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.This, she did not show.What she let transpire was a hint of vexed concern, sharp like a blade kept half-hidden but capable of cutting.“Thank you.What do you ask in exchange?”“Nothing.”“Nothing?”“Here.” He handed her a paper he had been scribbling on.“This is a safe-conduct for you to drive home.”When she rose from the chair, the gloves she’d placed on her lap slipped to the floor from it, like lacy birds.Falling like a condescending, unthinking part of her – the glimpse made him ache as if he had seen an intimate part of her revealed and untouchable.Before he could reach for them she’d rescued them at her feet and the image was gone.Across the surface of the desk, Mrs Murphy extended her hand to him and he did not take it, but lowered his head in a stolid, repressed military salute.She left the room.He sat at his desk for some time after her departure.Not to relax, because the opposite was happening.He felt a dangerous need to give in.Worse, a lowered threshold of tolerance, reached and passed already.He regretted letting her go without at least exacting from her the toll of accepting his reasons.Couldn’t she tell? And if she could tell, why did she not say, “I cannot, but I understand”?Holding the line was no longer enough.He had run on borrowed time and borrowed calm for a full year, putting up a nearly infrangible front of self-control and even cheerfulness, and he saw now that not having taken time to confront crises only multiplied their weight.For the past year he had functioned at an increasing pace but only by inertia, as though speed were gained down the emotional incline he was traveling.Tonight he could no longer hold the line.Her coming had somehow torn resolve from him.The fabric inside was beginning to rend, fraying the weave.What was wrong with him? He could not think.Nothing he thought would not hurt.Tonight not one care allowed itself to be stashed away.From the inner shelves of his orderly mind things were falling of their own accord, and refused to be put back.He let them come down, unwilling to scramble them into their holes.He drove through the sad streets of Rome to get away from himself, nearly to the Vatican and back toward – but not to – St John’s Square.He drove circuitously, and finally to Via Monserrato, where he was tossed by an inexorable feeling of being lost and without reprieve.Donna Maria’s old doorway was like a shore to him.She kept entirely quiet even after Bora walked into her music room.She had been horribly anxious for him, and now that he was here she sensed that although he was physically unhurt something was very wrong.But she knew men, and how they do not want to be asked as they first come in, so she sat with her bobbin lace at hand, following the pattern drawn by pins on the cushion, deftly criss-crossing the ivory pieces.Bora had taken his cap off and unbuckled his holster belt, tossed the weight of leather and metal on the armchair, was undoing his collar.She could follow his movements without lifting her eyes, by the rustle of cloth when he removed his tunic and threw it on the back of the same armchair.It slipped off from it with a soft sleek sound of lining.The car keys were coming out of the breeches’ pocket.His boots silently crossed the carpet as he walked over to the piano to lay the keys on it.She could hear him heave and looked up at last.Bora stood in the middle of the room, lips tight, blinking hard to keep control but fast losing it.She felt him break down inside, piecemeal, so quickly that no wilful opposition to it could avail.A long time she had been waiting for this, unsure that she wanted to witness it.The lace-making pillow left her lap for the basket alongside her, because a woman’s knees are where sometimes men are brought by great anguish and grief.Still she did not look at him, out of pity mostly.How long since a man had come to her to cry.1029 MAY 1944Sandro Guidi realized that if the Germans were involved in the killing at St John Lateran’s, no photos of the victim would be forthcoming.What summary information about the incident available at the police station on Monday was useless, and he’d put her out of his mind when Danza came in to hand him a leaflet claiming the dead woman’s affiliation to a resistance group.On a hunch – he was not yet worried, just uneasy – Guidi called the Maiulis to ask for Francesca.The maid answered that the couple was out, and as far as she knew, Signorina Lippi was at work.At lunch he drove to the address Francesca had given him as her mother’s.When he rang, a middle-aged woman came leerily to open.Before long, they were sitting across from one another.She kept her hand on a pack of cigarettes, so that Guidi wouldn’t see they were a German brand – but he had already.In the small kitchen, a sword of sunshine created dancing reflections on the tiled wall.She yawned.There were deep circles under her eyes, but her eyes were beautiful.The beauty of her face was different from Francesca’s: there was a disillusioned, yet less harsh cast on it, as though life had dealt differently with her, or she had reacted differently to it [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]