“Buona notte, signor.”
And we severally retired to rest, he satisfied that I had been in my own room all the evening, and I, thinking with a savage joy at my heart of what I had prepared out there in the darkness, with no witnesses of my work save the whirling wind and rain.
My marriage morning dawned bright and clear, though the high wind of the past night still prevailed and sent the white clouds scudding rapidly, like ships running a race, across the blue fairness of the sky. The air was strong, fresh, and exhilarating, and the crowds that swarmed into the Piazza del Popolo, and the Toledo, eager to begin the riot and fun of Giovedi Grasso, were one and all in the highest good humor. As the hours advanced, many little knots of people hurried toward the cathedral, anxious, if possible, to secure places in or near the Chapel of San Gennaro, in order to see to advantage the brilliant costumes of the few distinguished persons who had been invited to witness my wedding. The ceremony was fixed to take place at eleven, and at a little before half past ten I entered my carriage, in company with the Duke di Marina as best man, and drove to the scene of action. Clad in garments of admirable cut and fit, with well-brushed hair and beard, and wearing a demeanor of skillfully mingled gravity and gayety, I bore but little resemblance to the haggard, ferocious creature who had faced me in the mirror a few hours previously.
A strange and secret mirth too possessed me, a sort of half-frenzied merriment that threatened every now and then to break through the mask of dignified composure it was necessary for me to wear. There were moments when I could have laughed, shrieked, and sung with the fury of a drunken madman. As it was, I talked incessantly; my conversation was flavored with bitter wit and pungent sarcasm, and once or twice my friend the duke surveyed me with an air of wondering inquiry, as though he thought my manner forced or unnatural. My coachman was compelled to drive rather slowly, owing to the pressing throngs that swarmed at every corner and through every thoroughfare, while the yells of the masqueraders, the gambols of street clowns, the firing of toy guns, and the sharp explosion of colored bladders, that were swung to and fro and tossed in the air by the merry populace, startled my spirited horses frequently, and caused them to leap and prance to a somewhat dangerous extent, thus attracting more than the customary attention to my equipage. As it drew up at last at the door of the chapel, I was surprised to see what a number of spectators had collected there. There was a positive crowd of loungers, beggars, children, and middle-class persons of all sorts, who beheld my arrival with the utmost interest and excitement.