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Marietta A Maid of Venice   By: (1854-1909)

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The Novels of F. Marion Crawford In Twenty five Volumes Authorized Edition

MARIETTA

A Maid of Venice

by

F. MARION CRAWFORD

With Frontispiece

P. F. Collier & Son New York

1901

[Illustration: "I AM NOT ASLEEP." Marietta: A Maid of Venice .]

CHAPTER I

Very little was known about George, the Dalmatian, and the servants in the house of Angelo Beroviero, as well as the workmen of the latter's glass furnace, called him Zorzi, distrusted him, suggested that he was probably a heretic, and did not hide their suspicion that he was in love with the master's only daughter, Marietta. All these matters were against him, and people wondered why old Angelo kept the waif in his service, since he would have engaged any one out of a hundred young fellows of Murano, all belonging to the almost noble caste of the glass workers, all good Christians, all trustworthy, and all ready to promise that the lovely Marietta should never make the slightest impression upon their respectfully petrified hearts. But Angelo had not been accustomed to consider what his neighbours might think of him or his doings, and most of his neighbours and friends abstained with singular unanimity from thrusting their opinions upon him. For this, there were three reasons: he was very rich, he was the greatest living artist in working glass, and he was of a choleric temper. He confessed the latter fault with great humility to the curate of San Piero each year in Lent, but he would never admit it to any one else. Indeed, if any of his family ever suggested that he was somewhat hasty, he flew into such an ungovernable rage in proving the contrary that it was scarcely wise to stay in the house while the fit lasted. Marietta alone was safe. As for her brothers, though the elder was nearly forty years old, it was not long since his father had given him a box on the ears which made him see simultaneously all the colours of all the glasses ever made in Murano before or since. It is true that Giovanni had timidly asked to be told one of the secrets for making fine red glass which old Angelo had learned long ago from old Paolo Godi of Pergola, the famous chemist; and these secrets were all carefully written out in the elaborate character of the late fifteenth century, and Angelo kept the manuscript in an iron box, under his own bed, and wore the key on a small silver chain at his neck.

He was a big old man, with fiery brown eyes, large features, and a very pale skin. His thick hair and short beard had once been red, and streaks of the strong colour still ran through the faded locks. His hands were large, but very skilful, and the long straight fingers were discoloured by contact with the substances he used in his experiments.

He was jealous by nature, rather than suspicious. He had been jealous of his wife while she had lived, though a more devoted woman never fell to the lot of a lucky husband. Often, for weeks together, he had locked the door upon her and taken the key with him every morning when he left the house, though his furnaces were almost exactly opposite, on the other side of the narrow canal, so that by coming to the door he could have spoken with her at her window. But instead of doing this he used to look through a little grated opening which he had caused to be made in the wall of the glass house; and when his wife was seated at her window, at her embroidery, he could watch her unseen, for she was beautiful and he loved her. One day he saw a stranger standing by the water's edge, gazing at her, and he went out and threw the man into the canal. When she died, he said little, but he would not allow his own children to speak of her before him. After that, he became almost as jealous of his daughter, and though he did not lock her up like her mother, he used to take her with him to the glass house when the weather was not too hot, so that she should not be out of his sight all day.

Moreover, because he needed a man to help him, and because he was afraid lest one of his own caste should fall in love with Marietta, he took Zorzi, the Dalmatian waif, into his service; and the three were often together all day in the room where Angelo had set up a little furnace for making experiments... Continue reading book >>




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