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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 235 pages of information about A Reckless Character.

In the centre of the room, on a Persian rug, with a brocade cushion under his head, covered with a wide scarlet shawl with black figures, lay Muzio, with all his limbs stiffly extended.  His face, yellow as wax, with closed eyes and lids which had become blue, was turned toward the ceiling, and no breath was to be detected:  he seemed to be dead.  At his feet, also enveloped in a scarlet shawl, knelt the Malay.  He held in his left hand a branch of some unfamiliar plant, resembling a fern, and bending slightly forward, he was gazing at his master, never taking his eyes from him.  A small torch, thrust into the floor, burned with a greenish flame, and was the only light in the room.  Its flame did not flicker nor smoke.

The Malay did not stir at Fabio’s entrance, but merely darted a glance at him and turned his eyes again upon Muzio.  From time to time he raised himself a little, and lowered the branch, waving it through the air,—­and his dumb lips slowly parted and moved, as though uttering inaudible words.  Between Muzio and the Malay there lay upon the floor the dagger with which Fabio had stabbed his friend.  The Malay smote the blood-stained blade with his bough.  One minute passed ... then another.  Fabio approached the Malay, and bending toward him, he said in a low voice:  “Is he dead?”—­The Malay bowed his head, and disengaging his right hand from beneath the shawl, pointed imperiously to the door.  Fabio was about to repeat his question, but the imperious hand repeated its gesture, and Fabio left the room, raging arid marvelling but submitting.

He found Valeria asleep, as before, with a still more tranquil face.  He did not undress, but seated himself by the window, propped his head on his hand, and again became immersed in thought.  The rising sun found him still in the same place.  Valeria had not wakened.

XI

Fabio was intending to wait until she should awake, and then go to Ferrara—­when suddenly some one tapped lightly at the door of the bedroom.  Fabio went out and beheld before him his aged major-domo, Antonio.

“Signor,” began the old man, “the Malay has just informed us that Signor Muzio is ailing and desires to remove with all his effects to the town; and therefore he requests that you will furnish him with the aid of some persons to pack his things—­and that you will send, about dinner-time, both pack-and saddle-horses and a few men as guard.  Do you permit?”

“Did the Malay tell thee that?” inquired Fabio.  “In what manner?  For he is dumb.”

“Here, signor, is a paper on which he wrote all this in our language, very correctly.”

“And Muzio is ill, sayest thou?”

“Yes, very ill, and he cannot be seen.”

“Has not a physician been sent for?”

“No; the Malay would not allow it.”

“And was it the Malay who wrote this for thee?”

“Yes, it was he.”

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