What castles in the air I built as I stood rejoicing in the morning light and my newly acquired liberty—what dreams of perfect happiness flitted radiantly before my fancy! Nina and I would love each other more fondly than before, I thought—our separation had been brief, but terrible—and the idea of what it might have been would endear us to one another with tenfold fervor. And little Stella! Why—this very evening I would swing her again under the orange boughs and listen to her sweet shrill laughter! This very evening I would clasp Guido’s hand in a gladness too great for words! This very night my wife’s fair head would lie pillowed on my breast in an ecstatic silence broken only by the music of kisses. Ah! my brain grew dizzy with the joyful visions that crowded thickly and dazzlingly upon me! The sun had risen—his long straight beams, like golden spears, touched the tops of the green trees, and roused little flashes as of red and blue fire on the shining surface of the bay. I heard the rippling of water and the measured soft dash of oars; and somewhere from a distant boat the mellifluous voice of a sailor sung a verse of the popular ritornello—
Sta parolella mia tieul’ ammento
Zompa llari llira!
Le voglio fa mori de passione
Zompa llari llira!”
[Footnote: Neapolitan dialect]
I smiled—“Mori de passione!” Nina and I would know the meaning of those sweet words when the moon rose and the nightingales sung their love-songs to the dreaming flowers! Full of these happy fancies, I inhaled the pure morning air for some minutes, and then re-entered the vault.
The first thing I did was to repack all the treasures I had discovered. This work was easily accomplished. For the present I contented myself with taking two of the leathern bags for my own use, one full of gold pieces, the other of jewels. The chest had been strongly made, and was not much injured by being forced open. I closed its lid as tightly as possible, and dragged it to a remote and dark corner of the vault, where I placed three heavy stones upon it. I then took the two leathern pouches I had selected, and stuffed one in each of the pockets of my trousers. The action reminded me of the scantiness of attire in which I stood arrayed. Could I be seen in the public roads in such a plight? I examined my purse, which, as I before stated, had been left to me, together with my keys and card-case, by the terrified persons who had huddled me into my coffin with such scant ceremony. It contained two twenty-franc pieces and some loose silver. Enough to buy a decent costume of some sort. But where could I make the purchase, and how? Must I wait till evening and slink out of this charnel-house like the ghost of a wretched criminal? No! come what would, I made up my mind not to linger a moment longer in the vault. The swarms of beggars that infest Naples exhibit themselves in every condition of rags, dirt, and misery; at the very worst I could only be taken for one of them. And whatever difficulties I might encounter, no matter!—they would soon be over.