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.
"A constitutional inheritance?" asks one physician, observing my frosted locks.
"A sudden shock?" suggests another.