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Latosca

Latosca image
Parent Issue
Day
8
Month
November
Year
1895
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

ii is CHAPTER IX.- [contini-ed.] 'How could I teil? I thought that while her caprice lasted you would do frreat, inspired. fevered by her laudütion. Unhappily you have outlived her caprice, and have done nothing." 'You do not know! She may treat me coldly at tirues; she may be careles, reekless, but slie is unconscious of the pain she inflicts. lt is not caprice, it is " "VVhat?" asked De Carnelles, as Karl pauscd. "Love!" he cried. "Yes, she loves me! Ah!" as if ashamed of the avowal. "Why do you force me to betray myself, to betrav her?" De Carnelles smiled, a ardonic smile, not unniinffled with pity. 'My poor boy," he said, 'do you really believe this?" "If I did nut believe it I should go raad." "Then I am unspeakably sorry for what I have clone. Believe me, Karl, iady Hamilton is incapable of feeling ove for you or any one else." The maestro's eyes flashed. ■'Stop, Chevalier!" he cried. "You have aid enough. I will not allow you to slander Lady Hamilton in my presence." Before De Carnelles could collect his thoughts to reply to this mad infatuat.on her ladyship herself entered the room leaning on the arm of Prince Kalisch. As she saw the two occupants of the apartment, a gleam of ma! ice twiukled in her eye. "My dear Chevalier," she said, "are you really returned from the wilds of Spain.' And what have you been doin (f there?" "Si-alinsj balconies, your ladyship." "How deÜK'htful! Ah' Signor Roswem, I huve been searehing for you everywhere. Have you iorgotten that I promised to present you to the queen.'' Karl started forward aDd ofïered her his arm. With a smile that set the young mans pulsos throbbing, she aicepted it, and with a few words of thanks to Kalisch and apology to the Chevalier for deoriving him of his companion, she swept from the room. "Have you ever seen a baby with a eostly piece of china?" remarked Prince Kaliseh, slowly. "At first the delight and rapture expressed on its face; then, suddenly, without a moment's warning, it (jrows weary of the fragüe toy and dashes it on the ground to shiver into atoms. That is the way such women as Lady Hamilton treat such men as Karl Roswein." The Chevalitr frowned darkly. "Curse her!" he muttered. "I will Save him yet. " "Look out, my friend, that you are not too late. He has the look of a man who is dying." "Bah! Do you think a man's life hangs on the caprices of a coquette? When people are dyinjr of his malady they liv to a food oíd ape. I have been dying from love a hundred times. I, myself, and jret 1 flatter myself I am in pretty (jood healtli." "Signor Koswein is not made of the tame stuff as you and I," retorted the oíd Hussian, with a shake of his head. "Hut let us hope for the beat." The two strolled slowly back to the salons. "There isour Queen of Song-yonder," observed the prince. "She is to sing to-night a new song by Paesiello." Ravishingly beautiful was Floria Tosca, as. surrounded by a little court ot admirers, she half reclined in a low ;hair bencath masses of parti-eolored lowers. Her robe of white satm, made in the prevailing stvle of the day, showed her marvelous shoulders and perfect arms to the best advantage. A tunic of pale green embroidered irith ffold was draped in graceful folds ibout her exquisite figure, and in her lair and upon her bosom blazed priceess inwel Lehintl her chair, quiet ana ooservaii t, stond a tall. thin man, in a plain but elegant suit of black velvet. Éarly in the evening, Baron Searpia had received his report from his subordínate Zaccone. He knew of the loye of La Tosca and the painter, Mario Cavaradossi. He knew that Cavaradossi had leased a oertain villa, to which he repaired every night af ter his work at ïSt. Andrews of the Quirinal. Zaccone had been unable to flnd out the exact situation of this villa, but La Tesca unquestionably knew it. There was me for further investiffation: to this villa Cavaradossi had undoubtedly conducted Angelotti, and it was the regent of pólices task to discover its location that very nifrht. To-morrow tnight be too late. Searpia had known La Tosca slightly when she was inging at the opera house in Naples; be had recalled himself to her remembranee to-niffht, and was determined to mak e her his unconscious auxilbry in the recapture of the fugitive. Fortune aided his designs, as she does