Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Venetia
Author: Disraeli, Benjamin, Earl of Beaconsfield, 1804-1881
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Venetia" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Team



VENETIA

BY THE EARL OF BEACONSFIELD, K.G.

1905



  'Is thy face like thy mother's, my fair child?'

  'The child of love, though born in bitterness
  And nurtured in convulsion.'



TO

LORD LYNDHURST.

In happier hours, when I first mentioned to you the idea of this Work,
it was my intention, while inscribing it with your name, to have
entered into some details as to the principles which had guided me in
its composition, and the feelings with which I had attempted to shadow
forth, though as 'in in a glass darkly,' two of the most renowned and
refined spirits that have adorned these our latter days. But now I
will only express a hope that the time may come when, in these pages,
you may find some relaxation from the cares, and some distraction
from the sorrows, of existence, and that you will then receive this
dedication as a record of my respect and my affection.

This Work was first published in the year 1837.



BOOK I.



CHAPTER I.


Some ten years before the revolt of our American colonies, there was
situate in one of our midland counties, on the borders of an extensive
forest, an ancient hall that belonged to the Herberts, but which,
though ever well preserved, had not until that period been visited by
any member of the family, since the exile of the Stuarts. It was an
edifice of considerable size, built of grey stone, much covered with
ivy, and placed upon the last gentle elevation of a long ridge of
hills, in the centre of a crescent of woods, that far overtopped its
clusters of tall chimneys and turreted gables. Although the principal
chambers were on the first story, you could nevertheless step forth
from their windows on a broad terrace, whence you descended into the
gardens by a double flight of stone steps, exactly in the middle
of its length. These gardens were of some extent, and filled with
evergreen shrubberies of remarkable overgrowth, while occasionally
turfy vistas, cut in the distant woods, came sloping down to the
south, as if they opened to receive the sunbeam that greeted the
genial aspect of the mansion, The ground-floor was principally
occupied by the hall itself, which was of great dimensions, hung round
with many a family portrait and rural picture, furnished with long
oaken seats covered with scarlet cushions, and ornamented with a
parti-coloured floor of alternate diamonds of black and white marble.
From the centre of the roof of the mansion, which was always covered
with pigeons, rose the clock-tower of the chapel, surmounted by a
vane; and before the mansion itself was a large plot of grass, with a
fountain in the centre, surrounded by a hedge of honeysuckle.

This plot of grass was separated from an extensive park, that opened
in front of the hall, by tall iron gates, on each of the pillars of
which was a lion rampant supporting the escutcheon of the family. The
deer wandered in this enclosed and well-wooded demesne, and about a
mile from the mansion, in a direct line with the iron gates, was an
old-fashioned lodge, which marked the limit of the park, and from
which you emerged into a fine avenue of limes bounded on both sides
by fields. At the termination of this avenue was a strong but simple
gate, and a woodman's cottage; and then spread before you a vast
landscape of open, wild lands, which seemed on one side interminable,
while on the other the eye rested on the dark heights of the
neighbouring forest.

This picturesque and secluded abode was the residence of Lady Annabel
Herbert and her daughter, the young and beautiful Venetia, a child, at
the time when our history commences, of very tender age. It was nearly
seven years since Lady Annabel and her infant daughter had sought the
retired shades of Cherbury, which they had never since quitted. They
lived alone and for each other; the mother educated her child, and
the child interested her mother by her affectionate disposition,
the development of a mind of no ordinary promise, and a sort of
captivating grace and charming playfulness of temper, which were
extremely delightful. Lady Annabel was still young and lovely. That
she was wealthy her establishment clearly denoted, and she was a
daughter of one of the haughtiest houses in the kingdom. It was
strange then that, with all the brilliant accidents of birth, and
beauty, and fortune, she should still, as it were in the morning of
her life, have withdrawn to this secluded mansion, in a county where
she was personally unknown, distant from the metropolis, estranged
from all her own relatives and connexions, and without resource of
even a single neighbour, for the only place of importance in her
vicinity was uninhabited. The general impression of the villagers was
that Lady Annabel was a widow; and yet there were some speculators
who would shrewdly remark, that her ladyship had never worn weeds,
although her husband could not have been long dead when she first
arrived at Cherbury. On the whole, however, these good people were not
very inquisitive; and it was fortunate for them, for there was little
chance and slight means of gratifying their curiosity. The whole of
the establishment had been formed at Cherbury, with the exception of
her ladyship's waiting-woman, Mistress Pauncefort, and she was by far
too great a personage to condescend to reply to any question which was
not made to her by Lady Annabel herself.

The beauty of the young Venetia was not the hereditary gift of her
beautiful mother. It was not from Lady Annabel that Venetia Herbert
had derived those seraphic locks that fell over her shoulders and
down her neck in golden streams, nor that clear grey eye even, whose
childish glance might perplex the gaze of manhood, nor that little
aquiline nose, that gave a haughty expression to a countenance that
had never yet dreamed of pride, nor that radiant complexion, that
dazzled with its brilliancy, like some winged minister of Raffael or
Correggio. The peasants that passed the lady and her daughter in their
walks, and who blessed her as they passed, for all her grace and
goodness, often marvelled why so fair a mother and so fair a child
should be so dissimilar, that one indeed might be compared to a starry
night, and the other to a sunny day.



CHAPTER II.


It was a bright and soft spring morning: the dewy vistas of Cherbury
sparkled in the sun, the cooing of the pigeons sounded around, the
peacocks strutted about the terrace and spread their tails with
infinite enjoyment and conscious pride, and Lady Annabel came forth
with her little daughter, to breathe the renovating odours of the
season. The air was scented with the violet, tufts of daffodils were
scattered all about, and though the snowdrop had vanished, and the
primroses were fast disappearing, their wild and shaggy leaves still
looked picturesque and glad.

'Mamma,' said the little Venetia, 'is this spring?'

'This is spring, my child,' replied Lady Annabel, 'beautiful spring!
The year is young and happy, like my little girl.'

'If Venetia be like the spring, mamma is like the summer!' replied the
child; and the mother smiled. 'And is not the summer young and happy?'
resumed Venetia.

'It is not quite so young as the spring,' said Lady Annabel, looking
down with fondness on her little companion, 'and, I fear, not quite so
happy.'

'But it is as beautiful,' said Venetia.

'It is not beauty that makes us happy,' said Lady Annabel; 'to be
happy, my love, we must be good.'

'Am I good?' said Venetia.

'Very good,' said Lady Annabel

'I am very happy,' said Venetia; 'I wonder whether, if I be always
good, I shall always be happy?'

'You cannot be happy without being good, my love; but happiness
depends upon the will of God. If you be good he will guard over you.'

'What can make me unhappy, mamma?' inquired Venetia.

'An evil conscience, my love.'

'Conscience!' said Venetia: 'what is conscience?'

'You are not yet quite old enough to understand,' said Lady Annabel,
'but some day I will teach you. Mamma is now going to take a long
walk, and Venetia shall walk with her.'

So saying, the Lady Annabel summoned Mistress Pauncefort, a
gentlewoman of not more discreet years than might have been expected
in the attendant of so young a mistress; but one well qualified for
her office, very zealous and devoted, somewhat consequential, full of
energy and decision, capable of directing, fond of giving advice, and
habituated to command. The Lady Annabel, leading her daughter, and
accompanied by her faithful bloodhound, Marmion, ascended one of those
sloping vistas that we have noticed, Mistress Pauncefort following
them about a pace behind, and after her a groom, at a respectful
distance, leading Miss Herbert's donkey.

They soon entered a winding path through the wood which was the
background of their dwelling. Lady Annabel was silent, and lost in her
reflections; Venetia plucked the beautiful wild hyacinths that then
abounded in the wood in such profusion, that their beds spread like
patches of blue enamel, and gave them to Mistress Pauncefort, who, as
the collection increased, handed them over to the groom; who, in turn,
deposited them in the wicker seat prepared for his young mistress. The
bright sun bursting through the tender foliage of the year, the clear
and genial air, the singing of the birds, and the wild and joyous
exclamations of Venetia, as she gathered her flowers, made it a
cheerful party, notwithstanding the silence of its mistress.

When they emerged from the wood, they found themselves on the brow
of the hill, a small down, over which Venetia ran, exulting in the
healthy breeze which, at this exposed height, was strong and fresh.
As they advanced to the opposite declivity to that which they had
ascended, a wide and peculiar landscape opened before them. The
extreme distance was formed by an undulating ridge of lofty and savage
hills; nearer than these were gentler elevations, partially wooded;
and at their base was a rich valley, its green meads fed by a clear
and rapid stream, which glittered in the sun as it coursed on, losing
itself at length in a wild and sedgy lake that formed the furthest
limit of a widely-spreading park. In the centre of this park, and
not very remote from the banks of the rivulet, was an ancient gothic
building, that had once been an abbey of great repute and wealth, and
had not much suffered in its external character, by having served for
nearly two centuries and a half as the principal dwelling of an old
baronial family.

Descending the downy hill, that here and there was studded with fine
old trees, enriching by their presence the view from the abbey, Lady
Annabel and her party entered the meads, and, skirting the lake,
approached the venerable walls without crossing the stream.

It was difficult to conceive a scene more silent and more desolate.
There was no sign of life, and not a sound save the occasional
cawing of a rook. Advancing towards the abbey, they passed a pile of
buildings that, in the summer, might be screened from sight by the
foliage of a group of elms, too scanty at present to veil their
desolation. Wide gaps in the roof proved that the vast and dreary
stables were no longer used; there were empty granaries, whose doors
had fallen from their hinges; the gate of the courtyard was prostrate
on the ground; and the silent clock that once adorned the cupola over
the noble entrance arch, had long lost its index. Even the litter of
the yard appeared dusty and grey with age. You felt sure no human foot
could have disturbed it for years. At the back of these buildings were
nailed the trophies of the gamekeeper: hundreds of wild cats, dried to
blackness, stretched their downward heads and legs from the mouldering
wall; hawks, magpies, and jays hung in tattered remnants! but all
grey, and even green, with age; and the heads of birds in plenteous
rows, nailed beak upward, and so dried and shrivelled by the suns and
winds and frosts of many seasons, that their distinctive characters
were lost.

'Do you know, my good Pauncefort,' said Lady Annabel, 'that I have
an odd fancy to-day to force an entrance into the old abbey. It is
strange, fond as I am of this walk, that we have never yet entered it.
Do you recollect our last vain efforts? Shall we be more fortunate
this time, think you?'

Mistress Pauncefort smiled and smirked, and, advancing to the old
gloomy porch, gave a determined ring at the bell. Its sound might
be heard echoing through the old cloisters, but a considerable time
elapsed without any other effect being produced. Perhaps Lady Annabel
would have now given up the attempt, but the little Venetia expressed
so much regret at the disappointment, that her mother directed the
groom to reconnoitre in the neighbourhood, and see if it were possible
to discover any person connected with the mansion.

'I doubt our luck, my lady,' said Mistress Pauncefort, 'for they do
say that the abbey is quite uninhabited.'

''Tis a pity,' said Lady Annabel, 'for, with all its desolation, there
is something about this spot which ever greatly interests me.'

'Mamma, why does no one live here?' said Venetia.

'The master of the abbey lives abroad, my child.'

'Why does he, mamma?'

'Never ask questions, Miss Venetia,' said Mistress Pauncefort, in a
hushed and solemn tone; 'it is not pretty.' Lady Annabel had moved
away.

The groom returned, and said he had met an old man, picking
water-cresses, and he was the only person who lived in the abbey,
except his wife, and she was bedridden. The old man had promised to
admit them when he had completed his task, but not before, and the
groom feared it would be some time before he arrived.

'Come, Pauncefort, rest yourself on this bench,' said Lady Annabel,
seating herself in the porch; 'and Venetia, my child, come hither to
me.'

'Mamma,' said Venetia, 'what is the name of the gentleman to whom this
abbey belongs?'

'Lord Cadurcis, love.'

'I should like to know why Lord Cadurcis lives abroad?' said Venetia,
musingly.

'There are many reasons why persons may choose to quit their native
country, and dwell in another, my love,' said Lady Annabel, very
quietly; 'some change the climate for their health.'

'Did Lord Cadurcis, mamma?' asked Venetia.

'I do not know Lord Cadurcis, dear, or anything of him, except that he
is a very old man, and has no family.'

At this moment there was a sound of bars and bolts withdrawn, and the
falling of a chain, and at length the massy door slowly opened, and
the old man appeared and beckoned to them to enter.

''Tis eight years, come Martinmas, since I opened this door,' said the
old man, 'and it sticks a bit. You must walk about by yourselves, for
I have no breath, and my mistress is bedridden. There, straight down
the cloister, you can't miss your way; there is not much to see.'

The interior of the abbey formed a quadrangle, surrounded by the
cloisters, and in this inner court was a curious fountain, carved with
exquisite skill by some gothic artist in one of those capricious moods
of sportive invention that produced those grotesque medleys for which
the feudal sculptor was celebrated. Not a sound was heard except the
fall of the fountain and the light echoes that its voice called up.

The staircase led Lady Annabel and her party through several small
rooms, scantily garnished with ancient furniture, in some of which
were portraits of the family, until they at length entered a noble
saloon, once the refectory of the abbey, and not deficient in
splendour, though sadly soiled and worm-eaten. It was hung with
tapestry representing the Cartoons of Raffael, and their still vivid
colours contrasted with the faded hangings and the dingy damask of the
chairs and sofas. A mass of Cromwellian armour was huddled together in
a corner of a long monkish gallery, with a standard, encrusted with
dust, and a couple of old drums, one broken. From one of the windows
they had a good view of the old walled garden, which did not
tempt them to enter it; it was a wilderness, the walks no longer
distinguishable from the rank vegetation of the once cultivated lawns;
the terraces choked up with the unchecked shrubberies; and here and
there a leaden statue, a goddess or a satyr, prostrate, and covered
with moss and lichen.

'It makes me melancholy,' said Lady Annabel; 'let us return.'

'Mamma,' said Venetia, 'are there any ghosts in this abbey?'

'You may well ask me, love,' replied Lady Annabel; 'it seems a
spell-bound place. But, Venetia, I have often told you there are no
such things as ghosts.'

'Is it naughty to believe in ghosts, mamma, for I cannot help
believing in them?'

'When you are older, and have more knowledge, you will not believe in
them, Venetia,' replied Lady Annabel.

Our friends left Cadurcis Abbey. Venetia mounted her donkey, her
mother walked by her side; the sun was beginning to decline when they
again reached Cherbury, and the air was brisk. Lady Annabel was glad
to find herself by her fireside in her little terrace-room, and
Venetia fetching her book, read to her mother until their dinner hour.



CHAPTER III.


Two serene and innocent years had glided away at Cherbury since this
morning ramble to Cadurcis Abbey, and Venetia had grown in loveliness,
in goodness, and intelligence. Her lively and somewhat precocious mind
had become greatly developed; and, though she was only nine years of
age, it scarcely needed the affection of a mother to find in her an
interesting and engaging companion. Although feminine education was
little regarded in those days, that of Lady Annabel had been an
exception to the general practice of society. She had been brought
up with the consciousness of other objects of female attainment and
accomplishment than embroidery, 'the complete art of making pastry,'
and reading 'The Whole Duty of Man.' She had profited, when a child,
by the guidance of her brother's tutor, who had bestowed no unfruitful
pains upon no ordinary capacity. She was a good linguist, a fine
musician, was well read in our elder poets and their Italian
originals, was no unskilful artist, and had acquired some knowledge
of botany when wandering, as a girl, in her native woods. Since her
retirement to Cherbury, reading had been her chief resource. The hall
contained a library whose shelves, indeed, were more full than choice;
but, amid folios of theological controversy and civil law, there might
be found the first editions of most of the celebrated writers of the
reign of Anne, which the contemporary proprietor of Cherbury, a man of
wit and fashion in his day, had duly collected in his yearly visits to
the metropolis, and finally deposited in the family book-room.

The education of her daughter was not only the principal duty of Lady
Annabel, but her chief delight. To cultivate the nascent intelligence
of a child, in those days, was not the mere piece of scientific
mechanism that the admirable labours of so many ingenious writers have
since permitted it comparatively to become. In those days there was no
Mrs. Barbauld, no Madame de Genlis, no Miss Edgeworth; no 'Evenings at
Home,' no 'Children's Friend,' no 'Parent's Assistant.' Venetia loved
her book; indeed, she was never happier than when reading; but she
soon recoiled from the gilt and Lilliputian volumes of the good Mr.
Newbury, and her mind required some more substantial excitement than
'Tom Thumb,' or even 'Goody Two-Shoes.' 'The Seven Champions' was
a great resource and a great favourite; but it required all the
vigilance of a mother to eradicate the false impressions which such
studies were continually making on so tender a student; and to
disenchant, by rational discussion, the fascinated imagination of her
child. Lady Annabel endeavoured to find some substitute in the essays
of Addison and Steele; but they required more knowledge of the
every-day world for their enjoyment than an infant, bred in such
seclusion, could at present afford; and at last Venetia lost herself
in the wildering pages of Clelia and the Arcadia, which she pored over
with a rapt and ecstatic spirit, that would not comprehend the warning
scepticism of her parent. Let us picture to ourselves the high-bred
Lady Annabel in the terrace-room of her ancient hall, working at
her tapestry, and, seated at her feet, her little daughter Venetia,
reading aloud the Arcadia! The peacocks have jumped up on the
window-sill, to look at their friends, who love to feed them, and by
their pecking have aroused the bloodhound crouching at Lady Annabel's
feet. And Venetia looks up from her folio with a flushed and smiling
face to catch the sympathy of her mother, who rewards her daughter's
study with a kiss. Ah! there are no such mothers and no such daughters
now!

Thus it will be seen that the life and studies of Venetia tended
rather dangerously, in spite of all the care of her mother, to the
development of her imagination, in case indeed she possessed that
terrible and fatal gift. She passed her days in unbroken solitude, or
broken only by affections which softened her heart, and in a scene
which itself might well promote any predisposition of the kind;
beautiful and picturesque objects surrounded her on all sides; she
wandered, at it were, in an enchanted wilderness, and watched the deer
reposing under the green shadow of stately trees; the old hall
itself was calculated to excite mysterious curiosity; one wing was
uninhabited and shut up; each morning and evening she repaired with
her mother and the household through long galleries to the chapel,
where she knelt to her devotions, illumined by a window blazoned with
the arms of that illustrious family of which she was a member, and
of which she knew nothing. She had an indefinite and painful
consciousness that she had been early checked in the natural inquiries
which occur to every child; she had insensibly been trained to speak
only of what she saw; and when she listened, at night, to the long
ivy rustling about the windows, and the wild owls hooting about the
mansion, with their pining, melancholy voices, she might have been
excused for believing in those spirits, which her mother warned her to
discredit; or she forgot these mournful impressions in dreams, caught
from her romantic volumes, of bright knights and beautiful damsels.

Only one event of importance had occurred at Cherbury during these two
years, if indeed that be not too strong a phrase to use in reference
to an occurrence which occasioned so slight and passing an interest.
Lord Cadurcis had died. He had left his considerable property to his
natural children, but the abbey had descended with the title to a very
distant relative. The circle at Cherbury had heard, and that was all,
that the new lord was a minor, a little boy, indeed very little older
than Venetia herself; but this information produced no impression. The
abbey was still deserted and desolate as ever.



CHAPTER IV.


Every Sunday afternoon, the rector of a neighbouring though still
somewhat distant parish, of which the rich living was in the gift of
the Herberts, came to perform divine service at Cherbury. It was a
subject of deep regret to Lady Annabel that herself and her family
were debarred from the advantage of more frequent and convenient
spiritual consolation; but, at this time, the parochial discipline
of the Church of England was not so strict as it fortunately is at
present. Cherbury, though a vicarage, possessed neither parish church,
nor a residence for the clergyman; nor was there indeed a village. The
peasants on the estate, or labourers as they are now styled, a term
whose introduction into our rural world is much to be lamented, lived
in the respective farmhouses on the lands which they cultivated. These
were scattered about at considerable distances, and many of their
inmates found it more convenient to attend the church of the
contiguous parish than to repair to the hall chapel, where the
household and the dwellers in the few cottages scattered about the
park and woods always assembled. The Lady Annabel, whose lot it had
been in life to find her best consolation in religion, and who was
influenced by not only a sincere but even a severe piety, had no other
alternative, therefore, but engaging a chaplain; but this, after much
consideration, she had resolved not to do. She was indeed her own
chaplain, herself performing each day such parts of our morning and
evening service whose celebration becomes a laic, and reading portions
from the writings of those eminent divines who, from the Restoration
to the conclusion of the last reign, have so eminently distinguished
the communion of our national Church.

Each Sunday, after the performance of divine service, the Rev. Dr.
Masham dined with the family, and he was the only guest at Cherbury
Venetia ever remembered seeing. The Doctor was a regular orthodox
divine of the eighteenth century; with a large cauliflower wig,
shovel-hat, and huge knee-buckles, barely covered by his top-boots;
learned, jovial, humorous, and somewhat courtly; truly pious, but not
enthusiastic; not forgetful of his tithes, but generous and charitable
when they were once paid; never neglecting the sick, yet occasionally
following a fox; a fine scholar, an active magistrate, and a good
shot; dreading the Pope, and hating the Presbyterians.

The Doctor was attached to the Herbert family not merely because they
had given him a good living. He had a great reverence for an old
English race, and turned up his nose at the Walpolian loanmongers.
Lady Annabel, too, so beautiful, so dignified, so amiable, and highly
bred, and, above all, so pious, had won his regard. He was not a
little proud, too, that he was the only person in the county who had
the honour of her acquaintance, and yet was disinterested enough to
regret that he led so secluded a life, and often lamented that nothing
would induce her to show her elegant person on a racecourse, or to
attend an assize ball, an assembly which was then becoming much the
fashion. The little Venetia was a charming child, and the kind-hearted
Doctor, though a bachelor, loved children.

  O! matre pulchrâ, filia pulchrior,

was the Rev. Dr. Masham's apposite and favourite quotation after his
weekly visit to Cherbury.

Divine service was concluded; the Doctor had preached a capital
sermon; for he had been one of the shining lights of his university
until his rich but isolating preferment had apparently closed the
great career which it was once supposed awaited him. The accustomed
walk on the terrace was completed, and dinner was announced. This meal
was always celebrated at Cherbury, where new fashions stole down with
a lingering pace, in the great hall itself. An ample table was placed
in the centre on a mat of rushes, sheltered by a large screen covered
with huge maps of the shire and the neighbouring counties. The Lady
Annabel and her good pastor seated themselves at each end of the
table, while Venetia, mounted on a high chair, was waited on by
Mistress Pauncefort, who never condescended by any chance attention to
notice the presence of any other individual but her little charge, on
whose chair she just leaned with an air of condescending devotion.
The butler stood behind his lady, and two other servants watched the
Doctor; rural bodies all, but decked on this day in gorgeous livery
coats of blue and silver, which had been made originally for men of
very different size and bearing. Simple as was the usual diet at
Cherbury the cook was permitted on Sunday full play to her art, which,
in the eighteenth century, indulged in the production of dishes more
numerous and substantial than our refined tastes could at present
tolerate. The Doctor appreciated a good dinner, and his countenance
glistened with approbation as he surveyed the ample tureen of potage
royal, with a boned duck swimming in its centre. Before him still
scowled in death the grim countenance of a huge roast pike, flanked
on one side by a leg of mutton _à-la-daube_, and on the other by
the tempting delicacies of bombarded veal. To these succeeded that
masterpiece of the culinary art, a grand battalia pie, in which the
bodies of chickens, pigeons, and rabbits were embalmed in spices,
cocks' combs, and savoury balls, and well bedewed with one of those
rich sauces of claret, anchovy, and sweet herbs, in which our
great-grandfathers delighted, and which was technically termed a Lear.
But the grand essay of skill was the cover of this pasty, whereon the
curious cook had contrived to represent all the once-living forms that
were now entombed in that gorgeous sepulchre. A Florentine tourte, or
tansy, an old English custard, a more refined blamango, and a riband
jelly of many colours, offered a pleasant relief after these vaster
inventions, and the repast closed with a dish of oyster loaves and a
pompetone of larks.

Notwithstanding the abstemiousness of his hostess, the Doctor was
never deterred from doing justice to her hospitality. Few were the
dishes that ever escaped him. The demon dyspepsia had not waved its
fell wings over the eighteenth century, and wonderful were the feats
then achieved by a country gentleman with the united aid of a good
digestion and a good conscience.

The servants had retired, and Dr. Masham had taken his last glass
of port, and then he rang a bell on the table, and, I trust my fair
readers will not be frightened from proceeding with this history, a
servant brought him his pipe. The pipe was well stuffed, duly lighted,
and duly puffed; and then, taking it from his mouth, the Doctor spoke.

'And so, my honoured lady, you have got a neighbour at last.'

'Indeed!' exclaimed Lady Annabel.

But the claims of the pipe prevented the good Doctor from too quickly
satisfying her natural curiosity. Another puff or two, and he then
continued.

'Yes,' said he, 'the old abbey has at last found a tenant.'

'A tenant, Doctor?'

'Ay! the best tenant in the world: its proprietor.'

'You quite surprise me. When did this occur?'

'They have been there these three days; I have paid them a visit. Mrs.
Cadurcis has come to live at the abbey with the little lord.'

'This is indeed news to us,' said Lady Annabel; 'and what kind of
people are they?'

'You know, my dear madam,' said the Doctor, just touching the ash of
his pipe with his tobacco-stopper of chased silver, 'that the present
lord is a very distant relative of the late one?'

Lady Annabel bowed assent.

'The late lord,' continued the Doctor, 'who was as strange and
wrong-headed a man as ever breathed, though I trust he is in the
kingdom of heaven for all that, left all his property to his unlawful
children, with the exception of this estate entailed on the title, as
all estates should be, 'Tis a fine place, but no great rental. I doubt
whether 'tis more than a clear twelve hundred a-year.'

'And Mrs. Cadurcis?' inquired Lady Annabel.

'Was an heiress,' replied the Doctor, 'and the late Mr. Cadurcis a
spendrift. He was a bad manager, and, worse, a bad husband. Providence
was pleased to summon him suddenly from this mortal scene, but not
before he had dissipated the greater part of his wife's means. Mrs.
Cadurcis, since she was a widow, has lived in strict seclusion with
her little boy, as you may, my dear lady, with your dear little girl.
But I am afraid,' said the Doctor, shaking his head, 'she has not
been in the habit of dining so well as we have to-day. A very
limited income, my dear madam; a very limited income indeed. And
the guardians, I am told, will only allow the little lord a hundred
a-year; but, on her own income, whatever it may be, and that addition,
she has resolved to live at the abbey; and I believe, I believe she
has it rent-free; but I don't know.'

'Poor woman!' said Lady Annabel, and not without a sigh. 'I trust her
child is her consolation.'

Venetia had not spoken during this conversation, but she had listened
to it very attentively. At length she said, 'Mamma, is not a widow a
wife that has lost her husband?'

'You are right, my dear,' said Lady Annabel, rather gravely.

Venetia mused a moment, and then replied, 'Pray, mamma, are you a
widow?'

'My dear little girl,' said Dr. Masham, 'go and give that beautiful
peacock a pretty piece of cake.'

Lady Annabel and the Doctor rose from the table with Venetia, and took
a turn in the park, while the Doctor's horses were getting ready.

'I think, my good lady,' said the Doctor, 'it would be but an act of
Christian charity to call upon Mrs. Cadurcis.'

'I was thinking the same,' said Lady Annabel; 'I am interested by what
you have told me of her history and fortunes. We have some woes in
common; I hope some joys. It seems that this case should indeed be an
exception to my rule.'

'I would not ask you to sacrifice your inclinations to the mere
pleasures of the world,' said the Doctor: 'but duties, my dear lady,
duties; there are such things as duties to our neighbour; and here is
a case where, believe me, they might be fulfilled.'

The Doctor's horses now appeared. Both master and groom wore their
pistols in their holsters. The Doctor shook hands warmly with Lady
Annabel, and patted Venetia on her head, as she ran up from a little
distance, with an eager countenance, to receive her accustomed
blessing. Then mounting his stout mare, he once more waived his hand
with an air of courtliness to his hostess, and was soon out of sight.
Lady Annabel and Venetia returned to the terrace-room.



CHAPTER V.


'And so I would, my lady,' said Mistress Pauncefort, when Lady Annabel
communicated to her faithful attendant, at night, the news of the
arrival of the Cadurcis family at the abbey, and her intention of
paying Mrs. Cadurcis a visit; 'and so I would, my lady,' said Mistress
Pauncefort, 'and it would be but an act of Christian charity after
all, as the Doctor says; for although it is not for me to complain
when my betters are satisfied, and after all I am always content, if
your ladyship be; still there is no denying the fact, that this is
a terrible lonesome life after all. And I cannot help thinking your
ladyship has not been looking so well of late, and a little society
would do your ladyship good; and Miss Venetia too, after all, she
wants a playfellow; I am certain sure that I was as tired of playing
at ball with her this morning as if I had never sat down in my born
days; and I dare say the little lord will play with her all day long.'

'If I thought that this visit would lead to what is understood by the
word society, my good Pauncefort, I certainly should refrain from
paying it,' said Lady Annabel, very quietly.

'Oh! Lord, dear my lady, I was not for a moment dreaming of any such
thing,' replied Mistress Pauncefort; 'society, I know as well as any
one, means grand balls, Ranelagh, and the masquerades. I can't abide
the thought of them, I do assure your ladyship; all I meant was that a
quiet dinner now and then with a few friends, a dance perhaps in the
evening, or a hand of whist, or a game of romps at Christmas, when the
abbey will of course be quite full, a--'

'I believe there is as little chance of the abbey being full at
Christmas, or any other time, as there is of Cherbury.' said Lady
Annabel. 'Mrs. Cadurcis is a widow, with a very slender fortune. Her
son will not enjoy his estate until he is of age, and its rental is
small. I am led to believe that they will live quite as quietly as
ourselves; and when I spoke of Christian charity, I was thinking only
of kindness towards them, and not of amusement for ourselves.'

'Well, my lady, your la'ship knows best,' replied Mistress Pauncefort,
evidently very disappointed; for she had indulged in momentary visions
of noble visitors and noble valets; 'I am always content, you know,
when your la'ship is; but, I must say, I think it is very odd for a
lord to be so poor. I never heard of such a thing. I think they will
turn out richer than you have an idea, my lady. Your la'ship knows
'tis quite a saying, "As rich as a lord."'

Lady Annabel smiled, but did not reply.

The next morning the fawn-coloured chariot, which had rarely been used
since Lady Annabel's arrival at Cherbury, and four black long-tailed
coach-horses, that from absolute necessity had been degraded, in
the interval, to the service of the cart and the plough, made their
appearance, after much bustle and effort, before the hall-door.
Although a morning's stroll from Cherbury through the woods, Cadurcis
was distant nearly ten miles by the road, and that road was in great
part impassable, save in favourable seasons. This visit, therefore,
was an expedition; and Lady Annabel, fearing the fatigue for a child,
determined to leave Venetia at home, from whom she had actually never
been separated one hour in her life. Venetia could not refrain from
shedding a tear when her mother embraced and quitted her, and begged,
as a last favour, that she might accompany her through the park to
the avenue lodge. So Pauncefort and herself entered the chariot, that
rocked like a ship, in spite of all the skill of the coachman and the
postilion.

Venetia walked home with Mistress Pauncefort, but Lady Annabel's
little daughter was not in her usual lively spirits; many a butterfly
glanced around without attracting her pursuit, and the deer trooped
by without eliciting a single observation. At length she said, in a
thoughtful tone, 'Mistress Pauncefort, I should have liked to have
gone and seen the little boy.'

'You shall go and see him another day, Miss,' replied her attendant.

'Mistress Pauncefort,' said Venetia, 'are you a widow?'

Mistress Pauncefort almost started; had the inquiry been made by a
man, she would almost have supposed he was going to be very rude. She
was indeed much surprised.

'And pray, Miss Venetia, what could put it in your head to ask such an
odd question?' exclaimed Mistress Pauncefort. 'A widow! Miss Venetia;
I have never yet changed my name, and I shall not in a hurry, that I
can tell you.'

'Do widows change their names?' said Venetia.

'All women change their names when they marry,' responded Mistress
Pauncefort.

'Is mamma married?' inquired Venetia.

'La! Miss Venetia. Well, to be sure, you do ask the strangest
questions. Married! to be sure she is married,' said Mistress
Pauncefort, exceedingly flustered.

'And whom is she married to?' pursued the unwearied Venetia.

'Your papa, to be sure,' said Mistress Pauncefort, blushing up to her
eyes, and looking very confused; 'that is to say, Miss Venetia, you
are never to ask questions about such subjects. Have not I often told
you it is not pretty?'

'Why is it not pretty?' said Venetia.

'Because it is not proper,' said Mistress Pauncefort; 'because your
mamma does not like you to ask such questions, and she will be very
angry with me for answering them, I can tell you that.'

'I tell you what, Mistress Pauncefort,' said Venetia, 'I think mamma
is a widow.'

'And what then, Miss Venetia? There is no shame in that.'

'Shame!' exclaimed Venetia. 'What is shame?'

'Look, there is a pretty butterfly!' exclaimed Mistress Pauncefort.
'Did you ever see such a pretty butterfly, Miss?'

'I do not care about butterflies to-day, Mistress Pauncefort; I like
to talk about widows.'

'Was there ever such a child!' exclaimed Mistress Pauncefort, with a
wondering glance.

'I must have had a papa,' said Venetia; 'all the ladies I read about
had papas, and married husbands. Then whom did my mamma marry?'

'Lord! Miss Venetia, you know very well your mamma always tells
you that all those books you read are a pack of stories,' observed
Mistress Pauncefort, with an air of triumphant art.

'There never were such persons, perhaps,' said Venetia, 'but it is not
true that there never were such things as papas and husbands, for all
people have papas; you must have had a papa, Mistress Pauncefort?'

'To be sure I had,' said Mistress Pauncefort, bridling up.

'And a mamma too?' said Venetia.

'As honest a woman as ever lived,' said Mistress Pauncefort.

'Then if I have no papa, mamma must be a wife that has lost her
husband, and that, mamma told me at dinner yesterday, was a widow.'

'Was the like ever seen!' exclaimed Mistress Pauncefort. 'And what
then, Miss Venetia?'

'It seems to me so odd that only two people should live here, and both
be widows,' said Venetia, 'and both have a little child; the only
difference is, that one is a little boy, and I am a little girl.'

'When ladies lose their husbands, they do not like to have their names
mentioned,' said Mistress Pauncefort; 'and so you must never talk of
your papa to my lady, and that is the truth.'

'I will not now,' said Venetia.

When they returned home, Mistress Pauncefort brought her work, and
seated herself on the terrace, that she might not lose sight of her
charge. Venetia played about for some little time; she made a castle
behind a tree, and fancied she was a knight, and then a lady, and
conjured up an ogre in the neighbouring shrubbery; but these daydreams
did not amuse her as much as usual. She went and fetched her book, but
even 'The Seven Champions' could not interest her. Her eye was fixed
upon the page, and apparently she was absorbed in her pursuit, but
her mind wandered, and the page was never turned. She indulged in an
unconscious reverie; her fancy was with her mother on her visit; the
old abbey rose up before her: she painted the scene without an effort:
the court, with the fountain; the grand room, with the tapestry
hangings; that desolate garden, with the fallen statues; and that
long, gloomy gallery. And in all these scenes appeared that little
boy, who, somehow or other, seemed wonderfully blended with her
imaginings. It was a very long day this; Venetia dined along with
Mistress Pauncefort; the time hung very heavy; at length she fell
asleep in Mistress Pauncefort's lap. A sound roused her: the carriage
had returned; she ran to greet her mother, but there was no news; Mrs.
Cadurcis had been absent; she had gone to a distant town to buy some
furniture; and, after all, Lady Annabel had not seen the little boy.



CHAPTER VI.


A few days after the visit to Cadurcis, when Lady Annabel was sitting
alone, a postchaise drove up to the hall, whence issued a short and
stout woman with a rubicund countenance, and dressed in a style which
remarkably blended the shabby with the tawdry. She was accompanied
by a boy between eleven and twelve years of age, whose appearance,
however, much contrasted with that of his mother, for he was pale and
slender, with long curling black hair and large black eyes, which
occasionally, by their transient flashes, agreeably relieved a face
the general expression of which might be esteemed somewhat shy and
sullen. The lady, of course, was Mrs. Cadurcis, who was received by
Lady Annabel with the greatest courtesy.

'A terrible journey,' exclaimed Mrs. Cadurcis, fanning herself as she
took her seat, 'and so very hot! Plantagenet, my love, make your
bow! Have not I always told you to make a bow when you enter a room,
especially where there are strangers? This is Lady Annabel Herbert,
who was so kind as to call upon us. Make your bow to Lady Annabel.'

The boy gave a sort of sulky nod, but Lady Annabel received it so
graciously and expressed herself so kindly to him that his features
relaxed a little, though he was quite silent and sat on the edge of
his chair, the picture of dogged indifference.

'Charming country, Lady Annabel,' said Mrs. Cadurcis, 'but worse
roads, if possible, than we had in Northumberland, where, indeed,
there were no roads at all. Cherbury a delightful place, very unlike
the abbey; dreadfully lonesome I assure you I find it, Lady Annabel.
Great change for us from a little town and all our kind neighbours.
Very different from Morpeth; is it not, Plantagenet?'

'I hate Morpeth,' said the boy.

'Hate Morpeth!' exclaimed Mrs. Cadurcis; 'well, I am sure, that
is very ungrateful, with so many kind friends as we always found.
Besides, Plantagenet, have I not always told you that you are to hate
nothing? It is very wicked. The trouble it costs me, Lady Annabel, to
educate this dear child!' continued Mrs. Cadurcis, turning to Lady
Annabel, and speaking in a semi-tone. 'I have done it all myself, I
assure you; and, when he likes, he can be as good as any one. Can't
you, Plantagenet?'

Lord Cadurcis gave a grim smile; seated himself at the very back of
the deep chair and swung his feet, which no longer reached the ground,
to and fro.

'I am sure that Lord Cadurcis always behaves well,' said Lady Annabel.

'There, Plantagenet,' exclaimed Mrs. Cadurcis, 'only listen to that.
Hear what Lady Annabel Herbert says; she is sure you always behave
well. Now mind, never give her ladyship cause to change her opinion.'

Plantagenet curled his lip, and half turned his back on his
companions.

'I regretted so much that I was not at home when you did me the honour
to call,' resumed Mrs. Cadurcis; 'but I had gone over for the day to
Southport, buying furniture. What a business it is to buy furniture,
Lady Annabel!' added Mrs. Cadurcis, with a piteous expression.

'It is indeed very troublesome,' said Lady Annabel.

'Ah! you have none of these cares,' continued Mrs. Cadurcis, surveying
the pretty apartment. 'What a difference between Cherbury and the
abbey! I suppose you have never been there?'

'Indeed, it is one of my favourite walks,' answered Lady Annabel;
'and, some two years ago, I even took the liberty of walking through
the house.'

'Was there ever such a place!' exclaimed Mrs. Cadurcis. 'I assure you
my poor head turns whenever I try to find my way about it. But the
trustees offered it us, and I thought it my duty to my son to reside
there. Besides, it was a great offer to a widow; if poor Mr. Cadurcis
had been alive it would have been different. I hardly know what
I shall do there, particularly in winter. My spirits are always
dreadfully low. I only hope Plantagenet will behave well. If he goes
into his tantarums at the abbey, and particularly in winter, I hardly
know what will become of me!'

'I am sure Lord Cadurcis will do everything to make the abbey
comfortable to you. Besides, it is but a short walk from Cherbury, and
you must come often and see us.'

'Oh! Plantagenet can be good if he likes, I can assure you,
Lady Annabel; and behaves as properly as any little boy I know.
Plantagenet, my dear, speak. Have not I always told you, when you pay
a visit, that you should open your mouth now and then. I don't like
chattering children,' added Mrs. Cadurcis, 'but I like them to answer
when they are spoken to.'

'Nobody has spoken to me,' said Lord Cadurcis, in a sullen tone.

'Plantagenet, my love!' said his mother in a solemn voice.

'Well, mother, what do you want?'

'Plantagenet, my love, you know you promised me to be good!'

'Well! what have I done?'

'Lord Cadurcis,' said Lady Annabel, interfering, 'do you like to look
at pictures?'

'Thank you,' replied the little lord, in a more courteous tone; 'I
like to be left alone.'

'Did you ever know such an odd child!' said Mrs. Cadurcis; 'and yet,
Lady Annabel, you must not judge him by what you see. I do assure you
he can behave, when he likes, as pretty as possible.'

'Pretty!' muttered the little lord between his teeth.

'If you had only seen him at Morpeth sometimes at a little tea party,'
said Mrs. Cadurcis, 'he really was quite the ornament of the company.'

'No, I wasn't,' said Lord Cadurcis.

'Plantagenet!' said his mother again in a solemn tone, 'have I not
always told you that you are never to contradict any one?'

The little lord indulged in a suppressed growl.

'There was a little play last Christmas,' continued Mrs. Cadurcis,
'and he acted quite delightfully. Now you would not think that, from
the way he sits upon that chair. Plantagenet, my dear, I do insist
upon your behaving yourself. Sit like a man.'

'I am not a man,' said Lord Cadurcis, very quietly; 'I wish I were.'

'Plantagenet!' said the mother, 'have not I always told you that you
are never to answer me? It is not proper for children to answer! O
Lady Annabel, if you knew what it cost me to educate my son. He never
does anything I wish, and it is so provoking, because I know that he
can behave as properly as possible if he likes. He does it to provoke
me. You know you do it to provoke me, you little brat; now, sit
properly, sir; I do desire you to sit properly. How vexatious that you
should call at Cherbury for the first time, and behave in this manner!
Plantagenet, do you hear me?' exclaimed Mrs. Cadurcis, with a face
reddening to scarlet, and almost menacing a move from her seat.

'Yes, everybody hears you, Mrs. Cadurcis,' said the little lord.

'Don't call me Mrs. Cadurcis,' exclaimed the mother, in a dreadful
rage. 'That is not the way to speak to your mother; I will not be
called Mrs. Cadurcis by you. Don't answer me, sir; I desire you not
to answer me. I have half a mind to get up and give you a good shake,
that I have. O Lady Annabel,' sighed Mrs. Cadurcis, while a tear
trickled down her cheek, 'if you only knew the life I lead, and what
trouble it costs me to educate that child!'

'My dear madam,' said Lady Annabel, 'I am sure that Lord Cadurcis has
no other wish but to please you. Indeed you have misunderstood him.'

'Yes! she always misunderstands me,' said Lord Cadurcis, in a softer
tone, but with pouting lips and suffused eyes.

'Now he is going on,' said his mother, beginning herself to cry
dreadfully. 'He knows my weak heart; he knows nobody in the world
loves him like his mother; and this is the way he treats me.'

'My dear Mrs. Cadurcis,' said Lady Annabel, 'pray take luncheon after
your long drive; and Lord Cadurcis, I am sure you must be fatigued.'

'Thank you, I never eat, my dear lady,' said Mrs. Cadurcis, 'except at
my meals. But one glass of Mountain, if you please, I would just take
the liberty of tasting, for the weather is so dreadfully hot, and
Plantagenet has so aggravated me, I really do not feel myself.'

Lady Annabel sounded her silver hand-bell, and the butler brought some
cakes and the Mountain. Mrs. Cadurcis revived by virtue of her single
glass, and the providential co-operation of a subsequent one or two.
Even the cakes and the Mountain, however, would not tempt her son to
open his mouth; and this, in spite of her returning composure, drove
her to desperation. A conviction that the Mountain and the cakes were
delicious, an amiable desire that the palate of her spoiled child
should be gratified, some reasonable maternal anxiety that after so
long and fatiguing a drive he in fact needed some refreshment, and
the agonising consciousness that all her own physical pleasure at the
moment was destroyed by the mental sufferings she endured at having
quarrelled with her son, and that he was depriving himself of what was
so agreeable only to pique her, quite overwhelmed the ill-regulated
mind of this fond mother. Between each sip and each mouthful, she
appealed to him to follow her example, now with cajolery, now with
menace, till at length, worked up by the united stimulus of the
Mountain and her own ungovernable rage, she dashed down the glass and
unfinished slice of cake, and, before the astonished Lady Annabel,
rushed forward to give him what she had long threatened, and what she
in general ultimately had recourse to, a good shake.

Her agile son, experienced in these storms, escaped in time, and
pushed his chair before his infuriated mother; Mrs. Cadurcis, however,
rallied, and chased him round the room; once more she flattered
herself she had captured him, once more he evaded her; in her despair
she took up Venetia's 'Seven Champions,' and threw the volume at his
head; he laughed a fiendish laugh, as, ducking his head, the book flew
on, and dashed through a pane of glass; Mrs. Cadurcis made a desperate
charge, and her son, a little frightened at her almost maniacal
passion, saved himself by suddenly seizing Lady Annabel's work-table,
and whirling it before her; Mrs. Cadurcis fell over the leg of the
table, and went into hysterics; while the bloodhound, who had long
started from his repose, looked at his mistress for instructions, and
in the meantime continued barking. The astonished and agitated Lady
Annabel assisted Mrs. Cadurcis to rise, and led her to a couch. Lord
Cadurcis, pale and dogged, stood in a corner, and after all this
uproar there was a comparative calm, only broken by the sobs of the
mother, each instant growing fainter and fainter.

At this moment the door opened, and Mistress Pauncefort ushered in the
little Venetia. She really looked like an angel of peace sent from
heaven on a mission of concord, with her long golden hair, her bright
face, and smile of ineffable loveliness.

'Mamma!' said Venetia, in the sweetest tone.

'Hush! darling,' said Lady Annabel, 'this lady is not very well.'

Mrs. Cadurcis opened her eyes and sighed. She beheld Venetia, and
stared at her with a feeling of wonder. 'O Lady Annabel,' she faintly
exclaimed, 'what must you think of me? But was there ever such an
unfortunate mother? and I have not a thought in the world but for that
boy. I have devoted my life to him, and never would have buried myself
in this abbey but for his sake. And this is the way he treats me,
and his father before him treated me even worse. Am I not the most
unfortunate woman you ever knew?'

'My dear madam,' said the kind Lady Annabel, in a soothing tone, 'you
will be very happy yet; all will be quite right and quite happy.'

'Is this angel your child?' inquired Mrs. Cadurcis, in a low voice.

'This is my little girl, Venetia. Come hither, Venetia, and speak to
Mrs. Cadurcis.'

'How do you do, Mrs. Cadurcis?' said Venetia. 'I am so glad you have
come to live at the abbey.'

'The angel!' exclaimed Mrs. Cadurcis. 'The sweet seraph! Oh! why did
not my Plantagenet speak to you, Lady Annabel, in the same tone?
And he can, if he likes; he can, indeed. It was his silence that so
mortified me; it was his silence that led to all. I am so proud of
him! and then he comes here, and never speaks a word. O Plantagenet, I
am sure you will break my heart.'

Venetia went up to the little lord in the corner, and gently stroked
his dark cheek. 'Are you the little boy?' she said.

Cadurcis looked at her; at first the glance was rather fierce, but
it instantly relaxed. 'What is your name?' he said in a low, but not
unkind, tone.

'Venetia!'

'I like you, Venetia,' said the boy. 'Do you live here?'

'Yes, with my mamma.'

'I like your mamma, too; but not so much as you. I like your gold
hair.'

'Oh, how funny! to like my gold hair!'

'If you had come in sooner,' said Cadurcis, 'we should not have had
this row.'

'What is a row, little boy?' said Venetia.

'Do not call me little boy,' he said, but not in an unkind tone; 'call
me by my name.'

'What is your name?'

'Lord Cadurcis; but you may call me by my Christian name, because I
like you.'

'What is your Christian name?'

'Plantagenet.'

'Plantagenet! What a long name!' said Venetia. 'Tell me then,
Plantagenet, what is a row?'

'What often takes place between me and my mother, but which I am sorry
now has happened here, for I like this place, and should like to come
often. A row is a quarrel.'

'A quarrel! What! do you quarrel with your mamma?'

'Often.'

'Why, then, you are not a good boy.'

'Ah! my mamma is not like yours,' said the little lord, with a sigh.
'It is not my fault. But now I want to make it up; how shall I do it?'

'Go and give her a kiss.'

'Poh! that is not the way.'

'Shall I go and ask my mamma what is best to do?' said Venetia;
and she stole away on tiptoe, and whispered to Lady Annabel that
Plantagenet wanted her. Her mother came forward and invited Lord
Cadurcis to walk on the terrace with her, leaving Venetia to amuse her
other guest.

Lady Annabel, though kind, was frank and firm in her unexpected
confidential interview with her new friend. She placed before him
clearly the enormity of his conduct, which no provocation could
justify; it was a violation of divine law, as well as human propriety.
She found the little lord attentive, tractable, and repentant,
and, what might not have been expected, exceedingly ingenious
and intelligent. His observations, indeed, were distinguished by
remarkable acuteness; and though he could not, and indeed did not even
attempt to vindicate his conduct, he incidentally introduced much
that might be urged in its extenuation. There was indeed in this,
his milder moment, something very winning in his demeanour, and Lady
Annabel deeply regretted that a nature of so much promise and capacity
should, by the injudicious treatment of a parent, at once fond and
violent, afford such slight hopes of future happiness. It was arranged
between Lord Cadurcis and Lady Annabel that she should lead him to his
mother, and that he should lament the past, and ask her forgiveness;
so they re-entered the room. Venetia was listening to a long story
from Mrs. Cadurcis, who appeared to have entirely recovered herself;
but her countenance assumed a befitting expression of grief and
gravity when she observed her son.

'My dear madam,' said Lady Annabel, 'your son is unhappy that he
should have offended you, and he has asked my kind offices to effect a
perfect reconciliation between a child who wishes to be dutiful to a
parent who, he feels, has always been so affectionate.'

Mrs. Cadurcis began crying.

'Mother,' said her son, 'I am sorry for what has occurred; mine was
the fault. I shall not be happy till you pardon me.'

'No, yours was not the fault,' said poor Mrs. Cadurcis, crying
bitterly. 'Oh! no, it was not! I was in fault, only I. There, Lady
Annabel, did I not tell you he was the sweetest, dearest, most
generous-hearted creature that ever lived? Oh! if he would only always
speak so, I am sure I should be the happiest woman that ever breathed!
He puts me in mind quite of his poor dear father, who was an
angel upon earth; he was indeed, when he was not vexed. O my
dear Plantagenet! my only hope and joy! you are the treasure and
consolation of my life, and always will be. God bless you, my darling
child! You shall have that pony you wanted; I am sure I can manage it:
I did not think I could.'

As Lady Annabel thought it was as well that the mother and the son
should not be immediately thrown together after this storm, she kindly
proposed that they should remain, and pass the day at Cherbury; and,
as Plantagenet's eyes brightened at the proposal, it did not require
much trouble to persuade his mother to accede to it. The day, that had
commenced so inauspiciously, turned out one of the most agreeable,
both to Mrs. Cadurcis and her child. The two mothers conversed
together, and, as Mrs. Cadurcis was a great workwoman, there was
at least one bond of sympathy between her and the tapestry of her
hostess. Then they all took a stroll in the park; and as Mrs. Cadurcis
was not able to walk for any length of time, the children were
permitted to stroll about together, attended by Mistress Pauncefort,
while Mrs. Cadurcis, chatting without ceasing, detailed to Lady
Annabel all the history of her life, all the details of her various
complaints and her economical arrangements, and all the secrets of her
husband's treatment of her, that favourite subject on which she ever
waxed most eloquent. Plantagenet, equally indulging in confidence,
which with him, however, was unusual, poured all his soul into the
charmed ear of Venetia. He told her how he and his mother had lived at
Morpeth, and how he hated it; how poor they had been, and how rich he
should be; how he loved the abbey, and especially the old gallery, and
the drums and armour; how he had been a day-scholar at a little school
which he abhorred, and how he was to go some day to Eton, of which he
was very proud.

At length they were obliged to return, and when dinner was over the
postchaise was announced. Mrs. Cadurcis parted from Lady Annabel with
all the warm expressions of a heart naturally kind and generous; and
Plantagenet embraced Venetia, and promised that the next day he would
find his way alone from Cadurcis, through the wood, and come and take
another walk with her.



CHAPTER VII.


This settlement of Mrs. Cadurcis and her son in the neighbourhood
was an event of no slight importance in the life of the family at
Cherbury. Venetia at length found a companion of her own age, itself
an incident which, in its influence upon her character and pursuits,
was not to be disregarded. There grew up between the little lord and
the daughter of Lady Annabel that fond intimacy which not rarely
occurs in childhood. Plantagenet and Venetia quickly imbibed for each
other a singular affection, not displeasing to Lady Annabel, who
observed, without dissatisfaction, the increased happiness of her
child, and encouraged by her kindness the frequent visits of the boy,
who soon learnt the shortest road from the abbey, and almost daily
scaled the hill, and traced his way through the woods to the hall.
There was much, indeed, in the character and the situation of Lord
Cadurcis which interested Lady Annabel Herbert. His mild, engaging,
and affectionate manners, when he was removed from the injudicious
influence of his mother, won upon her feelings; she felt for this
lone child, whom nature had gifted with so soft a heart and with a
thoughtful mind whose outbreaks not unfrequently attracted her notice;
with none to guide him, and with only one heart to look up to for
fondness; and that, too, one that had already contrived to forfeit the
respect even of so young a child.

Yet Lady Annabel was too sensible of the paramount claims of a
mother; herself, indeed, too jealous of any encroachment on the full
privileges of maternal love, to sanction in the slightest degree, by
her behaviour, any neglect of Mrs. Cadurcis by her son. For his sake,
therefore, she courted the society of her new neighbour; and although
Mrs. Cadurcis offered little to engage Lady Annabel's attention as
a companion, though she was violent in her temper, far from well
informed, and, from the society in which, in spite of her original
good birth, her later years had passed, very far from being
refined, she was not without her good qualities. She was generous,
kind-hearted, and grateful; not insensible of her own deficiencies,
and respectable from her misfortunes. Lady Annabel was one of those
who always judged individuals rather by their good qualities than
their bad. With the exception of her violent temper, which, under the
control of Lady Annabel's presence, and by the aid of all that kind
person's skilful management, Mrs. Cadurcis generally contrived to
bridle, her principal faults were those of manner, which, from the
force of habit, every day became less painful. Mrs. Cadurcis, who,
indeed, was only a child of a larger growth, became scarcely less
attached to the Herbert family than her son; she felt that her life,
under their influence, was happier and serener than of yore; that
there were less domestic broils than in old days; that her son was
more dutiful; and, as she could not help suspecting, though she found
it difficult to analyse the cause, herself more amiable. The truth
was, Lady Annabel always treated Mrs. Cadurcis with studied respect;
and the children, and especially Venetia, followed her example.
Mrs. Cadurcis' self-complacency was not only less shocked, but more
gratified, than before; and this was the secret of her happiness. For
no one was more mortified by her rages, when they were past, than Mrs.
Cadurcis herself; she felt they compromised her dignity, and had lost
her all moral command over a child whom she loved at the bottom of her
heart with a kind of wild passion, though she would menace and strike
him, and who often precipitated these paroxysms by denying his mother
that duty and affection which were, after all, the great charm and
pride of her existence.

As Mrs. Cadurcis was unable to walk to Cherbury, and as Plantagenet
soon fell into the habit of passing every morning at the hall, Lady
Annabel was frequent in her visits to the mother, and soon she
persuaded Mrs. Cadurcis to order the old postchaise regularly on
Saturday, and remain at Cherbury until the following Monday; by these
means both families united together in the chapel at divine service,
while the presence of Dr. Masham, at their now increased Sunday
dinner, was an incident in the monotonous life of Mrs. Cadurcis far
from displeasing to her. The Doctor gave her a little news of the
neighbourhood, and of the country in general; amused her with an
occasional anecdote of the Queen and the young Princesses, and always
lent her the last number of 'Sylvanus Urban.'

This weekly visit to Cherbury, the great personal attention which she
always received there, and the frequent morning walks of Lady Annabel
to the abbey, effectually repressed on the whole the jealousy which
was a characteristic of Mrs. Cadurcis' nature, and which the constant
absence of her son from her in the mornings might otherwise have
fatally developed. But Mrs. Cadurcis could not resist the conviction
that the Herberts were as much her friends as her child's; her
jealousy was balanced by her gratitude; she was daily, almost hourly,
sensible of some kindness of Lady Annabel, for there were a thousand
services in the power of the opulent and ample establishment of
Cherbury to afford the limited and desolate household at the abbey.
Living in seclusion, it is difficult to refrain from imbibing even a
strong regard for our almost solitary companion, however incompatible
may be our pursuits, and however our tastes may vary, especially when
that companion is grateful, and duly sensible of the condescension of
our intimacy. And so it happened that, before a year had elapsed, that
very Mrs. Cadurcis, whose first introduction at Cherbury had been so
unfavourable to her, and from whose temper and manners the elegant
demeanour and the disciplined mind of Lady Annabel Herbert might have
been excused for a moment recoiling, had succeeded in establishing a
strong hold upon the affections of her refined neighbour, who sought,
on every occasion, her society, and omitted few opportunities of
contributing to her comfort and welfare.

In the meantime her son was the companion of Venetia, both in her
pastimes and studies. The education of Lord Cadurcis had received no
further assistance than was afforded by the little grammar-school at
Morpeth, where he had passed three or four years as a day-scholar, and
where his mother had invariably taken his part on every occasion that
he had incurred the displeasure of his master. There he had obtained
some imperfect knowledge of Latin; yet the boy was fond of reading,
and had picked up, in an odd way, more knowledge than might have been
supposed. He had read 'Baker's Chronicle,' and 'The Old Universal
History,' and 'Plutarch;' and had turned over, in the book room of an
old gentleman at Morpeth, who had been attracted by his intelligence,
not a few curious old folios, from which he had gleaned no
contemptible store of curious instances of human nature. His guardian,
whom he had never seen, and who was a great nobleman and lived in
London, had signified to Mrs. Cadurcis his intention of sending his
ward to Eton; but that time had not yet arrived, and Mrs. Cadurcis,
who dreaded parting with her son, determined to postpone it by every
maternal artifice in her power. At present it would have seemed that
her son's intellect was to be left utterly uncultivated, for there
was no school in the neighbourhood which he could attend, and no
occasional assistance which could be obtained; and to the constant
presence of a tutor in the house Mrs. Cadurcis was not less opposed
than his lordship could have been himself.

It was by degrees that Lord Cadurcis became the partner of Venetia
in her studies. Lady Annabel had consulted Dr. Masham about the poor
little boy, whose neglected state she deplored; and the good Doctor
had offered to ride over to Cherbury at least once a week, besides
Sunday, provided Lady Annabel would undertake that his directions,
in his absence, should be attended to. This her ladyship promised
cheerfully; nor had she any difficulty in persuading Cadurcis to
consent to the arrangement. He listened with docility and patience to
her representation of the fatal effects, in his after-life, of his
neglected education; of the generous and advantageous offer of Dr.
Masham; and how cheerfully she would exert herself to assist his
endeavours, if Plantagenet would willingly submit to her supervision.
The little lord expressed to her his determination to do all that she
desired, and voluntarily promised her that she should never repent
her goodness. And he kept his word. So every morning, with the full
concurrence of Mrs. Cadurcis, whose advice and opinion on the affair
were most formally solicited by Lady Annabel, Plantagenet arrived
early at the hall, and took his writing and French lessons with
Venetia, and then they alternately read aloud to Lady Annabel from the
histories of Hooke and Echard. When Venetia repaired to her drawing,
Cadurcis sat down to his Latin exercise, and, in encouraging and
assisting him, Lady Annabel, a proficient in Italian, began herself
to learn the ancient language of the Romans. With such a charming
mistress even these Latin exercises were achieved. In vain Cadurcis,
after turning leaf over leaf, would look round with a piteous air to
his fair assistant, 'O Lady Annabel, I am sure the word is not in the
dictionary;' Lady Annabel was in a moment at his side, and, by some
magic of her fair fingers, the word would somehow or other make its
appearance. After a little exposure of this kind, Plantagenet would
labour with double energy, until, heaving a deep sigh of exhaustion
and vexation, he would burst forth, 'O Lady Annabel, indeed there is
not a nominative case in this sentence.' And then Lady Annabel
would quit her easel, with her pencil in her hand, and give all her
intellect to the puzzling construction; at length, she would say,
'I think, Plantagenet, this must be our nominative case;' and so it
always was.

Thus, when Wednesday came, the longest and most laborious morning of
all Lord Cadurcis' studies, and when he neither wrote, nor read, nor
learnt French with Venetia, but gave up all his soul to Dr. Masham, he
usually acquitted himself to that good person's satisfaction, who left
him, in general, with commendations that were not lost on the pupil,
and plenty of fresh exercises to occupy him and Lady Annabel until the
next week. When a year had thus passed away, the happiest year yet
in Lord Cadurcis' life, in spite of all his disadvantages, he had
contrived to make no inconsiderable progress. Almost deprived of a
tutor, he had advanced in classical acquirement more than during the
whole of his preceding years of scholarship, while his handwriting
began to become intelligible, he could read French with comparative
facility, and had turned over many a volume in the well-stored library
at Cherbury.



CHAPTER VIII.


When the hours of study were past, the children, with that zest for
play which occupation can alone secure, would go forth together, and
wander in the park. Here they had made a little world for themselves,
of which no one dreamed; for Venetia had poured forth all her Arcadian
lore into the ear of Plantagenet; and they acted together many of
the adventures of the romance, under the fond names of Musidorus and
Philoclea. Cherbury was Arcadia, and Cadurcis Macedon; while the
intervening woods figured as the forests of Thessaly, and the breezy
downs were the heights of Pindus. Unwearied was the innocent sport
of their virgin imaginations; and it was a great treat if Venetia,
attended by Mistress Pauncefort, were permitted to accompany
Plantagenet some way on his return. Then they parted with an embrace
in the woods of Thessaly, and Musidorus strolled home with a heavy
heart to his Macedonian realm.

Parted from Venetia, the magic suddenly seemed to cease, and Musidorus
was instantly transformed into the little Lord Cadurcis, exhausted by
the unconscious efforts of his fancy, depressed by the separation from
his sweet companion, and shrinking from the unpoetical reception which
at the best awaited him in his ungenial home. Often, when thus alone,
would he loiter on his way and seat himself on the ridge, and watch
the setting sun, as its dying glory illumined the turrets of his
ancient house, and burnished the waters of the lake, until the tears
stole down his cheek; and yet he knew not why. No thoughts of sorrow
had flitted through his mind, nor indeed had ideas of any description
occurred to him. It was a trance of unmeaning abstraction; all that he
felt was a mystical pleasure in watching the sunset, and a conviction
that, if he were not with Venetia, that which he loved next best, was
to be alone.

The little Cadurcis in general returned home moody and silent, and
his mother too often, irritated by his demeanour, indulged in all the
expressions of a quick and offended temper; but since his intimacy
with the Herberts, Plantagenet had learnt to control his emotions,
and often successfully laboured to prevent those scenes of domestic
recrimination once so painfully frequent. There often, too, was a note
from Lady Annabel to Mrs. Cadurcis, or some other slight memorial,
borne by her son, which enlisted all the kind feelings of that lady in
favour of her Cherbury friends, and then the evening was sure to pass
over in peace; and, when Plantagenet was not thus armed, he exerted
himself to be cordial; and so, on the whole, with some skill in
management, and some trials of temper, the mother and child contrived
to live together with far greater comfort than they had of old.

Bedtime was always a great relief to Plantagenet, for it secured
him solitude. He would lie awake for hours, indulging in sweet and
unconscious reveries, and brooding over the future morn, that always
brought happiness. All that he used to sigh for, was to be Lady
Annabel's son; were he Venetia's brother, then he was sure he never
should be for a moment unhappy; that parting from Cherbury, and the
gloomy evenings at Cadurcis, would then be avoided. In such a mood,
and lying awake upon his pillow, he sought refuge from the painful
reality that surrounded him in the creative solace of his imagination.
Alone, in his little bed, Cadurcis was Venetia's brother, and he
conjured up a thousand scenes in which they were never separated, and
wherein he always played an amiable and graceful part. Yet he loved
the abbey; his painful infancy was not associated with that scene; it
was not connected with any of those grovelling common-places of his
life, from which he had shrunk back with instinctive disgust, even
at a very tender age. Cadurcis was the spot to which, in his most
miserable moments at Morpeth, he had always looked forward, as the
only chance of emancipation from the distressing scene that surrounded
him. He had been brought up with a due sense of his future position,
and although he had ever affected a haughty indifference on the
subject, from his disrelish for the coarse acquaintances who were
perpetually reminding him, with chuckling self-complacency, of his
future greatness, in secret he had ever brooded over his destiny as
his only consolation. He had imbibed from his own reflections, at a
very early period of life, a due sense of the importance of his lot;
he was proud of his hereditary honours, blended, as they were, with
some glorious passages in the history of his country, and prouder of
his still more ancient line. The eccentric exploits and the violent
passions, by which his race had been ever characterised, were to him a
source of secret exultation. Even the late lord, who certainly had
no claims to his gratitude, for he had robbed the inheritance to the
utmost of his power, commanded, from the wild decision of his life,
the savage respect of his successor. In vain Mrs. Cadurcis would
pour forth upon this, the favourite theme for her wrath and her
lamentations, all the bitter expressions of her rage and woe.
Plantagenet had never imbibed her prejudices against the departed, and
had often irritated his mother by maintaining that the late lord was
perfectly justified in his conduct.

But in these almost daily separations between Plantagenet and Venetia,
how different was her lot to that of her companion! She was the
confidante of all his domestic sorrows, and often he had requested
her to exert her influence to obtain some pacifying missive from Lady
Annabel, which might secure him a quiet evening at Cadurcis; and
whenever this had not been obtained, the last words of Venetia were
ever not to loiter, and to remember to speak to his mother as much as
he possibly could. Venetia returned to a happy home, welcomed by the
smile of a soft and beautiful parent, and with words of affection
sweeter than music. She found an engaging companion, who had no
thought but for her welfare, her amusement, and her instruction: and
often, when the curtains were drawn, the candles lit, and Venetia,
holding her mother's hand, opened her book, she thought of poor
Plantagenet, so differently situated, with no one to be kind to him,
with no one to sympathise with his thoughts, and perhaps at the very
moment goaded into some unhappy quarrel with his mother.



CHAPTER IX.


The appearance of the Cadurcis family on the limited stage of her
life, and the engrossing society of her companion, had entirely
distracted the thoughts of Venetia from a subject to which in old days
they were constantly recurring, and that was her father. By a process
which had often perplexed her, and which she could never succeed in
analysing, there had arisen in her mind, without any ostensible
agency on the part of her mother which she could distinctly recall, a
conviction that this was a topic on which she was never to speak. This
idea had once haunted her, and she had seldom found herself alone
without almost unconsciously musing over it. Notwithstanding the
unvarying kindness of Lady Annabel, she exercised over her child
a complete and unquestioned control. Venetia was brought up with
strictness, which was only not felt to be severe, because the system
was founded on the most entire affection, but, fervent as her love was
for her mother, it was equalled by her profound respect, which every
word and action of Lady Annabel tended to maintain.

In all the confidential effusions with Plantagenet, Venetia had never
dwelt upon this mysterious subject; indeed, in these conversations,
when they treated of their real and not ideal life, Venetia was a mere
recipient: all that she could communicate, Plantagenet could observe;
he it was who avenged himself at these moments for his habitual
silence before third persons; it was to Venetia that he poured forth
all his soul, and she was never weary of hearing his stories about
Morpeth, and all his sorrows, disgusts, and afflictions. There was
scarcely an individual in that little town with whom, from his lively
narratives, she was not familiar; and it was to her sympathising heart
that he confided all his future hopes and prospects, and confessed the
strong pride he experienced in being a Cadurcis, which from all others
was studiously concealed.

It had happened that the first Christmas Day after the settlement of
the Cadurcis family at the abbey occurred in the middle of the week;
and as the weather was severe, in order to prevent two journeys at
such an inclement season, Lady Annabel persuaded Mrs. Cadurcis to pass
the whole week at the hall. This arrangement gave such pleasure to
Plantagenet that the walls of the abbey, as the old postchaise was
preparing for their journey, quite resounded with his merriment. In
vain his mother, harassed with all the mysteries of packing, indulged
in a thousand irritable expressions, which at any other time might
have produced a broil or even a fray; Cadurcis did nothing but laugh.
There was at the bottom of this boy's heart, with all his habitual
gravity and reserve, a fund of humour which would occasionally break
out, and which nothing could withstand. When he was alone with
Venetia, he would imitate the old maids of Morpeth, and all the
ceremonies of a provincial tea party, with so much life and genuine
fun, that Venetia was often obliged to stop in their rambles to
indulge her overwhelming mirth. When they were alone, and he was
gloomy, she was often accustomed to say, 'Now, dear Plantagenet, tell
me how the old ladies at Morpeth drink tea.'

This morning at the abbey, Cadurcis was irresistible, and the more
excited his mother became with the difficulties which beset her, the
more gay and fluent were his quips and cranks. Puffing, panting,
and perspiring, now directing her waiting-woman, now scolding her
man-servant, and now ineffectually attempting to box her son's ears,
Mrs. Cadurcis indeed offered a most ridiculous spectacle.

'John!' screamed Mrs. Cadurcis, in a voice of bewildered passion, and
stamping with rage, 'is that the place for my cap-box? You do it on
purpose, that you do!'

'John,' mimicked Lord Cadurcis, 'how dare you do it on purpose?'

'Take that, you brat,' shrieked the mother, and she struck her own
hand against the doorway. 'Oh! I'll give it you, I'll give it you,'
she bellowed under the united influence of rage and pain, and she
pursued her agile child, who dodged her on the other side of the
postchaise, which he persisted in calling the family carriage.

'Oh! ma'am, my lady,' exclaimed the waiting-woman, sallying forth from
the abbey, 'what is to be done with the parrot when we are away? Mrs.
Brown says she won't see to it, that she won't; 'taynt her place.'

This rebellion of Mrs. Brown was a diversion in favour of Plantagenet.
Mrs. Cadurcis waddled down the cloisters with precipitation, rushed
into the kitchen, seized the surprised Mrs. Brown by the shoulder, and
gave her a good shake; and darting at the cage, which held the parrot,
she bore it in triumph to the carriage. 'I will take the bird with
me,' said Mrs. Cadurcis.

'We cannot take the bird inside, madam,' said Plantagenet, 'for it
will overhear all our conversation, and repeat it. We shall not be
able to abuse our friends.'

Mrs. Cadurcis threw the cage at her son's head, who, for the sake of
the bird, dexterously caught it, but declared at the same time he
would immediately throw it into the lake. Then Mrs. Cadurcis began to
cry with rage, and, seating herself on the open steps of the chaise,
sobbed hysterically. Plantagenet stole round on tip-toe, and peeped
in her face: 'A merry Christmas and a happy new year, Mrs. Cadurcis,'
said her son.

'How can I be merry and happy, treated as I am?' sobbed the mother.
'You do not treat Lady Annabel so. Oh! no; it is only your mother whom
you use in this manner! Go to Cherbury. Go by all means, but go by
yourself; I shall not go: go to your friends, Lord Cadurcis; they are
your friends, not mine, and I hope they are satisfied, now that they
have robbed me of the affections of my child. I have seen what they
have been after all this time. I am not so blind as some people think.
No! I see how it is. I am nobody. Your poor mother, who brought you
up, and educated you, is nobody. This is the end of all your Latin and
French, and your fine lessons. Honour your father and your mother,
Lord Cadurcis; that's a finer lesson than all. Oh! oh! oh!'

This allusion to the Herberts suddenly calmed Plantagenet. He felt in
an instant the injudiciousness of fostering by his conduct the latent
jealousy which always lurked at the bottom of his mother's heart, and
which nothing but the united talent and goodness of Lady Annabel could
have hitherto baffled. So he rejoined in a kind yet playful tone, 'If
you will be good, I will give you a kiss for a Christmas-box, mother;
and the parrot shall go inside if you like.'

'The parrot may stay at home, I do not care about it: but I cannot
bear quarrelling; it is not my temper, you naughty, very naughty boy.'

'My dear mother,' continued his lordship, in a soothing tone, 'these
scenes always happen when people are going to travel. I assure you it
is quite a part of packing up.'

'You will be the death of me, that you will,' said the mother, 'with
all your violence. You are worse than your father, that you are.'

'Come, mother,' said her son, drawing nearer, and just touching her
shoulder with his hand, 'will you not have my Christmas-box?'

The mother extended her cheek, which the son slightly touched with his
lip, and then Mrs. Cadurcis jumped up as lively as ever, called for a
glass of Mountain, and began rating the footboy.

At length the postchaise was packed; they had a long journey before
them, because Cadurcis would go round by Southport, to call upon a
tradesman whom a month before he had commissioned to get a trinket
made for him in London, according to the newest fashion, as a present
for Venetia. The commission was executed; Mrs. Cadurcis, who had been
consulted in confidence by her son on the subject, was charmed with
the result of their united taste. She had good-naturedly contributed
one of her own few, but fine, emeralds to the gift; upon the back of
the brooch was engraved:--

    TO VENETIA, FROM HER AFFECTIONATE BROTHER, PLANTAGENET.

'I hope she will be a sister, and more than a sister, to you,' said
Mrs. Cadurcis.

'Why?' inquired her son, rather confused.

'You may look farther, and fare worse,' said Mrs. Cadurcis.
Plantagenet blushed; and yet he wondered why he blushed: he understood
his mother, but he could not pursue the conversation; his heart
fluttered.

A most cordial greeting awaited them at Cherbury; Dr. Masham was
there, and was to remain until Monday. Mrs. Cadurcis would have opened
about the present immediately, but her son warned her on the threshold
that if she said a word about it, or seemed to be aware of its
previous existence, even when it was shown, he would fling it
instantly away into the snow; and her horror of this catastrophe
bridled her tongue. Mrs. Cadurcis, however, was happy, and Lady
Annabel was glad to see her so; the Doctor, too, paid her some
charming compliments; the good lady was in the highest spirits, for
she was always in extremes, and at this moment she would willingly
have laid down her life if she had thought the sacrifice could have
contributed to the welfare of the Herberts.

Cadurcis himself drew Venetia aside, and then, holding the brooch
reversed, he said, with rather a confused air, 'Read that, Venetia.'

'Oh! Plantagenet!' she said, very much astonished.

'You see, Venetia,' he added, leaving it in her hand, 'it is yours.'

Venetia turned the jewel; her eye was dazzled with its brilliancy.

'It is too grand for a little girl, Plantagenet,' she exclaimed, a
little pale.

'No, it is not,' said Plantagenet, firmly; 'besides, you will not
always be a little girl; and then, if ever we do not live together as
we do now, you will always remember you have a brother.'

'I must show it mamma; I must ask her permission to take it,
Plantagenet.'

Venetia went up to her mother, who was talking to Mrs. Cadurcis. She
had not courage to speak before that lady and Dr. Masham, so she
called her mother aside.

'Mamma,' she said, 'something has happened.'

'What, my dear?' said Lady Annabel, somewhat surprised at the
seriousness of her tone.

'Look at this, mamma!' said Venetia, giving her the brooch.

Lady Annabel looked at the jewel, and read the inscription. It was
a more precious offering than the mother would willingly have
sanctioned, but she was too highly bred, and too thoughtful of the
feelings of others, to hesitate for a moment to admire it herself, and
authorise its acceptance by her daughter. So she walked up to Cadurcis
and gave him a mother's embrace for his magnificent present to his
sister, placed the brooch itself near Venetia's heart, and then led
her daughter to Mrs. Cadurcis, that the gratified mother might
admire the testimony of her son's taste and affection. It was a most
successful present, and Cadurcis felt grateful to his mother for her
share in its production, and the very proper manner in which she
received the announcement of its offering.



CHAPTER X.


This was Christmas Eve; the snow was falling briskly. After dinner
they were glad to cluster round the large fire in the green
drawing-room. Dr. Masham had promised to read the evening service in
the chapel, which was now lit up, and the bell was sounding, that the
cottagers might have the opportunity of attending.

Plantagenet and Venetia followed the elders to the chapel; they walked
hand-in-hand down the long galleries.

'I should like to go all over this house,' said Plantagenet to his
companion. 'Have you ever been?'

'Never,' said Venetia; 'half of it is shut up. Nobody ever goes into
it, except mamma.'

In the night there was a violent snowstorm; not only was the fall
extremely heavy, but the wind was so high, that it carried the snow
off the hills, and all the roads were blocked up, in many places
ten or twelve feet deep. All communication was stopped. This was an
adventure that amused the children, though the rest looked rather
grave. Plantagenet expressed to Venetia his wish that the snow would
never melt, and that they might remain at Cherbury for ever.

The children were to have a holiday this week, and they had planned
some excursions in the park and neighbourhood, but now they were all
prisoners to the house. They wandered about, turning the staircase
into mountains, the great hall into an ocean, and the different rooms
into so many various regions. They amused themselves with their
adventures, and went on endless voyages of discovery. Every moment
Plantagenet longed still more for the opportunity of exploring the
uninhabited chambers; but Venetia shook her head, because she was sure
Lady Annabel would not grant them permission.

'Did you ever live at any place before you came to Cherbury?' inquired
Lord Cadurcis of Venetia.

'I know I was not born here,' said Venetia; 'but I was so young that I
have no recollection of any other place.'

'And did any one live here before you came?' said Plantagenet.

'I do not know,' said Venetia; 'I never heard if anybody did. I, I,'
she continued, a little constrained, 'I know nothing.'

'Do you remember your papa?' said Plantagenet.

'No,' said Venetia.

'Then he must have died almost as soon as you were born, said Lord
Cadurcis.

'I suppose he must,' said Venetia, and her heart trembled.

'I wonder if he ever lived here!' said Plantagenet.

'Mamma does not like me to ask questions about my papa,' said Venetia,
'and I cannot tell you anything.'

'Ah! your papa was different from mine, Venetia,' said Cadurcis; 'my
mother talks of him often enough. They did not agree very well; and,
when we quarrel, she always says I remind her of him. I dare say Lady
Annabel loved your papa very much.'

'I am sure mamma did,' replied Venetia.

The children returned to the drawing-room, and joined their friends:
Mrs. Cadurcis was sitting on the sofa, occasionally dozing over a
sermon; Dr. Masham was standing with Lady Annabel in the recess of
a distant window. Her ladyship's countenance was averted; she was
reading a newspaper, which the Doctor had given her. As the door
opened, Lady Annabel glanced round; her countenance was agitated; she
folded up the newspaper rather hastily, and gave it to the Doctor.

'And what have you been doing, little folks?' inquired the Doctor of
the new comers.

'We have been playing at the history of Rome,' said Venetia, 'and now
that we have conquered every place, we do not know what to do.'

'The usual result of conquest,' said the Doctor, smiling.

'This snowstorm is a great trial for you; I begin to believe that,
after all, you would be more pleased to take your holidays at another
opportunity.'

'We could amuse ourselves very well,' said Plantagenet, 'if Lady
Annabel would be so kind as to permit us to explore the part of the
house that is shut up.'

'That would be a strange mode of diversion,' said Lady Annabel,
quietly, 'and I do not think by any means a suitable one. There cannot
be much amusement in roaming over a number of dusty unfurnished
rooms.'

'And so nicely dressed as you are too!' said Mrs. Cadurcis, rousing
herself: 'I wonder how such an idea could enter your head!'

'It snows harder than ever,' said Venetia; 'I think, after all, I
shall learn my French vocabulary.'

'If it snows to-morrow,' said Plantagenet, 'we will do our lessons as
usual. Holidays, I find, are not so amusing as I supposed.'

The snow did continue, and the next day the children voluntarily
suggested that they should resume their usual course of life. With
their mornings occupied, they found their sources of relaxation ample;
and in the evening they acted plays, and Lady Annabel dressed them up
in her shawls, and Dr. Masham read Shakspeare to them.

It was about the fourth day of the visit that Plantagenet, loitering
in the hall with Venetia, said to her, 'I saw your mamma go into the
locked-up rooms last night. I do so wish that she would let us go
there.'

'Last night!' said Venetia; 'when could you have seen her last night?'

'Very late: the fact is, I could not sleep, and I took it into my head
to walk up and down the gallery. I often do so at the abbey. I like to
walk up and down an old gallery alone at night. I do not know why; but
I like it very much. Everything is so still, and then you hear the
owls. I cannot make out why it is; but nothing gives me more pleasure
than to get up when everybody is asleep. It seems as if one were the
only living person in the world. I sometimes think, when I am a man, I
will always get up in the night, and go to bed in the daytime. Is not
that odd?'

'But mamma!' said Venetia, 'how came you to see mamma?'

'Oh! I am certain of it,' said the boy; 'for, to tell you the truth, I
was rather frightened at first; only I thought it would not do for a
Cadurcis to be afraid, so I stood against the wall, in the shade, and
I was determined, whatever happened, not to cry out.'

'Oh! you frighten me so, Plantagenet!' said Venetia.

'Ah! you might well have been frightened if you had been there; past
midnight, a tall white figure, and a light! However, there is nothing
to be alarmed about; it was Lady Annabel, nobody else. I saw her as
clearly as I see you now. She walked along the gallery, and went to
the very door you showed me the other morning. I marked the door; I
could not mistake it. She unlocked it, and she went in.'

'And then?' inquired Venetia, eagerly.

'Why, then, like a fool, I went back to bed,' said Plantagenet. 'I
thought it would seem so silly if I were caught, and I might not have
had the good fortune to escape twice. I know no more.'

Venetia could not reply. She heard a laugh, and then her mother's
voice. They were called with a gay summons to see a colossal
snow-ball, that some of the younger servants had made and rolled to
the window of the terrace-room. It was ornamented with a crown of
holly and mistletoe, and the parti-coloured berries looked bright in a
straggling sunbeam which had fought its way through the still-loaded
sky, and fell upon the terrace.

In the evening, as they sat round the fire, Mrs. Cadurcis began
telling Venetia a long rambling ghost story, which she declared was
a real ghost story, and had happened in her own family. Such
communications were not very pleasing to Lady Annabel, but she was too
well bred to interrupt her guest. When, however, the narrative was
finished, and Venetia, by her observations, evidently indicated
the effect that it had produced upon her mind, her mother took the
occasion of impressing upon her the little credibility which should
be attached to such legends, and the rational process by which many
unquestionable apparitions might be accounted for. Dr. Masham,
following this train, recounted a story of a ghost which had been
generally received in a neighbouring village for a considerable
period, and attested by the most veracious witnesses, but which was
explained afterwards by turning out to be an instance of somnambulism.
Venetia appeared to be extremely interested in the subject; she
inquired much about sleep-walkers and sleepwalking; and a great many
examples of the habit were cited. At length she said, 'Mamma, did you
ever walk in your sleep?'

'Not to my knowledge,' said Lady Annabel, smiling; 'I should hope
not.'

'Well, do you know,' said Plantagenet, who had hitherto listened in
silence, 'it is very curious, but I once dreamt that you did, Lady
Annabel.'

'Indeed!' said the lady.

'Yes! and I dreamt it last night, too,' continued Cadurcis. 'I thought
I was sleeping in the uninhabited rooms here, and the door opened, and
you walked in with a light.'

'No! Plantagenet,' said Venetia, who was seated by him, and who spoke
in a whisper, 'it was not--'

'Hush!' said Cadurcis, in a low voice.

'Well, that was a strange dream,' said Mrs. Cadurcis; 'was it not,
Doctor?'

'Now, children, I will tell you a very curious story,' said the
Doctor; 'and it is quite a true one, for it happened to myself.'

The Doctor was soon embarked in his tale, and his audience speedily
became interested in the narrative; but Lady Annabel for some time
maintained complete silence.



CHAPTER XI.


The spring returned; the intimate relations between the two families
were each day more confirmed. Lady Annabel had presented her daughter
and Plantagenet each with a beautiful pony, but their rides were at
first to be confined to the park, and to be ever attended by a groom.
In time, however, duly accompanied, they were permitted to extend
their progress so far as Cadurcis. Mrs. Cadurcis had consented to
the wishes of her son to restore the old garden, and Venetia was his
principal adviser and assistant in the enterprise. Plantagenet was
fond of the abbey, and nothing but the agreeable society of Cherbury
on the one hand, and the relief of escaping from his mother on the
other, could have induced him to pass so little of his time at home;
but, with Venetia for his companion, his mornings at the abbey passed
charmingly, and, as the days were now at their full length again,
there was abundance of time, after their studies at Cherbury, to ride
together through the woods to Cadurcis, spend several hours there, and
for Venetia to return to the hall before sunset. Plantagenet always
accompanied her to the limits of the Cherbury grounds, and then
returned by himself, solitary and full of fancies.

Lady Annabel had promised the children that they should some day
ride together to Marringhurst, the rectory of Dr. Masham, to eat
strawberries and cream. This was to be a great festival, and was
looked forward to with corresponding interest. Her ladyship had kindly
offered to accompany Mrs. Cadurcis in the carriage, but that lady was
an invalid and declined the journey; so Lady Annabel, who was herself
a good horsewoman, mounted her jennet with Venetia and Plantagenet.

Marringhurst was only five miles from Cherbury by a cross-road,
which was scarcely passable for carriages. The rectory house was a
substantial, square-built, red brick mansion, shaded by gigantic elms,
but the southern front covered with a famous vine, trained over it
with elaborate care, and of which, and his espaliers, the Doctor was
very proud. The garden was thickly stocked with choice fruit-trees;
there was not the slightest pretence to pleasure grounds; but there
was a capital bowling-green, and, above all, a grotto, where the
Doctor smoked his evening pipe, and moralised in the midst of his
cucumbers and cabbages. On each side extended the meadows of his
glebe, where his kine ruminated at will. It was altogether a scene as
devoid of the picturesque as any that could be well imagined; flat,
but not low, and rich, and green, and still.

His expected guests met as warm a reception as such a hearty friend
might be expected to afford. Dr. Masham was scarcely less delighted at
the excursion than the children themselves, and rejoiced in the sunny
day that made everything more glad and bright. The garden, the grotto,
the bowling-green, and all the novelty of the spot, greatly diverted
his young companions; they visited his farmyard, were introduced to
his poultry, rambled over his meadows, and admired his cows, which he
had collected with equal care and knowledge. Nor was the interior of
this bachelor's residence devoid of amusement. Every nook and corner
was filled with objects of interest; and everything was in admirable
order. The goddess of neatness and precision reigned supreme,
especially in his hall, which, though barely ten feet square, was a
cabinet of rural curiosities. His guns, his fishing-tackle, a cabinet
of birds stuffed by himself, a fox in a glass-case that seemed
absolutely running, and an otter with a real fish in its mouth, in
turn delighted them; but chiefly, perhaps, his chimney-corner of Dutch
tiles, all Scriptural subjects, which Venetia and Plantagenet emulated
each other in discovering.

Then his library, which was rare and splendid, for the Doctor was one
of the most renowned scholars in the kingdom, and his pictures, his
prints, and his gold fish, and his canary birds; it seemed they never
could exhaust such sources of endless amusement; to say nothing of
every other room in the house, for, from the garret to the dairy,
his guests encouraged him in introducing them to every thing, every
person, and every place.

'And this is the way we old bachelors contrive to pass our lives,'
said the good Doctor; 'and now, my dear lady, Goody Blount will give
us some dinner.'

The Doctor's repast was a substantial one; he seemed resolved, at one
ample swoop, to repay Lady Annabel for all her hospitality; and he
really took such delight in their participation of it, that his
principal guest was constrained to check herself in more than one
warning intimation that moderation was desirable, were it only for the
sake of the strawberries and cream. All this time his housekeeper,
Goody Blount, as he called her, in her lace cap and ruffles, as
precise and starch as an old picture, stood behind his chair with
pleased solemnity, directing, with unruffled composure, the movements
of the liveried bumpkin who this day was promoted to the honour of
'waiting at table.'

'Come,' said the Doctor, as the cloth was cleared, 'I must bargain for
one toast, Lady Annabel: "Church and State."'

'What is Church and State?' said Venetia.

'As good things. Miss Venetia, as strawberries and cream,' said the
Doctor, laughing; 'and, like them, always best united.'

After their repast, the children went into the garden to amuse
themselves. They strolled about some time, until Plantagenet at length
took it into his head that he should like to learn to play at bowls;
and he said, if Venetia would wait in the grotto, where they then were
talking, he would run back and ask the Doctor if the servant might
teach him. He was not long absent; but appeared, on his return, a
little agitated. Venetia inquired if he had been successful, but he
shook his head, and said he had not asked.

'Why did you not?' said Venetia.

'I did not like,' he replied, looking very serious; 'something
happened.'

'What could have happened?' said Venetia.

'Something strange,' was his answer.

'Oh, do tell me, Plantagenet!'

'Why,' said he, in a low voice, 'your mamma is crying.'

'Crying!' exclaimed Venetia; 'my dear mamma crying! I must go to her
directly.'

'Hush!' said Plantagenet, shaking his head, 'you must not go.'

'I must.'

'No, you must not go, Venetia,' was his reply; 'I am sure she does not
want us to know she is crying.'

'What did she say to you?'

'She did not see me; the Doctor did, and he gave me a nod to go away.'

'I never saw mamma cry,' said Venetia.

'Don't you say anything about it, Venetia,' said Plantagenet, with a
manly air; 'listen to what I say.'

'I do, Plantagenet, always; but still I should like to know what mamma
can be crying about. Do tell me all about it.'

'Why, I came to the room by the open windows, and your mamma was
standing up, with her back to me, and leaning on the mantel-piece,
with her face in her handkerchief; and the Doctor was standing up too,
only his back was to the fireplace; and when he saw me, he made me a
sign to go away, and I went directly.'

'Are you sure mamma was crying?'

'I heard her sob.'

'I think I shall cry,' said Venetia.

'You must not; you must know nothing about it. If you let your mamma
know that I saw her crying, I shall never tell you anything again.'

'What do you think she was crying about, Plantagenet?'

'I cannot say; perhaps she had been talking about your papa. I do not
want to play at bowls now,' added Plantagenet; 'let us go and see the
cows.'

In the course of half an hour the servant summoned the children to
the house. The horses were ready, and they were now to return. Lady
Annabel received them with her usual cheerfulness.

'Well, dear children,' said she, 'have you been very much amused?'

Venetia ran forward, and embraced her mother with even unusual
fondness. She was mindful of Plantagenet's injunctions, and was
resolved not to revive her mother's grief by any allusion that could
recall the past; but her heart was, nevertheless, full of sympathy,
and she could not have rode home, had she not thus expressed her love
for her mother.

With the exception of this strange incident, over which, afterwards,
Venetia often pondered, and which made her rather serious the whole of
the ride home, this expedition to Marringhurst was a very happy day.



CHAPTER XII.


This happy summer was succeeded by a singularly wet autumn. Weeks of
continuous rain rendered it difficult even for the little Cadurcis,
who defied the elements, to be so constant as heretofore in his daily
visits to Cherbury. His mother, too, grew daily a greater invalid,
and, with increasing sufferings and infirmities, the natural
captiousness of her temper proportionally exhibited itself. She
insisted upon the companionship of her son, and that he should not
leave the house in such unseasonable weather. If he resisted, she fell
into one of her jealous rages, and taunted him with loving strangers
better than his own mother. Cadurcis, on the whole, behaved very well;
he thought of Lady Annabel's injunctions, and restrained his passion.
Yet he was not repaid for the sacrifice; his mother made no effort
to render their joint society agreeable, or even endurable. She was
rarely in an amiable mood, and generally either irritable or sullen.
If the weather held up a little, and he ventured to pay a visit to
Cherbury, he was sure to be welcomed back with a fit of passion;
either Mrs. Cadurcis was angered for being left alone, or had
fermented herself into fury by the certainty of his catching a fever.
If Plantagenet remained at the abbey, she was generally sullen; and,
as he himself was naturally silent under any circumstances, his mother
would indulge in that charming monologue, so conducive to domestic
serenity, termed 'talking at a person,' and was continually
insinuating that she supposed he found it very dull to pass his day
with her, and that she dared say that somebody could be lively enough
if he were somewhere else.

Cadurcis would turn pale, and bite his lip, and then leave the room;
and whole days would sometimes pass with barely a monosyllable being
exchanged between this parent and child. Cadurcis had found some
opportunities of pouring forth his griefs and mortification into the
ear of Venetia, and they had reached her mother; but Lady Annabel,
though she sympathised with this interesting boy, invariably
counselled duty. The morning studies were abandoned, but a quantity of
books were sent over from Cherbury for Plantagenet, and Lady Annabel
seized every opportunity of conciliating Mrs. Cadurcis' temper in
favour of her child, by the attention which she paid the mother. The
weather, however, prevented either herself or Venetia from visiting
the abbey; and, on the whole, the communications between the two
establishments and their inmates had become rare.

Though now a continual inmate of the abbey, Cadurcis was seldom the
companion of his mother. They met at their meals, and that was all. He
entered the room every day with an intention of conciliating; but the
mutual tempers of the mother and the son were so quick and sensitive,
that he always failed in his purpose, and could only avoid a storm
by dogged silence. This enraged Mrs. Cadurcis more even than his
impertinence; she had no conduct; she lost all command over herself,
and did not hesitate to address to her child terms of reproach and
abuse, which a vulgar mind could only conceive, and a coarse tongue
alone express. What a contrast to Cherbury, to the mild maternal
elegance and provident kindness of Lady Annabel, and the sweet tones
of Venetia's ever-sympathising voice. Cadurcis, though so young, was
gifted with an innate fastidiousness, that made him shrink from a rude
woman. His feelings were different in regard to men; he sympathised at
a very early age with the bold and the energetic; his favourites among
the peasantry were ever those who excelled in athletic sports; and,
though he never expressed the opinion, he did not look upon the
poacher with the evil eye of his class. But a coarse and violent woman
jarred even his young nerves; and this woman was his mother, his only
parent, almost his only relation; for he had no near relative except
a cousin whom he had never even seen, the penniless orphan of a
penniless brother of his father, and who had been sent to sea; so
that, after all, his mother was the only natural friend he had. This
poor little boy would fly from that mother with a sullen brow, or,
perhaps, even with a harsh and cutting repartee; and then he would
lock himself up in his room, and weep. But he allowed no witnesses of
this weakness. The lad was very proud. If any of the household passed
by as he quitted the saloon, and stared for a moment at his pale and
agitated face, he would coin a smile for the instant, and say even a
kind word, for he was very courteous to his inferiors, and all the
servants loved him, and then take refuge in his solitary woe.

Relieved by this indulgence of his mortified heart, Cadurcis looked
about him for resources. The rain was pouring in torrents, and the
plash of the troubled and swollen lake might be heard even at the
abbey. At night the rising gusts of wind, for the nights were always
clear and stormy, echoed down the cloisters with a wild moan to which
he loved to listen. In the morning he beheld with interest the savage
spoils of the tempest; mighty branches of trees strewn about,
and sometimes a vast trunk uprooted from its ancient settlement.
Irresistibly the conviction impressed itself upon his mind that, if
he were alone in this old abbey, with no mother to break that strange
fountain of fancies that seemed always to bubble up in his solitude,
he might be happy. He wanted no companions; he loved to be alone, to
listen to the winds, and gaze upon the trees and waters, and wander in
those dim cloisters and that gloomy gallery.

From the first hour of his arrival he had loved the venerable hall of
his fathers. Its appearance harmonised with all the associations of
his race. Power and pomp, ancestral fame, the legendary respect of
ages, all that was great, exciting, and heroic, all that was marked
out from the commonplace current of human events, hovered round him.
In the halls of Cadurcis he was the Cadurcis; though a child, he was
keenly sensible of his high race; his whole being sympathised with
their glory; he was capable of dying sooner than of disgracing them;
and then came the memory of his mother's sharp voice and harsh vulgar
words, and he shivered with disgust.

Forced into solitude, forced to feed upon his own mind, Cadurcis found
in that solitude each day a dearer charm, and in that mind a richer
treasure of interest and curiosity. He loved to wander about, dream of
the past, and conjure up a future as glorious. What was he to be? What
should be his career? Whither should he wend his course? Even at this
early age, dreams of far lands flitted over his mind; and schemes of
fantastic and adventurous life. But now he was a boy, a wretched boy,
controlled by a vulgar and narrow-minded woman! And this servitude
must last for years; yes! years must elapse before he was his own
master. Oh! if he could only pass them alone, without a human voice to
disturb his musings, a single form to distract his vision!

