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mischief of bis nature appeared concentrated, and Frcrc with him, serving his apprenticeship, as Bracy phrased it.
]n solemn procession they approached the altar, where the priest awaited them, and, opening his book, read to them an account of the true nature of the ceremony they were about to celebrate,—how it was "instituted by God in the time of man's inuocency," lid was symbolical of high and holy things, and being ord;iined to assist us in fulfilling the various duties for which wc are placed in this world, and on the due performance of which will greatly depend our weal or woe for everlasting, it should not be undertaken lightly or unadvisedly ;—then De Grandeville, having learned the theory of the matter, proceeded to afford a practical commentary on the text by solemnly promising to love and honour Lady Lombard till death them should part, while she, in rekurn, pledged herself (with less chance of perjury) to serve, obey, and leep him during the term of her natural life;—then lie, ilarmadukc, took her, Sarah, from the hands of the wealthy Lombard relation, and declared that he did so " for richer, for poorer," though we much fear, if he had foreseen the smallest probability of the realization of this latter proviso, the ceremony would bve been then and there interrupted, instead of proceeding as it did, sweetly and edifyingly, till it wound up with "any amazement." And everybody being much pleased and thoroughly satisfied, there was, of course, a great deal of crying, though why they cried, unless it was to see so solemn an institution thus wantonly profaned, and to hear people use words of prayer aud praise, and worship God with tlieir lips, while in their hearts they were sacrificing all the better feelings of their nature before the altar of Mammon, we cannot tell.
Amongst trie rest Mrs. Arundel wept most meritoriously, until catching sight of Bracy sobbing aloud into a very large pocket-handkerchief, her weeping became somewhat hysterical, and ended in a sound suspiciously like laughter. Then people crowded into the vestry, which was about the size of a good fourpost bedstead, and names were signed, and fees paid, and small jokes made, and then the whole party t<K>k coach, and returned to the house, where the wedding-breakfast awaited them. The humours of a wedding-breakfast have been described so often and so well, that we shall merely give a very faint outline of the leading idiosyncrasies of the affair in question. In the first place, people were very hungry, Nature having asserted her rights, and promoted Appetite, rice Feeling sold out. Even the lady with the weak digestion (which made up by increased velocity for want of stamina) adding a very substantial fourth to her three previous breakfasts. Then, as mouths grew disengaged, tongues found room to wag, healths were drunk, and the speechifying began. First uprose the De Grandeville ancestor, who was a tall, thin, not to say shadowy old gentleman, with a hooked nose and a weak voice, who whispered to the company that "he rose to— " here his face twitched violently, and he
paused, in evident distress,—"he rose to—"—here a tremendous sneeze accounted for the previous spasm, aud the patient, evidently relieved, proceeded, "he rose to—" once again he paused, struggling furiously with the tails of his coat, "he begged to call the
attention of the company he had—" still the
struggles with the coat-tail continued, "he had a toast to propose;" here, amidst breathless attention, he whispered to his nephew in an aside, audible throughout the whole room, "Marmaduke, I've left it in my great-coat—the left hand-pocket, you know;" "the toast was this—thank you, Jenkins," to the butler, who brought the mi-sing handkerchief on a silver waiter, sticky with the overflowings of Champagne ;—" this was his toast, and he hoped that the company would do it justice—Health aud happiness to the bride and bridegroom."
