Romola

1
It was in the Fifteenth
Century, the golden
age of art, culture and
     discovery --

2
-- when Florence, the
splendor city of Italy, was
ruled by the Medici --

3
-- where Savonarola, the
great evangelist of the
Middle Ages, thundered 
forth his fiery gospel of
       reform --

4
"-- the Medici worship
luxury and pleasure --
not God -- they are not
fit to rule the people --"

5
"-- woe to Florence if
you do not drive out
Piero the profligate Duke!"

6
The home of a great 
  scholar, who lived to
enrich the world by his 
  priceless library

7
Bardo Bardi, a blind
  philosopher, friend of
Savonarola, Michelangelo
and Leonardo da Vinci --

8
Romola, his daughter, lily
  maid of Florence,
learned of books but of 
  the world untaught --

9
In her book-cloistered 
 world she had known 
only one other man --

10
Carlo Bucellini, a gifted
     young artist.

11
Piero de Medici, the lord
  of extravagance and
misrule, had fled -- the city
was without a government
-- at the mercy of a mob --

12
Savonarola vainly trying
  to control the upheaval
of mob passion aroused 
 by his fiery gospel --

13
"How does it happen that 
the owner of such a
jewel must sleep on a 
stone bed with the wind 
   for a curtain?"

14
"I'm a shipwrecked stranger
  who has two needs --"

15
"You can find food in the
marketplace -- and a shave
at the shop of my friend,
   Nello the barber."

16
"Which government do 
you support -- the old
     or the new?"

17
"What is this new
government? Where is 
it? Who are its leaders?"

18
"The people will elect 
them! We are through 
with dukes -- Florence
henceforth will be ruled
   by its people!"

19
Adolfo Spini -- yesterday
  a gamester and soldier
of fortune -- today --

20
"Messer Bardi, I too represent
the new government -- and
I wish to apologize for the
rudeness of these louts and
  offer you an escort --"

21
"Noble sir, behold the
fearless youth who so
boldly sprang from the
cart to rescue you from
these filthy ruffians!"

22
"Bring this brave young
man to my house so
that I may fittingly
express my gratitude."

23
"When you have broken 
your fast, young sir, return
to my shop so I may
beautify you and get you
suitable raiment for your
visit to the Bardi Palace --"

24
"Learned sir, I am in a position
to offer you a high place in 
the new government -- which
greatly needs such an intellect
as yours in its councils --"

25
"Messer Spini, a man of
my age and affliction
could be of little use --
even if I had the 
  inclination."

26
Tessa, a simple country 
 maid, sold garlic and
milk, but in her dreams
were dark-eyed young 
men, out of fairy tales --

27
"Your lips are like a rose
garden, but a hungry man
cannot breakfast wholly
    on flowers --"

28
"For the love of St.
Giovanni, woman, throw
your own vegetables!"

29
At a suitable hour the
  following day --

30
"Sir, I have the honor again
to present to you the noble
young scholar whose brave
deed yesterday made him
your eternal creditor --"

31
"-- a youth, temporarily
reduced by shipwreck,
who wears the ring of 
the highest degree of 
learning in the world!"

32
"His name is Messer Tito
Melema -- at your service."

33
"And so -- farewell."

34
"Messer Melema, I wish to
thank you for the splendid
heroism you showed in
my father's behalf -- and
tell you that I share his 
    debt to you --"

35
Tito knew he was a hero 
  by accident, but he
made no protest. As the
wind blew, so went he!

36
"Sir, will you allow me 
to describe your ring to 
      my father?"

37
"It is the ring given to
those who have received
the highest degree of
the sacred college of
    Pythagoras!"

38
"How could one so young
win so great an honor
-- a prize some men
strive a lifetime to gain
      and fail?"

39
"I was well taught, sir.
My father was a scholar."

40
"He came with you to
     Florence?"

41
"Alas, no. An unfortunate
  accident at sea --"

42
"Sir, will you permit my 
father to touch your 
face? It is his way of 
       seeing."

43
"Who is this Greek and
whence does he come?"

44
"Remember, sir, you too
have a rare gem! Take
care no man gets it
who is not worthy to
possess such a jewel --"

45
The eyes of love are 
  keen -- and Carlo was
quick to discern the
  change in Romola.

46
"My name? Well -- call
     me -- Naldo."

47
"I regret to see you
and your father show
so much interest in this
Greek. Are you sure
he is all he appears?"

48
"I do not think it either
honest or kind of you 
to attack him behind 
     his back!"

49
"Learned sir, like iron to
the magnet have I been
drawn to your splendid 
    library --"

50
This year the carnival had
 greater significance --
Florence celebrated a new 
government -- a government
   of the people --

51
"Naldo!!"

52
The Florentines, fond of
practical joking, enjoyed
most the buffoon who
made sport of the
marriage ceremony.

53
"Look -- a holy father
marrying folk -- just like
     in church --"

54
What was a great joke to
  Tito was very real
       to Tessa.

55
"I must have a wedding
         ring."

