Vendetta: a story of one forgotten eBook

Marie Corelli
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 542 pages of information about Vendetta.

Winter, or what the Neapolitans accept as winter, came on apace.  For some time past the air had been full of that mild chill and vaporous murkiness, which, not cold enough to be bracing, sensibly lowered the system and depressed the spirits.  The careless and jovial temperament of the people, however, was never much affected by the change of seasons—­they drank more hot coffee than usual, and kept their feet warm by dancing from midnight up to the small hours of the morning.  The cholera was a thing of the past—­the cleansing of the city, the sanitary precautions, which had been so much talked about and recommended in order to prevent another outbreak in the coming year, were all forgotten and neglected, and the laughing populace tripped lightly over the graves of its dead hundreds as though they were odorous banks of flowers.  “Oggi!  Oggi!” is their cry—­to-day, to-day!  Never mind what happened yesterday, or what will happen to-morrow—­leave that to i signori Santi and la Signora Madonna!  And after all there is a grain of reason in their folly, for many of the bitterest miseries of man grow out of a fatal habit of looking back or looking forward, and of never living actually in the full-faced present.  Then, too, Carnival was approaching; Carnival, which, though denuded of many of its best and brightest features, still reels through the streets of Naples with something of the picturesque madness that in old times used to accompany its prototype, the Feast of Bacchus.  I was reminded of this coming festivity on the morning of the 21st of December, when I noted some unusual attempts on the part of Vincenzo to control his countenance, that often, in spite of his efforts, broadened into a sunny smile as though some humorous thought had flitted across his mind.  He betrayed himself at last by asking me demurely whether I purposed taking any part in the carnival?  I smiled and shook my head.  Vincenzo looked dubious, but finally summoned up courage to say: 

“Will the eccellenza permit—­”

“You to make a fool of yourself?” I interrupted, “by all means!  Take your own time, enjoy the fun as much as you please; I promise you I will ask no account of your actions.”

He was much gratified, and attended to me with even more punctiliousness than usual.  As he prepared my breakfast I asked him: 

“By the way, when does the carnival begin?”

“On the 26th,” he answered, with a slight air of surprise.  “Surely the eccellenza knows.”

“Yes, yes,” I said, impatiently.  “I know, but I had forgotten.  I am not young enough to keep the dates of these follies in my memory.  What letters have you there?”

He handed me a small tray full of different shaped missives, some from fair ladies who “desired the honor of my company,” others from tradesmen, “praying the honor of my custom,” all from male and female toadies as usual, I thought contemptuously, as I turned them over, when my glance was suddenly arrested by one special envelope, square in form and heavily bordered with black, on which the postmark “Roma” stood out distinctly.  “At last!” I thought, and breathed heavily.  I turned to my valet, who was giving the final polish to my breakfast cup and saucer: 

Project Gutenberg
Vendetta: a story of one forgotten from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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