Look back

It is necessary to touch something that refers to the story of this young man, before continuing our story.

Daniele, in all the time that he had been in the house of Giacomo the roadman, was not distinguished from the other children of this dabben man, so for the love which corresponded to the benefits of that family, so for the respectful and humble ways, that and he held Giacomo and his consort upside down; who so loved him, that to all neighbors and friends they used to say that God had sent them that dear boy in return for the unhappy Bird, miserably lacking in understanding. Daniele was an affectionate young man although a little too serious for his age, so that he never or very rarely indulged himself in the games and entertainment of Giacomo’s other children and stood aside; and while those creatures toyed in one way or another, he was afraid of making his clothes or hands ugly.

This tendency, which at first seemed so innocent and commendable, soon took on its true aspect when the child grew in age. Soon Giacomo discovered in the foundling a radical defect of the heart and endeavored to correct it, to straighten it, but it was all in vain; vice was in the child’s blood: the older he became, the more the passion of vanity became apparent in him. Besides, Daniele had a feeling that came very close to hatred for the unhappy Bird: a feeling that he did not hide in the moments when he was alone with the idiot, but that he did not scruple to mock him, to mistreat him with epithets. insulting, and often to beat him. The miserable Bird [26]he was crying, but he did not venture to tell his father the reason for his tears, that if he did, he would not lack other stronger strokes, with which that wicked Daniel avenged himself for the reproaches that came to him from Giacomo. A fact we will narrate which, although childish, had a great influence in the development of that hatred that Daniel had for the unhappy Bird.

Those children used to have fun every evening with some of those childhood games, of which very grateful remembrances are preserved, among which the most frequently put in place were the games of snacks, of the blind fly, of the head hiding, of the pillars. , the golden cheek, the goose, the capannelle, the buffetto and other similar. The greatest hilarity used to reign among those dear and innocent creatures. Most of the time Daniele did not take part in these games and was content to sit and gaze at them; but sometimes, instigated by his brothers (as they called each other) and cared for by his mother, Contino (we have already said why such a name was given to Daniele) deigned to honor the game with his presence.

One day, they joked blindly. Lots were cast for whoever had to blindfold their eyes for the first time: it was Daniele’s turn: each, running away, tumbling, laughing, beat him with a handkerchief, hand towel or other wrapped cloth … Daniele turned and turned to grab someone , but they all waved at it gracefully, so that impatience and spite began to dominate in the Contino, when I felt a violent blow applied to my shoulders accompanied by a burst of universal laughter: it was Bird who had struck the blow, and afterwards, in order not to be grabbed, he flattened himself under a table. But to the cries of alive Bird, Daniel had known who had struck him so strongly, and thinking that he had done it out of instinct or out of wickedness, he was seized by so much anger and so much thirst for revenge, that he decided to have him repent if he came under him.

Because, having studied the position well and concealing the best he knew, he set out coldly to wander around the room, then with a right movement I had pushed the blindfold that hid his opponents a little higher than his eyes. It did not go wrong, that having returned to the game Uccello, was targeted by the perfidious Daniel, who, catching him among the laughter of the others and among the bays that were given to the inexperienced, fell him to the ground and with punches and kicks like that. In fact, he rendered it battered that in copy the blood came out of the nose and mouth. The game was over: Lucia and Marietta tried to conceal the crime, but, when Giacomo and his wife rushed to the screams, Giuseppe was quick to tell them what had happened. Giacomo was amazed and saddened by the foundling’s evil disposition, and, to punish him,

Daniel was so vulnerable to the punishment inflicted on him that his temper became darker, and his heart harder. From then on he never spoke to Uccello, for whom his antipathy and hatred had increased.

In the meantime he was growing big; had already reached the thirteenth year, [27]then that Giacomo, realizing the extreme inclination and aptitude that the young man had for music, set him to study this art with a relative of his. He had placed love on the young man well in time, after which he had seen in him a true and very rare genius. Nature had called him to music. Incomprehensible oddity! This art, which requires exquisite sensitivity, tempera of an affectionate and sweet soul, had taken root in a badly formed heart and prone to the saddest passions.

The praise that the young Daniele reported, wherever he was heard playing the piano-forte, his noble and haughty demeanor, that sustained manner and language, so little in harmony with his state and with his origin, and even those eyes of his melancholy but expressive and intelligent, they gradually threw into Lucia’s heart the seeds of a passion that became giant. Daniele soon became aware of Lucia’s love, and her vanity was flattered and satisfied: he did not respond to her out of love, but out of self-satisfaction out of a talent for tyrannizing a creature subjected to him, out of a desire for domination. And he defined himself so well, and so much simulated the passion, that the innocent damsel believed him to be in love with him dead, as Giacomo later believed him to be in love.

