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best counsels were to be had from the Yorkshire jockey, and not from the decorated and cordoned throng who filled the anti-chambers.
To elevate the groom to the rank of personal attendant; to create him a Chevalier and then a Count, were all easy steps to such a Prince. At the time we speak of, Stubber was chief of the cabinet-the trusted adviser of his master in the knottiest questions of foreign politics-the arbiter of the most difficult questions with other states, the highest authority in home affairs, and the absolute ruler over the Duke's household, and all who belonged to it. He was one of those men of action who speedily distinguish themselves wherever the game of life is being played; smart to discern the character of those around him-prompt to avail himself of their knowledge-little hampered by the scruples which conventionalities impose on men bred in a higher station-he generally attained his object before others had arranged their plans to oppose him. To these qualities he added a rugged, unflinching honesty, and a loyal attachment to the person of his Prince. Strong in his own conscious rectitude, and in the confiding regard of his sovereign, Stubber stood alone against all the wiles and machinations of his formidable rivals.
Were we giving a history of this curious court and its intrigues, we could relate some strange stories of the mechanism by which states are ruled. We have, however, no other business with the subject than as it enters into the domain of our own story, and to this we return.
It was a calm evening of the early autumn, as the prince, accompanied by Stubber alone, and unattended by even a groom, rode along one of the alleys of the olive wood which skirts the sea shore beneath Massa. His Highness was unusually moody and thoughtful, and as he sauntered carelessly along, seemed scarcely to notice the objects about him.
"What month are we in, Stubber?” asked he at length.
September, Altezza," was the short reply.
"Per Bacco! so it is, and in this very month we were to have been in Bohemia with the Arch-duke Stephen
the best shooting in all Europe and
the largest stock of pheasants in the whole world perhaps; and I, that love field sports as no man ever loved them! Eh, Stubber ?" and he turned abruptly around to seek a confirmation of what he asserted. Either Stubber did not fully agree in the judgment, or did not deem it necessary to record his concurrence, but the prince was obliged to reiterate his statement, adding, “I might say, indeed, it is the one solitary dissipation I have ever permitted myself."
Now this was a stereotyped phrase of his highness, and employed by him respecting music, literature, field sports, picture-buying, equipage, play, and a number of other pursuits not quite so pardonable, in each of which, for the time, his zeal would seem to be exclusive.
A scarcely audible ejaculation, a something like a grunt from Stubber, was the only assent to this proposition.
"And here I am," added the prince testily, "the only man of my rank in Europe perhaps, without society, amusement, or pleasure, condemned to the wearisome details of a petty administration, and actually a slaveyes, sir-I say, a slave. What the deuce is this? My horse is sinking above his pasterns. Where are we, Stubber?" and with a vigorous dash of the spurs he extricated himself from the deep ground.
"I often told your highness that these lands were ruined for want of drainage. You may remark how poor the trees are along here; the fruit, too, is all deteriorated-all for want of a little skill and industry; and if your highness remarked the appearance of the people in that village, every second man has the ague on him."
"He has money enough to build a new wing to his chateau in Senarizza, and to give fifty thousand scudi of fortune to his daughter, though he can't afford your Highness the common necessaries of your station."
"Per Bacco! Billy, you are right; you must look into these accounts yourself. They always confuse me."
"I have looked into them, and your Highness shall have two hundred thousand francs to-morrow on your dressing table, and as much more within the week.”
