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    Chapter 36

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    Chapter 36
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    CHAPTER 36
    The Carnival at Rome.

    When Franz recovered his senses, he saw Albert drinking a
    glass of water, of which, to judge from his pallor, he stood
    in great need; and the count, who was assuming his
    masquerade costume. He glanced mechanically towards the
    square -- the scene was wholly changed; scaffold,
    executioners, victims, all had disappeared; only the people
    remained, full of noise and excitement. The bell of Monte
    Citorio, which only sounds on the pope's decease and the
    opening of the Carnival, was ringing a joyous peal. "Well,"
    asked he of the count, "what has, then, happened?"

    "Nothing," replied the count; "only, as you see, the
    Carnival his commenced. Make haste and dress yourself."

    "In fact," said Franz, "this horrible scene has passed away
    like a dream."

    "It is but a dream, a nightmare, that has disturbed you."

    "Yes, that I have suffered; but the culprit?"

    "That is a dream also; only he has remained asleep, while
    you have awakened; and who knows which of you is the most
    fortunate?"

    "But Peppino -- what has become of him?"

    "Peppino is a lad of sense, who, unlike most men, who are
    happy in proportion as they are noticed, was delighted to
    see that the general attention was directed towards his
    companion. He profited by this distraction to slip away
    among the crowd, without even thanking the worthy priests
    who accompanied him. Decidedly man is an ungrateful and
    egotistical animal. But dress yourself; see, M. de Morcerf
    sets you the example." Albert was drawing on the satin
    pantaloon over his black trousers and varnished boots.
    "Well, Albert," said Franz, "do you feel much inclined to
    join the revels? Come, answer frankly."

    "Ma foi, no," returned Albert. "But I am really glad to have
    seen such a sight; and I understand what the count said --
    that when you have once habituated yourself to a similar
    spectacle, it is the only one that causes you any emotion."

    "Without reflecting that this is the only moment in which
    you can study character," said the count; "on the steps of
    the scaffold death tears off the mask that has been worn
    through life, and the real visage is disclosed. It must be
    allowed that Andrea was not very handsome, the hideous
    scoundrel! Come, dress yourselves, gentlemen, dress
    yourselves." Franz felt it would be ridiculous not to follow
    his two companions' example. He assumed his costume, and
    fastened on the mask that scarcely equalled the pallor of
    his own face. Their toilet finished, they descended; the
    carriage awaited them at the door, filled with sweetmeats
    and bouquets. They fell into the line of carriages. It is
    difficult to form an idea of the perfect change that had
    taken place. Instead of the spectacle of gloomy and silent
    death, the Piazza del Popolo presented a spectacle of gay
    and noisy mirth and revelry. A crowd of masks flowed in from
    all sides, emerging from the doors, descending from the
    windows. From every street and every corner drove carriages
    filled with clowns, harlequins, dominoes, mummers,
    pantomimists, Transteverins, knights, and peasants,
    screaming, fighting, gesticulating, throwing eggs filled
    with flour, confetti, nosegays, attacking, with their
    sarcasms and their missiles, friends and foes, companions
    and strangers, indiscriminately, and no one took offence, or
    did anything but laugh. Franz and Albert were like men who,
    to drive away a violent sorrow, have recourse to wine, and
    who, as they drink and become intoxicated, feel a thick veil
    drawn between the past and the present. They saw, or rather
    continued to see, the image of what they had witnessed; but
    little by little the general vertigo seized them, and they
    felt themselves obliged to take part in the noise and
    confusion. A handful of confetti that came from a
    neighboring carriage, and which, while it covered Morcerf
    and his two companions with dust, pricked his neck and that
    portion of his face uncovered by his mask like a hundred
    pins, incited him to join in the general combat, in which
    all the masks around him were engaged. He rose in his turn,
    and seizing handfuls of confetti and sweetmeats, with which
    the carriage was filled, cast them with all the force and
    skill he was master of.

