? " But the tone was indifferent. 

He stroked his forehead with his ungloved hand. She sat 
with her back to the window, but the light shone straight on 
his face, which looked yellow and faded. Occasionally there 
appeared to be a squint in his eyes. 

"Yesterday . . . ." he began, "yesterday, you did not 
deign to write to me." 

" Yesterday .... What did I do yesterday . . . . ? Oh ! 
I remember. Alberto Sanna came to see me." 

"He .... comes .... often .... to see you . . . . 
does he not?" 

" He is my cousin," she replied, coldly. 

Another halt in the conversation. He went on, mechanically 
fingering the gloves he had not put on. Lucia unwound a cord 
of the silken fringe of the low chair in which, with face up- 
turned, she was lying. 

" Shall I give you your history lesson to-day?" 

" No. History is useless, like everything else " 

" Are you too sad ? " 

" I'm not even sad I'm indifferent. I do not care to think." 

" So that forgive me for mentioning it I must not hope 
for a letter from you to-morrow ? " 



73 FANTASY. 

" I don't know .... I don't think I shall be able to 
write." 

"But those letters were my only consolation," lamented 
the dwarf. 

" A fleeting consolation." 

" I am unhappy, so unhappy." 

" We're all unhappy " sententiously, and without looking 
at him. 

" I fear that they no longer like me at the College," he went 
on, as if talking to himself. " I always find myself confronted 
by such icy faces. That Cherubina Friscia hates me. She is 
a canting hypocrite, who weighs every word I speak. She 
makes a note in her handbook when I'm only a little late. I 
don't know how it is, but sometimes I forget the hour. My 
memory is getting so weak." 

" So much the better for you. I can never forget." 

" And besides, the Tricolors of this year are lazy and inso- 
lent. They contradict me, refuse to write on the subjects I 
give them, and interrupt me with the most impertinent ques- 
tions. Every now and then I lose the thread of my discourse, 
and then they giggle so that I can never find it again .... 
I'm done for, Signorina Lucia, I'm done for. I no longer 
enjoy teaching. I think .... I think there is intrigue at work 
against me at the College, a frightful, terrible, mysterious con- 
spiracy that will end in my destruction." He rolled his fierce, 
scared eyes, injected with blood and bile, as if he were taking 
stock of the enemies against whom he had to defend 
himself. 

" The remedy, my dear Galimberti, is a simple one," said 
Lucia with childlike candour. 

" Speak, oh speak, you're my good angel .... I will obey 
you in everything." 

" Shake the dust from off your sandals, and leave. Give 
them due warning." 

Galimberti was so much surprised uiat he hesitated. 

** Is not liberty dear to you? "she continued. **Are you 



FANTASY, 79 

not nauseated by the stifling atmosphere you live in ? There 
is a means of reasserting your independence." 

" True," he murmured. He did not dare to confess to her 
that leaving the aristocratic College would mean ruin and 
starvation to him. Thence he derived the chief part of his 
income through them he obtained a few private lessons at the 
houses of his old pupils, by means of which he augmented the 
mite on which he lived, he in Naples, and his mother and 
sister in his native province. Without this, there would only 
remain to him an evening class for labouring people, by which 
he gained sixty francs a month : not enough to keep three 
people from dying of hunger. He was already too much 
ashamed of appearing to her, ugly, old, and unfortunate, with- 
out owning to being poverty-stricken besides. 

" True," he repeated despairingly. 

"Why don't you write to the Directress? If there be a 
conspiracy, she ought to be informed of it." 

" There is a conspiracy .... I feel it in the air about me 
.... I will write .... yes .... in a day or two." 

Then there was silence. Lucia stroked the folds of hei 
Turkish wrapper. She took up her favourite album and in it 
wrote these lines of Boito : 

^^ V ebete vita 

Vita die c innamora 
Lunga die pare un secolo 
Breve die pare un ora. 



She replaced the album on the table, and the gold pencil- 
case in her pocket* 

*' Will you believe in one thing, Signora Lucia ? " 

*' Scarcely . . . ." 

*'0h ! believe in this sacred truth; the only happy part of 
my life is the time I pass here." 

" Oh ! indeed," she said, without looking at him. 

*' I swear it. Before I arrive here, I am overwhelmed with 



8o PANTASY. 

anxiety, I seem to have so many important things to tell you. 
When I get to the door, I forget them all. I am afraid my 
brain is getting weak. Then time flies ; you speak to me ; I hear 
your voice ; I am here with you, in the room in which you live. 
I am afraid I stay too long ; why don't you send me away ? 
When I leave you, the first puff of wind on the threshold of 
the street-door takes all my ideas away with it, and empties 
my brain, without leaving me the power to hold on to my own 
thoughts." 

"Here is Signor Sanna, Signorinn," announced the maid 
Giulietta. 

" I am going," said the perturbed Professor, rising to take 
his leave. 

'* As you please." She shrugged her shoulders. 
But he did not go, not knowing how to do so, while 
Alberto Sanna entered. The latter, buttoned up to his chin in 
his overcoat, with a red silk handkerchief to protect his throat, 
held a bunch of violets in his hand. Lucia, rising from her 
seat, placed both her hands in his, and dragged him to the 
window, that she might see how he looked. 

" How are you, Alberto ; do you feel well to-day ? " 

" Always the same," he said ; " an unspeakable weakness in 
my limbs." 

*' Did you sleep, last night ? " 

" Pretty well." ' 

" Without any fever ? " 

" I think so ; at least I hadn't those cold shivers or that 
horrid suffocation." 

" Let me feel your pulse. It is weak, but regular, sai" 

" I ate a light breakfast." 

*' Then you ought to feel well." 

" Che ! my stomach can't digest anything." 

*' Like mine, Alberto. What lovely violets ! " 

" I bought them for you. I think you are fond of them ? " 

' I hope you didn't buy them of a flower-girl ? " 

** If I had, then I should not have offered them to you.'* 



FANTASY, %l 

This dialogue took place in the window, while Galimberti 
sat alone and forgotten in his armchair. He sat there without 
raising his eyes, holding an album of photographs in his 
awkwardly gloved hands. He took a long time turning pages 
which held the portraits of persons in whom he could not have 
felt any interest. At last Lucia returned to her rocking-chair, 
and Alberto dragged a stool close up to her. 

''Alberto, you know the Professor? " 

'* I think I have the honour . . . ." 

" We have met before . . . ." the two men said in unison ; 
the Professor in an undertone, the cousin curtly. 

They sat staring at each other, bored by each other's pre 
sence, conscious of being in love with the same woman ; 
Galimberti not less conscious of the necessity of taking his 
leave. Only he did not know how to get up, or what the 
occasion demanded that he should say and do. Lucia appeared 
quite unconscious of what was passing in their minds. She 
sniffed at her violets, and sometimes vouchsafed a word or 
two, especially to her cousin. However, conversation did 
not flow easily. The Professor, when Lucia addressed him, 
replied in monosyllables, starting with the air of a person who 
answers by courtesy, without understanding what is said to 
him. Sanna never addressed Galimberti, so that by degrees 
the trio once more collapsed into a duet. 

" I looked in at your father's rooms before coming to you. 
He was going out. He wanted to persuade me to go with him." 

" He is always going out .... And why didn't you go with 
him ? " 

" It rained this morning ; and I feel a shrinking in my very 
bones from the damp. It's so cosy here, I preferred staying 
with you." 

" Have you no fireplaces at home ? " 

^^ Sat ; those Neapolitan fireplaces that are not meant for 
fire, a cardboard sort of affair. Besides, my servant never 
manages to make me comfortable. I shiver in my own room, 
although it is so thickly carpeted.'* 



S2 FANTASY. 

" Do you light fires at home, GalimbertI ? " 

" No, Signorina ; indeed, I have no fireplace." 

" How can you study in the cold ? " 

" I don't feel the cold when I study." 

** You, Alberto, when you have anything to do, bring it here. 
I will embroider, and you can work." 
' " I never have any writing to do, Lucia. You know your 
father manages all my business. And writing is bad for my 
chest." 

* You could read." 

" Reading bores me ; there's nothing but rubbish in books." 

*'Then we could chat." 

<^ That we could ! You might tell me all your beautiful 
thoughts, which excite the unbounded admiration of every one 
who listens to you. Where do you get your strange thoughts 
from, Lucia?" 
\\ " From the land of dreams," she said, with a smile. 

" The land of dreams ! A land of your own invention, 
surely ! You ought to write these things, Lucia. You have 
the making of an authoress." 

"What would be the good of it; I have no vanity, have I, 
Professor ? I never had any." 

" Never ! An excessive modesty, united to rare talent . . . " 

" Basta, I was not begging for compliments. I was thinking 
of how much I sufi"ered from my usual sleeplessness, last 
night . : . ." 

"I hope you took no chloral?" 

" I refrained from it to please you. I bore with insomnia 
for your sake." 

" Thank you, my angel." I 

Galimberti sat listening to them, while they exchanged lover- 
like glances, gazing at the red frame which held Caterina's 
portrait. 

" I ought to go .... I must go . ..." he kept thinking. 
He felt as if he were nailed to his chair ; as if he had no 
strength to rise from it. He was miserable, for he had just 



FANTASY. . 3 

discovered that there was mud on one of his boots. It appeared 
to him that Lucia was always looking at that boot. It was his 
martyrdom, yet he dared not withdraw from it. 

" And so the thought came to me amid so many others, 
that you, Alberto, need a woman about you." / 

"What sort of a woman a housekeeper? They are 
selfish and odious, I can't abide them." 

" Why, no, I mean a wife." 

" Do you think so ? . . . . How strange ! I should never 
have thought of it." 

*' But the woman whom you need is not like any other. You 
need an exceptional woman." 

" True, how true ! I want an exceptional wife," said Alberto, 
willing to be persuaded. 

*' An exceptional woman. Don't you agree with me, 
Professor ? " 

He started in the greatest perturbation. What could she 
be wanting of him, now ? 

Without awaiting his reply, she continued : 

" You are, dear Alberto, in a somewhat precarious state of 
health ; or rather, your age is itself a pitfall, surrounded as* 
you are with all the temptations of youth. What with balls, 
theatres, supper -parties . . . . " 

"I never go anywhere," he mumbled; "I am too afraid of 
making myself ill." 

*' You do well to be prudent. After all, they are but empty 
pleasures. But at home, in your cold, lonely house, you do 
indeed need a sweet affectionate companion, who would never 
weary of tending you, who would never be bored, never grudge 
you the most tender care. Think of it ! what a flood of light, 
and love, and sweet friendship, within your own walls ! 
Think of the whole life of such a woman, consecrated to 
you ! " 

"And where is such an angel to be met with, Lucia?" he 
said, in an enthusiasm caught from her words, in despair that 
no such paragon was within reach. 



84 FANTASY. 

" Alas ! Alberto, we are all straining after an impossible 
ideal. You, too, are among the multitude of dreamers." 

" I wish I could but meet my ideal," he persisted, with the 
obstinacy of his weak, capricious nature. 

" Seek," said Lucia, raising her eyes to the ceiling. 

*' Lucia, do me a favour." 

"Tell me what it is? .... I beg your pardon, Galimberti, 
would you pass me that peacock fan ? " 

" Do you feel the heat, Signorina Lucia ? " 

** It oppresses me ; I think I am feverish. Do you know 
that peacock feathers are unlucky ? " 

" I never heard it before." 

" Yes, they are iettatrici^ just as branches of heather are 
lucky. Could you get me some ? " 

" To-morrow . . . . " 

*' I was about to say, Lucia," persisted Alberto, holding on to 
his idea, " that there is a favour you could do me. Why not 
write me the beautiful thing you have just said down on 
paper ? I listen to you with delight ; you talk admirably. If 
you would but write these things on a scrap of paper, I would 
put it in this fold of my pocket book, and every time I opened 
it I should remember that I have to find my ideal that's a 
wife." 

" You are a dear, silly fellow," said Lucia, in her good- 
natured manner. " I will give you something better than this 
fleeting idea ; all these things, and more besides, that are quite 
unknown to you, I will write you in a letter." 

"When, when?" 

*' To-day, to-night, or to-morrow morning." ' 

*' No, this evening." 

" Well, this evening ; but don't answer me." 

" I shall answer you." 

*' No, Alberto, your chest is too weak ; it's bad for you to 
stoop. Positively I won't allow it." 

And so the Professor was quite excluded from the intimacy 
of the little duet ; he was evidently in the way. 



FANTASY. 8s 

" What am I doing here, what am I doing here, what am 1 
here for ? " he kept repeating to himself. By this time he had 
succeeded in awkwardly concealing his muddy boot \ but he 
was tormented by a cruel suspicion that his cravat was on one 
side. He dared not raise his finger to it ; and his mind was 
torn by two conflicting griefs : the letter Lucia was going to 
write to her cousin, and the possible crookedness of his cravat. 
The others continued to gaze at each other in silence. On 
Alberto's contemptuous face there appeared to be a note of 
interrogation. He was inquiring tacitly of his cousin : " Is 
this bore going to stay for ever ? " And her eyes made answer : 
" Patience, he will go some time ; he bores me too." 

The strangest part of it all was that Galimberti had a vague 
consciousness of what was passing in their minds, and wanted 
to go, but had not the strength to rise. His spine felt as if it 
were bound to the back of the chair, and there was an unbear- 
able weight in his head. 

" Signorina, here is Signor Andrea Lieti," said Giillietta. 

" This is a miracle." 

" If you reproach me," said Andrea, laughing, " I won't 
even sit down. Good-morning, Alberto ; good-morning, 
Galimberti ! " 

The room seemed to be filled with the strong man's presence, 
by his hearty laugh, and his magnificent strength. Beside 
him, Galimberti, crooked, undersized and yellow; Sanna, 
meagre, worn, pale, consumptive-looking ; Lucia, fragile, thin, 
and languishing, made up a picture of pitiable humanity. 
Galimberti shrank in his chair, bowing his head. Alberto 
Sanna contemplated Andrea from his feet upwards, with 
profound admiration, making himself as small as possible, like 
a weak being who craves the protection of a strong one. 
Lucia, on the contrary, threw herself back in her rocking-chair, 
attitudinising like a serpent in the folds of rich Turkish stuff, 
just showing the point of a golden embroidered slipper. The 
glance that filtered through her lids seemed to emit a spark at 
the corner of her eyes. All three were visibly impressed by 



86 FANTASY, 

this fine physical type ; so admirable in the perfection of its 
development. The room appeared to have narrowed, and 
even its furniture to have dwindled to humbler proportions, 
since he entered it ; all the minute bric-a-brac and curios 
with which Lucia had surrounded herself had become invisible, 
as if they had been absorbed. Andrea sat down against the 
piano, and it seemed to disappear behind him. He shook his 
curly head, and a healthy current leavened the morbid atmo- 
sphere of the room ; his laugh was almost too hearty for it, 
it disturbed the melancholy silence, which until his arrival had 
only been broken by undertones. 

" I come here as an ambassador, Signora Lucia. Shall I 
present my credentials to the reigning powers ? " 

' Here are your credentials," she said, pointing to the portrait 
of Caterina. 

" Yes, there's Nini. My government told me to go and 
prosper, and be received with the honours due to the repre- 
sentative of a reigning power." 

" Did Caterina say all that ? " 

"Not all. It's in honour of your imagination, Signora Lucia, 
that I embellish my wife's few words with flowers of rhetoric." 

" So you reproach me with my imagination," said the girl, in 
an aggrieved tone, casting a circular glance at her friends, as 
if in appeal against such injustice. 

"By no means; mayn't one venture a joke? In short, 
Caterina said to me, ' At three you are to go ... .' " 

" Is it already three?" broke in Galiraberti, inopportunely. 

" Past three, as your watch will tell you, my dear Pro- 
fessor." 

" Mine has stopped," he replied m.endaciously, not caring to 
exhibit a huge silver family relic. *' I must take my depar- 
ture." 

" To your lesson, Galimberti ? " inquired Lucia, indifferently. 

' Indeed, I find the time for it has slipped by, I had no 
idea that it was so late. After all it's no great loss to my 
pupils. Will you have your lesson to-morrow, Signorina ? " 



FANTASY. 87 

" To-morrow ! I don't think I can ; I feel too fatigued. Not 
to-morrow." 

" Wednesday, then ? " . 

" I will let you know," she replied, bored. 

When, with a brick-coloured flush on his yellow cheeks, 
Galimberti had left them, all three were conscious of a sense of 
discomfort. 

" Poor devil ! " exclaimed Andrea, at last. 

" Yes, but he is a bore," added Alberto. 

" What's to be done ? These ladies, in their exquisite good- 
nature, forget that he is only a teacher ; and he gets bewil- 
dered and forgets it too. He must suffer a good deal when 
he comes to his senses." 

" Oh ! he is an unhappy creature ; but when I am sick or 
sad, the poor thing becomes an incubus : I don't know how to 
shake him off." 

*'Is he learned in history?" inquired Alberto, with the 
childish curiosity of ignorance. 

"So, so; don't let us talk about him any more. This 
morning he has spoilt my day for me. What were you saying 
when he left, Signor Lieti ? " 

" What was I saying ? I don't remember . \\ . " 

" You were saying that your wife had sent you here at three," 
suggested Alberto, as if he were repeating a lesson. 

" Ecco ! Ah, to be sure .... And after breakfast I went to a 
shooting-gallery, then I had a talk with the Member for Caserta 
about the locai Exhibition in September, and then I came on 
here, with weighty communications, Signora Lucia." 

*' I'm off," said Alberto. 

" What, because of me ? As for what I have to say, you 
may hear every word of it." 

*' The reason is that now that the sun has come out, I want to 
take a turn in the Villa before it sets," said Alberto, pensively. 
*' It will do me good, I want to get an appetite for dinner." 

" Go, dear Alberto, go and take your walk. I wish I could 
come too ! The sun must be glorious outside ; salute it for me." 



88 FANTASY. 

" Remember your promise." 

" I remember, and will keep it." 

When he was gone, they looked at each other in silence. 
Andrea Lieti had an awkward feeling that it would have been 
right and proper for him to leave with her cousin. Lucia, on 
the contrary, settled herself more comfortably in her rocking- 
chair ; she had hidden her slippered foot under the Turkish 
gown, whose heavy folds completely enveloped her person. 

" Will you give me that Bible, on the table, Signor 
Lieti?" 

" Has the hour struck for prayer, Signorina ? " he asked in a 
jesting tone. 

*' No," replied Lucia ; " for I am always praying. But when 
something unusual, something very unusual happens to me, 
then I open the Bible haphazard, and I read the first verse 
that meets my eye. There is always counsel, guidance, a 
presentiment or a fatality in the words." 

She did as she said. She read a verse several times over, 
under her breath, as if to herself and in amazement .... Then 
she read aloud : " I love them that love me, and those that 
seek me early shall find me." 
"^ He listened, surprised. This singular mysticism inspired 
him with a sort of anger. He held his tongue, with the good 
breeding of a man who would not willingly hurt a young lady's 
feelings, but the episode struck him as a very ridiculous 
L one. 

*' Did you hear, Signor Lieti?" she added, as if in defiance. 

^' I heard. It was very fine .... Love is always an inte- 
resting topic, whether in the Old or the New Testament, or 
elsewhere . . . . " 

'' Signor Lieti ! " 

** I beg your pardon, I am talking nonsense. I am a rough 
fellow, Signorina Altimare. We who are in rude health are 
apt to regard these matters from a different standpoint. You 
must make allowances." 

'* You are indeed the incarnation of health," she said, 



FANTASY, 89 

sighing. " I shall never, never forget that waltz you made me 
dance. I shall never do it again." 

" Ma che \ winter will come round again ; there will be other 
balls, and we will dance like fun." 

" I have no streugth for dancing." 

" If you are ill, it is your own fault. Why do you always 
keep your windows closed? The weather is mild and the heat 
of your room is suffocating; I'll open them." 

" No," she exclaimed, placing her hand upon his arm: at 
its light pressure he desisted : she smiled. 

" Do you never dream. Signor Lieti ? " 

" Never. I sleep soundly, for eight hours, with closed fists, 
like a child." 

*'But with open eyes?" 

" Never." 

" Just like Caterina, then ? '* 

" Oh ! exactly like her." 

" You are two happy people." Her accent was bitter. 

He felt the pain in it. He looked at her, and was troubled. 
Perhaps, he had after all been hard upon the poor girl. What 
had she done to him ? She was sickly and full of fancies. 
The more reason for pitying her. She was an ill-cared-for, 
unloved creature who was losing her way in life. 

" Why don't you marry ? " he said, suddenly. 

" Why ?".... in astonishment. 

"Why?. . . . yes. Girls ought to marry, it cures them 
of their vagaries." 

*' Oh ! " exclaimed Lucia, and she hid her face in her hands. 

"Now I suppose I have said something stupid again? I 
will give you Caterina's message and be gone, before you turn 
me out." 

" No, Signor Lieti. Who knows but what your bourgeois 
common sense is right." 

He understood the hidden meaning of her phrase, and felt 
hurt by it. That skinny creature, with her ethereal airs and 
graces, knew how to sting, after all ! She suddenly appeared 



90 FANTASY. 

to him under a new aspect. A slight fear of the woman, whose 
weakness was her only strength, overcame him. He began to 
feel ill at ease in the perfumed atmosphere ; the room was so 
small that he could not stretch out his arms without coming to 
fisticuffs with the wall, the air so perfumed that it compressed 
his lungs ; ill at ease with that long, lithe figure draped in a 
piece of Eastern stuff; a woman who had a mouth like a red 
rose, and eyes that shone as if they sometimes saw marvellous 
visions, and at others looked as if they were dying in an 
cstasy of unknown longing. He felt a weight in his head like 
the beginning of a headache. He would like to have let in 
air by putting his fists through the window-panes, to have 
knocked down tlie walls by a push from his shoulders, to have 
taken up the piano and thrown it into the street ; anything to 
shake off the torpor that was creeping over him. If he could 
only grasp that lithe figure in his arms, to hurt her, to hear her 
bones creak, to strangle her ! The blood rushed to his head 
and it was getting heavier every minute. She was looking at 
him, examining him, while she waved the peacock-feather fan 
to and fro. Perhaps she divined it all, for without saying a 
word she rose and went to open the window, standing there a 
few minutes to watch the passers-by. When she returned, 
there was a faint flush on her face. 

*'Well," she said, as if she were awaiting the end of a dis- 
course. 

" Well ; your perfumes have given me a headache. It's a 
wonder I did not faint ; a thing that never yet happened to 
me, and that I should not like to happen. May I go ? May 
I give you Caterina's message ? " 

" I am listening to you. But are you better now? " 

" I am quite well. I am not Alberto Sanna." 

" No, you are not Alberto Sanna," she repeated, softly. 
" He is ill, I pity him. How do you feel now ? " 

" Why, very well indeed. It was a passing ailment, walking 
will set me up again. Caterina . . . ." 

"Do you love your wife as much as I love her?" 



FANTASY, 91 

<* Eh ! what a question ! " 

*' Don't take any notice of it ; it escaped me. I don't 
believe in married love." ^ 

" The worse for you ! " 

"You are irritated, Signor Lieti? " she said, smiling. 

" No ! I assure you I am not. Mine was a purely physical 
discomfort, I am not troubled by any moral qualms. I don't 
believe in their existence. My wife . . . ." 

" Are you a materialist ? " 

" Signora Lucia, you will make me lose my temper," he 
exclaimed, half in anger, half in jest. *' You won't let me speak." 

" I am listening to you." 

" Caterina wishes you to dine with us next Sunday. Her 
little cousin Giuditta is coming from school for the day. You 
two could drive her back in the evening." 

" I don't know . . . ." she said, hesitatingly ; " I don't know 
whether I can . . . ." 

^' I entreat you to, in Caterina's name. She sent me here on 
purpose. Come, we have a capital cook. You won't get a 
bad dinner." 

She shrugged her shoulders, and sat pondering as if she were 
gazing into futurity. 

" You look like a sybil, Signora Lucia. Via, make up your 
mind. A dinner is no very serious matter. I will order a 
crhfie 7neringiie to please you, because it is light and snowy." 

" I will write to Caterina." 

" No, don't write. Why write so much ? She desired me to 
take no denial." 

"Well, I will come." 

And she placed her hand in his. He bent down chival- 
rously and imprinted a light kiss on it. She left her hand 
there and raised her eyes to his. By a singular optical illu- 
sion, she appeared to have grown taller than himself. 

When he returned home, after a two hours' walk about 
Naples, Andrea Lieti told his wife that Lucia Altimare was a 
false, rhetorical, antipathetic creature; that her house was 



92 FANTASY. 

suffocating enough to give one apoplexy ; that she had a 
court of consumptives and rachitics Galimberti, Sanna, and 
the Lord knows whom besides; that he would never 
put his foot into it again. He had done it to please her, but 
it had been a great sacrifice; he detested thdit poseuse, who 
received men's visits as if she were a widow ; he couldn't 
imagine wjiat^ men and women found to fall in love with, in 
that packet of bones in the shape of a cross. Of all thrs"and 
more besides, he unburdened himself. He only stopped when 
he saw the pain on his wife's face, who answered not a word 
and with difficulty restrained her tears. This strong antipathy 
between two persons she loved was her martyrdom. 

" At least," she stammered, " at least, she said she would 
dine with us on Sunday ? " 

" Just fancy, for your sake I had to entreat her as if I were 
praying to a saint. She wouldn't, the stupid thing. At last, 
she accepted. But I give you due warning that on Sunday I 
shall not dine at home. I shall dine out and not return till 
midnight. Keep her to yourself, y omx poseuseJ^ 

This time Caterina did burst into tears. 



VI. 

During the whole of the dinner in the Lietis' apartment in 
Via Constanlinopoli, a certain all- pervading embarrassment was 
perceptible, despite the care with which it was disguised. 
Caterina had not dared, for several days, to breathe Lucia's 
name. But on Saturday, when she saw that Andrea had 
quite regained his good temper, she begged him not to go out 
on the morrow. He at first shrugged his shoulders, as if he 
did not care one way or the other, and then said, simply : 
" I will stay at home : it would be too rude to go out." 
Yet Andrea's manner was cold when he came in from his 
walk that day, and Lucia was very nervous, but beautiful, 
thought Caterina, in her clinging, cashmere gown, with a large 
bunch of violets under her chin. The talk was frigid. 



FANTASY. 93 

Caterina, who had been driving Giuditta all over the town, 
was troubled. She feared that Lucia would notice Andrea's 
coldness, and was sorry she had invited her. She talked more 
than usual, addressing herself to Lucia, to Andrea, and to 
Giuditta, to keep the ball going, making strenuous efforts to 
put her beloved ones in good humour. For a moment she 
hoped that dinner would create a diversion, and breathed a 
sigh of relief when the servant announced, *' The Signora is 
served." 

But even the bright warmth of the room was of no avail. 
Andrea, at whose side Lucia was seated, attended absently to 
her wants. He ate and drank a good deal, devouring his food 
in a silence unusual to him. Lucia hardly ate at all, but drank 
whole glasses of water just coloured with wine, a liquid of pale 
amethyst colour. When Andrea addressed her, she listened to 
him with intent eyes, which never lowered their gaze ; his fell 
before it, and again he applied himself to his dinner. Caterina, 
who saw that their aversion was increasing, was terrified. She 
tried to draw Giuditta into the general conversation, but the 
child was possessed by the taciturn hunger of a school-girl, to 
whom good food is a delightful anomaly. Towards the end of 
dinner, there were slight signs of a thaw. Andrea began to 
chatter as fast as he could and with surprising volubility ; 
talking to the two ladies, to the child, even to himself. Lucia 
deigned to smile assent two or three times. There was a 
passage of civilities when the crane meringue made its appear- 
ance. Lucia compared it to a flake of immaculate snow; 
Andrea pronounced the comparison to be as just as it was 
poetic. Caterina turned from pale to pink in the dawn of so 
good an understanding. She felt, however, that this was a bad 
evening for Lucia, one of those evenings that used to end so 
disastrously at school, in convulsions or a deluge of tears. 
She saw that her dark eyes were dilated, that her whole face 
quivered from time to time, and that the violets she wore rose 
and fell with the beating of her heart. Once or twice she 
asked her, as in their school-days, " What ails thee ? " 



94 FANTASY. 

** Nothing," replied the other as curtly as she used to reply 
at school. 

" Don't you see that there is nothing the matter with her?" 
questioned Andrea. '< Indeed, she looks better than usual. 
Signora Lucia, you are another person to-night, you have a 
colour." 

*' I wish it were so." 

" Are you courageous ? " 

"Why do you ask?" 

" To know." 

'' Well, then, yes." 

" Then swallow a glass of cognac, at once." 

" No, Andrea, I won't let her drink it. It would do her 
harm." 

" What fun ! don't you feel tempted, Signora Lucia ? " 

* I do . . . . rather . . , ." after a little hesitation. 

" Brava., brava ! You too, Caterina, it doesn't hurt you. 
And even Giuditta . . . ." 

"No; it would intoxicate the child." 

*' Ma che I Just a drop in the bottom of the glass." 

Lucia drank off hers without the slightest sign of perturba- 
tion, then she turned pale. Giuditta, after swallowing hers, 
blushed crimson, coughing and sneezing until her eyes filled 
with tears. Every one laughed, while Caterina beat her gently 
on the back. 

" I think you are drinking too much to-night, Andrea," she 
v/hispered in his ear. 

" Right you are ; I won't drink any more." 

When they rose from table, Andrea offered his arm to Lucia, 
a courtesy he had omitted when they entered the room. 
Caterina said nothing. When she had installed them in the 
yellow drawing-room, one on the sofa and the other in a 
comfortable chair, she left them and went into an adjoining 
room to prepare the child for her return. 

"Have you left off using musk, Signora Lucia?" 

"Yes, SignorLieti." 



J^ANTASV. 95 

"Why?" 

" I don't know." 

" Allow me to congratulate you." 

''Thank you." 

" Those flowers become you better. Who gave them to 
you?" 

"You are curious, Signor Lieti." 

He smiled at her with approving eyes. To him she appeared 
like one transformed, thanks, perhaps, to the soft folds of her 
white gown. In his good-natured after-dinner mood, the 
beatitude of repletion infused a certain tenderness into his 
voice. 

" My name is Andrea," he murmured. 

" I know that," was the curt reply. 

" Call me Andrea. You call Caterina by her name. Cate- 
rina and I are one." 

" Not to me." 

" I see. But as Caterina is so very much your friend, you 
might admit me into the bond. Do you forbid me to become 
your friend ? " 

" Perhaps there is no such thing as friendship/' 

"Yes, there is such a thing. Don't be so pessimistic. 
Senfa, -cava Signorina^ let me whisper a word in your 
ear . . . ." 

She bent forward until her cheek almost touched his lips. 
Then he said : 

"There are in this house two people who care for you. 
Pray believe * . . ." 

Lucia fell back against her cushion and half closed her 
eyes. 

" Surelyj" thought Andrea, " it's another woman^ with that 
round white throat set in its frame of lace." 

" Andreaj Andrea," cried Caterina, from the bedroom. 

He started, and shrugged his shoulders, as if to shake off a 
weight, glanced at Lucia, who seemed to be dreaming with 
closed eyesj and went away. There was a short whispered 



o6 PANIASV. 

discussion between husband and wife in the adjoining room. 
It was suddenly interrupted by Andrea, who was stifling his 
laughter, pouncing upon his wife and kissing her behind her 
ear. Caterina defended herself by pointing to Giuditta, who 
was putting on her hat before the glass. 

" It all depends on her," he said, in an undertone, as he re- 
entered the drawing-room. 

" Signora Lucia, are you asleep?" 

*' No, I never sleep." 

" Caterina wants you a moment, in there.** 

" What does she want ? " 

" I know, but have been ordered not to tell." 

" I will go to her." 

She went, followed by the serpentine folds of her white 
train. Andrea sat down, unconsciously rested his head where 
she had rested hers, and inhaled the lingering perfume of her 
hair. He rose and walked about the room to rid himself of 
the mists that seemed to be clouding his brain. 

Caterina, in the other room, knew not how to break it to 
Lucia. The words refused to come, for the tall white-robed 
maiden, standing erect, without a quiver of her eyelid, intimi- 
dated her. 

" 1 think .... I think it would bore you to have to come 
with me to the College." 

''What for?" 

" To take Giuditta back." 

*' I won't go. You go alone. That College depresses 
me. 

" I would go, if it were not for leaving you alone. But 
I shall not be long ; just the time to drive Giuditta there, and 
come back." 

" Go ; I like being alone." 

"It's . . . . that I should like to . . . ." 

" Take Andrea with you, of course." . c- 

"No, no, on the contrary." / . 

" Leave him with me ? .... He will be bored." 



FANTASY. 97 

" What are you saying ? '* 

" He will bore himself, Caterina." 

" 'Tis he who doesn't want to stay, for fear of boring you. 
If you don't mind . . . ." 

" Really, was that all ? I will stay alone, or with your hus- 
band, whatever you like. But don't be away long." 

" Oh ! no fear, dear." And in her delight at having settled 
the important question, she raised herself on tiptoe to kiss 
her. 

" Dress and go." 

When Caterina and Giuditta passed through the drawing- 
room they found Andrea and Lucia seated, as before, in 
silence. 

"Go, Caterina. I will read a book, and your husband the 
Piccolo. Have you a Leopardi ? " 

*' No. I am so sorry . . . ." 

" Well, I wiJl amuse myself with my own thoughts. Go, dear, 
go. 

Andrea listened, without saying a word. 

" You may go to sleep," whispered his wife, as she bade 
him good-bye. They did not kiss each other in the presence 
of their visitors. She went away contented with having pro- 
vided for everything. They followed her with their eyes. 
Then, without a word, Lucia offered the newspaper to Andrea, 
who unfolded it. While he pretended to read, he watched 
Lucia out of the corner of his eye. She was looking at him 
with so bewitching a smile, that again she appeared to him 
like a woman transformed so placid and youthful in her 
white gown. 

" Are you not bored, Signorina ? " 

** No ; I am thinking." 

" Tell me what you are thinking of." 

"What can it matter to you? I am thinking of far-off 
things." 

"It is morbid to think too much. Sometimes, but not 
often, it happens to me, too, to think." 





98 FANTASY. 

" Are you thinking now, Signor Andrea ? " 

Her hand hung slack at her side. In jest he knitted 
his Httle finger for a moment in hers. There was a long 
silence. 

"What were you thinking of just now?" asked Lucia, in 
her low tender tones. 

"I do not wish to tell you. How white your hand is, 
and long and narrow! Look, what an enormous hand mine 
is!" 

" That day at the tournament your hand did wonders." 

" Really !...." He reddened from pleasure. 

Again they were silent. She drew her hand away and 
played with her violets. He half closed his eyes, but never 
took them off the pure pale face, with its delicate colouring, 
its superb magnetic eyes with pencilled brows, and the half- 
opened mouth that was as red as a pomegranate flower. He 
sank into a state of vague contemplation, in which a fasci- 
nating feminine figure was the only thing visible on a cloudy 
background. 

"Say something to me, Signora Lucia?" 

"Why?" 

" I want to hear you speak ; you have an enchanting 
voice." 

'' Caterina said the same thing to me this evening." 

At that name he suddenly sprang to his feet, and took two 
or three turns about the room, like an unquiet lion. She 
pulled a chair in front of her, placed her feet upon it, and half 
closed her eyes. 

"Are you going to sleep?" asked Andrea, standing still 
before Lucia. 

" No, I am dreaming," she replied, so gently that Andrea 
resumed his seat beside her. 

"Tell me what you were thinking of just now?" she pleaded. 

" I was thinking of something dreadful, but true." 

"About me?" 

" About you, Lucia." 



- FANTASY. 99 

"Say it." 

" No, it would displease you." 

" Not from you . . . ." 

" Permit me not to tell it you . . . ." 

" As you please." 

Lucia's countenance became overclouded ; every now and 
then she drew a long breath. 

"What is the matter?" 

"Nothing; I am very comfortable. And you, Signor 
Andrea?" 

Was he? He did not answer. Now and again the deli- 
cious languor that was stealing over him cooled the current in 
his veins. He scarcely ventured to breathe. Lucia's white 
gown appeared to him like a snowy precipice; a mad desire 
was on him to cast himself at this woman's feet, to rest his 
head on her knees, and to close his eyes like a child .... 
Was he ? when every now and then a savage longing came 
upon him to throw his arm around that slender waist, and 
press it so that he might feel it writhe and vibrate with tigerish 
flexibility ? He strove not to think ; that was all, 

" What stuff is this, Signora Lucia ? " 

" It is wool." 

" A soft wool." 

" Cashmere." 

" It is so becoming to you. Why don't you always wear it ? " 

"Do you like it?" 

" Yes, I do." He continued, unconsciously, to stroke her 
arm. 

She leant over, quite close to him, and said : 

" Have one made like it for Caterina." 

This time Andrea did not rise, but shuddered perceptibly. 
He passed his hand through his hair, to push it back. 

" I was thinking just now," he said, " that the man who fell 
in love with you would be a most unhappy fellow." 

Lucia sank back in frigid silence, her face hardened with 
anger. 



100 FANTASY. 

*' Now," he said in a low tone cf deprecation, " you are 
angry." 

" No," in a whisper. 

" Yes, you are angry ; I am a brute." As he said this, he 
tried to force open her clenched hand. But he was afraid of 
hurting her, and so he failed. He begged her not to drive her 
nails into the palm of her hand. The pain of doing so accen- 
tuated the angles at the corners of her lips ; her head was 
turned away from him, resting against the cushioned back of 
the sofa. 

*' Lucia, Lucia . . . ." he murmured, " be good to one who 
is unworthy." At last, with a sigh of triumph, he opened the 
hand which he held: four red marks disfigured its palm. 
Andrea looked at it, wishing but not daring to kiss it ; he 
blew over it childishly. 

She vouchsafed a smile, but no reply. Andrea tried to 
pacify her, whispering nonsense to her. He mimicked the 
tone of a child, begging its mother's pardon, promising " never 
to do so again," if only it may not be sent to the dark room, 
where it is frightened. And the strong man's voice assumed 
so infantile an expression, he imitated the whine, the grimaces, 
the feline movements of certain children to such perfection, 
that she could not restrain the fit of nervous laughter which 
overcame her, and throbbed in her white throat as she fell 
back in her cushions. 

"Little mother, forgive?" he wound up with. 

" Si^ si" and, still laughing, she gave him a little pat on the 
shoulder. 

Again he fought down his desire to kiss her hand. 

*' Do you know that you are not so thin as usual to-night?" 

" Do you think so ? " she replied, as if weary with laughter. 

'' Certainly." 

*' I suppose it's the white dress." 

*' Or yourself; you can work miracles, you can assume what 
appearance you choose." 



FANTASY. lOI 

"What am I like to-night?" asked Lucia, languidly. 

" You are like a sorceress," replied Andrea, with an accent 
of profound conviction. 

Her eyes questioned him, eager to know more. 

* A witch .... a sorceress . . . ." he repeated, as if in 
reply to an inner voice. The clock struck nine times, but 
neither of them paid heed to it. Stillness filled the room, 
which was lighted by a shaded lamp. No sound reached it. 
Nothing. Two people alone, looking at each other. The 
long pauses seemed to them full of a sweet significance ; they 
could not resume their talk without an effort. They spoke in 
lowered tones and very slowly. He drew no nearer, neither 
did she withdraw her hand. 

"What perfume do you use in your hair?" 

" None." 

" Oh ! but it is perfumed. I could smell it just now . . . ." 

" But I use no perfume." 

"Just now I smelt it, when I leant my head where yours 
had been." 

" None ; smell ! " she said, with unconscionable audacity, as 
she raised her head to his, that he might inhale the perfume of 
her hair. 

Then he lost his head, seized Lucia by the waist, and kissed 
her throat madly and roughly. She freed herself like a viper, 
starting to her feet in a fury, scorching him with the flashing 
of her eyes. Not a word passed between them. Stunned and 
confused, he watched her moving about the room in search of 
her cloak, her gloves, her bonnet, and in such a tremor of 
rage that she could not find them for a long while. At last 
she slipped on her cloak, but her quivering hands could not 
tie the strings of her black bonnet. The white dress had 
disappeared ; she was all in black now, lividly pale, with dark 
rings under her eyes. 

" Where are you going now?" 

" I am going away." 

"Alone?" .... 



102 FANTASY, 

*' Alone." 

" No, rather than let you do that, I will go myself." He 
made her a low bow and disappeared within the bedroom, 
shutting the door between them. 

When Caterina returned, panting with haste, she found 
Lucia calmly stretched out on the sofa. 

*' Have I been too long? .... And Andrea?" 

" I don't know. He is in there, I think." 

*' What have you been doing with yourself all alone?" 

" Sai, I have been praying with the lapis-lazuli rosary." 

Caterina entered the bedroom. A black form was lying 
prone across the bed with open arms, like one crucified. 

"Andrea!" she called, tentatively. 

*' What is it?" was the curt reply. 
*' Are you sleeping?" 

" I was bored, and I came in here. Let me sleep." 

" Lucia ? Who is to take her back ?" 

" Thou. Leave me alone." 



vn. 

One morning, before going out, Andrea kissed his wife, and 
said : " Have our boxes packed for to-night ; we are going to 
Rome." 

** For how many days ? " she asked, without surprise. She 
Was accustomed to these sudden orders. 

"A fortnight at least: plenty of linen and smart gowns. 
Leave the jewels at home." 

They left for Rome without announcing their departure to 
any one. It was like a second honeymoon. During their 
eighteen months of married life, neither had travelled farther 
than from Naples to Centurano. Caterina had all the artless- 
ness and naivete of a newly fledged bride ; but she at once 
adapted herself to the change, like the well-balanced creature 
that she was. Andrea teased her delightedly, when he saw her 
head peeping out of the window at every station. He told 



FANTASV. 103 

her fabulous stories of every place they passed through ; 
laughing heartily at her incredulity, offering her things to eat 
and drink, inviting her to take a turn up and down ; and she 
parried his attacks like a child. He walked about the 
carriage, put his big head out of the window, bumped it 
against the roof, conversed with the railway officials, indulged 
in discussions with newsvendors, and impressed his fellow- 
travellers with his herculean stature. In a word, he was 
exuberant with health, noise, and jollity. 

Caterina did not ever remember seeing him in such high 
spirits, especially since that inauspicious dinner. Oh ! there 
had been a period of dreadful and furious ill-temper ; the house 
had trembled from slamming of doors, pushing of chairs, and 
thumping of fists on writing-tables j to say nothing of the 
bursts of vociferation which had echoed throughout it, a 
three days' storm that she had succeeded in lulling by dint of 
silence, placidity, and submission. Then Andrea had calmed 
down, except for a certain nervous irritability and occasional 
bursts of anger, that became ever fewer and farther between. 
Still, he had not quite gone back to the old Andrea the 
childlike, noisy, laughter-loving Andrea, overflowing with 
mirth and good temper until they started on this journey. 
Caterina said nothing about it; but she felt as if her 
very heart were expanding, dilated with the pleasure 
of it. 

In Rome, Andrea displayed a phenomenal activity. He 
woke early, with a smile for the rosy face that watched his 
awakening, and proceeded to call out his orders to all the 
waiters of the Hotel de Rome ; they drank their coffee in 
haste and went on a round of sight-seeing. Andrea was not 
devoted to antiquities and Caterina did not understand them ; 
but it was a duty to see them all, if only by way of gaining an 
appetite for luncheon. So they continued to inspect every- 
thing, conscientiously, without neglecting a stone or sparing 
themselves a corner ; exclaiming, with moderate enthusiasm : 
*' Beautiful, beautiful, how beautiful!" 



104 FANTASY. 

They amused themselves, all the same, because Caterina 
had never seen anything before, and because Andrea had a 
knack of imitating the guide's nasal voice, pouring forth, the 
while, a jumble of rambling, explanatory description, in which 
Caterina corrected the erroneous Roman history. They re- 
turned to the hotel in a state of collapse, and dawdled through 
their luncheon. Then Andrea went out on important busi- 
ness. To-day, he had an appointment with the Under-Secre- 
tary of State ; to-morrow, with a Cabinet Minister ; the other 
day he had had matters to setde with the Director-General of 
the Agricultural Department. Sometimes he had two appoint- 
ments on the same day; with the huge, muscular Member for 
Santa Maria, with the aristocratic Member for Capua, or with 
the hirsute Member for Teano. The conferences with the 
journalistic Member for Caserta influential both as the 
editor of a Neapolitan paper of large circulation and as the 
intimate friend of the Prime Minister were of infinite length. 
Then he would accompany his wife in her drive to the Villa 
Borghese or the Pincio, and leave her there ; or to San Pietro, 
where there was always something to look at; and two or 
three times to the Ladies' Gallery in the House of Parliament, 
where Caterina, who understood little or nothing of the subject 
under discussion, bored herself immensely, and suffered 
agonies of heat and thirst. She waited patiently for him 
to come and fetch her, with the resignation of a woman who 
would have waited for centuries, had she been bidden to wait. 
Andrea returned to her, red, hasty and flurried ; blowing and 
puffing likeayoung bull, apologising for having kept herwaiting so 
long, recounting to her all his experiences ; the useless journeys 
to and fro, the inert functionaries, the diffident Secretary, the 
enthusiastic Cabinet Minister, the Members' zeal for the honour 
of their constituencies. To all these details, Caterina listened 
with the attentiveness that delights a narrator, without a sign 
of weariness. And indeed the local Agricultural Exhibition 
was of supreme interest to them both. Andrea was President 
of the Committee of Promoters : he was to exhibit wheat, 



FANTASY. rD5 

barley, wine, a special breed of fowls, and a new species of 
gourd, a modification of the pumpkin. The schools' functions, 
of which Caterina was Lady Patroness, were fixed for the 
same epoch. There was to be a flower show for the delecta- 
tion of the upper ten. The statue of Vanzitelli was to be 
unveiled, on the chief Piazza of Caserta, which means, in 
short, a universal fillip, the awakening of the entire province, 
splendid fetes, special trains, &c. &c. : the tenth of Sep- 
tember, in the height of the fine weather; already cool, you 
know, and still genial. It all hung upon whether or no 
permission to hold the fete in the Royal Palace could be 
obtained, that historic palace, beloved of the Bourbons, 
Caterina supported her husband in demanding the Reggia, in 
insisting on having the Reggia : what was the use of that 
empty, solemn Royal Palace? It would be splendid for the 
Exhibition. They must have the Reggia, at whatever the 
cost. When they had said and many times repeated these 
things, Andrea and Caterina would go here and there and every- 
where to dine. They took a long time about it, and seriously 
studied the inhiu for the day ; each of them ordering different 
dishes and tasting what the other had ordered; Andrea 
making friends with the waiter, and both of them relishing 
whatever they did with the capacity of young and healthy 
people for enjoyment. No one interfered with or otherwise 
vexed them. Rome is humane and maternal, ever smiling on 
those bridal couples who, under the shadow of her noble 
walls, under her canopy of heavenly blue, lead their loves 
through the maze of her uneven streets. 

After a short halt at the Cafe du Parlement or the Cafe de 
Rome, then a short walk, and home to sleep. Andrea was tired, 
and had to rise early next morning. But often in those hours 
between luncheon and dinner, Caterina would beg him to leave 
her at home. She preferred staying there, in a tiny sitting- 
room that was next to her bedroom. Andrea would ask on 
his return what she had been doing. And she replied : " I 
have been helping my maid to arrange my grey dress. She 



io6 PANT AS Y. 

didn't know bow to do it, so I showed her. I walked 
a little, as far as Pontecorvo, to choose presents for 
Naples . . . ." 

Sometimes she lowered her eyes and said, " I have been 
writing." , 

"Whoto, Nini?" 

" To my aunt ; to Giuditta, at school ; to Gialietta, the 
maid at home ; to Matteo, the caretaker at Centurano . . . ." 

"And to others?" 

" To others besides." 

