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Through the whole summer the weather had been delightful, and the baths of W—— had been more frequented than on any former occasion.

One evening a party of friends had supped together. The fatigues of the dancing assembly, which had lasted very late the preceding night, still weighed on their nerves, and though the moon shone invitingly, no one showed any inclination to walk. They seemed even too tired for conversation.

‘Where is the Marquis, I wonder?’ said one.

The Marquis was an individual who had a short time before arrived at W—— a stranger to every one there. He was a remarkable person. His name was a string of consonants which defied the power of any one to pronounce, and which gave no clue to his nationality. His manner and appearance were strange and mysterious. His pale visage, tall meagre frame, and stern black eyes were so little adapted to inspire confidence, that he would certainly have been shunned by all the world had he not possessed a fund of entertaining talk which charmed all who heard him.

‘Where in the world can he have stayed so long?’ said the Countess impatiently.

‘Doubtless at the faro table, where he drives the bankers to despair,’ said one. ‘On his account two