[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]
.” He looked up, raised both eyebrows.“They put you in a closet, you know, not much more than a box.Even a man my size can’t stand up in there.”I nodded, well aware of how the Republic treated its prisoners, but something he said bothered me.I replied, “It’s my philosophy that men can change if they embrace a new code and resolve to live by it.”His lips pulled in a frown.“A man may walk a new path, but those around him put more faith in his past than his present.Many times the sbirri nab an innocent man.They don’t care.An Inglesi has his purse lifted and wants someone to take the blame.As long as someone—anyone—is punished, he doesn’t care, either.”Aldo slapped his hands on his knees.“Maestro Torani was different.He saw beyond the obvious.Allora, if I can be useful in finding his killer, you have to tell me how.I know you well enough to think you must be on the hunt.”I held his gaze for a breath, then: “Haven’t you heard the talk about how I must have removed Maestro Torani to advance my career?”“Don’t waste my time, Tito.I have to get back to work.”I detected no hesitation in his reply.“All right.” I licked my lips, nodding.“Has anything been removed from Torani’s office?”Aldo dug in the pocket of his linen waistcoat and came up with a brass key that he displayed between thumb and forefinger.“As soon as I got in this morning, I did a sweep of the entire theater.The door to Maestro Torani’s office was locked—just as it’s been since the gondola accident.I let myself in and took a look around.Everything seemed in order.”“Tedi hasn’t been in, perchance?”“No, not for some time.”I told him about her departure for an Alpine spa.The stage manager merely rolled his eyes and muttered something about “perfidious females.” Then he pressed the office key into my palm.“Perhaps you’ll see something I didn’t.”“I need to look through Torani’s scores.”Aldo whistled under his breath.“What? All ten thousand of them?”I nodded.“I’ll need some time—preferably away from prying eyes and without danger of interruption.”Pushing on his knees, Aldo rose from the stone wall.His last words were low and pointed.“Come to the theater tonight then—Ziani has been burning the candle at both ends, but he should be out of his workshop by eleven at the latest.I’ll be waiting at the stage door.”I didn’t move right away, merely watched Aldo saunter up the pavement with his usual bantam rooster strut.Had my old enemy really become my friend?***I eventually scrambled to my feet, dusted off the tails of my jacket, and directed my steps toward home.But not before wiping my neck with my handkerchief as a cover for sending a discreet look in every direction.At several points during my conversation with Aldo, I’d had the uncanny sensation of being observed, that prickling at the back of the neck that forces you to turn and scan the scenery behind you.Scarface hadn’t followed us, and I’d identified no one on the canal or the pavement who didn’t seem to be going about his day-to-day duties.Besides, the stage manager and I had been talking softly in the open air.No one could have possibly overheard without giving his presence away.But as I entered the Cannaregio, the feeling of being watched returned emphatically.My neighborhood consisted of long, straight canals bordered by wide pavements, a gondolier’s dream.Connecting these main thoroughfares were slender threads of water crossed by bridges of wood, stone, or iron.I stopped in the exact center of one of the crooked bridges that doglegged into the intersection of two calli.The surrounding three-story houses rose straight up from the water, framing a rectangle of sky.Against that pale canvas, gray clouds scudded in shifting layers.I propped my back against the bridge’s iron railing and gazed upwards as if assessing our chance of rain.I feigned that pose for some minutes, keeping my expression unconcerned but my muscles expectant and tense.If any lurker had business with me, I was handing him—or her—a very tempting invitation.No one responded—and it really did look like we were in for a storm.Pushing more deeply into the Cannaregio, I decided that one of Messer Grande’s spies must have been detailed to keep a discreet eye on me.My foray into Peretti’s coffee house had proved disconcerting in more ways than one: it was obvious that at least some of my musical comrades were taking it for granted that I’d killed Torani and would soon be arrested.I had to wonder exactly where I stood on Andrea’s present list of suspects.Fat raindrops bounced off the pavement just as I came in sight of the house.I ran the last few yards.Liya heard me jiggling the latch and came to open the door herself.A strand of her long black hair had escaped her chignon, and her eyes looked weary.“Where’s Benito?” I asked.Since my manservant was no longer needed to care for my costumes at the theater, he had taken on more responsibility around the house.Minding the door was one of them.“Come into the sitting room, Tito.”One candle burned there, on the table where Liya had been studying her cards.Instead of being laid out in their usual neat array, the brightly-colored rectangles were scattered across the tabletop as if a child had been playing with them.One had fallen to the floor.I returned it to the table—a winged angel pouring water from a pitcher into a chalice of wine.From previous discussions I knew this card represented Temperance and Harmony.I could use some of that.My wife clapped her hands for the maid, and the girl stepped in from the hallway.Liya told her to bring wine, and after a sharp glance at me, a plate of bread, olives, and cheese.“Liya…” I began uneasily [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]