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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMarzio's Crucifix - Chapter 2
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Marzio's Crucifix - Chapter 2 Post by :Brandon Category :Long Stories Author :F. Marion Crawford Date :May 2011 Read :2656

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Marzio's Crucifix - Chapter 2


That evening Marzio finished the last cherub's head on the ewer before he left the shop. He had sent Gianbattista home, and had dismissed the men who were working at a huge gilded grating ordered by a Roman prince for a church he was decorating. Marzio worked on by the light of a strong lamp until the features were all finished and he had indicated the pupils of the eyes with the fine-pointed punch. Then he sat some time at his bench with the beautiful piece of workmanship under his fingers, looking hard at it and straining his eyes to find imperfections that did not exist. At last he laid it down tenderly upon the stuffed leather pad and stared at the green shade of the lamp, deep in thought.

The man's nature was in eternal conflict with itself, and he felt as though he were the battle-ground of forces he could neither understand nor control. A true artist in feeling, in the profound cultivation of his tastes, in the laborious patience with which he executed his designs, there was an element in his character and mind which was in direct contradiction with the essence of what art is. If art can be said to depend upon anything except itself, that something is religion. The arts began in religious surroundings, in treating religious subjects, and the history of the world from the time of the early Egyptians has shown that where genius has lost faith in the supernatural, its efforts to produce great works of lasting beauty in the sensual and material atmosphere of another century have produced comparatively insignificant results. The science of silver-chiselling began, so far as this age is concerned, in the church. The tastes of Francis the First directed the attention of the masters of the art to the making of ornaments for his mistresses, and for a time the men who had made chalices for the Vatican succeeded in making jewelry for Madame de Chateaubriand, Madame d'Etampes, and Diane de Poitiers. But the art itself remained in the church, and the marvels of _repousse gold and silver to be seen in the church of Notre Dame des Victoires, the masterpieces of Ossani of Rome, could not have been produced by any goldsmith who made jewelry for a living.

Marzio Pandolfi knew all this better than any one, and he could no more have separated himself from his passion for making chalices and crucifixes than he could have changed the height of his stature or the colour of his eyes. But at the same time he hated the church, the priests, and every one who was to use the beautiful things over which he spent so much time and labour. Had he been indifferent, a careless, good-natured sceptic, he would have been a bad artist. As it was, the very violence of his hatred lent spirit and vigour to his eye and hand. He was willing to work upon the figure, perfecting every detail of expression, until he fancied he could feel and see the silver limbs of the dead Christ suffering upon the cross under the diabolical skill of his long fingers. The monstrous horror of the thought made him work marvels, and the fancied realisation of an idea that would startle even a hardened unbeliever, lent a feverish impulse to this strange man's genius.

As for the angels on the chalices, he did not hate them; on the contrary, he saw in them the reflection of those vague images of loveliness and innocence which haunt every artist's soul at times, and the mere manual skill necessary to produce expression in things so minute, fascinated a mind accustomed to cope with difficulties, and so inured to them as almost to love them.

Nevertheless, when a man is constantly a prey to strong emotions, his nature cannot long remain unchanged. The conviction had been growing in Marzio's mind that it was his duty, for the sake of consistency, to abandon his trade. The thought saddened him, but the conclusion seemed inevitable. It was absurd, he repeated to himself, that one who hated the priests should work for them. Marzio was a fanatic in his theories, but he had something of the artist's simplicity in his idea of the way they should be carried out. He would have thought it no harm to kill a priest, but it seemed to him contemptible to receive a priest's money for providing the church with vessels which were to serve in a worship he despised.