all who have the patience to wait. At last, he found himself alone with the cantatriee. her litt-le court havinf gradually dissolved. Sicking into h chair by her side, he said, apropos of nothing; "You are a royalist, I believe, siynoraV' 'Au bout des ongles, Monsieur," she replied enthusiastically. "This last battle of Marongo givs us the victory. The invader will soon be forcc-d to leave our land, and Austrian upremecy is assured." "Yen," she replied, a littie absently. Why she knew not. but this man affected her unpleasantly, as with a presentiment of evil. "Let us but once absolntely win over the linglish admiral and we have no further cause for alarm,' he contiaued. 'By the way, how radiant Lady Ha wilton is to-night!" As La Totea turned her eyea ) Tvheie Lady Uamilton stood viking ciirelessly with oue of the genemen attached to the court, Roswein pproached Her ladjship and murmreil a few words in her ear. With i shrug of her white shoulders, she eemed to acquiesce to some request, ind his arm, disappeared inone of the ante-rooms. Searpia smiled sarcastically. 'J)oyou Unow that young man, signora?" ''Yes: the youag composer, Karl Roswein. He has much talent. I am to sing the role of Leonora in his new opera, Tasso." "I am af raid our ambassador f rom 3reat Britain has reason to be jealous in that quarter." La Tosca made no reply. "Ali!" went on the baron, in no ways deterred by her seeming indifterence; "we diplomáis do not take into surticient account, the ravages made by the littie god with his bow and arrows"" La Tosca fauned herself noneualantly, with a far-off look in herdark eyes. What was this newly made baron and his disseriations to her?" "More than once," he continued, "I have Been my best plans come to grief through the caprice of some woman or the Pifión oí a man." "It seems to me," said Floria, as he Stopped, evidntly waitin; for a reply, "that the grealcst of deeds as well as the worst are often inspired by the master passion." "It depeuds upon the woman. The man fortúnate enough to win your regard, for instance, signora, m fht well be inspired to any auhieveDDtent" Tiese words were spoken with a warinth which was not entirely l feigned. Floria's beauty had fascina e:i t i a ct-rt.iin extent the gross nature of the ex-bandit. She carled her lip m ornfully. The pólice ageiit's admir tin ur disdain was alike indifferent to her. "To return to Lady Hamilton," he said. "lier friend is a protege of that I crazy De Carnelles, soine one was telling me." "I beliove so. ' "The Cheva:ier has a happy faculty of discovering geniua I had the pleasure of soeing the unfinishcd picture of anothcr young friend of his today - a Signor Cavaradossi." La Tosca made an impatient movement. The niention of her lover's name jarred upon her. "Great taltnt! By th way," laugrhing atut half c nfidentially; "the j young artist apparently is not averse I to receiving the fair sex in his improvised studio in the chape)." InstaDtlr II 'iia lost all her languor and indifTerence. "What do you mean?' she as.ied, looking Searpia full in the face. Could he have discov'-re'i her v sit to Mario? "l'erhaps I liave been indiscreet, but I met with a rather tranír; trouvaille ' during my in--peetion of the fresooes - a lany's fin." a-n r-mr i ml III "" A hand of iron seemed to grasp the sinffer's heart. She had had no fan that morning1. Then some one else had visitecl Mario. Who? "A fan?" she said, endeavoring to laugh, and steadying her voice. "Ves; I have it here," producing the fan. "You see, it has a eoronet and initials upon it " Floria 'took the fan. E. A.; those were the initials of the Marchesa Attavanti. Jealousy, the demon twin biotlier of the god called Love, once more toolc oassessioQ of her. .Vlario had dëcëiïeïrüér', non. ine Marcnesa had beeu to sce his pictures, and he did know her', after all. "I think the .'rest is ihat of the Marchesa Attavanti," went on this modern lago, '"iíut I did not see her tonighf' Ño! she was not here, and why had she, one of the beauties of the eourt, absented herself f rom this fete? Perhaps at i his very moment she was with Cavaradossi. The very thought was agony. How anxious Mario had been to be alone that morning. Perhaps her first suspicions were true! Perhaps the Marchesa was tliere concealed at the very moment she, I.a Tosca, was talking with lier lover. All these thoughts fiashed through Kloria's brain. causing her a world of agony. She must know the truth! Oh! to