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willing to offend you, since although we are not known to each other personally, yet I know you well through some of my friends, and have seen you
As she spoke, my mind became so confused with trying to understand her meaning, that when she had ended I only murmured the last words of the sentence: "Then there is abundant reason why we should meet again, and continue our acquaintance so happily begun,' said I.
* Thank you!' replied she in a low voice, and I saw a blush on her cheek; 'whether our acquaintance extends beyond the present moment or not, depends on the manner in which it begins again in society. You are of course aware that our being known to each other is an entire secret; we have acted and spoken only as masks, and such must we remain to each other until, in our proper characters, we become acquainted, which there is little chance of our ever doing; and I confess to you, my gallant and adoring page, that I am sorry your season of service is so soon over.'
But it must not be over,' said I, passionately taking her hand in mine. 'I must indeed know who you are! You will tell me, ere you leave me?'
She withdrew her hand suddenly, and with a slight air of indignation.
You forget, dear sir, that known to each other as we are, our masks lose a little of their validity!'
"But we are not known to each other! Why do you say we are ?'
“Because, dear page, 't is the sad truth. We have seen each other's faces ; we shall recognize each other if we ever meet hereafter, and we may remember with sorrow what we have said and done, under a mask, 't is true, but not without a knowledge of the face the mask conceals. So remember, please, that we are but masks, and that masks are only creations of a moment, that our day is in a moment ended. So do not speak of continuing our acquaint
Remember it is no acquaintance, but rather the semblance of an acquaintance, which we have made to-night. You will probably leave Rome in a day or two; if not, we may meet again, and, through the proper conventional manner, become acquainted. Till then or forever, my fine
addio!' She placed her hand affectionately in mine, as she spoke, and I thought her voice trembled ; and she was turning to leave me, for we were near a corridor that led to her box, when I gently seized her arm, and begged she would not leave me in such mystery ; assuring her that I spoke, as I thought, entirely under a mask, and that she did not know me - although a remembrance of the night of the opera flashed across my mind.
"You are jesting, dear Sir; I must say good-night!'
* But I assure you I am not jesting,' said I, on placing her arm in mine. I tried to induce her to walk further on; a delicious burst of music, half-sad, half-exultant, swelled through the theatre at the moment, absorbing all sound and all feeling in itself; it made my passion more fervent. I am not jesting; I pray that you will not let it all be a jest. Let us know each other before we part !'
'How can you say so?' said she laughing, when you know that in the note I wrote you I told you your very name!'
“My name ? in a note ? I never received it!'
'I saw you kiss the bouquet that inclosed it, my ever. gallant page. becoming afraid of you. You are playing a strange part!' and she really appeared as if she meant what she said.
' A thousand pardons, my indulgent mistress,' said I, in a sad perplexity of mind. “I neglected to search for the note; it shall be answered yet.'
Never!' said she with firmness. The clock that moment struck twelve. “But we will part friends, good page; once more, addio!'
She was turning to leave me again, when I begged her to do me one favor. A sickening thought was creeping over my excited heart, fervent with passionate and happy love. “If you know me so well, though I am masked, describe me!'
Willingly and easily,' said'she; so, forgetting her resolution, she proceeded to walk on by my side, merrily commencing her description : You have, my good page, (by no means. Spanish,) a fair, ruddy, English complexion ; large but sleepy, rather German-like blue eyes; you blush very quickly when you get angry, and
I could no longer restrain my emotion, which was a mixture of surprise and amusement and hope and despair, and giving it vent in a loud laugh, I interrupted her description by suddenly lifting my mask, and exclaiming : * Behold ! fair mistress, your devoted page, who has neither fair
"Madre di Dio!' she almost shrieked, turning crimson with rage and indignation. “You have basely deceived me, crudele!’ and with her hand, so small and lovely, she gave me a violent blow on the side of my face, which made the great hall swing round before my eyes, and my senses for a moment entirely left me. I remember an indistinct vision of her tall figure, with her domino, which she had worn on the floor, wrapped close about her, hastening up the corridor, of hearing a titter from the amazed by-standers, and raising my eyes to · Box 5, 2,' seeing there the Italian gentleman, with a quiet smile illuminating his smooth features, and elongating his nicely trimmed mustache. I half-ran, half-staggered to the door, and rushed into the street. I could have cried with the rage, shame, and disappointment which swelled in my bosom. I cursed in turn the Carnival, the cruel and beautiful incognita, my mask, and my Spagnuolo. I directed my hurried steps up the narrow street, entirely lost in my mournful recollections, and only startled to a sense of where I was by the occasional rattling of a carriage, which, with a noise almost stunning to my brain, dashed by me, and made me cling close to the wall for safety. Gradually the fresh, open air and my rapid walk served to quiet my turbid emotions, and one by one the facts of the story gleamed upon my mind, and solved the perplexing mystery. I found myself at length, before I was conscious of having walked half the distance, in the wide and desolate Piazza di Spagna, where the moon-light fell clear and unbroken by a single shadow on the pavement, and where I only heard the sound of the dripping fountain, and the occasional distant rattle of a carriage. I sat down on the damp steps, and recalled each event of my two days' career, in its order, and
discovered with clearness and certainty the great and absurd mistake which had led to such an unhappy termination.
