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“ My birth is noble, but the name of my family, signor, you must excuse my divulging ; the patrimony I inherited from my parents, was small ; but a maiden aunt, whose fortune was immense, adopted me; and from an early age, I was considered as her heir; I had the usual faults of young men, but my partial aunt saw them not; and to her blind indulgence, I owe all my misfortunes. The death of
father placed my little fortune in my own power, and I soon dissipated it in riot and extravagance. Though my aunt had avowed that I was
to be her heir, she did not, large as her fortune was, make me an allowance sufficient for my rank; and the habit of dissipation, which I had acquired, became my torment, when I lost the means of supporting it. A young Frenchman, who was one of the companions of my idle hours, advised me to have recourse to a jew; who would, he said, supply me with money ; but on the most exorbitant terms. To that I was indifferent, the death of my aunt would put me in possession of immense wealth, and from her time of life it was an event which I thought must soon happen; I therefore told my friend that I was willing to agree to any term's that the usurer might demand, and he took me to the house of the jew, who was named Isaac Mendez; with the most fawning civility the extortioner offered me any money
I wanted, and in an evil hour I borrowed a large sum.
I fully intended to be more prudent in my expenditure, than I had yet been,
and. I hoped that the money thus obtained, would last me till I had the means to satisfy my creditor; but I knew little of my own heart, and less of the temptations to which I should be exposed. When my friends, as they stiled themselves, were informed of the means by which I became possessed of money to continue the career of dissipation which I had begun, schemes of pleasure were daily proposed, which I had not the resolution to object to, and my money wasted rapidly.
In an excursion which I made a few miles from Naples, I was struek with the
appearance of a small neat dwelling, embosomed in a grove; it appeared too humble to be the abode of affluence, and and yet too good to be inhabited by the children of poverty. Fatigue and beat had rendered me thirsty, and I determined to try whether the tenant of this lovely spot would afford me rest and refreshment. An aged domestic opened the rustic gate, and courteously invited
me to enter ; he placed wine and refreshments before me; when I had satisfied my thirst, I asked him who inhabited the cottage besides himself.
“ Two ladies, signor, whom I have the honour to serve," (was his reply); and as he spoke, they entered. I rose, and apologized for my intrusion.
" You are welcome, signor, (said the eldest), to what our cottage affords ; its fare, though homely, may be acceptable to a weary traveller."
While I replied to this speech, I gazed attentively on the signora ; she was upwards of fifty, but never did I behold a form so noble or so dignified ; time had indeed stolen from her cheek its fresh ness, and from her eye some portion of its lustre; but he had no power over the graces of her countenance, and her figure was symmetry itself.
In thanking the signora for her hose pitality, I requested permission to rest a few minutes longer; which she readily granted. Her young companion now spoke to the domestic, and the melody of her voice attracted my attention; her figure was small, but beautifully formed; and her countenance, though not striking, was rendered inexpressibly interesting, by the most expressive dark blue eyes I ever beheld.
" Retire to your chamber, Viola, and finish the drawing which you began this morning," said the elder signora); and the fair Viola, timidly bowing to me, retired. Notwithstanding the noble frankness of the signora's air and manner, there was a dignity about her that forbade familiarity, and after I had rested for a short time, I again thanked her and retired.
“Strange,(thought I), that two women, whose appearance bespeaks them of a rank far superior to the vulgar, should be the inhabitants of so recluse a spot. The curiosity which I felt was but of short duration ; new schemes of pleasure put the adventure out of my thoughts, and in a few days it was forgotten.