"Well done, Billy; you are the only fellow who can unmask these rogueries. If I had only had you with me long ago! Well! well! well! it is too late to think of now. What shall we do with this money? Bohemia is out of the question now. Shall we rebuild the San Felice? It is really too small; the stage is crowded with twenty people on it. There's that gate towards Carrara-when is it to be completed?--there's a figure wanted for the centre pedestal. As for the fountain, it must be done by the municipality. It is essentially the interest of the townspeople. You'd advise me to spend the money in draining these low lands, or in a grant to that new company for a pier at Marino; but I'll not; I have other thoughts in my head. Why should not this be the centre of art to the whole Peninsula? Carrara is a city of sculptors. Why not concentrate their efforts here-by a gallery? I have myself some glorious things-the best group Canova ever modelled-the original Ariadne, too-far finer than the thing people go to see at Frankfort. Then there's Tanderini's Shepherd with the Goats. Who lives yonder, Stubber? What a beautiful garden it is!" And he drew up short in front of a villa, whose grounds were terraced in a succession of gardens, down to the very margin of the sea. Plants and shrubs of other climates were mingled with those familiar to Italy, making up a picture of singular beauty, by diversity of colour and foliage. "Isn't this the 'Ombretta,' Stubber?"
Yes, Altezza; but the Morelli have left it. It is set now to a stranger-a French lady. Some call her English, I believe.
"To be sure; I remember. There was a demand about a formal perun'ssion to reside here. Landetti
advised me not to sign it-that she might turn out English, or have some claim upon England, which was quite equivalent to placing the Duchy, and all within it, under that blessed thing they call British protection."
"There are worse things than even that," muttered Stubber.
"British occupation perhaps you mean; well, you may be right. At all events, I did not take Landetti's advice, for I gave the permission, and I have never heard more of her. She must be rich, I take it. See what order this place is kept in; that conservatory is very large indeed, and the orange trees are finer than ours."
"They seem very fine, indeed,” said Stubber.
"I say, sir, that we have none such at the Palace. I'll wager a zecchino they have come from Naples; and look at that magnolia. I tell you, Stubber, this garden is very far superior to ours.'
"Your Highness has not been in the Palace gardens lately, perhaps. I was there this morning, and they are really in admirable order."
"I'll have a peep inside of these grounds, Stubber," said the Duke, who, no longer attentive to the other, only followed out his own train of thought. At the same instant he dismounted, and without giving himself any trouble about his horse, made straight for a small wicket which lay invitingly open in front of him. The narrow skirting of copse passed, the Duke at once found himself in the midst of a lovely garden, laid out with consummate skill and taste, and offering at intervals the most beautiful views of the surrounding scenery. Although much of what he beheld around him was the work of many years, there were abundant traces of innovation and improvement. Some of the statues were recently placed, and a small temple of Grecian architecture seemed to have been just restored. A heavy curtain hung across the doorway; drawing back which, the Duke entered what he at once perceived to be a sculptor's studio. Casts and models lay carelessly about, and a newly begun group stood enshrouded in the wetted drapery with which artists clothe their unfinished labors. No mean artist himself, the Duke examined critically the figures before him, nor was he long
in perceiving that the artist had committed more than one fault in drawing and proportion. "This is amateur work," said he to himself, "and yet not without cleverness and a touch of genius too. Your dillettante scorns anatomy, and will not submit to drudgery; hence, here are muscles incorrectly developed, and their action ill expressed." So saying, he sat down before the model, and taking up one of the tools at his side, began to correct some of the errors in the work. It was exactly the kind of task for which his skill adapted him. Too impatient and too discursive to accomplish anything of his own, he was admirably fitted to correct the faults of another, and so he worked away vigorously-totally forgetting where he was, how he had come there, and as utterly oblivious of Stubber whom he had left without. Growing more and more interested as he proceeded, he arose at length to take a better view of what he had done, and standing some distance off, exclaimed aloud, "Per Bacco! I have made a good thing of it-there's life in it now."
"So indeed is there," cried a gentle voice behind him, and turning he beheld a young and very beautiful girl, whose dress was covered by the loose blouze of a sculptor. "How I thank you for this!" said she, blushing deeply as she curtsied before him. "I have had no teaching-and never till this moment knew how much I needed it."
mand. "I am but a very indifferent artist. I have studied a little, it is true; but other pursuits and idleness have swept away the small knowledge I once possessed, and left me, as to art, pretty much as I am in morals-that is, I know what is right, but very often I can't accomplish it."
