Yes, Mae was feeling badly, heart-brokenly, all alone in her room. After a long, harrowing talk with Mrs. Jerrold, at the close of which she had received commands never to go out alone in Rome, because it wasn’t proper, she had been allowed to depart for her own room. Here she closed the door leading into Mrs. Jerrold’s and Edith’s apartment, and opened her window wide, and held her head out in the night air—the poisonous Roman air. The street was very quiet. Now and then some late wayfarer passed under the light at the corner, but Mae had, on the whole, a desolate outlook—high, dark buildings opposite, and black clouds above, with only here and there a star peeping through.
She had taken down her long hair, thrown off her dress, and half wrapped herself in a shawl, out of which her bare arms stretched as she leaned on the deep window seat. She looked like the first woman—of the Darwinian, not the Biblical, Creation. There was a wild, half-hunted expression on her face that was like the set air of an animal brought suddenly to bay. She thought in little jerks, quick sentences that were almost like the barking growls with which a beast lashes itself to greater fury.
“They treated me unfairly. They had no right. I shall choose my own friends. How dare they accuse me of flirting? I flirt, pah! I’d like to run away. This stupid, stupid life!” And so on till the sentences grew more human. “I suppose Mr. Mann thinks I am horrid, but I don’t care. I wish I could see Eric, he wouldn’t blame me so. What a goose I am to mind anyway. The Carnival is coming! Even these old tombs must give way for ten whole riotous days. I must make them madly merry days. I wonder how I will look in my domino. I suppose the pink one is mine.”
So Miss Mae dried her eyes, picked her deshabille self from the window seat, turned up the light, slipped into her pink and white carnival attire, and walked to the window again.
“This is the Corso all full of people, and I’ll pelt them merrily, so, and so, and so!” She reached forth her bare, round arm into the darkness, and looked down, where, full under the street light, gazing up at her, stood the Piedmontese officer.
It was at that very moment that Norman Mann put down his Sismondi, and looked from his window also.