Infomotions, Inc.Andrea Delfin / Heyse, Paul, 1830-1914

Author: Heyse, Paul, 1830-1914
Title: Andrea Delfin
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): andrea; delfin; andrea delfin; venice; paul heyse; gondola; gunther olesch; countess; canal; tribunal; signore andrea
Contributor(s): Pullen, Michael [Translator]
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 35,649 words (really short) Grade range: 10-12 (high school) Readability score: 62 (easy)
Identifier: etext3156
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Andrea Delfin, by Paul Heyse (1830-1914)
Translated by Gunther Olesch in 2000.
(C) 2000 Gunther Olesch.
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Andrea Delfin, by Paul Heyse (1830-1914)
Translated by Gunther Olesch in 2000.
(C) 2000 Gunther Olesch.
You may enjoy this text for your personal pleasure.
Any commercial exploitation requires the translator's consent.

Title:  Andrea Delfin

Author:  Paul Heyse

Translator:  Gunther Olesch

Release Date: April, 2002  [Etext #3156C]
[Yes, we are about one year ahead of schedule]
[The actual date this file first posted = 01/14/01]

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Andrea Delfin, by Paul Heyse (1830-1914)
Translated by Gunther Olesch in 2000.
(C) 2000 Gunther Olesch.
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Any commercial exploitation requires the translator's consent.

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Andrea Delfin, by Paul Heyse (1830-1914)
Translated by Gunther Olesch in 2000.
(C) 2000 Gunther Olesch.
You may enjoy this text for your personal pleasure.
Any commercial exploitation requires the translator's consent.

**This is a COPYRIGHTED Project Gutenberg Etext, Details Above**

Andrea Delfin  (1859)

by Paul Heyse  (1830-1914)

Translated by Gunther Olesch in 2000 from the HTML files available

Translator's Comments

Paul Johann Ludwig Heyse was born on March 15, 1830, in Berlin.
His father was a professor of philology and his mother was a
relative of Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, the composer.  Thus, Paul Heyse
grew up in an atmosphere of appreciation for the fine arts.  He
studied classical philology, art history, and Romance philology,
obtaining his doctorate in 1852, and became a widely respected
authority on literature.

In 1910, Paul Heyse was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature and
was ennobled as Paul von Heyse.  He died on April 4, 1914, in

Trying to find out whether English translations of Paul Heyse's
work were already available, I turned to the online catalog of the
Library of Congress.  Aside from many German editions, I found the
following books, which seem to contain English translations:

1867-68 Good stories ...  [various authors:  N.Hawthorne,
       F.J.O'Brien, H.Zschokke, P.J.L.Heyse, W.M.Thackeray.]
1867 L'Arrabiata and other tales.  Tr. by Mary Wilson.
1870 The solitaires.  A Tale.
1878 In paradise; a novel.
1879 Tales from the German of Paul Heyse.
1881 Doomed.
1881 Fortnight at the dead lake, and Beatrice.
1882 Barbarossa, and other tales.
1882 L'Arrabiata, and other tales.
1882 The witch of the Corso.  Tr. by George W. Ingraham.
1883 Children of the world.
1886 Selected stories.
1888 Words never to be forgotten and The donkey.  Tr. by Abbie
       E. Fordyce.
1890 Masterpieces of German fiction.  [various authors:  R.Lindau,
       F.Lewald-Stahr, E.Eckstein, A.v.Wilbrandt, P.J.L.Heyse,
1894 The children of the world.  New ed., rev.
1894 At the ghost hour.  The forest laugh.
1894 At the ghost hour.  Mid-day magic.  Tr. by Frances A. Van
1894 At the ghost hour.  The fair Abigail.  Tr. by Frances A. Van
1894 At the ghost hour.  The house of the unbelieving Thomas.  Tr.
       by Frances A. Van Santford.
1894 Children of the world.
1894 A divided heart, and other stories.  [A divided heart.--
       Minka.--Rothenburg on the Tauber.]  Translated into English
       with an introduction by Constance Stewart Copeland.
1900 Mary of Magdala:  a drama in five acts.  Tr. by Alexis Irénée
       du Pont Coleman.
1902 Heyse's L'Arrabbiata in English, ed. Warren Washburn Florer.
1902 Mary of Magdala; an historical and romantic drama in five
       acts, adapted in English by Lionel Vale.
1903 Mary of Magdala; an historical and romantic drama in five
       acts, the translation freely adapted and written in English
       verse by William Winter.
1916 L'Arrabbiata, literally tr. by Vivian Elsie Lyon.

The most striking aspect of this list is that it ends in 1916.  It
seems as if for the larger part of the 20th century no English
translations of Paul Heyse's stories have been published.
Perhaps, my translation of "Andrea Delfin", contained in this
file, might inspire someone to dig up some of those older
translations and to prepare them as etexts for the Project

According to,
Andrea Delfin, written in 1859, is part of a series of novellas,
which Paul Heyse had published between 1855 and 1862 in four

The story of "Andrea Delfin" is set in 18th century Venice and
contains a few, mostly Italian, expressions which might require an
explanation.  I have looked up the most important ones and
compiled a very short list here:

bora:  A strong, cold wind, blowing from the mountains to the
       Adriatic Sea.
Bridge of Sighs:  The bridge on the east side of the Doges'
       Palace, leading across a narrow canal to the prisons.
doge:  Duke, the head of state in Venice from 697 to 1797.
felucca:  A small ship with two masts, equipped with sails as well
       as oars, a smaller type of galley.
faro:  A game of cards, also spelled "pharaoh" in English.
lido:  A sandbank, which separates the lagoon of Venice from the
       sea.  There are several settlements on these sandbanks
       (but the one called Lido did not exist yet at the time of
       this story).
Piazzetta:  A small square near the Piazza San Marco.  The
       administration of the Venetian republic resided in the
       buildings surrounding these squares.  The entrance to the
       Piazzetta was the ceremonial landing spot for high
       officials and is marked by two massive granite columns.
procurator:  One of the nine highest ranking officials in Venice,
       among which the doge was elected.
Procurators' Offices:  These buildings are on the northern and
       southern sides of the Piazza San Marco.
Angelo Querini:  This is not a fictional character, but an actual
       historic person.
Rialto:  A corruption of "Rivo Alto", this is the oldest and most
       central part of Venice.
sbirro:  A member of the secret police.
signoria:  The highest public authority in Venice.
tarock:  A game of cards, usually played by three people with a
       deck of 78 cards.
Terraferma:  The land under the control of Venice, outside of the
       city itself.  It stretched from the borders of Milan in the
       west to the Istrian Peninsula in the east and from the Alps
       in the north to the Po River in the south.
zecchino:  A gold coin (ducat), produced in Venice since 1284,
       until the beginning of the 19th century.


Andrea Delfin

A Venetian novella

by Paul Heyse

Original title:  Andrea Delfin, eine venezianische Novelle

[Translated by Gunther Olesch in 2000]

In that Venetian alley which bears the friendly name of "Bella
Cortesia", there was, in the middle of the past century, the
simple, one-story house of a common family;  over its low portal,
framed by two wooden spiral columns and a baroque ledge, resided
an image of the Madonna in a niche, and an eternal flame flickered
humbly behind its red glass.  Entering the lower corridor, one
would have found oneself at the foot of a broad, steep staircase,
which, without any bents, went straight up to the rooms upstairs.
Here also, a lamp burnt day and night, which hang by shiny,
delicate chains from the ceiling, since daylight could only enter
inside, whenever the front door happened to be opened.  But in
spite of this everlasting gloom, the staircase was the place where
Signora Giovanna Danieli, the owner of the house, liked to sit the
most.  Since the death of her husband, she inhabited the inherited
house together with Marietta, her only daughter, and let a few
unneeded rooms to quiet lodgers.  She maintained that the tears
she had cried for her dear husband had weakened her eyes too much
to be still able to withstand direct sunlight.  But the neighbours
said about her that the only reason for her continued presence at
the top of the stairs, from morning until nightfall, was to enable
her to start a conversation with everyone leaving or entering the
house and not to let him pass, before he had payed his dues to her
curiosity and her talkative nature.  At the time when we are now
about to make her acquaintance, this could hardly have been the
reason for her preferring the hard seat of the stairs over a
comfortable armchair.  It was in August of the year 1762.  For
half a year, the rooms she used to let were empty, and she had
only little contact with her neighbours.  Furthermore, night had
already fallen, and a visit at this time of day would have been
quite unusual.  Nevertheless, the little woman sat persistently at
her post and thoughtfully looked down the empty corridor.  She had
sent her child to bed and had placed a few pumpkins by her side,
to take out the seeds before she would go to sleep.  But all kinds
of thoughts and ideas had made her forget her task.  Her hands
rested in her lap, her head was leaning against the banister;  it
had not been the first time that she had fallen asleep in this

Today, it had almost happened to her again, when three slow, but
forceful, thumps to the front door suddenly made her start.
"Misericordia!" said the woman, as she was getting up, but
remained standing there motionlessly, "what's this?  Have I
dreamt?  Could it really be him?"

She listened.  The thumps of the knocker were repeated.  "No," she
said, "it isn't Orso.  His knocks sounded differently.  It aren't
the sbirri either.  Let's see what heaven sends."  - With these
words, she sluggishly walked down the stairs and asked without
opening the door who would wish to enter.

A voice answered that there was a stranger outside, looking for
lodgings here.  The house had been highly recommended to him;  he
hoped to stay for a long time and the landlady would probably be
satisfied with him.  All of this had been said politely and in
good Venetian, so that Signora Giovanna, in spite of the late
hour, did not think twice before opening the door.  The appearance
of her guest justified her confidence.  He wore, as far as she
could make out in the gloom, the decent, black garments of the
lower middle class, carried a leather portmanteau under his arm,
and held the hat modestly in his hand.  Only his face made the
woman wonder.  It was not young, not old, the beard was still dark
brown, the forehead without wrinkles, the eyes lively, but the
expression of his mouth and the way he talked was tired and worn
out, and the short hair was, in a strange contrast with his still
youthful features, completely gray.

"Kind woman," he said, "I've disturbed you in your sleep, and
perhaps even in vain.  For, let me say it right away, if you have
no room with a window above the canal, I won't be your lodger.
I've come from Brescia, my physician has recommended the damp air
of Venice to me for my weak chest;  I've been told to live above
the water."

"Well, thank God!" said the widow, "so here, for a change, comes
someone who'll respect our canal.  Last summer, I've had a
Spaniard, who moved out, because, as he said, the water had a
smell as if rats and melons had been cooked in it!  And it has
been recommended to you?  We do say here in Venice:

  "The channel's water will
  harshly cure what's ill.

"But this has a hidden meaning, sir, an evil meaning, considering
how often, at the command of the rulers, a gondola has set out to
the lagoon with three persons on board and returned with only two.
Let's not talk about this any more, sir - God save us all!  But is
your passport in order?  Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to let you

"I have already shown it three times, kind woman, in Mestre, out
on the lagoon at the guard's gondola, and at the Traghetto.  My
name is Andrea Delfin, my profession is that of a notary's legal
clerk, as which I've worked in Brescia.  I'm a calm person and
never liked having any business with the police."

"Just the better," said the woman, walking up the stairs again,
ahead of her guest.  "It's better to be unharmed than to be
mourned, one eye on the cat, the other on the pan, and it's more
useful to be afraid than to suffer the loss.  Oh, those times we
live in, Signore Andrea!  One shouldn't think about it.  Thinking
shortens one's life, but worry unlocks the heart.  There, look,"
and she opened a large room, "isn't it pretty in here, isn't it
homely?  There, the bed, I've sown it with my own hands, when I
was young, but in the morning one wouldn't know the day.  And
there's the window going out to the canal, which isn't wide as you
can see, but runs just the more deeply, and the other window over
there is going out to the little alley, but you'll have to keep it
shut, for the bats are getting more and more of a pest.  Look
there, on the other side of the canal, you can almost reach it
with your hand, it's the palace of Countess Amidei, who's as blond
as gold, and is just as frequently handed from one man to another.
But here I'm standing and chatting, and you've neither any light
nor water, and you'd also be hungry."

The stranger had inspected the room throughly with one swift look,
as soon as he had entered;  he had gone from one window to the
other, and then, he threw his portmanteau onto an armchair.
"Everything's perfect," he said.  "We'll surely agree on the
price.  Just bring me a bite to eat and, if you should have any, a
small glass of wine.  Afterwards, I want to sleep."

There was something strangely commanding about his gesture, in
spite of the mild sound of his words.  Hastily, the woman obeyed
and left him alone for a short time.  Now, he instantly stepped
back up to the window, leant out, and looked down at the very
narrow canal, which showed no movement of its black waters, and
thus by no means revealed that it had its share in liveliness of
the great sea, in the breaking waves of the ancient Adriatic Sea.
The palace on the other side rose before him as a heavy mass, all
windows were dark, since the front was not facing the canal;  only
a narrow door opened to this side, down below, closely above the
face of the waters, and a black gondola had been chained to a pole
before its threshold.

All of this seemed to conform very well to the wishes of the new
arrival, who also did not seem less pleased with the fact that
through the other window, facing the blind alley, nobody would be
able to look into his room.  For on the other side ran a
windowless wall without any other interruptions than a few ledges,
cracks, and cellar-holes, and only cats, martens, and owls would
have regarded these gloomy nooks as pleasant and habitable.

A ray of light shone into his chamber from the corridor, the door
was opened and, holding a candle in her hand, the small widow
entered again, followed by her daughter, who hurriedly had to get
out of bed again, to assist her in welcoming the guest.  The
girl's stature was almost even smaller than her mother's, but
nevertheless seemed, due to her most extreme daintiness and the
hardly matured slenderness of all shapes, taller and as if she was
gliding along on the tips of her toes, while in her face the
resemblance, except for the differences accounted for by her age,
was recognisable at the first sight.  Only the expression on both
faces seemed to be incapable of ever taking on any similarity.
Between the dense eyebrows of Signora Giovanna, there was a tense
trait, as if she was sorrowfully waiting for something, which even
all experiences of growing older would not be able to place
permanently on Marietta's clear brow.  These eyes always had to be
smiling, this mouth always had to be a bit open, to release any
humorous remark without delay.  It was infinitely cute to see how
now, in this pretty face, cunningness, surprise, curiosity, and
wantonness fought with one another.  Upon entering, she tilted her
head, the loose braids of which where wrapped in a scarf, to the
side, to see the new fellow inhabitant of their house.  Even his
serious demeanour and his gray hair did not reduce her high
spirits.  "Mother," she whispered, while putting a large plate
with ham, bread, and fresh figs onto the table, "he has a strange
face, like a new house in winter, when the snow has fallen onto
the roof."

"Be quiet, you evil witch!" the mother said swiftly.  "White hair
gives false testimony.  He's ill, you know, and you ought to be
respectful, because illness arrives on horseback, but leaves on
foot, and may God protect you and me, for the ill eat little, but
the illness devours everything.  Just get a little bit of water,
as much as we've still got.  Tomorrow, we'll have to get up early
and buy more.  Look, there he's sitting, as if he was asleep.
He's tired from his journey, and you're tired from sitting still.
This is how different things are in this world."

During this quiet conversation, the stranger had been sitting by
the window, holding his head in his hand.  Even after he had
looked up, he hardly seemed to notice the presence of the dainty
girl, who was bowing to him.

"Come on, and eat something, Signore Andrea," said the widow.  "He
who doesn't eat his supper will suffer hunger in his dreams.
Look, the figs are fresh, and the ham is tender, and this is wine
from Cyprus, just as good as what the doge would drink.  His
cellarer has sold it to us himself, an old acquaintance of my
husband.  You've travelled, sir.  Didn't you happen to meet him
some time, my Orso, Orso Danieli?"

"Kind woman," said the stranger, pouring a few drops of wine into
the glass and cracking open one of the figs, "I have never
travelled beyond Brescia and don't know anyone by this name."

Marietta left the room, and she could be heard singing a song to
herself in her clear voice, while rushing down the stairs.

"Do you hear the child?" asked Signora Giovanna.  "One might think
that she wasn't my daughter, though even a black hen might lay a
white egg.  Always singing and jumping about, as if this wasn't
Venice, where it's a good thing that the fish can't talk, for
otherwise they'd tell thing, which would make your hair stand on
end.  But her father was just the same, Orso Danieli, the foreman
of Murano, where they make these colourful glasses, like nowhere
else in the entire world.  `A joyful heart gives red cheeks,' this
was what he always used to say.  And therefore, he said to me one
day, `Giovannina,' he said, `I can't stand it here any more, the
air of Venice is choking me, just yesterday, another one has been
strangled and hung up on the gallows by his feet, because he's
been speaking out freely against the inquisition and the Council
of Ten.  Everyone knows where he's been born, but not where he'll
die, and there are many who think they'd be riding high on their
horses, though they're sitting on the ground.  So, Giovannina,' he
said, `I want to go to France, my craft will win me favours, and
petty cash chases the big money.  I know my trade, and once I'll
have made it out there, you'll join me with our child.'  - She was
eight years old then, Signore Andrea.  She laughed, when she
kissed her father for the last time;  this made him laugh, too.
But I cried, so he had to cry along, though he left quite happily
in the gondola, I even still heard him whistling, after he had
already turned around the corner.  One year passed.  And what
happened?  The signoria asked where he was;  nobody from Murano
was allowed to practice his craft abroad, so that the tricks of
the trade wouldn't be copied;  I was told to write him, that he
should return or face the death penalty.  He laughed about the
letter;  but the gentlemen of the tribunal didn't think that this
was funny.  One morning, when we were still in bed, they came for
me, and the child as well, they've dragged us up to the cells
under the lead roofs, and I had to write him again where I was, I
and our child, and that I would stay there, until he came
personally to Venice to get me out.  It didn't take long, until I
received his answer, he didn't feel like laughing any more, and
he'd follow the letter as fast as his feet would carry him.  Well,
I hoped daily that he'd make it true.  But weeks and months
passed, and the pain in my heart as well as the sickness in my
head grew more and more, for it's hell up there, Signore Andrea,
my only comfort was the child I had with me, who didn't comprehend
any part of this misery, except that she ate little, and felt hot
during the day;  but nevertheless, she sang, to cheer me up, so
that I was utterly overwhelmed to hold back the tears.  Only after
three months, we were released;  they said the glass-blower Orso
Danieli had died in Milan from a fever, and we could go home.
I've heard others say so, too - but he who'd believe this, doesn't
know the signoria.  Dead?  Would a man die when he has a wife and
a child sitting under the lead roofs and is supposed to get them

"And what do you think, happened to your husband?" asked the

She gave him a look, which reminded him that the poor woman had
lived under the lead roofs for several long weeks.  "It isn't
right," she said.  "There are many who are alive and still don't
return, and many are dead, but do return.  But let's not talk
about that.  Indeed, if I'd tell you, who'd give me the guarantee
that you wouldn't go ahead and tell the tribunal all about it?
You look like a galantuomo;  but who's still trustworthy,
nowadays?  One in a thousand, none in a hundred.  No offence,
Signore Andrea, but you might know what we say here in Venice:

  "With lies and tricks you will not die,
  With tricks and lies you will get by."

