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the old man with joy in his countenance), that my lord has had for some days, and please the virgin, it will do him good." The count's repose continued for some hours, and he awoke much refreshed; he was rejoiced to find that Montalva was arrived, and desired to see him immediately. Short as the count's illness had been, Montalva fancied that Pietro was right in saying that scarcely a hope of his recovery remained. In a lanquid tone, he expressed his pleasure at the sight of the signor, whom he said he scarcely hoped to have seen in this world again."
"Banish these fears, dear Fernando, (cried Montalva), you have still I hope many happy days to see."
"I think not, my friend, (replied the count), but I am in the hands of an all-merciful judge, and to his decree I bow with submissive reverence: In the event of my death I have appointed you guardian to my child; and should heaven be pleased to take my Isabel, be thou
my heir, I have no relation nearer than yourself, and not one half so dear."
Montalva knelt by the side of the bed, and he hid his face on it at this moment, to conceal the joy which in spite of himself sparkled in his eyes. "I know that to thee, (continued the deceived count), wealth will be a poor compen sation for the loss of the companion of thy youth; but heaven may yet restore me.” An impious wish to the contrary, though it reached not the lips, burst from the heart of Montalva. From this hour D'Rosonio appeared to gather strength, and the physicians gave the most flattering hopes of his recovery; but this circumstance which filled every other bosom with joy, was a dagger to that of Montalva. From the moment that the count had told him that in the event of his own and Isabel's death, the rich domains of D'Rosonio would be his, imagination had converted his chance of inheritance into a certainty.
present difficulties were such as no
trifling sum would remove, and were he but possessed of riches, he thought he should be secure of happiness.
"Thank heaven, signor, (cried Pietro about a week after Montalva's arrival), the physician has just told me, that if the favourable symptoms continue, his excellenza will in a few days be out of danger; how many hearts will his recovery cheer, but I must hasten with the good news to the convent of St. Francis, the fathers have offered up masses for his health every day since his illness first took place."
It was well that Pietro was neither penetrating nor suspicious, or else the alteration in Montalva's countenance must have struck him. "Confusion!
(said he mentally, as he paced the room, when Pietro quitted him), he will recover; and what then becomes of me?.. But why must he recover, is there no way. tohe paused Dark and malignant as his soul was, murder had not yet occurred to him; and slowly did his
mind receive the horrid idea, that D'Rosonio must die, if he would exist in peace: mistaken Montalva! when did dwell with the assassin? For some days his mind was a perfect chaos; unsteady in his dreadful purpose, he saw with terror that every hour the count gathered strength. Fool, madman that I am, (thought he), shall I wait his perfect recovery, and so run the hazard of detection? or shall I give up my pur pose, own my distress, and meanly cringe to him for the means of removing it? No, I will perish first! Why should I hesitate to destroy him, has he not blighted all my hopes of happiness? stepped between me and a noble fortune, and rendered me miserable for years past? and have I now a chance of peace but from his death? away then with this childish weakness, he shall die!”
When Montalva had formed this. dreadful resolution, he sought for means. to accomplish his purpose without, suspicion; he was skilled in chemistry, and
he procured a poison of the subtlest nature; he always administered the count's medicines, and with a trembling hand did he present to the unhappy D'Rosonio the last draught he ever swallowed; the operation of the poison, though certain, would not he well knew be attended by any of those signs that usually accompany it; and the cause of the count's death, he flattered himself; would for ever remain a secret; with well dissembled grief, Montalva gave orders for a most magnificent funeral, and the remains of the murdered count, were consigned to the grave with a splendour befitting his illustrious rank. Many were the hearts that mourned for D'Ro. sonio, and the tears that flowed in abun dance from his dependants, as they knelt to beseech the merey of heaven. for the soul of their departed lord, was a-more certain testimony of his virtues, than the pompous inscription, which his assassin caused to be engraved on his monument.