"Dear heart," said I, "you have not shewn me all your perfections till now, when we are about to part; you make me regret you are going back to Venice. Today you won all hearts."

"Keep me then, with you, and I will ever be as I have been to-day. By the way, did you see my uncle?"

"I think so. Was it not he who was in continual attendance?"

"Yes. I recognized him by his ring. Did he look, at me?"

"All the time, and with an air of the greatest astonishment. I avoided catching his eye, which roved from you to me continually."

"I should like to know what the good man thinks! You will see him again to-morrow. I am sure he will have told M. Querini that, I am his niece, and consequently not yours.

"I expect so, too."

"And if M. Querini says as much to me to-morrow, I, expect I shall have to, admit the fact. What do you think?"

"You must undoubtedly tell him the truth, but frankly and openly, and so as not to let him think that you have need of him to return to Venice. He is not your father, and has no right over your liberty."

"Certainly not."

"Very good. You must also agree that I am not your uncle, and that the bond between us is, of the most tender description. Will, there be any difficulty is that?"

"How can you ask me such a question? The link between us makes me feel proud, and will ever do so."

"Well, well, I say no more. I trust entirely in your tact. Remember that Querini and no other must take you back to Venice; he must treat you as if you were his daughter. If he will not consent, you shall not return at all."

"Would to God it were so!"

Early the next morning I got a note from M. Querini requesting me to call on him, as he wanted to speak to me on a matter of importance.

"We are getting on," said Marcoline. "I am very glad that things have taken this turn, for when you come back you can tell me the whole story, and I can regulate my conduct accordingly."

I found Querini and Morosini together. They gave me their hands when I came in, and Querini asked me to sit down, saying that there would be nothing in our discussion which M. Morosini might not hear.

"I have a confidence to make to you, M. Casanova," he began; "but first I want you to do me the same favor."

"I can have no secrets from your excellency."

"I am obliged to you, and will try to deserve your good opinion. I beg that you will tell me sincerely whether you know the young person who is with you, for no one believes that she is your niece."

"It is true that she is--not my niece, but not being acquainted with her relations or family I cannot be said to know her in the sense which your excellency gives to the word. Nevertheless, I am proud to confess that I love her with an affection which will not end save with my life."

"I am delighted to hear you say so. How long have you had her?"

"Nearly two months."

"Very good! How did she fall into your hands?"

"That is a point which only concerns her, and you will allow me not to answer that question."

"Good! we will go on. Though you are in love with her, it is very possible that you have never made any enquiries respecting her family."

"She has told me that she has a father and a mother, poor but honest, but I confess I have never been curious enough to enquire her name. I only know her baptismal name, which is possibly not her true one, but it does quite well for me."

"She has given you her true name."

"Your excellency surprises me! You know her, then?"

"Yes; I did not know her yesterday, but I do now. Two months . . . Marcoline . . . yes, it must be she. I am now certain that my man is not mad."

"Your man?"

"Yes, she is his niece. When we were at London he heard that she had left the paternal roof about the middle of Lent. Marcoline's mother, who is his sister, wrote to him. He was afraid to speak to her yesterday, because she looked so grand. He even thought he must be mistaken, and he would have been afraid of offending me by speaking to a grand lady at my table.

Romance Books
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book