« 이전계속 »
suddenly from the eyes of men, and a mysterious message came to the Great Council that a seat was vacant in the chamber of the Inquisitiont
The accusation which now startled the member of the Council was this:
"Lot the State beware; the palace of Pesaro is very near to the palace of France!
"owe or The Contarini."
The Count Pesaro (for the inquisitor was none other) in a moment collected his thoughts. He had remarked the beautiful daughter of the embassador; he knew of the gallantries which filled the life of his son Antonio; he recognized the jealousy of the Contarini.
But in the members of the fearful court of Venice no tie was recognized but the tie which bound them to the mysterious authority of the State. The Count Pesaro knew well that the discovery of any secret intercourse with the palace of the embassador would be followed by the grave punishment of his son; he knew that any conspiracy with that son to shield him from the State would bring the forfeit of his life. Yet the Inquisitor said, "Let the spies be doubled!"
And the spies were doubled; but the father, morC watchful and wakeful than all, discovered that it was not one son only, but both, who held guilty communication with the servitors of the embassador's palace. There was little hope that it would long escapo the knowledge of the Council. But the Count anticipated their action, by. sacrificing the younger to the elder; the gondolier of Enrico was seized and brought to the chamber of torture.
The father could not stay the judgment which pronounced the exile of the son, and at night Enrico was arraigned before the three inquisitors: the masks concealed his judges; and the father penned the order by which he was conveyed, upon a galley of the State, to perpetual exile upon the island of Corfu.
The rigor of the watch was now relaxed, and Antonio, fired by the secret and almost hopeless passion which he had reason to believe was returned with equal fervor, renewed his communications in the proscribed quarter. A double danger, however, awaited him. The old and constant jealousy of France which existed in the Venetian councils had gained new force; all intercourse with her embassador was narrowly watched.
Enrico, moreover, distracted by tho failure of a forged accusation which had reacted to his own disadvantage, had found means to communicate with the scheming Fra Paolo. The suspicions of the Contarini family were secretly directed against the neglectful Antonio. His steps were dogged by the spies of a powerful and revengeful house. Accusations again found their way into the Lion's Mouth. Proofs were too plain and palpable to be rejected. The son of Pesaro had offended by disregarding engagements authorized and advised by the State. He had offended in projecting alliance with an alien; he had offended in holding secret communication with the household of a foreign embassador.
The offense was great, and the punishment imminent. An inquisitor who alleged excuses for the crimes of a relative was exposed to the charge of complicity. He who wore the crimson robe in the Council of the Inquisition was therefore silent. The mask, no less than the long and studied control which every member of the secret council exerted over his milder nature, concealed the struggle going on in the bosom of tho old Count Pesaro. The fellow-councilors had already seen the sacrifice of one son; they could not doubt his consent to that of the second. But the offense was now greater, and the punishment would be weightier.
Antonio was the last scion of the noble house of which the inquisitor was chief, and the father triumphed at length over the minister of State; yet none in the secret Council could perceive the triumph. None knew better than a participant in that mysterious power which ruled Venice by terror, how difficult would be any escape from its condemnation.
It was two hours past midnight, and the lights had gone out along the palace-windows of Venice. The Count Pesaro had come back from the chamber of the Council; but there were ears that caught the fall of his step as he landed at his palace door and passed to his apartment. Fra Paolo had spread the accusations which endangered the life of Antonio, and, still an inmate of the palace, he brooded over his schemes.
He knew the step of the Count; his quick car traced it to the accustomed door. Again the step seemed to him to retrace the corridor stealthily, and to turn toward the apartment of Antonio. The watchful priest rose and stole after him. The corridor was dark; but a glimmer of the moon, reflected from the canal, showed him the tall figure of the Count entering tho door of his son.
Paternal tenderness had not been characteristic of the father, and the unusual visit excited tho priestly curiosity. Gliding after, he placed himself by the door, and overheard—what few ever heard in those days in Venice—the great Inquisitor of State sink to the level of a man and of a father.
