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66 The

HOMMAGE AUX DAMES. OR, A NEW YEAR'S PRESENT. ANOTHER extremely pretty pre stragglers. To enforce his orders, too,

sent for the near approaching he has an ugly raw-boned Swiss for a holiday tiine of the year, dedicated “ to porter, who threatened to cudgel me the Ladies," and not unworthy of one day for walking too near his gartheir patronage. The literary contri- den wall, and the Gascon Captain butions wbich fill it are anonymous, Sangfeu, who cut off poor Blaise's ear for the writers whisper they are aware for doing as little." There is also a that to talk of themselves is not the hint of a poor young lady being shut way to please the ladies. Both the up in this guarded mansion; and it prose and verse, nevertheless, do them may be anticipated that Ascanio wanmuch credit; and there is above a hun- ders that way. “A long garden, isdred and fifty pages of very agreeable closed by a high wall, and thickly reading, before we come to a liule mu- planted on both sides with trees, which sical piece, blank pages for a diary, entirely concealed its interior from and places of amusement in the me- view, was at the back, and it was this tropolis. To exemplify our opinion, which Ascanio first approached. we shall endeavour to compress

“ He heard a low voice which he Haunted Head, or la Testa di Marte,” thought was that of a woman in disan exceedingly well told story, into tress, and listening more intently and such compass as our limits admit:

approaching nearer, he was satisfied THE HAUNTED HEAD. that his first impression was correct. “ It was yet early on a May morn

He distinctly heard sobs and such ex. ing, the year 1540, when two trav- pressions of sorrow as conrinced bim ellers alighted at the little cabaret, that the person from whom they proknown by the sign of Les quatre fils ceeded was indulging her grief alone. d' Aymon at the entrance of the forest A large birch tree grew against the of Fontainbleau. They rode two garden wall near the place where he very sorry horses, and each of them stood; he paused for a moment to de carried a package behind bis saddle." liberate whether he could justify the

These were the famous Benvenuto curiosity he felt, when the hint of Cellini, “as mad a man of genius as the hostess that a lady was imprithe sun of Italy, which has long been soned there, came across his mind, and used to mad geniuses, ever looked without further hesitation he ascended upon," and his handsome pupil Asca the tree. • . - Ascanio looked from nio, who were carrying sone works of

the height he had gained, and sas a art to the King of France at Fontain- young female sitting on a low garden bleau. For reasons assigned, Cellini seat immediately below the bough on sets out by himself leaving Ascanio; which he stood. She was weeping, and be, getting tired towards evening, At length, raising her head, she dried proposes to walk in the forest ; but, her eyes, and taking up a guitar which before setting out, is specially warned lay beside her, she struck some of the to take care, in the first place, that chords, and played the symphony to a the Gardes de Chasse did not shoot plaintive air which was then re] him instead of a buck; and in the known. Ascanio gazed in breathless next, that he did not stray too near a

anxiety, and wondered that one so fait large house, which he would see at should have cause for so deep a sorros about a quarter of an hour's walk dis as she was evidently suffering under. tant to the right of the path.” This In a colloquy' which ensues, she fie house, the host tells hin “ belongs 10

horts him to fly, tells him she is an ethe Chancellor Poyet, who says he

phan whom Poyet wants to force inte does not choose to be disturbed in the marriage; and finally agrees to eloce meditations to which he devotes him with her young lover. self for the good of the state, by idle “Ascanio clasped the maiden in his

arms, and once kissed her fair fore- half dead with horror, awaited the ishead, by way of binding the compact. sue of the contest. The assailants He looked up to the wall to consider came on with great fury; and as they the best means of enabling the lady to were three to two, the odds were rather scale it, when he saw above it a man's in their favour. They consisted of the head looking at them. Ascanio at first Gascon Captain, the porter, and a serthought ey were betrayed, but the vant, who seemed to be in no great expression of the face, which he con- hurry to begin the fight; they appeartinued to look at, removed his alarm ed astonished at finding two opponents, on this head.

