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Vestigia Vol. I.   By:

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VESTIGIA

BY

GEORGE FLEMING

AUTHOR OF

'A NILE NOVEL,' 'MIRAGE,' 'THE HEAD OF MEDUSA,' ETC.

VOL. I.

' Vestigia nulla retrorsum '

London

MACMILLAN AND CO.

1884

Printed by R. & R. CLARK, Edinburgh .

DEDICATED TO

F. H.

(OF MARIGOLA),

to know whom is indeed a 'liberal education' in all that is gracious and good in loving memory of that bright March morning, years ago, when we met in a certain street in Leghorn.

LONDON, 1884.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I.

MOTHER AND SON

CHAPTER II.

FATHER AND DAUGHTER

CHAPTER III.

THE YOUNG MASTER

CHAPTER IV.

THE CIRCOLO BARSANTI

CHAPTER V.

RETROSPECTIVE

CHAPTER VI.

THE MORNING AFTER

CHAPTER VII.

ITALIA

VESTIGIA.

CHAPTER I.

MOTHER AND SON.

It was nearly five o'clock of a raw and windy afternoon in the month of March, 187 , when a young man, Bernardino de Rossi by name, came hastily out of an inner room of the Telegraph Office building at Leghorn, letting the heavy swinging door close sharply behind him with a disagreeable sound.

The room which he entered was one reserved for the use of the Government clerks. Its floor was bare; its high walls, painted the same dull uniform yellow as the rest of the building, were lighted from above by a row of small square windows, crossed with rusty bars of iron an arrangement which involuntarily suggested a prison ward; and there was little to contradict this fancy in the appearance of the line of high desks ranged along three sides of the room, or in the expression of the figures bending over them. The names and dates and rude caricatures scrawled over every available space of plaster and woodwork seemed indeed an indication that such absorbed industry was not the invariable rule; but on that especial afternoon a dead silence prevailed. To one accustomed to the ways of the place it was a significant silence, broken only by the monotonous ticking of the telegraph wires heard through the half open door of the adjoining room, and the rapid scratching of many pens.

At De Rossi's entrance one of the younger clerks, a mere lad, with pale watery eyes and a Jewish profile, looked up from his writing.

'Well, Dino?' he murmured anxiously.

De Rossi glanced at him and hesitated.

'It is all right. Only I'm off.'

'Not not dismissed, Dino?'

'Dismissed. Turned out. Turned off. Sent away without a character, like a bad cook. Put it any way you prefer it, it all comes to the same thing. But it really does not matter in the least. It was sure to come to that in the end. There is nothing for for any one to be sorry about. So don't trouble don't let any one trouble himself on my account,' the young man added rapidly, his face lighting up with a sudden very pleasant smile.

'But Dino '

'Who is making that noise? I ask you, who is making that noise there? By Heaven! you are enough to drive a man mad amongst you. Chatter! chatter! chatter! Nothing but gossip and chatter, like a parcel of idle women after mass. Government employees you call yourselves; my word, it is a useful kind of employment that,' interposed the large pale faced man, who occupied a desk by himself, in the warmest corner, beside the stove, at the far end of the room. 'You were not speaking? Don't tell me , sir. I say you are always speaking and to no purpose. Chatter, chatter, chatter! and slamming doors '

'Come, come, Sor Checco. Come now; the lads mean no harm by it. I'll answer for them. They mean no harm,' observed another large, middle aged individual, who was elaborately filling up an empty telegraph form, standing beside one of the desks provided for the use of the public. He spoke in a good natured, husky voice. Despite the cold, the yellow fur collar of his enormous cloak was thrown wide open upon his shoulders, and from time to time he paused heavily in his writing, to rub his forehead with the blue and red checked handkerchief which he carried, rolled up in a ball, in his left hand... Continue reading book >>




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