Under the influence of such feelings, even Cherbury figured to his
fancy in somewhat faded colours. There, indeed, he was loved and
cherished; there, indeed, no sound was ever heard, no sight ever seen,
that could annoy or mortify the high pitch of his unconscious ideal;
but still, even at Cherbury, he was a child. Under the influence
of daily intercourse, his tender heart had balanced, perhaps even
outweighed, his fiery imagination. That constant yet delicate
affection had softened all his soul: he had no time but to be grateful
and to love. He returned home only to muse over their sweet society,
and contrast their refined and gentle life with the harsh rude hearth
that awaited him. Whatever might be his reception at home, he was
thrown, back for solace on their memory, not upon his own heart; and
he felt the delightful conviction that to-morrow would renew the spell
whose enchantment had enabled him to endure the present vexation. But
now the magic of that intercourse had ceased; after a few days of
restlessness and repining, he discovered that he must find in his
desolation sterner sources of support than the memory of Venetia, and
the recollections of the domestic joys of Cherbury. It astonishing
with what rapidity the character of Cadurcis developed itself in
solitude; and strange was the contrast between the gentle child who,
a few weeks before, had looked forward with so much interest to
accompanying Venetia to a childish festival, and the stern and moody
being who paced the solitary cloisters of Cadurcis, and then would
withdraw to his lonely chamber and the amusement of a book. He was at
this time deeply interested in Purchas's Pilgrimage, one of the few
books of which the late lord had not despoiled him. Narratives of
travels and voyages always particularly pleased him; he had an idea
that he was laying up information which might be useful to him
hereafter; the Cherbury collection was rich in this class of volumes,
and Lady Annabel encouraged their perusal.

In this way many weeks elapsed at the abbey, during which the visits
of Plantagenet to Cherbury were very few. Sometimes, if the weather
cleared for an hour during the morning, he would mount his pony, and
gallop, without stopping, to the hall. The rapidity of the motion
excited his mind; he fancied himself, as he embraced Venetia, some
chieftain who had escaped for a moment from his castle to visit his
mistress; his imagination conjured up a war between the opposing
towers of Cadurcis and Cherbury; and when his mother fell into a
passion on his return, it passed with him only, according to its
length and spirit, as a brisk skirmish or a general engagement.



CHAPTER XIII.


One afternoon, on his return from Cherbury, Plantagenet found the fire
extinguished in the little room which he had appropriated to himself,
and where he kept his books. As he had expressed his wish to the
servant that the fire should be kept up, he complained to him of the
neglect, but was informed, in reply, that the fire had been allowed to
go out by his mother's orders, and that she desired in future that
he would always read in the saloon. Plantagenet had sufficient
self-control to make no observation before the servant, and soon after
joined his mother, who looked very sullen, as if she were conscious
that she had laid a train for an explosion.

Dinner was now served, a short and silent meal. Lord Cadurcis did not
choose to speak because he felt aggrieved, and his mother because
she was husbanding her energies for the contest which she believed
impending. At length, when the table was cleared, and the servant
departed, Cadurcis said in a quiet tone, 'I think I shall write to my
guardian to-morrow about my going to Eton.'

'You shall do no such thing,' said Mrs. Cadurcis, bristling up; 'I
never heard such a ridiculous idea in my life as a boy like you
writing letters on such subjects to a person you have never yet seen.
When I think it proper that you should go to Eton, I shall write.'

'I wish you would think it proper now then, ma'am.'

'I won't be dictated to,' said Mrs. Cadurcis, fiercely.

'I was not dictating,' replied her son, calmly.

'You would if you could,' said his mother.

'Time enough to find fault with me when I do, ma'am.'

'There is enough to find fault about at all times, sir.'

'On which side, Mrs. Cadurcis?' inquired Plantagenet, with a sneer.

'Don't aggravate me, Lord Cadurcis,' said his mother.

'How am I aggravating you, ma'am?'

'I won't be answered,' said the mother.

'I prefer silence myself,' said the son.

'I won't be insulted in my own room, sir,' said Mrs. Cadurcis.

'I am not insulting you, Mrs. Cadurcis,' said Plantagenet, rather
fiercely; 'and, as for your own room, I never wish to enter it. Indeed
I should not be here at this moment, had you not ordered my fire to be
put out, and particularly requested that I should sit in the saloon.'

'Oh! you are a vastly obedient person, I dare say,' replied Mrs.
Cadurcis, very pettishly. 'How long, I should like to know, have my
requests received such particular attention? Pooh!'

'Well, then, I will order my fire to be lighted again,' said
Plantagenet.

'You shall do no such thing,' said the mother; 'I am mistress in this
house. No one shall give orders here but me, and you may write to your
guardian and tell him that, if you like.'

'I shall certainly not write to my guardian for the first time,' said
Lord Cadurcis, 'about any such nonsense.'

'Nonsense, sir! Nonsense you said, did you? Your mother nonsense! This
is the way to treat a parent, is it? I am nonsense, am I? I will teach
you what nonsense is. Nonsense shall be very good sense; you shall
find that, sir, that you shall. Nonsense, indeed! I'll write to your
guardian, that I will! You call your mother nonsense, do you? And
where did you learn that, I should like to know? Nonsense, indeed!
This comes of your going to Cherbury! So your mother is nonsense; a
pretty lesson for Lady Annabel to teach you. Oh! I'll speak my mind to
her, that I will.'

'What has Lady Annabel to do with it?' inquired Cadurcis, in a loud
tone.

'Don't threaten me, sir,' said Mrs. Cadurcis, with violent gesture.
'I won't be menaced; I won't be menaced by my son. Pretty goings
on, indeed! But I will put a stop to them; will I not? that is all.
Nonsense, indeed; your mother nonsense!'

'Well, you do talk nonsense, and the greatest,' said Plantagenet,
doggedly; 'you are talking nonsense now, you are always talking
nonsense, and you never open your mouth about Lady Annabel without
talking nonsense.'

'If I was not very ill I would give it you,' said his mother, grinding
her teeth. 'O you brat! You wicked brat, you! Is this the way to
address me? I have half a mind to shake your viciousness out of you,
that I have!

You are worse than your father, that you are!' and here she wept with
rage.

'I dare say my father was not so bad, after all!' said Cadurcis.

'What should you know about your father, sir?' said Mrs. Cadurcis.
'How dare you speak about your father!'

'Who should speak about a father but a son?'

'Hold your impudence, sir!'

'I am not impudent, ma'am.'

'You aggravating brat!' exclaimed the enraged woman, 'I wish I had
something to throw at you!'

'Did you throw things at my father?' asked his lordship.

Mrs. Cadurcis went into an hysterical rage; then, suddenly jumping up,
she rushed at her son. Lord Cadurcis took up a position behind
the table, but the sportive and mocking air which he generally
instinctively assumed on these occasions, and which, while it
irritated his mother more, was in reality affected by the boy from a
sort of nervous desire of preventing these dreadful exposures from
assuming a too tragic tone, did not characterise his countenance on
the present occasion; on the contrary, it was pale, but composed and
very serious. Mrs. Cadurcis, after one or two ineffectual attempts to
catch him, paused and panted for breath. He took advantage of this
momentary cessation, and spoke thus, 'Mother, I am in no humour for
frolics. I moved out of your way that you might not strike me, because
I have made up my mind that, if you ever strike me again, I will live
with you no longer. Now, I have given you warning; do what you please;
I shall sit down in this chair, and not move. If you strike me, you
know the consequences.' So saying, his lordship resumed his chair.

Mrs. Cadurcis simultaneously sprang forward and boxed his ears; and
then her son rose without the slightest expression of any kind, and
slowly quitted the chamber.

Mrs. Cadurcis remained alone in a savage sulk; hours passed away, and
her son never made his appearance. Then she rang the bell, and ordered
the servant to tell Lord Cadurcis that tea was ready; but the servant
returned, and reported that his lordship had locked himself up in his
room, and would not reply to his inquiries. Determined not to give in,
Mrs. Cadurcis, at length, retired for the night, rather regretting her
violence, but still sullen. Having well scolded her waiting-woman, she
at length fell asleep.

The morning brought breakfast, but no Lord Cadurcis; in vain were all
the messages of his mother, her son would make no reply to them. Mrs.
Cadurcis, at length, personally repaired to his room and knocked at
the door, but she was as unsuccessful as the servants; she began to
think he would starve, and desired the servant to offer from himself
to bring his meal. Still silence. Indignant at his treatment of these
overtures of conciliation, Mrs. Cadurcis returned to the saloon,
confident that hunger, if no other impulse, would bring her wild cub
out of his lair; but, just before dinner, her waiting-woman came
running into the room.

'Oh, ma'am, ma'am, I don't know where Lord Cadurcis has gone; but I
have just seen John, and he says there was no pony in the stable this
morning.'

'Mrs. Cadurcis sprang up, rushed to her son's chamber, found the door
still locked, ordered it to be burst open, and then it turned out that
his lordship had never been there at all, for the bed was unused. Mrs.
Cadurcis was frightened out of her life; the servants, to console
her, assured her that Plantagenet must be at Cherbury; and while she
believed their representations, which were probable, she became not
only more composed, but resumed her jealousy and sullenness. 'Gone
to Cherbury, indeed! No doubt of it! Let him remain at Cherbury.'
Execrating Lady Annabel, she flung herself into an easy chair, and
dined alone, preparing herself to speak her mind on her son's return.

The night, however, did not bring him, and Mrs. Cadurcis began to
recur to her alarm. Much as she now disliked Lady Annabel, she
could not resist the conviction that her ladyship would not permit
Plantagenet to remain at Cherbury. Nevertheless, jealous, passionate,
and obstinate, she stifled her fears, vented her spleen on her unhappy
domestics, and, finally, exhausting herself by a storm of passion
about some very unimportant subject, again sought refuge in sleep.

She awoke early in a fright, and inquired immediately for her son.
He had not been seen. She ordered the abbey bell to be sounded, sent
messengers throughout the demesne, and directed all the offices to
be searched. At first she thought he must have returned, and slept,
perhaps in a barn; then she adopted the more probable conclusion, that
he had drowned himself in the lake. Then she went into hysterics;
called Plantagenet her lost darling; declared he was the best and most
dutiful of sons, and the image of his poor father, then abused all the
servants, and then abused herself.

About noon she grew quite distracted, and rushed about the house
with her hair dishevelled, and in a dressing-gown, looked in all the
closets, behind the screens, under the chairs, into her work-box, but,
strange to say, with no success. Then she went off into a swoon, and
her servants, alike frightened about master and mistress, mother and
son, dispatched a messenger immediately to Cherbury for intelligence,
advice, and assistance. In less than an hour's time the messenger
returned, and informed them that Lord Cadurcis had not been at
Cherbury since two days back, but that Lady Annabel was very sorry
to hear that their mistress was so ill, and would come on to see her
immediately. In the meantime, Lady Annabel added that she had sent
to Dr. Masham, and had great hopes that Lord Cadurcis was at
Marringhurst. Mrs. Cadurcis, who had now come to, as her waiting-woman
described the returning consciousness of her mistress, eagerly
embraced the hope held out of Plantagenet being at Marringhurst,
poured forth a thousand expressions of gratitude, admiration, and
affection for Lady Annabel, who, she declared, was her best, her only
friend, and the being in the world whom she loved most, next to her
unhappy and injured child.

After another hour of suspense Lady Annabel arrived, and her entrance
was the signal for a renewed burst of hysterics from Mrs. Cadurcis, so
wild and terrible that they must have been contagious to any female of
less disciplined emotions than her guest.



CHAPTER XIV.


Towards evening Dr. Masham arrived at Cadurcis. He could give no
intelligence of Plantagenet, who had not called at Marringhurst; but
he offered, and was prepared, to undertake his pursuit. The good
Doctor had his saddle-bags well stocked, and was now on his way to
Southport, that being the nearest town, and where he doubted not
to gain some tidings of the fugitive. Mrs. Cadurcis he found so
indisposed, that he anticipated the charitable intentions of Lady
Annabel not to quit her; and after having bid them place their
confidence in Providence and his humble exertions, he at once departed
on his researches.

In the meantime let us return to the little lord himself. Having
secured the advantage of a long start, by the device of turning the
key of his chamber, he repaired to the stables, and finding no one
to observe him, saddled his pony and galloped away without plan or
purpose. An instinctive love of novelty and adventure induced him to
direct his course by a road which he had never before pursued; and,
after two or three miles progress through a wild open country of
brushwood, he found that he had entered that considerable forest which
formed the boundary of many of the views from Cadurcis. The afternoon
was clear and still, the sun shining in the light blue sky, and the
wind altogether hushed. On each side of the winding road spread the
bright green turf, occasionally shaded by picturesque groups of
doddered oaks. The calm beauty of the sylvan scene wonderfully touched
the fancy of the youthful fugitive; it soothed and gratified him. He
pulled up his pony; patted its lively neck, as if in gratitude for
its good service, and, confident that he could not be successfully
pursued, indulged in a thousand dreams of Robin Hood and his merry
men. As for his own position and prospects, he gave himself no anxiety
about them: satisfied with his escape from a revolting thraldom, his
mind seemed to take a bound from the difficulty of his situation and
the wildness of the scene, and he felt himself a man, and one, too,
whom nothing could daunt or appal.

Soon the road itself quite disappeared and vanished in a complete
turfy track; but the continuing marks of cartwheels assured him that
it was a thoroughfare, although he was now indeed journeying in the
heart of a forest of oaks and he doubted not it would lead to some
town or village, or at any rate to some farmhouse. Towards sunset, he
determined to make use of the remaining light, and pushed on apace;
but it soon grew so dark, that he found it necessary to resume his
walking pace, from fear of the overhanging branches and the trunks of
felled trees which occasionally crossed his way.

Notwithstanding the probable prospect of passing his night in the
forest, our little adventurer did not lose heart. Cadurcis was an
intrepid child, and when in the company of those with whom he was not
familiar, and free from those puerile associations to which those who
had known and lived with him long were necessarily subject, he would
assume a staid and firm demeanour unusual with one of such tender
years. A light in the distance was now not only a signal that
the shelter he desired was at hand, but reminded him that it was
necessary, by his assured port, to prove that he was not unused to
travel alone, and that he was perfectly competent and qualified to be
his own master.

As he drew nearer, the lights multiplied, and the moon, which now rose
over the forest, showed to him that the trees, retiring on both sides
to some little distance, left a circular plot of ground, on which were
not only the lights which had at first attracted his attention, but
the red flames of a watch-fire, round which some dark figures had
hitherto been clustered. The sound of horses' feet had disturbed them,
and the fire was now more and more visible. As Cadurcis approached, he
observed some low tents, and in a few minutes he was in the centre of
an encampment of gipsies. He was for a moment somewhat dismayed, for
he had been brought up with the usual terror of these wild people;
nevertheless, he was not unequal to the occasion. He was surrounded in
an instant, but only with women and children; for the gipsy-men never
immediately appear. They smiled with their bright eyes, and the flames
of the watch-fire threw a lurid glow over their dark and flashing
countenances; they held out their practised hands; they uttered
unintelligible, but not unfriendly sounds. The heart of Cadurcis
faltered, but his voice did not betray him.

'I am cold, good people,' said the undaunted boy; 'will you let me
warm myself by your fire?'

A beautiful girl, with significant gestures, pressed her hand to her
heart, then pointed in the direction of the tents, and then rushed
away, soon reappearing with a short thin man, inclining to middle age,
but of a compact and apparently powerful frame, lithe, supple, and
sinewy. His complexion was dark, but clear; his eye large, liquid, and
black; but his other features small, though precisely moulded. He wore
a green jacket and a pair of black velvet breeches, his legs and feet
being bare, with the exception of slippers. Round his head was twisted
a red handkerchief, which, perhaps, might not have looked like a
turban on a countenance less oriental.

'What would the young master?' inquired the gipsy-man, in a voice far
from disagreeable, and with a gesture of courtesy; but, at the same
time, he shot a scrutinising glance first at Plantagenet, and then at
his pony.

'I would remain with you,' said Cadurcis; 'that is, if you will let
me.'

The gipsy-man made a sign to the women, and Plantagenet was lifted
by them off his pony, before he could be aware of their purpose; the
children led the pony away, and the gipsy-man conducted Plantagenet to
the fire, where an old woman sat, presiding over the mysteries of an
enormous flesh-pot. Immediately his fellows, who had originally been
clustered around it, re-appeared; fresh blocks and branches were
thrown on, the flames crackled and rose, the men seated themselves
around, and Plantagenet, excited by the adventure, rubbed his hands
before the fire, and determined to fear nothing.

A savoury steam exuded from the flesh-pot.

'That smells well,' said Plantagenet.

'Tis a dimber cove,'[A] whispered one of the younger men to a
companion.

[Footnote A: 'Tis a lively lad.]

'Our supper has but rough seasoning for such as you,' said the man who
had first saluted him, and who was apparently the leader; 'but the
welcome is hearty.'

The woman and girls now came with wooden bowls and platters, and,
after serving the men, seated themselves in an exterior circle, the
children playing round them.

'Come, old mort,' said the leader, in a very different tone to the one
in which he addressed his young guest, 'tout the cobble-colter; are we
to have darkmans upon us? And, Beruna, flick the panam.'[A]

[Footnote A: Come, old woman, took after the turkey. Are we to wait
till night! And, Beruna, cut the bread.]

Upon this, that beautiful girl, who had at first attracted the notice
of Cadurcis, called out in a sweet lively voice, 'Ay! ay! Morgana!'
and in a moment handed over the heads of the women a pannier of bread,
which the leader took, and offered its contents to our fugitive.
Cadurcis helped himself, with a bold but gracious air. The pannier was
then passed round, and the old woman, opening the pot, drew out, with
a huge iron fork, a fine turkey, which she tossed into a large wooden
platter, and cut up with great quickness. First she helped Morgana,
but only gained a reproof for her pains, who immediately yielded his
portion to Plantagenet. Each man was provided with his knife, but the
guest had none. Morgana immediately gave up his own.

'Beruna!' he shouted, 'gibel a chiv for the gentry cove.'[A]

[Footnote A: Bring a knife for the gentleman.]

'Ay! ay! Morgana!' said the girl; and she brought the knife to
Plantagenet himself, saying at the same time, with sparkling eyes,
'Yam, yam, gentry cove.'[A]

[Footnote A: Eat, eat, gentleman.]

Cadurcis really thought it was the most delightful meal he had ever
made in his life. The flesh-pot held something besides turkeys. Rough
as was the fare, it was good and plentiful. As for beverage, they
drank humpty-dumpty, which is ale boiled with brandy, and which is
not one of the slightest charms of a gipsy's life. When the men were
satisfied, their platters were filled, and given to the women and
children; and Beruna, with her portion, came and seated herself by
Plantagenet, looking at him with a blended glance of delight and
astonishment, like a beautiful young savage, and then turning to her
female companions to stifle a laugh. The flesh-pot was carried away,
the men lit their pipes, the fire was replenished, its red shadow
mingled with the silver beams of the moon; around were the glittering
tents and the silent woods; on all sides flashing eyes and picturesque
forms. Cadurcis glanced at his companions, and gazed upon the scene
with feelings of ravishing excitement; and then, almost unconscious of
what he was saying, exclaimed, 'At length I have found the life that
suits me!'

'Indeed, squire!' said Morgana. 'Would you be one of us?'

'From this moment,' said Cadurcis, 'if you will admit me to your band.
But what can I do? And I have nothing to give you. You must teach me
to earn my right to our supper.'

'We'll make a Turkey merchant[A] of you yet,' said an old gipsy,
'never fear that.'

[Footnote A: _i.e._ We will teach you to steal a turkey]

'Bah, Peter!' said Morgana, with an angry look, 'your red rag will
never be still. And what was the purpose of your present travel?' he
continued to Plantagenet.

'None; I was sick of silly home.'

'The gentry cove will be romboyled by his dam,' said a third gipsy.
'Queer Cuffin will be the word yet, if we don't tout.'[A]

[Footnote A: His mother will make a hue and cry after the gentleman
yet; justice of the peace will be the word, if we don't look sharp.]

'Well, you shall see a little more of us before you decide,' said
Morgana, thoughtfully, and turning the conversation. 'Beruna.'

'Ay! ay! Morgana!'

'Tip me the clank, like a dimber mort as you are; trim a ken for the
gentry cove; he is no lanspresado, or I am a kinchin.'[A]

[Footnote A: Give me the tankard, like a pretty girl. Get a bed ready
for the gentleman. He is no informer, or I am an infant.]

'Ay! ay! Morgana' gaily exclaimed the girl, and she ran off to prepare
a bed for the Lord of Cadurcis.



CHAPTER XV.


Dr. Masham could gain no tidings of the object of his pursuit at
Southport: here, however, he ascertained that Plantagenet could not
have fled to London, for in those days public conveyances were rare.
There was only one coach that ran, or rather jogged, along this road,
and it went but once a week, it being expected that very night; while
the innkeeper was confident that so far as Southport was concerned,
his little lordship had not sought refuge in the waggon, which
was more frequent, though somewhat slower, in its progress to the
metropolis. Unwilling to return home, although the evening was now
drawing in, the Doctor resolved to proceed to a considerable town
about twelve miles further, which Cadurcis might have reached by a
cross road; so drawing his cloak around him, looking to his pistols,
and desiring his servant to follow his example, the stout-hearted
Rector of Marringhurst pursued his way.

It was dark when the Doctor entered the town, and he proceeded
immediately to the inn where the coach was expected, with some faint
hope that the fugitive might be discovered abiding within its walls;
but, to all his inquiries about young gentlemen and ponies, he
received very unsatisfactory answers; so, reconciling himself as well
as he could to the disagreeable posture of affairs, he settled himself
in the parlour of the inn, with a good fire, and, lighting his pipe,
desired his servant to keep a sharp look-out.

In due time a great uproar in the inn-yard announced the arrival of
the stage, an unwieldy machine, carrying six inside, and dragged by as
many horses. The Doctor, opening the door of his apartment, which
led on to a gallery that ran round the inn-yard, leaned over the
balustrade with his pipe in his mouth, and watched proceedings. It so
happened that the stage was to discharge one of its passengers at this
town, who had come from the north, and the Doctor recognised in him a
neighbour and brother magistrate, one Squire Mountmeadow, an important
personage in his way, the terror of poachers, and somewhat of an
oracle on the bench, as it was said that he could take a deposition
without the assistance of his clerk. Although, in spite of the
ostler's lanterns, it was very dark, it was impossible ever to be
unaware of the arrival of Squire Mountmeadow; for he was one of those
great men who take care to remind the world of their dignity by the
attention which they require on every occasion.

'Coachman!' said the authoritative voice of the Squire. 'Where is the
coachman? Oh! you are there, sir, are you? Postilion! Where is the
postilion? Oh! you are there, sir, are you? Host! Where is the host?
Oh! you are there, sir, are you? Waiter! Where is the waiter? I say
where is the waiter?'

'Coming, please your worship!'

'How long am I to wait? Oh! you are there, sir, are you? Coachman!'

'Your worship!'

'Postilion!'

'Yes, your worship!'

'Host!'

'Your worship's servant!'

'Waiter!'

'Your worship's honour's humble servant!'

'I am going to alight!'

All four attendants immediately bowed, and extended their arms to
assist this very great man; but Squire Mountmeadow, scarcely deigning
to avail himself of their proffered assistance, and pausing on each
step, looking around him with his long, lean, solemn visage, finally
reached terra firma in safety, and slowly stretched his tall, ungainly
figure. It was at this moment that Dr. Masham's servant approached
him, and informed his worship that his master was at the inn, and
would be happy to see him. The countenance of the great Mountmeadow
relaxed at the mention of the name of a brother magistrate, and in an
audible voice he bade the groom 'tell my worthy friend, his worship,
your worthy master, that I shall be rejoiced to pay my respects to an
esteemed neighbour and a brother magistrate.'

With slow and solemn steps, preceded by the host, and followed by the
waiter, Squire Mountmeadow ascended the staircase of the external
gallery, pausing occasionally, and looking around him with thoughtful
importance, and making an occasional inquiry as to the state of the
town and neighbourhood during his absence, in this fashion: 'Stop!
where are you, host? Oh! you are there, sir, are you? Well, Mr. Host,
and how have we been? orderly, eh?'

'Quite orderly, your worship.'

'Hoh! Orderly! Hem! Well, very well! Never easy, if absent only
four-and-twenty hours. The law must be obeyed.'

'Yes, your worship.'

'Lead on, sir. And, waiter; where are you, waiter? Oh, you are there,
sir, are you? And so my brother magistrate is here?'

'Yes, your honour's worship.'

'Hem! What can he want? something in the wind; wants my advice, I dare
say; shall have it. Soldiers ruly; king's servants; must be obeyed.'

'Yes, your worship; quite ruly, your worship,' said the host.

'As obliging and obstreperous as can be,' said the waiter.

'Well, very well;' and here the Squire had gained the gallery, where
the Doctor was ready to receive him.

'It always gives me pleasure to meet a brother magistrate,' said
Squire Mountmeadow, bowing with cordial condescension; 'and a
gentleman of your cloth, too. The clergy must be respected; I stand or
fall by the Church. After you, Doctor, after you.' So saying, the two
magistrates entered the room.

'An unexpected pleasure, Doctor,' said the Squire; 'and what brings
your worship to town?'

'A somewhat strange business,' said the Doctor; 'and indeed I am not a
little glad to have the advantage of your advice and assistance.'

'Hem! I thought so,' said the Squire; 'your worship is very
complimentary. What is the case? Larceny?'

'Nay, my good sir, 'tis a singular affair; and, if you please, we will
order supper first, and discuss it afterwards. 'Tis for your private
ear.'

'Oh! ho!' said the Squire, looking very mysterious and important.
'With your worship's permission,' he added, filling a pipe.

The host was no laggard in waiting on two such important guests. The
brother magistrates despatched their rump-steak; the foaming tankard
was replenished; the fire renovated. At length, the table and the room
being alike clear, Squire Mountmeadow drew a long puff, and said, 'Now
for business, Doctor.'

His companion then informed him of the exact object of his visit, and
narrated to him so much of the preceding incidents as was necessary.
The Squire listened in solemn silence, elevating his eyebrows, nodding
his head, trimming his pipe, with profound interjections; and finally,
being appealed to for his opinion by the Doctor, delivered himself of
a most portentous 'Hem!'

'I question, Doctor,' said the Squire, 'whether we should not
communicate with the Secretary of State. 'Tis no ordinary business.
'Tis a spiriting away of a Peer of the realm. It smacks of treason.'

'Egad!' said the Doctor, suppressing a smile, 'I think we can hardly
make a truant boy a Cabinet question.'

The Squire glanced a look of pity at his companion. 'Prove the
truancy, Doctor; prove it. 'Tis a case of disappearance; and how do we
know that there is not a Jesuit at the bottom of it?'

'There is something in that,' said the Doctor.

'There is everything in it,' said the Squire, triumphantly. 'We must
offer rewards; we must raise the posse comitatus.'

'For the sake of the family, I would make as little stir as
necessary,' said Dr. Masham.

'For the sake of the family!' said the Squire. 'Think of the nation,
sir! For the sake of the nation we must make as much stir as possible.
'Tis a Secretary of State's business; 'tis a case for a general
warrant.'

'He is a well-meaning lad enough,' said the Doctor.

'Ay, and therefore more easily played upon,' said the Squire. 'Rome is
at the bottom of it, brother Masham, and I am surprised that a good
Protestant like yourself, one of the King's Justices of the Peace, and
a Doctor of Divinity to boot, should doubt the fact for an instant.'

'We have not heard much of the Jesuits of late years,' said the
Doctor.

'The very reason that they are more active,' said the Squire.

'An only child!' said Dr. Masham.

'A Peer of the realm!' said Squire Mountmeadow.

'I should think he must be in the neighbourhood.'

'More likely at St. Omer's.'

'They would scarely take him to the plantations with this war?'

'Let us drink "Confusion to the rebels!"' said the Squire. 'Any news?'

'Howe sails this week,' said the Doctor.

'May he burn Boston!' said the Squire.

'I would rather he would reduce it, without such extremities,' said
Dr. Masham.

'Nothing is to be done without extremities,' said Squire Mountmeadow.

'But this poor child?' said the Doctor, leading back the conversation.
'What can we do?'

'The law of the case is clear,' said the Squire; 'we must move a
habeas corpus.'

'But shall we be nearer getting him for that?' inquired the Doctor.

'Perhaps not, sir; but 'tis the regular way. We must proceed by rule.'

'I am sadly distressed,' said Dr. Masham. 'The worst is, he has gained
such a start upon us; and yet he can hardly have gone to London; he
would have been recognised here or at Southport.'

'With his hair cropped, and in a Jesuit's cap?' inquired the Squire,
with a slight sneer. 'Ah! Doctor, Doctor, you know not the gentry you
have to deal with!'

'We must hope,' said Dr. Masham. 'To-morrow we must organise some
general search.'

'I fear it will be of no use,' said the Squire, replenishing his pipe.
'These Jesuits are deep fellows.'

'But we are not sure about the Jesuits, Squire.'

'I am,' said the Squire; 'the case is clear, and the sooner you break
it to his mother the better. You asked me for my advice, and I give it
you.'



CHAPTER XVI.


It was on the following morning, as the Doctor was under the operation
of the barber, that his groom ran into the room with a pale face and
agitated air, and exclaimed,

'Oh! master, master, what do you think? Here is a man in the yard with
my lord's pony.'

'Stop him, Peter,' exclaimed the Doctor. 'No! watch him, watch him;
send for a constable. Are you certain 'tis the pony?'

'I could swear to it out of a thousand,' said Peter.

'There, never mind my beard, my good man,' said the Doctor. 'There is
no time for appearances. Here is a robbery, at least; God grant no
worse. Peter, my boots!' So saying, the Doctor, half equipped, and
followed by Peter and the barber, went forth on the gallery. 'Where is
he?' said the Doctor.

'He is down below, talking to the ostler, and trying to sell the
pony,' said Peter.

'There is no time to lose,' said the Doctor; 'follow me, like true
men:' and the Doctor ran downstairs in his silk nightcap, for his wig
was not yet prepared.

'There he is,' said Peter; and true enough there was a man in a
smock-frock and mounted on the very pony which Lady Annabel had
presented to Plantagenet.

'Seize this man in the King's name,' said the Doctor, hastily
advancing to him. 'Ostler, do your duty; Peter, be firm. I charge you
all; I am a justice of the peace. I charge you arrest this man.'

The man seemed very much astonished; but he was composed, and offered
no resistance. He was dressed like a small farmer, in top-boots and a
smock-frock. His hat was rather jauntily placed on his curly red hair.

'Why am I seized?' at length said the man.

'Where did you get that pony?' said the Doctor.

'I bought it,' was the reply.

'Of whom?'

'A stranger at market.'

'You are accused of robbery, and suspected of murder,' said Dr.
Masham. 'Mr. Constable,' said the Doctor, turning to that functionary,
who had now arrived, 'handcuff this man, and keep him in strict
custody until further orders.'

The report that a man was arrested for robbery, and suspected of
murder, at the Red Dragon, spread like wildfire through the town;
and the inn-yard was soon crowded with the curious and excited
inhabitants.

Peter and the barber, to whom he had communicated everything, were
well qualified to do justice to the important information of which
they were the sole depositaries; the tale lost nothing by their
telling; and a circumstantial narrative of the robbery and murder of
no less a personage than Lord Cadurcis, of Cadurcis Abbey, was soon
generally prevalent.

The stranger was secured in a stable, before which the constable kept
guard; mine host, and the waiter, and the ostlers acted as a sort of
supernumerary police, to repress the multitude; while Peter held the
real pony by the bridle, whose identity, which he frequently attested,
was considered by all present as an incontrovertible evidence of the
commission of the crime.

In the meantime Dr. Masham, really agitated, roused his brother
magistrate, and communicated to his worship the important discovery.
The Squire fell into a solemn flutter. 'We must be regular, brother
Masham; we must proceed by rule; we are a bench in ourselves. Would
that my clerk were here! We must send for Signsealer forthwith. I will
not decide without the statutes. The law must be consulted, and it
must be obeyed. The fellow hath not brought my wig. 'Tis a case of
murder no doubt. A Peer of the realm murdered! You must break the
intelligence to his surviving parent, and I will communicate to the
Secretary of State. Can the body be found? That will prove the murder.
Unless the body be found, the murder will not be proved, save
the villain confess, which he will not do unless he hath sudden
compunctions. I have known sudden compunctions go a great way. We had
a case before our bench last month; there was no evidence. It was not
a case of murder; it was of woodcutting; there was no evidence; but
the defendant had compunctions. Oh! here is my wig. We must send for
Signsealer. He is clerk to our bench, and he must bring the statutes.
'Tis not simple murder this; it involves petty treason.'

By this time his worship had completed his toilet, and he and his
colleague took their way to the parlour they had inhabited the
preceding evening. Mr. Signsealer was in attendance, much to the real,
though concealed, satisfaction of Squire Mountmeadow. Their worships
were seated like two consuls before the table, which Mr. Signsealer
had duly arranged with writing materials and various piles of
calf-bound volumes. Squire Mountmeadow then, arranging his
countenance, announced that the bench was prepared, and mine host was
instructed forthwith to summon the constable and his charge, together
with Peter and the ostler as witnesses. There was a rush among some of
the crowd who were nighest the scene to follow the prisoner into the
room; and, sooth to say, the great Mountmeadow was much too enamoured
of his own self-importance to be by any means a patron of close courts
and private hearings; but then, though he loved his power to be
witnessed, he was equally desirous that his person should be
reverenced. It was his boast that he could keep a court of quarter
sessions as quiet as a church; and now, when the crowd rushed in with
all those sounds of tumult incidental to such a movement, it required
only Mountmeadow slowly to rise, and drawing himself up to the full
height of his gaunt figure, to knit his severe brow, and throw one
of his peculiar looks around the chamber, to insure a most awful
stillness. Instantly everything was so hushed, that you might have
heard Signsealer nib his pen.

The witnesses were sworn; Peter proved that the pony belonged to Lord
Cadurcis, and that his lordship had been missing from home for several
days, and was believed to have quitted the abbey on this identical
pony. Dr. Masham was ready, if necessary, to confirm this evidence.
The accused adhered to his first account, that he had purchased the
animal the day before at a neighbouring fair, and doggedly declined to
answer any cross-examination. Squire Mountmeadow looked alike pompous
and puzzled; whispered to the Doctor; and then shook his head at Mr.
Signsealer.

'I doubt whether there be satisfactory evidence of the murder, brother
Masham,' said the Squire; 'what shall be our next step?'

'There is enough evidence to keep this fellow in custody,' said the
Doctor. 'We must remand him, and make inquiries at the market town.
I shall proceed there immediately, He is a strange-looking fellow,'
added the Doctor: 'were it not for his carroty locks, I should
scarcely take him for a native.'

'Hem!' said the Squire, 'I have my suspicions. Fellow,' continued his
worship, in an awful tone, 'you say that you are a stranger, and that
your name is Morgan; very suspicious all this: you have no one to
speak to your character or station, and you are found in possession of
stolen goods. The bench will remand you for the present, and will at
any rate commit you for trial for the robbery. But here is a Peer of
the realm missing, fellow, and you are most grievously suspected of
being concerned in his spiriting away, or even murder. You are upon
tender ground, prisoner; 'tis a case verging on petty treason, if not
petty treason itself. Eh! Mr. Signsealer? Thus runs the law, as I take
it? Prisoner, it would be well for you to consider your situation.
Have you no compunctions? Compunctions might save you, if not a
principal offender. It is your duty to assist the bench in executing
justice. The Crown is merciful; you may be king's evidence.'

Mr. Signsealer whispered the bench; he proposed that the prisoner's
hat should be examined, as the name of its maker might afford a clue
to his residence.

'True, true, Mr. Clerk,' said Squire Mountmeadow, 'I am coming to
that. 'Tis a sound practice; I have known such a circumstance lead to
great disclosures. But we must proceed in order. Order is everything.
Constable, take the prisoner's hat off.'

The constable took the hat off somewhat rudely; so rudely, indeed,
that the carroty locks came off in company with it, and revealed a
profusion of long plaited hair, which had been adroitly twisted under
the wig, more in character with the countenance than its previous
covering.

'A Jesuit, after all!' exclaimed the Squire.

'A gipsy, as it seems to me,' whispered the Doctor.

'Still worse,' said the Squire.

'Silence in the Court!' exclaimed the awful voice of Squire
Mountmeadow, for the excitement of the audience was considerable.
The disguise was generally esteemed as incontestable evidence of the
murder. 'Silence, or I will order the Court to be cleared. Constable,
proclaim silence. This is an awful business,' added the Squire, with a
very long face. 'Brother Masham, we must do our duty; but this is an
awful business. At any rate we must try to discover the body. A Peer
of the realm must not be suffered to lie murdered in a ditch. He must
have Christian burial, if possible, in the vaults of his ancestors.'

When Morgana, for it was indeed he, observed the course affairs were
taking, and ascertained that his detention under present circumstances
was inevitable, he relaxed from his doggedness, and expressed a
willingness to make a communication to the bench. Squire Mountmeadow
lifted up his eyes to Heaven, as if entreating the interposition of
Providence to guide him in his course; then turned to his brother
magistrate, and then nodded to the clerk.

'He has compunctions, brother Masham,' said his worship: 'I told you
so; he has compunctions. Trust me to deal with these fellows. He knew
not his perilous situation; the hint of petty treason staggered him.
Mr. Clerk, take down the prisoner's confession; the Court must be
cleared; constable, clear the Court. Let a stout man stand on each
side of the prisoner, to protect the bench. The magistracy of England
will never shrink from doing their duty, but they must be protected.
Now, prisoner, the bench is ready to hear your confession. Conceal
nothing, and if you were not a principal in the murder, or an
accessory before the fact; eh, Mr. Clerk, thus runs the law, as I take
it? there may be mercy; at any rate, if you be hanged, you will have
the satisfaction of having cheerfully made the only atonement to
society in your power.'

'Hanging be damned!' said Morgana.

Squire Mountmeadow started from his seat, his cheeks distended with
rage, his dull eyes for once flashing fire. 'Did you ever witness such
atrocity, brother Masham?' exclaimed his worship. 'Did you hear the
villain? I'll teach him to respect the bench. I'll fine him before he
is executed, that I will!'

'The young gentleman to whom this pony belongs,' continued the gipsy,
'may or may not be a lord. I never asked him his name, and he never
told it me; but he sought hospitality of me and my people, and we gave
it him, and he lives with us, of his own free choice. The pony is of
no use to him now, and so I came to sell it for our common good.'

'A Peer of the realm turned gipsy!' exclaimed the Squire. 'A very
likely tale! I'll teach you to come here and tell your cock-and-bull
stories to two of his majesty's justices of the peace. 'Tis a flat
case of robbery and murder, and I venture to say something else. You
shall go to gaol directly, and the Lord have mercy on your soul!'

'Nay,' said the gipsy, appealing to Dr. Marsham; 'you, sir, appear to
be a friend of this youth. You will not regain him by sending me to
gaol. Load me, if you will, with irons; surround me with armed men,
but at least give me the opportunity of proving the truth of what I
say. I offer in two hours to produce to you the youth, and you shall
find he is living with my people in content and peace.'

'Content and fiddlestick!' said the Squire, in a rage.

'Brother Mountmeadow,' said the Doctor, in a low tone, to his
colleague, 'I have private duties to perform to this family. Pardon
me if, with all deference to your sounder judgment and greater
experience, I myself accept the prisoner's offer.'

'Brother Masham, you are one of his majesty's justices of the peace,
you are a brother magistrate, and you are a Doctor of Divinity; you
owe a duty to your country, and you owe a duty to yourself. Is it
wise, is it decorous, that one of the Quorum should go a-gipsying?
Is it possible that you can credit this preposterous tale? Brother
Masham, there will be a rescue, or my name is not Mountmeadow.'

In spite, however, of all these solemn warnings, the good Doctor, who
was not altogether unaware of the character of his pupil, and could
comprehend that it was very possible the statement of the gipsy might
be genuine, continued without very much offending his colleague, who
looked upon, his conduct indeed rather with pity than resentment,
to accept the offer of Morgana; and consequently, well-secured and
guarded, and preceding the Doctor, who rode behind the cart with his
servant, the gipsy soon sallied forth from the inn-yard, and requested
the driver to guide his course in the direction of the forest.



CHAPTER XVII.


It was the afternoon of the third day after the arrival of Cadurcis at
the gipsy encampment, and nothing had yet occurred to make him repent
his flight from the abbey, and the choice of life he had made. He had
experienced nothing but kindness and hospitality, while the beautiful
Beruna seemed quite content to pass her life in studying his
amusement. The weather, too, had been extremely favourable to his new
mode of existence; and stretched at his length upon the rich turf,
with his head on Beruna's lap, and his eyes fixed upon the rich forest
foliage glowing in the autumnal sunset, Plantagenet only wondered
that he could have endured for so many years the shackles of his
common-place home.

His companions were awaiting the return of their leader, Morgana,
who had been absent since the preceding day, and who had departed on
Plantagenet's pony. Most of them were lounging or strolling in the
vicinity of their tents; the children were playing; the old woman was
cooking at the fire; and altogether, save that the hour was not so
late, the scene presented much the same aspect as when Cadurcis had
first beheld it. As for his present occupation, Beruna was giving him
a lesson in the gipsy language, which he was acquiring with a rapid
facility, which quite exceeded all his previous efforts in such
acquisitions.

Suddenly a scout sang out that a party was in sight. The men instantly
disappeared; the women were on the alert; and one ran forward as a
spy, on pretence of telling fortunes. This bright-eyed professor of
palmistry soon, however, returned running, and out of breath, yet
chatting all the time with inconceivable rapidity, and accompanying
the startling communication she was evidently making with the most
animated gestures. Beruna started up, and, leaving the astonished
Cadurcis, joined them. She seemed alarmed. Cadurcis was soon convinced
there was consternation in the camp.

Suddenly a horseman galloped up, and was immediately followed by a
companion. They called out, as if encouraging followers, and one of
them immediately galloped away again, as if to detail the results
of their reconnaissance. Before Cadurcis could well rise and make
inquiries as to what was going on, a light cart, containing several
men, drove up, and in it, a prisoner, he detected Morgana. The
branches of the trees concealed for a moment two other horsemen
who followed the cart; but Cadurcis, to his infinite alarm and
mortification, soon recognised Dr. Masham and Peter.

When the gipsies found their leader was captive, they no longer
attempted to conceal themselves; they all came forward, and would have
clustered round the cart, had not the riders, as well as those who
more immediately guarded the prisoner, prevented them. Morgana spoke
some words in a loud voice to the gipsies, and they immediately
appeared less agitated; then turning to Dr. Masham, he said in
English, 'Behold your child!'

Instantly two gipsy men seized Cadurcis, and led him to the Doctor.

'How now, my lord!' said the worthy Rector, in a stern voice, 'is this
your duty to your mother and your friends?'

Cadurcis looked down, but rather dogged than ashamed.

'You have brought an innocent man into great peril,' continued the
Doctor. 'This person, no longer a prisoner, has been arrested on
suspicion of robbery, and even murder, through your freak. Morgana, or
whatever your name may be, here is some reward for your treatment of
this child, and some compensation for your detention. Mount your pony,
Lord Cadurcis, and return to your home with me.'

'This is my home, sir,' said Plantagenet.

'Lord Cadurcis, this childish nonsense must cease; it has already
endangered the life of your mother, nor can I answer for her safety,
if you lose a moment in returning.'

'Child, you must return,' said Morgana.

'Child!' said Plantagenet, and he walked some steps away, and leant
against a tree. 'You promised that I should remain,' said he,
addressing himself reproachfully to Morgana.

'You are not your own master,' said the gipsy; 'your remaining here
will only endanger and disturb us. Fortunately we have nothing to fear
from laws we have never outraged; but had there been a judge less wise
and gentle than the master here, our peaceful family might have been
all harassed and hunted to the very death.'

He waved his hand, and addressed some words to his tribe, whereupon
two brawny fellows seized Cadurcis, and placed him again, in spite of
his struggling, upon his pony, with the same irresistible facility
with which they had a few nights before dismounted him. The little
lord looked very sulky, but his position was beginning to get
ludicrous. Morgana, pocketing his five guineas, leaped over the side
of the cart, and offered to guide the Doctor and his attendants
through the forest. They moved on accordingly. It was the work of an
instant, and Cadurcis suddenly found himself returning home between
the Rector and Peter. Not a word, however, escaped his lips; once only
he moved; the light branch of a tree, aimed with delicate precision,
touched his back; he looked round; it was Beruna. She kissed her hand
to him, and a tear stole down his pale, sullen cheek, as, taking from
his breast his handkerchief, he threw it behind him, unperceived, that
she might pick it up, and keep it for his sake.

After proceeding two or three miles under the guidance of Morgana, the
equestrians gained the road, though it still ran through the forest.
Here the Doctor dismissed the gipsy-man, with whom he had occasionally
conversed during their progress; but not a sound ever escaped from the
mouth of Cadurcis, or rather, the captive, who was now substituted in
Morgana's stead. The Doctor, now addressing himself to Plantagenet,
informed him that it was of importance that they should make the best
of their way, and so he put spurs to his mare, and Cadurcis sullenly
complied with the intimation. At this rate, in the course of little
more than another hour, they arrived in sight of the demesne of
Cadurcis, where they pulled up their steeds.

They entered the park, they approached the portal of the abbey; at
length they dismounted. Their coming was announced by a servant, who
had recognised his lord at a distance, and had ran on before with the
tidings. When they entered the abbey, they were met by Lady Annabel in
the cloisters; her countenance was very serious. She shook hands with
Dr. Masham, but did not speak, and immediately led him aside. Cadurcis
remained standing in the very spot where Doctor Masham left him, as if
he were quite a stranger in the place, and was no longer master of
his own conduct. Suddenly Doctor Masham, who was at the end of the
cloister, while Lady Annabel was mounting the staircase, looked round
with a pale face, and said in an agitated voice, 'Lord Cadurcis, Lady
Annabel wishes to speak to you in the saloon.'

Cadurcis immediately, but slowly, repaired to the saloon. Lady Annabel
was walking up and down in it. She seemed greatly disturbed. When she
saw him, she put her arm round his neck affectionately, and said in
a low voice, 'My dearest Plantagenet, it has devolved upon me to
communicate to you some distressing intelligence.' Her voice faltered,
and the tears stole down her cheek.

'My mother, then, is dangerously ill?' he inquired in a calm but
softened tone.

'It is even sadder news than that, dear child.'

Cadurcis looked about him wildly, and then with an inquiring glance at
Lady Annabel:

'There can be but one thing worse than that,' he at length said.

'What if it have happened?' said Lady Annabel.

He threw himself into a chair, and covered his face with his hands.
After a few minutes he looked up and said, in a low but distinct
voice, 'It is too terrible to think of; it is too terrible to mention;
but, if it have happened, let me be alone.'

Lady Annabel approached him with a light step; she embraced him, and,
whispering that she should be found in the next room, she quitted the
apartment.

Cadurcis remained seated for more than half an hour without changing
in the slightest degree his position. The twilight died away; it grew
quite dark; he looked up with a slight shiver, and then quitted the
apartment.

In the adjoining room, Lady Annabel was seated with Doctor Masham,
and giving him the details of the fatal event. It had occurred that
morning. Mrs. Cadurcis, who had never slept a wink since her knowledge
of her son's undoubted departure, and scarcely for an hour been free
from violent epileptic fits, had fallen early in the morning into a
doze, which lasted about half an hour, and from which her medical
attendant, who with Pauncefort had sat up with her during the night,
augured the most favourable consequences. About half-past six o'clock
she woke, and inquired whether Plantagenet had returned. They answered
her that Doctor Masham had not yet arrived, but would probably be at
the abbey in the course of the morning. She said it would be too late.
They endeavoured to encourage her, but she asked to see Lady Annabel,
who was immediately called, and lost no time in repairing to her. When
Mrs. Cadurcis recognised her, she held out her hand, and said in a
dying tone, 'It was my fault; it was ever my fault; it is too late
now; let him find a mother in you.' She never spoke again, and in the
course of an hour expired.

While Lady Annabel and the Doctor were dwelling on these sad
circumstances, and debating whether he should venture to approach
Plantagenet, and attempt to console him, for the evening was now
far advanced, and nearly three hours had elapsed since the fatal
communication had been made to him, it happened that Mistress
Pauncefort chanced to pass Mrs. Cadurcis' room, and as she did so she
heard some one violently sobbing. She listened, and hearing the sounds
frequently repeated, she entered the room, which, but for her candle,
would have been quite dark, and there she found Lord Cadurcis kneeling
and weeping by his mother's bedside. He seemed annoyed at being seen
and disturbed, but his spirit was too broken to murmur. 'La! my lord,'
said Mistress Pauncefort, 'you must not take on so; you must not
indeed. I am sure this dark room is enough to put any one in low
spirits. Now do go downstairs, and sit with my lady and the Doctor,
and try to be cheerful; that is a dear good young gentleman. I wish
Miss Venetia were here, and then she would amuse you. But you must not
take on, because there is no use in it. You must exert yourself, for
what is done cannot be undone; and, as the Doctor told us last Sunday,
we must all die; and well for those who die with a good conscience;
and I am sure the poor dear lady that is gone must have had a good
conscience, because she had a good heart, and I never heard any one
say the contrary. Now do exert yourself, my dear lord, and try to be
cheerful, do; for there is nothing like a little exertion in these
cases, for God's will must be done, and it is not for us to say yea or
nay, and taking on is a murmuring against God's providence.' And so
Mistress Pauncefort would have continued urging the usual topics of
coarse and common-place consolation; but Cadurcis only answered with a
sigh that came from the bottom of his heart, and said with streaming
eyes, 'Ah! Mrs. Pauncefort, God had only given me one friend in this
world, and there she lies.'



CHAPTER XVIII.


The first conviction that there is death in the house is perhaps the
most awful moment of youth. When we are young, we think that not only
ourselves, but that all about us, are immortal. Until the arrow has
struck a victim round our own hearth, death is merely an unmeaning
word; until then, its casual mention has stamped no idea upon our
brain. There are few, even among those least susceptible of thought
and emotion, in whose hearts and minds the first death in the family
does not act as a powerful revelation of the mysteries of life, and of
their own being; there are few who, after such a catastrophe, do not
look upon the world and the world's ways, at least for a time, with
changed and tempered feelings. It recalls the past; it makes us ponder
over the future; and youth, gay and light-hearted youth, is taught,
for the first time, to regret and to fear.

On Cadurcis, a child of pensive temperament, and in whose strange
and yet undeveloped character there was, amid lighter elements, a
constitutional principle of melancholy, the sudden decease of his
mother produced a profound effect. All was forgotten of his parent,
except the intimate and natural tie, and her warm and genuine
affection. He was now alone in the world; for reflection impressed
upon him at this moment what the course of existence too generally
teaches to us all, that mournful truth, that, after all, we have no
friends that we can depend upon in this life but our parents. All
other intimacies, however ardent, are liable to cool; all other
confidence, however unlimited, to be violated. In the phantasmagoria
of life, the friend with whom we have cultivated mutual trust for
years is often suddenly or gradually estranged from us, or becomes,
from, painful, yet irresistible circumstances, even our deadliest foe.
As for women, as for the mistresses of our hearts, who has not learnt
that the links of passion are fragile as they are glittering; and
that the bosom on which we have reposed with idolatry all our secret
sorrows and sanguine hopes, eventually becomes the very heart that
exults in our misery and baffles our welfare? Where is the enamoured
face that smiled upon our early love, and was to shed tears over our
grave? Where are the choice companions of our youth, with whom we were
to breast the difficulties and share the triumphs of existence? Even
in this inconstant world, what changes like the heart? Love is a
dream, and friendship a delusion. No wonder we grow callous; for how
few have the opportunity of returning to the hearth which they quitted
in levity or thoughtless weariness, yet which alone is faithful to
them; whose sweet affections require not the stimulus of prosperity
or fame, the lure of accomplishments, or the tribute of flattery; but
which are constant to us in distress, and console us even in disgrace!

Before she retired for the night, Lady Annabel was anxious to see
Plantagenet. Mistress Pauncefort had informed her of his visit to
his mother's room. Lady Annabel found Cadurcis in the gallery, now
partially lighted by the moon which had recently risen. She entered
with her light, as if she were on her way to her own room, and not
seeking him.

'Dear Plantagenet,' she said, 'will you not go to bed?'

'I do not intend to go to bed to-night,' he replied.

She approached him and took him by the hand, which he did not withdraw
from her, and they walked together once or twice up and down the
gallery.

'I think, dear child,' said Lady Annabel, 'you had better come and sit
with us.'

'I like to be alone,' was his answer; but not in a sullen voice, low
and faltering.

'But in sorrow we should be with our friends,' said Lady Annabel.

'I have no friends,' he answered. 'I only had one.'

'I am your friend, dear child; I am your mother now, and you shall
find me one if you like. And Venetia, have you forgotten your sister?
Is she not your friend? And Dr. Masham, surely you cannot doubt his
friendship?'

Cadurcis tried to stifle a sob. 'Ay, Lady Annabel,' he said, 'you are
my friend now, and so are you all; and you know I love you much. But
you were not my friends two years ago; and things will change again;
they will, indeed. A mother is your friend as long as she lives; she
cannot help being your friend.'

'You shall come to Cherbury and live with us,' said Lady Annabel.' You
know you love Cherbury, and you shall find it a home, a real home.'

He pressed her hand to his lips; the hand was covered with his tears.

'We will go to Cherbury to-morrow, dear Plantagenet; remaining here
will only make you sad.'

'I will never leave Cadurcis again while my mother is in this house,'
he said, in a firm and serious voice. And then, after a moment's
pause, he added, 'I wish to know when the burial is to take place.'

'We will ask Dr. Masham,' replied Lady Annabel. 'Come, let us go to
him; come, my own child.'

He permitted himself to be led away. They descended to the small
apartment where Lady Annabel had been previously sitting. They found
the Doctor there; he rose and pressed Plantagenet's hand with great
emotion. They made room for him at the fire between them; he sat in
silence, with his gaze intently fixed upon the decaying embers,
yet did not quit his hold of Lady Annabel's hand. He found it a
consolation to him; it linked him to a being who seemed to love him.
As long as he held her hand he did not seem quite alone in the world.

Now nobody spoke; for Lady Annabel felt that Cadurcis was in some
degree solaced; and she thought it unwise to interrupt the more
composed train of his thoughts. It was, indeed, Plantagenet himself
who first broke silence.

'I do not think I can go to bed, Lady Annabel,' he said. 'The thought
of this night is terrible to me. I do not think it ever can end. I
would much sooner sit up in this room.'

'Nay! my child, sleep is a great consoler; try to go to bed, love.'

'I should like to sleep in my mother's room,' was his strange reply.
'It seems to me that I could sleep there. And if I woke in the night,
I should like to see her.'

Lady Annabel and the Doctor exchanged looks.

'I think,' said the Doctor, 'you had better sleep in my room, and
then, if you wake in the night, you will have some one to speak to.
You will find that a comfort.'

'Yes, that you will,' said Lady Annabel. 'I will go and have the sofa
bed made up in the Doctor's room for you. Indeed that will be the very
best plan.'

So at last, but not without a struggle, they persuaded Cadurcis to
retire. Lady Annabel embraced him tenderly when she bade him good
night; and, indeed, he felt consoled by her affection.

As nothing could persuade Plantagenet to leave the abbey until his
mother was buried, Lady Annabel resolved to take up her abode there,
and she sent the next morning for Venetia. There were a great many
arrangements to make about the burial and the mourning; and Lady
Annabel and Dr. Masham were obliged, in consequence, to go the next
morning to Southport; but they delayed their departure until the
arrival of Venetia, that Cadurcis might not be left alone.

The meeting between himself and Venetia was a very sad one, and yet
her companionship was a great solace. Venetia urged every topic that
she fancied could reassure his spirits, and upon the happy home he
would find at Cherbury.

'Ah!' said Cadurcis, 'they will not leave me here; I am sure of that.
I think our happy days are over, Venetia.'

What mourner has not felt the magic of time? Before the funeral could
take place, Cadurcis had recovered somewhat of his usual cheerfulness,
and would indulge with Venetia in plans of their future life. And
living, as they all were, under the same roof, sharing the same
sorrows, participating in the same cares, and all about to wear the
same mournful emblems of their domestic calamity, it was difficult for
him to believe that he was indeed that desolate being he had at first
correctly estimated himself. Here were true friends, if such could
exist; here were fine sympathies, pure affections, innocent and
disinterested hearts! Every domestic tie yet remained perfect, except
the spell-bound tie of blood. That wanting, all was a bright and happy
vision, that might vanish in an instant, and for ever; that perfect,
even the least graceful, the most repulsive home, had its irresistible
charms; and its loss, when once experienced, might be mourned for
ever, and could never be restored.



CHAPTER XIX.


After the funeral of Mrs. Cadurcis, the family returned to Cherbury
with Plantagenet, who was hereafter to consider it his home. All that
the most tender solicitude could devise to reconcile him to the change
in his life was fulfilled by Lady Annabel and her daughter, and, under
their benignant influence, he soon regained his usual demeanour. His
days were now spent as in the earlier period of their acquaintance,
with the exception of those painful returns to home, which had once
been a source to him of so much gloom and unhappiness. He pursued his
studies as of old, and shared the amusements of Venetia. His allotted
room was ornamented by her drawings, and in the evenings they read
aloud by turns to Lady Annabel the volume which she selected. The
abbey he never visited again after his mother's funeral.

Some weeks had passed in this quiet and contented manner, when one
day Doctor Masham, who, since the death of his mother, had been
in correspondence with his guardian, received a letter from that
nobleman, to announce that he had made arrangements for sending his
ward to Eton, and to request that he would accordingly instantly
proceed to the metropolis. This announcement occasioned both Cadurcis
and Venetia poignant affliction. The idea of separation was to both
of them most painful; and although Lady Annabel herself was in
some degree prepared for an arrangement, which sooner or later she
considered inevitable, she was herself scarcely less distressed.
The good Doctor, in some degree to break the bitterness of parting,
proposed accompanying Plantagenet to London, and himself personally
delivering the charge, in whose welfare they were so much interested,
to his guardian. Nevertheless, it was a very sad affair, and the week
which was to intervene before his departure found both himself and
Venetia often in tears. They no longer took any delight in their
mutual studies but passed the day walking about and visiting old
haunts, and endeavouring to console each other for what they both
deemed a great calamity, and which was indeed, the only serious
misfortune Venetia had herself experienced in the whole course of her
serene career.

'But if I were really your brother,' said Plantagenet, 'I must have
quitted you the same, Venetia. Boys always go to school; and then we
shall be so happy when I return.'

'Oh! but we are so happy now, Plantagenet. I cannot believe that we
are going to part. And are you sure that you will return? Perhaps your
guardian will not let you, and will wish you to spend your holidays at
his house. His house will be your home now.'

It was impossible for a moment to forget the sorrow that was impending
over them. There were so many preparations to be made for his
departure, that every instant something occurred to remind them of
their sorrow. Venetia sat with tears in her eyes marking his new
pocket-handkerchiefs which they had all gone to Southport to purchase,
for Plantagenet asked, as a particular favour, that no one should mark
them but Venetia. Then Lady Annabel gave Plantagenet a writing-case,
and Venetia filled it with pens and paper, that he might never want
means to communicate with them; and her evenings were passed in
working him a purse, which Lady Annabel took care should be well
stocked. All day long there seemed something going on to remind them
of what was about to happen; and as for Pauncefort, she flounced in
and out the room fifty times a day, with 'What is to be done about my
lord's shirts, my lady? I think his lordship had better have another
dozen, your la'ship. Better too much than too little, I always say;'
or, 'O! my lady, your la'ship cannot form an idea of what a state my
lord's stockings are in, my lady. I think I had better go over to
Southport with John, my lady, and buy him some;' or, 'Please, my lady,
did I understand your la'ship spoke to the tailor on Thursday about
my lord's things? I suppose your la'ship knows my lord has got no
great-coat?'

Every one of these inquiries made Venetia's heart tremble. Then there
was the sad habit of dating every coming day by its distance from
the fatal one. There was the last day but four, and the last day
but three, and the last day but two. The last day but one at length
arrived; and at length, too, though it seemed incredible, the last day
itself.

Plantagenet and Venetia both rose very early, that they might make it
as long as possible. They sighed involuntarily when they met, and then
they went about to pay last visits to every creature and object of
which they had been so long fond. Plantagenet went to bid farewell
to the horses and adieu to the cows, and then walked down to the
woodman's cottage, and then to shake hands with the keeper. He would
not say 'Good-bye' to the household until the very last moment; and as
for Marmion, the bloodhound, he accompanied both of them so faithfully
in this melancholy ramble, and kept so close to both, that it was
useless to break the sad intelligence to him yet.

'I think now, Venetia, we have been to see everything,' said
Plantagenet, 'I shall see the peacocks at breakfast time. I wish Eton
was near Cherbury, and then I could come home on Sunday. I cannot bear
going to Cadurcis again, but I should like you to go once a week, and
try to keep up our garden, and look after everything, though there is
not much that will not take care of itself, except the garden. We made
that together, and I could not bear its being neglected.'

Venetia could not assure him that no wish of his should be neglected,
because she was weeping.

'I am glad the Doctor,' he continued, 'is going to take me to town.
I should be very wretched by myself. But he will put me in mind of
Cherbury, and we can talk together of Lady Annabel and you. Hark! the
bell rings; we must go to breakfast, the last breakfast but one.'

Lady Annabel endeavoured, by unusual good spirits, to cheer up her
little friends. She spoke of Plantagenet's speedy return so much as a
matter of course, and the pleasant things they were to do when he came
back, that she really succeeded in exciting a smile in Venetia's April
face, for she was smiling amid tears.

Although it was the last day, time hung heavily on their hands. After
breakfast they went over the house together; and Cadurcis, half with
genuine feeling, and half in a spirit of mockery of their sorrow, made
a speech to the inanimate walls, as if they were aware of his intended
departure. At length, in their progress, they passed the door of the
closed apartments, and here, holding Venetia's hand, he stopped, and,
with an expression of irresistible humour, making a low bow to them,
he said, very gravely, 'And good-bye rooms that I have never entered;
perhaps, before I come back, Venetia will find out what is locked up
in you!'

Dr. Masham arrived for dinner, and in a postchaise. The unusual
conveyance reminded them of the morrow very keenly. Venetia could not
bear to see the Doctor's portmanteau taken out and carried into the
hall. She had hopes, until then, that something would happen and
prevent all this misery. Cadurcis whispered her, 'I say, Venetia, do
not you wish this was winter?'

'Why, Plantagenet?'

'Because then we might have a good snowstorm, and be blocked up again
for a week.'

Venetia looked at the sky, but not a cloud was to be seen.

The Doctor was glad to warm himself at the hall-fire, for it was a
fresh autumnal afternoon.

'Are you cold, sir?' said Venetia, approaching him.

'I am, my little maiden,' said the Doctor.

'Do you think there is any chance of its snowing, Doctor Masham?'

'Snowing! my little maiden; what can you be thinking of?'

The dinner was rather gayer than might have been expected. The Doctor
was jocular, Lady Annabel lively, and Plantagenet excited by an
extraordinary glass of wine. Venetia alone remained dispirited. The
Doctor made mock speeches and proposed toasts, and told Plantagenet
that he must learn to make speeches too, or what would he do when
he was in the House of Lords? And then Plantagenet tried to make a
speech, and proposed Venetia's health; and then Venetia, who could not
bear to hear herself praised by him on such a day, the last day, burst
into tears. Her mother called her to her side and consoled her, and
Plantagenet jumped up and wiped her eyes with one of those very
pocket-handkerchiefs on which she had embroidered his cipher and
coronet with her own beautiful hair. Towards evening Plantagenet began
to experience the reaction of his artificial spirits. The Doctor had
fallen into a gentle slumber, Lady Annabel had quitted the room,
Venetia sat with her hand in Plantagenet's on a stool by the fireside.
Both were sad and silent. At last Venetia said, 'O Plantagenet, I
wish I were your real sister! Perhaps, when I see you again, you will
forget this,' and she turned the jewel that was suspended round her
neck, and showed him the inscription.

'I am sure when I see you-again, Venetia,' he replied, 'the only
difference will be, that I shall love you more than ever.'

'I hope so,' said Venetia.

'I am sure of it. Now remember what we are talking about. When we meet
again, we shall see which of us two will love each other the most.'

'O Plantagenet, I hope they will be kind to you at Eton.'

'I will make them.'

'And, whenever you are the least unhappy, you will write to us?'

'I shall never be unhappy about anything but being away from you. As
for the rest, I will make people respect me; I know what I am.'

'Because if they do not behave well to you, mamma could ask Dr. Masham
to go and see you, and they will attend to him; and I would ask him
too. I wonder,' she continued after a moment's pause, 'if you have
everything you want. I am quite sure the instant you are gone, we
shall remember something you ought to have; and then I shall be quite
brokenhearted.'

'I have got everything.'

'You said you wanted a large knife.'

'Yes! but I am going to buy one in London. Dr. Masham says he will
take me to a place where the finest knives in the world are to be
bought. It is a great thing to go to London with Dr. Masham.'

'I have never written your name in your Bible and Prayer-book. I will
do it this evening.'

'Lady Annabel is to write it in the Bible, and you are to write it in
the Prayer-book.'

'You are to write to us from London by Dr. Masham, if only a line.'

'I shall not fail.'

'Never mind about your handwriting; but mind you write.'

At this moment Lady Annabel's step was heard, and Plantagenet said,
'Give me a kiss, Venetia, for I do not mean to bid good-bye to-night.'

'But you will not go to-morrow before we are up?'

'Yes, we shall.'

'Now, Plantagenet, I shall be up to bid you good-bye, mind that'

Lady Annabel entered, the Doctor woke, lights followed, the servant
made up the fire, and the room looked cheerful again. After tea,
the names were duly written in the Bible and Prayer-book; the last
arrangements were made, all the baggage was brought down into the
hall, all ransacked their memory and fancy, to see if it were possible
that anything that Plantagenet could require was either forgotten
or had been omitted. The clock struck ten; Lady Annabel rose. The
travellers were to part at an early hour: she shook hands with Dr.
Masham, but Cadurcis was to bid her farewell in her dressing-room, and
then, with heavy hearts and glistening eyes, they all separated. And
thus ended the last day!



CHAPTER XX.


Venetia passed a restless night. She was so resolved to be awake in
time for Plantagenet's departure, that she could not sleep; and at
length, towards morning, fell, from exhaustion, into a light slumber,
from which she sprang up convulsively, roused by the sound of the
wheels of the postchaise. She looked out of her window, and saw the
servant strapping on the portmanteaus. Shortly after this she heard
Plantagenet's step in the vestibule; he passed her room, and proceeded
to her mother's dressing-room, at the door of which she heard him
knock, and then there was silence.

'You are in good time,' said Lady Annabel, who was seated in an easy
chair when Plantagenet entered her room. 'Is the Doctor up?'

'He is breakfasting.'

'And have you breakfasted?'

'I have no appetite.'

'You should take something, my child, before you go. Now, come hither,
my dear Plantagenet,' she said, extending her hand; 'listen to me, one
word. When you arrive in London, you will go to your guardian's. He
is a great man, and I believe a very good one, and the law and your
father's will have placed him in the position of a parent to you. You
must therefore love, honour, and obey him; and I doubt not he will
deserve all your affection, respect, and duty. Whatever he desires or
counsels you will perform, and follow. So long as you act according to
his wishes, you cannot be wrong. But, my dear Plantagenet, if by any
chance it ever happens, for strange things sometimes happen in this
world, that you are in trouble and require a friend, remember that
Cherbury is also your home; the home of your heart, if not of the law;
and that not merely from my own love for you, but because I promised
your poor mother on her death-bed, I esteem myself morally, although
not legally, in the light of a parent to you. You will find Eton a
great change; you will experience many trials and temptations; but you
will triumph over and withstand them all, if you will attend to these
few directions. Fear God; morning and night let nothing induce you
ever to omit your prayers to Him; you will find that praying will
make you happy. Obey your superiors; always treat your masters with
respect. Ever speak the truth. So long as you adhere to this rule,
you never can be involved in any serious misfortune. A deviation from
truth is, in general, the foundation of all misery. Be kind to your
companions, but be firm. Do not be laughed into doing that which you
know to be wrong. Be modest and humble, but ever respect yourself.
Remember who you are, and also that it is your duty to excel.
Providence has given you a great lot. Think ever that you are born to
perform great duties.

'God bless you, Plantagenet!' she continued, after a slight pause,
with a faltering voice, 'God bless you, my sweet child. And God will
bless you if you remember Him. Try also to remember us,' she added, as
she embraced him, and placed in his hand Venetia's well-lined purse.
'Do not forget Cherbury and all it contains; hearts that love you
dearly, and will pray ever for your welfare.'

Plantagenet leant upon her bosom. He had entered the room resolved to
be composed, with an air even of cheerfulness, but his tender heart
yielded to the first appeal to his affections. He could only murmur
out some broken syllables of devotion, and almost unconsciously found
that he had quitted the chamber.

With streaming eyes and hesitating steps he was proceeding along the
vestibule, when he heard his name called by a low sweet voice. He
looked around; it was Venetia. Never had he beheld such a beautiful
vision. She was muffled up in her dressing-gown, her small white feet
only guarded from the cold by her slippers. Her golden hair seemed to
reach her waist, her cheek was flushed, her large blue eyes glittered
with tears.

'Plantagenet,' she said--

Neither of them could speak. They embraced, they mingled their tears
together, and every instant they wept more plenteously. At length a
footstep was heard; Venetia murmured a blessing, and vanished.

Cadurcis lingered on the stairs a moment to compose himself. He wiped
his eyes; he tried to look undisturbed. All the servants were in the
hall; from Mistress Pauncefort to the scullion there was not a dry
eye. All loved the little lord, he was so gracious and so gentle.
Every one asked leave to touch his hand before he went. He tried to
smile and say something kind to all. He recognised the gamekeeper,
and told him to do what he liked at Cadurcis; said something to the
coachman about his pony; and begged Mistress Pauncefort, quite aloud,
to take great care of her young mistress. As he was speaking, he
felt something rubbing against his hand: it was Marmion, the old
bloodhound. He also came to bid his adieus. Cadurcis patted him with
affection, and said, 'Ah! my old fellow, we shall yet meet again.'

The Doctor appeared, smiling as usual, made his inquiries whether all
were right, nodded to the weeping household, called Plantagenet his
brave boy, and patted him on the back, and bade him jump into the
chaise. Another moment, and Dr. Masham had also entered; the door was
closed, the fatal 'All right' sung out, and Lord Cadurcis was whirled
away from that Cherbury where he was so loved.



BOOK II.



CHAPTER I.


Life is not dated merely by years. Events are sometimes the best
calendars. There are epochs in our existence which cannot be
ascertained by a formal appeal to the registry. The arrival of the
Cadurcis family at their old abbey, their consequent intimacy at
Cherbury, the death of the mother, and the departure of the son: these
were events which had been crowded into a space of less than two
years; but those two years were not only the most eventful in the life
of Venetia Herbert, but in their influence upon the development of her
mind, and the formation of her character, far exceeded the effects of
all her previous existence.

Venetia once more found herself with no companion but her mother,
but in vain she attempted to recall the feelings she had before
experienced under such circumstances, and to revert to the resources
she had before commanded. No longer could she wander in imaginary
kingdoms, or transform the limited world of her experience into a
boundless region of enchanted amusement. Her play-pleasure hours were
fled for ever. She sighed for her faithful and sympathising companion.
The empire of fancy yielded without a struggle to the conquering sway
of memory.

For the first few weeks Venetia was restless and dispirited, and when
she was alone she often wept. A mysterious instinct prompted her,
however, not to exhibit such emotion before her mother. Yet she loved
to hear Lady Annabel talk of Plantagenet, and a visit to the abbey was
ever her favourite walk. Sometimes, too, a letter arrived from Lord
Cadurcis, and this was great joy; but such communications were rare.
Nothing is more difficult than for a junior boy at a public school to
maintain a correspondence; yet his letters were most affectionate,
and always dwelt upon the prospect of his return. The period for this
hoped-for return at length arrived, but it brought no Plantagenet.
His guardian wished that the holidays should be spent under his roof.
Still at intervals Cadurcis wrote to Cherbury, to which, as time flew
on, it seemed destined he never was to return. Vacation followed
vacation, alike passed with his guardian, either in London, or at
a country seat still more remote from Cherbury, until at length it
became so much a matter of course that his guardian's house should
be esteemed his home, that Plantagenet ceased to allude even to the
prospect of return. In time his letters became rarer and rarer, until,
at length, they altogether ceased. Meanwhile Venetia had overcome the
original pang of separation; if not as gay as in old days, she was
serene and very studious; delighting less in her flowers and birds,
but much more in her books, and pursuing her studies with an
earnestness and assiduity which her mother was rather fain to check
than to encourage. Venetia Herbert, indeed, promised to become a most
accomplished woman. She had a fine ear for music, a ready tongue for
languages; already she emulated her mother's skill in the arts; while
the library of Cherbury afforded welcome and inexhaustible resources
to a girl whose genius deserved the richest and most sedulous
cultivation, and whose peculiar situation, independent of her studious
predisposition, rendered reading a pastime to her rather than a
task. Lady Annabel watched the progress of her daughter with lively
interest, and spared no efforts to assist the formation of her
principles and her taste. That deep religious feeling which was the
characteristic of the mother had been carefully and early cherished
in the heart of the child, and in time the unrivalled writings of the
great divines of our Church became a principal portion of her reading.
Order, method, severe study, strict religious exercise, with no
amusement or relaxation but of the most simple and natural character,
and with a complete seclusion from society, altogether formed a
system, which, acting upon a singularly susceptible and gifted nature,
secured the promise in Venetia Herbert, at fourteen years of age, of
an extraordinary woman; a system, however, against which her lively
and somewhat restless mind might probably have rebelled, had not
that system been so thoroughly imbued with all the melting spell of
maternal affection. It was the inspiration of this sacred love that
hovered like a guardian angel over the life of Venetia. It roused her
from her morning slumbers with an embrace, it sanctified her evening
pillow with a blessing; it anticipated the difficulty of the student's
page, and guided the faltering hand of the hesitating artist; it
refreshed her memory, it modulated her voice; it accompanied her in
the cottage, and knelt by her at the altar. Marvellous and beautiful
is a mother's love. And when Venetia, with her strong feelings and
enthusiastic spirit, would look around and mark that a graceful form
and a bright eye were for ever watching over her wants and wishes,
instructing with sweetness, and soft even with advice, her whole soul
rose to her mother, all thoughts and feelings were concentrated in
that sole existence, and she desired no happier destiny than to pass
through life living in the light of her mother's smiles, and clinging
with passionate trust to that beneficent and guardian form.

But with all her quick and profound feelings Venetia was thoughtful
and even shrewd, and when she was alone her very love for her
mother, and her gratitude for such an ineffable treasure as parental
affection, would force her mind to a subject which at intervals had
haunted her even from her earliest childhood. Why had she only one
parent? What mystery was this that enveloped that great tie? For
that there was a mystery Venetia felt as assured as that she was a
daughter. By a process which she could not analyse, her father had
become a forbidden subject. True, Lady Annabel had placed no formal
prohibition upon its mention; nor at her present age was Venetia one
who would be influenced in her conduct by the bygone and arbitrary
intimations of a menial; nevertheless, that the mention of her father
would afford pain to the being she loved best in the world, was a
conviction which had grown with her years and strengthened with her
strength. Pardonable, natural, even laudable as was the anxiety of the
daughter upon such a subject, an instinct with which she could not
struggle closed the lips of Venetia for ever upon this topic. His name
was never mentioned, his past existence was never alluded to. Who was
he? That he was of noble family and great position her name betokened,
and the state in which they lived. He must have died very early;
perhaps even before her mother gave her birth. A dreadful lot indeed;
and yet was the grief that even such a dispensation might occasion, so
keen, so overwhelming, that after fourteen long years his name might
not be permitted, even for an instant, to pass the lips of his
bereaved wife? Was his child to be deprived of the only solace for
his loss, the consolation of cherishing his memory? Strange, passing
strange indeed, and bitter! At Cherbury the family of Herbert were
honoured only from tradition. Until the arrival of Lady Annabel, as we
have before mentioned, they had not resided at the hall for more than
half a century. There were no old retainers there from whom Venetia
might glean, without suspicion, the information for which she panted.
Slight, too, as was Venetia's experience of society, there were times
when she could not resist the impression that her mother was not
happy; that there was some secret sorrow that weighed upon her
spirit, some grief that gnawed at her heart. Could it be still the
recollection of her lost sire? Could one so religious, so resigned,
so assured of meeting the lost one in a better world, brood with a
repining soul over the will of her Creator? Such conduct was entirely
at variance with all the tenets of Lady Annabel. It was not thus she
consoled the bereaved, that she comforted the widow, and solaced the
orphan. Venetia, too, observed everything and forgot nothing. Not an
incident of her earliest childhood that was not as fresh in her memory
as if it had occurred yesterday. Her memory was naturally keen; living
in solitude, with nothing to distract it, its impressions never faded
away. She had never forgotten her mother's tears the day that she and
Plantagenet had visited Marringhurst. Somehow or other Dr. Masham
seemed connected with this sorrow. Whenever Lady Annabel was most
dispirited it was after an interview with that gentleman; yet the
presence of the Doctor always gave her pleasure, and he was the most
kind-hearted and cheerful of men. Perhaps, after all, it was only her
illusion; perhaps, after all, it was the memory of her father to which
her mother was devoted, and which occasionally overcame her; perhaps
she ventured to speak of him to Dr. Masham, though not to her
daughter, and this might account for that occasional agitation which
Venetia had observed at his visits. And yet, and yet, and yet; in vain
she reasoned. There is a strange sympathy which whispers convictions
that no evidence can authorise, and no arguments dispel. Venetia
Herbert, particularly as she grew older, could not refrain at times
from yielding to the irresistible belief that her existence was
enveloped in some mystery. Mystery too often presupposes the idea of
guilt. Guilt! Who was guilty? Venetia shuddered at the current of her
own thoughts. She started from the garden seat in which she had fallen
into this dangerous and painful reverie; flew to her mother, who
received her with smiles; and buried her face in the bosom of Lady
Annabel.



CHAPTER II.


We have indicated in a few pages the progress of three years. How
differently passed to the two preceding ones, when the Cadurcis family
were settled at the abbey! For during this latter period it seemed
that not a single incident had occurred. They had glided away in one
unbroken course of study, religion, and domestic love, the enjoyment
of nature, and the pursuits of charity; like a long summer
sabbath-day, sweet and serene and still, undisturbed by a single
passion, hallowed and hallowing.

If the Cadurcis family were now not absolutely forgotten at Cherbury,
they were at least only occasionally remembered. These last three
years so completely harmonised with the life of Venetia before their
arrival, that, taking a general view of her existence, their residence
at the abbey figured only as an episode in her career; active indeed
and stirring, and one that had left some impressions not easily
discarded; but, on the whole, mellowed by the magic of time, Venetia
looked back to her youthful friendship as an event that was only an
exception in her lot, and she viewed herself as a being born and bred
up in a seclusion which she was never to quit, with no aspirations
beyond the little world in which she moved, and where she was to die
in peace, as she had lived in purity.

One Sunday, the conversation after dinner fell upon Lord Cadurcis.
Doctor Masham had recently met a young Etonian, and had made some
inquiries about their friend of old days. The information he had
obtained was not very satisfactory. It seemed that Cadurcis was a more
popular boy with his companions than his tutors; he had been rather
unruly, and had only escaped expulsion by the influence of his
guardian, who was not only a great noble, but a powerful minister.

This conversation recalled old times. They talked over the arrival of
Mrs. Cadurcis at the abbey, her strange character, her untimely end.
Lady Annabel expressed her conviction of the natural excellence of
Plantagenet's disposition, and her regret of the many disadvantages
under which he laboured; it gratified Venetia to listen to his praise.

'He has quite forgotten us, mamma,' said Venetia.

'My love, he was very young when he quitted us,' replied Lady Annabel;
'and you must remember the influence of a change of life at so tender
an age. He lives now in a busy world.'

'I wish that he had not forgotten to write to us sometimes,' said
Venetia.

'Writing a letter is a great achievement for a schoolboy,' said the
Doctor; 'it is a duty which even grown-up persons too often forget
to fulfil, and, when postponed, it is generally deferred for ever.
However, I agree with Lady Annabel, Cadurcis was a fine fellow, and
had he been properly brought up, I cannot help thinking, might have
turned out something.'

'Poor Plantagenet!' said Venetia, 'how I pity him. His was a terrible
lot, to lose both his parents! Whatever were the errors of Mrs.
Cadurcis, she was his mother, and, in spite of every mortification, he
clung to her. Ah! I shall never forget when Pauncefort met him coming
out of her room the night before the burial, when he said, with
streaming eyes, "I only had one friend in the world, and now she is
gone." I could not love Mrs. Cadurcis, and yet, when I heard of these
words, I cried as much as he.'

'Poor fellow!' said the Doctor, filling his glass.

'If there be any person in the world whom I pity,' said Venetia, ''tis
an orphan. Oh! what should I be without mamma? And Plantagenet, poor
Plantagenet! he has no mother, no father.' Venetia added, with a
faltering voice: 'I can sympathise with him in some degree; I, I, I
know, I feel the misfortune, the misery;' her face became crimson, yet
she could not restrain the irresistible words, 'the misery of never
having known a father,' she added.

There was a dead pause, a most solemn silence. In vain Venetia
struggled to look calm and unconcerned; every instant she felt
the blood mantling in her cheek with a more lively and spreading
agitation. She dared not look up; it was not possible to utter a word
to turn the conversation. She felt utterly confounded and absolutely
mute. At length, Lady Annabel spoke. Her tone was severe and choking,
very different to her usual silvery voice.

'I am sorry that my daughter should feel so keenly the want of a
parent's love,' said her ladyship.

What would not Venetia have given for the power or speech! but
it seemed to have deserted her for ever. There she sat mute and
motionless, with her eyes fixed on the table, and with a burning
cheek, as if she were conscious of having committed some act of shame,
as if she had been detected in some base and degrading deed. Yet, what
had she done? A daughter had delicately alluded to her grief at the
loss of a parent, and expressed her keen sense of the deprivation.

It was an autumnal afternoon: Doctor Masham looked at the sky, and,
after a long pause, made an observation about the weather, and then
requested permission to order his horses, as the evening came on
apace, and he had some distance to ride. Lady Annabel rose; the
Doctor, with a countenance unusually serious, offered her his arm; and
Venetia followed them like a criminal. In a few minutes the horses
appeared; Lady Annabel bid adieu to her friend in her usual kind tone,
and with her usual sweet smile; and then, without noticing Venetia,
instantly retired to her own chamber.

And this was her mother; her mother who never before quitted her for
an instant without some sign and symbol of affection, some playful
word of love, a winning smile, a passing embrace, that seemed to
acknowledge that the pang of even momentary separation could only be
alleviated by this graceful homage to the heart. What had she done?
Venetia was about to follow Lady Annabel, but she checked herself.
Agony at having offended her mother, and, for the first time, was
blended with a strange curiosity as to the cause, and some hesitating
indignation at her treatment. Venetia remained anxiously awaiting
the return of Lady Annabel; but her ladyship did not reappear. Every
instant, the astonishment and the grief of Venetia increased. It was
the first domestic difference that had occurred between them. It
shocked her much. She thought of Plantagenet and Mrs. Cadurcis. There
was a mortifying resemblance, however slight, between the respective
situations of the two families. Venetia, too, had quarrelled with her
mother; that mother who, for fourteen years, had only looked upon her
with fondness and joy; who had been ever kind, without being ever
weak, and had rendered her child happy by making her good; that mother
whose beneficent wisdom had transformed duty into delight; that
superior, yet gentle being, so indulgent yet so just, so gifted yet so
condescending, who dedicated all her knowledge, and time, and care,
and intellect to her daughter.

Venetia threw herself upon a couch and wept. They were the first tears
of unmixed pain that she had ever shed. It was said by the household
of Venetia when a child, that she had never cried; not a single tear
had ever sullied that sunny face. Surrounded by scenes of innocence,
and images of happiness and content, Venetia smiled on a world that
smiled on her, the radiant heroine of a golden age. She had, indeed,
wept over the sorrows and the departure of Cadurcis; but those were
soft showers of sympathy and affection sent from a warm heart, like
drops from a summer sky. But now this grief was agony: her brow
throbbed, her hand was clenched, her heart beat with tumultuous
palpitation; the streaming torrent came scalding down her cheek like
fire rather than tears, and instead of assuaging her emotion, seemed,
on the contrary, to increase its fierce and fervid power.

The sun had set, the red autumnal twilight had died away, the shadows
of night were brooding over the halls of Cherbury. The moan of the
rising wind might be distinctly heard, and ever and anon the branches
of neighbouring trees swung with a sudden yet melancholy sound against
the windows of the apartment, of which the curtains had remained
undrawn. Venetia looked up; the room would have been in perfect
darkness but for a glimmer which just indicated the site of the
expiring fire, and an uncertain light, or rather modified darkness,
that seemed the sky. Alone and desolate! Alone and desolate and
unhappy! Alone and desolate and unhappy, and for the first time! Was
it a sigh, or a groan, that issued from the stifling heart of Venetia
Herbert? That child of innocence, that bright emanation of love and
beauty, that airy creature of grace and gentleness, who had never said
an unkind word or done an unkind thing in her whole career, but had
glanced and glided through existence, scattering happiness and
joy, and receiving the pleasure which she herself imparted, how
overwhelming was her first struggle with that dark stranger, Sorrow!

Some one entered the room; it was Mistress Pauncefort. She held a
taper in her hand, and came tripping gingerly in, with a new cap
streaming with ribands, and scarcely, as it were, condescending to
execute the mission with which she was intrusted, which was no greater
than fetching her lady's reticule. She glanced at the table, but it
was not there; she turned up her nose at a chair or two, which she
even condescended to propel a little with a saucy foot, as if the
reticule might be hid under the hanging drapery, and then, unable to
find the object of her search, Mistress Pauncefort settled herself
before the glass, elevating the taper above her head, that she might
observe what indeed she had been examining the whole day, the effect
of her new cap. With a complacent simper, Mistress Pauncefort then
turned from pleasure to business, and, approaching the couch, gave
a faint shriek, half genuine, half affected, as she recognised the
recumbent form of her young mistress. 'Well to be sure,' exclaimed
Mistress Pauncefort, 'was the like ever seen! Miss Venetia, as I live!
La! Miss Venetia, what can be the matter? I declare I am all of a
palpitation.'

Venetia, affecting composure, said she was rather unwell; that she
had a headache, and, rising, murmured that she would go to bed. 'A
headache!' exclaimed Mistress Pauncefort, 'I hope no worse, for there
is my lady, and she is as out of sorts as possible. She has a headache
too; and when I shut the door just now, I am sure as quiet as a lamb,
she told me not to make so much noise when I left the room. "Noise!"
says I; "why really, my lady, I don't pretend to be a spirit; but if
it comes to noise--" "Never answer me, Pauncefort," says my lady. "No,
my lady," says I, "I never do, and, I am sure, when I have a headache
myself, I don't like to be answered." But, to be sure, if you have a
headache, and my lady has a headache too, I only hope we have not got
the epidemy. I vow, Miss Venetia, that your eyes are as red as if you
had been running against the wind. Well, to be sure, if you have not
been crying! I must go and tell my lady immediately.'

'Light me to my room,' said Venetia; 'I will not disturb my mother, as
she is unwell.'

Venetia rose, and Mistress Pauncefort followed her to her chamber, and
lit her candles. Venetia desired her not to remain; and when she had
quitted the chamber, Venetia threw herself in her chair and sighed.

To sleep, it was impossible; it seemed to Venetia that she could never
rest again. She wept no more, but her distress was very great. She
felt it impossible to exist through the night without being reconciled
to her mother; but she refrained from going to her room, from the fear
of again meeting her troublesome attendant. She resolved, therefore,
to wait until she heard Mistress Pauncefort retire for the night, and
she listened with restless anxiety for the sign of her departure in
the sound of her footsteps along the vestibule on which the doors of
Lady Annabel's and her daughter's apartments opened.

An hour elapsed, and at length the sound was heard. Convinced that
Pauncefort had now quitted her mother for the night, Venetia ventured
forth, and stopping before the door of her mother's room, she knocked
gently. There was no reply, and in a few minutes Venetia knocked
again, and rather louder. Still no answer. 'Mamma,' said Venetia, in a
faltering tone, but no sound replied. Venetia then tried the door,
and found it fastened. Then she gave up the effort in despair, and
retreating to her own chamber, she threw herself on her bed, and wept
bitterly.

Some time elapsed before she looked up again; the candles were flaring
in their sockets. It was a wild windy night; Venetia rose, and
withdrew the curtain of her window. The black clouds were scudding
along the sky, revealing, in their occasional but transient rifts,
some glimpses of the moon, that seemed unusually bright, or of a star
that trembled with supernatural brilliancy. She stood a while gazing
on the outward scene that harmonised with her own internal agitation:
her grief was like the storm, her love like the light of that bright
moon and star. There came over her a desire to see her mother, which
she felt irresistible; she was resolved that no difficulty, no
impediment, should prevent her instantly from throwing herself on her
bosom. It seemed to her that her brain would burn, that this awful
night could never end without such an interview. She opened her door,
went forth again into the vestibule, and approached with a nervous but
desperate step her mother's chamber. To her astonishment the door was
ajar, but there was a light within. With trembling step and downcast
eyes, Venetia entered the chamber, scarcely daring to advance, or to
look up.

'Mother,' she said, but no one answered; she heard the tick of the
clock; it was the only sound. 'Mother,' she repeated, and she dared to
look up, but the bed was empty. There was no mother. Lady Annabel was
not in the room. Following an irresistible impulse, Venetia knelt by
the side of her mother's bed and prayed. She addressed, in audible and
agitated tones, that Almighty and Beneficent Being of whom she was
so faithful and pure a follower. With sanctified simplicity, she
communicated to her Creator and her Saviour all her distress, all her
sorrow, all the agony of her perplexed and wounded spirit. If she had
sinned, she prayed for forgiveness, and declared in solitude, to One
whom she could not deceive, how unintentional was the trespass; if she
were only misapprehended, she supplicated for comfort and consolation,
for support under the heaviest visitation she had yet experienced, the
displeasure of that earthly parent whom she revered only second to her
heavenly Father.

'For thou art my Father,' said Venetia, 'I have no other father
but thee, O God! Forgive me, then, my heavenly parent, if in my
wilfulness, if in my thoughtless and sinful blindness, I have sighed
for a father on earth, as well as in heaven! Great have thy mercies
been to me, O God! in a mother's love. Turn, then, again to me the
heart of that mother whom I have offended! Let her look upon her child
as before; let her continue to me a double parent, and let me pay to
her the duty and the devotion that might otherwise have been divided!'

'Amen!' said a sweet and solemn voice; and Venetia was clasped in her
mother's arms.



CHAPTER III.


If the love of Lady Annabel for her child were capable of increase, it
might have been believed that it absolutely became more profound and
ardent after that short-lived but painful estrangement which we have
related in the last chapter. With all Lady Annabel's fascinating
qualities and noble virtues, a fine observer of human nature enjoying
opportunities of intimately studying her character, might have
suspected that an occasion only was wanted to display or develop in
that lady's conduct no trifling evidence of a haughty, proud, and even
inexorable spirit. Circumstanced as she was at Cherbury, with no one
capable or desirous of disputing her will, the more gracious and
exalted qualities of her nature were alone apparent. Entertaining a
severe, even a sublime sense of the paramount claims of duty in all
conditions and circumstances of life, her own conduct afforded an
invariable and consistent example of her tenet; from those around her
she required little, and that was cheerfully granted; while, on the
other hand, her more eminent situation alike multiplied her own
obligations and enabled her to fulfil them; she appeared, therefore,
to pass her life in conferring happiness and in receiving gratitude.
Strictly religious, of immaculate reputation, rigidly just,
systematically charitable, dignified in her manners, yet more than
courteous to her inferiors, and gifted at the same time with great
self-control and great decision, she was looked up to by all within
her sphere with a sentiment of affectionate veneration. Perhaps there
was only one person within her little world who, both by disposition
and relative situation, was qualified in any way to question her
undoubted sway, or to cross by independence of opinion the tenour of
the discipline she had established, and this was her child. Venetia,
with one of the most affectionate and benevolent natures in the world,
was gifted with a shrewd, inquiring mind, and a restless imagination.
She was capable of forming her own opinions, and had both reason and
feeling at command to gauge their worth. But to gain an influence over
this child had been the sole object of Lady Annabel's life, and she
had hitherto met that success which usually awaits in this world the
strong purpose of a determined spirit. Lady Annabel herself was far
too acute a person not to have detected early in life the talents of
her child, and she was proud of them. She had cultivated them with
exemplary devotion and with admirable profit. But Lady Annabel had not
less discovered that, in the ardent and susceptible temperament of
Venetia, means were offered by which the heart might be trained not
only to cope with but overpower the intellect. With great powers of
pleasing, beauty, accomplishments, a sweet voice, a soft manner, a
sympathetic heart, Lady Annabel was qualified to charm the world; she
had contrived to fascinate her daughter. She had inspired Venetia with
the most romantic attachment for her: such as rather subsists
between two female friends of the same age and hearts, than between
individuals in the relative situations which they bore to each other.
Yet while Venetia thus loved her mother, she could not but also
respect and revere the superior being whose knowledge was her guide on
all subjects, and whose various accomplishments deprived her secluded
education of all its disadvantages; and when she felt that one so
gifted had devoted her life to the benefit of her child, and that
this beautiful and peerless lady had no other ambition but to be
her guardian and attendant spirit; gratitude, fervent and profound,
mingled with admiring reverence and passionate affection, and together
formed a spell that encircled the mind of Venetia with talismanic
sway.

Under the despotic influence of these enchanted feelings, Venetia
was fast growing into womanhood, without a single cloud having ever
disturbed or sullied the pure and splendid heaven of her domestic
life. Suddenly the horizon had become clouded, a storm had gathered
and burst, and an eclipse could scarcely have occasioned more terror
to the untutored roamer of the wilderness, than this unexpected
catastrophe to one so inexperienced in the power of the passions as
our heroine. Her heaven was again serene; but such was the effect
of this ebullition on her character, so keen was her dread of again
encountering the agony of another misunderstanding with her mother,
that she recoiled with trembling from that subject which had so often
and so deeply engaged her secret thoughts; and the idea of her father,
associated as it now was with pain, mortification, and misery, never
rose to her imagination but instantly to be shunned as some unhallowed
image, of which the bitter contemplation was fraught with not less
disastrous consequences than the denounced idolatry of the holy
people.

Whatever, therefore, might be the secret reasons which impelled Lady
Annabel to shroud the memory of the lost parent of her child in such
inviolate gloom, it is certain that the hitherto restless though
concealed curiosity of Venetia upon the subject, the rash
demonstration to which it led, and the consequence of her boldness,
instead of threatening to destroy in an instant the deep and matured
system of her mother, had, on the whole, greatly contributed to the
fulfilment of the very purpose for which Lady Annabel had so long
laboured. That lady spared no pains in following up the advantage
which her acuteness and knowledge of her daughter's character assured
her that she had secured. She hovered round her child more like an
enamoured lover than a fond mother; she hung upon her looks, she read
her thoughts, she anticipated every want and wish; her dulcet tones
seemed even sweeter than before; her soft and elegant manners even
more tender and refined. Though even in her childhood Lady Annabel had
rather guided than commanded Venetia; now she rather consulted than
guided her. She seized advantage of the advanced character and mature
appearance of Venetia to treat her as a woman rather than a child, and
as a friend rather than a daughter. Venetia yielded herself up to this
flattering and fascinating condescension. Her love for her mother
amounted to passion; she had no other earthly object or desire but to
pass her entire life in her sole and sweet society; she could conceive
no sympathy deeper or more delightful; the only unhappiness she
had ever known had been occasioned by a moment trenching upon its
exclusive privilege; Venetia could not picture to herself that such a
pure and entrancing existence could ever experience a change.

And this mother, this devoted yet mysterious mother, jealous of her
child's regret for a father that she had lost, and whom she had never
known! shall we ever penetrate the secret of her heart?



CHAPTER IV.


It was in the enjoyment of these exquisite feelings that a year,
and more than another year, elapsed at our lone hall of Cherbury.
Happiness and content seemed at least the blessed destiny of the
Herberts. Venetia grew in years, and grace, and loveliness; each day
apparently more her mother's joy, and each day bound to that mother
by, if possible, more ardent love. She had never again experienced
those uneasy thoughts which at times had haunted her from her infancy;
separated from her mother, indeed, scarcely for an hour together, she
had no time to muse. Her studies each day becoming more various and
interesting, and pursued with so gifted and charming a companion,
entirely engrossed her; even the exercise that was her relaxation was
participated by Lady Annabel; and the mother and daughter, bounding
together on their steeds, were fanned by the same breeze, and
freshened by the same graceful and healthy exertion.

