« AnteriorContinuar »
refuge at hand. The spot was well a loud voice, and I felt a hand gripe chosen.
at my throat. I struck at random in The doors of the inn were closed; the dark, and with effect, for my there was a light in the room below; blow was followed by a groan and a but the outside shutters were drawn curse. over the windows on the first floor. My Roland, meanwhile, had detected uncle paused a moment, and said to a ray through the chinks of a door in the postilion
the hall, and, guided by it, found his “Do you know the back way to way into the room at the window of the premises ?"
which we had seen the light pass and "No, sir; I does'nt often come go, while without. As he threw the by this way, and they be new folks door open, I bounded after him; and that have taken the house—and I saw in a kind of parlour, two femaleshear it don't prosper over-much." the one a stranger, no doubt the hostess,
“Knock at the door we will stand the other the treacherous abigail. a little aside while you do so. If any Their faces evinced their terror. one ask what you want merely “ Woman," I said, seizing the last, say you would speak to the servant " where is Miss Trevanion ?" Inthat you have found a purse ;-here, stead of replying, the woman set up hold up mine."
a loud shriek. Another light now Roland and I had dismounted, and gleamed from the staircase, which my uncle drew me close to the wall immediately faced the door, and I by the door. Observing that my im- heard a voice that I recognised as patience ill submitted to what seemed Peacock's, cry out, “ Who's there? to me idle preliminaries,
what's the matter?" “Hist!" whispered he; “if there be I made a rush at the stairs. A buranything to conceal within, they will ley form (that of the landlord, who not answer the door till some one has had recovered from my blow) obreconnoitred: were they to see us, structed my way for a moment, to they would refuse to open. But see. measure its length on the floor at the ing only the postboy, whom they will next. I was at the top of the stairs, suppose at first to be one of those who Peacock recognised me; recoiled, and brought the carriage-they will have extinguished the light. Oaths, cries, no suspicion. Be ready to rush in the and shrieks, now resounded through moment the door is unbarred.
the dark. Amidst them all, I sudMy uncle's veteran experience did denly heard a voice exclaim, “Here, not deceive him. There was a long here!- help !" It was the voice of silence before any reply was made to the Fanny. I made my way to the right, postboy's summons; the light passed whence the voice came, and received a to and fro rapidly across the window, violent blow. Fortunately, it fell on as if persons were moving within the arm which I extended, as men do Roland made sign to the postboy to who feel their way through the dark. knock again ; he did so twice-thrice It was not the right arm, and I seized - and at last, from an attic-window and closed on my assailant. Roland in the roof, a head obtruded, and a now came up, a candle in his hand; voice cried, " Who are you?-what do and at that sight my antagonist, who you want?"
was no other than Peacock, slipped " I'm the postboy at the Red Lion; from me, and made a rush at the I want to see the servant with the stairs. But the Captain caught him brown carriage; I have found this with his grasp of iron. Fearing nothing purse !"
for Roland in a contest with any single 4 Oh, that's all-wait a bit."
foe, and all my thoughts bent on the The head disappeared; we crept rescue of her whose voice again broke along under the projecting eaves of on my ear, I had already (before the the house; we heard the bar lifted light of the candle which Roland held from the door; the door itself cau- went out in the struggle between himtiously opened; one spring and I self and Peacock) caught sight of a door stood within, and set my back to the at the end of the passage, and thrown door to admit Roland.
myself against it: it was locked, but “Ho, help!-thieves !--help!" cried it shook and groaned to my pressure.
"Hold back, whoever you are !" despair. Following the direction of cried a voice from the room within, his eye, stern and fixed as the look of far different from that wail of distress one who prophesies a destiny, and dewhich had guided my steps. “Hold nounces a doom, I shivered as I back, at the peril of your life !"
gazed upon the son. His whole The voice, the threat, redoubled my frame seemed collapsed and shrinkstrength ; the door flew from its fast ing, as if already withered by the enings. I stood in the room. I saw curse : a ghastly whiteness overspread Fanny at my feet, clasping my hands; the cheek, usually glowing with the then, raising herself, she hung on my dark bloom of Oriental youth; the shoulder and murmured, “ Saved !" knees knocked together; and, at last, Opposite to me, his face deformed by with a faint exclamation of pain, like passion, his eyes literally blazing the cry of one who receives a deathwith savage fire, his nostrils dis- blow, he bowed his face over his tended, his lips apart, stood the man clasped hands, and so remainedI have called Francis Vivian.
still, but cowering. " Fanny-Miss Trevanion -- what Instinctively I advanced and placed ontrage-what villany is this? You myself between the father and the have not met this man at your free son, murmuring, 6 Spare him; see, choice,-oh speak!” Vivian sprang his own heart crushes him down." forward.
