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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 497 pages of information about Sant' Ilario.

Flavia looked prettier than ever as she put the bit of rolled paper between her red lips and puffed away with an energy altogether unnecessary.  He would not have believed that, being already so brilliant and good to see, a piece of unexpected good news could have lent her expression so much more brightness.  She was positively radiant, as she looked from his eyes at her little cigarette, and then, looking back to him again, laughed and snapped her small gloved fingers.

“Do you know,” she said presently, with a glance that completed the conquest of San Giacinto’s heart, “I thought I should be dreadfully shy with you—­at first—­and I am not in the least!  I confess, at the very moment when you were putting the ring on my finger I was wondering what we should talk about during the drive.”

“You did not think we should have such an agreeable subject of conversation, did you?”

“No—­and it is such a pretty ring!  I always wanted a band of diamonds—­plain gold is so common.  Did you think of it yourself or did some one else suggest the idea?”

“Castellani said it was old-fashioned,” answered San Giacinto, “but I preferred it.”

“Would you have liked one, too?”

“No.  It would be ridiculous for a man.”

“You have very good taste,” remarked Flavia, eyeing him critically.  “Where did you get it?  You used to keep a hotel in Aquila, did you not?”

San Giacinto had long been prepared for the question and did not wince nor show the slightest embarrassment.  He smiled calmly as he answered her.

“You would hardly have called it a hotel, it was a country inn.  I daresay I shall manage Saracinesca all the better for having kept a hostelry.”

“Of course.  Oh, I have such a delightful idea!  Let us go to Aquila and keep the hotel together.  It would be such fun!  You could say you had married a little shop-keeper’s daughter in Rome, you know.  Just for a month, Nino—­do let us do it!  It would be such a change after society, and then we would go back for the Carnival.  Oh, do!”

“But you forget the lawsuit—­”

“That is true.  Besides, it will be just as much of a change to be Princess Saracinesca.  But we can do it another time.  I would like so much to go about in an apron with a red cotton handkerchief on my head and see all the queer people!  When are the lawyers coming?”

“During the week, I suppose.”

“There will be a fight,” said Flavia, her face growing more grave.  “What will Sant’ Ilario and his father say and do?  I cannot believe that it will all go so smoothly as you think.  They do not look like people who would give up easily what they have had so long.  I suppose they will be quite ruined.”

“I do not know.  Corona is rich in her own right, and Sant’ Ilario has his mother’s fortune.  Of course, they will be poor compared with their present wealth.  I am sorry for them—­”

“Sorry?” Flavia looked at her husband in some astonishment.  “It is their own fault.  Why should you be sorry?”

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