Sant' Ilario eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 497 pages of information about Sant' Ilario.
that any proclamations would interfere with his march unless backed by some more tangible force.  Even had he known that the guerilla general had been arrested at Sinalunga and put in confinement as soon as the proclamation had appeared, the prince would have foreseen clearly enough that the prisoner’s escape would be only a question of a few days, since there were manifold evidences that an understanding existed between Ratazzi and Garibaldi of much the same nature as that which in 1860 had been maintained between Garibaldi and Cavour during the advance upon Naples.  The Italian Government kept men under arms to be ready to take advantage of any successes obtained by the Garibaldian volunteers, and at the same time to suppress the republican tendencies of the latter, which broke out afresh with every new advance, and disappeared, as by magic, under the depressing influence of a forced retreat.

The prince knew all these things, and had reflected upon them so often that they no longer afforded enough interest to keep him awake.  The warm September sun streamed into the study and fell upon the paper as it slowly slipped over the old gentleman’s knees, while his head sank lower and lower on his breast.  The old enamelled clock upon the chimney-piece ticked more loudly, as clocks seem to do when people are asleep and they are left to their own devices, and a few belated flies chased each other in the sunbeams.

The silence was broken by the entrance of a servant, who would have withdrawn again when he saw that his master was napping, had not the latter stirred and raised his head before the man had time to get away.  Then the fellow came forward with an apology and presented a visiting-card.  The prince stared at the bit of pasteboard, rubbed his eyes, stared again, and then laid it upon the table beside him, his eyes still resting on the name, which seemed so much to surprise him.  Then he told the footman to introduce the visitor, and a few moments later a very tall man entered the room, hat in hand, and advanced slowly towards him with the air of a person who has a perfect right to present himself but wishes to give his host time to recognise him.

The prince remembered the newcomer very well.  The closely-buttoned frock-coat showed the man’s imposing figure to greater advantage than the dress in which Saracinesca had last seen him, but there was no mistaking the personality.  There was the same lean but massive face, broadened by the high cheekbones and the prominent square jaw; there were the same piercing black eyes, set near together under eyebrows that met in the midst of the forehead, the same thin and cruel lips, and the same strongly-marked nose, set broadly on at the nostrils, though pointed and keen.  Had the prince had any doubts as to his visitor’s identity they would have been dispelled by the man’s great height and immense breadth of shoulder, which would have made it hard indeed for him to disguise himself had he wished to do so.  But though very much surprised, Saracinesca had no doubts whatever.  The only points that were new to him in the figure before him were the outward manner and appearance, and the dress of a gentleman.

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Sant' Ilario from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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