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The Borgias

Chapter 16
Caesar was in prison for two years, always hoping that Louis XII would reclaim
him as peer of the kingdom of France; but Louis, much disturbed by the loss of
the battle of Garigliano, which robbed him of the kingdom of Naples, had enough
to do with his own affairs without busying himself with his cousin's. So the
prisoner was beginning to despair, when one day as he broke his bread at
breakfast he found a file and a little bottle containing a narcotic, with a letter from
Michelotto, saying that he was out of prison and had left Italy for Spain, and now
lay in hiding with the Count of Benevento in the neighbouring village: he added
that from the next day forward he and the count would wait every night on the
road between the fortress and the village with three excellent horses; it was now
Caesar's part to do the best he could with his bottle and file. When the whole
world had abandoned the Duke of Romagna he had been remembered by a
The prison where he had been shut up for two years was so hateful to Caesar
that he lost not a single moment: the same day he attacked one of the bars of a
window that looked out upon an inner court, and soon contrived so to manipulate
it that it would need only a final push to come out. But not only was the window
nearly seventy feet from the ground, but one could only get out of the court by
using an exit reserved for the governor, of which he alone had the key; also this
key never left him; by day it hung at his waist, by night it was under his pillow:
this then was the chief difficulty.
But prisoner though he was, Caesar had always been treated with the respect
due to his name and rank: every day at the dinner-hour he was conducted from
the room that served as his prison to the governor, who did the honours of the
table in a grand and courteous fashion. The fact was that Dan Manuel had
served with honour under King Ferdinand, and therefore, while he guarded
Caesar rigorously, according to orders, he had a great respect for so brave a
general, and took pleasure in listening to the accounts of his battles. So he had
often insisted that Caesar should not only dine but also breakfast with him;
happily the prisoner, yielding perhaps to some presentiment, had till now refused
this favour. This was of great advantage to him, since, thanks to his solitude, he
had been able to receive the instruments of escape sent by Michelotto. The
same day he received them, Caesar, on going back to his room, made a false
step and sprained his foot; at the dinner-hour he tried to go down, but he
pretended to be suffering so cruelly that he gave it up. The governor came to see
him in his room, and found him stretched upon the bed.
The day after, he was no better; the governor had his dinner sent in, and came to
see him, as on the night before; he found his prisoner so dejected and gloomy in
his solitude that he offered to come and sup with him: Caesar gratefully
This time it was the prisoner who did the honours: Caesar was charmingly
courteous; the governor thought he would profit by this lack of restraint to put to