“Well I know it, rare Virgilio,” declared the other. “But we shall not long impose ourselves upon your courage and generosity. We have written to England for Peter Ganns who, by God’s providence, is now in that country and hoped to visit me in a few months. We have also called upon Giuseppe Doria to return at once to us. When he does so I am content to sleep at home again; but not sooner.”
Signor Poggi hastened to order a meal worthy of the occasion, while his wife, who was also a devoted admirer of the Englishman, prepared apartments. Nothing but delight filled Poggi’s mind at the opportunity to serve his dearest companion. An ample meal was planned and Jenny helped her hostess in its preparation.
Poggi drank to the temporal and eternal welfare of his first friend and Albert returned the compliment. They enjoyed a pleasant meal and then sat through the June twilight in Virgilio’s rose garden, smelled the fragrance of oleanders and myrtles in the evening breeze, saw the fireflies flash their little lamps over dim olive and dark cypress, and heard the summer thunder growling genially over the mountain crowns of Campione and Croce.
Mr. Redmayne’s niece retired early and Maria Poggi with her, but Virgilio and Albert talked far into the night and smoked many cigars before they slept.
At nine o’clock next morning Mr. Redmayne and Jenny were rowed home again, only to hear that no intruder had broken upon the nightly peace of Villa Pianezzo. Nor did the day bring any news. Once more they repaired to Bellagio before dark, and for three days lived thus. Then there came a telegram from Turin to say that Doria was returning immediately to Como and might soon be expected via Milan; while on the morning that actually brought him to Menaggio, his wife received a brief letter from Mark Brendon. He had found Mr. Ganns and the two would set forth for Italy within a few days.
“It is impossible that we can receive both here,” declared Albert; “but we will engage pleasant apartments with dear Signor Bullo at the Hotel Victoria. They are full, or nearly so; but he will find a corner for any friends of mine.”
MR. PETER GANNS
Mark Brendon received with mingled emotions the long letter from Jenny Doria. It awaited him at New Scotland Yard and, as he took it from the rack, his heart leaped before the well-remembered handwriting. The past very seldom arose to shadow Mark’s strenuous present; but now, once more, it seemed that Robert Redmayne was coming between him and his annual holiday. He told himself that he had lived down his greatest disappointment and believed that he could now permit his thoughts to dwell on Jenny without feeling much more than the ache of an old wound. Her letter came a week before the recipient proposed to start upon his vacation. He had intended going to Scotland, having no mind for Dartmoor again at present; but it was not his failure, so complete and bewildering, that had barred a return to familiar haunts. Memory made the thought too painful and poignant, so he designed to break new ground and receive fresh impressions.