Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Vincentio di Vivaldi sees Ellena di Rosalba for the first time at the Church of San Lorenzo in Naples. He is so impressed by the sweetness of her voice and the grace of her person that at the end of the service he follows the girl and her elderly companion in the hope of catching a glimpse of her features. When the elderly woman stumbles and falls, Vivaldi seizes the opportunity to offer her his arm, a gallant gesture that gives him the excuse to accompany the two women to the Villa Altieri, their modest home on an eminence overlooking the Bay of Naples.
The next day, he returns to inquire about the health of the older woman, Signora Bianchi, who receives her guest courteously. Ellena does not appear. Despondent at her absence, he inquires of his acquaintances into the girl’s family but learns only that she is an orphan, the niece and ward of her aged relative.
That night, resolved to see Ellena again, he leaves a reception his mother is giving and returns to the Villa Altieri. The hour is late, and only one window is lighted. Through a lattice, he sees Ellena playing on her lute and singing a midnight hymn to the Virgin Mary. Entranced, he draws near the lattice and hears her pronounce his name; but when he reveals himself, the girl hastily closes the lattice and leaves the room. Vivaldi lingers in the garden for some time before returning to Naples. Lost in reverie, he is passing under a shattered archway extending over the road when a...
(The entire section is 2988 words.)
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