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perish by my hand, has tried to rob me of all that rendered life desirable to me, he poisoned for months a happiness that, but for his baleful wiles, might have been termed almost celestial, and not satisfied with rendering me a prey to all the horrors of jealousy and suspense, he had almost wrought my feelings to such a pitch of phrenzy, as to make me lift my hand against the life of a beloved and innocent wife; but Providence is ever just, and the villain has at last met with his re ward."
The blood, which still flowed profusely, and the exertion which he used in speaking, made the stranger so very faint, that it was with the utmost diffi- culty he could proceed; and the count rather carried, than supported him, till they reached a large and magnificent mansion, at which he knocked with the authority of a master; it was opened by a servant, who started with af
fright, when he beheld the situation of his lord.
The stranger invited Montalva to enter, and the count, whose curiosity was strongly excited, followed him into a handsome apartment, "tell the marchioness that I am engaged (said the stranger), and send Agnes to me;" the domestic retired, and in a few moments an old female, who appeared something above the common class, entered.
"Oh! holy Mary (cried she), in what dreadful adventure has your excellency been engaged ?"-" Ask no questions, good Agnes (said he), but prepare to dress my arm, and remember I charge you on your life, not to let your lady know I am wounded."
Agnes did as the marquis desired, and though it was easy to see what pain, the dressing of his wound gave him, yet, he did not shrink from the
operation; when she had done it, and retired, he turned to the count.
"I have most probably to thank you for my life (said he), since without your assistance, I do not think that I could have reached my own house; when we have supped, I will relate to you all the circumstances that urged me to the act which you witnessed."
They now went into another apartment, where a magnificent supper was laid, the most exquisite viands, graced the board, and the most delicious wines, in goblets of gold, tempted the marquis and Montalva in vain; they neither did honour to the repast, which was soon concluded, and when it was over the marquis addressed Montalva as follows:
"You see before you, sir, the Marquis de Santenos, sprung from one of the noblest families in Spain, and master of a princely fortune; I entered life with the happiest prospects; while I was yet very young, I saw and loved
Donna Maria de Guzman; neither her birth nor fortune were equal to mine, but the graces of her mind and bosom, were such as to render her a wife for an emperor: she heard my vows with complacency, and as I stood high in the favour of her relations, we were speedily united.
"For some time, nothing could exceed the felicity that I enjoyed; my Maria, at the end of a year, brought me a son; if you have ever been a father, you may conceive the pleasure which I derived from this circumstance; with what delight did I behold my wife, bending with the sweetest smiles over her infant as it received nourishment from her bosom; never did she appear so beautiful in my eyes, as when employed in the tender offices of maternal love. I had, when I first married her, believed my happiness incapable of increase, but I saw it daily augment, and I bent in fervent grati
tude to that almighty power, who had allotted me so large a portion of bliss.
"Don Carlos de Padilla had been the friend of my youth, but accident had separated us for some years; he had travelled, and though we promised to correspond with each other, it was a promise that he did not keep; and he returned to Madrid in something more than a year after my marriage. He hastened to my house, I received him with the utmost warmth, and introduced him to Maria, as a man, whom I regarded with the affection of a brother. To be my friend, was a sufficient recommendation to the favour of my wife, and her behaviour to him was equally friendly and attentive. Don Carlos is, or rather (continued he sighing), was, one of the handsomest men in Spain; he had the weakness and vanity to suppose that his person and accomplishments had caught the heart of my wife, and in a short time he presumed to make dishonourable overtures