One day the post, that seldom arrived at Cherbury, brought a letter to
Lady Annabel, the perusal of which evidently greatly agitated her.
Her countenance changed as her eye glanced over the pages; her hand
trembled as she held it. But she made no remark; and succeeded in
subduing her emotion so quickly that Venetia, although she watched
her mother with anxiety, did not feel justified in interfering with
inquiring sympathy. But while Lady Annabel resumed her usual calm
demeanour, she relapsed into unaccustomed silence, and, soon rising
from the breakfast table, moved to the window, and continued
apparently gazing on the garden, with her face averted from Venetia
for some time. At length she turned to her, and said, 'I think,
Venetia, of calling on the Doctor to-day; there is business on which I
wish to consult him, but I will not trouble you, dearest, to accompany
me. I must take the carriage, and it is a long and tiring drive.'

There was a tone of decision even in the slightest observations of
Lady Annabel, which, however sweet might be the voice in which they
were uttered, scarcely encouraged their propriety to be canvassed. Now
Venetia was far from desirous of being separated from her mother this
morning. It was not a vain and idle curiosity, prompted by the receipt
of the letter and its consequent effects, both in the emotion of her
mother and the visit which it had rendered necessary, that swayed her
breast. The native dignity of a well-disciplined mind exempted Venetia
from such feminine weakness. But some consideration might be due to
the quick sympathy of an affectionate spirit that had witnessed, with
corresponding feeling, the disturbance of the being to whom she was
devoted. Why this occasional and painful mystery that ever and anon
clouded the heaven of their love, and flung a frigid shadow over the
path of a sunshiny life? Why was not Venetia to share the sorrow or
the care of her only friend, as well as participate in her joy and her
content? There were other claims, too, to this confidence, besides
those of the heart. Lady Annabel was not merely her only friend; she
was her parent, her only parent, almost, for aught she had ever heard
or learnt, her only relative. For her mother's family, though she was
aware of their existence by the freedom with which Lady Annabel ever
mentioned them, and though Venetia was conscious that an occasional
correspondence was maintained between them and Cherbury, occupied no
station in Venetia's heart, scarcely in her memory. That noble family
were nullities to her; far distant, apparently estranged from her
hearth, except in form she had never seen them; they were associated
in her recollection with none of the sweet ties of kindred. Her
grandfather was dead without her ever having received his blessing;
his successor, her uncle, was an ambassador, long absent from his
country; her only aunt married to a soldier, and established at a
foreign station. Venetia envied Dr. Masham the confidence which was
extended to him; it seemed to her, even leaving out of sight the
intimate feelings that subsisted between her and her mother, that the
claims of blood to this confidence were at least as strong as those of
friendship. But Venetia stifled these emotions; she parted from her
mother with a kind, yet somewhat mournful expression. Lady Annabel
might have read a slight sentiment of affectionate reproach in the
demeanour of her daughter when she bade her farewell. Whatever might
be the consciousness of the mother, she was successful in concealing
her impression. Very kind, but calm and inscrutable, Lady Annabel,
having given directions for postponing the dinner-hour, embraced her
child and entered the chariot.

Venetia, from the terrace, watched her mother's progress through the
park. After gazing for some minutes, a tear stole down her cheek. She
started, as if surprised at her own emotion. And now the carriage
was out of sight, and Venetia would have recurred to some of those
resources which were ever at hand for the employment or amusement of
her secluded life. But the favourite volume ceased to interest this
morning, and almost fell from her hand. She tried her spinet, but her
ear seemed to have lost its music; she looked at her easel, but the
cunning had fled from her touch.

Restless and disquieted, she knew not why, Venetia went forth again
into the garden. All nature smiled around her; the flitting birds were
throwing their soft shadows over the sunny lawns, and rustling amid
the blossoms of the variegated groves. The golden wreaths of the
laburnum and the silver knots of the chestnut streamed and glittered
around; the bees were as busy as the birds, and the whole scene was
suffused and penetrated with brilliancy and odour. It still was
spring, and yet the gorgeous approach of summer, like the advancing
procession of some triumphant king, might almost be detected amid the
lingering freshness of the year; a lively and yet magnificent period,
blending, as it were, Attic grace with Roman splendour; a time when
hope and fruition for once meet, when existence is most full of
delight, alike delicate and voluptuous, and when the human frame is
most sensible to the gaiety and grandeur of nature.

And why was not the spirit of the beautiful and innocent Venetia as
bright as the surrounding scene? There are moods of mind that baffle
analysis, that arise from a mysterious sympathy we cannot penetrate.
At this moment the idea of her father irresistibly recurred to the
imagination of Venetia. She could not withstand the conviction that
the receipt of the mysterious letter and her mother's agitation were
by some inexplicable connexion linked with that forbidden subject.
Strange incidents of her life flitted across her memory: her mother
weeping on the day they visited Marringhurst; the mysterious chambers;
the nocturnal visit of Lady Annabel that Cadurcis had witnessed; her
unexpected absence from her apartment when Venetia, in her despair,
had visited her some months ago. What was the secret that enveloped
her existence? Alone, which was unusual; dispirited, she knew not
why; and brooding over thoughts which haunted her like evil spirits,
Venetia at length yielded to a degree of nervous excitement which
amazed her. She looked up to the uninhabited wing of the mansion with
an almost fierce desire to penetrate its mysteries. It seemed to her
that a strange voice came whispering on the breeze, urging her to the
fulfilment of a mystical mission. With a vague, yet wild, purpose she
entered the house, and took her way to her mother's chamber. Mistress
Pauncefort was there. Venetia endeavoured to assume her accustomed
serenity. The waiting-woman bustled about, arranging the toilet-table,
which had been for a moment discomposed, putting away a cap, folding
up a shawl, and indulging in a multitude of inane observations which
little harmonised with the high-strung tension of Venetia's mind.
Mistress Pauncefort opened a casket with a spring lock, in which she
placed some trinkets of her mistress. Venetia stood by her in silence;
her eye, vacant and wandering, beheld the interior of the casket.
There must have been something in it, the sight of which greatly
agitated her, for Venetia turned pale, and in a moment left the
chamber and retired to her own room.

She locked her door, threw herself in a chair; almost gasping for
breath, she covered her face with her hands. It was some minutes
before she recovered comparative composure; she rose and looked in
the mirror; her face was quite white, but her eyes glittering with
excitement. She walked up and down her room with a troubled step, and
a scarlet flush alternately returned to and retired from her changing
cheek. Then she leaned against a cabinet in thought. She was disturbed
from her musings by the sound of Pauncefort's step along the
vestibule, as she quitted her mother's chamber. In a few minutes
Venetia herself stepped forth into the vestibule and listened. All was
silent. The golden morning had summoned the whole household to its
enjoyment. Not a voice, not a domestic sound, broke the complete
stillness. Venetia again repaired to the apartment of Lady Annabel.
Her step was light, but agitated; it seemed that she scarcely dared
to breathe. She opened the door, rushed to the cabinet, pressed the
spring lock, caught at something that it contained, and hurried again
to her own chamber.

And what is this prize that the trembling Venetia holds almost
convulsively in her grasp, apparently without daring even to examine
it? Is this the serene and light-hearted girl, whose face was like
the cloudless splendour of a sunny day? Why is she so pallid and
perturbed? What strong impulse fills her frame? She clutches in her
hand a key!

On that tempestuous night of passionate sorrow which succeeded the
first misunderstanding between Venetia and her mother, when the voice
of Lady Annabel had suddenly blended with that of her kneeling
child, and had ratified with her devotional concurrence her wailing
supplications; even at the moment when Venetia, in a rapture of love
and duty, felt herself pressed to her mother's reconciled heart, it
had not escaped her that Lady Annabel held in her hand a key; and
though the feelings which that night had so forcibly developed, and
which the subsequent conduct of Lady Annabel had so carefully and
skilfully cherished, had impelled Venetia to banish and erase from her
thought and memory all the associations which that spectacle, however
slight, was calculated to awaken, still, in her present mood, the
unexpected vision of the same instrument, identical she could not
doubt, had triumphed in an instant over all the long discipline of
her mind and conduct, in an instant had baffled and dispersed her
self-control, and been hailed as the providential means by which she
might at length penetrate that mystery which she now felt no longer
supportable.

The clock of the belfry of Cherbury at this moment struck, and Venetia
instantly sprang from her seat. It reminded her of the preciousness
of the present morning. Her mother was indeed absent, but her mother
would return. Before that event a great fulfilment was to occur.
Venetia, still grasping the key, as if it were the talisman of her
existence, looked up to Heaven as if she required for her allotted
task an immediate and special protection; her lips seemed to move, and
then she again quitted her apartment. As she passed through an oriel
in her way towards the gallery, she observed Pauncefort in the avenue
of the park, moving in the direction of the keeper's lodge. This
emboldened her. With a hurried step she advanced along the gallery,
and at length stood before the long-sealed door that had so often
excited her strange curiosity. Once she looked around; but no one was
near, not a sound was heard. With a faltering hand she touched the
lock; but her powers deserted her: for a minute she believed that the
key, after all, would not solve the mystery. And yet the difficulty
arose only from her own agitation. She rallied her courage; once more
she made the trial; the key fitted with completeness, and the
lock opened with ease, and Venetia found herself in a small and
scantily-furnished ante-chamber. Closing the door with noiseless care,
Venetia stood trembling in the mysterious chamber, where apparently
there was nothing to excite wonder. The chamber into which the
ante-room opened was still closed, and it was some minutes before the
adventurous daughter of Lady Annabel could summon courage for the
enterprise which awaited her.

The door yielded without an effort. Venetia stepped into a spacious
and lofty chamber. For a moment she paused almost upon the threshold,
and looked around her with a vague and misty vision. Anon she
distinguished something of the character of the apartment. In the
recess of a large oriel window that looked upon the park, and of which
the blinds were nearly drawn, was an old-fashioned yet sumptuous
toilet-table of considerable size, arranged as if for use. Opposite
this window, in a corresponding recess, was what might be deemed a
bridal bed, its furniture being of white satin richly embroidered; the
curtains half closed; and suspended from the canopy was a wreath of
roses that had once emulated, or rather excelled, the lustrous purity
of the hangings, but now were wan and withered. The centre of the
inlaid and polished floor of the apartment was covered with a Tournay
carpet of brilliant yet tasteful decoration. An old cabinet of
fanciful workmanship, some chairs of ebony, and some girandoles of
silver completed the furniture of the room, save that at its extreme
end, exactly opposite to the door by which Venetia entered, covered
with a curtain of green velvet, was what she concluded must be a
picture.

An awful stillness pervaded the apartment: Venetia herself, with
a face paler even than the hangings of the mysterious bed, stood
motionless with suppressed breath, gazing on the distant curtain with
a painful glance of agitated fascination. At length, summoning her
energies as if for the achievement of some terrible yet inevitable
enterprise, she crossed the room, and averting her face, and closing
her eyes in a paroxysm of nervous excitement, she stretched forth her
arm, and with a rapid motion withdrew the curtain. The harsh sound of
the brass rings drawn quickly over the rod, the only noise that had
yet met her ear in this mystical chamber, made her start and tremble.
She looked up, she beheld, in a broad and massy frame, the full-length
portrait of a man.

A man in the very spring of sunny youth, and of radiant beauty. Above
the middle height, yet with a form that displayed exquisite grace, he
was habited in a green tunic that enveloped his figure to advantage,
and became the scene in which he was placed: a park, with a castle in
the distance; while a groom at hand held a noble steed, that seemed
impatient for the chase. The countenance of its intended rider met
fully the gaze of the spectator. It was a countenance of singular
loveliness and power. The lips and the moulding of the chin resembled
the eager and impassioned tenderness of the shape of Antinous; but
instead of the effeminate sullenness of the eye, and the narrow
smoothness of the forehead, shone an expression of profound and
piercing thought. On each side of the clear and open brow descended,
even to the shoulders, the clustering locks of golden hair; while the
eyes, large and yet deep, beamed with a spiritual energy, and shone
like two wells of crystalline water that reflect the all-beholding
heavens.

Now when Venetia Herbert beheld this countenance a change came over
her. It seemed that when her eyes met the eyes of the portrait, some
mutual interchange of sympathy occurred between them. She freed
herself in an instant from the apprehension and timidity that before
oppressed her. Whatever might ensue, a vague conviction of having
achieved a great object pervaded, as it were, her being. Some great
end, vast though indefinite, had been fulfilled. Abstract and
fearless, she gazed upon the dazzling visage with a prophetic heart.
Her soul was in a tumult, oppressed with thick-coming fancies too big
for words, panting for expression. There was a word which must be
spoken: it trembled on her convulsive lip, and would not sound. She
looked around her with an eye glittering with unnatural fire, as if to
supplicate some invisible and hovering spirit to her rescue, or that
some floating and angelic chorus might warble the thrilling word whose
expression seemed absolutely necessary to her existence. Her cheek
is flushed, her eye wild and tremulous, the broad blue veins of her
immaculate brow quivering and distended; her waving hair falls back
over her forehead, and rustles like a wood before the storm. She seems
a priestess in the convulsive throes of inspiration, and about to
breathe the oracle. The picture, as we have mentioned, was hung in
a broad and massy frame. In the centre of its base was worked an
escutcheon, and beneath the shield this inscription:

    MARMION HERBERT, AET. XX.

Yet there needed not these letters to guide the agitated spirit of
Venetia, for, before her eye had reached them, the word was spoken;
and falling on her knees before the portrait, the daughter of Lady
Annabel had exclaimed, 'My father!'



CHAPTER V.


The daughter still kneels before the form of the father, of whom she
had heard for the first time in her life. He is at length discovered.
It was, then, an irresistible destiny that, after the wild musings and
baffled aspirations of so many years, had guided her to this chamber.
She is the child of Marmion Herbert; she beholds her lost parent. That
being of supernatural beauty, on whom she gazes with a look of blended
reverence and love, is her father. What a revelation! Its reality
exceeded the wildest dreams of her romance; her brightest visions of
grace and loveliness and genius seemed personified in this form; the
form of one to whom she was bound by the strongest of all earthly
ties, of one on whose heart she had a claim second only to that of the
being by whose lips his name was never mentioned. Was he, then, no
more? Ah! could she doubt that bitterest calamity? Ah! was it, was
it any longer a marvel, that one who had lived in the light of those
seraphic eyes, and had watched them until their terrestrial splendour
had been for ever extinguished, should shrink from the converse that
could remind her of the catastrophe of all her earthly hopes! This
chamber, then, was the temple of her mother's woe, the tomb of her
baffled affections and bleeding heart. No wonder that Lady Annabel,
the desolate Lady Annabel, that almost the same spring must have
witnessed the most favoured and the most disconsolate of women, should
have fled from the world that had awarded her at the same time a lot
so dazzling and so full of despair. Venetia felt that the existence
of her mother's child, her own fragile being, could have been that
mother's sole link to life. The heart of the young widow of Marmion
Herbert must have broken but for Venetia; and the consciousness of
that remaining tie, and the duties that it involved, could alone have
sustained the victim under a lot of such unparalleled bitterness. The
tears streamed down her cheek as she thought of her mother's misery,
and her mother's gentle love; the misery that she had been so cautious
her child should never share; the vigilant affection that, with all
her own hopes blighted, had still laboured to compensate to her
child for a deprivation the fulness of which Venetia could only now
comprehend.

When, where, why did he die? Oh that she might talk of him to her
mother for ever! It seemed that life might pass away in listening to
his praises. Marmion Herbert! and who was Marmion Herbert? Young as he
was, command and genius, the pride of noble passions, all the glory of
a creative mind, seemed stamped upon his brow. With all his marvellous
beauty, he seemed a being born for greatness. Dead! in the very burst
of his spring, a spring so sweet and splendid; could he be dead? Why,
then, was he ever born? It seemed to her that he could not be dead;
there was an animated look about the form, that seemed as if it could
not die without leaving mankind a prodigal legacy of fame.

Venetia turned and looked upon her parents' bridal bed. Now that
she had discovered her father's portrait, every article in the room
interested her, for her imagination connected everything with him. She
touched the wreath of withered roses, and one instantly broke away
from the circle, and fell; she knelt down, and gathered up the
scattered leaves, and placed them in her bosom. She approached the
table in the oriel: in its centre was a volume, on which reposed a
dagger of curious workmanship; the volume bound in velvet, and the
word 'ANNABEL' embroidered upon it in gold. Venetia unclasped it. The
volume was his; in a fly-leaf were written these words:

    'TO THE LADY OF MY LOVE, FROM HER MARMION HERBERT.'

With a fluttering heart, yet sparkling eye, Venetia sank into a chair,
which was placed before the table, with all her soul concentred in the
contents of this volume. Leaning on her right hand, which shaded her
agitated brow, she turned a page of the volume with a trembling hand.
It contained a sonnet, delineating the feelings of a lover at the
first sight of his beloved, a being to him yet unknown. Venetia
perused with breathless interest the graceful and passionate picture
of her mother's beauty. A series of similar compositions detailed the
history of the poet's heart, and all the thrilling adventures of his
enchanted life. Not an incident, not a word, not a glance, in that
spell-bound prime of existence, that was not commemorated by his lyre
in strains as sweet and as witching! Now he poured forth his passion;
now his doubts; now his hopes; now came the glowing hour when he was
first assured of his felicity; the next page celebrated her visit to
the castle of his fathers; and another led her to the altar.

With a flushed cheek and an excited eye, Venetia had rapidly pored
over these ardent annals of the heart from whose blood she had sprung.
She turns the page; she starts; the colour deserts her countenance;
a mist glides over her vision; she clasps her hands with convulsive
energy; she sinks back in her chair. In a few moments she extends one
hand, as if fearful again to touch the book that had excited so much
emotion, raises herself in her seat, looks around her with a vacant
and perplexed gaze, apparently succeeds in collecting herself, and
then seizes, with an eager grasp, the volume, and throwing herself on
her, knees before the chair, her long locks hanging on each side over
a cheek crimson as the sunset, loses her whole soul in the lines which
the next page reveals.

  ON THE NIGHT OUR DAUGHTER WAS BORN.

  I.

  Within our heaven of love, the new-born star
  We long devoutly watched, like shepherd kings,
  Steals into light, and, floating from afar,
  Methinks some bright transcendent seraph sings,
  Waving with flashing light her radiant wings,
  Immortal welcome to the stranger fair:
  To us a child is born. With transport clings
  The mother to the babe she sighed to bear;
  Of all our treasured loves the long-expected heir!

  II.

  My daughter! can it be a daughter now
  Shall greet my being with her infant smile?
  And shall I press that fair and taintless brow
  With my fond lips, and tempt, with many a wile
  Of playful love, those features to beguile
  A parent with their mirth? In the wild sea
  Of this dark life, behold a little isle
  Rises amid the waters, bright and free,
  A haven for my hopes of fond security!

  III.

  And thou shalt bear a name my line has loved,
  And their fair daughters owned for many an age,
  Since first our fiery blood a wanderer roved,
  And made in sunnier lands his pilgrimage,
  Where proud defiance with the waters wage
  The sea-born city's walls; the graceful towers
  Loved by the bard and honoured by the sage!
  My own VENETIA now shall gild our bowers,
  And with her spell enchain our life's enchanted hours!

  IV.

  Oh! if the blessing of a father's heart
  Hath aught of sacred in its deep-breath'd prayer,
  Skilled to thy gentle being to impart,
  As thy bright form itself, a fate as fair;
  On thee I breathe that blessing! Let me share,
  O God! her joys; and if the dark behest
  Of woe resistless, and avoidless care,
  Hath, not gone forth, oh! spare this gentle guest.
  And wreak thy needful wrath on my resigned breast!

An hour elapsed, and Venetia did not move. Over and over again she
conned the only address from the lips of her father that had ever
reached her ear. A strange inspiration seconded the exertion of an
exercised memory. The duty was fulfilled, the task completed. Then
a sound was heard without. The thought that her mother had returned
occurred to her; she looked up, the big tears streaming down her face;
she listened, like a young hind just roused by the still-distant
huntsman, quivering and wild: she listened, and she sprang up,
replaced the volume, arranged the chair, cast one long, lingering,
feverish glance at the portrait, skimmed through the room, hesitated
one moment in the ante-chamber; opened, as all was silent, the no
longer mysterious door, turned the noiseless lock, tripped lightly
along the vestibule; glided into her mother's empty apartment,
reposited the key that had opened so many wonders in the casket; and,
then, having hurried to her own chamber, threw herself on her bed in a
paroxysm of contending emotions, that left her no power of pondering
over the strange discovery that had already given a new colour to her
existence.



CHAPTER VI.


Her mother had not returned; it was a false alarm; but Venetia could
not quit her bed. There she remained, repeating to herself her
father's verses. Then one thought alone filled her being. Was he dead?
Was this fond father, who had breathed this fervent blessing over her
birth, and invoked on his own head all the woe and misfortunes of her
destiny, was he, indeed, no more? How swiftly must the arrow have sped
after he received the announcement that a child was given to him,

  Of all his treasured loves the long-expected heir!

He could scarcely have embraced her ere the great Being, to whom he
had offered his prayer, summoned him to his presence! Of that father
she had not the slightest recollection; she had ascertained that she
had reached Cherbury a child, even in arms, and she knew that her
father had never lived under the roof. What an awful bereavement! Was
it wonderful that her mother was inconsolable? Was it wonderful that
she could not endure even his name to be mentioned in her presence;
that not the slightest allusion to his existence could be tolerated by
a wife who had been united to such a peerless being, only to behold
him torn away from her embraces? Oh! could he, indeed, be dead? That
inspired countenance that seemed immortal, had it in a moment been
dimmed? and all the symmetry of that matchless form, had it indeed
been long mouldering in the dust? Why should she doubt it? Ah! why,
indeed? How could she doubt it? Why, ever and anon, amid the tumult of
her excited mind, came there an unearthly whisper to her ear, mocking
her with the belief that he still lived? But he was dead; he must be
dead; and why did she live? Could she survive what she had seen and
learnt this day? Did she wish to survive it? But her mother, her
mother with all her sealed-up sorrows, had survived him. Why? For her
sake; for her child; for 'his own Venetia!' His own!

She clenched her feverish hand, her temples beat with violent
palpitations, her brow was burning hot. Time flew on, and every minute
Venetia was more sensible of the impossibility of rising to welcome
her mother. That mother at length returned; Venetia could not again
mistake the wheels of the returning carriage. Some minutes passed, and
there was a knock at her door. With a choking voice Venetia bade them
enter. It was Pauncefort.

'Well, Miss,' she exclaimed, 'if you ayn't here, after all! I told my
lady, "My lady," says I, "I am sure Miss Venetia must be in the park,
for I saw her go out myself, and I have never seen her come home."
And, after all, you are here. My lady has come home, you know, Miss,
and has been inquiring for you several times.'

'Tell mamma that I am not very well,' said Venetia, in a low voice,
'and that I have been obliged to lie down.'

'Not well, Miss,' exclaimed Pauncefort; 'and what can be the matter
with you? I am afraid you have walked too much; overdone it, I dare
say; or, mayhap, you have caught cold; it is an easterly wind: for I
was saying to John this morning, "John," says I, "if Miss Venetia will
walk about with only a handkerchief tied round her head, why, what can
be expected?"'

'I have only a headache, a very bad headache, Pauncefort; I wish to be
quiet,' said Venetia.

Pauncefort left the room accordingly, and straightway proceeded to
Lady Annabel, when she communicated the information that Miss Venetia
was in the house, after all, though she had never seen her return,
and that she was lying down because she had a very bad headache. Lady
Annabel, of course, did not lose a moment in visiting her darling. She
entered the room softly, so softly that she was not heard; Venetia was
lying on her bed, with her back to the door. Lady Annabel stood by her
bedside for some moments unnoticed. At length Venetia heaved a
deep sigh. Her mother then said in a soft voice, 'Are you in pain,
darling?'

'Is that mamma?' said Venetia, turning with quickness.

'You are ill, dear,' said Lady Annabel, taking her hand. 'Your hand is
hot; you are feverish. How long has my Venetia felt ill?'

Venetia could not answer; she did nothing but sigh. Her strange manner
excited her mother's wonder. Lady Annabel sat by the bedside, still
holding her daughter's hand in hers, watching her with a glance of
great anxiety.

'Answer me, my love,' she repeated in a voice of tenderness. 'What do
you feel?'

'My head, my head,' murmured Venetia.

Her mother pressed her own hand to her daughter's brow; it was very hot.
'Does that pain you?' inquired Lady Annabel; but Venetia did not reply;
her look was wild and abstracted. Her mother gently withdrew her hand,
and then summoned Pauncefort, with whom she communicated without
permitting her to enter the room.

'Miss Herbert is very ill,' said Lady Annabel, pale, but in a firm
tone. 'I am alarmed about her. She appears to me to have fever; send
instantly to Southport for Mr. Hawkins; and let the messenger use
and urge all possible expedition. Be in attendance in the vestibule,
Pauncefort; I shall not quit her room, but she must be kept perfectly
quiet.'

Lady Annabel then drew her chair to the bedside of her daughter, and
bathed her temples at intervals with rose-water; but none of these
attentions apparently attracted the notice of the sufferer. She was,
it would seem, utterly unconscious of all that was occurring. She now
lay with her face turned towards her mother, but did not exchange even
looks with her. She was restless, and occasionally she sighed deeply.

Once, by way of experiment, Lady Annabel again addressed her, but
Venetia gave no answer. Then the mother concluded what, indeed, had
before attracted her suspicion, that Venetia's head was affected. But
then, what was this strange, this sudden attack, which appeared to
have prostrated her daughter's faculties in an instant? A few hours
back, and Lady Annabel had parted from Venetia in all the glow of
health and beauty. The season was most genial; her exercise had
doubtless been moderate; as for her general health, so complete was
her constitution, and so calm the tenour of her life, that Venetia
had scarcely experienced in her whole career a single hour of
indisposition. It was an anxious period of suspense until the medical
attendant arrived from Southport. Fortunately he was one in whom, from
reputation, Lady Annabel was disposed to place great trust; and his
matured years, his thoughtful manner, and acute inquiries, confirmed
her favourable opinion of him. All that Mr. Hawkins could say,
however, was, that Miss Herbert had a great deal of fever, but the
cause was concealed, and the suddenness of the attack perplexed him.
He administered one of the usual remedies; and after an hour had
elapsed, and no favourable change occurring, he blooded her. He
quitted Cherbury, with the promise of returning late in the evening,
having several patients whom he was obliged to visit.

The night drew on; the chamber was now quite closed, but Lady Annabel
never quitted it. She sat reading, removed from her daughter, that her
presence might not disturb her, for Venetia seemed inclined to sleep.
Suddenly Venetia spoke; but she said only one word, 'Father!'

Lady Annabel started; her book nearly fell from her hand; she grew
very pale. Quite breathless, she listened, and again Venetia spoke,
and again called upon her father. Now, with a great effort, Lady
Annabel stole on tiptoe to the bedside of her daughter. Venetia was
lying on her back, her eyes were closed, her lips still as it were
quivering with the strange word they had dared to pronounce. Again
her voice sounded; she chanted, in an unearthly voice, verses. The
perspiration stood in large drops on the pallid forehead of the mother
as she listened. Still Venetia proceeded; and Lady Annabel, throwing
herself on her knees, held up her hands to Heaven in an agony of
astonishment, terror, and devotion.

Now there was again silence; but her mother remained apparently buried
in prayer. Again Venetia spoke; again she repeated the mysterious
stanzas. With convulsive agony her mother listened to every fatal line
that she unconsciously pronounced.

The secret was then discovered. Yes! Venetia must have penetrated the
long-closed chamber; all the labours of years had in a moment been
subverted; Venetia had discovered her parent, and the effects of the
discovery might, perhaps, be her death. Then it was that Lady Annabel,
in the torture of her mind, poured forth her supplications that the
life or the heart of her child might never be lost to her, 'Grant, O
merciful God!' she exclaimed, 'that this sole hope of my being may be
spared to me. Grant, if she be spared, that she may never desert her
mother! And for him, of whom she has heard this day for the first
time, let him be to her as if he were no more! May she never learn
that he lives! May she never comprehend the secret agony of her
mother's life! Save her, O God! save her from his fatal, his
irresistible influence! May she remain pure and virtuous as she has
yet lived! May she remain true to thee, and true to thy servant, who
now bows before thee! Look down upon me at this moment with gracious
mercy; turn to me my daughter's heart; and, if it be my dark doom to
be in this world a widow, though a wife, add not to this bitterness
that I shall prove a mother without a child!'

At this moment the surgeon returned. It was absolutely necessary that
Lady Annabel should compose herself. She exerted all that strength of
character for which she was remarkable. From this moment she resolved,
if her life were the forfeit, not to quit for an instant the bedside
of Venetia until she was declared out of danger; and feeling conscious
that if she once indulged her own feelings, she might herself soon
be in a situation scarcely less hazardous than her daughter's, she
controlled herself with a mighty effort. Calm as a statue, she
received the medical attendant, who took the hand of the unconscious
Venetia with apprehension too visibly impressed upon his grave
countenance. As he took her hand, Venetia opened her eyes, stared at
her mother and her attendant, and then immediately closed them.

'She has slept?' inquired Lady Annabel.

'No,' said the surgeon, 'no: this is not sleep; it is a feverish
trance that brings her no refreshment.' He took out his watch, and
marked her pulse with great attention; then he placed his hand on her
brow, and shook his head. 'These beautiful curls must come off,' he
said. Lady Annabel glided to the table, and instantly brought the
scissors, as if the delay of an instant might be fatal. The surgeon
cut off those long golden locks. Venetia raised her hand to her head,
and said, in a low voice, 'They are for my father.' Lady Annabel leant
upon the surgeon's arm and shook.

Now he led the mother to the window, and spoke in a hushed tone.

'Is it possible that there is anything on your daughter's mind, Lady
Annabel?' he inquired.

The agitated mother looked at the inquirer, and then at her daughter;
and then for a moment she raised her hand to her eyes; then she
replied, in a low but firm voice, 'Yes.'

'Your ladyship must judge whether you wish me to be acquainted with
it,' said Mr. Hawkins, calmly.

'My daughter has suddenly become acquainted, sir, with some family
incidents of a painful nature, and the knowledge of which I have
hitherto spared her. They are events long past, and their consequences
are now beyond all control.'

'She knows, then, the worst?'

'Without her mind, I cannot answer that question,' said Lady Annabel.

'It is my duty to tell you that Miss Herbert is in imminent danger;
she has every appearance of a fever of a malignant character. I cannot
answer for her life.'

'O God!' exclaimed Lady Annabel.

'Yet you must compose yourself, my dear lady. Her chance of recovery
greatly depends upon the vigilance of her attendants. I shall bleed
her again, and place leeches on her temples. There is inflammation on
the brain. There are other remedies also not less powerful. We must
not despair; we have no cause to despair until we find these fail. I
shall not leave her again; and, for your satisfaction, not for my own,
I shall call in additional advice, the aid of a physician.'

A messenger accordingly was instantly despatched for the physician,
who resided at a town more distant than Southport; the very town,
by-the-bye, where Morgana, the gipsy, was arrested. They contrived,
with the aid of Pauncefort, to undress Venetia, and place her in her
bed, for hitherto they had refrained from this exertion. At this
moment the withered leaves of a white rose fell from Venetia's dress.
A sofa-bed was then made for Lady Annabel, of which, however, she did
not avail herself. The whole night she sat by her daughter's side,
watching every movement of Venetia, refreshing her hot brow and
parched lips, or arranging, at every opportunity, her disordered
pillows. About an hour past midnight the surgeon retired to rest, for
a few hours, in the apartment prepared for him, and Pauncefort, by the
desire of her mistress, also withdrew: Lady Annabel was alone with her
child, and with those agitated thoughts which the strange occurrences
of the day were well calculated to excite.



CHAPTER VII.


Early in the morning the physician arrived at Cherbury. It remained
for him only to approve of the remedies which had been pursued. No
material change, however, had occurred in the state of Venetia: she
had not slept, and still she seemed unconscious of what was occurring.
The gracious interposition of Nature seemed the only hope. When the
medical men had withdrawn to consult in the terrace-room, Lady Annabel
beckoned to Pauncefort, and led her to the window of Venetia's
apartment, which she would not quit.

'Pauncefort,' said Lady Annabel, 'Venetia has been in her father's
room.'

'Oh! impossible, my lady,' burst forth Mistress Pauncefort; but Lady
Annabel placed her finger on her lip, and checked her. 'There is no
doubt of it, there can be no doubt of it, Pauncefort; she entered it
yesterday; she must have passed the morning there, when you believed
she was in the park.'

'But, my lady,' said Pauncefort, 'how could it be? For I scarcely left
your la'ship's room a second, and Miss Venetia, I am sure, never was
near it. And the key, my lady, the key is in the casket. I saw it half
an hour ago with my own eyes.'

'There is no use arguing about it, Pauncefort,' said Lady Annabel,
with decision. 'It is as I say. I fear great misfortunes are about to
commence at Cherbury.'

'Oh! my lady, don't think of such things,' said Pauncefort, herself
not a little alarmed. 'What can happen?'

'I fear more than I know,' said Lady Annabel; 'but I do fear much. At
present I can only think of her.'

'Well! my lady,' said poor Mistress Pauncefort, looking bewildered,
'only to think of such a thing! and after all the pains I have taken!
I am sure I have not opened my lips on the subject these fifteen
years; and the many questions I have been asked too! I am sure there
is not a servant in the house--'

'Hush! hush!' said Lady Annabel, 'I do not blame you, and therefore
you need not defend yourself. Go, Pauncefort, I must be alone.'
Pauncefort withdrew, and Lady Annabel resumed her seat by her
daughter's side.

On the fourth day of her attack the medical attendants observed a
favourable change in their patient, and were not, of course, slow in
communicating this joyful intelligence to her mother. The crisis had
occurred and was past: Venetia had at length sunk into slumber. How
different was her countenance from the still yet settled features
they had before watched with such anxiety! She breathed lightly, the
tension of the eyelids had disappeared, her mouth was slightly open.
The physician and his colleague declared that immediate danger was
past, and they counselled Lady Annabel to take repose. On condition
that one of them should remain by the side of her daughter, the
devoted yet miserable mother quitted, for the first time her child's
apartment. Pauncefort followed her to her room.

'Oh! my lady,' said Pauncefort, 'I am so glad your la'ship is going to
lie down a bit.'

'I am not going to lie down, Pauncefort. Give me the key.'

And Lady Annabel proceeded alone to the forbidden chamber, that
chamber which, after what has occurred, we may now enter with her, and
where, with so much labour, she had created a room exactly imitative
of their bridal apartment at her husband's castle. With a slow but
resolved step she entered the apartment, and proceeding immediately to
the table, took up the book; it opened at the stanzas to Venetia. The
pages had recently been bedewed with tears. Lady Annabel then looked
at the bridal bed, and marked the missing rose in the garland: it was
as she expected. She seated herself then in the chair opposite the
portrait, on which she gazed with a glance rather stern than fond.

'Marmion,' she exclaimed, 'for fifteen years, a solitary votary,
I have mourned over, in this temple of baffled affections, the
inevitable past. The daughter of our love has found her way, perhaps
by an irresistible destiny, to a spot sacred to my long-concealed
sorrows. At length she knows her father. May she never know more! May
she never learn that the being, whose pictured form has commanded her
adoration, is unworthy of those glorious gifts that a gracious Creator
has bestowed upon him! Marmion, you seem to smile upon me; you seem
to exult in your triumph over the heart of your child. But there is a
power in a mother's love that yet shall baffle you. Hitherto I have
come here to deplore the past; hitherto I have come here to dwell
upon the form that, in spite of all that has happened, I still was,
perhaps, weak enough, to love. Those feelings are past for ever. Yes!
you would rob me of my child, you would tear from my heart the only
consolation you have left me. But Venetia shall still be mine; and
I, I am no longer yours. Our love, our still lingering love, has
vanished. You have been my enemy, now I am yours. I gaze upon your
portrait for the last time; and thus I prevent the magical fascination
of that face again appealing to the sympathies of my child. Thus and
thus!' She seized the ancient dagger that we have mentioned as lying
on the volume, and, springing on the chair, she plunged it into the
canvas; then, tearing with unflinching resolution the severed parts,
she scattered the fragments over the chamber, shook into a thousand
leaves the melancholy garland, tore up the volume of his enamoured
Muse, and then quitting the chamber, and locking and double locking
the door, she descended the staircase, and proceeding to the great
well of Cherbury, hurled into it the fatal key.

'Oh! my lady,' said Mistress Pauncefort, as she met Lady Annabel
returning in the vestibule, 'Doctor Masham is here.'

'Is he?' said Lady Annabel, as calm as usual. 'I will see him before I
lie down. Do not go into Venetia's room. She sleeps, and Mr. Hawkins
has promised me to let me know when she wakes.'



CHAPTER VIII.


As Lady Annabel entered the terrace-room, Doctor Masham came forward
and grasped her hand.

'You have heard of our sorrow!' said her ladyship in a faint voice.

'But this instant,' replied the Doctor, in a tone of great anxiety.'
Immediate danger--'

'Is past. She sleeps,' replied Lady Annabel.

'A most sudden and unaccountable attack,' said the Doctor.

It is difficult to describe the contending emotions of the mother as
her companion made this observation. At length she replied, 'Sudden,
certainly sudden; but not unaccountable. Oh! my friend,' she added,
after a moment's pause, 'they will not be content until they have torn
my daughter from me.'

'They tear your daughter from you!' exclaimed Doctor Masham. 'Who?'

'He, he,' muttered Lady Annabel; her speech was incoherent, her manner
very disturbed.

'My dear lady,' said the Doctor, gazing on her with extreme anxiety,
'you are yourself unwell.'

Lady Annabel heaved a deep sigh; the Doctor bore her to a seat. 'Shall
I send for any one, anything?'

'No one, no one,' quickly answered Lady Annabel. 'With you, at least,
there is no concealment necessary.'

She leant back in her chair, the Doctor holding her hand, and standing
by her side.

Still Lady Annabel continued sighing deeply: at length she looked up
and said, 'Does she love me? Do you think, after all, she loves me?'

'Venetia?' inquired the Doctor, in a low and doubtful voice, for he
was greatly perplexed.

'She has seen him; she loves him; she has forgotten her mother.'

'My dear lady, you require rest,' said Doctor Masham. 'You are
overcome with strange fancies. Whom has your daughter seen?'

'Marmion.'

'Impossible! you forget he is--'

'Here also. He has spoken to her: she loves him: she will recover: she
will fly to him; sooner let us both die!'

'Dear lady!'

'She knows everything. Fate has baffled me; we cannot struggle with
fate. She is his child; she is like him; she is not like her mother.
Oh! she hates me; I know she hates me.'

'Hush! hush! hush!' said the Doctor, himself very agitated. 'Venetia
loves you, only you. Why should she love any one else?'

'Who can help it? I loved him. I saw him. I loved him. His voice was
music. He has spoken to her, and she yielded: she yielded in a moment.
I stood by her bedside. She would not speak to me; she would not know
me; she shrank from me. Her heart is with her father: only with him.'

'Where did she see him? How?'

'His room: his picture. She knows all. I was away with you, and she
entered his chamber.'

'Ah!'

'Oh! Doctor, you have influence with her. Speak to her. Make her love
me! Tell her she has no father; tell her he is dead.'

'We will do that which is well and wise,' replied Doctor Masham: 'at
present let us be calm; if you give way, her life may be the forfeit.
Now is the moment for a mother's love.'

'You are right. I should not have left her for an instant. I would not
have her wake and find her mother not watching over her. But I was
tempted. She slept; I left her for a moment; I went to destroy the
spell. She cannot see him again. No one shall see him again. It was my
weakness, the weakness of long years; and now I am its victim.'

'Nay, nay, my sweet lady, all will be quite well. Be but calm; Venetia
will recover.'

'But will she love me? Oh! no, no, no! She will think only of him. She
will not love her mother. She will yearn for her father now. She has
seen him, and she will not rest until she is in his arms. She will
desert me, I know it.'

'And I know the contrary,' said the Doctor, attempting to reassure
her; 'I will answer for Venetia's devotion to you. Indeed she has no
thought but your happiness, and can love only you. When there is
a fitting time, I will speak to her; but now, now is the time for
repose. And you must rest, you must indeed.'

'Rest! I cannot. I slumbered in the chair last night by her bedside,
and a voice roused me. It was her own. She was speaking to her father.
She told him how she loved him; how long, how much she thought of him;
that she would join him when she was well, for she knew he was not
dead; and, if he were dead, she would die also. She never mentioned
me.'

'Nay! the light meaning of a delirious brain.' 'Truth, truth, bitter,
inevitable truth. Oh! Doctor, I could bear all but this; but my child,
my beautiful fond child, that made up for all my sorrows. My joy, my
hope, my life! I knew it would be so; I knew he would have her heart.
He said she never could be alienated from him; he said she never
could be taught to hate him. I did not teach her to hate him. I said
nothing. I deemed, fond, foolish mother, that the devotion of my life
might bind her to me. But what is a mother's love? I cannot contend
with him. He gained the mother; he will gain the daughter too.'

'God will guard over you,' said Masham, with streaming eyes; 'God will
not desert a pious and virtuous woman.'

'I must go,' said Lady Annabel, attempting to rise, but the Doctor
gently controlled her; 'perhaps she is awake, and I am not at her
side. She will not ask for me, she will ask for him; but I will be
there; she will desert me, but she shall not say I ever deserted her.'

'She will never desert you,' said the Doctor; 'my life on her pure
heart. She has been a child of unbroken love and duty; still she
will remain so. Her mind is for a moment overpowered by a marvellous
discovery. She will recover, and be to you as she was before.'

'We'll tell her he is dead,' said Lady Annabel, eagerly. 'You must
tell her. She will believe you. I cannot speak to her of him; no, not
to secure her heart; never, never, never can I speak to Venetia of her
father.'

'I will speak,' replied the Doctor, 'at the just time. Now let us
think of her recovery. She is no longer in danger. We should be
grateful, we should be glad.'

'Let us pray to God! Let us humble ourselves,' said Lady Annabel. 'Let
us beseech him not to desert this house. We have been faithful to him,
we have struggled to be faithful to him. Let us supplicate him to
favour and support us!'

'He will favour and support you,' said the Doctor, in a solemn tone.
'He has upheld you in many trials; he will uphold you still.'

'Ah! why did I love him! Why did I continue to love him! How weak, how
foolish, how mad I have been! I have alone been the cause of all this
misery. Yes, I have destroyed my child.'

'She lives, she will live. Nay, nay! you must reassure yourself. Come,
let me send for your servant, and for a moment repose. Nay! take my
arm. All depends upon you. We have great cares now; let us not conjure
up fantastic fears.'

'I must go to my daughter's room. Perhaps by her side I might rest.
Nowhere else. You will attend me to the door, my friend. Yes! it is
something in this life to have a friend.'

Lady Annabel took the arm of the good Masham. They stopped at her
daughter's door.

'Rest here a moment,' she said, as she entered the room without a
sound. In a moment she returned. 'She still sleeps,' said the mother;
'I shall remain with her, and you--?'

'I will not leave you,' said the Doctor, 'but think not of me. Nay! I
will not leave you. I will remain under this roof. I have shared its
serenity and joy; let me not avoid it in this time of trouble and
tribulation.'



CHAPTER IX.


Venetia still slept: her mother alone in the chamber watched by her
side. Some hours had elapsed since her interview with Dr. Masham; the
medical attendant had departed for a few hours.

Suddenly Venetia moved, opened her eyes, and said in a faint voice,
'Mamma!'

The blood rushed to Lady Annabel's heart. That single word afforded
her the most exquisite happiness.

'I am here, dearest,' she replied.

'Mamma, what is all this?' inquired Venetia.

'You have not been well, my own, but now you are much better.'

'I thought I had been dreaming,' replied Venetia, 'and that all was
not right; somebody, I thought, struck me on my head. But all is right
now, because you are here, my dear mamma.'

But Lady Annabel could not speak for weeping.

'Are you sure, mamma, that nothing has been done to my head?'
continued Venetia. 'Why, what is this?' and she touched a light
bandage on her brow.

'My darling, you have been ill, and you have lost blood; but now you
are getting quite well. I have been very unhappy about you; but now I
am quite happy, my sweet, sweet child.'

'How long have I been ill?'

'You have been very ill indeed for four or five days; you have had a
fever, Venetia; but now the fever is gone; and you are only a little
weak, and you will soon be well.'

'A fever! and how did I get the fever?'

'Perhaps you caught cold, my child; but we must not talk too much.'

'A fever! I never had a fever before. A fever is like a dream.'

'Hush! sweet love. Indeed you must not speak.'

'Give me your hand, mamma; I will not speak if you will let me hold
your hand. I thought in the fever that we were parted.'

'I have never left your side, my child, day or night,' said Lady
Annabel, not without agitation.

'All this time! all these days and nights! No one would do that but
you, mamma. You think only of me.'

'You repay me by your love, Venetia,' said Lady Annabel, feeling that
her daughter ought not to speak, yet irresistibly impelled to lead out
her thoughts.

'How can I help loving you, my dear mamma?'

'You do love me, you do love me very much; do you not, sweet child?'

'Better than all the world,' replied Venetia to her enraptured parent.
'And yet, in the fever I seemed to love some one else: but fevers are
like dreams; they are not true.'

Lady Annabel pressed her lips gently to her daughter's, and whispered
her that she must speak no more.

When Mr. Hawkins returned, he gave a favourable report of Venetia. He
said that all danger was now past, and that all that was required for
her recovery were time, care, and repose. He repeated to Lady Annabel
alone that the attack was solely to be ascribed to some great mental
shock which her daughter had received, and which suddenly had affected
her circulation; leaving it, after this formal intimation, entirely to
the mother to take those steps in reference to the cause, whatever it
might be, which she should deem expedient.

In the evening, Lady Annabel stole down for a few moments to Dr.
Masham, laden with joyful intelligence; assured of the safety of her
child, and, what was still more precious, of her heart, and even
voluntarily promising her friend that she should herself sleep
this night in her daughter's chamber, on the sofa-bed. The Doctor,
therefore, now bade her adieu, and said that he should ride over from
Marringhurst every day, to hear how their patient was proceeding.

From this time, the recovery of Venetia, though slow, was gradual. She
experienced no relapse, and in a few weeks quitted her bed. She was
rather surprised at her altered appearance when it first met her
glance in the mirror, but scarcely made any observation on the loss of
her locks. During this interval, the mind of Venetia had been quite
dormant; the rage of the fever, and the violent remedies to which it
had been necessary to have recourse, had so exhausted her, that she
had not energy enough to think. All that she felt was a strange
indefinite conviction that some occurrence had taken place with which
her memory could not grapple. But as her strength returned, and as she
gradually resumed her usual health, by proportionate though almost
invisible degrees her memory returned to her, and her intelligence.
She clearly recollected and comprehended what had taken place. She
recalled the past, compared incidents, weighed circumstances, sifted
and balanced the impressions that now crowded upon her consciousness.
It is difficult to describe each link in the metaphysical chain which
at length connected the mind of Venetia Herbert with her actual
experience and precise situation. It was, however, at length perfect,
and gradually formed as she sat in an invalid chair, apparently
listless, not yet venturing on any occupation, or occasionally amused
for a moment by her mother reading to her. But when her mind had thus
resumed its natural tone, and in time its accustomed vigour, the past
demanded all her solicitude. At length the mystery of her birth was
revealed to her. She was the daughter of Marmion Herbert; and who was
Marmion Herbert? The portrait rose before her. How distinct was the
form, how definite the countenance! No common personage was Marmion
Herbert, even had he not won his wife, and celebrated his daughter in
such witching strains. Genius was stamped on his lofty brow, and spoke
in his brilliant eye; nobility was in all his form. This chivalric
poet was her father. She had read, she had dreamed of such beings, she
had never seen them. If she quitted the solitude in which she lived,
would she see men like her father? No other could ever satisfy her
imagination; all beneath that standard would rank but as imperfect
creations in her fancy. And this father, he was dead. No doubt.
Ah! was there indeed no doubt? Eager as was her curiosity on this
all-absorbing subject, Venetia could never summon courage to speak
upon it to her mother. Her first disobedience, or rather her first
deception of her mother, in reference to this very subject, had
brought, and brought so swiftly on its retributive wings, such
disastrous consequences, that any allusion to Lady Annabel was
restrained by a species of superstitious fear, against which Venetia
could not contend. Then her father was either dead or living. That was
certain. If dead, it was clear that his memory, however cherished by
his relict, was associated with feelings too keen to admit of any
other but solitary indulgence. If living, there was a mystery
connected with her parents, a mystery evidently of a painful
character, and one which it was a prime object with her mother to
conceal and to suppress. Could Venetia, then, in defiance of that
mother, that fond devoted mother, that mother who had watched through
long days and long nights over her sick bed, and who now, without a
murmur, was a prisoner to this very room, only to comfort and console
her child: could Venetia take any step which might occasion this
matchless parent even a transient pang? No; it was impossible. To her
mother she could never speak. And yet, to remain enveloped in the
present mystery, she was sensible, was equally insufferable. All she
asked, all she wanted to know, was he alive? If he were alive, then,
although she could not see him, though she might never see him, she
could exist upon his idea; she could conjure up romances of future
existence with him; she could live upon the fond hope of some day
calling him father, and receiving from his hands the fervid blessing
he had already breathed to her in song.

In the meantime her remaining parent commanded all her affections.
Even if he were no more, blessed was her lot with such a mother! Lady
Annabel seemed only to exist to attend upon her daughter. No lover
ever watched with such devotion the wants or even the caprices of his
mistress. A thousand times every day Venetia found herself expressing
her fondness and her gratitude. It seemed that the late dreadful
contingency of losing her daughter had developed in Lady Annabel's
heart even additional powers of maternal devotion; and Venetia, the
fond and grateful Venetia, ignorant of the strange past, which she
believed she so perfectly comprehended, returned thanks to Heaven that
her mother was at least spared the mortification of knowing that her
daughter, in her absence, had surreptitiously invaded the sanctuary of
her secret sorrow.



CHAPTER X.


When Venetia had so far recovered that, leaning on her mother's arm,
she could resume her walks upon the terrace, Doctor Masham persuaded
his friends, as a slight and not unpleasant change of scene, to pay
him a visit at Marringhurst. Since the chamber scene, indeed, Lady
Annabel's tie to Cherbury was much weakened. There were certain
feelings of pain, and fear, and mortification, now associated with
that place which she could not bear to dwell upon, and which greatly
balanced those sentiments of refuge and repose, of peace and love,
with which the old hall, in her mind, was heretofore connected.
Venetia ever adopted the slightest intimations of a wish on the part
of her mother, and so she readily agreed to fall into the arrangement.

It was rather a long and rough journey to Marringhurst, for they were
obliged to use the old chariot; but Venetia forgot her fatigues in
the cordial welcome of their host, whose sparkling countenance well
expressed the extreme gratification their arrival occasioned him.
All that the tenderest solicitude could devise for the agreeable
accommodation of the invalid had been zealously concerted; and the
constant influence of Dr. Masham's cheerful mind was as beneficial to
Lady Annabel as to her daughter. The season was gay, the place was
pleasant; and although they were only a few miles from home, in a
house with which they were familiar, and their companion one whom they
had known intimately all their lives, and of late almost daily seen;
yet such is the magic of a change in our habits, however slight, and
of the usual theatre of their custom, that this visit to Marringhurst
assumed quite the air of an adventure, and seemed at first almost
invested with the charm and novelty of travel.

The surrounding country, which, though verdant, was flat, was well
adapted to the limited exertions and still feeble footsteps of an
invalid, and Venetia began to study botany with the Doctor, who indeed
was not very profound in his attainments in this respect, but knew
quite enough to amuse his scholar. By degrees also, as her strength
daily increased, they extended their walks; and at length she even
mounted her pony, and was fast recovering her elasticity both of body
and mind. There were also many pleasant books with which she was
unacquainted; a cabinet of classic coins, prints, and pictures. She
became, too, interested in the Doctor's rural pursuits; would watch
him with his angle, and already meditated a revolution in his garden.
So time, on the whole, flew cheerfully on, certainly without
any weariness; and the day seldom passed that they did not all
congratulate themselves on the pleasant and profitable change.

In the meantime Venetia, when alone, still recurred to that idea that
was now so firmly rooted in her mind, that it was quite out of the
power of any social discipline to divert her attention from it. She
was often the sole companion of the Doctor, and she had long resolved
to seize a favourable opportunity to appeal to him on the subject of
her father. It so happened that she was walking alone with him one
morning in the neighbourhood of Marringhurst, having gone to visit the
remains of a Roman encampment in the immediate vicinity. When they had
arrived at the spot, and the Doctor had delivered his usual lecture on
the locality, they sat down together on a mound, that Venetia might
rest herself.

'Were you ever in Italy, Doctor Masham?' said Venetia.

'I never was out of my native country,' said the Doctor. 'I once,
indeed, was about making the grand tour with a pupil of mine at
Oxford, but circumstances interfered which changed his plans, and so I
remain a regular John Bull.'

'Was my father at Oxford?' said Venetia, quietly.

'He was,' replied the Doctor, looking confused.

'I should like to see Oxford much,' said Venetia.

'It is a most interesting seat of learning,' said the Doctor, quite
delighted to change the subject. 'Whether we consider its antiquity,
its learning, the influence it has exercised upon the history of the
country, its magnificent endowments, its splendid buildings, its great
colleges, libraries, and museums, or that it is one of the principal
head-quarters of all the hope of England, our youth, it is not too
much to affirm that there is scarcely a spot on the face of the globe
of equal interest and importance.'

'It is not for its colleges, or libraries, or museums, or all its
splendid buildings,' observed Venetia, 'that I should wish to see it.
I wish to see it because my father was once there. I should like to
see a place where I was quite certain my father had been.'

'Still harping of her father,' thought the Doctor to himself, and
growing uneasy; yet, from his very anxiety to turn the subject, quite
incapable of saying an appropriate word.

'Do you remember my father at Oxford, Doctor Masham?' said Venetia.

'Yes! no, yes!' said the Doctor, rather colouring; 'that he must have
been there in my time, I rather think.'

'But you do not recollect him?' said Venetia, pressing question.

'Why,' rejoined the Doctor, a little more collected, 'when you
remember that there are between two and three thousand young men at
the university, you must not consider it very surprising that I might
not recollect your father.'

'No,' said Venetia, 'perhaps not: and yet I cannot help thinking that
he must always have been a person who, if once seen, would not easily
have been forgotten.'

'Here is an Erica vagans,' said the Doctor, picking a flower; 'it
is rather uncommon about here;' and handing it at the same time to
Venetia.

'My father must have been very young when he died?' said Venetia,
scarcely looking at the flower.

'Yes, your father was very young,' he replied.

'Where did he die?'

'I cannot answer that question.'

'Where was he buried?'

'You know, my dear young lady, that the subject is too tender for any
one to converse with your poor mother upon it. It is not in my power
to give you the information you desire. Be satisfied, my dear Miss
Herbert, that a gracious Providence has spared to you one parent, and
one so inestimable.'

'I trust I know how to appreciate so great a blessing,' replied
Venetia; 'but I should be sorry if the natural interest which all
children must take in those who have given them birth, should be
looked upon as idle and unjustifiable curiosity.'

'My dear young lady, you misapprehend me.'

'No, Doctor Masham, indeed I do not,' replied Venetia, with firmness.
'I can easily conceive that the mention of my father may for various
reasons be insupportable to my mother; it is enough for me that I am
convinced such is the case: my lips are sealed to her for ever upon
the subject; but I cannot recognise the necessity of this constraint
to others. For a long time I was kept in ignorance whether I had
a father or not. I have discovered, no matter how, who he was. I
believe, pardon me, my dearest friend, I cannot help believing, that
you were acquainted, or, at least, that you know something of him; and
I entreat you! yes,' repeated Venetia with great emphasis, laying
her hand upon his arm, and looking with earnestness in his face, 'I
entreat you, by all your kind feelings to my mother and myself, by all
that friendship we so prize, by the urgent solicitation of a daughter
who is influenced in her curiosity by no light or unworthy feeling;
yes! by all the claims of a child to information which ought not to be
withheld from her, tell me, tell me all, tell me something! Speak, Dr.
Masham, do speak!'

'My dear young lady,' said the Doctor, with a glistening eye, 'it is
better that we should both be silent.'

'No, indeed,' replied Venetia, 'it is not better; it is not well that
we should be silent. Candour is a great virtue. There is a charm, a
healthy charm, in frankness. Why this mystery? Why these secrets? Have
they worked good? Have they benefited us? O! my friend, I would not
say so to my mother, I would not be tempted by any sufferings to pain
for an instant her pure and affectionate heart; but indeed, Doctor
Masham, indeed, indeed, what I tell you is true, all my late illness,
my present state, all, all are attributable but to one cause, this
mystery about my father!'

'What can I tell you?' said the unhappy Masham.

'Tell me only one fact. I ask no more. Yes! I promise you, solemnly I
promise you, I will ask no more. Tell me, does he live?'

'He does!' said the Doctor. Venetia sank upon his shoulder.

'My dear young lady, my darling young lady!' said the Doctor; 'she has
fainted. What can I do?' The unfortunate Doctor placed Venetia in a
reclining posture, and hurried to a brook that was nigh, and brought
water in his hand to sprinkle on her. She revived; she made a struggle
to restore herself.

'It is nothing,' she said, 'I am resolved to be well. I am well. I am
myself again. He lives; my father lives! I was confident of it! I will
ask no more. I am true to my word. O! Doctor Masham, you have always
been my kind friend, but you have never yet conferred on me a favour
like the one you have just bestowed.'

'But it is well,' said the Doctor, 'as you know so much, that you
should know more.'

'Yes! yes!'

'As we walk along,' he continued, 'we will converse, or at another
time; there is no lack of opportunity.'

'No, now, now!' eagerly exclaimed Venetia, 'I am quite well. It was
not pain or illness that overcame me. Now let us walk, now let us talk
of these things. He lives?'

'I have little to add,' said Dr. Masham, after a moment's thought;
'but this, however painful, it is necessary for you to know, that your
father is unworthy of your mother, utterly; they are separated; they
never can be reunited.'

'Never?' said Venetia.

'Never,' replied Dr. Masham; 'and I now warn you; if, indeed, as I
cannot doubt, you love your mother; if her peace of mind and happiness
are, as I hesitate not to believe, the principal objects of your life,
upon this subject with her be for ever silent. Seek to penetrate no
mysteries, spare all allusions, banish, if possible, the idea of your
father from your memory. Enough, you know he lives. We know no more.
Your mother labours to forget him; her only consolation for sorrows
such as few women ever experienced, is her child, yourself, your love.
Now be no niggard with it. Cling to this unrivalled parent, who has
dedicated her life to you. Soothe her sufferings, endeavour to make
her share your happiness; but, of this be certain, that if you
raise up the name and memory of your father between your mother and
yourself, her life will be the forfeit!'

'His name shall never pass my lips,' said Venetia; 'solemnly I vow it.
That his image shall be banished from my heart is too much to ask, and
more than it is in my power to grant. But I am my mother's child. I
will exist only for her; and if my love can console her, she shall
never be without solace. I thank you, Doctor, for all your kindness.
We will never talk again upon the subject; yet, believe me, you have
acted wisely, you have done good.'



CHAPTER XI.


Venetia observed her promise to Doctor Masham with strictness. She
never alluded to her father, and his name never escaped her mother's
lips. Whether Doctor Masham apprised Lady Annabel of the conversation
that had taken place between himself and her daughter, it is not in
our power to mention. The visit to Marringhurst was not a short one.
It was a relief both to Lady Annabel and Venetia, after all that had
occurred, to enjoy the constant society of their friend; and this
change of life, though apparently so slight, proved highly beneficial
to Venetia. She daily recovered her health, and a degree of mental
composure which she had not for some time enjoyed. On the whole she
was greatly satisfied with the discoveries which she had made. She had
ascertained the name and the existence of her father: his very form
and appearance were now no longer matter for conjecture; and in a
degree she had even communicated with him. Time, she still believed,
would develope even further wonders. She clung to an irresistible
conviction that she should yet see him; that he might even again
be united to her mother. She indulged in dreams as to his present
pursuits and position; she repeated to herself his verses, and
remembered his genius with pride and consolation.

They returned to Cherbury, they resumed the accustomed tenour of their
lives, as if nothing had occurred to disturb it. The fondness between
the mother and her daughter was unbroken and undiminished. They shared
again the same studies and the same amusements. Lady Annabel perhaps
indulged the conviction that Venetia had imbibed the belief that her
father was no more, and yet in truth that father was the sole idea on
which her child ever brooded. Venetia had her secret now; and often
as she looked up at the windows of the uninhabited portion of the
building, she remembered with concealed, but not less keen exultation,
that she had penetrated their mystery. She could muse for hours over
all that chamber had revealed to her, and indulge in a thousand
visions, of which her father was the centre. She was his 'own
Venetia.' Thus he had hailed her at her birth, and thus he might yet
again acknowledge her. If she could only ascertain where he existed!
What if she could, and she were to communicate with him? He must love
her. Her heart assured her he must love her. She could not believe,
if they were to meet, that his breast could resist the silent appeal
which the sight merely of his only child would suffice to make. Oh!
why had her parents parted? What could have been his fault? He was so
young! But a few, few years older than herself, when her mother must
have seen him for the last time. Yes! for the last time beheld that
beautiful form, and that countenance that seemed breathing only with
genius and love. He might have been imprudent, rash, violent; but
she would not credit for an instant that a stain could attach to the
honour or the spirit of Marmion Herbert.

The summer wore away. One morning, as Lady Annabel and Venetia were
sitting together, Mistress Pauncefort bustled into the room with
a countenance radiant with smiles and wonderment. Her ostensible
business was to place upon the table a vase of flowers, but it was
evident that her presence was occasioned by affairs of far greater
urgency. The vase was safely deposited; Mistress Pauncefort gave the
last touch to the arrangement of the flowers; she lingered about Lady
Annabel. At length she said, 'I suppose you have heard the news, my
lady?'

'Indeed, Pauncefort, I have not,' replied Lady Annabel. 'What news?'

'My lord is coming to the abbey.'

'Indeed!'

'Oh! yes, my lady,' said Mistress Pauncefort; 'I am not at all
surprised your ladyship should be so astonished. Never to write, too!
Well, I must say he might have given us a line. But he is coming, I am
certain sure of that, my lady. My lord's gentleman has been down these
two days; and all his dogs and guns too, my lady. And the keeper is
ordered to be quite ready, my lady, for the first. I wonder if there
is going to be a party. I should not be at all surprised.'

'Plantagenet returned!' said Lady Annabel. 'Well, I shall be very glad
to see him again.'

'So shall I, my lady,' said Mistress Pauncefort; 'but I dare say we
shall hardly know him again, he must be so grown. Trimmer has been
over to the abbey, my lady, and saw my lord's valet. Quite the fine
gentleman, Trimmer says. I was thinking of walking over myself this
afternoon, to see poor Mrs. Quin, my lady; I dare say we might be
of use, and neighbours should be handy, as they say. She is a very
respectable woman, poor Mrs. Quin, and I am sure for my part, if your
ladyship has no objection, I should be very glad to be of service to
her.'

'I have of course no objection, Pauncefort, to your being of service
to the housekeeper, but has she required your assistance?'

'Why no, my lady, but poor Mrs. Quin would hardly like to ask for
anything, my lady; but I am sure we might be of very great use, for
my lord's gentleman seems very dissatisfied at his reception, Trimmer
says. He has his hot breakfast every morning, my lady, and poor Mrs.
Quin says--'

'Well, Pauncefort, that will do,' said Lady Annabel, and the
functionary disappeared.

'We have almost forgotten Plantagenet, Venetia,' added Lady Annabel,
addressing herself to her daughter.

'He has forgotten us, I think, mamma,' said Venetia.

END OF BOOK II



BOOK III.



CHAPTER I.


Five years had elapsed since Lord Cadurcis had quitted the seat of his
fathers, nor did the fair inhabitants of Cherbury hear of his return
without emotion. Although the intercourse between them during this
interval had from the first been too slightly maintained, and of late
years had entirely died off, his return was, nevertheless, an event
which recalled old times and revived old associations. His visit to
the hall was looked forward to with interest. He did not long keep his
former friends in suspense; for although he was not uninfluenced by
some degree of embarrassment from the consciousness of neglect on his
side, rendered more keen now that he again found himself in the scene
endeared by the remembrance of their kindness, he was, nevertheless,
both too well bred and too warm-hearted to procrastinate the
performance of a duty which the regulations of society and natural
impulse alike assured him was indispensable. On the very morning,
therefore, after his arrival, having sauntered awhile over the old
abbey and strolled over the park, mused over his mother's tomb with
emotion, not the less deep because there was no outward and visible
sign of its influence, he ordered his horses, and directed his way
through the accustomed woods to Cherbury.

Five years had not passed away without their effects at least upon the
exterior being of Cadurcis. Although still a youth, his appearance
was manly. A thoughtful air had become habitual to a countenance
melancholy even in his childhood. Nor was its early promise of beauty
unfulfilled; although its expression was peculiar, and less pleasing
than impressive. His long dark locks shaded a pale and lofty brow that
well became a cast of features delicately moulded, yet reserved and
haughty, and perhaps even somewhat scornful. His figure had set into a
form of remarkable slightness and elegance, and distinguished for
its symmetry. Altogether his general mien was calculated to attract
attention and to excite interest.

His vacations while at Eton had been spent by Lord Cadurcis in the
family of his noble guardian, one of the king's ministers. Here he had
been gradually initiated in the habits and manners of luxurious and
refined society. Since he had quitted Eton he had passed a season,
previous to his impending residence at Cambridge, in the same sphere.
The opportunities thus offered had not been lost upon a disposition
which, with all its native reserve, was singularly susceptible.
Cadurcis had quickly imbibed the tone and adopted the usages of
the circle in which he moved. Naturally impatient of control, he
endeavoured by his precocious manhood to secure the respect and
independence which would scarcely have been paid or permitted to his
years. From an early period he never permitted himself to be treated
as a boy; and his guardian, a man whose whole soul was concentred in
the world, humoured a bent which he approved and from which he augured
the most complete success. Attracted by the promising talents and the
premature character of his ward, he had spared more time to assist the
development of his mind and the formation of his manners than might
have been expected from a minister of state. His hopes, indeed, rested
with confidence on his youthful relative, and he looked forward with
no common emotion to the moment when he should have the honour of
introducing to public life one calculated to confer so much credit
on his tutor, and shed so much lustre on his party. The reader will,
therefore, not be surprised if at this then unrivalled period of
political excitement, when the existence of our colonial empire was
at stake, Cadurcis, with his impetuous feelings, had imbibed to
their fullest extent all the plans, prejudices, and passions of his
political connections. He was, indeed, what the circumstances of the
times and his extreme youth might well excuse, if not justify, a most
violent partisan. Bold, sanguine, resolute, and intolerant, it was
difficult to persuade him that any opinions could be just which were
opposed to those of the circle in which he lived; and out of that
pale, it must be owned, he was as little inclined to recognise the
existence of ability as of truth.

As Lord Cadurcis slowly directed his way through the woods and park of
Cherbury, past years recurred to him like a faint yet pleasing dream.
Among these meads and bowers had glided away the only happy years of
his boyhood, the only period of his early life to which he could look
back without disgust. He recalled the secret exultation with which, in
company with his poor mother, he had first repaired to Cadurcis, about
to take possession of what, to his inexperienced imagination, then
appeared a vast and noble inheritance, and for the first time in his
life to occupy a position not unworthy of his rank. For how many
domestic mortifications did the first sight of that old abbey
compensate! How often, in pacing its venerable galleries and solemn
cloisters, and musing over the memory of an ancient and illustrious
ancestry, had he forgotten those bitter passages of daily existence,
so humbling to his vanity and so harassing to his heart! Ho had beheld
that morn, after an integral of many years, the tomb of his mother.
That simple and solitary monument had revived and impressed upon him a
conviction that too easily escaped in the various life and busy scenes
in which he had since moved, the conviction of his worldly desolation
and utter loneliness. He had no parents, no relations; now that he was
for a moment free from the artificial life in which he had of late
mingled, he felt that he had no friends. The image of his mother came
back to him, softened by the magical tint of years; after all she was
his mother, and a deep sharer in all his joys and woes. Transported to
the old haunts of his innocent and warm-hearted childhood. He sighed
for a finer and a sweeter sympathy than was ever yielded by the roof
which he had lately quitted; a habitation, but not a home. He conjured
up the picture of his guardian, existing in a whirl of official bustle
and social excitement. A dreamy reminiscence of finer impulses stole
over the heart of Cadurcis. The dazzling pageant of metropolitan
splendour faded away before the bright scene of nature that surrounded
him. He felt the freshness of the fragrant breeze; he gazed with
admiration on the still and ancient woods, and his pure and lively
blood bubbled beneath the influence of the golden sunbeams. Before him
rose the halls of Cherbury, that roof where he had been so happy, that
roof to which he had appeared so ungrateful. The memory of a thousand
acts of kindness, of a thousand soft and soothing traits of affection,
recurred to him with a freshness which startled as much as it pleased
him. Not to him only, but to his mother, that mother whose loss he had
lived to deplore, had the inmates of Cherbury been ministering angels
of peace and joy. Oh! that indeed had been a home; there indeed had
been days of happiness; there indeed he had found sympathy, and
solace, and succour! And now he was returning to them a stranger, to
fulfil one of the formal duties of society in paying them his cold
respects; an attention which he could scarcely have avoided offering
had he been to them the merest acquaintance, instead of having found
within those walls a home not merely in words, but friendship the most
delicate and love the most pure, a second parent, and the only being
whom he had ever styled sister!

The sight of Cadurcis became dim with emotion as the associations of
old scenes and his impending interview with Venetia brought back
the past with a power which he had rarely experienced in the
playing-fields of Eton, or the saloons of London. Five years! It was
an awful chasm in their acquaintance.

He despaired of reviving the kindness which had been broken by such a
dreary interval, and broken on his side so wilfully; and yet he
began to feel that unless met with that kindness he should be very
miserable. Sooth to say, he was not a little embarrassed, and scarcely
knew which contingency he most desired, to meet, or to escape from
her. He almost repented his return to Cadurcis, and yet to see Venetia
again he felt must be exquisite pleasure. Influenced by these feelings
he arrived at the hall steps, and so, dismounting and giving his horse
to his groom, Cadurcis, with a palpitating heart and faltering hand,
formally rang the bell of that hall which in old days he entered at
all seasons without ceremony.

Never perhaps did a man feel more nervous; he grew pale, paler even
than usual, and his whole frame trembled as the approaching footstep
of the servant assured him the door was about to open. He longed now
that the family might not be at home, that he might at least gain
four-and-twenty hours to prepare himself. But the family were at home
and he was obliged to enter. He stopped for a moment in the hall under
the pretence of examining the old familiar scene, but it was merely to
collect himself, for his sight was clouded; spoke to the old servant,
to reassure himself by the sound of his own voice, but the husky words
seemed to stick in his throat; ascended the staircase with tottering
steps, and leant against the banister as he heard his name announced.
The effort, however, must be made; it was too late to recede; and Lord
Cadurcis, entering the terrace-room, extended his hand to Lady Annabel
Herbert. She was not in the least changed, but looked as beautiful and
serene as usual. Her salutation, though far from deficient in warmth,
was a little more dignified than that which Plantagenet remembered;
but still her presence reassured him, and while he pressed her hand
with earnestness he contrived to murmur forth with pleasing emotion,
his delight at again meeting her. Strange to say, in the absorbing
agitation of the moment, all thought of Venetia had vanished; and
it was when he had turned and beheld a maiden of the most exquisite
beauty that his vision had ever lighted on, who had just risen from
her seat and was at the moment saluting him, that he entirely lost his
presence of mind; he turned scarlet, was quite silent, made an awkward
bow, and then stood perfectly fixed.

'My daughter,' said Lady Annabel, slightly pointing to Venetia; 'will
not you be seated?'

Cadurcis fell into a chair in absolute confusion. The rare and
surpassing beauty of Venetia, his own stupidity, his admiration of
her, his contempt for himself, the sight of the old chamber, the
recollection of the past, the minutest incidents of which seemed all
suddenly to crowd upon his memory, the painful consciousness of the
revolution which had occurred in his position in the family, proved by
his first being obliged to be introduced to Venetia, and then
being addressed so formally by his title by her mother; all these
impressions united overcame him; he could not speak, he sat silent and
confounded; and had it not been for the imperturbable self-composure
and delicate and amiable consideration of Lady Annabel, it would
have been impossible for him to have remained in a room where he
experienced agonising embarrassment.

Under cover, however, of a discharge of discreet inquiries as to when
he arrived, how long he meant to stay, whether he found Cadurcis
altered, and similar interrogations which required no extraordinary
exertion of his lordship's intellect to answer, but to which he
nevertheless contrived to give inconsistent and contradictory
responses, Cadurcis in time recovered himself sufficiently to maintain
a fair though not very brilliant conversation, and even ventured
occasionally to address an observation to Venetia, who was seated at
her work perfectly composed, but who replied to all his remarks with
the same sweet voice and artless simplicity which had characterised
her childhood, though time and thought had, by their blended
influence, perhaps somewhat deprived her of that wild grace and
sparkling gaiety for which she was once so eminent.

These great disenchanters of humanity, if indeed they had stolen away
some of the fascinating qualities of infancy, had amply recompensed
Venetia Herbert for the loss by the additional and commanding charms
which they had conferred on her. From a beautiful child she had
expanded into a most beautiful woman. She had now entirely recovered
from her illness, of which the only visible effect was the addition
that it had made to her stature, already slightly above the middle
height, but of exquisite symmetry. Like her mother, she did not wear
powder, then usual in society; but her auburn hair, of the finest
texture, descended in long and luxuriant tresses far over her
shoulders, braided with ribands, perfectly exposing her pellucid brow,
here and there tinted with an undulating vein, for she had retained,
if possible with increased lustre, the dazzling complexion of her
infancy. If the rose upon the cheek were less vivid than of yore, the
dimples were certainly more developed; the clear grey eye was shadowed
by long dark lashes, and every smile and movement of those ruby lips
revealed teeth exquisitely small and regular, and fresh and brilliant
as pearls just plucked by a diver.

Conversation proceeded and improved. Cadurcis became more easy and
more fluent. His memory, which seemed suddenly to have returned to him
with unusual vigour, wonderfully served him. There was scarcely an
individual of whom he did not contrive to inquire, from Dr. Masham to
Mistress Pauncefort; he was resolved to show that if he had neglected,
he had at least not forgotten them. Nor did he exhibit the slightest
indication of terminating his visit; so that Lady Annabel, aware that
he was alone at the abbey and that he could have no engagement in the
neighbourhood, could not refrain from inviting him to remain and dine
with them. The invitation was accepted without hesitation. In due
course of time Cadurcis attended the ladies in their walk; it was a
delightful stroll in the park, though he felt some slight emotion when
he found himself addressing Venetia by the title of 'Miss Herbert.'
When he had exhausted all the topics of local interest, he had a great
deal to say about himself in answer to the inquiries of Lady Annabel.
He spoke with so much feeling and simplicity of his first days at
Eton, and the misery he experienced on first quitting Cherbury, that
his details could not fail of being agreeable to those whose natural
self-esteem they so agreeably mattered. Then he dwelt upon his casual
acquaintance with London society, and Lady Annabel was gratified to
observe, from many incidental observations, that his principles were
in every respect of the right tone; and that he had zealously enlisted
himself in the ranks of that national party who opposed themselves
to the disorganising opinions then afloat. He spoke of his impending
residence at the university with the affectionate anticipations which
might have been expected from a devoted child of the ancient and
orthodox institutions of his country, and seemed perfectly impressed
with the responsible duties for which he was destined, as an
hereditary legislator of England. On the whole, his carriage and
conversation afforded a delightful evidence of a pure, and earnest,
and frank, and gifted mind, that had acquired at an early age much of
the mature and fixed character of manhood, without losing anything
of that boyish sincerity and simplicity too often the penalty of
experience.

The dinner passed in pleasant conversation, and if they were no longer
familiar, they were at least cordial. Cadurcis spoke of Dr. Masham
with affectionate respect, and mentioned his intention of visiting
Marringhurst on the following day. He ventured to hope that Lady
Annabel and Miss Herbert might accompany him, and it was arranged that
his wish should be gratified. The evening drew on apace, and Lady
Annabel was greatly pleased when Lord Cadurcis expressed his wish to
remain for their evening prayers. He was indeed sincerely religious;
and as he knelt in the old chapel that had been the hallowed scene
of his boyish devotions, he offered his ardent thanksgivings to his
Creator who had mercifully kept his soul pure and true, and allowed
him, after so long an estrangement from the sweet spot of his
childhood, once more to mingle his supplications with his kind and
virtuous friends.

Influenced by the solemn sounds still lingering in his ear, Cadurcis
bade them farewell for the night, with an earnestness of manner and
depth of feeling which he would scarcely have ventured to exhibit at
their first meeting. 'Good night, dear Lady Annabel,' he said, as he
pressed her hand; 'you know not how happy, how grateful I feel, to be
once more at Cherbury. Good night, Venetia!'

That last word lingered on his lips; it was uttered in a tone at once
mournful and sweet, and her hand was unconsciously retained for a
moment in his; but for a moment; and yet in that brief instant a
thousand thoughts seemed to course through his brain.

Before Venetia retired to rest she remained for a few minutes in her
mother's room. 'What do you think of him, mamma?' she said; 'is he not
very changed?'

'He is, my love,' replied Lady Annabel; 'what I sometimes thought he
might, what I always hoped he would, be.'

'He really seemed happy to meet us again, and yet how strange that for
years he should never have communicated with us.'

'Not so very strange, my love! He was but a child when we parted, and
he has felt embarrassment in resuming connections which for a long
interval had been inevitably severed. Remember what a change his life
had to endure; few, after such an interval, would have returned with
feelings so kind and so pure!'

'He was always a favourite of yours, mamma!'

'I always fancied that I observed in him the seeds of great virtues
and great talents; but I was not so sanguine that they would have
flourished as they appear to have done.'

In the meantime the subject of their observations strolled home
on foot, for he had dismissed his horses, to the abbey. It was a
brilliant night, and the white beams of the moon fell full upon the
old monastic pile, of which massy portions were in dark shade while
the light gracefully rested on the projecting ornaments of the
building, and played, as it were, with the fretted and fantastic
pinnacles. Behind were the savage hills, softened by the hour; and on
the right extended the still and luminous lake. Cadurcis rested for
a moment and gazed upon the fair, yet solemn scene. The dreams of
ambition that occasionally distracted him were dead. The surrounding
scene harmonised with the thoughts of purity, repose, and beauty that
filled his soul. Why should he ever leave this spot, sacred to him by
the finest emotions of his nature? Why should he not at once quit
that world which he had just entered, while he could quit it without
remorse? If ever there existed a being who was his own master, who
might mould his destiny at his will, it seemed to be Cadurcis. His
lone yet independent situation, his impetuous yet firm volition, alike
qualified him to achieve the career most grateful to his disposition.
Let him, then, achieve it here; here let him find that solitude he had
ever loved, softened by that affection for which he had ever sighed,
and which here only he had ever found. It seemed to him that there
was only one being in the world whom he had ever loved, and that was
Venetia Herbert: it seemed to him that there was only one thing in
this world worth living for, and that was the enjoyment of her sweet
heart. The pure-minded, the rare, the gracious creature! Why should
she ever quit these immaculate bowers wherein she had been so
mystically and delicately bred? Why should she ever quit the fond
roof of Cherbury, but to shed grace and love amid the cloisters of
Cadurcis? Her life hitherto had been an enchanted tale; why should
the spell ever break? Why should she enter that world where care,
disappointment, mortification, misery, must await her? He for a season
had left the magic circle of her life, and perhaps it was well. He was
a man, and so he should know all. But he had returned, thank Heaven!
he had returned, and never again would he quit her. Fool that he had
been ever to have neglected her! And for a reason that ought to have
made him doubly her friend, her solace, her protector. Oh! to think of
the sneers or the taunts of the world calling for a moment the colour
from that bright cheek, or dusking for an instant the radiance of that
brilliant eye! His heart ached at the thought of her unhappiness, and
he longed to press her to it, and cherish her like some innocent dove
that had flown from the terrors of a pursuing hawk.



CHAPTER II.


'Well, Pauncefort,' said Lord Cadurcis, smiling, as he renewed his
acquaintance with his old friend, 'I hope you have not forgotten my
last words, and have taken care of your young lady.'

'Oh! dear, my lord,' said Mistress Pauncefort, blushing and simpering.
'Well to be sure, how your lordship has surprised us all! I thought we
were never going to see you again!'

'You know I told you I should return; and now I mean never to leave
you again.'

'Never is a long word, my lord,' said Mistress Pauncefort, looking
very archly.

'Ah! but I mean to settle, regularly to settle here,' said Lord
Cadurcis.

'Marry and settle, my lord,' said Mistress Pauncefort, still more
arch.

'And why not?' inquired Lord Cadurcis, laughing.

'That is just what I said last night,' exclaimed Mistress Pauncefort,
eagerly. 'And why not? for I said, says I, his lordship must marry
sooner or later, and the sooner the better, say I: and to be sure he
is very young, but what of that? for, says I, no one can say he does
not look quite a man. And really, my lord, saving your presence, you
are grown indeed.'

'Pish!' said Lord Cadurcis, turning away and laughing, 'I have left
off growing, Pauncefort, and all those sort of things.'

'You have not forgotten our last visit to Marringhurst?' said Lord
Cadurcis to Venetia, as the comfortable mansion of the worthy Doctor
appeared in sight.

'I have forgotten nothing,' replied Venetia with a faint smile; 'I do
not know what it is to forget. My life has been so uneventful that
every past incident, however slight, is as fresh in my memory as if it
occurred yesterday.'

'Then you remember the strawberries and cream?' said Lord Cadurcis.

'And other circumstances less agreeable,' he fancied Venetia observed,
but her voice was low.

'Do you know, Lady Annabel,' said Lord Cadurcis, 'that I was very
nearly riding my pony to-day? I wish to bring back old times with the
utmost possible completeness; I wish for a moment to believe that I
have never quitted Cherbury.'

'Let us think only of the present now,' said Lady Annabel in a
cheerful voice, 'for it is very agreeable. I see the good Doctor; he
has discovered us.'

'I wonder whom he fancies Lord Cadurcis to be?' said Venetia.

'Have you no occasional cavalier for whom at a distance I may be
mistaken?' inquired his lordship in a tone of affected carelessness,
though in truth it was an inquiry that he made not without anxiety.

'Everything remains here exactly as you left it,' replied Lady
Annabel, with some quickness, yet in a lively tone.

'Happy Cherbury!' exclaimed Lord Cadurcis. 'May it indeed never
change!'

They rode briskly on; the Doctor was standing at his gate. He saluted
Lady Annabel and Venetia with his accustomed cordiality, and then
stared at their companion as if waiting for an introduction.

'You forget an old friend, my dear Doctor,' said Cadurcis.

'Lord Cadurcis!' exclaimed Dr. Masham. His lordship had by this time
dismounted and eagerly extended his hand to his old tutor.

Having quitted their horses they all entered the house, nor was there
naturally any want of conversation. Cadurcis had much information to
give and many questions to answer. He was in the highest spirits
and the most amiable mood; gay, amusing, and overflowing with
kind-heartedness. The Doctor seldom required any inspiration, to be
joyous, and Lady Annabel was unusually animated. Venetia alone, though
cheerful, was calmer than pleased Cadurcis. Time, he sorrowfully
observed, had occasioned a greater change in her manner than he could
have expected. Youthful as she still was, indeed but on the threshold
of womanhood, and exempted, as it seemed she had been, from anything
to disturb the clearness of her mind, that enchanting play of fancy
which had once characterised her, and which he recalled with a sigh,
appeared in a great degree to have deserted her. He watched her
countenance with emotion, and, supremely beautiful as it undeniably
was, there was a cast of thoughtfulness or suffering impressed upon
the features which rendered him mournful he knew not why, and caused
him to feel as if a cloud had stolen unexpectedly over the sun and
made him shiver.

But there was no time or opportunity for sad reflections; he had to
renew his acquaintance with all the sights and curiosities of the
rectory, to sing to the canaries, and visit the gold fish, admire the
stuffed fox, and wonder that in the space of five years the voracious
otter had not yet contrived to devour its prey. Then they refreshed
themselves after their ride with a stroll in the Doctor's garden;
Cadurcis persisted in attaching himself to Venetia, as in old days,
and nothing would prevent him from leading her to the grotto. Lady
Annabel walked behind, leaning on the Doctor's arm, narrating, with no
fear of being heard, all the history of their friend's return.

'I never was so surprised in my life,' said the Doctor; 'he is vastly
improved; he is quite a man; his carriage is very finished.'

'And his principles,' said Lady Annabel. 'You have no idea, my dear
Doctor, how right his opinions seem to be on every subject. He has
been brought up in a good school; he does his guardian great credit.
He is quite loyal and orthodox in all his opinions; ready to risk his
life for our blessed constitution in Church and State. He requested,
as a favour, that he might remain at our prayers last night. It is
delightful for me to see him turn out so well!'

In the meantime Cadurcis and Venetia entered the grotto.

'The dear Doctor!' said Cadurcis: 'five years have brought no visible
change even to him; perhaps he may be a degree less agile, but I will
not believe it. And Lady Annabel; it seems to me your mother is more
youthful and beautiful than ever. There is a spell in our air,'
continued his lordship, with a laughing eye; 'for if we have changed,
Venetia, ours is, at least, an alteration that bears no sign of decay.
We are advancing, but they have not declined; we are all enchanted.'

'I feel changed,' said Venetia gravely.

'I left you a child and I find you a woman,' said Lord Cadurcis, 'a
change which who can regret?'

'I would I were a child again,' said Venetia.

'We were happy,' said Lord Cadurcis, in a thoughtful tone; and then in
an inquiring voice he added, 'and so we are now?'

Venetia shook her head.

'Can you be unhappy?'

'To be unhappy would be wicked,' said Venetia; 'but my mind has lost
its spring.'

'Ah! say not so, Venetia, or you will make even me gloomy. I am happy,
positively happy. There must not be a cloud upon your brow.'

'You are joyous,' said Venetia, 'because you are excited. It is the
novelty of return that animates you. It will wear off; you will grow
weary, and when you go to the university you will think yourself happy
again.'

'I do not intend to go to the university,' said Cadurcis.

'I understood from you that you were going there immediately.'

'My plans are changed,' said Cadurcis; 'I do not intend ever to leave
home again.'

'When you go to Cambridge,' said Dr. Masham, who just then reached
them, 'I shall trouble you with a letter to an old friend of mine
whose acquaintance you may find valuable.'

Venetia smiled; Cadurcis bowed, expressed his thanks, and muttered
something about talking over the subject with the Doctor.

After this the conversation became general, and at length they all
returned to the house to partake of the Doctor's hospitality, who
promised to dine at the hall on the morrow. The ride home was
agreeable and animated, but the conversation on the part of the ladies
was principally maintained by Lady Annabel, who seemed every moment
more delighted with the society of Lord Cadurcis, and to sympathise
every instant more completely with his frank exposition of his
opinions on all subjects. When they returned to Cherbury, Cadurcis
remained with them as a matter of course. An invitation was neither
expected nor given. Not an allusion was made to the sports of the
field, to enjoy which was the original purpose of his visit to the
abbey; and he spoke of to-morrow as of a period which, as usual, was
to be spent entirely in their society. He remained with them, as on
the previous night, to the latest possible moment. Although reserved
in society, no one could be more fluent with those with whom he was
perfectly unembarrassed. He was indeed exceedingly entertaining, and
Lady Annabel relaxed into conversation beyond her custom. As for
Venetia, she did not speak often, but she listened with interest, and
was evidently amused. When Cadurcis bade them good-night Lady Annabel
begged him to breakfast with them; while Venetia, serene, though kind,
neither seconded the invitation, nor seemed interested one way or the
other in its result.



CHAPTER III.


Except returning to sleep at the abbey, Lord Cadurcis was now as much
an habitual inmate of Cherbury Hall as in the days of his childhood.
He was there almost with the lark, and never quitted its roof until
its inmates were about to retire for the night. His guns and dogs,
which had been sent down from London with so much pomp of preparation,
were unused and unnoticed; and he passed his days in reading
Richardson's novels, which he had brought with him from town, to the
ladies, and then in riding with them about the country, for he loved
to visit all his old haunts, and trace even the very green sward
where he first met the gipsies, and fancied that he had achieved his
emancipation from all the coming cares and annoyances of the world.
In this pleasant life several weeks had glided away: Cadurcis had
entirely resumed his old footing in the family, nor did he attempt to
conceal the homage he was paying to the charms of Venetia. She indeed
seemed utterly unconscious that such projects had entered, or indeed
could enter, the brain of her old playfellow, with whom, now that
she was habituated to his presence, and revived by his inspiriting
society, she had resumed all her old familiar intimacy, addressing him
by his Christian name, as if he had never ceased to be her brother.
But Lady Annabel was not so blind as her daughter, and had indeed her
vision been as clouded, her faithful minister, Mistress Pauncefort,
would have taken care quickly to couch it; for a very short time had
elapsed before that vigilant gentlewoman, resolved to convince her
mistress that nothing could escape her sleepless scrutiny, and that it
was equally in vain for her mistress to hope to possess any secrets
without her participation, seized a convenient opportunity before she
bid her lady good night, just to inquire 'when it might be expected to
take place?' and in reply to the very evident astonishment which Lady
Annabel testified at this question, and the expression of her extreme
displeasure at any conversation on a circumstance for which there
was not the slightest foundation, Mistress Pauncefort, after duly
flouncing about with every possible symbol of pettish agitation and
mortified curiosity, her cheek pale with hesitating impertinence, and
her nose quivering with inquisitiveness, condescended to admit with a
sceptical sneer, that, of course, no doubt her ladyship knew more of
such a subject than she could; it was not her place to know anything
of such business; for her part she said nothing; it was not her
place, but if it were, she certainly must say that she could not help
believing that my lord was looking remarkably sweet on Miss Venetia,
and what was more, everybody in the house thought the same, though for
her part, whenever they mentioned the circumstance to her, she said
nothing, or bid them hold their tongues, for what was it to them; it
was not their business, and they could know nothing; and that nothing
would displease her ladyship more than chattering on such subjects,
and many's the match as good as finished, that's gone off by no worse
means than the chitter-chatter of those who should hold their tongues.
Therefore she should say no more; but if her ladyship wished her to
contradict it, why she could, and the sooner, perhaps, the better.

Lady Annabel observed to her that she wished no such thing, but
she desired that Pauncefort would make no more observations on the
subject, either to her or to any one else. And then Pauncefort bade
her ladyship good night in a huff, catching up her candle with a
rather impertinent jerk, and gently slamming the door, as if she had
meant to close it quietly, only it had escaped out of her fingers.

Whatever might be the tone, whether of surprise or displeasure, which
Lady Annabel thought fit to assume to her attendant on her noticing
Lord Cadurcis' attentions to her daughter, there is no doubt that
his conduct had early and long engaged her ladyship's remark, her
consideration, and her approval. Without meditating indeed an
immediate union between Cadurcis and Venetia, Lady Annabel pleased
herself with the prospect of her daughter's eventual marriage with one
whom she had known so early and so intimately; who was by nature of a
gentle, sincere, and affectionate disposition, and in whom education
had carefully instilled the most sound and laudable principles and
opinions; one apparently with simple tastes, moderate desires, fair
talents, a mind intelligent, if not brilliant, and passions which at
the worst had been rather ill-regulated than violent; attached also
to Venetia from her childhood, and always visibly affected by her
influence. All these moral considerations seemed to offer a fair
security for happiness; and the material ones were neither less
promising, nor altogether disregarded by the mother. It was an union
which would join broad lands and fair estates; which would place on
the brow of her daughter one of the most ancient coronets in England;
and, which indeed was the chief of these considerations, would,
without exposing Venetia to that contaminating contact with the
world from which Lady Annabel recoiled, establish her, without this
initiatory and sorrowful experience, in a position superior to which
even the blood of the Herberts, though it might flow in so fair and
gifted a form as that of Venetia, need not aspire.

Lord Cadurcis had not returned to Cherbury a week before this scheme
entered into the head of Lady Annabel. She had always liked him; had
always given him credit for good qualities; had always believed that
his early defects were the consequence of his mother's injudicious
treatment; and that at heart he was an amiable, generous, and
trustworthy being, one who might be depended on, with a naturally good
judgment, and substantial and sufficient talents, which only required
cultivation. When she met him again after so long an interval, and
found her early prognostics so fairly, so completely fulfilled, and
watched his conduct and conversation, exhibiting alike a well-informed
mind, an obliging temper, and, what Lady Annabel valued even above all
gifts and blessings, a profound conviction of the truth of all her own
opinions, moral, political, and religious, she was quite charmed; she
was moved to unusual animation; she grew excited in his praise; his
presence delighted her; she entertained for him the warmest affection,
and reposed in him unbounded confidence. All her hopes became
concentred in the wish of seeing him her son-in-law; and she detected
with lively satisfaction the immediate impression which Venetia had
made upon his heart; for indeed it should not be forgotten, that
although Lady Annabel was still young, and although her frame and
temperament were alike promising of a long life, it was natural, when
she reflected upon the otherwise lone condition of her daughter, that
she should tremble at the thought of quitting this world without
leaving her child a protector. To Doctor Masham, from whom Lady
Annabel had no secrets, she confided in time these happy but covert
hopes, and he was not less anxious than herself for their fulfilment.
Since the return of Cadurcis the Doctor contrived to be a more
frequent visitor at the hall than usual, and he lost no opportunity of
silently advancing the object of his friend.

As for Cadurcis himself, it was impossible for him not quickly to
discover that no obstacle to his heart's dearest wish would arise on
the part of the parent. The demeanour of the daughter somewhat more
perplexed him. Venetia indeed had entirely fallen into her old habits
of intimacy and frankness with Plantagenet; she was as affectionate
and as unembarrassed as in former days, and almost as gay; for his
presence and companionship had in a great degree insensibly removed
that stillness and gravity which had gradually influenced her mind and
conduct. But in that conduct there was, and he observed it with some
degree of mortification, a total absence of the consciousness of being
the object of the passionate admiration of another. She treated Lord
Cadurcis as a brother she much loved, who had returned to his home
after a long absence. She liked to listen to his conversation, to hear
of his adventures, to consult over his plans. His arrival called
a smile to her face, and his departure for the night was always
alleviated by some allusion to their meeting on the morrow. But many
an ardent gaze on the part of Cadurcis, and many a phrase of emotion,
passed unnoticed and unappreciated. His gallantry was entirely
thrown away, or, if observed, only occasioned a pretty stare at the
unnecessary trouble he gave himself, or the strange ceremony which
she supposed an acquaintance with society had taught him. Cadurcis
attributed this reception of his veiled and delicate overtures to
her ignorance of the world; and though he sighed for as passionate
a return to his strong feelings as the sentiments which animated
himself, he was on the whole not displeased, but rather interested, by
these indications of a pure and unsophisticated spirit.



CHAPTER IV.


Cadurcis had proposed, and Lady Annabel had seconded the proposition
with eager satisfaction, that they should seek some day at the abbey
whatever hospitality it might offer; Dr. Masham was to be of the
party, which was, indeed, one of those fanciful expeditions where the
same companions, though they meet at all times without restraint
and with every convenience of life, seek increased amusement in the
novelty of a slight change of habits. With the aid of the neighbouring
town of Southport, Cadurcis had made preparations for his friends not
entirely unworthy of them, though he affected to the last all the
air of a conductor of a wild expedition of discovery, and laughingly
impressed upon them the necessity of steeling their minds and bodies
to the experience and endurance of the roughest treatment and the most
severe hardships.

The morning of this eventful day broke as beautifully as the preceding
ones. Autumn had seldom been more gorgeous than this year. Although he
was to play the host, Cadurcis would not deprive himself of his usual
visit to the hall; and he appeared there at an early hour to accompany
his guests, who were to ride over to the abbey, to husband all their
energies for their long rambles through the demesne.

Cadurcis was in high spirits, and Lady Annabel scarcely less
joyous. Venetia smiled with her usual sweetness and serenity. They
congratulated each other on the charming season; and Mistress
Pauncefort received a formal invitation to join the party and go
a-nutting with one of her fellow-servants and his lordship's valet.
The good Doctor was rather late, but he arrived at last on his stout
steed, in his accustomed cheerful mood. Here was a party of pleasure
which all agreed must be pleasant; no strangers to amuse, or to be
amusing, but formed merely of four human beings who spent every day of
their lives in each other's society, between whom there was the most
complete sympathy and the most cordial good-will.