Lucia was quite another; her adolescence and her love had transformed her: from fifteen to sixteen she was so melancholy, so passionate and sensitive, that her father, realizing that the passion that was already burning her was the cause of so much melancholy, thought it convenient to remove Daniele from family. Besides, his dear wife dead, who could now look at Lucia’s innocence? Hence he considered it necessary to remove all reasons, and to depart from the young man, who, for his part, did not seem to be carrying the house of the roadman, since vanity and the desire to be distinguished had increased in his soul.

Giacomo had been thinking for some time about how to provide for Daniele’s existence, at the time that he would have removed him from his family, when a strange event came to end all doubts and embarrassments. One fine morning, a handsome and well-mannered young man, decently dressed, appeared at the house in Fritzheim, who, with a foreign accent but in good Italian, asked to speak to the landlord.

– Are you Mr. Giacomo Fritzheim? he then asked that the latter was introduced to him.

– Exactly, replied the roadman, what can I use you for?

– Didn’t you, many years ago, gather in the Sila wood a child who was abandoned and dying there?

Giacomo was dumbfounded: he looked attentively at the person who had asked him that unexpected question and tried to guess if the one who was speaking to him could be Daniele’s father, who was already eighteen years old; for which he replied:

– Yes, sir, it is I to whom Providence wanted to grant the grace to save an innocent creature, and enrich my family with another son.

– It helps me to know precisely when this happened, said the stranger, who had in his hand a card on which he often cast his eyes.

– I do not know, sir, replied the honest tax collector, what interest you may have in investigating a fact about which I should only give information to a recognized authority; but whatever the reason that moves you, I warn you that no one in the world will be able to snatch from my side a young man on whom I now boast the rights of a father.

– Do not doubt, Mr. Fritzheim; far from hurting you or robbing the young man from your side, who is the object of my investigations, I have come for a more beautiful work. You enjoyed answering my questions without fear. In what year and on what day did you find the child in the woods of Sila?

– On the night of January 24, 1809, Giacomo answered.

The unknown man once again glanced up at the paper he had in his hands; nodded an affirmative and satisfying act, then continued:

– He’s fine: could you now point out the exact site where you found the baby?

– I found it in a forest of firs and pines, on a large fern, a few miles from S. Vincenzo, and not very far from Neto.

Another look was given by that man to the card and another sign of approval.

– Do you remember the clothes the child was wearing?

– I remember them very well, as I still have them, added the roadman: tobacco-colored albagio dress, blue cloth shorts, colored cotton socks, little shoes with laces without laces, and black beaver cap with leather top.

– Perfectly, he resumed the unknown with the laughter of joy and satisfaction on his lips: now I just have to ask you one last question. What name did she say she had the baby?

– Daniele, Giacomo replied.

– We do not need more, it is! Here I am now fulfilling my part, Mr. Fritzheim: this is a policy of two thousand ducats which I am instructed to deliver to you as a reward for your fine work and for the paternal care which you lavished on the child Daniel.

Saying this, the unknown took a policy on the Banco di Napoli from his notebook, and handed it to the tax collector; but the latter drew back, and asked in amazement.

– Who charges you with this, oh sir?

– I can not say it; this is a secret I have sworn to keep.

– Your father or maybe your mother?

– I’m not answering, sir …

“Well, whoever charges you with this, sir, you will answer that I have refused to take this money;” a father does not get paid for the care he lavishes on his son, and a father I estimate myself the opposite of Daniele. I am poor, sir, but I am not disheartened to receive guidance from an unknown hand and for a work whereby I feel the dearest satisfaction of my soul.

The unknown did not believe his ears; it seemed to him that the roadman had not spoken out of wits, and he went back to saying:

– Mr. Fritzheim, these two thousand ducats are yours, entirely yours; they are not given to you for any compensation; you will continue to be Daniel’s father; it seems to me that there is no reason to refuse.

– And I repeat that I will never accept this money; I would not accept it even if it came from the very hands of Daniele’s father; think if I want to accept it from a hiding hand.

– Well, I admire you, Mr. Fritzheim: The rigid integrity of your soul was already known to me. Nonetheless, I confess to you that such a refusal is above all expectations; However, I will not insist any further, but my commission is not limited to this, Mr. Fritzheim, and this time I warn you that your refusal would be useless.

– What is it still about? Giacomo asked with a slight frown.

– It is a question of the fact that I am in charge of passing this sum of two thousand ducats to Daniele. Your refusal was not expected, but in case I didn’t find you, you understand!

And the unknown made a gesture with which he meant: in case I found you dead.

