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Title:      The Dream
Author:     Mary Shelley
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Edition:    1
Language:   English
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Date first posted:          July 2006
Date most recently updated: July 2006

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Title:      The Dream
Author:     Mary Shelley

The time of the occurrence of the little legend about to be narrated,
was that of the commencement of the reign of Henry IV of France, whose
accession and conversion, while they brought peace to the kingdom whose
throne he ascended, were inadequate to heal the deep wounds mutually
inflicted by the inimical parties. Private feuds, and the memory of
mortal injuries, existed between those now apparently united; and often
did the hands that had clasped each p other in seeming friendly
greeting, involuntarily, as the grasp was released, clasp the dagger's
hilt, as fitter spokesman to their passions than the words of courtesy
that had just fallen from their lips. Many of the fiercer Catholics
retreated to their distant provinces; and while they concealed in
solitude their rankling discontent, not less keenly did they long for
the day when they might show it openly. In a large and fortified chteau
built on a rugged steep overlooking the Loire, not far from the town of
Nantes, dwelt the last of her race, and the heiress of their fortunes,
the young and beautiful Countess de Villeneuve. She had spent the
preceding year in complete solitude in her secluded abode; and the
mourning she wore for a father and two brothers, the victims of the
civil wars, was a graceful and good reason why she did not appear at
court, and mingle with its festivities. But the orphan countess
inherited a high name and broad lands; and it was soon signified to her
that the king, her guardian, desired that she should bestow them,
together with her hand, upon some noble whose birth and accomplishments
should entitle him to the gift. Constance, in reply, expressed her
intention of taking vows, and retiring to a convent. The king earnestly
and resolutely forbade this act, believing such an idea to be the result
of sensibility overwrought by sorrow, and relying on the hope that,
after a time, the genial spirit of youth would break through this cloud.

A year passed, and still the countess persisted; and at last Henry,
unwilling, to exercise compulsion,--desirous, too, of judging for
himself of the motives that led one so beautiful, young, and gifted with
fortune's favours, to desire to bury herself in a cloister,--announced
his intention, now that the period of her mourning was expired, of
visiting her chteau; and if he brought not with him, the monarch said,
inducement sufficient to change her design, he would yield his consent
to its fulfilment.

Many a sad hour had Constance passed--many a day of tears, and many a
night of restless misery. She had closed her gates against every
visitant; and, like the Lady Olivia in 'Twelfth Night', vowed herself to
loneliness and weeping. Mistress of herself, she easily silenced the
entreaties and remonstrances of underlings, and nursed her grief as it
had been the thing she loved. Yet it was too keen, too bitter, too
burning, to be a favoured guest. In fact, Constance, young, ardent, and
vivacious, battled with it, struggled and longed to cast it off; but all
that was joyful in itself, or fair in outward show, only served to renew
it; and she could best support the burden of her sorrow with patience,
when, yielding to it, it oppressed but did not torture her.

Constance had left the castle to wander in the neighbouring grounds.
Lofty and extensive as were the apartments of her abode, she felt pent
up within their walls, beneath their fretted roofs. The spreading
uplands and the antique wood, associated to her with every dear
recollection of her past life, enticed her to spend hours and days
beneath their leafy coverts. The motion and change eternally working, as
the wind stirred among the boughs, or the journeying sun rained its
beams through them, soothed and called her out of that dull sorrow which
clutched her heart with so unrelenting a pang beneath her castle roof.

There was one spot on the verge of the well-wooded park, one nook of
ground, whence she could discern the country extended beyond, yet which
was in itself thick set with tall umbrageous trees--a spot which she had
forsworn, yet whither unconsciously her steps for ever tended, and where
again for the twentieth time that day, she had unaware found herself.
She sat upon a grassy mound, and looked wistfully on the flowers she had
herself planted to adorn the verdurous recess--to her the temple of
memory and love. She held the letter from the king which was the parent
to her of so much despair. Dejection sat upon her features, and her
gentle heart asked fate why, so young, unprotected, and forsaken, she
should have to struggle with this new form of wretchedness.

