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She caught the distemper, which at first wore a favourable appearance; but by a sudden turn it became mortal. Father Francisco was sent for, and in the most mild and parental manner, he apprized her of her approaching fate. She heard him with calmness. "The will of Heaven be done (cried she), I have but one wish, and that is, that you would not leave me, holy father, till all his over." The friar promised that he would not, and a few hours released Viola from a life of suffering for one of everlasting joy and peace.
Her death cast a gloom over the spirits of the good father, and Alberto staid with him a few days longer than he had intended. Every hour made the signor and the father more pleased with each other, and Alberto was surprised to find that Francisco possessed talents which his modesty had hitherto obscured, and a knowledge of the world that appeared wonderful in the inhabitant of a cloister; on his expressing
some curiosity to know the events of the monk's life, Francisco replied, "Mine, my son, is a simple tale; yet it will serve to show thee that even virtue may be carried to excess; and as it will beguile a tedious hour I will relate it..
THE FRIAR'S STORY.
"Thou art right, my son, in supposing that I was not originally intended for an inhabitant of a cloister, I am descended from one of the noblest families in Italy; and possessed of an almost princely fortune, I aspired to the highest dignities of the state; and ambition left, as I fancied, no room in heart for any softer passion.
"The family of Bernini solicited my alliance, and as theirs was reckoned the most powerful at Rome, I readily entered into a treaty of marriage with a daughter of the Count Vincentio Bernini. Of the mind of Corinna I knew:
nothing, but I saw that her person was charming, and her talents and graces were the admiration of all Rome; yet, lovely as she was, I viewed her only as a creature who might, be a means of increasing that power and popularity which I sighed to obtain, and I gave her my hand without the least sensation of tenderness for her.
"The temper of Corinna was, unhappily for us both, strongly tinctured with romance, and her views in marriage were widely different from mine; in short, she loved me; she was not blind to my indifference, but she hoped in time to subdue it, and she gave me her hand with a heart full of hopes that were destined, alas! never to be realized.
"Of what materials my heart was composed I cannot define; but neither the beauty nor the tenderness of my wife; neither the cheerfulness with which she bore my neglect, nor the pains she took to contribute to my happiness, not even the birth of a son, could make
impression upon it; I treated her with cold respect, but nothing more.
"The time, however, was approaching, when the phantom, ambition, that had hitherto dazzled and misled me, was about to lose its influence over my mind; but, alas! I was destined to exchange it for a passion that afterwards became the torment of my life.
"I grew disgusted at the treatment which I met with at court, and I retired for a short period to a beautiful villa at a little distance from Rome; thither Corinna accompanied me, and, for the first time, I began to taste of pleasure in the society of my wife, and to feel a father's tenderness warm my breast, as I caressed my infant son. Delighted at the change in my conduct, my wife exerted all her powers to gain my heart, and never sorely did nature bestow on a creature so many rare gifts. I was amused and grateful; but yet, I was not more than grateful.
“ One day that I had strolled to some
distance from the villa, I was alarmed with the groans of one in pain; I look-. ed around, and espied amongst the trees, a young female seated on the grass. She was chafing her leg, which was naked, and of uncommon beauty, and the expression of her countenance, while she did so, convinced me that she was suffering violent pain. At my approach, she hastily covered her leg and foot. I enquired whether she had hurt herself, and she replied, that she feared. she had sprained her ancle. On attempting to rise, this opinion was confirmed, for she sunk upon the grass unable to stand. I learned that she lived in a cottage at a little distance, and I offered to carry her thither. This offer she at first refused butat last, she was persuaded to accept of it, and I raised her in my arms. Fearful of falling, she threw her arm round me, but the next moment she withdrew it, and with a countenance covered with blushes, she said she feared that her weight was too much for me to support. How strange, how in