Among the Brigands

Language: English
Published: 1 month ago
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Stranger in a strange Land.—A Citadel of Trunks.—Besieged.—Retreat in good Order.—A most tremendous Uproar.—Kicks! Thumps!—Smash of Chain!—Crash of Tables!—A general Row!—The Cry for Help!—The Voice of David!—The Revelation of the Darkness!—The fiery Eyes!—The Unseen!—The Revelation of the Mystery.—A general Fight.

Mr. Moses V. Sprole had passed the greater part of his life in his native village, and being anxious to see the world, resolved upon a tour in Europe. As he did not care to go alone, he offered to take with him his four nephews, who were great favorites with their bachelor uncle, and his chief associates. This offer met with an eager response from the boys, and a willing assent from their parents, who fully believed that a tour of this description would be of immense benefit to them. This brief explanation will serve to account for the appearance of Uncle Moses in Naples, where he landed on a mellow day in February, en route for Switzerland, bowed down with the responsibility of several heavy trunks, and the still heavier responsibility of four fine lumps of boys, of whose troubles, trials, tribulations, and manifold adventures, he seemed, on the present occasion, to have a mournful presentiment.

These troubles began at once; for scarcely had they landed when they found themselves surrounded by the lazzaroni, and the air was filled with a babel of exclamations.

"Signori!" "Signo!" "Moosoo!" "Meestaire!" "Sare!" "Carra ze baggage!" "Tek ze loggage!" "Show ze hotel!" "Hotel della Europa!" "Hotel dell' Inghelterra!" "Hotel dell' America!" "Eccelenza, you wanta good, naisy, rosbif, you comma longsida me!" "Come long!" "Hurrah!" "Bravo!" "O, yais." "Ver nais." "O, yais. You know me. American Meestaire!"

All this, and ever so much more, together with scraps of French, German, Bohemian, Hungarian, Russian, and several other languages which the lazzaroni had picked up for the purpose of making themselves agreeable to foreigners. They surrounded Uncle Moses and his four boys in a dense crowd—grinning, chattering, gesticulating, dancing, pushing, jumping, and grimacing, as only Neapolitan lazzaroni can; and they tried to get hold of the luggage that lay upon the wharf.

Bagged, hatless, shirtless, blessed with but one pair of trousers per man; bearded, dirty, noisy; yet fat and good-natured withal; the lazzaroni produced a startling effect upon the newly arrived travellers.

Uncle Moses soon grew utterly bewildered by the noise and disorder. One idea, however, was prominent in his mind, and that was his luggage. He had heard of Italian brigands. At the sight of this crowd, all that he had beard on that subject came back before him. "Rinaldo Rinaldini," a charming brigand book, which had been the delight of his childhood, now stood out clear in his recollection. The lazzaroni seemed to be a crowd of bandits, filled with but one purpose, and that was to seize the luggage. The efforts of the lazzaroni to get the trunks roused him to action....