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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 497 pages of information about Sant' Ilario.
him from his room to some deep vault beneath the palace.  What could he do against such a giant?  He fancied himself before a secret tribunal in the midst of which towered San Giacinto’s colossal figure.  He could hear the deep voice he dreaded pronouncing his doom.  He was to be torn to shreds piecemeal, burnt by a slow fire, flayed alive by those enormous hands.  There was no conceivable horror of torture that did not suggest itself to him at such times.  It is true that when he went to bed at night he was generally either so stupefied by opium or so intoxicated with strong drink that he forgot even to lock his door.  But during the day he was seldom so far under the power of either as not to suffer from his own hideous imaginings.  One day, as he dragged his slow pace along a narrow street near the fountain of Trevi, his eyes were arrested by an armourer’s window.  It suddenly struck him that he had no weapon of defence in case San Giacinto or his agents came upon him unawares.  And yet a bullet well placed would make an end even of such a Hercules as the man he feared.  He paused and looked anxiously up and down the street.  It was a dark day and a fine rain was falling.  There was nobody about who could recognise him, and he might not have another such opportunity of providing himself unobserved with what he wanted.  He entered the shop and bought himself a revolver.  The man showed him how to load it and sold him a box of cartridges.  He dropped the firearm into one of the pockets of his coat, and smiled as he felt how comfortably it balanced the bottle he carried in the other.  Then he slunk out of the shop and pursued his walk.

The idea of making capital out of the original deeds concerning the Saracinesca, which had presented itself to him soon after the murder, recurred frequently to his mind; but he felt that he was in no condition to elaborate it, and promised himself to attend to the matter when he was better.  For he fancied that he was ill and that his state would soon begin to improve.  To go to San Giacinto now was out of the question.  It would have been easier for him to climb the cross on the summit of St. Peter’s, with his shaken nerves and trembling limbs, than to face the man who inspired in him such untold dread.  He could, of course, take the alternative which was open to him, and go to old Saracinesca.  Indeed, there were moments when he could almost have screwed his courage to the point of making such an attempt, but his natural prudence made him draw back from an interview in which he must incur a desperate risk unless he had a perfect command of his faculties.  To write what he had to say would be merely to give a weapon against himself, since he could not treat the matter by letter without acknowledging his share in the forgeries.  The only way to accomplish his purpose would be to extract a solemn promise of secrecy from Saracinesca, together with a guarantee for his own safety, and to obtain these conditions

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