'I but ask,' she thought, 'to live in my father's halls--in the spot
familiar to my infancy--to water with my frequent tears the graves of
those I loved; and here in these woods, where such a mad dream of
happiness was mine, to celebrate for ever the obsequies of Hope!'

A rustling among the boughs now met her ear--her heart beat quick--all
again was still.

'Foolish girl!' she half muttered; 'dupe of thine own passionate fancy:
because here we met; because seated here I have expected, and sounds
like these have announced, his dear approach; so now every coney as it
stirs, and every bird as it awakens silence, speaks of him. O
Gaspar!--mine once--never again will this beloved spot be made glad by
thee--never more!'

Again the bushes were stirred, and footsteps were heard in the brake.
She rose; her heart beat high; it must be that silly Manon, with her
impertinent entreaties for her to return. But the steps were firmer and
slower than would be those of her waiting-woman; and now emerging from
the shade, she too plainly discerned the intruder. He first impulse was
to fly: but once again to see him--to hear his voice:--once again before
she placed eternal vows between them, to stand together, and find the
wide chasm filled which absence had made, could not injure the dead, and
would soften the fatal sorrow that made her cheek so pale.

And now he was before, her, the same beloved one with whom she had
exchanged vows of constancy. He, like her, seemed sad; nor could she
resist the imploring glance that entreated her for one moment to remain.

'I come, lady,' said the young knight, 'without a hope to bend your
inflexible will. I come but once again to see you, and to bid you
farewell before I depart for the Holy Land. I come to beseech you not to
immure yourself in the dark cloister to avoid one as hateful as
myself,--one you will never see more. Whether I die or live, France and
I are parted for ever!'

'That were fearful, were it true,' said Constance; 'but King Henry will
never so lose his favourite cavalier. The throne you helped to build,
you still will guard. Nay, as I ever had power over thought of thine, go
not to Palestine.'

'One word of yours could detain me--one smile--Constance'--and the
youthful lover knelt before her; but her harsher purpose was recalled by
the image once so dear and familiar, now so strange and so forbidden.

'Linger no longer here!' she cried. 'No smile, no word of mine will ever
again be yours. Why are you here--here, where the spirits of the dead
wander, and claiming these shades as their own, curse the false girl who
permits their murderer to disturb their sacred repose?'

'When love was young and you were kind,' replied the knight, 'you taught
me to thread the intricacies of these woods you welcomed me to this dear
spot, where once you vowed to be my own--even beneath these ancient

'A wicked sin it was,' said Constance, 'to unbar my father's doors to
the son of his enemy, and dearly is it punished!'

The young knight gained courage as she spoke; yet he dared not move,
lest she, who, every instant, appeared ready to take flight, should be
startled from her momentary tranquillity, but he slowly replied:--'Those
were happy days, Constance, full of terror and deep joy, when evening
brought me to your feet; and while hate and vengeance were as its
atmosphere to yonder frowning castle, this leafy, starlit bower was the
shrine of love.'

'Happy?--miserable days!' echoed Constance; 'when I imagined good could
arise from failing in my duty, and that disobedience would be rewarded
of God. Speak not of love, Gaspar!--a sea of blood divides us for ever!
Approach me not! The dead and the beloved stand even now between us:
their pale shadows warn me of my fault, and menace me for listening to
their murderer.'

'That am not I!' exclaimed the youth. 'Behold, Constance, we are each
the last of our race. Death has dealt cruelly with us, and we are alone.
It was not so when first we loved--when parent, kinsman, brother, nay,
my own mother breathed curses on the house of Villeneuve; and in spite
of all I blessed it. I saw thee, my lovely one, and blessed it. The God
of peace planted love in our hearts, and with mystery and secrecy we met
during many a summer night in the moonlit dells; and when daylight was
abroad, in this sweet recess we fled to avoid its scrutiny, and here,
even here, where now I kneel in supplication, we both knelt and made our
vows. Shall they be broken?'