"My son," said the Count, after the first surprise of the sleeper was over, "you have offended against the State;" and he enumerated the charges which had come before the Inquisition."
"It is true," said Antonio.
"The State never forgets or forgives," said the Count.
"Never, when they have detected," said Antonio.
"They know all," said the father. "Who know ali?" asked Antonio earnestly. "The Council of Three." "You know it?"
The Count stooped to whisper in his ear.
Antonio started with terror: he knew of the popular rumor which attributed to his father great influence in the State, but never until then did the truth come home to him, that he was living under the very eye of one of that mysterious Council, whose orders mado even the Doge tremble.
"Already," pursued the Count, "they determine your punishment; it will be severe; how severe I can not tell: perhaps—"
"It may be worse, my son;" and the Count was again the father of his child, folding to his heart, perhaps for the last time, what was dearer to him now than the honor or the safety of the
But it was not for tearful sympathy only that the Count had made this midnight visit. There remained a last hope of escape. The arrest of Antonio might follow in a day, or in two. Meantime the barges of the State were subject to orders penned by cither member of the Council.
It was arranged that a State barge should be sent to receive Antonio upon the following night to convey him a captive to the Ducal Palace. As if to avoid observation, the barge should be ordered to pass by an unfrequented part of the city. The sbirri of the quarter should receive counterorders to permit no boat to pass tho canals. In the delay and altercation Antonio should make his way to a given place of refuge, where a swift gondola (he would know it by a crimson pennant at the bow) should await him, to transport the fugitive beyond the Lagoon.
His own prudence would command horses upon the Padua shore, and escape might bo secured. Further intercourse with the Count would be dangerous, and open to suspicion; and father and son bade adieu—it might be forever.
The priest slipped to his lair, in his corner of the wide Pesaro Palace; and the Count also went to such repose as belongs to those on whom rest the cares and the crimes of empire.
A day more only in Venice, for a young patrician wbosc gay life had made thirty years glide fast, was very short. There were many he feared to leave; and there was one he dared not leave. The passion, that grew with its pains, for the fair Blanche, had ripened into a tempest of love. The young stranger had yielded to its sway; and there lay already that bond between them which even Venetian honor scorned to undo.
In hurried words, but with the fever of his feelings spent on the letter, he wrote to Blanche. He told her of his danger, of the hopelessness of his stay, of the punishment that threatened. He claimed that sacrifice of her home which she had already made of her heart. Her oarsmen were her slaves. The Lagoon was not so wide as the distance which a day might place between them forever. He prayed her as she loved him, and by the oaths already plighted upon the Venetian waters, to meet him upon the further shore toward Padua. He asked the old token, from the window of the palace opposite, which had given him promise in days gone.
The keen eyes even of Fra Paolo did not detect the little crimson signal which hung on the following day from a window of the palace of the
embassador; but tho wily priest was not inactive. He plotted the seizure and ruin of Antonio, and the return of his protector Enrico. An accusation was drawn that day from the Lion's Mouth without tho chamber of the Inquisition, which carried fear into the midst of the Council.
"Let the Three beware !" said the accusation; "true men are banished from Venice, and the guilty escape. Enrico Pesaro languishes in Corfu; and Antonio (if traitorous counsels avail him) escapes this night.
"Let tho Council look well to the gondola with the crimson pennant, which at midnight crosses to the Padua shores!"
The inquisitors wore their masks; but there was doubt and distrust concealed under them.
"If treason be among us, it should be stayed speedily," said one.
And the rest said, "Amen!"
Suspicion fell naturally upon the councilor who wore the crimson robe; the doors were cautiously guarded; orders were given that none should pass or repass, were it the Doge himself, without a joint order of tho Three. A State barge was dispatched to keep watch upon the Lagoon; and the official of the Inquisition bore a special commission. The person of the offender was of little importance, provided it could be known through what channel he had been warned of the secret action of the Great Council. It was felt that if their secrecy were once gone, their mysterious power would-be at an end. The Count saw his danger, and trembled.
