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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMarzio's Crucifix - Chapter 3
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Marzio's Crucifix - Chapter 3 Post by :jcebcs Category :Long Stories Author :F. Marion Crawford Date :May 2011 Read :1395

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Marzio's Crucifix - Chapter 3


Marzio, 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. "I have news also; for you all." He paused a moment, as though to give greater effect to the statement he was about to make. "I refer," he continued very slowly, "to the question of Lucia's marriage."

"Indeed!" exclaimed the priest. "I am glad if it is to be arranged at last."

The other persons in the room held their breath. The young girl blushed deeply under her white skin, and Gianbattista grew pale as he laid aside his pencil and shaded his eyes with his hands. The Signora Pandolfi panted with excitement and trembled visibly as she looked at her husband. His dark figure stood out strongly from the background of the shabby blue wall paper, and the petroleum lamp cast deep shadows in the hollows of his face.

"Yes," he continued, "I talked yesterday with Gasparo Carnesecchi--you know, he is the lawyer I always consult. He is a clever fellow and understands these matters. We talked of the contract; I thought it better to consult him, you see, and he thinks the affair can be arranged in a couple of weeks. He is so intelligent. A marvel of astuteness; we discussed the whole matter, I say, and it is to be concluded as soon as possible. So now, my children--"

Gianbattista and Lucia, seated side by side at the table, were looking into each other's eyes, and as Marzio fixed his gaze upon them, their hands joined upon the drawing-board, and an expression of happy surprise overspread their faces. Marzio smiled too, as he paused before completing the sentence.

"So that now, my children," he continued, speaking very slowly, "you may as well leave each other's hands and have done with all this nonsense."

The lovers looked up suddenly with a puzzled air, supposing that Marzio was jesting.

"I am in earnest," he went on. "You see, Tista, that it will not be proper for you to sit and hold Lucia's hand when she is called Signora Carnesecchi, so you may as well get used to it."

For a moment there was a dead silence in the room. Then Lucia and Gianbattista both sprang to their feet.

"What!" screamed the young girl in an agony of terror. "Carnesecchi! what do you mean?"

"_Infame! Wretch!" shouted Gianbattista, beside himself with rage as he sprang forward to grasp Marzio in his hands.

But the priest had risen too, and placed himself between the young man and Marzio to prevent any struggle. "No violence!" he cried in a tone that dominated the angry voices and the hysterical weeping of Maria Luisa, who sat rocking herself in her chair. Gianbattista stepped back and leaned against the wall, choking with anger. Lucia fell back into her seat and covered her face with her hands.

"Violence? Who wants violence?" asked Marzio in contemptuous tones. "Do you suppose I am afraid of Tista? Let him alone, Paolo; let us see whether he will strike me."

The priest now turned his back on the apprentice, and confronted Marzio. He was not pale like the rest, for he was not afraid of the chiseller, and the generous flush of a righteous indignation mounted to his calm face.

"You are mad," he said, meeting his brother's gaze fearlessly.

"Not in the least," returned Marzio. "Lucia shall marry Gasparo Carnesecchi at once, or she shall not marry any one; what am I saying? She shall have no choice. She must and she shall marry the man I have chosen. What have you to do with it? Have you come here to put yourself between me and my family? I advise you to be careful. The law protects me from such interference, and fellows of your cloth are not very popular at present."

"The law," answered the priest, controlling his wrath, "protects children against their parents. The law which you invoke provides that a father shall not force his daughter to marry against her will, and I believe that considerable penalties are incurred in such cases."

"What do you know of law, except how to elude it?" inquired Marzio defiantly.

Not half an hour had elapsed since he had been haranguing the admiring company of his friends, and his words came easily. Moreover, it was a long time since he had broken through the constraint he felt in Don Paolo's presence, and the opportunity having presented itself was not to be lost.

"Who are you that should teach me?" he repeated, raising his voice to a strained key and gesticulating fiercely. "You, your very existence is a lie, and you are the server of lies, and you and your fellow liars would have created them if they didn't already exist, you love them so. You live by a fraud, and you want to drag everybody into the comedy you play every day in your churches, everybody who is fool enough to drop a coin into your greedy palm! What right have you to talk to men? Do you work? Do you buy? Do you sell? You are worse than those fine gentlemen who do nothing because their fathers stole our money, for you live by stealing it yourselves! And you set yourselves up as judges over an honest man to tell him what he is to do with his daughter? You fool, you thing in petticoats, you deceiver of women, you charlatan, you mountebank, go! Go and perform your antics before your altars, and leave hardworking men like me to manage their families as they can, and to marry their daughters to whom they will!"

