I knew it, otherwise I should never have found you out."
"Then you think that nobody has recognized me?"
"Nobody, unless in the same way as I did."
"None of the people here have seen my snuff-box."
I took the opportunity of handing over to Greppi Canano's cheque, and he gave me a receipt for it. Therese asked us to supper for the ensuing evening, and said,--
"There will be four of us in all."
Greppi seemed curious to know who the fourth person could be, but I right guessed it would be my dear son Cesarino.
As I went down once more to the ball-room two pretty female dominos attacked me right and left, telling me that Messer-Grande was waiting for me outside. They then asked me for some snuff, and I gave them a box ornamented with an indecent picture. I had the impudence to touch the spring and shew it them, and after inspecting it they exclaimed,--
"Fie, fie! your punishment is never to know who we are."
I was sorry to have displeased the two fair masquers, who seemed worth knowing, so I followed them, and meeting Barbaro, who knew everybody, I pointed them out to him, and heard to my delight that they were the two Marchionesses Q---- and F----. I promised Barbaro to go and see them. He said that everybody in the ball- room knew me, and that our bank was doing very well, though, of course, that was a trifle to me.
Towards the end of the ball, when it was already full daylight, a masquer, dressed as a Venetian gondolier, was accosted by a lady masquer, also in Venetian costume. She challenged the gondolier to prove himself a Venetian by dancing the 'forlana' with her. The gondolier accepted, and the music struck up, but the boatman, who was apparently a Milanese, was hooted, while the lady danced exquisitely. I was very fond of the dance, and I asked the unknown Venetian lady to dance it again with me. She agreed, and a ring was formed round us, and we were so applauded that we had to dance it over again. This would have sufficed if a very pretty shepherdess without a mask had not begged me to dance it with her. I could not refuse her, and she danced exquisitely; going round and round the circle three times, and seeming to hover in the air. I was quite out of breath. When it was finished, she came up to me and whispered my name in my ear. I was astonished, and feeling the charm of the situation demanded her name.
"You shall know," said she, in Venetian, "if you will come to the 'Three Kings.'"
"Are you alone?"
"No, my father and mother, who are old friends of yours, are with me"
"I will call on Monday."
What a number of adventures to have in one night! I went home wearily, and went to bed, but I was only allowed to sleep for two hours. I was roused and begged to dress myself. The countess, the marquis, and the count, all ready for Zenobia's wedding, teased me till I was ready, telling me it was not polite to keep a bride waiting. Then they all congratulated me on my breaking the bank and the run of luck against me. I told the marquis that it was his money that had brought me luck, but he replied by saying that he knew what had become of his money.
This indiscretion either on the count's part or the countess's surprised me greatly; it seemed to me contrary to all the principles in intrigue.
"Canano knew you," said the marquis, "by the way you opened your snuff-box, and he hopes to see us to dinner before long. He says he hopes you will win a hundred pounds weight of gold; he has a fancy for you."
"Canano," said I, "has keen eyes, and plays faro admirably. I have not the slightest wish to win his money from him."
We then started for the "Apple Garden," where we found a score of honest folks and the bride and bridegroom, who overwhelmed us with compliments. We soon put the company at their ease. At first our presence overawed them, but a little familiarity soon restored the general hilarity. We sat down to dinner, and among the guests were some very pretty girls, but my head was too full of Zenobia to care about them.