Giulietta (jee-ew-LEE-eht-tah), the Marquise of O——, a widow from a distinguished family and the mother of two children. A woman of unblemished reputation, Giulietta has lived with her parents since the death of her husband three years earlier, caring for them and rearing her children. She loved her husband very much and, although still young, has decided not to remarry. She enjoys a quiet life devoted to art, reading, and her domestic duties. Her world suddenly becomes incomprehensible to her as she begins to suffer the physical changes associated with pregnancy. Knowing that she has not had relations with a man since her husband died, she is devastated when both a doctor and a midwife diagnose her pregnancy. Cast out by her family, she finds an inner strength to gather her children and go to her own estate to rear them alone. Realizing that it would be impossible to convince anyone of her innocence, she heroically submits to this inexplicable turn of events. An announcement in the newspapers declares that she will marry the father if he will identify himself. After an initial shock of horror and rejection, she consents to a marriage and is eventually reconciled to her new husband.
Count F——, a Russian officer, a lieutenant colonel in the Rifle Corps in the Russian forces. He is a man of excellent family and character who prevents a group of soldiers from assaulting Giulietta during the Russian attack on the citadel at M——. After she falls unconscious, however, he assaults her himself, with...
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