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and over again of his indebtedness to the military.
A few days later Prince Filippo honours Paolina and little
Anna with a personal visit. ‘For as long as you wish, you may
remain my guest,’ he reassures Paolina, observing with distaste the
wounds on her face. The girl falls on her knees at the feet of the
governor, who waves aside her thanks. ‘You are lucky to have
befriended the red-haired priest. He speaks highly of you, and I
understand he has rescued you both from an utterly unendurable
predicament.’ Paolina nods, choked once more with pain and
anguish. The prince stares at Annina. She reminds him of his
youngest daughter, Theodora. ‘Let me know if I may be of any
further service to you,’ he says, turning to leave. It gives him
pleasure to offer them his hospitality, although he has no desire for
Vivaldi to make a habit of such gestures.
With each day Paolina recovers a little more the habit of speech,
although she manages to avoid all questions concerning her former
domestic situation. Her wounds are soon healed and in appearance
she is as lovely as ever. And yet something in her is broken. Her
proud, joyous and self-assured outer shell has suffered a devastating
blow. Any sudden loud noise sends her running pale and skittish
for a corner, looking round nervously to make sure Annina is safe.
It’s always a false alarm, of course, and she ends up laughing
apologetically, telling Vivaldi how silly she is. But he senses her
fear and anxiety and knows he cannot leave her alone for long.
Annina is the first to recover. She does not fancy being
cooped up in her room and prefers to be off all day on outings of
discovery, chatting merrily with the other occupants of the gallery.
She soon establishes a special relationship with the lady vocalists,
and exploits to the full this surprising new world she finds herself
in. Paolina takes longer to adjust. Vivaldi visits her each day and
makes sure there is always enough to eat in the house. In his own
way, he looks after her, and as her strength and confidence return
he asks whether she might be interested in working for him; it
would provide her with an income and give her a change to shape
231
197-248 Chapter 5.indd 231 22-11-2007 14:11:18
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