It was evening. Multitudes of light clouds, partially illumined by the moonbeams, overspread the horizon, and through them floated the full moon in tranquil majesty, while her splendour was reflected by every wave of the Adriatic Sea. All was hushed around; gently was the water rippled by the night wind; gently did the night wind sigh through the Colonnades of Venice.
It was midnight; and still sat a stranger, solitary and sad, on the border of the great canal. Now with a glance he measured the battlements and proud towers of the city; and now he fixed his melancholy eyes upon the waters with a vacant stare. At length he spoke –
“Wretch that I am, whither shall I go? Here sit I in Venice, and what would it avail to wander further? What will become of me? All now slumber, save myself! the Doge rests on his couch of down; the beggar’s head presses his straw pillow; but for ME there is no bed except the cold, damp earth! There is no gondolier so wretched but he knows where to find work by day and shelter by night—while I— while I—Oh! dreadful is the destiny of which I am made the sport!”
He began to examine for the twentieth time the pockets of his tattered garments.
“No! not one paolo, by heavens!—and I hunger almost to death.”
He unsheathed his sword; he waved it in the moonshine, and sighed, as he marked the glittering of the steel.