"Don Giacomo and I are talking of marrying," said she.
"Marriage, mia carissima," he replied, "ought to be well considered beforehand."
"Yes, when one has time; but my dear Giacomo cannot wait, and we shall have plenty of time to think it over afterwards."
"As you are going to marry," said the duke, "you can put off your departure, or return after the wedding."
"I can neither put it off nor return, my dear duke. We have made up our minds, and if we repent we have plenty of time before us."
He laughed and said we would talk it over next day. I gave my future bride a kiss which she returned with ardour, and the duke and I went to the club, where we found the Duke de Monte Leone dealing.
"My lord," said I, "I am unlucky playing on my word of honour, so I hope you will allow me to stake money."
"Just as you please; it comes to the same thing, but don't trouble yourself. I have made a bank of four thousand ducats that you may be able to recoup yourself for your losses."
"Thanks, I promise to break it or to lose as much."
I drew out six thousand ducats, gave two thousand ducats to the Duke de Matalone, and began to punt at a hundred ducats. After a short time the duke left the table, and I finally succeeded in breaking the bank. I went back to the place by myself, and when I told the duke of my victory the next day, he embraced me with tears of joy, and advised me to stake money for the future.
As the Princess de Vale was giving a great supper, there was no play that evening. This was some respite. We called on Leonilda, and putting off talking of our marriage till the day after we spent the time in viewing the wonders of nature around Naples. In the evening I was introduced by a friend at the princess's supper, and saw all the highest nobility of the place.
Next morning the duke told me that he had some business to do, and that I had better go and see Leonilda, and that he would call for me later on. I went to Leonilda, but as the duke did not put in an appearance we could not settle anything about our marriage. I spent several hours with her, but I was obliged to obey her commands, and could only shew myself amorous in words. Before leaving I repeated that it only rested with her to unite our lives by indissoluble ties, and to leave Naples almost immediately.
When I saw the duke he said,--
"Well, Don Giacomo, you have spent all the morning with my mistress; do you still wish to marry her?"
"More than ever; what do you mean?"
"Nothing; and as you have passed this trial to which I purposely subjected you, we will discuss your union tomorrow, and I hope you will make this charming woman happy, for she will be an excellent wife."
"I agree with you."
When we went to Monte Leone's in the evening, we saw a banker with a good deal of gold before him. The duke told me he was Don Marco Ottoboni. He was a fine-looking man, but he held the cards so closely together in his left hand that I could not see them. This did not inspire me with confidence, so I only punted a ducat at a time. I was persistently unlucky, but I only lost a score of ducats. After five or six deals the banker, asked me politely why I staked such small sums against him.
"Because I can't see half the pack," I replied, "and I am afraid of losing."
Some of the company laughed at my answer.
Next night I broke the bank held by the Prince the Cassaro, a pleasant and rich nobleman, who asked me to give him revenge, and invited me to supper at his pretty house at Posilipo, where he lived with a virtuosa of whom he had become amorous at Palermo. He also invited the Duke de Matalone and three or four other gentlemen. This was the only occasion on which I held the bank while I was at Naples, and I staked six thousand ducats after warning the prince that as it was the eve of my departure I should only play for ready money.
He lost ten thousand ducats, and only rose from the table because he had no more money. Everybody left the room, and I should have done the same if the prince's mistress had not owed me a hundred ducats.