Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter IX / The Bride of Fate >> Page 146

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Page 146

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 146 SOUTHWARD 110!
" How now, signor," said the stranger. Is it thou ? Where-
fore bast thou left Olivolo ? Why didst thou not wait the
bridal ?"
The speaker was a strange, dark-looking woman, in coarse
woollen garments. She hobbled as she walked, assisted by a
heavy staff, and seemed to suffer equally from lameness and
from age. Her thin depressed lips, that ever sunk as she
spoke into the cavity of her mouth, which, in the process of
time, had been denuded of nearly all its teeth ; her yellow
wrinkled visage, and thin gray hairs, that escaped from the
close black cap which covered her head, declared the presence
of very great age. But her eye shone still with something even
more lively and oppressive than a youthful fire. It had a sort
of spiritual intensity. Nothing, indeed, could have been more
brilliant, or, seemingly, more unnatural. But hers was a nature
of which we may not judge by common laws. She was no com-
mon woman, and her whole life was characterized by mystery.
She was known in Venice as the " Spanish Gipsy ;" was sup-
posed to be secretly a Jewess, and had only escaped from being
punished as a sorceress by her profound and most exemplary
public devotions. But she was known, nevertheless, as an en-
chantress, a magician, a prophetess ; and her palmistry, her
magic, her symbols, signs and talismans, were all held in great
repute by the superstitious and the youthful of the ocean city.
Giovanni Gradenigo himself, obeying the popular custom, had
consulted her ; and now, as he heard her voice, he raised his
eyes, and started forward with the impulse of one who sud-
denly darts from under the griding knife of the assassin. Before
Nicolo could interfere, he had leaped down the steps, and darted
to the quay from which the old woman was about to step into a
gondola. She awaited his coming with a smile of peculiar
meaning, as she repeated her inquiry :
Why are not you at Olivolo ?"
He answered the question by another, grasping her wrist vio-
lently as he spoke.
Did you not promise that she should wed with me that
she should be mine�mine only ?"
Well," she answered calmly, without struggling or seeking
to extricate her arm from the strong hold which he had upon it.