servant entered to announce a new visitor, the Italian Duke de Marino.
‘The Duke de Marino,’ said the Count; ‘I have never heard the name before.’
‘I have been a good deal acquainted with the family,’ said I, ‘and a short time ago was present at the betrothal of the younger duke in Venice.’
The entrance of our visitor would have been very agreeable to me if I had not perceived that our recognition was, on his part, attended with embarrassment and agitation.
‘Well,’ said he, recovering his composure, ‘now that I find you here, my lord Marquis, I need not be surprised at what occurred to me a little while ago. I supposed that my name was perfectly unknown in this country, and yet when I drew near the castle a voice called out three times: “Welcome, welcome, Duke de Marino.” It was a strange voice, certainly, and yet, Marquis, to you I am indebted for that reception.’
I assured him that till his name was announced I was perfectly unaware of his coming, nor could any of my servants have addressed him. ‘Besides,’ added I, ‘it would have been exceedingly difficult to have recognised any equipage, however well known, in the gloom of such a night as this.’
‘Very true,’ said the Duke; ‘and in that case I am perfectly at a loss to imagine who it could be.’
In a private interview Marino had with me afterwards he informed me that he had come thither on account of Laura, and that, if he were so fortunate as to obtain her affections, he would at once request her hand in marriage from the Count.
‘Good Heaven!’ said I, ‘have you then had the