A burning impatience to be back in Pisa now possessed her. She hastened toward the city at her utmost speed. The doctor was reported to be in the palace when she passed the servants lounging in the courtyard. He saw the moment, she came into his presence, that something had happened, and led her away from the sick-room into Fabio's empty study. There she told him all.
"You have saved him," said the doctor, joyfully. "I will answer for his recovery. Only let that woman come here for the reward; and leave me to deal with her as she deserves. In the meantime, my dear, don't go away from the palace on any account until I give you permission. I am going to send a message immediately to Signor Andrea d'Arbino to come and hear the extraordinary disclosure that you have made to me. Go back to read to the count, as usual, until I want you again; but, remember, you must not drop a word to him yet of what you have said to me. He must be carefully prepared for all that we have to tell him; and must be kept quite in the dark until those preparations are made."
D'Arbino answered the doctor's summons in person; and Nanina repeated her story to him. He and the doctor remained closeted together for some time after she had concluded her narrative and had retired. A little before four o'clock they sent for her again into the study. The doctor was sitting by the table with a bag of money before him, and D'Arbino was telling one of the servants that if a lady called at the palace on the subject of the handbill which he had circulated, she was to be admitted into the study immediately.
As the clock struck four Nanina was requested to take possession of a window-seat, and to wait there until she was summoned. When she had obeyed, the doctor loosened one of the window-curtains, to hide her from the view of any one entering the room.
About a quarter of an hour elapsed, and then the door was thrown open, and Brigida herself was shown into the study. The doctor bowed, and D'Arbino placed a chair for her. She was perfectly collected, and thanked them for their politeness with her best grace.
"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?"