Without naming her, they instantly understood each other. 
They had lately avoided mentioning her. Caterina/^// the 
profound antipathy of Andrea, but neither ventured to combat 
or complain of it. She had been to call on Lucia, alone. The 
latter had received her most warmly, smothering her with 
kisses, asking her loving questions, confusing her with those 
she read in her eyes : not a word of Andrea, to Caterina's 
infinite relief. Inwardly, she suffered from the species of 
hatred which existed between the two persons she loved best. 
At last, one day when Andrea returned to the hotel, he found 
Caterina more preoccupied than usual. She heard the news 
that the Prime Minister would honour the Agricultural Exhibi- 
tion with his presence, without excessive transport ; she 
murmured a gentle but absent " Yes " to her husband's 
suggestion that they should spend three days in Florence, 
returning thence to Naples. 

" Ohe I Nini, what is the matter ? " 

" Nothing." 

" Don't tell stories, little Nini. They are visible on your 
nose. There is one crawling, his legs are no longer than a 
spider's, but he is black and ugly ! What is it, Nini ? " 

" Nothing, nothing . . . ." she said, in self-defence. 

" Say it, Caterina." 

" I entreat you ....'* 

" Bah, innocent witch, I know what it is.""* 

" What is it you know ?...." blushing. 



FANTASV, t07 

" I know why you are so preoccupied : it's the Naples letter 
that upset you." 

Her timid eyes entreated his forgiveness for both of them. 

" I am not vexed with you," said he, slowly. " If I don't 
like the girl, I respect your affection for her : she is the friend 
of your childhood. You don't love her better than me, I 
hope?"' 

" No," she said, simply. 

" Well, that is all I care for. Don't plague yourself about 
anything else. And .... is the letter interesting ? " 

*' Very." 

*' ' Urgetite ' was written outside it. Is it really urgent, or is 
it only fancy ? " 

" Really urgent." 

He took a turn in the room and glanced at the clock. 

" Shall we go to dinner? It is rather early, I think." 

" True, it is early." 

" And what does she write you ?...." without infusing 
much interest into his voice 

" It's too long to tell." 

" I understand you, Nini ; I understand you. You would 
like to read the letter to me." 

'' No, no .... " 

^' Yes, you are dying to read it to me. You have not the 
courage to say so ; but I guess it. I'm a bear, I suppose. Do 
you wish it noised abroad that I am a tyrant ? " 

" Andrea ! " 

" Su ! small victim of a barbarous husband : as we have an 
hour to spare before dinner, and because the success of our 
enterprise inclines us to clemency, you may even read us your 
letter. Unto us shall be brought vermouth and cigars, to help 
us to endure this new torment with befitting patience. Oh 1 
Lord, consider the sufferings of your unhappy Andrea !...," 

" Andrea, one more word, and I won't read it." 

'''Ma chel you are dying to read it ! Su I up, intriguer ; 
up, witch. We accord you our august attention." 



io8 FANTASY. 

Caterina drew the hand that held the letter out of her 
pocket and read as follows : 

" Caterina MIA ! 

" This letter, which I am about to write to 
thee, will not be, like the others, laden with what my father 
calls vagaries. This is a serious letter. Caterina, collect all 
the sense, all the reason of which you can dispose; add to it 
all your experience, call to your help the whole height and 
depth of your friendship, and be helpful to me in counsel and 
support. Caterina, I have reached the most solemn moment 
of my life. A pilgrim and a wanderer, without a guide, I have 
come to the crossing of the roads. I must decide. I must 
reply to the dark question of the future, the mystic riddle will 
have its answer ; it calls for a ' Yes,' or a ' No'. Oh ! Caterina, 
how have I dreaded this decisive moment ! how have I 
halted and stumbled, as with waning strength I neared it ! 
Behold, it has caught me up, it is upon me like an incubus. 
Listen to me patiently ; I will try not to weary you. Eut I 
want to put my position clearly before you. Do you 
remember when we spoke of our future, on the College 
terrace? I told you then, that I should never marry; that 
I should seek to fulfil a lowly but noble mission, one to 
which I might consecrate my poor strength, the fervour of my 
soul, the impulses of a heart enamoured of sacrifice. I sought, 
and I had found what human egoism has debarred me from : 
my father, my unloving father, has prevented me from becoming 
a Sister of Charity. He would not have them say, ' See, he 
had but one daughter, and he made her so unhappy that she 
has taken the veil ! ' If this was my destiny, may God forgive 
him for not having permitted me to follow it. Other missions 
are either too arduous for my state of health, or too meagre to 
satisfy my passionate yearning .... My time was passed in 
prayer, almsgiving, in seeking to console the afflicted, but with- 
out any definite occupation or vocation. At last, one day, as 
it befell Saint Paul on the road to Damascus, a great light 
struck my eyes, and I fell down before the voice of the Lord. 



FANTASY. 109 

He has spoken to me : I have understood His words, and, lowliest 
among those lowly ones who dare to raise their eyes to the 
Virgin's throne, I have to say in her words : ' Lord, behold 
thy servant, thy will be done ! ' 

" Near to me, my own Caterina, was a mission to be 
accomplished, a sacrifice to be offered up. Near to me was a 
suffering being, condemned by the fatal atavism which has 
poisoned his blood, to an agonising death. The doctors do 
not, among themselves, disguise the fact that his will not be a 
long life. Carderelli has said, with brutal frankness : ' He 
may live some time, if every precaution is taken.' But it is 
written that he will die the death. He has the germs of 
phthisis ; he will die of consumption. You guess of whom I 
speak: my cousin, Alberto Sanna. He does not know 
the sad truth about himself, but we others do : he is con- 
demned. 

" Now picture to yourself the kind of life led by poor 
Alberto. He is very rich, but quite alone in the world, at the 
mercy of mercenary beings, in the hands of servants who 
neglect him, and have no love for him. Pleasure is always 
tempting him, but he may not, he dares not .... His friends 
are bad counsellors : for when he listens to them he loses the 
fruit of a month's care. When he falls ill, he is alone, uncared 
for, utterly miserable ; it is piteous, my sweet Caterina. As 
soon as he begins to recover, he leaves his bed, wraps himself 
up and comes to me for comfort and consolation. He is 
saddened because of his illness, because he has no one to love 
him, because he will never have a family of his own, because 
all happiness is denied to him, because at the banquet of life 
he may only appear for a moment, to disappear, like the 
patient of Gilbert. He needs a soul, a love of his own : one who 
will care for him, love him, who, if she cannot make the remain- 
ing years of his life happy ones, is at least content to pour out 
all her tenderness in them. He looks around and sees that he is 
alone in the crowd, of no interest to any one. Living, none 
to love him; dead, none to mourn him. Well, this creature, 
this soul, this woman, will I be to him .... Yes, Caterina, 1 



lie FANTASY, 

shall marry Alberto Sanna. It will be a boundless sacrifice of 
my youth, my whole life, and every dream of joy and splendour. 
It will be a silent holocaust that I shall offer up to God. For 
the happiness of a suffering fellow-creature, I will give my 
whole happiness. I will cast my life away for the life of an 
afflicted being, whose smile will be my only reward. I am not 
in love with Alberto Sanna. You know that this earthly and 
carnal sentiment has never existed in me, nor will it ever exist. 
I am overwhelmed with pity, compassion, for an unhappy 
fellow- creature, and out of sheer compassion I wed him. He 
loves me with a blind, passionate, and childlike affection 
and believes that mine for him is love and I wish him to 
believe it. In some cases, deception is true piety. I will be 
to him a faithful wife, a compassionate sister, a watchful 
mother, an untiring nurse : he shall never read signs of weari- 
ness nor fatigue on my countenance. I Vill cut myself off from 
the society that he may not frequent. I will say good-bye to 
all worldly avocations ; they shall not disturb our quiet house- 
hold. I will forget my own sufferings, in alleviating his. If 
one of us must needs be unhappy, I will be that one. Mute, 
calm, smiling, I will bury deep in my heart whatever might 
pain poor Alberto. I will be his smile .... The future is a 
melancholy one. I know not how I shall bear it. May God 
give me strength where strength will be needed. For the sake 
of my poor dear, for my poor afflicted one, I must live. I hope 
I shall not fall ill. God would not lay upon me the burden of 
having to die before Alberto. God does not recall those who 
have a mission upon earth until it is accomplished. This 
thought so supports me that I feel as if triple strength had been 
given to me. On the other hand, Caterina, it is necessary that 
I should leave my home. My father cannot bear me near 
him. He would willingly have left me at the College, had it 
not been for regard to public opinion. I have already told 
you as much. He is an egotist, and indifferent to all human 
suffering. From morning till night he finds something to 
complain of in my attire, the furniture of my poor rooms, my 



FANTASY, in 

frienas, the time they stay with rae, and what he is pleased to 
call my 'fatal' attitude. Every day he wounds me cruelly. 
He says the most dreadful things to me : that his friends con- 
sider me eccentric ; that my behaviour is mad ; that I am the 
worst coquette of his acquaintance. How have I wept ; how 
have I writhed ; poor victim that I am, eternally held up to 
martyrdom by the Philistine! I bend my head without 
attempting to reply to him. I am an obstruction in my own 
house, Caterina. I have had to make a painful effort in asking 
Galimberti to discontinue his frequent visits ; they were the 
subject of vulgar, scandalous gossip among the servants, who 
made a laughing-stock of him. Poor, beloved friend, I have 
been forced to sacrifice thee to the world ; at the very moment 
when thou hadst need of the consolation of my friendship, 
just at the moment when the College authorities had, with 
barbarous injustice, turned thee away ! I write to him from time 
to time, if only not to break off too suddenly. I fear that he 
is very miserable. I try, in my letters to him, to write the 
sweetest words that sympathy has ever inspired. Now you 
see what my father has done for me ! The truth is that my 
presence casts a gloom over his house, where he would fain 
have mirth and laughter. The truth is that he is younger 
at forty-two than I am at twenty; that he wishes I were 
married, so that he may be free of me. The horrible truth is 
that he, who has been a widower for fifteen years, is waiting 
for the hour of dehverance, the hour of my marriage, to marry 
again himself. 

" So that all and everything combines to draw me closer to 
Alberto. In marrying I please my father, I give happiness to 
my affianced husband, and peace to my conscience. I need 
not say to you, who know me, that no idea of self-interest 
influences me. Alberto is much better off than I am; but 
what are his riches to me ? We shall not receive, we shall 
only keep two horses in our stable, for the invalid's drives ; I 
shall dress simply in black ; mourning for a blighted existence. 
.... We shall have but few servants, having so few wants. 



112 FANTASY. 

. . . . Neither pomp, nor luxury, nor fetes, nor balls ; the 
state of Alberto's health does not admit of them. I shall be 
content if he will give me something for my poor. I shall have 
to administer our fortune, for he cannot do so. I will bend 
my neck under this hard, dry, ungrateful yoke ; I will drink the 
last drop in the bitter chalice I have prepared for myself .... 
" But tell me, Caterina, is not this beautiful? Tell me, my 
placid critic, if my self-imposed task is not a holy one ? Is 
not my mission sublime ? Is not the act I am about to per- 
form all but a divine one ? Do I not set the crown on my 
life, with this motto, which henceforward shall be mine : * All 
for others, naught for self? ' Am I not giving to others a fine 
example of altruism ? I will have no praise ; I will accomplish 
it in all humility, as one unworthy, but chosen. Give me your 
opinion, clearly, sincerely, loyally, as you have ever given it 
me, in all vital moments of my life. To you I can repeat that 
none have been more vital than is this one. Write me on a 
scrap of paper : ' Right, Lucia ; ' or only * Lucia, wrong.' And 
return, Caterina, return, to one who loves thee as surely no 
other friend was ever loved. j^ y 

The pure sonorous voice of the reader began to give way 
towards the last, and grew hoarse as if from fatigue. She 
folded up the transparent sheets, put them back in their enve- 
lope, and waited for her husband to speak. Andrea had sipped 
two glasses of verm.uth, and left half of a third one; his cigar 
had gone out on^^e or twice. 

" What do you think of it, Nini ? " he said at last, as if he 
were waking out of a trance. 

'* I ? I don't know ; I have no ideas of my own. I never 
had any." 

" And what are you going to write her ? " 

" What you tell me." 

"I would have you observe," he said, coldly, "that the 
Altimare c *d not tell you to read her letter to me, or to ask for 
my advice. She does not mention me." 



FANTASY. 113 

" But, you see . . , ." she began, deprecatingly. 

" Yes, I see, and I don't see. Anyhow, it appears to me to 
be an unfortunate marriage." 

" To me, too." 

" You are always of my opinion. That Alberto is such a 
wretched creature, he does not deserve a woman like Lucia." 

" True, I will write her .... that she is doing wrong." 

" Yes. Write to her. She won't listen to you, but you will 
have warned her in time. Or rather .... wait until to- 
morrow to write." 

They said no more about it, but all that evening they were 
absent and preoccupied. They hardly spoke to each other. 
They went to the play, but did not stay for the last act. 
Andrea passed a disturbed night ; between sleeping and waking, 
Caterina could hear him turn from side to side, drawing long 
breaths and tossing his coverings about. She called out 
sleepily to ask what was the matter with him. 

" It's the coffee ! it was too strong," he muttered. 

Next morning, he took her aside out of her maid's hearing, 
and made her the following short discourse : 

'' Listen, Nini, Don't let us get entangled in other people's 
affairs. We are not infallible, we mustn't assume responsibilities 
that are too serious for us. Let the Altimire marry whom she 
will. She may be happy with Alberto. We have no charge 
of souls. We might give her bad advice. After all, no one 
can tell how a marriage may turn out. Write that it's all 
right." 

She obeyed, for her whole business in life was to believe in 
the worth and wisdom of her husband. 



PART III, 



As the trains arrived from Rome and Naples, a sea of human 
beings poured out of the dirty, wretched, little Caserta station, 
flooding the wide, dusty road that is bordered by two fields, 
where the garrison horses graze. The scorching sun shone 
down on black evening coats, framing expensive white shirt- 
fronts, as well as on dittos of light summer cloth, and blue-and- 
white striped linen costumes, by which the gilded youth of 
Naples with metropolitan irreverence for matters provincial 
implied their intention of ignoring the Hall of the Inaugura- 
tion. It shone, too, on overcoats that represented tentative 
provincial elegance. Under the domes of their large white 
sunshades came ladies of every degree, in every shade of light, 
fresh, aerial dresses. They came from Naples, from Santa 
Maria, from Capua, from Maddaloni ; chattering together, and 
gesticulating with their fans, and sniffing at their huge posies : the 
provincials quieter than the others, whom they watched and 
strove to imitate. The sun shone with all its might on that 
bright September day, and the ladies stepped out bravely, in 
their polished leather shoes with bright buckles. 

In front of them towered the Palace, the poetic dream to 
which Vanvitelli has given architectural reality. It main- 
tained its imposing air of majesty, due to purity of line, ex- 
quisite sobriety of ornament, and the severe harmony of its 
pale, unfaded colouring, with which time had dealt so gently. 
The windows of the first story were wide open, and so were 
the three huge doorways which traversed the whole body of 



FANTASY. XI.5 

the edifice. And all along the road waved the standard of the 
province, the Campania Felice, with the Horn of Plenty 
pouring out the riches of the Earth : and the national banners 
waved in unison. 

Onward went the crowd, as if agriculture were the end and 
aim of its existence. This September function was in truth a 
rural feast, a pretext for journeys by road or rail, and for 
enjoying the coolness of the vast regal saloons .... Besides, 
the Prime Minister was coming to prove the love of a northern 
statesman for a southern province. To many he was unknown, 
and they were glad of a chance of seeing him in the pride and 
pomp of his ministerial uniform. The more sentimental 
among them, those who knew him to be eloquent, came to 
hear him speak. The ladies were there for the mysterious, 
unfathomable reason for which they go everywhere, especially 
where they are most likely to be bored. At the middle 
entrance, the chief porter, in the royal livery, with a plume 
waving in his carabineer's hat, and a gold-headed wand in his 
hand, impassively faced the crowd. People passing out of the 
dazzling light and dry heat into the grey twilight and moist 
freshness of the Hall, felt a sense of relief on entering it. The 
majesty of the Palazzo Reale lent composure to their counte- 
nances and subdued their voices ; constraining admiration for 
its solidity of construction, the elegance of its arched ceiling, 
the strength of the quadruple pillars, and the eurythmy of the 
four triangular courts that grew out of its centre. 

" It resembles a construction of the Romans," remarked the 
Mayor of Arpino a fat personage with his badge of office 
slung across his portly figure, and gold spectacles, behind 
which he perpetually blinked to the Mayor of Aversa, a 
lawyer of fox-like cunning and squat, sturdy appearance. 

There was a murmur of argument and protestation at the 
foot of the grand staircase ; the ushers were politely inflexible. 
Unless you wore evening dress, you might not enter the Hall 
of Inauguration. Many of the uninitiated appeared in their 
overcoats. A tall, fair, burly exhibitor, brick-red in the face, 



ii6 FANTASY. 

with a diamond flashing on his little finger, had come in a cut- 
away jacket. 

" I exhibit a bull, two cows, two sheep, and twelve fowls : I 
shall pass in," he repeated ; " besides, I've got my wife with 
me, I must escort her." 

'' No one can enter here without evening dress," replied the 
ushers. 

" I don't mind being alone, Mimi," murmured his wife, a 
buxom provincial, dressed in mourning, with an enormous 
train, a hat and feathers, and superb briUiants in her ears. 

" Well, go up then, Rosalia. I'll go and have a look at the 
fowls. You'll find me in the park after the speechifying in 
evening dress is over." 

And thus did the overcoats disappear in the courtyards or 
the park, while men in evening attire and ladies slowly ascended 
the broad, low, milk-white marble steps of the majestic stair. 
The ladies heaved sighs of content, they revelled in the gradual 
ascent to regal magnificence and the charmed silence stirred 
by a luxurious silken rustle. Triumphant gentlemen in their 
black coats crowded upon them, hiding behind their opera- 
hats the self-satisfied ecstasy of their smile. The old Palace, 
which had witnessed the splendour of Carlo III., the folly of 
Maria Carolina, the military fetes of Murat, the popular ones 
of Ferdinand I., was awakening for an hour to the luxury of 
modern dress, the perfume of youth and beauty, the cold lustre 
of precious stones and all the lavish pomp of a court. That 
feast of the people, of the peasants that feast of the soil, of 
its fruits, and cereals, and animals, that should have been so 
humbly prosaic and commonplace was like a refined and 
courtly function, the birth of an hereditary prince or an 
ofiiicial New Year's reception. 

*' What victory for democracy, to have enthroned itself within 
the tyrant's halls, there to celebrate a rural feast," quoth the 
tun-bellied, squint-eyed lawyer Galante, from Cassino he 
was bald, and the only Socialist the province boasted to the 
monarchical chancellor, who was duly scandalised. 



FANTASY. n; 

The inauguration was to take place in the vast Farnese Hall 
with its four windows on the fagade ; between the windows was 
the ministerial platform, covered with green velvet adorned 
with gold cord, and furnished with a bell, an inkstand, three 
glasses, a water-bottle, and a sugar-basin, all pregnant widi 
meaning. Around them were grouped five red velvet arm- 
chairs. A step lower, between the ministerial platform and 
the body of the Hall, was the presidential platform, furnished 
with a grey carpet and five antique leather chairs. To the 
right, to the left, and in front, rows of chairs for those who 
had received invitations, three rows of armchairs for the ladies, 
and rush-bottomed ones for the men. 

When Lucia Altimare-Sanna and Cateiina Lieti appeared 
at the entrance, escorted by a single squire, Alberto Sanna, of 
the worn and gruesome countenance, Andrea Lieli hastily 
stepped down from the presidential eminence, darted through 
the crowd, and offered his arm to Lucia. 

" Follow me with Caterina, Alberto ; I'll find you a good 
place." 

A murmur followed Andrea and Lucia as they passed 
through the crowd. Lucia in her long white satin robe, that 
clung to her and gleamed like steel in the sun, where it was 
not swathed with antique lace, was truly lovely and captivating. 
On the loose plaits of dark hair which waved on her forehead 
was draped a priceless veil of finest Venetian point, in lieu of 
a bonnet ; it wound round her neck and was fastened under 
one ear by three white roses, fresh and dewy, with shell-pink 
hearts. No jewels. The same tint flushed her cheek, which 
was fuller than of yore ; the red lips, now no longer parched, 
were fuller too. She smiled on her tall, strong knight, who 
bent his handsome person protectingly towards her. 

" Who is she ? " " The wife of Lieti ? " " No, a relation of 
his wife's." " She is beautiful ! " " Too thin, but pleasing ! " 
"Too much dressed!" '^ Che I it's an official function." 
*' She is beautiful ! " * Beautiful ! " " Beautiful ! " 

The couple that followed in their wake passed unheeded 



iiS Fantasy. 

through the murmur, which, however, was not lost on either of 
them. Caterina was simply dressed in lilac. She wore a 
feather of the same pale colour on her tiny bonnet, and in her 
ears enormous diamond solitaires, '' to please Andrea." But 
she was small, modest, and obscured by her friend's lustre, as if 
she had tried to hide herself behind it, and her escort was 
undersized and undistinguished by either badge or decoration. 
He and she heard the '' Bella, klla, bella ! " that hovered in 
whispers on people's lips. 

" They admire Lucia," whispered Alberto, in the pride of 
his heart. 

" Of course, she is, and always has been, very beautiful," 
said Caterina, in placid and persistent admiration of her 
friend. 

" Oh ! not as she used to be. She was not nearly so 
attractive before her marriage. Now she is another woman. 
Happiness . . . . " 

" Lucia is an angel," declared Alberto, gravely. " I am not 
worthy of her. 

By this time they reached their places in the front row, 
opposite the platform. 

There were two armchairs for the ladies, who took their 
seats, while the men remained standing ; Andrea by the side 
of Lucia, Alberto by Caterina. Lucia's train fell at her feet 
in a fluffy heap of silk and lace, just allowing a glimpse of a 
tiny foot shod in white, silver-worked leather ; she fanned 
herself, for it was very hot. From time to time Andrea bent 
down to speak to her, and she raised her eyes as if to answer 
him in low tones, while a smile raised the corners of her lips 
and showed her teeth. Alberto, who was at a loss for a seat, 
was soon bored and wearied ; he had a presentiment of a 
lengthy ceremony. Caterina, who had been elected a member 
of the jury for needlework, in the Didactic section, was some- 
what preoccupied. The office appeared to her to be an 
onerous and important one ; what would they expect of her, 
and what if she proved inadequate? 



I<ANTASy. ii0 

" Who is that immensely tall man, rather bald, with the 
long black whiskers, who has just entered? How tall he is? 
Who is he, Signor Andrea ? " 

'' He is the Member for Santa Maria." 

" Dio mio I he is taller than you. I did not think that was 
possible. Will he speak ? " 

" I think not." 

" How sorry I am that you are not going to speak, 
Lieti. If I were your wife, I should have insisted on your 
speaking," 

Caterina started. " I did not think of it," she murmured, 
her mind running absently on the meeting of the ladies of the 
jury. 

" Alberto mio^ are you too warm ? How do you feel ? Will 
you have my fan ? " 

" I don't feel the heat ; I wish I could sit down. Thanks, 
dear." 

*' Lieti, will you find a chair for Alberto ; he gets so soon 
tired. I could not stay here, if he had to stand." 

Andrea sought, until he at last succeeded in finding a seat 
for Alberto in the next row, between two old ladies who sat 
behind Caterina. 

Alberto, with visible satisfaction, tucked himself between 
their skirts. 

"Are you comfortable now?" 

" Very, dearest." 
I " Will you have a lozenge ? " 

" No, by-and-by. Don't think of me : look about you, 
chatter, amuse yourself, Lucia." 

" My poor Alberto," said Lucia speaking so that only 
Andrea could hear her " is a continual source of torment to 
me. I would give my blood to enrich his." 

" You are good," said Andrea. 

Meanwhile the people were arriving in crovrds, and filUii^ 
every nook and corner, even to the recesses in the window, 
and the steps of the platform. In one corner sat a group cf 



120 FANTASY, 

young men chatting without lowering their voices ; one of them 
was scribbhng notes in a pocket-book, another making tele- 
graphic signs to the secretary of the committee, another 
yawning. Among them was a young woman, simply dressed 
in mourning ; her face, under her black-brimmed hat, was 
pale and sickly. 

" Those are the journalists," said Andrea to Lucia. " There 
are the correspondents of the Liberia^ the Popolo Romano^ the 
Fanfulla, for Rome ; of the Pungolo and the Piccolo^ for 
Naples." 

" And is she a journalist? " 

*' I think so, but I don't know her name." 

" I envy her, if she is intelligent ; she at least has an 
aim." 

" Bah ! you would rather be a woman." 

" Glory is worth having." 

" But love is better," he continued, in a serious tone. 

". . . . Love?" 

Caterina did not hear. She was thinking of home, where 
she fancied she had left the jewel-safe open. With these 
fashionable gowns it was impossible to put your keys in your 
pocket. Despite her confidence in her servants at Centurano, 
she could not help feeling a little anxious. 

" Do you remember, Lucia, if I locked the jewel-safe?" 

" No, dear, I do not remember. It will be quite safe, even 
if you have not locked it." 

" Do you, Signor Sanna?" 

*' Yes ; you locked it, and put the key under the clock." 

*' Thanks, thank you ; you take a load off my mind." 

" Signora Lucia, Caterina, I must go and speak to the Prime 
Minister." 

'' Are you going to leave us ? " 

"I shall be here opposite to you. Caterina, don't yawn, 
child, remember that you are the wife of the vice-president of 
a committee." 

She rmiled absently, and nodded to him. 



FANTASy. Ml 

A treble hedge of ladies, and then a multitude of black 
coats, on which the light dresses stood out like splashes of 
colour : a vivid, undulating crowd, disported itself under the 
gildings of the regal ceiling. 

'' Oh ! it's lovely, Caterina," said Lucia, flushed with excite- 
ment. At that moment there came from the staircase a 
suppressed sound of applause. A flutter stirred the whole 
assembly as it turned to face the Prime Minister, who entered, 
leaning on the arm of his friend, the Member for Caserta. He 
was lame on the one leg that had been wounded in battle ; he 
stooped slightly. His massive head was covered with thick 
iron-grey locks, well planted on a square brow : the head of 
a faidiful watch- dog, with bold, honest eyes, wide nostrils and 
a firm jaw. The grey moustache covered a mouth of almost 
infantile sweetness, to which the iinphiale lent a certain medi- 
tative seriousness. He bowed, taking evident pleasure in the 
prolonged applause, one of the few pleasures of official life; 
then ascended the platform, and after once more responding to 
the ovation, seated himself in its centre. 

** He is a brave man : he has fought in every battle ; he 
comes of a family of heroes," explained Lucia to Caterina. 

Then came the chorus of coughing, throat-scraping, and 
clearing of voices which precedes all speeches. Next to the 
Premier was seated the Member for Sora, a white-haired 
veteran whose chin was fringed with a white beard, a financier 
of somewhat furtive expression of countenance. On the left 
sat the Member for Capua, cool, composed, and distinguished- 
looking as ever. Two empty places. The Member for Caserta 
mingled with the crowd. The Prime Minister raised his voice 
to speak, amid breathless silence. 

To tell the truth, the collar of his uniform came up too high 
at the back of his neck and gave him an appearance of 
awkwardness. He leant forward while he spoke, gazing 
fixedly at one point in the Hall, losing himself and his words 
from sheer absence of mind, and occasionally indulging in long 
pauses that passed for oratorical efl"ects, but were probably due 



122 FANTASY. 

to the same cause. He pointed one hand on the table, while 
the right described a vague circular gesture, as if he were 
setting a clock. 

" He is unwinding the thread of his eloquence," quoth Lucia, 
with much emotion. 

He expressed himself poetically, here and there falling into 
the rhetorical, ready-made phrases which strike so pleasantly 
on the ear of an attentive crowd. " Yes, he was indeed happy 
to put aside for a moment the cares of State and the burden of 
politics, to be present at this festival of labour of labour that, 
despite its Immihty, is so ennobling to the horny hand of the 
peasant . . . ." 

No eflect. The Hall was filled with well-dressed land- 
owners, who did not appreciate this sentimentalism. 

" Besides," he continued, " this festival assumes an historic 
character. The Romans, ladies and gentlemen, our great 
ancestors, who were gifted with the very poetry of diction, 
named this province the Campania Felice . . . ." 

Here the assembly, moved by the music of his words, broke 
into thunders of applause. The journaUsts scribbled in their 
note-books, supporting them with an air of infinite importance 
either on their knees or against the wall. 

" We have named it Terra di Lavoro, a yet more poetic 
name, indicating as it does the daily call of man on his mother 
earth, on that earth that earth that Alma Demeter to whom 
of yore the labourers' hymns were raised. We also salute her, 
the beneficent mother, inexhaustible fount of social well-being, 
blessed bosom that nourishes us without stint or weariness." 

Here, being tired, he sipped. A thrill of satisfaction ran 
through the assembly, well pleased widi its statesman. He 
began again, shrugging his shoulders imperceptibly as if re- 
signed to their burden, and resumed. The moral atmosphere 
was cold, it needed warming. Then rang out the sonorous 
words and broad phrases of little meaning that floated like a 
vision before the mind's eye of the somewhat bewildered 
company. He spoke confusedly of enterprise, the new 



machinery we owe to England, the contadino, the vast future 
of agriculture ; on Bentham, on universal suffrage, primary 
instruction, the Horn of Plenty, and decentralisation. He 
slipped for a moment on " Regionalism," but caught himself 
up j then lost his way and became absorbed in thought, with 
one hand suspended in mid-air, arrested midway while de- 
scribing a circle. Slowly he came to himself again, referring to 
la patria and the fight for independence. The Hall rang with 
applause. 

" This magnificent Exhibition, which unites to the sheaf of 
corn of the poor cofttadino, the domestic animal trained by the 
aged dame, the flower cultivated by the fine lady, the school 
exercise written by the labourer's child, is a happy manifesta- 
tion of every energy, of every yes, of every force . . . ." 

And transported and intoxicated by his own words, his 
hand described so rapid a circle that the face of the in- 
visible clock appeared to be in imminent danger; he had 
knocked down the bell and an empty glass. He referred to 
the Government, to efface the impression produced by this 
disaster. 

'' The Government, ladies and gentlemen and especially 
the Minister for Agriculture, whom a slight indisposition has 
debarred from being here to-day says to you by my lips that 
this festival, a living proof of fecund prosperity and of useful 
activity, is a national festival. The afJuence of every single 
commune is the affluence of the State j this is the ideal the 
Government has in view. It will do its utmost within the 
limits of the means at its disposal, and the power it wields, to 
help this brave and laborious country where Garibaldi has 
fought and . . . ." 

" Viva Garibaldi ! " cried the company. 

"And where landed proprietors work together with their 
tenants for the good of the community. The Government is 
imbued with good intentions that in the course of time will 
become facts. But what appears to me to be the feature the 
most touching in its beauty is the holding of this domestic 



124 FANTASY. 

feast in the Palace of the banished Bourbons is this triumph 
of the people, where the people have so suffered . . . ." 

'' Betieeeer' 

" Only under a constitutional country h'ke ours, only under 
the beneficent rule of the House of Savoy, a race of knightly 
soldiers, could this miracle be accomplished. I call upon you 
to join with me in the cry, Fifa il Re ! Viva la Regina /" 

He fell back tired, his eye dull under its flaccid lid, while 
his under-lip hung slack. Mechanically he wiped his brow, 
while the crowd continued to applaud ; the Deputies closed up 
around him, and there wr.s some congratulatory hand-shaking. 
He thanked them with studied courtesy, bestowing Minis- 
terial hand-shakes and endeavouring to ensure his jeopardised 
majority. 

In the bustle which ensued Andrea hastened to join the ladies. 

" You liked it, didn't you ? Splendid voice ! " 

" He said some stupendous things that the stupid people did 
not understand," pronounced Lucia, disdainfully. 

And she opened her fan, so that she succeeded in attracting 
the notice of the group of journalists ; perhaps they would 
mention her in their reports. 

"Are you bored, Caterina?" queried Andrea. 

*' No, it's like the Chamber of Deputies," she replied, with 
placid resignation. 

" Are )cu hunijry ?" asked Andrea of Alberto, whose yawns 
were savagely distending the pallid lips of his wide mouth. 

" Hungry indeed ! I wish I were I " 

Then all resumed their seats, for the Member for Capua had 
advanced to the front of the platform, so that his entire person 
was visible ; he waited for silence, to read his paper. The 
Prime Minister had seated himself opposite to him, in that 
attitude of mock attention whose assumption is so notable a 
faculty in a statesman. 

The clear light eyes of the tall, distinguished-looking Deputy 
looked ikX at the crowd. He wore the riband of the order of 
SS. Maurizzio and Lazzero round his neck, and many foreign 



FANTASY, 125 

decorations at his button-hole. With his powerful torso, erect 
carriage, and a countenance so impassive that it neither 
expressed sound nor hearing, he was a perfect type of the 
ex-soldier. There was no denying that his appearance was 
more correct than that of the Prime Minister^ his features more 
refined, and his gestures more artistic. There was something 
British in the grave composure and sobriety of his diction. 
He read slowly, giving out every word with a high-bred voice 
that was almost acid in its sharpness. And, strange to say, 
his speech, which had been written beforehand, was a flat con- 
tradiction of the Prime Minister's rhetorical improvisation. 
He made short work of the poetry of the Horn of Plenty and 
the Sweat of the Brow. He said that the Exhibition was a 
step in the right direction, but it was not everything ; that the 
economic and financial movement had not yet begun to work 
among the labouring classes ; that its impetus must necessarily 
be deadened as long as the present harsh fiscal system 
continued to prevail; that certain experiments in English 
cultivation and model-farming had been unsuccessful. He 
said that it was of no avail to demand of the land more than 
it could yield : that only meant exhaustion. He added that the 
agricultural question was a far more serious one than it appeared 
to be, but that the splendour of southern skies and a mild 
climate softened the hardships of meridional provinces. This 
was the only concession to poetry made by this poet for he 
was, above all, a poet. But the unbiassed conscience of a 
wealthy and experienced landowner spoke higher in him than 
sentiment. The Minister Hstened, nodding his approval, as if 
all these ideas had been his own, instead of a frank and decided 
contradiction to everything he had said. The Member added, 
after a telling pause, and with a smile his first that he did 
not wish to preach pessimism on a day of rejoicing, and that 
this insight into genuine agricultural life was in itself of some 
moment. The province tendered its thanks to His Majesty's 
Government, in the person of its Premier, for promises on 
which it built hopes of sure fulfilment, for he who made them 



126 FANTASY, 

was a hero, a patriot, and a brave soldier. Ever sensitive to 
praise, the Prime Minister flushed like a boy with the pleasure 
of it ; then the Member calmly and quietly brought his speech 
to a close, without having sipped a drop of water or shown any 
signs of fatigue. The applause was prolonged, steady, and 
enthusiastic. The speech had been cold and lacking in 
sonorous rumble \ but the audience had felt the truth of it. 
The Prime Minister all but embraced his beloved Deputy, who 
in the last division had voted against him. He accepted the 
demonstration quietly. The spectators could decipher no 
meaning on his high-bred sphinx-Hke face. In profile he was 
more soldier-like than ever, and the only trace of nervous- 
ness about him was a slight involuntary movement of one 
shoulder. The public rose to salute the departing Prime 
Minister ; leaning on the Prefect's arm, he passed through the 
applause of the front rows, dragging the leg that had been 
wounded at Palermo, one of the personal glories that helped 
him to govern. Behind him came the Mayors and other 
functionaries, and all the journalists, in a bustle of importance. 
On the stairs there was a second, weak, scant attempt at 
applause. 

" The Member for Capua was fine, but cold, Caterina," said 
Lucia, who was standing to see the people pass. 

" Do you think so ? " said Caterina, who held no opinion on 
the subject, with indifference. 

" Oh ! cold," added Alberto, who always adopted the 
opinion of his wife. 

^' Shall we go?" 

'* I," said Caterina, timidly, '' have to go to the Didactic 
Exhibition ; their first meeting is for to-day." 

" Then Alberto and I will take a turn in the Exhibition, until 
you and your husband have shaken off these onerous duties." 

" Sai^ Lucia, I am tired, and I shan't take a turn in the 
Exhibition." 

*' Then we will go to the park." 

** Worse than ever, because of the sun," he persisted, 



FANTASY. 127 

beginning to sulk. Lucia smiled as if in resignation. Caterina 
was embarrassed J for until the meeting was over and the Prime 
Minister took his departure, she and her husband were not at 
liberty. 

"Well, Alberto mio, what will you do?'* 

" Drink an iced lemonade and go home. I shall sleep until 
dinner-time." 

' Bene, I will go home with you ; " she suppressed a sigh. 

*' Oh ! my poor heart, what a continual sacrifice," whispered 
Caterina, as she embraced her friend. 

A little later, Alberto passed alone through the Didactic 
section, and calling Caterina aside, said to her : 

" When you have finished, Signora Lieti, you will find Lucia 
in the park, quite alone, near the lake ; she is there thinking, 
dear soul. She pined for air, so I took her there and left her. 
I'm not a selfish man, andi'm going away to sleep. Can you 
go soon?" 

"As soon as I can." 

Alberto went off on those weak legs of his, of which the 
trousers were always baggy, turning up the collar of his coat 
because he was perspiring. He came upon Andrea in the 
Hemp section, in the midst of a group of exhibitors who were 
accompanying the Prime Minister. 

" When you've done here, go into the park, where you'll find 
your Signora with mine, awaiting you in the little shrubbery by 
the lake. But make haste. I'm going home to sleep. Is 
there a bar here ? " 

" Yes, on the ground-floor." 

" I want a glass of Marsala. Shall you be home in time for 
dinner?" 

" To be sure ; pleasant dreams to you.'* 

He watched him depart with pity for an existence so poor 
in health and strength, useless alike to himself and others. 
But this Minister was insatiable. As if he knew anything 
about madder, or dried beans, or yellow gourds ! Now it's 



128 FANTASY. 

the turn of the cocoons ! Andrea was beginning to weary : 
while the Prime Minister was engaged in conversation with the 
Prefect and the Member for Nola with that cadaverous face 
and ambiguous blond hair, he wouldn't be likely to speak to 
him. Andrea would have liked to leave ; he was getting bored 
with the official circle and the stupid march of inspection 
throughout the building. Besides, he suffered from the heat, 
and how cool it must be out there in the park ! Yet he 
lingered, a victim of his ambition, in the hope that the 
Minister would speak to him at last. 

" In the Grain section, I shall bolt, unless he sends for me 
before we get there," said he to himself. They passed not 
only the grain, but the fodder. Andrea felt his anger rising as 
they passed through the Hall of the Oils, upon which the sun 
cast yellow rays. " I shall leave him at the Wines," he thought ; 
he was incensed and quite red in the face. But in the Wine 
section, in front of a pyramid of bottles, the Minister called 
out : 

"SignorLieti!" 

" Your Excellency ! " 

" You are a brave worker in the common cause : here is 
some of your wine. Fine Italian wines should be cultivated, if 
only out of patriotism. We drink too much Bordeaux and 
Champagne ; France intoxicates us." 

" Your Excellency . . . ." 

" The congratulations of the Government are due to you, as 
an influential citizen, who utilises his activity in this public 
service .... to which I add my personal compliments." 

Andrea bowed low, in mingled pride and shyness. He had 
had his share : the Minister was now flattering the Member 
for Cassino also on his wines. Besides, they had been all 
over the Exhibition ; now they were about to inspect the cattle 
and poultry in the park. 

" Now he has spoken to me he won't say anything to me 
about my fowls ; I shall take to my heels." Contented, with the 
blood once more running freely through his veins, fanning himself 



FANTASY. 129 

with his gibus, his gloves stuck in his waistcoat, he slipped 
away by a back staircase which shortened the distance. 

" He will say nothing to me ... . nothing to me ... . 
nothing to me ... . nothing about the fowls," he hummed, 
as he crossed the courtyard. 

Once in the park, he walked rapidly, but was dissappointed 
in not meeting with any one at the lake of the Castelluccia. 

" Where can they have got to ?" he murmured, with flagging 
spirits. He went the round of the wide, oval shrubbery that 
fringes the little lake. In one corner, in a thin streak of light 
under the dome of her white, red-lined sunshade, sat Lucia, 
on a rustic bench. She was alone, and sat with her face turned 
away from him. Andrea thought he would turn back ; yet 
Caterina could not be far off. So he approached rather shyly, 
intimidated by the white figure, crowned with blonde rays, their 
radiance playing on her cheeks and on the rustic background. 
Lucia did not hear his steps, despite the rustle in the dry 
leaves. She uttered a cry when he appeared before her. 

"Oh! how easily you are frightened!" he said, with an 
assumed ease of manner. 

She held out a trembling hand to him. Andrea, . feeling 
rather awkward, remained standing before her. 

" Won't you sit down ? " 

" No ] I'm not tired." 

" Has it been a long affair?" 

** Have you been long waiting ? " 

**I think so j at least, it seemed long to me ;" she smiled a 
melancholy smile. ^* How beautiful it is here, Lieti!" 

" Oh I beautiful. What a fool I must look in evening 
clothes in the midst of this green country ! " 

" No ; for this country is artificial, it savours of powder and 
patches. The branches of these trees look as if they had been 
trimmed with scissors. Oh! who will give me Nature real 
great, omnipotent Nature ? " 

" When your voice falls in longing, it is enchanting," said 
Andrea, with admiration in his eyes. i 



ijo Pantasy, 

" Do not you long for real country ? " 
" Eh ! it is not always poetic. Sometimes it is barren, at 
others it smells too much of lime. But I know where to find 
your ideal ; the dark wood, the narrow paths, the lake hidden 
in the thicket . . . ." 

" Dto I , , . . You know where all that is, Andrea ! " And 
she crossed her hands on her bosom, her voice trembling from 
desire. 

" Here, in the English Garden." 
"Far, far, far?" 

" No ; near, three-quarters of an hour's walk." 
They looked fixedly at each other as if they were debating 
something. She cast a glance around her, and then bowed her 
head and sighed in resignation. Andrea felt inclined to sigh 
too, there was a weight upon his chest. With a gesture familiar 
to him, he threw down his hat and passed his hand through 
his curly hair. She stretched out a little foot whose jewelled 
buckle shone in the sun. 

"You are too beautiful to-day. It is quite insufferable," 
said Andrea, with a forced laugh. 

" To please Alberto .... I am not fond of dressing ex- 
travagantly ; I cannot see the pleasure of it. I am, as you 
know, inaccessible to vanity." 

" I know .... but I think Alberto is a fool." 
"Don't say so, Signor Andrea; poor Alberto, he is but 
unhappy." 

" You don't understand me. Why does he make you dress 
like that ? Every one looks at you. Isn't he jealous ? " 
No ; I think not." 

" If I were your husband I should be madly jealous," he 
cried. 

For the space of a second, Lucia was startled and shrank 
back. Then she broke into her habitual smile, a smile of 
voluptuous and seductive melancholy* 

" I am always frightening you," said Andrea, troubled, in a 
lamentable voice. 



FANTASY. 131 

" No j 1 know it's only your way." 

*' It's my temperament ; sometimes the blood goes to my 
head, and mad ideas get into it. Listen, let me say all. If 
I were your husband, I should be madly jealous, jealous to 
insanity. I feel that I should beat you, strangle you . . . ." 

Lucia closed her eyes, inebriated. 

" And listen, listen," he gasped ; " I want to tell you what I 
have never dared to say to you until now . . . .to ask your 
pardon for that evening .... when I behaved like a brute 
. . . . Have you forgiven me?" Thrilling with the mere 
thought of the scene he had evoked, his entreaty was as 
passionate as the emotion caused by memory. 

"Yes," she replied, a barely audible " yes," that came after 
some hesitation. 

" You do really forgive me? " 

*' I forgive you. Do not let us talk about it." 

" One word more. Did you say anything to . , ." 

"To whom?" 

**.... to Alberto?'' 

" No, nothing." 

" Thank you." 

He drew himself up as if he were both relieved and satisfied : 
there was a secret between them about which they could talk 
without being understood by any one else about which neither 
could think without knowing that the other shared the thought* 
Lucia started imperceptibly, and then turned and asked him : 

"And you?" 

"What?" 

" Have you spoken of it ? " 

"To whom?" 

" To Caterina, to your Nini? " 

** No, no .*..!" in evident agitation* 

" You might have told her," she replied slowly, " you tvho 
love her so much." 

" It would have pained her .... and . . . ." 

" Pained her for whom ? For your sake, perhaps/' 



132 FANTASY, 

*' For yours. She loves you " 

'* True. Caterina is an excellent creature, Signor Andrea : 
her good qualities are remarkable, although they make no 
show* Love her ever, for she deserves it ; love her with all 
yoUr might. Before my marriage, I used to fear that my 
Caterina, my sweet friend, was unhappy. She loves you above 
all ; make her happy . . . ." 

Caterina was coming towards them, smiling, and a little out 
of breath. 

"Have I kepL" you waiting very long? Have you been 
here long, Andrea ? " 

" No ; not very long." 

"Did the Prime Minister speak to you?" 

" Yes ; he was very complimentary." 

"About the wheat?" 

" No, about the wine made on the new system." 

"And the fowls?" 

"Nothing, I didn't go there. And what have you done, 
Nini ? " 

" Talkee, talkee, nothing settled. The worst of it is that I 
shall have to go there every morning." 

" For how many days ? " 

*' I don't know ; eight or ten, perhaps." 

" A bore, Nini ; but you are kind and patient." 

" That is what we were saying," observed Lucia ; " that you 
are an angel and worthy of adoration." 

" An angel and worthy of adoration," repeated Andrea, 
mechanically. 

IL 

The Princess Caracciolo, the great benefactress of the 
poor, the aged,' and the children, presided. She reigned in 
the Hall of Maria Carolina, where the ladies of the iury 
were assem.bled, with the mingled air of regal hauteur and 
amiable piety peculiar to her. An ascetic pallor had left her 
cheeks colourless and her lips faded; while her person 



FANTASY. 133 

retained the seductive grace of the woman who had loved, and 
loved to be beautiful. She had left her own poor and her 
children, for the sake of these other children. The thirty 
ladies had, with one voice, elected her as their president. 
There was only one man, the secretary, among them a 
professor, a pedagogue, saturated with the principles of Froebel 
and of Pick ; a bald, ambiguous-looking, and perfectly inno- y<j 
cuous being. The ladies of tTTeJuiy sat in a circle, on bro- 
caded couches, where the most opposite types were brought 
into juxtaposition. Three German teachers had come from 
Naples : one, tall, thin and brick-coloured, with her hair in a 
green net ; another, older, stout, florid, and dressed in black ; 
the third was a deal plank, with a waxen head stuck on the 
end of it ; all three had gold spectacles and guide-books. 
They were talking, with animation, to each other, in their own 
language, the deal plank ejaculating rapid jas by fits and 
starts. Then there were the Directresses of the Institutes of 
Caserta, Santa Maria, and Maddaloni ; all frills and cheap 
trinkets, black silk dresses, starched collars and light gloves. 
A couple of professors* wives, of the genus that teaches, brings 
children into the world, and does the cooking. They had pale, 
emaciated faces, were flat where they should have beenround,and 
protuberant where they should have been flat. Then eight or 
ten wealthy ladies from the neighbourhood, provincial aristo- 
cracy or plutocracy, wives of landed proprietors or communal 
^councillors ; with bored, inexpressive faces, and toilets that had 
come from Naples, some being worn awkwardly and others with 
supreme elegance. Among the notabilities were the Contessa 
Brambilla, a fresh-looking young woman, with perfectly white 
hair and very bright eyes ; the illustrious poetess Nina, small, 
fragile and vivacious as a grain of pepper ; the wife of the 
Member for Santa Maria, a calm austere woman, with full 
pensive eyes. All these ladies inspected each other with a 
curiosity they endeavoured to dissemble, while they discussed 
the relative merits of hand-made stockings, hand-stitched 
shirts, and darns in felt. Some of them carried special 



134 FANTASY. 

communications to and fro from the presidential pla^ 
form. 

