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Ilka on the Hill-Top and Other Stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 161 pages of information about Ilka on the Hill-Top and Other Stories.
her with unaverted gaze.  The thought of Signore Giovanni shot through her mind, and she feared she should never dare to look into his honest eyes again.  Her heart kept hammering against her side, her blood burned in her cheeks, and she felt guilty and miserable.  And yet she saw, in a sort of blind and unconscious way, that her escort was a very dazzling phenomenon, and in external finish much superior to her plain and unassuming lover.  Gradually, as she accustomed herself to her novel situation, she began to bestow her furtive admiration upon the various ornaments which he carried about his person in the shape of scarf-pin and sleeve-buttons, and she also found time to observe that his linen and his handkerchief were immaculate and of exceeding fineness.  The tout ensemble of his personality made the impression of costliness which, to her unsophisticated soul, was synonymous with high birth and an exalted social position.

“If only Signore Giovanni would dress like that,” she thought, “how much more I should love him!”

That was a very disloyal thought, and her conscience immediately smote her.  She arose, thanked her companion tremulously for his kindness, and hastened toward the door.  When she was once more under the open sky, she drew a full breath of relief, and then hurried away as if the earth burned under her feet.  It was nearly five o’clock when she reached the garden-gate of the villa; she paused for a moment to collect her thoughts, to arrange her excuses, and to prepare for the scolding which she knew was in store for her.  She was just about to turn the key when, to her horror, she saw her unknown companion stepping out of a fiacre, and fearlessly approaching her.

“Surely, child, you didn’t imagine you could run away from me in that style,” he said smilingly.  “Our acquaintance is not to come to such an untimely end.  You must tell me your name, and, I was going to say, where you live, but that key will relieve you from the latter necessity.  But, in order to prove to you that I am an honest fellow and mean no harm to you, here is my card.  My name is Henry Vincent, I am an American, and—­and—­I should like to meet you again, if you have no objection.”

Annunciata was now seriously alarmed.

“Signore,” she faltered, “I am an honest girl, and you must not speak to me thus.”

“By Jove!  So am I an honest fellow, and no one need be ashamed of my acquaintance.  If you had anything to fear from me, do you suppose I would offer you my card, and give you my name?  But I must meet you again; if you don’t give me the opportunity, I shall make my opportunity myself, and that might get you into a scrape and be unpleasant for both of us.  Well, what do you say?”

The young girl stood for a while pondering.  Her first impulse was to cut short the interview by mentioning Cranbrook’s name and revealing her own relation to him.  She had an idea that Cranbrook was a sort of national character and that all Americans must have heard of him.  A second glance at Vincent’s splendid attire, however, turned the scale in his favor.

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