This, however, was no easy matter. It was a provoking fact that his duties kept him busily occupied in the afternoon and evening, and that the hours he could command fell almost always in the morning. To visit the Palazzo Montevarchi on any pretext whatever before one o’clock in the day was out of the question. He had not even the satisfaction of seeing Faustina drive past him in the Corso when she was out with her mother and Flavia, since they drove just at the time when he was occupied. Gouache told himself again and again that the display of ingenuity was in a measure the natural duty of a man in love, but the declaration did not help him very much. He was utterly at a loss for an expedient, and suffered keenly in being deprived of the possibility of seeing Faustina after having seen her so often and so intimately. A week earlier he could have borne it better, but now the separation was intolerable. In time of peace he would have disobeyed orders and thrown up his service for the day, no matter what the consequences turned out to be for himself; but at the present moment, when every man was expected to be at his post, such conduct seemed dishonourable and cowardly. He submitted in silence, growing daily more careworn, and losing much of the inexhaustible gaiety which made him a general favourite with his comrades.
There was but one chance of seeing Faustina, and even that one offered little probability of an interview. He knew that on Sunday mornings she sometimes went to church at an early hour with no one but her maid for a companion. Her mother and Flavia preferred to rise later and attended another mass. Now it chanced that in the year 1867, the 22d of October, the date of the insurrection, fell on Tuesday. Five days, therefore, must elapse before he could see Faustina on a Sunday, and if he failed to see her then he would have to wait another week.
Unfortunately, Faustina’s early expeditions to church were by no means certain or regular, and it would be necessary to convey a message to her before the day arrived. This was no easy matter. To send anything through the post was out of the question, and Gouache knew how hard it would be to find the means of putting a note into her hands through a servant. Hour after hour he cudgelled his brains for an expedient without success, until the idea pursued him and made him nervous. The time approached rapidly and he had as yet accomplished nothing. The wildest schemes suggested themselves to him and were rejected as soon as he thought of them. He met some of his acquaintances during the idle hours of the morning, and it almost drove him mad to think that almost any one of them could see Faustina any day he pleased. He did what he could to obtain leave in the afternoon or evening, but his exertions were fruitless. He was a man who was trusted, and knew it, and the disturbed state of affairs made it necessary that every man should do precisely what was allotted to him, at the risk of causing useless complications in the effort to concentrate and organise the troops which was now going forward. At last he actually went to the Palazzo Montevarchi in the morning and inquired if he could see the princess.