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crime by what fatality is it that this accursed deed is for ever before me? oh! would to Heaven that it was possible to recal the past."
The endearing attentions of Ellen, and the smiles of his infant, were for some time lost upon Montalva; Henry Villars had. called upon him, but the transient feeling of pity which that young man had excited, was over, and the count did not ask him to repeat his visit.
The birth of her child had effected a material change in the temper of Ellen; there were indeed times when she sunk into a fit of melancholy musing, but in general, she was more cheerful than the count had ever seen her, and the infant was to her a perpetual source of delight.
"I cannot conceive (said she one day to Montalva), how any human being can neglect an infant to whom they have given life; when I hang over the cradle of my child, and see
his eyes the moment they are opened fixed upon me, when he smiles and holds out his little arms, as if he already began to notice, and to love me, how happy do I feel, I am convinced that the loss of life, would be a thousand times preferable to the loss of my Stephano, and that I should sooner forgive an attempt to deprive me of it, than to deprive me of him.”
"What occasion is there for this. declaration? (cried Montalva, sternly), you are not about to be deprived of him.”
"No; Heaven be praised (replied she), I have nothing of that sort to dread, but these reflections came into my head I believe from reading a pretty and affecting French tale, in which the distraction, and subsequent death of a mother deprived of her infant, is described in the liveliest colours."
Montalva half-uttered, half-suppressed the execration that was upon the point of bursting from his lips, and
hastily left the room; that moment had indeed amply avenged the wrongs of the unfortunate Valeria, conscience presented her to him as she was when he first beheld her; her soft cheek, glowing with the rich tints of health, her mild blue eyes, now sparkling with animation, now shooting through their long and silken lashes, glances, that spoke a heart the seat of innocence and peace. The voice of his internal monitor reversed the picture, and he saw her pale, emaciated, and a prey to melancholy; her eye robbed of its lustre, her cheek of its bloom, and her form of all those soft and attractive graces that had once rendered her the delight of every eye, and the wish of every heart: imagination carried the picture farther, and he shuddered as he beheld his victim on the bed of death; her meek and uncomplaining spirit, awaiting with patience the moment that was to release her from her sufferings, and anxious only for the
fate of her child; "and this (exclaimed he, franticly), this was my work! Oh, Valeria! wronged, lost, innocent, could thy meek spirit look down from Heaven, thou wouldst pity even the wretch that destroyed thee."
The emotion that Montalva betrayed, filled Ellen with surprise, but wholly ignorant of the former events of his life, she had no suspicion of its real cause; but imputed it to some embarrassment. of his affairs, of which he did not chuse to make her the confidant.
Time, though it could not stiffle the remorse of Montalva, yet, enabled. him in some degree to overcome the violent motions which circumstances had led him to give way to. Nearly three years had passed from the birth of his son, and every day rendered him more doatingly fond of the child ; he had frequently expressed a wish to return to Naples, and take Ellen and Stephano with him, but Miss Dudley had always appeared so averse to this
measure that he never pressed it; his life during these years had been marked with no particular incident; he formed no connexions, and mixed with not other society than such as coffee-houses or taverns afforded him; he spent the most part of his time with Ellen and his child; to the former indeed he was attached solely by his regard for the latter; the inclination he had at first felt for her person was long since over; and of real and sincere love, the heart of Montalva was utterly incapable. Ellen Dudley, notwithstanding her fall from virtue, was formed for something better than to be the mere amusement of any man's idle hours; but her talents, her virtues, and her graces were regarded by Montalva with indifference; he was indeed incapable of appreciating them as they deserved.
The count saw a small villa in a romantic situation, a few miles from the capital, which pleased him, and as it was advertised to be sold, he purchased