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"Yet, who (said the pious and tolerant Francisco), shall dare to limit the mercies of the Most High? and in the sight of Heaven, how know we that the unhappy count's pangs have not expiated the enormity of his guilt! My profession renders me acquainted with the depravity of the human heart, and many are the death-bed scenes which I have witnessed; but I hope to be spared the sight of such a one again; for never, never did I view such hor
That night the father was sent for to a lady, who had been a benefàctress to the convent, and who was suddenly seized with an illness that threatened to be fatal. It was late when he returned. "I have been witnessing a scene different to the one we spoke of yesterday (said the to Sforza). I have seen a woman meet death with the resignation of a saint, and the courage of a martyr. Poor Viola! one error, one single error, clouded thy life with woe;
but years of penitence have long since expiated it, and thou art now gone « where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest'."
The deceased penitent, was indeed the Viola, whom Anselmo had seduced. When, instigated by her attendant, she had thrown herself upon the generosity of his aunt, the signora, she did it not from a spirit of revenge, but a hope that the signora, whose benevolence was the theme of universal praise, would influence her nephew to do her justice. She totally concealed the pecuniary transactions between them, from a generous wish not to lessen Anselmo more than she could help in the eyes of the signora; and when she found that he steadily refused to marry her, and that his aunt, in consequence, cast him from her affection, she bitterly regretted what she had done. With tears did she supplicate the signora to pardon him, but that lady would not listen to her.
"He knows the conditions on which alone he can hope for pardon (cried she), and surely they are easy ones; if he will not comply with them, let him 'embrace the beggary he deserves.”
Had Viola possessed the means, her faithless lover would have been amply supplied; but the signora, who feared that some step of that kind might be taken by the generous girl, though liberal to her in every other way, dispensed her pecuniary favours with a sparing hand. When the signora
learned that Anselmo had entered the service of Montalva, as his secretary, she hoped that a station so inferior to what he had been born to expect, would soon grow irksome, and that he would gladly accept her offered pardon, and give his hand to Viola; but these hopes were destroyed by his death. He had been highly beloved, and he was deeply regretted by his aunt; but from the. moment that she learned the intelligence of his fate, all hope of happiness
fled from Viola. The signora declared her heiress to her large fortune; but riches could not heal the wounds of disappointed love, and though outwardly composed, she was internally miserable.
The interest which her patroness: made amongst the great, procured the pardon of her uncle; and she enjoyed the pleasure of being again clasped to the bosom of her kind and indulgent aunt. The Jew, who feared that he might be punished for his villainy, fled from Naples; and the Signora Villoni remained ignorant of the events that had taken place during her absence..
In a few years, Viola lost her benefactress, who bequeathed to her the whole of her fortune; and never was money appropriated to a nobler purpose. Viola was indeed charity per sonified; her heart and her purse were alike open to the children of distress; and from that time till the close of her meritorious life, her only pleasure cour
sisted in the exercises of benevolence and religion. Her beauty and her fortune procured her many lovers; but never did she lose the remembrance of Anselmo, and no entreaties could prevail upon her to enter the bands of Hymen.
To the good Francisco, who had been for years her spiritual director, every secret of her soul was known and he encouraged her to hope a pardon for the only sin that had ever stained her life,a sin that had been so truly expiated. She fell a martyr to her humanity; a servant who had lived with her for years, caught a pestilențial distemper, and the benevolent Viola would attend upon her herself.
"My life is in the hands of God (said she, when her friends dissuaded her from doing so), and to his will I am resigned; but I should reproach myself for ever, if, through a fear of danger, I shrunk from what I think is positive duty."