Constance wept as her lover recalled the images of happy hours. 'Never,'
she exclaimed, 'O never! Thou knowest, or wilt soon know, Gaspar, the
faith and resolves of one who dare not be yours. Was it for us to talk
of love and happiness, when war, and hate, and blood were raging around!
The fleeting flowers our young hands strewed were trampled by the deadly
encounter of mortal foes. By your father's hand mine died; and little
boots it to know whether, as my brother swore, and you deny, your hand
did or did not deal the blow that destroyed him. You fought among those
by whom he died. Say no more--no other word: it is impiety towards the
unreposing dead to hear you. Go, Gaspar; forget me. Under the chivalrous
and gallant Henry your career may he glorious; and some fair girl will
listen, as once I did, to your vows, and be made happy by them.
Farewell! May the Virgin bless you! In my cell and cloister-home I will
not forget the best Christian lesson--to pray for our enemies. Gaspar,

She glided hastily from the bower: with swift steps she threaded the
glade and sought the castle. Once within the seclusion of her own
apartment she gave way to the burst of grief that tore her gentle bosom
like a tempest; for hers was that worst sorrow, which taints past joys,
making wait upon the memory of bliss, and linking love and fancied guilt
in such fearful society as that of the tyrant when he bound a living
body to a corpse. Suddenly a thought darted into her mind. At first she
rejected it as puerile and superstitious; but it would not be driven
away. She called hastily for her attendant. 'Manon,' she said, 'didst
thou ever sleep on St Catherine's couch?'

Manon crossed herself. 'Heaven forefend! None ever did, since I was
born, but two: one fell into the Loire and was drowned; the other only
looked upon the narrow bed, and turned to her own home without a word.
It is an awful place; and if the votary have not led a pious and good
life, woe betide the hour when she rests her head on the holy stone!'

Constance crossed herself also. 'As for our lives, it is only through
our Lord and the blessed saints that we can any of us hope for
righteousness. I will sleep on that couch tomorrow night!'

'Dear, my lady! and the king arrives tomorrow.'

'The more need that I resolve. It cannot be that misery so intense
should dwell in any heart, and no cure be found. I had hoped to be the
bringer of peace to our houses; and if the good work to be for me a
crown of thorns Heaven shall direct me. I will rest tomorrow night on St
Catherine's bed: and if, as I have heard, the saint deigns to direct her
votaries in dreams, I will be guided by her; and, believing that I act
according to the dictates of Heaven, I shall feel resigned even to the

The king was on his way to Nantes from Paris, and he slept in this night
at a castle but a few miles distant Before dawn a young cavalier was
introduced into his chamber. The knight had a serious, nay, a sad
aspect; and all beautiful as he was in feature and limb, looked wayworn
and haggard. He stood silent in Henry's presence, who, alert and gay,
turned his lively blue eyes upon his guest, saying gently, 'So thou
foundest her obdurate, Gaspar?'

'I found her resolved on our mutual misery. Alas! my liege, it is not,
credit me, the least of my grief, that Constance sacrifices her own
happiness when she destroys mine.'

'And thou believest that she will say nay to the gaillard chevalier whom
we ourselves present to her?'

'Oh, my liege, think not that thought! it cannot be. My heart deeply,
most deeply, thanks you for your generous condescension. But she whom
her lover's voice in solitude--whose entreaties, when memory and
seclusion aided the spell--could not persuade, will resist even your
majesty's commands. She is bent upon entering a cloister; and I, so
please you, will now take my leave:--I am henceforth a soldier of the

'Gaspar,' said the monarch, 'I know woman better than thou. It is not by
submission nor tearful plaints she is to be won. The death of her
relatives naturally sits heavy at the young countess' heart; and
nourishing in solitude her regret and her repentance, she fancies that
Heaven itself forbids your union. Let the voice of the world reach
her--the voice of earthly power and earthly kindness--the one
commanding, the other pleading, and both finding response in her own
heart--and by my say and the Holy Cross. she will be yours. Let our plan
still hold. And now to horse: the morning wears, and the sun is risen.'

