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chuse openly to renew his intercourse with Claudia, or to treat the duchess with that avowed neglect and indifference which he had formerly done; but he resolved to visit Claudia secretly, and to seek in her blandishments an antidote to the ennui and listlessness that hung upon his spirits.
Claudia had a female servant, whose fidelity she had the firmést reliance, and this girl had been as much attached to her as the depraved are capable of being to each other, till her connexion with Carlo Riccolini, her present paramour. Previous to her entering the service of Claudia, she had been this man's mistress, and though his threats and intreaties prevailed upon her to be silent as to their former connexion, she yet hated Claudia as a successful rival, and waited only for an opportunity to work her ruin.
One evening, while Carlo and Claudia were together, the duke came privately, and without attendants, to
her house; this girl was in the hall as he entered, and the sight of him was most welcome to her.
6 Now for revenge” (thought she, and she feigned to receive him with an air of confusion, and embarrassment.)
" How is Claudia conduct me to her," (said the duke.).
My lady cannot receive your ex. cellency (said she), because”—she stopped, apparently as if she knew not how to proceed.
The duke, who was wholly void of suspicion, exclaimed, “What! is she ill?: What is her complaint ?" }
“No, not ill, your excellency Ohi: yes, she is ill."
The manner in which this sentence was uttered, as well as the contradiction it implied, was sufficient to rouse injurious ideas, even in the most candid mind, and for the first time a doubt of Claudia's fidelity occurred to the duke; he was hastily passing the girl, when she attempted to stop him ; forgetful of
her sex, he threw her from him with violence, and walked up stairs ; he passed through several apartments till he came to her boudoir, (that boudoir which had been so often the scene of his guilty pleasures). The door was of glass, and the curtains which shaded it were partly undrawn; through it the duke beheld Carlo reclined upon a sofa, and hanging over him, in an attitude of fondness, stood Claudia.
Astonishment for some moments rivetted De Vinci to the spot where he stood, and before he recovered himself sufficiently to rush in, Claudia addressed her paramour.
" This is unkind, Carlo, (said she, in that soothing tone to which the heart of the duke had so often vibrated with transport,) you know that I am at present poor-you know that I would not refuse you the money if I had it; when did Claudia refuse a request of Carlo's ?”
“ But if you have not the money,
you have jewels,” (replied he, in a sullen tone).
“ None but what are the gifts of the duke; and those, you well know, it would be madness to part with” she).
“I understand you, madam (cries Carlo), you cannot part with those trinkets, presented you by a lover who still possesses your heart.”
“ How often must I tell you (exclaimed she, passionately), that your suspicions are unjust? How often must I assure you, that for your sake I loath this man, and nothing but necessity should ever induce me to see him again. But prythee, dearest Carlo, be reasonable, though these jewels are nearly all of value which I possess, yet I refuse them only from the fear that he should know that I have parted with them, was 'I assured that would not be the case, thou shouldst have them freely. Oh! what shouldst thou not have that was in Claudia's power to to grant.”
“ Then set thy heart at rest, for he shall never know what thou hast done with them; should they be enquired for, it is easy to invent a tale that they are lost, and you know not Claudia the service that they will be of to me.”
“ Thou shalt have them, love (cried she), smile then with thy usual cheerfulness; thou knowest thy smiles are the delight of
" She threw her arms around him as she spoke,, and pressed her lips to his. The duke could bear no more he drew his sword and rushed into the apartment. The guilty pair-started from the couch as he entered. “ Base, infa. mous woman! (exclaimed he) couldst thou find no minion for thy lascivious hours but such a wretch as this?" He made a furions pass at Carlo as he spoke, who stepped aside to evade it. The duke pressed upon him, and the villain, drawing a stiletto from his bo