There was a pause in the conversation.  A while ago, the stranger
had already pushed the plate aside and had eagerly listened to the

"I can understand," he said, "that you don't want to confide your
secrets in me.  Furthermore, they are none of my business, and I
wouldn't know how to help you anyhow.  But why, good woman, do you
nevertheless put up with this tribunal, under which you have
suffered so much, you and the entire people of Venice?  For I do
know little about the local situation - I never took a deep
interest in political matters - but still I've heard that much
that just last year, there was an rebellion in this town, which
sought to abolish the secret tribunal, that even one of the
aristocrats spoke out against it, and that the Great Council
elected a commission to deliberate the matter, and that everyone
was very excitedly arguing for and against it.  Even in my office
in Brescia, I've heard about it.  And when, in the end, everything
remained the same and the power of the secret tribunal came out
stronger than ever, why did the people light bonfires then in all
of the squares and mocked those aristocrats, who had voted against
the tribunal and now had to fear its revenge?  Why was there no
one to prevent the inquisition from banishing its bold enemy to
Verona?  And who can tell whether they'll let him stay alive
there, or whether the daggers have already been sharpened to
silence him forever?  I - as I've already said - know only little
about this;  I also don't know this man, and I feel very
indifferent about everything which happens here, because I'm ill
and probably won't stay in this colourful world for much longer.
But I'm nevertheless astonished to see these fickle people, which
one day call those three men their tyrants and rejoice the next
day, when those perish who wanted to put an end to this tyranny."

"The way you talk, sir!" said the widow and shook her head.
"You've never seen him, that Signore Avogadore Angelo Querini, who
has been banished for declaring war against the secret justice?
Well so, sir, but I've seen him, and the other poor people have
so, too, and they all say that he was an honest gentleman and a
very learned man, who has studied the old stories of Venice, day
and night, and knows the law like a fox knows the pigeonry.  But
whoever had seen him cross the street or standing in the Broglio
with his friends, leaning against a column with his eyes half
closed, knew that he was a nobile from the feather on his hat down
to the buckles on his shoes, and whatever he said and did against
the tribunal, he didn't do for the people, but for the high and
mighty gentlemen.  But the sheep don't care, Signore Delfin,
whether they are slaughtered or devoured by the wolf, and

  "When the hawk fights with the kite,
  The chickens can be free tonight.

"You see, my dear, that's why there was so much joy at their
failure, when all of the tribunal's rights were confirmed and it
wouldn't have to answer to anybody, just as before, except for God
Almighty on judgement day and their own conscience every day of
their lives.  In Canale Orfano, there lie, out of the hundreds who
have prayed their last Ave there, ten poor men next to ninety
noble gentlemen.  But supposed, aristocratic criminals and common
ones would be sentenced and executed in public by the Great
Council - misericordia!  - we'd have eight hundred hangmen instead
of three, and the big thief would hang the little one."

It seemed as if he wanted to reply, but uttered nothing more than
a short laugh, which the landlady interpreted as an affirmation.
At this moment, Marietta entered again, carrying a pitcher of
water and a fumigating pan, on which pungently smelling herbs were
smoldering and blowing their fumes into her face, so that, as she
coughed, cursed, and rubbed her eyes, she made the cutest
gestures.  With small steps, she carried the fumigant closely by
all four walls, which were covered by a huge number of flies and

"Get yourself away from there, you scoundrels," she said, "you
bloodsuckers, worse than lawyers and doctors!  Would you also like
to eat figs before bedtime and enjoy a sip of Cypriot wine?  You
might as well laugh if you did and afterwards show your gratitude
by stinging this gentleman all over his face, when he's asleep,
you sneaky murderers!  Just wait, I'll feed you with something
which shall put you to sleep without supper."

"Do you always have to babble on, you godless creature?" said the
mother, who was following every movement of her darling with
overjoyed looks.  "Don't you know that an empty barrel makes the
loudest sound, and that she who talks much, says little?"  -
"Mother," the girl said laughingly, "I have to sing a lullaby for
the gnats, and look how it works!  Here, they are already dropping
off the wall.  Good night, you loafers, you worst of all company,
not paying any rent and yet peeking into all pots.  I'll take care
of you tomorrow again, if you didn't get enough today."

She once again swung the almost burnt out herbs over her head as
if she was casting a spell and poured the ashes into the canal;
then, she made a quick bow towards the stranger and rushed out of
the room as swiftly as the wind.

"Isn't she a witch, an ugly, naughty creature?" said Signora
Giovanna, while getting up and starting to leave as well.  "And
yet, every female monkey likes her little monkey.  And besides,
however little and useless she may be, to the same extent she's
also eager to help out, and it has also been said about her:

  "Before the mother bends her back,
  The herb is plucked, in the girl's sack.

"If I hadn't the child, Signore Andrea!  But you want to sleep,
and I'm still standing here, chatting away like a soup, cooking
noisily over a hot fire.  Sleep well, and welcome to Venice!"

Unemotionally, he returned her greeting and did not seem to notice
that she was obviously still expecting him to make a kind remark
about her daughter.  When he was finally alone, he continued
sitting at the table for some time, and his face grew more and
more gloomy and pain-stricken.  The light burnt on a long wick,
those flies which had managed to evade Marietta's witchcraft,
besieged the overripe figs in black clusters;  outside, in the
blind alley, the bats were flying against the window and collided
with the bars - the lonely stranger seemed to be dead to
everything around him, and only his eyes were alive.

Only after the clock in the tower of a nearby church had struck
eleven, he rose mechanically and looked around.  The pungent fumes
of the fumigating herbs moved along the ceiling of his low chamber
in gray strands and the smoke from the candle joined the cloud
above.  Andrea opened the window going out to the canal, to
cleanse the air.  In doing so, he saw a light on the other side,
coming from a window, which was only half covered by a white
curtain, and through the gap, he could clearly observe a girl,
sitting at a table with a bowl and hastily devouring the remains
of a large pie, putting the pieces into her mouth with her
fingers, and drinking once and again from a small crystal bottle.
Her face had a frivolous, but not enticing expression, being no
longer in her earliest youth.  Her negligent clothing and
partially undone hair had something calculating and intentional
about it, which was nevertheless not an unpleasant sight.  She
must have noticed already a while ago that the room on the other
side had got a new inhabitant;  but though she now saw him at the
window, she calmly continued her feast, and only when she drank,
she first swung the little bottle in front of herself, as if she
was greeting someone who would drink with her.  When she was
finished, she put the empty bowl aside, pushed the table with the
lamp on it against the wall, so that all of the light now fell on
a wide mirror in the back of the room, and began to try on one
costume after another from a colourful pile of clothes for a
masquerade, which lay on an armchair, standing in front of the
mirror, so that the stranger, to whom she had turned her back, had
to see her reflection just the more clearly.  She seemed to like
herself rather much, wearing those disguises.  At least, she most
approvingly nodded to her reflection, smiling at herself, showing
her brightly gleaming teeth and lips, frowning to act out a tragic
or longing expression of her face, and secretly looking sideways
towards her observer during all of this, also keeping an eye on
him in the mirror.  When the dark figure remained motionless and
kept her waiting for the desired signs of applause, she became
irritated and prepared her main assault.  She tied a large, red
turban around her temples, from which, attached to a shiny brooch,
a heron's feather stuck out.  The red colour actually complemented
her yellow taint very well, and she gave herself a deep bow of
appreciation.  But when, even now, everything continued to remain
quiet on the other side, she could not keep her patience any
longer, and hastily, still wearing the turban on her head, she
stepped to the window, pushing the curtain all the way back.

"Good day, Monsù," she said politely.  "You're my neighbour now,
as I can see.  I only hope that you don't play the flute like your
predecessor, who kept me awake half of the night."

"Beautiful neighbour," said the stranger, "I won't bother you with
any kind of music.  I'm an ill man, who also prefers not to be
disturbed in his sleep."

"So!" - the girl replied in a stretched out tone of voice.
"You're ill?  But are you at least rich?"

"No!  Why do you ask?"

"Because it's so terrible to be ill and poor at the same time.
Who are you, anyway?"

"Andrea Delfin is my name.  I used to be a clerk at the court in
Brescia and am looking for a quiet job with a notary, here."

This answer seemed to completely disappoint all of her hopes for
the new acquaintance.  Lost in thought, she played with a golden
necklace, she wore around her neck.

"And who are you, beautiful neighbour?" asked Andrea in a tender
tone, which completely contradicted the motionless expression of
his face.  "To have your charming sight so close to me, will
comfort me in my sufferings."

She apparently felt satisfied, since he now turned to that tone
which she had a right to expect.

"To you," she said, "I'm Princess Smeraldina, who is granting you
the permission to long for her favour from afar.  Whenever you'll
see me putting on this turban, this shall be a sign for you that
I'm inclined to chat with you.  For I'm more bored than I could
bear, considering my youth and my charms.  You must know," she
continued, suddenly dropping out of character, "that my mistress,
the countess, won't permit me at all to have even the slightest
love affair, though she herself changes her lovers more frequently
than her shirts.  She says that she had always thrown her
confidante and chamber-maid out of her services as soon as she
would have attempted to serve two masters, her and the little
winged god.  I now have to suffer under her prejudice, and if I
wouldn't find some other satisfaction here, and if there wasn't,
from time to time, a kind stranger living over there in your room,
who'd fall just a little bit in love with me..."

"Who's the current lover of your mistress?" Andrea interrupted her
in an unemotional tone.  "Does she receive the high aristocracy of
Venice?  Are the foreign ambassadors among her regular guests?"

"They usually come wearing masks," Smeraldina replied.  "But I
know that much that young Gritti is her favourite, she likes him
more than any other before for as long as I've been in her
service;  even more than the Austrian ambassador, who courts her
so ridiculously much.  Do you know my countess, too?  She's

"I'm a stranger here, dear girl.  I don't know her."

"You should know," the girl said with a clever face, "she wears a
lot of make-up, though she isn't even thirty, yet.  If you'd like
to see her some time, nothing's easier than that.  A board can
bridge the distance between your window and mine.  You'll climb
across, and I'll lead you to a place where you'll be able to
observe her quite clandestinely.  The things I'd do for a
neighbour!  - But for now, it's good night.  I'm being summoned."

"Good night, Smeraldina!"

She closed the window.  "Poor - and ill," she said to herself,
while pulling the curtains completely shut.  "Oh well, still good
enough to kill the boredom."

He had also closed the window and was now pacing up and down his
room in slow strides.  "It's good," he said, "it fits well into my
plans.  If it should come to the worst, I'll be able to use it to
my advantage as well."

The expression of his face proved that a love-affair was the
furthest thing from his mind.

Now, he unpacked the portmanteau, which contained only little
laundry and a few prayer-books, and put everything into the
cupboard, standing by the wall.  One of the books fell to the
floor, and the stone plate made a hollow sound.  Instantly, he put
out the light, locked the door, and started to examine the floor
more closely in the dusk created by the distant shimmer of
Smeraldina's lamp.  After some work, he succeeded in lifting the
stone plate, which had been lodged into place to fit precisely,
but without the use of any mortar, and he discovered a rather
spacious hole underneath, as deep as the size of a hand and one
foot wide in both directions.  Swiftly, he threw off his outer
garments and removed a heavy belt with several pockets, which he
had worn around his waist.  He had already placed it inside the
hole, when he suddenly stopped to think.  "No," he said, "it could
be a trap.  It wouldn't be the first time for the police to have
such hiding places in rented apartments, to know later on, when
searching the premises, where they'd have to poke at.  This is
just too enticingly arranged to be trustworthy."

He lowered the stone plate back into its place and searched for a
safe container for his secrets.  The window to the blind alley had
bars in front of it, wide enough for an arm to fit through.  He
opened it, reached outside, and groped along the wall.  Directly
under the ledge, he found a small hole in the wall, which bats
seemed to have inhabited in the past.  It could not be noticed
from below, and from above, it was covered by the ledge.  Without
making a noise, he widened the opening with his dagger, breaking
out mortar and bricks, and soon, his work had progressed so far
that he could easily fit the wide belt inside.  When he was
finished, his brow was covered with cold sweat.  Once again, he
tried to feel, whether there was no strap or buckle hanging out of
the hole, and then he closed the window.  One hour later, he lay,
still fully dressed, on the bed and slept.  The gnats were buzzing
over his face, the birds of the night were curiously flapping
about the hole outside, in which his treasure lay hidden.  But the
sleeping man's lips were closed too tightly, to betray any word of
his secrets, even in his dreams.

The same night, a man was sitting in Verona by his lonely lamp and
was unfolding, after having carefully locked the shutters and the
door, a letter, which had been secretly handed to him today in the
dusk by a Capuchin begging for alms, while he had been promenading
near the amphitheatre.  The letter bore no external inscription.
But being asked how the messenger would know that he was putting
the letter into the right hands, the monk had answered:  "Every
child in Verona knows the noble Angelo Querini like his own
father."  Having said this, the messenger had left.  But the
banished man, whose exile had been eased by the respect which had
followed him into his misfortune, had managed to bring the letter
back to his lodgings, unnoticed by the spies watching him, and he
now read, while the steps of the guard in front of the house
echoed menacingly through the silence, the following lines:

"To Angelo Querini.

"I have no reason to hope that you will remember the fleeting
hour, when I met you in person.  Many years have passed since
then.  I had grown up with my sister and my brother in the rural
peace of our estate in Friaul;  only after I had lost both of my
parents, I left my sister and my younger brother.  After just a
few days, the seductive maelstrom of Venice had swallowed me

"Then, one day, I was introduced to you in Morosini Palace.  I
still feel your glance, examining us young folks, one after
another.  Your eyes said:  `and this is supposed to be the
generation on whose shoulders the future of Venice shall rest?'  -
You were told my name.  Unnoticed by the others, you turned the
conversation with me to the great history of the state, to which
my ancestors had devoted their services.  Kindly, you failed to
mention the present and the services which I still owed this

"Since that conversation, I read day and night in a book, which in
the past I had not even regarded worthy of a single glance, the
history of my native country.  The result of these studies was
that I, driven by horror and disgust, left this city forever,
which used to rule over foreign countries and seas, but was now
the slave of a deplorable tyranny, being as powerless in external
affairs as it is internally miserable and violent.

"I returned to my siblings.  I succeeded in warning my brother, in
revealing the corruption of life to him, which seemed to be
shining so brightly when seen from afar.  But I never thought that
everything I did to save him and us was to destroy us just the
more surely.

"You know the jealousy with which the rulers of the city have
always looked upon the aristocracy of the Terraferma.  Even in
times when it was regarded as an honour to serve the republic,
they had never stopped fearing that the Terraferma might sever its
ties with the city.  Now, after self-made and unavoidable evils
had brought about a change in the position of Venice in the world,
this fear became the source of the most outrageous intrigues and

"Let me keep silent about what I have witnessed of the fate of
those living in the neighbourhood of my province, about the
cunning means by which they had sought to crush the sovereignty
and independence of the aristocracy of Friaul, about the army of
bravi, which had been sent against those who refused to comply,
and which had been relieved even from the torments of their own
conscience by numerous decrees of amnesty.  How they sought to
bring disagreement into the families, to poison friendships, to
buy treason and betrayal even among those who were most closely
tied by kinship, all of this you found out even earlier than I.

"And not for long, the fact that my frivolous habits were
remembered in Venice even after I had left could protect me from
the suspicion that I also might, one day, pose a threat.  When I
asked on my sister's behalf for the permission for her to marry a
noble, German gentleman, the government categorically refused to
give its consent.  I and my brother were thought to be in
agreement with the Kaiser's politics, and they decided to punish
us for this.

"A complaint of the province against its governor, which I and my
brother had signed among others, provided the inquisition with the
pretext they needed to cast out their nets to catch us.

"My brother was summoned to Venice, to answer for himself.  As
soon as he had arrived, he was imprisoned under the lead roofs,
and for many months, they sought, at times with threats and at
times with seductive offers, to get a confession out of him.  He
had no reason to represent that one act we had committed in a more
favourable light;  it had been legal.  There was nothing else for
him to confess, since we had not committed any actions against the
state.  Thus, he finally had to be released.  But they did not
even consider to pardon him.

"I myself had asked him in a letter not to depart right away, to
avoid raising new suspicions.  We would rather be willing to miss
his company for another few months.  When he finally came, we were
to lose him for ever after just a few days.  He fell victim to a
slow acting poison, which had been mixed into his food in one of
these illustrious houses he used to visit.

"The stone over his grave had not even been set up yet, when the
governor of the province proposed marriage to my sister.  She
rejected him, feeling deeply offended by the proposal;  her pain
made her utter certain words, the echos of which were then to be
heard in the courtroom of the inquisition's tribunal.

"A new effort by the aristocracy of Friaul to improve the
conditions in the country was discussed.  I remained absent from
their secret endeavours, since I was convinced of their
fruitlessness.  But the guilty conscience of the rulers of the
republic made them think of me first, being the one who had been
affected the most, the one who had to avenge a brother.  At night,
a gang of hired bravi attacked our remote estate in the mountains.
I had only my servants for our defence.  When this scum found us
well armed and determined not to surrender thus easily, they set
fire to the house in all four corners.  Together with my people, I
carried out a desperate counter-attack with my sister, also
carrying a pistol, among us.  Then suddenly, a blow to the
forehead struck me down and rendered me unconscious.

"Only the next morning, I woke up.  The place was an abandoned
pile of ruins, my sister had perished in the blaze, some of my
faithful servants had been slain, some were driven back into the
burning house.

"For many hours, I just lay beside the smoking rubble and stared
into the empty void, as which my future appeared before me.  Only
when I saw peasants in the valley, coming up towards mountain, I
picked myself up.  One thing I knew:  For as long as I was
believed to be alive, I would be regarded as an enemy and would be
pursued to wherever I might go.  The burning tomb was spacious
enough;  if I was to disappear, nobody would doubt that I also
rested in there with those who had been close to me.  Wandering
aimlessly about the rocky mountainside, I found a wallet belonging
to one of my servants, who had been born in Brescia and had
travelled to all kinds of places.  His papers were in it;  I took
them, just in case, and fled through the dense, craggy forest.  I
met no one, who would have been able to betray me.  When I knelt,
parched with thirst, by a murky lake in the forest, I saw that my
appearance could not betray me either.  My hair had turned gray
during the night;  my features had aged by many years.

"Arriving in Brescia, I could pass for my servant without any
problems, since he had left the town when he was still a boy and
no longer had any relatives there.  For five years, I lived like a
criminal who would shun the light of day and avoided the company
of other men.  My spirit had been clouded by a feeling of
powerlessness, as if that blow which had struck me down had
shattered whatever organ had been in charge of my willpower.

"That it had not been destroyed, but only paralysed, I felt when
the news of you speaking out against the tribunal arrived.  With a
feverish excitement, which rejuvenated me and let me become aware
of the energy of my living soul again, I followed the reports from
Venice.  When I heard about the failure of your high-minded
venture, I fell back into the old, mind-numbing depression for
just a short moment.  In the next moment, something like a
fire-storm penetrated all of my senses.  My decision had been
made, to carry out the work, which you had been unable to perform
by the open means of justice and the law, by means of violence and
a horrifying kind of self-defence, with the arm of the invisible
judge and avenger for the salvation my precious native country.

"Since then, I have incessantly examined this decision and found
that my intentions could not be condemned.  I am solemnly aware of
the fact that it is not hatred against those persons, not revenge
for the pain I have suffered, not even the just sorrow for the woe
which has come over my loved ones, which arms my hand against the
tyrants.  What moves me to take on the task of saving an entire
enslaved people and to execute the sentence by myself, which in
other times the collective will of a free nation used to pronounce
over unjust rulers, who are out of the reach of the arm of a
judge, - this is neither selfishness nor the vain lust for fame;
it is merely a debt I owe for having spent my youth in idleness,
and which your look, when we were in Morosini Palace, admonished
my to pay.