Caterina was the most silent of them all ; she was reading, 
or pretending to read, in her little note-book. It was a present 
of the day before from her husband ; on its morocco binding 
was the name Nini. Andrea had become more tenderly 
affectionate of late, and in this tenderness she sunned herself 
with devout collectedness and the absence of demonstration 
that characterised her. When they were alone, Andrea would 
take her on his knee or carry her round tlieir room in his arms, 
murmuring *^Nini, Nini," ever " Nini/' while he kissed her. And 
it sometimes happened that on these occasions his voice trembled 
from emotion ; he no longer laughed his noisy laugh that used to 
make the house ring with its mirth. Perhaps it was because 
of the guests who had been with them for the last fortnight. 
Caterina had long known that Andrea's character had all the 
^\) delicacy of a woman's. In the presence of those two sickly 
beings, Alberto, a martyr to his cough, and Lucia, a prey to 
latent or pronounced nevfose, Andrea restrained the exube- 
rance of his perfect health. When he went out he abstained, 
from delicacy, from kissing Caterina in their presence ; for 
Alberto never kissed Lucia in public. Perhaps that was why 
Andrea made such enthusiastic love to her when they were 
alone, to make up for all the time they passed in a friendly 
^ariie carree. 

Caterina was not less bored than the other eight or ten 
ladies of her set. She could not appreciate the needlework 
exhibits : stockings in coarse, yellowish thread, knitted with 
rusty needles ; shirts covered with the fly-marks accumulated 
during the six months they had been in hand, sewn with big, 
inexpert stitches, ill-cut and folded in coarse material ; inter- 
minable productions in every kind of crochet, darns done with 
hair, miracles of patience, that made her sick. The exhibits 
had been sent in in heaps, badly arranged and catalogued, 
from rural schools, in which the teachers laboured, almost 
in vain, to teach the use of the needle to poor fingers 



FANTASY. 135 

hardened by the use of the spade rural schools that can 
neither provide needles, thread, irons, nor material wherewith 
to work. Caterina with her instinctive love of pure, fine, 
sweet-smelling linen, felt a sort of physical disgust in inspecting 
these objects of dubious whiteness. Besides, what did she 
know about it ? These humble accomplishments had not been 
taught her. She felt her own ignorance, and offered up inward 
thanks that it had saved her from the vice-presidency of a 
district. 

Meanwhile the meeting continued in academic form, in 
discussion that was at once official and colloquial. The vice- 
presidents read lengthy accounts of their own districts, and 
insisted on prizes being distributed to everybody : the poetess 
suggested buying materials for those pupils who were too poor 
to do so for themselves : the professor read letters of sympathy 
and adhesion from pedagoguish clubs and committees ; but 
Caterina heard not a word of it all. There was the cook, who 
did just as he chose lately. Since Lucia and Alberto had 
come to pass the villa season with her, Caterina was more 
particular than ever as to her table. Those two were so 
delicate ; they needed strong bouillon and light dishes ; quite a 
different diet from Andrea's, which was also hers. She and 
Andrea ate underdone meat and refreshing salads ; and the 
fish question was a serious one at Caserta, an inland town, 
where the fish had to be sent from Naples and Gaeta, and was 
not always fresh. One day, in fact one evening, Caterina had 
sent Peppino, a labourer, to Naples, for soles ; her two guests 
often partook of this delicate, innocuous fish. And now, 
what with official entertainments, banquets, and hotels filled to 
overflowing, the market was cleared out in a moment. 

Mouzu Giovanni, with whom she held a consultation every 
morning, shook his head doubtfully on the slightest provoca- 
tion, saying sceptically : 

" If we can get any ! If there is any in the market ! If it 
isn't all gone." 

This was the difficult question which Caterina was debating, 



136 FANTASY. 

while the Princess Caracciolo requested the ladies to proceed 
to the election of a vice-president, who in one report 
would combine those of six divisions. Caterina was in con- 
tinual fear of not having sufficiently mastered the study of 
Lucia's tastes, poor nervous creature that she was, whose 
jigestion was completely destroyed. She had arranged a 
pretty, fresh, airy room for her hung with Pompadour 
cretonne, a room full of pretty nicknacks, to please her. But 
she believed that in secret Lucia hankered after \\tx prie-dieu, 
which she had taken away from her father's house to her own 
in Via Bisignano. One afternoon, when Alberto and Andrea 
had gone out riding, Caterina had entered the room and found 
Lucia on her knees before a chair, just as she used to kneel 
at school. If she could but arrange with Alberto to send 
Peppino to Naples to fetch the prie-dieu^ what a pleasant 
surprise for Lucia ! It could surely be managed without much 
difficulty, and it would give her so much pleasure ! Ah, she 
must remember to write to Naples for good tea Souchong ; 
for Lucia said that from September on she could only drink 
tea in the evening : coffee was too exciting for her nerves. 
The question was whether she should write to Caflish or to 
Van Bol for Souchong ; Andrea would know ; he was aUvays 
well posted in such matters. 

" Signora Lieti, will 3^ou come and vote?" broke in the 
Princess Caracciolo, gently. 

Caterina, scarcely realising what she was doing, wrote the 
first name that occurred to her on her script, which she then 
lolled up and dropped in the crystal bowl. Looking at her 
litde gold watch, she returned to her place. It was getting 
late ; they had been there, losing their time, for nearly three 
hours. 

Elsewhere, at home for instance, she could have emi)loyed 
it usefully. The washerwoman had brought home an enor- 
mous pile of washing, and Caterina never allowed it to be 
ironed until she had carefully examined it and ascertained 
where a button or a tape was missing. The linen was new, but 



FANTASY. 137 

she suspected the washerwoman of using potash, because of 
certain tiny holes she had discovered therein. She had taxed 
her with it, and the woman had replied that she was incapable 
of such deception, and that all she used was pure wood-ash 
and soap. 

At last there was a stir in the meeting. The result of the 
voting was uncertain ; it was even remarkable for divergence 
of opinion. Each lady appeared either to have given her vote 
to herself or to the person who happened to be sitting next 
her. The Princess read out each scrip with the same indul- 
gent smile. She was a woman of unerring tact, who saw and 
noted all that befell in her presence. She requested the ladies 
to do their voting over again, and to make up their minds to 
one name, so that some result might be attained. They then 
formed into groups ; the Colonel's wife went from one juror to 
the other, talking to each in an undertone. 

"Signora Lieti, would you like to vote for the Member's 
wife ? We ought to get an unanimous vote." 

" I will vote for any one you please. Will the meeting last 
much longer ? '' 

'' Don't talk about it ; it's torture. To-day I am supposed 
to be at home to the superior officers, and my husband is 
there waiting for me, and I shall find him furious. Shall we 
decide on that name?" 

" I am quite of your opinion." 

AnJrea, Alberto, and Lucia were walking up and down the 
agricultural show. They had driven over to Caserta after 
luncheon, leaving Caterina in the Hall of the Didactic Jury, 
and promising to call for her soon. That day Alberto had 
declared that he felt perfectly well and strong, and he in- 
tended to see everything. Lucia, on the contrary, happened 
to be in a bad humour ; still she had vouchsafed a smile of 
melancholy joy when the news was broken to her. Andrea 
was happy in his summer garments a great relief to him after 
the evening attire which had sat so heavily on him the day 



138 FANTASY. 

befjre. He felt at his ease, free and content, and frequently- 
addressed himself to Alberto. Lucia, walking between them, 
listened in silence. They stopped before everything of in- 
terestshe longer than her companions so that she did not 
always keep up with them. 

" Are you in low spirits to-day ? " queried Andrea at last. 

" No, no," she replied, shaking her head. 

"Do you feel ill?" 

" Not worse than usual." 

"Then what is it?" 

"Nothing." /^^' 

" Nothing .... is too little." 

" It is nothing that spoils my life for me." 

** Don't ask her questions," said Alberto to Andrea, as they 
went on in front ; " it's one of her bad days." 

" What do you do when she is in one of her bad days ? " 

" Nothing. If she doesn't care to speak, I ask her no ques- 
tions ; if she speaks, I don't contradict her. It's the least I 
can do for her. Do you realise the sacrifice she has made in 
marrying me ? " 

" What an idea ! " 

"No, no; I am right. She is an angel, Andrea, an angel! 
and a woman at the same time. If I could but tell you .... 
No lemons or oranges here, are there, Andrea?" 

" No, Alberto. You must know that the soil is unfavourable 
to them. Besides, we are too far inland ; they thrive well 
along the coast. Have you many at Scrrento ? " 

"Oh, a good many; and, sai^ they yield six per cent, free 
of income-tax, while other produce only yields two and a 
half." 

Lucia broke in with her faint, dragging intonation : 

" Alberto, why don't we build a villa at Sorrento ? " 

" Eh ! It wouldn't be a bad plan. I have thought of it 
sometimes myself; but building runs away with time and 
money . . . ." 

" Not a palace > no big useless edifice. What would be the 



FANTASY. 139 

good of it? But a microscopic villa, a nest for us two, with 
three or four rooms flooded with sun ; a conservatory, and an 
underground kitchen that would not destroy the poetry of the 
house ; no dining-room, but a porch hung with jasmin and 
passion-flowers ; an aviary, where singing-birds would pipe and 
birds of Paradise hop from branch to branch and go together, 
we two alone, into that fragrant land, washed by that divine 
sea, and stay there together, apart from the world : thou restored 
to health, I dedicating myself to thee . . . ." 

She said all this to Alberto, looking the while at Andrea, 
who was rather embarrassed by such a demonstration of con- 
jugal affection. He pretended to be immersed in the study 
of onions, but not one of the slow, chiselled, seductive words 
escaped him. 

"You are right; it would be delightful, Lucia. We will 
think about it when we get back to Naples. Oh ! we really 
must build this nest. But where do you find these strange 
notions that would never occur to me? Who suggests them to 
you?" 

" The heart, Alberto. Shall we sit down ? " 

''By no means; I am not a bit tired. I am flourishing 
almost inclined for a ride. You are tired, perhaps ? " 

*'I am never tired," was the grave, deliberate answer. 
" Sometimes, Signor Andrea, I ask myself what the people 
would do without bread." 

"Eh !" he exclaimed. 

" If the wheat were to fail ! .... Who can have invented 
bread?" 

They turned to her in amazement; Alberto attempted a 
joke. 

"You should be able to tell us, Lucia. They must have 
taught you that at school, where you learnt so many things." 

" No ; there is nothing that I know. I am always thinking, 
but I know nothing." 

She was looking singularly youthful, in her simple cotton 
frock, striped white and blue, confined at the waist by a 



140 FANTASY. 

leather band, from which hung a small bag ; with a straw hat 
with a blue veil which the sun mottled with luminous spots; 
her chin was half buried in folds of the gauze that was tied 
under it. 

They had halted before a large panel, a marvel of patience, 
whose frame consisted of dried beans strung together. Along 
it ran a design executed in split peas in relief; the ground of 
the tablet itself was in fine wheat, threaded grain by grain. 
On it, m letters formed of lentils, might be read : " A Mar- 
GiiERiTA Di Savoia: Regina d'It\lia." 

" Whose work is it?" asked Lucia. 

" Two young ladie?, daughters of a landowner at San Leucio." 

" How old are they ? " 

'' I think .... about twenty eight or thirty." 

'' Are they beautiful ? " 

" Oh, no ; but so good." 

" That I am sure of. Do you know that in that tablet I can 
decipher a romance ? Poor creatures ! passing their lonely 
winter evenings imprisoned within their own walls, and finding 
their recreation in this lowly, provincial, inartistic work. And 
perhaps, labouring over it, they sighed for unrequited love 
.... an affection which their avaricious parents refused to 
sanction. Oh ! they foresaw their own existence an old 
maid's dull life. Poor picture ! I should like to buy it." 

" It's not for sale. Perhaps it will be Stnt to the Queen." 

By degrees her melancholy was infecting her companions 
by the contact of her fascinating sadness. Andrea shrugged 
his shoulders in an effoit to regain his good humour, but he 
had not the power to recall it the spring was gone. Albeito, 
tugging at his scanty moustache, tried to shake off the impres- 
sion of fatigue that had stolen upon him. 

" Is there much more to be seen ? " he inquired of Andrea. 

" I," observed Lucia, " have no will of my own. Take 
me where you please. Do you know that I belong to the 
ladies' jury for flowers? Yesterday I received the appoint- 
ment," 



FAN7ASY. 141 

"These juries are an epidsmir," exclaimed Alberto. " They 
take our wives away from us. The Signora Caterina has 
become invisible; now they want to sequestrate mine. I 
refuse my consent." 

" Have your own way ; I will do whatever you choose," said 
Lucia, with a smile. "Still the flower jury is a pretty idea .... 
To feel the delight of colour, perfume, exquisite form : to 
examine the most delicate, mysterious, extraordinary of flowers, 
and among them to seek the beautiful, the perfect one, the 
flower of flowers." 

"After all, there would be no harm in your accepting . . , 
Lucia," suggested Alberto. 

" Very well, then ; I will accept for your sake to please you 
Signor Andrea, what do you think about it ? " 

" I am not a competent judge," said Andrea, drily. 

Lucia, as if from fatigue, then slipped her arm through his, 
and leant on it. He started, smiled, and then quickened his 
step, as if he would run away with her .... They were 
about to enter the hemp-room : there it was, in the rough, in 
bundles, then combed, spun and made up in skeins ; a com- 
plete exhibition of it in every stage. 

" Look, look at this mass of hemp ; it is like the tresses of a 
Scandinavian maiden looking down from her balcony on the 
Baltic, awaiting her unknown lover. And this, paler still, so 
finely spun; might it not be the hair of Hamlet, Prince of 
Denmark ? Oh, how full of meaning are all these things for me ! '' 

" She sees things that people like us never see," said Alberto, 
as if to himself. " Tell me, Signor Andrea, is it true that the 
lives 01 the hemp-spinners are as wretched as those of the 
unfortunate peasants who work in the rice plantations ? " 

" Not quite so bad, but nearly, Signora Lucia. Hemp- 
netting is done at midsummer, in the dog-days ; a kind of heat 
that causes the exhalation of miasma. The water in which the 
hemp lies becomes putrid and poisons the atmosphere." 

" But do you know that what you're telling me is odious ? 
Do you know that our artificial life, that feeds on rural life, is 



142 FANTASY. 

an anthropophagous one ? Do you know that the daily homi- 
cide . . . . Oh ! Jet us go away, away from this place. This 
exhibition represents to me a place of human butchery." 

'' There is a little exaggeration in this view of it," he replied, 
not daring to contradict her flatly. " For the disease is 
decreasing, and fatal cases are growing less frequent. Land- 
owners supply quinine gratis to the women who fall ill. 
Besides, if we think seriously on all things mundane, we shall 
perceive that human life needs these obscure sacrifices. 
Progress . . . ." 

" You are as odious as you are wicked. I cannot bear you ; 
go away." 

She dropped his arm, as if in horror. Alberto sniggered at 
Andrea's sudden discomfiture. 

" Oh ! poor Andrea, didn't you know that Lucia was a 
humanitarian ? " 

" I did not know it," he replied, gravely. 

". Oh ! my heart is full of love for the disinherited of life ; 
for the poor, down-trodden ones ; for the pariahs of this cruel 
world. I love them deeply, warmly ; my heart burns with 
love for them." 

Andrea felt pained. * He felt the weakness of Lucia's argu- 
ment, but dared not prove it to her : he felt the predominance 
she usurped in conversation and over those who approached 
her, and shrank from it as from a danger. When she had leant 
on his arm he had throbbed, in every vein, with a full and ex- 
quisite pleasure. When she had dropped it, he had experienced 
a strange loneliness, he had felt himself shrink into something 
poorer and weaker, and was almost tempted to feel his arm, so 
that he might revive the sensation of the hand that had been 
withdrawn. Now Alberto was laughing at him, and that 
irritated him beyond measure .... That little Alberto, a 
being as stupid as he appeared innocuous, was capable of 
biting, when the spirit moved him. He could be poisonous, 
when he chose, the 'consumptive insect ! Why shouldn't he 
crush his head against the wall ? Andrea took off his light 



FANTASY. 143 

grey hat and fanned his face to disperse the mist of blind rage 
that clouded his brain. All three pursued their walk in silence, 
as if isolated by their own thoughts. The embarrassing 
silence prolonged itself. Alberto had an idea. 

" Make peace with Andrea, Lucia." 

" No ; he is a bad-hearted egotist." 

" Via, make it up. Don't you see he is sorry ?" 

"Are you sorry for what you said just now, Signor 
Andrea ? " 

''Mahf . . . ." 

"Repent at once, and we will be friends again, and you 
shall once more be my knight of the Exhibition. You do 
repent ? Here is my pledge of peace." 

She separated a spray of lilies of the valley from the bunch 
at her waist and gave it to him. He placed it in his button- 
hole, and, taking her hand in his, tucked it under his 
arm .... 

" And you, Alberto, who are the mediator between us, will 
you have some lilies ? " 

" What should I do with them ? I have no button-hole to 
this overcoat. You shall give me another pledge a kiss .... 
when we get home." 

Andrea squeezed the arm that rested on his, so hard that it 
was all she could do to suppress a cry. 

" Yes, yes," she stammered, trembling. 

"What is the average value of the Wine Show ?" inquired 
Alberto, who possessed vineyards in Puglia which produced 
the noted Lagarese. This he said with the air of a 
connoisseur .... 

" Not much," replied Andrea, with forced composure. " For 
the vine- growers have not all sent exhibits. You see, there 
are the special viticultural expositions. But there's some good 
in that too." 

" Is this your wine, that the Prime Minister praised you 
for?" 

" Yes ; and there is some more over there." 



144 PANTASY. 

"Does this wine intoxicate, Signer Andrea?" inquired 
Lucia. 

" That's according ; I have some of greater strength." 

" Intoxicating?" 

"Yes." 

" Wine is an excellent and beneficent gift. It gives intoxi- 
cation and forgetfulness," she said, slowly. 

" Forgetfulness," murmured Alberto ; " and the Signora 
Caterina, whom we are forgetting." 

The other two exchanged a rapid glance. They had indeed 
forgotten Caterina, who had been waiting for them for an hour 
in the Maria Carolina saloon, whence the other ladies had 
departed. 

At table, between the roast and the salad, Lucia mentioned 
that she had been, and was, still in low spirits on account of 
poor Galimberti. The impending misfortune took her appe- 
tite away. 

" What misfortune ? " asked Caterina. 

" His sister writes me that he begins to show signs of mental 
alienation." 

" Oh ! poor, poor man ! " 

" Most unhappy being, victim of blind fate, of cruel destiny. 
The case is not hopeless, but he has never been quite all 
there. In addition to this, they are poor, and do not Hke to 
confess their poverty." 

" Have you sent money ? " 

" They would be offended. I wrote to them." 

A shiver ran through the circle. When they separated for 
the night, Andrea was pensive. 

" What is the matter with you ? " said Caterina, who was 
plaiting her hair. 

" I am thinking of that unfortunate Galimberti. Let us send 
him something, anonymously," 

** Yes, let us send ! " 

*' All the more .... all the more because his misfortune 



FANTASY, 145 

might befall any of us," he added, so low that she did not hear 
him. A sudden terror had blanched his face. 



III. 

** This morning I feel so well, that I shall go for a ride." 

" It would be imprudent, Alberto/' said his wife, from her 
sofa. 

" No, no ; it will do me good. I shall ride Tetillo, a quiet 
horse that Andrea is having saddled for me. A two hours' 
ride on the Naples road . . . ." 

" It is too sunny, dear Alberto." 

" The sun will warm my blood. I am recovering my health, 
Lucia mia. I am getting quite fat. What are your plans ? " 

'' I don't care for anything. Perhaps 1 shan't go out. I am 
bored." 

" Bad day," murmured Alberto, as, clanking the silver spurs 
on his polished boots, he took his departure. 

Later on Caterina knocked at her door. 

" What are you going to do ? Are you going to the Exhibi- 
tion ? " 

" No ; it bores me." 

" You will be more bored, all alone here. Alberto won't 
come home till late; Andrea and I are sure to be late. 
Come ! " 

" I won't go ; the Exhibition bores me. I can never be with 
you for a moment there." 

" We can't help that. I feel it too, but it's not my fault." 

"And to-day, if I went, I should have to pace up and down 
those huge rooms alone." 

" Andrea might stay with you," urged Caterina, timidly, ever 
conscious of their latent antipathy. 

" We should quarrel." 

" Still ? " said the other, pained and surprised. 

" That's how it is ; we cannot agree." 

Caterina was silent ; after a pause, she said : 

K 



146 FANTASY. 

" But surely, to-day is the flower day ?" 

"To-day? I think not ... . True, it is to-day,'* 

" Then you cannot avoid going." 

" I can pretend to be ill." 

" It's a bad pretext." 

'' Well, I see I must sacrifice myself, and come." There was 
irritation hi her voice and manner as she hurriedly proceeded 
to dress. Caterina felt as humiliated, while she was waiting 
for her, as if she were to blame for the annoyance. During the 
drive from Centurano to Caserta, Lucia was silent, with a harsh 
expression on her face, keeping her eyes closed and her parasol 
down as if she neither wished to see nor hear. 

Caterina congratulated herself on having sent Andrea on 
before, while Lucia's insufferable fit of ill temper lasted. They 
arrived at the Palace at half-past twelve. They separated, 
without exchanging many words, appointing to meet each 
other at four. Caterina mounted the stairs leading to the 
Didactic Exhibition, and Lucia passed through the garden to 
the flower-show. There were crowds of fashionably attired 
ladies and gentlemen in those regions. Lucia moved slowly 
along the gravelled path to the right, under the chestnut-trees, 
and those whom she met turned to gaze at her. She wore a 
dress of darkest green brocade, short, close-fitting, and well 
draped ; it showed her little black shoes and open-work, green 
silk stockings. On her head was an aerial bonnet of palest 
pink tulle a cloud, a breath, without feathers or flowers, like a 
pink fi-oth. Now Caterina had left her, she was smiling at her 
own thoughts. The smile became more accentuated when, on 
turning the palisades of the Floral Exhibition to enter the 
conservatory containing the exotics, she met Andrea. 

" My dear Lieti, where are you going to ? " 

*^ Nowhere," he replied, with embarrassment; " I was looking 
for a friend from Maddaloni." 

" And have you found him ? " with an ironical smile. 

" No ; he hasn't come. I shall wait for him. And you ? " 

*' Oh ! you know all about me. I have come to the flower jury." 



FANTASY. 147 

" But it doesn't meet till two." 

" Really ? Oh ! what a feather-head ! and what shall I do 
till two ? I may not go to the * Didaclics,' and the 
' Agrarians ' bore me." 

"Stay with me," he entreated. 

"Alone?" 

"Here . . . ." 

" Without doing anything ? Every one will notice it." 

" Who do you think is going to gape and watch ? " 

" Every one, my friend." 

*' They will look at you," he said, bitterly ; although the words 
"my friend" delighted him. 

" And if they do, we must provide against it ; this is a scur- 
rilous province. It hides its own l>r'?-^eois vices and slanders 
the innocent." 

" Listen," murmured Andrea, taking her arm in his. " Why 
don't you come with me to the English Garden?" 

No . . . ." 

" It is so beautiful. The great trees cast their shadows over 
it, the paths rise, fall, and lose themselves among the roses ; 
under the water-lilies lies the still crystal water; under the 
reeds, the water murmurs as it flows ; there is no one there, and 
it is so cool . . . ." 

" Do not speak to me like that," she whispered, faintly. 

" Come, Lucia, come. That is the frame for your beauty. 
You are like a rose to-day ; come, and take your place among 
the roses." 

" Do not talk to me like that, for pity's sake, or you will kill 
me . . . ." Her teeth chattered as if from ague. 

He felt that she was losing consciousness, that she was going 
to faint. People were passing to and fro ; he was seized with 
a fear of ridicule. 

" Fear nothing ; I will not say another word. Come to your- 
self, I beseech you. If you care for me at all, come to your- 
self. Shall we go to the cattle-show ? It is crowded You 
will be safe there. Will you come ? " 



I4S FANTASY. 

" Lead me where you please," she replied faintly, while her 
bosom heaved and her nostrils quivered in the struggle for 
breath. 

They did not exchange a word on the way. They met 
several persons, who, seeing Andrea with a lady, bowed pro- 
foundly to him. Two young men made whispered remarks to 
each other. 

" They take me for your wife." 

" Do not say that to me, I entreat you." 

" You are not brave, Signor Lieti; you are afraid to hear the 
truth." 
^W " You have called me your friend . . . ." 

" Do you wish to make me repent it?" 

" Oh ! don't torment me. Dialectics are your strong point ; 
your thoughts are deep, weird, and often too cruel for me to 
\, fathom. I am at your mercy. You invest me, you capture 
me, and then you torture me. Remember that I am a child, 
an ignorant child a child all muscle and no imagination. 
Spare me." 

He raised his hand to his collar as if he were choking ; while 
he spoke, the tears had gathered in his eyes and voice. 

" Forgive me ; I will spare you," she said, sweetly humbling 
herself in her triumph. 

They passed under a great avenue of chestnut-trees where 
the sun cast little circles of golden light upon the ground. The 
heat was increasing. Some of the passers-by were fanning 
their flushed faces with their straw hats ; ladies unfurled their 
fans as they moved languidly along, overcome by the weight ot 
the atmosphere. They spoke but little to each other, looking 
down like two persons who were a prey to ennui. They 
turned and came to the first section. A walk led all round an 
immense rectangular meadow, which was enclosed by a stout 
palisade of medium height, divided into compartments for each 
animal. There was a little rack with a ring and a cord for 
each head of cattle ; the animals stood stolid and motionless, 
facing the spectators. The cows had good stupid heads, 



PANT AS V. 149 

benevolent eyes, and their ribs showed through their thin 
flanks. 

" Poor beasts," she whispered. " How ugly they are !" 

" Ugly, but useful. They are hardy animals, and all the 
better for being thin ; the milk is all the better for it. They 
are not so liable to disease, and they yield five hundred per 
cent, of their value." 

" You are fond of animals ? " 

*' Very; they are strong, useful, and docile. We humans do 
not always combine the same qualities." 

" But we have intellect." 

" You mean, egoism." 

" Well ; love is a species of egoism," affirmed Lucia, crossly. 

They progressed slowly. From behind the palisade the oxen 
gazed at them with serene eyes that were almost indicative 
of thought. Some of them bending their necks, under the 
sun that struck their hides, browsed bunches of grass. Now 
and again the dull impatient thud of their hoofs struck the 
scanty down-trodden grass of the meadow. The flies settled 
on the hard rough hides with their many seams. Sometimes 
an ox would strike his neck with his tongue and his flank with 
his tail, to rid himself of them ; but the flies returned insolentl 
to the attack, buzzing in the stifling atmosphere. Lucia opened 
a large Japanese fan, all gold-dust on a black ground, and 
fanned herself rapidly. 

" Do you feel the heat ? " 

*' Very much. And how suffocating it is here !" 

" Shall we sit down ? " 

" No j I am beginning to feel interested in the cattle. Besides, 
I feel the sun broiling my shoulders. I would rather walk." 

" Here are the buffaloes," explained Andrea. " You cannot 
have seen any before. They are of a nobler breed than these 
cows. Look at them ; don't you see how wild they look ? They 
are shaking those heads with the twisted horns. They are of 
a powerful, sanguine temperament; their blood is black and 
smoking. Have you ever drunk blood ? " 



150 FANTASY. 

" No," she replied, in amazement, yet sucking ner lips with 
a kind of longing. " What is it like ? " 

"A potent drink that puts strength into your veins. A 
idrink for soldiers, sportsmen, and brave men trained to 
corporal exercises. A cup of blood expands one's life." 

By degrees, while he spoke, Lucia's enthusiasm grew for the 
plenitude of strength expressed in Andrea's whole personality, 
for the vigour of his powerful frame and the plastic animalism 
that found in him its supreme and perfect development. A 
buffalo, in sudden rage, proceeded to bump its head against 
the wall. Lucia gazed in growing astonishment at the magni- 
tude of these stalls built in the open air, and at the motley 
show of sturdy brutes. 

** Are these buffaloes savage ? " she inquired, timidly. 

Very : the blood goes to their heads, as it might to the 
brain of a strong man. They are subject to fits of sanguine 
madness. They loathe red, it sends incendiary fumes to their 
brain." 

Lucia raised her perfumed handkerchief to her lips and 
stopped her nose with it. " This smell of cattle is not un- 
healthy," said Andrea, naively. " Indeed, it is good for the 
health. Doctors prescribe it for consumptive people. Your 
perfumes are far more injurious, they deprave the senses and 
shatter the nerves." 

** Depravity is human." 

" That is why I prefer the beasts, whose instincts are always 
healthy. We have come to the end of this section. Here is 
the finest of them all." 

It was a bull, a black bull with a white mark on its forehead, 
between its superb horns ; a sturdy, majestic creature, con- 
temptuous of its rack, to whom had been given a long cord 
and a wide enclosure : he tramped up and down his habitation 
without taking any notice of the onlookers, who expressed 
their timid admiration by whispered eulogies. 

" Oh ! how beautiful, how splendid ! " cried Lucia. 

** He is magnificent. He belongs to Piccirilli, of Casapulla 



PANTASy. t5l 

we shall give him the prize. He is the pure exceptional type, 
the perfection of the breed. A masterpiece, Lucia .... 
What is the matter ? " 

" I feel rather faint, take me down there to the water. The 
sun is burning my arms, and my brain is on fire." 

They went as far as the little fountain, under a tree, where 
there was a wooden cup. He dipped a handkerchief in water 
and applied it to her forehead. 

" Thank you, I am better ; I felt as though I were dying. 
Let us return, or rather let us continue walking here, we are 
too isolated." 

They passed by the horse-boxes, a row of little wooden 
houses that were closed that day. They could hear the 
frequent neighings that came from under the semi-obscurity, 
under the wooden roofs that were grilled by the midday sun, 
and the restless impatient pawing of many hoofs. 

" Those are the stallions, accustomed to free gallops across 
their native plains. They cannot bear inaction. Some of 
them can hear the mares neighing in the adjoining boxes. 
And they answer them by neighing and beating their tails 
against the walls." 

She turned pale again while he spoke, 

" Is it the sun again ? " he inquired. 

" The heat, the heat . . . ." 

Dark flushes dyed her cheeks, leaving them paler than before, 
with a feverish pallor. She tried to moisten her lips with the 
wet handkerchief; they were as dry as if the wind had cut 
them. The arm that rested on Andrea's weighed heavily. 

"Shall we enter that large building, Signor Andrea? At 
least we shall be out of the sun there. Do you know what I 
feel? Myriads of pricks under my skin, as close together 
and as sharp as needle-points. I think the cool shade will 
stop it." 

They entered a sort of large ground-floor barn with a 
slanting roof, where every species of domestic animal disported 
itself in cages or little hutches. The sjrave white rabl it with 



152 PA NT AS y, 

their pink noses and comic, pendant ears, were rolled up like 
bundles of cotton-wool at the back of their hutches. You 
could not see them without stooping, and then they edged still 
farther back in terror at not being able to run away. The 
fowls had a long compartment to themselves, a large wired 
pen, divided into many smaller ones. Big, fat, and motionless, 
their round eyes, watchful, disappeared now and then under 
the yellowish, flabby membrane that covered them. They 
butted their heads against the wire and pecked languidly at 
bran and barley prepared in little troughs for them, pecking at 
each other under the wing and cackling loudly, as if that cry 
were the yawn of a much bored fowl. The turkeys wore a 
more serious aspect \ they never stirred, maintaining their 
dignified composure. 

" Look, Lucia ; I always think that turkey-hens pipe for 
their chicks out in the world." 

"I have never seen one before. Are there no doves 
here ? " 

"No, only animals for agricultural purposes. Doves are 
luxuries. Are you fond of them ? " 

" Yes. I had one, but it died when I was a little girl." 

" I am sorry there are none here." 

A cock awakening from his torpor, and perceiving a ray of 
sunlight that had filtered through one of the windows, began 
to crow lustily cock-a-doodle-doo; then another answered in 
deeper tones, and a tliird broke in immediately. And the 
hens began to perform in high soprano, the turkey-hens in 
contralto, while the turkeys and their kin gobbled in deep 
bass. Crescendo, staccato, swelled the discordant symphony ; 
and patient visitors stopped their ears, while nervous ones ran 
away. Lucia's grasp tightened on Andrea's arm ; she leant her 
head against his shoulder to deaden the sound, stunned, 
coughing, laughing hysterically, struggling in vain for speech, 
while he smiled his good-tempered, phlegmatic smile at the 
animal chorus. Then by degrees came a decrescendo ; some 
of the performers suddenly stopped, others waxed fainter ; a few 



PANtASV. t53 

solitary ones held on, and, as if run down, stopped all at once. 
Lucia was still convulsed with laughter. 

" Have you never heard this beforv^ ? " 

A fat merino, of the height of a donkey, with abundant, 
dirty wool, disported himself in solitary state in his pen. 
Farther on, a greyish pig, with bright pink splotches that 
looked as if he had scratched them that colour, stood forgotten 
and unclassed, away from his fellows, like an exceptional and 
monstrous being that eschews all social intercourse. 

'* Come away, come away," said Lucia, whose nerves had 
been shaken, dragging her companion away ; " I won't look at 
anything else." She was seized with cramps and violent 
stitches, alternating with a stinging sensation which almost 
paralysed her. All the fire which the sun had transfused into 
her veins seemed to have concentrated itself at the nape and 
set her nerves in combustion. Andrea, who knew nothing of 
atmospheric effects, who could bask in the sun and walk 
through two rows of animals without discomfort, was un- 
conscious of these painful sensations ; he was as sane as Nature 
herself. They passed out into the garden, past the horse-boxes, 
where a ray of sun was beginning to broaden. Lucia hastened 
along with bowed head ; now the pain was in the top of her 
skull, the fluffy bonnet weighed like a leaden helmet; she 
could scarcely resist a longing to loosen her plaits and throw 
it off. 

" I am burning, burning ! " she kept saying to Andrea. 

*' What's to be done about the jury ? " 

" I'll go there. Oh ! this sun will kill me." 

" What can I do for you ; dip the handkerchief in water 
again?" 

" Yes, yes ; or rather let us hasten on." 

They crossed the enclosure, where the bull was now resting 
on his haunches, apparently infuriated by the sun, pawing the 
ground with one of his forefeet. Then came the whole show 
once more, with the buzzing flies, the glorious sun, and the 
animals' sleepy heads bowed under it. Lucia stuffed her 



154 PAl^tASV. 

handkerchief into her mouth and nostrils until she could 
hardly breathe. When she reached the cool anteroom next to 
the conservatory, her face was flushed, her lips blanched, and 
the brightness gone from her eyes. 

*' I thought I should have died," she said, after a while, to 
Andrea, who stood waiting in dismay and remorse. "Go 
away now, the ladies are coming." 

The Ducheso of San Celso had come to attend the flower 
jury from her villa. The veteran mofidaine was, if that were 
possible, more painted than usual ; her flabby charms draped in 
a youthful gown, and her dyed hair crowned by a small white 
bonnet ; she passed to and fro with bent back, crooked neck, 
and a liberal display of feet that were presentable. Three, or 
four ladies of the Neapolitan aristocracy had arrived : the 
Cantelmo, tall, fair and opulent of form ; Fanny Aldemoresco, 
small, dark and zingaresque, with hooked nose, olive skin, and 
dazzling eyes, attired in deep crimson ; the Delia Mara, with 
her fair cadaverous face, dull, leaden eyes, and pale hair ; there 
was besides a Capuan Countess, with a head like a viper ; the 
fat, insignificant wife of the Prefect, addicted to low curtseys 
and ceremonious salutations ; a general's widow ; and Lucia 
Altimare-Sanna. These ladies had taken several turns round 
where the beds were planted, and were inspecting them through 
the tortoiseshell lorgnettes poised on their noses, with upturned 
chin and severe judicial eye, turning to discuss them with the 
young men who followed in their train, and chatting vivaciously 
with each other. A little expanse of many-hued verbena was 
admired ; Fanny Aldemoresco pronounced it " mignon." The 
Altimare-Sanna, with whom she was acquainted, and to whom 
she addressed herself, replied that she hated verbena. She 
much preferred those musk-roses that grew so close and sweet- 
smelling, those large flesh-coloured ones with the curled petals. 
The Duchess of San Celso was of the same opinion ; indeed, 
she took a rose and placed it in the V-shaped opening of her 
dress, against her skinny throat. That Httle animated group 



FANTASY. 155 

of ladies, with waving fans and parasols and floating laces, 
the bright-coloured group whence came the sound of silvery 
laughter and little cries like the bickerings of tomtits, was 
beginning to attract a court around it. 

There was the oldest, perhaps the first, lover of the Duchess; 
he also had dyed hair, rouged cheeks, waxed moustachios ot 
dubious flaxen hue, and flabby hanging cheeks j and her young 
lover, handsome but very pale, with insolent black eyes, a 
sensual mouth, and the elegance of a poor young man en- 
riched by her Grace's bounty. There was Mimi d'Allemagna, 
who had come for the Cantelmo, and Cicillo Filomarina, her 
unavowed adorer, who had also come for her sake, and many 
others, either to keep appointments or for the fete or for fun. 
The Prefect, in evening dress, was always by the Duchess's 
side. These people came and went, to and fro, forming into 
little groups, yet always keeping together; exhaling an odour 
of veloutine and a mondaiji murmur, from under the great 
horse-chestnut- trees. The judgment of the bedding-out plants 
was soon over. When questioned as to their votes, the ladies 
assumed a very serious air. 

"We shall see .... we must consider .... we must 
decide . . . . " said the Aldemoresco, as serious as a politician 
who decHnes to be compromised. 

They entered the great conservatory, in which cut flowers 
and bouquets and delicate exotics were exhibited. It had 
been provided by the Prefect with blue sun-blinds, and as the 
day wore on a gentle breeze cooled the air. In the centre, 
under a group of palms, a fountain had been erected for the 
occasion \ stools, wicker- chairs, and benches were hidden in the 
profusion of flowers that bloomed in every corner. The ladies, 
as they entered, uttered sighs of satisfaction and relief. Out- 
side, the sun had scorched and the dust had choked them, and 
bedding-out flowers were of minor interest. Inside, the atmo- 
sphere was full of perfume and softened light. Pleasure beamed 
in their smiles; Lucia shivered and her nostrils dilated. 
Turning, the better to observe a great bush of heliotrope, she 



156 FAMTASV, 

perceived Andrea in the doorway, where he was chatting with 
Enrico Cantehiio ; she affected not to see him, but stooped to 
inhale a longer draught of its perfume. His eyes followed her 
absently, while he discussed horses with Cantelmo. Then he 
had a sudden inspiration : she turned round, and approaching 
a group of orchids, found herself in close proximity to the door ; 
Andrea understood her. He left Cantelmo, advanced towards 
her, and held out his hand as if they met for the first time in 
the course of the day. They conversed with the coolness of 
ordinary acquaintances. 

" How are you ? " 

" Better, thank you. Why have you returned ? " 

" .... I happened to pass this way. Besides, the place is 
full of people; there is no reason why I should not pass 
through it." 

*' Stay here, you must be fond of flowers." 

" No ; I don't care for them. This atmosphere is heavy with 
perfume." 

" Do you think so ? I don't notice it." 

" Oh ! it is overpowering. I don't know how so many ladies 
can endure it." 

'*I will exchange explanations with you, Signor Andrea. I 
adore these flowers and appreciate them. Look at this jasmin ; 
it is a star-like Spanish flower of strong perfunie a creeper 
that will cUng as tenaciously as humble, constant love." 

" What do you know of love ? " said Andrea, ironically. 

*' What is unknown to others, and what you do not know,'* 
she replied. " Look, look, how beautiful is that large sheaf of 
white and tea-roses, how light and delicate its colouring ! " 

" You wore the same flowers at the Casacalenda ball, and at 
the Inauguration the other day." 

" You have a good memory. Does this inspection weary 
you?" 

" No," he replied, with an effort, as if his mind had been 
wandering. 

" Lamarra's exhibits are the best, Signora Sanna," said the 



FANTASY. 157 

Cantelmo, stopping to talk to her. " We will award the prize to 
him. Jusllook at this flower-carpet." 

She passed on. Andrea and Lucia crossed to the extreme 
end of the great conservatory, where the flower-carpet was. 
Stretched on the ground was a long rectangular rug, entirely 
composed of heartsease in varied but funereal shades of velvety 
violet and yellow, streaked with black ; some of them large, 
with luscious petals, and others no bigger than your nail : no 
leaves. This funereal carpet was divided down its centre by a 
large cross formed of snowy gardenias which stood out in bold 
relief. 

" It looks like the covering of a tomb," she said. " I 
remember a picture of Morelli's : ' The Daughter of Jairus.' 
The carpet which is stretched on the ground and cuts the 
picture in two runs across the whole canvas." 

*' You take too much delight in sadness," said he, wearily. 

" Because the world is sad. These Neapolitan Lamarras 
are uneducated people, yet they have a feeling for art ; they 
understand that a flower may express joy, but that it often 
expresses sorrow. Gardenias are refined flowers ; they remind 
me of double, or rather of glorified, jasmin. The gardenia 
might almost have a soul, it certainly is not devoid of indivi- 
duality. Sometimes it is small and insignificant, with tightly 
curled petals ; at others as tall and delicate as an eighteen-year 
old maiden, and of transparent purity; or it is full and nobly 
developed and of a passionate whiteness. And when it fades 
it turns yellow, and when it dies it looks as if it had been con- 
sumed by fire." 

She was drawn to her full height before the mortuary carpet 
when she said this to him, absently and in an undertone, as it 
telling herself the story of the flowers. She was very pale, but 
her eyes were suffused with tenderness. A strong perfume 
rose from the gardenias so pungent that Andrea felt it prick 
his nostrils, mount to his brain and beat in his temples, where 
it seemed to him that the blood rushed heavily and swiftly. 

"Here," he said, wishing to get away from the funereal carpet 



158 FANTASY. 

and the sight of the cross that stood out in such dazzlmg 
whiteness on its dark background of pansies ; " here is a 
beautiful bouquet." 

" Yes, yes, it is pretty," said Lucia, approaching to examine 
it critically, and then moving away the better to observe its 
effect ; '' really charming, with a discreet virginal charm of its 
own. Don't you think so? It is composed of the most 
delicate and youthful-looking of exotics : the heart of the 
bouquet of minute fragrant mignonette; then a broad band of 
heliotrope, contrasting the pale licac of its lace-like blossoms 
with the green of the mignonette, and over all cloud-like 
sprays of heather which give an eftect of distance to the whole. 
Heather is a northern flower, lacking perfume and brillancy, 
but reposeful and grateful .... Here at least is a group of 
pure and innocuous flowers." 

Yet Andrea felt ill at ease while inhaling the delicate 
fragrance of mignonette and heliotrope. He felt as if his 
breath were failing him, with an unwonted oppression and a 
sensation of fatigue as if he had passed the night at a ball. 

" What do you say to Kruepper, Signora Sanna ? " said the 
San Celso, who passed, leaning on the arm of her young 
adorer, like a ruin about to fall to pieces. 

" I haven't yet seen it. Duchess." 

" Pray look at it : that German has something in him, he is 
inspired ; don't you think so, Gargiulo ? " 

" You always express yourself so well and artistically," 
replied the latter, with a tender inflexion in his voice, bending 
to kiss the bare skinny arm and hand which displayed the 
swollen veins of old age. 

They passed on. The crowd increased. The murmur of 
voices waxed louder; they smiled and jested more freely 
amid the luxuriant bloom ; some of them disappeared amid the 
shrubs and blossoming plants to chat with their friends,, to 
reappear with flushed faces and laughing behind their fans. 
The atmosphere grew heavier and more than ever charged with 
ylang-ylang, opoponax, new-mown hay, and other pungent 



FANTASY. 159 

feminine odours, and the perfume exhaled by silken stuffs, 
silken tresses, and lace that had lain amid sachets of orris. 
Those women were so many artificial flowers, with lips and 
cheeks tinted like their petals, with eyes as dark as the 
velvet heartsease, and skins as white and fragrant as gardenias. 
And it seemed as if the vitiated atmosphere suited their 
morbid brains and lungs, refreshed their sickly blood, and 
revived their worn-out nerves. Lucia's face was tinted with 
pink in patches; her melancholy, leaden eyelids were raised, 
unveiling the lightning of her glance ; pleasure acute as it was 
intense imprinted the smile on her lips. 

Andrea began to see the spectacle as in a dream. He 
could no longer struggle against the torpor that was numbing 
his overtaxed brain. He made violent efforts to shake it off, 
but in vain, for he was mastered by a prostration that seemed 
to break his joints. As to his legs, they felt like cotton-wool, 
lifeless and powerless. He could only feel the leaden weight of 
his head, and he feared that it would fall upon his chest because 
the throat had ceased to support it. Unconsciously he wiped 
great beads of perspiration from his forehead, while his listless 
eyes still followed Lucia. 

*' Here is Kruepper, of Naples," said Lucia. *' Oh ! look, 
look, Andrea." 

Kruepper, of Naples, exhibited many gradations of vases, 
wherein a monstrous tropical vegetation of cactus contorted 
itself with the twists and bends of a venomous green serpent : 
its pricks might have been fangs, its branches reared themselves 
or fell back as if their spine had been broken, or turned on 
one side as if overcome with sleep. These horror-inspiring 
branches supported a rich cup-like flower of transparent tex- 
ture and yellow pistils, or a white blossom like a lily : superb 
flowers that lived with splendour and intensity for twenty-four 
hours, chalices wherein burned strong incense. Lucia bent 
over one of them to inspire its perfume, as if she would fain 
have drawn all its essence from it. When she raised her head, 
her lips were powdered with fine yellow dust. 



t6o FANTASY. 

" Smell them, Andrea, they are intoxicating." 

'' No, it would make me ill," he said, rubbing his eyes to 
clear them of the mist that veiled them. The truth was that 
he would have given anything to sit down and go to sleep, or 
rather to stretch his full length on a sofa, or throw himself prone 
on the ground. Sleep was gradually creeping on him while he 
strove with all his might, but in vain, to keep awake. He kept 
his eyes open by force and squeezed one hand in the other, 
trying to think of something to keep himself awake with. 
But he longed to lay his head somewhere, no matter where, 
against something, only to sleep for five minutes. Five 
minutes would have sufficed, he knew it ; he was nodding 
already. The passers-by looked more than ever like phantoms 
gliding over the ground ; there was no noise, only an ever in- 
creasing haze, in which the flowers dilated, expanded and 
contracted, assuming fantastic aspects, strange colours and 
perfumes. Oh ! the perfume. Andrea felt it more acutely 
than anything else. It burned in his head like a flame, 
it filtered through the recesses and blended with the phos- 
phorus of his brain. His nerves vibrated until exhaustion 
supervened, and then somnolence, and that all-compelling 
catalepsy from which his prisoned will struggled in vain to free 
itself. 

All at once he turned : Lucia had disappeared. His pain 
at this discovery was so intense, that he would have uttered a 
loud cry but that his voice failed him. Then some of these 
female phantoms disappeared silently, as if the earth had 
swallowed them up. Could he get five minutes' sleep now, 
quietly ? No ; a shade had approached him. Cantelmo was 
talking of flowers, of Kruepper again, and the warlike sound ot 
the barbarous name annoyed him. What did he think of the 
hyacinths } 

The hyadnths reared their stately heads in a jardiniere of 
golden trellis-work. There were pink hyacinths, lilac ones 
and white, blendmg and uniting their voluptuous fragrance. 
Next to them, in a large Venetian amphora, stood a bunch 



FANTASY. i6r 

of ten magnolias, exhaling the strongest perfume of them 
all. 