And the company did it justice; so much so, that if the health and happiness of the newly-married pair depended on the amount of champagne tlieir friends appeared willing to drink at their expense, sickness and sorrow were evils against which they might consider themselves amply secured. Silence being restored, the bridegroom rose to return thanks, his inborn greatness manifesting itself in every look and gesture, and dignified condescension adding a new grace to his sonorous voice and grandiloquent delivery. Having glanced round the table with the air of a monarch (in a fairy extravaganza) about to address his parliament, he cleared his noble throat, and began:—
"In rising to—ar—return thanks for the honour you have done us, in so cordially assenting to the toast proposed by a man whose presence might confer a favour upon the most aristocratic assembly in the land,—a man whom—ar—even at this moment, which 1 have no hesitation—ar—in—ar—" (hear,hear,and question, from Bracy)—"I repeat, no hesitation in—in—no hesitation in—ar—declaring to be at once the proudest and happiest moment of my life,—a man who, even in this season of felicity, I yet distinctly—ar—yes, distinctly say, I envy ; for he has the honour tc represent the elder branch of that ancient and illustrious house of which I am a comparatively insignificant" (a groan of indignant denial from Bracy, which procured hiui a gracious smile from the speaker) "yes, I—ar— repeat it, a comparatively insignificant, but I hope, not an entirely unworthy descendant," here Bracy, after a slight struggle with Frcrc, who sought, to prevent him, rose, and, speaking apparently under feelings of the greatest excitement, said,—" He was sorry to interrupt the flow of eloquence which was so much dclightiug the company, but he was certain every one would agree with him in saying, that Mr. de Grandeville's last observation, however creditable it might be to him, as evincing his unparalleled and superehristian (if he might be allowed the term) humility, could not be allowed to pass unchallenged. He put it to them collectively, as intellectual beings; he put it to them individually, as gallant men and lovely women (immense sensation)—if his noble friend, the illustrious man to whose words of fire tlicy had just been listening, were allowed to set himself forth to the world as 'comparatively insignificant' and ' not entirely unworthy,'—be asked them if sucb terms as these were allowed to be applied to such a character as that, where was society to seek its true ' monarchs of mind?' where should it look for those heavengifted soul-heroes—those giants of thought, those "Noblers" and "that Noblest," to quote the glowing words of one of the leading writers of the age, by whom its evils were to be remedied, its abuses reformed, and its whole nature purified and regenerated ? — he put it to them to declare whether Mr. De Grandeville must not be entreated to recall bis words?"
Deafening applause followed Bracy's harangue, and the amendment was carried nem. con. Thus fooled to the top of his bent, De Grandeville resumed his speech, and after making a very absurd display of -.gotislic nonsense, family pride, and personal pretension, gave the health of the company generally, and •of his ancient ancestor, and the vulgar Lombard relation in particular. Then more healths were drunk, and more speeches made, and a great amount of stupidity elicited, interspersed with some drollery, when Bracy was called upon to return thanks for the bridesmaids, which he did in an affected falsetto, smiling, blushing, coquetting, and screwing up imaginary ringlets, much after the fashion of the inimitable John Parry, when it pleases him to enact one of the young ladies of England in the nineteenth century. Then the female portion of the company retired to relieve their feelings by a little amateur crying and kissing, champagne and susceptibility being mysteriously united in the tender bosoms of the softer sex; then tne miraculous robe was taken off, and the bride reattired for travelling; then the gentlemen came up stairs, all more or less "peculiar " from drinking wine at that unaccustomed hour in the morning, and some little business was transacted; one spirited bridesmaid, who had had a shy young man nibbling for some time, actually harpooning her fish, and landing him skilfully beyond all chance of floundering out of an engagement, by referring him on the spot to mamma. Mrs. Arundel, who by this time had learned to entertain a most lady-like and unchristian hatred against the fair Susannah, maliciously laid herself out, to captivate the limp and unstable affections of Mr. Dacerell Dace, and succeeded so well, that she actually began to deliberate whether opulence and triumph over her rival, might not render Dace endurable as a permanency. Then the travelling carriage with Newman's four greys drew up to the door, and the stereotyped adieus were spoken, the stereotyped smiles smiled, and tears shed, and all the necessary nonsense rehearsed, with most painstaking diligence, the only original feature in the whole affair being Erere's remark to Bracy, as the happy pair drove off:—
"You were about right, old fellow, when you compared marrying to hanging. I tell you what it is—
sooner than undergo all this parade of folly, absurdity, and bad taste, I'll be spliced at the pier-head at Dover, and set sail for Calais as soon as the ring is on the bride's linger; better be sea-sick, than sick at heart with such rubbish as we've been witness to."
DEPICTS TIIE HEKO IN AN UNAMIABLE LIGHT.
