Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

every one knows, the patron saint of paring of a regazza who happens to Padua, the Padovese were to come have no lover ? Have reason! have down the Brenta, as was their custom, reason ! The gondola is narrower and cross over the sea to Venice to than your brave heart, my fine Fiaassist in the celebration; and Fiametta metta !" And away he pushed from once more thought Pasquali loved her the water-steps. for herself alone, when he swore by his Turturilla rose from her work, and rosary that unless she accompanied stepped out upon the rusty gratings of him to the festa in her wedding dress, the balcony to see them depart. Pas. he would not turn an oar in the race, quali stopped to grease the notch of nor unfasten his gondola from the his oar, and between that and some door-post. Alas! Fiametta was mar- other embarrassments, the gondola ried in the summer solstice, and her was suffered to float directly under her dress was as permeable to the wind as window. The compliment to the gecobweb or gossamer. Is it possible nerous nature of Fiametta was, meanyou could have remembered that, o time, working, and as she was comwicked Pasquali ?

pelled to exchange a word or two with It was a day to puzzle a barometer; Turturilla while her husband was getnow bright, now rainy; now gusty as ting his oar into the socket, it resulted, a corridor in a novel, and now calm as (as he thought it very probable it a lady after a fit of tears. Pasquali would,) in the good wife's renewing was up early and waked Fiametta with her proposition, and making a point a kiss, and, by way of unusual tender- of sending the deserted girl for her ness, or by way of ensuring the wed- holiday bonnet. Pasquali swore ding dress, he chose to play dressing- through all the saints and angels by maid, and arranged with his own hands the time she made herself ready, her jupon and fazzoletta. She emerged though she was but five minutes gone from her chamber, looking like a slice from the window, and telling Fiametta of orange-peel in a flower-bed, but in her ear that she must consider it as smiling and nodding, and vowing the the purest obligation, he backed up to day warm as April, and the sky with- the steps of old Donna Bentoccata, out a cloud. The widening circles of helped in her daughter with a better an occasional drop of rain in the canal, grace than could have been expected, were nothing but the bubbles bursting and with one or two deep and short after a passing oar, or perhaps the strokes, put forth into the grand canal last flies of summer. Pasquali swore with the velocity of a lance-fly. it was weather to win down a pearl. A gleam of sunshine lay along the

As Fiametta stepped into the gon- bosom of the broad silver sheet, and it dola, she glanced her eyes over the was beautiful to see the gondolas with way and saw Turturilla, with a face as their gay-coloured freights all hasten. sorrowful as the first day in Lent, ing in one direction, and with swift seated at her window. Her lap was track, to the festa. Far up and down full of work, and it was quite evident they rippled the smooth water, here that she had no thought of being at gliding out from below a palace-arch, the festa. Fiametta's heart was al. there from a narrow and nnseen canal, ready warm, and it melted quite at the the steel beaks curved and flashing, view of the poor girl's loneliness. the water glancing on the oar-blades,

Pasquali mio!” she said, in a the curtains waving, and the fair wodeprecating tone, as if she was very men of Venice leaning out and touchuncertain how the proposition would ing hands as they neared neighbour or be received, “ I think we could make acquaintance in the close-pressing gonroom for poor Turturilla !"

dolas. It was a beautiful sight, indeed, A gleam of pleasure, unobserved by and three of the happiest hearts in that the confiding sposa, tinted faintly the swift-gliding company were in Passmooth olive cheek of Pasquali. quali's gondola, though the bliss of

* Eh! diavolo !'' he replied, so loud Fiametta, I am compelled to say, was that the sorrowful sempstress heard, entirely, owing to the bandage with and hung down her head still lower ; which love is so significantly painted.

must you then pity every cheese. Ah! poor Fiametta !

The gon

From the Lido, from Fusina, from more comfortably on the black cushion, under the Bridge of Sighs, from all and thought less about the weather. quarters of the lagoon, and from all An occasional drop of rain fell on the points of the floating city of Venice, nose of poor Fiametta, but if she did streamed the flying gondolas to the not believe it was the spray from PasGiudecca. The narrow walk along quali's oar, she at least did her best to the edge of the long and close-built believe so; and the perfidious tailor island was thronged with booths and swore by St. Anthony that the clouds promenaders, and the black barks by were as dry as her eyelashes. I never hundreds bumped their steel noses was very certain that Turturilla was against the pier as the agitated water not in the secret of this day's treachrose and fell beneath them.

