‘Nothing new, dear countess. In truth I believe there was a plot against Antelminelli, and that some of the Obizzi were concerned in it. But Castruccio examines nothing; and, including us all in one general sentence, has wrapt us like a whirlwind, and carries us, God alone knows whither. And my poor father! I threw myself at the consul’s feet; yes, I, the wife of the proud Galeotto Obizzi, and prayed that my poor father might be allowed to remain.’

‘And he refused?’

‘He said, “You have heard the sentence; he best knows whether he be implicated in it; I have sworn by God and St Martin that this nest of Guelphs and Neri shall be rooted out of Lucca, and that the will of the senate shall be obeyed. Let him look to it; for after three hours the life of a partizan of the Obizzi will be held no dearer than the earth on which I tread.” ’

‘Castruccio said this? Did he answer you thus, Teresa?’

‘He did, dear Euthanasia; but I must away; I came to bid you farewel,—a long farewel; my father and my husband wait for me; pray God to pity us;—farewel!’

‘Not so, Teresa. This castle is not his, and may afford an asylum to his victims. Come here; repose here awhile at least. Bring your father, your babes; come and teach me what sorrow is, and learn from me to bear it with fortitude.’

As the evening advanced, others of her friends arrived, and confirmed all that Euthanasia had before heard. She was confounded, and unable to believe that it was indeed Castruccio who had caused these evils. Whence arose this sudden change in his character? Yet, was it sudden? or, was there indeed any change? She remembered words and looks, before forgotten, which told her that what now took place was the offspring of deep thought and a prepared scheme. Yet again, unable to believe the full extent of the evil that she heard, she sent to Lucca to intreat Arrigo Guinigi to hasten to her. Arrigo was with Castruccio when the message came.

‘Go, my dear boy,’ said the latter; ‘her woman’s heart trembles perhaps at this day’s work. Shew her the necessity of it; and make her think as little unkindly of me as you can. Notwithstanding her coldness and perplexing ideas about duty, I love her, and must not have her be my enemy. If she would be content with any thing except the peace with Florence for her morgincap, all my power and possessions were at her feet1.’

Arrigo went to Valperga: Euthanasia saw him alone; and, pale and almost breathless, she asked what had caused this change, and whether he knew what the schemes of Castruccio were?

‘Indeed, Madonna,’ replied Arrigo, ‘I do not; I believe that he aims only at the security of his own state; and many of those he has exiled had plotted against his government.’

‘It is possible; tyrants ever have enemies; but it were as well to raze the city, as to banish all her citizens. There cannot be less than a thousand souls included in his edict; women and infants, torn from all the comforts, all the necessaries of daily life, cast upon the world to weep and call down curses on him. What does he mean?’

‘He suspects all whom he has banished, and has strong secret reasons for his conduct; of that, Euthanasia, you may be sure. When I asked him why he banished so many of his fellow-citizens, he replied laughing, “Because this city is not big enough for them and me.” And then he told me seriously, that his life was alone preserved by the vigorous measures of this morning.’

‘Be it so; I wish I could believe him; I do indeed trust that there is nothing wanton in his severity; yet methinks he had better have banished himself, than so many families, who now go as beggars through the world.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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