Laura started up as the door opened, and Vittoria appeared leaning upon Carlo’s arm. Countess Ammiani, Countess d’Isorella, and Pericles were behind them. Laura’s children followed.
When Merthyr rose, Vittoria was smiling in Carlo’s face at something that had been spoken. She was pale, and her arm was in a sling, but there was no appearance of her being unnerved. Merthyr waited for her recognition of him. She turned her eyes from Carlo slowly. The soft dull smile in them died out as it were with a throb, and then her head drooped on one shoulder, and she sank to the floor.
THE SHADOW ON CONSPIRACY
Merthyr left the house at Laura’s whispered suggestion. He was agitated beyond control, for Vittoria had fallen with her eyes fixed on him; and at times the picture of his beloved, her husband, and Countess Ammiani, and the children bending over her still body, swam before him like a dark altar-piece floating in incense, so lost was he to the reality of that scene. He did not hear Beppo, his old servant, at his heels. After a while he walked calmly, and Beppo came up beside him. Merthyr shook his hand.
“Ah, signor Mertyrio! ah, padrone!” said Beppo.
Merthyr directed his observation to a regiment of Austrians marching down the Corso Venezia to the Ticinese gate.
“Yes, they are ready enough for us,” Beppo remarked. “Perhaps Carlo Alberto will beat them this time. If he does, viva to him! If they beat him, down goes another Venetian pyramid. The Countess Alessandra—” Beppo’s speech failed.