Nonfiction > Harvard Classics > Benvenuto Cellini > Autobiography
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Benvenuto Cellini (1500–1571).  Autobiography.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
XLVIII
 
 
WHILE these things were happening, we were all at table; for that morning we had dined more than an hour later than usual. On hearing the commotion, one of the old man’s sons, the elder, rose from table to go and look at the scuffle. He was called Giovanni; and I said to him: “For Heaven’s sake, don’t go! In such matters one is always certain to lose, while there is nothing to be gained.” His father spoke to like purpose: “Pray, my son, don’t go!” But the lad, without heeding any one, ran down the stairs. Reaching the Banchi, where the great scrimmage was, and seeing Bertino lifted from the ground, he ran towards home, and met my brother Cecchino on the way, who asked what was the matter. Though some of the bystanders signed to Giovanni not to tell Cecchino, he cried out like a madman how it was that Bertino Aldobrandi had been killed by the guard. My poor brother gave vent to a bellow which might have been heard ten miles away. Then he turned to Giovanni: “Ah me! but could you tell me which of those men killed him for me?” 1 Giovanni said, yes, that it was a man who had a big two-handed sword, with a blue feather in his bonnet. My poor brother rushed ahead, and having recognised the homicide by those signs, he threw himself with all his dash and spirit into the middle of the band, and before his man could turn on guard, ran him right through the guts, and with the sword’s hilt thrust him to the ground. Then he turned upon the rest with such energy and daring, that his one arm was on the point of putting the whole band to flight, had it not been that, while wheeling round to strike an arquebusier, this man fired in self-defence, and hit the brave unfortunate young fellow above the knee of his right leg. While he lay stretched upon the ground, the constables scrambled off in disorder as fast as they were able, lest a pair to my brother should arrive upon the scene.  1
  Noticing that the tumult was not subsiding, I too rose from the table, and girding on my sword—for everybody wore one then—I went to the bridge of Sant’ Agnolo, where I saw a group of several men assembled. On my coming up and being recognised by some of them, they gave way before me, and showed me what I least of all things wished to see, albeit I made mighty haste to view the sight. On the instant I did not know Cecchino, since he was wearing a different suit of clothes from that in which I had lately seen him. Accordingly, he recognised me first, and said: “Dearest brother, do not be upset by my grave accident; it is only what might be expected in my profession: get me removed from here at once, for I have but few hours to live.” They had acquainted me with the whole event while he was speaking, in brief words befitting such occasion. So I answered: “Brother, this is the greatest sorrow and the greatest trial that could happen to me in the whole course of my life. But be of good cheer; for before you lose sight of him who did the mischief, you shall see yourself revenged by my hand.’ Our words on both sides were to the purport, but of the shortest.  2
 
Note 1. Oimè, saprestimi tu dire che di quelli me I’ha morto? The me is so emphatic, that, though it makes poor English, I have preserved it in my version. [back]
 

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