Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter IX / The Bride of Fate >> Page 142

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Page 142

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 142 SOUTHWARD HO
deep anthem began to swell, and Giovanni, wrought to the high-
est pitch of frenzy by the progress of events, and by the opposi-
tion of Nicolo, now broke away from all restraint, and hurried
through the crowd. The circle, dense and deep, had already
gathered closely about the altar-place, to behold the ceremony.
The desperate youth made his way through it. The crowd
gave way at his approach, and under the decisive pressure of
his person. They knew his mournful history´┐Żfor when does
the history of love's denial and defeat fail to find its way to the
world's curious hearing ? Giovanni was beloved in Venice. Such
a history as his and Francesca's was sure to beget sympathy,
particularly with all those who could find no rich lovers for them-
selves or daughters, such as Ulric Barberigo. The fate of the
youthful lovers drew all eyes upon the two. A tearful interest
in the event began to pervade the assembly, and Giovanni really
found no such difficulty as would have attended the efforts of
any other person to approach the sacred centre of the bridal
circle. He made his way directly for the spot where Francesca
stood. She felt his approach and presence by the most natural
instincts, though without ever daring to lift her eye to his person.
A more deadly paleness than ever came over her, and as she
heard the first sounds of his voice, she faltered and grasped a
column for support. The patriarch, startled by the sounds of
confusion, rose from the sacred cushions; and spread his hands
over the assembly for silence ; but as yet he failed to conceive
the occasion for commotion. Meanwhile, the parents and rela-
tives of Francesca had gathered around her person, as if to guard
her from an enemy. Ulric Barberigo, the millionaire, put on the
aspect of a man whose word was law on 'change. He, too, had
his retainers, all looking daggers, at the intruder. Fortunately
for Giovanni, they were permitted to wear none at these peace-
ful ceremonials. Their looks of wrath did not discourage the
approach of our lover. He did not seem, indeed, to see them,
but gently putting them by, he drew near to the scarcely con-
scious maiden. He lifted the almost lifeless hand from her side,
and pressing it within both his own, a proceeding which her
mother vainly endeavored to prevent, he addressed the maiden
with all that impressiveness of tone which declares a stifled but