The Bravo of Venice - A Romance
M. G. Lewis
Part 3 out of 3
induced me to become one were great and striking."
Andreas (clasping his hands together).--Almighty God! can all this
An awful silence again reigned through the saloon. All trembled
while they listened to the voice of the terrible assassin, who
strode through the chamber proud and majestic as the monarch of the
Rosabella opened her eyes; their first look fell upon the bravo.
"Oh, God of mercy!" she exclaimed, "he is still there. Methought,
too, that Flodoardo -. No, no; it could not be! I was deceived by
Abellino advanced towards her, and attempted to raise her. She
shrunk from his touch with horror.
"No, Rosabella," said the bravo, in an altered voice, "what you saw
was no illusion. Your favoured Flodoardo is no other than Abellino
"It is false!" interrupted Rosabella, starting from the ground in
despair, and throwing herself for refuge on Camilla's bosom.
"Monster! thou canst not be Flodoardo! such a fiend can never have
been such a seraph. Flodoardo's actions were good and glorious as a
demi-god's! 'Twas of him that I learned to love good and glorious
actions, and 'twas he who encouraged me to attempt them myself; his
heart was pure from all mean passions, and capable of conceiving all
great designs. Never did he scruple, in the cause of virtue, to
endure fatigue and pain, and to dry up the tears of suffering
innocence--that was Flodoardo's proudest triumph! Flodoardo and
thou--! Wretch, whom many a bleeding ghost has long since accused
before the throne of heaven, darest thou to profane the name of
Abellino (proud and earnest).--Rosabella, wilt thou forsake me?
Wilt thou retract thy promise? Look, Rosabella, and be convinced:
I, the bravo, and thy Flodoardo are the same.
He said, removing the patch from his eye, and passed a handkerchief
over his face once or twice. In an instant his complexion was
altered, his bushy eyebrows and straight black hair disappeared, his
features were replaced in their natural symmetry, and lo! the
handsome Florentine stood before the whole assembly, dressed in the
habit of the bravo Abellino.
Abellino.--Mark me, Rosabella! Seven times over, and seven times
again, will I change my appearance, even before your eyes, and that
so artfully that, study me as you will, the transformation shall
deceive you. But change as I may, of one thing be assured: I am
the man whom you loved as Flodoardo.
The Doge gazed and listened without being able to recover from his
confusion, but every now and then the words "Dreadful! dreadful!"
escaped from his lips, and he wrung his hands in agony. Abellino
approached Rosabella, and said in the tone of supplication:
"Rosabella, wilt thou break thy promise? Am I no longer dear to
Rosabella was unable to answer; she stood like one changed to a
statue, and fixed her motionless eyes on the bravo.
Abellino took her cold hand and pressed it to his lips.
"Rosabella," said he, "art thou still mine?"
Rosabella.--Flodoardo, oh! that I had never loved, had never seen
Abellino.--Rosabella wilt thou still be the bride of Flodoardo? wilt
thou be "the Bravo's Bride?"
Love struggled with abhorrence in Rosabella's bosom, and painful was
Abellino.--Hear me, beloved one! It was for thee that I have
discovered myself--that I have delivered myself into the hands of
justice. For thee--oh, what would I not do for thee! Rosabella, I
wait but to hear one syllable from your lips; speak but a decisive
yes or no, and all is ended. Rosabella, dost thou love me still?
And still she answered not; but she threw upon him a look innocent
and tender as ever beamed from the eye of an angel, and that look
betrayed but too plainly that the miscreant was still master of her
heart. She turned from him hastily, threw herself into Camilla's
arms, and exclaimed, "God forgive you, man, for torturing me so
The Doge had by this time recovered from his stupor. He started
from his chair, threats flashed from his eyes, and his lips trembled
with passion. He rushed towards Abellino; but the senators threw
themselves in his passage, and held him back by force. In the
meanwhile the bravo advanced towards him with the most insolent
composure, and requested him to calm his agitation.
