“You will find the time quite as profitable as if you were working,” said Malipieri.
He nodded and went out followed by Masin, and Toto heard the key turned twice in the solid old lock. The door was strong, and they would probably lock the front door of the apartment too. Toto listened quietly till he heard it shut after them in the distance. Then he rose and flattened his face against the window pane.
He waited some time. He could see one half of the great arched entrance, but the projecting stone jamb of the window hindered him from seeing more. It was very quiet, and he could hear footsteps below, on the gravel of the courtyard, if any one passed.
At the end of ten minutes he heard a man’s heavy tread, and knew that it was Masin’s. Masin must have come out of the great archway on the side of it which Toto could not see. The steps went on steadily along the gravel. Masin was going to the vaults.
Toto waited ten minutes, and began to think that no one else was coming, and that Malipieri had left the palace, though he had been convinced that the architect and his man meant to go down to the vaults together. Just as he was beginning to give up the idea, he saw Sassi under the archway, in a tall hat, a black coat and gloves, and Malipieri was just visible for a moment as he came out too. He was unmistakably speaking to some one on his right, who was hidden from Toto’s view by the projecting stonework. His manner was also distinctly deferential. The third person was probably Baron Volterra.
The footsteps took a longer time to reach the other end of the court than Masin had occupied. After all was silent, Toto listened breathlessly for five minutes more. There was not a sound.
He looked about him, then took up a chair, thrust one of the legs between the bolt and the body of the padlock and quietly applied his strength. The wood of the frames was old, and the heavy strain drew the screw-eyes straight out.
Toto opened the window noiselessly and looked out with caution. No one was in sight. By this time the three were in the vaults, with Masin.
Toto knew every inch of the palace by heart, inside and out, and he knew that one of the cast-iron leaders that carried the rain from the roof to the ground was within reach of that particular window, on the left side. He looked out once more, up and down the courtyard, and then, in an instant, he was kneeling on the stone sill, he had grasped the iron leader with one hand, then with the other, swinging himself to it and clutching it below with his rough boots. A few moments later he was on the ground, running for the great entrance. No one was there, no one saw him.
He let himself out quietly, shut the postern door after him, and slouched away towards the Vicolo dei Soldati.