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dered to think what must become of beauty of the scene with no more conher if Tonelli should die. It was not sciousness than a bird ; but the Paronpossible, thanks to God! that he should sina had learnt from her romantic pomarry.
ets and novelists to be complimentary The signora herself seldom cared to to prospects, and her heart gurgled out go out, for the reason that it was too in rapturous praises of this. The uncold in winter and too hot in summer. wonted freedom exhilarated her ; there In the one season she clung all day to was intoxication in the encounter of her wadded arm-chair, with her scaldino faces on the promenade, in the dazzle in her lap; and in the other season she and glimmer of the lights, and even in found it a sufficient diversion to sit in the the music of the Austrian band, playing great hall of the palace, and be fanned in the Piazza, as it came purified to her by the salt breeze that came from patriotic ear by the distance. There the Adriatic through the vine-garlanded were none but Italians upon the Molo, gallery. But besides this habitual in and one might walk there without so clemency of the weather, which forbade much as touching an officer with the out-door exercise nearly the whole year, hem of one's garment; and, a little it was a displeasure to walk in Venice later, when the band ceased playing, on account of the stairways of the she should go with the other Italians bridges; and the signora much pre- and possess the Piazza for one blessed ferred to wait till they went to the coun hour. In the mean time, the Paronsina try in the autumn, when she always had a sharp little tongue; and, after she rode to take the air. The exceptions had flattered the landscape, and had, to her custom were formed by those af- from her true heart, once for all, saluted ter-dinner promenades which she some the promenaders as brothers and sisters times made on holidays, in summer. in Italy, she did not mind making fun Then she put on her richest black, and of their peculiarities of dress and perthe Paronsina dressed herself in her son. She was signally sarcastic upon best, and they both went to walk on the such ladies as Tonelli chanced to adMolo, before the pillars of the lion and mire, and often so stung him with her the saint, under the escort of Tonelli. jests, that he was glad when Pennellini
It often happened that, at the hour of appeared, as he always did exactly at their arrival on the Molo, the moon was nine o'clock, and joined the ladies in coming up over the low bank of the their promenade, asking and answering Lido in the east, and all that prospect of all those questions of ceremony which ship-bordered quay, island, and lagoon, form Venetian greeting. He was a which, at its worst, is everything that youth of the most methodical exactness heart can wish, was then at its best, in his whole life, and could no more and far beyond words to paint. On the have arrived on the Molo a moment beright stretched the long Giudecca, with fore or after nine than the bronze giants the domes and towers of its Palladian
on the clock-tower could have hastened church, and the swelling foliage of its or lingered in striking the hour. Nagardens, and its line of warehouses ture, which had made him thus puncpainted pink, as if even Business, grate tual and precise, gave him also good ful to be tolerated amid such lovely looks, and a most amiable kindness of scenes, had striven to adorn herself. heart. The Paronsina cared nothing In front lay San Giorgio, picturesque at all for him in his quality of handwith its church, and pathetic with its some young fellow; but she prized political prisons ; and, farther away to him as an acquaintance whom she the east again, the gloomy mass of the might salute, and be saluted by, in a madhouse at San Servolo, and then city where her grandfather's isolation the slender campanili of the Armenian kept her strange to nearly all the faces Convent rose over the gleaming and she saw. Sometimes her evenings on tremulous water. Tonelli took in the the Molo wasted away without the ex
change of a word save with Tonelli, for the dreamy pleasure of the scene, or her mother seldom talked; and then it even to turn from the fine impersonal was quite possible her teasing was pain which the presence of the Austrigreater than his patience, and that he ans in the spectacle inflicted. All gave grew taciturn under her tongue. At an impression something like that of the such times she hailed Pennellini's ap- theatre, with the advantage that here pearance with a double delight ; for, if one was one's self part of the pantohe never joined in her attacks upon mime; and in those days, when nearly Tonelli's favorites, he always enjoyed everything but the puppet-shows was them, and politely applauded them. If forbidden to patriots, it was altogether his friend reproached him for this trea- the greatest enjoyment possible to the son, he made him every amend in an- Paronsina. The pensive charm of the swering, “She is jealous, Tonelli,". place imbued all the little company so a wily compliment which had the most deeply that they scarcely broke it, as intense effect in coming from lips ordi- they loitered slowly homeward through narily so sincere as his.
