Page:Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag, Volume 2.djvu/205

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It was all very nice; and the girls were beginning to feel that the charms of Albano rivalled those of Rome, when a sad blow upset their castles in the air, and desolated the knights over the way.

The highly respectable Americans who were to serve as the link between the soldiers and the ladies, decidedly declined the office, objecting to the martial gentlemen as being altogether too dangerous to bring into the dove-cot. So the poor dears sighed in vain, and the longing damsels never rode the fine horses that were temptingly paraded before them on all occasions.

They did their best; but it was soon evident to Lavinia that in some unguarded moment the impetuous Mat would yield to the spell and go gambading away for a ride sans duenna, sans habit, sans propriety, sans every thing. Amanda likewise seemed losing her head, and permitted the dark-eyed Colonel to talk to her when they met; only a moment,—but what a perilous moment it was!—when this six-foot Mars leaned over a green hedge and talked about the weather in the softest Italian that ever melted a woman's heart.

"I'm going to Venice next week; so you may as