leave this hateful fete, fly to Mario, and set lier mind at rest. But it was impobsible; she must remain and sing: rcmuinand eat herhoart out with miserable suspicion and suspense. With a qiiiekmovementshe rose and gathered lier draperies about her, still uncenseiously grasping the fas, the instrument oí all her misery. "It is suffocutinsr here," she said, hurriedly. "I am going out on the balcony. No! do not follow me, I prefer to be alone." As she moved away Scarpiafollowed her with an expression fullof triunaph. "A hndsome woman," he tbought, "and a woman of brain, but mad - mad as all wonieti are when in lore. She will Dot rest this night until she has soen Cavaiadossi, and there will be a third party present at that interview with results you li.tle expect." MeanwhilQ an exjiting scène was taking place in the anteroom. to whieh he had led her, between Lady Hamiltonand Roswein. Maddened by her altérnate warmth and coolness, he had detennined to know the truth at all costs that very nig-ht The power this woman had over hiin he could not understand, he had never stopped to analyze, but irom the first moment he had Been her he had bekome her slave, with an iniatuation as deep as that of Antony for Cleopatra, as that of Ghaselard for Mary Stuart. All sense of duty, all itueutive to fame was. for the time, dead; he lived only in the smiles of his arch enchantress. And she? She had only exercised the power she knew only too well from experieuee she possessed. It had aimv'rï her to play with the handsome young composers heart, but his assiduities were beginning to bore her, his protestations to pall upon her. "Well," she said, as the eurtain feil behind them and they were alone, "you have asked, or, rather, demanded, a few moments' private conversation with me. Really, Signor Koswein, you are beeoming too exigent. Ilowever, how can I serve you.' ' ith white lips and in a hoarse voice he replied: "I can bear this no longer. I must know the truth, know it once and for all. You are driving me mad!" "Driving you mad?" she said, with a low laugh. "Really, this is carrying the st-nsitiveness of the poet too far. What have I done to you?" 'Done to me? Taken from me all that was best, one day raising me to heaven by your smiles and the next casting me into Hades with your coldness. Answer me once for all, if there is a woman's heart in you;' breast. Do you love me?" "I certainly cannot boast that wonderful devotion which seemsto inspire you, but my friendship in its hum ble way must have rested on a basis solid enoug'h to have withstood ior two months these constant exactions and this childish irritability." "I understand," he said, with a gasp. "You need say no more. I have no riffht, perhaps, to upbraid you. You did not ask for the s.irrender of my soul. But with your beauty, your fascmationSi you have ruined my life, killed my talents. If you could know for one moment what I suffer, would you pity me or would you laugh at my agony? But my turn will come. The day when the first breath of old ag shall cast you down from your throne, your power gone, your beauty destroyed forever, on that day i t.hall be avenged!" "What a charming dissertation," she said, languidly. ■'Jt is the last one you shall hear from my lips," he cried, passionately. "You will never be weiried by me again. Your slave casts off his bonds, Medusa! Ay! Medusa; for it is death to look upon you. But this is the end. Farewell forever!" Now this was not at all to her ladyship's liking. She might forsake, but it was no part of her code to be forsaken. "Karl," she said, gently. "Let us talk of these things calmly if we can. I ara notof your impulsive, headstrong temperament. You can not suppose that I ain indifferent to such intense feeling as you have evinced for me I am not indifferent to it. If I have seemed to trifle with you, forgive me. Y'our love has been sweet to me; alas! perhaps too sweet." How was it possible for him to resist the power of these siren accents, accompanied as they were by a glance from her beautiful eyes, which seemed to him to say far more than the mere words? 