Moreover, her sister Clementina had told her that there was only one way to treat the world, and that was to leave it with the contempt it deserved; and she had heard her brother tell his wife in one of his miserable fits of weakly brutal anger that marriage was hell, and nothing else; to which the young princess had coldly replied that he was only where he deserved to be. Sabina had not been brought up with the traditional pious and proper views about matrimony, and if she did not think even worse of it, the merit was due to her own nature, in which there was much good and hardly any real evil.
But she could not escape from a little inherited and acquired cynicism either, and while Malipieri chatted quietly during luncheon, an explanation of the whole matter occurred to her which was not pleasant to contemplate. The story about the treasure might or might not be true, but he believed in it, and so did Volterra. The Baron was therefore employing him to discover the prize. But Malipieri showed plainly that he wished her to possess it, if it were ever found, and perhaps he meant it to be her dowry, in which case it would come into his own hands if he could marry her. This was ingenious, if it was nothing else, and though Sabina felt that there was something mean about it, she resented the idea that he should expect her to think him a model of generosity when she hardly knew him.
She was therefore very quiet, and looked at him rather coldly when he spoke to her, but the Baroness put this down to her admirably correct manners, and was already beginning to consider how she could approach Malipieri on the subject of his marrying Sabina. She was quite in ignorance of the business which had brought him and her husband together, as Sabina now knew from many remarks she remembered. Volterra was accustomed to tell his wife what he had been doing when the matter was settled, and she had long ago given up trying to make him talk of his affairs when he chose to be silent.
On the whole, so far as Sabina was concerned, the circumstances were not at first very favourable to the Baroness’s newly formed plan on this occasion, though she did not know it. On the other hand, Malipieri discovered before luncheon was over, that Sabina interested him very much, that she was much prettier than he had realized at his first meeting with her, and that he had unconsciously thought about her a good deal in the interval.
Malipieri was convinced before long that his doings interested some one who was able to employ men to watch him, and he connected the fact with Bruni’s visit. He was not much disturbed by it, however, and was careful not to show that he noticed it at all. Naturally enough, he supposed that his short career as a promoter of republican ideas had caused him to be remembered as a dangerous person, and that a careful ministry was anxious to know why he lived