« PreviousContinue »
for want of succour, before your eyes, because he had injured you? No, Teresa, thou speakest not as thou wouldst act. But mothers, sir (said he, turning to Montalva); cannot forgive those who injure their children; Vincentio was married but a few weeks since, to a maiden whom we hoped to have seen the wife of our Tomaso. My boy deeply regretted the loss of his Ursula, and Teresa shares her son's grief, and his resentment."
Montalva cast his eyes upon the young man; his countenance bore the traees of dejection, and the agitation which he shewed at the mention of
his mistress, proved that she was still
dear to him. That a man should save the life of his rival, was a species of generosity which the count could not comprehend, and he desired to hear the tale.
"I will relate it to you, sir (said: Jacques), but you, Tomaso, had best retire to bed; your clothes are scarcely
dry, and you must, I think, feel fatigued."
Teresa laid her hand upon the arm of her son; she found, what she had not before observed, that his clothes were very wet; and, exclaiming that he must have caught his death, she hurried him from the room.
"From his early youth,, sir (said Jacques, addressing Montalva), my poor boy loved Ursula, and she returned his passion. Her parents, like ourselves, are peasants, and they approved of the young people's regard for each other. We agreed that, when they came to a proper age, they should be married; and Tomaso, who was always a good and dutiful boy, laboured incessantly, in order, as he said, to shew me how capable he was of supporting Ursula. We were content, and the young folks happy in the prospect of their approaching union, when the family of Vincentio came to settle in our neighbourhood.
"Vincentio soon paid particular attention to Ursula, who is indeed the prettiest and the best girl for many miles round; but though Vincentio is handsome, and bought her many things, such as my son could not af ford to purchase, she listened to him with indifference, and refused to accept any of his presents; her parents, however, were mercenary, and they scolded poor Ursula severely for her behaviour to him; she pleaded her engagement to my son, but her mother declared that she would never consent to her marrying Tomaso, if she could, get a better match, and that if Ursula would but behave differently to Vincentio, there was little doubt that he would make her an offer of marriage; and poor Ursula, from a fear that he should, did all that she could. to disgust him by her coldness; but in vain. He asked her hand from her parents, and they commanded her to accept him for her husband. Ursula had
never in her whole life disobeyed their wishes, but now she thought that it would be almost criminal to obey them. Her vows were plighted to my son, and for some time she steadily refused to break them. At last, her mother fell sick, or rather, I believe (heaven forgive me), pretended to be sick, and she persuaded Ursula that her recovery depended upon the poor girl's marrying Vincentio; she promised that she would, on condition that she was allowed to come and tell us the cause of her doing so; her mother at first refused, but Ursula would not consent upon any other terms, and she was suffered to see us for the last time.
"She had not been in our cottage for some months, and my wife was rejoiced to see her. Ursula, my dear child (cried she), how welcome you are. I hope you have brought us good news-Oh! how I wish that Tomaso was here.'
"I saw by Ursula's countenance
that there was no cause for joy, but I was shocked when, at the mention of my son, she turned as pale as ashes and burst into tears.
"Oh, my mother (cried she to Teresa), I am come to you for the last tire-in a few days I am to be married.'
"Well (said my wife, hastily), you had no need to be yourself the messenger of this news, we should have known it soon enough; my poor Tomaso deserved a more constant heart-but Vincentio's riches may not make you happier than you might have been with my
"I stopped my wife, for I saw the distress of poor Ursula, and I thought. that she could not be to blame; and, indeed, when she told us how matters were, we both acknowledged that she could not act otherwise than she did.
'I would see you once more (cried she), that I might tell you all, and that I might beg of you to tell Tomaso