A Venetian Experience

" AND now for Venice,” I exclaimed, as we caught up our carpet-bags and umbrellas, and walked down the sloping way that led from the depot to the Canal Grande. “What will become of us ? Shall we be seized upon bodily and put into a coffin-like gondola, to be carried off nobody knows where by horrible-looking men who will talk a patois which my poor Italian will never aid me in comprehending ? ”

“ My dear,” remarked my husband, solemnly, “depend upon it, we shall meet a commissioner.’’

And there he was, the inevitable commissioner, with his, “ The Hotel Europa, signore, — yes, monsieur, I am the commissioner of the Hotel, — this way, signora, — your checks for the luggage, — all safe,—take the cover off that gondola, — a few soldi, signore, for the old man with the hook.”

I made a quiet grimace under my veil, looked compassionately at my fellow-traveller, who hates to be taken care of, but whose ignorance of Italian renders him helpless, and then tried to realize the fact that I was in a gondola, black, coffin-like, as I had pictured it to myself, and that these were gondoliers, stooping to their oars with the strange motion" I had tried to imagine, as I looked at the pictures of Venice. And their language, —could I understand it ? I shut my eyes and listened. Victoria ! it was no more difficult than what I had heard from our conduttori in Florence, or from our beggars in Rome. I looked well at our gondoliers. One was a finelooking young fellow, whose good looks, however, were strangely at variance with my preconceived ideas of Italian beauty, — light brown hair and small blue eyes, and a figure like a youthful Hercules. The other was far more like my notion of a gondolier, — a dark, lithe form, and sharp, Italian features ; but then he was forty years old, and remarkably dirty. I determined to employ that gondola during our stay in Venice. Number seventy, — I should speak about it. And here we were at the hotel, an old palazzo, with circular blocks of bright marbles let into the walls, making them glorious with indestructible color; the carved and fluted balconies projecting over the canal ; and, strangest of all, the everyday doorsteps which led down into the water, and which received us like old friends as we stepped out of the gondola.

“ But where are St. Mark’s and the Piazza ? ” I exclaimed, after I had stood gazing from the window some minutes, in a silence interrupted only by woman-like exclamations of “ Beautiful ! exquisite ! charming ! ” to the evident delight of our landlord, who stood by, proud, as he had a right to be, of his beautiful city.

“ It is within a few minutes’ walk of the hotel, signora.”

“ Walk ! Can you walk in Venice ? ”

“ Si, signora ; I ’ll send a porter with you when you like to go.”

“ I shall go at once, while we are waiting for dinner.”

My husband shrugged his shoulders, and I followed my porter through narrow, paved streets, by sharp turnings, past a half-dozen beggars, whose laughing lips belied their sad eyes, into the Ducal Square, and there before me stood St. Mark’s, glorious with the coloring of a Venetian sunset in springtime, more like a heathen temple than a place of Christian worship.

“What is the cathedral like?” my husband deigned to inquire, after he had finished his soup.

“ Like nothing I ever saw before. No more like a cathedral than like a cotton factory. A long, low building, rich with color ; red and purple marbles, strange Byzantine mosaics of virgins, saints, and prophets, I suppose ; but they look more like monstrous Indian idols than anything else; then there are domes, such as you see in pictures of Mohammedan mosques and queer caryatides of porphyry, holding heavy columns on their heads, and low arches of no use at all, that I can see, and spires that stretch into the sky for nothing, and horrible faces that grin at you, and flocks of pigeons that fly in and out among the carvings, and dazzle your eyes; but still the whole is beautiful as a jewel set in the golden sunshine.”

“ Did you go in ? ”

“ O yes ; and saw the same thing inside. It was like a dream of some faroff Eastern country; all strange and bewildering ; the chanting for vespers sounded different from the Romish chants ; the priests looked strange in the dim light, and there were the same uncouth figures and wild carvings and bright colorings all round me. I stood back behind the railing, where the church was lighted only by a chandelier, which made a Greek cross every way you looked at it, (the lamp, I mean,) and do you know the floor is all in waves, up and down, enough to make you sea-sick. The porter said it was to represent the waves of the sea, but I believe the piles on which the church was built have given way.”

“ Bless me ! I must go and see it,” said my husband, whom a hard fact always interested.

“ Certainly, we must go a great many times, and don’t you think it would be a good tiring to engage the gondola that brought us here for all the time we are in Venice ? People always do that.”

“ What for ? There are plenty of gondolas.”

