(O thou, whoever thou art, who through every use bendest Nature to works foreign and strange; and by spying into her secrets, enterest at thy will into the closest recesses of the human mind,—O speak! O tell me!)
Early the next morning the young Englishmen mounted their horses, and took the road towards Baiae. Glyndon left word at his hotel, that if Signor Zanoni sought him, it was in the neighbourhood of that once celebrated watering-place of the ancients that he should be found.
They passed by Viola’s house, but Glyndon resisted the temptation of pausing there; and after threading the grotto of Posilipo, they wound by a circuitous route back into the suburbs of the city, and took the opposite road, which conducts to Portici and Pompeii. It was late at noon when they arrived at the former of these places. Here they halted to dine; for Mervale had heard much of the excellence of the macaroni at Portici, and Mervale was a bon vivant.
They put up at an inn of very humble pretensions, and dined under an awning. Mervale was more than usually gay; he pressed the lacrima upon his friend, and conversed gayly.
“Well, my dear friend, we have foiled Signor Zanoni in one of his predictions at least. You will have no faith in him hereafter.”
“The ides are come, not gone.”
“Tush! If he be the soothsayer, you are not the Caesar. It is your vanity that makes you credulous. Thank Heaven, I do not think myself of such importance that the operations of Nature should be changed in order to frighten me.”
“But why should the operations of Nature be changed? There may be a deeper philosophy than we dream of,—a philosophy that discovers the secrets of Nature, but does not alter, by penetrating, its courses.”
“Ah, you relapse into your heretical credulity; you seriously suppose Zanoni to be a prophet,—a reader of the future; perhaps an associate of genii and spirits!”
Here the landlord, a little, fat, oily fellow, came up with a fresh bottle of lacrima. He hoped their Excellencies were pleased. He was most touched—touched to the heart, that they liked the macaroni. Were their Excellencies going to Vesuvius? There was a slight eruption; they could not see it where they were, but it was pretty, and would be prettier still after sunset.
“A capital idea!” cried Mervale. “What say you, Glyndon?”
“I have not yet seen an eruption; I should like it much.”
“But is there no danger?” asked the prudent Mervale.
“Oh, not at all; the mountain is very civil at present. It only plays a little, just to amuse their Excellencies the English.”
“Well, order the horses, and bring the bill; we will go before it is dark. Clarence, my friend,—nunc est bibendum; but take care of the pede libero, which will scarce do for walking on lava!”
The bottle was finished, the bill paid; the gentlemen mounted, the landlord bowed, and they bent their way, in the cool of the delightful evening, towards Resina.