Page:The Coming Race, etc - 1888.djvu/355
in a few minutes neither houses nor men were visible, and the moun- tains closed their path on either side. It was then that, releasing the bridle and slackening his pace, the guide turned his dark eyes on Glyndon with an arch expression, and said
" Your Excellency was not, perhaps, prepared for the hearty welcome we have given you."
" Why, in truth, I ought to have been prepared for it, since my friend, to whose house I am bound, did not disguise from me the character of the neighbourhood. And your name, my friend, if I may call you so ? "
"Oh, no ceremonies with me, Excellency. In the village I am generally called Maestro Paulo. I had a surname once, though a very equivocal one and I have forgotten that since I retired from the world."
"And was it from disgust, from poverty, or from some some ebullition of passion which entailed punishment that you betook yourself to the mountains?"
"Why, signer," said the bravo, with a gay laugh, "hermits of my class seldom love the confessional. However, I have no secrets while my step is in these defiles, my whistle in my pouch, and my carbine at my back." With that the robber, as if he loved per- mission to talk at his will, hemmed thrice, and began with much humour ; though, as his tale proceeded, the memories it roused seemed to carry him farther than he at first intended, and reckless and light-hearted ease gave way to that fierce and varied play of countenance and passion of gesture which characterize the emotions of his countrymen.
" I was born at Terracina a fair spot, is it not ? My father was a learned monk, of high birth ; my mother Heaven rest her ! an innkeeper's pretty daughter. Of course there was no marriage in the case ; and when I was born, the monk gravely declared my appearance to be miraculous. I was dedicated from my cradle to the altar and my head was universally declared to be the orthodox shape for a cowl. As I grew up, the monk took great pains with my education, and I learned Latin and psalmody as soon as less miraculous infants learn crowing. Nor did the holy man's care stint itself to my interior accomplishments. Although vowed to poverty, he always contrived that my mother should have her pockets full ; and, between her pockets and mine, there was soon established a clandestine communication ; accordingly, at fourteen, I wore my cap on one side, stuck pistols in my belt, and assumed the swagger of a cavalier and a gallant. At that age my poor mother died ; and about the same period, my father, having written