    The strife had fairly begun, and the recollection of what
    they had seen half an hour before was gradually effaced from
    the young men's minds, so much were they occupied by the gay
    and glittering procession they now beheld. As for the Count
    of Monte Cristo, he had never for an instant shown any
    appearance of having been moved. Imagine the large and
    splendid Corso, bordered from one end to the other with
    lofty palaces, with their balconies hung with carpets, and
    their windows with flags. At these balconies are three
    hundred thousand spectators -- Romans, Italians, strangers
    from all parts of the world, the united aristocracy of
    birth, wealth, and genius. Lovely women, yielding to the
    influence of the scene, bend over their balconies, or lean
    from their windows, and shower down confetti, which are
    returned by bouquets; the air seems darkened with the
    falling confetti and flying flowers. In the streets the
    lively crowd is dressed in the most fantastic costumes --
    gigantic cabbages walk gravely about, buffaloes' heads below
    from men's shoulders, dogs walk on their hind legs; in the
    midst of all this a mask is lifted, and, as in Callot's
    Temptation of St. Anthony, a lovely face is exhibited, which
    we would fain follow, but from which we are separated by
    troops of fiends. This will give a faint idea of the
    Carnival at Rome. At the second turn the Count stopped the
    carriage, and requested permission to withdraw, leaving the
    vehicle at their disposal. Franz looked up -- they were
    opposite the Rospoli Palace. At the centre window, the one
    hung with white damask with a red cross, was a blue domino,
    beneath which Franz's imagination easily pictured the
    beautiful Greek of the Argentina. "Gentlemen," said the
    count, springing out, "when you are tired of being actors,
    and wish to become spectators of this scene, you know you
    have places at my windows. In the meantime, dispose of my
    coachman, my carriage, and my servants." We have forgotten
    to mention, that the count's coachman was attired in a
    bear-skin, exactly resembling Odry's in "The Bear and the
    Pasha;" and the two footmen behind were dressed up as green
    monkeys, with spring masks, with which they made grimaces at
    every one who passed. Franz thanked the count for his
    attention. As for Albert, he was busily occupied throwing
    bouquets at a carriage full of Roman peasants that was
    passing near him. Unfortunately for him, the line of
    carriages moved on again, and while he descended the Piazza
    del Popolo, the other ascended towards the Palazzo di
    Venezia. "Ah, my dear fellow," said he to Franz; "you did
    not see?"

    "What?"

    "There, -- that calash filled with Roman peasants."

    "No."

    "Well, I am convinced they are all charming women."

    "How unfortunate that you were masked, Albert," said Franz;
    "here was an opportunity of making up for past
    disappointments."

    "Oh," replied he, half laughing, half serious; "I hope the
    Carnival will not pass without some amends in one shape or
    the other."

    But, in spite of Albert's hope, the day passed unmarked by
    any incident, excepting two or three encounters with the
    carriage full of Roman peasants. At one of these encounters,
    accidentally or purposely, Albert's mask fell off. He
    instantly rose and cast the remainder of the bouquets into
    the carriage. Doubtless one of the charming females Albert
    had detected beneath their coquettish disguise was touched
    by his gallantry; for, as the carriage of the two friends
    passed her, she threw a bunch of violets. Albert seized it,
    and as Franz had no reason to suppose it was meant for him,
    he suffered Albert to retain it. Albert placed it in his
    button-hole, and the carriage went triumphantly on.

    "Well," said Franz to him; "there is the beginning of an
    adventure."

    "Laugh if you please -- I really think so. So I will not
    abandon this bouquet."

    "Pardieu," returned Franz, laughing, "in token of your
    ingratitude." The jest, however, soon appeared to become
    earnest; for when Albert and Franz again encountered the
    carriage with the contadini, the one who had thrown the
    violets to Albert, clapped her hands when she beheld them in
    his button-hole. "Bravo, bravo," said Franz; "things go
    wonderfully. Shall I leave you? Perhaps you would prefer
    being alone?"

    "No," replied he; "I will not be caught like a fool at a
    first disclosure by a rendezvous under the clock, as they
    say at the opera-balls. If the fair peasant wishes to carry
    matters any further, we shall find her, or rather, she will
    find us to-morrow; then she will give me some sign or other,
    and I shall know what I have to do."