"Doge of Venice," said he, "will you keep your promise? That you
gave it to me, these noble lords and ladies can testify."
Andreas.--Monster! miscreant! Oh! how artfully has this plan been
laid to ensnare me! Tell me, Venetians, to SUCH a creditor am I
obliged to discharge my fearful debt? Long has he been playing a
deceitful bloody part; the bravest of our citizens have fallen
beneath his dagger, and it was the price of their blood which has
enabled him to act the nobleman in Venice. Then comes he to me in
disguise of a man of honour, seduces the heart of my unfortunate
Rosabella, obtains my promise by an artful trick, and now claims the
maiden for his bride, in the hope that the husband of the Doge's
niece will easily obtain an absolution for his crimes. Tell me,
Venetians, ought I to keep my word with this miscreant?
All the Senators.--No, no, by no means.
Abellino (with solemnity).--If you have once pledged your word, you
ought to keep it, though given to the Prince of Darkness. Oh, fie,
fie! Abellino, how shamefully hast thou been deceived in thy
reckoning. I thought I had to do with men of honour. Oh! how
grossly have I been mistaken. (In a terrible voice.)--Once again,
and for the last time, I ask you, Doge of Venice, wilt thou break
thy princely word?
Andreas (in the tone of authority).--Give up your arms.
Abellino.--And you will really withhold from me my just reward?
Shall it be in vain that I delivered Abellino into your power?
Andreas.--It was to the brave Flodoardo that I promised Rosabella.
I never entered into any engagement with the murderer Abellino. Let
Flodoardo claim my niece, and she is his; but Abellino can have no
claim to her. Again I say lay down your arms.
Abellino (laughing wildly).--The murderer Abellino, say you? Ho!
ho! Be it your care to keep your own promises, and trouble not
yourself about my murders, they are MY affair, and I warrant I shall
find a word or two to say in defence of them, when the judgment day
Gonzaga (to the Doge).--What dreadful blasphemy.
Abellino.--Oh, good Lord Cardinal, intercede in my behalf, you know
me well; I have always acted by you like a man of honour, that at
least you cannot deny. Say a word in my favour, then, good Lord
Gonzaga (angrily, and with imperious dignity).--Address not thyself
to ME, miscreant. What canst thou and I have to do together?
Venerable Andreas, delay no longer; let the guards be called in.
Abellino.--What? Is there then no hope for me? Does no one feel
compassion for the wretched Abellino? What! NO ONE?--(a pause)--All
are silent?--ALL! 'Tis enough. Then my fate is decided--call in
Rosabella (with a scream of agony, springing forward, and falling at
the feet of the Doge).--Mercy, mercy! Pardon him--pardon ABELLINO!
Abellino (in rapture).--Sayest thou so? Ho! ho! then an angel prays
for Abellino in his last moments.
Rosabella (clasping the Doge's knees).--Have mercy on him, my
friend, my father, he is a sinner; but leave him to the justice of
Heaven. He is a sinner, but oh, Rosabella loves him still.
Andreas (pushing her away with indignation).--Away, unworthy girl;
Abellino folded his arms, gazed with eagerness on what was passing,
and tears gushed into his brilliant eyes. Rosabella caught the
Doge's hand, as he turned to leave her, kissed it twice, and said,
"If you have no mercy on HIM, then have none on ME. The sentence
which you pass on Abellino will be mine; 'tis for my own life that I
plead as well as Abellino's. Father, dear father, reject not my
suit, but spare him."
Andreas (in an angry and decided tone).--Abellino dies.
Abellino.--And can you look on with dry eyes while that innocent
dove bleeds at your feet? Go, barbarian; you never loved Rosabella
as she deserved. Now she is yours no longer. She is mine, she is
He raised her from the ground, and pressed her pale lips against his
"Rosabella, thou art mine; death alone can part us. Thou lovest me
as I WOULD be loved; I am blest whate'er may happen, and can now set
fortune at defiance. To business, then."