In the lethargy that was upon him Andrea saw Lucia appear 
under the doorway. In her dark green dress, with her pink 
bonnet, she looked like a rose, a woman turned into a 
flower, a flower-made woman. To that flower Andrea felt all 
his being drawn and he longed .... sole, supreme desire, 
to seize that flower, press it to his lips, and drink in its life 
with its perfume. 

IV. 

The fountain Michelangelo Viglia .... 

SUL AUGUSTO ESEMPIO 

LO DO AD ALTRUIDA ME, 

dripped tranquilly into its grey stone basin. The second part 
of the inscription : 

IL PELEGRINO, IL VILLICO, 
XL CITTADINO L'AVRA. 
VENITE, DISSETATEVI, 
FRESCA PER VOI QUI STA . . . .* 

could not incite any one to accept its invitation. In the 
silent darkness of the night the solitary fountain repeated its 
purling cadence, for Centurano was asleep ; its grey, white, and 
yellov/ houses had all their shutters barred. The first lights to 
be extinguished had been those of the architect Maranca, who 
rose earlier than any one else to superintend the repairs of 
the dome of Caserta. Next to his, those of lawyer Marini, 
who had to plead a case on the morrow at the Court of Santa 
Maria; and then those of Judge Scardanaglia, with whom they 
had been keeping rather late hours to play at 7?ie iiatore, and 

* Literal translation : " Following an august example ... I give it 
from myself to others .... The pilgrim, the peasant . . . The citizen 
may have it ... , Come, quench your thirst .... Here is fresh water 
for you.'' 

L 



l62 FANTASY, 

because on the following day there was no sitting for him in 
the law courts. The friends of the Member for Santa Maria' 
had driven off towards Caserta after an exchange of salutations 
from the road to the balcony, in two sleepy carriage-loads 
lights, coachmen, and horses. The last lights to go out were 
those of Casa Lieti, at the corner, overlooking the fountain. 
The drawing-room had subsided into darkness; lights had 
appeared in the two sleeping apartments, divided from each 
other by an intermediate room, each having balconies that over- 
looked the street. Large and small shadows tall, thin ones, 
pigmies, and Colossi had flitted across the window-panes, 
defining themselves against the curtains. Then darkness. 

A dark night, dark with the profound density of meri- 
dional nights. A gleam of stars, a shining dust spread hap- 
hazard, hither and thither, with a beating motion, a palpitation 
of the constellations. Under them, amid the black fields, 
a whitish line was perceptible; the lane that led to the 
high road towards Caserta. The lamps were out. Suddenly 
the first balcony to the left opened; noiselessly, from the 
narrow opening, a slight white form emerged, remaining 
motionless on the balcony ; it was unrecognisable. It stood 
still, leaning again the balustrade. Was it gazing at the sky 
or at the soil ? Impossible to tell, nothing could be seen 
of it except that every now and then the hem of the white 
garment stirred as if an impatient foot had moved it. Behind 
that form, which appeared elongated against the dark back- 
ground of the night, the window remained ajar. It main- 
tained its immobility and its attitude of contemplation. The 
parish clock struck the quarter, and the calm sound rang out 
gently on the silent air. Then, with a slight creaking of 
hinges, the window to the right opened wide. A black mass, 
that melted into the general darkness, appeared ; but nothing 
was defined. A luminous point glowed, the end of a lighted 
cigar. At every breath drawn by the person smoking, the 
lighted end glowed brighter, casting a little light on a heavy 
moustache, and emitting a light cloud of smoke. Suddenly 



FANTASY. 163 

the glowing ember sped like a star, from the balcony to the 
road, and the dark mass passed to the extreme end of the 
balcony to approach the one on the left. The white shadow 
fluctuated and trembled ; it moved towards the right, standing 
at the corner motionless, then a breath traversed the space 
between them. 

"Lucia." 

The faintest breath made answer : " Andrea." 

That was all, except that the fountain, ever fresh and young, 
continued singing its eternal song. Above shimmered the 
Milky Way that overhung Caserta. They, immersed in the 
profound darkness of the night, gazed at each other athwart its 
shade, straining their sight to see each other through it. Not 
a movement, not a word. And so the time passed, and again 
the parish clock struck the quarter and they stood shrouded 
in darkness, without notion of space or time, losing themselves 
in the gloom, lost in the thought of searching each other's 
features. Once or twice the white figure leant over the balus- 
trade, as if overcome by fatigue; once or twice the dark, 
massive one leant over it as if to measure its height from the 
ground. But they drew back and fell into their former atti- 
tudes. Once or twice the figures hanging over the sides of 
their respective balconies appeared to stretch out their arms 
towards each other, but they fell back again, as if discouraged ; 
condemned to inaction, to the torture of unfulfilled desire; 
parts of that immovable, pitiless balcony, turned into statues of 
stone and iron. How long did it last, that torture of the 
minimum of distance, which in the night seemed immeasur- 
able, the torture of not seeing, while knowing each other to be 
so near ? At last a faint breath whispered : " Andrea." And a 
passionate one made answer : " Lucia." 

Through the air projected by a trembling hand flew a white 
object, from one balcony to the other. He caught it on the 
edge of the balustrade, just as it was about to fall. From a 
neighbouring ruin, an owl screeched three times ; a hoarse cry 
of terror answered from the left, and the white figure suddenly 



I64 FANTASY. 

disappeared : the window closed. On the balcony to the 
right, the dark mass stood waiting and watching. 

When Andrea re-entered his room, he found the lamp lighted 
and Caterina standing by the bed in slippers, fastening her 
wrapper. 

" What ails you, Andrea ?" 

" Nothing ; that's to say, I feel the heat." 

"Are you feverish, like last night?" 

*' No, no ; I was getting a little air on the balcony ; go back 
to bed, Caterina." 

"What is it?" 

" Nothing ; Nini, you have been dreaming." 

*' The cold air woke me. And when I felt for you, I found 
you missing." 

" Were you frightened ? Try to go to sleep again." 

She threw the wrapper off ; her mind was at rest. 

"To-morrow have you to rise early, Andrea?" 

" Yes, early." 

" At seven ?" 

" Yes." 

" Good-night." 

"Good-night." 

Caterina put out the light, crossed herself, and immediately 
fell asleep, according to her wont. Andrea had waited, throb- 
bing for that moment, to press to his heart the lace scarf, 
warm from the neck of Lucia, to kiss it, to put his teeth into 
it, to wind it round his hands and his throat, to cool his 
temples, and cover his eyes with it, during his long vigil. 

Next morning Alberto alarmed the whole household by his 
sighs and groans. On rising he had coughed three times, and 
while washing his face he had coughed again. His throat was 
rough and relaxed, and he complained of an oppression on his 
chest. 

" Where can I have caught cold ? Where can I have caught 
it? I who am so cautious. I always wear a silk hand- 



PANTASV. 165 

kerchief round my neck, and a flannel shirt. A draught, I 
suppose." 

He gave vent to his feelings in front of the glass, which re- 
flected a pale face ; putting out his tongue, trying to see down 
his throat, drawing long breaths to discover any possible obstruc- 
tion. Lucia comforted him sweetly. 

" Do you think I am ill ? Do I look very seedy ? " 

*' Why, no ; don't indulge in fancies. You have your every- 
day face. Often, when I'm quite well, I cough on getting out 
of bed." 

" Even when you wash your face ? " 

"Oh! always." 

" Oh ! really ? But I am so delicate ....*' 

" No, indeed, you are much stronger since we came here." 

**True, but I must take care not to get ill. Listen, Lucia; I 
should like to go to Naples, to day." 

''What for?" 

" For Cardcrelli to examine my chest thoroughly." 

" And leave me alone ? " 

" For a shoit time, dear. Sai, just to reassure myself." 

" I shall weary for you, Alberto inio. When do you return ? " 

" To-day, at half-past six, in time for dinner." 

*' Without fail, caro mio 1 " 

"Why, of course! When I arrive at the station, I shall 
breakfast ; then go home for a moment ; then to Carderelli, and 
back again." 

" Return, Alberto mio. I shall not move from this room ; I 
shall await thee here, counting the hours. Listen, my heart ; 
don't you think you caught this cold riding the day before 
yesterday ? " 

" True, true ; you are right, I am a fool ; you tried to persuade 
me not to go. I never take your advice, my Lucia. You are 
my good angel. I will tell Carderelli of my carelessness." 

" Ask him also if we are to stay on here." 

" Why ? I like being here. And you ? " 

" I am well wherever you are." 



1^6 Pantasv. 

Lucia appeared at breakfast with red eyes, and hardly ate 
anything. Andrea was silent, and so was Caterina ; they ex- 
changed looks of pity for the poor thing. Lucia recounted 
with much sadness the risk Alberto had run in insisting on 
riding, the cold he had caught by getting overheated, and her 
sorrow when she heard his harsh cough that morning, 

" I felt knives in my own chest," she concluded, with a fresh 
fit of weeping. 

Nobody ate another morsel. Caterina sat down beside her, 
trying to comfort her, holding her hands in hers, in memory of 
their school-days. Andrea stood by her side without finding a 
word to say to her. She regained her composure later. 

Caterina had to go to that never-ending "jury " ; luckily it 
was only to sit for two days longer. Lucia was so cast down 
that she did not even venture to propose that she should 
accompany her. Andrea, too, was obliged to go to Caserta, 
on business. Husband and wife took leave of her, Caterina 
kissed her cheek, Lucia sobbed and wept. This delayed their 
departure. Andrea was getting impatient, and Caterina feared 
that Lucia would perceive it. They bade her good-bye. 

." Return soon, my friends ; return soon," she said with 
intense languor. They turned to go. She called them back. 
They reappeared in the doorway. 

"Whatever happens, you, my friends, will always love 
me?" 

This question was addressed to both of them. They looked 
at each other : Caterina smiling, Andrea confused. 

" Yes, yes, yes ; I answer for him and for myself," cried 
Caterina. 

"You, too, Andrea?" 

" Yes," he replied, curtly. 

" Lucia appears .... rather queer to you ? " said Caterina, 
in the carriage, to her husband. 

"Tome? .... No." 

" She is so unhappy." 

*' I know . . . ." 



FANTASY, 167 

" How preoccupied you are ! " 

" In the Faete vineyards you know where they are ths 
vines have gone wrong." 

" Oh, dear ! Tell me all about it." 

The custodian of the English Garden bowed low to the pale 
lady in black, opened the gate for her, and inquired if she 
needed a guide. She refused, saying that she knew her way. 
Indeed, she trod the broad level path, whence branched many 
narrow ones, as deliberately as if she were accustomed to walk 
there. She had closed her black lace parasol, allowing the sun 
to warm her arms and shoulders under the slightly transparent 
gauze of her dress. Her black lace bonnet was fastened on 
with hammer-headed jet pins, like a veil. She hesitated when 
she reached the spot where the paths diverged. She turned 
and looked at the closed gate; through it she could catch 
a glimpse of the park, before her the enchanting incHne of the 
walks, sloping under green boughs. She turned slowly into 
one that was bordered by a hedge of green myrtle, treading so 
lightly that her high heels hardly touched the cool ground. 
The trees formed a verdant arch, like the walls of a grotto, and 
far off, at the end of the walk, a hole let in the light. She 
wandered on through the grey twilight, suffering a stray leaf 
that dropped from overhead to rest on her garments, standing 
to watch the lizards at play. Then she resumed her rhythmic 
walk, while her dress brushed the myrtle hedge, and her gaze 
wandered through the murmuring solitude. 

At the end of the slanting walk tliere was a little vale where 
other walks met and crossed; in its midst was a shady 
valley, shut in by dark hilly ground that was seamed in 
every direction by the yellow lines of the gravel. All round 
her stood horse-chestnuts, dwarf oaks, and tall, meagre, dusty 
eucalypti : complete solitude. She bent her steps towards the 
field, but all at once stopped midway, frightened and trembling, 
for Andrea had suddenly appeared before her. Without 
speaking, they looked into each other's eyes. He hs.d come 



i68 FANTASY. 

froLi below : she must have appeared to him like a Madonna, 
descending from the clouds. 

They did not speak, but went on side by side, without look- 
ing at each other. They went down into the vale ; Andrea, 
aggrieved because she was not hanging on his arm, yet not 
daring to ask her to do so. 

"How is it that you are here?" she asked, suddenly and 
curtly. 

*' I can't tell you. Down there the heat and the boredom 
were enough to kill one." 

*' For no other reason ? " 

" I . . . . thought you would come here." 

" And you were right ; it is fate." 

She looked tragic under her black veil, in her black gown, 
with the little silver dagger hanging from her waistband. The 
violet lines under her eyes gave them a voluptuous and sinister 
expression. 

" If Caterina were to come . . . ." she said, grinding her 
teeth. 

" She will not come . , , ." 

" It would be better that she came ; I could kill myself here.'* 

" Oh, Lucia ! " 

" Do not call me by my name. I hate you." 

Her tone was so passionate in its anger, her lips so livid, 
that he turned pale, and took off his hat to pass his hand 
across his forehead. Then suddenly two big tears burst from 
his frank, sorrowful eyes, ran down his honest, despairing face, 
and melted on his hands, 

" Oh ! Andrea, for pity's sake do not weep. Oh ! I implore 
you, do not make me so unhappy, so unhappy ! " 

** Cke! I am not weeping," he said, recovering himself and 
smiling. " It was a passing impression. It used to happen 
to me with my mother when I was a boy. Will you take my 
arm? I will take you all over this place." 

*' Where the shadow is deepest, where there is a sound of 
rushing water, where no one will think of coming," she mur- 



FANTASY. 169 

mured, in a melting mood. Leaning on his arm, in a narrow- 
lane where the hedges were high, she gathered sheaves of wild 
anemones and stuck bunches of them in her waistband, in the 
lace round her throat, and the ribbons of her parasol. 

Those hedges, blooming in the shade, pierced here and there 
by faint rays of sun, were fall of wild anemones. She slipped 
some into the pockets of his coat and others in his button-hole. 
Andrea laughed silently, delightedly ; happy in the sensation 
of the touch of those light fingers on the cloth. They said 
nothing to each other, but because of the narrow path she kept 
very close to him. A litde bird lightly grazed her brow. Lucia 
uttered a cry, started away from him, and ran on. 

"Come, come, Andrea; how enchanting!" 

They had reached a platform, a sort of green terrace that 
looked down over another valley. High up, from the side of 
the rock, rushed a dancing, foaming torrent, falling straight 
down like a white, flaky cataract, and forming far below a 
wide, limpid, but shallow stream, that ran like a nameless river 
to an unknown sea, between two rows of poplars. From the 
terrace they could look down on the little northern landscape, 
the placid stream, and pale verdure : while the fine spray 
refreshed their faces, and they revelled in the grateful moisture 
and the soft breeze from the falling water. 

" Oh ! how beautiful, how beautiful," said Lucia, absorbed. 

**This is better than your drawing-rooms, where one cannot 
breathe," he said, with a long breath. 

" It is beautiful . . . ." murmured Lucia. She rested her 
cheek against his shoulder, and he thrilled at the slight contact. 
Her hair was turned up high under the black lace, leaving the 
white nape bare ; her arm was bare under the silken gauze, and 
on the slightest pressure he could feel the rustle of the crisp 
diaphanous stuff. 

" Let us try to get down to the stream, to see where it goes," 
said Lucia. 

" There is no road down here." 

*' Let us find a way, an unknown way." 



17d . PANT AS y, 

" We shall lose ourselves." 

" Let us lose ourselves, for this is Paradise/* 

Soon they were making their way along an endless narrow 
path. They laughed as they hastened along. They came to an 
interminable avenue of exotic trees, ending in a square with a 
group of palms in its centre. They turned into a walk without 
knowing whither it led; she, who had relapsed into her melan- 
choly languor, allowing herself to be dragged. 

" You are tired ; let us sit on the ground, instead of looking 
for the stream." 

"Shall we die here?" 

" Perhaps some one will pass." 

*' No, do not say that any one may pass ; you frighten me 
how you frighten me ! Let us look for the stream." 

At last they found it \ shallower, narrower, slower than at its 
source, as if dying out under the trees. They stood by its 
edge, bending over it ; Lucia leant down to gaze at its grey 
bed where green weeds waved mysteriously. A green light 
was reflected on her face. She cast her anemones into the 
water, watching them disappear and following them with her 
eyes ; then she threw down others, interested and preoccupied 
in their destruction. When there were no more of her own, 
she took back those she had given to Andrea; he tried to 
oppose her. 

" No, no ; away with it all, all," said Lucia, harshly. 

And she threw tl.em away in bunche?, closing her eyes. 
When her hands were empty, she made a gesture as if to let 
herself go after them. 

" What are you doing ? " he said, seizing her wrists. " Let 
us sit here, will you ? " 

" Not here. Let us find a secret place, that no one knows 
of; a beautiful green place that the sun cannot reach, where 
we cannot see the sky ; I am afraid of all those things." 

They began the search again eagerly, climbing steep ascents 
and descending liitle precipices ; he supporting her by passing 
an arm round her waist. They crossed broad meadows, where 



I^ANTASV. I7t 

the damp grass wetted Lucia's little shoes ; holding each other 
by the hand, almost in each other's arms, with eyes averted, 
subdued by the innocent intoxication of verdant Nature. They 
came to a tiny stream -, Andrea took Lucia in his arms and 
placed her on the other side ; when he put her down his light 
pressure made her utter a cry. 

" Have I hurt you ?" he asked in contrition. 

** No." 

They had to stoop to pass under low-hanging boughs that 
knitted into each other like those of a virgin forest. A hare 
rushed by at full speed, to Lucia's great surprise. 

"Ah!" cried Andrea, biting his forefinger, "if I had but a 
gun." 

" Wicked, cruel, how can you long for the death of an inno- 
cent animal ? " 

" Oh ! it is rapture ; you cannot understand the wild excite- 
ment of a man on the track of a hare. It is a combat of 
animal cunning ; the man does not always get the best of it. 
But when he does hit his prey, and the animal falls in the 
death struggle, and the hot blood rushes out in floods . . , ." 

" It is horrible, horrible !" 

"Why?" said the other, ingenuously. 

"You have no heart, you have no feeling !" 

"You are jesting?" 

" Che ! I am in earnest. Do not say these cruel, blood- 
thirsty things to me. You can only realise hate, torture, re- 
venge. You know nothing of love." 

" But I neither hate nor love the hare. I kill it for the- 
pleasure of the thing." 

" Pleasure ! a great word ; that which you sacrifice everything 
to ; it is brutality." 

" I cannot argue with you," he said, humbly. " You always 
conquer me by saying things that pain me." 

" I wish you were good and tender-hearted," murmured 
Lucia, vaguely. " You men have bursts of violent but short- 
lived passion ; but women have constant, enduring tenderness." 



172 Pa NT AS v. 

" That is why love is so beautiful," he cried, triumphantly. 

To save her from being scratched by a straggling briar, 
Andrea drew her towards him, murmuring close to her ear : 
*' Love .... love." 

She permitted him to do so at first, and tolerated his 
breath on her cheeks, but all at once freed herself in alarm, 
with eyes apparently fixed on a terrible vision. 

" I want to go away, away from here," stamping her feet 
nervously, gasping from terror. 

** Let us go," he said, bowing his head, subjugated, incapable 
of having any other will than Lucia's. He tried to find a way 
out, and went as far as the turning, where he disappeared amid 
the trees. Then he returned to Lucia, whom the thought of 
going away had already calmed. 

"Over there," he said, "is the little lake I told you of, and 
the way out besides. We can get there by a short cut." 

They wended their way in silence, he playing with the 
parasol, as if he meant to break it, while he tried to subdue 
his anger. They found themselves, by means of a descent so 
steep that it seemed as if it must lead underground, at the spot 
for which they had been seeking, but which they now no longer 
cared for. 

It was a tiny, round lake ; its clear water was of a trans- 
parent tint deep-set in the wooded hills of the English Garden, 
which screened it from sight and made it difficult of approach ; 
invisible, except to those who stood on its margin. This margin 
was planted with pale-leaved acacias, and tall, lean, dull-green 
poplars. Bending into its waters from the shore, a desolate, 
nymph-like weeping willow laved its pale-green hair. The 
ground was covered with short, close turf, studded here and 
there with bunches of shamrock. Flowerless, velvet-leaved 
aquatic plants floated on the surface of its still waters. Li 
one spot, close to the shore, a Ninfea had risen from its depths 
to display the large white blossom that lures the male flowers, 
its lovers, to break from their roots and die. The landscape 
was steeped in a grey light, so soft that it appeared to fall 



FANTASY. 173 

through an awning ; a mere reflection of the sun, toned down 
and attenuated. No sound, complete forgetfulness ; the cool, 
unknown, ideal spot where none came nor went. A hint of 
far-off, pale, blue distance, high up among the trees .... She 
stood in speechless contemplation on the shore. 

" What is the name of this lake ? " she asked, without turning 
to Andrea. 

^^ Bagno di Venere,^* 

"Why?" 

*' Look there." 

Behind the weeping willow there rose out of the waters of 
the lake a marble statue of the goddess. She was white and 
of life-size; her head, like that of every other Venus, was too 
small and had the beauty of this imperfection. Her hair was 
partly bound to her nape, partly hanging on her neck. The 
water came up to her waist, hiding the lower part of her body; 
under the surface, reeds and other aquatic plants formed a 
pedestal for the white bust. The full-throated Venus leant 
forward to gaze placidly into the water, her still bosom inflated 
with delight, as if she had no cause of complaint against it, or 
the plants held her bound in their enchantments. When Lucia 
turned from the apparition to Andrea, her expression had 
undergone a change. Thought was on her brow, in her eyes, 
on her lips. 

" And what is there over there, Andrea ? '* 

*' Come and see." 

It was something hidden in the trees. They went round 
the lake to it and found the ruin of a mock portico, with eight 
or ten columns, falling into utter decay, and a hole made in 
the roof through which the weeds grew in abundance. The 
cracked walls, after the antique, were peeling ; the ivy was 
devouring the mock ruin in good earnest ; some of its stones 
had fallen. Under the damp shelter of the portico there was 
a musty smell that made one shudder, like the air of a 
vault. 

** And this, Andrea?" 



174 FANTASY, 

'^ The ruin of a portico." 

*' There must have been a temple ? " 

*' Yes ; the temple of Venus." 

" Venus, who at night descends from her altar to bathe in 
the lake," she said, dreamily. " One night, jealous Dian 
enchanted her and bound her in the waters. Never more did 
Venus return to the temple ; the temple, reft of the goddess, 
fell, and was no more. All that is left of it is the portico ; that 
will also fall. For all eternity, through the moon's spell, Venus 
is a prisoner amid the waters that gnaw her feet and the reeds 
that pierce her sides. One fatal day the rotten pedestal will 
give way, and fallen Venus will lie drowned at the bottom of 
the lake." 

She was silent. 

*' Speak on, speak," whispered Andrea, taking her hand in 
his; "your voice is music, and you say strange, harmonious 
things." 

She left her gloved hand in his, but did not add another 
word, keeping her eyes fixed on the hole in the roof which let 
in the light. His fingers strayed idly to her wrist, and thence 
to where the glove joined the sleeve of her dress. 

" Have you a pencil ? " she said. 

Andrea took a gold pencil-case off his watch-chain and gave 
it to her. She sought the darkest corner of the portico, and 
thereon traced the outline of a heart. Inside she wrote : 

A VENERE DEA 
LUCIA, 

and gave Andrea back the pencil. He stooped to read her 
inscription, and thus wrote his own name : 

A VENERE DEA 

LUCIA 

ANDREA. 

" Fate, fate," she cried, escaping from Andrea's outstretched 
arms. 



FANTASY, 175 

She had seated herself on the ground, with her h'ttle feet 
almost in the water, so that the white lace of her petticoats 
peeped out from under the skirt of her dress. Her parasol 
lay on the ground, at some distance. She picked up little 
pellets of earth with her black-gloved hands and threw them 
into the lake, watching them dissolve in the water, and the 
concentric circles that widened around them like wrinkles. 
Beside her sat Andrea, noting the curves of her white throat, 
and the movements of the arm and fingers that played with 
the soil. He had cast aside his hat to let the cool, moist air 
play on his heated brow. Although she did not turn towards 
him, she appeared to feel the influence of that passionate gaze, 
for every now and then she swayed towards him as if to fall 
into his arms. He hardly dared to move, under the spell of a 
new and exquisite emotion, inspired by a woman as fragile as 
she was seductive. When she was tired of throwing grassy 
"pellets into the water, she let her hand lie on the turf. Andrea 
took the hand and began gently to unbutton her glove, looking 
sideways at her, fearful of angering her. But no, Lucia closed 
her eyes as if she were going to sleep. When he had got one 
glove off, he thrilled with triumph ; then, reaching out a little 
further, he as gently took off the other. He threw them on 
the grass, near to his hat and the parasol. When he as gently 
stroked her arm through the transparent sleeve, Lucia drew it 
away, but without smile or anger ; she was looking at the 
Venus Anadyomene, through the green screen of the willow. 
Then she slowly unfastened the black lace scarf that fastened 
her bonnet under the chin and cast the ends behind her : she 
drew out the hammer-headed pins and stuck them in the turf, 
as if it were a pincushion, and, taking off her bonnet, sent it to 
join the gloves and parasol. Then she rose, bent over the 
water, and smiling took up some in the hollow of her hand 
and bathed her temples with it, her lips aflame, and her hair 
dripping. He lost his head, and, rising to his full height, clasped 
her in his arms and kissed her wildly on eyes, throat, and 
wrists .... She struggled in 1 is embrace, but uttered no cry; 



176 FANTASY. 

her eyes wcie dilated, and her lips tightly drawn j with hair 
dishevelled, she screened her face. 

" Leave me, leave me." 

" No, love .... my love . . . ." 

** Leave me, I implore you." 

" Oh ! my beautiful love, love of my life." 

" Andrea, for the love I bear you, let me go.'* 

He instantly loosed his hold on her. The lace round her 
neck was torn, and there were red marks on her throat and 
wrists; her breath came short and quick, yet she looked at 
him with the triumphant pride of a queen. Andrea, with 
nerves and senses calmed after the outburst, smiled in humble 
rapture. They resumed their places on the turf, she reclining, 
with one arm under her head, to keep it off the ground, looking 
up at the sky ; he crosswise, so that his head scarcely reached 
her knee. Lucia still gazing at the sky, stroked his hair with 
a gesture that was almost maternal, while he rubbed his head 
against the hand that toyed with his curls, like a cat who is 
being petted. Then under the stillness of the great trees, a 
voice rang out, cool and clear : 

" Andrea, what we are doing is infamous." 

" Why, my sainted love ? " 

"If you do not realise our infamy, I cannot explain it to you. 
Remember two innocent beings who love us, who will suffer 
through us Alberto and Caterina." 
^" They will never know." 

" Maybe, but the infamy and the treachery will be ours. 
We are not meant to love each other." 

" Why, if I love you ? You are my heart, my sweetness, my 
perfume . . . ." 

" Hold your peace. This love is a sin, Andrea." 

I know nothing about it. I love you, you arc fond of me; 
you have said so." 

" I adore you," she said, coldly. " I feel that this love is 
driving me mad ; but it must cease. It is a sin before God, a 
crime in the eyes of man, a felony in the sight of the law." 



FANTASY. 177 

" What care I for God, or man, or law ? I love you . . . ." 

" We are guilty sinners. Every tribunal, human and divine, 
condemns us . . . ." 

" What matter ?....! love you ! " 

" We are full of deceit, bad faith, and iniquity. 

" Love, cast these nightmares aside. Give me a kiss ; no 
one sees us." 

*' No, it is a sacrilege. I belong to another man ; you to 
another woman." 

"Then what have we come here for?" he whined like a 
child. " W^hy did you give me your scarf last night ? Why 
did you make me love you ? What am I to do now ? Must 
I die ? I cannot live without you, without kissing you. I cannot 
live if you are not mine. You are beautiful, and I love you ; 
it is Kot my fault." 

" It is fate," she concluded, funereally crossing both hands 
under her head, and closing her eyes as if awaiting death. 

" Lucia," broke in Andrea, in the tones of a melancholy child. 

"Well?" 

" Do you love me ? " 

" Yes." 

"Say it: *! love you.' " 

" I love you," she repeated, monotonously. 

" And how much do you love me, dear love ? " 

" I cannot measure it." 

" Tell me, about how much," he persisted, childishly. 

" Let me think," she said, crossly. 

" What are you thiiij^ing of? Lucia l>elia, Lucia niia^ tell me 
what you are thinking of? " 

" Of you, rash boy," said Lucia, starting suddenly into an 
upright posture, and taking his head between her hands to look 
him straight in the eyes . ..." Of you, unthinking creature, 
who are about to commit a terrible act, with nothing but love 
in your heart : neither fear nor remorse . . . ." 

" Why remorse ? I love you, I want but you, naught besides." 

" Bravo ! hov/ straight to the goal ! You will have your 

M 



17^ PANTASV. 

way. Do you know what you leave behind you ? Do you 
gauge all that you lose or what the future holds in store for 
you?" 

" No, neither do I care ; I only care to know that you love 
me . . . ." 

" Be a man, Andrea. Love is so serious a thing, passion is 
so terrible. Beware \ there is great danger for you, in loving, 
in being loved, by me." 

" I know it ; that is what tempts me." 

" I am not speaking for myself. I am an unhappy, suffering 
being, a defenceless prey to human passion. I love you, and 
I yield to this my love, even if it is to cost me my life. It is 
%i you that I speak. I am a fatal woman : I shall bring mis- 
fortune upon you." 

" So be it. I love you." 

" This love is madness, Andrea." 

" So be it. I will have it so." 

" You are binding yourself for life, Andrea." 

" Oh ! Lucia ; tell me that you love me." 

She moved towards the shore, and spread her arms as if in 
invocation : 

* Oh ! distant sky, oh ! passing clouds, oh 1 trees that 
crowd together to mirror yourselves in the lake, bear witness 
that I have told him the truth. Oh 1 sorrowing willow, oh ! 
still waters, oh 1 reeds ard lilies, you have heard my words. 
Oh I Mother, Venus, Goddess, I have read the future for him. 
Thou Nature, who liest not, bear witness that I have not lied. 
'Tis he will have it so." 

" How divine you are, joy of my life 1 " 

She turned, and throwing her arms round his neck, gave 
him kiss for kiss. Then, as if everything were irrevocably 
1 settled, she calmly picked up her things. 

" It is fate," she added. Then the tall, haughty, queen-like 
figure moved slowly down the path, followed by her love-lcrn 
vassal 



PART IV. 



I. 



One rainy day, the Agrarian Exhibition closed, after a 
hurried ceremony, in which the prizes had been distributed in 
the presence of a scanty and discontented audience. Those 
who had not obtained prizes wrote incendiary articles to the local 
papers, and sent paid communications to the more important 
Neapolitan ones. The awards in the Didactic Exhibition had 
also been very unsatisfactory, for every teacher had expected 
the gold medal. The private'school-teachers were wroth with 
parish school-teachers, and the latter with the " College " 
teachers. The ladies Sanna and Lieti had refrained from 
driving to Caserta on that occasion, on account of the bad 
weather, and because the fete had no attractions for them. 

Caterina, freed from, the necessity of wasting whole days in 
driving backwards and forwards between Centurano and 
Caserta, enjoyed being able to stay at home. She had so 
much to arrange, so many shortcomings to atone for, so many 
household projects to carry out. There were the preserves to 
make j a great function in which Monzu succeeded admirably, 
although he needed a certain supervision, so that when the 
crystal jars were opened during the winter, at Naples, none of 
their contents turned out mouldy ; that was what happened, 
last year, to two large jars of peaches : they had turned out 
quite green : such a pity ! Then there were the capers, 
gherkins, capsicums, and parsnips to pickle in strong four- 
year-old vinegar : they would need a great number of jars, for 
Andrea, was fond, of pickles and ate a great deal with Icsso and 



iSo K4i\7ASY. 

roast meat. Of course Caterina never touched these things 
while they were being prepared, but her presence and advice 
were necessary. Monzu had the greatest esteem for his own 
culinary talents, but he always declared that senza f occhio della 
Signora [without the mistress's eye] he had no pleasure in his 
work. Her rule was firm but gentle, she did not speak to her 
servants more than was necessary, neither did she bestow 
extraordinary mance [presents in money] on them. She pre- 
ferred giving them left-off clothing ; they had food and drink 
without stint, and clean, comfortable sleeping apartments. 
She inspired them with a certain affectionate respect, so that 
they always boasted of their mistress to the servants of the 
neighbouring villas. Oh ! she had so much to think about. 
There was more linen to be made up ; the linen was a never- 
ending affair. Andrea had declared that the collars of some of 
his shirts were out of fashion, and that he wouldn't wear them 
any more. He had ordered six of Tesorone, the first shirt- 
maker in Naples, and after that she wished to have two winter 
wrappers copied from a beautiful pattern of Lucia Sanna's, 
although she feared that those flowing, voluminous garments 
would not suit her little figure. And Lucia Sanna said that 
she was glad to be able to stay at home with her dear husband. 
Alberto continued to suffer from a cold, but he was getting 
better ; instead of coughing in the morning, he coughed at 
night, an effect, he thought, of the coolness of the sheets. 
Carderelli had told him that his lungs were delicate, but 
healthy ; that he must begin to take cod-liver oil, and continue 
to take a i^\^ drops of Fowler's arsenic after dinner, and 
occasionally a spoonful of Eau de goiidron on rising. Diet 
he must be careful as to diet; milk food, eggs, no salted 
viands, no pepper, nothing heating, no fries. This was a 
matter that Alberto was fond of discussing with the Signora 
Lieti, his good friend and under-nurse. He clung to her 
skirts while she ordered breakfast and dinner, and Caterina's 
patience in discussing the food was inexhaustible, in making 
suggestions that he vetoed, and in eventually agreeing to 



FANTASY. iSi 

whatever he wanted. Alberto really felt very well; had he 
not ridden Tetillo that morning, and perspired and caught 
cold, by this time he would have been ^s strong as anybody. 
When he said this to Andrea and Lucia, those two exchanged 
a swift glance of commiseration. 

Alberto was more than ever in love with his wife ; for ever 
buzzing round her, glad of the closing of the Exhibition, which 
did away with so many walks and drives that were wearisome 
to him ; for he took no interest in any thing or person. He 
liked staying at home, in his bedroom, to be present at Lucia's 
toilet, admiring her lithe figure and the undulations of her 
dark hair under the comb, her pink nails, and all the minute 
care she lavished on her person. Alberto had the vitiated 
tastes of a sick child who loves to lie among flounces and 
furbelows, the scents of toilet- vinegar and veloutine. He went 
to and fro among them, picking up a pair of stays, sitting on a 
petticoat, unstopping a bottle, dipping a finger into the denti- 
frice languid, indolent, emasculated by physical weakness. 
He asked stupid questions, often conscious of their stupidity, 
but choosing to be idiotic with his wife, so that she might pity 
and protect him the more. Lucia answered him patiently, 
with a resigned smile on her face which was painful to behold, 
but which appeared to him the smile of love itself. When she 
rose, Alberto rose ; when she entered the drawing-room, 
Alberto followed her; when she worked, he continued asking 
her stupid questions, to which she made answers of amazing 
eccentricity. More than ever Alberto admired his wife's 
singular ideas, wondered at the things she saw and that no 
one else saw, at her culture, her voice. Less reserved than he 
had been till now, he sometimes kissed her in the presence of 
others, hanging about her with singular tenacity. He even 
forgot his own health, for her. The acute egoism of the poor- 
blooded, fibreless creature was silenced by his love for Lucia. 

Oh ! Lucia, she too was delighted to stay at home. That 
Palazzo Reale had lost its charm, it was too huge, too heavy 
too architectural, 



i82 FANTASY. 

As to the park, it was a horror. Nature combed, flounced 
and powdered, with lakes full of trout and red fish for the 
delectation of the Philistines; with shaven turf, trimmed with 
scissors; and that eternal waterfall, an odious motionless 
white line. 

" There is the English Garden," remarked Caterina one 
day. 

' Have you seen it ? " asked Lucia. 

*' No, never." 

" Is it possible, four months of Centurano every year, and 
you have never seen the English Garden ? " 

*' There has been no opportunity. I hardly ever enter the 
park. I will take you there, and we will see it together." 

" I do not care to see it. I hate English gardens." 

The subject dropped. Lucia was fond of staying indoors, 
but she spent many hours in dressing, continually changhig 
her gowns. Her room was full of boxes and packing-cases ; 
she had written to Naples for new " half-season " dresses, fresh 
from the milliner's hands. She possessed every variety of tea- 
gown : white, ample, floating ones ; short, coquettish, bunched- 
up Pompadour ones ; lacy ethereal ones that you could blow 
away, and rich silken ones that opened over pleated satin 
skirts. They all became her as well as nearly everything 
suits a s light, lithe woman. When Caterina admired her, and 
told her that she was beautiful, and Andrea bowed ceremo- 
niously before her, she would say with a placid smile : 

*' I dress for Alberto, not for myself." 

" Of course," whispered Alberto to Caterina or Andrea, 
*' poor Lucia sacrifices herself completely to me. She shall 
at least have the satisfaction of being beautiful for my sake.*' 

After her toilet, Lucia breakfasted and then ensconced her- 
self in her favourite corner in Caterina's drawing-room. She 
had begun a long fanciful piece of work on coarse, stout 
canvas, without any design. On it she embroidered the 
strangest things in loose stitches of wool and silk : a flower, a 
lobsterj a white star, a cock, a crescent, a window grating, a 



[ 



FANTASY. 183 

serpent, a cart-wheel, haphazard from right to left. It was the 
last Paris fashion to have your drawing-room furniture covered 
with that coarse, quaintly embroidered canvas. It gave 
free scope to the imagination of the fair embroideress, and 
Lucia revelled in the strangest devices. Every one in the 
house was interested in the great undertaking and curious to 
know, from day to day, what Lucia would add to it, 

" What shall you put in it to-day, Lucia ?" 

" An onion, Alberto." 

" An onion, an onion : oh ! how amusing ! yesterday a pansy 
and to-day an onion ! How shall you work it?" 

*' In flame-coloured silk." 

Next day : " Oh ! Lucia, tell me what you are going to 
put in it ? " 

" An oaten pipe." 

*' O Dio ! what an eccentricity ! What a mad drawing-room 
we shall have ! People will stand about, trying to find out 
the meaning of it, without thinking of sitting down." 

They chatted a little when they worked. Caterina cut out 
at the large table, and Lucia, in whose taste she had the 
utmost confidence, advised her. Lucia had become more 
demonstrative in her intercourse with Caterina. She questioned 
her, and made her confessions that sometimes brought the 
quick blush to her cheek, but only when they were alone. 
When they remained indoors, Lucia retired to her room an 
hour before dinner. 

" What can she be doing at this hour ? " inquired Andrea of 
his wife. 

" I do not know. Probably she prays." 

" Did she pray much at school ? " 

"Very much ; indeed, too much for her health." 

Lucia reappeared in the same dress for dinner, but with her 
hair difierently arranged. She was always changing the style 
of her hair. Sometimes she wore it turned up high over a 
tortoiseshell comb, at others twisted round her head with a 
fresh rose on one side, or loosely plaited and studded with 



1^4 FANTASY. 

daisies, or bound, in Grecian fashion, by a thin gold fillet. The 
evenings on which she wore it like a Creole, with a red silk 
handkerchief, she was irresistible 

" Wear your red foulard ; do wear it," entreated Alberto. 

That was why she was fond of staying at home. But 
Alberto had confided to Caterina and Andrea that his Lucia 
was busy on another great work. No one was to know any- 
thing about it ; so silence, if you please. Lucia had begged 
him not to tell any one ; but they were dear, tried friends. It 
was no less than a great novel that Lucia was writing, a marvel 
^ of creative imagination, that was surely destined to surpass all 
other novels by Italian authors. Lucia worked at it after 
midnight. He, Alberto, went to bed ; Lucia placed the lamp 
so that it did not shine in his eyes the dear soul was full 
of these delicate attentions opened her desk, drew out a 
ream of paper, and sat with her head in her hand, buried in 
deepest thought. Then she would stoop over her writing, 
without pausing, for a long time. At times, under the influence 
of her inspiration, she rose, and paced up and down the room 
in great agitation, wringing her hands. 

" Like a poet, who under the spell of his inspiration cannot 
light upon a rhyme. When I call her, she starts as if she were 
falling from the clouds. You see she is in the throes of 
composition. I have left off speaking to her in these moments, 
for I know that it disturbs her genius. I generally fall asleep, 
but Lucia, I believe, does not go to bed till two or three in 
the morning. They say that authors do not care to show their 
work before it is finished. I shall read it, when it is finished. 
I think she will dedicate it to me. It will be an amazing 
work." 

Even Andrea was glad when the Exhibition closed; through 
it, he had neglected his own affairs for those of other people. 
He said that he had a world of care on his shoulders, which 
that condemned show had obliged him to put off. At last he 
was free to enjoy the peace of his own home, without the 
obligation of wasting the best pait of the day in that solemn 



FANTASY. i8s 

Palazzo Reale, walking ten kilotnetres up and down the great 
halls, on those polished red tiles, that are enough to tire the 
most enduring legs. He rose earlier than usual, and drove 
a pony down to Caserta, where he superintended the removal 
of his own exhibits from the show. He returned in time for 
luncheon and changed his clothes; he no longer wore the 
white silk tie which used to serve as collar and necktie, but a 
turned-down collar and black necktie, in honour of the ladies, 
he said, laughing. At breakfast, he would speak vaguely of his 
projects for the afternoon. 

" Are you going out again ? " asked Caterina. 

" I don't know .... there are some things I ought to do. 
Shall you ladies go out ? " 

" If Lucia cares to," said Caterina, timidly showing a wish 
to stay at home. 

" I don't care to," said she, raising her languid eyelids. 
*' Will you go out, Alberto ? " 

" I don't care to," repeated the latter. 

"I don't know, perhaps I shan't go either," murmured 
Andrea. But after breakfast, when they met in the drawing- 
room, his impatience would get the better of him, and he 
rose to go out. Sometimes he succeeded in dragging Alberto 
with him in the phaeton ; he drove him to Marcianise, to 
Antifreda, or as far as Santa Maria. They drove up and down 
the high-roads in the soft, mild autumn weather. Alberto, 
meagre and undersized, in an overcoat buttoned up to his 
eyes, with a silk muffler round his throat and a rug over his 
knees, was a striking contrast to the vigorous young man with 
the curled moustache at his side, attired in light clothes, and 
wearing an eagle's feather in his grey huntsman's hat. Andrea 
was a good whip, but he sometimes slackened the reins when 
they were on the high-road, so that the horses started off at a 
pace that alarmed Alberto. 

One evening he said to his wife : " Andrea has homicidal 
intentions towards me." 

She looked fixedly at him, as if questioning his jesting tone, 



l86 FANT^ASY, 

When, during these driv^es, Alberto was inclined for conver- 
sation, he talked of his favourite subjects, his health and his 
wife .... he vaunted Lucia's beauty, the depth of her genius, 
the brightness of her repartee. He would sometimes smilingly 
add details that irritated Andrea, who had an aversion for the 
morbid confidences of his enamoured guest. Then he would 
whip up his horses violently, cracking his whip like a carrier, 
and indulging in a wild race along the high-road. 

" You are as prudish as a vestal," sneered Alberto, more and 
more convinced that the muscles of these very robust men are 
developed to the detriment of their nerves. Strong men are 
cold, a reflection which consoled Alberto, v/ho was a weak 
man. 

They returned to Centurano at a furious pace. Scarcely 
had they turned the corner, when they perceived a white 
handkerchief waving from the balcony; it was Lucia, tall, 
beautiful, and supremely elegant, saluting them, waiting for 
them. Sometimes Caterina's smiling face was visible, behind 
Lucia. She did not come forward, because she dreaded the 
remarks of her neighbours, who did not approve of public 
demonstrations of affection between husband and wife. Then 
Andrea cried, Hip, hip, to Pulcinella, and the fiery mare tore 
up the hill at full speed; he bowed rapidly to the balcony, 
and turning the corner in splendid style, achieved a triumphal 
entry into the courtyard. Lucia generally descended the 
stairs to meet them, to inquire how Alberto felt and shake 
hands with Andrea, whom she complimented on his charioteer- 
ing. Caterina was never there, she was occupied with the 
last orders for dinner, for she knew how Andrea disliked 
waiting. 

One of the reasons for which Andrea had longed for 
the closing of the Exhibition, was that he might have time for 
shooting. Of this his wife, who had passed five or six dreary 
days last year alone waiting for him, a prey to a melancholy 
alien to her well-balanced temperament, was well aware. So 
that this year she was afraid lest he should absent himself too 



FANTASY. 187 

long and too often ; an act her guests might deem discour- 
teous. He had said nothing about it, but from one moment to 
another she expected to hear him say, *' I leave to-morrow." 
Yet he said nothing, until, between two yawns, Alberto asked 
him : 

" About shooting, Andrea, shan't you get any ?" 

He hesitated, then he replied with decision : " Not this 
year." 

"Why?" 

" I have made a vow." 

"Avow? To Saint Hubeit?" 

"To Our Lady of Sorrows." 

Neither of the two women raised their eyes ; but, for differ- 
ent reasons, they both smiled. Caterina thought of Andrea's 
kindness in not going away, out of courtesy to her friend 
and that poor Ali^eito. She was always afraid that her guests 
might bore themselves, and if Andrea had gone shooting, how 
could she have managed, with her poor store of intellectual 
resources ? Oh ! Andrea sacrificed himself without a murmur, 
without any of those loud outbursts ; he never indulged in 
those fits of anger that used to frighten her. Andrea even 
attained the supreme politeness of not falling asleep during 
the hour devoted to digestion. 

11. 

For a whole week after the scene in the English Garden, 
their love had been so calm that it needed no expression ; it 
was self-concentrated and subjective. They exchanged stolen 
glances without any agitation, they neither blushed nor turned 
pale, nor did they tremble at the touch of each other's hands. 
Lucia had an absorbed air, as if she were immersed in the 
contemplation of her own mind ; neither the outer world nor 
her lover could distract her from their state of contemplation. 
Andrea's demeanour was that of a man who is secure of 
himself and of the future. When their eyes met for a moment 



i88 FANTASY. 

it was as much as to say : " I love }0U, you love me; all is 
well." 

The fact was that the day passed in the English Garden 
had been too passionate not to have exhausted, at least for a 
time, the savage impulse of their repressed love. To the acute 
stage, a period of repose had succeeded a sort of Eastern 
dream in the certainty of their mutual love, a kind of annihila- 
tion that to the sweets of memory unites those of hope. 

It did not last long. Suddenly they awoke to passionate 
misery. One morning Andrea arose troubled with a mad 
longing to see Lucia. It was too early, she was sleeping. He 
paced the drawing-room like a prisoner, looking at his watch 
from time to time. Caterina, who had already risen, carried 
his coffee into the drawing-room, and sat down beside him to 
talk over household bills, and to remind him that he had to 
drive to Caserta to pay the taxes. He listened while he 
soaked his rusk in the coffee, without understanding what she 
was saying to him. He was devoured by impatience. What 
could Lucia be doing in her own room, at that hour ? How 
came it that she was not conscious of his longing to see her, 
of his waiting for her? It must be the fault of that miserable 
Alberto, who was never ready to get up who clung, shivering 
and grumbling, to the warm sheets ; an odious, wretched 
creature, who saddened poor Lucia's existence. The idea, 
that Alberto kept her there and prevented her from coming, 
was insufferable. He started to his feet, as if in protestation, 
as if to go to her .... 

"Will the tax-collector be there?'' said Caterina, brushing 
away the crumbs with one finger, with her instinctive love of 
order. 

"Where?" 

"At Caserta?" 

"Who knows?" 

" We can inquire of lawyer Marini, who does the legal 
part of the business ; he is sure to know. Shall I send 
Giulietta!" 



FANTASY. 189 

'' Send GiuHetta." 