56
"It's my wedding ring --
I can't give it back!"

57
"Go back to him and let
him feed you -- you
ungrateful flibbertigibbet!"

58
"Messer Tito, our new
government has need of
a gentleman and scholar
of such note as yourself
-- Come to my house,
and I will show you how
you can go far in the 
affairs of Florence."

59
"I have given you a seat
in the Council of Eight --
the new law-making body
  of Florence --"

60
"-- in due time I will 
raise you to the post of
Gonfalonier, the Chief
    Magistrate --"

61
"NALDO!!"

62
The chill shadows of
  evening found the
little bride homeless and
       alone --

63
"You're my husband -- I 
have no home -- nobody
-- only you! You can't
ever leave me any more!"

64
"-- for days the Frate has
fasted and prayed for the
departed soul of his dear
friend -- Bardo Bardi --"

65
A little house outside the 
    walls of Florence

66
"Now, little wife, remember
my warning -- entertain no
visitors and tell no one of
     our marriage --"

67
"Forgive me, dear Romola,
but last week -- I was
called into the country --
by important affairs; and
only this moment have I 
       heard --"

68
"Command me in this sad 
matter as if I were already 
your husband -- for I intend
that our marriage shall take
place as soon as custom 
     permits --"

69
One day a strange old man 
   appeared in Pisa --

70
"With the Leaning Tower
at your back, go straight
to the River Arno -- and
 thence to Florence --"

71
A great joy had come
     to Tessa.

72
While the wedding bells 
  pealed for Romola.

73
"Away, beggar! And take
your place with the rest
of the ragged gentry
who are waiting for the 
bridegroom's gold --"

74
"My son! My son! I thought
    you were dead --"

75
"Take this madman away
 -- I know him not!"

76
"Where did you know
Messer Tito Melema?"

77
"He is my foster-son. I am
Baldasarre Calvo. One day
we were returning from
Greece on a peaceful
Italian barque when --"

78
"PIRATES!"

79
"My ring -- the emblem of
the sacred college of
Pythagoras -- will be your
passport. Every scholar
will honor its wearer --"

80
"-- these gems will bring 
enough gold to pay my 
ransom. Sell them in
Florence and search for 
me among the pirate 
  settlements --"

81
"Women, go below! Men,
come forward and take 
arms to defend the ship!"

82
Greek fire! The cruelest
  and most dreaded 
weapon of the pirates.

83
"Quick, my son -- through
       the window!"

84
"For months I was held 
captive in the pirate's 
      camp --"

85
"Finally I escaped -- made
my way to Pisa -- came
to Florence and -- well
you saw how he treated 
   me -- but wait!"

86
Eager preparations to help 
Tito fulfill his promise
to complete her father's 
        work --

87
"Everything is ready for 
you -- we can begin on
the volume father left 
    unfinished --"

88
"Dear wife, I had no intent 
to appear harsh -- but I
am under a heavy strain
-- drafting new laws for 
     Florence --"

89
"Nay, Tito, I am to blame
-- I should have realized
you were troubled -- I am
the one who should ask 
    forgiveness --"

90
"Say no more, dear Romola
-- I freely forgive you."

91
"What is the price of this
          knife?"

92
"I have arranged to give a 
banquet here -- to celebrate
my approaching elevation
to the chair of Gonfalonier,
  the Chief Magistrate."

93
Night after night in
  the shadow of the
  Bardi Palace --

94
-- a dazed, shattered brain
unhinged by privation and
grief, aflame with a mad,
formless obsession --

95
"What can be delaying 
Carlo? I fear some
accident has befallen 
       him --"

96
"Do not be concerned about 
Carlo. It is a habit of his
     to be late --"

97
"Look! Carlo has brought
an excuse for his tardiness
-- a ragged old clown to
      divert us!"

98
"I have come, sirs -- but
I seem to forget -- why
      did I come?"

99
"Yes, I remember now --
there is one among you
-- one who sits in a
 place of honor --"

100
"I am his father by every 
tie except blood! I found
him in a Syrian slave
mart -- rescued him --
educated him as my own 
       son --"

101
"-- and yet he left me to 
rot in a pirate camp --
unransomed -- while he
sold my gems and lived
like a lord -- boasting a 
sacred scholarship which
rightfully belongs to me!"

102
"There is the traitor
 -- liar, thief --"

103
"I recognize this man 
       now --"

104
"He was once a servant 
in my father's household
-- obsessed with an insane 
idea that I had deprived
him of riches and a great 
        name --"

105
"Come, my friend, let
us discuss this matter in 
   another place --"

106
As a leaf by the wind,
  Tito was lifted by
Spini to the highest office
in the Council of Eight.

107
"My new law shows no 
mercy to any citizen,
layman or priest who
dares to lift his voice
against our government!
The penalty is death!"

108
The great scholar, the world
  had once delighted to
honor -- denied, an outcast,
without a place to rest his 
        weary head --

109
"Tito's new law will silence
Savonarola's dangerous
        tongue!"

