Before the first year of their marriage was completed a beautiful little creature came to light; and, as if it had been made on purpose to give Renzo an early opportunity of fulfilling that magnanimous promise of his, it was a little girl. It may be believed that it was named Maria. Afterwards, in the course of time, came I know not how many others, of both sexes; and Agnese was busy enough in carrying them about, one after the other, calling them little rogues, and imprinting upon their faces hearty kisses, which left a white mark for ever so long afterwards. They were all very well inclined; and Renzo would have them all learn to read and write, saying, that since this amusement was in fashion, they ought at least to take advantage of it.
The finest thing was to hear him relate his adventures: and he always finished by enumerating the great things he had learnt from them, for the better government of himself in future. ‘I’ve learnt,’ he would say, ‘not to meddle in disturbances: I’ve learnt not to make speeches in the street; I’ve learnt not to drink more than I want; I’ve learnt not to hold the knocker of a door in my hand, when crazy – headed people are about: and I’ve learnt not to buckle a little bell to my foot, before thinking of the consequences.’ And a hundred other things.
Lucia did not find fault with the doctrine itself, but she was not satisfied with it; it seemed to her, in a confused way, that something was still wanting to it. By dint of hearing the same song over and over again, and meditating on it every time. ‘And I,’ said she one day to her moralizer, ‘what ought I to have learnt? I did not go to look for troubles: it is they that came to look for me. Though you wouldn’t say,’ added she, smiling sweetly, ‘that my error was in wishing you well, and promising myself to you.’
Renzo at first was quite puzzled. After a long discussion and inquiry together, they concluded that troubles certainly often arise from occasion afforded by ourselves; but that the most cautious and blameless conduct cannot secure us from them; and that, when they come, whether by our own fault or not, confidence in God alleviates them, and makes them conducive to a better life. This conclusion though come to by poor people, seemed to us so right and just, that we have resolved to put it here, as the moral of our whole story.
If this same story has given the reader any pleasure, he must thank the anonymous author, and, in some measure, his reviser, for the gratification. But if, instead, we have only succeeded in wearying him, he may rest assured that we did not do so on purpose.