"I believe I am addressing confidential friends of Count Fabio d'Ascoli?" Brigida began. "May I ask if you are authorized to act for the c ount, in relation to the reward which this handbill offers?"
The doctor, having examined the handbill, said that the lady was quite right, and pointed significantly to the bag of money.
"You are prepared, then," pursued Brigida, smiling, "to give a reward of two hundred scudi to any one able to tell you who the woman is who wore the yellow mask at the Marquis Melani's ball, and how she contrived to personate the face and figure of the late Countess D'Ascoli?"
"Of course we are prepared," answered D'Arbino, a little irritably. "As men of honor, we are not in the habit of promising anything that we are not perfectly willing, under proper conditions, to perform."
"Pardon me, my dear friend," said the doctor; "I think you speak a little too warmly to the lady. She is quite right to take every precaution. We have the two hundred scudi here, madam," he continued, patting the money-bag; "and we are prepared to pay that sum for the information we want. But" (here the doctor suspiciously moved the bag of scudi from the table to his lap) "we must have proofs that the person claiming the reward is really entitled to it."
Brigida's eyes followed the money-bag greedily.
"Proofs!" she exclaimed, taking a small flat box from under her cloak, and pushing it across to the doctor. "Proofs! there you will find one proof that establishes my claim beyond the possibility of doubt."
The doctor opened the box, and looked at the wax mask inside it; then handed it to D'Arbino, and replaced the bag of scudi on the table.