The Daughter of an Empress eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 348 pages of information about The Daughter of an Empress.

“But that is exactly what you do,” gently replied Ganganelli.  “All the streets of Rome bear witness to it.  Did you not yesterday, in one of those streets, with force and arms rescue a bandit from the hands of justice, and with your murderous dagger take the life of the servant of the law?”

“They wanted to lead one of my servants to death, who had done nothing more than obey my commands,” vehemently responded the cardinal.  “I liberated him from their hands as was natural; and if some of the sbirri were killed in the encounter, that was their fault.  Why did they not voluntarily give up their prisoner and then run away?”

“And was it really your command that this bandit fulfilled?” asked the pope, shuddering.  “You know he killed a young nobleman, the pride and hope of his family, and was caught in the act, which he did not attempt to deny?”

“That young nobleman had mocked and made a laughing-stock of me in a public company,” calmly replied the cardinal; “hence it was natural that he must die.  Revenge is the first duty of man, and whoever neglects to take it is dishonored!”

“And such men dare to call themselves Christians!” exclaimed Ganganelli, with uplifted arms—­“and such men call themselves priests of the religion of love!”

“I am a priest of love!” said Albani.

“But of what love?” responded the pope, with an appearance of agitation—­“the priest of a wild, beastly passion, of a rough animal inclination.  You know nothing of the soft and silent love that ennobles the heart and strengthens it for holy resolutions; which inculcates virtue and decency, and lifts up the eyes to heaven—­of that love which is full of consolation and blessed hope, and desires nothing for itself.”

“God save me from such a love!” said the cardinal, crossing himself.  “When I love, I desire much, and of virtue and perfection there is, thank God, no question.”

“Repent, amend, Francesco,” said the pope.  “I promised your uncle, the very worthy Cardinal Alessandro Albani, once more to attempt the course of mildness, and exhort you to return to the path of virtue.  Ah, could you have seen the poor old man, with tears streaming from his blind eyes—­tears of sorrow for you, whom he called his lost son!”

“My uncle did very wrong so to weep,” said the cardinal.  “Blind as he was he yet kept a mistress.  How, then, can he wonder that I, who can see, kept several?  Two eyes see more than none; that is natural!”

“But do you, then, so wholly forget your solemn oath of chastity and virtue?” excitedly exclaimed the pope.  “Look upon the cross that covers your breast, and fall upon your knees to implore the pardon of God.”

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The Daughter of an Empress from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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