Prince Montevarchi had been found dead by the servant who came to bring a lamp to the study, towards evening, when it grew dark. As soon as the alarm was given a scene of indescribable confusion followed, which lasted until the prefect of police arrived, accompanied by a party of police officials. The handkerchief was examined and identified. Thereupon, in accordance with the Roman practice of that day, the prefect had announced his determination of taking Faustina into custody. The law took it for granted that the first piece of circumstantial evidence which presented itself must be acted upon with the utmost promptitude. A few questions had shown immediately that Faustina was the last person who had seen Montevarchi alive. The young girl exhibited a calmness which surprised every one. She admitted that her father had been angry with her and had struck her, but she denied all knowledge of his death. It is sufficient to say that she fearlessly told the truth, so fearlessly as to prejudice even her own family with regard to her. Even the blood on the handkerchief was against her, though she explained that it was her own, and although the bruise on her lip bore out the statement. The prefect was inexorable. He explained that Faustina could be taken privately to the Termini, and that the family might use its influence on the next day to procure her immediate release, but that his duty compelled him for the present to secure her person, that he was responsible, that he was only doing his duty, and so forth and so on.
The consternation of the family may be imagined. The princess broke down completely under what seemed very like a stroke of paralysis. San Giacinto and Flavia were not to be found at their house, and as the carriage had not returned, nobody knew where they were. The wives of Faustina’s brothers shut themselves up in their rooms and gave way to hysterical tears, while the brothers themselves seemed helpless to do anything for their sister.
Seeing herself abandoned by every one Faustina had sent for Corona Saracinesca. It was the wisest thing she could have done. In a quarter of an hour Corona and her husband entered the room together. The violent scene which followed has been already described, in which Giovanni promised the prefect of police that if he persisted in his intention of arresting Faustina he should himself be lodged in the Carceri Nuove in twelve hours. But the prefect had got the better of the situation, being accompanied by an armed force which Giovanni was powerless to oppose. All that could be obtained had been that Giovanni and Corona should take Faustina to the Termini in their carriage, and that Corona should stay with the unfortunate young girl all night if she wished to do so. Giovanni could not be admitted.