The Bravo of Venice - A Romance
M. G. Lewis
Part 2 out of 3
being Contarino. The wound bleeds plenteously it's true, but it's
by no means dangerous (he tore open his doublet, and uncovered his
bosom). There, look, comrades; you see it's only a cut of not more
than two inches deep.
Memmo (shuddering).--Mercy on me! the very sight of it makes my
blood run cold.
Parozzi brought ointments and linen, and bound up the wound of his
Contarino.--Old Horace is in the right. A philosopher can be
anything he pleases, a cobbler, a king, or a physician. Only
observe with what dignified address the philosopher Parozzi spreads
that plaster for me. I thank you, friend; that's enough: and now,
comrades, place yourselves in a circle round me, and listen to the
wonders which I am going to relate.
Contarino.--As soon as it was twilight, I stole out, wrapped in my
cloak, determined if possible to discover some of the banditti. I
knew not their persons, neither were they acquainted with mine. An
extravagant undertaking, perhaps, you will tell me; but I was
resolved to convince you that everything which a man DETERMINES to
do, may be done. I had some information respecting the rascals,
though it was but slight, and on these grounds I proceeded. I
happened by mere accident to stumble upon a gondolier, whose
appearance excited my curiosity. I fell into discourse with him. I
was soon convinced that he was not ignorant of the lurking-place of
the bravoes, and by means of some gold and many fair speeches, I at
length brought him to confess that though not regularly belonging to
the band, he had occasionally been employed by them. I immediately
made a bargain with him; he conducted me in his gondola through the
greatest part of Venice, sometimes right, sometimes left, till I
lost every idea as to the quarter of the town in which I found
myself. At length he insisted on binding my eyes with his
handkerchief, and I was compelled to submit. Half an hour elapsed
before the gondola stopped. He told me to descend, conducted me
through a couple of streets, and at length knocked at a door, where
he left me still blindfolded. The door was opened; my business was
inquired with great caution, and after some demur I was at length
admitted. The handkerchief was now withdrawn from my eyes, and I
found myself in a small chamber, surrounded by four men of not the
most creditable appearance, and a young woman, who (it seems) had
opened the door for me.
Falieri.--You are a daring fellow, Contarino.
Contarino.--Here was no time to be lost. I instantly threw my purse
on the table, promised them mountains of gold, and fixed on
particular days, hours, and signals which were necessary to
facilitate our future intercourse. For the present I only required
that Manfrone, Conari, and Lomellino should be removed with all
Contarino.--So far everything went exactly as we could have wished,
and one of my new associates was just setting out to guide me home,
when we were surprised by an unexpected visit.
Memmo (anxiously).--Go on, for God's sake!
Contarino.--A knocking was heard at the door; the girl went to
inquire the cause. In an instant she returned pale as a corpse, and
"Fly! fly!" cried she.
Contarino.--Why then followed a whole legion of sbirri and police-
officers, and who should be at their head but the Florentine
All.--Flodoardo? What, Flodoardo?
Falieri.--What demon could have guided him thither?
Parozzi.--Hell and furies! Oh, that I had been there.
Memmo.--There, now, Parozzi, you see at least that Flodoardo is no
Falieri.--Hush, let us hear the rest.
Contarino.--We stood as if we had been petrified; not a soul could
stir a finger. "In the name of the Doge and the Republic," cried
Flodoardo, "yield yourselves and deliver your arms." "The devil
shall yield himself sooner than we," exclaimed one of the banditti,
and forced a sword from one of the officers. The others snatched
their muskets from the walls; and as for me, my first care was to
extinguish the lamp so that we could not tell friends from foes.
But still the confounded moonshine gleamed through the window-
shutters, and shed a partial light through the room. "Look to
yourself, Contarino," thought I; "if you are found here, you will be
hanged for company," and I drew my sword and made a plunge at
Flodoardo; but, however well intended, my thrust was foiled by his
sabre, which he whirled around with the rapidity of lightning. I
fought like a madman, but all my skill was without effect on this
occasion, and before I was aware of it, Flodoardo ripped open my
bosom. I felt myself wounded, and sprang back. At that moment two
pistols were fired, and the flash discovered to me a small side
door, which they had neglected to beset. Through this I stole
unperceived into the adjoining chamber, burst open the grated
window, sprang below unhurt, crossed a courtyard, climbed two or
three garden walls, gained the canal, where a gondola fortunately
was waiting, persuaded the boatman to convey me with all speed to
the Place of St. Mark, and thence hastened hither, astonished to
find myself still alive. There's an infernal adventure for you.
Parozzi.--I shall go mad.
Falieri.--Everything we design is counteracted; the more trouble we
give ourselves, the further we are from the goal.
Memmo.--I confess it seems to me as if Heaven gave us warning to
desist. How say you?
Contarino.--Pshaw, these are trifles! Such accidents should only
serve to sharpen our wits. The more obstacles I encounter, the
firmer is my resolution to surmount them.
Falieri.--Do the banditti know who you are?
Contarino.--No; they are not only ignorant of my name, but suppose
me to be a mere instrument of some powerful man, who has been
injured by the ducal confederates.
Memmo.--Well, Contarino, in my mind you should thank Heaven that you
have escaped so well.
Falieri.--But since he is an absolute stranger in Venice, how could
Flodoardo discover the lurking place of the banditti?
Contarino.--I know not; probably by mere accident like myself, but
by the Power that made me, he shall pay dearly for this wound.
Falieri.--Flodoardo is rather too hasty in making himself remarked.
Parozzi.--Flodoardo must die.
Contarino (filling a goblet).--May his next cup contain poison.
Falieri.--I shall do myself the honour of becoming better acquainted
with the gentleman.
Contarino.--Memmo, we must needs have full purses, or our business
will hang on hand wofully.
When does your uncle take his departure to a better world?
Memmo.--To-morrow evening, and yet--ugh, I tremble.
CHAPTER III: MORE CONFUSION.
Since Rosabella's birthday, no woman in Venice who had the slightest
pretensions to beauty, or the most remote expectations of making
conquests, had any subject of conversation except the handsome
Florentine. He found employment for every female tongue, and she
who dared not to employ her tongue, made amends for the privation
with her thoughts. Many a maiden now enjoyed less tranquil
slumbers; many an experienced coquette sighed as she laid on her
colour at the looking glass; many a prude forgot the rules which she
had imposed upon herself, and daily frequented the gardens and walks
in which report gave her the hope of meeting Flodoardo.
But from the time that, placing himself at the head of the sbirri,
he had dared to enter boldly the den of the banditti, and seize them
at the hazard of his life, he was scarcely more an object of
attention among the women than among the men. Greatly did they
admire his courage and unshaken presence of mind while engaged in so
perilous an adventure; but still more were they astonished at his
penetration in discovering where the bravoes concealed themselves,
an attempt which foiled even the keen wits of the so much celebrated
police of Venice.
The Doge Andreas cultivated the acquaintance of this singular young
man with increasing assiduity; and the more he conversed with him,
the more deserving of consideration did Flodoardo appear. The
action by which he had rendered the Republic a service so essential
was rewarded by a present that would not have disgraced Imperial
gratitude, and one of the most important offices of the State was
confided to his superintendence.
Both favours were conferred unsolicited, but no sooner was the
Florentine apprised of the Doge's benevolent care of him, than with
modesty and respect he requested to decline the proposed advantages.
The only favour which he requested was, to be permitted to live free
and independent in Venice during a year, at the end of which he
promised to name that employment which he esteemed the best adapted
to his abilities and inclination.
Flodoardo was lodged in the magnificent palace of his good old
patron, Lomellino, here he lived in the closest retirement, studied
the most valuable parts of ancient and modern literature, remained
for whole days together in his own apartment, and was seldom to be
seen in public except upon some great solemnity.
But the Doge, Lomellino, Manfrone, and Conari, men who had
established the fame of Venice on so firm a basis that it would
require centuries to undermine it; men in whose society one seemed
to be withdrawn from the circle of ordinary mortals, and honoured by
the intercourse of superior beings, men who now graciously received
the Florentine stranger into their intimacy, and resolved to spare
no pains in forming him to support the character of a great man; it
could not long escape the observation of men like these, that
Flodoardo's gaiety was assumed, and that a secret sorrow preyed upon
In vain did Lomellino, who loved him like a father, endeavour to
discover the source of his melancholy; in vain did the venerable
Doge exert himself to dispel the gloom which oppressed his young
favourite. Flodoardo remained silent and sad.
And Rosabella? Rosabella would have belied her sex had she remained
gay while Flodoardo sorrowed. Her spirits were flown, her eyes were
frequently obscured with tears. She grew daily paler and paler,
till the Doge, who doted on her, was seriously alarmed for her
health. At length Rosabella grew really ill; a fever fixed itself
upon her; she became weak, and was confined to her chamber, and her
complaint baffled the skill of the most experienced physicians in
In the midst of these unpleasant circumstances in which Andreas and
his friends now found themselves, an incident occurred one morning,
which raised their uneasiness to the very highest pitch. Never had
so bold and audacious an action been heard of in Venice, as that
which I am going to relate.
The four banditti, whom Flodoardo had seized, Pietrino, Struzza,
Baluzza, and Thomaso, had been safely committed to the Doge's
dungeons, where they underwent a daily examination, and looked upon
every sun that rose as the last that would ever rise for THEM.
Andreas and his confidential counsellors now flattered themselves
that the public tranquillity had nothing more to apprehend, and that
Venice was now completely purified of the miscreants, whom gold
could bribe to be the instruments of revenge and cruelty; when all
at once the following address was discovered, affixed to most of the
remarkable statues, and pasted against the corners of the principal
streets, and pillars of the public buildings:-
"Struzza, Thomaso, Pietrino, Baluzza, and Matteo, five as brave men
as the world ever produced, who, had they stood at the head of
armies, would have been called HEROES, and now being called
BANDITTI, are fallen victims to the injustice of State policy.
These men, it is true, exist for you no longer; but their place is
supplied by him, whose name is affixed to this paper, and who will
stand by his employers with body and with soul. I laugh at the
vigilance of the Venetian police; I laugh at the crafty and insolent
Florentine, whose hand has dragged his brethren to the rack. Let
those who need me, seek me; they will find me everywhere! Let those
who seek me with the design of delivering me up to the law, despair
and tremble; they will find me nowhere, but _I_ shall find THEM, and
that when they least expect me! Venetians, you understand me! Woe
to the man who shall attempt to discover me; his life and death
depend upon my pleasure. This comes from the Venetian Bravo,
"A hundred sequins," exclaimed the incensed Doge, on reading the
paper, "a hundred sequins to him who discovers this monster
Abellino, and a thousand to him who delivers him up to justice."
But in vain did spies ransack every lurking place in Venice; no
Abellino was to be found. In vain did the luxurious, the
avaricious, and the hungry stretch their wits to the utmost, incited
by the tempting promise of a thousand sequins. Abellino's prudence
set all their ingenuity at defiance.
But not the less did every one assert that he had recognised
Abellino, sometimes in one disguise, and sometimes in another, as an
old man, a gondolier, a woman, or a monk. Everybody had seen him
somewhere; but, unluckily, nobody could tell where he was to be seen
CHAPTER IV: THE VIOLET.
I informed my readers, in the beginning of the last chapter, that
Flodoardo was become melancholy, and that Rosabella was indisposed,
but I did not tell them what had occasioned this sudden change.
Flodoardo, who on his first arrival at Venice was all gaiety, and
the life of every society in which he mingled, lost his spirits on
one particular day; and it so happened that it was on the very same
day that Rosabella betrayed the first symptoms of indisposition.
For on this unlucky day did the caprice of accident, or perhaps the
Goddess of Love (who has her caprices too every now and then),
conduct Rosabella into her uncle's garden, which none but the Doge's
intimate friends were permitted to enter; and where the Doge himself
frequently reposed in solitude and silence during the evening hours
of a sultry day.
Rosabella, lost in thought, wandered listless and unconscious along
the broad and shady alleys of the garden. Sometimes, in a moment of
vexation, she plucked the unoffending leaves from the hedges and
strewed them upon the ground; sometimes she stopped suddenly, then
rushed forward with impetuosity, then again stood still, and gazed
upon the clear blue heaven. Sometimes her beautiful bosom was
heaved with quick and irregular motion, and sometimes a half-
suppressed sigh escaped from her lips of coral.
"He is very handsome!" she murmured, and gazed with such eagerness
on vacancy, as though she had there seen something which was hidden
from the sight of common observers.
"Yet Camilla is in the right," she resumed, after a pause, and she
frowned as had she said that Camilla was in the wrong.
This Camilla was her governess, her friend, her confidante, I may
almost say her mother. Rosabella had lost her parents early. Her
mother died when her child could scarcely lisp her name; and her
father, Guiscardo of Corfu, the commander of a Venetian vessel,
eight years before had perished in an engagement with the Turks,
while he was still in the prime of life. Camilla, one of the
worthiest creatures that ever dignified the name of woman, supplied
to Rosabella the place of mother, had brought her up from infancy,
and was now her best friend, and the person to whose ear she
confided all her little secrets.
While Rosabella was still buried in her own reflections, the
excellent Camilla advanced from a side path, and hastened to join
her pupil. Rosabella started.
Rosabella.--Ah! dear Camilla, is it you? What brings you hither?
Camilla.--You often call me your guardian angel, and guardian angels
should always be near the object of their care.
Rosabella.--Camilla, I have been thinking over your arguments; I
cannot deny that all you have said to me is very true, and very
wise, but still -
Camilla.--But still, though your prudence agrees with me, your heart
is of a contrary opinion.
Rosabella.--It is, indeed.
Camilla.--Nor do I blame your heart for differing from me, my poor
girl. I have acknowledged to you without disguise that were _I_ at
your time of life, and were such a man as Flodoardo to throw himself
in my way, I could not receive his attentions with indifference. It
cannot be denied that this young stranger is uncommonly pleasing,
and, indeed, for any woman whose heart is disengaged, an uncommonly
DANGEROUS companion. There is something very prepossessing in his
appearance, his manners are elegant, and short as has been his abode
in Venice, it is already past doubting that there are many noble and
striking features in his character. But alas, after all, he is but
a poor nobleman, and it is not very probable that the rich and
powerful Doge of Venice will ever bestow his niece on one who, to
speak plainly, arrived here little better than a beggar. No, no,
child, believe me, a romantic adventurer is no fit husband for
Rosabella of Corfu.
Rosabella.--Dear Camilla, who was talking about husbands? What I
feel for Flodoardo is merely affection, friendship.
Camilla.--Indeed! Then you would be perfectly satisfied, should
some one of our wealthy ladies bestow her hand on Flodoardo?
Rosabella (hastily).--Oh! Flodoardo would not ACCEPT her hand,
Camilla; of that I am sure.
Camilla.--Child, child, you would willingly deceive yourself. But
be assured that a girl who loves ever connects, perhaps
unconsciously, the wish for an eternal UNION with the idea of
eternal AFFECTION. Now this is a wish which you cannot indulge in
regard to Flodoardo without seriously offending your uncle, who,
good man as he is, must still submit to the severe control of
politics and etiquette.
Rosabella.--I know all that, Camilla, but can I not make you
comprehend that I am not in love with Flodoardo, and do not mean to
be in love with him, and that love has nothing at all to do in the
business? I repeat to you, what I feel for him is nothing but
sincere and fervent friendship; and surely Flodoardo deserves that I
should feel that sentiment for him. Deserves it, said I? Oh, what
does Flodoardo NOT deserve?
Camilla.--Ay, ay, friendship, indeed, and love. Oh, Rosabella, you
know not how often these deceivers borrow each other's mask to
ensnare the hearts of unsuspecting maidens. You know not how often
love finds admission, when wrapped in friendship's cloak, into that
bosom, which, had he approached under his own appearance, would have
been closed against him for ever. In short, my child, reflect how
much you owe to your uncle; reflect how much uneasiness this
inclination would cost him; and sacrifice to duty what at present is
a mere caprice, but which, if encouraged, might make too deep an
impression on your heart to be afterwards removed by your best
Rosabella.--You say right, Camilla. I really believe myself that my
prepossession in Flodoardo's favour is merely an accidental fancy,
of which I shall easily get the better. No, no; I am not in love
with Flodoardo--of that you may rest assured. I even think that I
rather feel an antipathy towards him, since you have shown me the
possibility of his making me prove a cause of uneasiness to my kind,
my excellent uncle.
Camilla (smiling).--Are your sentiments of duty and gratitude so
Rosabella.--Oh, that they are, Camilla; and so you will say yourself
hereafter. This disagreeable Flodoardo--to give me so much
vexation! I wish he had never come to Venice. I declare I do not
like him at all.
Camilla.--No--what! Not like Flodoardo?
Rosabella (casting down her eyes).--No, not at all. Not that I wish
him ill, either, for you know, Camilla, there's no reason why I
should hate this poor Flodoardo!
Camilla.--Well, we will resume this subject when I return. I have
business, and the gondola waits for me. Farewell, my child; and do
not lay aside your resolution as hastily as you took it up.
Camilla departed, and Rosabella remained melancholy and uncertain.
She built castles in the air, and destroyed them as soon as built.
She formed wishes, and condemned herself for having formed them.
She looked round her frequently in search of something, but dared
not confess to herself what it was of which she was in search.
The evening was sultry, and Rosabella was compelled to shelter
herself from the sun's overpowering heat. In the garden was a small
fountain, bordered by a bank of moss, over which the magic hands of
art and nature had formed a canopy of ivy and jessamine. Thither
she bent her steps. She arrived at the fountain, and instantly drew
back, covered with blushes, for on the bank of moss, shaded by the
protecting canopy, whose waving blossoms were reflected on the
fountain, Flodoardo was seated, and fixed his eyes on a roll of
Rosabella hesitated whether she should retire or stay. Flodoardo
started from his place, apparently in no less confusion than
herself, and relieved her from her indecision by taking her hand
with respect, and conducting her to the seat which he had just
Now, then, she could not possibly retire immediately, unless she
meant to violate every common principle of good breeding.
Her hand was still clasped in Flodoardo's; but it was so natural for
him to take it, that she could not blame him for having done so.
But what was she next to do? Draw her hand away? Why should she,
since he did her hand no harm by keeping it, and the keeping it
seemed to make him so happy? And how could the gentle Rosabella
resolve to commit an act of such unheard-of cruelty as wilfully to
deprive any one of a pleasure which made him so happy, and which did
herself no harm?
"Signora," said Flodoardo, merely for the sake of saying something,
"you do well to enjoy the open air. The evening is beautiful."
"But I interrupt your studies, my lord," said Rosabella.
"By no means," answered Flodoardo; and there this interesting
conversation came to a full stop. Both looked down; both examined
the heaven and the earth, the trees and the flowers, in the hopes of
finding some hints for renewing the conversation; but the more
anxiously they sought them, the more difficult did it seem to find
what they sought; and in this painful embarrassment did two whole
precious minutes elapse.
"Ah, what a beautiful flower!" suddenly cried Rosabella, in order to
break the silence, then stooped and plucked a violet with an
appearance of the greatest eagerness, though, in fact, nothing at
that moment could have been more a matter of indifference.