"And this is your work, then ?" said the Duke, who turned again towards the model. "Well, there is promise in it. There is even more. Still you have hard labour before you, if you would be really an artist. There is a grammar in these things, and he who would speak the tongue must get over the declensions. I know but little myself"
"Oh do not say so," cried she, eagerly; "I feel that I am in a master's presence."
The Duke started, partly struck by the energy of her manner; in part by the words themselves. It is often difficult for men in his station to believe that they are not known and recognized, and so he stood wondering at her, and thinking who she could be that did not know him to be the prince. "You mistake me," said he gently, and with that dignity which is the birthright of those born to com
No," said he, laughing pleasantly; "I follow a more precarious trade, nor can I mould the clay I work in, so deftly."
"At least you love art," said she, with an enthusiasm heightened by the changes he had effected in her group. "Now it is my turn to question, Signorina," said he, gaily." Why, with a talent like yours, have you not given yourself to regular study? You live in a land where instruction should not be difficult to obtain. Carrara is one vast studio; there must be many there who would not alone be willing, but even proud to have such a pupil. Have you never thought of this?
"I have thought of it," said she, pensively, "but my aunt, with whom I live, desires to see no one, to know no one-even now," added she, blushing deeply, "I find myself conversing with an utter stranger, in a waystopped, overwhelmed with confusion, and he finished her sentence for her.
"In a way which shows how naturally a love of art establishes a confidence between those who possess it." As he spoke, the curtain was drawn back, and a lady entered, who, though several years older, bore such a likeness to the young girl that she might readily have been taken for her sister.
"It is at length time I should make my excuses for this intrusion, madame," said he, turning towards her, and then in a few words explained how the accidental passing by the spot and the temptation of the open wicket had led him to a trespass, "which," added he, smiling, "I can only say, I shall be charmed if you will condescend to retaliate. I, too, have some objects of art, and gardens
which are thought worthy of a visit."
"We live here, sir, apart from the world. It is for that reason we have selected this residence," replied she, coldly.
"I shall respect your seclusion, madame," answered he, with a deep bow, "and only beg once more to tender my sincere apologies for the past. He moved towards the door as he spoke, the ladies curtsied deeply, and with a still lowlier reverence he passed out.
The Duke lingered in the garden, as though unwilling to leave the spot. For a while some doubt as to whether he had been recognised passed through his mind, but he soon satisfied himself that such was not the case, and the singularity of the situation amused him.
"I am culling a souvenir, madame," said he, plucking a moss-rose as the lady passed.
I will give you a better one, sir," said she, detaching one from her bouquet, and handing it to him,-and so they parted.
"Per Bacco! Stubber, I have seen two very charming women. They are evidently persons of condition; find out all about them, and let me hear it to-morrow;"--and so saying, his Highness rode away, thinking pleasantly over his adventure, and fancying a hundred ways in which it might be amusingly carried out. The life of princes is rarely fertile in surprises; perhaps, therefore, the uncommon and the unusual are the pleasantest of all their sensations.
STUBBER knew his master well. There was no need for any perquisitions on his part; the ladies, the studio, and the garden were totally forgotten ere nightfall. Some rather alarming intelligence had arrived from Carrara, which had quite obliterated every memory of his late adventure. That little town of artists had long been the resort of an excited class of politicians, and it was more than rumoured that the "Carbonari," had established there a lodge of their order. Inflammatory placards had been posted through the town-violent denunciations of the government vengeance, even on the head of the sovereign, openly proclaimed, and a speedy day promised when the wrongs of an enslaved people should be avenged in blood. The messenger who brought the alarming tidings to Massa carried with him many of the inflammatory documents, as well as several knives and poinards, discovered by the activity of the police in a ruined building at the sea shore. No arrests had as yet been made, but the authorities were in possession of information with regard to various suspicious characters, and the police prepared to act at a moment's notice.
