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panile, were slumbering in the more mellow glow of the
Facing the wide area of the great square stood the quaint and venerable cathedral of San Marco. A temple of trophies, and one equally proclaiming the prowess and the piety of its founders, this remarkable structure presided over the other fixtures of the place, like a monument of the republic's antiquity and greatness. Its Saracenic architecture, the rows of precious but useless little columns that load its front, the low Asiatic domes which rest upon its walls in the repose of a thousand years, the rude and gaudy mosaics, and above all the captured horses of Corinth, which start from out the sombre mass in the glory of Grecian art, received from the solemn and appropriate light, a character of melancholy and mystery, that well comported with the thick recollections which crowd the mind as the eye gazes at this rare relick of the past.
As fit companions to this edifice the other peculiar ornaments of the place stood at hand. The base of the campanile lay in shadow, but a hundred feet of its grey summit received the full rays of the moon along its eastern face. The masts destined to bear the conquered ensigns of Candia, Constantinople, and the Morea, cut the air by its side, in dark and fairy lines, while at the extremity of the smaller square, and near the margin of the sea, the forms of the winged lion and the patron saint of the city, each on his column of African granite, were distinctly traced against the back ground of the azure sky.
It was near the base of the former of these massive blocks of stone, that one stood who seemed to gaze at the animated and striking scene, with the listlessness and indifference of satiety. A multitude, some in masques and others careless of being known, had poured along the quay into the piazetta, on their way to the principal square, while this individual had scarce turned a glance aside, or changed a
limb in weariness. His attitude was that of patient, practised and obedient waiting on another's pleasure. With folded arms, a body poised on one leg, and a vacant though goodhumoured eye, he appeared to attend some beck of authority ere he quitted the spot. A silken jacket, in whose tissue flowers of the gayest colours were interwoven, the falling collar of scarlet, the bright velvet cap with armorial bearings embroidered on its front, proclaimed him to be a gondolier in private service.
Wearied at length with the antics of a distant group of tumblers, whose pile of human bodies had for a time arrested his look, this individual turned away, and faced the light air from the water. Recognition and pleasure shot into his countenance, and in a moment his arms were inter-, locked with those of a swarthy mariner, who wore the loose attire and Phrygian cap of men of his calling. The gondolier was the first to speak, the words flowing from him in the soft accents of his native islands.
"Is it thou, Stefano? They said thou hadst fallen into the gripe of the devils of Barbary, and that thou wast planting flowers for an infidel with thy hands, and watering them with thy tears!"
The answer was in the harsher dialect of Calabria, and it was given with the rough familiarity of a seaman.
"La Bella Sorrentina is no housekeeper of a curato! She is not a damsel to take a siesta with a Tunisian rover prowling about in her neighbourhood. Hadst ever been beyond the Lido, thou wouldst have known the difference between chasing the felucca and catching her."
"Kneel down, and thank San Teodoro for his care. There was much praying on thy decks that hour, caro Stefano, though none is bolder among the mountains of Calabria when thy felucca is once safely drawn upon the beach!"
The mariner cast a half-comic, half-serious glance upward at the image of the patron saint, ere he replied.
There was more need of the wings of thy lion than of the favour of thy saint. I never come further north for aid than San Gennaro, even when it blows a hurricane."
"So much the worse for thee, caro, since the good bishop is better at stopping the lava than at quieting the winds. But there was danger, then, of losing the felucca and her brave people among the Turks ?"
"There was, in truth, a Tunis-man prowling about, between Stromboli and Sicily; but, Ali di San Michele! he might better have chased the cloud above the volcano, than run after the felucca in a sirocco !"
"Thou wast chicken-hearted, Stephano?"
"I!—I was more like thy lion, here, with some small additions of chains and muzzles."
"As was seen by thy felucca's speed?"
"Cospetto! I wished myself a knight of San Giovanni a thousand times during the chase, and La Bella Sorrentina a brave Maltese galley, if it were only for the cause of Christian honour! The miscreant hung upon my quarter for the better part of three glasses! so near, that I could tell which of the knaves wore dirty cloth in his turban, and
which clean. It was a sore sight to a Christian, Stefano,
to see the right thus borne upon by an infidel."
"And thy feet warmed with the thought of the bastinado, caro mio ? "
"I have run too often barefoot over our Calabrian mountains, to tingle at the sole with every fancy of that
Every man has his weak spot, and I know thine to be dread of a Turk's arm. Thy native hills have their soft as well as their hard ground, but it is said the Tunisian chooses a board knotty as his own heart, when he amuses himself with the wailings of a Christian.'
"Well, the happiest of us all must take such as fortune brings. If my soles are to be shod with blows, the honest
priest of Sant' Agata will be cheated of a penitent. I have bargained with the good curato, that all such accidental calamities shall go in the general account of penance. But how fares the world of Venice?-and what dost thou among the canals at this season, to keep the flowers of thy jacket from wilting?"
To-day as yesterday, and to-morrow will be as to-day. I row the gondola from the Rialto to the Guidecca; from San Giorgio to San Marco; from San Marco to the Lido, and from the Lido home. There are no Tunis-men by the way to chill the heart or warm the feet."
Enough of friendship. And is there nothing stirring in the republic?-no young noble drowned, nor any Jew hanged?"
"Nothing of that much interest-except the calamity which befel Pietro. Thou rememberest Pietrillo? he who crossed into Dalmatia with thee once, as a supernumerary, the time he was suspected of having aided the young Frenchman in running away with a senator's daughter?"
"Do I remember the last famine? The rogue did nothing but eat maccaroni, and swallow the lachrymæ christi, which the Dalmatian count had on freight."
"Poverino! His gondola has been run down by an Ancona-man, who passed over the boat, as if it were a senator stepping on a fly."
So much for little fish coming into deep water."
"The honest fellow was crossing the Giudecca, with a stranger who had occasion to say his prayers at the Redentore, when the brig hit him in the canopy, and broke up the gondola as if it had been a bubble left by the Bucen
"The padrone should have been too generous to complain of Pietro's clumsiness, since it met with its own punishment."
"Madre di Dio! He went to sea that hour, or he might
be feeding the fishes of the Lagunes! There is not a gondolier in Venice who did not feel the wrong at his heart; and we know how to obtain justice for an insult, as well as
"Well, a gondola is mortal, as well as a felucca, and both have their time; better die by the prow of a brig, than fall into the gripe of a Turk.-How is thy young master, Gino? and is he likely to obtain his claims of the senate?"
He cools himself in the Giudecca in the morning; and if thou wouldst know what he does at evening, thou hast only to look among the nobles in the Broglio."
As the gondolier spoke, he glanced an eye aside, at a group of patrician rank, who paced the gloomy arcades which supported the superior walls of the doge's palace, a spot sacred, at times, to the uses of the privileged.
"I am no stranger to the habit thy Venetian nobles have of coming to that low colonnade at this hour, but I never before heard of their preferring the waters of the Giudecca for their baths."
"Were even the doge to throw himself out of a gondola, he must sink or swim, like a meaner christian. "Acqua dell' Adriatico! Was the young duca going to the Redentore, too, to say his prayers?"
He was coming back after having-but what matters it in what canal a young noble sighs away the night! We happened to be near when the Ancona-man performed his feat while Giorgio and I were boiling with rage at the awkwardness of the stranger, my master, who never had much taste or knowledge in gondolas, went into the water to save the young lady from sharing the fate of her uncle."
"Diavolo! This is the first syllable thou hast uttered concerning any young lady, or of the death of her uncle!”
"Thou wert thinking of thy Tunis-man, and hast forgotten. I must have told thee how near the beautiful sig