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´╗┐Title: A Sicilian Romance
Author: Radcliffe, Ann Ward, 1764-1823
Language: English
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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.

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A Sicilian Romance

by Ann Radcliffe



On the northern shore of Sicily are still to be seen the magnificent
remains of a castle, which formerly belonged to the noble house of
Mazzini. It stands in the centre of a small bay, and upon a gentle
acclivity, which, on one side, slopes towards the sea, and on the
other rises into an eminence crowned by dark woods. The situation is
admirably beautiful and picturesque, and the ruins have an air of
ancient grandeur, which, contrasted with the present solitude of the
scene, impresses the traveller with awe and curiosity. During my
travels abroad I visited this spot. As I walked over the loose
fragments of stone, which lay scattered through the immense area of
the fabrick, and surveyed the sublimity and grandeur of the ruins, I
recurred, by a natural association of ideas, to the times when these
walls stood proudly in their original splendour, when the halls were
the scenes of hospitality and festive magnificence, and when they
resounded with the voices of those whom death had long since swept
from the earth. 'Thus,' said I, 'shall the present generation--he who
now sinks in misery--and he who now swims in pleasure, alike pass
away and be forgotten.' My heart swelled with the reflection; and, as
I turned from the scene with a sigh, I fixed my eyes upon a friar,
whose venerable figure, gently bending towards the earth, formed no
uninteresting object in the picture. He observed my emotion; and, as
my eye met his, shook his head and pointed to the ruin. 'These walls,'
said he, 'were once the seat of luxury and vice. They exhibited a
singular instance of the retribution of Heaven, and were from that
period forsaken, and abandoned to decay.' His words excited my
curiosity, and I enquired further concerning their meaning.

'A solemn history belongs to this castle, said he, 'which is too long
and intricate for me to relate. It is, however, contained in a
manuscript in our library, of which I could, perhaps, procure you a
sight. A brother of our order, a descendant of the noble house of
Mazzini, collected and recorded the most striking incidents relating
to his family, and the history thus formed, he left as a legacy to our
convent. If you please, we will walk thither.'

I accompanied him to the convent, and the friar introduced me to his
superior, a man of an intelligent mind and benevolent heart, with whom
I passed some hours in interesting conversation. I believe my
sentiments pleased him; for, by his indulgence, I was permitted to
take abstracts of the history before me, which, with some further
particulars obtained in conversation with the abate, I have arranged
in the following pages.



CHAPTER I

Towards the close of the sixteenth century, this castle was in the
possession of Ferdinand, fifth marquis of Mazzini, and was for some
years the principal residence of his family. He was a man of a
voluptuous and imperious character. To his first wife, he married
Louisa Bernini, second daughter of the Count della Salario, a lady yet
more distinguished for the sweetness of her manners and the gentleness
of her disposition, than for her beauty. She brought the marquis one
son and two daughters, who lost their amiable mother in early
childhood. The arrogant and impetuous character of the marquis
operated powerfully upon the mild and susceptible nature of his lady:
and it was by many persons believed, that his unkindness and neglect
put a period to her life. However this might be, he soon afterwards
married Maria de Vellorno, a young lady eminently beautiful, but of a
character very opposite to that of her predecessor. She was a woman of
infinite art, devoted to pleasure, and of an unconquerable spirit. The
marquis, whose heart was dead to paternal tenderness, and whose
present lady was too volatile to attend to domestic concerns,
committed the education of his daughters to the care of a lady,
completely qualified for the undertaking, and who was distantly
related to the late marchioness.

He quitted Mazzini soon after his second marriage, for the gaieties
and splendour of Naples, whither his son accompanied him. Though
naturally of a haughty and overbearing disposition, he was governed by
his wife. His passions were vehement, and she had the address to bend
them to her own purpose; and so well to conceal her influence, that he
thought himself most independent when he was most enslaved. He paid an
annual visit to the castle of Mazzini; but the marchioness seldom
attended him, and he staid only to give such general directions
concerning the education of his daughters, as his pride, rather than
his affection, seemed to dictate.

Emilia, the elder, inherited much of her mother's disposition. She had
a mild and sweet temper, united with a clear and comprehensive mind.
Her younger sister, Julia, was of a more lively cast. An extreme
sensibility subjected her to frequent uneasiness; her temper was warm,
but generous; she was quickly irritated, and quickly appeased; and to
a reproof, however gentle, she would often weep, but was never sullen.
Her imagination was ardent, and her mind early exhibited symptoms of
genius. It was the particular care of Madame de Menon to counteract
those traits in the disposition of her young pupils, which appeared
inimical to their future happiness; and for this task she had
abilities which entitled her to hope for success. A series of early
misfortunes had entendered her heart, without weakening the powers of
her understanding. In retirement she had acquired tranquillity, and
had almost lost the consciousness of those sorrows which yet threw a
soft and not unpleasing shade over her character. She loved her young
charge with maternal fondness, and their gradual improvement and
respectful tenderness repaid all her anxiety. Madame excelled in music
and drawing. She had often forgot her sorrows in these amusements,
when her mind was too much occupied to derive consolation from books,
and she was assiduous to impart to Emilia and Julia a power so
valuable as that of beguiling the sense of affliction. Emilia's taste
led her to drawing, and she soon made rapid advances in that art.
Julia was uncommonly susceptible of the charms of harmony. She had
feelings which trembled in unison to all its various and enchanting
powers.

The instructions of madame she caught with astonishing quickness, and
in a short time attained to a degree of excellence in her favorite
study, which few persons have ever exceeded. Her manner was entirely
her own. It was not in the rapid intricacies of execution, that she
excelled so much in as in that delicacy of taste, and in those
enchanting powers of expression, which seem to breathe a soul through
the sound, and which take captive the heart of the hearer. The lute
was her favorite instrument, and its tender notes accorded well with
the sweet and melting tones of her voice.

The castle of Mazzini was a large irregular fabrick, and seemed suited
to receive a numerous train of followers, such as, in those days,
served the nobility, either in the splendour of peace, or the
turbulence of war. Its present family inhabited only a small part of
it; and even this part appeared forlorn and almost desolate from the
spaciousness of the apartments, and the length of the galleries which
led to them. A melancholy stillness reigned through the halls, and the
silence of the courts, which were shaded by high turrets, was for many
hours together undisturbed by the sound of any foot-step. Julia, who
discovered an early taste for books, loved to retire in an evening to
a small closet in which she had collected her favorite authors. This
room formed the western angle of the castle: one of its windows looked
upon the sea, beyond which was faintly seen, skirting the horizon, the
dark rocky coast of Calabria; the other opened towards a part of the
castle, and afforded a prospect of the neighbouring woods. Her musical
instruments were here deposited, with whatever assisted her favorite
amusements. This spot, which was at once elegant, pleasant, and
retired, was embellished with many little ornaments of her own
invention, and with some drawings executed by her sister. The cioset
was adjoining her chamber, and was separated from the apartments of
madame only by a short gallery. This gallery opened into another, long
and winding, which led to the grand staircase, terminating in the
north hall, with which the chief apartments of the north side of the
edifice communicated.

Madame de Menon's apartment opened into both galleries. It was in one
of these rooms that she usually spent the mornings, occupied in the
improvement of her young charge. The windows looked towards the sea,
and the room was light and pleasant. It was their custom to dine in
one of the lower apartments, and at table they were always joined by a
dependant of the marquis's, who had resided many years in the castle,
and who instructed the young ladies in the Latin tongue, and in
geography. During the fine evenings of summer, this little party
frequently supped in a pavilion, which was built on an eminence in the
woods belonging to the castle. From this spot the eye had an almost
boundless range of sea and land. It commanded the straits of Messina,
with the opposite shores of Calabria, and a great extent of the wild
and picturesque scenery of Sicily. Mount Etna, crowned with eternal
snows, and shooting from among the clouds, formed a grand and sublime
picture in the background of the scene. The city of Palermo was also
distinguishable; and Julia, as she gazed on its glittering spires;
would endeavour in imagination to depicture its beauties, while she
secretly sighed for a view of that world, from which she had hitherto
been secluded by the mean jealousy of the marchioness, upon whose mind
the dread of rival beauty operated strongly to the prejudice of Emilia
and Julia. She employed all her influence over the marquis to detain
them in retirement; and, though Emilia was now twenty, and her sister
eighteen, they had never passed the boundaries of their father's
domains.

Vanity often produces unreasonable alarm; but the marchioness had in
this instance just grounds for apprehension; the beauty of her lord's
daughters has seldom been exceeded. The person of Emilia was finely
proportioned. Her complexion was fair, her hair flaxen, and her dark
blue eyes were full of sweet expression. Her manners were dignified
and elegant, and in her air was a feminine softness, a tender timidity
which irresistibly attracted the heart of the beholder. The figure of
Julia was light and graceful--her step was airy--her mien animated,
and her smile enchanting. Her eyes were dark, and full of fire, but
tempered with modest sweetness. Her features were finely turned--every
laughing grace played round her mouth, and her countenance quickly
discovered all the various emotions of her soul. The dark auburn hair,
which curled in beautiful profusion in her neck, gave a finishing
charm to her appearance.

Thus lovely, and thus veiled in obscurity, were the daughters of the
noble Mazzini. But they were happy, for they knew not enough of the
world seriously to regret the want of its enjoyments, though Julia
would sometimes sigh for the airy image which her fancies painted, and
a painful curiosity would arise concerning the busy scenes from which
she was excluded. A return to her customary amusements, however, would
chase the ideal image from her mind, and restore her usual happy
complacency. Books, music, and painting, divided the hours of her
leisure, and many beautiful summer-evenings were spent in the
pavilion, where the refined conversation of madame, the poetry of
Tasso, the lute of Julia, and the friendship of Emilia, combined to
form a species of happiness, such as elevated and highly susceptible
minds are alone capable of receiving or communicating. Madame
understood and practised all the graces of conversation, and her young
pupils perceived its value, and caught the spirit of its character.

Conversation may be divided into two classes--the familiar and the
sentimental. It is the province of the familiar, to diffuse
cheerfulness and ease--to open the heart of man to man, and to beam a
temperate sunshine upon the mind.--Nature and art must conspire to
render us susceptible of the charms, and to qualify us for the
practice of the second class of conversation, here termed sentimental,
and in which Madame de Menon particularly excelled. To good sense,
lively feeling, and natural delicacy of taste, must be united an
expansion of mind, and a refinement of thought, which is the result of
high cultivation. To render this sort of conversation irresistibly
attractive, a knowledge of the world is requisite, and that enchanting
case, that elegance of manner, which is to be acquired only by
frequenting the higher circles of polished life. In sentimental
conversation, subjects interesting to the heart, and to the
imagination, are brought forward; they are discussed in a kind of
sportive way, with animation and refinement, and are never continued
longer than politeness allows. Here fancy flourishes,--the
sensibilities expand--and wit, guided by delicacy and embellished by
taste--points to the heart.

Such was the conversation of Madame de Menon; and the pleasant gaiety
of the pavilion seemed peculiarly to adapt it for the scene of social
delights. On the evening of a very sultry day, having supped in their
favorite spot, the coolness of the hour, and the beauty of the night,
tempted this happy party to remain there later than usual. Returning
home, they were surprised by the appearance of a light through the
broken window-shutters of an apartment, belonging to a division of the
castle which had for many years been shut up. They stopped to observe
it, when it suddenly disappeared, and was seen no more. Madame de
Menon, disturbed at this phaenomenon, hastened into the castle, with a
view of enquiring into the cause of it, when she was met in the north
hall by Vincent. She related to him what she had seen, and ordered an
immediate search to be made for the keys of those apartments. She
apprehended that some person had penetrated that part of the edifice
with an intention of plunder; and, disdaining a paltry fear where her
duty was concerned, she summoned the servants of the castle, with an
intention of accompanying them thither. Vincent smiled at her
apprehensions, and imputed what she had seen to an illusion, which the
solemnity of the hour had impressed upon her fancy. Madame, however,
persevered in her purpose; and, after along and repeated search, a
massey key, covered with rust, was produced. She then proceeded to the
southern side of the edifice, accompanied by Vincent, and followed by
the servants, who were agitated with impatient wonder. The key was
applied to an iron gate, which opened into a court that separated this
division from the other parts of the castle. They entered this court,
which was overgrown with grass and weeds, and ascended some steps that
led to a large door, which they vainly endeavoured to open. All the
different keys of the castle were applied to the lock, without effect,
and they were at length compelled to quit the place, without having
either satisfied their curiosity, or quieted their fears. Everything,
however, was still, and the light did not reappear. Madame concealed
her apprehensions, and the family retired to rest.

This circumstance dwelt on the mind of Madame de Menon, and it was
some time before she ventured again to spend an evening in the
pavilion. After several months passed, without further disturbance or
discovery, another occurrence renewed the alarm. Julia had one night
remained in her closet later than usual. A favorite book had engaged
her attention beyond the hour of customary repose, and every
inhabitant of the castle, except herself, had long been lost in sleep.
She was roused from her forgetfulness, by the sound of the castle
clock, which struck one. Surprised at the lateness of the hour, she
rose in haste, and was moving to her chamber, when the beauty of the
night attracted her to the window. She opened it; and observing a fine
effect of moonlight upon the dark woods, leaned forwards. In that
situation she had not long remained, when she perceived a light
faintly flash through a casement in the uninhabited part of the
castle. A sudden tremor seized her, and she with difficulty supported
herself. In a few moments it disappeared, and soon after a figure,
bearing a lamp, proceeded from an obscure door belonging to the south
tower; and stealing along the outside of the castle walls, turned
round the southern angle, by which it was afterwards hid from the
view. Astonished and terrified at what she had seen, she hurried to
the apartment of Madame de Menon, and related the circumstance. The
servants were immediately roused, and the alarm became general. Madame
arose and descended into the north hall, where the domestics were
already assembled. No one could be found of courage sufficient to
enter into the courts; and the orders of madame were disregarded, when
opposed to the effects of superstitious terror. She perceived that
Vincent was absent, but as she was ordering him to be called, he
entered the hall. Surprised to find the family thus assembled, he was
told the occasion. He immediately ordered a party of the servants to
attend him round the castle walls; and with some reluctance, and more
fear, they obeyed him. They all returned to the hall, without having
witnessed any extraordinary appearance; but though their fears were
not confirmed, they were by no means dissipated. The appearance of a
light in a part of the castle which had for several years been shut
up, and to which time and circumstance had given an air of singular
desolation, might reasonably be supposed to excite a strong degree of
surprise and terror. In the minds of the vulgar, any species of the
wonderful is received with avidity; and the servants did not hesitate
in believing the southern division of the castle to be inhabited by a
supernatural power. Too much agitated to sleep, they agreed to watch
for the remainder of the night. For this purpose they arranged
themselves in the east gallery, where they had a view of the south
tower from which the light had issued. The night, however, passed
without any further disturbance; and the morning dawn, which they
beheld with inexpressible pleasure, dissipated for a while the glooms
of apprehension. But the return of evening renewed the general fear,
and for several successive nights the domestics watched the southern
tower. Although nothing remarkable was seen, a report was soon raised,
and believed, that the southern side of the castle was haunted. Madame
de Menon, whose mind was superior to the effects of superstition, was
yet disturbed and perplexed, and she determined, if the light
reappeared, to inform the marquis of the circumstance, and request the
keys of those apartments.

The marquis, immersed in the dissipations of Naples, seldom remembered
the castle, or its inhabitants. His son, who had been educated under
his immediate care, was the sole object of his pride, as the
marchioness was that of his affection. He loved her with romantic
fondness, which she repaid with seeming tenderness, and secret
perfidy. She allowed herself a free indulgence in the most licentious
pleasures, yet conducted herself with an art so exquisite as to elude
discovery, and even suspicion. In her amours she was equally
inconstant as ardent, till the young Count Hippolitus de Vereza
attracted her attention. The natural fickleness of her disposition
seemed then to cease, and upon him she centered all her desires.

The count Vereza lost his father in early childhood. He was now of
age, and had just entered upon the possession of his estates. His
person was graceful, yet manly; his mind accomplished, and his manners
elegant; his countenance expressed a happy union of spirit, dignity,
and benevolence, which formed the principal traits of his character.
He had a sublimity of thought, which taught him to despise the
voluptuous vices of the Neapolitans, and led him to higher pursuits.
He was the chosen and early friend of young Ferdinand, the son of the
marquis, and was a frequent visitor in the family. When the
marchioness first saw him, she treated him with great distinction, and
at length made such advances, as neither the honor nor the
inclinations of the count permitted him to notice. He conducted
himself toward her with frigid indifference, which served only to
inflame the passion it was meant to chill. The favors of the
marchioness had hitherto been sought with avidity, and accepted with
rapture; and the repulsive insensibility which she now experienced,
roused all her pride, and called into action every refinement of
coquetry.

It was about this period that Vincent was seized with a disorder which
increased so rapidly, as in a short time to assume the most alarming
appearance. Despairing of life, he desired that a messenger might be
dispatched to inform the marquis of his situation, and to signify his
earnest wish to see him before he died. The progress of his disorder
defied every art of medicine, and his visible distress of mind seemed
to accelerate his fate. Perceiving his last hour approaching, he
requested to have a confessor. The confessor was shut up with him a
considerable time, and he had already received extreme unction, when
Madame de Menon was summoned to his bedside. The hand of death was now
upon him, cold damps hung upon his brows, and he, with difficulty,
raised his heavy eyes to madame as she entered the apartment. He
beckoned her towards him, and desiring that no person might be
permitted to enter the room, was for a few moments silent. His mind
appeared to labour under oppressive remembrances; he made several
attempts to speak, but either resolution or strength failed him. At
length, giving madame a look of unutterable anguish, 'Alas, madam,'
said he, 'Heaven grants not the prayer of such a wretch as I am. I
must expire long before the marquis can arrive. Since I shall see him
no more, I would impart to you a secret which lies heavy at my heart,
and which makes my last moments dreadful, as they are without hope.'
'Be comforted,' said madame, who was affected by the energy of his
manner, 'we are taught to believe that forgiveness is never denied to
sincere repentance.' 'You, madam, are ignorant of the enormity of my
crime, and of the secret--the horrid secret which labours at my
breast. My guilt is beyond remedy in this world, and I fear will be
without pardon in the next; I therefore hope little from confession
even to a priest. Yet some good it is still in my power to do; let me
disclose to you that secret which is so mysteriously connected with
the southern apartments of this castle.'--'What of them!' exclaimed
madame, with impatience. Vincent returned no answer; exhausted by the
effort of speaking, he had fainted. Madame rung for assistance, and by
proper applications, his senses were recalled. He was, however,
entirely speechless, and in this state he remained till he expired,
which was about an hour after he had conversed with madame.

The perplexity and astonishment of madame, were by the late scene
heightened to a very painful degree. She recollected the various
particulars relative to the southern division of the castle, the many
years it had stood uninhabited--the silence which had been observed
concerning it--the appearance of the light and the figure--the
fruitless search for the keys, and the reports so generally believed;
and thus remembrance presented her with a combination of
circumstances, which served only to increase her wonder, and heighten
her curiosity. A veil of mystery enveloped that part of the castle,
which it now seemed impossible should ever be penetrated, since the
only person who could have removed it, was no more.

The marquis arrived on the day after that on which Vincent had
expired. He came attended by servants only, and alighted at the gates
of the castle with an air of impatience, and a countenance expressive
of strong emotion. Madame, with the young ladies, received him in the
hall. He hastily saluted his daughters, and passed on to the oak
parlour, desiring madame to follow him. She obeyed, and the marquis
enquired with great agitation after Vincent. When told of his death,
he paced the room with hurried steps, and was for some time silent. At
length seating himself, and surveying madame with a scrutinizing eye,
he asked some questions concerning the particulars of Vincent's death.
She mentioned his earnest desire to see the marquis, and repeated his
last words. The marquis remained silent, and madame proceeded to
mention those circumstances relative to the southern division of the
castle, which she thought it of so much importance to discover. He
treated the affair very lightly, laughed at her conjectures,
represented the appearances she described as the illusions of a weak
and timid mind, and broke up the conversation, by going to visit the
chamber of Vincent, in which he remained a considerable time.

On the following day Emilia and Julia dined with the marquis. He was
gloomy and silent; their efforts to amuse him seemed to excite
displeasure rather than kindness; and when the repast was concluded,
he withdrew to his own apartment, leaving his daughters in a state of
sorrow and surprise.

Vincent was to be interred, according to his own desire, in the church
belonging to the convent of St Nicholas. One of the servants, after
receiving some necessary orders concerning the funeral, ventured to
inform the marquis of the appearance of the lights in the south tower.
He mentioned the superstitious reports that prevailed amongst the
household, and complained that the servants would not cross the courts
after it was dark. 'And who is he that has commissioned you with this
story?' said the marquis, in a tone of displeasure; 'are the weak and
ridiculous fancies of women and servants to be obtruded upon my
notice? Away--appear no more before me, till you have learned to
speak what it is proper for me to hear.' Robert withdrew abashed, and
it was some time before any person ventured to renew the subject with
the marquis.

The majority of young Ferdinand now drew near, and the marquis
determined to celebrate the occasion with festive magnificence at the
castle of Mazzini. He, therefore, summoned the marchioness and his son
from Naples, and very splendid preparations were ordered to be made.
Emilia and Julia dreaded the arrival of the marchioness, whose
influence they had long been sensible of, and from whose presence they
anticipated a painful restraint. Beneath the gentle guidance of Madame
de Menon, their hours had passed in happy tranquillity, for they were
ignorant alike of the sorrows and the pleasures of the world. Those
did not oppress, and these did not inflame them. Engaged in the
pursuits of knowledge, and in the attainment of elegant
accomplishments, their moments flew lightly away, and the flight of
time was marked only by improvement. In madame was united the
tenderness of the mother, with the sympathy of a friend; and they
loved her with a warm and inviolable affection.

The purposed visit of their brother, whom they had not seen for
several years, gave them great pleasure. Although their minds retained
no very distinct remembrance of him, they looked forward with eager
and delightful expectation to his virtues and his talents; and hoped
to find in his company, a consolation for the uneasiness which the
presence of the marchioness would excite. Neither did Julia
contemplate with indifference the approaching festival. A new scene
was now opening to her, which her young imagination painted in the
warm and glowing colours of delight. The near approach of pleasure
frequently awakens the heart to emotions, which would fail to be
excited by a more remote and abstracted observance. Julia, who, in the
distance, had considered the splendid gaieties of life with
tranquillity, now lingered with impatient hope through the moments
which withheld her from their enjoyments. Emilia, whose feelings were
less lively, and whose imagination was less powerful, beheld the
approaching festival with calm consideration, and almost regretted the
interruption of those tranquil pleasures, which she knew to be more
congenial with her powers and disposition.

In a few days the marchioness arrived at the castle. She was followed
by a numerous retinue, and accompanied by Ferdinand, and several of
the Italian noblesse, whom pleasure attracted to her train. Her
entrance was proclaimed by the sound of music, and those gates which
had long rusted on their hinges, were thrown open to receive her. The
courts and halls, whose aspect so lately expressed only gloom and
desolation, now shone with sudden splendour, and echoed the sounds of
gaiety and gladness. Julia surveyed the scene from an obscure window;
and as the triumphal strains filled the air, her breast throbbed; her
heart beat quick with joy, and she lost her apprehensions from the
marchioness in a sort of wild delight hitherto unknown to her. The
arrival of the marchioness seemed indeed the signal of universal and
unlimited pleasure. When the marquis came out to receive her, the
gloom that lately clouded his countenance, broke away in smiles of
welcome, which the whole company appeared to consider as invitations
to joy.

The tranquil heart of Emilia was not proof against a scene so
alluring, and she sighed at the prospect, yet scarcely knew why. Julia
pointed out to her sister, the graceful figure of a young man who
followed the marchioness, and she expressed her wishes that he might
be her brother. From the contemplation of the scene before them, they
were summoned to meet the marchioness. Julia trembled with
apprehension, and for a few moments wished the castle was in its
former state. As they advanced through the saloon, in which they were
presented, Julia was covered with blushes; but Emilia, tho' equally
timid, preserved her graceful dignity. The marchioness received them
with a mingled smile of condescension and politeness, and immediately
the whole attention of the company was attracted by their elegance and
beauty. The eager eyes of Julia sought in vain to discover her
brother, of whose features she had no recollection in those of any of
the persons then present. At length her father presented him, and she
perceived, with a sigh of regret, that he was not the youth she had
observed from the window. He advanced with a very engaging air, and
she met him with an unfeigned welcome. His figure was tall and
majestic; he had a very noble and spirited carriage; and his
countenance expressed at once sweetness and dignity. Supper was served
in the east hall, and the tables were spread with a profusion of
delicacies. A band of music played during the repast, and the evening
concluded with a concert in the saloon.



CHAPTER II

The day of the festival, so long and so impatiently looked for by
Julia, was now arrived. All the neighbouring nobility were invited,
and the gates of the castle were thrown open for a general rejoicing.
A magnificent entertainment, consisting of the most luxurious and
expensive dishes, was served in the halls. Soft music floated along
the vaulted roofs, the walls were hung with decorations, and it seemed
as if the hand of a magician had suddenly metamorphosed this once
gloomy fabric into the palace of a fairy. The marquis, notwithstanding
the gaiety of the scene, frequently appeared abstracted from its
enjoyments, and in spite of all his efforts at cheerfulness, the
melancholy of his heart was visible in his countenance.

In the evening there was a grand ball: the marchioness, who was still
distinguished for her beauty, and for the winning elegance of her
manners, appeared in the most splendid attire. Her hair was ornamented
with a profusion of jewels, but was so disposed as to give an air
rather of voluptuousness than of grace, to her figure. Although
conscious of her charms, she beheld the beauty of Emilia and Julia
with a jealous eye, and was compelled secretly to acknowledge, that
the simple elegance with which they were adorned, was more enchanting
than all the studied artifice of splendid decoration. They were
dressed alike in light Sicilian habits, and the beautiful luxuriance
of their flowing hair was restrained only by bandellets of pearl. The
ball was opened by Ferdinand and the lady Matilda Constanza. Emilia
danced with the young Marquis della Fazelli, and acquitted herself
with the ease and dignity so natural to her. Julia experienced a
various emotion of pleasure and fear when the Count de Vereza, in whom
she recollected the cavalier she had observed from the window, led her
forth. The grace of her step, and the elegant symmetry of her figure,
raised in the assembly a gentle murmur of applause, and the soft blush
which now stole over her cheek, gave an additional charm to her
appearance. But when the music changed, and she danced to the soft
Sicilian measure, the airy grace of her movement, and the unaffected
tenderness of her air, sunk attention into silence, which continued
for some time after the dance had ceased. The marchioness observed the
general admiration with seeming pleasure, and secret uneasiness. She
had suffered a very painful solicitude, when the Count de Vereza
selected her for his partner in the dance, and she pursued him through
the evening with an eye of jealous scrutiny. Her bosom, which before
glowed only with love, was now torn by the agitation of other passions
more violent and destructive. Her thoughts were restless, her mind
wandered from the scene before her, and it required all her address to
preserve an apparent ease. She saw, or fancied she saw, an impassioned
air in the count, when he addressed himself to Julia, that corroded
her heart with jealous fury.

At twelve the gates of the castle were thrown open, and the company
quitted it for the woods, which were splendidly illuminated. Arcades
of light lined the long vistas, which were terminated by pyramids of
lamps that presented to the eye one bright column of flame. At
irregular distances buildings were erected, hung with variegated
lamps, disposed in the gayest and most fantastic forms. Collations
were spread under the trees; and music, touched by unseen hands,
breathed around. The musicians were placed in the most obscure and
embowered spots, so as to elude the eye and strike the imagination.
The scene appeared enchanting. Nothing met the eye but beauty and
romantic splendour; the ear received no sounds but those of mirth and
melody. The younger part of the company formed themselves into
groups, which at intervals glanced through the woods, and were again
unseen. Julia seemed the magic queen of the place. Her heart dilated
with pleasure, and diffused over her features an expression of pure
and complacent delight. A generous, frank, and exalted sentiment
sparkled in her eyes, and animated her manner. Her bosom glowed with
benevolent affections; and she seemed anxious to impart to all around
her, a happiness as unmixed as that she experienced. Wherever she
moved, admiration followed her steps. Ferdinand was as gay as the
scene around him. Emilia was pleased; and the marquis seemed to have
left his melancholy in the castle. The marchioness alone was wretched.
She supped with a select party, in a pavilion on the sea-shore, which
was fitted up with peculiar elegance. It was hung with white silk,
drawn up in festoons, and richly fringed with gold. The sofas were of
the same materials, and alternate wreaths of lamps and of roses
entwined the columns. A row of small lamps placed about the cornice,
formed an edge of light round the roof which, with the other numerous
lights, was reflected in a blaze of splendour from the large mirrors
that adorned the room. The Count Muriani was of the party;--he
complimented the marchioness on the beauty of her daughters; and after
lamenting with gaiety the captives which their charms would enthral,
he mentioned the Count de Vereza. 'He is certainly of all others the
man most deserving the lady Julia. As they danced, I thought they
exhibited a perfect model of the beauty of either sex; and if I
mistake not, they are inspired with a mutual admiration.' The
marchioness, endeavouring to conceal her uneasiness, said, 'Yes, my
lord, I allow the count all the merit you adjudge him, but from the
little I have seen of his disposition, he is too volatile for a
serious attachment.' At that instant the count entered the pavilion:
'Ah,' said Muriani, laughingly, 'you was the subject of our
conversation, and seem to be come in good time to receive the honors
allotted you. I was interceding with the marchioness for her interest
in your favor, with the lady Julia; but she absolutely refuses it; and
though she allows you merit, alleges, that you are by nature fickle
and inconstant. What say you--would not the beauty of lady Julia bind
your unsteady heart?'.

'I know not how I have deserved that character of the marchioness,'
said the count with a smile, 'but that heart must be either fickle or
insensible in an uncommon degree, which can boast of freedom in the
presence of lady Julia.' The marchioness, mortified by the whole
conversation, now felt the full force of Vereza's reply, which she
imagined he pointed with particular emphasis.

The entertainment concluded with a grand firework, which was exhibited
on the margin of the sea, and the company did not part till the dawn
of morning. Julia retired from the scene with regret. She was
enchanted with the new world that was now exhibited to her, and she
was not cool enough to distinguish the vivid glow of imagination from
the colours of real bliss. The pleasure she now felt she believed
would always be renewed, and in an equal degree, by the objects which
first excited it. The weakness of humanity is never willingly
perceived by young minds. It is painful to know, that we are operated
upon by objects whose impressions are variable as they are
indefinable--and that what yesterday affected us strongly, is to-day
but imperfectly felt, and to-morrow perhaps shall be disregarded. When
at length this unwelcome truth is received into the mind, we at first
reject, with disgust, every appearance of good, we disdain to partake
of a happiness which we cannot always command, and we not unfrequently
sink into a temporary despair. Wisdom or accident, at length, recal us
from our error, and offers to us some object capable of producing a
pleasing, yet lasting effect, which effect, therefore, we call
happiness. Happiness has this essential difference from what is
commonly called pleasure, that virtue forms its basis, and virtue
being the offspring of reason, may be expected to produce uniformity of
effect.

The passions which had hitherto lain concealed in Julia's heart,
touched by circumstance, dilated to its power, and afforded her a
slight experience of the pain and delight which flow from their
influence. The beauty and accomplishments of Vereza raised in her a
new and various emotion, which reflection made her fear to encourage,
but which was too pleasing to be wholly resisted. Tremblingly alive to
a sense of delight, and unchilled by disappointment, the young heart
welcomes every feeling, not simply painful, with a romantic
expectation that it will expand into bliss.

Julia sought with eager anxiety to discover the sentiments of Vereza
towards her; she revolved each circumstance of the day, but they
afforded her little satisfaction; they reflected only a glimmering and
uncertain light, which instead of guiding, served only to perplex her.
Now she remembered some instance of particular attention, and then
some mark of apparent indifference. She compared his conduct with that
of the other young noblesse; and thought each appeared equally
desirous of the favor of every lady present. All the ladies, however,
appeared to her to court the admiration of Vereza, and she trembled
lest he should be too sensible of the distinction. She drew from these
reflections no positive inference; and though distrust rendered pain
the predominate sensation, it was so exquisitely interwoven with
delight, that she could not wish it exchanged for her former ease.
Thoughtful and restless, sleep fled from her eyes, and she longed with
impatience for the morning, which should again present Vereza, and
enable her to pursue the enquiry. She rose early, and adorned herself
with unusual care. In her favorite closet she awaited the hour of
breakfast, and endeavoured to read, but her thoughts wandered from the
subject. Her lute and favorite airs lost half their power to please;
the day seemed to stand still--she became melancholy, and thought the
breakfast-hour would never arrive. At length the clock struck the
signal, the sound vibrated on every nerve, and trembling she quitted
the closet for her sister's apartment. Love taught her disguise. Till
then Emilia had shared all her thoughts; they now descended to the
breakfast-room in silence, and Julia almost feared to meet her eye. In
the breakfast-room they were alone. Julia found it impossible to
support a conversation with Emilia, whose observations interrupting
the course of her thoughts, became uninteresting and tiresome. She was
therefore about to retire to her closet, when the marquis entered. His
air was haughty, and his look severe. He coldly saluted his daughters,
and they had scarcely time to reply to his general enquiries, when the
marchioness entered, and the company soon after assembled. Julia, who
had awaited with so painful an impatience for the moment which should
present Vereza to her sight, now sighed that it was arrived. She
scarcely dared to lift her timid eyes from the ground, and when by
accident they met his, a soft tremour seized her; and apprehension
lest he should discover her sentiments, served only to render her
confusion conspicuous. At length, a glance from the marchioness
recalled her bewildered thoughts; and other fears superseding those of
love, her mind, by degrees, recovered its dignity. She could
distinguish in the behaviour of Vereza no symptoms of particular
admiration, and she resolved to conduct herself towards him with the
most scrupulous care.

This day, like the preceding one, was devoted to joy. In the evening
there was a concert, which was chiefly performed by the nobility.
Ferdinand played the violoncello, Vereza the German flute, and Julia
the piana-forte, which she touched with a delicacy and execution that
engaged every auditor. The confusion of Julia may be easily imagined,
when Ferdinand, selecting a beautiful duet, desired Vereza would
accompany his sister. The pride of conscious excellence, however,
quickly overcame her timidity, and enabled her to exert all her
powers. The air was simple and pathetic, and she gave it those charms
of expression so peculiarly her own. She struck the chords of her
piana-forte in beautiful accompaniment, and towards the close of the
second stanza, her voice resting on one note, swelled into a tone so
exquisite, and from thence descended to a few simple notes, which she
touched with such impassioned tenderness that every eye wept to the
sounds. The breath of the flute trembled, and Hippolitus entranced,
forgot to play. A pause of silence ensued at the conclusion of the
piece, and continued till a general sigh seemed to awaken the audience
from their enchantment. Amid the general applause, Hippolitus was
silent. Julia observed his behaviour, and gently raising her eyes to
his, there read the sentiments which she had inspired. An exquisite
emotion thrilled her heart, and she experienced one of those rare
moments which illuminate life with a ray of bliss, by which the
darkness of its general shade is contrasted. Care, doubt, every
disagreeable sensation vanished, and for the remainder of the evening
she was conscious only of delight. A timid respect marked the manner
of Hippolitus, more flattering to Julia than the most ardent
professions. The evening concluded with a ball, and Julia was again
the partner of the count.

When the ball broke up, she retired to her apartment, but not to
sleep. Joy is as restless as anxiety or sorrow. She seemed to have
entered upon a new state of existence;--those fine springs of
affection which had hitherto lain concealed, were now touched, and
yielded to her a happiness more exalted than any her imagination had
ever painted. She reflected on the tranquillity of her past life, and
comparing it with the emotions of the present hour, exulted in the
difference. All her former pleasures now appeared insipid; she
wondered that they ever had power to affect her, and that she had
endured with content the dull uniformity to which she had been
condemned. It was now only that she appeared to live. Absorbed in the
single idea of being beloved, her imagination soared into the regions
of romantic bliss, and bore her high above the possibility of evil.
Since she was beloved by Hippolitus, she could only be happy.

From this state of entranced delight, she was awakened by the sound of
music immediately under her window. It was a lute touched by a
masterly hand. After a wild and melancholy symphony, a voice of more
than magic expression swelled into an air so pathetic and tender, that
it seemed to breathe the very soul of love. The chords of the lute
were struck in low and sweet accompaniment. Julia listened, and
distinguished the following words;

  SONNET

  Still is the night-breeze!--not a lonely sound
    Steals through the silence of this dreary hour;
  O'er these high battlements Sleep reigns profound,
    And sheds on all, his sweet oblivious power.
  On all but me--I vainly ask his dews
    To steep in short forgetfulness my cares.
  Th' affrighted god still flies when Love pursues,
    Still--still denies the wretched lover's prayers.

An interval of silence followed, and the air was repeated; after which
the music was heard no more. If before Julia believed that she was
loved by Hippolitus, she was now confirmed in the sweet reality. But
sleep at length fell upon her senses, and the airy forms of ideal
bliss no longer fleeted before her imagination. Morning came, and she
arose light and refreshed. How different were her present sensations
from those of the preceding day. Her anxiety had now evaporated in
joy, and she experienced that airy dance of spirits which accumulates
delight from every object; and with a power like the touch of
enchantment, can transform a gloomy desert into a smiling Eden. She
flew to the breakfast-room, scarcely conscious of motion; but, as she
entered it, a soft confusion overcame her; she blushed, and almost
feared to meet the eyes of Vereza. She was presently relieved,
however, for the Count was not there. The company assembled--Julia
watched the entrance of every person with painful anxiety, but he for
whom she looked did not appear. Surprised and uneasy, she fixed her
eyes on the door, and whenever it opened, her heart beat with an
expectation which was as often checked by disappointment. In spite of
all her efforts, her vivacity sunk into languor, and she then
perceived that love may produce other sensations than those of
delight. She found it possible to be unhappy, though loved by
Hippolitus; and acknowledged with a sigh of regret, which was yet new
to her, how tremblingly her peace depended upon him. He neither
appeared nor was mentioned at breakfast; but though delicacy prevented
her enquiring after him, conversation soon became irksome to her, and
she retired to the apartment of Madame de Menon. There she employed
herself in painting, and endeavoured to beguile the time till the hour
of dinner, when she hoped to see Hippolitus. Madame was, as usual,
friendly and cheerful, but she perceived a reserve in the conduct of
Julia, and penetrated without difficulty into its cause. She was,
however, ignorant of the object of her pupil's admiration. The hour so
eagerly desired by Julia at length arrived, and with a palpitating
heart she entered the hall. The Count was not there, and in the course
of conversation, she learned that he had that morning sailed for
Naples. The scene which so lately appeared enchanting to her eyes, now
changed its hue; and in the midst of society, and surrounded by
gaiety, she was solitary and dejected. She accused herself of having
suffered her wishes to mislead her judgment; and the present conduct
of Hippolitus convinced her, that she had mistaken admiration for a
sentiment more tender. She believed, too, that the musician who had
addressed her in his sonnet, was not the Count; and thus at once was
dissolved all the ideal fabric of her happiness. How short a period
often reverses the character of our sentiments, rendering that which
yesterday we despised, to-day desirable. The tranquil state which she
had so lately delighted to quit, she now reflected upon with regret.
She had, however, the consolation of believing that her sentiments
towards the Count were unknown, and the sweet consciousness that her
conduct had been governed by a nice sense of propriety.

The public rejoicings at the castle closed with the week; but the gay
spirit of the marchioness forbade a return to tranquillity; and she
substituted diversions more private, but in splendour scarcely
inferior to the preceding ones. She had observed the behaviour of
Hippolitus on the night of the concert with chagrin, and his
departure with sorrow; yet, disdaining to perpetuate misfortune by
reflection, she sought to lose the sense of disappointment in the
hurry of dissipation. But her efforts to erase him from her
remembrance were ineffectual. Unaccustomed to oppose the bent of her
inclinations, they now maintained unbounded sway; and she found too
late, that in order to have a due command of our passions, it is
necessary to subject them to early obedience. Passion, in its undue
influence, produces weakness as well as injustice. The pain which now
recoiled upon her heart from disappointment, she had not strength of
mind to endure, and she sought relief from its pressure in afflicting
the innocent. Julia, whose beauty she imagined had captivated the
count, and confirmed him in indifference towards herself, she
incessantly tormented by the exercise of those various and splenetic
little arts which elude the eye of the common observer, and are only
to be known by those who have felt them. Arts, which individually are
inconsiderable, but in the aggregate amount to a cruel and decisive
effect.

