Cartouche by Frances Peard Page 1 of 261

Chapter One.
Love Me, Love My Dog.
"Cartouche! Cartouche!"

The call came from a young Englishman, who, having just walked through the streets of Florence on his way from the station, now found himself before a small house which stood not far from the Cascine in an open space, pleasantly planted with trees, and within view of the Arno.

The house itself was white, if so cold a colour may be taken to represent that mellow and golden effect which quickly enriches the plaster of Italy; and it was gay with green shutters and striped awnings, for it was yet early autumn, and the City of Flowers had not long cooled down from the extreme heats which make it unbearable in summer.

There was still a hot and languid glow lying on the violet-tinted hills which on either side surround the plain; still the Lung" Arno was avoided, and people kept close under the shadows of the narrow streets; or, if they must needs cross the river, crossed it by the Ponte Vecchio, under the shelter of its quaint old shops.

The door of the house at which the young man had arrived was open, but his call having produced no effect, instead of entering he stood still and repeated it. "Cartouche!"

This time there was a dull thud on the ground to his right; a great black poodle had jumped from an upper window, and recovering himself in a moment, broke into the most extravagant demonstrations of welcome, leaping upon the new-comer, barking and rushing about with every hair flying out from his body.

The young man, who was fair and curly-haired, and tall, though inclined to stoop, looked at the window and then at the dog, and gave a whistle of surprise.

"Let me advise you not to try that too often, my friend," he said seriously. "It is just as well for you that the house is not a trifle higher, as I presume you would not have taken the difference into your calculations. And a nice time your mistress must be having, if these are the ways in which you indulge."

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