"Shall I write to Nina? Will writing be allowed here?"
As I was puzzling my brains with these reflections, stretched on my bed (for I had no chair), I heard some disturbance, and on opening my window I saw, to my great astonishment, Passano being brought into the prison by a corporal and two soldiers. As he was going in, the rascal looked up and saw me, and began to laugh.
"Alas!" I said to myself, "here is fresh food for conjecture. The fellow told Nina's sister that I should be sorry for what I had done. He must have directed some fearful calumny against me, and they are imprisoning him so as to be sure of his evidence."
On reflection, I was well pleased at the turn affairs had taken.
An excellent dinner was set before me, but I had no chair or table. The deficiency was remedied by the soldier who was in charge of me for the consideration of a duro.
Prisoners were not allowed to have pen and ink without special permission; but paper and pencils were not included under this regulation, so my guard got them for me, together with candles and candlesticks, and I proceeded to kill time by making geometrical calculations. I made the obliging soldier sup with me, and he promised to commend me to one of his comrades who would serve me well. The guard was relieved at eleven.
On the fourth day the officer of the guard came to me with a distressed look, and told me that he had the disagreeable duty of giving me some very bad news.
"What is that, sir?"
"I have received orders to transfer you to the bottom of the tower."
"To transfer me?"
"Then they must have discovered in me a criminal of the deepest dye! Let us go at once."
I found myself in a kind of round cellar, paved with large flagstones, and lighted by five or six narrow slits in the walls. The officer told me I must order what food required to be brought once a day, as no one was allowed to come into the 'calabozo', or dungeon, by night.
"How about lights?"
"You may lave one lamp always burning, and that will be enough, as books are not allowed. When your dinner is brought, the officer on duty will open the pies and the poultry to see that they do not contain any documents; for here no letters are allowed to come in or go out."
"Have these orders been given for my especial benefit?"
"No, sir; it is the ordinary rule. You will be able to converse with the sentinel."
"The door will be open, then?"
"Not at all."
"How about the cleanliness of my cell?"
"A soldier will accompany the officer in charge of your dinner, and he will attend to your wants for a trifle."
"May I amuse myself by making architectural plans with the pencil?"
"As much as you like."
"Then will you be good enough to order some paper to be bought for me?"
The officer seemed to pity me as he left me, and bolted and barred the heavy door behind which I saw a man standing sentry with his bayonet fixed. The door was fitted with a small iron grating.
When I got my paper and my dinner at noonday the officer cut open a fowl, and plunged a fork in the other dishes so as to make sure that there were no papers at the bottom.
My dinner would have sufficed for six people. I told the officer that I should be much honoured by his dining with me, but he replied that it was strictly forbidden. He gave me the same answer when I asked if I might have the newspapers.
It was a festival time for the sentinels, as I shared my meals and my good wine with them; and consequently these poor fellows were firmly attached to me.
I was curious to know who was paying for my good cheer, but there was no chance of my finding out, for the waiter from the inn was never allowed to approach my cell.
In this dungeon, where I was imprisoned for forty-two days, I wrote in pencil and without other reference than my memory, my refutation of Amelot de la Houssaye's "History of the Venetian Government."
I was most heartily amused during my imprisonment, and in the following manner:
While I was at Warsaw an Italian named Tadini came to Warsaw.