It was a

very fine having seen only Ascanio from the countenance, highly intelligent, and house. They fell on, however, in uncommonly good-humoured. It seem- pretty good order. It happened to be ed, as well as Ascanio could guess, by the lot of the stranger, perhaps bethe thick beard and mustaches, to be cause he was the bigger man, to enlong to a man of middle age. He had counter the servant and the Captain. a long pointed nose, bright eyes, and Just as they came up, he loosened his very white teeth; a small cap just cloak from his throat, and twisting it stuck on the left side of his head gave very lightly round his left arm, he a knowing sort of look to his appeare made as serviceable a buckler as a ance, and added to the arch expression man should wish to use. Upon this he of his visage, as he put his finger on caught the Captain's first blow, and his lips to enjoin silence when Asca- dealt in return so shrewd a cut upon pio looked up at him.

the serving man's head, as laid him on 666 Hush,' he said, “it is a very rea

the forest turf without the least inclisonable bargain on both sides, very

nation to take any further share in the disinterested, and strongly sworn to. combat. The fight was now nearly And now, my children, as I have been equal; and to do him justice, the a witness to it, although unintention- Gascon Captain was a fair match for ally, I feel bound to help your escape.most men. The stranger, however, Ascanio hardly knew what answer to

was one to whom fighting was evidentmake; but as he saw it was perfectly ly any thing but new : and in less than indifferent to the stranger, who knew five minutes the Captain lay beside the the whole of his secrct, whether he servant so dead, that if all the monks should trust him or not, he resolved to in Christendom had sung a mass in his accept his offer. He told him of the ears he would not have heard it. difficulty he had to get the lady over 6. I have owed you this good turn a the wall.”

very long time, my gallant Captain While employed on this, “ three Sangfeu. I have not forgotten an ill fellows were seen stealing round the turn you did me at Pavia, when you walls with their swords drawn.

did not wear the rebel Bourbon's live“« By St. Dennis we have been ry; but there's an end of all, and you reckoning without our host,' cried the die as a soldier should.' And as the stranger, they don't mean to let us stranger muttered this, he wiped the part thus. Come, my spark,' he said blood-drops off his own sword, and to Ascanio, “you will have some ser- looked at the fight which was continuvice for that sword you wear, and ing between the Swiss and Ascanio, which,

pray heaven, you know how to but did not seemed inclined to inter

Do you stand on the other side fere. “ Save him, for mercy's sake, of the tree, Madam,' he said, putting cried the lady. By our Holy Lady,' the lady on his horse, and if the worst he replied, I think he wants no aid. should betide, gallop down the path, He is making gallant play with his keeping the high road till you come to slender rapier there against the large Paris; inquire for the Nunnery of St. weapon of the Swiss. You shall see Genevieve, and give this ring to the him win you, Madam, or I have misAbbess, who is a relation of mine; she taken my

Well evaded ! will ensure you protection.'

there he has it!' he shouted, as As6 The lady received the ring, and, canio's sword entered his antagonist's

use.

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body until the shell struck against his the form of a gigantic face, representbreast-bone, and the giant fell at the ing the aspect of the God of Battles, youth's feet

and a very terrible affair to look upon 66 "The varlet may get over it,' it was. said the stranger, kicking the ser " Ascanio, who had often been vant's body; but for the other two, much annoyed by the discordant noises I'll be their gage they'll never come with which bis master conducted bis out to assassinate honest men on moon- labours, and no less by the incessant light nights again. But away with talking of the old house-keeper, had you, turning to Ascanio, we shall found a refuge from both in the cavity have the whole country up in five of this head, where he had formed a minutes ; begone :' and he held the very convenient, and not a very small horse while Ascanio mounted. apartment. Here he used to study

“But what will you do?' returned painting and music, both of which he the youth.

loved far better than either sculpture “I am not far from home, and if or working in gold; and he had been the hunt should become hot, I'll get up wise enough never to tell Cellini er one of these trees; but take care of the any other person of this retreat. He horse, he'll carry you six leagues in an entered it easily by a chasm from the hour. Good bye, Rabican,' he added, ground, and a small ladder, which he patting the steed's neck, who by his had placed within side, conducted him pawing seemed to know his master. up to his chamber.