    "On my word," said Franz, "you are wise as Nestor and
    prudent as Ulysses, and your fair Circe must be very skilful
    or very powerful if she succeed in changing you into a beast
    of any kind." Albert was right; the fair unknown had
    resolved, doubtless, to carry the intrigue no farther; for
    although the young men made several more turns, they did not
    again see the calash, which had turned up one of the
    neighboring streets. Then they returned to the Rospoli
    Palace; but the count and the blue domino had also
    disappeared; the two windows, hung with yellow damask, were
    still occupied by the persons whom the count had invited. At
    this moment the same bell that had proclaimed the beginning
    of the mascherata sounded the retreat. The file on the Corso
    broke the line, and in a second all the carriages had
    disappeared. Franz and Albert were opposite the Via delle
    Maratte; the coachman, without saying a word, drove up it,
    passed along the Piazza di Spagni and the Rospoli Palace and
    stopped at the door of the hotel. Signor Pastrini came to
    the door to receive his guests. Franz hastened to inquire
    after the count, and to express regret that he had not
    returned in sufficient time; but Pastrini reassured him by
    saying that the Count of Monte Cristo had ordered a second
    carriage for himself, and that it had gone at four o'clock
    to fetch him from the Rospoli Palace. The count had,
    moreover, charged him to offer the two friends the key of
    his box at the Argentina. Franz questioned Albert as to his
    intentions; but Albert had great projects to put into
    execution before going to the theatre; and instead of making
    any answer, he inquired if Signor Pastrini could procure him
    a tailor. "A tailor," said the host; "and for what?"

    "To make us between now and to-morrow two Roman peasant
    costumes," returned Albert. The host shook his head. "To
    make you two costumes between now and to-morrow? I ask your
    excellencies' pardon, but this is quite a French demand; for
    the next week you will not find a single tailor who would
    consent to sew six buttons on a waistcoat if you paid him a
    crown a piece for each button."

    "Then I must give up the idea?"

    "No; we have them ready-made. Leave all to me; and
    to-morrow, when you awake, you shall find a collection of
    costumes with which you will be satisfied."

    "My dear Albert," said Franz, "leave all to our host; he has
    already proved himself full of resources; let us dine
    quietly, and afterwards go and see 'The Algerian Captive.'"

    "Agreed," returned Albert; "but remember, Signor Pastrini,
    that both my friend and myself attach the greatest
    importance to having to-morrow the costumes we have asked
    for." The host again assured them they might rely on him,
    and that their wishes should be attended to; upon which
    Franz and Albert mounted to their apartments, and proceeded
    to disencumber themselves of their costumes. Albert, as he
    took off his dress, carefully preserved the bunch of
    violets; it was his token reserved for the morrow. The two
    friends sat down to table; but they could not refrain from
    remarking the difference between the Count of Monte Cristo's
    table and that of Signor Pastrini. Truth compelled Franz, in
    spite of the dislike he seemed to have taken to the count,
    to confess that the advantage was not on Pastrini's side.
    During dessert, the servant inquired at what time they
    wished for the carriage. Albert and Franz looked at each
    other, fearing really to abuse the count's kindness. The
    servant understood them. "His excellency the Count of Monte
    Cristo had," he said, "given positive orders that the
    carriage was to remain at their lordships' orders all day,
    and they could therefore dispose of it without fear of
    indiscretion."

    They resolved to profit by the count's courtesy, and ordered
    the horses to be harnessed, while they substituted evening
    dress for that which they had on, and which was somewhat the
    worse for the numerous combats they had sustained. This
    precaution taken, they went to the theatre, and installed
    themselves in the count's box. During the first act, the
    Countess G---- entered. Her first look was at the box where
    she had seen the count the previous evening, so that she
    perceived Franz and Albert in the place of the very person
    concerning whom she had expressed so strange an opinion to
    Franz. Her opera-glass was so fixedly directed towards them,
    that Franz saw it would be cruel not to satisfy her
    curiosity; and, availing himself of one of the privileges of
    the spectators of the Italian theatres, who use their boxes
    to hold receptions, the two friends went to pay their
    respects to the countess. Scarcely had they entered, when
    she motioned to Franz to assume the seat of honor. Albert,
    in his turn, sat behind.

    "Well," said she, hardly giving Franz time to sit down, "it
    seems you have nothing better to do than to make the
    acquaintance of this new Lord Ruthven, and you are already
    the best friends in the world."

