October 28, 2004

The Monk - Part III

Part I

Part II


CHAPTER III

----These are the Villains
Whom all the Travellers do fear so much.
--------Some of them are Gentlemen
Such as the fury of ungoverned Youth
Thrust from the company of awful Men.
Two Gentlemen of Verona.

The Marquis and Lorenzo proceeded to the Hotel in silence. The
Former employed himself in calling every circumstance to his
mind, which related might give Lorenzo's the most favourable idea
of his connexion with Agnes. The Latter, justly alarmed for the
honour of his family, felt embarrassed by the presence of the
Marquis: The adventure which He had just witnessed forbad his
treating him as a Friend; and Antonia's interests being entrusted
to his mediation, He saw the impolicy of treating him as a Foe.
He concluded from these reflections, that profound silence would
be the wisest plan, and waited with impatience for Don Raymond's
explanation.

They arrived at the Hotel de las Cisternas. The Marquis
immediately conducted him to his apartment, and began to express
his satisfaction at finding him at Madrid. Lorenzo interrupted
him.

'Excuse me, my Lord,' said He with a distant air, 'if I reply
somewhat coldly to your expressions of regard. A Sister's honour
is involved in this affair: Till that is established, and the
purport of your correspondence with Agnes cleared up, I cannot
consider you as my Friend. I am anxious to hear the meaning of
your conduct, and hope that you will not delay the promised
explanation.'

'First give me your word, that you will listen with patience and
indulgence.'

'I love my Sister too well to judge her harshly; and till this
moment I possessed no Friend so dear to me as yourself. I will
also confess, that your having it in your power to oblige me in a
business which I have much at heart, makes me very anxious to
find you still deserving my esteem.'

- Joatmoaf -

'Lorenzo, you transport me! No greater pleasure can be given me,
than an opportunity of serving the Brother of Agnes.'

'Convince me that I can accept your favours without dishonour,
and there is no Man in the world to whom I am more willing to be
obliged.'

'Probably, you have already heard your Sister mention the name of
Alphonso d'Alvarada?'

'Never. Though I feel for Agnes an affection truly fraternal,
circumstances have prevented us from being much together. While
yet a Child She was consigned to the care of her Aunt, who had
married a German Nobleman. At his Castle She remained till two
years since, when She returned to Spain, determined upon
secluding herself from the world.'

'Good God! Lorenzo, you knew of her intention, and yet strove
not to make her change it?'

'Marquis, you wrong me. The intelligence, which I received at
Naples, shocked me extremely, and I hastened my return to Madrid
for the express purpose of preventing the sacrifice. The moment
that I arrived, I flew to the Convent of St. Clare, in which
Agnes had chosen to perform her Noviciate. I requested to see my
Sister. Conceive my surprise when She sent me a refusal; She
declared positively, that apprehending my influence over her
mind, She would not trust herself in my society till the day
before that on which She was to receive the Veil. I supplicated
the Nuns; I insisted upon seeing Agnes, and hesitated not to avow
my suspicions that her being kept from me was against her own
inclinations. To free herself from the imputation of violence,
the Prioress brought me a few lines written in my Sister's
well-known hand, repeating the message already delivered. All
future attempts to obtain a moment's conversation with her were
as fruitless as the first. She was inflexible, and I was not
permitted to see her till the day preceding that on which She
entered the Cloister never to quit it more. This interview took
place in the presence of our principal Relations. It was for the
first time since her childhood that I saw her, and the scene was
most affecting. She threw herself upon my bosom, kissed me, and
wept bitterly. By every possible argument, by tears, by prayers,
by kneeling, I strove to make her abandon her intention. I
represented to her all the hardships of a religious life; I
painted to her imagination all the pleasures which She was going
to quit, and besought her to disclose to me, what occasioned her
disgust to the world. At this last question She turned pale, and
her tears flowed yet faster. She entreated me not to press her
on that subject; That it sufficed me to know that her resolution
was taken, and that a Convent was the only place where She could
now hope for tranquillity. She persevered in her design, and
made her profession. I visited her frequently at the Grate, and
every moment that I passed with her, made me feel more affliction
at her loss. I was shortly after obliged to quit Madrid; I
returned but yesterday evening, and since then have not had time
to call at St. Clare's Convent.'

'Then till I mentioned it, you never heard the name of Alphonso
d'Alvarada?'

'Pardon me: my Aunt wrote me word that an Adventurer so called
had found means to get introduced into the Castle of Lindenberg;
That He had insinuated himself into my Sister's good graces, and
that She had even consented to elope with him. However, before
the plan could be executed, the Cavalier discovered that the
estates which He believed Agnes to possess in Hispaniola, in
reality belonged to me. This intelligence made him change his
intention; He disappeared on the day that the elopement was to
have taken place, and Agnes, in despair at his perfidy and
meanness, had resolved upon seclusion in a Convent. She added,
that as this adventurer had given himself out to be a Friend of
mine, She wished to know whether I had any knowledge of him. I
replied in the negative. I had then very little idea, that
Alphonso d'Alvarada and the Marquis de las Cisternas were one and
the same person: The description given me of the first by no
means tallied with what I knew of the latter.'

'In this I easily recognize Donna Rodolpha's perfidious
character. Every word of this account is stamped with marks of
her malice, of her falsehood, of her talents for misrepresenting
those whom She wishes to injure. Forgive me, Medina, for
speaking so freely of your Relation. The mischief which She has
done me authorises my resentment, and when you have heard my
story, you will be convinced that my expressions have not been
too severe.'

He then began his narrative in the following manner.

HISTORY OF DON RAYMOND, MARQUIS DE LAS CISTERNAS

Long experience, my dear Lorenzo, has convinced me how generous
is your nature: I waited not for your declaration of ignorance
respecting your Sister's adventures to suppose that they had
been purposely concealed from you. Had they reached your
knowledge, from what misfortunes should both Agnes and myself
have escaped! Fate had ordained it otherwise! You were on your
Travels when I first became acquainted with your Sister; and as
our Enemies took care to conceal from her your direction, it was
impossible for her to implore by letter your protection and
advice.

On leaving Salamanca, at which University as I have since heard,
you remained a year after I quitted it, I immediately set out
upon my Travels. My Father supplied me liberally with money; But
He insisted upon my concealing my rank, and presenting myself as
no more than a private Gentleman. This command was issued by the
counsels of his Friend, the Duke of Villa Hermosa, a Nobleman for
whose abilities and knowledge of the world I have ever
entertained the most profound veneration.

'Believe me,' said He, 'my dear Raymond, you will hereafter feel
the benefits of this temporary degradation. 'Tis true, that as
the Conde de las Cisternas you would have been received with open
arms; and your youthful vanity might have felt gratified by the
attentions showered upon you from all sides. At present, much
will depend upon yourself: You have excellent recommendations,
but it must be your own business to make them of use to you. You
must lay yourself out to please; You must labour to gain the
approbation of those, to whom you are presented: They who would
have courted the friendship of the Conde de las Cisternas will
have no interest in finding out the merits, or bearing patiently
with the faults, of Alphonso d'Alvarada. Consequently, when you
find yourself really liked, you may safely ascribe it to your
good qualities, not your rank, and the distinction shown you will
be infinitely more flattering. Besides, your exalted birth would
not permit your mixing with the lower classes of society, which
will now be in your power, and from which, in my opinion, you
will derive considerable benefit. Do not confine yourself to the
Illustrious of those Countries through which you pass. Examine
the manners and customs of the multitude: Enter into the
Cottages; and by observing how the Vassals of Foreigners are
treated, learn to diminish the burthens and augment the comforts
of your own. According to my ideas, of those advantages which a
Youth destined to the possession of power and wealth may reap
from travel, He should not consider as the least essential, the
opportunity of mixing with the classes below him, and becoming an
eyewitness of the sufferings of the People.'

Forgive me, Lorenzo, if I seem tedious in my narration. The close
connexion which now exists between us, makes me anxious that you
should know every particular respecting me; and in my fear of
omitting the least circumstance which may induce you to think
favourably of your Sister and myself, I may possibly relate many
which you may think uninteresting.

I followed the Duke's advice; I was soon convinced of its wisdom.

I quitted Spain, calling myself by the assumed title of Don
Alphonso d'Alvarada, and attended by a single Domestic of
approved fidelity. Paris was my first station. For some time I
was enchanted with it, as indeed must be every Man who is young,
rich, and fond of pleasure. Yet among all its gaieties, I felt
that something was wanting to my heart. I grew sick of
dissipation: I discovered, that the People among whom I lived,
and whose exterior was so polished and seducing, were at bottom
frivolous, unfeeling and insincere. I turned from the
Inhabitants of Paris with disgust, and quitted that Theatre of
Luxury without heaving one sigh of regret.

I now bent my course towards Germany, intending to visit most of
the principal courts: Prior to this expedition, I meant to make
some little stay at Strasbourg. On quitting my Chaise at
Luneville to take some refreshment, I observed a splendid
Equipage, attended by four Domestics in rich liveries, waiting at
the door of the Silver Lion. Soon after as I looked out of the
window, I saw a Lady of noble presence, followed by two female
Attendants, step into the Carriage, which drove off immediately.

I enquired of the Host, who the Lady was, that had just departed.

'A German Baroness, Monsieur, of great rank and fortune. She has
been upon a visit to the Duchess of Longueville, as her Servants
informed me; She is going to Strasbourg, where She will find her
Husband, and then both return to their Castle in Germany.'

I resumed my journey, intending to reach Strasbourg that night.
My hopes, however were frustrated by the breaking down of my
Chaise. The accident happened in the middle of a thick Forest,
and I was not a little embarrassed as to the means of proceeding.

It was the depth of winter: The night was already closing round
us; and Strasbourg, which was the nearest Town, was still distant
from us several leagues. It seemed to me that my only
alternative to passing the night in the Forest, was to take my
Servant's Horse and ride on to Strasbourg, an undertaking at
that season very far from agreeable. However, seeing no other
resource, I was obliged to make up my mind to it. Accordingly I
communicated my design to the Postillion, telling him that I
would send People to assist him as soon as I reached Strasbourg.
I had not much confidence in his honesty; But Stephano being
well-armed, and the Driver to all appearance considerably
advanced in years, I believed I ran no danger of losing my
Baggage.

Luckily, as I then thought, an opportunity presented itself of
passing the night more agreeably than I expected. On mentioning
my design of proceeding by myself to Strasbourg, the Postillion
shook his head in disapprobation.

'It is a long way,' said He; 'You will find it a difficult matter
to arrive there without a Guide. Besides, Monsieur seems
unaccustomed to the season's severity, and 'tis possible that
unable to sustain the excessive cold. . . .'

'What use is there to present me with all these objections?' said
I, impatiently interrupting him; 'I have no other resource: I
run still greater risque of perishing with cold by passing the
night in the Forest.'

'Passing the night in the Forest?' He replied; 'Oh! by St. Denis!
We are not in quite so bad a plight as that comes to yet. If I
am not mistaken, we are scarcely five minutes walk from the
Cottage of my old Friend, Baptiste. He is a Wood-cutter, and a
very honest Fellow. I doubt not but He will shelter you for the
night with pleasure. In the meantime I can take the
saddle-Horse, ride to Strasbourg, and be back with proper people
to mend your Carriage by break of day.'

'And in the name of God,' said I, 'How could you leave me so long
in suspense? Why did you not tell me of this Cottage sooner?
What excessive stupidity!'

'I thought that perhaps Monsieur would not deign to accept. . .
.'

'Absurd! Come, come! Say no more, but conduct us without delay
to the Wood-man's Cottage.'

He obeyed, and we moved onwards: The Horses contrived with some
difficulty to drag the shattered vehicle after us. My Servant
was become almost speechless, and I began to feel the effects of
the cold myself, before we reached the wished-for Cottage. It
was a small but neat Building: As we drew near it, I rejoiced at
observing through the window the blaze of a comfortable fire.
Our Conductor knocked at the door: It was some time before any
one answered; The People within seemed in doubt whether we should
be admitted.

'Come! Come, Friend Baptiste!' cried the Driver with impatience;
'What are you about? Are you asleep? Or will you refuse a
night's lodging to a Gentleman, whose Chaise has just broken down
in the Forest?'

'Ah! is it you, honest Claude?' replied a Man's voice from
within; 'Wait a moment, and the door shall be opened.'

Soon after the bolts were drawn back. The door was unclosed, and
a Man presented himself to us with a Lamp in his hand. He gave
the Guide an hearty reception, and then addressed himself to me.

'Walk in, Monsieur; Walk in, and welcome! Excuse me for not
admitting you at first: But there are so many Rogues about this
place, that saving your presence, I suspected you to be one.'

Thus saying, He ushered me into the room, where I had observed
the fire: I was immediately placed in an Easy Chair, which stood
close to the Hearth. A Female, whom I supposed to be the Wife of
my Host, rose from her seat upon my entrance, and received me
with a slight and distant reverence. She made no answer to my
compliment, but immediately re-seating herself, continued the
work on which She had been employed. Her Husband's manners were
as friendly as hers were harsh and repulsive.

'I wish, I could lodge you more conveniently, Monsieur,' said He;
'But we cannot boast of much spare room in this hovel. However,
a chamber for yourself, and another for your Servant, I think, we
can make shift to supply. You must content yourself with sorry
fare; But to what we have, believe me, you are heartily welcome.'
----Then turning to his wife--'Why, how you sit there,
Marguerite, with as much tranquillity as if you had nothing
better to do! Stir about, Dame! Stir about! Get some supper;
Look out some sheets; Here, here; throw some logs upon the fire,
for the Gentleman seems perished with cold.'

The Wife threw her work hastily upon the Table, and proceeded to
execute his commands with every mark of unwillingness. Her
countenance had displeased me on the first moment of my examining
it. Yet upon the whole her features were handsome
unquestionably; But her skin was sallow, and her person thin and
meagre; A louring gloom over-spread her countenance; and it bore
such visible marks of rancour and ill-will, as could not escape
being noticed by the most inattentive Observer. Her every look
and action expressed discontent and impatience, and the answers
which She gave Baptiste, when He reproached her good-humouredly
for her dissatisfied air, were tart, short, and cutting. In
fine, I conceived at first sight equal disgust for her, and
prepossession in favour of her Husband, whose appearance was
calculated to inspire esteem and confidence. His countenance was
open, sincere, and friendly; his manners had all the Peasant's
honesty unaccompanied by his rudeness; His cheeks were broad,
full, and ruddy; and in the solidity of his person He seemed to
offer an ample apology for the leanness of his Wife's. From the
wrinkles on his brow I judged him to be turned of sixty; But He
bore his years well, and seemed still hearty and strong: The Wife
could not be more than thirty, but in spirits and vivacity She
was infinitely older than the Husband.

