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A FAITHLESS POSTMASTER
and, vociferating in Neapolitan, gave us to understand that one of our carriages containing servants had been overturned in a ditch. It was pitch dark, the lamps were not lighted, and pouring torrents of rain. The postilion of our carriage was terribly frightened, and when we urged him to go and help, or at least learn the extent of the disaster, merely trembled, whimpered, and excused himself from leaving his horses. Eventually, however, we were relieved to be told that the carriage had not been overturned, though it had been in imminent danger. When we reached the post-house after crossing the Carigliano, we lighted our lamps, and learned to our dismay (oh, faithless Pareti !) that no fresh horses except a wearied pair for our barouche were to be procured, the coach which preceded us having taken all the available steeds. The poor, tired-out pair dragged us painfully on for about a mile, when suddenly, refusing all obedience to whip or spur, they jibbed, kicked, plunged, and pulled the light carriage down to the roadside ditch.
My father now insisted that they should be changed, and having with much difficulty made the postilion take out the poor jaded creatures, we were left in the utter darkness and pelting rain with no servant near. The coach with our maids was far in advance, the two fourgons with our men-servants were still waiting at the post-house for horses, and we began to distract ourselves with imagining every horror that might possibly happen to our scattered
and separated party. We were then close to the Marshes of Minturnae, and as my dear governess, Miss Redgrave, said, even Marius could scarcely have spent a more dreadful night there than that with which we were threatened. Suppose," said she, "brigands, attracted by our lights, should fall upon us in our defenceless situation!"
Happily, however, all gloomy forebodings of this sort were falsified, for after a time we hailed with joy the voice of a civil soldier, who appeared with a new postilion and fresh horses-and very fresh they were, for they tore up the rocky street of Mola di Gaeta with a speed and din that struck showers of fire from the flinty road and startled the silent echoes of the sleeping town! Our troubles were at an end, and soon, safe and well, we were seated before a blazing fire eating our supper at the classic inn known as the "Villa of Cicero."
We saw many picturesque scenes on our way to Rome; particularly characteristic was a group of labourers in the fields who, having washed their shirts and dried them in the sun, were making their toilet on a sunny bank. Beside them their wives had spread on the grass a white cloth on which were wine, bread, and oranges for a midday meal. Well might the sandalled peasantry make their dining- and dressing-rooms of the green fields with the blue sky for curtains and canopy. In the odd little comical erections thinly scattered near the roadside all the way to Rome, there could be little room to do anything else
but sleep. These dwellings looked very much like haystacks, and small ones too; on the top were two sticks forming a rough cross, and the aperture at the side was closed with a wooden door. The furniture within was scanty, very rough, and the whole thing, had it not been for clothes drying near and an occasional cat walking about as if quite at home, seemed scarcely like the habitation of a civilized being.
The Pass of Lantulae, between the sea and the hills covered with daffodils and other garden flowers, had been very notorious for banditti, though to us it looked safe and commonplace enough. We were, however, told that it would not be wise to wander over these flowery hills even in the daytime without
How dreary was the straight road along the Pontine Marshes. No village or cottage except now and then a wigwam-such as has been described -square buildings for the shelter of the guards, and at regular intervals a lonely post-house. When we reached one of these the horses were generally running wild in a field, and much time was lost in catching the shaggy, miserable, little creatures, able, however, in spite of their uncouth appearance, to go at a fine pace. The postilions here were far better than Pareti's dawdling boys.
At the entrance of the Pontine Marshes a sort of Flibbertigibbet mounted our barouche-box, and when desired by my father to drive well, nodding a willing
assent, he whipped his horses till we flew along the perfectly straight road at a pace that brought us to the end of the stage as if we were reaching the winning post of a race, while the other three carriages clattered behind. Picturesque figures along the way were some peasants on horseback, armed, whether for defence or sport we could not make out, and shepherds clothed entirely in skins, with coats of sheeps' wool and breeches made of the shaggy long hair of the goat.
After Cisterna, for two posts we traversed a beautiful country, the road bordered with daphne, phyllerea, and other evergreens. We passed two of the places mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles where St. Paul was met by the brethren from Rome -Treporti, formerly called Appii Forum, and Tres Tabernae, the Three Taverns.
At Genzano we caught the first glimpse of the Campagna, and at first were almost inclined to take its long, dark, level line for the sea. At Albano we had hoped to see some of the beautifully picturesque costumes for which its women were noted, but, although it was Sunday, to our great regret few specimens were about.
A few stages more and we were told Rome was in sight, and straining our eyes towards the distance we soon perceived far off and in a mist, yet not to be mistaken, the widely-spread buildings of the Eternal City, and, towering above all, the mighty dome of St. Peter's.
THE ETERNAL CITY
Ruins in every form and of every size now bestrewed the road for many miles, while the long line of the aqueducts rising above the rest and stretching in various directions reminded us of the glorious days, the grandeur and magnificence of Ancient Rome. The whole scene was in perfect unison with the pensive recollections of the historic past, the sublimity of the entrance to Rome as in those long past days, travelling by road we saw it, could scarcely have been exaggerated. At last, much to our satisfaction, we entered Rome at sunset by the Porta San Giovanni, and the first objects that presented themselves within its walls seemed an epitome of all the various sources of interest-classical, poetical, and picturesque-that the city in those far-off days, much less disfigured by modern innovations, offers to an enthusiastic traveller.
On the right was the Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, built to contain the wood of the true cross upon earth brought from the Holy Land; on the left the fine façade of San Giovanni Laterano; in front the portico of the Scala Santa with its inscription in letters of gold.
Behind us lay the long line of indented wall backed by the desolate Campagna and the Alban Hills.
The glorious tints of an Italian sunset with its inimitable and magical beauty, as it were, gilded, crimsoned, and enriched the whole scene. On our way to the Hotel Melloni we observed that the