From Tales from the Italian and Spanish, Vol. III, The Review of Reviews Co.; New York; 1920; pp. 126-7.126
IN the city of Placenza there occurred a singular circumstance not very long ago, the relation of which cannot fail to give pleasure to benevolent minds. A young cavalier happened one evening to be going to join a party of friends, when a poor man in wretched attire crossed the path, and in a quick bold tone asked him for his money. The cavalier, by no means an Orlando Furioso in point of courage, presented him, as he was requested, with his purse; which the thief opened and counted out six pieces, instantly returning to him the rest. The next minute he disappeared.
Convinced by the singularity of the act that he must be some indigent wretch, the cavalier, without the least desire to molest him, resolved to keep him in sight if possible, and was lucky enough to see him dart, at no great distance, into a miserable little hovel. He then advanced and knocked at the door, where the robber directly after appeared. What was his surprise and terror to behold the man he had just robbed! Throwing himself at his feet, he implored his mercy in the name of his destitute and suffering family, whose wretchedness had driven him to such an act.
“Good man,” said the cavalier, “do not distress yourself. I did not follow you to do you any sort of harm: it was only curiosity that led me to watch you; I wished to know your motive. Let me see those for whom you ventured your life.”
He was shown a miserable group; a few tattered rags, a little straw, a mother’s pallid and careworn looks, and wild, half-famished children, crying and calling for bread, 127 made up the woful picture. The cavalier turned his head aside; he could not restrain his tears; then addressing the father of the family, he said, “I came to bring you the purse; relieve your poor children”; and he darted from the spot.
* Elf.Ed. — Thomas Roscoe is not credited as the translator, but this story is included in his book, The Italian Novelists, also here on Elfinspell. In this series, the spelling is Americanized and there are minor changes in punctuation and format, mostly more paragraphs than in Roscoe’s translation. To see the original version go [here].