‘Who? Speak calmly, dearest; pause awhile; reassure yourself, and then speak. Look, you are safe in my arms; I clasp them round you, do not fear!’

The prisoner sunk in Euthanasia’s embrace: she was chilled, icycold;—and she lay panting, as a bleeding fawn who gazes on its death’s wound. The warmth of Euthanasia’s arms somewhat restored her; and she said, dividing the entangled strings of her hair with her thin fingers; ‘You do not remember me, nor would he; I am as unlike what I was when he saw me, as is the yellow, fallen leaf to the bright-green foliage of May. You do not remember me?’

‘Yes, now it flashes on my memory; are you then indeed——’ Euthanasia paused; the name of Beatrice hovered on her lips, but a feeling of delicacy prevented her from speaking it: she continued; ‘Yes, I recollect the pilgrim, your refusal to remain at Valperga, and the deep interest I took in your sorrows.’

‘You were very, very kind; are you not so now? Will you not go to him, and ask him to order my release?’

‘To whom am I to go? and from whom do I come?’ asked Euthanasia, half-smiling; for, notwithstanding the prisoner recalled to her memory a scene, which made it appear that she was certainly Beatrice; yet so long had all traces of her been lost, that she wished for some confirmation from her own lips.

‘Alas!’ replied the unhappy girl, ‘I would not have him know, if I could help it. Do you think that, if you were to tell him that a poor girl, who five years ago had just attained her seventeenth year, who was then happy, loving and adored,—who is now pursued for heresy—falsely—or if you will—truly; one very unfortunate, who earnestly implores him as he loves his own soul, to save her; do you not think he would compassionate me?’

‘Who? you speak in riddles.’

‘In riddles! Are you not Euthanasia? You must know whom I mean; why, Antelminelli,—Castruccio.’

The prisoner hid her face with her hands. She blushed deeply, and her fast-falling tears trickled through her fingers; Euthanasia blushed also, a tremulous hectic,that quickly vanished, while her companion’s cheeks still burned.

‘Yes, I will go to him, or to any one on earth to save you.—Yet methinks I had better go to the father- inquisitors; I am known to them, and I think I could as easily move them as the prince; he is careless——’

‘Oh! no—no; you must go to him: he knew me once, and surely would compassionate me. Try him first with the echo of my complaints, and a relation of my tears; surely his eyes, which can look into the soul, would then be dimmed: would they not?’

Euthanasia thought of Leodino; and she was about to reply, that warriors, politicians, and ambitious princes, such as Castruccio, were accustomed to regard with contempt woes like hers. But she hesitated; she would not rob him, whom she had once loved, of the smallest mite of another’s praise, however undeserved; besides, she felt that the name of Beatrice alone would move him to compassion, perhaps to remorse. She was therefore silent; and the prisoner continued, with a voice of trembling earnestness, ‘Try every argument first; but, if he is obdurate, then tell him that he once knew me,— that now my fortunes are changed,—he will guess the cause: yet perhaps he will think wrong, for that is not the cause. Tell him I am one Beatrice;—he saw me some years ago at the house of the good bishop of Ferrara.’

The poor fallen prophetess now burst into a passion of weeping; she wrung her hands, and tore her hair, while her companion looked on her, unable to restrain her tears. Castruccio had described his Beatrice, so bright, so ethereal in her loveliness, that it moved Euthanasia’s inmost soul to see what a change a very few years had made. Perceiving the blushes and shame of the lost girl, she concealed her knowledge of her tale, and answered only by endeavouring to soothe her, and to assure her of her safety.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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