He replaced Rosabella, who was almost fainting, on the bosom of
Camilla, then advanced into the middle of the chamber, and addressed
the assembly with an undaunted air -
"Venetians, you are determined to deliver me up to the axe of
justice; there is for me no hope of mercy. 'Tis well, act as you
please; but ere you sit in judgment over ME, signors, I shall take
the liberty of passing sentence upon some few of YOU. Now mark me,
you see in me the murderer of Conari, the murderer of Paolo
Manfrone, the murderer of Lomellino. I deny it not. But would you
know the illustrious persons who paid me for the use of my dagger?"
With these words he put a whistle to his lips, sounded it, and
instantly the doors flew open, the guards rushed in, and ere they
had time to recollect themselves, the chief conspirators were in
custody, and disarmed.
"Guard them well," said Abellino, in a terrible voice to the
sentinels; "you have your orders. Noble Venetians, look on these
villains; it is to them that you are indebted for the loss of your
three citizens. I accuse of those murders one, two, three, four,
and my good Lord Cardinal there has the honour to be the fifth."
Motionless and bewildered stood the accused; tale-telling confusion
spoke in every feature that the charge was true, and no one was bold
enough to contradict Abellino.
"What can all this mean?" asked the senators of each other, in the
utmost surprise and confusion.
"This is all a shameful artifice," the Cardinal at length contrived
to say; "the villain, perceiving that he has no chance of escaping
punishment, is willing, out of mere resentment, to involve us in his
Contarino (recovering himself ).--In the wickedness of his life he
has surpassed all former miscreants, and now he is trying to surpass
them in the wickedness of his death.
Abellino (with majesty).--Be silent. I know your whole plot, have
seen your list of proscriptions, am well informed of your whole
arrangement, and at the moment that I speak to you the officers of
justice are employed, by my orders, in seizing the gentlemen with
the white ribbons round their arms, who this very night intended to
overturn Venice. Be silent, for defence were vain.
Andreas (in astonishment)--Abellino, what is the meaning of all
Abellino.--Neither more nor less than that Abellino has discovered
and defeated a conspiracy against the constitution of Venice and the
life of its Doge! The bravo, in return for your kind intention of
sending him to destruction in a few hours, has preserved you from
Vitalba (to the accused).--Noble Venetians, you are silent under
this heavy charge.
Abellino.--They are wise, for no defence can now avail them. Their
troops are already disarmed, and lodged in separate dungeons of the
State prison; visit them there, and you will learn more. You now
understand probably that I did not order the doors of this saloon to
be guarded for the purpose of seizing the terrible bravo Abellino,
but of taking those heroes into secure custody.
And now, Venetians, compare together YOUR conduct and MINE. At the
hazard of my life have I preserved the State from ruin. Disguised
as a bravo, I dared to enter the assembly of those ruthless
villains, whose daggers laid Venice waste. I have endured for your
sakes storm, and rain, and frost, and heat; I have watched for your
safety while you were sleeping. Venice owes to my care her
constitution and your lives; and yet are my services deserving of no
reward? All this have I done for Rosabella of Corfu, and yet will
you withhold from me my promised bride? I have saved you from
death, have saved the honour of your wives, and the throats of your
innocent children from the knife of the assassin. Men! men! and yet
will you send me to the scaffold?
Look on this list! See how many among you would have bled this
night, had it not been for Abellino, and see where the miscreants
stand by whom you would have bled! Read you not in every feature
that they are already condemned by heaven and their own conscience?
Does a single mouth unclose itself in exculpation? Does a single
movement of the head give the lie to my charge? Yet the truth of
what I have advanced shall be made still more evident.
He turned himself to the conspirators
"Mark me!" said he, "the first among you who acknowledges the truth
shall receive a free pardon. I swear it, I, the bravo Abellino!"
The conspirators remained silent. Suddenly Memmo started forward
and threw himself trembling at the Doge's feet.
