Sant' Ilario eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 497 pages of information about Sant' Ilario.
such trash, accumulated during many months and totally unheeded.  Had he seen the pin anywhere else he would have recognised it, but he did not notice its absence.  The old woman, Caterina Ranucci, hugged her money and said nothing about either of the visitors who had entered the room during the afternoon.  The consequence was that Gouache rose early on the following morning and went towards the church with a light heart.  He did not know certainly that Faustina would come there, and indeed there were many probabilities against her doing so, but in the hopefulness of a man thoroughly in love, Gouache looked forward to seeing her with as much assurance as though the matter had been arranged and settled between them.

The parish church of Sant’ Agostino is a very large building.  The masses succeed each other in rapid succession from seven o’clock in the morning until midday, and a great crowd of parishioners pass in and out in an almost constant stream.  It was therefore Gouache’s intention to arrive so early as to be sure that Faustina had not yet come, and he trusted to luck to be there at the right time, for he was obliged to visit the temporary barrack of his corps before going to the church, and was also obliged to attend mass at a later hour with his battalion.  On presenting himself at quarters he learned to his surprise that Monte Rotondo had not surrendered yet, though news of the catastrophe was expected every moment.  The Zouaves were ordered to remain under arms all day in case of emergency, and it was only through the friendly assistance of one of his officers that Anastase obtained leave to absent himself for a couple of hours.  He hailed a cab and drove to the church as fast as he could.

In less than twenty minutes after he had stationed himself at the entrance, Faustina ascended the steps accompanied by a servant.  The latter was a middle-aged woman with hard features, clad in black, and wearing a handkerchief thrown loosely over her head after the manner of maids in those days.  She evidently expected nothing, for she looked straight before her, peering into the church in order to see beforehand at which chapel there was likely to be a mass immediately.  Faustina was a lovely figure in the midst of the crowd of common people who thronged the doorway, and whose coarse dark faces threw her ethereal features into strong relief while she advanced.  Gouache felt his heart beat hard, for he had not seen her for five days since they had parted on that memorable Tuesday night at the gate of her father’s house.  Her eyes met his in a long and loving look, and the colour rose faintly in her delicate pale cheek.  In the press she managed to pass close to him, and for a moment he succeeded in clasping her small hand in his, her maid being on the other side.  He was about to ask a question when she whispered a few words and passed on.

“Follow me through the crowd, I will manage it,” was what she said.

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Sant' Ilario from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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