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that had given rise to those sentiments so destructive to the peace of Victoria and himself. He took a retrospective view of his behaviour to her, and the idea that she supposed he meant to offer her his hand occurred to him. 'Twas true, nothing that had ever passed between them could have given her reason for such a thought; but he was sensible that he loved her, and if she had perceived his passion, what must she have thought of the avidity with which he sought her society. After some hours of painful reflection, he resolved to endeavour without wounding the delicacy of Victoria, to erase from her mind any idea that he entertained more than a paternal regard for her.
"Yes, Victoria (thought he), I will indeed be a brother to thee; and, oh! may thy happiness equal my fervent wishes; blest, supremely blest, will then be thy lot."
"The sooner this was done (thought he) the better, for the health and tran
quillity of Victoria; and in a few days afterwards he went to the house of Ca
He found Victoria alone, and he rejoiced to see that she looked better than when they had last met.
For some moments the behaviour of both was constrained; but D'Rosonio endeavoured, by plunging at once into the subject of his visit, to remove the embarrassment under which they laboured.
His voice faultered when he perceived the evident agitation with which Victoria listened to him; and when he ceased, she strove in vain to reply.
"Will not my sister speak to me?" said the count, taking her cold and trembling hand in his.
"I am sensible of your goodness, my lord (replied she), indeed I am; but just now I cannot thank you as I ought."
"Do not talk thus formally to me, Victoria (said the count); regard me as your friend, as your brother."
"Oh! would to heaven (cried she) that you were indeed my brother; how blest should I have been, and how different would my feelings be, if”. She paused; but enough had escaped to dye her lovely countenance with crimson, and she hastily averted it from the ardent gaze of the count.
Shocked at what she had said, her agitation became excessive, and unable to restrain her emotions, she burst into tears. With the most soothing gentleness, D'Rosonio endeavoured to console her.
"Oh, my lord (cried she) speak not thus kindly to me--I know, I feel that you must despise me. Weak, unhappy creature that I am."
Despise thee, dearest Victoria? (said the count, thrown off his guard by the softness of her tone), No; Heaven witness how dear you are to me; and was it in my power to call you mine, I should esteem myself the hap.piest of men."
long and severe were her struggles, but they were ultimately successful.
D'Rosonio was convinced that for him the only chance of safety was in flight, and he quitted Naples for a short time. To give up the pleasure which the society of Victoria afforded him, caused him indeed a painful effort; but it was one that every principle of honour and prudence demanded him to make, and never had he been deaf to their suggestions:
He made an excursion to Rome, in which he was accompanied by Stephano, who was happy in escaping from a home that was now become peculiarly unpleasant to him. Lodovic had never been heard of since he fled , in consequence of his wife's infidelity; and old Pedro had from that time drooped, till at last he had sunk into the grave. His death, even depressed as he was with the weight of years, would have been regretted by the signor and his lady; but when they re
flected that their son had most probably hastened it, their feelings were doubly keen. Stephano would have been perfectly unmoved at the decease of the old man, whose life or death was but not in his eyes of consequence; the coldness, and even severity, with which he found himself treated by his parents, who were shocked at his evident want of feeling, rendered him anxious to escape from their presence for some time.
Lauretta had, upon the death of her grandfather, been placed by the signora in a secure and humble asylum; she appeared very penitent for her crime, and to penitence the heart of Signora Montalva was at all times accessible, She did not reproach the unhappy girl for the past; she only exacted from her a solemn promise to avoid future errors; and grateful for kindness, where she had expected only to meet with reproach, Lauretta readily