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listened to the sweet strains of his harp; they were indeed such as:
"Take prisoner the wrapt soul and lap it in elysium."
At length they ceased.
(said the count). "Would not
your lordship wish to hear a sprightlier strain," demanded the minstrel.
"No (replied the count), I have no relish for the sound of joy."
"'Tis strange, (said the minstrel), the wretch oppressed by poverty or guilt, may indeed be deaf to the voice of joy, but why should the lord of these rich domains be a prey to gloom? why should the brow of the noble Montalva be overcast with care?"
"What! (haughtily exclaimed the count), darest thou enquire into the cause of my sorrows? rash presumptuous man, retire, and thank the obscurity that shields thee from my resentment; a lowly minstrel is beneath the notice of the Count Montalva."
"The lowly minstrel need not thank
the clemency of the proud Montalvą ; I am surrounded by agents most potent, though to thee invisible (cried he), I came here thy friend, but these taunts have changed my purpose. Know, that thou standest in the presence of one to whom every action of thy life is known. Yes, thou can'st insult a lowly minstrel; thou can'st boast thy rank and power; say how acquired?The murdered D'Rosonio-The infant Isabel-."
"Astonishment and horror rendered Montalva motionless; he gazed in silence on the minstrel, whose countenance might have dismayed even a heart unappalled by guilt; his large dark eyes were rivetted on Montalva, while round his mouth played a smile of demoniac joy at witnessing the agony he had caused."
"I know not (at length exclaimed Montalva), by what means my crimes. are discovered, nor wherefore thou thus rendest my heart, by recalling to my mind what I thought hidden from every
human eye; say, minstrel, how came
By no earthly means (replied the minstrel); but speak not thus Montalva, let monks and women talk of crime, it exists but in idea; D'Rosonio stood between thee and happiness, thou did'st right to destroy him; but why does Isabel exist?"
"What can I have to fear from
her?" (cried Montalva.)
"Every thing (exclaimed the minstrel), even now is her hand solicited by one of the noblest youths of Naples; her birth may be discoveredImpossible?" (interrupted Mon
"No! not impossible; I tell thee it may be discovered (continued the minstrel), what then becomes of thee?"
Montalva was silent.
"Another blow (said the subtle
tempter), and all is sure.'
hands in blood?
Again imbrue my
before thou didst imbrue thy hands in blood (said the minstrel, with a malignant smile); but mark me, Montalva, I came here thy friend, why I am so it is not of import to thee to know. I tell thee, and thou wilt find it true, that one only means is left to hide what thou callest thy guilt from the world. While Isabel D'Rosonio exists thou art not safe; think of this warning, and if thou hast the spirit of a man, take it."
A gleam of blue and sulphurous light flashed round the minstrel, and in an instant he vanished from before the eyes of the astonished count; for some moments the greatest horror took possession of the soul of Montalva; when he could reflect, the only conjecture he thought it possible to form was, that his visitor must be a magician. He had avowed that his knowledge of Montalva's guilt was not obtained by earthly means, yet, wherefore had he for twelve years kept the secret, and why did he now urge the wretched
who will conquer this weakness, of
The abbess pressed her to her
"Thou hast no cause for shame, my dear and innocent girl (cried she), I know not whether I ought to inform you, and yet my word is pledged to do so; there is a chance, that if motives of prudence alone influence the Signor Valdorno in destining you to a monas tic life, you may escape the veil.
"Alberto Sforza," she paused, and a glance at Isabel betrayed to her penetrating eye the reason of that reluctance which her young friend had expressed to a religious life: the heart of Isabel had unconsciously imbibed a passion for Alberto; treated by him as a beloved sister, she never suspected that her regard was different to what she would have felt for a brother; but this mention of his name gave
to a thousand hopes and wishes that