“Can you? Can we go back to the old times when we first met? Can you? Can I?”
“If you will—”
“If I will? Is there anything I would not do to gain that?”
“Our lives may become so different from what they now are, as to make it more easy,” said Giovanni. “Do you realise how everything will be changed when we have given up this house? Perhaps it is better that it should be so, after all.”
“Yes—far better. Oh, I am so sorry for you!”
“Who pities, may yet love,” he said in low tones.
Corona did not make any answer, but for many minutes lay watching the dancing flames. Giovanni knew that it would be wiser to say nothing more which could recall the past, and when he spoke again it was to ask her opinion once more concerning the best course to pursue in regard to the property.
“I still think,” answered Corona, “that you had better do nothing for the present. You will soon know what San Giacinto means to do. You may be sure that if he has any rights he will not forget to press them. If it comes to the worst and you are quite sure that he is the man you—that is to say, your father—can give up everything without a suit. It is useless to undertake the consequences of a misfortune which may never occur. It would be reckless to resign your inheritance without a struggle, when San Giacinto, if he is an honest man, would insist upon the case being tried in law.”
“That is true. I will take your advice. I am so much disturbed about other things that I am inclined to go to all extremes at once. Will you dine with us this evening?”
“I think not. Give me one more day. I shall be stronger to-morrow.”
“I have tired you,” exclaimed Giovanni in a tone of self-reproach. Corona did not answer the remark, but held out her hand with a gentle smile.
“Good-night, dear,” she said.
An almost imperceptible expression of pain passed quickly over Giovanni’s face as he touched her fingers with his lips. Then he left the room without speaking again.
In some respects he was glad that he had induced Corona to express herself. He had no illusions left, for he knew the worst and understood that if his wife was ever to love him again there must be a new wooing. It is not necessary to dwell upon what he felt, for in the course of the conversation he had not been able to conceal his feelings. Disappointment had come upon him very suddenly, and might have been followed by terrible consequences, had he not foreseen, as in a dream of the future, a possibility of winning back Corona’s love. The position in which they stood with regard to each other was only possible because they were exceptional people and had both loved so well that they were willing to do anything rather than forego the hope of loving again. Another man would have found it hard to own himself wholly in the wrong; a woman less generous would have either pretended successfully that she still loved, or would not have acknowledged that she suffered so keenly in finding her affection dead. Perhaps, too, if there had been less frankness there might have been less difficulty in reviving the old passion, for love has strange ways of hiding himself, and sometimes shows himself in ways even more unexpected.