Page:The Coming Race, etc - 1888.djvu/310

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She sprang past him into the house, and closed the door. Glyndon did not dare to follow her, nor, strange as it may seem, was he so inclined. The thought and recollection of that moonlight hour in the gardens,—of the strange address of Zicci, froze up all human passion; Isabel, herself, if not forgotten, shrunk back like a shadow into the recesses of his breast. He shivered as he stepped into the sunlight and musingly retraced his steps into the more populous parts of that liveliest of Italian cities.


IT was a small cabinet;— the walls were covered with pictures, one of which was worth more than the whole lineage of the owner of the palace. Is not Art a wonderful thing?—a Venetian noble might be a fribble, or an assassin a scoundrel, or a dolt; worthless, or worse than worthless; yet he might have sate to Titian, and his portrait may be inestimable!—a few inches of painted canvas a thousand times more valuable than a man with his veins and muscles, brain, will, heart, and intellect.

In this cabinet sate a man of about three-and-forty,—dark-eyed, sallow, with short, prominent features, a massive conformation of jaw, and thick, sensual, but resolute lips;—this man was the Prince di ———. His form, middle-sized, but rather inclined to corpulence, was clothed in a loose dressing-robe of rich brocade; on a table before him lay his sword and hat, a mask, dice and dice-box, a portfolio, and an inkstand of silver curiously carved.

"Well, Mascari," said the prince, looking up towards his parasite, who stood by the embrasure of the deep-set barricaded window, "well, you cannot even guess who this insolent meddler was. A pretty person you to act the part of a Prince's Ruffiano."

"Am I to be blamed for dulness in not being able to conjecture who had the courage to thwart the projects of the Prince di ———. As well blame me for not accounting for miracles."

"I will tell thee who it was, most sapient Mascari."

"Who, your Excellency?"


"Ah! he has the daring of the devil. But why does your Excellency feel so assured; does he court the actress?"