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

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


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

´╗┐Title: Godolphin, Volume 6.
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Godolphin, Volume 6." ***

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



GODOLPHIN, Volume 6.
By Edward Bulwer Lytton
(Lord Lytton)


CHAPTER LIX.

CONSTANCE MAKES A DISCOVERY THAT TOUCHES AND ENLIGHTENS HER AS TO
GODOLPHIN'S NATURE.--AN EVENT, ALTHOUGH IN PRIVATE LIFE, NOT WITHOUT ITS
INTEREST.

If Constance most bitterly reproached herself, or rather her slackened
nerves, her breaking health, that she had before another--that other too,
not of her own sex--betrayed her dependence upon even her husband's heart
for happiness; if her conscience instantly took alarm at the error (and it
was indeed a grave one) which had revealed to any man her domestic griefs;
yet, on the other hand, she could not control the wild thrill of delight
with which she recalled those words that had so solemnly assured her she
was still beloved by Godolphin.  She had a firm respect in Radclyffe's
penetration and his sincerity, and knew that he was one neither to deceive
her nor be deceived himself.  His advice, too, came home to her.  Had she,
indeed, with sufficient address, sufficient softness, insinuated herself
into Godolphin's nature?  Neglected herself, had she not neglected in
return?  She asked herself this question, and was never weary of examining
her past conduct.  That Radclyffe, the austere and chilling Radclyffe,
entertained for her any feeling warmer than friendship, she never for an
instant suspected; that suspicion alone would have driven him from her
presence for ever.  And although there had been a time, in his bright and
exulting youth, when Radclyffe had not been without those arts which win,
in the opposite sex, affection from aversion itself, those arts doubled,
ay, a hundredfold, in their fascination, would not have availed him with
the pure but disappointed Constance, even had a sense of right and wrong
very different from the standard he now acknowledged permitted him to
exert them.  So that his was rather the sacrifice of impulse, than of any
triumph that impulse could afterwards have gained him.

Many, and soft and sweet were now the recollections of Constance.  Her
heart flew back to her early love among the shades of Wendover; to the
first confession of the fair enthusiastic boy, when he offered at her
shrine a mind, a genius, a heart capable of fruits which the indolence of
after-life, and the lethargy of disappointed hope, had blighted before
their time.

If he was now so deaf to what she considered the nobler, because more
stirring, excitements of life, was she not in some measure answerable for
the supineness?  Had there not been a day in which he had vowed to toil,
to labour, to sacrifice the very character of his mind, for a union with
her?  Was she, after all, was she right to adhere so rigidly to her
father's dying words, and to that vow afterwards confirmed by her own
pride and bitterness of soul?  She looked to her father's portrait for an
answer; and that daring and eloquent face seemed, for the first time, cold
and unanswering to her appeal.

In such meditations the hours passed, and midnight came on without
Constance having quitted her apartment.  She now summoned her woman, and
inquired if Godolphin was at home.  He had come in about an hour since,
and, complaining of fatigue, had retired to rest.  Constance again
dismissed her maid, and stole to his apartment.  He was already asleep,
his cheek rested on his arm, and his hair fell wildly over a brow that now
worked under the influence of his dreams.  Constance put the light softly
down, and seating herself beside him, watched over a sleep which, if it
had come suddenly on him, was not the less unquiet and disturbed.  At
length he muttered, "Yes, Lucilla, yes; I tell you, you are avenged.  I
have not forgotten you!  I have not forgotten that I betrayed, deserted
you! but was it my fault?  No, no!  Yet I have not the less sought to
forget it.  These poor excesses,--these chilling gaieties,--were they not
incurred for you?--and now you come--you--ah, no--spare me!"

Shocked and startled, Constance drew back.  Here was a new key to
Godolphin's present life, his dissipation, his thirst for pleasure.  Had
he indeed sought to lull the stings of conscience?  And she, instead of
soothing, of reconciling him to the past, had she left him alone to
struggle with bitter and unresting thoughts, and to contrast the devotion
of the one lost with the indifference of the one gained?  She crept back
to her own chamber, to commune with her heart and be still.

"My dear Percy," said she, the next day, when he carelessly sauntered
into her boudoir before he rode out, "I have a favour to ask of you."

"Who ever denied a favour to Lady Erpingham?"

"Not you, certainly; but my favour is a great one."

"It is granted."

"Let us pass the summer in ----shire."

Godolphin's brow clouded.

"At Wendover Castle?" said he, after a pause.

"We have never been there since our marriage," said Constance evasively.

"Humph!--as you will."

"It was the place," said Constance, "where you, Percy, first told me you
loved!"

The tone of his wife's voice struck on the right chord in Godolphin's
breast; he looked up, and saw her eyes full of tears and fixed upon him.

"Why, Constance," said he, much affected, "who would have thought that you
still cherished that remembrance?"

"Ah!  when shall I forget it?" said Constance; "then you loved me!"

"And was rejected."

"Hush! but I believe now that I was wrong."

"No, Constance; you were wrong, for your own happiness, that the rejection
was not renewed."

"Percy!"

"Constance!" and in the accent of that last word there was something that
encouraged Constance, and she threw herself into Godolphin's arms, and
murmured:--

"If I have offended, forgive me; let us be to each other what we once
were."

Words like these from the lips of one in whom such tender supplications,
such feminine yearnings, were not common, subdued Godolphin at once.  He
folded her in his arms, and kissing her passionately, whispered, "Be
always thus, Constance, and you will be more to me than ever."

CHAPTER LX.

THE REFORM BILL.--A VERY SHORT CHAPTER.

This reconcilation was not so short-lived as matters of the kind
frequently are.  There is a Chinese proverb which says: "How near are two
hearts when there is no deceit between them!"  And the misunderstanding of
their mutual sentiments being removed, their affection became at once
visible to each other.  And Constance reproaching herself for her former
pride mingled in her manner to her husband a gentle, even an humble
sweetness, which, being exactly that which he had most desired in her, was
what most attracted him.

At this time, Lord John Russell brought forward the Bill of Parliamentary
Reform.  Lady Erpingham.  was in the lantern of the House of Commons on
that memorable night; like every one else, her feelings at first were all
absorbed in surprise.  She went home; she hastened to Godolphin's library.
Leaning his head on his hand, that strange person, in the midst of events
that stirred the destinies of Europe, was absorbed in the old subtleties
of Spinosa.  In the frank confidence of revived love, she put her hand
upon his shoulder, and told him rapidly that news which was then on its
way to terrify or delight the whole of England.

"Will this charm you, dear Constance?" said he kindly; "is it a blow to
the party you hate, and I sympathise with --or----

"My father," interrupted Constance, passionately, "would to Heaven he had
seen this day!  It was this system, the patron and the nominee system,
that crushed, and debased, and killed him.  And now, I shall see that
system destroyed!"

"So, then, my Constance will go over to the Whigs in earnest?"

"Yes, because I shall meet there truth and the people!"

Godolphin laughed gently at the French exaggeration of the saying, and
Constance forgave him.  The fine ladies of London were a little divided as
to the merits of the "Bill;" Constance was the first that declared in its
favour.  She was air important ally--as important at least as a woman can
be.  A bright spirit reigned in her eye; her step grew more elastic; her
voice more glad.  This was the happiest time of her life--she was happy in
the renewal of her love, happy in the approaching triumph of her hate.

CHAPTER LXI.

THE SOLILOQUY OF THE SOOTHSAYER.--AN EPISODICAL MYSTERY, INTRODUCED AS A
TYPE OF THE MANY THINGS IN LIFE THAT ARE NEVER ACCOUNTED FOR.--GRATUITOUS
DEVIATIONS FROM OUR COMMON CAREER.

In Leicester Square there is a dim old house, which I have but this
instant visited, in order to bring back more vividly to my recollection
the wild and unhappy being who, for some short time, inhabited its
old-fashioned and gloomy chambers.

In that house, at the time I now speak of, lodged the mysterious Liehbur.
It was late at noon, and she sat alone in her apartment, which was
darkened so as to exclude the broad and peering sun.  There was no trick,
nor sign of the fallacious art she professed, visible in the large and
melancholy room.  One or two books in the German language lay on the table
beside which she sat: but they were of the recent poetry, and not of the
departed dogmas, of the genius of that tongue.  The enthusiast was alone;
and, with her hand supporting her chin, and her eyes fixed on vacancy, she
seemed feeding in silence the thoughts that flitted to and fro athwart a
brain which had for years lost its certain guide; a deserted mansion,
whence the lord had departed, and where spirits not of this common life
had taken up their haunted and desolate abode.  And never was there a
countenance better suited to the character which this singular woman had
assumed.  Rich, thick, auburn hair was parted loosely over a brow in which
the large and full temples would have betrayed to a phrenologist the great
preponderance which the dreaming and the imaginative bore over the sterner
faculties.  Her eyes were deep, intense, but of the bright and wandering
glitter which is so powerful in its effect on the beholder, because it
betokens that thought which is not of this daily world and inspires that
fear, that sadness, that awe, which few have looked on the face of the
insane and not experienced.  Her features were still noble, and of the
fair Greek symmetry of the painter's Sibyl; but the cheeks were worn and
hollow, and one bright spot alone broke their marble paleness; her lips
were, however, full, and yet red, and by their uncertain and varying play,
gave frequent glimpses of teeth lustrously white; which, while completing
the beauty of her face, aided--with somewhat of a fearful effect--the
burning light of her strange eyes, and the vague, mystic expression of her
abrupt and unjoyous smile.  You might see when her features were, as now,
in a momentary repose, that her health was broken, and that she was not
long sentenced to wander over that world where the soul had already ceased
to find its home; but the instant she spoke, her colour deepened, and the
brilliant and rapid alternations of her countenance deceived the eye, and
concealed the ravages of the worm that preyed within.

"Yes," said she, at last breaking silence, and soliloquising in
the English tongue, but with somewhat of a foreign accent; "yes, I am in
his city; within a few paces of his home; I have seen him, I have heard
him.  Night after night--in rain, and in the teeth of the biting winds, I
have wandered round his home.  Ay! and I could have raised my voice, and
shrieked a warning and a prophecy, that should have startled him from his
sleep as the trumpet of the last angel! but I hushed the sound within my
soul, and covered the vision with a thick silence.  O God! what have I
seen, and felt, and known, since he last saw me!  But we shall meet again;
and ere the year has rolled round, I shall feel the touch of his lips and
die!  Die! what calmness, what luxury in the word!  The fiery burthen of
this dread knowledge I have heaped upon me, shuffled off; memory no more;
the past, the present, the future exorcised; and a long sleep, with bright
dreams of a lulling sky, and a silver voice, and his presence!"

The door opened, and a black girl of about ten years old, in the costume
of her Moorish tribe, announced the arrival of a new visitor.  The
countenance of Madame Liehbur changed at once into an expression of cold
and settled calmness; she ordered the visitor to be admitted; and
presently, Stainforth Radclyffe entered the room.

   *   *   *   *   *   *
   *   *   *   *   *   *

"Thou mistakest me and my lore," said the diviner; "I meddle not with the
tricks and schemes of the worldly; I show the truth, not garble it."

"Pshaw!" said Radclyffe, impatiently; "this jargon cannot deceive me.  You
exhibit your skill for money.  I ask one exertion of it, and desire you to
name your reward.  Let us talk after the fashion of this world, and leave
that of the other to our dupes."

"Yet, thou hast known grief too," said the diviner, musingly, "and those
who have sorrowed ought to judge more gently of each other.  Wilt thou try
my art on thyself, ere thou askest it for others?"

"Ay, if you could restore the dead to my dreams."

"I can!" replied the soothsayer, sternly.

Radclyffe laughed bitterly.  "Away with this talk to me; or, if you would
convince me, raise at once the spectre I desire to see!"

"And dost thou think, vain man," replied Liehbur, haughtily, "that I
pretend to the power thou speakest of?  Yes; but not as the impostors of
old (dull and gross, appealing to outward spells, and spells wrought by
themselves alone) affected to do.  I can bring the dead before thee, but
thou thyself must act upon thyself."

