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lucky than myself, who will be able to keep them.”
“ Nay, this will not suffice--thou art known to be abounding in sequins ; one of thy race and riches will never refuse a sure loan, with securities as certain as the laws of Venice. A thousand ducats in thy willing hand is no novelty."
They who call me rich, Signor Mask, aré pleased to joke with the unhappy child of a luckless race.
That I might have been above want--nay, that I am not downright needy; may be true ; but when they speak of a thousand ducats, they speak of affairs too weighty for my burthened shoulders. pleasure to purchase an amethyst, or a ruby, gallant Signore, there might possibly be dealings between us?”
“ I have need of gold, old man, and can spare thee jewels myself, at need. My wants are urgent, at this moment, and I have little time to lose in words--name thy conditions."
Were it your
“ One should have good securities, Signore, to be so peremptory in a matter of
66 Thou hast heard that the laws of Venice are not more certain.
A thousand sequins, and that quickly. Thou shall settle the usury with thine own conscience.”
Hosea thought that this was giving ample room to the treaty, and he began to listen more seriously.
Signore," he said, “ a thousand ducats are not pieked up at pleasure, from the pavement of the great square. He who would lend them, must first earn them with long and patient toil; and he who would borrow
" Waits at thy elbow.”
66 Should have a name and countenance well known on the Rialto.”
“ Thou lendest on sufficient pledges to masks, careful Hosea, or fame belies thy generosity.”
“ A sufficient pledge gives me power to see the way clearly, though the borrower should be
as much hidden as those up above. But here is none forthcoming Come to me to-morrow, masked or not, as may suit your own pleasure, for I have no impertinent desire to pry into any man's secrets, beyond what a regard to my own interests requires, and I will look into my coffers ; though those of no heir-apparent in Venice can be emptier."
“ My necessities are too urgent to brook delay. Hast thou the gold, on condition of naming thine own usury?"
“ With sufficient pledges in stones of price, I might rake together the sum, among our dispersed people, Signore. But he who goes on the island to borrow, as I shall be obliged to do, should be able to satisfy all doubts concerning the payment.”
“ The gold can then be had on that point I may be easy?"
Hosea hesitated, for he had in vain endeavoured to penetrate the other's disguise, and while he thought his assurance a favourable
omen, with a lender's instinct he disliked his impatience.
“ I have said, by the friendly aid of our people ;" he answered, with caution.
“ This uncertainty will not answer my need. Addio, Hosea, -I must seek elsewhere."
“ Signore, you could not be more hurried were the money to pay the cost of your nuptials. Could I find Isaac and Aaron within, at this late hour, I think I might be safe in saying, that part of the money might be had.”
“ I cannot trust to this chance."
“ Nay, Signore, the chance is but small, since Aaron is bed-ridden, and Isaac never fails to look into his affairs, after the toil of the day is ended. The honest Hebrew finds sufficient recreation in the employment, though I marvel at his satisfaction, since nothing but losses have come over our people the year past !"
“ I tell thee, Jew, no doubt must hang over the negotiation. The money, with pledges, and thine own conscience for arbiter between us; but no equivocal dealings, to be followed by a disappointment, under the pretence that second parties are not satisfied.”
“Just Daniel ! to oblige you, Signore, I think I may venture !—The well-known Hebrew, Levi of Livorno, has left with me a sack, containing the very sum of which there is question, and, under the conditions named, I will convert it to my uses, and repay the good jeweller his gold, with moneys of my own, at a later day."
“ I thank thee for the fact, Hosea ;” said the other, partially removing his mask, but as instantly replacing it. “ It will greatly shorten our negotiations. Thou hast not that sack of the Jew of Livorno beneath thy domino ?"
Hosea was speechless. The removal of the mask had taught him two material facts. He had been communicating his distrust of the Senate's intentions, concerning Donna Violetta, to an unknown person, and, possibly, to an agent of the police; and he had just deprived himself of the only argument he had ever found available, in refusing the attempts of Giacomo Gra