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are condemned as vulgarity, and their possessor "an ill-bred, disagreeable fellow." Truth is the lustre wherewith to confuse and dazzle; for so accustomed is the world to darkness, it cannot abide the light.
At sunrise the following morning we started for the summit of Monte Monterone. My fellow-travellers, both of whom were not a little weighty (a very few of such gentlemen would go to a ton), were carried up the mountain on the backs of donkeys, like sacks of flour; whilst I on foot far outstripped them. After two hours' climbing, I became completely bewildered as to my whereabouts, and out of sight and hearing of the donkeys and their burdens, there being no one to ask which of the numerous paths was the most direct. I made perfectly straight for the summit, which was visible far above, and so gnashing my teeth, toiled unswervingly through mud, ruins, ponds, thick and prickly shrubberies, snakes, loose flints, and other disagreeable impediments, till, after four hours' climbing through the blazing atmosphere of the Italian autumn, arrived breathless on the apex of Monte Monterone, where a panoramic view beyond measure magnificent was spread out, at the mountain's foot. On one side, reflecting back the azure of the skies, rested as a small pool on the plain's surface the whole lovely hill-girt lake of Maggiore, with the sparkling white villages on its banks, piled like children's toys. On the other side gleamed the Lago d'Orta, its bosom glittering like a silver shield, whilst from all its sides rose up the dark pine-clad hills, casting abroad their deep and purple shadows; then from out the heart of the luxurious mountain woods, were peeping and shining the marble walls of villas and palaces. Far, far away to the glowing south, spread the soft beauty of the garden-land of Northern Italy, with the warm plains and silver rivulets sleeping in the noon-day sun. Behind where I stood, running down from tempests and clouds, was the whole wild stupendous and wintry range of the Alps, with their thousand gleaming and towering peaks, their darkening gorges, yawning chasms, and regions of everlasting snows.
At length my friends arrived, red, blustering, hot, cross, and bedaubed with black mud from head to foot, having in the course of the day been severally and separately deposited in comfortable soft muddy ditches and pools, whenever the asses on which they were mounted fancied a nice quiet roll, in order to refresh themselves in the intense heat. So obstinate were at one time the animals, that to induce them to get upon their legs again, it was found necessary to light a fire underneath them. That evening, after ten hours' walk, we arrived at the town of Orta at eleven o'clock. The shadows of falling night obscured to a certain extent the brightness of the varied scenery of the descent from Monte Monterone to the edge of the beautiful mountain-lake. It was one of those fair Italian nights, when fanned by whose soft breath, to live seems less an effort. Let those in the sad embraces of decline shun the cruel breath of the North, come away to the balmy climate, where winter and its blasts seem rarely to dwell, and calmness will be with them, contentment within the soul's deep cell, and sunshine without. What a night it was! The golden splendour of the day had gently and softly
melted away as an infant dies on its mother's breast, and all the lovely tints which chase one another across the sky in this ephemeral twilight had gone too; the bright rolling moon rose, taking her first look upon the night from behind the far realms of the snows and the sharp rearing outlines of the wild mountain chaos, black and savage, against the pale light of the skies; while down on the dark lake's waters beneath, slumbered the magnificent column of light, reigning supreme over the tiny modest wakes of the stars. In moments like these, when all nature, clothed in radiance, breathes to the soul of man her sweetest whispers; when a calm repose steals over the spirit, to chase away the clouds of sorrow and care from the aching brow; when the mere sense of existence, in listening to the sighing breeze as it bears wild melody over the moonlit waters-when all this is an intense happiness; or when, involuntarily uttering an exclamation of delight at the wild buffeting of the waves, the dying glory of the day, or the rolling stars burning in the breast of night-then, often is the taunt heard, "Romantic enthusiasm of youth," from chilly scoffers, and those who, to say the best for them, have just no less brains than the many others who are not likely to go mad from an over-supply of them; in fact, in any way of life, to damp the ardour, to sour the spirit, and, if not by fair means, to dishearten and embitter by injustice and falsity; no class of individuals are more admirably adapted for these specious purposes than a man's own relations. But, however, "it is the fate of mankind too often to ridicule in others, and seem insensible of that which they themselves may enjoy at the easiest rate. Many like these are always attached to these spokesmen, as mistletoe to the oak, in an attendant train, as the planets round the sun, or maggots in a cheese feeding on rottenness. Then the insolence of base minds in success is unbounded. Again, when smiled upon and flattered by their leaders, though at the same time they are despised, these parasites, too cowardly themselves, may even excite the ungenerous temper of the idol they worship to triumph over a fallen adversary; other better hearts meet them, carelessly listen and believe; so a man's character is often condemned before he is known; and "such is the judgment of the world,"
