And was Zanoni indeed about to quit Naples? Should she see him no more? Oh, fool, to think that there was grief in any other thought! The past!—that was gone! The future!—there was no future to her, Zanoni absent! But this was the night of the third day on which Zanoni had told her that, come what might, he would visit her again. It was, then, if she might believe him, some appointed crisis in her fate; and how should she tell him of Glyndon’s hateful words? The pure and the proud mind can never confide its wrongs to another, only its triumphs and its happiness. But at that late hour would Zanoni visit her,—could she receive him? Midnight was at hand. Still in undefined suspense, in intense anxiety, she lingered in the room. The quarter before midnight sounded, dull and distant. All was still, and she was about to pass to her sleeping-room, when she heard the hoofs of a horse at full speed; the sound ceased, there was a knock at the door. Her heart beat violently; but fear gave way to another sentiment when she heard a voice, too well known, calling on her name. She paused, and then, with the fearlessness of innocence, descended and unbarred the door.
Zanoni entered with a light and hasty step. His horseman’s cloak fitted tightly to his noble form, and his broad hat threw a gloomy shade over his commanding features.
The girl followed him into the room she had just left, trembling and blushing deeply, and stood before him with the lamp she held shining upward on her cheek and the long hair that fell like a shower of light over the half-clad shoulders and heaving bust.
“Viola,” said Zanoni, in a voice that spoke deep emotion, “I am by thy side once more to save thee. Not a moment is to be lost. Thou must fly with me, or remain the victim of the Prince di —. I would have made the charge I now undertake another’s; thou knowest I would,—thou knowest it!—but he is not worthy of thee, the cold Englishman! I throw myself at thy feet; have trust in me, and fly.”
He grasped her hand passionately as he dropped on his knee, and looked up into her face with his bright, beseeching eyes.
“Fly with thee!” said Viola, scarce believing her senses.
“With me. Name, fame, honour,—all will be sacrificed if thou dost not.”
“Then—then,” said the wild girl, falteringly, and turning aside her face,—“then I am not indifferent to thee; thou wouldst not give me to another?”
Zanoni was silent; but his breast heaved, his cheeks flushed, his eyes darted dark and impassioned fire.
“Speak!” exclaimed Viola, in jealous suspicion of his silence.
“Indifferent to me! No; but I dare not yet say that I love thee.”
“Then what matters my fate?” said Viola, turning pale, and shrinking from his side; “leave me,—I fear no danger. My life, and therefore my honour, is in mine own hands.”
“Be not so mad,” said Zanoni. “Hark! do you hear the neigh of my steed?—it is an alarm that warns us of the approaching peril. Haste, or you are lost!”