"It is a very beautiful flower, indeed," gravely observed Flodoardo,
and was out of all patience with himself for having made so flat a
"Nothing can surpass this purple," continued Rosabella; "red and
blue so happily blended, that no painter can produce so perfect a
"Red and blue--the one the symbol of happiness, the other of
affection. Ah, Rosabella! how enviable will be that man's lot on
whom your hand shall bestow such a flower. Happiness and affection
are not more inseparably united than the red and blue which purple
"You seem to attach a value to the flower of which it is but little
"Might I but know on whom Rosabella will one day bestow what that
flower expresses. Yet, this is a subject which I have no right to
discuss. I know not what has happened to me to-day. I make nothing
but blunders and mistakes. Forgive my presumption, lady. I will
hazard such forward inquiries no more."
He was silent. Rosabella was silent also.
But though they could forbid their lips to betray their hidden
affection; though Rosabella said not--"Thou art he on whom this
flower shall be bestowed:" though Flodoardo's words had not
expressed--"Rosabella, give me that violet, and that which it
implies"--oh, their eyes were far from being silent. Those
treacherous interpreters of secret feelings acknowledged more to
each other than their hearts had yet acknowledged to themselves.
Flodoardo and Rosabella gazed on each other with looks which made
all speech unnecessary. Sweet, tender, and enthusiastic was the
smile which played around Rosabella's lips when her eyes met those
of the youth whom she had selected from the rest of mankind; and
with mingled emotions of hope and fear did the youth study the
meaning of that smile. He understood it, and his heart beat louder,
and his eye flamed brighter.
Rosabella trembled; her eyes could no longer sustain the fire of his
glances, and a modest blush overspread her face and bosom.
"Rosabella!" at length murmured Flodoardo, unconsciously;
"Flodoardo!" sighed Rosabella, in the same tone.
"Give me that violet!" he exclaimed, eagerly, then sank at her feet,
and in a tone of the most humble supplication repeated, "Oh, give it
Rosabella held the flower fast.
"Ask for it what thou wilt. If a throne can purchase it, I will pay
that price, or perish. Rosabella, give me that flower!"
She stole one look at the handsome suppliant and dared not hazard a
"My repose, my happiness, my life--nay, even my glory, all depend on
the possession of that little flower. Let that be mine, and here I
solemnly renounce all else which the world calls precious."
The flower trembled in her snowy hand. Her fingers clasped it less
"You hear me, Rosabella? I kneel at your feet; and am I then in
vain a beggar?"
The word "beggar" recalled to her memory Camilla and her prudent
counsels. "What am I doing?" she said to herself. "Have I
forgotten my promise, my resolution? Fly, Rosabella, fly, or this
hour makes you faithless to yourself and duty."
She tore the flower to pieces, and threw it contemptuously on the
"I understand you, Flodoardo," said she; "and having understood you,
will never suffer this subject to be renewed. Here let us part, and
let me not again be offended by a similar presumption. Farewell!"
She turned from him with disdain, and left Flodoardo rooted to his
place with sorrow and astonishment.
CHAPTER V: THE ASSASSIN.
Scarcely had she reached her chamber ere Rosabella repented her
having acted so courageously. It was cruel in her, she thought, to
have given him so harsh an answer. She recollected with what
hopeless and melancholy looks the poor thunderstruck youth had
followed her steps as she turned to leave him. She fancied that she
saw him stretched despairing on the earth, his hair dishevelled, his
eyes filled with tears. She heard him term her the murderess of his
repose, pray for death as his only refuge; and she saw him with
every moment approach towards the attainment of his prayer through
the tears which he shed on her account. Already she heard those
dreadful words--"Flodoardo is no more." Already she saw the
sympathising multitude weep round the tomb of him whom all the
virtuous loved, and whom the wicked dreaded; whom all his friends
adored, and whom even his enemies admired.
"Alas! alas!" cried she, "this was but a wretched attempt to play
the heroine. Already does my resolution fail me. Ah, Flodoardo! I
meant not what I said. I love you--love you now, and must love you
always, though Camilla may chide, and though my good uncle may hate
In a few days after this interview she understood that an
extraordinary alteration had taken place in Flodoardo's manner and
appearance; that he had withdrawn himself from all general society;
and that when the solicitations of his intimate friends compelled
him to appear in their circle, his spirits seemed evidently
depressed by the weight of an unconquerable melancholy.
This intelligence was like the stroke of a poniard to the feeling
heart of Rosabella. She fled for shelter to the solitude of her
chamber, there indulged her feelings without restraint, and
lamented, with showers of repentant tears, her harsh treatment of
The grief which preyed in secret on her soul soon undermined her
health. No one could relieve her sufferings, for no one knew the
cause of her melancholy, or the origin of her illness. No wonder,
then, that Rosabella's situation at length excited the most bitter
anxiety in the bosom of her venerable uncle. No wonder, too, that
Flodoardo entirely withdrew himself from a world which was become
odious to him, since Rosabella was to be seen in it no longer; and
that he devoted himself in solitude to the indulgence of a passion
which he had vainly endeavoured to subdue, and which, in the
impetuosity of its course, had already swallowed up every other
wish, and every other sentiment.
But let us for the moment turn from the sick chamber of Rosabella,
and visit the dwellings of the conspirators, who were now advancing
with rapid strides towards the execution of their plans; and who,
with every hour that passed over their heads, became more numerous,
more powerful, and more dangerous to Andreas and his beloved
Parozzi, Memmo, Contarino, Falieri, the chiefs of this desperate
undertaking, now assembled frequently in the Cardinal Gonzaga's
palace, where different plans for altering the constitution of
Venice were brought forward and discussed. But in all different
schemes it was evident that the proposer was solely actuated by
considerations of private interest. The object of one was to get
free from the burden of enormous debts; another was willing to
sacrifice everything to gratify his inordinate ambition. The
cupidity of THIS man was excited by the treasures of Andreas and his
friends; while THAT was actuated by resentment of some fancied
offence, a resentment which could only be quenched with the
These execrable wretches, who aimed at nothing less than the total
overthrow of Venice, or at least of her government, looked towards
the completion of their extravagant hopes with the greater
confidence, since a new but necessary addition to the already
existing taxes had put the Venetian populace out of humour with
Rich enough, both in adherents and in wealth, to realise their
projects, rich enough in bold, shrewd, desperate men, whose minds
were well adapted to the contrivance and execution of revolutionary
projects, they now looked down with contempt upon the good old Doge,
who as yet entertained no suspicion of their nocturnal meetings.
Still did they not dare to carry their projects into effect, till
some principal persons in the State should be prevented by DEATH
from throwing obstacles in their way. For the accomplishment of
this part of their plan they relied on the daggers of the banditti.
Dreadful therefore was the sound in their ears, when the bell gave
the signal for execution, and they saw their best-founded hopes
expire on the scaffold, which supported the headless trunks of the
four bravoes. But if their consternation was great at thus losing
the destined instruments of their designs, how extravagant was their
joy when the proud Abellino dared openly to declare to Venice that
he still inhabited the Republic, and that he still wore a dagger at
the disposal of Vice.
"This desperado is the very man for us!" they exclaimed unanimously,
and in rapture; and now their most ardent wish was to enroll
Abellino in their services.
Their object was soon attained--they sought the daring ruffian, and
he suffered himself to be found. He visited their meetings, but in
his promises and demands he was equally extravagant.
The first and most earnest wish of the whole conspiracy was the
death of Conari, the Procurator, a man whom the Doge valued beyond
all others, a man whose eagle eyes made the conspirators hourly
tremble for their secret, and whose service the Doge had accepted,
in preference to those of the Cardinal Gonzaga. But the sum which
Abellino demanded for the murder of this one man was enormous.
"Give me the reward which I require," said he, "and I promise, on
the word of a man of honour, that after this night the Procurator,
Conari, shall give you no further trouble. Exalt him to heaven, or
imprison him in hell, I'll engage to find and stab him."
What could they do? Abellino was not a man to be easily beat down
in his demands. The Cardinal was impatient to attain the summit of
his wishes; but his road lay straight over Conari's grave!
Abellino received the sum demanded; the next day the venerable
Conari, the Doge's best and dearest friend, the pride and safeguard
of the Republic, was no longer numbered among the living.
"'Tis a terrible fellow, this Abellino!" cried the conspirators,
when the news reached them, and celebrated the Procurator's death in
triumph at the Cardinal's midnight feast.
The Doge was almost distracted with terror and astonishment. He
engaged to give ten thousand sequins to any one who should discover
by whom Conari had been removed from the world. A proclamation to
this effect was published at the corner of every street in Venice,
and made known throughout the territories of the Republic. A few
days after this proclamation had been made, a paper was discovered
affixed to the principal door of the Venetian Signoria.
"You would fain know the author of Conari's death. To spare you
much fruitless trouble, I hereby acknowledge that I, Abellino, was
"Twice did I bury my dagger in his heart, and then sent his body to
feed the fishes. The Doge promises TEN thousand sequins to him who
shall discover Conari's murderer; and to him who shall be clever
enough to SEIZE him, Abellino hereby promises TWENTY. Adieu,
Signors. I remain your faithful servant,
CHAPTER VI: THE TWO GREATEST MEN IN VENICE.
It must be superfluous to inform my readers that all Venice became
furious at this new insolence. Within the memory of man had no one
ever treated with such derision the celebrated Venetian police, or
set the Doge's power at defiance with such proud temerity. This
occurrence threw the whole city into confusion; every one was on the
look-out; the patrols were doubled; the sbirri extended their
researches on all sides; yet no one could see, or hear, or discover
the most distant trace of Abellino.
