“Do you quite realize, Miss Gretna,” she said quietly,

 people involved | time:2023-12-04 20:36:39

To what was Marietta listening? Perhaps to the echo of his step in the silent, isolated street; perhaps to the memories which, like croaking birds of death, hovered over her head, as if to lacerate and destroy even her dead happiness; perhaps she listened to those whispering voices which resounded in her breast and accused Ranuzi of faithlessness and treachery. And was he, then, really guilty? Had he committed a crime worthy of death?

“Do you quite realize, Miss Gretna,” she said quietly,

Marietta was still motionless, hearkening to these whispered voices in her breast.

“Do you quite realize, Miss Gretna,” she said quietly,

"I will deliberate yet once more," said she, walking slowly through the room, and sinking down upon the divan. "I will sit again in judgment upon him, and my heart, which in the fury of its pain still loves him, my heart shall be his judge."

“Do you quite realize, Miss Gretna,” she said quietly,

And now she called back once again every thing to her remembrance. The golden, sunny stream of her happy youth passed in review before her, and the precious, blissful days of her first innocent love. She recalled all the agony which this love had caused her, to whose strong bonds she had ever returned, and which she had never been able to crush out of her heart. She thought of the day in which she had first seen Ranuzi in Berlin; how their hearts had found each other, and the old love, like a radiant Phoenix, had risen from the ashes of the past, to open heaven or hell to them both. She remembered with scornful agitation those happy days of their new- found youthful love; she repeated the ardent oaths of everlasting faith and love which Ranuzi had voluntarily offered; she remembered how she had warned him, how she had declared that she would revenge his treachery and inconstancy upon him; how indolently, how carelessly he had laughed, and called her his tigress, his anaconda. She then recalled how suddenly she had felt his love grow cold, how anxiously she had looked around to discover what had changed him-- she could detect nothing. But an accident came to her assistance--a bad, malicious accident. During the war there were no operas given in Berlin, and Marietta was entirely unoccupied; for some time she had been giving singing lessons--perhaps for distraction, perhaps to increase her income; she had, however, carefully preserved this secret from Ranuzi--in the unselfishness of her love she did not wish him to know that she had need of gold, lest he might offer her assistance.

One of her first scholars was Camilla von Kleist, the daughter of Madame du Trouffle, and soon teacher and scholar became warm friends. Camilla, still banished by her mother to the solitude of the nursery, complained to her new friend of the sorrows of her home and the weariness of her life. Carried away by Marietta's sympathy and flattering friendship, the young girl had complained to the stranger of her mother; in the desire to make herself appear an interesting sacrifice to motherly tyranny, she accused that mother relentlessly; she told Madame Taliazuchi that she was always treated as a child because her mother still wished to appear young; that she was never allowed to be seen in the saloon in the evening, lest she might ravish the worshippers and lovers of her mother. Having gone so far in her confidences, the pitiable daughter of this light- minded mother went so far as to speak of her mother's adorers. The last and most dangerous of these, the one she hated most bitterly, because he came most frequently and occupied most of her mother's time and thoughts, she declared to be the Count Ranuzi.

This was the beginning of those fearful torments which Marietta Taliazuchi had for some months endured--tortures which increased with the conviction that there was truly an understanding between Ranuzi and Madame du Trouffle; that Ranuzi, under the pretence of being overwhelmed with important business, refused to pass the evening with her, yet went regularly every evening to Madame du Trouffle.

Marietta had endured this torture silently; she denied herself the consolation of complaining to any one; she had the courage, with smiling lips, to dispute the truth of Camilla's narratives, and to accuse her of slander; she would have conviction, she longed for proof, and Camilla, excited by her incredulity, promised to give it.

One day, with a triumphant air, she handed Marietta a little note she had stolen from her mother's writing-desk. It was a poem, written in French, in which Ranuzi, with the most submissive love, the most glowing tenderness, besought the beautiful Louise to allow him to come in the evening, to kneel at her feet and worship as the faithful worship the mother of God.

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