From Julia's mind the idea of happiness was now faded. Pleasure had
withdrawn her beam from the prospect, and the objects no longer
illumined by her ray, became dark and colourless. As often as her
situation would permit, she withdrew from society, and sought the
freedom of solitude, where she could indulge in melancholy thoughts,
and give a loose to that despair which is so apt to follow the
disappointment of our first hopes.

Week after week elapsed, yet no mention was made of returning to
Naples. The marquis at length declared it his intention to spend the
remainder of the summer in the castle. To this determination the
marchioness submitted with decent resignation, for she was here
surrounded by a croud of flatterers, and her invention supplied her
with continual diversions: that gaiety which rendered Naples so dear
to her, glittered in the woods of Mazzini, and resounded through the
castle.

The apartments of Madame de Menon were spacious and noble. The windows
opened upon the sea, and commanded a view of the straits of Messina,
bounded on one side by the beautiful shores of the isle of Sicily, and
on the other by the high mountains of Calabria. The straits, filled
with vessels whose gay streamers glittered to the sun-beam, presented
to the eye an ever-moving scene. The principal room opened upon a
gallery that overhung the grand terrace of the castle, and it
commanded a prospect which for beauty and extent has seldom been
equalled. These were formerly considered the chief apartments of the
castle; and when the Marquis quitted them for Naples, were allotted
for the residence of Madame de Menon, and her young charge. The
marchioness, struck with the prospect which the windows afforded, and
with the pleasantness of the gallery, determined to restore the rooms
to their former splendour. She signified this intention to madame, for
whom other apartments were provided. The chambers of Emilia and Julia
forming part of the suite, they were also claimed by the marchioness,
who left Julia only her favorite closet. The rooms to which they
removed were spacious, but gloomy; they had been for some years
uninhabited; and though preparations had been made for the reception
of their new inhabitants, an air of desolation reigned within them
that inspired melancholy sensations. Julia observed that her chamber,
which opened beyond madame's, formed a part of the southern building,
with which, however, there appeared no means of communication. The
late mysterious circumstances relating to this part of the fabric, now
arose to her imagination, and conjured up a terror which reason could
not subdue. She told her emotions to madame, who, with more prudence
than sincerity, laughed at her fears. The behaviour of the marquis,
the dying words of Vincent, together with the preceding circumstances
of alarm, had sunk deep in the mind of madame, but she saw the
necessity of confining to her own breast doubts which time only could
resolve.

Julia endeavoured to reconcile herself to the change, and a
circumstance soon occurred which obliterated her present sensations,
and excited others far more interesting. One day that she was
arranging some papers in the small drawers of a cabinet that stood in
her apartment, she found a picture which fixed all her attention. It
was a miniature of a lady, whose countenance was touched with sorrow,
and expressed an air of dignified resignation. The mournful sweetness
of her eyes, raised towards Heaven with a look of supplication, and
the melancholy languor that shaded her features, so deeply affected
Julia, that her eyes were filled with involuntary tears. She sighed
and wept, still gazing on the picture, which seemed to engage her by a
kind of fascination. She almost fancied that the portrait breathed,
and that the eyes were fixed on hers with a look of penetrating
softness. Full of the emotions which the miniature had excited, she
presented it to madame, whose mingled sorrow and surprise increased
her curiosity. But what were the various sensations which pressed upon
her heart, on learning that she had wept over the resemblance of her
mother! Deprived of a mother's tenderness before she was sensible of
its value, it was now only that she mourned the event which
lamentation could not recall. Emilia, with an emotion as exquisite,
mingled her tears with those of her sister. With eager impatience they
pressed madame to disclose the cause of that sorrow which so
emphatically marked the features of their mother.

'Alas! my dear children,' said madame, deeply sighing, 'you engage me
in a task too severe, not only for your peace, but for mine; since in
giving you the information you require, I must retrace scenes of my
own life, which I wish for ever obliterated. It would, however, be
both cruel and unjust to withhold an explanation so nearly interesting
to you, and I will sacrifice my own ease to your wishes.

'Louisa de Bernini, your mother, was, as you well know, the only
daughter of the Count de Bernini. Of the misfortunes of your family, I
believe you are yet ignorant. The chief estates of the count were
situated in the _Val di Demona_, a valley deriving its name from its
vicinity to Mount AEtna, which vulgar tradition has peopled with
devils. In one of those dreadful eruptions of AEtna, which deluged
this valley with a flood of fire, a great part of your grandfather's
domains in that quarter were laid waste. The count was at that time
with a part of his family at Messina, but the countess and her son,
who were in the country, were destroyed. The remaining property of the
count was proportionably inconsiderable, and the loss of his wife and
son deeply affected him. He retired with Louisa, his only surviving
child, who was then near fifteen, to a small estate near Cattania.
There was some degree of relationship between your grandfather and
myself; and your mother was attached to me by the ties of sentiment,
which, as we grew up, united us still more strongly than those of
blood. Our pleasures and our tastes were the same; and a similarity of
misfortunes might, perhaps, contribute to cement our early friendship.
I, like herself, had lost a parent in the eruption of AEtna. My mother
had died before I understood her value; but my father, whom I revered
and tenderly loved, was destroyed by one of those terrible events; his
lands were buried beneath the lava, and he left an only son and myself
to mourn his fate, and encounter the evils of poverty. The count, who
was our nearest surviving relation, generously took us home to his
house, and declared that he considered us as his children. To amuse
his leisure hours, he undertook to finish the education of my brother,
who was then about seventeen, and whose rising genius promised to
reward the labours of the count. Louisa and myself often shared the
instruction of her father, and at those hours Orlando was generally of
the party. The tranquil retirement of the count's situation, the
rational employment of his time between his own studies, the education
of those whom he called his children, and the conversation of a few
select friends, anticipated the effect of time, and softened the
asperities of his distress into a tender complacent melancholy. As for
Louisa and myself, who were yet new in life, and whose spirits
possessed the happy elasticity of youth, our minds gradually shifted
from suffering to tranquillity, and from tranquillity to happiness. I
have sometimes thought that when my brother has been reading to her a
delightful passage, the countenance of Louisa discovered a tender
interest, which seemed to be excited rather by the reader than by the
author. These days, which were surely the most enviable of our lives,
now passed in serene enjoyments, and in continual gradations of
improvement.

'The count designed my brother for the army, and the time now drew
nigh when he was to join the Sicilian regiment, in which he had a
commission. The absent thoughts, and dejected spirits of my cousin,
now discovered to me the secret which had long been concealed even
from herself; for it was not till Orlando was about to depart, that
she perceived how dear he was to her peace. On the eve of his
departure, the count lamented, with fatherly yet manly tenderness, the
distance which was soon to separate us. "But we shall meet again,"
said he, "when the honors of war shall have rewarded the bravery of my
son." Louisa grew pale, a half suppressed sigh escaped her, and, to
conceal her emotion, she turned to her harpsichord.

'My brother had a favorite dog, which, before he set off, he presented
to Louisa, and committing it to her care, begged she would be kind to
it, and sometimes remember its master. He checked his rising emotion,
but as he turned from her, I perceived the tear that wetted his cheek.
He departed, and with him the spirit of our happiness seemed to
evaporate. The scenes which his presence had formerly enlivened, were
now forlorn and melancholy, yet we loved to wander in what were once
his favorite haunts. Louisa forbore to mention my brother even to me,
but frequently, when she thought herself unobserved, she would steal
to her harpsichord, and repeat the strain which she had played on the
evening before his departure.

'We had the pleasure to hear from time to time that he was well: and
though his own modesty threw a veil over his conduct, we could collect
from other accounts that he had behaved with great bravery. At length
the time of his return approached, and the enlivened spirits of Louisa
declared the influence he retained in her heart. He returned, bearing
public testimony of his valour in the honors which had been conferred
upon him. He was received with universal joy; the count welcomed him
with the pride and fondness of a father, and the villa became again
the seat of happiness. His person and manners were much improved; the
elegant beauty of the youth was now exchanged for the graceful dignity
of manhood, and some knowledge of the world was added to that of the
sciences. The joy which illumined his countenance when he met Louisa,
spoke at once his admiration and his love; and the blush which her
observation of it brought upon her cheek, would have discovered, even
to an uninterested spectator, that this joy was mutual.

'Orlando brought with him a young Frenchman, a brother officer, who
had rescued him from imminent danger in battle, and whom he introduced
to the count as his preserver. The count received him with gratitude
and distinction, and he was for a considerable time an inmate at the
villa. His manners were singularly pleasing, and his understanding was
cultivated and refined. He soon discovered a partiality for me, and he
was indeed too pleasing to be seen with indifference. Gratitude for
the valuable life he had preserved, was perhaps the groundwork of an
esteem which soon increased into the most affectionate love. Our
attachment grew stronger as our acquaintance increased; and at length
the chevalier de Menon asked me of the count, who consulted my heart,
and finding it favorable to the connection, proceeded to make the
necessary enquiries concerning the family of the stranger. He obtained
a satisfactory and pleasing account of it. The chevalier was the
second son of a French gentleman of large estates in France, who had
been some years deceased. He had left several sons; the family-estate,
of course, devolved to the eldest, but to the two younger he
had bequeathed considerable property. Our marriage was solemnized in a
private manner at the villa, in the presence of the count, Louisa, and
my brother. Soon after the nuptials, my husband and Orlando were
remanded to their regiments. My brother's affections were now
unalterably fixed upon Louisa, but a sentiment of delicacy and
generosity still kept him silent. He thought, poor as he was, to
solicit the hand of Louisa, would be to repay the kindness of the
count with ingratitude. I have seen the inward struggles of his heart,
and mine has bled for him. The count and Louisa so earnestly solicited
me to remain at the villa during the campaign, that at length my
husband consented. We parted--O! let me forget that period!--Had I
accompanied him, all might have been well; and the long, long years of
affliction which followed had been spared me.'

The horn now sounded the signal for dinner, and interrupted the
narrative of Madame. Her beauteous auditors wiped the tears from their
eyes, and with extreme reluctance descended to the hall. The day was
occupied with company and diversions, and it was not till late in the
evening that they were suffered to retire. They hastened to madame
immediately upon their being released; and too much interested for
sleep, and too importunate to be repulsed, solicited the sequel of her
story. She objected the lateness of the hour, but at length yielded to
their entreaties. They drew their chairs close to hers; and every
sense being absorbed in the single one of hearing, followed her
through the course of her narrative.

'My brother again departed without disclosing his sentiments; the
effort it cost him was evident, but his sense of honor surmounted
every opposing consideration. Louisa again drooped, and pined in
silent sorrow. I lamented equally for my friend and my brother; and
have a thousand times accused that delicacy as false, which withheld
them from the happiness they might so easily and so innocently have
obtained. The behaviour of the count, at least to my eye, seemed to
indicate the satisfaction which this union would have given him. It
was about this period that the marquis Mazzini first saw and became
enamoured of Louisa. His proposals were very flattering, but the
count forbore to exert the undue authority of a father; and he ceased
to press the connection, when he perceived that Louisa was really
averse to it. Louisa was sensible of the generosity of his conduct,
and she could scarcely reject the alliance without a sigh, which her
gratitude paid to the kindness of her father.

'But an event now happened which dissolved at once our happiness, and
all our air-drawn schemes for futurity. A dispute, which it seems
originated in a trifle, but soon increased to a serious degree, arose
between the _Chevalier de Menon_ and my brother. It was decided by the
sword, and my dear brother fell by the hand of my husband. I shall
pass over this period of my life. It is too painful for recollection.
The effect of this event upon Louisa was such as may be imagined. The
world was now become indifferent to her, and as she had no prospect of
happiness for herself, she was unwilling to withhold it from the
father who had deserved so much of her. After some time, when the
marquis renewed his addresses, she gave him her hand. The characters
of the marquis and his lady were in their nature too opposite to form
a happy union. Of this Louisa was very soon sensible; and though the
mildness of her disposition made her tamely submit to the unfeeling
authority of her husband, his behaviour sunk deep in her heart, and
she pined in secret. It was impossible for her to avoid opposing the
character of the marquis to that of him upon whom her affections had
been so fondly and so justly fixed. The comparison increased her
sufferings, which soon preyed upon her constitution, and very visibly
affected her health. Her situation deeply afflicted the count, and
united with the infirmities of age to shorten his life.

'Upon his death, I bade adieu to my cousin, and quitted Sicily for
Italy, where the Chevalier de Menon had for some time expected me. Our
meeting was very affecting. My resentment towards him was done away,
when I observed his pale and altered countenance, and perceived the
melancholy which preyed upon his heart. All the airy vivacity of his
former manner was fled, and he was devoured by unavailing grief and
remorse. He deplored with unceasing sorrow the friend he had murdered,
and my presence seemed to open afresh the wounds which time had begun
to close. His affliction, united with my own, was almost more than I
could support, but I was doomed to suffer, and endure yet more. In a
subsequent engagement my husband, weary of existence, rushed into the
heat of battle, and there obtained an honorable death. In a paper
which he left behind him, he said it was his intention to die in that
battle; that he had long wished for death, and waited for an
opportunity of obtaining it without staining his own character by the
cowardice of suicide, or distressing me by an act of butchery. This
event gave the finishing stroke to my afflictions;--yet let me
retract;--another misfortune awaited me when I least expected one. The
_Chevalier de Menon_ died without a will, and his brothers refused to
give up his estate, unless I could produce a witness of my marriage. I
returned to Sicily, and, to my inexpressible sorrow, found that your
mother had died during my stay abroad, a prey, I fear, to grief. The
priest who performed the ceremony of my marriage, having been
threatened with punishment for some ecclesiastical offences, had
secretly left the country; and thus was I deprived of those proofs
which were necessary to authenticate my claims to the estates of my
husband. His brothers, to whom I was an utter stranger, were either
too prejudiced to believe, or believing, were too dishonorable to
acknowledge the justice of my claims. I was therefore at once
abandoned to sorrow and to poverty; a small legacy from the count de
Bernini being all that now remained to me.

'When the marquis married Maria de Vellorno, which was about this
period, he designed to quit Mazzini for Naples. His son was to
accompany him, but it was his intention to leave you, who were both
very young, to the care of some person qualified to superintend your
education. My circumstances rendered the office acceptable, and my
former friendship for your mother made the duty pleasing to me. The
marquis was, I believe, glad to be spared the trouble of searching
further for what he had hitherto found it difficult to obtain--a
person whom inclination as well as duty would bind to his interest.'

Madame ceased to speak, and Emilia and Julia wept to the memory of the
mother, whose misfortunes this story recorded. The sufferings of
madame, together with her former friendship for the late marchioness,
endeared her to her pupils, who from this period endeavoured by every
kind and delicate attention to obliterate the traces of her sorrows.
Madame was sensible of this tenderness, and it was productive in some
degree of the effect desired. But a subject soon after occurred, which
drew off their minds from the consideration of their mother's fate to
a subject more wonderful and equally interesting.

One night that Emilia and Julia had been detained by company, in
ceremonial restraint, later than usual, they were induced, by the easy
conversation of madame, and by the pleasure which a return to liberty
naturally produces, to defer the hour of repose till the night was far
advanced. They were engaged in interesting discourse, when madame,
who was then speaking, was interrupted by a low hollow sound, which
arose from beneath the apartment, and seemed like the closing of a
door. Chilled into a silence, they listened and distinctly heard it
repeated. Deadly ideas crowded upon their imaginations, and inspired a
terror which scarcely allowed them to breathe. The noise lasted only
for a moment, and a profound silence soon ensued. Their feelings at
length relaxed, and suffered them to move to Emilia's apartment, when
again they heard the same sounds. Almost distracted with fear, they
rushed into madame's apartment, where Emilia sunk upon the bed and
fainted. It was a considerable time ere the efforts of madame recalled
her to sensation. When they were again tranquil, she employed all her
endeavours to compose the spirits of the young ladies, and dissuade
them from alarming the castle. Involved in dark and fearful doubts,
she yet commanded her feelings, and endeavoured to assume an
appearance of composure. The late behaviour of the marquis had
convinced her that he was nearly connected with the mystery which hung
over this part of the edifice; and she dreaded to excite his
resentment by a further mention of alarms, which were perhaps only
ideal, and whose reality she had certainly no means of proving.

Influenced by these considerations, she endeavoured to prevail on
Emilia and Julia to await in silence some confirmation of their
surmises; but their terror made this a very difficult task. They
acquiesced, however, so far with her wishes, as to agree to conceal
the preceding circumstances from every person but their brother,
without whose protecting presence they declared it utterly impossible
to pass another night in the apartments. For the remainder of this
night they resolved to watch. To beguile the tediousness of the time
they endeavoured to converse, but the minds of Emilia and Julia were
too much affected by the late occurrence to wander from the subject.
They compared this with the foregoing circumstance of the figure and
the light which had appeared; their imaginations kindled wild
conjectures, and they submitted their opinions to madame, entreating
her to inform them sincerely, whether she believed that disembodied
spirits were ever permitted to visit this earth.

'My children,' said she, 'I will not attempt to persuade you that the
existence of such spirits is impossible. Who shall say that any thing
is impossible to God? We know that he has made us, who are embodied
spirits; he, therefore, can make unembodied spirits. If we cannot
understand how such spirits exist, we should consider the limited
powers of our minds, and that we cannot understand many things which
are indisputably true. No one yet knows why the magnetic needle points
to the north; yet you, who have never seen a magnet, do not hesitate
to believe that it has this tendency, because you have been well
assured of it, both from books and in conversation. Since, therefore,
we are sure that nothing is impossible to God, and that such beings
_may_ exist, though we cannot tell how, we ought to consider by what
evidence their existence is supported. I do not say that spirits
_have_ appeared; but if several discreet unprejudiced persons were to
assure me that they had seen one, I should not be proud or bold enough
to reply--'it is impossible.' Let not, however, such considerations
disturb your minds. I have said thus much, because I was unwilling to
impose upon your understandings; it is now your part to exercise your
reason, and preserve the unmoved confidence of virtue. Such spirits,
if indeed they have ever been seen, can have appeared only by the
express permission of God, and for some very singular purposes; be
assured that there are no beings who act unseen by him; and that,
therefore, there are none from whom innocence can ever suffer harm.'

No further sounds disturbed them for that time; and before the morning
dawned, weariness insensibly overcame apprehension, and sunk them in
repose.

When Ferdinand learned the circumstances relative to the southern side
of the castle, his imagination seized with avidity each appearance of
mystery, and inspired him with an irresistible desire to penetrate the
secrets of his desolate part of the fabric. He very readily consented
to watch with his sisters in Julia's apartment; but as his chamber was
in a remote part of the castle, there would be some difficulty in
passing unobserved to her's. It was agreed, however, that when all was
hushed, he should make the attempt. Having thus resolved, Emilia and
Julia waited the return of night with restless and fearful impatience.

At length the family retired to rest. The castle clock had struck one,
and Julia began to fear that Ferdinand had been discovered, when a
knocking was heard at the door of the outer chamber.

Her heart beat with apprehensions, which reason could not justify.
Madame rose, and enquiring who was there, was answered by the voice of
Ferdinand. The door was cheerfully opened. They drew their chairs
round him, and endeavoured to pass the time in conversation; but fear
and expectation attracted all their thoughts to one subject, and
madame alone preserved her composure. The hour was now come when the
sounds had been heard the preceding night, and every ear was given to
attention. All, however, remained quiet, and the night passed without
any new alarm.

The greater part of several succeeding nights were spent in watching,
but no sounds disturbed their silence. Ferdinand, in whose mind the
late circumstances had excited a degree of astonishment and curiosity
superior to common obstacles, determined, if possible, to gain
admittance to those recesses of the castle, which had for so many
years been hid from human eye. This, however, was a design which he
saw little probability of accomplishing, for the keys of that part of
the edifice were in the possession of the marquis, of whose late
conduct he judged too well to believe he would suffer the apartments
to be explored. He racked his invention for the means of getting
access to them, and at length recollected that Julia's chamber formed
a part of these buildings, it occurred to him, that according to the
mode of building in old times, there might formerly have been a
communication between them. This consideration suggested to him the
possibility of a concealed door in her apartment, and he determined to
survey it on the following night with great care.



CHAPTER III

The castle was buried in sleep when Ferdinand again joined his sisters
in madame's apartment. With anxious curiosity they followed him to the
chamber. The room was hung with tapestry. Ferdinand carefully sounded
the wall which communicated with the southern buildings. From one part
of it a sound was returned, which convinced him there was something
less solid than stone. He removed the tapestry, and behind it
appeared, to his inexpressible satisfaction, a small door. With a hand
trembling through eagerness, he undrew the bolts, and was rushing
forward, when he perceived that a lock withheld his passage. The keys
of madame and his sisters were applied in vain, and he was compelled
to submit to disappointment at the very moment when he congratulated
himself on success, for he had with him no means of forcing the door.

He stood gazing on the door, and inwardly lamenting, when a low hollow
sound was heard from beneath. Emilia and Julia seized his arm; and
almost sinking with apprehension, listened in profound silence. A
footstep was distinctly heard, as if passing through the apartment
below, after which all was still. Ferdinand, fired by this
confirmation of the late report, rushed on to the door, and again
tried to burst his way, but it resisted all the efforts of his
strength. The ladies now rejoiced in that circumstance which they so
lately lamented; for the sounds had renewed their terror, and though
the night passed without further disturbance, their fears were very
little abated.

Ferdinand, whose mind was wholly occupied with wonder, could with
difficulty await the return of night. Emilia and Julia were scarcely
less impatient. They counted the minutes as they passed; and when the
family retired to rest, hastened with palpitating hearts to the
apartment of madame. They were soon after joined by Ferdinand, who
brought with him tools for cutting away the lock of the door. They
paused a few moments in the chamber in fearful silence, but no sound
disturbed the stillness of night. Ferdinand applied a knife to the
door, and in a short time separated the lock. The door yielded, and
disclosed a large and gloomy gallery. He took a light. Emilia and
Julia, fearful of remaining in the chamber, resolved to accompany him,
and each seizing an arm of madame, they followed in silence. The
gallery was in many parts falling to decay, the ceiling was broke, and
the window-shutters shattered, which, together with the dampness of
the walls, gave the place an air of wild desolation.

They passed lightly on, for their steps ran in whispering echoes
through the gallery, and often did Julia cast a fearful glance around.

The gallery terminated in a large old stair-case, which led to a hall
below; on the left appeared several doors which seemed to lead to
separate apartments. While they hesitated which course to pursue, a
light flashed faintly up the stair-case, and in a moment after passed
away; at the same time was heard the sound of a distant footstep.
Ferdinand drew his sword and sprang forward; his companions, screaming
with terror, ran back to madame's apartment.

Ferdinand descended a large vaulted hall; he crossed it towards a low
arched door, which was left half open, and through which streamed a
ray of light. The door opened upon a narrow winding passage; he
entered, and the light retiring, was quickly lost in the windings of
the place. Still he went on. The passage grew narrower, and the
frequent fragments of loose stone made it now difficult to proceed. A
low door closed the avenue, resembling that by which he had entered.
He opened it, and discovered a square room, from whence rose a winding
stair-case, which led up the south tower of the castle. Ferdinand
paused to listen; the sound of steps was ceased, and all was
profoundly silent. A door on the right attracted his notice; he tried
to open it, but it was fastened. He concluded, therefore, that the
person, if indeed a human being it was that bore the light he had
seen, had passed up the tower. After a momentary hesitation, he
determined to ascend the stair-case, but its ruinous condition made
this an adventure of some difficulty. The steps were decayed and
broken, and the looseness of the stones rendered a footing very
insecure. Impelled by an irresistible curiosity, he was undismayed,
and began the ascent. He had not proceeded very far, when the stones
of a step which his foot had just quitted, loosened by his weight,
gave way; and dragging with them those adjoining, formed a chasm in
the stair-case that terrified even Ferdinand, who was left tottering
on the suspended half of the steps, in momentary expectation of
falling to the bottom with the stone on which he rested. In the terror
which this occasioned, he attempted to save himself by catching at a
kind of beam which projected over the stairs, when the lamp dropped
from his hand, and he was left in total darkness. Terror now usurped
the place of every other interest, and he was utterly perplexed how to
proceed. He feared to go on, lest the steps above, as infirm as those
below, should yield to his weight;--to return was impracticable, for
the darkness precluded the possibility of discovering a means. He
determined, therefore, to remain in this situation till light should
dawn through the narrow grates in the walls, and enable him to
contrive some method of letting himself down to the ground.

He had remained here above an hour, when he suddenly heard a voice
from below. It seemed to come from the passage leading to the tower,
and perceptibly drew nearer. His agitation was now extreme, for he
had no power of defending himself, and while he remained in this state
of torturing expectation, a blaze of light burst upon the stair-case
beneath him. In the succeeding moment he heard his own name sounded
from below. His apprehensions instantly vanished, for he distinguished
the voices of madame and his sisters.

They had awaited his return in all the horrors of apprehension, till
at length all fear for themselves was lost in their concern for him;
and they, who so lately had not dared to enter this part of the
edifice, now undauntedly searched it in quest of Ferdinand. What were
their emotions when they discovered his perilous situation!

The light now enabled him to take a more accurate survey of the place.
He perceived that some few stones of the steps which had fallen still
remained attached to the wall, but he feared to trust to their support
only. He observed, however, that the wall itself was partly decayed,
and consequently rugged with the corners of half-worn stones. On these
small projections he contrived, with the assistance of the steps
already mentioned, to suspend himself, and at length gained the
unbroken part of the stairs in safety. It is difficult to determine
which individual of the party rejoiced most at this escape. The
morning now dawned, and Ferdinand desisted for the present from
farther enquiry.

The interest which these mysterious circumstances excited in the mind
of Julia, had withdrawn her attention from a subject more dangerous to
its peace. The image of Vereza, notwithstanding, would frequently
intrude upon her fancy; and, awakening the recollection of happy
emotions, would call forth a sigh which all her efforts could not
suppress. She loved to indulge the melancholy of her heart in the
solitude of the woods. One evening she took her lute to a favorite
spot on the seashore, and resigning herself to a pleasing sadness,
touched some sweet and plaintive airs. The purple flush of evening was
diffused over the heavens. The sun, involved in clouds of splendid and
innumerable hues, was setting o'er the distant waters, whose clear
bosom glowed with rich reflection. The beauty of the scene, the
soothing murmur of the high trees, waved by the light air which
overshadowed her, and the soft shelling of the waves that flowed
gently in upon the shores, insensibly sunk her mind into a state of
repose. She touched the chords of her lute in sweet and wild melody,
and sung the following ode:

  EVENING

  Evening veil'd in dewy shades,
    Slowly sinks upon the main;
  See th'empurpled glory fades,
    Beneath her sober, chasten'd reign.

  Around her car the pensive Hours,
    In sweet illapses meet the sight,
  Crown'd their brows with closing flow'rs
    Rich with chrystal dews of night.

  Her hands, the dusky hues arrange
    O'er the fine tints of parting day;
  Insensibly the colours change,
    And languish into soft decay.

  Wide o'er the waves her shadowy veil she draws.
    As faint they die along the distant shores;
  Through the still air I mark each solemn pause,
    Each rising murmur which the wild wave pours.

  A browner shadow spreads upon the air,
    And o'er the scene a pensive grandeur throws;
  The rocks--the woods a wilder beauty wear,
    And the deep wave in softer music flows;

  And now the distant view where vision fails,
    Twilight and grey obscurity pervade;
  Tint following tint each dark'ning object veils,
    Till all the landscape sinks into the shade.

  Oft from the airy steep of some lone hill,
    While sleeps the scene beneath the purple glow:
  And evening lives o'er all serene and still,
    Wrapt let me view the magic world below!

  And catch the dying gale that swells remote,
    That steals the sweetness from the shepherd's flute:
  The distant torrent's melancholy note
    And the soft warblings of the lover's lute.

  Still through the deep'ning gloom of bow'ry shades
    To Fancy's eye fantastic forms appear;
  Low whisp'ring echoes steal along the glades
    And thrill the ear with wildly-pleasing fear.

  Parent of shades!--of silence!--dewy airs!
    Of solemn musing, and of vision wild!
  To thee my soul her pensive tribute bears,
    And hails thy gradual step, thy influence mild.

Having ceased to sing, her fingers wandered over the lute in
melancholy symphony, and for some moments she remained lost in the
sweet sensations which the music and the scenery had inspired. She was
awakened from her reverie, by a sigh that stole from among the trees,
and directing her eyes whence it came, beheld--Hippolitus! A thousand
sweet and mingled emotions pressed upon her heart, yet she scarcely
dared to trust the evidence of sight. He advanced, and throwing
himself at her feet: 'Suffer me,' said he, in a tremulous voice, 'to
disclose to you the sentiments which you have inspired, and to offer
you the effusions of a heart filled only with love and admiration.'
'Rise, my lord,' said Julia, moving from her seat with an air of
dignity, 'that attitude is neither becoming you to use, or me to
suffer. The evening is closing, and Ferdinand will be impatient to see
you.'

'Never will I rise, madam,' replied the count, with an impassioned
air, 'till'--He was interrupted by the marchioness, who at this moment
entered the grove. On observing the position of the count she was
retiring. 'Stay, madam,' said Julia, almost sinking under her
confusion. 'By no means,' replied the marchioness, in a tone of irony,
'my presence would only interrupt a very agreeable scene. The count, I
see, is willing to pay you his earliest respects.' Saying this she
disappeared, leaving Julia distressed and offended, and the count
provoked at the intrusion. He attempted to renew the subject, but
Julia hastily followed the steps of the marchioness, and entered the
castle.

The scene she had witnessed, raised in the marchioness a tumult of
dreadful emotions. Love, hatred, and jealousy, raged by turns in her
heart, and defied all power of controul. Subjected to their alternate
violence, she experienced a misery more acute than any she had yet
known. Her imagination, invigorated by opposition, heightened to her
the graces of Hippolitus; her bosom glowed with more intense passion,
and her brain was at length exasperated almost to madness.

In Julia this sudden and unexpected interview excited a mingled
emotion of love and vexation, which did not soon subside. At length,
however, the delightful consciousness of Vereza's love bore her high
above every other sensation; again the scene more brightly glowed, and
again her fancy overcame the possibility of evil.

During the evening a tender and timid respect distinguished the
behaviour of the count towards Julia, who, contented with the
certainty of being loved, resolved to conceal her sentiments till an
explanation of his abrupt departure from Mazzini, and subsequent
absence, should have dissipated the shadow of mystery which hung over
this part of his conduct. She observed that the marchioness pursued
her with steady and constant observation, and she carefully avoided
affording the count an opportunity of renewing the subject of the
preceding interview, which, whenever he approached her, seemed to
tremble on his lips.

Night returned, and Ferdinand repaired to the chamber of Julia to
pursue his enquiry. Here he had not long remained, when the strange
and alarming sounds which had been heard on the preceding night were
repeated. The circumstance that now sunk in terror the minds of Emilia
and Julia, fired with new wonder that of Ferdinand, who seizing a
light, darted through the discovered door, and almost instantly
disappeared.

He descended into the same wild hall he had passed on the preceding
night. He had scarcely reached the bottom of the stair-case, when a
feeble light gleamed across the hall, and his eye caught the glimpse
of a figure retiring through the low arched door which led to the
south tower. He drew his sword and rushed on. A faint sound died away
along the passage, the windings of which prevented his seeing the
figure he pursued. Of this, indeed, he had obtained so slight a view,
that he scarcely knew whether it bore the impression of a human form.
The light quickly disappeared, and he heard the door that opened upon
the tower suddenly close. He reached it, and forcing it open, sprang
forward; but the place was dark and solitary, and there was no
appearance of any person having passed along it. He looked up the
tower, and the chasm which the stair-case exhibited, convinced him
that no human being could have passed up. He stood silent and amazed;
examining the place with an eye of strict enquiry, he perceived a
door, which was partly concealed by hanging stairs, and which till now
had escaped his notice. Hope invigorated curiosity, but his
expectation was quickly disappointed, for this door also was fastened.
He tried in vain to force it. He knocked, and a hollow sullen sound
ran in echoes through the place, and died away at a distance. It was
evident that beyond this door were chambers of considerable extent,
but after long and various attempts to reach them, he was obliged to
desist, and he quitted the tower as ignorant and more dissatisfied
than he had entered it. He returned to the hall, which he now for the
first time deliberately surveyed. It was a spacious and desolate
apartment, whose lofty roof rose into arches supported by pillars of
black marble. The same substance inlaid the floor, and formed the
stair-case. The windows were high and gothic. An air of proud
sublimity, united with singular wildness, characterized the place, at
the extremity of which arose several gothic arches, whose dark shade
veiled in obscurity the extent beyond. On the left hand appeared two
doors, each of which was fastened, and on the right the grand entrance
from the courts. Ferdinand determined to explore the dark recess which
terminated his view, and as he traversed the hall, his imagination,
affected by the surrounding scene, often multiplied the echoes of his
footsteps into uncertain sounds of strange and fearful import.

He reached the arches, and discovered beyond a kind of inner hall, of
considerable extent, which was closed at the farther end by a pair of
massy folding-doors, heavily ornamented with carving. They were
fastened by a lock, and defied his utmost strength.

As he surveyed the place in silent wonder, a sullen groan arose from
beneath the spot where he stood. His blood ran cold at the sound, but
silence returning, and continuing unbroken, he attributed his alarm to
the illusion of a fancy, which terror had impregnated. He made another
effort to force the door, when a groan was repeated more hollow, and
more dreadful than the first. At this moment all his courage forsook
him; he quitted the door, and hastened to the stair-case, which he
ascended almost breathless with terror.

He found Madame de Menon and his sisters awaiting his return in the
most painful anxiety; and, thus disappointed in all his endeavours to
penetrate the secret of these buildings, and fatigued with fruitless
search, he resolved to suspend farther enquiry.

When he related the circumstances of his late adventure, the terror of
Emilia and Julia was heightened to a degree that overcame every
prudent consideration. Their apprehension of the marquis's displeasure
was lost in a stronger feeling, and they resolved no longer to remain
in apartments which offered only terrific images to their fancy.
Madame de Menon almost equally alarmed, and more perplexed, by this
combination of strange and unaccountable circumstances, ceased to
oppose their design. It was resolved, therefore, that on the following
day madame should acquaint the marchioness with such particulars of
the late occurrence as their purpose made it necessary she should
know, concealing their knowledge of the hidden door, and the incidents
immediately dependant on it; and that madame should entreat a change
of apartments.

Madame accordingly waited on the marchioness. The marchioness having
listened to the account at first with surprise, and afterwards with
indifference, condescended to reprove madame for encouraging
superstitious belief in the minds of her young charge. She concluded
with ridiculing as fanciful the circumstances related, and with
refusing, on account of the numerous visitants at the castle, the
request preferred to her.

It is true the castle was crowded with visitors; the former apartments
of Madame de Menon were the only ones unoccupied, and these were in
magnificent preparation for the pleasure of the marchioness, who was
unaccustomed to sacrifice her own wishes to the comfort of those
around her. She therefore treated lightly the subject, which,
seriously attended to, would have endangered her new plan of delight.

But Emilia and Julia were too seriously terrified to obey the scruples
of delicacy, or to be easily repulsed. They prevailed on Ferdinand to
represent their situation to the marquis.

Meanwhile Hippolitus, who had passed the night in a state of sleepless
anxiety, watched, with busy impatience, an opportunity of more fully
disclosing to Julia the passion which glowed in his heart. The first
moment in which he beheld her, had awakened in him an admiration which
had since ripened into a sentiment more tender. He had been prevented
formally declaring his passion by the circumstance which so suddenly
called him to Naples. This was the dangerous illness of the Marquis de
Lomelli, his near and much-valued relation. But it was a task too
painful to depart in silence, and he contrived to inform Julia of his
sentiments in the air which she heard so sweetly sung beneath her
window.

When Hippolitus reached Naples, the marquis was yet living, but
expired a few days after his arrival, leaving the count heir to the
small possessions which remained from the extravagance of their
ancestors.

The business of adjusting his rights had till now detained him from
Sicily, whither he came for the sole purpose of declaring his love.
Here unexpected obstacles awaited him. The jealous vigilance of the
marchioness conspired with the delicacy of Julia, to withhold from him
the opportunity he so anxiously sought.

When Ferdinand entered upon the subject of the southern buildings to
the marquis, he carefully avoided mentioning the hidden door. The
marquis listened for some time to the relation in gloomy silence, but
at length assuming an air of displeasure, reprehended Ferdinand for
yielding his confidence to those idle alarms, which he said were the
suggestions of a timid imagination. 'Alarms,' continued he, 'which
will readily find admittance to the weak mind of a woman, but which
the firmer nature of man should disdain.--Degenerate boy! Is it thus
you reward my care? Do I live to see my son the sport of every idle
tale a woman may repeat? Learn to trust reason and your senses, and
you will then be worthy of my attention.'

The marquis was retiring, and Ferdinand now perceived it necessary to
declare, that he had himself witnessed the sounds he mentioned.
'Pardon me, my lord,' said he, 'in the late instance I have been just
to your command--my senses have been the only evidences I have
trusted. I have heard those sounds which I cannot doubt.' The marquis
appeared shocked. Ferdinand perceived the change, and urged the
subject so vigorously, that the marquis, suddenly assuming a look of
grave importance, commanded him to attend him in the evening in his
closet.

Ferdinand in passing from the marquis met Hippolitus. He was pacing
the gallery in much seeming agitation, but observing Ferdinand, he
advanced to him. 'I am ill at heart,' said he, in a melancholy tone,
'assist me with your advice. We will step into this apartment, where
we can converse without interruption.'

'You are not ignorant,' said he, throwing himself into a chair, 'of
the tender sentiments which your sister Julia has inspired. I entreat
you by that sacred friendship which has so long united us, to afford
me an opportunity of pleading my passion. Her heart, which is so
susceptible of other impressions, is, I fear, insensible to love.
Procure me, however, the satisfaction of certainty upon a point where
the tortures of suspence are surely the most intolerable.'

'Your penetration,' replied Ferdinand, 'has for once forsaken you,
else you would now be spared the tortures of which you complain, for
you would have discovered what I have long observed, that Julia
regards you with a partial eye.'

'Do not,' said Hippolitus, 'make disappointment more terrible by
flattery; neither suffer the partiality of friendship to mislead your
judgment. Your perceptions are affected by the warmth of your
feelings, and because you think I deserve her distinction, you believe
I possess it. Alas! you deceive yourself, but not me!'

'The very reverse,' replied Ferdinand; 'tis you who deceive yourself,
or rather it is the delicacy of the passion which animates you, and
which will ever operate against your clear perception of a truth in
which your happiness is so deeply involved. Believe me, I speak not
without reason:--she loves you.'

At these words Hippolitus started from his seat, and clasping his
hands in fervent joy, 'Enchanting sounds!' cried he, in a voice
tenderly impassioned; '_could_ I but believe ye!--could I _but_
believe ye-this world were paradise!'

During this exclamation, the emotions of Julia, who sat in her closet
adjoining, can with difficulty be imagined. A door which opened into
it from the apartment where this conversation was held, was only half
closed. Agitated with the pleasure this declaration excited, she yet
trembled with apprehension lest she should be discovered. She hardly
dared to breathe, much less to move across the closet to the door,
which opened upon the gallery, whence she might probably have escaped
unnoticed, lest the sound of her step should betray her. Compelled,
therefore, to remain where she was, she sat in a state of fearful
distress, which no colour of language can paint.

'Alas!' resumed Hippolitus, 'I too eagerly admit the possibility of
what I wish. If you mean that I should really believe you, confirm
your assertion by some proof.'--'Readily,' rejoined Ferdinand.

The heart of Julia beat quick.

