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might be possible to obtain from the church a dispensation for your mother's vow; which, in strict justice, I know not that you are obliged to fulfil; but what, my poor child, could you do in the world? The abbess, I fear, possesses a power which she is determined to exercise, of appropriating the fortune of your late father to the use of her convent; you have no relations on whose bounty you might rely for protection and sup port; what, therefore, I must repeat, would become of you?'
"At the mention that it was possible for her to avoid a monastic life, the eyes of Albertina sparkled with joy; but when the father painted what her situation must be in the world, their lustre was again dimmed by tears.
"Try, Albertina (said the friar), to reconcile your mind, if possible, to the destiny your parents intended you for; but if you cannot, yet let your spirits not sink in despair; remember, my child, that you are not obliged to take
the veil immediately: you may take your own time to decide, and Heaven may, and I hope will, restore your mind to peace.'
"The father now bestowed upon her his benediction, and she departed. Velasquez was the confessor of the Marquise Tivoli, one of the richest and most benevolent women in Naples: 'Though pious, the marquise is no bigot; she has no children, (thought Velasquez), and her near relations are not people who would be envious of her bounty to an orphan; if she did but interest herself for Albertina, the poor child would be saved from the gloomy fate that otherwise awaits her.'
"Father Velasquez was a true dísciple of that meek Saviour, who "went about doing good:" he lost no time in speaking of Albertina to the marquise, and he pleaded her cause so powerfully, that the benevolent marquise resolved to afford the young orphan her protection; provided that Albertina gained permis
sion of the church to leave her convent; and that Father Velasquez undertook to procure.
"The joy of the young orphan when the friar communicated this intelligence to her, may easily be imagined; but her transports were checked by the fear that the father would be unsuccessful in procuring her release from the convent. The friar's interest was however greater than she had supposed; and he represented her case in such a manner to his eminence the Cardinal had permission to return to the world. The lady abbess's rage knew no bounds; she affected to be shocked at the impiety of Father Velasquez, in obtaining Albertina's liberty; and she declared that she could not, consistently with her notions of religion, consent to suffer the convent to lose any part of the Signor Verezzi's fortune. Velasquez knew that it would be in vain to try to wrest from the iron gripe of the church the patrimony of Albertina; and she was
too happy in regaining her liberty, to waste a thought upon her fortune.
"The marquise received the signora in the kindest manner; and the gratitude of Albertina, her amiable temper, and gentle manners, soon converted pity into a sentiment almost maternal. The death of a near relation had obliged Di Soranzo to leave Naples for a short time; when he returned, Albertina was under the protection of the marquise.Those only who have loved, and endured the torment of supposing that it was criminal to indulge a passion which it was impossible to subdue, can conceive the delight which Di Soranzo felt, when he found his Albertina at liberty. She may yet be mine,' cried he, in a tone of transport. His poverty was forgotten, and every suggestion of reason and prudence vanished before the magic power of love.
"DiSoranzo was not personally known to the marquise, but he found it an easy matter to procure an introduction to
her; and Albertina's account of him was sufficient to make him a favourite with her patroness, who soon perceived that the young people regarded each other with affection. She communicated her discovery to Father Velasquez: I will own to you, father (cried she), that I could have wished it otherwise; Albertina's beauty and birth might have procured her a husband amongst the noblest youths of Naples: than Di Soranzo none can be worthier, but he is poor. She paused- What I can do shall not be withheld, but that will be little. I solemnly promised my late lord that, at my decease, I would leave the property which I enjoy from his bounty to the children of his nephew, now in Spain; my power to serve the lovers therefore, you see is limited.'
"In a short time, the marquise spoke to Di Soranzo, who acknowledged his passion for Albertina, and with all the sophistry of a lover, endeavoured to persuade the marquise that, limited as his