The king arrived at the bishop's palace, and proceeded forthwith to mass
in the cathedral. A sumptuous dinner succeeded, and it was afternoon
before the monarch proceeded through the town beside the Loire to where,
a little above Nantes, the Chateau Villeneuve was situated. The, young
countess received him at the gate. Henry looked in vain for the cheek
blanched by misery, the aspect of downcast despair which he had been
taught to expect. Her cheek was flushed, her manner animated, her voice
scarce tremulous. 'She loves him not,' thought Henry, or already her
heart has consented.'

A collation was prepared for the monarch; and after some little
hesitation, arising from the cheerfulness of her mien, he mentioned the
name of Gaspar. Constance blushed instead of turning pale, and replied
very quickly, 'Tomorrow, good my liege; I ask for a respite but until
tomorrow;--all will then be decided;--tomorrow I am vowed to God--or'--

She looked confused, and the king, at once surprised and pleased, said,
'Then you hate not young De Vaudemont;--you forgive him for the inimical
blood that warms his veins.'

'We are taught that we should forgive, that we should love our enemies,'
the countess replied, with some trepidation.

'Now, by Saint Denis, that is a right welcome answer for the novice,'
said the king, laughing. 'What ho! my faithful servingman, Don Apollo in
disguise! come forward, and thank your lady for her love.'

In such disguise as had concealed him from all, the cavalier had hung
behind, and viewed with infinite surprise the demeanour and calm
countenance of the lady. He could not hear her words: but was this even
she whom he had seen trembling and weeping the evening before? this she
whose very heart was torn by conflicting passion?--who saw the pale
ghosts of parent and kinsman stand between her and the lover whom more
than her life she adored? It was a riddle hard to solve. The king's call
was in unison with his impatience, and he sprang forward. He was at her
feet; while she, still passion-driven overwrought by the very calmness
she had assumed, uttered one cry as she recognized him and sank
senseless on the floor.

All this was very unintelligible. Even when her attendants had brought
her to life, another fit succeeded, and then passionate floods of tears;
while the monarch, waiting in the hall, eyeing the half-eaten collation,
and, humming some romance in commemoration of woman's waywardness, knew
not how to reply to Vaudemont's look of bitter disappointment and
anxiety. At length the countess' chief attendant came with an apology.
'Her lady was ill, very ill. The next day she would throw herself at the
king's feet, at once to solicit his excuse, and to disclose her

'Tomorrow--again tomorrow! Does tomorrow bear some charm, maiden?' said
the king. 'Can you read us the riddle pretty one? What strange tale
belongs to tomorrow, that all rests on its advent?

Manon coloured, looked down, and hesitated. But Henry was no tyro in the
art of enticing ladies' attendants to disclose their ladies' council.
Manon was besides, frightened by the countess' scheme, on which she was
still obstinately bent, so she was the more readily induced to betray
it. To sleep in St Catherine's bed, to rest on a narrow ledge
overhanging the deep rapid Loire, and if, as was most probable, the
luckless dreamer escaped from falling into it, to take the disturbed
visions that, such uneasy slumber might produce for the dictate of
Heaven, was a madness of which even Henry himself could scarcely deem
any woman capable. But could Constance, her whose beauty was so highly
intellectual, and whom he had heard perpetually praised for her strength
of mind and talents, could she be so strangely infatuated! And can
passion play such freaks with us?--like death, levelling even the
aristocracy of the soul, and bringing noble and peasant, the wise and
foolish, under one thraldom? It was strange--yes she must have her way.
That she hesitated in her decision was much; and it was to be hoped that
St Catherine would play no ill-natured part. Should it be otherwise, a
purpose to be swayed by a dream might be influenced by other waking
thoughts. To the more material kind of danger some safeguard should be