However, in spite of her unwillingness, Marguerite began to
prepare the supper, while the Wood-man conversed gaily on
different subjects. The Postillion, who had been furnished with
a bottle of spirits, was now ready to set out for Strasbourg, and
enquired, whether I had any further commands.

'For Strasbourg?' interrupted Baptiste; 'You are not going
thither tonight?'

'I beg your pardon: If I do not fetch Workmen to mend the
Chaise, How is Monsieur to proceed tomorrow?'

'That is true, as you say; I had forgotten the Chaise. Well, but
Claude; You may at least eat your supper here? That can make you
lose very little time, and Monsieur looks too kind-hearted to
send you out with an empty stomach on such a bitter cold night as
this is.'

To this I readily assented, telling the Postillion that my
reaching Strasbourg the next day an hour or two later would be
perfectly immaterial. He thanked me, and then leaving the
Cottage with Stephano, put up his Horses in the Wood-man's
Stable. Baptiste followed them to the door, and looked out with
anxiety.

' 'Tis a sharp biting wind!' said He; 'I wonder, what detains my
Boys so long! Monsieur, I shall show you two of the finest Lads,
that ever stept in shoe of leather. The eldest is three and
twenty, the second a year younger: Their Equals for sense,
courage, and activity, are not to be found within fifty miles of
Strasbourg. Would They were back again! I begin to feel uneasy
about them.'

Marguerite was at this time employed in laying the cloth.

'And are you equally anxious for the return of your Sons?' said I
to her.

'Not I!' She replied peevishly; 'They are no children of mine.'

'Come! Come, Marguerite!' said the Husband; 'Do not be out of
humour with the Gentleman for asking a simple question. Had you
not looked so cross, He would never have thought you old enough
to have a Son of three and twenty: But you see how many years
ill-temper adds to you!--Excuse my Wife's rudeness, Monsieur. A
little thing puts her out, and She is somewhat displeased at
your not thinking her to be under thirty. That is the truth, is
it not, Marguerite? You know, Monsieur, that Age is always a
ticklish subject with a Woman. Come! come! Marguerite, clear up
a little. If you have not Sons as old, you will some twenty
years hence, and I hope, that we shall live to see them just such
Lads as Jacques and Robert.'

Marguerite clasped her hands together passionately.

'God forbid!' said She; 'God forbid! If I thought it, I would
strangle them with my own hands!'

She quitted the room hastily, and went up stairs.

I could not help expressing to the Wood-man how much I pitied
him for being chained for life to a Partner of such ill-humour.

'Ah! Lord! Monsieur, Every one has his share of grievances, and
Marguerite has fallen to mine. Besides, after all She is only
cross, and not malicious. The worst is, that her affection for
two children by a former Husband makes her play the Step-mother
with my two Sons. She cannot bear the sight of them, and by her
good-will they would never set a foot within my door. But on
this point I always stand firm, and never will consent to abandon
the poor Lads to the world's mercy, as She has often solicited me
to do. In every thing else I let her have her own way; and truly
She manages a family rarely, that I must say for her.'

We were conversing in this manner, when our discourse was
interrupted by a loud halloo, which rang through the Forest.

'My Sons, I hope!' exclaimed the Wood-man, and ran to open the
door.

The halloo was repeated: We now distinguished the trampling of
Horses, and soon after a Carriage, attended by several Cavaliers
stopped at the Cottage door. One of the Horsemen enquired how
far they were still from Strasbourg. As He addressed himself to
me, I answered in the number of miles which Claude had told me;
Upon which a volley of curses was vented against the Drivers for
having lost their way. The Persons in the Coach were now
informed of the distance of Strasbourg, and also that the Horses
were so fatigued as to be incapable of proceeding further. A
Lady, who appeared to be the principal, expressed much chagrin at
this intelligence; But as there was no remedy, one of the
Attendants asked the Wood-man, whether He could furnish them with
lodging for the night.

He seemed much embarrassed, and replied in the negative; Adding
that a Spanish Gentleman and his Servant were already in
possession of the only spare apartments in his House. On hearing
this, the gallantry of my nation would not permit me to retain
those accommodations, of which a Female was in want. I instantly
signified to the Wood-man, that I transferred my right to the
Lady; He made some objections; But I overruled them, and
hastening to the Carriage, opened the door, and assisted the Lady
to descend. I immediately recognized her for the same person
whom I had seen at the Inn at Luneville. I took an opportunity
of asking one of her Attendants, what was her name?

'The Baroness Lindenberg,' was the answer.

I could not but remark how different a reception our Host had
given these newcomers and myself. His reluctance to admit them
was visibly expressed on his countenance, and He prevailed on
himself with difficulty to tell the Lady that She was welcome.
I conducted her into the House, and placed her in the
armed-chair, which I had just quitted. She thanked me very
graciously; and made a thousand apologies for putting me to an
inconvenience. Suddenly the Wood-man's countenance cleared up.

'At last I have arranged it!' said He, interrupting her excuses;
'I can lodge you and your suite, Madam, and you will not be under
the necessity of making this Gentleman suffer for his politeness.

We have two spare chambers, one for the Lady, the other,
Monsieur, for you: My Wife shall give up hers to the two
Waiting-women; As for the Men-servants, they must content
themselves with passing the night in a large Barn, which stands
at a few yards distance from the House. There they shall have a
blazing fire, and as good a supper as we can make shift to give
them.'

After several expressions of gratitude on the Lady's part, and
opposition on mine to Marguerite's giving up her bed, this
arrangement was agreed to. As the Room was small, the Baroness
immediately dismissed her Male Domestics: Baptiste was on the
point of conducting them to the Barn which He had mentioned when
two young Men appeared at the door of the Cottage.

'Hell and Furies!' exclaimed the first starting back; 'Robert,
the House is filled with Strangers!'

'Ha! There are my Sons!' cried our Host. 'Why, Jacques! Robert!
whither are you running, Boys? There is room enough still for
you.'

Upon this assurance the Youths returned. The Father presented
them to the Baroness and myself: After which He withdrew with
our Domestics, while at the request of the two Waiting-women,
Marguerite conducted them to the room designed for their
Mistress.

The two new-comers were tall, stout, well-made young Men,
hard-featured, and very much sun-burnt. They paid their
compliments to us in few words, and acknowledged Claude, who now
entered the room, as an old acquaintance. They then threw aside
their cloaks in which they were wrapped up, took off a leathern
belt to which a large Cutlass was suspended, and each drawing a
brace of pistols from his girdle laid them upon a shelf.

'You travel well-armed,' said I.

'True, Monsieur;' replied Robert. 'We left Strasbourg late this
Evening, and 'tis necessary to take precautions at passing
through this Forest after dark. It does not bear a good repute,
I promise you.'

'How?' said the Baroness; 'Are there Robbers hereabout?'

'So it is said, Madame; For my own part, I have travelled through
the wood at all hours, and never met with one of them.'

Here Marguerite returned. Her Stepsons drew her to the other
end of the room, and whispered her for some minutes. By the
looks which they cast towards us at intervals, I conjectured them
to be enquiring our business in the Cottage.

In the meanwhile the Baroness expressed her apprehensions, that
her Husband would be suffering much anxiety upon her account.
She had intended to send on one of her Servants to inform the
Baron of her delay; But the account which the young Men gave of
the Forest rendered this plan impracticable. Claude relieved
her from her embarrassment. He informed her that He was under
the necessity of reaching Strasbourg that night, and that would
She trust him with a letter, She might depend upon its being
safely delivered.

'And how comes it,' said I, 'that you are under no apprehension
of meeting these Robbers?'

'Alas! Monsieur, a poor Man with a large family must not lose
certain profit because 'tis attended with a little danger, and
perhaps my Lord the Baron may give me a trifle for my pains.
Besides, I have nothing to lose except my life, and that will not
be worth the Robbers taking.'

I thought his arguments bad, and advised his waiting till the
Morning; But as the Baroness did not second me, I was obliged to
give up the point. The Baroness Lindenberg, as I found
afterwards, had long been accustomed to sacrifice the interests
of others to her own, and her wish to send Claude to Strasbourg
blinded her to the danger of the undertaking. Accordingly, it
was resolved that He should set out without delay. The Baroness
wrote her letter to her Husband, and I sent a few lines to my
Banker, apprising him that I should not be at Strasbourg till the
next day. Claude took our letters, and left the Cottage.

The Lady declared herself much fatigued by her journey: Besides
having come from some distance, the Drivers had contrived to lose
their way in the Forest. She now addressed herself to
Marguerite, desiring to be shown to her chamber, and permitted to
take half an hour's repose. One of the Waiting-women was
immediately summoned; She appeared with a light, and the Baroness
followed her up stairs. The cloth was spreading in the chamber
where I was, and Marguerite soon gave me to understand that I
was in her way. Her hints were too broad to be easily mistaken;
I therefore desired one of the young Men to conduct me to the
chamber where I was to sleep, and where I could remain till
supper was ready.

'Which chamber is it, Mother?' said Robert.

'The One with green hangings,' She replied; 'I have just been at
the trouble of getting it ready, and have put fresh sheets upon
the Bed; If the Gentleman chooses to lollop and lounge upon it,
He may make it again himself for me.'

'You are out of humour, Mother, but that is no novelty. Have the
goodness to follow me, Monsieur.'

He opened the door, and advanced towards a narrow staircase.

'You have got no light!' said Marguerite; 'Is it your own neck or
the Gentleman's that you have a mind to break?'

She crossed by me, and put a candle into Robert's hand, having
received which, He began to ascend the staircase. Jacques was
employed in laying the cloth, and his back was turned towards me.

Marguerite seized the moment, when we were unobserved. She
caught my hand, and pressed it strongly.

'Look at the Sheets!' said She as She passed me, and immediately
resumed her former occupation.

Startled by the abruptness of her action, I remained as if
petrified. Robert's voice, desiring me to follow him, recalled
me to myself. I ascended the staircase. My conductor ushered
me into a chamber, where an excellent wood-fire was blazing upon
the hearth. He placed the light upon the Table, enquired whether
I had any further commands, and on my replying in the negative,
He left me to myself. You may be certain that the moment when I
found myself alone was that on which I complied with Marguerite's
injunction. I took the candle, hastily approached the Bed, and
turned down the Coverture. What was my astonishment, my horror,
at finding the sheets crimsoned with blood!

At that moment a thousand confused ideas passed before my
imagination. The Robbers who infested the Wood, Marguerite's
exclamation respecting her Children, the arms and appearance of
the two young Men, and the various Anecdotes which I had heard
related, respecting the secret correspondence which frequently
exists between Banditti and Postillions, all these circumstances
flashed upon my mind, and inspired me with doubt and
apprehension. I ruminated on the most probable means of
ascertaining the truth of my conjectures. Suddenly I was aware
of Someone below pacing hastily backwards and forwards. Every
thing now appeared to me an object of suspicion. With precaution
I drew near the window, which, as the room had been long shut up,
was left open in spite of the cold. I ventured to look out. The
beams of the Moon permitted me to distinguish a Man, whom I had
no difficulty to recognize for my Host. I watched his movements.

He walked swiftly, then stopped, and seemed to listen: He
stamped upon the ground, and beat his stomach with his arms as if
to guard himself from the inclemency of the season. At the least
noise, if a voice was heard in the lower part of the House, if a
Bat flitted past him, or the wind rattled amidst the leafless
boughs, He started, and looked round with anxiety.

'Plague take him!' said He at length with impatience; 'What can
He be about!'

He spoke in a low voice; but as He was just below my window, I
had no difficulty to distinguish his words.

I now heard the steps of one approaching. Baptiste went towards
the sound; He joined a man, whom his low stature and the Horn
suspended from his neck, declared to be no other than my faithful
Claude, whom I had supposed to be already on his way to
Strasbourg. Expecting their discourse to throw some light upon
my situation, I hastened to put myself in a condition to hear it
with safety. For this purpose I extinguished the candle, which
stood upon a table near the Bed: The flame of the fire was not
strong enough to betray me, and I immediately resumed my place at
the window.

The objects of my curiosity had stationed themselves directly
under it. I suppose that during my momentary absence the
Wood-man had been blaming Claude for tardiness, since when I
returned to the window, the latter was endeavouring to excuse his
fault.

'However,' added He, 'my diligence at present shall make up for
my past delay.'

'On that condition,' answered Baptiste, 'I shall readily forgive
you. But in truth as you share equally with us in our prizes,
your own interest will make you use all possible diligence.
'Twould be a shame to let such a noble booty escape us! You say,
that this Spaniard is rich?'

'His Servant boasted at the Inn, that the effects in his Chaise
were worth above two thousand Pistoles.'

Oh! how I cursed Stephano's imprudent vanity!

'And I have been told,' continued the Postillion, 'that this
Baroness carries about her a casket of jewels of immense value.'

'May be so, but I had rather She had stayed away. The Spaniard
was a secure prey. The Boys and myself could easily have
mastered him and his Servant, and then the two thousand Pistoles
would have been shared between us four. Now we must let in the
Band for a share, and perhaps the whole Covey may escape us.
Should our Friends have betaken themselves to their different
posts before you reach the Cavern, all will be lost. The Lady's
Attendants are too numerous for us to overpower them: Unless
our Associates arrive in time, we must needs let these Travellers
set out tomorrow without damage or hurt.'

' 'Tis plaguy unlucky that my Comrades who drove the Coach
should be those unacquainted with our Confederacy! But never
fear, Friend Baptiste. An hour will bring me to the Cavern; It
is now but ten o'clock, and by twelve you may expect the arrival
of the Band. By the bye, take care of your Wife: You know how
strong is her repugnance to our mode of life, and She may find
means to give information to the Lady's Servants of our design.'

