Page images
PDF
EPUB

the prince, and could not imagine why his expected visit should excite such general curiosity.

Thus far the story had been told much to Rosabella's credit; but at length the women began to envy her for her share in the adventure. The kiss which she had re. ceived from the Bravo afforded them an excellent oppor. tunity for throwing out a few malicious insinuations. “ She received a great service,” said one,

" and there's no saying how far the fair Rosabella, in the warmth of gratitude, may have been carried in rewarding her preserver !"

Very true," observed another ; " and for my part I think it not very likely that the fellow, being alone with a pretty girl whose life he had just saved, should have gone away contented with a single kiss !”—“ Come, come,” interrupted a third, “ do not let us judge uncharitably: the fact may be exactly as the lady relates it; though I

that gentlemen of Abellino's profession are not usually so pretty behaved, and that this is the first time I ever heard of a bravo in the platonics.”

In short, Rosabella and the horrible Abellino furnished the indolent and gossiping Venetians with conversation so long, that at length the doge's niece was universally known by the honourable appellation of “ The Bravo's Bride."

But no one gave himself more trouble about this affair than the doge, the good but proud Andreas. He immediately issued orders that every person of suspicious appearance should be watched more closely than ever; the night patroles were doubled ; and spies were employed daily in procuring intelligence of Abellino; and yet was all in vain. Abellino's retreat was inscrutable,

must say

CHAPTER VIII.

THE CONSPIRACY.

“ ConfusION !” exclaimed Parozzi, a Venetian nobleman of the first rank, as he paced his chamber with a disor

now

[ocr errors]

dered air on the morning after Matteo's murder : all curses light upon the villain's awkwardness! Yet it seems inconceivable to me, how all this should have fallen out so untowardly! Has any one discovered my designs ? I know well that Verrino loves Rosabella ; was it he who opposed this confounded Abellino to Matteo, and charged him to mar my plans against her ? That seems likely. And now, when the doge enquires who it was that em. ployed assassins to murder his niece, what other will be suspected than Parozzi, the discontented lover to whom Rosabella refused her hand, and whom Andreas hates past hope of reconciliation ? And now having once found the scent - Parozzi ! Parozzi ! should the crafty Andreas get an insight into your plans

should he learn that you have placed yourself at the head of a troop of hair-brained youths, -hair-brained may I well call children, who, in order to avoid the rod, set fire to their paternal mansion -Parozzi, should all this be revealed to Andreas

Here his reflections were interrupted. Memmo, Falieri, and Contarino entered the room, three

young

Venetians of the highest rank, Parozzi's inseparable companions, men depraved both in mind and body, spendthrifts, voluptuaries, well known to every usurer in Venice, and owing more than their paternal inheritance would ever admit of their paying.

Why, how is this, Parozzi ?” cried Memmo, as he entered (a wretch whose every feature exhibited marks of that libertinism to which his life had been dedicated): “I can scarce recover myself from my astonishment ! For Heaven's sake is this report true? Did you really hire Matteo to murder the doge's niece ?"

“I?” exclaimed Parozzi, and hastily turned away to hide the deadly paleness which overspread his countenance; “ why should you suppose that any such design-surely, Memmo, you are distracted.”

Memmo.“ By my soul, I speak but the plain matter of fact, Nay, only ask Falieri ; he can tell you more."

Falieri. Faith, it's certain, Parozzi, that Lomellino has declared to the doge as a truth beyond doubting, that

[ocr errors]

you, and none but you, were the person who instigated Matteo to attempt Rosabella's life.”

Parozzi. “ And I tell you again, that Lomellino knows not what he says."

Contarino. Well, well! only be upon your guard. Andreas is a terrible fellow to deal with.”

Falieri. He terrible ? I tell you, he is the most contemptible blockhead that the universe can furnish ! Courage. perhaps, he possesses, but of brains not an atom."

Contarino. “ And I tell you, that Andreas is as brave as a lion, and as crafty as a fox.”

Falieri. “ Psha ! psha ! Every thing would go to the rack and ruin, were it not for the wiser heads of his triumvirate of counsellors, whom Heaven confound ! Deprive him of Paolo Manfrone, Conari, and Lomellino, and the doge would stand there looking as foolish as a school-boy, who was going to be examined, and had forgotten his lesson."

Parozzi. “ Falieri is in the right.”
Memmo. “Quite, quite !”

