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until I think the by-standers noticed it — these rude Italians! I had written her a desperate note, telling her that she must unmask for a moment, or ‘Lo Spagunolo' would leave her; and was just rising to toss it up to her in a large bunch of camelias, when a hard, entangled knot of flowers, hurled by some one in the street, struck me violently in the face and knocked off my mask. A loud but cutting laugh burst from the balcony above ; and as I looked up angrily to my fair ridiculer, a shower of confetti came from her hand, pelting my unprotected face and blinding my eyes. Curse the girl and the carnival ! I felt more like fighting than tossing flowers any longer, and I drove home without lifting my head for very shame and disgust. And so here goes'-and upon this he tore his mask in pieces; and starting to the other side of the room, pulled his silver-buckled slippers from his feet, drew off his crimson silk tights, put on his robe de chambre, and telling me to order Giuseppe to 'pack the things away, for he should want them no more,' entered his sleeping-room, slamming the door behind him, and I was left alone.
• Ach! wie so bald !' hummed I as I turned to the window, and leaning out, looked down upon the gay and brilliant crowd. What the fellow could mean to give up in this manner and get into such a passion, I was puzzled to know. But it was like Joe, after all. We never started out on a night-ride at college, but that he first got sleepy and would slink back into a doze and give up the driving to us; and as soon as supper and whist would come on, he would be grumbling with a head-ache, and off to bed in spite of us. But I was really sorry that his Corso career had ended thus, he had so recovered his wanton spirits and gayety, and was indeed so splendid a figure in the great mixed crowd, that I rejoiced for and was proud of him. But I knew what a welcome I should receive if I disturbed him in his sulks,' and endeavored to induce him to go out again. Liberal, generous and noble-hearted as Joe was, he could be stubborn if he would. So I stood by the window, looking down into the Corso. The great current of human but almost unreal-looking beings was flowing up and down the long, narrow street. From every window and balcony in the high houses, on either side, were hung draperies of red and white, bordered with gold. Every possible standing-place was occupied, here with the ruddy, healthy-faced Forestieri from the North, more plainly and modestly attired, but joyful in the universal merriment; and there groups of the beautiful women of Trastevere, or of the peasants from the neighboring towns, dressed in their most brilliant colors, with their rich lace crossed over the shoulders, thin, close-fitting, crimson bodice, and gold bands about the wrist, and with their clear complexions and bright, dark eyes, presenting an array of unparalleled beauty. The air was filled with white clouds of confetti, and all along the street, which resembled the interior of a vast theatre, the constant exchange of bouquets from balcony to balcony and from window to carriage presented a vista of beautifully crossing lines of flowers. It was yet about an hour before the time for the racing and the excitement growing wilder fired again my own soul. I turned from the window, and was about to rush down into the street, when the rich Spanish costume of my friend, strewn about the room, attracted my eye, and I thought again of my commonplace and undis
tinguishable domino. “Why shall I not don the Spaniard now,' thought I, and create a sensation among the fair ones ? Joe will use them no more, and he need not know if I put them on; and whạt, after all, does it matter to him ?' In a moment I had cast off my domino and began to array myself in the velvet mantle, richly embroidered jacket and silken tights, which fitted me quite as well as Joe, and were, as they could not but be on any one with tolerable figure, exceedingly becoming. I fastened the buckles over my already trembling feet, tied on my mask again, and fixing the broad hat jauntily on my head, shuffled my domino into a drawer and hastened down. As I rushed forth into the street, I felt like a new man, and knew that I attracted every eye. Seeing an empty carriage about turning off into a by-street, I mounted at once, and ordered the driver to join again the long, slow procession, which was moving in two lines up and down the Corso. My former enthusiasm was now doubled. I felt proud as a prince in my new attire, and instead of pelting the crowd promiscuously with my flowers, with a lofty discrimination I only favored the more beautiful, who always most readily exchanged with il bello Spagnuolo. Showers of bouquets fell at my feet from the windows on either side and from the passing carriages, and phrases of the sweetest flattery greeted my ear as I rode along. I forgot entirely Joe and his unhappiness, even my own change of costume, so much was my heart engaged in my present enjoyment. Basket after basket of fresh and beautiful flowers were emptied, but the store at my feet was inexhaustible. No one threw confetti at me; my rich mantle was too fine to be soiled in sport. As my carriage was approaching the Piazza Colonna, my eye was suddenly attracted to a gorgeously draped balcony on the left by a gay, melodious voice: 'Ecco, viene ancora ! il paggio mio!' Standing alone in the balcony I saw a tall Italian girl with the fairest of complexions, now indeed slightly suffused with a blush; her eyes black, brilliant, almost fiery ; her head covered with rich black lace, which fell in a large mantle and completely covered her dress. I saw a splendid jewel sparkle on her arm as she, with a glance of recognition, threw me a magnificent bouquet of red and white camellias, arranged in a thick bed of purple violets. I caught it as it fell, kissed it gallantly and placed it carefully by my side. I had but time to look back once more, kiss my hand, and see her still smiling on me, and the procession moving on, we were lost to each other in the great noisy crowd. My hand rested awhile, and flowers and salutations fell alike neglected. My heart was still glowing with that brilliant, beautiful image ; the sound of her voice shut all other from my ear. I took up the bunch of camellias, and forgetting the publicity of my situation, kissed it again and again. 