    "Without being so far advanced as that, my dear countess,"
    returned Franz, "I cannot deny that we have abused his good
    nature all day."

    "All day?"

    "Yes; this morning we breakfasted with him; we rode in his
    carriage all day, and now we have taken possession of his
    box."

    "You know him, then?"

    "Yes, and no."

    "How so?"

    "It is a long story."

    'Tell it to me."

    "It would frighten you too much."

    "So much the more reason."

    "At least wait until the story has a conclusion."

    "Very well; I prefer complete histories; but tell me how you
    made his acquaintance? Did any one introduce you to him?"

    "No; it was he who introduced himself to us."

    "When?"

    "Last night, after we left you."

    "Through what medium?"

    "The very prosaic one of our landlord."

    "He is staying, then, at the Hotel de Londres with you?"

    "Not only in the same hotel, but on the same floor."

    "What is his name -- for, of course, you know?"

    "The Count of Monte Cristo."

    "That is not a family name?"

    "No, it is the name of the island he has purchased."

    "And he is a count?"

    "A Tuscan count."

    "Well, we must put up with that," said the countess, who was
    herself from one of the oldest Venetian families. "What sort
    of a man is he?"

    "Ask the Vicomte de Morcerf."

    "You hear, M. de Morcerf, I am referred to you," said the
    countess.

    "We should be very hard to please, madam," returned Albert,
    "did we not think him delightful. A friend of ten years'
    standing could not have done more for us, or with a more
    perfect courtesy."

    "Come," observed the countess, smiling, "I see my vampire is
    only some millionaire, who has taken the appearance of Lara
    in order to avoid being confounded with M. de Rothschild;
    and you have seen her?"

    "Her?"

    "The beautiful Greek of yesterday."

    "No; we heard, I think, the sound of her guzla, but she
    remained perfectly invisible."

    "When you say invisible," interrupted Albert, "it is only to
    keep up the mystery; for whom do you take the blue domino at
    the window with the white curtains?"

    "Where was this window with white hangings?" asked the
    countess.

    "At the Rospoli Palace."

    "The count had three windows at the Rospoli Palace?"

    "Yes. Did you pass through the Corso?"

    "Yes."

    "Well, did you notice two windows hung with yellow damask,
    and one with white damask with a red cross? Those were the
    count's windows?"

    "Why, he must be a nabob. Do you know what those three
    windows were worth?"

    "Two or three hundred Roman crowns?"

    "Two or three thousand."

    "The deuce."

    "Does his island produce him such a revenue?"

    "It does not bring him a baiocco."

    "Then why did he purchase it?"

    "For a whim."

    "He is an original, then?"

    "In reality," observed Albert, "he seemed to me somewhat
    eccentric; were he at Paris, and a frequenter of the
    theatres, I should say he was a poor devil literally mad.
    This morning he made two or three exits worthy of Didier or
    Anthony." At this moment a fresh visitor entered, and,
    according to custom, Franz gave up his seat to him. This
    circumstance had, moreover, the effect of changing the
    conversation; an hour afterwards the two friends returned to
    their hotel. Signor Pastrini had already set about procuring
    their disguises for the morrow; and he assured them that
    they would be perfectly satisfied. The next morning, at nine
    o'clock, he entered Franz's room, followed by a tailor, who
    had eight or ten Roman peasant costumes on his arm; they
    selected two exactly alike, and charged the tailor to sew on
    each of their hats about twenty yards of ribbon, and to
    procure them two of the long silk sashes of different colors
    with which the lower orders decorate themselves on
    fete-days. Albert was impatient to see how he looked in his
    new dress -- a jacket and breeches of blue velvet, silk
    stockings with clocks, shoes with buckles, and a silk
    waistcoat. This picturesque attire set him off to great
    advantage; and when he had bound the scarf around his waist,
    and when his hat, placed coquettishly on one side, let fall
    on his shoulder a stream of ribbons, Franz was forced to
    confess that costume has much to do with the physical
    superiority we accord to certain nations. The Turks used to
    be so picturesque with their long and flowing robes, but are
    they not now hideous with their blue frocks buttoned up to
    the chin, and their red caps, which make them look like a
    bottle of wine with a red seal? Franz complimented Albert,
    who looked at himself in the glass with an unequivocal smile
    of satisfaction. They were thus engaged when the Count of
    Monte Cristo entered.

