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The amulet

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Title:TheAmulet
Author:HendrikConscience
ReleaseDate:October22,2004[EBook#13835]
Language:English
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THEAMULET.
BYHENDRIKCONSCIENCE,
AUTHOROF"THECURSEOFTHEVILLAGE,""THEHAPPINESSOFBEINGRICH,"
"VEVA,""THELIONOFFLANDERS,""COUNTHUGOOFCRAENHOVE,""WOODEN
CLARA,""THEPOORGENTLEMAN,""RICKETICKETACK,""THEDEMONOFGOLD,"
"THEVILLAGEINN-KEEPER,""THECONSCRIPT,""BLINDROSA,""THEMISER,""THE

FISHERMAN'SDAUGHTER,"ETC.

TranslatedExpresslyforthisEdition.

TRANSLATOR'SPREFACE.
Inthe"Amulet,"HendrickConsciencehasworkedupanincidentwhich
occurredatAntwerp,inthe16thcentury,intoastoryofgreatpoweranddeep
interest.Itwasadarkandbloodydeedcommitted,butswiftandterriblewasthe
retribution,strikinglyillustratinghowGodlaughsthesinnertoscorn,andhow
themostcunninglydevisedschemesarefrustrated,whenHepermitsthelightof
Hisavengingjusticetoexposethemintheirenormity.Onthecontrary,it
forciblyprovesthatvirtuousactions,soonerorlater,bearabundantfruitevenin
thisworld.Ifaman'ssinsbringuponhisheadaweightofwoe,sodohisgood
deedsdrawdownthebenedictionsofheavenandserveasashieldtoprotecthim
fromhisenemies.
S.J.F.


Baltimore.


CONTENTS.
CHAPTERI.PAGEANTWERP9
CHAPTERII.SIGNORDEODATI30
CHAPTERIII.THEPALACEOFSIMONTURCHI,ANDWHATOCCURREDTHERE43
CHAPTERIV.THEATTEMPTEDASSASSINATION—THEASSASSINATORSLAIN64
CHAPTERV.VANDEWERVE'SRECEPTION—SIMONTURCHI'SJEALOUSYANDHATRED
79
CHAPTERVI.SIMONTURCHIWREAKSHISVENGEANCEONGERONIMO96
CHAPTERVII.GRIEFATGERONIMO'SABSENCE—TURCHI'SHYPOCRISY112
CHAPTERVIII.SIMONTURCHITRIESTOCONCEALHISCRIME128
CHAPTERIX.GERONIMORESURRECTED143
CHAPTERX.SIMONTURCHI'SALARM—CRIMEBEGETSCRIME157
CHAPTERXI.FOODATLAST—DEATHOFJULIO171
CHAPTERXII.ISITHISGHOST?—THEGUILTYEXPOSED180
CHAPTERXIII.MARYVANDEWERVE'S(NOWMADAMEGERONIMODEODATI)
DEPARTUREFORITALY—THEPUNISHMENTOFSIMONTURCHI193


THEAMULET.


CHAPTERI.

Previoustothecloseofthefifteenthcentury,thedirectiontakenbyEuropean
commerceremainedunchanged.Americahadnotbeendiscovered,andtheonly
knownroutetoIndiawasbyland.
Venice,enthronedbyhercentralpositionasqueenofcommerce,compelledthe
nationsofEuropeandAsiatoconveytoherportalltherichesoftheworld.
Onesinglecity,BrugesinFlanders,servingasaninternationalmartforthe
peopleoftheNorthandSouth,shared,insomemeasure,thecommercial
prosperityofVenice;butpopularinsurrectionsandcontinualcivilwarshad
inducedalargenumberofforeignmerchantstopreferBrabanttoFlanders,and
AntwerpwasbecomingapowerfulrivaltoBruges.
Atthisperiodtwogreateventsoccurred,bywhichanewchannelwasopenedto
trade:ChristopherColumbusdiscoveredAmerica,andVascodeGama,by
doublingtheCapeofGoodHope,pointedoutanewroutetoIndia.Thislatter
discovery,bypresentinganothergrandhighwaytotheworld,deprivedVeniceof
thepeculiaradvantagesofhersituation,andobligedcommercetoseekanew
emporium.PortugalandSpainwerethemostpowerfulnationsonsea;countless
shipslefttheirportsforthetwoIndies,andbroughtbackspices,pearls,andthe
preciousmetalsfordistributionthroughouttheOldWorld.Thiscommercial
activityrequiredanemporiuminthecentreofEurope,halfwaybetweenthe
NorthandtheSouth,whitherSpaniards,Portuguese,andItalians,aswellas
French,English,Germans,Swedes,andRussians,couldresortwithequal
facilityastoaperpetualmartforallthecommoditiesexchangedbetweenthe
OldandtheNewWorld.[1]
Afewyearsbeforethecommencementofthereligiouswarswhichprovedso


disastroustothecountry,Antwerpwasinamostflourishingcondition.
Thousandsofshipsofeveryformandsizecovereditsbroadriverlikeaforestof
masts,whosemany-coloredflagsindicatedthepresenceoftradersfromallthe
commercialnationsoftheglobe.
PortuguesegallionscarriedthitherthegemsandspicesoftheEast;Spanish
gallionsthegoldandsilverofAmerica;Italianvesselswereladenwiththe
delicatefruitsandrichstuffsoftheSoutherncountries;Germanvesselswith
grainsandmetals;andallreturnedtotheirowncountriesheavilyfreightedwith
othermerchandise,andmadewayfortheshipswhichwerecontinuallyarriving,
andwhich,accordingtocontemporarychronicles,wereoftenobligedtowaitsix
weeksbeforetheysucceededinapproachingthewharf.[2]
Smallcraft,suchashers,ascendedtheScheldt,andevenventuredouttoseain
ordertotradewiththeneighboringpeople.Transportationintotheinteriorofthe
countrywaseffectedbymeansofverystrongwagons,severalhundredofwhich
dailyleftAntwerp.Theheavyvehicleswhichconveyedmerchandisethrough
ColognetotheheartofGermanywerecalledHessenwagens.[3]
Thisextraordinaryactivityinducedmanyforeignerstoestablishthemselvesina
citywheregoldwassoabundant,andwhereeveryonemightreasonablyhope
forlargeprofits.
Attheperiodofwhichwespeak,Antwerpcountedamongitsinhabitantsnearly
athousandmerchantsfromothercountries,eachofwhomhadhisown
attendants;onechronicleestimates,perhapswithsomeexaggeration,thenumber
ofstrangersengagedincommerceatfivethousand.[4]
TwiceadaythesemerchantsmetonChange,notonlyforpurposesoftradeand
forinformationofthearrivalofships,butprincipallyforbankingoperations.
Toconveyanideaoftheamountofwealthatthedisposalofthehousesof
Antwerp,itsufficestosaythatthekingofPortugalobtainedinoneday
inthiscityaloanofthreemillionsofgoldcrowns,andQueenMaryof
Englandcontractedadebtofseventymillionsoffrancs.
Onemerchant,calledtherichFugger,leftathisdeathlegaciesamountingto
nearlysixmillionsofgoldcrowns,asumwhichforthatperiodwouldseem
fabulous,ifthefactwerenotestablishedbyindisputabledocuments.