"Mummery!  What would you drive at?"

"Wilt thou fast three days, and for three nights abstain from sleep, and
then visit me once again?"

"No, fair deluder; such a preliminary is too much to ask of a Neophyte.
Three days without food, and three nights without sleep!  Why, you would
have to raise myself from the dead!"

"And canst thou," said the diviner, with great dignity, "canst thou hope
that thou wouldst be worthy of a revelation from a higher world--that for
thee the keys of the grave should unlock their awful treasure, and the
dead return to life, when thou scruplest to mortify thy flesh and.
loosen the earthly bonds that cumber and chain the spirit?  I tell thee,
that only as the soul detaches itself from the frame, can its inner and
purer sense awaken, and the full consciousness of the invisible and divine
things that surround it descend upon its powers."

"And what," said Radclyffe, startled more by the countenance and voice
than the words themselves of the soothsayer; "what would you then do,
supposing that I perform this penance?"

"Awaken to their utmost sense, even to pain and torture, the naked nerves
of that Great Power thou callest the Imagination; that Power which
presides over dreams and visions, which kindles song, and lives in the
heart of Melodies; which inspired the Magian of the East and the Pythian
voices--and, in the storms and thunder of savage lands originated the
notion of a God and the seeds of human worship; that vast presiding Power
which, to the things of mind, is what the Deity is to the Universe
itself--the creator of all.  I would awaken, I say, that Power from its
customary sleep where, buried in the heart, it folds its wings, and lives
but by fits and starts, unquiet, but unaroused; and by that Power thou
wouldst see, and feel, and know, and through it only thou wouldst exist.
So that it would be with thee, as if the body were not: as if thou wert
already all-spiritual, all-living.  So thou wouldst learn in life that
which may be open to thee after death; and so, soul might now, as
hereafter, converse with soul, and revoke the Past, and sail prescient
down the dark tides of the Future.  A brief and fleeting privilege, but
dearly purchased: be wise, and disbelieve in it; be happy, and reject it!"

Radclyffe was impressed, despite himself, by the solemn novelty of this
language, and the deep mournfulness with which the soothsayer's last
sentence died away.

"And how," said he, after a pause, "how, and by what arts would you so
awaken the imaginative faculty?"

"Ask not until the time comes for the trial," answered Liebhur.

"But can you awaken it in all?--the dull, the unideal, as in the musing
and exalted?"

"No! but the dull and unideal will not go through the necessary ordeal.
Few besides those for whom fate casts her great parts in life's drama,
ever come to that point when I can teach them the Future."

"Do you mean that your chief votaries are among the great?  Pardon me, I
should have thought the most superstitious are to be found among the most
ignorant and lowly."

"Yes; but they consult only what imposes on their credulity, without
demanding stern and severe sacrifice of time and enjoyment, as I do.  The
daring, the resolute, the scheming with their souls intent upon great
objects and high dreams-those are the men who despise the charms of the
moment, who are covetous of piercing the far future, who know how much of
their hitherward career has been brightened, not by genius or nature, but
some strange confluence of events, some mysterious agency of fate.  The
great are always fortunate, and therefore mostly seekers into the decrees
of fortune."

So great is the influence which enthusiasm, right or wrong, always
exercises over us, that even the hard and acute Radclyffe-who had entered
the room with the most profound contempt for the pretensions of the
soothsayer, and partly from a wish to find materials for ridiculing a
folly of the day, partly, it may be from the desire to examine which
belonged to his nature--began to consider in his own mind whether he
should yield to his curiosity, now strongly excited, and pledge himself to
the preliminary penance the diviner had ordained.

The soothsayer continued:--

"The stars, and the clime, and the changing moon have power over us--why
not?  Do they not have influence over the rest of nature?  But we can only
unravel their more august and hidden secrets, by giving full wing to the
creative spirit which first taught us their elementary nature, and which,
when released from earth, will have full range to wander over their
brilliant fields.  Know in one word, the Imagination and the Soul are one,
one indivisible and the same; on that truth rests all my lore."

"And if I followed your precepts, what other preliminaries would you
enjoin?"

"Not until thou engagest to perform them, will I tell thee more."

"I engage!"

"And swear?"

"I swear!"

The soothsayer rose--and----

     *     *     *     *     *
     *     *     *     *     *
     *     *     *     *     *

CHAPTER LXII.

IN WHICH THE COMMON LIFE GLIDES INTO THE STRANGE.--EQUALLY TRUE, BUT THE
TRUTH NOT EQUALLY ACKNOWLEDGED.

It was on the night of this interview that Constance, coming into
Godolphin's room, found him leaning against the wall, pale, and agitated,
and almost insensible.  "Percy--Percy, you are ill!"  she exclaimed, and
wound her arms round his neck.  He looked at her long and wistfully,
breathing hard all the time, until at length he seemed slowly to recover
his self-possession, and seating himself, motioned Constance to do the
same.  After a pause, he said, clasping her hand.

"Listen to me, Constance.  My health, I fear, is breaking; I am tormented
by fearful visions; I am possessed by some magic influence.  For several
nights successively, before falling asleep, a cold tremor has gradually
pervaded my frame; the roots of my hair stand on end; my teeth chatter; a
vague horror seizes me; my blood seems turned to a solid substance, so
curdled and stagnant is it.  I strive to speak, to cry out, but my voice
clings to the roof of my mouth; I feel that I have no longer power over
myself.  Suddenly, and in the very midst of this agony, I fall into a
heavy sleep; then come strange bewildering dreams, with Volktman's
daughter for ever presiding over them; but with a changed countenance,
calm, unutterably calm, and gazing on me with eyes that burn into my soul.
The dream fades, I wake with the morning, but exhausted and enfeebled.  I
have consulted physicians; I have taken drugs; but I cannot break the
spell--the previous horror and the after-dreams.  And just now, Constance,
just now--you see the window is open to the park, the gate of the garden
is unclosed; I happened to lift my eyes, and lo! gazing upon me in the
sickly moonlight, was the countenance of my dreams--Lucilla's, but how
altered!  Merciful Heaven! is it a mockery, or can the living Lucilla
really be in England? and have these visions, these terrors been part of
that mysterious sympathy which united us ever, and which her father
predicted should cease but with our lives?"

The emotions of Godolphin were so rarely visible, and in the present
instance they were so unaffected, and so roused, that Constance could not
summon courage to soothe, to cheer him; she herself was alarmed and
shocked, and glanced fearfully towards the window, lest the apparition he
had spoken of should reappear.  All without was still, not a leaf stirred
on the trees in the Mall; no human figure was to be seen.  She turned
again to Godolphin, and kissed the drops from his brow, and pressed his
cheek to her bosom.

"I have a presentiment," said he, "that something dreadful will happen
shortly.  I feel as if I were near some great crisis of my life; and as if
I were about to step from the bright and palpable world into regions of
cloud and dark ness.  Constance, strange misgivings as to my choice in my
past life haunt and perplex me.  I have sought only the present; I have
adjured all toil, all ambition, and laughed at the future; my hand has
plucked the rose-leaves, and now they lie withered in the grasp.  My youth
flies me--age scowls on me from the distance; an age of frivolities that I
once scorned; yet--yet, had I formed a different creed, how much I might
have done!  But--but, out on this cant!  My nerves are shattered, and I
prate nonsense.  Lend me your arm, Constance, let us go into the saloon,
and send for music!"

And all that night Constance watched by the side of Godolphin, and marked
in mute terror the convulsions that wrung his sleep, the foam that
gathered to his lip, the cries that broke from his tongue.  But she was
rewarded when, with the grey dawn, he awoke, and, catching her tender and
tearful gaze, flung himself upon her bosom, and bade God bless her for her
love!


CHAPTER LXIII.

A MEETING BETWEEN CONSTANCE AND THE PROPHETESS.

A strange suspicion had entered Constance's mind, and for Godolphin's sake
she resolved to put it to the proof.  She drew her mantle round her
stately figure, put on a large disguising bonnet, and repaired to Madame
Liehbur's house.

The Moorish girl opened the door to the countess; and her strange dress,
her African hue and features, relieved by the long, glittering pendants in
her ears, while they seemed suited to the eccentric reputation of her
mistress, brought a slight smile to the proud lip of Lady Erpingham, as
she conceived them a part of the charlatanism practised by the soothsayer.
The girl only replied to Lady Erpingham's question by an intelligent sign;
and running lightly up the stairs, conducted the guest into an anteroom,
where she waited but for a few moments before she was admitted into Madame
Liehbur's apartment.

The effect that the personal beauty of the diviner always produced on
those who beheld her was not less powerful than usual on the surprised and
admiring gaze of Lady Erpingham.  She bowed her haughty brow with
involuntary respect, and took the seat to which the enthusiast beckoned.

"And what, lady," said the soothsayer, in the foreign music of her low
voice, "what brings thee hither?  Wouldst thou gain, or hast thou lost,
that gift our poor sex prizes so dearly beyond its value?  Is it of love
that thou wouldst speak to the interpreter of dreams and the priestess of
the things to come?"

While the bright-eyed Liehbur thus spoke, the countess examined through
her veil the fair face before her, comparing it with that description
which Godolphin had given her of the sculptor's daughter, and her
suspicion acquired new strength.

"I seek not that which you allude to," said Constance; "but of the future,
although without any definite object, I would indeed like to question you.
All of us love to pry into dark recesses hid from our view, and over which
you profess the empire."

"Your voice is sweet, but commanding," said the oracle; and your air is
stately, as of one born in courts.  Lift your veil, that I may gaze upon
your face, and tell by its lines the fate your character has shaped for
you."

"Alas!" answered Constance, "life betrays few of its past signs by outward
token.  If you have no wiser art than that drawn from the lines and
features of our countenances, I shall still remain what I am now--an
unbeliever in your powers."

"The brow, and the lip, and the eye, and the expression of each and all,"
answered Liehbur, "are not the lying index you suppose them."

"Then," rejoined Constance, "by those signs will I read your own destiny,
as you would read mine."

The sibyl started, and waved her hand impatiently; but Constance
proceeded.

"Your birth, despite your fair locks, was under a southern sky; you were
nursed in the delusions you now teach; you were loved, and left alone; you
are in the country of your lover.  Is it not so?--am I not an oracle in my
turn?"

The mysterious Liehbur fell back in her chair; her lips apart and
blanched--her hands clasped--her eyes fixed upon her visitant.

"Who are you?" she cried at last, in a shrill tone; "who, of my own sex,
knows my wretched history?  Speak, speak!--in mercy speak! tell me more!
convince me that you have but vainly guessed my secret, or that you have a
right to know it!"

"Did not your father forsake, for the blue skies of Rome, his own colder
shores?" continued Constance, adopting the heightened and romantic tone
of the one she addressed; and, "Percy Godolphin--is that name still
familiar to the ear of Lucilla Volktman?"

A loud, long shriek burst from the lips of the soothsayer, and she sank at
once lifeless on the ground.  Greatly alarmed, and repenting her own
abruptness, Constance hastened to her assistance.  She lifted the poor
being, whom she unconsciously had once contributed so deeply to injure,
from the ground; she loosened her dress, and perceived that around her
neck hung a broad ivory necklace wrought with curious characters, and many
uncouth forms and symbols.  This evidence that, in deluding others, the
soothsayer deluded herself also, touched and affected the countess; and
while she was still busy in chafing the temples of Lucilla, the Moor,
brought to the spot by that sudden shriek, entered the apartment.  She
seemed surprised and terrified at her mistress's condition, and poured
forth, in some tongue unknown to Constance, what seemed to her a volley of
mingled reproach and lamentation.  She seized Lady Erpingham's hand,
dashed it indignantly away, and, supporting herself the ashen cheek of
Lucilla, motioned to Lady Erpingham to depart; but Constance, not easily
accustomed to obey, retained her position beside the still insensible
Lucilla; and now, by slow degrees, and with quick and heavy sighs, the
unfortunate daughter of Volktman returned to life and consciousness.

