Chapter 12

Peace between Lucca and Florence.—Bindo.

The ill news had travelled fast; and Euthanasia knew of the imprisonment of Castruccio the same evening that it had taken place. Well acquainted with the cruel policy of the Faggiuola family and in particular with the dastard ferocity of Ranieri, her fears were wound up to an agonizing height: more unhappy than the prisoner himself, she slept not, nor did she seek sleep; but her thoughts were bent on the consideration of whether she were able in any manner to assist her friend. She resolved at least to employ all the influence her possessions and connexions gave her, to arrest the hand of the murderer.

Early in the morning young Guinigi arrived at the castle. If Arrigo admired Castruccio, he adored Euthanasia; her sex and beauty might well have a powerful effect on his youthful heart, and her simplicity and purity were more calculated to influence his inexperienced but active understanding, than the more studied courtesies of Castruccio. Her pale cheek and heavy eyes indicated the anxious thoughts that beset her; and Arrigo hastened to tranquillize them. ‘Fear not,’ he said, ‘he shall not, he cannot die. His friends watch over him; and Ranieri has by this time learned, that he is more a prisoner among the guards in his palace, than Castruccio chained in his dungeon.’

He then detailed the plans of the Ghibeline party for the deliverance of their chief; and, having somewhat calmed the uneasiness of the countess, he returned with haste to his post at Lucca.

Euthanasia passed an anxious day. She was alone; if one may be called alone, whose thoughts descended not to the calm of solitary meditation, but were actively engaged in the imagination of events passing but a few miles distant. It was a warm April day, but sunless: for the Libeccio had veiled the blue heavens with clouds which seemed to press down the atmosphere, that unmoved by any breeze appeared even by its weight to encumber the flowers, and to destroy all elasticity either in vegetable or animal life. Poor Euthanasia walked restlessly on the plot of ground before the gate of her castle; and her languid eyes, bent towards Lucca, were able to discern objects afar off, sharpened as their sight was by love and fear. In the afternoon she saw a band of soldiers ride along the road beneath the rock on which her castle was built, directing their course towards the northern mountains. She thought that she could distinguish the uncouth figure of Uguccione in the tallest among the horsemen who led the troop; while in the rear she felt sure that she beheld the form of Ranieri.

Her heart was now relived from many of its fears; and she watched with greater calmness the fading hues of sunset, and the moon, now but a day older than when Castruccio had foretold the overthrow of the tyrant. She had a favourite retreat near a spring that issued from the rock behind her castle. The mountain was almost perpendicular from which it gushed; but a rude flight of steps had been cut, by which she ascended to it through a postern. The spring rose from a rift above, and fell first on a narrow rocky platform about seventy steps above the castle. Euthanasia had caused a basin to be scooped here for the reception of the water, and had covered it with a light portico, supported by fluted columns of the Etruscan order made of the finest marble; a few mossy seats surrounded the fountain. The rock shaded her as she sat, on whose stony face grew nothing but heath, and such shrubs as seem to find nutriment and growth in stone itself; but the top was crowned by ilex trees and stunted myrtle underwood. Thither she now retired, and watched the coming night; when suddenly she thought she heard a rustling above her, and a small bunch of myrtle fell on her lap; she looked up; and, gazing earnestly, perceived Castruccio, with one hand grasping a myrtle shrub, leaning from the summit of the precipice.

‘Euthanasia!—Victory!’ he cried.

‘Victory and security!’ she repeated with a deep sigh of joy.

‘And glory, and all the blessings of Heaven!’ he replied. She answered, but he was far above, and could scarcely hear the words she spoke; he threw another sprig of myrtle, and said, ‘To-morrow!’ and retreated. She continued to look upwards to the spot where he had leaned; the rustling of the leaves was still—the myrtles that had bent as he leaned upon them, slowly upraised themselves—yet still she thought that

  By PanEris using Melati.

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