She left the room, without noticing that anything was wrong. 
Andrea became calmer, knowing that Lucia must soon appear ; 
it was unreasonable to expect her before half-past nine. He 
still longed for her presence, but with a gentler longing. He 
drummed a march on the window-pane, recalling the moment 
when she had entreated him not to embrace her "for her 
love's sake," and he, obedient as a child, had desisted. Lucia, 
his Lucia, should be loved in so many ways ; with passion, but 
with the utmost tenderness ; with youthful ardour, but with 
reverence. Oh ! all these things were in his heart. He 
would wait patiently for her coming, without any perilous, 
fiery outbursts. Lucia might be late, he who loved her would 
refrain from breaking in doors and damaging china or furni- 
ture. 

Enter Caterina. 

"Lawyer Marini says that the tax-collector will be there 
between nine and twelve to-day." 

" What does that prove ?" 

" You are in time to go there and back before breakfast. It 
will take you an hour to go there and back." 

" No, I shan't go . . . ." said Andrea, after some hesita- 
tion. 

Caterina was silent. She thought he was always right, and 
never contradicted him. 

" I will go there after breakfast," he added, as if in explana- 
tion of his conduct. 

" As you will," said Caterina, without remarking that after 
breakfast the tax-collector would be no longer there. 

Andrea was becoming irritable again. Caterina standing like 
that before him, bored him. She seemed to be waiting for 
something, as if she meant to question him, to call him to 
account .... 

" Listen, Caterina, do fetch me my writing-case from the 
bedroom ; I shall stay here and write some important letters." 

Away she went, with her light, elastic step. Lucia's door 



190 FANTASY, 

opened, and she entered ; Andrea, pale with the pleasure of 
seeing her, ran to meet her. But a disappointment arrested 
him. She was followed by Alberto. Andrea's greeting was 
cool, his fine project of a prolonged contemplation of her 
melted away. 

"Haven't you been out of doors this morning?" inquired 
Alberto, fatuously. 

" No." 

''Aren't you well?" 

*' I am always well. I am bored and worried." 

Lucia looked at him as if to question him. She was so 
fascinating that morning, with the dark shadow under her eyes 
that lent them so much expression, her vivid lips that con- 
trasted with the pallor of her face, and the air of delicious 
languor of a woman who loves and is beloved. In one sad, 
passionate glance behind Alberto's back, they spoke to and 
understood each other. He was sitting between them, sprawl- 
ing in an armchair, with no intention of moving. When he 
realised this, a spirit of contradiction made Andrea long more 
ardently than ever to tell Lucia what she was to him. Only 
once to whisper it in her ear, as in the English Garden ; once 
only, and he could have borne to go away. But say it to her he 
must ; the words sprang to his lips, and it seemed as if Lucia 
read them there ; her eyes dilated, and her expression became 
alternately rapt and troubled. Meanwhile Alberto yawned, 
stretched out his arms, drew a long breath to find out if there 
was any obstruction, and coughed slightly to try his breathing 
capacity. Now Andrea's only wish was that Alberto should 
go away for a moment, to the window or back to his room, so 
that he, Andrea, might tell Lucia that he loved her. Ma die! 
Her husband continued to sprawl at full length, staring at the 
ceiling lolling, with one leg over the other; anything but 
move. Lucia pretended to read the paper that had come by 
post, but her hands trembled from nervousness. 

<* What is there in the newspaper ? " 

<* Nothing." 



FANTASY. 191 

" As usual : there never is anything. Does it amuse you ? " 

" Immensely ; " her voice hissed between her teeth. 

" Why don't you talk to us ? Here is Andrea, who hasn't 
been out. The first day that he stays at home, you are absorbed 
in the Fungolo." 

"I have forgotten to bring your box of lozenges with me," 
she said, pensively. 

*' Here it is," said Alberto, drawing it from his pocket. 

The commonplace but generally efhcacious expedient had 
failed. The lovers were downcast, low-spirited, and discom- 
fited. Meanwhile Caterina had returned with the writing- 
case. 

" I have been a long time/' she said, '' but I could not find 
it. It was at the bottom of the drawer, under the stamped 
paper. It is so long since you have written." 

She quietly prepared the necessary writing materials for her 
husband, and went to sit down by Lucia. Andrea, furious at 
the double surveillance, began rapidly to write senseless 
phrases. He wrote nouns and verbs and immensely long 
adverbs for the mere sake of writing, feeling that he could 
think of nothing, save that he wanted to tell his dear Lucia, 
his sweet Lucia, his dear love, that he loved her. Lucia, with 
her head thrown back, her face livid from irritation, her lips so 
puckered that they appeared to be drawn on an invisible 
thread, was looking at him from between halfclosed lids, 
behind the paper. He might have risen to tell her that he 
loved her, but Alberto and Caterina were placidly chatting 
with her, saying that the rain had cooled the atmosphere, and 
that at last it was possible to walk, even when the sun was 
shining. Caterina had her look of serene repose, and Alberto 
continued to twirl his thumbs, like a worthy bourgeois immersed 
in the delightful consciousness of his own insignificance. 

" There is nothing for it but to grin and bear it," muttered 
Andrea. 

'What are you saying?" asked Caterina, whose ear was 
always on the alert. 



192 FANTASY. 

''That we shall never get our breakfast. It is nearly half- 
past eleven. I am fit to die of hunger." 

" I will run and hasten it," she said, perturbed by the savage- 
ness of his accent. 

" I will come too, Signora Caterina," said Alberto. 

The other two exchanged a rapid glance, so eager that it 
already seemed to bring them together. But on rising Alberto 
thought he felt a stitch in his chest ; he began to prod himself 
all over, feeling for his ribs, in prompt alarm. Caterina had 
disappeared. 

" I feel as if I had a pain here," he complained. 

*' I always have it," said she, gloomily, without looking at 
him. 

*' Do you speak seriously at the base of the lungs ? " 

" Yes, and at the top of them too. I have pains all over." 

" But why don't you say so ? Why not see a doctor ? Will 
you bring upon me the sorrow of seeing you fall ill ? I, who 
love you so ! " 

The litlle table at which Andrea sat writing creaked as if his 
whole weight had fallen upon it. Alberto, on his knees before 
his wife, continued his inquiries as to her pains. Were they 
in the bones, or were they stitches? Forgetful of his own 
suffering, he entreated her, in adoration before that hard-set, 
sphinx-like face that allowed itself to be questioned, but 
vouchsafed no answer. Caterina found them in this attitude 
and smilingly designated them to her husband, who replied by 
an ironic laugh, quite at variance with his frank, good-natured 
face. But his wife's penetration did not permit her to dis- 
tinguish between a simple smile and a sarcastic grin. Break- 
fast commenced in painful but short-lived silence. Lucia 
soon began to chatter with nerv^ous volubility, playing with her 
knife and capriciously choosing to pour out Andrea's wine for 
him. She ate nothing, but drank great glasses of iced water, 
^^ her favourite beverage. While Caterina watched the service, 
with her eye upon Giulietta, whom she addressed in an under- 
tone, and her hand on the electric bell, Alberto cut all the fat 



PANTASV. 193 

and gristle away from his meat, reducing it to its smallest 
compass, and Andrea stared absently at a ray of light playing 
on a glass of water. Lucia continued to keep the conversation 
from flagging, by saying the most eccentric things, exciting 
herself, doubling up her fingers, as was her wont when her 
convulsive attacks were coming on. The usual question 
cropped up. 

" Any one going out to-day ? " asked Andrea. 

" Not I," said Alberto. 

" Nor I," said Lucia. 

" Nor I," added Caterina. 

" And what do you intend to do at home ? " asked Andrea. 

" I shall play at patience, with cards," said Alberto. " But 
perhaps I shan't, after all. As to me, when Lucia stays 
indoors . . . ." 

"I shall work at my embroidery," said she, suddenly 
sobered. 

" And I shall sew," said Caterina. 

*' How you will amuse yourselves ! " said Andrea, rising from 
his seat. " Come out driving, let's have the daumont'^ 

" No," said Lucia. He understood her. What would be the 
good of that drive ? They would still be four people together. 
He would have no chance of telling Lucia that he loved her. 

*' I am half inclined to stay here to count your yawns," he 
growled, savagely. 

" If you stay with me, then I'll say you're a good fellow," 
said Alberto. 

He stayed with them : he hoped, he kept on hoping. But 
when he saw Alberto seated at the little table with his pack of 
cards, Caterina near the window with her basket of linen, Lucia 
on the sofa with the interminable canvas between her fingers, 
drawing her thread slowly, without raising her eyes, he thought 
it would never, never be; and gloom and disappointment 
overwhelmed him. Those two obstacles, pacific, well-meaning 
and motionless, who smilingly let drop an occasional remark, 
were insurmountable. Never, no, never, would he be able to 

N 



194 PANTASY, 

speak to Lucia. He gave it up. He had neither the energy 
to go, nor the patience to stay in that close room. 

" I am going away to sleep," he said, as if he were about to 
accomplish a meritorious action. 

" What are you embroidering to-day ? " inquired Alberto of 
Lucia. 

*' A heart, pierced by a dagger." 

Once in his room, Andrea closed the shutters and thre^1r 
himself on his bed, in a state of fatigue of which he had had no 
experience till now. He had been mastered in the struggle with 
circumstances. His impetuous nature, alien to compromise, 
was incapable of endurance : he could neither wait nor calcu- 
late. " Nevermore, nevermore," he kept repeating to himself, 
with his face buried in the pillows. 

Twice Caterina came in on tip-toe and leant over him, 
holding her breath lest he should be sleeping. He feigned 
sleep, repressing a shrug of annoyance. Was he not free to 
shut himself up in his room, and vent his feelings by punching 
a mattress ? Need he submit to all this wearisome business ? 
But Lucia, dominant and imperious, once more occupied his 
thoughts; Lucia, whose name, did he but murmur it, filled 
him with tenderness ; Lucia, his dear love, a love as immense 
and unfathomable as the sun. He turned over and over on 
his bed, in a fever of nervousness, he who had never suffered 
from nerves before ; it seemed to him that he had lain for a 
century, burning between those cool sheets. Two or three 
times he fell into an uneasy slumber and dreamt that he saw 
Lucia, with flaming wide-open eyes, tendering her lips to his 
kisses. When with wild longing he approached lier, some one 
dragged Iier away from him, and he was bereft of the power of 
moving from the spot to which he felt nailed : he tried to utter 
a cry, but his voice failed him. Then, starting and quivering, 
he awoke. '* Lucia, Lucia," he kept repeating in his torpor, 
trying to recall his dream, to see her again, to kiss her. And 
in his dream he found her again, he on the balcony, she in the 
street, whence she held out her arms to him j and slowly he 



PAI^TASY. 19^ 

threw himself off the balcony slowly, slowly, never ceasing to 
fall, experiencing unutterable anguish. There was an incubus 
on his chest during that oppressed, restless slumber. When 
he really awoke his eyes were heavy, his body ached, and there 
was a bitter taste in his mouth. That eternal afternoon must 
be over, he thought. He opened the window, the sun was still 
high. It was five o'clock, two more hours till dinner-time. 
But in that pleasant light he awakened to fresh hope. Ecco ! 
he would write to Lucia, on a scrap of paper, that he loved her. 
Not another word ; that was sufficient, and should suffice him. 

Diamifie I couldn't he have given her that scrap of paper ? 
It was surely easy enough ; yes, yes, it was a splendid 
idea. He entered the drawing-room, pleased with his dis- 
covery. The first disillusion that befell him was to find no 
one there but Caterina and Alberto. Lucia was missing; 
where was she ? He did not venture to ask. Alberto was 
smoking a medicated cigarette, recommended for delicate 
lungs, and attentively watching the smoke, with his right leg 
crossed over his left ; Caterina had put a band on a petticoat, 
and was running a tape in it. Lucia was missing; whom 
could he ask about her ? 

*' Have you slept well ? " 

"Yes, Caterina, very well; have you worked the whole 
time?" 

" No ; the Signora Marini came to pay us a visit." 

" I hope you had her shown into the drawing-room ? " 

" Yes ; she stayed too long." 

Not a word of Lucia. Whom could he ask? Who would 
tell him what Lucia was doing ? 

" . . . . And then Lucia, who is bored by stupid people," 
added Alberto, "felt ill and went to her room; just now I 
went to see what she was doing .... Andrea, guess what 
she was doing ? " 

''How can I tell?" 

" Guess, guess ....** 

" You are Uke a child." 



196 PANTASY: 

"As you cannot guess, I will tell you. She was kneeling 
on the cushion of the prie-dteu, and praying." 

" Lucia stays too long on her knees, it will injure her health," 
observed Caterina. 

*' It can't be helped ; on religious subjects she is not amenable. 
Indeed, she reproaches me for having forgotten the Ave Maria 
and the Paternoster. If I happen to cough, she prays for an 
hour longer," Alberto said. 

Andrea had gone to the writing-table, and having cut a 
scrap of paper had written all over it, backwards and forwards, 
in every direction, in minute characters, " I love you," at 
least thirty times. This he did while Caterina and Alberto 
were still talking of her .... he felt as if he had done a 
deed of the greatest daring in writing those words under their 
very eyes. Before he had finished, Lucia re-entered the room. 
She was more nervous than usual; she went up to him and 
jested on his " middle-aged," provincial habit of " siesta." 
All he needed to make him perfect was a game of " tresette " 
in the evening, a snuff-box filled with *' rape," and a red-and- 
black-checked cotton handkerchief. Would he play at 
" scopa " with her after dinner ? And while her voice rang 
shrill and the others laughed, she put her hand in her pocket, 
as if to draw out her handkerchief; a scrap of paper peeped 
out. Then he, in great agitation, put a finger in his waistcoat- 
pocket and showed the corner of his note. Caterina or 
Alberto, or both, were always in the room. When one went 
away, the other returned; they were never alone for a moment. 
Andrea had folded his note in two, in four, in eight ; he had 
rolled it into a microscopic ball, which he held in his hand to 
have it ready. Lucia dropped a ball of wool, Alberto picked 
it up. Andrea asked Lucia for her fan, but Caterina was the 
intermediary who handed it to him. It was impossible. 
Those two were frankly and ingenuously looking on, without 
a shade of suspicion ; therefore the more to be feared. Andrea 
trembled for Lucia, not for himself; he was ready to risk 
everything. From time to tims a queer daring idea flitted 



FANTASY. 197 

through his brain ; to say aloud to Lucia : " I have written 
something for you on paper, but only you may read it." Who 
could tell, perhaps Alberto and Caterina would not have 
guessed anything, and his venture would be crowned with 
success. But suppose that in jest they asked to see it? 
Fear for Lucia conquered him; he ended by replacing the 
little ball in his pocket. As for Lucia, her anger was so 
nervous and concentrated, that it made her eyes dull and her 
nose look as thin as if a hand had altered the lines of her face. 
She moved to and fro without her customary rhythm, touching 
everything in absence of mind, arranging her tie, lifdng the 
plaits from her neck, inspecting Caterina's work, taking a 
puff from Alberto's cigarette, filling the room with movement, 
chatter, and sound. It was impossible to exchange the notes. 
Lucia put hers in her handkerchief, and dropped the hand- 
kerchief on the sofa ; but to reach the sofa, Andrea would 
have had to pass Alberto's intervening body. After five 
minutes, Lucia again took up her handkerchief and carried it 
to her lips, as if she were biting it. Then they exposed them- 
selves to a real danger. Andrea opened a volume of Balzac 
that was lying on a bracket and replaced it, leaving his note 
between its leaves. 

" Hand me that book, Andrea." 

"Nonsense," cried Alberto ; "would you begin to read now? 
It is dinner-time, sai!' 

" I shall just read one page." 

" One page, indeed ! I hate your wordy, doleful Balzac. I 
confiscate the book." And he stretched out his hand for it. 
Andrea drew it towards him, thinking, naturally enough, that 
all was lost. Lucia closed her eyes as if she were dying. 
Nothing happened. Alberto did not insist on having the book. 
After all, what did he care for Eugenie Grandef, so that his 
wife chattered on instead of reading ? Andrea drew a long 
breath, and took his note back, no longer caring to give it to 
her ; his anxiety had been ineffable. Lucia, with her mar- 
vellous faculty of passing from one impression to another, soon 



198 FANTASY. 

recovered her spirits. The note episode was over and done 
for; they were very merry at dinner. Curiously enough, a 
bright flush suffused Lucia's cheeks, ending in a red line like a 
scratch, towards her chin. She felt the heat and fanned her- 
self, joking with her husband and Caterina. She had never 
been so animated before ; now and then her mouth twitched 
nervously, but that might have passed for a smile. Andrea 
drank deep, in absence of mind. Lucia leant towards him, 
smiling ; she spoke very close to his ear, showing her teeth, 
almost as if she were offering her clove-scented lips to him. 
Then Andrea, what with the heat of the dining-room, its heavy 
atmosphere, laden with the odours of viands, preserved fruits, 
and the strong vinegar used in the preparation of the game, 
the warm rays reflected from the crystal on to the tablecloth, 
and Lucia's flushed face the lace tie sliowing her white throat 
so near to his, Andrea was seized with a mad longing to 
kiss her ; one kiss, only one, on the lips. Every now and 
then he drew nearer to her, hoping that the others would think 
him drunk j anything might be forgiven to a drunken man. 
He drew nearer to her to kiss her, tortured by his desire. He 
shrank back in dismay, before his wife's pale, calm face, and 
the bony, birdlike profile of Alberto. Suddenly Lucia saw 
what was passing in his mind, and turned as pale as wax. 
She saw that he was looking at her lips, and hid them with her 
hand. But that made no difference ; he could see them, 
bright, moist, bleeding, with the savour of fresh blood, that had 
gone to his head in the English Garden. He would taste them 
for an infinitesimal fraction of time. And with fixed gaze and 
a scowl that wrinkled his eyebrows, his clenched fist on the 
tablecloth, he turned this resolution over in his mind, while 
the others continued to talk of Naples and the approaching 
winter festivities. They partook of coffee in the drawing-room. 
He tried to lead Lucia behind the piano, so that he might 
give her that kiss ; which was absurd, because the piano was 
too low. The candles were lighted, Caterina took her seat at 
the piano, and played her usual pieces ; easy ones, executed 



FANTASY, 199 

with a certain taste ; some of Schubert's reveries, the Prelude 
to the fourth act of the Traviata^ and Beethoven's March of 
the Ruins of Athens. Lucia was lying with her head far back 
in the American armchair, and her little feet hidden under the 
folds of her train, dreaming. Alberto, sitting opposite to her, 
was turning over the leaves of the Franco-Prussian war album, 
and discovering that Moltke was not in the least like Crispi, 
and that all Prussians have a certain family likeness. Andrea 
took several turns in the room, joining Caterina at the piano 
sometimes asking her to change her piece, or to alter her time. 
But he was haunted by Lucia's lips ; he saw them everywhere, 
like an open pomegranate flower, a brightness of coral ; he 
could see their curves and fluctuations ; he followed, caught 
them, they disappeared. For a moment he would be free : 
then in a mirror, in a bronze candelabrum, in a wooden jar- 
diniere, he would fancy they appeared to him, at first pale, 
then glowing, as if they grew more living. Never to get to 
them ! He went out on the balcony and exposed his burning 
head to the air, hoping that the evening dew would calm his 
delirium. Caterhia begged Lucia to play, but she refused, 
alleging that she had no strength, she felt exhausted. Alberto 
drowsed. The two friends conversed in whispers for a long 
time, bending over the black and white keys, while Andrea 
watched from the window : now Lucia's lips played him the 
horrible trick of approaching Caterina's cheek. Oh ! if Caterina 
would but move away from the piano ; but no, there she sat, 
glued to her place, listening to what Lucia was murmuring. 

Thus slowly passed the dreary hours, bringing no change to 
the aspect of that room. At midnight they all wished each 
other good-night \ Andrea worn out with a nervous tremor, 
she hardly able to drag herself along. Their good-night was 
spoken in the broken accents of those who have lost all hope. 
And, alone in the darkness, he lived over again the torment of 
that day in which he longed for a look and had not had it, for a 
word and had been unable to say or hear it^ for a note that he 
had neither been able to read nor to deliver, for a kiss that he 



200 FANTASY. 

had not given ; his strength exhausted in that day of misery 
that had been lost for love. Yes, it must be, it would be thus 
for evermore. Death was surely preferable. 



III. 

Andrea, that overgrown child of nature, whose primitive 
elasticity of temperament enabled him to pass with ease from 
fury to tenderness, revolted against sorrow and rebelled against 
anguish. Why would they not let him love Lucia? Who 
dared to place themselves between him and the woman of his 
love? When Caterina was in the way, he could have screamed 
and stamped his foot, and sobbed like a child deprived of its 
toy; his inward convulsions were like the terrible nervous 
attacks of those obstinate infants who die in a fit of unsatisfied 
caprice. Lucia saw his eyes swollen with tears, and his face 
redden with the effort of repressing them ; it made her turn 
pale with emotion. When the unfortunate Alberto was the 
obstacle, with his meagre little person, his hoarse voice, and his 
little fits of coughing, Andrea could hardly resist the impulse 
which prompted him to take him round the body and throw him 
down ; to walk over him and crush him underfoot. When Lucia 
saw the breath of madness pass over Andrea's face, she rushed 
forward at the first sign of it, to prevent a catastrophe. Then 
he took up his hat and went out on foot, round the fields, 
under the broiling sun, with hurried step, clenched teeth, and 
quivering nerves, bowing mechanically to the people he met, 
even smiHng at them without seeing them. He returned home 
limp, bathed in perspiration, and fatigued ; he slept, the good 
sleep of old times, for two hours, with clenched fists and head 
sunk in the pillows. On awaking, he had an instant of supreme 
felicity, a well-being derived from the rest he had enjoyed, the 
restored balance of his powers. But suddenly the worm began 
again to gnaw, and, like a whining child that awakes too early, 
he thought : " Oh, God ! how unhappy I am ! Why did I 
awake if I am to be so unhappy?" 



FANTASY. 201 

He was in truth a very child in love, a child of no reasoning 
faculty, incapable of unhealthy sophistry or sensual melan- 
choly. He loved Lucia, and desired her; that v/as his 
aim, clear, precise, and well-defined. He looked his 
own will in the face, straight as a sword-cut that finds its 
way to the heart. He knew that he did wrong, he knew 
that he was guilty of treachery ; he looked his sin in the face 
without any mitigating sentimentaHsm. Not his were the 
terrors, the languors of an erring conscience, nor the mystifi- 
cations of a depraved mind. He did wrong, not because he 
was impelled by faith or wrath divine, but because his imagi- 
nation was wrought upon, and because he loved. He did not 
try to justify himself by the discovery of any imaginary defect 
in Caterina, nor wrongs nor shortcomings which would have 
made it excusable to bestow his love elsewhere. His con- 
science could not have endured the pretexts that might serve 
to lessen the conciousness of wrong-doing in a viler soul. They 
sinned and betrayed, because they loved elsewhere; that was 
all. Love is no fatality ; love is itself, stronger than aught 
besides. So he suffered in not being free to love in the light 
of day, with the loyalty of a brave heart that has the courage 
of its errors. He could not understand obstacles ; they were 
a physical irritation to him, as a cart across his path would 
have been. He would have liked to have pushed them aside, 
or ridden over them ; he lamented the injustice of his fate, in 
that he could not surmount them. Sometimes, when they were 
all sitting together in the drawing-room, he felt tempted to take 
Lucia in his arms and carry her away. That was his right, the 
blind right of violence, suited to his temperament. Did she 
TTndefstan^'ifT^Whm- he came too near to her, she shrank 
away with a slight gesture of repulsion. In proportion as his 
passion increased in intensity, so did the obstacles become 
more and more insurmountable. That consumptive creature 
never left his wife for a moment; drowsing, } awning, reading 
scraps by fits and starts, suckmg tar lozenges, spitting in his 
handkerchief, grumbling, feeling his own pulse a hundred times 



202 FANTASY. 

a day, complaining of sutVocation and cold sweats. Caterina, 
it is true, went to and fro on household avocations, and some- 
times retired to write letters ; but when her husband was at 
home she did her best to get her business done so that she 
could sit down to sew in the drawing-room. Alberto saw and 
inspected everything ; and with the maudhn curiosity of a sick 
and indolent person, wanted to touch all that he saw. Caterina 
was more discreet, less curious, and of silent habit, yet she too 
saw everything. Impossible to speak to Lucia alone for a 
minute. Two or three times they had attempted this, almost 
oblivious of the others' presence ; but having stopped in time, 
had found each other mute, pale from weariness, their faces 
drawn by suppressed yawns. Caterina and Alberto had nothing 
to say to each other. After five minutes they subsided into an 
inevitable silence. Alberto considered Caterina an excellent 
woman, a notable housekeeper, but rather stupid, and in every 
way inferior to his wife. Caterina judged no man, but all that 
Alberto inspired her with was quiet, unemotional compassion. 
There was no spiritual sympathy between them, rather a phy- 
sical repulsion. The impression produced by Caterina on 
Alberto was the negative one of absence of sex : she was 
neither beautiful nor ugly in his sight, nor a woman at all. In 
Caterina the instinct of health which recoils from disease, made 
him repellent to her. Then came the gloomy hours in which 
Lucia, in dumb despair, would betake herself to the sofa, where 
she would lie as rigid as the dead, her feet hidden under her 
skirts, her train hanging on the ground, with wreathed arms, 
and hands crossed behind her head, closed eyes and deathly 
pallor. She scarcely answered except in curt, harsh mono- 
syllables, passing hours in the same attitude, without opening 
her eyes. Alberto wasted his breath in questioning her, she 
never made him any reply. Caterina, who since their school- 
days was accustomed to these acute attacks of melancholy, 
signed to him to be silent, to wait for the fit to pass over : and 
they kept silence until the gloom fell upon them all. Andrea 
gtarted to his feet and prepared to go out, without so much as 



FANTASY, 203 

looking towards the sofa. Caterina was troubled at bis manner 
of absenting himself, for she knew that her husband could not 
abide these extraordinary scenes. She ran after him to the 
top of the stairs, calling him back, whispering to him. 

" Have patience, Andrea," she said. 

*' But what is the matter with her?" 

"I don't know; she has strange ideas that unsettle her 
brain. She says they are visions, and the doctor calls them 
hallucinations. She sees things that we do not see." 

" What a singular creature !" 

" Poor thing, she suffers a great deal, sai. If I could but 
tell you what she tells me, when neither of you are there. I 
fear we were to blame in advising her to marry Alberto . . . ." 

" What does she say to you ? Tell me." 

" Are you going out ? " 

" Right you are : I am off. If any one wants me, say I am 
out on business. One can't breathe in the drawing-room 3 it 
smells like a sick-room." 

"They will soon be leaving us, and then . . . ." 

"I don't mean that; you'll tell me the rest to-night. Au 
revoir." 

To make matters worse, sometimes in the evening, when 
Lucia chose to be most beautiful, she would gaze at him with a 
look of calm and persistent provocation that was torture to 
him. And he tortured himself, for he had neither the habit of 
patience nor the phlegmatic capacity for conquering obstacles. 
His was the haste of one who is accustomed to live well and 
quickly who cares rather for a reality to enjoy day by day 
than for an ideal to live up to. What was this torment of 
having I.ucia within reach beautiful, desirable, desired and 
yet not his ? He would struggle on undaunted, clenching 
those fists that were ready to knock something down ; and 
then he would fall back, wearied to exhaustion, no longer 
caring for life, with the eternal refrain in his mind : " that it 
would always be the same ; that there was no way out of it j 
that life was not worth having." 



204 FANTASY. 

At night, it was no longer possible to pass an hour in the 
balcony. If the bed only creaked, Caterina awoke and 
inquired : 

"Do you need anything?" 

" No," was the curt reply. Sometimes he did not answer at 
all. Then she fell asleep again, but her sleep was light. He 
knew that had he gone out on the balcony Caterina would 
soon have followed him, in her white wrapper a tiny, faithful, 
loving shadow, ready to watch with him if he could not sleep. 
Oh ! he knew her well, Caterina. He had taken the measure 
of the calm, deep, provident, almost maternal affection that 
welled over in the little heart. At times, when her head 
rested trustfully against his broad chest, as if it had been a 
haven of rest, an immense pity, a despairing tenderness for 
the little woman whom he no longer loved, stole upon him. 
All that was over. Finis had been written and the volume 
closed. But from this very pity and tenderness arose more 
potent his love for Lucia, who slept or watched two rooms 
away from him. Some nights he could have run his head 
against the walls to knock them down. He felt a seething in 
his brain that made him capable of anything. At last he 
lighted on the desperate remedy of talking to his wife of 
Lucia whenever they were alone. Caterina, who was desirous 
of awakening her husband's interest in her friend, was fond of 
speaking of her. In a measure, Lucia's personality modified 
Caterina's temperament ; her fantasy exercised a certain influ- 
ence on her. Caterina proved this by her ingenuous employ- 
ment of metaphor she with whom it was unusual when her 
talk ran on Lucia. .To tell the truth, Andrea was rather 
unskilled in interrogatory, and in veiling a too acute curiosity ; 
but Caterina was no expert in such matters. She talked on, 
in her quiet way, a gentle, continuous flow of words. It was 
at night, before going to sleep, that these conversations took 
place. She told him of Lucia's mystico-religious mania ; how 
she had turned the whole College topsy-turvy with her 
penances, her ecstasies, her tears during the sermons, her 



FANTASY, 205 

falntingS at the Sacraments ; she had even worn a hair-shift, 
but the Directress had taken it away from her because it made 
her ill. She told him of her strange answers, and of the 
fantastic compositions that excited the whole class; of the 
strange superstitions that tormented her. Sometimes, in the 
dead of the night, Lucia used to get out of bed and come and 
sit by hers (Caterina's), and weep, weep silently. 

" Why did she weep ? " inquired Andrea, moved. 

"Because she suffered. At school some considered her 
eccentric, some romantic, others fantastic. The doctor said 
she was ill, and ought to be taken away from there." 

She continued talking of her curious fancies ; how " she ate 
no fruit on Tuesday, for the sake of the souls in Purgatory ; 
'and drank no wine on Thursday, because of Christ's Passion. 
She ate many sweets and drank great glasses of water." 

" Even now she drinks them," remarked Andrea, profoundly 
interested. 

By degrees the narrator's voice fell, the tale dragged, and 
he did not venture to rouse her. Caterina slept for a few 
moments, and then, in broken accents, began again. She 
ended by saying in her sleep, " Poor Lucia ! " 

" Poor Lucia ! " repeated Andrea, mechanically. 

Caterina reposed in sleep, but he remained awake, feverish 
from the tale he had heard, obliged to resist his longing 
to wake his wife and say to her, " Let us continue to talk of 
her." 

He had unconsciously adopted the same method with 
Alberto. When he went out walking with him he ingeniously 
led up to the subject of his wife. No sooner said than done. 
Alberto did not care to hear another word. As with Caterina, 
Lucia was his one idea, his favourite topic. He had so much 
to tell that Andrea never needed to question him : he some- 
times interrupted him by an exclamation to prove that he was 
an interested listener. Alberto had enough to talk about for a 
century : how he had fallen in love, how Lucia spoke, what 
she wrote, how she dressed when she was a girl. He remem- 



2o6 FAN! AS y. 

bered certain phrases : The " Car of Juggernaut," the " Drama 
of Life," the "Love of the Imagination," the "Silence of the 
Heart," and he unconsciously repeated them, enjoying the 
remembrance of them. He recalled the minutest details a 
date, the flower she had worn in her hair on a certain day, the 
gloves that came up to her elbow, the rustle of a silken shirt 
under her fur wraps. Alberto had forgotten nothing. One 
day he had found her in bed with the fever, with a white silk 
handkerchief, that made her look like a nun, bound round 
her head. Another day she had made the sign of the cross 
on his chest an ascetic gesture to avert evil from him. 
Another time she had told him that she was going to die, 
that she had a presentiment about it, that she had already 
made her will. She wished to be embalmed, for she dreaded 
the worms .... wrapped first in a batiste sheet and then 
in a large piece of black satin, perfumed with musk, pearls 
twisted in her hair, and a silver crucifix on her bosom. 

" Enough to make one weep, Andrea ;;<?," continued 
Alberto. "I could not keep her silent. She would tell me 
all, all. We ended by weeping together, in each other's arms, 
as if we had been going to die on the spot." 

When Alberto Sauna's confidences became too expansive, 
and the unhealthy flush of excitement dyed his cheeks, Andrea 
sufl"ered the tortures of jealousy. Alberto grew enthusiastic 
over the delicate beauty of his wife, the sweetness of her 
kisses, and as he ran on his companion turned pale, bit his 
cigar, and knew not how he resisted the temptation to throw 
Alberto into a ditch. That invalid, whose breathing was 
oppressed even on level, whose breath whistled through 
his lungs on rising ground, that sickly homunculus dis- 
coursed of the joys of love as if he knew anything about 
them. Andrea looked him up and down, and decided that 
he was a wooden marionette in that winter overcoat, with the 
collar drawn up to his ears, and the hat drawn down over his 
eyes ; so his anrer was blended with contempt, and he threw 
his cigar violently .-gainst the trunk of a tree. There were no 



FANTASY, 207 

means of reducing Alberto to silence. His impudence was of 
the passionately shameless kind, so peculiar to those lovers 
who recount to the whole world how their mistress's shoulder 
is turned, and that her limbs are whiter than her face a 
placid immodesty that made it possible for him to tell Andrea 
that Lucia wore blue silk garters embroidered with heartsease, 
with the motto, ^^ Honi soit qui inal y pense ;^'' and smilingly he 
inquired : 

'' What do you think of it ? pretty, eh ! " 

The consolation turned to torture, the relief to anguish, 
Andrea grew grave and gloomy. 



IV. 

One day Lucia appeared in the drawing-room with a reso- 
lute and almost defiant look on her face. Her nostrils 
quivered as if they scented powder, and her whole being was 
ready for battle. Looking elsewhere, while Andrea handed 
her a cup of coffee, she calmly gave him a note. He trembled 
all over without losing his presence of mind. He found a 
pretext to leave the room, and ran down into the courtyard to 
read it. They were a few burning words of love written in 
pencil. " He was her Andrea, her own strong love \ she loved 
him, loved him, loved him ; her peace was gone, yet she was 
happy in that she loved, unhappy in not being permitted to 
love him. They must put a bold face on it ... . Alberto and 
Caterina, poor, poor betrayed ones .... had no suspicions. 
He, Andrea, should study her, Lucia, so that he might under- 
stand what she said to him with her eyes ; she was his inaino* 
rata, his mate, and she loved her handsome lord . . . ." 

All the gloom had vanished. Andrea felt as if joy must 
choke him. He began to talk loudly to Matteo, the stable- 
man ; called the hounds, Fox and Diana, who leapt upon him ; 
seized Diana by the scruff of her neck ; made Fox jump, tell- 
ing INIatteo that he was in his dotage ; that the dogs were worth 
two of him, but that, vice versa, he was a good besfia. Two 



2o8 PANTASV. 

ladies' heads and the small head of a sort of scalded bird, 
looked down upon him from a window. He called out to the 
ladies that he proposed a good sharp drive : the ladies, like 
two princesses in disguise, in the victoria, he and Alberto in 
the phaeton. 

*' And how about luncheon ? " grumbled the thin voice of 
Alberto, buried under a woollen scarf. 

" Of course, we will lunch first/' he thundered from the 
courtyard. And he mounted the stairs, four at a time, singing 
and shaking his leonine mane. When he got to the top, he 
took Alberto by the throat, and forced him to turn round the 
drawing-room, in the mazes of the polka. 

Lucia watched this violent ebullition of joy, without stirring 
an eyelash. 

" Since you are so gallant, to-day, Andrea," she said, coolly, 
" suppose you ofiered me your arm, to go into lunch. 'Tis a 
courtesy you are wanting in." 

" I am a barbarian, Signora Sanna. Will you do me the 
honour to accept my arm ? " he said, bowing profoundly. 

The two others laughed, and followed, without imitating 
them. In the gloom of the corridor, Lucia nestled closer to 
Andrea; he pressed her arm until it hurt her. When they 
entered the dining-room, they were so rigidly composed that 
Alberto teased them. Caterina was happy, for her husband 
had gained his good temper. At table, Lucia's elbow came 
several times in contact with Andrea's sleeve, when she raised 
her glass to her lips, looking at him through the crystal. He 
kept his eyes open, casting oblique looks at Alberto and 
Caterina, but they neither saw^ nor suspected anything. 

"To repay you for the arm that you did not offer me," 
said Lucia, with frigid audacity, ** I offer a pear, peeled by 
myself." 

And she handed it to him on the point of the knife. On 
one side the witch had bitten it with her small, strong teeth. 
He closed his eyes while he ate it. 

*' Is it good ? " she inquired, gravely. 



FANTASY. 209 

" Sorry to say so, for your sake ; but it was very bad," he 
replied, with a grimace of regret. Alberto was fit to die of 
laughter. That rogue of a Lucia, who seriously offered a bad 
pear to Andrea, as if in gratitude, as if she were making him a 
handsome present ! What wit ! that Lucia ! The ladies rose 
to dress for the drive. The first to return was Caterina, dressed 
in black, with a jet bonnet. Lucia was away some time, but, 
as Alberto afterwards remarked, she was worth waiting for. 
At last she appeared, looking charming, her height somewhat 
diminished by a dark plaid costume, with a thread of yellow 
and red running through it. She wore a blue, mannish, double- 
breasted jacket, with small gold buttons, a high white collar 
and a felt hat with a blue veil, covering it and her hair. A 
bewitching, mock traveller, with a little powder on her cheeks 
to cool their flush. 

The victoria and the phaeton were waiting in the courtyard. 
The ladies entered their carriage and drew the tiger-skin over 
their knees : the men sprang iiiio the phaeton and bowed to 
the ladies, who waved their handkerchiefs. Then the little 
vehicle, driven by Andrea, started at full speed, the other 
equipage following more slowly. This lasted some time ; every 
now and then they turned back to look at their wives, who 
were smiling and chatting with each other. Andrea saluted 
them by cracking his whip. The wind blew fresh, and Alberto, 
who caught it in his face, doubled himself up for fear of taking 
cold. 

^'' Ma che !" exclaimed Andrea, "don't you feel how warm 
it is? I wish I could take off my coat and drive in shiit- 
sleeves." 

And he goaded on Tetillo until he broke into a canter. 

" We are losing sight of the victoria, Andrea," pleaded 
Alberto, who thought that canter inopportune. 

" Now we will stop and wait for them." 

They were on the road to San Niccolo, between Caserta 
and Santa Maria. Andrea got down and stood awaiting the 
victoria, which arrived almost immediately. Francesco main- 

o 



210 FANTASY. 

tained all the gravity of a Neapolitan coachman, although he 
had whipped up his Mecklenburg trotters. Andrea and 
Alberto leant against the side of the little carriage, chatting 
with its occupants. 

" Are you enjoying yourselves ? '* 

*' Oh ! the speed intoxicates me," replied Lucia. 

" It is a lovely day," added Caterina, simply. 

" Yes, but windy," mumbled Alberto, stretching himself with 
the weariness of having sat doubled up. 

" Well, shall we drive on ? " inquired Andrea, impatiently. 

" I want to make a proposal," said Alberto ; " I submit it to 
the consideration of the ladies." 

" Well, make haste about it then." 

" Have pity on a poor invalid and take him into the victoria ; 
it is sheltered from the wind, and this nice rug keeps one's legs 
warm.'' 

"And leave Andrea alone, in the phaeton?" observed 
Caterina. 

" True," he said, pondering ; " how could we manage it ? 
Take him in here, overload the carriage ; and then who would 
drive the phaeton? Would one of you ladies take my 
place?" 

They looked at each other interrogatively, and said, *' Yes." 
Andrea took no part in the discussion, he listened patiently 
while he made a fresh knot in his whip. 

*' Would you, Signora Caterina ? " continued Alberto, who had 
made up his mind to a seat in the victoria ; " but no, that 
wouldn't do, we should be husband and wife and wife and 
husband. It would be absurd; people would take us for 
brides and bridegrooms I Lucia, are you too nervous to get 
into the phaeton ? " 

"I'm not afraid of anything," she said, absently. 

" Be, do me a favour ; you go with Andrea. We will ask 
him to drive slowly, because of your nerves. Will you really 
do me this favour ? " 

"Certainly, Alberto mio. I was enjoying being with 



FANTASY. 211 

Caterlna, but sooner than you should be exposed to the 
wind . . . ." 

Andrea assisted her to ah'ght ; she sprang out lightly, showing 
a glimpse of a bronze boot. She took leave of Caterina 
while Alberto ensconced himself well back in the victoria. 

" Signora Caterina, you must pardon the exigencies of an 
invalid. You must fancy yoViX?>Q\i 2i garde-malade." 

She turned her sweet patient smile on him. Andrea and 
Lucia silently made their way to the phaeton. He helped her 
up, and then got up himself; then, both turning towards the 
carriage, waved their hands once more. Then away like the 
wind. 

" Oh ! my love, my beautiful love," murmured Andrea, from 
whose hands the reins had nearly slipped. 

" Run away with me, far away," she whispered, looking at 
him with languorous eyes. 

" Do not look at me like that, witch," said Andrea, 
roughly. 

" I love you." 

*' And I, and I you cannot know how I love you.'* 

" I do, though. Why don't you write to me ? " 

" I have written to you, over and over again, and torn the 
letters up. Oh ! Lucia inia, how beautiful you are, and how 
dear!" 

Close to him, in her trim tight-fitting dress, with little crossed 
feet, with the tender look on her face, shaded by the brim of 
her hat, she was fascinating. She looked like an enamoured 
child, with her pink chin, her delicate cheeks, and wind-blown 
hair. 

*' I shall drop the reins and kiss you." 

" No ; they are watching us." 

"Then why are you so dear? Why is my brain on 
fire?" 

The horse went on at full speed, arching its neck, almost 
dancing, the other equipage following at a distance of sixty 
paces. 



^--^ 



213 FANTASY. 

"I have suffered the tortures of the damned, these past 
days." 

" Do not tell it me. I thought I should have died of it. 
Do you love me ? " 

" Why do you ask me you who know so much, you who 
know all ? " 

" I know not why," replied Lucia, in her caressing 
tones. 

" Lucia, you will drive me mad, if you speak in that voice. 
Shall I run away with you here, on the high-road ? " 

" Yes, yes, run away with me. That is what I wish, that 
you should run away with me." Her eye, her lips, her little 
foot so close to him, all added to the provocation of her 
words. 

^' Have pity on me, my love ; you see that I am dying for 
love of y ou.' ^ 

For a few minutes there was silence. He looked straight 
before him, biting his lips, for fear of yielding to the tempta- 
tion. But it was too strong for him, he could not help looking 
at her. She was smiling at him with a feverish and caressing 
smile, her teeth gleaming between her lips. 

" How dear you are ! Why are you laughing ? " 

*' I am not laughing, I am smiling." 

" Sometimes, Lucia, I am afraid of you." '^'' 

"Afraid of what?" 

" I don't know. I do not know you well. And you, you 
are so completely mistress of yourself. I am entirely yours ; so 
much your slave, that I tremble." 

" Did not you say that you were ready for anything ?" 

" And I say it again." 

*' 'Tis well, keep your courage in readiness." 

She had grown serious again a great furrow crossed her 
brow, her eyebrows were puckered, her eye sinister. 

" Oh ! do not say these things to me, do not be so austere ; 
smile again, smile as before, I entreat you." 

" I cannot smile," said Lucia, harshly. 



FANTASY. 213 

" If you will not smile, I will drive this trap into that heap 
of stones, and we shall be thrown out and killed," said 
Andrea, in a rage. She smiled with a strange ferocity, saying 
tenderly : 

'' I love you. You are mad and boyish, that is what 
pleases me." 

Andrea instinctively pulled at his reins ; the pace slackened. 
" Oh ! Lucia, you are a witch." 

* You will never recover, I shall be your disease, your fever, 
your irreparable mischief." 

" Oh ! be my health, my strength, my youth 1 " 
/ " Fire is better than snow, torture is more exquisite than 
/ joy, disease is more poetic than health," said Lucia in ringing 
/ tones, her head erect, her eyes flashing, dominating him. 
I Andrea bowed his head ; he was subjugated. 

At Santa Maria, on the way home, the two equipages stopped, 
the victoria had caught up the phaeton. They conversed from 
one carriage to another. Alberto said he was very comfortable, 
and that he had made the Signora Caterina explain to him how 
to make mulberry syrup. It was so good for bronchial com- 
plaints. He had described his journey to Paris to her. 
Caterina nodded acquiescingly ; she was never bored. Then 
they started again, the trap on before, the carriage following. 
The sun was going down. 

" Oh, dio ! are we going back ? We are going back," moaned 
Lucia ; " this lovely day is coming to an end. Who knows 
when we shall have another ? " * 

" What dark thoughts ! Do not torment yourself with dreams, 
Lucia. The reality is that I love you ; 'tis a fair reality." 

" We are evil-doers." 

"Lucia, you are striving to poison this hour of happi- 
ness." 

" And what man are you, if you cannot bear sorrow ? What 
cowardice is this ! Is all your strength in your muscles ? I 
have loved you because I believed in your strength." 



214 FANTASY. 

*' I am weak in your hands. Your voice alone can either 
sadden or revive me. You can give me strength or deprive 
me of it. Do not abuse your power." 

They were on the verge of a sentimental wrangle, whither 
she had been leading him since the beginning of the 
drive. 

"Love is no merry prank, Andrea; remember, love is a 
tragedy." 

" Do not look at me like that, Lucia. Smile on me as you 
did before; we were so happy, just now." 

" We cannot always be happy. Happiness is sin, happiness 
is dearly bought . . . ." sententiously. 

He turned his face away, profoundly saddened. He no 
longer goaded his horse, and Tetillo had subsided into a slow 
trot. Turning, Lucia beheld the victoria approaching. " On, 
on, Andrea," she said ; " faster, faster ! " The little trap flew 
like an arrow. She passed one arm through the arm of the 
driver, and with head erect, and hair blown about by the 
breeze, she gave herself up to the pleasure of the race. 

"This is the steppe, the steppe^^ she murmured, with a 
sigh. 

" Love, love, love ! " repeated Andrea, in the excitement of 
their speed. Tlie phaeton sped on ; they no longer looked 
behind them, nor saw the double row of trees that flew past 
them, nor the people who met them, nor the cloud of dust 
from the road. The little cariiage flew, assuming a fantastic 
aspect, like that of a wmged car. 

*^ Give me a kiss," said Andrea. 

" No, they are behind us ; they can see us." 

" Give me a kiss." 

Then she opened her white linen sunshade, lined with blue, 
and put it behind her ; that dome screened them both and hid 
their two heads. Before them, no one, no one in the fields ; 
and while the carriage sped along in the broad light of day, 
they kissed each other lingeringly on the lips. 



PAN7ASY, 215 



V. 



The audacity of their love increased day by day. Trusting 
in the quiescence of the other two, they dared all that lovers' 
imagination is capable of inventing. They chose seats beside 
each other, Andrea played with Lucia's fan or handkerchief, he 
counted her bangles : if they were apart they talked of their 
love in a special vocabulary that recalled every incident of the 
past an open parasol, a lake, a green shade, a lace scarf, a 
phrase pronounced by one or the other, then. If Lucia saw 
Andrea preoccupied, she immediately led the conversation to 
the subject of the Exhibition, and placidly remarked that the 
day of the horticultural show had been one of the most de- 
lightful in her whole life ; and Andrea would find means to 
drag the word sorceress into his discourse. They understood 
each other's every gesture and intonation, even to the move- 
ment of an eyelid or a finger. One day, Lucia called across 
the room to Andrea : " Listen, Andrea, I have something to 
tell you in your ear ; no one else may hear it." 

" Not even I ? " said Alberto, in comic wrath. 

" Neither you, nor Caterina, who is smiling over there. 
Come here, Andrea." He crossed the room and approached 
her : she laid her hand on his shoulder to draw him towards 
her, and whispered : 

" Andrea inio, I love you." 

