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remain a profound secret; but depend on it, whatever I wish, she wishes also, and you know she can make half the nobility in Venice dance to the sound of her pipe, let her play what tune she pleases."
Parozzi. “ Contarino, you are our master.”
Contarino. “ And you had not the least suspicion how powerful an ally I was labouring to procure for you?”
Parozzi. “I must blush for myself while I listen to you, since as yet I have done nothing. Yet this I must say in my excuse ; had Matteo, bribed by my gold, accomplished Rosabella's murder, the doge would have been robbed of that chain with which he holds the chief men in Venice attached to his government.
Andreas would have no merit were Rosabella once removed. The most illustrious families would care no longer for his friendship, were their hopes of a connection with him by means of his niece buried in her grave. Rosabella will one day be the doge's heiress.”
Memmo.“ All that I can do for you in this business is to provide you with pecuniary supplies. My old miserable uncle, whose whole property becomes mine at his death, has brimful coffers, and the old miser dies whenever I say the word.”
Falieri. “You have suffered him to live too long already.”
Memmo. . Why, I never have been able to make up my mind entirely to— You would scarcely believe it, friends, but at times I am so hypochondriac, that I could almost fancy I feel twinges of conscience.”
Contarino. Indeed! Then take my advice, go into a monastery.”
Memmo. “ Yes, truly, that would suit me to a hair !”
Falieri. “ Our first care must be to find out our old acquaintances, Matteo's companions; yet having hitherto always transacted business with them through their captain, I know not where they are to be met with.”
Parozzi. As soon as they are found, their first employment must be the removal of the doge's trio of advisers.”
Contarino. “ That were an excellent idea, if it were but
as easily done as said. Well, then, my friends, this prin. cipal point at least is decided. Either we will bury our debts under the ruins of the existing constitution of the republic, or make Andreas a gift of our heads towards strengthening the walls of the building. In either case we shall at least obtain quiet. Necessity, with her whip of serpents, has driven us to the very highest point of her rock, whence we must save ourselves by some act of extraordinary daring, or be precipitated, on the opposite side, into the abyss of shame and eternal oblivion.
The next point to be considered is, how we may best obtain supplies for our necessary expenses, and induce others to join with us in our plans. For this purpose we must use every artifice to secure in our interests the courtesans of the greatest celebrity in Venice. What we should be unable to effect by every power of persuasion, banditti by their daggers, and princes by their treasuries, can one of those Phrynes accomplish with a single look. Where the terrors of the scaffold are without effect, and the priest's exhortations are heard with coldness, a wanton kiss and a tender promise often perform wonders. The most vigilant fidelity drops to sleep on the voluptuous bosoms of these witches: the warmth of their kisses can thaw the lips of secrecy itself; and the bell which sounded the hour of assignation has often rang the knell of the most sacred principles and most steadfast resolutions.
But should you either fail to gain the mastery over the minds of these women, or fear to be yourselves entangled in the nets which you wish to spread for others, in these cases you must have recourse to the holy father-confessors. Flatter the pride of these insolent friars ; paint for them upon the blank leaf of futurity bishop's mitres, patriarchal missions, the hats of cardinals, and the keys of St. Peter; my life upon it, they will spring at the bait, and you will have them completely at your disposal. These hypocrites, who govern the consciences of the bigoted Venetians, hold man and woman, the noble and the mendicant, the doge and the gondolier, bound fast in the chains of superstition, by which they can lead them wheresoever it best suits their pleasure. It will save us tons of gold in gaining over proselytes and keeping their consciences quiet when gained, if we can but obtain the assistance of the confessors, whose blessings and curses pass with the multitude for current coin. Now then to work, comrades, and so farewell.”
SCARCELY had Abellino achieved the bloody deed, which employed every tongue in Venice, than he changed his dress and whole appearance with so much expedition and success as to prevent the slightest suspicion of his being Matteo's murderer. He quitted the gardens unquestioned, nor left the least trace which could lead to a discovery.
He arrived at Cinthia's dwelling. It was already evening. Cinthia opened the door, and Abellino entered the common apartment.
" Where are the rest ? said he, in a savage tone of voice, whose sound made Cinthia tremble.
