“Did you hear of the marriage? or did you only assume from what you knew that it would take place?”
“I heard of it about six months ago. A man came to sing in the chorus at our theater who had been employed some time before at the grand concert given on the occasion of the marriage. But let us drop the subject now. I am in a fever already with talking of it. You are in a bad situation here, my dear; I declare your room is almost stifling.”
“Shall I open the other window?”
“No; let us go out and get a breath of air by the river-side. Come! take your hood and fan—it is getting dark—nobody will see us, and we can come back here, if you like, in half an hour.”
Mademoiselle Virginie acceded to her friend’s wish rather reluctantly. They walked toward the river. The sun was down, and the sudden night of Italy was gathering fast. Although Brigida did not say another word on the subject of Fabio or his wife, she led the way to the bank of the Arno, on which the young nobleman’s palace stood.
Just as they got near the great door of entrance, a sedan-chair, approaching in the opposite direction, was set down before it; and a footman, after a moment’s conference with a lady inside the chair, advanced to the porter’s lodge in the courtyard. Leaving her friend to go on, Brigida slipped in after the servant by the open wicket, and concealed herself in the shadow cast by the great closed gates.
“The Marchesa Melani, to inquire how the Countess d’Ascoli and the infant are this evening,” said the footman.
“My mistress has not changed at all for the better since the morning,” answered the porter. “The child is doing quite well.”
The footman went back to the sedan-chair; then returned to the porter’s lodge.
“The marchesa desires me to ask if fresh medical advice has been sent for,” he said.
“Another doctor has arrived from Florence to-day,” replied the porter.
Mademoiselle Virginie, missing her friend suddenly, turned back toward the palace to look after her, and was rather surprised to see Brigida slip out of the wicket-gate. There were two oil lamps burning on pillars outside the doorway, and their light glancing on the Italian’s face, as she passed under them, showed that she was smiling.
While the Marchesa Melani was making inquiries at the gate of the palace, Fabio was sitting alone in the apartment which his wife usually occupied when she was in health. It was her favorite room, and had been prettily decorated, by her own desire, with hangings in yellow satin and furniture of the same color. Fabio was now waiting in it, to hear the report of the doctors after their evening visit.