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The Heart of Rome eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 302 pages of information about The Heart of Rome.
breathed.  He could not even leave her money, for he was a minor.  He could do nothing for her and her parents would turn her into the street; in any case she was ruined.  He was in frightful agony of mind for her sake, he was dying before my eyes, powerless to help her and taking his suffering and his fault with him to the next world, and he was my friend.  I did what I could.  I gave him my word of honour that I would marry her legally, give her and her child my name, and provide for them as well as I could.  He thanked me—­I shall never forget how he looked—­and he died quietly, half an hour afterwards.  You know now.  I kept my word.  That is all.”

The Princess looked at his quiet face a moment in silence, and all that was best in her rose up through all that was artificial and worldly, and untruthful and vain.

“I did not know that there were such men,” she said simply.

CHAPTER XX

“So he got out,” said Gigi to Toto, filling the latter’s glass to the brim.

“May he die assassinated!” answered Toto.  “I will burn a candle to the Madonna every day, in order that an apoplexy may seize him.  He is the devil in person, this cursed engineer.  Even the earth and the water will not have him.  They spit him out, like that.”

Toto illustrated the simile with force and noise before drinking.  Gigi’s cunning face was wreathed in smiles.

“You know nothing,” he observed.

“What is it?” asked Toto, with his glass in his hand and between two sips.

“There was old Sassi, who was hurt, and the engineer’s gaol-bird mason-servant.  They were with him.  It was all in the Messaggero this morning.”

“I know that without the newspaper, you imbecile.  It was I that told you, for I saw all three pass under the window while I was locked in.  Is there anything else you know?”

“Oh, yes!  There was another person with them.”

“I daresay,” Toto answered, pretending blank indifference.  “He must have been close to the wall as they went by.  What difference does it make since that pig of an engineer got out?”

“The other person was caught with him when the water rose,” said Gigi, who meant to give his information by inches.

“Curse him, whoever he was!  He helped the engineer and that is why they got out.  No man alone could have broken through that wall in a night, except one of us.”

“The other person was only a woman, after all,” answered Gigi.  “But you do not care, I suppose.”

“Speak, animal of a Jesuit that you are!” cried Toto.  “Do not make me lose my soul!”

Gigi smiled and drank some of his wine.

“There are people who would pay to know,” he said, “and you would never tell me whether the sluice gate of the ‘lost water’ is under number thirteen or not.”

“It is under number thirteen, Master Judas.  Speak!”

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