In assisting Lucilla, the countess had thrown aside her veil, and the eyes
of the soothsayer opened upon that superb beauty, which once to see was
never to forget.  Involuntarily she again closed her eyes, and groaned
audibly; and then, summoning all her courage, she withdrew her hand from
Constance's clasp, and bade her Moorish handmaid leave them once more
alone.

"So, then," said Lucilla, after a pause, "it is Percy Godolphin's wife; his
English wife, who has come to gaze on the fallen, the degraded Lucilla;
and yet," sinking her voice into a tone of ineffable and plaintive
sweetness--"yet I have slept on his bosom, and been dear and sacred to
him as thou!  Go, proud lady, go!--leave me to my mad, and sunken, and
solitary state.  Go!"

"Dear Lucilla!"  said Constance, kindly, and striving once more to take
her hand, "do not cast me away from you.  I have long sympathised with
your generous although erring heart--your bard and bitter misfortunes.
Look on me only as your friend--nay, your sister, if you will.  Let me
persuade you to leave this strange and desultory life; choose your own
home: I am rich to overflowing; all you can desire shall be at your
command.  He shall not know more of you unless (to assuage the remorse
that the memory of you does, I know, still occasion him) you will suffer
him to learn, from your own hand, that you are well and at ease, and that
you do not revoke your former pardon.  Come, dear Lucilla!" and the arm
of the generous and bright-souled Constance gently wound round the feeble
frame of Lucilla, who now, reclining back, wept as if her heart would
break.

"Come, give me the deep, the grateful joy of thinking I can minister to
your future comforts.  I was the cause of all your wretchedness; but for
me, Godolphin would have been yours for ever--would probably, by marriage,
have redressed your wrongs; but for me you would not have wandered an
outcast over the inhospitable world.  Let me in something repair what I
have cost you.  Speak to me, Lucilla!"

"Yes, I will speak to you," said poor Lucilla, throwing herself on the
ground, and clasping with grateful warmth the knees of her gentle soother;
"for long, long years--I dare not think how many--I have not heard the
voice of kindness fall upon my ear.  Among strange faces and harsh tongues
hath my lot been cast; and if I have wrought out from the dreams of my
young hours the course of this life (which you contemn, but not justly),
it has been that I may stand alone and not dependent; feared and not
despised.  And now you, you whom I admire and envy, and would reverence
more than living woman (for he loves you and deems you worthy of him),
you, lady, speak to me as a sister would speak, and--and----"  Here sobs
interrupted Lucilla's speech; and Constance herself, almost equally
affected, and finding it vain to attempt to raise her, knelt by her side,
and tenderly caressing her, sought to comfort her, even while she wept in
doing so.

And this was a beautiful passage in the life of the lofty Constance.
Never did she seem more noble than when, thus lowly and humbling herself,
she knelt beside the poor victim of her husband's love, and whispered to
the diseased and withering heart tidings of comfort, charity, home, and a
futurity of honour and of peace.  But this was not a dream that could long
lull the perturbed and erring brain of Lucilla Volktman.  And when she
recovered, in some measure, her self-possession, she rose, and throwing
back the wild hair from her throbbing temples, she said, in a calm and
mournful voice:

"Your kindness comes too late.  I am dying, fast--fast.  All that is left
to me in the world are these very visions, this very power--call it
delusion if you will--from which you would tear me.  Nay, look not so
reproachfully, and in such wonder.  Do you not know that men have in
poverty, sickness, and all outer despair, clung to a creative spirit
within--a world peopled with delusions--and called it Poetry? and that
gift has been more precious to them than all that wealth and pomp could
bestow?  So," continued Lucilla, with fervid and insane enthusiasm, "so is
this, my creative spirit, my imaginary world, my inspiration, what poetry
may be to others.  I may be mistaken in the truth of my belief.  There are
times when my brain is cool, and my frame at rest, and I sit alone and
think over the real past--when I feel my trust shaken, and my ardour
damped: but that thought does not console but torture me, and I hasten to
plunge once more among the charms, and spells, and mighty dreams, that
wrap me from my living self.  Oh, lady! bright, and beautiful, and lofty,
as you are, there may come a time when you can conceive that even madness
may be a relief.  For" (and here the wandering light burned brighter in
the enthusiast's glowing eyes), "for, when the night is round us, and
there is peace on earth, and the world's children sleep, it is a wild joy
to sit alone and vigilant, and forget that we live and are wretched.  The
stars speak to us then with a wondrous and stirring voice; they tell us of
the doom of men and the wreck of empires, and prophesy of the far events
which they taught to the old Chaldeans.  And then the Winds, walking to
and fro as they list, bid us go forth with them and hear the songs of the
midnight spirits; for you know," she whispered with a smile, putting her
hand upon the arm of the appalled and shrinking Constance, who now saw how
hopeless was the ministry she had undertaken, "though this world is given
up to two tribes of things that live and have a soul: the one bodily and
palpable as we are; the other more glorious, but invisible to our dull
sight--though I have seen them--Dread Solemn Shadows, even in their mirth;
the night is their season as the day is ours; they march in the moonbeams,
and are borne upon the wings of the winds.  And with them, and by their
thoughts, I raise myself from what I am and have been.  Ah, lady, wouldst
thou take this comfort from me?"

"But," said Constance, gathering courage from the gentleness which
Lucilla's insanity now wore, and trying to soothe, not contradict her in
her present vein, "but in the country, Lucilla, in some quiet and
sheltered nook, you might indulge these visions without the cares and
uncertainty that must now perplex you; without leading this dangerous and
roving life, which must at times expose you to insult, to annoyance, and
discontent you with, yourself."

"You are mistaken, lady," said the astrologer, proudly; "none know me who
do not fear.  I am powerful, and I hug my power--it comforts me: without
it, what should I be?--an abject, forsaken, miserable woman.  No! that
power I possess--to shake men's secret souls--even if it be a deceit--even
if I should laugh at them, not pity--reconciles me to myself and to the
past.  And I am not poor, madam," as, with the common caprice of her
infirmity, an angry suspicion seemed to cross her; "I want no one's
charity, I have learned to maintain myself.  Nay, I could be even wealthy
if I would!"

"And," said Constance, seeing that for the present she must postpone her
benevolent intentions, "and he--Godolphin--you forgive him still?"

At that name, it was as if a sudden charm had been whispered to the
fevered heart of the poor fanatic; her head sank from its proud bearing; a
deep, a soft blush coloured the wan cheek; her arms drooped beside her;
she trembled violently; and, after a moment's silence, sank again on her
seat and covered her face with her hands.  "Ah!" said she, softly, "that
word brings me back to my young days, when I asked no power but what love
gave me over one heart: it brings me back to the blue Italian lake, and
the waving pines, and our solitary home, and my babe's distant grave.
Tell me," she cried, again starting up, "has he not spoken of me
lately--has he not seen me in his dreams? have I not been present to his
soul when the frame, torpid and locked, severed us no more, and, in the
still hours, I charmed myself to his gaze?  Tell me, has he not owned that
Lucilla haunted his pillow?  Tell me; and if I err, my spells are nothing,
my power is vanity, and I am the helpless creature thou wouldst believe
me!"

Despite her reason and her firm sense, Constance half shuddered at these
mysterious words, as she recalled what Percy had told her of his dreams
the preceding evening, and the emotions she herself had witnessed in his
slumbers when she watched beside his bed.  She remained silent, and
Lucilla regarded her countenance with a sort of triumph.

"My art, then, is not so idle as thou wouldst hold it.  But--hush!--last
night I beheld him, not in spirit, but visibly, face to face: for I wander
at times before his home (his home was once mine!) and he saw me, and was
smitten with fear; in these worn features he could recognise not the
living Lucilla he had known.  But go to him!--thou, his wife, his own--go
to him; tell him--no, tell him not of me.  He must not seek me; we must
not held parley together: for oh, lady" (and Lucilla's face became settled
into an expression so sad, so unearthly sad, that no word can paint, no
heart conceive, its utter and solemn sorrow), "when we two meet again to
commune,--to converse,--when once more I touch that band, when once more I
feel that beloved, that balmy breath;--my last hour is at hand--and
danger--imminent, dark, and deadly danger, clings fast to him!"

As she spoke, Lucilla closed her eyes, as it to shut some horrid vision
from her gaze; and Constance looked fearfully round, almost expecting some
apparition at hand.  Presently Lucilla, moving silently across the room,
beckoned to the countess to follow: she did so: they entered another
apartment: before a recess there hung a black curtain: Lucilla drew it
slowly aside, and Constance turned her eyes from a dazzling light that
broke upon them; when she again looked, she beheld a sort of glass dial
marked with various quaint hieroglyphics and the figures of angels,
beautifully wrought; but around the dial, which was circular, were ranged
many stars, and the planets, set in due order.  These were lighted from
within by some chemical process, and burnt with a clear and lustrous, but
silver light.  And Constance observed that the dial turned round, and that
the stars turned with it, each in a separate motion; and in the midst of
the dial were the bands as of a clock-that moved, but so slowly, that the
most patient gaze alone could observe the motion.

While the wondering Constance regarded this singular device, Lucilla
pointed to one star that burned brighter than the rest; and below it,
half-way down the dial, was another, a faint and sickly orb, that, when
watched, seemed to perform a much more rapid and irregular course than its
fellows.

"The bright star is his," said she; "and yon dim and dying one is the type
of mine.  Note: in the course they both pursue they must meet at last; and
when they meet, the mechanism of the whole halts--the work of the dial is
for ever done.  These hands indicate hourly the progress made to that end;
for it is the mimicry and symbol of mine.  Thus do I number the days of my
fate; thus do I know, even almost to a second, the period in which I shall
join my Father that is in Heaven!

"And now," continued the maniac (though maniac is too harsh and decided a
word for the dreaming wildness of Lucilla's insanity), as, dropping the
curtain, she took her guest's hand and conducted her back into the outer
room--"and now, farewell!  You sought me, and, I feel, only from kind and
generous motives.  We never shall meet more.  Tell not your husband that
you have seen me.  He will know soon, too soon, of my existence: fain
would I spare him that pang and," growing pale as she spoke, "that peril;
but Fate forbids it.  What is writ, is writ: and who shall blot God's
sentence from the stars, which are His book?  Farewell! high thoughts are
graved upon your brow may they bless you; or, where they fail to bless,
may they console and support.  Farewell! I have not yet forgotten to be
grateful, and I still dare to pray."

Thus saying, Lucilla kissed the hand she had held, and turning hastily
away, regained the room she had just left; and, locking the door, left the
stunned and bewildered countess to depart from the melancholy abode.  With
faltering steps she quitted the chamber, and at the foot of the stairs the
little Moor awaited her.  To her excited fancy there was something eltrich
and preternatural in the gaze of the young African, and the grin of her
pearly teeth, as she opened the door to the visitant.  Hastening to her
carriage, which she had left at a corner of the square, the countess
rejoiced when she gained it; and throwing herself back on the luxurious
cushions, felt as exhausted by this starry and weird incident in the epic
of life's common career, as if she had partaken of that overpowering
inspiration which she now almost incredulously asked herself, as she
looked forth on the broad day and the busy streets, if she had really
witnessed.

CHAPTER LXIV.

LUCILLA'S FLIGHT.--THE PERPLEXITY OF LADY ERPINGHAM.--A CHANGE COMES OVER
GODOLPHIN'S MIND.--HIS CONVERSATION WITH RADCLYFFE.--GENERAL
ELECTION.--GODOLPHIN BECOMES A SENATOR.