'Oh! I am secure of her silence; She is too much afraid of me,
and fond of her children, to dare to betray my secret. Besides,
Jacques and Robert keep a strict eye over her, and She is not
permitted to set a foot out of the Cottage. The Servants are
safely lodged in the Barn; I shall endeavour to keep all quiet
till the arrival of our Friends. Were I assured of your finding
them, the Strangers should be dispatched this instant; But as it
is possible for you to miss the Banditti, I am fearful of being
summoned to produce them by their Domestics in the Morning.'

'And suppose either of the Travellers should discover your
design?'

'Then we must poignard those in our power, and take our chance
about mastering the rest. However, to avoid running such a
risque, hasten to the Cavern: The Banditti never leave it before
eleven, and if you use diligence, you may reach it in time to
stop them.'

'Tell Robert that I have taken his Horse: My own has broken his
bridle, and escaped into the Wood. What is the watch-word?'

'The reward of Courage.'

' 'Tis sufficient. I hasten to the Cavern.'

'And I to rejoin my Guests, lest my absence should create
suspicion. Farewell, and be diligent.'

These worthy Associates now separated: The One bent his course
towards the Stable, while the Other returned to the House.

You may judge, what must have been my feelings during this
conversation, of which I lost not a single syllable. I dared not
trust myself to my reflections, nor did any means present itself
to escape the dangers which threatened me. Resistance, I knew to
be vain; I was unarmed, and a single Man against Three: However,
I resolved at least to sell my life as dearly as I could.
Dreading lest Baptiste should perceive my absence, and suspect me
to have overheard the message with which Claude was dispatched, I
hastily relighted my candle and quitted the chamber. On
descending, I found the Table spread for six Persons. The
Baroness sat by the fireside: Marguerite was employed in
dressing a sallad, and her Step-sons were whispering together at
the further end of the room. Baptiste having the round of the
Garden to make, ere He could reach the Cottage door, was not yet
arrived. I seated myself quietly opposite to the Baroness.

A glance upon Marguerite told her that her hint had not been
thrown away upon me. How different did She now appear to me!
What before seemed gloom and sullenness, I now found to be
disgust at her Associates, and compassion for my danger. I
looked up to her as to my only resource; Yet knowing her to be
watched by her Husband with a suspicious eye, I could place but
little reliance on the exertions of her good-will.

In spite of all my endeavours to conceal it, my agitation was but
too visibly expressed upon my countenance. I was pale, and both
my words and actions were disordered and embarrassed. The young
Men observed this, and enquired the cause. I attributed it to
excess of fatigue, and the violent effect produced on me by the
severity of the season. Whether they believed me or not, I will
not pretend to say: They at least ceased to embarrass me with
their questions. I strove to divert my attention from the perils
which surrounded me, by conversing on different subjects with the
Baroness. I talked of Germany, declaring my intention of
visiting it immediately: God knows, that I little thought at
that moment of ever seeing it! She replied to me with great ease
and politeness, professed that the pleasure of making my
acquaintance amply compensated for the delay in her journey, and
gave me a pressing invitation to make some stay at the Castle of
Lindenberg. As She spoke thus, the Youths exchanged a malicious
smile, which declared that She would be fortunate if She ever
reached that Castle herself. This action did not escape me; But
I concealed the emotion which it excited in my breast. I
continued to converse with the Lady; But my discourse was so
frequently incoherent, that as She has since informed me, She
began to doubt whether I was in my right senses. The fact was,
that while my conversation turned upon one subject, my thoughts
were entirely occupied by another. I meditated upon the means of
quitting the Cottage, finding my way to the Barn, and giving the
Domestics information of our Host's designs. I was soon
convinced, how impracticable was the attempt. Jacques and Robert
watched my every movement with an attentive eye, and I was
obliged to abandon the idea. All my hopes now rested upon
Claude's not finding the Banditti: In that case, according to
what I had overheard, we should be permitted to depart unhurt.

I shuddered involuntarily as Baptiste entered the room. He made
many apologies for his long absence, but 'He had been detained by
affairs impossible to be delayed.' He then entreated permission
for his family to sup at the same table with us, without which,
respect would not authorize his taking such a liberty. Oh! how
in my heart I cursed the Hypocrite! How I loathed his presence,
who was on the point of depriving me of an existence, at that
time infinitely dear! I had every reason to be satisfied with
life; I had youth, wealth, rank, and education; and the fairest
prospects presented themselves before me. I saw those prospects
on the point of closing in the most horrible manner: Yet was I
obliged to dissimulate, and to receive with a semblance of
gratitude the false civilities of him who held the dagger to my
bosom.

The permission which our Host demanded, was easily obtained. We
seated ourselves at the Table. The Baroness and myself occupied
one side: The Sons were opposite to us with their backs to the
door. Baptiste took his seat by the Baroness at the upper end,
and the place next to him was left for his Wife. She soon
entered the room, and placed before us a plain but comfortable
Peasant's repast. Our Host thought it necessary to apologize for
the poorness of the supper: 'He had not been apprized of our
coming; He could only offer us such fare as had been intended for
his own family:'

'But,' added He, 'should any accident detain my noble Guests
longer than they at present intend, I hope to give them a better
treatment.'

The Villain! I well knew the accident to which He alluded; I
shuddered at the treatment which He taught us to expect!

My Companion in danger seemed entirely to have got rid of her
chagrin at being delayed. She laughed, and conversed with the
family with infinite gaiety. I strove but in vain to follow her
example. My spirits were evidently forced, and the constraint
which I put upon myself escaped not Baptiste's observation.

'Come, come, Monsieur, cheer up!' said He; 'You seem not quite
recovered from your fatigue. To raise your spirits, what say you
to a glass of excellent old wine which was left me by my Father?
God rest his soul, He is in a better world! I seldom produce
this wine; But as I am not honoured with such Guests every day,
this is an occasion which deserves a Bottle.'

He then gave his Wife a Key, and instructed her where to find the
wine of which He spoke. She seemed by no means pleased with the
commission; She took the Key with an embarrassed air, and
hesitated to quit the Table.

'Did you hear me?' said Baptiste in an angry tone.

Marguerite darted upon him a look of mingled anger and fear, and
left the chamber. His eyes followed her suspiciously, till She
had closed the door.

She soon returned with a bottle sealed with yellow wax. She
placed it upon the table, and gave the Key back to her Husband.
I suspected that this liquor was not presented to us without
design, and I watched Marguerite's movements with inquietude.
She was employed in rinsing some small horn Goblets. As She
placed them before Baptiste, She saw that my eye was fixed upon
her; and at the moment when She thought herself unobserved by the
Banditti, She motioned to me with her head not to taste the
liquor, She then resumed her place.

In the mean while our Host had drawn the Cork, and filling two of
the Goblets, offered them to the Lady and myself. She at first
made some objections, but the instances of Baptiste were so
urgent, that She was obliged to comply. Fearing to excite
suspicion, I hesitated not to take the Goblet presented to me.
By its smell and colour I guessed it to be Champagne; But some
grains of powder floating upon the top convinced me that it was
not unadulterated. However, I dared not to express my repugnance
to drinking it; I lifted it to my lips, and seemed to be
swallowing it: Suddenly starting from my chair, I made the best
of my way towards a Vase of water at some distance, in which
Marguerite had been rinsing the Goblets. I pretended to spit out
the wine with disgust, and took an opportunity unperceived of
emptying the liquor into the Vase.

The Banditti seemed alarmed at my action. Jacques half rose from
his chair, put his hand into his bosom, and I discovered the haft
of a dagger. I returned to my seat with tranquillity, and
affected not to have observed their confusion.

'You have not suited my taste, honest Friend,' said I, addressing
myself to Baptiste. 'I never can drink Champagne without its
producing a violent illness. I swallowed a few mouthfuls ere I
was aware of its quality, and fear that I shall suffer for my
imprudence.'

Baptiste and Jacques exchanged looks of distrust.

'Perhaps,' said Robert, 'the smell may be disagreeable to you.'

He quitted his chair, and removed the Goblet. I observed, that
He examined, whether it was nearly empty.

'He must have drank sufficient,' said He to his Brother in a low
voice, while He reseated himself.

Marguerite looked apprehensive, that I had tasted the liquor: A
glance from my eye reassured her.

I waited with anxiety for the effects which the Beverage would
produce upon the Lady. I doubted not but the grains which I had
observed were poisonous, and lamented that it had been
impossible for me to warn her of the danger. But a few minutes
had elapsed before I perceived her eyes grow heavy; Her head
sank upon her shoulder, and She fell into a deep sleep. I
affected not to attend to this circumstance, and continued my
conversation with Baptiste, with all the outward gaiety in my
power to assume. But He no longer answered me without
constraint. He eyed me with distrust and astonishment, and I saw
that the Banditti were frequently whispering among themselves.
My situation became every moment more painful; I sustained the
character of confidence with a worse grace than ever. Equally
afraid of the arrival of their Accomplices and of their
suspecting my knowledge of their designs, I knew not how to
dissipate the distrust which the Banditti evidently entertained
for me. In this new dilemma the friendly Marguerite again
assisted me. She passed behind the Chairs of her Stepsons,
stopped for a moment opposite to me, closed her eyes, and
reclined her head upon her shoulder. This hint immediately
dispelled my incertitude. It told me, that I ought to imitate
the Baroness, and pretend that the liquor had taken its full
effect upon me. I did so, and in a few minutes seemed perfectly
overcome with slumber.

'So!' cried Baptiste, as I fell back in my chair; 'At last He
sleeps! I began to think that He had scented our design, and
that we should have been forced to dispatch him at all events.'

'And why not dispatch him at all events?' enquired the ferocious
Jacques. 'Why leave him the possibility of betraying our secret?
Marguerite, give me one of my Pistols: A single touch of the
trigger will finish him at once.'

'And supposing,' rejoined the Father, 'Supposing that our Friends
should not arrive tonight, a pretty figure we should make when
the Servants enquire for him in the Morning! No, no, Jacques; We
must wait for our Associates. If they join us, we are strong
enough to dispatch the Domestics as well as their Masters, and
the booty is our own; If Claude does not find the Troop, we must
take patience, and suffer the prey to slip through our fingers.
Ah! Boys, Boys, had you arrived but five minutes sooner, the
Spaniard would have been done for, and two thousand Pistoles our
own. But you are always out of the way when you are most wanted.

You are the most unlucky Rogues!'

'Well, well, Father!' answered Jacques; 'Had you been of my mind,
all would have been over by this time. You, Robert, Claude, and
myself, why the Strangers were but double the number, and I
warrant you we might have mastered them. However, Claude is
gone; 'Tis too late to think of it now. We must wait patiently
for the arrival of the Gang; and if the Travellers escape us
tonight, we must take care to waylay them tomorrow.'

'True! True!' said Baptiste; 'Marguerite, have you given the
sleeping-draught to the Waiting-women?'

She replied in the affirmative.

'All then is safe. Come, come, Boys; Whatever falls out, we have
no reason to complain of this adventure. We run no danger, may
gain much, and can lose nothing.'

At this moment I heard a trampling of Horses. Oh! how dreadful
was the sound to my ears. A cold sweat flowed down my forehead,
and I felt all the terrors of impending death. I was by no means
reassured by hearing the compassionate Marguerite exclaim in the
accents of despair,

'Almighty God! They are lost!'

Luckily the Wood-man and his Sons were too much occupied by the
arrival of their Associates to attend to me, or the violence of
my agitation would have convinced them that my sleep was
feigned.

'Open! Open!' exclaimed several voices on the outside of the
Cottage.

'Yes! Yes!' cried Baptiste joyfully; 'They are our Friends sure
enough! Now then our booty is certain. Away! Lads, Away! Lead
them to the Barn; You know what is to be done there.'

Robert hastened to open the door of the Cottage.

'But first,' said Jacques, taking up his arms; 'first let me
dispatch these Sleepers.'

'No, no, no!' replied his Father; 'Go you to the Barn, where your
presence is wanted. Leave me to take care of these and the Women
above.'

Jacques obeyed, and followed his Brother. They seemed to
converse with the New-Comers for a few minutes: After which I
heard the Robbers dismount, and as I conjectured, bend their
course towards the Barn.

'So! That is wisely done!' muttered Baptiste; 'They have quitted
their Horses, that They may fall upon the Strangers by surprise.
Good! Good! and now to business.'

I heard him approach a small Cupboard which was fixed up in a
distant part of the room, and unlock it. At this moment I felt
myself shaken gently.

'Now! Now!' whispered Marguerite.

I opened my eyes. Baptiste stood with his back towards me. No
one else was in the room save Marguerite and the sleeping Lady.
The Villain had taken a dagger from the Cupboard and seemed
examining whether it was sufficiently sharp. I had neglected to
furnish myself with arms; But I perceived this to be my only
chance of escaping, and resolved not to lose the opportunity. I
sprang from my seat, darted suddenly upon Baptiste, and clasping
my hands round his throat, pressed it so forcibly as to prevent
his uttering a single cry. You may remember that I was
remarkable at Salamanca for the power of my arm: It now rendered
me an essential service. Surprised, terrified, and breathless,
the Villain was by no means an equal Antagonist. I threw him
upon the ground; I grasped him still tighter; and while I fixed
him without motion upon the floor, Marguerite, wresting the
dagger from his hand, plunged it repeatedly in his heart till He
expired.

No sooner was this horrible but necessary act perpetrated than
Marguerite called on me to follow her.

'Flight is our only refuge!' said She; 'Quick! Quick! Away!'

I hesitated not to obey her: but unwilling to leave the Baroness
a victim to the vengeance of the Robbers, I raised her in my arms
still sleeping, and hastened after Marguerite. The Horses of the
Banditti were fastened near the door: My Conductress sprang upon
one of them. I followed her example, placed the Baroness before
me, and spurred on my Horse. Our only hope was to reach
Strasbourg, which was much nearer than the perfidious Claude had
assured me. Marguerite was well acquainted with the road, and
galloped on before me. We were obliged to pass by the Barn,
where the Robbers were slaughtering our Domestics. The door was
open: We distinguished the shrieks of the dying and imprecations
of the Murderers! What I felt at that moment language is unable
to describe!

Jacques heard the trampling of our Horses as we rushed by the
Barn. He flew to the Door with a burning Torch in his hand, and
easily recognised the Fugitives.

'Betrayed! Betrayed!' He shouted to his Companions.