Moreover, he was not poor. Indeed, he was richer than any one knew, and the large sums paid for his matchless work went straight from the workshop to the bank, while Marzio continued to live in the simple lodgings to which he had first brought home his wife, eighteen years before, when he was but a young partner in the establishment he now owned. As he sat at the bench, looking from his silver ewer to the green lampshade, he was asking himself whether he should not give up this life of working for people he hated and launch into that larger work of political agitation, for which he fancied himself so well fitted. He looked forward into an imaginary future, and saw himself declaiming in the Chambers against all that existed, rousing the passions of a multitude to acts of destruction--of justice, as he called it in his thoughts--and leading a vast army of angry men up the steps of the Capitol to proclaim himself the champion of the rights of man against the rights of kings. His eyelids contracted and the concentrated light of his eyes was reduced to two tiny bright specks in the midst of the pupils; his nervous hand went out and the fingers clutched the jaws of the iron vice beside him as he would have wished to grapple with the jaws of the beast oppression, which in his dreams seemed ever tormenting the poor world in which he lived.

There was something lacking in his face, even in that moment of secret rage as he sat alone in his workroom before the lamp. There was the frenzy of the fanatic, the exaltation of the dreamer, clearly expressed upon his features, but there was something wanting. There was everything there except the force to accomplish, the initiative which oversteps the bank of words, threats, and angry thoughts, and plunges boldly into the stream, ready to sacrifice itself to lead others. The look of power, of stern determination, which is never absent from the faces of men who change their times, was not visible in the thin dark countenance of the silver-chiseller. Marzio was destined never to rise above the common howling mob which he aspired to lead.

This fact asserted itself outwardly as he sat there. After a few minutes the features relaxed, a smile that was almost weak--the smile that shows that a man lacks absolute confidence--passed quickly over his face, the light in his eyes went out, and he rose from his stool with a short, dissatisfied sigh, which was repeated once or twice as he put away his work and arranged his tools. He made the rounds of the workshop, looked to the fastenings of the windows, lighted a taper, and then extinguished the lamp. He threw a loose overcoat over his shoulders without passing his arms through the sleeves, and went out into the street. Glancing up at the windows of his house opposite, he saw that the lights were burning brightly, and he guessed that his wife and daughter were waiting for him before sitting down to supper.

"Let them wait," he muttered with a surly grin, as he put out the taper and went down the street in the opposite direction.

He turned the street corner by the dark Palazzo Antici Mattei, and threaded the narrow streets towards the Pantheon and the Piazza Sant' Eustachio. The weather had changed, and the damp south-east wind was blowing fiercely behind him. The pavement was wet and slippery with the strange thin coating of greasy mud which sometimes appears suddenly in Rome even when it has not rained. The insufficient gas lamps flickered in the wind as though they would go out, and the few pedestrians who hurried along clung closely to the wall as though it offered them some protection from the moist scirocco. The great doors of the palaces were most of them closed, but here and there a little red light announced a wine-shop, and as Marzio passed by he could see through the dirty panes of glass dark figures sitting in a murky atmosphere over bottles of coarse wine. The streets were foul with the nauseous smell of decaying vegetables and damp walls which the south-east wind brings out of the older parts of Rome, and while few voices were heard in the thick air, the clatter of horses' hoofs on the wet stones rattled loudly from the thoroughfares which lead to the theatres. It was a dismal night, but Marzio Pandolfi felt that his temper was in tune with the weather as he tramped along towards the Pantheon.