"May God, whom I beseech to protect my cause, mercifully grant me,
as the only replacement for all He has taken from me, that in a
liberated Venice I shall once more be able to shake your hand.
You will not reject my blood-stained hand, which will thereafter
rest in no friend's hand any more;  for he who has performed an
executioner's duties has been consecrated to a lonely life and has
to shun the sight of his fellow men.  But if I should perish by my
deeds, he whose respect I care for the most will know that the
younger generation is also not entirely without men who know how
to die for Venice.

"This letter will be delivered to you by a reliable man, who has
exchanged the garments of a secretary of the inquisition for a
monk's cowl, to atone by means of fasting and prayer for the sins
of the republic, for which his pen had to serve.  Burn this page.
Farewell!  Candiano."

After the banished man had finished reading the letter, he sat
there for about one hour, regarding the fateful pages in deep
grief.  Then, he held them over the flame, scattered the ashes
into the fireplace, and restlessly paced up and down the room
until the early morning, while the unfortunate man, whose
confession he had read, had long since fallen asleep like someone
whose cause is just and who has heaven on his side.  - -

The next day, the late arrival of the street della Cortesia, left
the house early.  Marietta's happy singing outside in the corridor
might have let him sleep a while longer, but her mother's loud
scolding, rebuking her for making a racket which could raise a
dead man and would end up driving all guests out of the house,
encouraged him fully.  He tarried at the stairs, where his
landlady was already sitting at her usual post, just long enough
to inquire where a few notaries and advocates would live, whose
names a friend had written down for him in Brescia.  Once he had
got this information, neither the widow's affectionate worries
concerning his health, nor the red bow Marietta had put into her
hair, could move him to stay any longer, and though the good woman
at other times used to do her best to avoid any social contact of
the lodgers with her daughter, it now gave her an almost dreadful
feeling that the stranger was so persistently overlooking the dear
creature, the apple of her eye.  To her, his gray hair was only an
insufficient explanation of this strange blindness.  He had to
have a secret sorrow or feel thus ill that the sight of freshly
blossoming life would hurt him.  Nevertheless, he walked firmly
and swiftly, and his chest was broad and strong, so that the
illness, he had talked about, had to reside deeply within his
body.  The colour of his face also gave no rise to suspicion.
Striding through the streets of Venice, he attracted pleased looks
from many a woman's eyes, and Marietta also, watching him as he
left from one of the upper windows, was not without any feelings
for him.

But he tended to his business in a self-absorbed manner, and
though he had at length asked Signoria Giovanna for directions and
was finally comforted by her, concerning his ignorance of the
city, with the saying "Asking will get a person all the way to
Rome", he nevertheless now seemed to be able to find his way
through the network of alleys and canals without any help at all.
He spent several hours visiting advocates, but with them his
recommendation by a colleague from Brescia carried little weight,
and he seemed to strike them as suspicious on account of his
modest appearance.  For there was actually a certain pride in the
wrinkles of his forehead, telling anyone of the keener observers
that he, under other circumstances, would have regarded the work
he sought to be beneath his dignity.  Finally, he reached a
notary who lived in a side-alley of the Merceria and seemed to
engage in all kinds of shifty business on the side.  Here, he
found a place as a clerk at a very modest salary, just on a trial
basis, and the hasty manner in which he accepted gave the man the
suspicion that he was facing an impoverished nobile, many of which
would be willing to do any kind of work, without haggling over the
price, just to be able to make a living.

But Andrea was evidently very content with the result of his
efforts and entered, since it was already noon, the next inn,
where he saw people from the lower classes sitting at long tables
without linen, who were spicing up their very simple meals with a
glass of turbid wine.  He took his seat in a corner near the door
and ate the slightly rancid fish without any complaint, while, on
the other hand, he left the wine untouched after having taken a
sip.  He was already about to ask for the bill, when he found
himself being politely addressed by his neighbour.  The man, whom
he had overlooked entirely until now, had already been sitting
there for a long time with his half bottle of wine, eating
nothing, only taking a sip once in a while, making a sightly wry
face every time;  but while he gave the impression of being so
tired that his eyes had to be half closed, his keen looks wandered
all across the large, gloomy room and stuck with particular
interest to our Brescian, who, on his part, had noticed nothing
remarkable about his observer.  He was a man in his thirties with
blond, curly hair, whose Jewish descent was not instantly
recognisable since he wore black Venetian garments.  In his ears,
he wore heavy, golden rings, on his shoes, buckles with large
topazes, while his collar was wrinkled and unclean, and his coat
of fine wool had not been brushed for weeks.

"The gentleman doesn't like the wine," he said in a low voice,
dexterously leaning over towards Andrea.  "The gentleman seems to
have wandered in here only by mistake, where they aren't
accustomed to waiting on guests of a better class."

"I beg your pardon, sir," Andrea replied calmly, though he had to
force himself to answer at all, "what would you know about my

"I can see it by the way you eat that you're accustomed to a
different kind of company than the one you would find here," said
the Jew.

Andrea examined him with a firm look, from which the other lowered
his spying eyes.  Then, a thought seemed to rise in him, which
suddenly caused him to approach this obtrusive man with some kind
of openness.

"You are a keen observer of your fellow men," he said.  "The fact
didn't escape you that I had once seen better days and drank an
undiluted wine.  I also had entered into the better circles of
society, though my family is from the lower middle class, and I
have only studied a tiny part of the law, without obtaining a
degree.  This has changed.  My father went bankrupt, I became
poor, and a poor law-clerk and assistant of an advocate has no
right to demand anything more than what he would find in this

"A learned gentleman has always a right to demand respect," the
other one said with a very obliging smile.  "It would make me
happy, if I could do a favour for Your Grace;  for I've always
sought the company of learned men, and in my many business
transactions, I've rather often had an opportunity to get close to
them.  With Your Grace's permission, I would like to suggest that
we should drink a better glass of wine than what we would be able
to get here..."

"I can't pay for any better wine," the other one said

"I would feel honoured to demonstrate Venetian hospitality to you,
sir, who seems to be a stranger in this city.  If there's any
other way I could also be of assistance to you, sir, with my
properties and my knowledge of the city..."

Andrea was just about to give him an evasive answer, when he
noticed the inn-keeper, who stood in the back of the room at the
bar, motioning him vivaciously with his bold head to come over to
him.  Among the other guests, consisting of craftsmen, market
women, and bums, there were also several who made clandestine
signs at him, as if they would have liked to tell him something,
which they could not have dared to say aloud.  Under the pretext
that he would want to pay his bill first, before he would respond
to this polite invitation, he left his seat and approached the
inn-keeper, asking loudly how much he would owe him.

"Sir," whispered the kind-hearted old man, "be on your guard
against that fellow.  You're dealing with a very bad character.
The inquisitors are paying him to spy out the secrets of all
strangers who might come in here.  Don't you see that nobody else
would want to sit in his corner?  They all know him, and the day
will come when he'll be thrown out the door, the God of Abraham
would give His blessing to that!  But I, though I have to tolerate
his presence or else I'd be in trouble, still feel obliged to tell
you the truth."  "I thank you, my friend," said Andrea aloud.
"Your wine is a bit turbid, but healthy.  Good day."

With these words, he returned to his seat, took his hat, and said
to his obliging neighbour:  "Come, sir, if you please.  They don't
like you here," he added more quietly.  "They think you're a spy,
as I've been able to notice.  Let's continue our acquaintance

The Jew's thin face turned pale.  "By God," he said, "they
misjudge me!  But I can understand why these people are so
watchful, for Venice is swarming with the bloodhounds of the
signoria.  My business affairs," he continued, when they were
already in the street, "all of my many connections lead me to so
many houses, so that it might appear as if I would pry into other
people's secrets.  May God let me live for a hundred years, but
what do all these strangers concern me?  As long as they pay what
they owe me, I'd be a dog if I'd talk badly about them."

"But I'd think, Signore - what is your name?"


"But I'd think, Signore Samuele, that you're thinking too badly
about those who spy out the plots and assassinations of the
citizens for the benefit of the state and who uncover conspiracies
against the republic before they can do any harm."  The Jew
stopped walking, grabbed the other one's sleeve, and looked at
him.  "Why didn't I recognise you right away?" he said.  "I should
have known that you couldn't have come to this miserable tavern by
accident, that I should have welcomed you as a colleague.  Since
when are you in office?"

"Me?  Since the day after tomorrow."

"What do you mean, sir?  Do you want to play a joke on me?"

"Truly not," Andrea replied.  "For I'm perfectly serious in my
plans to be accepted into your order as soon as possible.  I'm
badly-off, as I've told you, and I've come to Venice to improve my
conditions.  The salary I'm receiving since today as a clerk from
a notary is not what I had hoped to obtain here with a bit of good
luck and whatever little wits I've got.  Venice is a beautiful
city, a fun-loving city;  but there is a golden sound in the
laughter of the beautiful women which always reminds me of my
poverty.  I think, this can't go on like this forever."

"Your trust honours me very much," said the Jew with a thoughtful
expression.  "But I have to tell you that these gentlemen don't
like accepting strangers, who have just recently arrived in the
city, into their service, before they haven't passed a trial
period and haven't looked around a bit.  If I could help you out
with my purse until then - I take low interests from my friends."

"I thank you, Signore Samuele," Andrea replied indifferently.
"Your protection is more valuable to me, for which I'd like to ask
you hereby in the most sincere manner.  But this here is my house;
I won't intrude upon you by asking you inside, because I've still
more than enough work to do for my new employer.  Andrea Delfin is
my name.  When the time has come for me to be of any use, think of
me:  Andrea Delfin, Calle della Cortesia."

He shook the strange friend's hand, who kept standing outside for
a while longer, taking a close look at the house and the area
around it, while mumbling to himself with a face full of doubt and
cunning ideas, which revealed that he would not so quickly vouch
for the Brescian before he had not passed his trial period.

When Andrea ascended the stairs, he could not get past Signoria
Giovanna without answering to her.  She was not content with the
fact that he had only found such inferior employment.  She said
she would not rest until he had abandoned it and found a more
profitable and more honourable position.  He shook his head.  "It
will do, good woman," he said gravely, "for the little time I've
still left."

"What's this talk!" the woman scolded him.  "To approach the good
and to let the bad come by itself, that's the thing to do for a
man, and for honey you are licking, while the vermouth has you
spitting.  Look at the pretty sun outside, and be ashamed for
coming home thus early, while there's music on the Piazzetta and
those who are handsome, rich, and noble are strolling up and down
the Piazza San Marco.  Your place is among them, Signore Andrea,
not in this room."

"I'm neither handsome, nor rich, nor noble, Signoria Giovanna."

"Doesn't it give you any joy, to see the beautiful part of the
world?" she asked eagerly, looking around to see, whether Marietta
might, by any chance, be nearby.  "You wouldn't be lovesick?"

"No, Signoria Giovanna."

"Or might you even regard it as a sin to enjoy life?  There are
those little books, you've got lying on your table;  I'm just
saying this, because you're the first guest who has brought a
religious book into my house, let God hear how I lament this!  But
nowadays, the young people think:  Live audaciously and die
piously, this is the way to spoil the devil's fun, and around
Christmas time, even the sparrows on the roof are fasting."

"Kind woman," he said with a smile, "you're very worried about me,
but nobody would be able to help me.  When I'm sitting quietly at
my work, I'm feeling most comfortable, and you could do me a
favour by getting me an inkstand and a few sheets of paper."

Soon afterwards, Marietta brought what he had asked for to his
room, where he was sitting silently by the window, staring into
the empty space.  She found him in the same position, when she
brought him the light in the evening, and being asked by her what
he wanted to eat, he only ordered bread and wine.  She did not
have the courage to ask him, whether the gnats were bothering him
and whether he wanted to have the room fumigated again.  "Mother,"
she said, sitting down on the stairs next to the old woman, "I
won't go into the room again while he's there.  He has such eyes,
like the martyr in the small chapel of San Stefano.  I can't
smile, when he looks at me."

Whatever would she have said, if she had entered the room a few
hours later?  While the nightly winds were blowing across the
canal, he stood at the window, talking to the maid on the other
side, eagerly trying to give his eyes a worldly look.

"Beautiful Smeraldina," he said, "I couldn't bear waiting for the
time when I was to see you again.  Passing by a goldsmith's store,
I've thought of you and bought you a pin, a filigree, which is
certainly too inferior for you, and is still more genuine than the
brooch on your turban.  Open the window, then I'll throw it to
you, hoping that I'll soon take the same course through the air
and fall at your feet."

"You're very courteous," the girl said with a smile and caught the
gift, which he had wrapped in a piece of paper, with both of her
hands.  "Hey, what a good taste you've got!  And still you've said
you were poor?  Do you know that today I'm particularly in need of
some joy?  We had to bear a lot during the day, the countess is in
a bad mood.  Her lover, young Gritti, the senator's son, has
shunned her for a full twenty-four hours.  She has sent servants
to his house;  and there he had also gone missing, and they
believe that the tribunal had secretly picked him up and taken him
prisoner.  My countess is beside herself, she's receiving no
callers, she's lying on her sofa and weeping like an insane woman,
and she has hit me when I tried to comfort her."

"You've no idea what the young man has been accused of?"

"Not in the least, sir.  I'd furthermore vow to remain a virgin
forever, if he had even the slightest plot against the state on
his mind.  Good heavens, he was just barely twenty-three, and he
had his heart set on nothing else but my countess and perhaps also
gambling.  But those gentlemen of the inquisition know how to turn
cobweb into a rope, strong enough to strangle the strongest
throat, and who'd know whether it isn't, this time, only directed
against his father, the senator!"

"Speak more carefully of the highest authorities of this city,"
Andrea said quietly.  "They've been appointed by the wisdom of the
forefathers, and the foolishness of the grand-children shall not
touch them."

The girl looked at him to find out whether he had spoken in
earnest;  it was not easy to solve the enigma of his features.
"Stop it," she said, "you're getting serious, and I won't have it.
You haven't been here for a long time yet;  therefore, you're
respecting the old dignitaries, pronouncing and executing their
death sentences, who might seem very dignified when viewed from a
distance or as a painting.  But I've already seen them several
times at close range, at the faro table, when my countess was
keeping bank, and I can tell you, they are also just as human as
Adam was."

"This may be so, dear girl," he answered, "but they have the
power, and it is not a smart thing for a poor citizen like myself
to do, to have such an incriminating conversation here through an
open window.  If the news should be spread to bad houses that the
two of us regarded the justice incarnate of Venice as nothing
better than a handful of mortal human beings, you, my dear
Smeraldina, will be protected by the magic of your beauty;  but
I'll go the well-known path into a watery grave or will at least
exchange my quarters in the Calle della Cortesia for a much more
modest chamber in the wells [1] or under the lead roofs."

[1] The prisons under the bottom of the sea.

"Here, you can talk as you please," said the chamber-maid;  "there
are only a few windows opening onto the canal, and nobody has any
business there at this time of day.  Over on your side, there is
now nothing but the bare wall;  because whoever can afford a
better place wouldn't choose our murky sewage down there for a
mirror.  But do you know what I'm thinking?  You should come over
here for an hour or so;  this would surely make our chat more
comfortable, and a glass of wine, good muscatel from Samos, and a
game of tarock would very much sooth my nerves after the countess
having slapped me."

"I'd like to come," he said, "but it would be noticed, and my
landlady would hardly let me back in after midnight."

"Not like this," the maid laughed.  "Such a roundabout way isn't
necessary.  I've got a board here, which we can, without much
trouble, use to build a bridge.  After all, we could reach out for
each other's hands across the canal;  why shouldn't our feet do
the same?  Or do you get dizzy?"

"No, beautiful friend.  Just wait a moment, and I'll be ready."

Andrea put out the light, bolted the door of his room, listened
whether they were all asleep in the house, and then he went back
to the window.  Smeraldina seemed to be experienced in building
these kinds of bridges, for the board was at hand and, in a few
moments, the firm path was bridging the chasm, resting evenly and
safely on the ledge on both sides, being just barely wide enough
to support a man.  She stood on the other side, happily waving at
him.  Swiftly, he climbed onto the ledge, stepped onto the board,
assessing the depth with firm eyes, and with a single, calm step,
he had reached the window on the other side.  She caught him in
her arms as he jumped down, and her lips touched his cheek.  But
he preferred to put on a shy face and to pretend as if the
closeness of his girl-friend gave him the feeling of being
confined into the bounds of reverence, to which she reacted with
some astonishment.  The board was pulled back in, the cards and
the wine were taken from the cupboard, and a table was pushed in
front of the opened window, by which the strange couple took their
seats, conversing in confidence.  During all of this, the girl
kept on wearing the red turban, which had, while she was building
the bridge, slanted a bit to the back of her head, and she had
pinned Andrea's present, the filigree, daintily to her breast.

She was just helping herself to her second glass of wine and was
scolding her guest for drinking so slowly and not really getting
into the spirit of it at all, when a bell was forcefully rung
inside the house.

"Look," said the girl, getting up and throwing the cards away in
anger, "that's my life;  I never have a quiet hour!  First, she
sends me away, saying that she'd want to undress alone tonight,
and now she's disturbing me at such a late time.  But be patient
for just ten minutes, my friend;  I'll be back with you right

She slipped out, and he seemed to try to get over his loneliness.
He stepped to the window and took a keen look at the wall on the
other side between his window and the canal.  It was not more than
about twenty feet high;  almost everywhere, the limestone was
weathered due to the dampness, and the bare stones were rough
enough to enable him to climb up at them, if needs be.  Under the
maid's room, as he had already noticed on the first evening, some
stairs extended down to the water, and there was a small gondola
chained to the high pole on the side, so that a second gondola
would only barely be able to pass by.  All of this visibly
satisfied him.

"I wouldn't have been able to arrange it better for my purposes,"
he mumbled to himself.

Lost in thought, he looked down the canal, flowing between its
steep, windowless banks of houses in perfect darkness.  Then, he
saw a faint shimmer of light at its very end downstream, moving
closer, and, after a while, he heard the sound of oars striking
the water.  A gondola slowly came closer and stopped down below at
the stairs.  Carefully, the observer above leaned back, to avoid
being noticed, but was still able to see with half a glance that a
man rose from his seat and stepped onto the stairs.  The knocker
below sounded with three heavy blows, and soon afterwards, he
heard a voice inside the house, asking from behind the door who
would wish to enter.

"In the name of the exalted Council of Ten," was the answer, "open

The servant below instantly obeyed, and the waterfront entrance
closed again, after the nightly visitor had passed through.

Shortly afterwards, Smeraldina returned to her chamber, excited,
without her turban, and with blushed cheeks.  "Did you hear this?"
she whispered.  "Oh God, they'll take our countess away, they'll
strangle her, or drown her, and who'll then pay me the six months'
wages she owes me?"

"Rest assured," tender-hearted girl, he said swiftly.  "As long as
you've good friends, you won't be left on your own.  But you'd be
doing me a favour, if you'd want to hide me somewhere, where I
could hear what the high council wants with your mistress.  I
confess, that I'm curious, as a stranger may very well be.
Furthermore, I might be able to help you and the countess, since
I'm working for an advocate and, if things are turning towards a
public indictment, I'd like to offer my humble services."

