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my own quite forgotten splendid enchantress. She was dressed differently, but still I recognized her at once, and as her gaze turned in a direction toward me, I felt my face blush, as though she could recognize me. She was, indeed, splendid, as she sat in the box that night in a blaze of light and in the indescribable beauty of her own grace, dignity and ever-varying expression. An opera-cloak, with white satin lining, fell over her chair behind her, while the heavy silken cord and tassel she wound and unwound about her pretty hand and arm. There was a gentleman with her- one of those dark but fairskinned Italians, with the invariable moustache, nicely trimmed hair, and an expression vivacious and intelligent, yet so like a thousand others, that it becomes wearisome and meaningless. It was perhaps for this reason— - that a gentleman was with her—that I blushed when she looked toward me, for the old song came to my mind, 'Trust her not, she's fooling thee,' and with a momentary feeling of indignation I turned again to the stage. But I found that my happy indifference, my universal satisfaction was at an end. My eyes would wander up to that box where she sat, every moment becoming more fascinating to my gaze. I remembered again every look, every smile and movement of hers in the balcony, and I soon began to watch with envy, discomfort, and at length, down-right jealousy, the easy grace, familiarity and apparent satisfaction with which she conversed with her attendant and received his attentions. The closing chorus of the opera, full as it is of happy content and good-nature, lost entirely its proper effect with me. Every thing was unharmonious and wrong. My Rosina, instead of smiling happily by my side, was flirting in yonder box, and instead of a Figaro to help me, there sat before my eyes the Italian in easy nonchalance, playing with her fan and smiling artificially at every word she uttered. I watched her constantly, till she rose to leave the box, leaning on the Italian's arm. I wondered if she remembered at all il bel Paggio and the significant gift she had lowered down to me but a few hours ago. Foolish fellow that I am! I forgot that I had no longer my fine costume on me, that it was not with me she had flirted, but only with the mask. I saw her again at the door: she brushed by me with a proud, queenly air, which made me at the same time hate and admire her. I was on the point of whispering in her ear, 'Spagnuolo,' as I could have done in the crowd without being noticed, when she threw over her pearl-entwined hair a heavy scarf and suddenly vanished from my sight. With my heart all in a glow of that strange feeling which one can hardly call sad or joyful, but which he at best would rather feel than not, I pushed through the crowd, humming, or rather singing, with the utmost pathos, the beautiful airs of the opera which still lingered in my ears. The city seemed still wide awake, though it was midnight. The Polincinelli still danced about the squares, the strange companies of dominoes strolled through the streets, chattering in broken, disguised voices. Bands of serenaders filled the long, narrow avenues with their deep, rich chorus, and all festa seemed still at its height, made all the more merry and strange by the clear, sombre star-light of mid-night and the pauses of deep silence which occasionally reigned for a short interval. I was much too wakeful to go home, and had no greater desire than before to see Joe, and accord
ingly I strolled along with the crowd, until I found myself in the Piazza della Rotunda, where the brightly illuminated panes of a little café suggested the thought of Roman beer and cigars and a mid-night study of carnival life with the Romans. I entered, and took my seat by a little round table, and lighting my cigar, looked about me upon the strangest and most amusing of all assemblies. There was a group sitting about a table, whereon were a number of tumblers filled with mixtures, hot and cold and of different colors, several individuals playing the little tinkling mandolin, and singing the interminable verses of a song, the others joining lustily in the chorus, even to the old woman who acted the 'Bottega,' and tripped about the little saloon, trying to answer fifty calls at once, and saluting every one with a benediction of some kind or other. The door was almost constantly open, and the happy, careless maskers, dancers, dominoes and mandolin-players were ever going and coming. Boys entered, dressed as girls, and girls in the full suit of armor of a young warrior of the middle ages. One pale-faced but really beautiful-featured young man rushed wildly in, in his full white-ruffled dress of the Polincinello, his hair confined in a close-fitting net, and carrying under his arm his conical hat, which he used alternately to perch steeple-like on his head and to beat his way through the crowd with. Leaping and tossing himself lightly about in his full, bag-like suit, he saluted familiarly the whole company, sipping like a bee from every one's glass, embracing affectionately the young fellows dressed as girls, and touching under the chin the pretty, delicate-limbed knights. There sat the old man with his snuff-box, and the family group, parents and children together, sipping their cups of black coffee and joining in the laughter and song and joke. Every one, on entering or leaving, wished the whole company 'Felicissima Notte,' and it seemed as though the words were accompanied with the friendly