Marzio had rolled off his string of invective in such a tone, and so rapidly, that it had been impossible to interrupt him. The two women were sobbing bitterly. Gianbattista, pale and breathing hard, looked as though he would throttle Marzio if he could reach him, and Don Paolo faced the angry artist, with reddening forehead, folding his arms and straining his muscles to control himself. When Marzio paused for breath, the priest answered him with an effort.

"You may insult me if it pleases you," he said, "it is nothing to me. I cannot prevent your uttering your senseless blasphemies. I speak to you of the matter in hand. I tell you simply that in treating these two, who love each other, as you are treating them, you are doing a thing unworthy of a man. Moreover, the law protects your daughter, and I will see that the law does its duty."

"Oh, to think that I should have such a monster for a husband," groaned the fat Signora Pandolfi, still rocking herself in her chair, and hardly able to speak through her sobs.

"You will do a bad day's work for yourself and your art when you try to separate us," said Gianbattista between his teeth.

Marzio laughed hoarsely, and turned his back on the rest, beginning to fill his pipe at the chimney-piece. Don Paolo heard the apprentice's words, and understood their meaning. He went and laid his hand on the young man's shoulder.

"Do not let us have any threats, Tista," he said quietly. "Sor Marzio will never do this thing--believe me, he cannot if he would."

"Go on," cried Marzio, striking a match. "Go on--sow the seeds of discord, teach them all to disobey me. I am listening, my dear Paolo."

"All the better, if you are," answered the priest, "for I assure you I am in earnest. You will have time to consider this thing. I have a matter of business with you, Marzio. That is what I came for this evening. If you have done, we will speak of it."

"Business?" exclaimed Marzio in loud ironical tones. "This is a good time for talking of business--as good as any other! What is it?"

"The Cardinal wants another piece of work done, a very fine piece of work."

"The Cardinal? I will not make any more chalices for your cardinals. I am sick of chalices, and monstrances, and such stuff."

"It is none of those," answered Don Paolo quietly. "The Cardinal wants a magnificent silver crucifix. Will you undertake it? It must be your greatest work, if you do it at all."

"A crucifix?" repeated Marzio, in a changed tone. The angry gleam faded from his eyes, and a dreamy look came into them as he let the heavy lids droop a little, and remained silent, apparently lost in thought. The women ceased sobbing, and watched his altered face, while Gianbattista sank down into a chair and absently fingered the pencil that had fallen across the drawing-board.

"Will you do it?" asked Don Paolo, at last.

"A crucifix," mused the artist. "Yes, I will make a crucifix. I have made many, but I have never made one to my mind. Yes, tell the Cardinal that I will make it for him, if he will give me time."

"I do not think he will need it in less than three or four months," answered Don Paolo.

"Four months--that is not a long time for such a work. But I will try."

Thereupon Marzio, whose manner had completely changed, puffed at his pipe until it burned freely, and then approached the table, glancing at Gianbattista and Lucia as though nothing had happened. He drew the drawing-board which the apprentice had been using towards him, and, taking the pencil from the hand of the young man, began sketching heads on one corner of the paper.

Don Paolo looked at him gravely. After the words Marzio had spoken, it had gone against the priest's nature to communicate to him the commission for the sacred object. He had hesitated a moment, asking himself whether it was right that such a man should be allowed to do such work. Then the urgency of the situation, and his knowledge of his brother's character, had told him that the diversion might avert some worse catastrophe, and he had quickly made up his mind. Even now he asked himself whether he had done right. It was a question of theology, which it would have taken long to analyse, and Don Paolo had other matters to think of in the present, so he dismissed it from his mind. He wanted to be gone, and he only stayed a few minutes to see whether Marzio's mind would change again. He knew his brother well, and he was sure that no violence was to be feared from him, except in his speech. Such scenes as he had just witnessed were not uncommon in the Pandolfi household, and Don Paolo did not believe that any consequence was to be expected after he had left the house. He only felt that Marzio had been more than usually unreasonable, and that the artist could not possibly mean seriously what he had proposed that evening.