    "Gentlemen," said he, "although a companion is agreeable,
    perfect freedom is sometimes still more agreeable. I come to
    say that to-day, and for the remainder of the Carnival, I
    leave the carriage entirely at your disposal. The host will
    tell you I have three or four more, so that you will not
    inconvenience me in any way. Make use of it, I pray you, for
    your pleasure or your business."

    The young men wished to decline, but they could find no good
    reason for refusing an offer which was so agreeable to them.
    The Count of Monte Cristo remained a quarter of an hour with
    them, conversing on all subjects with the greatest ease. He
    was, as we have already said, perfectly well acquainted with
    the literature of all countries. A glance at the walls of
    his salon proved to Franz and Albert that he was a
    connoisseur of pictures. A few words he let fall showed them
    that he was no stranger to the sciences, and he seemed much
    occupied with chemistry. The two friends did not venture to
    return the count the breakfast he had given them; it would
    have been too absurd to offer him in exchange for his
    excellent table the very inferior one of Signor Pastrini.
    They told him so frankly, and he received their excuses with
    the air of a man who appreciated their delicacy. Albert was
    charmed with the count's manners, and he was only prevented
    from recognizing him for a perfect gentleman by reason of
    his varied knowledge. The permission to do what he liked
    with the carriage pleased him above all, for the fair
    peasants had appeared in a most elegant carriage the
    preceding evening, and Albert was not sorry to be upon an
    equal footing with them. At half-past one they descended,
    the coachman and footman had put on their livery over their
    disguises, which gave them a more ridiculous appearance than
    ever, and which gained them the applause of Franz and
    Albert. Albert had fastened the faded bunch of violets to
    his button-hole. At the first sound of the bell they
    hastened into the Corso by the Via Vittoria. At the second
    turn, a bunch of fresh violets, thrown from a carriage
    filled with harlequins, indicated to Albert that, like
    himself and his friend, the peasants had changed their
    costume, also; and whether it was the result of chance, or
    whether a similar feeling had possessed them both, while he
    had changed his costume they had assumed his.

    Albert placed the fresh bouquet in his button-hole, but he
    kept the faded one in his hand; and when he again met the
    calash, he raised it to his lips, an action which seemed
    greatly to amuse not only the fair lady who had thrown it,
    but her joyous companions also. The day was as gay as the
    preceding one, perhaps even more animated and noisy; the
    count appeared for an instant at his window. but when they
    again passed he had disappeared. It is almost needless to
    say that the flirtation between Albert and the fair peasant
    continued all day. In the evening, on his return, Franz
    found a letter from the embassy, informing him that he would
    have the honor of being received by his holiness the next
    day. At each previous visit he had made to Rome, he had
    solicited and obtained the same favor; and incited as much
    by a religious feeling as by gratitude, he was unwilling to
    quit the capital of the Christian world without laying his
    respectful homage at the feet of one of St. Peter's
    successors who has set the rare example of all the virtues.
    He did not then think of the Carnival, for in spite of his
    condescension and touching kindness, one cannot incline
    one's self without awe before the venerable and noble old
    man called Gregory XVI. On his return from the Vatican,
    Franz carefully avoided the Corso; he brought away with him
    a treasure of pious thoughts, to which the mad gayety of the
    maskers would have been profanation. At ten minutes past
    five Albert entered overjoyed. The harlequin had reassumed
    her peasant's costume, and as she passed she raised her
    mask. She was charming. Franz congratulated Albert, who
    received his congratulations with the air of a man conscious
    that they are merited. He had recognized by certain
    unmistakable signs, that his fair incognita belonged to the
    aristocracy. He had made up his mind to write to her the
    next day. Franz remarked, while he gave these details, that
    Albert seemed to have something to ask of him, but that he
    was unwilling to ask it. He insisted upon it, declaring
    beforehand that he was willing to make any sacrifice the
    other wished. Albert let himself be pressed just as long as
    friendship required, and then avowed to Franz that he would
    do him a great favor by allowing him to occupy the carriage
    alone the next day. Albert attributed to Franz's absence the
    extreme kindness of the fair peasant in raising her mask.
    Franz was not sufficiently egotistical to stop Albert in the
    middle of an adventure that promised to prove so agreeable
    to his curiosity and so flattering to his vanity. He felt
    assured that the perfect indiscretion of his friend would
    duly inform him of all that happened; and as, during three
    years that he had travelled all over Italy, a similar piece
    of good fortune had never fallen to his share, Franz was by
    no means sorry to learn how to act on such an occasion. He
    therefore promised Albert that he would content himself the
    morrow with witnessing the Carnival from the windows of the
    Rospoli Palace.

