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Stradella   By: (1854-1909)

Book cover

First Page:

STRADELLA

[Illustration: 'But Ortensia did not even hear him, and sat quite still in her chair' ( See p. 271. )]

STRADELLA

BY

F. MARION CRAWFORD AUTHOR OF "SARACINESCA," "FAIR MARGARET," ETC., ETC.

ILLUSTRATED

New York THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

1909

All rights reserved

COPYRIGHT, 1908, BY F. MARION CRAWFORD.

COPYRIGHT, 1908, BY BUTTERICK PUBLISHING CO.

COPYRIGHT, 1909. BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.

Set up and electrotyped. Published October, 1909.

Norwood Press J. S. Cushing Co. Berwick & Smith Co. Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

'But Ortensia did not even hear him, and sat quite still in her chair' Frontispiece

FACING PAGE

'"This is the celebrated Maestro Alessandro Stradella of Naples"' 11

'The footman came back at last with a white face' 87

'The two Bravi faced the watch side by side' 243

'"The profession has two branches. We take lives, you take purses"' 282

'He began to look about for lodgings' 307

'Trombin advanced upon him slowly, looking more like an avenging demon than a man' 373

'She sat up in his arms and framed his face in her hands' 406

CHAPTER I

The Senator Michele Pignaver, being a childless widower of several years' standing and a personage of wealth and worth in Venice, made up his mind one day that he would marry his niece Ortensia, as soon as her education was completed. For he was a man of culture and of refined tastes, fond of music, much given to writing sonnets and to reading the works of the elegant Politian, as well as to composing sentimental airs for the voice and lute. He patronised arts and letters with vast credit and secret economy; for he never gave anything more than a supper and a recommendation to the poets, musicians, and artists who paid their court to him and dedicated to him their choicest productions. The supper was generally a frugal affair, but his reputation in ├Žsthetic matters was so great that a word from him to a leader of fashion, or a letter of introduction to a Venetian Ambassador abroad, often proved to be worth more than the gold he abstained from giving. He spoke Latin, he could read Greek, and his taste in poetry was so highly cultivated that he called Dante's verse rough, uncouth, and vulgar precisely as Horace Walpole, seventy or eighty years later, could not conceive how any one could prefer Shakespeare's rude lines to the elegant verses of Mr. Pope. For the Senator lived in the age when Louis XIV. was young, and Charles II. had been restored to the throne only a few years before the beginning of this story.

Pignaver was about fifty years old. There is no good reason why a widower of that age, robust and temperate, and hardly grey, should not take a wife; perhaps there is really no reason, either, why he should not marry a girl of eighteen, if she will have him, and where neither usage nor ecclesiastical ordinances are opposed to it, the young lady may even be his niece. Besides, in the present case, the Senator would appear to his peers and associates to be conferring a favour on the object of his elderly affections, and to be crowning the series of favours he had already conferred. For Ortensia was the penniless child of his brother in law, a scapegrace who had come to a bad end in Crete. The Senator's wife had taken the child to her heart, having none of her own, and had brought her up lovingly and wisely, little dreaming that she was educating her own successor. If she had known it, she might have behaved differently, for her lord had never succeeded in winning her affections, and she regarded him to the end with mingled distrust and dislike, while he looked upon her as an affliction and a thorn in his side... Continue reading book >>




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