Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

thoughts as precluded the possibility of slumber. The words of the stranger, who had so unaccountably secreted himself, in a place where every precaution had been taken to exclude every one but herself and her present favourite, still haunted her mind, and originated a train of thought, she found it impossible to get rid of.

There was something much too marked, and much too serious, in the manner, as well as in the matter of the stranger's warning, to be the mere result of any of those exhibitions of assumed chater, permitted by masquerade, She applied the stranger's words to the state of her finances, and her fears on this subject reached farther than they had ever done before. Fancy wants but a few materials to begin her fairy web, and having got these, she weaves it to an extent that will embrace an ideal world within its folds. No sooner was her mind fairly set a-working on this touching theme of the possibility of her own future distress, than all her selfish feelings were roused, and bitter self-reproaches, for the folly of her past life, and the ill success of all her plans, rose one upon the other, as billow rises over billow.

What was to be done ? Even supposing the words of the Necromancer to have proceeded from mere wanton malice, as she was sometimes disposed to think they did, it was evident that the failure of her fortune was already no secret; and should the tongue of scandal spread the tale widely, it would put an end to all hopes of redeeming her fortune by marriage, and sheltering herself in the arms of a wealthy husband from the difficulties she had so much cause to dread.

Aware of the motives that guided herself, she was too well acquainted with the nature of fashionable love to believe it could long endure where interest did not in some measure go in hand with it. She had been in the habit of considering the Count rather as a dernier resort than any thing else, but she now almost began to suspect that the time for seizing that dernier resort was arrived. The necessity of the case, and the hope of finding an asylum abroad in those splendid possessions of which he talked so much, contributed to bring her to the resolution of speedily yielding to his incessant importunities

. Such were the reflections that kept Miss Delassaux awake.

hand

But Lady Deborah's mind was harassed by a series of recollections of the darkest description, giving birth to a train of the most agonizing thoughts, which harrowed up her very soul. In vain she tried to stretch her limbs on the soft down. It was to her like the redhot iron bed of martyrdom. The very absence of light, occasioned by the officious zeal of her female attendant, who, careful to ensure the repose of her mistress, had curtained and barricadoed every aperture against the intrusive rays of morning, till she had succeeded in producing an artificial night in the apartment, was in itself too much for her. A thousand terrific phantoms filled her disordered brain, swam before her eyes, and muttered dire forebodings in her ears. She could bear her tortures no longer ; springing in a phrenzy from her bed, she rushed to a window, and, in her eagerness to undo those barriers which kept out the blessed light of day, she tore down à part of the drapery.".

The glorious sun was beaming in all his splendour; she looked forth upon the smiling landscape, where woods, and shrubberies, and resplendent sheets of water, and lawns, and more distant

fields, richly cultivated by the hand of man, and smoking cottages, and towers, and glittering spires, were beautifully thrown together. It was a scene that might have gladdened the coldest heart. But it gave no joy to that of Lady Deborah Her's sickened at the spectacle, and she was preparing to retreat from the window, when an object caught her eyes, and at once anxiously fised them.

A man came gallopping from a great distance up the approach leading to the house. As he drew nearer, she observed that his horse looked as if it was jaded and quite blown by the unnatural speed to which it had been pushed. He was yet a quarter of a mile nearly from the mansion, when the animal seemed to flag in his pace. The horseman lashed and spurred him without mercy, but the poor creature, as if suddenly failing, staggered to one side, and rolled himself and rider upon the grass. The man quickly extricating himself from the saddle, started upon his legs, and gave the animal a violent kick in the belly. But the poor horse felt it not; his heart was broken, and he was already dead. The man eyed the inanimate carcase for a moment, then, casting a

long look backwards, he, with great exertion, dragged it, saddle and all, into a thicket a few paces distant from the road, and, hiding it behind the bushes, he ran at full speed across the lawn towards the back entry to the house.

Lady Deborah paced her room backwards and forwards for some minutes in great agitation. She stopped to listen. A footstep came stealing along the passage towards her door. It opened, and Antonio, pale, haggard, worn out by fatigue, his face disfigured by a dreadful gash, his arm bound up with a handkerchief, his clothes bloody in some places, and torn in others, and his whole person begrimed with dust and dirt, threw himself, almost fainting with hunger and thirst, into the sofa before her.

With a trembling hand she shut and bolted the door of the apartment.

“A cup of water, for Mercy's sake!" exclaimed the wretch, in a voice hardly intelligible. Ho il fuoco d'inferno nelle mie viscere!-Hell !-hell is here !-ugh!"

“ Where !” exclaimed the terrified lady, looking wildly around her. Sangue del Diavolo !-here !" exclaimed.

« AnteriorContinuar »