'Eureka!' I shouted amid the clamor of voices. The one feature needful to the thorough enjoyment of the Carnival I had at length found— my bella donna !' The gayety, the excitement, the romance, all centred on this one object. I was impatient to pass the balcony again, and the carriages moved provokingly slow. My heart, so full of happiness, could not but show its good will toward every body, and I alternately bought flowers of one poor boy or girl and gave them to the next to sell again. I threw but few, although we had come to the narrow part of the street, near the Venetian Palace ; I only looked at my camellias and violets, and
thought of the giver. The idea suggested itself for a moment that this might be the object of Joe's passionate love. My ardor fell with the thought, and an uncomfortable perplexity of purpose troubled me. But suddenly, to my relief, I remembered that she was masked, whereas my charmer stood in her noble, queenly dignity unmasked ; nor could I conceive it possible that she would throw confetti into her adorer's eyes. My mind thus readily satisfied, I in in the most brilliant dreams of the future and plans for continuing the flirtation so finely begun. The hurry and confusion of carriages and horsemen and soldiers and maskers were at its wildest height when I again drew near the balcony of my veiled enchantress. At this moment there was some tumultuous movement in the crowd at some distance before, and the carriages stopped. Me felice! her balcony was directly above. She soon spied me, and for a moment remained leaning with most exquisite grace against the railing, her face beaming with laughter. I rosé on my feet, bowed adoringly, and selecting from my basket my most beautiful bouquet, threw it up to her. She caught it eagerly, and at once, to my surprise, almost tore it apart and searched apparently for something within it. A cloud came over her face — the smile was gone ; a stern composure, a little tinged with scorn, I thought, settled on her beautiful features. She cast a troubled glance toward me, muttered something to herself, and retired within the window. I was amazed and grieved. Was she offended at my boldness in so formally bowing to her and throwing her my finest flowers ? or, as might be possible, did she expect a note concealed in the bouquet, which indeed I had not dared to think of writing? I waited anxiously for her return. The moments seemed hours, and the noise about me, never before annoying, now seemed intolerable. At length I began to fear she would not appear again, and I felt like shouting aloud and begging her to come and allow me to ask her forgiveness if I had offended her. At length, above the roar of voices in the street, was heard the loud and deep boom of the first gun, the signal that the Corso must be cleared of carriages to make room for the horse-race. It fell like a gloomier signal on my ear, and at first I was for dismounting and awaiting on foot her return to the balcony; but a moment's reflection told me that in so wild and rude a crowd the rich costume which I wore, but which was not mine, would at least be in danger of being ruined, even though I myself could hold my place in the moving, crowding multitude, and my coachman at this moment started the horses. But just as I was seating myself in despair, I heard again the sweet voice, and turning, beheld the beautiful Italian beckoning to me, and at the same time lowering a ribbon, to which was attached a shining little package. It was too late for me to catch it, and I saw a little flower-boy snatch it rudely, who, however, before running away with it, saw the piece of silver I held out to him, and readily came and delivered it to me. It was a little box of silvered paper. I shouted back my thanks to the giver, who still stood on the balcony watching me, and gave her my a rivederla, and then eagerly opened the treasure. What was my amazement and wonder when I beheld its contents - a pen, with a sheet of notepaper, wound with a long ribbon! It explained at once most happily not only itself, but the mystery of the past. I pressed it to my heart and thanked for
tune that another happy day of carnival remained. The carriage had by this time turned into a street leading away from the Corso, and my career for the day was over. I found my way through a narrow passage to a back entrance of the house where we lived, and flushed with happy excitement, hastened up to my room. To
my relief, I must confess — for from some cause or other my conscience was hardly at ease — I found the chamber deserted. Joe had left, probably gone to see the racing. I hastily changed my clothes, and resolved for the time being to keep my story to myself.
Joe and I met at dinner. He had not entirely recovered from his ill-humor, although sufficiently to be somewhat inclined to hints and sarcasms when he saw me come in with a flushed face and noticed the excited state I was in. After indulging in friendly raillery about the delightful occupation of throwing flowers and being peppered with confetti in return, and the girlish sport of dressing in costume or hiding one's self under a domino, he broke off with asking in a more serious tone: Well now, to tell the truth, an't you satisfied by this time?'
