Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

so spend the wretched remainder of her existence, if not in peace, at least hid from the world.

The knowledge she had obtained of the disre putable nature of her origin, had induced her, ever since the cruel discovery, to discontinue many of those gorgeous decorations so bountifully låvished on her by Lord Eaglesholme, which she had always taken a pride in wearing as his gifts, but which were now, she thought, as ill suited to her birth, as to her present feelings. She endeavoured, indeed, altogether to lower her state, and in this species of humiliation, she felt an indescribable sort of gratification. Under happier circumstances, she would have taken one of his Lordship’s carriages for the journey, as well as such a number of attendants' as might have be fitted the niece of an Earl. But as in the haisty epistle which his Lordship had written to her, he had merely desired that Robertson should accompany her, as also Ferdinando, an Italian servant whom he particularly named, she felt that in taking them, she should be obeying his orders to the letter, and that after arranging thus much, she might, in all other respects, choose her own mode of travelling.

She accordingly signified her intention of performing the journey on horseback, accompanied by her maid, and the individuals we have mentioned

This being by no means an uncommon mode of travelling, even for ladies, at the time we speak of, excited no great surprise, though Mr Robertson used the freedom of an old servant, to suggest the superior convenience of the coach, but without effect. Those were not the times when, as at present, post-horses and a travelling chariot could convey the traveller in four days to the metropolis, even from the distant spot where Miss Malcolm then was. So slow and tedious was the journey then rendered by bad roads, and bad machinery, that perhaps to a young lady of her equestrian powers, there was no way in which she could have got on so expeditiously and with so little trouble.

They travelled by easy stages, and little worth notice occurred until they reached the city of York, where Miss Malcolm resolved, on her own account, as well as on that of her attendants and their horses, to take a full day's rest. Having reposed at the inn for a great part of the day, she

walked out in the evening, attended by Robertson, to enjoy the effect of sunset upon that magnificent pile, which gives so venerable and dignified an air to the ancient city surrounding it. She had already surveyed it with great attention during a visit she had paid to it in the early part of the morning, and the holy and peaceful solemnity of its interior had been gratifying to her wounded soul, and awakened reflections, harmonizing with her future plans, and confirming her intentions. It was peculiarly gratifying to her in this second visit, for the twilight without deepened the shadows within, and by causing the more minute parts of the architecture to disappear, increased the sublimity and grandeur of the whole.

After loitering till the hour and the decaying light warned her away, she was in the act of leaving the interior, in a temper of mind much more calm and resigned than she had for some time enjoyed, and she had already got beyond the entrance, and into the open air, whilst Robertson, who was considerably behind, was doing all he could to hasten after her, his aged steps echoing feebly under the immensity of the vault, and at

tended by a garrulous cicerone yet more infirm than himself, when she observed two men advancing hastily towards her from a projecting buttress that had hitherto concealed them. They were armed ; and before she had time even to scream for assistance, or at least before she could do so effectually, she was seized,--her mouth gagged with a handkerchief,—her eyes and her whole person shrouded up,-and she was forcibly carried off through a bewildering labyrinth of narrow unfrequented lanes, until she fainted away.

When she recovered, she perceived that she was in a vaulted apartment. The two men who had carried her off, and whom she now, to her increased horror, discovered to be the villain Antonio and his associate Brandywyn, were hanging over her, as if watching her countenance, whilst a third ruffian, whose face she had never before seen, held a lamp on high, that threw a more glowing and fierce expression over the features of the others. She thought she read murder in their eyes,—and the blood forsaking her heart, she again fainted.

How long she remained in this state, she was of course ignorant; the consciousness of exist

ence had no sooner returned, than she felt she was in rapid motion on horseback, borne in the same rude

way

she had been when she was carried off in Scotland; but being muffled up as before, she had no means of determining whither she was carried.

She endeavoured to scream, but her ineffectual efforts only produced a volley of Italian oaths from the person behind whom she was carried. She could distinctly hear the tramp of another horse, and the sound convinced her they were gallopping along a road, for although the riders talked loud to each other, the clatter of the horses hooves rendered their words unintelligible.

They continued to ride in this manner for a considerable time, until at length the horses seemed to be suddenly turned off into some bye path, where the badness of the way compelled them to go more leisurely. From this circumstance, she was now able to gather some occasional words passing rather angrily between the two men.

Why have you turned thus from the main road ?" demanded Brandywyn rather sharply.

Corpo di Christo! and why do you ask ?" demanded the other in return, “ Am I not re

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »