“As soon as you yourself have decided,” said the latter, quietly. “I think I understand. Your brother and the countess feel quite sure of the fact, as though it had already taken place, but for some reason which does not concern me, you yourself are not so certain of the result. To be plain, there is still a possibility that the marriage may not take place. I need not tell you that in speaking to Gianluca I shall be very careful not to raise any false hopes in his mind. But I am exceedingly indebted to you for being so honourably frank with me.”
Taquisara repressed a smile at his own words as he rose from his seat, for he was very far from wishing to offend Bosio. The latter rose, too, and looked at him with a dazed, uncertain expression, like a man not quite sure of being in his senses. He put out his hand mechanically, without speaking, and a moment later he was alone with the horror of his desperate difficulty.
The Sicilian descended the stairs slowly, and paused to look out of one of the big windows at a landing, which offered nothing in the way of a view but an almost blank wall on the other side of the narrow street. He did not know what to do next, and yet, being eminently a man of action, rather than of reflexion, he knew that he must do more to satisfy himself, for his suspicions were aroused. He had expected to find Bosio jubilant. From what he had seen, he had understood well enough that there was some mysterious trouble. He could not hope to extort any information from Macomer or his wife, and he had no means of reaching Veronica, nor could he have asked direct questions if he had succeeded in seeing her.
Suddenly, he thought of the young Princess Corleone, whom he knew tolerably well, Corleone being a Sicilian like himself. She was Veronica’s only intimate friend. She was the niece of Cardinal Campodonico, one of Veronica’s guardians. If any one knew the truth, she might be expected to know it.
Taquisara looked at his watch, lit a cigar, and left the gloomy Palazzo Macomer, glad to be outside and to turn his face to the sunshine, and his back upon all the wickedness of which its old walls kept the secret.
The villas along the shore towards Posilippo face the sun all day in winter, for they look due south from the water’s edge, and their marble steps lead down into the tideless sea, as though it were a landlocked lagoon or a Swiss lake. In winter the roses blossom amongst the laurels, and before the rose leaves are all fallen the violets peep out in the borders; the broad, fan-like palms stand unsheltered in the south wind, and the oranges and lemons are left hanging on the trees for beauty’s sake. There are but two changes in the year, from spring to summer, and from summer back to spring.
It is sometimes cold in Naples, high up in the city, when the northeast wind comes screaming from the snowy Abruzzi, and when Vesuvius is clad in white almost to the lower villages. In Naples it is sometimes dreary when the water-laden southwest sends up its mountains of black clouds. But somehow in soft Posilippo the wind is tempered and the rain seems but a shower, and spring and summer, summer and spring, ever join hands amongst the ilexes and the laurels and the orange trees.