eries. dolas intended for the race pulled The broad centre of the Giudecca slowly up and down, close to the shore, was cleared, and the boats took their exhibiting their fairy-like forms and places for the race. Pasquali ranged their sinewy and gaily-dressed gon- his gondola with those of the other doliers to the crowds on land and spectators, and taking his seat by the water; the bands of music, attached side of Turturilla as a punishment for to different parties, played here and her malapropos invitation, he placed there a strain ; the criers of holy pic- himself on the small remainder of the tures and gingerbread made the air deep cushion on the farthest side from vocal with their lisping and soft his now penitent spouse, and while he Venetian; and ail over the scene, as complained almost rudely of the narif it was the light of the sky or some równess of his seat, he made free to other light as blessed but less com- hold on by Turturilla's waist, which no mon, shone glowing black eyes, black doubt made the poor girl's mind more as night, and sparkling as the stars on easy on the subject of her intrusion. night's darkling bosom. He who Who won and who lost the racethinks lightly of Italian beauty should what was the device of each flag, and have seen the women of Venice on St. what bets or bright eyes changed ownAntonio's day '32, or on any day or at ers by the result, no personage of this any hour when their pulses are beating tale knew or cared, save Fiametta. high and their eyes alight-for they She looked on eagerly. Pasquali and are neither one nor the other always. Turturilla, as the French say, trouvaient The women of that fair clime, to borrow autres chats à frotter. the simile of Moore, are like lava- After the decision of the grand race, streams, only bright when the volcano St. Antonio being the protector more kindles. Their long lashes cover particularly of the humble, (“ patron lustreless eyes, and their blood shows of pigs” in the saints' calendar,) the dully through the cheek, in common seignoria and the grand people geneand listless hours. The calm, the rally pulled away for St. Marc's, leaving passive tranquillity, in which the de- the crowded Giudecca to the people. licate graces of colder climes find their Pasquali, as was said before, had some element, are to them a torpor of the renown as a gondolier. Something heart when the blood scarce seems to that would be called in other countries flow. They are wakeful only to the a scrub race, followed the departure of energetic, the passionate, the joyous the winning boat, and several gondolas, movements of the soul.

holding each one person only, took Pasquali stood erect in the prow of their places for the start. The tailor his gondola, and stole furtive glances laid his hand on his bosom, and, with at Turturilla, while he pointed away the smile that had first stirred the with his finger to call off the sharp heart and the sequins of Fiametta, eyes of Fiametta ; but Fiametta was begged her to gratify his love by acting happy and unsuspicious. Only when as his make-weight while he turned an now and then the wind came up chilly oar for the pig of St. Antonio. The from the Adriatic, the poor wife prize, roasted to an appetising crisp, shivered and sat closer to Turturilla, stood high on a platter in front of one who in her plainer but thicker dress, of the booths on shore, and Fiametta to say nothing of younger blood, sat smacked her lips, overcame her fears with an effort, and told him, in accents drinking a glass and exchanging good as little as possible like the creak of a wishes at the stairs of the Rialto, and dry oar in the socket, that he might Donna Fiametta had sat too long by set Turturilla on shore.

two hours and a half with scarce a dry A word in her ear, as he handed her thread on her body. over the gunwale, reconciled Donna The hospital of St. Girolamo is Bentoccala's fair daughter to this con- attached to the convent of that name, jugal partiality, and stripping his manly standing on one of the canals which figure of its upper disguises, Pasquali put forth on the seaward side of Venice. straightened out his fine limbs, and it is a long building, with its low drove his bark to the line in a style windows and latticed doors opening that drew applause from even his com- almost on the level of the sea, and the petitors. As a mark of their appro- wards for the sick are large and well bation, they offered him an outside aired; but, except when the breeze is place, where his fair dame would be stirring, impregnated with a saline less likely to be spattered with the dampness from the canal, which, as contending oars; but he was too gene- Pasquali remarked, was good for the rous to take advantage of this consi- rheumatism. It was not so good for derate offer, and crying out as he took the patient. the middle, ben pronto, signori !" The loving wife Fiametta grew worse gave Fiametta a confident look, and and worse after the fatal festa, and the stood like a hound in the leash. fit of rheumatism brought on by the