    The next morning he saw Albert pass and repass, holding an
    enormous bouquet, which he doubtless meant to make the
    bearer of his amorous epistle. This belief was changed into
    certainty when Franz saw the bouquet (conspicuous by a
    circle of white camellias) in the hand of a charming
    harlequin dressed in rose-colored satin. The evening was no
    longer joy, but delirium. Albert nothing doubted but that
    the fair unknown would reply in the same manner. Franz
    anticipated his wishes by saying that the noise fatigued
    him, and that he should pass the next day in writing and
    looking over his journal. Albert was not deceived, for the
    next evening Franz saw him enter triumphantly shaking a
    folded paper which he held by one corner. "Well," said he,
    "was I mistaken?"

    "She has answered you!" cried Franz.

    "Read." This word was pronounced in a manner impossible to
    describe. Franz took the letter, and read: --

    Tuesday evening, at seven o'clock, descend from your
    carriage opposite the Via dei Pontefici, and follow the
    Roman peasant who snatches your torch from you. When you
    arrive at the first step of the church of San Giacomo, be
    sure to fasten a knot of rose-colored ribbons to the
    shoulder of your harlequin costume, in order that you may be
    recognized. Until then you will not see me.

    Constancy and Discretion.

    "Well," asked he, when Franz had finished, "what do you
    think of that?"

    "I think that the adventure is assuming a very agreeable
    appearance."

    "I think so, also," replied Albert; "and I very much fear
    you will go alone to the Duke of Bracciano's ball." Franz
    and Albert had received that morning an invitation from the
    celebrated Roman banker. "Take care, Albert," said Franz.
    "All the nobility of Rome will be present, and if your fair
    incognita belong to the higher class of society, she must go
    there."

    "Whether she goes there or not, my opinion is still the
    same," returned Albert. "You have read the letter?"

    "Yes."

    "You know how imperfectly the women of the mezzo cito are
    educated in Italy?" (This is the name of the lower class.)

    "Yes."

    "Well, read the letter again. Look at the writing, and find
    if you can, any blemish in the language or orthography."
    (The writing was, in reality, charming, and the orthography
    irreproachable.) "You are born to good fortune," said Franz,
    as he returned the letter.

    "Laugh as much as you will," replied Albert, "I am in love."

    "You alarm me," cried Franz. "I see that I shall not only go
    alone to the Duke of Bracciano's, but also return to
    Florence alone."

    "If my unknown be as amiable as she is beautiful," said
    Albert, "I shall fix myself at Rome for six weeks, at least.
    I adore Rome, and I have always had a great taste for
    archaeology."

    "Come, two or three more such adventures, and I do not
    despair of seeing you a member of the Academy." Doubtless
    Albert was about to discuss seriously his right to the
    academic chair when they were informed that dinner was
    ready. Albert's love had not taken away his appetite. He
    hastened with Franz to seat himself, free to recommence the
    discussion after dinner. After dinner, the Count of Monte
    Cristo was announced. They had not seen him for two days.
    Signor Pastrini informed them that business had called him
    to Civita Vecchia. He had started the previous evening, and
    had only returned an hour since. He was charming. Whether he
    kept a watch over himself, or whether by accident he did not
    sound the acrimonious chords that in other circumstances had
    been touched, he was to-night like everybody else. The man
    was an enigma to Franz. The count must feel sure that Franz
    recognized him; and yet he had not let fall a single word
    indicating any previous acquaintance between them. On his
    side, however great Franz's desire was to allude to their
    former interview, the fear of being disagreeable to the man
    who had loaded him and his friend with kindness prevented
    him from mentioning it. The count had learned that the two
    friends had sent to secure a box at the Argentina Theatre,
    and were told they were all let. In consequence, he brought
    them the key of his own -- at least such was the apparent
    motive of his visit. Franz and Albert made some difficulty,
    alleging their fear of depriving him of it; but the count
    replied that, as he was going to the Palli Theatre, the box
    at the Argentina Theatre would he lost if they did not
    profit by it. This assurance determined the two friends to
    accept it.

