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seems impossible to turn away his burning the trees and bushes in its eyes. He keeps on, therefore, with way. out looking to the right or left, It was a sight difficult to endure without seeing where he is walking, for a long time, and yet I could stumbling at every step over heaps not turn my eyes away from so of lava scarcely cold, regardless of mysterious and terrible a spectathe rough path with its sharp, burn- cle. ing stones, the effect of which is “O my God!" I murmured, afterwards seen
on his garments “this is truly la città dolente ! We and shoes, though he does not think have before our eyes an exact repof it while exposed to the danger, resentation of the last day of the more apparent, perhaps, than real, world! ..." but which indubitably exists, how- Gilbert made no reply. He was ever, as is proved by the numerous overcome by I know not what emoaccidents that occur at every new tion more powerful than mine, and, eruption.
looking at his face by the red light Leaning on Gilbert's arm, I was of the fire, I was alarmed at the too firmly supported to stumble, change in his features and their and was able to ascend to the top unusual expression. of a ridge of lava formed by pre- “Would that that day had arceding eruptions; and there, pro- rived for me!" said he at length. tected by an immense block on the “Would that this were really the very edge of the flaming abyss, I last day of my life! Yes, I would contemplated the awful, imposing like to be swallowed up in that spectacle! Gilbert did not utter a flame! I would like to die here word, and I attributed his silence on the spot where I am-beside to the impression which likewise you-worthy of you. ..." rendered me dumb in the presence In spite of the terrific scene beof this terrific convulsion of nature. fore me, in spite of the noise of the The burning lava, issuing, as I explosions and the sullen sound of have said, from a crater on the side the lava, the tone in which he of the mountain, did not spring up spoke was distinctly audible, and to fall back again on the summit, as made my heart beat with mingled disual, but it advanced like a large emotion and fear. river of fire over the heaped-up “I am afraid you are becoming masses of cold, black lava, giving dizzy, Monsieur de Kergy,” said I in them the most singular, fantastic a trembling voice; "take care. forms. It was like a city, not on effect, they say, is to draw one into fire, but of fire! It seemed as if the abyss." one could see houses, towers, and
“Yes, Donna Ginevra," replied palaces; and in the midst of these he in the same strange tone, "you imaginary edifices moved the fiery are right. I am dizzy. I am apstream ! For lava does not flow. proaching the verge of an abyss, I However steep the descent, it know. I have rashly exposed mystops and goes no further as soon self to the danger. I have preas the crater ceases to emit it. sumed too much on my strength." But it had not yet stopped. On
The look he fastened on me, as the contrary, it pursued its slow, he uttered these words, gave them pitiless course, consuming vine- a meaning I could not mistake. It yards, swallowing up houses, and was no longer Gilbert who spoke
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it was not he to whom I had ac- make haste to leave so dangerous a corded the rights of a safe and spot. Do you not hear the frightful faithful friend. The veil with which explosions? Do you not see the redI had wilfully blinded my eyes sud- hot stones that are flying over our denly fell off, and the emotion I heads ? ..." And as I spoke a was seized with, the material flames cloud of thick smoke added obscuthat surrounded me, and the cer- rity to all the other horrors of the tain peril into which another step place. would have plunged me, gave an “Do not be alarmed,” said Gilexact idea of the danger to which bert in a tone once more calm I had foolishly exposed my honor and decided. “We must certainly and my soul!
hurry away, but there is no danger I covered my face a moment yet, unless from fear. Give me with my hands, but spoke as soon as I dared.
But I hesitated when he endea“Monsieur de Kergy," said I in vored to take it, and made an invoa supplicating tone, cease to look luntary movement, as if going to deat the fire around us. Lift up your scend without his assistance. eyes, and see how calm and beauti- “In the name of heaven," said ful the night is above this terrible he rapidly, trembling with agitation inferno."
and terror, “ do not refuse my as. In fact, a bright moonlight was sistance in the danger we are in. diffused over this terrific scene, and You cannot do without it. You the contrast between the earth and must give me your hand, madame." sky could not have been more His agitated voice became alstriking
most imperious. I gave him mis Gilbert's eyes followed mine, and hand, and even complied when he remained for some time fastened told me to rest the other firmly on those peaceful starry worlds, against his shoulder. which seemed as far remote from “Now," said he, “ descend carethe agitation of our hearts as they fully. You need not be afraid. I were above this frightful convul- will support you. In spite of this sion of nature. I felt in my soul whirlwind of fire and smoke, I can the need of powerful assistance, and clearly distinguish my way. murmured in a low tone:
He made no further observations, God, have mercy on me!" with a as we slowly descended; and a fervor that for a long time I had soon as we were in a place of safenot felt in my prayers.
ty, I left him, and leaned against 3 After a long silence, Gilbert said tree at some distance, trying to ge: to me in a low, agitated tone: breath. Besides the violent agiis
“Will you pardon me, madame ? tion of my heart, the suffocating Will you trust in me to take you air that surrounded us gave me .away from this place?"
feeling of giddiness and faintness “Yes, I trust you. But let us that was almost overpowering.
