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ing a tranquillity that he was far from The ingenuous D'Rosonio,
who had not an idea that Montalva would deceive him, was completely the dupe of his artifice; and rejoiced to see that he had banished the unworthy
Bianca from his mind.
While Montalva was arranging a plan for carrying off the Signora Lupinetti, she suddenly left Naples; nor could he discover where she was gone. Montal
va's rage at this event knew no bounds; he fancied that D'Rosonio suspected his intentions and had given Bianca intimation of them; and this supposition created in his bosom the greatest enmity to the count; nor could the favours which D'Rosonio daily lavished upon him, excite in return a spark of gratitude on the contrary, when he reflected that Bianca's fortune would have rendered him as affluent as his cousin, he inwardly execrated the count as the cause of his losing it.
Montalva, soon after the affair with
Bianca, entered into the army; and the count's interest and fortune were so great
ly serviceable to him, that he obtained rapid promotion; his opinion of the fair sex, never good, had been rendered worse by Bianca's perfidy; and he vowed that riches only should tempt him to marry.
D'Rosonio became enamoured of the beautiful. Maria De Velorno. Nature had been lavish of her gifts to Maria; her person was lovely, and her mind was the seat of every virtue; her birth and fortune rendered her a suitable wife for the count, who proposed for her, and was accepted.
The marriage of Fernando and his Maria, was an event far from pleasing to Montalva, who often visited the castle of the count; and bitter were his feelings when he contemplated the happiness which this amiable pair enjoyed. "Such, (thought he), might have been my lot; had not D'Rosonio stepped between me and happiness."
One day, while he was indulging in reflections of this nature, D'Rosonio observed him attentively. "All is not right in the mind of my friend, (cried he); tell me Stephano, what disturbs thee?”
Montalva evaded the question, and the count continued, "I have thought since I have myself known the delights of domestic happiness, that thou mightest perhaps have sighed for them; forgive me, but the depression which I have for some time perceived makes me think that an attachment to some fair one, rich only in the gifts of nature, preys upon the spirits of my friend; if this is the case Montalva, thou knowest that my fortune is thine.
"I thank thee from my soul, D'Rosonio (said Stephano), but thou art mistaken; no my friend, I have done with love, the perfidy of Bianca has steeled my heart against the attractions of beauty; and should I ever marry, it must be to a woman possessed of sufficient riches to restore the fading honours
of my house.
I thank thy generous friendship, already have I been but too. much obliged to thee.”
Soon after this conversation, a youthful friend of the countess's arrived at the castle; never had Montalva beheld such beauty, but Valeria Di Soranza was poor; to think of her as a wife was impossible; and the friendship with which the countess regarded her, made Montalva fear to endeavour to gain her as a mistress; she was an orphan and of noble birth; young, artless, and formed for love, her heart soon spoke in favour of Montalva; the graces of whose person and manners were indeed most striking. He saw, and ungenerously pursued the advantage he had gained, and the unfortunate Valeria soon became deeply attached to him.
Had Valeria been rich, Montalva would not have hesitated to avow his passion for her, but to give her his hand, and owe to the generosity of D'Rosonio the portion of his bride, was a humilia
tion which his pride could not submit t yet, every day her beauty and softne made a deeper impression upon him, a his manner to her became more tend The count's castle was situate at so. distance from Naples, and Montalva F prolonged his visit much beyond usual length; he did not love the co try, and he was incapable of partici ting in the happiness which the co and countess enjoyed: he was theref in general anxious to escape from th society; but now, the presence of Val acted as a spell upon his senses, and seemed to have no power to fly.
"Confusion! (said he mentally); w am I about? I will return to Naples, in the smiles of venal beauty, lose remembrance of Valeria."
He mentioned his intentions to count that day; Valeria was prese and he watched her looks while spoke of leaving the castle; she avo ed meeting his eye, but the deep suf sion of her cheek, the ashy paleness t