The lights (save one in the chamber where Fra Paolo watched) had gone out in the Pesaro Palace. The orders of the father were faithfully observed. The refuge was gained; and in tho gondola with the crimson pennant, with oarsmen who pressed lustily toward the Padua shore, Antonio breathed freely. Venice was left behind; but the signal of the opposite palace had not been unnoted, and Blanche would meet him and cheer his exile.
Half the Lagoon was passed, and the towers of St. Mark were sinking upon the level sea, when a bright light blazed up in their wake. It came nearer and nearer. Antonio grew fearful.
He bade the men pull lustily. Still, the strange boat drew nearer; and presently the fiery signal of St. Mark flamed upon the bow. It was a barge of the State. The oarsmen were palsied with terror.
A moment more and the barge was beside them; a masked figure, bearing the symbols of that dreadful power which none might resist and live, had entered the gondola. The commission he bore was such as none might refuse to obey.
The fugitive listened to the masked figure.
"To Antonio Pesaro—accused justly of secret dealings with the embassador of France, forgetful of his oaths and of his duty to the State, and condemned therefore to die—be it known, that the only hope of escape from a power which has an eye and ear in every comer of the Republie, rests now in revealing the name of that one, be he great or small, who has warned him of his danger and made known a secret resolve of the State."
Antonio hesitated; to refuse was death, and perhaps a torture which might compel his secret. On the other hand, the Count his father was high in power; it seemed scarce possible that harm could como nigh to one holding place in the Great Council itself. Blanche, too, had deserted her home, and periled life and character upon the chance of his escape. His death, or even his return, would make sure her ruin.
The masked figure presented to him a tablet, upon which he wrote, with a faltering hand, the name of his informant, "the Count Pesaro."
But the Great Council was as cautious in those days, as it was cruel. Antonio possessed a secret which was safe nowhere in Europe. His oarsmen were bound. The barge of Stato was turned toward Venice. The gondola trailed after; but Antonio was no longer within! The plash of a falling body, and a low cry of agony, were deadened by the brush of the oars, as the boat of St. Mark swept down toward the silenbeity.
Three days thereafter, the Doge and his privy council received a verbal message that a chair in the chamber of Inquisition was vacant, and there was needed a new wearer for the crimson robe.
But not for weeks did the patricians of Venice miss the stately Count Pesaro from his haunts at the Broglio and the tables of the Ridotto. And when they knew at length, from the closed windows of his palace, and his houseless servitors, that he was gone, they shook their heads mysteriously, but said never a word.
The wretched Fra Paolo, in urging his claim for the absent Enrico, gave token that he knew of the sin and shame of the Count of Pesaro. Such knowledge no private man might keep in the Venetian State and live. The poor priest was buried where no inscription might be written, arid no friend might mourn.
In those feeble days of Venice which went before the triumphant entry of Napoleon, when the Council of Three had themselves learned to tremble, and the Lion of St. Mark was humble, there came to Venice, from the island of Corfu, a palsied old man whose name was Enrico Pesaro, bringing with him an only son who was called Antonio.
The old man sought to gather such remnants of the ancient Pesaro estate as could be saved from the greedy hands of the government; and he purchased rich masses for the rest of the souls of the murdered father and brother.
He died when Venice died; leaving as a legacy to his son a broken estate, and the bruised heart with which ho had mourned the wrong done to his kindred. The boy Antonio had only mournful memories of the old Venice, where his family—once a family of honor, and of great deeds—was cut down; and the new Venice was a conquered city. .
In the train of the triumphant Army of Italy there came, after a few years, many whose fami
lies had been in times past banished and forgotten. An old love for the great city, whose banner had floated proudly in all seas, drew them to the shrine in the water, where the ashes of their fathers mouldered.
Others came, seeking vestiges of old inheritance; or, it might be, traces of brothers, or of friends, long parted from them.