Off they went at the tap of the drum, slightness of her dress and the spatterpoor Fiametta holding her breath, and ing he had given her in the race, had clinging to the sides of the gondola, increased, by the end of the week, to a and Pasquali developing skill and rheumatic fever. Fiametta was old muscle-not for Fiametta's eyes only. and tough, however, and struggled It was a short, sharp race, without manfully (woman as she was) with jockeying or management, all fair play the disease, but being one night a little and main strength, and the tailor shot out of head, her loving husband took past the end of the Giudecca, boat's occasion to shudder at the responsibilength ahead. Much more applauded lity of taking care of her, and jumpthan a king at a coronation or a lord. ing into his gondola, he pulled across mayor taking water at London stairs, to St. Girolamo, bespoke a dry bed he slowly made his way back to Tur- and a sister of charity, and brought turilla, and it was only when that de- back the pious Father Gasparo and a mure damsel rather shrunk from sitting comfortable litter. Fiametta was dozdown in two inches of water, that he ing when they arrived, and the kinddiscovered how the disturbed element hearted tailor, willing to spare her the had quite filled up the hollow of the pain of knowing that she was on her leather cushion and made a peninsula way to a hospital for the poor, set out of the uncomplaining Fiametta. She some meat and wine for the monk, was as well watered, besides, as and sending over for Turturilla and favourite plant in a flower-garden. the nurse to mix the salad, they sat

“Pasquali mio !” she said in an and ate away the hours till the poor imploring tone, holding up the skirt of dame's brain should be wandering her dress with the tips of her thumb again. and finger, “couldn't you just take me Toward night the monk and Dame home while I change my dress!" Bentoccata were comfortably dozing

“One moment Fiametta cara! they with 'each other's support, (having are bringing the pig !"

fallen asleep at table,) and Pasquali, The crisp and suculent trophy was with a kiss from Turturilla, stole softly solemnly placed in the prow of the up stairs. Fiametta was muttering victor's gondola, and preparation was unquietly, and working her fingers in made to convey him home with a tri. the palms of her hands, and on feeling, umphant procession. A half hour her pulse he found the fever was at its before it was in order to move-an height. She took him, besides, for hour in first making the circuit of the the prize pig of the festa, so he knew grand canal, and an hour more in her wits were fairly abroad. He crept

a

down stairs, gave the monk a strong five days out of seven was the proporcup of coffee to get him awake, and, tion of merry holidays with his new between the four of them, they got betrothed. poor Fiametta into the litter, drew the They were sitting one evening in curtains tenderly around, and deposit. the open piazza of St. Mark, in front ed her safely in the bottom of the of the mos thronged café of that gondola.

matchless square.

The moon was Lightly and smoothly the winner of resting her silver disk on the point of the pig pulled away with his loving the Campanile, and the shadows of burden, and gliding around the slimy thousands of gay Venetians fell on the corners of the palaces, and hushing his immense pavement below, clear and voice as he cried out “right !” or sharply · drawn as a black cartoon. left!" to warn the coming gondoliers The four extending sides of the square of his vicinity, he arrived, like a thought lay half in shades half in light, with of love to a maid's mind in a sleep, their innumerable columns and bal. at the door of St. Girolamo. The conies and sculptured work, and, abbess looked out and said, bene- frowning down on all, in broken light dicite !" and the monk stood firm on and shadow, stood the arabesque his brown sandals to receive the pre- structure of St. Mark's itself, dizzycious burden from the arms of Pas- ing the eyes with its mosaics and conquali. Believing firmly that it was fused devices, and thrusting forth the equivalent to committing her to the heads of its four golden-collared steeds hands of St. Peter, and of course into the moonbeams, till they looked abandoning all hope of seeing her on that black relief, like the horses of again in this world, the soft-hearted Pluto issuing from the gates of Hades. tailor wiped his eye as she was lifted In the centre of the square stood a tall in, and receiving a promise from Father woman, singing, in rich contralto, an Gasparo that he would communicate old song of the better days of Venice ; faithfully the state of her soul in the and, against one of the pillars, Polilast agony, he pulled, with lightened chinello had backed his wooden stage, gondola and heart, back to his wi- and beat about his puppets with an dower's home and Turturilla.

energy worthy of old Dandolo and his For many good reasons, and apparent helmeted galley-men. To those who as good, it is a rule in the hospital of wore not the spectacles of grief or disSt. Girolamo, that the sick under its content, the square of St. Mary's holy charge shall receive the visit of that night was like some cozening taneither friend nor relative. If they bleau. I never saw anything so gay! recover, they return to their abodes to Everybody who has “swam in a earn candles for the altar of the re- gondola,” knows how the cafés of storing saint. If they die, their clothes Venice thrust out their chequered are sent to their surviving friends, and awnings over a portion of the square, this affecting memorial, besides com- and fill the shaded space below with municating the melancholy news, af- chairs and marble tables. In a corner fords all the particulars and all the of the shadow thus afforded, with ice consolation they are supposed to re- and coffee on a small round slab bequire upon the subject of their loss. tween them, and the flat pavement of