By noon they were all mounted on their steeds, and though the air was
warmed by a meridian sun shining in a clear sky, there was a gentle
breeze abroad, sweet and grateful; and moreover they soon entered the
wood and enjoyed the shelter of its verdant shade. The abbey looked
most picturesque when they first burst upon it; the nearer and wooded
hills, which formed its immediate background, just tinted by the
golden pencil of autumn, while the meads of the valley were still
emerald green; and the stream, now lost, now winding, glittered
here and there in the sun, and gave a life and sprightliness to the
landscape which exceeded even the effect of the more distant and
expansive lake.

They were received at the abbey by Mistress Pauncefort, who had
preceded them, and who welcomed them with a complacent smile. Cadurcis
hastened to assist Lady Annabel to dismount, and was a little confused
but very pleased when she assured him she needed no assistance but
requested him to take care of Venetia. He was just in time to receive
her in his arms, where she found herself without the slightest
embarrassment. The coolness of the cloisters was grateful after their
ride, and they lingered and looked upon the old fountain, and felt the
freshness of its fall with satisfaction which all alike expressed.
Lady Annabel and Venetia then retired for a while to free themselves
from their riding habits, and Cadurcis affectionately taking the arm
of Dr. Masham led him a few paces, and then almost involuntarily
exclaimed, 'My dear Doctor, I think I am the happiest fellow that ever
lived!'

'That I trust you may always be, my dear boy,' said Dr. Masham; 'but
what has called forth this particular exclamation?'

'To feel that I am once more at Cadurcis; to feel that I am here once
more with you all; to feel that I never shall leave you again.'

'Not again?'

'Never!' said Cadurcis. 'The experience of these last few weeks, which
yet have seemed an age in my existence, has made me resolve never to
quit a society where I am persuaded I may obtain a degree of happiness
which what is called the world can never afford me.'

'What will your guardian say?'

'What care I?'

'A dutiful ward!'

'Poh! the relations between us were formed only to secure my welfare.
It is secured; it will be secured by my own resolution.'

'And what is that?' inquired Dr. Masham.

'To marry Venetia, if she will accept me.'

'And that you do not doubt.'

'We doubt everything when everything is at stake,' replied Lord
Cadurcis. 'I know that her consent would ensure my happiness; and when
I reflect, I cannot help being equally persuaded that it would secure
hers. Her mother, I think, would not be adverse to our union. And you,
my dear sir, what do you think?'

'I think,' said Dr. Masham, 'that whoever marries Venetia will marry
the most beautiful and the most gifted of God's creatures; I hope you
may marry her; I wish you to marry her; I believe you will marry her,
but not yet; you are too young, Lord Cadurcis.'

'Oh, no! my dear Doctor, not too young to marry Venetia. Remember I
have known her all my life, at least so long as I have been able to
form an opinion. How few are the men, my dear Doctor, who are so
fortunate as to unite themselves with women whom they have known, as I
have known Venetia, for more than seven long years!'

'During five of which you have never seen or heard of her.'

'Mine was the fault! And yet I cannot help thinking, as it may
probably turn out, as you yourself believe it will turn out, that
it is as well that we have been separated for this interval. It has
afforded me opportunities for observation which I should never have
enjoyed at Cadurcis; and although my lot either way could not have
altered the nature of things, I might have been discontented, I might
have sighed for a world which now I do not value. It is true I have
not seen Venetia for five years, but I find her the same, or changed
only by nature, and fulfilling all the rich promise which her
childhood intimated. No, my dear Doctor, I respect your opinion more
than that of any man living; but nobody, nothing, can persuade me that
I am not as intimately acquainted with Venetia's character, with all
her rare virtues, as if we had never separated.'

'I do not doubt it,' said the Doctor; 'high as you may pitch your
estimate you cannot overvalue her.'

'Then why should we not marry?'

'Because, my dear friend, although you may be perfectly acquainted
with Venetia, you cannot be perfectly acquainted with yourself.'

'How so?' exclaimed Lord Cadurcis in a tone of surprise, perhaps a
little indignant.

'Because it is impossible. No young man of eighteen ever possessed
such precious knowledge. I esteem and admire you; I give you every
credit for a good heart and a sound head; but it is impossible, at
your time of life, that your character can be formed; and, until it
be, you may marry Venetia and yet be a very miserable man.'

'It is formed,' said his lordship firmly; 'there is not a subject
important to a human being on which my opinions are not settled.'

'You may live to change them all,' said the Doctor, 'and that very
speedily.'

'Impossible!' said Lord Cadurcis. 'My dear Doctor, I cannot understand
you; you say that you hope, that you wish, even that you believe that
I shall marry Venetia; and yet you permit me to infer that our union
will only make us miserable. What do you wish me to do?'

'Go to college for a term or two.'

'Without Venetia! I should die.'

'Well, if you be in a dying state you can return.'

'You joke, my dear Doctor.'

'My dear boy, I am perfectly serious.'

'But she may marry somebody else?'

'I am your only rival,' said the Doctor, with a smile; 'and though
even friends can scarcely be trusted under such circumstances, I
promise you not to betray you.'

'Your advice is not very pleasant,' said his lordship.

'Good advice seldom is,' said the Doctor.

'My dear Doctor, I have made up my mind to marry her, and marry her at
once. I know her well, you admit that yourself. I do not believe that
there ever was a woman like her, that there ever will be a woman like
her. Nature has marked her out from other women, and her education
has not been less peculiar. Her mystic breeding pleases me. It
is something to marry a wife so fair, so pure, so refined, so
accomplished, who is, nevertheless, perfectly ignorant of the world.
I have dreamt of such things; I have paced these old cloisters when a
boy and when I was miserable at home, and I have had visions, and
this was one. I have sighed to live alone with a fair spirit for my
minister. Venetia has descended from heaven for me, and for me alone.
I am resolved I will pluck this flower with the dew upon its leaves.'

'I did not know I was reasoning with a poet,' said the Doctor, with a
smile. 'Had I been conscious of it, I would not have been so rash.'

'I have not a grain of poetry in my composition,' said his lordship;
'I never could write a verse; I was notorious at Eton for begging all
their old manuscripts from boys when they left school, to crib from;
but I have a heart, and I can feel. I love Venetia, I have always
loved her, and, if possible, I will marry her, and marry her at once.'



CHAPTER V.


The reappearance of the ladies at the end of the cloister terminated
this conversation, the result of which was rather to confirm Lord
Cadurcis in his resolution of instantly urging his suit, than the
reverse. He ran forward to greet his friends with a smile, and took
his place by the side of Venetia, whom, a little to her surprise, he
congratulated in glowing phrase on her charming costume. Indeed she
looked very captivating, with a pastoral hat, then much in fashion,
and a dress as simple and as sylvan, both showing to admirable
advantage her long descending hair, and her agile and springy figure.

Cadurcis proposed that they should ramble over the abbey, he talked of
projected alterations, as if he really had the power immediately to
effect them, and was desirous of obtaining their opinions before any
change was made. So they ascended the staircase which many years
before Venetia had mounted for the first time with her mother, and
entered that series of small and ill-furnished rooms in which Mrs.
Cadurcis had principally resided, and which had undergone no change.
The old pictures were examined; these, all agreed, never must move;
and the new furniture, it was settled, must be in character with the
building. Lady Annabel entered into all the details with an interest
and animation which rather amused Dr. Masham. Venetia listened and
suggested, and responded to the frequent appeals of Cadurcis to her
judgment with an unconscious equanimity not less diverting.

'Now here we really can do something,' said his lordship as they
entered the saloon, or rather refectory; 'here I think we may effect
wonders. The tapestry must always remain. Is it not magnificent,
Venetia? But what hangings shall we have? We must keep the old chairs,
I think. Do you approve of the old chairs, Venetia? And what shall we
cover them with? Shall it be damask? What do you think, Venetia? Do
you like damask? And what colour shall it be? Shall it be crimson?
Shall it be crimson damask, Lady Annabel? Do you think Venetia would
like crimson damask? Now, Venetia, do give us the benefit of your
opinion.'

Then they entered the old gallery; here was to be a great
transformation. Marvels were to be effected in the old gallery,
and many and multiplied were the appeals to the taste and fancy of
Venetia.

'I think,' said Lord Cadurcis, 'I shall leave the gallery to be
arranged when I am settled. The rooms and the saloon shall be done at
once, I shall give orders for them to begin instantly. Whom do you
recommend, Lady Annabel? Do you think there is any person at Southport
who could manage to do it, superintended by our taste? Venetia, what
do you think?'

Venetia was standing at the window, rather apart from her companions,
looking at the old garden. Lord Cadurcis joined her. 'Ah! it has been
sadly neglected since my poor mother's time. We could not do much in
those days, but still she loved this garden. I must depend upon you
entirely to arrange my garden, Venetia. This spot is sacred to you.
You have not forgotten our labours here, have you, Venetia? Ah! those
were happy days, and these shall be more happy still. This is your
garden; it shall always be called Venetia's garden.'

'I would have taken care of it when you were away, but--'

'But what?' inquired Lord Cadurcis anxiously.

'We hardly felt authorised,' replied Venetia calmly. 'We came at first
when you left Cadurcis, but at last it did not seem that our presence
was very acceptable.'

'The brutes!' exclaimed Lord Cadurcis.

'No, no; good simple people, they were unused to orders from strange
masters, and they were perplexed. Besides, we had no right to
interfere.'

'No right to interfere! Venetia, my little fellow-labourer, no
right to interfere! Why all is yours! Fancy your having no right to
interfere at Cadurcis!'

Then they proceeded to the park and wandered to the margin of the
lake. There was not a spot, not an object, which did not recall
some adventure or incident of childhood. Every moment Lord Cadurcis
exclaimed, 'Venetia! do you remember this?' 'Venetia! have you
forgotten that?' and every time Venetia smiled, and proved how
faithful was her memory by adding some little unmentioned trait to the
lively reminiscences of her companion.

'Well, after all,' said Lord Cadurcis with a sigh, 'my poor mother was
a strange woman, and, God bless her! used sometimes to worry me out
of my senses! but still she always loved you. No one can deny that.
Cherbury was a magic name with her. She loved Lady Annabel, and she
loved you, Venetia. It ran in the blood, you see. She would be happy,
quite happy, if she saw us all here together, and if she knew--'

'Plantagenet,' said Lady Annabel, 'you must build a lodge at this
end of the park. I cannot conceive anything more effective than an
entrance from the Southport road in this quarter.'

'Certainly, Lady Annabel, certainly we must build a lodge. Do not you
think so, Venetia?'

'Indeed I think it would be a great improvement,' replied Venetia;
'but you must take care to have a lodge in character with the abbey.'

'You shall make a drawing for it,' said Lord Cadurcis; 'it shall be
built directly, and it shall be called Venetia Lodge.'

The hours flew away, loitering in the park, roaming in the woods. They
met Mistress Pauncefort and her friends loaded with plunder, and they
offered to Venetia a trophy of their success; but when Venetia, merely
to please their kind hearts, accepted their tribute with cordiality,
and declared there was nothing she liked better, Lord Cadurcis would
not be satisfied unless he immediately commenced nutting, and each
moment he bore to Venetia the produce of his sport, till in time she
could scarcely sustain the rich and increasing burden. At length they
bent their steps towards home, sufficiently wearied to look forward
with welcome to rest and their repast, yet not fatigued, and
exhilarated by the atmosphere, for the sun was now in its decline,
though in this favoured season there were yet hours enough remaining
of enchanting light.

In the refectory they found, to the surprise of all but their host, a
banquet. It was just one of those occasions when nothing is
expected and everything is welcome and surprising; when, from the
unpremeditated air generally assumed, all preparation startles and
pleases; when even ladies are not ashamed to eat, and formality
appears quite banished. Game of all kinds, teal from the lake,
and piles of beautiful fruit, made the table alike tempting and
picturesque. Then there were stray bottles of rare wine disinterred
from venerable cellars; and, more inspiriting even than the choice
wine, a host under the influence of every emotion, and swayed by every
circumstance that can make a man happy and delightful. Oh! they were
very gay, and it seemed difficult to believe that care or sorrow,
or the dominion of dark or ungracious passions, could ever disturb
sympathies so complete and countenances so radiant.

At the urgent request of Cadurcis, Venetia sang to them; and while she
sang, the expression of her countenance and voice harmonising with the
arch hilarity of the subject, Plantagenet for a moment believed that
he beheld the little Venetia of his youth, that sunny child so full
of mirth and grace, the very recollection of whose lively and bright
existence might enliven the gloomiest hour and lighten the heaviest
heart.

Enchanted by all that surrounded him, full of hope, and joy, and
plans of future felicity, emboldened by the kindness of the daughter,
Cadurcis now ventured to urge a request to Lady Annabel, and the
request was granted, for all seemed to feel that it was a day on which
nothing was to be refused to their friend. Happy Cadurcis! The child
had a holiday, and it fancied itself a man enjoying a triumph. In
compliance, therefore, with his wish, it was settled that they should
all walk back to the hall; even Dr. Masham declared he was competent
to the exertion, but perhaps was half entrapped into the declaration
by the promise of a bed at Cherbury. This consent enchanted Cadurcis,
who looked forward with exquisite pleasure to the evening walk with
Venetia.



CHAPTER VI.


Although the sun had not set, it had sunk behind the hills leading
to Cherbury when our friends quitted the abbey. Cadurcis, without
hesitation, offered his arm to Venetia, and whether from a secret
sympathy with his wishes, or merely from some fortunate accident, Lady
Annabel and Dr. Masham strolled on before without busying themselves
too earnestly with their companions.

'And how do you think our expedition to Cadurcis has turned out?'
inquired the young lord, of Venetia, 'Has it been successful?'

'It has been one of the most agreeable days I ever passed,' was the
reply.

'Then it has been successful,' rejoined his lordship; 'for my only
wish was to amuse you.'

'I think we have all been equally amused,' said Venetia. 'I never knew
mamma in such good spirits. I think ever since you returned she has
been unusually light-hearted.'

'And you: has my return lightened only her heart, Venetia?'

'Indeed it has contributed to the happiness of every one.'

'And yet, when I first returned, I heard you utter a complaint; the
first that to my knowledge ever escaped your lips.'

'Ah! we cannot be always equally gay.'

'Once you were, dear Venetia.'

'I was a child then.'

'And I, I too was a child; yet I am happy, at least now that I am with
you.'

'Well, we are both happy now.'

'Oh! say that again, say that again, Venetia; for indeed you made me
miserable when you told me that you had changed. I cannot bear that
you, Venetia, should ever change.'

'It is the course of nature, Plantagenet; we all change, everything
changes. This day that was so bright is changing fast.'

'The stars are as beautiful as the sun, Venetia.'

'And what do you infer?'

'That Venetia, a woman, is as beautiful as Venetia, a little girl; and
should be as happy.'

'Is beauty happiness, Plantagenet?'

'It makes others happy, Venetia; and when we make others happy we
should be happy ourselves.'

'Few depend upon my influence, and I trust all of them are happy.'

'No one depends upon your influence more than I do.'

'Well, then, be happy always.'

'Would that I might! Ah, Venetia! can I ever forget old days? You were
the solace of my dark childhood; you were the charm that first taught
me existence was enjoyment. Before I came to Cherbury I never was
happy, and since that hour--Ah, Venetia! dear, dearest Venetia! who is
like to you?'

'Dear Plantagenet, you were always too kind to me. Would we were
children once more!'

'Nay, my own Venetia! you tell me everything changes, and we must not
murmur at the course of nature. I would not have our childhood back
again, even with all its joys, for there are others yet in store for
us, not less pure, not less beautiful. We loved each other then,
Venetia, and we love each other now.'

'My feelings towards you have never changed, Plantagenet; I heard
of you always with interest, and I met you again with heartfelt
pleasure.'

'Oh, that morning! Have you forgotten that morning? Do you know, you
will smile very much, but I really believe that I expected to see my
Venetia still a little girl, the very same who greeted me when I first
arrived with my mother and behaved so naughtily! And when I saw you,
and found what you had become, and what I ought always to have known
you must become, I was so confused I entirely lost my presence of
mind. You must have thought me very awkward, very stupid?'

'Indeed, I was rather gratified by observing that you could not meet
us again without emotion. I thought it told well for your heart, which
I always believed to be most kind, at least, I am sure, to us.'

'Kind! oh, Venetia! that word but ill describes what my heart ever
was, what it now is, to you. Venetia! dearest, sweetest Venetia!
can you doubt for a moment my feelings towards your home, and what
influence must principally impel them? Am I so dull, or you so blind,
Venetia? Can I not express, can you not discover how much, how
ardently, how fondly, how devotedly, I, I, I love you?'

'I am sure we always loved each other, Plantagenet.'

'Yes! but not with this love; not as I love you now!'

Venetia stared.

'I thought we could not love each other more than we did,
Plantagenet,' at length she said. 'Do you remember the jewel that you
gave me? I always wore it until you seemed to forget us, and then I
thought it looked so foolish! You remember what is inscribed on it:
'TO VENETIA, FROM HER AFFECTIONATE BROTHER, PLANTAGENET.' And as a
brother I always loved you; had I indeed been your sister I could not
have loved you more warmly and more truly.'

'I am not your brother, Venetia; I wish not to be loved as a brother:
and yet I must be loved by you, or I shall die.'

'What then do you wish?' inquired Venetia, with great simplicity.

'I wish you to marry me,' replied Lord Cadurcis.

'Marry!' exclaimed Venetia, with a face of wonder. 'Marry! Marry you!
Marry you, Plantagenet!'

'Ay! is that so wonderful? I love you, and if you love me, why should
we not marry?'

Venetia was silent and looked upon the ground, not from agitation,
for she was quite calm, but in thought; and then she said, 'I never
thought of marriage in my life, Plantagenet; I have no intention, no
wish to marry; I mean to live always with mamma.'

'And you shall always live with mamma, but that need not prevent you
from marrying me,' he replied. 'Do not we all live together now? What
will it signify if you dwell at Cadurcis and Lady Annabel at Cherbury?
Is it not one home? But at any rate, this point shall not be an
obstacle; for if it please you we will all live at Cherbury.'

'You say that we are happy now, Plantagenet; oh! let us remain as we
are.'

'My own sweet girl, my sister, if you please, any title, so it be one
of fondness, your sweet simplicity charms me; but, believe me, it
cannot be as you wish; we cannot remain as we are unless we marry.'

'Why not?'

'Because I shall be wretched and must live elsewhere, if indeed I can
live at all.'

'Oh, Plantagenet! indeed I thought you were my brother; when I found
you after so long a separation as kind as in old days, and kinder
still, I was so glad; I was so sure you loved me; I thought I had the
kindest brother in the world. Let us not talk of any other love. It
will, indeed it will, make mamma so miserable!'

'I am greatly mistaken,' replied Lord Cadurcis, who saw no obstacles
to his hopes in their conversation hitherto, 'if, on the contrary, our
union would not prove far from disagreeable to your mother, Venetia; I
will say our mother, for indeed to me she has been one.'

'Plantagenet,' said Venetia, in a very earnest tone, 'I love you
very much; but, if you love me, press me on this subject no more at
present. You have surprised, indeed you have bewildered me. There are
thoughts, there are feelings, there are considerations, that must be
respected, that must influence me. Nay! do not look so sorrowful,
Plantagenet. Let us be happy now. To-morrow, only to-morrow, and
to-morrow we are sure to meet, we will speak further of all this; but
now, now, for a moment let us forget it, if we can forget anything so
strange. Nay! you shall smile!'

He did. Who could resist that mild and winning glance! And indeed Lord
Cadurcis was scarcely disappointed, and not at all mortified at his
reception, or, as he esteemed it, the progress of his suit. The
conduct of Venetia he attributed entirely to her unsophisticated
nature and the timidity of a virgin soul. It made him prize even more
dearly the treasure that he believed awaited him. Silent, then, though
for a time they both struggled to speak on different subjects, silent,
and almost content, Cadurcis proceeded, with the arm of Venetia locked
in his and ever and anon unconsciously pressing it to his heart. The
rosy twilight had faded away, the stars were stealing forth, and the
moon again glittered. With a soul softer than the tinted shades of eve
and glowing like the heavens, Cadurcis joined his companions as they
entered the gardens of Cherbury. When they had arrived at home it
seemed that exhaustion had suddenly succeeded all the excitement
of the day. The Doctor, who was wearied, retired immediately. Lady
Annabel pressed Cadurcis to remain and take tea, or, at least to ride
home; but his lordship, protesting that he was not in the slightest
degree fatigued, and anticipating their speedy union on the morrow,
bade her good night, and pressing with fondness the hand of Venetia,
retraced his steps to the now solitary abbey.



CHAPTER VII.


Cadurcis returned to the abbey, but not to slumber. That love of
loneliness which had haunted him from his boyhood, and which ever
asserted its sway when under the influence of his passions, came over
him now with irresistible power. A day of enjoyment had terminated,
and it left him melancholy. Hour after hour he paced the moon-lit
cloisters of his abbey, where not a sound disturbed him, save the
monotonous fall of the fountain, that seems by some inexplicable
association always to blend with and never to disturb our feelings;
gay when we are joyful, and sad amid our sorrow.

Yet was he sorrowful! He was gloomy, and fell into a reverie about
himself, a subject to him ever perplexing and distressing. His
conversation of the morning with Doctor Masham recurred to him. What
did the Doctor mean by his character not being formed, and that
he might yet live to change all his opinions? Character! what was
character? It must be will; and his will was violent and firm. Young
as he was, he had early habituated himself to reflection, and the
result of his musings had been a desire to live away from the world
with those he loved. The world, as other men viewed it, had no charms
for him. Its pursuits and passions seemed to him on the whole paltry
and faint. He could sympathise with great deeds, but not with bustling
life. That which was common did not please him. He loved things that
were rare and strange; and the spell that bound him so strongly to
Venetia Herbert was her unusual life, and the singular circumstances
of her destiny that were not unknown to him. True he was young;
but, lord of himself, youth was associated with none of those
mortifications which make the juvenile pant for manhood. Cadurcis
valued his youth and treasured it. He could not conceive love, and the
romantic life that love should lead, without the circumambient charm
of youth adding fresh lustre to all that was bright and fair, and a
keener relish to every combination of enjoyment. The moonbeam fell
upon his mother's monument, a tablet on the cloister wall that
recorded the birth and death of KATHERINE CADURCIS. His thoughts flew
to his ancestry. They had conquered in France and Palestine, and left
a memorable name to the annalist of his country. Those days were past,
and yet Cadurcis felt within him the desire, perhaps the power, of
emulating them; but what remained? What career was open in this
mechanical age to the chivalric genius of his race? Was he misplaced
then in life? The applause of nations, there was something grand and
exciting in such a possession. To be the marvel of mankind what would
he not hazard? Dreams, dreams! If his ancestors were valiant and
celebrated it remained for him to rival, to excel them, at least in
one respect. Their coronet had never rested on a brow fairer than
the one for which he destined it. Venetia then, independently of his
passionate love, was the only apparent object worth his pursuit, the
only thing in this world that had realised his dreams, dreams sacred
to his own musing soul, that even she had never shared or guessed. And
she, she was to be his. He could not doubt it: but to-morrow would
decide; to-morrow would seal his triumph.

His sleep was short and restless; he had almost out-watched the stars,
and yet he rose with the early morn. His first thought was of Venetia;
he was impatient for the interview, the interview she promised and
even proposed. The fresh air was grateful to him; he bounded along to
Cherbury, and brushed the dew in his progress from the tall grass and
shrubs. In sight of the hall, he for a moment paused. He was before
his accustomed hour; and yet he was always too soon. Not to-day,
though, not to-day; suddenly he rushes forward and springs down the
green vista, for Venetia is on the terrace, and alone!

Always kind, this morning she greeted him with unusual affection.
Never had she seemed to him so exquisitely beautiful. Perhaps her
countenance to-day was more pale than wont. There seemed a softness in
her eyes usually so brilliant and even dazzling; the accents of her
salutation were suppressed and tender.

'I thought you would be here early,' she remarked, 'and therefore I
rose to meet you.'

Was he to infer from this artless confession that his image had
haunted her in her dreams, or only that she would not delay the
conversation on which his happiness depended? He could scarcely doubt
which version to adopt when she took his arm and led him from the
terrace to walk where they could not be disturbed.

'Dear Plantagenet,' she said, 'for indeed you are very dear to me; I
told you last night that I would speak to you to-day on your wishes,
that are so kind to me and so much intended for my happiness. I do not
love suspense; but indeed last night I was too much surprised, too
much overcome by what occurred, that exhausted as I naturally was by
all our pleasure, I could not tell you what I wished; indeed I could
not, dear Plantagenet.'

'My own Venetia!'

'So I hope you will always deem me; for I should be very unhappy if
you did not love me, Plantagenet, more unhappy than I have even been
these last two years; and I have been very unhappy, very unhappy
indeed, Plantagenet.'

'Unhappy, Venetia! my Venetia unhappy?'

'Listen! I will not weep. I can control my feelings. I have learnt to
do this; it is very sad, and very different to what my life once was;
but I can do it.'

'You amaze me!'

Venetia sighed, and then resumed, but in a tone mournful and low, and
yet to a degree firm.

'You have been away five years, Plantagenet.'

'But you have pardoned that.'

'I never blamed you; I had nothing to pardon. It was well for you to
be away; and I rejoice your absence has been so profitable to you.'

'But it was wicked to have been so silent.'

'Oh! no, no, no! Such ideas never entered into my head, nor even
mamma's. You were very young; you did as all would, as all must do.
Harbour not such thoughts. Enough, you have returned and love us yet.'

'Love! adore!'

'Five years are a long space of time, Plantagenet. Events will happen
in five years, even at Cherbury. I told you I was changed.'

'Yes!' said Lord Cadurcis, in a voice of some anxiety, with a
scrutinising eye.

'You left me a happy child; you find me a woman, and a miserable one.'

'Good God, Venetia! this suspense is awful. Be brief, I pray you. Has
any one--'

Venetia looked at him with an air of perplexity. She could not
comprehend the idea that impelled his interruption.

'Go on,' Lord Cadurcis added, after a short pause; 'I am indeed all
anxiety.'

'You remember that Christmas which you passed at the hall and walking
at night in the gallery, and--'

'Well! Your mother, I shall never forget it.'

'You found her weeping when you were once at Marringhurst. You told me
of it.'

'Ay, ay!'

'There is a wing of our house shut up. We often talked of it.'

'Often, Venetia; it was a mystery.'

'I have penetrated it,' replied Venetia in a solemn tone; 'and never
have I known what happiness is since.'

'Yes, yes!' said Lord Cadurcis, very pale, and in a whisper.

'Plantagenet, I have a father.'

Lord Cadurcis started, and for an instant his arm quitted Venetia's.
At length he said in a gloomy voice, 'I know it.'

'Know it!' exclaimed Venetia with astonishment. 'Who could have told
you the secret?'

'It is no secret,' replied Cadurcis; 'would that it were!'

'Would that it were! How strange you speak, how strange you look,
Plantagenet! If it be no secret that I have a father, why this
concealment then? I know that I am not the child of shame!' she added,
after a moment's pause, with an air of pride. A tear stole down the
cheek of Cadurcis.

'Plantagenet! dear, good Plantagenet! my brother! my own brother! see,
I kneel to you; Venetia kneels to you! your own Venetia! Venetia that
you love! Oh! if you knew the load that is on my spirit bearing me
down to a grave which I would almost welcome, you would speak to me;
you would tell me all. I have sighed for this; I have longed for this;
I have prayed for this. To meet some one who would speak to me of my
father; who had heard of him, who knew him; has been for years the
only thought of my being, the only object for which I existed. And
now, here comes Plantagenet, my brother! my own brother! and he knows
all, and he will tell me; yes, that he will; he will tell his Venetia
all, all!'

'Is there not your mother?' said Lord Cadurcis, in a broken tone.

'Forbidden, utterly forbidden. If I speak, they tell me her heart will
break; and therefore mine is breaking.'

'Have you no friend?'

'Are not you my friend?'

'Doctor Masham?'

'I have applied to him; he tells me that he lives, and then he shakes
his head.'

'You never saw your father; think not of him.'

'Not think of him!' exclaimed Venetia, with extraordinary energy. 'Of
what else? For what do I live but to think of him? What object have I
in life but to see him? I have seen him, once.'

'Ah!'

'I know his form by heart, and yet it was but a shade. Oh, what a
shade! what a glorious, what an immortal shade! If gods were upon
earth they would be like my father!'

'His deeds, at least, are not godlike,' observed Lord Cadurcis dryly,
and with some bitterness.

'I deny it!' said Venetia, her eyes sparkling with fire, her form
dilated with enthusiasm, and involuntarily withdrawing her arm from
her companion. Lord Cadurcis looked exceedingly astonished.

'You deny it!' he exclaimed. 'And what should you know about it?'

'Nature whispers to me that nothing but what is grand and noble could
be breathed by those lips, or fulfilled by that form.'

'I am glad you have not read his works,' said Lord Cadurcis, with
increased bitterness. 'As for his conduct, your mother is a living
evidence of his honour, his generosity, and his virtue.'

'My mother!' said Venetia, in a softened voice; 'and yet he loved my
mother!'

'She was his victim, as a thousand others may have been.'

'She is his wife!' replied Venetia, with some anxiety.

'Yes, a deserted wife; is that preferable to being a cherished
mistress? More honourable, but scarcely less humiliating.'

'She must have misunderstood him,' said Venetia. 'I have perused the
secret vows of his passion. I have read his praises of her beauty.
I have pored over the music of his emotions when he first became a
father; yes, he has gazed on me, even though but for a moment, with
love! Over me he has breathed forth the hallowed blessing of a parent!
That transcendent form has pressed his lips to mine, and held me with
fondness to his heart! And shall I credit aught to his dishonour? Is
there a being in existence who can persuade me he is heartless or
abandoned? No! I love him! I adore him! I am devoted to him with all
the energies of my being! I live only on the memory that he lives,
and, were he to die, I should pray to my God that I might join him
without delay in a world where it cannot be justice to separate a
child from a father.'

And this was Venetia! the fair, the serene Venetia! the young, the
inexperienced Venetia! pausing, as it were, on the parting threshold
of girlhood, whom, but a few hours since, he had fancied could
scarcely have proved a passion; who appeared to him barely to
comprehend the meaning of his advances; for whose calmness or whose
coldness he had consoled himself by the flattering conviction of her
unknowing innocence. Before him stood a beautiful and inspired Moenad,
her eye flashing supernatural fire, her form elevated above her
accustomed stature, defiance on her swelling brow, and passion on her
quivering lip!

Gentle and sensitive as Cadurcis ever appeared to those he loved,
there was in his soul a deep and unfathomed well of passions that had
been never stirred, and a bitter and mocking spirit in his brain, of
which he was himself unconscious. He had repaired this hopeful morn to
Cherbury to receive, as he believed, the plighted faith of a simple
and affectionate, perhaps grateful, girl. That her unsophisticated and
untutored spirit might not receive the advances of his heart with an
equal and corresponding ardour, he was prepared. It pleased him
that he should watch the gradual development of this bud of sweet
affections, waiting, with proud anxiety, her fragrant and her
full-blown love. But now it appeared that her coldness or her
indifference might be ascribed to any other cause than the one to
which he had attributed it, the innocence of an inexperienced mind.
This girl was no stranger to powerful passions; she could love, and
love with fervency, with devotion, with enthusiasm. This child of joy
was a woman of deep and thoughtful sorrows, brooding in solitude over
high resolves and passionate aspirations. Why were not the emotions
of such a tumultuous soul excited by himself? To him she was calm and
imperturbable; she called him brother, she treated him as a child. But
a picture, a fantastic shade, could raise in her a tempestuous swell
of sentiment that transformed her whole mind, and changed the colour
of all her hopes and thoughts. Deeply prejudiced against her father,
Cadurcis now hated him, and with a fell and ferocious earnestness that
few bosoms but his could prove. Pale with rage, he ground his teeth
and watched her with a glance of sarcastic aversion.

'You led me here to listen to a communication which interested me,' he
at length said. 'Have I heard it?'

His altered tone, the air of haughtiness which he assumed, were
not lost upon Venetia. She endeavoured to collect herself, but she
hesitated to reply.

'I repeat my inquiry,' said Cadurcis. 'Have you brought me here only
to inform me that you have a father, and that you adore him, or his
picture?'

'I led you here,' replied Venetia, in a subdued tone, and looking on
the ground, 'to thank you for your love, and to confess to you that I
love another.'

'Love another!' exclaimed Cadurcis, in a tone of derision. Simpleton!
The best thing your mother can do is to lock you up in the chamber
with the picture that has produced such marvellous effects.'

'I am no simpleton, Plantagenet,' rejoined Venetia, quietly, 'but one
who is acting as she thinks right; and not only as her mind, but as
her heart prompts her.'

They had stopped in the earlier part of this conversation on a little
plot of turf surrounded by shrubs; Cadurcis walked up and down this
area with angry steps, occasionally glancing at Venetia with a look of
mortification and displeasure.

'I tell you, Venetia,' he at length said, 'that you are a little fool.
What do you mean by saying that you cannot marry me because you love
another? Is not that other, by your own account, your father? Love him
as much as you like. Is that to prevent you from loving your husband
also?'

'Plantagenet, you are rude, and unnecessarily so,' said Venetia. 'I
repeat to you again, and for the last time, that all my heart is my
father's. It would be wicked in me to marry you, because I cannot love
you as a husband should be loved. I can never love you as I love my
father. However, it is useless to talk upon this subject. I have not
even the power of marrying you if I wished, for I have dedicated
myself to my father in the name of God; and I have offered a vow, to
be registered in heaven, that thenceforth I would exist only for the
purpose of being restored to his heart.'

'I congratulate you on your parent, Miss Herbert.'

'I feel that I ought to be proud of him, though, alas I can only feel
it. But, whatever your opinion may be of my father, I beg you to
remember that you are speaking to his child.'

'I shall state my opinion respecting your father, madam, with the most
perfect unreserve, wherever and whenever I choose; quite convinced
that, however you esteem that opinion, it will not be widely different
from the real sentiments of the only parent whom you ought to respect,
and whom you are bound to obey.'

'And I can tell you, sir, that whatever your opinion is on any subject
it will never influence mine. If, indeed, I were the mistress of my
own destiny, which I am not, it would have been equally out of my
power to have acted as you have so singularly proposed. I do not wish
to marry, and marry I never will; but were it in my power, or in
accordance with my wish, to unite my fate for ever with another's, it
should at least be with one to whom I could look up with reverence,
and even with admiration. He should be at least a man, and a great
man; one with whose name the world rung; perhaps, like my father, a
genius and a poet.'

'A genius and a poet!' exclaimed Lord Cadurcis, in a fury, stamping
with passion; 'are these fit terms to use when speaking of the most
abandoned profligate of his age? A man whose name is synonymous with
infamy, and which no one dares to breathe in civilised life; whose
very blood is pollution, as you will some day feel; who has violated
every tie, and derided every principle, by which society is
maintained; whose life is a living illustration of his own shameless
doctrines; who is, at the same time, a traitor to his king and an
apostate from his God!'

Curiosity, overpowering even indignation, had permitted Venetia to
listen even to this tirade. Pale as her companion, but with a glance
of withering scorn, she exclaimed, 'Passionate and ill-mannered boy!
words cannot express the disgust and the contempt with which you
inspire me.' She spoke and she disappeared. Cadurcis was neither able
nor desirous to arrest her flight. He remained rooted to the ground,
muttering to himself the word 'boy!' Suddenly raising his arm and
looking up to the sky, he exclaimed, 'The illusion is vanished!
Farewell, Cherbury! farewell, Cadurcis! a wider theatre awaits me! I
have been too long the slave of soft affections! I root them out of my
heart for ever!' and, fitting the action to the phrase, it seemed that
he hurled upon the earth all the tender emotions of his soul. 'Woman!
henceforth you shall be my sport! I have now no feeling but for
myself. When she spoke I might have been a boy; I am a boy no longer.
What I shall do I know not; but this I know, the world shall ring with
my name; I will be a man, and a great man!'



CHAPTER VIII.


The agitation of Venetia on her return was not unnoticed by her
mother; but Lady Annabel ascribed it to a far different cause than the
real one. She was rather surprised when the breakfast passed, and Lord
Cadurcis did not appear; somewhat perplexed when her daughter seized
the earliest opportunity of retiring to her own chamber; but, with
that self-restraint of which she was so complete a mistress, Lady
Annabel uttered no remark.

Once more alone, Venetia could only repeat to herself the wild words
that had burst from Plantagenet's lips in reference to her father.
What could they mean? His morals might be misrepresented, his opinions
might be misunderstood; stupidity might not comprehend his doctrines,
malignity might torture them; the purest sages have been accused
of immorality, the most pious philosophers have been denounced as
blasphemous: but, 'a traitor to his king,' that was a tangible, an
intelligible proposition, one with which all might grapple, which
could be easily disproved if false, scarcely propounded were it
not true. 'False to his God!' How false? Where? When? What mystery
involved her life? Unhappy girl! in vain she struggled with the
overwhelming burden of her sorrows. Now she regretted that she had
quarrelled with Cadurcis; it was evident that he knew everything and
would have told her all. And then she blamed him for his harsh and
unfeeling demeanour, and his total want of sympathy with her cruel and
perplexing situation. She had intended, she had struggled to be so
kind to him; she thought she had such a plain tale to tell that he
would have listened to it in considerate silence, and bowed to her
necessary and inevitable decision without a murmur. Amid all these
harassing emotions her mind tossed about like a ship without a rudder,
until, in her despair, she almost resolved to confess everything to
her mother, and to request her to soothe and enlighten her agitated
and confounded mind. But what hope was there of solace or information
from such a quarter? Lady Annabel's was not a mind to be diverted from
her purpose. Whatever might have been the conduct of her husband, it
was evident that Lady Annabel had traced out a course from which she
had resolved not to depart. She remembered the earnest and repeated
advice of Dr. Masham, that virtuous and intelligent man who never
advised anything but for their benefit. How solemnly had he enjoined
upon her never to speak to her mother upon the subject, unless she
wished to produce misery and distress! And what could her mother tell
her? Her father lived, he had abandoned her, he was looked upon as a
criminal, and shunned by the society whose laws and prejudices he had
alike outraged. Why should she revive, amid the comparative happiness
and serenity in which her mother now lived, the bitter recollection of
the almost intolerable misfortune of her existence? No! Venetia was
resolved to be a solitary victim. In spite of her passionate and
romantic devotion to her father she loved her mother with perfect
affection, the mother who had dedicated her life to her child, and at
least hoped she had spared her any share in their common unhappiness.
And this father, whoso image haunted her dreams, whose unknown voice
seemed sometimes to float to her quick ear upon the wind, could he be
that abandoned being that Cadurcis had described, and that all around
her, and all the circumstances of her life, would seem to indicate?
Alas! it might be truth; alas! it seemed like truth: and for one so
lost, so utterly irredeemable, was she to murmur against that pure
and benevolent parent who had cherished her with such devotion, and
snatched her perhaps from disgrace, dishonour, and despair!

And Cadurcis, would he return? With all his violence, the kind
Cadurcis! Never did she need a brother more than now; and now he was
absent, and she had parted with him in anger, deep, almost deadly:
she, too, who had never before uttered a harsh word to a human being,
who had been involved in only one quarrel in her life, and that almost
unconsciously, and which had nearly broken her heart. She wept,
bitterly she wept, this poor Venetia!

By one of those mental efforts which her strange lot often forced her
to practise, Venetia at length composed herself, and returned to the
room where she believed she would meet her mother, and hoped she
should see Cadurcis. He was not there: but Lady Annabel was seated as
calm and busied as usual; the Doctor had departed. Even his presence
would have proved a relief, however slight, to Venetia, who dreaded at
this moment to be alone with her mother. She had no cause, however,
for alarm; Lord Cadurcis never appeared, and was absent even from
dinner; the day died away, and still he was wanting; and at length
Venetia bade her usual good night to Lady Annabel, and received
her usual blessing and embrace without his name having been even
mentioned.

Venetia passed a disturbed night, haunted by painful dreams, in which
her father and Cadurcis were both mixed up, and with images of pain,
confusion, disgrace, and misery; but the morrow, at least, did not
prolong her suspense, for just as she had joined her mother at
breakfast, Mistress Pauncefort, who had been despatched on some
domestic mission by her mistress, entered with a face of wonder,
and began as usual: 'Only think, my lady; well to be sure, who have
thought it? I am quite confident, for my own part, I was quite taken
aback when I heard it; and I could not have believed my ears, if John
had not told me himself, and he had it from his lordship's own man.'

'Well, Pauncefort, what have you to say?' inquired Lady Annabel, very
calmly.

'And never to send no note, my lady; at least I have not seen one come
up. That makes it so very strange.'

'Makes what, Pauncefort?'

'Why, my lady, doesn't your la'ship know his lordship left the abbey
yesterday, and never said nothing to nobody; rode off without a word,
by your leave or with your leave? To be sure he always was the oddest
young gentleman as ever I met with; and, as I said to John: John, says
I, I hope his lordship has not gone to join the gipsies again.'

Venetia looked into a teacup, and then touched an egg, and then
twirled a spoon; but Lady Annabel seemed quite imperturbable, and only
observed, 'Probably his guardian is ill, and he has been suddenly
summoned to town. I wish you would bring my knitting-needles,
Pauncefort.'

The autumn passed, and Lord Cadurcis never returned to the abbey,
and never wrote to any of his late companions. Lady Annabel never
mentioned his name; and although she seemed to have no other object in
life but the pleasure and happiness of her child, this strange mother
never once consulted Venetia on the probable occasion of his sudden
departure, and his strange conduct.



BOOK IV.



CHAPTER I.


Party feeling, perhaps, never ran higher in England than during the
period immediately subsequent to the expulsion of the Coalition
Ministry. After the indefatigable faction of the American war, and the
flagrant union with Lord North, the Whig party, and especially Charles
Fox, then in the full vigour of his bold and ready mind, were stung to
the quick that all their remorseless efforts to obtain and preserve
the government of the country should terminate in the preferment and
apparent permanent power of a mere boy.

Next to Charles Fox, perhaps the most eminent and influential member
of the Whig party was Lady Monteagle. The daughter of one of the
oldest and most powerful peers in the kingdom, possessing lively
talents and many fascinating accomplishments, the mistress of a great
establishment, very beautiful, and, although she had been married
some years, still young, the celebrated wife of Lord Monteagle found
herself the centre of a circle alike powerful, brilliant, and refined.
She was the Muse of the Whig party, at whose shrine every man of wit
and fashion was proud to offer his flattering incense; and her house
became not merely the favourite scene of their social pleasures, but
the sacred, temple of their political rites; here many a manoeuvre was
planned, and many a scheme suggested; many a convert enrolled, and
many a votary initiated.

Reclining on a couch in a boudoir, which she was assured was the exact
facsimile of that of Marie Antoinette, Lady Monteagle, with an eye
sparkling with excitement and a cheek flushed with emotion, appeared
deeply interested in a volume, from which she raised her hand as her
husband entered the room.

'Gertrude, my love,' said his lordship, 'I have asked the new bishop
to dine with us to-day.'

'My dear Henry,' replied her ladyship, 'what could induce you to do
anything so strange?'

'I suppose I have made a mistake, as usual,' said his lordship,
shrugging his shoulders, with a smile.

'My dear Henry, you know you may ask whomever you like to your house.
I never find fault with what you do. But what could induce you to ask
a Tory bishop to meet a dozen of our own people?'

'I thought I had done wrong directly I had asked him,' rejoined his
lordship; 'and yet he would not have come if I had not made such a
point of it. I think I will put him off.'

'No, my love, that would be wrong; you cannot do that.'

'I cannot think how it came into my head. The fact is, I lost my
presence of mind. You know he was my tutor at Christchurch, when poor
dear Herbert and I were such friends, and very kind he was to us both;
and so, the moment I saw him, I walked across the House, introduced
myself, and asked him to dinner.'

'Well, never mind,' said Lady Monteagle, smiling. 'It is rather
ridiculous: but I hope nothing will be said to offend him.'

'Oh! do not be alarmed about that: he is quite a man of the world,
and, although he has his opinions, not at all a partisan. I assure you
poor dear Herbert loved him to the last, and to this very moment has
the greatest respect and affection for him.'

'How very strange that not only your tutor, but Herbert's, should be a
bishop,' remarked the lady, smiling.

'It is very strange,' said his lordship, 'and it only shows that it is
quite useless in this world to lay plans, or reckon on anything. You
know how it happened?'

'Not I, indeed; I have never given a thought to the business; I only
remember being very vexed that that stupid old Bangerford should not
have died when we were in office, and then, at any rate, we should
have got another vote.'

'Well, you know,' said his lordship, 'dear old Masham, that is his
name, was at Weymouth this year; with whom do you think, of all people
in the world?'

'How should I know? Why should I think about it, Henry?'

'Why, with Herbert's wife.'

'What, that horrid woman?'

'Yes, Lady Annabel.'

'And where was his daughter? Was she there?'

'Of course. She has grown up, and a most beautiful creature they say
she is; exactly like her father.'

'Ah! I shall always regret I never saw him,' said her ladyship.

'Well, the daughter is in bad health; and so, after keeping her shut
up all her life, the mother was obliged to take her to Weymouth; and
Masham, who has a living in their neighbourhood, which, by-the-bye,
Herbert gave him, and is their chaplain and counsellor, and friend of
the family, and all that sort of thing, though I really believe he has
always acted for the best, he was with them. Well, the King took the
greatest fancy to these Herberts; and the Queen, too, quite singled
them out; and, in short, they were always with the royal family. It
ended by his Majesty making Masham his chaplain; and now he has made
him a bishop.'

'Very droll indeed,' said her ladyship; 'and the drollest thing of all
is, that he is now coming to dine here.'

'Have you seen Cadurcis to-day?' said Lord Monteagle.

'Of course,' said her ladyship.

'He dines here?'

'To be sure. I am reading his new poem; it will not be published till
to-morrow.'

'Is it good?'

'Good! What crude questions you do always ask, Henry!' exclaimed Lady
Monteagle. 'Good! Of course it is good. It is something better than
good.'

'But I mean is it as good as his other things? Will it make as much
noise as his last thing?'

'Thing! Now, Henry, you know very well that if there be anything I
dislike in the world, it is calling a poem a thing.'

'Well, my dear, you know I am no judge of poetry. But if you are
pleased, I am quite content. There is a knock. Some of your friends.
I am off. I say, Gertrude, be kind to old Masham, that is a dear
creature!'

Her ladyship extended her hand, to which his lordship pressed his
lips, and just effected his escape as the servant announced a visitor,
in the person of Mr. Horace Pole.

'Oh! my dear Mr. Pole, I am quite exhausted,' said her ladyship; 'I am
reading Cadurcis' new poem; it will not he published till to-morrow,
and it really has destroyed my nerves. I have got people to dinner
to-day, and I am sure I shall not be able to encounter them.'

'Something outrageous, I suppose,' said Mr. Pole, with a sneer. 'I
wish Cadurcis would study Pope.'

'Study Pope! My dear Mr. Pole, you have no imagination.'

'No, I have not, thank Heaven!' drawled out Mr. Pole.

'Well, do not let us have a quarrel about Cadurcis,' said Lady
Monteagle. 'All you men are jealous of him.'

'And some of you women, I think, too,' said Mr. Pole.

Lady Monteagle faintly smiled.

'Poor Cadurcis!' she exclaimed; 'he has a very hard life of it. He
complains bitterly that so many women are in love with him. But then
he is such an interesting creature, what can he expect?'

'Interesting!' exclaimed Mr. Pole. 'Now I hold he is the most
conceited, affected fellow that I ever met,' he continued with unusual
energy.

'Ah! you men do not understand him,' said Lady Monteagle, shaking her
head. 'You cannot,' she added, with a look of pity.

'I cannot, certainly,' said Mr. Pole, 'or his writings either. For my
part I think the town has gone mad.'

'Well, you must confess,' said her ladyship, with a glance of triumph,
'that it was very lucky for us that I made him a Whig.'

'I cannot agree with you at all on that head,' said Mr. Pole. 'We
certainly are not very popular at this moment, and I feel convinced
that a connection with a person who attracts so much notice as
Cadurcis unfortunately does, and whose opinions on morals and religion
must be so offensive to the vast majority of the English public, must
ultimately prove anything but advantageous to our party.'

'Oh! my dear Mr. Pole,' said her ladyship, in a tone of affected
deprecation, 'think what a genius he is!'

'We have very different ideas of genius, Lady Monteagle, I suspect,'
said her visitor.

'You cannot deny,' replied her ladyship, rising from her recumbent
posture, with some animation, 'that he is a poet?'

'It is difficult to decide upon our contemporaries,' said Mr. Pole
dryly.

'Charles Fox thinks he is the greatest poet that ever existed,' said
her ladyship, as if she were determined to settle the question.

'Because he has written a lampoon on the royal family,' rejoined Mr.
Pole.

'You are a very provoking person,' said Lady Monteagle; 'but you do
not provoke me; do not flatter yourself you do.'

'That I feel to be an achievement alike beyond my power and my
ambition,' replied Mr. Pole, slightly bowing, but with a sneer.

'Well, read this,' said Lady Monteagle, 'and then decide upon the
merits of Cadurcis.'

Mr. Pole took the extended volume, but with no great willingness, and
turned over a page or two and read a passage here and there.

'Much the same as his last effusion, I think' he observed, as far as
I can judge from so cursory a review. Exaggerated passion, bombastic
language, egotism to excess, and, which perhaps is the only portion
that is genuine, mixed with common-place scepticism and impossible
morals, and a sort of vague, dreamy philosophy, which, if it mean
anything, means atheism, borrowed from his idol, Herbert, and which he
himself evidently does not comprehend.'

'Monster!' exclaimed Lady Monteagle, with a mock assumption of
indignation, 'and you are going to dine with him here to-day. You do
not deserve it.'

'It is a reward which is unfortunately too often obtained by me,'
replied Mr. Pole. 'One of the most annoying consequences of your
friend's popularity, Lady Monteagle, is that there is not a dinner
party where one can escape him. I met him yesterday at Fanshawe's. He
amused himself by eating only biscuits, and calling for soda water,
while we quaffed our Burgundy. How very original! What a thing it is
to be a great poet!'

'Perverse, provoking mortal!' exclaimed Lady Monteagle. 'And on what
should a poet live? On coarse food, like you coarse mortals? Cadurcis
is all spirit, and in my opinion his diet only makes him more
interesting.'

'I understand,' said Mr. Pole, 'that he cannot endure a woman to eat
at all. But you are all spirit, Lady Monteagle, and therefore of
course are not in the least inconvenienced. By-the-bye, do you mean to
give us any of those charming little suppers this season?'

'I shall not invite you,' replied her ladyship; 'none but admirers of
Lord Cadurcis enter this house.'

'Your menace effects my instant conversion,' replied Mr. Pole. 'I will
admire him as much as you desire, only do not insist upon my reading
his works.'

'I have not the slightest doubt you know them by heart,' rejoined her
ladyship.

Mr. Pole smiled, bowed, and disappeared; and Lady Monteagle sat down
to write a billet to Lord Cadurcis, to entreat him to be with her at
five o'clock, which was at least half an hour before the other guests
were expected. The Monteagles were considered to dine ridiculously
late.



CHAPTER II.


Marmion Herbert, sprung from one of the most illustrious families in
England, became at an early age the inheritor of a great estate, to
which, however, he did not succeed with the prejudices or opinions
usually imbibed or professed by the class to which he belonged. While
yet a boy, Marmion Herbert afforded many indications of possessing a
mind alike visionary and inquisitive, and both, although not in an
equal degree, sceptical and creative. Nature had gifted him with
precocious talents; and with a temperament essentially poetic, he
was nevertheless a great student. His early reading, originally by
accident and afterwards by an irresistible inclination, had fallen
among the works of the English freethinkers: with all their errors,
a profound and vigorous race, and much superior to the French
philosophers, who were after all only their pupils and their
imitators. While his juvenile studies, and in some degree the
predisposition of his mind, had thus prepared him to doubt and finally
to challenge the propriety of all that was established and received,
the poetical and stronger bias of his mind enabled him quickly to
supply the place of everything he would remove and destroy; and, far
from being the victim of those frigid and indifferent feelings
which must ever be the portion of the mere doubter, Herbert, on the
contrary, looked forward with ardent and sanguine enthusiasm to a
glorious and ameliorating future, which should amply compensate and
console a misguided and unhappy race for the miserable past and
the painful and dreary present. To those, therefore, who could not
sympathise with his views, it will be seen that Herbert, in attempting
to fulfil them, became not merely passively noxious from his example,
but actively mischievous from his exertions. A mere sceptic, he would
have been perhaps merely pitied; a sceptic with a peculiar faith of
his own, which he was resolved to promulgate, Herbert became odious. A
solitary votary of obnoxious opinions, Herbert would have been looked
upon only as a madman; but the moment he attempted to make proselytes
he rose into a conspirator against society.

Young, irresistibly prepossessing in his appearance, with great
eloquence, crude but considerable knowledge, an ardent imagination
and a subtle mind, and a generous and passionate soul, under any
circumstances he must have obtained and exercised influence, even if
his Creator had not also bestowed upon him a spirit of indomitable
courage; but these great gifts of nature being combined with accidents
of fortune scarcely less qualified to move mankind, high rank, vast
wealth, and a name of traditionary glory, it will not be esteemed
surprising that Marmion Herbert, at an early period, should have
attracted around him many enthusiastic disciples.

At Christchurch, whither he repaired at an unusually early age,
his tutor was Doctor Masham; and the profound respect and singular
affection with which that able, learned, and amiable man early
inspired his pupil, for a time controlled the spirit of Herbert; or
rather confined its workings to so limited a sphere that the results
were neither dangerous to society nor himself. Perfectly comprehending
and appreciating the genius of the youth entrusted to his charge,
deeply interested in his spiritual as well as worldly welfare, and
strongly impressed with the importance of enlisting his pupil's
energies in favour of that existing order, both moral and religious,
in the truth and indispensableness of which he was a sincere believer,
Doctor Masham omitted no opportunity of combating the heresies of the
young inquirer; and as the tutor, equally by talent, experience, and
learning, was a competent champion of the great cause to which he was
devoted, his zeal and ability for a time checked the development of
those opinions of which he witnessed the menacing influence over
Herbert with so much fear and anxiety. The college life of Marmion
Herbert, therefore, passed in ceaseless controversy with his tutor;
and as he possessed, among many other noble qualities, a high and
philosophic sense of justice, he did not consider himself authorised,
while a doubt remained on his own mind, actively to promulgate those
opinions, of the propriety and necessity of which he scarcely ever
ceased to be persuaded. To this cause it must be mainly attributed
that Herbert was not expelled the university; for had he pursued there
the course of which his cruder career at Eton had given promise, there
can be little doubt that some flagrant outrage of the opinions held
sacred in that great seat of orthodoxy would have quickly removed him
from the salutary sphere of their control.

Herbert quitted Oxford in his nineteenth year, yet inferior to
few that he left there, even among the most eminent, in classical
attainments, and with a mind naturally profound, practised in all the
arts of ratiocination. His general knowledge also was considerable,
and he was a proficient in those scientific pursuits which were then
rare. Notwithstanding his great fortune and position, his departure
from the university was not a signal with him for that abandonment to
the world, and that unbounded self-enjoyment naturally so tempting to
youth. On the contrary, Herbert shut himself up in his magnificent
castle, devoted to solitude and study. In his splendid library he
consulted the sages of antiquity, and conferred with them on the
nature of existence and of the social duties; while in his laboratory
or his dissecting-room he occasionally flattered himself he might
discover the great secret which had perplexed generations. The
consequence of a year passed in this severe discipline was
unfortunately a complete recurrence to those opinions that he had
early imbibed, and which now seemed fixed in his conviction beyond the
hope or chance of again faltering. In politics a violent republican,
and an advocate, certainly a disinterested one, of a complete equality
of property and conditions, utterly objecting to the very foundation
of our moral system, and especially a strenuous antagonist of
marriage, which he taught himself to esteem not only as an unnatural
tie, but as eminently unjust towards that softer sex, who had been
so long the victims of man; discarding as a mockery the received
revelation of the divine will; and, if no longer an atheist,
substituting merely for such an outrageous dogma a subtle and shadowy
Platonism; doctrines, however, which Herbert at least had acquired by
a profound study of the works of their great founder; the pupil of
Doctor Masham at length deemed himself qualified to enter that world
which he was resolved to regenerate; prepared for persecution, and
steeled even to martyrdom.

But while the doctrines of the philosopher had been forming, the
spirit of the poet had not been inactive. Loneliness, after all, the
best of Muses, had stimulated the creative faculty of his being.
Wandering amid his solitary woods and glades at all hours and seasons,
the wild and beautiful apparitions of nature had appealed to a
sympathetic soul. The stars and winds, the pensive sunset and the
sanguine break of morn, the sweet solemnity of night, the ancient
trees and the light and evanescent flowers, all signs and sights and
sounds of loveliness and power, fell on a ready eye and a responsive
ear. Gazing on the beautiful, he longed to create it. Then it was that
the two passions which seemed to share the being of Herbert appeared
simultaneously to assert their sway, and he resolved to call in his
Muse to the assistance of his Philosophy.

Herbert celebrated that fond world of his imagination, which he wished
to teach men to love. In stanzas glittering with refined images, and
resonant with subtle symphony, he called into creation that society of
immaculate purity and unbounded enjoyment which he believed was the
natural inheritance of unshackled man. In the hero he pictured a
philosopher, young and gifted as himself; in the heroine, his idea of
a perfect woman. Although all those peculiar doctrines of Herbert,
which, undisguised, must have excited so much odium, were more or
less developed and inculcated in this work; nevertheless they were
necessarily so veiled by the highly spiritual and metaphorical
language of the poet, that it required some previous acquaintance with
the system enforced, to be able to detect and recognise the esoteric
spirit of his Muse. The public read only the history of an ideal world
and of creatures of exquisite beauty, told in language that alike
dazzled their fancy and captivated their ear. They were lost in a
delicious maze of metaphor and music, and were proud to acknowledge
an addition to the glorious catalogue of their poets in a young and
interesting member of their aristocracy.

In the meanwhile Herbert entered that great world that had long
expected him, and hailed his advent with triumph. How long might have
elapsed before they were roused by the conduct of Herbert to the
error under which they were labouring as to his character, it is
not difficult to conjecture; but before he could commence those
philanthropic exertions which apparently absorbed him, he encountered
an individual who most unconsciously put his philosophy not merely to
the test, but partially even to the rout; and this was Lady Annabel
Sidney. Almost as new to the world as himself, and not less admired,
her unrivalled beauty, her unusual accomplishments, and her pure and
dignified mind, combined, it must be confessed, with the flattering
admiration of his genius, entirely captivated the philosophical
antagonist of marriage. It is not surprising that Marmion Herbert,
scarcely of age, and with a heart of extreme susceptibility, resolved,
after a struggle, to be the first exception to his system, and, as he
faintly flattered himself, the last victim of prejudice. He wooed and
won the Lady Annabel.

The marriage ceremony was performed by Doctor Masham, who had read his
pupil's poem, and had been a little frightened by its indications; but
this happy union had dissipated all his fears. He would not believe in
any other than a future career for him alike honourable and happy; and
he trusted that if any wild thoughts still lingered in Herbert's mind,
that they would clear off by the same literary process; so that
the utmost ill consequences of his immature opinions might be an
occasional line that the wise would have liked to blot, and yet which
the unlettered might scarcely be competent to comprehend. Mr. and Lady
Annabel Herbert departed after the ceremony to his castle, and Doctor
Masham to Marringhurst, a valuable living in another county, to which
his pupil had just presented him.

Some months after this memorable event, rumours reached the ear of the
good Doctor that all was not as satisfactory as he could desire in
that establishment, in the welfare of which he naturally took so
lively an interest. Herbert was in the habit of corresponding with the
rector of Marringhurst, and his first letters were full of details as
to his happy life and his perfect consent; but gradually these details
had been considerably abridged, and the correspondence assumed chiefly
a literary or philosophical character. Lady Annabel, however, was
always mentioned with regard, and an intimation had been duly given
to the Doctor that she was in a delicate and promising situation, and
that they were both alike anxious that he should christen their child.
It did not seem very surprising to the good Doctor, who was a man of
the world, that a husband, six months after marriage, should not
speak of the memorable event with all the fulness and fondness of
the honeymoon; and, being one of those happy tempers that always
anticipate the best, he dismissed from his mind, as vain gossip and
idle exaggerations, the ominous whispers that occasionally reached
him.

Immediately after the Christmas ensuing his marriage, the Herberts
returned to London, and the Doctor, who happened to be a short time
in the metropolis, paid them a visit. His observations were far from
unsatisfactory; it was certainly too evident that Marmion was no
longer enamoured of Lady Annabel, but he treated her apparently with
courtesy, and even cordiality. The presence of Dr. Masham tended,
perhaps, a little to revive old feelings, for he was as much a
favourite with the wife as with the husband; but, on the whole,
the Doctor quitted them with an easy heart, and sanguine that the
interesting and impending event would, in all probability, revive
affection on the part of Herbert, or at least afford Lady Annabel the
only substitute for a husband's heart.

In due time the Doctor heard from Herbert that his wife had gone
down into the country, but was sorry to observe that Herbert did not
accompany her. Even this disagreeable impression was removed by a
letter, shortly after received from Herbert, dated from the castle,
and written in high spirits, informing him that Annabel had made him
the happy father of the most beautiful little girl in the world.
During the ensuing three months Mr. Herbert, though he resumed his
residence in London, paid frequent visits to the castle, where Lady
Annabel remained; and his occasional correspondence, though couched
in a careless vein, still on the whole indicated a cheerful spirit;
though ever and anon were sarcastic observations as to the felicity of
the married state, which, he said, was an undoubted blessing, as it
kept a man out of all scrapes, though unfortunately under the penalty
of his total idleness and inutility in life. On the whole, however,
the reader may judge of the astonishment of Doctor Masham when, in
common with the world, very shortly after the receipt of this letter,
Mr. Herbert having previously proceeded to London, and awaiting, as
was said, the daily arrival of his wife and child, his former tutor
learned that Lady Annabel, accompanied only by Pauncefort and Venetia,
had sought her father's roof, declaring that circumstances had
occurred which rendered it quite impossible that she could live with
Mr. Herbert any longer, and entreating his succour and parental
protection.

Never was such a hubbub in the world! In vain Herbert claimed his
wife, and expressed his astonishment, declaring that he had parted
from her with the expression of perfect kind feeling on both sides.
No answer was given to his letter, and no explanation of any kind
conceded him. The world universally declared Lady Annabel an injured
woman, and trusted that she would eventually have the good sense and
kindness to gratify them by revealing the mystery; while Herbert,
on the contrary, was universally abused and shunned, avoided by his
acquaintances, and denounced as the most depraved of men.

In this extraordinary state of affairs Herbert acted in a manner
the best calculated to secure his happiness, and the very worst to
preserve his character. Having ostentatiously shown himself in every
public place, and courted notice and inquiry by every means in his
power, to prove that he was not anxious to conceal himself or avoid
any inquiry, he left the country, free at last to pursue that career
to which he had always aspired, and in which he had been checked by
a blunder, from the consequences of which he little expected that
he should so speedily and strangely emancipate himself. It was in a
beautiful villa on the lake of Geneva that he finally established
himself, and there for many years he employed himself in the
publication of a series of works which, whether they were poetry or
prose, imaginative or investigative, all tended to the same consistent
purpose, namely, the fearless and unqualified promulgation of those
opinions, on the adoption of which he sincerely believed the happiness
of mankind depended; and the opposite principles to which, in his own
case, had been productive of so much mortification and misery.
His works, which were published in England, were little read, and
universally decried. The critics were always hard at work, proving
that he was no poet, and demonstrating in the most logical manner
that he was quite incapable of reasoning on the commonest topic. In
addition to all this, his ignorance was self-evident; and though he
was very fond of quoting Greek, they doubted whether he was capable of
reading the original authors. The general impression of the English
public, after the lapse of some years, was, that Herbert was an
abandoned being, of profligate habits, opposed to all the institutions
of society that kept his infamy in check, and an avowed atheist; and
as scarcely any one but a sympathetic spirit ever read a line he
wrote, for indeed the very sight of his works was pollution, it is not
very wonderful that this opinion was so generally prevalent. A calm
inquirer might, perhaps, have suspected that abandoned profligacy is
not very compatible with severe study, and that an author is seldom
loose in his life, even if he be licentious in his writings. A calm
inquirer might, perhaps, have been of opinion that a solitary sage
may be the antagonist of a priesthood without absolutely denying the
existence of a God; but there never are calm inquirers. The world, on
every subject, however unequally, is divided into parties; and even in
the case of Herbert and his writings, those who admired his genius,
and the generosity of his soul, were not content without advocating,
principally out of pique to his adversaries, his extreme opinions on
every subject, moral, political, and religious.

Besides, it must be confessed, there was another circumstance which
was almost as fatal to Herbert's character in England as his loose and
heretical opinions. The travelling English, during their visits to
Geneva, found out that their countryman solaced or enlivened his
solitude by unhallowed ties. It is a habit to which very young men,
who are separated from or deserted by their wives, occasionally have
recourse. Wrong, no doubt, as most things are, but it is to be hoped
venial; at least in the case of any man who is not also an atheist.
This unfortunate mistress of Herbert was magnified into a seraglio;
the most extraordinary tales of the voluptuous life of one who
generally at his studies out-watched the stars, were rife in English
society; and

  Hoary marquises and stripling dukes,

who were either protecting opera dancers, or, still worse, making
love to their neighbours' wives, either looked grave when the name of
Herbert was mentioned in female society, or affectedly confused, as if
they could a tale unfold, were they not convinced that the sense of
propriety among all present was infinitely superior to their sense of
curiosity.

The only person to whom Herbert communicated in England was Doctor
Masham. He wrote to him immediately on his establishment at Geneva, in
a calm yet sincere and serious tone, as if it were useless to dwell
too fully on the past. Yet he declared, although now that it was all
over he avowed his joy at the interposition of his destiny, and the
opportunity which he at length possessed of pursuing the career for
which he was adapted, that he had to his knowledge given his wife
no cause of offence which could authorise her conduct. As for his
daughter, he said he should not be so cruel as to tear her from
her mother's breast; though, if anything could induce him to such
behaviour, it would be the malignant and ungenerous menace of his
wife's relatives, that they would oppose his preferred claim to
the guardianship of his child, on the plea of his immoral life and
atheistical opinions. With reference to pecuniary arrangements, as
his chief seat was entailed on male heirs, he proposed that his wife
should take up her abode at Cherbury, an estate which had been settled
on her and her children at her marriage, and which, therefore, would
descend to Venetia. Finally, he expressed his satisfaction that the
neighbourhood of Marringhurst would permit his good and still faithful
friend to cultivate the society and guard over the welfare of his wife
and daughter.

During the first ten years of Herbert's exile, for such indeed it
might be considered, the Doctor maintained with him a rare yet regular
correspondence; but after that time a public event occurred, and
a revolution took place in Herbert's life which terminated all
communication between them; a termination occasioned, however, by such
a simultaneous conviction of its absolute necessity, that it was not
attended by any of those painful communications which are too often
the harrowing forerunners of a formal disruption of ancient ties.

This event was the revolt of the American colonies; and this
revolution in Herbert's career, his junction with the rebels against
his native country. Doubtless it was not without a struggle, perhaps
a pang, that Herbert resolved upon a line of conduct to which it
must assuredly have required the strongest throb of his cosmopolitan
sympathy, and his amplest definition of philanthropy to have impelled
him. But without any vindictive feelings towards England, for he ever
professed and exercised charity towards his enemies, attributing their
conduct entirely to their ignorance and prejudice, upon this step he
nevertheless felt it his duty to decide. There seemed in the opening
prospects of America, in a world still new, which had borrowed from
the old as it were only so much civilisation as was necessary to
create and to maintain order; there seemed in the circumstances of its
boundless territory, and the total absence of feudal institutions and
prejudices, so fair a field for the practical introduction of those
regenerating principles to which Herbert had devoted all the thought
and labour of his life, that he resolved, after long and perhaps
painful meditation, to sacrifice every feeling and future interest to
its fulfilment. All idea of ever returning to his native country, even
were it only to mix his ashes with the generations of his ancestors;
all hope of reconciliation with his wife, or of pressing to his
heart that daughter, often present to his tender fancy, and to whose
affections he had feelingly appealed in an outburst of passionate
poetry; all these chances, chances which, in spite of his philosophy,
had yet a lingering charm, must be discarded for ever. They were
discarded. Assigning his estate to his heir upon conditions, in order
to prevent its forfeiture, with such resources as he could command,
and which were considerable, Marmion Herbert arrived at Boston, where
his rank, his wealth, his distinguished name, his great talents, and
his undoubted zeal for the cause of liberty, procured him an eminent
and gratifying reception. He offered to raise a regiment for the
republic, and the offer was accepted, and he was enrolled among the
citizens. All this occurred about the time that the Cadurcis family
first settled at the abbey, and this narrative will probably throw
light upon several slight incidents which heretofore may have
attracted the perplexed attention of the reader: such as the newspaper
brought by Dr. Masham at the Christmas visit; the tears shed at a
subsequent period at Marringhurst, when he related to her the last
intelligence that had been received from America. For, indeed, it is
impossible to express the misery and mortification which this last
conduct of her husband occasioned Lady Annabel, brought up, as she had
been, with feelings of romantic loyalty and unswerving patriotism.
To be a traitor seemed the only blot that remained for his sullied
scutcheon, and she had never dreamed of that. An infidel, a
profligate, a deserter from his home, an apostate from his God! one
infamy alone remained, and now he had attained it; a traitor to his
king! Why, every peasant would despise him!

General Herbert, however, for such he speedily became, at the head of
his division, soon arrested the attention, and commanded the respect,
of Europe. To his exertions the successful result of the struggle
was, in a great measure, attributed; and he received the thanks of
Congress, of which he became a member. His military and political
reputation exercised a beneficial influence upon his literary fame.
His works were reprinted in America, and translated into French,
and published at Geneva and Basle, whence they were surreptitiously
introduced into France. The Whigs, who had become very factious, and
nearly revolutionary, during the American war, suddenly became proud
of their countryman, whom a new world hailed as a deliverer, and
Paris declared to be a great poet and an illustrious philosopher. His
writings became fashionable, especially among the young; numerous
editions of them appeared, and in time it was discovered that Herbert
was now not only openly read, and enthusiastically admired, but had
founded a school.

The struggle with America ceased about the time of Lord Cadurcis' last
visit to Cherbury, when, from his indignant lips, Venetia first learnt
the enormities of her father's career. Since that period some three
years had elapsed until we introduced our readers to the boudoir
of Lady Monteagle. During this period, among the Whigs and their
partisans the literary fame of Herbert had arisen and become
established. How they have passed in regard to Lady Annabel Herbert
and her daughter, on the one hand, and Lord Cadurcis himself on the
other, we will endeavour to ascertain in the following chapter.



CHAPTER III.


From the last departure of Lord Cadurcis from Cherbury, the health of
Venetia again declined. The truth is, she brooded in solitude over her
strange lot, until her nerves became relaxed by intense reverie and
suppressed feeling. The attention of a mother so wrapt up in her child
as Lady Annabel, was soon attracted to the increasing languor of
our heroine, whose eye each day seemed to grow less bright, and her
graceful form less lithe and active. No longer, fond of the sun and
breeze as a beautiful bird, was Venetia seen, as heretofore, glancing
in the garden, or bounding over the lawns; too often might she be
found reclining on the couch, in spite of all the temptations of the
spring; while her temper, once so singularly sweet that it seemed
there was not in the world a word that could ruffle it, and which
required so keenly and responded so quickly to sympathy, became
reserved, if not absolutely sullen, or at times even captious and
fretful.

This change in the appearance and demeanour of her daughter filled
Lady Annabel with anxiety and alarm. In vain she expressed to Venetia
her conviction of her indisposition; but Venetia, though her altered
habits confirmed the suspicion, and authorised the inquiry of her
parent, persisted ever in asserting that she had no ailment. Her old
medical attendant was, however, consulted, and, being perplexed with
the case, he recommended change of air. Lady Annabel then consulted
Dr. Masham, and he gave his opinion in favour of change of air for one
reason: and that was, that it would bring with it what he had long
considered Venetia to stand in need of, and that was change of life.

Dr. Masham was right; but then, to guide him in forming his judgment,
he had the advantage of some psychological knowledge of the case,
which, in a greet degree, was a sealed book to the poor puzzled
physician. We laugh very often at the errors of medical men; but if
we would only, when we consult them, have strength of mind enough to
extend to them something better than a half-confidence, we might be
cured the sooner. How often, when the unhappy disciple of Esculapius
is perplexing himself about the state of our bodies, we might throw
light upon his obscure labours by simply detailing to him the state of
our minds!

The result of these consultations in the Herbert family was a final
resolution, on the part of Lady Annabel, to quit Cherbury for a while.
As the sea air was especially recommended to Venetia, and as Lady
Annabel shrank with a morbid apprehension from society, to which
nothing could persuade her she was not an object either of odium or
impertinent curiosity, she finally resolved to visit Weymouth, then a
small and secluded watering-place, and whither she arrived and settled
herself, it not being even the season when its few customary visitors
were in the habit of gathering.

This residence at Weymouth quite repaid Lady Annabel for all the
trouble of her new settlement, and for the change in her life very
painful to her confirmed habits, which she experienced in leaving for
the first time for such a long series of years, her old hall; for the
rose returned to the cheek of her daughter, and the western breezes,
joined with the influence of the new objects that surrounded her, and
especially of that ocean, and its strange and inexhaustible variety,
on which she gazed for the first time, gradually, but surely,
completed the restoration of Venetia to health, and with it to much of
her old vivacity.

When Lady Annabel had resided about a year at Weymouth, in the society
of which she had invariably made the indisposition of Venetia a reason
for not entering, a great revolution suddenly occurred at this little
quiet watering-place, for it was fixed upon as the summer residence of
the English court. The celebrated name, the distinguished appearance,
and the secluded habits of Lady Annabel and her daughter, had rendered
them the objects of general interest. Occasionally they were met in a
seaside walk by some fellow-wanderer over the sands, or toiler over
the shingles; and romantic reports of the dignity of the mother and
the daughter's beauty were repeated by the fortunate observers to the
lounging circle of the public library or the baths.

The moment that Lady Annabel was assured that the royal family had
positively fixed upon Weymouth for their residence, and were even
daily expected, she resolved instantly to retire. Her stern sense of
duty assured her that it was neither delicate nor loyal to obtrude
before the presence of an outraged monarch the wife and daughter of a
traitor; her haughty, though wounded, spirit shrank from the revival
of her husband's history, which must be the consequence of such a
conjunction, and from the startling and painful remarks which might
reach the shrouded ear of her daughter. With her characteristic
decision, and with her usual stern volition, Lady Annabel quitted
Weymouth instantly, but she was in some degree consoled for the regret
and apprehensiveness which she felt at thus leaving a place that had
otherwise so happily fulfilled all her hopes and wishes, and that
seemed to agree so entirely with Venetia, by finding unexpectedly
a marine villa, some few miles further up the coast, which was
untenanted, and which offered to Lady Annabel all the accommodation
she could desire.

It so happened this summer that Dr. Masham paid the Herberts a visit,
and it was his habit occasionally to ride into Weymouth to read the
newspaper, or pass an hour in that easy lounging chat, which is,
perhaps, one of the principal diversions of a watering-place. A great
dignitary of the church, who was about the King, and to whom Dr.
Masham was known not merely by reputation, mentioned his presence to
his Majesty; and the King, who was fond of the society of eminent
divines, desired that Dr. Masham should be presented to him. Now, so
favourable was the impression that the rector of Marringhurst made
upon his sovereign, that from that moment the King was scarcely ever
content unless he was in attendance. His Majesty, who was happy in
asking questions, and much too acute to be baffled when he sought
information, finally elicited from the Doctor all that, in order to
please Lady Annabel, he long struggled to conceal; but when the King
found that the deserted wife and daughter of Herbert were really
living in the neighbourhood, and that they had quitted Weymouth on his
arrival, from a feeling of delicate loyalty, nothing would satisfy the
kind-hearted monarch but personally assuring them of the interest he
took in their welfare; and accordingly, the next day, without giving
Lady Annabel even the preparation of a notice, his Majesty and his
royal consort, attended only by a lord in waiting, called at the
marine villa, and fairly introduced themselves.

An acquaintance, occasioned by a sentiment of generous and
condescending sympathy, was established and strengthened into
intimacy, by the personal qualities of those thus delicately honoured.
The King and Queen were equally delighted with the wife and daughter
of the terrible rebel; and although, of course, not an allusion was
made to his existence, Lady Annabel felt not the less acutely the
cause to which she was indebted for a notice so gratifying, but
which she afterwards ensured by her own merits. How strange are the
accidents of life! Venetia Herbert, who had been bred up in unbroken
solitude, and whose converse had been confined to two or three beings,
suddenly found herself the guest of a king, and the visitor to a
court! She stepped at once from solitude into the most august circle
of society; yet, though she had enjoyed none of that initiatory
experience which is usually held so indispensable to the votaries
of fashion, her happy nature qualified her to play her part without
effort and with success. Serene and graceful, she mingled in the
strange and novel scene, as if it had been for ever her lot to dazzle
and to charm. Ere the royal family returned to London, they extracted
from Lady Annabel a compliance with their earnest wishes, that
she should fix her residence, during the ensuing season, in the
metropolis, and that she should herself present Venetia at St.
James's. The wishes of kings are commands; and Lady Annabel, who thus
unexpectedly perceived some of the most painful anticipations of her
solitude at once dissipated, and that her child, instead of being
subjected on her entrance into life to all the mortifications she had
imagined, would, on the contrary, find her first introduction under
auspices the most flattering and advantageous, bowed a dutiful assent
to the condescending injunctions.

Such were the memorable consequences of this visit to Weymouth! The
return of Lady Annabel to the world, and her intended residence in the
metropolis, while the good Masham preceded their arrival to receive a
mitre. Strange events, and yet not improbable!

In the meantime Lord Cadurcis had repaired to the university, where
his rank and his eccentric qualities quickly gathered round him a
choice circle of intimates, chiefly culled from his old schoolfellows.
Of these the great majority were his seniors, for whose society
the maturity of his mind qualified him. It so happened that these
companions were in general influenced by those liberal opinions which
had become in vogue during the American war, and from which Lord
Cadurcis had hitherto been preserved by the society in which he
had previously mingled in the house of his guardian. With the
characteristic caprice and impetuosity of youth, Cadurcis rapidly
and ardently imbibed all these doctrines, captivated alike by their
boldness and their novelty. Hitherto the child of prejudice, he
flattered himself that he was now the creature of reason, and,
determined to take nothing for granted, he soon learned to question
everything that was received. A friend introduced him to the writings
of Herbert, that very Herbert whom he had been taught to look upon
with so much terror and odium. Their perusal operated a complete
revolution of his mind; and, in little more than a year from his
flight from Cherbury, he had become an enthusiastic votary of the
great master, for his violent abuse of whom he had been banished from
those happy bowers. The courage, the boldness, the eloquence, the
imagination, the strange and romantic career of Herbert, carried the
spirit of Cadurcis captive. The sympathetic companions studied his
works and smiled with scorn at the prejudice of which their great
model had been the victim, and of which they had been so long the
dupes. As for Cadurcis, he resolved to emulate him, and he commenced
his noble rivalship by a systematic neglect of all the duties and
the studies of his college life. His irregular habits procured him
constant reprimands in which he gloried; he revenged himself on the
authorities by writing epigrams, and by keeping a bear, which he
declared should stand for a fellowship. At length, having wilfully
outraged the most important regulations, he was expelled; and he
made his expulsion the subject of a satire equally personal and
philosophic, and which obtained applause for the great talent which it
displayed, even from those who lamented its want of judgment and the
misconduct of its writer. Flushed with success, Cadurcis at length
found, to his astonishment, that Nature had intended him for a poet.
He repaired to London, where he was received with open arms by the
Whigs, whose party he immediately embraced, and where he published a
poem, in which he painted his own character as the hero, and of which,
in spite of all the exaggeration and extravagance of youth, the genius
was undeniable. Society sympathised with a young and a noble poet;
his poem was read by all parties with enthusiasm; Cadurcis became the
fashion. To use his own expression, 'One morning he awoke, and found
himself famous.' Young, singularly handsome, with every gift of nature
and fortune, and with an inordinate vanity that raged in his soul,
Cadurcis soon forgot the high philosophy that had for a moment
attracted him, and delivered himself up to the absorbing egotism which
had ever been latent in his passionate and ambitious mind. Gifted with
energies that few have ever equalled, and fooled to the bent by the
excited sympathies of society, he poured forth his creative and daring
spirit with a license that conquered all obstacles, from the very
audacity with which he assailed them. In a word, the young, the
reserved, and unknown Cadurcis, who, but three years back, was to have
lived in the domestic solitude for which he alone felt himself fitted,
filled every heart and glittered in every eye. The men envied, the
women loved, all admired him. His life was a perpetual triumph; a
brilliant and applauding stage, on which he ever played a dazzling and
heroic part. So sudden and so startling had been his apparition, so
vigorous and unceasing the efforts by which he had maintained his
first overwhelming impression, and not merely by his writings, but by
his unusual manners and eccentric life, that no one had yet found time
to draw his breath, to observe, to inquire, and to criticise. He had
risen, and still flamed, like a comet as wild as it was beautiful, and
strange is it was brilliant.



CHAPTER IV.


We must now return to the dinner party at Lord Monteagle's. When the
Bishop of ---- entered the room, he found nearly all the expected
guests assembled, and was immediately presented by his host to the
lady of the house, who received him with all that fascinating address
for which she was celebrated, expressing the extreme delight which she
felt at thus becoming formally acquainted with one whom her husband
had long taught her to admire and reverence. Utterly unconscious who
had just joined the circle, while Lord Monteagle was introducing his
newly-arrived guest to many present, and to all of whom he was unknown
except by reputation, Lord Cadurcis was standing apart, apparently
wrapt in his own thoughts; but the truth is, in spite of all the
excitement in which he lived, he had difficulty in overcoming the
natural reserve of his disposition.

'Watch Cadurcis,' said Mr. Horace Pole to a fine lady. 'Does not he
look sublime?'

'Show me him,' said the lady, eagerly. 'I have never seen him yet; I
am actually dying to know him. You know we have just come to town.'

'And have caught the raging epidemic, I see,' said Mr. Pole, with a
sneer. 'However, there is the marvellous young gentleman! "Alone in a
crowd," as he says in his last poem. Very interesting!'

'Wonderful creature!' exclaimed the dame.

'Charming!' said Mr. Pole. 'If you ask Lady Monteagle, she will
introduce him to you, and then, perhaps, you will be fortunate enough
to be handed to dinner by him.'

'Oh! how I should like it!'

'You must take care, however, not to eat; he cannot endure a woman who
eats.'

'I never do,' said the lady, simply; 'at least at dinner.'

'Ah! then you will quite suit him; I dare say he will write a sonnet
to you, and call you Thyrza.'

'I wish I could get him to write some lines in my book, said the lady;
'Charles Fox has written some; he was staying with us in the autumn,
and he has written an ode to my little dog.'

'How amiable!' said Mr. Pole; 'I dare say they are as good as his
elegy on Mrs. Crewe's cat. But you must not talk of cats and dogs to
Cadurcis. He is too exalted to commemorate any animal less sublime
than a tiger or a barb.'

'You forget his beautiful lines on his Newfoundland,' said the lady.

'Very complimentary to us all,' said Mr. Horace Pole. 'The interesting
misanthrope!'

'He looks unhappy.'

'Very,' said Mr. Pole. 'Evidently something on his conscience.'

'They do whisper very odd things,' said the lady, with great
curiosity. 'Do you think there is anything in them?'

'Oh! no doubt,' said Mr. Pole; 'look at him; you can detect crime in
every glance.'

'Dear me, how shocking! I think he must be the most interesting person
that ever lived. I should so like to know him! They say he is so very
odd.'

'Very,' said Mr. Pole. 'He must be a man of genius; he is so unlike
everybody; the very tie of his cravat proves it. And his hair, so
savage and dishevelled; none but a man of genius would not wear
powder. Watch him to-day, and you will observe that he will not
condescend to perform the slightest act like an ordinary mortal. I
met him at dinner yesterday at Fanshawe's, and he touched nothing but
biscuits and soda-water. Fanshawe, you know, is famous for his cook.
Complimentary and gratifying, was it not?'

'Dear me!' said the lady, 'I am delighted to see him; and yet I hope I
shall not sit by him at dinner. I am quite afraid of him.'

'He is really awful!' said Mr. Pole.

In the meantime the subject of these observations slowly withdrew to
the further end of the saloon, apart from every one, and threw himself
upon a couch with a somewhat discontented air. Lady Monteagle, whose
eye had never left him for a moment, although her attentions had been
necessarily commanded by her guests, and who dreaded the silent rages
in which Cadurcis constantly indulged, and which, when once assumed
for the day, were with difficulty dissipated, seized the first
opportunity to join and soothe him.

'Dear Cadurcis,' she said, 'why do you sit here? You know I am obliged
to speak to all these odious people, and it is very cruel of you.'

'You seemed to me to be extremely happy,' replied his lordship, in a
sarcastic tone.

'Now, Cadurcis, for Heaven's sake do not play with my feelings,'
exclaimed Lady Monteagle, in a deprecating tone. 'Pray be amiable. If
I think you are in one of your dark humours, it is quite impossible
for me to attend to these people; and you know it is the only point on
which Monteagle ever has an opinion; he insists upon my attending to
his guests.'

'If you prefer his guests to me, attend to them.'

'Now, Cadurcis! I ask you as a favour, a favour to me, only for
to-day. Be kind, be amiable, you can if you like; no person can be
more amiable; now, do!'

'I am amiable,' said his lordship; 'I am perfectly satisfied, if you
are. You made me dine here.'

'Now, Cadurcis!'

'Have I not dined here to satisfy you?'

'Yes! It was very kind.'

'But, really, that I should be wearied with all the common-places of
these creatures who come to eat your husband's cutlets, is too much,'
said his lordship. 'And you, Gertrude, what necessity can there be in
your troubling yourself to amuse people whom you meet every day of
your life, and who, from the vulgar perversity of society, value you
in exact proportion as you neglect them?'

'Yes, but to-day I must be attentive; for Henry, with his usual
thoughtlessness, has asked this new bishop to dine with us.'

'The Bishop of----?' inquired Lord Cadurcis, eagerly. 'Is he coming?'

'He has been in the room this quarter of an hour?'

'What, Masham! Doctor Masham!' continued Lord Cadurcis.

'Assuredly.'

Lord Cadurcis changed colour, and even sighed. He rose rather quickly,
and said, 'I must go and speak to him.'

So, quitting Lady Monteagle, he crossed the room, and with all the
simplicity of old days, which instantly returned on him, those
melancholy eyes sparkling with animation, and that languid form quick
with excitement, he caught the Doctor's glance, and shook his extended
hand with a heartiness which astonished the surrounding spectators,
accustomed to the elaborate listlessness of his usual manner.

'My dear Doctor! my dear Lord! I am glad to say,' said Cadurcis, 'this
is the greatest and the most unexpected pleasure I ever received. Of
all persons in the world, you are the one whom I was most anxious to
meet.'

The good Bishop appeared not less gratified with the rencounter than
Cadurcis himself; but, in the midst of their mutual congratulations,
dinner was announced and served; and, in due order, Lord Cadurcis
found himself attending that fine lady, whom Mr. Horace Pole had, in
jest, suggested should be the object of his services; while Mr. Pole
himself was seated opposite to him at table.

The lady, remembering all Mr. Pole's intimations, was really
much frightened; she at first could scarcely reply to the casual
observations of her neighbour, and quite resolved not to eat anything.
But his lively and voluble conversation, his perfectly unaffected
manner, and the nonchalance with which he helped himself to every dish
that was offered him, soon reassured her. Her voice became a little
firmer, her manner less embarrassed, and she even began meditating a
delicate assault upon a fricassee.

'Are you going to Ranelagh to-night?' inquired Lord Cadurcis; 'I think
I shall take a round. There is nothing like amusement; it is the only
thing worth living for; and I thank my destiny I am easily amused. We
must persuade Lady Monteagle to go with us. Let us make a party, and
return and sup. I like a supper; nothing in the world more charming
than a supper,

  A lobster salad, and champagne and chat.

That is life, and delightful. Why, really, my dear madam, you eat
nothing. You will never be able to endure the fatigues of a Ranelagh
campaign on the sustenance of a pâté. Pole, my good fellow, will you
take a glass of wine? We had a pleasant party yesterday at Fanshawe's,
and apparently a capital dinner. I was sorry that I could not play my
part; but I have led rather a raking life lately. We must go and dine
with him again.'

Lord Cadurcis' neighbour and Mr. Pole exchanged looks; and the lady,
emboldened by the unexpected conduct of her cavalier and the exceeding
good friends which he seemed resolved to be with her and every
one else, began to flatter herself that she might yet obtain the
much-desired inscription in her volume. So, after making the usual
approaches, of having a great favour to request, which, however, she
could not flatter herself would be granted, and which she even was
afraid to mention; encouraged by the ready declaration of Lord
Cadurcis, that he should think it would be quite impossible for any
one to deny her anything, the lady ventured to state, that Mr. Fox had
written something in her book, and she should be the most honoured and
happiest lady in the land if--'

'Oh! I shall be most happy,' said Lord Cadurcis; 'I really esteem your
request quite an honour: you know I am only a literary amateur, and
cannot pretend to vie with your real authors. If you want them, you
must go to Mrs. Montagu. I would not write a line for her, and no the
blues have quite excommunicated me. Never mind; I leave them to Miss
Hannah More; but you, you are quite a different sort of person. What
shall I write?'

'I must leave the subject to you,' said his gratified friend.

'Well, then,' said his lordship, 'I dare say you have got a lapdog or
a broken fan; I don't think I could soar above them. I think that is
about my tether.'

This lady, though a great person, was not a beauty, and very little
of a wit, and not calculated in any respect to excite the jealousy of
Lady Monteagle. In the meantime that lady was quite delighted with the
unusual animation of Lord Cadurcis, who was much the most entertaining
member of the party. Every one present would circulate throughout
the world that it was only at the Monteagle's that Lord Cadurcis
condescended to be amusing. As the Bishop was seated on her right
hand, Lady Monteagle seized the opportunity of making inquiries as to
their acquaintance; but she only obtained from the good Masham that he
had once resided in his lordship's neighbourhood, and had known him as
a child, and was greatly attached to him. Her ladyship was anxious to
obtain some juvenile anecdotes of her hero; but the Bishop contrived
to be amusing without degenerating into gossip. She did not glean
much, except that all his early friends were more astonished at his
present career than the Bishop himself, who was about to add, that
he always had some misgivings, but, recollecting where he was, he
converted the word into a more gracious term. But if Lady Monteagle
were not so successful as she could wish in her inquiries, she
contrived still to speak on the, to her, ever-interesting subject, and
consoled herself by the communications which she poured into a guarded
yet not unwilling ear, respecting the present life and conduct of
the Bishop's former pupil. The worthy dignitary had been prepared by
public fame for much that was dazzling and eccentric; but it must be
confessed he was not a little astonished by a great deal to which he
listened. One thing, however, was clear that whatever might be the
demeanour of Cadurcis to the circle in which he now moved, time, and
the strange revolutions of his life, had not affected his carriage
to his old friend. It gratified the Bishop while he listened to Lady
Monteagle's details of the haughty, reserved, and melancholy demeanour
of Cadurcis, which impressed every one with an idea that some superior
being had, as a punishment, been obliged to visit their humble globe,
to recall the apparently heartfelt cordiality with which he had
resumed his old acquaintance with the former rector of Marringhurst.

And indeed, to speak truth, the amiable and unpretending behaviour of
Cadurcis this day was entirely attributable to the unexpected meeting
with this old friend. In the hurry of society he could scarcely dwell
upon the associations which it was calculated to call up; yet
more than once he found himself quite absent, dwelling on sweet
recollections of that Cherbury that he had so loved. And ever and anon
the tones of a familiar voice caught his ear, so that they almost made
him start: they were not the less striking, because, as Masham was
seated on the same side of the table as Cadurcis, his eye had not
become habituated to the Bishop's presence, which sometimes he almost
doubted.

He seized the first opportunity after dinner of engaging his old tutor
in conversation. He took him affectionately by the arm, and led him,
as if unintentionally, to a sofa apart from the rest of the company,
and seated himself by his side. Cadurcis was agitated, for he was
about to inquire of some whom he could not mention without emotion.

'Is it long since you have seen our friends?' said his lordship, 'if
indeed I may call them mine.'

'Lady Annabel Herbert?' said the Bishop.

Cadurcis bowed.

'I parted from her about two months back,' continued the Bishop.

'And Cherbury, dear Cherbury, is it unchanged?'

'They have not resided there for more than two years.'

'Indeed!'

'They have lived, of late, at Weymouth, for the benefit of the sea
air.'

'I hope neither Lady Annabel nor her daughter needs it?' said Lord
Cadurcis, in a tone of much feeling.

'Neither now, God be praised!' replied Masham; 'but Miss Herbert has
been a great invalid.'

There was a rather awkward silence. At length Lord Cadurcis said, 'We
meet rather unexpectedly, my dear sir.'

'Why, you have become a great man,' said the Bishop, with a smile;
'and one must expect to meet you.'

'Ah! my dear friend,' exclaimed Lord Cadurcis, with a sigh, 'I would
willingly give a whole existence of a life like this for one year of
happiness at Cherbury.'

'Nay!' said the Bishop, with a look of good-natured mockery, 'this
melancholy is all very well in poetry; but I always half-suspected,
and I am quite sure now, that Cherbury was not particularly adapted to
you.'

'You mistake me,' said Cadurcis, mournfully shaking his head.

'Hitherto I have not been so very wrong in my judgment respecting
Lord Cadurcis, that I am inclined very easily to give up my opinion,'
replied the Bishop.

'I have often thought of the conversation to which you allude,'
replied Lord Cadurcis; 'nevertheless, there is one opinion I never
changed, one sentiment that still reigns paramount in my heart.'

'You think so,' said his companion; but, perhaps, were it more than a
sentiment, it would cease to flourish.'

'No,' said Lord Cadurcis firmly; 'the only circumstance in the world
of which I venture to feel certain is my love for Venetia.'

'It raged certainly during your last visit to Cherbury,' said the
Bishop, 'after an interval of five years; it has been revived slightly
to-day, after an interval of three more, by the sight of a mutual
acquaintance, who has reminded you of her. But what have been your
feelings in the meantime? Confess the truth, and admit you have very
rarely spared a thought to the person to whom you fancy yourself at
this moment so passionately devoted.'

'You do not do me justice,' said Lord Cadurcis; 'you are prejudiced
against me.'

'Nay! prejudice is not my humour, my good lord. I decide only from
what I myself observe; I give my opinion to you at this moment as
freely as I did when you last conversed with me at the abbey, and when
I a little displeased you by speaking what you will acknowledge has
since turned out to be the truth.'

'You mean, then, to say,' said his lordship, with some excitement,
'that you do not believe that I love Venetia?'

'I think you do, at this moment,' replied Masham; 'and I think,' he
continued, smiling, 'that you may probably continue very much in love
with her, even during the rest of the week.'

'You mock me!'

'Nay! I am sincerely serious.'

'What, then, do you mean?'

'I mean that your imagination, my lord, dwelling for the moment with
great power upon the idea of Venetia, becomes inflamed, and your whole
mind is filled with her image.'

'A metaphysical description of being in love,' said Lord Cadurcis,
rather dryly.

'Nay!' said Masham, 'I think the heart has something to do with that.'

'But the imagination acts upon the heart,' rejoined his companion.

'But it is in the nature of its influence not to endure. At this
moment, I repeat, your lordship may perhaps love Miss Herbert; you
may go home and muse over her memory, and even deplore in passionate
verses your misery in being separated from her; but, in the course of
a few days, she will be again forgotten.'

'But were she mine?' urged Lord Cadurcis, eagerly.

'Why, you would probably part from her in a year, as her father parted
from Lady Annabel.'

'Impossible! for my imagination could not conceive anything more
exquisite than she is.'

'Then it would conceive something less exquisite,' said the Bishop.
'It is a restless quality, and is ever creative, either of good or of
evil.'

'Ah! my dear Doctor, excuse me for again calling you Doctor, it is so
natural,' said Cadurcis, in a tone of affection.

'Call me what you will, my dear lord,' said the good Bishop, whose
heart was moved; 'I can never forget old days.'

'Believe me, then,' continued Cadurcis, 'that you misjudge me in
respect of Venetia. I feel assured that, had we married three years
ago, I should have been a much happier man.'

'Why, you have everything to make you happy,' said the Bishop; 'if you
are not happy, who should be? You are young, and you are famous: all
that is now wanted is to be wise.'

