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tion, is it not? When we last met, it was you who guided me, and 1 humbly followed your instructions. I did precisely as you told me."

"Had I doubted that you would do as I asked, I would not have spoken," answered Corona.

"There was one thing you advised me to do which I have not even attempted."

"What was that ?"

"You told me to forget you. I have spent six months in constantly remembering you, and in looking forward to this moment. Was I wrong?"

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"Of course," replied the Duchessa, with a little laugh. You should by this time have forgotten my existence, They said you were gone to the North Pole-why did you change your mind.?"


"I followed my load-star. led me from Rome to Sarracinesca by the way of Paris. I should have remained at Sarracinescabut you also changed your mind. I began to think you never would." "How long do you think of staying up there?" asked Corona, to turn the conversation.

"Just so long as you stay at Astrardente," he answered. "You will not forbid me to follow you to Rome?"

"How can I prevent you if you choose to do it !"

By a word, as you did before."

"Do you think I would speak that word ?" she asked.

"I trust not. Why should you cause me needless pain and suffering? If it was right then, it is not right now. Besides, you know me too well to think that I would annoy you or thrust myself upon

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moment very gently, almost lovingly. Where was the use of trying to conceal what would not be hidden? Every word he spoke told of his unchanged love, although the phrases were short and simple. Why should she conceal what she felt? She knew it was a foregone conclusion. They loved each other, and she would certainly marry him in the course of a year. The long-pent - up forces of her nature were beginning to assert themselves; she had so long conquered and fought down her natural being in the effort to be all things to her old husband, to quench her growing interest in Giovanni, to resist his declared love, to drive him from her in her widowhood; but now it seemed as though suddenly all obstaces were removed. She saw clearly how well she loved him, and it seemed folly to try and conceal it. As she sat by his side she was unboundedly happy, as she had never been in her life before the cool morning breeze fanned her dark cheeks, and the music of his low voice soothed her, while the delicious sense of rapid motion lent a thrill of pleasure to every breath she drew. It was no matter what she said; it was as though she spoke unconsciously. It all seemed predestined and foreplanned from all time, to be acted out to the end. The past vanished slowly as a retreating landscape: as some weary traveller, exhausted with the heat of the scorching Campagna, slowly climbs the ascent towards Tivoli, the haven of cool waters, and pausing now and then upon the path, looks back and sees the dreary waste of undulating hillocks beneath him gradually seeming to subside into a dim flat plain, and in the far distance the mighty domes and towers of Rome, dwindled to an unreal mirage in the

warm haze of the western sky, and again advancing, feels the breath of the mountains upon him, and hears the fresh plunge of the cold cataract, till at last, when his strength was almost failing, it is renewed within him, and the dust and the heat of the day's journey are forgotten in the fulness of refreshment, so Corona d'Astrardente, wearied out but not worn by the fatigues and the troubles and the temptations of the past five years, seemed suddenly to be taken up and borne swiftly through the gardens of an earthly paradise, where neither care nor temptation was, and where, in the cool air of a new life, the one voice she loved was ever murmuring gentle things to her willing ear.

As the road began to rise higher, sweeping round the base of the mountain and ascending by even gradation upon its southern flank, the sun rose higher in the heavens, and the locusts broke into their summer song among the hedgesthat even, long-drawn, humming sound, so sweet to southern ears. But Corona did not feel the heat, nor notice the dust upon the way; she was in a new state, where such things could not trouble her. The first embarrassment of a renewed intimacy was fast disappearing, and she talked easy to Giovanni of many things, reviewing past scenes and speaking of mutual acquaintances, turning the conversation when it concerned too directly Giovanna or herself, yet ever and again coming back to that sweet ground which was no longer dangerous now. And at last, at a turn in the road, the grim towers of ancient Sarracinesca loomed in the distance, and the carriage entered a vast forest of chestnut trees, shady and cool after the sunny ascent. So they reached the castle, and the sturdy horses

sprang wildly forward up the last incline till their hoofs struck noisily upon the flagstones of the bridge, and with a rush and a plunge they dashed under the black archway, and halted in the broad court beyond.