Instantly they left their bloody work, and hastened to regain
their Horses. We heard no more. I buried my spurs in the sides
of my Courser, and Marguerite goaded on hers with the poignard,
which had already rendered us such good service. We flew like
lightning, and gained the open plains. Already was Strasbourg's
Steeple in sight, when we heard the Robbers pursuing us.
Marguerite looked back, and distinguished our followers
descending a small Hill at no great distance. It was in vain
that we urged on our Horses; The noise approached nearer with
every moment.

'We are lost!' She exclaimed; 'The Villains gain upon us!'

'On! On!' replied I; 'I hear the trampling of Horses coming from
the Town.'

We redoubled our exertions, and were soon aware of a numerous
band of Cavaliers, who came towards us at full speed. They were
on the point of passing us.

'Stay! Stay!' shrieked Marguerite; 'Save us! For God's sake,
save us!'

The Foremost, who seemed to act as Guide, immediately reined in
his Steed.

' 'Tis She! 'Tis She!' exclaimed He, springing upon the ground;
'Stop, my Lord, stop! They are safe! 'Tis my Mother!'

At the same moment Marguerite threw herself from her Horse,
clasped him in her arms, and covered him with Kisses. The other
Cavaliers stopped at the exclamation.

'The Baroness Lindenberg?' cried another of the Strangers
eagerly; 'Where is She? Is She not with you?'

He stopped on beholding her lying senseless in my arms. Hastily
He caught her from me. The profound sleep in which She was
plunged made him at first tremble for her life; but the beating
of her heart soon reassured him.

'God be thanked!' said He; 'She has escaped unhurt.'

I interrupted his joy by pointing out the Brigands, who continued
to approach. No sooner had I mentioned them than the greatest
part of the Company, which appeared to be chiefly composed of
soldiers, hastened forward to meet them. The Villains stayed not
to receive their attack: Perceiving their danger they turned the
heads of their Horses, and fled into the wood, whither they were
followed by our Preservers. In the mean while the Stranger, whom
I guessed to be the Baron Lindenberg, after thanking me for my
care of his Lady, proposed our returning with all speed to the
Town. The Baroness, on whom the effects of the opiate had not
ceased to operate, was placed before him; Marguerite and her Son
remounted their Horses; the Baron's Domestics followed, and we
soon arrived at the Inn, where He had taken his apartments.

This was at the Austrian Eagle, where my Banker, whom before my
quitting Paris I had apprised of my intention to visit
Strasbourg, had prepared Lodgings for me. I rejoiced at this
circumstance. It gave me an opportunity of cultivating the
Baron's acquaintance, which I foresaw would be of use to me in
Germany. Immediately upon our arrival the Lady was conveyed to
bed; A Physician was sent for, who prescribed a medicine likely
to counteract the effects of the sleepy potion, and after it had
been poured down her throat, She was committed to the care of the
Hostess. The Baron then addressed himself to me, and entreated
me to recount the particulars of this adventure. I complied with
his request instantaneously; for in pain respecting Stephano's
fate, whom I had been compelled to abandon to the cruelty of the
Banditti, I found it impossible for me to repose, till I had some
news of him. I received but too soon the intelligence, that my
trusty Servant had perished. The Soldiers who had pursued the
Brigands returned while I was employed in relating my adventure
to the Baron. By their account I found that the Robbers had been
overtaken: Guilt and true courage are incompatible; They had
thrown themselves at the feet of their Pursuers, had surrendered
themselves without striking a blow, had discovered their secret
retreat, made known their signals by which the rest of the Gang
might be seized, and in short had betrayed ever mark of cowardice
and baseness. By this means the whole of the Band, consisting of
near sixty persons, had been made Prisoners, bound, and conducted
to Strasbourg. Some of the Soldiers hastened to the Cottage, One
of the Banditti serving them as Guide. Their first visit was to
the fatal Barn, where they were fortunate enough to find two of
the Baron's Servants still alive, though desperately wounded.
The rest had expired beneath the swords of the Robbers, and of
these my unhappy Stephano was one.

Alarmed at our escape, the Robbers in their haste to overtake
us, had neglected to visit the Cottage. In consequence, the
Soldiers found the two Waiting-women unhurt, and buried in the
same death-like slumber which had overpowered their Mistress.
There was nobody else found in the Cottage, except a child not
above four years old, which the Soldiers brought away with them.
We were busying ourselves with conjectures respecting the birth
of this little unfortunate, when Marguerite rushed into the room
with the Baby in her arms. She fell at the feet of the Officer
who was making us this report, and blessed him a thousand times
for the preservation of her Child.

When the first burst of maternal tenderness was over, I besought
her to declare, by what means She had been united to a Man whose
principles seemed so totally discordant with her own. She bent
her eyes downwards, and wiped a few tears from her cheek.

'Gentlemen,' said She after a silence of some minutes, 'I would
request a favour of you: You have a right to know on whom you
confer an obligation. I will not therefore stifle a confession
which covers me with shame; But permit me to comprise it in as
few words as possible.

'I was born in Strasbourg of respectable Parents; Their names I
must at present conceal: My Father still lives, and deserves not
to be involved in my infamy; If you grant my request, you shall
be informed of my family name. A Villain made himself Master of
my affections, and to follow him I quitted my Father's House.
Yet though my passions overpowered my virtue, I sank not into
that degeneracy of vice, but too commonly the lot of Women who
make the first false step. I loved my Seducer; dearly loved him!
I was true to his Bed; this Baby, and the Youth who warned you,
my Lord Baron, of your Lady's danger, are the pledges of our
affection. Even at this moment I lament his loss, though 'tis to
him that I owe all the miseries of my existence.

'He was of noble birth, but He had squandered away his paternal
inheritance. His Relations considered him as a disgrace to their
name, and utterly discarded him. His excesses drew upon him the
indignation of the Police. He was obliged to fly from
Strasbourg, and saw no other resource from beggary than an union
with the Banditti who infested the neighbouring Forest, and
whose Troop was chiefly composed of Young Men of family in the
same predicament with himself. I was determined not to forsake
him. I followed him to the Cavern of the Brigands, and shared
with him the misery inseparable from a life of pillage. But
though I was aware that our existence was supported by plunder, I
knew not all the horrible circumstances attached to my Lover's
profession. These He concealed from me with the utmost care; He
was conscious that my sentiments were not sufficiently depraved
to look without horror upon assassination: He supposed, and with
justice, that I should fly with detestation from the embraces of
a Murderer. Eight years of possession had not abated his love
for me; and He cautiously removed from my knowledge every
circumstance, which might lead me to suspect the crimes in which
He but too often participated. He succeeded perfectly: It was
not till after my Seducer's death, that I discovered his hands to
have been stained with the blood of innocence.

'One fatal night He was brought back to the Cavern covered with
wounds: He received them in attacking an English Traveller, whom
his Companions immediately sacrificed to their resentment. He
had only time to entreat my pardon for all the sorrows which He
had caused me: He pressed my hand to his lips, and expired. My
grief was inexpressible. As soon as its violence abated, I
resolved to return to Strasbourg, to throw myself with my two
Children at my Father's feet, and implore his forgiveness, though
I little hoped to obtain it. What was my consternation when
informed that no one entrusted with the secret of their retreat
was ever permitted to quit the troop of the Banditti; That I must
give up all hopes of ever rejoining society, and consent
instantly to accepting one of their Band for my Husband! My
prayers and remonstrances were vain. They cast lots to decide to
whose possession I should fall; I became the property of the
infamous Baptiste. A Robber, who had once been a Monk,
pronounced over us a burlesque rather than a religious Ceremony:
I and my Children were delivered into the hands of my new
Husband, and He conveyed us immediately to his home.

'He assured me that He had long entertained for me the most
ardent regard; But that Friendship for my deceased Lover had
obliged him to stifle his desires. He endeavoured to reconcile
me to my fate, and for some time treated me with respect and
gentleness: At length finding that my aversion rather increased
than diminished, He obtained those favours by violence, which I
persisted to refuse him. No resource remained for me but to bear
my sorrows with patience; I was conscious that I deserved them
but too well. Flight was forbidden: My Children were in the
power of Baptiste, and He had sworn that if I attempted to
escape, their lives should pay for it. I had had too many
opportunities of witnessing the barbarity of his nature to doubt
his fulfilling his oath to the very letter. Sad experience had
convinced me of the horrors of my situation: My first Lover had
carefully concealed them from me; Baptiste rather rejoiced in
opening my eyes to the cruelties of his profession, and strove to
familiarise me with blood and slaughter.

'My nature was licentious and warm, but not cruel: My conduct had
been imprudent, but my heart was not unprincipled. Judge then
what I must have felt at being a continual witness of crimes the
most horrible and revolting! Judge how I must have grieved at
being united to a Man who received the unsuspecting Guest with
an air of openness and hospitality, at the very moment that He
meditated his destruction. Chagrin and discontent preyed upon my
constitution: The few charms bestowed on me by nature withered
away, and the dejection of my countenance denoted the sufferings
of my heart. I was tempted a thousand times to put an end to my
existence; But the remembrance of my Children held my hand. I
trembled to leave my dear Boys in my Tyrant's power, and trembled
yet more for their virtue than their lives. The Second was still
too young to benefit by my instructions; But in the heart of my
Eldest I laboured unceasingly to plant those principles, which
might enable him to avoid the crimes of his Parents. He listened
to me with docility, or rather with eagerness. Even at his early
age, He showed that He was not calculated for the society of
Villains; and the only comfort which I enjoyed among my sorrows,
was to witness the dawning virtues of my Theodore.

'Such was my situation, when the perfidy of Don Alphonso's
postillion conducted him to the Cottage. His youth, air, and
manners interested me most forcibly in his behalf. The absence
of my Husband's Sons gave me an opportunity which I had long
wished to find, and I resolved to risque every thing to preserve
the Stranger. The vigilance of Baptiste prevented me from
warning Don Alphonso of his danger: I knew that my betraying the
secret would be immediately punished with death; and however
embittered was my life by calamities, I wanted courage to
sacrifice it for the sake of preserving that of another Person.
My only hope rested upon procuring succour from Strasbourg: At
this I resolved to try; and should an opportunity offer of
warning Don Alphonso of his danger unobserved, I was determined
to seize it with avidity. By Baptiste's orders I went upstairs
to make the Stranger's Bed: I spread upon it Sheets in which a
Traveller had been murdered but a few nights before, and which
still were stained with blood. I hoped that these marks would
not escape the vigilance of our Guest, and that He would collect
from them the designs of my perfidious Husband. Neither was this
the only step which I took to preserve the Stranger. Theodore
was confined to his bed by illness. I stole into his room
unobserved by my Tyrant, communicated to him my project, and He
entered into it with eagerness. He rose in spite of his malady,
and dressed himself with all speed. I fastened one of the Sheets
round his arms, and lowered him from the Window. He flew to the
Stable, took Claude's Horse, and hastened to Strasbourg. Had He
been accosted by the Banditti, He was to have declared himself
sent upon a message by Baptiste, but fortunately He reached the
Town without meeting any obstacle. Immediately upon his arrival
at Strasbourg, He entreated assistance from the Magistrature:
His Story passed from mouth to mouth, and at length came to the
knowledge of my Lord the Baron. Anxious for the safety of his
Lady, whom He knew would be upon the road that Evening, it struck
him that She might have fallen into the power of the Robbers. He
accompanied Theodore who guided the Soldiers towards the Cottage,
and arrived just in time to save us from falling once more into
the hands of our Enemies.'

Here I interrupted Marguerite to enquire why the sleepy potion
had been presented to me. She said that Baptiste supposed me to
have arms about me, and wished to incapacitate me from making
resistance: It was a precaution which He always took, since as
the Travellers had no hopes of escaping, Despair would have
incited them to sell their lives dearly.

The Baron then desired Marguerite to inform him, what were her
present plans. I joined him in declaring my readiness to show my
gratitude to her for the preservation of my life.

'Disgusted with a world,' She replied, 'in which I have met with
nothing but misfortunes, my only wish is to retire into a
Convent. But first I must provide for my Children. I find that
my Mother is no more, probably driven to an untimely grave by my
desertion! My Father is still living; He is not an hard Man;
Perhaps, Gentlemen, in spite of my ingratitude and imprudence,
your intercessions may induce him to forgive me, and to take
charge of his unfortunate Grand-sons. If you obtain this boon
for me, you will repay my services a thousand-fold!'

Both the Baron and myself assured Marguerite, that we would spare
no pains to obtain her pardon: and that even should her Father be
inflexible, She need be under no apprehensions respecting the
fate of her Children. I engaged myself to provide for Theodore,
and the Baron promised to take the youngest under his protection.

The grateful Mother thanked us with tears for what She called
generosity, but which in fact was no more than a proper sense of
our obligations to her. She then left the room to put her little
Boy to bed, whom fatigue and sleep had compleatly overpowered.

The Baroness, on recovering and being informed from what dangers
I had rescued her, set no bounds to the expressions of her
gratitude. She was joined so warmly by her Husband in pressing
me to accompany them to their Castle in Bavaria, that I found it
impossible to resist their entreaties. During a week which we
passed at Strasbourg, the interests of Marguerite were not
forgotten: In our application to her Father we succeeded as amply
as we could wish. The good old Man had lost his Wife: He had no
Children but this unfortunate Daughter, of whom He had received
no news for almost fourteen years. He was surrounded by distant
Relations, who waited with impatience for his decease in order to
get possession of his money. When therefore Marguerite appeared
again so unexpectedly, He considered her as a gift from heaven:
He received her and her Children with open arms, and insisted
upon their establishing themselves in his House without delay.
The disappointed Cousins were obliged to give place. The old Man
would not hear of his Daughter's retiring into a Convent: He
said that She was too necessary to his happiness, and She was
easily persuaded to relinquish her design. But no persuasions
could induce Theodore to give up the plan which I had at first
marked out for him. He had attached himself to me most
sincerely during my stay at Strasbourg; and when I was on the
point of leaving it, He besought me with tears to take him into
my service: He set forth all his little talents in the most
favourable colours, and tried to convince me that I should find
him of infinite use to me upon the road. I was unwilling to
charge myself with a Lad but scarcely turned of thirteen, whom I
knew could only be a burthen to me: However, I could not resist
the entreaties of this affectionate Youth, who in fact possessed
a thousand estimable qualities. With some difficulty He
persuaded his relations to let him follow me, and that permission
once obtained, He was dubbed with the title of my Page. Having
passed a week at Strasbourg, Theodore and myself set out for
Bavaria in company with the Baron and his Lady. These Latter as
well as myself had forced Marguerite to accept several presents
of value, both for herself, and her youngest Son: On leaving
her, I promised his Mother faithfully that I would restore
Theodore to her within the year.