Lord Cadurcis shrugged his shoulders. I am tired of this life,' he
said; 'I am wearied of the same hollow bustle, and the same false
glitter day after day. Ah! my dear friend, when I remember the happy
hours when I used to roam through the woods of Cherbury with Venetia,
and ramble in that delicious park, both young, both innocent, lit by
the sunset and guided by the stars; and then remember that it has all
ended in this, and that this is success, glory, fame, or whatever be
the proper title to baptize the bubble, the burthen of existence is
too great for me.'

'Hush, hush!' said his friend, rising from the sofa; 'you will be
happy if you be wise.'

'But what is wisdom?' said Lord Cadurcis.

'One quality of it, in your situation, my lord, is to keep your head
as calm as you can. Now, I must bid you good night.'

The Bishop disappeared, and Lord Cadurcis was immediately surrounded
by several fine ladies, who were encouraged by the flattering bulletin
that his neighbour at dinner, who was among them, had given of his
lordship's temper. They were rather disappointed to find him sullen,
sarcastic, and even morose. As for going to Ranelagh, he declared
that, if he had the power of awarding the punishment of his bitterest
enemy, it would be to consign him for an hour to the barbarous
infliction of a promenade in that temple of ennui; and as for the
owner of the album, who, anxious about her verses, ventured to express
a hope that his lordship would call upon her, the contemptuous bard
gave her what he was in the habit of styling 'a look,' and quitted
the room, without deigning otherwise to acknowledge her hopes and her
courtesy.



CHAPTER V.


We must now return to our friends the Herberts, who, having quitted
Weymouth, without even revisiting Cherbury, are now on their journey
to the metropolis. It was not without considerable emotion that Lady
Annabel, after an absence of nearly nineteen years, contemplated her
return to the scene of some of the most extraordinary and painful
occurrences of her life. As for Venetia, who knew nothing of towns and
cities, save from the hasty observations she had made in travelling,
the idea of London, formed only from books and her imagination, was
invested with even awful attributes. Mistress Pauncefort alone
looked forward to their future residence simply with feelings of
self-congratulation at her return, after so long an interval, to the
theatre of former triumphs and pleasures, and where she conceived
herself so eminently qualified to shine and to enjoy.

The travellers entered town towards nightfall, by Hyde Park Corner,
and proceeded to an hotel in St. James's Street, where Lady Annabel's
man of business had engaged them apartments. London, with its pallid
parish lamps, scattered at long intervals, would have presented but a
gloomy appearance to the modern eye, habituated to all the splendour
of gas; but to Venetia it seemed difficult to conceive a scene of more
brilliant bustle; and she leant back in the carriage, distracted with
the lights and the confusion of the crowded streets. When they were
once safely lodged in their new residence, the tumult of unpacking the
carriages had subsided, and the ceaseless tongue of Pauncefort had
in some degree refrained from its wearying and worrying chatter,
a feeling of loneliness, after all this agitation and excitement,
simultaneously came over the feelings of both mother and daughter,
though they alike repressed its expression. Lady Annabel was lost
in many sad thoughts, and Venetia felt mournful, though she could
scarcely define the cause. Both were silent, and they soon sought
refuge from fatigue and melancholy in sleep.

The next morning, it being now April, was fortunately bright and
clear. It certainly was a happy fortune that the fair Venetia was not
greeted with a fog. She rose refreshed and cheerful, and joined her
mother, who was, however, not a little agitated by an impending visit,
of which Venetia had been long apprised. This was from Lady Annabel's
brother, the former ambassador, who had of late returned to his native
country. The brother and sister had been warmly attached in youth, but
the awful interval of time that had elapsed since they parted, filled
Venetia's mother with many sad and serious reflections. The Earl and
his family had been duly informed of Lady Annabel's visit to the
metropolis, and had hastened to offer her the hospitality of their
home; but the offer had been declined, with feelings, however, not a
little gratified by the earnestness with which it had been proffered.

Venetia was now, for the first time in her life, to see a relative.
The anticipated meeting excited in her mind rather curiosity than
sentiment. She could not share the agitation of her mother, and
yet she looked forward to the arrival of her uncle with extreme
inquisitiveness. She was not long kept in suspense. Their breakfast
was scarcely finished, when he was announced. Lady Annabel turned
rather pale; and Venetia, who felt herself as it were a stranger to
her blood, would have retired, had not her mother requested her to
remain; so she only withdrew to the back of the apartment.

Her uncle was ten years the senior of his sister, but not unlike her.
Tall, graceful, with those bland and sympathising manners that easily
win hearts, he entered the room with a smile of affection, yet with a
composure of deportment that expressed at the same time how sincerely
delighted he was at the meeting, and how considerately determined, at
the same time, not to indulge in a scene. He embraced his sister with
tenderness, assured her that she looked as young as ever, softly
chided her for not making his house her home, and hoped that they
should never part again; and he then turned to his niece. A fine
observer, one less interested in the scene than the only witnesses,
might have detected in the Earl, notwithstanding his experienced
breeding, no ordinary surprise and gratification at the sight of the
individual whose relationship he was now to claim for the first time.

'I must claim an uncle's privilege,' he said, in a tone of sweetness
and some emotion, as he pressed with his own the beautiful lips of
Venetia. 'I ought to be proud of my niece. Why, Annabel! if only for
the honour of our family, you should not have kept this jewel so long
enshrined in the casket of Cherbury.'

The Earl remained with them some hours, and his visit was really
prolonged by the unexpected pleasure which he found in the society of
his relations. He would not leave them until they promised to dine
with him that day, and mentioned that he had prevented his wife from
calling with him that morning, because he thought, after so long a
separation, it might be better to meet thus quietly. Then they parted
with affectionate cordiality on both sides; the Earl enchanted to find
delightful companions where he was half afraid he might only meet
tiresome relatives; Lady Annabel proud of her brother, and gratified
by his kindness; and Venetia anxious to ascertain whether all her
relations were as charming as her uncle.



CHAPTER VI.


When Lady Annabel and her daughter returned from their morning drive,
they found the visiting ticket of the Countess on the table, who had
also left a note, with which she had provided herself in case she was
not so fortunate as to meet her relations. The note was affectionate,
and expressed the great delight of the writer at again meeting her
dear sister, and forming an acquaintance with her charming niece.

'More relations!' said Venetia, with a somewhat droll expression of
countenance.

At this moment the Bishop of----, who had already called twice upon
them unsuccessfully, entered the room. The sight of this old and dear
friend gave great joy. He came to engage them to dine with him the
next day, having already ineffectually endeavoured to obtain them for
permanent guests. They sat chatting so long with him, that they were
obliged at last to bid him an abrupt adieu, and hasten and make their
toilettes for their dinner.

Their hostess received her relations with a warmth which her husband's
praises of her sister-in-law and niece had originally prompted, but
which their appearance and manners instantly confirmed. As all the
Earl's children were married, their party consisted to-day only of
themselves; but it was a happy and agreeable meeting, for every
one was desirous of being amiable. To be sure they had not many
recollections or associations in common, and no one recurred to the
past; but London, and the history of its fleeting hours, was an
inexhaustible source of amusing conversation; and the Countess seemed
resolved that Venetia should have a brilliant season; that she should
be much amused and much admired. Lady Annabel, however, put in a plea
for moderation, at least until Venetia was presented; but that the
Countess declared must be at the next drawing-room, which was early in
the ensuing week. Venetia listened to glittering narratives of balls
and routs, operas and theatres, breakfasts and masquerades, Ranelagh
and the Pantheon, with the same smiling composure as if she had been
accustomed to them all her life, instead of having been shut up in
a garden, with no livelier or brighter companions than birds and
flowers.

After dinner, as her aunt and uncle and Lady Annabel sat round the
fire, talking of her maternal grandfather, a subject which did not at
all interest her, Venetia stole from her chair to a table in a distant
part of the room, and turned over some books and music that were lying
upon it. Among these was a literary journal, which she touched almost
by accident, and which opened, with the name of Lord Cadurcis on the
top of its page. This, of course, instantly attracted her attention.
Her eye passed hastily over some sentences which greatly astonished
her, and, extending her arm for a chair without quitting the book,
she was soon deeply absorbed by the marvels which rapidly unfolded
themselves to her. The article in question was an elaborate criticism
as well of the career as the works of the noble poet; for, indeed, as
Venetia now learnt, they were inseparably blended. She gathered from
these pages a faint and hasty yet not altogether unfaithful conception
of the strange revolution that had occurred in the character,
pursuits, and position of her former companion. In that mighty
metropolis, whose wealth and luxury and power had that morning so
vividly impressed themselves upon her consciousness, and to the
history of whose pleasures and brilliant and fantastic dissipation she
had recently been listening with a lively and diverted ear, it seemed
that, by some rapid and magical vicissitude, her little Plantagenet,
the faithful and affectionate companion of her childhood, whose
sorrows she had so often soothed, and who in her pure and devoted love
had always found consolation and happiness, had become 'the observed
of all observers;' the most remarkable where all was striking, and
dazzling where all were brilliant!

His last visit to Cherbury, and its strange consequences, then
occurred to her; his passionate addresses, and their bitter parting.
Here was surely matter enough for a maiden's reverie, and into a
reverie Venetia certainly fell, from which she was roused by the voice
of her uncle, who could not conceive what book his charming niece
could find so interesting, and led her to feel what an ill compliment
she was paying to all present. Venetia hastily closed the volume, and
rose rather confused from her seat; her radiant smile was the
best apology to her uncle: and she compensated for her previous
inattention, by playing to him on the harpsichord. All the time,
however, the image of Cadurcis flitted across her vision, and she
was glad when her mother moved to retire, that she might enjoy the
opportunity of pondering in silence and unobserved over the strange
history that she had read.

London is a wonderful place! Four-and-twenty hours back, with a
feeling of loneliness and depression amounting to pain, Venetia had
fled to sleep as her only refuge; now only a day had passed, and
she had both seen and heard many things that had alike startled and
pleased her; had found powerful and charming friends; and laid her
head upon her pillow in a tumult of emotion that long banished slumber
from her beautiful eyes.



CHAPTER VII.


Venetia soon found that she must bid adieu for ever, in London, to her
old habits of solitude. She soon discovered that she was never to be
alone. Her aunt called upon them early in the morning, and said that
the whole day must be devoted to their court dresses; and in a few
minutes they were all whirled off to a celebrated milliner's. After
innumerable consultations and experiments, the dress of Venetia was
decided on; her aunt and Lady Annabel were both assured that it would
exceed in splendour and propriety any dress at the drawing-room.
Indeed, as the great artist added, with such a model to work from
it would reflect but little credit on the establishment, if any
approached Miss Herbert in the effect she must inevitably produce.

While her mother was undergoing some of those attentions to which
Venetia had recently submitted, and had retired for a few minutes into
an adjoining apartment, our little lady of Cherbury strolled about the
saloon in which she had been left, until her attention was attracted
by a portrait of a young man in an oriental dress, standing very
sublimely amid the ruins of some desert city; a palm tree in the
distance, and by his side a crouching camel, and some recumbent
followers slumbering amid the fallen columns.

'That is Lord Cadurcis, my love,' said her aunt, who at the moment
joined her, 'the famous poet. All the young ladies are in love with
him. I dare say you know his works by heart.'

'No, indeed, aunt,' said Venetia; 'I have never even read them; but I
should like very much.'

'Not read Lord Cadurcis' poems! Oh! we must go and get them directly
for you. Everybody reads them. You will be looked upon quite as a
little barbarian. We will stop the carriage at Stockdale's, and get
them for you.'

At this moment Lady Annabel rejoined them; and, having made all their
arrangements, they re-entered the carriage.

'Stop at Stockdale's,' said her ladyship to the servant; 'I must
get Cadurcis' last poem for Venetia. She will be quite back in her
learning, Annabel.'

'Cadurcis' last poem!' said Lady Annabel; 'do you mean Lord Cadurcis?
Is he a poet?'

'To he sure! Well, you are countrified not to know Lord Cadurcis!'

'I know him very well,' said Lady Annabel, gravely; 'but I did not
know he was a poet.'

The Countess laughed, the carriage stopped, the book was brought; Lady
Annabel looked uneasy, and tried to catch her daughter's countenance,
but, strange to say, for the first time in her life was quite
unsuccessful. The Countess took the book, and immediately gave it
Venetia. 'There, my dear,' said her aunt, 'there never was anything so
charming. I am so provoked that Cadurcis is a Whig.'

'A Whig!' said Lady Annabel; 'he was not a Whig when I knew him.'

'Oh! my dear, I am afraid he is worse than a Whig. He is almost a
rebel! But then he is such a genius! Everything is allowed, you know,
to a genius!' said the thoughtless sister-in-law.

Lady Annabel was silent; but the stillness of her emotion must not be
judged from the stillness of her tongue. Her astonishment at all she
had heard was only equalled by what we may justly term her horror. It
was impossible that she could have listened to any communication at
the same time so astounding, and to her so fearful.

'We knew Lord Cadurcis when he was very young, aunt,' said Venetia, in
a quiet tone. 'He lived near mamma, in the country.'

'Oh! my dear Annabel, if you see him in town bring him to me; he is
the most difficult person in the world to get to one's house, and I
would give anything if he would come and dine with me.'

The Countess at last set her relations down at their hotel. When Lady
Annabel was once more alone with her daughter, she said, 'Venetia,
dearest, give me that book your aunt lent you.'

Venetia immediately handed it to her, but her mother did not open it;
but saying, 'The Bishop dines at four, darling; I think it is time for
us to dress,' Lady Annabel left the room.

To say the truth, Venetia was less surprised than disappointed by this
conduct of her mother's; but she was not apt to murmur, and she tried
to dismiss the subject from her thoughts.

It was with unfeigned delight that the kind-hearted Masham welcomed
under his own roof his two best and dearest friends. He had asked
nobody to meet them; it was settled that they were to be quite alone,
and to talk of nothing but Cherbury and Marringhurst. When they were
seated at table, the Bishop, who had been detained at the House of
Lords, and been rather hurried to be in time to receive his guests,
turned to his servant and inquired whether any one had called.

'Yes, my lord, Lord Cadurcis,' was the reply.

'Our old companion,' said the Bishop to Lady Annabel, with a
smile. 'He has called upon me twice, and I have on both occasions
unfortunately been absent.'

Lady Annabel merely bowed an assent to the Bishop's remark. Venetia
longed to speak, but found it impossible. 'What is it that represses
me?' she asked herself. 'Is there to be another forbidden subject
insensibly to arise between us? I must struggle against this
indefinable despotism that seems to pervade my life.'

'Have you met Lord Cadurcis, sir?' at length asked Venetia.

'Once; we resumed our acquaintance at a dinner party one day; but I
shall soon see a great deal of him, for he has just taken his seat. He
is of age, you know.'

'I hope he has come to years of discretion in every sense,' said Lady
Annabel; 'but I fear not.'

'Oh, my dear lady!' said the Bishop, 'he has become a great man; he is
our star. I assure you there is nobody in London talked of but Lord
Cadurcis. He asked me a great deal after you and Cherbury. He will be
delighted to see you.'

'I cannot say,' replied Lady Annabel, 'that the desire of meeting is
at all mutual. From all I hear, our connections and opinions are very
different, and I dare say our habits likewise.'

'My aunt lent us his new poem to-day,' said Venetia, boldly.

'Have you read it?' asked the Bishop.

'I am no admirer of modern poetry,' said Lady Annabel, somewhat
tartly.

'Poetry of any kind is not much in my way,' said the Bishop, 'but if
you like to read his poems, I will lend them to you, for he gave me a
copy; esteemed a great honour, I assure you.'

'Thank you, my lord,' said Lady Annabel, 'both Venetia and myself
are much engaged now; and I do not wish her to read while she is in
London. When we return to Cherbury she will have abundance of time, if
desirable.'

Both Venetia and her worthy host felt that the present subject of
conversation was not agreeable to Lady Annabel, and it was changed.
They fell upon more gracious topics, and in spite of this somewhat
sullen commencement the meeting was quite as delightful as they
anticipated. Lady Annabel particularly exerted herself to please, and,
as was invariably the case under such circumstances with this lady,
she was eminently successful; she apparently endeavoured, by her
remarkable kindness to her daughter, to atone for any unpleasant
feeling which her previous manner might for an instant have
occasioned. Venetia watched her beautiful and affectionate parent,
as Lady Annabel now dwelt with delight upon the remembrance of their
happy home, and now recurred to the anxiety she naturally felt about
her daughter's approaching presentation, with feelings of love and
admiration, which made her accuse herself for the recent rebellion of
her heart. She thought only of her mother's sorrows, and her devotion
to her child; and, grateful for the unexpected course of circumstances
which seemed to be leading every member of their former little society
to honour and happiness, she resolved to persist in that career of
duty and devotion to her mother, from which it seemed to her she had
never deviated for a moment but to experience sorrow, misfortune, and
remorse. Never did Venetia receive her mother's accustomed embrace
and blessing with more responsive tenderness and gratitude than
this night. She banished Cadurcis and his poems from her thoughts,
confident that, so long as her mother approved neither of her
continuing his acquaintance, nor perusing his writings, it was well
that the one should be a forgotten tie, and the other a sealed book.



CHAPTER VIII.


Among the intimate acquaintances of Lady Annabel's brother was the
nobleman who had been a minister during the American war, and who
had also been the guardian of Lord Cadurcis, of whom, indeed, he was
likewise a distant relative. He had called with his wife on Lady
Annabel, after meeting her and her daughter at her brother's, and had
cultivated her acquaintance with great kindness and assiduity, so
that Lady Annabel had found it impossible to refuse his invitation to
dinner.

This dinner occurred a few days after the visit of the Herberts to the
Bishop, and that excellent personage, her own family, and some others
equally distinguished, but all of the ministerial party, were invited
to meet her. Lady Annabel found herself placed at table between a
pompous courtier, who, being a gourmand, was not very prompt to
disturb his enjoyment by conversation, and a young man whom she found
very agreeable, and who at first, indeed, attracted her attention by
his resemblance to some face with which she felt she was familiar,
and yet which she was not successful in recalling. His manners were
remarkably frank and ingenuous, yet soft and refined. Without having
any peculiar brilliancy of expression, he was apt and fluent, and his
whole demeanour characterised by a gentle modesty that was highly
engaging. Apparently he had travelled a great deal, for he more than
once alluded to his experience of foreign countries; but this was
afterwards explained by Lady Annabel discovering, from an observation
he let fall, that he was a sailor. A passing question from an opposite
guest also told her that he was a member of parliament. While she was
rather anxiously wishing to know who he might be, and congratulating
herself that one in whose favour she was so much prepossessed should
be on the right side, their host saluted him from the top of the
table, and said, 'Captain Cadurcis, a glass of wine.'

The countenance was now explained. It was indeed Lord Cadurcis whom he
resembled, though his eyes were dark blue, and his hair light brown.
This then was that cousin who had been sent to sea to make his
fortune, and whom Lady Annabel had a faint recollection of poor Mrs.
Cadurcis once mentioning. George Cadurcis had not exactly made his
fortune, but he had distinguished himself in his profession, and
especially in Rodney's victory, and had fought his way up to the
command of a frigate. The frigate had recently been paid off, and he
had called to pay his respects to his noble relative with the hope of
obtaining his interest for a new command. The guardian of his
cousin, mortified with the conduct of his hopeful ward, was not very
favourably impressed towards any one who bore the name of Cadurcis;
yet George, with no pretence, had a winning honest manner that made
friends; his lordship took a fancy to him, and, as he could not at the
moment obtain him a ship, he did the next best thing for him in his
power; a borough was vacant, and he put him into parliament.

'Do you know,' said Lady Annabel to her neighbour, 'I have been
fancying all dinner time that we had met before; but I find it is that
you only resemble one with whom I was once acquainted.'

'My cousin!' said the Captain; 'he will be very mortified when I go
home, if I tell him your ladyship speaks of his acquaintance as one
that is past.'

'It is some years since we met,' said Lady Annabel, in a more reserved
tone.

'Plantagenet can never forget what he owes to you,' said Captain
Cadurcis. 'How often has he spoken to me of you and Miss Herbert! It
was only the other night; yes! not a week ago; that he made me sit up
with him all night, while he was telling stories of Cherbury: you see
I am quite familiar with the spot,' he added, smiling.

'You are very intimate with your cousin, I see,' said Lady Annabel.

'I live a great deal with him,' said George Cadurcis. 'You know we had
never met or communicated; and it was not Plantagenet's fault, I am
sure; for of all the generous, amiable, lovable beings, Cadurcis is
the best I ever met with in this world. Ever since we knew each other
he has been a brother to me; and though our politics and opinions are
so opposed, and we naturally live in such a different circle, he would
have insisted even upon my having apartments in his house; nor is it
possible for me to give you the slightest idea of the delicate and
unceasing kindness I experience from him. If we had lived together all
our lives, it would be impossible to be more united.'

This eulogium rather softened Lady Annabel's heart; she even observed,
'I always thought Lord Cadurcis naturally well disposed; I always
hoped he would turn out well; but I was afraid, from what I heard, he
was much changed. He shows, however, his sense and good feeling in
selecting you for his friend; for you are his natural one,' she added,
after a momentary pause.

'And then you know,' he continued, 'it is so purely kind of him; for
of course I am not fit to be a companion for Cadurcis, and perhaps, as
far as that, no one is. Of course we have not a thought in common. I
know nothing but what I have picked up in a rough life; and he, you
know, is the cleverest person that ever lived, at least I think so.'

Lady Annabel smiled.

'Well, he is very young,' she observed, 'much your junior, Captain
Cadurcis; and I hope he will yet prove a faithful steward of the great
gifts that God has given him.'

'I would stake all I hold dear,' said the Captain, with great
animation, 'that Cadurcis turns out well. He has such a good heart.
Ah! Lady Annabel, if he be now and then a little irregular, only think
of the temptations that assail him. Only one-and-twenty, his own
master, and all London at his feet. It is too much for any one's head.
But say or think what the world may, I know him better than they do;
and I know there is not a finer creature in existence. I hope his old
friends will not desert him,' added Captain Cadurcis, with a smile
which, seemed to deprecate the severity of Lady Annabel; 'for in spite
of all his fame and prosperity, perhaps, after all, this is the time
when he most needs them.'

'Very possibly,' said her ladyship rather dryly.

While the mother was engaged in this conversation with her neighbour
respecting her former interesting acquaintance, such was the fame of
Lord Cadurcis then in the metropolis, that he also formed the topic of
conversation at another part of the table, to which the daughter was
an attentive listener. The tone in which he was spoken of, however,
was of a very different character. While no one disputed his genius,
his principles, temper, and habits of life were submitted to the
severest scrutiny; and it was with blended feelings of interest and
astonishment that Venetia listened to the detail of wild opinions,
capricious conduct, and extravagant and eccentric behaviour ascribed
to the companion of her childhood, who had now become the spoiled
child of society. A shrewd gentleman, who had taken an extremely
active part in this discussion, inquired of Venetia, next to whom he
was seated, whether she had read his lordship's last poem. He was
extremely surprised when Venetia answered in the negative; but he
seized the opportunity of giving her an elaborate criticism on the
poetical genius of Cadurcis. 'As for his style,' said the critic, 'no
one can deny that is his own, and he will last by his style; as for
his philosophy, and all these wild opinions of his, they will pass
away, because they are not genuine, they are not his own, they are
borrowed. He will outwrite them; depend upon it, he will. The fact is,
as a friend of mine observed the other day, Herbert's writings have
turned his head. Of course you could know nothing about them, but
there are wonderful things in them, I can tell you that.'

'I believe it most sincerely,' said Venetia.

The critic stared at his neighbour. 'Hush!' said he, 'his wife and
daughter are here. We must not talk of these things. You know Lady
Annabel Herbert? There she is; a very fine woman too. And that is his
daughter there, I believe, that dark girl with a turned-up nose. I
cannot say she warrants the poetical address to her:

  My precious pearl the false and glittering world
  Has ne'er polluted with, its garish light!

She does not look much like a pearl, does she? She should keep in
solitude, eh?'

The ladies rose and relieved Venetia from her embarrassment.

After dinner Lady Annabel introduced George Cadurcis to her daughter;
and, seated by them both, he contrived without effort, and without the
slightest consciousness of success, to confirm the pleasing impression
in his favour which he had already made, and, when they parted, it was
even with a mutual wish that they might meet again.



CHAPTER IX.


It was the night after the drawing-room. Lord Cadurcis was at Brookes'
dining at midnight, having risen since only a few hours. Being a
malcontent, he had ceased to attend the Court, where his original
reception had been most gracious, which he had returned by some
factious votes, and a caustic lampoon.

A party of young men entered, from the Court Ball, which in those days
always terminated at midnight, whence the guests generally proceeded
to Ranelagh; one or two of them seated themselves at the table at
which Cadurcis was sitting. They were full of a new beauty who had
been presented. Their violent and even extravagant encomiums excited
his curiosity. Such a creature had never been seen, she was peerless,
the most radiant of acknowledged charms had been dimmed before her.
Their Majesties had accorded to her the most marked reception. A
Prince of the blood had honoured her with his hand. Then they began to
expatiate with fresh enthusiasm on her unparalleled loveliness.

'O Cadurcis,' said a young noble, who was one of his extreme admirers,
'she is the only creature I ever beheld worthy of being one of your
heroines.'

'Whom are you talking about?' asked Cadurcis in a rather listless
tone.

'The new beauty, of course.'

'And who may she be?'

'Miss Herbert, to be sure. Who speaks or thinks of any one else?'

'What, Ve----, I mean Miss Herbert?' exclaimed Cadurcis, with no
little energy.

'Yes. Do you know her?'

'Do you mean to say--' and Cadurcis stopped and rose from the table,
and joined the party round the fire. 'What Miss Herbert is it?' he
added, after a short pause.

'Why _the_ Miss Herbert; Herbert's daughter, to be sure. She was
presented to-day by her mother.

'Lady Annabel?'

'The same.'

'Presented to-day!' said Cadurcis audibly, yet speaking as it were to
himself. 'Presented to-day! Presented! How strange!'

'So every one thinks; one of the strangest things that ever happened,'
remarked a bystander.

'And I did not even know they were in town,' continued Cadurcis, for,
from his irregular hours, he had not seen his cousin since the party
of yesterday. He began walking up and down the room, muttering,
'Masham, Weymouth, London, presented at Court, and I know nothing. How
life changes! Venetia at Court, my Venetia!' Then turning round and
addressing the young nobleman who had first spoken to him, he asked
'if the ball were over.'

'Yes; all the world are going to Ranelagh. Are you inclined to take a
round?'

'I have a strange fancy,' said Cadurcis, 'and if you will go with me,
I will take you in my vis-à-vis. It is here.'

This was an irresistible invitation, and in a few minutes the
companions were on their way; Cadurcis, apparently with no peculiar
interest in the subject, leading the conversation very artfully to
the presentation of Miss Herbert. His friend was heartily inclined to
gratify his curiosity. He gave him ample details of Miss Herbert's
person: even of her costume, and the sensation both produced; how she
was presented by her mother, who, after so long an estrangement from
the world, scarcely excited less impression, and the remarkable
cordiality with which both mother and daughter were greeted by the
sovereign and his royal consort.

The two young noblemen found Ranelagh crowded, but the presence of
Lord Cadurcis occasioned a sensation the moment he was recognised.
Everywhere the whisper went round, and many parties crowded near to
catch a glimpse of the hero of the day. 'Which is he? That fair,
tall young man? No, the other to be sure. Is it really he? How
distinguished! How melancholy! Quite the poet. Do you think he is
really so unhappy as he looks? I would sooner see him than the King
and Queen. He seems very young, but then he has seen so much of the
world! Fine eyes, beautiful hair! I wonder who is his friend? How
proud he must be! Who is that lady he bowed to? That is the Duke
of ---- speaking to him,' Such were the remarks that might be caught in
the vicinity of Lord Cadurcis as he took his round, gazed at by the
assembled crowd, of whom many knew him only by fame, for the charm of
Ranelagh was that it was rather a popular than a merely fashionable
assembly. Society at large blended with the Court, which maintained
and renewed its influence by being witnessed under the most graceful
auspices. The personal authority of the aristocracy has decreased with
the disappearance of Ranelagh and similar places of amusement, where
rank was not exclusive, and luxury by the gratification it occasioned
others seemed robbed of half its selfism.

In his second round, Lord Cadurcis recognised the approach of the
Herberts. They formed the portion of a large party. Lady Annabel was
leaning on her brother, whom Cadurcis knew by sight; Venetia was at
the side of her aunt, and several gentlemen were hovering about them;
among them, to his surprise, his cousin, George Cadurcis, in his
uniform, for he had been to Court and to the Court Ball. Venetia was
talking with animation. She was in her Court dress and in powder. Her
appearance was strange to him. He could scarcely recognise the
friend of his childhood; but without any doubt in all that assembly,
unrivalled in the whole world for beauty, grace, and splendour, she
was without a parallel; a cynosure on which all eyes were fixed.

So occupied were the ladies of the Herbert party by the conversation
of their numerous and brilliant attendants, that the approach of any
one else but Lord Cadurcis might have been unnoticed by them, but
a hundred tongues before he drew nigh had prepared Venetia for his
appearance. She was indeed most anxious to behold him, and though she
was aware that her heart fluttered not slightly as the moment was at
hand, she commanded her gaze, and her eyes met his, although she was
doubtful whether he might choose or care to recognise her. He bowed
almost to the ground; and when Venetia had raised her responsive head
he had passed by.

'Why, Cadurcis, you know Miss Herbert?' said his friend in a tone of
some astonishment.

'Well; but it is a long time since I have seen her.'

'Is she not beautiful?'

'I never doubted on that subject; I tell you, Scrope, we must contrive
to join her party. I wish we had some of our friends among them. Here
comes the Monteagle; aid me to escape her.'

The most fascinating smile failed in arresting the progress of
Cadurcis; fortunately, the lady was the centre of a brilliant band;
all that he had to do, therefore, was boldly to proceed.

'Do you think my cousin is altered since you knew him?' inquired
George Cadurcis of Venetia.

'I scarcely had time to observe him,' she replied.

'I wish you would let me bring him to you. He did not know until this
moment you were in town. I have not seen him since we met yesterday.'

'Oh, no,' said Venetia. 'Do not disturb him.'

In time, however, Lord Cadurcis was again in sight; and now without
any hesitation he stopped, and falling into the line by Miss Herbert,
he addressed her: 'I am proud of being remembered by Miss Herbert,' he
said.

'I am most happy to meet you,' replied Venetia, with unaffected
sincerity.

'And Lady Annabel, I have not been able to catch her eye: is she quite
well? I was ignorant that you were in London until I heard of your
triumph this night.'

The Countess whispered her niece, and Venetia accordingly presented
Lord Cadurcis to her aunt. This was a most gratifying circumstance to
him. He was anxious, by some means or other, to effect his entrance
into her circle; and he had an irresistible suspicion that Lady
Annabel no longer looked upon him with eyes of favour. So he resolved
to enlist the aunt as his friend. Few persons could be more winning
than Cadurcis, when he willed it; and every attempt to please from one
whom all emulated to gratify and honour, was sure to be successful.
The Countess, who, in spite of politics, was a secret votary of his,
was quite prepared to be enchanted. She congratulated herself
on forming, as she had long wished, an acquaintance with one so
celebrated. She longed to pass Lady Monteagle in triumph. Cadurcis
improved his opportunity to the utmost. It was impossible for any
one to be more engaging; lively, yet at the same time gentle, and
deferential with all his originality. He spoke, indeed, more to the
aunt than to Venetia, but when he addressed the latter, there was
a melting, almost a mournful tenderness in his tones, that alike
affected her heart and charmed her imagination. Nor could she be
insensible to the gratification she experienced as she witnessed,
every instant, the emotion his presence excited among the passers-by,
and of which Cadurcis himself seemed so properly and so utterly
unconscious. And this was Plantagenet!

Lord Cadurcis spoke of his cousin, who, on his joining the party, had
assisted the arrangement by moving to the other side; and he spoke of
him with a regard which pleased Venetia, though Cadurcis envied him
his good fortune in having the advantage of a prior acquaintance
with Miss Herbert in town; 'but then we are old acquaintances in the
country,' he added, half in a playful, half in a melancholy tone, 'are
we not?'

'It is a long time that we have known each other, and it is a long
time since we have met,' replied Venetia.

'A delicate reproach,' said Cadurcis; 'but perhaps rather my
misfortune than my fault. My thoughts have been often, I might say
ever, at Cherbury.'

'And the abbey; have you forgotten the abbey?'

'I have never been near it since a morning you perhaps remember,' said
his lordship in a low voice. 'Ah! Miss Herbert,' he continued, with
a sigh, 'I was young then; I have lived to change many opinions, and
some of which you then disapproved.'

The party stopped at a box just vacant, and in which the ladies seated
themselves while their carriages were inquired for. Lord Cadurcis,
with a rather faltering heart, went up to pay his respects to
Venetia's mother. Lady Annabel received him with a courtesy, that
however was scarcely cordial, but the Countess instantly presented
him to her husband with an unction which a little astonished her
sister-in-law. Then a whisper, but unobserved, passed between the Earl
and his lady, and in a minute Lord Cadurcis had been invited to dine
with them on the next day, and meet his old friends from the country.
Cadurcis was previously engaged, but hesitated not a moment in
accepting the invitation. The Monteagle party now passed by; the
lady looked a little surprised at the company in which she found her
favourite, and not a little mortified by his neglect. What business
had Cadurcis to be speaking to that Miss Herbert? Was it not enough
that the whole day not another name had scarcely crossed her ear, but
the night must even witness the conquest of Lord Cadurcis by the
new beauty? It was such bad ton, it was so unlike him, it was so
underbred, for a person of his position immediately to bow before the
new idol of the hour, and a Tory girl too! It was the last thing
she could have expected from him. She should, on the contrary,
have thought that the universal admiration which this Miss Herbert
commanded, would have been exactly the reason why a man like Cadurcis
would have seemed almost unconscious of her existence. She determined
to remonstrate with him; and she was sure of a speedy opportunity, for
he was to dine with her on the morrow.



CHAPTER X.


Notwithstanding Lady Annabel's reserved demeanour, Lord Cadurcis,
supported by the presence of his cousin, whom he had discovered to be
a favourite of that lady, ventured to call upon her the next day, but
she was out. They were to meet, however, at dinner, where Cadurcis
determined to omit no opportunity to propitiate her. The Countess had
a great deal of tact, and she contrived to make up a party to receive
him, in which there were several of his friends, among them his cousin
and the Bishop of----, and no strangers who were not, like herself,
his great admirers; but if she had known more, she need not have given
herself this trouble, for there was a charm among her guests of which
she was ignorant, and Cadurcis went determined to please and to be
pleased.

At dinner he was seated next to Lady Annabel, and it was impossible
for any person to be more deferential, soft, and insinuating. He spoke
of old days with emotion which he did not attempt to suppress; he
alluded to the present with infinite delicacy. But it was very
difficult to make way. Lady Annabel was courteous, but she was
reserved. His lively reminiscences elicited from her no corresponding
sentiment; and no art would induce her to dwell upon the present. If
she only would have condescended to compliment him, it would have
given him an opportunity of expressing his distaste of the life which
he now led, and a description of the only life which he wished to
lead; but Lady Annabel studiously avoided affording him any opening
of the kind. She treated him like a stranger. She impressed upon him
without effort that she would only consider him an acquaintance. How
Cadurcis, satiated with the incense of the whole world, sighed for one
single congratulation from Lady Annabel! Nothing could move her.

'I was so surprised to meet you last night,' at length he again
observed. 'I have made so many inquiries after you. Our dear friend
the Bishop was, I fear, almost wearied with my inquiries after
Cherbury. I know not how it was, I felt quite a pang when I heard that
you had left it, and that all these years, when I have been conjuring
up so many visions of what was passing under that dear roof, you were
at Weymouth.'

'Yes. We were at Weymouth some time.'

'But do not you long to see Cherbury again? I cannot tell you how
I pant for it. For my part, I have seen the world, and I have seen
enough of it. After all, the end of all our exertions is to be happy
at home; that is the end of everything; don't you think so?'

'A happy home is certainly a great blessing,' replied Lady Annabel;
'and a rare one.'

'But why should it be rare?' inquired Lord Cadurcis.

'It is our own fault,' said Lady Annabel; 'our vanity drives us from
our hearths.'

'But we soon return again, and calm and cooled. For my part, I have no
object in life but to settle down at the old abbey, and never to quit
again our woods. But I shall lead a dull life without my neighbours,'
he added, with a smile, and in a tone half-coaxing.

'I suppose you never see Lord ---- now?' said Lady Annabel, mentioning
his late guardian. There was, as Cadurcis fancied, some sarcasm in the
question, though not in the tone in which it was asked.

'No, I never see him,' his lordship answered firmly; 'we differ in our
opinions, and I differ from him with regret; but I differ from a sense
of duty, and therefore I have no alternative.'

'The claims of duty are of course paramount,' observed Lady Annabel.

'You know my cousin?' said Cadurcis, to turn the conversation.

'Yes, and I like him much; he appears to be a sensible, amiable
person, of excellent principles.'

'I am not bound to admire George's principles,' said Lord
Cadurcis, gaily; 'but I respect them, because I know that they are
conscientious. I love George; he is my only relation, and he is my
friend.'

'I trust he will always be your friend, for I think you will then, at
least, know one person on whom you can depend.'

'I believe it. The friendships of the world are wind.'

'I am surprised to hear you say so,' said Lady Annabel.

'Why, Lady Annabel?'

'You have so many friends.'

Lord Cadurcis smiled. 'I wish,' he said, after a little hesitation,
'if only for "Auld lang syne," I might include Lady Annabel Herbert
among them.'

'I do not think there is any basis for friendship between us, my
lord,' she said, very dryly.

'The past must ever be with me,' said Lord Cadurcis, 'and I should
have thought a sure and solid one.'

'Our opinions on all subjects are so adverse, that I must believe that
there could be no great sympathy in our feelings.'

'My feelings are beyond my control,' he replied; 'they are, and must
ever be, totally independent of my opinions.'

Lady Annabel did not reply. His lordship felt baffled, but he was
resolved to make one more effort.

'Do you know,' he said, 'I can scarcely believe myself in London
to-day? To be sitting next to you, to see Miss Herbert, to hear Dr.
Masham's voice. Oh! does it not recall Cherbury, or Marringhurst, or
that day at Cadurcis, when you were so good as to smile over my rough
repast? Ah! Lady Annabel, those days were happy! those were feelings
that can never die! All the glitter and hubbub of the world can never
make me forget them, can never make you, I hope, Lady Annabel, quite
recall them with an effort. We were friends then: let us be friends
now.'

'I am too old to cultivate new friendships,' said Lady Annabel; 'and
if we are to be friends, Lord Cadurcis, I am sorry to say that, after
the interval that has occurred since we last parted, we should have to
begin again.'

'It is a long time,' said Cadurcis, mournfully, 'a very long time, and
one, in spite of what the world may think, to which I cannot look back
with any self-congratulation. I wished three years ago never to leave
Cadurcis again. Indeed I did; and indeed it was not my fault that I
quitted it.'

'It was no one's fault, I hope. Whatever the cause may have been, I
have ever remained quite ignorant of it. I wished, and wish, to
remain ignorant of it. I, for one, have ever considered it the wise
dispensation of a merciful Providence.'

Cadurcis ground his teeth; a dark look came over him which, when
once it rose on his brow, was with difficulty dispelled; and for the
remainder of the dinner he continued silent and gloomy.

He was, however, not unobserved by Venetia. She had watched his
evident attempts to conciliate her mother with lively interest; she
had witnessed their failure with sincere sorrow. In spite of that
stormy interview, the results of which, in his hasty departure, and
the severance of their acquaintance, she had often regretted, she had
always retained for him the greatest affection. During these three
years he had still, in her inmost heart, remained her own Plantagenet,
her adopted brother, whom she loved, and in whose welfare her feelings
were deeply involved. The mysterious circumstances of her birth, and
the discoveries to which they had led, had filled her mind with a
fanciful picture of human nature, over which she had long brooded. A
great poet had become her ideal of a man. Sometimes she had sighed,
when musing over her father and Plantagenet on the solitary seashore
at Weymouth, that Cadurcis, instead of being the merely amiable, and
somewhat narrow-minded being that she supposed, had not been invested
with those brilliant and commanding qualities which she felt could
alone master her esteem. Often had she, in those abstracted hours,
played with her imagination in combining the genius of her father with
the soft heart of that friend to whom she was so deeply attached. She
had wished, in her reveries, that Cadurcis might have been a great
man; that he might have existed in an atmosphere of glory amid the
plaudits and admiration of his race; and that then he might have
turned from all that fame, so dear to them both, to the heart which
could alone sympathise with the native simplicity of his childhood.

The ladies withdrew. The Bishop and another of the guests joined them
after a short interval. The rest remained below, and drank their wine
with the freedom not unusual in those days, Lord Cadurcis among them,
although it was not his habit. But he was not convivial, though he
never passed the bottle untouched. He was in one of those dark humours
of which there was a latent spring in his nature, but which in old
days had been kept in check by his simple life, his inexperienced
mind, and the general kindness that greeted him, and which nothing but
the caprice and perversity of his mother could occasionally develope.
But since the great revolution in his position, since circumstances
had made him alike acquainted with his nature, and had brought all
society to acknowledge its superiority; since he had gained and felt
his irresistible power, and had found all the world, and all the
glory of it, at his feet, these moods had become more frequent. The
slightest reaction in the self-complacency that was almost unceasingly
stimulated by the applause of applauded men and the love of the
loveliest women, instantly took the shape and found refuge in the
immediate form of the darkest spleen, generally, indeed, brooding in
silence, and, if speaking, expressing itself only in sarcasm. Cadurcis
was indeed, as we have already described him, the spoiled child of
society; a froward and petted darling, not always to be conciliated by
kindness, but furious when neglected or controlled. He was habituated
to triumph; it had been his lot to come, to see, and to conquer; even
the procrastination of certain success was intolerable to him; his
energetic volition could not endure a check. To Lady Annabel Herbert,
indeed, he was not exactly what he was to others; there was a spell
in old associations from which he unconsciously could not emancipate
himself, and from which it was his opinion he honoured her in not
desiring to be free. He had his reasons for wishing to regain his old,
his natural influence, over her heart; he did not doubt for an instant
that, if Cadurcis sued, success must follow the condescending effort.
He had sued, and he had been met with coldness, almost with disdain.
He had addressed her in those terms of tenderness which experience
had led him to believe were irresistible, yet to which he seldom had
recourse, for hitherto he had not been under the degrading necessity
of courting. He had dwelt with fondness on the insignificant past,
because it was connected with her; he had regretted, or affected
even to despise, the glorious present, because it seemed, for some
indefinite cause, to have estranged him from her hearth. Yes! he had
humbled himself before her; he had thrown with disdain at her feet all
that dazzling fame and expanding glory which seemed his peculiar and
increasing privilege. He had delicately conveyed to her that even
these would be sacrificed, not only without a sigh, but with cheerful
delight, to find himself once more living, as of old, in the limited
world of her social affections. Three years ago he had been rejected
by the daughter, because he was an undistinguished youth. Now the
mother recoiled from his fame. And who was this woman? The same cold,
stern heart that had alienated the gifted Herbert; the same narrow,
rigid mind that had repudiated ties that every other woman in the
world would have gloried to cherish and acknowledge. And with her he
had passed his prejudiced youth, and fancied, like an idiot, that he
had found sympathy! Yes, so long as he was a slave, a mechanical,
submissive slave, bowing his mind to all the traditionary bigotry
which she adored, never daring to form an opinion for himself,
worshipping her idol, custom, and labouring by habitual hypocrisy to
perpetuate the delusions of all around her!

In the meantime, while Lord Cadurcis was chewing the cud of these
bitter feelings, we will take the opportunity of explaining the
immediate cause of Lady Annabel's frigid reception of his friendly
advances. All that she had heard of Cadurcis, all the information she
had within these few days so rapidly acquired of his character and
conduct, were indeed not calculated to dispose her to witness the
renewal of their intimacy with feelings of remarkable satisfaction.
But this morning she had read his poem, the poem that all London was
talking of, and she had read it with horror. She looked upon Cadurcis
as a lost man. With her, indeed, since her marriage, an imaginative
mind had become an object of terror; but there were some peculiarities
in the tone of Cadurcis' genius, which magnified to excess her general
apprehension on this head. She traced, in every line, the evidences
of a raging vanity, which she was convinced must prompt its owner
to sacrifice, on all occasions, every feeling of duty to its
gratification. Amid all the fervour of rebellious passions, and the
violence of a wayward mind, a sentiment of profound egotism appeared
to her impressed on every page she perused. Great as might have been
the original errors of Herbert, awful as in her estimation were the
crimes to which they had led him, they might in the first instance be
traced rather to a perverted view of society than of himself. But self
was the idol of Cadurcis; self distorted into a phantom that seemed
to Lady Annabel pregnant not only with terrible crimes, but with the
basest and most humiliating vices. The certain degradation which in
the instance of her husband had been the consequence of a bad system,
would, in her opinion, in the case of Cadurcis, be the result of a
bad nature; and when she called to mind that there had once been a
probability that this individual might have become the husband of her
Venetia, her child whom it had been the sole purpose of her life to
save from the misery of which she herself had been the victim; that
she had even dwelt on the idea with complacency, encouraged its
progress, regretted its abrupt termination, but consoled herself by
the flattering hope that time, with even more favourable auspices,
would mature it into fulfilment; she trembled, and turned pale.

It was to the Bishop that, after dinner, Lady Annabel expressed some
of the feelings which the reappearance of Cadurcis had occasioned her.

'I see nothing but misery for his future,' she exclaimed; 'I tremble
for him when he addresses me. In spite of the glittering surface on
which he now floats, I foresee only a career of violence, degradation,
and remorse.'

'He is a problem difficult to solve,' replied Masham; 'but there are
elements not only in his character, but his career, so different from
those of the person of whom we were speaking, that I am not inclined
at once to admit, that the result must necessarily be the same.'

'I see none,' replied Lady Annabel; 'at least none of sufficient
influence to work any material change.'

'What think you of his success?' replied Masham. 'Cadurcis is
evidently proud of it. With all his affected scorn of the world, he
is the slave of society. He may pique the feelings of mankind, but I
doubt whether he will outrage them.'

'He is on such a dizzy eminence,' replied Lady Annabel, 'that I do not
believe he is capable of calculating so finely. He does not believe, I
am sure, in the possibility of resistance. His vanity will tempt him
onwards.'

'Not to persecution,' said Masham. 'Now, my opinion of Cadurcis is,
that his egotism, or selfism, or whatever you may style it, will
ultimately preserve him from any very fatal, from any irrecoverable
excesses. He is of the world, worldly. All his works, all his conduct,
tend only to astonish mankind. He is not prompted by any visionary
ideas of ameliorating his species. The instinct of self-preservation
will serve him as ballast.'

'We shall see,' said Lady Annabel; 'for myself, whatever may be his
end, I feel assured that great and disgraceful vicissitudes are in
store for him.'

'It is strange after what, in comparison with such extraordinary
changes, must be esteemed so brief an interval,' observed Masham, with
a smile, 'to witness such a revolution in his position. I often think
to myself, can this indeed be our little Plantagenet?'

'It is awful!' said Lady Annabel; 'much more than strange. For myself,
when I recall certain indications of his feelings when he was last at
Cadurcis, and think for a moment of the results to which they might
have led, I shiver; I assure you, my dear lord, I tremble from head to
foot. And I encouraged him! I smiled with fondness on his feelings! I
thought I was securing the peaceful happiness of my child! What can we
trust to in this world! It is too dreadful to dwell upon! It must have
been an interposition of Providence that Venetia escaped.'

'Dear little Venetia,' exclaimed the good Bishop; 'for I believe I
shall call her little Venetia to the day of my death. How well she
looks to-night! Her aunt is, I think, very fond of her! See!'

'Yes, it pleases me,' said Lady Annabel; but I do wish my sister was
not such an admirer of Lord Cadurcis' poems. You cannot conceive how
uneasy it makes me. I am quite annoyed that he was asked here to-day.
Why ask him?'

'Oh! there is no harm,' said Masham; 'you must forget the past. By all
accounts, Cadurcis is not a marrying man. Indeed, as I understood,
marriage with him is at present quite out of the question. And as for
Venetia, she rejected him before, and she will, if necessary, reject
him again. He has been a brother to her, and after that he can be no
more. Girls never fall in love with those with whom they are bred up.'

'I hope, I believe there is no occasion for apprehension,' replied
Lady Annabel; 'indeed, it has scarcely entered my head. The very
charms he once admired in Venetia can have no sway over him, as
I should think, now. I should believe him as little capable of
appreciating Venetia now, as he was when last at Cherbury, of
anticipating the change in his own character.'

'You mean opinions, my dear lady, for characters never change. Believe
me, Cadurcis is radically the same as in old days. Circumstances have
only developed his latent predisposition.'

'Not changed, my dear lord! what, that innocent, sweet-tempered,
docile child--'

'Hush! here he comes.'

The Earl and his guests entered the room; a circle was formed round
Lady Annabel; some evening visitors arrived; there was singing. It had
not been the intention of Lord Cadurcis to return to the drawing-room
after his rebuff by Lady Annabel; he had meditated making his peace at
Monteagle House; but when the moment of his projected departure had
arrived, he could not resist the temptation of again seeing Venetia.
He entered the room last, and some moments after his companions. Lady
Annabel, who watched the general entrance, concluded he had gone, and
her attention was now fully engaged. Lord Cadurcis remained at the
end of the room alone, apparently abstracted, and looking far from
amiable; but his eye, in reality, was watching Venetia. Suddenly her
aunt approached her, and invited the lady who was conversing with Miss
Herbert to sing; Lord Cadurcis immediately advanced, and took her
seat. Venetia was surprised that for the first time in her life
with Plantagenet she felt embarrassed. She had met his look when he
approached her, and had welcomed, or, at least, intended to welcome
him with a smile, but she was at a loss for words; she was haunted
with the recollection of her mother's behaviour to him at dinner, and
she looked down on the ground, far from being at ease.

'Venetia!' said Lord Cadurcis.

She started.

'We are alone,' he said; 'let me call you Venetia when we are alone.'

She did not, she could not reply; she felt confused; the blood rose to
her cheek.

'How changed is everything!' continued Cadurcis. 'To think the day
should ever arrive when I should have to beg your permission to call
you Venetia!'

She looked up; she met his glance. It was mournful; nay, his eyes were
suffused with tears. She saw at her side the gentle and melancholy
Plantagenet of her childhood.

'I cannot speak; I am agitated at meeting you,' she said with her
native frankness. 'It is so long since we have been alone; and, as you
say, all is so changed.'

'But are you changed, Venetia?' he said in a voice of emotion; 'for
all other change is nothing.'

'I meet you with pleasure,' she replied; 'I hear of your fame with
pride. You cannot suppose that it is possible I should cease to be
interested in your welfare.'

'Your mother does not meet me with pleasure; she hears of nothing
that has occurred to me with pride; your mother has ceased to take an
interest in my welfare; and why should you be unchanged?'

'You mistake my mother.'

'No, no,' replied Cadurcis, shaking his head, 'I have read her inmost
soul to-day. Your mother hates me; me, whom she once styled her son.
She was a mother once to me, and you were my sister. If I have lost
her heart, why have I not lost yours?'

'My heart, if you care for it, is unchanged,' said Venetia.

'O Venetia, whatever you may think, I never wanted the solace of a
sister's love more than I do at this moment.'

'I pledged my affection to you when we were children,' replied
Venetia; 'you have done nothing to forfeit it, and it is yours still.'

'When we were children,' said Cadurcis, musingly; 'when we were
innocent; when we were happy. You, at least, are innocent still; are
you happy, Venetia?'

'Life has brought sorrows even to me, Plantagenet.'

The blood deserted his heart when she called him Plantagenet; he
breathed with difficulty.

'When I last returned to Cherbury,' he said, 'you told me you were
changed, Venetia; you revealed to me on another occasion the secret
cause of your affliction. I was a boy then, a foolish ignorant boy.
Instead of sympathising with your heartfelt anxiety, my silly vanity
was offended by feelings I should have shared, and soothed, and
honoured. Ah, Venetia! well had it been for one of us that I had
conducted myself more kindly, more wisely.'

'Nay, Plantagenet, believe me, I remember that interview only to
regret it. The recollection of it has always occasioned me great
grief. We were both to blame; but we were both children then. We must
pardon each other's faults.'

'You will hear, that is, if you care to listen, Venetia, much of my
conduct and opinions,' continued Lord Cadurcis, 'that may induce you
to believe me headstrong and capricious. Perhaps I am less of both in
all things than the world imagines. But of this be certain, that my
feelings towards you have never changed, whatever you may permit them
to be; and if some of my boyish judgments have, as was but natural,
undergone some transformation, be you, my sweet friend, in some degree
consoled for the inconsistency, since I have at length learned duly to
appreciate one of whom we then alike knew little, but whom a natural
inspiration taught you, at least, justly to appreciate: I need not say
I mean the illustrious father of your being.'

Venetia could not restrain her tears; she endeavoured to conceal her
agitated countenance behind the fan with which she was fortunately
provided.

'To me a forbidden subject,' said Venetia, 'at least with them I could
alone converse upon it, but one that my mind never deserts.'

'O Venetia!' exclaimed Lord Cadurcis with a sigh, 'would we were both
with him!'

'A wild thought,' she murmured, 'and one I must not dwell upon.'

'We shall meet, I hope,' said Lord Cadurcis; 'we must meet, meet
often. I called upon your mother to-day, fruitlessly. You must attempt
to conciliate her. Why should we be parted? We, at least, are friends,
and more than friends. I cannot exist unless we meet, and meet with
the frankness of old days.'

'I think you mistake mamma; I think you may, indeed. Remember how
lately she has met you, and after how long an interval! A little time,
and she will resume her former feelings, and believe that you have
never forfeited yours. Besides, we have friends, mutual friends. My
aunt admires you, and here I naturally must be a great deal. And the
Bishop, he still loves you; that I am sure he does: and your cousin,
mamma likes your cousin. I am sure if you can manage only to be
patient, if you will only attempt to conciliate a little, all will be
as before. Remember, too, how changed your position is,' Venetia added
with a smile; 'you allow me to forget you are a great man, but mamma
is naturally restrained by all this wonderful revolution. When she
finds that you really are the Lord Cadurcis whom she knew such a very
little boy, the Lord Cadurcis who, without her aid, would never have
been able even to write his fine poems, oh! she must love you again.
How can she help it?'

Cadurcis smiled. 'We shall see,' he said. 'In the meantime do not you
desert me, Venetia.'

'That is impossible,' she replied; 'the happiest of my days have been
passed with you. You remember the inscription on the jewel? I shall
keep to my vows.'

'That was a very good inscription so far as it went,' said Cadurcis;
and then, as if a little alarmed at his temerity, he changed the
subject.

'Do you know,' said Venetia, after a pause, 'I am treating you all
this time as a poet, merely in deference to public opinion. Not a line
have I been permitted to read; but I am resolved to rebel, and you
must arrange it all.'

'Ah!' said the enraptured Cadurcis; 'this is fame!'

At this moment the Countess approached them, and told Venetia that
her mother wished to speak to her. Lady Annabel had discovered the
tête-à-tête, and resolved instantly to terminate it. Lord Cadurcis,
however, who was quick as lightning, read all that was necessary in
Venetia's look. Instead of instantly retiring, he remained some little
time longer, talked to the Countess, who was perfectly enchanted with
him, even sauntered up to the singers, and complimented them, and did
not make his bow until he had convinced at least the mistress of the
mansion, if not her sister-in-law, that it was not Venetia Herbert who
was his principal attraction in this agreeable society.



CHAPTER XI.


The moment he had quitted Venetia, Lord Cadurcis returned home. He
could not endure the usual routine of gaiety after her society; and
his coachman, often waiting until five o'clock in the morning at
Monteagle House, could scarcely assure himself of his good fortune
in this exception to his accustomed trial of patience. The vis-à-vis
stopped, and Lord Cadurcis bounded out with a light step and a lighter
heart. His table was covered with letters. The first one that caught
his eye was a missive from Lady Monteagle. Cadurcis seized it like a
wild animal darting on its prey, tore it in half without opening it,
and, grasping the poker, crammed it with great energy into the fire.
This exploit being achieved, Cadurcis began walking up and down the
room; and indeed he paced it for nearly a couple of hours in a deep
reverie, and evidently under a considerable degree of excitement, for
his gestures were violent, and his voice often audible. At length,
about an hour after midnight, he rang for his valet, tore off his
cravat, and hurled it to one corner of the apartment, called for his
robe de chambre, soda water, and more lights, seated himself, and
began pouring forth, faster almost than his pen could trace the words,
the poem that he had been meditating ever since he had quitted the
roof where he had met Venetia. She had expressed a wish to read his
poems; he had resolved instantly to compose one for her solitary
perusal Thus he relieved his heart:

  I.

  Within a cloistered pile, whose Gothic towers
  Rose by the margin of a sedgy lake,
  Embosomed in a valley of green bowers,
  And girt by many a grove and ferny brake
  Loved by the antlered deer, a tender youth
  Whom Time to childhood's gentle sway of love
  Still spared; yet innocent as is the dove,
  Nor mounded yet by Care's relentless tooth;
  Stood musing, of that fair antique domain
  The orphan lord! And yet, no childish thought
  With wayward purpose holds its transient reign
  In his young mind, with deeper feelings fraught;
  Then mystery all to him, and yet a dream,
  That Time has touched with its revealing beam.

  II.

  There came a maiden to that lonely boy,
  And like to him as is the morn to night;
  Her sunny face a very type of joy,
  And with her soul's unclouded lustre bright.
  Still scantier summers had her brow illumed
  Than that on which she threw a witching smile,
  Unconscious of the spell that could beguile
  His being of the burthen it was doomed
  By his ancestral blood to bear: a spirit,
  Rife with desponding thoughts and fancies drear,
  A moody soul that men sometimes inherit,
  And worse than all the woes the world may bear.
  But when he met that maiden's dazzling eye,
  He bade each gloomy image baffled fly.

  III.

  Amid the shady woods and sunny lawns
  The maiden and the youth now wander, gay
  As the bright birds, and happy as the fawns,
  Their sportive rivals, that around them play;
  Their light hands linked in love, the golden hours
  Unconscious fly, while thus they graceful roam,
  And careless ever till the voice of home
  Recalled them from their sunshine find their flowers;
  For then they parted: to his lonely pile
  The orphan-chief, for though his woe to lull,
  The maiden called him brother, her fond smile
  Gladdened another hearth, while his was dull
  Yet as they parted, she reproved his sadness,
  And for his sake she gaily whispered gladness.

  IV.

  She was the daughter of a noble race,
  That beauteous girl, and yet she owed her name
  To one who needs no herald's skill to trace
  His blazoned lineage, for his lofty fame
  Lives in the mouth of men, and distant climes
  Re-echo his wide glory; where the brave
  Are honoured, where 'tis noble deemed to save
  A prostrate nation, and for future times
  Work with a high devotion, that no taunt,
  Or ribald lie, or zealot's eager curse,
  Or the short-sighted world's neglect can daunt,
  That name is worshipped! His immortal verse
  Blends with his god-like deeds, a double spell
  To bind the coming age he loved too well!

  V.

  For, from his ancient home, a scatterling,
  They drove him forth, unconscious of their prize,
  And branded as a vile unhallowed thing,
  The man who struggled only to be wise.
  And even his hearth rebelled, the duteous wife,
  Whose bosom well might soothe in that dark hour,
  Swelled with her gentle force the world's harsh power,
  And aimed her dart at his devoted life.
  That struck; the rest his mighty soul might scorn,
  But when his household gods averted stood,
  'Twas the last pang that cannot well be borne
  When tortured e'en to torpor: his heart's blood
  Flowed to the unseen blow: then forth he went,
  And gloried in his ruthless banishment.

  VI.

  A new-born pledge of love within his home,
  His alien home, the exiled father left;
  And when, like Cain, he wandered forth to roam,
  A Cain without his solace, all bereft,
  Stole down his pallid cheek the scalding tear,
  To think a stranger to his tender love
  His child must grow, untroubled where might rove
  His restless life, or taught perchance to fear
  Her father's name, and bred in sullen hate,
  Shrink from his image. Thus the gentle maid,
  Who with her smiles had soothed an orphan's fate,
  Had felt an orphan's pang; yet undismayed,
  Though taught to deem her sire the child of shame,
  She clung with instinct to that reverent name!

  VII.

  Time flew; the boy became a man; no more
  His shadow falls upon his cloistered hall,
  But to a stirring world he learn'd to pour
  The passion of his being, skilled to call
  From the deep caverns of his musing thought
  Shadows to which they bowed, and on their mind
  To stamp the image of his own; the wind,
  Though all unseen, with force or odour fraught,
  Can sway mankind, and thus a poet's voice,
  Now touched with sweetness, now inflamed with rage,
  Though breath, can make us grieve and then rejoice:
  Such is the spell of his creative page,
  That blends with all our moods; and thoughts can yield
  That all have felt, and yet till then were sealed.

  VIII.

  The lute is sounding in a chamber bright
  With a high festival; on every side,
  Soft in the gleamy blaze of mellowed light,
  Fair women smile, and dancers graceful glide;
  And words still sweeter than a serenade
  Are breathed with guarded voice and speaking eyes,
  By joyous hearts in spite of all their sighs;
  But byegone fantasies that ne'er can fade
  Retain the pensive spirit of the youth;
  Reclined against a column he surveys
  His laughing compeers with a glance, in sooth,
  Careless of all their mirth: for other days
  Enchain him with their vision, the bright hours
  Passed with the maiden in their sunny bowers.

  IX.

  Why turns his brow so pale, why starts to life
  That languid eye? What form before unseen,
  With all the spells of hallowed memory rife,
  Now rises on his vision? As the Queen
  Of Beauty from her bed of sparkling foam
  Sprang to the azure light, and felt the air,
  Soft as her cheek, the wavy dancers bear
  To his rapt sight a mien that calls his home,
  His cloistered home, before him, with his dreams
  Prophetic strangely blending. The bright muse
  Of his dark childhood still divinely beams
  Upon his being; glowing with the hues
  That painters love, when raptured pencils soar
  To trace a form that nations may adore!

  X.

  One word alone, within her thrilling ear,
  Breathed with hushed voice the brother of her heart,
  And that for aye is hidden. With a tear
  Smiling she strove to conquer, see her start,
  The bright blood rising to her quivering cheek,
  And meet the glance she hastened once to greet,
  When not a thought had he, save in her sweet
  And solacing society; to seek
  Her smiles his only life! Ah! happy prime
  Of cloudless purity, no stormy fame
  His unknown sprite then stirred, a golden time
  Worth all the restless splendour of a name;
  And one soft accent from those gentle lips
  Might all the plaudits of a world eclipse.

  XI.

  My tale is done; and if some deem it strange
  My fancy thus should droop, deign then to learn
  My tale is truth: imagination's range
  Its bounds exact may touch not: to discern
  Far stranger things than poets ever feign,
  In life's perplexing annals, is the fate
  Of those who act, and musing, penetrate
  The mystery of Fortune: to whose reign
  The haughtiest brow must bend; 'twas passing strange
  The youth of these fond children; strange the flush
  Of his high fortunes and his spirit's change;
  Strange was the maiden's tear, the maiden's blush;
  Strange were his musing thoughts and trembling heart,
  'Tis strange they met, and stranger if they part!



CHAPTER XII.


When Lady Monteagle discovered, which she did a very few hours after
the mortifying event, where Lord Cadurcis had dined the day on which
he had promised to be her guest, she was very indignant, but her
vanity was more offended than her self-complacency. She was annoyed
that Cadurcis should have compromised his exalted reputation by so
publicly dangling in the train of the new beauty: still more that he
should have signified in so marked a manner the impression which the
fair stranger had made upon him, by instantly accepting an invitation
to a house so totally unconnected with his circle, and where, had it
not been to meet this Miss Herbert, it would of course never have
entered his head to be a visitor. But, on the whole, Lady Monteagle
was rather irritated than jealous; and far from suspecting that there
was the slightest chance of her losing her influence, such as it might
be, over Lord Cadurcis, all that she felt was, that less lustre must
redound to her from its possession and exercise, if it were obvious
to the world that his attentions could be so easily attracted and
commanded.

When Lord Cadurcis, therefore, having dispatched his poem to Venetia,
paid his usual visit on the next day to Monteagle House, he was
received rather with sneers than reproaches, as Lady Monteagle, with
no superficial knowledge of society or his lordship's character,
was clearly of opinion that this new fancy of her admirer was to be
treated rather with ridicule than indignation; and, in short, as she
had discovered that Cadurcis was far from being insensible to mockery,
that it was clearly a fit occasion, to use a phrase then very much in
vogue, for _quizzing_.

'How d'ye do?' said her ladyship, with an arch smile, 'I really could
not expect to see you!'

Cadurcis looked a little confused; he detested scenes, and now he
dreaded one.

'You seem quite distrait,' continued Lady Monteagle, after a moment's
pause, which his lordship ought to have broken. 'But no wonder, if the
world be right.'

'The world cannot be wrong,' said Cadurcis sarcastically.

'Had you a pleasant party yesterday?'

'Very.'

'Lady ---- must have been quite charmed to have you at last,' said Lady
Monteagle. 'I suppose she exhibited you to all her friends, as if you
were one of the savages that went to Court the other day.'

'She was courteous.'

'Oh! I can fancy her flutter! For my part, if there be one character
in the world more odious than another, I think it is a fussy woman.
Lady ----, with Lord Cadurcis dining with her, and the new beauty for a
niece, must have been in a most delectable state of bustle.'

'I thought she was rather quiet,' said her companion with provoking
indifference. 'She seemed to me an agreeable person.'

'I suppose you mean Miss Herbert?' said Lady Monteagle.

'Oh! these are moderate expressions to use in reference to a person
like Miss Herbert.'

'You know what they said of you two at Ranelagh?' said her ladyship.

'No,' said Lord Cadurcis, somewhat changing colour, and speaking
through his teeth; 'something devilish pleasant, I dare say.'

'They call you Sedition and Treason,' said Lady Monteagle.

'Then we are well suited,' said Lord Cadurcis.

'She certainly is a beautiful creature,' said her ladyship.

'I think so,' said Lord Cadurcis.

'Rather too tall, I think.'

'Do you?'

'Beautiful complexion certainly; wants delicacy, I think.'

'Do you?'

'Fine eyes! Grey, I believe. Cannot say I admire grey eyes. Certain
sign of bad temper, I believe, grey eyes?'

'Are they?'

'I did not observe her hand. I dare say a little coarse. Fair people
who are tall generally fail in the hand and arm. What sort of a hand
and arm has she?'

'I did not observe anything coarse about Miss Herbert.'

'Ah! you admire her. And you have cause. No one can deny she is a fine
girl, and every one must regret, that with her decidedly provincial
air and want of style altogether, which might naturally be expected,
considering the rustic way I understand she has been brought up (an
old house in the country, with a methodistical mother), that she
should have fallen into such hands as her aunt. Lady ---- is enough to
spoil any girl's fortune in London.'

'I thought that the ---- were people of high consideration,' said Lord
Cadurcis.

'Consideration!' exclaimed Lady Monteagle. 'If you mean that they are
people of rank, and good blood, and good property, they are certainly
people of consideration; but they are Goths, Vandals, Huns, Calmucks,
Canadian savages! They have no fashion, no style, no ton, no influence
in the world. It is impossible that a greater misfortune could have
befallen your beauty than having such an aunt. Why, no man who has the
slightest regard for his reputation would be seen in her company. She
is a regular quiz, and you cannot imagine how everybody was laughing
at you the other night.'

'I am very much obliged to them,' said Lord Cadurcis.

'And, upon my honour,' continued Lady Monteagle, 'speaking merely as
your friend, and not being the least jealous (Cadurcis do not suppose
that), not a twinge has crossed my mind on that score; but still I
must tell you that it was most ridiculous for a man like you, to
whom everybody looks up, and from whom the slightest attention is
an honour, to go and fasten yourself the whole night upon a rustic
simpleton, something between a wax doll and a dairymaid, whom every
fool in London was staring at; the very reason why you should not have
appeared to have been even aware of her existence.'

'We have all our moments of weakness, Gertrude,' said Lord Cadurcis,
charmed that the lady was so thoroughly unaware and unsuspicious of
his long and intimate connection with the Herberts. 'I suppose it was
my cursed vanity. I saw, as you say, every fool staring at her, and
so I determined to show that in an instant I could engross her
attention.'

'Of course, I know it was only that; but you should not have gone
and dined there, Cadurcis,' added the lady, very seriously, 'That
compromised you; but, by cutting them in future in the most marked
manner, you may get over it.'

'You really think I may?' inquired Lord Cadurcis, with some anxiety.

'Oh! I have no doubt of it,' said Lady Monteagle.

'What it is to have a friend like you, Gertrude,' said Cadurcis, 'a
friend who is neither a Goth, nor a Vandal, nor a Hun, nor a Calmuck,
nor a Canadian savage; but a woman of fashion, style, ton, influence
in the world! It is impossible that a greater piece of good fortune
could have befallen me than having you for a friend.'

'Ah, méchant! you may mock,' said the lady, triumphantly, for she was
quite satisfied with the turn the conversation had taken; 'but I am
glad for your sake that you take such a sensible view of the case.'

Notwithstanding, however, this sensible view of the case, after
lounging an hour at Monteagle House, Lord Cadurcis' carriage stopped
at the door of Venetia's Gothic aunt. He was not so fortunate as
to meet his heroine; but, nevertheless, he did not esteem his time
entirely thrown away, and consoled himself for the disappointment
by confirming the favourable impression he had already made in this
establishment, and cultivating an intimacy which he was assured must
contribute many opportunities of finding himself in the society
of Venetia. From this day, indeed, he was a frequent guest at her
uncle's, and generally contrived also to meet her several times in
the week at some great assembly; but here, both from the occasional
presence of Lady Monteagle, although party spirit deterred her from
attending many circles where Cadurcis was now an habitual visitant,
and from the crowd of admirers who surrounded the Herberts, he rarely
found an opportunity for any private conversation with Venetia.
His friend the Bishop also, notwithstanding the prejudices of Lady
Annabel, received him always with cordiality, and he met the Herberts
more than once at his mansion. At the opera and in the park also he
hovered about them, in spite of the sarcasms or reproaches of Lady
Monteagle; for the reader is not to suppose that that lady continued
to take the same self-complacent view of Lord Cadurcis' acquaintance
with the Herberts which she originally adopted, and at first flattered
herself was the just one. His admiration of Miss Herbert had become
the topic of general conversation; it could no longer be concealed or
disguised. But Lady Monteagle was convinced that Cadurcis was not a
marrying man, and persuaded herself that this was a fancy which must
evaporate. Moreover, Monteagle House still continued his spot of most
constant resort; for his opportunities of being with Venetia were,
with all his exertions, limited, and he had no other resource which
pleased him so much as the conversation and circle of the bright
goddess of his party. After some fiery scenes therefore with the
divinity, which only led to his prolonged absence, for the profound
and fervent genius of Cadurcis revolted from the base sentiment and
mock emotions of society, the lady reconciled herself to her lot,
still believing herself the most envied woman in London, and often
ashamed of being jealous of a country girl.

The general result of the fortnight which elapsed since Cadurcis
renewed his acquaintance with his Cherbury friends was, that he had
become convinced of his inability of propitiating Lady Annabel, was
devotedly attached to Venetia, though he had seldom an opportunity
of intimating feelings, which the cordial manner in which she ever
conducted herself to him gave him no reason to conclude desperate; at
the same time that he had contrived that a day should seldom elapse,
which did not under some circumstances, however unfavourable, bring
them together, while her intimate friends and the circles in which she
passed most of her life always witnessed his presence with favour.



CHAPTER XIII.


We must, however, endeavour to be more intimately acquainted with
the heart and mind of Venetia in her present situation, so strongly
contrasting with the serene simplicity of her former life, than the
limited and constrained opportunities of conversing with the companion
of his childhood enjoyed by Lord Cadurcis could possibly enable him to
become. Let us recur to her on the night when she returned home, after
having met with Plantagenet at her uncle's, and having pursued a
conversation with him, so unexpected, so strange, and so affecting!
She had been silent in the carriage, and retired to her room
immediately. She retired to ponder. The voice of Cadurcis lingered in
her ear; his tearful eye still caught her vision. She leant her head
upon her hand, and sighed! Why did she sigh? What at this instant was
her uppermost thought? Her mother's dislike of Cadurcis. 'Your mother
hates me.' These had been his words; these were the words she repeated
to herself, and on whose fearful sounds she dwelt. 'Your mother hates
me.' If by some means she had learnt a month ago at Weymouth, that her
mother hated Cadurcis, that his general conduct had been such as to
excite Lady Annabel's odium, Venetia might have for a moment
been shocked that her old companion in whom she had once been so
interested, had by his irregular behaviour incurred the dislike of her
mother, by whom he had once been so loved. But it would have been a
transient emotion. She might have mused over past feelings and past
hopes in a solitary ramble on the seashore; she might even have shed
a tear over the misfortunes or infelicity of one who had once been
to her a brother; but, perhaps, nay probably, on the morrow the
remembrance of Plantagenet would scarcely have occurred to her.
Long years had elapsed since their ancient fondness; a considerable
interval since even his name had met her ear. She had heard nothing
of him that could for a moment arrest her notice or command her
attention.

But now the irresistible impression that her mother disliked this very
individual filled, her with intolerable grief. What occasioned this
change in her feelings, this extraordinary difference in her emotions?
There was, apparently, but one cause. She had met Cadurcis. Could then
a glance, could even the tender intonations of that unrivalled voice,
and the dark passion of that speaking eye, work in an instant such
marvels? Could they revive the past so vividly, that Plantagenet in
a moment resumed his ancient place in her affections? No, it was not
that: it was less the tenderness of the past that made Venetia mourn
her mother's sternness to Cadurcis, than the feelings of the future.
For now she felt that her mother's heart was not more changed towards
this personage than was her own.

It seemed to Venetia that even before they met, from the very moment
that his name had so strangely caught her eye in the volume on the
first evening she had visited her relations, that her spirit suddenly
turned to him. She had never heard that name mentioned since without
a fluttering of the heart which she could not repress, and an emotion
she could ill conceal. She loved to hear others talk of him, and yet
scarcely dared speak of him herself. She recalled her emotion
at unexpectedly seeing his portrait when with her aunt, and her
mortification when her mother deprived her of the poem which she
sighed to read. Day after day something seemed to have occurred to fix
her brooding thoughts with fonder earnestness on his image. At length
they met. Her emotion when she first recognised him at Ranelagh and
felt him approaching her, was one of those tumults of the heart that
form almost a crisis in our sensations. With what difficulty had
she maintained herself! Doubtful whether he would even formally
acknowledge her presence, her vision as if by fascination had
nevertheless met his, and grew dizzy as he passed. In the interval
that had elapsed between his first passing and then joining her, what
a chaos was her mind! What a wild blending of all the scenes and
incidents of her life! What random answers had she made to those with
whom she had been before conversing with ease and animation! And then,
when she unexpectedly found Cadurcis at her side, and listened to the
sound of that familiar voice, familiar and yet changed, expressing
so much tenderness in its tones, and in its words such deference and
delicate respect, existence felt to her that moment affluent with a
blissful excitement of which she had never dreamed!

Her life was a reverie until they met again, in which she only mused
over his fame, and the strange relations of their careers. She had
watched the conduct of her mother to him at dinner with poignant
sorrow; she scarcely believed that she should have an opportunity
of expressing to him her sympathy. And then what had followed?
A conversation, every word of which had touched her heart; a
conversation that would have entirely controlled her feelings even if
he had not already subjected them. The tone in which he so suddenly
had pronounced 'Venetia,' was the sweetest music to which she had ever
listened. His allusion to her father had drawn tears, which could not
be restrained even in a crowded saloon. Now she wept plenteously.
It was so generous, so noble, so kind, so affectionate! Dear, dear
Cadurcis, is it wonderful that you should be loved?

Then falling into a reverie of sweet and unbroken stillness, with her
eyes fixed in abstraction on the fire, Venetia reviewed her life from
the moment she had known Plantagenet. Not an incident that had ever
occurred to them that did not rise obedient to her magical bidding.
She loved to dwell upon the time when she was the consolation of his
sorrows, and when Cherbury was to him a pleasant refuge! Oh! she felt
sure her mother must remember those fond days, and love him as she
once did! She pictured to herself the little Plantagenet of her
childhood, so serious and so pensive when alone or with others, yet
with her at times so gay and wild, and sarcastic; forebodings all of
that deep and brilliant spirit, which had since stirred up the heart
of a great nation, and dazzled the fancy of an admiring world. The
change too in their mutual lots was also, to a degree, not free from
that sympathy that had ever bound them together. A train of strange
accidents had brought Venetia from her spell-bound seclusion, placed
her suddenly in the most brilliant circle of civilisation, and classed
her among not the least admired of its favoured members. And whom had
she come to meet? Whom did she find in this new and splendid life the
most courted and considered of its community, crowned as it were with
garlands, and perfumed with the incense of a thousand altars? Her own
Plantagenet. It was passing strange.

The morrow brought the verses from Cadurcis. They greatly affected
her. The picture of their childhood, and of the singular sympathy of
their mutual situations, and the description of her father, called
forth her tears; she murmured, however, at the allusion to her other
parent. It was not just, it could not be true. These verses were not,
of course, shown to Lady Annabel. Would they have been shown, even if
they had not contained the allusion? The question is not perplexing.
Venetia had her secret, and a far deeper one than the mere reception
of a poem; all confidence between her and her mother had expired. Love
had stept in, and, before his magic touch, the discipline of a life
expired in an instant.

From all this an idea may be formed of the mood in which, during the
fortnight before alluded to, Venetia was in the habit of meeting Lord
Cadurcis. During this period not the slightest conversation respecting
him had occurred between her mother and herself. Lady Annabel never
mentioned him, and her brow clouded when his name, as was often the
case, was introduced. At the end of this fortnight, it happened that
her aunt and mother were out together in the carriage, and had left
her in the course of the morning at her uncle's house. During this
interval, Lord Cadurcis called, and having ascertained, through a
garrulous servant, that though his mistress was out, Miss Herbert was
in the drawing-room, he immediately took the opportunity of being
introduced. Venetia was not a little surprised at his appearance, and,
conscious of her mother's feelings upon the subject, for a moment
a little agitated, yet, it must be confessed, as much pleased. She
seized this occasion of speaking to him about his verses, for hitherto
she had only been able to acknowledge the receipt of them by a
word. While she expressed without affectation the emotions they had
occasioned her, she complained of his injustice to her mother: this
was the cause of an interesting conversation of which her father
was the subject, and for which she had long sighed. With what deep,
unbroken attention she listened to her companion's enthusiastic
delineation of his character and career! What multiplied questions did
she not ask him, and how eagerly, how amply, how affectionately he
satisfied her just and natural curiosity! Hours flew away while they
indulged in this rare communion.

'Oh, that I could see him!' sighed Venetia.

'You will,' replied Plantagenet; 'your destiny requires it. You will
see him as surely as you beheld that portrait that it was the labour
of a life to prevent you beholding.'

Venetia shook her head; 'And yet,' she added musingly, 'my mother
loves him.'

'Her life proves it,' said Cadurcis bitterly.

'I think it does,' replied Venetia, sincerely.

'I pretend not to understand her heart,' he answered; 'it is an enigma
that I cannot solve. I ought not to believe that she is without one;
but, at any rate, her pride is deeper than her love.'

'They were ill suited,' said Venetia, mournfully; 'and yet it is one
of my dreams that they may yet meet.'

'Ah, Venetia!' he exclaimed, in a voice of great softness, 'they had
not known each other from their childhood, like us. They met, and they
parted, alike in haste.'

Venetia made no reply; her eyes were fixed in abstraction on a
handscreen, which she was unconscious that she held.

'Tell me,' said Cadurcis, drawing his chair close to hers; 'tell me,
Venetia, if--'

At this moment a thundering knock at the door announced the return of
the Countess and her sister-in-law. Cadurcis rose from his seat, but
his chair, which still remained close to that on which Venetia was
sitting, did not escape the quick glance of her mortified mother. The
Countess welcomed Cadurcis with extreme cordiality; Lady Annabel only
returned his very courteous bow.

'Stop and dine with us, my dear lord,' said the Countess. 'We are only
ourselves, and Lady Annabel and Venetia.'

'I thank you, Clara,' said Lady Annabel, 'but we cannot stop to-day.'

'Oh!' exclaimed her sister. 'It will be such a disappointment to
Philip. Indeed you must stay,' she added, in a coaxing tone; 'we shall
be such an agreeable little party, with Lord Cadurcis.'

'I cannot indeed, my dear Clara,' replied Lady Annabel; 'not to-day,
indeed not to-day. Come Venetia!'



CHAPTER XIV.


Lady Annabel was particularly kind to Venetia on their return to their
hotel, otherwise her daughter might have fancied that she had offended
her, for she was silent. Venetia did not doubt that the presence of
Lord Cadurcis was the reason that her mother would not remain and
dine at her uncle's. This conviction grieved Venetia, but she did not
repine; she indulged the fond hope that time would remove the strong
prejudice which Lady Annabel now so singularly entertained against one
in whose welfare she was originally so deeply interested. During their
simple and short repast Venetia was occupied in a reverie, in
which, it must be owned, Cadurcis greatly figured, and answered the
occasional though kind remarks of her mother with an absent air.

After dinner, Lady Annabel drew her chair towards the fire, for,
although May, the weather was chill, and said, 'A quiet evening at
home, Venetia, will be a relief after all this gaiety.' Venetia
assented to her mother's observation, and nearly a quarter of an hour
elapsed without another word being spoken. Venetia had taken up a
book, and Lady Annabel was apparently lost in her reflections. At
length she said, somewhat abruptly, 'It is more than three years, I
think, since Lord Cadurcis left Cherbury?'

'Yes; it is more than three years,' replied Venetia.

'He quitted us suddenly.'

'Very suddenly,' agreed Venetia.

'I never asked you whether you knew the cause, Venetia,' continued her
mother, 'but I always concluded that you did. I suppose I was not in
error?'

This was not a very agreeable inquiry. Venetia did not reply to
it with her previous readiness and indifference. That indeed was
impossible; but, with her accustomed frankness, after a moment's
hesitation, she answered, 'Lord Cadurcis never specifically stated the
cause to me, mamma; indeed I was myself surprised at his departure,
but some conversation had occurred between us on the very morning he
quitted Cadurcis, which, on reflection, I could not doubt occasioned
that departure.'

'Lord Cadurcis preferred his suit to you, Venetia, and you rejected
him?' said Lady Annabel.

'It is as you believe,' replied Venetia, not a little agitated.

'You did wisely, my child, and I was weak ever to have regretted your
conduct.'

'Why should you think so, dearest mamma?'

'Whatever may have been the cause that impelled your conduct then,'
said Lady Annabel, 'I shall ever esteem your decision as a signal
interposition of Providence in your favour. Except his extreme youth,
there was apparently no reason which should not have induced you to
adopt a different decision. I tremble when I think what might have
been the consequences.'

'Tremble, dearest mother?'

'Tremble, Venetia. My only thought in this life is the happiness of my
child. It was in peril.

'Nay, I trust not that, mamma: you are prejudiced against Plantagenet.
It makes me very unhappy, and him also.'

'He is again your suitor?' said Lady Annabel, with a scrutinising
glance.

'Indeed he is not.'

'He will be,' said Lady Annabel. 'Prepare yourself. Tell me, then, are
your feelings the same towards him as when he last quitted us?'

'Feelings, mamma!' said Venetia, echoing her mother's words; for
indeed the question was one very difficult to answer; 'I ever loved
Plantagenet; I love him still.'

'But do you love him now as then? Then you looked upon him as a
brother. He has no soul now for sisterly affections. I beseech you
tell me, my child, me, your mother, your friend, your best, your only
friend, tell me, have you for a moment repented that you ever refused
to extend to him any other affection?'

'I have not thought of the subject, mamma; I have not wished to think
of the subject; I have had no occasion to think of it. Lord Cadurcis
is not my suitor now.'

'Venetia!' said Lady Annabel, 'I cannot doubt you love me.'

'Dearest mother!' exclaimed Venetia, in a tone of mingled fondness and
reproach, and she rose from her seat and embraced Lady Annabel.

'My happiness is an object to you, Venetia?' continued Lady Annabel.

'Mother, mother,' said Venetia, in a deprecatory tone. 'Do not ask
such cruel questions? Whom should I love but you, the best, the
dearest mother that ever existed? And what object can I have in life
that for a moment can be placed in competition with your happiness?'

'Then, Venetia, I tell you,' said Lady Annabel, in a solemn yet
excited voice, 'that that happiness is gone for ever, nay, my very
life will be the forfeit, if I ever live to see you the bride of Lord
Cadurcis.'

'I have no thought of being the bride of any one,' said Venetia. 'I am
happy with you. I wish never to leave you.'

'My child, the fulfilment of such a wish is not in the nature of
things,' replied Lady Annabel. 'The day will come when we must part;
I am prepared for the event; nay, I look forward to it not only with
resignation, but delight, when I think it may increase your happiness;
but were that step to destroy it, oh! then, then I could live no more.
I can endure my own sorrows, I can struggle with my own bitter lot,
I have some sources of consolation which enable me to endure my own
misery without repining; but yours, yours, Venetia, I could not bear.
No! if once I were to behold you lingering in life as your mother,
with blighted hopes and with a heart broken, if hearts can break, I
should not survive the spectacle; I know myself, Venetia, I could not
survive it.'

'But why anticipate such misery? Why indulge in such gloomy
forebodings? Am I not happy now? Do you not love me?'

Venetia had drawn her chair close to that of her mother; she sat by
her side and held her hand.

'Venetia,' said Lady Annabel, after a pause of some minutes, and in a
low voice, 'I must speak to you on a subject on which we have never
conversed. I must speak to you;' and here Lady Annabel's voice dropped
lower and lower, but still its tones were distinct, although
she expressed herself with evident effort: 'I must speak to you
about--your father.'

Venetia uttered a faint cry, she clenched her mother's hand with a
convulsive grasp, and sank upon her bosom. She struggled to maintain
herself, but the first sound of that name from her mother's lips, and
all the long-suppressed emotions that it conjured up, overpowered her.
The blood seemed to desert her heart; still she did not faint; she
clung to Lady Annabel, pallid and shivering.

Her mother tenderly embraced her, she whispered to her words of great
affection, she attempted to comfort and console her. Venetia murmured,
'This is very foolish of me, mother; but speak, oh! speak of what I
have so long desired to hear.'

'Not now, Venetia.'

'Now, mother! yes, now! I am quite composed. I could not bear the
postponement of what you were about to say. I could not sleep, dear
mother, if you did not speak to me. It was only for a moment I was
overcome. See! I am quite composed.' And indeed she spoke in a calm
and steady voice, but her pale and suffering countenance expressed the
painful struggle which it cost her to command herself.

'Venetia,' said Lady Annabel, 'it has been one of the objects of my
life, that you should not share my sorrows.'

Venetia pressed her mother's hand, but made no other reply.

'I concealed from you for years,' continued Lady Annabel, 'a
circumstance in which, indeed, you were deeply interested, but the
knowledge of which could only bring you unhappiness. Yet it was
destined that my solicitude should eventually be baffled. I know that
it is not from my lips that you learn for the first time that you have
a father, a father living.'

'Mother, let me tell you all!' said Venetia, eagerly.

'I know all,' said Lady Annabel.

'But, mother, there is something that you do not know; and now I would
confess it.'

'There is nothing that you can confess with which I am not acquainted,
Venetia; and I feel assured, I have ever felt assured, that your only
reason for concealment was a desire to save me pain.'

'That, indeed, has ever been my only motive,' replied Venetia, 'for
having a secret from my mother.'

'In my absence from Cherbury you entered the chamber,' said Lady
Annabel, calmly. 'In the delirium of your fever I became acquainted
with a circumstance which so nearly proved fatal to you.'

Venetia's cheek turned scarlet.

'In that chamber you beheld the portrait of your father,' continued
Lady Annabel. 'From our friend you learnt that father was still
living. That is all?' said Lady Annabel, inquiringly.

'No, not all, dear mother; not all. Lord Cadurcis reproached me at
Cherbury with, with, with having such a father,' she added, in a
hesitating voice. 'It was then I learnt his misfortunes, mother; his
misery.'

'I thought that misfortunes, that misery, were the lot of your other
parent,' replied Lady Annabel, somewhat coldly.

'Not with my love,' said Venetia, eagerly; 'not with my love, mother.
You have forgotten your misery in my love. Say so, say so, dearest
mother.' And Venetia threw herself on her knees before Lady Annabel,
and looked up with earnestness in her face.

The expression of that countenance had been for a moment stern, but
it relaxed into fondness, as Lady Annabel gently bowed her head, and
pressed her lips to her daughter's forehead. 'Ah, Venetia!' she said,
'all depends upon you. I can endure, nay, I can forget the past, if my
child be faithful to me. There are no misfortunes, there is no misery,
if the being to whom I have consecrated the devotion of my life will
only be dutiful, will only be guided by my advice, will only profit by
my sad experience.'

'Mother, I repeat I have no thought but for you,' said Venetia. 'My
own dearest mother, if my duty, if my devotion can content you, you
shall be happy. But wherein have I failed?'

'In nothing, love. Your life has hitherto been one unbroken course of
affectionate obedience.'

'And ever shall be,' said Venetia. 'But you were speaking, mother, you
were speaking of, of my, my father!'

'Of him!' said Lady Annabel, thoughtfully. 'You have seen his
picture?'

Venetia kissed her mother's hand.

'Was he less beautiful than Cadurcis? Was he less gifted?' exclaimed
Lady Annabel, with animation. 'He could whisper in tones as sweet, and
pour out his vows as fervently. Yet what am I? O my child!' continued
Lady Annabel, 'beware of such beings! They bear within them a spirit
on which all the devotion of our sex is lavished in vain. A year, no!
not a year, not one short year! and all my hopes were blighted! O
Venetia! if your future should be like my bitter past! and it might
have been, and I might have contributed to the fulfilment! can you
wonder that I should look upon Cadurcis with aversion?'

'But, mother, dearest mother, we have known Plantagenet from his
childhood. You ever loved him; you ever gave him credit for a heart,
most tender and affectionate.'

'He has no heart.'

'Mother!'

'He cannot have a heart. Spirits like him are heartless. It is another
impulse that sways their existence. It is imagination; it is vanity;
it is self, disguised with glittering qualities that dazzle our weak
senses, but selfishness, the most entire, the most concentrated. We
knew him as a child: ah! what can women know? We are born to love, and
to be deceived. We saw him young, helpless, abandoned; he moved our
pity. We knew not his nature; then he was ignorant of it himself. But
the young tiger, though cradled at our hearths and fed on milk, will
in good time retire to its jungle and prey on blood. You cannot change
its nature; and the very hand that fostered it will be its first
victim.'

'How often have we parted!' said Venetia, in a deprecating tone; 'how
long have we been separated! and yet we find him ever the same; he
ever loves us. Yes! dear mother, he loves you now, the same as in old
days. If you had seen him, as I have seen him, weep when he recalled
your promise to be a parent to him, and then contrasted with such
sweet hopes your present reserve, oh! you would believe he had a
heart, you would, indeed!'

'Weep!' exclaimed Lady Annabel, bitterly, 'ay! they can weep.
Sensibility is a luxury which they love to indulge. Their very
susceptibility is our bane. They can weep; they can play upon our
feelings; and our emotion, so easily excited, is an homage to their
own power, in which they glory.

'Look at Cadurcis,' she suddenly resumed; 'bred with so much care;
the soundest principles instilled into him with such sedulousness;
imbibing them apparently with so much intelligence, ardour, and
sincerity, with all that fervour, indeed, with which men of his
temperament for the moment pursue every object; but a few years back,
pious, dutiful, and moral, viewing perhaps with intolerance too
youthful all that differed from the opinions and the conduct he had
been educated to admire and follow. And what is he now? The most
lawless of the wild; casting to the winds every salutary principle of
restraint and social discipline, and glorying only in the abandoned
energy of self. Three years ago, you yourself confessed to me, he
reproached you with your father's conduct; now he emulates it. There
is a career which such men must run, and from which no influence can
divert them; it is in their blood. To-day Cadurcis may vow to you
eternal devotion; but, if the world speak truth, Venetia, a month ago
he was equally enamoured of another, and one, too, who cannot be his.
But grant that his sentiments towards you are for the moment sincere;
his imagination broods upon your idea, it transfigures it with a halo
which exists only to his vision. Yield to him; become his bride; and
you will have the mortification of finding that, before six mouths
have elapsed, his restless spirit is already occupied with objects
which may excite your mortification, your disgust, even your horror!'

'Ah, mother! it is not with Plantagenet as with my father; Plantagenet
could not forget Cherbury, he could not forget our childhood,' said
Venetia.

'On the contrary, while you lived together these recollections would
be wearisome, common-place to him; when you had separated, indeed,
mellowed by distance, and the comparative vagueness with which your
absence would invest them, they would become the objects of his muse,
and he would insult you by making the public the confidant of all your
most delicate domestic feelings.'

Lady Annabel rose from her seat, and walked up and down the room,
speaking with an excitement very unusual with her. 'To have all
the soft secrets of your life revealed to the coarse wonder of the
gloating multitude; to find yourself the object of the world's
curiosity, still worse, their pity, their sympathy; to have the sacred
conduct of your hearth canvassed in every circle, and be the grand
subject of the pros and cons of every paltry journal, ah, Venetia! you
know not, you cannot understand, it is impossible you can comprehend,
the bitterness of such a lot.'

'My beloved mother!' said Venetia, with streaming eyes, 'you cannot
have a feeling that I do not share.'

'Venetia, you know not what I had to endure!' exclaimed Lady Annabel,
in a tone of extreme bitterness. 'There is no degree of wretchedness
that you can conceive equal to what has been the life of your mother.
And what has sustained me; what, throughout all my tumultuous
troubles, has been the star on which I have ever gazed? My child! And
am I to lose her now, after all my sufferings, all my hopes that she
at least might be spared my miserable doom? Am I to witness her also a
victim?' Lady Annabel clasped her hands in passionate grief.

'Mother! mother!' exclaimed Venetia, in agony, 'spare yourself, spare
me!'

'Venetia, you know how I have doted upon you; you know how I have
watched and tended you from your infancy. Have I had a thought, a
wish, a hope, a plan? has there been the slightest action of my life,
of which you have not been the object? All mothers feel, but none ever
felt like me; you were my solitary joy.'

Venetia leant her face upon the table at which she was sitting and
sobbed aloud.

'My love was baffled,' Lady Annabel continued. 'I fled, for both our
sakes, from the world in which my family were honoured; I sacrificed
without a sigh, in the very prime of my youth, every pursuit which
interests woman; but I had my child, I had my child!'

'And you have her still!' exclaimed the miserable Venetia. 'Mother,
you have her still!'

'I have schooled my mind,' continued Lady Annabel, still pacing the
room with agitated steps; 'I have disciplined my emotions; I have felt
at my heart the constant the undying pang, and yet I have smiled, that
you might be happy. But I can struggle against my fate no longer. No
longer can I suffer my unparalleled, yes, my unjust doom. What have I
done to merit these afflictions? Now, then, let me struggle no more;
let me die!'

Venetia tried to rise; her limbs refused their office; she tottered;
she fell again into her seat with an hysteric cry.

'Alas! alas!' exclaimed Lady Annabel, 'to a mother, a child is
everything; but to a child, a parent is only a link in the chain of
her existence. It was weakness, it was folly, it was madness to stake
everything on a resource which must fail me. I feel it now, but I feel
it too late.'

Venetia held forth her arms; she could not speak; she was stifled with
her emotion.

'But was it wonderful that I was so weak?' continued her mother, as it
were communing only with herself. 'What child was like mine? Oh! the
joy, the bliss, the hours of rapture that I have passed, in gazing
upon my treasure, and dreaming of all her beauty and her rare
qualities! I was so happy! I was so proud! Ah, Venetia! you know not
how I have loved you!'

Venetia sprang from her seat; she rushed forward with convulsive
energy; she clung to her mother, threw her arms round her neck, and
buried her passionate woe in Lady Annabel's bosom.

Lady Annabel stood for some minutes supporting her speechless and
agitated child; then, as her sobs became fainter, and the tumult of
her grief gradually died away, she bore her to the sofa, and seated
herself by her side, holding Venetia's hand in her own, and ever and
anon soothing her with soft embraces, and still softer words.

At length, in a faint voice, Venetia said, 'Mother, what can I do to
restore the past? How can we be to each other as we were, for this I
cannot bear?'

'Love me, my Venetia, as I love you; be faithful to your mother; do
not disregard her counsel; profit by her errors.'

'I will in all things obey you,' said Venetia, in a low voice; 'there
is no sacrifice I am not prepared to make for your happiness.'

'Let us not talk of sacrifices, my darling child; it is not a
sacrifice that I require. I wish only to prevent your everlasting
misery.'