Among those there came, under the guardianship of a great French general, a pensive girl from Avignon on the Rhone. She seemed French in tongue, yet she spoke well the language of Italy, and her name was that of a house which was once great in Venice. She sought both friends and inheritance.
Her story was a singular one. Her grandfather was once royal embassador to the State of Venice. Her mother had fled at night from his house, to meet upon the shores of the Lagoon a Venetian lover, who was of a noble family, but a culprit of the State.
As sho approached the rendezvous, upon the fatal night, she found in the distance a flaming barge of St. Mark; and presently after, heard the cry and the struggles of some victim of State, cast into the Lagoon.
Her gondola came up in time to save Antonio Pesaro!
The government put no vigor in its search for drowned men: and the fugitives, made man and wife, journeyed safely across Piedmont. The arm of St. Mark was very strong for vengeance, even in distant countries; and the fugitive ones counted it safer to wear another name, until years should have made safe again the title of Pesaro.
The wife had also to contend with the opposition of a father whose abhorrence of the Venetian name would permit no reconciliation, and no royal sanction of the martiage. Thus they lived, outcasts from Venice, and outlawed in France, in the valley town of Avignon. With the death of Pesaro, the royal embassador relented; but kindness came too late. The daughter sought him only to bequeath to his care her child.
But Blanche Pesaro, child as she was, could not love a parent who had not loved her mother; and the royal embassador, who could steel his heart toward a suffering daughter, could spend little sympathy upon her Italian child.
Therefore Blanche was glad, under the protection of a republican general of Provence, to seek what friends or kindred might yet be found in the island city, where her father had lived, and her mother had loved. She found there a young Count (for the title had been revived) Antonio Pesaro—her own father's name; and her heart warmed toward him, as to her nearest of kin. And the young Count Antonio Pesaro, when he met this new cousin from the West, felt his heart warming toward one whose story seemed to lift a crime from off the memory of his father. There was no question of inheritance; for the two parties joined their claim, and Blanche became Countess of Pesaro.
But the pensive face which had bloomed among the olives by Avignon, drooped under the harsh winds that whistle among the leaning houses of Venice. And the Count, who had inherited sadness, found other and stronger grief in the wasting away, and the death of Blanche, his wife.
She died on a November day, in the tall, dismal house where the widowed Count now lives. And there the daughter Blanche left him arranges flowers on the ledge of the topmost windows, where a little of the sunshine finds its way.
The broken gentleman lingers for hours beside the portraits of the old Count, who was Inquisitor, and of Antonio, who had such wonderful escape; and they say that he has inherited the deep selfreproaches which his father nourished; and that with stem and silent mourning for the sins and the weaknesses which had stained his family name, he strides, with his vacant air, through the ways of the ancient city, expecting no friend but death.
Such was the story which my garrulous little Professor, warmed with the lively Italian wine, told to me in the Locanda del Vapore.
And, judging as well as I can from the air of the old gentleman and his daughter, whom I first saw upon the Quay of the Zattcre, and from what I can learn through books of the ancient government of Venice, I think the story may be true.
My lively little Professor says it is veritiimo; which means, that it is as true as any thing (in Italian) can he.
THE HAPPY FAILURE.
THE appointment was that I should meet my
I was first on the spot. The village was high up the river, and the inland summer sun was already oppressively warm. Presently I saw my uncle advancing beneath the trees, hat off, and wiping his brow; while far behind staggered poor old Yorpy, with what seemed one of the gates of Gaza on his back.
"Come, hurrah, stump along, Yorpy!" cried my uncle, impatiently turning round every now and then.
Upon the black's staggering up to the skiff, I perceived that the great gate of Gaza was transformed into a huge, shabby, oblong box, hermetically scaled. The sphinx-like blankness of the box quadrupled the mystery m my mind.
