« PreviousContinue »
but if he should, I have still a resource at the foot of the altar; I will protest against the violence offered to my inclinations, and declare an intention of taking the veil: in a cloister, I shall at least enjoy tranquillity, if I must not hope for happiness.'
"The last words were scarcely articu late, and the moment after, I could hear her sob audibly; her companion attempted to console her, and they left the apartment.
"I cannot tell thee, D'Rosonio, how strongly interested I felt for Clara ; would have given the world to know, whether I was indeed the fortunate man on whom she had bestowed her heart. From the title, signor, I was inclined to hope it might be so; yet it was more than possible that Madrid contained others of the same name and country as thy friend, though I knew it not. I resolved the next day to endeavour to find out the name and situa
tion of Clara, and at all events, to try to see her.
"I was circumspect in my enquiries, but I learned enough to convince me, that Clara would be one of the noblest matches in Spain. She was an orphan of illustrious family, and immense forHer father, the Marquis De Liners, had bequeathed the guardianship of her person and property to Don Juan De-, with a proviso, that if she married without her guardian's consent, she was to forfeit her estate. To this indiscreet and fatal clause, all the misery of the lovely Clara was owing. Her charming person and princely portion, tempted Don Juan to endeavour, by marrying her, to gain possession of both; he expected indeed that she would receive his proposal with reluctance, for he is old enough to be her grandfather; but he trusted to the natural sweetness of her temper, and the readiness that she had hitherto
shewn to obey his wishes, for her compliance. Men of the first rank had sought the hand of the fair orphan in vain. Don Juan was resolved never to consent to her marriage with any one but himself. He kept her a close prisoner, and never suffered her to go even to church, without accompanying her.
"Having learned this much, my next step was to consider how I could see Clara ; and that, as she was circumstanced, was in truth no easy task; it was one that I resolved to undertake, and for several nights and days, I strolled near the house of Don Juan, in the hope that I might by accident get a glimpse of her but my hopes were disappointed, and just as I had began to despair of letting her know by any means the passion I persuaded myself I felt for her, I saw an old female domestic, whom I fancied was her Duenna, come out of the gate.
"I followed the woman, but for some
time, I did not venture to address her.. I eyed her with much significance, and I could not help thinking that she returned my glances.
"You have (said I, encouraged by her manner), or I am mistaken, the happiness of serving the loveliest lady in Spain.'
"You are right, sir (replied she), I am indeed the attendant of one of the best, as well as the most beautiful of one of the Castilian dames."
"Fame speaks loudly of the virtues, as well as the charms of Donna Clara (returned I), and happy will the man be who obtains possession of so invaluable a prize.'
"Ah, poor lady (said she), her hand will, I fear, be unaccompanied with her heart.'
"Not to tire your patience, Fernando, I prevailed, without much difficulty, upon Francisca, to deliver a letter for me to her lovely mistress: in this epistle, I supplicated for an interview,
and Francisca promised, that in a few days, I should have an answer.
"My trusty messenger was as good as her word, and I received a summons to the window, where I had overheard the conversation that flattered me with a relief of Clara's partiality.
"The angelic girl was at the casement at the appointed hour. With the most enchanting timidity, she excused the manner of my reception, but admittance to the house was, she said, impossible to procure, without a risk of my safety, which she would not run.
"You, D'Rosonio, can, without being told, fancy what passed. Clara ingenuously informed me of the particulars of her situation, and avowed her reluctance to become the wife of Don Juan; but in reply to my pressing intreaties to escape, and bless me with her hand, she reminded me, that by such a step, she should forfeit her for
"Perish the dross, (eried I, while I