'Ah!' he eried, with a revulsión of feeling. "You do love me, then? Pardon my mad foliy. Let me be your slave, your lackey, your dog to fetch and carry, but only let me be near you!" "Quel enfantillage," she said, with a sweet smile, "be whatever you like, provided only you be reasonable. Hut now, amico mio, return to the salons and without me. We must be circumspeet. The gossips of Rome have tongues." He made no word of complaint, but cvering her white hand with kisses, obeyed. Scarcely had he disappeared than her whole face changed. "Fooi," she murmured, half aloud. "Did he think his paradise was to last forever?" "Fooi, indeed!" echoed a voice behind her. Lady Hamilton started, but in a moment she had recovered her superb com posure. "Ah! Chevalier, is it you?" "Yes, -nilady, it is I. Are you satisfied with your work?" "Is it impertinent to inquire what you mean?" 'I mean this. You have ruined that young man body and soul. You can twist him around your fingers as a cbild does a string." "Really," with a slight elevation of the eyebrows, "has the Chevalier de CarnelKs been playing the eavesdropper?" 'No, milady; I was upon the balcony and could not avoid overhearinjf your exceedingly interesting interview. Why have you destroyed this young niau's genius, withered his hopes by your inconstancy, and cast him down to his present depths of degradation?" "Is this meant satirieally?" "No; itis all there is of sincerity." "And who was it," she askcd, haughtily uprearing her head. "that carne to me and implo'-ed me to come to his aid and save his miraculous prodigy from some unfortunate marriage -1 Jcnow not what?" I " i'cs, ms truel d"íd tnat. it was a miserable ra istake. " ' "Then what is your complaint against me'? That I am a eofiuett? Granted. lt is my pleasure to deceive men. They would findan eiual pleasure in deceiving me if they could. You have known me a long1 time. If my influencc has been unfortunate for his youag genius, you should haveforseen it." "1 ilid not thiDk he would be so weak or you so heartless. "' "Bah! . truep to nlatitiidcs! Ah! The music has begnn. I would not miss LaTosoa's song for the world. A riverderci amico mio. Oh! one word, Chevalier; it is rlangerous tO fightn ith me with the foüs off!" and with a bow, she swept from the room with ,he dignity of a princess. "Canaglia!" hissed the Cheyalier between his teeth, as he prepared to follow her. As he entered the grand saloon, the whole vast throng, queen, courtiers and guests, were hushed to silence, as the glorious tones of La Tosca's unrivaled voice filled the room with rnelody. Who could guess tlie torture she was suffering beneath her claciii, beautiful exterior? But suddenly, as all hung entranced by her marvelous gift, a muffled sound of trampling feet was beard in the outer hall, and the great doors were thrown open with a crash. The n)'siciu.ns dropped their violins. the singer stopped. and the queen started to her ieet. A man in the uniform of au ouicer of the Austrian army, travelstained, covered with dust, pushed his way throtigh until he reached the dais where the queen was standing'. "Whatmeans this unseemly intrusión?" exelaimedMarieCaroline: then, as she recognized the new comer; "What! (Japtain Kanrosch! you!" "Your Majesty," said the officer, dropping1 upon one knee, "I am the beai er of evil tidings." "ÉSpeak, man; what is it? Tl: e vast assemblage pressed forward, straining their ears to catch his response. "The first reports were false, your Majesty, Mareng-o wïb lost, Napoleon is vict jrious everywhere. Our losses were frightful. It was a complete rout." "Impossible!" exclaimed the queen, ashy pale. "Alas! your Majesty, it is only too true. I am the bearer of dispatches direct f rom the battlefiela." With a low ■ the queen feil back faintiug in the arms of her maids of honor. In an instant all was confusión and excitement, a perfect babel oí cries and ejaculations. To one, liowaver, this disastrous nevvs brougfht only a fierce joy. What lo lier was victory or defeat, disaster to one part.y or triumph to the other? She was free, free to seek her lover and tax him with his perfidy. Makinff her way as best she could throug-h the crowd, Floria snatched her cloak from the chi.ir on which she had left it and hurried down the broad staircase to the open plaza. With difficulty finding1 her carriag'e, she ordered her coachman to dr.ve to Mario's Tilla. Scareely had the horses started than a dark form emerged from the doorway, leapod into a close carriage that stodne;ir by, and, leaning out of the window, said to the man on the box, in low, distinct tones: "FoJlow Ihat carriag'e, and, on your life, do not lose sig-ht of it!" The vampire was in pursuit of bis victim. Ta be Continue d.

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Old News
Ann Arbor Democrat