Thiswealthandthepresenceofsomanynationsvyingwitheachotherhad
carriedluxurytosuchaheightthatmagistrateswerefrequentlyobligedto
publishedicts,inordertorestrainthelavishexpenditure.Thiswasnotdoneon
accountoftheforeigninhabitantsoftheplace,butfortheadvantageofmany
noblefamiliesandthepeopleofthemiddleclasses,whoweretemptedbythe
exampleofotherstoadisplayofmagnificencewhichmighthaveseriously
injuredtheirfortunes.
ThegreaterpartoftheItalianmerchantsfromLucca,Genoa,Florence,andother
citiesbeyondtheAlps,werenoblemen,andfromthiscircumstancetheywere
thrownintointimateintercoursewiththenoblefamiliesofAntwerp,allofwhom
spokefluentlythreeorfourlanguages,andwhoparticularlystudiedtospeak
withpurityandelegancethesoftItalianidiom.[5]
IntheHipdorp,notfarfromtheChurchofSt.James,stoodanelegantmansion,
whichwasthefavoriteresortoftheélitéoftheItalianmerchants.Itwasthe
residenceofWilliamVandeWerve,lordofSchilde.
Althoughthisnoblemandidnothimselfengageinmercantiletransactions,
becausethearistocraticfamiliesofBrabantregardedcommerceasanoccupation
unsuitabletopersonsofhighbirth,[6]hewasverycordialandhospitabletoall
strangerswhoserankentitledthemtoadmissiontohishomecircle.Moreover,he
wasextremelywealthy,luxuriousinhismannerofliving,andsowellversedin
threeorfourdifferentlanguages,thathecouldwitheaseenterintoanagreeable
andusefulconversationineitherofthem.
ThehouseofMr.VandeWervehadstillotherattractionstonobleforeigners.He
hadadaughterofextraordinarybeauty,solovely,somodest,notwithstandingthe
homageofferedtohercharms,thatheradmirershadsurnamedherlabionda
maraviglia,"thewonderfulblonde."
Onemorningintheyear1550thebeautifulMaryVandeWervewasseatedin
herfather'shouseinarichlysculpturedarm-chair.Theyounggirlhadapparently
justreturnedfromchurch,asshestillheldinherhandarosaryofprecious
stones,andherhoodlayonachairnearher.Sheseemedtobeengrossedby
somepleasingthoughtwhichfilledherheartwithasweetanticipation,fora
slightsmilepartedherlips,andhereyeswereupraisedtoheavenasifimploring
afavorfromAlmightyGod.


AgainstthewallbehindherhungapicturefromthepencilofJohnVanEyck,in
whichthegreatmasterhadrepresentedtheVirgininprayer,whilstshewasstill
ignorantofthesublimedestinythatawaitedher.
Theartisthadlavisheduponthismasterpiecethemostardentinspirationsofhis
piousandpoeticgenius,fortheimageseemedtoliveandthink.Itcharmedby
thebeautyoffeature,themajesticcalmofexpression,thesweetnessofthe
smile,thelookfulloflovecastfromearthtoheaven.
Therewasastrikingresemblancebetweenthecreationoftheartistandthe
younggirlseatedbeneathinalmostthesameattitude.Intruth,theyouthfulMary
VandeWervewasasbeautifulasthepoeticalrepresentationofherpatroness.
Shehadthesamelargeblueeyes,whoseexpression,althoughcalmand
thoughtful,revealedakeensensibilityandatender,lovingsoul;hergoldenhair
fellinringletsoverabrowofmarblewhiteness,andnopainterhadevertraceda
cheekofloveliermouldormoredelicatehue;herwholebeingexpressedthat
calmrecollectionandattractivegravitywhichisthetruepoetryoftheimmaterial
soul,andwhichwascomprehendedonlybythebelievingartistsoftheNorth
beforethematerialinspirationofpaganarthadbeentransmittedtothemfrom
theSouth.
MaryVandeWervewasmostrichlyattired;buttherewasinherdressan
absenceofornamentwhichappearedstrangeatthatperiodofextremepompand
show.Awaistofsky-bluevelvetencircledherslenderform,andabrocadeskirt
fellinlargefoldstoherfeet.Onlyonheropensleevesappearedsomegold
thread,andtheclaspwhichfastenedthechamois-skinpursesuspendedfromher
girdlewasencrustedwithpreciousstones.
Allhersurroundingsbetokenedherfather'sopulence:largestained-glass
windows,coveredwiththearmorialbearingsofhisancestors,casttheirvaried
huesupontheinlaidmarblefloor;tablesandchairsofoak,slabssupporting
exquisitestatuaryfromthechiselofthemostcelebratedartists,wereranged
alongthewalls;anivorycrucifixsurmountedasilverbasinofrareworkmanship
containingholywater.Eventhemassiveandirons,whichstoodinthebroad
fireplace,werepartlyofgoldandornamentedwiththecoatofarms.
Herprayerwasfinished,oritmightbethatherthoughtshadtakenanotherturn;
shearoseandwalkedslowlytowardsthelargewindowwhichoverlookedthe
garden.Shefixedhereyesuponthebeautifulbluesky;hercountenancewas