We slept at Orta, in the darkest, dirtiest, dismallest of inns, with every room having a more horrible variety of smells than the other; hung with pictures, illustrating curiously the history of marriage, from the first tender avowal to the last of the series, and the consummation of mortal bliss. The long gloomy corridors and passages were each illumined by one consumptive tallow-candle, and returned ghostly echoes to our footsteps; suspicious massive old doors, creaking hoarsely on their hinges in the night wind, disclosed lonely passages leading to unknown darkness beyond; the sleeping rooms, which were lofty, and of great extent, were pervaded by a damp unwholesome mist, and chilly as the atmosphere of the grave; from various parts of each, six mouldering black doors led to Heaven knows where; the boards bent and creaked to the tread, and people of extended views heard in the dead of the night the fall of unnatural footsteps, mingled at intervals with whisperings, hollow groans, and the sighing of the wind. . . . To render the associations of the locality more complete, before retiring to rest we were in
formed by a courier, of a foul murder that had been discovered there a short time since, under the most extraordinary circumstances. Some travellers arriving one sultry afternoon, demanded refreshment to be brought to them as they sat in the garden adjoining the house. When they were enjoying their cigars and lazily looking around them, their attention was called to two long winding streams of that peculiar species of ant which breeds in carrion and decomposition. Upon inspecting the insects more minutely, those that were going towards the house carried no burden; but they that were returning, and eventually disappearing into a crevice in the ground, carried back between their foreceps a maggot. Impelled by curiosity, one of the travellers rose, and followed the advancing line, tracing it to the door of a shed, underneath which the two streams went and came. The attention of the rest was then fully aroused, upon which the shed door was attempted to be opened, and found fastened. The key was demanded and refused-" it was mislaid, or lost, the maestro had never made any use of the place for years, and there was nothing in it." However, the production of the key was insisted on, with the threat of instantly breaking open the door. One of the "contadini” belonging to the house upon this was observed to turn pale and tremble. The affair was then assuming so extraordinary an aspect that suspicion was aroused of something foul having taken place; and the man was instantly seized and secured, the door broken open, at the same time emitting an intolerable stench; streams of ants were then observed to proceed in and out of an old oaken chest ; a hatchet speedily severed the locks, and the ghastly and mutilated remains of a human body, as it lay rotting away, was exposed to the daylight. The peasant who had been made prisoner seemed then to evince the utmost horror and remorse, and eventually confessed to have participated in the murder, which was committed upon an unfortunate traveller for the sake of his gold, that he had imprudently exposed.
The body was then of course interred; and upon the evidence of the captured wretch, the murderer, who had been the late landlord of our pleasant hotel, and his accomplices, were tried and executed.
AQUATIC SHOOTING IN FRANCE.
"I think," said Lavalette, as he finished the last sentence," that you, Crauford, and your friend Evelyn, have had quite enough of aquatic sports for this morning. Some other day I will give you an account of a shooting party I was at, last winter, when we killed a quantity of coots."
"Give it to us now by all means, Lavalette," replied Crauford. "I have not half finished my breakfast, and there is Evelyn still playing
away at his knife and fork. Perhaps we could make up a party of the same kind ourselves."
"I think we might," returned Lavalette; "and you would enjoy it. We had absolutely a little fleet of boats assembled that morning; it was a gay sight.
"We sportsmen of the surrounding district agreed to meet when the coots, just before the frost set in, should alight on a large pond in our neighbourhood; getting together as many boats as we could.
"We accordingly assembled. Our boats lay alongside of the bank, and we all took our stations around the pond. Those sportsmen who had boats got into them, and the others concealed themselves on the bank.
"At a signal the boats were all put in motion, keeping as much as possible in a line.
