Page images

he could not help feeling for the murder of D'Rosonio, he flattered himself would be obliterated by time; and in the possession of wealth, and the enjoyments which it would procure him, he fancied that he should be happy.


MONTALVA ventured slowly to give to Anselmo an idea that he wished to possess the inheritance of Isabel, but timidity and distrust, the inseparable companions of guilt, prevented him for a long time from being explicit; at length he ventured fully to disclose his wishes to Anselmo, who met them half-way.

"I am certain, (cried the artful Montalva), that I do no wrong to the memory of my late dear friend. I know from circumstances that the countess was unfaithful; and much do I doubt whether Isabel is really the child of D'Rosonio."

This pretence was too poor to impose upon Anselmo; but he seemed to be persuaded that the signor spoke the truth.

"It is indeed a pity that this infant should stand between you and so noble an inheritance; she must be removed." "But how, Anselmo?" (cried Montalva).

"That, signor (said he), demands consideration."

"You will observe, Anselmo, (said Montalva), Isabel's life must be sacred." "Heaven forbid that I should wish it otherwise, (said Anselmo); if we can devise any means to make the world suppose her dead, our point will be gained; and if you will allow me, signor, I dare say that I can soon think of some plan that will give you the domains of D'Rosonio, and consign Isabel to obscurity."

Montalva thanked his confidant, who in a few days afterwards proposed to him to give Isabel a sleeping draught,

[merged small][ocr errors]

and when the domestics were persuaded of her death, he observed, that it would be easy to remove her from Naples, and place her in safety in some obscure situation, where her birth could never be discovered, and where she might pass for an orphan, dependent upon the bounty of Montalva, whose name and condition it would be easy to conceal.

When Anselmo related his project to Montalva, the signor execrated his own folly in not thinking of it himself; a plan at once so simple, and so secure, would have been easy, of execution without a confidant; "and the secret (thought he) would still have been my


He readily agreed to Anselmo's proposal. A powerful soporific gave to the little Isabel a death-like slumber, that imposed upon all who saw her. In the night before her funeral obsequies were to be performed, Montalva and Anselmo removed her from the magnificent coffin in which she had been laid, and

Anselmo secreted himself with her at a cottage, some miles from Naples, for a few days, till he was joined by Mon talva, who determined to take the little orphan to a convent at a considerable distance.

"There (said he, mentally) she will be safe; and, if it is not her own fault, she may be happy."" "And what right

hast thou to be the arbiter of her destiny," whispered conscience, but her voice was disregarded, and the wretched Montalva, in adding crime to crime, dared to look forward to the future, and to hope for peace.

Montalva fabricated a story which he thought would answer his purpose. He represented Isabel as an orphan destitute of fortune, and solely dependant on the bounty of a relation, who intended her, at a proper age, to take the veil; he paid five years' pension in advance, and received from the lady abbess every assurance that she should meet with the kindest treatment.

« PreviousContinue »