The priest did not indeed think that Gianbattista was altogether good enough for Lucia. The boy was occasionally a little wild in his speech, and though he was too much in awe of Don Paolo to repeat before him any of the opinions he had learned from his master, his manner showed occasionally that he was inclined to take the side of the latter in most questions that arose. But the habit of controlling his feelings in order not to offend the man of the church, and especially in order not to hurt Lucia's sensitive nature, had begun gradually to change and modify the young man's character. From having been a devoted admirer of Marzio's political creed and extreme free thought, Gianbattista had fallen, into the way of asking questions of the chiseller, to see how he would answer them; and the answers had not always satisfied him. Side by side with his increasing skill in his art, which led him to compare himself with his teacher, there had grown up in the apprentice the habit of comparing himself with Marzio from the intellectual point of view as well as from the artistic. The comparison did not appear to him advantageous to the elder man, as he discovered, in his way of thinking, a lack of logic on the one hand, and a love of frantic exaggeration on the other, which tended to throw a doubt upon the whole system of ideas which had produced these defects. The result was that the young man's mental position was unbalanced, and he was inclined to return to a more normal condition of thought. Don Paolo did not know all this, but he saw that Gianbattista had grown more quiet during the last year, and he hoped that his marriage with Lucia would complete the change. To see her thrown into the arms of a man like Gasparo Carnesecchi was more than the priest's affection for his niece could bear. He hardly believed that Marzio would seriously think again of the scheme, and he entertained a hope that the subject would not even be broached for some time to come.

Marzio continued to draw in silence, and after a few minutes, Don Paolo rose to take his leave. The chiseller did not look up from his pencil.

"Good-night, Marzio--let it be a good piece of work," said Paolo.

"Good-night," growled the artist, his eyes still fixed on the paper. His brother saluted the rest and left the room to go home to his lonely lodgings at the top of an old palace, in the first floor of which dwelt the Cardinal, whom he served as secretary. When he was gone, Lucia rose silently and went to her room, leaving her father and mother with Gianbattista. The Signora Pandolfi hesitated as to whether she should follow her daughter or stay with the two men. Her woman's nature feared further trouble, and visions of drawn knives rose before her swollen eyes, so that, after making as though she would rise twice, she finally remained in her seat, her fat hands resting idly upon her knees, staring at her husband and Gianbattista. The latter sat gloomily watching the paper on which his master was drawing.

"Marzio, you do not mean it?" said Maria Luisa, after a long interval of silence. The good woman did not possess the gift of tact.

"Do you not see that I have an idea?" asked her husband crossly, by way of an answer, as he bent his head over his work.

"I beg your pardon," said the Signora Pandolfi, in a humble tone, looking piteously at Gianbattista. The apprentice shook his head, as though he meant that nothing could be done for the present. Then she rose slowly, and with a word of good-night as she turned to the door, she left the room. The two men were alone.

"Now that nobody hears us, Sor Marzio, what do you mean to do?" asked Gianbattista in a low voice. Marzio shrugged his shoulders.

"What I told you," he answered, after a few seconds. "Do you suppose that rascally priest of a brother has made me change my mind?"

"No, I did not expect that, but I am not a priest; nor am I a boy to be turned round your fingers and put off in this way--sent to the wash like dirty linen. You must answer to me for what you said this evening."

"Oh, I will answer as much as you please," replied the artist, with an evil smile.

"Very well. Why do you want to turn me out, after promising for years that I should marry Lucia with your full consent when she was old enough?"

"Why? because you have turned yourself out, to begin with. Secondly, because Carnesecchi is a better match for my daughter than a beggarly chiseller. Thirdly, because I please; and fourthly, because I do not care a fig whether you like it or not. Are those reasons sufficient or not?"

"They may satisfy you," answered Gianbattista. "They leave something to be desired in the way of logic, in my humble opinion."

"Since I have told you that I do not care for your opinion--"

"I will probably find means to make you care for it," retorted the young man. "Don Paolo is quite right, in the first place, when he tells you that the thing is simply impossible. Fathers do not compel their daughters to marry in this century. Will you do me the favour to explain your first remark a little more clearly? You said I had turned myself out--how?"

