“It were impossible.”
“Then I renounce her? I renounce love. I renounce happiness. Welcome solitude,—welcome despair; if they are the entrances to thy dark and sublime secret.”
“I will not take thy answer now. Before the last hour of night thou shalt give it in one word,—ay or no! Farewell till then.”
Zanoni waved his hand, and, descending rapidly, was seen no more.
Glyndon rejoined his impatient and wondering friend; but Mervale, gazing on his face, saw that a great change had passed there. The flexile and dubious expression of youth was forever gone. The features were locked, rigid, and stern; and so faded was the natural bloom, that an hour seemed to have done the work of years.
Das hinter diesem Schleier sich verbirgt?
“Das Verschleierte Bild zu Sais.”
(What is it that conceals itself behind this veil?)
On returning from Vesuvius or Pompeii, you enter Naples through its most animated, its most Neapolitan quarter,—through that quarter in which modern life most closely resembles the ancient; and in which, when, on a fair-day, the thoroughfare swarms alike with Indolence and Trade, you are impressed at once with the recollection of that restless, lively race from which the population of Naples derives its origin; so that in one day you may see at Pompeii the habitations of a remote age; and on the Mole, at Naples, you may imagine you behold the very beings with whom those habitations had been peopled.
But now, as the Englishmen rode slowly through the deserted streets, lighted but by the lamps of heaven, all the gayety of day was hushed and breathless. Here and there, stretched under a portico or a dingy booth, were sleeping groups of houseless Lazzaroni,—a tribe now merging its indolent individuality amidst an energetic and active population.
The Englishman rode on in silence; for Glyndon neither appeared to heed nor hear the questions and comments of Mervale, and Mervale himself was almost as weary as the jaded animal he bestrode.
Suddenly the silence of earth and ocean was broken by the sound of a distant clock that proclaimed the quarter preceding the last hour of night. Glyndon started from his reverie, and looked anxiously round. As the final stroke died, the noise of hoofs rung on the broad stones of the pavement, and from a narrow street to the right emerged the form of a solitary horseman. He neared the Englishmen, and Glyndon recognised the features and mien of Zanoni.
“What! do we meet again, signor?” said Mervale, in a vexed but drowsy tone.
“Your friend and I have business together,” replied Zanoni, as he wheeled his steed to the side of Glyndon. “But it will be soon transacted. Perhaps you, sir, will ride on to your hotel.”
“There is no danger!” returned Zanoni, with a slight expression of disdain in his voice.