to respond. Filippo’s forehead is deeply furrowed as he gazes at the
photograph of his son in its heavy silver frame upon his desk.
‘What sort of sum are we talking about?’ Giordano breaks the
Professor Gentili raises his shoulders. ‘We are still in
negotiations, Signor, but what interests me right now is whether or
not you agree to the idea.’
Francesco has meanwhile appeared in the doorway again.
Filippo walks up to the professor and, already gently shaking hands
goodbye, draws him towards the door. He thanks him for their
discussion, and then pauses before ﬁnally letting the professor go.
‘I would like to invite you to spend the weekend at our mansion,’ he
says. ‘My wife would enjoy meeting you and I am quite sure she will
be interested in what you have to say.’ He turns to his secretary,
‘Francesco! Ensure that transport is arranged for the professor, and
send in my next appointment in a minute or so.’ Giordano again
shakes the professor by the hand, heartily this time. Then shuts the
door behind him and turns back to his desk.
The professor takes his coat and hat from the still hostile-
looking Francesco, who informs him coolly that his taxi is waiting
below. As he swiftly descends the marble staircase, Alberto Gentili
wonders whether or not he should rejoicing. Will Giordano be
prepared to unite the two halves of the collection and so preserve it?
Filippo Giordano stares transﬁxed at the photograph of his son.
Might this be a way, after all, to alleviate a little of his his wife’s
grief? He has little time to consider, for Francesco ushers in the
government representative. Giordano takes an immediate dislike to
this stunted, balding ﬁgure: a stereotype of the classical accountant.
In an unpleasantly sour little voice, and without deviating for a
moment from his mission, the man announces that the majority of
revenue proﬁts from Giordano’s business are to be reserved for the
new and self-evidently promising plans of Il Duce. It is naturally a
great honour for this factory to be allowed to make such a
05-14 Prologue UK.indd 13 22-11-2007 14:08:41