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fancied that she saw a flotilla of the gay masquers with mandolin and song suddenly quenching their torches in the dark depths. And she felt that she was moving in a dream.
The dream was deeper still when on her balcony at midnight she heard faint and strange music from where some Greek warships reared their shadows on the shadow. She thought of the old halcyon's nest, while all the city seemed floating on the water. She had felt an exile and a wanderer in every other place; and she wondered all at once over the sense that here she was perfectly at home. Perfectly at home, yet at home in a strange country; one whose elusive charm seemed but the atmosphere of another star. Perhaps "The Golden Book of Venice" had shed the charm over her long ago, making it doubly familiar.
Although Mr. Gordon gave no special evidence of being more aware of Francesca's existence than of another's, yet far in her subconsciousness she began to understand that it would not be Venice without him. If at the Accademia she sat before the adorable Bellinis, she knew that in another room he was sketching Basaiti's little angel whose face was full of love as he watched the beautiful dead Venetian fisher-boy to whom the painter's power had given the majesty of young divinity. Strolling one afternoon through the grassy paths at Torcello, having studied the mo
saics of the old ruins, he happened to leave the others and walk along with her. "These are the mountains on which Titian used to gaze," he said. "No wonder he became the master of all color, with these shifting tints teaching him their secrets from dawn till dark, every hour drowned in sheets of melting hues in deep water and shoal. Think of a whole city illuminated with such work!"
"I think with shame that I once wrote a monograph on Venice," she said. "The temerity of it!"
"You know better now. No, it is not to be told about. Venice is a state of being."
"And the Venetian could do nothing else but make it beautiful, I suppose," she said. "He must put it in accord with the beauty about it."
"The beauty of wilds and waters. thought you would feel it." The dark eyes filled impulsively. She hoped he did. not see. "You must go to the Frari tomorrow," he added quickly. "And when you have stood near the ashes in which the master's great flame is quenched, and have had all the emotions," with a gleam of the old spirit, "then you will let me take you into the sacristy for the exquisite appeal of two of the neglected Tiepolos there?"
To this dignified tenor all his persiflage had come. And although he failed to ap
pear next day, yet when afterward in the Scuola di San Rocco they could see next to nothing, he was presently on the scene and leading them into another room and to the magnificent majesty of the white Christ before Pilate. And once, as they came from the Redentore, crossing the Giudecca water they met his gondola, and he turned and went with them to San Giorgio, where, as Miss Maria could not climb the plane, he mounted with Francesca, and together they thrilled to the boom of the big bell striking the hour and shivering through them, and together they looked over blue sea and far hill, and dome and spire and column and lagoon under the azure embracing sky, while the wind blew about them. "Quivering through aërial gold,'" he quoted. "It is a sort of heavenly suspension between past and future. Only an evanescent apparition here now, and one day, one night, we ourselves might almost see the dead, as they did in Shelley's fancy,
"Lead a rapid masque of death
O'er the waters of our path."
"How Shelley felt the ethereal and Browning the material of Venice!" she exclaimed.
"And Byron the human and grandiose. I fancy Milton thought of Venice when he saw that fabric 'rise like an exhalation.'"
"Do you know," she said, hesitatingly, "you surprise me a little with your poetry. I had thought of you only in relation to science."
"Science is poetry," he answered her. Thus with every day, in her thought, Gordon became associated with all this ghost of ineffable beauty, and in face of the mystical work of the surrounding atmosphere she felt her standards changing, undeserved shame signifying nothing, emotion dearer than intellect, and something of the divine of the poetry of passion.
After a time, however, Mr. Gordon was off on a fishing-trip in the Bay of Istria; and Miss Maria thought it too hot for further sight-seeing. Francesca went with Filomène, who loved the horrible, into dungeons underneath the level of the green and slipping tide, where it had been so simple to pass the dead out of sight, and into chambers where the blackness of old
sins and crimes threw into sweet relief all the grace and light and romance of the days she had just known in this waterworld of wonder. On her balcony, wrapped with the veil of the soft and tender night, she recalled mornings in the lesser canals and in rios that were strips of dark green translucence with golden vistas out beyond, passing between high dwellings where brown-eyed girls with a sea-tan on the rose of their cheeks, glanced over upper balconies hung with gay rugs, where the gondola glided beside high garden-walls, over which climbed and fell heavy rose-garlands, and fluttered feathery acacia-tops, a tangle of perfumes wafting along with them, or nights with a sudden emergence from imprisoning gloom to the wide breath of open water; and remembering these, she missed the high companionship she had had in them. And as now she watched the urchins below, their eyes full of the brown luster of black diamonds, having defied Luisa with every vile objurgation, in speech of silver, go swimming off the riva there,—such mornings, such nights, seemed years ago. Somehow, life was no longer what it had been, what she had thought it; she could almost go and feed the pigeons in the square, or take tea with the tourists in the shops and eat candied grapes on straws while the band played, so far had her Venice withdrawn, the old Venice of which, all unaware to her, Arthur Gordon had made himself a part. Indeed she was very unhappy; she had thrown life away.
