But when at last the sun was low and the guests had departed from the Palazzo Saracinesca, Corona and Giovanni got into their travelling carriage under the great dark archway, and sighed a sigh of infinite relief. The old Prince put his arms tenderly around his new daughter and kissed her; and for the second time in the course of this history, it is to be recorded that two tears stole silently down his brown cheeks to his grey beard. Then he embraced Giovanni, whose face was pale and earnest.
“This is not the end of our living together, padre mio,” he said. “We shall expect you before long at Saracinesca.”
“Yes, my boy,” returned the old man; “I will come and see you after Easter. But do not stay if it is too cold; I have a little business to attend to in Rome before I join you,” he added, with a grim smile.
“I know,” replied Giovanni, a savage light in his black eyes. “If you need help, send to me, or come yourself.”
“No fear of that, Giovannino; I have got a terrible helper. Now, be off. The guards are growing impatient.”
“Good-bye. God bless you, padre mio!”
“God bless you both!” So they drove off, and left old Saracinesca standing bareheaded and alone under the dim archway of his ancestral palace. The great carriage rolled out, and the guard of mounted gendarmes, which the Cardinal had insisted upon sending with the young couple, half out of compliment, half for safety, fell in behind, and trotted down the narrow street, with a deafening clatter of hoofs and clang of scabbards.
But Giovanni held Corona’s hand in his, and both were silent for a time. Then they rolled under the low vault of the Porta San Lorenzo and out into the evening sunlight of the Campagna beyond.
“God be praised that it has come at last!” said Giovanni.
“Yes, it has come,” answered Corona, her strong white fingers closing upon his brown hand almost convulsively; “and, come what may, you are mine, Giovanni, until we die!”
There was something fierce in the way those two loved each other; for they had fought many fights before they were united, and had overcome themselves, each alone, before they had overcome other obstacles together.