He appeared to collect his thoughts for a moment, and 
then breathed in her ear : 

" Love, my love, my witch I love you ! " 

Then he returned to his place. But Alberto wanted to 
know absolutely ; if he didn't, he should die of curiosity. 
Lucia, pretending to yield, confessed that she had said; 
"Alberto is as curious as a woman; let us tease him, poor 
fellow." This incident amused the lovers immensely, but they 
did not repeat the experiment. They had other devices : there 
was the proffer of the arm indoors, on the terrace, on the 



5i5 FANTASY. 

stairs, and fugitive clasping and light touches in the corridor. 
Sometimes, for an instant, the two heads were so close that 
they might have kissed. When Caterina was not there and 
Alberto happened to turn his back to them, they exchanged 
glances as intense as if there had been pain in them. When 
they spent the evening in the drawing-room, Lucia chose her 
position with infinite art. She sat in the shade behind Alberto, 
so that she might gaze her fill on Andrea, without attracting 
any observation. 

Sometimes she opened her fan before her eyes, looking 
through its sticks. Now and then, when Alberto was away 
and Caterina bent over her sewing, Lucia's great eyes flashed 
in Andrea's face : the lids dropped immediately. All the 
evening Lucia maintained her air of melancholy, her tired 
voice and weary intonation. If for a moment she found her- 
self alone with Andrea, she would rise, quivering with life, and 
cry, close to his face : 

" I love you." 

She fell back exhausted, while he was like one dazed. Now 
they found a hundred ways of passing letters to each other, 
running the risk of discovery every time, but succeeding with 
amazing dexterity ; hiding notes in balls of wool, handker- 
chiefs or books, in packs of cards, at the bottom of the box of 
dominoes, in a copy of music, under the drawing-room clock ; 
in fact, wherever a scrap of paper could be hidden. Lucia's 
eye indicated the place; Andrea watched his opportunity, 
took a turn round the room ; then, when he reached the spot, 
abstracted the letter with a masterly ease, acquired by habit, 
and substituted his own for it. Under an assumed hilarity and 
noisy joking manner, he concealed the most ardent anxiety 
and a continual uneasiness. Without looking at Lucia, he 
studied her every movement ; he, great lion though he was, 
acquired the feline habit of certain tiger-like gestures ; he, who 
was frankness personified, became accustomed to profound 
dissimulation ; he grew sagacious, cunning and wily, oblique 
of glance and of crouching gait. During the night he meditated 



FANTASY, 217 

the plan for the morrow, so that on the morrow he might give 
Lucia a letter, or grasp her hand. He prepared all the mock 
questions and departures, all the improvised returns, the 
business pretexts and fictitious appointments. During the 
night he rehearsed the lies that were to deceive Alberto and 
Caterina on the morrow. Continual prevarication gradually 
degraded his character and drowned the cries of his conscience, 
to which perfidy and veiled evil were naturally repugnant. He 
lent a new spirit to the letter of his doctrine, one steeped in 
mental restrictions and Jesuitical excuses. 

But this same spiritual corruption that tainted every 
characteristic of his frank, loyal nature, these hypocritical 
concessions, this sentimental cowardice, bound him the more 
firmly to Lucia. The more he gave himself up to her the more 
he became penetrated by her influence, the more acutely did 
he feel the delight of his slavery and the exquisite bitterness 
of his subjugation. The sacrifice of his honesty, the greatness 
of all his renunciations, strengthened the fetters that bound 
him to her who inspired it. Although he was prepared for 
anything, and ever on the look-out for any new, infernal, 
love-inspired invention, that Lucia's brain might devise, she 
always succeeded in amazing him. One morning they met 
under a portiere^ on the threshold of the drawing-room ; she 
dropped the curtain, threw her arms round his neck, and flew 
past him into the room. He thought he must be dreaming, 
and could hardly restrain himself from running after her. One 
evening, while Alberto was half asleep and Caterina playing 
one of her eternal reveries, she called him out to her on the 
balcony, under the pretext of showing him a star, and there in 
the corner had for a second fallen into his arms. Then she 
said, imperiously : 

" Go away." 

In one of those moments he had murmured, with every feature 
quivering : 

" Take care : I shall strangle you." 

Indeed, he often felt that he could have strangled the 



'^d FANTASY. 

woman who maddened him by her presence and her vagaries, 
and who always eluded him. Even her letters were so in- 
coherent, so mad, so prone to pass from despair to joy, that 
they added to his perturbation. To-day she would write a 
sentimental divagation on pure love she wished him to love 
her like a sister, like an ideal, impersonal being, for that was 
the highest, sublimest love; and Andrea, moved, lulled by 
these abstractions, by the tenderness with which they were 
expressed, replied that thus did he love her, as she would be 
loved, as an angel of Paradise. Next day her letter would be full 
of mysticism ; she spoke of God and the Madonna, of a vision 
that had come to her in the night ; she entreated him to have 
faith, she prayed him to pray oh ! to be saved together, what 
happiness, what ecstasy to meet in Paradise ! And Andrea, 
who was indifferent in matters of religion, who lived in the 
utmost apathy, replied yes, for her sake, he would believe 
and pray : he preferred to lie than to contradict her ; her will 
was his, he had no other. But in another mood, Lucia would 
indulge in the most ardent phrases, filling a page with kisses, 
words of fire and yet more kisses, with languors and savage 
longing and kisses, kisses, kisses; ending with : " Do you not 
feel my lips dying on yours ? " And Andrea did feel them, and 
those words, written in minute characters, were to him as 
kisses, and when his lips touched them a shiver ran through 
his burning veins : his reply was almost brutal in its violence. 
Then Lucia, in her alarm, would write that their love was 
infamy ; that their treason would meet with the direst punish- 
ment ; that she already felt miserable, unhappy, and stricken. 
Andrea, tortured by the inconstancy of her moods, by her 
continual blowing hot and cold, by the constant struggle, 
knowing not how to follow her, despairing of finding arguments 
that would convince her replied, entreating her to cease from 
torturing him, to have pity on him. To which Lucia answered 
by return : " Thou dost not love me 1 " He suffered more 
acutely than ever, despite the daring, the letters, the stolen 
kisses and the embraces in doorways. Day by day Lucia grew 



FAN7ASV. iic, 

more strange ; one morning her face v/as pale and her voice 
hoarse and acrid. She neitlier gave her hand nor said good- 
day : her elbows looked angular and her shoulders as if 
they would pierce her gown ; she even stooped as if suddenly 
stricken with age, answering every one her husband, Caterina, 
and Andrea disagreeably, especially Andrea. He held his 
peace, wondering what he could have done to her. When he 
could snatch an opportunity of speaking to her, he asked : 

" What is the matter with thee ? " 

*' Nothing." 

" What have 1 done ? " 

" Nothing." 

" Do you love me ? " 

"No." 

" Then I had better go away." 

" Go." 

In a moment like that, Andrea felt he could have beaten 
her, so wicked did she seem to him. He went away to Caserta 
to write her a furious letter from t'.e post-ofhce. When he 
returned she was worse, absorbed in silence, no longer 
deigning to answer any one. Those about her were so much 
influenced by her bad temper that they did not speak either. 
Every now and then, Alberto would ask : 

'' Lucia miaj is there anything you want ? " 

" Yes." 

"What?" 

"To die." 

The newspaper shook in Andrea's hand ; he was pretending 
to read, while not a word was lost upon him. 

"Lucia, shall we go to the wood to-morrow?" ventured 
Caterina, timidly, to give her something to talk about. 

" No, [ hate the wood, and the green, and the country . ..." 

" Yesterday you said that you loved them." 

" To-day I hate what I loved yesterday," said Lucia, in her 
sententious tone. 

At last, one day, when she was shaking hands with Andrea, 



220 FANTASY. 

who was going out, she fell down in the frightful convulsions 
to which she had been subject from her childhood. Her 
arms beat the air, and her head rebounded on the floor. 
Neither Alberto nor Caterina could do much for her ; Andrea 
grasped her wrists, and felt them stiffen like iron in his hands; 
her teeth chattered as if from ague, and the pupils of her eyes 
disappeared under her lids. She stammered unintelligible 
words, and Andrea, in dismay, almost thought he heard her 
break into sentences that revealed their secret. Then the 
convulsions appeared to abate, her muscles relaxed, and her 
bosom heaved long sighs. She opened her eyes, gazed at the 
persons round her, but closing them again, in a kind of horror, 
uttered a piercing cry, and fell into fresh convulsions ; strug- 
gling, and insensible to the vinegar, the water, and the perfumes 
with which they drenched her face. Caterina called her, Alberto 
called her; no answer. When Andrea called her, her face 
became more livid, and the convulsions redoubled in intensity. 
With her lace tie torn away from her throat, her dress torn at the 
bosom, with dishevelled hair, and livid marks on her wrists, 
she inspired love and terror. When she came to herself, she 
cried as if her heart would break, as if some one had died. 
They comforted her, but she kept repeating, '' No, no, no," 
and continued her lamentations. Then, tired, worn out, with 
aching bones and joints, incapable of moving away, she fell 
asleep on the sofa, wrapped up in a shawl. Alberto stayed 
there until, at midnight, Caterina persuaded him to go to bed, 
and the two men retired. She sat up near a little table to 
watch, starting up at the slightest sound. Towards two o'clock 
Andrea stole in quietly; he was dressed, he had not gone to 
bed, he had been smoking. 

" How is she ? " he whispered to his wife. 

" Better, I think ; she never woke up, she has only sighed 
two or three times, as if she were oppressed." 

^' What horrible convulsions !" 

*' She used to have them at school, but not so badly." 

** Why do you not go to bed ? " 



FANTASY, 221 

" I cannot, Andrea ; I cannot leave the poor thing alone." 

" I will sit up." 

' That wouldn't do, sai:' 

" You are right, but they haven't made my orangeade." 

" The oranges and the sugar must be in the bedroom .... 
but I had better go and see .... Stay here a moment, I 
will soon return." 

Then he knelt down by the sofa, laying his hand on Lucia's. 
She woke up gently and did not seem surprised, but hung on 
to his neck and kissed him. 

" Take me away," she said. 

'' Come, love," he said, attempting to raise her. 

"I cannot; I am dying, Andrea." She again closed her 
eyes. 

" To-morrow," he said vaguely, for fear the convulsions 
should come on again. 

"Yes, to-morrow, you will take me away, far, far .... " 

" Far, far away, my heart . . . . " 

They were silent ; she must have heard an imperceptible 
sound, for she said: 

" Here is Caterina." 

Caterina entered on tiptoe, and found her husband sitting 
in his place. 

" She hasn't moved ? " 

" No." 

" I have made you your orangeade." 

" Have you made up your mind to sit up ?" 

*' Yes, I shall stay here ; you don't mind ?" 

And as they were in the dark, but for the faint light of the 
lamp, she stood on tiptoe for him to kiss her. He went away 
as slowly as possible, and Caterina watched until dawn. 

Henceforward, all the letters ended with, " Take me away ;" 
all of them were despairing. 

Lucia wrote with such tragic concision, that he feared to 
open her letters. There was nothing in them but crime, 



^^ 



222 FANTASY. 

malediction, suicide, death, eternal damnation, hellish remorse, 
teeth chattering, fever, burning fire. She was afraid of God, 
of man, of her husband, of Caterina, of Andrea himself; she 
felt degraded, lost, precipitated into a bottomless pit. '* To 
die, only to die ! " she exclaimed, in her letters. And she 
appeared so truly miserable, so really lost, that he accused 
himself of having ruined a woman's existence, and craved her 
forgiveness, as if she had been a victim and a martyr. " I am 
your assassin ; I am your executioner ; I am your torment," 
wrote Andrea, who had adopted the formulas of her emphatic 
style, with all its fantastic lyricism. 

October was drawing to an end. One Sunday, at table, 
Lucia calmly announced that they would be leaving on the 
following Tuesday, despite the popular dictum.* 

" I thought," said Caterina gently, " that you would have 
stayed till Martinmas." 

" The fact is that Alberto's cough is a little more trouble- 
some, owing to the damp of this rainy October. Our house 
in Via Bisignano is very dry, and it is quite ready for us." 

" For the matter of that, I am better," volunteered Alberto ; 
" I am sure that I have gained flesh. I have been obliged to 
lengthen my braces. I owe my recovery to this country air." 

" I am sorry that Lucia has not been so well," said 
Caterina. 

'* What does it matter ? " said the other with supreme 
indifference. " I am a sickly, unfortunate creature. Yet the 
time I have spent here at Centurano, Caterina mia^ has been 
the brightest, most harmonious epoch of my life, the highest 
point in my parabola ; after it, there can only come a rapid 
descent towards eternal silence, eternal darkness, eternal 
solitude." 

Andrea did not open his lips, but in the evening he wrote, 

entreating her to stay a few days longer. He could not bear 

the thought of her departure. At Naples, she would no longer 

care for him. He would not let her go. She was his Lucia ; 

* "N^ di Venerdi, n^ di Marte, ne si sposa, ne si parte.** 



FANTASY. 223 

why did she leave him ? If she refused to str.y, she must 
know that he would follow her at once. 

It was of no avail. Lucia insisted on leaving. He clashed 
against an iron will, against a will with a steady aim. In one 
or two curt notes, Lucia replied so harshly as to fill him with 
dismay. She wished to leave, why should he detain her, why 
not let her go in peace? She wished to go, because her 
sufferings were intolerable, because she was so miserable. She 
wished to go, to weep elsewhere, to despair elsewhere. She 
wished to go, and he had no right to detain her, since he had 
made her so unhappy. She wished to go, so that she might 
not die at Centurano. 

And she did leave; the farewell was heartrending. Lucia, 
whose departure had been fixed for midday, wept since early 
morning. Of everything that she looked upon, she said, 
*' I look upon it for the last time." Of everything that she did 
she said, " I do this for the last time." Caterina was pale and with 
difficulty restrained her tears ; Alberto was so much moved by 
Lucia's emotion, that he mumbled inaudible nothings. Andrea 
rambled about the house like a phantom, touching himself as 
if to make sure of his own existence. Lucia avoided him, and 
abstained from addressing him ; she did but raise her tearful 
eyes to his. They lunched in silence ; no one ate a mouthful. 
Afterwards Lucia drew Caterina into her room ; there she 
threw her arms round her, and sobbed her thanks for all her 
goodness. 

*' Oh ! angel, angel ! Caterina mia ! For what you have 
done to me, may happiness be yours ! May God's hand be 
over your house ! May love and joy abide within it ! May 
Andrea ever love you more and more ; may he adore thee as 
the Madonna is adored . . . . " 

Caterina signed to her to be silent, for the strain was getting 
too much for her; they kissed each other over and over 
again. When they entered the drawing-room, Lucia's eyes 
were swollen. 

** Addio, Andrea," she said. 



224 FANTASY. 

" Let me take you to the station," he murmured. 

" No, no, it would be worse, Addio ; thank you. May the 
Lord bless . . . . " 

She turned away sobbing, and was gone. The greetings 
from the balcony and waving of handkerchiefs lasted until the 
carriage had turned the corner to Caserta. Husband and wife 
were alone together. Suddenly the house seemed deserted, and 
the rooms immense. A chill fell upon it. Caterina stooped 
to pick up a white handkerchief; it was Lucia's, and Caterina 
wept over it, like a child who has lost its mother. Andrea sat 
down by her on the sofa, drew her head towards him, until it 
rested against his shoulder, and wept with her. Only two 
tears burning, scalding, sacrilegious. 



PART V. 

I. 

The note was worded as follows 

*' I could not bear it without you. I gave out that I was 
going shooting ; have come to Naples instead. I implore you, 
let me see you for a moment; just the time to tell you that I 
love you more than ever. " Andrea." 

He had to wait for the answer, but it came : 

"To-morrow, at ten. Let there be a closed carriage at the 
cloister of Santa Chiara, before the little door of the church. 
Blinds down and door open. I will come for a moment to 
bid you farewell. " Lucia." 

All night long he paced the room that he had taken at an 
hotel, reading that kind and cruel letter inexplicable as she 
who had written it over and over again. With all its rich 
store of vitality, Andrea's healthy temperament was impaired ; 
his nervous and muscular system degraded and unstrung. He 
missed the vigour of his iron muscles : he felt as weak as if 
his legs must refuse to carry him. His appetite, served by the 
wonderful digestive faculties upon which the harmony of the 
entire organism depended, had forsaken him. And he had 
acquired the tastes of Lucia for glasses of iced water, barely 
tinted with wine, spiced viands and sv;eets. Red meat 
disgusted him as it did her. He felt ill. Within him or out 
side him, he could see but one remedy for his evil Lucia 

p 



226 FANTASY. 

She only could cure and redeem him, make the rich blood run 
its old course through his veins, restore to him physical equili- 
brium, with the exuberant gaiety and joy of life that he had 
lost. He was ill for want of her ; it was an unjust privation. 
He felt that the first kiss, on the first day of happy love, would 
give him again health, strength and comeliness, and the power 
of defying sorrow and ill-luck. The bare vision of it made 
him shut his eyes as if the sun had blinded him. 

" Lucia, Lucia," he kept repeating, with dishevelled hair and 
oppressed breathing. He could think of nothing but the 
appointment for the morrow, what Lucia would have to say 
to him, and how he would dissuade her from bidding him 
farewell. He was certain of dissuading her, for without Lucia 
he would die, and he did not mean to die. A thousand wild 
projects crowded his brain. He dreamt of kneeling before her 
and saying, " I have come to die by thy hand." He would 
take a dagger with him and ofter it to her. He dreamt of not 
replying to her arguments except by, " I love you, you shall 
be mine." He dreamt of not saying a word, but of kissing her 
until his lips ached. 

The livid November dawn found Andrea with parched lips 
and burning eyes, lost in fantastic hallucinations. He went 
out into the streets of Naples at seven, under a fine rain, with- 
out heeding the wet. At eight he was already driving up and 
down the Toledo^ lolling on the cushions of a hired carriage, 
with his hat over his eyes and the curtains drawn down, consult- 
ing his watch every few minutes. 

The heavy, iron-bound portiere of padded leather fell behind 
a lady dressed in black, in deep mourning. There were few 
people in the church of Santa Chiara, which has but one nave, 
gay with gilding, large windows and bright painting ; more of 
a drawing-room than a church. Lucia, crossing herself de- 
voutly, took the holy water, and turned towards the principal 
entrance. Then she knelt before the altar of the Fadre Eterno, 
a miraculous shrine hung with ex-voto offerings in wax and 



FANTASY, 227 

silver, in red or blue frames. She, kneeling on the marble steps, 
with her head against the balustrade, conversed with the Eternal 
Father, telling Him that He had thus ordained, for this was fate. 
Since bow she must to the decrees of Providence, she prayed 
Him to vouchsafe her counsel in that supreme hour. The 
Eternal Father had chosen to cast her into this tribulation, in 
which she had lost all peace and felicity : now she prayed Him 
to sustain her, to illumine her darkness so that she might find 
her way. Which was her way the way of justice ? To leave 
Andrea, so that he might do something desperate ? Be his, in 
continual deceit ? Be his, openly ? She spoke humbly to the 
Eternal, awaiting the flash of the Holy Spirit that should illu- 
mine her terrible position. 

" O Father, O Father,Thou wouldst have it so. Now help me." 
After saying three final Paternosters^ she rose. Grace had 
not come to her : the Eternal had not permitted her to hear 
His voice : she arose from prayer ofiered in vain : God the 
Father had not heard her. She crossed the whole length of 
the church and tottered up to the image of the Madonna, 
where she fell on her knees. She was an ancient Madonna 
delle Grazie, with a cadaverous face and large pitiful eyes 
that appeared to look at you, to appeal to you, to follow you 
as you departed. Lucia told the Madonna of her trouble, 
of her misery, and with her head resting on the balustrade, 
weeping and sobbing, she said to her : 

" O ! Vergine Santissima, as Thou hast suffered in Thy 
motherhood, so do I sufi"er in my womanhood. The anguish 
of these sorrows was not Thine, but from high Heaven. Thou 
seest and dost fathom them. O ! Vergine Santissima^ mine 
was not the will to do this thing. Before the Divine mercy, I 
am innocent and unhappy. I was led into evil and it overcame 
me, for my strength could not withstand it ; it was weakened 
by the misfortunes inflicted on me by Heaven. O ! Holy 
Virgm, I may have sinned, but I am not a wicked woman. I am 
a tempest-tossed, tortured creature, a plaything of the fates, 
O ! Holy Virgin, like unto Thee have they thrust seven 



228 FANTASY. 

swords into my heart; like unto Thee, for fifteen years, 
am I pursued by the sinister vision of martyrdom. I 
am the most bitter tribulation that is upon the earth. 
My heart bleeds, my brain is bound in leaden bands, my 
nerves are knotted by an iron hand, my mouth is parched. 
Madonna, do Thou help me, do Thou console me. O ! 
Madonna, who hast not known human love, mercy on her who 
has learnt to know it, ardent, immense, devouring. O ! 
Madonna, Thou who knowest not desire, mercy on her who 
has it within her, long, savage, insatiable. O ! Madonna, do 
Thou tell me, shall I give myself to Andrea ? " 

But Lucia's passionate eyes were turned in vain on the 
Madonna : the Virgin continued to consider Lucia who was 
praying earnestly, and a little woman who was reciting her 
rosary and beating her bosom, with the same compassionate 
gaze. Then Lucia recited half the rosary, on that lapis-iazuli 
fragment of hers. She stopped at a Paternoster, and looked 
at her watch. It was ten o'clock. Absent and indignant at 
last that Divine grace had been withheld from her, she was 
now only praying with her lips. They all left her to her fate, 
even God and the Madonna poor leaf that she was, fallen 
from the bough and whirled in the vortex of destiny. It was 
of no avail : they were all against her, they left her defenceless 
and bereft of succour. In that dark hour, the ingratitude of 
the world and the indifference of Heaven were revealed to her. 
" Hyssop and vinegar, hyssop and vinegar, the drink they gave 
to Christ," she kept repeating to herself, while she rearranged 
the folds of her black dress, and drew her crape veil over her face. 
Once more, when she passed the chief altar, she knelt and 
said a Gloria Patri, crossing herself from sheer force of habit. 
And it was with a gesture of decision that she sped through 
the little door and dropped the curtain behind her. 

The two-horsed hired landau was waiting in front of the 
five steps. The wide quadrangle of the cloister was deserted. 
Perhaps the noble Sisters were peeping from behind those 
gratings. The fine close rain continued : the driver, indifferent 
and motionless, sheltered himself under a big umbrella. The 



Carriage bore the letter M and the number 522. The door 
nearest the church was open. Lucia took m all these 
details. She walked down firmly, without looking behind her, 
and with one spring was inside the carriage. A voice cried : 
^' A Fosilipo" to the driver, and the carriage-door closed with 
a snap ; then it started. 

" O ! love, love, love," murmured Andrea, folding her In 
his embrace. 

She tore herself away, and laughing ironically, said : 
\ /;" Do you know that our position is to be found in Madame 
/^ovary ? This is a novel by Flaubert ! " 

" I have not read it. How can you be so cruel as to say 
these things to me ? " 

" Because we are the performers in a bourgeois drama, or in 
a provincial one, which comes to the same thing." 

" I don't know anything about it, I only know that I love 
you." 

"Is this all that you have to say to me?" she asked, with a 
sneer. 

" Oh ! Lucia, be human. True, I have lost all sense, all 
dignity, but 'tis for love of you. Think how I have suffered 
in these three days ! Despair has nearly driven me to throw 
myself down from the Fonte della ValUr 

" They who talk of suicide are the last to commit ii." 

" But if I love thee, I do not mean to die. Oh ! cruel, not 
one kiss hast thou given me." 

"There are no more kisses for our love," she replied, 
oracularly. 

In her black attire, with her veil drawn over her face, under 
the green shade of the curtains, her feet hidden by her long 
skirt, and her hands by her gloves, without a thread of white 
on her person, her aspect was most tragic. Andrea shud- 
dered with an acute sense of fear, he felt as if he were being 
irretrievably ruined by a malignant sorceress. But when she 
moved and the well-known perfume diffused itself in the 
circumscribed atmosphere, the painful sensation decreased 
and was soon gone. 



^36 FANTASY. 

"What is the matter with you?" he said He had lest 
heart, and seeing all his projects melt away, found nothing to 
say to her. 

" Nothing." 

*'Do you love me?" 

" I love you," was Lucia's frigid reply. 

"How much?" 

" 1 do not know." 

" Why did you say that there were no more kisses for our 
love?" 

" Because, like Siebel, you are accursed of Mephistophcles. 
Siebel could not touch a flower without its fading and dying. 
You have kissed me, and I am fading and dying. There are 
no more flowers for Margaret, no kisses for our love." 

"I see," said Andrea, absorbed in a sorrowful dream. 

" This is what I have to say to you, we must forget each other." 

" No," cried Andrea, in a passion. 

" Yes, the hard law of duty imposes this upon us." 

" Duty is one thing, love is another." 

" That is why. Do you love C.aterina?" 

" I love you," he said, closing his eyes. 

" AVell, you are happier than I am j I love Caterina, I love 
Alberto ; to my mind, they are adorable beings." 

" You love too many people," he said, bitterly. He tried to 
take her hand, she resisted. Outside, the rain increased ; the 
carriage rolled on noiselessly over the wet pavement of Santa 
Lucia. 

" Mine is a large heart, Andrea." 

" You shall love me only." 

"I cannot. I love your wife and my husband, I cannot 
sacrifice them to you. Let us say good-bye." 

"I cannot, Lucia. I am doomed to love you, for ever. 
You shall be mine." 



never, never 



I" 



"But are you not afraid of me?" he cried, red in the face, 
furious. " But do you think you can say all this to me with 



FANTASY. 231 

impunity ? Are yuu not afraid that I shall kill you ? Couldn't 
I do so, this instant?" 

" Please yourself," she replied, calmly. 

" Forgive me, Lucia ; I am a fool and a savage. You are 
my victim, I know it. I make you unhappy, and ill-treat you 
into the bargain. All the wrong is on my side. Will you 
forgive me ? Tell me that you have forgiven me." 

" I forgive you." She gave him her hand, which he kissed 
humbly, through her glove. " Listen to me attentively, Andrea," 
she resumed ; " when you have heard me, you will be convinced 
that I am right. In sorrow, but of your own free will, you will 
say good-bye for ever. Are you listening ? " 

" Say what you will. You cannot convince me, for I love you." 

" I shall convince you, you'll see. I am not to blame for 
what has happened in this dark, tumultuous drama. I did 
not seek love, I did not seek you. I had married Alberto, 
willingly sacrificing my whole life to him, in all affection. I 
had already shunned you. Twice before you had crossed my 
path with your conquering, all-compelling love. I would not, 
I would not you know that I would not. Do you confess to 
this?" 

" Yes, I confess it ; you would not," repeated Andrea like 
an echo. 

" Do me this justice. Step by step have I fought against 
your love, your tyrannic love. I have watched and prayed 
and wept; deaf is Heaven, deaf the world, and fate, the im- 
placable statue that has no entrails, that no human love can 
move, is inexorable. Fate has willed it so." 

" Fate, fate," repeated Andrea, in a tone of conviction. 

" Now, although I know myself to be free from blame, my 
sensitive conscience makes me decry myself, as if I were a 
baneful creature. It is useless to struggle against fate; we 
have bowed to its decrees and we have loved. Oh ! Andrea, 
I would not have said it to you but at this supreme moment 
the soul must reveal itself stripped of all artifice ; I have sacri- 
ficed all to you." 



2Zi FANTASY. 

''You are an angel . . . ." 

" No, I am a miserable woman, who loves and is capable of 
sacrifice. Peace, tranquillity, conjugal duties, the ties of 
friendship, serenity of conscience, mystic love, of all these 
have you bereft me. What have you to offer me in exchange ? " 

" Alas ! I can but love you," he cried, in despair at his own 
poverty. 

" Love is not everything, Andrea." 

" It is everything to me, Lucia." 

" You would do anything for love ?" 

"Anything." 

" Tell the truth, speak as if you were drawing your last 
breath, before passing into the presence of your Judge ; would 
you do anything?" She had seized his hands, she was gazing 
fixedly, ardently into his eyes, as if she would have drawn his 
soul from him. Andrea, completely subjugated, simply said : 

" Anything." 

She permitted him to kiss both her hands. She was think- 
ing. Then she raised the green curtain and looked out into 
the street. It was still raining in fact the rain was heavier 
than ever, and fell in long, pointed drops, like needles. 
They had reached Mergellina. The sea under the rain was 
of a dirty grey colour, and a mist shrouded the green blot 
made in the landscape by the villa and the blurred blot made 
by the Fort. Neither boat nor sail on the sea. 

" What desolation ! " murmured Lucia, ^' on sea and land ! 
Ours is an ill-starred love !" 

" Lucia, Lucia, my beautiful Lucia, do not say these things. 
You have not yet given me one kiss." 

" Kissing is your refrain ; kiss me if you will." 

She threw back her veil and let him kiss her cold, closed 
lips. He turned away from her, mortified. 

" You are passionless ; you do not care for me," he said. 

"But do you not realise, unhappy man, that I can never be 
yours? Do you not realise that in being yours I should 
attain the utmost joy ? but that I deny myself? Do you not 



FANTASY. 233 

realise my renunciation of youth, passion, life? Oh ! unfortu- 
nate, who can torment me because you cannot realise . . . ." 

*' I admire you, Lucia, there is no other woman like you, 
and I do not deserve you." 

The driver stopped, they had arrived at Posilipo, on the road 
that leads between the villas on the heights and those that 
slope down to the sea. 

" Via di Bagnoli," cried Andrea from the window. 

" Whither are you taking me, Andrea ? " 

" Far . . . ." 

" No ; I must return to town. Alberto is awaiting me." 

" Do not speak to me of Alberto." 

*' On the contrary, you must let me speak of him. He vc> 
ill. I told him I was going to confession. You must drive 
me quickly back to town." 

'I will never take you back," he said emphatically. 

Lucia looked at him, inquiringly, but a transient smile flitted 
over her lips. 

" You shall stay with me, you shall come with me. I will 
not let you go, Lucia." 

She looked as if she were too stupefied to reply .... 

" You are going mad, Andrea." 

" I am not going mad, I am speaking in all seriousness ; my 
mind is made up." 

The carriage had reached the Bagnoli shore. 

"Let us get down here, it is rainy and deserted; no one 
will see us." 

He obediently opened the carriage-door, helped her to get 
down, and gave her his arm. 

Leaving the carriage on the high-road, they walked down to 
the sea under a fine rain, their feet sinking in the moist sand. 
A damp mist hung over the deserted landscape. Nisida, the 
convicts' isle, stood out before them, black on the pale horizon. 
Round it, the sea was dark and turbid, as if all the livid horrors 
from the bottom had floated to its surface : further on towards 
Baia, it shone with frigid whiteness. The Trattoria of Bagnoli, 



234 FANTASY. 

behind them, had all its windows closed ; the covered terrace 
was bare and empty, its yellow walls were stained by the damp. 
Further back still spread the grey plain of Bagnoli, where the 
soldiers go through their exercise, and Neapolitan duellists 
settle their disputes. 

" It is like a northern landscape," she said, clinging to the 
arm of her companion. " It is not Brittany, for Brittany has 
bare rocks and terrible peaks. Neither is it Holland, for the 
Scheldt is white, and fair and placid, veiled in a milky mist. 
It is Denmark, with Hamlet gazing at the grey Baltic, with 
thoughtful eyes that betray his madness." 

He listened to her, only conscious of the music of the voice 
that re-echoed in his innermost being. The fine, close rain 
poured down upon them until they were drenched, but neither 
of them perceived it. 

*' Have you ever been here, Andrea, when the landscape 
was blue ? " 

" Oh, yes look over there, behind those closed shutters. 
I once fought a duel in a big room in the inn." 

" Oh ! my love, with whom ? " 

" With Cicillo Cantelmo, a friend of mine." 

*' For whom?" 

" .... for a woman." 

An embarrassing silence ensued. 

" How little I know of your life, Andrea," she said gently, 
clinging ever closer to him. " I am a stranger to you." 

*' The past does not exist, love ; all that has been is dead." 

" Oh ! love, I am dead, I am dead to happiness." 

*' Let me carry you away. Oh ! my heart, you shall be 
reborn." 

" To-day you talk like a poet, Andrea, like a dreamer." 

"You have taught me this language; I did not know it 
before. I had never dreamed. Come away, Lucia, come 
away with me." 

" It's late, very late," she replied. " Come back to the 
carriage : let us return to Naples." 



FANTASY. 235 

They regained the little green haven that cut them off from 
the rest of the world. They were both saddened. When they 
turned in to the Via di Fuoiigrotta, Lucia shuddered, and 
turning to Andrea, said : 

" And the future ? " 

" Do not think of it, let it come." 

"You are a child, Andrea." 

" No j you will find that I am a man. Will you trust me?''* 

" I am afraid, I am afraid ;" and she clung to him. 

'' What are you afraid of? " 

" I do not know .... I am afraid of losing myself. This 
love is ruiu; Andrea. I can see the future. Shall I foretell it 
you ? Shall I describe the fate that awaits us ? " 

"Tell, but give me your hands; tell, but smile." 

" There are two ways before me. The first is the path of 
duty. After this gloomy, melancholy drive in the rain, in a 
carriage like a hearse, driven by a spectral coachman, we can 
coldly kiss and say good-bye, renouncing love. Ever to be 
apart, never to meet again, to betake ourselves, you to Caterina's 
side, I to ... . Alberto, to a life as dry and arid as pumice- 
stone, to that humdrum existence that is the death of the soul. 
Forget our glorious dreams, our sweet realities : behold the 
future . . . ." 

" No ; I cannot." 

" There is another future open to us. It is sin clothed in 
hypocrisy ; it is hidden evil \ it is fear-struck, trembling adultery, 
that degrades and deceives, that steals secret kisses, that is 
dependent on servants, porters, postmen, maids, and the tribe 
of them. It is what we have endured tillnow ; it is odium, vul- 
garity, commonplace treason. To love as every one else loves ! 
to imitate what a hundred thousand have done before us ! It 
is unworthy of a woman like me, of a man like you ! " 

" Once you told me that deceit is merciful," he mur- 
mured. "You love Caterina and Alberto, in this way you 
could save . . . ." 

She turned and looked at Andrea, her scholar who had 



236 PANT AS V. 

learnt her theories so well, whom she had taught to deny 
truth. 

*'Then," said Lucia, gloomily, "as I shall be never able to 
resign myself to hiding my love, since I can no longer practise 
deceit, we had better part." 

*' No ; I cannot." 

" We had better part." 
. *' I cannot ; I shall die without you." 

" What can I do ? There is no other way out of it. Die ! 
I, too, will die." 

She turned up her eyes to the roof of the carriage and 
crossed her arms, as if she were waiting for death. 

" I have let you speak," he said calmly, in a tone ot 
decision, " because you would have your say. But I have a 
plan of my own, the best, the only one. Humdrum adultery, 
you will have none of it. Well, then, we will have brazen adul- 
tery, open scandal. We will leave Naples together . . . ." 

" No," she cried, covering her face in horror. 

" .... we will leave together, never to return. We will 
begin our life anew, in London, Paris, Nice or Brittany, where- 
soever you will. Naples shall be wiped out of it. Since it is 
ordained that I love you, that you love me, we will pay our 
debt to fate." 

" Fate, fate," she sobbed, convulsively, wringing her hands. 

" Fate," repeated Andrea, bitterly. " We should never 
have loved each other. Now it is too late to draw back ; you 
are mine." 

" Oh, Caterina ! oh, Alberto ! " she exclaimed, weeping. 

*' It is fate, Lucia." 

" My husband, my dearest friend ! " Sobs rent her 
bosom 

" I tell you again, your heart is too big. I love you and 
you only : you shall only love me." 

" What torture, Andrea ! " 

"Have you not said, hundreds of times, 'take me away?* 
Now I am ready to take you away." 



^ FANTASY. 237 

" You will take a corpse with you, pale with remorse." 

" Then let us content ourselves with hypocrisy, with such 
love as suffices to others; yet that is what you cannot 
tolerate." 

" Oh ! my God ! what torture is this ? I have not deserved it." 

Suddenly it turned dark. She uttered a cry of dismay. 

" It is nothing, we are passing through the Grotta. Fear 
nothing, I love you." 

" This love is a misfortune, a tragedy." 

" Have you not already told me this in the park ? " 

"Yes " 

" Well, Lucia, my life shall be passed in craving your pardon 
for having brought this misery upon you. I know that you 
are my victim. I know that I brought you to ruin. I de- 
mand of you an immense sacrifice. I know it, but are you 
not the personification of sacrifice ? You are an example of 
noble abnegation, you are virtue and purity incarnate. You 
will see what my love for you is how I shall adore you." 

"And Caterina and Alberto? 

"We will go away together, never to return," he persisted 
obstinately. 

" We shall be accursed, Andrea." 

" I shall take you away. Call me your executioner, I de- 
serve it, but come with me." 

" We shall be unhappy." 

''Cher' 

" Madonna viia, M adonna mia^ why hast thou ordained my 
ruin?" 

"Will you come to-day or to-morrow?" 

" Neither to-day nor to-morrow. I am afraid ; let me think. 
You are pitiless ; no one has mercy on me." 

" You are an angel, Lucia, you know how to forgive. To- 
day or to-morrow ? " 

" Be merciful, give me time." 

" I will wait for you, my love. I will wait, for I know that 
you will come." 



238 ' FANTASY. 

A pale ray of light stole into the carriage through the bliiias. 
Lucia was like one in a trance. 

" You will leave me at the church Delia Vittoria. I will 
pray there and walk home; it is only a few steps from 
home." 

" And what am I to do ? It is for you to decide what I am 
to do." 

'' Leave to-day for Caserta. In five or six days you will 
return to Naples, you and Caterina. By that time I . . . . 
shall have thought. But do not attempt to write to me or see 
me ; do not ask me for appointments . . . ." 

" You hate me, don't you ? " 

"I love you madly. But I must be left to myself for a 
time." 

" You don't hate me for the harm I have done you ? " 

" Alas, no. We are all liable to do evil." 

" Not you j I am evil, but I love you." 

*' Andrea, we have arrived ; stop." 

" Lucia, remember that there is no way out of it. We must 
go away, absolutely. Give me a kiss, oh, my bride ! " 

She stood up and allowed him to kiss her. 

'' Till that day, Andrea," said Lucia, with a gesture as tragic 
as if she were casting her life away. 

" Till that day, Lucia." 

The door of the carriage closed and it drove off in the direc- 
tion of Chiatamone. 

She found the church closed. That made an impression on 
her. 

*' Even God so wills it. O Lord, do Thou remember, on the 
day of judgment." 

n. 

Caterina was glad to return to Naples, to the house 
in Via Costantinopoli ; for alone at Centurano, without the 
SannAS, and especially without Andrea (who had gone away 
shooting four times in a fortnight, to make up for lost time). 



FANTASY. 239 

she had been very dull. In those two weeks she had busied 
herself with putting the villa in order ; the furniture had been 
encased in hoUand covers and the curtains taken down, Lucia's 
room left intact, in readiness for next year. Then the house 
had been consigned to the care of Matteo, and when this was 
accomplished she was glad to get away. 

She intended making many innovations in her winter quar- 
ters. She discussed them at great length with Andrea, whose 
advice was precious to her. For instance, the dining-room 
wanted redecorating ; she was thinking of having it panelled 
half-way up with carved oak, an idea suggested by Giovanna 
Gabrielli-Casacalenda, past mistress in the art of elegance. 
Caterina had hesitated at first because of the expense, although 
Andrea had given her permission to spend as much as she 
chose. They were rich, and did not live up to their income ; 
their property was well managed and lucrative ; but she was 
economically-minded. As for altering the yellow drawing-room 
which Andrea considered too showy and too provincial, that 
would not be a serious expense, for the upholsterer was willing 
to take back all its furniture and hangings, and to exchange 
them for more modern, neutral-tinted ones. She often con- 
sulted Andrea on these matters; he gave her rather absent 
answers, being preoccupied with a lawsuit about a boundary- 
wall on their property at Sedile di Porto. 

His conferences with his legal advisers often obliged him to 
be away from home. Indeed, that very morning he had been 
out since eight o'clock, returning at eleven, apparently ex- 
hausted. 

"Well, how goes the lawsuit?" inquired Caterina at lun- 
cheon. 

" Badly." 

" Why? Does our neighbour decline any compromise ?" 

" He does. He is obstinate ; says the right is on his side." 

" But what is the lawyer doing? " 

" What can he do ? He is moving heaven and earth, like 
any other lav/yer ; or pretending to do so." 



240 FANTASY. 

"Why don't you eat?" 

" I am not very hungry; out of sorts." 

" After luncheon you ought to take a nap." 

" What an idea ! I've got to go out again." 

" To the Court? This lawsuit will make you ill." 

" Then I shall have to get well again." 

"Listen to me. Suppose you let the neighbour have his 
own way ? " 

"It's a question of self-respect; but perhaps you are right 
after all." 

" This lawsuit is a nuisance. This morning Alberto sent 
for you, and you were out." 

"Who is Alberto?" 

"Alberto Sanna." 

" What did he want ? " 

" The maid told me that he wanted to see you, to ask you 
to attend to some business for him because he was confined to 
the house. She told me in confidence that Lucia wished me 
to know that Alberto spat blood last night in his sleep, but 
that he did not know it, and they were hiding it from him. She 
also said that Lucia was crying." 

" And Alberto is another nuisance," he rejoined, crossly and 
with a shrug of his shoulders. 

"It is for Lucia that I am grieving. How she must 
suffer!" 

No answer. 

" I should like to go there to-day, for half an hour," she 
ventured to remark. 

" What would be the good of it ?" 

" Only to comfort Lucia . . . ." 

" To-day I can't go there with you, and you know I don't 
care for you to go alone." 

" You are right, I won't go ; we will go together this 
evening." 

Luncheon was over, but they did not leave the table. 
Andrea was playing with his breadcrumbs. 



FANTASY. 241 

" Besides our agent, Scognamiglio, will call to-day. He will 
bring some money for which you must give him a receipt. 
Tell him he can make a reduction for the third-floor tenants of 
No. 79 Via Speronzella. They are poor people." 

" Am I to say anything else to him ? " 

" Give him his monthly salary." 

" A hundred and sixty lire ? " 

"Yes ; but let him give you a receipt." 

" All right ; another cup of coffee ? " 

" Yes ; give me another cup, it is weak to-day." 

" Because of your nerves. I wanted to ask you, are we 
going to the ball of the Unione ? " 

" . . . . Yes." 

" Shall I order a dress of cream brocade for that ball ?" 

" Will the colour suit you ? " 

" The dressmaker says so." 

" They always say so. But order it, anyhow." 

" I will wear my pearls." 

He did not answer. He was gazing abstractedly into the 
bottom of his cup. Then he looked at her so long and so 
fixedly that Caterina wondered. 

" Well," he said at last, looking at his watch, " I must be 
going." 

He rose, and as usual she followed him. He went right 
through the house ; stopping before his writing-table to take a 
bulky parcel out of it, which he put into his pocket. 

" It makes you look fat," she said, laughing. 

" Never mind." 

He dawdled in his bedroom, as if he were looking for 
something that he had forgotten. Then he took up his hat 
and gloves. 

" You should take your overcoat with you, the air is biting." 

" You are right : I will take it." 

He finished buttoning his gloves. She was standing, looking 
at him with her serene eyes. He stooped and gave her an 
absent kiss. Then he turned to go, followed by his wife. 

Q 



^2 FANTASY. 

" A/rivederci, Andrea." 
**.... Airivederciy 

He began to descend the stairs ; she called out to him from 
the landing : 

" Shall you return late ? " 
" No. Good-bye, Caterina." 

Lucia had risen late. She told Alberto that she had passed 
a feverish night. Indeed, her lips were dry and discoloured, 
her heavy eyelids had livid circles round them. At eleven, she 
languidly dragged herself, in a black satin dressing-gown, to be 
present at her husband's breakfast two eggs beaten in a cup 
of caje-au-lait capital stuff for the chest. She sat with her 
head in her hands. Every now and then dark flushes dyed 
her face, and she pushed her hair off her temples with a vague 
gesture that indicated suffering. 

"What is the matter with you? You are sadder than 
usual!" 

" I wish I could see you well, Alberto niio. I wish I could 
give you my heart's blood." 

" What is it all about ? Am I so ill, then ? " 

" No, Alberto, no. The season is trying to delicate lungs." 

"Well, then, what of it? But I see that you are so good as 
to be anxious about me. Thank you, dear. But for you I 
should have been dead by this time." 

" Do not say that do not say it." 

" Now she is in tears, my poor little thing ! I was joking. 
What a fool I am ! My stupid chaff makes you cry. I entreat 
you not to cry any more." 

" I am not crying, Alberto mioP 

" Have a sip of my coffee." 

" No, thank you, I don't care for any." 

" Have some ; do have some." 

" I am going to take the Sacrament to-day, about one." 

"Ah! beg pardon. I never remember anything. What 
church are you going to ? " 



FANTASY. 243 

*' The same church, Santa Chiara." 

" But your religion makes you suffer, dear." 

" Everything makes me suffer, Alberto mio. It is my destiny. 
But it is well to suffer for God's sake ! " 

" Let us both take holy vows, Lucia." 

" You are joking, but I did seriously intend to be a nun. It 
was my father who prevented me from doing so. God grant 
that he may not repent of it." 

''Why, Lucia? Think, if you had become a nun, we should 
not have met and loved each other, and you would never have 
been my dear wife." 

" What is the good of love and marriage ? All is corrup- 
tion, everything in this world is putrid." 

" Lucia, you are lugubrious." 

" Forgive me, Alberto mio^ the gloom that overshadows my 
soul leaks out and saddens my beloved one. I will smile 
sooner than you should be sad." 

" Poor dear, I know what I cost you. But you'll see how 
soon I shall get strong, and how we shall amuse ourselves this 
winter. There will be fetes, balls, races." 

" I shall never be gay again." 

" Lucia, I shall have to scold you." 

*' No, no j let us talk of something else." 

" If you are going to church, you are but just in time." 

" Do you send me away, Alberto ? " 

" It is midday ; you have to go as far as Santa Chiara 

. . . and the sooner you go the sooner you will be 
back." 

" True, the sooner back .... I must go, mustn't I ? " 

" Of course, the air will do you good* Go on foot, the 
walk will be good for you." 

" What will you do, meanwhile?" 

" I shall wait for your return." 

" . . . . You will wait." 

" Yes ; perhaps I shall go to sleep in this chain" 
" Are your hands hot, Alberto ? " 



244 . FANTASY. 

"Noj feel them." 

" Pain in your' chest ? " 

" Nothing of the sort, only slight stitches in the sides, 
automatic stitches, as the doctor calls them. What are you 
thinking of? Don't you see that I am better? Yesterday, 
I coughed eighteen times ; this morning, seventeen ; I'm 
improving." 

" Alberto 7iiio, may health be yours ! " 

"Yes, yes, I shall get as strong as Andrea ! I sent for him 
this morning, but he never came. Pie is out in all sorts of 
weather. Lucky dog ! " 

She stood listening, with hanging arms and downcast eyes. 

" Go and dress, dear ; go." 

She moved away slowly, turning to look at him. In half 
an hour she returned, dressed in black, enveloped in a fur 
cloak, in which she hid her hands. She came and sat down 
by him, as if she were already tired. 

"You are not fit to walk, Lucia; call dijiacchere" 

** I will . . . ." she said in a faint voice. 

** What have you got under your cloak ? " 

"The prayer-book, a veil, a rosary." 

" All the pious baggage of my little nun. Be a saint to thy 
heart's content, my beauty. Thanks to you, we shall all get 
into Paradise." 

" Do not laugh at religion, Alberto." 

" I never laugh at the objects of your faith. Time's up, my 
heart ; go, and come back soon." 

