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may be a means of rendering him happy and virtuous.”
"And never shall it be withdrawn, (cried the count); Stephano has been, and always shall be, the brother of my heart; but was he less dear to me, yet your desire should be complied with; believe me dear signor, that the injunction of my own respected father, would not have more weight with me than your's."
Montalva pressed the hand of his young friend, and then desired to be left to repose. "I feel myself drowsy, (said he), and a little sleep will perhaps enable me to see you and Stephano in the evening."
The count left him, and he sunk into a tranquil slumber; he slept for some hours. "His repose has been long, may it prove salutary, (said the signora, as she gently put aside the curtain to view him as he slept.) He lay apparently tranquil, and a placid smile adorned his countenance; but a second glance
convinced the signora that life was fled
Bitter was the grief of the unhappy wife, but she bore her affliction in silence, D'Rosonio omitted no consolation in his power to offer, and Montalva behaved with outward affection and respect to his endowed mother, but the penetrating eye of the signora saw through the heartless civilities of her son; saw and despised the motives from whence they sprung, and his want of filial piety, was no small aggravation of her grief.
She was not destined long to lament the loss of an adored husband; her health had for some time been bad, and the death of her husband was a blow that she never recovered; she gradually declined, and as she was perfectly sensible of her situation, she anticipated with pleasure the moment that was to unite her to her beloved Montalva; and six months after the death of the signor, she followed him to the grave.
Montalva though internally rejoiced
at this event, assumed all the outward appearances of grief, and the warm-hearted D'Rosonio exerted himself to console his friend. The death of his parents had rendered him master of the whole of his small paternal property, but in his hands, it was as nothing. Naturally luxurious and extravagant, he had not the means to indulge these darling propensities, and the baneful voice of envy, at his cousin's superior fortune, began to take root in his heart: "yet, (said he) mentally, my descent is not inferior to D'Rosonios; a splendid marriage will enable me to restore the house of Montalva to its original splendour and magnificence, and amongst the Neapolitan fair ones, I may without difficulty, select a rich and noble bride."
Camillo Schedoni waited upon the Count D'Rosonio at this period one morning, to bid his benefactor farewell. His son had established himself most opulently in Spain, and the old man yielded to his entreaties, and agreed to
pass the remainder of his days with him. D' Rosonio had by this time conquered
his love for Victoria, of whom he took leave with a brotherly affection; nor did his heart throb, as it would once have done, with pain, when he learned some sime after that she had given her hand to an opulent Spaniard; most sincerely did he invoke heaven to bless their union, and his prayers were heard; for the lot of Victoria was as happy as she had deserved it should be.
SOON after D'Rosonio had attained his twenty-third year, Montalva one morning burst into his chamber.
"Congratulate me, (cried he in a tone of rapture), the loveliest and most affluent woman in Naples will be mine.
"I do congratulate thee my friend, (said D'Rosonio, warmly embracing him), but may I not know thy fair one's name?"
"Bianca Lupinetti, (replied the signor); thou knowest she is the only surviving branch of one of the noblest families in Naples, and her fortune which is immense is at her own disposal: that for