    Franz had by degrees become accustomed to the count's
    pallor, which had so forcibly struck him at their first
    meeting. He could not refrain from admiring the severe
    beauty of his features, the only defect, or rather the
    principal quality of which was the pallor. Truly, a Byronic
    hero! Franz could not, we will not say see him, but even
    think of him without imagining his stern head upon Manfred's
    shoulders, or beneath Lara's helmet. His forehead was marked
    with the line that indicates the constant presence of bitter
    thoughts; he had the fiery eyes that seem to penetrate to
    the very soul, and the haughty and disdainful upper lip that
    gives to the words it utters a peculiar character that
    impresses them on the minds of those to whom they are
    addressed. The count was no longer young. He was at least
    forty; and yet it was easy to understand that he was formed
    to rule the young men with whom he associated at present.
    And, to complete his resemblance with the fantastic heroes
    of the English poet, the count seemed to have the power of
    fascination. Albert was constantly expatiating on their good
    fortune in meeting such a man. Franz was less enthusiastic;
    but the count exercised over him also the ascendency a
    strong mind always acquires over a mind less domineering. He
    thought several times of the project the count had of
    visiting Paris; and he had no doubt but that, with his
    eccentric character, his characteristic face, and his
    colossal fortune, he would produce a great effect there. And
    yet he did not wish to be at Paris when the count was there.
    The evening passed as evenings mostly pass at Italian
    theatres; that is, not in listening to the music, but in
    paying visits and conversing. The Countess G---- wished to
    revive the subject of the count, but Franz announced he had
    something far newer to tell her, and, in spite of Albert's
    demonstrations of false modesty, he informed the countess of
    the great event which had preoccupied them for the last
    three days. As similar intrigues are not uncommon in Italy,
    if we may credit travellers, the comtess did not manifest
    the least incredulity, but congratulated Albert on his
    success. They promised, upon separating, to meet at the Duke
    of Bracciano's ball, to which all Rome was invited. The
    heroine of the bouquet kept her word; she gave Albert no
    sign of her existence the morrow or the day after.

    At length Tuesday came, the last and most tumultuous day of
    the Carnival. On Tuesday, the theatres open at ten o'clock
    in the morning, as Lent begins after eight at night. On
    Tuesday, all those who through want of money, time, or
    enthusiasm, have not been to see the Carnival before, mingle
    in the gayety, and contribute to the noise and excitement.
    From two o'clock till five Franz and Albert followed in the
    fete, exchanging handfuls of confetti with the other
    carriages and the pedestrians, who crowded amongst the
    horses' feet and the carriage wheels without a single
    accident, a single dispute, or a single fight. The fetes are
    veritable pleasure days to the Italians. The author of this
    history, who has resided five or six years in Italy, does
    not recollect to have ever seen a ceremony interrupted by
    one of those events so common in other countries. Albert was
    triumphant in his harlequin costume. A knot of rose-colored
    ribbons fell from his shoulder almost to the ground. In
    order that there might be no confusion, Franz wore his
    peasant's costume.

