About four in the afternoon a very bright sunbeam peeped through her closed blinds, and she brushed away her tears, and peace came back to her small heart, and she felt like a New England valley after a shower, very fresh and clean, and goodly,—just a trifle subdued, however.
She would go to church. She had heard that there was lovely music at vespers, in the little church at the foot of Capo le Case. St. Andrea delle Frate, was it? It wasn’t very far away. She could say her prayers and repent entirely and wholly. So she dressed rapidly, singing the familiar old Te Deum joyously all the while, and off she started.
The air was cool and clear and delicious and the street-scenes were pretty. Mae took in everything before her as she left the house, from the Barberini fountain to the groups of models at the corner of the Square and the Via Felice; but she did not see, at some distance behind her, on the opposite side of the street, the sudden start of a motionless figure as she left the house, or know that it straightened itself and moved along as she did, turning on to the pretty Via Sistina, so down the hill at Capo le Case, to the church below.
She was early for vespers, and there was only the music singing in her own happy little heart as she entered the quiet place. The contrast between the spot, with its shrines and symbols and aids to faith, and all that she had associated with religion, conspired to separate her from herself and her past, and left her a bit of breathing, worshiping life, praising the great Giver of Life. She fell on her knees in an exalted, jubilate spirit. She was more like a Praise-the-Lord psalm of David than like a young girl of the nineteenth century.
And yet close behind her, a little to the left, was Bero on his knees too, at his pater nosters.
By and by the music began. It was music beyond description; those wonderful male voices, the chorus of young boys, and then suddenly, the organ and some one wild falsetto carrying the great Latin soul-laden words up higher.
All this while Mae’s head was bent low and her heart was a-praying.
All this while Bero was on his knees also, but his eyes were on Mae.
The music ceased; the prayers were ended. Mae heard indistinctly the sweep of trailing skirts, the sound of footsteps on the marble floor, the noise of voices as the people went away, but still she did not move. The selah pause had come after the psalm.
When she did rise, and turn, and start to go, her eyes fell on the kneeling form. She tried to pass quickly without recognition, but he reached out his hand.
“This is a church,” said Mae; “my prayers are sacred; do not disturb me.”
He held his rosary toward her, with the cross at the end tightly clasped in his hand. “My prayers are here, too,” he said. “Oh, Signorina, give me one little prayer, one of your little prayers.”