Still the lovers floated up and down the Riva, their feet on clouds, their heads in the heavens. Never a day did he miss, and always with a wave of her hand to me as they passed: down to Malamocco on Sundays with another girl as chaperon, or over to Mestre by boat for the festa, coming home in the moonlight, the tip of his cigarette alone lighting her face.
One morning—the lovers had only been waiting for their month’s pay—Luigi came sailing down the canal to my lodgings, his gondola in gala attire,— bunches of flowers tied at each corner of the tenda; a mass of blossoms in the lamp socket; he himself in his best white suit, a new red sash around his waist—his own colors—and off we went to San Rosario up the Giudecca. And the Borodinis turned out in great force, and so did all the other ’inis, and ’olas, and ’ninos—dozens of them—and in came Loretta, so beautiful that everybody held his breath; and we all gathered about the altar, and good Father Garola stepped down and took their hands; and two candles were lighted and a little bell rang; and then somebody signed a book—somebody with the bearing of a prince—Borodini, I think—and then Luigi, his rich, sunburned face and throat in contrast with his white shirt, moved up and affixed his name to the register; and then a door opened on the side and they all went out into the sunlight.
I followed and watched the gay procession on its way to the waiting boats. As I neared the corner of the church a heavily-built young fellow ran past me, crouched to the pavement, and hid himself behind one of the tall columns. Something in his dress and movement made me stop. Not being sure, I edged nearer and waited until he turned his head. It was Francesco.
The skies were never more beautiful that May, the blossoms of the oleanders and the almond trees never more lovely. Not only was my own canal alive with the stir and fragrance of the coming summer, but all Venice bore the look of a bride who had risen from her bath, drawn aside the misty curtain of the morning, and stood revealed in all her loveliness.
The sun shone everywhere, I say, but to me its brightest rays fell on a garden full of fig trees and flat arbors interwoven with grapevines, running down to the water where there was a dock and a gondola— two, sometimes,—our own and Vittorio’s—and particularly on a low, two-story, flat-roofed house,—a kaleidoscope of color—pink, yellow, and green, with three rooms and a portico, in which lived Vittorio, a bird in a cage, a kitten-cat and the Rose of the Shipyards.
It is a long way round to my canal through San Trovaso to the Zattere and across the Giudecca to Ponte Lungo, and then along the edge of the lagoon to this garden and dovecote, but that is the precise route Luigi, who lived within a stone’s throw of the couple, selected morning after morning. He always had an excuse:—he had forgotten the big bucket for my water cups, or the sail, or the extra chair; and would the Signore mind going back for his other oar? Then again the tide was bad, and after all we might as well row down the lagoon; it was easier and really shorter with the wind against us—all nonsense, of course, but I never objected.