The streets widened as he neared his destination, and he drew his overcoat more closely about his neck. Presently he reached a small door close to Sant' Eustachio, one of the several entrances to the ancient Falcone, an inn which has existed for centuries upon the same spot, in the same house, and which affords a rather singular variety of accommodation. Down stairs, upon the square, is a modern restaurant with plate-glass windows, marble floor, Vienna cane chairs, and a general appearance of luxury. A flight of steps leads to an upper story, where there are numerous rooms of every shape and dimension, furnished with old-fashioned Italian simplicity, though with considerable cleanliness. Thither resort the large companies of regular guests who have eaten their meals there during most of their lives. But there is much more room in the house than appears. The vast kitchen on the ground floor terminates in a large space, heavily vaulted and lighted by oil lamps, where rougher tables are set and spread, and where you may see the well-to-do wine-carter eating his supper after his journey across the Campagna, in company with some of his city acquaintances of a similar class. In dark corners huge wine-casks present their round dusty faces to the doubtful light, the smell of the kitchen pervades everything, tempered by the smell of wine from the neighbouring cellars; the floor is of rough stone worn by generations of cooks, potboys, and guests. Beyond this again a short flight of steps leads to a narrow doorway, passing through which one enters the last and most retired chamber of the huge inn. Here there is barely room for a dozen persons, and when all the places are full the bottles and dishes are passed from the door by the guests themselves over each other's heads, for there is no room to move about in the narrow space. The walls are whitewashed and the tables are as plain as the chairs, but the food and drink that are consumed there are the best that the house affords, and the society, from the point of view of Marzio Pandolfi and his friends, is of the most agreeable.

The chiseller took his favourite seat in the corner furthest from the window. Two or three men of widely different types were already at the table, and Marzio exchanged a friendly nod with each. One was a florid man of large proportions, dressed in the height of the fashion and with scrupulous neatness. He was a jeweller. Another, a lawyer with a keen and anxious face, wore a tightly-buttoned frock coat and a black tie. Immense starched cuffs covered his bony hands and part of his fingers. He was supping on a salad, into which he from time to time poured an additional dose of vinegar. A third man, with a round hat on one side of his head, and who wore a very light-coloured overcoat, displaying a purple scarf with a showy pin at the neck, held a newspaper in one hand and a fork in the other, with which he slowly ate mouthfuls of a ragout of wild boar. He was a journalist on the staff of an advanced radical paper.

"Halloa, Sor Marzio!" cried this last guest, suddenly looking up from the sheet he was reading, "here is news of your brother."

"What?" asked Marzio briefly, but as though the matter were utterly indifferent to him. "Has he killed anybody, the assassin?" The journalist laughed hoarsely at the jest.

"Not so bad as that," he answered. "He is getting advancement. They are going to make him a canon of Santa Maria Maggiore. It is in the _Osservatore Romano of this evening."

"He is good for nothing else," growled Marzio. "It is just like him not to have told me anything about it."

"With the sympathy which exists between you, I am surprised," said the journalist. "After all, you might convert him, and then he would be useful. He will be an archdeacon next, and then a bishop--who knows?--perhaps a cardinal!"

"You might as well talk of converting the horses on Monte Cavallo as of making Paolo change his mind," replied Pandolfi, beginning to sip the white wine he had ordered. "You don't know him--he is an angel, my brother! Oh, quite an angel! I wish somebody would send him to heaven, where he is so anxious to be!"

"Look out, Marzio!" exclaimed the lawyer, glancing from the vinegar cruet towards the door and then at his friend.

"No such luck," returned the chiseller. "Nothing ever happens to those black-birds. When we get as far as hanging them, my dear brother will happen to be in Paris instead of in Rome. You might as well try to catch a street cat by calling to it _micio, micio_! as try and catch a priest. You may as well expect to kill a mule by kicking it as one of those animals, Burn the Vatican over their heads and think you have destroyed them like a wasps' nest, they will write you a letter from Berlin the next day saying that they are alive and well, and that Prince Bismarck protests against your proceedings."

"Bravo, Sor Marzio!" cried the journalist. "I will put that in the paper to-morrow--it is a fine fulmination. You always refresh my ideas--why will you not write an article for us in that strain? I will publish it as coming from a priest who has given up his orders, married, and opened a wine-shop in Naples. What an effect! Magnificent! Do go on!"

