Sant' Ilario eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 497 pages of information about Sant' Ilario.
He was in great haste to settle the preliminaries, and that was all.  If he should die, he thought, the princess would have her own way in everything, and would doubtless let Faustina throw herself away upon some such man as Gouache.  The thought roused him from his reverie, and at the same time brought a sour smile to his face.  Gouache, of all people!  He looked up and saw that Faustina had entered and was standing before him, as though expecting him to speak.  Her delicate, angelic features were pale, and she held her small hands folded before her.  She had discovered by some means that Gouache had been with her father and she feared that something unpleasant had happened and that she was about to be called to account.  The vision of Frangipani, too, was present in her mind, and she anticipated a stormy interview.  But her mind was made up; she would have Anastase or she would have nobody.  The two exchanged a preliminary glance before either spoke.

CHAPTER XX.

Montevarchi made his daughter sit beside him and took her hand affectionately in his, assuming at the same time the expression of sanctimonious superiority he always wore when he mentioned the cares of his household or was engaged in regulating any matter of importance in his family.  Flavia used to imitate the look admirably, to the delight of her brothers and sisters.  He smiled meaningly, pressed the girl’s fingers, and smiled again, attempting in vain to elicit some response.  But Faustina remained cold and indifferent, for she was used to her father’s ways and did not like them.

“You know what I am going to say, I am sure,” he began.  “It concerns what must be very near your heart, my dear child.”

“I do not know what it can be,” answered Faustina, gravely.  She was too well brought up to show any of the dislike she felt for her father’s way of doing things, but she was willing to make it as hard as possible for him to express himself.

“Cannot you guess what it is?” asked the old man, with a ludicrous attempt at banter.  “What is it that is nearest to every girl’s heart?  Is not that little heart of yours already a resort of the juvenile deity?”

“I do not understand you, papa.”

“Well, well, my dear—­I see that your education has not included a course of mythology.  It is quite as well, perhaps, as those heathens are poor company for the young.  I refer to marriage, Faustina, to that all-important step which you are soon to take.”

“Have you quite decided to marry me to Frangipani?” asked the young girl with a calmness that somewhat disconcerted her father.

“How boldly you speak of it!” he exclaimed with a sigh of disapproval.  “I will not, however, conceal from you that I hope—­”

“Pray talk plainly with me, papa!” cried Faustina suddenly looking up.  “I cannot bear this suspense.”

“Ah!  Is it so, little one?” Montevarchi shook his finger playfully at her.  “I thought I should find you ready!  So you are anxious to become a princess at once?  Well, well, all women are alike!”

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Sant' Ilario from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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