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last night a lesson I shall not soon forget. While the wife, whom I have so cruelly neglected, was making her noble determination to sacrifice every feeling to principle, another, for whom I have given up by far too much, scrupled not to tell me that the love that is born amid luxurious halls cannot brave the mountain winds, or exist amid mountain snows she said that her voice loved better to mingle with the gay barcarolle, than with the wailing of the exile's hymn-that her step had been too long accustomed to carpetted floors, to tread now over pathless rocks. Barbara, to any other less noble-minded than yourself I should scarcely care to confess all this; but my confidence in you shall be entire. You will believe me, when I say, that I sought not to change her purpose. From the instant I discovered the nature of her summer love, Olimpia's power was at an end."
That evening was the era from which Barbara dated the renewal of her happiness. They sat together, once again, in the confidence and love of early years, and talked over plans for the future. Barbara confessed that the severest part of her trial had arisen from her doubts as to Montalto's intentions; and Montalto acknowledged that he had wished to try the strength of her piety and resolution.
The arrival of the papal nuncio, Riverda, caused much anxiety and commotion in the little city; for it was known that he was a man capable of making every effort to carry into execution the dark threat which had already been whispered of.—He came, and did his utmost, but without success; even the stern deputies would not hear of separating children from
their parents, although they were not so scrupulous as to sequestrating property: so all that he could do was to frame a decree, ordering the Locarnese, on the third of March ensuing, to set out-they knew not whither.
Barbara's implacable enemy, meanwhile, foiled in one scheme, was, nevertheless, not laid at rest.-A proclamation was issued that, on a certain day, Riverda would be glad to hear any, among the persecuted Protestants, who should have courage enough to show the reason of their belief. Again there was a meeting held in the town-hall;-Riverda was the first to speak, and he accused the assembled Locarnese of heresy and contumacy. For some time deep silence prevailed; but at last, as though to shame the nobler sex, a woman advanced, and repelled his accusation.
The lady, who seated herself opposite Riverda, was closely veiled, yet her low clear voice could be distinctly heard by every one in the assembly. Point by point she met Riverda's statements, and confuted his arguments, bringing forward words from the Holy Book in support of every assertion she made, which he could not gainsay; so that at last he was fain to break up the assembly, and to declare that on some future day he would meet his fair antagonist again, and finish the discussion; and Barbara was glad, though she trembled with womanly fear, that she had not let pass this opportunity of showing forth the goodness of the cause for which herself and her country-folks were willing, if necessary, to die. She arose to leave the hall,-she had confuted Riverda; but she had changed him into a personal enemy.
The house of Barbara had been built, as we said before, in the stormy days of the Guelphs and Ghibellines. The front entrance, the one in constant use, faced the town of Locarno; but on the other side, and opening from the vaulted chapel, was a low iron door, of such solidity and weight, that it required the strength of six men to move it on its massy hinges.
On the night succeeding the day when Barbara had stood so boldly forward as a champion of the truth, Montalto awakened from an alarming dream. He closed his eyes:-again in slumber, he beheld the safety and life of his lady threatened; and this time the dream made so serious an impression on him, tinctured slightly as he was with the superstition of the times, that he arose, and calling some of his domestics, gave orders that the little concealed door in question should be raised, and a boat held there in readiness. Day had scarcely dawned, when a more tangible cause for fear presented itself. heard at the entrance door. The officers of Riverda demanded instant admittance; and putting the servants roughly aside, made their way even into the presence of the mistress of the house.
A loud knocking was
They showed a warrant for the apprehension of the lady Barbara, wherein she was accused of having uttered blasphemies against the sacrifice of the mass.
The noble lady did not for an instant lose her presence of mind; but rising with her wonted dignity, and drawing a veil that was on the dressing-tabl over her head, she asked, in the calmest possible tone, permission to retire for a few minutes into the nex room, for the purpose of arranging her dress, declaring at the same time her willingness, when that was done, to follow the officers.
Ten minutes, a quarter of an hour elapsed,-and where was the lady?-Down, with the swiftness of thought, she had hastened by the turret staircase that led to the chapel;-the boat was ready, the boatmen within call, the oars were muffled; and when the officers in possession of the room above stairs, by way of amusing their ennui, walked to the window to look out over the fair lake, they had the satisfaction of seeing in the far distance, beyond all hope of pursuit, a swiftly-moving boat, and their destined victim reclining at ease within it.
It was on the third of March, 1555, that the party of wanderers set forth. The government of Milan had ordered its subjects not to receive any of the outcasts from Locarno, nor to give them shelter. A command was at the same time issued to the proscribed, not to remain above three days in the Milanese territories, on pain of death. The mournful little band bade farewell to fertile Lombardy, with many tears; they sailed round the northern part of Lago Maggiore, passed the Helvetian baillages, by way of Bellinzone, and before night, foot-sore and sorrowful, they reached Rogoreto: there, Barbara and Montalto, who had awaited them, joined the party. For two months their farther progress was stayed by the Alpine snows,-two sad and weary months, during which they subsisted on the sale of some trifling jewels, which Barbara had worn on the day of her hasty escape, and on the hospitality of the inhabitants. At last the thaw commenced; they were enabled to pursue their way;-some of them remained in the Grisons; above a hundred went on to Zurich :-their brethren of the faith in that hos
pitable and wealthy town had heard of the persecutions they had endured; they revived the weary spirits of the wanderers with words of kindly welcome, and offered them asylum and employment.
More than two years after this, Barbara received a letter from her young cousin, wherein Fiore deeply deplored the weakness and irresolution she had shown; she had lost the beloved husband who had been to her so fatally dear, and she said she thought she could discern the sternness of retributive justice, in the blow which had deprived her of the very object for which she had been content to fors wear her truth; she told of bitter, of anguished repentance, and prayed to know whether, at that late hour, she might be permitted to lay down all, and follow whither Barbara had led the way.
This was the answer she received from her cousin :
"Come to us, Fiore; there is room in our heart and in our home for you. I say our heart; for, since we have been in this blessed exile, Montalto and I have had but one heart. Thou knowest that in olden days, my husband was a fellow-student with Taddeo à Dunis, the good physician, who came hither beforehand to entreat an asylum for us. Taddeo has procured for Montalto employment, and now he labours with heart and hand for my support, and for that of my child. Yes, Fiore; God has blessed our little Swiss cottage with that which he denied to our palace home, as if to show me that all happiness, all blessings, wait upon them who seek, albeit, with lingering foot and reluctant heart to do his will. All day long we labour, Montalto abroad, and I at home: but labour is sweet, for the cradle of my little one is