him; they would not speak to him for a month; they would cut off his allowance; they had a hundred other plans for his discomfiture. With the mother it was only talk; but the father meant what he said. He was a good but hard man, averse to compromises, and violent in his anger; his son knew it and feared him. It was incomprehensible that the lad should have ventured upon such a step.
The news of the 20th of September only increased the resentment of his parents.
"He will see," they muttered. "Only let him try to come back!"
Their words, their gestures, the manner in which they were to receive him, were all thought out and agreed upon: he was to receive a memorable lesson.
On the morning of the 22d. they were all seated in the dining-room, reading, when there was a great knock at the door, and the boy, flushed, panting, sunburnt, stood erect and motionless on the threshold.
No one moved.
"What!" cried the boy, extending his arms in amazement, "you have n't heard the news?"
No one answered.
"Has n't any one told you? Has no one been out from Florence? Are you all in the dark still?"
No one breathed.