“It is very cold, is it not?” she asked, realizing the chill that her paralyzed circulation caused.
“Alas, countess, I fear it is the chill of death you feel!”
“So soon? well, I am prepared,” she said, once more kissing the cross.
“Heaven bless and receive your pure and lovely spirit,” he said, devoutly, as she once more replaced her hand within his own.
“Farewell, Lorenzo Bezan. Sometimes think kindly of the Countess M-o-r-a-n-z-a!”
She breathed no more. That faithful and beautiful spirit had fled to heaven!
There had seemed to be a constantly recurring thread of circumstances, which operated to separate Lorenzo Bezan and Isabella Gonzales. Isabella had received a fearful shock in the remarkable occurrences of the last few days. The devoted love of the countess, her self-sacrificing spirit, her risk and loss of her life to save him she loved, all had made a most indelible impression upon her. There was a moment, as the reader has seen, when she doubted the truth and honor of Lorenzo Bezan; but it was but for a moment, for had not his own truthfulness vindicated itself to her mind and heart, the words of the Countess Moranza had done so. That faithful and lovely woman told her also of the noble spirit of devoted love that the soldier bore her, and how honestly he had cherished that love he bore for her when surrounded by the dazzling beauty and flattery of the whole court, and bearing the name of the queen’s favorite.
All this led her of course to regard him with redoubled affection, and to increase the weight of indebtedness of her heart towards one whom she had treated so coldly, and who for her sake had borne so much of misery. “But ah!” she said to herself, “if he could but read this heart, and knew how much it has suffered in its self-imposed misery, he would indeed pity and not blame me. I see it all now; from the very first I have loved him-from the hour of our second meeting in the Paseo-poor, humble and unknown, I loved him then; but my spirit was too proud to own it; and I have loved him ever since, though the cold words of repulse have been upon my tongue, and I have tried to impress both him and myself to the contrary. How bitter are the penalties of pride-how heavy the tax that it demands from frail humanity! No more shall it have sway over this bosom!” As she spoke, the beautiful girl threw back the dark clustering hair from her temples, and raised her eyes to heaven, as if to call for witness upon her declaration.