bright,asthoughasweethopefilledherheart,andarosyhuesuffusedher
cheeks.
Anoldmanatthismomententeredtheroom.Heavymoustachesshadedhislips,
andalongbeardfelluponhisbreast.Therewassomethinggraveandseverein
hisimposingappearanceandeveninhisdress;foralthoughhisdoubletwasof
goldcloth,hiswholebodywasenvelopedinalongcloak,whosedarkcolorwas
relievedbyaliningofwhitefur.
"Goodmorning,Mary,"hesaid,asheapproachedtheyounggirl.
"MaytheblessingofGodalwaysbewithyou,dearfather,"shereplied.
"Come,seehowlovelytheskyis,andhowbrightlythesunshines."
"Itischarmingweather;wemightalmostimagineourselvesinthemonthof
May."
"ItistheeveofMay,father."Andwithajoyoussmileshedrewherfathertothe
window,andpointingtothesky,said:"Thewindhaschanged;itblowsfromthe
directionofEngland."
"True;sinceyesterdayithasbeensouth-east."
"Somuchthebetter;theshipswhichhavebeenkeptoutatseacanascendthe
Scheldtwithto-day'sorto-morrow'stide."
"Andyouhope,"saidMr.VandeWerve,shakinghishead,"thatamongthese
vesselswillbefoundtheIlSalvatore,whichistobringtheoldSignorDeodati
fromLucca?"
"Ihavesolongimploredofheaventhisfavorablewind,"repliedtheyounggirl.
"IthanktheGodofmercythatmyprayerhasbeenheard!"
Mr.VandeWervewassilent;hisdaughter'swordshadevidentlymadea
disagreeableimpressionuponhim.
Shepassedherarmcaressinglyaroundhisneck,andsaid:
"Dearfather,youaresorrowful;andyetyoupromisedmetoawaittranquillythe
arrivalofSignorDeodati."


"Itistrue,mychild,"hereplied;"but,asthetimeapproacheswhenImustcome
toadecision,mysoulisfilledwithanxiety.Wearethedescendantsofan
illustriousfamily,andourstyleoflivingshouldbesomagnificentastoreflect
creditonourrank.TheSignorGeronimo,whomyouseemtoprefertoallothers,
livesveryeconomically;hedressessimply,andabstainsfromallthatkindof
expenditurewhich,beinganevidenceofwealthandchivalricgenerosity,
elevatesamanintheeyesoftheworld.Thatmakesmefearthathisuncleis
eitherinmoderatecircumstancesorveryavaricious."
"But,father,permitmetosaythattheSignorDeodatiofLuccaisveryrichand
ofhighbirth,"repliedtheyounggirl,sadly."DidnotthebankerMarcoRiccardi
giveyousatisfactoryinformationonthatpoint?"
"Andshouldhebemiserly,Mary,willheaccepttheconditionsIpropose?Ishall
demandofhimtherenunciationofaconsiderableportionofhispossessionsin
favorofhisnephewGeronimo.Woulditnotbeaninsulttoyou,whichyour
brotherswouldavenge,wereyourhandtoberefusedfrompecuniarymotives?I
regretthatyouhavesoirrevocablyfixedyouraffectionsontheSignor
Geronimo,whenyoumighthavechosenamongahundredothersricherandof
higherestate.TheheadofthepowerfulhouseofBuonvisihadmoreclaimupon
mysympathyandyours."
"SimonTurchi!"saidtheyounggirl,sorrowfullybowingherhead.
"WhathasthispoorSignorTurchileftundoneduringthepastthreeyearsto
provehischivalriclove?"repliedherfather."Festivals,banquets,concerts,
boatingontheScheldt,nothinghasbeenspared;hehasexpendedafortuneto
pleaseyou.Atonetimeyoudidnotdislikehim;buteversincethefatalnight
whenhewasattackedbyunknownassassinsandwoundedintheface,youlook
uponhimwithdifferenteyes.InsteadofbeinggratefultothegoodTurchi,you
comportyourselfinsuchamannertowardshim,thatIaminducedtobelieve
thatyouhatehim."
"HatetheSignorTurchi!"exclaimedMary,asiffrightenedbytheaccusation.
"Dearfather,donotindulgesuchathought."
"Heisahandsome,dignifiedgentleman,mychild."
"Yes,father;hehaslongbeenanintimatefriendoftheSignor
Geronimo."[7]


Mr.VandeWervetookhisdaughter'shand,andsaid,gently:"Geronimomaybe
finer-lookingtoawoman'seye;buthisfuturedependsuponhisuncle'skindness.
Heisyoungandinexperienced,andhepossessesnothinghimself.TheSignor
Turchi,onthecontrary,isrichandhighlyesteemedintheworldaspartnerand
administratorofthewell-knownhouseofBuonvisi.Thinkbetterofyourchoice,
Mary;satisfymydesiresandyourbrothers':itisnotyettoolate."
Tearsfilledtheeyesoftheyounggirl;shereplied,however,withasweet
resignation:"Father,Iamyoursubmissivechild.Command,andIwillobey
withoutamurmur,andhumblykisstheveneratedhandwhichimposesthe
painfulsacrifice.ButGeronimo!poorGeronimo!"
Atthesewordsherfortitudeforsookher;shecoveredherfacewithherhands,
andweptbitterly;hertearsfelllikebrightpearlsuponthemarblefloor.
ForsomemomentsMr.VandeWervecontemplatedhisdaughterwitheverincreasingpity;thenovercomebythesightofhergrief,hetookherhand,and
tenderlypressingit,hesaidtoher:"Cheerup,mydearMary,donotweep.We
willseewhatanswertheSignorDeodatiwillreturntotheconditionsIwill
proposetohim.Geronimoisofnoblebirth;ifhisunclewillconsenttobestow
uponhimasuitablefortune,yourdesiresshallbefulfilled."
"But,dearfather,"saidthestillweepinggirl,"thatdependsuponthemagnitude
ofyourdemands.IfyouaskimpossibilitiesoftheSignorDeodati—"
"No,no,havenoanxiety,"saidMr.VandeWerve,interruptingher."Iwill
endeavortofulfilmydutyasafather,andatthesametimetospareyouany
futuresorrow.Areyousatisfiednow?"
Marysilentlyembracedherfather,andhereyesexpressedsuchgratitudethat
Mr.VandeWervewasdeeplymoved,andsaid,tenderly:
"Whocouldrefuseyouanything?Age,experience,prudence,allyieldbefore
oneglanceofyoureye.Concealyouremotion;Ihearsomeonecoming."
Aservantopenedthedoor,andannounced,"TheSignorGeronimo."
Theyoungnoblemanthusintroducedwasremarkableforhisfineform,andthe
gracefuleleganceofhismannersandcarriage.Hiscomplexionwasofthatlight
andclearbrownwhichaddssomuchtothemanlybeautyofsomeSouthern


