Page images

abitual sternness of the count, he had eared a severe reprimand, for the voice f mirth was rarely heard in Montalva's astle; and never had one of his doestics seen his cheek dimpled by a mile. The minstrel now entered the hamber, and for a moment the eye of Montalva rested upon him with curios ity and surprise. He appeared of midle age, his countenance was fine, hough pale; and there was an indescriable expression in his dark and pierc. ng eye, that rivetted the attention of he count. Antonio, in a low voice, bade im make his obeisance, and he obeyed; out the bow of the minstrel was not the.. owly bend of a vassal to his lord, it vas slight and haughty.

"Montalva motioned Antonio to leave them, and then desired the minstrel to play again the plaintive air that had caught his ear before he saw him; the minstrel began, and with an attention the most profound, Montalva

human eye; say, minstrel, how came these horrors known to thee?"

By no earthly means (replied the minstrel); but speak not thus Montalva, let monks and women talk of crime, it exists but in idea; D'Rosonio stood between thee and happiness, thou did'st right to destroy him; but why does Isabel exist?"

"What can I have to fear from her?" (cried Montalva.)


Every thing (exclaimed the minstrel), even now is her hand solicited by one of the noblest youths of Naples; her birth may be discovered." Impossible?" (interrupted Mon



"No! not impossible; I tell thee it. may be discovered (continued the minstrel), what then becomes of thee?"

Montalva was silent.

[ocr errors]

"Another blow (said the subtle

tempter), and all is sure."


Again imbrue my hands in blood?

(cried Montalva). Oh! no, no."
"Thou should'st have thought thus

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

efore thou didst imbrue thy hands in lood (said the minstrel, with a maligant smile); but mark me, Montalva, came here thy friend, why I am so t is not of import to thee to know. I ell thee, and thou wilt find it true, hat one only means is left to hide vhat thou callest thy guilt from the vorld. While Isabel D'Rosonio exists hou art not safe; think of this warnng, and if thou hast the spirit of a man, take it."

A gleam of blue and sulphurous ight flashed round the minstrel, and in an instant he vanished from before the eyes of the astonished count; for some moments the greatest horror took possession of the soul of Montalva; when he could reflect, the only conjecture he thought it possible to form was, that his visitor must be a magician. He had avowed that his knowledge of Montalva's guilt was not obtained by earthly means, yet, wherefore had he for twelve years kept the secret, and why did he now urge the wretched

Montalva to plunge still deeper in


“ No, Isabel; (exclaimed be, mentally) no consideration, save my own safety, shall prevail on me to sacrifice thy life.”

He now summoned his domestics, and smoothing his brow, enquired whether the minstrel had departed? They all declared they had not seen him, and Montalva affected to suppose that he had quitted the castle unobserved. Such was the horror of the count's mind, that he did not dare to remain entirely alone;, he commanded Antonio to remain in an anti-chamber, and wbile lost in a maze of distracting thoughts, he paced his apartments. He every moment expected again to behold his late terrific visitor.

More than twelve years had now elapsed since the murder of the count, and the voice of conscience Montalva had supposed was all that he could possibly 'have to dread; but this mys

on a

terious minstrel had awakened every dormant fear,---and the count resolved

journey to the convent of St. Teresa, to learn if indeed he had spoken truth.

"I will have her professed as soon as possible (thought he), and then minstrel I shall not heed thy prophecies."

He left the castle as he pretended on business, which carried him to Naples, and bis departure was indeed a day of jubileę to his doméstics, who were now: for the first time at liberty to indulge in that noisy gaiety which distinguishes . the lower order of people, but which their lord's severity had hitherto repressed.

Montalva, after stopping a few days at Naples, set out unattended for the convent of St. Teresa ; his arrival filled the bosom of the lady abbess with pleasure, she hastened to receive him, and sent to summon Isabel to the grate ---A, strange and new sensation filled the

« PreviousContinue »