'When you was so suddenly called to Naples upon the illness of the
Marquis Lomelli, I marked her conduct well, and in that read the
sentiments of her heart. On the following morning, I observed in her
countenance a restless anxiety which I had never seen before. She
watched the entrance of every person with an eager expectation, which
was as often succeeded by evident disappointment. At dinner your
departure was mentioned:--she spilt the wine she was carrying to her
lips, and for the remainder of the day was spiritless and melancholy.
I saw her ineffectual struggles to conceal the oppression at her
heart. Since that time she has seized every opportunity of
withdrawing from company. The gaiety with which she was so lately
charmed--charmed her no longer; she became pensive, retired, and I
have often heard her singing in some lonely spot, the most moving and
tender airs. Your return produced a visible and instantaneous
alteration; she has now resumed her gaiety; and the soft confusion of
her countenance, whenever you approach, might alone suffice to
convince you of the truth of my assertion.'

'O! talk for ever thus!' sighed Hippolitus. 'These words are so sweet,
so soothing to my soul, that I could listen till I forgot I had a wish
beyond them. Yes!--Ferdinand, these circumstances are not to be
doubted, and conviction opens upon my mind a flow of extacy I never
knew till now. O! lead me to her, that I may speak the sentiments
which swell my heart.'

They arose, when Julia, who with difficulty had supported herself, now
impelled by an irresistible fear of instant discovery, rose also, and
moved softly towards the gallery. The sound of her step alarmed the
count, who, apprehensive lest his conversation had been overheard, was
anxious to be satisfied whether any person was in the closet. He
rushed in, and discovered Julia! She caught at a chair to support her
trembling frame; and overwhelmed with mortifying sensations, sunk into
it, and hid her face in her robe. Hippolitus threw himself at her
feet, and seizing her hand, pressed it to his lips in expressive
silence. Some moments passed before the confusion of either would
suffer them to speak. At length recovering his voice, 'Can you,
madam,' said he, 'forgive this intrusion, so unintentional? or will it
deprive me of that esteem which I have but lately ventured to believe
I possessed, and which I value more than existence itself. O! speak my
pardon! Let me not believe that a single accident has destroyed my
peace for ever.'--'If your peace, sir, depends upon a knowledge of my
esteem,' said Julia, in a tremulous voice, 'that peace is already
secure. If I wished even to deny the partiality I feel, it would now
be useless; and since I no longer wish this, it would also be
painful.' Hippolitus could only weep his thanks over the hand he still
held. 'Be sensible, however, of the delicacy of my situation,'
continued she, rising, 'and suffer me to withdraw.' Saying this she
quitted the closet, leaving Hippolitus overcome with this sweet
confirmation of his wishes, and Ferdinand not yet recovered from the
painful surprize which the discovery of Julia had excited. He was
deeply sensible of the confusion he had occasioned her, and knew that
apologies would not restore the composure he had so cruelly yet
unwarily disturbed.

Ferdinand awaited the hour appointed by the marquis in impatient
curiosity. The solemn air which the marquis assumed when he commanded
him to attend, had deeply impressed his mind. As the time drew nigh,
expectation increased, and every moment seemed to linger into hours.
At length he repaired to the closet, where he did not remain long
before the marquis entered. The same chilling solemnity marked his
manner. He locked the door of the closet, and seating himself,
addressed Ferdinand as follows:--

'I am now going to repose in you a confidence which will severely
prove the strength of your honour. But before I disclose a secret,
hitherto so carefully concealed, and now reluctantly told, you must
swear to preserve on this subject an eternal silence. If you doubt the
steadiness of your discretion--now declare it, and save yourself from
the infamy, and the fatal consequences, which may attend a breach of
your oath;--if, on the contrary, you believe yourself capable of a
strict integrity--now accept the terms, and receive the secret I
offer.' Ferdinand was awed by this exordium--the impatience of
curiosity was for a while suspended, and he hesitated whether he
should receive the secret upon such terms. At length he signified his
consent, and the marquis arising, drew his sword from the
scabbard.--'Here,' said he, offering it to Ferdinand, 'seal your
vows--swear by this sacred pledge of honor never to repeat what I
shall now reveal.' Ferdinand vowed upon the sword, and raising his
eyes to heaven, solemnly swore. The marquis then resumed his seat, and
proceeded.

'You are now to learn that, about a century ago, this castle was in
the possession of Vincent, third marquis of Mazzini, my grandfather.
At that time there existed an inveterate hatred between our family and
that of della Campo. I shall not now revert to the origin of the
animosity, or relate the particulars of the consequent feuds--suffice
it to observe, that by the power of our family, the della Campos were
unable to preserve their former consequence in Sicily, and they have
therefore quitted it for a foreign land to live in unmolested
security. To return to my subject.--My grandfather, believing his life
endangered by his enemy, planted spies upon him. He employed some of
the numerous banditti who sought protection in his service, and after
some weeks past in waiting for an opportunity, they seized Henry della
Campo, and brought him secretly to this castle. He was for some time
confined in a close chamber of the southern buildings, where he
expired; by what means I shall forbear to mention. The plan had been
so well conducted, and the secrecy so strictly preserved, that every
endeavour of his family to trace the means of his disappearance proved
ineffectual. Their conjectures, if they fell upon our family, were
supported by no proof; and the della Campos are to this day ignorant
of the mode of his death. A rumour had prevailed long before the death
of my father, that the southern buildings of the castle were haunted.
I disbelieved the fact, and treated it accordingly. One night, when
every human being of the castle, except myself, was retired to rest, I
had such strong and dreadful proofs of the general assertion, that
even at this moment I cannot recollect them without horror. Let me, if
possible, forget them. From that moment I forsook those buildings;
they have ever since been shut up, and the circumstance I have
mentioned, is the true reason why I have resided so little at the
castle.'

Ferdinand listened to this narrative in silent horror. He remembered
the temerity with which he had dared to penetrate those
apartments--the light, and figure he had seen--and, above all, his
situation in the stair-case of the tower. Every nerve thrilled at the
recollection; and the terrors of remembrance almost equalled those of
reality.

The marquis permitted his daughters to change their apartments, but he
commanded Ferdinand to tell them, that, in granting their request, he
consulted their ease only, and was himself by no means convinced of
its propriety. They were accordingly reinstated in their former
chambers, and the great room only of madame's apartments was reserved
for the marchioness, who expressed her discontent to the marquis in
terms of mingled censure and lamentation. The marquis privately
reproved his daughters, for what he termed the idle fancies of a weak
mind; and desired them no more to disturb the peace of the castle with
the subject of their late fears. They received this reproof with
silent submission--too much pleased with the success of their suit to
be susceptible of any emotion but joy.

Ferdinand, reflecting on the late discovery, was shocked to learn,
what was now forced upon his belief, that he was the descendant of a
murderer. He now knew that innocent blood had been shed in the castle,
and that the walls were still the haunt of an unquiet spirit, which
seemed to call aloud for retribution on the posterity of him who had
disturbed its eternal rest. Hippolitus perceived his dejection, and
entreated that he might participate his uneasiness; but Ferdinand, who
had hitherto been frank and ingenuous, was now inflexibly reserved.
'Forbear,' said he, 'to urge a discovery of what I am not permitted to
reveal; this is the only point upon which I conjure you to be silent,
and this even to you, I cannot explain.' Hippolitus was surprized, but
pressed the subject no farther.

Julia, though she had been extremely mortified by the circumstances
attendant on the discovery of her sentiments to Hippolitus,
experienced, after the first shock had subsided, an emotion more
pleasing than painful. The late conversation had painted in strong
colours the attachment of her lover. His diffidence--his slowness to
perceive the effect of his merit--his succeeding rapture, when
conviction was at length forced upon his mind; and his conduct upon
discovering Julia, proved to her at once the delicacy and the strength
of his passion, and she yielded her heart to sensations of pure and
unmixed delight. She was roused from this state of visionary
happiness, by a summons from the marquis to attend him in the library.
A circumstance so unusual surprized her, and she obeyed with trembling
curiosity. She found him pacing the room in deep thought, and she had
shut the door before he perceived her. The authoritative severity in
his countenance alarmed her, and prepared her for a subject of
importance. He seated himself by her, and continued a moment silent.
At length, steadily observing her, 'I sent for you, my child,' said
he, 'to declare the honor which awaits you. The Duke de Luovo has
solicited your hand. An alliance so splendid was beyond my
expectation. You will receive the distinction with the gratitude it
claims, and prepare for the celebration of the nuptials.'

This speech fell like the dart of death upon the heart of Julia. She
sat motionless--stupified and deprived of the power of utterance. The
marquis observed her consternation; and mistaking its cause, 'I
acknowledge,' said he, 'that there is somewhat abrupt in this affair;
but the joy occasioned by a distinction so unmerited on your part,
ought to overcome the little feminine weakness you might otherwise
indulge. Retire and compose yourself; and observe,' continued he, in a
stern voice, 'this is no time for finesse.' These words roused Julia
from her state of horrid stupefaction. 'O! sir,' said she, throwing
herself at his feet, 'forbear to enforce authority upon a point where
to obey you would be worse than death; if, indeed, to obey you were
possible.'--'Cease,' said the marquis, 'this affectation, and practice
what becomes you.'--'Pardon me, my lord,' she replied, 'my distress
is, alas! unfeigned. I cannot love the duke.'--'Away!' interrupted the
marquis, 'nor tempt my rage with objections thus childish and
absurd.'--'Yet hear me, my lord,' said Julia, tears swelling in her
eyes, 'and pity the sufferings of a child, who never till this moment
has dared to dispute your commands.'

'Nor shall she now,' said the marquis. 'What--when wealth, honor, and
distinction, are laid at my feet, shall they be refused, because a
foolish girl--a very baby, who knows not good from evil, cries, and
says she cannot love! Let me not think of it--My just anger may,
perhaps, out-run discretion, and tempt me to chastise your
folly.--Attend to what I say--accept the duke, or quit this castle for
ever, and wander where you will.' Saying this, he burst away, and
Julia, who had hung weeping upon his knees, fell prostrate upon the
floor. The violence of the fall completed the effect of her distress,
and she fainted. In this state she remained a considerable time. When
she recovered her senses, the recollection of her calamity burst upon
her mind with a force that almost again overwhelmed her. She at length
raised herself from the ground, and moved towards her own apartment,
but had scarcely reached the great gallery, when Hippolitus entered
it. Her trembling limbs would no longer support her; she caught at a
bannister to save herself; and Hippolitus, with all his speed, was
scarcely in time to prevent her falling. The pale distress exhibited
in her countenance terrified him, and he anxiously enquired concerning
it. She could answer him only with her tears, which she found it
impossible to suppress; and gently disengaging herself, tottered to
her closet. Hippolitus followed her to the door, but desisted from
further importunity. He pressed her hand to his lips in tender
silence, and withdrew, surprized and alarmed.

Julia, resigning herself to despair, indulged in solitude the excess
of her grief. A calamity, so dreadful as the present, had never before
presented itself to her imagination. The union proposed would have
been hateful to her, even if she had no prior attachment; what then
must have been her distress, when she had given her heart to him who
deserved all her admiration, and returned all her affection.

The Duke de Luovo was of a character very similar to that of the
marquis. The love of power was his ruling passion;--with him no gentle
or generous sentiment meliorated the harshness of authority, or
directed it to acts of beneficence. He delighted in simple undisguised
tyranny. He had been twice married, and the unfortunate women
subjected to his power, had fallen victims to the slow but corroding
hand of sorrow. He had one son, who some years before had escaped the
tyranny of his father, and had not been since heard of. At the late
festival the duke had seen Julia; and her beauty made so strong an
impression upon him, that he had been induced now to solicit her hand.
The marquis, delighted with the prospect of a connection so flattering
to his favorite passion, readily granted his consent, and immediately
sealed it with a promise.

Julia remained for the rest of the day shut up in her closet, where
the tender efforts of Madame and Emilia were exerted to soften her
distress. Towards the close of evening Ferdinand entered. Hippolitus,
shocked at her absence, had requested him to visit her, to alleviate
her affliction, and, if possible, to discover its cause. Ferdinand,
who tenderly loved his sister, was alarmed by the words of Hippolitus,
and immediately sought her. Her eyes were swelled with weeping, and
her countenance was but too expressive of the state of her mind.
Ferdinand's distress, when told of his father's conduct, was scarcely
less than her own. He had pleased himself with the hope of uniting the
sister of his heart with the friend whom he loved. An act of cruel
authority now dissolved the fairy dream of happiness which his fancy
had formed, and destroyed the peace of those most dear to him. He sat
for a long time silent and dejected; at length, starting from his
melancholy reverie, he bad Julia good-night, and returned to
Hippolitus, who was waiting for him with anxious impatience in the
north hall.

Ferdinand dreaded the effect of that despair, which the intelligence
he had to communicate would produce in the mind of Hippolitus. He
revolved some means of softening the dreadful truth; but Hippolitus,
quick to apprehend the evil which love taught him to fear, seized at
once upon the reality. 'Tell me all,' said he, in a tone of assumed
firmness. 'I am prepared for the worst.' Ferdinand related the decree
of the marquis, and Hippolitus soon sunk into an excess of grief which
defied, as much as it required, the powers of alleviation.

Julia, at length, retired to her chamber, but the sorrow which
occupied her mind withheld the blessings of sleep. Distracted and
restless she arose, and gently opened the window of her apartment. The
night was still, and not a breath disturbed the surface of the waters.
The moon shed a mild radiance over the waves, which in gentle
undulations flowed upon the sands. The scene insensibly tranquilized
her spirits. A tender and pleasing melancholy diffused itself over her
mind; and as she mused, she heard the dashing of distant oars.
Presently she perceived upon the light surface of the sea a small
boat. The sound of the oars ceased, and a solemn strain of harmony
(such as fancy wafts from the abodes of the blessed) stole upon the
silence of night. A chorus of voices now swelled upon the air, and
died away at a distance. In the strain Julia recollected the midnight
hymn to the virgin, and holy enthusiasm filled her heart. The chorus
was repeated, accompanied by a solemn striking of oars. A sigh of
exstacy stole from her bosom. Silence returned. The divine melody she
had heard calmed the tumult of her mind, and she sunk in sweet repose.

She arose in the morning refreshed by light slumbers; but the
recollection of her sorrows soon returned with new force, and
sickening faintness overcame her. In this situation she received a
message from the marquis to attend him instantly. She obeyed, and he
bade her prepare to receive the duke, who that morning purposed to
visit the castle. He commanded her to attire herself richly, and to
welcome him with smiles. Julia submitted in silence. She saw the
marquis was inflexibly resolved, and she withdrew to indulge the
anguish of her heart, and prepare for this detested interview.

The clock had struck twelve, when a flourish of trumpets announced the
approach of the duke. The heart of Julia sunk at the sound, and she
threw herself on a sopha, overwhelmed with bitter sensations. Here she
was soon disturbed by a message from the marquis. She arose, and
tenderly embracing Emilia, their tears for some moments flowed
together. At length, summoning all her fortitude, she descended to the
hall, where she was met by the marquis. He led her to the saloon in
which the duke sat, with whom having conversed a short time, he
withdrew. The emotion of Julia at this instant was beyond any thing
she had before suffered; but by a sudden and strange exertion of
fortitude, which the force of desperate calamity sometimes affords us,
but which inferior sorrow toils after in vain, she recovered her
composure, and resumed her natural dignity. For a moment she wondered
at herself, and she formed the dangerous resolution of throwing
herself upon the generosity of the duke, by acknowledging her
reluctance to the engagement, and soliciting him to withdraw his suit.

The duke approached her with an air of proud condescension; and taking
her hand, placed himself beside her. Having paid some formal and
general compliments to her beauty, he proceeded to profess himself her
admirer. She listened for some time to his professions, and when he
appeared willing to hear her, she addressed him--'I am justly
sensible, my lord, of the distinction you offer me, and must lament
that respectful gratitude is the only sentiment I can return. Nothing
can more strongly prove my confidence in your generosity, than when I
confess to you, that parental authority urges me to give my hand
whither my heart cannot accompany it.'

She paused--the duke continued silent.--''Tis you only, my lord, who
can release me from a situation so distressing; and to your goodness
and justice I appeal, certain that necessity will excuse the
singularity of my conduct, and that I shall not appeal in vain.'

The duke was embarrassed--a flush of pride overspread his countenance,
and he seemed endeavouring to stifle the feelings that swelled his
heart. 'I had been prepared, madam,' said he, 'to expect a very
different reception, and had certainly no reason to believe that the
Duke de Luovo was likely to sue in vain. Since, however, madam, you
acknowledge that you have already disposed of your affections, I shall
certainly be very willing, if the marquis will release me from our
mutual engagements, to resign you to a more favored lover.'

'Pardon me, my lord,' said Julia, blushing, 'suffer me to'--'I am not
easily deceived, madam,' interrupted the duke,--'your conduct can be
attributed only to the influence of a prior attachment; and though for
so young a lady, such a circumstance is somewhat extraordinary, I have
certainly no right to arraign your choice. Permit me to wish you a
good morning.' He bowed low, and quitted the room. Julia now
experienced a new distress; she dreaded the resentment of the marquis,
when he should be informed of her conversation with the duke, of whose
character she now judged too justly not to repent the confidence she
had reposed in him.

The duke, on quitting Julia, went to the marquis, with whom he
remained in conversation some hours. When he had left the castle, the
marquis sent for his daughter, and poured forth his resentment with
all the violence of threats, and all the acrimony of contempt. So
severely did he ridicule the idea of her disposing of her heart, and
so dreadfully did he denounce vengeance on her disobedience, that she
scarcely thought herself safe in his presence. She stood trembling
and confused, and heard his reproaches without the power to reply. At
length the marquis informed her, that the nuptials would be solemnized
on the third day from the present; and as he quitted the room, a flood
of tears came to her relief, and saved her from fainting.

Julia passed the remainder of the day in her closet with Emilia. Night
returned, but brought her no peace. She sat long after the departure
of Emilia; and to beguile recollection, she selected a favorite
author, endeavouring to revive those sensations his page had once
excited. She opened to a passage, the tender sorrow of which was
applicable to her own situation, and her tears flowed wean. Her grief
was soon suspended by apprehension. Hitherto a deadly silence had
reigned through the castle, interrupted only by the wind, whose low
sound crept at intervals through the galleries. She now thought she
heard a footstep near her door, but presently all was still, for she
believed she had been deceived by the wind. The succeeding moment,
however, convinced her of her error, for she distinguished the low
whisperings of some persons in the gallery. Her spirits, already
weakened by sorrow, deserted her: she was seized with an universal
terror, and presently afterwards a low voice called her from without,
and the door was opened by Ferdinand.

She shrieked, and fainted. On recovering, she found herself supported
by Ferdinand and Hippolitus, who had stolen this moment of silence and
security to gain admittance to her presence. Hippolitus came to urge a
proposal which despair only could have suggested. 'Fly,' said he,
'from the authority of a father who abuses his power, and assert the
liberty of choice, which nature assigned you. Let the desperate
situation of my hopes plead excuse for the apparent boldness of this
address, and let the man who exists but for you be the means of saving
you from destruction. Alas! madam, you are silent, and perhaps I have
forfeited, by this proposal, the confidence I so lately flattered
myself I possessed. If so, I will submit to my fate in silence, and
will to-morrow quit a scene which presents only images of distress to
my mind.'

Julia could speak but with her tears. A variety of strong and
contending emotions struggled at her breast, and suppressed the power
of utterance. Ferdinand seconded the proposal of the count. 'It is
unnecessary,' my sister, said he, 'to point out the misery which
awaits you here. I love you too well tamely to suffer you to be
sacrificed to ambition, and to a passion still more hateful. I now
glory in calling Hippolitus my friend--let me ere long receive him as
a brother. I can give no stronger testimony of my esteem for his
character, than in the wish I now express. Believe me he has a heart
worthy of your acceptance--a heart noble and expansive as your
own.'--'Ah, cease,' said Julia, 'to dwell upon a character of whose
worth I am fully sensible. Your kindness and his merit can never be
forgotten by her whose misfortunes you have so generously suffered to
interest you.' She paused in silent hesitation. A sense of delicacy
made her hesitate upon the decision which her heart so warmly
prompted. If she fled with Hippolitus, she would avoid one evil, and
encounter another. She would escape the dreadful destiny awaiting her,
but must, perhaps, sully the purity of that reputation, which was
dearer to her than existence. In a mind like hers, exquisitely
susceptible of the pride of honor, this fear was able to counteract
every other consideration, and to keep her intentions in a state of
painful suspense. She sighed deeply, and continued silent. Hippolitus
was alarmed by the calm distress which her countenance exhibited. 'O!
Julia,' said he, 'relieve me from this dreadful suspense!--speak to
me--explain this silence.' She looked mournfully upon him--her lips
moved, but no sounds were uttered. As he repeated his question, she
waved her hand, and sunk back in her chair. She had not fainted, but
continued some time in a state of stupor not less alarming. The
importance of the present question, operating upon her mind, already
harassed by distress, had produced a temporary suspension of reason.
Hippolitus hung over her in an agony not to be described, and
Ferdinand vainly repeated her name. At length uttering a deep sigh,
she raised herself, and, like one awakened from a dream, gazed around
her. Hippolitus thanked God fervently in his heart. 'Tell me but that
you are well,' said he, 'and that I may dare to hope, and we will
leave you to repose.'--'My sister,' said Ferdinand, 'consult only your
own wishes, and leave the rest to me. Suffer a confidence in me to
dissipate the doubts with which you are agitated.'--'Ferdinand,' said
Julia, emphatically, 'how shall I express the gratitude your kindness
has excited?'--'Your gratitude,' said he, 'will be best shown in
consulting your own wishes; for be assured, that whatever procures
your happiness, will most effectually establish mine. Do not suffer
the prejudices of education to render you miserable. Believe me, that
a choice which involves the happiness or misery of your whole life,
ought to be decided only by yourself.'

'Let us forbear for the present,' said Hippolitus, 'to urge the
subject. Repose is necessary for you,' addressing Julia, 'and I will
not suffer a selfish consideration any longer to with-hold you from
it.--Grant me but this request--that at this hour to-morrow night, I
may return hither to receive my doom.' Julia having consented to
receive Hippolitus and Ferdinand, they quitted the closet. In turning
into the grand gallery, they were surprised by the appearance of a
light, which gleamed upon the wall that terminated their view. It
seemed to proceed from a door which opened upon a back stair-case.
They pushed on, but it almost instantly disappeared, and upon the
stair-case all was still. They then separated, and retired to their
apartments, somewhat alarmed by this circumstance, which induced them
to suspect that their visit to Julia had been observed.

Julia passed the night in broken slumbers, and anxious consideration.
On her present decision hung the crisis of her fate. Her consciousness
of the influence of Hippolitus over her heart, made her fear to
indulge its predilection, by trusting to her own opinion of its
fidelity. She shrunk from the disgraceful idea of an elopement; yet
she saw no means of avoiding this, but by rushing upon the fate so
dreadful to her imagination.

On the following night, when the inhabitants of the castle were
retired to rest, Hippolitus, whose expectation had lengthened the
hours into ages, accompanied by Ferdinand, revisited the closet.
Julia, who had known no interval of rest since they last left her,
received them with much agitation. The vivid glow of health had fled
her cheek, and was succeeded by a languid delicacy, less beautiful,
but more interesting. To the eager enquiries of Hippolitus, she
returned no answer, but faintly smiling through her tears, presented
him her hand, and covered her face with her robe. 'I receive it,'
cried he, 'as the pledge of my happiness;--yet--yet let your voice
ratify the gift.' 'If the present concession does not sink me in your
esteem,' said Julia, in a low tone, 'this hand is yours.'--'The
concession, my love, (for by that tender name I may now call you)
would, if possible, raise you in my esteem; but since that has been
long incapable of addition, it can only heighten my opinion of myself,
and increase my gratitude to you: gratitude which I will endeavour to
shew by an anxious care of your happiness, and by the tender
attentions of a whole life. From this blessed moment,' continued he,
in a voice of rapture, 'permit me, in thought, to hail you as my wife.
From this moment let me banish every vestige of sorrow;--let me dry
those tears,' gently pressing her cheek with his lips, 'never to
spring again.'--The gratitude and joy which Ferdinand expressed upon
this occasion, united with the tenderness of Hippolitus to soothe the
agitated spirits of Julia, and she gradually recovered her
complacency.

They now arranged their plan of escape; in the execution of which, no
time was to be lost, since the nuptials with the duke were to be
solemnized on the day after the morrow. Their scheme, whatever it was
that should be adopted, they, therefore, resolved to execute on the
following night. But when they descended from the first warmth of
enterprize, to minuter examination, they soon found the difficulties
of the undertaking. The keys of the castle were kept by Robert, the
confidential servant of the marquis, who every night deposited them in
an iron chest in his chamber. To obtain them by stratagem seemed
impossible, and Ferdinand feared to tamper with the honesty of this
man, who had been many years in the service of the marquis. Dangerous
as was the attempt, no other alternative appeared, and they were
therefore compelled to rest all their hopes upon the experiment. It
was settled, that if the keys could be procured, Ferdinand and
Hippolitus should meet Julia in the closet; that they should convey
her to the seashore, from whence a boat, which was to be kept in
waiting, would carry them to the opposite coast of Calabria, where the
marriage might be solemnized without danger of interruption. But, as
it was necessary that Ferdinand should not appear in the affair, it
was agreed that he should return to the castle immediately upon the
embarkation of his sister. Having thus arranged their plan of
operation, they separated till the following night, which was to
decide the fate of Hippolitus and Julia.

Julia, whose mind was soothed by the fraternal kindness of Ferdinand,
and the tender assurances of Hippolitus, now experienced an interval
of repose. At the return of day she awoke refreshed, and tolerably
composed. She selected a few clothes which were necessary, and
prepared them for her journey. A sentiment of generosity justified her
in the reserve she preserved to Emilia and Madame de Menon, whose
faithfulness and attachment she could not doubt, but whom she
disdained to involve in the disgrace that must fall upon them, should
their knowledge of her flight be discovered.

In the mean time the castle was a scene of confusion. The magnificent
preparations which were making for the nuptials, engaged all eyes, and
busied all hands. The marchioness had the direction of the whole; and
the alacrity with which she acquitted herself, testified how much she
was pleased with the alliance, and created a suspicion, that it had
not been concerted without some exertion of her influence. Thus was
Julia designed the joint victim of ambition and illicit love.

The composure of Julia declined with the day, whose hours had crept
heavily along. As the night drew on, her anxiety for the success of
Ferdinand's negociation with Robert increased to a painful degree. A
variety of new emotions pressed at her heart, and subdued her spirits.
When she bade Emilia good night, she thought she beheld her for the
last time. The ideas of the distance which would separate them, of the
dangers she was going to encounter, with a train of wild and fearful
anticipations, crouded upon her mind, tears sprang in her eyes, and it
was with difficulty she avoided betraying her emotions. Of madame,
too, her heart took a tender farewell. At length she heard the marquis
retire to his apartment, and the doors belonging to the several
chambers of the guests successively close. She marked with trembling
attention the gradual change from bustle to quiet, till all was still.

She now held herself in readiness to depart at the moment in which
Ferdinand and Hippolitus, for whose steps in the gallery she eagerly
listened, should appear. The castle clock struck twelve. The sound
seemed to shake the pile. Julia felt it thrill upon her heart. 'I hear
you,' sighed she, 'for the last time.' The stillness of death
succeeded. She continued to listen; but no sound met her ear. For a
considerable time she sat in a state of anxious expectation not to be
described. The clock chimed the successive quarters; and her fear rose
to each additional sound. At length she heard it strike one. Hollow
was that sound, and dreadful to her hopes; for neither Hippolitus nor
Ferdinand appeared. She grew faint with fear and disappointment. Her
mind, which for two hours had been kept upon the stretch of
expectation, now resigned itself to despair. She gently opened the
door of her closet, and looked upon the gallery; but all was lonely
and silent. It appeared that Robert had refused to be accessary to
their scheme; and it was probable that he had betrayed it to the
marquis. Overwhelmed with bitter reflections, she threw herself upon
the sopha in the first distraction of despair. Suddenly she thought
she heard a noise in the gallery; and as she started from her posture
to listen to the sound, the door of her closet was gently opened by
Ferdinand. 'Come, my love,' said he, 'the keys are ours, and we have
not a moment to lose; our delay has been unavoidable; but this is no
time for explanation.' Julia, almost fainting, gave her hand to
Ferdinand, and Hippolitus, after some short expression of his
thankfulness, followed. They passed the door of madame's chamber; and
treading the gallery with slow and silent steps, descended to the
hall. This they crossed towards a door, after opening which, they
were to find their way, through various passages, to a remote part of
the castle, where a private door opened upon the walls. Ferdinand
carried the several keys. They fastened the hall door after them, and
proceeded through a narrow passage terminating in a stair-case.

They descended, and had hardly reached the bottom, when they heard a
loud noise at the door above, and presently the voices of several
people. Julia scarcely felt the ground she trod on, and Ferdinand flew
to unlock a door that obstructed their way. He applied the different
keys, and at length found the proper one; but the lock was rusted, and
refused to yield. Their distress was not now to be conceived. The
noise above increased; and it seemed as if the people were forcing the
door. Hippolitus and Ferdinand vainly tried to turn the key. A sudden
crash from above convinced them that the door had yielded, when making
another desperate effort, the key broke in the lock. Trembling and
exhausted, Julia gave herself up for lost. As she hung upon Ferdinand,
Hippolitus vainly endeavoured to sooth her--the noise suddenly ceased.
They listened, dreading to hear the sounds renewed; but, to their
utter astonishment, the silence of the place remained undisturbed.
They had now time to breathe, and to consider the possibility of
effecting their escape; for from the marquis they had no mercy to
hope. Hippolitus, in order to ascertain whether the people had quitted
the door above, began to ascend the passage, in which he had not gone
many steps when the noise was renewed with increased violence. He
instantly retreated; and making a desperate push at the door below,
which obstructed their passage, it seemed to yield, and by another
effort of Ferdinand, burst open. They had not an instant to lose; for
they now heard the steps of persons descending the stairs. The avenue
they were in opened into a kind of chamber, whence three passages
branched, of which they immediately chose the first. Another door now
obstructed their passage; and they were compelled to wait while
Ferdinand applied the keys. 'Be quick,' said Julia, 'or we are lost.
O! if this lock too is rusted!'--'Hark!' said Ferdinand. They now
discovered what apprehension had before prevented them from
perceiving, that the sounds of pursuit were ceased, and all again was
silent. As this could happen only by the mistake of their pursuers, in
taking the wrong _route_, they resolved to preserve their advantage,
by concealing the light, which Ferdinand now covered with his cloak.
The door was opened, and they passed on; but they were perplexed in
the intricacies of the place, and wandered about in vain endeavour to
find their way. Often did they pause to listen, and often did fancy
give them sounds of fearful import. At length they entered on the
passage which Ferdinand knew led directly to a door that opened on the
woods. Rejoiced at this certainty, they soon reached the spot which
was to give them liberty.

Ferdinand turned the key; the door unclosed, and, to their infinite
joy, discovered to them the grey dawn. 'Now, my love,' said
Hippolitus, 'you are safe, and I am happy.'--Immediately a loud voice
from without exclaimed, 'Take, villain, the reward of your perfidy!'
At the same instant Hippolitus received a sword in his body, and
uttering a deep sigh, fell to the ground. Julia shrieked and fainted;
Ferdinand drawing his sword, advanced towards the assassin, upon whose
countenance the light of his lamp then shone, and discovered to him
his father! The sword fell from his grasp, and he started back in an
agony of horror. He was instantly surrounded, and seized by the
servants of the marquis, while the marquis himself denounced vengeance
upon his head, and ordered him to be thrown into the dungeon of the
castle. At this instant the servants of the count, who were awaiting
his arrival on the seashore, hearing the tumult, hastened to the
scene, and there beheld their beloved master lifeless and weltering in
his blood. They conveyed the bleeding body, with loud lamentations,
on board the vessel which had been prepared for him, and immediately
set sail for Italy.

Julia, on recovering her senses, found herself in a small room, of
which she had no remembrance, with her maid weeping over her.
Recollection, when it returned, brought to her mind an energy of
grief, which exceeded even all former conceptions of sufferings. Yet
her misery was heightened by the intelligence which she now received.
She learned that Hippolitus had been borne away lifeless by his
people, that Ferdinand was confined in a dungeon by order of the
marquis, and that herself was a prisoner in a remote room, from which,
on the day after the morrow, she was to be removed to the chapel of
the castle, and there sacrificed to the ambition of her father, and
the absurd love of the Duke de Luovo.

This accumulation of evil subdued each power of resistance, and
reduced Julia to a state little short of distraction. No person was
allowed to approach her but her maid, and the servant who brought her
food. Emilia, who, though shocked by Julia's apparent want of
confidence, severely sympathized in her distress, solicited to see
her; but the pain of denial was so sharply aggravated by rebuke, that
she dared not again to urge the request.

In the mean time Ferdinand, involved in the gloom of a dungeon, was
resigned to the painful recollection of the past, and a horrid
anticipation of the future. From the resentment of the marquis, whose
passions were wild and terrible, and whose rank gave him an unlimited
power of life and death in his own territories, Ferdinand had much to
fear. Yet selfish apprehension soon yielded to a more noble sorrow.
He mourned the fate of Hippolitus, and the sufferings of Julia. He
could attribute the failure of their scheme only to the treachery of
Robert, who had, however, met the wishes of Ferdinand with strong
apparent sincerity, and generous interest in the cause of Julia. On
the night of the intended elopement, he had consigned the keys to
Ferdinand, who, immediately on receiving them, went to the apartment
of Hippolitus. There they were detained till after the clock had
struck one by a low noise, which returned at intervals, and convinced
them that some part of the family was not yet retired to rest. This
noise was undoubtedly occasioned by the people whom the marquis had
employed to watch, and whose vigilance was too faithful to suffer the
fugitives to escape. The very caution of Ferdinand defeated its
purpose; for it is probable, that had he attempted to quit the castle
by the common entrance, he might have escaped. The keys of the grand
door, and those of the courts, remaining in the possession of Robert,
the marquis was certain of the intended place of their departure; and
was thus enabled to defeat their hopes at the very moment when they
exulted in their success.

When the marchioness learned the fate of Hippolitus, the resentment of
jealous passion yielded to emotions of pity. Revenge was satisfied,
and she could now lament the sufferings of a youth whose personal
charms had touched her heart as much as his virtues had disappointed
her hopes. Still true to passion, and inaccessible to reason, she
poured upon the defenceless Julia her anger for that calamity of which
she herself was the unwilling cause. By a dextrous adaptation of her
powers, she had worked upon the passions of the marquis so as to
render him relentless in the pursuit of ambitious purposes, and
insatiable in revenging his disappointment. But the effects of her
artifices exceeded her intention in exerting them; and when she meant
only to sacrifice a rival to her love, she found she had given up its
object to revenge.



CHAPTER IV

The nuptial morn, so justly dreaded by Julia, and so impatiently
awaited by the marquis, now arrived. The marriage was to be celebrated
with a magnificence which demonstrated the joy it occasioned to the
marquis. The castle was fitted up in a style of grandeur superior to
any thing that had been before seen in it. The neighbouring nobility
were invited to an entertainment which was to conclude with a splendid
ball and supper, and the gates were to be thrown open to all who chose
to partake of the bounty of the marquis. At an early hour the duke,
attended by a numerous retinue, entered the castle. Ferdinand heard
from his dungeon, where the rigour and the policy of the marquis still
confined him, the loud clattering of hoofs in the courtyard above, the
rolling of the carriage wheels, and all the tumultuous bustle which
the entrance of the duke occasioned. He too well understood the cause
of this uproar, and it awakened in him sensations resembling those
which the condemned criminal feels, when his ears are assailed by the
dreadful sounds that precede his execution. When he was able to think
of himself, he wondered by what means the marquis would reconcile his
absence to the guests. He, however, knew too well the dissipated
character of the Sicilian nobility, to doubt that whatever story
should be invented would be very readily believed by them; who, even
if they knew the truth, would not suffer a discovery of their
knowledge to interrupt the festivity which was offered them.

The marquis and marchioness received the duke in the outer hall, and
conducted him to the saloon, where he partook of the refreshments
prepared for him, and from thence retired to the chapel. The marquis
now withdrew to lead Julia to the altar, and Emilia was ordered to
attend at the door of the chapel, in which the priest and a numerous
company were already assembled. The marchioness, a prey to the
turbulence of succeeding passions, exulted in the near completion of
her favorite scheme.--A disappointment, however, was prepared for her,
which would at once crush the triumph of her malice and her pride. The
marquis, on entering the prison of Julia, found it empty! His
astonishment and indignation upon the discovery almost overpowered his
reason. Of the servants of the castle, who were immediately summoned,
he enquired concerning her escape, with a mixture of fury and sorrow
which left them no opportunity to reply. They had, however, no
information to give, but that her woman had not appeared during the
whole morning. In the prison were found the bridal habiliments which
the marchioness herself had sent on the preceding night, together with
a letter addressed to Emilia, which contained the following words:

'Adieu, dear Emilia; never more will you see your wretched sister, who
flies from the cruel fate now prepared for her, certain that she can
never meet one more dreadful.--In happiness or misery--in hope or
despair--whatever may be your situation--still remember me with pity
and affection. Dear Emilia, adieu!--You will always be the sister of
my heart--may you never be the partner of my misfortunes!'

While the marquis was reading this letter, the marchioness, who
supposed the delay occasioned by some opposition from Julia, flew to
the apartment. By her orders all the habitable parts of the castle
were explored, and she herself assisted in the search. At length the
intelligence was communicated to the chapel, and the confusion became
universal. The priest quitted the altar, and the company returned to
the saloon.

The letter, when it was given to Emilia, excited emotions which she
found it impossible to disguise, but which did not, however, protect
her from a suspicion that she was concerned in the transaction, her
knowledge of which this letter appeared intended to conceal.

The marquis immediately dispatched servants upon the fleetest horses
of his stables, with directions to take different routs, and to scour
every corner of the island in pursuit of the fugitives. When these
exertions had somewhat quieted his mind, he began to consider by what
means Julia could have effected her escape. She had been confined in a
small room in a remote part of the castle, to which no person had been
admitted but her own woman and Robert, the confidential servant of the
marquis. Even Lisette had not been suffered to enter, unless
accompanied by Robert, in whose room, since the night of the fatal
discovery, the keys had been regularly deposited. Without them it was
impossible she could have escaped: the windows of the apartment being
barred and grated, and opening into an inner court, at a prodigious
height from the ground. Besides, who could she depend upon for
protection--or whither could she intend to fly for concealment?--The
associates of her former elopement were utterly unable to assist her
even with advice. Ferdinand himself a prisoner, had been deprived of
any means of intercourse with her, and Hippolitus had been carried
lifeless on board a vessel, which had immediately sailed for Italy.

Robert, to whom the keys had been entrusted, was severely interrogated
by the marquis. He persisted in a simple and uniform declaration of
his innocence; but as the marquis believed it impossible that Julia
could have escaped without his knowledge, he was ordered into
imprisonment till he should confess the fact.

The pride of the duke was severely wounded by this elopement, which
proved the excess of Julia's aversion, and compleated the disgraceful
circumstances of his rejection. The marquis had carefully concealed
from him her prior attempt at elopement, and her consequent
confinement; but the truth now burst from disguise, and stood revealed
with bitter aggravation. The duke, fired with indignation at the
duplicity of the marquis, poured forth his resentment in terms of
proud and bitter invective; and the marquis, galled by recent
disappointment, was in no mood to restrain the impetuosity of his
nature. He retorted with acrimony; and the consequence would have been
serious, had not the friends of each party interposed for their
preservation. The disputants were at length reconciled; it was agreed
to pursue Julia with united, and indefatigable search; and that
whenever she should be found, the nuptials should be solemnized
without further delay. With the character of the duke, this conduct
was consistent. His passions, inflamed by disappointment, and
strengthened by repulse, now defied the power of obstacle; and those
considerations which would have operated with a more delicate mind to
overcome its original inclination, served only to encrease the
violence of his.

Madame de Menon, who loved Julia with maternal affection, was an
interested observer of all that passed at the castle. The cruel fate
to which the marquis destined his daughter she had severely lamented,
yet she could hardly rejoice to find that this had been avoided by
elopement. She trembled for the future safety of her pupil; and her
tranquillity, which was thus first disturbed for the welfare of
others, she was not soon suffered to recover.

