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only son, a fine young fellow, hardly in
his nineteenth year, to feed the thinned
and exhausted ranks of the defenders. For
two days I had been absent in the trenches,
and on returning to my quarters to
procure a change of clothing I took the
opportunity of inquiring after my friends. The
city reserves had just been called out, and
on the doorstep of his house I found the
father, rifle on shoulder, preparing to join
his company. He shook me by the hand,
and bade me enter.

"How is Richard?" I asked. "Have
you any news of him?"

Without a word my friend crossed the
hall and threw open the dining-room door.
The shutters were closed, and but one
solitary gleam of sunlight pierced the gloom.
Advancing to the table, the old man
partially raised the sheet that covered it, and
in a broken whisper simply said:

"There lies my boy, shot through the
head. They have just brought him home
to us!"


THE bell of the Capitol had sounded.
Pope Innocent the Tenth was dead. He
had died quite alone in about his eightieth
year. His sister-in-law Donna Olimpia,
and her niece, the Princess of Romano, for
whom the weak old man had made sale of
everything during his pontificate, from the
red hat of the cardinal down to the office
of spy of the police, and even to the
sentences of the courts of justice, left him
to his fate as soon as they found that no
soups or essences, none of the cunningly
devised liquids on which he had existed
since he had been unable to take solid
food, would continue to keep him alive.

Donna Olimpia, indeed, took to her bed
as a means of avoiding further trouble
about a moribund pope, and gave out that
she was too ill to nurse him any longer.
Both ladies, however, took care to have
his palace sacked before the breath was out
of his body, and Donna Olimpia surrounded
her own house in the Piazza Navona with
six hundred soldiers, to preserve all old and
recent spoils safe during the critical period
of papal interregnum, when the populace
were more riotous than usual, and until a
new pope should be elected in conclave.

If, however, the populace did not besiege
her palace and relieve her of her ill-gotten
gains, it was not the fault of Pasquin.
Each morning the headless little marble
figure was covered with pasquinades of
bitter and terrible force, directed against
Olimpia and the wealth she had amassed
by her extortionate abuse of her influence
on the late pope. Olimpia, however, replied,
that public report did her injustice; that
she was in reality poor, frightfully poor, so
poor that she was unable to pay for the
funeral expenses of the dead Innocent.
Who would have buried the old man
nobody can tell, had not a friend of early
days, a poor canon whom Innocent had
ill-treated on his advent to power, taken on
him the charge of the funeral, which was
of the meanest. No torches or wax tapers,
only two tallow candles, lit up the wrinkled
and painted face of the papal corpse as it
lay in mockery of state beneath the dome
of St. Peter's.

The day after the pope's interment,
January 18th, 1655, the cardinals met
according to custom in conclave in the
Vatican. There were sixty-nine of them.
Unhappy men! their fate created much
commiseration among some of the ambassadors
and envoys of the European princes,
who, according to rule, visited their cells
on the day on which they were to be shut
up, to see that all was arranged in due
order, and the conclave established according
to rule. Sixty-nine cardinals, accustomed,
most of them, to fare sumptuously,
and to live in vast palaces adorned with the
finest productions of ancient and modern
art, to what a wretched sojourn had they
to submit till it should please Divine
Inspiration to be merciful to them, and
enable their sacred college to combine in
the election of a new pope! Two cells, one
for himself and one for his two attendants,
were allotted to each cardinal; and there
they must live, and sleep, and eat their
meals, which have to be sent through the
little wicket at the gate, till the close of
the conclave. The present conclave,
however, was a fortunate one for the poor
cardinals in one respect. It had among
its members many excellent players at
picquet, and two or three ecclesiastics
of a very humorous spirit, who aided
considerably to enliven the monotony of
its confinement, which proved in this
instance a long one. The maddest wag of
them all was Maidalchini, who, however,
laboured under this disadvantage, that he
was obliged to shut himself up every day
for a considerable time to paint his face
and make his toilette, in order to hide the
ravages which disease and debauchery
had made in his appearance. Maidalchini,