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A Strange Bride


you may be assured, but that a similar circumstance may have occurred elsewhere I shall not dispute. It is very possible. Love adventures resemble one another more or less.’

‘Be that as it may,’ said Marino; ‘I now demand of you that, from this day forward, you shall make no further allusions to my past life. Upon this condition alone shall I forgive you for your former injurious devices.’

‘Forgiveness!’ cried I. ‘Conditions! And from you! On the contrary, I take the liberty of informing you that the Count shall to-morrow morning be made fully acquainted with your former betrothal, and of your expressions to me this night.’

‘My lord Marquis, if you ventured this——

‘Ha, ha! I shall venture it. It is a duty I owe to an old friend. The liar who has accused me of a falsehood shall no longer be permitted to wear the mask in his house.’

Contrary to my own wishes, anger had carried me so far that it was impossible for me to avoid a challenge. The Duke determined instantly on this course of concluding the matter, and we agreed to meet in the morning with pistols in a neighbouring wood.

At daybreak, accordingly, we met, each attended by a servant. As Marino observed that I had not prepared my attendant with directions as to what should be done in case of my death, he undertook this duty himself, and gave orders to his servant for the disposal of my body, as if the worst had already happened. At the same time he had the insolence to remind me that in former encounters he had never failed to hit his mark, On such occasions he had not wished to inflict a mortal wound, now the case