The priests in their sermons strove to rouse the slumbering
vengeance of Heaven to crush this insolent offender. The ladies
were ready to swoon at the very name of Abellino, for who could
assure them that, at some unexpected moment, he might not pay THEM
the same compliment which he had paid to Rosabella? As for the old
women, they unanimously asserted that Abellino had sold himself to
the Prince of Darkness, by whose assistance he was enabled to sport
with the patience of all pious Venetians, and deride the impotence
of their just indignation. The Cardinal and his associates were
proud of their terrible confederate, and looking forward with
confidence to the triumphant issue of their undertaking. The
deserted family of Conari called down curses on his murderer's head,
and wished that their tears might be changed into a sea of sulphur,
in whose waves they might plunge the monster Abellino; nor did
Conari's relations feel more grief for his loss than the Doge and
his two confidants, who swore never to rest till they had discovered
the lurking-place of this ruthless assassin, and had punished his
crime with tenfold vengeance.
"Yet, after all," said Andreas one evening, as he sat alone in his
private chamber, "after all, it must be confessed that this Abellino
is a singular man. He who can do what Abellino has done must
possess both such talents and such courage as, stood he at the head
of an army, would enable him to conquer half the world. Would that
I could once get a sight of him!"
"Look up, then!" roared Abellino, and clapped the Doge on the
shoulder. Andreas started from his seat. A colossal figure stood
before him, wrapped in a dark mantle above which appeared a
countenance so hideous and forbidding, that the universe could not
have produced its equal.
"Who art thou?" stammered out the Doge.
"Thou seest me, and canst doubt? Well, then, I am Abellino, the
good friend of your murdered Conari, the Republic's most submissive
The brave Andreas, who had never trembled in fight by land or by
sea, and for whom no danger had possessed terrors sufficient to
shake his undaunted resolution, the brave Andreas now forgot for a
few moments his usual presence of mind. Speechless did he gaze on
the daring assassin, who stood before him calm and haughty,
unappalled by the majesty of the greatest man in Venice.
Abellino nodded to him with an air of familiar protection, and
graciously condescended to grin upon him with a kind of half-
"Abellino," said the Doge, at length, endeavouring to recollect
himself, "thou art a fearful--a detestable man."
"Fearful?" answered the bravo; "dost thou think me so? Good, that
glads me to the very heart! Detestable? that may be so, or it may
not. I confess, the sign which I hang out gives no great promise of
good entertainment within; but yet, Andreas, one thing is certain.
You and I stand on the same line, for at this moment we are the two
greatest men in Venice; you in your way, I in mine."
The Doge could not help smiling at the bravo's familiar tone.
"Nay, nay," continued Abellino, "no smiles of disbelief, if you
please. Allow me, though a bravo, to compare myself to a Doge;
truly, I think there's no great presumption in placing myself on a
level with a man whom I hold in my power, and who therefore is in
fact beneath me."
The Doge made a movement, as he would have left him.
"Not so fast," said Abellino, laughing rudely, and he barred the
Doge's passage. "Accident seldom unites in so small a space as this
chamber a pair of such great men. Stay where you are, for I have
not done with you yet; we must have a little conversation."
"Hear me, Abellino," said the Doge, mustering up all the dignity
which he possessed; "thou hast received great talents from Nature:
why dost thou employ them to so little advantage? I here promise
you, on my most sacred word, pardon for the past, and protection for
the future, will you but name to me the villain who bribed you to
assassinate Conari, abjure your bloody trade, and accept an honest
employment in the service of the Republic. If this offer is
rejected, at least quit with all speed the territory of Venice, or I
"Ho! ho!" interrupted Abellino; "pardon and protection, say you? It
is long since I thought it worth my while to care for such trifles.
Abellino is able to protect himself without foreign aid; and, as to
pardon, mortals cannot give absolution for sins like mine. On that
day, when all men must give in the list of their offences, then,
too, will I give in mine, but till then never. You would know the
name of him who bribed me to be Conari's murderer? Well, well, you
shall know it, but not to-day. I must quit with all speed the
Venetian territory? and wherefore; through fear of thee? Ho! ho!
Through fear of Venice? Ha, Abellino fears not Venice; 'tis Venice
that fears Abellino! You would have me abjure my profession? Well,
Andreas, there is one condition, which, perhaps--"
"Name it," cried the Doge, eagerly; "will ten thousand sequins
purchase your departure from the Republic?"
"I would gladly give you twice as much myself, could you recall the
insult of offering Abellino so miserable a bribe! No, Andreas, but
one price can pay me: give me your niece for my bride. I love
Rosabella, the daughter of Guiscard of Corfu."
"Ho! ho! Patience, patience, good uncle, that is to be. Will you
accept my terms?"
"Name what sum will satisfy you, and it shall be yours this instant,
so you will only relieve Venice from your presence. Though it
should cost the Republic a million she will be a gainer, if her air
is no longer poisoned by your breath."
"Indeed! Why, in fact, a million is not so great a sum; for look
you, Andreas, I have just sold for near HALF a million the lives of
your two dear friends, Manfrone and Lomellino. Now give me
Rosabella, and I break the bargain."
"Miscreant! Has Heaven no lightnings?"
"You will not? Mark me! In four-and-twenty hours shall Manfrone
and Lomellino be food for fishes. Abellino has said it. Away!"
And with these words he drew a pistol from under his cloak, and
flashed it in the Doge's face. Blinded by the powder, and confused
by the unexpected explosion, Andreas started back, and sunk
bewildered on a neighbouring sofa. He soon recovered from his
astonishment. He sprang from his seat to summon his guards and
seize Abellino; but Abellino had already disappeared.
On that same evening were Parozzi and his confederates assembled in
the palace of the Cardinal Gonzaga. The table was spread with the
most luxurious profusion, and they arranged over their flowing
goblets plans for the Republic's ruin. The Cardinal related how he
had of late contrived to insinuate himself into the Doge's good
graces, and had succeeded in impressing him with an opinion that the
chiefs of the confederacy were fit men to hold offices of important
trust. Contarino boasted that he doubted not before long to be
appointed to the vacant procuratorship. Parozzi reckoned for HIS
share upon Rosabella's hand, and the place either of Lomellino or
Manfrone, when once those two chief obstacles to his hope should be
removed. Such was the conversation in which they were engaged, when
the clock struck twelve, the doors flew wide, and Abellino stood
"Wine, there!" cried he; "the work is done. Manfrone and Lomellino
are at supper with the worms. And I have thrown the Doge himself
into such a fit of terror that I warrant he will not recover himself
easily. Now answer are you content with me, you bloodhounds?"
"Next, then, for Flodoardo!" shouted Parozzi.
"Flodoardo!" muttered Abellino between his teeth; "hum--hum--that's
not so easy."
BOOK THE THIRD
CHAPTER I: THE LOVERS.
Rosabella, the idol of all Venice, lay on the bed of sickness; a
sorrow, whose cause was carefully concealed from every one,
undermined her health, and destroyed the bloom of her beauty. She
loved the noble Flodoardo; and who could have known Flodoardo and
not have loved him? His majestic stature, his expressive
countenance, his enthusiastic glance, his whole being declared
aloud--Flodoardo is Nature's favourite, and Rosabella had been
always a great admirer of Nature.
But if Rosabella was ill, Flodoardo was scarcely better. He
confined himself to his own apartment; he shunned society, and
frequently made long journeys to different cities of the Republic,
in hopes of distracting his thoughts by change of place from that
object which, wherever he went, still pursued him. He had now been
absent for three whole weeks. No one knew in what quarter he was
wandering; and it was during this absence that the so-long expected
Prince of Monaldeschi arrived at Venice to claim Rosabella as his
His appearance, to which a month before Andreas looked forward with
such pleasing expectation, now afforded but little satisfaction to
the Doge. Rosabella was too ill to receive her suitor's visits, and
he did not allow her much time to recover her health; for six days
after his arrival at Venice the Prince was found murdered in a
retired part of one of the public gardens. His sword lay by him
unsheathed and bloody; his tablets were gone, but one leaf had been
torn from them and fastened on his breast. It was examined, and
found to contain the following lines, apparently written in blood:-
"Let no one pretend to Rosabella's hand, who is not prepared to
share the fate of Monaldeschi.
"Oh, where shall I now fly for comfort? for protection?" exclaimed
the Doge in despair, when this dreadful news was announced. "Why,
why, is Flodoardo absent?"
Anxiously did he now desire the youth's return, to support him under
the weight of these heavy misfortunes; nor was it long before that
desire was gratified. Flodoardo returned.
"Welcome, noble youth!" said the Doge, when he saw the Florentine
enter his apartment. "You must not in future deprive me of your
presence for so long. I am now a poor forsaken old man. You have
heard that Lomellino--that Manfrone--"
"I know all," answered Flodoardo, with a melancholy air.
"Satan has burst his chains, and now inhabits Venice under the name
of Abellino, robbing me of all that my soul holds precious.
Flodoardo, for Heaven's love, be cautious; often, during your
absence, have I trembled lest the miscreant's dagger should have
deprived me too of YOU. I have much to say to you, my young friend,
but I must defer it till the evening. A foreigner of consequence
has appointed this hour for an audience, and I must hasten to
receive him--but in the evening--"
He was interrupted by the appearance of Rosabella, who, with
tottering steps and pale cheeks, advanced slowly into the apartment.
She saw Flodoardo, and a faint blush overspread her countenance.
Flodoardo rose from his seat, and welcomed her with an air of
"Do not go yet," said the Doge; "perhaps in half an hour I may be at
liberty: in the meanwhile I leave you to entertain my poor
Rosabella. She has been very ill during your absence; and I am
still uneasy about her health. She kept her bed till yesterday, and
truly I think she has left it too soon."
The venerable Doge quitted the apartment, and the lovers once more
found themselves alone. Rosabella drew near the window; Flodoardo
at length ventured to approach it also.
