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and when the domestic returned with one of the holy fathers, he was apparently calm. The monk questioned
Isabel as to the cause of the count's illness, but her account gave no clue to it. In mild accents, father Francisco addressed the unhappy Montalva, but his reason had fled, and the wildest rav ings, burst from his lips; yet from them the father could conjecture a part of the truth. For two nights, did the good Francisco watch by the bed-side of the wretched count: reason at length resumed her sway, and he hastened to make a full confession of his crimes; but the hope of expiating them by penitence, was denied him; he had scarcely owned his guilt, when he again lost his senses. Many were the expiring sinners by whom Francisco had watched and prayed, but never did he witness a death-bed scene so full of horror: dreadful indeed were the agonies in which Montalva expired.
Almighty power! thy unerring
arm, though slow, is ever sure to punish (said father Francisco, as he vainly presented the symbol of his faith to the expiring count). Oh! could the wretched children of avarice and ambition behold this scene, could they witness the torture which rack the bosom of this unhappy and guilty man, how would they shrink appalled from the commission of crimes like his !"
Isabel, at the desire of the father, had forborne to approach the chamber of Montalva; but when all was over, the good friar revealed to her the secret of her birth; and he now informed her, that as Montalva had no other heir, she was intitled to the castle and domains of the murdered count D'Rosonio.
"Ah! never, never (exclaimed Isabel), I will return to the convent of St. Teresa; there I shall find an asylum; but never will I call the inheritance purchased by blood mine."
"On this point, my child (said the
father), thy conscience must decide; nor will I urge thee; but calm thy spirits, lady Isabel, the crime of Montalva attaches not to thee; in the sight. of Heaven, thou art guiltless."
"Oh! holy father (cried the weeping Isabel), can the child of a murderer hope for peace?"
"Be not more severe to thyself, than Heaven is to thee (exclaimed the friar). I again repeat, that in its eye thou art guiltless; and in the duties of religion, in the consolations of friendship, thy innocent mind will soon be soothed to peace."
"Peace! (thought Isabel) Ah! càn I hope for peace, when Alberto is for ever lost to me? No prospect, however distant, of our union now remains; for never, never can I become his.”
The good friar procured for Isabel a conveyance, and a trusty escort to the convent of St. Teresa. The young orphan was formed to attract regard; she had made her way to the heart of
Father Francisco, and the benediction which he gave her on parting, was truly paternal. "Do not dismiss Fa
bricio, till you have reached the convent, my child (said the good_father), and let me know by letter how you have borne the journey."
Isabel promised to comply with the father's injunction, and again did he recommend her to the protection of the Virgin, as he placed her in the vehicle that waited to convey her to the con vent.
Isabel (or rather Valeria), for so she had been named by her unfortunate mother), travelled without stopping, until she reached the abode of her infancy great indeed was the joy of the lady abbess at once more clasping her favourite in her arms.
"My child, my Isabel (cried she), by what miracle art thou restored to me?"
"By a miracle, indeed (said Valeria, as she returned the abbess's embrace). Oh! dearest mother, but for the pecu
liar interposition of Heaven, never would you have beheld your Isabel again; but I will tell thee all.”
"Not now, my child (said the mother of St. Teresa); thou needest rest and refreshment, to-morrow we will converse more calmly."
The whole sisterhood rejoiced in the return of Valeria; and when the next day she told the lady abbess by what awful means her life had been preserved, that kind friend joined her in thanks and praises to that divine power who would not suffer innocence to perish.
The abbess highly approved of her resolution not to appropriate to her own use any part of the estate of D'Rosonio.
"The soul of Alberto (cried she), is, I well know, far above the consideration of fortune; he seeks thy hand alone."
"My dearest mother (cried Valeria), on this subject spare me; never, even should the signora herself wish it, never