As she walked, she dreamed of raising some great institution of charity; she knew not for what precise object, but there was room enough for charity in Rome. The great Torlonia had built churches, and hospitals, and asylums. She would do likewise; she would make for herself an interest in doing good, a satisfaction in the exercise of her power to combat evil. It would be magnificent to feel that she had done it herself, alone and unaided; that she had built the walls from the foundation and the corner-stone to the eaves; that she had entered herself into the study of each detail, and herself peopled the great institution with such as needed most help in the world—with little children, perhaps. She would visit them every day, and herself provide for their wants and care for their sufferings. She would give the place her husband’s name, and the good she would accomplish with his earthly portion might perhaps profit his soul. She would go to Padre Filippo and ask his advice. He would know what was best to be done, for he knew more of the misery in Rome than any one, and had a greater mind to relieve it. She had seen him since her husband’s death, but she had not yet conceived this scheme.
And Giovanni—she thought of him too; but the habit of putting him out of her heart was strong. She dimly fancied that in the far future a day might come when she would be justified in thinking of him if she so pleased; but for the present, her loyalty to her dead husband seemed more than ever a sacred duty. She would not permit herself to think of Giovanni, even though, from a general point of view, she might contemplate the possibility of a second marriage. She would go to Padre Filippo and talk over everything with him; he would advise her well.
Then a wild longing seized her to leave Rome for a while, to breathe the air of the country, to get away from the scene of all her troubles, of all the terrible emotions that had swept over her life in the last three weeks, to be alone in the hills or by the sea. It seemed dreadful to be tied to her great house in the city, in her mourning, shut off suddenly from the world, and bound down by the chain of conventionality to a fixed method of existence. She would give anything to go away. Why not? She suddenly realised what was so hard to understand, that she was free to go where she pleased—if only, by accident, she could chance to meet Giovanni Saracinesca before she left. No—the thought was unworthy. She would leave town at once—surely she could have nothing to say to Giovanni—she would leave to-morrow morning.