Loud Bellepild safely accomplished his journey to Venice, reaching that city of palaces without let or hindrance. Despite his imperturbable assurance, a close observer might have discovered from external signs that his lordship was ill at ease, and in no particular was it more apparent than in the marked change in bis manner towards General Grant and his daughter. The cold nonchalance with which he formerly tolerated the General's stateliness, and the easy, almost impertinent confidence with which be had been accustomed to prosecute his suit to Annie, had given place to an affectation of studiously courteous deference when he addressed the father, and to respectful yet tender devotion in his intercourse with the daughter, which proved that to secure the good opinion of the former, and, if possible, the affection of the latter, had now become a matter of importance to him. With General Grant he was in great measure successful, that gallant officer believing, in his simplicity, that his intended son-in-law had at length finished sowing his wild oats; a species of seed, which being universally acknowledged to contain, besides every small vice extant, the germs of the seven deadly sins, has this remarkable peculiarity, that being once sown, it is popularly supposed to bring forth a plentiful crop of all the domestic virtues. Deluded by this fallacy, the General fondly trusted that the coming event of matrimony had cast its shadow before, and extinguished all the wild-fire which had hitherto flung its baleful glare over his Lordship's comet-like course; or, to drop metaphor, and condescend to that much better thing, plain English, the gallant officer taught himself to believe, that Lord Bellefield had at length seen the error of his ways and intended to marry and live virtuously ever after. With the lady, however, his lordship did not succeed so easily; and, skilful tactician as he not unjustly considered himself, never had he felt more completely bewildered or more thoroughly perplexed how to act. Annie's whole nature appeared to him so completely altered, that he could hardly recognise her as the same person. Instead of the simple, amiable, child-like character, which he had despised but fancied would do very well for a wife, he now found a proud capricious beauty, whose mood seemed to vary between cold indifference and a teasing sarcastic humour, which he could neither fathom nor control. If he tried to interest or amuse her, she listened with a careles3, distrait manner, which proved his efforts to be completely unavailing; if he attempted the tender or sentimental, she laughed at him, turning all he said into ridicule, by two or three words of quiet but bitter irony. She appeared tacitly to acquiesce in their engagement, but any attempt to fix a time for its fulfilment, served only to estrange her still more. Does the reader think this change unnatural ? may he never witness the alteration which a grief such as Annie's makes, even in the gentlest natures,—may he never experience the bitterness of that nascent despair, which sours the sweetest temper, and forces cold looks and cutting words from eyes accustomed to beam with tenderness, and lips from which accents of affection alone were wont to flow!
One morning, rather more than a week after Lord Bellefield's arrival, an expedition was proposed to visit one of the architectural lions of the picturesque old city, and as the General seemed inclined to accede to the scheme, and Annie made no objection, it was agreed that they should go.
"I make one proviso," observed Charles Leicester, "and that is, that you come home in good time. I don't want to frighten you, in fact there is nothing to be frightened about, only I know that there has been, for some time past, a spirit of disaffection abroad among the workmen at the Arsenal, and if they should attempt to make a demonstratiou by congregating in the squares and few open spaces in this amphibious city, it might be disagreeable for you."
"But is such an event at all probable?" inquired Laura.
"Why, yes," was the reply; "I had a note this morning front Arundel "—catching a reproachful look from his wife, Charley stopped in momentary embarrassment, then continued,—"a—that is, from a friend of mine, telling me such a thing was possible —however, I'll go with you myself, and keep you in proper order."