"You have changed, Tista," said Marzio, leaning back to sharpen his pencil, and staring at the wall. "You change every day. You are not at all what you used to be, and you know it. You are going back to the priests. You fawn on my brother like a dog."

"You are joking," answered the apprentice. "Of course I would not want to make trouble in your house by quarrelling with Don Paolo, even if I disliked him. I do not dislike him. This evening he showed that he is a much better man than you."

"Dear Gianbattista," returned Marzio in sour tones, "every word you say convinces me that I have done right. Besides, I am busy--you see--you disturb my ideas. If you do not like my house, you can leave it. I will not keep you. I daresay I can educate another artist before I die. You are really only fit to swing a censer behind Paolo, or at the heels of some such animal."

"Perhaps it would be better to do that than to serve the mass you sing over your work-bench every day," said Gianbattista. "You are going too far, Sor Marzio. One may trifle with women and their feelings. You had better not attempt it with men."

"Such as you and Paolo? There was once a mule in the Pescheria Vecchia; when he got half-way through he did not like the smell of the fish, and he said to his leader, 'I will turn back.' The driver pulled him along. Then said the mule, 'Do not trifle with me. I will turn round and kick you.' But there is not room for a mule to turn round in the Pescheria Vecchia. The mule found it out, and followed the man through the fish market after all. I hope that is clear? It means that you are a fool."

"What is the use of bandying words?" cried the apprentice angrily. "I will offer you a bargain, Sor Marzio. I will give you your choice. Either I will leave the house, and in that case I will carry off Lucia and marry her in spite of you. Or else I will stay here--but if Lucia marries any one else, I will cut your throat. Is that a fair bargain?"

"Perfectly fair, though I cannot see wherein the bargain consists," answered Marzio, with a rough laugh. "I prefer that you should stay here. I will run the risk of being murdered by you, any day, and you may ran the risk of being sent to the galleys for life, if you choose. You will be well cared for there, and you can try your chisel on paving-stones for a change from silver chalices."

"Never mind what becomes of me afterwards, in that case," said the young man. "If Lucia is married to some one else, I do not care what happens. So you have got your warning!"

"Thank you. If you had remained what you used to be, you might have married her without further difficulty. But to have you and Lucia and Maria Luisa and Paolo all conspiring against me from morning till night is more than I can bear. Good-night, and the devil be with you, you fool!"

"_Et cum spiritu tuo_," answered Gianbattista as he left the room.

When Marzio was alone he returned to the head he was drawing--a head of wonderful beauty, inclined downwards and towards one side, bearing a crown of thorns, the eyelids drooped and shaded in death. He glanced at it with a bitter smile and threw aside the pencil without making another stroke upon the paper.

He leaned back, lighted another pipe, and began to reflect upon the events of the evening. He was glad it was over, for a strange weakness in his violent nature made it hard for him to face such scenes unless he were thoroughly roused. Now, however, he was satisfied. For a long time he had seen with growing distrust the change in Gianbattista's manner, and in the last words he had spoken to the apprentice he had uttered what was really in his heart. He was afraid of being altogether overwhelmed by the majority against him in his own house. He hated Paolo with his whole soul, and he had hated him all his life. This calm, obliging brother of his stood between him and all peace of mind. It was not the least of his grievances that he received most of his commissions through the priest who was constantly in relation with the cardinal and rich prelates who were the patrons of his art. The sense of obligation which he felt was often almost unbearable, and he longed to throw it off. The man whom he hated for his own sake and despised for his connection with the church, was daily in his house; at every turn he met with Paolo's tacit disapprobation or outspoken resistance. For a long time Paolo had doubted whether the marriage between the two young people would turn out well, and while he expressed his doubts Marzio had remained stubborn in his determination. Latterly, and doubtless owing to the change in Gianbattista's character, Paolo had always spoken of the marriage with favour. This sufficed at first to rouse Marzio's suspicions, and ultimately led to his opposing with all his might what he had so long and so vigorously defended; he resolved to be done with what he considered a sort of slavery, and at one stroke to free himself from his brother's influence, and to assure Lucia's future. During several weeks he had planned the scene which had taken place that evening, waiting for his opportunity, trying to make sure of being strong enough to make it effective, and revolving the probable answers he might expect from the different persons concerned. It had come, and he was satisfied with the result.

