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some days afterwards she was so ill, that Montalva dared not remove her to the convent where he intended to place her; her illness indeed appeared so dangerous, that he begun to fear for her life, and hardened as he was, he started at the thought of being her murderer: he sent her a message by her attendant that he had something to propose which would alleviate her grief, and Valeria, who hoped that he meant to restore her child, instantly admitted him.
After endeavouring to palliate the step he had taken, he informed her that though for the present, he was compelled to separate her from her infant, it was not his intention to do so for ever; since in a very few years, he would place the child in the convent where he meant she should reide. He thought that if she knew he was positively determined, that she should take the veil, it would be a blow that she could not support; this part of his resolution therefore, he concealed from her.
The hope of again seeing her child, had an almost magical effect upon Valeria, and in a short time, she was so far recovered, as to be removed to the convent where her seducer meant that she should end her days.
Montalva had told the lady abbess, that she was an orphan, and his near relation; and that a wish to preserve her from the snares to which youth and loveliness is liable, was the reason he placed her in the convent of St. Sebastian. As he was well aware that the nuns would be anxious to dive into the cause of her melancholy, he added that she had recently lost an aunt with whom she had resided the greatest part of her life. He told Valeria the tale he had fabricated, which he advised her for her own sake not to contradict, and he assu red her, that on her acquiescence with his will in this, and every other respect, depended her hope of seeing her child. His victim heard him in silence, her meek spirit was indeed bowed to
the earth by affliction, and Montalva exulted in the hope that his baseness to her would for ever remain concealed. The nuns of St. Sebastian welcomed her with kindness, and as soon as he had placed her there, Montalva returned to Naples.
from Naples, a change the most melancholy had taken place at the castle of D'Rosonio. The count had looked forward with delight to the moment that was to make him a father; little did he think the price which he was to pay for that endearing name; his adored wife lived to give birth to a daughter, but her angelic spirit fled in a few hours after. This blow overwhelmed the unhappy D'Rosonio; he shut himself in his chamber and refused all consolation.
No sooner did Montalva learn this
Never had he for
melancholy news, than he hastened to his friend, not with the hope of administering comfort, but with the desire of gratifying the long cherished hatred he bore to the count. given the preference which Bianca shewed to D'Rosonio; and innocent as the count was of her perfidy, Montalva from that hour, regarded him with abhorrence; self-interest, indeed, made him carefully conceal his sentiments, and he was a master of dissimulation; with the joy of a demon, did he witness the agonies to which the unhappy count abandoned himself; while with the most hypocritical affectation of pity, he joined him in deploring the loss of his Maria. The infant who was named Isabel, had been given to the care of a nun in the neighbourhood of the castle, as the sight of her aggravated her father's grief.
For some months, Montalva remained at the castle of D'Rosonio; and such was his dissimulation, that the count