I stared at him with a look of wonder and inquiry. “My booby cousin is dead!” cried he, “may he rest in peace! He nearly broke his neck in a fall from his horse in a fox-chase. By good luck he lived long enough to make his will. He has made me his heir, partly out of an odd feeling of retributive justice, and partly because, as he says, none of his own family or friends know how to enjoy such an estate. I’m off to the country to take possession. I’ve done with authorship.—That for the critics!” said he, snapping his fingers. “Come down to Doubting Castle when I get settled, and egad! I’ll give you a rouse.” So saying he shook me heartily by the hand and bounded off in high spirits.
A long time elapsed before I heard from him again. Indeed, it was but a short time since that I received a letter written in the happiest of moods. He was getting the estate into fine order, everything went to his wishes, and what was more, he was married to Sacharissa: who, it seems, had always entertained an ardent though secret attachment for him, which he fortunately discovered just after coming to his estate.
“I find,” said he, “you are a little given to the sin of authorship which I renounce. If the anecdotes I have given you of my story are of any interest, you may make use of them; but come down to Doubting Castle and see how we live, and I’ll give you my whole London life over a social glass; and a rattling history it shall be about authors and reviewers.”
If ever I visit Doubting Castle, and get the history he promises, the Public shall be sure to hear of it.
THE ITALIAN BANDITTI.
Crack! crack! crack! crack! crack!
“Here comes the estafette from Naples,” said mine host of the inn at Terracina, “bring out the relay.”
The estafette came as usual galloping up the road, brandishing over his head a short-handled whip, with a long knotted lash; every smack of which made a report like a pistol. He was a tight square-set young fellow, in the customary uniform—a smart blue coat, ornamented with facings and gold lace, but so short behind as to reach scarcely below his waistband, and cocked up not unlike the tail of a wren. A cocked hat, edged with gold lace; a pair of stiff riding boots; but instead of the usual leathern breeches he had a fragment of a pair of drawers that scarcely furnished an apology for modesty to hide behind.
The estafette galloped up to the door and jumped from his horse.
“A glass of rosolio, a fresh horse, and a pair of breeches,” said he, “and quickly—I am behind my time, and must be off.”
“San Genaro!” replied the host, “why, where hast thou left thy garment?”
“Among the robbers between this and Fondi.”
“What! rob an estafette! I never heard of such folly. What could they hope to get from thee?”