Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

what I thought of him—till I found my- Benedetto. His vigilance relaxing for self outside his house with the door a moment, the idea found a chink, and locked behind me. He has a strength, having effected an entrance proceeded the old devil! It is all over, Benedetto. to make itself quite at home. It beEither the canal for me, or a knife came persuasive-finally irresistible. between the ribs for him."

"It is a mistake to be a man of good Benedetto reflected for a moment. heart and overflowing kindliness," he * "A foolish alternative," he said at burst out suddenly. “It is a misforlength.

tune to have brains and a ready appliHe looked at the boy. Verily, for cation. It is a veritable calamity to the moment the light of reason seemed possess the power of putting two and to have fled from his eyes. It was use- two together without owning that ferless to argue with him. “Tell me this. tility in argument which would perThou earnest a fair wage? Thou suade one that they made five!" couldst keep a wife?"

“Eh?” queried Nicolo stupidly. He “As well as another,” said Nicolo did not know what to make of this outsullenly.

burst. The fires of rage appeared to have “Go thy ways, amico," said Beneburned themselves out, leaving behind detto, calming suddenly. I will see a smouldering despair.

Rosa Marioni. I am in the vein to"Then I will go to Giulietta's mother night. I feel that I could argue five and see what I can do." He looked feet on a cat! Go home and sleep. for a brightening of the dark face, but The sun will shine again to-morrow." none came. “Thou knowest, amico, "The moments go with leaden stockthat I am very persuasive. In all ings," said Nicolo. "Sleep has forsaken modesty I say that few can withstand me these many nights. I will walk till me when I choose."

I am wearied out." "An angel out of heaven could not "That would be well. Leave me change her now," said Nicolo gloom- now, amico. I must prepare my-arguily. “Matteo is to give her two hun- ments." A wry smile twisted his lips, dred lire on the wedding-day-not that but it was too dark for Nicolo to notice. there will be wedding-day for Half an hour later Benedetto, with him."

his cloak fung over his shoulder, "Softly, softly. He must be rich as knocked at the door of the room where the Jews.”

Giulietta and her mother lived. It "He has been saving for years, while was in a high house in the Calle Ag

I have only enough to buy the nese, close and stuffy to-night. sauce-pans."

He entered to a hurried avanti! from "He who sleeps catches no fish," within. Rosa Marioni had once been quoted Benedetto slowly. A new idea beautiful, but her face was lined and had flown to his open mind, but con- avaricious now. trary to his creed he closed the doors “What brings thee, Benedetto?" she against it. To his uneasy subcon- asked, after a greeting. There are sciousness it seemed that he could hear two Sundays in a week when thou the persistent beating of its wings. comest hither."

“It is easy for the old to save,” Benedetto still panted from the asHashed Nicolo. “They have neither cat cent. nor child. I spent my nest-egg on "A man of weight like me cannot corals for Giulietta for the festa." mount thy stairs often, Monna Rosa.

"The more fool thou!" grunted I should say it is for the pleasure of

а

[ocr errors]

thy conversation I came here, but I am then," answered Rosa firmly. "Nothing no courtier. The saints know I am a can change my mind." modest man, and realize my limitations. "Nothing ?he queried softly. I will not linger by the doorstep, but She looked at him, hesitated, opened go straight to the well. I came to her lips as if to speak, and closed them speak to thee of the marriage of thy again. His soul sickened at the flame daughter Giulietta with

of greed which lit up her dark eyes. “With Matteo Abranti."

"Matteo used a golden argument to "Not so—with Nicolo Dalzio." persuade thee-no?"

Monna Rosa shook her head and Monna Rosa looked down at the smiled. "The clever Benedetto has fringe of her shawl and played with been misinformed," she said. "There it. “Times are hard and I am poor. is no mention of that foolish young Three hundred lire is three hundred Nicolo, Giulietta is betrothed to a lire." man of riper years

"Thou liest. I know of a truth Mat"And longer purse," put in Bene- teo only offered two hundred." detto slyly.

"And canst thou better it?" she cried, “That may well be," said Monna looking up eagerly and unashamed. Rosa, casting a shrewd glance at him. "I will give thee three hundred lire

"The girl's heart is not in it. I on the day Nicolo marries Giulietta." think she loves Nicolo."

