At last, weary of vain efforts, his soul filled with despair at seeing the whole burden of their subsistence falling on Ginevra, it occurred to him to make use of his handwriting, which was excellent. With a persistency of which he saw an example in his wife, he went round among the layers and notaries of Paris, asking for papers to copy. The frankness of his manners and his situation interested many in his favor; he soon obtained enough work to be obliged to find young men to assist him; and this employment became, little by little, a regular business. The profits of his office and the sale of Ginevra’s pictures gave the young couple a competence of which they were justly proud, for it was the fruit of their industry.
This, to the busy pair, was the happiest period of their lives. The days flowed rapidly by, filled with occupation and the joys of their love. At night, after working all day, they met with delight in Ginevra’s studio. Music refreshed their weariness. No expression of regret or melancholy obscured the happy features of the young wife, and never did she utter a complaint. She appeared to her Luigi with a smile upon her lips and her eyes beaming. Each cherished a ruling thought which would have made them take pleasure in a labor still more severe; Ginevra said in her heart that she worked for Luigi, and Luigi the same for Ginevra.
Sometimes, in the absence of her husband, the thought of the perfect happiness she might have had if this life of love could have been lived in the presence of her father and mother overcame the young wife; and then, as she felt the full power of remorse, she dropped into melancholy; mournful pictures passed like shadows across her imagination; she saw her old father alone, or her mother weeping in secret lest the inexorable Piombo should perceive her tears. The two white, solemn heads rose suddenly before her, and the thought came that never again should she see them except in memory. This thought pursued her like a presentiment.
She celebrated the anniversary of her marriage by giving her husband a portrait he had long desired,—that of his Ginevra, painted by herself. Never had the young artist done so remarkable a work. Aside from the resemblance, the glow of her beauty, the purity of her feelings, the happiness of love were there depicted by a sort of magic. This masterpiece of her art and her joy was a votive offering to their wedded felicity.
Another year of ease and comfort went by. The history of their life may be given in three words: They were happy. No event happened to them of sufficient importance to be recorded.
At the beginning of the year 1819 the picture-dealers requested Ginevra to give them something beside copies; for competition had so increased that they could no longer sell her work to advantage. Madame Porta then perceived the mistake she had made in not exercising her talent for “genre” painting, which might, by this time, have brought her reputation. She now attempted portrait-painting. But here she was forced to compete against a crowd of artists in greater need of money than herself. However, as Luigi and Ginevra had laid by a few savings, they were not, as yet, uneasy about the future.