In the middle of the table sat the two notaries, flanked by four clerks, all of them pale men in black, clean shaved, of various ages, but bearing on their faces the almost unmistakable stamp of their profession. The one who was reading the deeds wore spectacles. From time to time he pushed them back upon his bald forehead and glanced first at San Giacinto and then at Prince Saracinesca, after which he carefully resettled the glasses upon his long nose and proceeded with his task until he had reached the end of another set of clauses, when he repeated the former operation with mechanical regularity, never failing to give San Giacinto the precedence of the first look.
For a long time this went on, with a monotony which almost drove Giovanni from the room. Indeed nothing but absolute necessity could have kept him in his place. At last the final deed was reached. It was an act of restitution drawn up in a simple form so as to include, by a few words, all the preceding documents. It set forth that Leone Saracinesca being “free in body and mind,” the son of Giovanni Saracinesca deceased, “whom may the Lord preserve in a state of glory,” restored, gave back, yielded, and abandoned all those goods, titles, and benefices which he had inherited directly from Leone Saracinesca, the eleventh of that name, deceased, “whom may the Lord preserve in a state of glory,” to Giovanni Saracinesca, Marchese di San Giacinto, who was “free in body and mind,” son of Orsino Saracinesca, ninth of that name, deceased, “whom may the Lord, etc.” Not one of the quaint stock phrases was omitted. The notary paused, looked round, adjusted his spectacles and continued. The deed further set forth that Giovanni Saracinesca, Marchese di San Giacinto aforesaid, acknowledged the receipt of the aforesaid goods, titles, and benefices, and stated that he received all as the complete inheritance, relinquishing all further claims against the aforesaid Leone and his heirs for ever. Once more the reader paused, and then read the last words in a clear voice—