She thought about it.  "I'd know an easy way to do it," she said.
"The place is safe, and I've been sitting there myself several
times, not trusting my ears.  But if it would nevertheless be

"Then, I'll take all the blame on myself, my love, and no one will
find out by which way I had gained entrance into the house.
Look," he continued, "here are three zecchini, just in case I
won't be able to thank you afterwards.  But if all goes well, you
shall see that I'll be happy to share what little possessions I've
got left with such a clever friend."

Without any ado, she put the gold into her pocket, swiftly opened
the door, and listened out into the dark corridor.  "Take your
shoes off," she whispered, "give me your hand and don't hesitate
to follow me to wherever I'll go.  Inside the house, they are all
asleep, except for the porter."

She put out her light and scurried ahead, through the corridor,
pulling him along by his hand.  They stepped through several
large, dark chambers;  then, the girl opened the door of a
ball-room, which was faintly lit by the dusky light coming in
through three high windows in the front side of the palace.  On
one side, a narrow staircase went up to the estrade where the
musicians would play.  "Walk softly!" the girl warned, "the stairs
creak a little.  I'm leaving you alone here.  Up there, you'll
find a crack between the panels, through which you'll be able to
see and hear sufficiently well.  For the reception-room of the
countess is right behind this wall.  When the visitor will be
gone, I'll come back to get you.  But don't you stir from this
spot, before I'll come."

Thus, she left him alone, and without hesitation, he climbed up
the few steps and softly groped his way along the wall, heading
for the strip of light, which came through the narrow crack.  The
large room was separated from the next chamber only by a wooden
wall, since, in times of greater splendour, both rooms had formed
a single, large festive hall.  The shimmering light came from a
silver chandelier, which stood below on the table in front of the
countess's couch, and cast the portraits on the wall only in a
flickering light.  Andrea had to get down on his knees, to be able
to look down into the room.  But however uncomfortable this
position was, many would surely have liked to take his place,
though they would have cared less for what he got to hear than for
what there was to see.

Even though the chamber-maid was right, saying that her mistress
was in the habit of using a lot of make-up, she probably did so
more for the sake of fashion, than because she would have had to
to be regarded as beautiful.  She sat on the couch, dressed as if
she had not expected such a late caller, the extremely ample hair,
with a slight touch of red in its colour, was loosened and
unstyled;  since she had wept, her eyes were glistening
wonderfully, with traces of her tears still being visible on her
full, pale cheeks.  The man, sitting opposite to her in an
armchair and turning his back to Andrea, seemed to observe her
keenly;  at least, he moved his head not very often and listened
to even the harshest words of the beautiful woman, without
interrupting her with a single gesture.

"Indeed," the countess said, and her features expressed the same
painful bitterness as the tone of her voice, "I'm truly astonished
that you still dare to show your face in here, after having
violated your most solemn promises in such a shameful manner.  Did
I perform so many a service for you, just to have you treat me
with such cruelty, such hostility, now?  Where have you put him,
my poor friend, the only one I cared about, and whom you've
promised to spare under all circumstances?  Was there no one but
him, to satisfy your desire to fill the void in your prisons?  And
what incriminating evidence have you found against him, what sin
has he committed against the mighty republic, for which there was
no lesser punishment than exile, and none other which would have
been less hard on me?  For I had openly admitted to you that I had
set my heart on him, and that whoever would but hurt a hair on his
head would be my enemy.  Return him to me, or I'll cut off all
ties with you, once and for all, and I'll leave Venice, to seek my
friend in exile, and make you feel how much you've lost by this
betrayal, this shameful act.  Oh, how could I ever allow myself to
become the instrument of your schemes!"

"You're forgetting, countess," said the man, "that we've got means
to prevent your escape, and that, even if it would be successful,
our arm is long and strong enough to be your ruin, wherever you
might have thought you had found a refuge.  Young Gritti has
deserved his punishment.  In spite of the warning we had given
him, he has kept in steady contact with the secretary of the
Austrian ambassador, a young man with knowledge of very
confidential matters.  The laws of Venice prohibit such a contact
most strictly, as you know well enough.  Furthermore, a letter by
Angelo Querini has been intercepted, in which the careless young
man is mentioned with some praise.  It was a fatherly disciplinary
measure to send him into exile, before he became even more guilty.
But at the same time, we know what we owe you, Leonora.  And
therefore, I've been sent to you, to give you this information and
some advice, how you, if you're reasonable, could repair the

"I'm tired," she said harshly, "of listening to your orders.  This
day has shown me that it'll be my ruin, sooner or later, if I
should put my trust in you and delude myself into believing that
for all of my sacrifices for your interests, I would ever get any
thanks, or even be protected from but the basest of insults and
humiliations.  I don't need you;  I don't want anything from you;
it's all over between me and the high government, who casts
friends as well as enemies aside with equally little

"Too bad," he interjected, "that you're still needed, that you're
still supposed to do something, and that, therefore, it can't be
over between us for now.  You'll understand, Leonora, that there
would be some objections against letting you, knowing about so
many secrets of the republic, travel into foreign countries, where
you might soon succumb to the wide-spread fad of our time to write
your memoirs.  Venice and you are inseparably connected, and you
have sufficiently proven that you possess a high intelligence,
taming your female whims, so that it won't take elaborate
persuasion to reconcile you once again with Venice."

"I don't want ho hear anything about a reconciliation!" she
exclaimed passionately, and, once again, tears came to her eyes.
"And what good would it do, if I wanted to?  I'm good for nothing,
I'm unable to grasp even the simplest thought, as long as I don't
have my poor Gritti."

"You shall have him, Leonora.  But not right away, since his
sudden return would foil our plan."

"And for how long shall I be patient?" she asked, regarding him
with a deploring look.

"This depends on you," he replied.  "How long will it take for you
to make a young man lie at your feet, who previously enjoyed the
reputation of a paragon of virtue?"

A hint of curiosity and interest became noticeable in her
features, which, just a moment ago, had expressed nothing but pain
and desperation.  "Whom are you talking about?" she asked.

"That German, who was a friend of Gritti, the secretary of the
minister from Vienna.  You know him?"

"I've seen him at the last regatta.  Gritti pointed him out to

"His master is a zero and he's the number one in front of it.  We
have reason to believe that he's secretly recruiting a large
following among our opponents and is seeking to exploit, for the
benefit of his sovereign, the discontent which the actions of
Querini have left behind.  He's unusually cunning.  Out of the
four observers, which we have taken on our pay-roll from among the
ambassador's own men, not a single one has delivered even the
smallest evidence into our hands yet.  The inquisitors are placing
all of their confidence in you, Leonora, that you'll find the key
to this well locked mind, as you have already successfully done
several times before.  There was no hope for this, as long as
Gritti was in the way.  His exile smoothens the path and, at the
same time, provides the pretext for you to approach this
inaccessible man, who will now surely be moved to greater
compassion towards his friend's girl-friend than before, since
you're both mourning the same loss.  The rest, I'll leave up to
the power of your charms, which were never more irresistible than
when they met with resistance."

She thought about it for a while.  Her face became brighter, her
eyes gained a daring, proud expression, her beautiful, full mouth
opened a bit, and an absent-minded smile wandered across her lips.
"You'll promise," she finally said, "that Gritti will be called
back right away, as soon as I've surrendered the other one to

"We promise."

"If that's so, it shall not be long, until I'll demand the
fulfilment of your promise."  She got up and threw away the
handkerchief, which had become wet from the tears she had cried in
the course of the day.  From his hiding-place, Andrea could only
observe her pacing up and down the room for a stretch of the way,
since the crack was too narrow to get a full view of the room.  He
admired her royal posture, while she, as if contemplating new
victories, walked slowly across the carpet of the chamber, her
eyes wide open, her hair thrown back from her white temples.  A
strange feeling startled him, when her gaze, aimlessly looking
about the upper part of the wall, brushed past him.
Involuntarily, he shrunk back, as if it had been possible for her
to discover him.

The man sitting in the armchair below got up, but seemed to be
immune to her charms, for he continued in the most calm and
business-like tone:  "The nuncio has frequented your house less
often in recent times.  You've been to candid about your worldly
tendencies, gambling in particular has taken too much room here.
We would appreciate it, if you'd, once again, feel some spiritual
needs and renew your once so busy acquaintance with his Eminence.
For some time, the close relations of the papalists with France
have become alarming."

"You can count on me," she replied.

"One more thing, Leonora.  The money we still owe you for the
supper with Candiano..."

She was petrified, as if she had been bitten by a snake, and
suddenly turned pale.  "By all saints," she said, "not a word
about this, never mention it again, and donate the rest of the
money to the church, they shall say Mass for his soul and - for
mine.  Whenever this name is mentioned, I always feel like hearing
a trumpet of judgement day."

"You're a child," said the man.  "The responsibility for this
supper is ours, not yours.  He was a criminal, and only his
connections and the respect he got obliged us to execute the
sentence in secret.  He has died quietly in his bed, and no one
was ever able to say that he had brought death with him, when he
left your house.  Or have you heard anything of the kind?"

She shivered and looked to the ground.  "No," she said.  "But at
night, I'm awakened by a voice, whispering it to me.  Oh!  If I
only hadn't done this one thing, not this one thing!"

"This is a passing delusion, Leonora;  you'll get over it.  I just
wanted to tell you this one thing:  the money is waiting for you
at Marchesi's.  Good night, countess.  I see that I've already
used too much of your time.  Sleep tight, and tomorrow, don't
cloud the sun of your beauty, but let it rise on the just as well
as the unjust.  Good night, Leonora!"

He made a little bow towards her and walked towards the door.
Just briefly, Andrea was able to see his face while he left.  His
features were cold, but not hard, a face without a soul, without
passions, only the expression of a powerful will governed the
forehead and his eyebrows.  He put on a mask and threw the black
cloak, which he had left at the entrance, around his shoulders.
Then, he left the chamber, without waiting for her goodbye.

In this very moment, Andrea heard the girl's voice down below in
the large room, quietly calling him to come down.  He obeyed,
after having had one last glance at the beautiful woman, who was
still standing motionlessly in the middle of the chamber and was
staring pensively at the door, through which the man had left.
Unsteadily, like a man who had suffered a stroke, he descended
from the estrade and followed, without speaking a single word, the
girl who was leading the way with swift, but quiet, steps.  In her
chamber, the light had been lit again, the wine was still on the
small table by the window, and nothing seemed to prevent them from
continuing their interrupted game.  But a frightening shadow had
come across the man's face, which even intimidated Smeraldina's
levity and quenched all of her hopes for this night.

"You're looking," she said, "as if you had seen ghosts.  Come on,
have a glass of wine and tell me what has happened.  After all,
they talked much more calmly than we had feared."

"Oh, certainly," he said, forcing himself to seem unemotional.
"Your mistress is very much in their favour, and there is even a
chance that you'll soon be payed the wages she still owes you.
Otherwise, they were talking so quietly that I understood only a
little, and now, I'm more than anything else very tired from
kneeling on those hard boards.  Next time, I'll appreciate your
wine more, my dear girl.  But tonight, I must sleep."

"You haven't even told me, whether you're thinking that she's just
as beautiful as all the other people say she is," said the girl
and tried to pout at her ungrateful, uncommunicative friend.

"As beautiful as an angel or a devil," he mumbled through his
teeth.  "I thank you, Madamigella, for enabling me to see her.
Another time, I'll be good and stay with you, since I've suffered
plenty tonight for my curiosity.  Good night!"

He leaped up onto the ledge and stepped onto the board, which she
had reluctantly put back over the chasm.  Standing up there, he
looked downstream along the canal, where in the distance, the
gondola's light was just now disappearing.  "Good night!" he
called out to her once more, before carefully descending from the
board into his room, while Smeraldina dismantled the bridge and
endeavoured in vain to explain how the strangers unusual
behaviour, his poverty, his generosity, his gray hair, and his
lust for adventure would fit together.

One week passed, without Smeraldina seeing any particular
consolidation in her relationship with her neighbour, whom she had
thought she had conquered.  Only once, after having got the porter
on her side, she let him in through the door at night and, wearing
a mask, conducted him to the small door on the waterside and
entered the gondola with him, which he personally propelled
through the dark labyrinth with slow strokes of the oar, in order
to finally float along openly on a Great Canal for an entire hour.
In spite of the good opportunity, he was not in a loving mood this
time either, while she was constantly chatting and was trying to
amuse him with tales from the world of the high society, in which
the countess played her part.  He was told that for the last few
days, the secretary of the Austrian embassy had been paying long
visits to her mistress, at which, undoubtedly, they were both
discussing how they could go about affecting a withdrawal of young
Gritti's exile.  She said that the countess was in a better mood
than ever and had given her generous gifts.  Andrea seemed to
listen to this only with half an ear and to concentrate solely on
steering the gondola.  Thus, even the girl had no objections when
her taciturn companion turned the boat around and, on the most
direct course, directed it back home.  Without making a sound, he
pushed the narrow vessel close to the pole, attached the chain
after they had disembarked, and asked for the key, in order to
lock it.  She gave it to him and had already gone through the
door when he called out to her that, in this haste, the small key
had slipped out of his hand and had fallen into the canal.  She
was actually upset about this, but in her usual, light-hearted
manner she comforted her friend, saying that a second key would be
likely to be found in the house, and this time, he could not help
but bid his farewell to her by giving her a casual kiss on the
cheek, when she let him out at midnight through the main portal of
the palace.

To his landlady, Signoria Giovanna, he said the next morning that
there had been a lot of work to be done for his employer, so that
they had to make use of the night.  This was the only time he
needed the key for the front door.  Usually, he was already back
at nightfall, only had some bread and wine, and put out his light
early, so that the good woman praised him all over the
neighbourhood as a paragon of hard labour and decent living.  Only
one thing she complained about:  that he would not conserve his
strength and that he, at his age, would not take part in any
permissable entertainment, which would cheer him up and prolong
his life.  Whenever she talked like this, Marietta was quiet and
look down into her lap.  As soon as the stranger was in his room,
she stopped singing, and quite generally gave the impression as
if, since the stranger's arrival, she had spend more time
pondering than she would previously have done in a year.

In the morning of the second Sunday which Andrea had spent in the
widow's house, the woman entered his room in a hurry with a
disturbed look on her face, dressed in her best clothes, just as
she had returned from church.  He sat at the table, was not fully
dressed yet, and read in one of his prayer-books.  His face was
paler than usually, but his eyes were calm, and it seemed as if he
disliked being disturbed in his meditation.

"What are you still sitting quietly in your room, Signore Andrea,"
she called out to him, "while all of Venice is up and about?
Hurry up and get dressed and go out into the street for yourself,
where you'll be able to see as many horror-stricken faces as there
are pieces of grain in a mill.  Holy Jesus!  That I've got to live
to see the day, and I've thought there was nothing else that could
happen in Venice to surprise me!"

"What are you talking about, good woman?" he asked in an
indifferent tone and put the book down.

She threw herself onto a chair and seemed to be very exhausted.
"All the way to the Piazzetta, the crowd has been pushing me," she
started again, "and there I saw the gentlemen of the Great Council
climbing in droves up the huge staircase in the court of the
Doges' Palace and the flags of mourning waving in the windows of
the Procurators' Offices.  Will you believe it?  Tonight, between
eleven and midnight, the most noble one of the three inquisitors
of the state, the venerable lord Lorenzo Venier, has been murdered
on the threshold of his own house."

"Has he lived to an old age?" Andrea asked calmly.

"Misericordia!  The way you talk!  As if he had merely died in his
bed.  But of course, you're no Venetian and can't understand what
this means:  a member of the inquisition has been murdered, one of
the tribunal.  This is worse than if it had been a doge, of whom
many have come to an unnatural death, for the tribunal has the
power, and the doge has the robe.  But the most horrible part of
it is this:  engraved in the dagger they've found in the wound it
reads:  `Death to all inquisitors';  all of them!  Do you
understand, Signore Andrea?  This isn't just some scoundrel being
payed by a bravo to do away with a single man, because he's
keeping him from a love affair, a powerful position, or something
else.  `This is a political murder,' my neighbour the spicer told
me, `and there is a conspiracy behind it and henchmen and that
Angelo Querini with his followers.'  He was rubbing his hands
while saying this, but I felt my heart shivering in my body, for I
don't want to say what I'm thinking, but I know:  an evil deed is
like a cherry, once one of them has been shook off a tree, twenty
more will come after the first, and this blood will cost much more

"Don't they have any lead pointing to the murderer, Signoria
Giovanna?  What good are those hundreds of spies, they are paying,
for the tribunal?"

"Not even the shadow of a lead," answered the widow.  "It was a
dark night, the bora was blowing, and on the Grand Canal, which
runs by his palace, there were no gondolas at all.  Then, all by
himself, he came home through one of the small alleys, and then,
that invisible hand struck him down, and he only lived long enough
to scare up the porter with his last sighs.  Then, there was a
deadly silence throughout the alley, and nobody was in sight.  But
I know what I know, Signore Andrea.  Do you want me to tell you?
You're decent and good and won't pass it on to anybody else and
won't bring new hardship upon me:  I know the hand which has
spilled this blood."

He looked at her firmly.  "Talk," he said, "if you've got to get
it off your chest.  I won't give you away."

"Don't you suspect anything?" she said, rising from her seat and
stepping up close to him:  "Haven't I told you that there are many
who are alive and don't return and many who are dead and still
return?  Do you know it now?  He hasn't forgotten about them
who've dragged his wife and his child under the lead roofs and
tortured them.  But, for God's sake, don't say a word about this!
If his spirit should have done it, the living would have to suffer
for it."

"And what reason do have to believe in this?"

She took a frightened look around the room.  "You should know,"
she whispered, "this house was haunted tonight.  I've heard
something rushing up and and down the walls, like the footsteps of
ghosts, I lay in bed and listened, and there was a noise, secretly
buzzing along the canal down below, and a rattling at your window,
and scared beasts scurried through the adjoining alley until long
past midnight.  Only after the the bell had struck one o'clock, it
was quiet;  I know just too well, who had disturbed them.  He
came, after he had done it, to greet us, since we hadn't been able
to say farewell."

His head had dropped to his chest.  Now, he got up and said that
he wanted to go out personally, in order to inquire what had
happened.  He had, as she would know, gone to bed early and had
been particularly fast asleep, so that all of this fuss had not
disturbed him.  And besides, she should keep it to herself, for it
was indeed dangerous to have received but a ghostly knowledge of
such a crime.  - Having said this, he got dressed in a hurry and
went out into the city.

Agitated and busy crowds had gathered in the alleys, in a way
which was even unusual for important holidays of the republic.
Quietly, coming from the centre of the city, hasty groups of
curious people moved through the narrow streets towards the Piazza
San Marco, and whoever did not join them was at least standing by
the door of his house, exchanging meaningful gestures and looks
with acquaintances who were rushing by.  It was plain to see that
something outrageous and horrible had both upset and stunned these
people, so that they were all following the general march without
an individual plan, most of all being eager to see the event with
their own eyes and to touch it with their hands.  Nobody talked
aloud, nobody laughed, whistled, or sighed even audibly;  it was
as if those honourable citizens felt the pile-work quaking, on
which the city of the lagoon had been built.