nations.Thedarkbeardandhair,hisspiritedblackeyes,gaveasingularcharm
tohiscountenance,whilehiscalmandsweetsmileindicatedgoodnessofheart.
Althoughuponhisentrancehestrovetoappearcheerful,Mary'seyedetecteda
concealedsadness.
ThedressofGeronimowassimpleincomparisonwiththerichattireoftheother
Italiannobles,hiscompatriots.Heworeafelthatornamentedwithalongplume,
aSpanishcloak,aclothdoubletlinedwithfur,violetsatinbreeches,andgray
boots.Hismodestattirewasrelievedonlybytheswordwhichhungathisside;
forthehiltglitteredwithpreciousstones,andthearmorialbearingsengraved
uponitprovedhimtobeofnoblebirth.
"Chelapacesiainquellecasa!"(Maypeacebeinthishouse!)hesaid,ashe
enteredthehall.
HebowedprofoundlytoMr.VandeWerve,andsalutedhimmostrespectfully;
butthetracesoftearswhichheperceivedonMary'sfacesostartledhimthathe
interruptedhisceremoniousgreetings,andfixedhiseyesinquiringlyuponher.
Shehadbeenweeping,andyetshesmiledjoyously.
"Maryisnaturallyverysusceptible,SignorGeronimo,"saidMr.VandeWerve.
"Iwasspeakingtoherofherbelovedmother,andshewept.Youappear,andshe
smilesasthoughsheknewnosorrow."
Theyounggirldidnotawaittheconclusionofthisexplanation;beforeherfather
hadfinishedspeaking,sheledherlovertothewindow,pointedtothe
weathercock,andsaid:"Look,Geronimo,thewindisfromthewest."
"Inoticeditlastnight,"repliedtheyoungman,withaninvoluntarysigh.
"Rejoicethen,forto-dayyourunclemaybeinsightofthecity."
"Idonotthinkso;however,itispossible,"saidtheyoungman,sadly.
"Howcoldlyyouspeak,Geronimo!"exclaimedtheyounggirl,insurprise;"what
cloudobscuresyoursoul?"
"Imyselfnoticesomethingextraordinaryinyourmanner,signor,"remarkedthe
father."Youseemdejected;haveyoureceivedbadnewsofyouruncle?"


Geronimohesitatedforananswer;then,asthoughendeavoringtodriveaway
unpleasantthoughts,hesaid,inafalteringvoice:"No,no,itisnotthat.I
witnessedjustnowneartheDominicanConventsomethingwhichtouchedme
deeply,andIhavenotyetrecoveredfromtheshock.Haveyounotheardofa
FlorentinemerchantnamedMassimoBarberi?"
"Ishenoble?"askedMary."Idonotrememberhim."
"No,acommoner,butamanhighlyesteemed."
"Iknowhimwell,"saidMr.VandeWerve."Imethimlatelyincompanywith
LopezdeGalle,forwhomhehadattendedtosomefinancialaffairs.Whathave
youtotellusconcerninghim?"
"Somethingterrible,Mr.VandeWerve.IsawthecorpseofpoorBarberitaken
outofasewer;hehadtwodagger-woundsinhisthroat.Hewasundoubtedly
attackedandslainlastnight."
"ItishadtoseesomanymurderscommittedinAntwerp,"saidMr.Vande
Werve."Thisisthefourthduringthepastmonth.Thevictimseachtimehave
beeneitherSpaniardsorItalians,andthatvengeanceorjealousywasthecauseis
sufficientlyprovedbythefactthatinnocasehavethebodiesbeendespoiledof
theirmoneyorjewels.Thiscustomoflyinginwait,attackingandkillingeach
other,oftenwithoutcause,isanoutragebothagainstGodandman.Anddoyou
notyourselfsometimesfear,SignorGeronimo,theassassin'sdagger?"
Theyoungmanshookhishead.
"Forinstance,"continuedMary'sfather,"thisistheeveofMay,Ineednotaskif
youintendtooffertoMarythehomageofaserenade.Itisthecustomofyour
countrymentopaythisattentiontoyounggirls,andyouwouldnotomitthis
opportunitywereitnotfortheadviceofamanofexperience.Geronimo,listen
tothewordsofcalmreason:donotrashlyexposeyourselftothedangerof
death;abandonyourdesignthistime.Manyofyourcompatriotshaveaspiredto
Mary'shand;theyhavebeenlesssuccessfulthanyou,andonthisaccountthey
mayharborunkindfeelingstowardsyou."
Theyoungmanreceivedthisadvicewithasmilewhichindicateditsrefusal.
"Itisdifficult,sir,tospeakofsuchthingsinthepresenceoftheonewhoistobe


theobjectofourhomage.Permitme,however,thelibertytodecideuponthe
mannerinwhichIwillacquitmyselfofmydutytothisyounglady."
"Butpermitme,signor,totellyou,"saidtheoldman,inanoffendedtone,"that
itdoesyounohonortorejecttheadviceofamanofexperience,inordertocarry
outanunimportantfancy.Rashnessdoesnotindicatecourage,butratheran
absenceofgoodsense."
"Father,"exclaimedMary,inasupplicatingtone,"benotangrywith
SignorGeronimo;hewillincurnodanger."
"Foolishconfidence!"saidtheoldman."WhyshouldGeronimothinkhimself
lessexposedtodangerthanothers?ThatGeronimoshouldberashisexcusable;
but,Mary,youdeserveaseverereprimandforencouragingyourfriendinhis
perilousdesign."
Theyounggirlbowedherheadatthisreproofofherfather,andmurmuredasif
toexcuseherself:"Geronimohasarelic,father."
Thisrevelationembarrassedtheyoungman,andheglancedreproachfullyat
Mary.
Shesaid,caressingly:
"Don'tbedispleased,Geronimo;showtherelictomyfather,andhewillthen
knowwhyyoudonotfearthatanyaccidentwillhappentoyou."
TheyoungmanfeltthathecouldnotrefuseMary'srequest.Hedrewfromunder
hisdoubletanobjectsuspendedonasteelchain,and,approachingMr.Vande
Werve,heplaceditinhishand.
Itwasaflatmedalofgreenishcopper,onwhichwereengravenunknownletters
andsigns.Acrossbetweentwobentsabres,andbeneaththemacrescent,filled
upthecentreofthemedal.Atthefootofthecrosswasagraystone,rudely
inlaid.Thewholewasroughandheavy.
Mr.VandeWerveexaminedthismedalattentivelyforsometime;heturnedit
overandover,asthoughhesoughttocomprehendthesignificationofthis
singularemblem.


