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not willingly have chosen her for his daughter-in-law; he therefore wished the marriage to be deferred, and his son acquiesced in his desire. No sooner did Bianca become the affianced wife of D'Orsini, than the natural inconstancy of her temper prevailed, and she soon regarded him with indifference. Her passion for Montalva converted indifference into disgust, and she determined to break her engagement to D'Orsini. The signor's pride and spirit rendered this an easy matter; he interrupted the excuses she was making for her perfidy, by an assurance that no excuse was neeessary.
"As long as I had reason to suppose that your hand would be accompanied by your whole heart, signora (said he, coldly), I would have held the gift dear as my own soul; but, far from reproaching, I thank you for the frank avowal you have made, that I no longer possess your affections; I willingly resign all title to your favour, and wish you
happy." He bowed as he spoke, and retired.
Happy as Bianca felt in her release from an engagement so irksome to her, yet her pride was deeply wounded by the manner in which her liberty was restored, D'Orsini did not however bear the disappointment so calmly as he affected to do; both his heart and his pride were hurt, but he disdained to let his perfidious mistress see her power, and he determined to seek refuge in flight. He quitted Naples almost immediately this absence was peculiarly gratifying to Bianca, who lost no time in apprizing Montalva that she was at liberty.
"What dost thou think, Flora (said she to her woman, one night as she was undressing), of Signor Montalva's friend, the Count D'Rosonio; dost thou think him handsome ?"
"Oh yes, signora (replied Flora), very handsome, though not as much so
(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.