The Island of Enchantment

      Justus Miles Forman / History & Fiction
The Island of Enchantment

This is a short work of historical fiction. From the beginning: “Evil tidings have their own trick of spreading abroad. You cannot bury them. The news which had come secretly to Venice was known from the Giudecca to Madonna dell'Orto in two hours. Before noon it was in Murano. Young Zuan Gradenigo, making his way on foot from the crowded Merceria into the Piazza di San Marco, ran upon his friend, the young German captain, whom men called Il Lupo—his name was Wölfart—and learned, what almost every other man in the city already knew, how Lewis of Hungary, taking excuse of a merchant ship looted in Venetian waters, was on his way to a second invasion, and had given over the Dalmatian towns to the ban of Bosnia to ravage. The two men were still eagerly discussing the matter and its probable outcome, half an hour later, standing beside one of the gayly painted booths which, at this time—the spring of 1355—were clustered about the foot of the great Campanile, when a servant in the livery of the doge touched young Zuan's arm and, in a low tone, gave him a message. Gradenigo turned back to the German. "My uncle wishes to see me at once in the palace," he said. "If you are not pressed, go to my house and wait for me there. I may have important news for you." Then, with a parting wave of the hand, he went quickly across the Piazzetta and under the gateway to the right of St. Mark's. At the head of the great stair two men were awaiting him, and they led him at once through a narrow passage with secret sliding-doors to an inner cabinet of the private apartments of the newly elected doge, his uncle, Giovanni Gradenigo. The doge sat alone in a great carven chair before a table which was littered with papers and with maps and with writing-materials. From a high window at one side colored beams of light slanted down and rested in crimson and blue splashes upon the dark oak of the table and what lay there, and upon the rich velvet of the doge's robe, and upon his peculiar cap of office. He was not a very old man, but he was far from strong. Indeed, even at this time he was slowly wasting away with the disease which carried him off a year later, but as he sat there, bowed before the table, he looked old and very worn and tired. His face had no color at all. It was like a dead man's face—cold and damp. And yet, although he was ill and seemed quite unfit for labors or duties of any sort, he was in reality an unusually keen and shrewd man, capable of unremitting toil. There burned somewhere within the shrunken, pallid body an astonishingly fierce flame of life. He had been elected to office hard upon the Faliero catastrophe partly because his name was one of the very greatest in Venice—two others of his house had worn the cap and ring within the century past—but chiefly because his sympathies were as remote as possible from the liberal views of the poor old man who had preceded him. He was patrician before all else, and fiercely tenacious of patrician rights—fiercely proud of his name and possessions. He did not move as his nephew entered the room, only his pale eyes rose slowly to the young man's face and as slowly dropped again to the table before him. Young Zuan pulled forward one of the heavy, uncomfortable chairs of carved wood and sat down in it. He was wondering very busily what his uncle wanted of him, but he knew the old man too well to ask questions. Besides that, it would not have been respectful. Presently the pale eyes rose again. "You have—heard?" asked the doge, in his thin voice.”
Read online