She shook her head. “That will not "A fig for love! What has that to do. I must have it now. How do I do with it? In a year's time it is all know what would happen?" the same to a girl what husband she "Can I trust thee?" has. Why not one as well as another?” "I will swear on the crucifix-I will

“Why not, indeed, if the one be sign a paper. I will give thee what Nicolo?"

guarantee thou desirest." She guessed "Or the other Matteo."

that he must have brought the money The lamp smoked. Monna Rosa with him, and she would have promised leant over to turn it down.

anything rather than that it should All at once the room became intoler- escape her grasp. “Give it to me able to Benedetto; the mingled fumes now-now, that I may feast my eyes of oil and garlic, with which the place upon the good gold before I sleep." reeked, almost stifled him. He longed Benedetto produced a paper which to end the affair and be gone.

he had prepared. With trembling hands "Youth should go to youth," he said she brought forth a battered ink-bottle "to maturity the mature.”

and rusty pen, and signed a laborious Monna Rosa shot a sly look at him. “Rosa Marioni." Then from beneath "Art thou coming wooing on thine own his cloak Benedetto drew a gaily behalf, Benedetto ?

striped stocking filled to bulging, and He rose, alarmed, and moved back- gravely counted out the sum he had wards. Not even to save Giulietta promised. Only the little foot of the from bondage, and Nicolo from the stocking was full when he had finished. double sin of murder and suicide, could He tied a knot in it and returned it he do this thing.

to his pocket. At the door he looked "I had no thought of myself, I as- back. Monna Rosa was on her knees sure thee," he said hastily. "It is for by the table, touching, clasping, gloattwo children who love and would wed ing over the piles of money. He hastthat I plead."

ened away. “Thou carriest water to the sea, The cool night air was sweet as a

caress, but his heart was heavy. The "It is well to be a philosopher: see,
cherished dream of his life had van- my hand does not tremble,” he said to
ished. Mariana's angel had melted as himself—the slow tears of age flowing
mist before the sun. He felt twenty unheeded down his cheeks.
years older.

"I drink to thee, Mariana mia. I He touched the stocking in his drink to the only monument I can give pocket and patted it.

thee. Better a little warm human hap“It is as thou wouldst have wished, piness than the most magnificent tomb beloved, but ohimé, it was hard to bar- of cold marble. Repose to thy soul, ter thine angel to that daughter of Ju- my best beloved, and may we soon be das!" he murmured. "I will keep some together again!" for masses for my soul, and give the He drank, drained the chalice, and rest to those children to buy pots and shattered it against the counter. pans with."

Then, with a touch of prose, he swept He came to his shop. In all the the gold and crystalline fragments agitation of the evening he had for- into the Giornale which he had been gotten to put up the shutters, and the reading that morning, and went with rays of the lamp outside fell full upon them to the water's edge. the crystal chalice, touching its twisted He paused for a moment. It was gold handles to a pale radiance. There very still: no sound but the lapping of

a subdued gleam and shimmer the water at his feet; no stir but the from the shelves where the glass gob- gliding of gondolas, whose lamps lets and vases caught the light.

gleamed like yellow fireflies through He unlocked the door and entered. the velvet dusk. He shook the shirA sudden thought struck him.

ered remnants into the canal in a litWith reverent touch he took the tle sparkling shower. chalice down and placed it on the coun- A curious neighbor, passing, tapped ter; then from a fat rush-covered flagon him upon the shoulder and asked him of Chianti he poured a brimming meas- what he did. ure into it. The lamplight struck "I am burying an angel, amico," Benruby sparkles from the wine as he edetto returned, with an odd little held the cup aloft.

laugh--"an angel of glass!" The Pall Mall Magazine.

Rachel Suete Macnamara.

Was

[ocr errors]

THE NEW REIGN IN CHINA.

The great change involved in the death a more kindly temperament and a more of the puppet Emperor of China, and of calculable and less impulsive character the masterful Dowager Empress has tban the late Empress, and he is said passed off quietly, and there is every to have a certain degree of knowledge ground for the belief that neither revo- of, and liking for, the civilization of the lution nor reaction will ensue. The West. His rule, aided by the strong succession has gone back to the right- hand and able intellect of Yuan-Shihful line; and though there is another Kai, who has given abundant proofs of long regency in prospect, it is a great administrative competence and reformgain that the rule of an erratic, fierce, ing tendencies, should prevent acute and tyrannical woman should be re- outbursts of reaction and secure adplaced by that of a moderate and lib- vance at a safe, if moderate, speed. It eral man. Prince Chun is credited with is a strong point in favor of the main.

