Page images

and ambition, rendered him odious to her.

The Marquis de Laney, a French nobleman, whose gallantry and accomplishments rendered him a general favourite with the Italian ladies, saw, and was captivated with Claudia ; nor was she less pleased with him. The unsuspecting Montoni left her in full

possession of her liberty, and she soon let the marquis know the conquest he had made. De Laney received her advances with transport, and for some time, their intrigue was carried on with secresy.

Claudia gave the marquis several in. timations of her wish to desert Montoni for him, but to these hints he appeared insensible ; he was indeed fascinated with her person, but his fortune was moderate, and he did not wish to diminish it, by supporting a mistress in that stile of laxurious extravagance which he knew she would require Claudia saw that her hints were ur:


[ocr errors]

ticed, and she divined his motives but a wish to devote herself to him, inspired her with a design the most diabolical that ever entered the heart of an abandoned woman.

Montoni had a favourite nephew whom he always meant to make his heir ; but in the moments of doating fondness, he had told Claudia that she was amply provided for. The attention which she still thought it necessary to pay him, became to the last degree irksome to her. “ His death (thought she), would give me independence, and the man I love would then be securely mine;" no sooner had she conceived this horrid idea, than she formed a plan for the destruction of the man to whose generosity she owed. every thing. Equally artful and wicked, she determined to proceed with caution, and the frequency of assassinations at Rome, made her judge that that was the safest way of getting rid of the unhappy Montoni; could she but engage

[ocr errors]


De Lancy in her project, it might, she thought, be easily executed, and she determined to do so speedily.

She took more than usual pains to adorn her person against their next meeting, which she purposely deferred for some time; at last a welcome summons reached De Laney, and he flew to the place of appointment.

“ Claudia, my angel (exclaimed the marquis), what an age since we have met; a hundred times have I been tempted to transgress your injunction, never to write to you ; so greatly did I long to know the reason of this unkind delay.”

“ It has not been my fault, De Laney (cried she), but I much doubt whether we shall be able to meet again ; Montoni has suspicions of me ; jealousy will: soon convert them into certainties, and I foresee that we must part.”

“ No, dearest Claudia (said the mar... quis), I cannot consent to resign thee ; some means must be thought of to pre

vent it; but let us not poison the present by anticipations of the future. I cannot bear to see my Claudia's countenance robbed of its usual vivacity ; look cheerfully, my love."

“ De Laney (cried she, putting her hand in his), am I indeed dear to

[ocr errors]


“ Unkind Claudia, do you then doubt my affection ? (returned the marquis)."

" Wouldst thou wish that I was wholly thine ? (said she, without noticing his reply). Hear me, De Laney (continued she, preventing him from interrupting her), should any circumstance : give me freedom and independence, nay, more, affluence, might I expect that Claudia would then be the chosen of thy heart?” She pressed the hand of the marquis to her lips, while her fine eyes were tenderly fixed

upon as slie spoke.

“ Dearest Claudia (replied he), thou knowest that to be able to call thee wholly mine, would be the greatest

his face,

happiness of my life;

life; had

my fortune been ample, I would long since have invited thee to share it."

“I have thought of a plan which will render us happy ; 'tis one, indeed, that necessity only could have suggested; but I repeat to thee, it is the only step that we can take to avoid being separated.”

She reclined her cheek upon the marquis's shoulder, and he fondly strained her to his heart, while he asked what her project was.

“ It is one that requires some courage (said she), but it is nevertheless easy and safe of execution; one cireumstance only can give me liberty and affluence, and that must be the death of Montoni!"

De Laney was thunderstruck. He put her from him, and gazed wildly on her for a moment.

- Woman! (exclaimed he), woman! no, 'tis profanation to call thee so.

all thee so. Monster, fiend, wouldst thou then sink us both to eter


« PreviousContinue »