Page images
PDF
EPUB

fare. Consider, besides, I beg of you, how nearly we are allied in blood: though it is a foul crime for any man to lift an unbrotherly hand against another, yet in our case it is thrice unnatural. Remember the awful curse of Cain; which for this very act will pursue you: and for your own sake as well as mine, do not incur so terrible a penalty. Think how presumptuous it is to take a life of God's own gracious creation, and to quench a spark, which, in after remorse, you cannot by any means rekindle; nay, how much more horrible it must be still, to slay an immortal soul, as you thus hazard, by sending me to my audit with all my crimes still unrepented upon my head. Look here at this very blood, which you have drawn from my hand in our struggle, how naturally it reproaches and stains you; for which reason, God doubtless made it of that blushing hue, that it might not be shed thus wantonly. This little wound alone, wrings me with more pain than I have ever caused to any living creature, but you cannot destroy me without still keener anguish and the utmost agonies.' And why, indeed, should you slay me? not for my riches, of which we have both of us more than enough, or if you wanted, Heaven knows how freely I would share my means with you. I cannot believe you so base as to murder me for such unprofitable lucre, but doubtless I have offended you, in some innocent way, to provoke this malice. If I have, I will beseech your pardon a thousand times over, from the simple love that I bear you; but do not requite me for an imaginary wrong so barbarously. Pray, my dear kinsman, spare me! Do not cut me off thus untimely in the happy prime of my days,—from the pleasant sunshine, and from the blessed delights of nature, and from my harmless books, (for he did not forget those) and all the common joys of existence. It is true, I have no dear wife or children to weep for me, but I have many kindly friends that will grieve for my death, besides all the poor peasants on my estates, who will fall, I fear, under a harder lordship. Pray, my kinsman, spare me!"

But the cruel miser, in reply, only struggled to release himself, and at last prevailing, he smote the other once or twice again with his dagger, but not dangerously.

Now it happened that the noted robber Pazzo, whom I have already mentioned, was making a round in the forest at the same time with the two kinsmen, and thanking providence, that had thrown into his path so rich a prize, (for the rogue was very devout in his own way,) he watched them along the road, for a favourable opportunity of assaulting them, and so became a witness of this murderous transaction.

Pazzo himself was a brave man, and not esDecially cruel; thus he was not sorry to see that a part of his office was about to be performed by another, and probably too, he was secretly gratified, to observe that a rich and reputable man could behave himself so like a despised robber: howbeit, he no ways interfered, but warily ambushed himself behind a large cork tree to behold the sequel.

He was near enough to hear all the speeches that passed between them, so that having still some human kindliness at the bottom of his heart, it was soon awakened by the gentleman's eloquent pleadings for his life: but when the assassin began to attack him afresh, the cruelty of the 'act struck on him so forcibly, that he instantly leaped out upon the blood-thirsty miser, and tore him down to the ground. He was then going to dispatch him without further delay, but the- generous kinsman entreating most earnestly for the wretch's life, and promising any sum for his ransom, Pazzo, with great reluctance, allowed him to remain unhurt. He bound his hands together, notwithstanding, and detained him as his prisoner; but he would accept of no money, nor of any favour from the grateful gentleman, except a promise that he would use his interest with government in behalf of any of the banditti who should fall into the hands of the police.

They then parted with mutual courtesy; the gentleman returning home, and Pazzo repairing with his captive to the mountains, where he bestowed him as a legacy to his comrades, desiring them to liberate him only for an enormous ransom. This sum was soon sent to their rendezvous, as agreed upon by his kinsman; whereupon the miser was suffered to depart; and thenceforwards he cherished a gentleness of heart, which he had been taught to value by some sufferings amongst the mountains.

As for the gentleman, he resumed his harmless and beloved studies, till being over persuaded to publish a metaphysical work, on which he had been engaged for some years, the critics did for him what his kinsman had been unable to effect, and he died of chagrin. The miser thus attained in the end to his object, of inheriting the whole of the estates; but he en

« PreviousContinue »