"Venetians," he exclaimed, "Abellino has told you true."
"'Tis false, 'tis false!" exclaimed the accused altogether.
"Silence!" cried Abellino, in a voice of thunder, while the
indignation which flamed in every feature struck terror into his
hearers: "Silence, I say, and hear me, or rather hear the ghosts of
your victims. Appear, appear!" cried this dreadful man, in a tone
still louder: "'Tis time!"
Again he sounded his whistle. The folding doors were thrown open,
and there stood the Doge's much lamented friends--Conari, Lomellino,
"We are betrayed!" shouted Contarino, who drew out a concealed
dagger, and plunged it in his bosom up to the very hilt.
And now what a scene of rapture followed. Tears streamed down the
silver beard of Andreas, as he rushed into the arms of his long-lost
companions; tears bedewed the cheeks of the venerable triumvirate,
as they once more clasped the knees of their prince, their friend,
their brother. These excellent men, these heroes, never had Andreas
hoped to meet them again till they should meet in heaven; and
Andreas blessed heaven for permitting him to meet them once more on
earth. These four men, who had valued each other in the first dawn
of YOUTH, who had fought by each other's sides in MANHOOD, were now
assembled in AGE, and valued each other more than ever. The
spectators gazed with universal interest on the scene before them,
and the good old senators mingled tears of joy with those shed by
the re-united companions. In the happy delirium of this moment,
nothing but Andreas and his friends were attended to; no one was
aware that the conspirators and the self-murderer Contarino were
removed by the guards from the saloon; no one but Camilla observed
Rosabella, who threw herself sobbing on the bosom of the handsome
bravo, and repeated a thousand times, "Abellino, then, is not a
At length they began to recollect themselves they looked round them-
-and the first words which broke from every lip were--"Hail, saviour
of Venice!"--The roof rung with the name of Abellino, and unnumbered
blessings accompanied the name.
That very Abellino, who not an hour before had been doomed to the
scaffold by the whole assembly, now stood calm and dignified as a
god before the adoring spectators; and now he viewed with
complacency the men whose lives he had saved, and now his eye dwelt
with rapture on the woman whose love was the reward of all his
"Abellino!" said Andreas advancing to the bravo, and extending his
hand towards him.
"I am not Abellino," replied he, smiling, while he pressed the
Doge's hand respectfully to his lips "neither am I Flodoardo of
Florence. I am by birth a Neapolitan, and by name Rosalvo. The
death of my inveterate enemy the Prince of Monaldeschi makes it no
longer necessary to conceal who I really am."
"Monaldeschi?" repeated Andreas, with a look of anxiety.
"Fear not," continued Rosalvo; "Monaldeschi, it is true, fell by my
hand, but fell in honourable combat. The blood which stained his
sword flowed from my veins, and in his last moments conscience
asserted her empire in his bosom. He died not till he had written
in his tablets the most positive declaration of my innocence as to
the crimes with which his hatred had contrived to blacken me; and he
also instructed me by what means I might obtain at Naples the
restoration of my forfeited estates and the re-establishment of my
injured honour. Those means have been already efficacious, and all
Naples is by this time informed of the arts by which Monaldeschi
procured my banishment, and of the many plots which he laid for my
destruction; plots, which made it necessary for me to drop my own
character, and never to appear but in disguise. After various
wanderings chance led me to Venice. My appearance was so much
altered, that I dreaded not discovery, but I dreaded (and with
reason) perishing in your streets with hunger. In this situation
accident brought me acquainted with the banditti, by whom Venice was
then infested. I willingly united myself to their society, partly
with a view of purifying the Republic from the presence of these
wretches, and partly in the hope of discovering through them the
more illustrious villains by whom their daggers were employed. I
was successful. I delivered the banditti up to justice, and stabbed
their captain in Rosabella's sight. I was now the only bravo in
Venice. Every scoundrel was obliged to have recourse to me. I
discovered the plans of the conspirators, and now you know them
also. I found that the deaths of the Doge's three friends had been
determined on; and in order to obtain full confidence with the
confederates, it was necessary to persuade them that these men had
fallen beneath my dagger. No sooner had my plan been formed than I
imparted it to Lomellino. He, and he only, was my confidant in this
business. He presented me to the Doge as the son of a deceased
friend; he assisted me with his advice; he furnished me with keys to
those doors to the public gardens, which none were permitted to pass
through except Andreas and his particular friends, and which
frequently enabled me to elude pursuit; he showed me several private
passages in the palace by which I could penetrate unobserved even
into the Doge's very bed-chamber. When the time for his
disappearance arrived, he not only readily consented to lie
concealed in a retreat known only to ourselves, but was also the
means of inducing Manfrone and Conari to join him in his retirement,
till the fortunate issue of this day's adventure permitted me to set
them once more at liberty. The banditti exist no longer; the
conspirators are in chains; my plans are accomplished; and now,
Venetians, if you still think him deserving of it, here stands the
bravo Abellino, and you may lead him to the scaffold when you will."
