What a night! At times he moved about his room like one in frantic pain, finally flinging himself upon the bed and lying there till the impulse of his fevered mind broke the beginnings of sleep. Or he walked the length of the floor, with measured step, fifty times, counting each time he turned—a sort of conscious insanity. Or he took his pocket-knife, and drove the point into the flesh of his arm, satisfied when the pang became intolerable. Then again a loss of all control in mere frenzy, the desire to shout, to yell. . . .
Elgar was out of the house at sunrise. He went down to the Chiaia, loitered this way and that, always in the end facing towards Posillipo. He drank his coffee, but ate nothing; then again walked along the sea-front. Between nine and ten he turned into the upward road, and went with purpose towards Villa Sannazaro.
IN THE DEAD CITY
Through it was Sunday, Cecily resolved to go and spend the afternoon with Miriam. She was restless, and could not take pleasure in Mrs. Lessingham’s conversation. Possibly her arrival at the villa would be anything but welcome; but she must see Miriam.
She drove up by herself, and first of all saw the Spences. From them she learnt that Miriam, as usual on Sunday, was keeping her own room.
“Do you think I may venture, Mrs. Spence?”
“Go and announce yourself, my dear. If you are bidden avaunt, come back and cheer us old people with your brightness.”
So Cecily went with light step along the corridor, and with light fingers tapped at Miriam’s room. The familiar voice bade her enter. Miriam was sitting near the window, on her lap a closed book.
“Of course you may,” was the quiet answer.
Cecily closed the door, came forward, and bent to kiss her friend. Then she glanced at the “St. Cecilia;” then examined herself for a moment in one of the mirrors; then took off her hat, mantle, and gloves.
“I want to stay as long as your patience will suffer me.”
“You avoid saying how long that is likely to be.”
“How can I tell?”
“Oh, you have experience of me. You know how trying you find me in certain moods. To-day I am in a very strange mood indeed; very malicious, very wicked. And it is Sunday.”
Miriam did not seem to resent this. She looked away at the window, but smiled. Could Cecily have been aware how her face had changed when the door opened, she would not have doubted whether she was truly welcome.
“What book is that, Miriam?”
Cecily had been half afraid to ask; to her surprise it proved to be Dante.
“Do you read this on Sunday?”
Miriam deigned no reply. The other, sitting just in front of her, took up the volume and rustled its leaves.
“How far have you got? This pencil mark? ‘Amor ch’a null’ amato amar perdona.’”