“I have secured you,” said he, “a place in the Count Cetoxa’s carriage. Come along, he is waiting for us.”
“How kind in you! how did you find me out?”
“I met Zanoni in the passage,—’Your friend is at the door of the theatre,’ said he; ’do not let him go home on foot to-night; the streets of Naples are not always safe.’ I immediately remembered that some of the Calabrian bravos had been busy within the city the last few weeks, and suddenly meeting Cetoxa—but here he is.”
Further explanation was forbidden, for they now joined the count. As Glyndon entered the carriage and drew up the glass, he saw four men standing apart by the pavement, who seemed to eye him with attention.
“Cospetto!” cried one; “that is the Englishman!” Glyndon imperfectly heard the exclamation as the carriage drove on. He reached home in safety.
The familiar and endearing intimacy which always exists in Italy between the nurse and the child she has reared, and which the “Romeo and Juliet” of Shakespeare in no way exaggerates, could not but be drawn yet closer than usual, in a situation so friendless as that of the orphan-actress. In all that concerned the weaknesses of the heart, Gionetta had large experience; and when, three nights before, Viola, on returning from the theatre, had wept bitterly, the nurse had succeeded in extracting from her a confession that she had seen one,—not seen for two weary and eventful years,—but never forgotten, and who, alas! had not evinced the slightest recognition of herself. Gionetta could not comprehend all the vague and innocent emotions that swelled this sorrow; but she resolved them all, with her plain, blunt understanding, to the one sentiment of love. And here, she was well fitted to sympathise and console. Confidante to Viola’s entire and deep heart she never could be,—for that heart never could have words for all its secrets. But such confidence as she could obtain, she was ready to repay by the most unreproving pity and the most ready service.
“Have you discovered who he is?” asked Viola, as she was now alone in the carriage with Gionetta.
“Yes; he is the celebrated Signor Zanoni, about whom all the great ladies have gone mad. They say he is so rich!—oh! so much richer than any of the Inglesi!—not but what the Signor Glyndon—”
“Cease!” interrupted the young actress. “Zanoni! Speak of the Englishman no more.”
The carriage was now entering that more lonely and remote part of the city in which Viola’s house was situated, when it suddenly stopped.
Gionetta, in alarm, thrust her head out of the window, and perceived, by the pale light of the moon, that the driver, torn from his seat, was already pinioned in the arms of two men; the next moment the door was opened violently, and a tall figure, masked and mantled, appeared.
“Fear not, fairest Pisani,” said he, gently; “no ill shall befall you.” As he spoke, he wound his arm round the form of the fair actress, and endeavoured to lift her from the carriage. But Gionetta was no ordinary ally,—she thrust back the assailant with a force that astonished him, and followed the shock by a volley of the most energetic reprobation.