“ But you know if we changed boatmen I might not be able to understand them, and then we should need a commissioner. Now, I shall soon get used to the voices of these men ; and then they look intelligent, and can explain everything to us as well as a valet de place. It would be cheaper too,” added I, clinching the nail after I had driven it in.

I gained my point, and we took number seventy.

It is strange how communicative the lower class of Italians are. In half an hour I had learned to call our young fair-haired gondolier Antonio ; I knew that Pietro was his uncle; that they were both for Victor Emanuel; that they were not certain how to feel towards Garibaldi; that they had but one political wish, one hope, one certainty, indeed, that the day would come when il Re Galantuomo would come to Venice.

“Signora,” said Antonio, “if I see that day, the saints may take me to themselves the next; and I shall see it,” continued he.

“ But would you not rather see Garibaldi ? ” persisted I.

Non so, signora : the Neapolitans like Garibaldi, but we of Venice are not sure that he is a good friend to Vittore Emmanuele.”

“ And you are sure that the king will come ? ”

“Sure, signora! Venice will not belong to Austria long.”

“ But is not the Emperor kind to you ? has he not done something for Venice ? ”

“ Signora, no. He does everything for Trieste. They tell me that Trieste has bigger ships now than Venice, — Venice that was so great. And he sends our soldiers far away to the north, while the Tedeschi are here in our streets. If the signora will listen to the soldiers as they pass, she will know that they are all forestieri."

“ What would you do,” said I to Antonio, “if Victor Emanuel should come ? ”

“I, signora? I would go and fight under him, as long as I had a drop of blood in my veins. And,” continued he, changing his tone and gestures of enthusiasm to a shrug of the shoulders and a merry laugh, “my uncle Pietro would pray for him.”

After two days of sight-seeing, my husband gave in his adhesion to number seventy.

“You seem to have hit upon very intelligent gondoliers; but, my dear, were you not talking to them about Victor Emanuel, this morning ? I would not talk politics, if I were you.”

“ Why, what possible harm can it do ? And if they talk freely, how can I help it ? ”

“ Well, well, I don’t know; these people seem in such an excited state that you might get into trouble.”

“ O, I 'll take good care of myself,” said I, determined to go on, with that rashness in real dangers by which women make up for their timidity in imaginary ones. “ Never mind what I talk about, it is all good for my Italian ; and, thanks to my Italian, I have found a washerwoman. Antonio promises to send me one; and do you know he blushed so when he spoke, and looked so bashfully at Pietro, that I imagine there must be some tender feeling at the bottom of his praise of Giulietta’s washing. ‘ She will make the clothes as white as the lady’s hands,’ was the pretty way in which he put it. Really, these Italians are poets and gentlemen by nature.”

“ Especially the beggars you meet in the streets,” laughed my husband. “ Don’t expect me to fall into all your enthusiasms about these lazy people.”

This was so provoking that I made a merit to myself of holding my tongue, and fell to weaving a romance about Antonio and Giulietta, which lasted till the chambermaid opened my door, introducing" La lavandera, signora.” Nor was my romance overwrought, as far as the beauty of the heroine was concerned. Giulietta had the lovely face that I had seen in some of the Tuscan peasants, and among the contadine who come to Rome on a festa, making the streets bright with their gay costume. I was half in love myself, and was sure that Antonio was quite so. I could not rest without an attempt at investigation.

“ It was our gondolier, Antonio, who recommended you,” I began, after we had translated into Italian my English list.

“ Si, signora,” said the soft, Venetian voice.

“ He is a brother, perhaps ? ”

“No, signora.”

“ Then a cousin ? ”

“ No, signora.”

My heart misgave me as I looked at the blushing face and remembered how little right I had to interrogate ; but chance and time did for me what I was too shy to do for myself. Giulietta grew more confiding as weeks passed on, and as she became more familiar with the bad Italian in which I asked her innumerable questions about the ways of living, the business, the amusements of the Venetian people, about herselt and her home ; and one day the whole story came, with a gush of words which proved how ready she was to pour her troubles into any Sympathizing car.

“ I know, signora, how kind you have been to Antonio, and may the Blessed Mother of Heaven reward you for your goodness to me ; but all your kindness, nobody’s kindness, can make us happy now, for Franz says — ”

“ But who is Franz? I never heard of Franz before”; — for Giulietta had talked to me often of her mother, who worked so hard at the washing every day ; of her little brothers, who gave her so much trouble by hiding among the boats, and going off with the boatmen, when they were under her charge ; of her little sister Agnese, who was like an angel in heaven for goodness, and who was as lovely as Saint Agnes herself ; but Franz was a new name.

