+ ~ -
 
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
 
Report an Error
Go!
 
Go!
 
TOC
 

"No doubt; but it was with reference to
that part of the business in hand, that your ladyship
condescended to inquire at the beginning of
this conversation whether I were in need of
money. Permit me, eccelentissima signora,* to
repeat, that I am in truth very greatly in need
indeed in urgent needof some small supply."

"Remember, Signor Bartolommeo, that in
carrying out this little scheme you will be in a
very important degree serving your own interest.
For it is not likely that the old man your father,
when he shall have been made acquainted with
the conduct of his wife, and shall know that the
dishonour she has done him has been made the
common talk of the town, will persist in disinheriting
his son to enrich his widow."

"Most true, signora mia colendissima!† If
Ser Giustino have still sense and self-respect
enough to feel his position as he oughtwhich,
alas! maybe much doubtedsuch a result would
be likely to follow. But all that is uncertain,
very uncertain And my needs are certain
and pressing."

"And I repeat that they shall be cared for
liberally. Now, mark me well! The day and
hour when this little comedy shall be played out,
is not yet fixed. It shall be played very shortly;
as soon as I have arranged the matter with the
knot of friends who are to be the chief performers.
You are to hold yourself in readiness to
do your part any evening on which you may be
called on. You are in the habit, I suppose, of
being seen in the house from time to time?"

"Now and then! . . . . Rarely enough, to tell
your ladyship the truth. I am not received there
in a manner to make my visits very frequent."

"But they are sufficiently so, I presume, for
you to be known to the servant, and to be sure
of not being refused admittance?"

"Oh! for that matter, yes, your ladyship.
They could hadly refuse to open my father's door
to me."

"Very good. Perhaps it would be well to
drop in two or three times during the next week
or so, and comport yourself in a manner to show
the woman that she has nothing to fear from
you. Be quiet, inoffensive, soberyou understand
me? Then you have nothing further to do
than to await my summons. It shall be brought
you by the man who conducted you hither.
My friends will be ready in their hiding-place.
A dark night shall be selected. You will cause
the door to be opened. That is all that is required
of you. My friends will do the rest.
Have you marked me?"

"Every word, your most excellent ladyship. I
shall not fail to be ready for your orders."

"Let it be understood, then, that you will be
found any evening, without the necessity of any
further communication, at the Osteria del Giardino.
You will know the man with whom you
spoke to-day? To make all certain, he shall say,
when he calls for you, ' The comedy for to-night
is Love's Revenge.' That shall be your password.
Now take this purse. When the trick has
been played, you shall not want for more. So it
is all understood and agreed?"

"In every point, most gracious lady," said
Bartolommeo, rising and making a profound bow.
"Doubt not that all shall be done accurately,
according to your orders. I shall be found at
the Osteria."

"Enough," said the duchess, rising also. " Of
course," she added, " it will be necessary to let
fall no word of this little plan, or of this interview,
till the play has been played out. Afterwards
I care not. To speak before, would only
spoil the scheme, and lose you many a purse
hereafter such as that now in your hand."

"Of course, your ladyship. What am I that
such a caution should be needed!"

"Good! Send me the man who called you to
me. You will find him below."
And the duchess returned up the hill to the
villa, grimly satisfied with the result of her interview,
and specially with the change she had
made in the mode of conducting it, as soon as
she had discovered the manner of man she had to
deal with.

As she alighted at the door of her home, she
drew a letter from her bosom, the same which
she had written and addressed to her brother,
and turning to her faithful servitor, Pippo, said:

"Saddle for Massa to-morrow morning. Deliver
this into the hands of my brother. Wait
for his orders before returning. Speak to none
here of your errand."

Old Pippo bowed and took the letter in silence.
The duchess mounted to her room to count
the hours till the next act in her " little comedy"
should be ready for performance.

—————
* According to the ceremonial of that time, the
only personages for whom the title of Eccellentissimo
was reserved, in Tuscany, were the Dukes Strozzi
and Salviati. It shortly afterwards became almost
universal.
The phrase may be tolerably accurately rendered
by " your most worshipful ladyship."

Now ready, price 5s. Gd., bound in cloth,
THE SEVENTH VOLUME
OF
ALL THE YEAR ROUND.
Containing from Numbers 151 to 176.
The Six preceding Volumes are always to be had.
They include the following Novels:
A TALE OF TWO CITIES. By CHARLES DICKENS.
THE WOMAN IN WHITE. By WILKIE COLLINS.
A DAY'S RIDE, A LIFE'S ROMANCE. By CHARLES
LEVEE.
GREAT EXPECTATIONS. By CHARLES DICKENS.
A STRANGE STORY. By SIR EDWARD BULWEK LYTTON.