the deserted Merceria. When they The signora was weary of the prom- reached the Campo San Salvatore, on enade long before the Austrian music many a lovely summer's midnight, their ceased in the Piazza, and was very glad footsteps seemed to waken a nightinwhen it came time for them to leave gale whose cage hung from a lofty balthe Molo, and go and sit down to an cony there ; for suddenly, at their comice at the Caffè Florian. This was the ing, the bird broke into a wild and supreme hour to the Paronsina, the one thrilling song, that touched them all, heavenly excess of her restrained and and suffused the tender heart of the eventless life. All about her were scat- Paronsina with an inexpressible patered tranquil Italian idlers, listening to thos. the music of the strolling minstrels who Alas! she had so often returned thus had succeeded the military band; on from the Piazza, and no stealthy footeither hand sat her friends, and she had step had followed hers homeward with thus the image of that tender devotion love's persistence and diffidence! She without which a young girl is said not was young, she knew, and she thought to be perfectly happy; while the very not quite dull or hideous; but her spirit heart of adventure seemed to bound in was as sole in that melancholy city as her exchange of glances with a hand- if there were no youth but hers in the some foreigner at a neighboring table. world. And a little later than this, On the other side of the Piazza a few when she had her first affair, it did not officers still lingered at the Caffè originate in the Piazza, nor at all reQuadri ; and at the Specchi sundry spond to her expectations in a love-afgroups of citizens in their dark dress fair. In fact, it was altogether a busicontrasted well with these white uni- ness affair, and was managed chiefly forms; but, for the most part, the moon by Tonelli, who, having met a young and gas-jets shone upon the broad, doctor laurelled the year before at empty space of the Piazza, whose lone- Padua, had heard him express so punliness the presence of a few belated gent a curiosity to know what the promenaders only served to render con- Paronsina would have to her dower, spicuous. As the giants hammered that he perceived he must be madly in eleven upon the great bell, the Austrian love with her. So with the consent of sentinel under the Ducal Palace uttered the signora he had arranged a correa long, reverberating cry; and soon af- spondence between the young people ; ter a patrol of soldiers clanked across and all went on well at first, — the the Piazza, and passed with echoing letters from both passing through his feet through the arcade into the narrow bands. But his office was anything but and devious streets beyond. The young a sinecure, for while the Doctor was on girl found it hard to rend herself from his part of a cold temperament, and disposed to regard the affair merely coldness and uncertainty in his talk as a proper way of providing for the with Tonelli, that the latter saw whithnatural affections, the Paronsina cared er his thoughts were drifting, and went nothing for him personally, and only home with an indignant heart to the viewed him favorably as abstract matri- Paronsina, who joyfully sat down and mony, - as the means of escaping from wrote her first sincere letter to the the bondage of her girlhood and the Doctor, dismissing him. sad seclusion of her life into the world “ It is finished,” she said, "and I am outside her grandfather's house. So glad. After all, perhaps I don't want presently the correspondence fell al- to be any freer than I am; and while most wholly upon Tonelli, who worked I have you, Tonelli, I don't want a up to the point of betrothal with an ex- younger lover. Younger ? Diana ! pense of finesse and sentiment that you are in the flower of youth, and I would have made his fortune in diplo believe you will never wither. Did macy or poetry. What should he say that rogue of a Doctor, then, really give now? that stupid young Doctor would you the elixir of youth for writing him cry in a desperation, when Tonelli deli- those letters ? Tell me, Tonelli, as a cately reminded him that it was time true friend, how long have you been to answer the Paronsina's last note. forty-seven ? Ever since your fiftieth Say this, that, and the other, Tonelli birthday ? Listen! I have been more would answer, giving him the heads of afraid of losing you than my sweetest a proper letter, which the Doctor took Doctor. I thought you would be so down on square bits of paper, neatly much in love with love-making that you fashioned for writing prescriptions. would go break-neck and court some “And for God's sake, caro Dottore, put one in earnest on your own account !" a little warmth into it!” The poor Thus the Paronsina made a jest of Doctor would try, but it must always the loss she had sustained, but it was end in Tonelli's suggesting and almost not pleasant to her, except as it disdictating every sentence; and then the solved a tie