No human heart ever beat with more pure and generous emotions, when freed
from the political fever that burned within her (withering, for the
moment, the chastened and wholesome impulses of her nature), than those
which animated the heart of the queenly Constance.  She sent that evening
for the most celebrated physician in London--that polished and courtly man
who seems born for the maladies of the drawing-room, but who beneath so
urbane a demeanour, conceals so accurate and profound a knowledge of the
disorders of his unfortunate race.  I say accurate and profound
comparatively, for positive knowledge of pathology is what no physician in
modern times and civilized countries really possesses.  No man cures
us--the highest art is not to kill!  Constance, then, sent for this
physician, and, as delicately as possible, related the unfortunate state
of Lucilla, and the deep anxiety she felt for her mental and bodily
relief.  The physician promised to call the next day; he did so, late in
the afternoon--Lucilla was gone.  Strange, self-willed, mysterious, she
came like a dream, to warn, to terrify, and to depart.  They knew not
whither she had fled, and her Moorish handmaid alone attended her.

Constance was deeply chagrined at this intelligence; for she had already
begun to build castles in the air, which poor Lucilla, with a frame
restored, and a heart at ease, and nothing left of the past but a soft and
holy penitence, should inhabit.  The countess, however, consoled herself
with the hope that Lucilla would at least write to her, and mention her
new place of residence; but days passed and no letter came.

Constance felt that her benevolent intentions were doomed to be
unfulfilled.  She was now greatly perplexed whether or not to relate to
Godolphin the interview that had taken place between her and Lucilla.  She
knew the deep, morbid, and painful interest which the memory of this wild
and visionary creature created in Godolphin; and she trembled at the
feeling she might re-awaken by even a faint picture of the condition and
mental infirmities of her whose life he had so darkly shadowed.  She
resolved, therefore, at all events for the present, and until every hope
of discovering Lucilla once more had expired, to conceal the meeting that
had occurred.  And in this resolve she was strengthened by perceiving that
Godolphin's mind had become gradually calmed from its late excitement, and
that he had begun to consider, or at least appeared to consider the
apparition of Lucilla at his window, as the mere delusion of a heated
imagination.  His nights grew once more tranquil, and freed from the dark
dreams that had tormented his brain; and even the cool and unimaginative
Constance could scarcely divest herself of the wild fancy that, when
Lucilla was near, a secret and preternatural sympathy between Godolphin
and the reader of the stars had produced that influence over his nightly
dreams which paled, and receded, and vanished, as Lucilla departed from
the actual circle in which he lived.

It was at this time, too, that a change was perceptible in Godolphin's
habits, and crept gradually over the character of his thoughts.
Dissipation ceased to allure him, the light wit of his parasites palled
upon his ear; magnificence had lost its gloss, and the same fastidious,
exacting thirst for the ideal which had disappointed him in the better
objects of life, began now to discontent him with its glittering
pleasures.

The change was natural and the causes not difficult to fathom.  The fact
was, that Godolphin had now arrrived at that period of existence when a
man's character is almost invariably subject to great change; the crisis
in life's fever, when there is a new turn in our fate, and our moral death
or regeneration is sealed by the silent wavering, or the solemn decision
of the Hour.  Arrived at the confines of middle age, there is an outward
innovation in the whole system; unlooked-for symptoms break forth in the
bodily, unlooked-for symptoms in the mental, frame.  It happened to
Godolphin that, at this critical period, a chance, a circumstance, a
straw, had reunited his long interrupted, but never stifled affections to
the image of his beautiful Constance.  The reign of passion, the magic of
those sweet illusions, that ineffable yearning which possession mocks,
although it quells at last, were indeed for ever over; but a friendship
more soft and genial than exists in any relation, save that of husband and
wife, had sprung up, almost as by a miracle (so sudden was it), between
breasts for years divided.  And the experience of those years had taught
Godolphin how frail and unsubstantial had been all the other ties he had
formed.  He wondered, as sitting alone with Constance, her tenderness
recalled the past, her wit enlivened the present, and his imagination
still shed a glory and a loveliness over the future, that he had been so
long insensible to the blessing of that communion which he now
experienced.  He did not perceive what in fact was the case--that the
tastes and sympathies of each, blunted by that disappointment which is the
child of experience, were more willing to concede somewhat to the tastes
and sympathies of the other; that Constance gave a more indulgent
listening to his beautiful refinements of an ideal and false epicurism;
that he, smiling still, smiled with kindness, not with scorn, at the
sanguine politics, the worldly schemes, and the rankling memories of the
intriguing Constance.  Fortunately, too, for her, the times were such,
that men who never before dreamed of political interference were roused
and urged into the mighty conflux of battling interests, which left few
moderate and none neuter.  Every coterie resounded with political
war-cries; every dinner rang; from soup to the coffee, with the merits of
the bill; wherever Godolphin turned for refuge, Reform still assailed him;
and by degrees the universal feeling, that was at first ridiculed, was at
last, although reluctantly, admitted by his mind.

"Why," said he, one clay, musingly, to Radclyffe, whom he met in the old
Green Park,--(for since the conversation recorded between Radclyffe and
Constance the former came little to Erpingham House), "why should I not
try a yet untried experiment?  Why should I not live like others in their
graver as in their lighter pursuits?  I confess, when I look back to the
years I have spent in England, I feel that I calculated erroneously.  I
chalked out a plan--I have followed it rigidly.  I have lived for self,
for pleasure, for luxury; I have summoned wit, beauty, even wisdom around
me.  I have been the creator of a magic circle, but to the magician
himself the magic was tame and ignoble.  In short, I have dreamed, and am
awake.  Yet, what course of life should supply this, which I think of
deserting?  Shall I go once more abroad, and penetrate some untravelled
corner of the earth?  Shall I retire into the country, and write, draining
my mind of the excitement that presses on it; or lastly, shall I plunge
with my contemporaries into the great gulf of actual events, and strive,
and fret, and struggle?--or--in short, Radclyffe, you are a wise man:
advise me!"

"Alas!" answered Radclyffe, "it is of no use advising one to be happy who
has no object beyond himself.  Either enthusiasm, or utter mechanical
coldness, is necessary to reconcile men to the cares and mortifications of
life.  You must feel nothing, or you must feel for others.  Unite yourself
to a great object; see its goal distinctly; cling to its course
courageously; hope for its triumph sanguinely; and on its majestic
progress you sail, as in a ship, agitated indeed by the storms, but
unheeding the breeze and the surge that would appal the individual effort.
The larger public objects make us glide smoothly and unfelt over our minor
private griefs.  To be happy, my dear Godolphin, you must forget yourself.
Your refining and poetical temperament preys upon your content.  Learn
benevolence--it is the only cure to a morbid nature."

Godolphin was greatly struck by this answer of Radclyffe; the more so, as
he had a deep faith in the unaffected sincerity and the calculating wisdom
of his adviser.  He looked hard in Radclyffe's face, and, after a pause of
some moments, replied slowly, "I believe you are right after all; and I
have learned in a few short sentences the secret of a discontented life."

Godolphin would have sought other opportunities of conversing with
Radclyffe, but events soon parted them.  Parliament was dissolved!  What
an historical event is recorded in those words!  The moment the king
consented to that measure, the whole series of subsequent events became,
to an ordinary prescience, clear as in a mirror.  Parliament dissolved in
the heat of the popular enthusiasm, a majority, a great majority of
Reformers was sure to be returned.

Constance perceived at a glance the whole train of consequences issuing
from that one event; perceived and exulted.  A glory had gone for ever
from the party she abhorred.  Her father was already avenged.  She heard
his scornful laugh ring forth from the depths of his forgotten grave.

London emptied itself at once.  England was one election.  Godolphin
remained almost alone.  For the first time a sense of littleness crept
over him; a feeling of insignificance, which wounded and galled his vain
nature.  In these beat struggles he was nothing.  The admired--the
cultivated--spirituel--the splendid Godolphin, sank below the commonest
adventurer, the coarsest brawler--yea, the humblest freeman, who felt his
stake in the state, joined the canvass, swelled the cry, and helped in the
mighty battle between old things and new, which was so resolutely begun.
This feeling gave an impetus to the growth of the new aspirations he had
already suffered his mind to generate; and Constance marked, with vivid
delight, that he now listened to her plans with interest, and examined the
political field with a curious and searching gaze.

But she was soon condemned to a disappointment proportioned to her
delight.  Though Godolphin had hitherto taken no interest in party
politics, his prejudices, his feelings, his habits of mind, were all the
reverse of democratic.  When he once began to examine the bearings of the
momentous question that agitated England, he was not slow in coming to
conclusions which threatened to produce a permanent disagreement between
Constance and himself.

"You wish me to enter Parliament, my dear Constance," said he, with his
quiet smile; "it would be an experiment dangerous to the union
re-established between us.  I should vote against your Bill."

"You!" exclaimed Constance, with warmth; "is it possible that you can
sympathise with the fears of a selfish oligarchy--with the cause of the
merchants and traffickers of the plainest right of a free people--the
right to select their representatives?"

"My dear Constance," returned Godolphin, "my whole theory of Government is
aristocratic.  The right of the, people to choose representatives!--you
may as well say the right of the people to choose kings, or magistrates,
and judges--or clergymen and archbishops!  The people have, it is true,
the abstract and original right to choose all these, and every year to
chop and change them as they please, but the people, very properly, in all
states, mortgage their lementary rights for one catholic and practical
right--the right to be well governed.  It may be no more to the advantage
of the state that the People (that is, the majority, the populace) should
elect uncontrolled all the members of the House of Commons--than that they
should elect all the pastors of their religion.  The sole thing we have to
consider is, will they be better governed?"

"Unquestionably," said Constance.

"Unquestionably!--Well, I question it.  I foresee a more even balance of
parties--nothing else.  When parties are evenly balanced states tremble.
In good government there should be somewhere sufficient power to carry on,
not unexamined, but at least with vigour, the different operations of
government itself.  In free countries, therefore, one party ought to
preponderate sufficiently over the other.  If it do not--all the state
measures are crippled, delayed, distorted, and the state languishes while
the doctors dispute as to the medicines to be applied to it.  You will
find by your Bill, not that the Tories are destroyed, but that the Whigs
and the Radicals are strengthened--the Lords are not crushed--but the
Commons are in a state to contest with them.  Hence party battles upon
catchwords--struggles between the two chambers for things of straw.  You
who desire progress and movement will find the real affairs of this great
Artificial Empire, in its trade--commerce--colonies--internal
legislation--standing still while the Whigs and the Tories pelt each other
with the quibbles of faction.  No I should vote against your Bill!  I am
not for popular governments, though I like free states.  All the
advantages of democracy seem to me more than counterbalanced by the
sacrifice of the peace and tranquillity, the comfort and the grace, the
dignity and the charities of life that democracies usually entail.  If the
object of men is to live happily--not to strive and to fret--not to make
money in the marketplace, and call each other rogues on the hustings, who
would not rather be a German than an American?  I own I regret to differ
from you.  For--but no matter----"

"For!--what were you about to say?"

"For--then, since you must know it--I am beginning to feel interest in
these questions--excitement is contagious.  And after all, if a man really
deem his mother-country in some danger, inaction is not philosophy, but a
species of parricide.  But to think of the daily and hourly pain I should
occasion to you, my beloved and ardent Constanceby shocking all your
opinions, counteracting all your schemes, working against objects which
your father's fate and your early associations have so singularly made
duties in your eyes-to do all this is a patriotism beyond me.  Let us
glide out of this whirlpool, and hoist sail for some nook in the country
where we can hear gentler sounds than the roar of the democracy."

Constance sighed, and suffered Godolphin to quit her in silence.  But her
generous heart was touched by his own generosity.  This is one of the
great curses of a woman who aspires to the man's part of political
controversy.  If the man choose to act, the woman, with all her wiles, her
intrigues, her arts, is powerless.  If Godolphin were to enter Parliament
a Tory, the great Whig rendezvous of Erpingham House was lost, and
Constance herself a cipher--and her father's wrongs forgotten, and the
stern purpose of her masculine career baffled at the very moment of
success.  She now repented that she had ever desired to draw Godolphin's
attention to political matters.  She wondered at her own want of
foresight.  How, with his love for antiquity--his predilections for the
elegant and the serene--his philosophy of the "Rose-garden"--could she
ever have supposed that he would side with the bold objects and turbulent
will of a popular party in a stormy crisis?

