more fully, before we again take our leave of him.

When Herbert was placed under the peculiar care of Margarita, his captors were well aware that he could not have a stricter guardian. Margarita hated the English with the implacable hatred of her country, and panted to revenge on the whole nation the wrongs she had suffered from one individual of it.

And what were her wrongs? Her story, alas ! is only one more leaf, added to the great book of man's selfishness and sin. Although it has been often told before, and will be often again repeated, the leaf must be written here. She was the child of honest parents, who lived in a pretty little Italian farm amongst the mountains. She was “ beautiful exceedingly,” according to the beauty of her countrywomen. She grew up, to use her own figurative language, like a wild vine, unpruned and uncultivated. Her parents loved her too blindly to correct her. She was full of passion and pride ; capable of the most devoted love, and the most intense hatred. She was the envy of the maidens, and the admiration of the youths of her village but like the Margaret of Gothe, her beauty was her destruction.

In vain had she been wooed by the young men around her; none of them could win her lore. Wilful and wild as a gazelle, if she gave but a glance from her dark eyes, or a word of seeming encouragement, it was but to withdraw the one, and to repent the other.

At last there canie a stranger to her hamlet, an English traveller. He was a gentleman, apparently, by birth, education, and profession, but not by nature. His name was Mordauntat least so he said,—his profession, the army. He saw Margarita crowned with flowers at a rustic gathering-mingled with the throng that surrounded her-danced with her, and was captivated by her beauty and innocence, He sought her day after day, persuaded

her that he loved her, and succeeded in winning her affections. Margarita's love was of no common nature. It was a devotion unknown to the colder children of the north. Mordaunt could not understand it, though he gloried in being its object. She said she could die for him, and doubtless would have done so if required. She was pure as the snow of her own mountains, and this her lover knew. The arts of the seducer were lost upon her. It was only by a proposal of marriage that he could win her to instant fight with him, and to this she consented with pain, as she dearly loved her parents. But the passion that burnt in her ardent bosom was stronger than filial duty, and when Mordaunt assured her that secresy was necessary, for the present at least, she believed him, and eloped with him from her peaceful moun. tain home.

They were married, so at least she thought. Beneath the secresy of night, a man in priestly attire joined their hands,

and read the marriage service, whilst Mordaunt's servant witnessed the proceedings. They travelled together for several weeks, and Margarita would have been happy but for the recollection of her parents. Mor. daunt one day informed her that he was recalled to his regiment, and with subtle speech, told her that he thought it best for her to return to her parents for a few months, until he could again visit Italy, and take her with him to England. Margarita remonstrated, and said it would be impossible to return to her home again, after having left it as she had done. Mordaunt said there was no other course, as he dared not then acknowledge her as his wife. Margarita's passionate nature was soon aroused, and she fancied that some hidden meaning lurked behind the words she heard. She said that if she returned home, she must do so as his wife, or not at all, and begged to have the certificate of her marriage, that she might show it to her parents. Mordaunt said that he knew not


how to procure it, and coldly added, that they miglit believe her word. Again Margarita insisted upon accompanying him to England, saying that she could live as well in retirement there as in Italy, until such time as he could openly acknowledge his marriage. His heartless manner exasperated her, and she insisted on asserting her rights as a wife. He said that she could not do this, as her marriage in Italy, by' a Roman Catholic priest, would not be valid in England. This declaration was the finishing stroke to Margarita's wrath. She upbraided Mordaunt as a deceiver, and he, no longer caring to wear the mask he had hitherto assumed, told her that neither in Italy nor England was she his wife, since a sham marriage, performed by a pretended priest, had been the only union that had taken place between them.

Maddened to fury by this intelligence, the unhappy woman uttered heavy maledictions on the destroyer of her peace and honour, and swore to be revenged. She

« VorigeDoorgaan »