Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter IX / The Bride of Fate >> Page 156

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Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 156 SOUTHWARD HO !
tachment for Venice as that which seems to fill thy bosom.
When the question shall be taken in regard to thy office, our
voices shall be against thee, unless-"
There was a pause. It was broken by the chief.
Well, speak out. What are your conditions ?"" Unless thou shalt consent to lead us on a great enterprise
against the Venetians. Hearken to us, Brother Pietro. Thou
knowest of the annual festival at Olivolo, when the marriage
takes place of all those maidens whose families are favorites of
the Signiory, and whose names are written in the `Book of Gold'
of the Republic."
The eyes of the pirate chief involuntarily closed at the sug-
gestion, but his head nodded affirmatively. The speaker con-
tinued.
It is now but a week when this festival takes place. On
this occasion assemble the great, the noble, and the wealthy of
the sea city. Thither they bring all that is gorgeous in their
apparel, all that is precious among their ornaments and decora-
tions. Nobility and wealth here strive together which shall
most gloriously display itself. Here, too, is the beauty of the
city �the virgins of Venice �the very choice among her flocks.
Could there be prize more fortunate? Could there be prize
more easy of attainment ? The church of San Pietro di Castella
permits no armed men within its holy sanctuaries. There are
no apprehensions of peril ; the people who gather to the rites
are wholly weaponless. They can offer no defence against our
assault ; nor can this be foreseen. What place more lonely than
Olivolo ? Thither shall we repair the day before the festival,
and shelter ourselves from scrutiny. At the moment when the
crowd is greatest, we will dart upon our prey. We lack women;
we desire wealth. Shall we fail in either, when we have in re-
membrance the bold deeds of our ancient fathers, when they
looked with yearning on the fresh beauties of the Sabine vir-
gins ? These Venetian beauties are our Sabines. Thou, too�if
the bruit of thy followers loth thee no injustice�thou, too, bast
been overcome by one of these. She will doubtless be present
at this festival. Make her thine, and fear not that each of thy
brethren will do justice to his tastes and thine own. Here, now,
thou hast all. Either thou agreest to that which thy people de-