Again Mascari took up the box; again his hand shook so that the dice rattled within. He threw; the numbers were sixteen.
“It is a high throw,” said Zanoni, calmly; “nevertheless, Signor Mascari, I do not despond.”
Mascari gathered up the dice, shook the box, and rolled the contents once more on the table: the number was the highest that can be thrown,—eighteen.
The prince darted a glance of fire at his minion, who stood with gaping mouth, staring at the dice, and trembling from head to foot.
“I have won, you see,” said Zanoni; “may we be friends still?”
“Signor,” said the prince, obviously struggling with anger and confusion, “the victory is yours. But pardon me, you have spoken lightly of this young girl,—will anything tempt you to yield your claim?”
“Ah, do not think so ill of my gallantry; and,” resumed Zanoni, with a stern meaning in his voice, “forget not the forfeit your own lips have named.”
The prince knit his brow, but constrained the haughty answer that was his first impulse.
“Enough!” he said, forcing a smile; “I yield. Let me prove that I do not yield ungraciously; will you favour me with your presence at a little feast I propose to give in honour,” he added, with a sardonic mockery, “of the elevation of my kinsman, the late Cardinal, of pious memory, to the true seat of St. Peter?”
“It is, indeed, a happiness to hear one command of yours I can obey.”
Zanoni then turned the conversation, talked lightly and gayly, and soon afterwards departed.
“Villain!” then exclaimed the prince, grasping Mascari by the collar, “you betrayed me!”
“I assure your Excellency that the dice were properly arranged; he should have thrown twelve; but he is the Devil, and that’s the end of it.”
“There is no time to be lost,” said the prince, quitting his hold of his parasite, who quietly resettled his cravat.
“My blood is up,—I will win this girl, if I die for it! What noise is that?”
“It is but the sword of your illustrious ancestor that has fallen from the table.”
Il ne faut appeler aucun
ordre si ce n’est en tems clair et
“Les Clavicules du Rabbi Salomon.”
(No order of spirits
must be invoked unless the weather be clear
Letter from Zanoni to Mejnour.
My art is already dim and troubled. I have lost the tranquillity which is power. I cannot influence the decisions of those whom I would most guide to the shore; I see them wander farther and deeper into the infinite ocean where our barks sail evermore to the horizon that flies before us! Amazed and awed to find that I can only warn where I would control, I have looked into my own soul. It is true that the desires of earth chain me to the present, and