Waiting patiently for Father Gasparo the public promenade under their feet, and his bundle, Pasquali and Turturilla sat our two lovers. With neither hoof gave themselves up to hopes, which on nor wheel to drown or interrupt their the tailor's part, (we fear it must be voices, (as in cities, whose streets are admitted,) argued a quicker recovery stones, not water,) they murmured from grief than might be credited to their hopes and wishes in the softest an elastic constitution. The fortune language under the sun, and with the of poor Fiametta was sufficient to sotto voce acquired by all the inhabitwarrant Pasquali in neglecting his shop ants of this noiseless city. Turturilla to celebrate every festa that the church had taken ice to cool her and coffee to acknowledged, and for ten days sub. take off the chill of her ice, and a sequent to the committal of his wife to bicchiere del perfette amore to reconthe tender mercies of St. Girolamo, cile these two antagonists in her diges

tion, when the slippers of a monk posed, bridegroom as he was, to make glided by, and in a moment the re- him wait her leisure. Her clothes cognised Father Gasparo made a third fitted her ill, and she carried in her hand in the shadowy corner. The expected a pair of shoes which, it was easy to see, bundle was under his arm, and he was were never made for her. She rose at on his way to Pasquali's dwelling. last, and as her face became visible, Having assnred the disconsolate tailor down dropped Turturilla and the pious that she had had unction and wafer as father, and motionless and aghast stood became the wife of a citizen of Venice the simple Pasquali. Fiametta stepped like himself, he took heart, and grew on shore ! content that she was in heaven. It In broken words Pasquali explained. was a better place, and Turturilla, for He had landed at the stairs near the so little as a gold ring, would supply fish-market, and with two leaps reachher place in his bosom.

ing the top, sped off past the buttress The moon was but a brief week in the direction of the goldsmith's, when older, when Pasquali and Turturilla his course was arrested by encounterstood in the church of our Lady of ing, at full speed, the person of an old Grief, and Father Gasparo within the woman. Hastily raising her up, he repalings of the altar. She as fair a cognised his wife, who, fully recovered, maid as ever bloomed in the garden of but without a gondola, was threading beauty beloved of Titian, and the tailor the zig-zag alleys on her way to her was nearer worth nine men to look at, own domicile. After the first astonishthan the fraction of a man considered ment was over, her dress explained the usually the exponent of his profession. error of the good father, and the exAway mumbled the good father upon tent of his own misfortune.

The the matrimonial service, thinking of clothes had been hung between the the old wine and rich pasties that were bed of Fiametta and that of a smaller holding their sweetness under cork woman, who had been long languishing and crust only till he had done this of a consumption. She died, and ceremony, and quicker by some seconds Fiametta's clothes, brought to the door than it had ever been achieved before by mistake, were recognised by Father by bishop, he arrived at the putting on Gasparo and taken to Pasquali. of the ring. His hand was tremulous, The holy monk, chop-fallen and and (oh unlucky omen !) he dropped it sad, took his solitary way to the conwithin the gilded fence of the chancel. vent, but with the first step he felt The choristers were called, and Father something slide into the heel of his Gasparo dropped on his knees to look sandal. He sat down on the church for it—but if the devil had not spirited stairs and absolved the devil from it away, there was no other reason why theft—it was the lost ring, which had that search was in vain. Short of an fallen upon his foot and saved Paserrand to the goldsmith on the Rialto, quali the tailor from the pains of it was at last determined the wedding bigamy. could not proceed. Father Gasparo went to hide his impatience within the vestiary, and Turturilla knelt down to pray against the arts of Sathanas.

THE LAST ARROW. Before they had settled severally to their pious occupations, Pasquali was The American reader, if at all cuhalf way to the Rialto.

rious about the early history of his Half an hour elapsed, and then in- country, has probably heard of that stead of the light grazing of a swift- famous expedition, undertaken by the sped gondola along the church stairs, vicegerent of Louis the Fourteenth, the splash of a sullen oar was heard, the governor general of New France, and Pasquali stepped on shore. They against the confederated Five Nations had hastened to the door to receive of New York; an expedition which, him-monk, choristers and bride, though it carried with it all the pomp and to their surprise and bewilder- and circumstance of an European ment, he waited to hand out a woman warfare into their wild-wood haunts, in a strange dress, who seemed dis- was attended with no adequate re.

« ПредишнаНапред »