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young back.


ments of a homely sort flew music. The scent was too hot about, sped on by flashing for that.

. teeth. Baldassare's own were Yet for all his adventuring black as old channel-posts in he got little reward : she turned the Lagoon, but in tongue- him no more than the round of work he gave as sharp as he her cheek. Vanna never stayed got. Then a wicked wind blew her work, and he, ordinarily a Vanna's hair like a whip across silent man, paid no more comher throat, fit to strangle her. pliments—yet ceased not to look. She had to face the day. Bal Going up the street at dinnerdassare pondered her straight time, he made his bid. He

limped by the tall girl's side “When Vanna's a nun she'll without speech from either; have no more trouble with her but at the door he looked up hair," quoth La Testolina, queerly at her and pinched her matchmaker by race.

6 When Vanna's a nun the “Go in and feed the youngriver will be dry,” said Vanna sters, my chuck," said he; “I from between her elbows. know where to meet Don

“When Vanna’s a nun the Urbano, and please Madonna river, on the contrary, will be in you shall feed your own before flood.” This from Baldassare. long."

“Hey! what's this?" Caterina "Yes, Ser Baldassare,” says cried; and Nonna pinched her pretty Vanna in a twitter.

The conference between the Adige will go crying that high contracting parties was she comes no more to dip her wordy, bristled with the gesticarms,” said the old man, with ulations of two pair of hands, the utmost gravity and a broad and was commented on by all grin. The women pealed their the guests in the “Fiore del delight, slapped their knees, Marinajo.

knees, Marinajo.” The girl, said Don or raised witnessing hands to Urbano, was the very pride of heaven : La Testolina caught his eye, prop of his failing years, Vanna round the waist, and a little mother to the children. gave her a resounding kiss. She had had a most pious

“Compliments, my little Van- bringing-up, never missed the na, compliments!” Her voice Rosary, knew the Little Hours was a braying trumpet. of the Virgin, could do sums

“Vi ringrazio, signore," said with notches in a stick, market Vanna under her breath, and like a Jew's housekeeper, sew La Testolina held up a tress of like a nun, and make a stew her long hair to the light. against any wife in the con

“When Vanna's a nun you trada. Dowry, dowry! What would bid for that, eh, Bal- did such a girl as that want dassare?

with a dowry? She was her “I will bid for whatever own dowry, by Bacchus the she will sell me," says he, Thracian. Look at the shape with a blink. Whereupon the of her—was that not a dowry? matchmaker made

The work she could do, the pair




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of shoulders, the deep chest, the two fists; "and of wine, by the long legs she had — pick your soul of the world, not enough dowry there, my friends! A to drown a flea! I tell you, young woman of her sort carried Baldassare,' he said finally, her dowry on her back, in her emboldened by the merchant's two hands, in her mouth-ah! growing doubt — "I tell you and in what she could put into that you ask of me a treasure yours, by our Lord. Rather, which I would not part with it should be the other way. for a cardinal's hat. No inWhat, now, was Ser Baldassare deed ! Not to be Bishop of prepared to lay out upon such Verona, throned and purpled a piece of goods ? Baldassare on Can Grande's right hand, shivered, grinned fearfully, and will I consent to traffic my shook his head many times. Vanna. Eh, sangue


sangue, Money was money ; it

because I am

a man of the limited; it bore its value in Church must I cease to be a plain figures upon its face : man of bowels, to have a yearnyou knew where you were with ing, a tender spot here?” He money. But you could get prodded his cushioned ribs. wives cheaper than ducats, and “Go you, Ser Baldassare Dardifind them cheaper value, soul of cozzo,” he cried, rising grandly a cat!