"Arelic!"hemurmured."Herearetwocimeters,acrescent,andcabalistic
characters.ItisaMohammedantalisman,and,perhaps,anemblemshockingto
ourholyreligion!"
"Youarecertainlymistaken,sir,"repliedGeronimo.
"Isnotthecrossplacedabovethecrescent,andwouldnotthatsignifythatthe
faithofChristhastriumphedoverthedoctrinesofMahomet?"
"Butwhydoyoucallitarelic?"
"Marysonamedit,notI.Itisanamulet,andifithasanypower,itderivesit
fromthegraystonebeneaththecross.Thisstoneisadraconite,taken,attherisk
oflife,fromtheheadofadragoninthecountryofthenegroes."
Ahalfcontemptuoussmilecurledthelipsoftheoldmanashecontemplatedthe
talismaninsilence.Atlasthesaid:"Iremember,SignorGeronimo,tohaveread
inPlinycuriousdetailsofthedraconiteanditsextraordinarypowers,butIalso
rememberthatthegreatnaturalistforgetstotellustheinherentqualitiesofthe
stone.Alas!signor,wouldyoutrustinthistalisman,andbelievethatitcould
protectyouagainstthedaggeroftheassassin?ThepeopleoftheSouthhavea
strangepiety:intheirsuperstitiontheyconfoundwhatisholywiththingswhich
owetheirefficacy,iftheypossessany,totheconjurationsofsorcerers."
Theyoungnoblecoloredslightly,andreplied:"Youaremistaken,sir,asfarasI
amconcerned.Formyjustificationallowmetotellyouthatthisamulet
belongedtoapilgrim;thatitrestedoneentirenightofGoodFridayuponthe
tombofourLordatJerusalem;butIwillbecandid,andsaytoyouthatIdonot
consideritpossessedofthepowertopreservemefromdanger.AndyetIalways
wearitwiththefirmandunshakenconvictionthatitwillprotectmeinacritical
hourfromsomemisfortune."
"Perhapsitbelongedtoyourdeceasedparents,"saidMr.VandeWerve,struck
bythesingularexplanationoftheyoungman.
"No,sir,"repliedGeronimo;"thisamuletistomeacherishedsouvenirofaday
uponwhichGodgavemethegracetoperformagoodaction.Iwouldwillingly
tellyouhowtheamuletfellintomyhands,andwhyIbelieveinitspowerto
protectme,butitisalongstory."


"Iwould,nevertheless,bemuchpleasedifyouwouldsatisfymycuriosity,"said
theoldnoble.
"Ifyoudesireit,"repliedGeronimo,"Iwillcomplywithyourwishes.
"Youknowthatfiveyearsago,whenIundertookforthefirsttimethevoyage
fromLuccatoAntwerp,IwasmadeprisonerbyAlgerianpirates,andcarriedas
aslavetoBarbary.IwassoldtoaMoorishlord,whomademeworkinthefields
untilmyuncleshouldsendtheransomwhichwouldrestoremetoliberty.Inthe
samefieldinwhichsomelightworkwasappointedme,Isawanoldblind
womanattachedlikeamuletoaplough,anddrivenonbyblowsfromaheavy
stick.ShewasaChristianslave,whoseeyeshadbeenputoutinwantoncruelty.
IlearnedthatshewasanItalianbybirth,anativeofasmallvillageinthe
environsofPortoFiero,aseaportnotfarfromGenoa.Shehadnorelativeswho
couldpayherransom,andshehadconsequentlybeenfastenedtotheploughlike
abeastofburdenuntildeathshouldcometodeliverher.Thefrightfulfateofthis
miserableslavesofilledmewithcompassion,thatIshedtearsofgriefandrage
whenIheardafaroffherpiercingcriesastherodoftheoverseerdescended
uponher.Onedaymyindignationwassoroused,whenthepaganwretcheshad
knockedherdownandweretreatingherevenmorecruellythanusual,thatI
daredtodefendherbyforce.Hadnotmymasterexpectedalargesumformy
ransom,afrightfuldeathwouldhavebeenthepunishmentofmyaudacity.After
beingkeptafewdaysinprisonandharshlytreated,Iwassentbacktothefields
toworkasbefore.Theconditionoftheblindslavewasnotintheleastchanged;
shewasstillinhumanlybeaten.Hermisfortunespiercedmyheart,andIwas
maddenedbymyinabilitytoprotectfrompagancrueltyawomanwhowasmy
sisterbyourcommonfaithandacommonmisfortune.Nolongerventuringto
haverecoursetoforce,Isoughtothermeanstomitigatehersufferings.During
thefewhoursofreposegrantedtous,orrathertoouroverseers,Ihastenedtothe
blindwomanandsharedwithherthebestofmyfood;Istrovetofortifyherby
thehopethatGodwouldliberateherfromthisterribleslavery;Itoldher,that
shouldIeverbecomefree,Iwouldprocureherliberation,evenwereitnecessary
torenounceforyearsmyownpleasuresthatImightamasssufficientforher
ransom.Ispoketoherofourcountry,ofthegoodnessofGod,andofthe
probabilityofmyliberation.Thepoorblindwomankissedmyhands,andcalled
meanangelsentbyGodtoilluminethedarknessofherlifebythesweetraysof
consolationandpiety.Iwasonlyafewmonthsherfellow-slave.Myuncle,
learningmycaptivitythroughmessengersIhademployed,senttoAlgiersan
armedvesseltoliberateme.Besidestheamountofmyransom,hesentme