'What, then, shall I do?'

'Make me only one promise; whatever pledge you give, I feel assured
that no influence, Venetia, will ever induce you to forfeit it.'

'Name it, mother.'

'Promise me never to marry Lord Cadurcis,' said Lady Annabel, in a
whisper, but a whisper of which not a word was lost by the person to
whom it was addressed.

'I promise never to marry, but with your approbation,' said Venetia,
in a solemn voice, and uttering the words with great distinctness.

The countenance of Lady Annabel instantly brightened; she embraced her
child with extreme fondness, and breathed the softest and the sweetest
expressions of gratitude and love.



CHAPTER XV.


When Lady Monteagle discovered that of which her good-natured friends
took care she should not long remain ignorant, that Venetia Herbert
had been the companion of Lord Cadurcis' childhood, and that the most
intimate relations had once subsisted between the two families,
she became the prey of violent jealousy; and the bitterness of her
feelings was not a little increased, when she felt that she had not
only been abandoned, but duped; and that the new beauty, out of his
fancy for whom she had flattered herself she had so triumphantly
rallied him, was an old friend, whom he always admired. She seized the
first occasion, after this discovery, of relieving her feelings, by
a scene so violent, that Cadurcis had never again entered Monteagle
House; and then repenting of this mortifying result, which she had
herself precipitated, she overwhelmed him with letters, which, next
to scenes, were the very things which Lord Cadurcis most heartily
abhorred. These, now indignant, now passionate, now loading him with
reproaches, now appealing to his love, and now to his pity, daily
arrived at his residence, and were greeted at first only with short
and sarcastic replies, and finally by silence. Then the lady solicited
a final interview, and Lord Cadurcis having made an appointment to
quiet her, went out of town the day before to Richmond, to a villa
belonging to Venetia's uncle, and where, among other guests, he was of
course to meet Lady Annabel and her daughter.

The party was a most agreeable one, and assumed an additional interest
with Cadurcis, who had resolved to seize this favourable opportunity
to bring his aspirations to Venetia to a crisis. The day after the
last conversation with her, which we have noticed, he had indeed
boldly called upon the Herberts at their hotel for that purpose, but
without success, as they were again absent from home. He had been
since almost daily in the society of Venetia; but London, to a lover
who is not smiled upon by the domestic circle of his mistress, is a
very unfavourable spot for confidential conversations. A villa life,
with its easy, unembarrassed habits, its gardens and lounging walks,
to say nothing of the increased opportunities resulting from being
together at all hours, and living under the same roof, was more
promising; and here he flattered himself he might defy even the Argus
eye and ceaseless vigilance of his intended mother-in-law, his enemy,
whom he could not propitiate, and whom he now fairly hated.

His cousin George, too, was a guest, and his cousin George was the
confidant of his love. Upon this kind relation devolved the duty, far
from a disagreeable one, of amusing the mother; and as Lady Annabel,
though she relaxed not a jot of the grim courtesy which she ever
extended to Lord Cadurcis, was no longer seriously uneasy as to his
influence after the promise she had exacted from her daughter, it
would seem that these circumstances combined to prevent Lord Cadurcis
from being disappointed at least in the first object which he wished
to obtain, an opportunity.

And yet several days elapsed before this offered itself, passed by
Cadurcis, however, very pleasantly in the presence of the being he
loved, and very judiciously too, for no one could possibly be more
amiable and ingratiating than our friend. Every one present, except
Lady Annabel, appeared to entertain for him as much affection as
admiration: those who had only met him in throngs were quite surprised
how their superficial observation and the delusive reports of the
world had misled them. As for his hostess, whom it had ever been his
study to please, he had long won her heart; and, as she could not
be blind to his projects and pretensions, she heartily wished him
success, assisted him with all her efforts, and desired nothing more
sincerely than that her niece should achieve such a conquest, and she
obtain so distinguished a nephew.

Notwithstanding her promise to her mother, Venetia felt justified in
making no alteration in her conduct to one whom she still sincerely
loved; and, under the immediate influence of his fascination, it was
often, when she was alone, that she mourned with a sorrowing heart
over the opinion which her mother entertained of him. Could it indeed
be possible that Plantagenet, the same Plantagenet she had known so
early and so long, to her invariably so tender and so devoted, could
entail on her, by their union, such unspeakable and inevitable misery?
Whatever might be the view adopted by her mother of her conduct,
Venetia felt every hour more keenly that it was a sacrifice, and the
greatest; and she still indulged in a vague yet delicious dream,
that Lady Annabel might ultimately withdraw the harsh and perhaps
heart-breaking interdict she had so rigidly decreed.

'Cadurcis,' said his cousin to him one morning, 'we are all going
to Hampton Court. Now is your time; Lady Annabel, the Vernons, and
myself, will fill one carriage; I have arranged that. Look out, and
something may be done. Speak to the Countess.'

Accordingly Lord Cadurcis hastened to make a suggestion to a friend
always flattered by his notice. 'My dear friend,' he said in his
softest tone, 'let you and Venetia and myself manage to be together;
it will be so delightful; we shall quite enjoy ourselves.'

The Countess did not require this animating compliment to effect the
object which Cadurcis did not express. She had gradually fallen
into the unacknowledged conspiracy against her sister-in-law, whose
prejudice against her friend she had long discovered, and had now
ceased to combat. Two carriages, and one filled as George had
arranged, accordingly drove gaily away; and Venetia, and her aunt, and
Lord Cadurcis were to follow them on horseback. They rode with delight
through the splendid avenues of Bushey, and Cadurcis was never in a
lighter or happier mood.

The month of May was in its decline, and the cloudless sky and the
balmy air such as suited so agreeable a season. The London season was
approaching its close; for the royal birthday was, at the period of
our history, generally the signal of preparation for country quarters.
The carriages arrived long before the riding party, for they had
walked their steeds, and they found a messenger who requested them to
join their friends in the apartments which they were visiting.

'For my part,' said Cadurcis, 'I love the sun that rarely shines in
this land. I feel no inclination to lose the golden hours in these
gloomy rooms. What say you, ladies fair, to a stroll in the gardens?
It will be doubly charming after our ride.'

His companions cheerfully assented, and they walked away,
congratulating themselves on their escape from the wearisome amusement
of palace-hunting, straining their eyes to see pictures hung at a
gigantic height, and solemnly wandering through formal apartments full
of state beds and massy cabinets and modern armour.

Taking their way along the terrace, they struck at length into a less
formal path. At length the Countess seated herself on a bench. 'I must
rest,' she said, 'but you, young people, may roam about; only do not
lose me.'

'Come, Venetia!' said Lord Cadurcis.

Venetia was hesitating; she did not like to leave her aunt alone, but
the Countess encouraged her, 'If you will not go, you will only make
me continue walking,' she said. And so Venetia proceeded, and for the
first time since her visit was alone with Plantagenet.

'I quite love your aunt,' said Lord Cadurcis.

'It is difficult indeed not to love her,' said Venetia.

'Ah, Venetia! I wish your mother was like your aunt,' he continued.
It was an observation which was not heard without some emotion by his
companion, though it was imperceptible. 'Venetia,' said Cadurcis,
'when I recollect old days, how strange it seems that we now never
should be alone, but by some mere accident, like this, for instance.'

'It is no use thinking of old days,' said Venetia.

'No use! said Cadurcis. 'I do not like to hear you say that, Venetia.
Those are some of the least agreeable words that were ever uttered
by that mouth. I cling to old days; they are my only joy and my only
hope.'

'They are gone,' said Venetia.

'But may they not return?' said Cadurcis.

'Never,' said Venetia, mournfully.

They had walked on to a marble fountain of gigantic proportions and
elaborate workmanship, an assemblage of divinities and genii, all
spouting water in fantastic attitudes.

'Old days,' said Plantagenet, 'are like the old fountain at Cadurcis,
dearer to me than all this modern splendour.'

'The old fountain at Cadurcis,' said Venetia, musingly, and gazing on
the water with an abstracted air, 'I loved it well!'

'Venetia,' said her companion, in a tone of extreme tenderness, yet
not untouched with melancholy, 'dear Venetia, let us return, and
return together, to that old fountain and those old days!'

Venetia shook her head. 'Ah, Plantagenet!' she exclaimed in a mournful
voice, 'we must not speak of these things.'

'Why not, Venetia?' exclaimed Lord Cadurcis, eagerly. 'Why should we
be estranged from each other? I love you; I love only you; never
have I loved another. And you, have you forgotten all our youthful
affection? You cannot, Venetia. Our childhood can never be a blank.'

'I told you, when first we met, my heart was unchanged,' said Venetia.

'Remember the vows I made to you when last at Cherbury,' said
Cadurcis. 'Years have flown on, Venetia; but they find me urging the
same. At any rate, now I know myself; at any rate, I am not now an
obscure boy; yet what is manhood, and what is fame, without the charm
of my infancy and my youth! Yes, Venetia! you must, you will he mine?'

'Plantagenet,' she replied, in a solemn tone, 'yours I never can be.'

'You do not, then, love me?' said Cadurcis reproachfully, and in a
voice of great feeling.

'It is impossible for you to be loved more than I love you,' said
Venetia.

'My own Venetia!' said Cadurcis; 'Venetia that I dote on! what does
this mean? Why, then, will you not be mine?'

'I cannot; there is an obstacle, an insuperable obstacle.'

'Tell it me,' said Cadurcis eagerly; 'I will overcome it.'

'I have promised never to marry without the approbation of my mother;
her approbation you never can obtain.'

Cadurcis' countenance fell; this was an obstacle which he felt that
even he could not overcome.

'I told you your mother hated me, Venetia.' And then, as she did not
reply, he continued, 'You confess it, I see you confess it. Once you
flattered me I was mistaken; but now, now you confess it.'

'Hatred is a word which I cannot understand,' replied Venetia. 'My
mother has reasons for disapproving my union with you; not founded on
the circumstances of your life, and therefore removable (for I know
what the world says, Plantagenet, of you), but I have confidence in
your love, and that is nothing; but founded on your character, on your
nature; they may be unjust, but they are insuperable, and I must yield
to them.'

'You have another parent, Venetia,' said Cadurcis, in a tone of almost
irresistible softness, 'the best and greatest of men! Once you told me
that his sanction was necessary to your marriage. I will obtain it.
O Venetia! be mine, and we will join him; join that ill-fated and
illustrious being who loves you with a passion second only to mine;
him who has addressed you in language which rests on every lip, and
has thrilled many a heart that you even can never know. My adored
Venetia! picture to yourself, for one moment, a life with him; resting
on my bosom, consecrated by his paternal love! Let us quit this mean
and miserable existence, which we now pursue, which never could have
suited us; let us shun for ever this dull and degrading life, that is
not life, if life be what I deem it; let us fly to those beautiful
solitudes where he communes with an inspiring nature; let us, let us
be happy!'

He uttered these last words in a tone of melting tenderness; he leant
forward his head, and his gaze caught hers, which was fixed upon the
water. Her hand was pressed suddenly in his; his eye glittered, his
lip seemed still speaking; he awaited his doom.

The countenance of Venetia was quite pale, but it was disturbed. You
might see, as it were, the shadowy progress of thought, and mark the
tumultuous passage of conflicting passions. Her mind, for a moment,
was indeed a chaos. There was a terrible conflict between love and
duty. At length a tear, one solitary tear, burst from her burning
eye-ball, and stole slowly down her cheek; it relieved her pain. She
pressed Cadurcis hand, and speaking in a hollow voice, and with a look
vague and painful, she said, 'I am a victim, but I am resolved. I
never will desert her who devoted herself to me.'

Cadurcis quitted her hand rather abruptly, and began walking up and
down on the turf that surrounded the fountain.

'Devoted herself to you!' he exclaimed with a fiendish laugh, and
speaking, as was his custom, between his teeth. 'Commend me to such
devotion. Not content with depriving you of a father, now forsooth
she must bereave you of a lover too! And this is a mother, a devoted
mother! The cold-blooded, sullen, selfish, inexorable tyrant!'

'Plantagenet!' exclaimed Venetia with great animation.

'Nay, I will speak. Victim, indeed! You have ever been her slave. She
a devoted mother! Ay! as devoted as a mother as she was dutiful as a
wife! She has no heart; she never had a feeling. And she cajoles you
with her love, her devotion, the stern hypocrite!'

'I must leave you,' said Venetia; 'I cannot bear this.'

'Oh! the truth, the truth is precious,' said Cadurcis, taking her
hand, and preventing her from moving. 'Your mother, your devoted
mother, has driven one man of genius from her bosom, and his country.
Yet there is another. Deny me what I ask, and to-morrow's sun shall
light me to another land; to this I will never return; I will blend
my tears with your father's, and I will publish to Europe the double
infamy of your mother. I swear it solemnly. Still I stand here,
Venetia; prepared, if you will but smile upon me, to be her son, her
dutiful son. Nay! her slave like you. She shall not murmur. I will be
dutiful; she shall be devoted; we will all be happy,' he added in a
softer tone. 'Now, now, Venetia, my happiness is on the stake, now,
now.'

'I have spoken,' said Venetia. 'My heart may break, but my purpose
shall not falter.'

'Then my curse upon your mother's head?' said Cadurcis, with terrible
vehemency. 'May heaven rain all its plagues upon her, the Hecate!'

'I will listen no more,' exclaimed Venetia indignantly, and she moved
away. She had proceeded some little distance when she paused and
looked back; Cadurcis was still at the fountain, but he did not
observe her. She remembered his sudden departure from Cherbury; she
did not doubt that, in the present instance, he would leave them as
abruptly, and that he would keep his word so solemnly given. Her heart
was nearly breaking, but she could not bear the idea of parting in
bitterness with the being whom, perhaps, she loved best in the world.
She stopt, she called his name in a voice low indeed, but in that
silent spot it reached him. He joined her immediately, but with a slow
step. When he had reached her, he said, without any animation and in a
frigid tone, 'I believe you called me?'

Venetia burst into tears. 'I cannot bear to part in anger,
Plantagenet. I wished to say farewell in kindness. I shall always pray
for your happiness. God bless you, Plantagenet!'

Lord Cadurcis made no reply, though for a moment he seemed about to
speak; he bowed, and, as Venetia approached her aunt, he turned his
steps in a different direction.



CHAPTER XVI.


Venetia stopped for a moment to collect herself before she joined
her aunt, but it was impossible to conceal her agitation from the
Countess. They had not, however, been long together before they
observed their friends in the distance, who had now quitted the
palace. Venetia made the utmost efforts to compose herself, and not
unsuccessful ones. She was sufficiently calm on their arrival, to
listen, if not to converse. The Countess, with all the tact of a
woman, covered her niece's confusion by her animated description of
their agreeable ride, and their still more pleasant promenade; and in
a few minutes the whole party were walking back to their carriages.
When they had arrived at the inn, they found Lord Cadurcis, to
whose temporary absence the Countess had alluded with some casual
observation which she flattered herself was very satisfactory.
Cadurcis appeared rather sullen, and the Countess, with feminine
quickness, suddenly discovered that both herself and her niece were
extremely fatigued, and that they had better return in the carriages.
There was one vacant place, and some of the gentlemen must ride
outside. Lord Cadurcis, however, said that he should return as he
came, and the grooms might lead back the ladies' horses; and so in a
few minutes the carriages had driven off.

Our solitary equestrian, however, was no sooner mounted than he put
his horse to its speed, and never drew in his rein until he reached
Hyde Park Corner. The rapid motion accorded with his tumultuous mood.
He was soon at home, gave his horse to a servant, for he had left
his groom behind, rushed into his library, tore up a letter of Lady
Monteagle's with a demoniac glance, and rang his bell with such force
that it broke. His valet, not unused to such ebullitions, immediately
appeared.

'Has anything happened, Spalding?' said his lordship.

'Nothing particular, my lord. Her ladyship sent every day, and called
herself twice, but I told her your lordship was in Yorkshire.'

'That was right; I saw a letter from her. When did it come?'

'It has been here several days, my lord.'

'Mind, I am at home to nobody; I am not in town.'

The valet bowed and disappeared. Cadurcis threw himself into an easy
chair, stretched his legs, sighed, and then swore; then suddenly
starting up, he seized a mass of letters that were lying on the table,
and hurled them to the other end of the apartment, dashed several
books to the ground, kicked down several chairs that were in his way,
and began pacing the room with his usual troubled step; and so he
continued until the shades of twilight entered his apartment. Then he
pulled down the other bell-rope, and Mr. Spalding again appeared.

'Order posthorses for to-morrow,' said his lordship.

'Where to, my lord?'

'I don't know; order the horses.'

Mr. Spalding again bowed and disappeared.

In a few minutes he heard a great stamping and confusion in his
master's apartment, and presently the door opened and his master's
voice was heard calling him repeatedly in a very irritable tone.

'Why are there no bells in this cursed room?' inquired Lord Cadurcis.

'The ropes are broken, my lord.'

'Why are they broken?'

'I can't say, my lord,'

'I cannot leave this house for a day but I find everything in
confusion. Bring me some Burgundy.'

'Yes, my lord. There is a young lad, my lord, called a few minutes
back, and asked for your lordship. He says he has something very
particular to say to your lordship. I told him your lordship was out
of town. He said your lordship would wish very much to see him, and
that he had come from the Abbey.'

'The Abbey!' said Cadurcis, in a tone of curiosity. 'Why did you not
show him in?'

'Your lordship said you were not at home to anybody.'

'Idiot! Is this anybody? Of course I would have seen him. What the
devil do I keep you for, sir? You seem to me to have lost your head.'

Mr. Spalding retired.

'The Abbey! that is droll,' said Cadurcis. 'I owe some duties to the
poor Abbey. I should not like to quit England, and leave anybody in
trouble at the Abbey. I wish I had seen the lad. Some son of a tenant
who has written to me, and I have never opened his letters. I am
sorry.'

In a few minutes Mr. Spalding again entered the room. 'The young lad
has called again, my lord. He says he thinks your lordship has come to
town, and he wishes to see your lordship very much.'

'Bring lights and show him up. Show him up first.'

Accordingly, a country lad was ushered into the room, although it was
so dusky that Cadurcis could only observe his figure standing at the
door.

'Well, my good fellow,' said Cadurcis; 'what do you want? Are you in
any trouble?'

The boy hesitated.

'Speak out, my good fellow; do not be alarmed. If I can serve you, or
any one at the Abbey, I will do it.'

Here Mr. Spalding entered with the lights. The lad held a cotton
handkerchief to his face; he appeared to be weeping; all that was
seen of his head were his locks of red hair. He seemed a country lad,
dressed in a long green coat with silver buttons, and he twirled in
his disengaged hand a peasant's white hat.

'That will do, Spalding,' said Lord Cadurcis. 'Leave the room. Now,
my good fellow, my time is precious; but speak out, and do not be
afraid.'

'Cadurcis!' said the lad in a sweet and trembling voice.

'Gertrude, by G--d!' exclaimed Lord Cadurcis, starting. 'What infernal
masquerade is this?'

'Is it a greater disguise than I have to bear every hour of my life?'
exclaimed Lady Monteagle, advancing. 'Have I not to bear a smiling
face with a breaking heart?'

'By Jove! a scene,' exclaimed Cadurcis in a piteous tone.

'A scene!' exclaimed Lady Monteagle, bursting into a flood of
indignant tears. 'Is this the way the expression of my feelings is
ever to be stigmatised? Barbarous man!'

Cadurcis stood with his back to the fireplace, with his lips
compressed, and his hands under his coat-tails. He was resolved that
nothing should induce him to utter a word. He looked the picture of
dogged indifference.

'I know where you have been,' continued Lady Monteagle. 'You have been
to Richmond; you have been with Miss Herbert. Yes! I know all. I am a
victim, but I will not be a dupe. Yorkshire indeed! Paltry coward!'

Cadurcis hummed an air.

'And this is Lord Cadurcis!' continued the lady. 'The sublime,
ethereal Lord Cadurcis, condescending to the last refuge of the
meanest, most commonplace mind, a vulgar, wretched lie! What could
have been expected from such a mind? You may delude the world, but I
know you. Yes, sir! I know you. And I will let everybody know you. I
will tear away the veil of charlatanism with which you have enveloped
yourself. The world shall at length discover the nature of the idol
they have worshipped. All your meanness, all your falsehood, all your
selfishness, all your baseness, shall be revealed. I may be spurned,
but at any rate I will be revenged!'

Lord Cadurcis yawned.

'Insulting, pitiful wretch!' continued the lady. 'And you think that
I wish to hear you speak! You think the sound of that deceitful voice
has any charm for me! You are mistaken, sir! I have listened to you
too long. It was not to remonstrate with you that I resolved to see
you. The tones of your voice can only excite my disgust. I am here to
speak myself; to express to you the contempt, the detestation, the
aversion, the scorn, the hatred, which I entertain for you!'

Lord Cadurcis whistled.

The lady paused; she had effected the professed purport of her visit;
she ought now to have retired, and Cadurcis would most willingly have
opened the door for her, and bowed her out of his apartment. But her
conduct did not exactly accord with her speech. She intimated no
intention of moving. Her courteous friend retained his position, and
adhered to his policy of silence. There was a dead pause, and then
Lady Monteagle, throwing herself into a chair, went into hysterics.

Lord Cadurcis, following her example, also seated himself, took up a
book, and began to read.

The hysterics became fainter and fainter; they experienced all those
gradations of convulsive noise with which Lord Cadurcis was so well
acquainted; at length they subsided into sobs and sighs. Finally,
there was again silence, now only disturbed by the sound of a page
turned by Lord Cadurcis.

Suddenly the lady sprang from her seat, and firmly grasping the arm of
Cadurcis, threw herself on her knees at his side.

'Cadurcis!' she exclaimed, in a tender tone, 'do you love me?'

'My dear Gertrude,' said Lord Cadurcis, coolly, but rather regretting
he had quitted his original and less assailable posture, 'you know I
like quiet women.'

'Cadurcis, forgive me!' murmured the lady. 'Pity me! Think only how
miserable I am!'

'Your misery is of your own making,' said Lord Cadurcis. 'What
occasion is there for any of these extraordinary proceedings? I have
told you a thousand times that I cannot endure scenes. Female society
is a relaxation to me; you convert it into torture. I like to sail
upon a summer sea; and you always will insist upon a white squall.'

'But you have deserted me!'

'I never desert any one,' replied Cadurcis calmly, raising her from
her supplicating attitude, and leading her to a seat. 'The last time
we met, you banished me your presence, and told me never to speak to
you again. Well, I obeyed your orders, as I always do.'

'But I did not mean what I said,' said Lady Monteagle.

'How should I know that?' said Lord Cadurcis.

'Your heart ought to have assured you,' said the lady.

'The tongue is a less deceptive organ than the heart,' replied her
companion.

'Cadurcis,' said the lady, looking at her strange disguise, 'what do
you advise me to do?'

'To go home; and if you like I will order my vis-à-vis for you
directly,' and he rose from his seat to give the order.

'Ah!' you are sighing to get rid of me!' said the lady, in a
reproachful, but still subdued tone.

'Why, the fact is, Gertrude, I prefer calling upon you, to your
calling upon me. When I am fitted for your society, I seek it; and,
when you are good-tempered, always with pleasure; when I am not in the
mood for it, I stay away. And when I am at home, I wish to see no one.
I have business now, and not very agreeable business. I am disturbed
by many causes, and you could not have taken a step which could have
given me greater annoyance than the strange one you have adopted this
evening.'

'I am sorry for it now,' said the lady, weeping. 'When shall I see you
again?'

'I will call upon you to-morrow, and pray receive me with smiles.'

'I ever will,' said the lady, weeping plenteously. 'It is all my
fault; you are ever too good. There is not in the world a kinder and
more gentle being than yourself. I shall never forgive myself for this
exposure.

'Would you like to take anything?' said Lord Cadurcis: 'I am sure you
must feel exhausted. You see I am drinking wine; it is my only dinner
to-day, but I dare say there is some salvolatile in the house; I dare
say, when my maids go into hysterics, they have it!'

'Ah, mocker!' said Lady Monteagle; 'but I can pardon everything, if
you will only let me see you.'

'Au revoir! then,' said his lordship; 'I am sure the carriage must be
ready. I hear it. Come, Mr. Gertrude, settle your wig; it is quite
awry. By Jove! we might as well go to the Pantheon, as you are ready
dressed. I have a domino.' And so saying, Lord Cadurcis handed the
lady to his carriage, and pressed her lightly by the hand, as he
reiterated his promise of calling at Monteagle House the next day.



CHAPTER XVII.


Lord Cadurcis, unhappy at home, and wearied of the commonplace
resources of society, had passed the night in every species of
dissipation; his principal companion being that same young nobleman in
whose company he had been when he first met Venetia at Ranelagh. The
morn was breaking when Cadurcis and his friend arrived at his door.
They had settled to welcome the dawn with a beaker of burnt Burgundy.

'Now, my dear Scrope,' said Cadurcis, 'now for quiet and philosophy.
The laughter of those infernal women, the rattle of those cursed dice,
and the oaths of those ruffians are still ringing in my ears. Let us
compose ourselves, and moralise.'

Accustomed to their master's habits, who generally turned night into
day, the household were all on the alert; a blazing fire greeted them,
and his lordship ordered instantly a devil and the burnt Burgundy.

'Sit you down here, my Scrope; that is the seat of honour, and you
shall have it. What is this, a letter? and marked "Urgent," and in a
man's hand. It must be read. Some good fellow nabbed by a bailiff,
or planted by his mistress. Signals of distress! We must assist our
friends.'

The flame of the fire fell upon Lord Cadurcis' face as he read the
letter; he was still standing, while his friend was stretched out in
his easy chair, and inwardly congratulating himself on his comfortable
prospects. The countenance of Cadurcis did not change, but he bit
his lip, and read the letter twice, and turned it over, but with a
careless air; and then he asked what o'clock it was. The servant
informed him, and left the room.

'Scrope,' said Lord Cadurcis, quietly, and still standing, 'are you
very drunk?'

'My dear fellow, I am as fresh as possible; you will see what justice
I shall do to the Burgundy.'

'"Burgundy to-morrow," as the Greek proverb saith,' observed Lord
Cadurcis. 'Read that.'

His companion had the pleasure of perusing a challenge from Lord
Monteagle, couched in no gentle terms, and requesting an immediate
meeting.

'Well, I never heard anything more ridiculous in my life,' said Lord
Scrope. 'Does he want satisfaction because you have planted her?'

'D--n her!' said Lord Cadurcis. 'She has occasioned me a thousand
annoyances, and now she has spoilt our supper. I don't know, though;
he wants to fight quickly, let us fight at once. I will send him a
cartel now, and then we can have our Burgundy. You will go out with
me, of course? Hyde Park, six o'clock, and short swords.'

Lord Cadurcis accordingly sat down, wrote his letter, and dispatched
it by Mr. Spalding to Monteagle House, with peremptory instructions to
bring back an answer. The companions then turned to their devil.

'This is a bore, Cadurcis,' said Lord Scrope.

'It is. I cannot say I am very valorous in a bad cause. I do not like
to fight "upon compulsion," I confess. If I had time to screw my
courage up, I dare say I should do it very well. I dare say, for
instance, if ever I am publicly executed, I shall die game.'

'God forbid!' said Lord Scrope. 'I say, Cadurcis, I would not drink
any Burgundy if I were you. I shall take a glass of cold water.'

'Ah! you are only a second, and so you want to cool your valour,' said
Cadurcis. 'You have all the fun.'

'But how came this blow-up?' inquired Lord Scrope. 'Letters
discovered, eh? Because I thought you never saw her now?'

'By Jove! my dear fellow, she has been the whole evening here
masquerading it like a very vixen, as she is; and now she has
committed us both. I have burnt her letters, without reading them,
for the last month. Now I call that honourable; because, as I had no
longer any claim on her heart, I would not think of trenching on her
correspondence. But honour, what is honour in these dishonourable
days? This is my reward. She contrived to enter my house this evening,
dressed like a farmer's boy, and you may imagine what ensued; rage,
hysterics, and repentance. I am sure if Monteagle had seen me, he
would not have been jealous. I never opened my mouth, but, like a
fool, sent her home in my carriage; and now I am going to be run
through the body for my politeness.'

In this light strain, blended, however, with more decorous feeling on
the part of Lord Scrope, the young men conversed until the messenger's
return with Lord Monteagle's answer. In Hyde Park, in the course of an
hour, himself and Lord Cadurcis, attended by their friends, were to
meet.

'Well, there is nothing like having these affairs over,' said
Cadurcis; 'and to confess the truth, my dear Scrope, I should not much
care if Monteagle were to despatch me to my fathers; for, in the whole
course of my miserable life, and miserable, whatever the world may
think, it has been, I never felt much more wretched than I have during
the last four-and-twenty hours. By Jove! do you know I was going to
leave England this morning, and I have ordered my horses, too.'

'Leave England!'

'Yes, leave England; and where I never intended to return.'

'Well, you are the oddest person I ever knew, Cadurcis. I should have
thought you the happiest person that ever existed. Everybody admires,
everybody envies you. You seem to have everything that man can desire.
Your life is a perpetual triumph.'

'Ah! my dear Scrope, there is a skeleton in every house. If you knew
all, you would not envy me.'

'Well, we have not much time,' said Lord Scrope; 'have you any
arrangements to make?'

'None. My property goes to George, who is my only relative, without
the necessity of a will, otherwise I should leave everything to him,
for he is a good fellow, and my blood is in his veins. Just you
remember, Scrope, that I will be buried with my mother. That is all;
and now let us get ready.'

The sun had just risen when the young men went forth, and the day
promised to be as brilliant as the preceding one. Not a soul was
stirring in the courtly quarter in which Cadurcis resided; even the
last watchman had stolen to repose. They called a hackney coach at the
first stand they reached, and were soon at the destined spot. They
were indeed before their time, and strolling by the side of the
Serpentine, Cadurcis said, 'Yesterday morning was one of the happiest
of my life, Scrope, and I was in hopes that an event would have
occurred in the course of the day that might have been my salvation.
If it had, by-the-bye, I should not have returned to town, and got
into this cursed scrape. However, the gods were against me, and now I
am reckless.'

Now Lord Monteagle and his friend, who was Mr. Horace Pole, appeared.
Cadurcis advanced, and bowed; Lord Monteagle returned his bow,
stiffly, but did not speak. The seconds chose their ground, the
champions disembarrassed themselves of their coats, and their swords
crossed. It was a brief affair. After a few passes, Cadurcis received
a slight wound in his arm, while his weapon pierced his antagonist in
the breast. Lord Monteagle dropped his sword and fell.

'You had better fly, Lord Cadurcis,' said Mr. Horace Pole. 'This is a
bad business, I fear; we have a surgeon at hand, and he can help us to
the coach that is waiting close by.'

'I thank you, sir, I never fly,' said Lord Cadurcis; 'and I shall wait
here until I see your principal safely deposited in his carriage; he
will have no objection to my friend, Lord Scrope, assisting him, who,
by his presence to-day, has only fulfilled one of the painful duties
that society imposes upon us.'

The surgeon gave an unfavourable report of the wound, which he dressed
on the field. Lord Monteagle was then borne to his carriage, which was
at hand, and Lord Scrope, the moment he had seen the equipage move
slowly off, returned to his friend.

'Well Cadurcis,' he exclaimed in an anxious voice, 'I hope you have
not killed him. What will you do now?'

'I shall go home, and await the result, my dear Scrope. I am sorry for
you, for this may get you into trouble. For myself, I care nothing.'

'You bleed!' said Lord Scrope.

'A scratch. I almost wish our lots had been the reverse. Come, Scrope,
help me on with my coat. Yesterday I lost my heart, last night I lost
my money, and perhaps to-morrow I shall lose my arm. It seems we are
not in luck.



CHAPTER XVIII.


It has been well observed, that no spectacle is so ridiculous as the
British public in one of its periodical fits of morality. In general,
elopements, divorces, and family quarrels pass with little notice. We
read the scandal, talk about it for a day, and forget it. But, once in
six or seven years, our virtue becomes outrageous. We cannot suffer
the laws of religion and decency to be violated. We must make a
stand against vice. We must teach libertines that the English people
appreciate the importance of domestic ties. Accordingly, some
unfortunate man, in no respect more depraved than hundreds whose
offences have been treated with lenity, is singled out as an expiatory
sacrifice. If he has children, they are to be taken from him. If he
has a profession, he is to be driven from it. He is cut by the higher
orders, and hissed by the lower. He is, in truth, a sort of whipping
boy, by whose vicarious agonies all the other transgressors of the
same class are, it is supposed, sufficiently chastised. We reflect
very complacently on our own severity, and compare, with great pride,
the high standard of morals established in England, with the Parisian
laxity. At length, our anger is satiated, our victim is ruined and
heart-broken, and our virtue goes quietly to sleep for seven years
more.

These observations of a celebrated writer apply to the instance of
Lord Cadurcis; he was the periodical victim, the scapegoat of English
morality, sent into the wilderness with all the crimes and curses of
the multitude on his head. Lord Cadurcis had certainly committed a
great crime: not his intrigue with Lady Monteagle, for that surely was
not an unprecedented offence; not his duel with her husband, for after
all it was a duel in self-defence; and, at all events, divorces
and duels, under any circumstances, would scarcely have excited or
authorised the storm which was now about to burst over the late
spoiled child of society. But Lord Cadurcis had been guilty of the
offence which, of all offences, is punished most severely: Lord
Cadurcis had been overpraised. He had excited too warm an interest;
and the public, with its usual justice, was resolved to chastise him
for its own folly.

There are no fits of caprice so hasty and so violent as those of
society. Society, indeed, is all passion and no heart. Cadurcis, in
allusion to his sudden and singular success, had been in the habit of
saying to his intimates, that he 'woke one morning and found himself
famous.' He might now observe, 'I woke one morning and found myself
infamous.' Before twenty-four hours had passed over his duel with Lord
Monteagle, he found himself branded by every journal in London, as an
unprincipled and unparalleled reprobate. The public, without waiting
to think or even to inquire after the truth, instantly selected as
genuine the most false and the most flagrant of the fifty libellous
narratives that were circulated of the transaction. Stories,
inconsistent with themselves, were all alike eagerly believed, and
what evidence there might be for any one of them, the virtuous people,
by whom they were repeated, neither cared nor knew. The public, in
short, fell into a passion with their darling, and, ashamed of their
past idolatry, nothing would satisfy them but knocking the divinity on
the head.

Until Lord Monteagle, to the great regret of society, who really
wished him to die in order that his antagonist might commit murder,
was declared out of danger, Lord Cadurcis never quitted his house, and
he was not a little surprised that scarcely a human being called upon
him except his cousin, who immediately flew to his succour. George,
indeed, would gladly have spared Cadurcis any knowledge of the storm
that was raging against him, and which he flattered himself would blow
over before Cadurcis was again abroad; but he was so much with
his cousin, and Cadurcis was so extremely acute and naturally so
suspicious, that this was impossible. Moreover, his absolute desertion
by his friends, and the invectives and the lampoons with which the
newspapers abounded, and of which he was the subject, rendered any
concealment out of the question, and poor George passed his life in
running about contradicting falsehoods, stating truth, fighting his
cousin's battles, and then reporting to him, in the course of the day,
the state of the campaign.

Cadurcis, being a man of infinite sensibility, suffered tortures. He
had been so habituated to panegyric, that the slightest criticism
ruffled him, and now his works had suddenly become the subject of
universal and outrageous attack; having lived only in a cloud of
incense, he suddenly found himself in a pillory of moral indignation;
his writings, his habits, his temper, his person, were all alike
ridiculed and vilified. In a word, Cadurcis, the petted, idolised,
spoiled Cadurcis, was enduring that charming vicissitude in a
prosperous existence, styled a reaction; and a conqueror, who deemed
himself invincible, suddenly vanquished, could scarcely be more
thunderstruck, or feel more impotently desperate.

The tortures of his mind, however, which this sudden change in his
position and in the opinions of society, were of themselves competent
to occasion to one of so impetuous and irritable a temperament, and
who ever magnified both misery and delight with all the creative
power of a brooding imagination, were excited in his case even to the
liveliest agony, when he reminded himself of the situation in which he
was now placed with Venetia. All hope of ever obtaining her hand had
now certainly vanished, and he doubted whether even her love could
survive the quick occurrence, after his ardent vows, of this degrading
and mortifying catastrophe. He execrated Lady Monteagle with the most
heartfelt rage, and when he remembered that all this time the world
believed him the devoted admirer of this vixen, his brain was
stimulated almost to the verge of insanity. His only hope of the
truth reaching Venetia was through the medium of his cousin, and he
impressed daily upon Captain Cadurcis the infinite consolation it
would prove to him, if he could contrive to make her aware of the real
facts of the case. According to the public voice, Lady Monteagle at
his solicitation had fled to his house, and remained there, and her
husband forced his entrance into the mansion in the middle of the
night, while his wife escaped disguised in Lord Cadurcis' clothes.
She did not, however, reach Monteagle House in time enough to
escape detection by her lord, who had instantly sought and obtained
satisfaction from his treacherous friend. All the monstrous inventions
of the first week had now subsided into this circumstantial and
undoubted narrative; at least this was the version believed by those
who had been Cadurcis' friends. They circulated the authentic tale
with the most considerate assiduity, and shook their heads, and said
it was too bad, and that he must not be countenanced.

The moment Lord Monteagle was declared out of danger, Lord Cadurcis
made his appearance in public. He walked into Brookes', and everybody
seemed suddenly so deeply interested in the newspapers, that you might
have supposed they had brought intelligence of a great battle, or a
revolution, or a change of ministry at the least. One or two men spoke
to him, who had never presumed to address him at any other time, and
he received a faint bow from a distinguished nobleman, who had ever
professed for him the greatest consideration and esteem.

Cadurcis mounted his horse and rode down to the House of Lords. There
was a debate of some public interest, and a considerable crowd was
collected round the Peers' entrance. The moment Lord Cadurcis was
recognised, the multitude began hooting. He was agitated, and grinned
a ghastly smile at the rabble. But he dismounted, without further
annoyance, and took his seat. Not a single peer of his own party spoke
to him. The leader of the Opposition, indeed, bowed to him, and, in
the course of the evening, he received, from one or two more of his
party, some formal evidences of frigid courtesy. The tone of his
reception by his friends could not be concealed from the ministerial
party. It was soon detected, and generally whispered, that Lord
Cadurcis was cut. Nevertheless, he sat out the debate and voted. The
house broke up. He felt lonely; his old friend, the Bishop of----, who
had observed all that had occurred, and who might easily have avoided
him, came forward, however, in the most marked manner, and, in a tone
which everybody heard, said, 'How do you do, Lord Cadurcis? I am very
glad to see you,' shaking his hand most cordially. This made a great
impression. Several of the Tory Lords, among them Venetia's uncle, now
advanced and sainted him. He received their advances with a haughty,
but not disdainful, courtesy; but when his Whig friends, confused, now
hurried to encumber him with their assistance, he treated them with
the scorn which they well deserved.

'Will you take a seat in my carriage home, Lord Cadurcis?' said his
leader, for it was notorious that Cadurcis had been mobbed on his
arrival.

'Thank you, my lord,' said Cadurcis, speaking very audibly, 'I
prefer returning as I came. We are really both of us such unpopular
personages, that your kindness would scarcely be prudent.'

The house had been full; there was a great scuffle and confusion as
the peers were departing; the mob, now considerable, were prepared for
the appearance of Lord Cadurcis, and their demeanour was menacing.
Some shouted out his name; then it was repeated with odious and
vindictive epithets, followed by ferocious yells. A great many
peers collected round Cadurcis, and entreated him not to return on
horseback. It must be confessed that genuine and considerable feeling
was now shown by all men of all parties. And indeed to witness this
young, and noble, and gifted creature, but a few days back the idol
of the nation, and from whom a word, a glance even, was deemed the
greatest and most gratifying distinction, whom all orders, classes,
and conditions of men had combined to stimulate with multiplied
adulation, with all the glory and ravishing delights of the world, as
it were, forced upon him, to see him thus assailed with the savage
execrations of all those vile things who exult in the fall of
everything that is great, and the abasement of everything that is
noble, was indeed a spectacle which might have silenced malice and
satisfied envy!

'My carriage is most heartily at your service, Lord Cadurcis,' said
the noble leader of the government in the upper house; 'you can enter
it without the slightest suspicion by these ruffians.' 'Lord Cadurcis;
my dear lord; my good lord, for our sakes, if not for your own;
Cadurcis, dear Cadurcis, my good Cadurcis, it is madness, folly,
insanity; a mob will do anything, and an English mob is viler than
all; for Heaven's sake!' Such were a few of the varied exclamations
which resounded on all sides, but which produced on the person to whom
they were addressed only the result of his desiring the attendant to
call for his horses.

The lobby was yet full; it was a fine thing in the light of the
archway to see Cadurcis spring into his saddle. Instantly there was a
horrible yell. Yet in spite of all their menaces, the mob were for a
time awed by his courage; they made way for him; he might even have
rode quickly on for some few yards, but he would not; he reined his
fiery steed into a slow but stately pace, and, with a countenance
scornful and composed, he continued his progress, apparently
unconscious of impediment. Meanwhile, the hooting continued without
abatement, increasing indeed, after the first comparative pause,
in violence and menace. At length a bolder ruffian, excited by the
uproar, rushed forward and seized Cadurcis' bridle. Cadurcis struck
the man over the eyes with his whip, and at the same time touched his
horse with his spur, and the assailant was dashed to the ground. This
seemed a signal for a general assault. It commenced with hideous
yells. His friends at the house, who had watched everything with the
keenest interest, immediately directed all the constables who were at
hand to rush to his succour; hitherto they had restrained the police,
lest their interference might stimulate rather than repress the mob.
The charge of the constables was well timed; they laid about them with
their staves; you might have heard the echo of many a broken crown.
Nevertheless, though they dispersed the mass, they could not penetrate
the immediate barrier that surrounded Lord Cadurcis, whose only
defence indeed, for they had cut off his groom, was the terrors of his
horse's heels, and whose managed motions he regulated with admirable
skill, now rearing, now prancing, now kicking behind, and now
turning round with a quick yet sweeping motion, before which the mob
retreated. Off his horse, however, they seemed resolved to drag him;
and it was not difficult to conceive, if they succeeded, what must
be his eventual fate. They were infuriate, but his contact with his
assailants fortunately prevented their co-mates from hurling stones at
him from the fear of endangering their own friends.

A messenger to the Horse Guards had been sent from the House of Lords;
but, before the military could arrive, and fortunately (for, with
their utmost expedition, they must have been too late), a rumour of
the attack got current in the House of Commons. Captain Cadurcis,
Lord Scrope, and a few other young men instantly rushed out; and,
ascertaining the truth, armed with good cudgels and such other
effective weapons as they could instantly obtain, they mounted their
horses and charged the nearly-triumphant populace, dealing such
vigorous blows that their efforts soon made a visible diversion in
Lord Cadurcis' favour. It is difficult, indeed, to convey an idea of
the exertions and achievements of Captain Cadurcis; no Paladin of
chivalry ever executed such marvels on a swarm of Paynim slaves; and
many a bloody coxcomb and broken limb bore witness in Petty France
that night to his achievements. Still the mob struggled and were not
daunted by the delay in immolating their victim. As long as they had
only to fight against men in plain clothes, they were valorous and
obstinate enough; but the moment that the crests of a troop of Horse
Guards were seen trotting down Parliament Street, everybody ran away,
and in a few minutes all Palace-yard was as still as if the genius of
the place rendered a riot impossible.

Lord Cadurcis thanked his friends, who were profuse in their
compliments to his pluck. His manner, usually playful with his
intimates of his own standing, was, however, rather grave at present,
though very cordial. He asked them home to dine with him; but they
were obliged to decline his invitation, as a division was expected;
so, saying 'Good-bye, George, perhaps I shall see you to-night,'
Cadurcis rode rapidly off.

With Cadurcis there was but one step from the most exquisite
sensitiveness to the most violent defiance. The experience of this
day had entirely cured him of his previous nervous deference to the
feelings of society. Society had outraged him, and now he resolved to
outrage society. He owed society nothing; his reception at the House
of Lords and the riot in Palace-yard had alike cleared his accounts
with all orders of men, from the highest to the lowest. He had
experienced, indeed, some kindness that he could not forget, but only
from his own kin, and those who with his associations were the same as
kin. His memory dwelt with gratification on his cousin's courageous
zeal, and still more on the demonstration which Masham had made in his
favour, which, if possible, argued still greater boldness and sincere
regard. That was a trial of true affection, and an instance of moral
courage, which Cadurcis honoured, and which he never could forget. He
was anxious about Venetia; he wished to stand as well with her as he
deserved; no better; but he was grieved to think she could believe all
those infamous tales at present current respecting himself. But, for
the rest of the world, he delivered them all to the most absolute
contempt, disgust, and execration; he resolved, from this time,
nothing should ever induce him again to enter society, or admit the
advances of a single civilised ruffian who affected to be social. The
country, the people, their habits, laws, manners, customs, opinions,
and everything connected with them, were viewed with the same
jaundiced eye; and his only object now was to quit England, to which
he resolved never to return.



CHAPTER XIX.


Venetia was, perhaps, not quite so surprised as the rest of her
friends, when, on their return to Richmond, Lord Cadurcis was not
again seen. She was very unhappy: she recalled the scene in the
garden at Cherbury some years back; and, with the knowledge of the
impetuosity of his temper, she believed she should never see him
again. Poor Plantagenet, who loved her so much, and whose love she so
fully returned! why might they not be happy? She neither doubted the
constancy of his affection, nor their permanent felicity if they
were united. She shared none of her mother's apprehensions or her
prejudices, but she was the victim of duty and her vow. In the course
of four-and-twenty hours, strange rumours were afloat respecting Lord
Cadurcis; and the newspapers on the ensuing morning told the truth,
and more than the truth. Venetia could not doubt as to the duel or the
elopement; but, instead of feeling indignation, she attributed what
had occurred to the desperation of his mortified mind; and she visited
on herself all the fatal consequences that had happened. At present,
however, all her emotions were quickly absorbed in the one terrible
fear that Lord Monteagle would die. In that dreadful and urgent
apprehension every other sentiment merged. It was impossible to
conceal her misery, and she entreated her mother to return to town.

Very differently, however, was the catastrophe viewed by Lady Annabel.
She, on the contrary, triumphed in her sagacity and her prudence. She
hourly congratulated herself on being the saviour of her daughter;
and though she refrained from indulging in any open exultation
over Venetia's escape and her own profound discretion, it was,
nevertheless, impossible for her to conceal from her daughter her
infinite satisfaction and self-congratulation. While Venetia was half
broken-hearted, her mother silently returned thanks to Providence for
the merciful dispensation which had exempted her child from so much
misery.

The day after their return to town, Captain Cadurcis called upon them.
Lady Annabel never mentioned the name of his cousin; but George,
finding no opportunity of conversing with Venetia alone, and being,
indeed, too much excited to speak on any other subject, plunged at
once into the full narrative; defended Lord Cadurcis, abused the
Monteagles and the slanderous world, and, in spite of Lady Annabel's
ill-concealed dissatisfaction, favoured her with an exact and
circumstantial account of everything that had happened, how it
happened, when it happened, and where it happened; concluding by a
declaration that Cadurcis was the best fellow that ever lived; the
most unfortunate, and the most ill-used; and that, if he were to be
hunted down for an affair like this, over which he had no control,
there was not a man in London who could be safe for ten minutes. All
that George effected by his zeal, was to convince Lady Annabel that
his cousin had entirely corrupted, him; she looked upon her former
favourite as another victim; but Venetia listened in silence, and not
without solace.

Two or three days after the riot at the House of Lords, Captain
Cadurcis burst into his cousin's room with a triumphant countenance.
'Well, Plantagenet!' he exclaimed, 'I have done it; I have seen
her alone, and I have put you as right as possible. Nothing can be
better.'

'Tell me, my dear fellow,' said Lord Cadurcis, eagerly.

'Well, you know, I have called half-a-dozen times,' said George, 'but
either Lady Annabel was there, or they were not at home, or something
always occurred to prevent any private communication. But I met her
to-day with her aunt; I joined them immediately, and kept with them
the whole morning. I am sorry to say she, I mean Venetia, is devilish
ill; she is, indeed. However, her aunt now is quite on your side, and
very kind, I can tell you that. I put her right at first, and she has
fought our battle bravely. Well, they stopped to call somewhere, and
Venetia was so unwell that she would not get out, and I was left alone
in the carriage with her. Time was precious, and I opened at once. I
told her how wretched you were, and that the only thing that made you
miserable was about her, because you were afraid she would think you
so profligate, and all that. I went through it all; told her the exact
truth, which, indeed, she had before heard; but now I assured her, on
my honour, that it was exactly what happened; and she said she did not
doubt it, and could not, from some conversation which you had together
the day we were all at Hampton Court, and that she felt that nothing
could have been premeditated, and fully believed that everything had
occurred as I said; and, however she deplored it, she felt the same
for you as ever, and prayed for your happiness. Then she told me what
misery the danger of Lord Monteagle had occasioned her; that she
thought his death must have been the forerunner of her own; but the
moment he was declared out of danger seemed the happiest hour of
her life. I told her you were going to leave England, and asked her
whether she had any message for you; and she said, "Tell him he is the
same to me that he has always been." So, when her aunt returned, I
jumped out and ran on to you at once.'

'You are the best fellow that ever lived, George,' said Lord Cadurcis;
'and now the world may go to the devil!'

This message from Venetia acted upon Lord Cadurcis like a charm. It
instantly cleared his mind. He shut himself up in his house for a
week, and wrote a farewell to England, perhaps the most masterly
effusion of his powerful spirit. It abounded in passages of
overwhelming passion, and almost Satanic sarcasm. Its composition
entirely relieved his long-brooding brain. It contained, moreover,
a veiled address to Venetia, delicate, tender, and irresistibly
affecting. He appended also to the publication, the verses he had
previously addressed to her.

This volume, which was purchased with an avidity exceeding even
the eagerness with which his former productions had been received,
exercised extraordinary influence on public opinion. It enlisted the
feelings of the nation on his side in a struggle with a coterie. It
was suddenly discovered that Lord Cadurcis was the most injured of
mortals, and far more interesting than ever. The address to the
unknown object of his adoration, and the verses to Venetia, mystified
everybody. Lady Monteagle was universally abused, and all sympathised
with the long-treasured and baffled affection of the unhappy poet.
Cadurcis, however, was not to be conciliated. He left his native
shores in a blaze of glory, but with the accents of scorn still
quivering on his lip.



END OF BOOK IV.



BOOK V.



CHAPTER I.


The still waters of the broad and winding lake reflected the lustre
of the cloudless sky. The gentle declinations of the green hills that
immediately bordered the lake, with an undulating margin that now
retired into bays of the most picturesque form, now jutted forth
into woody promontories, and then opened into valleys of sequestered
beauty, which the eye delighted to pursue, were studded with white
villas, and cottages scarcely less graceful, and occasionally with
villages, and even towns; here and there rose a solitary chapel; and,
scarcely less conspicuous, the black spire of some cypress strikingly
contrasting with the fair buildings or the radiant foliage that in
general surrounded them. A rampart of azure mountains raised their
huge forms behind the nearer hills; and occasionally peering over
these, like spectres on some brilliant festival, were the ghastly
visages of the Alpine glaciers.

It was within an hour of sunset, and the long shadows had fallen upon
the waters; a broad boat, with a variegated awning, rowed by two men,
approached the steps of a marble terrace. The moment they had reached
their point of destination, and had fastened the boat to its moorings,
the men landed their oars, and immediately commenced singing a simple
yet touching melody, wherewith it was their custom to apprise their
employers of their arrival.

'Will they come forth this evening, think you, Vittorio?' said one
boatman to the other.

'By our holy mother, I hope so!' replied his comrade, 'for this light
air that is now rising will do the young signora more good than fifty
doctors.'

'They are good people,' said Vittorio. 'It gives me more pleasure to
row them than any persons who ever hired us.'

'Ay, ay!' said his comrade, 'It was a lucky day when we first put an
oar in the lake for them, heretics though they be.'

'But they may he converted yet,' said his companion; 'for, as I was
saying to Father Francisco last night, if the young signora dies, it
is a sad thing to think what will become of her.'

'And what said the good Father?'

'He shook his head,' said Vittorio.

'When Father Francisco shakes his head, he means a great deal,' said
his companion.

At this moment a servant appeared on the terrace, to say the ladies
were at hand; and very shortly afterwards Lady Annabel Herbert, with
her daughter leaning on her arm, descended the steps, and entered the
boat. The countenances of the boatmen brightened when they saw them,
and they both made their inquiries after the health of Venetia with
tenderness and feeling.

'Indeed, my good friends,' said Venetia, 'I think you are right, and
the lake will cure me after all.'

'The blessing of the lake be upon you, signora,' said the boatmen,
crossing themselves.

Just as they were moving off, came running Mistress Pauncefort,
quite breathless. 'Miss Herbert's fur cloak, my lady; you told me to
remember, my lady, and I cannot think how I forgot it. But I really
have been so very hot all day, that such a thing as furs never entered
my head. And for my part, until I travelled, I always thought furs
were only worn in Russia. But live and learn, as I say.'

They were now fairly floating on the calm, clear waters, and the
rising breeze was as grateful to Venetia as the boatmen had imagined.

A return of those symptoms which had before disquieted Lady Annabel
for her daughter, and which were formerly the cause of their residence
at Weymouth, had induced her, in compliance with the advice of her
physicians, to visit Italy; but the fatigue of travel had exhausted
the energies of Venetia (for in those days the Alps were not passed in
luxurious travelling carriages) on the very threshold of the promised
land; and Lady Annabel had been prevailed upon to take a villa on the
Lago Maggiore, where Venetia had passed two months, still suffering
indeed from great debility, but not without advantage.

There are few spots more favoured by nature than the Italian lakes and
their vicinity, combining, as they do, the most sublime features
of mountainous scenery with all the softer beauties and the varied
luxuriance of the plain. As the still, bright lake is to the rushing
and troubled cataract, is Italy to Switzerland and Savoy. Emerging
from the chaotic ravines and the wild gorges of the Alps, the happy
land breaks upon us like a beautiful vision. We revel in the sunny
light, after the unearthly glare of eternal snow. Our sight seems
renovated as we throw our eager glance over those golden plains,
clothed with such picturesque trees, sparkling with such graceful
villages, watered by such noble rivers, and crowned with such
magnificent cities; and all bathed and beaming in an atmosphere so
soft and radiant! Every isolated object charms us with its beautiful
novelty: for the first time we gaze on palaces; the garden, the
terrace, and the statue, recall our dreams beneath a colder sky;
and we turn from these to catch the hallowed form of some cupolaed
convent, crowning the gentle elevation of some green hill, and flanked
by the cypress or the pine.

The influence of all these delightful objects and of this benign
atmosphere on the frame and mind of Venetia had been considerable.
After the excitement of the last year of her life, and the harassing
and agitating scenes with which it closed, she found a fine solace
in this fair land and this soft sky, which the sad perhaps can alone
experience. Its repose alone afforded a consolatory contrast to the
turbulent pleasure of the great world. She looked back upon those
glittering and noisy scenes with an aversion which was only modified
by her self-congratulation at her escape from their exhausting and
contaminating sphere. Here she recurred, but with all the advantages
of a change of scene, and a scene so rich in novel and interesting
associations, to the calm tenor of those days, when not a thought ever
seemed to escape from Cherbury and its spell-bound seclusion. Her
books, her drawings, her easel, and her harp, were now again her chief
pursuits; pursuits, however, influenced by the genius of the land in
which she lived, and therefore invested with a novel interest; for
the literature and the history of the country naturally attracted her
attention; and its fair aspects and sweet sounds, alike inspired her
pencil and her voice. She had, in the society of her mother, indeed,
the advantage of communing with a mind not less refined and cultivated
than her own. Lady Annabel was a companion whose conversation, from
reading and reflection, was eminently suggestive; and their hours,
though they lived in solitude, never hung heavy. They were always
employed, and always cheerful. But Venetia was not more than cheerful.
Still very young, and gifted with an imaginative and therefore
sanguine mind, the course of circumstances, however, had checked her
native spirit, and shaded a brow which, at her time of life and with
her temperament, should have been rather fanciful than pensive. If
Venetia, supported by the disciplined energies of a strong mind, had
schooled herself into not looking back to the past with grief, her
future was certainly not tinged with the Iris pencil of Hope. It
seemed to her that it was her fate that life should bring her no
happier hours than those she now enjoyed. They did not amount to
exquisite bliss. That was a conviction which, by no process of
reflection, however ingenious, could she delude herself to credit.
Venetia struggled to take refuge in content, a mood of mind perhaps
less natural than it should be to one so young, so gifted, and so
fair!

Their villa was surrounded by a garden in the ornate and artificial
style of the country. A marble terrace overlooked the lake, crowned
with many a statue and vase that held the aloe. The laurel and the
cactus, the cypress and the pine, filled the air with their fragrance,
or charmed the eye with their rarity and beauty: the walks were
festooned with the vine, and they could raise their hands and pluck
the glowing fruit which screened them, from the beam by which, it was
ripened. In this enchanted domain Venetia might be often seen, a
form even fairer than the sculptured nymphs among which she glided,
catching the gentle breeze that played upon the surface of the lake,
or watching the white sail that glittered in the sun as it floated
over its purple bosom.

Yet this beautiful retreat Venetia was soon to quit, and she thought
of her departure with a sigh. Her mother had been warned to avoid
the neighbourhood of the mountains in the winter, and the autumn was
approaching its close. If Venetia could endure the passage of the
Apennines, it was the intention of Lady Annabel to pass the winter
on the coast of the Mediterranean; otherwise to settle in one of the
Lombard cities. At all events, in the course of a few weeks they were
to quit their villa on the lake.



CHAPTER II.


A very few days after this excursion on the lake, Lady Annabel and her
daughter were both surprised and pleased with a visit from a friend
whose appearance was certainly very unexpected; this was Captain
Cadurcis. On his way from Switzerland to Sicily, he had heard of their
residence in the neighbourhood, and had crossed over from Arona to
visit them.

The name of Cadurcis was still dear to Venetia, and George had
displayed such gallantry and devotion in all his cousin's troubles,
that she was personally attached to him; he had always been a
favourite of her mother; his arrival, therefore, was welcomed by each
of the ladies with great cordiality. He accepted the hospitality which
Lady Annabel offered him, and remained with them a week, a period
which they spent in visiting the most beautiful and interesting spots
of the lake, with which they were already sufficiently familiar to
allow them to prove guides as able as they were agreeable. These
excursions, indeed, contributed to the pleasure and happiness of the
whole party. There was about Captain Cadurcis a natural cheerfulness
which animated every one in his society; a gay simplicity, difficult
to define, but very charming, and which, without effort, often
produced deeper impressions than more brilliant and subtle qualities.
Left alone in the world, and without a single advantage save those
that nature had conferred upon him, it had often been remarked,
that in whatever circle he moved George Cadurcis always became the
favourite and everywhere made friends. His sweet and engaging temper
had perhaps as much contributed to his professional success as his
distinguished gallantry and skill. Other officers, no doubt, were
as brave and able as Captain Cadurcis, but his commanders always
signalled him out for favourable notice; and, strange to say, his
success, instead of exciting envy and ill-will, pleased even his less
fortunate competitors. However hard another might feel his own lot, it
was soothed by the reflection that George Cadurcis was at least
more fortunate. His popularity, however, was not confined to his
profession. His cousin's noble guardian, whom George had never seen
until he ventured to call upon his lordship on his return to England,
now looked upon him almost as a son, and omitted no opportunity of
advancing his interests in the world. Of all the members of the House
of Commons he was perhaps the only one that everybody praised, and
his success in the world of fashion had been as remarkable as in his
profession. These great revolutions in his life and future prospects
had, however, not produced the slightest change in his mind and
manners; and this was perhaps the secret spell of his prosperity.
Though we are most of us the creatures of affectation, simplicity has
a great charm, especially when attended, as in the present instance,
with many agreeable and some noble qualities. In spite of the rough
fortunes of his youth, the breeding of Captain Cadurcis was high; the
recollection of the race to which he belonged had never been forgotten
by him. He was proud of his family. He had one of those light hearts,
too, which enable their possessors to acquire accomplishments with
facility: he had a sweet voice, a quick ear, a rapid eye. He
acquired a language as some men learn an air. Then his temper was
imperturbable, and although the most obliging and kindest-hearted
creature that ever lived, there was a native dignity about him which
prevented his goodnature from being abused. No sense of interest
either could ever induce him to act contrary to the dictates of his
judgment and his heart. At the risk of offending his patron, George
sided with his cousin, although he had deeply offended his guardian,
and although the whole world was against him. Indeed, the strong
affection that Lord Cadurcis instantly entertained for George is
not the least remarkable instance of the singular, though silent,
influence that Captain Cadurcis everywhere acquired. Lord Cadurcis
had fixed upon him for his friend from the first moment of their
acquaintance; and though apparently there could not be two characters
more dissimilar, there were at bottom some striking points of sympathy
and some strong bonds of union, in the generosity and courage that
distinguished both, and in the mutual blood that filled their veins.

There seemed to be a tacit understanding between the several members
of our party that the name of Lord Cadurcis was not to be mentioned.
Lady Annabel made no inquiry after him; Venetia was unwilling to
hazard a question which would annoy her mother, and of which the
answer could not bring her much satisfaction; and Captain Cadurcis did
not think fit himself to originate any conversation on the subject.
Nevertheless, Venetia could not help sometimes fancying, when her eyes
met his, that their mutual thoughts were the same, and both dwelling
on one who was absent, and of whom her companion would willingly have
conversed. To confess the truth, indeed, George Cadurcis was on his
way to join his cousin, who had crossed over from Spain to Barbary,
and journeyed along the African coast from Tangiers to Tripoli. Their
point of reunion was to be Sicily or Malta. Hearing of the residence
of the Herberts on the lake, he thought it would be but kind to
Plantagenet to visit them, and perhaps to bear to him some message
from Venetia. There was nothing, indeed, on which Captain Cadurcis
was more intent than to effect the union between his cousin and Miss
Herbert. He was deeply impressed with the sincerity of Plantagenet's
passion, and he himself entertained for the lady the greatest
affection and admiration. He thought she was the only person whom he
had ever known, who was really worthy to be his cousin's bride. And,
independent of her personal charms and undoubted talents, she had
displayed during the outcry against Lord Cadurcis so much good sense,
such a fine spirit, and such modest yet sincere affection for the
victim, that George Cadurcis had almost lost his own heart to her,
when he was endeavouring to induce her not utterly to reject that of
another; and it became one of the dreams of his life, that in a little
time, when all, as he fondly anticipated, had ended as it should,
and as he wished it, he should be able to find an occasional home at
Cadurcis Abbey, and enjoy the charming society of one whom he had
already taught himself to consider as a sister.

'And to-night you must indeed go?' said Venetia, as they were walking
together on the terrace. It was the only time that they had been alone
together during his visit.

'I must start from Arona at daybreak,' replied George; 'and I must
travel quickly, for in less than a month I must be in Sicily.'

'Sicily! Why are you going to Sicily?'

Captain Cadurcis smiled. 'I am going to join a friend of ours,' he
answered.

'Plantagenet?' she said.

Captain Cadurcis nodded assent.

'Poor Plantagenet!' said Venetia.

'His name has been on my lips several times,' said George.

'I am sure of that,' said Venetia. 'Is he well?'

'He writes to me in fair spirits,' said Captain Cadurcis. 'He has been
travelling in Spain, and now he is somewhere in Africa; we are to meet
in Sicily or Malta. I think travel has greatly benefited him. He seems
quite delighted with his glimpse of Oriental manners, and I should
scarcely be surprised if he were now to stretch on to Constantinople.'

'I wonder if he will ever return to England,' said Venetia,
thoughtfully.

'There is only one event that would induce him,' said Captain
Cadurcis. And then after a pause he added, 'You will not ask me what
it is?'

'I wish he were in England, and were happy,' said Venetia.

'It is in your power to effect both results,' said her companion.

'It is useless to recur to that subject,' said Venetia. 'Plantagenet
knows my feelings towards him, but fate has forbidden our destinies to
be combined.'

'Then he will never return to England, and never be happy. Ah,
Venetia! what shall I tell him when we meet? What message am I to bear
him from you?'

'Those regards which he ever possessed, and has never forfeited,' said
Venetia.

'Poor Cadurcis!' said his cousin, shaking his head, 'if any man ever
had reason to be miserable, it is he.'

'We are none of us very happy, I think,' said Venetia, mournfully. 'I
am sure when I look back to the last few years of my life it seems
to me that there is some curse hanging over our families. I cannot
penetrate it; it baffles me.'

'I am sure,' said Captain Cadurcis with great animation, 'nay, I would
pledge my existence cheerfully on the venture, that if Lady Annabel
would only relent towards Cadurcis, we should all be the happiest
people in the world.'

'Heigho!' said Venetia. 'There are other cares in our house besides
our unfortunate acquaintance with your cousin. We were the last people
in the world with whom he should ever have become connected.'

'And yet it was an intimacy that commenced auspiciously,' said her
friend. 'I am sure I have sat with Cadurcis, and listened to him by
the hour, while he has told me of all the happy days at Cherbury when
you were both children; the only happy days, according to him, that he
ever knew.'

'Yes! they were happy days,' said Venetia.

'And what connection could have offered a more rational basis for
felicity than your union?' he continued. 'Whatever the world may
think, I, who know Cadurcis to the very bottom of his heart, feel
assured that you never would have repented for an instant becoming the
sharer of his life; your families were of equal rank, your estates
joined, he felt for your mother the affection of a son. There seemed
every element that could have contributed to earthly bliss. As for his
late career, you who know all have already, have always indeed,
viewed it with charity. Placed in his position, who could have acted
otherwise? I know very well that his genius, which might recommend
him to another woman, is viewed by your mother with more than
apprehension. It is true that a man of his exquisite sensibility
requires sympathies as refined to command his nature. It is no common
mind that could maintain its hold over Cadurcis, and his spirit could
not yield but to rare and transcendent qualities. He found them,
Venetia, he found them in her whom he had known longest and most
intimately, and loved from his boyhood. Talk of constancy, indeed! who
has been so constant as my cousin? No, Venetia! you may think fit to
bow to the feelings of your mother, and it would be impertinence in me
to doubt for an instant the propriety of your conduct: I do not doubt
it; I admire it; I admire you, and everything you have done; none can
view your behaviour throughout all these painful transactions with
more admiration, I might even say with more reverence, than myself;
but, Venetia, you never can persuade me, you have never attempted to
persuade me, that you yourself are incredulous of the strength and
permanency of my cousin's love.'

'Ah, George! you are our friend!' said Venetia, a tear stealing down
her cheek. 'But, indeed, we must not talk of these things. As for
myself, I think not of happiness. I am certain I am not born to be
happy. I wish only to live calmly; contentedly, I would say; but that,
perhaps, is too much. My feelings have been so harrowed, my mind so
harassed, during these last few years, and so many causes of pain and
misery seem ever hovering round my existence, that I do assure you,
my dear friend, I have grown old before my time. Ah! you may smile,
George, but my heart is heavy; it is indeed.'

'I wish I could lighten it,' said Captain Cadurcis. 'I fear I am
somewhat selfish in wishing you to marry my cousin, for then you know
I should have a permanent and authentic claim to your regard. But no
one, at least I think so, can feel more deeply interested in your
welfare than I do. I never knew any one like you, and I always tell
Cadurcis so, and that I think makes him worse, but I cannot help it.'

Venetia could not refrain from smiling at the simplicity of this
confession.

'Well,' continued her companion,' everything, after all, is for the
best. You and Plantagenet are both very young; I live in hopes that I
shall yet see you Lady Cadurcis.'

Venetia shook her head, but was not sorry that their somewhat
melancholy conversation should end in a livelier vein. So they entered
the villa.

The hour of parting was painful, and the natural gaiety of Captain
Cadurcis deserted him. He had become greatly attached to the Herberts.
Without any female relatives of his own, their former intimacy and
probable connection with his cousin had taught him to look upon them
in some degree in the light of kindred. He had originally indeed
become acquainted with them in all the blaze of London society, not
very calculated to bring out the softer tints and more subdued tones
of our character, but even then the dignified grace of Lady Annabel
and the radiant beauty of Venetia, had captivated him, and he had
cultivated their society with assiduity and extreme pleasure. The
grand crisis of his cousin's fortunes had enabled him to become
intimate with the more secret and serious qualities of Venetia, and
from that moment he had taken the deepest interest in everything
connected with her. His happy and unexpected meeting in Italy had
completed the spell; and now that he was about to leave them,
uncertain even if they should ever meet again, his soft heart
trembled, and he could scarcely refrain from tears as he pressed their
hands, and bade them his sincere adieus.

The moon had risen, ere he entered his boat, and flung a rippling line
of glittering light on the bosom of the lake. The sky was without a
cloud, save a few thin fleecy vapours that hovered over the azure brow
of a distant mountain. The shores of the lake were suffused with the
serene effulgence, and every object was so distinct, that the eye was
pained by the lights of the villages, that every instant became more
numerous and vivid. The bell of a small chapel on the opposite shore,
and the distant chant of some fishermen still working at their nets,
were the only sounds that broke the silence which they did not
disturb. Reclined in his boat, George Cadurcis watched the vanishing
villa of the Herberts, until the light in the principal chamber was
the only sign that assured him of its site. That chamber held Venetia,
the unhappy Venetia! He covered his face with his hand when even
the light of her chamber vanished, and, full of thoughts tender and
disconsolate, he at length arrived at Arona.



CHAPTER III.


Pursuant to their plans, the Herberts left the Lago Maggiore towards
the end of October, and proceeded by gentle journeys to the Apennines.
Before they crossed this barrier, they were to rest awhile in one of
the Lombard cities; and now they were on the point of reaching Arquâ,
which Venetia had expressed a strong desire to visit.

At the latter part of the last century, the race of tourists, the
offspring of a long peace, and the rapid fortunes made during the war,
did not exist. Travelling was then confined to the aristocracy,
and though the English, when opportunity offered, have ever been a
restless people, the gentle bosom of the Euganean Hills was then
rarely disturbed amid its green and sequestered valleys.

There is not perhaps in all the Italian region, fertile as it is in
interesting associations and picturesque beauty, a spot that tradition
and nature have so completely combined to hallow, as the last
residence of Petrarch. It seems, indeed, to have been formed for the
retirement of a pensive and poetic spirit. It recedes from the world
by a succession of delicate acclivities clothed with vineyards and
orchards, until, winding within these hills, the mountain hamlet is
at length discovered, enclosed by two ridges that slope towards each
other, and seem to shut out all the passions of a troubled race. The
houses are scattered at intervals on the steep sides of these summits,
and on a little knoll is the mansion of the poet, built by himself,
and commanding a rich and extensive view, that ends only with the
shores of the Adriatic sea. His tomb, a sarcophagus of red marble,
supported by pillars, doubtless familiar to the reader, is at hand;
and, placed on an elevated site, gives a solemn impression to a scene,
of which the character would otherwise be serenely cheerful.

Our travellers were surprised to find that the house of the poet was
inhabited by a very different tenant to the rustic occupier they had
anticipated. They heard that a German gentleman had within the last
year fixed upon it as the residence of himself and his wife. The
peasants were profuse in their panegyrics of this visitor, whose
arrival had proved quite an era in the history of their village.
According to them, a kinder and more charitable gentleman never
breathed; his whole life was spent in studying and contributing to the
happiness of those around him. The sick, the sorrowful, and the needy
were ever sure of finding a friend in him, and merit a generous
patron. From him came portions to the portionless; no village maiden
need despair of being united to her betrothed, while he could assist
her; and at his own cost he had sent to the academy of Bologna, a
youth whom his father would have made a cowherd, but whom nature
predisposed to be a painter. The inhabitants believed this benevolent
and generous person was a physician, for he attended the sick,
prescribed for their complaints, and had once even performed an
operation with great success. It seemed that, since Petrarch, no one
had ever been so popular at Arquâ as this kind German. Lady Annabel
and Venetia were interested with the animated narratives of the
ever-active beneficence of this good man, and Lady Annabel especially
regretted that his absence deprived her of the gratification of
becoming acquainted with a character so rare and so invaluable. In the
meantime they availed themselves of the offer of his servants to view
the house of Petrarch, for their master had left orders, that his
absence should never deprive a pilgrim from paying his homage to the
shrine of genius.

The house, consisting of two floors, had recently been repaired by
the present occupier. It was simply furnished. The ground-floor was
allotted to the servants. The upper story contained five rooms, three
of which were of good size, and two closets. In one of these were the
traditionary chair and table of Petrarch, and here, according to their
guides, the master of the house passed a great portion of his time in
study, to which, by their account, he seemed devoted. The adjoining
chamber was his library; its windows opened on a balcony looking on
two lofty and conical hills, one topped with a convent, while the
valley opened on the side and spread into a calm and very pleasant
view. Of the other apartments, one served as a saloon, but there was
nothing in it remarkable, except an admirably painted portrait of a
beautiful woman, which the servant informed them was their mistress.

'But that surely is not a German physiognomy?' said Lady Annabel.

'The mistress is an Italian,' replied the servant.

'She is very handsome, of whatever nation she may be,' replied Lady
Annabel.

'Oh! how I should have liked to have met these happy people, mamma,'
said Venetia, 'for happy they surely must be.'

'They seem to be good people,' said Lady Annabel. 'It really lightened
my heart to hear of all this gentleman's kind deeds.'

'Ah! if the signora only knew the master,' said their guide, 'she
would indeed know a good man.'

They descended to the garden, which certainly was not like the garden
of their villa; it had been but lately a wilderness of laurels, but
there were evidences that the eye and hand of taste were commencing
its restoration with effect.

'The master did this,' said their guide. 'He will allow no one to work
in the garden but himself. It is a week since he went to Bologna, to
see our Paulo. He gained a prize at the academy, and his father begged
the master to be present when it was conferred on him; he said it
would do his son so much good! So the master went, though it is the
only time he has quitted Quâ since he came to reside here.'

'And how long has he resided here?' inquired Venetia.

''Tis the second autumn,' said the guide, 'and he came in the spring.
If the signora would only wait, we expect the master home to-night or
to-morrow, and he would be glad to see her.'

'We cannot wait, my friend,' said Lady Annabel, rewarding the guide;
'but you will thank your master in our names, for the kindness we have
experienced. You are all happy in such a friend.'

'I must write my name in Petrarch's house,' said Venetia. 'Adieu,
happy Arquâ! Adieu, happy dwellers in this happy valley!'



CHAPTER IV.


Just as Lady Annabel and her daughter arrived at Rovigo, one of those
sudden and violent storms that occasionally occur at the termination
of an Italian autumn raged with irresistible fury. The wind roared
with a noise that overpowered the thunder; then came a rattling shower
of hail, with stones as big as pigeons' eggs, succeeded by rain, not
in showers, but literally in cataracts. The only thing to which
a tempest of rain in Italy can be compared is the bursting of a
waterspout. Venetia could scarcely believe that this could be the same
day of which the golden morning had found her among the sunny hills of
Arquâ. This unexpected vicissitude induced Lady Annabel to alter her
plans, and she resolved to rest at Rovigo, where she was glad to find
that they could be sheltered in a commodious inn.

The building had originally been a palace, and in its halls and
galleries, and the vast octagonal vestibule on which the principal
apartments opened, it retained many noble indications of the purposes
to which it was formerly destined.

At present, a lazy innkeeper who did nothing; his bustling wife,
who seemed equally at home in the saloon, the kitchen, and even the
stable; and a solitary waiter, were the only inmates, except the
Herberts, and a travelling party, who had arrived shortly after them,
and who, like them, had been driven by stress of weather to seek
refuge at a place where otherwise they had not intended to remain.

A blazing fire of pine wood soon gave cheerfulness to the vast and
somewhat desolate apartment into which our friends had been ushered;
their sleeping-room was adjoining, but separated. In spite of the
lamentations of Pauncefort, who had been drenched to the skin, and who
required much more waiting upon than her mistress, Lady Annabel and
Venetia at length produced some degree of comfort. They drew the table
near the fire; they ensconced themselves behind an old screen; and,
producing their books and work notwithstanding the tempest, they
contrived to domesticate themselves at Rovigo.

'I cannot help thinking of Arquâ and its happy tenants, mamma,' said
Venetia.

'And yet, perhaps, they may have their secret sorrows,' said
Lady Annabel. 'I know not why, I always associate seclusion with
unhappiness.'

Venetia remembered Cherbury. Their life at Cherbury was like the life
of the German at Arquâ. A chance visitor to Cherbury in their absence,
viewing the beautiful residence and the fair domain, and listening to
the tales which they well might hear of all her mother's grace and
goodness, might perhaps too envy its happy occupiers. But were they
happy? Had they no secret sorrows? Was their seclusion associated with
unhappiness? These were reflections that made Venetia grave; but she
opened her journal, and, describing the adventures and feelings of the
morning, she dissipated some mournful reminiscences.

The storm still raged, Venetia had quitted the saloon in which her
mother and herself had been sitting, and had repaired to the adjoining
chamber to fetch a book. The door of this room opened, as all the
other entrances of the different apartments, on to the octagonal
vestibule. Just as she was quitting the room, and about to return to
her mother, the door of the opposite chamber opened, and there came
forward a gentleman in a Venetian dress of black velvet. His stature
was much above the middle height, though his figure, which was
remarkably slender, was bowed; not by years certainly, for his
countenance, though singularly emaciated, still retained traces
of youth. His hair, which he wore very long, descended over his
shoulders, and must originally have been of a light golden colour, but
now was severely touched with grey. His countenance was very pallid,
so colourless indeed that its aspect was almost unearthly; but his
large blue eyes, that were deeply set in his majestic brow, still
glittered with fire, and their expression alone gave life to a visage,
which, though singularly beautiful in its outline, from its faded and
attenuated character seemed rather the countenance of a corpse than of
a breathing being.

The glance of the stranger caught that of Venetia, and seemed to
fascinate her. She suddenly became motionless; wildly she stared at
the stranger, who, in his turn, seemed arrested in his progress, and
stood still as a statue, with his eyes fixed with absorbing interest
on the beautiful apparition before him. An expression of perplexity
and pain flitted over the amazed features of Venetia; and then it
seemed that, by some almost supernatural effort, confusion amounting
to stupefaction suddenly brightened and expanded into keen and
overwhelming intelligence. Exclaiming in a frenzied tone, 'My father!'
Venetia sprang forward, and fell senseless on the stranger's breast.

Such, after so much mystery, so many aspirations, so much anxiety, and
so much suffering, such was the first meeting of Venetia Herbert with
her father!

Marmion Herbert, himself trembling and speechless, bore the apparently
lifeless Venetia into his apartment. Not permitting her for a moment
to quit his embrace, he seated himself, and gazed silently on the
inanimate and unknown form he held so strangely within his arms. Those
lips, now closed as if in death, had uttered however one word
which thrilled to his heart, and still echoed, like a supernatural
annunciation, within his ear. He examined with an eye of agitated
scrutiny the fair features no longer sensible of his presence. He
gazed upon that transparent brow, as if he would read some secret in
its pellucid veins; and touched those long locks of golden hair with a
trembling finger, that seemed to be wildly seeking for some vague and
miraculous proof of inexpressible identity. The fair creature had
called him 'Father.' His dreaming reveries had never pictured a being
half so beautiful! She called him 'Father!' Tha word had touched
his brain, as lightning cuts a tree. He looked around him with a
distracted air, then gazed on the tranced form he held with a glance
which would have penetrated her soul, and murmured unconsciously the
wild word she had uttered. She called him 'Father!' He dared not think
who she might be. His thoughts were wandering in a distant land;
visions of another life, another country, rose before him, troubled
and obscure. Baffled aspirations, and hopes blighted in the bud, and
the cherished secrets of his lorn existence, clustered like clouds
upon his perplexed, yet creative, brain. She called him, 'Father!' It
was a word to make him mad. 'Father!' This beautiful being had
called him 'Father,' and seemed to have expired, as it were, in the
irresistible expression. His heart yearned to her; he had met her
embrace with an inexplicable sympathy; her devotion had seemed, as it
were, her duty and his right. Yet who was she? He was a father. It
was a fact, a fact alike full of solace and mortification, the
consciousness of which never deserted him. But he was the father of an
unknown child; to him the child of his poetic dreams, rather than his
reality. And now there came this radiant creature, and called him
'Father!' Was he awake, and in the harsh busy world; or was it the
apparition of au over-excited imagination, brooding too constantly on
one fond idea, on which he now gazed so fixedly? Was this some spirit?
Would that she would speak again! Would that those sealed lips would
part and utter but one word, would but again call him 'Father,' and he
asked no more!

'Father!' to be called 'Father' by one whom he could not name, by one
over whom he mused in solitude, by one to whom he had poured forth all
the passion of his desolate soul; to be called 'Father' by this being
was the aspiring secret of his life. He had painted her to himself in
his loneliness, he had conjured up dreams of ineffable loveliness, and
inexpressible love; he had led with her an imaginary life of thrilling
tenderness; he had indulged in a delicious fancy of mutual interchange
of the most exquisite offices of our nature; and then, when he had
sometimes looked around him, and found no daughter there, no beaming
countenance of purity to greet him with its constant smile, and
receive the quick and ceaseless tribute of his vigilant affection, the
tears had stolen down his lately-excited features, all the consoling
beauty of his visions had vanished into air, he had felt the deep
curse of his desolation, and had anathematised the cunning brain
that made his misery a thousand-fold keener by the mockery of its
transporting illusions.

And now there came this transcendent creature, with a form more
glowing than all his dreams; a voice more musical than a seraphic
chorus, though it had uttered but one thrilling word: there came this
transcendent creature, beaming with grace, beauty, and love, and had
fallen upon his heart, and called him 'Father!'

Herbert looked up to heaven as if waiting for some fresh miracle to
terminate the harrowing suspense of his tortured mind; Herbert looked
down upon his mysterious companion; the rose was gradually returning
to her cheek, her lips seemed to tremble with reviving breath. There
was only one word more strange to his ear than that which she had
uttered, but an irresistible impulse sent forth the sound.

'Venetia!' he exclaimed.

The eyes of the maiden slowly opened; she stared around her with a
vague glance of perplexity, not unmingled with pain; she looked up;
she caught the rapt gaze of her father, bending over her with
fondness yet with fear; his lips moved, for a moment they refused to
articulate, yet at length they again uttered, 'Venetia!' And the only
response she made was to cling to him with nervous energy, and hide
her face in his bosom.

Herbert pressed her to his heart. Yet even now he hesitated to credit
the incredible union. Again he called her by her name, but added with
rising confidence, 'My Venetia!'

'Your child, your child,' she murmured. 'Your own Venetia.'

He pressed his lips to hers; he breathed over her a thousand
blessings; she felt his tears trickling on her neck.

At length Venetia looked up and sighed; she was exhausted by the
violence of her emotions: her father relaxed his grasp with infinite
tenderness, watching her with delicate solicitude; she leaned her arm
upon his shoulder with downcast eyes.

Herbert gently took her disengaged hand, and pressed it to his lips.
'I am as in a dream,' murmured Venetia.

'The daughter of my heart has found her sire,' said Herbert in an
impassioned voice. 'The father who has long lived upon her fancied
image; the father, I fear, she has been bred up to hate.'

'Oh! no, no!' said Venetia, speaking rapidly and with a slight shiver;
'not hate! it was a secret, his being was a secret, his name was never
mentioned; it was unknown.'

'A secret! My existence a secret from my child, my beautiful fond
child!' exclaimed Herbert in a tone even more desolate than bitter.
'Why did they not let you at least hate me!'

'My father!' said Venetia, in a firmer voice, and with returning
animation, yet gazing around her with a still distracted air, 'Am I
with my father? The clouds clear from my brain. I remember that we
met. Where was it? Was it at Arquâ? In the garden? I am with my
father!' she continued in a rapid tone and with a wild smile. 'Oh! let
me look on him;' and she turned round, and gazed upon Herbert with
a serious scrutiny. 'Are you my father?' she continued, in a still,
small voice. 'Your hair has grown grey since last I saw you; it was
golden then, like mine. I know you are my father,' she added, after a
pause, and in a tone almost of gaiety. 'You cannot deceive me. I know
your name. They did not tell it me; I found it out myself, but it made
me very ill, very; and I do not think I have ever been quite well
since. You are Marmion Herbert. My mother had a dog called Marmion,
when I was a little girl, but I did not know I had a father then.'

'Venetia!' exclaimed Herbert, with streaming eyes, as he listened with
anguish to these incoherent sentences. 'My Venetia loves me!'

'Oh! she always loved you,' replied Venetia; always, always. Before
she knew her father she loved him. I dare say you think I do not love
you, because I am not used to speak to a father. Everything must be
learnt, you know,' she said, with a faint, sad smile; 'and then it
was so sudden! I do not think my mother knows it yet. And after all,
though I found you out in a moment, still, I know not why, I thought
it was a picture. But I read your verses, and I knew them by heart at
once; but now my memory has worn out, for I am ill, and everything has
gone cross with me. And all because my father wrote me verses. 'Tis
very strange, is not it?'

'Sweet lamb of my affections,' exclaimed Herbert to himself, 'I fear
me much this sudden meeting with one from whose bosom you ought never
to have been estranged, has been for the moment too great a trial for
this delicate brain.'

'I will not tell my mother,' said Venetia; 'she will be angry.'

'Your mother, darling; where is your mother?' said Herbert, looking,
if possible, paler than he was wont.

She was at Arquâ with me, and on the lake for months, but where we are
now, I cannot say. If I could only remember where we are now,' she
added with earnestness, and with a struggle to collect herself, 'I
should know everything.'

'This is Rovigo, my child, the inn of Rovigo. You are travelling with
your mother. Is it not so?'

'Yes! and we came this morning, and it rained. Now I know everything,'
said Venetia, with an animated and even cheerful air.

'And we met in the vestibule, my sweet,' continued Herbert, in a
soothing voice; 'we came out of opposite chambers, and you knew me; my
Venetia knew me. Try to tell me, my darling,' he added, in a tone of
coaxing fondness, 'try to remember how Venetia knew her father.'

'He was so like his picture at Cherbury,' replied Venetia.

'Cherbury!' exclaimed Herbert, with a deep-drawn sigh.

'Only your hair has grown grey, dear father; but it is long, quite as
long as in your picture.'

'Her dog called Marmion!' murmured Herbert to himself, 'and my
portrait, too! You saw your father's portrait, then, every day, love?'

'Oh, no! said Venetia, shaking her head, 'only once, only once. And I
never told mamma. It was where no one could go, but I went there one
day. It was in a room that no one ever entered except mamma, but
I entered it. I stole the key, and had a fever, and in my fever I
confessed all. But I never knew it. Mamma never told me I confessed
it, until many, many years afterwards. It was the first, the only time
she ever mentioned to me your name, my father.'

'And she told you to shun me, to hate me? She told you I was a
villain, a profligate, a demon? eh? eh? Was it not so, Venetia?'

'She told me that you had broken her heart,' said Venetia; 'and she
prayed to God that her child might not be so miserable.'

'Oh, my Venetia!' exclaimed Herbert, pressing her to his breast,
and in a voice stifled with emotion, 'I feel now we might have been
happy!'

In the meantime the prolonged absence of her daughter surprised
Lady Annabel. At length she rose, and walked into their adjoining
apartment, but to her surprise Venetia was not there. Returning to her
saloon, she found Pauncefort and the waiter arranging the table for
dinner.

'Where is Miss Herbert, Pauncefort?' inquired Lady Annabel.

'I am sure, my lady, I cannot say. I have no doubt she is in the other
room.'

'She is not there, for I have just quitted it,' replied Lady Annabel.
'How very strange! You have not seen the signora?' inquired Lady
Annabel of the waiter.

'The signora is in the room with the gentleman.'

'The gentleman!' exclaimed Lady Annabel. 'Tell me, good man, what do
you mean? I am inquiring for my daughter.'

'I know well the signora is talking of her daughter,' replied the
waiter.

'But do you know my daughter by sight? Surely you you must mean some
one else.'

'Do I know the signora's daughter?' said the waiter. 'The beautiful
young lady, with hair like Santa Marguerita, in the church of the Holy
Trinity! I tell the signora, I saw her carried into numero 4, in the
arms of the Signor Forestiere, who arrived this morning.'

'Venetia is ill,' said Lady Annabel. 'Show me to the room, my friend.'

Lady Annabel accordingly, with a hurried step, following her guide,
quitted the chamber. Pauncefort remained fixed to the earth, the very
picture of perplexity.

'Well, to be sure!' she exclaimed, 'was anything ever so strange! In
the arms of Signor Forestiere! Forestiere. An English name. There is
no person of the name of Forest that I know. And in his arms, too! I
should not wonder if it was my lord after all. Well, I should be glad
if he were to come to light again, for, after all, my lady may say
what she likes, but if Miss Venetia don't marry Lord Cadurcis, I must
say marriages were never made in heaven!'



CHAPTER V.


The waiter threw open the door of Mr. Herbert's chamber, and Lady
Annabel swept in with a majesty she generally assumed when about to
meet strangers. The first thing she beheld was her daughter in
the arms of a man whose head was bent, and who was embracing her.
Notwithstanding this astounding spectacle, Lady Annabel neither
started nor screamed; she only said in an audible tone, and one rather
expressing astonishment than agitation, 'Venetia!'

Immediately the stranger looked up, and Lady Annabel beheld her
husband!

She was rooted to the earth. She turned deadly pale; for a moment her
countenance expressed only terror, but the terror quickly changed into
aversion. Suddenly she rushed forward, and exclaimed in a tone in
which decision conquered dismay, 'Restore me my child!'

The moment Herbert had recognised his wife he had dexterously
disengaged himself from the grasp of Venetia, whom he left on the
chair, and meeting Lady Annabel with extended arms, that seemed to
deprecate her wrath, he said, 'I seek not to deprive you of her; she
is yours, and she is worthy of you; but respect, for a few moments,
the feelings of a father who has met his only child in a manner so
unforeseen.'

The presence of her mother instantaneously restored Venetia to
herself. Her mind was in a moment cleared and settled. Her past and
peculiar life, and all its incidents, recurred to her with their
accustomed order, vividness, and truth. She thoroughly comprehended
her present situation. Actuated by long-cherished feelings and the
necessity of the occasion, she rose and threw herself at her mother's
feet and exclaimed, 'O mother! he is my father, love him!'

Lady Annabel stood with an averted countenance, Venetia clinging to
her hand, which she had caught when she rushed forward, and which now
fell passive by Lady Annabel's side, giving no sign, by any pressure
or motion, of the slightest sympathy with her daughter, or feeling for
the strange and agonising situation in which they were both placed.

'Annabel,' said Herbert, in a voice that trembled, though the speaker
struggled to appear calm, 'be charitable! I have never intruded upon
your privacy; I will not now outrage it. Accident, or some diviner
motive, has brought us together this day. If you will not treat me
with kindness, look not upon me with aversion before our child.'

Still she was silent and motionless, her countenance hidden from her
husband and her daughter, but her erect and haughty form betokening
her inexorable mind. 'Annabel,' said Herbert, who had now withdrawn
to some distance, and leant against a pillar, 'will not then nearly
twenty years of desolation purchase one moment of intercourse? I have
injured you. Be it so. This is not the moment I will defend myself.
But have I not suffered? Is not this meeting a punishment deeper
even than your vengeance could devise? Is it nothing to behold this
beautiful child, and feel that she is only yours? Annabel, look on me,
look on me only one moment! My frame is bowed, my hair is grey, my
heart is withered; the principle of existence waxes faint and slack in
this attenuated frame. I am no longer that Herbert on whom you once
smiled, but a man stricken with many sorrows. The odious conviction of
my life cannot long haunt you; yet a little while, and my memory will
alone remain. Think of this, Annabel; I beseech you, think of it. Oh!
believe me, when the speedy hour arrives that will consign me to the
grave, where I shall at least find peace, it will not be utterly
without satisfaction that you will remember that we met if even by
accident, and parted at least not with harshness!'

'Mother, dearest mother!' murmured Venetia, 'speak to him, look on
him!'

'Venetia,' said her mother, without turning her head, but in a calm,
firm tone, 'your father has seen you, has conversed with you. Between
your father and myself there can be nothing to communicate, either of
fact or feeling. Now let us depart.'

'No, no, not depart!' said Venetia franticly. 'You did not say depart,
dear mother! I cannot go,' she added in a low and half-hysterical
voice.

'Desert me, then,' said the mother. 'A fitting consequence of your
private communications with your father,' she added in a tone of
bitter scorn; and Lady Annabel moved to depart, but Venetia, still
kneeling, clung to her convulsively.

'Mother, mother, you shall not go; you shall not leave me; we will
never part, mother,' continued Venetia, in a tone almost of violence,
as she perceived her mother give no indication of yielding to her
wish. 'Are my feelings then nothing?' she then exclaimed. 'Is this
your sense of my fidelity? Am I for ever to be a victim?' She loosened
her hold of her mother's hand, her mother moved on, Venetia fell upon
her forehead and uttered a faint scream. The heart of Lady Annabel
relented when she fancied her daughter suffered physical pain, however
slight; she hesitated, she turned, she hastened to her child; her
husband had simultaneously advanced; in the rapid movement and
confusion her hand touched that of Herbert.

'I yield her to you, Annabel,' said Herbert, placing Venetia in her
mother's arms. 'You mistake me, as you have often mistaken me, if you
think I seek to practise on the feelings of this angelic child. She is
yours; may she compensate you for the misery I have caused you, but
never sought to occasion!'

'I am not hurt, dear mother,' said Venetia, as her mother tenderly
examined her forehead. 'Dear, dear mother, why did you reproach me?'

'Forget it,' said Lady Annabel, in a softened tone; 'for indeed you
are irreproachable.'

'O Annabel!' said Herbert, 'may not this child be some atonement, this
child, of whom I solemnly declare I would not deprive you, though I
would willingly forfeit my life for a year of her affection; and your,
your sufferance,' he added.

'Mother! speak to him,' said Venetia, with her head on her mother's
bosom, who still, however, remained rigidly standing. But Lady Annabel
was silent.

'Your mother was ever stern and cold, Venetia,' said Herbert, the
bitterness of his heart at length expressing itself.

'Never,' said Venetia, with great energy; 'never; you know not my
mother. Was she stern and cold when she visited each night in secret
your portrait?' said Venetia, looking round upon her astonished
father, with her bright grey eye. 'Was she stern and cold when she
wept over your poems, those poems whose characters your own hand had
traced? Was she stern and cold when she hung a withered wreath on your
bridal bed, the bed to which I owe my miserable being? Oh, no, my
father! sad was the hour of separation for my mother and yourself.
It may have dimmed the lustre of her eye, and shaded your locks with
premature grey; but whatever may have been its inscrutable cause,
there was one victim of that dark hour, less thought of than
yourselves, and yet a greater sufferer than both, the being in whose
heart you implanted affections, whose unfulfilled tenderness has made
that wretched thing they call your daughter.'

'Annabel!' exclaimed Herbert, rapidly advancing, with an imploring
gesture, and speaking in a tone of infinite anguish, 'Annabel,
Annabel, even now we can be happy!'

The countenance of his wife was troubled, but its stern expression had
disappeared. The long-concealed, yet at length irrepressible, emotion
of Venetia had touched her heart. In the conflict of affection between
the claims of her two parents, Lady Annabel had observed with a
sentiment of sweet emotion, in spite of all the fearfulness of the
meeting, that Venetia had not faltered in her devotion to her mother.
The mental torture of her child touched her to the quick. In the
excitement of her anguish, Venetia had expressed a profound sentiment,
the irresistible truth of which Lady Annabel could no longer
withstand. She had too long and too fondly schooled herself to look
upon the outraged wife as the only victim. There was then, at length
it appeared to this stern-minded woman, another. She had laboured in
the flattering delusion that the devotion of a mother's love might
compensate to Venetia for the loss of that other parent, which in some
degree Lady Annabel had occasioned her; for the worthless husband, had
she chosen to tolerate the degrading connection, might nevertheless
have proved a tender father. But Nature, it seemed, had shrunk from
the vain effort of the isolated mother. The seeds of affection for
the father of her being were mystically implanted in the bosom of his
child. Lady Annabel recalled the harrowing hours that this attempt by
her to curb and control the natural course and rising sympathies
of filial love had cost her child, on whom she had so vigilantly
practised it. She recalled her strange aspirations, her inspired
curiosity, her brooding reveries, her fitful melancholy, her terrible
illness, her resignation, her fidelity, her sacrifices: there came
across the mind of Lady Annabel a mortifying conviction that the
devotion to her child, on which she had so rated herself, might
after all only prove a subtle form of profound selfishness; and that
Venetia, instead of being the idol of her love, might eventually be
the martyr of her pride. And, thinking of these things, she wept.