Then stealing towards the son, I whis" Question no one but me. Un- pered, “ Go, go; the crime was not hand that lady, she is my betrothed committed, the curse can be recalled." -shall be my wife.”
But my words touched a wrong chord * No, no, no,-don't believe him," in that dark and rebellious nature. cried Fanny; “I have been betrayed The young man withdrew his hands by my own servants - brought here, hastily from his face, and reared his I know not how! I heard my father front in passionate defiance. was ill; I was on my way to him : Waving me aside, he cried, that man met me here, and dared "Away! I acknowledge no authority to"
over my actions and my fate; I al“Miss Trevanion-yes, I dared to low no mediator between this lady say I loved you."
and myself. Sir," he continued, gaz“ Protect me from him!-you will ing gloomily on his father— sir, you protect me from him!"
forget our compact. Our ties were “No, madam!” said a voice behind severed, your power over me anme, in a deep tone, " it is I who nulled ; I resigned the name you bear; claim the right to protect you from to you I was, and am still, as the dead. that man; it is I who now draw I deny your right to step between me around you the arm of one sacred, and the object dearer to me than life. even to him ; it is I who, from this “Oh!" (and here he stretched forth spot, launch upon his head-a father's his hands towards Fanny)"oh! Miss carse. Violator of the hearth! Baffled Trevanion, do not refuse me one ravisher!-go thy way to the doom prayer, however you condemn me. which thou hast chosen for thyself. Let me see you alone but for one God will be merciful to me yet, and moment; let me but prove to you give me a grave before thy course find that, guilty as I may have been, it was its close in the hulks or at the gal- not from the base motives you will lows !"
hear imputed to me that it was not A sickness came over me-a terror the heiress I sought to decoy, it was froze my veins — I reeled back, and the woman I sought to win; oh! leant for support against the wall. hear me". Roland had passed his arm round “No, no," murmured Fanny, clingFanny, and she, frail and trembling, ing closer to Roland,“ do not leave clung to his broad heart, looking me. If, as it seems, he is your son, I fearfully up to his face. And never forgive him ; but let him go-I shudin that face, ploughed by deep emo- der at his very voice !” tions, and dark with unutterable sor- "Would you have me, indeed, anTOW8, had I seen an expression so nihilate the very memory of the bond grand in its wrath, so sublime in its between us ?" said Roland, in a hollow
voice; "would you bave me see in saw you, I might have thought of love, you only the vile thief, the lawless as the poor and ambitious think of felon,-deliver you up to justice, or the way to wealth and power. Those strike you to my feet. Let the me- thoughts vanished, and nothing remory still save you, and begone!" mained in my heart but love and mad
Again I caught hold of the guilty son, ness. I was as a man in a delirium and again he broke from my grasp. when I planned this snare. I knew
“It is," he said, folding bis arms de- but one object-saw but one heavenly liberately on his breast, " it is for me to vision. Oh, mine-mine at least in command in this house: all who are that vision-are you indeed lost to within it must submit to my orders. me for ever!” You, sir, who hold reputation, name, There was that in this man's tone and honour at so high a price, how can and manner which, whether arising you fail to see that you would rob them from accomplished hypocrisy or actual from the lady whom you would protectif perverted feeling, would, I thought, from the insult of my affection? How find its way at once to the heart of a would the world receive the tale of your woman who, however wronged, had rescue of Miss Trevanion? how believe once loved him; and, with a cold that-Oh pardon me, madam,-Miss misgiving, I fixed my eyes on Miss Trevanion – Fanny- pardon me-I Trevanion. Her look, as she turned am mad; only hear me-alone-alone with a visible tremor, suddenly met --and then if you too say · Begone,'I mine, and I believe that she dissubmit without a murmur; I allow cerned my doubt ; for after suffering no arbiter but you."
