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THE ADVENTURER'S STORY.
'TIS IS a melancholy thing for those who possess any romance of character, to find how little of the savage is now remaining to us. Men very generally wear skirts to their coats, and brigands, pirates, bandit chiefs, and others of the same interesting species, are growing very tame. 'Gad! it was a satisfaction to be pilfered in those days, when a tall horseman in black, struck with the appearance of your travelling carriage, insinuated a pale aristocratic hand, and declared as he was a gentleman, that your purse was all he desired. But this, after all, was but a silly mode of entertainment, compared with the horrible delights of an all but murder in Italy, or the Black Forest. Singular the sweetness of being torn from your family, thumped on the head by genuine desperadoes, gagged, blindfolded, handcuffed, or what not, and after a fortnight of bread and water, giving up half your patrimony as a ransom. Ye mountains of Abruzzi, and ye dear villains, who were wont to murder so beautifully, though I have never myself been slain, nor robbed of anght but two bad pocket handkerchiefs, somewhere near Covent Garden.-Oh! sabres, scymitars, caves, and all other bloody places! -Oh! money and lives lost! What rapturous visions do these holy ideas excite !
Such have been the exclamations of some amongst the giddy rout, who rush from merry England for excitement abroad. I grieve for the professor of these tenets, that police laws, like snuffers, have cleared away so many thieves;-it is distressing to think, that even Lord Cochrane should have taken arms against the pirates, and that so few adventures being to be had now-a-days, foreign land is no longer desirable, as a genteel means of procuring them.
This is not much to the purpose. -I had a friend, who, with knap
sack on back, launched himself from England, to forget, if possible, the vile common places of his native land. He was a man of singular temper― perhaps I should call him rather too heteroclite, but that his crotchets were generally harmless. Yet the being a continual exception to the common rule of humanity, made his companions rather more like so many dittos of each other than was agreeable,-for their little deviations and small eccentricities, seemed very or dinary by the side of his exceeding crookedness.
We left Falmouth together in a Mediterranean packet.-France was dull, and laud-travelling insipid, unless the road happened to be unfre quented. But a first voyage is a sad tamer of your wild spirits. And when poor Roberts appeared on deck after his noviciate of sickness, it was strange to hear him babble of his relations, and wonder how far it might be to Gibraltar.
And," said he, "I should like to know how Napoleon looked in a gale of wind? Was he faint of heart think you, when these desperate lurches,-bere's one,―take care Ned
take care!-I thought we had been down!-Eh? they call that a sea, don't they?—these hanged sailors are never satisfied but with a hurricane. But I was asking just now, whether Alexander.-no, whether Napoleon was likely to suffer much from this torture, which I can't help thinking❞—
Here was a pause, during which all the features of his face seemed to undergo a change of position;-his lips quivered, but uttered nought.
"What can't you help thinking, Roberts?"
"El?-Think? was I thinking? -what can it matter,-to-morrow Ned, to-morrow we'll talk all about it-better weather then,-I hope to-morrow"
And so saying, he tottered down
the ladder to his hospital birth be- ingly all dainties, after our sea privalow. tions, and with true relish was it discussed. But one of our party failed in the agreement; Roberts had not arrived. The captain began to be nervous; where to seek him, or with what success, he could not guess, and in less than an hour he must set sail for Gibraltar. Well! the time passed on, and we were almost in despair, when in rushed our mislaid friend; breathless, and, according to Sternhold and Hopkins, "flying all abroad." He took a chair, put out his hand towards me, and addressed the packet master :—
All this was forgotten on the morning of our arrival at Cadiz. I had just made my appearance on deck, when he came up to me rubbing his hands, with a real chuckle. "At last, Ned; at last.-Just look around you, my boy; did you ever see such a bay? Yonder's St. Mary's, and that's Chiclona, and this large white town on the shore is Cadiz itself, and those dark hills, are called-let's see-St. Mary's-Chiclana. No, hang it !-I've forgotten their name. But never mind; look at these ships-scarcely two of a nation, ye see. That odd little thing with the raking masts is a brig of war from Brazil. They are just saluting her. She's the first that ever was saluted. Then see a Sardinian cruizer, and the Barbary flag. Oh! but I haven't yet introduced you to my friend." And he pointed to the harbour pilot, who had just come on board,—a dark ill-favoured dog, scowling beneath a flat round hat, ornamented with tags and tassels.
"There's a man for you;" cried my Cicerone, "he does not understand a word of English, I promise you. Isn't there rogue, written on his countenance? I only wish I could converse with him a little." And with that he darted off to the Spanjard, and commenced a strange parley, wherein all his knowledge of Greek, Latin, and French was employed. This was only interrupted by the arrival of the shore-boat, in which we were soon conveyed to land. Roberts was in ecstacies. He thought the quay the masterpiece of human labour;-the gateway-a triumphal arch for Jupiter himself. Then the various people in their national costumes: the priest bowing to the salutations of the mob; the venders of fruit at their little stalls; the military in French uniforms! 'Twas almost too much for him.
