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Marie Corelli
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 420 pages of information about Vendetta.

“He is not pursued by the law,” I continued, noting his hesitation.  “He is simply involved in a cruel difficulty brought upon him by his own family—­he seeks to escape from unjust persecution.”

Andrea’s brow cleared.

“Oh, if that is the case, eccellenza, I am at your service.  But where does your friend desire to go?”

I paused for a moment and considered.

“To Civita Vecchia,” I said at last, “from that port he can obtain a ship to take him to his further destination.”

The captain’s expressive face fell—­he looked very dubious.

“To Civita Vecchia is a long way, a very long way,” he said, regretfully; “and it is the bad season, and there are cross currents and contrary winds.  With all the wish in the world to please you, eccellenza, I dare not run the ‘Laura’ so far; but there is another means—­”

And interrupting himself he considered awhile in silence.  I waited patiently for him to speak.

“Whether it would suit your friend I know not,” he said at last, laying his hand confidentially on my arm, “but there is a stout brig leaving here for Civita Vecchia on Friday morning next—­”

“The day after Giovedi Grasso?” I queried, with a smile he did not understand.  He nodded.

“Exactly so.  She carries a cargo of Lacrima Cristi, and she is a swift sailer.  I know her captain—­he is a good soul; but,” and Andrea laughed lightly, “he is like the rest of us—­he loves money.  You do not count the francs—­no, they are nothing to you—­but we look to the soldi.  Now, if it please you I will make him a certain offer of passage money, as large as you shall choose, also I will tell him when to expect his one passenger, and I can almost promise you that he will not say no!”

This proposal fitted in so excellently with my plans that I accepted it, and at once named an exceptionally munificent sum for the passage required.  Andrea’s eyes glistened as he heard.

“It is a little fortune!” he cried, enthusiastically.  “Would that I could earn as much in twenty voyages!  But one should not be churlish—­such luck cannot fall in all men’s way.”

I smiled.

“And do you think, amico, I will suffer you to go unrewarded?” I said.  And placing two twenty-franc pieces in his brown palm I added, “As you rightly said, francs are nothing to me.  Arrange this little matter without difficulty, and you shall not be forgotten.  You can call at my hotel to-morrow or the next day, when you have settled everything—­here is the address,” and I penciled it on my card and gave it to him; “but remember, this is a secret matter, and I rely upon you to explain it as such to your friend who commands the brig going to Civita Vecchia.  He must ask no questions of his passenger—­ the more silence the more discretion—­and when once he has landed him at his destination he will do well to straightway forget all about him.  You understand?”

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