The husband and wife passed a dreary day. It seemed as though something dark were hanging over their heads ... but what it was, they could not tell. They wanted to be together, as though some danger were menacing them;—but what to say to each other, they did not know. Fabio made an effort to work at the portrait, to read Ariosto, whose poem, which had recently made its appearance in Ferrara, was already famous throughout Italy; but he could do nothing.... Late in the evening, just in time for supper, Muzio returned.
He appeared calm and contented—but related few stories; he chiefly interrogated Fabio concerning their mutual acquaintances of former days, the German campaign, the Emperor Charles; he spoke of his desire to go to Rome, to have a look at the new Pope. Again he offered Valeria wine of Shiraz—and in reply to her refusal he said, as though to himself, “It is not necessary now.”
On returning with his wife to their bedroom Fabio speedily fell asleep ... and waking an hour later was able to convince himself that no one shared his couch: Valeria was not with him. He hastily rose, and at the selfsame moment he beheld his wife, in her night-dress, enter the room from the garden. The moon was shining brightly, although not long before a light shower had passed over.—With widely-opened eyes, and an expression of secret terror on her impassive face, Valeria approached the bed, and fumbling for it with her hands, which were outstretched in front of her, she lay down hurriedly and in silence. Fabio asked her a question, but she made no reply; she seemed to be asleep. He touched her, and felt rain-drops on her clothing, on her hair, and grains of sand on the soles of her bare feet. Then he sprang up and rushed into the garden through the half-open door. The moonlight, brilliant to harshness, inundated all objects. Fabio looked about him and descried on the sand of the path traces of two pairs of feet; one pair was bare; and those tracks led to an arbour covered with jasmin, which stood apart, between the pavilion and the house. He stopped short in perplexity; and lo! suddenly the notes of that song which he had heard on the preceding night again rang forth! Fabio shuddered, and rushed into the pavilion.... Muzio was standing in the middle of the room, playing on his violin. Fabio darted to him.
“Thou hast been in the garden, thou hast been out, thy clothing is damp with rain.”
“No.... I do not know ... I do not think ... that I have been out of doors ...” replied Muzio, in broken accents, as though astonished at Fabio’s advent, and at his agitation.
Fabio grasped him by the arm.—“And why art thou playing that melody again? Hast thou had another dream?”
Muzio glanced at Fabio with the same surprise as before, and made no answer.
“Come, answer me!”
“The moon is steel,
like a circular shield....
The river gleams like a snake....
The friend is awake, the enemy sleeps—
The hawk seizes the chicken in his claws....