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"Ah! (thought she), did my dear abbess know the lot to which I am destined, how would her heart bleed for her Isabel. Oh! that I had been allowed to remain with her, but the terms on which such a boon would have been granted, I could not, I dared not accept them. Oh! Alberto, how could I offer to my God, a heart that thou wouldst share with him? No, let me not wish that I had purchased a secure asylum, at the expence of everlasting remorse; whatever may be my destiny, at least, the consciousness of guilt shall not be added to my sufferings."
She now prepared to undress, but the dampness of the bed prevented her; a thousand vague apprehensions filled her mind; but determining to subdue them, she threw herself on her knees, and poured out her whole soul in prayer to Heaven; nor were her prayers vain: she arose from her devotions, with a mind more tranquil, and spirits soothed, by a reliance on the justice, as well as
the mercy of that Almighty Being, at whose nod creation trembles; yet, whose loving kindness is extended even to the meanest of his creatures.
Isabel loosened the collar of her shirt, and wrapping her cloak around her, she sought repose for sometime in vain; at length, fatigue overcame her disinclination to sleep, and she sunk into a sound and tranquil slumber.
When she had retired, Montalva again reviewed his situation, and again, did the declaration of the minstrel steel his heart against the hapless Isabel. The chamber to which, by his orders, she had been conducted, had, as he well knew, a trap-door that led to vaults. beneath the castle; these vaults were known only to himself, and in them he proposed to deposit the body of Isabel. When he thought she was lost in sleep, he proceeded to her chamber; the door, as he expected, was fastened; but he knew of another in the arras, which was not easily discovered; through this, he
entered. When he approached his distined victim, her repose was calm as the sleep of infants; the cloak in which she had wrapt herself had fallen aside, and discovered her lovely neck and basom,. which was partly exposed; Montalva's hand was on his dagger, but his arm was nerveless.
"Fool, coward, that I am! (cried he,) shall I spare this girl, 'till I myself perish? no, never shall public disgrace overtake Montalva," he approached her, but in vain essayed to strike. "What madness (said he, mentally, and averting his eyes from Isabel) to suffer this weakness to unman me!" she made a slight movement; a low, and inarticulate sound escaped her lips, and a blush suffused her ingenuous and lovely countenance. Spite of himself, Montalva. gazed upon her; and to his surprise, he traced in her features a strong resemblance to Valeria D'Branzo. Thethought of her, again suspended his. purpose; when the minstrel's mirror,
and the objects it presented, darted into "There is but one way,"
(thought he), and his dagger was pointed at the bosom of Isabel; but what was the astonishment, the horror of the count, when the form of Valeria, bending over the sleeping Isabel, was distinctly visible to him!
"Wretched Montalva, to what unutterable woe would the murder of Isabel have consigned thee! She is thy own daughter."
Too well did the count recollect in the low and hollow accents of the ærial form, on which he gazed in mute horror, the sweet voice of the betrayed Valeria; and with a groan of agony, he sunk senseless on the floor; his fall awakened Isabel, and her screams brought the old domestic to the chamber. Long did they vainly endeavour to recover the wretched count; at length, he opened his eyes, which he fixed upon Isabel with a convulsive shudder,
"Where is she" (said he, after a long pause)." I am here, signor" (said Isabel).
"I mean thy mother: Knowest thou not that she has burst the confines of the tomb, to save thee from perishing by a father's hand," groaned out Montalva.
"Alas! his senses wander" (said. Isabel), for to her the spectre had not. been visible.
"I tell thee, I would have murdered thee; yes, though thou art my child" (cried Montalva)..
"There is a convent near us, the. fathers are skilled in medicine" (said. Lopez).
"Fly then for one" (said Isabel), yet, the next moment she was terrified at. the idea of remaining alone with Montalva.
"His purpose here was surely an evil one" (thought she), and she called back Lopez, but he was already gone. The count sunk into a state of stupor;