    As the day advanced, the tumult became greater. There was
    not on the pavement, in the carriages, at the windows, a
    single tongue that was silent, a single arm that did not
    move. It was a human storm, made up of a thunder of cries,
    and a hail of sweetmeats, flowers, eggs, oranges, and
    nosegays. At three o'clock the sound of fireworks, let off
    on the Piazza del Popolo and the Piazza di Venezia (heard
    with difficulty amid the din and confusion) announced that
    the races were about to begin. The races, like the moccoli,
    are one of the episodes peculiar to the last days of the
    Carnival. At the sound of the fireworks the carriages
    instantly broke ranks, and retired by the adjacent streets.
    All these evolutions are executed with an inconceivable
    address and marvellous rapidity, without the police
    interfering in the matter. The pedestrians ranged themselves
    against the walls; then the trampling of horses and the
    clashing of steel were heard. A detachment of carbineers,
    fifteen abreast, galloped up the Corso in order to clear it
    for the barberi. When the detachment arrived at the Piazza
    di Venezia, a second volley of fireworks was discharged, to
    announce that the street was clear. Almost instantly, in the
    midst of a tremendous and general outcry, seven or eight
    horses, excited by the shouts of three hundred thousand
    spectators, passed by like lightning. Then the Castle of
    Saint Angelo fired three cannon to indicate that number
    three had won. Immediately, without any other signal, the
    carriages moved on, flowing on towards the Corso, down all
    the streets, like torrents pent up for a while, which again
    flow into the parent river; and the immense stream again
    continued its course between its two granite banks.

    A new source of noise and movement was added to the crowd.
    The sellers of moccoletti entered on the scene. The moccoli,
    or moccoletti, are candles which vary in size from the
    pascal taper to the rushlight, and which give to each actor
    in the great final scene of the Carnival two very serious
    problems to grapple with, -- first, how to keep his own
    moccoletto alight; and secondly, how to extinguish the
    moccoletti of others. The moccoletto is like life: man has
    found but one means of transmitting it, and that one comes
    from God. But he has discovered a thousand means of taking
    it away, and the devil has somewhat aided him. The
    moccoletto is kindled by approaching it to a light. But who
    can describe the thousand means of extinguishing the
    moccoletto? -- the gigantic bellows, the monstrous
    extinguishers, the superhuman fans. Every one hastened to
    purchase moccoletti -- Franz and Albert among the rest.

    The night was rapidly approaching; and already, at the cry
    of "Moccoletti!" repeated by the shrill voices of a thousand
    vendors, two or three stars began to burn among the crowd.
    It was a signal. At the end of ten minutes fifty thousand
    lights glittered, descending from the Palazzo di Venezia to
    the Piazza del Popolo, and mounting from the Piazzo del
    Popolo to the Palazzo di Venezia. It seemed like the fete of
    jack-o'-lanterns. It is impossible to form any idea of it
    without having seen it. Suppose that all the stars had
    descended from the sky and mingled in a wild dance on the
    face of the earth; the whole accompanied by cries that were
    never heard in any other part of the world. The facchino
    follows the prince, the Transteverin the citizen, every one
    blowing, extinguishing, relighting. Had old AEolus appeared
    at this moment, he would have been proclaimed king of the
    moccoli, and Aquilo the heir-presumptive to the throne. This
    battle of folly and flame continued for two hours; the Corso
    was light as day; the features of the spectators on the
    third and fourth stories were visible. Every five minutes
    Albert took out his watch; at length it pointed to seven.
    The two friends were in the Via dei Pontefici. Albert sprang
    out, bearing his moccoletto in his hand. Two or three masks
    strove to knock his moccoletto out of his hand; but Albert,
    a first-rate pugilist, sent them rolling in the street, one
    after the other, and continued his course towards the church
    of San Giacomo. The steps were crowded with masks, who
    strove to snatch each other's torches. Franz followed Albert
    with his eyes, and saw him mount the first step. Instantly a
    mask, wearing the well-known costume of a peasant woman,
    snatched his moccoletto from him without his offering any
    resistance. Franz was too far off to hear what they said;
    but, without doubt, nothing hostile passed, for he saw
    Albert disappear arm-in-arm with the peasant girl. He
    watched them pass through the crowd for some time, but at
    length he lost sight of them in the Via Macello. Suddenly
    the bell that gives the signal for the end of the carnival
    sounded, and at the same instant all the moccoletti were
    extinguished as if by enchantment. It seemed as though one
    immense blast of the wind had extinguished every one. Franz
    found himself in utter darkness. No sound was audible save
    that of the carriages that were carrying the maskers home;
    nothing was visible save a few lights that burnt behind the
    windows. The Carnival was over.
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    Chapter 36
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