In the immense variety of souls, the endless study of the philosopher and the artist, an inexhaustible subject of meditations, one often encounters certain individualities so characteristic and singular as to attract all the attention of the observer. They are men who rise, with the flight of their aspirations, to the highest regions of humanity; virtue is everything to them, the world nothing; the society in which they live does not have the strength to obstruct their noble thought with the triviality of rules and conveniences or with the infinite petty demands of daily needs: virtue is their existence, not that virtue of convention and use, but that that in the eyes of the vulgar man it is a daily heroism, and that the more sublime it is the more obscure and contemptuous of vain glory. The ground where they rest their foot has no more attractions and importance for them than the twig on which the nozzle stops for a moment to soar; the fral is for them the greedy envelope from which they burn to release themselves.
Among these men was Maurice Barkley, who knew how to rise above the ignobility of his race. In the moral world it happens the same as in the physical world. The apparent irregularities, which excite our anger, which cause wrong and rash judgments to be uttered, which confuse our futile and vain science, seem such for the reason that we see them from one point only and with the limited extent of our view.
Everything may seem irregular in the eyes of man: everything is level in the eyes of God.
The great souls fight more than the others with the bodies, in which they are restricted: deformity, illnesses or misery tighten the noblest instincts in their cruel stocks: intelligences rise only on the ruins of their own clay. The ingenuity he creates must descend from his height to provide for the piece of bread which must satisfy the request of the stomach; and often that piece of bread will only be obtained by dint of humiliations, of improper efforts, of sufferings. Society reveres ingenuity, lo admire; but he leaves him to perish of hunger. Ignorance often accompanies riches; the honors of the world are with the trousseau of vice; and virtue is found even more often under rags.
The noblest soul was in the body of the vilest creature, in the body of a slave: Maurice Barkley, the abject merchandise bought with a few shillings, the last and most despicable of the Chattels  purchased by Baronet Edmund Brighton, had received from God a sublime soul. The name of Maurizio Barkley was given to this slave by Edmund himself, after which he had saved him from certain death in the Circus of Cuba. The name that Maurice had previously was none other than Quickeye (swift eye) for sharpness of his sight, whence he rendered important services in hunting wild beasts.
Maurizio was born in the Colonia del Capo in the Cafreria: his parents, probably slaves, were unknown. At the age of six he was just sold to a slave trader and transported to the English Indies in Patma, the capital of the Bahor west of Bengal. The masculine features of his face, the extreme courage he had displayed since childhood, the supreme intelligence that distinguished him endeared him to his master, who never wanted to get rid of them at any price. But at his death Maurizio was embarked, together with hundreds of other unhappy companions, and brought to America, where he was bought by the Baronet Brighton.
We said that after the event of the fight with the bull, Edmondo, who had discovered in Mauritius the noblest and most elevated heart, raised him to the dignity of a man, took away the nickname of Quickeye , and all the signs of slavery; he gave him the name of Barkley, he wanted to give him the freedom that he refused for the extraordinary and immense affection he bore to his master. But Edmund regarded him as a free man, and he too put love on him. A he approached him as a very tender friend, and granted him the most unlimited trust, telling him all his past life and the follies of his youth.
We have said elsewhere that in addition to the task of watching over the steps of the Duke of Gonzalvo in Naples, Maurizio had received another mission from the Baronet. And what was this? The most dilicate, the noblest, the most scrupulous that had ever been entrusted to a man in the world. For many years Maurizio had been in charge of looking after the sustenance of five creatures, natural children of Edmondo, and whose home and state of life he knew perfectly well.
