The bold lies

Maurizio stopped going to see Lucia Fritzheim. A few days had just passed since Emma’s visit to Giacomo lo Stradiere’s daughter. In Lucia’s home everything was changed in appearance: sadness and misery had partly disappeared, everything was now cleaned up, tidied up; various new furnishings were seen there, and the old ones were patched up. It is time to say that, after Daniel’s cruel abandonment and Father Ambrose’s unsuccessful attempts, Lucia had been struck at first by acute nervous fever, and later by a slow disease of languor which had threatened to drag her to the grave, Father Ambrose had lavished the treasures of Christian charity on the sick. Our readers know a part of the letter that Lucia wrote to Daniele: c ‘

«Daniele, my Daniele.

«It is already the fourth month that you have abandoned me, I have counted these horrible days hour by hour, minute by minute. I am not reproaching you; I am resigned to my fate … I know that you love another! … May God make you happy. I feel bad, very badly: heaven will perhaps want to have mercy on me by taking me out of this life, before you become the husband of another. The parish doctor told Father Ambrogio that I enter the first degree of consumption: I have heard whispering this around my bed, they thought I was asleep! Oh how much I loved you! … I release you from your oath, Daniel, and I forgive you the death you give me. Only please, in the name of the first word of love we exchanged, in the name of my father, do not abandon my unhappy family, my dear sister, my brothers, [124]most beautiful day of your life, since the day of my death will have been the happiest for me … Goodbye, goodbye, for the last time, Daniele, my Daniele.

Lucia Fritzheim.

The cruel fate of this letter is known: a part of it was damned to the flames, and another served to brighten the dinner of Daniel and his friends.

In vain the miserable Lucia waited for an answer; this did not come, since the ungrateful Daniel did not come anymore. We did not want to spare our readers the picture of Lucia’s sufferings, of that soul so candid and beautiful. Religion and brotherly love only partially alleviated his pains. The horrendous infirmity with which she was threatened was removed by the paternal care and wisdom of Father Ambrogio, who, in addition to personal assistance, provided for doctors and remedies; and God granted him the supreme pleasure of seeing Lucia saved from inexorable consumption.

After the meeting he had with Daniele, Father Ambrogio, always hoping that he would repent, never lost sight of him, and inquired about his conduct, his friendships and relationships: therefore he did not hesitate to discover that the young man was hopelessly in love with a noble lady, who knew how to be the daughter of the Duke of Gonzalvo. Father Ambrogio, in order to relieve the unfortunate passion for Daniele from Lucia’s heart, estimated to reveal to her the new loves of the young man, comforting her to drift from her heart that perfidious, unworthy of being beyond the object of her love. Such a revelation did not produce much shock to Lucia, since in spite of the great precautions that Daniele had used to hide his new loves, the miserable already knew something about it, and she already suspected that in the Palazzo S …

Lucia swallowed the bitter chalice without complaining: she offered to heaven, with a noble impulse of resignation, her pain, and fervently prayed that he would give her the strength to survive so much agony, not for love that she would bring to life. , now making it bitter and heavy, but in order not to take away from its unfortunate family the last arm that was left over. She felt the duty to live not for herself, but for hers. And his prayers were fulfilled by Providence. Lucia regained her strength, and as she was overwhelmed by suffering, she seemed to draw courage and vigor from the love of her family.

She could not suffocate in her heart a passion that had become a vital part of her existence; but he took it upon himself to love Daniel in the depths of his soul. Lucia could have made the perfidious pale in the very presence of her vague, she could have thrown the word foundling into the middle of the two lovers as an insurmountable barrier between them; but Lucia, like Maurice Barkley, had too high a soul and too well formed heart to descend to a vengeance which would have made her lover unhappy without making her less unfortunate. Lucia did much better; he did what religion teaches: he forgave and loved.

This being the case, one morning Father Ambrogio, who was trying hard to hide his disturbance, overcome by the requests of Lucia and Marietta, confessed that he had learned that Daniele was about to leave for abroad, and that he was it was impossible to discover what purpose this departure had, what motive had determined it. Making this clear, Father Ambrogio was not a little surprised to see on the face of the girl, instead of a deep pain, a certain expression as of great joy. And since he made no secret of the impressions he felt, he asked Lucia why the news, instead of saddening her, seemed to give her satisfaction. Lucia confessed to him that she preferred to know her lover far away and perhaps forever, rather than knowing him in Naples and at the side of another woman. Oh!

But at the same time that she confessed that she was happier that Daniele was leaving rather than knowing that he was next to the daughter of the Duke of Gonzalvo, her eyes were wet with tears, her sharp cheeks became white, and her chest swelled like the tide. close to crashing in on the beach. And her tears were recalled also by Marietta’s, which flowed without restraint up the beautiful cheeks of the girl, who meanwhile did not stop scolding her sister for crying while she said she was pleased with that rascal’s departure (this was the epithet that Marietta used to give to Daniele). Lucia no longer wept, but stopped seeing Daniele for the last time, before he left Naples.