"Is this the wonderful apparatus?" said I, in amazement. "Why, it's nothing but a battered old dry-floods box, nailed up. And is this the thing, uncle, that is to make you a million of * dollars ere tho year be out? What a forlornlookin^, lack-lustre, old ash-box it is."
"Put it into the skiff!" roared my uncle to Yorpy, without heeding my boyish disdain. "Put it in, you grizzled-headed cherub—put it in care
fully, carefully! If that box bursts, my everlasting fortune collapses."
"Bursts?—collapses?" cried I, in alarm. "It ain't full of combustibles? Quick! let me go to the further end of the boat!"
"Sit still, you simpleton!" cried my uncle again. "Jump in, Yorpy, and hold on to the box like grim death while I shove off. Carefully! carefully! you dunderheaded black! Mind t'other side of the box, I say! Do you mean to destroy the box?"
"Duyvel take te pox!" muttered old Yorpy, who was a sort of Dutch African. "De pox has been my cuss for de ten long 'ear."
"Now, then, we'rc off—take an oar, youngster; you, Yorpy, clinch the box fast. Here we go now. Carefully! carefully! You, Yorpy, stop shaking the box! Easy! easy! there's a big snag. Pull now. Hurrah! deep water at last! Now give way, youngster, and away to the island."
"The island!'' said I. "There's no island hereabouts."
"There is ten miles above the bridge, though," said my uncle, detenninatcly.
"Ten miles off! Pull that old dry-goods box ten miles up the river in this blazing sun!"
"All that I have to say," said my uncle, firmly, " is that we are bound to Quash Island."
"Mercy, uncle! if I had known of this great long pull of ten mortal miles in this fiery sun, you wouldn't have juggled me into the skiff so easy. What's in that box? — paving-stones? See how the skiff settles down under it. I won't help pull a box of paving-stones ten miles. What's the use of pulling 'em?"
"Look you, simpleton," quoth my uncle, pausing upon his suspended oar. "Stop rowing, will ye! Now then, if you don't want to share in the glory of my experiment; if you arc wholly indifferent to halving its immortal renown; I say, sir, if you care not to be present at the first trial of my Great Hydraulie-Hydrostatic Apparatus for draining swamps and marshes, and converting them, at the rate of one acre the hoar, into fields more fertile than those of the Genessee; if you care not, I repeat, to have this proud thing to tell—in far future days, when poor old I shall have been long dead and gone, boy—to your children, and your children's children; in that case, sir, you are free to land forthwith."
"Oh, uncle! I did not mean—"
"No words, sir! Yorpy, take his oar, and help pull him ashore."
"But, my dear uncle; I declare to you that—"
"Not a syllable, sir: you have cast open scom upon the Great Hydraulie-Hydrostatic Apparatus. Yorpy, put him ashore, Yorpy. It's shallow here again. Jump out, Yorpy, and wade with him ashore."
"Now, my dear, good, kind uncle, do but pardon me this one time, and I will say just nothing about the apparatus."
"Say nothing about it! when it is my express end and aim it shall be famous! Put him ashore, Yorpy."
"Nay uncle, I will not give up my oar. I hare an oar in this matter, and I mean to keep it. You shall not cheat me out of my share of your glory."
"Ah, now there—that's sensible. You may stay, youngster. Pull again now."
We were all silent for a time, steadily plying our way. At last I ventured to break water once more.
"I am glad, dear uncle, you have revealed to me at last the nature and end of your great experiment. It is the effectual draining of swamps; an attempt, dear uncle, in which, if you do but succeed (as I know you will), you will earn the glory denied to a Roman emperor. Ho tried to drain the Pontine marsh, but failed."
"The world has shot ahead the length of its own diameter since then," quoth my uncle, proudly. "If that Roman emperor were here, fd show him what can be done in the present enlightened age."
Seeing my good uncle so far mollified now as to be quite self-complacent, I ventured another remark.
"This is a rather severe, hot pull, dear uncle."
