Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter IX / The Bride of Fate >> Page 153

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Page 153

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription THE DECREE OF FATE. 153
The stranger lingered still, but the woman ceased to speak,
and betrayed by her manner that she desired his departure.
Thus seeing, he took a purse from his bosom and laid it before
her. She did not seem to notice the action, nor did she again
look up until be was gone. With the sound of his retreating
footsteps, she put aside the brazen volume of strange characters
which seemed her favorite study, and her lips slowly parted in
soliloquy : --
Ay ! thou exultest, fierce ruffian that thou art, in the assu-
rance that Fate yields herself to thy will ! Thou shalt, indeed,
have the maiden in thy arms, but it shall profit thee nothing ;
and that single triumph shall exact from thee the last penalties
which are sure to follow on the footsteps of a trade like thine.
Thou thinkest that I know thee not, as if thy shallow masking
could baffle eyes and art like mine ; but I had not shown thee
thus much, were I not in possession of yet further knowledge
did I not see that this lure was essential to embolden thee to thy
own final overthrow. Alas, that in serving the cause of inno-
cence, in saving the innocent from harm, we can not make it
safe in happiness. Poor Francesca ! beloved of three, yet blest
with neither. Thou shalt be wedded, yet be no bride ; shall
gain all that thy fond young heart craveth, yet gain nothing
be spared the embraces of him thou loathest, yet rest in his
arms whom thou bast most need to fear ; and shalt be denied,
even when most assured, the only embrace which might bring
thee blessing ! Happy at least that thy sorrows shall not last
thee long�their very keenness and intensity being thy security
from the misery which holds through years like mine."
Let us leave the woman of mystery�let us once more
change the scene. Now pass we to the pirate's domain at Istria, .
a region over which, at the period of our narrative, the control
of Venice was feeble, exceedingly capricious, and subject to fre-
quent vicissitudes. At this particular time, the place was main-
tained by the fiercest band of pirates that ever swept the
Mediterranean with their bloody prows.