There is no feeling more awful than that which invades a weak human
heart bent upon gratifying its ungovernable impulses in contradiction to
the dictates of conscience. Forbidden pleasures are said to be the most
agreeable;--it may be so to rude natures, to those who love to struggle,
combat, and contest; who find happiness in a fray, and joy in the
conflict of passion. But softer and sweeter was the gentle spirit of
Constance; and love and duty contending crushed and tortured her poor
heart. To commit her conduct to the inspirations of religion, or, if it
was so to be named, of superstition, was a blessed relief. The very
perils that threatened her undertaking gave zest to it;--to dare for his
sake was happiness;--the very difficulty of the way that led to the
completion of her wishes at once gratified her love and distracted her
thoughts from her despair. Or if it was decreed that she must sacrifice
all, the risk of danger and of death were of trifling import in
comparison with the anguish which would then be her portion for ever.

The night threatened to be stormy, the raging wind shook the casements,
and the trees waved their huge shadowy arms, as giants might in
fantastic dance and mortal broil. Constance and Manon, unattended,
quitted the chateau by a postern, and began to descend the hillside. The
moon had not yet risen; and though the way was familiar to both, Manon
tottered and trembled; while the countess, drawing her silken cloak
around her, walked with a firm step down the steep. They came to the
river's side, where a small boat was moored, and one man was in waiting.
Constance stepped lightly in, and then aided her fearful companion. In a
few moments they were in the middle of the stream. The warm,
tempestuous, animating, equinoctial wind swept over them. For the first
time since her mourning, a thrill of pleasure swelled the bosom of
Constance. She hailed the emotion with double joy. It cannot be, she
thought, that Heaven will forbid me to love one so brave, so generous,
and so good as the noble Gaspar. Another I can never love; I shall die
if divided from him; and this heart, these limbs, so alive with glowing
sensation, are they already predestined to an early grave? Oh no! life
speaks aloud within them: I shall live to love. Do not all things
love?--the winds as they whisper to the rushing waters? the waters as
they kiss the flowery banks, and speed to mingle with the sea? Heaven
and earth are sustained by, and live through, love; and shall Constance
alone, whose heart has ever been a deep, gushing, overflowing well of
true affection, be compelled to set a stone upon the fount to lock it up
for ever?

These thoughts bade fair for pleasant dreams; and perhaps the countess,
an adept in the blind god's lore, therefore indulged them the more
readily. But as thus she was engrossed by soft emotions, Manon caught
her arm:--'Lady, look,' she cried; 'it comes yet the oars have no sound.
Now the Virgin shield us! Would we were at home!'

A dark boat glided by them. Four rowers, habited in black cloaks, pulled
at oars which, as Manon said, gave no sound; another sat at the helm:
like the rest, his person was veiled in a dark mantle, but he wore no
cap; and though his face was turned from them, Constance recognized her
lover. 'Gaspar,' she cried aloud, 'dost thou live?'--but the figure in
the boat neither turned its head nor replied, and quickly it was lost.
in the shadowy waters.

How changed now was the fair countess' reverie! Already Heaven had begun
its spell, and unearthly forms were around, as she strained her eyes
through the gloom. Now she saw and now she lost view of the bark that
occasioned her terror; and now it seemed that another was there, which
held the spirits of the dead; and her father waved to her from shore,
and her brothers frowned on her.

Meanwhile they neared the landing. Her bark was moored in a little cove,
and Constance stood upon the bank. Now she trembled, and half yielded to
Manon's entreaty to return; till the unwise suivante mentioned the
king's and De Vaudemont's name, and spoke of the answer to be given
tomorrow. What answer, if she turned back from her intent?

