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pressing on her passive hand one sad and earnest kiss, he sprang up and left the room. He avoided, as Imma had desired him, the room where the Widow anxiously awaited him, and retired by the postern door.
When La Donati's patience was exhausted, she went to Imma's apartment, and was surprised to see her daughter alone and in tears, and was greatly disappointed to learn that Buondelmonte had taken leave of her previously to his marriage. But she felt an instinctive prompting to conceal from her mother that he had made her an offer of his hand. Imma had now left her girlhood for ever, and feeling had matured her into womanhood; the frankness, the undisguise of girlhood was gone. She was beginning to understand her mother's character, and to fear that if La Donati knew what had occurred some painful scenes would be the consequences, and poor Imma longed for repose.
She implored permission to decline attending Amidea to the altar on the plea of illness, but the Widow would not hear of it; she said it would be accounted an insult by the Amidei, and would give rise to disagreeable surmises. All that Imma could obtain was leave to retire.
“ It is all over, aunt,” said Carlo.
“Not quite,” replied La Donati, “not till Buondelmonte is actually married. But I grant you the chances lessen every hour. Well, the greater merit would be in success at the last ; ay, at the last moment, just before the priest joins their hands, I will not despair of him. I confess I thought he would have tired ere this of straining after resolution and being honourable against his inclination. Well, there is yet a chance. Imma will stand beside the bride; he will see the difference between them; and at the very church door he may repent.”
“ Impossible !” cried Carlo.
“Not quite impossible," replied the Widow. “His firmness will begin to relax when he thinks himself quite victorious. The best moment to defeat a man is when he is most self-secure, for then he is off his guard. Besides, the closer Buondelmonte draws to an event that he dreads and dislikes, the more will his dread and dislike increase ; and when he comes to the point he will feel desperate enough to do anything for a release."
Thiebault's Anecdotes of Frederic the Great. On the evening before Amidea's wedding day, Padre Severino had passed some time with her, receiving her confession (as is customáry before marriage in the Roman Catholic Church), and afterwards in counselling her on the approaching change in her situation. As he rose at length to leave her he said,
“My child, when all around are congratulating you, and wishing you happiness, let your own hopes of felicity be chastened. You must not, cannot look for uninterrupted bliss ; such is not the lot of human nature; and the marriage state has cares peculiar to itself; but He who has appointed this state, and hallowed it as an emblem of his church, has allotted to it also peculiar consolations, peculiar privileges, in that entire oneness of heart and spirit that cannot exist in any other relation. The very sorrows that are piously borne together by a Christian couple are sweeter to the feelings and more elevating to the soul than solitary unwedded happiness.
“ Parental love may be mingled with vanity or ambition ; filial love with somewhat of self-interest; brotherly love with somewhat of pride ; but wedded love alone is pure and unselfish. Parents, brothers, children, may some time or other feel the presence of each other irksome, and sigh to be alone; but wedded love can never grow weary thus: when together each is alone with a second self in all the freedom, without the dreariness of solitude. i “No merely human institution could ever have produced the perfect integrity of feeling that exists in Christian matrimony; and if ever an era arrives when the world shall overlook the sacred nature of this tie, and the spiritual miracles working in it that it daily presents, and shall come to regard it only as any other civil and legal agreement, it will be a visible symptom that the world has fallen into a cold-hearted, low-minded, irreligious old age. . “You are going, Amidea, to leave the light-hearted state of singleness for a situation of responsibility-to change the flowing wreath of the maiden for the sober matron veil; but you will receive more than an equivalent in accession of dignity. The example of the honourable matron is of more weight in the world than that of the most honourable maiden, and her guidance is of more authority. In her own house she is queen, not by power indeed, but better, by love; and the love and protection of a manly heart is as a guard of honour to her.
“Many women have embarked on the voyage of wedded life with favouring gales, and yet have made shipwreck, because they expected too much ; they have expected their partners to be angels, forgetting that, mortals themselves, they have wedded mortalsforgetting that marriage is a divine institution for mutual example, mutual patience, mutual charities in the sickness of the mind as well as of the body, and mutual good humour to smile away little offences, and be indulgent, if not blind, to little faults.
“Now, farewell for the last time, Amidea degli Amidei. Tomorrow, when the noblest in Florence pour out their wishes for the happiness of Amidea dei Buondelmonte, none can be warmer and truer than those of the old Padre, though his feeble voice may be unheard."
He laid his hand upon Amidea's head as she knelt before him, gave her an earnest benediction, and left her to her own meditations.
Amidea rose from her knees, and seated herself. She pressed her hand to her forehead, and tried to compose her tremulous thoughts.
