« PreviousContinue »
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
perish by my hand, has tried to rob me of all that rendered life desirable to me, he poisoned for months a happiness that, but for his baleful wiles, might have been termed almost celestial, and not satisfied with rendering me a prey to all the horrors of jealousy and suspense, he had almost wrought my feelings to such a pitch of phrenzy, as to make me lift my hand against the life of a beloved and innocent wife; but Providence is ever just, and the villain has at last met with his re ward."
The blood, which still flowed profusely, and the exertion which he used in speaking, made the stranger so very faint, that it was with the utmost difficulty he could proceed; and the count rather carried, than supported him, till they reached a large and magnificent mansion, at which he knocked with the authority of a master; it was opened by a servant, who started with af
fright, when he beheld the situation of his lord.
The stranger invited Montalva to enter, and the count, whose curiosity was strongly excited, followed him into a handsome apartment, "tell the marchioness that I am engaged (said the stranger), and send Agnes to me;" the domestic retired, and in a few moments an old female, who ap peared something above the common class, entered.
"Oh holy Mary (cried she), in what dreadful adventure has your excellency been engaged ?"" Ask no questions, good Agnes (said he), but prepare to dress my arm, and remember I charge you on your life, not to let your lady know I am wounded."
Agnes did as the marquis desired, and though it was easy to see what pain, the dressing of his wound gave him, yet, he did not shrink from the