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THE evening of Lord George Segrave's
dinner-party was the first occasion on
which Cesare de' Barletti had given his
wife a glimpse of the brute fury that was
latent under his gentle, lazy demeanour.
They had had quarrels before; lovers'
quarrels; in which Cesare had protested
against Veronica's cruelty, and Veronica
had played off her despotic airs, and they
had both been vehement, and demonstrative,
and childish. And the end of such
quarrels had invariably been to bring back
Cesare humbly imploring pardon at the
feet of the triumphant beauty. But never
had his looks and tones been such as met
her astonished eyes and ears on that
miserable evening.

And there was no deep repentance afterwards,
no humble suing for pardon on his
part. He approached her the next morning
with a smile, and a kiss, and when she
drew back in dumb resentment, he merely
shrugged his shoulders, lit his cigar, and
sauntered off into the stable-yard.

In truth Cesare considered himself to be
the injured person. His wife, by her
inconceivably absurd temper, had led him
into an error, which error had thrown him
into a rage. That was no trifle. Cesare was
always particularly careful not to fly into
a passion if he could avoid it. And his
temper was so indolently mild in general
that he had no great difficulty in avoiding
frequent ebullitions of anger.

To an unaccustomed English eye, indeed,
he might have seemed to be in paroxysms
of fury on many occasions when his feelings
were scarcely stirred. He had the national
characteristic of instantly translating slight
and superficial emotions into very violent
outward expression by means of voice, face,
and gesture, and of thus working off
excitement at a cheap cost, if the phrase may
pass. But whenever angry emotion went
beyond the slight and superficial stage with
him, it was apt to become very terribly
intense indeed; and to assume the form of
personal hatred, and a deadly desire of
vengeance against the object of it.

To talk to Cesare Barletti about hating
a sin, but pardoning a sinner, or to use any
phrase involving a similar idea, would have
appeared to him very much like uttering
meaningless jargon. He never conceived
or thought of anything in an abstract form.
The unseenthe intangiblehad no power
over his imagination. Hate a sin, indeed!
Why should he hate a sin? Che, che! But
he could hate a sinner or a saint either, if
need werewith a relentless animosity of
which it would be difficult to exaggerate
the bitterness.

On the occasion in question, however,
his anger had been merely evanescent. It
was all an absurdity and a mistake. What
if a man did express his opinion that such
and such people were too rigid in their
notions to desire to associate with Veronica?
Well, so much the worse for such and such
people, as he had said to his wife. He had
all his life heard about English prudery.
There were even persons who objected to
play cards, and to go to the opera. Was
he to distress himself about that?
Veronica was Princess Cesare de' Barletti.
That was sufficient with persons who knew
the world. He would permit no man to
insult the Princess Cesare de' Barletti with