“ I will tell you all, signora. I know I have been a very foolish girl, and deserve to suffer something, but not all this misery. Antonio's father and mother have a little garden on the island of Lido. You saw it, you know, the day you walked across the island to the great water on the other side. Ebbene, signora, they are great friends of ours, and when I was little, there was no treat like going to Lido on a feast-day ; and the fathers and mothers would sit in the little arbor with the bottle of wine and the dish of polenta, while Antonio and I were by the sea-shore gathering such lovely little shells. The signora saw the net I wore last Sunday when I brought the clothes ? Well, Antonio made that out of the shells we gathered in those happy times. But that was long ago ; and when I grew older, — yes,

I will say it, — I liked better to go to the regattas and to see the Policinello on the Riva dei Schiavoni, and to dance at the festa, and to talk from our windows with the young gondoliers, than to spend all my Sundays at Lido, where all was so quiet, and old Pietro — you know him— was always questioning me about my religious duties, and had I been to confession and to early prayers. So I think that was what made Antonio a gondolier, cosa terrible for his parents, who wanted him to take the little garden from them ; for they made money in raising vegetables for the hotels in Venice. And I don’t know why, signora, but his going against his parents to please me, instead of making me love him more, as it ought to have done, only made me cross and proud. And then came Franz. Franz is a kind, good fellow ; I ought to say that; but no more like Antonio ! He is a sergeant in one of the Austrian regiments, and at first I liked his fine clothes, so gay, with the white tunic ; and he used to hire a boat and take mother and me to see the regattas, and land us at the public garden, and give us ices ; and I laughed when Antonio said he was an Austrian and one of our tyrants, and that no true Venetian girl would even look at him ; but I did not laugh when la mare said I should marry him because he could give me a good home far away in that cold German land, where I should never see Venice again, and where I and my children would really be Austrians. No, indeed, I would rather starve to death in Venice than live like a princess there. And mother was very angry, and told old Lisa, Antonio’s mother, how badly I had behaved when I had such a chance of making them all comfortable ; for Franz is really well off, and would leave the army and do something for the boys. And I was very unhappy, — no, not very, " she continued, blushing to her hair ; “ for that trouble brought me back Antonio. Old Lisa told him that night, to prove, she said, how ungrateful all children are to their parents, who have done so much for them ; and the next morning, signora, as I was going to morning mass at the cathedral, before mother went to her washing, there, under the column of the lion,—-there was Antonio. And I have not been so unhappy since then. But Franz, he will not listen to anybody but mother, and lately— Does the signora know that they talk about war in Austria,-—-war with some country at the far north, and then, Antonio says, il Re Galantuomo will come. O, if he did not care so much about Italy, — if he did not hate the Tedeschi so fiercely ! And, signora, last night Franz came in and said that war was really to begin, and that his officers said the Emperor would fill up his army here and send the men far off to the north to fight with the enemy. Antonio would never fight under the Austrians ; he would kill himself first,” said poor Giulietta, breaking down into a passion of tears.

I could give her very little comfort, for I knew that all she said of the war was only too true. Nay, I knew more than she did. I knew that the first decided step of the Kaiser König towards war with Prussia would rouse all Italy to arms, and that, in such a case, Venice might be the scene of a fearful struggle. It had been only the night before that my husband and myself had held a long and anxious conversation as to how much longer we could venture to stay in Venice ; but the business which brought my husband here threw him constantly in contact with the Austrian authorities, and this contact, he argued, would make it easy for him to leave at any time.

“All this intercourse of mine, my dear, ought to make us more careful not to show any active sympathy with these discontented Italians : it would be a sort of breach of hospitality. Don’t you think so ? ”

My difficulty was that I did not want to think so, so I left him to his business and betook myself to my gondola, in which I floated for glorious days and weeks, and learned to know Venice well. I learned more, as my gondoliers gained confidence in me. I learned to interpret aright the ominous silence that hung over Venice, — learned to listen to the rumors that went before the fact, which told of Victor Emanuel’s preparations for war, of the calls for Garibaldi which rose through Italy,— learned the meaning of the various signs made by the gondoliers as they passed each other,—-learned that the great heart of the common people was roused again, and that hope had taken the place of despair. I believe I betrayed no confidence, told no political news that my husband’s position enabled him to hear before others ; but all information that I gained legitimately, through the newspapers, through letters, through conversation, I felt I had the right to repeat to my humble friends ; so that our gondola was marked as the boat of “la signora che ama I'ltalia.” Ah ! beautiful Venice, that I love so much, how often have I drifted through thy streets of palaces, — streets whose echoes are never wakened by vulgar noise of commerce, rumbling cart, or tramp of heavy draught-horse, — where I met kindly eyes turned towards me, and heard blessings and prayers uttered for me in the soft dialect of the lagoons !

