An approaching bustling, a vehement calling and screaming, disturbed the two old men. It was Lorenzo who was called, and he quickly glided through the bushes to look after the cause of this disturbance. But soon he returned with a melancholy face and depressed mien.
“Brother Clement,” said he, “it is already all over with our enjoyment, which has been so great for me that I forgot to remind you that the pope cannot neglect the hour in which he gives audience. That hour has now come, and your anteroom is already filled with princes and prelates.”
“And yet you speak of the great happiness of being pope,” said Ganganelli, rising with a sigh from the grassy bank. “I am not allowed an hour for recreation, and yet people think—but no,” said Ganganelli, interrupting himself and laughing, “we should not be ungrateful, and it would be ungrateful for me now to complain. If I have not had an hour for recreation, well, I have had half an hour, and even that is much!”
And, beckoning to brother Lorenzo to follow him, the pope crept through the bushes that separated the place from the more frequented part of the garden.
As he then walked up the grand alley, his face and his whole form assumed a very different appearance. The mild friendliness had vanished from his features, pride and dignity were now expressed by them, and his tall, erect form had in it something noble and imposing; it was no longer the stooping form of age, but only that of a somewhat elderly hero. The brother Clement had been transformed into the prince of the Church, who was about to receive his vassals.
They now saw a tall, manly form hastening down the alley directly toward the pope.
“Who is it?” asked Ganganelli, half turning toward Lorenzo, who was following him.
“It is Juan Angelo Braschi, the former treasurer, to whom you yesterday sent the cardinal’s hat.”
“Ah, the beautiful Braschi,” sadly murmured Ganganelli. “The beloved of the favorite of my nephew, of the Cardinal Rezzonico. Ah, how bad the world is!”
In fact, he whom Ganganelli called the “beautiful” Braschi, well deserved that epithet. No nobler or more plastic beauty was to be seen; no face that more reminded one of the divine beauty of ancient sculpture, no form that could be called a better counterfeit of the Belvedere Apollo. And it was this beauty which liberal Nature had imparted to him as its noblest gift, which helped Juan Angelo Braschi, the son of a poor nobleman of Cesara, to his good fortune, his highest offices and dignities. Not for his merits, but solely for his beauty, did the women bestow upon him their love; and as among these women there were some who exercised an important influence upon powerful cardinals, Braschi had quickly mounted from step to step, crowding aside those who had nothing but their merits and services to speak for them.