As Charley in his forgctfulness blundered out the name of Arundel, Laura did not dare to look at Annie; when, however, she ventured a moment afterwards to steal a glance towards her, her features wore the cold listless look which had now, alas! become habitual to them, and exhibited no sign of emotion by which her friend could decide whether she had remarked the name, or whether it had passed without striking her car. Almost immediately afterwards she rose, and saying, she supposed she had better get ready, quitted the room. Lord Bcllefield had not been present at this little scene. With faltering steps Annie sought her own apartment, closed aud locked the door; then, instead of preparing to dress, flung herself into an easy chair, and pressing her hands upon her throbbing temples, tried to collect her thoughts. She had heard the name only too clearly, and combining it with "Walter's tale of the ghost, had guessed the truth. lie was then in Venice, and not only that, but he had evidently established some communication with the Leicesters, and must therefore be aware of the presence of her father and herself; nay, by what she had gathered from Charles's speech, he must be actually engaged in watching over their safety, and as the idea struck her, a 6ofc bright light came into her eyes, and a faint blush restored the roses to her cheeks, so that any one who had seen her
five minutes before, would scarcely have recognised her for the same person. "But with what purpose could he be there? why, if the Leicesters knew it, had they so studiously concealed it from her?—from her!" and, as she repeated the words, the recollection of "Walter's speech, "He went away because he loved you, and you did not love him," flashed across her. "What if it were true? if he really had loved her, and had left them because his feelings were becoming too strong for his control?" and then a thousand remembered circumstances (trifles in themselves, but confirmatory of that which she now almost believed to be the truth) occurred to her. But if this were indeed the case,—if, instead of resigning his situation because, as her fears had urged, he had guessed at the nature of her sentiments towards him, he had loved her, and his honourable feelings had driven him into a self-imposed exile,—what must he not have suffered! and oh! knowing as much as he did of her feelings towards Lord Bcllefield, what must he not have thought of her, when he learned that in less than four-and-twenty hours after his departure, she had renewed her engagement to a man he was aware she both disliked and mistrusted! above all, what, a false view it must have given him of her feelings towards himself! Oh, how she hoped, how she prayed this blow might have been spared him! Then the present, what did it mean? the future, how would it turn out,? On one point she was determined, only let her ascertain beyond a doubt that Lewis loved her, and she would die rather than marry Lord Bcllefield. The evils that befall us in this world are not without even their temporal benefit. Two years of hopeless sorrow had given a species of desperate courage to a mind naturally prone to n want of self-dependence. Anything was preferable to the anguish she had gone through; and Annie Grant's decision now, was very different to the 'lady's yea' or nay she would have uttered ere the storm of passion had swept over her maiden spirit.
The effect produced on Annie by the new light which had broken in upon her, did not immediately pass away, and although her remarks were chiefly addressed to her cousin Charles, Lord Bcllefield was equally surprised and puzzled by the change iu her manner. In order to reach the building they were about to visit, they were forced to disembark from their gondola, aud after proceeding along a species of cloister, to cross one of the foot bridges which so constantly, iu Venice, intersect the canals. Under the shade of an arch of this cloister, stood the tall figure of a man; as the party approached he drew back further into the shadow, and, himself unseen, observed them attentively as they passed. The excitement of the morning had left, its traces in the flushed cheek and sparkling eye of Annie Grant. At the moment she quitted the boat, Charley Leicester had made her laugh by some quaint remark on the personal appearance of a fat little individual who was one of the gondoliers, but whose figure by no means coincided with the romantic associations his. avocation recalled. As, leaning on Lord Bellefield's arm, she passed the arch behind which the stranger was concealed, her companion addressed to her sonic observation, which necessitated a reply. Turning to him with the smile Leicester's observation had provoked still upon her lips, the light fell strongly on her features, revealing them fully to the eager gaze of (for we intend no mystification as to his identity,) Lewis Arundel. He looked after them with straining eyeballs, till a corner of the building hid them from his view. Then dark lines spread across his forehead, the proud nostril arched, the stern mouth set, the flashing eye grew cold and stony, and a spirit of evil seemed to take possession of him.
"So," he muttered, "it has come to this; with my own eyes have I beheld her perfidy. It is well that it should be so, the cure will be the more complete, and yet"—he pressed his hand to his throbbing brow—"yet how beautiful she is! She is changed; her face has acquired expression, soul, power, all it wanted to render it perfect, and—to madden me."
lie paused, then appearing to have collected strength, continued more calmly, "Yes, I have seen it; she clung to his arm, she smiled on him, she loves and will marry him. It is over; for me there must be no past; I must sweep it from my memory. Happiness I can never know; as far as the affections are concerned, the game of life is played. Well, be it so, my art still is left mc, and the dark, the unknown future."
Again he paused. Ere the arrival of the party, the sight of which had so deeply affected him, he had been sketching an antique gable opposite. He resumed his work, and by a few hasty but graphic strokes, transferred to his sketch-book the object which had attracted him to the spot. Replacing his drawing materials, he continued, "'Tis strange how the sight of that man affected me! I fancied I had taught myself the evil and folly of nourishing sentiments of hatred against him, and yet the moment I beheld him, all the old feelings rushed back upon me with redoubled vigour. I must avoid his presence, or my wise resolutions will go for nothing." He sighed deeply. "This, then, is all the fruit of two years of mental discipline, to find, at the end of the time, that I love her as deeply, and hate him as bitterly as I did at the beginning. Oh, it is humiliating thus to be the slave of passion!"
