" and yet he is a mighty pretty youth, and might waste his " time in sins and vanities with the gayest of them.” And the old widow lady sighed, doubtless out of a tender pity for the gay. Her recommendation of Ippolito to her niece's notice would have been little applauded by her family; but, to say the truth, she was not responsible. His manœuvres and constant presence had already gained Dianora's attention; and, with all the unaffected instinct of an Italian, she was not long in suspecting who it was that attracted his devotions, and in wishing very heartily that they might continue. She longed to learn who he was, but felt the same want of courage as he himself had experienced. “ Did you " observe," said the aunt, one day after leaving church, " how the poor boy blushed, because he did but catch my “ eye? Truly, such modesty is very rare.”

“ Dear aunt," replied Dianora, with a mixture of real and affected archness, of pleasure and of gratitude, " I thought you never wished me to notice the faces of


men.” Not of young men, “niece," returned the aunt, gravely; " not of persons of " twenty-eight, or thirty or so, nor indeed of youths in

general, however young; but then this youth is very dif“ferent; and the most innocent of us may look, once in a

way or so, at so very modest and respectful a young gen“tleman. I say respectful, because when I gave him a slight

curtesy of acknowledgment, or so, for making way for me " in the aisle, he bowed to me with so solemn and thankful “ an air as if the favour had come from me, which was ex

tremely polite; and if he is very handsome, poor boy, how can he help that? Saints have been handsome in their

days, aye, and young, or their pictures are not at all like, “which is impossible; and I am sure St. Dominic himself at " in the wax-work, God forgive me! hardly looks sweeter a she "humbler at the Madonna and Child, than he did at peen two


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

you, as we went by.” Dear aunt,” rejoined Dianora, “I “ did not mean to reproach you, I'm sure; but, sweet aunt,

do not know him, you know; and you know” “Know,” cried the old lady, “ I'm sure I know him as well as if he “ were my own aunt's son, which might not be impossible,

though she is a little younger than myself; and if he were

my own, I should not be ashamed.” And who then," inquired Dianora, scarcely articulating her words, “ who “ then is he?” “ Who?" said the aunt; " why the most

edifying young gentleman in all Florence, that's who “he is; and it does not signify what he is else, mani

festly being a gentleman as he is, and one of the noblest, “ I warrant; and I wish you may have no worse husband,

child, when you come to marry, though there is time enough to think of that. Young ladies, now-a-days, are

always for knowing who every body is, who he is, and “ what he is, and whether he is this person or that person, “ and is of the Grand Prior's side, or the Archbishop's side, " and what not; and all this before they will allow him to be

even handsome, which, I am sure, was not so in my youngest days. It is all right and proper, if matrimony is concerned, or they are in danger of marrying below their condition, or

a profane person, or one that's hideous, or a heretic; but “ to admire an evident young saint, and one that never misses church, Sunday or saints-day, or any day for aught that I

see, is a thing that, if any thing, shews we may hope for " the company of young saints hereafter; and if so very edi

fying a young gentleman is also respectful to the ladies,

was not the blessed St. Francis himself of his opinion “ in that matter? And did not the seraphical St. Teresa " admire him the more for it? And does not St. Paul, in his the ha

ry epistles, send his best respects to the ladies Tryphæna

*Tryphosa? And was there ever woman in the New


“ Testament (with reverence be it spoken, if we may say

women of such blessed females) was there ever woman, I say, in the New Testament, not even excepting Madonna

Magdalen who had been possessed with seven devils (which " is not so many by half as some ladies I could mention) nor “ Madonna, the other poor lady, whom the unforgiving “hypocrites wanted to stone” (and here the good old lady wept, out of a mixture of devotion and gratitude) " there one of all these women, or any other, whom our “ Blessed Lord himself” (and here the tears came into the gentle eyes of Dianora) “ did not treat with all that sweet

ness, and kindness, and tenderness, and brotherly love, “ which like all his other actions, and as the seraphical Fa" ther Antonio said the other day in the pulpit, proved him " to be not only from heaven, but the truest of all nobles on “ earth, and a natural gentleman born?”