Corona was surprised at the size of the old fortress. It seemed an endless irregular mass of towers and buildings, all of rough grey stone, surrounded by battlements and ramparts, kept in perfect repair, but destitute of any kind of ornament whatever. It might have been even now a military stronghold, and it was evident that there were traditions of precision and obedience within its walls which would have done credit to any barracks. The dominant temper of the master made itself felt at every turn, and the servants moved quickly and silently about their duties. There was something intensely attractive to Corona in the air of strength that pervaded the place, and Giovanni had never seemed to her so manly and so much in his element as under the grey walls of his ancestral home. The place, too, was associated in history with so many events, the two men, Leone Sarracinesca the father, and Giovanni, stood there beside her, where their ancestors of the same names had stood nearly a thousand years before, their strong dark faces having the same characteristics that for centuries had marked their race, features familiar to Romans by countless statues and pictures, as the stones of Rome themselves— but for a detail of dress, it seemed to Corona as though she might have been suddenly transported back to the thirteenth century. The idea fascinated her. The two men led her up the broad stone staircase, and ushered her and Sister Gabrielle into the apart

ments of state which had been tation: she was not in Rome, prepared for them.

"We have done our best," said the Prince, "but it is long since we have entertained ladies at Sarracinesca."

"It is magnificent!" exclaimed Corona, as she entered the antechamber. The walls were hung from end to end with priceless tapestries, and the stone floor was covered with long eastern carpets. Corona paused.

"You must show us all over the castle by-and-by," she said.

"Giovanni will show you everything," answered the Prince. "If it pleases you, we will breakfast in half-an-hour.' He turned away with his son, and left the two ladies to refresh themselves before the mid-day meal.

Giovanni kept his word, and spared his guests no detail of the vast stronghold, until at last poor Sister Gabrielle could go no farther. Giovanni had anticipated that she would be tired, and with the heartlessness of a lover seeking his opportunity, he had secretly longed for the moment when she should be obliged to stop.

"You have not yet seen the view from the great tower," he said. "It is superb, and this is the very best hour for it. Are you tired, Duchessa ?”

"No I am never tired," answered Corona.

"Why not go with Giovanni?” suggested the Prince. "I will stay with Sister Gabrielle, who has nearly exhausted herself with seeing our sights."

Corona hesitated. The idea of being alone with Giovanni for a quarter of an hour was delightful, but somehow it did not seem altogether fitting for her to be wandering over the castle with him. On the other hand, to refuse would seem almost an affec

where her every movement was a subject for remark; moreover, she was not only a married woman, but a widow, and she had known Giovanni for years-it would be ridiculous to refuse.

"Very well," said she. "Let us see the view before it is too late."

Sister Gabrielle and old Sarracinesca sat down on a stone seat upon the rampart to wait, and the Duchessa disappeared with Giovanni through the low door that led into the great tower.

"What a wonderful woman you are!" exclaimed Giovanni, as they reached the top of the winding stair, which was indeed broad er than the staircase of many great houses in Rome. "You seem to be never tired."

"No I am very strong," answered Corona, with a smile. She was not even out of breath. "What a wonderfnl view!" she exclaimed, as they emerged upon the stone platform at the top of the tower. Giovanni was silent for a moment. The two stood together and looked far out at the purple mountains to eastward that caught the last rays of the sun high up above the shadows of the valley; and then looking down, they saw the Prince and the sister a hundred feet below them upon the rampart.

Both were thinking of the same thing; three days ago their meeting had seemed infinitely far off, a thing dreamed of and hoped for -and now they were standing alone upon the topmost turret of Giovanni's house, familiar with each other by a long day's conversation, feeling as though they had never been parted, feeling also that most certainly they would not be parted again.

"It is very strange," said Gio

vanni, "how things happen in this world, and how little we ever know of what is before us. Last week I wondered whether I should ever see you now I cannot imagine not seeing you. Is it not strange?"

at first she made a slight movement - not of resistance, but of timid reluctance, utterly unlike herself-she suffered him to hold her hand. He drew closer to her, himself more diffident in the moment of success than he had ever

"Yes," answered Corona, in a been when he anticipated failure; low voice.

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Corona gazed out upon the purple hills in silence, but it seemed as though her face caught some of the radiance of the distant glow, and her dark eyes had strange lights in them. She could not have prevented him from speaking; she had loosed the bonds that had held her life so long; the anchor was up, and the breath of love fanned the sails, and gently bore the craft in which she trusted out to seaward over the fair water. In seeing him she had resigned herself to him, and she could not again get the mastery if she would. It had come too soon, but it was sweet.

