A week later I was living with my father in the Hotel Europa on the edge of the Piazza di Spagna.
He was kinder to me than he had ever been before, but he did not tell me what the plans were which he had formed for my future, and I was left to discover them for myself.
Our apartment was constantly visited by ecclesiastics—Monsignori, Archbishops, even one of the Cardinals of the Propaganda, brought there by Bishop Walsh (the Bishop of our own diocese), and I could not help but hear portions of their conversation.
“It will be difficult, extremely difficult,” the Cardinal would say. “Such marriages are not encouraged by the Church, which holds that they are usually attended by the worst consequences to both wife and husband. Still—under the exceptional circumstances—that the bridegroom’s family was Catholic before it was Protestant—it is possible, just possible. . . .”
“Cardinal,” my father would answer, while his strong face was darkening, “excuse me, sir, but I’m kind of curious to get the hang of this business. Either it can be done or it can’t. If it can, we’ll just sail in and do it. But if it can’t, I believe I’ll go home quick and spend my money another way.”
Then there would be earnest assurances that in the end all would be right, only Rome moved slowly, and it would be necessary to have patience and wait.
My father waited three weeks, and meantime he occupied himself in seeing the sights of the old city.
But the mighty remains which are the luminous light-houses of the past—the Forum with the broken columns of its dead centuries; the Coliseum with its gigantic ruins, like the desolate crater of a moon; the Campagna with its hollow, crumbling tombs and shattered aqueducts,—only vexed and irritated him.
“Guess if I had my way,” he said, “I would just clean out this old stone-yard of monuments to dead men, and make it more fit for living ones.”
At length the Bishop came to say that the necessary business had been completed, and that to mark its satisfactory settlement the Pope had signified his willingness to receive in private audience both my father and myself.
This threw me into a state of the greatest nervousness, for I had begun to realise that my father’s business concerned myself, so that when, early the following morning (clad according to instructions, my father in evening dress and I in a long black mantilla), we set out for the Vatican, I was in a condition of intense excitement.