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liar interposition of Heaven, never would you have beheld your Isabel again; but I will tell thee all.”
“ Not now, my child (said the mother of St. Teresa); thou needest rest and refreshment, to-morrow we will converse more calmly."
The whole sisterhood rejoiced in the return of Valeria ; and when the next day she told the lady abbess by what awful means her life had been preserved, that kind friend joined her in thanks and praises to that divine power who would not suffer innocence to perish.
The abbess highly approved of her resolution not to appropriate to her own use any part of the estate of D'Rosonio.
“ The soul of Alberto (cried she), is, I well know, far above the consideration of fortune; he seeks tly hand alone."
“ My dearest mother (cried Valeria), on this subject spare me; never, even should the signora herself wish it, never can I become the wife of Sforza. What! leaded as I am with ignominy, think you that I would stain the honour of Alberto, by an alliance with a nameless wretch, the child of guilt and shame? No, I will at least be just, nor take advantage of a lover's weakness to render him for ever miserable.”
Vainly did the abbess try to combat the resolution of her beloved Valeria ; but hard indeed did she find it to resist the tears and entreaties of Signora Sforza. When the abbess made known her departure, the grief of Alberto knew no bounds; he sunk into a degree of melancholy and despondence, that alarmed his mother for his intellects : and no sooner did she hear that Valeria was returned, than she flew to the convent. The abbess 'had besought her not to inform Alberto of the arrival of Valeria, and when the signora reached the convent, the mother of St. Teresa went herself to receive her.
“Oh! my dear friend, how great is my happiness (said the signora), but
say, is our dear child indeed restored to use are all the obstacles that opposed her union with my son, removed ?”
The abbess's account considerably damped the joy of the signora. “ Yet, (cried she), I will not despair ; surely this dear child will never persevere in her cruel resolution, when she is convinced that the peace, perhaps the life of Alberto, depend upon her compliance with our wishes."
But the arguments, nay, even the tears of the signora were vain. "6 You rend my-heart, oh! my more than mother (cried she), but my resolution is not to be shaken.''
This was an answer that Alberto would not take. “ I will see her (cried he), I will hear from her own lips the sentence of my life or death. What! shall that angel, whose mind is the seat of purity and truth, and in whose heart every virtue finds a place; shall she reproach herself for guilt in which she had no share ? No, dearest Isabel, the voice of thy Alberto, shall soothe thy spirit to peace and compliance.”
Fearful of her own weakness, Valeria refused to see Sforza.
“She cannot (cried he), interdict my writing; surely she does not know, she does not conceive what I suffer ; I have deceived myself, she never loved me.”
“ Be not unjust, my son (said his mother), the noblest motives actuate this charming and disinterested girl; nor is her heart less a sufferer I am convinced than your's ; believe me, I regret her resolution not less than you do; but I respect her motives, and I know well what a perseverance in them must cost her.”
That day, Alberto sent her the following letter :
“ In what words can I beseech my adored Isabel (for by that name only does my heart acknowledge you), to grant me at least a hearing? my mother, my dear mother, tells me, that her prayers and tears have been un
availing; and can I expect that my influence will prevail, where her's has failed ? yet, to resign that hope, which is the charm of my existence; that prospect which alone enables me to live. Oh, Isabel! do not require from your Alberto such a sacrifice. ,
“ Suffer me to picture to you, beloved of my heart, what must be the consequences of your persisting in the cruel resolution which you have formed. Yes, Isabel, I must call it a cruel one; think you behold my mother, whose heart is known to you, sinking into old age, and surrounded, perhaps, by the children of my sisters, but languishing to add to the little groupe, those of her Alberto ; and reflecting with bitterness, that no hopes of such a blessing remains, and that the name of Sforza must perish.
You love my mother, can you consent then to plant a perpetual thorn in her breasts for you well know that my happiness would constitute hers. You have owned that