The seventh section solemnly averred that the sole object of the conspiracy was to prevent the young nobleman from marrying again, by working on his superstitious fears; the writer repeating, after this avowal, that any such second marriage would necessarily destroy his project for promoting the ultimate restoration of the Church possessions, by diverting Count Fabio’s property, in great part, from his first wife’s child, over whom the priest would always have influence, to another wife and probably other children, over whom he could hope to have none.
The eighth and last section expressed the writer’s contrition for having allowed his zeal for the Church to mislead him into actions liable to bring scandal on his cloth; reiterated in the strongest language his conviction that, whatever might be thought of the means employed, the end he had proposed to himself was a most righteous one; and concluded by asserting his resolution to suffer with humility any penalties, however severe, which his ecclesiastical superiors might think fit to inflict on him.
Having looked over this extraordinary statement, the doctor addressed himself again to Luca Lomi.
“I agree with you,” he said, “that no useful end is to be gained now by mentioning your brother’s conduct in public—always provided, however, that his ecclesiastical superiors do their duty. I shall show these papers to the count as soon as he is fit to peruse them, and I have no doubt that he will be ready to take my view of the matter.”
This assurance relieved Luca Lomi of a great weight of anxiety. He bowed and withdrew.
The doctor placed the papers in the same cabinet in which he had secured the wax mask. Before he locked the doors again he took out the flat box, opened it, and looked thoughtfully for a few minutes at the mask inside, then sent for Nanina.
“Now, my child,” he said, when she appeared, “I am going to try our first experiment with Count Fabio; and I think it of great importance that you should be present while I speak to him.”
He took up the box with the mask in it, and beckoning to Nanina to follow him, led the way to Fabio’s chamber.
About six months after the events already related, Signor Andrea D’Arbino and the Cavaliere Finello happened to be staying with a friend, in a seaside villa on the Castellamare shore of the bay of Naples. Most of their time was pleasantly occupied on the sea, in fishing and sailing. A boat was placed entirely at their disposal. Sometimes they loitered whole days along the shore; sometimes made trips to the lovely islands in the bay.
One evening they were sailing near Sorrento, with a light wind. The beauty of the coast tempted them to keep the boat close inshore. A short time before sunset, they rounded the most picturesque headland they had yet passed; and a little bay, with a white-sand beach, opened on their view. They noticed first a villa surrounded by orange and olive trees on the rocky heights inland; then a path in the cliff-side leading down to the sands; then a little family party on the beach, enjoying the fragrant evening air.