meanstotransportsomevaluablemerchandisefromBarbarytoItaly.WhenI
tookleaveoftheblindwoman,Iwassodeeplytouchedbyhersorrow,thatI
pondereduponthemeansofrestoringhertoliberty.Itistruethatinorderto
effectthis,Iwouldbeobligedtoemployalargeportionofthemoneysentmeby
myuncleforthepurchaseofmerchandise,andIwasconvincedthatmyuncle,
whowasinflexibleinexactingfidelitytocommercialregulations,would
overwhelmmewithhisanger,butmyheartgainedtheascendencyovermy
reason,andChristiancharitytriumphed.Listeningonlytomycompassion,I
ransomedtheunfortunatewoman,andwithmyownhandsIunboundherchains.
Thatwasthehappiestmomentofmylife."
Maryandherfatherwerebothtouchedbytherecitaloftheyoungman.
"Oh,Geronimo,"exclaimedMary,"mayGodblessyouforhavingbeenso
compassionatetothepoorChristianslave!"
"Youdidwell,Geronimo,"saidMr.VandeWerve,"andIesteemandloveyou
moreforyourgenerositytotheunfortunateblindwoman.Howhappyher
unexpectedliberationmusthavemadeher!"
"WhenItoldhershewasfree,andthatshecouldaccompanymetohernative
land,shewasalmostwildwithjoy;shelaughedandweptbyturns;shecast
herselfupontheground,andraisingherhandstoheaven,thankedGod;she
embracedmykneesandwateredmyfeetwithhertears.Notknowinghowto
testifyhergratitude,shedrewthisstrangeamuletfromherbosomandpresented
ittome,conjuringmetowearitalways.Shetoldmethatitpossessedthepower
ofprotectingandsavingtheonewhocarrieditonhisperson,whenallhuman
aidfailedorwasinsufficient.Astotheoriginoftheamulet,sheonlyknewthat
ithadbeenbroughtbackfromJerusalembyoneofherancestors,whohadmade
apilgrimagethitherinexpiationofaninvoluntaryhomicide,andfromthattime
ithadbeen,religiouslyguardedintheirfamilyasapreciousrelic.Shehadno
doubtofitspower,andrelatedmanystrangethingstojustifyherfaith.She
maintainedthatsheowedtotheamuletherunexpectedreturntoItaly."
"Doesshestilllive?"askedMary.
"WheninsightofItaly,IputheronboardofaboatboundtoPortoFiero;Igave
herasmallsumofmoney,andbeggedtheboatmantoattendtohercomforts.
PoorTeresaMostajo—thatishername—Idoubtnot,islivingpeacefullyinher


nativevillage,andpraysmuchforme.ThisistheonlyreasonwhyIattribute
anyvirtuetotheamulet;Ibelieveintheprotectionofthissignbecauseithas
beensanctifiedbyanactofChristiancharity,andbythegratefulprayersofthe
poorblindwomantormentedbythepagansforthenameofChrist."
Theoldcavalierremainedamomentsilent,absorbedinthought.Thentakingthe
handoftheyoungman,hesaidtohim:"Ididnotknowyoubefore,Geronimo.I
hopeitmaybeinmypowertoprovetoyouhowmuchyourgenerosityennobles
youandelevatesyouinmyesteem;butalthoughyourconfidenceintheamulet
restsonsolaudableasentiment,Iwouldnotrelytoomuchuponit.Youknow
theproverbsays:'Helpyourself,andHeavenwillhelpyou.'"
"Donotsuppose,Mr.VandeWerve,thatonthataccountIwouldbeguiltyof
anyfoolishimprudence.Iknowthattheeyeandswordaregoodsentinels.When
Ipassthroughthestreetsatnight,Iamalwayswellaccompanied,andmyhand
neverleavesthehiltofmysword.Thereforehavenoanxietyonthispoint,and
permitmetoperformmydutytohertowhomIowehomageandrespect."
Atthatmomentthepainted—glasswindowstrembledunderthestrokeofalarge
clockfromsomeneighboringbelfry.ThissuddenlyturnedMary'sthoughtsinto
anotherchannel.
"TheclockofSt.Jamesisstrikingten,"shesaid.
"Father,willyouwalkwithmetothedock-yardtoseeifanynewshipshave
arrived?"
"Whatisthehourofhightide?"herfatheraskedGeronimo.
"Atnoon,"hereplied.
"Whyneedwegososoontothedock-yard?"askedtheoldcavalier."Manydays
mayyetpassbeforetheIlSalvatoreappearsintheScheldt.Donotfear,Mary,
thattheSignorDeodatiwilltakeusbysurprise.DonPezoa,theagentoftheking
ofPortugal,hasgivenordersthatIshallbenotifiedassoonasthegalleyweare
awaitingissignaledintheriver,atnoon."
Hewasinterruptedbytheentranceofaservant,whoannouncedthatthe
ChevalierJohnVanSchoonhoven,[8]thebailiff,desiredtospeakwithhim.


Geronimowasabouttowithdraw,butMr.VandeWervesaidtohim,cordially:
"Remain,signor;IwillsendPetronilla,Mary'sduennaasacompanionforher;
theinterviewwiththeChevalierSchoonhovenmaynotdetainmelong.Wewill
afterwardsgotothedock-yard,andwewillatleastenjoythefineweather.Stay,
Ibegyou."
Hardlyhadheleftthehallwhenanoldwomanentered,andseatedherselfnear
thedoor.Shedrewachapletfromherpocket,andcommencedprayinginalow
voice.Thiswasapparentlyanhabitualactwithher,forneithertheyounggirlnor
theyoungmantooktheleastnoticeoftheduenna.
Maryapproachedherlover,andsaid,gaily:"Rejoice,Geronimo!Myfatherhas
justpromisednottoproposeveryheavyconditionstoyouruncle."
"Iammostgratefulforhiskindness,"saidtheyoungman,sadly.
"Whatcanbethematter?"askedMary,surprisedbyhisindifference."Inoticed
youweredepressedwhenyoufirstcame.Bemorehopeful;perhapstheIl
SalvatorewillascendtheScheldtto-day."
"Godgrantitmaynotarrive!"saidGeronimo,heavingadeepsigh.
"Doyouthenfearyouruncle'sarrival?"exclaimedMary,inanagitatedvoice.
"Donotspeaksoloud,Mary;yourduennamustnothearwhatIamaboutto
communicatetoyou.Yes;sinceyesterdaymorningIhavedreadedmyuncle's
arrival.PreviouslyIimploreditofHeavenasthechoicestblessing,andnowthe
thoughtofitmakesmetremble."
"Haveyouthenheardfromyouruncle?"
"Alas!myfriend,attheverymomentwhenallseemedthebrightest,whenIwas
thankingGodforahappinesswhichIthoughtalreadymine,adarkcloudcomes
toovershadowmylife.Iseemevennowtohearmyuncle'svoicepronouncing
thecruelsentencewhichcondemnsmetoalife-longsorrow."
Theyounggirlturneddeadlypale,andanxiouslyawaitedanexplanationofthe
mystery.


