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CHAPTER XIX. A SPEECH FROM THE THRONE.
It was some time since Mrs. Gray had made any communication to the boarders.

But one evening she seemed laboring under suppressed excitement.

"Something is up," said Mr. Blake, the young reporter who sat on my left, the Disagreeable Woman being on my right.

"We shall have it after supper," I answered.

Mrs. Gray always waited till the last boarder had finished his meal. It was one of the unwritten laws of the boarding-house.

The last boarder on this occasion was Professor Poppendorf. He was the[Pg 163] heartiest eater, and we usually had to wait for him. When he had taken the last sip of beer, for in consideration of his national tastes he was always supplied with a schooner of that liquid which is dear to the Teutonic heart, Mrs. Gray opened her mouth.

"My friends," she said, "I have a letter to read to you."

She opened a perfumed billet, adjusted her spectacles, and read.

"It is from Mrs. Wyman," she said, "and it is at her request that I read it."

We had already noticed that neither Mrs. Wyman nor the Count was present.

Mrs. Gray began:

    "My Dear Mrs. Gray:—For three years I have been an inmate of your happy home. I have come to feel an interest in it and in all whose acquaintance I have made here. I had no thought of leaving you, but circumstances make it necessary. Let me say at once that I[Pg 164] have consented to marry Count di Penelli. You who are familiar with his fine traits and aristocratic bearing will hardly be surprised that I have been unable to resist his ardent entreaties. I had indeed intended never to marry again, but it was because I never expected to find one who could take the place of my dear departed first husband. The Count and I leave by an early train for Philadelphia where the ceremony will be performed. We may remain there for a few days. Beyond that our plans are not arranged. We would have had a public wedding and invited our friends, but as the Count's family are in Italy and cannot be present, we thought it best to have a simple private ceremony. When we go to Italy next summer there may be another ceremony at the Penelli Castle in Southern Italy.

    "I cannot tell when I shall return to New York. Probably I shall never again be an inmate of your happy home. The Count and I may take a flat up-town—a[Pg 165] whole house would be too large for us. But I shall—we shall certainly call on our old friends, and I trust that the ties that bind us together in friendship may never weaken.

    "I shall soon be the Countess di Penelli. But o............
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