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session of her soul, and for a moment she entertained the thought of putting an end at once to her miseries and her life; but this idea was momentary; and, falling on her knees, she implored the pardon of the Almighty for so impious a thought.
To let the Signor Montalva know her situation was now her first wish, but from the idea of addressing him by letter she shrunk involuntarily; yet there was no other way that she could take to communicate it to him: a latent hope yet remained that this circumstance might induce him to perform his promise, and in a few incoherent lines she acquainted him with the consequence of their indiscretion.
Montalva was dressing for a gay party when the letter of Valeria was delivered to him; and he could not help muttering execrations on his own folly, as he perused it. What was to be done, to prevent D'Rosonio knowing the circumstance?" I must remove her privately.
from the castle (thought he), and when all is over, immure her for life in a convent: but will she consent to this? She must, if once I have her in my power.”
Too politic to answer her letter otherwise than in person, he hastened to the castle of D'Rosonio; he was received by the count and countess with pleasure, and Valeria presaged every thing that she could wish from the promptitude with which he had hastened to her.
The moment he had an opportunity of speaking to her in private, he tenderly lamented his absence, which business of the most vexatious nature, he assured her, only could have occasioned; his affairs, he grieved to say, were much deranged, and at present it was absolutely impossible for him to offer her his hand; a short time he hoped would put it in his power to perform his promise; but 'till he did, there was but one way for her to avoid discovery; he would provide an asylum, where she could remain 'till he, in the face of the world, owned
her as his wife. The heart of Valeria sunk at a proposal so different to what she had expected; but she dared not refuse compliance.
"Tell me, my Valeria (said Montalva); do you agree to my wishes?" "Alas! you know I have no choice, (replied she); I must do as you please, signor; my fate is in your hands."
My future life (cried he, eagerly), shall prove that I deserve the confidence you place in me." The eye of Valeria met his, and for a moment he shrunk abashed from her mild but penetrating glance.
D'Rosonio and his Maria. had been now nearly two years married, and they were both desirous of children; the countess had been lavish of her gifts to the convent of her namesake, the Virgin, and daily did the amiable enthusiast beseech the Holy Mary for an heir to the estate and title of her beloved lord. For some time past she had bad reason to think that her prayers were heard, but
she carefully kept to herself expectations that might be disappointed; and it was not 'till hope became certainty, that she communicated her situation to the enraptured count.
Perhaps nothing could have aggravated the misery of the unfortunate Signora di Soranzo more than this circumstance; her nature was too noble and too pure for her to envy the happiness of her friend, but when she contrasted the countess's situation with her own, her heart was rent with the severest pangs. Tenderly solicitous for the health of his wife, the count's eye followed her steps with an expression of mingled pleasure and anxiety. Did she express the slightest wish for any thing, he was miserable until it was procured for her; tenderly attentive as he had always been to her, he was now if pos sible more so than ever, and her health and amusement seemed to be his sole care.
How different was the fate of Valeria!
Though her pregnancy was not yet visible, she shrunk with terror from every glance, fearful that it should be suspected; and often, when sinking under the severest sufferings both of mind and body, she strove to appear as usual, lest the countess should insist upon her having advice, which she knew must discover her situation. Montalva had again left the castle, after promising to return before it would be necessary for her to quit it; the dread of discovery made her most anxious to be gone; yet, when she thought of leaving, perhaps for ever, the only friends she had on earth, her very soul recoiled, and there were moments when she thought of acknowledging to the countess what had passed; but her native modesty prevented her taking this step, and she awaited the return of Montalva in a state of mind that might excite pity even in thẻ bosom of a savage.
For his own sake Montalva kept his promise; he had arranged every thing