“Then the die is cast, and I am about to venture on a new sphere of existence. But why do I tremble thus at becoming the bride of Buondelmonte, he who came forward to console me when I was deceived and forsaken by the perjured Bastiani ? It is wellit is very well that I spoke with those Glee-singers; for nothing less than the testimony of that wretched man's accomplice, and his victim's unhappy brother could have prevented me, even at this hour, from looking back upon his memory with regret. Yet how grateful I ought to be that I have been rescued from the man of perfidy and blood to become the wife of the frank and honour
She tried to think of the morrow, and to image herself kneeling at the altar with Buondelmonte; but she saw only the ruined amphitheatre at Arezzo, and Florestan at her side. She strove to imagine she heard Buondelmonte plight her his faith ; but she only heard the sweet, low tones of Florestan as he whispered his first avowal of love. She prayed mentally for the power of controlling her thoughts, became by degrees more collected, and nerved herself to perform what she considered an act of imperative
She went to her large, heavy cabinet, and drew from a deep recess a casket of oak, banded with brass, and re-seated herself near the hearth, where a wood-fire was burning. The casket contained some hoarded relics of her first and ill-fated attachment. She had never had resolution enough to look at them since her return from Arezzo; but now, on the eve of marriage with Buondelmonte, she felt it incumbent upon her to destroy them. She opened the casket, and, one by one, took out its contents.
“Here is the first rose he gave me. It was one of extraordinary beauty, and he brought it from his uncle's garden for me. It was then blooming, like his beauty : it is now withered, like his fame."
She threw it into the fire and saw it consume with a suppressed sigh.
" Here is the letter he addressed to me on his arrival at Sienna ; fatal Sienna! 'My own Amidea.' No, I will not read it. False Florestan! How soon the same hand could write · My own Rosara !?"
The thought ter into the lossy hair
The thought gave her fortitude, and with jealous indignation she threw the letter into the blaze.
“ The black curl of his glossy hair-how bright it is still ! and the head that bore it is in the grave! Why does it look so lifelike? Let it, too, turn into ashes.
“The ring, the chain, the golden heart-his various gifts. The buckle I took from his belt in revenge for his theft of my ring.
Wall-flowers and ivy from the ruined amphitheatre, the scene of my first dream of happiness. Wild thyme from the hill where we used to sit and watch the sun set. Water-flowers from the Arno. These fragile things hardly faded sooner than my dream; and their shrunk, pale forms are as little like their fresh beauty as the Florestan of Sienna was to the Florestan of Arezzo.
“My portrait. How well I remember when it was painted at Florestan's eager wish, when he was obliged to leave Arezzo! With what pleasure he seemed to receive it! and, after his trial, with what a letter of simple pathos he returned it to Padre Severino! Poor Florestan ! that, at least, showed a delicacy of feeling towards me. I am altered since this was painted; the head is elevated with an air of hope—the eyes are bright with happi. ness; now their light is dimmed. There is a carnation on the cheek, a smile on the lips that has faded away from the original. Shall I give this portrait to Buondelmonte to show him what I was ? No, no; let me bring no relics of the unhappy past to my future home. And this was Florestan's Amidea. Let her perish: another shall be painted for Buondelmonte-an Amidea all his own. Perhaps Florestan showed this to his Siennese love, and bade her see how inferior was the Florentine.”
That was a stinging thought, and she hastily threw the portrait into the fire.
“Here at the bottom is his picture. How beautiful! the serene high brow—the exquisitely-formed mouth-the calm dark eyethe rich black hair-the tinge on the cheek that glows through the clear olive complexion : all mouldered in the dust; and well that it is so before more hearts were broken. He is in the fulldress of a Ghibelline officer. How soon were those dishonoured trappings torn from him ; and now he lies buried in the sordid, bloody garments of a common soldier! Oh, miserable Florestan! when I look upon this placid, this beautiful face, and this honourable garb, how can I credit the dreadful reverse !”
She held the picture a long time gazing on it, then moved it towards the fire-withdrew it-gazed upon it as if she was imprinting it upon her memory; then, with a hasty resolution, committed it to the flames. She had thrown in the other relics ; but this portrait she laid on the burning logs tenderly, as though it were a corpse committed to a funeral pile She almost held her
breath as she watched it fall piece-meal into ashes; and the ideas she mentally applied both to the now lost picture and person of Florestan were of the same tenor of those afterwards embodied by her then unborn countryman, Petrarch, in one of his pathetic sonnets after Laura's decease :
“ Gli occhi di ch'io si scalda mente,
Le crispe chiome d'or puro lucente,
Poco polvere son che nulla sente."'* When she had made this last sacrifice she could not contain her tears; but while she was weeping sadly and silently, she was roused by the voices of the Glee-singers, who sang under her windows the following serenade, the composition of Brunetto :
Not for thee, Christian bride,
Firm Faith be thine for ever!
Mourn not to leave the wreath
* “Those eyes of which so fervently I spake,
And the crisp tresses, shining as with gold,
Are now a little dust that feeleth naught."