I have related this adventure at length, Lorenzo, that you might
understand the means by which 'The Adventurer, Alphonso
d'Alvarada got introduced into the Castle of Lindenberg.' Judge
from this specimen how much faith should be given to your Aunt's
assertions!

Part IV Tomorrow.

- Joatmoaf -

October 28, 2004 at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 26, 2004

THE MONK - A ROMANCE

Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you a treat.

Holloween is upon us and I thought I would share one of my favorite stories with you.
It`s actually a book and I`ll post a section every day with the climactic ending being posted on Holloween.
I only read it once and that was 20 years ago. The version I read was modernized, Americanized, edited and condensed by Robert Bloch (I believe) and published by some obscure British publishing company long since defunct, but it made a huge impression on me.
I lost that book of short horror stories shortly thereafter and try as I might, I couldn`t find another.
Let me tell you, I was diligent in my search for a copy of that story and now I finally found it.

What`s even better is that I found a meticulously reconstructed e-version of the original, all 500 hand written pages.
You folks might have read it, I don`t know. All I know is that for 20 years I couldn`t find anyone who`d even heard of it, let alone read it. It was written in 1794 about subjects that were strictly taboo.
It was banned in many parts ot the world and had to be re-written:


But though that Garden-God forsaken dies;
Another Cleland see in Lewis rise.
Why sleep the ministers of truth and law?
Has the State no control, no decent awe,
While each with each in madd'ning orgies vie,
Panders to lust, and licens'd blasphemy?
Can Senates hear without a kindred rage?
Oh, may a Poet's light'ning blast the page,
Not with the bolt of Nemesis in vain
Supply the laws, that wake not to restrain

The Fourth dialogue: The Pursuits of Literature
Thomas James Mathias
July 1797

The Monk attracted much notice and considerable disgust on account of its licentiousness: a prosecution was talked of, and we believe commenced: but on a pledge to recall the copies, and to recast the work in another edition, legal proceedings were stopped.

Obituary of M G Lewis
The Gentleman's Magazine
No. 88, August, 1818

Regardless of any faults, I consider it a Masterpiece.
I`ve timed these daily posts to build up the suspense to the climactic ending, which will be posted on Holloween.
Please don`t cheat.
Ladies and Gentlemen I bring you....


MATTHEW LEWIS

THE MONK - A ROMANCE

Somnia, terrores magicos, miracula, sagas,
Nocturnos lemures, portentaque.
Horat.

Dreams, magic terrors, spells of mighty power,
Witches, and ghosts who rove at midnight hour.


PREFACE

IMITATION OF HORACE
Ep. 20.--B. 1.

Methinks, Oh! vain ill-judging Book,
I see thee cast a wishful look,
Where reputations won and lost are
In famous row called Paternoster.
Incensed to find your precious olio
Buried in unexplored port-folio,
You scorn the prudent lock and key,
And pant well bound and gilt to see
Your Volume in the window set
Of Stockdale, Hookham, or Debrett.

Go then, and pass that dangerous bourn
Whence never Book can back return:
And when you find, condemned, despised,
Neglected, blamed, and criticised,
Abuse from All who read you fall,
(If haply you be read at all
Sorely will you your folly sigh at,
And wish for me, and home, and quiet.

Assuming now a conjuror's office, I
Thus on your future Fortune prophesy:--
Soon as your novelty is o'er,
And you are young and new no more,
In some dark dirty corner thrown,
Mouldy with damps, with cobwebs strown,
Your leaves shall be the Book-worm's prey;
Or sent to Chandler-Shop away,
And doomed to suffer public scandal,
Shall line the trunk, or wrap the candle!

But should you meet with approbation,
And some one find an inclination
To ask, by natural transition
Respecting me and my condition;
That I am one, the enquirer teach,
Nor very poor, nor very rich;
Of passions strong, of hasty nature,
Of graceless form and dwarfish stature;
By few approved, and few approving;
Extreme in hating and in loving;

Abhorring all whom I dislike,
Adoring who my fancy strike;
In forming judgements never long,
And for the most part judging wrong;
In friendship firm, but still believing
Others are treacherous and deceiving,
And thinking in the present aera
That Friendship is a pure chimaera:
More passionate no creature living,
Proud, obstinate, and unforgiving,
But yet for those who kindness show,
Ready through fire and smoke to go.

Again, should it be asked your page,
'Pray, what may be the author's age?'
Your faults, no doubt, will make it clear,
I scarce have seen my twentieth year,
Which passed, kind Reader, on my word,
While England's Throne held George the Third.

Now then your venturous course pursue:
Go, my delight! Dear Book, adieu!

Hague,
Oct. 28, 1794. M. G. L.


ADVERTISEMENT
The first idea of this Romance was suggested by the story of the
Santon Barsisa, related in The Guardian.--The Bleeding Nun is a
tradition still credited in many parts of Germany; and I have
been told that the ruins of the Castle of Lauenstein, which She
is supposed to haunt, may yet be seen upon the borders of
Thuringia.--The Water-King, from the third to the twelfth stanza,
is the fragment of an original Danish Ballad--And Belerma and
Durandarte is translated from some stanzas to be found in a
collection of old Spanish poetry, which contains also the popular
song of Gayferos and Melesindra, mentioned in Don Quixote.--I
have now made a full avowal of all the plagiarisms of which I am
aware myself; but I doubt not, many more may be found, of which I
am at present totally unconscious.

VOLUME I

CHAPTER I

----Lord Angelo is precise;
Stands at a guard with envy; Scarce confesses
That his blood flows, or that his appetite
Is more to bread than stone.
Measure for Measure.


Scarcely had the Abbey Bell tolled for five minutes,and already
was the Church of the Capuchins thronged with Auditors. Do not
encourage the idea that the Crowd was assembled either from
motives of piety or thirst of information. But very few were
influenced by those reasons; and in a city where superstition
reigns with such despotic sway as in Madrid, to seek for true
devotion would be a fruitless attempt. The Audience now
assembled in the Capuchin Church was collected by various causes,
but all of them were foreign to the ostensible motive. The Women
came to show themselves, the Men to see the Women: Some were
attracted by curiosity to hear an Orator so celebrated; Some came
because they had no better means of employing their time till the
play began; Some, from being assured that it would be impossible
to find places in the Church; and one half of Madrid was brought
thither by expecting to meet the other half. The only persons
truly anxious to hear the Preacher were a few antiquated
devotees, and half a dozen rival Orators, determined to find
fault with and ridicule the discourse. As to the remainder of
the Audience, the Sermon might have been omitted altogether,
certainly without their being disappointed, and very probably
without their perceiving the omission.

Whatever was the occasion, it is at least certain that the
Capuchin Church had never witnessed a more numerous assembly.
Every corner was filled, every seat was occupied. The very
Statues which ornamented the long aisles were pressed into the
service. Boys suspended themselves upon the wings of Cherubims;
St. Francis and St. Mark bore each a spectator on his shoulders;
and St. Agatha found herself under the necessity of carrying
double. The consequence was, that in spite of all their hurry
and expedition, our two newcomers, on entering the Church, looked
round in vain for places.

However, the old Woman continued to move forwards. In vain were
exclamations of displeasure vented against her from all sides:
In vain was She addressed with--'I assure you, Segnora, there are
no places here.'-- 'I beg, Segnora, that you will not crowd me so
intolerably!'--'Segnora, you cannot pass this way. Bless me!
How can people be so troublesome!'--The old Woman was obstinate,
and on She went. By dint of perseverance and two brawny arms She
made a passage through the Crowd, and managed to bustle herself
into the very body of the Church, at no great distance from the
Pulpit. Her companion had followed her with timidity and in
silence, profiting by the exertions of her conductress.

'Holy Virgin!' exclaimed the old Woman in a tone of
disappointment, while She threw a glance of enquiry round her;
'Holy Virgin! What heat! What a Crowd! I wonder what can be the
meaning of all this. I believe we must return: There is no such
thing as a seat to be had, and nobody seems kind enough to
accommodate us with theirs.'

This broad hint attracted the notice of two Cavaliers, who
occupied stools on the right hand, and were leaning their backs
against the seventh column from the Pulpit. Both were young, and
richly habited. Hearing this appeal to their politeness
pronounced in a female voice, they interrupted their conversation
to look at the speaker. She had thrown up her veil in order to
take a clearer look round the Cathedral. Her hair was red, and
She squinted. The Cavaliers turned round, and renewed their
conversation.

'By all means,' replied the old Woman's companion; 'By all means,
Leonella, let us return home immediately; The heat is excessive,
and I am terrified at such a crowd.'

These words were pronounced in a tone of unexampled sweetness.
The Cavaliers again broke off their discourse, but for this time
they were not contented with looking up: Both started
involuntarily from their seats, and turned themselves towards the
Speaker.

The voice came from a female, the delicacy and elegance of whose
figure inspired the Youths with the most lively curiosity to view
the face to which it belonged. This satisfaction was denied
them. Her features were hidden by a thick veil; But struggling
through the crowd had deranged it sufficiently to discover a neck
which for symmetry and beauty might have vied with the Medicean
Venus. It was of the most dazzling whiteness, and received
additional charms from being shaded by the tresses of her long
fair hair, which descended in ringlets to her waist. Her figure
was rather below than above the middle size: It was light and
airy as that of an Hamadryad. Her bosom was carefully veiled.
Her dress was white; it was fastened by a blue sash, and just
permitted to peep out from under it a little foot of the most
delicate proportions. A chaplet of large grains hung upon her
arm, and her face was covered with a veil of thick black gauze.
Such was the female, to whom the youngest of the Cavaliers now
offered his seat, while the other thought it necessary to pay the
same attention to her companion.

The old Lady with many expressions of gratitude, but without much
difficulty, accepted the offer, and seated herself: The young
one followed her example, but made no other compliment than a
simple and graceful reverence. Don Lorenzo (such was the
Cavalier's name, whose seat She had accepted) placed himself near
her; But first He whispered a few words in his Friend's ear, who
immediately took the hint, and endeavoured to draw off the old
Woman's attention from her lovely charge.

'You are doubtless lately arrived at Madrid,' said Lorenzo to his
fair Neighbour; 'It is impossible that such charms should have
long remained unobserved; and had not this been your first public
appearance, the envy of the Women and adoration of the Men would
have rendered you already sufficiently remarkable.'

He paused, in expectation of an answer. As his speech did not
absolutely require one, the Lady did not open her lips: After a
few moments He resumed his discourse:

'Am I wrong in supposing you to be a Stranger to Madrid?'

The Lady hesitated; and at last, in so low a voice as to be
scarcely intelligible, She made shift to answer,-- 'No, Segnor.'

'Do you intend making a stay of any length?'

'Yes, Segnor.'

'I should esteem myself fortunate, were it in my power to
contribute to making your abode agreeable. I am well known at
Madrid, and my Family has some interest at Court. If I can be of
any service, you cannot honour or oblige me more than by
permitting me to be of use to you.'--'Surely,' said He to
himself, 'She cannot answer that by a monosyllable; now She must
say something to me.'

Lorenzo was deceived, for the Lady answered only by a bow.

By this time He had discovered that his Neighbour was not very
conversible; But whether her silence proceeded from pride,
discretion, timidity, or idiotism, He was still unable to decide.

After a pause of some minutes--'It is certainly from your being a
Stranger,' said He, 'and as yet unacquainted with our customs,
that you continue to wear your veil. Permit me to remove it.'

At the same time He advanced his hand towards the Gauze: The
Lady raised hers to prevent him.

'I never unveil in public, Segnor.'

'And where is the harm, I pray you?' interrupted her Companion
somewhat sharply; 'Do not you see that the other Ladies have all
laid their veils aside, to do honour no doubt to the holy place
in which we are? I have taken off mine already; and surely if I
expose my features to general observation, you have no cause to
put yourself in such a wonderful alarm! Blessed Maria! Here is a
fuss and a bustle about a chit's face! Come, come, Child!
Uncover it; I warrant you that nobody will run away with it from
you--'

'Dear aunt, it is not the custom in Murcia.'

'Murcia, indeed! Holy St. Barbara, what does that signify? You
are always putting me in mind of that villainous Province. If it
is the custom in Madrid, that is all that we ought to mind, and
therefore I desire you to take off your veil immediately. Obey
me this moment Antonia, for you know that I cannot bear
contradiction--'

Her niece was silent, but made no further opposition to Don
Lorenzo's efforts, who, armed with the Aunt's sanction hastened
to remove the Gauze. What a Seraph's head presented itself to
his admiration! Yet it was rather bewitching than beautiful; It
wasnot so lovely from regularity of features as from sweetness
and sensibility of Countenance. The several parts of her face
considered separately, many of them were far from handsome; but
when examined together, the whole was adorable. Her skin though
fair was not entirely without freckles; Her eyes were not very
large, nor their lashes particularly long. But then her lips
were of the most rosy freshness; Her fair and undulating hair,
confined by a simple ribband, poured itself below her waist in a
profusion of ringlets; Her throat was full and beautiful in the
extreme; Her hand and arm were formed with the most perfect
symmetry; Her mild blue eyes seemed an heaven of sweetness, and
the crystal in which they moved sparkled with all the brilliance
of Diamonds: She appeared to be scarcely fifteen; An arch smile,
playing round her mouth, declared her to be possessed of
liveliness, which excess of timidity at present represt; She
looked round her with a bashful glance; and whenever her eyes
accidentally met Lorenzo's, She dropt them hastily upon her
Rosary; Her cheek was immediately suffused with blushes, and She
began to tell her beads; though her manner evidently showed that
She knew not what She was about.

Lorenzo gazed upon her with mingled surprise and admiration; but
the Aunt thought it necessary to apologize for Antonia's
mauvaise honte.

- Joatmoaf -

' 'Tis a young Creature,' said She, 'who is totally ignorant of
the world. She has been brought up in an old Castle in Murcia;
with no other Society than her Mother's, who, God help her! has
no more sense, good Soul, than is necessary to carry her Soup to
her mouth. Yet She is my own Sister, both by Father and Mother.'

