Sant' Ilario eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 497 pages of information about Sant' Ilario.
had presented itself in the way of his departure which he had not expected, and which irritated him beyond measure.  Corona was ill.  He did not know whether her ailment were serious or not, but it was evident that he could not force her to leave her bed and accompany him to the country, so long as the doctor declared that she could not be moved.  When Spicca was gone, he did not know what to do with himself.  He would not go and see his wife, for any meeting must be most unpleasant.  He had nerved himself to conduct her to the mountains, and had expected that the long drive would be passed in a disagreeable silence.  So long as Corona was well and strong, he could have succeeded well enough in treating her as he believed that she deserved.  Now that she was ill, he felt how impossible it would be for him to take good care of her without seeming to relent, even if he did not relent in earnest; and on the other hand his really noble nature would have prevented him from being harsh in his manner to her while she was suffering.

Until he had been convinced that a duel with Gouache was for the present impossible, his anger had supported him, and had made the time pass quickly throughout the sleepless night and through the events of the morning.  Now that he was alone, with nothing to do but to meditate upon the situation, his savage humour forsook him and the magnitude of his misfortune oppressed him and nearly drove him mad.  He went over the whole train of evidence again and again, and as often as he reviewed what had occurred, his conviction grew deeper and stronger, and he acknowledged that he had been deceived as man was never deceived before.  He realised the boundless faith he had given to this woman who had betrayed him; he recollected the many proofs she had given him of her love; he drew upon the store of his past happiness and tortured himself with visions of what could never be again; he called up in fancy Corona’s face when he had led her to the altar and the very look in her eyes was again upon him; he remembered that day more than two years ago when, upon the highest tower of Saracinesca, he had asked her to be his wife, and he knew not whether he desired to burn the memory of that first embrace from his heart, or to dwell upon the sweet recollection of that moment and suffer the wound of to-day to rankle more hotly by the horror of the comparison.  When he thought of what she had been, it seemed impossible that she could have fallen; when he saw what she had become he could not believe that she had ever been innocent.  A baser man than Giovanni would have suffered more in his personal vanity, seeing that his idol had been degraded for a mere soldier of fortune—­or for a clever artist—­whichever Gouache called himself, and such a husband would have forgiven her more easily had she forsaken him for one of his own standing and rank.  But Giovanni was far above and beyond the thought of comparing his enemy with himself.  He was wounded in what he had held most sacred, which was his heart, and in what had grown to be the mainspring of his existence, his trust in the woman he loved.  Those who readily believe are little troubled if one of their many little faiths be shaken; but men who believe in a few things, with the whole strength of their being, are hurt mortally when that on which they build their loyalty is shattered and overturned.

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Sant' Ilario from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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