This evidence of emotion, which in such a spirit Herbert knew how to
estimate, emboldened him to advance; he fell on one knee before her
and her daughter; gently he stole her hand, and pressed it to his
lips. It was not withdrawn, and Venetia laid her hand upon theirs,
and would have bound them together had her mother been relentless.
It seemed to Venetia that she was at length happy, but she would
not speak, she would not disturb the still and silent bliss of the
impending reconciliation. Was it then indeed at hand? In truth, the
deportment of Herbert throughout the whole interview, so delicate, so
subdued, so studiously avoiding the slightest rivaly with his wife
in the affections of their child, and so carefully abstaining from
attempting in the slightest degree to control the feelings of Venetia,
had not been lost upon Lady Annabel. And when she thought of him, so
changed from what he had been, grey, bent, and careworn, with all the
lustre that had once so fascinated her, faded, and talking of that
impending fate which his wan though spiritual countenance too clearly
intimated, her heart melted.

Suddenly the door burst open, and there stalked into the room a woman
of eminent but most graceful stature, and of a most sovereign and
voluptuous beauty. She was habited in the Venetian dress; her dark
eyes glittered with fire, her cheek was inflamed with no amiable
emotion, and her long black hair was disordered by the violence of her
gesture.

'And who are these?' she exclaimed in a shrill voice.

All started; Herbert sprang up from his position with a glance of
withering rage. Venetia was perplexed, Lady Annabel looked round, and
recognised the identical face, however distorted by passion, that she
had admired in the portrait at Arquâ.

'And who are these?' exclaimed the intruder, advancing. 'Perfidious
Marmion! to whom do you dare to kneel?'

Lady Annabel drew herself up to a height that seemed to look down even
upon this tall stranger. The expression of majestic scorn that she
cast upon the intruder made her, in spite of all her violence and
excitement, tremble and be silent: she felt cowed she knew not why.

'Come, Venetia,' said Lady Annabel with all her usual composure, 'let
me save my daughter at least from this profanation,'

'Annabel!' said Herbert, rushing after them, 'be charitable, be just!'
He followed them to the threshold of the door; Venetia was silent, for
she was alarmed.

'Adieu, Marmion!' said Lady Annabel, looking over her shoulder with a
bitter smile, but placing her daughter before her, as if to guard her.
'Adieu, Marmion! adieu for ever!'



CHAPTER VI.


The moon shone brightly on the house of Petrarch, and the hamlet
slept in peace. Not a sound was heard, save the shrill voice of the
grasshoppers, so incessant that its monotony blended, as it were, with
the stillness. Over the green hills and the far expanse of the sheeny
plain, the beautiful light of heaven fell with all the magical repose
of the serene hour, an hour that brought to one troubled breast, and
one distracted spirit, in that still and simple village, no quietude.

Herbert came forth into the balcony of his residence, and leaning over
the balustrade, revolved in his agitated mind the strange and stirring
incidents of the day. His wife and his child had quitted the inn of
Rovigo instantly after that mortifying rencounter that had dashed so
cruelly to the ground all his sweet and quickly-rising hopes. As for
his companion, she had by his peremptory desire returned to Arquâ
alone; he was not in a mood to endure her society; but he had
conducted himself to her mildly, though with firmness; he had promised
to follow her, and, in pursuance of his pledge, he rode home alone.

He was greeted on his return by his servant, full of the the visit
of the morning. With an irresistible curiosity, Herbert had made him
describe every incident that had occurred, and repeat a hundred times
every word that the visitors had uttered. He listened with some
consolation, however mournful, to his wife's praises of the unknown
stranger's life; he gazed with witching interest upon the autograph of
his daughter on the wall of his library. He had not confessed to his
mistress the relation which the two strangers bore to him; yet he was
influenced in concealing the real circumstances, only by an indefinite
sentiment, that made him reluctant to acknowledge to her ties so
pure. The feelings of the parent overpowered the principles of the
philosopher. This lady indeed, although at the moment she had indulged
in so violent an ebullition of temper, possessed little influence over
the mind of her companion. Herbert, however fond of solitude,
required in his restricted world the graceful results of feminine
superintendence. Time had stilled his passions, and cooled the fervour
of his soul. The age of his illusions had long passed. This was a
connection that had commenced in no extravagant or romantic mood, and
perhaps for that reason had endured. He had become acquainted with her
on his first unknown arrival in Italy, from America, now nearly two
years back. It had been maintained on his side by a temper naturally
sweet, and which, exhausted by years of violent emotion, now required
only repose; seeking, in a female friend, a form that should not
outrage an eye ever musing on the beautiful, and a disposition that
should contribute to his comfort, and never ruffle his feelings.
Separated from his wife by her own act, whatever might have been its
impulse, and for so long an interval, it was a connection which the
world in general might have looked upon with charity, which in her
calmer hours one would imagine even Lady Annabel might have glanced
over without much bitterness. Certainly it was one which, under all
the circumstances of the case, could scarcely be esteemed by her as an
outrage or an insult; but even Herbert felt, with all his philosophy
and proud freedom from prejudice, that the rencounter of the morning
was one which no woman could at the moment tolerate, few eventually
excuse, and which of all incidents was that which would most tend to
confirm his wife in her stoical obduracy. Of his offences towards
her, whatever were their number or their quality, this surely was the
least, and yet its results upon his life and fortunes would in all
probability only be equalled by the mysterious cause of their original
separation. But how much more bitter than that original separation
was their present parting! Mortifying and annoying as had been the
original occurrence, it was one that many causes and considerations
combined to enable Herbert to support. He was then in the very prime
of youth, inexperienced, sanguine, restless, and adventurous, with the
whole world and its unknown results before him, and freedom for which
he ever sighed to compensate for the loss of that domestic joy that
he was then unable to appreciate. But now twenty years, which, in the
career of such a spirit, were equal to a century of the existence of
coarser clay, had elapsed; he was bowed with thought and suffering, if
not by time; his conscience was light, but it was sad; his illusions
had all vanished; he knew the world, and all that the world could
bring, and he disregarded them; and the result of all his profound
study, lofty aspirations, and great conduct was, that he sighed for
rest. The original catastrophe had been merely a separation between
a husband and a wife; the one that had just happened, involved other
feelings; the father was also separated from his child, and a child of
such surpassing qualities, that his brief acquaintance with her had
alone sufficed to convert his dream of domestic repose into a vision
of domestic bliss.

Beautiful Venetia! so fair, and yet so dutiful; with a bosom teeming
with such exquisite sensibilities, and a mind bright with such acute
and elevated intelligence! An abstract conception of the sentiments
that might subsist between a father and a daughter, heightened by all
the devices of a glowing imagination, had haunted indeed occasionally
the solitary musing of Marmion Herbert; but what was this creation of
his poetic brain compared with the reality that now had touched his
human heart? Vainly had he believed that repose was the only solace
that remained for his exhausted spirit. He found that a new passion
now swayed his soul; a passion, too, that he had never proved; of
a nature most peculiar; pure, gentle, refined, yet ravishing and
irresistible, compared with which all former transports, no matter how
violent, tumultuous, and exciting, seemed evanescent and superficial:
they were indeed the wind, the fire, and the tempest that had gone
before, but this was the still small voice that followed, excelled,
and survived their might and majesty, unearthly and eternal!

His heart melted to his daughter, nor did he care to live without her
love and presence. His philosophical theories all vanished. He felt
how dependent we are in this world on our natural ties, and how
limited, with all his arrogance, is the sphere of man. Dreaming of
philanthropy, he had broken his wife's heart, and bruised, perhaps
irreparably, the spirit of his child; he had rendered those miserable
who depended on his love, and for whose affection his heart now
yearned to that degree, that he could not contemplate existence
without their active sympathy.

Was it then too late! Was it then impossible to regain that Paradise
he had forfeited so weakly, and of whose amaranthine bowers, but a few
hours since, he had caught such an entrancing glimpse, of which the
gate for a moment seemed about to re-open! In spite of all, then,
Annabel still loved him, loved him passionately, visited his picture,
mused over the glowing expression of their loves, wept over the bridal
bed so soon deserted! She had a dog, too, when Venetia was a child,
and called it Marmion.

The recollection of this little trait, so trifling, yet so touching,
made him weep even with wildness. The tears poured down his cheeks in
torrents, he sobbed convulsively, his very heart seemed to burst. For
some minutes he leant over the balustrade in a paroxysm of grief.

He looked up. The convent hill rose before him, bright in the moon;
beneath was his garden; around him the humble roofs that he made
happy. It was not without an effort that he recalled the locality,
that he remembered he was at Arquâ. And who was sleeping within the
house? Not his wife, Annabel was far away with their daughter. The
vision of his whole life passed before him. Study and strife, and fame
and love; the pride of the philosopher, the rapture of the poet,
the blaze of eloquence, the clash of arms, the vows of passion, the
execration and the applause of millions; both once alike welcome to
his indomitable soul! And what had they borne to him? Misery. He
called up the image of his wife, young, beautiful, and noble, with a
mind capable of comprehending his loftiest and his finest moods, with
a soul of matchless purity, and a temper whose winning tenderness had
only been equalled by her elevated sense of self-respect; a woman that
might have figured in the days of chivalry, soft enough to be his
slave, but too proud to be his victim. He called up her image in
the castle of his fathers, exercising in a domain worthy of such a
mistress, all those sweet offices of life which here, in this hired
roof in a strange land, and with his crippled means, he had yet found
solacing. He conjured before him a bud by the side of that beauteous
flower, sharing all her lustre and all her fragrance, his own Venetia!
What happiness might not have been his? And for what had he forfeited
it? A dream, with no dream-like beauty; a perturbed, and restless, and
agitated dream, from which he had now woke shattered and exhausted.

He had sacrificed his fortune, he had forfeited his country, he had
alienated his wife, and he had lost his child; the home of his heroic
ancestry, the ancient land whose fame and power they had created, the
beauteous and gifted woman who would have clung for ever to his bosom,
and her transcendant offspring worthy of all their loves! Profound
philosopher!

The clock of the convent struck the second hour after midnight.
Herbert started. And all this time where were Annabel and Venetia?
They still lived, they were in the same country, an hour ago they were
under the same roof, in the same chamber; their hands had joined,
their hearts had opened, for a moment he had dared to believe that all
that he cared for might be regained. And why was it not? The cause,
the cause? It recurred to him with associations of dislike, of
disgust, of wrath, of hatred, of which one whose heart was so tender,
and whose reason was so clear, could under the influence of no other
feelings have been capable. The surrounding scene, that had so often
soothed his mournful soul, and connected it with the last hours of
a spirit to whom he bore much resemblance, was now looked upon with
aversion. To rid himself of ties, now so dreadful, was all his
ambition. He entered the house quickly, and, seating himself in his
closet, he wrote these words:

'You beheld this morning my wife and child; we can meet no more. All
that I can effect to console you under this sudden separation shall be
done. My banker from Bologna will be here in two days; express to him
all your wishes.'

It was written, sealed, directed, and left upon the table at which
they had so often been seated. Herbert descended into the garden,
saddled his horse, and in a few minutes, in the heart of night, had
quitted Arquâ.



CHAPTER VII.


The moment that the wife of Marmion Herbert re-entered her saloon, she
sent for her courier and ordered horses to her carriage instantly.
Until they were announced as ready, Lady Annabel walked up and down
the room with an impatient step, but was as completely silent as the
miserable Venetia, who remained weeping on the sofa. The confusion and
curiosity of Mistress Pauncefort were extraordinary. She still had a
lurking suspicion that the gentleman was Lord Cadurcis and she seized
the first opportunity of leaving the room, and flouncing into that of
the stranger, as if by mistake, determined to catch a glimpse of him;
but all her notable skill was baffled, for she had scarcely opened the
door before she was met by the Italian lady, who received Mistress
Pauncefort's ready-made apology, and bowed her away. The faithful
attendant then hurried downstairs to crossexamine the waiter, but,
though she gained considerable information from that functionary, it
was of a perplexing nature; for from him she only learnt that the
stranger lived at Arquâ. 'The German gentleman!' soliloquised Mistress
Pauncefort; 'and what could he have to say to Miss Venetia! and a
married man, too! Well, to be sure, there is nothing like travelling
for adventures! And I must say, considering all that I know, and how
I have held my tongue for nearly twenty years, I think it is very
strange indeed of my lady to have any secrets from me. Secrets,
indeed! Poh!' and Mistress Pauncefort flounced again into Lady
Annabel's room, with a face of offended pride, knocking the books
about, dashing down writing cases, tossing about work, and making as
much noise and disturbance as if she had a separate quarrel with every
single article under her superintendence.

In the meantime the carriage was prepared, to which they were obliged
almost to carry Venetia, feeble and stupefied with grief. Uncertain
of her course, but anxious, in the present state of her daughter, for
rest and quiet, Lady Annabel ordered the courier to proceed to Padua,
at which city they arrived late at night, scarcely a word having been
interchanged during the whole journey between Lady Annabel and her
child, though infinite were the soft and soothing attentions which the
mother lavished upon her. Night, however, brought no rest to Venetia;
and the next day, her state appeared so alarming to Lady Annabel, that
she would have instantly summoned medical assistance, had it not been
for Venetia's strong objections. 'Indeed, dear mother,' she said,
'it is not physicians that I require. They cannot cure me. Let me be
quiet.'

The same cause, indeed, which during the last five years had at
intervals so seriously menaced the existence of this unhappy girl, was
now at work with renovated and even irresistible influence. Her frame
could no longer endure the fatal action of her over-excited nerves.
Her first illness, however alarming, had been baffled by time, skill,
and principally by the vigour of an extremely youthful frame, then a
stranger to any serious indisposition. At a later period, the change
of life induced by their residence at Weymouth had permitted her again
to rally. She had quitted England with renewed symptoms of her former
attack, but a still more powerful change, not only of scene, but of
climate and country, and the regular and peaceful life she had led on
the Lago Maggiore, had again reassured the mind of her anxious mother.
This last adventure at Rovigo, however, prostrated her. The strange
surprise, the violent development of feeling, the agonising doubts and
hopes, the terrible suspense the profound and bitter and overwhelming
disappointment, all combined to shake her mind to its very
foundations. She felt for the first time, that she could no longer
bear up against the torture of her singular position. Her energy was
entirely exhausted; she was no longer capable of making the slightest
exertion; she took refuge in that torpid resignation that results from
utter hopelessness.

Lying on her sofa with her eyes fixed in listless abstraction, the
scene at Rovigo flitted unceasingly before her languid vision. At
length she had seen that father, that unknown and mysterious father,
whose idea had haunted her infancy as if by inspiration; to gain
the slightest knowledge of whom had cost her many long and acute
suffering; and round whose image for so many years every thought of
her intelligence, and every feeling of her heart, had clustered like
spirits round some dim and mystical altar, At length she had beheld
him; she had gazed on that spiritual countenance; she had listened to
the tender accents of that musical voice; within his arms she had been
folded with rapture, and pressed to a heart that seemed to beat
only for her felicity. The blessing of her father, uttered by his
long-loved lips, had descended on her brow, and been sealed with his
passionate embrace.

The entrance of her mother, that terrible contest of her lacerated
heart, when her two parents, as it were, appealed to her love, which
they would not share; the inspiration of her despair, that so suddenly
had removed the barriers of long years, before whose irresistible
pathos her father had bent a penitent, and her mother's inexorable
pride had melted; the ravishing bliss that for a moment had thrilled
through her, being experienced too for the first time, when she felt
that her parents were again united and bound by the sweet tie of her
now happy existence; this was the drama acted before her with an
almost ceaseless repetition of its transporting incidents; and when
she looked round, and beheld her mother sitting alone, and watching
her with a countenance almost of anguish, it was indeed with extreme
difficulty that Venetia could persuade herself that all had not been a
reverie; and she was only convinced of the contrary by that heaviness
of the heart which too quickly assures us of the reality of those
sorrows of which fancy for a moment may cheat us into scepticism.

And indeed her mother was scarcely less miserable. The sight of
Herbert, so changed from the form that she remembered; those tones of
heart-rending sincerity, in which he had mournfully appealed to the
influence of time and sorrow on his life, still greatly affected her.
She had indulged for a moment in a dream of domestic love, she had
cast to the winds the inexorable determination of a life, and had
mingled her tears with those of her husband and her child. And how
had she been repaid? By a degrading catastrophe, from whose revolting
associations her mind recoiled with indignation and disgust. But her
lingering feeling for her husband, her own mortification, were as
nothing compared with the harrowing anxiety she now entertained for
her daughter. To converse with Venetia on the recent occurrence was
impossible. It was a subject which admitted of no discussion. They
had passed a week at Padua, and the slightest allusion to what had
happened had never been made by either Lady Annabel or her child. It
was only by her lavish testimonies of affection that Lady Annabel
conveyed to Venetia how deeply she sympathised with her, and how
unhappy she was herself. She had, indeed, never quitted for a moment
the side of her daughter, and witnessed each day, with renewed
anguish, her deplorable condition; for Venetia continued in a state
which, to those unacquainted with her, might have been mistaken for
insensibility, but her mother knew too well that it was despair.
She never moved, she never sighed, nor wept; she took no notice of
anything that occurred; she sought relief in no resources. Books, and
drawings, and music, were quite forgotten by her; nothing amused, and
nothing annoyed her; she was not even fretful; she had, apparently,
no physical ailment; she remained pale and silent, plunged in an
absorbing paroxysm of overwhelming woe.

The unhappy Lady Annabel, at a loss how to act, at length thought it
might be advisable to cross over to Venice. She felt assured now, that
it would be a long time, if ever, before her child could again endure
the fatigue of travel; and she thought that for every reason, whether
for domestic comfort or medical advice, or those multifarious
considerations which interest the invalid, a capital was by far the
most desirable residence for them. There was a time when a visit to
the city that had given her a name had been a favourite dream of
Venetia; she had often sighed to be within

  The sea-born city's walls; the graceful towers
  Loved by the bard.

Those lines of her father had long echoed in her ear; but now the
proposition called no light to her glazed eye, nor summoned for an
instant the colour back to her cheek. She listened to her mother's
suggestion, and expressed her willingness to do whatever she desired.
Venice to her was now only a name; for, without the presence and the
united love of both her parents, no spot on earth could interest, and
no combination of circumstances affect her. To Venice, however, they
departed, having previously taken care that every arrangement should
be made for their reception. The English ambassador at the Ducal court
was a relative of Lady Annabel, and therefore no means or exertions
were spared to study and secure the convenience and accommodation of
the invalid. The barge of the ambassador met them at Fusina; and when
Venetia beheld the towers and cupolas of Venice, suffused with a
golden light and rising out of the bright blue waters, for a moment
her spirit seemed to lighten. It is indeed a spectacle as beautiful as
rare, and one to which the world offers few, if any, rivals. Gliding
over the great Lagune, the buildings, with which the pictures at
Cherbury had already made her familiar, gradually rose up before her:
the mosque-like Church of St. Marc, the tall Campanile red in the sun,
the Moresco Palace of the Doges, the deadly Bridge of Sighs, and the
dark structure to which it leads.

Venice had not then fallen. The gorgeous standards of the sovereign
republic, and its tributary kingdoms, still waved in the Place of St.
Marc; the Bucentaur was not rotting in the Arsenal, and the warlike
galleys of the state cruised without the Lagune; a busy and
picturesque population swarmed in all directions; and the Venetian
noble, the haughtiest of men, might still be seen proudly moving from
the council of state, or stepping into a gondola amid a bowing crowd.
All was stirring life, yet all was silent; the fantastic architecture,
the glowing sky, the flitting gondolas, and the brilliant crowd
gliding about with noiseless step, this city without sound, it seemed
a dream!



CHAPTER VIII


The ambassador had engaged for Lady Annabel a palace on the Grand
Canal, belonging to Count Manfrini. It was a structure of great size
and magnificence, and rose out of the water with a flight of marble
steps. Within was a vast gallery, lined with statues and busts on tall
pedestals; suites of spacious apartments, with marble floors and
hung with satin; ceilings painted by Tintoretto and full of Turkish
trophies; furniture alike sumptuous and massy; the gilding, although
of two hundred years' duration, as bright and burnished as if it
had but yesterday been touched with the brush; sequin gold, as
the Venetians tell you to this day with pride. But even their old
furniture will soon not be left to them, as palaces are now daily
broken up like old ships, and their colossal spoils consigned to
Hanway Yard and Bond Street, whence, re-burnished and vamped up, their
Titantic proportions in time appropriately figure in the boudoirs of
May Fair and the miniature saloons of St. James'. Many a fine lady now
sits in a doge's chair, and many a dandy listens to his doom from a
couch that has already witnessed the less inexorable decrees of the
Council of Ten.

Amid all this splendour, however, one mournful idea alone pervaded the
tortured consciousness of Lady Annabel Herbert. Daily the dark truth
stole upon her with increased conviction, that Venetia had come hither
only to die. There seemed to the agitated ear of this distracted
mother a terrible omen even in the very name of her child; and she
could not resist the persuasion that her final destiny would, in some
degree, be connected with her fanciful appellation. The physicians,
for hopeless as Lady Annabel could not resist esteeming their
interference, Venetia was now surrounded with physicians, shook their
heads, prescribed different remedies and gave contrary opinions; each
day, however, their patient became more languid, thinner and more
thin, until she seemed like a beautiful spirit gliding into the
saloon, leaning on her mother's arm, and followed by Pauncefort, who
had now learnt the fatal secret from, her mistress, and whose heart
was indeed almost broken at the prospect of the calamity that was
impending over them.

At Padua, Lady Annabel, in her mortified reveries, outraged as she
conceived by her husband, and anxious about her daughter, had schooled
herself into visiting her fresh calamities on the head of the unhappy
Herbert, to whose intrusion and irresistible influence she ascribed
all the illness of her child; but, as the indisposition of Venetia
gradually, but surely, increased, until at length it assumed so
alarming an aspect that Lady Annabel, in the distraction of her mind,
could no longer refrain from contemplating the most fatal result, she
had taught herself bitterly to regret the failure of that approaching
reconciliation which now she could not but believe would, at least,
have secured her the life of Venetia. Whatever might be the risk
of again uniting herself with her husband, whatever might be the
mortification and misery which it might ultimately, or even speedily,
entail upon her, there was no unhappiness that she could herself
experience, which for one moment she could put in competition with the
existence of her child. When that was the question, every feeling
that had hitherto impelled her conduct assumed a totally different
complexion. That conduct, in her view, had been a systematic sacrifice
of self to secure the happiness of her daughter; and the result of all
her exertions was, that not only her happiness was destroyed, but her
life was fast vanishing away. To save Venetia, it now appeared to Lady
Annabel that there was no extremity which she would not endure; and if
it came to a question, whether Venetia should survive, or whether
she should even be separated from her mother, her maternal heart now
assured her that she would not for an instant hesitate in preferring
an eternal separation to the death of her child. Her terror now worked
to such a degree upon her character, that she even, at times, half
resolved to speak to Venetia upon the subject, and contrive some
method of communicating her wishes to her father; but pride, the
habitual repugnance of so many years to converse upon the topic,
mingled also, as should be confessed, with an indefinite apprehension
of the ill consequences of a conversation of such a character on the
nervous temperament of her daughter, restrained her.

'My love!' said Lady Annabel, one day to her daughter, 'do you think
you could go out? The physicians think it of great importance that you
should attempt to exert yourself, however slightly.'

'Dear mother, if anything could annoy me from your lips, it would
be to hear you quote these physicians,' said Venetia. 'Their daily
presence and inquiries irritate me. Let me be at peace. I wish to see
no one but you.'

'But Venetia,' said Lady Annabel, in a voice of great emotion,
'Venetia--,' and here she paused; 'think of my anxiety.'

'Dear mother, it would be ungrateful for me ever to forget that. But
you, and you alone, know that my state, whatever it may be, and to
whatever it may be I am reconciled, is not produced by causes over
which these physicians have any control, over which no one has
control--now,' added Venetia, in a tone of great mournfulness.

For here we must remark that so inexperienced was Venetia in the
feelings of others, and so completely did she judge of the strength
and purity of their emotions from her own, that reflection, since the
terrible adventure of Rovigo, had only convinced her that it was no
longer in her mother's power to unite herself again with her other
parent. She had taught herself to look upon her father's burst of
feeling towards Lady Annabel as the momentary and inevitable result of
a meeting so unexpected and overpowering, but she did not doubt that
the stranger whose presence had ultimately so fatally clouded that
interview of promise, possessed claims upon Marmion Herbert which he
would neither break, nor, upon reflection, be desirous to question. It
was then the conviction that a reconciliation between her parents was
now impossible, in which her despair originated, and she pictured to
herself her father once more at Arquâ disturbed, perhaps, for a day
or two, as he naturally must be, by an interview so sudden and so
harassing; shedding a tear, perhaps, in secret to the wife whom he had
injured, and the child whom he had scarcely seen; but relapsing, alike
from the force of habit and inclination, into those previous and
confirmed feelings, under whose influence, she was herself a witness,
his life had been so serene, and even so laudable. She was confirmed
in these opinions by the circumstance of their never having heard
since from him. Placed in his situation, if indeed an irresistible
influence were not controlling him, would he have hesitated for a
moment to have prevented even their departure, or to have pursued
them; to have sought at any rate some means of communicating with
them? He was plainly reconciled to his present position, and felt that
under these circumstances silence on his part was alike kindest and
most discreet. Venetia had ceased, therefore, to question the justice
or the expediency, or even the abstract propriety, of her mother's
conduct. She viewed their condition now as the result of stern
necessity. She pitied her mother, and for herself she had no hope.

There was then much meaning in that little monosyllable with which
Venetia concluded her reply to her mother. She had no hope 'now.' Lady
Annabel, however, ascribed it to a very different meaning; she only
believed that her daughter was of opinion that nothing would induce
her now to listen to the overtures of her father. Prepared for any
sacrifice of self, Lady Annabel replied, 'But there is hope, Venetia;
when your life is in question, there is nothing that should not be
done.'

'Nothing can be done,' said Venetia, who, of course, could not dream
of what was passing in her mother's mind.

Lady Annabel rose from her seat and walked to the window; apparently
her eye watched only the passing gondolas, but indeed she saw them
not; she saw only her child stretched perhaps on the couch of death.

'We quitted, perhaps, Rovigo too hastily,' said Lady Annabel, in a
choking voice, and with a face of scarlet. It was a terrible struggle,
but the words were uttered.

'No, mother,' said Venetia, to Lady Annabel's inexpressible surprise,
'we did right to go.'

'Even my child, even Venetia, with all her devotion to him, feels the
absolute necessity of my conduct,' thought Lady Annabel. Her pride
returned; she felt the impossibility of making an overture to Herbert;
she looked upon their daughter as the last victim of his fatal career.



CHAPTER IX.


How beautiful is night in Venice! Then music and the moon reign
supreme; the glittering sky reflected in the waters, and every gondola
gliding with sweet sounds! Around on every side are palaces and
temples, rising from the waves which they shadow with their solemn
forms, their costly fronts rich with the spoils of kingdoms, and
softened with the magic of the midnight beam. The whole city too is
poured forth for festival. The people lounge on the quays and cluster
on the bridges; the light barks skim along in crowds, just touching
the surface of the water, while their bright prows of polished iron
gleam in the moonshine, and glitter in the rippling wave. Not a sound
that is not graceful: the tinkle of guitars, the sighs of serenaders,
and the responsive chorus of gondoliers. Now and then a laugh,
light, joyous, and yet musical, bursts forth from some illuminated
coffee-house, before which a buffo disports, a tumbler stands on his
head, or a juggler mystifies; and all for a sequin!

The Place of St. Marc, at the period of our story, still presented the
most brilliant spectacle of the kind in Europe. Not a spot was more
distinguished for elegance, luxury, and enjoyment. It was indeed the
inner shrine of the temple of pleasure, and very strange and amusing
would be the annals of its picturesque arcades. We must not, however,
step behind their blue awnings, but content ourselves with the
exterior scene; and certainly the Place of St. Marc, with the
variegated splendour of its Christian mosque, the ornate architecture
of its buildings, its diversified population, a tribute from every
shore of the midland sea, and where the noble Venetian, in his robe
of crimson silk, and long white peruque, might be jostled by the
Sclavonian with his target, and the Albanian in his kilt, while the
Turk, sitting cross-legged on his Persian carpet, smoked his long
chibouque with serene gravity, and the mild Armenian glided by him
with a low reverence, presented an aspect under a Venetian moon such
as we shall not easily find again in Christendom, and, in spite of the
dying glory and the neighbouring vice, was pervaded with an air of
romance and refinement, compared with which the glittering dissipation
of Paris, even in its liveliest and most graceful hours, assumes a
character alike coarse and commonplace.

It is the hour of love and of faro; now is the hour to press your suit
and to break a bank; to glide from the apartment of rapture into the
chamber of chance. Thus a noble Venetian contrived to pass the night,
in alternations of excitement that in general left him sufficiently
serious for the morrow's council. For more vulgar tastes there was the
minstrel, the conjuror, and the story-teller, goblets of Cyprus wine,
flasks of sherbet, and confectionery that dazzled like diamonds. And
for every one, from the grave senator to the gay gondolier, there was
an atmosphere in itself a spell, and which, after all, has more to do
with human happiness than all the accidents of fortune and all the
arts of government.

Amid this gay and brilliant multitude, one human being stood alone.
Muffled in his cloak, and leaning against a column in the portico
of St. Marc, an expression of oppressive care and affliction was
imprinted on his countenance, and ill accorded with the light and
festive scene. Had he been crossed in love, or had he lost at
play? Was it woman or gold to which his anxiety and sorrow were
attributable, for under one or other of these categories, undoubtedly,
all the miseries of man may range. Want of love, or want of money,
lies at the bottom of all our griefs.

The stranger came forward, and leaving the joyous throng, turned down
the Piazzetta, and approached the quay of the Lagune. A gondolier
saluted him, and he entered his boat.

'Whither, signor?' said the gondolier.

'To the Grand Canal,' he replied.

Over the moonlit wave the gondola swiftly skimmed! The scene was a
marvellous contrast to the one which the stranger had just quitted;
but it brought no serenity to his careworn countenance, though his eye
for a moment kindled as he looked upon the moon, that was sailing in
the cloudless heaven with a single star by her side.

They had soon entered the Grand Canal, and the gondolier looked to his
employer for instructions. 'Row opposite to the Manfrini palace,' said
the stranger, 'and rest upon your oar.'

The blinds of the great window of the palace were withdrawn.
Distinctly might be recognised a female figure bending over the
recumbent form of a girl. An hour passed away and still the gondola
was motionless, and still the silent stranger gazed on the inmates of
the palace. A servant now came forward and closed the curtain of the
chamber. The stranger sighed, and waving his hand to the gondolier,
bade him return to the Lagune.



CHAPTER X.


It is curious to recall our feelings at a moment when a great event
is impending over us, and we are utterly unconscious of its probable
occurrence. How often does it happen that a subject which almost
unceasingly engages our mind, is least thought of at the very instant
that the agitating suspense involved in its consideration is perhaps
about to be terminated for ever! The very morning after the mysterious
gondola had rested so long before the Manfrini Palace, Venetia rose
for the first time since the flight from Rovigo, refreshed by her
slumbers, and tranquil in her spirit. It was not in her power
to recall her dreams; but they had left a vague and yet serene
impression. There seemed a lightness in her heart, that long had been
unusual with her, and she greeted her mother with a smile, faint
indeed, yet natural.

Perhaps this beneficial change, slight but still delightful, might be
attributed to the softness and the splendour of the morn. Before the
approach of winter, it seemed that the sun was resolved to remind the
Venetians that they were his children; and that, although his rays
might be soon clouded for a season, they were not to believe that
their parent had deserted them. The sea was like glass, a golden haze
suffused the horizon, and a breeze, not strong enough to disturb the
waters, was wafted at intervals from the gardens of the Brenta, fitful
and sweet.

Venetia had yielded to the suggestion of her mother, and had agreed
for the first time to leave the palace. They stepped into their
gondola, and were wafted to an island in the Lagune where there was
a convent, and, what in Venice was more rare and more delightful, a
garden. Its scanty shrubberies sparkled in the sun; and a cypress
flanked by a pine-tree offered to the eye unused to trees a novel and
picturesque group. Beneath its shade they rested, watching on one side
the distant city, and on the other the still and gleaming waters of
the Adriatic. While they were thus sitting, renovated by the soft air
and pleasant spectacle, a holy father, with a beard like a meteor,
appeared and addressed them.

'Welcome to St. Lazaro!' said the holy father, speaking in English;
'and may the peace that reigns within its walls fill also your
breasts!'

'Indeed, holy father,' said Lady Annabel to the Armenian monk, 'I have
long heard of your virtues and your happy life.'

'You know that Paradise was placed in our country,' said the monk with
a smile. 'We have all lost Paradise, but the Armenian has lost his
country too. Nevertheless, with God's blessing, on this islet we have
found an Eden, pure at least and tranquil.'

'For the pious, Paradise exists everywhere,' said Lady Annabel.

'You have been in England, holy father?' said Venetia.

'It has not been my good fortune,' replied the monk.

'Yet you speak our tongue with a facility and accent that surprise
me.'

'I learnt it in America where I long resided,' rejoined the Armenian.

'This is for your eye, lady,' continued the monk, drawing a letter
from his bosom.

Lady Annabel felt not a little surprised; but the idea immediately
occurred to her that it was some conventual memorial appealing to her
charity. She took the paper from the monk, who immediately moved away;
but what was the agitation of Lady Annabel when she recognised the
handwriting of her husband! Her first thought was to save Venetia
from sharing that agitation. She rose quickly; she commanded herself
sufficiently to advise her daughter, in a calm tone, to remain seated,
while for a moment she refreshed herself by a stroll. She had not
quitted Venetia many paces, when she broke the seal and read these
lines:

'Tremble not, Annabel, when you recognise this handwriting. It is that
of one whose only aspiration is to contribute to your happiness; and
although the fulfilment of that fond desire may be denied him, it
never shall be said, even by you, that any conduct of his should now
occasion you annoyance. I am in Venice at the peril of my life, which
I only mention because the difficulties inseparable from my position
are the principal cause that you did not receive this communication
immediately after our strange meeting. I have gazed at night upon your
palace, and watched the forms of my wife and our child; but one word
from you, and I quit Venice for ever, and it shall not be my fault if
you are ever again disturbed by the memory of the miserable Herbert.

'But before I go, I will make this one appeal if not to your justice,
at least to your mercy. After the fatal separation of a life, we have
once more met: you have looked upon me not with hatred; my hand has
once more pressed yours; for a moment I indulged the impossible hope,
that this weary and exhausted spirit might at length be blessed. With
agony I allude to the incident that dispelled the rapture of
this vision. Sufficient for me most solemnly to assure you that
four-and-twenty hours had not elapsed without that feeble and
unhallowed tie being severed for ever! It vanished instantaneously
before the presence of my wife and my child. However you decide, it
can never again subsist: its utter and eternal dissolution was the
inevitable homage to your purity.

'Whatever may have been my errors, whatever my crimes, for I will not
attempt to justify to you a single circumstance of my life, I humble
myself in the dust before you, and solicit only mercy; yet whatever
may have been my career, ah! Annabel, in the infinite softness of your
soul was it not for a moment pardoned? Am I indeed to suffer for that
last lamentable intrusion? You are a woman, Annabel, with a brain as
clear as your heart is pure. Judge me with calmness, Annabel; were
there no circumstances in my situation to extenuate that deplorable
connection? I will not urge them; I will not even intimate them; but
surely, Annabel, when I kneel before you full of deep repentance and
long remorse, if you could pardon the past, it is not that incident,
however mortifying to you, however disgraceful to myself, that should
be an impassable barrier to all my hopes!

'Once you loved me; I ask you not to love me now. There is nothing
about me now that can touch the heart of woman. I am old before my
time; bent with the blended influence of action and of thought, and of
physical and moral suffering. The play of my spirit has gone for ever.
My passions have expired like my hopes. The remaining sands of my life
are few. Once it was otherwise: you can recall a different picture of
the Marmion on whom you smiled, and of whom you were the first love. O
Annabel! grey, feeble, exhausted, penitent, let me stagger over your
threshold, and die! I ask no more; I will not hope for your affection;
I will not even count upon your pity; but endure my presence; let your
roof screen my last days!'

It was read; it was read again, dim as was the sight of Lady Annabel
with fast-flowing tears. Still holding the letter, but with hands
fallen, she gazed upon the shining waters before her in a fit of
abstraction. It was the voice of her child that roused her.

'Mother,' said Venetia in a tone of some decision, 'you are troubled,
and we have only one cause of trouble. That letter is from my father.'

Lady Annabel gave her the letter in silence.

Venetia withdrew almost unconsciously a few paces from her mother. She
felt this to be the crisis of her life. There never was a moment which
she believed required more fully the presence of all her energies.
Before she had addressed Lady Annabel, she had endeavoured to steel
her mind to great exertion. Yet now that she held the letter, she
could not command herself sufficiently to read it. Her breath deserted
her; her hand lost its power; she could not even open the lines on
which perhaps her life depended. Suddenly, with a rapid effort, she
glanced at the contents. The blood returned to her check; her eye
became bright with excitement; she gasped for breath; she advanced to
Lady Annabel. 'Ah! mother,' she exclaimed, 'you will grant all that it
desires!'

Still gazing on the wave that laved the shore of the island with an
almost inperceptible ripple, Lady Annabel continued silent.

'Mother,' said Venetia, 'my beloved mother, you hesitate.' She
approached Lady Annabel, and with one arm round her neck, she grasped
with the other her mother's hand. 'I implore you, by all that
affection which you lavish on me, yield to this supplication. O
mother! dearest mother! it has been my hope that my life has been at
least a life of duty; I have laboured to yield to all your wishes.
I have struggled to make their fulfilment the law of my being. Yes!
mother, your memory will assure you, that when the sweetest emotions
of my heart were the stake, you appealed to me to sacrifice them, and
they were dedicated to your will. Have I ever murmured? I have sought
only to repay your love by obedience. Speak to me, dearest mother! I
implore you speak to me! Tell me, can you ever repent relenting in
this instance? O mother! you will not hesitate; you will not indeed;
you will bring joy and content to our long-harassed hearth! Tell me
so; I beseech you tell me so! I wish, oh! how I wish, that you would
comply from the mere impulse of your own heart! But, grant that it
is a sacrifice; grant that it may be unwise; that it may be vain; I
supplicate you to make it! I, your child, who never deserted you, who
will never desert you, pledging my faith to you in the face of heaven;
for my sake, I supplicate you to make it. You do not hesitate; you
cannot hesitate; mother, you cannot hesitate. Ah! you would not if you
knew all; if you knew all the misery of my life, you would be glad;
you would be cheerful; you would look upon this as an interposition of
Providence in favour of your Venetia; you would, indeed, dear mother!'

'What evil fortune guided our steps to Italy?' said Lady Annabel in a
solemn tone, and as if in soliloquy.

'No, no, mother; not evil fortune; fortune the best and brightest,'
exclaimed her daughter, 'We came here to be happy, and happiness we
have at length gained. It is in our grasp; I feel it. It was not
fortune, dear mother! it was fate, it was Providence, it was God. You
have been faithful to Him, and He has brought back to you my father,
chastened and repentant. God has turned his heart to all your virtues.
Will you desert him? No, no, mother, you will not, you cannot; for his
sake, for your own sake, and for your child's, you will not!'

'For twenty years I have acted from an imperious sense of duty,' said
Lady Annabel, 'and for your sake, Venetia, as much as for my own.
Shall the feelings of a moment--'

'O mother! dearest mother! say not these words. With me, at least,
it has not been the feeling of a moment. It haunted my infancy; it
harassed me while a girl; it has brought me in the prime of womanhood
to the brink of the grave. And with you, mother, has it been the
feeling of a moment? Ah! you ever loved him, when his name was never
breathed by those lips. You loved him when you deemed he had forgotten
you; when you pictured him to yourself in all the pride of health and
genius, wanton and daring; and now, now that he comes to you penitent,
perhaps dying, more like a remorseful spirit than a breathing being,
and humbles himself before you, and appeals only to your mercy, ah! my
mother, you cannot reject, you could not reject him, even if you were
alone, even if you had no child!'

'My child! my child! all my hopes were in my child,' murmured Lady
Annabel.

'Is she not by your side?' said Venetia.

'You know not what you ask; you know not what you counsel,' said Lady
Annabel. 'It has been the prayer and effort of my life that you should
never know. There is a bitterness in the reconciliation which follows
long estrangement, that yields a pang more acute even than the first
disunion. Shall I be called upon to mourn over the wasted happiness of
twenty years? Why did he not hate us?'

'The pang is already felt, mother,' said Venetia. 'Reject my father,
but you cannot resume the feelings of a month back. You have seen
him; you have listened to him. He is no longer the character which
justified your conduct, and upheld you under the trial. His image has
entered your soul; your heart is softened. Bid him quit Venice without
seeing you, and you will remain the most miserable of women.'

'On his head, then, be the final desolation,' said Lady Annabel; 'it
is but a part of the lot that he has yielded me.'

'I am silent,' said Venetia, relaxing her grasp. 'I see that your
child is not permitted to enter into your considerations.' She turned
away.

'Venetia!' said her mother.

'Mother!' said Venetia, looking back, but not returning.

'Return one moment to me.'

Venetia slowly rejoined her. Lady Annabel spoke in a kind and gentle,
though serious tone.

'Venetia,' she said, 'what I am about to speak is not the impulse of
the moment, but has been long revolved in my mind; do not, therefore,
misapprehend it. I express without passion what I believe to be truth.
I am persuaded that the presence of your father is necessary to
your happiness; nay, more, to your life. I recognise the mysterious
influence which he has ever exercised over your existence. I feel it
impossible for me any longer to struggle against a power to which I
bow. Be happy, then, my daughter, and live. Fly to your father, and be
to him as matchless a child as you have been to me.' She uttered these
last words in a choking voice.

'Is this, indeed, the dictate of your calm judgment, mother?' said
Venetia.

'I call God to witness, it has of late been more than once on my lips.
The other night, when I spoke of Rovigo, I was about to express this.'

'Then, mother!' said Venetia, 'I find that I have been misunderstood.
At least I thought my feelings towards yourself had been appreciated.
They have not; and I can truly say, my life does not afford a single
circumstance to which I can look back with content. Well will it
indeed be for me to die?'

'The dream of my life,' said Lady Annabel, in a tone of infinite
distress, 'was that she, at least, should never know unhappiness. It
was indeed a dream.'

There was now a silence of several minutes. Lady Annabel remained in
exactly the same position, Venetia standing at a little distance from
her, looking resigned and sorrowful.

'Venetia,' at length said Lady Annabel, 'why are you silent?'

'Mother, I have no more to say. I pretend not to act in this life; it
is my duty to follow you.'

'And your inclination?' inquired Lady Annabel.

'I have ceased to have a wish upon any subject,' said Venetia.

'Venetia,' said Lady Annabel, with a great effort, 'I am miserable.'

This unprecedented confession of suffering from the strong mind of her
mother, melted Venetia to the heart. She advanced, and threw her arms
round her mother's neck, and buried her weeping face in Lady Annabel's
bosom.

'Speak to me, my daughter,' said Lady Annabel; 'counsel me, for my
mind trembles; anxiety has weakened it. Nay, I beseech you, speak.
Speak, speak, Venetia. What shall I do?'

'Mother, I will never say anything again but that I love you!'

'I see the holy father in the distance. Let us walk to him, my child,
and meet him.'

Accordingly Lady Annabel, now leaning on Venetia, approached the monk.
About five minutes elapsed before they reached him, during which not a
word was spoken.

'Holy father,' said Lady Annabel, in a tone of firmness that surprised
her daughter and made her tremble with anticipation, 'you know the
writer of this letter?'

'He is my friend of many years, lady,' replied the Armenian; 'I knew
him in America. I owe to him my life, and more than my life. There
breathes not his equal among men.'

A tear started to the eye of Lady Annabel; she recalled the terms in
which the household at Arquâ had spoken of Herbert. 'He is in Venice?'
she inquired.

'He is within these walls,' the monk replied.

Venetia, scarcely able to stand, felt her mother start. After a
momentary pause, Lady Annabel said, 'Can I speak with him, and alone?'

Nothing but the most nervous apprehension of throwing any obstacle in
the way of the interview could have sustained Venetia. Quite pale,
with her disengaged hand clenched, not a word escaped her lips. She
hung upon the answer of the monk.

'You can see him, and alone,' said the monk. 'He is now in the
sacristy. Follow me.'

'Venetia,' said Lady Annabel, 'remain in this garden. I will accompany
this holy man. Stop! embrace me before I go, and,' she added, in a
whisper, 'pray for me.'

It needed not the admonition of her mother to induce Venetia to seek
refuge in prayer, in this agony of her life. But for its salutary and
stilling influence, it seemed to her that she must have forfeited all
control over her mind. The suspense was too terrible for human aid to
support her. Seated by the sea-side, she covered her face with her
hands, and invoked the Supreme assistance. More than an hour passed
away. Venetia looked up. Two beautiful birds, of strange form and
spotless plumage, that perhaps had wandered from the Aegean, were
hovering over her head, bright and glancing in the sun. She accepted
their appearance as a good omen. At this moment she heard a voice,
and, looking up, observed a monk in the distance, beckoning to her.
She rose, and with a trembling step approached him. He retired, still
motioning to her to follow him. She entered, by a low portal, a dark
cloister; it led to an ante-chapel, through which, as she passed, her
ear caught the solemn chorus of the brethren. Her step faltered; her
sight was clouded; she was as one walking in a dream. The monk opened
a door, and, retiring, waved his hand, as for her to enter. There was
a spacious and lofty chamber, scantily furnished, some huge chests,
and many sacred garments. At the extreme distance her mother was
reclined on a bench, her head supported by a large crimson cushion,
and her father kneeling by her mother's side. With a soundless step,
and not venturing even to breathe, Venetia approached them, and, she
knew not how, found herself embraced by both her parents.



END OF BOOK V.



BOOK VI.



CHAPTER I.


In a green valley of the Apennines, close to the sea-coast between
Genoa and Spezzia, is a marine villa, that once belonged to the
Malaspina family, in olden time the friends and patrons of Dante. It
is rather a fantastic pile, painted in fresco, but spacious, in good
repair, and convenient. Although little more than a mile from Spezzia,
a glimpse of the blue sea can only be caught from one particular spot,
so completely is the land locked with hills, covered with groves of
chestnut and olive orchards. From the heights, however, you enjoy
magnificent prospects of the most picturesque portion of the Italian
coast; a lofty, undulating, and wooded shore, with an infinite variety
of bays and jutting promontories; while the eye, wandering from
Leghorn on one side towards Genoa on the other, traces an almost
uninterrupted line of hamlets and casinos, gardens and orchards,
terraces of vines, and groves of olive. Beyond them, the broad and
blue expanse of the midland ocean, glittering in the meridian blaze,
or about to receive perhaps in its glowing waters the red orb of
sunset.

It was the month of May, in Italy, at least, the merry month of May,
and Marmion Herbert came forth from the villa Malaspina, and throwing
himself on the turf, was soon lost in the volume of Plato which he
bore with him. He did not move until in the course of an hour he was
roused by the arrival of servants, who brought seats and a table,
when, looking up, he observed Lady Annabel and Venetia in the portico
of the villa. He rose to greet them, and gave his arm to his wife.

'Spring in the Apennines, my Annabel,' said Herbert, 'is a happy
combination. I am more in love each day with this residence. The
situation is so sheltered, the air so soft and pure, the spot so
tranquil, and the season so delicious, that it realises all my romance
of retirement. As for you, I never saw you look so well; and as for
Venetia, I can scarcely believe this rosy nymph could have been our
pale-eyed girl, who cost us such anxiety!'

'Our breakfast is not ready. Let us walk to our sea view,' said Lady
Annabel. 'Give me your book to carry, Marmion.'

'There let the philosopher repose,' said Herbert, throwing the volume
on the turf. 'Plato dreamed of what I enjoy.'

'And of what did Plato dream, papa?' said Venetia.

'He dreamed of love, child.'

Venetia took her father's disengaged arm.

They had now arrived at their sea view, a glimpse of the Mediterranean
between two tall crags.

'A sail in the offing,' said Herbert. 'How that solitary sail tells,
Annabel!'

'I feel the sea breeze, mother. Does not it remind you of Weymouth?'
said Venetia.

'Ah! Marmion,' said Lady Annabel, 'I would that you could see Masham
once more. He is the only friend that I regret.'

'He prospers, Annabel; let that be our consolation: I have at least
not injured him.'

They turned their steps; their breakfast was now prepared. The sun had
risen above the hill beneath whose shade they rested, and the opposite
side of the valley sparkled in light. It was a cheerful scene. 'I have
a passion for living in the air,' said Herbert; 'I always envied the
shepherds in Don Quixote. One of my youthful dreams was living among
mountains of rosemary, and drinking only goat's milk. After breakfast
I will read you Don Quixote's description of the golden age. I have
often read it until the tears came into my eyes.'

'We must fancy ourselves in Spain,' said Lady Annabel; 'it is not
difficult in this wild green valley; and if we have not rosemary, we
have scents as sweet. Nature is our garden here, Venetia; and I do not
envy even the statues and cypresses of our villa of the lake.'

'We must make a pilgrimage some day to the Maggiore, Annabel,' said
Herbert. 'It is hallowed ground to me now.'

Their meal was finished, the servants brought their work, and books,
and drawings; and Herbert, resuming his natural couch, re-opened his
Plato, but Venetia ran into the villa, and returned with a volume.
'You must read us the golden age, papa,' she said, as she offered him,
with a smile, his favourite Don Quixote.

'You must fancy the Don looking earnestly upon a handful of acorns,'
said Herbert, opening the book, 'while he exclaims, "O happy age!
which our first parents called the age of gold! not because gold, so
much adored in this iron age, was then easily purchased, but because
those two fatal words, _meum_ and _tuum_, were distinctions unknown to
the people of those fortunate times; for all things were in common in
that holy age: men, for their sustenance, needed only to lift their
hands, and take it from the sturdy oak, whose spreading arms liberally
invited them to gather the wholesome savoury fruit; while the clear
springs, and silver rivulets, with luxuriant plenty, afforded them
their pure refreshing water. In hollow trees, and in the clefts
of rocks, the labouring and industrious bees erected their little
commonwealths, that men might reap with pleasure and with ease the
sweet and fertile harvest of their toils, The tough and strenuous
cork-trees did, of themselves, and without other art than their native
liberality, dismiss and impart their broad light bark, which served to
cover those lowly huts, propped up with rough-hewn stakes, that were
first built as a shelter against the inclemencies of the air. All then
was union, all peace, all love and friendship in the world. As yet no
rude ploughshare presumed with violence to pry into the pious bowels
of our mother earth, for she without compulsion kindly yielded from
every part of her fruitful and spacious bosom, whatever might at once
satisfy, sustain, and indulge her frugal children. Then was the time
when innocent, beautiful young sheperdesses went tripping over the
hills and vales; their lovely hair sometimes plaited, sometimes loose
and flowing, clad in no other vestment but what the modesty of nature
might require. The Tyrian dye, the rich glossy hue of silk, martyred
and dissembled into every colour, which are now esteemed so fine and
magnificent, were unknown to the innocent simplicity of that age; yet,
bedecked with more becoming leaves and flowers, they outshone the
proudest of the vaindressing ladies of our times, arrayed in the most
magnificent garbs and all the most sumptuous adornings which idleness
and luxury have taught succeeding pride. Lovers then expressed the
passion of their souls in the unaffected language of the heart, with
the native plainness and sincerity in which they were conceived, and
divested of all that artificial contexture which enervates what it
labours to enforce. Imposture, deceit, and malice had not yet crept
in, and imposed themselves unbribed upon mankind in the disguise of
truth: justice, unbiassed either by favour or interest, which now so
fatally pervert it, was equally and impartially dispensed; nor was the
judge's fancy law, for then there were neither judges nor causes to be
judged. The modest maid might then walk alone. But, in this degenerate
age, fraud and a legion of ills infecting the world, no virtue can be
safe, no honour be secure; while wanton desires, diffused into the
hearts of men, corrupt the strictest watches and the closest retreats,
which, though as intricate, and unknown as the labyrinth of Crete,
are no security for chastity. Thus, that primitive innocence being
vanished, the oppression daily prevailing, there was a necessity
to oppose the torrent of violence; for which reason the order of
knighthood errant was instituted, to defend the honour of virgins,
protect widows, relieve orphans, and assist all that are distressed.
Now I myself am one of this order, honest friends and though all
people are obliged by the law of nature to be kind to persons of my
character, yet since you, without knowing anything of this obligation,
have so generously entertained me, I ought to pay you my utmost
acknowledgment, and accordingly return you my most hearty thanks."

'There,' said Herbert, as he closed the book. 'In my opinion, Don
Quixote was the best man that ever lived.'

'But he did not ever live,' said Lady Annabel, smiling.

'He lives to us,' said Herbert. 'He is the same to this age as if he
had absolutely wandered over the plains of Castile and watched in the
Sierra Morena. We cannot, indeed, find his tomb; but he has left us
his great example. In his hero, Cervantes has given us the picture
of a great and benevolent philosopher, and in his Sancho, a complete
personification of the world, selfish and cunning, and yet overawed
by the genius that he cannot comprehend: alive to all the material
interests of existence, yet sighing after the ideal; securing his four
young foals of the she-ass, yet indulging in dreams of empire.'

'But what do you think of the assault on the windmills, Marmion?' said
Lady Annabel.

'In the outset of his adventures, as in the outset of our lives, he
was misled by his enthusiasm,' replied Herbert, 'without which, after
all, we can do nothing. But the result is, Don Quixote was a redresser
of wrongs, and therefore the world esteemed him mad.'

In this vein, now conversing, now occupied with their pursuits, and
occasionally listening to some passage which Herbert called to their
attention, and which ever served as the occasion for some critical
remarks, always as striking from their originality as they were happy
in their expression, the freshness of the morning disappeared; the sun
now crowned the valley with his meridian beam, and they re-entered the
villa. The ladies returned to their cool saloon, and Herbert to his
study.

It was there he amused himself by composing the following lines:

  SPRING IN THE APENNINES.

  I.

  Spring in the Apennine now holds her court
  Within an amphitheatre of hills,
  Clothed with the blooming chestnut; musical
  With murmuring pines, waving their light green cones
  Like youthful Bacchants; while the dewy grass,
  The myrtle and the mountain violet,
  Blend their rich odours with the fragrant trees,
  And sweeten the soft air. Above us spreads
  The purple sky, bright with the unseen sun
  The hills yet screen, although the golden beam
  Touches the topmost boughs, and tints with light
  The grey and sparkling crags. The breath of morn
  Still lingers in the valley; but the bee
  With restless passion hovers on the wing,
  Waiting the opening flower, of whose embrace
  The sun shall be the signal. Poised in air,
  The winged minstrel of the liquid dawn,
  The lark, pours forth his lyric, and responds
  To the fresh chorus of the sylvan doves,
  The stir of branches and the fall of streams,
  The harmonies of nature!

  II

    Gentle Spring!
  Once more, oh, yes! once more I feel thy breath,
  And charm of renovation! To the sky
  Thou bringest light, and to the glowing earth
  A garb of grace: but sweeter than the sky
  That hath no cloud, and sweeter than the earth
  With all its pageantry, the peerless boon
  Thou bearest to me, a temper like thine own;
  A springlike spirit, beautiful and glad!
  Long years, long years of suffering, and of thought
  Deeper than woe, had dimmed the eager eye
  Once quick to catch thy brightness, and the ear
  That lingered on thy music, the harsh world
  Had jarred. The freshness of my life was gone,
  And hope no more an omen in thy bloom
  Found of a fertile future! There are minds,
  Like lands, but with one season, and that drear
  Mine was eternal winter!

  III.

    A dark dream
  Of hearts estranged, and of an Eden lost
  Entranced my being; one absorbing thought
  Which, if not torture, was a dull despair
  That agony were light to. But while sad
  Within the desert of my life I roamed,
  And no sweet springs of love gushed for to greet
  My wearied heart, behold two spirits came
  Floating in light, seraphic ministers,
  The semblance of whose splendour on me fell
  As on some dusky stream the matin ray,
  Touching the gloomy waters with its life.
  And both were fond, and one was merciful!
  And to my home long forfeited they bore
  My vagrant spirit, and the gentle hearth.
  I reckless fled, received me with its shade
  And pleasant refuge. And our softened hearts
  Were like the twilight, when our very bliss
  Calls tears to soothe our rapture; as the stars
  Steal forth, then shining smiles their trembling ray
  Mixed with our tenderness; and love was there
  In all his manifold forms; the sweet embrace,
  And thrilling pressure of the gentle hand,
  And silence speaking with the melting eye!

  IV.

  And now again I feel thy breath, O spring!
  And now the seal hath fallen from my gaze,
  And thy wild music in my ready ear
  Finds a quick echo! The discordant world
  Mars not thy melodies; thy blossoms now
  Are emblems of my heart; and through my veins
  The flow of youthful feeling, long pent up,
  Glides like thy sunny streams! In this fair scene,
  On forms still fairer I my blessing pour;
  On her the beautiful, the wise, the good,
  Who learnt the sweetest lesson to forgive;
  And on the bright-eyed daughter of our love,
  Who soothed a mother, and a father saved!



CHAPTER II.


Between the reconciliation of Lady Annabel Herbert with her husband,
at the Armenian convent at Venice, and the spring morning in the
Apennines, which we have just described, half a year had intervened.
The political position of Marmion Herbert rendered it impossible for
him to remain in any city where there was a representative of his
Britannic Majesty. Indeed, it was scarcely safe for him to be known
out of America. He had quitted that country shortly after the struggle
was over, chiefly from considerations for his health. His energies had
been fast failing him; and a retired life and change of climate had
been recommended by his physicians. His own feelings induced him to
visit Italy, where he had once intended to pass his life, and where he
now repaired to await death. Assuming a feigned name, and living in
strict seclusion, it is probable that his presence would never have
been discovered; or, if detected, would not have been noticed. Once
more united with his wife, her personal influence at the court of St.
James', and her powerful connections, might secure him from annoyance;
and Venetia had even indulged in a vague hope of returning to England.
But Herbert could only have found himself again in his native country
as a prisoner on parole. It would have been quite impossible for him
to mix in the civil business of his native land, or enjoy any of the
rights of citizenship. If a mild sovereign in his mercy had indeed
accorded him a pardon, it must have been accompanied with rigorous and
mortifying conditions; and his presence, in all probability, would
have been confined to his country residence and its immediate
neighbourhood. The pride of Lady Annabel herself recoiled from this
sufferance; and although Herbert, keenly conscious of the sacrifice
which a permanent estrangement from England entailed upon his wife and
child, would have submitted to any restrictions, however humiliating,
provided they were not inconsistent with his honour, it must be
confessed that, when he spoke of this painful subject to his wife,
it was with no slight self-congratulation that he had found her
resolution to remain abroad under any circumstances was fixed with her
habitual decision. She communicated both to the Bishop of ---- and to
her brother the unexpected change that had occurred in her condition,
and she had reason to believe that a representation of what had
happened would be made to the Royal family. Perhaps both the head of
her house and her reverend friend anticipated that time might remove
the barrier that presented itself to Herbert's immediate return to
England: they confined their answers, however, to congratulations on
the reconciliation, to their confidence in the satisfaction it would
occasion her, and to the expression of their faithful friendship; and
neither alluded to a result which both, if only for her sake, desired.

The Herberts had quitted Venice a very few days after the meeting on
the island of St. Lazaro; had travelled by slow journeys, crossing the
Apennines, to Genoa; and only remained in that city until they engaged
their present residence. It combined all the advantages which they
desired: seclusion, beauty, comfort, and the mild atmosphere that
Venetia had seemed to require. It was not, however, the genial air
that had recalled the rose to Venetia's cheek and the sunny smile to
her bright eye, or had inspired again that graceful form with all its
pristine elasticity. It was a heart content; a spirit at length at
peace. The contemplation of the happiness of those most dear to her
that she hourly witnessed, and the blissful consciousness that her
exertions had mainly contributed to, if not completely occasioned,
all this felicity, were remedies of far more efficacy than all the
consultations and prescriptions of her physicians. The conduct of her
father repaid her for all her sufferings, and realised all her
dreams of domestic tenderness and delight. Tender, grateful, and
affectionate, Herbert hovered round her mother like a delicate spirit
who had been released by some kind mortal from a tedious and revolting
thraldom, and who believed he could never sufficiently testify his
devotion. There was so much respect blended with his fondness, that
the spirit of her mother was utterly subdued by his irresistible
demeanour. All her sadness and reserve, her distrust and her fear, had
vanished; and rising confidence mingling with the love she had ever
borne to him, she taught herself even to seek his opinion, and be
guided by his advice. She could not refrain, indeed, from occasionally
feeling, in this full enjoyment of his love, that she might have
originally acted with too much precipitation; and that, had she only
bent for a moment to the necessity of conciliation, and condescended
to the excusable artifices of affection, their misery might have been
prevented. Once when they were alone, her softened heart would have
confessed to Herbert this painful conviction, but he was too happy
and too generous to permit her for a moment to indulge in such a
remorseful retrospect. All the error, he insisted, was his own; and he
had been fool enough to have wantonly forfeited a happiness which time
and experience had now taught him to appreciate.

'We married too young, Marmion,' said his wife.

'It shall be that then, love,' replied Herbert; 'but for all that I
have suffered. I would not have avoided my fate on the condition of
losing the exquisite present!'

It is perhaps scarcely necessary to remark, that Herbert avoided with
the most scrupulous vigilance the slightest allusion to any of those
peculiar opinions for which he was, unhappily, too celebrated. Musing
over the singular revolutions which had already occurred in his habits
and his feelings towards herself, Lady Annabel, indeed, did not
despair that his once self-sufficient soul might ultimately bow
to that blessed faith which to herself had ever proved so great a
support, and so exquisite a solace. It was, indeed, the inexpressible
hope that lingered at the bottom of her heart; and sometimes she even
indulged in the delightful fancy that his mild and penitent spirit
had, by the gracious mercy of Providence, been already touched by the
bright sunbeam of conviction. At all events, his subdued and chastened
temperament was no unworthy preparation for still greater blessings.
It was this hallowed anticipation which consoled, and alone consoled,
Lady Annabel for her own estrangement from the communion of her
national church. Of all the sacrifices which her devotion to Herbert
entailed upon her, this was the one which she felt most constantly
and most severely. Not a day elapsed but the chapel at Cherbury rose
before her; and when she remembered that neither herself nor her
daughter might again kneel round the altar of their God, she almost
trembled at the step which she had taken, and almost esteemed it
a sacrifice of heavenly to earthly duty, which no consideration,
perhaps, warranted. This apprehension, indeed, was the cloud in
her life, and one which Venetia, who felt all its validity, found
difficulty in combating.

Otherwise, when Venetia beheld her parents, she felt ethereal,
and seemed to move in air; for her life, in spite of its apparent
tranquillity, was to her all excitement. She never looked upon her
father, or heard his voice, without a thrill. His society was as
delightful as his heart was tender. It seemed to her that she could
listen to him for ever. Every word he spoke was different from
the language of other men; there was not a subject on which his
richly-cultivated mind could not pour forth instantaneously a flood of
fine fancies and deep intelligence. He seemed to have read every book
in every language, and to have mused over every line he had read. She
could not conceive how one, the tone of whose mind was so original
that it suggested on every topic some conclusion that struck instantly
by its racy novelty, could be so saturated with the learning and the
views of other men. Although they lived in unbroken solitude, and were
almost always together, not a day passed that she did not find herself
musing over some thought or expression of her father, and which broke
from his mind without effort, and as if by chance. Literature to
Herbert was now only a source of amusement and engaging occupation.
All thought of fame had long fled his soul. He cared not for being
disturbed; and he would throw down his Plato for Don Quixote, or close
his Aeschylus and take up a volume of Madame de Sévigné without a
murmur, if reminded by anything that occurred of a passage which might
contribute to the amusement and instruction of his wife and daughter.
Indeed, his only study now was to contribute to their happiness. For
him they had given up their country and society, and he sought, by his
vigilant attention and his various accomplishments, to render their
hours as light and pleasant as, under such circumstances, was
possible. His muse, too, was only dedicated to the celebration of any
topic which their life or themselves suggested. He loved to lie under
the trees, and pour forth sonnets to Lady Annabel; and encouraged
Venetia, by the readiness and interest with which he invariably
complied with her intimations, to throw out every fancy which occurred
to her for his verse. A life passed without the intrusion of a single
evil passion, without a single expression that was not soft, and
graceful, and mild, and adorned with all the resources of a most
accomplished and creative spirit, required not the distractions
of society. It would have shrunk from it, from all its artificial
excitement and vapid reaction. The days of the Herberts flowed on in
one bright, continuous stream of love, and literature, and gentle
pleasures. Beneath them was the green earth, above them the blue sky.
Their spirits were as clear, and their hearts as soft as the clime.

The hour of twilight was approaching, and the family were preparing
for their daily walk. Their simple repast was finished, and Venetia
held the verses which her father had written in the morning, and which
he had presented to her.

'Let us descend to Spezzia,' said Herbert to Lady Annabel; 'I love an
ocean sunset.'

Accordingly they proceeded through their valley to the craggy path
which led down to the bay. After passing through a small ravine, the
magnificent prospect opened before them. The sun was yet an hour above
the horizon, and the sea was like a lake of molten gold; the colour
of the sky nearest to the sun, of a pale green, with two or three
burnished streaks of vapour, quite still, and so thin you could almost
catch the sky through them, fixed, as it were, in this gorgeous frame.
It was now a dead calm, but the sail that had been hovering the whole
morning in the offing had made the harbour in time, and had just
cast anchor near some coasting craft and fishing-boats, all that now
remained where Napoleon had projected forming one of the arsenals of
the world.

Tracing their way down a mild declivity, covered with spreading
vineyards, and quite fragrant with the blossom of the vine, the
Herberts proceeded through a wood of olives, and emerged on a terrace
raised directly above the shore, leading to Spezzia, and studded here
and there with rugged groups of aloes.

'I have often observed here,' said Venetia, 'about a mile out at sea;
there, now, where I point; the water rise. It is now a calm, and yet
it is more troubled, I think, than usual. Tell me the cause, dear
father, for I have often wished to know.'

'It passes my experience,' said Herbert; 'but here is an ancient
fisherman; let us inquire of him.'

He was an old man, leaning against a rock, and smoking his pipe in
contemplative silence; his face bronzed with the sun and the roughness
of many seasons, and his grey hairs not hidden by his long blue cap.
Herbert saluted him, and, pointing to the phenomenon, requested an
explanation of it.

''Tis a fountain of fresh water, signor, that rises in our gulf,' said
the old fisherman, 'to the height of twenty feet.'

'And is it constant?' inquired Herbert.

''Tis the same in sunshine and in storm, in summer and in winter, in
calm or in breeze,' said the old fisherman.

'And has it always been so?'

'It came before my time.'

'A philosophic answer,' said Herbert, 'and deserves a paul. Mine was a
crude question. Adio, good friend.'

'I should like to drink of that fountain of fresh water, Annabel,'
said Herbert. 'There seems to me something wondrous fanciful in it.
Some day we will row there. It shall be a calm like this.'

'We want a fountain in our valley,' said Lady Annabel.

'We do,' said Herbert; 'and I think we must make one; we must inquire
at Genoa. I am curious in fountains. Our fountain should, I think, be
classical; simple, compact, with a choice inscription, the altar of a
Naiad.'

'And mamma shall make the design, and you shall write the
inscription,' said Venetia.

'And you shall be the nymph, child,' said Herbert.

They were now within a bowshot of the harbour, and a jutting cliff of
marble, more graceful from a contiguous bed of myrtles, invited them
to rest, and watch the approaching sunset.

'Say what they like,' said Herbert, 'there is a spell in the shores
of the Mediterranean Sea which no others can rival. Never was such a
union of natural loveliness and magical associations! On these shores
have risen all that interests us in the past: Egypt and Palestine,
Greece, Rome, and Carthage, Moorish Spain, and feodal Italy. These
shores have yielded us our religion, our arts, our literature, and our
laws. If all that we have gained from the shores of the Mediterranean
was erased from the memory of man, we should be savages. Will the
Atlantic ever be so memorable? Its civilisation will be more rapid,
but will it be as refined? and, far more important, will it be as
permanent? Will it not lack the racy vigour and the subtle spirit of
aboriginal genius? Will not a colonial character cling to its society,
feeble, inanimate, evanescent? What America is deficient in is
creative intellect. It has no nationality. Its intelligence has been
imported, like its manufactured goods. Its inhabitants are a people,
but are they a nation? I wish that the empire of the Incas and the
kingdom of Montezuma had not been sacrificed. I wish that the republic
of the Puritans had blended with the tribes of the wilderness.'

The red sun was now hovering over the horizon; it quivered for an
instant, and then sank. Immediately the high and undulating coast was
covered with a crimson flush; the cliffs, the groves, the bays and
jutting promontories, each straggling sail and tall white tower,
suffused with a rosy light. Gradually that rosy tint became a bright
violet, and then faded into purple. But the glory of the sunset long
lingered in the glowing west, streaming with every colour of the Iris,
while a solitary star glittered with silver light amid the shifting
splendour.

'Hesperus rises from the sunset like the fountain of fresh water from
the sea,' said Herbert. 'The sky and the ocean have two natures, like
ourselves,'

At this moment the boat of the vessel, which had anchored about an
hour back, put to shore.

'That seems an English brig,' said Herbert. 'I cannot exactly make out
its trim; it scarcely seems a merchant vessel.'

The projection of the shore hid the boat from their sight as it
landed. The Herberts rose, and proceeded towards the harbour. There
were some rude steps cut in the rock which led from the immediate
shore to the terrace. As they approached these, two gentlemen
in sailors' jackets mounted suddenly. Lady Annabel and Venetia
simultaneously started as they recognised Lord Cadurcis and his
cousin. They were so close that neither party had time to prepare
themselves. Venetia found her hand in that of Plantagenet, while Lady
Annabel saluted George. Infinite were their mutual inquiries and
congratulations, but it so happened that, with one exception, no name
was mentioned. It was quite evident, however, to Herbert, that these
were very familiar acquaintances of his family; for, in the surprise
of the moment, Lord Cadurcis had saluted his daughter by her Christian
name. There was no slight emotion, too, displayed on all sides.
Indeed, independently of the agitation which so unexpected a
rencounter was calculated to produce, the presence of Herbert, after
the first moments of recognition, not a little excited the curiosity
of the young men, and in some degree occasioned the embarrassment
of all. Who was this stranger, on whom Venetia and her mother were
leaning with such fondness? He was scarcely too old to be the admirer
of Venetia, and if there were a greater disparity of years between
them than is usual, his distinguished appearance might well reconcile
the lady to her lot, or even justify her choice. Had, then, Cadurcis
again met Venetia only to find her the bride or the betrothed of
another? a mortifying situation, even an intolerable one, if his
feelings remained unchanged; and if the eventful year that had elapsed
since they parted had not replaced her image in his susceptible mind
by another more cherished, and, perhaps, less obdurate. Again, to Lady
Annabel the moment was one of great awkwardness, for the introduction
of her husband to those with whom she was recently so intimate, and
who were then aware that the name of that husband was never even
mentioned in her presence, recalled the painful past with a disturbing
vividness. Venetia, indeed, did not share these feelings fully,
but she thought it ungracious to anticipate her mother in the
announcement.

The Herberts turned with Lord Cadurcis and his cousin; they were about
to retrace their steps on the terrace, when Lady Annabel, taking
advantage of the momentary silence, and summoning all her energy, with
a pale cheek and a voice that slightly faltered, said, 'Lord Cadurcis,
allow me to present you to Mr. Herbert, my husband,' she added with
emphasis.

'Good God!' exclaimed Cadurcis, starting; and then, outstretching his
hand, he contrived to add, 'have I, indeed, the pleasure of seeing one
I have so long admired?'

'Lord Cadurcis!' exclaimed Herbert, scarcely less surprised. 'Is it
Lord Cadurcis? This is a welcome meeting.'

Everyone present felt overwhelmed with confusion or astonishment; Lady
Annabel sought refuge in presenting Captain Cadurcis to her husband.
This ceremony, though little noticed even by those more immediately
interested in it, nevertheless served, in some degree, as a diversion.
Herbert, who was only astonished, was the first who rallied. Perhaps
Lord Cadurcis was the only man in existence whom Herbert wished to
know. He had read his works with deep interest; at least, those
portions which foreign journals had afforded him. He was deeply
impressed with his fame and genius; but what perplexed him at this
moment, even more than his unexpected introduction to him, was the
singular, the very extraordinary circumstance, that the name of their
most celebrated countryman should never have escaped the lips either
of his wife or his daughter, although they appeared, and Venetia
especially, to be on terms with him of even domestic intimacy.

'You arrived here to day, Lord Cadurcis?' said Herbert. 'From whence?'

'Immediately from Naples, where we last touched,' replied his
lordship; 'but I have been residing at Athens.'

'I envy you,' said Herbert.

'It would be a fit residence for you,' said Lord Cadurcis. 'You were,
however, in some degree, my companion, for a volume of your poems was
one of the few books I had with me. I parted with all the rest, but I
retained that. It is in my cabin, and full of my scribblement. If you
would condescend to accept it, I would offer it to you.'

Mr. Herbert and Lord Cadurcis maintained the conversation along the
terrace. Venetia, by whose side her old companion walked, was quite
silent. Once her eyes met those of Cadurcis; his expression of mingled
archness and astonishment was irresistible. His cousin and Lady
Annabel carried on a more suppressed conversation, but on ordinary
topics. When they had reached the olive-grove Herbert said, 'Here lies
our way homeward, my lord. If you and your cousin will accompany us,
it will delight Lady Annabel and myself.'

'Nothing, I am sure, will give George and myself greater pleasure,' he
replied. 'We had, indeed, no purpose when you met us but to enjoy our
escape from imprisonment, little dreaming we should meet our kindest
and oldest friends,' he added.

'Kindest and oldest friends!' thought Herbert to himself. 'Well, this
is strange indeed.'

'It is but a slight distance,' said Lady Annabel, who thought it
necessary to enforce the invitation. 'We live in the valley, of which
yonder hill forms a part.'

'And there we have passed our winter and our spring,' added Venetia,
'almost as delightfully as you could have done at Athens.'

'Well,' thought Cadurcis to himself, 'I have seen many of the world's
marvels, but this day is a miracle.'

When they had proceeded through the olive-wood, and mounted the
acclivity, they arrived at a path which permitted the ascent of only
one person at a time. Cadurcis was last, and followed Venetia. Unable
any longer to endure the suspense, he was rather irritated that she
kept so close to her father; he himself loitered a few paces behind,
and, breaking off a branch of laurel, he tossed it at her. She looked
round and smiled; he beckoned to her to fall back. 'Tell me, Venetia,'
he said, 'what does all this mean?'

'It means that we are at last all very happy,' she replied. 'Do you
not see my father?'

'Yes; and I am very glad to see him; but this company is the very last
in which I expected to have that pleasure.'

'It is too long a story to tell now; you must imagine it.'

'But are you glad to see me?'

'Very.'

'I don't think you care for me the least.'

'Silly Lord Cadurcis!' she said, smiling.

'If you call me Lord Cadurcis, I shall immediately go back to the
brig, and set sail this night for Athens.'

'Well then, silly Plantagenet!'

He laughed, and they ran on.



CHAPTER III.


'Well, I am not surprised that you should have passed your time
delightfully here,' said Lord Cadurcis to Lady Annabel, when they had
entered the villa; 'for I never beheld so delightful a retreat. It is
even more exquisite than your villa on the lake, of which George gave
me so glowing a description. I was almost tempted to hasten to you.
Would you have smiled on me!' he added, rather archly, and in a
coaxing tone.

'I am more gratified that we have met here,' said Lady Annabel.

'And thus,' added Cadurcis.

'You have been a great traveller since we last met?' said Lady
Annabel, a little embarrassed.

'My days of restlessness are over,' said Cadurcis. 'I desire nothing
more dearly than to settle down in the bosom of these green hills as
you have done.'

'This life suits Mr. Herbert,' said Lady Annabel. 'He is fond of
seclusion, and you know I am accustomed to it.'

'Ah! yes,' said Cadurcis, mournfully. 'When I was in Greece, I used
often to wish that none of us had ever left dear Cherbury; but I do
not now.'

'We must forget Cherbury,' said Lady Annabel.

'I cannot: I cannot forget her who cherished my melancholy childhood.
Dear Lady Annabel,' he added in a voice of emotion, and offering her
his hand, 'forget all my follies, and remember that I was your child,
once as dutiful as you were affectionate.'

Who could resist this appeal? Lady Annabel, not without agitation,
yielded him her hand, which he pressed to his lips. 'Now I am again
happy,' said Cadurcis; 'now we are all happy. Sweetest of friends, you
have removed in a moment the bitterness of years.'

Although lights were in the saloon, the windows opening on the portico
were not closed. The evening air was soft and balmy, and though the
moon had not risen, the distant hills were clear in the starlight.
Venetia was standing in the portico conversing with George Cadurcis.

'I suppose you are too much of a Turk to drink our coffee, Lord
Cadurcis,' said Herbert. Cadurcis turned and joined him, together with
Lady Annabel.

'Nay,' said Lord Cadurcis, in a joyous tone, 'Lady Annabel will answer
for me that I always find everything perfect under her roof.'

Captain Cadurcis and Venetia now re-entered the villa; they clustered
round the table, and seated themselves.

'Why, Venetia,' said Cadurcis, 'George met me in Sicily and quite
frightened me about you. Is it the air of the Apennines that has
worked these marvels? for, really, you appear to me exactly the same
as when we learnt the French vocabulary together ten years ago.'

'"The French vocabulary together, ten years ago!"' thought Herbert;
'not a mere London acquaintance, then. This is very strange.'

'Why, indeed, Plantagenet,' replied Venetia, 'I was very unwell when
George visited us; but I really have quite forgotten that I ever was
an invalid, and I never mean to be again.'

'"Plantagenet!"' soliloquised Herbert. 'And this is the great poet
of whom I have heard so much! My daughter is tolerably familiar with
him.'

'I have brought you all sorts of buffooneries from Stamboul,'
continued Cadurcis; 'sweetmeats, and slippers, and shawls, and daggers
worn only by sultanas, and with which, if necessary, they can keep
"the harem's lord" in order. I meant to have sent them with George to
England, for really I did not anticipate our meeting here.'

'"Sweetmeats and slippers,"' said Herbert to himself, '"shawls and
daggers!" What next?'

'And has George been with you all the time?' inquired Venetia.

'Oh! we quarrelled now and then, of course. He found Athens dull, and
would stay at Constantinople, chained by the charms of a fair Perote,
to whom he wanted me to write sonnets in his name. I would not,
because I thought it immoral. But, on the whole, we got on very well;
a sort of Pylades and Orestes, I assure you; we never absolutely
fought.'

'Come, come,' said George, 'Cadurcis is always ashamed of being
amiable. We were together much more than I ever intended or
anticipated. You know mine was a sporting tour; and therefore, of
course, we were sometimes separated. But he was exceedingly popular
with all parties, especially the Turks, whom he rewarded for their
courtesy by writing odes to the Greeks to stir them up to revolt.'

'Well, they never read them,' said Cadurcis. 'All we, poor fellows,
can do,' he added, turning to Herbert, 'is to wake the Hellenistic
raptures of May Fair; and that they call fame; as much like fame as a
toadstool is like a truffle.'

'Nevertheless, I hope the muse has not slumbered,' said Herbert; 'for
you have had the happiest inspiration in the climes in which you have
resided; not only are they essentially poetic, but they offer a virgin
vein.'

'I have written a little,' replied Cadurcis; 'I will give it you, if
you like, some day to turn over. Yours is the only opinion that I
really care for. I have no great idea of the poetry; but I am very
strong in my costume. I feel very confident about that. I fancy I know
how to hit off a pasha, or touch in a Greek pirate now. As for all the
things I wrote in England, I really am ashamed of them. I got up my
orientalism from books, and sultans and sultanas at masquerades,' he
added, archly. 'I remember I made my heroines always wear turbans;
only conceive my horror when I found that a Turkish woman would as
soon think of putting my hat on as a turban, and that it was an
article of dress entirely confined to a Bond Street milliner.'

The evening passed in interesting and diverting conversation; of
course, principally contributed by the two travellers, who had seen so
much. Inspirited by his interview with Lady Annabel, and her gracious
reception of his overtures, Lord Cadurcis was in one of those frolic
humours, which we have before noticed was not unnatural to him. He had
considerable powers of mimicry, and the talent that had pictured to
Venetia in old days, with such liveliness, the habits of the old maids
of Morpeth, was now engaged on more considerable topics; an interview
with a pasha, a peep into a harem, a visit to a pirate's isle, the
slave-market, the bazaar, the barracks of the janissaries, all touched
with irresistible vitality, and coloured with the rich phrases of
unrivalled force of expression. The laughter was loud and continual;
even Lady Annabel joined zealously in the glee. As for Herbert, he
thought Cadurcis by far the most hearty and amusing person he had ever
known, and could not refrain from contrasting him with the picture
which his works and the report of the world had occasionally enabled
him to sketch to his mind's eye; the noble, young, and impassioned
bard, pouring forth the eloquent tide of his morbid feelings to an
idolising world, from whose applause he nevertheless turned with an
almost misanthropic melancholy.

It was now much past the noon of night, and the hour of separation,
long postponed, was inevitable. Often had Cadurcis risen to depart,
and often, without regaining his seat, had he been tempted by his
friends, and especially Venetia, into fresh narratives. At last he
said, 'Now we must go. Lady Annabel looks good night. I remember the
look,' he said, laughing, 'when we used to beg for a quarter of an
hour more. O Venetia! do not you remember that Christmas when dear
old Masham read Julius Caesar, and we were to sit up until it was
finished. When he got to the last act I hid his spectacles. I never
confessed it until this moment. Will you pardon me, Lady Annabel?' and
he pressed his hands together in a mockery of supplication.

'Will you come and breakfast with us to-morrow?' said Lady Annabel.

'With delight,' he answered. 'I am used, you know, to walks before
breakfast. George, I do not think George can do it, though. George
likes his comforts; he is a regular John Bull. He was always calling
for tea when we were in Turkey!'

At this moment Mistress Pauncefort entered the room, ostensibly on
some little affair of her mistress, but really to reconnoitre.

'Ah! Mistress Pauncefort; my old friend, Mistress Pauncefort, how do
you do?' exclaimed his lordship.

'Quite well, my lord, please your lordship; and very glad to see your
lordship again, and looking so well too.'

'Ah! Mistress Pauncefort, you always flattered me!'

'Oh! dear, my lord, your lordship, no,' said Mistress Pauncefort, with
a simper.

'But you, Pauncefort,' said Cadurcis, 'why there must be some magic in
the air here. I have been complimenting your lady and Miss Venetia;
but really, you, I should almost have thought it was some younger
sister.'

'Oh! my lord, you have such a way,' said Mistress Pauncefort,
retreating with a slow step that still lingered for a remark.

'Pauncefort, is that an Italian cap?' said Lord Cadurcis; 'you know,
Pauncefort, you were always famous for your caps.'

Mistress Pauncefort disappeared in a fluster of delight.

And now they had indeed departed. There was a pause of complete
silence after they had disappeared, the slight and not painful
reaction after the mirthful excitement of the last few hours. At
length Herbert, dropping, as was his evening custom, a few drops of
orange-flower into a tumbler of water, said, 'Annabel, my love, I am
rather surprised that neither you nor Venetia should have mentioned to
me that you knew, and knew so intimately, a man like Lord Cadurcis.'

Lady Annabel appeared a little confused; she looked even at Venetia,
but Venetia's eyes were on the ground. At length she said, 'In truth,
Marmion, since we met we have thought only of you.'

'Cadurcis Abbey, papa, is close to Cherbury,' said Venetia.

'Cherbury!' said Herbert, with a faint blush. 'I have never seen it,
and now I shall never see it. No matter, my country is your mother and
yourself. Some find a home in their country, I find a country in my
home. Well,' he added, in a gayer tone, 'it has gratified me much to
meet Lord Cadurcis. We were happy before, but now we are even gay.
I like to see you smile, Annabel, and hear Venetia laugh. I feel,
myself, quite an unusual hilarity. Cadurcis! It is very strange how
often I have mused over that name. A year ago it was one of my few
wishes to know him; my wishes, then, dear Annabel, were not very
ambitious. They did not mount so high as you have since permitted
them. And now I do know him, and under what circumstances! Is not life
strange? But is it not happy? I feel it so. Good night, sweet wife;
my darling daughter, a happy, happy night!' He embraced them ere
they retired; and opening a volume composed his mind after the novel
excitement of the evening.



CHAPTER IV.


Cadurcis left the brig early in the morning alone, and strolled
towards the villa. He met Herbert half-way to Spezzia, who turned back
with him towards home. They sat down on a crag opposite the sea; there
was a light breeze, the fishing boats wore out, and the view was as
animated as the fresh air was cheering.

'There they go,' said Cadurcis, smiling, 'catching John Dory, as you
and I try to catch John Bull. Now if these people could understand
what two great men were watching them, how they would stare! But they
don't care a sprat for us, not they! They are not part of the world
the three or four thousand civilised savages for whom we sweat our
brains, and whose fetid breath perfumed with musk is fame. Pah!'

Herbert smiled. 'I have not cared much myself for this same world.'

'Why, no; you have done something, and shown your contempt for them.
No one can deny that. I will some day, if I have an opportunity. I owe
it them; I think I can show them a trick or two still.[A] I have got a
Damascus blade in store for their thick hides. I will turn their flank
yet.'

[Footnote A: I think I know a trick or two would turn Your flanks.
_Don Juan_.]

'And gain a victory where conquest brings no glory. You are worth
brighter laurels, Lord Cadurcis.'

'Now is not it the most wonderful thing in the world that you and I
have met?' said Cadurcis. 'Now I look upon ourselves as something
like, eh! Fellows with some pith in them. By Jove, if we only joined
together, how we could lay it on! Crack, crack, crack; I think I see
them wincing under the thong, the pompous poltroons! If you only knew
how they behaved to me! By Jove, sir, they hooted me going to the
House of Lords, and nearly pulled me off my horse. The ruffians would
have massacred me if they could; and then they all ran away from a
drummer-boy and a couple of grenadiers, who were going the rounds to
change guard. Was not that good? Fine, eh? A brutish mob in a fit of
morality about to immolate a gentleman, and then scampering off from a
sentry. I call that human nature!'

'As long as they leave us alone, and do not burn us alive, I am
content,' said Herbert. 'I am callous to what they say.'

'So am I,' said Cadurcis. 'I made out a list the other day of all
the persons and things I have been compared to. It begins well, with
Alcibiades, but it ends with the Swiss giantess or the Polish dwarf, I
forget which. Here is your book. You see it has been well thumbed. In
fact, to tell the truth, it was my cribbing book, and I always kept
it by me when I was writing at Athens, like a gradus, a _gradus ad
Parnassum_, you know. But although I crib, I am candid, and you see I
fairly own it to you.'

'You are welcome to all I have ever written,' said Herbert. 'Mine were
but crude dreams. I wished to see man noble and happy; but if he will
persist in being vile and miserable, I must even be content. I can
struggle for him no more.'

'Well, you opened my mind,' said Cadurcis. 'I owe you everything;
but I quite agree with you that nothing is worth an effort. As for
philosophy and freedom, and all that, they tell devilish well in a
stanza; but men have always been fools and slaves, and fools and
slaves they always will be.'

'Nay,' said Herbert, 'I will not believe that. I will not give up
a jot of my conviction of a great and glorious future for human
destinies; but its consummation will not be so rapid as I once
thought, and in the meantime I die.'

'Ah, death!' said Lord Cadurcis, 'that is a botherer. What can you
make of death? There are those poor fishermen now; there will be a
white squall some day, and they will go down with those lateen sails
of theirs, and be food for the very prey they were going to catch; and
if you continue living here, you may eat one of your neighbours in
the shape of a shoal of red mullets, when it is the season. The great
secret, we cannot penetrate that with all our philosophy, my dear
Herbert. "All that we know is, nothing can be known." Barren, barren,
barren! And yet what a grand world it is! Look at this bay, these blue
waters, the mountains, and these chestnuts, devilish fine! The fact
is, truth is veiled, but, like the Shekinah over the tabernacle, the
veil is of dazzling light!'

'Life is the great wonder,' said Herbert, 'into which all that is
strange and startling resolves itself. The mist of familiarity
obscures from us the miracle of our being. Mankind are constantly
starting at events which they consider extraordinary. But a
philosopher acknowledges only one miracle, and that is life. Political
revolutions, changes of empire, wrecks of dynasties and the opinions
that support them, these are the marvels of the vulgar, but these are
only transient modifications of life. The origin of existence is,
therefore, the first object which a true philosopher proposes to
himself. Unable to discover it, he accepts certain results from
his unbiassed observation of its obvious nature, and on them he
establishes certain principles to be our guides in all social
relations, whether they take the shape of laws or customs.
Nevertheless, until the principle of life be discovered, all theories
and all systems of conduct founded on theory must be considered
provisional.'

'And do you believe that there is a chance of its being discovered?'
inquired Cadurcis.

'I cannot, from any reason in my own intelligence, find why it should
not,' said Herbert.

'You conceive it possible that a man may attain earthly immortality?'
inquired Cadurcis.

'Undoubtedly.'

'By Jove,' said Cadurcis, 'if I only knew how, I would purchase an
immense annuity directly.'

'When I said undoubtedly,' said Herbert, smiling, 'I meant only to
express that I know no invincible reason to the contrary. I see
nothing inconsistent with the existence of a Supreme Creator in the
annihilation of death. It appears to me an achievement worthy of his
omnipotence. I believe in the possibility, but I believe in nothing
more. I anticipate the final result, but not by individual means. It
will, of course, be produced by some vast and silent and continuous
operation of nature, gradually effecting some profound and
comprehensive alteration in her order, a change of climate, for
instance, the great enemy of life, so that the inhabitants of the
earth may attain a patriarchal age. This renovated breed may in turn
produce a still more vigorous offspring, and so we may ascend the
scale, from the threescore and ten of the Psalmist to the immortality
of which we speak. Indeed I, for my own part, believe the operation
has already commenced, although thousands of centuries may elapse
before it is consummated; the threescore and ten of the Psalmist is
already obsolete; the whole world is talking of the general change of
its seasons and its atmosphere. If the origin of America were such as
many profound philosophers suppose, viz., a sudden emersion of a new
continent from the waves, it is impossible to doubt that such an event
must have had a very great influence on the climate of the world.
Besides, why should we be surprised that the nature of man should
change? Does not everything change? Is not change the law of nature?
My skin changes every year, my hair never belongs to me a month, the
nail on my hand is only a passing possession. I doubt whether a man at
fifty is the same material being that he is at five-and-twenty.'

'I wonder,' said Lord Cadurcis, 'if a creditor brought an action
against you at fifty for goods delivered at five-and-twenty, one
could set up the want of identity as a plea in bar. It would be a
consolation to an elderly gentleman.'

'I am afraid mankind are too hostile to philosophy,' said Herbert,
smiling, 'to permit so desirable a consummation.'

'Should you consider a long life a blessing?' said Cadurcis. 'Would
you like, for instance, to live to the age of Methusalem?'

'Those whom the gods love die young,' said Herbert. 'For the last
twenty years I have wished to die, and I have sought death. But my
feelings, I confess, on that head are at present very much modified.'

'Youth, glittering youth!' said Cadurcis in a musing tone; 'I remember
when the prospect of losing my youth frightened me out of my wits;
I dreamt of nothing but grey hairs, a paunch, and the gout or the
gravel. But I fancy every period of life has its pleasures, and as we
advance in life the exercise of power and the possession of wealth
must be great consolations to the majority; we bully our children and
hoard our cash.'

'Two most noble occupations!' said Herbert; 'but I think in this world
there is just as good a chance of being bullied by our children first,
and paying their debts afterwards.'

'Faith! you are right,' said Cadurcis, laughing, 'and lucky is he who
has neither creditors nor offspring, and who owes neither money nor
affection, after all the most difficult to pay of the two.'

'It cannot be commanded, certainly,' said Herbert 'There is no usury
for love.'

'And yet it is very expensive, too, sometimes, said Cadurcis,
laughing. 'For my part, sympathy is a puzzler.'

'You should read Cabanis,' said Herbert, 'if indeed, you have not.
I think I may find it here; I will lend it you. It has, from its
subject, many errors, but it is very suggestive.'

'Now, that is kind, for I have not a book here, and, after all, there
is nothing like reading. I wish I had read more, but it is not too
late. I envy you your learning, besides so many other things. However,
I hope we shall not part in a hurry; we have met at last,' he said,
extending his hand, 'and we were always friends.'

Herbert shook his hand very warmly. 'I can assure you, Lord Cadurcis,
you have not a more sincere admirer of your genius. I am happy in your
society. For myself, I now aspire to be nothing better than an idler
in life, turning over a page, and sometimes noting down a fancy. You
have, it appears, known my family long and intimately, and you were,
doubtless, surprised at finding me with them. I have returned to
my hearth, and I am content. Once I sacrificed my happiness to my
philosophy, and now I have sacrificed my philosophy to my happiness.'

'Dear friend!' said Cadurcis, putting his arm affectionately in
Herbert's as they walked along, 'for, indeed, you must allow me to
style you so; all the happiness and all the sorrow of my life alike
flow from your roof!'

In the meantime Lady Annabel and Venetia came forth from the villa to
their morning meal in their amphitheatre of hills. Marmion was not
there to greet them as usual.

'Was not Plantagenet amusing last night?' said Venetia; 'and are not
you happy, dear mother, to see him once more?'

'Indeed I am now always happy,' said Lady Annabel.

'And George was telling me last night, in this portico, of all their
life. He is more attached to Plantagenet than ever. He says it is
impossible for any one to have behaved with greater kindness, or to
have led, in every sense, a more calm and rational life. When he was
alone at Athens, he did nothing but write. George says that all his
former works are nothing to what he has written now.'

'He is very engaging,' said Lady Annabel.

'I think he will be such a delightful companion for papa. I am sure
papa must like him. I hope he will stay some time; for, after all,
poor dear papa, he must require a little amusement besides our
society. Instead of being with his books, he might be walking and
talking with Plantagenet. I think, dearest mother, we shall be happier
than ever!'

At this moment Herbert, with Cadurcis leaning on his arm, and
apparently speaking with great earnestness, appeared in the distance.
'There they are,' said Venetia; 'I knew they would be friends. Come,
dearest mother, let us meet them.'

'You see, Lady Annabel,' said Lord Cadurcis, 'it is just as I said:
Mr. George is not here; he is having tea and toast on board the brig.'

'I do not believe it,' said Venetia, smiling.

They seated themselves at the breakfast-table.

'You should have seen our Apennine breakfasts in the autumn, Lord
Cadurcis,' said Herbert. 'Every fruit of nature seemed crowded before
us. It was indeed a meal for a poet or a painter like Paul Veronese;
our grapes, our figs, our peaches, our mountain strawberries, they
made a glowing picture. For my part, I have an original prejudice
against animal food which I have never quite overcome, and I believe
it is only to please Lady Annabel that I have relapsed into the heresy
of cutlets.'

'Do you think I have grown fatter, Lady Annabel?' said Lord Cadurcis,
starting up; 'I brought myself down at Athens to bread and olives, but
I have been committing terrible excesses lately, but only fish.'

'Ah! here is George!' said Lady Annabel.

And Captain Cadurcis appeared, followed by a couple of sailors,
bearing a huge case.

'George,' said Venetia, 'I have been defending you against
Plantagenet; he said you would not come.'

'Never mind, George, it was only behind your back,' said Lord
Cadurcis; 'and, under those legitimate circumstances, why even our
best friends cannot expect us to spare them.'

'I have brought Venetia her toys,' said Captain Cadurcis, 'and she was
right to defend me, as I have been working for her.'

The top of the case was knocked off, and all the Turkish buffooneries,
as Cadurcis called them, made their appearance: slippers, and shawls,
and bottles of perfumes, and little hand mirrors, beautifully
embroidered; and fanciful daggers, and rosaries, and a thousand other
articles, of which they had plundered the bazaars of Constantinople.

'And here is a Turkish volume of poetry, beautifully illuminated; and
that is for you,' said Cadurcis giving it to Herbert. 'Perhaps it is a
translation of one of our works. Who knows? We can always say it is.'

'This is the second present you have made me this morning. Here is a
volume of my works,' said Herbert, producing the book that Cadurcis
had before given him. 'I never expected that anything I wrote would be
so honoured. This, too, is the work of which I am the least ashamed
for my wife admired it. There, Annabel, even though Lord Cadurcis is
here, I will present it to you; 'tis an old friend.'

Lady Annabel accepted the book very graciously, and, in spite of all
the temptations of her toys, Venetia could not refrain from peeping
over her mother's shoulder at its contents. 'Mother,' she whispered,
in a voice inaudible save to Lady Annabel, 'I may read this!'

