The good Romans therefore turned away from this garden, which threatened them with a tax, and sought other places of recreation; while old Count Appiani sold his garden and the ruins of his villa to the rich stranger who had offered him so considerable a sum for them. From that day forward every thing in the garden had assumed a different appearance. Masons, carpenters, and upholsterers had come and so improved the villa, within and without, that it now made a stately and beautiful appearance amid the dense foliage of the trees. It had been expensively and splendidly furnished with every thing desirable for a rich man’s dwelling, and the upholsterers had enough to relate to the listening Romans of the elegant magnificence now displayed in this formerly pitiable villa. How gladly would the former promenaders now have returned to this garden; how gladly would they now have revisited this villa, which, with its deserted halls and its ragged and dirty tapestry, had formerly seemed to them not worth looking at! But their return to it was now rendered impossible; for on the same day in which the new owner took possession of the garden, he had brought with him more than fifty workmen, who had immediately commenced surrounding it with a high wall.
Higher and higher rose the wall; nobody could see over it, as no giant was sufficiently tall; no one could climb over it, as the smoothly-hammered stones of which it was built offered not the least supporting point. The garden with its villa had become a secret mystery to the Romans! They yet heard the rustling of the trees, they saw the green branches waving in the wind; but of what occurred under those branches and in those shaded walks they could know nothing. At first, some curious individuals had ventured to knock at the low, narrow door that formed the only entrance into this walled garden. They had knocked at that door and demanded entrance. Then would a small sliding window be opened, and a gruff, bearded man with angry voice would ask what was wanted, and at the same time inform the knocker that no one could be admitted; that he and his two bulldogs would be able to keep the garden clear of all intruders. And the two great hounds, as if they understood the threats of their master, would show their teeth, and their threatening growl would rise to a loud and angry bark.
They soon ceased to knock at that door, and, as they could not gain admission, they took the next best course, of assuming the appearance of not wishing it.
Four years had since passed; they had overcome the desire to enter the premises or to look over the wall, but they told wondrous tales of the garden and of a beautiful fairy who dwelt in it, and whose soft, melodious voice was sometimes heard in the stillness of the night singing sweet, transporting songs. No one had seen her, this fairy, but she was certainly beautiful, and of course young; there were also some bold individuals who asserted that when the moon shone