The subject was not renewed.  But she had the pain of observing that
Godolphin's manner was altered: he took pleasure in none of his old
hobbies--he was evidently dissatisfied with himself.  In fact, it is true
that he, for the first time in his life, felt that there is a remorse to
the mind as well as to the soul, and that a man of genius cannot be
perpetually idle without, as he touches on the middle of his career,
looking to the past with some shame, and to the fixture with some
ambition.  One evening, when he had sat by the open window in a thoughtful
and melancholy, almost morose, silence for a considerable time, Constance,
after a violent struggle with herself, rose suddenly, and fell on his
neck--

"Forgive me, Percy," she said, unable to suppress her tears--"forgive
me--it is past--I have no right that you, so superior to myself, should be
sacrificed to my--my prejudices you would call them--so be it.  Is it for
your wife to condemn you to be inglorious?  No--no--dear Godolphin--fulfil
your destiny--you are born for high objects.  Be active--be
distinguished--and I will ask no more!"

John Vernon, in that hour you were forgotten!  Who among the dead can ever
hope for fidelity, when love to the living invites a woman to betray?

"My sweet Constance," said Godolphin, drawing her to his heart, and
affected in proportion as he appreciated all that in that speech his wife
gave up for his sake--the all, far more than the lovely person, the
splendid wealth, the lofty rank that she had brought to his home--"my
sweet Constance, do not think I will take advantage of words so
generously, but hastily spoken.  Time enough hereafter to think of
differences between us.  At present let us indulge only the luxury of the
new love--the holiness of the new nuptials--that have made us as one
Being.  Perhaps this restlessness, so unusual to me, will pass away--let
us wait awhile.  At present 'Sparta has many a worthier son.'  One other
year, one sweet summer, of the private life we have too much suffered to
glide away, enjoyed, and then we will see whether the harsh realities of
Ambition be worth either a concession or a dispute.  Let us go into the
country--to-morrow if you will."

And as Constance was about to answer, he sealed her lips with his kiss.

But Lady Erpingham was not one of those who waver in what they deem a
duty.  She passed the night in stern and sleepless commune with herself;
she was aware of all that she hazarded--all that she renounced: she was
even tortured by scruples as to the strange oath that had almost unsexed
her.  Still, in spite of all, she felt that nothing would excuse her in
suffering that gifted and happy intellect, now awakened from the sleep of
the Sybarite, to fall back into its lazy and effeminate repose.  She had
no right to doom a human soul to rot away in its clay.  Perhaps, too, she
hoped, as all polemical enthusiasts do, that Godolphin, once aroused,
would soon become her convert.  Be that as it may, she delayed, on various
pretences, their departure from London.  She went secretly the next day to
one of the proprietors of the close Boroughs, the existence of which was
about to be annihilated, and a few days afterwards Godolphin received a
letter informing him that he had been duly elected member for ----.  I
will not say what were his feelings at these tidings.  Perhaps, such is
man's proud and wayward heart, he felt shame to be so outdone by
Constance.

CHAPTER LXV.

NEW VIEWS OF A PRIVILEGED ORDER.--THE DEATH-BED OF AUGUSTUS SAVILLE.

This event might indeed have been an era in the life of Percy Godolphin,
had that life been spared to a more extended limit than it was; and yet,
so long had his ambition been smoothed and polished away by his
peculiarities of thought, and so little was his calm and indifferent tone
of mind suited to the hot contests and nightly warfare of parliamentary
politics, that it is not probable he would ever have won a continuous and
solid distinction in a career which requires either obtuseness of mind or
enthusiasm of purpose to encounter the repeated mortifications and
failures which the most brilliant debutant ordinarily endures.  As it was,
however, it produced a grave and solemn train of thought in Godolphin's
breast.  He mused much over his past life, and the musing did not satisfy
him.  He felt like one of those recorded in physiological history who have
been in a trance for years: and now slowly awakening, he acknowledged the
stir and rush of revived but confused emotions.  Nature, perhaps, had
intended Godolphin for a poet; for, with the exception of the love of
glory, the poetical characteristics were rife within him; and over his
whole past existence the dimness of unexpressed poetical sensation had
clung and hovered.  It was this which had deadened his soul to the active
world, and wrapped him in the land of dreams; it was this which had
induced that vague and restless dissatisfaction with the Actual which had
brought the thirst for the Ideal; it was this which had made him
fastidious in love, repining in pleasure, magnificent in luxury, seeking
and despising all things in the same breath.  There are many, perhaps, of
this sort, who, having the poet's nature, have never found the poet's vent
to his emotions; have wandered over the visionary world without chancing
to discover the magic wand that was stored within the dark chamber of
their mind, and would have reduced the visions into shape and substance.
Alas! what existence can be more unfulfilled than that of one who has the
soul of the poet and not the skill? who has the susceptibility and the
craving, not the consolation or the reward?

But if this cloud of dreamlike emotion had so long hung over Godolphin, it
began now to melt away from his heart; a clearer and distincter view of
the large objects of life lay before him; and he felt that he was
standing, half stunned and passive, in the great crisis of his fate.

The day was now fixed for their departure to Wendover, when Saville was
taken alarmingly ill; Godolphin was sent for, late one evening.  He found
the soi-disant Epicurean at the point of death, but in perfect possession
of his senses.  The scene around him was emblematic of his life: save
Godolphin, not a friend was by.  Saville had some dozen or two of natural
children--where were they?  He had abandoned them to their fate: he knew
not of their existence, nor they of his death.  Lonely in his selfishness
was he left to breathe out the small soul of a man of bon-ton!  But I
must do Saville the justice to say, that if he was without the mourners
and the attendants that belonged to natural ties, he did not require them.
His was no whimpering exit from life: the champagne was drained to the
last drop; and Death, like the true boon companion, was about to shatter
the empty glass.

"Well, my friend," said Saville, feebly, but pressing with weak fingers
Godolphin's hand--"well, the game is up, the lights are going out, and
presently the last guest will depart, and all be darkness!" here the
doctor came to the bedside with a cordial.  The dying man, before he took
it, fixed upon the leech an eye which, although fast glazing, still
retained something of its keen, searching shrewdness.

"Now tell me, my good sir, how many hours more can you keep in this--this
breath?"

The doctor looked at Godolphin.

"I understand you," said Saville; you are shy on these points.  Never be
shy, my good fellow; it is inexcusable after twenty: besides, it is a bad
compliment to my nerves--a gentleman is prepared for every event.  Sir, it
is only a roturier whom death, or anything else, takes by surprise.  How
many hours, then, can I live?"

"Not many, I fear, sir: perhaps until daybreak."

"My day breaks about twelve o'clock, p.m.," said Saville, as drily as his
gasps would let him.  "Very well;--give me the cordial;--don't let me go
to sleep--I don't want to be cheated out of a minute.  So, so--!  I am
better.  You may withdraw, doctor.  Let my spaniel come up.  Bustle,
Bustle!--poor fellow!  poor fellow!  Lie down, sir! be quiet!  And now,
Godolphin, a few words in farewell.  I always liked you greatly; you know
you were my protege, and you have turned out well.  You have not been led
away by the vulgar passions of politics, and place, and power.  You have
had power over power itself; you have not office, but you have fashion.
You have made the greatest match in England; very prudently not marrying
Constance Vernon, very prudently marrying Lady Erpingham.  You are at the
head and front of society; you have excellent taste, and spend your wealth
properly.  All this must make your conscience clear--a wonderful
consolation!  Always keep a sound conscience; it is a great blessing on
one's death-bed--it is a great blessing tome in this hour, for I have
played my part decently--eh?--I have enjoyed life, as much as so dull a
possession can be enjoyed; I have loved, gamed, drunk, but I have never
lost my character as a gentleman: thank Heaven, I have no remorse of that
sort!  Follow my example to the last and you will die as easily.  I have
left you my correspondence and my journal; you may publish them if you
like; if not, burn them.  They are full of amusing anecdotes; but I don't
care for fame, as you well know--especially posthumous fame.  Do as you
please then, with my literary remains.  Take care of my dog--'tis a good
creature; and let me be quietly buried.  No bad taste--no ostentation--no
epitaph.  I am very glad I die before the d--d Revolution that must come;
I don't want to take wine with the Member for Holborn Bars.  I am a type
of a system; I expire before the system; my death is the herald of its
fall."

With these expressions--not continuously uttered, but at short
intervals--Saville turned away his face: his breathing became thick: he
fell into the slumber he had deprecated; and, after about an hour's
silence, died away as insensibly as an infant.  Sic transit glories mundi!

The first living countenance beside the death-bed on which Godolphin's eye
fell was that of Fanny Millinger; she (who had been much with Saville
during his latter days, for her talk amused him, and her good-nature made
her willing to amuse any one) had been, at his request, summoned also with
Godolphin at the sudden turn of his disease.  She was at the theatre at
the time, and had only just arrived when the deceased had fallen into his
last sleep.  There, silent and shocked, she stood by the bed, opposite
Godolphin.  She had not stayed to change her stage-dress; and the tinsel
and mock jewels glittered on the revolted eye of her quondam lover.  What
a type of the life just extinguished!  What a satire on its mountebank
artificialities!

Some little time after, she joined Godolphin in the desolate apartment
below.  She put her hand in his, and her tears--for she wept
easily--flowed fast down her cheeks, washing away the lavish rouge which
imperfectly masked the wrinkles that Time had lately begun to sow on a
surface Godolphin had remembered so fair and smooth.

"Poor Saville!"  said she, falteringly; "he died without a pang.  Ah! he
had the best temper possible."

Godolphin sat by the writing-table of the deceased, shading his brow with
the hand which the actress left disengaged.

"Fanny," said he, bitterly, after a pause, "the world is indeed a stage.
It has lost a consummate actor, though in a small part."

The saying was wrung from Godolphin--and was not said unkindly, though it
seemed so--for he too had tears in his eyes.

"Ah," said she, the play-house has indeed taught us, in our youth, many
things which the real world could not teach us better."

"Life differs from the play only in this," said Godolphin, some time
afterwards; "it has no plot--all is vague, desultory, unconnected--till
the curtain drops with the mystery unsolved."

Those were the last words that Godolphin ever addressed to the actress.

CHAPTER LXVI.

THE JOURNEY AND THE SURPRISE.--A WALK IN THE SUMMER NIGHT.--THE STARS AND
THE ASSOCIATION THAT MEMORY MAKES WITH NATURE.

This event detained Godolphin some days longer in town.  He saw the last
rites performed to Saville, and he was present at the opening of the will.

As in life Saville had never lent a helping hand to the distressed, as he
had mixed with the wealthy only, so now to the wealthy only was his wealth
devoted.  The rich Godolphin was his principal heir; not a word was even
said about his illegitimate children, not an inquiry ordained towards his
poor relations.  In this, as in all the formula of his will, Saville
followed the prescribed customs of the world.

Fast went the panting steeds that bore Constance and Godolphin from the
desolate city.  Bright was the summer sky, and green looked the smiling
fields that lay on either side their road.  Nature was awake and active.
What a delicious contrast to the scenes of Art which they left behind!
Constance exerted herself to the utmost to cheer the spirits of her
companion, and succeeded.  In the small compass which confined them
together, their conversation flowed in confidence and intimate affection.
Not since the first month of their union had they talked with less reserve
and more entire love--only there was this difference in their topics they
then talked of the future only, they now talked more of the past.  They
uttered many a fond regret over their several faults to each other; and,
with clasped hands, congratulated themselves on their present reunion of
heart.  They allowed how much all things independent of affection had
deceived them, and no longer exacting so much from love, they felt its
real importance.  Ah, why do all of us lose so many years in searching
after happiness, but never inquiring into its nature!  We are like one who
collects the books of a thousand tongues, and knowing not their language,
wonders why they do not delight him?

