Caesara- (pages 19-20)
menu Letters Testimonies Critiques Biography Home Bibliography

VII

Stretched out on his bed, Hyeronimo had pulled the window curtain aside to watch the moon sinking into the river, turning its surface into a soft luminous path, when he heard a soft knock on the door. It was the painter.

'Young man,' he said, 'you must leave town, as soon as possible.'

'Why?'

'You’ve killed Castelmare.'

'I know.'

'You do. Yet what you seem to ignore is the fact that he is the nephew and inheritor of this town’s podesta, that duels are forbidden here and that you may be hanged.'

'I don’t care.'

'You don’t care? Where did you learn this way of speaking, my boy?' the old man quietly added. 'I should be sorry for your very fine head. Besides, there’s something else to consider.'

He handed a piece of paper scribbled in crooked lines. Hyeronimo unfolded it.

Caesara to Hyeronimo.

"Run away, I beg you. You have not killed Castelmare. Bleeding, almost choking with blood, he told his men to take him to our house. He told everything, whose work his wound was. Run, do, please. They may be on your tracks this very night. What is even worse is that the count whishes to become engaged to me in his present state and I have no strength whatever to offer resistance! But I do love you. Believe me, I shall not survive this misfortune. By staying, you would not save me, but kill me with anxiety, my bird of paradise! Run away and maybe... alas, for some hope to cling to! Cannot you see that I cannot find my words? I would say, come here, but I cannot. Just think, would I imperil you just to see you once more? No, run away, Hyeronimo; maybe some impossible occurrence may keep me for tour own. Maybe the count will die. I hope he will. I love you. But no, not as much as to ask you to stay. Farewell, my love.

Caesara"

Hyeronimo threw his mantle upon his shoulders and they went to the river where Francesco gave him his boat. He hugged his old friend, untied the boat from the shore, stepped inside and floated down the river; having reached the full shining seawaters, he dumped oars and rudder into the water, lay supine under the lofty splendour of the sky and thus, a floating seed on the infinite expanse of the sea, he plunged into deep sleep.

T he following day, as he opened his eyes, the sun was high up in the sky. He noticed that his boat was stuck among some stony rocks. The sun was lord of the sky and filled the watery deep with light. On the continental shore an old abbey showed among wooded rocks; along its colonnades of hoary stone and in the covered porch, nuns were walking, with slow measured step. Close by the walls of the monastery, a garden sloped down to the seashore, the sea gently lapping at a bough of cypress and roses hidden by a toppling rock, looking like a sheltered bathing place. He took off his shoes and jumping from rock to rock, he explored this rocky empire. He came upon a spring of fresh sweet water that noisily gushed from the deep of a cave. He entered the cave. A bracing coolness enveloped him, wholesome since he had been sunburnt in his sleep. He walked on. The cave seemed to grow ever longer and became ever darker. He suddenly saw a gleam of bright light, but he thought it was a bolt. Since it was not fading, he went nearer and saw a hole large enough to put your hand through, opening on to the other side. He looked through it, saw heavy bushes and was struck by a smell of sleep-lulling weeds. He tried to enlarge the hole by the strength of his hands, but it was granite rock, hard to move. Yet, one huge boulder seemed to stir. He pushed it – the boulder turned as if on hinges, leaving a tiny entrance, a space that he could crawl through. He went in, quickly pushed the boulder back, covering even the tiny gleam of light with earth and stones and turning to see where he had entered, he stood still at the beauty of the view.

Gigantic hoary stone rocks stood around, rock upon rock, sky-high; a valley dipped down amid them, a garden of a dell, with springs of water, a lake in the center and an island in the middle of the lake where the hives of a large bee garden stood in long rows.

«It’s the island of Euthanasius,» he thought in wonder, stepping gently and marvelling at every step. The very insects were tame in this Edenic place. Strange butterflies - blue, golden and red - covered his long dark hair, so that his head seemed to be strewn with flowers. The air of this island was alive with murmuring hymns of bees, bumble-bees, butterflies; the grasses grew chest-high, vetchling laid flowery snares to one’s feet; warm air, a voluptuous scent, filled the heavenly place. He walked up to the lake and fording it, came on to the island. The bees came humming round the new young emperor of this paradise. He looked for the cave that, he knew, was sure to be on the island. He actually found it, carved in stone, found a chisel, carving tools, a bed, a water pitcher; but the old man was missing. A written sheet lay on a small table.

to pages 21_22back to pages 17_18
<<(Back to Literary Work)
Home BiographyBibliographyLettersCritiquesTestimonies