The marchioness had long nourished a secret dislike to Madame de
Menon, whose virtues were a silent reproof to her vices. The
contrariety of their disposition created in the marchioness an
aversion which would have amounted to contempt, had not that dignity
of virtue which strongly characterized the manners of madame,
compelled the former to fear what she wished to despise. Her
conscience whispered her that the dislike was mutual; and she now
rejoiced in the opportunity which seemed to offer itself of lowering
the proud integrity of madame's character. Pretending, therefore, to
believe that she had encouraged Ferdinand to disobey his father's
commands, and had been accessary to the elopement, she accused her of
these offences, and stimulated the marquis to reprehend her conduct.
But the integrity of Madame de Menon was not to be questioned with
impunity. Without deigning to answer the imputation, she desired to
resign an office of which she was no longer considered worthy, and to
quit the castle immediately. This the policy of the marquis would not
suffer; and he was compelled to make such ample concessions to madame,
as induced her for the present to continue at the castle.

The news of Julia's elopement at length reached the ears of Ferdinand,
whose joy at this event was equalled only by his surprize. He lost,
for a moment, the sense of his own situation, and thought only of the
escape of Julia. But his sorrow soon returned with accumulated force
when he recollected that Julia might then perhaps want that assistance
which his confinement alone could prevent his affording her.

The servants, who had been sent in pursuit, returned to the castle
without any satisfactory information. Week after week elapsed in
fruitless search, yet the duke was strenuous in continuing the
pursuit. Emissaries were dispatched to Naples, and to the several
estates of the Count Vereza, but they returned without any
satisfactory information. The count had not been heard of since he
quitted Naples for Sicily.

During these enquiries a new subject of disturbance broke out in the
castle of Mazzini. On the night so fatal to the hopes of Hippolitus
and Julia, when the tumult was subsided, and all was still, a light
was observed by a servant as he passed by the window of the great
stair-case in the way to his chamber, to glimmer through the casement
before noticed in the southern buildings. While he stood observing it,
it vanished, and presently reappeared. The former mysterious
circumstances relative to these buildings rushed upon his mind; and
fired with wonder, he roused some of his fellow servants to come and
behold this phenomenon.

As they gazed in silent terror, the light disappeared, and soon after,
they saw a small door belonging to the south tower open, and a figure
bearing a light issue forth, which gliding along the castle walls, was
quickly lost to their view. Overcome with fear they hurried back to
their chambers, and revolved all the late wonderful occurrences. They
doubted not, that this was the figure formerly seen by the lady Julia.
The sudden change of Madame de Menon's apartments had not passed
unobserved by the servants, but they now no longer hesitated to what
to attribute the removal. They collected each various and uncommon
circumstance attendant on this part of the fabric; and, comparing them
with the present, their superstitious fears were confirmed, and their
terror heightened to such a degree, that many of them resolved to quit
the service of the marquis.

The marquis surprized at this sudden desertion, enquired into its
cause, and learned the truth. Shocked by this discovery, he yet
resolved to prevent, if possible, the ill effects which might be
expected from a circulation of the report. To this end it was
necessary to quiet the minds of his people, and to prevent their
quitting his service. Having severely reprehended them for the idle
apprehension they encouraged, he told them that, to prove the fallacy
of their surmises, he would lead them over that part of the castle
which was the subject of their fears, and ordered them to attend him
at the return of night in the north hall. Emilia and Madame de Menon,
surprised at this procedure, awaited the issue in silent expectation.

The servants, in obedience to the commands of the marquis, assembled
at night in the north hall. The air of desolation which reigned
through the south buildings, and the circumstance of their having been
for so many years shut up, would naturally tend to inspire awe; but to
these people, who firmly believed them to be the haunt of an unquiet
spirit, terror was the predominant sentiment.

The marquis now appeared with the keys of these buildings in his
hands, and every heart thrilled with wild expectation. He ordered
Robert to precede him with a torch, and the rest of the servants
following, he passed on. A pair of iron gates were unlocked, and they
proceeded through a court, whose pavement was wildly overgrown with
long grass, to the great door of the south fabric. Here they met with
some difficulty, for the lock, which had not been turned for many
years, was rusted.

During this interval, the silence of expectation sealed the lips of
all present. At length the lock yielded. That door which had not been
passed for so many years, creaked heavily upon its hinges, and
disclosed the hall of black marble which Ferdinand had formerly
crossed. 'Now,' cried the marquis, in a tone of irony as he entered,
'expect to encounter the ghosts of which you tell me; but if you fail
to conquer them, prepare to quit my service. The people who live with
me shall at least have courage and ability sufficient to defend me
from these spiritual attacks. All I apprehend is, that the enemy will
not appear, and in this case your valour will go untried.'

No one dared to answer, but all followed, in silent fear, the marquis,
who ascended the great stair-case, and entered the gallery. 'Unlock
that door,' said he, pointing to one on the left, 'and we will soon
unhouse these ghosts.' Robert applied the key, but his hand shook so
violently that he could not turn it. 'Here is a fellow,' cried the
marquis, 'fit to encounter a whole legion of spirits. Do you, Anthony,
take the key, and try your valour.'

'Please you, my lord,' replied Anthony, 'I never was a good one at
unlocking a door in my life, but here is Gregory will do it.'--'No, my
lord, an' please you,' said Gregory, 'here is Richard.'--'Stand off,'
said the marquis, 'I will shame your cowardice, and do it myself.'

Saying this he turned the key, and was rushing on, but the door
refused to yield; it shook under his hands, and seemed as if partially
held by some person on the other side. The marquis was surprized, and
made several efforts to move it, without effect. He then ordered his
servants to burst it open, but, shrinking back with one accord, they
cried, 'For God's sake, my lord, go no farther; we are satisfied here
are no ghosts, only let us get back.'

'It is now then my turn to be satisfied,' replied the marquis, 'and
till I am, not one of you shall stir. Open me that door.'--'My
lord!'--'Nay,' said the marquis, assuming a look of stern
authority--'dispute not my commands. I am not to be trifled with.'

They now stepped forward, and applied their strength to the door, when
a loud and sudden noise burst from within, and resounded through the
hollow chambers! The men started back in affright, and were rushing
headlong down the stair-case, when the voice of the marquis arrested
their flight. They returned, with hearts palpitating with terror.
'Observe what I say,' said the marquis, 'and behave like men. Yonder
door,' pointing to one at some distance, 'will lead us through other
rooms to this chamber--unlock it therefore, for I will know the cause
of these sounds.' Shocked at this determination, the servants again
supplicated the marquis to go no farther; and to be obeyed, he was
obliged to exert all his authority. The door was opened, and
discovered a long narrow passage, into which they descended by a few
steps. It led to a gallery that terminated in a back stair-case, where
several doors appeared, one of which the marquis unclosed. A spacious
chamber appeared beyond, whose walls, decayed and discoloured by the
damps, exhibited a melancholy proof of desertion.

They passed on through a long suite of lofty and noble apartments,
which were in the same ruinous condition. At length they came to the
chamber whence the noise had issued. 'Go first, Robert, with the
light,' said the marquis, as they approached the door; 'this is the
key.' Robert trembled--but obeyed, and the other servants followed in
silence. They stopped a moment at the door to listen, but all was
still within. The door was opened, and disclosed a large vaulted
chamber, nearly resembling those they had passed, and on looking
round, they discovered at once the cause of the alarm.--A part of the
decayed roof was fallen in, and the stones and rubbish of the ruin
falling against the gallery door, obstructed the passage. It was
evident, too, whence the noise which occasioned their terror had
arisen; the loose stones which were piled against the door being shook
by the effort made to open it, had given way, and rolled to the floor.

After surveying the place, they returned to the back stairs, which
they descended, and having pursued the several windings of a long
passage, found themselves again in the marble hall. 'Now,' said the
marquis, 'what think ye? What evil spirits infest these walls?
Henceforth be cautious how ye credit the phantasms of idleness, for ye
may not always meet with a master who will condescend to undeceive
ye.'--They acknowledged the goodness of the marquis, and professing
themselves perfectly conscious of the error of their former
suspicions, desired they might search no farther. 'I chuse to leave
nothing to your imagination,' replied the marquis, 'lest hereafter it
should betray you into a similar error. Follow me, therefore; you
shall see the whole of these buildings.' Saying this, he led them to
the south tower. They remembered, that from a door of this tower the
figure which caused their alarm had issued; and notwithstanding the
late assertion of their suspicions being removed, fear still operated
powerfully upon their minds, and they would willingly have been
excused from farther research. 'Would any of you chuse to explore this
tower?' said the marquis, pointing to the broken stair-case; 'for
myself, I am mortal, and therefore fear to venture; but you, who hold
communion with disembodied spirits, may partake something of their
nature; if so, you may pass without apprehension where the ghost has
probably passed before.' They shrunk at this reproof, and were silent.

The marquis turning to a door on his right hand, ordered it to be
unlocked. It opened upon the country, and the servants knew it to be
the same whence the figure had appeared. Having relocked it, 'Lift
that trapdoor; we will desend into the vaults,' said the marquis.
'What trapdoor, my Lord?' said Robert, with encreased agitation; 'I
see none.' The marquis pointed, and Robert, perceived a door, which
lay almost concealed beneath the stones that had fallen from the
stair-case above. He began to remove them, when the marquis suddenly
turning--'I have already sufficiently indulged your folly,' said he,
'and am weary of this business. If you are capable of receiving
conviction from truth, you must now be convinced that these buildings
are not the haunt of a supernatural being; and if you are incapable,
it would be entirely useless to proceed. You, Robert, may therefore
spare yourself the trouble of removing the rubbish; we will quit this
part of the fabric.'

The servants joyfully obeyed, and the marquis locking the several
doors, returned with the keys to the habitable part of the castle.

Every enquiry after Julia had hitherto proved fruitless; and the
imperious nature of the marquis, heightened by the present vexation,
became intolerably oppressive to all around him. As the hope of
recovering Julia declined, his opinion that Emilia had assisted her to
escape strengthened, and he inflicted upon her the severity of his
unjust suspicions. She was ordered to confine herself to her apartment
till her innocence should be cleared, or her sister discovered. From
Madame de Menon she received a faithful sympathy, which was the sole
relief of her oppressed heart. Her anxiety concerning Julia daily
encreased, and was heightened into the most terrifying apprehensions
for her safety. She knew of no person in whom her sister could
confide, or of any place where she could find protection; the most
deplorable evils were therefore to be expected.

One day, as she was sitting at the window of her apartment, engaged in
melancholy reflection, she saw a man riding towards the castle on full
speed. Her heart beat with fear and expectation; for his haste made
her suspect he brought intelligence of Julia; and she could scarcely
refrain from breaking through the command of the marquis, and rushing
into the hall to learn something of his errand. She was right in her
conjecture; the person she had seen was a spy of the marquis's, and
came to inform him that the lady Julia was at that time concealed in a
cottage of the forest of Marentino. The marquis, rejoiced at this
intelligence, gave the man a liberal reward. He learned also, that she
was accompanied by a young cavalier; which circumstance surprized him
exceedingly; for he knew of no person except the Count de Vereza with
whom she could have entrusted herself, and the count had fallen by his
sword! He immediately ordered a party of his people to accompany the
messenger to the forest of Marentino, and to suffer neither Julia nor
the cavalier to escape them, on pain of death.

When the Duke de Luovo was informed of this discovery, he entreated
and obtained permission of the marquis to join in the pursuit. He
immediately set out on the expedition, armed, and followed by a number
of his servants. He resolved to encounter all hazards, and to practice
the most desperate extremes, rather than fail in the object of his
enterprize. In a short time he overtook the marquis's people, and they
proceeded together with all possible speed. The forest lay several
leagues distant from the castle of Mazzini, and the day was closing
when they entered upon the borders. The thick foliage of the trees
spread a deeper shade around; and they were obliged to proceed with
caution. Darkness had long fallen upon the earth when they reached
the cottage, to which they were directed by a light that glimmered
from afar among the trees. The duke left his people at some distance;
and dismounted, and accompanied only by one servant, approached the
cottage. When he reached it he stopped, and looking through the
window, observed a man and woman in the habit of peasants seated at
their supper. They were conversing with earnestness, and the duke,
hoping to obtain farther intelligence of Julia, endeavoured to listen
to their discourse. They were praising the beauty of a lady, whom the
duke did not doubt to be Julia, and the woman spoke much in praise of
the cavalier. 'He has a noble heart,' said she; 'and I am sure, by
his look, belongs to some great family.'--'Nay,' replied her
companion, 'the lady is as good as he. I have been at Palermo, and
ought to know what great folks are, and if she is not one of them,
never take my word again. Poor thing, how she does take on! It made my
heart ache to see her.'

They were some time silent. The duke knocked at the door, and enquired
of the man who opened it concerning the lady and cavalier then in his
cottage. He was assured there were no other persons in the cottage
than those he then saw. The duke persisted in affirming that the
persons he enquired for were there concealed; which the man being as
resolute in denying, he gave the signal, and his people approached,
and surrounded the cottage. The peasants, terrified by this
circumstance, confessed that a lady and cavalier, such as the duke
described, had been for some time concealed in the cottage; but that
they were now departed.

Suspicious of the truth of the latter assertion, the duke ordered his
people to search the cottage, and that part of the forest contiguous
to it. The search ended in disappointment. The duke, however,
resolved to obtain all possible information concerning the fugitives;
and assuming, therefore, a stern air, bade the peasant, on pain of
instant death, discover all he knew of them.

The man replied, that on a very dark and stormy night, about a week
before, two persons had come to the cottage, and desired shelter. That
they were unattended; but seemed to be persons of consequence in
disguise. That they paid very liberally for what they had; and that
they departed from the cottage a few hours before the arrival of the
duke.

The duke enquired concerning the course they had taken, and having
received information, remounted his horse, and set forward in pursuit.
The road lay for several leagues through the forest, and the darkness,
and the probability of encountering banditti, made the journey
dangerous. About the break of day they quitted the forest, and entered
upon a wild and mountainous country, in which they travelled some
miles without perceiving a hut, or a human being. No vestige of
cultivation appeared, and no sounds reached them but those of their
horses feet, and the roaring of the winds through the deep forests
that overhung the mountains. The pursuit was uncertain, but the duke
resolved to persevere.

They came at length to a cottage, where he repeated his enquiries, and
learned to his satisfaction that two persons, such as he described,
had stopped there for refreshment about two hours before. He found it
now necessary to stop for the same purpose. Bread and milk, the only
provisions of the place, were set before him, and his attendants would
have been well contented, had there been sufficient of this homely
fare to have satisfied their hunger.

Having dispatched an hasty meal, they again set forward in the way
pointed out to them as the route of the fugitives. The country
assumed a more civilized aspect. Corn, vineyards, olives, and groves
of mulberry-trees adorned the hills. The vallies, luxuriant in shade,
were frequently embellished by the windings of a lucid stream, and
diversified by clusters of half-seen cottages. Here the rising turrets
of a monastery appeared above the thick trees with which they were
surrounded; and there the savage wilds the travellers had passed,
formed a bold and picturesque background to the scene.

To the questions put by the duke to the several persons he met, he
received answers that encouraged him to proceed. At noon he halted at
a village to refresh himself and his people. He could gain no
intelligence of Julia, and was perplexed which way to chuse; but
determined at length to pursue the road he was then in, and
accordingly again set forward. He travelled several miles without
meeting any person who could give the necessary information, and began
to despair of success. The lengthened shadows of the mountains, and
the fading light gave signals of declining day; when having gained the
summit of a high hill, he observed two persons travelling on horseback
in the plains below. On one of them he distinguished the habiliments
of a woman; and in her air he thought he discovered that of Julia.
While he stood attentively surveying them, they looked towards the
hill, when, as if urged by a sudden impulse of terror, they set off on
full speed over the plains. The duke had no doubt that these were the
persons he sought; and he, therefore, ordered some of his people to
pursue them, and pushed his horse into a full gallop. Before he
reached the plains, the fugitives, winding round an abrupt hill, were
lost to his view. The duke continued his course, and his people, who
were a considerable way before him, at length reached the hill, behind
which the two persons had disappeared. No traces of them were to be
seen, and they entered a narrow defile between two ranges of high and
savage mountains; on the right of which a rapid stream rolled along,
and broke with its deep resounding murmurs the solemn silence of the
place. The shades of evening now fell thick, and the scene was soon
enveloped in darkness; but to the duke, who was animated by a strong
and impetuous passion, these were unimportant circumstances. Although
he knew that the wilds of Sicily were frequently infested with
banditti, his numbers made him fearless of attack. Not so his
attendants, many of whom, as the darkness increased, testified
emotions not very honourable to their courage: starting at every bush,
and believing it concealed a murderer. They endeavoured to dissuade
the duke from proceeding, expressing uncertainty of their being in the
right route, and recommending the open plains. But the duke, whose eye
had been vigilant to mark the flight of the fugitives, and who was not
to be dissuaded from his purpose, quickly repressed their arguments.
They continued their course without meeting a single person.

The moon now rose, and afforded them a shadowy imperfect view of the
surrounding objects. The prospect was gloomy and vast, and not a human
habitation met their eyes. They had now lost every trace of the
fugitives, and found themselves bewildered in a wild and savage
country. Their only remaining care was to extricate themselves from so
forlorn a situation, and they listened at every step with anxious
attention for some sound that might discover to them the haunts of
men. They listened in vain; the stillness of night was undisturbed but
by the wind, which broke at intervals in low and hollow murmurs from
among the mountains.

As they proceeded with silent caution, they perceived a light break
from among the rocks at some distance. The duke hesitated whether to
approach, since it might probably proceed from a party of the banditti
with which these mountains were said to be infested. While he
hesitated, it disappeared; but he had not advanced many steps when it
returned. He now perceived it to issue from the mouth of a cavern, and
cast a bright reflection upon the overhanging rocks and shrubs.

He dismounted, and followed by two of his people, leaving the rest at
some distance, moved with slow and silent steps towards the cave. As
he drew near, he heard the sound of many voices in high carousal.
Suddenly the uproar ceased, and the following words were sung by a
clear and manly voice:

  SONG

  Pour the rich libation high;
    The sparkling cup to Bacchus fill;
  His joys shall dance in ev'ry eye,
    And chace the forms of future ill!

  Quick the magic raptures steal
    O'er the fancy-kindling brain.
  Warm the heart with social zeal,
    And song and laughter reign.

  Then visions of pleasure shall float on our sight,
    While light bounding our spirits shall flow;
  And the god shall impart a fine sense of delight
    Which in vain _sober_ mortals would know.

The last verse was repeated in loud chorus. The duke listened with
astonishment! Such social merriment amid a scene of such savage
wildness, appeared more like enchantment than reality. He would not
have hesitated to pronounce this a party of banditti, had not the
delicacy of expression preserved in the song appeared unattainable by
men of their class.

He had now a full view of the cave; and the moment which convinced him
of his error served only to encrease his surprize. He beheld, by the
light of a fire, a party of banditti seated within the deepest recess
of the cave round a rude kind of table formed in the rock. The table
was spread with provisions, and they were regaling themselves with
great eagerness and joy. The countenances of the men exhibited a
strange mixture of fierceness and sociality; and the duke could almost
have imagined he beheld in these robbers a band of the early Romans
before knowledge had civilized, or luxury had softened them. But he
had not much time for meditation; a sense of his danger bade him fly
while to fly was yet in his power. As he turned to depart, he observed
two saddle-horses grazing upon the herbage near the mouth of the cave.
It instantly occurred to him that they belonged to Julia and her
companion. He hesitated, and at length determined to linger awhile,
and listen to the conversation of the robbers, hoping from thence to
have his doubts resolved. They talked for some time in a strain of
high conviviality, and recounted in exultation many of their exploits.
They described also the behaviour of several people whom they had
robbed, with highly ludicrous allusions, and with much rude humour,
while the cave re-echoed with loud bursts of laughter and applause.
They were thus engaged in tumultuous merriment, till one of them
cursing the scanty plunder of their late adventure, but praising the
beauty of a lady, they all lowered their voices together, and seemed
as if debating upon a point uncommonly interesting to them. The
passions of the duke were roused, and he became certain that it was
Julia of whom they had spoken. In the first impulse of feeling he drew
his sword; but recollecting the number of his adversaries, restrained
his fury. He was turning from the cave with a design of summoning his
people, when the light of the fire glittering upon the bright blade of
his weapon, caught the eye of one of the banditti. He started from
his seat, and his comrades instantly rising in consternation,
discovered the duke. They rushed with loud vociferation towards the
mouth of the cave. He endeavoured to escape to his people; but two of
the banditti mounting the horses which were grazing near, quickly
overtook and seized him. His dress and air proclaimed him to be a
person of distinction; and, rejoicing in their prospect of plunder,
they forced him towards the cave. Here their comrades awaited them;
but what were the emotions of the duke, when he discovered in the
person of the principal robber his own son! who, to escape the galling
severity of his father, had fled from his castle some years before,
and had not been heard of since.

He had placed himself at the head of a party of banditti, and, pleased
with the liberty which till then he had never tasted, and with the
power which his new situation afforded him, he became so much attached
to this wild and lawless mode of life, that he determined never to
quit it till death should dissolve those ties which now made his rank
only oppressive. This event seemed at so great a distance, that he
seldom allowed himself to think of it. Whenever it should happen, he
had no doubt that he might either resume his rank without danger of
discovery, or might justify his present conduct as a frolic which a
few acts of generosity would easily excuse. He knew his power would
then place him beyond the reach of censure, in a country where the
people are accustomed to implicit subordination, and seldom dare to
scrutinize the actions of the nobility.

His sensations, however, on discovering his father, were not very
pleasing; but proclaiming the duke, he protected him from farther
outrage.

With the duke, whose heart was a stranger to the softer affections,
indignation usurped the place of parental feeling. His pride was the
only passion affected by the discovery; and he had the rashness to
express the indignation, which the conduct of his son had excited, in
terms of unrestrained invective. The banditti, inflamed by the
opprobium with which he loaded their order, threatened instant
punishment to his temerity; and the authority of Riccardo could hardly
restrain them within the limits of forbearance.

The menaces, and at length entreaties of the duke, to prevail with his
son to abandon his present way of life, were equally ineffectual.
Secure in his own power, Riccardo laughed at the first, and was
insensible to the latter; and his father was compelled to relinquish
the attempt. The duke, however, boldly and passionately accused him of
having plundered and secreted a lady and cavalier, his friends, at the
same time describing Julia, for whose liberation he offered large
rewards. Riccardo denied the fact, which so much exasperated the duke,
that he drew his sword with an intention of plunging it in the breast
of his son. His arm was arrested by the surrounding banditti, who
half unsheathed their swords, and stood suspended in an attitude of
menace. The fate of the father now hung upon the voice of the son.
Riccardo raised his arm, but instantly dropped it, and turned away.
The banditti sheathed their weapons, and stepped back.

Riccardo solemnly swearing that he knew nothing of the persons
described, the duke at length became convinced of the truth of the
assertion, and departing from the cave, rejoined his people. All the
impetuous passions of his nature were roused and inflamed by the
discovery of his son in a situation so wretchedly disgraceful. Yet it
was his pride rather than his virtue that was hurt; and when he wished
him dead, it was rather to save himself from disgrace, than his son
from the real indignity of vice. He had no means of reclaiming him; to
have attempted it by force, would have been at this time the excess of
temerity, for his attendants, though numerous, were undisciplined, and
would have fallen certain victims to the power of a savage and
dexterous banditti.

With thoughts agitated in fierce and agonizing conflict, he pursued
his journey; and having lost all trace of Julia, sought only for an
habitation which might shelter him from the night, and afford
necessary refreshment for himself and his people. With this, however,
there appeared little hope of meeting.



CHAPTER V

The night grew stormy. The hollow winds swept over the mountains, and
blew bleak and cold around; the clouds were driven swiftly over the
face of the moon, and the duke and his people were frequently involved
in total darkness. They had travelled on silently and dejectedly for
some hours, and were bewildered in the wilds, when they suddenly heard
the bell of a monastery chiming for midnight-prayer. Their hearts
revived at the sound, which they endeavoured to follow, but they had
not gone far, when the gale wafted it away, and they were abandoned to
the uncertain guide of their own conjectures.

They had pursued for some time the way which they judged led to the
monastery, when the note of the bell returned upon the wind, and
discovered to them that they had mistaken their route. After much
wandering and difficulty they arrived, overcome with weariness, at the
gates of a large and gloomy fabric. The bell had ceased, and all was
still. By the moonlight, which through broken clouds now streamed upon
the building, they became convinced it was the monastery they had
sought, and the duke himself struck loudly upon the gate.

Several minutes elapsed, no person appeared, and he repeated the
stroke. A step was presently heard within, the gate was unbarred, and
a thin shivering figure presented itself. The duke solicited
admission, but was refused, and reprimanded for disturbing the convent
at the hour sacred to prayer. He then made known his rank, and bade
the friar inform the Superior that he requested shelter from the
night. The friar, suspicious of deceit, and apprehensive of robbers,
refused with much firmness, and repeated that the convent was engaged
in prayer; he had almost closed the gate, when the duke, whom hunger
and fatigue made desperate, rushed by him, and passed into the court.
It was his intention to present himself to the Superior, and he had
not proceeded far when the sound of laughter, and of many voices in
loud and mirthful jollity, attracted his steps. It led him through
several passages to a door, through the crevices of which light
appeared. He paused a moment, and heard within a wild uproar of
merriment and song. He was struck with astonishment, and could
scarcely credit his senses!

He unclosed the door, and beheld in a large room, well lighted, a
company of friars, dressed in the habit of their order, placed round a
table, which was profusely spread with wines and fruits. The Superior,
whose habit distinguished him from his associates, appeared at the
head of the table. He was lifting a large goblet of wine to his lips,
and was roaring out, 'Profusion and confusion,' at the moment when the
duke entered. His appearance caused a general alarm; that part of the
company who were not too much intoxicated, arose from their seats; and
the Superior, dropping the goblet from his hands, endeavoured to
assume a look of austerity, which his rosy countenance belied. The
duke received a reprimand, delivered in the lisping accents of
intoxication, and embellished with frequent interjections of hiccup.
He made known his quality, his distress, and solicited a night's
lodging for himself and his people. When the Superior understood the
distinction of his guest, his features relaxed into a smile of joyous
welcome; and taking him by the hand, he placed him by his side.

The table was quickly covered with luxurious provisions, and orders
were given that the duke's people should be admitted, and taken care
of. He was regaled with a variety of the finest wines, and at length,
highly elevated by monastic hospitality, he retired to the apartment
allotted him, leaving the Superior in a condition which precluded all
ceremony.

He departed in the morning, very well pleased with the accommodating
principles of monastic religion. He had been told that the enjoyment
of the good things of this life was the surest sign of our gratitude
to Heaven; and it appeared, that within the walls of a Sicilian
monastery, the precept and the practice were equally enforced.

He was now at a loss what course to chuse, for he had no clue to
direct him towards the object of his pursuit; but hope still
invigorated, and urged him to perseverance. He was not many leagues
from the coast; and it occurred to him that the fugitives might make
towards it with a design of escaping into Italy. He therefore
determined to travel towards the sea and proceed along the shore.

At the house where he stopped to dine, he learned that two persons,
such as he described, had halted there about an hour before his
arrival, and had set off again in much seeming haste. They had taken
the road towards the coast, whence it was obvious to the duke they
designed to embark. He stayed not to finish the repast set before
him, but instantly remounted to continue the pursuit.

To the enquiries he made of the persons he chanced to meet, favorable
answers were returned for a time, but he was at length bewildered in
uncertainity, and travelled for some hours in a direction which
chance, rather than judgment, prompted him to take.

The falling evening again confused his prospects, and unsettled his
hopes. The shades were deepened by thick and heavy clouds that
enveloped the horizon, and the deep sounding air foretold a tempest.
The thunder now rolled at a distance, and the accumulated clouds grew
darker. The duke and his people were on a wild and dreary heath, round
which they looked in vain for shelter, the view being terminated on
all sides by the same desolate scene. They rode, however, as hard as
their horses would carry them; and at length one of the attendants
spied on the skirts of the waste a large mansion, towards which they
immediately directed their course.

They were overtaken by the storm, and at the moment when they reached
the building, a peal of thunder, which seemed to shake the pile, burst
over their heads. They now found themselves in a large and ancient
mansion, which seemed totally deserted, and was falling to decay. The
edifice was distinguished by an air of magnificence, which ill
accorded with the surrounding scenery, and which excited some degree
of surprize in the mind of the duke, who, however, fully justified the
owner in forsaking a spot which presented to the eye only views of
rude and desolated nature.

The storm increased with much violence, and threatened to detain the
duke a prisoner in his present habitation for the night. The hall, of
which he and his people had taken possession, exhibited in every
feature marks of ruin and desolation. The marble pavement was in many
places broken, the walls were mouldering in decay, and round the high
and shattered windows the long grass waved to the lonely gale.
Curiosity led him to explore the recesses of the mansion. He quitted
the hall, and entered upon a passage which conducted him to a remote
part of the edifice. He wandered through the wild and spacious
apartments in gloomy meditation, and often paused in wonder at the
remains of magnificence which he beheld.

The mansion was irregular and vast, and he was bewildered in its
intricacies. In endeavouring to find his way back, he only perplexed
himself more, till at length he arrived at a door, which he believed
led into the hall he first quitted. On opening it he discovered, by
the faint light of the moon, a large place which he scarcely knew
whether to think a cloister, a chapel, or a hall. It retired in long
perspective, in arches, and terminated in a large iron gate, through
which appeared the open country.

The lighting flashed thick and blue around, which, together with the
thunder that seemed to rend the wide arch of heaven, and the
melancholy aspect of the place, so awed the duke, that he
involuntarily called to his people. His voice was answered only by the
deep echoes which ran in murmurs through the place, and died away at a
distance; and the moon now sinking behind a cloud, left him in total
darkness.

He repeated the call more loudly, and at length heard the approach of
footsteps. A few moments relieved him from his anxiety, for his people
appeared. The storm was yet loud, and the heavy and sulphureous
appearance of the atmosphere promised no speedy abatement of it. The
duke endeavoured to reconcile himself to pass the night in his present
situation, and ordered a fire to be lighted in the place he was in.
This with much difficulty was accomplished. He then threw himself on
the pavement before it, and tried to endure the abstinence which he
had so ill observed in the monastery on the preceding night. But to
his great joy his attendants, more provident than himself, had not
scrupled to accept a comfortable quantity of provisions which had been
offered them at the monastery; and which they now drew forth from a
wallet. They were spread upon the pavement; and the duke, after
refreshing himself, delivered up the remains to his people. Having
ordered them to watch by turns at the gate, he wrapt his cloak round
him, and resigned himself to repose.

The night passed without any disturbance. The morning arose fresh and
bright; the Heavens exhibited a clear and unclouded concave; even the
wild heath, refreshed by the late rains, smiled around, and sent up
with the morning gale a stream of fragrance.

The duke quitted the mansion, re-animated by the cheerfulness of morn,
and pursued his journey. He could gain no intelligence of the
fugitives. About noon he found himself in a beautiful romantic
country; and having reached the summit of some wild cliffs, he rested,
to view the picturesque imagery of the scene below. A shadowy
sequestered dell appeared buried deep among the rocks, and in the
bottom was seen a lake, whose clear bosom reflected the impending
cliffs, and the beautiful luxuriance of the overhanging shades.

But his attention was quickly called from the beauties of inanimate
nature, to objects more interesting; for he observed two persons, whom
he instantly recollected to be the same that he had formerly pursued
over the plains. They were seated on the margin of the lake, under the
shade of some high trees at the foot of the rocks, and seemed
partaking of a repast which was spread upon the grass. Two horses were
grazing near. In the lady the duke saw the very air and shape of
Julia, and his heart bounded at the sight. They were seated with
their backs to the cliffs upon which the duke stood, and he therefore
surveyed them unobserved. They were now almost within his power, but
the difficulty was how to descend the rocks, whose stupendous heights
and craggy steeps seemed to render them impassable. He examined them
with a scrutinizing eye, and at length espied, where the rock receded,
a narrow winding sort of path. He dismounted, and some of his
attendants doing the same, followed their lord down the cliffs,
treading lightly, lest their steps should betray them. Immediately
upon their reaching the bottom, they were perceived by the lady, who
fled among the rocks, and was presently pursued by the duke's people.
The cavalier had no time to escape, but drew his sword, and defended
himself against the furious assault of the duke.

The combat was sustained with much vigour and dexterity on both sides
for some minutes, when the duke received the point of his adversary's
sword, and fell. The cavalier, endeavouring to escape, was seized by
the duke's people, who now appeared with the fair fugitive; but what
was the disappointment--the rage of the duke, when in the person of
the lady he discovered a stranger! The astonishment was mutual, but
the accompanying feelings were, in the different persons, of a very
opposite nature. In the duke, astonishment was heightened by vexation,
and embittered by disappointment:--in the lady, it was softened by the
joy of unexpected deliverance.

This lady was the younger daughter of a Sicilian nobleman, whose
avarice, or necessities, had devoted her to a convent. To avoid the
threatened fate, she fled with the lover to whom her affections had
long been engaged, and whose only fault, even in the eye of her
father, was inferiority of birth. They were now on their way to the
coast, whence they designed to pass over to Italy, where the church
would confirm the bonds which their hearts had already formed. There
the friends of the cavalier resided, and with them they expected to
find a secure retreat.

The duke, who was not materially wounded, after the first transport of
his rage had subsided, suffered them to depart. Relieved from their
fears, they joyfully set forward, leaving their late pursuer to the
anguish of defeat, and fruitless endeavour. He was remounted on his
horse; and having dispatched two of his people in search of a house
where he might obtain some relief, he proceeded slowly on his return
to the castle of Mazzini.

It was not long ere he recollected a circumstance which, in the first
tumult of his disappointment, had escaped him, but which so
essentially affected the whole tenour of his hopes, as to make him
again irresolute how to proceed. He considered that, although these
were the fugitives he had pursued over the plains, they might not be
the same who had been secreted in the cottage, and it was therefore
possible that Julia might have been the person whom they had for some
time followed from thence. This suggestion awakened his hopes, which
were however quickly destroyed; for he remembered that the only
persons who could have satisfied his doubts, were now gone beyond the
power of recall. To pursue Julia, when no traces of her flight
remained, was absurd; and he was, therefore, compelled to return to
the marquis, as ignorant and more hopeless than he had left him. With
much pain he reached the village which his emissaries had discovered,
when fortunately he obtained some medical assistance. Here he was
obliged by indisposition to rest. The anguish of his mind equalled
that of his body. Those impetuous passions which so strongly marked
his nature, were roused and exasperated to a degree that operated
powerfully upon his constitution, and threatened him with the most
alarming consequences. The effect of his wound was heightened by the
agitation of his mind; and a fever, which quickly assumed a very
serious aspect, co-operated to endanger his life.



CHAPTER VI

The castle of Mazzini was still the scene of dissension and misery.
The impatience and astonishment of the marquis being daily increased
by the lengthened absence of the duke, he dispatched servants to the
forest of Marentino, to enquire the occasion of this circumstance.
They returned with intelligence that neither Julia, the duke, nor any
of his people were there. He therefore concluded that his daughter had
fled the cottage upon information of the approach of the duke, who, he
believed, was still engaged in the pursuit. With respect to
Ferdinand, who yet pined in sorrow and anxiety in his dungeon, the
rigour of the marquis's conduct was unabated. He apprehended that his
son, if liberated, would quickly discover the retreat of Julia, and by
his advice and assistance confirm her in disobedience.

Ferdinand, in the stillness and solitude of his dungeon, brooded over
the late calamity in gloomy ineffectual lamentation. The idea of
Hippolitus--of Hippolitus murdered--arose to his imagination in busy
intrusion, and subdued the strongest efforts of his fortitude. Julia
too, his beloved sister--unprotected--unfriended--might, even at the
moment he lamented her, be sinking under sufferings dreadful to
humanity. The airy schemes he once formed of future felicity,
resulting from the union of two persons so justly dear to him--with
the gay visions of past happiness--floated upon his fancy, and the
lustre they reflected served only to heighten, by contrast, the
obscurity and gloom of his present views. He had, however, a new
subject of astonishment, which often withdrew his thoughts from their
accustomed object, and substituted a sensation less painful, though
scarcely less powerful. One night as he lay ruminating on the past, in
melancholy dejection, the stillness of the place was suddenly
interrupted by a low and dismal sound. It returned at intervals in
hollow sighings, and seemed to come from some person in deep distress.
So much did fear operate upon his mind, that he was uncertain whether
it arose from within or from without. He looked around his dungeon,
but could distinguish no object through the impenetrable darkness. As
he listened in deep amazement, the sound was repeated in moans more
hollow. Terror now occupied his mind, and disturbed his reason; he
started from his posture, and, determined to be satisfied whether any
person beside himself was in the dungeon, groped, with arms extended,
along the walls. The place was empty; but coming to a particular spot,
the sound suddenly arose more distinctly to his ear. He called aloud,
and asked who was there; but received no answer. Soon after all was
still; and after listening for some time without hearing the sounds
renewed, he laid himself down to sleep. On the following day he
mentioned to the man who brought him food what he had heard, and
enquired concerning the noise. The servant appeared very much
terrified, but could give no information that might in the least
account for the circumstance, till he mentioned the vicinity of the
dungeon to the southern buildings. The dreadful relation formerly
given by the marquis instantly recurred to the mind of Ferdinand, who
did not hesitate to believe that the moans he heard came from the
restless spirit of the murdered Della Campo. At this conviction,
horror thrilled his nerves; but he remembered his oath, and was
silent. His courage, however, yielded to the idea of passing another
night alone in his prison, where, if the vengeful spirit of the
murdered should appear, he might even die of the horror which its
appearance would inspire.

The mind of Ferdinand was highly superior to the general influence of
superstition; but, in the present instance, such strong correlative
circumstances appeared, as compelled even incredulity to yield. He had
himself heard strange and awful sounds in the forsaken southern
buildings; he received from his father a dreadful secret relative to
them--a secret in which his honor, nay even his life, was bound up.
His father had also confessed, that he had himself there seen
appearances which he could never after remember without horror, and
which had occasioned him to quit that part of the castle. All these
recollections presented to Ferdinand a chain of evidence too powerful
to be resisted; and he could not doubt that the spirit of the dead had
for once been permitted to revisit the earth, and to call down
vengeance on the descendants of the murderer.

This conviction occasioned him a degree of horror, such as no
apprehension of mortal powers could have excited; and he determined,
if possible, to prevail on Peter to pass the hours of midnight with
him in his dungeon. The strictness of Peter's fidelity yielded to the
persuasions of Ferdinand, though no bribe could tempt him to incur the
resentment of the marquis, by permitting an escape. Ferdinand passed
the day in lingering anxious expectation, and the return of night
brought Peter to the dungeon. His kindness exposed him to a danger
which he had not foreseen; for when seated in the dungeon alone with
his prisoner, how easily might that prisoner have conquered him and
left him to pay his life to the fury of the marquis. He was preserved
by the humanity of Ferdinand, who instantly perceived his advantage,
but disdained to involve an innocent man in destruction, and spurned
the suggestion from his mind.

Peter, whose friendship was stronger than his courage, trembled with
apprehension as the hour drew nigh in which the groans had been heard
on the preceding night. He recounted to Ferdinand a variety of
terrific circumstances, which existed only in the heated imaginations
of his fellow-servants, but which were still admitted by them as
facts. Among the rest, he did not omit to mention the light and the
figure which had been seen to issue from the south tower on the night
of Julia's intended elopement; a circumstance which he embellished
with innumerable aggravations of fear and wonder. He concluded with
describing the general consternation it had caused, and the consequent
behaviour of the marquis, who laughed at the fears of his people, yet
condescended to quiet them by a formal review of the buildings whence
their terror had originated. He related the adventure of the door
which refused to yield, the sounds which arose from within, and the
discovery of the fallen roof; but declared that neither he, nor any of
his fellow servants, believed the noise or the obstruction proceeded
from that, 'because, my lord,' continued he, 'the door seemed to be
held only in one place; and as for the noise--O! Lord! I never shall
forget what a noise it was!--it was a thousand times louder than what
any stones could make.'