How did Maurizio fulfill this singular and bizarre mission, to which the Baronet had destined him in order to somewhat quell the remorse of his conscience? Maurizio received a sum every month, half of which was used for his needs and to support himself with all the decorum of a rich gentleman (an indispensable condition for the disengagement of his mandate with the Duke of Gonzalvo) and the other half was destined for sustenance. of the five young men, fruits of Edmondo’s youthful follies, and to pay the subordinate agents of his trust Maurizio. These five young men, among whom was Daniel, and of whom two were women, received the monthly sum of fifty ducats. Maurizio kept an agent of his confidence in each village where one of the Baronet’s sons lived. Before settling in Naples, Maurizio had personally visited, according to the indications received by the Baronet himself, each child whose sustenance he had to look after, and had ascertained the identity of the individuals with the utmost scrupulousness. With what dilicacy he should behave in this regard and with what circumspection, it is very easy to imagine, all the more if one minds the strict prohibition he had to make known the provenance of the monthly subsidy which he brought or caused to bring to the sons of the Baronet. Although Maurizio had chosen men of complete honesty as his subordinate agents, he nevertheless kept them perfectly in the dark about everything that was not administrative practice; and he used these men as mere arms, as mechanical and unintelligent tools. Each month Maurizio received the five receipts from the five individuals who collected the money, and those received and sent faithfully to the Baronet, who thus saw every month the writing of his children, and his heart was at least satisfied in this in the to know that these innocents suffered no lack of means of life. Although Maurizio had chosen men of complete honesty as his subordinate agents, he nevertheless kept them perfectly in the dark about everything that was not administrative practice; and he used these men as mere arms, as mechanical and unintelligent tools. Each month Maurizio received the five receipts from the five individuals who collected the money, and those received and sent faithfully to the Baronet, who thus saw every month the writing of his children, and his heart was at least satisfied in this in the to know that these innocents suffered no lack of means of life. Although Maurizio had chosen men of complete honesty as his subordinate agents, he nevertheless kept them perfectly in the dark about everything that was not administrative practice; and he used these men as mere arms, as mechanical and unintelligent tools. Each month Maurizio received the five receipts from the five individuals who collected the money, and those received and sent faithfully to the Baronet, who thus saw every month the writing of his children, and his heart was at least satisfied in this in the to know that these innocents suffered no lack of means of life. as of mechanical and unintelligent tools. Each month Maurizio received the five receipts from the five individuals who collected the money, and those received and sent faithfully to the Baronet, who thus saw every month the writing of his children, and his heart was at least satisfied in this in the to know that these innocents suffered no lack of means of life. as of mechanical and unintelligent tools. Each month Maurizio received the five receipts from the five individuals who collected the money, and those received and sent faithfully to the Baronet, who thus saw every month the writing of his children, and his heart was at least satisfied in this in the to know that these innocents suffered no lack of means of life.
During Daniele’s residence in Manheim and in the house of the Baronet, he once received from Maurizio Barkley, among other receipts from his sons, that of Daniele, except that this bore the surname Fritzheim and not de ‘Rimini, because, if Our readers remember well, the first time that Daniele signed the receipt for the fifty ducats, he was still in the house of Giacomo the roadster, and he had not yet given himself the surname of de ‘Rimini. Oh if Edmondo could have suspected that the young Italian pianist Daniele de ‘Rimini who lived in his own home and to whom he had placed so much love on him, was none other than Daniele Fritzheim, his son, the fruit of the infamous seduction on the person of the unfortunate woman. Juanita of Gonzalvo! And oh! if Daniele, in receiving the usual policy from an unknown hand in the rich hostel of Manheim, he could have supposed that the real donor of that monthly money was none other than Baronet Edmondo, Count of Sierra Blonda, his father! For what reason had Edmondo formally forbidden Maurizio Barkley to ever reveal to his children, and for any circumstances, his name, his qualities, his retirement and the bonds of nature? Edmund had done so many unfortunates, had brought dishonor to so many families; that he wanted, in part compensating for the evil he had done, to remain unknown to all, to abandon himself without disturbance to the rested and peaceful life that he promised to lead in the Manheim retreat. On the other hand, he feared private revenge, hatred, jealousy: he feared the reprisals of his many enemies.
Another circumstance we must remind our readers, so that nothing remains unexplained in this regard. So what Daniele does presented for the first time in the eyes of Maurice Barkley, he uttered the following words . Here is one that looks like him! Now it is no longer necessary to explain the feeling of this sentence. Maurizio was alluding to the likeness of Edmund’s four other sons, from whom he had not been able to draw any argument of similarity.
