“Man or devil—who are you?” they asked in hushed whispers.
He answered them by letting his monk’s robe slip from his shoulders. As the robe fell, they beheld a figure clad in crimson velvet and corselet of burnished gold; the figure of a man whose superb limbs had been the envy of the swordsmen of Italy; whose face, lighted now with a sense of power and of victory, was a face for which women had given their lives.
“It is the Prince of Iseo,” they cried, and, saying it, fled from the house of doom.
At that hour, those whose gondolas were passing the Palazzo Pisani observed a strange spectacle. A priest stood upon the balcony of the house holding a silver lamp in his hand; and as he waited, a boat emerged from the shadows about the church of San Luca and came swiftly toward him.
“The Signori of the Night,” the loiterers exclaimed in hushed whispers, and went on their way quickly.
* * * * *
Very early next morning, a rumor of strange events, which had happened in Venice during the hours of darkness, drew a great throng of the people to the square before the ducal palace.
“Have you not heard it,” man cried to man—“the Palazzo Pisani lacks a mistress to-day? The police make their toilet in the boudoir of my lady. And they say that the lord of Pisa is dead.”
“Worse than that, my friends,” a gondolier protested, “Andrea Foscari crossed to Maestre last night, and the dogs are even now on his heels.”
“Your news grows stale,” croaked a hag who was passing; “go to the Piazzetta and you shall see the head of one who prayed before the altar ten minutes ago.”
They trooped off, eager for the spectacle. When they reached the Piazzetta, the hag was justified. The head of a man lay bleeding upon the marble slab between the columns. It was the head of the Marquis of Cittadella.
In the palace of the police, meanwhile, Pietro Falier, the Captain, was busy with his complaints.
“The lord of Pisa is dead,” he said, “the woman has gone to the Convent of Murano; there is a head between the columns; Andrea Foscari will die of hunger in the hills—yet Gian Mocenigo goes free. Who is this friar that he shall have the gift of life or death in Venice?”
His subordinate answered—
“This friar, Captain, is one whom Venice, surely, will make the greatest of her nobles to-day.”
BY GEO.B. McCUTCHEON
IN WHICH A YOUNG MAN TRESPASSES
“He’s just an infernal dude, your lordship, and I’ll throw him in the river if he says a word too much.”
“He has already said too much, Tompkins, confound him, don’t you know.”
“Then I’m to throw him in whether he says anything or not, sir?”