In a seemingly careless fashion, Andrea walked among the crowd,
his hat pulled deeply over his eyes, the hands placed on his back.
Now, he stepped out into the Piazza San Marco, where, in numerous
groups, all classes, intermingled with one another, had gathered
under the clear summer sky, while at the halls of the Procurators'
Offices the crowd streamed on, towards the Piazzetta, extending
out to the wide basin of the canal, which is dominated by the two
columns.  The old Doges' Palace rose majestically above the
agitated crowd.  Behind the arched windows and in the arcades,
weapons could be seen flashing in the sun, and a troop of soldiers
had taken their post by the entrance, forming a cordon and
presenting their arms to everyone who sought to enter the palace
without being a member of the Great Council.  For upstairs, in the
wide hall, the walls of which are painted with the heroic deeds of
the republic, the highest ranks of the nobility sat together in a
secret meeting, and the people, shyly crowding down below past the
heavy pillars of the old building, seemed to wait impatiently for
the result of the meeting;  whenever a nobile could be seen at a
window, they were all murmuring and pointing and staring up, as if
any moment, the verdict on the undiscovered perpetrator of this
sacrilegious crime would be pronounced from the balcony.  Andrea,
who had crossed the long rectangle of this public place all by
himself, was now also approaching the Doges' Palace, and in
passing, he had a look inside the church of San Marco, where he
saw the people standing tightly packed, even outside the portal,
and listening to the sermon.  Then, he managed to push his way
through the crowd, towards the two columns, and stood by the quay
of the Piazzetta, lost in gloomy thoughts, facing the busy
multitude of black gondolas, the jagged steel bows of which
reflected flashes of sunlight across the waves whenever they
turned about.  The Riva degli Schiavoni, which was to his left,
was also densely crowed with people full of expectation.  Behind a
Turk's turban appeared a red Greek fez, the picturesque cap of a
mariner from Chioggia, a triangular hat, or a powdered wig, and
likewise the various tongues could be heard chattering all
together, while the monotonous calls of the gondoliers, echoing
from the waterside, told even the blind that the Great Canal of
Venice flowed at their feet.

An open gondola, rowed by two servant wearing liveries with rich
golden embroidery, sped by;  a lady lay casually on the wide
upholstery, her head resting on her hand.  The fire of a large
diamond ring, flashed among the red shimmer of her hair;  her eyes
were fixed on the face of a young man, sitting opposite to her,
who was eagerly talking to her.  Now, she lifted her head up and,
with a proud look, examined the seething crowd on the Piazzetta
above.  "This is the blond countess," Andrea heard some of the
people say;  he had already recognised her from the start.
Shrinking back, as if her mere sight would incur doom, he turned
away and found himself looking at a familiar face, nodding at him
like an old friend.  Samuele stood behind him.

"Did you also go out for a change, Signore Delfin?" the Jew
whispered to him in his thin voice.  "In vain, I've sought to meet
Your Grace again in all those days since.  Your live is more
secluded than that of a pregnant woman.  If you'd like to come
with me to where my business is calling me, I could tell you
something which you might like to hear.  Come!  What are you
standing here for, like all those other fools, who believe the
Great Council would give birth to the salvation of the republic?
The rats in the ship won't make it afloat again, once it has run
aground.  The real pilots have better things to do, now, than to
chat.  But let's go away from here, I'm in a hurry, and we'll be
able to talk more comfortably in the gondola."

He hailed one of the taxi gondolas and pulled Andrea by the arm
along with him.  They embarked and sat under the black roof,
having a full view of the canal to the left and the right through
the windows of the narrow cabin.  "What do you have to tell me,
sir?" Andrea started.  "And where are you taking me to?"  "Don't
go to your notary tomorrow," said the Jew.  "It might be possible
that someone might come for you, to send you on an errand which
would be more profitable for you."

"What are you talking about, Samuele?"

"You know what has happened last night," the other man continued.
"It's an outrage, that twelve hours have past since a murder in
Venice, and no lead has been found, yet, pointing to the
perpetrator.  We have lost our credit with the signoria, with the
people, with the visitors from out of town, who used to believe
that the local police would perform miracles and have been
expecting some signs.  The Council of Ten thinks that they are
getting a bad service.  They'll look around for new eyes, which
would do a better job peering into all corners.  Your eyes,
Signore Delfin, shall, if you're still thinking as you did ten
days ago, soon get to read a finer hand that your notary's.
Therefore, stay at home tomorrow morning.  If there'll be
something and I'll be able to put a word in on your behalf, I'd be

"My mind is still unchanged;  but I almost doubt in my abilities."

"Hush, hush!" said the other one and shook his index finger.  "I'd
have to be a poor judge of a person's face, or you've got yours
under control, and he who's able to conceal what he's thinking has
already half guessed what kinds of thoughts others seek to

"And who'll decide whether they'll be able to use me or not?"

"You must pass an examination by the tribunal;  I can't do
anything more than tell them that I know you and that I regard you
as talented.  Until tomorrow, I think, the tribunal will be
complete again;  right now, the ten are sitting together and are
electing the third man.  I can tell you, they could give me a lot
of money to become an inquisitor of the state - I would still
reject the honour.  For the inscription on the dagger was not just
engraved to pass the boredom, and a soldier sitting on a mine
would eat his beard more calmly than one of the three rulers of
Venice since last night."

"Nevertheless, there's probably no doubt that the elected man will
take the office?  Or is he allowed to refuse?"

"Refuse!  Don't you know that the republic severely punishes
everyone who evades serving it?"

Andrea said nothing and watched the surface of the canal through
the hatch with a glum look.  Many black gondolas, too numerous to
see them all, went into the same direction between the palaces,
and there were quite a few which came towards them from the
Rialto.  Now, both groups met and crowded towards a wide flight of
stairs by the waterside, where they landed as quickly as they
could and put their passengers ashore.  It was Venier Palace and
the dead man lay upstairs.

One look and Andrea know where they were.  Using all of his
willpower, he kept his emotions under control and said:  "Do you
have any business here, Samuele, or are you just curious to see a
murdered inquisitor lain out on his bed of state?"

"I'm on duty," replied the Jew.  "But it could be useful for you
as well to come along.  I'll introduce you to some of my friends,
for one out of ten here knows what he's looking for.  But let's
pretend we wouldn't know each other.  You know, I'd bet, that
there are probably quite a few of the conspirators among these
mournful faces.  Who knows, perhaps the killer is just now
stepping out of one of these gondolas!  He wouldn't be stupid in
believing that he was safer here than anywhere else.  For I can
tell you:  In this very moment, the police are searching those
houses which ever struck them as suspicious, while everyone has
gone out, and the proverb is true:  The devil teaches to do it,
but not to conceal it."

With these words, he jumped out of gondola and was ready to assist
Andrea in getting out.  "Do you feel uncomfortable seeing a dead
man?" he asked.  "You aren't in very high spirits."

"You're mistaken, Samuele," Andrea answered quickly and looked
into his face, as if he could not care less.  "It is rather that
I'm grateful to you for helping me to overcome my indolence.  If
it wasn't for you, I would hardly be here.  Let's go upstairs, to
call on this important gentleman, who would hardly have received
us while he was still alive.  A stately domicile, which he has to
exchange for so very narrow quarters in such an untimely fashion!
I pity him indeed, though I've never laid eyes on him."

Walking side by side among the large crowd, they ascended the
staircase, shrouded in black, and looking down from its top, there
was the coat of arms of the house of Venier, dressed in crape,
commanding the crowd to silence in the absence of a porter.
Inside, in the largest hall, the catafalque had been set up under
a canopy, tall cypress-trees touched the ceiling high above,
candles on silver candelabra flickered as the air blew from the
water across the open balcony through the hall, and four servants
of the house of Venier, dressed in black velvet, with crapes
wrapped around their shiny halberds, were standing on guard like
statues at the four corners of the catafalque.  The corpse had
been covered with a velvet blanket;  the silver fringes touched
the floor.  The first thing the people saw of the dead man as they
entered the hall was his sharp profile with an angry and sad
expression, his closed eye turned towards the canopy.  Andrea
recognised these features.  In that night in Leonora's room, he
had firmly committed them to memory.  But no twitch of his mouth
nor of his eyes, which were keenly fixed on the dead man, revealed
that the avenger was facing his victim.  -

One hour later, Andrea came home.  Signora Giovanna received him
at the top of the stairs with an almost motherly concern, and
Marietta also seemed to have been anxiously expecting him.  They
told him that the sbirri had been searching his room in his
absence, but had found everything to be all right, matching the
favourable testimony which she, the landlady, had personally given
concerning her lodger.  The calm manner in which Andrea listed to
her report assured her completely that her fear had been
unnecessary and that the visit from the police had been a
formality rather than anything else.  The good woman impressed
numerous warnings and precautions on him, how he had to talk and
act to stay clear of any suspicion in these evil times.  "They'll
even tighten their control," the old woman sighed, "for they know
very well:  A gloved cat won't catch any mice, and that's also a
true saying, that the dead shall make the living see.  Therefore,
be careful, dear sir, and trust no one who'd approach you.  You
don't know the worst kinds of people yet, how kind-hearted they
can pretend to be, but believe in me:  For someone to double-cross
you, you've got to trust him first.  You'd better not eat at an
inn, but let us prepare for you at home whatever we can.  You're
looking exhausted.  Rest on the bed for a while;  you aren't
accustomed to walking around."

During all of this speech, Marietta gave him imploring looks and,
standing next to her mother, stared in his pale, serious face.  He
assured them that he was well, asked for bread and wine, and,
after it had been brought to him, was not seen for the rest of the

Early in the next morning, when he was still lying in bed, Samuele
entered his room.  "If you're interested," he said, "to pocket at
least fourteen ducats a month, so come with me;  all has been
arranged, and I think you won't go there in vain."

"Has the new inquisitor of the state been elected yet?" asked

"So it seems."

"And no lead on the conspiracy yet?"

"No lead yet.  The shock among the aristocracy is great.  They
lock themselves into their houses and suspect every visitor to be
a spy of the Ten or of the tribunal.  One after another of the
foreign ambassadors has called on the doge, made the most solemn
assurances of his outrage about the crime, and offered his help in
the discovery of the perpetrator.  From now on, the three men of
the tribunal will be even more secretive about their identities
than before, and, as I believe, a price shall be put on the
murderer's head, which would put a poor devil in the money for
quite a number of years.  Keep your eyes open, Signore Andrea!
Perhaps, we'll both soon drink a better wine together, than at
that time in that tavern!"

Without a word, Andrea had dressed, and was now following his
benefactor, who was incessantly chatting, to the Doges' Palace.
Samuele was well known here.  He knocked at an inconspicuous door
in the yard, whispered a word into the ear of the servant who
opened it, and politely let Andrea walk ahead of him up a small
staircase.  After they had walked through a long, almost dark
passage upstairs, and had answered to several men bearing
halberds, they were shown into a not so big chamber with a window,
which opened onto the yard and was half covered by a dark curtain.
In the back of the room, three men paced up and down, whispering
to one another, their faces covered by masks, under which only the
tips of their beards stuck out.  A fourth man, without a mask, sat
at a table and wrote by the light of a single candle.

He looked up, when Samuele appeared with Andrea on the threshold.
It seemed as if the three others were not paying any attention
to the visitors, but were rather busy in continuing their

"You're bringing the stranger, you told us about?" the secretary

"Yes, Your Grace."

"You may leave, Samuele."

The Jew bowed obediently and left the room.

After a pause, during which the secretary of the tribunal had
looked through some papers, which were lying in front of him, and
then had checked out the appearance of the stranger with a long
look, he said:  "Your name is Andrea Delfin;  are you related to
the Venetian nobili of the same name?"

"Not that I know of.  My family resided in Brescia for as long as
anybody can remember."

"You're living at the Calle della Cortesia with Giovanna Danieli;
you're wishing to enter the service of the exalted Council of

"I wish to devote my services to the republic."

"Your papers from Brescia are in order.  The advocate, for whom
you've worked for five years, recommends you as an intelligent and
reliable man.  Only concerning the six or seven years before you
came to him, there is no document whatsoever.  What have you been
up to in that long time, after your parents had died?  You haven't
spent it in Brescia?"

"No, Your Grace," Andrea replied calmly.  "I was in foreign
countries, in France, Holland, and Spain.  After I had spent my
small inheritance, I reluctantly had to become a servant."

"Your references?"

"They've been stolen from me, having been in a suitcase which
contained all of my possessions.  After this, I was tired of the
unsafe life of a traveller and went back to Brescia.  My employers
had found me suited for all kinds of secretarial work.  I tried my
luck with an advocate, and you can see the reference for yourself,
Your Grace, attesting that I've learned to work."

While he was saying this, in a quiet, submissive posture, his head
slightly bent forward and holding the hat in both hands, suddenly
one of the three masked gentlemen stepped closer to the table, and
Andrea felt a piercing look directed at him.

"What's your name?" asked the inquisitor with a voice revealing
his old age.

"Andrea Delfin.  My papers prove it."

"Consider that it means your death if you betray the exalted
tribunal.  Think about the answer once again.  What if I'd now say
that your name was Candiano?"

A short pause followed this word, the larvae of the
deathwatch-beetle could be heard digging through the timber-work
of the room.  Eight scrutinising eyes were fixed on the stranger.

"Candiano?" he said slowly, but with a firm voice.  "Why should I
be called Candiano?  I'd truly wish for it myself;  because, as
far as I know, the Candiano family is rich and noble, and whoever
bears this name doesn't need to earn his bread laboriously with
the pen."

"You've got a Candiano's face.  Furthermore, your manners point to
a better upbringing than what these papers attest."

"My face is not my fault, exalted gentlemen," replied Andrea with
decent openness.  As far as my manners are concerned, I have seen
all kinds of customs on my travels and improved my own as much as
I could;  I also haven't wasted any time in Brescia, but rather
used books to catch up on what I had missed in my youth."

By now, the two other inquisitors had stepped closer to that first
one, and one of them, whose red beard stuck out widely from under
the mask, said in a low voice:  "A resemblance, which I would not
want to deny, might deceive you.  But you know for yourself:  The
branch of the family which used to reside near Marano has died
out;  the old man has been buried in Rome, the sons did not
outlive him for long."

"This may be," replied the first one.  "But look at him and say,
whether it isn't just as if old Luigi Candiano had risen from his
grave, only being rejuvenated.  I've known him well enough;  we've
been elected to the senate on the same day."

He took the papers from the table and examined them carefully.
"You may be right," he finally said.  "The age wouldn't be match
up.  He's too old to be one of Luigi's sons.  If he had fathered
him before his marriage - we would be able to ignore it."

He threw the papers back on the table, gave the secretary a sign,
and stepped back to the window's niche with the others, quietly
continuing the interrupted conversation.  Nobody could read from
Andrea's eyes what a burden had, in this moment, fallen off his
soul.  The secretary started again.  "You understand foreign
languages?" he asked.

"I speak French and a little German, Your Grace."

"German?  Where have you learned this?"

"A German painter in Brescia has been a good friend of mine."

"Have you ever been to Triest?"

"For two months, Your Grace, doing business for my employer, the

The secretary got up and walked over to the three men by the
window.  After a while, he returned to the table and said:
"You'll be given the passport of an Austrian subject, who was born
in Triest.  With this, you'll go to the house of the Austrian
ambassador and ask for his protection, because the republic was
threatening to deport you.  You'll say that you had left Triest at
a young age and had gone to Brescia.  Whatever answer you may
receive, with some cleverness, this visit will be all you need to
get acquainted with the ambassador's secretary.  It is your task
to continue this relationship and to observe the secret contacts
of the court of Vienna with the aristocracy of Venice as much as
you can.  If you should discover the slightest thing which would
arouse your suspicion, you have to report it immediately."

"Does the high tribunal wish me to abandon my present position
with the notary Fanfani?"

"You won't change anything about the routine of your life.  For
the first month, your salary is only twelve ducats.  It is up to
your cleverness and caution to double the amount."

Andrea bowed to signalise that he agreed with everything.

"Here is your German passport," said the secretary.  "Your
lodgings are next to the palace of Countess Amidei.  It'll be easy
for you to start a relationship with her chamber-maid, the
expenses of which shall be refunded to you.  Whatever you'll find
out by these means about relationships the countess has with noble
Venetians, you'll report right here.  The republic expects you to
fulfil your task faithfully and conscientiously.  It will not bind
you by means of an oath, because you wouldn't have human blood in
your veins and would also laugh at heavenly justice, if the fear
of the earthy punishments we inflict wouldn't confine you to your
duty.  You are dismissed."

Andrea bowed once again and turned to the door.  The secretary
called him back.

"One more thing," he said, while unlocking a small box, which
stood on the table.  "Step closer, and take a look at the dagger
in this box.  There are large factories for weapons in Brescia.
Do you remember having seen any work resembling this one there?"

Controlling his emotions with his last bit of strength, Andrea
looked into the container, which the secretary held out to him.
He recognised the weapon just too well.  It was a double-bladed
knife, the handle, also made of steel, in the shape of a cross.
On the blade, which had not been cleansed from the blood yet,
these words were engraved:  "Death to all inquisitors of the

After a lengthy examination, he pushed the box back with a firm
hand.  "I do not recall," he said, "having seen a similar dagger
in the shops of Brescia."

"It's good."

The secretary locked the small box again and motioned him with his
hand to leave.  With slow steps, Andrea left the room.  The men
with the halberds let him pass;  like in a dream, he went along
the echoing corridor, and only when he had reached the dark
staircase, he allowed himself to sit down on the marble steps for
a moment.  His knees were close to failing him;  cold sweat
covered his forehead, the tongue stuck to his palate.

When he stepped out of the building, he took a deep breath,
bravely he held his head high, and returned to his decisive
posture.  Outside by the portal opening to the Piazzetta, he saw a
crowd standing closely together, eagerly reading a large poster,
which had been attached to one of the columns.  He also joined
them and read that by the Council of Ten, with the high permission
of the doge, a reward of a thousand zecchini as well a pardon from
exile or other punishment was promised to him who would be able to
inform on the murderer of Venier.  People were rushing from and to
the column, and only a few lurking faces persistently reappeared
again and again under the arcades, observing the faces of the
readers.  Andrea also did not escape their attention.  But with
the indifference of a completely uninvolved stranger, he left to
make room for other curious people, after quickly glancing over
the paper, and then, he calmly stepped into a gondola at the Grand
Canal, which was to get him to the hotel of the Austrian

When, after a lengthy ride, he got off in front of the palace,
situated in a rather remote part of the city, bearing the
two-headed eagle above the entrance, a tall, young man was just
using the knocker of the gate.  He looked around for the gondola,
and his serious features suddenly became cheerful.  "Ser Delfin,"
he said and extended his hand to Andrea, "to meet you here?  Don't
you remember me?  Have you already forgotten that night at the
Lago di Garda?"

"It's you, Baron Rosenberg!" replied Andrea and heartily shook the
right hand which had been extended to him.  "Are you going to stay
for a long time in Venice, or are you already getting your
passport here, to continue your travels?"

"Heaven knows," said the other one, "when my star will ever lead
me away from here, and whether I will welcome or curse it then.
But for my passport, I don't need to bother anybody, since I can
endorse it for myself.  For you ought to know, dear friend, that
you're talking to the secretary of His Excellency the Austrian
ambassador, which I'm truly not saying for the purpose of pushing
a wall of diplomacy between me and my dear travel-companion of
Riva, but in your own interest, good fellow, since not every
Venetian would wish to be regarded as an old acquaintance of

"I've nothing to fear," said Andrea.  "If I'm not bothering you,
I'll step inside with you for a moment."

"You wanted to see me, without knowing about me.  Whatever favour
the secretary of the embassy was supposed to do for you, your
friend will now perform for you just the more willingly, if it's
in his power."

