“I am speaking seriously, Annunciata, and you must not evade my question. It all depends upon you.”
“No, it also depends upon mother and Babetta. But I know you would be good and kind to me, Signore Giovanni, and you would always treat me well; for you are a good and kind man. I should like to be your wife, I think, but I do not know whether I should like to go with you across the great sea.”
Cranbrook was hopelessly perplexed, and for an instant even inclined to question whether she might not be ridiculing him; but a glance at her puzzled face showed him that she was grappling earnestly with the great problem, and apparently endeavoring to gain time by uttering the first thought that suggested itself to her mind. The gloom of the plane-trees now enveloped them, and only here and there a quivering ray of moonlight pierced through the dense roof of leaves. The marble phantoms of the Caesars gazed sternly at the daring intruders who had come to disturb their centuries’ repose, and the Roman senator at the end of the avenue held his outstretched hand toward them, as if warning them back from the life that lay beyond the moment’s great resolution. And yet, before the moon had faded out of the sky, the great resolution was irrevocably taken. When they parted in the hall, leading up to Cranbrook’s room, Annunciata consented with the faintest show of resistance to being kissed, and she even responded, though vaguely and doubtingly, to his vehement caresses. “Felicissima notte, Signore Giovanni,” she murmured, as she slowly disengaged herself from his embrace. “You are a dear, good man, and I will go with you across the great sea.”
Since their first parting, Vincent and Cranbrook had seen little of each other. They had met occasionally in the Vatican galleries, in the palace of the Caesars, and on the Monte Pincio, and had then stopped to shake hands and to exchange a few friendly inquiries, but Cranbrook, for a reason which he strove hard to embellish, had hitherto refrained from inviting Harry to visit him in his dwelling. The latter had of course noticed this omission, but had attributed it to a very pardonable desire on Jack’s part to keep him in ignorance as to the real state of his finances. “He is probably living in some cheap hovel,” he thought, “and he is too proud to wish me to know it. But he needn’t be afraid of my intruding upon his privacy until he himself opens his door to me.” Unfortunately for both, Harry was not destined to carry out this amiable intention. A hostile fate led him to encroach upon his friend’s territory when he was least suspecting it.