In spite of his haste to settle all that remained to be settled with regard to the restitution of the property to San Giacinto, Saracinesca found it impossible to wind up the affair in a week as he had intended. It was a very complicated matter to separate from his present fortune that part of it which his cousin would have inherited from his great-grandfather. A great deal of wealth had come into the family since that time by successive marriages, and the management of the original estate had not been kept separate from the administration of the dowries which had from time to time been absorbed into it. The Saracinesca, however, were orderly people, and the books had been kept for generations with that astonishing precision of detail which is found in the great Roman houses, and which surpasses, perhaps, anything analogous which is to be found in modern business. By dint of perseverance and by employing a great number of persons in making the calculations, the notaries had succeeded in preparing a tolerably satisfactory schedule in the course of a fortnight, which both the principal parties agreed to accept as final. The day fixed for the meeting and liquidation of the accounts was a Saturday, a fortnight and two days after the murder of Prince Montevarchi. A question arose concerning the place of meeting.
Saracinesca proposed that San Giacinto and the notaries should come to the Palazzo Saracinesca. He was ready to brave out the situation to the end, to face his fate until it held nothing more in store for him, even to handing over the inventory of all that was no longer his in the house where he had been born. His boundless courage and almost brutal frankness would doubtless have supported him to the last, even through such a trial to his feelings, but San Giacinto refused to agree to the proposal. He repeatedly stated that he wished the old prince to inhabit the palace through his lifetime, and that he should even make every effort to induce him to retain the title. Both of these offers were rejected courteously, but firmly. In the matter of holding the decisive meeting in the palace, however, San Giacinto made a determined stand. He would not on any account appear in the light of the conqueror coming to take possession of the spoil. His wife had no share in this generous sentiment. She would have liked to enjoy her triumph to the full, for she was exceedingly ambitious, and was, moreover, not very fond of the Saracinesca. As she expressed it, she felt when she was with any of them, from the old prince to Corona, that they must be thinking all the time that she was a very foolish young person. San Giacinto’s action was therefore spontaneous, and if it needs explanation it may be ascribed to an inherited magnanimity, to a certain dignity which had distinguished him even as a young man from the low class in which he had grown up. He was, indeed, by no means a type of