It was on a bright Sunday morning that I fulfilled a promise I had often made Antonio, to take a lunch of macaroni and fresh salads at his mother’s garden at Lido, “ with such cheese, signora! Ah, there is nobody like old Lisa for macaroni ” and cheese ! Notwithstanding all I knew of her causes for anxiety, I was not prepared for the air and tone of deep depression with which old Lisa greeted me, nor could I understand the warning glance which Antonio gave his mother.

“You need not look so at me, Toni,” she burst out; “la signora is a good friend, and knows what a mother feels. The saints themselves and the Blessed Mother of God have pity on a mother when her son is headstrong, and thinks of anything rather than of staying at home and taking care of those that belong to him. Yes, signora mia, I have thanked the saints each night on my knees, the saints who put it into Antonio’s head to be a gondolier against his father's will and my prayers, because I know the gondoliers will not be drafted by the Emperor, who is a good Emperor enough, if the people of Venice would think so. And now Antonio declares he will not stay ; lie will join the Italians:; he will join that Garibaldi, with the red shirt, that I thought was safe at Caprera ; he will do anything, except his duty to his mother. Oime, signora ! ” — and she ended with a great sob, which shook her fat frame as she leaned over the fire to give the required stir to the macaroni,

Pietro whispered to me, “ We hear — we heard last night at a meeting, I cannot tell you where — that Italy was arming, that Garibaldi was to leave Caprera; and, signora, so many have left Venice, and Antonio declares he will go ; he told old Lisa last night, but she would not listen to him.” He raised his voice. “ Lisa must go to the blessed San Teodoro for comfort He will help her when her son is fighting for Venice. — But the lady will not come here again, if she gets only sobs and groans instead of a welcome.”

“ The signora is always welcome,” said Lisa, with the ready courtesy of an Italian peasant. “ She knows how her gracious face makes our house happy. And here is the macaroni ; and look at the salad, Pietro, — it is only our garden through all the island that grows such salad.”

I ate a luncheon hearty enough to bring back the smiles to Lisa's broad face, and then ventured to say, “ You love Italy, I am sure, Lisa ; you are not an Austrian ; you would not have Antonio stay at home like a coward, whilst the other young men are fighting for Italy; you would not have him dressed in a white coat like the Tedeschi ?”

“ No, signora, no ; but he might stay quietly with his gondola that he was so fond of when I wanted him to work at home in the garden.”

“ But, Lisa, we old people must not expect young ones to be as reasonable as we are.”

“ The signora who calls herself old ! It is old Lisa who should do that, — not the signora, who is young yet,” said she as I passed through the little gate.

Antonio stood respectfully waiting. “ Might I go with the signora ? There are so many people on Sunday.”

He walked by my side silent for a longer time than ever before. At last the rapid words came. “ Yes, signora, I must go ; even Pietro says so. What my mother says is true, — that the gondoliers will not be drafted till the last; but could I stay here ? The signora cannot know, nobody knows but ourselves, how many have gone already, — the young nobles, the tradespeople’s sons, i poveri giovani, everybody, — and I cannot stay.”

“ But Giulietta,” I was cruel enough to say.

“ Ah, Giulietta mia! And then there is that hateful Franz to be near her. But Giulietta would despise me if I stayed ; she loves Venice as well as I do.”

“ You cannot go, Antonio ; you will be missed from your gondola. Did you not tell me they were all numbered and registered ? ”

“ But Pietro can find a man to take my place, — a poor man with a wife and children, who is trembling now lest he should be drafted ; and no one would know the difference, if he keeps quiet a little. And quiet enough the gondoliers will soon be, with no strangers here. The signora herself will soon go.”

That was true enough. We were to go in a week or two.

