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(added she, recollecting herself), as the Signor Montalva.”
"Nay, Flora, there I think thou art wrong; the Count D'Rosonio is a model of manly beauty: what grace in every motion what spirit, yet what softness, in his dark brilliant eye! and when he smiles-didst thou ever mark his smile, Flora?
The attendant was a moment without replying; she gazed with surprise on Bianca, whose eyes sparkled with pleasure as she spoke of D'Rosonio: she perceived the earnest gaze with which Flora regarded her, and she blushed and became silent. After a pause of a few moments, she desired Flora to finish undressing her, and she retired to bed.
The form of D'Rosonio haunted her slumbers. "What, thought she, (alarmed at finding that she could not banish him from her mind) what can this mean? Involuntarily she compared the
friends; and the comparison was in the
"I must not, I dare not think thus," (cried she), and rising from her bed she threw on a light dishabille, and paced her apartment, in hopes that fatigue would obtain for her some sleep; but she was not successful, and the morning dawned before she closed her eyes.
Too certain of her regard for himself, to be very suspicious, the increasing coldness of Bianca's manner did not for some time strike Montalva; but every day increased her predilection for D'Rosonio, and her infatuation at last became so obvious, that the count, though perfectly free from vanity, perceived it. The discovery hurt him. "What (thought he,) can this coquet mean by attentions so marked? Poor Montalva, would to heaven thou hadst never seen her." By degrees the count absented himself from the house of the signora, and her inquiries after
him, created in the breast of Montalva, a suspicion of her inconstancy.
"I know not signora, (said he petulantly, in reply to some expressions of wonder she made use of at his absence), I know not what can have detained D'Rosonio so long from your presence; did he surmise the anxiety you feel to see him, I have no doubt he would speedily present himself before you."
The sarcastic tone in which these words were uttered, confused Bianca; but she speedily regained her self-command, and her reply was haughty in the extreme.
Montalva left her bursting with rage, which he vainly strove to dissemble, and flew to D'Rosonio.
"Tell me, (cried he) tell me I desire, Fernando, whether Bianca Lupinetti has given you reason to suppose she loves you?"
"My dear Montalva, what a question," said the count.
"By heaven 'tis one that I will have answered," (exclaimed the signor). "Montalva, (cried D'Rosonio) is this language to your friend ?"
"Forgive me Fernando, (said he), but this woman, curses on the sex! this vain, inconstant woman, treats me with contempt; and from her manner, I have reason to believe you are her present favourite."
"I have no reason to suppose so, (returned the count,) but trust me Stephano, was Bianca to prove herself so unworthy of thy love. she would have no charms for me; and surely contempt would overpower affection in the bosom of my friend."
Montalva was silent, but his countenance shewed that his mind was considerably agitated; the person of Bianca had captivated his senses, and her fortune would render him affluent and happy: yet, to marry her: to marry a woman whom he had reason to suppose
inconstant, was a stab to his pride; and he almost resolved to give her up.
"Yet, no, (thought he) such a step would gratify her; and I will not resign her fortune; it would be madness to lose it."
D'Rosonio watched the changes of his countenance, and rejoiced to see it gradually assume composure.
"Your suspicions may be wrong, my friend, (said he); you may have judged too hastily; or perhaps some womanish pique has made the fair Bianca wish to prove her power over you; and to excite your jealousy was the readiest method to ascertain her empire."
Perhaps you are right D'Rosonio, (cried Montalva); at any rate, I will suspend my judgment."
But not long could he do so, the infatuated Bianca, forgetful of the modesty of her sex, wrote to D'Rcsonio; and in the most unequivocal terms avowed her partiality, and offered him her hand.