"MybelovedMary,"hewhispered,"itisasecretwhichIcanonlyconfidetoyou
inpart,andwhichinstricthonorIshouldperhapsconcealentirely.Fourweeks
agoamerchant,highlyesteemed,wasleftbyacurioustrainofcircumstances
withoutfunds,andhebeggedmetolendhimtenthousandcrowns.ShouldI
refusehisrequest,thecreditofhishousewouldbeirretrievablyruined.His
nameIconsideredsufficientsecurityfortentimestheamounthewishedto
borrow.Atallevents,althoughitpainedmetodisobeymyuncle'spositive
injunctions,Icouldnotdenytheassistancewhichwasaskedofme.Ilenttheten
thousandcrowns,andobtainedareceiptwithawrittenpromiseofpaymentin
onemonth.Yesterdaythenotefelldue;mydebtorasksadelayuntilto-morrow.I
methimanhourago,andhehasnotyetobtainedthemoney."
"Butifyourdebtorisrichandpowerful,youneednotindulgeyourfearsto-day;
to-morrow,perhaps,hewillfulfilhispromise,"remarkedtheyounggirl,withillconcealedanxiety.
"Myfearsmaymisleadme,Mary,butIamsurethatmydebtor'saffairsareina
verybadcondition.AthisurgententreatyImadenoentryoftheloanuponthe
books,inordertoconcealthetransactionfromtheclerks;butstillIhavenotthe
amountinhand.OMary!myunclehasaneagleeyeinbusinessaffairs;hewill
atoncediscoverthedeficitoftenthousandcrowns—adeficitresultingfrommy
lendingmoney:athinghehasalwayswarnedmeagainst,andwhich,even
recently,hestrictlyforbade.Myuncleisagoodfathertome,butthisactof
disobedienceissufficienttodeprivemeforeverofhisfavor.Iforeseemany
futureevils."
"Whywereyousoimprudent,Geronimo?Yououghttohaverefusedsolargea
loan."
"Icouldnotpossiblyrefuse,Mary."
"Butyouholdanacknowledgmentofthedebtandapromiseofpayment.
Summonthismerchantbeforethemagistrates;atAntwerpjusticeispromptly
andimpartiallydealttoall."
"Impossible!"repliedtheyoungman,inaplaintivevoice;"mydebtorisaman
towhomIowemanyobligations;acomplaintfrommewouldbethecauseof
irreparableruintohim.Letushopethathewillsucceedinprocuringtheten
thousandcrowns.Hetoldmeeventhismorningthathewouldendeavortogive


mebillsofexchangeonSpain."
"Butofwhomareyouspeaking?"saidMary;"yourlanguageissomysterious."
"Iwillnottellhisname.Benotoffendedbymyreserve;thereisbetween
merchantsalawofsecrecywhichhonorforbidsustoviolate."
Maryappearedtorespectthislaw;butshewasevidentlyabsorbedinbitter
reflections.
Eitherthecommunicationofhisdifficultiestohisbelovedhadgivenhimnew
strength,orthesightofhersorrowmadehimaffectaconfidencehedidnotfeel,
forhesaidtoherinacheerfulmanner:
"Come,Mary,youmustnotyieldtodiscouragement.PerhapsIexaggeratethe
danger.Mydebtorisamemberofahousewhichequalsanyotherin
considerationandwealth.Inafewdays,to-dayeven,orto-morrow,hemay
acquithimselfofthedebt,andshouldmyunclearrivebeforetherestitution,I
willendeavortodelayhisexaminationofthebooks."
Hetooktheyounggirl'shand,andexclaimed,withjoyousenthusiasm:"OMary,
mybeloved,mayHeavenbepropitioustoourvows!Maythebenedictionofthe
priestdescenduponourunion!WewillpassinItalythefirstmonthsofour
happylife;Italy—thatearthlyparadisewhereGodhaslavishedallthetreasures
ofnature,andmanallthetreasuresofart."
TheyheardMr.VandeWerve'svoiceinthehallgivingurgentorderstothe
servants.
"Mary,"saidGeronimo,"yourfatheriscoming.Iimploreyounottodivulge,in
anymanner,whatIhavetoldyou.Keepmysecretevenfromyourfather;
rememberthattheleastindiscretionmightcausetheruinofanhonorable
merchant."
"Makehaste,Geronimo;Mary,prepareforadrive,"exclaimedMr.Vande
Werve,asheenteredthehall."SignorDeodatihasarrived;theIlSalvatoreisin
sight.DonPezoahasjustsentmeinformationtothateffect,andhehasplaced
hisgondolaandboatmenatourservice.Theweatherisbeautifulandcalm;we
willgotomeettheIlSalvatore."


Mary,asthoughforgettinginthisunexpectednewsallthatGeronimohadtold
her,ranjoyfullyandputonherhoodbeforeherduennahadtimetoapproach
her.Geronimoalsolookedhappy,andpreparedtomeethisunclewithoutlossof
time.
Inafewminutesallwasready;thehorseswereharnessedtothecarriage,the
greatgatewasflungopen,andtheequipagewasdrivenrapidlythroughthe
street.


CHAPTERII.
SIGNORDEODATI.

