Thursday, March 24, 1870
“I don’t pretend to understand,” he’d told her.
There was a long silence.
“No one can understand. It is …”
“Don’t try to explain, not to help me: I’ll never understand. Yet I feel something … you love your wife, don’t you?”
He nodded. “Is there a need for you to—”
She cut in, shook her head back and forth with furious movement. “I won’t say anything. It’s not my business, not why I’m here … unless you poisoned your mother.”
Guido was silent. “Poisoned her love for me.”
“I have a secret, too, my own private hell, not so intriguing as yours, but perhaps as damning, and one that I am lucky enough to have kept hidden. For my sake and for my children, I hope it is never revealed. Not so crushing as committing murder; not so beguiling as an affair with the king, but my secret I’ll not tell you or anyone, not in exchange for feigned complicity or to ease your discomfort. I’m not that generous and you may not believe this, but my secret is far worse than yours. I feel it now, a churning in my stomach.”