I, who write this, am a dead man. Dead legally—dead by absolute proofs—dead and buried! Ask for me in my native city and they will tell you I was one of the victims of the cholera that ravaged Naples in 1884, and that my mortal remains lie moldering in the funeral vault of my ancestors. Yet—I live! I feel the warm blood coursing through my veins—the blood of thirty summers—the prime of early manhood invigorates me, and makes these eyes of mine keen and bright—these muscles strong as iron—this hand powerful of grip—this well–knit form erect and proud of bearing. Yes!—I am alive, though declared to be dead; alive in the fullness of manly force—and even sorrow has left few distinguishing marks upon me, save one. My hair, once ebony–black, is white as a wreath of Alpine snow, though its clustering curls are thick as ever.