"Signora," said he, "are you still angry with me?"
"I am not angry with you," stammered out Rosabella, and blushed as
she recollected the garden scene.
"And you have quite forgiven my transgression?"
"Your transgression?" repeated Rosabella, with a faint smile; "yes,
if it was a transgression, I have quite forgiven it. Dying people
ought to pardon those who have trespassed against them, in order
that they, in their turn, may be pardoned their trespasses against
Heaven--and I am dying; I feel it."
"Nay, 'tis past a doubt. It's true, I have quitted my sick-bed
since yesterday; but I know well that I am soon to return to it,
never to leave it more. And therefore--therefore, I now ask your
pardon, signor, for the vexation which I was obliged to cause to you
the last time we met."
Flodoardo replied not.
"Will you not forgive me? You must be very difficult to appease--
Flodoardo replied not.
"Will you refuse my offered hand? Shall all be forgotten?"
"Forgotten, lady? Never, never--every word and look of yours is
stamped on my memory, never to be effaced. I cannot forget a
transaction in which YOU bore a part: I cannot forget the scene
that passed between us, every circumstance is too precious and
sacred. As to PARDON"--he took her extended hand and pressed it
respectfully to his lips--"I would to Heaven, dear lady, that you
had in truth injured me much, that I might have much to forgive you.
Alas! I have at present nothing to pardon."
Both were now silent. At length Rosabella resumed the conversation
by saying--"You have made a long absence from Venice; did you travel
"And received much pleasure from your journey?"
"Much; for everywhere I heard the praises of Rosabella."
"Count Flodoardo," she interrupted him with a look of reprehension,
but in a gentle voice, "would you again offend me?"
"That will soon be out of my power. Perhaps you can guess what are
my present intentions."
"To resume your travels soon?"
"Exactly so; and the next time that I quit Venice, to return to it
"No more?" she repeated, eagerly. "Oh, not so, Flodoardo! Ah, can
you leave me?"--She stopped, ashamed of her imprudence. "Can you
leave my uncle? I meant to say. You do but jest, I doubt not."
"By my honour, lady, I never was more in earnest."
"And whither, then, do you mean to go?"
"To Malta, and assist the knights in their attacks upon the corsairs
of Barbary. Providence, perhaps, may enable me to obtain the
command of a galley, then will I call my vessel 'Rosabella;' then
shall the war-cry be still 'Rosabella;' that name will render me
"Oh! this is a mockery, Count. I have not deserved that you should
sport with my feelings so cruelly."
"It is to SPARE your feelings, signora, that I am now resolved to
fly from Venice; my presence might cause you some uneasy moments. I
am not the happy man whose sight is destined to give you pleasure; I
will, at least, avoid giving you pain."
"And you really can resolve to abandon the Doge, whose esteem for
you is so sincere, whose friendship has always been so warm?"
"I value his friendship highly, but it is not sufficient to make me
happy, and could he lay kingdoms at my feet, still would his
friendship be insufficient to make me happy."
"Does, then, your happiness require so much?"
"It does--much more than I have mentioned, infinitely more. But one
boon can make me happy; I have begged for it on my knees." He
caught her hand and pressed it eagerly to his lips. "I have begged
for it, Rosabella, and my suit has been rejected."
"You are a strange enthusiast," she said with difficulty, and
scarcely knew what she said, while Flodoardo drew her gently nearer
to him, and murmured in a supplicating voice, "Rosabella!"
"What would you of me?"
She gazed upon him for a moment undecided, then hastily drew away
her hand, and exclaimed, "Leave me, this moment, I command you.
Leave me, for Heaven's sake!"
Flodoardo clasped his hands together in despair and anguish. He
bowed his head in token of obedience. He left her with slow steps
and a melancholy air, and as he passed the threshold, turned to bid
her farewell for ever. Suddenly she rushed towards him, caught his
hand, and pressed it to her heart.
"Flodoardo," she cried, "I am thine!" and sank motionless at his
CHAPTER II: A DANGEROUS PROMISE.
And now who was so blessed as the fortunate Flodoardo? The victory
was his own, he had heard the wished-for sentence pronounced by the
lips of Rosabella. He raised her from the ground, and placed her on
a sofa. Her blue eyes soon unclosed themselves once more, and the
first object which they beheld was Flodoardo kneeling at her feet,
while with one arm he encircled her waist. Her head sank upon the
shoulder of the man for whom she had breathed so many sighs, who had
occupied so many of her thoughts by day, who had been present in so
many of her dreams by night.
As they gazed in silent rapture on each other, they forgot that they
were mortals; they seemed to be transported to a happier, to a
better world. Rosabella thought that the chamber in which she sat
was transformed into an earthly Paradise; invisible seraphs seemed
to hallow by their protecting presence the indulgence of her
innocent affection, and she poured forth her secret thanks to Him
who had given her a heart susceptible of love.
Through the whole course of man's existence, such a moment as this
occurs but once. Happy is he who sighs for its arrival; happy is he
who, when it arrives, has a soul worthy of its enjoyment; happy is
even he for whom that moment has long been passed, so it passed not
unenjoyed, for the recollection of it still is precious. Sage
philosophers, in vain do you assure us that the raptures of a moment
like this are mere illusions of a heated imagination, scarcely more
solid than an enchanting dream, which fades before the sunbeams of
truth and reason. Alas! does there exist a happiness under the moon
which owes not its charms in some degree to the magic of
"You are dear to me, Flodoardo," murmured Rosabella, for Camilla and
her counsels were quite forgotten; "oh, you are very, very dear!"
The youth only thanked her by clasping her still closer to his
bosom, while, for the first time, he sealed her coral lips with his
At that moment the door was suddenly thrown open. The Doge Andreas
re-entered the apartment: the expected stranger had been suddenly
taken ill, and Andreas was no sooner at liberty than he hastened to
rejoin his favourite. The rustling of his garments roused the
lovers from their dream of bliss. Rosabella started from
Flodoardo's embrace with a cry of terror; Flodoardo quitted his
kneeling posture, yet seemed by no means disconcerted at the
Andreas gazed upon them for some minutes, with a look which
expressed at once anger, melancholy, and the most heartfelt
disappointment. He sighed deeply, cast his eyes towards heaven, and
in silence turned to leave the apartment.
"Stay yet one moment, noble Andreas," cried the Florentine.
The Doge turned, and Flodoardo threw himself at his feet. Andreas
looked down with calm and serious dignity on the kneeling offender,
by whom his friendship had been so unworthily rewarded, and by whom
his confidence had been so cruelly betrayed.
"Young man," said he, in a stern voice, "the attempt to excuse
yourself must be fruitless."
"Excuse myself!" interrupted Flodoardo, boldly; "no, my lord, I need
no excuses for loving Rosabella; 'twere for him to excuse himself
who had seen Rosabella and NOT loved her; yet, if it is indeed a
crime in me that I adore Rosabella, 'tis a crime of which Heaven
itself will absolve me, since it formed Rosabella so worthy to be
"You seem to lay too much stress on this fantastic apology,"
answered the Doge, contemptuously; "at least you cannot expect that
it should have much weight with me."
"I say it once more, my lord," resumed Flodoardo, while he rose from
the ground, "that I intend to make no apology; I mean not to excuse
my love for Rosabella, but to request your approbation of that love.
Andreas, I adore your niece; I demand her for my bride."
The Doge started in astonishment at this bold and unexpected
"It is true," continued the Florentine, "I am no more than a needy,
unknown youth, and it seems a piece of strange temerity when such a
man proposes himself to espouse the heiress of the Venetian Doge.
But, by Heaven, I am confident that the great Andreas means not to
bestow his Rosabella on one of those whose claims to favour are
overflowing coffers, extensive territories, and sounding titles, or
who vainly decorate their insignificance with the glory obtained by
the titles of their ancestors, glory of which they are themselves
incapable of acquiring a single ray. I acknowledge freely that I
have as yet performed no actions which make me deserving of such a
reward as Rosabella; but it shall not be long ere I WILL perform
such actions, or perish in the attempt."
The Doge turned from him with a look of displeasure.
"Oh, be not incensed with him, dear uncle," said Rosabella. She
hastened to detain the Doge, threw her white arms around his neck
fondly, and concealed in his bosom the tears with which her
countenance was bedewed.
"Make your demands," continued Flodoardo, still addressing himself
to the Doge; "say what you wish me to do, and what you would have me
become, in order to obtain from you the hand of Rosabella. Ask what
you will, I will look on the task, however difficult, as nothing
more than sport and pastime. By Heaven, I would that Venice were at
this moment exposed to the most imminent danger, and that ten
thousand daggers were unsheathed against your life; Rosabella my
reward--how certain should I be to rescue Venice, and strike the ten
thousand daggers down."
"I have served the Republic faithfully and fervently for many a long
year," answered Andreas, with a bitter smile; "I have risked my life
without hesitation; I have shed my blood with profusion; I asked
nothing for my reward but to pass my old age in soft tranquillity,
and of this reward have I been cheated. My bosom friends, the
companions of my youth, the confidants of my age, have been torn
from me by the daggers of banditti; and you, Flodoardo, you, on whom
I heaped all favours, have now deprived me of this my only remaining
comfort. Answer me, Rosabella; hast thou in truth bestowed thy
heart on Flodoardo irrevocably?"
One hand of Rosabella's still rested on her uncle's shoulder; with
the other she clasped Flodoardo's and pressed it fondly against her
heart--yet Flodoardo seemed still unsatisfied. No sooner had the
Doge's question struck his ear, than his countenance became
dejected; and though his hand returned the pressure of Rosabella's,
he shook his head mournfully, with an air of doubt, and cast on her
a penetrating look, as would he have read the secrets of her inmost
Andreas withdrew himself gently from Rosabella's arm, and for some
time paced the apartment slowly, with a countenance sad and earnest.