her eyes to rest on my own, with But Fanny still clung closer, and something of mournful reproach, her closer still, to Roland. At that mo- lips curved as with the pride of her ment I heard voices and the trampling mother, and for the first time in my of feet below, and supposing that life I saw anger on her brow. the accomplices in this villany were “It is well, sir, that you have thus mustering courage, perhaps, to mount spoken to me in the presence of others, to the assistance of their employer, I for in their presence I call upon you lost all the compassion that had to say, by that honour which the son hitherto softened my horror of the of this gentleman may for a while foryoung man's crime, and all the awe get, but cannot wholly forfeit,- I call with which that confession had been upon you to say, whether by deed, attended. I therefore, this time, word, or sign, I, Frances Trevanion, seized the false Vivian with a gripe ever gave you cause to believe that I that he could no longer shake off, and returned the feeling you say you said sternly
entertained for me, or encouraged you "Beware how you aggravate your to dare this attempt to place me in offence. If strife ensues, it will not be your power." between father and son, and—”.
“No!” cried Vivian readily, but Fanny sprang forward. “Do not with a writhing lip—"no; but where provoke this bad, dangerous man. I I loved so deeply, periled all my forfear him not. Sir, I will hear you, tune for one fair and free occasion to and alone."
tell you so alone, I would not think “Never !" cried I and Roland sim- that such love could meet only loathultaneously.
ing and disdain. What |-has nature Vivian turned his look fiercely to shaped me so unkindly, that where I me, and with a sullen bitterness to love no love can reply? What!—has his father, and then, as if resigning the accident of birth shut me out from his former prayer, he said "Well the right to woo and mate with the then, be it so ; even in the presence highborn ? For the last, at least, of those who judge me so severely, I that gentleman in justice should tell will speak at least.” He paused, and, you, since it has been his care to throwing into his voice a passion instil the haughty lesson into me, that that, had the repugnance at his guilt my lineage is one that befits lofty been less, would not have been with hopes, and warrants fearless ambiout pathos, he continued to address tion. My hopes, my ambition--they Fanny: “I own that, when I first were you! Oh, Miss Trevanion, it is true that to win you I would "The name of Miss Trevanion, sirhave braved the world's laws, defied and from what?" asked the new comer, every foe, save him who now rises as he advanced and surveyed Vivian before me. Yet, believe me, believe with a look that, but for its quiet, me, had I won what I dared to aspire would have seemed disdain, to, you would not have been dis- “ Lord Castleton !” exclaimed graced by your choice; and the name, Fanny, lifting up the face she had for which I thank not my father, buried in her hands. should not have been despised by the Vivian recoiled in dismay, and woman who pardoned my presumption, gnashed his teeth. -nor by the man who now tramples “Sir," said the marquis, “I await on my anguish, and curses me in my your reply; for not even you, in my desolation."
presence, shall imply that one reNot by a word had Roland sought proach can be attached to the name to interrupt his son-nay, by a feverish of that lady." excitement, which my heart understood “Oh, moderate your tone to me, my in its secret sympathy, he had seemed Lord Castleton !"cried Vivian: “in you eagerly to court every syllable that at least there is one man I am not forcould extenuate the darkness of the bidden to brave and defy. It was to offence, or eyen imply some less sordid save that lady from the cold ambition motive for the baseness of the means. of her parents-it was to prevent the But as the son now closed with the sacrifice of her youth and beauty, to words of unjust reproach, and the one whose sole merits are his wealth accents of fierce despair ;-closed a and his titles-it was this that imdefence that showed in its false pride, pelled me to the crime I have comand its perverted eloquence, so uttermitted, this that hurried me on to risk a blindness to every principle of that all for one hour, when youth at least honour which had been the father's idol, could plead its cause to youth; and Roland placed his hand before the eyes this gives me now the power to say that he had previously, as if spell- that it does rest with me to protect bound, fixed on the hardened offender, the name of the lady, whom your and once more drawing Fanny towards very servility to that world which you him, said
have made your idol forbids you to “His breath pollutes the air that claim from the heartless ambition that innocence and honesty should breath. would sacrifice the daughter to the He says "All in this house are at his vanity of the parents. Ha! the future command, '—why do we stay?- let us Marchioness of Castleton on her way go." He turned towards the door, to Scotland with a pennyless advenand Fanny with him.
turer! Ha! if my lips are sealed, Meanwhile the louder sounds below who but I can seal the lips of those had been silenced for some moments, below in my secret? The secret shall but I heard a step in the hall. be kept, but on this condition-you Vivian started, and placed himself shall not triumph where I have failed; before us.