Marzio did not need a second invitation to proceed upon his favourite topic. He was soon launched, and as the little room filled, his pale and sunken cheeks grew red with excitement, his tongue was unloosed, and he poured out a continuous stream of blasphemous ribaldry such as would have shocked the ears of a revolutionist of the year '89 or of a _petroleuse of the nineteenth century. It seemed as though the spring once opened would never dry. His eyes flashed, his fingers writhed convulsively on the table, and his voice rang out, ironical and cutting, with strange intonations that roused strange feelings in his hearers. It was the old subject, but he found something new to say upon it at each meeting with his friends, and they wondered where he got the imagination to construct his telling phrases and specious, virulent arguments.

We have all wondered at such men. They are the outcome of this age and of no previous time, as it is also to be hoped that their like may not arise hereafter. They are found everywhere, these agitators, with their excited faces, their nervous utterances, and their furious hatred of all that is. They find their way into the parliaments of the world, into the dining-rooms of the rich, into the wine-shops of the working men, into the press even, and some of their works are published by great houses and read by great ladies, if not by great men. Suddenly, when we least expect it, a flaming advertisement announces a fiery tirade against all that the great mass of mankind hold in honour, if not in reverence. Curiosity drives thousands to read what is an insult to humanity, and even though the many are disgusted, some few are found to admire a rhetoric which exalts their own ignorance to the right of judging God. And still the few increase and grow to be a root and send out shoots and creepers like an evil plant, so that grave men say among themselves that if there is to be a universal war in our times or hereafter it will be fought by Christians of all denominations defending themselves against those who are not Christians.

Marzio sat long at his table, and his modest pint of wine was enough to moisten his throat throughout the time during which he held forth. When the liquor was finished he rose, took down his overcoat from the peg on which it hung, pushed his soft hat over his eyes, and with a sort of triumphant wave of the hand, saluted his friends and left the room. He was a perfectly sober man, and no power would have induced him to overstep the narrow limit he allowed to his taste. Indeed, he did not care for wine itself, and still less for any excitement it produced in his brain. He ordered his half-litre as a matter of respect for the house, as he called it, and it served to wet his throat while he was talking. Water would have done as well. Consumed by the intensity of his hatred for the things he attacked, he needed no stimulant to increase his exaltation.

When he was gone, there was silence in the room for some few minutes. Then the journalist burst into a loud laugh.

"If we only had half a dozen fellows like that in the Chambers, all talking at once!" he cried.

"They would be kicked into the middle of Montecitorio in a quarter of an hour," answered the thin voice of the lawyer. "Our friend Marzio is slightly mad, but he is a good fellow in theory. In practice that sort of thing must be dropped into public life a little at a time, as one drops vinegar into a salad, on each leaf. If you don't, all the vinegar goes to the bottom together, and smells horribly sour."

While Marzio was holding forth to his friends, the family circle in the Via dei Falegnami was enjoying a very pleasant evening in his absence. The Signora Pandolfi presided at supper in a costume which lacked elegance, but ensured comfort--the traditional skirt and white cotton jacket of the Italian housewife. Lucia wore the same kind of dress, but with less direful effects upon her appearance. Gianbattista, as usual after working hours, was arrayed in clothes of fashionable cut, aiming at a distant imitation of the imaginary but traditional English tourist. A murderous collar supported his round young chin, and a very stiffly-constructed pasteboard-lined tie was adorned by an exquisite silver pin of his own workmanship--the only artistic thing about him.

Besides these members of the family, there was a fourth person at supper, the person whom, of all others, Marzio detested, Paolo Pandolfi, his brother the priest, commonly called Don Paolo. He deserves a word of description, for there was in his face a fleeting resemblance to Marzio, which might easily have led a stranger to believe that there was a similarity between their characters. Tall, like his brother, the priest was a little less thin, and evidently far less nervous. The expression of his face was thoughtful, and the deep, heavily-ringed eyes were like Marzio's, but the forehead was broader, and the breadth ascended higher in the skull, which was clearly defined by the short, closely-cropped hair and the smooth tonsure at the back. The nose was larger and of more noble shape, and Paolo's complexion was less yellow than his brother's; the features were not surrounded by furrows or lines, and the leanness of the priest's face threw them into relief. The clean shaven upper lip showed a kind and quiet mouth, which smiled easily and betrayed a sense of humour, but was entirely free from any suggestion of cruelty. Don Paolo was scrupulous of his appearance, and his cassock and mantle were carefully brushed, and his white collar was immaculately clean. His hands were of the student type--white, square at the tips, lean, and somewhat knotty.

