Giovanni waited in his room until his father was awake and then went to tell him what had happened. The old gentleman looked weary and sad, but his keen sight noticed the change in his son’s manner.
“You look better,” he said.
“I have been undeceived,” answered Giovanni. “I have been mistaken, misled by the most extraordinary set of circumstances I have ever heard of.”
Saracinesca’s eyes suddenly gleamed angrily and his white beard bristled round his face.
“You have made a fool of yourself,” he growled. “You have made your wife ill and yourself miserable in a fit of vulgar jealousy. And now you have been telling her so.”
“Exactly. I have been telling her so.”
“You are an idiot, Giovanni. I always knew it.”
“I have only just found it out,” answered the younger man.
“Then you are amazingly slow at discovery. Why do you stand there staring at me? Do you expect any sympathy? You will not get it. Go and say a litany outside your wife’s door. You have made me spend the most horrible week I ever remember, just because you are not good enough for her. How could you ever dare to suspect that woman? Go away. I shall strangle you if you stay here!”
“That consideration would not have much weight,” replied Giovanni. “I know how mad I have been, much better than you can tell me. And yet, I doubt whether any one was ever so strangely mistaken before.”
“With your intelligence the wonder is that you are not always mistaken. Upon my soul, the more I think of it, the more I am amazed at your folly. You acted like a creature in the theatre. With your long face and your mystery and your stage despair, you even made a fool of me. At all events, I shall know what to expect the next time it happens. I hope Corona will have the sense to make you do penance.”
To tell the truth Giovanni had not expected any better treatment from his father than he actually received, and he was not in a humour to resent reproaches which he knew to be well deserved. He had only intended to tell the prince the result of what had occurred, and he relaxed nothing of his determination, even though he might have persuaded the old gentleman that the accumulated evidence had undoubtedly justified his doubts. With a short salutation he left the room and went out, hoping that Gouache had not accompanied the expedition to Mentana, improbable as that seemed.
He was, of course, disappointed, for while he was making inquiries Gouache was actually on the way to the battle with his corps, as has been already seen. Giovanni spent most of the day in the house, constantly inquiring after Corona, and trying to occupy his mind in reading, though with little success. The idea that Gouache might be killed without having learned the truth began to take possession of him and caused him an annoyance he could not explain. It was not that he felt any very profound remorse for having wronged the man. His nature was not so sensitive as that. It was rather, perhaps, because he regarded the explanation with Anastase as a part of what he owed Corona, that he was so anxious to meet him alive. Partly, too, his anxiety arose from his restlessness and from the desire for action of some sort in which to forget all he had suffered, and all he was still suffering.