'And has so little sense?' said Don Christoval with feigned
astonishment; 'How very Extraordinary!'

'Very true, Segnor; Is it not strange? However, such is the
fact; and yet only to see the luck of some people! A young
Nobleman, of the very first quality, took it into his head that
Elvira had some pretensions to Beauty--As to pretensions, in
truth, She had always enough of THEM; But as to Beauty. . . .!
If I had only taken half the pains to set myself off which She
did. . . .! But this is neither here nor there. As I was
saying, Segnor, a young Nobleman fell in love with her, and
married her unknown to his Father. Their union remained a secret
near three years, But at last it came to the ears of the old
Marquis, who, as you may well suppose, was not much pleased with
the intelligence. Away He posted in all haste to Cordova,
determined to seize Elvira, and send her away to some place or
other, where She would never be heard of more. Holy St. Paul!
How He stormed on finding that She had escaped him, had joined
her Husband, and that they had embarked together for the Indies.
He swore at us all, as if the Evil Spirit had possessed him; He
threw my Father into prison, as honest a painstaking Shoe-maker
as any in Cordova; and when He went away, He had the cruelty to
take from us my Sister's little Boy, then scarcely two years old,
and whom in the abruptness of her flight, She had been obliged to
leave behind her. I suppose, that the poor little Wretch met
with bitter bad treatment from him, for in a few months after, we
received intelligence of his death.'

'Why, this was a most terrible old Fellow, Segnora!'

'Oh! shocking! and a Man so totally devoid of taste! Why, would
you believe it, Segnor? When I attempted to pacify him, He
cursed me for a Witch, and wished that to punish the Count, my
Sister might become as ugly as myself! Ugly indeed! I like him
for that.'

'Ridiculous', cried Don Christoval; 'Doubtless the Count would
have thought himself fortunate, had he been permitted to exchange
the one Sister for the other.'

'Oh! Christ! Segnor, you are really too polite. However, I am
heartily glad that the Conde was of a different way of thinking.
A mighty pretty piece of business, to be sure, Elvira has made of
it! After broiling and stewing in the Indies for thirteen long
years, her Husband dies, and She returns to Spain, without an
House to hide her head, or money to procure her one! This
Antonia was then but an Infant, and her only remaining Child.
She found that her Father-in-Law had married again, that he was
irreconcileable to the Conde, and that his second Wife had
produced him a Son, who is reported to be a very fine young Man.
The old Marquis refused to see my Sister or her Child; But sent
her word that on condition of never hearing any more of her, He
would assign her a small pension, and She might live in an old
Castle which He possessed in Murcia; This had been the favourite
habitation of his eldest Son; But since his flight from Spain,
the old Marquis could not bear the place, but let it fall to ruin
and confusion--My Sister accepted the proposal; She retired to
Murcia, and has remained there till within the last Month.'

'And what brings her now to Madrid?' enquired Don Lorenzo, whom
admiration of the young Antonia compelled to take a lively
interest in the talkative old Woman's narration.

'Alas! Segnor, her Father-in-Law being lately dead, the Steward
of his Murcian Estates has refused to pay her pension any longer.

With the design of supplicating his Son to renew it, She is now
come to Madrid; But I doubt, that She might have saved herself
the trouble! You young Noblemen have always enough to do with
your money, and are not very often disposed to throw it away upon
old Women. I advised my Sister to send Antonia with her
petition; But She would not hear of such a thing. She is so
obstinate! Well! She will find herself the worse for not
following my counsels: the Girl has a good pretty face, and
possibly might have done much.'

'Ah! Segnora,' interrupted Don Christoval, counterfeiting a
passionate air; 'If a pretty face will do the business, why has
not your Sister recourse to you?'

'Oh! Jesus! my Lord, I swear you quite overpower me with your
gallantry! But I promise you that I am too well aware of the
danger of such Expeditions to trust myself in a young Nobleman's
power! No, no; I have as yet preserved my reputation without
blemish or reproach, and I always knew how to keep the Men at a
proper distance.'

'Of that, Segnora, I have not the least doubt. But permit me to
ask you; Have you then any aversion to Matrimony?'

'That is an home question. I cannot but confess, that if an
amiable Cavalier was to present himself. . . .'

Here She intended to throw a tender and significant look upon Don
Christoval; But, as She unluckily happened to squint most
abominably, the glance fell directly upon his Companion: Lorenzo
took the compliment to himself, and answered it by a profound
bow.

'May I enquire,' said He, 'the name of the Marquis?'

'The Marquis de las Cisternas.'

'I know him intimately well. He is not at present in Madrid, but
is expected here daily. He is one of the best of Men; and if the
lovely Antonia will permit me to be her Advocate with him, I
doubt not my being able to make a favourable report of her
cause.'

Antonia raised her blue eyes, and silently thanked him for the
offer by a smile of inexpressible sweetness. Leonella's
satisfaction was much more loud and audible: Indeed, as her Niece
was generally silent in her company, She thought it incumbent
upon her to talk enough for both: This She managed without
difficulty, for She very seldom found herself deficient in words.

'Oh! Segnor!' She cried; 'You will lay our whole family under the
most signal obligations! I accept your offer with all possible
gratitude, and return you a thousand thanks for the generosity of
your proposal. Antonia, why do not you speak, Child? While the
Cavalier says all sorts of civil things to you, you sit like a
Statue, and never utter a syllable of thanks, either bad, good,
or indifferent!'

'My dear Aunt, I am very sensible that. . . .'

'Fye, Niece! How often have I told you, that you never should
interrupt a Person who is speaking!? When did you ever know me
do such a thing? Are these your Murcian manners? Mercy on me!
I shall never be able to make this Girl any thing like a Person
of good breeding. But pray, Segnor,' She continued, addressing
herself to Don Christoval, 'inform me, why such a Crowd is
assembled today in this Cathedral?'

'Can you possibly be ignorant, that Ambrosio, Abbot of this
Monastery, pronounces a Sermon in this Church every Thursday?
All Madrid rings with his praises. As yet He has preached but
thrice; But all who have heard him are so delighted with his
eloquence, that it is as difficult to obtain a place at Church,
as at the first representation of a new Comedy. His fame
certainly must have reached your ears--'

'Alas! Segnor, till yesterday I never had the good fortune to see
Madrid; and at Cordova we are so little informed of what is
passing in the rest of the world, that the name of Ambrosio has
never been mentioned in its precincts.'

'You will find it in every one's mouth at Madrid. He seems to
have fascinated the Inhabitants; and not having attended his
Sermons myself, I am astonished at the Enthusiasm which He has
excited. The adoration paid him both by Young and Old, by Man
and Woman is unexampled. The Grandees load him with presents;
Their Wives refuse to have any other Confessor, and he is known
through all the city by the name of the ''Man of Holiness''.'

'Undoubtedly, Segnor, He is of noble origin--'

'That point still remains undecided. The late Superior of the
Capuchins found him while yet an Infant at the Abbey door. All
attempts to discover who had left him there were vain, and the
Child himself could give no account of his Parents. He was
educated in the Monastery, where He has remained ever since. He
early showed a strong inclination for study and retirement, and
as soon as He was of a proper age, He pronounced his vows. No
one has ever appeared to claim him, or clear up the mystery which
conceals his birth; and the Monks, who find their account in the
favour which is shewn to their establishment from respect to him,
have not hesitated to publish that He is a present to them from
the Virgin. In truth the singular austerity of his life gives
some countenance to the report. He is now thirty years old,
every hour of which period has been passed in study, total
seclusion from the world, and mortification of the flesh. Till
these last three weeks, when He was chosen superior of the
Society to which He belongs, He had never been on the outside of
the Abbey walls: Even now He never quits them except on
Thursdays, when He delivers a discourse in this Cathedral which
all Madrid assembles to hear. His knowledge is said to be the
most profound, his eloquence the most persuasive. In the whole
course of his life He has never been known to transgress a single
rule of his order; The smallest stain is not to be discovered
upon his character; and He is reported to be so strict an
observer of Chastity, that He knows not in what consists the
difference of Man and Woman. The common People therefore esteem
him to be a Saint.'

'Does that make a Saint?' enquired Antonia; 'Bless me! Then am I
one?'

'Holy St. Barbara!' exclaimed Leonella; 'What a question! Fye,
Child, Fye! These are not fit subjects for young Women to
handle. You should not seem to remember that there is such a
thing as a Man in the world, and you ought to imagine every body
to be of the same sex with yourself. I should like to see you
give people to understand, that you know that a Man has no
breasts, and no hips, and no . . .'.

Luckily for Antonia's ignorance which her Aunt's lecture would
soon have dispelled, an universal murmur through the Church
announced the Preacher's arrival. Donna Leonella rose from her
seat to take a better view of him, and Antonia followed her
example.

He was a Man of noble port and commanding presence. His stature
was lofty, and his features uncommonly handsome. His Nose was
aquiline, his eyes large black and sparkling, and his dark brows
almost joined together. His complexion was of a deep but clear
Brown; Study and watching had entirely deprived his cheek of
colour. Tranquillity reigned upon his smooth unwrinkled
forehead; and Content, expressed upon every feature, seemed to
announce the Man equally unacquainted with cares and crimes. He
bowed himself with humility to the audience: Still there was a
certain severity in his look and manner that inspired universal
awe, and few could sustain the glance of his eye at once fiery
and penetrating. Such was Ambrosio, Abbot of the Capuchins, and
surnamed, 'The Man of Holiness'.

Antonia, while She gazed upon him eagerly, felt a pleasure
fluttering in her bosom which till then had been unknown to her,
and for which She in vain endeavoured to account. She waited
with impatience till the Sermon should begin; and when at length
the Friar spoke, the sound of his voice seemed to penetrate into
her very soul. Though no other of the Spectators felt such
violent sensations as did the young Antonia, yet every one
listened with interest and emotion. They who were insensible to
Religion's merits, were still enchanted with Ambrosio's oratory.
All found their attention irresistibly attracted while He spoke,
and the most profound silence reigned through the crowded Aisles.

Even Lorenzo could not resist the charm: He forgot that Antonia
was seated near him, and listened to the Preacher with undivided
attention.

In language nervous, clear, and simple, the Monk expatiated on
the beauties of Religion. He explained some abstruse parts of
the sacred writings in a style that carried with it universal
conviction. His voice at once distinct and deep was fraught with
all the terrors of the Tempest, while He inveighed against the
vices of humanity, and described the punishments reserved for
them in a future state. Every Hearer looked back upon his past
offences, and trembled: The Thunder seemed to roll, whose bolt
was destined to crush him, and the abyss of eternal destruction
to open before his feet. But when Ambrosio, changing his theme,
spoke of the excellence of an unsullied conscience, of the
glorious prospect which Eternity presented to the Soul untainted
with reproach, and of the recompense which awaited it in the
regions of everlasting glory, His Auditors felt their scattered
spirits insensibly return. They threw themselves with confidence
upon the mercy of their Judge; They hung with delight upon the
consoling words of the Preacher; and while his full voice swelled
into melody, They were transported to those happy regions which
He painted to their imaginations in colours so brilliant and
glowing.

The discourse was of considerable length; Yet when it concluded,
the Audience grieved that it had not lasted longer. Though the
Monk had ceased to speak, enthusiastic silence still prevailed
through the Church: At length the charm gradually dissolving,
the general admiration was expressed in audible terms. As
Ambrosio descended from the Pulpit, His Auditors crowded round
him, loaded him with blessings, threw themselves at his feet, and
kissed the hem of his Garment. He passed on slowly with his
hands crossed devoutly upon his bosom, to the door opening into
the Abbey Chapel, at which his Monks waited to receive him. He
ascended the Steps, and then turning towards his Followers,
addressed to them a few words of gratitude, and exhortation.
While He spoke, his Rosary, composed of large grains of amber,
fell from his hand, and dropped among the surrounding multitude.
It was seized eagerly, and immediately divided amidst the
Spectators. Whoever became possessor of a Bead, preserved it as
a sacred relique; and had it been the Chaplet of thrice-blessed
St. Francis himself, it could not have been disputed with greater
vivacity. The Abbot, smiling at their eagerness, pronounced his
benediction, and quitted the Church, while humility dwelt upon
every feature. Dwelt She also in his heart?

Antonia's eyes followed him with anxiety. As the Door closed
after him, it seemed to her as had she lost some one essential to
her happiness. A tear stole in silence down her cheek.

'He is separated from the world!' said She to herself; 'Perhaps,
I shall never see him more!'

As she wiped away the tear, Lorenzo observed her action.

'Are you satisfied with our Orator?' said He; 'Or do you think
that Madrid overrates his talents?'

Antonia's heart was so filled with admiration for the Monk, that
She eagerly seized the opportunity of speaking of him: Besides,
as She now no longer considered Lorenzo as an absolute Stranger,
She was less embarrassed by her excessive timidity.

'Oh! He far exceeds all my expectations,' answered She; 'Till
this moment I had no idea of the powers of eloquence. But when
He spoke, his voice inspired me with such interest, such esteem,
I might almost say such affection for him, that I am myself
astonished at the acuteness of my feelings.'

Lorenzo smiled at the strength of her expressions.

'You are young and just entering into life,' said He; 'Your
heart, new to the world and full of warmth and sensibility,
receives its first impressions with eagerness. Artless yourself,
you suspect not others of deceit; and viewing the world through
the medium of your own truth and innocence, you fancy all who
surround you to deserve your confidence and esteem. What pity,
that these gay visions must soon be dissipated! What pity, that
you must soon discover the baseness of mankind, and guard against
your fellow-creatures as against your Foes!'

'Alas! Segnor,' replied Antonia; 'The misfortunes of my Parents
have already placed before me but too many sad examples of the
perfidy of the world! Yet surely in the present instance the
warmth of sympathy cannot have deceived me.'

'In the present instance, I allow that it has not. Ambrosio's
character is perfectly without reproach; and a Man who has passed
the whole of his life within the walls of a Convent cannot have
found the opportunity to be guilty, even were He possessed of the
inclination. But now, when, obliged by the duties of his
situation, He must enter occasionally into the world, and be
thrown into the way of temptation, it is now that it behoves him
to show the brilliance of his virtue. The trial is dangerous; He
is just at that period of life when the passions are most
vigorous, unbridled, and despotic; His established reputation
will mark him out to Seduction as an illustrious Victim; Novelty
will give additional charms to the allurements of pleasure; and
even the Talents with which Nature has endowed him will
contribute to his ruin, by facilitating the means of obtaining
his object. Very few would return victorious from a contest so
severe.'

