Page images

nour as to ignorance of the real owner of this portrait ?"

[ocr errors]

"I do, my lord, most solemnly," re-. plied Luzzara. “Then," said count Anselmo, " you are now to learn, that the invaluable portrait is mine by right: I was its original possessor, and its loss, for more than twenty revolving years, I have deeply mourned; it was stolen from my cabinet at Valleroy, and the servant whom I suspected to have been the robber, I instantly discharged from my service." Luzzara was thunderstruck at this intimation: the count continued-"Suspend your astonishment and remarks, until I recount to you the whole transaction." Anselmo sighed, as he again cast a look at the portrait, and then proceededMy vanity whispers to me, that by the living resemblance of this beautiful form, I was tenderly beloved; indeed, succeeding circumstances proved its verity. It was impossible not to feel gratified by the proud distinction. I exulted over


successless candidates; for being in possession of the rich treasure of a plundered heart, formed by nature's finest mould, truth, virtue, and all softening endearments that can allare the mind, being entwined in every fold of it. Such then was Eleonora; and a being so perfect, you'll say," continued the count, "where could be found the man who would not pay homage to so many transcendent charms united in the same person? I answer, that I was that one; the passion of love did not reverberate to my heart--no, it was cold as Mont Ecla's snows: the conflict in the chaste breast of Eleonora between pride and love was great indeed, each contending for the mastery; but the latter was, to her sorrow, completely triumphant. Poor Eleonora! not even the slave from Afric's clime, loaded with galling chains, could be more abject or submissive to the will of their tyrants than she was to my capricious fancy. It is painful for me," said Anselmo, "to


[ocr errors]

expatiate on the subject; suffice it, therefore, to say, that continually witnessing the contending emotions she endured, in endeavouring to conquer a hopeless. passion, I became more complacent-I pitied her and from this kind of sympathy, it at length grew to some degree of affection; we were privately betrothed-and to calm her fears respecting its sincerity, I gave Eleonora a solemn promise never to marry another; that even should death deprive me of so true a friend, I would still keep sacred the vow I had made, and for ever cherish so dear a remembrance in my heart. War soon after called me to arms-I bade adieu to my love, and hastened to the field of glory. Ambitious of fame, and of an enterprising spirit, I quickly forgot every other claim to my attention. I received several letters from Eleonora; but in the hurry and confusion of a military life, they were only slightly read, short



ly commented on, and remained unanswered.

"From that period," continued the count, with extreme anguish, "I date all the misfortunes which have since attended me. I received, some weeks after the last favour from Eleonora, a letter from the marchioness Laurentes, who was then with her husband on a visit to my father at Valleroy; amongst other news which that lady informed me of, was a melancholy account of the declining health of my love, then likewise an inmate of the castle, by the marchioness's solicitation. From the enigmatical conclusion, I judged that all my fears were realized. I would instantly have departed for Tuscany, but could not obtain leave from the duke of Savoy. I lost no time in forwarding answers, both to Eleonora and the marchioness; and waited with the utmost impatience, in hopes of more favourable intelligence.


An awful pause, however, succeeded their last communication.

"From an unfortunate wound I received in a skirmish with the enemy, I was confined to my tent for more than a month, and during that interval of retirement, the long-expected letters arrived. With inconceivable dread, and forebodings of a distressful intimation, I tore them open, and found the first I had received from my servant was signed only Rodolphus.' Oh melancholy day!" exclaimed Anselmo, "never to be erased from my remembrance-it announced the death of his sister Eleonora !"

"The sister of the present Rodolphus!" now ejaculated the astonished officer

your earliest friend! who, you say, held so high a place in your esteem, my lord?"

"Even so," replied the desponding count." I can scarcely credit the assertion," continued the gallant youth; " and had I heard it from any lips but yours, I should have said they lied, and




« EelmineJätka »