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of Isabel gave way to grief, and she burst into tears..
"Hear me Isabel (said the abbess); was there a hope, that from your parents you would find that affection of which you are most worthy, was there a chance that your repugnance to a monastic life would induce them to allow you the liberty of returning to the world, I would not seek to alter your determination; but alas! my love, of this event there is not the smallest hope; their pride condemns you to obscurity, that the secret of your birth may never transpire, and destined as you are to a life of retirement, where you will be so fondly sheltered, as here? where your infancy was matured, and where your virtues are known; could you, my child, but resolve to remain with us."
"Oh! no (interrupted Isabel); let me at least preserve my innocence. Oh! what punishments might I not expect if, kneeling at the throne of grace, 1 presumed to offer wholly to the Al
mighty, that heart in which, alas! one ofis creatures has but too great a share; it is the first time that my secret has passed my lips (continued she, with firmness), and from henceforth it must be buried in my heart; but, oh! dearest mother, that heart has long, though unconsciously, been Sforza's; I know that I never can be his, but at least the remembrance of his affection, the delight of contemplating his virtues, may be mine; his image will follow me in solitude and obscurity, and shed a gleam of comfort over my cheerless days."
The countenance of Isabel, as she spoke, was lighted up with all the enthusiasm of pure affection, and never in the eyes of the abbess, did she appear so lovely.
"My child, my Isabel (cried she), I will not farther seek to combat your resolution; in two days I must lose you, and may the Virgin protect and guard you."
"We must not (said Isabel), 'till I actually have left the convent, let Signora Sforza, know what has passed; to see her would add fresh pangs to those which I suffer; when I am gone, you, dear mother, will.” She -paused, but the abbess understood her.
"Yes (replied she), the signora and Alberto shall then know all."
On the second morning Montalva came at an early hour to take Isabel from the convent; bitter were the tears which she shed in the bosom of the lady abbess, whose sorrow equalled her own; the whole sisterhood indeed deeply regretted her departure, and with an almost breaking heart she left the scene of all her infant pleasures. Montalva handed her into a carriage, which waited to receive them, and for some hours they travelled in silence; it was at last broken by Isabel.
when we reach our journey's end, sig nor?" (timidly enquired she).
"No, not immediately (replied Montalva), but probably soon."
"After so long supposing myself an orphan (cried Isabel), I feel most anxious to be clasped, if but for a moment, to the bosom of a parent; perhaps my father would deign to see his 'child?"
Perhaps he may" (said Montalva, hesitatingly), and the idea which at the moment crossed his mind, how soon, through his means, the innocent Isabel would be sent to join her murdered parent, blanched the crimson of his cheek, and gave to his countenance an expression of horror, which Isabel, absorbed in her own thoughts, did not notice.
A large mansion, situate at some distance from Naples, and which was a part of the small hereditary possessions of Montalva, would, he thought, be a place well suited to his cruel purpose.
Montalva's bride had hitherto prevented him from parting with this half-ruined edifice; and he now rejoiced that it was still in his possession. One old domestie only resided there, and of him the count thought there would be no necessity to make a confidant. When they stopped for the night, he told Isabel, that they were going to a castle which belonged to a friend of her father's, and where her parent would probably soon join them; but for fear of any possibility of discovery, she must consent to appear in a masculine habit.
"The lovely face of Isabel was dyed with blushes at this proposal; but as she supposed it was her father's wish, she did not venture to express any reluctance; she longed to reach the end of her journey, for though Montalva laboured to appear at ease, yet the manner in which he sometimes fixed his eyes upon her, gave a sensation of fear to the heart of Isabel, to which it had till now been a stranger. When