Andrea blushed.  For the first time, he now felt all the
humiliation of the mask he wore in the company of a free man, who,
after a brief encounter several years ago, was approaching him
with so much friendship now again.  The passport of the man from
Triest, which he had in his pocket, burdened him like a weight of
lead.  But the practise he had in controlling his inner struggle
did not fail him this time either.  "I only wanted to make an
inquiry concerning a German commercial house," he said, "for here
in Venice, I hold the very modest position of a clerk, who has to
put up with having to perform all kinds of petty services for his
employer, the notary.  But since I wasn't much better of in
Brescia, and you nevertheless didn't regard me as too low to grant
me the company of yourself and your mother, I will, here as well,
boldly enter in your company;  most of all, you must tell me:  How
is this outstanding woman, whose venerable image, her moving love
for you, her great kindness for me, are still most vivid in my

The young man became serious and sighed.  "Come to my room," he
said.  "There, we can chat more confidentially."

Andrea followed him upstairs, and with the first look he had into
the cozy chamber, he caught sight of a large pastel painting,
which was hanging above the desk.  He recognised the shining eyes
and the rich hair or Leonora.  All seductive softness of youth and
of wantonness lay on these smiling lips.

The young man pushed two armchairs to the window, through which
the rather wide canal, the picturesque bridge, and, between the
houses on the other side, that wall of an old church behind which
the choir-stalls would be were all in view.  "Come," he said,
"make yourself comfortable.  Shall I send for wine or sorbet?  But
you aren't listening.  You're captivated by this unfortunate
painting.  Do you know whom it represents?  Do you know the
original, of which it is only a pale shadow?  But who in Venice
wouldn't know her?  Don't tell me anything about this woman.  I
know everything which is being said about her, and I believe
everything, and nevertheless I assure you in all earnestness that
even you, if you were standing in front of her, would think of
nothing out of all this, but rather you would thank God for not
entirely losing your five senses."

"Is this painting your property?" Andrea asked after a pause.

"No;  it used to belong to a more fortunate man, a handsome, young
Venetian, who, as she has personally confessed to me, had been her
idol.  This careless man dared to offer his friendship to me.  He
is paying for this crime in exile, and my punishment is now that
he has left me with this painting, and that I've seen the eyes of
the original crying for him."

While he was saying this, he stood in front of the painting and
regarded it with a doting, sad look.  Andrea observed him with the
deepest compassion.  His face was not handsome, he only seemed
attractive by means of the combination of the youthful softness of
his physique and the male sincerity and fire of the expressions of
his features.  The movements of his tall body also revealed
nobility and energy.  Andrea could not help but exclaim:  "How can
you, you too, love this woman, who is so unworthy of you!"

"Love?" replied the German in a strangely gloomy tone.  "Who told
you that I would love her as I used to love in Germany and which
is the only love worthy of that name?  Say that I'm obsessed by
her, that I'm wearing her shackles while gnashing my teeth and
moaning, and accept my confession that I'm ashamed of this
weakness and yet savour it.  Never before, I've felt how
meaningless all earthly bliss is compared to the feeling of having
one's back burdened by a yoke of one's own choosing, until it
bleeds, and to cast all male pride into the dust for a smile of
such eyes."

His face had turned red;  only now, he noticed that Andrea had,
for some time, turned away from the painting and was listening to
him with deep concern.

"I'm boring you," said Rosenberg.  "Let's talk about something
else.  What has happened to you in the meantime?  Why have you
left Brescia?"

"You haven't told me about your mother yet," Andrea changed the
subject.  "What a woman!  The most complete stranger would feel
the desire to venerate her like a mother."

"Go on," said the other man.  "Perhaps, your words will free me
from the evil spell, I have succumbed to.  It's not so that you
would tell me anything new.  But hearing from you what a mother
she is, and what an ungrateful child she has brought up in me,
will perhaps make me turn back to my duty.  Would you believe me
that I have already received the third letter from her in which
she implores me to leave Venice and to come to her to Vienna?
She's dreaming that a tragic fate was awaiting me here.  She
doesn't even suspect the worst fate to which I'm doomed;  and yet,
there is nothing else keeping me here but that woman, which I do
not dare, for anything in the world, to bring close to her
untarnished presence.  - But no," he continued, "I shouldn't be
too hard on myself:  It would indeed be difficult for me to obtain
a leave at this time.  My superior, the count, has persuaded
himself that I was indispensable for him, and especially now,
there's a lot of work to be done with which he wouldn't want to
burden himself.  It's not unknown to you that we're unwanted
guests here.  They don't want to open their eyes to that side
which might pose a real danger and foster the prejudice that the
power we represent had its hands in everything hostile which
happens in Venice.  They've even gone so far to blame us for the
murder of Venier, a crime which I despise from the bottom of my
heart just as much as I regard its instigators as shortsighted
politicians.  - After all, wouldn't you say so too, dear friend,"
he continued with untempered enthusiasm, perhaps also with the
intention to persuade one more person in Venice to speak out in
his favour, "wouldn't you say so too, that there's not even the
slightest prospect of achieving the goal, the overthrow of the
tribunal, by these criminal means?  Let's forget about the moral
aspects for a moment:  Is it in any way conceivable that such an
extensive conspiracy to commit these assassinations will remain a
secret here in Venice for as long as it would take for it to
achieve the goal of intimidating their enemies?"

"It is inconceivable," replied Andrea calmly.  "Whatever three
Venetians know, the Council of Ten knows.  It's just the more
astonishing that, this time, they are thus badly supplied with

"And now, let's suppose that the conspirators would succeed in
committing one murder after another as they please, which does
seem to be what they are up to, suppose they would get to the
inquisitors in spite of the secrecy surrounding them, and there
would finally be no one left who would dare to risk his life for
such a dangerous honour - what would be achieved by this?  An
aristocracy which is organised on such a monstrous scale as the
one of Venice requires, in order to prevail, in order to secure
itself against the tempestuous waves of the will of the people,
the firm dam of an everlasting dictatorship, which would have to
be reestablished again and again in milder or tougher forms.
After all, where are those elements from which a genuine republic
with free institutions could be formed?  You've got a ruling class
and a ruled class, sovereigns by the hundreds and mob by the
thousands.  Where are the citizens, without which a free
administration of a city is an impossibility?  Your nobili have
made sure that the common man has never matured enough to develop
a citizen's way of thinking, the feeling of being responsible, and
of having to make true, conscious sacrifices for great purposes.
They've never allowed the plebeians to get involved in matters of
the state.  But because the rule of eight hundred tyrants is too
sluggish, too much in disagreement, and wastes too much time with
idle banter to have a powerful effect on the outside world or on
internal matters, those gentlemen rather enslaved themselves and
put up with the yoke of an irresponsible triumvirate, which has at
least originated from among their midst.  They preferred seeing
their own peers falling victim to this triple-headed idol, without
any laws and legal rights, to a life unter the protection of laws
and rights, which would render them equal to the people."

"You're saying these things as they are," Andrea interjected.
"But do they have to stay like this?"

"Stay - or get worse.  Because, look, my dearest friend, how
terribly the blade of their weapon has turned against themselves.
As long as the republic had its role among the peoples of Europe,
the pressure of this constant dictatorship in internal affairs had
been compensated by the successes in external matters.  Without
bundling all of its strength in the hands of merciless tyrants,
Venice would never have flourished to this height of political
power and immeasurable wealth, which we still found growing up
until the past century.  As soon as these purposes were gone,
which could only justify such violent means, the bare tyranny in
all of its monstrosity remained and began, lest it should be idle
and realise that it had outlived its time, to direct its frenzy
towards its insides.  A dictatorship in peace, may it be ruled by
one or by three, it always a mortal danger for every large or
small state.  But here, the disease has become too old to be still
curable.  The germs of a genuine middle class of citizens, out of
which now a new life would have to grow for the republic, have
rotted by means of a system of terror, which had lasted for
centuries, by means of a network of the most skilful spies, all
confidence, all honesty, safety, and love for freedom has been
suffocated, and the building, which seemed to have been
constructed so skilfully and durably, would collapse, as soon as
the cement of fear would disappear from its joints."

"Your reasons may be good," replied Andrea after a pause, "but
they are the reasons of a stranger, who doesn't stand to lose
anything by declaring that this republic had outlived its time and
was doomed to fall.  You would hardly convince a Venetian that the
disease of his old native town doesn't at least deserve a final
attempt to cure it."

"But you are no Venetian."

"You're right, I'm only from Brescia, and my town has bled heavily
under the scourge of Venice.  Nevertheless, I can't help but feel
a deep compassion for these desperate men, who are attempting to
cut out the cancerous growth of the secret rule of terror with a
knife.  Whether they'll reach their goal, is written in the stars.
My eyes are weak, I'll forgo reading this inscription."

Both men became silent and looked through the window at the canal
for a while.  Their armchairs were standing closely together.  The
burning sun shone into the room, but they did not try to avoid the
unpleasant heat.

"You see," the younger one finally started again with a smile,
"that I've learned far too little caution, though being a
diplomat, especially being one who is starting his career in
Venice.  We've only met once;  and today, I'm telling you straight
forward what I think about the local state of affairs.  But of
course, I regard myself as a good enough judge of character to
know that a mind like yours couldn't seek to get on the payroll of
that signoria."

Without a word, Andrea extended his hand to him.  In the same
moment, he turned his face around and saw his colleague Samuele
standing a few steps behind them with a demure posture in the
middle of the room.  He had quietly opened the door and had
stepped closer on the carpets of the room, without being heard,
making many obeisances.  "Your Grace," he now said turning to
Rosenberg, while pretending not to know Andrea, "please forgive me
for having entered unannounced.  The valet wasn't in the anteroom.
I'm bringing the jewels you had send for;  things, your Grace,
like those the most beautiful Esther could have worn."

He pulled boxes and cases out of his pockets and carefully spread
out his merchandise on the table, and in doing so, he visibly
sought to bring out the Jewish merchant in him, whose existence he
otherwise did all he could to conceal.  While the German inspected
the jewelry, Samuele gave an approving look to Andrea, who had his
back turned against him and was stepping over to the window.  He
understood the purpose of the Jew's visit at this time.  The spy
was supposed to keep an eye on the spy, the old fox was supposed
to watch over the new recruit on his trial job.

In the meantime, Rosenberg had chosen a necklace with a ruby lock
and payed the price the Jew had been asking without haggling.  He
threw the gold coins on the table for him, nodded at him to
signalise that he was dismissed, without bothering to answer to
his banter, and stepped back to the window.  "I'm seeing it in
your face," he said, "that you're pitying me and regarding me as a
madman.  Indeed, the wiser thing for me to do would be to throw
this shiny jewelry into the canal, instead of putting it around
Leonora's white neck.  But what does all wisdom help me against
this daemon?"

"I'm convinced," Andrea answered, "that you won't have to wait
long for reality to free you from this enchantment.  But I owe you
another warning.  Are you more closely acquainted with the Jew,
who has just left us?"

"I know him.  He's one of the spies in our house, who are on the
payroll of the Council of Ten.  He eats his daily bread in sin,
for all of our secret is that we are honest.  And because they
think that this would be entirely impossible, we are regarded by
them as the most dangerous and most secretive ones.  Only for your
sake, I dislike the fact that the sneak had entered here just now
out of all times.  He has seen that you shook hands with me.  I
can guarantee you that you, before one hour is up, will be listed
in the black book of the tribunal."

Andrea smiled bitterly.  "I don't fear them, my friend," he said.
"I'm a peaceful man and my conscience is calm."  - -

Four days had passed since that conversation.  Andrea had
continued his usual life, had gone to the notary every morning,
and had stayed at home at night, though now, having established a
close relationship with the high police, he did not need to care
about having a good reputation in the street della Cortesia any

Saturday evening, he asked Signora Giovanna for the key to the
house.  She praised him for making an exception to his rule.
Today, she said, it was also worth the effort;  to be among those
watching the obsequies for the noble Signore Venier in San Rocco,
could even tempt her.  But she disliked being in a crowd, and then
- he would know why this case gave her a particular feeling of

He also preferred avoiding the nightly crowd, Andrea said.  It
suffocated him.  He wanted to take a gondola and go out to the

Thus, he left the old woman and turned to the direction opposite
to San Rocco.  It was already eight o'clock, a thin rain made the
air hazy, but did not prevent the people from flocking to the
church on the other side of the canal, where the exequies for the
murdered inquisitor of the state were supposed to be held at this
hour.  Dark figures, some of them wearing masks, some of them
protecting their faces against the drizzling rain by means of the
brims of their hats, rushed past him to the ferries or to the
Rialto Bridge, and the low ringing of bells buzzed through the
air.  In a side alley, Andrea stood still, pulled a mask out of
his jacket, and tied it to his face.  Then, he went to the nearest
canal, jumped into a gondola, and exclaimed:  "To San Rocco!"

The majestic, old church was already lit as bright as day by
innumerable candles, and an immense crowd flooded around the empty
catafalque, rising darkly in the middle of the nave without
flowers and wreaths.  Only a large silver cross stood at its top,
and the black blanket showed on both sides the coat of arms of the
house of Venier.  On seats draped in black, filling the entire
choir, each row rising above the one in front like in an
amphitheatre, the aristocracy of Venice had taken their seats,
assembled in a completeness which was even at important meetings
of the Great Council rarely achieved.  Nobody dared to be absent,
because everyone had an interest in not allowing even the
slightest doubt to be cast on his sincerity in mourning the
deceased.  On a special tribune, sat the foreign ambassadors.
Their ranks were also complete.

From above, the trombones were playing the solemn introduction to
a requiem, and a full-voiced choir, accompanied by the organ,
intoned the elegy, which rolled heart-stirringly through the
church and was heard outside in the square as well as far off in
the neighbouring streets by people crowding to the church.  The
slight rain, which still continued, the darkness of the night,
through which the bright windows of the church in the shape of
roses of stone glowed wondrously even from a distance, the shy
bustling and buzzing of the thousands impressed everyone in the
area all around the church with a frightful, creepy feeling, which
only a few might have been able to fend off.  The closer they got
to the entrance of the sacred room, which contained everything
which was great and powerful in Venice, the more devoutly all lips
fell silent.  From behind the black masks, which according to the
old custom appeared in a large number among the crowd at mournful
and joyous celebrations alike, rather many frightful looks peered
in through the bright portal for the catafalque, which was an even
more perceivable warning to consider the end of all things and the
meaninglessness of earthy power than the words of the song.

In a side alley, which in those days led through dark arcades and
ended on the square of San Rocco, two men walked hastily, talking
to one another.  They did not see that in the darkness of the
houses, a third man was following them closely, carefully hidden
by a cloak and a mask, who at times came closer, at times stayed
behind and let them increase their distance from him again.  Those
others did not wear the mask.  One of them was a gentleman with a
gray beard and a noble appearance, his companion seemed to be
younger and of a lower class.  He listened attentively to every
word of the old man and only occasionally made a humble remark.

Now, they were reaching the spot where, from a lit house, a bright
light fell across the alley.  Swiftly, the masked one had passed
them by, and as they were now walking closely past him, he peered
with a keen look at both of their faces from behind a pillar.  The
features of the secretary of the inquisition emerged clearly for a
moment out of the darkness.  The voice of the old man had also
been heard in the chamber of the secret tribunal.  He had told
Andrea Delfin to his face that he was a Candiano.

"Now, go back," the old man concluded the conversation, "and take
care of this matter without delay.  The Grand Captain is busy at
San Rocco, as you know;  but a small detachment of his men will be
enough to arrest both of them.  You'll impress upon them that it
has to be done without any noise.  You'll have to conduct the
first interrogation right away, for I'll hardly be back before
midnight.  If you'll have something urgent to report, you'll find
me at my brother-in-law's place, as soon as the mass is over."

They parted, and the old man walked through the lonely passage
between the pillars towards the square of San Rocco.  Just now,
the music in the church fell silent, and everybody's eyes were
turned to the pulpit, to which an old man with hair as white as
snow, the papal nuncio, with the help of two younger priests,
ascended with some difficulties, in order to talk to the assembled
aristocracy and common people of Venice.  No sound was uttered any
more;  the feeble voice of the old man began, widely audible, to
pray that the Lord would look down in His grace and grant, from
the treasure of his eternal wisdom and mercy, comfort and
enlightenment to the saddened spirits, that He would bring light
to the darkness, which is shielding the guilty and insidious ones
from the eyes of worldly justice, and foil the work of darkness.

The echo of the "amen" had hardly faded, when from the portal the
noise of a low murmur rose up and proceeded lightning-fast through
the nave of the church and reached the seats of the nobili, to
make the huge gathering instantly waver and surge like a lake in a
storm.  In the first instant, they all peered helplessly to the
threshold, over which the horror had entered.  Torches could now
be seen through the main portal, wandering hastily across the dark
square, and while they were all holding their breath and listening
to what was happening outside, suddenly, many voices shouted into
the church:  "Murderer!  Murderer!  Save yourself, if you can!"

An unparallelled turmoil, a confusion, as if the arches of the
church were in immediate danger of collapsing, followed this
exclamation.  Commoners and patricians, clerics and laymen, the
singers up in the choir, the guards of the catafalque, men and
women crowded blindly towards the exits, and only the old man up
in the pulpit looked down on the frightened bustle with unwavering
dignity and only left his seat when there was nothing but the
black catafalque left in the middle of the empty church, to remind
him of his sermon, which had been cut short thus abruptly.

But outside, the horrified crowd pushed towards that spot, where a
few torches had difficulties in fighting against the wind and the
rain.  The sbirri who had rushed to that spot, lead by the Grand
Captain, as soon as the first indications of the event had started
to stir, had found a motionless body in the darkness of the side
alley, who had still blood gushing out of his side.  When the
torches came, a dagger with a cross-shaped handle of steel was
seen in the wound, and the engraved words were read:  "Death to
all inquisitors of the state!", which were passed on through the
stunned crowd in low voices from one mouth to the next.

The first jolt of an earthquake, though constituting a terrible
warning that one would be standing on volcanic ground, does not
stir up people's minds in their depths, yet.  The horror is too
vividly intermixed with surprise and indignation;  indeed,
wherever the effects do not persist in a too tangible manner,
people, swiftly striving back to their usual routine, prefer to
believe that their senses had been deceived for the sake of their
peace of mind.  Only the repetition of the destructive,
inescapable, and merciless event disproves any kind of belief in a
misinterpretation, any hope that only random coincidences could
have brought on the event.  The return of the danger brings on
everlasting fear and points to a series of horrifying events with
no end in sight, against which neither courage nor cowardice can
provide even the slightest protection.

The news of the second murderous assault against an inquisitor of
the state had a similar effect in Venice.  For that the wounded
man had been nothing less, the insiders had not been able to keep
a secret.  Nobody could deny that the boldness, with which this
second blow had been struck, was surely just incited once again
and encouraged to proceed on the course of violence by the
successful execution of the crime.  Though the dagger had not
struck a deadly blow this time, deflected by a silken
undergarment, the wound was nevertheless life-threatening and
caused, at any rate, a standstill in the activities of the secret
tribunal, which was not allowed to proclaim a sentence without the
unanimous consent of its three members.  Thus, its rule was
paralysed for the moment, and, what was more important, the
unpenetrated secret surrounding the hostile power destroyed the
belief in the omniscience and omnipotence of the triumvirate and
finally had to undermine the self-confidence and the unscrupulous
energy of its members.

