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who will conquer this weakness, of which she is indeed ashamed."
The abbess pressed her to her bosom.
“ Thou hast no cause for shame, my dear and innocent girl (cried she), i
I know not whether I ought to inform you, and yet my word is pledged to do so; there is a chance, that if motives of prudence alone influence the Signor Valdorno in destining you to a múnas. tic life, you may escape the veil.
“ Alberto Sforza,” she paused, and a glance at Isabel betrayed to her penetrating eye the reason of that reluctance which her young friend had expressed to a religious life : the heart of Isabel had unconsciously imbibed a passion for Alberto ; treated by him as a beloved sister, she never suspected that her regard was different to what she would have felt for a brother; but this mention of his name gave birtli to a thousand hopes and wishes that she had never hitherto dared to in
ilge, and her secret was for the first ne known to herself. The abbess (without seeming to ptice her confusion) continued — AL erto Sforza loves you.” The blood ished tumultuously into the fair face nd neck of Isabel, while in low, but elighted accents, she exclaimed, “ good leavens! is it possible :" “ His passion
perceive is not displeasing to you said the abbess), but this, dear Isabel, 3 a subject on which you must not ndulge too much hope ; recollect the power which the Signor Valdorno posjesses, and remember that we know not how he may exert it.” The flush of hope and exultation gavę' place to a deadly paleness, but Isabel continued silent.
“ On your prudence, my beloved child (said the lady abbess), Signora Sforza and myself rely ; Alberto has received from his mother permission to open to you his heart, but my Isabel must not let him see her's; if he is
once assured of being beloved; reason
, bu and prudence will plead in vain, and should Valdorno refuse his consent, we shall have, from the impetuosity of Alberto, much to fear; remember then dear Isabel, that on your guardian's decision every thing must' depend."
Isabel promised an implicit compliance with the wishes of her friend, and the lady abbess left her to her own reflections; she could not for some time arrange her thoughts. Alberto's passion, his mother's goodness in sanctioning it, and the strong probability, which to her appeared almost a certainty, that her guardian would rejoice in such an offer for her, formed altogether such a picture of enchanting, unboped for happiness, that she could scarcely believe it real, and it was not till tears relieved her full heart, that she became sufficiently calm to pour out her whole soul the in prayer before the throne of grace. Though educated in a convent, the piety of Isabel was free from supersti
i, but not wholly untinctured by husiasm; with the most fervent deion did she beseech the assistance her patroness, the Virgin, and she je from prayer with a mind soothed
relieved. Iard, however, was her task when erto opened to her his whole heart; secret of hers, hovered on her lips,
prudence suppressed it; yet had erto no reason to complain of her aviour, she did not indeed own her sion ; but her varying countenance, eyes, in which every emotion of her I was painted, told a tale that her gue refused to utter; and Sforza tted her happiest of the happy. Twelve years nearly had elapsed ce Montalva had placed Isabel in the tude of St. Teresa : and vainly had sought in every pursuit an antidote the remorse which preyed upon his :: For years past he had resided at
castle of D'Rosonio, and lost in som and despondeney, bé renounced
Mont sity a de
all idea of ever again mixing with the world. One evening, as he sat lost in melancholy músing, the distant sound of laughter struck his ear, he listened, and heard it more distinctly; he summoned one of his domestics, and sternly. enquired the cause of their riotous meriment.
“ So please you my lord (replied Antonio), a wandering minstrel besought from us a shelter for the night, he is in truth not meanly skilled in melody, and it was one of his romances that caused the laughter which has disturbed
excellenza." A low, but sweetly plaintive strain, at this moment arrested the count's attention; he waved his hand as a signal for Antonio to throw open the folding-doors -again the strain vibrated on his ear.
“. Thou art right, Antonio, this minstrel is indeed a master of his art (said he), bring him before me.
“ The delighted Antonio flew to obey the orders of his lord. From the