Rosabella sank upon a sofa which stood near her, and wept.
Flodoardo eyed the Doge, and waited for his decision with
Thus passed some minutes. An awful silence reigned through the
chamber; Andreas seemed to be labouring with some resolution of
dreadful importance. The lovers wished, yet dreaded, the conclusion
of the scene, and with every moment their anxiety became more
"Flodoardo!" at length said the Doge, and suddenly stood still in
the middle of the chamber. Flodoardo advanced with a respectful
air. "Young man," he continued, "I am at length resolved; Rosabella
loves you, nor will I oppose the decision of her heart; but
Rosabella is much too precious to admit of my bestowing her on the
first who thinks fit to demand her. The man to whom I give her must
be worthy such a gift. She must be the reward of his services; nor
can he do services so great that such a reward will not overpay
them. Your claims on the Republic's gratitude are as yet but
trifling; an opportunity now offers of rendering as an essential
service. The murderer of Conari, Manfrone, and Lomellino--go, bring
him hither! Alive or dead, thou must bring to this palace the
terrible banditti-king, ABELLINO!"
At this unexpected conclusion of a speech on which his happiness or
despair depended, Flodoardo started back. The colour fled from his
"My noble lord!" he said at length, hesitating, "you know well that-
"I know well," interrupted Andreas, "how difficult a task I enjoin,
when I require the delivery of Abellino. For myself I swear that I
had rather a thousand times force my passage with a single vessel
through the whole Turkish fleet, and carry off the admiral's ship
from the midst of them, than attempt to seize this Abellino, who
seems to have entered into a compact with Lucifer himself: who is
to be found everywhere and nowhere; whom so many have seen, but whom
no one knows; whose cautious subtlety has brought to shame the
vigilance of our State inquisitors, of the College of Ten, and of
all their legions of spies and sbirri; whose very name strikes
terror into the hearts of the bravest Venetians, and from whose
dagger I myself am not safe upon my throne. I know well, Flodoardo,
how much I ask; but I know also how much I proffer. You seem
irresolute? You are silent? Flodoardo, I have long watched you
with attention. I have discovered in you marks of a superior
genius, and therefore I am induced to make such a demand. If any
one is able to cope with Abellino, thou art the man. I wait your
Flodoardo paced the chamber in silence. Dreadful was the enterprise
proposed. Woe to him should Abellino discover his purpose. But
Rosabella was the reward. He cast a look on the beloved one, and
resolved to risk everything.
He advanced towards the Doge.
Andreas.--Now, then, Flodoardo--your resolution?
Flodoardo.--Should I deliver Abellino into your power, do you
solemnly swear that Rosabella shall be my bride?
Andreas.--She shall! and NOT TILL THEN.
Rosabella.--Ah! Flodoardo, I fear this undertaking will end
fatally. Abellino is so crafty, so dreadful. Oh! look well to
yourself, for should you meet with the detested monster, whose
Flodoardo (interrupting her hastily).--Oh! silence, Rosabella--at
least allow me to hope. Noble Andreas, give me your hand, and
pledge your princely word that, Abellino once in your power, nothing
shall prevent me from being Rosabella's husband.
Andreas.--I swear it; deliver into my power, either alive or dead,
this most dangerous foe of Venice, and nothing shall prevent
Rosabella from being your wife. In pledge of which I here give you
my princely hand.
Flodoardo grasped the Doge's hand in silence, and shook it thrice.
He turned to Rosabella, and seemed on the point of addressing her,
when he suddenly turned away, struck his forehead, and measured the
apartment with disordered and unsteady steps. The clock in the
tower of St. Mark's church struck five.
"Time flies!" cried Flodoardo; "no more delay, then. In four-and-
twenty hours will I produce in this very palace this dreaded bravo,
Andreas shook his head. "Young man," said he, "be less confident in
your promises; I shall have more faith in your performance."
Flodoardo (serious and firm).--Let things terminate as they may,
either I will keep my word, or never again will cross the threshold
of your palace. I have discovered some traces of the miscreant, and
I trust that I shall amuse you to-morrow, at this time and in this
place, with the representation of a comedy; but should it prove a
tragedy instead, God's will be done.
Andreas.--Remember that too much haste is dangerous; rashness will
destroy even the frail hopes of success which you may reasonably
indulge at present.
Flodoardo.--Rashness, my lord? He who has lived as I have lived,
and suffered what I have suffered, must have been long since cured
Rosabella (taking his hand).--Yet be not too confident of your own
strength, I beseech you! Dear Flodoardo, my uncle loves you, and
his advice is wise! Beware of Abellino's dagger!
Flodoardo.--The best way to escape his dagger is not to allow him
time to use it: within four-and-twenty hours must the deed be done,
or never. Now, then, illustrious Prince, I take my leave of you.
To-morrow I doubt not to convince you that nothing is too much for
love to venture.
Andreas.--Right; to venture: but to achieve?
Flodoardo.--Ah, that must depend--He paused suddenly again his eyes
were fastened eagerly on those of Rosabella, and it was evident that
with every moment his uneasiness acquired fresh strength. He
resumed his discourse to Andreas, with a movement of impatience.
"Noble Andreas," said he, "do not make me dispirited; rather let me
try whether I cannot inspire you with more confidence of my success.
I must first request you to order a splendid entertainment to be
prepared. At this hour in the afternoon of to-morrow let me find
all the principal persons in Venice, both men and women, assembled
in this chamber; for should my hopes be realised, I would willingly
have spectators of my triumph. Particularly let the venerable
members of the College of Ten he invited, in order that they may at
last he brought face to face with this terrible Abellino, against
whom they have so long been engaged in fruitless warfare."
Andreas (after eyeing him some time with a look of mingled surprise
and uncertainty).--They shall be present.
Flodoardo.--I understand, also, that since Conari's death you have
been reconciled to the Cardinal Gonzaga; and that he has convinced
you how unjust were the prejudices with which Conari had inspired
you against the nobility--Parozzi, Contarino, and the rest of that
society. During my late excursions I have heard much in praise of
these young men, which makes me wish to show myself to them in a
favourable light. If you have no objection, let me beg you to
invite them also.
Andreas.--You shall be gratified.
Flodoardo.--One thing more, which had nearly escaped my memory. Let
no one know the motive of this entertainment till the whole company
is assembled. Then let guards be placed around the palace, and,
indeed, it may be as well to place them even before the doors of the
saloon; for in truth this Abellino is such a desperate villain, that
too many precautions cannot be taken against him. The sentinels
must have their pieces loaded, and, above all things, they must be
strictly charged, on pain of death, to let every one enter, but no
one quit the chamber.
Andreas.--All this shall be done punctually.
Flodoardo.--I have nothing more to say. Noble Andreas, farewell.
Rosabella, to-morrow, when the clock strikes five, we shall meet
again, or never.
He said, and rushed out of the apartment. Andreas shook his head;
while Rosabella sank upon her uncle's bosom, and wept bitterly.
CHAPTER III.--THE MIDNIGHT MEETING.
"Victory!" shouted Parozzi, as he rushed into the Cardinal Gonzaga's
chamber, where the chief conspirators were all assembled; "our work
goes on bravely. Flodoardo returned this morning to Venice, and
Abellino has already received the required sum."
Gonzaga.--Flodoardo does not want talents; I had rather he should
live and join our party. He is seldom off his guard -
Parozzi.--Such vagabonds may well be cautious; they must not forget
themselves, who have so much to conceal from others.
Falieri.--Rosabella, as I understand, by no means sees this
Florentine with unfavourable eyes.
Parozzi.--Oh, wait till to-morrow, and then he may make love to the
devil and his grandmother, if he likes it. Abellino by that time
will have wrung his neck round, I warrant you.
Contarino.--It is strange that, in spite of all inquiries, I can
learn but little at Florence respecting this Flodoardo. My letters
inform me that some time ago there did exist a family of that name;
but it has been long extinct, or if any of its descendants are still
in being at Florence, their existence is quite a secret.
Gonzaga.--Are you all invited to the Doge's tomorrow?
Contarino.--All of us, without exception.
Gonzaga.--That is well. It seems that my recommendations have
obtained some weight with him, since his triumvirate has been
removed. And in the evening a masked ball is to be given. Did not
the Doge's chamberlain say so?
Memmo.--I only hope there is no trick in all this. If he should
have been given a hint of our conspiracy! Mercy on us! my teeth
chatter at the thought.
Gonzaga.--Absurd! By what means should our designs have been made
known to him? The thing is impossible.
Memmo.--Impossible? What, when there's scarce a cutpurse,
housebreaker, or vagabond in Venice who has not been enlisted in our
service, would it be so strange if the Doge discovered a little of
the business? A secret which is known to so many, how should it
escape his penetration?
Contarino.--Simpleton! the same thing happens to him which happens
to betrayed husbands. Everyone can see the horns except the man who
carries them. And yet I confess it is full time that we should
realise our projects, and prevent the possibility of our being
Falieri.--You are right, friend; everything is ready now. The
sooner that the blow is struck the better.
Parozzi.--Nay, the discontented populace, which at present sides
with us, would be perfectly well pleased if the sport began this
very night; delay the business longer, and their anger against
Andreas will cool, and render them unfit for our purpose.
Contarino.--Then let us decide the game at once; be to-morrow the
important day. Leave the Doge to my disposal. I'll at least engage
to bury my poniard in his heart, and then let the business end as it
may, one of two things must happen: either we shall rescue
ourselves from all trouble and vexation, by throwing everything into
uproar and confusion, or else we shall sail with a full wind from
this cursed world to another.
Parozzi.--Mark me, friends, we must go armed to the Doge's
Gonzaga.--All the members of the College of Ten have been
particularly invited -
Falieri.--Down with every man of them!
