Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter IX / The Bride of Fate >> Page 140

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 140

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 140 SOUTHWARD HO
but unwilling instrument for doing a mortal wrong to the heart
of another ; but she lacks the courage to refuse, to resist, to die
rather than submit. Her nature only teaches her submission;
and this is the language of the wo-begone, despairing glance,
but one which she bestows, in passing up the aisle, upon one
who stands beside a column, close to her progress, in whose
countenance she perceives a fearful struggle, marking equally
his indignation and his grief.
Giovanni Gradenigo was one of the noblest cavaliers of Yen-
ice´┐Żbut nobleness, as we know, is not always, perhaps not often,
the credential in behalf of him who seeks a maiden from her pa-
rents. He certainly was not the choice of Francesca's sire. The
poor girl was doomed to the embraces of one Ulric Barberigo, a
man totally destitute of all nobility, that. alone excepted which
belonged to wealth. This shone in the eyes of Francesca's
parents, but failed utterly to attract her own. She saw, through
the heart's simple, unsophisticated medium, the person of Giovanni
Gradenigo only. Her sighs were given to him, her loatliings to
the other. Though meek and finally submissive, she did not
yield without a remonstrance, without mingled tears and entreat-
ies, which were found unavailing. The ally of a young damsel
is naturally her mother, and when she fails her, her best human
hope is lost. Alas ! for the poor Francesca ! It was her moth-
er's weakness, blinded by the wealth of Ulric Barberigo, that
rendered the father's will so stubborn. It was the erring mother
that wilfully beheld her daughter led to the sacrifice, giving no
heed to the heart. which was breaking, even beneath its heavy
weight of jewels. How completely that mournful and despond-
ing, that entreating and appealing glance to her indignant lover,
told her wretched history. There he stood, stern as well as sad,
leaning, as if for support, upon the arm of his kinsman, Nicolo
Malapieri. Hopeless, helpless, and in utter despair, he thus lin-
gered, as if under a strange and fearful fascination, watching
the progress of the proceedings which were striking fatally,
with every movement, upon the sources of his own hope and
happiness. His resolution rose with his desperation, and he sud-
denly shook himself free from his friend.
I will not bear this, Nicolo," he exclaimed, " I must not suf-
fer it without another effort, though it be the last."