wish, indeed. Surely, thought I, this is the perfection of amusement, of holiday festival, for the poor people. How happy, how reckless with merriment they all are, and yet how good-natured, peaceable and harmless is their revelry! An hour passed rapidly away as I sat here, mingling my voice with the national songs, or rather the local songs, (there are no national songs with the Romans of this day,) watching the strange mixture of costume, age and sex, and pondering upon the elsewhere inimitable and the totally indescribable spectacle of carnival week at Rome. At length remembering that the great 'last day' had already begun, and my eyes growing heavy, I walked hurriedly down through the now comparatively deserted streets. My mind was full of confused, indistinct thoughts. I could pursue no train of thought long, so many strange, odd events crowded one upon another upon my mind. So I cheered my solitary way home with singing again the opera-airs I had heard during the evening, and I threw such passion and pathos into my voice, that one would have thought I was endeavoring to move the stars to compassionate tears. Had not such street-tragedies in a musical way been common in Italy, the nightpolice would have been aroused, I have no doubt. As it was, they probably satisfied themselves that my singing was quite harmless, and thus did not move from their dark hiding-places, and I reached my lodgings unmolested. There was no light burning; and rather than wake Joe, I hushed my singing as I
went up-stairs. I shall not soon forget how, as I lighted the lamp, my eye fell on Joe's handsome face as he lay asleep so peaceful, and unconscious of the flush of happy excitement which still glowed within me. 'Poor fellow!' thought I, 'sleep peacefully, you choose to do so, while I thus whirl through my figure in the Carnival, living the life that the Romans live, and winning the heart of a beautiful girl. Buona reposa!'
It was nearly mid-day when I waked from my sound night's rest, which was such a complete Lethe to me, that I did not even dream of Rosina and the Count, or the café revellers, or of my own inamorata, and it was only gradually and one after another that the events of the past day and night broke upon my mind. The garish light of noon-day lent a new color to that picture which had glowed so brilliantly the morning before. I only half-believed my own memory when I thought of that most dream-like scene in the café, and I was almost inclined to laugh at my own extravagant emotions and resolves which the sight of the Italian girl had aroused. I breakfasted good-naturedly with Joe; and the reason I did not then disclose to him the events of yesterday, was rather from shame than from any other feeling. The tossing of the bouquets was certainly a pleasing remembrance, but this was not all I remembered. I recalled as well the absurd fact that I had even thought I loved the girl, and that we were mutually smitten with each other. Such an idea in carnival time! What a fool I was! But alas! for the frailty of my nature. Joe told me, after finishing his breakfast, that he was going to spend the day, which was a most lovely one, in a stroll on the Appian and over the Campagna, and asked me cordially to accompany him. I was almost inclined to go with him, for an excursion together of this kind had always proved most pleasant and profitable. We would return at sun-set, just in time for the moccoletti, and thus avoid the noise and bustle of another day of carnival. I hesitated some time, and finally went to my room to prepare for the walk. But then a little accident changed my mind in a moment. My eye fell on the still beautiful bouquet of camellias which she had given me, and near it lay the little silver box. 'Surely,' thought I, 'it would be foolish not to carry on the sport a little longer; at least, I must use the gift which she so significantly gave me.' I told Joe that, after all, I must decline, though I was ashamed to tell him the reason, and so he went off alone. The riding began earlier than usual that, the last, day of carnival, and I sat in my room, hearing the rattle of wheels, the sound of gay voices, and occasional strains of music in the street, thinking over my yesterday's ride, and recalling the looks and the acts of my bella donna. My apathy and indifference rapidly passed away. My heart beat with new ardor, my ear rejoiced in the merry sounds without, and I wondered if she were now in her balcony. The windows were quickly becoming crowded with occupants; flowers and confetti began again their beautiful shower. The day itself, with its warm air and clear sky, seemed to rejoice with the gay world about me, and I became restless then, alone and inactive. I kissed again and pressed to my heart the flowers, and resolved that, foolish or wise, I would throw myself once more into the excitement of the season, and 'make hay while the sun shone.' Again I put on the hat and mantle and mask, surveyed
myself, in my rich gold-embroidered vest and tights and buckles, with delight, and at three o'clock entered my carriage and joined the slow procession which moved through the great theatre of the Corso. I sought now for one face. Flowers and salutations greeted me as before, and I knew that my fine costume made me an especial attraction, but I only wondered if she were still alone and would recognize me. It was a long time, and I had grown impatient before, in the regular route of the procession, from which no carriage could deviate, I approached her balcony.
'I gazed and gazed, but saw no sign.'