OnthatdaytheScheldtpresentedatAntwerpastrikingspectacle.Manyships
whichhadbeendetainedintheNorthSeabytheeastwindwereapproachingthe
city,withtheirvariouscoloredflagsfloatingonthebreeze,while,farastheeye
couldreach,thebroadexpanseofwaterwascoveredwithsails,andstill,inthe
dimhorizon,mastaftermastseemedtoarisefromthewavesasharbingersofan
immenseflotilla.
Thesailorsdisplayedgiganticstrengthincastinganchorandmanoeuvringtheir
vesselssoastoobtainanadvantageousposition.Thecrewsofthedifferentships
viedwitheachother,andexertedthemselvessoenergeticallythattheheavily
ladencraftstrembledunderthestrainedcables.Fromeacharoseasongwildand
harshasthesharpcreakingofthecapstan,butjoyousasthetriumphantshoutof
avictoriousarmy.Thesechants,sungineverytongueofthecommercialworld
byrobustsailors,seemed,astheywerewaftedovertherivertothecity,likethe
long,loudacclamationsofavastmultitude.
Theonlysoundswhichcouldbeheardinthemidstoftheseconfusedcrieswere
thevoicesofthecaptainsspeakingthroughthetrumpets;andwhenaPortuguese
gallion,comingfromtheWestIndies,appearedbeforethecity,asalvoofcannon
roseliketherollingofthunderaboveallothersounds.
Thesunshonebrightlyuponthisanimatedsceneofhumanactivity,andbroke
andsparkledincoloredlightupintheripplingwavesofthebroadriver.
Hundredsofflagsfloatedintheair;gondolasandlongboatsfurrowedthewaters;
fromboatandwharfjoyousgreetingsoffriendsmingledwiththesongofthe
sailors.EventhewagonersfrombeyondtheRhine,whohadrangedtheir
strongly-builtwagonsnearthecemeteryofBurg,inordertoloadthemwith


spicesforCologne,couldnotresisttheinfluenceofthebeautifulMay-dayand
thegeneralhilarity;theycollectednearthegateofthedock-yard,andentonedin
theirGermantongueasongsoharmoniousandsweet,andyetsomanly,that
everyothersoundintheirvicinitywashushed.
Atthismomentanelegantvehiclepassedthegateofthedock-yard,andstopped
neartheGermanwagonersasthelaststrainoftheirsongdiedupontheair.
Ayoungman,andafterhimanoldmanandayounggirlrichlyattired,alighted
fromthecarriage.
Thoseimmediatelyaround,merchantsaswellasworkmen,steppedrespectfully
asideandsalutedMr.VandeWerve,whilstglancingadmiringlyathisdaughter.
SomeItaliansoflowerrankmurmuredloudenoughtoreachMary'sears:"Ecco
labiondamaraviglia."
Mr.VandeWerveorderedhispeopletoawaithimatthegateofthedock-yard,
andpassedon,salutingthosewhomhemet,totheplacewherethePortuguese
flagindicatedthegondolaofLopezdeGalle,whichwaspreparedtoreceive
him.TheythrewacarpetacrosstheplankuponwhichMarywastostepin
passingintothegondola.Mary,herfather,andGeronimoenteredtheboat;the
sixoarsdippedsimultaneouslyintothewater,and,pushedbythestrongarmsof
thePortuguesesailors,thegondolaspedrapidlythroughthewaves.Swiftasa
fishandlightasaswan,itskimmedthesurfaceoftheScheldt,andmademanya
turnthroughthenumerousvesselsuntilithadsucceededinfindinganopenway
downtheriver.Thenthesailorsexertedalltheirstrength,asiftoshowthe
beautifulyounggirlwhattheywerecapableofintheirtrade.Thegondola,
obeyingtheimpulsegivenitbytheoarsmen,boundedforwardundereachstroke
oftheoars,andgracefullypoiseditselfonthewavescausedbyitsrapidpassage.
Completesilencereignedinthegondola;thesailorslookedwithtimid
admirationuponthebeautifulcountenanceoftheyounggirl.Mary,with
downcasteyes,waspersuadingherselfthatGeronimo'sunclewouldundoubtedly
consenttotheirunion.Theyoungmanwasabsorbedinthought,andyieldedby
turnstojoy,hope,andfear.Mr.VandeWervecontemplatedthecity,andseemed
toenjoythemagnificentspectaclepresentedbyAntwerpwhenseenata
distance,andwhich,withitsloftytowersandsplendidedifices,rosefromthe
riverlikeanotherVenice.


SuddenlyGeronimoroseandpointedinthedistance,exclaiming,joyously,
"See,theIlSalvatore!"
Mary,glancingaround,eagerlyasked:"Where?Isitthevesselbearingared
crossonitsflag?"
"No,Mary,itisbehindtheshipsofwar;itisthatlargevesselwiththreemasts—
onitsflagisapictureoftheSaviour:IlSalvatore."
Whilethegondolarapidlyspedonitsway,theeyesofallwerefixeduponthe
galley,inorder,ifpossible,todistinguishthefeaturesofthosewhostoodon
deck.
SuddenlyGeronimoclappedhishands,exclaiming,"Godbepraised!Iseemy
uncle."
"Whichishe?"inquiredMr.VandeWerve.
Theyoungmanreplied,joyously:"Doyounotseestandingontheforecastle
fiveorsixpassengerswhowearparti-coloreddresses,withplumedhats?Inthe
midstofthemisamanofloftystature,completelyenvelopedinabrowncloak.
Hehaslongwhitehair,andhissilverybeardlookslikesnow-flakesrestingon
hisdarkmantle.Thatismyolduncle,SignorDeodati."
"Whatasuperb-lookingoldman!"exclaimedMary,inadmiration.
"Intruth,"saidMr.VandeWerve,"aswellasIcanjudgeatthisdistance,his
appearanceisverystriking."
"Myuncleinspiresrespectwhereverhegoes,"saidtheyoungman,
enthusiastically."Hissixty-fiveyearsappearonhisbrowasanaureolaof
experienceandwisdom;heislearned,good,andgenerous."
Andwavinghishat,hecriedout:"Ah,herecognizesus!Hesalutesus;he
smiles.AtlastIseehimafterfouryearsofseparation.MyGod,Ithanktheefor
havingprotectedhim!"
Theyoungman'sjoywassogreatthatMaryandherfatherwerealsomoved.
"Solivelyanaffectionforyouruncledoesyoucredit,Geronimo,"saidMr.Van


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