Communing with himself after this fashion, Lewis quitted the spot, and proceeded in the direction of his own lodgings. On reaching the square of St. Mark, he was surprised to find it partially occupied by an excited crowd, apparently composed of the very lowest of the people, its numbers being constantly swelled by fresh parties pouring in from various parts of the city. It instantly occurred to Lewis, that in order to reach the Palazzo Grassini, Leicester and his companions would be forced to cross the square, and consequently obliged to make their way through the crowd; and a feeling which he did not attempt to analyze, but which, in truth, was anxiety for Annie's
safety, determined him to remain there till lie had scon them return. Accordingly, turning up his coat collar, and slouching his hat over his eyes in order to conceal his features, he mingled with the crowd. In the meantime the Grant party, ignorant of the difficulties that awaited them, were quietly examining statues and criticising pictures.
"Laura, you look tired, and Annie seems as if she were becoming somewhat 'used-up,'" observed Leicester, glancing from his wife towards his cousin; "no wonder cither, for we've been on our feet for more than two hours, and as for my share in the matter, I tell you plainly, if you keep me here much longer, you'll have to carry me home on your back, Mrs. Leicester, for walk I won't."
Thus urged the ladies confessed their fatigue, anil their willingness to return; but there was still another gallery of paintings unseen, which the General evidently wished to visit. He had commissioned anartibt to copy two or three of them, and be required Lord Bellefield's opinion as to the propriety of his choice. This occasioned a difficulty, which Laura met by proposing the following scheme, viz. that she, Annie, and Charley should leave the General and Lord Bellefield to their own devices, and taking a gondola, row to a point at which they would be within two minutes' walk of St. Mark's. Lord Bellefield made some slight remonstrance, and it was clear Indisapproved of the scheme, but the General was peremptory, so he had no resource but to submit with the best grace he was able.
"Famous things gondolas arc, to be sure," observed Charley, as, placing a cushion beneath his head, he stretched himself at full length under the awning; "they afford almost the only instance that has come under my notice, in which the intensely romantic, ami the very decidedly comfortable, go hand in hand—they cut out cabs, and beat 'buses into fits: now, we only want a little melody to make the thing perfect—Laura, sing us a song!"
"Sing you asleep, you mean, you incorrigible"
"There, that will do; don't become vituperative, you termagant," interrupted her husband. "Annie, dear, gentle cousin Annie, warble forth something romantic with your angcl-voicc, do, and I'll say you're"
"What ?" inquired Annie.
"A regular stunner !" was the reply.
"And if the epithet be at all appropriate it clearly proves me unqualified for the office," returned Auiiic, smiling, "so you really must hold me excused."
"Then the long and short of the matter is that the duty devolves upon mc," rejoined Charley, and, slowly raising himself into a half sitting, half kneeling attitude, he placed himself at his wife's feet, after the fashion of those very interesting cavaliers who do the romantic on the covers of sentimental songs ; then having played an inaudible prelude upon a supposititious guitar, he placed one hand upon his heart, and extending the other in a theatrical attitude towards the boatman, began:—
when, having cxtemporarily parodied the first verse of that popular melody, lie was beginning the second with:—
"Ain't this here go—"
when the prow of the gondola struck against the steps where they were to land, with so sharp a jerk as to pitch the singer ou his hands and knees, and effectually check lils vocalizing. After discharging the boatman, they proceeded a short distance along the bank of the canal, and then turned down a narrow lane, or alley, leading to the square of St. ilark. In this Leicester was annoyed to perceive knots of disreputable-looking men, talking rapidly, or hurrying along with eager gestures, towards the square; finding, as they advanced, that the crowd became thicker, Leicester paused, irresolute whether or not to proceed.
