Two hours later he was still sitting in his dismal study with the manuscripts before him. He had ascertained what he wanted to know, namely, that the papers really existed and were drawn up in a legal form. He had hoped to find a rambling agreement, made out principally by the parties concerned, and copied with some improvements by the family notary of the time, for he had made up his mind that if any flaw could be discovered in the deed San Giacinto should become Prince Saracinesca, and should have possession of all the immense wealth that belonged to the family. San Giacinto was the heir in the direct line, and although his great-grand-father had relinquished his birthright in the firm expectation of having no children, the existence of his descendants might greatly modify the provisions of the agreement.
Montevarchi’s face fell when he had finished deciphering the principal document. The provisions and conditions were short and concise, and were contained upon one large sheet of parchment, signed, witnessed and bearing the official seal and signature which proved that it had been ratified.
It was set forth therein that Don Leone Saracinesca, being the eldest son of Don Giovanni Saracinesca, deceased, Prince of Saracinesca, of Sant’ Ilario and of Torleone, Duke of Barda, and possessor of many other titles, Grandee of Spain of the first class and Count of the Holy Roman Empire, did of his own free will, by his own motion and will, make over and convey to, and bestow upon, Don Orsino Saracinesca, his younger and only brother, the principalities of Saracinesca—here followed a complete list of the various titles and estates—including the titles, revenues, seigneurial rights, appanages, holdings, powers and sovereignty attached to and belonging to each and every one, to him, the aforesaid Don Orsino Saracinesca and to the heirs of his body in the male line direct for ever.
Here there was a stop, and the manuscript began again at the top of the other side of the sheet. The next clause contained the solitary provision to the effect that Don Leone reserved to himself the estate and title of San Giacinto in the kingdom of Naples, which at his death, he having no children, should revert to the aforesaid Don Orsino Saracinesca and his heirs for ever. It was further stated that the agreement was wholly of a friendly character, and that Don Leone bound himself to take no steps whatever to reinstate himself in the titles and possessions which, of his own free will, he relinquished, the said agreement being, in the opinion of both parties, for the advantage of the whole house of Saracinesca.
“He bound himself, not his descendants,” remarked Montevarchi at last, as he again bent his head over the document and examined the last clause. “And he says ’having no children’—in Latin the words may mean in case he had none, being in the ablative absolute. Having no children, to Orsino and his heirs for ever—but since he had a son, the case is altered. Ay, but that clause in the first part says to Orsino and his heirs for ever, and says nothing about Leone having no children. It is more absolute than the ablative. That is bad.”