* * * * *
She did not go to bed, but merely threw off her ball-dress and undid
her hair; then she ordered me to build a fire, and she sat by the
fire-place, and stared into the flames.
“Do you need me any longer, mistress?” I asked, my voice failed me
at the last word.
Wanda shook her head.
I left the room, passed through the gallery, and sat down on one of
the steps, leading from there down into the garden. A gentle north
wind brought a fresh, damp coolness from the Arno, the green hills
extended into the distance in a rosy mist, a golden haze hovered over
the city, over the round cupola of the Duomo.
A few stars still tremble in the pale-blue sky.
I tore open my coat, and pressed my burning forehead against the
marble. Everything that had happened so far seemed to me a mere
child’s play; but now things were beginning to be serious, terribly
I anticipated a catastrophe, I visualized it, I could lay hold of it
with my hands, but I lacked the courage to meet it. My strength was
broken. And if I am honest with myself, neither the pains and
sufferings that threatened me, not the humiliations that impended,
were the thing that frightened me.
I merely felt a fear, the fear of losing her whom I loved with a
sort of fanatical devotion; but it was so overwhelming, so crushing
that I suddenly began to sob like a child.