Still unrivalled, after the lapse of four centuries the villas of the great cardinals of the Renaissance retain their supremacy over their Italian sisters, not, as once, by reason of their prodigal magnificence but in the appealing charm of their picturesque decay.
that Margherita must disappear, "not for one day, but for ever." I continued my watch until a gust of rain drove me into the house, and I fell asleep to dream that an oubliette lined with the blades of scythes (such as I knew existed in certain old Roman houses) had at Imperia's touch yawned beneath the couch of Margherita; and that the innocent barrier to Raphael's reconciliation with Maria had indeed "dropped from his life."
But I awoke at Chigi's cheery halloo to find that the storms of the previous evening had cleared. Imperia had expressed her readiness to spend the day at Magliana, and my host desired me to select horses for the excursion.
I never saw her gayer than on that day, and when I looked askance as she jested with his Holiness and flirted with Riario, daring him to give a supper in her honour in his new palace, she pressed my foot beneath the table and looked me smilingly in the face, as though striving to assure me that all was well.
But she would not comply with Leo's request for his father's canzone, Quant e bella, which she had sung with such effect the previous evening. She left the gay company while they were all clamoring for more, and