« PreviousContinue »
obliged to support him to the nearest cottage; he recovered himself sufficiently to express his gratitude to Tomaso, and we did not leave him for some time."
Jacques ceased, but Montalva remained silent; the peasant's simple tale had indeed created the bitterest reflections in his breast, he could not but approve of the magnanimity which led the young rustic to risk his own life to preserve his rival's, but the involuntary comparison which he drew between Tomaso's conduct and his own, at once mortified his pride and stung his conscience. He started up abruptly, and haughtily desired to know, whether Jacques could shew him the road to Madrid. Jacques, with great readiness, said he would attend him, and the count with hasty steps quitted the cottage, where he had received a lesson that he was not destined soon to forget. In a short time they approached the city, and Montalva liberally re
warded his conductor, whom he dismissed; Jacques would have attended him into the town, but the count sternly told him that he chose to proceed alone, and the peasant quitted him with many thanks for the liberality which he so ungraciously bestowed.
MONTALVA Could not banish from his mind the story which he had heard at the cottage, and the more he thought of it the more troublesome the reproaches of his conscience became.
"Yet, why, (said he, mentally), should the foolish action of this $romantic peasant disturb me? D'Rosonio was indeed what the world calls my friend, but he had robbed me of happiness; but for him, love and fortune would have showered upon me their choicest favours; he stept between me and both; how know I, that he did not
seek to gain the affections of the weak, wavering Bianca, merely that he might make a parade of his generosity in not availing himself of her folly; but if I even suppose him innocent, yet was the injury to me the same; and through his means, I was destined to remain for life a beggar; could I bear such a lot? No, priestcraft may call my killing him a crime, but reason tells me, that from his death only could I derive the means to live."
Vainly did the count endeavour by these and similar arguments, to stifle the emotions of remorse, which the good actions of Tomaso had so poignantly revived in his mind; he lost the pleasure that he had enjoyed in viewing the city, and hoping relief from change of scene: he was about to leave it, when an incident happened which -detained him some time longer.
Returning home late one night, he perceived two cavaliers engaged in combat, they fought with the greatest
impetuosity, and he stopped a moment to consider whether he should interfere; he had but a moment, for the one made such a dexterous feint of retiring, that his adversary, in pressing forward, ran upon his sword and fell dead at his feet.
The moment he fell, the other hastened away, but he had received a wound in the arm, which bled profusely; and the count, who followed him, saw him in a few moments stagger, and but for Montalva he would have fallen.
"Let me support you, sir" (cried the count, catching his arm), the stranger thanked him, and readily accepted his assistance.
"I witnessed your rencontre (cried Montalva), and I regret that it has been so fatal."
"And I rejoice that I have revenged the cause of injured truth and innocence upon the vilest miscreant that ever disgraced humanity (cried the stranger) the wretch whom you saw