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The Church of the Capuchins (where, as the reader may remember, some of
our acquaintances had made an engagement to meet) stands a little aside
from the Piazza Barberini. Thither, at the hour agreed upon, on the
morning after the scenes last described, Miriam and Donatello directed
their steps. At no time are people so sedulously careful to keep their
trifling appointments, attend to their ordinary occupations, and thus
put a commonplace aspect on life, as when conscious of some secret that
if suspected would make them look monstrous in the general eye.
Yet how tame and wearisome is the impression of all ordinary things in
the contrast with such a fact! How sick and tremulous, the next morning,
is the spirit that has dared so much only the night before! How icy cold
is the heart, when the fervor, the wild ecstasy of passion has faded
away, and sunk down among the dead ashes of the fire that blazed so
fiercely, and was fed by the very substance of its life! How faintly
does the criminal stagger onward, lacking the impulse of that strong
madness that hurried him into guilt, and treacherously deserts him in
the midst of it!
When Miriam and Donatello drew near the church, they found only Kenyon
awaiting them on the steps. Hilda had likewise promised to be of the
party, but had not yet appeared. Meeting the sculptor, Miriam put a
force upon herself and succeeded in creating an artificial flow
of spirits, which, to any but the nicest observation, was quite as
effective as a natural one. She spoke sympathizingly to the sculptor on
the subject of Hilda's absence, and somewhat annoyed him by alluding in
Donatello's hearing to an attachment which had never been openly avowed,
though perhaps plainly enough betrayed. He fancied that Miriam did not
quite recognize the limits of the strictest delicacy; he even went so
far as to generalize, and conclude within himself, that this deficiency
is a more general failing in woman than in man, the highest refinement
being a masculine attribute.