“You seem to be an affectionate parent,” said Donna Tullia, with a laugh.
“If you measure affection by the cost of postage-stamps, you have a right to be sarcastic. If you measure it in any other way, you are wrong. I could not help loving any one so like myself as my son. It would show a detestable lack of appreciation of my own gifts.”
“I do not think Don Giovanni so very like you,” said Donna Tullia, thoughtfully.
“Perhaps you do not know him so well as I do,” remarked the Prince. “Where do you see the greatest difference?”
“I think you talk better, and I think you are more—not exactly more honest, perhaps, but more straightforward.”
“I do not agree with you,” said old Saracinesca, quickly. “There is no one alive who can say they ever knew Giovanni approach in the most innocent way to a distortion of truth. I daresay you have discovered, however, that he is reticent; he can hold his tongue; he is no chatterer, no parrot, my son.”
“Indeed he is not,” answered Donna Tullia, and the reply pacified the old man; but she herself was thinking what supreme reticence Giovanni had shown in the matter of his marriage, and she wondered whether the Prince had ever heard of it.
Anastase Gouache worked hard at the Cardinal’s portrait, and at the same time did his best to satisfy Donna Tullia. The latter, indeed, was not easily pleased, and Gouache found it hard to instil into his representation of her the precise amount of poetry she required, without doing violence to his own artistic sense of fitness. But the other picture progressed rapidly. The Cardinal was a restless man, and after the first two or three sittings, desired nothing so much as to be done with them altogether. Anastase amused him, it is true, and the statesman soon perceived that he had made a conquest of the young man’s mind, and that, as Giovanni Saracinesca had predicted, he had helped Gouache to come to a decision. He was not prepared, however, for the practical turn that decision immediately took, and he was just beginning to wish the sittings at an end when Anastase surprised him by a very startling announcement.
As usual, they were in the Cardinal’s study; the statesman was silent and thoughtful, and Gouache was working with all his might.
“I have made up my mind,” said the latter, suddenly.
“Concerning what, my friend?” inquired the great man, rather absently.
“Concerning everything, Eminence,” answered Gouache “concerning politics, religion, life, death, and everything else which belongs to my career. I am going to enlist with the Zouaves.”
The Cardinal looked at him for a moment, and then broke into a low laugh.
“Extremis malis extrema remedial!” he exclaimed.
“Precisely—aux grands maux les grands remedes, as we say. I am going to join the Church militant. I am convinced that it is the best thing an honest man can do. I like fighting, and I like the Church—therefore I will fight for the Church.”