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"Will her absence from Naples be of long continuance, said I?
"Tis uncertain,' (replied he); and as I could not press the subject further, it dropped.
"Again did I agree to pay the most extravagant price for the money I received, and again it was squandered in the wildest dissipation; a third visit to Mendez became necessary, but he did not receive me as he had done when I went to borrow from him before."
"This sum, signor (cried he, when I had told him what I wanted), and what you have had before, will make your debt to me so large, that'→→→
"Are you not certain of being amply repaid, interrupted I.
"How can I be certain of it, signor, (cried he), your aunt may outlive you, or if she does not, she may change her mind; and your hopes of inheriting her property may be vain.'
"I tried to persuade him that he was mistaken, and that there was not the
least probability that my aunt would alter her avowed resolution of bequeathing me her fortune, but he appeared to listen to me with an air of sullen dissatisfaction. I cannot at this moment give you a positive answer, signor (cried he); I am sorry that it is not in my power directly to oblige you, but I must not utterly lose sight of my own interest.'
"My blood boiled with indignation, when I recollected the sum I had agreed to pay him for his compliance with my demands, but I was obliged to suppress it.
"When can I have your positive answer, said I?—I will send to you day or two, signor, cried he; and with this promise I was obliged to be content. That evening I received a note which contained the following lines :
"You are in the hands of a fiend: the writer of this wishes to save you, and will run every risk to do so: be at the church of St. Giovanni this evening at vespers, and you shall know more.'
"This note was written in a female hand, and strongly excited both my curiosity and surprise; I repaired before vespers to the church of St. Giovanni, and knelt on purpose in a conspicuous place. When vespers were over, I lingered for some time, but I was not accosted by any one, and I was about to quit the church, persuaded that the writer of the note meant only to trifle with my curiosity; when a female, veiled, touched my arm; I turned round, and she motioned me to follow her; she walked forward with quickness, 'till we were clear of the crowd that had left the church with us, and she then stopped: I could perceive that she trembled.
"A wish to save you from a snare the most diabolical, has brought me here, signor,' said she, in a low and tremulous voice, which I thought I had heard before. She paused a moment, and then continued, You are indebted to the Jew Mendez.'
"Ha! what of him, interrupted I?
"He seeks your ruin, (cried she); and without this warning, he would most probably have accomplished it: he means to-morrow to send for you, and tell you that he will let you have the money, if you will sign a bond to repay it upon terms more exorbitant than any he has yet asked you; should you agree to this, which he has not a doubt that you will, he means to substitute a bond in the place of the one you have read, by which he will become possessed of your aunt's whole fortune, after her decease.
"What unparalleled villainy! exclaimed I: Warned as you are, signor, (said she), you will find it easy to escape, but sure destruction awaits me, if you own that you are aware of his design.'
Trust me, my kind preserver, that
I will not; and now, may I beg to know to whom I am indebted for my safety? said I.
"After what I have told you, signor,
(cried she), I need not hesitate to own
to you who I am. Have you forgotten your chance-meeting with Viola?"
"Viola, generous girl! (cried I), but how is it that you are an inmate with this monster?
'My story is too long to tell you now, signor, nor dare I longer delay returning home; I wish most anxiously to escape from Mendez, but friendless as I am, I know not where to go, said
"Will you suffer me to procure you an asylum, cried I?—I swear to you on my honour, that I will protect you with my life.
"We will speak of this at a future. time, signor, (said she), but how do you
mean to evade the usurer's demand?'
"There is but one way, returned I,I must pretend that I have raised the money elsewhere; but I cannot part with you 'till I know by what means I may learn your story, and how I can be of service to you.