The stream of fire and smoke effect on all who were in the vicinthat obliged us to leave the place ity of the fiery current. We were where we were standing had a like therefore soon joined by Teresini and Lando, Mariuccia and the back a heart more agitated than at baron. But I felt extremely anx- our departure. ious at seeing nothing of Stella and Stella still refused to answer our young Leslie, who had left the questions, pretending to be too others to go further below, in order hungry to think of giving the acto get a better view of the lava in count we were all so eager to hear; its course to the plain. The fear but Mr. Leslie was only too glad lest some accident had happened to assume the task, and at once to them began to chill the blood in proceeded to satisfy our curiosity. my veins, but I was soon reassured “We were,” said he, “ watching by seeing them at last reappear the lava, as it advanced with a dull with blackened faces and torn gar- sound resembling the distant report ments, while Stella was barehead- of grape-shot, when all at once we ed, and her hair streaming in dis- heard a succession of heart-rending order.
groans a few steps off.
At our ap“Good heavens! what has hap- proach we found a man lying on pened to you?"
the ground. I endeavored to raise "Nothing, nothing," said Stella, him. Impossible: he had broken out of breath. “We will tell you his leg. Countess Stella questioneverything by-and-by."
ed him, and the story he related Here Mr. Leslie interposed, de- was a sad one. Like so many of claring that the Countess Stella the other poor creatures, he had was "the bravest woman he had deferred leaving his house till the ever met-a heroine, and an angel last moment. His wife was ill in of goodness.'
bed, with a little boy of five or six “ You are entirely mistaken,” years old beside her. He kept hopsaid Stella, drawing up the hood of ing the lava would stop before it her cloak. “But I have lost my could reach his dwelling - they bonnet, and nearly destroyed my all hope that! He went out two shoes also, I fear. Let us start im- or three times an hour to see how mediately. We will relate every- far it had progressed, and finally thing afterwards."
saw all hope was vain. The lava As she was there safe and sound, kept on its course, regardless of any it was really much better to put off
He had barely more than any further particulars till another half an hour to save his wife and time, and return to Naples as quick- child, and then carry away what he ly as possible. We started, there- could. He rushed towards the fore, without any delay, only stop- house; but in the haste with which ping at Resina long enough to take he endeavored to make up for lost my aunt, who, having devoted the time, he had fallen from one of whole time of our absence to a those black rocks you are so famisiesta, was completely rested, and liar with, on the spot where we had quite recovered from her ter- found him, unable to rise. It was ror. Mario was less good-humor- necessary to hasten ; the lava was ed; but when, a little after mid- continually advancing. In less night, we all assembled at last than a quarter of an hour it would around the supper-table that await- reach his hut, and his wife and ed our return, every one seemed child were there! ... I could satisfied with the excursion we had not understand what he said," con
I alone felt I had brought tinued the young Englishman with
an expression of benevolence and they were thankful to be alive, courage which added to the effect and kissed the hands of the Countof his narrative, “but while I was ess Stella, calling her an angel sent gazing at the devouring current by the Madonna and a thousand that was advancing towards a house other things of that kind. It was I supposed empty, I suddenly saw now time to call for assistance, and the countess dart forward without by the aid of two or three peasants any explanation. I understood it we transported them all into a habiat once, and followed her. Qut- tation, where they were received running her, I was the first to ar- for the night. To-morrow I shall rive at the house, and had already go and carry them some assistance. taken the woman and mattress in And now, Madame la Duchesse, my arms when the countess joined you know how the Countess Stella me. 