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"She ceased, and I thanked her with transport for the preference that she had given me; she suffered me to remain with her an hour, and before my depar ture I received permission to visit her as her acknowledged lover. And now, Fernando, I again demand your congratulations; I had indeed intended never to marry, but a wife like Bianca is a rare treasure: wit, beauty, birth, and riches, all combine to render her desirable; and senseless must the man be that would reject such a prize.
MONTALVA ceased, and D'Rosonio again warmly congratulated him.
"Thou must see my Bianca, my friend (cried he); my happiness will not be complete 'till you know and esteem each other; and to-morrow I will present thee to her." Montalva now hurried away, and left D'Rosonio to ruminate on what he had heard.
Very different were the feelings with which the friends regarded the conduct of Bianca; Montalva thought of nothing but the preference which she gave to himself, but D'Rosonio conceived that
her conduct was a violation of female delicacy, which he could not have approved of in his mistress.
"She thinks not of the pangs which she has inflicted upon the susceptible heart of D'Orsini (said the count, mentally); and for Montalva, a stranger of whom she knows nothing but from report, she breaks through an engagement that ought to be held most sacred; and this is the woman with whom he expects happiness: Alas! Montalva, greatly do I fear that thou wilt find thyself mistaken; but vain would be at present every effort to undeceive thee."
The next day Montalva presented his friend to Bianca, who received him in the most flattering manner.
"Count D'Rosonio, signora (said Montalva as he introduced Fernando), the Riend of my youth and the brother of my heart, intreats the honor of being known to you; he is most anxious to merit a place in your esteem."
"If fame speaks truly of the Count D'Rosonio, it is impossible to know without esteeming him (said the signora, as she extended to him her beautiful hand), and his being your friend, signor, is a sufficient passport to my favour.”
D'Rosonio made a suitable reply to this speech, and the conversation became general. Montalva had not exaggerated when he spoke of the personal charms of Bianca; she was indeed beautiful, but D'Rosonio thought that an air of illconcealed levity spoiled the effect of her charms; he did not however own his opinion to Montalva; who, when they left her, dwelt with rapture upon her perfections.
Montalva now daily spent a portion of his time with the Signora Lupinetti, and D'Rosonio was often of the party. Montalva frequently pressed his lovely mistress to fix a time for their being united, but this she always declined, under one pretence or other. "Let us
be better known to each other, (she would say), you have not yet had time to find out half my faults."
In vain did the enamoured Montalva protest that he should never be able to discover any; she would not say when she would bless him with her hand, and fearful of offending her, he did not chuse to be too pressing.
In the account that Bianca had given him of her contract to Signor D'Orsini, she had not adhered to truth; the violent passion which she pretended the signor felt for her never had existence: while she was his father's ward, D'Orsini had treated her as a sister, and so he would ever have considered her, but for a prepossession which she avowed in his favour. Bianca was of a temper the most inconstant; she fancied that she loved D'Orsini, and her passion made some impression upon his heart; his father, though he felt a regard for Bianca as the child of a deceased friend who had been very dear to him, yet would