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cap, in habitual but unembarrassed respect, before presence was observed.
"Ha! thou here, Antonio!" exclaimed the senator, when their eyes met.
Why this visit?"
"Hath the calendar no saint-the fisherman no patron? I suppose the sirocco hath been tossing the waters of the bay, and thy nets are empty.-Hold! thou art my foster-brother, and thou must not want."
The fisherman drew back with dignity, refusing the gift simply, but decidedly, by the act.
"Signore, we have lived from childhood to old age since we drew our milk from the same breast; in all that time, have you ever known me a beggar?"
"Thou art not wont to ask these boons, Antonio, it is true; but age conquers our pride with our strength. If it be not sequins that thou seekust, what would'st thou?”
"There are other wants than those of the body Signore, and other sufferings beside hunger."
The countenance of the senator lowered. He cast a sharp glance at his foster-brother, and ere he answered he closed the door which communicated with the outer chamber.
"Thy words forebode disaffection, as of wont. Thou art accustomed to cominent on measures and interests that are beyond thy limited reason, and thou knowest that thy opinions have already drawn displeasure on thee. The ignorant and the low are, to the state, as children, whose duty it is to obey and not to cavil.-Thy errand?"
"I am not the man you think me, Signore. I am used to poverty and want, and little satisfies my wishes. The senate is my master, and as such I honor it; but a fisherman hath his feelings as well as the doge!"
Again! These feelings of thine, Antonio, are
most exacting. Thou namest them on all occasions as if they were the engrossing concerns of life." "Signore, are they not to me? Though I think mostly of my own concerns, still I can have a thought for the distress of those I honor. When the beautiful and youthful lady, your eccellenza's daughter, was called away to the company of the saints, I felt the blow as if it had been the death of my own child; and it has pleased God, as you very well know, Signore, not to leave me unacquainted with the anguish of such a loss."
"Thou art a good fellow, Antonio," returned the senator, covertly removing the moisture from his eyes; "an honest and a proud man, for thy con
She, from whom we both drew our first nourishment, Signore, often told me that, next to my own kin, it was my duty to love the noble race she had helped to support. I make no merit of natural feeling, which is a gift from Heaven, and the greater is the reason that the state should not deal lightly with such affections."
"Once more the state!-Name thy errand."
"Your eccellenza knows the history of my humble life. I need not tell you, Signore, of the sons which God, by the intercession of the Vugin and blessed St. Anthony, was pleased to bestow on me, or of the manner in which he hath seen proper to take them, one by one, away."
"Thou hast known sorrow, poor Antonio; I well remember thou hast suffered, too."
"Signore, I have. The deaths of five manly and honest sons is a blow to bring a groan from a rock. But I have known how to bless God, and be thankful!"
Worthy fisherman, the doge himself might envy this resignation. It is often easier to endure the loss than the life of a child, Antonio!”
"Signore, no boy of mine ever caused me grief, but the hour in which he died. And even then," the old man turned aside, to conceal the working of his features-"I struggled to remember, from how much pain, and toil, and suffering they were removed, to enjoy a more blessed state."
The lip of the Signor Gradenigo quivered, and he moved to and fro with a quicker step.
"I think, Antonio," he said, "I think, honest Antonio, I had masses said for the souls of them all?” "Signore, you had; St. Anthony remember the kindness in your own extremity! I was wrong in saying that the youths never gave me sorrow but in dying, for there is a pain the rich cannot know, in being too poor to buy a prayer for a dead child!” "Wilt thou have more masses? shall never want a voice with the ease of his soul!"
Son of thine saints, for the
"I thank you, eccellenza, but I have faith in what has been done, and, more than all, in the mercy of God. My errand now is in behalf of the living." The sympathy of the senator was suddenly checked, and he already listened with a doubting and suspicious air.
"Thy errand?" he simply repeated.
"Is to beg your interest, Signore, to obtain the release of my grandson from the galleys. They have seized the lad in his fourteenth year, and condemned him to the wars with the Infidels, without thought of his tender years, without thought of evil example, without thought of my age and loneliness, and without justice; for his father died in the last battle given to the Turk."
As he ceased, the fisherman riveted his look on the marble countenance of his auditor, wistfully en deavoring to trace the effect of his words. But au there was cold, unanswering, and void of human sympathy. The soulless, practised, and specious
reasoning of the state, had long since deadened all feeling in the senator, on any subject that touched an interest so vital as the maritime power of the republic. He saw the hazard of innovation in the slightest approach to interests so delicate, and his mind was drilled by policy into an apathy that no charity could disturb, when there was question of the right of St. Mark to the services of his people. "I would thou hadst come to beg masses, or gold, or aught but this, Antonio!" he answered, after a moment of delay. "Thou hast had the company of the boy, if I remember, from his birth, already?"
"Signore, I have had that satisfaction, for he was an orphan born; and I would wish to have it until the child is fit to go into the world, armed with an honesty and faith that shall keep him from harm. Were my own brave son here, he would ask no other fortune for the lad, than such counsel and aid as a poor man has a right to bestow on his own flesh and blood."
"He fareth no worse than others; and thou knowest that the republic hath need of every arm." "Eccellenza, I saw the Signor Giacomo land from his gondola, as I entered the palace."
"Out upon thee, fellow! dost thou make no distinction between the son of a fisherman, one trained to the oar and toil, and the heir of an ancient house? Go to, presuming man, and remember thy condition, and the difference that God hath made between our children."
"Mine never gave me sorrow but the hour in which they died," said the fisherman, uttering a severe but mild reproof.
The Signor Gradenigo felt the sting of this retort, which in no degree aided the cause of his indiscreet foster-brother. After pacing the room in agitation
for some time, he so far conquered his resentment, as to answer more mildly, as became his rank.
"Antonio," he said, "thy disposition and boldness are not strangers to me-If thou would'st have masses for the dead, or gold for the living, they are thine; but in asking for my interest with the general of the galleys, thou askest that which, at a moment so critical, could not be yielded to the son of the doge, were the doge-"
"A fisherman," continued Antonio, observing that he hesitated-" Signore, adieu; I would not part in anger with my foster-brother, and I pray the saints to bless you and your house. May you never know the grief of losing a child by a fate far worse than death-that of destruction by vice."
As Antonio ceased, he made his reverence and departed by the way he had entered. He retired unnoticed, for the senator averted his eyes, with a secret consciousness of the force of what the other, in his simplicity, had uttered; and it was some time before the latter knew he was alone. Another step, however, soon diverted his attention. The door reopened, and a menial appeared. He announced that one without sought a private audience.
"Let him enter," answered the ready senator, smoothing his features to the customary cautious and distrustful expression.
The servant withdrew, when one masked, and wearing a cloak, quickly entered the room. When the latter instrument of disguise was thrown upon an arm, and the visor was removed, the form and face of the dreaded Jacopo became visible.