On his part, naturally polite and gallant, he was assiduous in every little attention, more so from the feeling of gratitude for the friendship she showed to him who was so broken-hearted. Intercourse of days and hours grew into the intimacy of weeks and months, and they became friends, warm friends, who seemed to love to confide in each other the whole wealth of the soul. Unaccustomed to female society, and with only one model ever before his eyes, Lorenzo Bezan afforded, in his truthfulness, a refreshing picture to the court-wooed and fashionable belle of the capital, who had so long lived in the artificial atmosphere of the queen’s palace, and the surroundings of the Spanish capital.
The absence of all intrigue, management and deceit, the frank, open-hearted manliness of his conversation, the delicacy of his feelings, and the constant consideration for her own ease and pleasure, could not but challenge the admiration of the beautiful Countess Moranza, and on her own part she spared no means to return his politeness.
Pleased, and perhaps flattered, by the constant and unvarying kindness and friendliness evinced towards him by the Countess Moranza, the young general seemed to be very happy in her company, and to pass a large portion of his leisure hours by her side. The court gossips, ever ready to improve any opportunity that may offer, invented all manner of scandal and prejudicial stories concerning the peerless and chaste Countess Moranza; but she was above the power of their shafts, and entertained Lorenzo Bezan with prodigal hospitality.
To the young soldier this was of immense advantage, as she who was thus a firm friend to him, was a woman of brilliant mind and cultivation, and Lorenzo Bezan improved vastly by the intellectual peers of the countess. The idea of loving her beyond the feelings a warm friendship might induce, had never crossed his mind, and had it done so, would not have been entertained even for one moment. Of loving he had but one idea, one thought, one standard, and that heart embodiment, that queen of his affections, was Isabella Gonzales.
They rode together, read to each other, and, in short, were quite inseparable, save when the queen, by some invitation, which was law of course to the young general, solicited his attendance upon herself. Her friendship, too, was in want, and her interest great for Lorenzo Bezan, and he delighted to shower upon him every honor, and publicly to acknowledge his service in to the throne.
“The queen seems very kind to you, general,” said the countess, to him.
“She is more than kind-she lavish rewards upon me.”
“She loves bravery.”
“She repays good fortune in round sums,” replied the officer.
“But why do you ever wear that sober, sombre, and sad look upon that manly and intellectual face?”