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Title: St Irvyne
Author: Percy Bysshe Shelley
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0606391.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: August 2006
Date most recently updated: August 2006

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St. Irvyne; or, The Rosicrucian
Percy Bysshe Shelley






CHAPTER. I.



Red thunder-clouds, borne on the wings of the midnight whirlwind,
floated, at fits, athwart the crimson-coloured orbit of the moon; the
rising fierceness of the blast sighed through the stunted shrubs,
which, bending before its violence, inclined towards the rocks whereon
they grew: over the blackened expanse of heaven, at intervals, was
spread the blue lightning's flash; it played upon the granite heights,
and, with momentary brilliancy, disclosed the terrific scenery of the
Alps, whose gigantic and mishapen summits, reddened by the transitory
moon-beam, were crossed by black fleeting fragments of the tempest-
clouds. The rain, in big drops, began to descend, and the thunder-
peals, with louder and more deafening crash, to shake the zenith, till
the long-protracted war, echoing from cavern to cavern, died, in
indistinct murmurs, amidst the far-extended chain of mountains. In
this scene, then, at this horrible and tempestuous hour, without one
existent earthy being whom he might claim as friend, without one
resource to which he might fly as an asylum from the horrors of
neglect and poverty, stood Wolfstein;--he gazed upon the conflicting
elements; his youthful figure reclined against a jutting granite rock;
he cursed his wayward destiny, and implored the Almighty of Heaven to
permit the thunderbolt, with crash terrific and exterminating, to
descend upon his head, that a being useless to himself and to society
might no longer, by his existence, mock Him whone'er made aught in
vain. "And what so horrible crimes have I committed," exclaimed
Wolfstein, driven to impiety by desperation, "what crimes which merit
punishment like this? What, what is death?--Ah, dissolution! thy pang
is blunted by the hard hand of long-protracted suffering--suffering
unspeakable, indescribable!" As thus he spoke, a more terrific
paroxysm of excessive despair revelled through every vein; his brain
swam around in wild confusion, and, rendered delirious by excess of
misery, he started from his flinty seat, and swiftly hastened towards
the precipice, which yawned widely beneath his feet. "For what then
should I longer drag on the galling chain of existence?" cried
Wolfstein; and his impious expression was borne onwards by the hot and
sulphurous thunder-blast.

The midnight meteors danced above the gulf upon which Wolfstein
wistfully gazed. Palpable, impenetrable darkness seemed to hang upon
it; impenetrable even by the flaming thunderbolt. "Into this then
shall I plunge myself?" soliloquized the wretched outcast, "and by one
rash act endanger, perhaps, eternal happiness;--deliver myself up,
perhaps, to the anticipation and experience of never-ending torments?
Art thou the God then, the Creator of the universe, whom canting monks
call the God of mercy and forgiveness, and sufferest thou thy
creatures to become the victims of tortures such as fate has inflicted
on me?--Oh! God, take my soul; why should I longer live?" Thus having
spoken, he sank on the rocky bosom of the mountains. Yet, unheeding
the exclamations of the maddened Wolfstein, fiercer raged the tempest.
The battling elements, in wild confusion, seemed to threaten nature's
dissolution; the ferocious thunderbolt, with impetuous violence,
danced upon the mountains, and, collecting more terrific strength,
severed gigantic rocks from their else eternal basements; the masses,
with sound more frightful than the bursting thunder-peal, dashed
towards the valley below. Horror and desolation marked their track.
The mountain-rills, swoln by the waters of the sky, dashed with direr
impetuosity from the Alpine summits; their foaming waters were hidden
in the darkness of midnight, or only became visible when the momentary
scintillations of the lightning rested on their whitened waves.
Fiercer still than nature's wildest uproar were the feelings of
Wolfstein's bosom; his frame, at last, conquered by the conflicting
passions of his soul, no longer was adequate to sustain the unequal
contest, but sank to the earth. His brain swam wildly, and he lay
entranced in total insensibility.

What torches are those that dispel the distant darkness of midnight,
and gleam, like meteors, athwart the blackness of the tempest? They
throw a wavering light over the thickness of the storm: they wind
along the mountains: they pass the hollow vallies. Hark! the howling
of the blast has ceased,--the thunderbolts have dispersed, but yet
reigns darkness. Distant sounds of song are borne on the breeze: the
sounds approach. A low bier holds the remains of one whose soul is
floating in the regions of eternity: a black pall covers him. Monks
support the lifeless clay: others precede, bearing torches, and
chanting a requiem for the salvation of the departed one. They hasten
towards the convent of the valley, there to deposit the lifeless limbs
of one who has explored the frightful path of eternity before them.
And now they had arrived where lay Wolfstein: "Alas!" said one of the
monks, "there reclines a wretched traveller. He is dead; murdered,
doubtlessly, by the fell bandits who infest these wild recesses."

