At length, by many devious paths, they reached a house on a sunny elevation, at the western extremity of the garden. It was a house such as one sees only in Rome,—a wide expanse of stuccoed wall with six or seven windows of different sizes scattered at random over its surface. Long tufts of fine grass depended from the gutters of the roof, and the plain pillars supporting the round arches of the loggias had a humid and weather-beaten look. The whole edifice, instead of asserting itself glaringly as a product of human art, blended with soft gradations into the surrounding landscape. Even the rude fresco of the Mother of Sorrows over the door was half overgrown with a greenish, semi-visible moss which allowed the original colors to shine faintly through, and the coarse lines of the dial in the middle of the wall were almost obliterated by sun and rain. But what especially attracted Cranbrook’s attention was a card, hung out under one of the windows, upon which was written, with big, scrawling letters,—“Appartamento Mobiliato d’Affitarsi.” He determined on the spot to become the occupant of this apartment whatever its deficiencies might be; therefore, without further delay, he introduced himself to Annunciata’s mother, Monna Nina, as a forestiero in search of lodgings; and, after having gone through the formality of inspecting the room, he accepted Monna Nina’s price and terms with an eagerness which made the excellent woman repent in her heart that she had not asked more.
The next day Cranbrook parted amicably from Vincent, who, it must be admitted, was beginning to have serious doubts of his sanity. They had had many a quarrel in days past, but Jack had always come to his senses again and been the first to make up. Vincent had the comfortable certainty of being himself always in the right, and it therefore never occurred to him that it might be his place to apologize. He had invariably accepted Jack’s apologies good-naturedly and consented gracefully to let by-gones be by-gones, even though he were himself the offender; and the glow of conscious virtue which at such times pervaded him well rewarded him for his self-sacrifice. But this time, it seemed, Jack had taken some mysterious resolution, and his reason had hopelessly forsaken him. He even refused all offers of money, and talked about remaining in Rome and making his living by writing for the newspapers. He cherished no ill-will against Harry, he said, but had simply made up his mind that their tastes and temperaments were too dissimilar, and that they would both be happier if they parted company. They would see each other frequently and remain on friendly terms. No one was blamable for the separation, except Nature, who had made them so different. With these, and many similar assurances Cranbrook shook Vincent’s hand and repaired to his new abode among the palms and cypresses. And yet his ears burned uncomfortably as he drove away in the fiacre. It was the first time he had been insincere to Harry, even by implication; but after what had happened, it was impossible to mention Annunciata’s name.