"To the scaffold!" exclaimed at once the Doge, the senators, and the
whole crowd of nobility; and every one burst into enthusiastic
praises of the dauntless Neapolitan.
"Oh, Abellino," exclaimed Andreas, while he wiped away a tear, "I
would gladly give my ducal bonnet to be such a bravo as thou hast
been. 'Doge,' did thou once say to me, 'thou and I are the two
greatest men in Venice,' but oh, how much greater is the bravo than
the Doge! Rosabella is that jewel, than which I have nothing in the
world more precious; Rosabella is dearer to me than an emperor's
crown; Rosabella is thine."
"Abellino," said Rosabella, and extended her hand to the handsome
"Triumph!" cried he, "Rosabella is the Bravo's Bride," and he
clasped the blushing maid to his bosom.
And now it would not be at all amiss to make Count Rosalvo sit down
quietly between the good old Doge and his lovely niece; and then
cause him to relate the motive of Monaldeschi's hatred, in what
manner he lost Valeria, what crimes were imputed to him, and how he
escaped from the assassins sent in pursuit of him by his enemy; how
he had long wandered from place to place, and how he had at length
learned, during his abode in Bohemia with a gang of gipsies, such
means of disguising his features as enabled him to defy the keenest
penetration to discover in the beggar Abellino the once admired
Count Rosalvo; how in this disguise he had returned to Italy; and
how Lomellino, having ascertained that he was universally believed
at Naples to have long since perished by shipwreck, and therefore
that neither the officers of the Inquisition, nor the assassins of
his enemies were likely to trouble themselves any more about him, he
had ventured to resume, with some slight alterations, his own
appearance at Venice; how the arrival of Monaldeschi had obliged him
to conceal himself, till an opportunity offered of presenting
himself to the Prince when unattended, and of demanding satisfaction
for his injuries; how he had been himself wounded in several places
by his antagonist, though the combat finally terminated in his
favour; how he had resolved to make use of Monaldeschi's death to
terrify Andreas still further, and of Parozzi's conspiracy to obtain
Rosabella's hand of the Doge; how he had trembled lest the heart of
his mistress should have been only captivated by the romantic
appearance of the adventurer Flodoardo, and have rejected him when
known to be the bravo Abellino; how he had resolved to make use of
the terror inspired by the assassin to put her love to the severest
trial; and how, had she failed in that trial, he had determined to
renounce the inconstant maid for ever; with many other HOWS, WHYS,
and WHEREFORES, which, not being explained, will, I doubt, leave
much of this tale involved in mystery: but before I begin Rosalvo's
history, I must ask two questions--First--do my readers like the
manner in which I relate adventures?
Secondly--If my readers DO like my manner of relating adventures,
can I employ my time better than in relating them?
When these questions are answered, I may probably resume my pen. In
the meanwhile, gentlemen and ladies, good-night, and pleasant dreams
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