We know not how many more reasons the good old lady would have given, why all the feelings of poor Dianora's heart, not excepting her very religion, which was truly one of them, should induce her to encourage her affection for Ippolito. By the end of this sentence they had arrived at their home, and the poor youth returned to his. We say “poor" of both the lovers, for by this time they had both become sufficiently enamoured to render their cheeks the paler for discovering their respective families, which Dianora had now. done as well as Ippolito.

A circumstance on the Sunday following had nearly discovered them, not only to one another, but to all the world. Dianora had latterly never dared to steal a look at Ippolito, for fear of seeing his eyes upon her; and Ippolito, who was less certain of her regard for him than herself, imagined that he had somehow offended her. A few Sundays before she had sent him home bounding for joy. There had been two

places empty where he was kneeling, one near him, and the other a little farther off. The aunt and the niece, who camé in after him, and found themselves at the spot where he was, were perplexed which of the two places to chuse; when it seemed to Ippolito, that by a little movement of her arm, Dianorà decided for the one nearest him. He had also another delight. The old lady, in the course of the service, turned to her niece, and asked her why she did not sing as usual. Dianora bowed her head, and in a minute or two afterwards, Ippolito heard the sweetest voice in the world, low indeed, almost to a whisper, but audible to him. He thought it trembled; and he trembled also. It seemed to thrill within his spirit, in the same manner that the organ thrills through the body. No such symptom of preference occurred afterwards. The ladies did not come so near him, whatever pains he took to occupy so much room before they came in, and then make room when they appeared. However, he was selfsatisfied as well as ingenious enough in his reasonings on the subject, not to lay much stress upon this behaviour, till it lasted week after week, and till he never again found Dianora looking even towards the quarter in which he sat : for it is our duty to confess, that if the lovers were two of the devoutest of the congregation, which is certain, they were apt also, at intervals, to be the least attentive; and, furthermore, that they would each pretend to look towards places at a little distance from the desired object, in order that they might take in, with the sidelong power of the eye, the

presence and look of one another. But for some time Dianora had ceased even to do this; and though Ippolito gazed on her the more steadfastly, and saw that she was paler than before, he began to persuade himself that it was not on his account. At length, a sort of desperation urged him to get nearer to her, if she would not condescend to

come hear himself; and, on the Sunday in question, scarcely knowing what he did, or how he saw, felt, or breathed, he knelt right down beside her. There was a pillar next hiin, which luckily kept him somewhat in the shade; and, for a moment, he leaned his forehead against the cold marble; which revived him. Dianora did not know he was by her. She did not sing; nor did the aunt ask her. She kept one unaltered posture, looking upon her mass-book, and he thought she did this on purpose. Ippolito, who had become weak with his late struggles of mind, felt almost suffocated with his sensations. He was kneeling side by side with her; her idea, her presence, her very drapery, which was all that he dared to feel himself in contact with, the consciousness of kneeling with her in the presence of him whom tender hearts implore for pity on their infirmities, all rendered him intensely sensible of his situation. By a strong effort, he endeavoured to turn his self-pity into a feeling entirely religious; but when he put his hands together, he felt the tears ready to gush away so irrepressibly, that he did not dare it. At last the aunt, who had in fact looked about for him, recognized him with some surprise, and more pleasure. She had begun to suspect his secret; and though she knew who he was, and that the two families were at variance, yet a great deal of good nature, a sympathy with pleasures of which no woman had tasted more, and some considerable disputes she had lately with another old lady, her kinswoman, on the subject of politics, determined her upon at least giving the two lovers that sort of encouragement, which arises not so much from any decided object we have in view, as from a certain vague sense of benevolence, mixed with a lurking wish to have our own way. Accordingly, the wellmeaning old widow-lady, without much consideration, and loud enough for Ippolito to hear, whispered her niece to

« 前へ次へ »