“ But can you go ? How do these young men get away ? ”

“ They disappear, signora,” said Antonio, with a meaning look. “ But I will tell you how I can go, with your help, signora, — you who are so good to the poor Italians. Il Signore Giusti, — he is the oldest son of the house,—he goes on Tuesday ; he has a passport, — one left him by an English signor; and no one speaks English like the noble Giusti ; he can pass the officials, and he will take me with him as his servant. I need not open my lips. I know that English servants never open their lips before their masters. They only sit with their arms crossed and with white gloves on, and I can do that,” he continued, laughing, — “only.” his face changed, “ I have no English clothes. If the noble lady would let me have a suit from il signore ! Giulietta would pay for them in the washing.”

“ You shall have them, of course. No matter for that. I will not listen to Giulietta’s working for them, — certainly not.”

Antonio’s rapid flow of thanks, in which my name was coupled with all the Italian wealth of grateful epithet, fell heavily upon my ears as we walked rapidly back to the gondola. In my eagerness to repel the thought of taking any of Giuletta's hard-earned wages, I had committed myself to Antonio ; nor, with all my sympathies awake for him, could I be sorry that I had done so; yet had I not promised my husband to take no active steps in regard to the political troubles, or, if I did not promise in words, was not my silent listening to his charge an implied promise ? Yet I was doing nothing, only giving away a suit of old clothes, — a thing I had done a hundred times before. I would tell him as soon as I got home. No, I would not tell him, men are so queer, so unreasonable ; he might say it was interfering with what we had no right to touch ; he might even begin to talk that nonsense about a breach of the laws of hospitality, — I was stealing a soldier from Francis Joseph. ‘And I will do it,’ continued I, roused by the thought. ‘ I will do my little to help Italy, — I can only take the scolding afterwards.’ We were nearing the hotel.

“ Giulietta will come for the washing to-night, and you will be in the gondola to-morrow; perhaps the signora will go to the Armenian Convent to-morrow, Pietro.”

Antonio’s eyes looked very beseechingly at me. “ Yes, yes, I will go,” and I ran up the stairs rapidly, hoping to rid myself of the troublesome questions which conscience kept proposing to me. Conscience was put quietly down by evening ; the clothes, a gray suit which I detested, were folded closely, and laid with the soiled linen ; everything was there, — hat, gloves, neck-tie, the best outfit for an English valet that could be found in an American gentleman’s wardrobe, — and I awaited Giulietta’s coming with a determination to do my best to comfort her. Poor thing, she needed comfort. She had so constrained herself to look as usual during her walk through the streets, and her passage through the crowd of waiters at the hotel, that the shutting of my chamber door was a signal for a burst of tears and suppressed sobs that shook her frame all over as she sank down by my bedside.

“It is not that I would keep him, signora mia ; he must go. But oh ! what will become of us all ? And my mother scolds me because I will not look at Franz, —but I never will, never, — and when Antonio is safe away, I shall tell Franz everything. He is not bad, Franz is not, and he will not be hard upon me; but Antonio—if I never should see him again—if he is killed — ” and her sobs burst out afresh.

I tried to comfort her. I told her of my own home, of the terrible war that had raged there, of the women who had given up their nearest and dearest for their country, of the happy return of the soldiers. I said nothing of those who never came back, of the mothers whose weeping had torn my heart; but I told her of my own blessing in receiving back my loved ones, and Giulietta’s sobs ceased, and her eyes shone out again with something like hope as she rose from her seat. I almost made her laugh as I poured out some cologne in the basin, in which she might bathe her eyes, and she quite laughed at my admiration of the wealth of black hair which must all come down to be braided again smoothly over her face.

Then we packed the clothes, and put the tall stove-pipe hat in the middle of the basket, and piled it in and around with small articles, while I thought a little of Falstaff, and a little more of Venetian conspiracies and the Lion’s Mouth, and the Council of Ten, and Giulietta talked almost merrily of Antonio’s handsome curls crowned by that civilized ugliness.

It was Wednesday, and Antonio had gone. I had spent all Tuesday morning in the gondola ; we had gone to the Armenian Convent, where I had been shown Lord Byron’s books, the room in which he studied, the chapel, the library with its wonderful books in all languages, the printing-office and its polyglot fonts of type ; we had taken the whole length of the Canal Grande, and the Giudecca, and Antonio had exchanged his jest with every gondolier he met, until I felt that all Venice must be thoroughly aware of his presence. He had borne himself bravely too ; there bad been but one allusion to Giulictta, —it was when we parted, — parted with simply a friendly nod of good morning on my part, and a bow, with “ Addio, signora ; non, a rivederla,” on his. Still I had found time to say, as he was helping me out of the gondola, “Don't be afraid for Giulietta; I will do my best for her,” — and to receive a grateful look from his blue eyes as I entered the hotel.