After all, what precautions were still left, and which means of
secret investigations had not been exhausted yet?  Had they not,
in the Council of Ten, vowed to each other with a solemn oath to
keep most silent about the election of the new, third inquisitor?
And nevertheless, a few days afterwards, the blow had been struck
as surely as if it had come from heaven against no one but the
newly elected one.  With distrustful looks, they all looked at
each other.  The thought was forcing itself upon them that among
the rulers themselves, treason was building its nest, that the
tyrants had, in a suicidal way, assaulted their own power.  The
secretary of the inquisition was arrested, who had been the last
to talk to the wounded man shortly before the attack.  He was
questioned thoroughly and threatened with a cruel death.  This
was also, of course, unsuccessful.

And what had been the benefit of increasing the numbers of the
secret police, the massive recruiting of new spies from among the
servants of the nobili and the foreign ambassadors, in the inns,
in the arsenal, even in the barracks and monasteries?  One half of
Venice was payed to spy on the other half.  A sizable amount of
money was supposed to be the reward for even the slightest news,
which would help them to get on the trail of the conspiracy.  Now,
it was tripled.  But, since the conspiracy was presumed to be
among the aristocracy, they had little hopes to get results from
these measures, which were only targeted at the poorer people.
Quite generally, they did a lot of things to preserve the
appearance that they were not idle, though what they did was idle.
Strict orders were issued that the inns and taverns had to be
closed at nightfall;  wearing masks and weapons of any kind was
banned with a severe punishment;  all night long, the steps of the
patrols echoed through the allies, and they were heard calling out
to the gondolas, which were passing by the guard-posts on the
canals.  Nobody who wanted to leave Venice received a passport,
and at the entrance to the harbour, there was a large guard-ship,
stopping every vessel, and even the officials of the republic were
asked for the password, before they were allowed to pass.

Far across the Terraferma, the rumour of these frightening
conditions was spreading, as usual increasing with the distance.
Whoever was planning to travel to the city, postponed it.  Whoever
had been planning to engage into a business connection with a
Venetian house, preferred to wait until the confusion was over,
which was threatening to revolutionise the structure of the
republic in its foundations.  The resulting effect was soon
evident in a desolation of the city, where everything seemed to
have come to a standstill.  The nobili only left their palaces in
cases of extreme emergency, locking themselves in against any
visitor, to avoid getting unknowingly in contact with one of the
conspirators.  Nobody knew precisely what was going on outside,
and the most outrageous rumours of arrests, torture, and inflicted
punishments reached the closed doors, entered into the frightened
families.  Even the common people, though they felt clearly that
they were not the ones who were primarily suffering under these
conditions, and though they watched gloatingly how the noble men
gave each other squinting looks in panic and fear, could still not
fight off an uneasy feeling in the long run.  It was definitely a
nuisance to abandon cards and wine at nightfall, to be searched
for concealed weapons by every guard who felt like it, and not to
be save for a single moment from the treachery of false
accusations, in spite of having the best conscience in the world.

Among the few whose lives and activities seemed to be unaffected
by the stifling atmosphere, which depressed all spirits, was also
Andrea Delfin.  The morning after the crime, he had, like all the
other secret spies, been interrogated by the successor of that
unfortunate secretary who had put him on the payroll, concerning
his observations at the hour of the crime, and had presented him
the fairy-tale of a trip to the lido, on which he had the
intention to investigate how the fisherman thought about all this.
What he could tell them about what was going on in the hotel of
the Austrian ambassador and the palace of the countess -
meaningless facts, which the tribunal already knew for a long time
- at least proved his zeal to familiarise himself with his new
task.  His friend Samuele did not fail to inform against the
striking familiarity he had found between the man from Brescia and
the secretary of the embassy.  Calmly, Andrea explained himself,
and the old acquaintance from Riva could only be advantageous for
the intentions of the tribunal.

Thus, almost no day passed by, when he would not, after he was
done with his work for the notary, call on his German friend, to
whom, being cut off from other company, the conversations with the
grave man, clouded by secret grief, became, by and by, a
necessity.  He had developed an unlimited trust in Andrea, and
when he avoided political topics with him, it was more because he
could not hope that they would understand each other on account of
their different nationalities, than for a concern that Andrea
might abuse his openness.  He even told him with a laughing face
that he had been warned against him being a spy of the tribunal.
The carelessness with which he crossed the shunned threshold of
the foreign ambassador every day would, of course, catch people's

"I'm no nobile," replied Andrea with a calm face.  "The ten men
will realise that I don't seek any diplomatic connections here;
they didn't even think me worthy of a warning up to now.  But I've
come to like you, and it would pain me to forgo forcing my
unpleasant company on you from time to time, for I'm a perfectly
lonely man.  Even my kind landlady, who in the past used to
shorten the time for me with her proverbs for an hour or so,
doesn't enter my room any more.  She's ill, and what made her ill
is Venice and pale shadows haunting this city."

This was indeed true.  After the second assault against the
inquisition of the state, Signora Giovanna had been walking around
in deep thoughts for one day, and as the night fell, an ever
growing excitement had come upon her.  She was now firmly
convinced that her Orso's spirit had been the perpetrator;  for
only a bodiless shadow would be able to escape for a second time
the thousand spying eyes which were guarding Venice.  She put on
her best clothes and decided, since she was expecting nothing less
than a visit of her departed husband, to be ready to receive him,
spending the entire night at the top of the stairs.  In a touching
confusion of these concepts, she had prepared a favourite dish of
her husband, laid the table with three armchairs by its side, and
could not be persuaded to eat a bite of it herself.  In this
state, she sat awake for the larger part of the night.  Only after
the small lamp in the corridor had gone out, Marietta, calling
Andrea to her aid, succeeded in bringing the poor woman back to
her room and to bed.  A fever broke out, not dangerous, but strong
enough to render her unconscious for several hours a day.  Andrea
watched all of this with deep sympathy, and the moving words the
ill woman uttered in her delusions tormented him a lot.  He had to
admit to himself that he was to blame for the confusion of this
good soul, and Marietta's sad looks depressed him more heavily
than all the bloody secrets he carried around with him.

With this burden, Andrea strolled past the Doges' Palace one
afternoon and, for a long time, stood by the narrow canal which
flows along under the high arch of the Bridge of Sighs.  Whenever
he started to waver in his decisions and he began to doubt in the
moral justification of the office of a judge which he had taken
on, he fled to this place and confirmed his determination by
looking at these ancient walls, behind which thousands of victims
of an irresponsible power had sighed and gnashed their teeth,
believing in the righteousness and the necessity of his mission.

The sun shone with blinding rays through the mists of September,
rising up from the water.  This quay, which had at other times
been swarming with people, was unsettlingly quiet.  The gloomy
looks of the soldiers, marching noisily up and down under the
arcades of the palace, were liable to scare away the loud
cheerfulness of the people passing by.  Andrea could hear clearly
that from a gondola, which was just arriving at the Piazzetta, his
name had been called.  He recognised his friend, the secretary of
the ambassador from Vienna.

"Do you've got time?" the young man called out at him, "If so,
come on board for a while, and join me for a stretch of my way.
I'm in a hurry, but would still like to talk to you once more."

Andrea entered the gondola, and the other man shook his hand
particularly cordially.  "I'm very happy, my dear Andrea that I
happened to meet you here.  I would have disliked leaving you
without a farewell, and yet, I didn't dare to visit you or to sent
for you, since this would undoubtedly have caught someone's

"You're taking a journey?" Andrea asked almost perplexed.

"I guess, I'll have to.  Here, read this letter from my dear
mother, and tell me whether I'm still allowed to hesitate after

He pulled the letter out of his pocket and gave it to his friend.
The old lady implored her son that, if he wanted her to ever be
able to get but one hour of sleep again, he should travel to her
without delay.  The rumours from Venice, the position he held
there and which put him into more danger than others, the fact
that less than a third of all of his letters would reach her, -
she would not know who was to blame for this, - all of this was
eating away at her peace of mind, and her physician would not
vouch for anything, unless she would be comforted and calmed down
by a visit of her son.  There was a tone of unlimited motherly
devotion and deep grief in all of these line, so that Andrea could
not read them without being moved.

"And yet," he said, returning the letter, "and yet, I almost wish
you wouldn't leave now out of all times, though I know that your
mother is counting the hours.  Not because, once you'll be gone,
I'll be left behind here, completely abandoned and like a
walking corpse, but rather because it is not advisable to leave
Venice at this time, since the suspicion will follow you on your
heels that you were leaving as a precaution.  Didn't they give you
any trouble, when you were asking for a leave?"

"None at all.  How could they, since I'm working for the embassy?"

"If that's so, be twice as cautious.  Many a door has already been
opened accommodatingly in Venice, because stepping over the
threshold meant plunging into an abyss.  If you'd follow me in
this, you wouldn't show yourself thus openly and without a
disguise here in the city during the last hours before your
departure.  You wouldn't be able to know what measures they might
take to prevent it."  - "But what shall I do?" asked the young
man.  "You know that masks are illegal."

"Then stay at home, and rather let the dignitaries of the republic
wait for your farewell visit in vain.  - And when will you leave?"

"Early tomorrow at five o'clock.  I'm planning to stay away for a
month, and hope that by then my mother will have calmed down, so
that I'll be able to leave her.  Now that it has been irreversibly
decided that I shall sever my ties, I'm almost at ease with this
violent cure, though it cuts into my life rather deeply.  Perhaps,
once I'll have broken out of the circles of my enchantress, I'll
succeed in shaking off her spell for ever more.  But will you
believe it, my friend, that the separation makes me shiver, as if
I wouldn't be able to survive it?"

"If that's so, the best remedy is to part with her right away."

"You mean, not to see her again before the journey?  What you're
asking is inhuman."

Andrea seized his hand.  "My dear friend," he said with a
heartfelt emotion, which at other times he had always been able to
control, "I have no right to ask you for even the slightest
sacrifice.  The feeling of cordial affection, which has brought me
together with you from the start, is ample thanks by itself, and I
do not dare to ask you for anything in the name of this friendship
of mine.  But by the image of that noble woman, whose loving words
you've just let me read, I implore you:  Don't enter the house of
the countess any more.  More than anything I know of her, what
even you don't deny, my premonition is warning you, that it will
be your doom, if you don't avoid her in these last hours.  Promise
it to me, my dearest friend!"

He extended his hand to him.  But Rosenberg did not take it.
"Don't demand an unbreakable promise," he said, gravely shaking
his head, "be content with my firm intention to follow your
advice.  But if the daemon would be stronger than I and would run
down everything I've put in his path, then I would have the double
grief to have become unfaithful to both me and you.  But you don't
know what this woman can achieve, when she puts her mind to it."

After this, they were silent and cruised for a while, lost in
thought, together through the lifeless waters, receding listlessly
like a swamp as the gondola's keel ploughed through them.  Near
the Rialto, Andrea wished to get out.  He asked the young man to
give his regards to his mother and inscrutably shrugged his
shoulders when being asked whether he could still be found in
Venice one month from now.  They held each others hand for a long
time, and when the gondola landed, they parted with a cordial
embrace.  Once more, the intelligent and trusting face of the
young man looked through the hatch of the black canopy and nodded
to his friend, who had stopped on the stairs leading down to the
water, lost in his thoughts.  For both, the farewell felt more
painful than they could explain.

Especially Andrea, who had thought for a long time that he was
free from all those ties with which one person would tie himself
to another, who seemed to be dead to all those small reasons for
living due to that one, fearful goal which he had set out for
himself, was astonished at how much the thought of having to make
do without that young man for several weeks did pain him.  But
soon, the wish forced itself upon him that he would never meet him
here again, before he had not succeeded in his work.  He was
resolved to write a letter to the mother and to urge her with
mysterious warnings not to consent to her son's return to Venice.
Once he had made this decision, he was relieved of a great burden.
He instantly went home, in order to carry out his plan.

But in his gray room, where no ray of sunlight ever entered and
the barren wall of the alley inhospitably stared at him through
the iron bars, he was seized by such a violent restlessness and
uneasiness that he, whenever sat down to write, threw away the pen
and paced to and fro like a predator in its cage.  He felt
perfectly certain that this feeling did not rise from the depth of
his conscience, that not the fear of being found out and being the
subject of vengeance was partially disturbing his soul.  Just this
very morning, he had again come face to face with the secretary of
the tribunal and could see for himself how completely at a loss
the tyrants were.  The wounded inquisitor of the state was still
between life and death.  The longer this state of uncertainty
lasted, the more the existence of the triumvirate itself was
questioned.  Another successful strike against the shaky building,
and it would be in ruins for ever.  Andrea did not doubt for a
moment that providence, having guided his hand up to now, would
also allow him to succeed in his final effort.  At no time, he had
doubted in his mission.  And when today, the indistinct
premonition of a great tragedy made him restless, his own actions
and plans had no part in it.

It was already getting dark, when he heard a quiet cough on the
other side by Smeraldina's window, the agreed sign that the girl
wished to talk to him.  Lately, he had neglected her pretty much
and was rather inclined to continue the acquaintance today,
partially to escape his own thoughts, partially to keep his access
to the tribunal by means of news from the palace of the countess,
and perhaps even to get to one of the inquisitors.  Swiftly, he
stepped to the window and greeted her.  The chamber-maid received
him with cold condescension.

"You've been avoiding me," she said;  "it seems as if you had made
other acquaintances in the meantime, whom you prefer to your

He assured her that his feelings for her were unchanged.

"If it's true," she said, "then, I'm willing to put you back in my
grace.  Today, there's a particularly good opportunity to have
another undisturbed chat.  My countess is gambling with several
guests tonight, half a dozen young gentlemen.  They would hardly
leave before midnight, and until then, the two of us can also be
together, and I'll get all we need from the kitchen and from the
wine table."

"Has the German been invited, about whom you've told me that the
countess is seeing him so often at her place?"

"Him?  What are you thinking!  He's so jealous that he wouldn't
cross the threshold when he senses that he would have company
here.  And besides, he's leaving.  We wouldn't be mortally sad for

Andrea sighed in relief.  "At ten o'clock, I'll be here by the
window," he said;  "or shall I come to the portal?"

She thought about it.  "You'd better do the latter," she said.
"After all, you're well acquainted with the porter, and your
landlady would surely give you the key.  Or are you playing the
role of a virtuous man before little Marietta?  Do you know that I
seriously started to get jealous of that insignificant creature?"

"Of Marietta?"

"She has a crush on you, or else I'd have no eyes in my head.
Just look at her.  Doesn't she walk about like a changed person
and doesn't sing any more, while at other times I had to cover my
ears?  And how many times have I seen her, while you were gone,
sneaking to your room and searching through your things!"

"She's reading my books;  I've permitted her to do so.  The reason
for her not singing any more is that her mother has fallen ill."

"You only want to make excuses for her, but I know enough, and if
I should find out that she had been talking badly about me, in
order to get you away from me, I'll scratch her eyes out, that
envious witch."

Vigorously, she slammed the window shut, and he could not help
thinking about her words for a long time.  In the old days, the
idea that the charming girl cared for him would have made his
blood throb faster.  Now, the only thing occupying his mind was
which way he would have to take in order to avoid crossing the
calm paths of this innocent soul in the future.  Thinking back, he
became aware of many small things which supported Smeraldina's
opinion.  Individually, he had ignored them.  But he had to accept
their sum.  "I must leave this place," he said to himself.  "And
yet, where am I as safe and as sheltered as in this house?"

At night, at the appointed time, he arrived at the portal of the
palace, the brightly lit windows of which were facing the unevenly
shaped square.  There was no moon in the cloudy sky, presaging an
early autumn, and the few people who were still in the streets,
wrapped themselves in their short coats.  Andrea, as he was
standing there and waiting to be admitted, thought of that night
when another Candiano had crossed this threshold to come to his
death.  His mind shivered with horror.  His hand, which was soon
afterwards seized in an intimate way by the chamber-maid opening
the door, was cold.

She showed him to her room, but, no matter how much she urged him,
it was impossible for him to eat and drink, though she had
ransacked the kitchen of her mistress and put aside some of the
most exquisite delicacies for her friend.  He excused this by
blaming his sickness, and she accepted it, since he did not refuse
losing a few ducats to her in a game of tarock.  Furthermore, he
had brought her a present, so that she could get over the fact
that tonight she again found him to be a lover who was so little
talkative and forthcoming.  She ate and drank just the more
eagerly, played all kinds of jokes, and gave him the names of the
young Venetians who had come to the countess to gamble.

"There, things are done so very differently than with us," she
said;  "the gold isn't counted, but a full fistful of coins is
betted on one card.  Would you like to have a look at them?  After
all, you already know the secret path."

"You're referring to the crack in the wall?  But aren't they in
the large hall?"

"No, in the room of the countess.  The hall is only used for the
big galas during the carnival."

He briefly thought about it.  It could only be desirable for him
to expand his knowledge of the persons belonging to the
aristocracy.  "Show me there," he said.  "I'll soon have enough of
it and not be disloyal to you for a long time."

"Just don't fall in love with my countess," she threatened.
"Concerning jealousy, I'm dead serious, and unfortunately, there
are some who think that my mistress was more beautiful than me."

He tried to reply in the same tone;  and making jokes, they left
the room.  Outside, they came across several footmen wearing
liveries, who did not seem to object against the man who was with
the girl.  They carried silver bowls and plates and did not use
the path to the large hall.  This path was unlit just as the first
time;  but the mood next door was more cheerful and animated, and
Andrea hardly recognised the chamber, after having taken his
uncomfortable post as a spy on the platform above.  The mirrors at
the walls reflected the light from the candles about a hundred
times over and over, and their golden frames caught sidelights and
hurled their reflections high up to the ceiling.  But amidst all
of this, the jewels of beautiful Leonora were sparkling, and
Andrea clearly recognised around her neck the necklace with the
ruby lock, which his German friend had bought from Samuele.  The
gem lay like a stain of blood on her white breast.  But her eyes
looked tiredly and indifferently at the cards, and whenever she
glanced at the faces of the young men, it was plain to see that no
one of them could capture her interest.  And yet, the guests did
their best to be courteous.  They made the most humorous remarks
when placing their bets and lost their gold more swiftly than
their high spirits.  One of them, who seemed to have lost
everything already, sat in an armchair between two mirrors and
sang sad barcaroles while playing the lute.  Another one, who was
taking a break from winning, threw his golden coins at the carpet,
trying to hit certain parts of the pattern, and forgot to pick the
zecchini, which were rolling away, back up.  Among them, servants
were walking in and out with ice-cream and fruits, and a small
Bolognese dog had a friendly conversation with a large, green
parrot, which, sitting on its golden perch, occasionally called
out funny swear-words in good Venetian to the company.  The spy on
the the musicians' platform already wanted to retreat again,
because the sight he looked down on aroused the most uncomfortable
feelings in him, when suddenly, a tall figure was stepping through
the folding-door into the gambling room, who was greeted by
everyone present with astonishment.  It was a rather aged
gentleman, who nevertheless still carried his white head high on
his shoulders and also had nothing of an old man in the way he
walked.  With a swift glance, he inspected the young men, bowed
slightly to the countess, and asked them not to let his presence
disturb them.

"You're asking too much, Ser Malapiero," replied the countess.
"The respect these young men have for the services which you have
performed for the republic by sea and by land doesn't permit us to
proceed in your presence to kill time in such a sinful fashion."

