« PreviousContinue »
His sister Laura was Alberto's favou rite, and he soon loved Isabel also as a sister. The family of Sforza had free access to Laura, and she scarcely went to the grate to receive her mother or her brother unaccompanied by Isabel. The lady abbess and the signora had been friends from infancy, and she re joiced that her dear child, as she fondly called Isabel, was the distinguished favourite of the Signora Sforza..
"Look at this portrait (said the sig nora one day to the mother of Teresa), and tell me whether you perceive any resemblance between it and any one whom you have seen."
The abbess gazed upon it for some time in silence; at last (she said), "the countenance, though handsome, has an expression of haughtiness, that totally disfigures it; yet, was it not for that circumstance, I should think that in the soft features of Isabel I could trace a likeness."
"I have thought so frequently (cried
e signora); the expression of the face deed is different, but in the features ere is a resemblance. You have said, at you know not ought of Isabel's mily, and I am ignoraut for whom is portrait was drawn; but from the anner in which I became possessed of I have reason to believe the original as of rank."
"You know (continued she), that was destined for the veil, and, during by noviciate in the convent of St. Clara,
Rome, a lady young, and of noble ppearance, applied to the abbess for ermission to reside in the convent; er dignified and elegant manners, as well as the large sum that she offered For her pension, made the holy mother readily grant her request. Scarcely ever lid I behold a form and face so beautiful; but she appeared a prey to the deepest melancholy; and, after a little time, she avowed a resolution of taking the veil. I had just entered upon noviciate when she became an inVOL. II.
mate of the convent, and every day increased my reluctance to a monastic life. ` I was aware of the arts generally practised by the nuns, to hide from the eyes of the novices the gloomy destiny to which they are about to devote themselves; but with me those arts were not practised, because, being brought up in the convent from, my infancy, and being a destined victim, they thought the trouble was unnecessary, and would, from my knowledge of their artifices,. be useless; but with Maria, as she was named, every stratagem was put in practice that could allure her to become a member of the sisterhood; she appeared to receive their caresses and attentions with indifference, but she still persevered in her intention to become a nun. One day I had, for the first time, an opportunity of speaking to her in private, and I resolved not to lose it.
"You are about to become our sister, I find (said I).
"Yes' (replied she, without raising
her eyes, which, as usual, were fixed upon the ground).
"Ah! (cried I) did you but know the lot which you are voluntarily going to embrace, I am well convinced you would shrink from it with horror.' I proceeded to paint, in the most energetic terms, the various misèries of a monastic life, and she heard me without interruption.
"I am aware (cried she, when I had concluded), that all you have said is true; but it will not, cannot change my resolution. Never again can I taste of happiness, and in the gloom of a cloister I cannot be more miserable than in the gaiety and bustle of the world.'
"Whatever disappointments you may have met with (cried I), time will perhaps obliterate the remembrance of, and if the world is displeasing to you, why cannot you remain here, and yet preserve the power of returning to the world when you please?'
"She looked up, and I saw that her fine eyes were swimming in tears.
"I have been in the world (said she, emphatically), would to Heaven I had never entered it! but never, never can I mix with society again. I thank you, my kind friend, for advice which, I own, might be a means of saving any one but myself from a destiny the most painful. My doom is fixed, and nothing can change it.'
"Never before had I beheld such an expression of despair, as marked the features of Maria during this speech, and most sincerely did I commisserate her sorrow; but delicacy forbade my saying more. I pressed her hand in silence, and left her.
"Through the kindness of my aunt, Signora Florentini, who saw, and pitied the reluctance with which I submitted to the will of my family, I was rescued from a life of monastic slavery, My generous aunt offered me a daughter's portion, and my parents, to my