The Marble Faun Volume 1 (Chapter 23)

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Chapter 23 : Page 1 of 11

On leaving the Medici Gardens Miriam felt herself astray in the world;
and having no special reason to seek one place more than another, she
suffered chance to direct her steps as it would. Thus it happened, that,
involving herself in the crookedness of Rome, she saw Hilda's tower
rising before her, and was put in mind to climb to the young girl's
eyry, and ask why she had broken her engagement at the church of the
Capuchins. People often do the idlest acts of their lifetime in their
heaviest and most anxious moments; so that it would have been no wonder
had Miriam been impelled only by so slight a motive of curiosity as we
have indicated. But she remembered, too, and with a quaking heart, what
the sculptor had mentioned of Hilda's retracing her steps towards the
courtyard of the Palazzo Caffarelli in quest of Miriam herself. Had she
been compelled to choose between infamy in the eyes of the whole world,
or in Hilda's eyes alone, she would unhesitatingly have accepted the
former, on condition of remaining spotless in the estimation of her
white-souled friend. This possibility, therefore, that Hilda had
witnessed the scene of the past night, was unquestionably the cause
that drew Miriam to the tower, and made her linger and falter as she
approached it.

As she drew near, there were tokens to which her disturbed mind gave a
sinister interpretation. Some of her friend's airy family, the doves,
with their heads imbedded disconsolately in their bosoms, were huddled
in a corner of the piazza; others had alighted on the heads, wings,
shoulders, and trumpets of the marble angels which adorned the facade
of the neighboring church; two or three had betaken themselves to the
Virgin's shrine; and as many as could find room were sitting on Hilda's
window-sill. But all of them, so Miriam fancied, had a look of weary
expectation and disappointment, no flights, no flutterings, no cooing
murmur; something that ought to have made their day glad and bright
was evidently left out of this day's history. And, furthermore, Hilda's
white window-curtain was closely drawn, with only that one little
aperture at the side, which Miriam remembered noticing the night before.


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