Giovanni was a just man, and was rarely carried away by appearances; least of all could he have shown any such weakness when the yielding to it involved the destruction of all that he cared for in life. But the evidence was overwhelming, and no man could be blamed for accepting it. There was no link wanting in the chain, and the denials made by Corona and Anastase could not have influenced any man in his senses. What could a woman do but deny all? What was there for Gouache but to swear that the accusation was untrue? Would not any other man or woman have done as much? There was no denying it. The only person who remained unquestioned was Faustina Montevarchi. Either she was the innocent girl she appeared to be or not. If she were, how could Giovanni explain to her that she had been duped, and made an instrument in the hands of Gouache and Corona? She would not know what he meant. Even if she admitted that she loved Gouache, was it not clear that he had deceived her too, for the sake of making an accomplice of one who was constantly with Corona? Her love for the soldier could not explain the things that had passed between Anastase and Giovanni’s wife, which Giovanni had seen with his own eyes. It could not account for the whisperings, the furtive meeting and tender words of which he had been a witness in his own house. It could not do away with the letter and the pin. But if Faustina were not innocent of assisting the two, she would deny everything, even as they had done.
As he thought of all these matters and followed the cruelly logical train of reasoning forced upon him by the facts, a great darkness descended upon Giovanni’s heart, and he knew that his happiness was gone from him for ever. Henceforth nothing remained but to watch his wife jealously, and suffer his ills with the best heart he could. The very fact that he loved her still, with a passion that defied all things, added a terrible bitterness to what he had to bear, for it made him despise himself as none would have dared to despise him.
As Giovanni sat in solitude in his room he was not aware that his father had received a visit from no less a personage than Prince Montevarchi. The latter found Saracinesca very much preoccupied, and in no mood for conversation, and consequently did not stay very long. When he went away, however, he carried under his arm a bundle of deeds and documents which he had long desired to see and in the perusal of which he promised himself to spend a very interesting day. He had come with the avowed object of getting them, and he neither anticipated nor met with any difficulty in obtaining what he wanted. He spoke of his daughter’s approaching marriage with San Giacinto, and after expressing his satisfaction at the alliance with the Saracinesca, remarked that his son-in-law had told him the story of the ancient deed, and begged permission to see it for himself. The request was natural, and Saracinesca was not suspicious at any time; at present, he was too much occupied with his own most unpleasant reflections to attach any importance to the incident. Montevarchi thought there was something wrong with his friend, but inasmuch as he had received the papers, he asked no questions and presently departed with them, hastening homewards in order to lose no time in satisfying his curiosity.