She now hurried forward up the broken ground of the bank, and then along
its edge, till they came to a bill which abruptly hung over the tide. A
small chapel stood near. With trembling fingers the countess drew forth
the key and unlocked its door. They entered. It was dark--save that a
little lamp, flickering in the wind, showed an uncertain light from
before the figure of Saint Catherine. The two women knelt; they prayed;
and then rising, with a cheerful accent the countess bade her attendant
good-night. She unlocked a little low iron door. It opened on a narrow
cavern. The roar of waters was heard beyond. 'Thou mayest not follow, my
poor Manon,' said Constance,--'nor dost thou much desire:--this
adventure is for me alone.'

It was hardly fair to leave the trembling servant in the chapel alone,
who had neither hope nor fear, nor love, nor grief to beguile her; but,
in those days, esquires and waiting-women often played the part of
subalterns in the army, gaming knocks and no fame. Besides, Manon was
safe in holy ground. The countess meanwhile pursued her way groping in
the dark through the narrow tortuous passage. At length what seemed
light to her long darkened sense gleamed on her. She reached an open
cavern in the overhanging hill's side, looking over the rushing tide
beneath. She looked out upon the night. The waters of the Loire were
speeding, as since that day have they ever sped--changeful, yet the
same; the heavens were thickly veiled with clouds, and the wind in the
trees was as mournful and ill-omened as if it rushed round a murderer's
tomb. Constance shuddered a little, and looked upon her, bed,--a narrow
ledge of earth and a grown stone bordering on the very verge of the
precipice. She doffed her mantle,--such was one of the conditions of the
spell;--she bowed her head, and loosened the tresses of her dark hair;
she bared her feet; and thus, fully prepared for suffering to the utmost
the chill influence of the cold night, she stretched herself on the
narrow couch that scarce afforded room for her repose, and whence, if
she moved in sleep, she must he precipitated into the cold waters below.

At first it seemed to her as if she never should sleep again. No great
wonder that exposure to the blast and her perilous position should
forbid her eyelids to close. At length she fell into a reverie so soft
and soothing that she wished even to watch; and then by degrees her
senses became confused; and now she was on St Catherine's bed--the Loire
rushing beneath, and the wild wind sweeping by--and now--oh
whither?--and what dreams did the saint send, to drive her to despair,
or to bid her be blest for ever?

Beneath the rugged hill, upon the dark tide, another watched, who feared
a thousand things, and scarce dared hope. He had meant to precede the
lady on her way, but when he found that he had outstayed his time, with
muffled oars and breathless haste he had shot by the bark that contained
his Constance, nor even turned at her voice, fearful to incur her blame,
and her commands to return. He had seen her emerge from the passage, and
shuddered as she leant over the cliff. He saw her step forth, clad as
she was in white, and could mark her as she lay on the edge beetling
above. What a vigil did the lovers keep!--she given up to visionary
thoughts, he knowing--and the consciousness thrilled his bosom with
strange emotion--that love, and love for him, had led her to that
perilous couch; and that while angers surrounded her in every shape, she
was alive only to a small still voice that whispered to her heart the
dream which was to decide their destinies. She slept perhaps--but he
waked rid watched; and night wore away, as now praying, now entranced by
alternating hope and fear, he sat in his boat, his eyes fixed on the
white garb of the slumberer above.

