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whether he was doomed to die a natural or a tortured death, only those who were in the secrets of that tribunal would ever know. The power of the Inquisition was unlimited over its victims.
A dark cloud, indeed, now hung over Salvator's head. Fortunately for him, his friend Don Mario Ghigi was powerful. He saw the blow that was about to fall on one to whom he was sincerely attached, and he threw himself between him and the Inquisition. He came to Salvator, and insisted on his writing out a careful explanation of the illfated picture, explaining that he meant no personality, but that he wished to pourtray generally the blindness of fortune, the success of mediocrity, and the too great neglect of genius, talent, worth, and independence.
This averted the actual storm, but it did not turn aside the pique and angry feelings which were still so fresh in injured minds. Rome was evidently no longer either a safe or a
pleasant abode for him, and his friends urged him to leave without an hour's loss of time, for though immediate danger was over, yet he was now a marked man, and sure to be imprisoned on the first possible excuse.
Exactly at this juncture there arrived an invitation from the Court of Florence to Salvator to go and execute some great pictures, promising him a settled annual income during his residence there, besides the price for his pictures,
Salvator at once agreed to go, but he felt bitterly leaving Rome, which suited his taste as a residence better than any other place, and where he had some true friends.
"I go," he said, on the morning of his departure, "but I will spend the end of my life here, and here I will die."
At Florence he was received with open arms. He took a handsome house, collected around him men of talent and learning, and entertained them often of an evening. All
day he worked in his studio with closed doors, and obtained enormous prices for his pictures. His best he sent to Rome to be exhibited in the Pantheon, for he hoped to keep up his name in the city he so loved.
"I will show the Romans," he said, "that though they have proscribed my person, genius is a thing beyond their power to persecute."
His heart so yearned after his friends in Rome, that in about three years time he declared he must go there and see them and the dear old city again, though but for a few days.
He wrote to ask if there would be any
danger in his doing so; and received for answer that he must on no account set his foot in Rome; that he had bitter enemies there who would take care he did not leave it again alive. Unfounded charges of sedition and secret plotting with the lower orders would at once be laid against him if he appeared there, and that he must consider
Rome as a spot of which he must keep entirely clear.
Salvator read the letter gloomily and with much disappointment. The very impossi→ bility of going only fanned the intense desire he felt to be there. Always impetuous and impatient of being thwarted, he suddenly flung down his brush, walked up and down his studio rapidly for a quarter of an hour, then having apparently made up his mind to carry out some scheme he had been planning, he rang the bell for his servant, and desired him to order post horses to set out for Rome in a few hours. He then sat down and wrote a number of notes to take with him, and in a very short time he was speeding along as fast as four horses could take him.
He so arranged his journey as to arrive in Rome after dark, when no one would be able to recognize him, and drove at once to the gardens of the Vigria Navicella, which were closed by that hour. He knew the cus
todian, and a bribe easily gained him admittance. Then he arranged quickly for getting up a supper in the gardens by the light of the almost full moon. Meanwhile he sent off his notes by messengers found by the custodian. In these he had invited his friends, to the number of about sixteen, to meet him at once in the gardens.
Fearing that the heedless, impetuous artist was in some fresh scrape, and had been ordered out of Florence as he had before to fly Rome, they all hastened to the place of rendezvous, and there found Salvator full of spirits and overjoyed at seeing them again. They sat down to supper, as sumptuous a one as money and haste could provide, and thoroughly enjoyed each other's society for some time. Then, at dawn of day, the host bade them all good-bye, and getting into his carriage drove off to Florence, where he arrived without any one there knowing that he had quitted it even for an hour.