As he sat talking with the family after dinner on the evening of his first introduction to the household what passed in his mind and in the minds of his hosts can be easily stated.
Sant’ Ilario, whose ideas were more clear upon most subjects than those of his father or his wife, said to himself that he did not like the man; that he suspected him, and believed he had some hidden intention in coming to Rome; that it would be wise to watch him perpetually and to question everything he did; but that he was undeniably a relation, possessing every right to consideration, and entitled to be treated with a certain familiarity; that, finally and on the whole, he was a nuisance, to be borne with a good grace and a sufficient show of cordiality.
San Giacinto, for his part, was deeply engaged in maintaining the exact standard of manners which he knew to be necessary for the occasion, and his thoughts concerning his relatives were not yet altogether defined. It was his intention to take his place among them, and he was doing his best to accomplish this object as speedily and quietly as possible. He had not supposed that princes and princesses were in any way different from other human beings except by the accidents of wealth and social position. Master of these two requisites there was no reason why he should not feel as much at home with the Saracinesca as he had felt in the society of the mayor and municipal council of Aquila, who possessed those qualifications also, though in a less degree. The Saracinesca probably thought about most questions very much as he himself did, or if there were any difference in their mode of thinking it was due to Roman prejudice and tradition rather than to any peculiarity inherent in the organisation of the members of the higher aristocracy. If he should find himself in any dilemma owing to his ignorance of social details he would not hesitate to apply to the prince for information, since it was by no means his fault if he had been brought up an innkeeper and was now to be a nobleman. His immediate object was to place himself among his equals, and his next purpose was to marry again, in his new rank, a woman of good position and fortune. Of this matter he intended to speak to the prince in due time, when he should have secured the first requisite to his marriage by establishing himself firmly in society. He meant to apply to the prince, ostensibly as to the head of the family, thereby showing a deference to that dignity, which he supposed would be pleasing to the old gentleman; but he had not forgotten in his calculations the pride which old Saracinesca must naturally feel in his race, and which would probably induce him to take very great pains in finding a suitable wife for San Giacinto rather than permit the latter to contract a discreditable alliance.
San Giacinto left the house at half-past nine o’clock, under the pretext of another engagement, for he did not mean to weary his relations with too much of his company in the first instance. When he was gone the three looked at each other in silence for some moments.