Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter IX / The Bride of Fate >> Page 138

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Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 138 SOUTHWARD Ho !



IT was a glad day in Venice. The eve of the Feast of the
Purification had arrived, and all those maidens of the Republic,
whose names had been written in the " Book of Gold," were
assembled with their parents, their friends and lovers �a beau-
tiful and joyous crowd�repairing, in the gondolas provided by
the Republic, to the church of San Pietro di Castella, at Olivolo,
which was the residence of the patriarch. This place was on the
extreme verge of the city, a beautiful and isolated spot, its pre-
cincts almost without inhabitants, a ghostly and small priesthood
excepted, whose grave habits and taciturn seclusion seemed to
lend an additional aspect of solitude to the neighborhood. It
was, indeed, a solitary and sad-seeming region, which to the
thoughtless and unmeditative, might be absolutely gloomy. But
it was not the less lovely as a place suited equally for the pic-
turesque and the thoughtful ; and, just now, it was very far from
gloomy or solitary. The event which was in hand was decreed
to enliven it in especial degree, and in its consequences, to im-
press its characteristics on the memory for long generations after.
It was the day of St. Mary's Eve�a day set aside from imme-
morial time for a great and peculiar festival. All, accordingly,
was life and joy in the sea republic. The marriages of a goodly
company of the high-born, the young and the beautiful, were to
be celebrated on this occasion, and in public, according to the
custom. Headed by the doge himself, Pietro Candiano, the
city sent forth its thousands. The ornamented gondolas plied
busily from an duly hour in the morning, from the city to Oli-
volo ; and there, amidst music and merry gratulations of friends
and kindred, the lovers disembarked. They were all clad in
their richest array. Silks, which caught their colors from the
rainbow, and jewels that had inherited, even in their caverns,
their beauties from the sun and stars, met the eye in all direc-
tions. Wealth had put on all its riches, and beauty, always
modest, was not satisfied with her intrinsic loveliness. All that
could delight the eye, in personal decorations and nuptial orna-
ments, was displayed to the eager gaze of curiosity, and, for a