Marzio Pandolfi's intelligence lacked logic. In its place he possessed furious enthusiasm, an exaggerated estimate of the value of his social doctrines, and a whole vocabulary of terms by which to describe the ideal state after which he hankered. But though he did not possess a logic of his own, his life was itself the logical result of the circumstances he had created. As, in the diagram called the parallelogram of forces, various conflicting powers are seen to act at a point, producing an inevitable resultant in a fixed line, so in the plan of Marzio's life, a number of different tendencies all acted at a centre, in his overstrained intelligence, and continued to push him in a direction he had not expected to follow, and of which even now he was far from suspecting the ultimate termination.

He had never loved his brother, but he had loved his wife with all his heart. He had begun to love Lucia when she was a child. He had felt a sort of admiring fondness for Gianbattista Bordogni, and a decided pride in the progress and the talent of the apprentice. By degrees, as the prime mover, his hatred for Paolo, gained force, it had absorbed his affection for Maria Luisa, who, after eighteen years of irreproachable wifehood, seemed to Marzio to be nothing better than an accomplice and a spy of his brother's in the domestic warfare. Next, the lingering love for his child had been eaten up in the same way, and Marzio said to himself that the girl had joined the enemy, and was no longer worthy of his confidence. Lastly, the change in Gianbattista's character and ideas seemed to destroy the last link which bound the chiseller to his family. Henceforth, his hand was against each one of his household, and he fancied that they were all banded together against himself.

Every step had followed as the inevitable consequence of what had gone before. The brooding and suspicious nature of the artist had persisted in seeing in each change in himself the blackest treachery in those who surrounded him. His wife was an implacable enemy, his daughter a spy, his apprentice a traitor, and as for Paolo himself, Marzio considered him the blackest of villains. For all this chain of hatreds led backwards, and was concentrated with tenfold virulence in his great hatred for his brother. Paolo, in his estimation, was the author of all the evil, the sole ultimate cause of domestic discord, the arch enemy of the future, the representative, in Marzio's sweeping condemnation, not only of the church and of religion, but of that whole fabric of existing society which the chiseller longed to tear down.

Marzio's socialism, for so he called it, had one good feature. It was sincere of its kind, and disinterested. He was not of the common herd, a lazy vagabond, incapable of continuous work, or of perseverance in any productive occupation, desiring only to be enriched by impoverishing others, one of the endless rank and file of Italian republicans, to whom the word "republic" means nothing but bread without work, and the liberty which consists in howling blasphemies by day and night in the public streets. His position was as different from that of a private in the blackguard battalion as his artistic gifts and his industry were superior to those of the throng. He had money, he had talent, and he had been very successful in his occupation. He had nothing to gain by the revolutions he dreamed of, and he might lose much by any upsetting of the existing laws of property. He was, therefore, perfectly sincere, so far as his convictions went, and disinterested to a remarkable degree. These conditions are often found in the social position of the true fanatic, who is the more ready to run to the greatest length, because he entertains no desire to better his own state. Marzio's real weakness lay in the limited scope of his views, and in a certain timid prudence which destroyed his power of initiative. He was an economical man, who distrusted the future; and though such a disposition produces a good effect in causing a man to save money against the day of misfortune, it is incompatible with the career of the true enthusiast, who must be ready to risk everything at any moment. The man who would move other men, and begin great changes, must have an enormous belief in himself, an unbounded confidence in his cause, and a large faith in the future, amounting to the absolute scorn of consequence.

