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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesPrince Fortunatus - Chapter 27. A Reunion
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Prince Fortunatus - Chapter 27. A Reunion Post by :acos21 Category :Long Stories Author :William Black Date :May 2012 Read :2404

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Prince Fortunatus - Chapter 27. A Reunion


Here is a long balcony, shaded by pillared arches, the windows hung with loose blinds of reeds in gray and scarlet. If you adventure out into the hot sunlight, you may look away down the steep and rugged hill, where there are groups of flat-roofed, white houses dotted here and there among the dark palms and olives and arbored vines; and then your eyes naturally turn to the vast extent of shimmering blue sea, with the faint outline of the Italian coast and the peaked Vesuvius beyond. But inside, in the spacious, rather bare rooms, it is cooler; and in one of these, at the farther end, stands a young man in front of a piano, striking a chord from time to time, and exercising a voice that does not seem to have lost much of its _timbre_; while there is an exceedingly pretty, gentle-eyed, rather foreign-looking young lady engaged in putting flowers on the central table, which is neatly and primly laid out for four.

(Illustration: "_'I have an extremely important letter to send off.'_")

"Come, Leo," she says, "is it not enough? You are in too great a hurry, I believe. Are you jealous of Mr. Doyle? Do you wish to go back at once? No, no; we must get Mr. Mangan and his bride to make a long stay, before we go over with them to the big towns on the mainland. Will you go out and see if the _Risposta is visible yet."

"What splendid weather for Maurice and Francie, isn't it, Ntoniella?" said he (for there are other pet names besides the familiar Nina for any one called Antonia). "I wish we could have had our wedding-day along with theirs. Well, at least we will have our honeymoon trip along with them; and we shall have to be their guides, you know, in Venice and Rome and Florence, for neither of them knows much Italian."

"Yes, but, Leo," said Nina, who was still busy with her flowers, "when we go back with them to Naples, you really must speak properly. It is too bad--the dialect--it is not necessary; you can speak well if you wish. It was only to make fun of Sabetta that you began, now it is always."

He only laughed at her grave remonstrance.

"Oh, don't you preach at me, Ntoniella!" he said, in the very language she was deprecating. "There are lots of things I can say to you that sound nicer that way."

He turned from the piano at last and took up an English newspaper that he had previously opened.

"Ntonie, tell me, did you read all the news this morning?"

"No--a little," Nina answered, snipping off the redundant stalks of the grapes.

"You did not see the announcement about--about Miss Cunyngham?"

At the mention of this name, Nina looked up quickly, and there was some color in the pale, clear complexion.

"No. What is it, Leo?"

"I thought you might have seen that, at all events," he said, lightly. "Well, I will read it to you. 'A marriage has been arranged and will shortly take place between Lord Rockminster, eldest son of the Earl of Fareborough, and Miss Honnor Cunyngham, daughter of the late Sir George Cunyngham, and sister of Sir Hugh Cunyngham, of the Braes, Perthshire, and Aivron Lodge, Campden Hill.' I should like to have sent them a little wedding-present," he went on, absently, "for both of them have been very kind to me; but I am grown penurious in my old age; I suppose we shall have to consider every farthing for many a day to come."

"Leo, why will you not take any of my money?" Nina exclaimed, but with shy and downcast face.

"Your money!" he said, laughing. "You talk as if you were a Russian princess, Ntoniella!"

He drew aside the reeded blind of one of the windows and went out into the soft air; both land and sea--that beautiful stretch of shining blue--seemed quivering in the heat and abundant sunlight of June.

"Nina, Nina!" he called, "you must make haste; the _Risposta will soon be coming near, and we must be down in town to welcome Maurice and Francie when they come ashore."

In a second or two she was ready, and he also.

"There are so many things I shall have to tell Maurice," he said, just as they were about to leave the house. "But do you think I shall be able to tell him, Ntoniella? No. He must guess. What you have been to me, what you are to me, how can I tell him or any one?"

He took both her hands in his and looked long and lovingly into her upturned face.

"_Ntonie, tu si state a sciorta mia!_" he said, meaning thereby that good-fortune had befallen him at last. It was a pretty speech, and Nina, with her beautiful dark eyes fixed on his, answered him in the same dialect, and almost in the same terms, if in a lower voice:

"_E a sciorta mia si tu!_"

William Black's novel: Prince Fortunatus

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