which love had done nothletter, being carried to the Paronsina, ing to form. Her life seemed colder made her laugh : “This is very pretty, and vaguer after it, and the hour very my poor Tonelli, but it was never my far away when the handsome officers of onoratissimo dottore, who thought of her King (all good Venetians in those these tender compliments. Ah! that days called Victor Emanuel “ our allusion to my mouth and eyes could king ") should come to drive out the only have come from the heart of a Austrians, and marry their victims. great poet. It is yours, Tonelli, don't She scarcely enjoyed the prodigious deny it.” And Tonelli, taken in his privilege, offered her at this time in weak point of literature, could make consideration of her bereavement, of but a feeble pretence of disclaiming the going to the comedy, under Tonelli's child of his fancy, while the Paronsina, protection and along with Pennellini being in this reckless humor, more and his sister, while the poor signora than once responded to the Doctor in afterwards had real qualms of patriotism such fashion that in the end the inspi- concerning the breach of public duty ration of her altered and amended letter involved in this distraction of her was Tonelli's. Even after the betroth- daughter. She hoped that no one al, the love-making languished, and the had recognized her at the theatre, othDoctor was indecently patient of the erwise they might have a warning from late day fixed for the marriage by the the Venetian Committee. “Thou knownotary. In fact, the Doctor was very est,” she said to the Paronsina, “ that busy; and, as his practice grew, the they have even admonished the old dower of the Paronsina dwindled in his Conte Tradonico, who loves the comfancy, till one day he treated the whole edy better than his soul, and who used question of their marriage with such to go every evening? Thy aunt told me, and that the old rogue, when peo- love of him ; and he could tell stories ple ask him why he does n't go to the of very romantic adventure in which play, answers, "My mistress won't let he figured as hero, though nearly alIne. But fie! I am saying what young ways with moral effect. For example, girls ought not to hear." .
there was the countess from the mainAfter the affair with the Doctor, I say, land, — she merited the sad distinction life refused to return exactly to its old of being chief among those who had. expression, and I suppose that, if what vainly loved him, if you could believe presently happened was ever to happen, the poet who both inspired and sang it could not have occurred at a more her passion. When she took a palace appropriate time for a disaster, or at a in Venice, he had been summoned to time when its victims were less able hier on the pretended business of a to bear it. I do not know whether I secretary ; but when she presented herhave yet sufficiently indicated the fact, self with those idle accounts of her but the truth is, both the Paronsina factor and tenants on the main-land, and her mother had from long use her household expenses and her corcome to regard Tonelli as a kind of respondence with her advocate, Tonelli property of theirs, which had no right perceived at once that it was upon a in any way to alienate itself. They wholly different affair that she had would have felt an attempt of this sort desired to see him. She was a rich to be not only very absurd, but very widow of, forty, of a beauty preternatuwicked, in view of their affection for rally conserved and very great. “This him and dependence upon him ; and is no place for thee, Tonelli mine," the while the Paronsina thanked God that secretary had said to himself, after a he would never marry, she had a deep week had passed, and he had underconviction that he ought not to marry, stood all the wickedness of that uneven if he desired. It was at the same happy lady's intentions; "thou art not time perfectly natural, nay, filial, that too old, but thou art too wise, for these she should herself be ready to desert follies, though no saint"; and so had this old friend, whom she felt so strictly gathered up his personal effects, and bound to be faithful to her loneliness. secretly quitted the palace. But such As matters fell out, she had herself pri- was the countess's fury at his escape, marily to blame for Tonelli's loss; for, that she never paid him his week's in that interval of disgust and ennui salary; nor did she manifest the least following the Doctor's dismissal, she gratitude that Tonelli, out of regard for had suffered him to seek his own pleas- her son, a very honest young man, ure on holiday evenings ; and he had refused in any way to identify her, but, thus wandered alone to the Piazza, and to all except his closest friends, preso, one night, had seen a lady eating tended that he had passed those terrible an ice there, and fallen in love without eight days on a visit to the country vilmore ado than another man should lage where he was born. It showed drink a lemonade.