I may lose what I adored, but I do “No, no, you cannot leave me thus, not resign it to another. Ha! have I Miss Trevanion. I resign you-be it foiled you, my Lord Castleton ?-ba, 80; I do not even ask for pardon. ha!”. But to leave this house thus, without "No, sir; and I almost forgive carriage, without attendants, without you the villany you have not effected, explanation !-the blame falls on me- for informing me, for the first time, it shall do so. But at least vouchsafe that, had I presumed to address me the right to repair what I yet can Miss Trevanion, her parents at least repair of the wrong, to protect all that would have pardoned the presumpis left to me-your name."
tion. Trouble not yourself as to As he spoke, he did not perceive (for what your accomplices may say, he was facing us, and with his back They have already confessed their to the door,) that a new actor had infamy and your own. Out of my noiselessly entered on the scene, and, path, sir!' pausing by the threshold, heard his Then, with the benign look of a last words.
father, and the lofty grace of a prince,
Lord Castleton advanced to Fanny. curse. Pray to thy God for parLooking round with a shudder, she don.” hastily placed her hand in his, and, by Perhaps not daring to trust himself so doing, perhaps prevented some vio- further, he then made a violent effort, lence on the part of Vivian, whose and hurried from the room. heaving breast, and eye bloodshot, We followed silently. When we and still unquailing, showed how little gained the end of the passage, the even shame had subdued his fiercer door of the room we had left, closed passions. But he made no offer to with a sullen jar. detain them, and his tongue seemed As the sound smote on my ear, to cleave to his lips. Now, as Fanny with it came so terrible a sense of the moved to the door, she passed Roland, solitude upon which that door had who stood motionless and with vacant closed—so keen and quick an apprelooks, like an image of stone; and with hension of some fearful impulse, suga beautiful tenderness, for which gested by passions so fierce, to a con(even at this distant date, recalling dition so forlorn—that instinctively it) I say, “ God requite thee, Fanny," I stopped, and then hurried back she laid her other hand on Roland's arm, to the chamber. The lock of the and said, “Come too ; your arm still !” door having been previously forced,
But Roland's limbs trembled, and there was no barrier to oppose my refused to stir ; his head, relaxing, entrance. I advanced, and beheld a drooped on his breast, his eyes closed. spectacle of such agony, as can only Even Lord Castleton was so struck be conceived by those who have looked (though unable to guess the true and on the grief which takes no fortitude terrible cause of his dejection) that from reason, no consolation from conhe forgot his desire to hasten from the science-the grief which tells us what spot, and cried with all his kindliness would be the earth were man abanof heart, “You are ill-you faint; doned to his passions, and the CHANCE give him your arm, Pisistratus." of the atheist reigned alone in the
"It is nothing," said Roland feebly, merciless heavens. Pride humbled to as he leant heavily on my arm, the dust; ambition shivered into fragwhile I turned back my head with all ments ; love (or the passion mistaken the bitterness of that reproach which for it) blasted into ashes ; life, at the filled my heart, speaking in the eyes first onset, bereaved of its holiest ties, that sought him whose place should have forsaken by its truest guide; shame been where mine now was. And, oh!- that writhed for revenge, and rethank heaven, thank heaven!-the look morse that knew not prayer-all, all was not in vain. In the same moment blended, yet distinct, were in that the son was at the father's knees. awful spectacle of the guilty son.
“Oh, pardon - pardon! Wretch, And I had told but twenty years, lost wretch though I be, I bow my head and my heart had been mellowed in to the curse. Let it fall—buton me, and the tender sunshine of a happy home, onmeonly-not on your own heart too." and I had loved this boy as a stranger,
Fanny burst into tears, sobbing out, and, lo-he was Roland's son! I for“ Forgive him, as I do.”
got all else, looking upon that anguish; Roland did not heed her.
and I threw myself on the ground by “He thinks that the heart was not the form that writhed there, and, foldshattered before the curse could come,” ing my arms round the breast which in he said, in a voice so weak as to be vain repelled me, I whispered, “Comscarcely audible. Then, raising his fort-comfort-life is long. You shall eyes to heaven, his lips moved as if he redeem the past, you shall efface prayed inly. Pausing, he stretched the stain, and your father shall bless his hands over his son's head, and you yet!" averting his face, said, “I revoke the