Giovanni wondered why a special messenger was to be employed to carry any request he made directly to the cardinal. The direction could not have been given idly, nor was it without some especial reason that he was at once told of it. Assuredly his Eminence was not expecting the prince to repent of his bargain and to send word that he wished to be released. The idea was absurd. The great man might suppose, however, that Giovanni would desire to send some communication to his wife, who would naturally be anxious about his absence. Against this contingency, however, Sant’ Ilario had provided by means of the note he had despatched to her. Several days would elapse before she began to expect him, so that he had plenty of time to reflect upon his future course. Meanwhile he resolved to ask for nothing. Indeed, he had no requirements. He had money in his pockets and could send the attendant to buy any linen he needed without getting it from his home.
He was in a state of mind in which nothing could have pleased him better than solitary imprisonment. He felt at once a sense of rest and a freedom from all responsibility that soothed his nerves and calmed his thoughts. For many days he had lived in a condition bordering on madness. Every interview with Corona was a disappointment, and brought with it a new suffering. Much as he would have dreaded the idea of being separated from her for any length of time, the temporary impossibility of seeing her was now a relief, of which he realised the importance more and more as the hours succeeded each other. There are times when nothing but a forcible break in the current of our lives can restore the mind to its normal balance. Such a break, painful as it may be at first, brings with it the long lost power of rest. Instead of feeling the despair we expect, we are amazed at our own indifference, which again is succeeded by a renewed capacity for judging facts as they are, and by a new energy to mould our lives upon a better plan.
Giovanni neither reflected upon his position nor brooded over the probable result of his actions. On the contrary, he went to bed and slept soundly, like a strong man tired out with bodily exertion. He slept so long that his attendant at last woke him, entering and opening the window. The morning was fine, and the sun streamed in through the iron grating. Giovanni looked about him, and realised where he was. He felt calm and strong, and was inclined to laugh at the idea that his rashness would have any dangerous consequences. Corona doubtless was already awake too, and supposed that he was in the country shooting wild boar, or otherwise amusing himself. Instead of that he was in prison. There was no denying the fact, after all, but it was strange that he should not care to be at liberty. He had heard of the moral sufferings of men who are kept in confinement. No matter how well they are treated they grow nervous and careworn and haggard, wearing themselves out in a perpetual longing for freedom. Giovanni, on the contrary, as he looked round the bright, airy room, felt that he might inhabit it for a year without once caring to go out into the world. A few books to read, the means of writing if he pleased—he needed nothing else. To be alone was happiness enough.