    The Quest: A Romance

      Justus Miles Forman / Romance & Love
The Quest: A Romance

From Ste. Marie's little flat which overlooked the gardens they drove down the quiet Rue du Luxembourg, and, at the Place St. Sulpice, turned to the left. They crossed the Place St. Germain des Prés, where lines of homebound working people stood waiting for places in the electric trams, and groups of students from the Beaux Arts or from Julien's sat under the awnings of the Deux Magots, and so, beyond that busy square, they came into the long and peaceful stretch of the Boulevard St. Germain. The warm sweet dusk gathered round them as they went, and the evening air was fresh and aromatic in their faces. There had been a little gentle shower in the late afternoon, and roadway and pavement were still damp with it. It had wet the new-grown leaves of the chestnuts and acacias that bordered the street. The scent of that living green blended with the scent of laid dust and the fragrance of the last late-clinging chestnut blossoms: it caught up a fuller richer burden from the overflowing front of a florist's shop: it stole from open windows a savoury whiff of cooking, a salt tang of wood smoke, and the soft little breeze—the breeze of coming summer—mixed all together and tossed them and bore them down the long quiet street; and it was the breath of Paris, and it shall be in your nostrils and mine, a keen agony of sweetness, so long as we may live and so wide as we may wander—because we have known it and loved it: and in the end we shall go back to breathe it when we die.The strong white horse jogged evenly along over the wooden pavement, its head down, the little bell at its neck jingling pleasantly as it went. The cocher, a torpid purplish lump of gross flesh, pyramidal, pear-like, sat immobile in his place. The protuberant back gave him an extraordinary effect of being buttoned into his fawn-coloured coat wrong-side-before. At intervals he jerked the reins like a large strange toy and his strident voice said—"Hè!" to the stout white horse, which paid no attention whatever. Once the beast stumbled and the pear-like lump of flesh insulted it, saying—"Hè! veux, tu, cochon!"Before the War Office a little black slip of a milliner's girl dodged under the horse's head, saving herself and the huge box slung to her arm by a miracle of agility, and the cocher called her the most frightful names, without turning his head, and in a perfunctory tone quite free from passion.Young Hartley laughed and turned to look at his companion, but Ste. Marie sat still in his place, his hat pulled a little down over his brows, and his handsome chin buried in the folds of the white silk muffler with which, for some obscure reason, he had swathed his neck."This is the first time in many years," said the Englishman, "that I have known you to be silent for ten whole minutes. Are you ill or are you making up little epigrams to say at the dinner party?"CONTENTSSte. Marie Hears of a Mystery and Meets a Dark LadyThe Ladder to the StarsSte. Marie makes a Vow, but a Pair of Eyes haunt HimOld David StewartSte. Marie sets forth upon the Great AdventureA Brave Gentleman Receives a Hurt, but Volunteers in a Good CauseCaptain Stewart makes a Kindly OfferSte. Marie Meets with a Misadventure and Dreams a DreamSte. Marie goes upon a Journey and Richard Hartley Pleads for HimCaptain Stewart EntertainsA Golden Lady Enters—The Eyes againThe Name of the Lady with the Eyes—Evidence heaps up SwiftlyThe Road to ClamartIn the GardenA Conversation at La LierreThe Black CatA Conversation OverheardThose who were Left BehindThe Invalid takes the AirThe Stone Bench at the Rond PointA Mist Dims the Shining StarA Settlement RefusedThe Last Arrow—and a PromiseThe Joint in the ArmourCoira goes over to the Enemy"I won't go!"The Night's WorkCoira's Little HourThe Scales of InjusticeJourney's EndIllustrations"He fell on his knees at her feet""It seemed to him that her eyes called him.""'I fancy I know who the man was.'""'You're twenty-two. Have you eve
Read online

    Jason: A Romance

      Justus Miles Forman / Romance & Love
Jason: A Romance

From Ste. Marie's little flat, which overlooked the gardens, they drove down the quiet rue du Luxembourg, and at the Place St. Sulpice turned to the left. They crossed the Place St. Germain des Prés, where lines of home-bound working-people stood waiting for places in the electric trams, and groups of students from the Beaux Arts or from Julien's sat under the awnings of the Deux Magots, and so, beyond that busy square, they came into the long and peaceful stretch of the Boulevard St. Germain. The warm, sweet dusk gathered round them as they went, and the evening air was fresh and aromatic in their faces. There had been a little gentle shower in the late afternoon, and roadway and pavement were still damp with it. It had wet the new-grown leaves of the chestnuts and acacias that bordered the street. The scent of that living green blended with the scent of laid dust and the fragrance of the last late-clinging chestnut blossoms; it caught up a fuller, richer burden from the overflowing front of a florist's shop; it stole from open windows a savory whiff of cooking, a salt tang of wood smoke; and the soft little breeze--the breeze of coming summer--mixed all together and tossed them and bore them down the long, quiet street; and it was the breath of Paris, and it shall be in your nostrils and mine, a keen agony of sweetness, so long as we may live and so wide as we may wander--because we have known it and loved it--and in the end we shall go back to breathe it when we die.
Read online