But she was very tired, and she fell asleep before long, fancying that she was looking out from the balcony again, with the brown roofs of her people’s houses at her feet.
Veronica was awake early in the May morning, and looked out again upon the great valley she had seen at sunset. It was all mist and light, without distinct outline. A fresh breeze blew into her face as she stood at the open window, and the sun was yet on the southeast wall, so that she stood in the clear, bluish shadow which high buildings cast only in the morning.
She had slept soundly without dreams, and she wondered how she could have ever glanced last night towards the place in the corner where the trap-door was hidden under her toilet table, or how she could have felt herself lonely and not quite safe, in her own castle, with a dozen of her own people, when she had never been afraid in the Palazzo Macomer. She pushed back her brown hair, a little impatiently, and laughed as she turned to Elettra.
“We are well here, Excellency,” said the maid, with a smile of satisfaction.
She rarely spoke unless Veronica addressed her, and was never a woman of many words.
“And you saw no ghosts?” Veronica laughed.
“I am afraid of ghosts that wear felt slippers,” answered Elettra.
An hour later Veronica sent for Don Teodoro, and they went over the castle together. He led her first to the high dungeon on the north side. The natural rock sprang up at that end, and some of the steps were cut in it. At the top, the tower was round, with a high parapet, and an extension on one side, all filled with earth and planted with cabbages and other green things.
“The under-steward had a little vegetable garden here,” said Don Teodoro. “I suppose that you will plant flowers. Will you look over the parapet on that side?”
Veronica trod the soft earth daintily and reached the wall. She glanced over it, and then drew a deep breath of surprise. Below her was a sheer fall of a thousand feet, to the bottom of a desolate ravine that ran up to northward in an incredibly steep ascent.
Then they went into the ancient prison, which was a round, vaulted chamber, shaped like the inside of the sharp end of an eggshell, with one small grated window, three times a man’s height from the stone floor. The little iron door had huge bolts and locks, and might have been four or five hundred years old. On the stone walls, men who had been imprisoned there had chipped out little crosses, and made initials, and rough dates in the fruitless attempts to commemorate their obscure suffering.