Lucia threw her arms round his neck, kissed his thin face. 
And whispered : 

"Forgive . . . ." 

" Am I to forgive you for taking the Sacrament ? Hasn't 
your confessor told you that I . . . . absolve you ? " 

She bowed low. Then she drew herself up and looked 
round, wildly. She went away, bent and tottering, but re- 
turned almost immediately. 

" I had forgotten to bid you good-bye, Alberto," 



FANTASY. 345 

She squeezed his hand. 

"Think of me in church, my saint." 

" I will pray for you, Alberto." 

And she went away tall, black, and stately. 



III. 

Night was closing in ; in the December twilight the air 
had grown more chill. Under the lighted lamp Caterina 
sat writing to her cousin Giuditta at school, to invite her 
to spend next Sunday with her. The clock struck six. 
*' Andrea is late," thought Caterina ; " I am glad I made 
him take his overcoat, the days are getting so cold." She 
finished her letter and laid her hand on the bell. Giulietta 
appeared. 

*' Have this letter posted, with a halfpenny stamp." 
" Shall I order dinner to be served ? " 
" Yes ; your master will be home in a few minutes." 
But the master kept them waiting till half-past seven. 
Caterina waited patiently, yet she felt a certain inward spite 
towards the business that took up so much of Andrea's 
time. It struck her that the house in Via Constantinopoli was 
rather cold, and it needed fireplaces. How long would it 
take to put in a grate ? It would please Andrea. 

The bell rang. That must be Andrea .... but it was 
only Giulietta. 

" A letter from Casa Sanna, and one by post." 
"All right ; you can go. See that dinner is kept hot." 
Although she was disappointed by Andrea's non-arrival 
it was nearly eight o'clock, Caterina eagerly opened the letter 
from Casa Sanna. 

"Signora Caterina, for pity's sake, come to me. 

" Alberto.'' 

The handv/riting was shaky and blurred^ as i( the pea 



246 FANTASY. 

had trembled In the writer's hand. The address was in a 
different hand. Caterina was alarmed. What could have 
happened ? Nothing to Alberto ; no, for then Lucia would 
have written. Then something must surely be the matter with 
Lucia. What dreadful accident, what awful trouble, could it 
mean? She must go at once. She rang. 

" The carriage, Giulietta." 

The maid looked at her in astonishment and left the room. 
All at once Caterina, who was proceeding to put on her 
bonnet and wrap, stood still. Andrea ! Had she forgotten 
Andrea? If Andrea did not find her at home when he 
returned he would be angry. What was to be done ? She 
sat down a moment to collect her thoughts ; she was not 
accustomed to rely on herself in any difficulty she had no 
will of her own. She decided on writing a line to Andrea, 
apologising for going out for half an hour, and enclosing 
Alberto's note. She would return immediately; he was not 
to wait dinner for her. She placed the letter, with the letter- 
weight over it, in full view, on the writing-table. Then she 
saw the letter that had come by post. " From Giuditta," she 
thought. 

She opened it^ still preoccupied with the thought of what 
could have happened to Lucia, and read : 

" Oh ! Caterina, mercy, Caterina ; have pity upon me ; 
mercy, mercy, mercy ! I am unfortunate. I am leaving with 
Andrea. I am a miserable creature ; you will never see me 
again. I suffer. I am leaving. I am dying. Have pity ! " 

" Lucia." 

She read it over again, re-read it, and read it for the fourth 
time. She sat down by the writing-table, with the letter in her 
hands. She was stupefied. 

"The carriage is at the door," said Giulietta. Caterina's 
head moved as if in reply. Then she rose to her feet, but she 
felt the floor give way beneath them. " If I move I shall fall," 
she thought. 



FANTASY. 247 

She stood still ; her giddiness increased j the furniture turned 
round her ; there was buzzing in her ears and a bright light in 
her eyes. 

"Surely, I am dying," she thought. But the giddiness 
began to decrease, the whirl became wider and slower, and 
then stopped. Then she read the letter over again, replaced 
it in the envelope, put it in her pocket and kept her hand over 
it. She passed into her room, took her bonnet and wrap out 
of the darkness, but did not put them on. She crossed the 
anteroom with them in her hands. 

' Shall you return early, Signora?" said Giulietta. 

She looked at her, dazed. 

". . . . Yes, I think so." 

" What shall I say to the master?" 

" There is ... . yes, there is a note for him." 

She descended the stairs and entered the carriage. The 
coachman must have had his orders from Giulietta, for with- 
out waiting for further instructions he drove off through Via 
Sebastiano. Caterina, sitting on the edge of the cushion, 
without leaning back, had placed her bonnet and shawl oppo- 
site to her, and still kept her hand on the letter in her pocket. 
She felt the discomfort of the chill air that came in through 
the open window. She could not resist the impulse that led 
her, by the fugitive light of the street-lamps, to read Lucia's 
letter over again for the sixth time. What with the movement 
of the carriage and the sudden shadows that succeeded the 
flashes of light, the written words jumped up and down j and 
Caterina felt them jumping in her brain, knocking against her 
brow and at the back of her head, beating in either temple. 
It was a tempest of little blows, a beating of the drum under 
her skull. Every now and then she bent her head, as if to 
escape it. She folded the paper ; the sensation became less 
intense, died away, and stupefaction once more dulled her 
brain. 

She mounted the stairs slowly, keeping a firm, mechanical 
hold on her shawl, She found the door wide open. In the 



248 FANTASY. 

anteroom the maid was talking with animation to the man- 
servant, emphasising her discourse by expressive gestures. 
When they saw her enter noiselessly, in indoor attire, without 
either bonnet or gloves, they became silent. Then she forgot 
where she was, halting in indecision. She no longer knew 
what she had come for, when the maid whispered to her 
that: 

" The Signore was awaiting her." 

Of whom was she talking? Caterina looked fixedly at the 
maid, without the quiver of an eyelash. 

"The poor Signore had again spat blood at about three 
o'clock. He noticed it this time. This evening, when he 
received the Signora's letter, he turned red and screamed ; he 
got very excited and coughed and again spat blood, saving 
your presence." 

" La Signora, blood ! what were they talking of? " 

" Now I will show you in, Signorina. But bear up, both of 
you, it was inevitable." 

At these words Caterina trembled all over ; a change came 
over her face. Glued to the spot, she gazed at the maid with 
eyes full of sorrow. 

" What is done, can't be undone, Signora mta ! Let us go to 
the poor Signore." 

Preceded by the maid, she followed submissively. Lucia's 
boudoir was in great disorder. The little armchairs were 
turned upside down ; the music on the piano was torn and 
dispersed, the empty work-basket was topsy-turvy, the reels 
rolling about the carpet, the wools entangled, and the coarse 
canvas at which Lucia used to work was lying like a rag on 
the ground ; the writing-case was opened on the little writing- 
table, the drawers were empty, the letters littered the ground : 
a battlefield. 

" The Signore made this havoc, he was like a madman," 
explained the maid. 

Leaving the darkened drawing-room to the right, they 
entered the bedroom. Within was sufficient light to make 



FANTASY. 249 

darkness visible; a night-lamp under an opaque shade so 
placed that the bed lay in shadow. Profound silence: 
solitude. A pungent odour of drugs and the smell peculiar to 
sick-rooms filled the atmosphere. Instinctively, Caterina 
strained her eyes and advanced towards the bed. Alberto 
was lying there, supine, his head and shoulders resting upon a 
pile of graduated cushions. He was dressed, but his shirt was 
crushed and torn, and his legs were wrapped in a woman's 
shawl. On a night-table by his side stood bottles, phials, 
glasses, wafers, red pill-boxes and packets of powders. A 
white handkerchief peeped out from under the pillow. On 
the side where Lucia slept, between the bed and the wall, the 
prie dieu had been turned upside down. Caterina stooped 
over the bed. His eyes were closed and his lips half open, 
the breath that escaped them was short and faint, his chest 
scarcely heaved. He opened his eyes, and when he saw her they 
filled with tears. The tears coursed down his spare cheeks 
and fell on his neck ; the maid took a handkerchief out of the 
pocket of her apron and wiped them away. He signed to her 
with his hand to thank and dismiss her. 

" Will you have another bit of snow ? " 

" Yes," in a faint whisper. 

The maid took a little from a basin and put it in his mouth. 

" The powder ; is it not time ? " 

"No ; go away." 

She took a turn round the room and went away as quietly 
as possible. Caterina, hugging her shawl, had remained 
standing. Now she realised all that she saw and heard ; in- 
deed, sensation bad become so acute that the noise of the 
words hurt her, the light dazzled her, the sick man's hectic 
features became visible ; she saw the knife-like profile, the 
thin protruding chin, the skeleton chest, the miserable legs. 
She saw, felt, and understood too much. 

'^ Come nearer and be seated. I can neither turn nor raise 
my voice. It might bring on haemorrhage again." 

She took a chair and sat down, facing the bed, so that she 



250 FANTASY. 

could see Alberto's face, crossed her hands on her lap, and 
waited. He made an effort to swallow the bit of snow, then with 
all the despair of which a hoarse, low voice is capable said to her : 

" You've heard, eh ? " 

Her eyelids quivered two or three times, but she found 
nothing to say to him. 

Alberto, who was lying sunk in his pillows, with half-closed 
eyes and upturned chin, gazed vaguely :it the white curtains 
instead of at her. 

** I should never have suspected such treason. Would you 
have suspected it ? No \ of course not." 

Her gesture signified, " No." Her inert will had no power 
over her nerves, so that she had absolutely no strength where- 
with to articulate. 

" Lucia appeared to be so fond of me. She was so good, 
she thought of nothing but me. You saw, you must have seen, 
how fond she was of me. How could she do this to me? " 

Husbanding his breath, he continued his complaint in an 
undertone, never turning to Caterina, but addressing his lamen- 
tations to the bed, the room, the curtains. 

^' Even this morning she kissed me three times. I ought to 
have known that she was going away. I ought not to have 
let her go out." 

A short, harsh cough interrupted him. 

" Give me ... . give me a little snow." 

She handed the saucer to him ; he put a little in his mouth 
and was silent until he recovered his breath. 

'^ Has she written to you ? " 

Caterina drew the letter from her pocket and handed it to 
him. Alberto raised it eageily to the level of his eyes. 

" Not a word as to where they are going, nor at what time 
they left. But I have found out the hour. They left at 
half-past two, by the Paris-Turin express. They posted 
the letters at the station. What has Andrea written to you ? 
What does he say ? Why has he done this to me ? What 
does he write?" 



FANTASY. 251 

" Nothing, ' said Caterina, whose head had fallen on her 
bosom. 

''Nothing! But what infamous creatures they both are! 
They are a couple of assassins. Listen, listen ; I tell you, they 
will certainly be the death of me." 

He had almost risen to a sitting posture, choked by impo- 
tent rage, clenching his diminutive fists, opening his mouth to 
breathe, to utter a cry. She gazed at him with wide-open eyes, 
struck once more with the stupor that from time to time para- 
lysed her brain. 

" Then you have not received anything but that letter \ you 
knov/ nothing of their doings ? You know only that they have 
gone ? That is why you are so cool ! If you only knew .... 
only knew .... what infamy .... what infamy . . . . !" 

She exerted her will and succeeded in raising her head, 
drew nearer to him, and questioned him with her eyes. 

" I will whisper it to you. The doctor advises me not to 
waste my breath. When you see me getting excited, stop me. 
Horrible treason ! It has gone on for some time, you know, 
since our stay at Centurano . . . ." 

A wild look passed over the face of his listener, but he did 
not observe it. 

" . . . . but in reality, those infamous assassins were be- 
traying us. Centurano indeed ! It began before my marriage. 
One day that they v/ere alone, in your house, Andrea kissed 
Lucia, on the neck . . . ." 

Caterina wrung the helpless hands that were lying in her 
lap. 

" , . . . afterwards they made love to each other under our 
very eyes ; writing, speaking to each other, making appoint- 
ments with an impudence .... We never noticed anything. 
All through that accursed Exhibition ! How could I tell that 
they would have served me like this? Do you know that 
they kissed . . . ." 

He ground his teeth as he told these things, casting savage 
glances around him, revelling in the ecstasy, the intoxication gf" 



252 FANTASY. 

his rage when he recalled the voluptuous details of the love- 
story. On Caterina's face, which was turned towards him, 
there was still the same look of grieved surprise. 

'*.... they kissed again, the accursed assassins. He has 
tasted the ripe red lips of my Lucia, those lips that were mine, 
and mine only ; he took them from me, and scorched and faded 
them with coarse, brutal kisses. I wish that in those kisses 
thou hadst sucked arsenic and strychnine, and that their 
sweetness had poisoned thee, vile thief, deceitful villain ! Ah ! 
they were sweet, were they, the kisses of my Lucia ? Ah ! 
they pleased you, and so you've taken them for yourself and 
gone off with them, vile thievish clod brigand ! " 

A fit of coughing that lasted a long time choked him, his 
head rebounded on the pillow, and his chest heaved with a 
hoarse rasping sound. Trembling all over he grasped his 
handkerchief and expectorated, examining the handkerchief 
carefully with a hurried, frightened gesture. 

" It is white/' he said, with a voice as thin as a thread. He 
fell back, paler than ever from fright, in his pillows, his 
chest heaving painfully. After this vehement attack, he was 
obliged to rest a little. She waited, watching his every move- 
ment : when he expectorated, a sense of nausea caused her to 
turn her head aside. 

" Give me the blue bottle, with the spoon by it. It's 
codeine." 

Caterina's hand wandered over the table for some time 
before she could find what she looked for ... . When she 
gave it him, he swallowed it, thanked her, and looked at her 
fixedly, perhaps because her trembling silence and her immo- 
bility began to strike him .... 

"It must have made a great impression upon you," he 
muttered. " I was already upset, half dead, in fact, for I spat a 
little blood. I sent for the doctor and for Lucia, at the church 
of Santa Chiara, at once. The doctor came; Lucia didn't 
come. They hadn't found her at Santa Chiara. I was 
getting desperate;, I went all over the house and turned it 



FANTASY. 253 

upside down. When, lo, and behold, a letter, brought by hand. 
I opened it, screamed, and fell down. I bit my hand and broke 
a pane of glass. I knocked the furniture about, all that had 
belonged to Lucia. If I could have got at her for a minute, 
ill and weak as I am, I should have strangled her. Then a fit 
of coughing came on, but I didn't expectorate. Then a little 
scraping; it was red, red as flame. They have killed me, 
they have killed me . . . ." 

The fever of his complaint had left him in a stupor until the 
arrival of Caterina, now it was passing into the acute stage, as 
the temperature increased and the fever mounted from his 
chest to his brain. His ideas were becoming incoherent. 
" What happened afterwards, I don't know. I sent for you, 
and the doctor came again. You see I threw the prie-dieu 
down ; I wanted to kick it to pieces, but I couldn't. She took 
away the Byzantine Madonna. She was pious, she was 
religious, she went to confession, she took the Sacrament; 
how could I tell that with all that she would commit this 
horrible crime ! But .... you know .... they were a 
couple of lovers awaiting their honeymoon, like bride and 
bridegroom .... infamous wretches, assassins .... and 
to-night, to-morrow; while I lie here, dying alone, like a 
dog . . . ." She shuddered, in terror at sight of the little 
mannikin wrapped up in a woman's shawl. 

" .... I had always loved her," he said after a pause, 
speaking in a lower tone. " I married her for love, because she 
was good and beautiful and clever, and spoke poetically; 
.... because she was unhappy in her father's house. I 
didn't mind her marriage portion being small. Some of my 
friends remarked at the time that women always marry from 
interested motives. I didn't believe it. She wrote me such 
beautiful letters ! Oh ! she was a famous hand at letter- 
writing. She wrote to Galimberti, who went mad ; to me, to 
you ; and she wrote some to Andrea. She gave them to hin. 
in books, she put them under the clock, everywhere. I 
ought to have known that she married me for money. Do 



254 FANTASY. 

you know what she has taken with her besides the Madonna ? 
Her diamonds, the diamonds that I gave her." And a sneer 
of irony distorted the invaHd's Hps. 

" The diamonds, you know ! My mother's .... who 
was an honest woman .... that I had given her. She will 
wear them in her ears for him, and he will kiss her throat ; she 
will wear them in her hair, and he will kiss her hair ; she will 
wear them on her bosom, and he will sleep on that bosom. O 
God ! if you exist cruel God, vile God ! make me die an hour 
before the time." 

A gloomy silence reigned in the room after that imprecation. 
She shrank away with outstretched hands, in dread of the 
delirious sufferer in whose thoughts fever of blood and brain 
had wrought such terrible havoc, while it lent him a fictitious 
vigour equal to the strength of a person in rude health. 

" . . . . Wherever they were, they betrayed us. At home, 
at the Exhibition, in the carriage everywhere, everywhere 
they made fools of us. In the wood, in the English Garden 
they were together .... They snatched each other's hands 
on the stairs, on the landing ; they kissed each other, while 
we went on before. On the terrace, in the corner, they 
kissed over again. It's a horrible, crying shame ! I think the 
servants must have noticed it at Centurano. They must have 
laughed at us, that canaille must have laughed its fill behind 
our backs . . . ." 

There were two bright red spots on his cheekbones, and he 
was gasping. 

". . . . And do you know why I call them assassins, 
why I say that they have killed me? And by God, I am 
right 1 The most odious, the most cruel part of it all is, that 
through their damned love affair I have caught this illness,- 
that might have been spared me. On a chilly night, Lucia- 
stood out on the balcony, the whole night through, and so did 
Andrea. I slept all night with the window open, with the- 
cold air penetrating my lungs and inflaming them, making me 
cough for two months, making me so ill ! They gazed at each 



FAN 7 AS y. ' 25s 

Other, called to each other and blew kisses : I caught the 
cough that has lasted two months, and made me spit this 
blood to-day." He looked at her. In her horror, she hid her 
face in her hands. '^ You wonder how I know all this } You 
remember the novel that Lucia was writing? Another lie. 
It wasn't a novel, it was a journal. Every day she wrote 
down all that happened to her, all her thoughts and fancies. 
The whole love affair is in it, from beginning to end every 
look, every kiss, every act. Oh ! there are splendid bits of 
description, beautiful things are narrated therein. It is 
instructive and interesting reading. You can profit by it, if 
you like. Read it, it will amuse you." 

Then grinning, like a consumptive Mephistopheles, he drew 
a bulky manuscript from under the pillow. He threw it into 
Caterina's lap ; she left it there, sooner than touch it, as if she 
were afraid of its burning her fingers. 

" Yes," he said, having reached the lowest depth of bitterness, 
" Lucia wished me to know how it all happened. She took 
the Madonna, she took the diamonds, but she has had the 
goodness to forget the journal ! Do read it ! It is a charming 
novel, a fine drama." 

He was exhausted, with the fever came a return of the 
stupor. His eyes were half closed, his feeble hands, with the 
violet veins standing out in relief, were like yellow wax. In 
the gloom, Caterina kept turning the pages of the journal, at 
first without reading, then glancing at a page here and there, 
grasping an idea, or discovering a fact amid the fantastic diva- 
gations in which its pages abounded. At certain parts she 
shuddered and fell back in her chair. He coughed weakly in 
his torpor, without unclosing his eyes. Suddenly a violent 
attack tore his chest, the cough began low, grew louder, died 
away, seemed to be over, and began again, cruelly, persistently. 
In the short intervals he groaned feebly, clutching at his ribs, 
as if he could bear it no louger. Then he expectorated 
again, and once more made that hurried gesture of examina- 
tion. He fell back with a faint cry. He had spat blood. 



256 FANTASY. 

She had watched this scene; when she saw the blood, she 
shuddered and closed her eyes, as if she were about to faint. 

"So these medicines are no good to me? The doctor is 
telling me a parcel of old woman's tales. Why doesn't he stop 
the hemorrhage ? I have swallowed such a lot of snow, I 
have taken such a lot of syrup of codeine and gallic acid, to stop 
the blood ! Am I to spit all my blood away? Why haven't 
they given me something stronger to-night, instead of to- 
morrow, if it is to do me any good ? " 

His lamentations, persistent, hoarse, torturing to his lis- 
tener, filled the room. His voice had the aggrieved intonation 
that is peculiar to invalids who feel the injustice of not 
being cured. He continued to grumble at the doctor, the 
medicines, the syrup that failed to relieve his cough j the snow 
was useless, for it did not stop the haemorrhage. Still com- 
plaining, he turned to Caterina : 

" I beg your pardon ; do you mind giving me that little 
paper of gallic acid, and a wafer ? " 

With the patience of one to whom these things are habitual, 
he made a pill and swallowed it, with an air of resignation. 
She had closed the journal. 

** Had enough of it, eh? I have read every word of it, and 
shall read it again, to learn how these frightful crimes are com- 
mitted. Well, I couldn't have done such a thing to Lucia. 
To me she was the dearest and most beautiful of women. 
I was in love with her \ via, to tell the truth, I was idiotically 
in love with her. She ought not to have behaved as she has 
done to me ; she knew how ill I am, she might have spared 
me. She knew that I was alone, how could she abandon 
me ....!" 

He considered the deserted room, the prie-dieu lying 
upside down, the empty space where the Madonna had been, the 
open drawers, and fresh tears coursed down his cheeks. 1 hey 
were scant tears, that reddened the tight-drawn skin as they 
fell. 

" What do you intend to do, Signora Caterina ? " 



FANTASY. 257 

She started and looked at him, questloningly, surprised. 

" I asked you what you were going to do ? " 

" Nothing," she said, gravely. 

The despairing word rang through the room, accentuating 
its void. 

" Nothing ; true. What is there to be done ? Those two 
love each other, have gone off together .... and good- 
night to them who remain behind. Follow them ? It would be 
useless; useless to catch them. Besides, who is to go ? They 
have killed me. Well, I am so weak, so mean, so vilely ridi- 
culous, that, despite //, I feel that I still care for Lucia .... 
I care for her still it's no use denying it, for all her wicked- 
ness, her betrayal, and her perpetual deceit I care for her, 
because I love her, ecco ! I am so tied to her, so bound up in 
her, that the loss of her will kill me, if this haemorrhage doesn't. 
Oh ! what a woman, what a woman it is ! How she takes 
possession of you, and carries you away, and never loosens 
her hold on you ....!" 

His eyelids were wide open, as if he beheld the seductive 
vision of her ; he held up his lips, and stretched out his arms to 
her, calling on her, in a transport of love, that was part of his 
delirium. 

" Oh ! if she could but return, for a moment ! If she could 
but return, even if she went away again ! Oh ! return, that I 
might forgive her .... return, return, to see me die ! Not 
to let me die alone, in this icy bed, that my fever does not 
warm ; in this great room, where I am afraid to be alone ! " 

He was wandering. Presently he felt under the pillow, and 
drew out a letter and a small packet. 

" . . . . listen, she sent me this, with the letter. They are 
the wedding rings. Here is the one I gave her, here is the 
one you gave Andrea. Do you think she will ever return ? " 

" No," said Caterina, rising to her feet, " they will never 
return." She took her own ring and went away, leaving 
Alberto still w^andering. 

*' If she had but lied a little longer ; she might have waited 

R 



258 FANTASY. 

for my death ! She would not have had long to wait, 
miserable . . . ." 

IV. 

In the night, m her dark room, seated beside her bed, 
Caterina pondered. She had returned home without speaking 
to any one ; no one had said anything to her, for they all 
knew what had happened. The house was in order, composed, 
cold, and silent; on the table was the note she had written to 
her husband, to apologise for having gone out alone. She tore 
it up, and threw the pieces into the waste-paper basket. 
Giulietta, who had crept in after her, to try and proffer a word 
of consolation, was dismissed as usual with a gende good-night. 
The maid told the coachman that the Signora had not shed a 
tear, but that the expression of her face was " dreadful." They 
all pitied her, but they had long foreseen what would happen ; 
they knew of it at Centurano : you'd have to be blind not to 
have seen it. 

Then the conventicle dispersed, and the house was wrapped 
in profound silence. Caterina had extinguished the light in her 
own room, but had not undressed. Instinctively she craved 
for darkness, wherein to hang her head and think. She 
could distinguish the whiteness of the bed in the gloom, and 
it frightened her. She sat with one hand over the other, 
pressing the point of her nails against the third finger of the 
hand that bore the two marriage rings. Now and again, when 
she became aware of the contact of that second ring, she 
started and moaned. Her life, quiet and uniform as it had 
been, came before her with such distinctness of detail that it 
seemed as if she lived it over again. She had had a mother 
until she was seven; a father, until she was nine; and lived 
with her aunt until she was eleven. A peaceful childhood, 
except for the formless, shadowy sorrow of those two deaths, 
a sorrow bereft of cries or tears. She had always been 
ashamed to cry in the presence of other people ; she had wept 
for her dead at night, in her little bed, with the sheet drawn 



FANTASY. 259 

over her face. Later, at her aunt's, she had been seriously ill, 
a very dangerous illness a combination of every disease that 
is incidental to childhood. She remembered that the Sacra- 
ment had been administered to her in great haste, in the 
fear that she would die. She had not understood its meaning, 
and had not been very strongly impressed ; since then she had 
retained a calm religious piety, devoid of mystic enthusiasm, 
but characterised by the rigorous strictness of observance with 
which she fulfilled all her duties. 

When she recovered, her aunt had put her to school, the 
best school in Naples, and had undertaken the management of 
her fortune. She was a cold, trustworthy, childless aunt, who 
did not incline to demonstrations of affection, but who visited 
her punctually on Thursdays in the parlour, and drove her 
out on Sundays, and took her to the theatre. Caterina 
recalled the first year at school, where she had been happier 
than at home, where she had given herself to the simple 
pleasure of being with other children ; not playing, but watching 
them play ; not speaking, but hearing them speak. Study she 
found rather hard ; she had been obliged to apply herself to 
succeed in learning anything ; the teachers had always given 
her the maximum marks for good conduct, but not so many 
for study. She had never been punished nor reproached that 
first year, and at the final examination she came out fifteen, 
among twenty-eight : she had gained a silver medal for good 
conduct. 

The duality of her school-life began with the appearance of 
Lucia, whom she had met with in the second class. A won- 
derful pupil, who surpassed all her fellows ; a slight, thin girl, 
whose long black plaits hung down her back, who spent three 
days in school and three in the infirmary, who was an object 
of charity to the teachers, the assistants, and her companions. 
She was a sickly, pensive child, whose great eyes swallowed 
up her whole face, and who could master anything without 
opening a book. Many girls desired her friendship, but one 
day she said to Caterina, in her weak voice : 



26o FANTASY. 

" They tell me that you have neither mother nor father ; my 
mother is dead too, and that is why I wear a black band round 
my arm, for mourning. Will you be my friend ? " All at once, 
Caterina remembered that she had begun to love the lithe, 
melancholy creature with her whole heart, the girl who was as 
slender as a reed, who never played, and who talked like a 
maiden of fifteen when she was but a child of eleven. She 
remembered how this childish love was strengthened by their 
living together under one roof. In the hours of recreation 
they had walked up and down the corridors like the others, 
they had held each other by the hand, but without speaking. 
During school- hours they sat on the same bench, lending each 
other a pen, a scrap of paper, or a pencil : at table they sat 
opposite, looking at each other, and Caterina passed her share 
of pudding to Lucia, who could eat nothing else. In chapel 
they prayed together, and in the dormitory they were not far 
apart. In talent, in beauty, and in stature Lucia had always 
surpassed Caterina, a fact that Caterina had tacitly acknow- 
ledged, and the whole College recognised. In the College the 
two friends were always designated as, " the one who loved, and 
the one who submitted to be loved." The one who permitted 
' herself to be loved was the beauty, Sh^bellezza; the one who 
loved was the capezza, the ass's bridle, a patient, humble, de- 
voted, servile thing. The bellezza was entitled to everything, 
the capezza had no rights, but all the duties. She was permitted 
to love, that was all. In the Altimare and Spaccapietra bond, 
Lucia was the bellezza^ and Caterina the capezza. 

She could remember having been punished several times 
in her stead, for having been bewitched into following her 
in an escapade, for having taken her part against the maestra, 
for having done the sums that were too dry for Lucia's 
poetic mind. Lucia wept, was in despair, fainted, when 
Caterina was punished for a fault of hers ; and Caterina 
ended by consoling her, telling her that it was nothing, praying 
her to stop crying, because she rather liked punishment. 
Lucia was a profoundly affectionate creature, expansive to 
enthusiasm, ever ready to sacrifice herself for the sake of 



FANTASY. 251 

friendship ; Caterma, who could never find words to -express 
herself, whose affection was calm and silent, who could never 
behave enthusiastically, and who had never fainted, was some- 
times ashamed of loving so little. In everything Lucia 
surpassed her. So they passed from class to class. Caterina 
was always a mediocre scholar, obtaining a bronze medal or 
honourable mention at the examinations, on which occasions 
she never came to the fore an insipid pupil, who was neither 
appreciated nor bullied by the professors. There was nothing 
interesting in her character like, for instance, Artemisia 
Minichini, who was insolent and sceptical ; or Giovanna Casa- 
calenda, who was provoking and coquettish. The Directress 
did not give herself the trouble of watching her. Her greatest 
charm, her only distinguishing quality, was her friendship for 
Lucia " Where is Altimare ? " " Spaccapietra, tell us where 
Altimare is." " How is Altimare?" "Spaccapietra, surely thou 
knowest how Altimare is to-day ! " 

Lucia, on the contrary, passed a brilliant yearly examination, 
took the gold medal for composition, and wrote congratulatory 
addresses on the Directress's birthday. Her compositions 
were notable productions : one of them had been read in the 
presence of three assembled classes. But more remarkable 
than anything else was the strange disposition which aroused the 
curiosity of the entire College. Her fits of mysticism, her fits 
of deep despondency, the tears she shed in shady nooks, about 
the College ; her passion for flowers, her nausea in the refectory, 
her convulsive nervous attacks, claimed universal attention. 
When she passed, tall, lithe, with dreamy, pensive eyes, the 
other scholars turned and pointed her out to each other, and 
whispered about her. 

The Directress watched her. Cherubina Friscia had special 
instructions with regard to Lucia Altimare; the professors 
kept their eye on her. In the parlour, the little girls 
described her to their mothers in undertones as, " Un tipo 
strano," an extraordinary type. She knew it, and cast languid 
glances round her, and indulged in pretty, pathetic movements 
of the head. She was the incarnate expression of suffering 



262 FANTASY, 

slow, continual, persistent suffering, that weighed her down 
for weeks together, and ended in a heartbreaking crisis. 
Oh ! Caterina had always felt a profound compassion for her, 
which she had never been able to express, but was none the 
less as intense as it was sincere. The last year at school had 
been a tumultuous one, it was a wonder that Caterina had 
maintained her placid serenity in the midst of all those girls, 
who were yearning for freedom, panting for life; who already 
boasted adorers, affianced husbands and lovers ; who hated the 
College, and treated the maesire with impertinence. Her aunt 
had informed her that Andrea Lieti was to be her husband ; she 
had no anxiety for her own future. But she was very anxious 
about Lucia, who during this last year had been unusually 
delicate, who had turned Galimberti's head, who had made up 
her mind to be a nun, and attempted to commit suicide. 
Caterina had saved her life. And last, like a dream, the last 
night at school, when they had entered the chapel, had knelt 
down and sworn, before the Madonna, to love each other for 
ever, reproduced itself in her memory .... 

Lucia vanished, Andrea entered upon the scene. Andrea 
had been kind and amiable to Caterina during their courtship. 
At first, it had been a marriage of convenience ; the young man 
wanted a wife, her fortune suited him, and the orphan girl 
had to be married. Andrea was a very good match for 
her; the engaged pair got on capitally together. Andrea's 
vigorous, often violent temperament, was well balanced by 
Caterina's calm and gentle nature. He neither wrote letters 
nor offered flowers, nor paid more than two or three visits 
during the week, while they were engaged, but Caterina had 
not missed these demonstrations of love. Love she read in 
Andrea's honest, merry eyes, when they met hers. She had 
admired him from the first, for the herculean comeliness 
of his fine physique, and the grace of a gentlemanlike athlete, 
with which he wore either morning or evening attire. And 
immediately she had begun to love him, because she had 



FANTASY. ' 263 

found him good and honest and just. The strong man, who 
could be a very child, in whom she divined a feminine delicacy, 
won her heart. As usual, from timidity and the habit of 
reserve, her emotion was self-contained. Later on, in her 
married life, she had always been shy and retiring with her 
husband, neither expressing her love for him by well-turned 
phrases or poetic imagery. But perhaps he knew it, for 
from morning till night she busied herself in the house, and 
with the food, forestalling his wishes, preparing a cool sitting- 
room for him in the summer, and a warm bedroom in 
winter. The viands he preferred his wife carefully dressed, 
ever placid and smiling. No, she had never found words to 
tell him the happiness that flooded her heart when he raised 
her in his strong arms, kissed her throat, and called her 
** Nini " ; but every day her gratitude proved it to him, and her 
constant thought and care for him. She did not tell him that 
when he went shooting and left her alone for days, she wearied 
after him, and longed for his return .... On his return, he 
was so happy and so pleasantly tired, that she had never 
spoken of those solitary hours to him. If they separated for 
eight or ten days, she wrote to him every day, just a line about 
household matters, or the people who had called .... There 
was no flourish about her letters ; they began with Caro Andrea^ 
and ended with la tua affetzionatissima moglie^ Cateruia. She 
murmured inwardly against her own timidity, and often felt 
that she was very stupid. That poor Galimberti had oiice 
said to her : " Spaccapietra, you are entirely wanting in 
imagination." Then she had taken heart when it occurred 
to her that Andrea must know how well she loved him; if 
she said nothing, her every act spoke for her. Luckily 
Andrea was of a frank, open disposition ; he did not like 
aifected grimaces, he did not make melting speeches; his was 
a well- conditioned love that could exist without his perpetually 
asking her duiing the honeymoon, "Do you love me?" Besides, 
she knew of no other answer than ^'Yes." Again Lucia 
appeared on the scene ; Lucia, more beautiful than herself, 



264 FANTASY. 

nervous, suffering, fantastic. Lucia and Andrea stood together 
in the foreground of her life. Oh ! how she could recall her 
trouble, through their disputes and their reciprocal dislike. 
Her heart had been torn between love for Andrea, to whom 
Lucia was odious, and love for Lucia, who held Andrea in 
contempt. She could neither venture to coerce them, nor 
could she divide herself in two. She loved them both, each 
in a different fashion. When they had begun to know each 
other, and their antipathy had turned to a more cordial 
sentiment, then there had been thanksgiving in her heart, that 
the miracle she prayed for with all her might had come to 
pass. She had not told either of them how much her love 
for them had grown since they had deigned to be friends ; 
but during the whole year she had tried to prove her gratitude 
to them. She passed her life between them, for them, ever 
devising a way to make their life pleasant ; tending and caring 
for them, body and soul, thinking of naught but the two 
persons in whom her life was centred. Thus had Caterina 
Lieti lived and had her being, thus it was that her whole 
existence appeared to her like a series of events, of which she 
was a spectator on that winter night. Her memory was as 
clear and definite as the facts it recalled. With calm patience, 
staring into the darkness the better to discern them, she 
searched for other memories ; if perchance she had overlooked 
any incident of a different nature, anything singular, excep- 
tional, like all that she had already recalled. Was there 
nothing, really nothing ? Twice she repeated this question to 
herself, but she found nothing. Her conscience had been 
calm, equal, unvaried j it had known two constant and active 
loves Andrea, Lucia. 

Well, now all was clear to her. The science of life had 
come to her in a flash, sweeping faith and innocence from 
her heart. Her intellect opened wide to the cruel lesson, 
applied as by a blow from a hammer. She felt like another 
woman, one suddenly aged and become more capable, a woman 



FANTASY. 26s 

of cool, dear judgment, searching eye, and an implacable 
conscience. She no longer discovered in herself either indulg- 
ence, pity, kindness, nor illusions ; in their stead she found 
the inflexible.justice that could weigh men and things. 

Now she understood it all. Lucia's personality encroached 
on the life around her; Lucia the Protagonist, Lucia the 
Sovereign. The personality rose, clearly defined against her 
horizon, as if in harsh relief, without any softening or veiling 
of the contours, without any optical illusion, cruel in its truth. 
In vain Caterina closed her dazzled eyes not to see this truth, 
it filtered through her lids, like the sun. The gigantic figure 
attracted all the others, fascinated them, bewitched them, 
seized them, absorbed them, and down below there only 
remained certain pitiful, shrunken shades, that vaguely 
struggled and despaired within a grey mist. Lucia reigned, 
beautiful and cruel, not bending her eyes on those who 
wrung their hands, nor hearing their groans, her eyes half 
closed so that she might not see, her ears unheeding ; 
contemplating herself, adoring herself, making an idol of 
herself. 

Surely this was a monstrous creature, a spirit ruined in 
infancy, an ever-swelling egoism that assumed the fair cruel 
features of fantasy. At bottom, the heart was cold, arid, and 
incapable of enthusiasm ; its surface was coated with a pro- 
digious imagination that magnified at will every sensation and 
impression. Within, a total absence of sentiment ; without, 
every form of sentimentalism. Within, indifference to every 
human being ; without, the delirium of noble Utopian theories, 
fluctuating aspirations round a vague ideal. Within, a harsh 
spongy pumice-stone, that nothing can soften, that is never 
moved ; without, the sweetness of a voice and the tenderness 
of words. And artifice, so deeply rooted in the soul as to 
mock nature, artifice so complete, so perfect that by night, 
alone with herself, she could persuade herself that she was 
really unhappy and really in love : artifice that had become one 
with disposition, temperament, blood and nerves, until she had 



266 FANTASY. 

acquired the profound conviction of her own goodness, her 
own virtue, and her own excellence. 

The vision became more and more distinct, cynically re- 
vealing the falseness of its character, and the lie that was 
incrusted in its every line. To have the fantasy of error, the 
fantasy of sentiment, the fantasy of love, the fantasy of 
friendship, the fantasy of sorrow ; never anything but blinding, 
corroding fantasy, put forward in the guise of all that is sweet 
and wholesome. To weave fancies on God, the Madonna, the 
affections, on everything ; to barter the realities of life for the 
unreality of a dream ; to be master of the fantasy that endov/s 
the eye with seductive charm, the voice with voluptuous 
melody, the smile with fascination that makes the kiss irre- 
sistible ; to feed one's nerves on the torments of others, bringing 
about the enacting of the drama that is artificial for oneself, 
and terribly earnest for everybody else. That was Lucia. 

That smiling and weeping monster, with the moving tears, 
the enchanting voice, the bewitching flexibility and poetry of 
diction, that profound and feminine egoism, had absorbed all 
that surrounded her .... Caterina had pitied and loved her, 
Galimberti had loved and pitied her, Alberto had loved her, 
Andrea had loved her. She had stood in their midst and had 
drawn all the love out of them. At the languor of her coun- 
tenance, all had languished ; in her mystic prostration, all had 
suffered; her mock passion had burned deep into their 
flesh. Her egoism had battened on sacrifice and abnegation : 
yet they who loved her, loved her more and more. Whoever 
had approached her had been taken. Those whom she took 
never regained their freedom. Their souls blended with her 
soul, they thought her thoughts, dreamed her dreams, shuddered 
with her thrills ; their bodies clung to her irrevocably, without 
hope of deliverance, receiving from her their health and their 
disease. And for the aggrandisement of this potent egoism, its 
glory and its triumph, Caterina beheld the misery of those 
who had surrounded Lucia : the fate of Galimberti, who was 
dying in a madhouse; the misery of his starving, despairing 
mother and sister; the lugubrious and dishonoured agony of 



FANTASY. 267 

Alberto, the husband she had abandoned ; the dishonour of her 
father and her name ; the ruin of Andrea, who left home, wife, 
and country to live a life of despair with Lucia; and the last most 
innocent victim, Caterina herself, bereft by Lucia of her all. 

All these wrongs were irreparable. Horrible was the agony 
of the dying, who cried for Lucia and loved her ; horrible the 
life of the survivors, who hated, cursed, and loved her. Irret 
parable the past, irreparable the present. Lucia towered above 
the ruins, enthroned, audacious, triumphant, formidable, casting 
on the earth the shadow of her inhuman egoism, obscuring the 
sky with it. 

The dawn rose livid and frozen. Caterina was still there," 
stiffened in her chair, pressing the wedding ring that had been 
returned to her between her icy fingers. She uttered a cry of 
terror when, in the grey morning light, she saw the white bed, 
so smooth and cold ; a cry so terrible that it did not sound 
human. She opened her arms and threw herself down on the 
spot where Andrea had slept and wept upon that tomb. 



V. 

''You had better go to bed, Signora," said Giulietta, pity- 
ingly ; " you haven't even undressed." 

" I was not sleepy," replied Caterina, simply. . 

"Will you breakfast?" 

''No." j . 

"At least, I may bring you your coffee?" j 

" Bring me the coffee." ' 

The tears had ceased to flow, but her eyes burned painfully. 
She passed into her dressing-room and began to bathe them 
with cold water. She dipped her whole head into the basin, 
and felt refreshed. When Giulietta entered with the coffee 
she found her still bathing her head. 

" The maid has come from Casa Sana. The poor gentleman 
wandered all night ; this morning, saving your presence, he 



268 FANTASY. 

spat blood again. The maid says it is a heartrending sight. 
Madonna 7nia^ how did this dreadful thing happen ? " 

Caterina raised her cold, severe eyes, and looked at her. 
Giulietta, who was intimidated, held her peace. 

In the kitchen, she announced to the man-servant, the 
coachman, and the cook that " the Signora was a woman in a 
thousand. You will see with what courage she will bear her 
misfortune." 

" What can she do ? " quoth the man-servant. " If SIgnor 
Sana were well, she could have gone to stay with him . . . ." 

" Sst ! " the cook silenced him. " The Signora is not a woman 
of that kind. I know her well, for I have seen a great deal of 
her. She wouldn't do it." 

" I say there is no chance of the master's returning," added 
the cook later. " My ! that Donna Lucia is a clever woman." 

Caterina busied herself in her room, putting away the few 
things that were lying about, such as her bonnet and shawl; 
opening and shutting the wardrobes, reviewing the linen 
shelves, counting their contents, as if she thought of cataloguing 
them. She stopped to think every now and then, as if she 
were verifying the numbers. This long and minute examina- 
tion took some time. All her husband's things were there, and 
in one corner stood his gun and cartridge-box. The room 
was in order. She passed into the morning- room, where on the 
previous evening she had read that letter. The drawers of her 
husband's bureau were open, and the key was in one of them ; 
she inspected them, paper on paper, letter on letter. They 
were business papers, contracts, donations, leases, bills, letters 
from friends, letters that she, Caterina, had written to him 
during his absence : all the Exhibition documents were there, 
reports and communications. She patiently turned all these 
pages, and read them all, holding the drawer on her knee, 
leaning her elbow against the bureau, with her forehead 
resting on her hand. She was conscious of feeling stunned, of a 
void in her head and a buzzing in her ears. But that passed, 
and she soon recovered the lucidity of her mind. When she 



FANTASY. 269 

had finished reading, she tied up all the letters witli string, 
made separate packets of the business papers, and wrote the 
date and name on each in her round, legible hand. It did 
not tremble while she wrote, and when she had finished her 
arduous task she wiped the pen on the pen-wiper and shut 
down the cover of the inkstand. At the bottom of the big 
drawer she found another bundle, containing ten pages of 
stamped paper, forming her marriage contract. She read 
them all, but replaced them without writing on them. She 
closed the drawers, and added the key to the bunch that she 
kept in her pocket. 

" It is midday," said Giulietta. " Will you breakfast, or will 
you wear yourself to rags? " 

She ventured on the brusque, affectionate familiarity that 
is peculiar to Neapolitan servants when there is trouble in a 
house. 

^' Bring me another cup of coffee." 
"At least dip a rusk in it ; you mustn't starve." 
Caterina seated herself in the armchair, waiting for Giulietta 
to bring her the cup of coffee. She sat without thinking, 
counting the roses on the carpet, and observing that one 
turned to the left and the other to the right. She drank 
her coffee and then went over to her Httle writing-table, where 
she kept her own letters. They were already classified, with 
the order which was characteristic of her. There were letters 
from her aunt, from Giuditta, from her teachers, and from 
Andrea. The bulkiest packet was the one labelled " Lucia." 
This packed smelled of musk ; she untied and with calm atten- 
tiveness read those transparent, crossed, and closely written 
pages, one by one. They took her so long to read that her 
face began to show signs of fatigue. She locked the writing- 
table and added the key to the others in her pocket. Lucia's 
letters had remained in her lap ; she lifted up her dress like an 
apron, knelt down before the fireplace, and there burned the 
letters, page by page. The thin paper made a quick, short- 
lived flame, that left behind it a white evanescent ash, and a 



270 FANTASY. 

more pungent odour of musk, blended widi that of burnt 
sealing-wax. She watched the pyre, still kneeling. When it 
was consumed, she rose to her feet, mechanically flicking the 
dust off her dress at the knees. The iron safe stood next to the 
mantelpiece. Andrea had left it and his bureau unlocked, with 
the keys in them. She opened it and inspected its contents. 
Andrea had taken with him a hundred thousand francs in 
coupons payable to bearer, and in shares of the National Bank. 
He had left the settlements of his inheritance, Caterina's 
marriage contract, and a bundle of other bonds. In one 
corner were the cases containing Caterina's jewels. She 
counted the money, classified the gems, and wrote a list of 
both on a scrap of paper, which she left in the bureau, took 
some small change and a ten-franc-note, and locked the safe. 
A new impulse caused her to spring to her feet again. She 
passed into an adjoining room, and from thence into the draw- 
ing-room, whose windows she threw wide open. The splendid 
December day broke in with its deep blue sky, its glare of 
light and its soft air. Caterina had nothing to do in the draw- 
ing-room, but in passing she stopped near a window to grace- 
fully arrange the folds of a curtain, moved the Murano glasses 
from one table to another, and went a few steps away from 
them to judge of the effect. When she had inspected every- 
thing, in the bright light that lit up pearl-grey brocaded hang- 
ings into which were woven coral-coloured flowers, the crystals, 
the statues, the bric-k-brac, she closed the windows, fastened 
the shutters, and left the drawing-room and the yellow room 
behind her in darkness. 

When she reached the dining-room, Giulietta hastened to 
meet her, thinking that her mistress would eat something. But 
Caterina was only looking at the high sideboards, making 
mental calculations. 

" How many glasses are missing from the Baccarat service, 
Giulietta?" 

" One large tumbler and a wineglass." 

" That's right \ and this set of Bohemian glass V* 



FANTASY. 271 

"Only one; Monzu knocked it down with his elbow." 

" I see. I think there is a fork with a crooked prong." 

" Yes, Signorina." 

" Well, you can go ; I know you have some ironing to do 
to-day." 

Giulietta went away quite comforted. If the Signora had 
time and inclination to take such minute interest in the house, 
it was a sign that she had made up her mmd to bear her 
trouble. And if men were such wretches, what was the good 
of taking it to heart? The master used to be good, but he had 
quite changed of late. Giulietta, standing before a table 
heaped up with rough-dried linen, sprinkled it with the water 
she took up out of a basin in the hollow of her hand. Caterina 
passing slowly by her, stopped for a moment. 

" Be careful of the shirts, Giulietta j last week there were 
two scorched." 

" That was because I overheated the irons ; I will be careful 
to-day." 

Caterina entered the kitchen. Monzu, who was carrying on 
an animated conversation with the man-servant, became sud- 
denly silent. She cast a cool glance of inspection round her, the 
look of the mistress, severe and just. 

" ^lonzu, tell your kitchen-boy to scour the corners well. 
It is no good cleaning just in the middle of the floor." 

"I have told that boy about it so often, but Signora 7nia^ 
he's good for nothing. I'll give him a scolding when he comes 
to-day." 

"Are your accounts made up, Monzu?" 

"We were to settle on Monday, the day after to-morrow.'' 

