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lge, and her secret was for the first ne known to herself.
The abbess (without seeming to tice her confusion) continued "AN erto Sforza loves you." The blood ished tumultuously into the fair face id neck of Isabel, while in low, but elighted accents, she exclaimed, "good leavens! is it possible?" "His passion perceive is not displeasing to you said the abbess), but this, dear Isabel, 3 a subject on which you must not ndulge too much hope; recollect the Dower which the Signor Valdorno posesses, and remember that we know not how he may exert it." The flush of hope and exultation gave place to a deadly paleness, but Isabel continued
"On your prudence, my beloved child (said the lady abbess), Signora Sforza and myself rely; Alberto has received from his mother permission to open to you his heart, but my Isabel must not let him see her's; if he is
once assured of being beloved; reason and prudence will plead in vain, and should Valdorno refuse his consent, we shall have, from the impetuosity of Alberto, much to fear; remember then dear Isabel, that on your guardian's decision every thing must depend." Isabel promised an implicit compli ance with the wishes of her friend, and the lady abbess left her to her own reflections; she could not for some time arrange her thoughts. Alberto's passion, his mother's goodness in sanctioning it, and the strong probability, which to her appeared almost a certainty, that her guardian would rejoice in such an offer for her, formed altogether such a picture of enchanting, unhoped for happiness, that she could scarcely believe it real, and it was not till tears relieved her full heart, that she became sufficiently calm to pour out her whole soul
in prayer before the throne of grace. Though educated in a convent, the piety of Isabel was free from supersti
1, but not wholly untinctured by husiasm; with the most fervent deion did she beseech the assistance her patroness, the Virgin, and she se from prayer with a mind soothed relieved.
Hard, however, was her task when erto opened to her his whole heart; secret of hers, hovered on her lips, prudence suppressed it; yet had erto no reason to complain of her aviour, she did not indeed own her sion; but her varying countenance, eyes, in which every emotion of her I was painted, told a tale that her gue refused to utter; and Sforza tted her happiest of the happy.. Twelve years nearly had elapsed ce Montalva had placed Isabel in the tude of St. Teresa: and vainly had sought in every pursuit an antidote the remorse which preyed upon his . For years past he had resided at e castle of D'Rosonio, and lost in Dom and despondeney, he renounced VOL. II.
all idea of ever again mixing with the world. One evening, as he sat lost in melancholy musing, the distant sound of laughter struck his ear, he listened, and heard it more distinctly; he summoned one of his domestics, and sternly enquired the cause of their riotous meriment.
"So please you my lord (replied Antonio), a wandering minstrel besought from us a shelter for the night, he is in truth not meanly skilled in melody, and it was one of his romances that caused the laughter which has disturbed your excellenza."
A low, but sweetly plaintive strain, at this moment arrested the count's attention; he waved his hand as a signal for Antonio to throw open the folding-doors -again the strain vibrated on his ear. "Thou art right, Antonio, this minstrel is indeed a master of his art (said he), bring him before me." "The delighted Antonio flew to obey the orders of his lord. From the
abitual sternness of the count, he had eared a severe reprimand, for the voice f mirth was rarely heard in Montalva's astle; and never had one of his doestics seen his cheek dimpled by a mile. The minstrel now entered the hamber, and for a moment the eye of Montalva rested upon him with curios ity and surprise. He appeared of midle age, his countenance was fine, hough pale; and there was an indescriable expression in his dark and pierc. ng eye, that rivetted the attention of he count. Antonio, in a low voice, bade im make his obeisance, and he obeyed; out the bow of the minstrel was not the.. owly bend of a vassal to his lord, it vas slight and haughty.
"Montalva motioned Antonio to leave them, and then desired the minstrel to play again the plaintive air that had caught his ear before he saw him; the minstrel began, and with an attention the most profound, Montalva