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of her husband's conduct she had been uniformly silent.
"But though my injured and unhappy child (pursued the signor), does not complain, yet all Naples is aware of the treatment she receives; and her father, her infatuated father, has no refuge but the grave, from the misery which he has brought upon himself. by sacrificing his beloved and only child.
"Oh! may my death be a bond of union between you and my daughter; never will Clementina know that I have perished by my own hand; and may that Almighty power who protects innocence, grant, that the tears which this event will draw from her eyes, may be dried by the hand of a repentant and affectionate husband.
"On his knees, my lord, a wretched heart-broken old man, beseeches your mercy to his child: recal to your memory the moment that gave my Clementina to your arms, blooming in
youth, health, and beauty; view her. now, sinking beneath affliction, and young as she still is, exhibiting scarcely the remains of her former self. Ask your own conscience, who has caused the change? Oh! let her voice be attended to, and the future years of my child may yet be happy.
Farewel, my lord, receive my pardon for what is past; but may Heaven so deal with you, as you do in future with my Clementina; this will be the last wish, the last prayer of the unhappy
The perusal of this letter, hard as the duke's heart was, had some effect upon it. The body of the unfortunate signor was found in a river at some distance from his house, and his death was, by all but the duke, supposed to be accidental. The grief of the duchess for her father, was a little alleviated by the kindness and attention
with which her husband treated her; and she received the proof which he gave of his regard with such unaffected gratitude and sensibility, that when the duke contrasted her sweet and engaging manners, with the studied allurements, the meretricious graces of Claudia, he was amazed how that artful and unprincipled woman. could ever have obtained such a power over his senses..
"I will see her no more" (said he), and for a time he kept his word; happy would it have been for him had he never broken it..
The rage and disappointment of Claudia, at his desertion, would have known no bounds, but that he still was liberal to her, and that she entertained hopes that she should soon lure him back again. She was well read in the turnings and windings of the human heart, and she rightly judged that of the duke was too de
praved to be long attached to being,
so unlike himself as the duchess..
"He will soon be heartily tired of her mild virtues (said she, with a malignant sneer), and then will be my time to establish my empire more firmly than ever."
In order to persuade him of her grief and her fidelity, she affected an air of privacy; her equipage no longer was seen in the public walks, and her days were spent in retirement.
But while the duke supposed that she was spending her time in tears. and lamentations for his absence, she was in reality indulging a new and most disgraceful passion.
A gamester of ruined fortune and infamous character saw and admired her; he was distressed--and he conceived the infamous project of making her administer to his pleasures, and likewise his necessities. To any one who knew the disposition of Claudia
(in which avarice was a principal trait,) this plan would have appeared likely to be wholly unsuccessful, since he did not possess the means of conciliating her favour, either by money or present; nor was he possessed of any graces or attractions that were likely to catch the eye, even of a professed But there is no accounting
for the strange capricious whims of a confirmed votary of vice. Claudia soon doated on her paramour, and the bounty of the duke was lavished on a wretch equally mean and infamous: yet as it was of the utmost consequence to her, to regain his favour, she acted with circumspection, and received the visits of her new lover with the greatest privacy.
The deep impression which the death of Signor D'Albici had made upon thè mind of the duke, wore away by degrees, and as his licentious mistress predicted, he grew tired of the society of his amiable wife, yet he did not