“This is so wonderful!” said the trembling Doge, who dreaded lest the next syllable that was uttered might destroy the blessed illusion, “so wildly improbable, that, though my soul yearns to believe it, my reason refuses credence. It is not enough to utter this sudden intelligence, Balthazar; it must be proved. Furnish but a moiety of the evidence that is necessary to establish a legal fact, and I will render thee the richest of thy class in Christendom! And thou, Sigismund, come close to my heart, noble boy,” he added, with outstretched arms, “that I may bless thee, while there is hope—that I may feel one beat of a father’s pulses—one instant of a father’s joy!”
Sigismund knelt at the venerable Prince’s feet, and receiving his head on his shoulder, their tears mingled. But even at that previous moment both felt a sense of insecurity, as if the exquisite pleasure of so pure a happiness were too intense to last. Maso looked upon this scene with cold displeasure. His averted face denoting a stronger feeling than disappointment, though the power of natural sympathy was so strong as to draw evidences of its force from the eyes of all the others present.
“Bless thee, bless thee, my child, my dearly beloved son!” murmured the Doge, lending himself to the improbable tale of Balthazar for a delicious instant, and kissing the cheeks of Sigismund as one would embrace a smiling infant; “may the God of heaven and earth, his only Son, and the holy Virgin undefiled, unite to bless thee, here and hereafter, be thou whom thou mayest! I owe thee one precious instant of happiness, such as I have never tasted before. To find a child would not be enough to give it birth; but to believe thee to be that son touches on the joys of paradise!”
Sigismund fervently kissed the hand that had rested affectionately on his head during this diction; then, feeling the necessity of having some guarantee for the existence of emotions so sweet, he arose and made a warm and strong appeal to him who had so long passed for his father to be more explicit, and to justify his new-born hopes by some evidence better than; his simple asseveration; for solemnly as the latter had been made, and profound as he knew to be the reverence for truth which the despised headsman not only entertained himself but inculcated in all in whom he had any interest, the revelation he had just made seemed too improbable to resist the doubts of one who knew his happiness to be the fruit or the forfeiture of its veracity.
We rest—a dream has power to
We rise—one wandering thought pollutes the day;
We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep;
Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away.
The tale of Balthazar was simple but eloquent His union with Marguerite, in spite of the world’s obloquy and injustice, had been blest by the wise and merciful Being who knew how to temper the wind to the shorn lamb.