Marzio, in his ill-humour, had no doubt flattered himself that his family would wait for him for supper. But his family had studied him and knew his ways. When he was not punctual, he seldom came at all, and a quarter of an hour was considered sufficient to decide the matter.

"What are we waiting to do?" exclaimed Maria Luisa, in the odd Italian idiom. "Marzio is in his humours--he must have gone to his friends. Ah! those friends of his!" she sighed. "Let us sit down to supper," she added; and, from her tone, the idea of supper seemed to console her for her husband's absence.

"Perhaps he guessed that I was coming," remarked Don Paolo, with a smile. "In that case he will be a little nervous with me when he comes back. With your leave, Maria Luisa," he added, by way of announcing that he would say grace. He gave the short Latin benediction, during which Gianbattista never looked away from Lucia's face. The boy fancied she was never so beautiful as when she stood with her hands folded and her eyes cast down.

"Marzio does not know what I have come for," began Don Paolo again, as they all sat down to the square table in the little room. "If he knew, perhaps he might have been here--though perhaps he would not care very much after all. You all ask what it is? Yes; I will tell you. His Eminence has obtained for me the canonry that was vacant at Santa Maria Maggiore--"

At this announcement everybody sprang up and embraced Don Paolo, and overwhelmed him with congratulations, reproaching him at the same time for having kept the news so long to himself.

"Of course, I shall continue to work with the Cardinal," said the priest, when the family gave him time to speak. "But it is a great honour. I have other news for Marzio--"

"I imagine that you did not count upon the canonry as a means of pleasing him," remarked the Signora, Pandolfi, with a smile.

"No, indeed," laughed Lucia. "Poor papa--he would rather see you sent to be a curate in Civita Lavinia!"

"Dear me! I fear so," answered Don Paolo, with a shade of sadness. "But I have a commission for him. The Cardinal has ordered another crucifix, which he desires should be Marzio's masterpiece--silver, of course, and large. It must be altogether the finest thing he has ever made, when it is finished."

"I daresay he will be very much pleased," said Maria Luisa, smiling comfortably.

"I wish he could make the figure solid, cast and chiselled, instead of _repousse_," remarked Gianbattista, whose powerful hands craved heavy work by instinct.

"It would be a pity to waste so much silver; and besides, the effects are never so light," said Lucia, who, like most artists' daughters, knew something of her father's work.

"What is a little silver, more or less, to the Cardinal?" asked Gianbattista, with a little scorn; but as he met the priest's eye his expression instantly became grave.

The apprentice was very young; he was not beyond that age at which, to certain natures, it seems a fine thing to be numbered among such men as Marzio's friends. But at the same time he was not old enough, nor independent enough, to exhibit his feelings on all occasions. Don Paolo exercised a dominant influence in the Pandolfi household. He had the advantage of being calm, grave, and thoroughly in earnest, not easily ruffled nor roused to anger, any more than he was easily hurt. By character sensitive, he bore all small attacks upon himself with the equanimity of a man who believes his cause to be above the need of defence against little enemies. The result was that he dominated his brother's family, and even Marzio himself was not free from a certain subjection which he felt, and which was one of the most bitter elements in his existence. Don Paolo imposed respect by his quiet dignity, while Marzio asserted himself by speaking loudly and working himself voluntarily into a state of half-assumed anger. In the contest between quiet force and noisy self-assertion the issue is never doubtful. Marzio lacked real power, and he felt it. He could command attention among the circle of his associates who already sympathised with his views, but in the presence of Paolo he was conscious of struggling against a superior and incomprehensible obstacle, against the cool and unresentful disapprobation of a man stronger than himself. It was many years since he had ventured to talk before his brother as he talked when he was alone with Gianbattista, and the latter saw the change that came over his master's manner before the priest, and guessed that Marzio was morally afraid. The somewhat scornful allusion to the Cardinal's supposed wealth certainly did not constitute an attack upon Don Paolo, but Gianbattista nevertheless felt that he had said something rather foolish, and made haste to ignore his words. The influence could not be escaped.

