“That is the other piece,” said Macomer, thoughtfully. “Pulcinella does not go mad in this one. The man has forgotten the parts. It is a pity—it was so amusing.”
There was silence for a moment. Matilde did not look round.
“I think he will recover,” said Veronica. “But I am glad you have told the truth. I promise that you shall be safe.”
In a moment she was gone.
“Just so,” said Macomer, speaking to himself. “He forgot the words of the piece, and so he made it end rather abruptly. Let us go home, Matilde, since it is over.”
“It is of no use to go on acting insanity before me,” answered Matilde, with a bitter sigh, as she raised her face from her hands and moved away from the fireplace, not looking at him.
“That is the reason why Pulcinella’s wife disappeared so suddenly,” he replied. “You see, there are two pieces which the marionettes act. In the one which begins with the quarrel—”
“I tell you it is of no use to do that!” cried Matilde, angrily, and beginning to walk up and down the room, still keeping her eyes from the face she hated.
“How nervous you are!” he exclaimed, with irritation. “I was only trying to explain—”
“Oh, I know! I know! Keep this acting for the doctors! You will drive me really mad!”
“The doctors?” He stared at her and smiled childishly. “Oh no!” he exclaimed. “The doctor is in the other piece—I was going to explain—”
She turned with a fierce exclamation upon him and grasped his arm, shaking him savagely, as though to rouse him. To her horror, he burst into tears.
“You hurt!” he whined. “You hurt me! Oh, poor little Gregorio!”
He was really mad, and there was no more acting for him, as the tears streamed down his vacant face, which no longer twitched at all.
His mind had broken down under Veronica’s relentless accusation and threat of vengeance.
The miserable woman’s strength was all but gone, when she sat down, alone in the room with her mad husband, and once more buried her face in her hands.
He whined and cried a little while to himself, and rubbed his arm where she had taken hold so roughly; but presently his tears dried again, and he leaned over the end of the couch on his elbow, and above her bowed, veiled head he crooked his fingers at each other, and made his hands nod and bob to each other, like little dolls, laughing gently, with a chuckle now and then, at the funny things he heard Pulcinella saying to his wife.
That was the end of the attempt to murder Veronica Serra, and that was the end of the old life at the Palazzo Macomer.
Veronica was not only merciful but generous to Matilde, when she finally set her own fortune in order. Through Pietro Ghisleri she found an honest and discreet man of business, whose fortune and good name placed him above suspicion, and who arranged matters to her satisfaction, and as far to her advantage as was possible under the circumstances.