'Not entirely, until it's all over. We do n't enjoy a carnival every year, Joe!' I replied in a tone of affected indifference.
Thanks to our land of wise institutions, that we do not,' said Joe, helping himself to a respectable-sized slice of roast-beef. “And so you are going to throw yourself into that bedlam again to-morrow, are you ? Va bene, va bene!'
I think I will, now that I've begun. You know that 's an old trick of yours, giving up in the midst of a thing. However, every man to his taste.“ I'm very sure you do n't know what - I was about to add 'you lose,' but the thought of the Spanish feathers and cloak stopped my utterance, and I consoled my grief of sympathy with my friend with the recollection that his loss was my gain ; and having come to this magnanimous conclusion, I continued my dinner in silence. It was no slight task, however, to restrain my tongue from telling Joe of my afternoon's adventures and of the flirtation, which looked to me already very desperate. It was always a weakness of mine that I must disclose every thing to the world which the world cared nothing about, and especially from Joe was it difficult to conceal any thing of real interest to myself; so long had we been boon companions, and so intimately did we know each other, that it seemed as if an experience was hardly mine until he had known and shared it. Had he not been to-night uncommonly indifferent concerning whatever had happened since his retirement from the Corso in disgust, I fear I should have told him all, and thus so changed the course of events, that I should now have no story to tell whatever. As it was, however, almost forced into silence, I remained quite speechless until dinner was over, for how ever indifferent we both might have been on the subject of the Carnival, there was surely no other topic which invited conversation ; and on reaching the Dow lighted street, I bade Joe good-night and turned hastily from him, giving him no time to ask whither I was going, and no invitation to accompany me. I felt vexed at his silence and indifference, and knew that I could not with any comfort spend the evening with him while troubled with my conflicting incli
nations to disclose my secret and to keep it, and worse than this, with his taunts and raillery. Through the strange, motley crowd, hurrying in every direction, noisy with the gay and loud songs of a single ghost-like Polincinello, or of a band of reckless Troubadours, mingled with the shouts of drivers, the rattling of wheels, the roll of drums, and the beat of the tambourine-players, who were followed or surrounded by the dancers of the Tarantella, I wended my way to the Theatre Della Valle, where that evening the 'Barbiere di Siviglia' was to be performed. In this strange, wild scene, with the stars shining brightly above me, and the brilliantly-lighted windows of the palaces on either side illuminating the street with a cheerful festive light, I felt more free and at ease. The world seemed, indeed, if not to know my feelings, to be at least in sympathy with them, and I felt like greeting the strange figures that shot by me with the rapidity and the apparent unreality of those of a magic lantern, with the customary salutation : ‘Buono Carnovale!' Hardly noticing whither my steps were leading me, but quite given up to the influence of the hour, place and scene, I found myself at length seated in the theatre, and listening to the bewitching strains of the overture to the ‘Barbiere.' I would not say that it was all and only the feeling of love that possessed me so wholly that night. Impressible as I was, the momentary vision of however beautiful a lady, without some exchange of words or some little incident or sign which would serve as a centre to build one's world of passionate remembrance, thought and feeling about, could hardly have wrought up my mind to such a pitch of excitement and uneasiness as I found myself in after that day's adventure in the Corso. It is true my heart as well as my eye was smitten by that fine, brilliant figure and face, and the recognition she gave me, as well as her meaning little gift, awoke a world of till then slumbering romance and enthusiasm ; but it was the magic power which the day — the gay, mad season of carnival — elicits, which made my heart beat with pleasant excitement, and drove me away from my unaffected friend out into the uproar of the street, and to the fascinating enchantment of the opera. Of course, when the curtain rose and the play began, I at once put myself in the place of the Count and sang the serenade at the balcony of my inamorata, the balcony being in the Corso and the fair one having cruelly retired within the window, as she was wont ; but after a while, the plot getting more complicated, and finding it impossible to make either ‘Figaro' or the ‘Dottore' of any service to me, I gradually forgot entirely my infused story, began rather to fall in love with the prima donna herself, than to adore in her the lady on the Corso; and before the first act was finished, in my interest in the opera, I quite ignored my substituted corps of performers, while the successful flirtation of the Count with Rosina drove all thought of my late mal-de-caur out of my mind. The house was full that night, and the audience noisy and inattentive. They mingled their hisses with their applause indiscriminately, and no one seemed to have come to hear the opera, but while waiting for the ballet, to amuse themselves with talking halfaloud and gazing at the brilliant and crowded tiers of boxes. Toward the close of the last act, as I was about getting a little wearied myself, my eye, wandering up the line of boxes near the stage, was suddenly attracted to the face of