"Surely we bad better turn back," urged Laura; "I should not bo afraid if we were alone, for I know
you could t:ikc care of me, but ," and she glanced
towards Annie, who, although she said nothing, had turned very pale, and clung with convulsive energy to her cousin's arm. Charles looked back, and to his utter dismay perceived that the crowd behind had been increased by a fresh accession of numbers, and that their retreat was effectually cut off.
"There is nothing remaining for us but to keep on," he said; "the stream of people appears, fortunately, to be going our way, and all we can do is to go with it: I dare saj they arc too much engrossed by their own affairs to trouble their heads about us. Whatever occurs, don't let go my arm, either of you;—it is rather disagreeable, certainly, but there is nothing to be really afraid of, and we shall reach home in five minutes."
Hoping these assertions, in regard to the truth of which he was himself somewhat sceptical, might suffice to reassure his companions, Leicester continued his course, occasionally annoyed by the pressure of the crowd, but not otherwise molested till they reached the square of Saint Mark. Here the sight tint awaited them was by no means encouraging; the whole space was tilled with a dense crowd of the lowest rabble of Venice; who, many of litem the worse for liquor, appeared in a state of considerable excitement, and filled the air with mingled shouts, cries, and curses. To pass safely through such an assembly, with his attention divided between his two charges, appeared next to impossible, and thoroughly perplexed, Charles Leicester paused, unable to decide whether it were better to advance or attempt to retrace their steps. As he thus pondered, a rush of people forced them forward, and they found themselves completely hemmed in by the crowd, while from the pressure of those around them, Laura and Annie experienced the greatest difficulty in retaining their grasp of Charley's arm. Still no personal incivility was offered them, and Leicester began to hope they might gradually make their way across the square without actual danger, when a cry from Annie
convinced him of his error. The cause of her alarm was as follows ;—
One of that industrious fraternity, (some members of which are to be met with in every large city,) ] whose principles in regard to the rights of property are reprehensibly lax, attracted by the sparkling of a valuable brooch in Annie's shawl, conceived the opportunity too good to be lost; accordingly, pressing close to her, he made a snatch at the ornament, seizing it so rudely as to tear open the shawl, and partially drag it from her shoulders. As, alarmed by her cry, Charles turned to discover its cause, a tall figure sprang forward, and wrested his spoil from the robber, flinging him off at the same time with such force that he staggered and fell; then addressing Leicester, the stranger said in a deep stern voice, each accent of which thrilled through Annie's very sold :—■
"Make for the church steps,—think only of protecting Mrs. Leicester.—/ will be answerable for this lady's safety."
Then Annie was conscious that her shawl was replaced and carefully wrapped round her, and she felt herself half-led, half-carried forward by one before whose resistless strength all obstacles seemed, a3 it were, to melt away. How they passed through that yelling, maddened crowd, she never knew, but ere she had well recovered from her first alarm at the ruffian's attack, she found herself placed on the steps of St. Mark's Church, her back leaning against a column, and the tall dark figure of her preserver standing statuelike beside her, in such a position as to screen her from the pressure of the crowd. Involuntarily she glauccd up at his features; hidden by the coat collar and slouched hat, the only portion of his face that remained visible was the tip of a black moustache, (he proud arched nostril, and the cold stony gaze of two fierce black eyes, fixed upon her as though they would pierce her very soul. It was a look to haunt her to her dying day, and worse than all, she understood it! In a moment, the truth flashed upon her. Pic had loved her! he knew she was about, to marry his bitterest enemy, and now he hated her :— poor Annie, if mental agony could kill, that instant she had died. Lewis, thou art bitterly avenged!
"What is the next move?" inquired Leicester, coming up with his arm round his wife's waist, and his hat crushed into the shape of a biffin.
"Wait here for a few minutes," returned Lewis, "the crowd is already dispersing in the direction of the Arsenal."
"The Arsenal, what do they want there?" inquired Leicester.
"To waylay Marinovitch, as he leaves the place, and murder him," returned Lewis in a stern whisper, "but he has been warned of their design, and will of course take measures to ensure his safety."
"Pleasant all this !" muttered Leicester, taking off his injured hat and endeavouring in some degree to restore its original shape; "here's a case of wanton destruction, glad it is not my head all the same,—now, the coast seems pretty clear, suppose we move on."