Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter IX / The Bride of Fate >> Page 143

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Page 143

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription SCENE AT THE ALTAR. 743
still present and passionate emotion in the heart. His words
were of a touching sorrow.
"And is it thus, my Francesca, that I must look upon thee
for the last time ? Henceforth, are we to be dead to one an-
other? Is it thus that I am to hear that, forgetful of thy virgin
vows to Gradenigo, thou art here calling Heaven to witness that
thou givest thyself and affections to another ?""Not willingly, 0 ! not willingly, Giovanni, as I live ! I have
not forgotten�alas ! I can not forget that I have once vowed
myself to thee. But I pray thee to forget, Giovanni. Forget
me and forgive�forgive !"
Oh ! how mournfully was this response delivered. There was
a dead silence throughout the assembly; a silence which imposed
a similar restraint even upon the parents of the maiden, who had
shown a desire to arrest the speaker. They had appealed to
the patriarch ; but the venerable man was wise enough to per-
ceive that this was the last open expression of a passion which
im st have its utterance in some form, and if not this, must result
in greater mischief. His decision tacitly sanctioned the inter-
view as we have witnessed it. It was with increased faltering,
which to the bystanders seemed almost fainting, that the un-
happy Francesca thus responded to her lover. Her words were
little more than whispers, and his tones, though deep, were very
low and subdued, as if spoken while the teeth were shut. There
was that in the scene which brought forward the crowd in
breathless anxiety to hear, and the proud heart of the damsel's
mother revolted at an exhibition in which her position was by no
means a grateful one. She would have wrested, even by vio-
lence, the hand of her daughter from the grasp of Giovanni ; but
he retained it firmly, the maiden herself being scarcely conscious
that he did so. His eye was sternly fixed upon the mother, as he
drew Francesca toward himself. His words followed his looks
"Have you not enough triumphed, lady, in thus bringing
about your cruel purpose, to the sacrifice of two hearts�your
child's no less than mine ? Mine was nothing to you but hers !
what had she done that you should trample upon leers ? This
bast thou done ! Thou bast triumphed ! What wouldst thou
more? Must she be denied the mournful privilege of saying her
last parting with him to whom she vowed herself, ere she vows