A Reckless Character eBook

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

Fabio was silent for a space.

“Very well, take the necessary measures,” he said at last.

Antonio withdrew.

Fabio stared after his servant in perplexity.—­“So he was not killed?”—­he thought ... and he did not know whether to rejoice or to grieve.—­“He is ill?”—­But a few hours ago he had beheld him a corpse!

Fabio returned to Valeria.  She was awake, and raised her head.  The husband and wife exchanged a long, significant look.

“Is he already dead?” said Valeria suddenly.—­Fabio shuddered.

“What ... he is not?—­Didst thou....  Has he gone away?” she went on.

Fabio’s heart was relieved.—­“Not yet; but he is going away to-day.”

“And I shall never, never see him again?”

“Never.”

“And those visions will not be repeated?”

“No.”

Valeria heaved another sigh of relief; a blissful smile again made its appearance on her lips.  She put out both hands to her husband.

“And we shall never speak of him, never, hearest thou, my dear one.  And I shall not leave this room until he is gone.  But now do thou send me my serving-women ... and stay:  take that thing!”—­she pointed to a pearl necklace which lay on the night-stand, the necklace which Muzio had given her,—–­“and throw it immediately into our deep well.  Embrace me—­I am thy Valeria—­and do not come to me until ... that man is gone.”

Fabio took the necklace—­its pearls seemed to have grown dim—­and fulfilled his wife’s behest.  Then he began to roam about the garden, gazing from a distance at the pavilion, around which the bustle of packing was already beginning.  Men were carrying out chests, lading horses ... but the Malay was not among them.  An irresistible feeling drew Fabio to gaze once more on what was going on in the pavilion.  He recalled the fact that in its rear facade there was a secret door through which one might penetrate to the interior of the chamber where Muzio had been lying that morning.  He stole up to that door, found it unlocked, and pushing aside the folds of a heavy curtain, darted in an irresolute glance.

XII

Muzio was no longer lying on the rug.  Dressed in travelling attire, he was sitting in an arm-chair, but appeared as much of a corpse as at Fabio’s first visit.  The petrified head had fallen against the back of the chair, the hands lay flat, motionless, and yellow on the knees.  His breast did not heave.  Round about the chair, on the floor strewn with dried herbs, stood several flat cups filled with a dark liquid which gave off a strong, almost suffocating odour,—­the odour of musk.  Around each cup was coiled a small, copper-coloured serpent, which gleamed here and there with golden spots; and directly in front of Muzio, a couple of paces distant from him, rose up the tall figure of the Malay, clothed in a motley-hued mantle of brocade, girt about with a tiger’s tail, with a tall cap in the form of a horned tiara on his head.

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A Reckless Character from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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