The Wednesday morning had found me again in the gondola, but in Antonio's place stood an awkward young fellow who needed all Pietro’s teachings to enable him to guide the long black gondola through the narrow turnings. I think I ran some little risk of being upset that day, but I am not naturally timid, and I considered that my risk was run for Italy !

Next morning I had more to endure for Italy. The first words that greeted my sleepy senses were “ My dear, where have you put my gray clothes ? I can't find them in the wardrobe nor in the trunk.”

“The gray suit? — you don't mean to put it on, surely ; you look horrid in it; it does n’t fit, and is so very unbecoming; besides, it is fairly shabby.”

“That’s the reason I like it. One is always comfortable in old clothes, and it fits well enough. I mean to travel all the way home in those clothes. They will be just fit for a sea suit by the time we reach Liverpool.”

At these words I took my courage in both hands, and, halflaughing, for I was really not much afraid, I said, “ Well, my dear, you can’t travel in them, for I have given them away,-—given them to a poor man who wanted clothes very much.”

“ Given away my gray clothes ! Why, what were you thinking of? They were not half worn out; I shall have to buy a new suit.”

“That will be a good thing; you know you can get clothes cheaper over here.”

“ Cheaper ? Yes, a great deal cheaper, with gold at 1.40, and going up. I tell you, nothing is cheap here, except knick-knacks which nobody wants. Women are positively ridiculous. Shell nets and coral necklaces are cheap here, as you told me yesterday when you insisted on buying a lot of things for which you had no use, simply because they could not be bought at any price at home,— as if anybody wanted to buy them there. But clothing — it is dear and bad, like everything useful, in this ridiculous country. And one of these wretched Italian beggars has my gray coat. Do you suppose he will wear it ? No, indeed ; I could find it again if I went through the secondhand shops. It is all too ridiculous.”

I had heard before (what woman has not ?) how ridiculously unreasonable women were, and I did not mind it much ; and then my real scolding, the one which my conscience dreaded, would not come for some time, for I should not tell the whole truth till we were far away from Venice. So I met my husband’s petulant words in the most amiable manner, took out the next best suit, saw that the hot water was ready, and made all the difficulties of the toilet as smooth as possible, while I remarked that we were going to England, where clothing was certainly cheap, and that it was not worth while to have a lot of half-worn clothing with us. I was sorry if he cared for that suit ; I never liked it, and I was sure I never wore anything that he did not like.

The next week was our last in Venice,— a busy one for me; but in the midst of my many cares I kept one day free for Giulietta, the day that the Patriarch was to bless the people at St. Mark’s. Her pretty face looked almost old with anxiety as she whispered to me while we stood together in the portico, “ Have you heard of the Count Giusti, signora ? ”

“I have not dared to ask, Giulietta.”

“ And I know nothing of Antonio, — and everybody has gone. Not a young lad was on the Rialto last night, or at the dance where I had to go, though the Santissima Madonna knows that my heart was heavy enough ; but I did not dare refuse Franz, or show mother that I did not want to go, lest they should think something was the matter with me ; and oh ! cara signora mia ! I shall go crazy if Franz keeps on talking as he does of what he will do for us all in that hateful Germany of his if only I will go with him. And we are poor enough now, and mother says I am an ungrateful girl not to listen to him ; for if the war really comes, and it is coming surely, we shall have no work, no washing, for there will be no strangers at the hotels, and bread will be dear, so horribly dear, and there are so many little ones at home. But if I will marry Franz, we shall have some one to take care of us, and may go away out of the war and live in comfort. I live in comfort in Austria while the Venetians are fighting for Venice ! No, I would never do it if Antonio —

I sometimes think mother cannot be a real Italian,—she cannot love Italy; and when I say so, — for I do say so when she makes me forget, may San Marco forgive me! how I ought to speak to my mother, — then she frowns and says I know nothing about real trouble, or I would not concern myself with what is not woman’s business.”

“ Does Franz know anything about Antonio ? ” I asked.

“No, signora, and I dare not tell him. I only say I ’ll never marry anybody who would fight against il Re Galantuomo; but sometimes I think I will tell him the whole truth, for indeed I think Franz would be kind and good.”

