‘I should hope so. But what will you do with them?’

He picked up his cup and found it empty, but he didn’t want to go to the bother of making more coffee. The man who had had the stones was dead, and it seemed the cause they were perhaps meant to aid was lost. They lay in a bank, inert, without real value until someone placed it on them. ‘I don’t know,’ he admitted.

‘What do you want to do?’ Paola asked.

‘About the diamonds?’

‘No, about today.’

When she spoke, Brunetti realized that, though he had walked down to Sant’ Aponal an hour ago, he had paid no attention to the day. He looked out of the window, towards the mountains, and when he saw them in the distance, he realized the day was clear. ‘I’d like to walk down to Sant’Elena and then go out to Lido and take a walk on the beach,’ he said.

‘A purification ritual?’ she asked with her first smile.

He shrugged. They remained silent for some time until Brunetti said, ‘If Claudio sold them, Don Alvise could see that the money got to people who need help.’

‘It’s better than keeping them in the bank,’ Paola said.

‘And it’s better than what the money was supposed to be used for,’ Brunetti said, but instantly added, ‘I think.’

His mood suddenly lightened and he got to his feet to make more coffee. He paused and looked out of the window again, at the distant mountains, covered with snow now: pure, aloof, eternally unconcerned with the lusts and desires of men. ‘I’ll wait for you to get dressed,’ he said. ‘And then we’ll go for a walk.’

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