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her conduct was a violation of female delicacy, which he could not have
approved of in his mistress.
“ She thinks not of the pangs which she has inflicted upon the susceptible heart of D'Orsini (said the count, mentally); and for Montalva, a stranger of whom she knows nothing but from report, she breaks through an engagement that ought to be held most sacred; and this is the woman with whom he expects happiness : Alas! Montalva, greatly do I fear that thou wilt find thyself mistaken; but vain would be at present every effort to undeceive thee.”
The next day Montalva presented his friend to Bianca, who received him in the most flattering manner.
“Count D'Rosonio, signora (said Montalva as he introduced Fernando), the kiend of my youth and the brother of my heart, intreats the honor of being known to you; he is most anxious to merit a place in your esteem.”
" If fame speaks truly of the Count D'Rosonio, it is impossible to know without esteeming him (said the signora, as she extended to him her beautiful hand), and his being your friend, sigoor, is a sufficient passport to my favour.”
D'Rosonio made à suitable reply to this speech, and the conversation became general. Montalva had not exaggerated when he spoke of the personal charms of Bianca; she was indeed beautiful, but D’Rosonio thought that an air of illconcealed levity spoiled the effect of her charms; he did not however own his opinion' to Montalva ; who, when they left her, dwelt with rapture upon her perfections.
Montalva now daily spent a portion of his time with the Signora Lupinetti, and D'Rosonio was often of the party. Montalva frequently pressed his lovely mistress to fix a time for their being united, but this she always declined, under one pretence or other.
66 Let us
be better known to each other, (she would say), you have not yet had time to find out half
faults." In vain did the enamoured Montalva protest that he should never be able to discover any; she would not say when she would bless him with her hand, and fearful of offending her, he did not chuse to be too pressing
In the account that Bianca had given him of her contract to Signor D'Orsini, she had not adhered to truth; the vio. lent passion which she pretended the signor felt for her never had existence : while she was his father's ward, D'Orsini had treated her as a sister, and so he would ever have considered her, but for a prepossession which she avowed in his favour. Bianca was of a temper the most inconstant; she fancied that she loved D'Orsini, and her passion made some impression upon his heart; his father, though he felt a regard for Bianca as the child of a deceased friend who had been very dear to him, yet would
not willingly have chosen her for his daughter-in-law; he therefore wished the marriage to be deferred, and his son acquiesced in his desire. No sooner did Bianca become the affianced wife of D'Orsini, than the natural inconstancy of her temper prevailed, and she soon regarded him with indifference. Her passion for Montalva converted indifference into disgust, and she determined to break her engagement to D'Orsini. The signor's pride and spirit rendered this an easy matter; he interrupted the excuses she was making for her perfidy, by an assurance that no excuse was ne eessary.
"As long as I had reason to suppose that your hand would be accompanied by your whole heart, signora (said he, coldly), I would have held the gift dear as my own soul; but, far from reproach. ing, I thank you for the frank avowal you have made, that I no longer possess affections; I willingly resign all your title to your favour, and wish you
happy.” He bowed as he spoke, and retired.
Happy as Bianca felt in her release from an engagement so irksome to her, yet her pride was deeply wounded by the manner in which her liberty was restored, D'Orsini did not however bear the disappointment so calmly as he affected to do; both his heart and his pride were hurt, but he disdained to let bis perfidious mistress see her power, and he determined to seek refuge in flight. He quitted Naples almost immediately: this absence was peculiarly gratifying to Bianca, who lost no time in apprizing Montalva that she was at liberty.
" What dost thou think, Flora (said she to her woman, one night as she was undressing), of Signor Montalva's friend, the Count D'Rosonio; dost thou think him handsome?"
" Oh yes, signora (replied Flora), very handsome, though not as much so