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The Three Cities Trilogy: Rome, Volume 5 by Émile Zola
page 2 of 155 (01%)

This respite brought him some relief amidst the infinite emotion and
grief which gripped his heart. That tragic afternoon which he had spent
in the chamber of death, where Dario and Benedetta now slept the eternal
sleep in one another's arms, had left him very weary. He was haunted by a
wild, dolorous vision of the two lovers, and involuntary sighs came from
his lips whilst tears continually moistened his eyes. He had been
altogether unable to eat that evening. Ah! how he would have liked to
hide himself and weep at his ease! His heart melted at each fresh
thought. The pitiful death of the lovers intensified the grievous feeling
with which his book was instinct, and impelled him to yet greater
compassion, a perfect anguish of charity for all who suffered in the
world. And he was so distracted by the thought of the many physical and
moral sores of Paris and of Rome, where he had beheld so much unjust and
abominable suffering, that at each step he took he feared lest he should
burst into sobs with arms upstretched towards the blackness of heaven.

In the hope of somewhat calming himself he began to walk slowly across
the Piazza of St. Peter's, now all darkness and solitude. On arriving he
had fancied that he was losing himself in a murky sea, but by degrees his
eyes grew accustomed to the dimness. The vast expanse was only lighted by
the four candelabra at the corners of the obelisk and by infrequent lamps
skirting the buildings which run on either hand towards the Basilica.
Under the colonnade, too, other lamps threw yellow gleams across the
forest of pillars, showing up their stone trunks in fantastic fashion;
while on the piazza only the pale, ghostly obelisk was at all distinctly
visible. Pierre could scarcely perceive the dim, silent facade of St.
Peter's; whilst of the dome he merely divined a gigantic, bluey roundness
faintly shadowed against the sky. In the obscurity he at first heard the
plashing of the fountains without being at all able to see them, but on
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