FERDINAND (hastily reading the letter, at one moment seeming petrified with astonishment, at the next pacing the room with fury). Impossible! quite impossible! A form so heavenly cannot hide so devilish a heart. And yet!—and yet! Though all the angels of heaven should descend on earth and proclaim her innocence—though heaven and earth, the Creator and the created, should, with one accord, vouch for her innocence—it is her hand, her own hand! Treachery, monstrous, infernal treachery, such as humanity never before witnessed! This, then, was the reason she so resolutely opposed our flight! This it was—Oh, God! Now I awake from my dream! Now the veil is lifted! This, then, is why she surrendered with so much seeming heroism her claims on my affection, and all but cheated me with her saint-like demeanor! (He traverses the chamber rapidly, and then remains for some moments in deep thought.) To fathom my heart to its very core! To reciprocate every lofty sentiment, every gentle emotion, every fiery ebullition! To sympathize with every secret breathing of my soul! To study me even in her tears! To mount with me to the sublimest heights of passion—to brave with me, undaunted, each fearful precipice! God of heaven! And was all this deceit? mere grimace? Oh, if falsehood can assume so lovely an appearance of truth why has no devil yet lied himself back into heaven?
When I unfolded to her the dangers which threatened our affection, with what convincing artifice did the false one turn pale! With what overpowering dignity did she repulse my father's licentious scoffs! yet at that very moment the deceiver was conscious of her guilt! Nay, did she not even undergo the fiery ordeal of truth? Forsooth, the hypocrite fainted! What must now be thy language, sensibility, since coquettes faint? How wilt thou vindicate thyself, innocence?—for even strumpets faint?
She knows her power over me—she has seen through my very heart! My soul shone conspicuous in my eyes at the blush of her first kiss. And that she should have felt nothing! or perhaps felt only the triumph of her art; whilst my happy delirium fancied that in her I embraced a whole heaven, my wildest wishes were hushed! No thought but of her and eternity was present to my mind. Oh, God! and yet she felt nothing? Nothing? but that her artifice had triumphed! That her charms were flattered! Death and vengeance! Nothing, but that I was betrayed!