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me to enter , he placed wine and refreshments before me; when I had satisfied my thirst, I asked him who inhabited the cottage besides himself.
“ Two ladies, signor, whom I have the honour to serve," (was his reply); and as he spoke, they entered. I rose, and apologized for my intrusion.
" You are welcome, signor, (said the eldest), to what our cottage affords ; its fare, though homely, may be acceptable to a weary traveller."
While I replied to this speech, I gazed attentively on the signora ; she was upwards of fifty, but never did I behold a form so noble or so dignified ; time had indeed stolen from her cheek its freshness, and from her eye some portion of its lustre; but he had no power over the graces of her countenance, and her figure was symmetry itself.
In thanking the signora for her hospitality, I requested permission to rest a few minutes longer; which she readily granted. Her young companion now
spoke to the domestic, and the melody of her voice attracted my attention; her
figure was small, but beautifully formed; lk and her countenance, though not strik
ing, was rendered inexpressibly interest11.ing, by the most expressive dark blue
eyes I ever beheld.
" Retire to your chamber, Viola, and ford finish the drawing which you began aceful this morning,” (said the elder signora);
and the fair Viola, timidly bowing to
me, retired. Notwithstanding the nora; she ble frankness of the signora's air and tidldi manner, there was a dignity about her <d; time that forbade familiarity, and after I had sek its i rested for a short time, I again thanked
her and retired.
"Strange, (thought I), that two women, whose appearance bespeaks them of a rank far superior to the vulgar, should be the inhabitants of so recluse a spot.
The curiosity which I felt was but of
short duration ; new schemes of pleasure import put the adventure out of
my thoughts, and in a few days it was forgotten.
me porto PONE ince, a
for her missia uch whes
Want of money soon drove me again to the house of Isaac Mendez, and I found him as ready as before to accommodate me, but what was my surprise at beholding Viola under his roof; I almost thought my eyes deceived me, but the heightened colour of Viola, and the timid glance of recognition which she cast at me, convinced me I was right; she quitted the room, and I asked Mendez, carelessly, whether she was any relation
6. None (replied he) ; she is my ward;' and he tried to change the sub
my curiosity was now so much raised, that I was determined to gratify it if I could; I therefore mentioned to the jew my having before seen Viola at the cottage, and expressed the surprise I felt at seeing her in so obscure a situation. • She then resided with her aunt, Signora Velloni, (cried he), but the signora has quitted Naples, and Viola is entrusted to my guardianship, 'till her return.
“ Will her absence from Naples be of long continuance, said I?
"Tis uncertain,' (replied he); and as I could not press the subject further, it dropped.
“ Again did I agree to pay the most extravagant price for the money I received, and again it was squandered in the wildest dissipation; a third visit to Mendez became necessary, but he did not receive me as he had done when I went to borrow from him before."
“This sum, signor (cried he, when I had told him what I wanted), and what you have had before, will make your debt to me so large, that
" Are you not certain of being amply repaid, interrupted I.
6. How can I be certain of it, signor; (cried he), your aunt may outlive
you, or if she does not, she may change her mind; and your hopes of inheriting her property may be vain.'
" I tried to persuade him that he was mistaken, and that there was not the but be sincere; the slightest deviation from truth will for ever lose thee my favour."