They raised from the earth his form: yet his bosom throbbed with the
tide of life: returning animation once more illumed his eye: he
started on his feet, and wildly inquired why they had awakened him
from that slumber which he had hoped to have been eternal. Unconnected
were his expressions, strange and impetuous the fire darting from his
restless eyeballs. At length, the monks succeeded in calming the
desperate tumultuousness of his bosom, calming at least in some
degree; for he accepted their proffered tenders of a lodging, and
essayed to lull to sleep, for a while, the horrible idea of
dereliction which pressed upon his loaded brain.

While thus they stood, loud shouts rent the air, and, before Wolfstein
and the monks could well collect their scattered faculties, they found
that a troop of Alpine bandits had surrounded them. Trembling, from
apprehension, the monks fled every way. None, however, could escape.
"What! old greybeards," cried one of the robbers, "do you suppose that
we will permit you to evade us: you who feed upon the strength of the
country, in idleness and luxury, and have compelled many of our noble
fellows, who otherwise would have been ornaments to their country in
peace, thunderbolts to their enemies in war, to seek precarious
subsistence as Alpine bandits? If you wish for mercy, therefore,
deliver unhesitatingly your joint riches." The robbers then despoiled
the monks of whatever they might adventitiously have taken with them,
and, turning to Wolfstein, the apparent chieftain told him to yield
his money likewise. Unappalled, Wolfstein advanced towards him. The
chief held a torch; its red beams disclosed the expression of stern
severity and unyielding loftiness which sate upon the brow of
Wolfstein. "Bandit!" he answered fearlessly, "I have none,--no
money--no hope--no friends; nor do I care for existence! Now judge if
such a man be a fit victim for fear! No! I never trembled!"

A ray of pleasure gleamed in the countenance of the bandit as
Wolfstein spoke. Grief, in inerasible traces, sate deeply implanted on
the front of the outcast. At last, the chief, advancing to Wolfstein,
who stood at some little distance, said, "My companions think that so
noble a fellow as you appear to be, would be no unworthy member of our
society; and, by Heaven, I am of their opinion. Are you willing to
become one of us?"

Wolfstein's dark gaze was fixed upon the grounds his contracted
eyebrow evinced deep thought: he started from his reverie, and,
without hesitation, consented to their proposal.

Long was it past the hour of midnight when the banditti troop, with
their newly-acquired associate, advanced along the pathless Alps. The
red glare of the torches which each held, tinged the rocks and pine-
trees, through woods of which they occasionally passed, and alone
dissipated the darkness of night. Now had they arrived at the summit
of a wild and rocky precipice, but the base indeed of another which
mingled its far-seen and gigantic outline with the clouds of heaven. A
door, which before had appeared part of the solid rock, flew open at
the chieftain's touch, and the whole party advanced into the spacious
cavern. Over the walls of the lengthened passages putrefaction had
spread a bluish clamminess; damps hung around, and, at intervals,
almost extinguished the torches, whose glare was scarcely sufficient
to dissipate the impenetrable obscurity. After many devious windings
they advanced into the body of the cavern: it was spacious and lofty.
A blazing wood fire threw its dubious rays upon the mishapen and ill-
carved walls. Lamps suspended from the roof, dispersed the
subterranean gloom, not so completely however, but that ill-defined
shades lurked in the arched distances, whose hollow recesses led to
different apartments.

The gang had sate down in the midst of the cavern to supper, which a
female, whose former loveliness had left scarce any traces on her
cheek, had prepared. The most exquisite and expensive wines apologized
for the rusticity of the rest of the entertainment, and induced
freedom of conversation, and wild boisterous merriment, which reigned
until the bandits, overcome by the fumes of the wine which they had
drank, sank to sleep. Wolfstein, left again to solitude and silence,
reclining on his mat in a corner of the cavern, retraced, in mental,
sorrowing review, the past events of his life: ah! that eventful
existence whose fate had dragged the heir of a wealthy potentate in
Germany from the lap of luxury and indulgence, to become a vile
associate of viler bandits, in the wild and trackless deserts of the
Alps. Around their dwelling, lofty inaccessible acclivities reared
their barren summits; they echoed to no sound save the wild hoot of
the night-raven, or the impatient yelling of the vulture, which
hovered on the blast in quest of scanty sustenance. These were the
scenes without: noisy revelry and tumultuous riot reigned within. The
mirth of the bandits appeared to arise independently of themselves:
their hearts were void and dreary. Wolfstein's limbs pillowed on the
flinty bosom of the earth: those limbs which had been wont to recline
on the softest, the most luxurious sofas. Driven from his native
country by an event which imposed upon him an insuperable barrier to
ever again returning thither, possessing no friends, not having one
single resource from which he might obtain support, where could the
wretch, the exile, seek for an asylum but with those whose fortunes,
expectations, and characters were desperate, and marked as darkly, by
fate, as his own?

