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It is happily as unnecessary as it would be unwise to inquire into the ancestry of Bellaroba, a meek-eyed girl of Venice, with whom I have here some concern. Her mother was La Fragiletta, of the Old Ghetto, and her father may have been of the Council of Ten, or possibly a Doge. No one could deny it, for no one knew his name.

"I will marry you, Bellaroba," the boy replied, as he turned suddenly, put his arms about her and took a long kiss. Bellaroba, in a bath of love, made him free of her lips. For a while the mule had to do his pacing alone. "Oh, Angioletto, Angioletto," whispered the girl, with a hidden face, "I have never been happy like this before."

Finally, as he was more Italian than Tuscan, and more boy than either, he decided to jump the danger. The vision of Bellaroba shy in the rose-garden, of himself crowning her soft hair, bending over her, kissing her upturned face; of the Countess behind one thicket looking for him, and the Count behind another looking for Bellaroba it was too much to resist!

He lost his little store of wit, sagged like a broken sunflower, and was finally pelted from the door by a storm of Venetian curses, in which all his ancestors, himself, and any descendants he might dare to have, were heavily involved. Bellaroba, trembling in her bed, heard him go with a sinking heart. "Olimpia will come and murder me now," she said to herself.

The priests joked with the women, the very urchins coaxed for kisses. Every street corner had its lovers' tryst, never a garden walk without its loitering pair, never a lady came out of a church door but there stood a devout adorer to beg a touch of holy water from her finger-tip. "How happy this people is," cried Bellaroba, flushed and sparkling, to her little lord.

No wonder at all, but pity there should be; for the Captain played an unworthy part. I suppose his standard was not very high. I know he was hungry; I know that nothing degrades a man so low as degradation since what he believes himself, that he is; but I find it hard to excuse him for draining Bellaroba of her little secrets.

The lovers trilled their happiness to each other: surely nothing but pleasure and a smooth life could come out of so treeful a place! "In our Venice, you must know," said Bellaroba, "we set great store by green boughs, having so few of them. We think that harshness and clamour may hunt the canals, but that birds can sing in gardens of a world really joyful.

And he came from Borgo San Sepolcro far cry from windy Chioggia a place among the brown Tuscan hills, just where they melt into Umbria; and he was by trade a minstrel, and going to Ferrara. Of so much, with many bows, he informed the two girls, being questioned by Olimpia. But he looked at Bellaroba as he spoke, and she listened the harder and looked the longer of the two.

But we know that if Assyrian balm was ever for the world's chaffer it was in the days of Borso, the good Duke. Angioletto loved his Bellaroba with all his heart: no debonair Lionella could decoy him to be untrue. But he was debonair himself, of high courage, and mettlesome; and he may have gone a little too far. He was now become her confidant, secretary, bosom friend.

Olimpia made a lunge at his right side. The Captain hugged Bellaroba there. At the next moment the long knife was below his left arm, buried to the hilt, and defender and defence rolled heavily to the floor. Olimpia walked to the table and helped herself to the Captain's Val Pulicella. Count Guarini, coming in an hour later, found his murdered lieutenant for his only guest.