The duchess clasped her fondly.
“It’s not often one gets you so humble, my Laura.”
“I am crying with delight at a marriage! Amalia, look at me: you would suppose it a mighty triumph. A marriage! two little lovers lying cheek to cheek! and me blessing heaven for its goodness! and there may be dead men unburied still on the accursed Custozza hill-top!”
Amalia let her weep. The soft affection which the duchess bore to her was informed with a slight touch of envy of a complexion that could be torn with tears one minute, and the next be fit to show in public. No other thing made her regard her friend as a southern—that is, a foreign-woman.
“Be patient,” Laura said.
“Cry; you need not be restrained,” said Amalia.
“A sort of sigh. My fit’s over. Carlo’s marriage is too surprising and delicious. I shall be laughing presently. I hinted at his marriage—I thought it among the list of possible things, no more—to see if that crystal pool, called Violetta d’Isorella, could be discoloured by stirring. Did you watch her face? I don’t know what she wanted with Carlo, for she’s cold as poison—a female trifler; one of those women whom I, and I have a chaste body, despise as worse than wantons; but she certainly did not want him to be married. It seems like a victory—though we’re beaten. You have beaten us, my dear!”
“My darling! it is your husband kisses you,” said Amalia, kissing Laura’s forehead from a full heart.
THROUGH THE WINTER
Weisspriess and Wilfrid made their way toward Milan together, silently smoking, after one attempt at conversation, which touched on Vittoria’s marriage; but when they reached Monza the officer slapped his degraded brother in arms upon the shoulder, and asked him whether he had any inclination to crave permission to serve in Hungary. For his own part, Weisspriess said that he should quit Italy at once; he had here to skewer the poor devils, one or two weekly, or to play the mightily generous; in short, to do things unsoldierly; and he was desirous of getting away from the country. General Schoneck was at Monza, and might arrange the matter for them both. Promotion was to be looked for in Hungary; the application would please the General; one battle would restore the lieutenant’s star to Wilfrid’s collar. Wilfrid, who had been offended by his companion’s previous brooding silence, nodded briefly, and they stopped at Monza, where they saw General Schoneck in the morning, and Wilfrid being by extraordinary favour in civilian’s dress during his leave of absence, they were jointly invited to the General’s table at noon, though not to meet any other officer. General Schoneck agreed with Weisspriess that Hungary would be a better field for Wilfrid; said he would do his utmost to serve them in the manner they wished, and dismissed