'Ah! surely Ambrosio will be one of those few.'

'Of that I have myself no doubt: By all accounts He is an
exception to mankind in general, and Envy would seek in vain for
a blot upon his character.'

'Segnor, you delight me by this assurance! It encourages me to
indulge my prepossession in his favour; and you know not with
what pain I should have repressed the sentiment! Ah! dearest
Aunt, entreat my Mother to choose him for our Confessor.'

'I entreat her?' replied Leonella; 'I promise you that I shall do
no such thing. I do not like this same Ambrosio in the least; He
has a look of severity about him that made me tremble from head
to foot: Were He my Confessor, I should never have the courage
to avow one half of my peccadilloes, and then I should be in a
rare condition! I never saw such a stern-looking Mortal, and
hope that I never shall see such another. His description of the
Devil, God bless us! almost terrified me out of my wits, and when
He spoke about Sinners He seemed as if He was ready to eat them.'

'You are right, Segnora,' answered Don Christoval; 'Too great
severity is said to be Ambrosio's only fault. Exempted himself
from human failings, He is not sufficiently indulgent to those of
others; and though strictly just and disinterested in his
decisions, his government of the Monks has already shown some
proofs of his inflexibility. But the crowd is nearly dissipated:
Will you permit us to attend you home?'

'Oh! Christ! Segnor,' exclaimed Leonella affecting to blush; 'I
would not suffer such a thing for the Universe! If I came home
attended by so gallant a Cavalier, My Sister is so scrupulous
that She would read me an hour's lecture, and I should never hear
the last of it. Besides, I rather wish you not to make your
proposals just at present.'

'My proposals? I assure you, Segnora. . . .'

'Oh! Segnor, I believe that your assurances of impatience are all
very true; But really I must desire a little respite. It would
not be quite so delicate in me to accept your hand at first
sight.'

'Accept my hand? As I hope to live and breathe. . . .'

'Oh! dear Segnor, press me no further, if you love me! I shall
consider your obedience as a proof of your affection; You shall
hear from me tomorrow, and so farewell. But pray, Cavaliers,
may I not enquire your names?'

'My Friend's,' replied Lorenzo, 'is the Conde d'Ossorio, and mine
Lorenzo de Medina.'

' 'Tis sufficient. Well, Don Lorenzo, I shall acquaint my Sister
with your obliging offer, and let you know the result with all
expedition. Where may I send to you?'

'I am always to be found at the Medina Palace.'

'You may depend upon hearing from me. Farewell, Cavaliers.
Segnor Conde, let me entreat you to moderate the excessive ardour
of your passion: However, to prove to you that I am not
displeased with you, and prevent your abandoning yourself to
despair, receive this mark of my affection, and sometimes bestow
a thought upon the absent Leonella.'

As She said this, She extended a lean and wrinkled hand; which
her supposed Admirer kissed with such sorry grace and constraint
so evident, that Lorenzo with difficulty repressed his
inclination to laugh. Leonella then hastened to quit the Church;
The lovely Antonia followed her in silence; but when She reached
the Porch, She turned involuntarily, and cast back her eyes
towards Lorenzo. He bowed to her, as bidding her farewell; She
returned the compliment, and hastily withdrew.

'So, Lorenzo!' said Don Christoval as soon as they were alone,
'You have procured me an agreeable Intrigue! To favour your
designs upon Antonia, I obligingly make a few civil speeches
which mean nothing to the Aunt, and at the end of an hour I find
myself upon the brink of Matrimony! How will you reward me for
having suffered so grievously for your sake? What can repay me
for having kissed the leathern paw of that confounded old Witch?
Diavolo! She has left such a scent upon my lips that I shall
smell of garlick for this month to come! As I pass along the
Prado, I shall be taken for a walking Omelet, or some large Onion
running to seed!'

'I confess, my poor Count,' replied Lorenzo, 'that your service
has been attended with danger; Yet am I so far from supposing it
be past all endurance that I shall probably solicit you to carry
on your amours still further.'

'From that petition I conclude that the little Antonia has made
some impression upon you.'

'I cannot express to you how much I am charmed with her. Since
my Father's death, My Uncle the Duke de Medina, has signified to
me his wishes to see me married; I have till now eluded his
hints, and refused to understand them; But what I have seen this
Evening. . . .'

'Well? What have you seen this Evening? Why surely, Don
Lorenzo, You cannot be mad enough to think of making a Wife out
of this Grand-daughter of ''as honest a painstaking Shoe-maker
as any in Cordova''?'

'You forget, that She is also the Grand-daughter of the late
Marquis de las Cisternas; But without disputing about birth and
titles, I must assure you, that I never beheld a Woman so
interesting as Antonia.'

'Very possibly; But you cannot mean to marry her?'

'Why not, my dear Conde? I shall have wealth enough for both of
us, and you know that my Uncle thinks liberally upon the subject.

From what I have seen of Raymond de las Cisternas, I am certain
that he will readily acknowledge Antonia for his Niece. Her
birth therefore will be no objection to my offering her my hand.
I should be a Villain could I think of her on any other terms
than marriage; and in truth She seems possessed of every quality
requisite to make me happy in a Wife. Young, lovely, gentle,
sensible. . . .'

'Sensible? Why, She said nothing but ''Yes,'' and ''No''.'

'She did not say much more, I must confess--But then She always
said ''Yes,'' or ''No,'' in the right place.'

'Did She so? Oh! your most obedient! That is using a right
Lover's argument, and I dare dispute no longer with so profound a
Casuist. Suppose we adjourn to the Comedy?'

'It is out of my power. I only arrived last night at Madrid, and
have not yet had an opportunity of seeing my Sister; You know
that her Convent is in this Street, and I was going thither when
the Crowd which I saw thronging into this Church excited my
curiosity to know what was the matter. I shall now pursue my
first intention, and probably pass the Evening with my Sister at
the Parlour grate.'

'Your Sister in a Convent, say you? Oh! very true, I had
forgotten. And how does Donna Agnes? I am amazed, Don Lorenzo,
how you could possibly think of immuring so charming a Girl
within the walls of a Cloister!'

'I think of it, Don Christoval? How can you suspect me of such
barbarity? You are conscious that She took the veil by her own
desire, and that particular circumstances made her wish for a
seclusion from the World. I used every means in my power to
induce her to change her resolution; The endeavour was fruitless,
and I lost a Sister!'

'The luckier fellow you; I think, Lorenzo, you were a
considerable gainer by that loss: If I remember right, Donna
Agnes had a portion of ten thousand pistoles, half of which
reverted to your Lordship. By St. Jago! I wish that I had fifty
Sisters in the same predicament. I should consent to losing them
every soul without much heart-burning--'

'How, Conde?' said Lorenzo in an angry voice; 'Do you suppose me
base enough to have influenced my Sister's retirement? Do you
suppose that the despicable wish to make myself Master of her
fortune could. . . .'

'Admirable! Courage, Don Lorenzo! Now the Man is all in a
blaze. God grant that Antonia may soften that fiery temper, or
we shall certainly cut each other's throat before the Month is
over! However, to prevent such a tragical Catastrophe for the
present, I shall make a retreat, and leave you Master of the
field. Farewell, my Knight of Mount Aetna! Moderate that
inflammable disposition, and remember that whenever it is
necessary to make love to yonder Harridan, you may reckon upon my
services.'

He said, and darted out of the Cathedral.

'How wild-brained!' said Lorenzo; 'With so excellent an heart,
what pity that He possesses so little solidity of judgment!'

The night was now fast advancing. The Lamps were not yet
lighted. The faint beams of the rising Moon scarcely could
pierce through the gothic obscurity of the Church. Lorenzo found
himself unable to quit the Spot. The void left in his bosom by
Antonia's absence, and his Sister's sacrifice which Don
Christoval had just recalled to his imagination, created that
melancholy of mind which accorded but too well with the
religious gloom surrounding him. He was still leaning against
the seventh column from the Pulpit. A soft and cooling air
breathed along the solitary Aisles: The Moonbeams darting into
the Church through painted windows tinged the fretted roofs and
massy pillars with a thousand various tints of light and colours:

Universal silence prevailed around, only interrupted by the
occasional closing of Doors in the adjoining Abbey.

The calm of the hour and solitude of the place contributed to
nourish Lorenzo's disposition to melancholy. He threw himself
upon a seat which stood near him, and abandoned himself to the
delusions of his fancy. He thought of his union with Antonia; He
thought of the obstacles which might oppose his wishes; and a
thousand changing visions floated before his fancy, sad 'tis
true, but not unpleasing. Sleep insensibly stole over him, and
the tranquil solemnity of his mind when awake for a while
continued to influence his slumbers.

He still fancied himself to be in the Church of the Capuchins;
but it was no longer dark and solitary. Multitudes of silver
Lamps shed splendour from the vaulted Roof; Accompanied by the
captivating chaunt of distant choristers, the Organ's melody
swelled through the Church; The Altar seemed decorated as for
some distinguished feast; It was surrounded by a brilliant
Company; and near it stood Antonia arrayed in bridal white, and
blushing with all the charms of Virgin Modesty.

Half hoping, half fearing, Lorenzo gazed upon the scene before
him. Sudden the door leading to the Abbey unclosed, and He saw,
attended by a long train of Monks, the Preacher advance to whom
He had just listened with so much admiration. He drew near
Antonia.

'And where is the Bridegroom?' said the imaginary Friar.

Antonia seemed to look round the Church with anxiety.
Involuntarily the Youth advanced a few steps from his
concealment. She saw him; The blush of pleasure glowed upon her
cheek; With a graceful motion of her hand She beckoned to him to
advance. He disobeyed not the command; He flew towards her, and
threw himself at her feet.

She retreated for a moment; Then gazing upon him with unutterable
delight;--'Yes!' She exclaimed, 'My Bridegroom! My destined
Bridegroom!' She said, and hastened to throw herself into his
arms; But before He had time to receive her, an Unknown rushed
between them. His form was gigantic; His complexion was swarthy,
His eyes fierce and terrible; his Mouth breathed out volumes of
fire; and on his forehead was written in legible
characters--'Pride! Lust! Inhumanity!'

Antonia shrieked. The Monster clasped her in his arms, and
springing with her upon the Altar, tortured her with his odious
caresses. She endeavoured in vain to escape from his embrace.
Lorenzo flew to her succour, but ere He had time to reach her, a
loud burst of thunder was heard. Instantly the Cathedral seemed
crumbling into pieces; The Monks betook themselves to flight,
shrieking fearfully; The Lamps were extinguished, the Altar sank
down, and in its place appeared an abyss vomiting forth clouds of
flame. Uttering a loud and terrible cry the Monster plunged into
the Gulph, and in his fall attempted to drag Antonia with him.
He strove in vain. Animated by supernatural powers She
disengaged herself from his embrace; But her white Robe was left
in his possession. Instantly a wing of brilliant splendour
spread itself from either of Antonia's arms. She darted upwards,
and while ascending cried to Lorenzo,

'Friend! we shall meet above!'

At the same moment the Roof of the Cathedral opened; Harmonious
voices pealed along the Vaults; and the glory into which Antonia
was received was composed of rays of such dazzling brightness,
that Lorenzo was unable to sustain the gaze. His sight failed,
and He sank upon the ground.

When He woke, He found himself extended upon the pavement of the
Church: It was Illuminated, and the chaunt of Hymns sounded from
a distance. For a while Lorenzo could not persuade himself that
what He had just witnessed had been a dream, so strong an
impression had it made upon his fancy. A little recollection
convinced him of its fallacy: The Lamps had been lighted during
his sleep, and the music which he heard was occasioned by the
Monks, who were celebrating their Vespers in the Abbey Chapel.

Lorenzo rose, and prepared to bend his steps towards his Sister's
Convent. His mind fully occupied by the singularity of his
dream, He already drew near the Porch, when his attention was
attracted by perceiving a Shadow moving upon the opposite wall.
He looked curiously round, and soon descried a Man wrapped up in
his Cloak, who seemed carefully examining whether his actions
were observed. Very few people are exempt from the influence of
curiosity. The Unknown seemed anxious to conceal his business in
the Cathedral, and it was this very circumstance, which made
Lorenzo wish to discover what He was about.

Our Hero was conscious that He had no right to pry into the
secrets of this unknown Cavalier.

'I will go,' said Lorenzo. And Lorenzo stayed, where He was.

The shadow thrown by the Column, effectually concealed him from
the Stranger, who continued to advance with caution. At length
He drew a letter from beneath his cloak, and hastily placed it
beneath a Colossal Statue of St. Francis. Then retiring with
precipitation, He concealed himself in a part of the Church at a
considerable distance from that in which the Image stood.

'So!' said Lorenzo to himself; 'This is only some foolish love
affair. I believe, I may as well be gone, for I can do no good
in it.'

In truth till that moment it never came into his head that He
could do any good in it; But He thought it necessary to make some
little excuse to himself for having indulged his curiosity. He
now made a second attempt to retire from the Church: For this
time He gained the Porch without meeting with any impediment; But
it was destined that He should pay it another visit that night.
As He descended the steps leading into the Street, a Cavalier
rushed against him with such violence, that Both were nearly
overturned by the concussion. Lorenzo put his hand to his sword.

'How now, Segnor?' said He; 'What mean you by this rudeness?'

'Ha! Is it you, Medina?' replied the Newcomer, whom Lorenzo by
his voice now recognized for Don Christoval; 'You are the
luckiest Fellow in the Universe, not to have left the Church
before my return. In, in! my dear Lad! They will be here
immediately!'

'Who will be here?'

'The old Hen and all her pretty little Chickens! In, I say, and
then you shall know the whole History.'

Lorenzo followed him into the Cathedral, and they concealed
themselves behind the Statue of St. Francis.

'And now,' said our Hero, 'may I take the liberty of asking, what
is the meaning of all this haste and rapture?'