When Maurizio received Daniele’s receipt in Naples on the date of Manheim, he was surprised by the bizarre case which brought the father and son together in the same country; but nothing yet knew that the pianist lived Schoene Aussicht, that is to say in the same house as the Baronet. Therefore we cannot say how amazed he was in receiving a letter from Baronet himself in which the latter informed him that he had given hospitality to the Italian pianist Daniele de ‘Rimini. Maurizio knew well who Daniele de ‘Rimini was. From this moment, beyond all belief, diluted and difficult came the position of poor Maurizio. Should he reveal to the parent the child’s residence in his own home? Maurizio did not take any resolution in this regard, he waited for another letter from the Baronet to be able to decide at a few steps. Every day Maurizio went to the house of the Duke of Gonzalvo, and the latter always received him with demonstrations of the greatest friendship, for the Duke had experienced in the young Englishman an exemplary honesty and a frank, loyal and upright character. Edmondo, with his extensive reports, had had a powerful letter of recommendation from Spain to the Duke of Gonzalvo in Naples write for Maurizio, and this letter was the means of introduction for Barkley into the house of the Spanish nobleman; who later gave him so effectively his confidence that the doors of his house were open at any hour of the day at Esquire Maurice Barkley.
And almost every day Maurizio saw Emma; he often talked with her, despite that kind of repugnance which the daughter of the Duke of Gonzalvo badly concealed against him. But the conduct, the words of Esquire Barkley were irreproachable, and Emma never had to complain about the slightest infringement that he had committed to the laws of good living. Therefore, the Andalusian girl was often embarrassed by Maurice’s steel gaze, which seemed to want to penetrate the innermost depths of her heart. The physiognomy of the Englishman, ordinarily cold and marble, acquired an indefinable expression close to her; those African eyes shone like two daggers, and the color of his olive face turned white. Emma sometimes admired the whole of Maurice’s head, that there was something extraordinary and exceptional about it. His thick, hard, curly hair studded his temples and the back of his neck like bristly forest, and his eyebrows thickened by the blazing Cafseria sun unfolded like two terrible bows on the two black arrows of his eyes; there was something of the lion in the expression and cut of his head.
In the features of this man was the wild and indomitable nature combined with that mark of nobility that only virtue can give to men. At the same time, slavery had left its indelible mark on his dark, harsh and suspicious character; that ardent soul born to love had been robbed of even the dearest sentiment, filial love. The most brutal condition had been imposed on that man, in whose heart, from the earliest childhood, every lowest and most grim passion had been distilled, which however could not have taken root.
We said that Maurizio saw Emma almost every day. That man who had reached the age of thirty-two in the greatest severity of modesty, and who therefore did not feel the flames of the African sky in his chest; that man who felt his blood boil at the mere hearing of love could not see Emma all days without being poisoned by the eyes of the Spaniard. Soon a dark passion dug a passage in his soul like a mine in the bowels of the earth. And this passion grew, it grew fueled by all the will of Maurizio himself, who found in it the greatest happiness of his life. Incomprehensible oddity! Maurizio was happy in his sepulchral love: no ray of hope flashed on it; and this precisely fueled its hidden flame. The idea of a correspondence from Emma never occurred to him! but that this idea was an absolute impossible for him. Meanwhile he was happy to love Emma: this love was his cult, much better than that barbarianfetishismwho had taught him with the nerbs of slavery. This solitary love gave Maurizio the most singular tendencies. Often he went to the most remote and rural places, visited the villages surrounding Naples, climbed the slope of Vesuvius or Camaldoli, and there, sitting on some hill, or at the sight of the sea, he abandoned himself to the whole melancholy tenderness of his soul. In such internal conversations he opened himself entirely to himself, and he liked to confide in the aura of heaven the sentiments of his heart. The image of Emma was his company: that dear image took ethereal and light forms in his eyes; it covered the colors of the golden cloud that crossed the silent vault of the sky, in the form of a thin fog it bent over the waves of the sea as if to