"Glory is not to be gained, youngster, without pulling hard for it—against the stream, too, as we do now. The natural tendency of man, in the mass, is to go down with the universal current into oblivion."
"But why pull so far, dear uncle, upon the present occasion? Why pull ten miles for it? You do but propose, as I understand it, to put to the actual test this admirable invention of yours. And could it not be tested almost any where?"
"Simple boy," quoth my uncle, "would you have some malignant spy steal from me the fruits of ten long years of high-hearted, persevering endeavor? Solitary in my scheme, I go to a solitary place to test it. If I fail—for all things are possible—no one out of the family will know it. If I succeed, secure in the secrecy of my invention, I can boldly demand any price for its publication,"
"Pardon me, dear uncle; you are wiser than I."
"One would think years and gray hairs should bring wisdom, boy."
"Yorpy there, dear uncle; think you his grizzled locks thatch a brain improved by long life?"
"Am I Yorpy, boy? Keep to your oar!"
Thus padlocked again, I said no further word till the skiff grounded on the shallows, some twenty yards from the deep-wooded isle.
"Hush!" whispered my uncle, intensely; "not a word now!" and he sat perfectly still, slowly sweeping with his glance the whole country around, even to both banks of the here wideexpanded stream.
"Wait till that horseman, yonder, passes!" he whispered again, pointing to a speck moving along a lofty, river-side road, which perilously wound on midway up a long line of broken bluffs and cliffs. "There—he's out of sight now, behind the copse. Quick! Yorpy! Carefully, though! Jump overboard, and shoulder the box, and—Hold!"
We were all mute and motionless again.
"Ain't that a boy, sitting like Zaccheus in yonder tree of the orchard on the other bank! Look, youngster—young eyes arc better than old —don't you see himl"
"Dear uncle, I sec the orchard, but I can't sec any boy."
"He's a spy—I know he is," suddenly said my uncle, disregardful of my answer, and intently gazing, shading his eyes with his flattened hand. "Don't touch the box, Yorpy. Crouch! crouch down, all of ye!"
"Why, uncle—there—see—the boy is only a withered white bough. I see it very plainly now."
"You don't see the tree I mean," quoth my uncle, with a decided air of relief, "but never mind; I defy the boy. Yorpy, jump out, and shoulder the box. And now then, youngster, off with your shoes and stockings, roll up your trowsers legs, and follow me. Carefully, Yorpy, carefully. That's more precious than a box of gold, mind."
"Heavy as do gelt anyhow," growled Yorpy, staggering and splashing in the shallows beneath it.
"There, stop under the bushes there—in among the flags—so—gently, gently—there, put it down just there. Now, youngster, are you ready? Follow—tiptoes, tiptoes!"
"I can't wade in this mud and water on my tiptoes, uncle; and I don't sec the need of it either."
"Go ashore, sir—instantly!"
"Why, uncle, I am ashore."
"Peace! follow me, and no more."
Crouching in the water in complete secrecy, beneath the bushes and among the tall flags, my uncle now stealthily produced a hammer and wrench from one of his enormous pockets, and presently tapped the box. But the sound alarmed him.
, "Yorpy," he whispered, "go you off to the right, behind the bushes, and keep watch. If you see any one coming, whistle softly. Youngster, you do the same to the left."
We obeyed; and presently, after considerable hammering and supplemental tinkering, my uncle's voice was heard in the utter solitude, loudly commanding our return.
Again wo obeyed, and now found the cover of the box removed. All eagerness, I peeped in, and saw a surprising multiplicity of convoluted metal pipes and syringes of all sorts and varieties, all sizes and calibres, inextricably interwreathed together in one gigantic coil. It looked like a huge nest of anacondas and adders.
"Now then, Yorpy," said my uncle, all animation, and flushed with the foretaste of glory, "do you stand this side, and be ready to tip when I give the word. And do you, youngster, stand ready to do as much for the other side. Mind, don't budge it the fraction of a barley-corn till I say the word. All depends on a proper adjustment."