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The Innocent Adventuress   By: (-1976)

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THE INNOCENT ADVENTURESS

BY MARY HASTINGS BRADLEY

AUTHOR OF "THE FORTIETH DOOR," "THE PALACE OF DARKENED WINDOWS," "THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT," "THE SPLENDID CHANCE," ETC.

[Illustration: D. A. & Co., INTER FOLIA FRUCTIS]

D. APPLETON AND COMPANY NEW YORK LONDON 1921

COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY D. APPLETON AND COMPANY

Copyright, 1920, by The McCall Co., Inc. PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

TO MY SISTER

SYLVIA CORWIN FRANCISCO

CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE I. THE EAVESDROPPER 7 II. UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY 21 III. LUNCHEON AT THE LODGE 47 IV. RI RI SINGS AGAIN 67 V. BETWEEN DANCES 88 VI. TWO AND A MOUNTAIN 106 VII. JOHNNY BECOMES INEVITABLE 127 VIII. JOHNNY BECOMES EXPLICIT 143 IX. MRS. BLAIR REGRETS 157 X. FANTASY 173 XI. MORNING LIGHT 204 XII. JOURNEY'S END 235

THE INNOCENT ADVENTURESS

CHAPTER I

THE EAVESDROPPER

Maria Angelina was eavesdropping. Not upon her sister Lucia and Paolo Tosti whom she had been assigned to chaperon by reading a book to herself in the adjoining room no, they were safely busy with piano and violin, and she was heartily bored, anyway, with their inanities. Voices from another direction had pricked her to alertness.

Maria Angelina was in the corner room of the Palazzo Santonini, a dim and beautiful old library with faded furnishings whose west arch of doorway looked into the pretentious reception room where the fianc├ęs were amusing themselves with their music and their whisperings. It was quite advanced, this allowing them to be so alone, but the Contessa Santonini was an American and, moreover, the wedding was not far off.

One can be indulgent when the settlements are signed.

So only Maria Angelina and her book were stationed for propriety, and, wanting another book, she had gone to the shelves and through the north door, ajar, caught the words that held her intent.

"Three of them!" a masculine voice uttered explosively, and Maria knew that Papa was speaking of his three daughters, Lucia, Julietta and Maria Angelina and she knew, too, that Papa had just come from the last interview with the Tostis' lawyers.

The Tostis had been stiff in their demands and Papa had been more complaisant than he should have been. Altogether that marriage was costing him dear.

He had been figuring now with Mamma for a pencil went clattering to the floor.

"And something especial," he proclaimed bitterly, "will have to be done for Julietta!"

At that the eavesdropper could smile, a faint little smile of shy pride and self reliance.

Nothing especial would have to be done for her ! A decent dowry, of course, as befitting a daughter of the house, but she would need no more, for Maria was eighteen, as white as a lily and as slender as an aspen, with big, dark eyes like strange pools of night in her child's face.

Whereas poor Julietta !

"Madre Dio!" said Papa indignantly. "For what did we name her Julietta? And born in Verona! A pretty sentiment indeed. But it was of no inspiration to her none!"

Mamma did not laugh although Papa's sudden chuckle after his explosion was most irresistible.

"But if Fate went by names," he continued, "then would Maria Angelina be for the life of religion." And he chuckled again.

Still Mamma did not laugh. Her pencil was scratching.

"It's a pity," murmured Papa, "that you did not embrace the faith, my dear, for then we might arrange this matter. They used to manage these things in the old days."

"Send Julietta into a convent?" cried Mamma in a voice of sudden energy.

Maria could not see but she knew that the Count shrugged.

"She appears built to coif Saint Catherine," he murmured.

"Julietta is a dear girl," said the Contessa in a warm voice.

"When one knows her excellencies... Continue reading book >>




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