List Of Contents | Contents of The Borgias, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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Two days after this resolution had been taken, Caesar learned that
the day of his departure was fixed for Thursday the 15th of June: at
the same time he received an invitation from his mother to come to
supper with her on the 14th.  This was a farewell repast given in his
honour.  Michelotto received orders to be in readiness at eleven
o'clock at night.

The table was set in the open air in a magnificent vineyard, a
property of Rosa Vanozza's in the neighbourhood of San Piero-in-
Vinculis: the guests were Caesar Borgia, the hero of the occasion;
the Duke of Gandia; Prince of Squillace; Dona Sancha, his wife; the
Cardinal of Monte Reale, Francesco Borgia, son of Calixtus III; Don
Roderigo Borgia, captain of the apostolic palace; Don Goffredo,
brother of the cardinal; Gian Borgia, at that time ambassador at
Perugia; and lastly, Don Alfonso Borgia, the pope's nephew: the whole
family therefore was present, except Lucrezia, who was still in
retreat, and would not come.

The repast was magnificent: Caesar was quite as cheerful as usual,
and the Duke of Gandia seemed more joyous than he had ever been

In the middle of supper a man in a mask brought him a letter.  The
duke unfastened it, colouring up with pleasure; and when he had read
it answered in these words, "I will come": then he quickly hid the
letter in the pocket of his doublet; but quick as he was to conceal
it from every eye, Caesar had had time to cast a glance that way, and
he fancied he recognised the handwriting of his sister Lucrezia.
Meanwhile the messenger had gone off with his answer, no one but
Caesar paying the slightest attention to him, for at that period it
was the custom for have messages to be conveyed by men in domino or
by women whose faces were concealed by a veil.

At ten o'clock they rose from the table, and as the air was sweet and
mild they walked about a while under the magnificent pine trees that
shaded the house of Rosa Vanozza, while Caesar never for an instant
let his brother out of his sight.  At eleven o'clock the Duke of
Gandia bade good-night to his mother.  Caesar at once followed suit,
alleging his desire to go to the Vatican to bid farewell to the pope,
as he would not be able to fulfil this duty an the morrow, his
departure being fixed at daybreak.  This pretext was all the more
plausible since the pope was in the habit of sitting up every night
till two or three o'clock in the morning.

The two brothers went out together, mounted their horses, which were
waiting for them at the door, and rode side by side as far as the
Palazzo Borgia, the present home of Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, who had
taken it as a gift from Alexander the night before his election to
the papacy.  There the Duke of Gandia separated from his brother,
saying with a smile that he was not intending to go home, as he had
several hours to spend first with a fair lady who was expecting him.
Caesar replied that he was no doubt free to make any use he liked
best of his opportunities, and wished him a very good night.  The
duke turned to the right, and Caesar to the left; but Caesar observed
that the street the duke had taken led in the direction of the
convent of San Sisto, where, as we said, Lucrezia was in retreat; his
suspicions were confirmed by this observation, and he directed his
horse's steps to the Vatican, found the pope, took his leave of him,
and received his benediction.

>From this moment all is wrapped in mystery and darkness, like that in
which the terrible deed was done that we are now to relate.

This, however, is what is believed.

The Duke of Gandia, when he quitted Caesar, sent away his servants,
and in the company of one confidential valet alone pursued his course
towards the Piazza della Giudecca.  There he found the same man in a
mask who had come to speak to him at supper, and forbidding his valet
to follow any farther, he bade him wait on the piazza where they then
stood, promising to be on his way back in two hours' time at latest,
and to take him up as he passed.  And at the appointed hour the duke
reappeared, took leave this time of the man in the mask, and retraced
his steps towards his palace.  But scarcely had he turned the corner
of the Jewish Ghetto, when four men on foot, led by a fifth who was
on horseback, flung themselves upon him.  Thinking they were thieves,
or else that he was the victim of some mistake, the Duke of Gandia
mentioned his name; but instead of the name checking the murderers'
daggers, their strokes were redoubled, and the duke very soon fell
dead, his valet dying beside him.