But still, athwart the mind of Constance one dark image would ever and
anon obtrude itself; the solitary and mystic Lucilla, with her erring
brain and forlorn fortunes, was not even in happiness to be forgotten.
There were times, too, in that short journey, when she felt the tale of
her interview with that unhappy being rise to her lips: but ever when she
looked on the countenance of Godolphin, beaming with more heartfelt and
homeborn gladness than she had seen for years, she could not bear the
thought of seeing it darkened by the pain her story would inflict; and she
shrank from embittering moments so precious to her heart.

All her endeavours to discover Lucilla had been in vain: but an unquiet
presentiment that at any moment that discovery might be made, perhaps in
the presence of Godolphin, constantly haunted her, and she even now looked
painfully forth at each inn where they changed horses, lest the sad, stern
features of the soothsayer should appear, and break that spell of happy
quiet which now lay over the spirit of Godolphin.

It was towards the evening that their carriage slowly wound up a steep and
long ascent.  The sun yet wanted an hour to its setting; and at their
right, its slant and mellowed beams fell over rich fields, green with the
prodigal luxuriance of June, and intersected by hedges from which, proud
and frequent, the oak and elm threw forth their lengthened shadows.  On
their left the grass less fertile, and the spaces less inclosed, were
whitened with flocks of sheep; and far and soft came the bleating of the
lambs upon their ear.  They saw not the shepherd nor any living form; but
from between the thicker groups of trees the chimneys of peaceful cottages
peered forth, and gave to the pastoral serenity of the scene that still
and tranquil aspect of life which alone suited it.  The busy wheel in the
heart of Constance was at rest, and Godolphin's soul, steeped in the
luxury of the present hour, felt that delicious happiness which would be
heaven could it outlive the hour.

"My Constance," whispered he, "why, since we return at last to these
scenes, why should we ever leave them?  Amidst them let us recall our
youth!"  Constance sighed, but with pleasure, and pressed Godolphin's hand
to her lips.

And now they had gained the hill, a sudden colour flushed over Godolphin's
cheek.

"Surely," said he, "I remember this view.  Yonder valley!  This is not the
road to Wendover Castle; this--my father's home!--the same, and not the
same!"

Yes!  Below, basking in the western light, lay the cottage in which
Godolphin's childhood had been passed.  There was the stream rippling
merrily; there the broken and fern-clad turf, with "its old hereditary
trees;" but the ruins!--the shattered arch, the mouldering tower, were
left indeed--but new arches, new turrets had arisen, and so dexterously
blended with the whole that Godolphin might have fancied the hall of his
forefathers restored--not indeed in the same vast proportions and cumbrous
grandeur as of old, but still alike in shape and outline, and such even in
size as would have contented the proud heart of its last owner.
Godolphin's eyes turned inquiringly to Constance.

"It should have been more consistent with its ancient dimensions," said
she; "but then it would have taken half our lives to have built it."

"But this must have been the work of years."

"It was."

"And your work, Constance?"

"For you."

"And it was for this that you hesitated when I asked you to consent to
raising the money for the purchase of Lord ----'s collection?"

"Yes;--am I forgiven?"

"Dearest Constance," said Godolphin, flinging his arms around her, "how
have I wronged you!  During those very years, then, of our
estrangement--during those very years in which I thought you indifferent,
you were silently preparing this noble revenge on the injury I did you.
Why, why did I not know this before?  Why did you not save us both from so
long a misunderstanding of each other?"

"Dearest Percy, I was to blame; but I always looked to this hour as to a
pleasure of which I could not bear to rob myself.  I always fancied that
when this task was finished, and you could witness it, you would feel how
uppermost you always were in my thoughts, and forgive me many faults from
that consideration.  I knew that I was executing your father's great wish;
I knew that you always, although unconsciously, perhaps, sympathised in
that wish.  I only grieve that, as yet, it has been executed so
imperfectly."

"But how," continued Godolphin, gazing on the new pile as they now neared
the entrance, "how was it this never reached my ears through other
quarters?"

"But it did, Percy; don't you remember our country neighbour, Dartmour,
complimenting you on your intended improvements, and you fancied it was
irony, and turned your back on the discomfited squire?"

They now drove under the gates surmounted with Godolphin's arms; and in a
few minutes more, they were within the renovated halls of the Priory.

Perhaps it was impossible for Constance to have more sensibly touched and
flattered Godolphin than by this surprise; it affected him far more than
the political concession which to her had been so profound a sacrifice;
for his early poverty had produced in him somewhat of that ancestral pride
which the poor only can gracefully wear; and although the tie between his
father and himself had not possessed much endearment, yet he had often,
with the generosity that belonged to him, regretted that his parent had
not survived to share in his present wealth, and to devote some portion of
it to the realisation of those wishes which he had never been permitted to
consummate.  Godolphin, too, was precisely of a nature to appreciate the
delicacy of Constance's conduct, and to be deeply penetrated by the
thought that, while he was following a career so separate from hers, she,
in the midst of all her ambitious projects, could pause to labour,
unthanked and in concealment, for the delight of this hour's gratification
to him: the delicacy and the forethought affected him the more, because
they made not a part of the ordinary character of the high and absorbed
ambition of Constance.  He did not thank her much by words, but his looks
betrayed all he felt, and Constance was overpaid.

Although the new portion of the building was necessarily not extensive,
yet each chamber was of those grand proportions which suited the
magnificent taste of Godolphin, and harmonised with the ancient ruins.
Constance had shown her tact by leaving the ruins themselves (which it was
profane to touch) unrestored; but so artfully were those connected with
the modern addition, and thence with the apartments in the cottage, which
she had not scrupled to remodel, that an effect was produced from the
whole far more splendid than many Gothic buildings of greater extent and
higher pretensions can afford.  Godolphin wandered delightedly over the
whole, charmed with the taste and judgment which presided over even the
nicest arrangement.

"Why, where," said he, struck with the accurate antiquity of some of the
details, "where learned you all these minutiae?  You are as wise as Hope
himself upon cornices and tables."

"I was forced to leave these things to others," answered Constance; "but I
took care that they possessed the necessary science."

The night was exceedingly beautiful, and they walked forth under the
summer moon among those grounds in which Constance had first seen
Godolphin.  They stood by the very rivulet--they paused at the very spot!
On the murmuring bosom of the wave floated many a water-flower; and now
and then a sudden splash, a sudden circle in the shallow stream, denoted
the leap of the river-tyrant on his prey.  There was a universal odor in
the soft air; that delicate, that ineffable fragrance belonging to those
midsummer nights which the rich English poetry might well people with
Oberon and his fairies; the bat wheeled in many a ring along the air; but
the gentle light bathed all things, and robbed his wanderings of the
gloomier associations that belong to them; and ever, and ever, the busy
moth darted to and fro among the flowers, or misled upwards by the stars
whose beam allured it, wandered, like Desire after Happiness, in search of
that light it might never reach.  And those stars still, with their soft,
unspeakable eyes of love, looked down upon Godolphin as of old, when, by
the Italian lake, he roved with her for whom he had become the world
itself.  No, not now, nor ever, could he gaze upon those wan, mysterious
orbs, and not feel the pang that reminded him of Lucilla!  Between them
and her was an affinity which his imagination could not sever.  All whom
we have loved have something in nature especially devoted to their memory;
a peculiar flower, a breath of air, a leaf, a tone.  What love is without
some such association.

     "Striking the electric chain wherewith we're bound"?

But the dim, and shadowy, and solemn stars were indeed meet remembrancers
of Volktman's wild daughter; and so intimately was their light connected
in Godolphin's breast with that one image, that their very softness had,
to his eyes, something fearful and menacing--although as in sadness, not
in anger.

CHAPTER LXVII

THE FULL RENEWAL OF LOVE.--HAPPINESS PRODUCES FEAR, "AND IN TO-DAY ALREADY
WALKS TOMORROW."

Oh, First Love! well sang the gay minstrel of France, that we return again
and again to thee.  As the earth returns to its spring, and is green once
more, we go back to the life of life and forget the seasons that have
rolled between!  Whether it was--perhaps so--that in the minds of both was
a feeling that their present state was not fated to endure; whether they
felt, in the deep calm they enjoyed, that the storm was already at hand;
whether this was the truth I know not; but certain it is, that during the
short time they remained at Godolphin Priory, previous to their earthly
separation, Constance and Godolphin were rather like lovers for the first
time united, than like those who have dragged on the chain for years.
Their perfect solitude, the absence of all intrusion, so unlike the life
they had long passed, renewed all that charm, that rapture in each other's
society, which belong to the first youth of love.  True, that this could
not have endured long; but Fate suffered it to endure to the last of that
tether which remained to their union.  Constance was not again doomed to
the severe and grating shock which the sense of estrangement brings to a
woman's heart; she was sensible that Godolphin was never so entirely, so
passionately her own, as towards the close of their mortal connection.
Every thing around them breathed of their first love.  This was that home
of Godolphin's to which, from the splendid halls of Wendover, the young
soul of the proud orphan had so often and so mournfully flown with a
yearning and wistful interest: this was that spot in which he, awaking
from the fever of the world, had fed his first dreams of her.  The scene,
the solitude, was as a bath to their love: it braced, it freshened, it
revived its tone.  They wandered, they read, they thought together; the
air of the spot was an intoxication.  The world around and without was
agitated; they felt it not: the breakers of the great deep died in murmurs
on their ear.  Ambition lulled its voice to Constance; Godolphin had
realised his visions of the ideal.  Time had dimmed their young beauty,
but their eyes saw it not; they were young, they were all beautiful, to
each other.

And Constance hung on the steps of her lover--still let that name be his!
She could not bear to lose him for a moment: a vague indistinctness of
fear seized her if she saw him not.  Again and again, in the slumbers of
the night, she stretched forth her arms to feel that he was near; all her
pride, her coldness seemed gone, as by a spell; she loved as the softest,
the fondest, love.  Are we, 0 Ruler of the future! imbued with the
half-felt spirit of prophecy as the hour of evil approaches--the great,
the fierce, the irremediable evil of a life?  In this depth and intensity
of their renewed passion, was there not something preternatural?  Did they
not tremble as they loved?  They were on a spot to which the dark waters
were slowly gathering; they clung to the Hour, for eternity was lowering
round.

It was one evening that a foreboding emotion of this kind weighed heavily
on Constance.  She pressed Godolphin's hand in hers, and when he returned
the pressure, she threw herself on his neck, and burst into tears.
Godolphin was alarmed; he covered her cheek with kisses, he sought the
cause of her emotion.

"There is no cause," answered Constance, recovering herself, but speaking
in a faltering voice, "only I feel the impossibility that this happiness
can last; its excess makes me shudder."

As she spoke, the wind rose and swept mourningly over the large leaves of
the chestnut-tree beneath which they stood: the serene stillness of the
evening seemed gone; an unquiet and melancholy spirit was loosened abroad,
and the chill of the sudden change which is so frequent to our climate,
came piercingly upon them.  Godolphin was silent for some moments, for the
thought found a sympathy in his own.

"And is it truly so?" he said at last; "is there really to be no permanent
happiness for us below?  Is pain always to tread the heels of pleasure?
Are we never to say the harbour is reached, and we are safe?  No, my
Constance," he added, warming into the sanguine vein that traversed even
his most desponding moods, "no! let us not cherish this dark belief; there
is no experience for the future; one hour lies to the next; if what has
been seem thus chequered, it is no type of what may be.  We have
discovered in each other that world that was long lost to our eyes; we
cannot lose it again; death only can separate us!"

"Ah, death!" said Constance, shuddering.