'Oh! Lorenzo, we shall see such a glorious sight! The Prioress
of St. Clare and her whole train of Nuns are coming hither. You
are to know, that the pious Father Ambrosio (The Lord reward him
for it!) will upon no account move out of his own precincts: It
being absolutely necessary for every fashionable Convent to have
him for its Confessor, the Nuns are in consequence obliged to
visit him at the Abbey; since when the Mountain will not come to
Mahomet, Mahomet must needs go to the Mountain. Now the Prioress
of St. Clare, the better to escape the gaze of such impure eyes
as belong to yourself and your humble Servant, thinks proper to
bring her holy flock to confession in the Dusk: She is to be
admitted into the Abbey Chapel by yon private door. The
Porteress of St. Clare, who is a worthy old Soul and a particular
Friend of mine, has just assured me of their being here in a few
moments. There is news for you, you Rogue! We shall see some of
the prettiest faces in Madrid!'

'In truth, Christoval, we shall do no such thing. The Nuns are
always veiled.'

'No! No! I know better. On entering a place of worship, they
ever take off their veils from respect to the Saint to whom 'tis
dedicated. But Hark! They are coming! Silence, silence!
Observe, and be convinced.'

'Good!' said Lorenzo to himself; 'I may possibly discover to whom
the vows are addressed of this mysterious Stranger.'

Scarcely had Don Christoval ceased to speak, when the Domina of
St. Clare appeared, followed by a long procession of Nuns. Each
upon entering the Church took off her veil. The Prioress crossed
her hands upon her bosom, and made a profound reverence as She
passed the Statue of St. Francis, the Patron of this Cathedral.
The Nuns followed her example, and several moved onwards without
having satisfied Lorenzo's curiosity. He almost began to despair
of seeing the mystery cleared up, when in paying her respects to
St. Francis, one of the Nuns happened to drop her Rosary. As She
stooped to pick it up, the light flashed full upon her face. At
the same moment She dexterously removed the letter from beneath
the Image, placed it in her bosom, and hastened to resume her
rank in the procession.

'Ha!' said Christoval in a low voice; 'Here we have some little
Intrigue, no doubt.'

'Agnes, by heaven!' cried Lorenzo.

'What, your Sister? Diavolo! Then somebody, I suppose, will
have to pay for our peeping.'

'And shall pay for it without delay,' replied the incensed
Brother.

The pious procession had now entered the Abbey; The Door was
already closed upon it. The Unknown immediately quitted his
concealment and hastened to leave the Church: Ere He could
effect his intention, He descried Medina stationed in his
passage. The Stranger hastily retreated, and drew his Hat over
his eyes.

'Attempt not to fly me!' exclaimed Lorenzo; 'I will know who you
are, and what were the contents of that Letter.'

'Of that Letter?' repeated the Unknown. 'And by what title do
you ask the question?'

'By a title of which I am now ashamed; But it becomes not you to
question me. Either reply circumstantially to my demands, or
answer me with your Sword.'

'The latter method will be the shortest,' rejoined the Other,
drawing his Rapier; 'Come on, Segnor Bravo! I am ready!'

Burning with rage, Lorenzo hastened to the attack: The
Antagonists had already exchanged several passes before
Christoval, who at that moment had more sense than either of
them, could throw himself between their weapons.

'Hold! Hold! Medina!' He exclaimed; 'Remember the consequences
of shedding blood on consecrated ground!'

The Stranger immediately dropped his Sword.

'Medina?' He cried; 'Great God, is it possible! Lorenzo, have you
quite forgotten Raymond de las Cisternas?'

Lorenzo's astonishment increased with every succeeding moment.
Raymond advanced towards him, but with a look of suspicion He
drew back his hand, which the Other was preparing to take.

'You here, Marquis? What is the meaning of all this? You
engaged in a clandestine correspondence with my Sister, whose
affections. . . .'

'Have ever been, and still are mine. But this is no fit place
for an explanation. Accompany me to my Hotel, and you shall know
every thing. Who is that with you?'

'One whom I believe you to have seen before,' replied Don
Christoval, 'though probably not at Church.'

'The Conde d'Ossorio?'

'Exactly so, Marquis.'

'I have no objection to entrusting you with my secret, for I am
sure that I may depend upon your silence.'

'Then your opinion of me is better than my own, and therefore I
must beg leave to decline your confidence. Do you go your own
way, and I shall go mine. Marquis, where are you to be found?'

'As usual, at the Hotel de las Cisternas; But remember, that I am
incognito, and that if you wish to see me, you must ask for
Alphonso d'Alvarada.'

'Good! Good! Farewell, Cavaliers!' said Don Christoval, and
instantly departed.

'You, Marquis,' said Lorenzo in the accent of surprise; 'You,
Alphonso d'Alvarada?'

'Even so, Lorenzo: But unless you have already heard my story
from your Sister, I have much to relate that will astonish you.
Follow me, therefore, to my Hotel without delay.'

At this moment the Porter of the Capuchins entered the Cathedral
to lock up the doors for the night. The two Noblemen instantly
withdrew, and hastened with all speed to the Palace de las
Cisternas.

'Well, Antonia!' said the Aunt, as soon as She had quitted the
Church; 'What think you of our Gallants? Don Lorenzo really
seems a very obliging good sort of young Man: He paid you some
attention, and nobody knows what may come of it. But as to Don
Christoval, I protest to you, He is the very Phoenix of
politeness. So gallant! so well-bred! So sensible, and so
pathetic! Well! If ever Man can prevail upon me to break my vow
never to marry, it will be that Don Christoval. You see, Niece,
that every thing turns out exactly as I told you: The very
moment that I produced myself in Madrid, I knew that I should be
surrounded by Admirers. When I took off my veil, did you see,
Antonia, what an effect the action had upon the Conde? And when
I presented him my hand, did you observe the air of passion with
which He kissed it? If ever I witnessed real love, I then saw it
impressed upon Don Christoval's countenance!'

Now Antonia had observed the air, with which Don Christoval had
kissed this same hand; But as She drew conclusions from it
somewhat different from her Aunt's, She was wise enough to hold
her tongue. As this is the only instance known of a Woman's ever
having done so, it was judged worthy to be recorded here.

The old Lady continued her discourse to Antonia in the same
strain, till they gained the Street in which was their Lodging.
Here a Crowd collected before their door permitted them not to
approach it; and placing themselves on the opposite side of the
Street, they endeavoured to make out what had drawn all these
people together. After some minutes the Crowd formed itself into
a Circle; And now Antonia perceived in the midst of it a Woman of
extraordinary height, who whirled herself repeatedly round and
round, using all sorts of extravagant gestures. Her dress was
composed of shreds of various-coloured silks and Linens
fantastically arranged, yet not entirely without taste. Her head
was covered with a kind of Turban, ornamented with vine leaves
and wild flowers. She seemed much sun-burnt, and her complexion
was of a deep olive: Her eyes looked fiery and strange; and in
her hand She bore a long black Rod, with which She at intervals
traced a variety of singular figures upon the ground, round about
which She danced in all the eccentric attitudes of folly and
delirium. Suddenly She broke off her dance, whirled herself
round thrice with rapidity, and after a moment's pause She sang
the following Ballad.

THE GYPSY'S SONG

Come, cross my hand! My art surpasses
All that did ever Mortal know;
Come, Maidens, come! My magic glasses
Your future Husband's form can show:

For 'tis to me the power is given
Unclosed the book of Fate to see;
To read the fixed resolves of heaven,
And dive into futurity.

I guide the pale Moon's silver waggon;
The winds in magic bonds I hold;
I charm to sleep the crimson Dragon,
Who loves to watch o'er buried gold:

Fenced round with spells, unhurt I venture
Their sabbath strange where Witches keep;
Fearless the Sorcerer's circle enter,
And woundless tread on snakes asleep.

Lo! Here are charms of mighty power!
This makes secure an Husband's truth
And this composed at midnight hour
Will force to love the coldest Youth:

If any Maid too much has granted,
Her loss this Philtre will repair;
This blooms a cheek where red is wanted,
And this will make a brown girl fair!

Then silent hear, while I discover
What I in Fortune's mirror view;
And each, when many a year is over,
Shall own the Gypsy's sayings true.

'Dear Aunt!' said Antonia when the Stranger had finished, 'Is She
not mad?'

'Mad? Not She, Child; She is only wicked. She is a Gypsy, a
sort of Vagabond, whose sole occupation is to run about the
country telling lyes, and pilfering from those who come by their
money honestly. Out upon such Vermin! If I were King of Spain,
every one of them should be burnt alive who was found in my
dominions after the next three weeks.'

These words were pronounced so audibly that they reached the
Gypsy's ears. She immediately pierced through the Crowd and
made towards the Ladies. She saluted them thrice in the Eastern
fashion, and then addressed herself to Antonia.

THE GYPSY

'Lady! gentle Lady! Know,
I your future fate can show;
Give your hand, and do not fear;
Lady! gentle Lady! hear!'

'Dearest Aunt!' said Antonia, 'Indulge me this once! Let me have
my fortune told me!'

'Nonsense, Child! She will tell you nothing but falsehoods.'

'No matter; Let me at least hear what She has to say. Do, my dear
Aunt! Oblige me, I beseech you!'

'Well, well! Antonia, since you are so bent upon the thing, . . .
Here, good Woman, you shall see the hands of both of us. There
is money for you, and now let me hear my fortune.'

As She said this, She drew off her glove, and presented her hand;
The Gypsy looked at it for a moment, and then made this reply.


THE GYPSY

'Your fortune? You are now so old,
Good Dame, that 'tis already told:
Yet for your money, in a trice
I will repay you in advice.
Astonished at your childish vanity,
Your Friends alltax you with insanity,
And grieve to see you use your art
To catch some youthful Lover's heart.
Believe me, Dame, when all is done,
Your age will still be fifty one;
And Men will rarely take an hint
Of love, from two grey eyes that squint.
Take then my counsels; Lay aside
Your paint and patches, lust and pride,
And on the Poor those sums bestow,
Which now are spent on useless show.
Think on your Maker, not a Suitor;
Think on your past faults, not on future;
And think Time's Scythe will quickly mow
The few red hairs, which deck your brow.

The audience rang with laughter during the Gypsy's address;
and--'fifty one,'--'squinting eyes,' 'red hair,' --'paint and
patches,' &c. were bandied from mouth to mouth. Leonella was
almost choaked with passion, and loaded her malicious Adviser
with the bitterest reproaches. The swarthy Prophetess for some
time listened to her with a contemptuous smile: at length She
made her a short answer, and then turned to Antonia.

THE GYPSY

'Peace, Lady! What I said was true;
And now, my lovely Maid, to you;
Give me your hand, and let me see
Your future doom, and heaven's decree.'

In imitation of Leonella, Antonia drew off her glove, and
presented her white hand to the Gypsy, who having gazed upon it
for some time with a mingled expression of pity and astonishment,
pronounced her Oracle in the following words.

THE GYPSY

'Jesus! what a palm is there!
Chaste, and gentle, young and fair,
Perfect mind and form possessing,
You would be some good Man's blessing:
But Alas! This line discovers,
That destruction o'er you hovers;
Lustful Man and crafty Devil
Will combine to work your evil;
And from earth by sorrows driven,
Soon your Soul must speed to heaven.
Yet your sufferings to delay,
Well remember what I say.
When you One more virtuous see
Than belongs to Man to be,
One, whose self no crimes assailing,
Pities not his Neighbour's Failing,
Call the Gypsy's words to mind:
Though He seem so good and kind,
Fair Exteriors oft will hide
Hearts, that swell with lust and pride!
Lovely Maid, with tears I leave you!
Let not my prediction grieve you;
Rather with submission bending
Calmly wait distress impending,
And expect eternal bliss
In a better world than this.

Having said this, the Gypsy again whirled herself round thrice,
and then hastened out of the Street with frantic gesture. The
Crowd followed her; and Elvira's door being now unembarrassed
Leonella entered the House out of honour with the Gypsy, with her
Niece, and with the People; In short with every body, but herself
and her charming Cavalier. The Gypsy's predictions had also
considerably affected Antonia; But the impression soon wore off,
and in a few hours She had forgotten the adventure as totally as
had it never taken place.

Chapter II - Tomorrow

- Joatmoaf -

October 26, 2004 at 06:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 06, 2004

Brain Food

I just bought some more Brain Candy that my massive pre-frontal cortex demands. I think I`m going to enjoy reading them all but here`s a list of the good stuff.

Tales From The Left Coast: by James Hirsen

Slander: by Ann Coulter

A National Party No More: by Sen. Zell Miller

Pearl Harbor The Day of Infamy - An Illustrated History: by Dan Van Der Vat

The Illustrated Directory of The United States Navy: by Chester G. Hearn

From Foxholes to Flightdecks, letters Home From World War II: by Rod Gragg

The Art Of War And Military Thought: by Martin Van Creveld

The first 3 pretty much conform to my political ideology and will give me ammunition against the more stubbornly ignorant liberals who insist on preaching their propaganda to me and others. I had one of those little non debates today at a coffee shop and the girl who defended Kerrys honor did so with these words,
" What Bush and the Swiftboat Vets did to Kerry was unfair and totally uncalled for". It didn`t matter when I informed her of the huge contrast in financing for the 527s,( 25 to 1 in Kerrys favor I believe ) it didn`t matter that direct connections can be linked from the Kerry campaign to his 527s but not to Bush and the Swift Vets,and when she started gushing about his military record and his honesty vs Bushes, it didn`t matter when I informed her that the U.S. Navy is investigating Kerrys 1st Purple Heart award because of pressure from Judicial Watch and the Bush had released his military records ( she still didn`t believe it ) while Kerry only releases pertainantly convenient parts of his.

The next 4 are the ones I really wanted. I always try to buy any illustrated book on a topic of intrest to me because pictures can often relay much more than words and I like to have a visual reference.
The illustrated directory of the U.S. Navy is an excellent reference of U.S. Naval history....With Pictures !!!
Foxholes to Flightdecks is so interesting that I`m going to share it with you in a post. It has 12 little exact replicas of letters home, P.O.W. , wounded and death notifications and gives us an idea of the soul of the W W II U.S. fighting man.

The Art of War. As a war buff the name alone is enough to get me to buy it and I hope I can learn something useful from it.
Happy Happy, Joy Joy.....I got some brain candy.

- Joatmoaf -



September 6, 2004 at 06:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack