A few days,—but they will be sweet through the sorrow! A few days,—every hour of which seems an era to the infant, over whom bend watchful the eyes and the heart. From its waking to its sleep, from its sleep to its waking, is a revolution in Time. Every gesture to be noted,—every smile to seem a new progress into the world it has come to bless! Zanoni has gone,—the last dash of the oar is lost, the last speck of the gondola has vanished from the ocean-streets of Venice! Her infant is sleeping in the cradle at the mother’s feet; and she thinks through her tears what tales of the fairy-land, that spreads far and wide, with a thousand wonders, in that narrow bed, she shall have to tell the father! Smile on, weep on, young mother! Already the fairest leaf in the wild volume is closed for thee, and the invisible finger turns the page!
By the bridge of the Rialto stood two Venetians—ardent Republicans and Democrats—looking to the Revolution of France as the earthquake which must shatter their own expiring and vicious constitution, and give equality of ranks and rights to Venice.
“Yes, Cottalto,” said one; “my correspondent of Paris has promised to elude all obstacles, and baffle all danger. He will arrange with us the hour of revolt, when the legions of France shall be within hearing of our guns. One day in this week, at this hour, he is to meet me here. This is but the fourth day.”
He had scarce said these words before a man, wrapped in his roquelaire, emerging from one of the narrow streets to the left, halted opposite the pair, and eying them for a few moments with an earnest scrutiny, whispered, “Salut!”
“Et fraternite,” answered the speaker.
“You, then, are the brave Dandolo with whom the Comite deputed me to correspond? And this citizen—”
“Is Cottalto, whom my letters have so often mentioned.” (I know not if the author of the original MSS. designs, under these names, to introduce the real Cottalto and the true Dandolo, who, in 1797, distinguished themselves by their sympathy with the French, and their democratic ardor.—Ed.)
“Health and brotherhood to him! I have much to impart to you both. I will meet you at night, Dandolo. But in the streets we may be observed.”
“And I dare not appoint my own house; tyranny makes spies of our very walls. But the place herein designated is secure;” and he slipped an address into the hand of his correspondent.
“To-night, then, at nine! Meanwhile I have other business.” The man paused, his colour changed, and it was with an eager and passionate voice that he resumed,—
“Your last letter mentioned this wealthy and mysterious visitor,—this Zanoni. He is still at Venice?”
“I heard that he had left this morning; but his wife is still here.”
“His wife!—that is well!”
“What know you of him? Think you that he would join us? His wealth would be—”