Giovanni stared wildly at the thing for several seconds and his face grew deadly white. There was no evidence lacking now, for the pin was Corona’s own. It was a simple enough object, made of plain gold, the head being twisted into the shape of the letter C, but there was no mistaking its identity, for Giovanni had designed it himself. Corona used it for fastening her veil.
As the blood sank from his head to his heart Giovanni grew very calm. He set the candle upon the toilet-table and took the note, after putting the pin in his pocket. The handwriting seemed to be feigned, and his lip curled scornfully as he looked at it and then, turning it over, saw that the envelope was one of Corona’s own. It seemed to him a pitiable piece of folly in her to distort her writing when there was such abundant proof on all sides to convict her. Without the slightest hesitation he opened the letter and read it, bending down and holding it near the candle. One perusal was enough. He smiled curiously as he read the words, “I am so watched that I can do nothing. Some one suspects something.” His attention was arrested by the statement that a trusty person— the words were underlined—would bring the note. The meaning of the emphasis was explained by the pin; the trusty person was herself, who, perhaps by an afterthought, had left the bit of gold as a parting gift in case Gouache marched before they met again.
Giovanni glanced once more round the room, half expecting to find some other convicting piece of evidence. Then he hesitated, holding the candle in one hand and the note in the other. He thought of staying where he was and waiting for Gouache, but the idea did not seem feasible. Nothing which implied waiting could have satisfied him at that moment, and after a few seconds he thrust the note into his pocket and went out. His hand was on the outer door, when he remembered the old woman who sat crouching over her pan of coals, scarcely able to believe her good luck, and longing for Giovanni’s departure in order that she might count the crisp notes again. She dared not indulge herself in that pleasure while he was present, lest he should repent of his generosity and take back a part of them, for she had seen how he had taken them from his pocket and saw that he had no idea how much he had given.
“You will say nothing of my coming,” said Giovanni, fixing his eyes upon her.
“I, Signore? Do not be afraid! Money is better than words.”
“Very good,” he answered. “Perhaps you will get twice as much the next time I want to know the truth.”
“God bless you!” chuckled the wrinkled creature. He went out, and the little bell that was fastened to the door tinkled as the latch sprang back into its place. Then the woman counted the price of blood, which had so unexpectedly fallen into her hands. The bank-notes were many and broad, and crisp and new, for Giovanni had not reckoned the cost. It was long since old Caterina Ranucci had seen so much money, and she had certainly never had so much of her own.