Time fled, and each succeeding day inured Wolfstein more and more to
the idea of depriving his fellow-creatures of their possessions. In a
short space of time the high-souled and noble Wolfstein, though still
high-souled and noble, became an experienced bandit. His magnanimity
and courage, even whilst surrounded by the most threatening dangers,
and the unappalled expression of countenance with which he defied the
dart of death, endeared him to the robbers: whilst with him they all
asserted that they felt, as it were, instinctively impelled to deeds
of horror and danger, which, otherwise, must have remained unattempted
even by the boldest. His was every daring expedition, his the scheme
which demanded depth of judgment and promptness of execution. Often,
whilst at midnight the band lurked perhaps beneath the overhanging
rocks, which were gloomily impended above them, in the midst, perhaps,
of one of those horrible tempests whereby the air, in those Alpine
regions, is so frequently convulsed, would the countenance of the
bandits betray some slight shade of alarm and awe; but that of
Wolfstein was fixed, unchanged, by any variation of scenery or action.
One day it was when the chief communicated to the banditti, notice
which he had received by means of spies, that an Italian Count of
immense wealth was journeying from Paris to his native country, and,
at a late hour the following evening, would pass the Alps near this
place; "They have but few attendants," added he, "and those few will
not come this way; the postillion is in our interest, and the horses
are to be overcome with fatigue when they approach the destined spot:
you understand."

The evening came. "I," said Wolfstein, "will roam into the country,
but will return before the arrival of our wealthy victim." Thus
saying, he left the cavern, and wandered out amidst the mountains.

It was autumn. The mountain-tops, the scattered oaks which
occasionally waved their lightning-blasted heads on the summits of the
far-seen piles of rock, were gilded by the setting glory of the sun;
the trees, yellowed by the waning year, reflected a glowing teint from
their thick foliage; and the dark pine-groves which were stretched
half way up the mountain sides, added a more deepened gloom to the
shades of evening, which already began to gather rapidly above the
scenery.

It was at this dark and silent hour, that Wolfstein, unheeding the
surrounding objects,--objects which might have touched with awe, or
heightened to devotion, any other breast,--wandered alone--pensively
he wandered--dark images for futurity possessed his soul: he
shuddered when he reflected upon what had passed; nor was his present
situation calculated to satisfy a mind eagerly panting for liberty and
independence. Conscience too, awakened conscience, upbraided him for
the life which he had selected, and, with silent whisperings, stung
his soul to madness. Oppressed by thoughts such as these, Wolfstein
yet proceeded, forgetful that he was to return before the arrival of
their destined victim--forgetful indeed was he of every external
existence; and absorbed in himself, with arms folded, and eyes fixed
upon the earth, he yet advanced. At last he sank on a mossy bank, and,
guided by the impulse of the moment, inscribed on a tablet the
following lines; for the inaccuracy of which, the perturbation of him
who wrote them, may account; he thought of past times while he marked
the paper with--

"'T was dead of the night, when I sat in my dwelling;
One glimmering lamp was expiring and low;
Around, the dark tide of the tempest was swelling.
Along the wild mountains night-ravens were yelling,--
They bodingly presag'd destruction and woe.
'T was then that I started!--the wild storm was howling.
Nought was seen, save the lightning, which danc'd in the sky;
Above me, the crash of the thunder was rolling.
And low, chilling murmurs, the blast wafted by.
My heart sank within me--unheeded the war
Of the battling clouds, on the mountain-tops, broke;--
Unheeded the thunder-peal crash'd in mine ear--
This heart, hard as iron, is stranger to fear;
But conscience in low, noiseless whispering spoke.
'T was then that her form on the whirlwind upholding.
The ghost of the murder'd Victoria strode;
In her right hand, a shadowy shroud she was holding.
She swiftly advanc'd to my lonesome abode.
I wildly then call'd on the tempest to bear me--"

Overcome by the wild retrospection of ideal horror, which these
swiftly-written lines excited in his soul, Wolfstein tore the paper,
on which he had written them, to pieces, and scattered them about him.
He arose from his recumbent posture, and again advanced through the
forest. Not far had he proceeded, ere a mingled murmur broke upon the
silence of night--it was the sound of human voices. An event so
unusual in these solitudes, excited Wolfstein's momentary surprise; he
started, and looking around him, essayed to discover whence those
sounds proceeded.--What was the astonishment of Wolfstein, when he
found that a detached party, who had been sent in pursuit of the
Count, had actually overtaken him, and, at this instant, were dragging
from the carriage the almost lifeless form of a female, whose light
symmetrical figure, as it leant on the muscular frame of the robber
who supported it, afforded a most striking contrast.--They had, before
his arrival, plundered the Count of all his riches, and, enraged at
the spirited defence which he had made, had inhumanly murdered him,
and cast his lifeless body adown the yawning precipice. Transfixed by
a jutting point of granite rock, it remained there to be devoured by
the ravens. Wolfstein joined the banditti: and, although he could not
recall the deed, lamented the wanton cruelty which had been practised
upon the Count. As for the female, whose grace and loveliness made so
strong an impression upon him, he demanded that every soothing
attention should be paid to her, and his desire was enforced by the
commands of the chief, whose dark eye wandered wildly over the
beauties of the lovely Megalena de Metastasio, as if he had secretly
destined them for himself.

