From here I could distinguish one voice after another calling in the castle. Several links appeared in the garden, and cast a weird lurid light over the old walls and down the mountain out into the black night. I commended my soul to the Almighty, for the confused uproar grew louder and nearer. At last the student, bearing aloft a torch, ran past my tree below me so fast that the skirt of his surtout flew out behind him in the wind. After this the tumult gradually retreated to the other side of the mountain; the voices sounded more and more distant, and at last the wind alone sighed through the silent forest. I then descended from my tree and ran breathless down into the valley and out into the night.
I hurried on for the rest of the night and the next day, for there was a din in my ears for a long time, as if all the people from the castle were after me, shouting, waving torches, and brandishing long knives. On the way I learned that I was only five or six miles from Rome, whereat I could have jumped for joy. As a child at home I had heard wonderful stories of gorgeous Rome, and as I lay on my back in the grass on Sunday afternoons near the mill, and everything around was so quiet, I used to picture Rome out of the clouds sailing above me, with wondrous mountains and abysses, around the blue sea, with golden gates and lofty gleaming towers, where angels in shining robes were singing.
The night had come again, and the moon shone brilliantly, when at last I emerged from the forest upon a hilltop, and saw the city lying before me in the distance. The sea gleamed afar off, the heavens glittered with innumerable stars, and beneath them lay the Holy City, a long strip of mist, like a slumbering lion on the quiet earth, watched and guarded by mountains around like shadowy giants.
I soon reached an extensive, lonely heath, where all was gray and silent as the grave. Here and there a ruined wall was still standing, or some strangely-gnarled trunk of a tree; now and then night-birds whirred through the air, and my own shadow glided long and black in the solitude beside me. They say that a primeval city lies buried here, and that Frau Venus makes it her abode, and that sometimes the old pagans rise up from their graves and wander about the heath and mislead travelers. I cared nothing, however, for such tales, but walked on steadily, for the city arose before me more and more distinct and magnificent, and the high castles and gates and golden domes gleamed wondrously in the moonlight, as if angels in golden garments were actually standing on the roofs and singing in the quiet night.
At last I passed some humble houses, and then through a gorgeous gate-way into the famous city of Rome. The moon shone bright as day among the palaces, but the streets were empty, except for some lazy fellow lying dead asleep on a marble step in the warm night air. The fountains plashed in the silent squares, and from the gardens bordering the street the trees added their murmur, and filled the air with refreshing fragrance.