Then the man on horseback, who had watched the assassination with no
sign of emotion, backed his horse towards the dead body: the four
murderers lifted the corpse across the crupper, and walking by the
side to support it, then made their way down the lane that leads to
the Church of Santa Maria-in-Monticelli.  The wretched valet they
left for dead upon the pavement.  But he, after the lapse of a few
seconds, regained some small strength, and his groans were heard by
the inhabitants of a poor little house hard by; they came and picked
him up, and laid him upon a bed, where he died almost at once, unable
to give any evidence as to the assassins or any details of the

All night the duke was expected home, and all the next morning; then
expectation was turned into fear, and fear at last into deadly
terror.  The pope was approached, and told that the Duke of Gandia
had never come back to his palace since he left his mother's house.
But Alexander tried to deceive himself all through the rest of the
day, hoping that his son might have been surprised by the coming of
daylight in the midst of an amorous adventure, and was waiting till
the next night to get away in that darkness which had aided his
coming thither.  But the night, like the day, passed and brought no
news.  On the morrow, the pope, tormented by the gloomiest
presentiments and by the raven's croak of the 'vox populi', let
himself fall into the depths of despair: amid sighs and sobs of
grief, all he could say to any one who came to him was but these
words, repeated a thousand times: "Search, search; let us know how my
unhappy son has died."

Then everybody joined in the search; for, as we have said, the Duke
of Gandia was beloved by all; but nothing could be discovered from
scouring the town, except the body of the murdered man, who was
recognised as the duke's valet; of his master there was no trace
whatever: it was then thought, not without reason, that he had
probably been thrown into the Tiber, and they began to follow along
its banks, beginning from the Via della Ripetta, questioning every
boatman and fisherman who might possibly have seen, either from their
houses or from their boats, what had happened on the river banks
during the two preceding nights.  At first all inquiries were in
vain; but when they had gone up as high as the Via del Fantanone,
they found a man at last who said he had seen something happen on the
night of the 14th which might very possibly have some bearing on the
subject of inquiry.  He was a Slav named George, who was taking up
the river a boat laden with wood to Ripetta.  The following are his
own words:

"Gentlemen," he said, "last Wednesday evening, when I had set down my
load of wood on the bank, I remained in my boat, resting in the cool
night air, and watching lest other men should come and take away what
I had just unloaded, when, about two o'clock in the morning, I saw
coming out of the lane on the left of San Girolamo's Church two men
on foot, who came forward into the middle of the street, and looked
so carefully all around that they seemed to have come to find out if
anybody was going along the street.  When they felt sure that it was
deserted, they went back along the same lane, whence issued presently
two other men, who used similar precautions to make sure that there
was nothing fresh; they, when they found all as they wished, gave a
sign to their companions to come and join them; next appeared one man
on a dapple-grey horse, which was carrying on the crupper the body of
a dead man, his head and arms hanging over on one side and his feet
on the other.  The two fellows I had first seen exploring were
holding him up by the arms and legs.  The other three at once went up
to the river, while the first two kept a watch on the street, and
advancing to the part of the bank where the sewers of the town are
discharged into the Tiber, the horseman turned his horse, backing on
the river; then the two who were at either side taking the corpse,
one by the hands, the other by the feet, swung it three times, and
the third time threw it out into the river with all their strength;
then at the noise made when the body splashed into the water, the
horseman asked, 'Is it done?' and the others answered, 'Yes, sir,'
and he at once turned right about face; but seeing the dead man's
cloak floating, he asked what was that black thing swimming about.
'Sir,' said one of the men, 'it is his cloak'; and then another man
picked up some stones, and running to the place where it was still
floating, threw them so as to make it sink under; as soon, as it had
quite disappeared, they went off, and after walking a little way
along the main road, they went into the lane that leads to San
Giacomo.  That was all I saw, gentlemen, and so it is all I can
answer to the questions you have asked me."

At these words, which robbed of all hope any who might yet entertain
it, one of the pope's servants asked the Slav why, when he was
witness of such a deed, he had not gone to denounce it to the
governor.  But the Slav replied that, since he had exercised his
present trade on the riverside, he had seen dead men thrown into the
Tiber in the same way a hundred times, and had never heard that
anybody had been troubled about them; so he supposed it would be the
same with this corpse as the others, and had never imagined it was
his duty to speak of it, not thinking it would be any more important
than it had been before.

Acting on this intelligence, the servants of His Holiness summoned at

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