Morning--was it morning that struggled in the clouds? Would morning ever
come to waken her? And had she slept? and what dreams of weal or woe had
peopled her sleep? Gaspar grew impatient. He commanded his boatmen still
to wait, and he sprang forward, intent on clambering the precipice. In
vain they urged the danger, nay, the impossibility of the attempt; he
clung to the rugged face of the hill, and found footing where it would
seem no footing was. The acclivity, indeed, was not high; the dangers of
St Catherine's bed arising from the likelihood that any one who slept on
so narrow a couch would be precipitated into the waters beneath. Up the
steep ascent Gaspar continued to toil, and at last reached the roots of
a tree that grew near the summit. Aided by its branches, he made good
his stand at the very extremity of the ledge, near the pillow on which
lay the uncovered head of his beloved. Her hands were folded on her
bosom; her dark hair fell round her throat and pillowed her cheek; her
face was serene: sleep was there in all its innocence and in all its
helplessness; every wilder emotion was hushed, and her bosom heaved in
regular breathing. He could see her heart beat as it lifted her fair
hands crossed above. No statue hewn of marble in monumental effigy was
ever half so fair; and within that surpassing form dwelt a soul true,
tender, self-devoted, and affectionate as ever warmed a human breast.

With what deep passion did Gaspar gaze, gathering hope from the
placidity of her angel countenance! A smile wreathed her lips, and he
too involuntarily smiled, as he hailed the happy omen; when suddenly her
cheek was flushed, her bosom heaved, a tear stole from her dark lashes,
and then a whole shower fell, as starting up she cried, 'No!--he shall
not die!--I will unloose his chains!--I will save him!' Gaspar's hand
was there. He caught her light form ready to fall from the perilous
couch. She opened her eyes and beheld her lover, who had watched over
her dream of fate, and who had saved her.

Manon also had slept well, dreaming or not, and was startled in the
morning to find that she waked surrounded by a crowd. The little
desolate chapel was hung with tapestry, the altar adorned with golden
chalices--the priest was chanting mass to a goodly array of kneeling
knights. Manon saw that King Henry was there; and she looked for another
whom she found not, when the iron door of the cavern passage opened, and
Gaspar de Vaudemont entered from it, leading the fair form of Constance;
who, in her white robes and dark dishevelled hair, with a face in which
smiles and blushes contended with deeper emotion, approached the altar,
and, kneeling with her lover, pronounced the vows that united them for

It was long before the happy Gaspar could win from his lady the secret
of her dream. In spite of the happiness she now enjoyed, she had
suffered too much not to look back even with terror to those days when
she thought love a crime, and every event connected with them wore an
awful aspect. 'Many a vision,' she said, 'she had that fearful night.
She had seen the spirits of her father and brothers in Paradise; she had
beheld Gaspar victoriously combating among the infidels; she had beheld
him in King Henry's court, favoured and beloved; and she herself--now
pining in a cloister, now a bride, now grateful to Heaven for the full
measure of bliss presented to her, now weeping away her sad days--till
suddenly she thought herself in Paynim land; and the saint herself, St
Catherine, guiding her unseen through the city of the infidels. She
entered a palace, and beheld the miscreants rejoicing in victory; and
then, descending to the dungeons beneath, they groped their way through
damp vaults, and low, mildewed passages, to one cell, darker more
frightful than the rest. On the floor lay one with soiled tattered
garments, with unkempt locks and wild, matted beard. His cheek was worn
and thin; his eyes had lost their fire; his form was a mere skeleton;
the chains hung loosely on the fleshless bones.'

'And was it my appearance in that attractive state and winning costume
that softened the hard heart of Constance?' asked Gaspar, smiling at
this painting of what would never be.

'Even so,' replied Constance; 'for my heart whispered me that this was
my doing; and who could recall the life that waned in your pulses--who
restore, save the destroyer? My heart never warmed to my living, happy
knight as then it did to his wasted image as it lay, in the visions of
night, at my feet. A veil fell from my eyes; a darkness was dispelled
from before me. Methought I then knew for the first time what life and
what death was. I was bid believe that to make the living happy was not
to injure the dead; and I felt how wicked and how vain was that false
philosophy which placed virtue and good in hatred, and unkindness. You
should not die; I would loosen your chains and save you, and bid you
live for love. I sprang forward, and the death I deprecated for you
would, in my presumption, have been mine,--then, when first I felt the
real value of life,--but that your arm was there to save me, your dear
voice to bid me be blest for evermore.'


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