"You're mistaken, beautiful Leonora," the old man responded.  "I
have retired from the public service and not even attended the
meetings of the Great Council for years, just because the respect
of the young people was a nuisance to me and I longed for
carefree, cheerful company.  But who would nowadays want to open
his heart under the influence of wine, when there is a member of
the Council of Ten or even an inquisitor of the state sitting with
him at the table?  In such an office, a man ages more swiftly, and
I'm planning to continue belying my white hair for quite a while
and to be at least young when I'm having my wine, though I'm
feeling my years in the presence of beauty."

"As far as your courtesy is concerned, you can surely still
compete with these young gentlemen," said Leonora, "who would
think that it only took a daintily curled blond or black beard to
obtain the right to kiss every beautiful, female mouth.  But I
want to have the wine table carried in, to welcome my rare guest
by drinking to his health."

"Forgive me, my charming friend.  I haven't come to impose on your
hospitality.  I was only driven here by the wish to bring you the
news of your brother without delay, which have reached me tonight
by means of a courier from Genua.  They are of such a happy nature
that I don't fear that they might diminish the cheerfulness of our
beautiful hostess and that I'm sure of your forgiveness when I'm
depriving these noble gentlemen for a few moments of your company.
May I enter this room with you?" he said, pointing to the door to
the dark hall, towards which he had taken a few steps.

Andrea startled.  He realised that he could not leave his place
swiftly and noiselessly enough to sneak away unnoticed.  And the
door to the hall was already opening, and he heard the dress of
the countess rustling in.  He quickly decided to lay down flat on
the floor of the high estrade, the balustrade of which, though it
was very low, still covered him completely in this position.  He
heard the steps of the old man following Leonora and him answering
"No" to the question whether a candlestick should be brought in.

"I've got only two words to say to her," Malapiero exclaimed
turning back to the gambling room.  "No one of you young gentlemen
will find the time to get jealous of me."

The door closed behind them, and they walked to and fro under the

"What brings you here?" the countess asked hastily.  "Are you
finally bringing me the news that Gritti is going to be called

"You haven't fulfilled the condition yet, Leonora.  What have you
told the tribunal of the secrets from Vienna?"

"Was it my fault?  Didn't I do everything a woman might be capable
of, and didn't I make this stubborn German squirm in my web like a
fish on dry land?  But never, a word about his occupation had come
across his lips.  And today, he's departing, as you would know.
The annoyance of having spent so much time on him in vain is
making me ill."

"It would be preferred if he was ill."

"How come?"

"He wants to leave, his path couldn't be blocked.  But we're
certain that it would cause the greatest harm to the republic if
he should actually reach Vienna.  The pretext for his vacation is
meaningless.  The true reason is that he has things to report in
Vienna, which he doesn't even dare to entrust a secret courier
with.  And therefore, it is imperative to prevent this journey."

"So, prevent it.  Whether he's leaving or staying is completely
indifferent to me."

"You've got the easiest means in your hands, Leonora, to keep him

"These would be?"

"You'll sent him a message right away that he should come, to find
you less cruel than before.  Then, when he'll call on you this
very night, as he undoubtedly will, you'll make sure that he'll
soon fall ill."

She swiftly interrupted him.  "I've made an oath," she said,
"never to agree to such impositions again."

"You'll be relieved of your oath, and your conscience will be
calmed down, Leonora.  We're also not of the opinion that the drug
should be lethal;  this should even be most carefully avoided."

"Do whatever you want," she said.  "But leave me out of it."

"Your final word, countess?"

"I've said it."

"Well, so we'll have to arrange it so that the traveller will have
an accident on the way.  This always makes things more complicated
and causes more suspicion."

"And Gritti?"

"I'll tell you about him another time.  Permit me to escort you
back to your guests."

The door of the hall opened and closed again.  Andrea could stand
up without putting himself into danger.  But the words he had
heard were still paralysing his mind and his body.  Muffled by the
wall, he heard the wanton laughs and jokes of the young men;  his
hair was made to stand on end by the realisation how terribly
close death and life, crime and levity came to one another in
here.  When he straightened up with some difficulties and groped
his way down the stairs, his hand was feverishly searching the
dagger, which he always carried with him, hidden in his clothes.
His lips were bloody, thus hard he had bit on them with his teeth.

But he could still think straight enough to go back to Smeraldina
and to tell her in calm words that this company had been rather
amusing to look at;  but he would never look through the crack
again, since he had just barely escaped discovery by the countess
and an older guest.  He hoped that they had not heard him slipping
out the other door as they had entered the dark hall.  - After
this, he emptied his purse completely and insisted on leaving her
at once.  The safest thing would be if she let him leave on the
board through the window, in order to avoid any suspicion of the
countess.  She did not suspect anything bad in it, the bridge was
built in an instance, and he crossed it with firm steps, though he
was already firmly resolved to commit a serious act.  But this
time, it was not only for the great cause, he had consecrated his
life to.  This time, a friend's life had to be protected from
hostile treachery, a son had to be sent to his mother's arms
unharmed, a vile violation of hospitality had to be prevented by
executing a swift sentence.

Quietly, he stepped out into the corridor of his house and
listened into the gloomy passage.  His landlady's door was closed;
but he nevertheless heard her voice, talking to Orso's shadow in
her feverish dreams.  He reached the stairs and carefully opened
the door downstairs.  The street was empty;  the light of the
small eternal flame did not extend far into the windy night;  but
he knew the paths and walked with hasty steps through the next
side alleys over the narrow bridge of the canal, which got him to
the small square in front of Leonora's palace.  He had not seen a
gondola anywhere and had to assume that the old man would go the
way to his house on foot.  He chose a place where he had to pass
by.  A deep, dark, salient pillar by a door he regarded as
suitable for an ambush.  Here, he pushed himself into the corner
and kept a keen eye on the portal of the palace.

But the hand holding the dagger ready to strike was shivering a
lot, and the blood was gushing thus violently through his heart
that he had to make the greatest effort to gather all of his
courage.  What was this, which was rebelling in him this time
against an act which he regarded as a holy duty, as something
commanded by a higher necessity?  He fought hard against the dark
voices, which seemed to lure him away from his post.  His shoulder
was firmly pressed against the pillar;  with his left hand, he
wiped his brow, which was covered by cold drops of sweat.  "Stay
strong!" he could not help saying to himself.  "Perhaps, if
heaven's providence is gracious, this is the last time."

Then occurred to him that the old Malapiero would undoubtedly have
servants to escort him, and instantly, he comprehended the
impossibility of carrying out the assault in this case.  He almost
liked finding a pretext forcing him to go home today, without
having done the deed.  But as he was already putting one foot
forward out of the door's niche, the portal of the palace opened
on the other side of the square, and in the gray night, he saw a
tall figure, wrapped in a cloak, crossing the threshold all by
himself and coming towards him.  The white hair was sticking out
clearly enough from under the hat;  the swift steps echoed over
the slabs of stone;  and carefully, the man kept close to the
houses on his late walk.  Now, he approached the house in the
shadow of which the avenger stood;  as if he sensed the immediate
danger, he held the cloak before his face and firmly clenched,
with his left hand, the handle of his sword, which he carried by
his side in spite of the ban on weapons.  He passed by his enemy
without noticing him;  for another ten, twenty steps, the latter
let him walk ahead of him.  The lonely man was already approaching
the bridge.  Suddenly, he heard steps behind him, he turned
around, his hand dropped the cloak, but in the same moment, his
tall figure collapsed;  the steel had struck a deep blow against
his life.

"My mother, my poor mother!" sighed the murdered man.  Then, his
head fell onto the pavement.  The eyes closed forever.

Several minutes of silence followed these words of farewell.  The
dead man lay stretched out across the street, with his arms spread
out, as if he wanted to eagerly embrace the life which had so
disloyally abandoned him.  The hat had fallen off his brow;  under
the disguise of the white curls, the natural, brown hair flowed
forth, the youthful face seemed like being asleep in the pale
twilight of the night.  And one step away from him, by the wall of
the next house, petrified like a statue leaning against the wall,
stood the murderer, and his eyes were staring into the motionless
features of the young man, trying in vain, filled with desperate
fear, to deny this horrible certainty, to persuade himself that
some ghost was deceiving him, that the features of that old man,
who had just before, in Leonora's hall, arranged an ambush for
Andrea's friend, were hidden under this young mask, which hell
presented to him.  Had it not been on account of this friend that
he had hurried to strike this blow?  Did he not intent to send a
son back to his mother unharmed?  And what had this man, lying
there on the ground, been babbling about his poor mother?  Why was
the judge and avenger now standing there like a condemned man and
was unable to move a single limb, though his teeth were rattling
like in mortal fear, and extreme cold made all of his body shiver?

The blood, which had been raging towards his eyes, flowed back and
was gushing towards his heart.  His eyes clearly recognised the
dagger in the dead man's chest.  In the gloomy twilight, he read
the words on the handle which he had painstakingly engraved with
his own hand:  "Death to all inquisitors of the state".  He could
not help but speak them aloud and let his eyes wander to and fro
between the fatal weapon and the face of the poor victim, until
his mind was filled with the condemning contradiction between
these words and these features.  In a frightful haste, thoughts
chased past his mind.  Suddenly, he saw everything clearly which
had happened here and could never be atoned for.  No miracle had
any part in turning this atrocity into reality.  Everything was so
perfectly natural, so probable, a child had to comprehend it.
During the day, the young man had kept his distance from his
ruinous, beautiful enemy.  He wanted to leave without farewell.
He had sent someone to tell her, and she felt indifferently enough
about it to invite guests for the same night.  When the night had
come, he could not resist the powerful urge of the daemon and
walked the accustomed path.  At the portal, he had been told that
he would not find the countess alone.  Momentarily, he was
resolved to turn back.  And this very moment was enough for his
only friend to position himself into his hiding place, in order to
become his murderer.

Only after Andrea had clearly thought about all of this, with the
cold clairvoyance which comes upon people in all decisive hours
when all comfort disappears, the petrification of his body
receded.  He fell towards the silent sleeper, dropped to his knees
onto the pavement, and closely looked at his face.  A mad laugh,
which sounded like choking, he now involuntarily uttered, as he
was pushing the white curls off his head, which had so tragically
deceived him.  He remembered that he himself had warned the friend
against showing himself openly in the streets of Venice.  He
himself had set up the trap for himself and the one who was so
dear to him.  Then, he ripped his clothes open and felt whether
there was still a trace of life throbbing in his heart.  He bent
his mouth closely over the young man's lips, to find out whether
he could still feel his breath.  Everything was quiet and cold and

In this moment, the door of the palace was opened again, and a
tall figure, wearing a cloak, stepped out.  The light from the
corridor fell on the white hair of old Malapiero, returning to his
house.  Andrea looked up;  the piercing irony of his situation
became evident to his soul.  There walked the man from whom he
wanted to protect Venice, the defenceless flock of aristocrats and
commoners, and, last but not least, his German friend.  There he
came, lonely enough, along his way, only shrouded by a secret
which his enemy had found out;  nothing prevented him from
attacking him, the dagger was right there -;  but this dagger had
been desecrated by innocent blood, there was nothing any more to
set the judge and avenger apart from the one against whom he
wanted to execute the verdict, except that here a treacherous,
blind coincidence had struck the blow, while those irresponsible
executioners had their goals safely and infallibly in their

All of this was raging through Andrea's mind.  He picked himself
up, pulled the dagger out of the wound, and fled, still being
unnoticed by the aged triumvir, keeping in the shadows, across the
narrow bridge over the canal, towards his house.  When it occurred
to him that the old Malapiero had to find the corpse and would be
grateful to his unknown murderer, that he had spared him the
trouble he would otherwise have gone through, he had to bite on
his teeth in order to avoid uttering a savage scream.

Thus, he reached the front door of his house and found it open.
Looking up the staircase, he saw at its top, where the old woman
usually sat, her daughter, standing by the uppermost step and
looking down, leaning far over the banister, holding on to it with
both of her arms.  "Are you finally coming!" she whispered at him.
"Where have you been at this late time of day?  I heard you
leaving and couldn't sleep."

He did not reply a single word;  with difficulties, he ascended
the staircase and wanted to get past her.  Then, she saw the
dagger, which he did not care to conceal at all, and suddenly, she
fell right before his feet, uttering a choked exclamation.  He
left her lying there and walked to his room.  There was not any
room left inside of him for sympathy with small human pains.  He
saw nothing but the mother, impatiently awaiting her son to return
from abroad, but being destined to receive his coffin instead.

But as soon as he had locked himself in his room, he perceived
Marietta knocking and her quiet voice asking to be let in.

"Go to bed," he said.  "There is nothing left for me to share with
people of the world.  Early tomorrow, go to the Doges' Palace.
There are three thousand zecchini for you to receive.  You'll be
able to report that one of the conspirators had been rendered
harmless.  Don't fear that they might apprehend me alive.  Good

Persistently, she remained at the door.  "Let me in," she said.
"I know, you'll do something to yourself, if you'll stay alone.
You're thinking that I could betray you, because I've seen you
coming in with the dagger.  Oh, you're safe from me putting you
into danger.  Let me in, look into my face, and then tell me
whether you'd think that I would do anything bad to you.  Haven't
I already suspected for a long time that you were the one they've
been looking for?  In my dreams, I've seen you stained with blood.
But still, I don't hate you.  I knew that you were unhappy;  I
could give my life, if you asked me to."

She put her ear against the door, but there was no answer.
Instead, she heard him stepping to the window opening onto the
canal and busying himself there with something.  A mortal fear
came over her, she rattled at the door, she shouted again, she
deplored him in the most moving words not to perform any desperate
act - all in vain.  When finally, everything had become quiet
inside, she pushed, in terrible agony, hard against the door with
her shoulders and tried to break the lock, employing all of her
strength.  The old woodwork broke, only the frame held.  The hole,
which she had broken into the door, allowed her slender figure to
just barely slip through.

The room was empty;  she searched him in all niches in vain.  When
she stepped to the open window, not doubting any longer that he
had jumped into the canal, she hardly dared to peer down over the
ledge into the depth.  But what she saw restored her lost hope.  A
rope was hanging down the wall, being attached to a firm hook
underneath the ledge.  It extended down to the surface of the
water.  If someone would push himself off the wall with his feet,
after having reached the lower end of the rope, he should easily
be able to swing to the stairs on the other side by the palace of
the countess and into the gondola, which was usually chained to
the pole there.  Today, it had disappeared, and the lonely girl,
looking down the dark gorge of the canal in vain, trying to
discover a trace of the fugitive, was at least left with the
comforting belief that he could not have chosen a safer course, if
he wanted to safe himself.

It had been his intention to make her believe that.  He did not
want to burden the soul of this innocent creature, whom he had
already given enough grief, with the entire, harsh truth that
there was nothing left which could save him, since he was unable
to flee from himself.

The poor girl was still looking out of the window, and her tears
fell bitterly into the black waters below, when Andrea was already
steering his gondola out into the Grand Canal.  The palaces on
both sides towered darkly over the face of the water.  He passed
by the house of Morosini, he saw the palace of Venier, and a sense
of horror made his hair stand on ends.  Here, his life lay before
him like being encircled by a ring;  what a beginning and what an
end!  -

When he rowed past the Giudecca and was now seeing the broad front
of the Doges' Palace in the twilight of the moon's murky crescent,
the thought was briefly flashing through his mind that this was
the place where crimes would be punished.  But for his crime, he
would not find any judges here;  for who may pass judgement on his
own case?  And was not still the hope with him that, nevertheless,
out of his atrocious deed, salvation and liberation could flourish
for his fellow citizens, that perhaps even the murder of an
innocent man, for which popular opinion would surely blame the
tribunal, would complete the work he had begun and push the
measure of tyranny beyond its limits?

He himself would have destroyed this hope, if he had given himself
up to the judges, if he had dispersed their fear of the invisible
enemies, and if he had diverted the foreign powers' complaints
away from them.

With strong strokes of the oar, he propelled the gondola towards
the lido and crossed the basin of the harbour, where only the
ships' lanterns were still standing guard.  By the harbour's
entrance, lay the large felucca, which had prevented even the
smallest vessel from reaching the sea for the last week, unless
the challenge of the guard was answered by the password of the
inquisition.  Like all other secret servants of the tribunal,
Andrea had been told the word this morning.  Unhindered, he was
allowed to row out into the open sea.

The sea was calm.  It were not the waves he had to struggle with
as he rowed along the coast for several hours.  But in this calm,
lukewarm night, he only felt his agony even more harshly, and,
from time to time, he beat the sea with the oar like a madman,
just to hear a different sound than his friend's last words:  "My
mother, my poor mother."

It was already well past midnight, when he pushed the gondola
ashore, jumped out, and walked towards a lonely monastery, which
stood on a spit of land and was well known by the poor mariners.
Capuchins dwelled here, who lived of the kindness of the people of
Chioggia and of begging on the mainland and gave them spiritual
comfort in return and have been a support for the people in many a
time of need.  Andrea pulled the bell-rope by the gate.  Soon
afterwards, he heard the porter's voice, asking who was out there.

"A dying man," Andrea answered.  "Call Brother Pietro Maria, if
he's in the monastery."

The porter left the door.  In the meantime, Andrea sat on the
bench of stone, pulled a piece of paper out of his wallet and
wrote by the light of a lantern, which was shining on him from the
porter's lodge, the following lines:

"To Angelo Querini.

"I have played the judge and have become a murderer.  I have
wrongfully executed the justice which God has reserved for
Himself, and God has entangled me in my own blasphemous madness
and has let me spill innocent blood.  The offering I intended to
make has been rejected.  The time had not come yet, the sacred
office of liberating Venice has been destined for other hands.  Or
is there no salvation at all?

"I am going to face God, the highest judge, who will justly weigh
on His eternal scales my guilt and my suffering.  There is nothing
I could still hope to get from the people of this world;  from
you, I expect only generous sympathy for my error and my

The door of the monastery was opening, and a venerable monk with a
bold head stepped outside towards him while he was still writing.
Andrea stood up.  "Pietro Maria," he said, "I thank you for
coming.  Have you brought my letter to the exiled man in Verona?"

The old man nodded.

"If you care for the last thanks of an wretched man, deliver this
piece of paper also safely into the same hands.  Will you promise
me this?"

"I promise."

"It's good.  God shall reward you for this!  Farewell!"

He did not take the hand which the monk extended to him for the
farewell.  Without delay, he again boarded the gondola and rowed
out to the open sea.  When the old man, after quickly reading the
lines, was calling out for him in dismay, deploring him to return
once more, he did not answer.  Being extremely agitated, the old
servant of the republic saw the last member of an old family
drifting out on the dreary waves, which now, being moved by an
early morning wind, formed a few lively ripples.  He pondered
whether it was a good act, whether it was at all possible, to
stand against the firm wish of a dying man.  Then, the dark figure
rose in the distant gondola, being clearly visible against the
gray horizon;  he who was about to quit his life seemed to have
one final glance over the land and the sea and to gaze back at the
city, the outline of which swam on the mists of the lagoons like
on an island of clouds.  Then, he jumped into the depth.

The monk, watching his end, folded his hands and prayed quietly
and fervently.  Then, he also boarded a boat and rowed out to sea,
where the empty gondola was dancing on the surf.  He did not find
a trace of the wretched man who had steered it.

(C) 2000 Gunther Olesch.
End of Andrea Delfin, by Paul Heyse (1830-1914)
Translated by Gunther Olesch in 2000.
(C) 2000 Gunther Olesch.
You may enjoy this text for your personal pleasure.
Any commercial exploitation requires the translator's consent.


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