How delicious had been the satisfaction in all the recognition of beauty,-out of the ruins of splendid lives; how wonderful the silence! To make all this loveliness perhaps it was worth while for the fighters and revelers to have lived, to have built their iridescent palaces, to have had the decorative genius of the world at their service. Yet what did it avail them now? now? What did their conquests, their triumphal sumptuousness, signify to them. now? The fisherfolk, their forebears, were as happy while they lived, as well off, being dead! Of what use struggle and fame to any? Why sacrifice joy for such poor increment? Why sacrifice another's joy? Of what value presently to her to have the praise of her last article in the mouth of all? Better that her name with its stain should be forgotten. Oh,
the pettiness of her work, of her aim, in the face of Venice! Francesca had begun to doubt her wisdom.
But then to what purpose? If Arthur Gordon had ever been moved by anything but a capricious fancy, he was no longer moved even by that. She had not forgotten those bitter words of his. He had said it was the end. Perhaps,-nay surely, it was best so. But oh, Venice itself, this high enchantress, was dust and ashes!
Francesca went early one evening, with Mrs. Daniel and Miss Maria to call on some friends of theirs at their hotel. And while they went in she remained in the gondola, beside the garden, seeing others go and come. She saw a royal lady embark with her suite, and wondered of her happiness; and she saw the ruddy sunset gild spires and domes, and heard convent-bell and church-bell die in music; and she felt as if her soul were afloat in the purple of the gathering twilight and the soft evening wind, and the divine dolor that is neither grief nor gladness, that sometimes comes with the ringing of bells over water, possessed her. Soon, as night should fall softly, the moon would be sending up her silver before she came herself behind San Giorgio.
Her friends had evidently much to say, by their delay, or were looking at lace, the Venice lace that spreads its traps alike for wary and unwary, forgetting her while she waited in this cool evening serenity, and saw palace and star mirrored in the still green tide.
Some one came hurriedly down the walk, and Vittorio handed Mr. Gordon aboard, uttering a quick word as he came, and Vittorio at once wound his way out among the others and into clear space of water. "I have told the dear ladies that while they are repeating to one another all the news in their letters, you and I will take the privilege of old acquaintance and
slip down to hear the singing," he said, seating himself beside her. "And I leave my gondola at their service. Ah, this is good, after 'the dripping moonlight mesh spangled with herring-scale'!"
Daylight, and all its trail of color, had slipped away, and it was now that clear dusk upon the waters that belongs to sweet states of feeling and moods of the melancholy that underlies all joy. This and that gondola passed along and paused where the singers of the lighted float enchanted the night. Vittorio paused, too, on the outer edge of the increasing fleet where the gondoliers held their craft suspended and now and then joined in the song half under the breath, their figures high upon the stern, dark against the dark. A sighing of wind from the sea wafted the song away; and in the shadow the troop of the steel ferros, the high beaks of the gondolas, glanced in the light from the float, and rose and fell and swayed and swam like a shoal of dark and bright seahorses, sea-monsters reined by the old knights of Venice. Then Vittorio put strength to his oar, and they slipped out. upon the great lagoon. And here the breath of flowers came on the soft gale, and here the keen salt of the sea, and now a strain of the "Santa Lucia," and now it was only a ripple of the low water. Far away was yesterday, far away to-morrow. The great sweet dark seemed to press them closer together; and his arm stole about her unresisting, and her head was on his shoulder, and his kisses fell upon her silken hair, her brow, her lips. Alas, how many other lovers here had felt the weaving of the spell! But as Vittorio brought his boat about, the moon had risen and was pouring her splendor over the city that lay, an opalescent bubble, on the water, and was silvering the way before these as if it led them into the very court of light and joy.
BY MARK F. WILCOX
HE new U. S. A., whose capital is Cape Town, is a land of big things -big plantations, big mines, big opportunity, and big obstacles. The young man who seeks his fortune here has the chance to carve out a generous slice of destiny, but he must be aware of the difficulties in the way. One cannot praise enough this Southern Brobdingnag, and all that has been published concerning its huge resources is not overdrawn; at the same time one should know of the giants that abide there. Chief of them are Bluetongue, Drought, Coast-fever, and Rinderpest, whose portraits are drawn in the present article in impressionistic fashion, but are none the less studies from the real life in South Africa.
He would have to go back to the mines and spend another dreary five or seven years saving the usual sixty pounds sterling necessary to start a man in life with a dozen cattle and a couple of wives. But Charlie Maduba proceeded to disprove these forebodings by becoming with his horse a member of the native mounted police.
He had the Noodsberg district, which included about twenty miles square of high, rugged hills about the two big, flattopped mountains. At the end of the year Charlie had become the despair of every marriageable girl and the foe of every swain in the district. He paid no attention to any of them, however, until, having saved twelve sovereigns out of his thirty shillings a month, he suddenly bought himself the loveliest damsel in Esidumbini, and built a kraal ten miles north of that
The strangest and most ferocious mon- place, almost under the shadow of the big ster is Blue-tongue. Noodsberg itself.
Charlie Maduba did the most foolish thing in his life when he spent every penny he had upon a gray mare. It is true she was the most magnificent specimen ever seen by the natives of Esidumbini, standing fifteen hands high, of exquisite proportion, with a coat of the texture of satin and a mane and tail of glossy black. But all this made her the more hazardous as an investment.
Everybody prophesied the death of the horse and the ultimate ruin of the owner.
His wife, Umlilo (which means fire), was aptly named. At their wedding they made a handsome couple, and no one was happier than Umlilo; but too late she found that the horse was much dearer to Charlie than herself. Forthwith there grew in her heart a deadly hate for Ingelosi, the gray mare.
Charlie kept his horse in a large, thatched shed, carefully shut up every night until after the poisonous mists and dew had fled before the rising sun. In the