We know how then that the young man was about to board the diligence that was to lead him far from Naples, the girl rushed towards him with irresistible impetus and showed herself to him. The clash of the two lovers is known. Lucia had seen a tear wander in Daniele’s eyes: she was less unhappy!

From the day of her beloved young man’s departure, Lucia was no less sad and suffering than before, but more peaceful and entirely resigned. The sadness of her heart was further increased by the poverty which she saw every day invade the family more and more. Although both she and Marietta did every work and killed each other, the fruit of their labors was hardly enough for scarce nourishment. Father Ambrogio did not cease, both with procuring work for the two girls, and with delicate subsidies that he knew how to hide with art, refounding his own on the petty product of the work that he himself gave them to do, he did not cease to provide for the sustenance of that family , of whom he had promised James to be second father. A moving and splendid example of virtue!

Emma’s visit had entirely changed the look of things. It was about eleven o’clock on a beautiful, clear and clear morning. Maurizio had walked to the home of the honest family. He was dressed with the greatest simplicity: he wore a gray overcoat; long boots with turned upside down, wide-brimmed hat, and an ebony giannetta in her hands. The little brothers [126]Lucia’s had gone out for pleasure in the neighborhood with the old maid, so that in the house there were none other than Lucia, Marietta and Uccello.

Marietta was busy putting on and sewing up stockings, shirts and other cloths pertinent to her brothers: on a chair, on a crossbar on which she rested her feet, she held a bundle of clothes which she had to pass in review, and on which she looked with impatience. , however, that the lively girl would have preferred to go and roam the countryside for a while in the company of her brothers. At each point she glanced at the work, and a thousand around her, looked distractedly beyond the window and let out deep sighs. Often he remained with the needle in his hand doing nothing, or he began to look with love at his sister who was all at work. Marietta was so happy to see the colors of health partially reborn on Lucia’s face! And if Lucia raised her eyes, Marietta resumed her task and returned to the he works smiling, but then everything he did was ruined; he got involved in threading the needle, he forgot to tie the knot of the spire, he pricked his fingers or, if he was putting off his stockings, he let the shirts slip out and jump over them, he dropped the wand and the ferruzzini. Lucia was smiling, since she knew well how she loved that dear sister, whose only defect was in too much lightness of temper. Lucia had placed her hand on a pair of new shorts belonging to Andrea, the youngest of the brothers: she had basted them, and was about to sew them. One cannot say the immense good that Emma’s visit had done to this whole family. How little it takes to raise the suffering from their slaughter! Lucia was no longer so sad as she was before; his little family by now had a support, a friend.

The two sisters were so busy. A band of sunlight illuminated their features and joked on the chair located in the middle of those two girls. In a corner of the room Bird was sitting in front of a table on which a large abbicci could be seen. The idiot tried hard to appear to know the letters, because Father Ambrogio had promised him a nice gift if he could learn the alphabet in a few days. Bird had memorized the name of each letter, but was not yet able to apply it to the figure. He laughed for no reason at all, and rubbed his hands every time he guessed what to call one of those letters. From time to time, bored of singing, always the same song on that damn cartel that was in front of him, he got up and came to balance himself on the back of Marietta’s chair, to play with the cats lying limply in the sun, to pursue some flies, or to play with his own fingers which had become ten gentle and gracious toys for him. A modest ring of the bell made the two girls stop from work and run to the Bird door who, after many lessons and many efforts, had learned to open it. The two sisters were extremely surprised to see a man they did not know before them, while they believed that it was the two brothers who were returning from the walk together with the old maid who had accompanied them. A modest ring of the bell made the two girls stop from work and run to the Bird door who, after many lessons and many efforts, had learned to open it. The two sisters were extremely surprised to see a man they did not know before them, while they believed that it was the two brothers who were returning from the walk together with the old maid who had accompanied them. A modest ring of the bell made the two girls stop from work and run to the Bird door who, after many lessons and many efforts, had learned to open it. The two sisters were extremely surprised to see a man they did not know before them, while they believed that it was the two brothers who were returning from the walk together with the old maid who had accompanied them.

Maurizio Barkley nodded to the two girls and stood with his hat in his hand and standing.

– Excuse me, ladies, he said, if I dare to introduce myself without perhaps being personally known by you. Yet I have had the honor of enjoying your father’s esteem.

– Your name sir? Lucia asked.

– Maurizio Barkley.

At this name the two girls made a movement of surprise.

– But we know such a name, is it true, Lucia? Marietta said.

– Of course, this was the name that appeared on the policies that Daniele received every month.

And that he nevertheless receives, observed Maurizio with a smile.

– You then, sir, are you the unknown benefactor of Daniel?

– Not really me, miss … but on this I beg you not to question me: I would have the regret of having to refuse your inquiries. It was enough to know that I was that Maurizio Barkley whose name appears on the policies that Daniele receives every month.

While Maurizio was speaking, Marietta took a chair and offered it to the Esquire, who sat down beside the two girls, as if he were an intrinsic friend of the house.