Ferdinand listened to this narrative in silent wonder! wonder not
occasioned by the adventure described, but by the hardihood and
rashness of the marquis, who had thus exposed to the inspection of his
people, that dreadful spot which he knew from experience to be the
haunt of an injured spirit; a spot which he had hitherto scrupulously
concealed from human eye, and human curiosity; and which, for so many
years, he had not dared even himself to enter. Peter went on, but was
presently interrupted by a hollow moan, which seemed to come from
beneath the ground. 'Blessed virgin!' exclaimed he: Ferdinand listened
in awful expectation. A groan longer and more dreadful was repeated,
when Peter started from his seat, and snatching up the lamp, rushed
out of the dungeon. Ferdinand, who was left in total darkness,
followed to the door, which the affrighted Peter had not stopped to
fasten, but which had closed, and seemed held by a lock that could be
opened only on the outside. The sensations of Ferdinand, thus
compelled to remain in the dungeon, are not to be imagined. The
horrors of the night, whatever they were to be, he was to endure
alone. By degrees, however, he seemed to acquire the valour of
despair. The sounds were repeated, at intervals, for near an hour,
when silence returned, and remained undisturbed during the rest of the
night. Ferdinand was alarmed by no appearance, and at length, overcome
with anxiety and watching, he sunk to repose.

On the following morning Peter returned to the dungeon, scarcely
knowing what to expect, yet expecting something very strange, perhaps
the murder, perhaps the supernatural disappearance of his young lord.
Full of these wild apprehensions, he dared not venture thither alone,
but persuaded some of the servants, to whom he had communicated his
terrors, to accompany him to the door. As they passed along he
recollected, that in the terror of the preceding night he had forgot
to fasten the door, and he now feared that his prisoner had made his
escape without a miracle. He hurried to the door; and his surprize was
extreme to find it fastened. It instantly struck him that this was the
work of a supernatural power, when on calling aloud, he was answered
by a voice from within. His absurd fear did not suffer him to
recognize the voice of Ferdinand, neither did he suppose that
Ferdinand had failed to escape, he, therefore, attributed the voice to
the being he had heard on the preceding night; and starting back from
the door, fled with his companions to the great hall. There the uproar
occasioned by their entrance called together a number of persons,
amongst whom was the marquis, who was soon informed of the cause of
alarm, with a long history of the circumstances of the foregoing
night. At this information, the marquis assumed a very stern look, and
severely reprimanded Peter for his imprudence, at the same time
reproaching the other servants with their undutifulness in thus
disturbing his peace. He reminded them of the condescension he had
practised to dissipate their former terrors, and of the result of
their examination. He then assured them, that since indulgence had
only encouraged intrusion, he would for the future be severe; and
concluded with declaring, that the first man who should disturb him
with a repetition of such ridiculous apprehensions, or should attempt
to disturb the peace of the castle by circulating these idle notions,
should be rigorously punished, and banished his dominions. They shrunk
back at his reproof, and were silent. 'Bring a torch,' said the
marquis, 'and shew me to the dungeon. I will once more condescend to
confute you.'

They obeyed, and descended with the marquis, who, arriving at the
dungeon, instantly threw open the door, and discovered to the
astonished eyes of his attendants--Ferdinand!--He started with
surprize at the entrance of his father thus attended. The
marquis darted upon him a severe look, which he perfectly
comprehended.--'Now,' cried he, turning to his people, 'what do you
see? My son, whom I myself placed here, and whose voice, which
answered to your calls, you have transformed into unknown sounds.
Speak, Ferdinand, and confirm what I say.' Ferdinand did so. 'What
dreadful spectre appeared to you last night?' resumed the marquis,
looking stedfastly upon him: 'gratify these fellows with a description
of it, for they cannot exist without something of the marvellous.'
'None, my lord,' replied Ferdinand, who too well understood the manner
of the marquis. ''Tis well,' cried the marquis, 'and this is the last
time,' turning to his attendants, 'that your folly shall be treated
with so much lenity.' He ceased to urge the subject, and forbore to
ask Ferdinand even one question before his servants, concerning the
nocturnal sounds described by Peter. He quitted the dungeon with eyes
steadily bent in anger and suspicion upon Ferdinand. The marquis
suspected that the fears of his son had inadvertently betrayed to
Peter a part of the secret entrusted to him, and he artfully
interrogated Peter with seeming carelessness, concerning the
circumstances of the preceding night. From him he drew such answers as
honorably acquitted Ferdinand of indiscretion, and relieved himself
from tormenting apprehensions.

The following night passed quietly away; neither sound nor appearance
disturbed the peace of Ferdinand. The marquis, on the next day,
thought proper to soften the severity of his sufferings, and he was
removed from his dungeon to a room strongly grated, but exposed to the
light of day.

Meanwhile a circumstance occurred which increased the general discord,
and threatened Emilia with the loss of her last remaining comfort--the
advice and consolation of Madame de Menon. The marchioness, whose
passion for the Count de Vereza had at length yielded to absence, and
the pressure of present circumstances, now bestowed her smiles upon a
young Italian cavalier, a visitor at the castle, who possessed too
much of the spirit of gallantry to permit a lady to languish in vain.
The marquis, whose mind was occupied with other passions, was
insensible to the misconduct of his wife, who at all times had the
address to disguise her vices beneath the gloss of virtue and innocent
freedom. The intrigue was discovered by madame, who, having one day
left a book in the oak parlour, returned thither in search of it. As
she opened the door of the apartment, she heard the voice of the
cavalier in passionate exclamation; and on entering, discovered him
rising in some confusion from the feet of the marchioness, who,
darting at madame a look of severity, arose from her seat. Madame,
shocked at what she had seen, instantly retired, and buried in her own
bosom that secret, the discovery of which would most essentially have
poisoned the peace of the marquis. The marchioness, who was a stranger
to the generosity of sentiment which actuated Madame de Menon, doubted
not that she would seize the moment of retaliation, and expose her
conduct where most she dreaded it should be known. The consciousness
of guilt tortured her with incessant fear of discovery, and from this
period her whole attention was employed to dislodge from the castle
the person to whom her character was committed. In this it was not
difficult to succeed; for the delicacy of madame's feelings made her
quick to perceive, and to withdraw from a treatment unsuitable to the
natural dignity of her character. She therefore resolved to depart
from the castle; but disdaining to take an advantage even over a
successful enemy, she determined to be silent on that subject which
would instantly have transferred the triumph from her adversary to
herself. When the marquis, on hearing her determination to retire,
earnestly enquired for the motive of her conduct, she forbore to
acquaint him with the real one, and left him to incertitude and
disappointment.

To Emilia this design occasioned a distress which almost subdued the
resolution of madame. Her tears and intreaties spoke the artless
energy of sorrow. In madame she lost her only friend; and she too well
understood the value of that friend, to see her depart without feeling
and expressing the deepest distress. From a strong attachment to the
memory of the mother, madame had been induced to undertake the
education of her daughters, whose engaging dispositions had
perpetuated a kind of hereditary affection. Regard for Emilia and
Julia had alone for some time detained her at the castle; but this was
now succeeded by the influence of considerations too powerful to be
resisted. As her income was small, it was her plan to retire to her
native place, which was situated in a distant part of the island, and
there take up her residence in a convent.

Emilia saw the time of madame's departure approach with increased
distress. They left each other with a mutual sorrow, which did honour
to their hearts. When her last friend was gone, Emilia wandered
through the forsaken apartments, where she had been accustomed to
converse with Julia, and to receive consolation and sympathy from her
dear instructress, with a kind of anguish known only to those who have
experienced a similar situation. Madame pursued her journey with a
heavy heart. Separated from the objects of her fondest affections, and
from the scenes and occupations for which long habit had formed claims
upon her heart, she seemed without interest and without motive for
exertion. The world appeared a wide and gloomy desert, where no heart
welcomed her with kindness--no countenance brightened into smiles at
her approach. It was many years since she quitted Calini--and in the
interval, death had swept away the few friends she left there. The
future presented a melancholy scene; but she had the retrospect of
years spent in honorable endeavour and strict integrity, to cheer her
heart and encouraged her hopes.

But her utmost endeavours were unable to express the anxiety with
which the uncertain fate of Julia overwhelmed her. Wild and terrific
images arose to her imagination. Fancy drew the scene;--she deepened
the shades; and the terrific aspect of the objects she presented was
heightened by the obscurity which involved them.

[End of Vol. I]



CHAPTER VII

Towards the close of day Madame de Menon arrived at a small village
situated among the mountains, where she purposed to pass the night.
The evening was remarkably fine, and the romantic beauty of the
surrounding scenery invited her to walk. She followed the windings of
a stream, which was lost at some distance amongst luxuriant groves of
chesnut. The rich colouring of evening glowed through the dark
foliage, which spreading a pensive gloom around, offered a scene
congenial to the present temper of her mind, and she entered the
shades. Her thoughts, affected by the surrounding objects, gradually
sunk into a pleasing and complacent melancholy, and she was insensibly
led on. She still followed the course of the stream to where the deep
shades retired, and the scene again opening to day, yielded to her a
view so various and sublime, that she paused in thrilling and
delightful wonder. A group of wild and grotesque rocks rose in a
semicircular form, and their fantastic shapes exhibited Nature in her
most sublime and striking attitudes. Here her vast magnificence
elevated the mind of the beholder to enthusiasm. Fancy caught the
thrilling sensation, and at her touch the towering steeps became
shaded with unreal glooms; the caves more darkly frowned--the
projecting cliffs assumed a more terrific aspect, and the wild
overhanging shrubs waved to the gale in deeper murmurs. The scene
inspired madame with reverential awe, and her thoughts involuntarily
rose, 'from Nature up to Nature's God.' The last dying gleams of day
tinted the rocks and shone upon the waters, which retired through a
rugged channel and were lost afar among the receding cliffs. While she
listened to their distant murmur, a voice of liquid and melodious
sweetness arose from among the rocks; it sung an air, whose melancholy
expression awakened all her attention, and captivated her heart. The
tones swelled and died faintly away among the clear, yet languishing
echoes which the rocks repeated with an effect like that of
enchantment. Madame looked around in search of the sweet warbler, and
observed at some distance a peasant girl seated on a small projection
of the rock, overshadowed by drooping sycamores. She moved slowly
towards the spot, which she had almost reached, when the sound of her
steps startled and silenced the syren, who, on perceiving a stranger,
arose in an attitude to depart. The voice of madame arrested her, and
she approached. Language cannot paint the sensation of madame, when in
the disguise of a peasant girl, she distinguished the features of
Julia, whose eyes lighted up with sudden recollection, and who sunk
into her arms overcome with joy. When their first emotions were
subsided, and Julia had received answers to her enquiries concerning
Ferdinand and Emilia, she led madame to the place of her concealment.
This was a solitary cottage, in a close valley surrounded by
mountains, whose cliffs appeared wholly inaccessible to mortal foot.
The deep solitude of the scene dissipated at once madame's wonder that
Julia had so long remained undiscovered, and excited surprize how she
had been able to explore a spot thus deeply sequestered; but madame
observed with extreme concern, that the countenance of Julia no longer
wore the smile of health and gaiety. Her fine features had received
the impressions not only of melancholy, but of grief. Madame sighed as
she gazed, and read too plainly the cause of the change. Julia
understood that sigh, and answered it with her tears. She pressed the
hand of madame in mournful silence to her lips, and her cheeks were
suffused with a crimson glow. At length, recovering herself, 'I have
much, my dear madam, to tell,' said she, 'and much to explain, 'ere
you will admit me again to that esteem of which I was once so justly
proud. I had no resource from misery, but in flight; and of that I
could not make you a confidant, without meanly involving you in its
disgrace.'--'Say no more, my love, on the subject,' replied madame;
'with respect to myself, I admired your conduct, and felt severely for
your situation. Rather let me hear by what means you effected your
escape, and what has since be fallen you.'--Julia paused a moment, as
if to stifle her rising emotion, and then commenced her narrative.

'You are already acquainted with the secret of that night, so fatal to
my peace. I recall the remembrance of it with an anguish which I
cannot conceal; and why should I wish its concealment, since I mourn
for one, whose noble qualities justified all my admiration, and
deserved more than my feeble praise can bestow; the idea of whom will
be the last to linger in my mind till death shuts up this painful
scene.' Her voice trembled, and she paused. After a few moments she
resumed her tale. 'I will spare myself the pain of recurring to scenes
with which you are not unacquainted, and proceed to those which more
immediately attract your interest. Caterina, my faithful servant, you
know, attended me in my confinement; to her kindness I owe my escape.
She obtained from her lover, a servant in the castle, that assistance
which gave me liberty. One night when Carlo, who had been appointed my
guard, was asleep, Nicolo crept into his chamber, and stole from him
the keys of my prison. He had previously procured a ladder of ropes.
O! I can never forget my emotions, when in the dead hour of that
night, which was meant to precede the day of my sacrifice, I heard the
door of my prison unlock, and found myself half at liberty! My
trembling limbs with difficulty supported me as I followed Caterina to
the saloon, the windows of which being low and near to the terrace,
suited our purpose. To the terrace we easily got, where Nicolo
awaited us with the rope-ladder. He fastened it to the ground; and
having climbed to the top of the parapet, quickly slided down on the
other side. There he held it, while we ascended and descended; and I
soon breathed the air of freedom again. But the apprehension of being
retaken was still too powerful to permit a full enjoyment of my
escape. It was my plan to proceed to the place of my faithful
Caterina's nativity, where she had assured me I might find a safe
asylum in the cottage of her parents, from whom, as they had never
seen me, I might conceal my birth. This place, she said, was entirely
unknown to the marquis, who had hired her at Naples only a few months
before, without any enquiries concerning her family. She had informed
me that the village was many leagues distant from the castle, but that
she was very well acquainted with the road. At the foot of the walls
we left Nicolo, who returned to the castle to prevent suspicion, but
with an intention to leave it at a less dangerous time, and repair to
Farrini to his good Caterina. I parted from him with many thanks, and
gave him a small diamond cross, which, for that purpose, I had taken
from the jewels sent to me for wedding ornaments.'



CHAPTER VIII

'About a quarter of a league from the walls we stopped, and I assumed
the habit in which you now see me. My own dress was fastened to some
heavy stones, and Caterina threw it into the stream, near the almond
grove, whose murmurings you have so often admired. The fatigue and
hardship I endured in this journey, performed almost wholly on foot,
at any other time would have overcome me; but my mind was so occupied
by the danger I was avoiding that these lesser evils were disregarded.
We arrived in safety at the cottage, which stood at a little distance
from the village of Ferrini, and were received by Caterina's parents
with some surprise and more kindness. I soon perceived it would be
useless, and even dangerous, to attempt to preserve the character I
personated. In the eyes of Caterina's mother I read a degree of
surprise and admiration which declared she believed me to be of
superior rank; I, therefore, thought it more prudent to win her
fidelity by entrusting her with my secret than, by endeavouring to
conceal it, leave it to be discovered by her curiosity or discernment.
Accordingly, I made known my quality and my distress, and received
strong assurances of assistance and attachment. For further security,
I removed to this sequestered spot. The cottage we are now in belongs
to a sister of Caterina, upon whose faithfulness I have been hitherto
fully justified in relying. But I am not even here secure from
apprehension, since for several days past horsemen of a suspicious
appearance have been observed near Marcy, which is only half a league
from hence.'

Here Julia closed her narration, to which madame had listened with a
mixture of surprise and pity, which her eyes sufficiently discovered.
The last circumstance of the narrative seriously alarmed her. She
acquainted Julia with the pursuit which the duke had undertaken; and
she did not hesitate to believe it a party of his people whom Julia
had described. Madame, therefore, earnestly advised her to quit her
present situation, and to accompany her in disguise to the monastery
of St Augustin, where she would find a secure retreat; because, even
if her place of refuge should be discovered, the superior authority of
the church would protect her. Julia accepted the proposal with much
joy. As it was necessary that madame should sleep at the village where
she had left her servants and horses, it was agreed that at break of
day she should return to the cottage, where Julia would await her.
Madame took all affectionate leave of Julia, whose heart, in spite of
reason, sunk when she saw her depart, though but for the necessary
interval of repose.

At the dawn of day madame arose. Her servants, who were hired for the
journey, were strangers to Julia: from them, therefore, she had
nothing to apprehend. She reached the cottage before sunrise, having
left her people at some little distance. Her heart foreboded evil,
when, on knocking at the door, no answer was returned. She knocked
again, and still all was silent. Through the casement she could
discover no object, amidst the grey obscurity of the dawn. She now
opened the door, and, to her inexpressible surprise and distress,
found the cottage empty. She proceeded to a small inner room, where
lay a part of Julia's apparel. The bed had no appearance of having
being slept in, and every moment served to heighten and confirm her
apprehensions. While she pursued the search, she suddenly heard the
trampling of feet at the cottage door, and presently after some people
entered. Her fears for Julia now yielded to those for her own safety,
and she was undetermined whether to discover herself, or remain in her
present situation, when she was relieved from her irresolution by the
appearance of Julia.

On the return of the good woman, who had accompanied madame to the
village on the preceding night, Julia went to the cottage at Farrini.
Her grateful heart would not suffer her to depart without taking leave
of her faithful friends, thanking them for their kindness, and
informing them of her future prospects. They had prevailed upon her to
spend the few intervening hours at this cot, whence she had just risen
to meet madame.

They now hastened to the spot where the horses were stationed, and
commenced their journey. For some leagues they travelled in silence
and thought, over a wild and picturesque country. The landscape was
tinted with rich and variegated hues; and the autumnal lights, which
streamed upon the hills, produced a spirited and beautiful effect upon
the scenery. All the glories of the vintage rose to their view: the
purple grapes flushed through the dark green of the surrounding
foliage, and the prospect glowed with luxuriance.

They now descended into a deep valley, which appeared more like a
scene of airy enchantment than reality. Along the bottom flowed a
clear majestic stream, whose banks were adorned with thick groves of
orange and citron trees. Julia surveyed the scene in silent
complacency, but her eye quickly caught an object which changed with
instantaneous shock the tone of her feelings. She observed a party of
horsemen winding down the side of a hill behind her. Their uncommon
speed alarmed her, and she pushed her horse into a gallop. On looking
back Madame de Menon clearly perceived they were in pursuit. Soon
after the men suddenly appeared from behind a dark grove within a
small distance of them; and, upon their nearer approach, Julia,
overcome with fatigue and fear, sunk breathless from her horse. She
was saved from the ground by one of the pursuers, who caught her in
his arms. Madame, with the rest of the party, were quickly overtaken;
and as soon as Julia revived, they were bound, and reconducted to the
hill from whence they had descended. Imagination only can paint the
anguish of Julia's mind, when she saw herself thus delivered up to the
power of her enemy. Madame, in the surrounding troop, discovered none
of the marquis's people, and they were therefore evidently in the
hands of the duke. After travelling for some hours, they quitted the
main road, and turned into a narrow winding dell, overshadowed by high
trees, which almost excluded the light. The gloom of the place
inspired terrific images. Julia trembled as she entered; and her
emotion was heightened, when she perceived at some distance, through
the long perspective of the trees, a large ruinous mansion. The gloom
of the surrounding shades partly concealed it from her view; but, as
she drew near, each forlorn and decaying feature of the fabric was
gradually disclosed, and struck upon her heart a horror such as she
had never before experienced. The broken battlements, enwreathed with
ivy, proclaimed the fallen grandeur of the place, while the shattered
vacant window-frames exhibited its desolation, and the high grass that
overgrew the threshold seemed to say how long it was since mortal foot
had entered. The place appeared fit only for the purposes of violence
and destruction: and the unfortunate captives, when they stopped at
its gates, felt the full force of its horrors.

They were taken from their horses, and conveyed to an interior part of
the building, which, if it had once been a chamber, no longer deserved
the name. Here the guard said they were directed to detain them till
the arrival of their lord, who had appointed this the place of
rendezvous. He was expected to meet them in a few hours, and these
were hours of indescribable torture to Julia and madame. From the
furious passions of the duke, exasperated by frequent disappointment,
Julia had every evil to apprehend; and the loneliness of the spot he
had chosen, enabled him to perpetrate any designs, however violent.
For the first time, she repented that she had left her father's house.
Madame wept over her, but comfort she had none to give. The day
closed--the duke did not appear, and the fate of Julia yet hung in
perilous uncertainty. At length, from a window of the apartment she
was in, she distinguished a glimmering of torches among the trees, and
presently after the clattering of hoofs convinced her the duke was
approaching. Her heart sunk at the sound; and throwing her arms round
madame's neck, she resigned herself to despair. She was soon roused by
some men, who came to announce the arrival of their lord. In a few
moments the place, which had lately been so silent, echoed with
tumult; and a sudden blaze of light illumining the fabric, served to
exhibit more forcibly its striking horrors. Julia ran to the window;
and, in a sort of court below, perceived a group of men dismounting
from their horses. The torches shed a partial light; and while she
anxiously looked round for the person of the duke, the whole party
entered the mansion. She listened to a confused uproar of voices,
which sounded from the room beneath, and soon after it sunk into a low
murmur, as if some matter of importance was in agitation. For some
moments she sat in lingering terror, when she heard footsteps
advancing towards the chamber, and a sudden gleam of torchlight
flashed upon the walls. 'Wretched girl! I have at least secured you!'
said a cavalier, who now entered the room. He stopped as he perceived
Julia; and turning to the men who stood without, 'Are these,' said he,
'the fugitives you have taken?'--'Yes, my lord.'--'Then you have
deceived yourselves, and misled me; this is not my daughter.' These
words struck the sudden light of truth and joy upon the heart of
Julia, whom terror had before rendered almost lifeless; and who had
not perceived that the person entering was a stranger. Madame now
stepped forward, and an explanation ensued, when it appeared that the
stranger was the Marquis Murani, the father of the fair fugitive whom
the duke had before mistaken for Julia.

The appearance and the evident flight of Julia had deceived the
banditti employed by this nobleman, into a belief that she was the
object of their search, and had occasioned her this unnecessary
distress. But the joy she now felt, on finding herself thus
unexpectedly at liberty, surpassed, if possible, her preceding
terrors. The marquis made madame and Julia all the reparation in his
power, by offering immediately to reconduct them to the main road, and
to guard them to some place of safety for the night. This offer was
eagerly and thankfully accepted; and though faint from distress,
fatigue, and want of sustenance, they joyfully remounted their horses,
and by torchlight quitted the mansion. After some hours travelling
they arrived at a small town, where they procured the accommodation so
necessary to their support and repose. Here their guides quitted them
to continue their search.

They arose with the dawn, and continued their journey, continually
terrified with the apprehension of encountering the duke's people. At
noon they arrived at Azulia, from whence the monastery, or abbey of St
Augustin, was distant only a few miles. Madame wrote to the _Padre
Abate_, to whom she was somewhat related, and soon after received an
answer very favourable to her wishes. The same evening they repaired
to the abbey; where Julia, once more relieved from the fear of
pursuit, offered up a prayer of gratitude to heaven, and endeavoured
to calm her sorrows by devotion. She was received by the abbot with a
sort of paternal affection, and by the nuns with officious kindness.
Comforted by these circumstances, and by the tranquil appearance of
every thing around her, she retired to rest, and passed the night in
peaceful slumbers.

In her present situation she found much novelty to amuse, and much
serious matter to interest her mind. Entendered by distress, she
easily yielded to the pensive manners of her companions and to the
serene uniformity of a monastic life. She loved to wander through the
lonely cloisters, and high-arched aisles, whose long perspectives
retired in simple grandeur, diffusing a holy calm around. She found
much pleasure in the conversation of the nuns, many of whom were
uncommonly amiable, and the dignified sweetness of whose manners
formed a charm irresistibly attractive. The soft melancholy impressed
upon their countenances, pourtrayed the situation of their minds, and
excited in Julia a very interesting mixture of pity and esteem. The
affectionate appellation of sister, and all that endearing tenderness
which they so well know how to display, and of which they so well
understand the effect, they bestowed on Julia, in the hope of winning
her to become one of their order.

Soothed by the presence of madame, the assiduity of the nuns, and by
the stillness and sanctity of the place, her mind gradually recovered
a degree of complacency to which it had long been a stranger. But
notwithstanding all her efforts, the idea of Hippolitus would at
intervals return upon her memory with a force that at once subdued her
fortitude, and sunk her in a temporary despair.

Among the holy sisters, Julia distinguished one, the singular fervor
of whose devotion, and the pensive air of whose countenance, softened
by the languor of illness, attracted her curiosity, and excited a
strong degree of pity. The nun, by a sort of sympathy, seemed
particularly inclined towards Julia, which she discovered by
innumerable acts of kindness, such as the heart can quickly understand
and acknowledge, although description can never reach them. In
conversation with her, Julia endeavoured, as far as delicacy would
permit, to prompt an explanation of that more than common dejection
which shaded those features, where beauty, touched by resignation and
sublimed by religion, shone forth with mild and lambent lustre.

The Duke de Luovo, after having been detained for some weeks by the
fever which his wounds had produced, and his irritated passions had
much prolonged, arrived at the castle of Mazzini.

When the marquis saw him return, and recollected the futility of those
exertions, by which he had boastingly promised to recover Julia, the
violence of his nature spurned the disguise of art, and burst forth in
contemptuous impeachment of the valour and discernment of the duke,
who soon retorted with equal fury. The consequence might have been
fatal, had not the ambition of the marquis subdued the sudden
irritation of his inferior passions, and induced him to soften the
severity of his accusations, by subsequent concessions. The duke,
whose passion for Julia was heightened by the difficulty which opposed
it, admitted such concessions as in other circumstances he would have
rejected; and thus each, conquered by the predominant passion of the
moment, submitted to be the slave of his adversary.

Emilia was at length released from the confinement she had so unjustly
suffered. She had now the use of her old apartments, where, solitary
and dejected, her hours moved heavily along, embittered by incessant
anxiety for Julia, by regret for the lost society of madame. The
marchioness, whose pleasures suffered a temporary suspense during the
present confusion at the castle, exercised the ill-humoured caprice,
which disappointment and lassitude inspired, upon her remaining
subject. Emilia was condemned to suffer, and to endure without the
privilege of complaining. In reviewing the events of the last few
weeks, she saw those most dear to her banished, or imprisoned by the
secret influence of a woman, every feature of whose character was
exactly opposite to that of the amiable mother she had been appointed
to succeed.

The search after Julia still continued, and was still unsuccessful.
The astonishment of the marquis increased with his disappointments;
for where could Julia, ignorant of the country, and destitute of
friends, have possibly found an asylum? He swore with a terrible oath
to revenge on her head, whenever she should be found, the trouble and
vexation she now caused him. But he agreed with the duke to relinquish
for a while the search; till Julia, gaining confidence from the
observation of this circumstance, might gradually suppose herself
secure from molestation, and thus be induced to emerge from
concealment.



CHAPTER IX

Meanwhile Julia, sheltered in the obscure recesses of St Augustin,
endeavoured to attain a degree of that tranquillity which so
strikingly characterized the scenes around her. The abbey of St
Augustin was a large magnificent mass of Gothic architecture, whose
gloomy battlements, and majestic towers arose in proud sublimity from
amid the darkness of the surrounding shades. It was founded in the
twelfth century, and stood a proud monument of monkish superstition
and princely magnificence. In the times when Italy was agitated by
internal commotions, and persecuted by foreign invaders, this edifice
afforded an asylum to many noble Italian emigrants, who here
consecrated the rest of their days to religion. At their death they
enriched the monastery with the treasures which it had enabled them to
secure.

The view of this building revived in the mind of the beholder the
memory of past ages. The manners and characters which distinguished
them arose to his fancy, and through the long lapse of years he
discriminated those customs and manners which formed so striking a
contrast to the modes of his own times. The rude manners, the
boisterous passions, the daring ambition, and the gross indulgences
which formerly characterized the priest, the nobleman, and the
sovereign, had now begun to yield to learning--the charms of refined
conversation--political intrigue and private artifices. Thus do the
scenes of life vary with the predominant passions of mankind, and with
the progress of civilization. The dark clouds of prejudice break away
before the sun of science, and gradually dissolving, leave the
brightening hemisphere to the influence of his beams. But through the
present scene appeared only a few scattered rays, which served to shew
more forcibly the vast and heavy masses that concealed the form of
truth. Here prejudice, not reason, suspended the influence of the
passions; and scholastic learning, mysterious philosophy, and crafty
sanctity supplied the place of wisdom, simplicity, and pure devotion.

At the abbey, solitude and stillness conspired with the solemn aspect
of the pile to impress the mind with religious awe. The dim glass of
the high-arched windows, stained with the colouring of monkish
fictions, and shaded by the thick trees that environed the edifice,
spread around a sacred gloom, which inspired the beholder with
congenial feelings.

As Julia mused through the walks, and surveyed this vast monument of
barbarous superstition, it brought to her recollection an ode which
she often repeated with melancholy pleasure, as the composition of
Hippolitus.

  SUPERSTITION

  AN ODE

  High mid Alverna's awful steeps,
    Eternal shades, and silence dwell.
  Save, when the gale resounding sweeps,
    Sad strains are faintly heard to swell:

  Enthron'd amid the wild impending rocks,
    Involved in clouds, and brooding future woe,
  The demon Superstition Nature shocks,
    And waves her sceptre o'er the world below.

  Around her throne, amid the mingling glooms,
    Wild--hideous forms are slowly seen to glide,
  She bids them fly to shade earth's brightest blooms,
    And spread the blast of Desolation wide.

  See! in the darkened air their fiery course!
    The sweeping ruin settles o'er the land,
  Terror leads on their steps with madd'ning force,
    And Death and Vengeance close the ghastly band!

        Mark the purple streams that flow!
        Mark the deep empassioned woe!
        Frantic Fury's dying groan!
        Virtue's sigh, and Sorrow's moan!

  Wide--wide the phantoms swell the loaded air
  With shrieks of anguish--madness and despair!

  Cease your ruin! spectres dire!
    Cease your wild terrific sway!
  Turn your steps--and check your ire,
    Yield to peace the mourning day!

She wept to the memory of times past, and there was a romantic sadness
in her feelings, luxurious and indefinable. Madame behaved to Julia
with the tenderest attention, and endeavoured to withdraw her thoughts
from their mournful subject by promoting that taste for literature and
music, which was so suitable to the powers of her mind.

But an object seriously interesting now obtained that regard, which
those of mere amusement failed to attract. Her favorite nun, for whom
her love and esteem daily increased, seemed declining under the
pressure of a secret grief. Julia was deeply affected with her
situation, and though she was not empowered to administer consolation
to her sorrows, she endeavoured to mitigate the sufferings of illness.
She nursed her with unremitting care, and seemed to seize with avidity
the temporary opportunity of escaping from herself. The nun appeared
perfectly reconciled to her fate, and exhibited during her illness so
much sweetness, patience, and resignation as affected all around her
with pity and love. Her angelic mildness, and steady fortitude
characterized the beatification of a saint, rather than the death of a
mortal. Julia watched every turn of her disorder with the utmost
solicitude, and her care was at length rewarded by the amendment of
Cornelia. Her health gradually improved, and she attributed this
circumstance to the assiduity and tenderness of her young friend, to
whom her heart now expanded in warm and unreserved affection. At
length Julia ventured to solicit what she had so long and so earnestly
wished for, and Cornelia unfolded the history of her sorrows.

'Of the life which your care has prolonged,' said she, 'it is but just
that you should know the events; though those events are neither new,
or striking, and possess little power of interesting persons
unconnected with them. To me they have, however, been unexpectedly
dreadful in effect, and my heart assures me, that to you they will not
be indifferent.

'I am the unfortunate descendant of an ancient and illustrious Italian
family. In early childhood I was deprived of a mother's care, but the
tenderness of my surviving parent made her loss, as to my welfare,
almost unfelt. Suffer me here to do justice to the character of my
noble father. He united in an eminent degree the mild virtues of
social life, with the firm unbending qualities of the noble Romans,
his ancestors, from whom he was proud to trace his descent. Their
merit, indeed, continually dwelt on his tongue, and their actions he
was always endeavouring to imitate, as far as was consistent with the
character of his times, and with the limited sphere in which he moved.
The recollection of his virtue elevates my mind, and fills my heart
with a noble pride, which even the cold walls of a monastery have not
been able to subdue.

'My father's fortune was unsuitable to his rank. That his son might
hereafter be enabled to support the dignity of his family, it was
necessary for me to assume the veil. Alas! that heart was unfit to be
offered at an heavenly shrine, which was already devoted to an earthly
object. My affections had long been engaged by the younger son of a
neighbouring nobleman, whose character and accomplishments attracted
my early love, and confirmed my latest esteem. Our families were
intimate, and our youthful intercourse occasioned an attachment which
strengthened and expanded with our years. He solicited me of my
father, but there appeared an insuperable barrier to our union. The
family of my lover laboured under a circumstance of similar distress
with that of my own--it was noble--but poor! My father, who was
ignorant of the strength of my affection, and who considered a
marriage formed in poverty as destructive to happiness, prohibited his
suit.

'Touched with chagrin and disappointment, he immediately entered into
the service of his Neapolitan majesty, and sought in the tumultuous
scenes of glory, a refuge from the pangs of disappointed passion.

'To me, whose hours moved in one round of full uniformity--who had no
pursuit to interest--no variety to animate my drooping spirits--to me
the effort of forgetfulness was ineffectual. The loved idea of Angelo
still rose upon my fancy, and its powers of captivation, heightened by
absence, and, perhaps even by despair, pursued me with incessant
grief. I concealed in silence the anguish that preyed upon my heart,
and resigned myself a willing victim to monastic austerity. But I was
now threatened with a new evil, terrible and unexpected. I was so
unfortunate as to attract the admiration of the Marquis Marinelli, and
he applied to my father. He was illustrious at once in birth and
fortune, and his visits could only be unwelcome to me. Dreadful was
the moment in which my father disclosed to me the proposal. My
distress, which I vainly endeavoured to command, discovered the exact
situation of my heart, and my father was affected.

'After along and awful pause, he generously released me from my
sufferings by leaving it to my choice to accept the marquis, or to
assume the veil. I fell at his feet, overcome by the noble
disinterestedness of his conduct, and instantly accepted the latter.

'This affair removed entirely the disguise with which I had hitherto
guarded my heart;--my brother--my generous brother! learned the true
state of its affections. He saw the grief which prayed upon my health;
he observed it to my father, and he nobly--oh how nobly! to restore my
happiness, desired to resign apart of the estate which had already
descended to him in right of his mother. Alas! Hippolitus,' continued
Cornelia, deeply sighing, 'thy virtues deserved a better fate.'

'Hippolitus!' said Julia, in a tremulous accent, 'Hippolitus, Count de
Vereza!'--'The same,' replied the nun, in a tone of surprize. Julia
was speechless; tears, however, came to her relief. The astonishment
of Cornelia for some moment surpassed expression; at length a gleam of
recollection crossed her mind, and she too well understood the scene
before her. Julia, after some time revived, when Cornelia tenderly
approaching her, 'Do I then embrace my sister!' said she. 'United in
sentiment, are we also united in misfortune?' Julia answered with her
sighs, and their tears flowed in mournful sympathy together. At length
Cornelia resumed her narrative.

'My father, struck with the conduct of Hippolitus, paused upon the
offer. The alteration in my health was too obvious to escape his
notice; the conflict between pride and parental tenderness, held him
for some time in indecision, but the latter finally subdued every
opposing feeling, and he yielded his consent to my marriage with
Angelo. The sudden transition from grief to joy was almost too much
for my feeble frame; judge then what must have been the effect of the
dreadful reverse, when the news arrived that Angelo had fallen in a
foreign engagement! Let me obliterate, if possible, the impression of
sensations so dreadful. The sufferings of my brother, whose generous
heart could so finely feel for another's woe, were on this occasion
inferior only to my own.

'After the first excess of my grief was subsided, I desired to retire
from a world which had tempted me only with illusive visions of
happiness, and to remove from those scenes which prompted
recollection, and perpetuated my distress. My father applauded my
resolution, and I immediately was admited a noviciate into this
monastery, with the Superior of which my father had in his youth been
acquainted.

'At the expiration of the year I received the veil. Oh! I well
remember with what perfect resignation, with what comfortable
complacency I took those vows which bound me to a life of retirement,
and religious rest.

'The high importance of the moment, the solemnity of the ceremony, the
sacred glooms which surrounded me, and the chilling silence that
prevailed when I uttered the irrevocable vow--all conspired to impress
my imagination, and to raise my views to heaven. When I knelt at the
altar, the sacred flame of pure devotion glowed in my heart, and
elevated my soul to sublimity. The world and all its recollections
faded from my mind, and left it to the influence of a serene and, holy
enthusiasm which no words can describe.

'Soon after my noviciation, I had the misfortune to lose my dear
father. In the tranquillity of this monastery, however, in the
soothing kindness of my companions, and in devotional exercises, my
sorrows found relief, and the sting of grief was blunted. My repose
was of short continuance. A circumstance occurred that renewed the
misery, which, can now never quit me but in the grave, to which I look
with no fearful apprehension, but as a refuge from calamity, trusting
that the power who has seen good to afflict me, will pardon the
imperfectness of my devotion, and the too frequent wandering of my
thoughts to the object once so dear to me.'

As she spoke she raised her eyes, which beamed with truth and meek
assurance to heaven; and the fine devotional suffusion of her
countenance seemed to characterize the beauty of an inspired saint.

'One day, Oh! never shall I forget it, I went as usual to the
confessional to acknowledge my sins. I knelt before the father with
eyes bent towards the earth, and in a low voice proceeded to confess.
I had but one crime to deplore, and that was the too tender
remembrance of him for whom I mourned, and whose idea, impressed upon
my heart, made it a blemished offering to God.

'I was interrupted in my confession by a sound of deep sobs, and
rising my eyes, Oh God, what were my sensations, when in the features
of the holy father I discovered Angelo! His image faded like a vision
from my sight, and I sunk at his feet. On recovering I found myself on
my matrass, attended by a sister, who I discovered by her conversation
had no suspicion of the occasion of my disorder. Indisposition
confined me to my bed for several days; when I recovered, I saw Angelo
no more, and could almost have doubted my senses, and believed that an
illusion had crossed my sight, till one day I found in my cell a
written paper. I distinguished at the first glance the handwriting of
Angelo, that well-known hand which had so often awakened me to other
emotions. I trembled at the sight; my beating heart acknowledged the
beloved characters; a cold tremor shook my frame, and half breathless
I seized the paper. But recollecting myself, I paused--I hesitated:
duty at length yielded to the strong temptation, and I read the lines!
Oh! those lines prompted by despair, and bathed in my tears! every
word they offered gave a new pang to my heart, and swelled its anguish
almost beyond endurance. I learned that Angelo, severely wounded in a
foreign engagement, had been left for dead upon the field; that his
life was saved by the humanity of a common soldier of the enemy, who
perceiving signs of existence, conveyed him to a house. Assistance was
soon procured, but his wounds exhibited the most alarming symptoms.
During several months he languished between life and death, till at
length his youth and constitution surmounted the conflict, and he
returned to Naples. Here he saw my brother, whose distress and
astonishment at beholding him occasioned a relation of past
circumstances, and of the vows I had taken in consequence of the
report of his death. It is unnecessary to mention the immediate effect
of this narration; the final one exhibited a very singular proof of
his attachment and despair;--he devoted himself to a monastic life,
and chose this abbey for the place of his residence, because it
contained the object most dear to his affections. His letter informed
me that he had purposely avoided discovering himself, endeavouring to
be contented with the opportunities which occurred of silently
observing me, till chance had occasioned the foregoing interview.--But
that since its effects had been so mutually painful, he would relieve
me from the apprehension of a similar distress, by assuring me, that I
should see him no more. He was faithful to his promise; from that day
I have never seen him, and am even ignorant whether he yet inhabits
this asylum; the efforts of religious fortitude, and the just fear of
exciting curiosity, having withheld me from enquiry. But the moment of
our last interview has been equally fatal to my peace and to my
health, and I trust I shall, ere very long, be released from the
agonizing ineffectual struggles occasioned by the consciousness of
sacred vows imperfectly performed, and by earthly affections not
wholly subdued.'

