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posed themselves most secure, accident betrayed to Lodovic the injury that they had done him. Though humble in station, the feelings of this unhappy man were keenly alive to the destruction of his domestic peace, and had he been armed at the moment that he surprised the guilty pair, the life of Montalvo might have paid the forfeit of his crime. Lauretta threw herself at the feet of her husband, but he spurned her from him, and hastily quitting his habitation flew to relate to Pedro his granddaughter's infamy. The poor old man was horrorstruck at the news; that the son of his beloved master should'thus poison the little remnant of his days, was a severe aggravation of what he suffered, and he betrayed the affair to the Signora Montalva.
Deeply was the heart of that excellent woman wounded by the knowledge of her son's crimes, and she shuddered when she reflected on the hardness of heart that could have prompted him tọ
the commission of so great an enormity; both herself and Montalva had a particular value for Pedro, whose sincere, though humble attachment, as well as his long services, made them consider him rather as a humble friend than a domestic. Frequently did the old man boast that three generations of the family of Montalva he had carried in his arms; and he hoped e're he closed his eyes in peace to see the fourth.
Poor old man thought the signora, little didst thou think that thy peace would be destroyed by a descendant of that house to which thou wert so fondly attached.
Determined, before she acquainted her husband with the affair, to learn all the particulars of it; the signora went to the habitation of Lauretta; there all was confusion and distress; Lodovic had absented himself, and his wife feared that he had in the first transports of his grief laid violent hands upon his life; terrified at the consequences of her
crime, the wretched woman made a full confession of all her guilt to the signora, and thus placed the conduct of Stephano in the blackest point of view.
The grief and indignation of Montalva at his son's depravity were equal; for the venial transgressions of youth, the signor would have made ample allowance, but the crime of Stephano was neither to be excused nor palliated, and Montalva sincerely regretted that he had ever given birth to such a monster.
That hypocrisy, which was a prominent trait in the character of Stephano, though it could not enable him to gloss over the affair to his parents, assisted him to impose upon the Count D'Rosonio, to whom he artfully criminated Lauretta in such a manner that the count was convinced much of the guilt lay at her door, and that the fault of Stephano was occasioned rather by passion and accident than any natural depravity.
To retain the friendship of the count, was indeed an object of moment to the
young Montalva; his father's fortunewas very moderate, and his allowance for his rank was small. Notwithstanding the friendship which had subsisted between the father of Stephano and the late Count D'Rosonio, the signor had never been in a pecuniary way obliged to his friend; his lofty spirit could not bear the weight of obligation, and though he might at all times have commanded the purse of D'Rosonio, yet, he preferred living within the bounds of his own fortune, moderate as it was.
Sprung from one of the noblest families in Spain, and inheriting a portion of Spanish pride, the Signora Montalva's natural haughtiness and independence of spirit, even surpassed her husband's; and she laboured by the strictest attention to the economy of her household, to support that appearance which the signor's birth required him to make.
But though in many respects proud and haughty to excess, yet the young Montalva did not inherit that indepen
dent spirit, which characterized his parents; fond of expensive pleasures, he disdained not to owe the means of procuring them to the bounty of his cousin, whose favours were bestowed with a grace and generosity peculiar to himself; and who in the warmth of his heart, saw nothing mean in the demands which Stephano daily inade upon his purse.
The young friends were now both nearly nineteen, and both were largely indebted to nature. Tall, graceful, and symmetrical, the finely-proportioned figure of D'Rosonio, excited admiration in every beholder; while the matchless regularity of his features, the benevolence of his smiles, and the sparkling animation of his dark and brilliant eye, gave him the fullest claim to manly beauty.
Stephano was not less handsome than` his friend, but his countenance had a disgusting expression of haughtiness, which when it disfigures the features of youth is peculiarly unpleasing; and