She ate little, and said nothing, for she knew not what to say. I saw that she was suffering, and I pitied her from my heart.
Before going to bed she asked me if I had been to see the duchess. She seemed somewhat cheered when I answered in the negative. I told her that she might satisfy herself of the truth of my reply by asking Philippe, who had taken my note begging her grace to excuse me for that day.
"But will you go another day?"
"No, dearest, because I see it would grieve you."
She gave a sigh of content, and I embraced her gently, and she left me as sad as I was.
I could see that what I asked of her was a great deal; but I had good grounds for hope, as I knew her ardent disposition. It was not God and I that were disputing for her, but her confessor and I. If she had not been a Catholic I should have won her the first day.
She had told me that she would get into trouble with her confessor if she did not go to him as usual; she had too much of fine Spanish honour in her to tell him what was not true, or to endeavour to combine her love with her religion.
The Friday and the Saturday passed without any events of consequence. Her father, who could not blind himself to our love any longer, trusted, I suppose, to his daughter's virtue, and made her dine and sup with me every day. On Saturday evening Donna Ignazia left me sadder than ever, and turned her head away when I would have kissed her as usual. I saw what was the matter; she was going to communicate the next day. I admired her consistency, in spite of myself, and pitied her heartily; for I could guess the storm that must be raging in her breast. I began to repent having demanded all, and wished I had been contented with a little.
I wished to be satisfied with my own eyes, and got up early on Sunday morning and followed her. I knew that she would call for her cousin, so I went on to the church. I placed myself by the sacristy-door, where I could see without being seen.
I waited a quarter of an hour, then they came in, and after kneeling down for a few moments, separated, each going to her own confessor.
I only noticed Donna Ignazia; I saw her going to the confessional, and the confessor turning towards her.
I waited patiently. I thought the confession would never come to an end. "What is he saying?" I repeated to myself as I saw the confessor speaking to her now and again.
I could bear it no longer, and I was on the point of going away when I saw her rise from her knees.
Donna Ignazia, looking like a saint, came to kneel in the church, but out of my sight. I thought she would come forward to receive the Holy Communion at the end of the Mass that was being said, but instead of that she went towards the door, rejoined her cousin and they left the church. I was astonished. My heart was seized with a pang of remorse.
"It's all over," I said to myself. "The poor girl has made a sincere and full confession, she has avowed her love, and the priest's cruel duty has made him refuse her absolution.
"All is lost. What will come of it?"
"My peace of mind and hers require me to leave her.
"Wretch that I am, to have lost all for all! I should have made allowance for the peculiar Spanish character.
"I might have enjoyed her by surprise now and again; the difficulty would have added piquancy to the intrigue. I have behaved as if I were once more twenty, and I have lost all.
"At dinner she will be all sad and tearful. I must find some way out of this terrible situation."
Thus soliloquising, I came home ill pleased with the line of conduct I had adopted.
My hairdresser was waiting for me, but I sent him away, and told my cook not to serve my dinner till I ordered it; then, feeling the need of rest, I flung myself on my bed and slept profoundly till one o'clock.
I got up and ordered dinner to be brought in, and sent a message to the father and daughter that I was expecting them.
My surprise may be imagined when Donna Ignazia appeared in a costume of black velvet, adorned with ribbons and lace.