Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 793
Flora and her friend Laura, both motherless, went out veiled into the streets of Vienna to witness the city’s welcome to the Spanish princess Maria. Unfortunately, they were recognized by Arnaldo, in love with Laura, and by Licio, chosen by Flora’s father as the future husband of his daughter. Flora became intrigued by the attempts of a handsome stranger to talk to her. When a quarrel between him and Licio seemed imminent, both ladies fled to their homes.
Into Flora’s home rushed the stranger, Carlos Colona, in search of asylum. He said that he had been forced into a duel over a veiled woman and had killed his challenger. Without identifying herself, Flora promised him protection and hid him in a closet as Arnaldo appeared, seeking to kill the man who had murdered Licio. Her father, Don Cesar, also came in, having learned from Dinero, the stranger’s servant, that the murderer was the son of his old friend, the Governor of Brandenburg. He faced a predicament. His ties of friendship required that he help the young fugitive, but as magistrate he must hunt him down and execute him.
In the meantime Arnaldo had carried the news to Laura as an excuse to enter her house without objections from her brother and guardian, Fabio; but Fabio warned the young man never again to try to talk to Laura while she was unchaperoned. Then, seeing in Flora’s grief a chance to further his own courtship, Fabio left to visit her and in doing so interrupted her plans to get Don Carlos to a place of safety.
Because there were too many people around the house, visitors come to see the magistrate, Flora and her servant Silvia decided to hide Don Carlos in the tower of the building, formerly the town jail. Later Silvia returned to tell the fugitive that a heavily muffled woman wanted to talk to him. Flora, the caller, knew that it was impossible for her to go openly calling on the man who had just killed her fiance. Don Carlos decided that the women of Vienna were kind to strangers. The visitor, after making him promise not to try to discover her identity, explained that she had come because she was the cause of all his trouble, the motive for the duel, and she wanted to make amends. He answered that he was leaving Vienna as soon as possible in order not to harm her reputation. But the arrival of Dinero again delayed his escape. The servant, learning Flora’s identity, prevented her father’s discovery of her secret by claiming that he had brought a cloak which the girl was merely trying on.
Don Cesar having gone to post guards at the gates, Don Carlos gave Flora a jewel as a token and then slipped over the wall into the next house. There he interrupted the love-making of Arnaldo and Laura, but he won their sympathy by telling a story about fleeing from a jealous husband. Arnaldo, having boosted the fugitive over a high fence to safety, was himself caught by Don Cesar, who was pursuing the fugitive, and by Fabio, who had been awakened by the noise. By keeping muffled, Arnaldo tricked the magistrate into believing him the escaping Don Carlos. Don Cesar ordered a jailer to return the fugitive to the tower prison.
Don Carlos had already taken refuge there, convinced it was the safest place in which he could hide. The young man’s presence now offered Don Cesar a triple problem of honor: his conflicting duties as father, friend, and magistrate. Meanwhile, Arnaldo, finding Don Carlos in the tower, started a quarrel. The noise of the fight brought Don Cesar to the scene. He scoffed at Arnaldo’s accusations that the young man was secretly visiting Flora; his own jailer had brought the young man there. Denounced as a scandalmonger, Arnaldo was thrown out of the house.
Laura, veiled, was an early morning visitor to the tower. At first Flora, also in disguise, saw in her friend a possible rival; but Laura, thinking that the prisoner was Arnaldo, had come to confess her indiscretion, if necessary, in order to free him. The others, bursting in, found the two veiled women. Arnaldo, realizing that one was Laura, confessed his misdeeds and asked to marry her, but only after he had killed Don Carlos. The prisoner then concocted a story that placated everybody. Laura’s honor was now safe. Don Carlos also assured Don Cesar that he had sought asylum in the house of his father’s friend, not of his sweetheart’s father; and he pointed out his marriage to Flora would resolve all problems. So all ended happily with a double wedding.
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