It was this subtle power that Marzio resented, for he saw that it was exerted continually, both upon himself and the members of his household. The chiseller acknowledged to himself that in a great emergency his wife, his daughter, and even Gianbattista Bordogni, would most likely follow the advice of Don Paolo, in spite of his own protests and arguments to the contrary. He fancied that he himself alone was a free agent. He doubted Gianbattista, and began to think that the boy's character would turn out a failure. This was the reason why he no longer encouraged the idea of a marriage between his daughter and his apprentice, a scheme which, somewhat earlier, had been freely discussed. It had seemed an admirable arrangement. The young man promised to turn out a freethinker after Marzio's own heart, and showed a talent for his profession which left nothing to be desired. Some one must be ready to take Marzio's place in the direction of the establishment, and no one could be better fitted to undertake the task than Gianbattista. Lucia would inherit her father's money as the capital for the business, and her husband should inherit the workshop with all the stock-in-trade. Latterly, however, Marzio had changed his mind, and the idea no longer seemed so satisfactory to him as at first. Gianbattista was evidently falling under the influence of Don Paolo, and that was a sufficient reason for breaking off the match. Marzio hardly realised that as far as his outward deportment in the presence of the priest was concerned, the apprentice was only following his master's example.

Marzio had been looking about him for another husband for his daughter, and he had actually selected one from among his most intimate friends. His choice had fallen upon the thin lawyer--by name Gasparo Carnesecchi--who, according to the chiseller's views, was in all respects a most excellent match. A true freethinker, a practising lawyer with a considerable acquaintance in the world of politics, a discreet man not far from forty years of age, it seemed as though nothing more were required to make a model husband. Marzio knew very well that Lucia's dowry would alone have sufficed to decide the lawyer to marry her, and an interview with Carnesecchi had almost decided the matter. Of course, he had not been able to allude to the affair this evening at the inn, when so many others were present, but the preliminaries were nearly settled, and Marzio had made up his mind to announce his intention to his family at once. He knew well enough what a storm he would raise, and, like many men who are always trying to seem stronger than they really are, he had determined to choose a moment for making the disclosure when he should be in a thoroughly bad humour. As he walked homewards from the old inn he felt that this moment had arrived. The slimy pavement, the moist wind driving through the streets and round every corner, penetrating to the very joints, contributed to make him feel thoroughly vicious and disagreeable; and the tirade in which he had been indulging before his audience of friends had loosed his tongue, until he was conscious of being able to face any domestic disturbance or opposition.

The little party had adjourned from supper, and had been sitting for some time in the small room which served as a place of meeting. Gianbattista was smoking a cigarette, which he judged to be more in keeping with his appearance than a pipe when he was dressed in civilised garments, and he was drawing an elaborate ornament of arabesques upon a broad sheet of paper fixed on a board. Lucia seated at the table was watching the work, while Don Paolo sat in a straight-backed chair, his white hands folded on his knee, from time to time addressing a remark to Maria Luisa. The latter, being too stout to recline in the deep easy-chair near the empty fireplace, sat bolt upright, with her feet upon the edge of a footstool, which was covered by a tapestry of worsted-work, displaying an impossible nosegay upon a vivid green ground.

