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panied his cousin back to Naples. When they arrived, they hastened to the signor, but the countenance of the domestic who received them destroyed the hope that D'Rosonio had entertained of his friend's recovery; Montalva was indeed yet alive, but hope was extinct.
Stephano heard this intelligence with affected dejection, but in reality he was far from grieved. Tenderly affectionate as the behaviour of the count had ever been to him, Stephano did not love his father; their characters were indeed totally dissimilar. Frank, open, and unsuspecting, the elder Montalva was in the truest sense of the word a good man; and hypocrisy, which formed so striking a trait in the character of the son, was of all vices the most opposite to the open and noble nature of the father. The detection of Stephano's intrigue with Lauretta, though it could not wholly destroy Montalva's affection for his son, yet in a great measure les
sened it; and the naturally vindictive temper of Stephano was roused to its utmost pitch of acrimony, by what he thought the unnecessary severity of his father's behaviour at that time.
To his son therefore, the death of Montalva would be a source of pleasure, rather than regret; but veiling these reflections under an assumed sorrow, he hastened to his father's apartment; as Montalva had desired to see him the moment he arrived.
Unfeeling as he was, Stephano received a momentary shock from the appearance of his father, on whose countenance death had evidently set his seal; the Signora Montalva sat by the bedside of her husband, and held one of his hands in her's; the other Montalva feebly extended to his son; Stephano pressed it to his lips.
"I rejoice that I am spared to see you once more my son, (cried Montalva,) I have much to say to you."
"Not once but many times more,
my father, heaven will yet restore you to our prayers, said Stephano.
"Do not deceive yourself, (replied his father), I have an internal monitor that tells me I am hastening to the tomb. Clara, my beloved, (cried he, turning to the signora, whose tears flowed in silence,) repress this grief, my life I trust has not been wholly unworthy of the angelic purity of thine, and in that blessed abode which will doubtless be the reward of thy virtues, we shall I hope meet again."
The signora gave her beloved husband a look that seemed to say their meeting would not be long delayed; and Stephano observed with surprise the ravages that grief had made in her still lovely countenance. She was pale and thin, and the fire that had once sparkled in her brilliant black eye was almost ex tinguished by tears.
Stephano listened with feigned humility to the long and pathetic remonstrance which his father made on his
former conduct; and readily promised that his future life should be such as would reflect honour upon his illustrious descent.
"Oh, my son, (cried the signor,) never forget the lesson that this day affords you, never forget that a life of virtue leads to a death of peace. What at that aweful moment are all the riches and honours of the world; the recollection of the good we have performed is thus our only comfort, and bitter indeed must be the feelings of the unhappy man, who has to reproach himself with an ill-spent life; to such a one, the misery of a death bed, is a dreadful anticipation of the punishment that awaits the wicked conscience, whose voice had been stifled by wordly pleasures; it then paints to the expiring sinner in the most glowing colours those enormities of which he has been guilty, and that good which he might have done: Oh! my son, most fervently does
plore of heaven, that your last moments may be free from terrors such as these."
Montalva was obliged to pause, for his strength was almost exhausted; he desired after he had had a little repose, to see the Count D'Rosonio, whom he loved with the affection of a father; with the deepest regret D'Rosonio witnessed the change which so short a time had made; he listened with reverence to the signor, whose advice to him was brief; of D'Rosonio indeed, he had no more to desire than a perseverance in his present conduct, for well did Montalva know, and truly did he value the virtues of the count.
"Your father and myself (said he), were in the truest sense of the word friends, and it was his wish, as it is mine, that our children should be united in bonds of the strictest amity; Stephano has neither your stability nor your strictness of principle; your friendship