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`Cesare, don't lose your temper ...'
`Don't what?' He almost bared his teeth at her, his
eyes black with rage. 'Woman, keep out of this! Women
have caused enough trouble as it is! Woolly thinking
and clouded emotionalism! My God, there is going to be
a reckoning for this! Giulio will think himself lucky if
he escapes without being strangled ! How dare he ! Black-
mail my mother! I'll kill him ...'
She clung to him apprehensively. 'Please, don't do any-
thing violent!'
A devil seemed to be leaping mercilessly in the grey
eyes. He turned upon her a look that froze the blood in
her veins. 'Don't talk to me of violence! I have been
civilised and restrained for far too long. It is time there
was some violence!'
With a twist of his arm he flung her off and stalked
away. Amanda hesitated, wondering whether to follow
him or to go back to the Contessa. But if she did rejoin
the Contessa, what could she tell her which would com-
fort her? She would bear nothing but ill tidings to her
aunt. She decided instead to hurry after Cesare in the
hope of averting, somehow, the worst of the brewing
As she fled down the street after Cesare's striding
figure she became aware of stares and curious exclama-
tions. Even in her modern dress she was now recog-
nisable, she realised, with a sinking heart. How long
would it take to live down that ghastly pageant?
`Hi, Beatrice ... hey, can I take a snap of you ?' A
cheerful young American hailed her.
She smiled sweetly at him, but pretended not to under-
stand English. She scurried past him and dived down a
dark alley which led directly to Giulio's shop. Ahead of
her Cesare still strode, oblivious of the interest their pro-
gress aroused in the citizens who knew them both.
As they drew nearer to the antique shop Amanda
heard muffled sounds which alarmed her. The closer she
came the louder the sounds grew until she was certain
what they were ...
She was hearing angry shouting and the smashing of
fragile objects!
A small crowd had gathered already outside Giulio's
shop. They backed slightly as Cesare approached, scent-
ing both danger to themselves and an escalation of the
exciting violence.
Cesare glared at them. 'Have you nothing better to do
than gape there all day ?' he demanded ferociously.
They uneasily moved back under his stare, like sheep
under the eyes of a wolf, but as soon as Cesare had
stalked into the shop they scurried back to hear what
Amanda, arriving a moment later, squeezed her way
to the front of the crowd and vanished inside the shop,
too. A whisper ran round the crowd as they watched
Giulio and Piero were in the back of the shop, out of-
view of the crowd outside, although their voices were
loud enough to explain what was going on between
them. Broken glass and china lay scattered around the
floor. Giulio was white and tense, and Piero was looking
more like Cesare than she had ever seen him look. His
handsome face was tougher and more masculine. His
eyes were chips of ice.
`You low-down, sneaking bastard!' he snarled at Giu-
lio. 'I'm going to break your neck!'
`That is my privilege, I think,' Cesare drawled, step-
ping forward.
Piero shot him a look. Giulio began to wear a desper-
ate air. One Druetso was bad enough; two of them was
too much to swallow. Piero said tautly, 'Look, Cesare,
keep out of this. It is my affair. This piece of flotsam used
me as a lever to get the things out of Mamma '
`But she's my mother, too,' said Cesare. 'I have a right
to join in, don't I?'
`Can't you let me handle anything on my own? I'm
capable of sorting out Giulio, don't you worry ...'
'I am the defender of the family honour, not you,'
Cesare said. 'You forget that!'
`Forget it? Who could forget it? With that damned
hawk everywhere we look ... on the seal, in the paint-
ings, on the walls, in the tapestries ... the whole of San
Volenco is dominated by you and your damned symbol
of authority! How could anyone forget you, Cesare?'
They faced each other belligerently, looking oddly
alike. Amanda watched as Giulio, taking advantage of
their absorption, began to creep away on tiptoe.
Then she said cheerfully, 'He's sneaking off, boys!'
The two Druetso men swung as one and lunged for
him. Cesare caught him by the left arm, Piero by the
right. Cesare grinned at his brother.
`So what shall we do with this rat?'
`Throw him and his girl-friend out of the city for
good,' Piero nodded. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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