Page images
PDF
EPUB

breast of Montalva, when he beheld the lovely girl whom he had rendered an orphan; he was not surprised at feel. ing remorse on seeing one whom he had so greatly injured ; but liow could he account for the inexplicable pleasure which the sight of Isabel occasioned him. Lovely as she was, the heart of Montalva had ceased to throb at the sight of beauty, nor was the sentiment he felt, while he gazéd on the blushing Isabel,' of that nature which beauty creates; it was neither desire nor admiration, but a feeling equally tender and pure.

He recovered self-command enougli to express his pleasure at the sight of Isabel, whom he informed that it was his intention that she should immediately take the veil.

The suddenness of the information robbed Isabel of that fortitude which she though she had acquired, and she burst iuto tears,

“ How is this? (cried Montalva angrily) have you not long known that you were destined for a religious life, and do

you now “ Pardon me for interrupting you, signor (said the mother of St. Teresa). Retire

my

child (added she, turning to Isabe!), I wish to speak to the signor in private."

Isabel curtsied in silence, and obeyed.

[ocr errors]

CHAP. X.

“ Can you, madam (cried Montalva), as soon as they were alone, inform me whence springs the reluctance which Isabel

expresses to a destiny for which she has been intended from the first moment she saw the light; a destiny which she must embrace?"

“ I regret to hear you say so, signor (replied the lady abbess), for it is one, at which the soul of Isabel recoils; but, perhaps, when you have heard what I am authorized to propose, you may change your purpose. Alberto Sforza, of a noble Neapolitan family,

of anger.

and possessed of a princely fortune, solicits in marriage the hand of your ward.”

The abbess paused, and looked earnestly at the signor, but no expression of pleasure animated his countenance ; his features were convulsed, and he vainly strove to hide his agitation under an appearance

“I know not (continued she), what the family of Isabel may be, but she is the child of my fondest affection ; and Signor Sforza has my warmest wishes for his success."

“ Isabel then loses the signor," (interrupted Montalva).

56 A confession of her affection for him has never yet passed her lips (said the abbess), but her heart may be 'read in her expressive countenance; and that heart I am convinced is Sforza's.”

* 'Tis well, madam (haughtily replied the count); a convent is the last place where I should have supposed an amour would be carried on, and a girl

destined to the veil, I had thought you would have secluded from every

eye.”

as

“ Hear me, signor (mildly interrupted the lady abbess), when you placed Isabel under my. care, you told me that it was your wish she should, at a proper 'age, become a nember of our sisterhood, but you represented her

an orplan wit out fortune. The Signor Sforza 'might aspire to a rich and highly-born bride; how then could I suppose it wrong 'to sanction bis passion for your ward ? yet Isabel has not 'violated the duty which she may owe you ; that she is decidedly against a monastic life, I am well convinced : but I also know, that she will not become the wife of any man in defiance of your wish, if you have a right to insist upon. her obedience."

The abbess ceased, and Montalva: knew not bow to reply ; at length, he said, “ there are many reasons why. Isabel must take the veil, what those

« PreviousContinue »