“That’s right—that is exactly what you ought to do. But you must not be so tremendously humble,” said Mr. Hunstanton. “Yes, yes, my dear fellow, I’ll undertake it; but don’t be down-hearted. If you are not as happy a fellow as any in Christendom by this time to-morrow night——”

“You— 대전오피 think so? Dio mio! You—think so?” said the Italian. His heart was too full to say any more. He wrung his friend’s hand, and snatched up his hat and went away with scarcely another word, stumbling down the long staircase, which was as black as night, his mind too distracted to think of anything. As he passed Diana’s door the glimmer of light which showed underneath stopped him, as if it had carried a message, a word of encouragement. He stopped short in spite of himself, and a wild fancy seized him. It was all he could do to keep himself from rushing into her presence, confessing everything, asking—ah! what was it that he could ask? Would she be but favourable—kind—nay, something more? Should he make the plunge himself without waiting for Hunstanton, and if such an unimaginable bliss could be, have it a day{148} earlier? The impulse made him giddy, so strong was it, turning his brain round and round; but as he stood there, with his hand uplifted almost in the act of ringing the bell, Diana’s factotum, all unaware of who was standing outside, came to the door within and began to bar and bolt and shut up for the night. Pandolfini’s hand dropped as if he had been shot. He turned and made his way, without once pausing to take breath, into the open air beneath, on the side of Arno. The lamps twinkled reflected in the water, the stars from the sky; there was a quiver and tremor in the night itself, a little soft wistful melancholy breeze. Might this be the last night for him, the end of all sweet and hopeful days? or was it, could it be, only the tender beginning of a long heaven to come?