It was an hour after midnight when the council met, and the Duke sat pale, agitated, and terrified at the table, with Landetti, the prime min
ister, Capreni, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and General Ferrucio, the War Minister,-a venerable ecclesiastic, Monsignore Abbati, occupying the lowest place in virtue of his humble station, as confessor of his Highness. He who of all others enjoyed his master's confidence, and whose ready intelligence was most needed in the emergency, was not present; his title of Minister of the Household not qualifying him for a place at the council.
Whatever the result, the deliberation was a long one. Even while it continued, there was time to despatch a courier to Carrara, and receive the answer he brought back; and when the Duke returned to his room, it was already far advanced in the morning. Fatigued and harassed, he dismissed his valet at once, and desired that Stubber might attend him. When he arrived, however, his Highness had fallen off asleep, and lay, dressed as he was, on his bed.
Stubber sat noiselessly beside his master, his mind deeply pondering over the events which, although he had not been present at the council, had all been related to him. It was not the first time he had heard of that formidable conspiracy, which, under the title of the Carbonari, had established themselves in every corner of Europe.
In the days of his humbler fortune
he had known several of them intimately; he had been often solicited to join their band; but while steadily refusing this, he had detected much which to his keen intelligence savored of treachery to the cause amongst them. This cause was necessarily recruited from those whose lives rejected all honest and patient labor. They were the disappointed men of every station, from the highest to the lowest. The ruined gentleman--the beggared noble-the bankrupt trader -the houseless artizan--the homeless vagabond, were all there; bold, daring and energetic, fearless as to the present, reckless as to the future. They sought for any change, no matter what, seeing that in the convulsion their own condition must be bettered. Few troubled their heads how these changes were to be accomplished-they cared little for the real grievances they assumed to redress their work was demolition. It was to the hour of pillage alone they looked for the recompense of their hardhihood. Some, unquestionably, took a different view of the agencies and the objects; dreamy speculative men, with high aspirations, hoped that the cruel wrongs which tyranny inflicted on many a European state might be effectually curbed by a glorious freedom-when each man's actions should be made conformable to the benefit of the community, and the will of all be typified in the conduct of each. There was, however, another class, and to these Stubber had given deep attention. It was a party whose singular activity and energy were always in the ascendant-ever suggesting bold measures whose results could scarcely be more than menaces, and advocating actions whose greatest effect could not rise above acts of terror and dismay. And thus while the leaders plotted great political convulsions, and the masses dreamed of sack and pillage, these latter dealt in acts of suicidal assassination---the vengeance of the poinard and the poison cup. These were the men Stubber had studied with no common attention. He fancied he saw in them neither the dupes of their own excited imaginations, nor the reckless followers of rapine, but an order of men equal to the former by intelligence, but far transcending the last in
crime and infamy. In his own early experiences he had perceived that more than one of these had expatriated themselves suddenly, carrying away to foreign shores considerable wealth, and that, too, under circumstances where the acquisition of property seemed scarcely possible. Others, he had seen, as suddenly throwing off their political associates, run into stations of rank and power; and one memorable case he knew, where the individual had become the chief adviser of the very state whose destruction he had sworn to accomplish. Such a one he now fancied he had detected among the advisers of his Prince, and, deeply ruminating on this theme, he sat at the bed-side.
"Is it a dream, Stubber, or have we really heard bad news from Carrara? Has Fraschetti been stabbed, or not?
Yes, your Highness, he has been stabbed, exactly two inches below where he was wounded in September last-then it was his pocket-book saved him; now it was your Highness's picture, which, like a faithful follower, he always carried about him. "Which means, that you disbelieve the whole story."
'Every word of it."
"And the poinards found at the Bocca de Magni ?"
Found by those who placed them there."
"And the proclamations?"
Blundering devices. See, here is one of them, printed on the very paper supplied to the Government offices. There's the water mark, with the crown and your own cypher on it." "Per Bacco ! so it is. Let me show this to Landetti."