Cornelia ceased, and Julia, who had listened to the narrative in deep
attention, at once admired, loved, and pitied her. As the sister of
Hippolitus, her heart expanded towards her, and it was now inviolably
attached by the fine ties of sympathetic sorrow. Similarity of
sentiment and suffering united them in the firmest bonds of
friendship; and thus, from reciprocation of thought and feeling,
flowed a pure and sweet consolation.

Julia loved to indulge in the mournful pleasure of conversing of
Hippolitus, and when thus engaged, the hours crept unheeded by. A
thousand questions she repeated concerning him, but to those most
interesting to her, she received no consolatory answer. Cornelia, who
had heard of the fatal transaction at the castle of Mazzini, deplored
with her its too certain consequence.



CHAPTER X

Julia accustomed herself to walk in the fine evenings under the shade
of the high trees that environed the abbey. The dewy coolness of the
air refreshed her. The innumerable roseate tints which the parting
sun-beams reflected on the rocks above, and the fine vermil glow
diffused over the romantic scene beneath, softly fading from the eye,
as the nightshades fell, excited sensations of a sweet and tranquil
nature, and soothed her into a temporary forgetfulness of her sorrows.

The deep solitude of the place subdued her apprehension, and one
evening she ventured with Madame de Menon to lengthen her walk. They
returned to the abbey without having seen a human being, except a
friar of the monastery, who had been to a neighbouring town to order
provision. On the following evening they repeated their walk; and,
engaged in conversation, rambled to a considerable distance from the
abbey. The distant bell of the monastery sounding for vespers,
reminded them of the hour, and looking round, they perceived the
extremity of the wood. They were returning towards the abbey, when
struck by the appearance of some majestic columns which were
distinguishable between the trees, they paused. Curiosity tempted them
to examine to what edifice pillars of such magnificent architecture
could belong, in a scene so rude, and they went on.

There appeared on a point of rock impending over the valley the
reliques of a palace, whose beauty time had impaired only to heighten
its sublimity. An arch of singular magnificence remained almost
entire, beyond which appeared wild cliffs retiring in grand
perspective. The sun, which was now setting, threw a trembling lustre
upon the ruins, and gave a finishing effect to the scene. They gazed
in mute wonder upon the view; but the fast fading light, and the dewy
chillness of the air, warned them to return. As Julia gave a last
look to the scene, she perceived two men leaning upon a part of the
ruin at some distance, in earnest conversation. As they spoke, their
looks were so attentively bent on her, that she could have no doubt
she was the subject of their discourse. Alarmed at this circumstance,
madame and Julia immediately retreated towards the abbey. They walked
swiftly through the woods, whose shades, deepened by the gloom of
evening, prevented their distinguishing whether they were pursued.
They were surprized to observe the distance to which they had strayed
from the monastery, whose dark towers were now obscurely seen rising
among the trees that closed the perspective. They had almost reached
the gates, when on looking back, they perceived the same men slowly
advancing, without any appearance of pursuit, but clearly as if
observing the place of their retreat.

This incident occasioned Julia much alarm. She could not but believe
that the men whom she had seen were spies of the marquis;--if so, her
asylum was discovered, and she had every thing to apprehend. Madame
now judged it necessary to the safety of Julia, that the _Abate_
should be informed of her story, and of the sanctuary she had sought
in his monastery, and also that he should be solicited to protect her
from parental tyranny. This was a hazardous, but a necessary step, to
provide against the certain danger which must ensue, should the
marquis, if he demanded his daughter of the _Abate_, be the first to
acquaint him with her story. If she acted otherwise, she feared that
the _Abate_, in whose generosity she had not confided, and whose pity
she had not solicited, would, in the pride of his resentment, deliver
her up, and thus would she become a certain victim to the Duke de
Luovo.

Julia approved of this communication, though she trembled for the
event; and requested madame to plead her cause with the _Abate_. On
the following morning, therefore, madame solicited a private audience
of the _Abate_; she obtained permission to see him, and Julia, in
trembling anxiety, watched her to the door of his apartment. This
conference was long, and every moment seemed an hour to Julia, who, in
fearful expectation, awaited with Cornelia the sentence which would
decide her destiny. She was now the constant companion of Cornelia,
whose declining health interested her pity, and strengthened her
attachment.

Meanwhile madame developed to the _Abate_ the distressful story of
Julia. She praised her virtues, commended her accomplishments, and
deplored her situation. She described the characters of the marquis
and the duke, and concluded with pathetically representing, that Julia
had sought in this monastery, a last asylum from injustice and misery,
and with entreating that the _Abate_ would grant her his pity and
protection.

The _Abate_ during this discourse preserved a sullen silence; his eyes
were bent to the ground, and his aspect was thoughful and solemn. When
madame ceased to speak, a pause of profound silence ensued, and she
sat in anxious expectation. She endeavoured to anticipate in his
countenance the answer preparing, but she derived no comfort from
thence. At length raising his head, and awakening from his deep
reverie, he told her that her request required deliberation, and that
the protection she solicited for Julia, might involve him in serious
consequences, since, from a character so determined as the marquis's,
much violence might reasonably be expected. 'Should his daughter be
refused him,' concluded the _Abate_, 'he may even dare to violate the
sanctuary.'

Madame, shocked by the stern indifference of this reply, was a moment
silent. The _Abate_ went on. 'Whatever I shall determine upon, the
young lady has reason to rejoice that she is admitted into this holy
house; for I will even now venture to assure her, that if the marquis
fails to demand her, she shall be permitted to remain in this
sanctuary unmolested. You, Madam, will be sensible of this indulgence,
and of the value of the sacrifice I make in granting it; for, in thus
concealing a child from her parent, I encourage her in disobedience,
and consequently sacrifice my sense of duty, to what may be justly
called a weak humanity.'

Madame listened to pompous declamation in silent sorrow and
indignation. She made another effort to interest the _Abate_ in favor
of Julia, but he preserved his stern inflexibility, and repeating that
he would deliberate upon the matter, and acquaint her with the result,
he arose with great solemnity, and quitted the room.

She now half repented of the confidence she had reposed in him, and of
the pity she had solicited, since he discovered a mind incapable of
understanding the first, and a temper inaccessible to the influence of
the latter. With an heavy heart she returned to Julia, who read in her
countenance, at the moment she entered the room, news of no happy
import. When madame related the particulars of the conference, Julia
presaged from it only misery, and giving herself up for lost--she
burst into tears. She severely deplored the confidence she had been
induced to yield; for she now saw herself in the power of a man, stern
and unfeeling in his nature: and from whom, if he thought it fit to
betray her, she had no means of escaping. But she concealed the
anguish of her heart; and to console madame, affected to hope where
she could only despair.

Several days elapsed, and no answer was returned from the _Abate_.
Julia too well understood this silence.

One morning Cornelia entering her room with a disturbed and impatient
air, informed her that some emissaries from the marquis were then in
the monastery, having enquired at the gate for the _Abate_, with whom,
they said, they had business of importance to transact. The _Abate_
had granted them immediate audience, and they were now in close
conference.

At this intelligence the spirits of Julia forsook her; she trembled,
grew pale, and stood fixed in mute despair. Madame, though scarcely
less distressed, retained a presence of mind. She understood too
justly the character of the Superior to doubt that he would hesitate
in delivering Julia to the hands of the marquis. On this moment,
therefore, turned the crisis of her fate!--this moment she might
escape--the next she was a prisoner. She therefore advised Julia to
seize the instant, and fly from the monastery before the conference
was concluded, when the gates would most probably be closed upon her,
assuring her, at the same time, she would accompany her in flight.

The generous conduct of madame called tears of gratitude into the eyes
of Julia, who now awoke from the state of stupefaction which distress
had caused. But before she could thank her faithful friend, a nun
entered the room with a summons for madame to attend the _Abate_
immediately. The distress which this message occasioned can not easily
be conceived. Madame advised Julia to escape while she detained the
_Abate_ in conversation, as it was not probable that he had yet issued
orders for her detention. Leaving her to this attempt, with an
assurance of following her from the abbey as soon as possible, madame
obeyed the summons. The coolness of her fortitude forsook her as she
approached the _Abate_'s apartment, and she became less certain as to
the occasion of this summons.

The _Abate_ was alone. His countenance was pale with anger, and he was
pacing the room with slow but agitated steps. The stern authority of
his look startled her. 'Read this letter,' said he, stretching forth
his hand which held a letter, 'and tell me what that mortal deserves,
who dares insult our holy order, and set our sacred prerogative at
defiance.' Madame distinguished the handwriting of the marquis, and
the words of the Superior threw her into the utmost astonishment. She
took the letter. It was dictated by that spirit of proud vindictive
rage, which so strongly marked the character of the marquis. Having
discovered the retreat of Julia, and believing the monastery afforded
her a willing sanctuary from his pursuit, he accused the _Abate_ of
encouraging his child in open rebellion to his will. He loaded him and
his sacred order with opprobrium, and threatened, if she was not
immediately resigned to the emissaries in waiting, he would in person
lead on a force which should compel the church to yield to the
superior authority of the father.

The spirit of the _Abate_ was roused by this menace; and Julia
obtained from his pride, that protection which neither his principle
or his humanity would have granted. 'The man shall tremble,' cried he,
'who dares defy our power, or question our sacred authority. The lady
Julia is safe. I will protect her from this proud invader of our
rights, and teach him at least to venerate the power he cannot
conquer. I have dispatched his emissaries with my answer.'

These words struck sudden joy upon the heart of Madame de Menon, but
she instantly recollected, that ere this time Julia had quitted the
abbey, and thus the very precaution which was meant to ensure her
safety, had probably precipitated her into the hand of her enemy. This
thought changed her joy to anguish; and she was hurrying from the
apartment in a sort of wild hope, that Julia might not yet be gone,
when the stern voice of the _Abate_ arrested her. 'Is it thus,' cried
he, 'that you receive the knowledge of our generous resolution to
protect your friend? Does such condescending kindness merit no
thanks--demand no gratitude?' Madame returned in an agony of fear,
lest one moment of delay might prove fatal to Julia, if haply she had
not yet quitted the monastery. She was conscious of her deficiency in
apparent gratitude, and of the strange appearance of her abrupt
departure from the _Abate_, for which it was impossible to apologize,
without betraying the secret, which would kindle all his resentment.
Yet some atonement his present anger demanded, and these circumstances
caused her a very painful embarrassment. She formed a hasty excuse;
and expressing her sense of his goodness, again attempted to retire,
when the _Abate_ frowning in deep resentment, his features inflamed
with pride, arose from his seat. 'Stay,' said he; 'whence this
impatience to fly from the presence of a benefactor?--If my generosity
fails to excite gratitude, my resentment shall not fail to inspire
awe.--Since the lady Julia is insensible of my condescension, she is
unworthy of my protection, and I will resign her to the tyrant who
demands her.'

To this speech, in which the offended pride of the _Abate_ overcoming
all sense of justice, accused and threatened to punish Julia for the
fault of her friend, madame listened in dreadful impatience. Every
word that detained her struck torture to her heart, but the concluding
sentence occasioned new terror, and she started at its purpose. She
fell at the feet of the _Abate_ in an agony of grief. 'Holy father,'
said she, 'punish not Julia for the offence which I only have
committed; her heart will bless her generous protector, and for
myself, suffer me to assure you that I am fully sensible of your
goodness.'

'If this is true,' said the _Abate_, 'arise, and bid the lady Julia
attend me.' This command increased the confusion of madame, who had no
doubt that her detention had proved fatal to Julia. At length she was
suffered to depart, and to her infinite joy found Julia in her own
room. Her intention of escaping had yielded, immediately after the
departure of madame, to the fear of being discovered by the marquis's
people. This fear had been confirmed by the report of Cornelia, who
informed her, that at that time several horsemen were waiting at the
gates for the return of their companions. This was a dreadful
circumstance to Julia, who perceived it was utterly impossible to quit
the monastery, without rushing upon certain destruction. She was
lamenting her destiny, when madame recited the particulars of the late
interview, and delivered the summons of the _Abate_.

They had now to dread the effect of that tender anxiety, which had
excited his resentment; and Julia, suddenly elated to joy by his first
determination, was as suddenly sunk to despair by his last. She
trembled with apprehension of the coming interview, though each moment
of delay which her fear solicited, would, by heightening the
resentment of the _Abate_, only increase the danger she dreaded.

At length, by a strong effort, she reanimated her spirits, and went to
the Abate's closet to receive her sentence. He was seated in his
chair, and his frowning aspect chilled her heart. 'Daughter,' said he,
'you have been guilty of heinous crimes. You have dared to
dispute--nay openly to rebel, against the lawful authority of your
father. You have disobeyed the will of him whose prerogative yields
only to ours. You have questioned his right upon a point of all others
the most decided--the right of a father to dispose of his child in
marriage. You have even fled from his protection--and you have
dared--insidiously, and meanly have dared, to screen your disobedience
beneath this sacred roof. You have prophaned our sanctuary with your
crime. You have brought insult upon our sacred order, and have caused
bold and impious defiance of our high prerogative. What punishment is
adequate to guilt like this?'

The father paused--his eyes sternly fixed on Julia, who, pale and
trembling, could scarcely support herself, and who had no power to
reply. 'I will be merciful, and not just,' resumed he,--'I will soften
the punishment you deserve, and will only deliver you to your father.'
At these dreadful words, Julia bursting into tears, sunk at the feet
of the _Abate_, to whom she raised her eyes in supplicating
expression, but was unable to speak. He suffered her to remain in this
posture. 'Your duplicity,' he resumed, 'is not the least of your
offences.--Had you relied upon our generosity for forgiveness and
protection, an indulgence might have been granted;--but under the
disguise of virtue you concealed your crimes, and your necessities
were hid beneath the mask of devotion.'

These false aspersions roused in Julia the spirit of indignant virtue;
she arose from her knees with an air of dignity, that struck even the
_Abate_. 'Holy father,' said she, 'my heart abhors the crime you
mention, and disclaims all union with it. Whatever are my offences,
from the sin of hypocrisy I am at least free; and you will pardon me
if I remind you, that my confidence has already been such, as fully
justifies my claim to the protection I solicit. When I sheltered
myself within these walls, it was to be presumed that they would
protect me from injustice; and with what other term than injustice
would you, Sir, distinguish the conduct of the marquis, if the fear of
his power did not overcome the dictates of truth?'

The _Abate_ felt the full force of this reproof; but disdaining to
appear sensible to it, restrained his resentment. His wounded pride
thus exasperated, and all the malignant passions of his nature thus
called into action, he was prompted to that cruel surrender which he
had never before seriously intended. The offence which Madame de
Menon had unintentionally given his haughty spirit urged him to
retaliate in punishment. He had, therefore, pleased himself with
exciting a terror which he never meant to confirm, and he resolved to
be further solicited for that protection which he had already
determined to grant. But this reproof of Julia touched him where he
was most conscious of defect; and the temporary triumph which he
imagined it afforded her, kindled his resentment into flame. He mused
in his chair, in a fixed attitude.--She saw in his countenance the
deep workings of his mind--she revolved the fate preparing for her,
and stood in trembling anxiety to receive her sentence. The _Abate_
considered each aggravating circumstance of the marquis's menace, and
each sentence of Julia's speech; and his mind experienced that vice is
not only inconsistent with virtue, but with itself--for to gratify his
malignity, he now discovered that it would be necessary to sacrifice
his pride--since it would be impossible to punish the object of the
first without denying himself the gratification of the latter. This
reflection suspended his mind in a state of torture, and he sat wrapt
in gloomy silence.

The spirit which lately animated Julia had vanished with her
words--each moment of silence increased her apprehension; the deep
brooding of his thoughts confirmed her in the apprehension of evil,
and with all the artless eloquence of sorrow she endeavoured to soften
him to pity. He listened to her pleadings in sullen stillness. But
each instant now cooled the fervour of his resentment to her, and
increased his desire of opposing the marquis. At length the
predominant feature of his character resumed its original influence,
and overcame the workings of subordinate passion. Proud of his
religious authority, he determined never to yield the prerogative of
the church to that of the father, and resolved to oppose the violence
of the marquis with equal force.

He therefore condescended to relieve Julia from her terrors, by
assuring her of his protection; but he did this in a manner so
ungracious, as almost to destroy the gratitude which the promise
demanded. She hastened with the joyful intelligence to Madame de
Menon, who wept over her tears of thankfulness.



CHAPTER XI

Near a fortnight had elapsed without producing any appearance of
hostility from the marquis, when one night, long after the hour of
repose, Julia was awakened by the bell of the monastery. She knew it
was not the hour customary for prayer, and she listened to the sounds,
which rolled through the deep silence of the fabric, with strong
surprise and terror. Presently she heard the doors of several cells
creak on their hinges, and the sound of quick footsteps in the
passages--and through the crevices of her door she distinguished
passing lights. The whispering noise of steps increased, and every
person of the monastery seemed to have awakened. Her terror
heightened; it occurred to her that the marquis had surrounded the
abbey with his people, in the design of forcing her from her retreat;
and she arose in haste, with an intention of going to the chamber of
Madame de Menon, when she heard a gentle tap at the door. Her enquiry
of who was there, was answered in the voice of madame, and her fears
were quickly dissipated, for she learned the bell was a summons to
attend a dying nun, who was going to the high altar, there to receive
extreme unction.

She quitted the chamber with madame. In her way to the church, the
gleam of tapers on the walls, and the glimpse which her eye often
caught of the friars in their long black habits, descending silently
through the narrow winding passages, with the solemn toll of the bell,
conspired to kindle imagination, and to impress her heart with sacred
awe. But the church exhibited a scene of solemnity, such as she had
never before witnessed. Its gloomy aisles were imperfectly seen by the
rays of tapers from the high altar, which shed a solitary gleam over
the remote parts of the fabric, and produced large masses of light and
shade, striking and sublime in their effect.

While she gazed, she heard a distant chanting rise through the aisles;
the sounds swelled in low murmurs on the ear, and drew nearer and
nearer, till a sudden blaze of light issued from one of the portals,
and the procession entered. The organ instantly sounded a high and
solemn peal, and the voices rising altogether swelled the sacred
strain. In front appeared the _Padre Abate_, with slow and measured
steps, bearing the holy cross. Immediately followed a litter, on which
lay the dying person covered with a white veil, borne along and
surrounded by nuns veiled in white, each carrying in her hand a
lighted taper. Last came the friars, two and two, cloathed in black,
and each bearing a light.

When they reached the high altar, the bier was rested, and in a few
moments the anthem ceased. 'The _Abate_ now approached to perform the
unction; the veil of the dying nun was lifted--and Julia discovered
her beloved Cornelia! Her countenance was already impressed with the
image of death, but her eyes brightened with a faint gleam of
recollection, when they fixed upon Julia, who felt a cold thrill run
through her frame, and leaned for support on madame. Julia now for
the first time distinguished the unhappy lover of Cornelia, on whose
features was depictured the anguish of his heart, and who hung pale
and silent over the bier. The ceremony being finished, the anthem
struck up; the bier was lifted, when Cornelia faintly moved her hand,
and it was again rested upon the steps of the altar. In a few minutes
the music ceased, when lifting her heavy eyes to her lover, with an
expression of ineffable tenderness and grief, she attempted to speak,
but the sounds died on her closing lips. A faint smile passed over her
countenance, and was succeeded by a fine devotional glow; she folded
her hands upon her bosom, and with a look of meek resignation, raising
towards heaven her eyes, in which now sunk the last sparkles of
expiring life--her soul departed in a short deep sigh.

Her lover sinking back, endeavoured to conceal his emotions, but the
deep sobs which agitated his breast betrayed his anguish, and the
tears of every spectator bedewed the sacred spot where beauty, sense,
and innocence expired.

The organ now swelled in mournful harmony; and the voices of the
assembly chanted in choral strain, a low and solemn requiem to the
spirit of the departed.

Madame hurried Julia, who was almost as lifeless as her departed
friend, from the church. A death so sudden heightened the grief which
separation would otherwise have occasioned. It was the nature of
Cornelia's disorder to wear a changeful but flattering aspect. Though
she had long been declining, her decay was so gradual and
imperceptible as to lull the apprehensions of her friends into
security. It was otherwise with herself; she was conscious of the
change, but forbore to afflict them with the knowledge of the truth.
The hour of her dissolution was sudden, even to herself; but it was
composed, and even happy. In the death of Cornelia, Julia seemed to
mourn again that of Hippolitus. Her decease appeared to dissolve the
last tie which connected her with his memory.

In one of the friars of the convent, madame was surprized to find the
father who had confessed the dying Vincent. His appearance revived the
remembrance of the scene she had witnessed at the castle of Mazzini;
and the last words of Vincent, combined with the circumstances which
had since occurred, renewed all her curiosity and astonishment. But
his appearance excited more sensations than those of wonder. She
dreaded lest he should be corrupted by the marquis, to whom he was
known, and thus be induced to use his interest with the _Abate_ for
the restoration of Julia.

From the walls of the monastery, Julia now never ventured to stray. In
the gloom of evening she sometimes stole into the cloisters, and often
lingered at the grave of Cornelia, where she wept for Hippolitus, as
well as for her friend. One evening, during vespers, the bell of the
convent was suddenly rang out; the _Abate_, whose countenance
expressed at once astonishment and displeasure, suspended the service,
and quitted the altar. The whole congregation repaired to the hall,
where they learned that a friar, retiring to the convent, had seen a
troop of armed men advancing through the wood; and not doubting they
were the people of the marquis, and were approaching with hostile
intention, had thought it necessary to give the alarm. The _Abate_
ascended a turret, and thence discovered through the trees a
glittering of arms, and in the succeeding moment a band of men issued
from a dark part of the wood, into a long avenue which immediately
fronted the spot where he stood. The clattering of hoofs was now
distinctly heard; and Julia, sinking with terror, distinguished the
marquis heading the troops, which, soon after separating in two
divisions, surrounded the monastery. The gates were immediately
secured; and the _Abate_, descending from the turret, assembled the
friars in the hall, where his voice was soon heard above every other
part of the tumult. The terror of Julia made her utterly forgetful of
the _Padre_'s promise, and she wished to fly for concealment to the
deep caverns belonging to the monastery, which wound under the woods.
Madame, whose penetration furnished her with a just knowledge of the
_Abate_'s character, founded her security on his pride. She therefore
dissuaded Julia from attempting to tamper with the honesty of a
servant who had the keys of the vaults, and advised her to rely
entirely on the effect of the _Abate_'s resentment towards the
marquis. While madame endeavoured to soothe her to composure, a
message from the _Abate_ required her immediate attendance. She
obeyed, and he bade her follow him to a room which was directly over
the gates of the monastery. From thence she saw her father,
accompanied by the Duke de Luovo; and as her spirits died away at the
sight, the marquis called furiously to the _Abate_ to deliver her
instantly into his hands, threatening, if she was detained, to force
the gates of the monastery. At this threat the countenance of the
_Abate_ grew dark: and leading Julia forcibly to the window, from
which she had shrunk back, 'Impious menacer!' said he, 'eternal
vengeance be upon thee! From this moment we expel thee from all the
rights and communities of our church. Arrogant and daring as you are,
your threats I defy--Look here,' said he, pointing to Julia, 'and
learn that you are in my power; for if you dare to violate these
sacred walls, I will proclaim aloud, in the face of day, a secret
which shall make your heart's blood run cold; a secret which involves
your honour, nay, your very existence. Now triumph and exult in
impious menace!' The marquis started involuntarily at this speech, and
his features underwent a sudden change, but he endeavoured to recover
himself, and to conceal his confusion. He hesitated for a few moments,
uncertain how to act--to desist from violence was to confess himself
conscious of the threatened secret; yet he dreaded to inflame the
resentment of the _Abate_, whose menaces his own heart too surely
seconded. At length--'All that you have uttered,' said he, 'I despise
as the dastardly subterfuge of monkish cunning. Your new insults add
to the desire of recovering my daughter, that of punishing you. I
would proceed to instant violence, but that would now be an imperfect
revenge. I shall, therefore, withdraw my forces, and appeal to a
higher power. Thus shall you be compelled at once to restore my
daughter and retract your scandalous impeachment of my honor.' Saying
this, the turned his horse from the gates, and his people following
him, quickly withdrew, leaving the _Abate_ exulting in conquest, and
Julia lost in astonishment and doubtful joy. When she recounted to
madame the particulars of the conference, she dwelt with emphasis on
the threats of the _Abate_; but madame, though her amazement was
heightened at every word, very well understood how the secret,
whatever it was, had been obtained. The confessor of Vincent she had
already observed in the monastery, and there was no doubt that he had
disclosed whatever could be collected from the dying words of Vincent.
She knew, also, that the secret would never be published, unless as a
punishment for immediate violence, it being one of the first
principles of monastic duty, to observe a religious secrecy upon all
matters entrusted to them in confession.

When the first tumult of Julia's emotions subsided, the joy which the
sudden departure of the marquis occasioned yielded to apprehension. He
had threatened to appeal to a higher power, who would compel the
_Abate_ to surrender her. This menace excited a just terror, and there
remained no means of avoiding the tyranny of the marquis but by
quitting the monastery. She therefore requested an audience of the
_Abate_; and having represented the danger of her present situation,
she intreated his permission to depart in quest of a safer retreat.
The _Abate_, who well knew the marquis was wholly in his power, smiled
at the repetition of his menaces, and denied her request, under
pretence of his having now become responsible for her to the church.
He bade her be comforted, and promised her his protection; but his
assurances were given in so distant and haughty a manner, that Julia
left him with fears rather increased than subdued. In crossing the
hall, she observed a man hastily enter it, from an opposite door. He
was not in the habit of the order, but was muffled up in a cloak, and
seemed to wish concealment. As she passed he raised his head, and
Julia discovered--her father! He darted at her a look of vengeance;
but before she had time even to think, as if suddenly recollecting
himself, he covered his face, and rushed by her. Her trembling frame
could scarcely support her to the apartment of madame, where she sunk
speechless upon a chair, and the terror of her look alone spoke the
agony of her mind. When she was somewhat recovered, she related what
she had seen, and her conversation with the _Abate_. But madame was
lost in equal perplexity with herself, when she attempted to account
for the marquis's appearance. Why, after his late daring menace,
should he come secretly to visit the _Abate_, by whose connivance
alone he could have gained admission to the monastery? And what could
have influenced the _Abate_ to such a conduct? These circumstances,
though equally inexplicable, united to confirm a fear of treachery and
surrender. To escape from the abbey was now inpracticable, for the
gates were constantly guarded; and even was it possible to pass them,
certain detection awaited Julia without from the marquis's people, who
were stationed in the woods. Thus encompassed with danger, she could
only await in the monastery the issue of her destiny.

While she was lamenting with madame her unhappy fate, she was summoned
once more to attend the _Abate_. At this moment her spirits entirely
forsook her; the crisis of her fate seemed arrived; for she did not
doubt that the _Abate_ intended to surrender her to the marquis, with
whom she supposed he had negotiated the terms of accommodation. It was
some time before she could recover composure sufficient to obey the
summons; and when she did, every step that bore her towards the
_Abate_'s room increased her dread. She paused a moment at the door,
'ere she had courage to open it; the idea of her father's immediate
resentment arose to her mind, and she was upon the point of retreating
to her chamber, when a sudden step within, near the door, destroyed
her hesitation, and she entered the closet. The marquis was not there,
and her spirits revived. The flush of triumph was diffused over the
features of the _Abate_, though a shade of unappeased resentment yet
remained visible. 'Daughter,' said he, 'the intelligence we have to
communicate may rejoice you. Your safety now depends solely on
yourself. I give your fate into your own hands, and its issue be upon
your head.' He paused, and she was suspended in wondering expectation
of the coming sentence. 'I here solemnly assure you of my protection,
but it is upon one condition only--that you renounce the world, and
dedicate your days to God.' Julia listened with a mixture of grief and
astonishment. 'Without this concession on your part, I possess not the
power, had I even the inclination, to protect you. If you assume the
veil, you are safe within the pale of the church from temporal
violence. If you neglect or refuse to do this, the marquis may apply
to a power from whom I have no appeal, and I shall be compelled at
last to resign you.

'But to ensure your safety, should the veil be your choice, we will
procure a dispensation from the usual forms of noviciation, and a few
days shall confirm your vows.' He ceased to speak; but Julia, agitated
with the most cruel distress, knew not what to reply. 'We grant you
three days to decide upon this matter,' continued he, 'at the
expiration of which, the veil, or the Duke de Luovo, awaits you.'
Julia quitted the closet in mute despair, and repaired to madame, who
could now scarcely offer her the humble benefit of consolation.

Meanwhile the _Abate_ exulted in successful vengeance, and the marquis
smarted beneath the stings of disappointment. The menace of the
former was too seriously alarming to suffer the marquis to prosecute
violent measures; and he had therefore resolved, by opposing avarice
to pride, to soothe the power which he could not subdue. But he was
unwilling to entrust the _Abate_ with a proof of his compliance and
his fears by offering a bribe in a letter, and preferred the more
humiliating, but safer method, of a private interview. His
magnificent offers created a temporary hesitation in the mind of the
_Abate_, who, secure of his advantage, shewed at first no disposition
to be reconciled, and suffered the marquis to depart in anxious
uncertainty. After maturely deliberating upon the proposals, the pride
of the _Abate_ surmounted his avarice, and he determined to prevail
upon Julia effectually to destroy the hopes of the marquis, by
consecrating her life to religion. Julia passed the night and the next
day in a state of mental torture exceeding all description. The gates
of the monastery beset with guards, and the woods surrounded by the
marquis's people, made escape impossible. From a marriage with the
duke, whose late conduct had confirmed the odious idea which his
character had formerly impressed, her heart recoiled in horror, and to
be immured for life within the walls of a convent, was a fate little
less dreadful. Yet such was the effect of that sacred love she bore
the memory of Hippolitus, and such her aversion to the duke, that she
soon resolved to adopt the veil. On the following evening she informed
the _Abate_ of her determination. His heart swelled with secret joy;
and even the natural severity of his manner relaxed at the
intelligence. He assured her of his approbation and protection, with a
degree of kindness which he had never before manifested, and told her
the ceremony should be performed on the second day from the present.
Her emotion scarcely suffered her to hear his last words. Now that her
fate was fixed beyond recall, she almost repented of her choice. Her
fancy attached to it a horror not its own; and that evil, which, when
offered to her decision, she had accepted with little hesitation, she
now paused upon in dubious regret; so apt we are to imagine that the
calamity most certain, is also the most intolerable!

When the marquis read the answer of the _Abate_, all the baleful
passions of his nature were roused and inflamed to a degree which
bordered upon distraction. In the first impulse of his rage, he would
have forced the gates of the monastery, and defied the utmost malice
of his enemy. But a moment's reflection revived his fear of the
threatened secret, and he saw that he was still in the power of the
Superior.

The _Abate_ procured the necessary dispensation, and preparations were
immediately began for the approaching ceremony. Julia watched the
departure of those moments which led to her fate with the calm
fortitude of despair. She had no means of escaping from the coming
evil, without exposing herself to a worse; she surveyed it therefore
with a steady eye, and no longer shrunk from its approach.

On the morning preceding the day of her consecration, she was informed
that a stranger enquired for her at the grate. Her mind had been so
long accustomed to the vicissitudes of apprehension, that fear was the
emotion which now occurred; she suspected, yet scarcely knew why, that
the marquis was below, and hesitated whether to descend. A little
reflection determined her, and she went to the parlour--where, to her
equal joy and surprise, she beheld--Ferdinand!

During the absence of the marquis from his castle, Ferdinand, who had
been informed of the discovery of Julia, effected his escape from
imprisonment, and had hastened to the monastery in the design of
rescuing her. He had passed the woods in disguise, with much
difficulty eluding the observation of the marquis's people, who were
yet dispersed round the abbey. To the monastery, as he came alone, he
had been admitted without difficulty.

When he learned the conditions of the _Abate_'s protection, and that
the following day was appointed for the consecration of Julia, he was
shocked, and paused in deliberation. A period so short as was this
interval, afforded little opportunity for contrivance, and less for
hesitation. The night of the present day was the only time that
remained for the attempt and execution of a plan of escape, which if
it then failed of success, Julia would not only be condemned for life
to the walls of a monastery, but would be subjected to whatever
punishment the severity of the _Abate_, exasperated by the detection,
should think fit to inflict. The danger was desperate, but the
occasion was desperate also.

The nobly disinterested conduct of her brother, struck Julia with
gratitude and admiration; but despair of success made her now hesitate
whether she should accept his offer. She considered that his
generosity would most probably involve him in destruction with
herself; and she paused in deep deliberation, when Ferdinand informed
her of a circumstance which, till now, he had purposely concealed, and
which at once dissolved every doubt and every fear. 'Hippolitus,' said
Ferdinand, 'yet lives.'--'Lives!' repeated Julia faintly,--'lives, Oh!
tell me where--how.'--Her breath refused to aid her, and she sunk in
her chair overcome with the strong and various sensations that pressed
upon her heart. Ferdinand, whom the grate withheld from assisting her,
observed her situation with extreme distress. When she recovered, he
informed her that a servant of Hippolitus, sent no doubt by his lord
to enquire concerning Julia, had been lately seen by one of the
marquis's people in the neighbourhood of the castle. From him it was
known that the Count de Vereza was living, but that his life had been
despaired of; and he was still confined, by dangerous wounds, in an
obscure town on the coast of Italy. The man had steadily refused to
mention the place of his lord's abode. Learning that the marquis was
then at the abbey of St Augustin, whither he pursued his daughter, the
man disappeared from Mazzini, and had not since been heard of.

It was enough for Julia to know that Hippolitus lived; her fears of
detection, and her scruples concerning Ferdinand, instantly vanished;
she thought only of escape--and the means which had lately appeared so
formidable--so difficult in contrivance, and so dangerous in
execution, now seemed easy, certain, and almost accomplished.

They consulted on the plan to be adopted, and agreed, that in
attempting to bribe a servant of the monastery to their interest, they
should incur a danger too imminent, yet it appeared scarcely
practicable to succeed in their scheme without risquing this. After
much consideration, they determined to entrust their secret to no
person but to madame. Ferdinand was to contrive to conceal himself
till the dead of night in the church, between which and the monastery
were several doors of communication. When the inhabitants of the abbey
were sunk in repose, Julia might without difficulty pass to the
church, where Ferdinand awaiting her, they might perhaps escape either
through an outer door of the fabric, or through a window, for which
latter attempt Ferdinand was to provide ropes.

A couple of horses were to be stationed among the rocks beyond the
woods, to convey the fugitives to a sea-port, whence they could easily
pass over to Italy. Having arranged this plan, they separated in the
anxious hope of meeting on the ensuing night.

Madame warmly sympathized with Julia in her present expectations, and
was now somewhat relieved from the pressure of that self-reproach,
with which the consideration of having withdrawn her young friend from
a secure asylum, had long tormented her. In learning that Hippolitus
lived, Julia experienced a sudden renovation of life and spirits.
From the languid stupefaction which despair had occasioned she revived
as from a dream, and her sensations resembled those of a person
suddenly awakened from a frightful vision, whose thoughts are yet
obscured in the fear and uncertainty which the passing images have
impressed on his fancy. She emerged from despair; joy illumined her
countenance; yet she doubted the reality of the scene which now opened
to her view. The hours rolled heavily along till the evening, when
expectation gave way to fear, for she was once more summoned by the
_Abate_. He sent for her to administer the usual necessary exhortation
on the approaching solemnity; and having detained her a considerable
time in tedious and severe discourse, dismissed her with a formal
benediction.



CHAPTER XII

The evening now sunk in darkness, and the hour was fast approaching
which would decide the fate of Julia. Trembling anxiety subdued every
other sensation; and as the minutes passed, her fears increased. At
length she heard the gates of the monastery fastened for the night;
the bell rang the signal for repose; and the passing footsteps of the
nuns told her they were hastening to obey it. After some time, all was
silent. Julia did not yet dare to venture forth; she employed the
present interval in interesting and affectionate conversation with
Madame de Menon, to whom, notwithstanding her situation, her heart
bade a sorrowful adieu.

The clock struck twelve, when she arose to depart. Having embraced her
faithful friend with tears of mingled grief and anxiety, she took a
lamp in her hand, and with cautious, fearful steps, descended through
the long winding passages to a private door, which opened into the
church of the monastery. The church was gloomy and desolate; and the
feeble rays of the lamp she bore, gave only light enough to discover
its chilling grandeur. As she passed silently along the aisles, she
cast a look of anxious examination around--but Ferdinand was no where
to be seen. She paused in timid hesitation, fearful to penetrate the
gloomy obscurity which lay before her, yet dreading to return.

As she stood examining the place, vainly looking for Ferdinand, yet
fearing to call, lest her voice should betray her, a hollow groan
arose from apart of the church very near her. It chilled her heart,
and she remained fixed to the spot. She turned her eyes a little to
the left, and saw light appear through the chinks of a sepulchre at
some distance. The groan was repeated--a low murmuring succeeded, and
while she yet gazed, an old man issued from the vault with a lighted
taper in his hand. Terror now subdued her, and she utterred an
involuntary shriek. In the succeeding moment, a noise was heard in a
remote part of the fabric; and Ferdinand rushing forth from his
concealment, ran to her assistance. The old man, who appeared to be a
friar, and who had been doing penance at the monument of a saint, now
approached. His countenance expressed a degree of surprise and terror
almost equal to that of Julia's, who knew him to be the confessor of
Vincent. Ferdinand seized the father; and laying his hand upon his
sword, threatened him with death if he did not instantly swear to
conceal for ever his knowledge of what he then saw, and also assist
them to escape from the abbey.

'Ungracious boy!' replied the father, in a calm voice, 'desist from
this language, nor add to the follies of youth the crime of murdering,
or terrifying a defenceless old man. Your violence would urge me to
become your enemy, did not previous inclination tempt me to be your
friend. I pity the distresses of the lady Julia, to whom I am no
stranger, and will cheerfully give her all the assistance in my
power.'

At these words Julia revived, and Ferdinand, reproved by the
generosity of the father, and conscious of his own inferiority, shrunk
back. 'I have no words to thank you,' said he, 'or to entreat your
pardon for the impetuosity of my conduct; your knowledge of my
situation must plead my excuse.'--'It does,' replied the father, 'but
we have no time to lose;--follow me.'

They followed him through the church to the cloisters, at the
extremity of which was a small door, which the friar unlocked. It
opened upon the woods.

'This path,' said he, 'leads thro' an intricate part of the woods, to
the rocks that rise on the right of the abbey; in their recesses you
may secrete yourselves till you are prepared for a longer journey. But
extinguish your light; it may betray you to the marquis's people, who
are dispersed about this spot. Farewell! my children, and God's
blessing be upon ye.'

Julia's tears declared her gratitude; she had no time for words. They
stepped into the path, and the father closed the door. They were now
liberated from the monastery, but danger awaited them without, which
it required all their caution to avoid. Ferdinand knew the path which
the friar had pointed out to be the same that led to the rocks where
his horses were stationed, and he pursued it with quick and silent
steps. Julia, whose fears conspired with the gloom of night to magnify
and transform every object around her, imagined at each step that she
took, she perceived the figures of men, and fancied every whisper of
the breeze the sound of pursuit.

