Sant’ Ilario could not realise that the course of events had been brought to a standstill at the very moment when his passions were roused to fury. He could not fight Gouache for the present and Corona was so ill that he could not see her. Had he wished to visit her, the old-fashioned physician would probably have forbidden him to do so, but in reality he was glad to be spared the emotions of a meeting which must necessarily be inconclusive. His first impulse had been to take her away from Rome and force her to live alone with him in the mountains. He felt that no other course was open to him, for he knew that in spite of all that had happened he could not bear to live without her, and yet he felt that he could no longer suffer her to come and go in the midst of society, where she must necessarily often meet the man she had chosen to love. Nor could he keep her in Rome and at the same time isolate her as he desired to do. If the world must talk, he would rather not be where he could hear what it said. The idea of a sudden journey, terminating in the gloomy fortress of Saracinesca, was pleasant to his humour. The old place was ten times more grim and dismal in winter than in summer, and in his savage mood he fancied himself alone with his wife in the silent halls, making her feel the enormity of what she had done, while jealously keeping her a prisoner at his mercy.
But her illness had put a stop to his plans for her safety, while the revolution had effectually interfered with the execution of his vengeance upon Gouache. He could find no occupation which might distract his mind from the thoughts that beset him, and no outlet for the restless temper that craved some sort of action, no matter what, as the expression of what he suffered. He and his father met in silence at their meals, and though Giovanni felt that he had the old man’s full sympathy, he could not bring himself to speak of what was nearest to his heart. He remembered that his marriage had been of his own seeking, and his pride kept him from all mention of the catastrophe by which his happiness had been destroyed. Old Saracinesca suffered in his own way almost as much as his son, and it was fortunate that he was prevented from seeing Corona at that time, for it is not probable that he would have controlled himself had he been able to talk with her alone. When little Orsino was brought in to them, the two men looked at each other, and while the younger bit his lip and suppressed all outward signs of his agony, the tears more than once stole into the old prince’s eyes so that he would turn away and leave the room. Then Giovanni would take the child upon his knee and look at it earnestly until the little thing was frightened and held out its arms to its nurse, crying to be taken away. Thereupon Sant’ Ilario’s mood grew more bitter than before, for he was foolish enough to believe that the child had a natural antipathy for him, and would grow up to hate the sight of its father. Those were miserable days, never to be forgotten, and each morning and evening brought worse news of Corona’s state, until it was clear, even to Giovanni, that she was dangerously ill. The sound of voices grew rare in the Palazzo Saracinesca and the servants moved noiselessly about at their work, oppressed by the sense of coming disaster, and scarcely speaking to each other.