He added that you had only been seized pending the examination of your papers, and that if they were found to be in good form, you would be set at liberty in the course of a few days.

"Nina asked him who was the man that you had wounded. He replied that the police were enquiring into the matter, but that so far they had neither found a dead man nor a wounded man, nor any traces of blood. All that had been found was Casanova's hat, and this had been returned to him.

"I left them alone together till midnight, so I cannot say what further converse they may have had on the subject, but three or four days later everybody knew that you were imprisoned in the tower.

"Nina asked the count the reason of this severity in the evening, and he replied that your passports were thought to be forgeries, because you were in disgrace with the State Inquisitors, and therefore would not be in a position to get a passport from the Venetian ambassador. On this supposition he said you had been placed in the tower, and if it proved to be a true one, you would be still more severely punished.

"This news disturbed us, and when we heard that Pogomas had been arrested we felt certain he had denounced you in revenge for your having procured his dismissal from Nina's house. When we heard that he had been let out and sent to Genoa, we expected to hear of your being set at liberty, as the authorities must have been satisfied of the genuine character of your passports; but you were still shut up, and Nina did not know what to think, and the count would not answer her when she made enquiries about you. She had made up her mind to say no more about it, when at last we heard you had been set free and that your passports had been declared genuine.

"Nina thought to see you in the pit of the opera-house, and made preparations for a triumph in her box; but she was in despair when she heard no performance was to be given. In the evening the count told her that your passports had been returned with the order to leave in three days. The false creature praised her lover's prudence to his face, but she cursed him in her heart.

"She knew you would not dare to see her, and when you left without writing her a note, she said you had received secret orders not to hold any further communications with her. She was furious with the viceroy.

"'If Casanova had had the courage to ask me to go with him, I would have gone,' said she.

"Your man told her of your fortunate escape from three assassins. In the evening she congratulated Ricla on the circumstance, but he swore he knew nothing about it. Nina did not believe him. You may thank God from the bottom of your heart that you ever left Spain alive after knowing Nina. She would have cost you your life at last, and she punishes me for having given her life."

"What! Are you her mother?"

"Yes; Nina, that horrible woman, is my daughter."

"Really? Everybody says you are her sister."

"That is the horrible part of it, everybody is right."

"Explain yourself"

"Yes, though it is to my shame. She is my sister and my daughter, for she is the daughter of my father."

"What! your father loved you?"

"I do not know whether the scoundrel loved me, but he treated me as his wife. I was sixteen then. She is the daughter of the crime, and God knows she is sufficient punishment for it. My father died to escape her vengeance; may he also escape the vengeance of God. I should have strangled her in her cradle, but maybe I shall strangle her yet. If I do not, she will kill me."

I remained dumb at the conclusion of this dreadful story, which bore all the marks of truth.

"Does Nina know that you are her mother?"

"Her own father told her the secret when she was twelve, after he had initiated her into the life she has been living ever since. He would have made her a mother in her turn if he had not killed himself the same year, maybe to escape the gallows."

"How did the Conte de Ricla fall in love with her?"

"It is a short story and a curious one.

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