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a long white wand, and his face was partly covered by a ghastly bearded mask, leaving his dark and piercing eyes fully disclosed, and giving to the rest of his visage the cold and pallid hue of death. The figure stood motionless for a few minutes, the blue light falling strong upon his face; the eyes of the party were fastened on it with astonishment, not unmingled with horror, and even apprehension. Fixed as a statue, his head erect, his arm extended, and the end of his rod resting upon the ground, it seemed as if a corpse had left the grave to place itself before them.
There was something so appalling in this apparition, that, although the plan of the amusements of the night fully authorized every species of disguise, it was some time before any of them could command sufficient recollection to question it. At last, Miss Delassaux assuming a language and tone suitable to the humour of the evening and the occasion:
“ Whence come ye, reader of the stars?" said she, “ for so thy looks and habit would proclaim thee ; deign to answer us—whence come ye?"
“ From the tomb !" uttered the figure in a deep sepulchral voice, to which the mask gave
; additional solemnity by the immobility of its lips.
“ Unfold thy name and purpose," said Miss Delassaux, in a more tremulous voice.
“Abulcassim the Magician, who, after having descended to the world below, to dive into the secrets of the grave, now comes to warn thee of thy folly!" said the spectre in the same solemn tone and immoveable manner.
“Go on then, good master,” said Miss Delassaux, endeavouring to hide her alarm, but at the same time edging herself nearer to the Count; " but let not your admonitions exceed the gentle licence of this night of revelry.”
“I come not to flatter, Lady; there be enough here to minister to your diseased appetite by hailing your approach with honeyed words, but only that their envenomed stings may the more certainly pierce thee. If dread warning from the grave can awaken virtue and wisdom in thy bosom, my errand is to rouse thee !"
Surely," said the Count, with a foreign accent, surely you do not mean to be so rude as to accuse this beautiful and all-accomplished lady of a want of either of these qualities? The licence of the evening goes not to such a point; and”.
The Magician seemed to hear him not ; with his eyes still bent on Miss Delassaux, he proceeded, as if he had not been interrupted,
“ Leave the flowery but deceitful road of pleasure, Lady, if folly like thine can be called by such a name. Leave the road that leads thee to destruction. Seek, if thou can'st, though late, the rugged path of virtue and of wisdom ; its thorns and rocks alone can now afford thee shelter. Sunshine will depart, and storms will come anon.
Think! -deeply think ! and nerve thee for the adverse blast:-One sole protector yet remains, whom future reformation alone can secure. Then, once again, resolve !"
Miss Delassaux was so much confounded by these portentous words, as well as with the solemnity of the appeal, that she was unable to reply. Her knight, too, felt either too much astonished, or too much alarmed to answer for her. Lady Deborah, however, who had been listening with very great attention, and who naturally enough imagined that this prophetic speech proceeded from some one who guessed at the perplexed state of her niece's affairs, and who wished to mortify her in the midst of her glory, now made an
attempt to turn the direction of the stranger's at
“ Most renowned Magician, thy sage advices shall not be forgotten. Yea, unbeliever though thou art, thy stern but moral warning shall not be lost. Myself, the Lady Abbess, shall take our erring daughter within the holy precincts of our sanctuary,and there, by mild instruction, shall we wean her from the world. Thy Saracenic tongue gives chastisement too rough for such a gentle maid. Be mine the task to lay some softer penance on the tender girl,--yea, and to give her mild instruction; - duty most delightful to Religion's voice.”
Religion's voice!!!” exclaimed the Magician, now, for the first time, starting from his fixed position as she spoke, and regarding her with a full and fiery eye, as he repeated her last words in a tone of thunder, that made even the proud and dauntless Lady Deborah quail before him, “ Darest thou then talk of religion with hell itself in thy bosom? Speak not again, I tell thee, or I unfold
the past horrors of thy guilty life-thy, yet unextecuted crimes--thy future fate !—Thou bearest
not now that petrifying Ægis on thy breast, which us once as ill disguised thy lack of virtue as those holy weeds do now befit thy foully feigned religion !-Beware!-thy inmost thoughts are known -the blow threatened by thine uplifted arm has fallen innocuous; else had thy full cup of wickedness overflowed, and dreadful and ignominious would have been thy punishment. Shrink, then, at the thought; for, know, thy future fate hangs on thy future conduct,—therefore Beware."
Whilst the Magician was pouring forth this terrible threat, Lady Deborah sank down on her knees, and, with a look of bitter agony, that drew together her large eyebrows, and half hid her dark eyeballs, clenching her hands as he proceeded, she shrieked aloud, and, just as he had concluded, she fell backwards in a fit of strong convulsion. Meanwhile, Miss Delassaux and the Count had listened with astonishment to the vehemence of the stranger, whose words had become much too serious to be mistaken for those of mere sport. They were so much petrified by the result, that some moments elapsed before they ran to Lady Deborah. At length they raised her up, and chafed her hands and temples, and, by means of their exertions, her vital spirits were gradually recalled.”