The Arrow of Gold
It was on our return from that first trip that I took Dominic up to the Villa to be presented
to Dona Rita. If she wanted to look on the embodiment of fidelity, resource, and courage,
she could behold it all in that man. Apparently she was not disappointed. Neither was
Dominic disappointed. During the half-hour's interview they got into touch with each
other in a wonderful way as if they had some common and secret standpoint in life.
Maybe it was their common lawlessness, and their knowledge of things as old as the
world. Her seduction, his recklessness, were both simple, masterful and, in a sense,
worthy of each other.
Dominic was, I won't say awed by this interview. No woman could awe Dominic. But he
was, as it were, rendered thoughtful by it, like a man who had not so much an experience
as a sort of revelation vouchsafed to him. Later, at sea, he used to refer to La Senora in a
particular tone and I knew that henceforth his devotion was not for me alone. And I
understood the inevitability of it extremely well. As to Dona Rita she, after Dominic left
the room, had turned to me with animation and said: "But he is perfect, this man."
Afterwards she often asked after him and used to refer to him in conversation. More than
once she said to me: "One would like to put the care of one's personal safety into the
hands of that man. He looks as if he simply couldn't fail one." I admitted that this was
very true, especially at sea. Dominic couldn't fail. But at the same time I rather chaffed
Rita on her preoccupation as to personal safety that so often cropped up in her talk.
"One would think you were a crowned head in a revolutionary world," I used to tell her.
"That would be different. One would be standing then for something, either worth or not
worth dying for. One could even run away then and be done with it. But I can't run away
unless I got out of my skin and left that behind. Don't you understand? You are very
stupid . . ." But she had the grace to add, "On purpose."
I don't know about the on purpose. I am not certain about the stupidity. Her words
bewildered one often and bewilderment is a sort of stupidity. I remedied it by simply
disregarding the sense of what she said. The sound was there and also her poignant heart-
gripping presence giving occupation enough to one's faculties. In the power of those
things over one there was mystery enough. It was more absorbing than the mere obscurity
of her speeches. But I daresay she couldn't understand that.
Hence, at times, the amusing outbreaks of temper in word and gesture that only
strengthened the natural, the invincible force of the spell. Sometimes the brass bowl
would get upset or the cigarette box would fly up, dropping a shower of cigarettes on the
floor. We would pick them up, re-establish everything, and fall into a long silence, so
close that the sound of the first word would come with all the pain of a separation.
It was at that time, too, that she suggested I should take up my quarters in her house in
the street of the Consuls. There were certain advantages in that move. In my present