The boys waited some time before either of them spoke, although the old fellow was deaf. "Those things looked like dead men," said Sebastiano at last. "But they are not," answered Ruggiero confidently. "Now I know why Don Antonino is so rich. He smuggles tobacco." "If we could smuggle tobacco, too, it would be a fortune," remarked the younger boy.
They have known what it is to be short of victuals five hundred miles from land with contrary winds; they have experienced the delights of a summer at New Orleans, waiting for a cargo and being eaten alive by mosquitoes; they have looked up, in January, at the ice-sheeted rigging, when boiling water froze upon the shrouds and ratlines, and the captain said that no man could lay out upon the top-sail yard, though the north-easter threatened to blow the sail out of the bolt-ropes but Ruggiero got hold of the lee earing all the same and Sebastiano followed him, and the captain swore a strange oath in the Italo-American language, and went aloft himself to help light the sail out to windward, being still a young man and not liking to be beaten by a couple of beardless boys, as the two were then.
He wanted to be present at the drawing up and signing of the contract. Clement, however, although he told Sebastiano that he should be glad to see him, hesitated to send the necessary permission, and it was not until the month of April 1532 that he set out. About the 6th, as appears from the indorsement of a letter received in his absence, he must have reached Rome.
"We shall never see him again," said Ruggiero, stopping at last and looking back over the stone wall he had just cleared. Sebastiano listened intently. He was not tall enough to see over, but his ears were sharp. "I do not hear him any more," he answered. "I hurt my hands on his nose," he added, thoughtfully, as he glanced at his bruised knuckles. "So did I," returned his brother.
He walked fast through the new streets in the upper quarter, turned to the right when he reached the Via Venti Settembre, and went straight on, past the top of the hill, and along the Quirinal Palace; then down and on, down and on, through moonlight and shadow, winding streets and straight, till the Colosseum was in sight. He was going towards the Porta San Sebastiano to take the road to Ardea.
"Ah," said Hermione, "I know it's the tarantella!" She clapped her hands. "It only wanted that," she said to Maurice. "Only that the tarantella!" "Guai Lucrezia!" cried Gaspare, tyrannically. Lucrezia bounded to one side, bent her body inward, and giggled with all her heart. Sebastiano leaned his back against a column and put the flute to his lips. "Here, Maurice, here!" said Hermione.
It is just within the city wall, niched in an angle of it, in the immediate vicinity of the Porta San Sebastiano, but it is difficult to imagine that one is within the limits of a great city; and it was especially so when the noise and racket of a city in Carnival time had just been left behind one.
They left the baths and started along. They followed the Via di Porta San Sebastiano, between two walls. They left behind the imposing ruins of the Baths of Caracalla and various establishments for archeological reconstructions, and the carriage stopped at the gate of the Catacombs. They went in, guided by the abbe, and arrived at a sort of office.
As examples of his lighter vein, we might allude to the sonnet on the Sistine and the capitolo in answer to Francesco Berni, written in the name of Fra Sebastiano. Sometimes his satire becomes malignant, as in the sonnet against the people of Pistoja, which breathes the spirit of Dantesque invective.
It was seen what the man, with Michelangelo to back him up, could do. We cannot properly appreciate this picture in its present state. The glory of the colouring has passed away; and it was precisely here that Sebastiano may have surpassed Raffaello, as he was certainly superior to the school. Sebastiano wrote letter after letter to Michelangelo in Florence.