Falieri. “ And then Andreas is as proud as a beggai grown rich and dressed in his first suit of embroidery! By St. Anthony, he is become quite insupportable! Do you not observe how he increases the number of his attendants daily ?”

Memmo." Nay, that is an undoubted fact.”

Contarino. “ And then to what an unbounded extent has he carried his influence ! The Signoria, the Quaranti, the Procurators of St. Mark, the Avocatori, all think and act exactly as it suits the doge's pleasure and convenience! Every soul of them depends as much on that one man's humour and caprices as puppets do, who nod or shake their wooden heads, just as the fellow behind the curtain thinks proper to move the wires.”

Parozzi. “ And yet the populace idolises this Andreas !”

Memmo. “ Ay, that is the worst part of the story.”

Falieri. “ But never credit me again if he does not ex. perience a reverse of fortune speedily."

Contarino. “ That might happen would we but set our

[ocr errors]

shoulders to the wheel stoutly. But what do we do? We pass our time in taverns, drink, and game, and throw ourselves headlong into such an ocean of debts, that the best swimmer must sink at last. Let us resolve to make the attempt: let us seek recruits on all sides ; let us labour with all our might and main; things must change; or, if they do not, take my ord for it, my friends, this world is no longer a world for us.

Memmo.“ Nay, it's a melancholy truth, that during the last half year my creditors have been ready to beat my

door down with knocking ; I am awakened out of my sleep in the morning, and lulled to rest again at night, with no other music than their eternal clamours."

Parozzi. “ Ha, ha, ha! As for me, I need not tell you how I am situated!”

Falieri. “ Had we been less extravagant, we might at this nioment have been sitting quietly in our palaces, and

but as things stand now

Parozzi. “Well ! -'as things stand now'- I verily believe that Falieri is going to moralise !”

Contarino. “ That is ever the way with old sinners, when they have lost the power to sin any longer: then they are ready enough to weep over their past life, and talk loudly about repentance and reformation. Now, for my own part, I am perfectly well satisfied with my wanderings from the common beaten paths of morality and prudence. They serve to convince me, that I am not one of your every-day men, who sit cramped up in the chimney-corner, lifeless and phlegmatic, and shudder, when they hear of any extraordinary occurrence. Nature evidently intended me to be a libertine, and I am determined to fulfil my destination. Why, if spirits like ours were not produced every now and then, the world would absolutely go fast asleep : but we rouse it by deranging the old order of things, force mankind to quicken their snail's pace, furnish a million of idlers with riddles which they puzzle their brains about, without being able to comprehend, infuse some few hundreds of new ideas into the heads of the great multitude, and, in short, are as useful to the world as tempests are, which dissipate those exhalations with which nature otherwise would poison herself.”

Falieri. Excellent sophistry, by my honour! Why, Contarino, ancient Rome has had an irreparable loss in not having numbered you among her orators: it is a pity, though, that there should be so little that's solid wrapt up in so many fine-sounding words.--Now learn, that while you, with this rare talent of eloquence, have been most unmercifully wearing out the patience of your good-natured hearers, Falieri has been in action! The Cardinal Gonzaga is discontented with the government: Heaven knows what Andreas has done to him to make him so vehemently his enemy; but, in short, Gonzaga now belongs to our party.” Parozzi (with astonishment and delight).

- Falieri, are you in your senses ? - The Cardinal Gonzaga ?”

Falieri. Is ours, and ours both body and soul. I confess I was first obliged to rhodomontade a good deal to him about our patriotism, our glorious designs, our love for freedom, and so forth; in short, Gonzaga is a hypocrite, and therefore is Gonzaga the fitter for us. Contarino (clasping Falieri's hand).

“ Bravo, my friend! Venice shall see a second edition of Catiline's conspiracy. Now then it is my turn to speak, for I have not been idle since we parted. In truth, I have as yet caught nothing, but I have made myself master of an allpowerful net, with which I doubt not to capture the best half of Venice. You all know the Marchioness Olympia ?”

Parozzi. Does not each of us keep a list of the handsomest women in the republic, and can we have forgotten number one ?”

Falieri. Olympia and Rosabella are the goddesses of Venice: our youths burn incense on no other altars.”

Contarino. “Olympia is my own.
Falieri. «How ?”
Parozzi. 66

Olympia ?” Contarino. “Why how now? Why stare ye, as had I prophesied to you that the skies were going to fall ? I tell you Olympia's heart is mine, and that I possess her entire and most intimate confidence. Our connection must

« PreviousContinue »