Page images
PDF
EPUB

she felt that her heart"contained a treasure of affection, unexpended yet, but which she would gladly bestow on one'lof whose disinterested love she could feel secure. While she haughtily turnéd away from her many suitors, she was humbled in her own eyes by the belief that her individual merit had failed to attract one truly loving heart." * 1 . sing... ..

A young French knight had lately been added to her train of admirers. The Chevalier Montreville was of à noble but impoverished family, and beholding the object of his passionate idolatry surrounded and vainly courted by the chiefest nobles of her native land, he shrank into himself, fearing to share the disdain he found to be the portion of all who spoke to Ippolita the language of love. The proud girl, herself yet unaware of the cause, marked this appearance in her cortège with pleasure, and watched his movements with something like anxiety. His clear blue eyes seemed incapable of expressing anything but truth-- his voice had persuasion in its tone; how was it that that voice alone had never expressed love for her? This question was too soon answered. A moonlight festivala momentary division from all others-an unwonted gentleness in the lovely Italian's manners, made Montreville forget his prudence and his fears. A word, a pressure of the hand-how were they answered ? Ippolita had respected his silence-she replied contemptuously; nay, the unexplained internal conflict of her feelings made her answer even angrily :: she commanded his absence, and his future silence on so displeasing and barren a subject.. son " " "

""; Some weeks after, Ippolita and many of her companions of either sex were riding on the banks of the Adige. Montreville.was there; he had not dared infringe the orders of his lady, nor urge again his suit; yet he did not despair. Nay, in spite of his disappointment, he felt sustained by his own integrity, and shewed no sign of depression. He fancies“ that he loves me, thought Ippolita—no, I am wrong; he does not even imagine such a sentiment; his conduct is dictated by the basest motives, and he has not the art of even casting a veil over them :-she turned her eyes contemptuously on him:-yet could any vile feeling lurk in so

frank a countenance ? She felt the blood glow in her cheek. How prove to herself whether the love he pretended were true or feigned ?. iro"

! mo

da The conversation turned on the subject of love. Many of her suitors-spoke with enthusiasm on the subject, wishing to gain thus the confidence of Ippolita;' but she turned all their high-flown expressions into ridicule, and, with unaccustomed bitterness, forgot her usual' courtesy in her tauntings. Montreville listened silently.. Impatient of this shew of coldness, she turned suddenly towards him, asking And what does our French visitant say to our Italian eloquence? Words; and not deeds,' are a lover's. motto; think you not so, Chevalier?"...

Montreville's countenance lighted up with a glow of pleasure at this address : " Since,” he cried, “ you, Madam, deign to permit me to speak on the subject of love, I shall not, I trust, be found a worse pleader than these gentlemen for its sacred cause.". Then he entered on a description and a defence of the passion, so glowing, so fervent, and so sineere, that while his bright eyes flashed fire, and his cheek burnt with enthusiasm, the lids of Ippolita's dark orbs half veiled them, and the blush of confusion stained her cheek. He had described the adoration of the lover for his mistress-he descanted on his tenderness--then he spoke of his devotion, his readiness to sacrifice his life for her smile :---towards the end of his harangue Ippolita somewhat recovered herself; and when he paused, as if concluding, she turned to him with a smile of mockery, saying, “ Fine expressions these, Chevalier, and they the more confirm my saying, words not deeds.' For my part, I never saw any of these furious fire-eating loyers who really ever burnt and were consumed.- Sigh, they may--and lament, and strive to weep; but when a test should be made the fire goes out, and---oh miracle !--the fuel remains unconsumed !"...i

• Madam," replied Montreville, “ that I love you. I have con fessed, and you have not deigned to believe me, nor will you open your eyes to the burning affection that consumes me... If for a moment you could become aware of the feeling that devours me, your goodness would lead you to pity. me. Since by your permission I now speak, may I not say that a fire possesses my heart, which not all the waters of the Adige, that flows beneath the bridge we are now crossing, could even allay, far less extinguish ?"

“ Nay, the trial has not yet been made," said the proud girl, with a scornful . laugh; piqued at being thus challenged to believe, and acknowledge her belief in the existence of a passion whose existence she had denied:—she continued, "the time is opportune the waters flow icy cold at your feet, yet not colder than your heart; will you not prove their power over it ?". .

