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gazed with rapture on her lovely countenance, which, at that moment, the moon afforded me a sufficient light to contemplate distinctly), if you, beauteous Clara would be content to share the moderate portion, which I can call, mine, how transcendant would be my felicity.'
"To this proposal she would not give a positive reply, but she promised to consider of it, and she laid me under the strictest injunction of secresy. to our interview, I promised to be silent, even to thee, Fernando, 'till I 'was allowed to entrust thee; and I left Clara more captivated than I had ever
"Though I had never determined against matrimony, yet, the smallness of my fortune had made me think, that when I sought a wife, it should be one possessed of riches; but the beauty of Clara, her situation, and above all, her partiality for me, determined me to make her mine, if she consented. I
am disgusted with the gay scenes of dissipation; and retirement with a wife like Clara, would, I fancied, afford me happiness.
"But these gay visions were speedily dissipated by some unlucky accident. Don Juan discovered that his ward had a favoured lover, and though my person remained unknown to him, our interviews were from this time at an end: the Duenna was discharged with disgrace, and Clara more closely confined
"Do not despair signor, (said Francisca to me), my lady will never become the wife of Don Juan, and spite of the vigilance of her tyrant, we shall yet devise some plan of escape.'
The assurances of Francisca for some time kept up my spirits, but day after day passed, and I heard nothing from Clara. I sometimes ventured near the window, but her lovely form was never visible; and I began to despair, when
my fears were confirmed by the following letter, which she found means to convey to me.
"This will be probably the last opportunity that I shall have to address you. Dearest Montálva, I have struggled vainly to procure the consent of Don Juan. I have offered him my whole fortune, for I well knew your disinterested affection for me would induce you to resign it with pleasure, but he has vowed, solemnly vowed, never to yield my hand to another. To escape. is impossible, I have, therefore, but one alternative; if I cannot be your's, at least I will preserve inviolate the fidelity which I owe you, and a convent shall shelter me from the persecutions of this hateful man; he talks of having our nuptials speedily celebrated, but never, never will I consent to become his.
"Oh Montalva! what pangs rend my heart, when I bid you an eterna
farewel! May Heaven bestow upon you, that happiness of which it has for ever deprived the wretched
"This Rosonio, is our present situation. My angelic Clara flatters herself in vain with the hope of escaping the power of Don Juan; how easily may he have the ceremony performed in spite of her tears or reluctance: this idea maddens me; I could, I think, with fortitude resign her to a man with whom she would have even a chance of happiness; but what hope can there be in such a union ?"
"Do not despair, my friend (cried R'Rosonio), while your mistress mains unmarried, there still is hope. Can the genius of Francisca devise no plan, by which it might be possible to procure Clara's escape ?"
"We have thought of, and rejected many (said Montalva); in truth, Clara
is so strictly confined, that I greatly fear every attempt must be hopeless."
The count knew too well what the pangs of unsuccessful love were, to attempt to alleviate them by common place consolations; he endeavoured by a series of the most delicate and friendly attentions to (in some measure) console his friend, who was, he saw with concern, more deeply wounded than, from his volatile nature, D'Rosonio had supposed possible.
One day, Montalva returned home pale, and apparently agitated to excess. "What disturbs my friend?" eagerly demanded the count.
"I have just heard, that to-morrow robs me for ever of Clara (replied Montalva), I have long known that preparations were making for her nuptials, and the ceremony is to be performed to-morrow, after high mass, in the church of Pietro A'Majella: but Don Juan shall not thus tear her from