We had agreed to assemble, after our rambles, at an English inn, kept by one Wall, a fellow countryman. There was provided a repast, seem
"Captain, I must leave you. for long, perhaps, but leave you I
"What freak now, Roberts?" I asked.
"Ah! Ned, does that question come from you? Why, 'tis a freak in which I think you'll join me.—I am going to Gibraltar by land!”
"By land, Roberts?"
"Aye, my boy,-on a mule. I have engaged two, one for a guide; -a third can be hired in a minute, if you'll come,-- -will ?" you "By no means; and surely my good fellow”.
"Hush, now, no waste of breath they are waiting for me. All I have to say is--once more and lastly, -can you refuse this glorious expedition over the hills in a new country, and so avoid that hanged tossing about at sea?”
"And how shall you like the easy motion of your mule, think you?" "I care not."
"And the language-have you an interpreter?"
"Pooh! who wants one? Not I I want nothing of the sort; but I did expect that you, Ned, would have liked my scheme; I thought you were just the man. But never mind; give me your hand, old fellow, we shall meet at Gib., and I'll tell you all about it."
He was off in a moment; but the hour for our meeting was not so soon as he then arranged it to be.
A long while after this occurrence,
I was sitting in a coffee-room at Venice with an old friend; and, for aught I know, talking of this very person and these same events, when a tall man, with light coloured moustachoes, and a red Albanian cap, entered the apartment. He was giving directions to the waiter, in French; and when at length he sate down at the common table with ourselves, it was not at first evident that his sunburnt visage was that of my eccentric crony, Roberts. Such, however, was the case. To recognise him was not easy, but his eyes had no sooner fallen on me, than he exclaimed with all his former heartiness, "What, my good friend, Ned, are you here? Well! the very last person! And you too, Harvey? This is a pleasure! I fancied I was come to a land of strangers, and I am greeted by two of the best fellows I ever knew." And so saying, he grasped us heartily by the hand, with a force that might almost have seemed unfriendly.
"I am not the same youth, you see, as when you left me.' "Pardon me," said I," when you left us."
"Aye, aye, it was so; well, never mind that; I have since then seen strange things."
"And what became of you after you trotted away from Cadiz ?"
Why, why-I tell you what, Ned, about that we'll say nothing; perhaps 'twas a foolish affair-but 'tis past; and now for other matters."
"But my dear Roberts-"
No, Ned-I entreat you, as you love me, not a syllable about it."
And the matter has remained a mystery unto this day. Anon, we came to the subsequent adventures of the hero. The Chroniclers of that period may perhaps tell some of his valiant deeds; his perils by water and flood; his gay enterprises and happy achievements. But for me, poor tale-teller as I am, such a memorial is too weighty. He had been roving up and down the East, a complete kaight-errant, and with much success, if to be injured, and beaten,
and maltreated, in all moods, have in them aught that may seem satisfactory. How he descanted upon the Black Flag of the Archipelago, and the freebooters of the Morea! What marvellous 'scapes of annihilation had he undergone! My pulses beat more fiercely than is their wont, as I remind me of his long disasters amongst Jews and Heathens, “Anthropophagi, and men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders." These were recounted in suitably long discourse, and I began to consider him prolix, just at the point when Harvey had set him down as a gasconader. But still he proceeded in wordy toil, and not a bit seem anxjous to abate, when one of his hearers showed first symptoms of impatience.
"Why, yes," replied the other, "if any present themselves."
"Humph!" drawled out Harvey, and sate patiently till the budget was exhausted, and we parted for the night.
On the following morning, as we were sitting together after breakfast, a small dirty piece of paper, folded up in a most careful fashion, was delivered to Roberts. The superscription, written in bold, strong characters, was French; and the contents were expressed in the same language, fortunately for Roberts, who as yet knew scarcely a word of Italian. He read it, twisted his moustache, reread it, smiled, stared, and swallowed at a draught a boiling cup of coffee. Then, mute as the grave, he handed the despatch to me, which ran as follows:-"Sir-We have heard of you, no matter how, down the Adriatic. To-morrow night a
deed is to be done, which requires such gallants as yourself. Our numbers are incomplete. If you will join us in this enterprise, a gondola with three men will be at the stairs of St. Marco, at the hour of the Ritivata; embark in it, and try your valour.-SPALATRO."
I looked at him, and he at me. I did not counsel, for he was not the person to benefit from ghostly comfort, and perhaps in this instance I disappointed him.
"What do you purpose doing?" "Go-go; I must go. They have smelt me out even here; that hanged affair at Smyrna made me so notorious. And what can it be, think you?-a pirate-smuggler, or mere land-slayer? I care not-go I must."
And go he did.