" Let us settle to-day instead." 

He drew out the large account-book in its red leather bind- 
ing, and placed it on the corner of the table, where his mistress 
added it up. He had sufficient money in hand for another week. 

"Am I to provide for the Signora only?" 

" Do not provide for me ; I shall not be dining at home. 
Think of the servants." 



272 FANTASY. 

The cook cast a triumphant glance after her, as turning 
quickly she went away ; he knew that the Signora was a 
woman of spirit, and was not going to give way .... 

Caterina went back to her room and looked at her watch. 
It was about three, she had barely time to dress. She chose 
her black cashmere gown and her fur. Slowly, bestowing on 
her toilet the utmost care, she changed from head to foot. She 
had already wound her hair in a great knot, and fastened it 
with a light tortoiseshell comb. She looked at herself in the 
glass : she was rather pale, with two red lines under her eyes ; 
but for that she looked much as usual. She put her handker- 
chief and purse in her pocket, and while she was drawing on 
her black gloves she called Giulietta. 

" Order the carriage," she said. 

She waited in her room for the carriage to be announced. 
Had she forgotten anything ? No, nothing. The house was 
in order from top to bottom ; there was nothing lying about, 
nothing out of place ; everything was locked up and the keys 
were on the ring. She had not overlooked anything. She 
felt in her pocket for an object that she needed, and found it 
there ; nothing had been omitted. She waited without impa- 
tience ; she had plenty of time, having, as usual, dressed early. 
When Giulietta returned, she rose and let her put her wraps 
on her. Passing before her she said : 

" Giulietta, I am going to Centurano on business." 

"But there is no one at Centurano, except Matteo!" 

" He will do. You can keep house here." 

"May I not come?" 

" I shall only stay one night at Centurano/* 

"Then you will return to-morrow?" 

" Of course. Airivederci^ Giulietta." 

"The Madonna be with you, Signorina; never fear, all will 
be right here." 

She accompanied her as far as the stairs. Caterina went 
away without looking back, with rhythmic step, and veil drawn 
down over her eyes. 



FANTASY. 273 

"The Madonna be with you, and give you a good journey 
and a speedy return." 

" Good-bye, Giulietta." 

The latter went, however, to look after her mistress from the 
window of the anteroom that overlooked the courtyard. 
Caterina entered her carriage without turning to look behind 
her, and said to the coachman : 

" To the station." 

In the Via di Foria she met Giovanna Casacalenda, in a 
daumojit^ with her husband. Giovanna sat, upright and beau- 
tiful, with the black brim of her Rubens hat shading her proud, 
voluptuous eyes : the Commendatore Gabrielli wore the look 
of composure that became his age, his beard correctly trimmed 
to a fringe, his oblique glance from behind the gold-rimmed 
spectacles, and the twitch of the lips that denoted a tendency 
to apoplexy. Husband and wife neither spoke to nor looked at 
each other. Behind them followed a smart, high equipage, 
with spider-like wheels, driven by Roberto Gentile, in his 
showy, cavalry uniform. He drove close to the dau??iont, 
while Giovanna assumed unconsciousness, and her husband 
maintained his grave, assured demeanour. Giovanna smiled 
and waved her hand to Caterina, the husband raised his hat. 
It was evident that her friends had not yet heard any- 
thing. 

There was only a pair of German fellow-travellers in the 
first-class carriage, occupied by the solitary little lady who 
was so neatly gloved and wrapped in furs. Whether they 
were husband and wife, brother and sister, uncle and niece, or 
father and daughter, it was impossible to decide, so red were 
they of face, light of hair, indefinite as to age, and alike in all 
respects. They were laden with shawls, rugs, bags, and 
Baedekers ; they gabbled continually, glancing furtively 
betimes at the little lady, who, seated in a corner, gazed at 
the Neapolitan twilight landscape. When they arrived at 
Caserta, the youthful lady crossed the carriage, and bending 

s 



274 FANTASY. 

in salutation, descended : the two travellers uttered a sigh of 
relief. 

" Raise the hood, and drive to Centurano," she said to the 
driver of a fly. Only once, in passing the Palazzo Reale, 
solemn, silent, and closed, pale with the solitude that had 
once more fallen upon it, she leant forward to contemplate it, 
a stretch of park, and far, far away a white line that was the 
waterfall, through tlie arch of the great gate. But she drew 
herself back immediately, and did not look out again through 
the rest of the drive. The short winter twilight deepened; 
a fresh breeze blew over the ploughed fields and the bare 
trees. 

The villas of Centurano were nearly all closed, except two 
or three that were inhabited by their owners all the year 
round. Little lights shone in the dwellings of the tenantry, 
Matteo, v/ho was leaning against the portico quietly smoking 
his pipe, did not at first recognise his mistress until she had 
paid the driver. After the latter had wished her " una santa 
notte " (a holy good-night), he turned and drove away. 

" O Signorina . . . . O Signorina . . . ." stammered Matteo, 
in confusion, hiding his pipe behind his back. 

" Good evening, Matteo ; is it open up there? " 

** I have the key here, Signora." 

" Can one pass a night here ? " 

" Certainly, Signora ; it is always ready beds made, floors 
swept." 

Taking an oil-lamp from his room on the ground-floor, he 
led the way upstairs, jingling his keys as he went. 

" And the Signore, will he be here soon ? " 

*' No, the Signore is not coming. I can manage without him." 

" I wanted to show him how fit Fox and Diana are. They 
are getting so fat, from having nothing to do." 

" I will tell him to-morrow." 

*' Shall you stay here to-night, Signorina?" 

''Just for one night. I must find some important docu- 
ments, and I had no one I could send." 



FANTASY. 275 

"But about dinner, Signorina? If you don't mind it, 
Carmela can toss you up an omelette and a handful of vermi- 
celli with tomato sauce. Of course, it's no food for you, but 
for once . . . ." 

*^I have dined at Naples; I don't want anything." 

Deslnte Matteo's care, the upstairs department looked cold, 
dreary, and unhabited. She shivered when she entered the 
drawing-room, where she had passed so much of her country 
life. ,'^^'.. 

"No; we'll soon have a fire burning in the grate." 

While he knelt down and blew the lighted wood she drew 
off her gloves, stretched them, and placed them on the table. 

"Beg pardon, Signorina, but how is the Signora Donna 
Lucia?" 

" She's well." 

"All the better, poor young thing; she was always so 
sickly. And that husband of hers, who hadn't a ha'porth 
of health, the Signor Don Alberto, how is he ?" 

" He's ill." 

"The severe weather, eh? But when the Lord calls we 
must obey." 

" True, Matteo ; so the house is in order." 

" From top to bottom, Signorina mia. What you have told 
me to do, that I have done. The Signora Donna Lucia's room 
is just as she left it. Would you like to see it ? " 

"Let's see it." 

She followed Matteo, who carried a light, into the room. 
On the threshold she was arrested by the same shivering 
sensation. 

" Every morning I air the room and let in the sun. Carmela 
sweeps, I dust. Look, look, Signorina, there is no dust. Tell 
the Signore . . . ." 

" Yes, I will tell him. Shut the door, Matteo ; we will go to 
mine." 

They went there. When they got inside her teeth began to 
chatter. 



276 FANTASY. 

" Shall I light the fire in here, too, Signorina ? '* 

*' Yes, light it^ and bring me another lamp." 

She took off her furs and threw them on the bed. The 
room was full of shadows, which the faint light of the wick ot 
the lamp he held, of the kind in use among the peasantry, did 
not dispel. Matteo returned with a larger lamp. She took 
her place on the sofa. Matteo remained standing before her, 
as if he were ready to make his report. 

"Well, what news?" inquired Caterina, seeing that Matteo 
wished to be questioned. 

" It happened a week ago that the wind was very high, and 
through the forgetful ness of Carmela, who had left the windows 
open, four panes were broken in the dining-room." 

" Have you had them replaced?" 

"Certainly." 

*' You will put them on the bill ? " 

*' Don Claudio, the parish priest, called. They want a new 
roof to the church, and count on the charity of the faithful. 
He says that he hopes that the Signorina, who gives so much 
away in alms, won't forget the church." 

"What did you say?" 

" That he must write to you at Naples.*' 

*' That was right. And what else ? " 

" And then the Mariagrazia's boy died.** 

"That fine child?" 

" Gnorsi: Mariagrazia has been at death's door herself, 
saving your presence." 

" You will tell Mariagrazia how sorry I am for her. What is 
she going to do ? " 

" She is going to service in Naples, poor woman. Did Pepe 
Guardino go to Naples ? " 

" Yes, he came." 

*' Then he must have given you the message about the mill- 
stone that split. Have 1 told you all? Yes, it seems to me 
that I have. No ; I was forgetting the best. One day that 
* Cnoni, corruption of Si^nora si. 



FANTASY. 277 

she was dusting, Carmela found a paper, v;ith writing, under the 
clock. She always meant to put it in an envelope and send it 
you, Signorina. Then, as I had to go to Naples, I said, * I 
will take it to the Signora myself.' Shall I go and fetch it?" 

''Go," she said. 

A slight expression of fatigue came over her face, the heavy 
lids dropped for want of rest. The warmtli from the grate 
had overcome the sensation of cold. She tried to shake off 
the torpor. Matteo returned, carrying a sheet of foreign letter- 
paper, folded into microscopic compass. 

"As neither Carmela nor 1 can read, your fate might have 
been written here, and we should have been none the wiser." 

She opened the sheet and read it. Its perusal made no 
visible impression on her. She put it in her pocket. 

*' It is a list of certain things that I had forgotten. You can 
go to bed, Matteo." 

" There is nothing I can do for you ? " 

" Nothing else." 

" Don't be afraid of anything, Signorina. I shall be here below. 
The bell rings in my room ; if you want anything, ring." 

" I will, if I want anything. But I shall not want anything." 

"What time will you have your coffee in the morning? 
Carmela knows how to make coffee." 

*'At nine. I shall leave by the twelve o'clock train." 

" The gig at the door at eleven, then ? " 

"Yes." 

"Do you want anything else, Signorina?" 

"No." 

" Do you want to write ? " 

" I have nothing to write to any one." 

" I am going to supper ; a leaf or two of salad and a scrap 
of cheese, and then to bed ; but always ready for your Excel- 
lency's service. Perhaps you'd like your bed warmed ? '^ 

" No." 

" It would be no trouble to light a bit of fire in the kitchen. 

"No." 



278 FANTASY. 

"Good-night, Signorina ; sleep well." 

*' Good-night, Matteo." 

He went away with his lamp, closing the door behind him. 
She heard the steps dying away in the distance, and the last 
door close. At that moment the clock struck half-past eight. 
She fell back on the sofa, as pale as though she had fainted. 

I She waited for two hours without rising from the sofa, in a 
species of stupor that made her limbs ache. She heard the 
quarters ring while she counted them. The fire in the grate 
had gradually turned to ashes, leaving a tepid warmth in the 
room. She turned her back on the moon. When the clock 
struck twelve she rose to her feet. The two hours' rest had re- 
stored her strength. She went to the window, but could not dis- 
tinguish anything. Then, without moving the light, she entered 
the drawing-room, one window of which overlooked the court- 
yard. There was no light in Matteo's room ; he must have been 
asleep, for two hours profound silence reigned in the house. 

Then she thought the hour had come. She returned to her 
room, and with infinite precaution passed out of it again 
through the drawing-room, the billiard-room, the dining-room, 
and the ante-chamber. She shaded the light with her hand, 
and as she passed through the room her little black shadow 
grew, as it was projected on the wall, to giant stature. She 
passed a landing, descended two steps, and entered the 
kitchen. She rested the light on a marble table, crossed 
the kitchen on tiptoe, placed a chair against the panelling, 
and unhooked from the wall, where it hung amid shining 
saucepans and moulds, a copper brazier, with brass feet 
fashioned like cat's claws. It was heavy, and the weight of 
it nearly threw her down. She placed it on the ground near 
the hearth ; then, stooping over the arched angle where coals 
were kept, she noiselessly took up some pieces of coke with 
the tongs and filled the brazier with them one by one. She 
blew the coal off her fingers, but when she came to raise the 
brazier she found that it needed the support of her two hands, 



PANTASY. 2?<) 

and that it was not possible to carry the light at the same 
time. She put it down, and carried the light back to her 
room. Then, in the dark, she crept back to the kitchen and 
took the brazier, setting it down before every door, which she 
closed behind her. She crossed the entire length of the 
house, carrying the burden that bore her down. She had 
seen an old newspaper lying in the drawing-room, picked it 
up, entered her room, and locked the door. When she saw 
her hands in the lamplight she perceived that the coke had 
soiled them, and proceeded to wash and dry them carefully. 
She crossed to the window with the intention of closing the 
shutters ; the stars shone high and bright in the night, and 
the fountain in the street sang its fresh, eternal melody. She 
preferred to leave the shutters open, returned to the fireplace, 
and burned the letter in which Lucia had craved her pity 
and the love-letter to Andrea that Matteo had found. She 
mixed the ashes, as she had done at Naples, so that no trace 
was left of anything. She took the fur wrap off the bed and 
laid it on the sofa. Was there anything else to be done? 
Yes ; the keys. She took them out of her pocket and laid 
them on the mantelshelf, well in sight. That was all she had 
to do. 

Then she placed a chair under the image of the Madonna 
by the bedside, and, kneeling on the carpet, prayed as she 
used to pray in her school-days. Her face was buried in her 
hands; she prayed without looking at the Madonna. She 
neither wept nor sobbed, nor even sighed. It did not transpire 
whether she repeated her usual prayers or only told the Virgin 
her thoughts. It was a long, calm, mute prayer, unbroken by 
thrill, start, or shiver. Twice she made the sign of the cross, 
glanced for an instant at the Madonna, and rose. Then she 
put the chair back in its place. She tore a strip off the news- 
paper, and folded it in four. This she placed under the door, 
thereby effectually shutting out the draught. With a small 
roll of paper she closed the keyhole, from which she had pre- 
viously withdrawn the key. She tore another strip and placed 



28o FANTASY, 

it under the window. She stopped up a tiny hole that let in 
the rain-water. She placed her head against the window 
fastening to feel if there were any draught : no, the two sides 
closed so accurately that there was none. She looked round, 
wondering if the air could get in anywhere. No. She drew 
the brazier into the middle of the room, and, with a strip of 
paper lighted at the lamp, set fire to two small pieces of coal. 
She blew the fire to spread it. Then she carried the light to 
the bedside and unlooped the white curtains, standing a 
moment absorbed in thought. She turned to look at the 
brazier : one coal caught fire from another, and the whole 
mass was gradually becoming incandescent. She felt an in- 
creasing weight in her head. Without hesitation she blew out 
the light, and, drawing the curtains, lay down on the bed, on 
the place where she had been accustomed to sleep. 

The bright winter sun shed its light on a room flooded with 
a light haze. Behind the white curtains lay a little dead 
woman. She was dressed in black, her feet outstretched and 
close together, her head resting on the pillows. She looked 
like a child, smaller than in life. Her face was of leaden 
hue. The hair was unruffled, the mouth open as if in the 
effort to breathe, the lips violet, the chest slightly elevated, 
and the rest of the body sunken in the bed. The glazed eyes 
of the little dead woman were wide open, as if in stupefaction 
at an incredible spectacle; and round the violet fingers of 
the leaden-hued hands there was twisted part of a broken 
rosary of lapis-lazuli. . 



^7> 



PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE, HANSON AND CO. 
LONDON ANO EDUNbURGH 



, fcelnemanivs Snternattoital Xtbrar^, 



EDITOR'S NOTE. 



There is nothing in which the Anglo-Saxon world differ^ 
more from the world of the Continent of Europe than 
in its fiction. English readers are accustomed to satisfy 
their curiosity with English novels, and it is rarely 
indeed that we turn aside to learn something of the 
interior life of those other countries the exterior 
scenery of which is often so familiar to us. We 
climb the Alps, but are content to know nothing of 
the pastoral romances of Switzerland. We steam in 
and out of the picturesque fjords of Norway, but never 
guess what deep speculation into life and morals is 
made by the novelists of that sparsely peopled but 
richly endowed nation. We stroll across the courts of 
the Alhambra, we are listlessly rowed upon Venetian 
canals and Lombard lakes, we hasten by nighc through 
the roaring factories of Belgium ; but we never pause 
to inquire whether there is now dourishing a Spanish, 



EDITOR'S NOTE. 

an Italian, a Flemish school of fiction. Of Kussian 
novels we have lately been taught to become partly 
aware, but we do not ask ourselves whether Poland may 
not possess a Dostoieffsky and Portugal a Tolstoi. 

Yet, as a matter of fact, there is no European country 
that has not, within the last half-century, felt the dew 
of revival on the threshing-floor of its worn-out schools 
of romance. Everywhere there has been shown by 
young men, endowed with a talent for narrative, a 
vigorous determination to devote themselves to a vivid 
and sympathetic interpretation of nature and of man. 
In almost every language, too, this movement has 
tended to display itself more and more in the direction 
of what is reported and less of what is created. Fancy 
has seemed to these young novelists a poorer thing than 
observation ; the world of dreams fainter than the world 
of men. They have not been occupied mainly with 
what might be or what should be, but with what is, and, 
in spite of all their shortcomings, they have combined to 
produce a series of pictures of existing society in each of 
their several countries such as cannot fail to form an 
archive of documents invaluable to futurity. 

But to us they should be still more valuable. To 
travel in a foreign country is but to touch its surface. 
Under the guidance of a novelist of genius we penetrate 
to the secrets of a nation, and talk the very language of 
its citizens. AVe may go to Normandy summer after 



EDirOK'S NOTE. 

summer and know less of the manner of life that proceeds 
under those gnarled orchards of apple-blossom than we 
learn from one tale of Guy de Maupassant's. The 
present series is intended to be a guide to the inner 
geography of Europe. It offers to our readers a series 
of spiritual Baedekers and Murrays. It will endeavour 
to keep pace with every truly characteristic and vigorous 
expression of the novelist's art in 'each of the principal 
European countries, presenting what is quite new if it 
is also good, side by side with what is old, if it has not 
hitherto been presented to our public. That will be 
selected which gives with most freshness and variety the 
different aspects of continental feeling, the only limits 
of selection being that a book shall be, on the one hand, 
amusing, and, on the other, wholesome. 

One difficulty which must be frankly faced is that of 
subject. Life is now treated in fiction by every race 
but our own with singular candour. The novelists of 
the Lutheran North are not more fully emancipated 
from prejudice in this respect than the novelists of the 
Catholic South. Everywhere in Europe a novel is 
looked upon now as an impersonal work, from which 
the writer, as a mere observer, stands aloof, neither 
blaming nor applauding. Continental fiction has learned 
to exclude, in the main, from among the subjects of its 
attention, all but those facts which are of common 
expqrience, and thus th^ novelists have determined 



EDITOR'S NOTE, 

to disdain nothing and to repudiate nothing which is 
common to humanity ; much is freely discussed, even 
in the novels of Holland and of Denmark, which our 
race is apt to treat with a much more gingerly dis- 
cretion. It is not difficult, however, we believe it is 
certainly not impossible to discard all which may 
justly give offence, and yet to offer to an English 
public as many of the masterpieces of European fiction 
as we can ever hope to see included in this library. It 
will be the endeavour of the editor to search on all 
hands and in all languages for such books as combine 
the greatest literary value with the most curious and 
amusing qualities of manner and matter. 

EDMUND GOSSE. 



HEINEMANN'S 

Scientific DanbbooP^s. 



A KNOWLEDGE of the practical Sciences has now 
become a necessity to every educated man. The de- 
mands of life are so manifold, however, that of many 
things one can acquire but a general and superficial 
knowledge. Ahn and Ollendorff have been an easy 
road to languages for many a struggling student ; 
Hume and Green have taught us history ; but little 
has been done, thus far, to explain to the uninitiated 
the most important discoveries and practical inventions 
of the present day. Is it not important that we 
should know how the precious metals can be tested as 
to their value ; how the burning powers of fuel can be 
ascertained ; what wonderful physical properties the 
various gases possess ; and to what curious and power- 
ful purposes heat can be adapted ? Ought we not to 
know more of the practical application and the work- 
ing of that almost unfathomable mystery electricity ? 
Should we not know how the relations of the Poles to 
the magnet-needle are , tested ; how we can ascertain 
by special analysis what produce will grow in particular 
soils, and what will not, and what artificial means can 
be used to improve the produce ? 



In this Series of " Scientific Handbooks " these 
and kindred subjects will be dealt with, and so 
dealt with as to be intelligible to all who seek know- 
ledge to all who take an interest in the scientific 
problems and discoveries of the day, and are desirous 
of following their course. It is intended to give in 
a compact form, and in an attractive style, the pro- 
gress made in the various departments of Science, to 
explain novel processes and methods, and to show 
how so many wonderful results have been obtained. 
The treatment of each subject by thoroughly competent 
writers will ensure perfect scientific accuracy ; at the 
same time, it is not intended for technical students 
alone. Being written in a popular style, it is hoped 
that the volumes will also appeal to that large class of 
readers who, not being professional men, are yet in 
sympathy with the progress of science generally, and 
take an interest in it. 

The Series will therefore aim to be of general 
interest, thoroughly accurate, and quite abreast of 
current scientific literature, and, wherever necessary, 
well illustrated. Anyone who masters the details of 
each subject treated will possess no mean knowledge 
of that subject ; and the student who has gone through 
one of these volumes will be able to pursue his studies 
with greater facility and clearer comprehension in 
larger manuals and special treatises. 

The first volume will be a Manual on the Art of 
Assaying Precious Metals, and will be found valuable 
not only to the amateur, but to the assayer, metal- 
lurgist, chemist, and miner. The work will be a de- 



eirable addition to the libraries of Mining Companies, 
engineers, bankers, and bullion brokers, as well as 
to experts in the Art of Assaying. 

The second volume of the Series is written by Pro- 
fessor Kimball, and deals with the physical properties 
of Gases. He has taken into account all the most 
recent works on '* the third state of matter," including 
Crooke's recent researches on " radiant matter." There 
is a chapter also on Avogadro's law and the Kinetic 
theory, which chemical as well as physical students 
will read with interest. 

In the third volume Dr. Thurston treats, in a popular 
way, on " Heat as a Form of Energy " ; and his book 
will be found a capital introduction to the more 
exhaustive w^orks of Maxwell, Carnot, Tyndall, and 
others. 

On account of the requirements of the subject, a 
large number of wood-cuts have been made for the 
first volume, and the following volumes will also be 
fully illustrated wherever the subject is susceptible 
of it. 

The first three volumes are now ready. Others will 
follow, written, like these, by thoroughly competent 
writers in their ow^n departments; and each volume 
will be complete in itself. 



IbeineinaniVi} Scientific HDanbboofta. 



I. 

MANUAL of ASSAYING GOLD, SILVER, 

COPPER, AND LEAD ORES. By Walter Lee 
Bbown, B.Sc. Revised, corrected, and considerably en- 
larged, with a chapter on THE ASSAYING OF FUEL, 
&c., by A. B. Griffiths, Ph.D., F.R.S. (Edin.), F.O.S. 
In One Volume, small crown 8vo. Illustrated, 7s. 6d. 

Colliery Guardian. "A delightful and fascinating book." 

Fimncial World. "T\\& most complete and practical manual on every- 

thing which concerns assaying of all which liave come before us.'' 

North British EconomiM. "With this book the amateur may become 

an expert. Bankers and Bullion Brokerd are equally likely to find it useful." 



n. 
THE PHYSICAL PROPERTIES OF 

GASES. By Arthur L. Kimball, of the Johns 
Hopkins University. In One Volume, small crown 8vo. 
Illustrated, 5s. 

CONTENTS. 



Introduction. 

Pressu'-e and Buoyancy. 

Elasticity and Kxi)ansion with heat. 

Gases an I Vapour.s. 

Air-Pumps and High Vacua. 

Diffusion and Occlusion. 



Thermodynamics of Gases. 
Avogadro's Law and the Kinetic 

Theory. 
Geissler Tubes and iladiant Matter. 
Conclusion. 



Chemical Xnvn. " The man of culture who wishes for a general and 
accurate acquaintance with the physical properties of gases, will find in 
Mr. Kimball's work just what he requires." 

Iron." We can highly recommend this little book." 

Manchester Guardian." Mr. Kimball has the too rare merit of des- 
cribing first the facts, and then the hypotheses invented to limn them 
together." 

III. 

HEAT AS A FORM OF ENERGY. By 

Professor R. H. Thurston, of Cornell University. In 
One Volume, small crown 8vo. Illustrated, 5s. 
CONTENTS. 



The Philosophers' Ideas of Heat. 
I he Science of Thermodynamics, 
[leat Transfer and the World's 
Industries. 



Air and Gas Engines, Ihei 

their Promise. 
The Development of the 

Engine. 
Summary and Conclusion. 



Work and 
St, am 



OTHER VOLUMES IN PREPARATION. 



London: WM. HEINEMANN, 21, Bedford Street, W.C. 



Telegraphic Address 

SuNLOCKS, London. 

December i8go. 



Mr. WILLIAM HEINEMANN'S 

Announcements 



AND 



New Publications. 



The Books mentiotud in tkit Litl can 
be obtained to order by any Book- 
seller if not in stock, or will be semi 
by the Publishtr post fre on rece/^t 
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Mr. William Heinemann's List. 

Now Ready. 
THE CURB OF CONSUMPTION. 

8vo, Wrapper, is. ; or Limp Cloth, is. 6d. 
COMMUNICATIONS ON 

A REMEDY 

FOE 

TUBERCULOSIS. 

By Professor ROBERT KOCH, Berlin. 

Authorised Translation. 



From The Times, leading article, November 17, 1890: "It has 
been acknowledged, at any time during the last year or two, that the 
discovery of a cure for tuberculosis was not only possible but even 
likely ; and that which is now announced comes with the highest 
recommendations and from the most trustworthy source. " 



In One Volume, Crown 8vo, 6s. 
THE 

LIFE OF HENRIK IBSEN 

By HENRIK J^GER. 

TRANSLATED BY CLARA BELL. 

With the Verse done into English from the Norwegian 
Original by EDMUND GOSSE. 



St. James's Gazette. "Admirably translated. Deserves a cordial 
and emphatic welcome." 

Guardian. *' Ibsen's dramas at present enjoy a considerable vogue, 
and their admirers will rejoice to find full descriptions and criticisms 
in Mr. Jaeger's book." 

Academy. "We welcome it heartily. An unqualified boon to 
the many English students of Ibsen." 



21 BEDFORD STREET, LONDON, W.C. 



Mr. William Heinemann's List, 
three new plays. 

Now ready. 
In One Volume, Small 4to, 

H EDDA GABLER: 

A DRAMA IN FOUR ACTS. 

By HENKIK IBSEN. 
Translated by EDMUND GOSSE. 



In One Yolume, Small 4to, 
THE 

FRUITS OP ENLIGHTENMENT 

A COMEDY IN FOUR ACTS. 

By Count LYOF TOLSTOI. 
Teanslated by E. J. DILLON. 



In Preparation. 
In One Volume, Small 4to, 

MAHOMET; 

A DRAMA. 
By hall CAINE. 



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the:salon op 

marie bashkirtsepp. 

LETTERS AND JOURNALS. 
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Mr. William Heinemann's List. 

' - In the Press. 

In Two Volumes, Demy 8vo, 

De Quincey Memorials. 

JN LETTERS AND OTHER RECORDS HERE FIRST PUBLISHED, 
WITH COMMUNICATIONS FROM COLERIDGE, THE WORDS- 
WORTHS, MRS. HANNAH MORE, PROFESSOR WILSON, AND 
OTHERS OF NOTE. 

Edited, with Introduction, Notes, and Narrative, 
By ALEXANDEE H. JAPP, LL.D., F.R.S.E. 



These volumes include letters to De Quincey from his mother 
whilst he was still at school, from his sisters Jane and Mary, 
his brothers Henry and Richard, and his guardian, the Rev. 
Samuel Hall. Letters also from the Marquis of Sligo, Pro- 
fessor Wilson, Sir W. Hamilton, " Cyril Thornton," Hannah 
More, the Brontes, Coleridge, Professor T. P. Nichol, the 
Wordsworths, and many others, add to the value of the book, 
and with De Quincey's own letters, throw new light on many 
points in his career, and present confirmation by documentary 
evidence of the truth of some of his statements regarding 
the most extraordinary incidents in his early career, some of 
which have been doubted at various times. 

The work will be handsomely printed, in two volumes, and 
will be illustrated by various portraits of De Quincey and 
members of the De Quincey family. 



81 BEDFORD STREET, LONDON, W.G. 



Mr. William Heinemann's List. 

Early in 1891. 

In Volumes, Crown 8vo, 

THE 

POSTHUMOUS WORKS OP 

THOMAS DE QUINCEY. 

Volume I. 

ADDITIONAL SUSPIRIA DE PROFUNDIS. 

WITH ESSAYS, 

CRITICAL, HISTORICAL, BIOGRAPHICAL, PHILOSOPHICAL, 

IMAGINATIVE, AND HUMOROUS. 

Volume II. 

CONVERSATION AND COLERIDGE. 

WITH OTHER ESSAYS. 

Recovered from the Author's Original MSS., and Edited by 

Alexander H. Japp, LL.D., F.R.S.E., &c. 



In announcing a collection o unpublished writings of De 
Quincey, the publisher believes he is presenting to the public 
an essential addition to every library, as without these volumes 
the editions of De Quincey's works now before the public will 
be incomplete. The additional Suspiria alone would justify 
this claim for it, some of them being absolutely necessary to 
complete the significance of the Suspiria already published. In 
addition to this there are other essays, on history, speculation, 
criticism, and theology, which will attract and appeal to a 
varied class of readers. A collection of notes under the head- 
ing Brevia are added, which will give the reader closer access 
to De Quincey in his private life and thoughts than anything 
that has hitherto been published. By means of these notes 
the reader is, as it were, introduced to the opium-eater when 
he was communing with himself by means of his pen. 



2T BEDFORD STREET, LONDON, W.C. 



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In the Press. 
THE 

COMPLETE WORKS OF 

HEINRICH HEINE. 
I. 
PICTURES OF TRAVEL. 

TRANSLATED BY 

CHARLES GODFKEY LELAND, M.A., F.RL.S., 
President of the Gypsy Lore Society, <ic Jcc. 



A WANT has long been felt and often expressed by different 
writers for a complete English edition of Heine's works. 
That this has never been done is the more remarkable, 
because Heine is, next to Goethe, the most universally 
popular author in Germany, and one who, although he 
termed himself an unlicked Teutonic savage, wrote in a 
style and manner which have made him a leading favourite 
in all countries. 

The first volume will be the Reisebilder, or Pictures 
OF Travel, probably the most brilliant and entertaining, 
while at the same time the most instructive or thought- 
inspiring work of its kind ever written ; to be followed by 
II., Florentine Nights, Schnabelewopski, and The 
Rabbi of Bacharach ; and III., The Book of Songs. 
Other volumes will be announced later. 
;.. Dr. Garnett is preparing a " Life of Heine," which will 
be uniform with this edition of Heine's works. 



*^* A Large Paper Edition will he printed, limited to one hundred 
and fifty copies^ numbered, and signed hy the translator. 

6 21 BEDFORD STREET, LONDON, W.C. 



Mr. William Heinemann's List. 

Noiu Beady. 

In Two Volumes 8vo, ^^3, 13s. 6d. ^ 

THE 

Genesis op the United States. 

A Narrative of the Movement in England, 1605-1616, which 

RESULTED IN THE PLANTATION OF.NORTH AMERICA BY ENGLISH- 
MEN, disclosing THE CONTEST BETWEEN ENGLAND AND SPAIN 

for the possession of the soil now occupied by the united 
States of America ; set forth through a series of His- 
torical Manuscripts now first printed, together with a 
Re-issue of Rare Contemporaneous Tracts, accompanied 
BY Bibliographical Memoranda, Notes, and Brief Bio- 
graphies. 

Collected, Arranged, and Edited 

By ALEXANDER BROWN, 
Member of the Virginia Historical Society and of the American His- 
torical Association, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. 

With 100 Portraits^ Maps, and Plans. 



The crucial period of English occupancy of North America was 
that included between the return of Weymouth to England in .July 
1605, and closing with the return of Dale to England in July 1616. 
This period has hitherto been most imperfectly understood, partly 
because of the misrepresentations made by early authorities who have 
been followed too implicitly, but chiefly because of the ignorance by 
later historians, and even by early writers, of the part played by 
Spain in attempting to thwart the movements of England. 

No historical work for many years has attracted such attention as 
is sure to be given to this. Its peculiar significance consists in the 
fact that it contains so much important matter never before printed 
in any language. Mr. Brown's researches, pursued through many 
years and at large expense, were rewarded by the discovery, in the 
secret archives of Spain, of numerous documents throwing light on 
the contest in Europe for the possession of the American Continent. 
These documents, with rare tracts of that period (in all 365 papers, 
of which 294 are now for the first time made public), accompanied by 
Bibliographical Memoranda, Notes, Maps and Plans, Portraits and 
Autographs, and a Comprehensive Biographical Index, lend special 
value and importance to this work. 

A prospectus, with specimen pages and full description, will be sent 
on application. Orders may be sent to Booksellers, or direct to the 
Publisher. 

21 BEDFORD STREET, LONDON, W.C. 7 



Mr. William Heinemann's List. 



HEINEMANN'S SGIENTIFIG HANDBOOKS. 



Now Ready. 
In One Volume, Crown 8vo, Illustrated, 7s. 6d. 

manual:op assaying gold, silver, 
copper, and lead ores. 

By WALTER LEE BROWN, B.Sc. 

Revised, Corkected, and considerably Enlarged, 

WITH A CHAPTER ON THE ASSAYING OF FUEL, 
ETC. 

By a. B. GRIFFITHS, Ph.D., F.R.S. (Edm.), F.C.S., 

This work gives full details of the assaying and valuation of ores 
containing gold, silver, copper, and lead. The assaying of gold and 
silver bullion, fuels, &c., and full descriptions are given of the 
necessary apparatus, appliances, and re-agents, the whole being fully 
illustrated by eighty-seven figures in the text. 



In One Volume, Crown 8vo, Illustrated, 5s. 

THiE PHYSICAL PROPERTIES OP 
GASES. 

By ARTHUR L. KIMBALL, 
Of the Johns Hopkins University. 



Contents. 



Introduction. 

Pressure and Buoyancy. 

Elasticity and Expansion with 

heat. 
Gases and Vapours. 
A.ir-Pumps and High Vacua. 



Diffusion and Occlusion. 
Thermodynamics of Gases. 
Avogadro's Land and the Kinetic 

Theory. 
Geis sler Tubes and Eadiant Matter. 
Conclusion. 



In One Volume, Crown 8vo, Illustrated, ss. 

HEAT AS A FORM OP ENERGY. 

By Professor R. H. THURSTON, 
Of Cornell University. 



Contents. 
Ideas of 



The Philosophers' 

Heat. 
The Science of Thermodynamics. 
Heat Transfer and the World's 

Industries. 



Air and Gas Engines, their Work 

and their Promise. 
The Development of the Steam 

Engine. 
Summary and Conclusion. 



21 BEDFORD STREET. LONDON W.C. 



Mr. William Heinemann's List. 

In preparation. 
In One Volume, Demy 8vo, 

DENMARK: 

ITS HISTORY, TOPOGRAPHY, LANGUAGE, LITERA- 
TURE, FINE ARTS, SOCIAL LIFE, AND FINANCE. 

Edited by H. WEITEMEYER. 

With a Coloured Map. 

*^* Dedicated^ hy Permission, to H.R.H. The Princess of Wales. 



In One Volume, 8vo. 

THE COMING TERROR. 

ESSAYS. 
By ROBERT BUCHANAN. 



In One Volume, Crown 8vo. 

GIRLS AND WOMEN 

By E. CHESTER. 



A NEW NOVEL 

By GUIDA. 



A NEW NOVEL 

By FLORENCE WARDEN. 



A NEW NOVEL 

By HANNAH LYNCH. 



21 BEDFORD STREET, LONDOIT, W.O. 



Mr. William Heinemann's List. 
H El N EM ANN'S INTERNATIONAL LIBRARY. 

Edited by EDMUND GOSSE. 

%* Each Volume will have an Introduction specially 
written by the Editor. 



Just Published. 

WORK WHILE YE 

HAVE THE LIGHT. 

A TALE OF THE EARLY CHRISTIANS. 

By count LYOF TOLSTOI. 

Translated from the Russian by E. J. Dillon, Ph.D. 

Glasgow Herald, " Mr. Gosse gives a brief biographical sketch of 
Tolstoi, and an interesting estimate of his literary productions." 

Scotsman. " It is impossible to convey any adequate idea of the 
simplicity and force with which the work is unfolded ; no one who 
reads the book will dispute its author's greatness." 

Liverpool Mercury. ''Marked by all the old power of the great 
Russian novelist." 

Manchester Guardian. " Readable and well translated; full of 
high and noble feeling." 



In the Press. 

FANTASY. 

By MATILDE SERAO. 

Translated prom the Italian by Henry Harland and 

Paul Sylvester. 



FROTH. 

By a. p. VALD^S. 
Translated from the Spanish by CLARA BELL. 

THE 

COMMANDER'S DAUGHTERS. 

By JONAS LIE. 
Translated by A. L. BRAKSTAD. 



21 BEDFORD STREET, LONDON, W.O. 



Mr. William Heinemann's List. 



Heinemann's International Library. 



THE CHIEF JUSTICE. By Karl Emil Franzos. 
Author of "For the Eight," &c. Translated from the 
German by Miles Corbet. 

Manchester Guardian. " Simple, forcible, and intensely tragic. 
It is a very powerful study, singularly grand in its simplicity." 

Sunday Times. "A series of dramatic scenes welded together 
with a never-failing interest and skill." 

IN GOD'S WAY. By Bjornstjerne Bjornson. 
Translated from the Norwegian by Elizabeth Car- 
MiCHAEL. With Introduction by Edmund Gosse. In 
One Volume, crown 8vo, 3s. 6d. ; or Paper Covers, 28. 6d. 

AtliensBuni. "Without doubt the most important, and the most 
interesting work published during the twelve months. . . . There are 
descriptions which certainly belong to the best and cleverest things 
our literature has ever produced. Amongst the many characters, the 
doctor's wife is unquestionably the first. It would be difficult to find 
anything more tender, soft, and refined than this charming per- 
sonage." 

Saturday Review. "The English reader could desire no better 
introduction to contemporary foreign fiction than this notable novel." 

Speaker." 'In God's Way ' is really a notable book, showing the 
author's deep insight into character, giving evidence that his hand has 
lost none of its cunning in the delineation of Scandinavian character, 
and proving, too, how the widespread spirit of criticism is affecting 
Northern Europe as elsewhere. 

PIERRE AND JEAN. By Guy de Maupassant. 
Translated from the French by Clara Bell. With 
Introduction by Edmund Gosse. In One Volume, 
crown 8vo, 3s. 6d. ; or Paper Covers, 2s. 6d. 

Pall Mall Gazette. " So fine and faultless, so perfectly balanced, 
so steadily progressive, so clear and simple and satisfying. It is 
admirable from beginning to end." 

Athenseum. "Ranks amongst the best gems of modern French 
fiction." 



21 BEDFORD street, LONDON, W.C. 



Mr. William Heinemann's List. 



** The Books of which the titles follow 
this have been published during 
the present year, 

THE GENTLE ART OF MAKING ENEMIES 

As pleasingly exemplified in many instances, wherein 
tlie serious ones of this earth, carefully exasperated, have 
been prettily spurred on to indiscretions and unseemli- 
ness, while overcome by an undue sense of right. By J. 
M'Neil Whistler. In One Volume, pott 4to, los. 6d. 

Punch, June 21. "The book in itself, in its binding, print, and 
arrangement, is a work of art." 

Punch, June 28. " A work of rare humour, a thing of beauty and 
a joy for now and ever." 

THE PASSION PLAY AT OBERAMMERGAU, 

1890. By F. W. Farrar, D.D., F.R.S., Archdeacon and 
Canon of Westminster, &c. &c. In One Volume, small 
4to, 2s. 6d. 

Spectator. " Among the many accounts that have been written 
this year of * The Passion Play,' one of the most picturesque, the most 
interesting, and the most reasonable, is this sketch of Archdeacon 
Farrar's. . . . This little book will be read with delight by those who 
have, and by those who have not, visited Oberammergau." 

THE GARDEN'S STORY; on Pleasures and 

Trials of an Amateur Gardener. By G. H. Ell- 

WANQER. With an Introduction by the Eev. C. Wolley 
DoD. In One Volume, i2mo, with Illustrations, 5s. 

Scotsman. "Deserves every recommendation that a pleasant- 
looking page can give it ; for it deals with a charming subject in a 
charming manner. Mr. EUwanger talks delightfully, with instruc- 
tion but without pedantry, of the flowers, the insects, and the birds. 
... It will give pleasure to ever}' reader who takes the smallest 
interest in flowers, and ought to find many readers." 



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Mr. William Heinemann's List. 



IFlew Morfts ot fftctton^ 
THE BONDMAN. A New Saga. By Hall 

Caine. Fourth Edition (Twelfth Thousand). In One 
Volume. Crown 8vo, 3s. 6d. 

Mr. Gladstone. "The 'Bondman' is a work of which I recognise 
the freshness, vigour, and sustained interest no lesi than its integrity 
of aim." 
Count Tolstoi. " A book I hare read with deep interest. " 
Standard. "Its argument is grand, and it ii sustained with a 
power that is almost marvellous." 

IN THE VALLEY. A NoveL By Harold 

Frederic, Author of "The Lawton Girl," "Seth's 
Brother's "Wife," &c. &c. In Three Volumes. Crown 
8vo, with Illustrations. 

AthensBuni. "A romantic story book, graphic and exciting, not 
merely in the central picture itself, but also in its weird surroundings. 
This is a novel deserving to be read." 

Manchester Examiner. " Certain to win the reader's admiration. 
* In the Valley ' is a novel that deserves to live." 

Scotsman. "A work of real ability; it stands apart from the 
common crowd of three-volume novels." 

A MARKED MAN : Some Episodes in his 

Life. By Ada Cambridge, Author of "Two Years' 
Time," "A Mere Chance," &c. &c. In Three Volumes, 
crown 8yo. 

Morning Post. " A depth of feeling, a knowledge of the human 
heart, and an amount of tact that one rarely finds. Should take a 
prominent place among the novels of the season." 

Illustrated London News. "The moral tone of this story, rightly 
eonsidered, is pure and noble, though it deals with the problem of 
an unhappy marriage. " 

Pall Mall Gazette. "Contains one of the best written stories of a 
misalliance that is to be found in modern fiction." 



21 BEDFORD STREET, LONDON, W.C. 13 



Mr. William Heinemann's List. 



mew Morfts of 3fictton 
THE MOMENT AFTER: A Tale of the Un- 

seen. By Robert Buchanan. In One Volume, crown 
8vo, I OS. 6d. 
Athenaeum." Should be read in daylight." 
Otoserver. " A clever tour deforce." 

Guardian. " Particularly impressive, graphic, and powerful." 
Bristol Mercury. ''Written with the same poetic feeling and 
power which have given a rare charm to Mr. Buchanan's previous 
prose writings." 

00 ME FORTH ! By Elizabeth Stuart Phelps 
and Herbert D. Ward. In One Volume, imperial 
i6mo, 7s. 6d. 
Scotsman. " 'Come Forth ! ' is the story of the raising of Lazarus, 
amplified into a dramatic love-story. ... It has a simple, forthright 
dramatic interest such as is seldom attained except in purely imagina- 
tive fiction. " 

THE MASTER OF THE MAGICIANS. By 

Elizabeth Stuart Phelps and Herbert D. Ward. 
In One Volume, imperial i6mo, 7s. 6d. 
Tlie Athenseum. " A success in Biblical fiction." 

THE DOMINANT SEVENTH: A Musical Story. 

By Kate Elizabeth Clark. In One Volume, crown 
8vo, 5s. 
Speaker. " A very romantic story." 

A VERY STRANGE FAMILY: A Novel. By 

F. W. Robinson, Author of "Grandmother's Money," 

" Lazarus in London," &c. &c. In One Volume, crown 

8vo, 3s, 6d. 

Glasgow Herald. "An ingeniously-devised plot, of which the 

interest is kept up to the very last page. A judicious blending of 

humour and pathos further helps to make the book delightful reading 

from start to finish." 



14 21 BEDFORD STREET, LONDON, W.O. 



Mr. William Heinemann's List. 



mew Morft6 of jftctton. 
HAUNTING8: Fantastic Stones. By Vernon 

Lee, Author of " Baldwin," " Miss Brown," &c. &c. In 

One Volume, crown 8vo, 6s. 

Pall Mall Gazette. "Well imagined, cleverly constructed, power- 
fully executed. * Dionea ' is a fine and impressive idea, and * Oke of 
Okehurst' a masterly story." 

PASSION THE PLAYTHING. A Nouel. By 

R. Murray Gilchrist. In One Yolume, crown 8vo, 6s. 

Athenaeum. "This well- written story must be read to be appre- 
ciated." 

Yorksliire Post." A book to lay hold of the reader." 



THE LABOUR MOVEMENT IN AMERICA. 

By Richard T. Ely, Ph.D., Associate in Political 
Economy, Johns Hopkins University. In One Volume, 
crown 8vo, 5 s. 
Weekly Despatcli. "There is much to interest and instruct." 
Saturday Review. "Both interesting and valuable." 
England. " Full of information and thought." 

National Reformer.- " Chapter iii. deals with the growth and 
present condition of labour organisations in America . . . this forms 
a most valuable page of history." 

ARABIC AUTHORS: A Manual of Arabian 

History and Literature. ByF.F.ARBUTHNOT,M.R.A.S., 

Author of "Early Ideas," "Persian Portraits," &c. In 
One Volume 8vo, los. 

Manchester Examiner. " The whole work has been carefully 
indexed, and will prove a handbook of the highest value to the 
student who wishes to gain a better acquaintance with Arabian 
letters." 



21 BEDFORD STREET, LONDON, W.C. 



Mr. William Heinemann's List. 
IDLE MUSINGS: Essays in Social Mosaic. 

By E. CoNDER Gray, Author of "Wise Words and 
Loving Deeds," &c. &c. In One Volume, crown 8vo, 6s. 

Saturday Review. "Light, brief, and bright are the 'essays in 
social mosaic' Mr. Gray ranges like a butterfly from high themes to 
trivial with a good deal of dexterity and a profusion of illustrations." 

GrapMc. "Pleasantly written, will serve admirably to wile away 
an idle half-hour or two." 

IVY AND PASSION FLOWER: Poems. By 

Gerard Bendall, Author of "Estelle," &c. &c. i2mo, 
38. 6d, 

Scotsman. " Will be read with pleasure." 

Woman. "There is a delicacy of touch and simplicity about the 
poems which is very attractive." 

Musical World. "The poems are delicate specimens of art, graoe- 
ful and polished." 

VERSES. By Gertrude Hall, i 2 mo, 3 s. 6d. 

Musical World. "Interesting volume of verse." 
Woman. "Very sweet and musical." 

Manchester Guardian." Will be welcome to every lover of poetry 
who takes it up. " 



21 BEDFORD STREET, LONDON, W.C. 

1500/26/12/90. 



14 DAY USE ! 

RETURN TO DESK FROM WHICH BORROWED 

LOAN DEPT. 

This book is due on the last date stamped below, 
or on the date to which renewed. Renewals onlv: 

Tel. No. 642-3405 
Renewals may be made 4 days prior to date due. 
Renewed books are subject to immediate recall. 



r-tVEr'5'DC 

j: T ;:;^gARY LOAN 



m 24 i^:^NOV 1 8 2003 



\L n M llM^ 



INTER-LIBRARY 

Am? 7 1973 

NOV 2 Z0Q9 



LD21A-40-8,'71 
(P65728l0)476-A-32 



General Library 

University of California 

Berkeley