A Reckless Character eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 235 pages of information about A Reckless Character.

But he was not motionless:  now he made devout obeisances and seemed to be praying, again he drew himself up to his full height, even stood on tiptoe; now he threw his hands apart in broad and measured sweep, now he waved them urgently in the direction of Muzio, and seemed to be menacing or commanding with them, as he contracted his brows in a frown and stamped his foot.  All these movements evidently cost him great effort, and even caused him suffering:  he breathed heavily, the sweat streamed from his face.  Suddenly he stood stock-still on one spot, and inhaling the air into his lungs and scowling, he stretched forward, then drew toward him his clenched fists, as though he were holding reins in them ... and to Fabio’s indescribable horror, Muzio’s head slowly separated itself from the back of the chair and reached out after the Malay’s hands....  The Malay dropped his hands, and Muzio’s head again sank heavily backward; the Malay repeated his gestures, and the obedient head repeated them after him.  The dark liquid in the cups began to seethe with a faint sound; the very cups themselves emitted a faint tinkling, and the copper snakes began to move around each of them in undulating motion.  Then the Malay advanced a pace, and elevating his eyebrows very high and opening his eyes until they were of huge size, he nodded his head at Muzio ... and the eyelids of the corpse began to flutter, parted unevenly, and from beneath them the pupils, dull as lead, revealed themselves.  With proud triumph and joy—­a joy that was almost malicious—­beamed the face of the Malay; he opened his lips widely, and from the very depths of his throat a prolonged roar wrested itself with an effort....  Muzio’s lips parted also, and a faint groan trembled on them in reply to that inhuman sound.

But at this point Fabio could endure it no longer:  he fancied that he was witnessing some devilish incantations!  He also uttered a shriek and started off at a run homeward, without looking behind him,—­homeward as fast as he could go, praying and crossing himself as he ran.

XIII

Three hours later Antonio presented himself before him with the report that everything was ready, all the things were packed, and Signor Muzio was preparing to depart.  Without uttering a word in answer to his servant, Fabio stepped out on the terrace, whence the pavilion was visible.  Several pack-horses were grouped in front of it; at the porch itself a powerful black stallion, with a roomy saddle adapted for two riders, was drawn up.  There also stood the servants with bared heads and the armed escort.  The door of the pavilion opened and, supported by the Malay, Muzio made his appearance.  His face was deathlike, and his arms hung down like those of a corpse,—­but he walked ... yes! he put one foot before the other, and once mounted on the horse, he held himself upright, and got hold of the reins by fumbling.  The Malay thrust his feet into the stirrups, sprang up behind him on the saddle, encircled his waist with his arm,—­and the whole procession set out.  The horses proceeded at a walk, and when they made the turn in front of the house, Fabio fancied that on Muzio’s dark countenance two small white patches gleamed....  Could it be that he had turned his eyes that way?—­The Malay alone saluted him ... mockingly, but as usual.

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A Reckless Character from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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