They proceeded swiftly, till Julia, breathless and exhausted, could go
no farther. They had not rested many minutes, when they heard a
rustling among the bushes at some distance, and soon after
distinguished a low sound of voices. Ferdinand and Julia instantly
renewed their flight, and thought they still heard voices advance upon
the wind. This thought was soon confirmed, for the sounds now gained
fast upon them, and they distinguished words which served only to
heighten their apprehensions, when they reached the extremity of the
woods. The moon, which was now up, suddenly emerging from a dark
cloud, discovered to them several man in pursuit; and also shewed to
the pursuers the course of the fugitives. They endeavoured to gain the
rocks where the horses were concealed, and which now appeared in view.
These they reached when the pursuers had almost overtaken them--but
their horses were gone! Their only remaining chance of escape was to
fly into the deep recesses of the rock. They, therefore, entered a
winding cave, from whence branched several subterraneous avenues, at
the extremity of one of which they stopped. The voices of men now
vibrated in tremendous echoes through the various and secret caverns
of the place, and the sound of footsteps seemed fast approaching.
Julia trembled with terror, and Ferdinand drew his sword, determined
to protect her to the last. A confused volley of voices now sounded up
that part of the cave were Ferdinand and Julia lay concealed. In a
few moments the steps of the pursuers suddenly took a different
direction, and the sounds sunk gradually away, and were heard no more.
Ferdinand listened attentively for a considerable time, but the
stillness of the place remained undisturbed. It was now evident that
the men had quitted the rock, and he ventured forth to the mouth of
the cave. He surveyed the wilds around, as far as his eye could
penetrate, and distinguished no human being; but in the pauses of the
wind he still thought he heard a sound of distant voices. As he
listened in anxious silence, his eye caught the appearance of a
shadow, which moved upon the ground near where he stood. He started
back within the cave, but in a few minutes again ventured forth. The
shadow remained stationary, but having watched it for some time,
Ferdinand saw it glide along till it disappeared behind a point of
rock. He had now no doubt that the cave was watched, and that it was
one of his late pursuers whose shade he had seen. He returned,
therefore, to Julia, and remained near an hour hid in the deepest
recess of the rock; when, no sound having interrupted the profound
silence of the place, he at length once more ventured to the mouth of
the cave. Again he threw a fearful look around, but discerned no human
form. The soft moon-beam slept upon the dewy landscape, and the solemn
stillness of midnight wrapt the world. Fear heightened to the
fugitives the sublimity of the hour. Ferdinand now led Julia forth,
and they passed silently along the shelving foot of the rocks.

They continued their way without farther interruption; and among the
cliffs, at some distance from the cave, discovered, to their
inexpressible joy, their horses, who having broken their fastenings,
had strayed thither, and had now laid themselves down to rest.
Ferdinand and Julia immediately mounted; and descending to the plains,
took the road that led to a small sea-port at some leagues distant,
whence they could embark for Italy.

They travelled for some hours through gloomy forests of beech and
chesnut; and their way was only faintly illuminated by the moon, which
shed a trembling lustre through the dark foliage, and which was seen
but at intervals, as the passing clouds yielded to the power of her
rays. They reached at length the skirts of the forest. The grey dawn
now appeared, and the chill morning air bit shrewdly. It was with
inexpressible joy that Julia observed the kindling atmosphere; and
soon after the rays of the rising sun touching the tops of the
mountains, whose sides were yet involved in dark vapours.

Her fears dissipated with the darkness.--The sun now appeared amid
clouds of inconceivable splendour; and unveiled a scene which in other
circumstances Julia would have contemplated with rapture. From the
side of the hill, down which they were winding, a vale appeared, from
whence arose wild and lofty mountains, whose steeps were cloathed with
hanging woods, except where here and there a precipice projected its
bold and rugged front. Here, a few half-withered trees hung from the
crevices of the rock, and gave a picturesque wildness to the object;
there, clusters of half-seen cottages, rising from among tufted
groves, embellished the green margin of a stream which meandered in
the bottom, and bore its waves to the blue and distant main.

The freshness of morning breathed over the scene, and vivified each
colour of the landscape. The bright dewdrops hung trembling from the
branches of the trees, which at intervals overshadowed the road; and
the sprightly music of the birds saluted the rising day.
Notwithstanding her anxiety the scene diffused a soft complacency over
the mind of Julia.

About noon they reached the port, where Ferdinand was fortunate enough
to obtain a small vessel; but the wind was unfavourable, and it was
past midnight before it was possible for them to embark.

When the dawn appeared, Julia returned to the deck; and viewed with a
sigh of unaccountable regret, the receding coast of Sicily. But she
observed, with high admiration, the light gradually spreading through
the atmosphere, darting a feeble ray over the surface of the waters,
which rolled in solemn soundings upon the distant shores. Fiery beams
now marked the clouds, and the east glowed with increasing radiance,
till the sun rose at once above the waves, and illuminating them with
a flood of splendour, diffused gaiety and gladness around. The bold
concave of the heavens, uniting with the vast expanse of the ocean,
formed, a _coup d'oeil_, striking and sublime magnificence of the
scenery inspired Julia with delight; and her heart dilating with high
enthusiasm, she forgot the sorrows which had oppressed her.

The breeze wafted the ship gently along for some hours, when it
gradually sunk into a calm. The glassy surface of the waters was not
curled by the lightest air, and the vessel floated heavily on the
bosom of the deep. Sicily was yet in view, and the present delay
agitated Julia with wild apprehension. Towards the close of day a
light breeze sprang up, but it blew from Italy, and a train of dark
vapours emerged from the verge of the horizon, which gradually
accumulating, the heavens became entirely overcast. The evening shut
in suddenly; the rising wind, the heavy clouds that loaded the
atmosphere, and the thunder which murmured afar off terrified Julia,
and threatened a violent storm.

The tempest came on, and the captain vainly sounded for anchorage: it
was deep sea, and the vessel drove furiously before the wind. The
darkness was interrupted only at intervals, by the broad expanse of
vivid lightnings, which quivered upon the waters, and disclosing the
horrible gaspings of the waves, served to render the succeeding
darkness more awful. The thunder, which burst in tremendous crashes
above, the loud roar of the waves below, the noise of the sailors, and
the sudden cracks and groanings of the vessel conspired to heighten
the tremendous sublimity of the scene.

    Far on the rocky shores the surges sound,
    The lashing whirlwinds cleave the vast profound;
    While high in air, amid the rising storm,
    Driving the blast, sits Danger's black'ning form.

Julia lay fainting with terror and sickness in the cabin, and
Ferdinand, though almost hopeless himself, was endeavouring to support
her, when aloud and dreadful crash was heard from above. It seemed as
if the whole vessel had parted. The voices of the sailors now rose
together, and all was confusion and uproar. Ferdinand ran up to the
deck, and learned that part of the main mast, borne away by the wind,
had fallen upon the deck, whence it had rolled overboard.

It was now past midnight, and the storm continued with unabated fury.
For four hours the vessel had been driven before the blast; and the
captain now declared it was impossible she could weather the tempest
much longer, ordered the long boat to be in readiness. His orders were
scarcely executed, when the ship bulged upon a reef of rocks, and the
impetuous waves rushed into the vessel:--a general groan ensued.
Ferdinand flew to save his sister, whom he carried to the boat, which
was nearly filled by the captain and most of the crew. The sea ran so
high that it appeared impracticable to reach the shore: but the boat
had not moved many yards, when the ship went to pieces. The captain
now perceived, by the flashes of lightning, a high rocky coast at
about the distance of half a mile. The men struggled hard at the oars;
but almost as often as they gained the summit of a wave, it dashed
them back again, and made their labour of little avail.

After much difficulty and fatigue they reached the coast, where a new
danger presented itself. They beheld a wild rocky shore, whose cliffs
appeared inaccessible, and which seemed to afford little possibility
of landing. A landing, however, was at last affected; and the sailors,
after much search, discovered a kind of pathway cut in the rock, which
they all ascended in safety.

The dawn now faintly glimmered, and they surveyed the coast, but could
discover no human habitation. They imagined they were on the shores of
Sicily, but possessed no means of confirming this conjecture. Terror,
sickness, and fatigue had subdued the strength and spirits of Julia,
and she was obliged to rest upon the rocks.

The storm now suddenly subsided, and the total calm which succeeded to
the wild tumult of the winds and waves, produced a striking and
sublime effect. The air was hushed in a deathlike stillness, but the
waves were yet violently agitated; and by the increasing light, parts
of the wreck were seen floating wide upon the face of the deep. Some
sailors, who had missed the boat, were also discovered clinging to
pieces of the vessel, and making towards the shore. On observing this,
their shipmates immediately descended to the boat; and, putting off to
sea, rescued them from their perilous situation. When Julia was
somewhat reanimated, they proceeded up the country in search of a
dwelling.

They had travelled near half a league, when the savage features of the
country began to soften, and gradually changed to the picturesque
beauty of Sicilian scenery. They now discovered at some distance a
villa, seated on a gentle eminence, crowned with woods. It was the
first human habitation they had seen since they embarked for Italy;
and Julia, who was almost sinking with fatigue, beheld it with
delight. The captain and his men hastened towards it to make known
their distress, while Ferdinand and Julia slowly followed. They
observed the men enter the villa, one of whom quickly returned to
acquaint them with the hospitable reception his comrades had received.

Julia with difficulty reached the edifice, at the door of which she
was met by a young cavalier, whose pleasing and intelligent
countenance immediately interested her in his favor. He welcomed the
strangers with a benevolent politeness that dissolved at once every
uncomfortable feeling which their situation had excited, and produced
an instantaneous easy confidence. Through a light and elegant hall,
rising into a dome, supported by pillars of white marble, and adorned
with busts, he led them to a magnificent vestibule, which opened upon
a lawn. Having seated them at a table spread with refreshments he left
them, and they surveyed, with surprise, the beauty of the adjacent
scene.

The lawn, which was on each side bounded by hanging woods, descended
in gentle declivity to a fine lake, whose smooth surface reflected the
surrounding shades. Beyond appeared the distant country, arising on
the left into bold romantic mountains, and on the right exhibiting a
soft and glowing landscape, whose tranquil beauty formed a striking
contrast to the wild sublimity of the opposite craggy heights. The
blue and distant ocean terminated the view.

In a short time the cavalier returned, conducting two ladies of a very
engaging appearance, whom he presented as his wife and sister. They
welcomed Julia with graceful kindness; but fatigue soon obliged her to
retire to rest, and a consequent indisposition increased so rapidly,
as to render it impracticable for her to quit her present abode on
that day. The captain and his men proceeded on their way, leaving
Ferdinand and Julia at the villa, where she experienced every kind and
tender affection.

The day which was to have devoted Julia to a cloister, was ushered in
at the abbey with the usual ceremonies. The church was ornamented, and
all the inhabitants of the monastery prepared to attend. The _Padre
Abate_ now exulted in the success of his scheme, and anticipated, in
imagination, the rage and vexation of the marquis, when he should
discover that his daughter was lost to him for ever.

The hour of celebration arrived, and he entered the church with a
proud firm step, and with a countenance which depictured his inward
triumph; he was proceeding to the high altar, when he was told that
Julia was no where to be found. Astonishment for awhile suspended
other emotions--he yet believed it impossible that she could have
effected an escape, and ordered every part of the abbey to be
searched--not forgetting the secret caverns belonging to the
monastery, which wound beneath the woods. When the search was over,
and he became convinced she was fled, the deep workings of his
disappointed passions fermented into rage which exceeded all bounds.
He denounced the most terrible judgments upon Julia; and calling for
Madame de Menon, charged her with having insulted her holy religion,
in being accessary to the flight of Julia. Madame endured these
reproaches with calm dignity, and preserved a steady silence, but she
secretly determined to leave the monastery, and seek in another the
repose which she could never hope to find in this.

The report of Julia's disappearance spread rapidly beyond the walls,
and soon reached the ears of the marquis, who rejoiced in the
circumstance, believing that she must now inevitably fall into his
hands.

After his people, in obedience to his orders, had carefully searched
the surrounding woods and rocks, he withdrew them from the abbey; and
having dispersed them various ways in search of Julia, he returned to
the castle of Mazzini. Here new vexation awaited him, for he now
first learned that Ferdinand had escaped from confinement.

The mystery of Julia's flight was now dissolved; for it was evident by
whose means she had effected it, and the marquis issued orders to his
people to secure Ferdinand wherever he should be found.



CHAPTER XIII

Hippolitus, who had languished under a long and dangerous illness
occasioned by his wounds, but heightened and prolonged by the distress
of his mind, was detained in a small town in the coast of Calabria,
and was yet ignorant of the death of Cornelia. He scarcely doubted
that Julia was now devoted to the duke, and this thought was at times
poison to his heart. After his arrival in Calabria, immediately on the
recovery of his senses, he dispatched a servant back to the castle of
Mazzini, to gain secret intelligence of what had passed after his
departure. The eagerness with which we endeavour to escape from
misery, taught him to encourage a remote and romantic hope that Julia
yet lived for him. Yet even this hope at length languished into
despair, as the time elapsed which should have brought his servant
from Sicily. Days and weeks passed away in the utmost anxiety to
Hippolitus, for still his emissary did not appear; and at last,
concluding that he had been either seized by robbers, or discovered
and detained by the marquis, the Count sent off a second emissary to
the castle of Mazzini. By him he learned the news of Julia's flight,
and his heart dilated with joy; but it was suddenly checked when he
heard the marquis had discovered her retreat in the abbey of St
Augustin. The wounds which still detained him in confinement, now
became intolerable. Julia might yet be lost to him for ever. But even
his present state of fear and uncertainty was bliss compared with the
anguish of despair, which his mind had long endured.

As soon as he was sufficiently recovered, he quitted Italy for Sicily,
in the design of visiting the monastery of St Augustin, where it was
possible Julia might yet remain. That he might pass with the secrecy
necessary to his plan, and escape the attacks of the marquis, he left
his servants in Calabria, and embarked alone.

It was morning when he landed at a small port of Sicily, and proceeded
towards the abbey of St Augustin. As he travelled, his imagination
revolved the scenes of his early love, the distress of Julia, and the
sufferings of Ferdinand, and his heart melted at the retrospect. He
considered the probabilities of Julia having found protection from her
father in the pity of the _Padre Abate_; and even ventured to indulge
himself in a flattering, fond anticipation of the moment when Julia
should again be restored to his sight.

He arrived at the monastery, and his grief may easily be imagined,
when he was informed of the death of his beloved sister, and of the
flight of Julia. He quitted St Augustin's immediately, without even
knowing that Madame de Menon was there, and set out for a town at some
leagues distance, where he designed to pass the night.

Absorbed in the melancholy reflections which the late intelligence
excited, he gave the reins to his horse, and journeyed on unmindful of
his way. The evening was far advanced when he discovered that he had
taken a wrong direction, and that he was bewildered in a wild and
solitary scene. He had wandered too far from the road to hope to
regain it, and he had beside no recollection of the objects left
behind him. A choice of errors, only, lay before him. The view on his
right hand exhibited high and savage mountains, covered with heath and
black fir; and the wild desolation of their aspect, together with the
dangerous appearance of the path that wound up their sides, and which
was the only apparent track they afforded, determined Hippolitus not
to attempt their ascent. On his left lay a forest, to which the path
he was then in led; its appearance was gloomy, but he preferred it to
the mountains; and, since he was uncertain of its extent, there was a
possibility that he might pass it, and reach a village before the
night was set in. At the worst, the forest would afford him a shelter
from the winds; and, however he might be bewildered in its labyrinths,
he could ascend a tree, and rest in security till the return of light
should afford him an opportunity of extricating himself. Among the
mountains there was no possibility of meeting with other shelter than
what the habitation of man afforded, and such a shelter there was
little probability of finding. Innumerable dangers also threatened him
here, from which he would be secure on level ground.

Having determined which way to pursue, he pushed his horse into a
gallop, and entered the forest as the last rays of the sun trembled on
the mountains. The thick foliage of the trees threw a gloom around,
which was every moment deepened by the shades of evening. The path was
uninterrupted, and the count continued to follow it till all
distinction was confounded in the veil of night. Total darkness now
made it impossible for him to pursue his way. He dismounted, and
fastening his horse to a tree, climbed among the branches, purposing
to remain there till morning.

He had not been long in this situation, when a confused sound of
voices from a distance roused his attention. The sound returned at
intervals for some time, but without seeming to approach. He descended
from the tree, that he might the better judge of the direction whence
it came; but before he reached the ground, the noise was ceased, and
all was profoundly silent. He continued to listen, but the silence
remaining undisturbed, he began to think he had been deceived by the
singing of the wind among the leaves; and was preparing to reascend,
when he perceived a faint light glimmer through the foliage from afar.
The sight revived a hope that he was near some place of human
habitation; he therefore unfastened his horse, and led him towards the
spot whence the ray issued. The moon was now risen, and threw a
checkered gleam over his path sufficient to direct him.

Before he had proceeded far the light disappeared. He continued,
however, his way as nearly as he could guess, towards the place whence
it had issued; and after much toil, found himself in a spot where the
trees formed a circle round a kind of rude lawn. The moonlight
discovered to him an edifice which appeared to have been formerly a
monastery, but which now exhibited a pile of ruins, whose grandeur,
heightened by decay, touched the beholder with reverential awe.
Hippolitus paused to gaze upon the scene; the sacred stillness of
night increased its effect, and a secret dread, he knew not wherefore,
stole upon his heart.

The silence and the character of the place made him doubt whether this
was the spot he had been seeking; and as he stood hesitating whether
to proceed or to return, he observed a figure standing under an
arch-way of the ruin; it carried a light in its hand, and passing
silently along, disappeared in a remote part of the building. The
courage of Hippolitus for a moment deserted him. An invincible
curiosity, however, subdued his terror, and he determined to pursue,
if possible, the way the figure had taken.

He passed over loose stones through a sort of court till he came to
the archway; here he stopped, for fear returned upon him. Resuming his
courage, however, he went on, still endeavouring to follow the way the
figure had passed, and suddenly found himself in an enclosed part of
the ruin, whose appearance was more wild and desolate than any he had
yet seen. Seized with unconquerable apprehension, he was retiring,
when the low voice of a distressed person struck his ear. His heart
sunk at the sound, his limbs trembled, and he was utterly unable to
move.

The sound which appeared to be the last groan of a dying person, was
repeated. Hippolitus made a strong effort, and sprang forward, when a
light burst upon him from a shattered casement of the building, and at
the same instant he heard the voices of men!

He advanced softly to the window, and beheld in a small room, which
was less decayed than the rest of the edifice, a group of men, who,
from the savageness of their looks, and from their dress, appeared to
be banditti. They surrounded a man who lay on the ground wounded, and
bathed in blood, and who it was very evident had uttered the groans
heard by the count.

The obscurity of the place prevented Hippolitus from distinguishing
the features of the dying man. From the blood which covered him, and
from the surrounding circumstances, he appeared to be murdered; and
the count had no doubt that the men he beheld were the murderers. The
horror of the scene entirely overcame him; he stood rooted to the
spot, and saw the assassins rifle the pockets of the dying person,
who, in a voice scarcely articulate, but which despair seemed to aid,
supplicated for mercy. The ruffians answered him only with
execrations, and continued their plunder. His groans and his
sufferings served only to aggravate their cruelty. They were
proceeding to take from him a miniature picture, which was fastened
round his neck, and had been hitherto concealed in his bosom; when by
a sudden effort he half raised himself from the ground, and attempted
to save it from their hands. The effort availed him nothing; a blow
from one of the villains laid the unfortunate man on the floor without
motion. The horrid barbarity of the act seized the mind of Hippolitus
so entirely, that, forgetful of his own situation, he groaned aloud,
and started with an instantaneous design of avenging the deed. The
noise he made alarmed the banditti, who looking whence it came,
discovered the count through the casement. They instantly quitted
their prize, and rushed towards the door of the room. He was now
returned to a sense of his danger, and endeavoured to escape to the
exterior part of the ruin; but terror bewildered his senses, and he
mistook his way. Instead of regaining the arch-way, he perplexed
himself with fruitless wanderings, and at length found himself only
more deeply involved in the secret recesses of the pile.

The steps of his pursuers gained fast upon him, and he continued to
perplex himself with vain efforts at escape, till at length, quite
exhausted, he sunk on the ground, and endeavoured to resign himself to
his fate. He listened with a kind of stern despair, and was surprised
to find all silent. On looking round, he perceived by a ray of
moonlight, which streamed through a part of the ruin from above, that
he was in a sort of vault, which, from the small means he had of
judging, he thought was extensive.

In this situation he remained for a considerable time, ruminating on
the means of escape, yet scarcely believing escape was possible. If he
continued in the vault, he might continue there only to be butchered;
but by attempting to rescue himself from the place he was now in, he
must rush into the hands of the banditti. Judging it, therefore, the
safer way of the two to remain where he was, he endeavoured to await
his fate with fortitude, when suddenly the loud voices of the
murderers burst upon his ear, and he heard steps advancing quickly
towards the spot where he lay.

Despair instantly renewed his vigour; he started from the ground, and
throwing round him a look of eager desperation, his eye caught the
glimpse of a small door, upon which the moon-beam now fell. He made
towards it, and passed it just as the light of a torch gleamed upon
the walls of the vault.

He groped his way along a winding passage, and at length came to a
flight of steps. Notwithstanding the darkness, he reached the bottom
in safety.

He now for the first time stopped to listen--the sounds of pursuit
were ceased, and all was silent! Continuing to wander on in effectual
endeavours to escape, his hands at length touched cold iron, and he
quickly perceived it belonged to a door. The door, however, was
fastened, and resisted all his efforts to open it. He was giving up
the attempt in despair, when a loud scream from within, followed by a
dead and heavy noise, roused all his attention. Silence ensued. He
listened for a considerable time at the door, his imagination filled
with images of horror, and expecting to hear the sound repeated. He
then sought for a decayed part of the door, through which he might
discover what was beyond; but he could find none; and after waiting
some time without hearing any farther noise, he was quitting the spot,
when in passing his arm over the door, it struck against something
hard. On examination he perceived, to his extreme surprize, that the
key was in the lock. For a moment he hesitated what to do; but
curiosity overcame other considerations, and with a trembling hand he
turned the key. The door opened into a large and desolate apartment,
dimly lighted by a lamp that stood on a table, which was almost the
only furniture of the place. The Count had advanced several steps
before he perceived an object, which fixed all his attention. This was
the figure of a young woman lying on the floor apparently dead. Her
face was concealed in her robe; and the long auburn tresses which fell
in beautiful luxuriance over her bosom, served to veil a part of the
glowing beauty which the disorder of her dress would have revealed.

Pity, surprize, and admiration struggled in the breast of Hippolitus;
and while he stood surveying the object which excited these different
emotions, he heard a step advancing towards the room. He flew to the
door by which he had entered, and was fortunate enough to reach it
before the entrance of the persons whose steps he heard. Having turned
the key, he stopped at the door to listen to their proceedings. He
distinguished the voices of two men, and knew them to be those of the
assassins. Presently he heard a piercing skriek, and at the same
instant the voices of the ruffians grew loud and violent. One of them
exclaimed that the lady was dying, and accused the other of having
frightened her to death, swearing, with horrid imprecations, that she
was his, and he would defend her to the last drop of his blood. The
dispute grew higher; and neither of the ruffians would give up his
claim to the unfortunate object of their altercation.

The clashing of swords was soon after heard, together with a violent
noise. The screams were repeated, and the oaths and execrations of the
disputants redoubled. They seemed to move towards the door, behind
which Hippolitus was concealed; suddenly the door was shook with great
force, a deep groan followed, and was instantly succeeded by a noise
like that of a person whose whole weight falls at once to the ground.
For a moment all was silent. Hippolitus had no doubt that one of the
ruffians had destroyed the other, and was soon confirmed in the
belief--for the survivor triumphed with brutal exultation over his
fallen antagonist. The ruffian hastily quitted the room, and
Hippolitus soon after heard the distant voices of several persons in
loud dispute. The sounds seemed to come from a chamber over the place
where he stood; he also heard a trampling of feet from above, and
could even distinguish, at intervals, the words of the disputants.
From these he gathered enough to learn that the affray which had just
happened, and the lady who had been the occasion of it, were the
subjects of discourse. The voices frequently rose together, and
confounded all distinction.

At length the tumult began to subside, and Hippolitus could
distinguish what was said. The ruffians agreed to give up the lady in
question to him who had fought for her; and leaving him to his prize,
they all went out in quest of farther prey. The situation of the
unfortunate lady excited a mixture of pity and indignation in
Hippolitus, which for some time entirely occupied him; he revolved the
means of extricating her from so deplorable a situation, and in these
thoughts almost forgot his own danger. He now heard her sighs; and
while his heart melted to the sounds, the farther door of the
apartment was thrown open, and the wretch to whom she had been
allotted, rushed in. Her screams now redoubled, but they were of no
avail with the ruffian who had seized her in his arms; when the count,
who was unarmed, insensible to every pulse but that of a generous
pity, burst into the room, but became fixed like a statue when he
beheld his Julia struggling in the grasp of the ruffian. On
discovering Hippolitus, she made a sudden spring, and liberated
herself; when, running to him, she sunk lifeless in his arms.

Surprise and fury sparkled in the eyes of the ruffian, and he turned
with a savage desperation upon the count; who, relinquishing Julia,
snatched up the sword of the dead ruffian, which lay upon the floor,
and defended himself. The combat was furious, but Hippolitus laid his
antagonist senseless at his feet. He flew to Julia, who now revived,
but who for some time could speak only by her tears. The transitions
of various and rapid sensations, which her heart experienced, and the
strangely mingled emotions of joy and terror that agitated Hippolitus,
can only be understood by experience. He raised her from the floor,
and endeavoured to soothe her to composure, when she called wildly
upon Ferdinand. At his name the count started, and he instantly
remembered the dying cavalier, whose countenance the glooms had
concealed from his view. His heart thrilled with secret agony, yet he
resolved to withhold his terrible conjectures from Julia, of whom he
learned that Ferdinand, with herself, had been taken by banditti in
the way from the villa which had offered them so hospitable a
reception after the shipwreck. They were on the road to a port whence
they designed again to embark for Italy, when this misfortune overtook
them. Julia added, that Ferdinand had been immediately separated from
her; and that, for some hours, she had been confined in the apartment
where Hippolitus found her.

The Count with difficulty concealed his terrible apprehensions for
Ferdinand, and vainly strove to soften Julia's distress. But there was
no time to be lost--they had yet to find a way out of the edifice, and
before they could accomplish this, the banditti might return. It was
also possible that some of the party were left to watch this their
abode during the absence of the rest, and this was another
circumstance of reasonable alarm.

After some little consideration, Hippolitus judged it most prudent to
seek an outlet through the passage by which he entered; he therefore
took the lamp, and led Julia to the door. They entered the avenue, and
locking the door after them, sought the flight of steps down which the
count had before passed; but having pursued the windings of the avenue
a considerable time without finding them, he became certain he had
mistaken the way. They, however, found another flight, which they
descended and entered upon a passage so very narrow and low, as not to
admit of a person walking upright. This passage was closed by a door,
which on examination was found to be chiefly of iron. Hippolitus was
startled at the sight, but on applying his strength found it gradually
yield, when the imprisoned air rushed out, and had nearly extinguished
the light. They now entered upon a dark abyss; and the door which
moved upon a spring, suddenly closed upon them. On looking round they
beheld a large vault; and it is not easy to imagine their horror on
discovering they were in a receptacle for the murdered bodies of the
unfortunate people who had fallen into the hands of the banditti.

The count could scarcely support the fainting spirits of Julia; he ran
to the door, which he endeavoured to open, but the lock was so
constructed that it could be moved only on the other side, and all his
efforts were useless. He was constrained, therefore, to seek for
another door, but could find none. Their situation was the most
deplorable that can be imagined; for they were now inclosed in a vault
strewn with the dead bodies of the murdered, and must there become the
victims of famine, or of the sword. The earth was in several places
thrown up, and marked the boundaries of new-made graves. The bodies
which remained unburied were probably left either from hurry or
negligence, and exhibited a spectacle too shocking for humanity. The
sufferings of Hippolitus were increased by those of Julia, who was
sinking with horror, and who he endeavoured to support to apart of the
vault which fell into a recess--where stood a bench.

They had not been long in this situation, when they heard a noise
which approached gradually, and which did not appear to come from the
avenue they had passed.

The noise increased, and they could distinguish voices. Hippolitus
believed the murderers were returned; that they had traced his
retreat, and were coming towards the vault by some way unknown to him.
He prepared for the worst--and drawing his sword, resolved to defend
Julia to the last. Their apprehension, however, was soon dissipated
by a trampling of horses, which sound had occasioned his alarm, and
which now seemed to come from a courtyard above, extremely near the
vault. He distinctly heard the voices of the banditti, together with
the moans and supplications of some person, whom it was evident they
were about to plunder. The sound appeared so very near, that
Hippolitus was both shocked and surprised; and looking round the
vault, he perceived a small grated window placed very high in the
wall, which he concluded overlooked the place where the robbers were
assembled. He recollected that his light might betray him; and
horrible as was the alternative, he was compelled to extinguish it. He
now attempted to climb to the grate, through which he might obtain a
view of what was passing without. This at length he effected, for the
ruggedness of the wall afforded him a footing. He beheld in a ruinous
court, which was partially illuminated by the glare of torches, a
group of banditti surrounding two persons who were bound on horseback,
and who were supplicating for mercy.

One of the robbers exclaiming with an oath that this was a golden
night, bade his comrades dispatch, adding he would go to find Paulo
and the lady.

The effect which the latter part of this sentence had upon the
prisoners in the vault, may be more easily imagined than described.
They were now in total darkness in this mansion of the murdered,
without means of escape, and in momentary expectation of sharing a
fate similar to that of the wretched objects around them. Julia,
overcome with distress and terror, sunk on the ground; and Hippolitus,
descending from the grate, became insensible of his own danger in his
apprehension for her.

In a short time all without was confusion and uproar; the ruffian who
had left the court returned with the alarm that the lady was fled, and
that Paulo was murdered, The robbers quitting their booty to go in
search of the fugitive, and to discover the murderer, dreadful
vociferations resounded through every recess of the pile.

The tumult had continued a considerable time, which the prisoners had
passed in a state of horrible suspence, when they heard the uproar
advancing towards the vault, and soon after a number of voices shouted
down the avenue. The sound of steps quickened. Hippolitus again drew
his sword, and placed himself opposite the entrance, where he had not
stood long, when a violent push was made against the door; it flew
open, and a party of men rushed into the vault.

Hippolitus kept his position, protesting he would destroy the first
who approached. At the sound of his voice they stopped; but presently
advancing, commanded him in the king's name to surrender. He now
discovered what his agitation had prevented him from observing sooner,
that the men before him were not banditti, but the officers of
justice. They had received information of this haunt of villainy from
the son of a Sicilian nobleman, who had fallen into the hands of the
banditti, and had afterwards escaped from their power.

The officers came attended by a guard, and were every way prepared to
prosecute a strenuous search through these horrible recesses.

Hippolitus inquired for Ferdinand, and they all quitted the vault in
search of him. In the court, to which they now ascended, the greater
part of the banditti were secured by a number of the guard. The count
accused the robbers of having secreted his friend, whom he described,
and demanded to have liberated.

With one voice they denied the fact, and were resolute in persisting
that they knew nothing of the person described. This denial confirmed
Hippolitus in his former terrible surmise; that the dying cavalier,
whom he had seen, was no other than Ferdinand, and he became furious.
He bade the officers prosecute their search, who, leaving a guard over
the banditti they had secured, followed him to the room where the late
dreadful scene had been acted.

The room was dark and empty; but the traces of blood were visible on
the floor; and Julia, though ignorant of the particular apprehension
of Hippolitus, almost swooned at the sight. On quitting the room, they
wandered for some time among the ruins, without discovering any thing
extraordinary, till, in passing under the arch-way by which Hippolitus
had first entered the building, their footsteps returned a deep sound,
which convinced them that the ground beneath was hollow. On close
examination, they perceived by the light of their torch, a trapdoor,
which with some difficulty they lifted, and discovered beneath a
narrow flight of steps. They all descended into a low winding passage,
where they had not been long, when they heard a trampling of horses
above, and a loud and sudden uproar.

The officers apprehending that the banditti had overcome the guard,
rushed back to the trapdoor, which they had scarcely lifted, when they
heard a clashing of swords, and a confusion of unknown voices. Looking
onward, they beheld through the arch, in an inner sort of court, a
large party of banditti who were just arrived, rescuing their
comrades, and contending furiously with the guard.

On observing this, several of the officers sprang forward to the
assistance of their friends; and the rest, subdued by cowardice,
hurried down the steps, letting the trapdoor fall after them with a
thundering noise. They gave notice to Hippolitus of what was passing
above, who hurried Julia along the passage in search of some outlet or
place of concealment. They could find neither, and had not long
pursued the windings of the way, when they heard the trapdoor lifted,
and the steps of persons descending. Despair gave strength to Julia,
and winged her flight. But they were now stopped by a door which
closed the passage, and the sound of distant voices murmured along the
walls.

The door was fastened by strong iron bolts, which Hippolitus vainly
endeavoured to draw. The voices drew near. After much labour and
difficulty the bolts yielded--the door unclosed--and light dawned upon
them through the mouth of a cave, into which they now entered. On
quitting the cave they found themselves in the forest, and in a short
time reached the borders. They now ventured to stop, and looking back
perceived no person in pursuit.



CHAPTER XIV

When Julia had rested, they followed the track before them, and in a
short time arrived at a village, where they obtained security and
refreshment.

But Julia, whose mind was occupied with dreadful anxiety for
Ferdinand, became indifferent to all around her. Even the presence of
Hippolitus, which but lately would have raised her from misery to joy,
failed to soothe her distress. The steady and noble attachment of her
brother had sunk deep in her heart, and reflection only aggravated her
affliction. Yet the banditti had steadily persisted in affirming that
he was not concealed in their recesses; and this circumstance, which
threw a deeper shade over the fears of Hippolitus, imparted a
glimmering of hope to the mind of Julia.

A more immediate interest at length forced her mind from this
sorrowful subject. It was necessary to determine upon some line of
conduct, for she was now in an unknown spot, and ignorant of any place
of refuge. The count, who trembled at the dangers which environed her,
and at the probabilities he saw of her being torn from him for ever,
suffered a consideration of them to overcome the dangerous delicacy
which at this mournful period required his silence. He entreated her
to destroy the possibility of separation, by consenting to become his
immediately. He urged that a priest could be easily procured from a
neighboring convent, who would confirm the bonds which had so long
united their hearts, and who would thus at once arrest the destiny
that so long had threatened his hopes.

This proposal, though similar to the one she had before accepted; and
though the certain means of rescuing her from the fate she dreaded,
she now turned from in sorrow and dejection. She loved Hippolitus with
a steady and tender affection, which was still heightened by the
gratitude he claimed as her deliverer; but she considered it a
prophanation of the memory of that brother who had suffered so much
for her sake, to mingle joy with the grief which her uncertainty
concerning him occasioned. She softened her refusal with a tender
grace, that quickly dissipated the jealous doubt arising in the mind
of Hippolitus, and increased his fond admiration of her character.

She desired to retire for a time to some obscure convent, there to
await the issue of the event, which at present involved her in
perplexity and sorrow.

Hippolitus struggled with his feelings and forbore to press farther
the suit on which his happiness, and almost his existence, now
depended. He inquired at the village for a neighbouring convent, and
was told, that there was none within twelve leagues, but that near the
town of Palini, at about that distance, were two. He procured horses;
and leaving the officers to return to Palermo for a stronger guard,
he, accompanied by Julia, entered on the road to Palini.

Julia was silent and thoughtful; Hippolitus gradually sunk into the
same mood, and he often cast a cautious look around as they travelled
for some hours along the feet of the mountains. They stopped to dine
under the shade of some beach-trees; for, fearful of discovery,
Hippolitus had provided against the necessity of entering many inns.
Having finished their repast, they pursued their journey; but
Hippolitus now began to doubt whether he was in the right direction.
Being destitute, however, of the means of certainty upon this point,
he followed the road before him, which now wound up the side of a
steep hill, whence they descended into a rich valley, where the
shepherd's pipe sounded sweetly from afar among the hills. The evening
sun shed a mild and mellow lustre over the landscape, and softened
each feature with a vermil glow that would have inspired a mind less
occupied than Julia's with sensations of congenial tranquillity.

The evening now closed in; and as they were doubtful of the road, and
found it would be impossible to reach Palini that night, they took the
way to a village, which they perceived at the extremity of the valley.

They had proceeded about half a mile, when they heard a sudden shout
of voices echoed from among the hills behind them; and looking back
perceived faintly through the dusk a party of men on horseback making
towards them. As they drew nearer, the words they spoke were
distinguishable, and Julia heard her own name sounded. Shocked at this
circumstance, she had now no doubt that she was discovered by a party
of her father's people, and she fled with Hippolitus along the valley.
The pursuers, however, were almost come up with them, when they
reached the mouth of a cavern, into which she ran for concealment.
Hippolitus drew his sword; and awaiting his enemies, stood to defend
the entrance.

In a few moments Julia heard the clashing of swords. Her heart
trembled for Hippolitus; and she was upon the point of returning to
resign herself at once to the power of her enemies, and thus avert the
danger that threatened him, when she distinguished the loud voice of
the duke.

She shrunk involuntarily at the sound, and pursuing the windings of
the cavern, fled into its inmost recesses. Here she had not been long
when the voices sounded through the cave, and drew near. It was now
evident that Hippolitus was conquered, and that her enemies were in
search of her. She threw round a look of unutterable anguish, and
perceived very near, by a sudden gleam of torchlight, a low and deep
recess in the rock. The light which belonged to her pursuers, grew
stronger; and she entered the rock on her knees, for the overhanging
craggs would not suffer her to pass otherwise; and having gone a few
yards, perceived that it was terminated by a door. The door yielded to
her touch, and she suddenly found herself in a highly vaulted cavern,
which received a feeble light from the moon-beams that streamed
through an opening in the rock above.

She closed the door, and paused to listen. The voices grew louder, and
more distinct, and at last approached so near, that she distinguished
what was said. Above the rest she heard the voice of the duke. 'It is
impossible she can have quitted the cavern,' said he, 'and I will not
leave it till I have found her. Seek to the left of that rock, while I
examine beyond this point.'

These words were sufficient for Julia; she fled from the door across
the cavern before her, and having ran a considerable way, without
coming to a termination, stopped to breathe. All was now still, and as
she looked around, the gloomy obscurity of the place struck upon her
fancy all its horrors. She imperfectly surveyed the vastness of the
cavern in wild amazement, and feared that she had precipitated herself
again into the power of banditti, for whom along this place appeared a
fit receptacle. Having listened a long time without hearing a return
of voices, she thought to find the door by which she had entered, but
the gloom, and vast extent of the cavern, made the endeavour hopeless,
and the attempt unsuccessful. Having wandered a considerable time
through the void, she gave up the effort, endeavoured to resign
herself to her fate, and to compose her distracted thoughts. The
remembrance of her former wonderful escape inspired her with
confidence in the mercy of God. But Hippolitus and Ferdinand were now
both lost to her--lost, perhaps, for ever--and the uncertainty of
their fate gave force to fancy, and poignancy to sorrow.

Towards morning grief yielded to nature, and Julia sunk to repose. She
was awakened by the sun, whose rays darting obliquely through the
opening in the rock, threw a partial light across the cavern. Her
senses were yet bewildered by sleep, and she started in affright on
beholding her situation; as recollection gradually stole upon her
mind, her sorrows returned, and she sickened at the fatal retrospect.

She arose, and renewed her search for an outlet. The light, imperfect
as it was, now assisted her, and she found a door, which she perceived
was not the one by which she had entered. It was firmly fastened; she
discovered, however, the bolts and the lock that held it, and at
length unclosed the door. It opened upon a dark passage, which she
entered.

She groped along the winding walls for some time, when she perceived
the way was obstructed. She now discovered that another door
interrupted her progress, and sought for the bolts which might fasten
it. These she found; and strengthened by desparation forced them back.
The door opened, and she beheld in a small room, which received its
feeble light from a window above, the pale and emaciated figure of a
woman, seated, with half-closed eyes, in a kind of elbow-chair. On
perceiving Julia, she started from her seat, and her countenance
expressed a wild surprise. Her features, which were worn by sorrow,
still retained the traces of beauty, and in her air was a mild dignity
that excited in Julia an involuntary veneration.

She seemed as if about to speak, when fixing her eyes earnestly and
steadily upon Julia, she stood for a moment in eager gaze, and
suddenly exclaiming, 'My daughter!' fainted away.

The astonishment of Julia would scarcely suffer her to assist the lady
who lay senseless on the floor. A multitude of strange imperfect ideas
rushed upon her mind, and she was lost in perplexity; but as she
examined the features of the stranger; which were now rekindling into
life, she thought she discovered the resemblance of Emilia!

The lady breathing a deep sigh, unclosed her eyes; she raised them to
Julia, who hung over her in speechless astonishment, and fixing them
upon her with a tender earnest expression--they filled with tears. She
pressed Julia to her heart, and a few moments of exquisite,
unutterable emotion followed. When the lady became more composed,
'Thank heaven!' said she, 'my prayer is granted. I am permitted to
embrace one of my children before I die. Tell me what brought you
hither. Has the marquis at last relented, and allowed me once more to
behold you, or has his death dissolved my wretched bondage?'