She was not there. My heart fell, and a wretched discontent came over me. I had but one hope, that I should meet her in a carriage. I scrutinized carefully each face that I passed, most of which were masked, or at least covered with a wire protection from the confetti, but I saw not the handsome, fair-complexioned face I sought, though I knew I should recognize it among a thousand. Long wagons passed me, trimmed with white cloth and festooned with leaves and flowers, in which rode many groups of ladies and gentlemen, dressed in white dominoes, the dresses of each group trimmed all with the same color, purple, blue or green. Companies of boys in sailor costume, with loose white shirt and belt and straw-hat, showered bouquets and confetti on each side as they passed along. Many of the drivers were so disguised in female costume that you would be hardly sure whether the shouting Jehu were man or woman. The horses were gayly bedecked with flowers and ribbons, often to correspond with the dress of the party riding. A continual roar of voices, the shouts of drivers, the cries of flower-venders, and the songs of walking companies of musicians, swelled along the narrow street. Bon-bons, fruits, bouquets, and little gifts of every description, lowered from the high windows on slender strings, seemed to dance about in the air, tempting the grasp of those in the street; and occasionally a white, thick cloud of pure flour would silently fall from some mischievous hand in a balcony on the unsuspecting passers beneath. Through this merry scene, which extended along the whole carriage-route, I was slowly drawn along, my eyes still eagerly watching the fair maskers. At length I recognized my inamorata in a carriage approaching me. She was indeed masked, but I could tell from her fine figure, her jeweled arm, and the motions of her features, that it was she. A gentleman was with her, who wore no mask, and I recognized him as the same who sat with her in the opera-box the night before. I thanked my stars that I was masked, for it relieved me from the embarrassment I should otherwise have felt, and gave me unlimited freedom. I stood up in the carriage and made her a low bow, throwing her a handful of loose flowers, for in my excitement and pleasant surprise I had entirely forgotten to write a note, as I had intended. She saw me just as our carriages passed, and gave me a friendly salutation, rising herself to throw flowers to me after I had passed by. As soon as the procession stopped again, as it often was obliged to, I tore a leaf from my pocket-diary and wrote as follows: A thousand thanks for your gracious kindness, but it makes me jealous to see you riding with another. Why are you not alone in your
balcony, where you can receive undisturbed the addresses of your unfaithful and devoted page?'
The carriage moved on again, but as the crowd thickened and more frequent halting was necessary, it was a long time before we met again. I hid my note in a large bouquet, and kissing my hand to her, tossed it into her carriage. I saw her catch it, take out the note and turn with a most enchanting smile upon her face, which, too, was just tinged with a blush, and kiss her beautiful hand to me in return. My heart beat with great throbs of happiness. I said to myself: 'It is no carnival game! love that splendid creature, and she knows it! Will she write me a reply to my note?' I waited in happy, eager expectation till we should meet again. Although it was still early, I feared the gun would sound and the carriages leave the Corso, and then all would be over. Then I thought of the mask-ball which was to take place in the evening, and which would end the carnival. 'If we could only meet there!' thought I.
I was still picturing to myself the delights of an event so much to be wished for, when once more I saw the carriage approaching and the lady seeking the 'Spagnuolo.' She seemed to recognize me with great joy, and to make no concealment of it from her companion. With a significant look, which her mask did not in the last hinder me from seeing and understanding, she threw me a simple bunch of violets, and was again out of my sight. I thought, as she threw it, I saw the Italian scowl slightly, but I felt quite as ready as she to disregard such expressions of his displeasure. I knew now what to do with the violets; I put my finger down into the soft nest, where I felt, firmly fastened with a pin, the hard corners of a folded note. I opened and read with delight the following, hastily written:
'I ride with this gentleman because I must; you would not have me ride alone. To-night, Box 5, 2 —
I crammed the note into my pocket and laughed aloud. What else does this mean, than fifth box, second row, to-night, at the mask-ball! Glorious night!' said I; 'how splendidly shall my carnival end!' I took no note of the maddened crowd; I saw no more of the beautiful faces and dresses and flowers. I only remember hearing the deep voice of the gun roll down the Corso through the sea of sound, when all the carriages turned in a moment from the Corso, and I, my heart beating with excitement and joy, hastened to my room.
As the second gun sounded, I was standing by my window-my Spanish costume being laid aside until evening-wiping the perspiration from my brow and enjoying the cool gentle draft of air and the gay scene in the street below. Not a carriage was now to be seen, but the street was filled with the crowded masses of human beings arrayed in every possible garb, antique and modern, ludicrous, or graceful and becoming, fearful and unearthly, rich and brilliant. The last bouquets were being thrown, the confetti showered unsparingly; window, balcony, side-walk and street were filled with this ever-moving, chattering, laughing, shouting multitude. It seemed as if that 'time for laughing' spoken of in the sacred book had come indeed; for every body seemed to indulge in the wild merriment, regardless even of life and limb. Far up the long vista I saw the body of dragoons, with shining helmets and waving plumes, rushing