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minute attentions, the power she possess ed over his heart; yet had he art enough to veil from the count and countess his love for the signora, who resigned her whole soul to the influence of a passion which she cherished with delight, unconscious that it was soon to become the torment of her existence.
The day after Montalva's arrival, D'Rosonio told him of the Signor Fiorenzo's proposal for Valeria.
"Had Fiorenzo asked the hand of my sister, and she gave it to him willingly, I should be proud to call him brother; and for Valeria's sake I grieve that she should reject him, but her heart did not speak in his favour, and who shall dictate to the heart ?"
"The signora's is probably engaged," said Montalva confusedly.
"The countess thinks not, (replied D'Rosonio); and indeed when we consider that she has been secluded in a monastry from her birth, 'till she accepted the countess's protection, I do not
think that her young heart has yet felt the power of love."
"I have heard you say that she is an orphan, but of her storyI know nothing;" cried Montalva.
"Her father was the friend of my Maria's, (said the count), and never was there a braver or a worthier man than Di Soranzo. Of noble birth, but scantily gifted with the favours of fortune, Di Soranzo sought by his sword to restore his name to its ancient splendour; he fought and bled for Naples: his sovereign acknowledged his services with thanks; but laurels, not preferment, was the reward of his bravery; and though a nation's idol, he pined in honourable indigence. One night, that he had dined with a party of officers, and was returning home at a late hour; he observed a man much muffled up, slowly following a gentleman who was evidently unconscious that he did so; Di Soranzo saw him put his hand into his bosom and draw from it a stiletto, and he instantly con
jectured his purpose; nor was he mistaken; the assassin drew near his destinprey, and at the very moment when his arm was raised to plunge the stiletto. into the bosom of the signor, Di Soranzo arrested the blow; the bravo dexterously eluded his grasp, and fled. Di Soranzo would have pursued him but for the stranger, who overwhelmed him with thanks and expressions of gratitude.
"I guess,(cried he,) from whence this dastardly blow proceeds, and my life would have fallen a sacrifice to the ba
sest treachery, but for the goodness of heaven in sending you to my assistance; and never will I, signor, forget the debt of gratitude I owe you.'
"Di Soranzo interrupted his thanks, by an assurance that they were misplaced, since common humanity only would have impelled him to save the life of a fellow creature, even at some hazard whereas, in truth, there was none in what he did. He insisted upon walking
home with the stranger, who was, he found, the Signor Lodivico Verezzi. He' rejoiced that providence had made him the instrument of saving the life of so good a man; for the worth of Verezzi was well known to him by report. When they reached the house of the signor, Di Soranzo declined his invitation to enter it; and promising to see him in the morning, took his leave.
"Early the next day, he paid his promised visit to Verezzi, who received him with the warmest demonstrations of pleasure.
""You look pale and unrefreshed signor, (said Di Soranzo); I hope that your last night's adventure is not the cause?'
"It is indeed, (replied Verezzi); this is the third time that my life has been attempted; and I have reason to believe that these attempts proceed from the son of my dearest friend.'
"But surely, (cried Di Soranzo), re
your own safety, would impel you to punish the assassin, if you know him to be such."
Though my suspicion is strong, and I think well founded, (said Verez-.. zi,) yet, I have no absolute proof; and for his father's sake, I am unwilling to take any step against him; I will, tell you signor why I suspect, and you can then judge whether I am right.
"Heaven has blest my declining age. with one daughter, who is my only child. During the pregnancy of my wife I had a severe fit of illness; and almost despairing of my recovery, she vowed if I was spared, to dedicate her expected infant to the service of heaven; her prayers were heard; I recovered, and my daughter before she saw the light was destined to a life of monastic seclusion. When I recovered, and my wife acquainted me with the vow she had made to the Virgin, I deeply regretted it; but there was now no remedy, and as the infant proved a girl, I consoled