Countess Ammiani closed her eyes over the letter, as in a dead sleep. “He is more his father than himself, and so suddenly!” she said. She was tearless. Violetta helped her to her bed-room under the pretext of a desire to hear the contents of the letter.
That night, which ended the five days of battle in Milan, while fires were raging at many gates, bells were rolling over the roof-tops, the army of Austria coiled along the North-eastern walls of the city, through rain and thick obscurity, and wove its way like a vast worm into the outer land.
EPISODES OF THE REVOLT AND THE WAR
Countess d’Isorella’s peculiar mission to Milan was over with the victory of the city. She undertook personally to deliver Carlo’s injunction to Vittoria on her way to the king. Countess Ammiani deemed it sufficient that her son’s wishes should be repeated verbally; and as there appeared to be no better messenger than one who was bound for Turin and knew Vittoria’s place of residence, she entrusted the duty to Violetta.
The much which hangs on little was then set in motion:
Violetta was crossing the Ticino when she met a Milanese nobleman who had received cold greeting from the king, and was returning to Milan with word that the Piedmontese declaration of war against Austria had been signed. She went back to Milan, saw and heard, and gathered a burden for the royal ears. This was a woman, tender only to the recollection of past days, who used her beauty and her arts as weapons for influence. She liked kings because she saw neither master nor dupe in a republic; she liked her early lover because she could see nothing but a victim in any new one. She was fond of Carlo, as greatly occupied minds may be attached to an old garden where they have aforetime sown fair seed. Jealousy of a rival in love that was disconnected with political business and her large expenditure, had never yet disturbed the lady’s nerves.
At Turin she found Vittoria singing at the opera, and winning marked applause from the royal box. She thought sincerely that to tear a prima donna from her glory would be very much like dismissing a successful General to his home and gabbling family. A most eminent personage agreed with her. Vittoria was carelessly informed that Count Ammiani had gone to Brescia, and having regard for her safety, desired her to go to Milan to be under the protection of his mother, and that Countess Ammiani was willing to receive her.