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decorated with a single feather from the raven's wing, dyed red: this, with the fusee which was slung carelessly across his shoulder, completed the equipments of Marco d'Abruzzo.
On relating my adventure to C-, he assured me that many similar instances of generosity and good faith had been told him of Marco, and he believed the bandit, when not excited by opposition, to be capable of very noble acts. A few days after this, I returned to Naples, and continued my practice, under the occurrence of the following dreadful calamity.
A talented young clergyman of the Established Church, named Hunt, was spending the honeymoon with the beautiful bride to whom he was just united at Naples. They had made many excursions together to the various objects of interest in the vicinity, and had determined upon paying a visit to the Sybarite town of Pæstum, which Mr. Hunt, who was an excellent antiquarian, conceived to have been first peopled by colonists from the land of Canaan. On the road to Pæstum, and whilst passing through the desolate country which I have described, a shot was fired from the road-side, which brought the horse on which the postilion was mounted to the ground, and in another instant a brigand presented himself at the door of the carriage, and demanded of its inmates their money and valuables. The postilion had disappeared in the confusion, and secreted himself in a wood; and Mr. Hunt, enraged at being attacked by a single individual, struck the bandit in the face at the instant that he was endeavouring to remove from the neck of Mrs. Hunt a valuable gold chain which she wore. The robber, enraged at the blow, drew a pistol from his belt, and fired at the young clergyman; and at the same instant, his heroic wife, with that prompt and holy devotion of which women alone are capable, threw herself upon his bosom, to protect him from the shots. The weapon was loaded with slugs, one of which penetrated the summer clothing in which the young man was dressed, and passing between the ribs, pierced the pericardium, and was instantly fatal. Another slug entered the bosom of the lady, and two more took effect amongst the vessels of her neck.
The robber soon finished his work of spoliation and decamped, and the postilion, seeing the coast clear, ventured from his hiding-place. Upon looking into the carriage a dreadful sight presented itself. On the tioor of the vehicle lay a pool of blood, which had flown from the joint wounds of the unhappy pair. The wounded man had fallen to the bottom of the carriage, and the lady had apparently knelt by him to support his head, for her arm was round his neck, and in this position she had fainted, and lay quite senseless with her cheek resting upon that of her husband, —the dead bridegroom clasped in the arms of the dying bride. The postilion, fearful, like most of the vulgar Neapolitans, of touching anything that came to a violent end, left them in the position in which they were lying, and contented himself with procuring a fresh horse, and driving back as rapidly as he could to Naples. On reaching the house from which they had departed in the morning, Mrs. Hunt was discovered to be still alive, but while in the act of raising her from her recumbent position, suffocation, from internal hemorrhage, came on, and after a slight convulsion her spirit followed that of her beloved husband, and she also was numbered with the dead A summons was despatched to
my lodgings requesting my immediate attendance, but I was at the instant from home, and engaged in paying my daily round of visits. The consequence was, that I did not reach the house until nearly three hours afterwards ; and when I did enter the chamber of death, I found the hapless couple laid out on the same couch. But oh, how different an appearance did the countenances of the departed clergyman and his wife present to that of the wretched woman whose death I described in my last narrative! Few persons who have contemplated the features of the dead, soon after the departure of the spirit from its tenement of clay, have failed to observe the singular beauty which is for a short time stamped upon each line of the countenance; and those who have had painful experience in such matters know that this is particularly observable in such as have died from hemorrhage resulting from gun-shot wounds. Most of my readers will recollect the allusion to this by the most powerful of modern poets, in his fine fragment, "The Giaour:”—
“ He who hath bent him o'er the dead,
Ere the first day of death is fled,
The first, last look, by death reveal'd." But it was in the face of the lady that these traits were most strongly marked; and, as I gazed upon her placid and lovely countenance, I could almost imagine that I saw a smile of triumph and happiness playing upon it ;-triumph, that even death had not separated her from the object of her adoration; joy, that the shot which destroyed the one left not the other to mourning and misery.