Besides, what was he? in his chair — “go you; you A poor pedlar, by his faith! have mistaken your man. The At this he spread out his father flies superbly out of the arms and dropped them with a curate's cassock, and points flop upon his knees. The priest the door to the chafferer of sat back in his chair and cast virgins ! appealing looks at the rafters; The tavern - room, on Don the company chuckled, nudged Urbano's side to a man, beat each other, guffawed. Baldas- the tables with their glasses; sare was made to feel that he Baldassare had to surrender at had over - coloured his

discretion. The bargain, finally True, he admitted, he had a struck, was written out by an roof over his head, shared for- obliging notary on the scoringtune with the rats in that. slate. In the name of the holy But look at the thing reason- and undivided Trinity it was ably, comrades. Vanna would declared to all men living and make another to keep; a girl to be born, that Baldassare of her inches must be an eater, Dardicozzo, merchant of Verona, body of a dog! Had his rever was obliged to pay to the revence thought of that? His erend father in God, Urbano, made

supreme curate of Santa Toscana in the effort ; held up one pudgy fore- Borgo San Giorgio, the sum of finger, and with the

other sixty florins Veronese and two marked off two joints of it. barrels of wine of Val Pulicella, “Of mortadella so much,” he under condition that if within said ; " of polenta so much”— thirty days from those presents and he shut his fist ; “of pasta he did not lead in marriage so much”—and he coupled the Giovanna, daughter of the said

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reverend, he should be bound to ming wax, and made a cross pay the sum of one hundred with the stile like the foundaand twenty florins Veronese, tions of a spider's web. and four barrels of wine of Val The affair was thus concludPulicella.

ed: before the thirty days were The notary executed a mon up Vanna was taken to church strous flourish at the bottom- by her father, and taken from a foliated cross rising out of it by her new master. Within steps. On the last step he a month she appeared at the wrote his own name, Bartolo doorway of Baldassare's little de Thomasinis ; and then Bal- shop, very pretty, very sedate, dassare, smiling as he should, quite the housewife—to sit there but feeling as he should not, sewing and singing to herself stuck his seal upon the swim- from grey dawn to grey dusk.



A year passed, two years from the Palace, some roisterpassed. Vanna was three-and- ing blade of a gentleman's twenty, no more round but no lackey, a friar or twinkling less blooming in face and figure, monk out for a frolic, came still a reedy, golden-haired girl. along with an “Eh, la belBut Baldassare was fifty-seven, lina !” and then there was and there was no sign of issue. another arm at work. So, The neighbours, who had nudged for one, whispered La Testoeach other at one season, whose lina, wagging a head full of heads had wagged as their confidence and mystery close winks flew about, now accepted to. Vanna's as the girl sat the sterile mating as of the working out the summer twiorder of things. Pretty Vanna, light. The Via Stella mother as she had been to her narrow and gloomy. The tall brothers and sisters, was to houses nearly met in that be a mother no more. There close way. Looking up, you was talk of May and Decem saw the two jagged edges of ber; Baldassare was advised the eaves, like great tattered to lock up other treasure beside wings spread towards each his florins; some, indeed, of the other. When the green sky opposite camp gave hints none of evening deepened to blue, too honest to the forlorn young and blue grew violet, these wife. The Piazza Sant' Anas- shadowing wings were always tasia at the falling-in of the in advance, more densely dark. day, for instance. Thus they There it that Vanna put it. All girls—and what else worked incessantly, sewing was Vanna, a wife in name?


seam, patching, walked there arm in arm. braiding, and fitting the pieces. Others walked there also, she By no chance at all did a must know. By-and-by some hint of the sun fall about her; pretty lad, an archer, perhaps, yet she always sang softly to




as she

He may


herself, always wore her pretty been to anything save his own fresh colours, and still showed belly; but it was incontestable the gold sheen in her yellow that he was not father to anyhair. Her hair was put up thing else. That alone might now, pulled smoothly back have been a grievance for over her temples; she spoke Vanna, but there is no eviin a low, sober, measured voice, dence that it was. Baldasand to La Testolina's sly sug sare was by nature gruff, by gestions responded with a little habit close-fisted : like all such blush, a little shake of the men, the more he felt

the head, and a very little sigh. deeper he hoarded the thought “Ser Baldassare is good to under his ribs. The most he me,

,” she would say ; “would would venture would be a hand you have me do him a wrong? on her hair, and a grunt when Last Friday he gave me

she did well ; so silver piece to spend in what- looked up gratefully at him soever I chose.