Pennellini's ignorance of life that lie This facility came of habit, for To- should laugh at this history; and I nelli had now been falling in love every prefer to treat it seriously, and to use other day for some forty years; and in it in explaining the precipitation with that time had broken the hearts of innu- which Tonelli's latest inamorata remerable women of all nations and class- turned his love.. es. The prettiest water-carriers in his Though, indeed, why should a lady neighborhood were in love with him, as of thirty, and from an obscure countheir mothers had been before them, and try town, hesitate to be enamored ladies of noble condition were believed of any eligible suitor who presented to cherish passions for him. Especially, himself in Venice? It is not my duty gay and beautiful foreigners, as they sat to enter upon a detail or summary of at Florian's, were taken with hopeless Carlotta's character or condition, or to do more than indicate that, while she prevent their early union, yet the hapdid not greatly excel in youth, good py conclusion was one to which Tonelli looks, or worldly gear, she had yet a urged himself after many secret and little property, and was of that soft bitter displeasures of spirit. I am perprettiness which is often more effective suaded that his love for Carlotta must than downright beauty. There was, have been most ardent and sincere, for indeed, something very charming about there was everything in his history and her; and, if she was a blonde, I have reason against marriage. He could not no reason to think she was as fickle as disown that he had hitherto led a joythe Venetian proverb paints that com- ous and careless life, or that he was plexion of woman; or that she had not exactly fitted for the modest delights, every quality which would have excused the discreet variety, of his present state, any one but Tonelli for thinking of — for his daily routine at the notary's, marrying her.
his dinner at the Bronze Horses or the After their first mute interview in the cook-shop, his hour at the caffè, his. Piazza, the two lost no time in mak- walks and excursions, for his holiday ing each other's acquaintance; but banquet with the Cenarotti, and his forthough the affair was vigorously con- mal promenade with the ladies of that ducted, no one could say that it was family upon the Molo. He had a good not perfectly in order. Tonelli on the employment with a salary that held him following day, which chanced to be above want, and afforded him the small Sunday, repaired to St. Mark's at the luxuries already named; and he had hour of the fashionable mass, where he fixed habits of work and of relaxation, gazed steadfastly at the lady during her which made both a blessing. He had orisons, and whence, at a discreet dis- his chosen circle of intimate equals, who tance, he followed her home to the regarded him for his good-heartedness house of the friends whom she was and wit and foibles; and-his little folvisiting. Somewhat to his discomfiture lowing of humble admirers, who looked at first, these proved to be old acquaint- upon him as a gifted man in disgrace ances of his; and when he came at with fortune. His friendships were as night to walk up and down under their old as they were secure and cordial; he balconies, as bound in true love to do, was established in the kindliness of all they made nothing of asking him in- who knew him; and he was flattered by doors, and presenting him to his lady. the dependence of the Paronsina and But the pair were not to be entirely her mother, even when it was troublebalked of their romance, and they still some to him. He had his past of senarranged stolen interviews at church, timent and war, his present of storywhere one furtively whispered word had telling and romance. He was quite the value of whole hours of unrestricted independent: his sins, if he had any, converse under the roof of their friends. began and ended in himself, for none They quite refused to take advantage was united to him so closely as to be of their anomalously easy relations, be- hurt by them; and he was far too imyond inquiry on his part as to the prudent a man to be taken for an examount of the lady's dower, and on hers ample by any one. He came and went as to the permanence of Tonelli's em- as he listed, he did this or that without ployment. He in due form had Pen- question. With no heart chosen yet nellini to his confidant, and Carlotta from the world of woman's love, he was unbosomed herself to her hostess; and still a young man, with hopes and affecthe affair was thus conducted with such tions as pliable as a boy's. He had, secrecy that not more than two thirds in a word, that reputation of good-felof Tonelli's acquaintance knew any- low which in Venice gives a man the thing about it when their engagement title of buon diavolo, but on which he was announced.
does not anywhere turn his back with. There were now no circumstances to impunity, either from his own conscious,