"It is a high throw," said Zicci, calmly; "nevertheless, Signor Mascari, I do not despond." Mascari gathered up the dice, shook the box, and rolled the contents once more upon 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 shaking his head in puzzled wonder.
"How could you foretell this fearful event? He fell not by your arm," said Glyndon, in a tremulous and hollow tone. "The general who calculates on the victory does not fight in person," answered Zicci. "But enough of this. Meet me at midnight by the seashore, half a mile to the left of your hotel, you will know the spot by a rude pillar, the only one near , to which a broken chain is attached.
"You have reflected deeply, for an Italian," said Glyndon. "Who told you I was an Italian?" "Are you not of Corsica?" "Tush!" said Zicci, impatiently turning away. Then, after a pause, he resumed, in a mild voice: "Glyndon, do you renounce Isabel di Pisani? Will you take three days to consider of what I have said?" "Renounce her, never!" "Then you will marry her?" "Impossible."
It is almost daylight. Adieu, signor." "What think you of this story?" said Glyndon as the young men walked homeward. "Why, it is very clear that this Zicci is some impostor, some clever rogue; and the Neapolitan shares booty, and puffs him off with all the hackneyed charlatanism of the marvellous.
At the entrance of the reception-rooms he found a page, whom he despatched with a message to Zicci. The page did the errand; and the Corsican, on hearing the whispered name of Glyndon, turned to his host. The business must indeed be urgent on which he has sought me in such an hour. You will forgive my momentary absence."
One by one the rest of the party fell into a charmed and spell-bound silence as Zicci continued to pour forth sally upon sally, tale upon tale. They hung on his words, they almost held their breath to listen. Yet how bitter was his mirth; how full of contempt for all things; how deeply steeped in the coldness of the derision that makes sport of life itself!
Far more intense than the passion of the gamester was the frantic yet sublime desire that mastered the breast of Glyndon. He would be the rival of Zicci, not in human and perishable affections, but in preternatural and eternal lore.
Those eyes met his, and he could not withdraw from the charm of their gaze. He felt her heart throbbing beneath his own; her breath came warm upon his cheek. He trembled, he, the lofty, the mysterious Zicci, who seemed to stand aloof from his race. With a deep and burning sigh he murmured, "Isabel, I love thee!"
"Grant this to be true: do you suppose the love to dazzle and mystify is not as strong with some natures as that of gold and power with others? Zicci has a moral ostentation; and the same character that makes him rival kings in expenditure makes him not disdain to be wondered at even by a humble Englishman." Here the landlord, a little, fat, oily fellow, came up with a fresh bottle of lacryma.
The girl followed him into the room, trembling and blushing deeply, and stood before him with the lamp she held shining upward on her cheek, and the long hair that fell like a shower of light over the bare shoulders and heaving bust. "Isabel," said Zicci, in a voice that spoke deep emotion, "I am by thy side once more to save thee. Not a moment is to be lost.