In my disguise I had deceived two persons, myself and my inamorata ; myself, in believing that beneath it I preserved my own identity, and was flirting in propria persona; her, in wearing the costume which Joe had worn, and in being supposed to be that same Joe till the last. Evidently she had been deceived from the first moment when she recognized me so familiarly in the Corso; the note still unread awaited me in the large bouquet she threw me that would explain still more. She had doubtless supposed that it was to Joe she was talking all the evening at the ball; she knew no such being in existence as myself; and finally, worse than all the rest, she now believed me guilty of inintentionally and cruelly deceiving her. Troublesome as were all these reflections, I need not describe what an extra weight of trouble brooded over my disconsolate heart, in the shape of expectation disappointed, pride crushed, and love repulsed. But I believe I acted the philosopher through all. As I sat in the silent light of the mid-night moon, and heard the rippling of the fountain, and the changes ring from the clock of the convent above me, my passion be came subdued. I forgave my incognita for her very pardonable rudeness, and saw myself alone and wholly at fault. I believed my punishment but just, and all that remained for me now was to keep my promise to Joe, go home and tell him the whole story. My courage quailed at this, but I rose, upon the resolve, and walked homeward through the streets, so lonely and silent with the hush of mid-night, and the long quiet of Lent. A light was burning in our sitting-room, and I knew that Joe was awaiting
I ascended the stairs, and entered my room so quietly that he could not know of my coming; and having put off for the last time the fatal Spagnuolo, sought the bouquet of camellias, and opening it found indeed carefully hidden and confined among the flowers the note which I should have seen long before, and which would have prevented the disastrous consequences of my innocent mistake. To my surprise, but true to my incognita's assertion, (for with wonderful distinctness every word of hers now came to my mind,) the note was addressed to Joe, his veritable initials being plainly written on the outside. Why had I not been wise enough to discover it before? I tore it open, and read as follows:
My OFFENDED Page: I sincerely beg a thousand pardons for the unlucky shower of confetti which so disturbed your good nature. It was intended all in sport, but I know you did not feel it such; and it was surely an unkind return for your beautiful flowers. I know you will forgive it in a thoughtless Italian. You ask me to lift my mask. As I have seen your face, and more, as I know perfectly who you are, it is but fair that I comply with your request. Forgive me, and when next you pass behold your repentant friend !'
I could keep my unfortunate secret no longer, but seizing the flowers, the note, and the little silver box, I entered the room and stood before Joe. He sat beside the table, with the punch-bowl steaming before him. I knew in a moment that he had been impatiently awaiting me, and I saw the blush of anger
steal over his countenance as he greeted me and inquired what in the devil had kept me so long?
*Joe!' said I, interrupting him in the midst of his inquiries, “ you have a fair English complexion, large blue eyes, sleepy and German-like, and when angry you blush easily !' Take these, they are all yours !' and I threw upon the table the gifts which I had for a day treasured as my own. And then I sat down, and with a labored composure told him all.
I watched in turn his emotions of perplexity, surprise, and pity, and at length, as my story drew to its close, I saw the good-humored smile steal over his face; and when I had finished, he burst into a loud, hearty laugh, and seizing my hand, he exclaimed: ‘Don't, do n't look so gloomy about it, boy! Cheer up for a moment, I beg of you! The 'affair of honor,' which must follow this unpardonable conduct of yours we will defer till to-morrow. And now,' said he as he filled the long-waiting glasses, ‘let's drink to the three worthy persons who trusted a mask in carnival-time, and were all deceived !'
GABRIELLE TO ARNAUD.
FROM AN UXFINISHED POEM BY J. HAL. ELLIOT.
We part to-night, Arnaud, forever ;
But we must part, ARNAUD.
ARNAUD, dear love — ha! see! didst mark that star
But be thou strong — be brave.
O ARNAUD ! hear me now, While my hot tears rain on thy upturned brow, In that far future which we both believe Comes after death, I know we shall retrieve This love which we must bury here to-night; Our two fond souls, bathed in celestial light, Roaming about in fields of boundless space, Shall meet at last, and cling in sweet embrace, To part no more forever!
But - no more. Lo! morning dawns; I should have ceased before. See! the stars pale, the night-bird seeks her nest. For you and I in life there's no more rest. Nay, do not stay to dry my tears. Go, go ! These fevered kisses are but drops of woe. ARNAUD, remember! I command farewell ! Till death forget your soul's love, GABRIELLE.