As may be supposed, the above lamentable catastrophe occasioned a strong sensation amongst the English residents at Naples; and Mr. Hamilton, the Ambassador, represented the matter so forcibly to the Neapolitan authorities, that they were compelled to offer a reward, and adopt other measures for the apprehension of the murderer. His identity had been fixed by the deposition of the postilion; but though the person of Marco (for he was the assassin) was well known to the police, yet his acquaintance with the various mountain-passes, and his power over the peasantry, enabled him to elude, for several months, the efforts made to capture him. It is even probable that he would have continued to baffle them, but for the following circumstance :—He had sent his wife to the town of Salerno for the purpose of making some purchases, where she was recognized, apprehended, sent in custody to Naples, and placed in a dungeon of the Castel del Uovo, where every endeavour was made to intimidate her into betraying the place of Marco's concealment. At first, she refused to betray him; and it was not until she was taken into a vault of the castle, where racks, thumb-screws, &c. were shown her, and where she was threatened with the severest torture, that her resolution forsook her. It is right I should state here my belief that these instruments have not been employed since the time when the tyrannical Charles of Anjou lorded it over the Two Sicilies ; at least, so I was assured by my friend General Burke, an Irishman in the Neapolitan service, who commanded the castle, and permitted me to see the terrific display in the Salle de Question, as it was called, and under the influence of which the woman agreed to conduct the police to her husband's hiding-place. Accordingly, a sergeant and two sbirri were ordered to accompany her and secure Marco. On arriving in the vicinity of his concealment, she again hesitated, but was pricked forward by the bayonets of the sbirri. Ultimately she stopped, and made a signal, by blowing a call which she wore round her neck; and, in a minute after, Marco made his appearance from a cleft in one of the cliffs. Still, however, a fair chance remained of his escape. The woman had taken the precaution of making the signal at the distance of three or four hundred yards; and if Marco could succeed in reaching a thickly-wooded ravine, half a mile in advance, his escape was certain. The sergeant, who held the woman by a short rope, enraged at her conduct, thrust his bayonet into her side. Marco beheld this, and seemed inclined, for an instant, to proceed to the assistance of the woman who had betrayed him. He advanced a few steps towards her, and then hesitated, and it is probable that this momentary indecision cost him dear; for the two sbirri, who were purposely chosen, as excellent runners, were rapidly gaining upon the bandit. Marco accordingly started off for the ravine at full speed; but finding that his pursuers were nearing him fast, and that he was within reach of their shot, he made for a small hillock on the brow of the cliff, threw himself upon his knee behind it, placed his double-barrelled fusee across the mound, and taking a rapid, but accurate, aim, fired at his foremost pursuer, who leaped into the air, and fell dead on the spot. The man's comrade had, in the meantime, fired at Marco; but the latter was protected by the hillock, in which the ball was buried; and whilst he was in the act of turning round to get out of the reach of the bandit's deadly weapon, he received a ball in his thigh from the other barrel of the fusee, which brought him to the ground, and disabled him from further pursuit. Marco had now only one enemy (the sergeant) to contend with ; but the latter was a wary old gendarme, accustomed to such conflicts, and had taken the opportunity, whilst the combat was going on between the bandit and the sbirri, to make a slight circuit, which enabled him to command Marco's position ; and before the latter could change it, he received the sergeant's fire among the extensor muscles of his right leg. The bandit immediately felt that any further attempt at flight would be useless; he therefore raised himself slowly from the ground, resting himself on the stock of his fusee, and signified to the sergeant his readiness to surrender, at the same time throwing away from his belt the pistols and daggers which it contained. The sergeant, deceived by the conduct of the wounded man, and anxious to take him alive, in which case his reward would have been doubled, approached him somewhat incautiously. Marco, in whose bosom the national ardour for revenge burnt with the utmost fierceness, gathered all the strength of his still powerful frame, and threw himself upon the sergeant whilst the latter was in the act of taking from his pocket the identical piece of cord with which the wife of the bandit had been bound. They fell together to the earth ; and were, at the instant, within six yards of the edge of the precipitous cliff which overhung the shore.
Marco's teeth had met through the collar of his adversary's coat, and his fingers were twisted behind in the sash which the sergeant wore round his waist. It was in vain that the officer of justice tried to free himself from the nervous and powerful grasp of the bandit: the nature of the ground, too, which descended slightly, favoured Marco's design. They were already within a yard of the frightful precipice, when Marco succeeded in placing the sole of his foot against a jutting portion of the rock, and, by one desperate effort, threw his antagonist and himself, still clasped in each other's arms, over the precipice. The fall was fatal to both. The sergeant, who was heavier than his antagonist, fell undermost, dislocated his neck, and died on the instant. Marco was also much injured, and died a few hours after the occurrence, but not till he had made confession to a priest of the above circumstances. His teeth were found fixed in the collar of the sergeant's coat, and he had actually bitten through a pewter button in his eagerness to retain his hold: his fingers were also twisted in the sergeant's sash; and the first phalanx of the index-finger was found dislocated, apparently from the efforts made by the gendarme to free himself from the bandit's grasp.
Such was the dreadful but deserved death of Marco d'Abruzzo.
BY L. E. L.
Ask me not, love, what can be in my heart;
Hence do we tremble in our happiness;