Memmo.--Aye, aye! Fine talking, but suppose it should turn out to
be down with ourselves?
Falieri.--Thou white-livered wretch! Stay at home, then, and take
care of your worthless existence. But if our attempt succeeds, come
not to us to reimburse you for the sums which you have already
advanced. Not a sequin shall be paid you back, depend on't.
Memmo.--You wrong me, Falieri; if you wish to prove my courage, draw
your sword and measure it against mine. I am as brave as yourself;
but, thank Heaven, I am not quite so hot-headed.
Gonzaga.--Nay, even suppose that the event should not answer our
expectations? Andreas once dead, let the populace storm as it
pleases; the protection of his Holiness will sanction our
Memmo.--The Pope? May we count on his protection?
Gonzaga (throwing him a letter).--Read there, unbeliever. The Pope,
I tell you, must protect us, since one of our objects is professed
to be the assertion of the rights of St. Peter's Chair in Venice.
Prithee, Memmo, tease us no more with such doubts, but let
Contarino's proposal be adopted at once. Our confederates must be
summoned to Parozzi's palace with all diligence, and there furnished
with such weapons as are necessary. Let the stroke of midnight be
the signal for Contarino's quitting the ball-room, and hastening to
seize the arsenal. Salviati, who commands there, is in our
interest, and will throw open the gates at the first summons.
Falieri.--The admiral Adorna, as soon as he hears the alarm-bell,
will immediately lead his people to our assistance.
Parozzi.--Oh, our success is certain.
Contarino.--Only let us take care to make the confusion as general
as possible. Our adversaries must be kept in the dark who are their
friends and who their foes, and all but our own party must be left
ignorant as to the authors, the origin, and the object of the
Parozzi.--Heaven, I am delighted at finding the business at length
so near the moment of execution!
Falieri.--Parozzi, have you distributed the white ribbons by which
we are to recognise our partisans?
Parozzi.--That was done some days ago.
Contarino.--Then there is no more necessary to be said on the
subject. Comrades, fill your goblets. We will not meet again
together till our work has been completed.
Memmo.--And yet methinks it would not be unwise to consider the
matter over again coolly.
Contarino.--Pshaw! consideration and prudence have nothing to do
with a rebellion; despair and rashness in this case are better
counsellors. The work once begun, the constitution of Venice once
boldly overturned, so that no one can tell who is master and who is
subject, then consideration will be of service in instructing us how
far it may be necessary for our interest to push the confusion.
Come, friends! fill, fill, I say. I cannot help laughing when I
reflect that, by giving this entertainment to-morrow, the Doge
himself kindly affords us an opportunity of executing our plans.
Parozzi.--As to Flodoardo, I look upon him already as in his grave;
yet before we go to-morrow to the Doge's, it will be as well to have
a conference with Abellino.
Contarino.--That care we will leave to you, Parozzi, and in the
meanwhile here's the health of Abellino.
Gonzaga.--And success to our enterprise to-morrow.
Memmo.--I'll drink THAT toast with all my heart.
All.--Success to to-morrow's enterprise!
Parozzi.--The wine tastes well, and every face looks gay; pass
eight-and-forty hours, and shall we look as gaily? We separate
smiling; shall we smile when two nights hence we meet again? No
CHAPTER IV.--THE DECISIVE DAY.
The next morning everything in Venice seemed as tranquil as if
nothing more than ordinary was on the point of taking place; and
yet, since her first foundation, never had a more important day
risen on the Republic.
The inhabitants of the ducal palace were in motion early. The
impatient Andreas forsook the couch on which he had passed a
sleepless and anxious night, as soon as the first sunbeams
penetrated through the lattice of his chamber. Rosabella had
employed the hours of rest in dreams of Flodoardo, and she still
seemed to be dreaming of him, even after sleep was fled. Camilla's
love for her fair pupil had broken her repose; she loved Rosabella
as had she been her daughter, and was aware that on this interesting
day depended the love-sick girl's whole future happiness. For some
time Rosabella was unusually gay; she sang to her harp the most
lively airs, and jested with Camilla for looking so serious and so
uneasy; but when mid-day approached, her spirits began to forsake
her. She quitted her instrument, and paced the chamber with
unsteady steps. With every succeeding hour her heart palpitated
with greater pain and violence, and she trembled in expectation of
the scene which was soon to take place.
The most illustrious persons in Venice already filled her uncle's
palace; the afternoon so much dreaded, and yet so much desired, was
come; and the Doge now desired Camilla to conduct his niece to the
great saloon, where she was expected with impatience by all those
who were of most consequence in the Republic.
Rosabella sank on her knees before a statue of the Virgin. "Blessed
Lady!" she exclaimed, with lifted hands, "have mercy on me! Let all
to-day end well!"
Pale as death did she enter the chamber in which, on the day before,
she had acknowledged her love for Flodoardo, and Flodoardo had sworn
to risk his life to obtain her. Flodoardo was not yet arrived.
The assembly was brilliant, the conversation was gay. They talked
over the politics of the day, and discussed the various occurrences
of Europe. The Cardinal and Contarino were engaged in a conference
with the Doge, while Memmo, Parozzi, and Falieri stood silent
together, and revolved the project whose execution was to take place
The weather was dark and tempestuous. The wind roared among the
waters of the canal, and the vanes of the palace-towers creaked
shrilly and discordantly. One storm of rain followed hard upon
The clock struck four. The cheeks of Rosabella, if possible, became
paler than before. Andreas whispered something to his chamberlain.
In a few minutes the tread of armed men seemed approaching the doors
of the saloon, and soon after the clattering of weapons was heard.
Instantly a sudden silence reigned through the whole assembly. The
young courtiers broke off their love-speeches abruptly, and the
ladies stopped in their criticisms upon the last new fashions. The
statesmen dropped their political discussions, and gazed on each
other in silence and anxiety.
The Doge advanced slowly into the midst of the assembly. Every eye
was fixed upon him. The hearts of the conspirators beat painfully.
"Be not surprised, my friends," said Andreas, "at these unusual
precautions; they relate to nothing which need interfere with the
pleasures of this society. You have all heard but too much of the
bravo Abellino, the murderer of the Procurator Conari, and of my
faithful counsellors Manfrone and Lomellino, and to whose dagger my
illustrious guest the Prince of Monaldeschi has but lately fallen a
victim. This miscreant, the object of aversion to every honest man
in Venice, to whom nothing is sacred or venerable, and who has
hitherto set at defiance the whole vengeance of the Republic--before
another hour expires, perhaps this outcast of hell may stand before
you in this very saloon."
All (astonished).--Abellino? What, the bravo Abellino?
Gonzaga.--Of his own accord!
Andreas.--No, not of his own accord, in truth. But Flodoardo of
Florence has undertaken to render this important service to the
Republic, to seize Abellino, cost what it may, and conduct him
hither at the risk of his life.
A Senator.--The engagement will be difficult to fulfil. I doubt
much Flodoardo's keeping his promise.
Another.--But if he SHOULD perform it, the obligation which
Flodoardo will lay upon the Republic will not be trifling.
A Third.--Nay, we shall be all his debtors, nor do I know how we can
reward Flodoardo for so important a service.
Andreas.--Be that my task. Flodoardo has demanded my niece in
marriage if he performs his promise. Rosabella shall be his reward.
All gazed on each other in silence; some with looks expressing the
most heartfelt satisfaction, and others with glances of envy and
Falieri (in a low voice).--Parozzi, how will this end?
Memmo.--As I live, the very idea makes me shake as if I had a fever.
Parozzi (smiling contemptuously).--It's very likely that Abellino
should suffer himself to be caught!
Contarino.--Pray inform me, signors, have any of you ever met this
Abellino face to face?
Several Noblemen at once.--Not I. Never.
A Senator.--He is a kind of spectre, who only appears now and then,
when he is least expected and desired.
Rosabella.--I saw him once; never again shall I forget the monster.
Andreas.--And my interview with him is too well known to make it
needful for me to relate it.
Memmo.--I have heard a thousand stories about this miscreant, the
one more wonderful than the other; and for my own part I verily
believe that he is Satan himself in a human form. I must say that I
think it would be wiser not to let him be brought in among us, for
he is capable of strangling us all as we stand here, one after
another, without mercy.
"Gracious Heaven!" screamed several of the ladies, "you don't say
so? What, strangle us in this very chamber?"
Contarino.--The principal point is, whether Flodoardo will get the
better of HIM, or HE of Flodoardo. Now I would lay a heavy wager
that the Florentine will return without having finished the
A Senator.--And _I_ would engage, on the contrary, that there is but
one man in Venice who is capable of seizing Abellino, and that THAT
man is Flodoardo of Florence. The moment that I became acquainted
with him, I prophesied that one day or other he would play a
brilliant part in the annals of history.
Another Senator.--I think with you, signor. Never was I so struck
with a man at first sight as I was with Flodoardo.
Contarino.--A thousand sequins on Abellino's not being taken, unless
death should have taken him first.
The First Senator.--A thousand sequins on Flodoardo seizing him -
Andreas.--And delivering him up to me, either alive or dead.
Contarino.--Illustrious signors, you are witnesses of the wager. My
Lord Vitalba, there is my hand on it. A thousand sequins!
Contarino (smiling).--Many thanks for your gold, signor. I look on
it as already in my purse. Flodoardo is a clever gentleman, no
doubt, yet I would advise him to take good care of himself; for he
will find that Abellino knows a trick or two, or I am much mistaken.
Gonzaga.--May I request your Highness to inform me whether Flodoardo
is attended by the sbirri?
Andreas.--No, he is alone. Near four-and-twenty hours have elapsed
since he set out in pursuit of the bravo.