'Take the child !' I cried. lost her bonnet, and why we were He was screaming, the poor thing; so late.” for, in taking up his mother, I had, The effect produced by this acwithout intending it, thrown him count cannot be described. Gilbert on the floor. He was a boy of eagerly raised his head, and I saw about six years of age, and heavy his eyes glisten as he listened. As to carry, I assure you. But kind- for me, my heart leaped with a kind ness and courage gave strength. of transport, while my dear, noble The countess picked him up as if Stella made fruitless efforts to stop he were a feather, and we hurried the acclamations her courage drew out of the house. The heat of the even from those who were the fire was already intolerable, and least accessible to enthusiasm. the earth under our feet heaved at “What an absurdity!" exclaimed every step. I thought a dozen she as soon as she could make hertimes we had sacrificed our own self heard. “Who of you would lives in trying to save theirs. But not have done the same thing? no, thank God! we all succeeded— Stop, I beg of you, or rather, listen woman, child, and ourselves, with to me. Let us all join in buying the mattress-in reaching the poor these poor people a cottage to te wounded man, whose cries of terror place the one they have lost." now gave place to those of joy. He This proposition was of course had reason-the poor creature !- acceded to with ardor and unanifor we were hardly in safety before mity. My Aunt Clelia instantly we heard a horrid sound, this time plunged into the depths of her like the noise of cannon-it was pocket, and had already opened the shock of the burning lava her well-stocked porte-monnaie when against the house we had just es- Lando rose and exclaimed: caped from. What a sight! Good “Stop, Donna Clelia ; put your God! ... But since it must have gold back in your pocket-for the happened, I am not sorry I was moment. I have an idea. Let us there! The fiery stream first pass- do as they do in Paris." ed around the house, then rose, as “On! bravo!" exclaimed my two if to wrap its red flame around it, cousins in a breath. and finally swept over the roof; “ Yes," said Teresina with enthuand when everything was engulfed, siasm, “as at Paris, I beg of you. it quietly continued its course. But what ? how ? say !" The poor people wept; but, after all, “Listen, all," said Lando-"lis
ten to my programme. It contains the talent Lando was desirous of a role for us all. First, Donna profiting. by, seemed annoyed. Ginevra's is the easiest, but most Gilbert's face darkened, and he indispensable. She must lend us one resumed the gloomy, preoccupied of her drawing-rooms where a small expression he had for an instant but select number can assemble. shaken off; but to protest or refuse This réunion shall take place to- was as impossible for them as well morrow, ... no, the day after to- as me, and before separating, at two morrow, when-pay special atten- o'clock in the morning, the meeting tion now, Monsieur le Comte de was decided upon and appointed Kergy."
for the next day but one. Gilbert, hearing his name, looked When I found myself alone, it up with surprise, while Lando stop- was impossible to think of sleep, ped to say very swiftly in Italian to notwithstanding the advanced hour his neighbor, “ You know he is of the night. My chamber was at celebrated for his eloquence,” one end of the house, and opened then continued: “And then, the on the lateral terrace opposite that Comte de Kergy, here present, shall, of the drawing-room. I opened at the opening of the meeting, make my window, and took a seat outside. a brief discourse, in order to explain There, in the imposing silence of the object of the contribution we that beautiful night, I sought shall afterwards expect of each one.
calmness and the power of reftecHe will relate the account we have tion. The uncommon courage just heard, and add all he pleases Stella had just given a proof of about the excursion we have made produced a salutary effect on me. together and the various incidents Her example reacted somewhat that have taken place. We shall against a fatal enervation that was depend on his omitting nothing gradually diminishing my moral that occurred. Poi, Donna Tere- strength. I admired courage, and sina and Donna Mariuccia will sing my soul, however enfeebled it might a duet, accompanied by the Baron be, responded at this moment to von Brunnenberg; and if you wish her noble, generous impulse. With for a general chorus, here we are, my eyes fastened on the flame that Mario, Leslie, and myself, ready to now lit up the whole horizon with lend our assistance. Finalmente, its sinister gleam, I thought the we come to the most important; sight ought to inspire Stella with a the Countess Stella will recite some lofty emotion such as follows the poetry of her own choice, and you accomplishment of an heroic deed; who have heard her know what is whereas I-it was with a shudder in reserve for those who are to I thought of the contrast it suggesthear her for the first time. After ed! ... I tried to avoid dwellthat is the moment to present your ing on what had taken place. I contributions, and you shall give wished to believe it was my imagime the result. Che ne dite !"
nation alone that disturbed and I could not have declined, even alarmed me; that nothing was changif I had had any serious objections ed; but I could not succeed, and against this proposition, which was at last I was forced to consider unanimously received with even what I should do-what was the more enthusiasm than the first. course prescribed by the new light Stella, though really endowed with to which I could no longer close