110
"-- during Savonarola's
absence we must work
among the people --
inflame and poison their 
minds against him --"

111
Tito had asked to be left 
  undisturbed in the
library -- and Romola was
certain at last the obligation
to her father's memory
was being fulfilled --

112
"You have sold my father's 
         library!"

113
"You are my wife -- and I
am master of this house!"

114
"You knew those books
contained my father's
dearest dream -- an
ambition I shared to the
dedication of my whole 
life -- a work you swore 
    to complete!"

115
"I can believe anything of 
you now! Everything that
poor old man said at the
banquet must be true!
You robbed him -- even
as you robbed my father!"

116
Days of aimless wandering
  had brought Baldassarre
  to the river's edge.

117
Happily unaware of all 
  this turmoil was Tessa,
with no thought in her 
pretty head but Naldo --

118
"I like to be with you,
Tessa -- you're so restful
and sweet -- and not
troubled with brains --
like some folk I know --"

119
"I have made plans to move 
  you into the city --"

120
The great house of Bardi
  had become a tomb of
 dead happiness -- and
Romola fled from it to hide
her broken life in a strange,
    unfriendly world.

121
"A man with a cart will 
call and bring you to 
  our new house --"

122
Savonarola hastening back
to Florence to protest
against the law which
threatened the freedom of 
  his beloved people --

123
"Through me -- God
commands you to
return home. For your
duty -- like mine -- lies
    in Florence."

124
"Stop -- wait -- I've lost
    my wedding ring!"

125
"Good Saint! I beg you
 -- help me find --"

126
"-- shut up, you little
devil, or I'll kill you!"

127
  "By the new law the
Church is closed to you!"

128
"The time predicted is here
-- you have chosen a
government of tyranny --
    not freedom --"

129
"Repent! A judgment of
God is at hand -- a sword
is suspended over you --
Florence is doomed for 
   her iniquity --"

130
"Heretic!"

131
"Treason!"

132
"Fakir!"

133
"Heretic!"

134
"Heretic!"

135
"People of Florence, is
this holy man to die
-- for doing what he
believes is right?"

136
"Savonarola has been
arrested! Mistress Romola
rose to defend him -- and
was trampled under the
 feet of the mob --"

137
"You call it a government 
of the people! I call it a
government of cowardly 
      ruffians!"

138
"-- who make war on our
women and trample them 
   in the streets!"

139
A pain-wracked aftermath 
of horror wherein hours
seemed like days -- and days
     like hours --

140
"Savonarola, you have been
tried and convicted on two
charges -- preaching against
the government -- and
       heresy --"

141
"-- in due time we will
announce the manner of
 your punishment --"

142
"My friends, you have saved
Florence by convicting this
heretic monk -- who sought
to madden the people into
    another uprising."

143
"-- but there is one other
far more dangerous than
     Savonarola --"

144
"-- Adolfo Spini, who at
this moment is preparing
to seize the vacant
throne of the Medici!"

145
"-- give me power to save
the city from this arch-
plotter -- by placing me on 
      that throne!"

146
"Go to sleep -- and when
Naldo comes he will tell 
you about Savonarola --"

147
Morning found a strange 
 silence hanging over 
     the city --

148
-- a curious, expectant 
hush that filled Romola
with dread and foreboding
she could not explain --

149
"-- one Savonarola,
convicted of heresy, is
condemned to death --
by hanging and fire!"

150
"-- and all other traitors
convicted of speaking 
against the government
are hereby sentenced to 
       death --"

151
"-- your warrant decrees
death for all those who
have spoken or plotted
against the government?"

152
"-- that was my decree!
It is a law and must be 
       obeyed!"

153
"The Greek has fallen into 
his own trap -- he cannot
possibly escape -- his
hiding place is known --
  he will burn with 
     Savonarola."

154
"When a man seeks to 
rule Florence from a 
throne does he not plot
against the very soul of
a government of the
      people?"

155
"He is the traitor of traitors 
  -- the liar of liars --"

156
"His name! Tell us his
name -- we will tear him
      to pieces!"

157
"Naldo!!"

158
"It's the mob! For the love
of God, don't let them
take me -- they'll burn me
   with Savonarola!"

159
"I'm afraid to die --
I want to live. Help 
me escape! Save me!"

160
"Here is the only way --"

161
"Holy Madonna! Take care 
      of my baby!"

162
"Forgive them, Father, they
know not what they do."

163
"Please, God, make them
listen -- make them see!"

164
"We are doomed! It is 
the deluge Savonarola
prophesied! God have
    mercy on us!"

165
"A Miracle! A Miracle!"

166
Thus died a sinner and a 
 saint, one the victim of
a lie, the other a martyr
      to truth --

167
Life inflicts no hurts life
  itself cannot heal. If
winter is bleak, spring will
be more fair, and summer
will have its rose and its
        romance --

168
-- and the ever-faithful
Carlo had returned to
    comfort Romola.

169
"The world will learn its 
greatest lesson from women 
like you, Romola -- women
who stand at the foot of
every Cross -- and teach 
 men to be more kind."

THE END

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