Lucia asking him:

– Since you, sir, have said that Daniel still receives the monthly allowance, the provenance of which you cannot reveal to us, you must know where he is at present.

– Daniele is in Germany, miss.

– In Germany! Marietta exclaimed; is far away, isn’t it, sir?

“It is never enough for your peace,” replied Maurizio, fixing his eyes on Lucia’s, whose emotion was revealed by the irregular movements of her breasts and the extreme paleness of her face.

– He is fine where he is, and we hope he goes to the head of the world, Marietta said, stealthily looking at her sister to see what sensation these words produced in her.

Maurizio smiled and looked complacently at Marietta, whose vivacity betrayed itself in her every word and gesture. Lucia would have liked to ask Maurizio a world of questions, but she was restrained by a certain fear of knowing things that would have caused her great pain: at the same time she was ashamed to ask such questions in the presence of her sister, to whom she had promised never to speak of Daniele. .

– I feel the duty, ladies, said Maurizio after a few moments of silence, to declare the purpose of my visit. I am the messenger of your friend the Duchessina Emma di Gonzalvo.

A ray of joy shone on the faces of the two sisters

– The Duchessina! Lucia exclaimed.

– That heavenly creature! Marietta said.

And they both looked greedily into Maurizio’s eyes, as if they wanted to know in advance what he had to say to them.

– She herself, replied Barkley, she instructs me to give you a certificate of her sincere friendship.

– Perhaps we need other certificates for this, other proofs, said Lucia, whose eyes were already veiled with tears of tenderness. Oh why does she want to oppress us with goodness!

– Whoever has once learned to know you, adorable girls, said Maurizio, will never do enough to show you his affectionate friendship. Emma has a wrong to redress with you, Lucia; she involuntarily stole Daniel’s heart from you, and today she comes, through me, if not to give it back to you (since this is not in her power), to at least give you security and peace. I am in charge of making the confession that the Duchessina Emma di Gonzalvo loves another, who is not Daniele, and by whom she is met with unspeakable adoration. This confession remains, however, buried in your hearts, ladies; Emma doesn’t want anyone in the world to know her feelings right now.

– Ah! thank you, my God, thank you, Lucia exclaimed, joining her hands and turning her beautiful eyes to heaven.

– Oh blessed! blessed! Marietta screamed. Now she deserves to be adored! Blessed, blessed is that man who is her lover! Oh how proud and happy he must be to be loved by that sun of beauty!

– And who is he? Lucia asked.

– Maurizio Barkley! the latter said, lowering his eyes and turning pale.

– You! you, sir !! O be happy, Mr. Barkley, for your noble heart deserves it!

Maurizio hastened to interrupt a conversation that became dangerous and delicate for him. Shortly thereafter, he took leave of the two sisters. But before he had left, Lucia had begged him to express her feelings of gratitude, esteem and affection to the noble friend. As he descended the stairs of that house, Maurizio said to himself:

– I did my duty; I saved her heart … God do the rest!

On the same morning, and not so soon on his return from S. Maria degli Angeli alle Croci , Maurizio went to Palazzo S … and asked to speak to the Duchessina. Emma received him, as she had been alone for some time, with demonstrations of the most confidential friendship. Maurizio was pale, but calm as usual.

– I come to your friend, Lucia Fritzheim.

– Ah! exclaimed Emma, ​​thank you very much, Mr. Barkley; she wanted to ask you this morning to go to her to inform you of her health which is so dear to me.

– You see, Duchessina, that I come to your wishes. But I did much more than inquire about her health: I fully restored her peace of heart, reassuring her of your feelings about Daniel. And to remove any suspicion from her soul, I made myself bold to tell her that others occupied your heart.

– That! sir!

– Now, Duchessina, you have the obligation not to think about Daniele any more: if this was formerly generosity in you, now it is your duty; I have made it a law for you to sacrifice to friendship a surplus of affection for a man who is unworthy of it. Remember that you have commanded me to save your heart.

– And you did well, Mr. Barkley, and I thank you … So you told Lucia Fritzheim that my heart …

He was bound to another love, Duchessina.

Emma smiled and looked down.

– I bet you have also found a lover for me, said the girl with a smile.

– Yes, Duchessina, Maurizio replied with visible disturbance, I said you loved …

– Who ever? Emma interrupted, frowning.

– Maurizio Barkley! he replied in a barely sensitive voice.

– You! yourself! Emma exclaimed, blushing brightly.

– I myself, Duchessina; I beg all your forgiveness for this bold lie. That girl asked me for the name of your lover. Who could I name without compromising you? He is certain that if I had named anyone else, not only would I have committed the most unforgivable imprudence and temerity, but the lie ceased to be innocent. Can I Hope I Have Got Your Forgiveness?

Emma, ​​with downcast eyes, held out her hand.

– Generous friend! she said, you saved Lucia and me; I forgive you and I thank you.

Maurizio kissed the hand of the noble girl and withdrew, saying to himself:

– And who will save me, if not God?