The lovers do indeed put the speed 6 Cellini's oddities and the uncereof this noble animal to the test, and monious method he had adopted of get6 his gallop was as wild as if it would ting possession of the N Piccol Nelle, never end.” But, on reaching Paris, had made bim many enemies. Among Ascanio is at a loss how to dispose of others, there was a wretched little his fair charge.

tailor, who had the honour of being “ He was at this time living with employed for some of the Counseillers Cellini, in an old castellated house on du Parlement." This tailor becomes the left bank of the Seine, which had for certain reasons the implacable foe formed part of the Nesle Palace, and of Cellini. “ He took a garret directwhich Cellini bad called Il Piccolly opposite bis house, where he used to Nello. Almost all the chambers, ex- watch the motions of the inbabitants cepting the few in which they dwelt, of n Piccol Nello, and to soften the were occupied by the numerous works exasperation of his mind, he bestowed in which the artist was engaged. At on them from morning till night all the length Ascanio's fertile invention sug- maledictions his ingenuity could ingested to him an expedient, by which vent. He had heard noises proceedhe might ensure an asylum for the ing from the monstrous plaster head lady, for a short time at least, until he in the court-yard, and even sometimes should be able to explain the whole af- in the dead of the night he had seen fair to Cellini.

two streams of light issuing from the “ Among the odd whims which, great eyes, but as he had no notion that from time to time, reigned in the cra- Ascanio was then within the head, zy brain of Cellini, that of making a drawing by the light of a lamp, or colossal statue of Mars, had for a long playing upon a guitar, which he actime been paramount, and he had pro- companied with his voice, the little ceeded so far as to make the head of tailor's fears and malice induced him the figure, when some other freak to spread a report that Cellini was an drew off his attention. This head was enchanter, and that the Testa di about as large as the cottage of a Lon- Marte he had made, was some demodon ruralist, and occupied a large space niacal contrivance which he had aniin the court-yard of Il Piccol Nello. mated for the destruction of the good The frame was made of solid timber, city of Paris. Not content with reand the outside covered with a very porting this throughout the quarter in thick plaster, which was moulded into which he dwelt, he told it among all

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the lacquais of all the Conseillers he in the world of whom he had ever knew, until at length the story of the been afraid) to themselves. He said Devil's Head in Il Piccol Nello was as he would see Cellini, who had staid well known as any other current lie in all night in the palace by his orders ; the city."

and the artist was accordingly sent for. In this chamber Beatrice is placed : “« How now, Cellini," said the meanwhile the Chancellor had found monarch, as he approached, did I his bullies where Ascanio left them, send for you to Paris that you should but could persuade “none of the bring with you troops of fiends and dethree to tell him what bad brought mons, who, it is said, help you in your them into so sad a plight, and for this works.' reason ; two of them were stone-dead, 6. I have no devils to help me in and the other was so faint, from the my work,' said Cellini, “but your maloss of blood, that he could not speak, jesty's subjects; and if my great and seemed very likely to follow his countryman, Alighieri, were to lead companions." He however pursues me through all the darkest places in the fugitives, “ resolved, in his rage, the Inferno, I could not find worse to devote the youth to utter ruin, as fiends.' soon as he should catch him ; and, in “6 But here,' said the king, holdthe meantime, he proposed to glut his ing out the papers, 'two men swear rage by sacrificing Benvenuto Cellini, that you have a head of the devil in who, as we said before, had made him. Il Piccol Nello, and that the whole of self many enemies, by an unlucky the neighbourhood is infested by his habit he had of threatening to kill peo- legions, to the disturbance of the public ple with whom he had any disputes. tranquillity, and the great scandal of A practice which, although it has its our holy church.' advantages, would, if generally adopt “ The confessor crossed himself. ed, be highly injurious to all legal pro 666 I abjure the devil and bis powfessions; and which, therefore, deserv. ers,” said Cellini, crossing himself with ed the most severe reprobation of a no less fervour; "and next to them, I Chancellor."

hate and abhor the villains who have Aware of Cellini's favour with the thus slandered me to your gracious King, he is obliged to tread warily; Majesty. Give me to know their but the superstition of that age render- names, and I swear they shall be beted a charge of sorcery too grave to be ter acquainted with the real devil ere parried. The haunted head is there. long."" fore made the hinge on which the ar The King decides, on examining tist's ruin is to turn; and the Duchess into the matter personally ; but Ascad'Estampes, the King's mistress, and nio bad. married the fair Beatrice behis Majesty's confessor, both enemies fore the royal commission got to Paris, of Cellini, enter into the confederacy and was gone to restore the stranger's against him.