"Do not recoil at that word, my Constance, for we are yet in the noon of
life; why bring, like the Egyptian, the spectre to the feast?  And, after
all, if death come while we thus love, it is better than change and
time--better than custom which palls--better than age which chills.  Oh!"
continued Godolphin, passionately, "oh! if this narrow shoal and sand of
time be but a breathing-spot in the great heritage of immortality, why
cheat ourselves with words so vague as life and death?  What is the
difference?  At most, the entrance in and the departure from one scene in
our wide career.  How many scenes are left to us!  We do but hasten our
journey, not close it.  Let us believe this, Constance, and cast from us
all fear of our disunion."

As he spoke, Constance's eyes were fixed upon his face, and the deep calm
that reigned there sank into her soul, and silenced its murmurs.  The
thought of futurity is that which Godolphin (because it is so with all
idealists) must have revolved with the most frequent fervour; but it was a
thought which he so rarely touched upon, that it was the first and only
time Constance ever heard it breathed from his lips.

They turned into the house; and the mark is still in that page of the
volume which they read, where the melodious accents of Godolphin died upon
the heart of Constance.  Can she ever turn to it again?

CHAPTER LXVIII.

THE LAST CONVERSATION BETWEEN GODOLPHIN AND CONSTANCE.--HIS THOUGHTS AND
SOLITARY WALK AMIDST THE SCENES OF HIS YOUTH.--THE LETTER.--THE DEPARTURE.

They had denied themselves to all the visitors who had attacked the
Priory; but on their first arrival, they had deemed it necessary to
conciliate their neighbours by concentrating into one formal act of
hospitality all those social courtesies which they could not persuade
themselves to relinquish their solitude in order singly to perform.
Accordingly, a day had been fixed for one grand fete at the Priory; it was
to follow close on the election, and be considered as in honour of that
event.  The evening for this gala succeeded that which I have recorded in
the last chapter.  It was with great reluctance that they prepared
themselves to greet this sole interruption of their seclusion; and they
laughed, although they did not laugh cordially, at the serious annoyance
which the giving a ball was for the first time to occasion to persons who
had been giving balls for a succession of years.

The day was remarkably still and close; the sun had not once pierced
through the dull atmosphere, which was charged with the yet silent but
gathering thunder; and as the evening came on, the sullen tokens of an
approaching storm became more and more loweringly pronounced.

"We shall not, I fear, have propitious weather for our festival to-night,"
said Godolphin; "but after a general election, people's nerves are
tolerably hardened: what are the petty fret and tumult of nature, lasting
but an hour, to the angry and everlasting passions of men?"

"A profound deduction from a wet night, dear Percy," said Constance,
smiling.

"Like our friend C----," rejoined Godolphin, in the same vein; "I can
philosophise on the putting on one's gloves, you know:" and therewith
their conversation flowed into a vein singularly contrasted with the
character of the coming events.  Time fled on as they were thus engaged
until Constance started up, surprised at the lateness of the hour, to
attend the duties of the toilette.

"Wear this, dearest," said Godolphin, taking a rose from a flower-stand by
the window, "in memory of that ball at Wendover Castle, which although
itself passed bitterly enough for me, has yet left so many happy
recollections."  Constance put the rose into her bosom; its leaves were
then all fresh and brilliant--so were her prospects for the future.  He
kissed her forehead as they parted;--they parted for the last time.

Godolphin, left alone, turned to the window, which, opening to the ground,
invited him forth among the flowers that studded the grass-plots which
sloped away to the dark and unwavering trees that girded the lawn.  That
pause of nature which precedes a storm ever had a peculiar attraction to
his mind; and instinctively he sauntered from the house, wrapped in the
dreaming, half-developed thought which belonged to his temperament.
Mechanically he strayed on until he found himself beside the still lake
which the hollows of the dismantled park embedded.  There he paused,
gazing unconsciously on the gloomy shadows which fell from the arches of
the Priory and the tall trees around.  Not a ripple stirred the broad
expanse of waters; the birds had gone to rest; no sound, save the voice of
the distant brook that fed the lake beside which, on the first night of
his return to his ancestral home, he had wandered with Constance, broke
the universal silence.  That voice was never mute.  All else might be
dumb; but that living stream, rushing through its rocky bed, stilled not
its repining music.  Like the soul of the landscape is the gush of a fresh
stream; it knows no sleep, no pause; it works for ever--the life, the
cause of life to all around.  The great frame of nature may repose, but
the spirit of the waters rests not for a moment.  As the soul of the
landscape is the soul of man, in our deepest slumbers its course glides
on, and works unsilent, unslumbering, through its destined channel.

With slow step and folded arms Godolphin moved along.  The well-remembered
scenes of his childhood were all before him; the wild verdure of the fern,
the broken ground, with its thousand mimic mounts and valleys, the deep
dell overgrown with matted shrubs and dark as a wizard's cave; the remains
of many a stately vista, where the tender green of the lime showed forth,
even in that dusky light, beneath the richer leaves of the chestnut; all
was familiar and home-breathing to his mind.  Fragments of boyish verse,
forgotten for years, rose hauntingly to his remembrance, telling of wild
thoughts, unsatisfied dreams, disappointed hopes.

"But I am happy at last," said he aloud; "yes, happy.  I have passed that
bridge of life which divides us from the follies of youth; and better
prospects, and nobler desires, extend before me.  What a world of wisdom
in that one saying of Radclyffe's, 'Benevolence is the sole cure to
idealism;' to live for others draws us from demanding miracles for
ourselves.  What duty as yet have I fulfilled?  I renounced ambition as
unwise, and with it I renounced wisdom itself.  I lived for pleasure--I
lived the life of disappointment.  Without one vicious disposition, I have
fallen into a hundred vices; I have never been actively selfish, yet
always selfish.  I nursed high thoughts--for what end?  A poet in heart, a
voluptuary in life.  If mine own interest came into clear collision with
that of another, mine I would have sacrificed, but I never asked if the
whole course of my existence was not that of a war with the universal
interest.  Too thoughtful to be without a leading principle in life, the
one principle I adopted has been one error.  I have tasted all that
imagination can give to earthly possession: youth, health, liberty,
knowledge, love, luxury, pomp.  Woman was my first passion,--what woman
have I wooed in vain?  I imagined that my career hung upon Constance's
breath--Constance loved and refused me.  I attributed my errors to that
refusal; Constance became mine--how have I retrieved them?  A vague, a
dim, an unconfessed remorse has pursued me in the memory of Lucilla; yet,
why not have redeemed that fault to her by good to others?  What is
penitence not put into action, but the great fallacy in morals?  A sin to
one, if irremediable, can only be compensated by a virtue to some one
else.  Yet was I to blame in my conduct to Lucilla?  Why should conscience
so haunt me at that name?  Did I not fly her?  Was it not herself who
compelled our union?  Did I not cherish, respect, honour, forbear with
her, more than I have since with my wedded Constance?  Did I not resolve
to renounce Constance herself, when most loved, for Lucilla's sake alone?
Who prevented that sacrifice--who deserted me--who carved out her own
separate life?--Lucilla herself.  No, so far, my sin is light.  But ought
I not to have left all things to follow her, to discover her, to force
upon her an independence from want, or possibly from crime?  Ah, there was
my sin, and the sin of my nature; the sin, too, of the children of the
world--passive sin.  I could sacrifice my happiness, but not my indolence;
I was not ungenerous, I was inert.  But is it too late?  Can I not yet
search, discover her, and remove from my mind the anxious burthen which
her remembrance imposes on it?  For, oh, one thought of remorse linked
with the being who has loved us, is more intolerable to the conscience
than the gravest crime!"

Muttering such thoughts, Godolphin strayed on until the deepening night
suddenly recalled his attention to the lateness of the hour.  He turned to
the house and entered his own apartment.  Several of the guests had
already come.  Godolphin was yet dressing, when a servant knocked at the
door and presented him with a note.

"Lay it on the table," said he to the valet; "it is probably some excuse
about the ball."

"Sir," said the servant, "a lad has just brought it from S----," naming a
village about four miles distant; "and says he is to wait for an answer.
He was ordered to ride as fast as possible."

With some impatience Godolphin took up the note; but the moment his eye
rested on the writing, it fell from his hands; his cheek, his lips, grew
as white as death; his heart seemed to refuse its functions; it was
literally as if life stood still for a moment, as by the force of a sudden
poison.  With a strong effort he recovered himself, tore open the note,
and read as follows:

"Percy Godolphin, the hour has arrived-once more we shall meet.  I summon
you, fair love, to that meeting--the bed of death.  Come!        Lucilla
Volktman."

"Don't alarm the countess," said Godolphin to his servant, in a very low,
calm voice; "bring my horse to the postern, and send the bearer of this
note to me."

The messenger appeared--a rough country lad, of about eighteen or twenty.

"You brought this note?"

"I did, your honour."

"From whom?"

"Why, a sort of a strange lady as is lying at the 'Chequers,' and not
expected to live.  She be mortal bad, sir, and do run on awesome."

Godolphin pressed his hands convulsively together.

"And how long has she been there?"

"She only came about two hours since, sir; she came in a chaise, sir, and
was taken so ill, that we sent for the doctor directly.  He says she can't
get over the night."

Godolphin walked to and fro, without trusting himself to speak, for some
minutes.  The boy stood by the door, pulling about his hat, and wondering,
and staring, and thoroughly stupid.

"Did she come alone?"

"Eh, your honour?"

"Was no one with her?"

"Oh, yes! a little nigger girl: she it was sent me with the letter."

"The horse is ready, sir," said the servant; "but had you not better have
the carriage brought out?  It looks very black; it must rain shortly, sir;
and the ford between this and S---- is dangerous to cross in so dark a
night."

"Peace!" cried Godolphin, with flashing eyes, and a low convulsive laugh.
"Shall I ride to that death-bed at my ease and leisure?"

He strode rapidly down the stairs, and reached the small postern door: it
was a part of the old building: one of the grooms held his impatient
horse--the swiftest in his splendid stud; and the dim but flaring light,
held by another of the servitors, streamed against the dull heavens and
the imperfectly seen and frowning ruins of the ancient pile.

Godolphin, unconscious of all around, and muttering to himself, leaped on
his steed: the fire glinted from the coursers hoofs; and thus the last
lord of that knightly race bade farewell to his father's halls.  Those
words which he had muttered, and which his favourite servant caught and
superstitiously remembered, were the words in Lucilla's note--"The hour
has arrived!"

CHAPTER THE LAST.

A DREAD MEETING.--THE STORM.--THE CATASTROPHE.

On the humble pallet of the village inn lay the broken form of the
astrologer's expiring daughter.  The surgeon of the place sat by the
bedside, dismayed and terrified, despite his hardened vocation, by the
wild words and ghastly shrieks that ever and anon burst from the lips of
the dying woman.  The words were, indeed, uttered in a foreign tongue
unfamiliar to the leech, a language not ordinarily suited to inspire
terror; the language of love, and poetry, and music, the language of the
sweet South.  But, uttered in that voice where the passions of the soul
still wrestled against the gathering weakness of the frame, the soft
syllables sounded harsh and fearful; and the dishevelled locks of the
sufferer--the wandering fire of the sunken eyes--the distorted gestures of
the thin, transparent arms, gave fierce effect to the unknown words, and
betrayed the dark strength of the delirium which raged upon her.

One wretched light on the rude table opposite the bed broke the gloom of
the mean chamber; and across the window flashed the first lightnings of
the storm about to break.  By the other side of the bed sat, mute,
watchful, tearless, the Moorish girl, who was Lucilla's sole
attendant--her eyes fixed on the sufferer with faithful, unwearying love;
her ears listening, with all the quick sense of her race, to catch, amidst
the growing noises of the storm, and the tread of hurrying steps below,
the expected sound of the hoofs that should herald Godolphin's approach.

Suddenly, as if exhausted by the paroxysm of her disease, Lucilla's voice
sank into silence; and she lay so still, so motionless, that, but for the
faint and wavering pulse of the hand, which the surgeon was now suffered
to hold, they might have believed the tortured spirit was already
released.  This torpor lasted for some minutes, when, raising herself up,
as a bright gleam of intelligence stole over the hollow cheeks, Lucilla
put her finger to her lips, smiled, and said, in a low, clear voice,
"Hark! he comes!"

