The End Of The Rainbow – Episode 77

He awoke with a start, unsure at first of where he was. The room was in shadow, a sliver of blue showing where a window shutter was slightly ajar. He was lying on top of a wonderfully soft bed with a feather pillow, his boots neatly standing sentinel over his battered valise which now stood by the bed. He sat up, memories of his fainting fit gradually coming back and making him feel foolish.There was a carafe of water and a glass on the bedside table. He drank thirstily, then pushed the shutter back. A tumble of terracotta roofs fell away down the slope below to the huge shining expanse of the lake, the blue sky reflected in it. He breathed a sigh of sheer delight.The door behind him opened and his rescuers stood there, beaming.“Bene, bene!” The little lady with the silver hair clapped her hands.“You are well now?” her husband chimed in, and suddenly Adam knew that everything was going to be all right.His host was a woodcarver, the room with the starry ceiling his shop and workshop combined. He introduced himself as Giacomo and his wife as Rosa, and told Adam that he had “a little English” and “a little French” which he had learned from the stream of tourists who had come to his shop over the years. Proudly, he showed Adam round. Every flat surface was crammed with exquisitely carved angels of every description. Adam picked up a cherub which had been exquisitely painted with delicate touches of gilding.“This is beautiful! It’s like a Botticelli angel.”Giacomo beamed.“Botticelli, great artist. And you? You are artist?” He tapped Adam’s fingers. “The hands of an artist. I know these things.”Amazed, Adam nodded and began to tell Giacomo haltingly of his journey from Paris. The tale was interrupted by Rosa, who clapped her hands.“Come,” she commanded. “Mangiare!”“We eat,” Giacomo announced, pushing Adam gently towards the room behind the workshop.That evening, as the sun set over Lake Como, Adam sat by the window, the shutters thrown wide, drinking in the beauty of Bellagio. Giacomo and Rosa had insisted that he stay here in their little house at least for a few days, until their son returned from a business trip to Milan, where he sold some of his father’s wares. Adam smiled to himself, thinking himself fortunate to have fainted right outside Giacomo’s door. Now, at least, he would have time to find other lodgings, although he wasn’t minded to look up the contact Rhuari had given him. Adam Gray didn’t like to be beholden to anyone. Remembering that the remainder of his reserve of money was in his valise, he dragged it towards him. In any case, he’d need fresh clothes . . .At first, he didn’t notice the piece of paper that fluttered to the floor as he unpacked. Then he came upon gloves of pale grey with pearl buttons at the wrist. The scent of freesias wafted through the room.Adam stared at the gloves in disbelief.“Constance!” His heart began to pound as if it would burst from his chest.He had lit the lamp on the bedside table. On it Constance’s gloves lay as Adam read and reread the scrap of paper which had been Rhuari’s hasty note. At last, he sat there, head in hands, despair enveloping him like a vast, smothering blanket.Constance had come all the way to Montmartre. But only to see him with Madeleine and to take flight, and now he might never see her again! All he had left were . . .“Gloves. Her gloves.” He stared at them, still almost disbelieving.He lost track of how long he’d sat there, with the note and the gloves in his hand, until he was roused by the chill from the open window. He quenched the lamp, closed the shutters and lay on the bed, fully dressed as if ready for flight until dawn broke. Then he realised that he hadn’t slept a wink . . .


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