To-day," said Piero to himself, "it is this poor devil who cried to me to shield him when I was forced to denounce him to the Signoria; to-morrow, for some caprice of their Excellencies--it may be Piero Salin!"
Girolamo never seemed to remember that this son-in-law was a great man among the people; to him he was only Piero Salin, barcariol; the single token of the old man's favor was that in his thought he no longer added the despicable word toso; and it was a proof that he was mellowing with the years, for Girolamo never forgot this unwelcome and dishonorable past, and Piero was always ill at ease in his presence.
But when the wedding oration had been preached over those twelve bridal pairs, and the wedding benediction had been granted, it was not Gabriele, the boyish betrothed of Toinetta, who brought the blushing bride, partly in triumph and partly in pique, to her father's side, but Piero Salin, the handsomest gondolier on the lagoons, the most daring and dreaded foe of all the established traghetti.
For such an employ there is none like Piero Salin for daring and intrigue; and the assassins may linger long in hiding on the route to Rome."
Piero Salin had been secretly summoned by the Ten and given an indefinite leave of absence from Venice, together with a large discretionary power in the direction of his wanderings, with certain other passes and perquisites which bespoke a curious confidence in one who had been known for a successful and much dreaded bandit gondolier.
Piero Salin was a splendid specimen of the people--tall, broad-shouldered, gifted by nature and trained by wind and wave to the very perfection of his craft; positive, nonchalant, and masterful; affable when not thwarted; of fewer words than most Venetians; an adept at all the intricacies of gondolier intrigue, and fitted by intimate knowledge to circumvent the tosi.
And so it chanced, that because of the stress of the time, Piero Salin floated off in triumph to Murano, named General of the Border Forces, with secret orders from the Ten.
Piero Salin stood in the doorway as he glanced up from the drawings that littered his table--the dark oak table which had seemed a centre of cheer to Girolamo, when, in this very chamber, his child had made a radiance for him in which the lines of his life shone large and satisfying.
Weeks after Fra Francesco had disappeared from the convent a letter was brought by the gastaldo of Nicolotti, Piero Salin, who, in spite of opposition among the brothers, persisted in delivering it with his own hand, though it was rare that any one outside his usual circle was permitted to hold an interview with Fra Paolo; but Piero's masterful ways had not left him, and when he willed to do a thing the wills of others counted little.
The stakes are high for the friars' game--five thousand scudi apiece and a promise of Church preferment; but Piero Salin hath ways of doing his duty!
Since the Senate hath need of his brave service and hath named Piero Salin, for exigencies of the Republic, Condottiere, with honors and men of artillery to do him service."
It was hatched in the Orsini palace, in that holy city, not unknown to some of their Eminences; the chief accomplices are friars--we have the names of the other two; and Piero Salin is on the watch.