They had discussed the priest's canonry, and the order for the crucifix. They had talked about the weather. They had made some remarks upon Marzio's probable disposition of mind when he should come home, and the conversation was exhausted so far as the two older members were concerned. Gianbattista and Lucia conversed in a low tone, in short, enigmatic phrases.

"Do you know?" said the apprentice.

"What?" inquired Lucia.

"I have spoken of it to-day." Both glanced at the Signora Pandolfi. She was sitting up as straight as ever, but her heavy head was slowly bending forward.

"Well?" asked the young girl

"He was in a diabolical humour. He said I might take you away." Gianbattista smiled as he spoke, and looked into Lucia's eyes. She returned his gaze rather sadly, and only shook her head and shrugged her shoulders for a reply.

"If we took him at his word," suggested Gianbattista.

"Just so--it would be a fine affair!" exclaimed Lucia ironically.

"After all, he said so," argued the young man. "What does it matter whether he meant it?"

"Things are going badly for us," sighed his companion. "It was different a year ago. You must have done something to displease him, Tista. I wish I knew!" Her dark eyes suddenly assumed an angry expression, and she drew in her red lips.

"Wish you knew what?" inquired the apprentice, in a colder tone.

"Why he does not think about it as he used to. He never made any objections until lately. It was almost settled."

Gianbattista glanced significantly at Don Paolo, shrugged his shoulders, and went on drawing.

"What has that to do with it?" asked Lucia impatiently.

"It is enough for your father that it would please his brother. He would hate a dog that Don Paolo liked."

"What nonsense!" exclaimed the girl. "It is something else. Papa sees something--something that I do not see. He knows his own affairs, and perhaps he knows yours too, Tista. I have not forgotten the other evening."

"I!" ejaculated the young man, looking up angrily.

"You know very well where I was--at the Circolo Artistico. How do you dare to think--"

"Why are you so angry if there is no one else in the case?" asked Lucia, with a sudden sweetness, which belied the jealous glitter in her eyes.

"It seems to me that I have a right to be angry. That you should suspect me after all these years! How many times have I sworn to you that I went nowhere else?"

"What is the use of your swearing? You do not believe in anything--why should you swear? Why should I believe you?"

"Oh--if you talk like that, I have finished!" answered Gianbattista. "But there--you are only teasing me. You believe me, just as I believe you. Besides, as for swearing and believing in something besides you--who knows? I love you--is not that enough?"

Lucia's eyes softened as they rested on the young man's face. She knew he loved her. She only wanted to be told so once more.

"There is Marzio," said Don Paolo, as a key rattled in the latch of the outer door.

"At this hour!" exclaimed the Signora Pandolfi, suddenly waking up and rubbing her eyes with her fat fingers.

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Marzio's Crucifix - Chapter 3 Marzio's Crucifix - Chapter 3

Marzio's Crucifix - Chapter 3
CHAPTER IIIMarzio, having divested himself of his heavy coat and hat, appeared at the door of the sitting-room. Everybody looked at him, as though to discern the signs of his temper, and no one was perceptibly reassured by the sight of his white face and frowning forehead. "Well, most reverend canon," he began, addressing Don Paolo, "I am in time to congratulate you, it seems. It was natural that I should be the last to hear of your advancement, through the papers." "Thank you," answered Don Paolo quietly. "I came to tell you the news." "You are very considerate," returned Marzio.

Marzio's Crucifix - Chapter 1 Marzio's Crucifix - Chapter 1

Marzio's Crucifix - Chapter 1
CHAPTER I"The whole of this modern fabric of existence is a living lie!" cried Marzio Pandolfi, striking his little hammer upon the heavy table with an impatient rap. Then he dropped it and turning on his stool rested one elbow upon the board while he clasped his long, nervous fingers together and stared hard at his handsome apprentice. Gianbattista Bordogni looked up from his work without relinquishing his tools, nodded gravely, stared up at the high window, and then went on hammering gently upon his little chisel, guiding the point carefully among the delicate arabesques traced upon the silver. "Yes," he