tenance of order that the valedictory of that crisis and its ultimate solution edict of the dead Emperor should have is not pleasant for Europe, but the lesratified the promise of a Constitution, son taught to the Chinese is not likely which was solemnly made in 1906, and to require repetition. At present, though fixed a date, nine years hence, for its the progress is slow, its signs, as infulfilment. On the whole, indeed, the terpreted by skilled observers like Sir existence of a regency is a gain. Gov- Robert Hart, seem to indicate that it is ernment by a strong and enlightened sure. The provinces are gradually subruler has its merits, especially in tbe mitting to greater centralization, and East. But it is impracticable in the there is even a central army. The case of an alien dynasty ruling over a Chinese Government has made sincere country of vast size, with 430,000,000 and honest efforts to get rid of opiumsubjects exhibiting wide differences in smoking, not merely, as was formerly character, in intelligence, and in speech. suspected, to protect native industry by Government by a syndicate, especially preventing the importation of the drug. when some of the members are con- The people has overcome its superstispicuously intelligent and progressive, tious objections to railways, and the is infinitely better than Government younger members of its better classes by a secluded autocrat and reputed are eager to hasten progress at home, demigod, exposed not only to the con- while seeking the new learning in tending influences or rival courtiers, Japan, America and Europe. Much but to the corruptions of the Palace life can be done to help the intellectual of the East. As things are, there is transition, both by the European miseven a prospect that the Palace may be sionaries and by foreign assistance of purged of its worst elements, and that a more secular kind; and the proposed the millions of treasure stored in it University at Hongkong may yet be for may come into fruitful employment; a re-generated China what Robert Colthe reactionaries are quieted by the lege at Constantinople has been to the formal sanction given, in the most orth- adolescence of Bulgaria. Ten years ago odox and forcible manner, to the new it was commonly believed that China spirit, and to its outcome in practical would be gradually partitioned among reform; and the

nationalism, the European Powers and the United which is now not hostile to Western States. That danger is now past; and ideas, but slowly assimilating them, so is the danger of the exploitation of seems likely to act merely as a need- the country and the people, even by ful brake.

Russia or Japan. Since the war with Japan, China has It is true that the progress, being been in transition, and has gradually strictly on Ohinese lines, occasionally progressed towards the acceptance of takes curious forms. Attention has Western ideas. Unexpected zeal has been called in these columns to the been shown for European science and “rights recovery policy" applied for learning; and if they have been sought the last three years to railway and minin too narrow a spirit-for their practi- ing concessions, and to the doubts encal value rather than for their service tertained whether the Chinese are yet as mental discipline, they have not yet competent to carry out and manage the made for revolution, as in Egypt, or for schemes. They have got back all the disintegration and reaction together, as more recent concessions, and there are seems to be their effect in India. Nor, occasional indications that they are since the Boxer episode, have they pro- trying to oust, or to overbear, foreign voked acute resistance. The memory management, both on some of the ear

new

reverse

reverses

lier railways and in the Customs serv- and we think investors are justified in ice. The whole recent railway policy their confidence in Chinese good faith. of China is to dissociate the capital bor- The two dangers on the horizon are rowed for the newer undertakings trouble with foreigners and internal from control of their management. The revolution. The spirit manifested in latest railway loans are not secured on the "rights recovery” movement may the railway itself, but on the provincial conceivably lead to trouble with the revenues. Chinese ways, like those owners of the French or German railof the Egyptians as described by ways, conceded before that movement Herodotus, are usually the

began; and both Governments, espeof those of other nations; and cially that of Germany, are rather too this railway policy just

fond of connecting trade with "the that of several Spanish-American flag.” There may be difficulties on the States, where the national debt, or part Franco-Chinese frontier, or suspicions, of it, has been converted into a definite like those which led to the seizure last charge on a particular railway or on a spring of the Tatsu Maru, that revoluState monopoly under foreign manage- tionists are being aided from Tongking ment, thereby affording a much better or Japan; and, with China as loosely security than the promise of an unsta- organized as at present, local disorders ble Government. Still, Chinese ethics, are at least as likely as in South though peculiar in some respects, are America. A still graver danger is that exceptionally stringent in all matters of anti-dynastic movement of of commercial obligation; the Chinese which there is an ominous sign in the commercial instinct is highly devel- protest against Manchu rule just made oped, and the national pride is acute. by the Chinese community in Burma. So far as investors are concerned, The Manchu element in the new centherefore, the “rights recovery policy" tral army is small, and its percentage need not cause serious apprehension. in the population trifling. But the best Jealousy of foreign enterprise is com- security against such an upheaval lies mon in most countries, and even in in the sound government promised by Central Europe British undertakings the new régime. Should it come, there have been bought out and transferred is not that prospect of Russian or Japto native hands. China presents anese interference that existed nine boundless field for European capital, years ago.

The Economist.

an

а

THE NEW DEFINITION OF NAVAL POWER.

The Prime Minister will not, we two next strongest naval Powers. Mr. think, complain that a large body of Asquith replied in the affirmative. The Liberal members of Parliament should meaning which Mr. Lee attached to his ask him to explain the reasons of the formula is not open to question. In theory of naval strength to which he the debate in March last on Mr. Murappears to have committed himself in ray Macdonald's motion, he insisted his reply to Mr. Arthur Lee. Mr. Lee, that our shipbuilding must have regard it will be remembered, asked the Gov- simply to the material strength of ernment whether it accepted the two other Powers on the ground that "every Power standard as meaning our pre- Power, however friendly for the moponderance in capital ships over the ment, must be reckoned as a potential

« ZurückWeiter »