“Forgive me,” he said hurriedly, “I have just remembered a most important engagement—”
“Do not mention it,” said Astrardente, sourly. Giovanni bowed to the Duchessa and left the box. She did not look at him as he went away.
“We had better go home, my angel,” said the old man. “You have got a bad chill.”
“Oh no, I would rather stay. It is nothing, and the best part of the opera is to come.” Corona spoke quietly enough. Her strong nerves had already recovered from the shock she had experienced, and she could command her voice. She did not want to go home; on the contrary, the brilliant lights and the music served for a time to soothe her. If there had been a ball that night she would have gone to it; she would have done anything that would take her thoughts from herself. Her husband looked at her curiously. The suspicion crossed his mind that Don Giovanni had said something which had either frightened or offended her, but on second thoughts the theory seemed absurd. He regarded Saracinesca as little more than a mere acquaintance of his wife’s.
“As you please, my love,” he answered, drawing his chair a little nearer to hers. “I am glad that fellow is gone. We can talk at our ease now.”
“Yes; I am glad he is gone. We can talk now,” repeated Corona, mechanically.
“I thought his excuse slightly conventional, to say the least of it,” remarked Astrardente. “An important engagement!—just a little banal. However, any excuse was good enough which took him away.”
“Did he say that?” asked Corona. “I did not hear. Of course, any excuse would do, as you say.”
Giovanni left the theatre at once, alone, and on foot. He was very much agitated. He had done suddenly and unawares the thing of all others he had determined never to do; his resolutions had been broken down and carried away as an ineffectual barrier is swept to the sea by the floods of spring. His heart had spoken in spite of him, and in speaking had silenced every prompting of reason. He blamed himself bitterly, as he strode out across the deserted bridge of Sant’ Angelo and into the broad gloom beyond, where the street widens from the fortress to the entrance of the three Borghi: he walked on and on, finding at every step fresh reason for self-reproach, and trying to understand what he had done. He paused at the end of the open piazza and looked down towards the black rushing river which he could hear, but hardly see; he turned into the silent Borgo Santo Spirito, and passed along the endless wall of the great hospital up to the colonnades, and still wandering on, he came to the broad steps of St. Peter’s and sat down, alone in the darkness, at the foot of the stupendous pile.