Gonzaga (to Contarino, with a smile of triumph).--I wish you joy of
your thousand sequins, signor.
Contarino (bowing respectfully).--Since your Excellency prophesies
it I can no longer doubt my success.
Memmo.--I begin to recover myself! Well, well! let us see the end.
Three-and-twenty hours had elapsed since Flodoardo had entered into
the rash engagement. The four-and-twentieth now hastened to its
completion, and yet Flodoardo came not.
CHAPTER V.--THE CLOCK STRIKES FIVE.
The Doge became uneasy. The senator Vitalba began to tremble for
his thousand sequins, and the conspirators could not restrain their
spiteful laughter, when Contarino gravely declared that he would
gladly lose, not ONE thousand sequins, but twenty, if the loss of
his wager through Abellino's being captured might but secure the
general safety of the Republic.
"Hark!" cried Rosabella, "the clock strikes five!"
All listened to the chimes in the tower of St. Mark's Church, and
trembled as they counted the strokes. Had not Camilla supported
her, Rosabella would have sank upon the ground. The destined hour
was past, and still Flodoardo came not!
The venerable Andreas felt a sincere affection for the Florentine;
he shuddered as he dwelt upon the probability that Abellino's dagger
Rosabella advanced towards her uncle as if she would have spoken to
him; but anxiety fettered her tongue, and tears forced themselves
into her eyes. She struggled for a while to conceal her emotions,
but the effort was too much for her. She threw herself on a sofa,
wrung her hands, and prayed to the God of mercy for help and
The rest of the company either formed groups of whisperers, or
strolled up and down the apartment in evident uneasiness. They
would willingly have appeared gay and unconcerned, but they found it
impossible to assume even an affectation of gaiety, and thus elapsed
another hour, and still Flodoardo came not.
At that moment the evening sun broke through the clouds, and a ray
of its setting glory was thrown full upon the countenance of
Rosabella. She started from the sofa, extended her arms towards the
radiant orb, and exclaimed, while a smile of hope played round her
lips, "God is merciful; God will have mercy on me."
Contarino.--Was it at five o'clock that Flodoardo engaged to produce
Abellino? It is now a full hour beyond his time.
The Senator Vitalba.--Let him only produce him at last, and he may
be a month beyond his time if he choose.
Andreas.--Hark! No. Silence! silence! Surely I hear footsteps
approaching the saloon.
The words were scarcely spoken when the folding doors were thrown
open, and Flodoardo rushed into the room enveloped in his mantle.
His hair streamed on the air in wild disorder; a deep shade was
thrown over his face by the drooping plumes of his barrette, from
which the rain was flowing. Extreme melancholy was impressed on all
his features, and he threw gloomy looks around him as he bowed his
head in salutation of the assembly.
Every one crowded round him; every mouth was unclosed to question
him; every eye was fixed on his face as if eager to anticipate his
"Holy Virgin!" exclaimed Memmo, "I am afraid that--"
"Be silent, signor!" interrupted Contarino, sternly; "there is
nothing to be afraid of."
"Illustrious Venetians!"--it was thus that Flodoardo broke silence,
and he spoke with the commanding tone of a hero--"I conclude that
his Highness has already made known to you the object of your being
thus assembled. I come to put an end to your anxiety; but first,
noble Andreas, I must once more receive the assurance that Rosabella
of Corfu shall become my bride, provided I deliver into your power
the bravo Abellino."
Andreas (examining his countenance with extreme anxiety).--
Flodoardo, have you succeeded? Is Abellino your prisoner?
Flodoardo.--If Abellino is my prisoner, shall Rosabella be my bride?
Andreas.--Bring me Abellino, alive or dead, and she is yours. I
swear it beyond the power of retracting, and also that her dowry
shall be royal!
Flodoardo.--Illustrious Venetians, ye have heard the Doge's oath?
All.--We are your witnesses.
Flodoardo (advancing a few paces with a bold air, and speaking in a
firm voice).--Well, then, Abellino is in my power--is in YOURS.
All (in confusion and a kind of uproar).--In ours? Merciful heaven!
Where is he? Abellino!
Andreas.--Is he dead or living?
Flodoardo.--He still lives.
Gonzaga (hastily).--He lives?
Flodoardo (bowing to the Cardinal respectfully).--He still lives,
Rosabella (pressing Camilla to her bosom). Didst thou hear that,
Camilla? Didst thou hear it? The villain still lives. Not one
drop of blood has stained the innocent hand of Flodoardo.
The Senator Vitalba.--Signor Contarino, I have won a thousand
sequins of you.
Contarino.--So it should seem, signor.
Andreas.--My son, you have bound the Republic to you for ever, and I
rejoice that it is to Flodoardo that she is indebted for a service
Vitalba.--And permit me, noble Florentine, to thank you for this
heroic act in the name of the Senate of Venice. Our first care
shall be to seek out a reward proportioned to your merits.
Flodoardo (extending his arms towards Rosabella, with a melancholy
air).--There stands the only reward for which I wish.
Andreas (joyfully).--And that reward is your own. But where have
you left the bloodhound? Conduct him hither, my son, and let me
look at him once more. When I last saw him, he had the insolence to
tell me, "Doge, I am your equal. This narrow chamber now holds the
two greatest men in Venice." Now, then, let me see how this other
great man looks in captivity.
Two or three Senators.--Where is he? Bring him hither.
Several of the ladies screamed at hearing this proposal. "For
heaven's sake," cried they, "keep the monster away from us! I shall
be frightened out of my senses if he comes here."
"Noble ladies," said Flodoardo, with a smile, expressing rather
sorrow than joy, "you have nothing to apprehend. Abellino shall do
you no harm; but he needs must come hither to claim THE BRAVO'S
BRIDE." And he pointed to Rosabella.
"Oh, my best friend," she answered, "how shall I express my thanks
to you for having thus put an end to my terrors? I shall tremble no
more at hearing Abellino named. Rosabella shall now be called the
Bravo's Bride no longer."
Falieri.--Is Abellino already in this palace?
Vitalba.--Then why do you not produce him? Why do you trifle so
long with our impatience?
Flodoardo.--Be patient. It's now time that the play should begin.
Be seated, noble Andreas. Let all the rest arrange themselves
behind the Doge. Abellino's coming!
At that word both old and young, both male and female, with the
rapidity of lightning, flew to take shelter behind Andreas. Every
heart beat anxiously; but as to the conspirators, while expecting
Abellino's appearance, they suffered the torments of the damned.
Grave and tranquil sat the Doge in his chair, like a judge appointed
to pass sentence on this King of the Banditti. The spectators stood
around in various groups, all hushed and solemn, as if they were
waiting to receive their final judgment. The lovely Rosabella, with
all the security of angels whose innocence have nothing to fear,
reclined her head on Camilla's shoulder and gazed on her heroic
lover with looks of adoration. The conspirators, with pallid cheeks
and staring eyes, filled up the background, and a dead and awful
silence prevailed through the assembly, scarcely interrupted by a
"And now, then," said Flodoardo, "prepare yourselves, for this
terrible Abellino shall immediately appear before you. Do not
tremble; he shall do no one harm."
With these words he turned away from the company, advanced towards
the folding-doors. He paused for a few moments, and concealed his
face in his cloak.
"Abellino!" cried he at length, raising his head, and extending his
arm towards the door. At that name all who heard it shuddered
involuntarily, and Rosabella advanced unconsciously a few steps
towards her lover. She trembled more for Flodoardo than herself.
"Abellino!" the Florentine repeated, in a loud and angry tone, threw
from him his mantle and barrette, and had already laid his hand on
the lock of the door to open it, when Rosabella uttered a cry of
"Stay, Flodoardo!" she cried, rushing towards him, and--Ha!
Flodoardo was gone, and there, in his place, stood Abellino, and
shouted out, "Ho! ho!"
Instantly a loud cry of terror resounded through the apartment.
Rosabella sank fainting at the bravo's feet; the conspirators were
almost suffocated with rage, terror, and astonishment; the ladies
made signs of the cross, and began in all haste to repeat their
paternosters; the senators stood rooted to their places like so many
statues; and the Doge doubted the information of his ears and eyes.
Calm and terrible stood the bravo before them, in all the pomp of
his strange and awful ugliness, with his bravo's habit, his girdle
filled with pistols and poniards, his distorted yellow countenance,
his black and bushy eyebrows, his lips convulsed, his right eye
covered by a large patch, and his left half buried among the
wrinkles of flesh which swelled around it. He gazed around him for
a few moments in silence, and then approached the stupefied Andreas.
"Ho! ho!" he roared in a voice like thunder, "you wish to see the
bravo Abellino? Doge of Venice, here he stands, and is come to
claim his bride."
Andreas gazed with looks of horror on this model for demons, and at
length stammered out with difficulty, "It cannot be real; I must
surely be the sport of some terrible dream."
"Without there, guards!" exclaimed the Cardinal Gonzaga, and would
have hastened to the folding doors, when Abellino put his back
against them, snatched a pistol from his girdle, and pointed it at
the Cardinal's bosom.
"The first," cried he, "who calls for the guard, or advances one
step from the place on which he stands, expires that moment. Fools!
Do ye think I would have delivered myself up, and desired that
guards might beset these doors, had I feared their swords, or
intended to escape from your power? No; I am content to be your
prisoner, but not through compulsion! I am content to be your
prisoner; and it was with that intent that I came hither. No mortal
should have the glory of seizing Abellino. If justice required him
to be delivered up, it was necessary that he should be delivered up
by himself! Or do ye take Abellino for an ordinary ruffian, who
passes his time in skulking from the sbirri, and who murders for the
sake of despicable plunder? No, by heaven, no! Abellino was no
such common villain. It's true I was a bravo; but the motives which
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