« PreviousContinue »
the force of beauty, and sues for the affections and the hand of my friend." Valeria turned pale. "I feel grateful for the signor's notice, (cried she), but" Nay, dear Valeria, (interrupted Maria,) think before you positively refuse; Fiorenzo is a man so formed to make you happy that ——”
"I own his merit, (cried she), but dearest friend, think me not ungrateful, if on this one point, I must differ with you; indeed, indeed, my heart can never be the signor's; and never will I, friendless as I am, bestow my hand, where I cannot give my heart:" she burst into tears as she spoke.
"No, dear Valeria, (said the countess, embracing her); you are not friendless; never will I again speak to you of Fiorenzo. Are you not the sister of my heart? and does not D'Rosonio, equally with myself, love and regard you? Banish then the unkind idea, that we could wish ought but your happiness."
"Oh! my friend, my dear friend, (cried
Valeria as she returned the countess's
" she stop
embrace,) why cannot I ped at that moment, her whole heart was upon her lips, but a natural and ingenuous shame made her hesitate to own her affection for Montalva. Ah! ill-fated Valeria, hadst thou confided thy secret to the bosom of friendship, what misery hadst thou been spared.
The countess mentioned to her lord the manner in which Valeria received the intelligence of Signor Fiorenzo's passion, and D'Rosonio agreed with her that it would be cruelty to importune the signora further.
"I am more hurt my friend than I could have supposed possible, (said Fiorenzo when D'Rosonio reluctantly acacquainted him with the ill success of his suit); I thought not that my heart was so deeply engaged, but the signora's will shall be my law, and as I cannot remain with safety to myself, I must fly from her presence."
D'Rosenio knew too much of the human heart to press the signor to remain, and in a few days he quitted the castle D'Rosonio.
RESTLESS and unhappy, Montalva persuaded himself that he might without danger return to the mansion of the
"I can have nothing to fear from Valeria, (thought he,) and D'Rosonio will think my absence unkind. A letter of the count's containing the warmest invitation to the castle lay before him. "I must accept it," (said he, mentally); and the next day he left Naples for the castle D'Rosonio.
The count and countess welcomed him with all the warmth of friendship,
but in the glow of transport that lighted up the lovely countenance of Valeria, Montalva read a welcome the sweetest to his heart.
"We will make a prisoner of thee now, Montalva, (cried the count), and no business of import shall again rob us of thee."
"You will not say so count, (replied Montalva, laughing); by and bye, for I have come to tire out the patience and the hospitality of my friend."
"You observe the challenge Valeria, (said D'Rosonio), and remember, Montalva, that now thou art bound to stay."
Every glance which he stole at the varying countenance of the Signora Di Soranzo, betrayed to the acute and penetrating Montalva the emotions of her heart.
"She loves me, (said he exultingly to himself); and passion for a moment silenced ambition.
Every day Montalva almost unconsciously shewed Valeria, by a thousand