"And why not?" he said, very softly. "Why should it not remain so for ever-till our last breath? Why will you not let it last ? "

Still she was silent; but the tears gathered slowly in her eyes, and welled over and lay upon her velvet cheeks like dew-drops on the leaves of a soft, dark tulip. Giovanni saw them, and knew that they were the jewels which crowned his life.

"You will," he said, his broad brown hand gently covering her small fingers and taking them in his. "You will-I know that you will."

She said nothing, and though

she was so unlike any woman he had ever known before. Very gently he put his arm about her, and drew her to him.

"My beloved-at last," he whispered, as her head sank upon his shoulder.

Then with a sudden movement, she sprang to her height, and for one instant gazed upon him. Her whole being was transfigured in the might of her passion: her dark face was luminously pale, her lips almost white, and from her eyes there seemed to flash a blazing fire. For one instant she gazed upon him, and then her arms went round his neck, and she clasped him fiercely to her breast.

"Ah, Giovanni," she cried, passionately, "you do not know what love means!"

A moment later her arms dropped from him; she turned and buried her face in her hands, leaning against the high stone parapet of the tower. She was not weeping, but her face was white, and her bosom heaved with quick and strong-drawn breath.

Giovanni went to her side and took her strongly in his right arm, and again her head rested upon his shoulder.

"It is too soon-too soon," she murmured. “But how can I help that there is no

it? I love you so counting of time. It seems years since we met last night, and I thought it would be years before I told you. Oh, Giovanni, I am so happy! Is it possible that you love me as I love you?"

It is a marvellous thing to see

how soon two people who love each other learn the gentle confidence that only love brings. A few moments later Giovanni and Corona were slowly pacing the platform, and his arm was about her waist and her hand in his.

"Do you know," she was saying, "I used to wonder whether you would keep your word, and never try to see me. The days were so long at Astrardente." "Not half so long as at Sarracinesca," he answered. "I was going to call my aqueduct the Bridge of Sighs; I will christen it now the Spring of Love."

"I must go and see it to-morrow," said she.

"Or the next day

"The next day!" she exclaimed, with a happy laugh. "Do you think I am going to stay- _?"

"For ever," interrupted Giovanni. "We have a priest here, you know, he can marry us tomorrow, and then you need never go away."

Corona's face grew grave.

"We must not talk of that yet," she said, gently, "even in jest."

"No; you are right. Forgive me," he answered; "I forget many things-it seems to me I have forgotten everything, except that I love you."

"Giovanni,"-she lingered on the name," Giovanni, we must tell your father at once.'

"Are you willing I should?" he asked, eagerly.

"Of course he ought to know; and Sister Gabrielle, too. But no one else must be told, There must be no talk of this in Rome until― until next year."

"We will stay in the country until then, shall we not?" asked Giovanni, anxiously. "It seems to me so much better. We can meet here, and nobody will talk.

I will go and live in the town at Astrardente, and play the engineer, and build your roads for you."

"I hardly know," said Corona, with a doubtful smile. "You could not do that. But you may come and spend the day once-in a week, perhaps."

"We will arrange all that," answered Giovanni, laughing." "If you think I can exist by only seeing you once a week-well, you do not know me."

"We shall see," returned Corona, laughing too. "By the by, how long have we been here?"

"I do not know," said Giovanni; "but the view is magnificent, is it not?"

"Enchanting," she replied, looking into his eyes. Then suddenly the blood mounted to her cheeks, "Oh, Giovanni," she said, "how could I do it?""

"I should have died if you had not," he answered, and clasped her once more in his arms.

"Come," said she, let us be going down. It is growing late."

When they reached the foot of the tower, they found the Prince walking the rampart alone. Sister Gabrielle was afraid of the evening air, and had retired into the house. Old Sarracinesca faced them suddenly. He looked like an old lion, his thick white hair and beard bristling about his dark


"My father," said Giovanni, coming forward, "the Duchessa d'Astrardente has consented to be my wife. I crave your blessing."

The old man started and then stood stock - still. His son had fairly taken his breath away, for he had not expected the news for three or four months to come. Then he advanced and took Corona's hand, and kissed it.

"Madame," he said, "you have

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