Sant' Ilario eBook

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

He had murdered his master.  The first moment in which he realised the fact was the most horrible he remembered to have passed.  He had killed the prince and could recall nothing, or next to nothing, that had occurred since the deed.  Almost before he knew what he was doing he had locked his door with a double turn of the key and was pushing the furniture against it, the table, the chairs, everything that he could move.  It seemed to him that he could already hear upon the winding stair the clank of the gens d’armes’ sabres as they came to get him.  He looked wildly round the room to see whether there was anything that could lead to discovery.  The unwonted exertion, however, had restored the circulation of his blood, and with it arose an indistinct memory of the sense of triumph he had felt when he had last entered the chamber.  He asked himself how he could have rejoiced over the deed, unless he had unconsciously taken steps for his own safety.  The body must have been found long ago.

Very gradually there rose before him the vision of the scene in the study, when he had been summoned thither by the two servants, the dead prince stretched on the table, the pale faces, the prefect, Donna Faustina’s voice, a series of questions asked in a metallic, pitiless tone.  He had not been drunk, therefore, when they had sent for him.  And yet, he knew that he had not been sober.  In what state, then, had he found himself?  With a shudder, he remembered his terror in the library, his fright at the ghost which had turned out to be only his own coat, his visit to his room, and the first draught he had swallowed.  From that point onwards his memory grew less and less clear.  He found that he could not remember at all how he had come upstairs the last time.

One thing was evident, however.  He had not been arrested, since he found himself in his chamber unmolested.  Who, then, had been taken in his place?  He was amazed to find that he did not know.  Surely, at the first inquest, something must have been said which would have led to the arrest of some one.  The law never went away empty-handed.  He racked his aching brain to bring back the incident, but it would not be recalled—­for the excellent reason that he really knew nothing about the matter.  It was a relief at all events to find that he had actually been examined with the rest and had not been suspected.  Nevertheless, he had undoubtedly done the deed, of which the mere thought made him tremble in every joint.  Or was it all a part of his drunken dreams?  No, that, at least, could not be explained away.  For a long time he moved uneasily from his barricade at the door to the window, from which he tried to see the street below.  But his room was in the attic, and the broad stone cornice of the palace cut off the view effectually.  At last he began to pull the furniture away from the entrance, slowly at first, as he merely thought of its uselessness, then with feverish haste, as he realised that the

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Sant' Ilario from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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