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                            IN FIVE BOOKS.

                                BOOK III.

                      CHAPTER VI.   LONELY.

THE prince was a little near-sighted, and
not deeming it good manners to use the
glass that dangled by the black ribbon
over his waistcoat, when he found himself
to face face with "miladi," he had
approached to within a short distance of her
before he became aware of the agitated
expression of her face, and the unusual
carelessness of her toilet.

The instinct of coquetry would have
prevented Veronica from presenting herself
before Barletti in any unbecoming attire.
But if she had given the matter her most
serious consideration, she could have found
none better calculated to set off her striking
beauty than that which she now wore. A
long white wrapper fell to her feet. She
had covered her head with the voluminous
folds of a white lace shawl, one end of
which was thrown across her breast and
fell over her shoulder: and beneath the
delicate snowy lace her long black hair
streamed rippling to her waist.

"Oh, prince, there you are!" said
Veronica. "Paul told me you were in the
west loggia, and I ran down to catch you
before I dressed for dinner."

The words were flattering, inasmuch as
they implied great eagerness on the lady's
part to see him. But he must have been a
fatuously vain man who could have looked
in Veronica's face as she spoke and have
supposed her to be thinking of paying him

Barletti bowed, and stood awaiting what
more she had to say.

"Have you seen Paul?"

"Yes, signora. I saw him as I came in,
but I did not speak to him."

"Then you do not know that Sir John
has been, and still is, ill?"

"Dio buono! Ill? No. I know
nothing. What is the matter with ce bon

"I hope it is nothing serious: but I
cannot tell. I am uneasy about him; very

Barletti did not believe that miladi could
be suffering any acute anxiety on the score
of her lord's health. And he would have
considered it à priori very unlikely that she
should so suffer. But he thought it highly
proper and becoming that she should
assume anxiety. A frank show of indifference
would have disgusted him.

"Oh you must not alarm yourself, cara
signora," he said, soothingly. "What are
the symptoms? How long has he been
ill? I wonder that Paul said nothing to

Veronica hurriedly described the singular
swoon or trance into which Sir John had
fallen. "He says the heat made him faint,"
she added, "but——" And she shook her
head doubtfully.

"Really it is not unlikely," said Barletti.
"It may have been a giramento di capo
a mere swimming of the head. Such
things are not uncommon, and il nostro
caro Gale is not very strong. Pray tell
me if there is anything I can do for you in
Florence. I shall, of course, go back at
once. I could not think of intruding on
you under the circumstances."

"No, no, no! That is just the very
thing I hastened down to say. You must
remain and dine here, and stay all the evening
until Sir John retires."

"Butwould he not prefer—"began