In December 1886 Count Andrea Sperelli waits in her chambers for the beloved. The refined atmosphere evokes memories – these things touched Elena’s hands, Elena’s eyes fell on these pictures and curtains, the smell of these flowers intoxicated Elena. When she bent down to the fireplace, her figure looked like Dana Correggio. Two years passed, and Elena must again cross the threshold of the room. A great farewell took place on March 25, 1885. This date forever crashed into the memory of Andrea. Why did Elena leave, why did she renounce the love that bound them forever? Now she is married: a few months after her sudden departure from Rome, she married a British aristocrat.
Andrea hears steps on the stairs, rustling dresses.
She was inexpressibly beautiful. She had such a rich timbre of voice that the most banal phrases acquired in her mouth some hidden meaning. When Andrea saw the first glimmer of tenderness in her eyes, he told himself enthusiastically that he was waiting for an unparalleled pleasure. The very next day they smiled at each other, like lovers. Soon she gave herself to him, and Rome shone for them a new light. The Church of the Aventine Hill, the noble garden of St. Mary Priory, the bell tower of St. Mary in Cosmedin – everyone knew about their love. They both did not know the measure of the extravagance of the soul and body. He liked to close his eyelids in anticipation of a kiss, and when her lips touched him, he barely held back the Scream, and then he himself began to shower it with small, frequent kisses, leading to exhaustion with caresses and causing him to burn in a flame of passion.
In the first days after his separation, he was so keenly aware of fits of desire and pain that he seemed to die from them. Meanwhile, the connection with Elena Muti raised him in the eyes of the ladies to an unattainable height. All women were possessed by a vainglorious thirst for possession. Andrea could not resist the temptation. He passed from one love to another with incredible ease, and the habit of deception dulled his conscience. The news of Helen’s marriage wiped out the old wound: in every naked woman he sought to find the ideal nakedness of the former lover. Taking care of the bottom of Hippolytus Albonico, the Count of Sprelli brutally insulted her lover and in a duel received a sword in the chest.
The Marquise d’Atalete took her cousin to her estate – to recover or die. Sperrelli survived. For him came the period of purification. All the vanity, cruelty and lies of his existence disappeared somewhere. He again discovered the forgotten impressions of his childhood, again surrendered to art and began to form sonnets. Elena seemed to him now distant, lost, dead. He was free and felt the desire to give himself to a higher, more pure love. In early September, the cousin told him that a girlfriend would soon visit her. Maria Bandinelli recently returned to Italy with her husband, the Plenipotentiary Minister of Guatemala.
Maria Ferres struck the young man with his mysterious smile, luxurious magnificent hair and a voice that seemed to combine two timbres – female and male. This magic voice reminded him of someone, and when Maria began to sing, accompanying herself on the piano, he almost cried. From that moment on, he mastered the need for meek adoration – he felt blissful at the thought that he was breathing the same air as she. But jealousy had already begun to stir in his heart: all of Mary’s thoughts were occupied by her daughter, and he wanted to have it entirely, not her body, but the soul that belonged to the little Delphine.
-Maria Ferres remained faithful to the girl’s habit of recording all the joys, sorrows, hopes and impulses of the past day. In a few days after the arrival of Francesca d’Atalet’s estate on the page of the diary, Count Sperelli completely occupied. In vain Maria tried to persuade herself not to succumb to the overwhelming feeling, appealing to prudence and wisdom. Even a daughter, who always brought her healing, was powerless – Maria loved for the first time in her life. Her perception became so acute that She penetrated the mystery of her friend Francesca, she was hopelessly in love with her cousin. On October 3rd, the inevitable happened – Andrea snatched from Maria the confession. But before leaving she returned to him a volume of Shelley, emphasizing the fingernail two lines: “Forget me, for I will never be yours!”
Soon Andrea left his sister’s estate. Friends immediately involved him in the maelstrom of social life. Met one of the former mistresses at the raut, he plunged into the abyss of pleasure with one leap. On New Year’s Eve, he collided on the street with Elena Muti. The first movement of his soul was to reunite with her – to conquer her again. Then doubts arose, and he was filled with confidence that the previous miracle would not be resurrected. But when Elena came to him to quit the cruel “farewell”, he suddenly felt a raging thirst to crush this idol.
Sperelli gets acquainted with Elena’s husband. Lord Hysfield inspires him with hatred and disgust – the more he wants to master a beautiful woman, to be fed up with her and forever free from it, for all his thoughts are now owned by Mary. He uses the most sophisticated tricks in order to win a new lover and return the former. He was given a rare, great female feeling – a true passion. Realizing this, he becomes the executioner of himself and the poor creature. They are walking with Maria in Rome. On the terrace of the Villa Medici columns are covered with inscriptions of lovers, and Maria recognizes the hand of Andrea – two years ago he dedicated a poem to Goethe to Elena Muti.
Lord Hysfield shows Andrea the richest collection of depraved books and obscene drawings. The Englishman knows what kind of action they have on men, and with a mocking smile follows the former lover’s wife. When Andrea completely loses her head, Elena scornfully sends him away. Offended to the depths of his soul, he rushes away and meets his kind angel – Mary. They visit the grave of beloved poet Percy Shelley and kiss for the first time. Maria is so shocked that she wants to die. And it would be better if she died then.
It becomes known that the plenipotentiary minister of Guatemala was a scamper and fled. Maria is disgraced and ruined. She needs to go to her mother, to Siena. She comes to Andrea to give him the first and last night of love. A young man throws himself at her with all the madness of passion. Suddenly she breaks out from his embrace, hearing the name she already knows. Sobbing Andrea tries to explain something, screams and begs – the answer is the knocking of a slammed door. On June 20 he comes to the sale of the property of the plenipotentiary minister of Guatemala and, panting with despair, wanders through empty rooms.