She had thought very little of any need she might feel for relaxation and amusement, and she was very far from realizing what that solitude meant, which she was seeking with so much enthusiasm. She had never yet been as much alone as she should have liked to be, and she could not imagine that she might possibly become tired of playing the princess in the tower for months together, with only the company of one learned old ecclesiastic as her sole diversion. The vision of home which she evoked was always the same, but she did not even know whether the castle had a room which looked down upon the little town. She imagined but a single room; the rest was all a blank. She had been told that it was a great old fortress, with towers and halls and courts, gloomy, grand, and haunted by the ghosts of murdered kings and queens; but the slight descriptions she had heard produced no prevision of the reality as compared with what she really wanted and was sure that she should find.
She thought of Gianluca, as the carriage rolled along through the lower hills, and she looked forward with pleasure to writing about what she saw and expected to see. It seemed probable that she would write even longer letters to him, now that she was to be quite alone, and she hoped that his would be as interesting as ever. She thought again with anger of Taquisara’s extraordinary conduct, for she was positively sure that she was not playing with his friend in any sense of the word. The very suggestion would have been insulting, if he had made it in the most carefully guarded and tactful language. As he had put it, it had been nothing short of outrageous.
Gianluca must be blind indeed, she assured herself, if he fancied that she meant more than friendship by the constant exchange of letters with him. It might be eccentric; it might be looked upon as utterly and unpardonably unconventional, but it could never be regarded as a flirtation by letter. The proof of that, Veronica argued to herself, was that both of them knew that it was nothing of the sort, a manner of begging the question familiar to those who wish to do as they please without hindrance from within or without.
The roads were good, for it was the month of May. In winter, even Veronica’s strong horses could hardly have dragged the light carriage to its destination in one day. It was but little after ten o’clock in the morning when Veronica got out upon the platform of the railway station at Eboli; it was sunset, and the full moon was rising, when her carriage stopped at the entrance of the mountain town.