These greater qualities Marzio did not possess, and through lack of them the stupendous results of which he was fond of talking had diminished to a series of domestic quarrels, in which he was not always victorious. His hatred of the church was practically reduced to the detestation of his brother, and to an unreasoning jealousy of his brother's influence in his home. His horror of social distinctions, which speculated freely upon the destruction of the monarchy, amounted in practice to nothing more offensive than a somewhat studious rudeness towards the few strangers of high position who from time to time visited the workshop in the Via dei Falegnami. In the back room of his inn, Marzio could find loud and cutting words in which to denounce the Government, the monarchy, the church, and the superiority of the aristocracy. In real fact, Marzio took off his hat when he met the king in the street, paid his taxes with a laudable regularity, and increased the small fortune he had saved by selling sacred vessels to the priests against whom he inveighed. Instead of burning the Vatican and hanging the College of Cardinals to the pillars of the Colonnade, Marzio Pandolfi felt a very unpleasant sense of constraint in the presence of the only priest with whom he ever conversed, his brother Paolo. When, on very rare occasions, he broke out into angry invective, and ventured to heap abuse upon the calm individual who excited his wrath, he soon experienced the counter-shock in the shape of a strong conviction that he had injured his position rather than bettered it, and the melancholy conclusion forced itself upon him that by abusing Paolo he himself lost influence in his own house, and not unfrequently called forth the contempt of those he had sought to terrify.

The position was galling in the extreme; for, like many artists who are really remarkable in their profession, Marzio was very vain of his intellectual superiority in other branches. It may be a question whether vanity is not essential to any one who is forced to compete in excellence with other gifted men. Vanity means emptiness, and in the case of the artist it means that emptiness which craves to be filled with praise. The artist may doubt his own work, but he is bitterly disappointed if other people doubt it also. Marzio had his full share of this kind of vanity, which, as in most cases, extended beyond the sphere of his art. How often does one hear two or three painters or sculptors who are gathered together in a studio, laying down the law concerning Government, society, and the distribution of wealth. And yet, though they make excellent statues and paint wonderful pictures, there are very few instances on record of artists having borne any important part in the political history of their times. Not from any want of a desire to do so, in many cases, but from the real want of the power; and yet many of them believe themselves far more able to solve political and social questions than the men who represent them in the Parliament of their country, or the persons who by innate superiority of tact have made themselves the arbiters of society.

Marzio's vanity suffered terribly, for he realised the wide difference that existed between his aims and the result actually produced. For this reason he had determined to bring matters to a point of contention in his household, in order to assert once and for all the despotic authority which he believed to be his right. He knew well enough that in proposing the marriage of Lucia with Carnesecchi, he had hit upon a plan which Paolo would oppose with all his might. It seemed as though he could not have selected a question more certain to produce a hot contention. He had brought forward his proposal boldly, and had not hesitated to make a most virulent personal attack on his brother when the latter had shown signs of opposition. And yet, as he sat over his drawing board, staring at the clouds of smoke that rose from his pipe, he was unpleasantly conscious that he had not been altogether victorious, that he had not played the part of the despot to the end, as he had intended to do, that he had suddenly felt his inferiority to Paolo's calmness, and that upon hearing of the proposition concerning the crucifix he had acted as though he had received a bribe to be quiet. He bit his thin lips as he reflected that all the family must have supposed his silence from that moment to have been the effect of the important commission which Paolo had communicated to him; for it seemed impossible that they should understand the current of his thoughts.

As he glanced at the head he had drawn he understood himself better than others had understood him, for he saw on the corner of the paper the masterly sketch of an ideal Christ he had sought after for years without ever reaching it. He knew that that ideal had presented itself to his mind at the very moment when Paolo had proposed the work to him--the result perhaps, of the excitement under which he laboured at the moment. From that instant he had been able to think of nothing. He had been impelled to draw, and the expression of his thought had driven everything else out of his mind. Paolo had gained a fancied victory by means of a fancied bribe. Marzio determined to revenge himself for the unfair advantage his brother had then taken, by showing himself inflexible in his resolution concerning the marriage. It was but a small satisfaction to have braved Gianbattista's boyish threats, after having seemed to accept the bribe of a priest.

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Marzio's Crucifix - Chapter 4 Marzio's Crucifix - Chapter 4

Marzio's Crucifix - Chapter 4
CHAPTER IVOn the following morning, Marzio left the house earlier than usual Gianbattista had not finished his black coffee, and was not in a humour to make advances to his master, after the scene of the previous evening. So he did not move from the table when the chiseller left the room, nor did he make any remark upon the hour. The door that led to the stairs had hardly closed after Marzio, when Lucia put her head into the room where Gianbattista was seated. "He is gone," said the young man; "come in, we can talk a few minutes." "Tista,"

Marzio's Crucifix - Chapter 2 Marzio's Crucifix - Chapter 2

Marzio's Crucifix - Chapter 2
CHAPTER IIThat 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