“ They have been asleep,” she answered, “ since midday. Probably they mean to go out on some pursuit tonight.”
Abellino threw himself into a chair, and seemed to be lost in thought.
“ But why are you always so gloomy, Abellino,” said Cinthia, drawing near him : “ it's that which makes you so ugly. Prithee away with those frowns: they make your countenance look worse than nature made it."
Abellino gave no answer.
“ Really you are enough to frighten a body! Come now, let us be friends, Abellino : I begin not to dislike you, and to endure your appearance; and I don't know but
“ Go! wake the sleepers,” roared the Bravo.
“ The sleepers ? Psha ! let them sleep on, the stupid rogues. Surely you are not afraid to be alone with me ?
Mercy on me, one would think I looked as terrible as yourself. Do I? Nay, look on me, Abellino !”
Cinthia, to say the truth, was by no means an ill-looking girl ; her eyes were bright and expressive; her hair fell in shining ringlets over her bosom ; her lips were red and full, and she bowed them towards Abellino's ; but Abellino's were still sacred by the touch of Rosabella's cheek. He started from his seat, and removed (yet gently) Cinthia's hand, which rested on his shoulder.
“Wake the sleepers, my good girl," said he ; I must speak with them this moment.” Cinthia hesitated.
Nay, go !” said he in a fierce voice. Cinthia retired in silence; yet as she crossed the threshold, she stopped for an instant and menaced him with her finger.
Abellino strode through the chamber with hasty steps, his head reclining on his shoulder, his arms folded over his breast.
“ The first step is taken,” said he to himself; “ there is one moral monster the less on earth. I have committed no sin by this murder; I have but performed a sacred duty. Aid me, thou Great and Good, for arduous is the task before me. Ah ! should that task be gone through with success, and Rosabella be the reward of my labours.--Rosabella? What! shall the Doge's niece bestow on the outcast Abellino - Oh, madman that I am to hope it, never can I reach the goal of my wishes !
No! never was there frenzy to equal mine! To attach myself at first sight to yet Rosabella alone is capable of thus enchanting at first sight! Rosabella and Valeria ! To be beloved by two such women. Yet though it is impossible to attain, the striving to attain such an end is glorious ! Illusions so delightful will at least make me happy for a moment; and, alas ! the wretched Abellino sadly needs illusions that even for a moment will make him happy! Oh, did the world know what I gladly would accomplish, the world would both love and pity me!”
Cinthia returned : the four bravos followed her, yawning, grumbling, and still half asleep.
“ Come, come,
said Abellino; rouse yourselves, lads. Before I say any thing, be convinced that you are wide awake, for what I am going to tell you is so strange, that would scarce believe it in a dream."
They listened to him with an air of indifference and impatience.
“ Why, what's the matter now?” said Thomaso, while he stretched himself.
“ Neither more nor less than that our honest, hearty, brave Matteo is murdered !”
6 What! murdered ?” every one exclaimed, and gazed with looks of terror on the bearer of this unwelcome news; while Cinthia gave a loud scream, and clasping her hands together, sank almost breathless into a chair.
A general silence prevailed for some time.
" Murdered ?” at length repeated Thomaso ; whom?"
Baluzzo. “ Where?"
Abellino. “ In the gardens of Dolabella, where he was found bleeding at the feet of the doge's niece. Whether he fell by her hand, or that of one of her admirers, I can
- and by
Cinthia (weeping). “ Poor dear Matteo.”
Abellino. About this time to-morrow you will see his corse exhibited on the gibbet.”
Pietrino. “ What! did any one recognise him?"
Abellino. “ Yes, yes, there's no doubt about his trade, you may depend on't.”
Cinthia. “ The gibbet! Poor dear Matteo !”
Baluzzo. “ Confound the fellow; who would have thought of any thing happening so unlucky!"
Abellino. “ Why how now ? you seem to be quite over. come.”
Struzza. “ I cannot recover myself : surprise and terror have almost stupified me.”
Abellino. “ Indeed! By my life, when I heard the news I burst into laughter. Signor Matteo,' said 1, ! ! wish your worship joy of your safe arrival.”