It was a glorious summer evening. The moon, rising over the city of Venice, shone down on towers and domes and marble palaces, and made a golden path in the rippling waters of the lagoon.
The squares of the city were all ablaze with lights, while from every window and balcony twinkling jets of flame found their reflection in the canals, and lengthened into shimmering arrows of gold.
There were no sounds save the calls of the boatmen, the soft lapping of the waves against the marble walls and steps, and occasional strains of music from the military band in the Piazza of St. Mark.
No place in all the world shines with more brilliancy than Venice in carnival time. The city is like a diamond, as it catches the myriad rays from moonlight and starlight, and flashes countless answering gleams into the shadows of the night.
It is small wonder that people travel from the farthest corners of the earth to watch the glitter and sparkle of this City of the Sea.
The Grand Canal, Venice. Notice the mooring-posts and the black gondola. The Grand Canal, Venice Notice the mooring-posts and the black gondola.
It was on this summer evening that Rafael Valla, a Venetian lad of fourteen, decided to become a soldier of the king.
He was sitting in the water-gate of his mother's house, pointing with his toe to the reflection in the canal of a particularly large and brilliant star. "If the starlight moves to the right of my toe," he said to himself, "I will go to the Piazza."