I felt half frightened for Antonio, when I heard Giulietta’s repeated declarations of Franz’s goodness, not having much faith in the generosity of a lover ; so I hurried Giulietta into the cathedral. It was an impressive scene. The old Patriarch, a venerable figure, sat in his chair in the pulpit, supported on each side by a priest who seemed almost to hold up his hands as those of Moses were stayed up by Aaron and Hur, the one on the one side and the other on the other side; the music pealed through the vast building, answered every now and then by the chanting of the priests, and the people kneeled, crossed themselves, and repeated their prayers with a devotional manner that always seems to me very sincere and earnest, and that contrasts most favorably with the levity and inattention so often seen in Protestant churches. At last the venerable Patriarch rose, and, in a voice feeble with age but most impressive from its solemnity, he gave a simple discourse on the duties of the people in the approaching trial which he had hoped to be spared from seeing. There was no approach to political subjects ; all was fatherly counsel and earnest exhortations to Christian feelings and conduct; and when he stretched his hands for the benediction, I bent my head with an earnest prayer that I too might profit by the teachings of so good and venerable a man.

Giulietta rose from her knees beside me, where she had sunk with an earnestness of devotion that almost brought me to her side. As she stood up she said, with the sudden change from the most rapt absorption in religious duties to the liveliest interest in worldly objects, which is so common among the members of the Catholic Church, and so startling to a Protestant, “ Does the signora see that Austrian soldier by the shrine of the Virgin ? That is Franz.”

I looked and understood Giulietta’s assertion that “Franz was so good.” A heavy German face, honest and kindly, looking as though the man could bear no malice against any one, as though the hand that held the musket simply by the command of his superiors could never be animated by the spirit of carnage. A brave face, too, — a face often to be seen among Germans,—one that commands respect by its homely goodness.

In a moment my resolution was taken ; a rash one perhaps, but somehow our rashest resolves seem often to be the inspiration of a higher wisdom.

“ Let me see him, Giulietta ; I will tell him myself about Antonio.” The girl looked frightened. “ Yes, leave him here with me after the crowd have gone, and go yourself and pray at the Virgin's shrine until I come to you. Perhaps I shall bring you good news.”

The cathedral was even then almost emptied of its crowd of worshippers ; and Franz stood at no great distance from us, his eyes turned constantly towards Giulietta. She took courage. “ Signora mia, if you would be so like one of the saints that help us sometimes ! Ah ! I would pray for you every night, every day, every hour.”

“ Call him, Giulietta,—call him, whilst we have courage.”

She stepped forward, and with a glance, scarcely a sign, brought Franz to her side.

I saw them both advancing towards me, the girl’s hand upon his arm, and he looking so bashful that Giulietta seemed to gain strength from his embarrassment. She spoke with a rapidity that had something of desperation in it.

“The signora has been as kind as an angel from heaven to me, Franz, and she wants to speak to you, to tell you something that I dare not. And, O Franz, I have told her that you are so good ! ” And in a moment she was gone, and Franz and I were left alone in the side aisle, under the barbaric figures of Byzantine mosaic.

Franz was, at that moment, blushing painfully, from diffidence at finding himself alone with a strange lady ; but even my hurried glance showed me the strong good-sense and the kindly heart in him which make the German so approachable.

I saw no better way to relieve Franz’s embarrassment and my own than to speak at once to the point.

“You must not think me a stranger, Franz. Giulietta and I have been friends for a long time. She has told me everything about herself, and how kind you have been to her and to her little brother. She tells me, too, that you want her to go: with you to Germany; and no wonder, for Giulietta is so good and so pretty she would make a dear wife for any one she loved; but, Franz, she does not love you.”

“She thinks so much of Italy, my lady,” said Franz, his embarrassment passing away before his earnestness; “but when I am not a soldier, and not fighting against Italy, she will care for me.”

“ I think she would,” I answered, “ because she knows and says how good you are ; but then she cannot love you now, because she has loved somebody else ever since she was a little child. Indeed, it is nobody’s fault: it is a misfortune that I am sure you will bear, and not blame her for. She has been afraid to tell you, because her mother is your friend, and wants her to listen to you.”

“Who is he?” said Franz, pale to his lips with his efforts to control himself. “Is he a good man? Perhaps her mother knows he is not fit for her.”

“ Yes, he is good. I know him very well. He is a good son, and steady and industrious ; but he loves Italy as well as Giulietta does, and he has gone, Franz,

— gone as you would go, — to fight for his fatherland. He has left Venice and will join Victor Emanuel’s army.

ou do not blame him for that, surely, and you will help Giulietta bear all that she has to bear, and make it easier for her, and not let her mother tease her. You will be kind to her, because you love her.”

