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A Strange Bride


the castle in silence. After some hours he sought me, and said—

‘You are in the right. If I were to play the part of a strict judge I should order the Duke to leave my house, but in that case how should we console Laura, who passionately loves him? He is the first for whom she has evinced any prepossession. Let us therefore leave them to their own choice. For my part, I must confess I cannot help liking this Duke, and if he has been inconstant to his first love, how many instances of inconstancy happen which might be forgiven if we heard the particular circumstances by which they were caused?’

It was therefore decided that the marriage should go on, and Marino and I were, by the Count’s intercession, made friends again.

At the betrothing festival there was no want of luxury and magnificence. At the ball Marino danced incessantly, and seemed extravagant in his mirth.

‘No ghost,’ said he, as he passed me in a quadrille, ‘has come to interrupt our festival as in your Venetian story.’

‘Don’t rejoice too soon, my lord Duke,’ said I. ‘Misfortune comes on with cautious noiseless steps. We often know nothing of danger when it is already close upon us.’

Contrary to my expectations he did not answer me a word; and it seemed to me a proof that my suggestions had made a deep impression when he began to dance more furiously than before. The old Countess begged him not to exhaust himself, and Laura at length prevailed on him to sit down, when he was quite breathless and exhausted.

‘Not long afterwards I saw the bride glide gently