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Benvenuto Cellini (1500–1571). Autobiography.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.


WE reached a town beyond Vessa, where we passed the night, and heard a watchman through all the hours singing very agreeably; for all the houses of that city being built of pine wood, it was the watchman’s only business to warn folk against fire. Busbacca’s nerves had been quite shaken by the day’s adventures; accordingly; each hour when the watchman sang, he called out in his sleep: “Ah God, I am drowning!” That was because of the fright he had had; and besides, he had got drunk in the evening, because he would sit boozing with all the Germans who were there’ and sometimes he cried: “I am burning,” and sometimes: “I am drowning;” and at other times he thought he was in hell, and tortured with that caviare suspended round his throat.

This night was so amusing that it turned all our troubles into laughter. In the morning we rose with very fine weather, and went to dine in a smiling little place called Lacca. Here we obtained excellent entertainment, and then engaged guides, who were returning to a town called Surich. The guide who attended us went along the dyked bank of a lake; there was no other road; and the dyke itself was covered with water, so that the reckless fellow slipped, and fell together with his horse beneath the water. I, who was but a few steps behind him, stopped my horse, and waited to see the donkey get out of the water. Just as if nothing had happened, he began to sing again, and made signs to me to follow. I broke away upon the right hand, and got through some hedges, making my young men and Busbacca take that way. The guide shouted in German that if the folk of those parts saw me they would put me to death. However, we passed forward, and escaped that other storm.

So we arrived at Surich, a marvellous city, bright and polished like a little gem. There we rested a whole day, then left betimes one morning, and reached another fair city called Solutorno. Thence we came to Usanna, from Usanna to Ginevra, from Ginevra to Lione, always singing and laughing. At Lione I rested four days, and had much pleasant intercourse with some of my friends there; I was also repaid what I had spent upon Busbacca; afterwards I set out upon the road to Paris. This was a delightful journey, except that when we reached Palissa a band of venturers tried to murder us, and it was only by great courage and address that we got free from them. From that point onward we travelled to Paris without the least trouble in the world. Always singing and laughing, we arrived safely at our destination.