It was nearly the end of the month of October ; the change of season was already severely felt, and the north wind that blew added to the cold. When the lover heard this proud and cruel girl invite him to throw himself into the water, hurried away by youthful and rash passion, and blinded by his ardent desire of proving his truth, he replied fervently—“ Most ready am I to obey you-most happy to find a way of proving my sincerity.” Then, with-. out pause, dashing his spurs into his horse's sides, he forced the noble barb he rode to leap from the bridge into the swift and foaming river. The Adige is very deep, and rapid, and difficult of navigation, especially near the bridges, on account of the gulphs and whirlpools; and now, on account of recent rains, it was swollen and tempestuous. The horse, weighed down by the burthen of his rider, sank at once to the bottom, and then, like a ball which rebounds from the ground on which it has been fung, he rose again to the surface, with the youth still in the saddle. Then he began, with pant and strain, to breast the water transversely towards the shore, guided by Montreville; and, gaining somewhat on the current, he drew near the banks. The youth, who still kept his seat, turning his head towards his proud mistress, cried with a loud voice, "Behold, lady of my heart, behold, I am in the midst of the waters ! yet bathed as I am by their icy waves, I feel no cold; and feeling them all around me, they in no way allay the fever of my love, but the rather my true. heart burns with a purer and steadier flame in despite of their chilling influence."

His companions, who were still on the bridge, remained astonished and frightened, and overcome by the sight presented to them by the courageous and undaunted Montreville, they stood as if sense

less, speechless, and wonder-stricken. The youth, who gazed more intently on the beautiful Ippolita than on the course of his horse, reached the banks of the river; but in a place where a high wall rose immediately at its edge, so that he was unable to land. He was obliged therefore to direct his horse towards a spot where the sloping bank promised a safe exit from the river. Desiring to turn his horse with the rein, spurring him at the same time, the water, striking his sides violently as he turned, and rushing between his legs, threw him over, so that the ardent Montreville, notwithstanding all his exertions, lost his stirups and his seat; but still keeping hold of the rein, thus leading his horse, he came again to the surface of the water. At this frightful and pitiable spectacle, all the persons assembled on the bridge and on the banks began to cry aloud for help. Montreville did not lose his presence of mind, yet as soon as he rose on the water he became aware of the peril of his situation; so, loosening and casting from him his cloak, he quitted his horse's rein, leaving him to guide himself instinctively to a place of safety, he addressed himself for swimming, and though his dress was cumbrous, and his heavy sword was belted to his side, yet he strove gallantly with his watery enemy. There were no boats near, nor was there any person who would risk his life by endeavouring to aid him; but all who beheld him assisted him only by their cries. The women, weeping and trembling for fear, stood overcome by terror, watching the event of this rash and perilous enterprize. The proud Ippolita, who before had never given credit to the existence of so true a passion, softened by so horrible and fearful an event, and deeply compassionating her hapless lover, bathed in tears, cried aloud for help, and passionately entreated the standers-by to go to his assistance; but, as I have said, no one dared make an attempt to save him, which would have put their own lives in similar peril to the one he encountered. Montreville was an excellent swimmer, and had been accustomed to such hardy and even dangerous pastime; so that when he saw his dear mistress weeping bitterly, and demonstrating by her manner her fears on his account, he held himself entirely and overpaid for all that he had risked; and such delight filled his heart, that his strength increasing with his joy, the idea of danger was entirely forgotten. So, swimming with undaunted heart, and dextrously cutting through the opposing waves, each moment he gained on his enemy, and approached a feasible landing-place; and though impeded by his heavy garments, and weighed down by his sword, yet he contrived to cast from him the waters, and so to conquer their effect, that he reached the sloping bank, and, getting on land, hastened in safety towards the spot where his lady and her companions were. His horse following in his master's wake, also gained the landing-place, and was led away by the Chevalier's servants. Or goazgebirtoiletide

Love and truth the while achieved a complete victory. Ippolita felt her whole heart dissolve in pity and compassion for her lover, so that to have saved him from the waves she would most willingly have put her own life in similar peril; but knowing no means whereby to assist him, she called aloud for help, weeping the while and franticly wringing her hands. When Montreville had landed, wet as he was, he respectfully approached the lovely girl, saying, “ I am returned, dearest lady, such as you behold, my heart still burning with unconquerable love--devoted in life and death to your service.” . . Own: 5 .

Ippolita was surrounded by the flower of the Italian nobility; she stood bright in loveliness, power, and youth; but pride was extinguished in her bosom: thus as he stood--the waters dripping from his garments--his hạir shedding a thousand dew-drops his cheek which had glowed with enthusiasm, now became asby pale from his 'over-exertion,--thus, as he humbly and gently presented himself. before her, she cast herself into his arms, exclaiming, Love, you have conquered (Montreville, you have won me I am yours for ever!". .. .. .. .

[graphic]

SKETCHES FROM THE CLUB-BOOK..! [We have done a very impudent thing in laying these sketches before the reader. They were sent us by a friend for another purpose, which indeed has been given up,—but we publish them without leave, we hope not without forgiveness or even approbation; for we know we should have had it for asking, and we meant

« PreviousContinue »