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The count rejected her offer with all the contempt which he thought her conduct merited; and maddened by the scorn with which he treated her, she dismissed Montalva ; whom she vowed never to see again.
D'Rosonio was with his friend, when he received a letter from Bianca, announcing her determination.
“ Vile, perfidious woman! (exclaimed Montalva, as he perused it ;) but I will be revenged. I swear by heaven! that thou shalt dearly expiate thy falsehood: read that accursed scroll, Fernando, and tell me what such a wretch deserves."
“ Punishment, undoubtedly, (replied the count); but leave her to the vengeance of heaven.
How couldst thou punish her ? (He paused, but Montalva was silent.) Thou wouldst not now marry her;" continued the count.
Marry her! (repeated Montalva in a tone of scorn,) thou dost not think so
meanly of me; marry, no by heaven! were she a Venus, with the dowry of a princess, I would reject her with scorn and abhorrence; but there are ways to humble her ; I will possess myself of her lovely person, I will enjoy the triumph of seeing her kneel at my feet to supplicate for that hand which she now so insolently rejects, and I will spurn her from me.”
“ Good heaven! Montalva, what dost thou say, (cried the astonished count); surely my friend will not turn ravisher; will not for ever stamp his name with disgrace and infamy. Heaven knows, Stephano, how dear thou art to my heart ; but could I for a moment believe thee serious; could I suppose
that ought but rage and disappointment urged thee to talk thus, I would instantly renounce thee. Leave this perfidious woman to her own conscience, that will sooner or later avenge thee; and in other pursuits thou wilt soon forget one, who was never worthy of thy love."
Montalva heard the count with stilled rage, but he resolved to dissemble.
“I thank thee my friend, (said he), my cooler judgment would have suggested what thou hast said; but passion mastered reason ; we will speak of this no more.”
D'Rosonio embraced him. (cried he,) I recognise my friend; that was spoken like Montalva. Come, will you accompany me to the Palazzo Romaldi? The lovely marquise has to-night a brilliant party, and the gaiety of the scene will amuse you."
Montalva consented, and they went. The marquise's guests, were as usual, the most elegant people in Naples; and Montalva in the midst of a circle of beauties appeared to have forgotten his chagrin : but his gaiety was entirely dissembled, his mind was occupied with schemes of vengeance on Bianca ; but as he feared that D'Rosonio might interfere with his project, he resolved to lull the count's suspicions asleep, by affecting a tranquillity that he was far from feeling The ingenuous D’Rosonio, who had not an idea that Montalva would deceive him, was completely the dupe of his artifice; and rejoiced to see that he had banished the unworthy Bianca from his mind.
While Montalva was arranging a plan for carrying off the Signora Lupinetti, she suddenly left Naples; nor could be discover where she was gone. Montalva's rage at this event knew no bounds; he fancied that D'Rosonio suspected his intentions and had given Bianca intimation of them; and this supposition created in his bosom the greatest enmity to the count; nor could the favours which D'Rosonio daily lavished upon him, excite in return a spark of gratitude : on the contrary, when he reflected that Bianca's fortune would have rendered himn as affluent as his cousin, he inwardly execrated the count as the cause of his losing it.
Montalva, soon after the affair with
Bianca, entered into the army; and the count's interest and fortune were so greatly serviceable to him, that he obtained rapid promotion; his opinion of the fair sex, never good, had been rendered worse by Bianca's perfidy; and he vowed that riches only should tempt him to marry.
D'Rosonio became enamoured of the beautiful Maria De Velorno. Nature had been lavish of her gifts to Maria; her person was lovely, and her mind was the seat of every virtue ; her birth and fortune rendered her a suitable wife for the count, who proposed for her, and was accepted.
The marriage of Fernando and his Maria, was an event far from pleasing to Montalva, who often visited the castle of the count; and bitter were his feelings when he contemplated the happiness which this amiable pair enjoyed. “ Such, (thought he), might have been my lot; had not D'Rosonio stepped between me and happiness.”