Lady Annabel gave it her.

'And now we must send for Pauncefort, I think,' said Lady Annabel, 'to
collect and take care of our treasures.'

'Pauncefort,' said Lord Cadurcis, when that gentlewoman appeared, 'I
have brought you a shawl, but I could not bring you a turban, because
the Turkish ladies do not wear turbans; but if I had thought we should
have met so soon, I would have had one made on purpose for you.'

'La! my lord, you always are so polite!'



CHAPTER V.


When the breakfast was over, they wandered about the valley, which
Cadurcis could not sufficiently admire. Insensibly he drew Venetia
from the rest of the party, on the pretence of showing her a view at
some little distance. They walked along by the side of a rivulet,
which glided through the hills, until they were nearly a mile from the
villa, though still in sight.

'Venetia,' he at length said, turning the conversation to a more
interesting topic, 'your father and myself have disburthened our minds
to each, other this morning; I think we know each other now as well as
if we were as old acquaintances as myself and his daughter.'

'Ah! I knew that you and papa must agree,' said Venetia; 'I was saying
so this morning to my mother.'

'Venetia,' said Cadurcis, with a laughing eye, 'all this is very
strange, is it not?'

'Very strange, indeed, Plantagenet; I should not be surprised if it
appeared to you as yet even incredible.'

'It is miraculous,' said Cadurcis, 'but not incredible; an angel
interfered, and worked the miracle. I know all.'

Venetia looked at him with a faint flush upon her cheek; she gathered
a flower and plucked it to pieces.

'What a singular destiny ours has been, Venetia! 'said Cadurcis. 'Do
you know, I can sit for an hour together and muse over it.'

'Can you, Plantagenet?'

'I have such an extraordinary memory; I do not think I ever forgot
anything. We have had some remarkable conversations in our time,
eh, Venetia? Do you remember my visit to Cherbury before I went to
Cambridge, and the last time I saw you before I left England? And now
it all ends in this! What do you think of it, Venetia?'

'Think of what, Plantagenet?'

'Why, of this reconciliation?'

'Dear Plantagenet, what can I think of it but what I have expressed,
that it is a wonderful event, but the happiest in my life.'

'You are quite happy now?'

'Quite.'

'I see you do not care for me the least.'

'Plantagenet, you are perverse. Are you not here?'

'Did you ever think of me when I was away?'

'You know very well, Plantagenet, that it is impossible for me to
cease to be interested in you. Could I refrain from thinking of such a
friend?'

'Friend! poh! I am not your friend; and, as for that, you never once
mentioned my name to your father, Miss Venetia.'

'You might easily conceive that there were reasons for such silence,'
said Venetia. 'It could not arise on my part from forgetfulness or
indifference; for, even if my feelings were changed towards you, you
are not a person that one would, or even could, avoid speaking of,
especially to papa, who must have felt such interest in you! I am
sure, even if I had not known you, there were a thousand occasions
which would have called your name to my lips, had they been
uncontrolled by other considerations.'

'Come, Venetia, I am not going to submit to compliments from you,'
said Lord Cadurcis; 'no blarney. I wish you only to think of me as
you did ten years ago. I will not have our hearts polluted by the
vulgarity of fame. I want you to feel for me as you did when we were
children. I will not be an object of interest, and admiration, and
fiddlestick to you; I will not submit to it.'

'Well, you shall not,' said Venetia, laughing. 'I will not admire you
the least; I will only think of you as a good little boy.'

'You do not love me any longer, I see that,' said Cadurcis.

'Yes I do, Plantagenet.'

'You do not love me so much as you did the night before I went to
Eton, and we sat over the fire? Ah! how often I have thought of that
night when I was at Athens!' he added in a tone of emotion.

'Dear Plantagenet,' said Venetia, 'do not be silly. I am in the
highest spirits in the world; I am quite gay with happiness, and all
because you have returned. Do not spoil my pleasure.'

'Ah, Venetia! I see how it is; you have forgotten me, or worse than
forgotten me.'

'Well, I am sure I do not know what to say to satisfy you,' said
Venetia. 'I think you very unreasonable, and very ungrateful too, for
I have always been your friend, Plantagenet, and I am sure you know
it. You sent me a message before you went abroad.'

'Darling!' said Lord Cadurcis, seizing her hand, 'I am not ungrateful,
I am not unreasonable. I adore you. You were very kind then, when all
the world was against me. You shall see how I will pay them off, the
dogs! and worse than dogs, their betters far; dogs are faithful. Do
you remember poor old Marmion? How we were mystified, Venetia! Little
did we think then who was Marmion's godfather.'

Venetia smiled; but she said, 'I do not like this bitterness of yours,
Plantagenet. You have no cause to complain of the world, and you
magnify a petty squabble with a contemptible coterie into a quarrel
with a nation. It is not a wise humour, and, if you indulge it, it
will not be a happy one.'

'I will do exactly what you wish on every subject, said Cadurcis, 'if
you will do exactly what I wish on one.'

'Well!' said Venetia.

'Once you told me,' said Cadurcis, 'that you would not marry me
without the consent of your father; then, most unfairly, you added to
your conditions the consent of your mother. Now both your parents are
very opportunely at hand; let us fall down upon our knees, and beg
their blessing.'

'O! my dear Plantagenet, I think it will be much better for me never
to marry. We are both happy now; let us remain so. You can live here,
and I can be your sister. Will not that do?'

'No, Venetia, it will not.'

'Dear Plantagenet!' said Venetia with a faltering voice, 'if you knew
how much I had suffered, dear Plantagenet!'

'I know it; I know all,' said Cadurcis, taking her arm and placing it
tenderly in his. 'Now listen to me, sweet girl; I loved you when a
child, when I was unknown to the world, and unknown to myself; I loved
you as a youth not utterly inexperienced in the world, and when my
rising passions had taught me to speculate on the character of women;
I loved you as a man, Venetia, with that world at my feet, that
world which I scorn, but which I will command; I have been constant,
Venetia; your heart assures you, of that. You are the only being in
existence who exercises over me any influence; and the influence you
possess is irresistible and eternal. It springs from some deep and
mysterious sympathy of blood which I cannot penetrate. It can neither
be increased nor diminished by time. It is entirely independent of
its action. I pretend not to love you more at this moment than when
I first saw you, when you entered the terrace-room at Cherbury and
touched my cheek. From that moment I was yours. I declare to you, most
solemnly I declare to you, that I know not what love is except to you.
The world has called me a libertine; the truth is, no other woman can
command my spirit for an hour. I see through them at a glance. I read
all their weakness, frivolity, vanity, affectation, as if they were
touched by the revealing rod of Asmodeus. You were born to be my
bride. Unite yourself with me, control my destiny, and my course shall
be like the sun of yesterday; but reject me, reject me, and I devote
all my energies to the infernal gods; I will pour my lava over the
earth until all that remains of my fatal and exhausted nature is a
black and barren cone surrounded by bitter desolation.'

'Plantagenet; be calm!'

'I am perfectly calm, Venetia. You talk to me of your sufferings.
What has occasioned them? A struggle against nature. Nature has now
triumphed, and you are happy. What necessity was there for all this
misery that has fallen on your house? Why is your father an exile? Do
not you think that if your mother had chosen to exert her influence
she might have prevented the most fatal part of his career?
Undoubtedly despair impelled his actions as much as philosophy, though
I give him credit for a pure and lofty spirit, to no man more. But not
a murmur against your mother from me. She received my overtures of
reconciliation last night with more than cordiality. She is your
mother, Venetia, and she once was mine. Indeed, I love her; indeed,
you would find that I would study her happiness. For after all, sweet,
is there another woman in existence better qualified to fill the
position of my mother-in-law? I could not behave unkindly to her; I
could not treat her with neglect or harshness; not merely for the
sake of her many admirable qualities, but from other considerations,
Venetia, considerations we never can forget. By heavens! I love your
mother; I do, indeed, Venetia! I remember so many things; her last
words to me when I went to Eton. If she would only behave kindly
to me, you would see what a son-in-law I should make. You would be
jealous, that you should, Venetia. I can bear anything from you,
Venetia, but, with others, I cannot forget who I am. It makes me
bitter to be treated as Lady Annabel treated me last year in London:
but a smile and a kind word and I recall all her maternal love; I do
indeed, Venetia; last night when she was kind I could have kissed
her!'

Poor Venetia could not answer, her tears were flowing so plenteously.
'I have told your father all, sweetest,' said Cadurcis; 'I concealed
nothing.'

'And what said he?' murmured Venetia.

'It rests with your mother. After all that has passed, he will
not attempt to control your fate. And he is right. Perhaps his
interference in my favour might even injure me. But there is no cause
for despair; all I wanted was to come to an understanding with you; to
be sure you loved me as you always have done. I will not be impatient.
I will do everything to soothe and conciliate and gratify Lady
Annabel; you will see how I will behave! As you say, too, we are happy
because we are together; and, therefore, it would be unreasonable not
to be patient. I never can be sufficiently grateful for this meeting.
I concluded you would be in England, though we were on our way to
Milan to inquire after you. George has been a great comfort to me in
all this affair, Venetia; he loves you, Venetia, almost as much as
I do. I think I should have gone mad during that cursed affair in
England, had it not been for George. I thought you would hate me; but,
when George brought me your message, I cared for nothing; and then his
visit to the lake was so devilish kind! He is a noble fellow and a
true friend. My sweet, sweet Venetia, dry your eyes. Let us rejoin
them with a smile. We have not been long away, I will pretend we have
been violet hunting,' said Cadurcis, stooping down and plucking up a
handful of flowers. 'Do you remember our violets at home, Venetia?
Do you know, Venetia, I always fancy every human being is like some
object in nature; and you always put me in mind of a violet so fresh
and sweet and delicate!'



CHAPTER VI.


'We have been exploring the happy valley,' said Lord Cadurcis to Lady
Annabel, 'and here is our plunder,' and he gave her the violets.

'You were always fond of flowers,' said Lady Annabel.

'Yes, I imbibed the taste from you,' said Cadurcis, gratified by the
gracious remark.

He seated himself at her feet, examined and admired her work, and
talked of old times, but with such infinite discretion, that he did
not arouse a single painful association. Venetia was busied with her
father's poems, and smiled often at the manuscript notes of Cadurcis.
Lying, as usual, on the grass, and leaning his head on his left arm,
Herbert was listening to Captain Cadurcis, who was endeavouring to
give him a clear idea of the Bosphorus. Thus the morning wore away,
until the sun drove them into the villa.

'I will show you my library, Lord Cadurcis,' said Herbert.

Cadurcis followed him into a spacious apartment, where he found a
collection so considerable that he could not suppress his surprise.
'Italian spoils chiefly,' said Herbert; 'a friend of mine purchased
an old library at Bologna for me, and it turned out richer than I
imagined: the rest are old friends that have been with me, many of
them at least, at college. I brought them back with me from America,
for then they were my only friends.'

'Can you find Cabanis?' said Lord Cadurcis.

Herbert looked about. It is in this neighbourhood, I imagine,' he
said. Cadurcis endeavoured to assist him. 'What is this?' he said;
'Plato!'

'I should like to read Plato at Athens,' said Herbert. 'My ambition
now does not soar beyond such elegant fortune.'

'We are all under great obligations to Plato,' said Cadurcis. 'I
remember, when I was in London, I always professed myself his
disciple, and it is astonishing what results I experienced. Platonic
love was a great invention.'

Herbert smiled; but, as he saw Cadurcis knew nothing about the
subject, he made no reply.

'Plato says, or at least I think he says, that life is love,' said
Cadurcis. 'I have said it myself in a very grand way too; I believe I
cribbed it from you. But what does he mean? I am sure I meant nothing;
but I dare say you did.'

'I certainly had some meaning,' said Herbert, stopping in his search,
and smiling, 'but I do not know whether I expressed it. The principle
of every motion, that is of all life, is desire or love: at present;
I am in love with the lost volume of Cabanis, and, if it were not
for the desire of obtaining it, I should not now be affording any
testimony of my vitality by looking after it.'

'That is very clear,' said Cadurcis, 'but I was thinking of love in
the vulgar sense, in the shape of a petticoat. Certainly, when I am in
love with a woman, I feel love is life; but, when I am out of love,
which often happens, and generally very soon, I still contrive to
live.'

'We exist,' said Herbert, 'because we sympathise. If we did not
sympathise with the air, we should die. But, if we only sympathised
with the air, we should be in the lowest order of brutes, baser than
the sloth. Mount from the sloth to the poet. It is sympathy that makes
you a poet. It is your desire that the airy children of your brain
should be born anew within another's, that makes you create;
therefore, a misanthropical poet is a contradiction in terms.'

'But when he writes a lampoon?' said Cadurcis.

'He desires that the majority, who are not lampooned, should share his
hate,' said Herbert.

'But Swift lampooned the species,' said Cadurcis. 'For my part, I
think life is hatred.'

'But Swift was not sincere, for he wrote the Drapier's Letters at the
same time. Besides, the very fact of your abusing mankind proves that
you do not hate them; it is clear that you are desirous of obtaining
their good opinion of your wit. You value them, you esteem them, you
love them. Their approbation causes you to act, and makes you happy.
As for sexual love,' said Herbert, 'of which you were speaking, its
quality and duration depend upon the degree of sympathy that subsists
between the two persons interested. Plato believed, and I believe with
him, in the existence of a spiritual antitype of the soul, so that
when we are born, there is something within us which, from the instant
we live and move, thirsts after its likeness. This propensity develops
itself with the development of our nature. The gratification of the
senses soon becomes a very small part of that profound and complicated
sentiment, which we call love. Love, on the contrary, is an universal
thirst for a communion, not merely of the senses, but of our whole
nature, intellectual, imaginative, and sensitive. He who finds his
antitype, enjoys a love perfect and enduring; time cannot change it,
distance cannot remove it; the sympathy is complete. He who loves an
object that approaches his antitype, is proportionately happy, the
sympathy is feeble or strong, as it may be. If men were properly
educated, and their faculties fully developed,' continued Herbert,
'the discovery of the antitype would be easy; and, when the day
arrives that it is a matter of course, the perfection of civilisation
will be attained.'

'I believe in Plato,' said Lord Cadurcis, 'and I think I have found my
antitype. His theory accounts for what I never could understand.'



CHAPTER VII.


In the course of the evening Lady Annabel requested Lord Cadurcis and
his cousin to take up their quarters at the villa. Independent of the
delight which such an invitation occasioned him, Cadurcis was doubly
gratified by its being given by her. It was indeed her unprompted
solicitation; for neither Herbert nor even Venetia, however much
they desired the arrangement, was anxious to appear eager for its
fulfilment. Desirous of pleasing her husband and her daughter; a
little penitent as to her previous treatment of Cadurcis, now that
time and strange events had combined to soften her feelings; and won
by his engaging demeanour towards herself, Lady Annabel had of mere
impulse resolved upon the act; and she was repaid by the general air
of gaiety and content which it diffused through the circle.

Few weeks indeed passed ere her ladyship taught herself even to
contemplate the possibility of an union between her daughter and
Lord Cadurcis. The change which had occurred in her own feelings and
position had in her estimation removed very considerable barriers to
such a result. It would not become her again to urge the peculiarity
of his temperament as an insuperable objection to the marriage; that
was out of the question, even if the conscience of Lady Annabel
herself, now that she was so happy, were perfectly free from any
participation in the causes which occasioned the original estrangement
between Herbert and herself. Desirous too, as all mothers are, that
her daughter should be suitably married, Lady Annabel could not shut
her eyes to the great improbability of such an event occurring, now
that Venetia had, as it were, resigned all connection with her native
country. As to her daughter marrying a foreigner, the very idea was
intolerable to her; and Venetia appeared therefore to have resumed
that singular and delicate position which she occupied at Cherbury in
earlier years, when Lady Annabel had esteemed her connection with Lord
Cadurcis so fortunate and auspicious. Moreover, while Lord Cadurcis,
in birth, rank, country, and consideration, offered in every view of
the ease so gratifying an alliance, he was perhaps the only Englishman
whose marriage into her family would not deprive her of the society of
her child. Cadurcis had a great distaste for England, which he seized
every opportunity to express. He continually declared that he would
never return there; and his habits of seclusion and study so entirely
accorded with those of her husband, that Lady Annabel did not doubt
they would continue to form only one family; a prospect so engaging to
her, that it would perhaps have alone removed the distrust which she
had so unfortunately cherished against the admirer of her daughter;
and although some of his reputed opinions occasioned her doubtless
considerable anxiety, he was nevertheless very young, and far from
emancipated from the beneficial influence of his early education. She
was sanguine that this sheep would yet return to the fold where once
he had been tended with so much solicitude. When too she called to
mind the chastened spirit of her husband, and could not refrain from
feeling that, had she not quitted him, he might at a much earlier
period have attained a mood so full of promise and to her so cheering,
she could not resist the persuasion that, under the influence of
Venetia, Cadurcis might speedily free himself from the dominion of
that arrogant genius to which, rather than to any serious conviction,
the result of a studious philosophy, she attributed his indifference
on the most important of subjects. On the whole, however, it was with
no common gratification that Lady Annabel observed the strong and
intimate friendship that arose between her husband and Cadurcis. They
were inseparable companions. Independently of the natural sympathy
between two highly imaginative minds, there were in the superior
experience, the noble character, the vast knowledge, and refined taste
of Herbert, charms of which Cadurcis was very susceptible Cadurcis had
not been a great reader himself, and he liked the company of one whose
mind was at once so richly cultured and so deeply meditative: thus he
obtained matter and spirit distilled through the alembic of another's
brain. Jealousy had never had a place in Herbert's temperament; now he
was insensible even to emulation. He spoke of Cadurcis as he thought,
with the highest admiration; as one without a rival, and in whose
power it was to obtain an imperishable fame. It was his liveliest
pleasure to assist the full development of such an intellect, and to
pour to him, with a lavish hand, all the treasures of his taste, his
learning, his fancy, and his meditation. His kind heart, his winning
manners, his subdued and perfect temper, and the remembrance of the
relation which he bore to Venetia, completed the spell which bound
Cadurcis to him with all the finest feelings of his nature. It was,
indeed, an intercourse peculiarly beneficial to Cadurcis, whose career
had hitherto tended rather to the development of the power, than the
refinement of his genius; and to whom an active communion with an
equal spirit of a more matured intelligence was an incident rather to
be desired than expected. Herbert and Cadurcis, therefore, spent their
mornings together, sometimes in the library, sometimes wandering in
the chestnut woods, sometimes sailing in the boat of the brig, for
they were both fond of the sea: in these excursions, George was in
general their companion. He had become a great favourite with Herbert,
as with everybody else. No one managed a boat so well, although
Cadurcis prided himself also on his skill in this respect; and George
was so frank and unaffected, and so used to his cousin's habits, that
his presence never embarrassed Herbert and Cadurcis, and they read or
conversed quite at their ease, as if there were no third person to
mar, by his want of sympathy, the full communion of their intellect.
The whole circle met at dinner, and never again parted until at a late
hour of night. This was a most agreeable life; Cadurcis himself, good
humoured because he was happy, doubly exerted himself to ingratiate
himself with Lady Annabel, and felt every day that he was advancing.
Venetia always smiled upon him, and praised him delightfully for his
delightful conduct.

In the evening, Herbert would read to them the manuscript poem of
Cadurcis, the fruits of his Attic residence and Grecian meditations.
The poet would sometimes affect a playful bashfulness on this head,
perhaps not altogether affected, and amuse Venetia, in a whisper, with
his running comments; or exclaim with an arch air, 'I say, Venetia,
what would Mrs. Montague and the Blues give for this, eh? I can fancy
Hannah More in decent ecstasies!'



CHAPTER VIII.


'It is an odd thing, my dear Herbert,' said Cadurcis to his friend, in
one of these voyages, 'that destiny should have given you and me the
same tutor.'

'Masham!' said Herbert, smiling. 'I tell you what is much more
singular, my dear Cadurcis; it is, that, notwithstanding being our
tutor, a mitre should have fallen upon his head.'

'I am heartily glad,' said Cadurcis. 'I like Masham very much; I
really have a sincere affection for him. Do you know, during my
infernal affair about those accursed Monteagles, when I went to the
House of Lords, and was cut even by my own party; think of that, the
polished ruffians! Masham was the only person who came forward and
shook hands with me, and in the most marked manner. A bishop, too! and
the other side! that was good, was it not? But he would not see his
old pupil snubbed; if he had waited ten minutes longer, he might have
had a chance of seeing him massacred. And then they complain of my
abusing England, my mother country; a step-dame, I take it.'

'Masham is in politics a Tory, in religion ultra-orthodox,' Herbert.
'He has nothing about him of the latitudinarian; and yet he is the
most amiable man with whom I am acquainted. Nature has given him a
kind and charitable heart, which even his opinions have not succeeded
in spoiling.'

'Perhaps that is exactly what he is saying of us two at this moment,'
said Cadurcis. 'After all, what is truth? It changes as you change
your clime or your country; it changes with the century. The truth of
a hundred years ago is not the truth of the present day, and yet it
may have been as genuine. Truth at Rome is not the truth of London,
and both of them differ from the truth of Constantinople. For my part,
I believe everything.'

'Well, that is practically prudent, if it be metaphysically possible,'
said Herbert. 'Do you know that I have always been of opinion, that
Pontius Pilate has been greatly misrepresented by Lord Bacon in the
quotation of his celebrated question. 'What is truth?' said jesting
Pilate, and would not wait for an answer. Let us be just to Pontius
Pilate, who has sins enough surely to answer for. There is no
authority for the jesting humour given by Lord Bacon. Pilate was
evidently of a merciful and clement disposition; probably an
Epicurean. His question referred to a declaration immediately
preceding it, that He who was before him came to bear witness to the
truth. Pilate inquired what truth?'

'Well, I always have a prejudice against Pontius Pilate,' said Lord
Cadurcis; 'and I think it is from seeing him, when I was a child,
on an old Dutch tile fireplace at Marringhurst, dressed like a
burgomaster. One cannot get over one's early impressions; but when you
picture him to me as an Epicurean, he assumes a new character. I fancy
him young, noble, elegant, and accomplished; crowned with a wreath and
waving a goblet, and enjoying his government vastly.'

'Before the introduction of Christianity,' said Herbert, 'the
philosophic schools answered to our present religious sects. You said
of a man that he was a Stoic or an Epicurean, as you say of a man now
that he is a Calvinist or a Wesleyan.'

'I should have liked to have known Epicurus,' said Cadurcis.

'I would sooner have known him and Plato than any of the ancients,'
said Herbert. 'I look upon Plato as the wisest and the profoundest of
men, and upon Epicurus as the most humane and gentle.'

'Now, how do you account for the great popularity of Aristotle in
modern ages?' said Cadurcis; 'and the comparative neglect of these, at
least his equals? Chance, I suppose, that settles everything.'

'By no means,' said Herbert. 'If you mean by chance an absence of
accountable cause, I do not believe such a quality as chance exists.
Every incident that happens, must be a link in a chain. In the present
case, the monks monopolised literature, such as it might be, and they
exercised their intellect only in discussing words. They, therefore,
adopted Aristotle and the Peripatetics. Plato interfered with their
heavenly knowledge, and Epicurus, who maintained the rights of man to
pleasure and happiness, would have afforded a dangerous and seducing
contrast to their dark and miserable code of morals.'

'I think, of the ancients,' said Cadurcis; 'Alcibiades and Alexander
the Great are my favourites. They were young, beautiful, and
conquerors; a great combination.'

'And among the moderns?' inquired Herbert.

'They don't touch my fancy,' said Cadurcis. 'Who are your heroes?'

'Oh! I have many; but I confess I should like to pass a day with
Milton, or Sir Philip Sidney.'

'Among mere literary men,' said Cadurcis; 'I should say Bayle.'

'And old Montaigne for me,' said Herbert.

'Well, I would fain visit him in his feudal chateau,' said Cadurcis.
'His is one of the books which give a spring to the mind. Of modern
times, the feudal ages of Italy most interest me. I think that was a
springtide of civilisation, all the fine arts nourished at the same
moment.'

'They ever will,' said Herbert. 'All the inventive arts maintain a
sympathetic connection between each other, for, after all, they are
only various expressions of one internal power, modified by different
circumstances either of the individual or of society. It was so in
the age of Pericles; I mean the interval which intervened between
the birth of that great man and the death of Aristotle; undoubtedly,
whether considered in itself, or with reference to the effects which
it produced upon the subsequent destinies of civilised man, the most
memorable in the history of the world.'

'And yet the age of Pericles has passed away,' said Lord Cadurcis
mournfully, 'and I have gazed upon the mouldering Parthenon. O
Herbert! you are a great thinker and muse deeply; solve me the
problem why so unparalleled a progress was made during that period
in literature and the arts, and why that progress, so rapid and so
sustained, so soon received a check and became retrograde?'

'It is a problem left to the wonder and conjecture of posterity,' said
Herbert. 'But its solution, perhaps, may principally be found in the
weakness of their political institutions. Nothing of the Athenians
remains except their genius; but they fulfilled their purpose. The
wrecks and fragments of their subtle and profound minds obscurely
suggest to us the grandeur and perfection of the whole. Their language
excels every other tongue of the Western world; their sculptures
baffle all subsequent artists; credible witnesses assure us that their
paintings were not inferior; and we are only accustomed to consider
the painters of Italy as those who have brought the art to its highest
perfection, because none of the ancient pictures have been preserved.
Yet of all their fine arts, it was music of which the Greeks were
themselves most proud. Its traditionary effects were far more powerful
than any which we experience from the compositions of our times. And
now for their poetry, Cadurcis. It is in poetry, and poetry alone,
that modern nations have maintained the majesty of genius. Do we equal
the Greeks? Do we even excel them?'

'Let us prove the equality first,' said Cadurcis. 'The Greeks excelled
in every species of poetry. In some we do not even attempt to rival
them. We have not a single modern ode, or a single modern pastoral. We
have no one to place by Pindar, or the exquisite Theocritus. As for
the epic, I confess myself a heretic as to Homer; I look upon the
Iliad as a remnant of national songs; the wise ones agree that the
Odyssey is the work of a later age. My instinct agrees with the result
of their researches. I credit their conclusion. The Paradise Lost is,
doubtless, a great production, but the subject is monkish. Dante is
national, but he has all the faults of a barbarous age. In general the
modern epic is framed upon the assumption that the Iliad is an orderly
composition. They are indebted for this fallacy to Virgil, who called
order out of chaos; but the Aeneid, all the same, appears to me an
insipid creation. And now for the drama. You will adduce Shakspeare?'

'There are passages in Dante,' said Herbert, 'not inferior, in my
opinion, to any existing literary composition, but, as a whole, I will
not make my stand on him; I am not so clear that, as a lyric poet,
Petrarch may not rival the Greeks. Shakspeare I esteem of ineffable
merit.'

'And who is Shakspeare?' said Cadurcis. 'We know of him as much as we
do of Homer. Did he write half the plays attributed to him? Did he
ever write a single whole play? I doubt it. He appears to me to have
been an inspired adapter for the theatres, which were then not as
good as barns. I take him to have been a botcher up of old plays.
His popularity is of modern date, and it may not last; it would have
surprised him marvellously. Heaven knows, at present, all that bears
his name is alike admired; and a regular Shaksperian falls into
ecstasies with trash which deserves a niche in the Dunciad. For my
part, I abhor your irregular geniuses, and I love to listen to the
little nightingale of Twickenham.'

'I have often observed,' said Herbert, 'that writers of an unbridled
imagination themselves, admire those whom the world, erroneously,
in my opinion, and from a confusion of ideas, esteems correct. I am
myself an admirer of Pope, though I certainly should not ever think of
classing him among the great creative spirits. And you, you are the
last poet in the world, Cadurcis, whom one would have fancied his
votary.'

'I have written like a boy,' said Cadurcis. 'I found the public bite,
and so I baited on with tainted meat. I have never written for fame,
only for notoriety; but I am satiated; I am going to turn over a new
leaf.'

'For myself,' said Herbert, 'if I ever had the power to impress my
creations on my fellow-men, the inclination is gone, and perhaps the
faculty is extinct. My career is over; perhaps a solitary echo from my
lyre may yet, at times, linger about the world like a breeze that has
lost its way. But there is a radical fault in my poetic mind, and I am
conscious of it. I am not altogether void of the creative faculty, but
mine is a fragmentary mind; I produce no whole. Unless you do this,
you cannot last; at least, you cannot materially affect your species.
But what I admire in you, Cadurcis, is that, with all the faults
of youth, of which you will free yourself, your creative power is
vigorous, prolific, and complete; your creations rise fast and fair,
like perfect worlds.'

'Well, we will not compliment each other,' said Cadurcis; 'for, after
all, it is a miserable craft. What is poetry but a lie, and what are
poets but liars?'

'You are wrong, Cadurcis,' said Herbert, 'poets are the unacknowledged
legislators of the world.'

'I see the towers of Porto Venere,' said Cadurcis directing the sail;
'we shall soon be on shore. I think, too, I recognise Venetia. Ah! my
dear Herbert, your daughter is a poem that beats all our inspiration!'



CHAPTER IX.


One circumstance alone cast a gloom over this happy family, and that
was the approaching departure of Captain Cadurcis for England. This
had been often postponed, but it could be postponed no longer. Not
even the entreaties of those kind friends could any longer prevent
what was inevitable. The kind heart, the sweet temper, and the lively
and companionable qualities of Captain Cadurcis, had endeared him to
everyone; all felt that his departure would occasion a blank in
their life, impossible to be supplied. It reminded the Herberts also
painfully of their own situation, in regard to their native country,
which they were ever unwilling to dwell upon. George talked of
returning to them, but the prospect was necessarily vague; they
felt that it was only one of those fanciful visions with which an
affectionate spirit attempts to soothe the pang of separation. His
position, his duties, all the projects of his life, bound him to
England, from which, indeed, he had been too long absent. It was
selfish to wish that, for their sakes, he should sink down into a mere
idler in Italy; and yet, when they recollected how little his future
life could be connected with their own, everyone felt dispirited.

'I shall not go boating to-day,' said George to Venetia; 'it is my
last day. Mr. Herbert and Plantagenet talk of going to Lavenza; let us
take a stroll together.'

Nothing can be refused to those we love on the last day, and Venetia
immediately acceded to his request. In the course of the morning,
therefore, herself and George quitted the valley, in the direction
of the coast towards Genoa. Many a white sail glittered on the blue
waters; it was a lively and cheering scene; but both Venetia and her
companion were depressed.

'I ought to be happy,' said George, and sighed. 'The fondest wish
of my heart is attained. You remember our conversation on the Lago
Maggiore, Venetia? You see I was a prophet, and you will be Lady
Cadurcis yet.'

'We must keep up our spirits,' said Venetia; 'I do not despair of our
all returning to England yet. So many wonders have happened, that I
cannot persuade myself that this marvel will not also occur. I am sure
my uncle will do something; I have a secret idea that the Bishop is
all this time working for papa; I feel assured I shall see Cherbury
and Cadurcis again, and Cadurcis will be your home.'

'A year ago you appeared dying, and Plantagenet was the most miserable
of men,' said Captain Cadurcis. 'You are both now perfectly well and
perfectly happy, living even under the same roof, soon, I feel, to be
united, and with the cordial approbation of Lady Annabel. Your father
is restored to you. Every blessing in the world seems to cluster round
your roof. It is selfish for me to wear a gloomy countenance.'

'Ah! dear George, you never can be selfish,' said Venetia.

'Yes, I am selfish, Venetia. What else can make me sad?'

'You know how much you contribute to our happiness,' said Venetia,
'and you feel for our sufferings at your absence.'

'No, Venetia, I feel for myself,' said Captain Cadurcis with energy;
'I am certain that I never can be happy, except in your society and
Plantagenet's. I cannot express to you how I love you both. Nothing
else gives me the slightest interest.'

'You must go home and marry,' said Venetia, smiling 'You must marry an
heiress.'

'Never,' said Captain Cadurcis. 'Nothing shall ever induce me to
marry. No! all my dreams are confined to being the bachelor uncle of
the family.'

'Well, now I think,' said Venetia, 'of all the persons I know, there
is no one so qualified for domestic happiness as yourself. I think
your wife, George, would be a very fortunate woman, and I only wish I
had a sister, that you might marry her.'

'I wish you had, Venetia; I would give up my resolution against
marriage directly.'

'Alas!' said Venetia, 'there is always some bitter drop in the cup of
life. Must you indeed go, George?'

'My present departure is inevitable,' he replied; 'but I have some
thoughts of giving up my profession and Parliament, and then I will
return, never to leave you again.'

'What will Lord ---- say? That will never do,' said Venetia. 'No; I
should not be content unless you prospered in the world, George. You
are made to prosper, and I should be miserable if you sacrificed your
existence to us. You must go home, and you must marry, and write
letters to us by every post, and tell us what a happy man you are. The
best thing for you to do would be to live with your wife at the abbey;
or Cherbury, if you liked. You see I settle everything.'

'I never will marry,' said Captain Cadurcis, seriously.

'Yes you will,' said Venetia.

'I am quite serious, Venetia. Now, mark my words, and remember this
day. I never will marry. I have a reason, and a strong and good one,
for my resolution.'

'What is it?'

'Because my marriage will destroy the intimacy that subsists between
me and yourself, and Plantagenet,' he added.

'Your wife should be my friend,' said Venetia.

'Happy woman!' said George.

'Let us indulge for a moment in a dream of domestic bliss,' said
Venetia gaily. 'Papa and mamma at Cherbury; Plantagenet and myself at
the abbey, where you and your wife must remain until we could build
you a house; and Dr. Masham coming down to spend Christmas with us.
Would it not be delightful? I only hope Plantagenet would be tame. I
think he would burst out a little sometimes.'

'Not with you, Venetia, not with you,' said George 'you have a hold
over him which nothing can ever shake. I could always put him in an
amiable mood in an instant by mentioning your name.'

'I wish you knew the abbey, George,' said Venetia. 'It is the most
interesting of all old places. I love it. You must promise me when you
arrive in England to go on a pilgrimage to Cadurcis and Cherbury, and
write me a long account of it.'

'I will indeed; I will write to you very often.'

'You shall find me a most faithful correspondent, which, I dare say,
Plantagenet would not prove.'

'Oh! I beg your pardon,' said George; 'you have no idea of the
quantity of letters he wrote me when he first quitted England.
And such delightful ones! I do not think there is a more lively
letter-writer in the world! His descriptions are so vivid; a few
touches give you a complete picture; and then his observations, they
are so playful! I assure you there is nothing in the world more easy
and diverting than a letter from Plantagenet.'

'If you could only see his first letter from Eton to me?' said
Venetia. 'I have always treasured it. It certainly was not very
diverting; and, if by easy you mean easy to decipher,' she added
laughing, 'his handwriting must have improved very much lately. Dear
Plantagenet, I am always afraid I never pay him sufficient respect;
that I do not feel sufficient awe in his presence; but I cannot
disconnect him from the playfellow of my infancy; and, do you know, it
seems to me, whenever he addresses me, his voice and air change, and
assume quite the tone and manner of childhood.'

'I have never known him but as a great man,' said Captain Cadurcis;
'but he was so frank and simple with me from the very first, that I
cannot believe that it is not two years since we first met.'

'Ah! I shall never forget that night at Ranelagh,' said Venetia, half
with a smile and half with a sigh. 'How interesting he looked! I loved
to see the people stare at him, and to hear them whisper his name.'

Here they seated themselves by a fountain, overshadowed by a
plane-tree, and for a while talked only of Plantagenet.

'All the dreams of my life have come to pass,' said Venetia. 'I
remember when I was at Weymouth, ill and not very happy, I used to
roam about the sands, thinking of papa, and how I wished Plantagenet
was like him, a great man, a great poet, whom all the world admired.
Little did I think that, before a year had passed, Plantagenet, my
unknown Plantagenet, would be the admiration of England; little did I
think another year would pass, and I should be living with my father
and Plantagenet together, and they should be bosom friends. You see,
George, we must never despair.'

'Under this bright sun,' said Captain Cadurcis, 'one is naturally
sanguine, but think of me alone and in gloomy England.'

'It is indeed a bright sun,' said Venetia; 'how wonderful to wake
every morning, and be sure of meeting its beam.'

Captain Cadurcis looked around him with a sailor's eye. Over the
Apennines, towards Genoa, there was a ridge of dark clouds piled up
with such compactness, that they might have been mistaken in a hasty
survey for part of the mountains themselves.

'Bright as is the sun,' said Captain Cadurcis, 'we may have yet a
squall before night.'

'I was delighted with Venice,' said his companion, not noticing his
observation; 'I think of all places in the world it is one which
Plantagenet would most admire. I cannot believe but that even his
delicious Athens would yield to it.'

'He did lead the oddest life at Athens you can conceive,' said Captain
Cadurcis. 'The people did not know what to make of him. He lived in
the Latin convent, a fine building which he had almost to himself,
for there are not half a dozen monks. He used to pace up and down the
terrace which he had turned into a garden, and on which he kept all
sorts of strange animals. He wrote continually there. Indeed he did
nothing but write. His only relaxation was a daily ride to Piraeus,
about five miles over the plain; he told me it was the only time in
his life he was ever contented with himself except when he was at
Cherbury. He always spoke of London with disgust.'

'Plantagenet loves retirement and a quiet life,' said Venetia; 'but he
must not be marred with vulgar sights and common-place duties. That is
the secret with him.'

'I think the wind has just changed,' said Captain Cadurcis. 'It seems
to me that we shall have a sirocco. There, it shifts again! We shall
have a sirocco for certain.'

'What did you think of papa when you first saw him?' said Venetia.
'Was he the kind of person you expected to see?'

'Exactly,' said Captain Cadurcis. 'So very spiritual! Plantagenet said
to me, as we went home the first night, that he looked like a golden
phantom. I think him very like you, Venetia; indeed, there can be no
doubt you inherited your face from your father.'

'Ah! if you had seen his portrait at Cherbury, when he was only
twenty!' said Venetia. 'That was a golden phantom, or rather he looked
like Hyperion. What are you staring at so, George?'

'I do not like this wind,' muttered Captain Cadurcis. 'There it goes.'

'You cannot see the wind, George?'

'Yes, I can, Venetia, and I do not like it at all. Do you see that
black spot flitting like a shade over the sea? It is like the
reflection of a cloud on the water; but there is no cloud. Well, that
is the wind, Venetia, and a very wicked wind too.'

'How strange! Is that indeed the wind?'

'We had better return home,' said Captain Cadurcis I wish they had not
gone to Lavenza.'

'But there is no danger?' said Venetia.

'Danger? No! no danger, but they may get a wet jacket.'

They walked on; but Captain Cadurcis was rather distrait: his eye was
always watching the wind; at last he said, 'I tell you, Venetia, we
must walk quickly; for, by Jove, we are going to have a white squall.'

They hurried their pace, Venetia mentioned her alarm again about the
boat; but her companion reassured her; yet his manner was not so
confident as his words.

A white mist began to curl above the horizon, the blueness of the day
seemed suddenly to fade, and its colour became grey; there was a swell
on the waters that hitherto had been quite glassy, and they were
covered with a scurfy foam.

'I wish I had been with them,' said Captain Cadurcis, evidently very
anxious.

'George, you are alarmed,' said Venetia, earnestly. 'I am sure there
is danger.'

'Danger! How can there be danger, Venetia? Perhaps they are in port by
this time. I dare say we shall find them at Spezzia. I will see you
home and run down to them. Only hurry, for your own sake, for you do
not know what a white squall in the Mediterranean is. We have but a
few moments.'

And even at this very instant, the wind came roaring and rushing with
such a violent gush that Venetia could scarcely stand; George put his
arm round her to support her. The air was filled with thick white
vapour, so that they could no longer see the ocean, only the surf
rising very high all along the coast.

'Keep close to me, Venetia,' said Captain Cadurcis; 'hold my arm and I
will walk first, for we shall not be able to see a yard before us in a
minute. I know where we are. We are above the olive wood, and we shall
soon be in the ravine. These Mediterranean white squalls are nasty
things; I had sooner by half be in a south-wester; for one cannot run
before the wind in this bay, the reefs stretch such a long way out.'

The danger, and the inutility of expressing fears which could only
perplex her guide, made Venetia silent, but she was terrified.
She could not divest herself of apprehension about her father and
Plantagenet. In spite of all he said, it was evident that her
companion was alarmed.

They had now entered the valley; the mountains had in some degree kept
off the vapour; the air was more clear. Venetia and Captain Cadurcis
stopped a moment to breathe. 'Now, Venetia, you are safe,' said
Captain Cadurcis. 'I will not come in; I will run down to the bay at
once.' He wiped the mist off his face: Venetia perceived him deadly
pale.

'George,' she said, 'conceal nothing from me; there is danger,
imminent danger. Tell me at once.'

'Indeed, Venetia,' said Captain Cadurcis, 'I am sure everything will
be quite right. There is some danger, certainly, at this moment; but
of course, long ago, they have run into harbour. I have no doubt they
are at Spezzia at this moment. Now, do not be alarmed; indeed there
is no cause. God bless you!' he said, and bounded away. 'No cause,'
thought he to himself, as the wind sounded like thunder, and the
vapour came rushing up the ravine. 'God grant I may be right; but
neither between the Tropics nor on the Line have I witnessed a severer
squall than this! What open boat can live in this weather Oh! that I
had been with them. I shall never forgive myself!'



CHAPTER X.


Venetia found her mother walking up and down the room, as was her
custom when she was agitated. She hurried to her daughter. 'You must
change your dress instantly, Venetia,' said Lady Annabel. 'Where is
George?'

'He has gone down to Spezzia to papa and Plantagenet; it is a white
squall; it comes on very suddenly in this sea. He ran down to Spezzia
instantly, because he thought they would be wet,' said the agitated
Venetia, speaking with rapidity and trying to appear calm.

'Are they at Spezzia?' inquired Lady Annabel, quickly.

'George has no doubt they are, mother,' said Venetia.

'No doubt!' exclaimed Lady Annabel, in great distress. 'God grant they
may be only wet.'

'Dearest mother,' said Venetia, approaching her, but speech deserted
her. She had advanced to encourage Lady Annabel, but her own fear
checked the words on her lips.

'Change your dress, Venetia,' said Lady Annabel; 'lose no time in
doing that. I think I will send down to Spezzia at once,'

'That is useless now, dear mother, for George is there.'

'Go, dearest,' said Lady Annabel; 'I dare say, we have no cause for
fear, but I am exceedingly alarmed about your father, about them: I
am, indeed. I do not like these sudden squalls, and I never liked this
boating; indeed, I never did. George being with them reconciled me to
it. Now go, Venetia; go, my love.'

Venetia quitted the room. She was so agitated that she made Pauncefort
a confidant of her apprehensions.

'La! my dear miss,' said Mistress Pauncefort, 'I should never have
thought of such a thing! Do not you remember what the old man said
at Weymouth, "there is many a boat will live in a rougher sea than a
ship;" and it is such an unlikely thing, it is indeed, Miss Venetia. I
am certain sure my lord can manage a boat as well as a common sailor,
and master is hardly less used to it than he. La! miss, don't make
yourself nervous about any such preposterous ideas. And I dare say you
will find them in the saloon when you go down again. Really I should
not wonder. I think you had better wear your twill dress; I have put
the new trimming on.'

They had not returned when Venetia joined her mother. That indeed she
could scarcely expect. But, in about half an hour, a message arrived
from Captain Cadurcis that they were not at Spezzia, but from
something he had heard, he had no doubt they were at Sarzana, and he
was going to ride on there at once. He felt sure, however, from what
he had heard, they were at Sarzana. This communication afforded Lady
Annabel a little ease, but Venetia's heart misgave her. She recalled
the alarm of George in the morning, which it was impossible for him to
disguise, and she thought she recognised in this hurried message and
vague assurances of safety something of the same apprehension, and the
same fruitless efforts to conceal it.

Now came the time of terrible suspense. Sarzana was nearly twenty
miles distant from Spezzia. The evening must arrive before they could
receive intelligence from Captain Cadurcis. In the meantime the squall
died away, the heavens became again bright, and, though the waves were
still tumultuous, the surf was greatly decreased. Lady Annabel had
already sent down more than one messenger to the bay, but they brought
no intelligence; she resolved now to go herself, that she might have
the satisfaction of herself cross-examining the fishermen who had been
driven in from various parts by stress of weather. She would not let
Venetia accompany her, who, she feared, might already suffer from the
exertions and rough weather of the morning. This was a most anxious
hour, and yet the absence of her mother was in some degree a relief to
Venetia; it at least freed her from the perpetual effort of assumed
composure. While her mother remained, Venetia had affected to read,
though her eye wandered listlessly over the page, or to draw, though
the pencil trembled in her hand; anything which might guard her from
conveying to her mother that she shared the apprehensions which had
already darkened her mother's mind. But now that Lady Annabel was
gone, Venetia, muffling herself up in her shawl, threw herself on a
sofa, and there she remained without a thought, her mind a chaos of
terrible images.

Her mother returned, and with a radiant countenance, Venetia sprang
from the sofa. 'There is good news; O mother! have they returned?'

'They are not at Spezzia,' said Lady Annabel, throwing herself into a
chair panting for breath; 'but there is good news. You see I was right
to go, Venetia. These stupid people we send only ask questions, and
take the first answer. I have seen a fisherman, and he says he heard
that two persons, Englishmen he believes, have put into Lerici in an
open boat.'

'God be praised!' said Venetia. 'O mother, I can now confess to you
the terror I have all along felt.'

'My own heart assures me of it, my child,' said Lady Annabel weeping;
and they mingled their tears together, but tears not of sorrow.

'Poor George!' said Lady Annabel, 'he will have a terrible journey to
Sarzana, and be feeling so much for us! Perhaps he may meet them.'

'I feel assured he will,' said Venetia; 'and perhaps ere long they
will all three be here again. Joy! joy!'

'They must never go in that boat again,' said Lady Annabel.

'Oh! they never will, dearest mother, if you ask them not,' said
Venetia.

'We will send to Lerici,' said Lady Annabel.

'Instantly,' said Venetia; 'but I dare say they already sent us a
messenger.'

'No!' said Lady Annabel; 'men treat the danger that is past very
lightly. We shall not hear from them except in person.'

Time now flew more lightly. They were both easy in their minds. The
messenger was despatched to Lerici; but even Lerici was a considerable
distance, and hours must elapse before his return. Still there was the
hope of seeing them, or hearing from them in the interval.

'I must go out, dear mother,' said Venetia. 'Let us both go out. It
is now very fine. Let us go just to the ravine, for indeed it is
impossible to remain here.'

Accordingly they both went forth, and took up a position on the coast
which commanded a view on all sides. All was radiant again, and
comparatively calm. Venetia looked upon the sea, and said, 'Ah! I
never shall forget a white squall in the Mediterranean, for all this
splendour.'

It was sunset: they returned home. No news yet from Lerici. Lady
Annabel grew uneasy again. The pensive and melancholy hour encouraged
gloom; but Venetia, who was sanguine, encouraged her mother.

'Suppose they were not Englishmen in the boat,' said Lady Annabel.

'It is impossible, mother. What other two persons in this
neighbourhood could have been in an open boat? Besides, the man said
Englishmen. You remember, he said Englishmen. You are quite sure he
did? It must be they. I feel as convinced of it as of your presence.'

'I think there can be no doubt,' said Lady Annabel. 'I wish that the
messenger would return.'

The messenger did return. No two persons in an open boat had put into
Lerici; but a boat, like the one described, with every stitch of
canvas set, had passed Lerici just before the squall commenced, and,
the people there doubted not, had made Sarzana.

Lady Annabel turned pale, but Venetia was still sanguine. 'They are
at Sarzana,' she said; 'they must be at Sarzana: you see George was
right. He said he was sure they were at Sarzana. Besides, dear mother,
he heard they were at Sarzana.'

'And we heard they were at Lerici,' said Lady Annabel in a melancholy
tone.

And so they were, dear mother; it all agrees. The accounts are
consistent. Do not you see how very consistent they are? They were
seen at Lerici, and were off Lerici, but they made Sarzana; and George
heard they were at Sarzana. I am certain they are at Sarzana. I feel
quite easy; I feel as easy as if they were here. They are safe at
Sarzana. But it is too far to return to-night. We shall see them at
breakfast to-morrow, all three.'

'Venetia, dearest! do not you sit up,' said her mother. 'I think there
is a chance of George returning; I feel assured he will send to-night;
but late, of course. Go, dearest, and sleep.'

'Sleep!' thought Venetia to herself; but to please her mother she
retired.

'Good-night, my child,' said Lady Annabel. 'The moment any one
arrives, you shall be aroused.'



CHAPTER XI.


Venetia, without undressing, lay down on her bed, watching for some
sound that might give her hope of George's return. Dwelling on every
instant, the time dragged heavily along, and she thought that the
night had half passed when Pauncefort entered her room, and she
learnt, to her surprise, that only an hour had elapsed since she had
parted from her mother. This entrance of Pauncefort had given Venetia
a momentary hope that they had returned.

'I assure you, Miss Venetia, it is only an hour,' said Pauncefort,
'and nothing could have happened. Now do try to go to sleep, that is
a dear young lady, for I am certain sure that they will all return in
the morning, as I am here. I was telling my lady just now, I said,
says I, I dare say they are all very wet, and very fatigued.'

'They would have returned, Pauncefort,' said Venetia, 'or they would
have sent. They are not at Sarzana.'

'La! Miss Venetia, why should they be at Sarzana? Why should they not
have gone much farther on! For, as Vicenzo was just saying to me, and
Vicenzo knows all about the coast, with such a wind as this, I should
not be surprised if they were at Leghorn.'

'O Pauncefort!' said Venetia, 'I am sick at heart!'

'Now really, Miss Venetia, do not take on so!' said Pauncefort; 'for
do not you remember when his lordship ran away from the abbey, and
went a gipsying, nothing would persuade poor Mrs. Cadurcis that he was
not robbed and murdered, and yet you see he was as safe and sound all
the time, as if he had been at Cherbury.'

'Does Vicenzo really think they could have reached Leghorn?' said
Venetia, clinging to every fragment of hope.

'He is morally sure of it, Miss Venetia,' said Pauncefort, 'and I feel
quite as certain, for Vicenzo is always right.'

'I had confidence about Sarzana,' said Venetia; 'I really did believe
they were at Sarzana. If only Captain Cadurcis would return; if he
only would return, and say they were not at Sarzana, I would try to
believe they were at Leghorn.'

'Now, Miss Venetia,' said Pauncefort, 'I am certain sure that they are
quite safe; for my lord is a very good sailor; he is, indeed; all the
men say so; and the boat is as seaworthy a boat as boat can be. There
is not the slightest fear, I do assure you, miss.'

'Do the men say that Plantagenet is a good sailor?' inquired Venetia.

'Quite professional!' said Mistress Pauncefort; 'and can command a
ship as well as the best of them. They all say that.'

'Hush! Pauncefort, I hear something.'

'It's only my lady, miss. I know her step,'

'Is my mother going to bed?' said Venetia.

'Yes,' said Pauncefort, 'my lady sent me here to see after you. I wish
I could tell her you were asleep.'

'It is impossible to sleep,' said Venetia, rising up from the bed,
withdrawing the curtain, and looking at the sky. 'What a peaceful
night! I wish my heart were like the sky. I think I will go to mamma,
Pauncefort!'

'Oh! dear, Miss Venetia, I am sure I think you had better not. If you
and my lady, now, would only just go to sleep, and forget every thing
till morning, it would be much better for you. Besides, I am sure if
my lady knew you were not gone to bed already, it would only make her
doubly anxious. Now, really, Miss Venetia, do take my advice, and just
lie down, again. You may be sure the moment any one arrives I will let
you know. Indeed, I shall go and tell my lady that you are lying down
as it is, and very drowsy;' and, so saying, Mistress Pauncefort caught
up her candle, and bustled out of the room.

Venetia took up the volume of her father's poems, which Cadurcis had
filled with his notes. How little did Plantagenet anticipate, when he
thus expressed at Athens the passing impressions of his mind, that,
ere a year had glided away, his fate would be so intimately blended
with that of Herbert! It was impossible, however, for Venetia to lose
herself in a volume which, under any other circumstances, might have
compelled her spirit! the very associations with the writers added
to the terrible restlessness of her mind. She paused each instant
to listen for the wished-for sound, but a mute stillness reigned
throughout the house and household. There was something in this deep,
unbroken silence, at a moment when anxiety was universally diffused
among the dwellers beneath that roof, and the heart of more than one
of them was throbbing with all the torture of the most awful suspense,
that fell upon Venetia's excited nerves with a very painful and even
insufferable influence. She longed for sound, for some noise that
might assure her she was not the victim of a trance. She closed her
volume with energy, and she started at the sound she had herself
created. She rose and opened the door of her chamber very softly, and
walked into the vestibule. There were caps, and cloaks, and whips, and
canes of Cadurcis and her father, lying about in familiar confusion.
It seemed impossible but that they were sleeping, as usual, under the
same roof. And where were they? That she should live and be unable to
answer that terrible question! When she felt the utter helplessness of
all her strong sympathy towards them, it seemed to her that she must
go mad. She gazed around her with a wild and vacant stare. At the
bottom of her heart there was a fear maturing into conviction too
horrible for expression. She returned to her own chamber, and the
exhaustion occasioned by her anxiety, and the increased coolness of
the night, made her at length drowsy. She threw herself on the bed and
slumbered.

She started in her sleep, she awoke, she dreamed they had come home.
She rose and looked at the progress of the night. The night was waning
fast; a grey light was on the landscape; the point of day approached.
Venetia stole softly to her mother's room, and entered it with a
soundless step. Lady Annabel had not retired to bed. She had sat up
the whole night, and was now asleep. A lamp on a small table was
burning at her side, and she held, firmly grasped in her hand, the
letter of her husband, which he had addressed to her at Venice, and
which she had been evidently reading. A tear glided down the cheek of
Venetia as she watched her mother retaining that letter with fondness
even in her sleep, and when she thought of all the misery, and
heartaches, and harrowing hours that had preceded its receipt, and
which Venetia believed that letter had cured for ever. What misery
awaited them now? Why were they watchers of the night? She shuddered
when these dreadful questions flitted through her mind. She shuddered
and sighed. Her mother started, and woke.

'Who is there?' inquired Lady Annabel.

'Venetia.'

'My child, have you not slept?'

'Yes, mother, and I woke refreshed, as I hope you do.'

'I wake with trust in God's mercy,' said Lady Annabel. 'Tell me the
hour.'

'It is just upon dawn, mother.'

'Dawn! no one has returned, or come.'

'The house is still, mother.'

'I would you were in bed, my child.'

'Mother, I can sleep no more. I wish to be with you;' and Venetia
seated herself at her mother's feet, and reclined her head upon her
mother's knee.

'I am glad the night has passed, Venetia,' said Lady Annabel, in a
suppressed yet solemn tone. 'It has been a trial.' And here she placed
the letter in her bosom. Venetia could only answer with a sigh.

'I wish Pauncefort would come,' said Lady Annabel; 'and yet I do not
like to rouse her, she was up so late, poor creature! If it be the
dawn I should like to send out messengers again; something may be
heard at Spezzia.'

'Vicenzo thinks they have gone to Leghorn, mother.'

'Has he heard anything!' said Lady Annabel, eagerly.

'No, but he is an excellent judge,' said Venetia, repeating all
Pauncefort's consolatory chatter. 'He knows the coast so well. He says
he is sure the wind would carry them on to Leghorn; and that accounts,
you know, mother, for George not returning. They are all at Leghorn.'

'Would that George would return,' murmured Lady Annabel; 'I wish I
could see again that sailor who said they were at Lerici. He was an
intelligent man.'

'Perhaps if we send down to the bay he may be there,' said Venetia.'

'Hush! I hear a step!' said Lady Annabel.

Venetia sprung up and opened the door, but it was only Pauncefort in
the vestibule.

'The household are all up, my lady,' said that important personage
entering; ''tis a beautiful morning. Vicenzo has run down to the bay,
my lady; I sent him off immediately. Vicenzo says he is certain sure
they are at Leghorn, my lady; and, this time three years, the very
same thing happened. They were fishing for anchovies, my lady, close
by, my lady, near Sarzana; two young men, or rather one about the same
age as master, and one like my lord; cousins, my lady, and just in the
same sort of boat, my lady; and there came on a squall, just the same
sort of squall, my lady; and they did not return home; and everyone
was frightened out of their wits, my lady, and their wives and
families quite distracted; and after all they were at Leghorn; for
this sort of wind always takes your open boats to Leghorn, Vicenzo
says.'

The sun rose, the household were all stirring, and many of them
abroad; the common routine of domestic duty seemed, by some general
yet not expressed understanding, to have ceased. The ladies descended
below at a very early hour, and went forth into the valley, once the
happy valley. What was to be its future denomination? Vicenzo returned
from the bay, and he contrived to return with cheering intelligence.
The master of a felucca who, in consequence of the squall had put in
at Lerici, and in the evening dropped down to Spezzia, had met an open
boat an hour before he reached Sarzana, and was quite confident that,
if it had put into port, it must have been, from the speed at which it
was going, a great distance down the coast. No wrecks had been heard
of in the neighbourhood. This intelligence, the gladsome time of day,
and the non-arrival of Captain Cadurcis, which according to their mood
was always a circumstance that counted either for good or for evil,
and the sanguine feelings which make us always cling to hope,
altogether reassured our friends. Venetia dismissed from her mind the
dark thought which for a moment had haunted her in the noon of night;
and still it was a suspense, a painful, agitating suspense, but only
suspense that yet influenced them.

'Time! said Lady Annabel. 'Time! we must wait.'

Venetia consoled her mother; she affected even a gaiety of spirit;
she was sure that Vicenzo would turn out to be right, after all;
Pauncefort said he always was right, and that they were at Leghorn.

The day wore apace; the noon arrived and passed; it was even
approaching sunset. Lady Annabel was almost afraid to counterorder the
usual meals, lest Venetia should comprehend her secret terror; the
very same sentiment influenced Venetia. Thus they both had submitted
to the ceremony of breakfast, but when the hour of dinner approached
they could neither endure the mockery. They looked at each other, and
almost at the same time they proposed that, instead of dining, they
should walk down to the bay.

'I trust we shall at least hear something before the night,' said Lady
Annabel. 'I confess I dread the coming night. I do not think I could
endure it.'

'The longer we do not hear, the more certain I am of their being at
Leghorn,' said Venetia.

'I have a great mind to travel there to-night,' said Lady Annabel.

As they were stepping into the portico, Venetia recognised Captain
Cadurcis in the distance. She turned pale; she would have fallen had
she not leaned on her mother, who was not so advanced, and who had not
seen him.

'What is the matter, Venetia!' said Lady Annabel, alarmed.

'He is here, he is here!'

'Marmion?'

'No, George. Let me sit down.'

Her mother tried to support her to a chair. Lady Annabel took off her
bonnet. She had not strength to walk forth. She could not speak. She
sat down opposite Venetia, and her countenance pictured distress to so
painful a degree, that at any other time Venetia would have flown to
her, but in this crisis of suspense it was impossible. George was in
sight; he was in the portico; he was in the room.

He looked wan, haggard, and distracted. More than once he essayed to
speak, but failed.

Lady Annabel looked at him with a strange, delirious expression.
Venetia rushed forward and seized his arm, and gazed intently on his
face. He shrank from her glance; his frame trembled.



CHAPTER XII.


In the heart of the tempest Captain Cadurcis traced his way in a sea
of vapour with extreme danger and difficulty to the shore. On his
arrival at Spezzia, however, scarcely a house was visible, and the
only evidence of the situation of the place was the cessation of an
immense white surf which otherwise indicated the line of the sea, but
the absence of which proved his contiguity to a harbour. In the thick
fog he heard the cries and shouts of the returning fishermen, and
of their wives and children responding from the land to their
exclamations. He was forced, therefore, to wait at Spezzia, in an
agony of impotent suspense, until the fury of the storm was over and
the sky was partially cleared. At length the objects became gradually
less obscure; he could trace the outline of the houses, and catch a
glimpse of the water half a mile out, and soon the old castles which
guard the entrance of the strait that leads into the gulf, looming
in the distance, and now and then a group of human beings in the
vanishing vapour. Of these he made some inquiries, but in vain,
respecting the boat and his friends. He then made the brig, but could
learn nothing except their departure in the morning. He at length
obtained a horse and galloped along the coast towards Lerici, keeping
a sharp look out as he proceeded and stopping at every village in his
progress for intelligence. When he had arrived in the course of three
hours at Lerici, the storm had abated, the sky was clear, and no
evidence of the recent squall remained except the agitated state
of the waves. At Lerici he could hear nothing, so he hurried on to
Sarzana, where he learnt for the first time that an open boat,
with its sails set, had passed more than an hour before the squall
commenced. From Sarzana he hastened on to Lavenza, a little port, the
nearest sea-point to Massa, and where the Carrara marble is shipped
for England. Here also his inquiries were fruitless, and, exhausted
by his exertions, he dismounted and rested at the inn, not only for
repose, but to consider over the course which he should now pursue.
The boat had not been seen off Lavenza, and the idea that they had
made the coast towards Leghorn now occurred to him. His horse was so
wearied that he was obliged to stop some time at Lavenza, for he could
procure no other mode of conveyance; the night also was fast coming
on, and to proceed to Leghorn by this dangerous route at this hour was
impossible. At Lavenza therefore he remained, resolved to hasten
to Leghorn at break of day. This was a most awful night. Although
physically exhausted, Captain Cadurcis could not sleep, and, after
some vain efforts, he quitted his restless bed on which he had laid
down without undressing, and walked forth to the harbour. Between
anxiety for Herbert and his cousin, and for the unhappy women whom he
had left behind, he was nearly distracted. He gazed on the sea, as if
some sail in sight might give him a chance of hope. His professional
experience assured him of all the danger of the squall. He could not
conceive how an open boat could live in such a sea, and an instant
return to port so soon as the squall commenced, appeared the only
chance of its salvation. Could they have reached Leghorn? It seemed
impossible. There was no hope they could now be at Sarzana, or Lerici.
When he contemplated the full contingency of what might have occurred,
his mind wandered, and refused to comprehend the possibility of the
terrible conclusion. He thought the morning would never break.

There was a cavernous rock by the seashore, that jutted into the water
like a small craggy promontory. Captain Cadurcis climbed to its top,
and then descending, reclined himself upon an inferior portion of it,
which formed a natural couch with the wave on each side. There, lying
at his length, he gazed upon the moon and stars whose brightness he
thought would never dim. The Mediterranean is a tideless sea, but the
swell of the waves, which still set in to the shore, bore occasionally
masses of sea-weed and other marine formations, and deposited them
around him, plashing, as it broke against the shore, with a melancholy
and monotonous sound. The abstraction of the scene, the hour, and the
surrounding circumstances brought, however, no refreshment to the
exhausted spirit of George Cadurcis. He could not think, indeed he did
not dare to think; but the villa of the Apennines and the open boat in
the squall flitted continually before him. His mind was feeble though
excited, and he fell into a restless and yet unmeaning reverie. As
long as he had been in action, as long as he had been hurrying along
the coast, the excitement of motion, the constant exercise of his
senses, had relieved or distracted the intolerable suspense. But this
pause, this inevitable pause, overwhelmed him. It oppressed his spirit
like eternity. And yet what might the morning bring? He almost wished
that he might remain for ever on this rock watching the moon and
stars, and that the life of the world might never recommence.

He started; he had fallen into a light slumber; he had been dreaming;
he thought he had heard the voice of Venetia calling him; he had
forgotten where he was; he stared at the sea and sky, and recalled
his dreadful consciousness. The wave broke with a heavy plash that
attracted his attention: it was, indeed, that sound that had awakened
him. He looked around; there was some object; he started wildly from
his resting-place, sprang over the cavern, and bounded on the beach.
It was a corpse; he is kneeling by its side. It is the corpse of his
cousin! Lord Cadurcis was a fine swimmer, and had evidently made
strong efforts for his life, for he was partly undressed. In all the
insanity of hope, still wilder than despair, George Cadurcis seized
the body and bore it some yards upon the shore. Life had been long
extinct. The corpse was cold and stark, the eyes closed, an expression
of energy, however, yet lingering in the fixed jaw, and the hair
sodden with the sea. Suddenly Captain Cadurcis rushed to the inn and
roused the household. With a distracted air, and broken speech and
rapid motion, he communicated the catastrophe. Several persons, some
bearing torches, others blankets and cordials, followed him instantly
to the fatal spot. They hurried to the body, they applied all the rude
remedies of the moment, rather from the impulse of nervous excitement
than with any practical purpose; for the case had been indeed long
hopeless. While Captain Cadurcis leant over the body, chafing
the extremities in a hurried frenzy, and gazing intently on the
countenance, a shout was heard from one of the stragglers who had
recently arrived. The sea had washed on the beach another corpse: the
form of Marmion Herbert. It would appear that he had made no struggle
to save himself, for his hand was locked in his waistcoat, where, at
the moment, he had thrust the Phaedo, showing that he had been reading
to the last, and was meditating on immortality when he died.

END OF BOOK VI.



BOOK VII



CHAPTER I.


It was the commencement of autumn. The verdure of summer still
lingered on the trees; the sky, if not so cloudless, was almost as
refulgent as Italy; and the pigeons, bright and glancing, clustered on
the roof of the hall of Cherbury. The steward was in attendance; the
household, all in deep mourning, were assembled; everything was in
readiness for the immediate arrival of Lady Annabel Herbert.

''Tis nearly four years come Martinmas,' said the grey-headed butler,
'since my lady left us.'

'And no good has come of it,' said the housekeeper. 'And for my part I
never heard of good coming from going to foreign parts.'

'I shall like to see Miss Venetia again,' said a housemaid. 'Bless her
sweet face.'

'I never expected to see her Miss Venetia again from all we heard,'
said a footman.

'God's will be done!' said the grey-headed butler; 'but I hope she
will find happiness at home. 'Tis nigh on twenty years since I first
nursed her in these arms.'

'I wonder if there is any new Lord Cadurcis,' said the footman. 'I
think he was the last of the line.'

'It would have been a happy day if I had lived to have seen the poor
young lord marry Miss Venetia,' said the housekeeper. 'I always
thought that match was made in heaven.'

'He was a sweet-spoken young gentleman,' said the housemaid.

'For my part,' said the footman, 'I should like to have seen our real
master, Squire Herbert. He was a famous gentleman by all accounts.'

'I wish they had lived quietly at home,' said the housekeeper.

'I shall never forget the time when my lord returned,' said the
grey-headed butler. 'I must say I thought it was a match.'

'Mistress Pauncefort seemed to think so,' said the housemaid.

'And she understands those things,' said the footman.

'I see the carriage,' said a servant who was at a window in the hall.
All immediately bustled about, and the housekeeper sent a message to
the steward.

The carriage might be just discovered at the end of the avenue. It was
some time before it entered the iron gates that were thrown open for
its reception. The steward stood on the steps with his hat off, the
servants were ranged in order at the entrance. Touching their horses
with the spur, and cracking their whips, the postilions dashed
round the circular plot and stopped at the hall-door. Under any
circumstances a return home after an interval of years is rather an
awful moment; there was not a servant who was not visibly affected.
On the outside of the carriage was a foreign servant and Mistress
Pauncefort, who was not so profuse as might have been expected in her
recognitions of her old friends; her countenance was graver than of
yore. Misfortune and misery had subdued even Mistress Pauncefort. The
foreign servant opened the door of the carriage; a young man, who was
a stranger to the household, but who was in deep mourning, alighted,
and then Lady Annabel appeared. The steward advanced to welcome her,
the household bowed and curtseyed. She smiled on them for a moment
graciously and kindly, but her countenance immediately reassumed a
serious air, and whispering one word to the strange gentleman, she
entered the hall alone, inviting the steward to follow her.

'I hope your ladyship is well; welcome home, my lady; welcome again to
Cherbury; a welcome return, my lady; hope Miss Venetia is quite well;
happy to see your ladyship amongst us again, and Miss Venetia too, my
lady.' Lady Annabel acknowledged these salutations with kindness, and
then, saying that Miss Herbert was not very well and was fatigued with
her journey, she dismissed her humble but trusty friends. Lady Annabel
then turned and nodded to her fellow-traveller.

Upon this Lord Cadurcis, if we must indeed use a title from which he
himself shrank, carried a shrouded form in his arms into the hall,
where the steward alone lingered, though withdrawn to the back part
of the scene; and Lady Annabel, advancing to meet him, embraced his
treasured burden, her own unhappy child.

'Now, Venetia! dearest Venetia!' she said, ''tis past; we are at
home.'

Venetia leant upon her mother, but made no reply.

'Upstairs, dearest,' said Lady Annabel: 'a little exertion, a very
little.' Leaning on her mother and Lord Cadurcis, Venetia ascended the
staircase, and they reached the terrace-room. Venetia looked around
her as she entered the chamber; that scene of her former life,
endeared to her by so many happy hours, and so many sweet incidents;
that chamber where she had first seen Plantagenet. Lord Cadurcis
supported her to a chair, and then, overwhelmed by irresistible
emotion, she sank back in a swoon.

No one was allowed to enter the room but Pauncefort. They revived her;
Lord Cadurcis holding her hand, and touching, with a watchful finger,
her pulse. Venetia opened her eyes, and looked around her. Her
mind did not wander; she immediately recognised where she was, and
recollected all that had happened. She faintly smiled, and said, in a
low voice 'You are all too kind, and I am very weak. After our trials,
what is this, George?' she added, struggling to appear animated; 'you
are at length at Cherbury.'

Once more at Cherbury! It was, indeed, an event that recalled a
thousand associations. In the wild anguish of her first grief, when
the dreadful intelligence was broken to her, if anyone had whispered
to Venetia that she would yet find herself once more at Cherbury, she
would have esteemed the intimation as mockery. But time and hope will
struggle with the most poignant affliction, and their influence is
irresistible and inevitable. From her darkened chamber in their
Mediterranean villa, Venetia had again come forth, and crossed
mountains, and traversed immense plains, and journeyed through many
countries. She could not die, as she had supposed at first that she
must, and therefore she had exerted herself to quit, and to quit
speedily, a scene so terrible as their late abode. She was the very
first to propose their return to England, and to that spot where she
had passed her early life, and where she now wished to fulfil, in
quiet and seclusion, the allotment of her remaining years; to
meditate over the marvellous past, and cherish its sweet and bitter
recollections. The native firmness of Lady Annabel, her long exercised
control over her emotions, the sadness and subdued tone which the
early incidents of her career had cast over her character, her
profound sympathy with her daughter, and that religious consolation
which never deserted her, had alike impelled and enabled her to bear
up against the catastrophe with more fortitude than her child. The
arrow, indeed, had struck Venetia with a double barb. She was the
victim; and all the cares of Lady Annabel had been directed to soothe
and support this stricken lamb. Yet perhaps these unhappy women must
have sunk under their unparalleled calamities, had it not been for the
devotion of their companion. In the despair of his first emotions,
George Cadurcis was nearly plunging himself headlong into the wave
that had already proved so fatal to his house. But when he thought of
Lady Annabel and Venetia in a foreign land, without a single friend in
their desolation, and pictured them to himself with the dreadful news
abruptly communicated by some unfeeling stranger; and called upon,
in the midst of their overwhelming agony, to attend to all the
heart-rending arrangements which the discovery of the bodies of the
beings to whom they were devoted, and in whom all their feelings were
centred, must necessarily entail upon them, he recoiled from what he
contemplated as an act of infamous desertion. He resolved to live, if
only to preserve them from all their impending troubles, and with the
hope that his exertions might tend, in however slight a degree, not
to alleviate, for that was impossible; but to prevent the increase
of that terrible woe, the very conception of which made his brain
stagger. He carried the bodies, therefore, with him to Spezzia, and
then prepared for that fatal interview, the commencement of which we
first indicated. Yet it must be confessed that, though the bravest
of men, his courage faltered as he entered the accustomed ravine. He
stopped and looked down on the precipice below; he felt it utterly
impossible to meet them; his mind nearly deserted him. Death, some
great and universal catastrophe, an earthquake, a deluge, that would
have buried them all in an instant and a common fate, would have been
hailed by George Cadurcis, at that moment, as good fortune.

He lurked about the ravine for nearly three hours before he could
summon up heart for the awful interview. The position he had taken
assured him that no one could approach the villa, to which he himself
dared not advance. At length, in a paroxysm of energetic despair, he
had rushed forward, met them instantly, and confessed with a whirling
brain, and almost unconscious of his utterance, that 'they could not
hope to see them again in this world.'

What ensued must neither be attempted to be described, nor even
remembered. It was one of those tragedies of life which enfeeble the
most faithful memories at a blow shatter nerves beyond the faculty of
revival, cloud the mind for ever, or turn the hair grey in an instant.
They carried Venetia delirious to her bed. The very despair, and
almost madness, of her daughter forced Lady Annabel to self-exertion,
of which it was difficult to suppose that even she was capable. And
George, too, was obliged to leave them. He stayed only the night. A
few words passed between Lady Annabel and himself; she wished the
bodies to be embalmed, and borne to England. There was no time to be
lost, and there was no one to be entrusted except George. He had to
hasten to Genoa to make all these preparations, and for two days he
was absent from the villa. When he returned, Lady Annabel saw him, but
Venetia was for a long time invisible. The moment she grew composed,
she expressed a wish to her mother instantly to return to Cherbury.
All the arrangements necessarily devolved upon George Cadurcis. It
was his study that Lady Annabel should be troubled upon no point. The
household were discharged, all the affairs were wound up, the felucca
hired which was to bear them to Genoa, and in readiness, before he
notified to them that the hour of departure had arrived. The most
bitter circumstance was looking again upon the sea. It seemed so
intolerable to Venetia, that their departure was delayed more than one
day in consequence; but it was inevitable; they could reach Genoa in
no other manner. George carried Venetia in his arms to the boat, with
her face covered with a shawl, and bore her in the same manner to the
hotel at Genoa, where their travelling carriage awaited them.

They travelled home rapidly. All seemed to be impelled, as it were,
by a restless desire for repose. Cherbury was the only thought in
Venetia's mind. She observed nothing; she made no remark during their
journey; they travelled often throughout the night; but no obstacles
occurred, no inconveniences. There was one in this miserable society
whose only object in life was to support Venetia under her terrible
visitation. Silent, but with an eye that never slept, George Cadurcis
watched Venetia as a nurse might a child. He read her thoughts, he
anticipated her wishes without inquiring them; every arrangement was
unobtrusively made that could possibly consult her comfort.

They passed through London without stopping there. George would not
leave them for an instant; nor would he spare a thought to his own
affairs, though they urgently required his attention. The change in
his position gave him no consolation; he would not allow his passport
to be made out with his title; he shuddered at being called Lord
Cadurcis; and the only reason that made him hesitate about attending
them to Cherbury was its contiguity to his ancestral seat, which he
resolved never to visit. There never in the world was a less selfish
and more single-hearted man than George Cadurcis. Though the death of
his cousin had invested him with one of the most ancient coronets in
England, a noble residence and a fair estate, he would willingly have
sacrificed his life to have recalled Plantagenet to existence, and to
have secured the happiness of Venetia Herbert.



CHAPTER II.


The reader must not suppose, from the irresistible emotion that
overcame Venetia at the very moment of her return, that she was
entirely prostrated by her calamities. On the contrary, her mind had
been employed, during the whole of her journey to England, in a silent
effort to endure her lot with resignation. She had resolved to bear up
against her misery with fortitude, and she inherited from her mother
sufficient firmness of mind to enable her to achieve her purpose. She
came back to Cherbury to live with patience and submission; and though
her dreams of happiness might be vanished for ever, to contribute as
much as was in her power to the content of that dear and remaining
relative who was yet spared to her, and who depended in this world
only upon the affection of her child. The return to Cherbury was a
pang, and it was over. Venetia struggled to avoid the habits of an
invalid; she purposed resuming, as far as was in her power, all the
pursuits and duties of her life; and if it were neither possible, nor
even desirable, to forget the past, she dwelt upon it neither to sigh
nor to murmur, but to cherish in a sweet and musing mood the ties and
affections round which all her feelings had once gathered with so much
enjoyment and so much hope.

She rose, therefore, on the morning after her return to Cherbury, at
least serene; and she took an early opportunity, when George and her
mother were engaged, and absent from the terrace-room, to go forth
alone and wander amid her old haunts. There was not a spot about the
park and gardens, which had been favourite resorts of herself and
Plantagenet in their childhood, that she did not visit. They were
unchanged; as green, and bright, and still as in old days, but what
was she? The freshness, and brilliancy, and careless happiness of her
life were fled for ever. And here he lived, and here he roamed, and
here his voice sounded, now in glee, now in melancholy, now in wild
and fanciful amusement, and now pouring into her bosom all his
domestic sorrows. It was but ten years since he first arrived at
Cherbury, and who could have anticipated that that little, silent,
reserved boy should, ere ten years had passed, have filled a wide and
lofty space in the world's thought; that his existence should have
influenced the mind of nations, and his death eclipsed their gaiety!
His death! Terrible and disheartening thought! Plantagenet was no
more. But he had not died without a record. His memory was embalmed
in immortal verse, and he had breathed his passion to his Venetia in
language that lingered in the ear, and would dwell for ever on the
lips, of his fellow-men.

Among these woods, too, had Venetia first mused over her father;
before her rose those mysterious chambers, whose secret she had
penetrated at the risk of her life. There were no secrets now. Was
she happier? Now she felt that even in her early mystery there was
delight, and that hope was veiled beneath its ominous shadow. There
was now no future to ponder over; her hope was gone, and memory alone
remained. All the dreams of those musing hours of her hidden reveries
had been realised. She had seen that father, that surpassing parent,
who had satisfied alike her heart and her imagination; she had been
clasped to his bosom; she had lived to witness even her mother yield
to his penitent embrace. And he too was gone; she could never meet him
again in this world; in this world in which they had experienced such
exquisite bliss; and now she was once more at Cherbury! Oh! give her
back her girlhood, with all its painful mystery and harassing doubt!
Give her again a future!

She returned to the hall; she met George on the terrace, she welcomed
him with a sweet, yet mournful smile. 'I have been very selfish,'
she said, 'for I have been walking alone. I mean to introduce you to
Cherbury, but I could not resist visiting some old spots.' Her voice
faltered in these last words. They re-entered the terrace-room
together, and joined her mother.

'Nothing is changed, mamma,' said Venetia, in a more cheerful tone.
'It is pleasant to find something that is the same.'

Several days passed, and Lord Cadurcis evinced no desire to visit his
inheritance. Yet Lady Annabel was anxious that he should do so, and
had more than once impressed upon him the propriety. Even Venetia
at length said to him, 'It is very selfish in us keeping you here,
George. Your presence is a great consolation, and yet, yet, ought you
not to visit your home?' She avoided the name of Cadurcis.

'I ought, dear Venetia.' said George, 'and I will. I have promised
Lady Annabel twenty times, but I feel a terrible disinclination.
To-morrow, perhaps.'

'To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,' murmured Venetia to
herself, 'I scarcely comprehend now what to-morrow means.' And then
again addressing him, and with more liveliness, she said, 'We have
only one friend in the world now, George, and I think that we ought to
be very grateful that he is our neighbour.'

'It is a consolation to me,' said Lord Cadurcis, 'for I cannot remain
here, and otherwise I should scarcely know how to depart.'

'I wish you would visit your home, if only for one morning,' said
Venetia; 'if only to know how very near you are to us.'

'I dread going alone,' said Lord Cadurcis. 'I cannot ask Lady Annabel
to accompany me, because--' He hesitated.

'Because?' inquired Venetia.

'I cannot ask or wish her to leave you.'

'You are always thinking of me, dear George,' said Venetia, artlessly.
'I assure you, I have come back to Cherbury to be happy. I must visit
your home some day, and I hope I shall visit it often. We will all go,
soon,' she added.

'Then I will postpone my visit to that day,' said George. 'I am in
no humour for business, which I know awaits me there. Let me enjoy a
little more repose at dear Cherbury.'

'I have become very restless of late, I think,' said Venetia, 'but
there is a particular spot in the garden that I wish to see. Come with
me, George.'

Lord Cadurcis was only too happy to attend her. They proceeded through
a winding walk in the shrubberies until they arrived at a small
and open plot of turf, where Venetia stopped. 'There are some
associations,' she said, 'of this spot connected with both those
friends that we have lost. I have a fancy that it should be in some
visible manner consecrated to their memories. On this spot, George,
Plantagenet once spoke to me of my father. I should like to raise
their busts here; and indeed it is a fit place for such a purpose;
for poets,' she added, faintly smiling, 'should be surrounded with
laurels.'

'I have some thoughts on this head that I am revolving in my fancy
myself,' said Lord Cadurcis, 'but I will not speak of them now.'

'Yes, now, George; for indeed it is a satisfaction for me to speak of
them, at least with you, with one who understood them so well, and
loved them scarcely less than I did.'

George tenderly put his arm into hers and led her away. As they walked
along, he explained to her his plans, which yet were somewhat crude,
but which greatly interested her; but they were roused from their
conversation by the bell of the hall sounding as if to summon them,
and therefore they directed their way immediately to the terrace. A
servant running met them; he brought a message from Lady Annabel.
Their friend the Bishop of ---- had arrived.



CHAPTER III.


'Well, my little daughter,' said the good Masham, advancing as Venetia
entered the room, and tenderly embracing her. The kind-hearted old man
maintained a conversation on indifferent subjects with animation for
some minutes; and thus a meeting, the anticipation of which would have
cost Venetia hours of pain and anxiety, occurred with less uneasy
feelings.

Masham had hastened to Cherbury the moment he heard of the return of
the Herberts to England. He did not come to console, but to enliven.
He was well aware that even his eloquence, and all the influence of
his piety, could not soften the irreparable past; and knowing, from
experience, how in solitude the unhappy brood over sorrow, he fancied
that his arrival, and perhaps his arrival only, might tend in some
degree at this moment to their alleviation and comfort. He brought
Lady Annabel and Venetia letters from their relations, with whom he
had been staying at their country residence, and who were anxious that
their unhappy kinsfolk should find change of scene under their roof.

'They are very affectionate,' said Lady Annabel, 'but I rather think
that neither Venetia nor myself feel inclined to quit Cherbury at
present.'

'Indeed not, mamma,' said Venetia. 'I hope we shall never leave home
again.'

'You must come and see me some day,' said the Bishop; then turning to
George, whom he was glad to find here, he addressed him in a hearty
tone, and expressed his delight at again meeting him.

Insensibly to all parties this arrival of the good Masham exercised a
beneficial influence on their spirits. They could sympathise with his
cheerfulness, because they were convinced that he sympathised with
their sorrow. His interesting conversation withdrew their minds from
the painful subject on which they were always musing. It seemed
profanation to either of the three mourners when they were together
alone, to indulge in any topic but the absorbing one, and their utmost
effort was to speak of the past with composure; but they all felt
relieved, though at first unconsciously, when one, whose interest in
their feelings could not be doubted, gave the signal of withdrawing
their reflections from vicissitudes which it was useless to deplore.
Even the social forms which the presence of a guest rendered
indispensable, and the exercise of the courtesies of hospitality,
contributed to this result. They withdrew their minds from the past.
And the worthy Bishop, whose tact was as eminent as his good humour
and benevolence, evincing as much delicacy of feeling as cheerfulness
of temper, a very few days had elapsed before each of his companions
was aware that his presence had contributed to their increased
content.

'You have not been to the abbey yet, Lord Cadurcis,' said Masham to
him one day, as they were sitting together after dinner, the ladies
having retired. 'You should go.'

'I have been unwilling to leave them,' said George, 'and I could
scarcely expect them to accompany me. It is a visit that must revive
painful recollections.'

'We must not dwell on the past,' said Masham; 'we must think only of
the future.'

'Venetia has no future, I fear,' said Lord Cadurcis.

'Why not?' said Masham; 'she is yet a girl, and with a prospect of a
long life. She must have a future, and I hope, and I believe, it will
yet be a happy one.'

'Alas!' said Lord Cadurcis, 'no one can form an idea of the attachment
that subsisted between Plantagenet and Venetia. They were not common
feelings, or the feelings of common minds, my dear lord.'

'No one knew them both better than I did,' said Masham, 'not even
yourself: they were my children.'

'I feel that,' said George, 'and therefore it is a pleasure to us all
to see you, and to speak with you.'

'But we must look for consolation,' said Masham; 'to deplore is
fruitless. If we live, we must struggle to live happily. To tell you
the truth, though their immediate return to Cherbury was inevitable,
and their residence here for a time is scarcely to be deprecated, I
still hope they will not bury themselves here. For my part, after the
necessary interval, I wish to see Venetia once more in the world.'

Lord Cadurcis looked very mournful, and shook his head.

'As for her dear mother, she is habituated to sorrow and
disappointment,' said Masham. 'As long as Venetia lives Lady Annabel
will be content. Besides, deplorable as may be the past, there must be
solace to her in the reflection that she was reconciled to her husband
before his death, and contributed to his happiness. Venetia is the
stricken lamb, but Venetia is formed for happiness, and it is in the
nature of things that she will be happy. We must not, however, yield
unnecessarily to our feelings. A violent exertion would be unwise, but
we should habituate ourselves gradually to the exercise of our duties,
and to our accustomed pursuits. It would be well for you to go to
Cadurcis. If I were you I would go to-morrow. Take advantage of my
presence, and return and give a report of your visit. Habituate
Venetia to talk of a spot with which ultimately she must renew her
intimacy.'

Influenced by this advice, Lord Cadurcis rose early on the next
morning and repaired to the seat of his fathers, where hitherto his
foot had never trod. When the circle at Cherbury assembled at their
breakfast table he was missing, and Masham had undertaken the office
of apprising his friends of the cause of his absence. He returned to
dinner, and the conversation fell naturally upon the abbey, and the
impressions he had received. It was maintained at first by Lady
Annabel and the Bishop, but Venetia ultimately joined in it, and with
cheerfulness. Many a trait and incident of former days was alluded to;
they talked of Mrs. Cadurcis, whom George had never seen; they settled
the chambers he should inhabit; they mentioned the improvements
which Plantagenet had once contemplated, and which George must now
accomplish.

'You must go to London first,' said the Bishop; 'you have a great deal
to do, and you should not delay such business. I think you had better
return with me. At this time of the year you need not be long absent;
you will not be detained; and when you return, you will find yourself
much more at ease; for, after all, nothing is more harassing than the
feeling, that there is business which must be attended to, and which,
nevertheless, is neglected.'

Both Lady Annabel and Venetia enforced this advice of their friend;
and so it happened that, ere a week had elapsed, Lord Cadurcis,
accompanying Masham, found himself once more in London.



CHAPTER IV.


Venetia was now once more alone with her mother; it was as in old
times. Their life was the same as before the visit of Plantagenet
previous to his going to Cambridge, except indeed that they had no
longer a friend at Marringhurst. They missed the Sabbath visits of
that good man; for, though his successor performed the duties of the
day, which had been a condition when he was presented to the living,
the friend who knew all the secrets of their hearts was absent.
Venetia continued to bear herself with great equanimity, and the
anxiety which she observed instantly impressed on her mother's
countenance, the moment she fancied there was unusual gloom on the
brow of her child, impelled Venetia doubly to exert herself to appear
resigned. And in truth, when Lady Annabel revolved in her mind the
mournful past, and meditated over her early and unceasing efforts
to secure the happiness of her daughter, and then contrasted her
aspirations with the result, she could not acquit herself of having
been too often unconsciously instrumental in forwarding a very
different conclusion than that for which she had laboured. This
conviction preyed upon the mother, and the slightest evidence of
reaction in Venetia's tranquilised demeanour occasioned her the utmost
remorse and grief. The absence of George made both Lady Annabel and
Venetia still more finely appreciate the solace of his society. Left
to themselves, they felt how much they had depended on his vigilant
and considerate attention, and how much his sweet temper and his
unfailing sympathy had contributed to their consolation. He wrote,
however, to Venetia by every post, and his letters, if possible,
endeared him still more to their hearts. Unwilling to dwell upon
their mutual sorrows, yet always expressing sufficient to prove that
distance and absence had not impaired his sympathy, he contrived, with
infinite delicacy, even to amuse their solitude with the adventures of
his life of bustle. The arrival of the post was the incident of the
day; and not merely letters arrived; one day brought books, another
music; continually some fresh token of his thought and affection
reached them. He was, however, only a fortnight absent; but when he
returned, it was to Cadurcis. He called upon them the next day, and
indeed every morning found him at Cherbury; but he returned to his
home at night; and so, without an effort, from their guest he had
become their neighbour.

Plantagenet had left the whole of his property to his cousin: his
mother's fortune, which, as an accessory fund, was not inconsiderable,
besides the estate. And George intended to devote a portion of this to
the restoration of the abbey. Venetia was to be his counsellor in this
operation, and therefore there were ample sources of amusement for the
remainder of the year. On a high ridge, which was one of the beacons
of the county, and which, moreover, marked the junction of the domains
of Cherbury and Cadurcis, it was his intention to raise a monument to
the united memories of Marmion Herbert and Plantagenet Lord Cadurcis.
He brought down a design with him from London, and this was the
project which he had previously whispered to Venetia. With George for
her companion, too, Venetia was induced to resume her rides. It was
her part to make him acquainted with the county in which he was so
important a resident. Time therefore, at Cherbury, on the whole,
flowed on in a tide of tranquil pleasure; and Lady Annabel observed,
with interest and fondness, the continual presence beneath her roof
of one who, from the first day she had met him, had engaged her kind
feelings, and had since become intimately endeared to her.

The end of November was, however, now approaching, and Parliament
was about to reassemble. Masham had written more than once to Lord
Cadurcis, impressing upon him the propriety and expediency of taking
his seat. He had shown these letters, as he showed everything, to
Venetia, who was his counsellor on all subjects, and Venetia agreed
with their friend.

'It is right,' said Venetia; 'you have a duty to perform, and you must
perform it. Besides, I do not wish the name of Cadurcis to sink again
into obscurity. I shall look forward with interest to Lord Cadurcis
taking the oaths and his seat. It will please me; it will indeed.'

'But Venetia,' said George, 'I do not like to leave this place. I am
happy, if we may be happy. This life suits me. I am a quiet man. I
dislike London. I feel alone there.'

'You can write to us; you will have a great deal to say. And I shall
have something to say to you now. I must give you a continual report
how they go on at the abbey. I will be your steward, and superintend
everything.'

'Ah!' said George, 'what shall I do in London without you, without
your advice? There will be something occurring every day, and I shall
have no one to consult. Indeed I shall feel quite miserable; I shall
indeed.'

'It is quite impossible that, with your station, and at your time of
life, you should bury yourself in the country,' said Venetia. 'You
have the whole world before you, and you must enjoy it. It is very
well for mamma and myself to lead this life. I look upon ourselves as
two nuns. If Cadurcis is an abbey, Cherbury is now a convent.'

'How can a man wish to be more than happy? I am quite content here,'
said George, 'What is London to me?'

'It may be a great deal to you, more than you think,' said Venetia. 'A
great deal awaits you yet. However, there can be no doubt you should
take your seat. You can always return, if you wish. But take your
seat, and cultivate dear Masham. I have the utmost confidence in his
wisdom and goodness. You cannot have a friend more respectable. Now
mind my advice, George.'

'I always do, Venetia.'



CHAPTER V.


Time and Faith are the great consolers, and neither of these precious
sources of solace were wanting to the inhabitants of Cherbury. They
were again living alone, but their lives were cheerful; and if Venetia
no longer indulged in a worldly and blissful future, nevertheless, in
the society of her mother, in the resources of art and literature, in
the diligent discharge of her duties to her humble neighbours, and in
cherishing the memory of the departed, she experienced a life that was
not without its tranquil pleasures. She maintained with Lord Cadurcis
a constant correspondence; he wrote to her every day, and although
they were separated, there was not an incident of his life, and
scarcely a thought, of which she was not cognisant. It was with great
difficulty that George could induce himself to remain in London; but
Masham, who soon obtained over him all the influence which Venetia
desired, ever opposed his return to the abbey. The good Bishop was not
unaware of the feelings with which Lord Cadurcis looked back to the
hall of Cherbury, and himself of a glad and sanguine temperament, he
indulged in a belief in the consummation of all that happiness for
which his young friend, rather sceptically, sighed. But Masham was
aware that time could alone soften the bitterness of Venetia's sorrow,
and prepare her for that change of life which he felt confident
would alone ensure the happiness both of herself and her mother. He
therefore detained Lord Cadurcis in London the whole of the sessions
that, on his return to Cherbury, his society might be esteemed a novel
and agreeable incident in the existence of its inhabitants, and not be
associated merely with their calamities.

It was therefore about a year after the catastrophe which had so
suddenly changed the whole tenor of their lives, and occasioned so
unexpected a revolution in his own position, that Lord Cadurcis
arrived at his ancestral seat, with no intention of again speedily
leaving it. He had long and frequently apprised his friends of his
approaching presence, And, arriving at the abbey late at night, he was
at Cherbury early on the following morning.

Although no inconsiderable interval had elapsed since Lord Cadurcis
had parted from the Herberts, the continual correspondence that had
been maintained between himself and Venetia, divested his visit of the
slightest embarrassment. They met as if they had parted yesterday,
except perhaps with greater fondness. The chain of their feelings
was unbroken. He was indeed welcomed, both by Lady Annabel and her
daughter, with warm affection; and his absence had only rendered him
dearer to them by affording an opportunity of feeling how much his
society contributed to their felicity. Venetia was anxious to know his
opinion of the improvements at the abbey, which she had superintended;
but he assured her that he would examine nothing without her company,
and ultimately they agreed to walk over to Cadurcis.

It was a summer day, and they walked through that very wood wherein
we described the journey of the child Venetia, at the commencement
of this very history. The blue patches of wild hyacinths had all
disappeared, but there were flowers as sweet. What if the first
feelings of our heart fade, like the first flowers of spring,
succeeding years, like the coming summer, may bring emotions not less
charming, and, perchance, far more fervent!

'I can scarcely believe,' said Lord Cadurcis, 'that I am once more
with you. I know not what surprises me most, Venetia, that we should
be walking once more together in the woods of Cherbury, or that I ever
should have dared to quit them.'

'And yet it was better, dear George,' said Venetia. 'You must now
rejoice that you have fulfilled your duty, and yet you are here again.
Besides, the abbey never would have been finished if you had remained.
To complete all our plans, it required a mistress.'

'I wish it always had one,' said George. 'Ah, Venetia! once you told
me never to despair.'

'And what have you to despair about, George?'

'Heigh ho!' said Lord Cadurcis, 'I never shall be able to live in this
abbey alone.'

'You should have brought a wife from London,' said Venetia.

'I told you once, Venetia, that I was not a marrying man,' said Lord
Cadurcis; 'and certainly I never shall bring a wife from London.'

'Then you cannot accustom yourself too soon to a bachelor's life,'
said Venetia.

'Ah, Venetia!' said George, 'I wish I were clever; I wish I were a
genius; I wish I were a great man.'

'Why, George?'

'Because, Venetia, perhaps,' and Lord Cadurcis hesitated, 'perhaps you
would think differently of me? I mean perhaps your feelings towards me
might; ah, Venetia! perhaps you might think me worthy of you; perhaps
you might love me.'

'I am sure, dear George, if I did not love you, I should be the most
ungrateful of beings: you are our only friend.'

'And can I never be more than a friend to you, Venetia?' said Lord
Cadurcis, blushing very deeply.

'I am sure, dear George, I should be very sorry for your sake, if you
wished to be more,' said Venetia.

'Why?' said Lord Cadurcis.

'Because I should not like to see you unite your destiny with that of
a very unfortunate, if not a very unhappy, person.'

'The sweetest, the loveliest of women!' said Lord Cadurcis. 'O
Venetia! I dare not express what I feel, still less what I could hope.
I think so little of myself, so highly of you, that I am convinced my
aspirations are too arrogant for me to breathe them.'

'Ah! dear George, you deserve to be happy,' said Venetia. 'Would that
it were in my power to make you!'

'Dearest Venetia! it is, it is,' exclaimed Lord Cadurcis; then
checking himself, as if frightened by his boldness, he added in a more
subdued tone, 'I feel I am not worthy of you.'

They stood upon the breezy down that divided the demesnes of Cherbury
and the abbey. Beneath them rose, 'embosomed in a valley of green
bowers,' the ancient pile lately renovated under the studious care of
Venetia.

'Ah!' said Lord Cadurcis, 'be not less kind to the master of these
towers, than to the roof that you have fostered. You have renovated
our halls, restore our happiness! There is an union that will bring
consolation to more than one hearth, and baffle all the crosses of
adverse fate. Venetia, beautiful and noble-minded Venetia, condescend
to fulfil it!'

Perhaps the reader will not be surprised that, within a few months of
this morning walk, the hands of George, Lord Cadurcis, and Venetia
Herbert were joined in the chapel at Cherbury by the good Masham.
Peace be with them.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Venetia" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home