hear its secrets, it gathered under the shade of a plane tree, or faded with the light in the distant horizon. Who can say the strange visions of a virgin and savage soul who loves with the ardor of the deserts, and who is continually forced to withdraw upon herself for lack of echo? Sometimes Maurizio’s volcanic passion burst from her breast like a terrible eruption, and then his eyes, inflamed with tears, revolved like those of the hungry lion that crosses the vastness of the desert without finding something to satisfy his hunger; then the slave made the loneliness of the fields resound with terrible and desperate cries: then everything was unbearable, the motion and the stillness, the company and the solitude, the light and the darkness. But these moments of weakness were rare, because the
Maurizio had hidden the secret of his love in the depths of his soul; it was impossible for the more right and inquiring eye to discover the fiery passion that was boiling in his chest. Emma herself, far from giving it the slightest bit, perceived in the gentleman only a cold selfish. But from the day that Maurizio had saved her from certain danger of life, Emma looked at her with another eye, and kept her in mind. of a sincere and loyal friend. That was certainly the best day of Maurizio’s life. And now it falls into place to say that he, unobserved, always followed Emma wherever she went: and that day of the ride was at first a sad day for him, since Maurizio saw the most graceful knights alongside Emma! every word that the girl addressed to any of them was a dart in the heart of the African. From a distance he never lost sight of her every move. We have already said that he possessed such keen eyesight that among his fellow slaves he had earned the name of Quickeye (swift eye).
Not so soon Maurizio saw Emma leave the party and take the road to S. Maria degli Angeli alle Croci alone., he thought suddenly, with that penetration that only love can give; that the girl was going to visit Lucia Fritzheim. Maurizio already knew the matter of Lucia’s letter which had come into Emma’s hands, he knew of Daniele’s strange proposal to the Duke of Gonzalvo, and he suspected Emma’s inclination towards the young pianist. With one word Maurizio could destroy the whole building of Daniele’s hopes. Even if the Duke of Gonzalvo had had the thought of really waiting for the promised two years: even when Daniele was back as a millionaire and Emma’s beloved lover, a single word would annihilate any union between Daniele and Emma. It was enough that Maurizio had told the Duke of Gonzalvo that Daniele was the natural son of the Count of Sierra Blonda, whom the Duke loathed so much and against whom he had sworn mortal revenge. But the Patna slave had a noble soul. At Lady Boston’s party, he had promised Daniel not to speak, and this promise was sacred to him; the thought of violating it had never entered his mind. Although he ardently loved the Spanish girl, and knew that Daniele’s attentions were not indifferent to her, Maurizio never let slip a word that could have humiliated his lover in the eyes of his beloved. Yet heaven knows how much his heart suffered when Emma, concealing her agitation, spoke to him about the young pianist, about this musical genius, about the brilliant qualities of his spirit. Inside Maurizio despised the foundling, a type of ingratitude, infidelity and disloyalty; and this did not degrade in her eyes for so long, it seems to him cowardice to use a secret to make him lose the esteem of the woman he loves. Although a rival, Maurizio despised Daniel, and he was too noble and haughty in spirit to stoop to useless abuse. And let’s say useless, because Maurizio never hoped to acquire Emma’s love for himself, and the thought of a correspondence of affections was very far from his mind.
But from the day when Maurizio had the great fortune to expose his life to free the beloved Andalusian from terrible danger, the words uttered by Emma constantly enveloped in his soul as he set out for Lucia Fritzheim’s house. This girl had said: save my heart after saving my life! Emma therefore loved !!
Maurizio also remembered that Gonzalvo’s daughter had said: Let’s go and spread the comfort of charity where the blackest perfidy has spread pain, misery, and wanted to spread ignominy!
There was no doubt: that black perfidy could not refer to anybody else on Emma’s lips but to Daniel. She therefore knew that she had been deceived by him about Lucia Fritzheim. Maurizio coldly questioned himself; he asked his conscience what he had to do to save Emma’s heart . Betray Daniel? Never.
Maurizio thought for several days about what he should do: and one fine morning, a cold resolution was made.
What was Maurizio Barkley going to do?