Relays of horses awaited them on their way, and relays of mounted guards. Late that night they reached Saracinesca, all ablaze with torches and lanterns; and the young men took the horses from the coach and yoked themselves to it with ropes, and dragged the cumbrous carriage up the last hill with furious speed, shouting and singing like madmen in the cool mountain air. Up the steep they rushed, and under the grand old gateway, made as bright as day with flaming torches; and then there went up a shout that struck the old vaults like a wild chord of fierce music, and Corona knew that her journey was ended.
So it was that Giovanni Saracinesca brought home his bride.
The old Prince was left alone, as he had often been left before, when Giovanni was gone to the ends of the earth in pursuit of his amusements. On such occasions old Saracinesca frequently packed up his traps and followed his son’s example; but he rarely went further than Paris, where he had many friends, and where he generally succeeded in finding consolation for his solitude.
Now, however, he felt more than usually lonely. Giovanni had not gone far, it is true, for with good horses it was scarcely more than eight hours to the castle; but, for the first time in his life, old Saracinesca felt that if he had suddenly determined to follow his son, he would not be welcome. The boy was married at last, and must be left in peace for a few days with his bride. With the contrariety natural to him, old Saracinesca no sooner felt that his son was gone than he experienced the most ardent desire to be with him. He had often seen Giovanni leave the house at twenty-four hours’ notice on his way to some distant capital, and had not cared to accompany him, simply because he knew he might do so if he pleased; but now he felt that some one else had taken his place, and that, for a time at least, he was forcibly excluded from Giovanni’s society. It is very likely that but for the business which detained him in Rome he would have astonished the happy pair by riding into the gateway of the old castle on the day after the wedding: that business, however, was urgent, secret, and, moreover, very congenial to the old man’s present temper.
He had discussed the matter fully with Giovanni, and they had agreed upon the course to be pursued. There was, nevertheless, much to be done before the end they both so earnestly desired could be attained. It seemed a simple plan to go to Cardinal Antonelli and to demand the arrest of Del Ferice for his misdeeds; but as yet those misdeeds were undefined, and it was necessary to define them. The Cardinal rarely resorted to such measures except when the case was urgent, and Saracinesca knew perfectly well that it would be hard to prove anything more serious against Del Ferice than the crime of joining in the silly talk of Valdarno and his set. Giovanni had told