Jack Harkaway and His Son's Escape from the Brigand's of Greece by Bracebridge Hemyng

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CHAPTER I.

THE CONTESSA'S LETTER TO MR. MOLE--ON PLEASURE BENT--THE
MENDICANT FRIAR--MIDNIGHT MARAUDERS--HOUSE BREAKING.


When Mrs. Harkaway's maid returned to the villa, she got scolded for
being so long upon an errand of some importance with which she had been
entrusted.

Thereupon, she was prepared with twenty excuses, all of which were any
thing but the truth.

The words of warning which the brigand had called after her had not
been without their due effect.

"She had been detained," she said, "by the Contessa Maraviglia for the
letter which she brought back to Mr. Mole."

The letter was an invitation to a grand ball which was to be given by
the contessa at the Palazzo Maraviglia, and to which the Harkaways were
going.

Dick Harvey had been at work in this business, and had made the
contessa believe indirectly that Mr. Mole was a most graceful dancer,
and that it would be an eternal shame for a _bal masque_ to take
place in the neighbourhood without being graced by his--Mole's--
presence.

The result was that during lunch Mr. Mole received from the maid the
following singular effusion.

"Al Illustrissimo Signor Mole," which, being translated, means, "To the
illustrious Mr. Mole."

"Hullo!" said the tutor, looking around him and dropping his eye on
Dick, "who is this from?"

"From the Contessa Maraviglia," replied the girl.

Mr. Mole gave her a piercing glance.

The contessa's letter was a sort of puzzle to poor old Mole.

"The Contessa Maraviglia begs the honour of the Signor Mole's company
on the 16th instant. She can accept no refusal, as the _fete_ is
especially organised in honour of Signor Mole, whose rare excellence in
the poetry of motion has elevated dancing into an art."

Isaac Mole read and re-read this singular letter, until he grew more
and more fogged.

He thought that the contessa had failed to express herself clearly in
English on account of her imperfect knowledge of our language; but he
was soon corrected in this impression.

The lady in question, it transpired, was English.

So poor Mole did what he thought best under the circumstances, and that
was to consult with Dick Harvey.

"Dear me!" echoed Dick, innocently; "why, you have made an impression
here, Mr. Mole."

"Do you think so?" said Mole, doubtfully.

"Beyond question. This contessa is smitten, sir, with your attractions;
but I can assist you here."

"You can?"

"Of course."

"Thank you, my dear Harvey, thank you," replied Mr. Mole eagerly.

"Yes; I can let the contessa know that there is no hope for her."

Isaac Mole's vanity was tickled at this.

"Don't you think it would be cruel to undeceive her?"

"Cruel, sir!" said Dick, with severe air, "no, sir; I don't. It is my
duty to tell her all."

Mr. Mole looked alarmed.

"What do you mean?"

"That you are a married man."

"I say, I say--"

"Yes, sir, very much married," pursued Dick, relentlessly; "that you
have had three wives, and were nearly taking a fourth."

"Don't, Dick."

"All more or less black."

"Dick, Dick!"

"However, there is no help for it; you will have to go to this ball."

"Never."

"You will, though. The contessa has heard of your fame in the ball
room--"

"What!"

"In bygone years, no doubt--and she does not know of the little matters
which have happened since to spoil your activity, if not your grace."

As he alluded to the "little matters," he glanced at Mr. Mole's wooden
legs.

Mr. Mole thought it over, and then he read through the letter again.

"You are right, Harvey," he said with an air of determination; "and my
mind's made up."

"Is it?"

"Yes."

"So much the better, for your absence would be sadly missed at the
ball."

"You misunderstand me, Harvey; I shall not go."

Dick looked frightened.

"Don't say that, Mr. Mole, I beg, don't; it would be dangerous."

"What on earth do you mean?"

"I mean that this lady is English by birth, but she has lived in the
land of the Borgias, where they yet know how to use poison."

"Harvey!"

"And if her love were slighted,
 

About Bracebridge Hemyng

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Published May 16, 2012 by IndyPublish. 261 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Biographies & Memoirs. Fiction

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