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and ambition, rendered him odious to her.
The Marquis de Laney, a French nobleman, whose gallantry and accomplishments rendered him a general favourite with the Italian ladies, saw, and was captivated with Claudia; nor was she less pleased with him. The unsuspecting Montoni left her in full possession of her liberty, and she soon let the marquis know the conquest he had made. De Laney received her advances with transport, and for some time, their intrigue was carried on with
Claudia gave the marquis several intimations of her wish to desert Montoni for him, but to these hints he appeared insensible; he was indeed fascinated with her person, but his fortune was moderate, and he did not wish to diminish it, by supporting a mistress in that stile of luxurious extravagance which he knew she would require Claudia saw that her hints were un
ticed, and she divined his motives; but a wish to devote herself to him, inspired her with a design the most diabolical that ever entered the heart of an abandoned woman.
Montoni had a favourite nephew whom he always meant to make his heir; but in the moments of doating fondness, he had told Claudia that she was amply provided for. The attention which she still thought it necessary to pay him, became to the last degree irksome to her. "His death (thought she), would give me independence, and the man I love would then be securely mine;" no sooner had she conceived this horrid idea, than she formed a plan for the destruction of the man to whose generosity she owed. every thing. Equally artful and wicked, she determined to proceed with caution, and the frequency of assassinations at Rome, made her judge that that was the safest way of getting rid of the unhappy Montoni; could she but engage
De Lancy in her project, it might, she thought, be easily executed, and she determined to do so speedily.
She took more than usual pains to adorn her person against their next meeting, which she purposely deferred for some time; at last a welcome summons reached De Laney, and he flew. to the place of appointment.
"Claudia, my angel (exclaimed the marquis), what an age since we have met; a hundred times have I been tempted to transgress your injunction, never to write to you; so greatly did I long to know the reason of this unkind. delay."
"It has not been my fault, De Laney (cried she), but I much doubt whether we shall be able to meet again; Montoni has suspicions of me; jealousy will soon convert them into certainties, and I foresee that we must part."
No, dearest Claudia (said the mar quis), I cannot consent to resign thee; some means must be thought of to pre
nal perdition? wouldst thou commit a crime so black as murder?"
"Not willingly, De Laney (said she, terrified at the sternness of his looks), but think, how wholly my heart is thine, and then ask thyself, whether I could bear the thought of resigning thee?" "Thy heart (cried the marquis); oh, Heaven! is it possible that such depravity can exist in human shape; but mark me, Claudia, I do not ask thy promise (for I would not trust it), not to harm the life of Montoni; but I swear by every thing most sacred, that if thou dost, my vengeance shall pursue thee; thou shalt expiate thy crime in torments, of which thou canst not conceive an idea; for thy own sake then, respect the life of a man, whose generosity raised thee from beggary."
The natural haughtiness of Claudia overcame her terror, and she reproached the marquis' with pusillanimity: "Had fear no greater influence on thy coward soul than conscience (cried she), thy
hand would readily strike the blow, but thou disguisest apprehension under the shew of humanity; fool that I have been to bestow my affections so unworthily."
The marquis deigned not to reply. He again repeated his threats of punishment, and left her. The behaviour of De Laney had converted her love for him into hatred, and the furies of rage: and disappointment darted their scorpion stings into her heart. She impiously execrated herself and De Laney in the same breath; now she vowed that both Montoni and the marquis should perish; and the next moment the fear of punishment staggered her resolu
Practised as she was in dissimulation, she could not bear to meet the eye of Montoni, and on her return she feigned illness, and retired to bed; had she. possessed the smallest spark of feeling, the kindness of the signor would have her heart. The agitation of her