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tant of its lovely tenement; mild, susceptible, and affectionate, the gentler virtues were all her own. The only material defect in her character, was want of firmness, and that, to a young and lovely female, is often the most dangerous of all others.
This peculiar softness of temper led her deeply to regret the absence of her brother, whom she loved with more than a sister's fondness; and from the most benevolent motives D'Rosonio endeavoured to console her.
One day when he had been conversing with her upon the subject, he said, "If for the present you have lost one brother, you have gained another; if you will accept of my fraternal regard." "I shall think myself both honoured, and happy in your lordship's friendship," replied the blushing and delighted Victoria,
But alas! friendship was too cold a name for the sentiment which the count
soon inspired her with; and young and susceptible as D'Rosonio was, it cannot be wondered at that their passion became mutual: yet, both were for some time unconscious of its existence, and so they would probably have long remained, but for an incident that opened the eyes of both to the nature of their sentiments.
A young man the son of an opulent merchant, was captivated by the beauty of Victoria, and asked her hand from her father. Wholly unsuspicious that the heart of his daughter was not in her own possession, Camillo readily promised the young suitor his consent and interest with his child, whose affections he said he knew were disengaged; and highly pleased with the proposed alliance, he took the earliest opportunity of mentioning it to Victoria.
"The young D'Arfet has just been with me, (said he to her), you have seen him my love, what think you of him?"
"He appears a good and ingenuous young man, (replied she), and was my brother's favourite."
"His circumstances are good, (said her father), and he is now of an age to settle in the world; he wishes to do so, if he can obtain the hand of my Victoria." Camillo fixed his eyes upon his daughter as he spoke: he was surprised to see the colour forsake her cheek, and the next moment she burst into tears.
Why this agitation my beloved girl? (cried the fond parent), you know that your choice shall be governed by your own inclinations; never will I force my Victoria to give her hand where her heart cannot accompany the precious gift."
He threw his arms round the weeping girl, and kissed away the tears that trembled upon her cheek.
Oh, my father! my dear father, (cried she), how happy have you made your child; indeed, indeed, I should be
miserable if I thought that you wished me to marry this man."
"Your affections my Victoria, I know are disengaged, and I should have been happy to see them so worthily bestowed; but we will not now pursue the subject."
Vietoria soon after retired to her chamber, her father's words vibrated upon her ear; "Your affections I know are disengaged." She trembled as she repeated them to herself. Oh, heavens! thought she, can it be, that the affection I have hitherto indulged without scruple, is of a nature that I ought to blush at? Can I have had the weakness to cherish a passion for a man every way my superior?
The pang that rent her heart at this thought, was a sufficient confirmation that her fears were too just; that heart, equally gentle and pure, had indeed imbibed a passion the most fatal to her repose.
Accident prevented the count from visiting the habitation of Camillo for some days, and in that short time the uneasiness of her mind had occasioned a visible change in the looks of Victoria. D'Rosonio was shocked to see her pale and languid; her cheek flushed as he entered the room, but the burning crimson that suffused her lovely countenance as her eyes met his, gave place the next moment to an ashy paleness.
The count hastily inquired whether she was indisposed, and received a reply in the negative. "What then has happened to distress you, dearest Victoria? for something has I am convinced," cried D'Rosonio.
The soothing tenderness of his tone, penetrated the heart of Victoria, and not daring to trust herself longer with him, she made an excuse for her absence and quitted the apartment.
In a few minutes her father entered, and from him D'Rosonio eagerly de