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evening, at the church of St. Giovanni, you will find a person who will conduct you to the
The duke pressed the billet with rapture to his lips, and his impatience led him to the church even before the hour of vespers; but the service was ended, and nearly every person had quitted the church, when a woman veiled, advanced towards him; she beckoned him to follow her, and he obeyed in silence. She walked with a quick pace 'till she had got a short distance from the town, and then stopped at a garden-gate, which she opened. "We are at length at our journey's end, signor," (said she, as the duke followed her into the garden). She led him to a small house, and opening the door of an apartment, requested him to enter, and in a few moments he would see her lady.
The duke obeyed, and when left to himself, he gazed with surprise upon
every thing round him. The plain, and indeed rather mean appearance the house, afforded a striking contrast to the voluptuous elegance of the boudoir in which he was; and while be examined the furniture and ornaments, he owned that it was decorated with a degree of luxury and taste that surpassed every thing he had hitherto
But the entrance of Claudia drew his attention wholly to herself. She was habited with an apparent simplicity; but her dress was in reality calculated to show her light and lovely figure to the greatest advantage.
"How shall I ever thank you as I ought, (cried the duke, seizing the hand which she held out to him, and pressing. it with rapture to his lips,) for this favour?"
"Which you began to think I never meant to grant you. Is it not so, signor" (replied she, with an arch smile.)
"I shall begin to believe that you are indeed possessed of magic powers, (cried the duke), for I own that you have divined my thoughts; but let me thus beseech your pardon."
He threw himself upon his knees. Claudia raised him, and seating herself by his side, began a conversation, which she carried on for some time with the greatest sprightliness.
The freedoms which the levity of her manner encouraged, she repelled with an air of hauteur; and she dismissed the duke at the end of two hours, more seriously captivated with her than he had ever been with any woman in his life.
Interview succeeded interview, and so artfully did Claudia behave, that when at last she yielded to his wishes, he thought her doing so proceeded from her unbounded passion for him; and he felt proud of his imaginary triumph over the honour of a woman, whose
favours had been already indiscrimirately bestowed.
Claudia now no longer refused to gratify his curiosity with an account of her life, and she easily fabricated a tale that imposed upon him; she represented herself as of noble birth, and that she had been early in her life united to a man much older than herself, and who was since dead; business she said, induced her to visit Naples, and a chance view of him, inspired her with a passion that had prompted her to take the steps she did.
This story the duke implicitly believed; and the apparent sincerity, the simple, and the unstudied manner of Claudia might indeed have induced a man of greater penetration to have given credit to it. This enchantress seemed to have vanquished the natural inconstancy of his temper, but in pròportion to his fondness for her was his neglect and indifference to the lovely
duchess, whom he now regarded with aversion, and whom he took every opportunity of mortifying by the most marked and open slights.
But for her father's sake, Clementina would have been almost indifferent to his treatment of her; her hopes and wishes were fixed upon a better world; but when she saw the anguish which her husband's brutality caused her father, when she beheld him bending under the weight of self-reproach, her spirit revolted at the insults which her unworthy husband daily offered her.
The Count D'Rosonio frequently heard from Naples, and the behaviour of the duke to his lovely wife, sharpened the thorn that still continued to wrankle in his heart. In the hope that the dangers and occupations of a military life would, in some degree, banish those reflections that rendered existence insupportable to him, he entered the Spanish army, and his courage and