The Moor crept across the chamber, and opening the door, stood there in a
listening attitude.  She, as yet, heard not the tread of the speeding
charger;--a moment, and it smote her ear; a moment more it halted by the
inn door: the snort of the panting horse--the rush of steps--Percy
Godolphin was in the room--was by the bedside--the poor sufferer was in
his arms; and softened, thrilled, overpowered, Lucilla resigned herself to
that dear caress; she drank in the sobs of his choked voice; she felt
still, as in happier days, burning into her heart, the magic of his
kisses.  One instant of youth, of love, of hope, broke into that desolate
and fearful hour, and silent and scarcely conscious tears gushed from her
aching eyes, and laved, as it were, the burthen and the agony from her
heart.

The Moor traversed the room, and, laying one hand on the surgeon's
shoulder, pointed to the door.  Lucilla and Godolphin were alone.

"Oh!" said he, at last finding voice, "is it thus--thus we meet?  But say
not that you are dying, Lucilla! have mercy, mercy upon your betrayer,
your----"

Here he could utter no more; he sank beside her, covering his face with
his hands, and sobbing bitterly.

The momentary lucid interval for Lucilla had passed away; the maniac
rapture returned, although in a wild and solemn shape.

"Blame not yourself," said she, earnestly; "the remorseless stars are the
sole betrayers: yet, bright and lovely as they once seemed when they
assured me of a bond between thee and me, I could not dream that their
still and shining lore could forebode such gloomy truths.  Oh, Percy!
since we parted, the earth has not been as the earth to me: the Natural
has left my life; a weird and roving spirit has entered my breast, and
filled my brain, and possessed my thoughts, and moved every spring of my
existence: the sun and the air, the green herb, the freshness and glory of
the world, have been covered with a mist in which only dim shapes of dread
were shadowed forth.  But thou, my love, on whose breast I have dreamed
such blessed dreams, wert not to blame.  No! the power that crushes we
cannot accuse: the heavens are above the reach of our reproach; they smile
upon our agony; they bid the seasons roll on, unmoved and unsympathising,
above our broken hearts.  And what has been my course since your last kiss
on these dying lips?  Godolphin,"--and here Lucilla drew herself apart
from him, and writhed, as with some bitter memory,--"these lips have felt
other kisses, and these ears have drunk unhallowed sounds, and wild
revelry and wilder passion have made me laugh over the sepulchre of my
soul.  But I am a poor creature; pour, poor--mad, Percy--mad--they tell me
so!"  Then, in the sudden changes incident to her disease, Lucilla
continued--"I saw your bride, Percy, when your bore her from Rome, and the
wheels of your bridal carriage swept over me, for I flung myself in their
way; but they scratched me not; the bright demons above ordained
otherwise, and I wandered over the world; but you shall know not," added
Lucilla, with a laugh of dreadful levity, "whither or with whom, for we
must have concealments, my love, as you will confess; and I strove to
forget you, and my brain sank in the effort.  I felt my frame withering,
and they told me my doom was fixed, and I resolved to come to England, and
look on my first love once more; so I came, and I saw you, Godolphin; and
I knew, by the wrinkles in your brow, and the musing thought in your eye,
that your proud lot had not brought you content.  And then there came to
me a stately shape, and I knew it for her for whom you had deserted me:
she told me, as you tell me, to live, to forget the past.  Mockery,
mockery!  But my heart is proud as hers, Percy, and I would not stoop to
the kindness of a triumphant rival; and I fled, what matters it whither?
But listen, Percy, listen; my woes have made me wise in that science which
is not of heart, and I knew that you and I must meet once more, and that
that meeting would be in this hour; and I counted, minute by minute, with
a savage gladness, the days that were to bring on this interview and my
death!"  Then raising her voice into a wild shriek--"Beware, beware,
Percy!-the rush of waters is on my ear-the splash, the gurgle!--Beware!--
your last hour, also; is at hand!"

From the moment in which she uttered these words, Lucilla relapsed into
her former frantic paroxysms.  Shriek followed shriek; she appeared to
know none around her, not even Godolphin.  With throes and agony the soul
seemed to wrench itself from the frame.  The hours swept on--midnight
came--clear and distinct the voice of the clock below reached that
chamber.

"Hush!" cried Lucilla, starting.  "Hush!" and just at that moment,
through the window opposite, the huge clouds, breaking in one spot,
discovered high and far above them a solitary star.

"Thine, thine, Godolphin!" she shrieked forth, pointing to the lonely orb;
"it summons thee;--farewell, but not for long!"

     *     *     *     *     *
     *     *     *     *     *
     *     *     *     *     *

The Moor rushed forward with a loud cry; she placed her hand on Lucilla's
bosom; the heart was still, the breath was gone, the fire had vanished
from the ashes: that strange unearthly spirit was perhaps with the stars
for whose mysteries it had so vainly yearned.

Down fell the black rain in torrents; and far from the mountains you might
hear the rushing of the swollen streams, as they poured into the bosom of
the valleys.  The sullen, continued mass of cloud was broken, and the
vapours hurried fast and louring over the heavens, leaving now and then a
star to glitter forth ere again "the jaws of darkness did devour it up."
At the lower verge of the horizon, the lightning flashed fierce, but at
lingering intervals; the trees rocked and groaned beneath the rain and
storm; and, immediately above the bowed head of a solitary horseman, broke
the thunder that, amidst the whirl of his own emotions, he scarcely heard.

Beside a stream, which the rains had already swelled, was a gipsy
encampment; and as some of the dusky itinerants, waiting perhaps the
return of a part of their band from a predatory excursion, cowered over
the flickering fires in their tent, they perceived the horseman rapidly
approaching the stream.

"See to yon gentry cove," cried one of the band; "'tis the same we saw in
the forenight crossing the ford above.  He has taken a short cut, the
buzzard! and will have to go round again to the ford; a precious time to
be gallivanting about!"

"Pish!" said an old hag; "I love to see the proud ones tasting the bitter
wind and rain as we bear alway; 'tis but a mile longer round to the ford.
I wish it was twenty."

"Hallo!" cried the first speaker; "the fool takes to the water.  He'll be
drowned; the banks are too high and rough to land man or horse yonder.
Hallo!"  and with that painful sympathy which the hardest feel at the
imminent peril of another when immediately subjected to their eyes, the
gipsy ran forth into the pelting storm, shouting to the traveller to halt.
For one moment Godolphin's steed still shrunk back from the rushing tide:
deep darkness was over the water; and the horseman saw not the height of
the opposite banks.  The shout of the gipsy sounded to his ear like the
cry of the dead whom he had left: he dashed his heels into the sides of
the reluctant horse, and was in the stream.

"Light--light the torches!" cried the gipsy; and in a few moments the
banks were illumined with many a brand from the fire, which the rain
however almost instantly extinguished; yet, by that momentary light, they
saw the noble animal breasting the waters, and perceived that Godolphin,
discovering by the depth his mistake, had already turned the horse's head
in the direction of the ford: they could see no more, but they shouted to
Godolphin to turn back to the place from which he had plunged; and, in a
few minutes afterwards, they heard, several yards above, the horse
clambering up the rugged banks, which there were steep and high, and
crushing the boughs that clothed the ascent.  They thought, at the same
time, that they distinguished also the splash of a heavy substance in the
waves; but they fancied it some detached fragment of earth or stone, and
turned to their tent, in the belief that the daring rider had escaped the
peril he had so madly incurred.  That night the riderless steed of
Godolphin arrived at the porch of the Priory, where Constance, alarmed,
pale, breathless, stood exposed to the storm, awaiting the return of
Godolphin, or the messengers she had despatched in search of him.

At daybreak his corpse was found by the shallows of the ford; and the mark
of violence across the temples, as of some blow, led them to guess that in
scaling the banks his head had struck against one of the tossing boughs
that overhung them, and the blow had precipitated him into the waters.

LETTER FROM CONSTANCE, COUNTESS OF ERPINGHAM, TO * * * .

                                                           August, 1832.

"I have read the work you have so kindly compiled from the papers
transmitted to your care, and from your own intimate knowledge of those to
whom they relate;--you have in much fulfilled my wishes with singular
success.  On the one hand, I have been anxious that a History should be
given to the world, from which lessons so deep and, I firmly believe,
salutary, may be generally derived: on the other hand, I have been anxious
that it should be clothed in such disguises, that the names of the real
actors in the drama should be for ever a secret.  Both these objects you
have attained.  It is impossible I think, for any one to read the book
about to be published, without being impressed with the truth of the moral
it is intended to convey, and without seeing, by a thousand infallible
signs, that its spring and its general course have flowed from reality and
not fiction.  Yet have you, by a few light alterations and addition,
managed to effect that concealment of names and persons, which is due no
less to the living than to the memory of the dead.

"So far I thank you from my heart: but in one point yon have utterly
failed.  You have done no justice to the noble character you meant to
delineate under the name of Godolphin; you have drawn his likeness with a
harsh and cruel pencil; you have enlarged on the few weaknesses he might
have possessed, until you have made them the foreground of the portrait;
and his vivid generosity, his high honour, his brilliant intellect, the
extraordinary stores of his mind, you have left in shadow.  Oh, God!  that
for such a being such a destiny was reserved!  and in the prime of life,
just when his mind had awakened to a sense of its own powers and their
legitimate objects!  What a fatal system of things, that could for
thirty-seven years have led away, by the pursuits and dissipations of a
life suited but to the beings be despised, a genius of such an order, a
heart of such tender emotions![1]  But on this subject I cannot, cannot
write.  I must lay down the pen: to-morrow I will try and force myself to
resume it.

"Well, then, I say, you have not done justice to him.  I beseech you to
remodel that character, and atone to the memory of one, whom none ever saw
but to admire, or knew but to love.

"Of me,--of me, the vain, the scheming, the proud, the unfeminine
cherishes of bitter thoughts, of stern designs,--of me, on the other
hand, how flattering is the picture you have drawn!  In that flattery is
my sure disguise; therefore, I will not ask you to shade it into the poor
and unlovely truth.  But while, with agony and shame, I feel that you have
rightly described that seeming neglectfulness of one no more, which sprang
from the pride that believed itself neglected, you have not said
enough--no, not one millionth part enough--of the real love that I
constantly bore to him: the only soft and redeeming portion of my nature.
But who can know, who can describe what another feels?  Even I knew not
what I felt, until death taught it me.

"Since I have read the whole book, one thought constantly haunts me--the
strangeness that I should survive his loss; that the stubborn strings of
my heart have not been broken long since; that I live, and live, too,
amidst the world!  Ay, but not one of the world; with that consciousness I
sustain myself in the petty and sterile career of life.  Shut out
henceforth and for ever, from all the tenderer feelings that belong to my
sex; without mother, husband, child, or friend; unloved and unloving, I
support myself by the belief that I have done the little suffered to my
sex in expediting the great change which is advancing on the world; and I
cheer myself by the firm assurance that, sooner or later, a time must
come, when those vast disparities in life which have been fatal, not to
myself alone, but to all I have admired and loved; which render the great
heartless, and the lowly servile; which make genius either an enemy to
mankind or the victim to itself; which debase the energetic purpose; which
fritter away the ennobling sentiment; which cool the heart and fetter the
capacities, and are favorable only to the general development of the
Mediocre and the Lukewarm, shall, if never utterly removed, at least be
smoothed away into more genial and unobstructed elements of society.
Alas! it is with an aching eye that we look abroad for the only solace,
the only occupation of life,--Solitude at home, and Memory at our hearth."

THE END.

[1] The reader will acquit me of the charge of injustice to Godolphin's
character when he arrives at this sentence; it conveys exactly the
impression that my delineation, faithful to truth, is intended to
convey--the influences of our actual world on the ideal and imaginative
order of mind, when that mind is without the stimulus of pursuits at once
practical and ennobling.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Godolphin, Volume 6." ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home