I stopped, terrified at my own rashness, and looked at Franz. His mouth was firmly shut, and his brows drawn down. Suddenly he spoke.

“ You are very good, my lady, to trouble yourself about me, but you care for Giulietta. Yes, I will help her ; she shall not have any more grief from me. But not now. I cannot see her now. Tell her that I will come and speak to her mother.” And he was gone. The heavy door shut behind him, and I was almost alone in the cathedral. I walked up to Giulietta, who stood leaning against a pillar by the shrine.

“ Yes, Giulietta, you are right; Franz is a noble, brave, good man; and he promises that you shall have no more pain from him. But you must be very gentle with him, for he suffers a great deal.” I stopped, feeling almost treacherous to the absent lover, while I was praising the present one, and Giulietta and I walked silently home; she too much afraid of my grave looks to venture a word, and I made sober by the responsibility that I had taken.

Two days after, we left Venice. Giulietta kissed my hand and invoked blessings upon me with all the demonstrative vehemence of her country, and sent message after message to Antonio, sure that I should find him as soon as I crossed the frontier. “And give him this, signora,” taking from her neck her little medal. “ Tell him to wear it always next his heart, and perhaps the Holy Mother and the Saints will listen then to my prayers for him.”

“ But, Giulietta, I may not see Antonio.”

“ Ebbene, carissima signora, if you would wear it yourself! La povera Giulietta prays as often for you as for Antonio ; and if the Virgin should open your heart to the true Church! ”

“ What a wonderful while you have been with that pretty washerwoman,” said my husband. “ Are not her accounts right, or are you giving her all your old clothes? It is time we were off; there are Pietro and his new man with number seventy at the door. What has became of the young one ?”

There were several questions here which it was inconvenient to answer, so I hurried to the gondola, and, escaping as I best could from the farewells of Pietro, soon found myself turning my back on Venice, whose light faded into that of common day as the train approached Mestre station.

We passed a weary day, — a day in which I tried to forget my own annoyance in wondering about my fellow-travellers.

“ Now don’t let your imagination run away with you,” said my husband“ You women see such wonderful things when there is nothing to see. If these people are not what they profess to be, you will not help them by looking anxious about them.”

This was very true, but my desire to look easy made me so uneasy that I drew a long breath, as if in a free country, when we saw Milan. “ And now there is but one thing that I want here,” I said, when a change of clothes and a good dinner had brought us back to a normal state, “and that is to find the young Count Giusti, who escaped from Venice a week or two ago.”

“What do you know about Count Giusti ? I never heard of him.”

“ And I never saw him; but I want very much to see him now.” And out came the story of Antonio and the gray clothes.

“ Bless me ! what a foolish thing to do. You do not know how much risk you ran. Suppose it had been found out, and I under obligations to the Austrian government,” fumed my husband. “ Lucky I knew nothing about it: I should have been obliged to stop him. It ’s a good thing it is all over now.”

“ Yes, it is all over now, and no harm has come.”

“ Well, I am glad, after all. that the poor fellow’s got away ; but you must never do such a thing again.”

“ O, I never shall; I shall never see Venice again; and now I know how wrong it was, I shall always ask your advice before I meddle with such things. But you will inquire about Count Giusti and Antonio. I must hear about them ; and, perhaps,” I added saucily, — “ perhaps you can get your gray clothes again.”

Count Giusti was found, — an intelligent young Italian, full of life and energy, like one wakened out of a long sleep by a sudden bright ray of hope which made all the future golden for him. He assured me that the medal, with Giulietta’s message, should reach Antonio, who was then at Cameiiata, bringing in provisions for the volunteers. Moreover, he promised to do his best to send back a comforting message to Giulietta.

Nearly a year has passed and Venice is free. We must be thankful for that. But she is freed, not by the valor of her children, not by the arms of the Italians, but by the policy of Napoleon III. Verily the benefits of France are bitter to Italy. I love my humble Italian friends, and it would be pleasant to see them again, but I should shrink from the grief and mortification on their faces when they remembered the hopes they confided to me in the early days of the war.

Through the kindness of Count Giusti and other Venetian friends, I know that Antonio is safe and Giulietta happy ; but that is all, — all I shall ever know.

Europe has passed away from me before the realities of home. I take up my life in America just where I left it, and my pleasant days in Venice are like something of which I have read in a book,—-her palaces arid churches mere pictures, her gondoliers and peasants, soldiers and nobles, Pietro, Lisa, Franz, Count Giusti, the characters which give life to the story.