On the following night he march ed to the place of rendezvous, with his moustache more than ordinarily cocked up at the corners, in the semblance of a curl. He had been all the morning studying a volume of "Familiar Conversations ;" and to confirm his spirit, a heavy flask had been stored with cordials. It was a raw night, and not a star twinkled as he got into the gondola, manned by the unusual complement of three men. For a short time a solemn si lence prevailed: but as the canal widened, and gradually merged into the open water, Roberts's anxiety could be no longer restrained.
berts hummed the fag end of "Row, brothers, row." But the sons of Venice are minstrels by inheritance, and the cue be ng now given, his companions at their oars lacked no vehemence of lungs as each trolled forth a favourite ditty :
Se assai piu ben fatta, Ma st' altra e piu matta Scaldada da amor."
And the sweet warbler gave place to his fellows, who in shrill falsetto pipes squeaked forth the remnant :—
"El' omo xe' un tomo
Lo istizza lo impizza
Le Donne che stuzzega La ponta del cuor."
This was all very amusing to poor Roberts, who not comprehending a syllable, of course deemed the burthen to be of wars and tumults; but when the Primo Senore, with replenished windpipe, chimed into the chorus,
"El'omo xe' un tomo," &c.
mine hero considered this bellowing somewhat indiscreet, if not unbecoming, in men so circumstanced. But his little plans of reform fell to the ground, for no question could elicit a polysyllabic answer from Spalatro's representative; and surely if to be tacituru were to be seemly, he played his part to perfection.
They rowed onward, occasionally talking to each other in a low tone, then bursting forth with some new canzonets, though seldom without a taste of "Ninetta Caretta." All this while Spalatro's deputy sate in moody abstraction, nothing dashed. He spoke not, he sang not, but singular suppressed sounds, like bubbles at the mouth of a fountain, were half distinguished by his new companion in arms, as playing upon his lips, and only imprisoned by force of pockethandkerchief. It was very cold, and poor Roberts felt as though the enterprise lost somewhat for want of better society. He could not learn in what direction they were steering, nor at what distance was the desired spot, nor the nature of the affair; in short, he was becoming melancholic.
The lights of Venice, still reflected on the water, half seduced him from Eis love of romance, and a little ennui tempted him to dose. But the minister of Spalatro forbad the latter effort, by tapping the defective enthusiast on the skull, as though he wished to know who might be at home. And with this rebuke for his sluggishness, he mumbled some gibberish, as it seemed to the gondoliers, who thereupon struck up the following words:
"El gusto del boccolo Ga Nina vezzosa Ma quel della rosa
Ga Betta per me,
"Hang the brocoli! When shall we get to the end of this very long voyage?" here piteously exclaimed Roberts, tired of the song, tired of his occupation, tired of his thoughts.
"Eh! Sir?" replied the other, " our voyage, for the present, is terminated." And hereupon giving directions to the boatmen, the gondola was run along a little neck of land, so low on the water as to have previously escaped notice. He got out, prosenting his hand to Roberts, who followed him without delay. They advanced a few steps, when the other, in a quick decided tone, thus addressed him :-" I must here leave you. Wait patiently till the arrival of the captain or my own return. Be vigilant." He turned away, and almost instantly the splash of oars was audible, and the voices of the gondoliers were soon assuring the desolate hero, that
"El naso sul boccolo Nol gode mai tanto, Me quando l'e spanto El bon ghe senti." "Fol-de-riddle-li-do," grumbled out my friend, when he found himself alone; determined, however, not to be outdone by a brace of lubberly Venetians. Strange place," thought he, "strange people! Is it the continent, or an island ?" How could he determine? It was dark as pitch, nothing to guide or comfort bim. The last notes of the merry
boatmen died away in the distance, and he began to consider himself illtreated. His first idea was to survey the territory. But the ground was so swampy and uueven as to offer a very insecure footing, and a rash step brought him down with a prodigious cadence. He was half soused in water, and after extrication his better judgment condemned the idea of geographising without a lantern. He tried astronomy: but the heavenly bodies were gone, like decent bodies, to their slumbers, and as he gazed round about for a stray roué of a luminary, his cheek was saluted by a heavy drop of rain, the precursor of a severe shower. Was there no shelter-no alternative ? Must he stand there like a scarecrow, to be laughed at by the ele ments? A second migratory movement was as unsuccessful as the first. He grew fidgety and cross, "Hang this Spalatro!" cried he aloud; but the echo of his own voice was rather too loud and sudden to be comforta ble.
So he spoke no more openly. "Hang this Spalatro!" thought he to himself, "he's a bad general, however he may answer as a captain. Who could think of enlisting an ama teur like myself, and treating his gratuitous services with such ind.fference? Why didn't I discover the arrangements of the night before I sate myself down as an audience to those two mad ballad-singers?— There they go, or something like them. I can see the lamps. Heavens! at what a distance! But stop-surely I see something glimmering not fir off- Can it be a light on shore here?"
And turning round, he attempted to approach the quarter whence a faint gleam seemed to sparkle; but he found that the land was intersected by currents of water, more or less deep and wide, and frequent was the immersion which his lower man encountered in this chase. Still he seemed to advance, and, in a sanguine spirit, nothing begrudged the toil and travel: when, lo! the beacon disappeared! He was again in