Truth now glimmered upon the mind of Julia, but so faintly, that
instead of enlightening, it served only to increase her perplexity.

'Is the marquis Mazzini living?' continued the lady. These words were
not to be doubted; Julia threw herself at the feet of her mother, and
embracing her knees in an energy of joy, answered only in sobs.

The marchioness eagerly inquired after her children, 'Emilia is
living,' answered Julia, 'but my dear brother--' 'Tell me,' cried the
marchioness, with quickness. An explanation ensued; When she was
informed concerning Ferdinand, she sighed deeply, and raising her eyes
to heaven, endeavoured to assume a look of pious resignation; but the
struggle of maternal feelings was visible in her countenance, and
almost overcame her powers of resistance.

Julia gave a short account of the preceding adventures, and of her
entrance into the cavern; and found, to her inexpressible surprize,
that she was now in a subterranean abode belonging to the southern
buildings of the castle of Mazzini! The marchioness was beginning her
narrative, when a door was heard to unlock above, and the sound of a
footstep followed.

'Fly!' cried the marchioness, 'secret yourself, if possible, for the
marquis is coming.' Julia's heart sunk at these words; she paused not
a moment, but retired through the door by which she had entered. This
she had scarcely done, when another door of the cell was unlocked, and
she heard the voice of her father. Its sounds thrilled her with a
universal tremour; the dread of discovery so strongly operated upon
her mind, that she stood in momentary expectation of seeing the door
of the passage unclosed by the marquis; and she was deprived of all
power of seeking refuge in the cavern.

At length the marquis, who came with food, quitted the cell, and
relocked the door, when Julia stole forth from her hiding-place. The
marchioness again embraced, and wept over her daughter. The narrative
of her sufferings, upon which she now entered, entirely dissipated the
mystery which had so long enveloped the southern buildings of the
castle.

'Oh! why,' said the marchioness, 'is it my task to discover to my
daughter the vices of her father? In relating my sufferings, I reveal
his crimes! It is now about fifteen years, as near as I can guess from
the small means I have of judging, since I entered this horrible
abode. My sorrows, alas! began not here; they commenced at an earlier
period. But it is sufficient to observe, that the passion whence
originated all my misfortunes, was discovered by me long before I
experienced its most baleful effects.

'Seven years had elapsed since my marriage, when the charms of Maria
de Vellorno, a young lady singularly beautiful, inspired the marquis
with a passion as violent as it was irregular. I observed, with deep
and silent anguish, the cruel indifference of my lord towards me, and
the rapid progress of his passion for another. I severely examined my
past conduct, which I am thankful to say presented a retrospect of
only blameless actions; and I endeavoured, by meek submission, and
tender assiduities, to recall that affection which was, alas! gone for
ever. My meek submission was considered as a mark of a servile and
insensible mind; and my tender assiduities, to which his heart no
longer responded, created only disgust, and exalted the proud spirit
it was meant to conciliate.

'The secret grief which this change occasioned, consumed my spirits,
and preyed upon my constitution, till at length a severe illness
threatened my life. I beheld the approach of death with a steady eye,
and even welcomed it as the passport to tranquillity; but it was
destined that I should linger through new scenes of misery.

'One day, which it appears was the paroxysm of my disorder, I sunk in
to a state of total torpidity, in which I lay for several hours. It is
impossible to describe my feelings, when, on recovering, I found
myself in this hideous abode. For some time I doubted my senses, and
afterwards believed that I had quitted this world for another; but I
was not long suffered to continue in my error, the appearance of the
marquis bringing me to a perfect sense of my situation.

'I now understood that I had been conveyed by his direction to this
recess of horror, where it was his will I should remain. My prayers,
my supplications, were ineffectual; the hardness of his heart repelled
my sorrows back upon myself; and as no entreaties could prevail upon
him to inform me where I was, or of his reason for placing me here, I
remained for many years ignorant of my vicinity to the castle, and of
the motive of my confinement.

'From that fatal day, until very lately, I saw the marquis no
more--but was attended by a person who had been for some years
dependant upon his bounty, and whom necessity, united to an insensible
heart, had doubtless induced to accept this office. He generally
brought me a week's provision, at stated intervals, and I remarked
that his visits were always in the night.

'Contrary to my expectation, or my wish, nature did that for me which
medicine had refused, and I recovered as if to punish with
disappointment and anxiety my cruel tyrant. I afterwards learned,
that in obedience to the marquis's order, I had been carried to this
spot by Vincent during the night, and that I had been buried in effigy
at a neighbouring church, with all the pomp of funeral honor due to my
rank.'

At the name of Vincent Julia started; the doubtful words he had
uttered on his deathbed were now explained--the cloud of mystery which
had so long involved the southern buildings broke at once away: and
each particular circumstance that had excited her former terror, arose
to her view entirely unveiled by the words of the marchioness.--The
long and total desertion of this part of the fabric--the light that
had appeared through the casement--the figure she had seen issue from
the tower--the midnight noises she had heard--were circumstances
evidently dependant on the imprisonment of the marchioness; the latter
of which incidents were produced either by Vincent, or the marquis, in
their attendance upon her.

When she considered the long and dreadful sufferings of her mother,
and that she had for many years lived so near her, ignorant of her
misery, and even of her existence--she was lost in astonishment and
pity.

'My days,' continued the marchioness, 'passed in a dead uniformity,
more dreadful than the most acute vicissitudes of misfortune, and
which would certainly have subdued my reason, had not those firm
principles of religious faith, which I imbibed in early youth, enabled
me to withstand the still, but forceful pressure of my calamity.

'The insensible heart of Vincent at length began to soften to my
misfortunes. He brought me several articles of comfort, of which I had
hitherto been destitute, and answered some questions I put to him
concerning my family. To release me from my present situation, however
his inclination might befriend me, was not to be expected, since his
life would have paid the forfeiture of what would be termed his duty.

'I now first discovered my vicinity to the castle. I learned also,
that the marquis had married Maria de Vellorno, with whom he had
resided at Naples, but that my daughters were left at Mazzini. This
last intelligence awakened in my heart the throbs of warm maternal
tenderness, and on my knees I supplicated to see them. So earnestly I
entreated, and so solemnly I promised to return quietly to my prison,
that, at length, prudence yielded to pity, and Vincent consented to my
request.

'On the following day he came to the cell, and informed me my children
were going into the woods, and that I might see them from a window
near which they would pass. My nerves thrilled at these words, and I
could scarcely support myself to the spot I so eagerly sought. He led
me through long and intricate passages, as I guessed by the frequent
turnings, for my eyes were bound, till I reached a hall of the south
buildings. I followed to a room above, where the full light of day
once more burst upon my sight, and almost overpowered me. Vincent
placed me by a window, which looked towards the woods. Oh! what
moments of painful impatience were those in which I awaited your
arrival!

'At length you appeared. I saw you--I saw my children--and was neither
permitted to clasp them to my heart, or to speak to them! You was
leaning on the arm of your sister, and your countenances spoke the
sprightly happy innocence of youth.--Alas! you knew not the wretched
fate of your mother, who then gazed upon you! Although you were at too
great a distance for my weak voice to reach you, with the utmost
difficulty I avoided throwing open the window, and endeavouring to
discover myself. The remembrance of my solemn promise, and that the
life of Vincent would be sacrificed by the act, alone restrained me. I
struggled for some time with emotions too powerful for my nature, and
fainted away.

'On recovering I called wildly for my children, and went to the
window--but you were gone! Not all the entreaties of Vincent could for
some time remove me from this station, where I waited in the fond
expectation of seeing you again--but you appeared no more! At last I
returned to my cell in an ecstasy of grief which I tremble even to
remember.

'This interview, so eagerly sought, and so reluctantly granted, proved
a source of new misery--instead of calming, it agitated my mind with a
restless, wild despair, which bore away my strongest powers of
resistance. I raved incessantly of my children, and incessantly
solicited to see them again--Vincent, however, had found but too much
cause to repent of his first indulgence, to grant me a second.

'About this time a circumstance occurred which promised me a speedy
release from calamity. About a week elapsed, and Vincent did not
appear. My little stock of provision was exhausted, and I had been two
days without food, when I again heard the doors that led to my prison
creek on their hinges. An unknown step approached, and in a few
minutes the marquis entered my cell! My blood was chilled at the
sight, and I closed my eyes as I hoped for the last time. The sound of
his voice recalled me. His countenance was dark and sullen, and I
perceived that he trembled. He informed me that Vincent was no more,
and that henceforward his office he should take upon himself. I
forbore to reproach--where reproach would only have produced new
sufferings, and withheld supplication where it would have exasperated
conscience and inflamed revenge. My knowledge of the marquis's second
marriage I concealed.

'He usually attended me when night might best conceal his visits;
though these were irregular in their return. Lately, from what motive
I cannot guess, he has ceased his nocturnal visits, and comes only in
the day.

'Once when midnight increased the darkness of my prison, and seemed to
render silence even more awful, touched by the sacred horrors of the
hour, I poured forth my distress in loud lamentation. Oh! never can I
forget what I felt, when I heard a distant voice answered to my moan!
A wild surprize, which was strangely mingled with hope, seized me, and
in my first emotion I should have answered the call, had not a
recollection crossed me, which destroyed at once every half-raised
sensation of joy. I remembered the dreadful vengeance which the
marquis had sworn to execute upon me, if I ever, by any means,
endeavoured to make known the place of my concealment; and though life
had long been a burden to me, I dared not to incur the certainty of
being murdered. I also well knew that no person who might discover my
situation could effect my enlargement, for I had no relations to
deliver me by force; and the marquis, you know, has not only power to
imprison, but also the right of life and death in his own domains; I,
therefore, forbore to answer the call, though I could not entirely
repress my lamentation. I long perplexed myself with endeavouring to
account for this strange circumstance, and am to this moment ignorant
of its cause.'

Julia remembering that Ferdinand had been confined in a dungeon of the
castle, it instantly occurred to her that his prison, and that of the
marchioness, were not far distant; and she scrupled not to believe
that it was his voice which her mother had heard. She was right in
this belief, and it was indeed the marchioness whose groans had
formerly caused Ferdinand so much alarm, both in the marble hall of
the south buildings, and in his dungeon.

When Julia communicated her opinion, and the marchioness believed that
she had heard the voice of her son--her emotion was extreme, and it
was some time before she could resume her narration.

'A short time since,' continued the marchioness, 'the marquis brought
me a fortnight's provision, and told me that I should probably see him
no more till the expiration of that term. His absence at this period
you have explained in your account of the transactions at the abbey of
St Augustin. How can I ever sufficiently acknowledge the obligations I
owe to my dear and invaluable friend Madame de Menon! Oh! that it
might be permitted me to testify my gratitude.'

Julia attended to the narrative of her mother in silent astonishment,
and gave all the sympathy which sorrow could demand. 'Surely,' cried
she, 'the providence on whom you have so firmly relied, and whose
inflictions you have supported with a fortitude so noble, has
conducted me through a labyrinth of misfortunes to this spot, for the
purpose of delivering you! Oh! let us hasten to fly this horrid
abode--let us seek to escape through the cavern by which I entered.'

She paused in earnest expectation awaiting a reply. 'Whither can I
fly?' said the marchioness, deeply sighing. This question, spoken
with the emphasis of despair, affected Julia to tears, and she was for
a while silent.

'The marquis,' resumed Julia, 'would not know where to seek you, or if
he found you beyond his own domains, would fear to claim you. A
convent may afford for the present a safe asylum; and whatever shall
happen, surely no fate you may hereafter encounter can be more
dreadful than the one you now experience.'

The marchioness assented to the truth of this, yet her broken spirits,
the effect of long sorrow and confinement, made her hesitate how to
act; and there was a kind of placid despair in her look, which too
faithfully depicted her feelings. It was obvious to Julia that the
cavern she had passed wound beneath the range of mountains on whose
opposite side stood the castle of Mazzini. The hills thus rising
formed a screen which must entirely conceal their emergence from the
mouth of the cave, and their flight, from those in the castle. She
represented these circumstances to her mother, and urged them so
forcibly that the lethargy of despair yielded to hope, and the
marchioness committed herself to the conduct of her daughter.

'Oh! let me lead you to light and life!' cried Julia with warm
enthusiasm. 'Surely heaven can bless me with no greater good than by
making me the deliverer of my mother.' They both knelt down; and the
marchioness, with that affecting eloquence which true piety inspires,
and with that confidence which had supported her through so many
miseries, committed herself to the protection of God, and implored his
favor on their attempt.

They arose, but as they conversed farther on their plan, Julia
recollected that she was destitute of money--the banditti having
robbed her of all! The sudden shock produced by this remembrance
almost subdued her spirits; never till this moment had she understood
the value of money. But she commanded her feelings, and resolved to
conceal this circumstance from the marchioness, preferring the chance
of any evil they might encounter from without, to the certain misery
of this terrible imprisonment.

Having taken what provision the marquis had brought, they quitted the
cell, and entered upon the dark passage, along which they passed with
cautious steps. Julia came first to the door of the cavern, but who
can paint her distress when she found it was fastened! All her efforts
to open it were ineffectual.--The door which had closed after her, was
held by a spring lock, and could be opened on this side only with a
key. When she understood this circumstance, the marchioness, with a
placid resignation which seemed to exalt her above humanity, addressed
herself again to heaven, and turned back to her cell. Here Julia
indulged without reserve, and without scruple, the excess of her
grief. The marchioness wept over her. 'Not for myself,' said she, 'do
I grieve. I have too long been inured to misfortune to sink under its
pressure. This disappointment is intrinsically, perhaps, little--for I
had no certain refuge from calamity--and had it even been otherwise, a
few years only of suffering would have been spared me. It is for you,
Julia, who so much lament my fate; and who in being thus delivered to
the power of your father, are sacrificed to the Duke de Luovo--that my
heart swells.'

Julia could make no reply, but by pressing to her lips the hand which
was held forth to her, she saw all the wretchedness of her situation;
and her fearful uncertainty concerning Hippolitus and Ferdinand,
formed no inferior part of her affliction.

'If,' resumed the marchioness, 'you prefer imprisonment with your
mother, to a marriage with the duke, you may still secret yourself in
the passage we have just quitted, and partake of the provision which
is brought me.'

'O! talk not, madam, of a marriage with the duke,' said Julia; 'surely
any fate is preferable to that. But when I consider that in remaining
here, I am condemned only to the sufferings which my mother has so
long endured, and that this confinement will enable me to soften, by
tender sympathy, the asperity of her misfortunes, I ought to submit to
my present situation with complacency, even did a marriage with the
duke appear less hateful to me.'

'Excellent girl!' exclaimed the marchioness, clasping Julia to her
bosom; 'the sufferings you lament are almost repaid by this proof of
your goodness and affection! Alas! that I should have been so long
deprived of such a daughter!'

Julia now endeavoured to imitate the fortitude of her mother, and
tenderly concealed her anxiety for Ferdinand and Hippolitus, the idea
of whom incessantly haunted her imagination. When the marquis brought
food to the cell, she retired to the avenue leading to the cavern, and
escaped discovery.



CHAPTER XV

The marquis, meanwhile, whose indefatigable search after Julia failed
of success, was successively the slave of alternate passions, and he
poured forth the spleen of disappointment on his unhappy domestics.

The marchioness, who may now more properly be called Maria de
Vellorno, inflamed, by artful insinuations, the passions already
irritated, and heightened with cruel triumph his resentment towards
Julia and Madame de Menon. She represented, what his feelings too
acutely acknowledged,--that by the obstinate disobedience of the
first, and the machinations of the last, a priest had been enabled to
arrest his authority as a father--to insult the sacred honor of his
nobility--and to overturn at once his proudest schemes of power and
ambition. She declared it her opinion, that the _Abate_ was acquainted
with the place of Julia's present retreat, and upbraided the marquis
with want of spirit in thus submitting to be outwitted by a priest,
and forbearing an appeal to the pope, whose authority would compel the
_Abate_ to restore Julia.

This reproach stung the very soul of the marquis; he felt all its
force, and was at the same time conscious of his inability to obviate
it. The effect of his crimes now fell in severe punishment upon his
own head. The threatened secret, which was no other than the
imprisonment of the marchioness, arrested his arm of vengeance, and
compelled him to submit to insult and disappointment. But the reproach
of Maria sunk deep in his mind; it fomented his pride into redoubled
fury, and he now repelled with disdain the idea of submission.

He revolved the means which might effect his purpose--he saw but
one--this was the death of the marchioness.

The commission of one crime often requires the perpetration of
another. When once we enter on the ladyrinth of vice, we can seldom
return, but are led on, through correspondent mazes, to destruction.
To obviate the effect of his first crime, it was now necessary the
marquis should commit a second, and conceal the _imprisonment_ of the
marchioness by her _murder_. Himself the only living witness of her
existence, when she was removed, the allegations of the _Padre Abate_
would by this means be unsupported by any proof, and he might then
boldly appeal to the pope for the restoration of his child.

He mused upon this scheme, and the more he accustomed his mind to
contemplate it, the less scrupulous he became. The crime from which he
would formerly have shrunk, he now surveyed with a steady eye. The
fury of his passions, unaccustomed to resistance, uniting with the
force of what ambition termed necessity--urged him to the deed, and he
determined upon the murder of his wife. The means of effecting his
purpose were easy and various; but as he was not yet so entirely
hardened as to be able to view her dying pangs, and embrue his own
hands in her blood, he chose to dispatch her by means of poison, which
he resolved to mingle in her food.

But a new affliction was preparing for the marquis, which attacked him
where he was most vulnerable; and the veil, which had so long
overshadowed his reason, was now to be removed. He was informed by
Baptista of the infidelity of Maria de Vellorno. In the first emotion
of passion, he spurned the informer from his presence, and disdained
to believe the circumstance. A little reflection changed the object of
his resentment; he recalled the servant, whose faithfulness he had no
reason to distrust, and condescended to interrogate him on the subject
of his misfortune.

He learned that an intimacy had for some time subsisted between Maria
and the Cavalier de Vincini; and that the assignation was usually held
at the pavilion on the sea-shore, in an evening. Baptista farther
declared, that if the marquis desired a confirmation of his words, he
might obtain it by visiting this spot at the hour mentioned.

This information lighted up the wildest passions of his nature; his
former sufferings faded away before the stronger influence of the
present misfortune, and it seemed as if he had never tasted misery
till now. To suspect the wife upon whom he doated with romantic
fondness, on whom he had centered all his firmest hopes of happiness,
and for whose sake he had committed the crime which embittered even
his present moment, and which would involve him in still deeper
guilt--to find _her_ ungrateful to his love, and a traitoress to his
honor--produced a misery more poignant than any his imagination had
conceived. He was torn by contending passions, and opposite
resolutions:--now he resolved to expiate her guilt with her blood--and
now he melted in all the softness of love. Vengeance and honor bade
him strike to the heart which had betrayed him, and urged him
instantly to the deed--when the idea of her beauty--her winning
smiles--her fond endearments stole upon his fancy, and subdued his
heart; he almost wept to the idea of injuring her, and in spight of
appearances, pronounced her faithful. The succeeding moment plunged
him again into uncertainty; his tortures acquired new vigour from
cessation, and again he experienced all the phrenzy of despair. He was
now resolved to end his doubts by repairing to the pavilion; but again
his heart wavered in irresolution how to proceed should his fears be
confirmed. In the mean time he determined to watch the behaviour of
Maria with severe vigilance.

They met at dinner, and he observed her closely, but discovered not
the smallest impropriety in her conduct. Her smiles and her beauty
again wound their fascinations round his heart, and in the excess of
their influence he was almost tempted to repair the injury which his
late suspicions had done her, by confessing them at her feet. The
appearance of the Cavalier de Vincini, however, renewed his
suspicions; his heart throbbed wildly, and with restless impatience he
watched the return of evening, which would remove his suspence.

Night at length came. He repaired to the pavilion, and secreted
himself among the trees that embowered it. Many minutes had not
passed, when he heard a sound of low whispering voices steal from
among the trees, and footsteps approaching down the alley. He stood
almost petrified with terrible sensations, and presently heard some
persons enter the pavilion. The marquis now emerged from his
hiding-place; a faint light issued from the building. He stole to the
window, and beheld within, Maria and the Cavalier de Vincini. Fired
at the sight, he drew his sword, and sprang forward. The sound of his
step alarmed the cavalier, who, on perceiving the marquis, rushed by
him from the pavilion, and disappeared among the woods. The marquis
pursued, but could not overtake him; and he returned to the pavilion
with an intention of plunging his sword in the heart of Maria, when he
discovered her senseless on the ground. Pity now suspended his
vengeance; he paused in agonizing gaze upon her, and returned his
sword into the scabbard.

She revived, but on observing the marquis, screamed and relapsed. He
hastened to the castle for assistance, inventing, to conceal his
disgrace, some pretence for her sudden illness, and she was conveyed
to her chamber.

The marquis was now not suffered to doubt her infidelity, but the
passion which her conduct abused, her faithlessness could not subdue;
he still doated with absurd fondness, and even regretted that
uncertainty could no longer flatter him with hope. It seemed as if his
desire of her affection increased with his knowledge of the loss of
it; and the very circumstance which should have roused his aversion,
by a strange perversity of disposition, appeared to heighten his
passion, and to make him think it impossible he could exist without
her.

When the first energy of his indignation was subsided, he determined,
therefore, to reprove and to punish, but hereafter to restore her to
favor.

In this resolution he went to her apartment, and reprehended her
falsehood in terms of just indignation.

Maria de Vellorno, in whom the late discovery had roused resentment,
instead of awakening penitence; and exasperated pride without exciting
shame--heard the upbraidings of the marquis with impatience, and
replied to them with acrimonious violence.

She boldly asserted her innocence, and instantly invented a story, the
plausibility of which might have deceived a man who had evidence less
certain than his senses to contradict it. She behaved with a
haughtiness the most insolent; and when she perceived that the marquis
was no longer to be misled, and that her violence failed to accomplish
its purpose, she had recourse to tears and supplications. But the
artifice was too glaring to succeed; and the marquis quitted her
apartment in an agony of resentment.

His former fascinations, however, quickly returned, and again held him
in suspension between love and vengeance. That the vehemence of his
passion, however, might not want an object, he ordered Baptista to
discover the retreat of the Cavalier de Vincini on whom he meant to
revenge his lost honor. Shame forbade him to employ others in the
search.

This discovery suspended for a while the operations of the fatal
scheme, which had before employed the thoughts of the marquis; but it
had only suspended--not destroyed them. The late occurrence had
annihilated his domestic happiness; but his pride now rose to rescue
him from despair, and he centered all his future hopes upon ambition.
In a moment of cool reflection, he considered that he had derived
neither happiness or content from the pursuit of dissipated pleasures,
to which he had hitherto sacrificed every opposing consideration. He
resolved, therefore, to abandon the gay schemes of dissipation which
had formerly allured him, and dedicate himself entirely to ambition,
in the pursuits and delights of which he hoped to bury all his cares.
He therefore became more earnest than ever for the marriage of Julia
with the Duke de Luovo, through whose means he designed to involve
himself in the interests of the state, and determined to recover her
at whatever consequence. He resolved, without further delay, to appeal
to the pope; but to do this with safety it was necessary that the
marchioness should die; and he returned therefore to the consideration
and execution of his diabolical purpose.

He mingled a poisonous drug with the food he designed for her; and
when night arrived, carried it to the cell. As he unlocked the door,
his hand trembled; and when he presented the food, and looked
consciously for the last time upon the marchioness, who received it
with humble thankfulness, his heart almost relented. His countenance,
over which was diffused the paleness of death, expressed the secret
movements of his soul, and he gazed upon her with eyes of stiffened
horror. Alarmed by his looks, she fell upon her knees to supplicate
his pity.

Her attitude recalled his bewildered senses; and endeavouring to
assume a tranquil aspect, he bade her rise, and instantly quitted the
cell, fearful of the instability of his purpose. His mind was not yet
sufficiently hardened by guilt to repel the arrows of conscience, and
his imagination responded to her power. As he passed through the long
dreary passages from the prison, solemn and mysterious sounds seemed
to speak in every murmur of the blast which crept along their
windings, and he often started and looked back.

He reached his chamber, and having shut the door, surveyed the room in
fearful examination. Ideal forms flitted before his fancy, and for the
first time in his life he feared to be alone. Shame only withheld him
from calling Baptista. The gloom of the hour, and the death-like
silence that prevailed, assisted the horrors of his imagination. He
half repented of the deed, yet deemed it now too late to obviate it;
and he threw himself on his bed in terrible emotion. His head grew
dizzy, and a sudden faintness overcame him; he hesitated, and at
length arose to ring for assistance, but found himself unable to
stand.

In a few moments he was somewhat revived, and rang his bell; but
before any person appeared, he was seized with terrible pains, and
staggering to his bed, sunk senseless upon it. Here Baptista, who was
the first person that entered his room, found him struggling seemingly
in the agonies of death. The whole castle was immediately roused, and
the confusion may be more easily imagined than described. Emilia,
amid the general alarm, came to her father's room, but the sight of
him overcame her, and she was carried from his presence. By the help
of proper applications the marquis recovered his senses and his pains
had a short cessation.

'I am dying,' said he, in a faultering accent; 'send instantly for the
marchioness and my son.'

Ferdinand, in escaping from the hands of the banditti, it was now
seen, had fallen into the power of his father. He had been since
confined in an apartment of the castle, and was now liberated to obey
the summons. The countenance of the marquis exhibited a ghastly image;
Ferdinand, when he drew near the bed, suddenly shrunk back, overcome
with horror. The marquis now beckoned his attendants to quit the room,
and they were preparing to obey, when a violent noise was heard from
without; almost in the same instant the door of the apartment was
thrown open, and the servant, who had been sent for the marchioness,
rushed in. His look alone declared the horror of his mind, for words
he had none to utter. He stared wildly, and pointed to the gallery he
had quitted. Ferdinand, seized with new terror, rushed the way he
pointed to the apartment of the marchioness. A spectacle of horror
presented itself. Maria lay on a couch lifeless, and bathed in blood.
A poignard, the instrument of her destruction, was on the floor; and
it appeared from a letter which was found on the couch beside her,
that she had died by her own hand. The paper contained these words:


            TO THE MARQUIS DE MAZZINI

Your words have stabbed my heart. No power on earth could
restore the peace you have destroyed. I will escape from my
torture. When you read this, I shall be no more. But the
triumph shall no longer be yours--the draught you have drank
was given by the hand of the injured

                              MARIA DE MAZZINI.


It now appeared that the marquis was poisoned by the vengeance of the
woman to whom he had resigned his conscience. The consternation and
distress of Ferdinand cannot easily be conceived: he hastened back to
his father's chamber, but determined to conceal the dreadful
catastrophe of Maria de Vellorno. This precaution, however, was
useless; for the servants, in the consternation of terror, had
revealed it, and the marquis had fainted.

Returning pains recalled his senses, and the agonies he suffered were
too shocking for the beholders. Medical endeavours were applied, but
the poison was too powerful for antidote. The marquis's pains at
length subsided; the poison had exhausted most of its rage, and he
became tolerably easy. He waved his hand for the attendants to leave
the room; and beckoning to Ferdinand, whose senses were almost stunned
by this accumulation of horror, bade him sit down beside him. 'The
hand of death is now upon me,' said he; 'I would employ these last
moments in revealing a deed, which is more dreadful to me than all the
bodily agonies I suffer. It will be some relief to me to discover it.'
Ferdinand grasped the hand of the marquis in speechless terror. 'The
retribution of heaven is upon me,' resumed the marquis. 'My punishment
is the immediate consequence of my guilt. Heaven has made that woman
the instrument of its justice, whom I made the instrument of my
crimes;----that woman, for whose sake I forgot conscience, and braved
vice--for whom I imprisoned an innocent wife, and afterwards murdered
her.'

At these words every nerve of Ferdinand thrilled; he let go the
marquis's hand and started back. 'Look not so fiercely on me,' said
the marquis, in a hollow voice; 'your eyes strike death to my soul; my
conscience needs not this additional pang.'--'My mother!' exclaimed
Ferdinand--'my mother! Speak, tell me.'--'I have no breath,' said the
marquis. 'Oh!--Take these keys--the south tower--the trapdoor.--'Tis
possible--Oh!--'

The marquis made a sudden spring upwards, and fell lifeless on the
bed; the attendants were called in, but he was gone for ever. His last
words struck with the force of lightning upon the mind of Ferdinand;
they seemed to say that his mother might yet exist. He took the keys,
and ordering some of the servants to follow, hastened to the southern
building; he proceeded to the tower, and the trapdoor beneath the
stair-case was lifted. They all descended into a dark passage, which
conducted them through several intricacies to the door of the cell.
Ferdinand, in trembling horrible expectation, applied the key; the
door opened, and he entered; but what was his surprize when he found
no person in the cell! He concluded that he had mistaken the place,
and quitted it for further search; but having followed the windings of
the passage, by which he entered, without discovering any other door,
he returned to a more exact examination of the cell. He now observed
the door, which led to the cavern, and he entered upon the avenue, but
no person was found there and no voice answered to his call. Having
reached the door of the cavern, which was fastened, he returned lost
in grief, and meditating upon the last words of the marquis. He now
thought that he had mistaken their import, and that the words ''tis
possible,' were not meant to apply to the life of the marchioness, he
concluded, that the murder had been committed at a distant period; and
he resolved, therefore, to have the ground of the cell dug up, and the
remains of his mother sought for.

When the first violence of the emotions excited by the late scenes was
subsided, he enquired concerning Maria de Vellorno.

It appeared that on the day preceding this horrid transaction, the
marquis had passed some hours in her apartment; that they were heard
in loud dispute;--that the passion of the marquis grew high;--that he
upbraided her with her past conduct, and threatened her with a formal
separation. When the marquis quitted her, she was heard walking quick
through the room, in a passion of tears; she often suddenly stopped in
vehement but incoherent exclamation; and at last threw herself on the
floor, and was for some time entirely still. Here her woman found her,
upon whose entrance she arose hastily, and reproved her for appearing
uncalled. After this she remained silent and sullen.

She descended to supper, where the marquis met her alone at table.
Little was said during the repast, at the conclusion of which the
servants were dismissed; and it was believed that during the interval
between supper, and the hour of repose, Maria de Vellorno contrived to
mingle poison with the wine of the marquis. How she had procured this
poison was never discovered.

She retired early to her chamber; and her woman observing that she
appeared much agitated, inquired if she was ill? To this she returned
a short answer in the negative, and her woman was soon afterwards
dismissed. But she had hardly shut the door of the room when she heard
her lady's voice recalling her. She returned, and received some
trifling order, and observed that Maria looked uncommonly pale; there
was besides a wildness in her eyes which frightened her, but she did
not dare to ask any questions. She again quitted the room, and had
only reached the extremity of the gallery when her mistress's bell
rang. She hastened back, Maria enquired if the marquis was gone to
bed, and if all was quiet? Being answered in the affirmative, she
replied, 'This is a still hour and a dark one!--Good night!'

Her woman having once more left the room, stopped at the door to
listen, but all within remaining silent, she retired to rest.

It is probable that Maria perpetrated the fatal act soon after the
dismission of her woman; for when she was found, two hours afterwards,
she appeared to have been dead for some time. On examination a wound
was discovered on her left side, which had doubtless penetrated to the
heart, from the suddenness of her death, and from the effusion of
blood which had followed.

These terrible events so deeply affected Emilia that she was confined
to her bed by a dangerous illness. Ferdinand struggled against the
shock with manly fortitude. But amid all the tumult of the present
scenes, his uncertainty concerning Julia, whom he had left in the
hands of banditti, and whom he had been withheld from seeking or
rescuing, formed, perhaps, the most affecting part of his distress.

The late Marquis de Mazzini, and Maria de Vellorno, were interred with
the honor due to their rank in the church of the convent of St Nicolo.
Their lives exhibited a boundless indulgence of violent and luxurious
passions, and their deaths marked the consequences of such indulgence,
and held forth to mankind a singular instance of divine vengeance.



CHAPTER XVI

In turning up the ground of the cell, it was discovered that it
communicated with the dungeon in which Ferdinand had been confined,
and where he had heard those groans which had occasioned him so much
terror.

The story which the marquis formerly related to his son, concerning
the southern buildings, it was now evident was fabricated for the
purpose of concealing the imprisonment of the marchioness. In the
choice of his subject, he certainly discovered some art; for the
circumstance related was calculated, by impressing terror, to prevent
farther enquiry into the recesses of these buildings. It served, also,
to explain, by supernatural evidence, the cause of those sounds, and
of that appearance which had been there observed, but which were, in
reality, occasioned only by the marquis.

The event of the examination in the cell threw Ferdinand into new
perplexity. The marquis had confessed that he poisoned his wife--yet
her remains were not to be found; and the place which he signified to
be that of her confinement, bore no vestige of her having been there.
There appeared no way by which she could have escaped from her prison;
for both the door which opened upon the cell, and that which
terminated the avenue beyond, were fastened when tried by Ferdinand.

But the young marquis had no time for useless speculation--serious
duties called upon him. He believed that Julia was still in the power
of banditti; and, on the conclusion of his father's funeral, he set
forward himself to Palermo, to give information of the abode of the
robbers, and to repair with the officers of justice, accompanied by a
party of his own people, to the rescue of his sister. On his arrival
at Palermo he was informed, that a banditti, whose retreat had been
among the ruins of a monastery, situated in the forest of Marentino,
was already discovered; that their abode had been searched, and
themselves secured for examples of public justice--but that no captive
lady had been found amongst them. This latter intelligence excited in
Ferdinand a very serious distress, and he was wholly unable to
conjecture her fate. He obtained leave, however, to interrogate those
of the robbers, who were imprisoned at Palermo, but could draw from
them no satisfactory or certain information.

At length he quitted Palermo for the forest of Marentino, thinking it
possible that Julia might be heard of in its neighbourhood. He
travelled on in melancholy and dejection, and evening overtook him
long before he reached the place of his destination. The night came on
heavily in clouds, and a violent storm of wind and rain arose. The
road lay through a wild and rocky country, and Ferdinand could obtain
no shelter. His attendants offered him their cloaks, but he refused to
expose a servant to the hardship he would not himself endure. He
travelled for some miles in a heavy rain; and the wind, which howled
mournfully among the rocks, and whose solemn pauses were filled by the
distant roarings of the sea, heightened the desolation of the scene.
At length he discerned, amid the darkness from afar, a red light
waving in the wind: it varied with the blast, but never totally
disappeared. He pushed his horse into a gallop, and made towards it.

The flame continued to direct his course; and on a nearer approach, he
perceived, by the red reflection of its fires, streaming a long
radiance upon the waters beneath--a lighthouse situated upon a point
of rock which overhung the sea. He knocked for admittance, and the
door was opened by an old man, who bade him welcome.

Within appeared a cheerful blazing fire, round which were seated
several persons, who seemed like himself to have sought shelter from
the tempest of the night. The sight of the fire cheered him, and he
advanced towards it, when a sudden scream seized his attention; the
company rose up in confusion, and in the same instant he discovered
Julia and Hippolitus. The joy of that moment is not to be described,
but his attention was quickly called off from his own situation to
that of a lady, who during the general transport had fainted. His
sensations on learning she was his mother cannot be described.

She revived. 'My son!' said she, in a languid voice, as she pressed
him to her heart. 'Great God, I am recompensed! Surely this moment may
repay a life of misery!' He could only receive her caresses in
silence; but the sudden tears which started in his eyes spoke a
language too expressive to be misunderstood.

When the first emotion of the scene was passed, Julia enquired by what
means Ferdinand had come to this spot. He answered her generally, and
avoided for the present entering upon the affecting subject of the
late events at the castle of Mazzini. Julia related the history of her
adventures since she parted with her brother. In her narration, it
appeared that Hippolitus, who was taken by the Duke de Luovo at the
mouth of the cave, had afterwards escaped, and returned to the cavern
in search of Julia. The low recess in the rock, through which Julia
had passed, he perceived by the light of his flambeau. He penetrated
to the cavern beyond, and from thence to the prison of the
marchioness. No colour of language can paint the scene which followed;
it is sufficient to say that the whole party agreed to quit the cell
at the return of night. But this being a night on which it was known
the marquis would visit the prison, they agreed to defer their
departure till after his appearance, and thus elude the danger to be
expected from an early discovery of the escape of the marchioness.

At the sound of footsteps above, Hippolitus and Julia had secreted
themselves in the avenue; and immediately on the marquis's departure
they all repaired to the cavern, leaving, in the hurry of their
flight, untouched the poisonous food he had brought. Having escaped
from thence they proceeded to a neighbouring village, where horses
were procured to carry them towards Palermo. Here, after a tedious
journey, they arrived, in the design of embarking for Italy. Contrary
winds had detained them till the day on which Ferdinand left that
city, when, apprehensive and weary of delay, they hired a small
vessel, and determined to brave the winds. They had soon reason to
repent their temerity; for the vessel had not been long at sea when
the storm arose, which threw them back upon the shores of Sicily, and
brought them to the lighthouse, where they were discovered by
Ferdinand.

On the following morning Ferdinand returned with his friends to
Palermo, where he first disclosed the late fatal events of the castle.
They now settled their future plans; and Ferdinand hastened to the
castle of Mazzini to fetch Emilia, and to give orders for the removal
of his household to his palace at Naples, where he designed to fix his
future residence. The distress of Emilia, whom he found recovered from
her indisposition, yielded to joy and wonder, when she heard of the
existence of her mother, and the safety of her sister. She departed
with Ferdinand for Palermo, where her friends awaited her, and where
the joy of the meeting was considerably heightened by the appearance
of Madame de Menon, for whom the marchioness had dispatched a
messenger to St Augustin's. Madame had quitted the abbey for another
convent, to which, however, the messenger was directed. This happy
party now embarked for Naples.

From this period the castle of Mazzini, which had been the theatre of
a dreadful catastrophe; and whose scenes would have revived in the
minds of the chief personages connected with it, painful and shocking
reflections--was abandoned.

On their arrival at Naples, Ferdinand presented to the king a clear
and satisfactory account of the late events at the castle, in
consequence of which the marchioness was confirmed in her rank, and
Ferdinand was received as the sixth Marquis de Mazzini.

The marchioness, thus restored to the world, and to happiness, resided
with her children in the palace at Naples, where, after time had
somewhat mellowed the remembrance of the late calamity, the nuptials
of Hippolitus and Julia were celebrated. The recollection of the
difficulties they had encountered, and of the distress they had
endured for each other, now served only to heighten by contrast the
happiness of the present period.

Ferdinand soon after accepted a command in the Neapolitan army; and
amidst the many heroes of that warlike and turbulent age,
distinguished himself for his valour and ability. The occupations of
war engaged his mind, while his heart was solicitous in promoting the
happiness of his family.

Madame de Menon, whose generous attachment to the marchioness had been
fully proved, found in the restoration of her friend a living witness
of her marriage, and thus recovered those estates which had been
unjustly withheld from her. But the marchioness and her family,
grateful to her friendship, and attached to her virtues, prevailed
upon her to spend the remainder of her life at the palace of Mazzini.

Emilia, wholly attached to her family, continued to reside with the
marchioness, who saw her race renewed in the children of Hippolitus
and Julia. Thus surrounded by her children and friends, and engaged in
forming the minds of the infant generation, she seemed to forget that
she had ever been otherwise than happy.

 * * * * *

Here the manuscript annals conclude. In reviewing this story, we
perceive a singular and striking instance of moral retribution. We
learn, also, that those who do only THAT WHICH IS RIGHT, endure
nothing in misfortune but a trial of their virtue, and from trials
well endured derive the surest claim to the protection of heaven.



FINIS



[Transcriber's Note: Some words which appear to be typos are printed
thus in the original book. A list of these possible words follows:
cioset, skriek, ladyrinth, and bad (presumably for bade, "he bad
Julia good-night"). In addition, the book contains (and I have
retained) inconsistant spelling of both common words (e.g. extacy,
exstacy) and proper nouns (Farrini, Ferrini). I have used the
_underscore_ notation to indicate italics. (The text in CAPITALS is
printed as it appears in the original book). Finally, the line of
spaced asterisks, was used to indicate an additional blank line
seperating sections of the text.]





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