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sister who lives with me (continued he, perceiving my aunt's surprise); she would, I know, be most happy to pay the signora every attention. I am just now very necessary to the Countess Strozzi, who visits me frequently, and should the signora honour my humble roof, it is more than probable she may, in a short time, exchange it for the countess's, since I am certain that she would soon be one of that lady's first favourites.'
My aunt thanked him, and desired a few hours to consider of the proposal. He promised to call in the morning to know her determination, and then took his leave.
"Nothing could be apparently more sincere than his wish to serve us; and my aunt was possessed of too much toleration to view him with an eye of prejudice, because he was not a christian. His influence too with some of the highest classes of our nobility, was well known to her, aud after mature deli
beration, she resolved to consent to his proposal, if I agreed, and if we both thought that his sister was such a woman as I could be happy with till my aunt's return. She communicated her determination to me, and I assured her that I had no will but hers.
"In the morning Mendez came again; and on my aunt's expressing a wish to see his sister, he begged we would accompany him to his house. We did so, and we were both highly gratified by the appearance of his sister. In short, my aunt consented to my remaining under his protection, and that very day I removed to his house, as she was impatient to begin her journey. I had supposed that as soon as I became Mendez's inmate, he would have introduced me to the countess, and I was surprised when three days passed without his mentioning her. On the fourth, I asked when I was to see her; he told me she was at her villa, a few miles from Naples; but that he
every day expected her return. A short tin, however, discovered to me that he had deceived us, for the purpose of getting me into his power; and I have reason to suppose that he forged the account we received of my uncle's illness, in order to induce my aunt to leave Naples. He dared to insult me by an offer of his hand, and on my rejection of it, he insolently avowed a determination that I should be his. The woman who passed for his sister was in reality hired by him, in order to induce my aunt the more readily to intrust me to his protection. I found from her a degree of sympathy and kindness which I had not expected, and when, in consequence of my overhearing the plot laid for your ruin, I pressed her to assist in saving you, she readily consented. She is ordered to confine me strictly; but she relied on my promise of not endeavouring to escape, and allowed me to meet you."
"Ten thousand thanks for your kind
ness (replied I); but surely you do not intend to remain in the power of this wretch.'
"No, signor (answered she); I hope in time to persuade Fiametta to suffer me to fly, and to accompany me. If she does, I will take refuge in a convent till I can hear from my aunt, who has left my little fortune in my own possession. I shall not, therefore be distressed, if I can escape.'
"I shall be unhappy (cried I) till I know that you are out of the power of this monster. May I hope that you will sometimes permit me to see you?'
"After some hesitation Viola granted my request, and told me that she would write me word when she could again see me. I returned home with my thoughts filled with her story and situation, and my own fortunate escape. In two days Mendez came to me.
"Well, signor (said he), I shall now, I think, be able to oblige you. It gave me pain to refuse you; but then
it was utterly out of my power to ad vance the money; now I can do it, and' I wish (said I, interrupting him), that you could have done it be fore. Now it is too late to be of service to me. I was obliged to have recourse to a friend, who has lent me what I wanted.'
"He looked thunderstruck. -"I have put myself to considerable inconvenience to procure it for you, signor (cried he); do you mean to say that you will not borrow it?
"I am sorry to have occasioned you trouble (said I), but as I do not want it, and as my debt to you is already so large, it would be folly to add to it.'
"He made no reply, but he quitted me (with an expression of suppressed rage in his countenance, which I did not appear to notice). The next day I had a note from Viola, which contained an appointment to meet her at the gardengate. She was not able to give me any intelligence of Mendez, but she told