“There, Francisco,” Maria laughed, “you are fairly warned now. Beware how you venture to pay any compliment to Giulia in future.
“It would be a dull world if every one were to think as you do, Giulia, and to say exactly as they meant. Fancy a young man saying to you: ’I think you are a nice sort of girl, no prettier than the rest, but good tempered and pleasant, and to be desired because your father is rich!’ A nice sort of way that would be to be made love to!”
“There is no occasion for them to say anything at all,” Giulia said indignantly. “We don’t go about saying to them, ’I think you are good looking, and well mannered, and witty;’ or, ’I like you because they say you are a brave soldier and a good swordsman.’ Why should they say such things to us? I suppose we can tell if anyone likes us without all that nonsense.”
“Perhaps so,” the elder girl assented; “and yet I maintain it’s pleasant, and at any rate it’s the custom, and as it’s the custom, we must put up with it.
“What do you say, Francisco?”
“I don’t know anything about it,” Francis said. “Certainly some of the compliments I have heard paid were barefaced falsehoods, and I have wondered how men could make them, and how women could even affect to believe in them; but, on the other hand, I suppose that when people are in love, they really do think the person they are in love with is prettier and more charming, or braver and more handsome, than anyone else in the world, and that though it may be flattery, it is really true in the opinion of the person who utters it.”
“And now let us leave the matter alone for the present, Francisco. We are dying to hear all about your adventures, and especially that fight with the pirates. The captain, in his letter, merely said that you were attacked and beat the pirates off, and that you would have been sunk if it hadn’t been that, at your suggestion, they lowered bales of cloth over to break the shock; and that so many men were killed and so many wounded; and that you were hit twice by arrows, but the wounds were healing. That’s all he said, for papa read that portion of his letter out to us. Now we want a full and particular account of the affair.”
Francis gave a full account of the fight, and then related the other incidents of the voyage.
“We know many of the ports you touched at,” Maria said when he had finished, “for when we were little girls, papa took us sometimes for voyages in his ships, when the times were peaceful and there was no danger. Now let us order a gondola, and go for a row. Papa is sure to be occupied for ever so long with your captain.”
Chapter 9: The Capture Of The Lido.
Signor Polani told Francis, that evening, that he was much pleased with the report that the captain had given of his eagerness to acquire information both in mercantile and nautical matters, and of the manner in which he had kept the ship’s books, and the entries of the sales, and purchases of goods.