"Thus we advanced, occupying the entire breadth of the pond. The coots and other aquatic birds, terrified out of their senses, swam away from us our flotilla, which advanced upon them, driving them to the other bank. Not choosing to land, the birds now took wing, and passed over our heads, in order to regain the side of the pond they had first occupied. An instantaneous discharge of fowling pieces followed this movement; and the coots, finding no safety in the water, were forced to take the land. Here an ambuscade of fresh assailants, hidden among the reeds, awaited them. On every side the affrighted birds heard the sound of fire-arms. From every thicket, as if it were a field of battle, they saw a column of smoke arise, which dispersed as it ascended, while in every direction small shot whizzed through the air. The noise of the coots falling into, and struggling in the water, was confounded and mingled with the cries of the sportsmen, the tongue of the dogs, which swam about, snapping up the game, and the exclamations of the boatmen.
"It was a sight full of animation, which gave me the liveliest pleasure; and a very productive shooting it was, although we expended a good quantity of powder and shot."
"Bravo! bravo!" exclaimed Crauford; " and when the ponds are frozen over, what do you do? You follow the birds to the rivers, I suppose?"
"Exactly so," replied Lavalette; "the rivers become the fields of battle, to which the aquatic birds are pursued. The wild ducks, the divers, the herons, finding the standing waters converted into an impenetrable sheet of ice, take refuge in the running waters. When a boat is at hand, we employ it to approach the game, with the same precautions that we used on the ponds, only the skiffs which we make use of are generally larger, for they must be able, at least, to contain two persons. One of them, placed before, keeps a steady look out by means of a small telescope, and attentively examines every inch of strand and shore. The other is only occupied in directing the boat.'
"With respect to the wind, it is necessary to take the same precautions as on the ponds. But we have also here to contend with the current, as we cannot approach the birds otherwise than by presenting towards them the point of the skiff.
"There are several birds (and the peewits are among them) which
a man would find it very difficult to come up with on foot, but which are not the least terrified at seeing a skiff approach.
"When the river is not very wide, we may pursue the game with success from the shore. In this case there must be two persons, one on each bank; and each person must carefully observe whatever he can see on the side opposite to him.
"He who spies out any wild duck resting close to the strand, makes a signal, previously agreed upon, to his comrade, and describes to him, as clearly as possible, the place where the game may be found. This last, instead of continuing his walk along the bank, in order to reach the game, turns off some hundred paces from the margin of the river into the plain, and then walks back in a straight line to the spot where he understands from his companion's signs that the wild ducks lie. He steals along like a wolf, taking every precaution not to be seen; and, as the bank is always higher than the water, he arrives just above the birds, which instantly rise on hearing his step.
"In pursuing this sport it is necessary to ascend the river; not to descend it; for the water in its course produces the same effect as the wind-it conveys the scent of those who are coming down by the stream. This is a precaution which those who fish with the castingnet never neglect, and the sportsman ought to profit by their experience.
"We may, by thus walking along the bank, meet with all sorts of birds, even the harle, which holds the middle place between the diver and the duck, and has almost the same plumage; but, instead of having the beak flat, it is cylindrical, and terminates in a hook.
"This bird dives with great facility. It is said that the moment it sees the flash, it disappears under the water, and hides itself from the shot of the sportsman.
"The same address is attributed to the diver, and likewise to the grebe, whose silver down, rivalling the most costly furs, is much sought for by furriers.
"In our percussion guns the ignition is so instantaneous, that it would be impossible for them to see the flash of the priming before the ignition of the charge. But these birds, wild and distrustful, very rarely allow anyone to approach them, and least of all a sportsman, whom they can very well distinguish. All the day long, on the edge of the rivers, labourers and shepherds pass and repass close to the wild ducks and geese; but a sportsman may linger there an entire day, and not get near a single bird."
"I remember hearing mention made of the acute observation of these birds before," said Crauford. "A friend related to me an anecdote of a proprietor on the banks of the Allier, with whom he was well acquainted. This gentleman, hearing from the shepherds that the wild geese were accustomed fearlessly to alight beside them, clothed himself in a like garb. On his head he placed the small hat with two peaks, which they are in the habit of wearing, and carrying his fowling-piece disguised as a distaff, made a show of spinning. By this stratagem he approached so close to a flock of wild-geese as to be able to kill several of them."
"I have heard some curious anecdotes of this kind," returned Lavalette. "I cannot say that I give implicit faith to them all; but it