horse, according to the directions he The confessor “ devoutly believed bad received, at the time it arrived in all the legends of the Romish at the Testa di Marte, wherein the church, and thought it highly proba- Bride was lodged. ble, that a man who could execute 66 The consternation of Beatrice such beautiful sculptures, as Cellini had may be better imagined than described, exhibited on the preceding day, must when she heard the arrival of so many be in league with the devil. When, strangers; but it was increased to an therefore, the Chancellor began to tell almost intolerable degree as she listenhis story, these two worthy personages ed to the conversation which ensued, chimed in, and backed his villainous and heard the odious voice of her opproject so well, that the good-natured pressor, the Chancellor. She could King was diverted from his first in- not see any of the persons unless she tention, which had been to kick the had looked out at the eyes of the Chancellor, and to leave the confessor figure, and this she dared not to do and the soltana (the only two persons lest she should discover herself.

666 And this,' said the King, is invent some pretext upon which Celliwhat they call the Devil's Head. ni might be sent to prison, and knor.

666 Who calls it so ?? asked Cellini, ing that their influence with the King fiercely, it is the head of Mars, and was much greater than his own, the whoever has called it the head of the Confessor fell into his scheme readily, Devil is an ass and a liar!'

and he said he did not doubt that there “6 Patience, good Benvenuto,' said was a spirit in the head, and repeated the King ; . let us hear what they have that it ought to be exorcised. The to say against the head, which seems King had no objection to this, and as to be a very fine work of art, whe- he had already enjoyed the farce so ther it has been wrought by man or far, he wished to see it played. Some denon.'

of the brethren of the neighbouring “ The Chancellor, who had taken Carmelite Church were sent for, in all care upon the journey to mature his haste, and preparations made for the plans, now produced the little tailor, exorcising. The Confessor directed a who saw here a glorious opportunity of large stack of faggots, which stood in being revenged on his formidable an a corner of the yard, to be laid around tagonist. He, therefore, began a. the head; because, he said, the applilong story, every third word of which cation of fire was always necessary to was a lie, about the sights he had seen dislodge a spirit so malignant as that and the sounds he had beard, in and appeared to be which had taken up about this dreadful head. He had its abode in this structure. The preoften seen the foul fiend himself go in parations were soon made, and a torch and out, he said; he had heard the applied, when a faint shriek was heard devils performing the sacred office of to issue from the head. All the bymass backwards; he had seen flames standers looked aghast ; the Priests issue from the mouth, and no longer crossed themselves; even the King ago than last night, as he was a Chris- looked grave; Cellini's bair stood on tian and a tailor, he swore that he had end; and the tailor ran away. At seen two fiends enter the head, imme, this moment Ascanio bad returned diately after which it was seen, to roll from the park, and learniog from a its fiery eyes in a manner truly horrible bystander that they were about to erand awful.

orcise the Magic Head, at the Italian “ It would be impossible to convey sculptor's, because there was a spirit any adequate notion of the extrava. in it, he rushed in just time enough to gances which Cellini committed while dash the torch from the hand of à lay this little idiot was uttering his lies. brother of the Carinelites, who was apIf he had not been restrained he plying it, and whom he knocked dowo, would have killed him on the spot; he at the same time trampling out the fire roared all sorts of imprecations, he which had begun to catch one of the cursed every tailor that had been on faggots. the earth since the creation, and then, 666 Fiends, monsters ! he cried, 'adadding all those curses together, hevance one step, and your lives shall heaped them in a lump on the head of be the forfeit.' the particular tailor then before him ; “ Beatrice heard his voice, and alin short, he acted so whimsical a mad- most fainting with terror, she rushed ness, that the King laughed until his out, and threw herself into his arros. sides ached.

Supporting her with his left arm and “ The Chancellor, however, took holding out bis sword with his right, up the matter in a much more serious he continued to menace all who should light. He said it was evident from the approach. relation of the witness, that some foul 6. What means all this?' cried the deeds were practised, and that the King. But Ascanio was too much head ought to be exorcised; never busied in encouraging the terrified girl doubting that if he could once gain the to listen to the question. assistance of the Clergy, they would “ The old Chancellor, however, who

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