I bought a the old man drew off, with little holy-water stoup with a puckered brows and jaws Gesulino upon it bowered in working together.

On Sunday morning he have been ashamed of his patted my cheek and called weakness; it is dead certain me a good girl

. To say noth- that no one in Verona, least ing of the many times he has of all Vanna herself, suspected pinched my ear, all this was him of any affection for his very kind, as you must see.

young wife.

Mostly he was With what do you ask me silent; thus she became silent to reward him ? Fie!” La too whenever he was in the Testolina snorted, and shrugged house. This was against na

Vanna went on ture, for by ordinary her little with her sewing and her little songs bubbled from her like a song :

bird's. But to him

glum and staring within doors “Giovanottin, che te ne vai di fuora, awed her: she set a finger to Stattene allegro, e così vo' far io. Se ti trovassi qualche dama nuova,

her lips as she felt the tune L'ha da saper che tua dama son io.” on her tongue, and went about

her business mute. Baldassare So sang she, innocently enough, would go abroad, stooping whose sweethearting went no under his pack: she took her farther than her artless lips. seat at the shop-door, threaded There was not a spice of mis- her needle, her fingers flew chief in the girl. What she and her fancy with them. had told La Testolina had been The spring of her music was no more than the truth : Mas- touched, and all the neighter Baldassare was good to bours grew to listen for the her — better than you would gentle cadences she made. have believed possible in such So passed a year, so two a crabbed old stub of a man.

years passed. Vanna He was more of a father to twenty - three, looking less, her than ever Don Urbano had when along there came

herself away.


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morning a tall young friar, Brescia, even as far as Mantua

Carmelite, by name Fra he had been heard of. The Battista, with a pair of brown superior at Verona did his best dove's eyes

in his smooth to spoil him by endearment, face. These he lifted towards flattery, and indulgence; but Vanna's with an air so timid this was difficult, since he had and so penetrating, so delicate been spoilt already. and hardy at once, that when He passed down the Via he was gone it was to leave Stella morning and evening her with the falter of a verse for week. Morning and in her mouth, two hot cheeks, evening his eyes encountered and a quicker heart.

Vanna's. The third evening This Fra Battista, by birth he smiled at her, the fourth a Bergamask, accredited to morning he saluted her; the the convent

at Verona by fifth evening he stopped and of his parts

parts as a slipped in a gentle word, the preacher, was tall and shapely, first evening of the second like a spoilt pretty boy to week he stopped again, and look at, leggy, and soft in that night, La Testolina being the palm. His frock set off by, there was quite a little this petted appearance, — it conversation. gave you the idea of a pina La Testolina had black eyes, fore him. He did not a trim figure, and a way of look manly, was not manly wriggling which showed these by any means, and yet not to advantage. Fra Battista's so girlish but that you could fame and the possibility of doubt his

His eyes, mischief set her flashing: she which, as I say, were soft as led the talk and found him a dove's pair, he was not fond apt; it was not difficult to of showing; and this gave aim every word that it should them the more searching ap- go through and leave a dart peal when he did. His mouth, in Vanna's timid breast. The full and fleshy in the lips, had girl was so artless, you could a lovely curve. He kept it see her quiver, or feel her, at very demure, and, wh

when he every shot. For instance, was spoke, spoke softly. This was his sanctity very much fatigued a young man born to be Lan- by yesterday's sermon? Eh, celot to

Guinevere or la bella predica ! What inother; and, to do him justice, vocations of the saints, what he had had his share of ad- heart-groping, what reachings venture in that sort at an after the better parts of women ! early age.

He had learned It was some comfort to know more out of Ovid than from that a woman had a better the Fathers of Divinity, you part at all—by the Saviour !

Very popular for their handling by men gave he was in whatsoever convent no hint of it! Let Fra Beato he harboured, as a preacher —ah, pardon, Fra Battista she famous all over Lombardy and should have said — send some the March, - in Bergamo, in such arrows into men's hides !



may believe.

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