“But fear at least for her you love!” she threateningly said. “Oh, you think I shall not be able to discover this secret love of yours, and not spy out this new divinity to whom you have consecrated your heart? Tremble therefore now, for I know her! I know the garden in which she lives, and there is a place in the wall just opposite her favorite seat; whoever knows that place and possesses a steady hand and a sharp dagger will know how to hurl it so as to pierce her bosom.”
Carlo felt a deadly terror, he felt his heart stand still, but he collected himself and said, with a contemptuous smile: “Cardinal Francesco Albani indeed possesses among his bravi many such skilful hands, and surely it will not require many of your highly-prized glances to induce him to favor you with the loan of one of them.”
The signora slightly bit her lips. “You mock me,” she almost sadly said, “and yet you should remember that it is only love that makes me so savage and fills my heart with a thirst for vengeance! Carlo, I so warmly love you!”
And the beautiful, glowing woman humbly and imploringly bent before her beloved.
The latter laughingly said: “How well you know how to say that—with what variations and modulations! I yesterday heard you say the same to Cardinal Albani; to be sure, it sounded a little different, but not less warm and glowing!”
“You know why I do that!” said she. “He is an enamored fool, whom I would win with tender words that I may make him my instrument. You know the object for which I strive, and which I must attain at any price! Ah, Carlo, when once they have crowned me in the capitol, then, I am sure, you will be compelled to love me again!”
“Never again!” he harshly and roughly said.
“Is that your last word?” shrieked she, with flashing eyes and the wild rage of a tigress.
“It is my last word!”
She flew to him like a mad person, seized his hands and fixedly stared him in the face.
“Ungrateful!” said she, gnashing her teeth. “Is it thus you reward my love, is this your return for all I have done for you? Can you forget that it was I who withdrew you from poverty and baseness? What were you but a poor, unnoticed singer in the streets, on whom people bestowed scanty alms? Was it not I who rescued you from that shame, and clothed you and gave you a home? Was it not I who gave you a name and procured you consideration and respect by making you my singer and companion, and allowing you to play upon the harp at my improvisations? How has not all Rome admired you when you sang the canzones I wrote for you, thereby procuring you honor and respectability, and making you a popular man from a low beggar? Go, you cannot leave me, for you are my creature, my property!”
He wildly thrust her aside, and his eyes flashed with indignation. “Signora,” said he, his lips tremulous with rage, “you have rent the last band that bound me to you, and in twitting me of your benefits you have annihilated them! We now have nothing in common with each other, except perhaps mutual hatred, and that, I hope, will have a longer duration than our love!”