網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

endeavour to breathe such a hope; for, wherever he was, of whatever he talked, the too delightful apparition of the Italian girl was ever crossing his mind.

“Alice,” he said, in a choked hollow voice; “ Alice, how you must despise me! but pity me; pity the fire which reigns within my bosom, the guilty weakness which is consuming my happiness, the stunning blow which enfeebles my energyI should never be worthy of woman's love."

The tears gathered in his young companion's eyes,—she could have loved him in his joyous hours of mirth, but to see him in sadness, only augmented tenfold her tenderness—her heart throbbed, and her swelling throat could not give utterance to the words of comfort she fain would speak; her whole frame shook convulsively, her cheeks grew pale, and she feared, yet longed to hear her rival's name.

At length, commanding herself by an effort worthy of the tuition of Lady Cunnington, she said, very calmly, though almost in a whisper,

“Cunnington, my silly tears are dried, and they shall ever, if I have strength, be dried when I can command my own thoughts. You need not tell me that which I anticipate,—you no longer love me, and you fear to tell me of it; is that your sorrow?"

“It is wrong of you to say I no longer love you,” replied Cunnington ; " it is impossible to be near you and not do so; but do you remember, you once talked of another love ?”

“Of friendship,” said Alice, with a faint smile ; " but you then made use of the bard's words, and you said —

[ocr errors]

Well, be it so, Cunnington ; that friendship was offered once; it is ever, shall ever be yours. But what ails you, Cunningtonwho .... who .... is my rival ?”

“Do not ask me, or rather conclude that as I cannot tell you, my love is illbestowed.”

“I will make her love you if you will only tell me her name, Cunnington ; can you not confide in me ?”

“ Teach a married woman how to love me !" replied Cunnington, in a hollow voice.

“Good heavens, is it possible !” said Alice, wringing her hands ; “ Cunnington, how dare you make me the confidante of such a crime? How dare you think I could pity you ?”

“Spoken like women speak,” said Cunnington, the dark shade of anger gathering on his brow. “Go now, Alice, and tell my mother; go, tell her how her son will

[graphic]

bring disgrace upon her name ; go, tell her all—hear my dying father curse mesee my despair-my degradation, and be revenged !"

“I have no more to do with revenge than with lawless love,” cried Alice ; the blush of shame for the weakness of the only man she had ever loved mantling her young brow; but her voice faltered as she looked at Cunnington,—so young, so handsome ; the scion of a noble house, contemplating, hoping for that from which virtue recoils. “ Upbraid me not !” said she, at length; “ I may be guilty of pitying you more than I ought, but I will never, never betray your confidence. Tell me, Cunnington, can there be happiness in such love ?”

« There is madness, wretchedness, and despair !" was the dreadful answer.

“ Then turn before it be too late ; do not wish her to love you; do not tell me her

name, lest I should hate her : I must not hate any one you love."

“She is as virtuous as you are," said Cunnington, in extenuation of the unhappy Anna ; " she may some day return my love, but now”

“ Cunnington, you make my heart grow cold; hearken to me. Sooner would I follow you mourning to the grave, than dwell upon the recollection that you will live in disgrace ; — nay, I would die myself were such a sacrifice of any avail."

Cunnington involuntarily drew forth Anna's picture from his bosom, and Alice took it from his hands.

“She is very, very beautiful !” she exclaimed, gazing at the charming features, so well delineated. “ Can it be possible you can wish to plant grief and shame in that bosom ?”

Cunnington drew the picture from Alice,

« 上一頁繼續 »