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sacrifice what I called her prejudices to my happiness; and I solemnly vowed that without she did so, I, would not answer for the extremes to which disappointment and despair might' drive
"To this rhapsody Lauretta did not deign to return an answer, but as my evil genius would have it, the domestic on whose fidelity I thought I could depend, betrayed my secret to my wife. She read my letter to Lauretta, need I say that it pierced her heart with a thousand daggers? She charged the servant, as I afterwards learned, to bring her the answer to it; and when she found that there was none, she expressed a strong curiosity to see Lauretta; this curiosity she found means to gratify, and she formed the strangest resolution that ever perhaps entered into the head of woman.
"She expressed a wish to visit a convent at some distance from Rome, and as her absence was rather a relief than
otherwise to me, I did not oppose her desire; she set out on her journey, attended by a proper retinue, whom she dismissed when she reached the convent. The time fixed upon for her return had nearly elapsed when I received from her this letter. The friar presented one to Alberto, who read as follows.
"For the first time perhaps Fernando, any thing that comes from me will be welcome to you; yes, I am at last aware of the cause that has converted indifference into disgust, and I am sensible that all hope, all possibility of my gaining your heart is for ever at an end.
"Was the object of your passion a licentious woman, did she willingly resign herself to your unhallowed desires, I might think, satiated by time and possession, you might at last return to me with a heart more sensible than your's has yet been of my love for you; but
the native purity and nobleness of this young creature's mind, will never suffer her to become your mistress; and tormented by a passion which you can neither gratify nor forget, your future days present the most gloomy prospect.
"Fernando this shall not be; to
what purpose should I suffer you to drag a chain the most galling? Life has not for me a single charm; my infant, for whom alone I wished to live, is the abode of bliss and peace; my husband's heart is for ever alienated from me, alienated did I say, alas! I never possessed it; we are a strong proof how truly involuntary is the passion of love. Caressed, flattered, and admired from my childish days, by parents and relations who doated upon me, and accustomed as I grew up to the voice of adulation wherever I turned my steps, I rashly married you in the hope, or rather certainty, that a very short time would render your affection equal to
my own; if I know my own heart, this idea sprung not from vanity, but love; it was however erroneous; and severely, oh! Heaven only knows how severely, have I been punished for ever entertaining it.
"When I quitted you to visit the convent of St. Sebastiano, it was my fixed purpose never to return; you shall at least be freed from the sight of a being, who I am convinced is odious to you: I shall be henceforth dead to the world, for to the gloomy duties of a monastic life will I devote my future days; make what use of my doing so you please; a rumour of my death will never be contradicted; and should you lead to the altar another and a happier bride, never shall her felicity be disturbed by the unfortunate Corinna,
"You will, I know, think more highly of this sacrifice than it merits. Believe, me Fernando, in the solitude of a cloister,. I shall be less miserable than in your splendid palace; I shall at least
have the comfort, in parting with
ever, to reflect that you must at last be sensible how much, how tenderly you were beloved; I shall also know that the future happiness of your life will be my gift; and that the sacrifice which I have proved myself capable of making will entitle me to your gratitude; and oh ! may that sacrifice be the means of bestowing upon you that felicity which Is for ever lost to
"Generous, but extraordinary woman (cried Alberto, returning the letter), but proceed, father."
"You may suppose, my son (continued the friar), how much this letter astonished me. I lost no time in endeavouring to discover the retreat of Corin
, but in vain; all that I could learn was, that she had privately quitted the convent of St. Sebastiano; but whither she had bent her steps, none knew. I returned to Rome, and sought to lose the remembrance both of Corinna and