– The thing is different, said Giacomo, I cannot oppose everything that can contribute to Daniel’s happiness.

– Praised God! exclaimed the unknown; please call your godson.

Giacomo entered the adjoining rooms and soon returned with Daniele.

The young man nodded to the unknown; who replied with nice grace and looking at him physically.

– Finally! he observed the unknown to himself, here is one that looks like him! Nice young man, you were born under a lucky star; luck smiles on you; from now on, all you have to think about is having fun.

– How do you say? asked the extremely surprised young man.

– Here is a policy of two thousand ducats; it is yours.

– Mine !! Daniel exclaimed with his eyes flashing with joy.

– Yes Sir, yours; this policy is payable to the provider, and the signature is well known to the Bank.

Daniel, who had greedily grabbed that piece of paper which for him was an enormous fortune, cast his eyes on the signature to know the name of the one who made him rich. That policy had the name of Maurizio Barkley on its back .

– And this name sir? Daniele asked.

– I cannot answer any of your questions, Mr. Daniele. But I haven’t finished fulfilling my assignment yet. Here is another policy of fifty ducats: every month you will have a similar sum.

It is singular! added Giacomo, to whom such a mystery made his brain jump.

“And you yourself will come to bring me a policy of fifty ducats every month?” Daniele asked.

– Myself, or someone else for me.

Daniele likewise cast his eyes on the slip, and the same name Maurizio Barkley was written there.

– Favor me a receipt, Mr. Daniele. For the first time, Mr. Giacomo Fritzheim will be my guarantor of your signature …

Daniele signed Daniele Fritzheim . It should be noted that Daniele had only given himself the fictitious surname of dei Rimini only a short time after he left Giacomo’s house . Giacomo put his signature under that of the young man.

– Now there is no need for anything else; I am really happy to have made your acquaintance, Mr. Fritzheim, and yours too, handsome young man. Goodbye, see you again next month.

The stranger did not give time to either of them to add a single word, and disappeared without leaving a single trace of investigation.

It is superfluous to say that this event changed the whole state of Daniel, who immediately made requests to separate from Giacomo, under the pretext of having to live in the center of the capital in order to better devote himself to his musical studies. Giacomo, although with extreme pain, had to consent to such a separation for the reasons we have mentioned above and which became stronger every day.

So Daniele took leave of that very tender family one fine morning. We give up painting Lucia’s pain on the day that Daniele left that house. The bitterness of her grief was mitigated only by her angelic resignation to her father’s wishes, and by the promise made to her by her beloved to come and visit her every day.

Daniele, now free of himself, independent, and owner of a sum that for him was a principle of fortune, first rented a neighborhood on the Foria road. At first he kept his word, going every day to Giacomo’s house; but every day his vanity and his ardent desire to become rich also grew; wherefore, every other passion, every other thought of his was silent in his soul under the empire of that one dominant. Although the unknown foreigner had never failed to bring the policy of fifty ducats to our Daniel himself at the end of each month, he spent more than his faculties implied, and yet that monthly sum was not enough for him and he had given himself to the music lessons, which his friends procured for him in large numbers and from noble families.

Let’s not forget to say that Daniele’s first use of the two thousand ducats that came to him from heaven was to furnish his house with elegance and to buy a horse: keeping a horse had always been one of his life’s dreams. Guari did not go and the young dude began to find Lucia’s love boring and plebeian, so much so that to have a plausible pretext to put some interval between her visits, he decided to go and live on the Riviera di Chiaia, also because this is the district. where the Neapolitan nobility and mostly foreigners hang out and live. This wound was also very bitter in the heart of the miserable daughter of James, who nevertheless loved that ungrateful one so much: but she, good as she was and indulgent and loving, was persuaded that the only need to provide better for ‘ needs of life had led Daniele to distance himself so much from her. This is nothing missing, Daniele never let two days pass without going back toS. Maria degli Angeli [31]at the Crosses : and this comforted the miserella to hope, all the more since he had already promised his father to impalment her as soon as he had made himself known in the capital. And when he had some concern to hurry up to marry the honest and dear young girl, he alleged that his age was too youthful, now his studies which did not allow him to think of anything else for the moment, or he appealed to the party to always procrastinate under one pretext or the other.

And this had lasted for several years, when to put an end to all doubts, to break every resolution, to keep Daniele’s heart away from the Fritzheim family forever, there was the case of the presentation of him as piano-forte master of the Spanish noble girl Emma, ​​daughter of the Duke of Gonzalvo.

Here we stop, the already said suffices. In the continuation of this story we will expand on the character of Emma, ​​on the part and on the fatal influence that this woman had on the events we narrate.