At last they arrived at the cavern; every resource which the cavern of
a gang of lawless and desperate villains might afford, was brought
forward to restore the fainted Megalena to life: she soon recovered--
she slowly opened her eyes, and started with surprise to behold
herself surrounded by a rough set of desperadoes, and the gloomy walls
of the cavern, upon which darkness hung, awfully visible. Near her
sate a female, whose darkened expression of countenance seemed
perfectly to correspond with the horror prevalent throughout the
cavern; her face, though bearing the marks of an undeniable expression
of familiarity with wretchedness, had some slight remains of beauty.

It was long past midnight when each of the robbers withdrew to repose.
But his mind was too much occupied by the events of the evening to
allow the unhappy Wolfstein to find quiet;--at an early hour he arose
from his sleepless couch, to inhale the morning breeze. The sun had
but just risen; the scene was beautiful; every thing was still, and
seemed to favour that reflection, which even propinquity to his
abandoned associates imposed no indefinably insuperable bar to. In
spite of his attempts to think upon other subjects, the image of the
fair Megalena floated in his mind. Her loveliness had made too deep an
impression on it to be easily removed; and the hapless Wolfstein, ever
the victim of impulsive feeling, found himself bound to her by ties,
more lasting than he had now conceived the transitory tyranny of woe
could have imposed. For never had Wolfstein beheld so singularly
beautiful a form;--her figure cast in the mould of most exact
symmetry; her blue and love-beaming eyes, from which occasionally
emanated a wild expression, seemingly almost superhuman; and the
auburn hair which hung in unconfined tresses down her damask cheek--
formed a resistless tout ensemble.

Heedless of every external object, Wolfstein long wandered.--The
protracted sound of the bandits' horn struck at last upon his ear, and
aroused him from his reverie. On his return to the cavern, the robbers
were assembled at their meal; the chief regarded him with marked and
jealous surprise as he entered, but made no remark. They then
discussed their uninteresting and monotonous topics, and the meal
being ended, each villain departed on his different business.

Megalena, finding herself alone with Agnes (the only woman, save
herself, who was in the cavern, and who served as an attendant on the
robbers), essayed, by the most humble entreaties and supplications, to
excite pity in her breast: she conjured her to explain the cause for
which she was thus imprisoned, and wildly inquired for her father. The
guilt-bronzed brow of Agnes was contracted by a sullen and malicious
frown: it was the only reply which the inhuman female deigned to
return. After a pause, however, she said, "Thou thinkest thyself my
superior, proud girl; but time may render us equals.--Submit to that,
and you may live on the same terms as I do."

There appeared to lurk a meaning in these words, which Megalena found
herself incompetent to develope; she answered not, therefore, and
suffered Agnes to depart unquestioned. The wretched Megalena, a prey
to despair and terror, endeavoured to revolve in her mind the events
which had brought her to this spot, but an unconnected stream of ideas
pressed upon her brain. The sole light in her cell was that of a
dismal lamp, which, by its uncertain flickering, only dissipated the
almost palpable obscurity, in a sufficient degree more assuredly to
point out the circumambient horrors. She gazed wistfully around, to
see if there were any outlet; none there was, save the door whereby
Agnes had entered, which was strongly barred on the outside. In
despair she threw herself on the wretched pallet.--"For what cause,
then, am I thus entombed alive?" soliloquized the hapless Megalena;
"would it not be preferable at once to annihilate the spark of life
which burns but faintly within my bosom?--O my father! where art thou?
Thy tombless corse, perhaps, is torn into a thousand pieces by the
fury of the mountain cataract.--Little didst thou presage misfortunes
such as these!--little didst thou suppose that our last journey would
have caused thy immature dissolution--my infamy and misery, not to end
but with my hapless existence!--Here there is none to comfort me, none
to participate my miseries!" Thus speaking, overcome by a paroxysm of
emotion, she sank on the bed, and bedewed her fair face with tears.

Whilst, oppressed by painful retrospection, the outcast orphan was yet
kneeling, Agnes entered, and, not evn noticing her distress, bade her
prepare to come to the banquet where the troop of bandits was
assembled. In silence, along the vaulted and gloomy passages, she
followed her conductress, from whose stern and forbidding gaze her
nature shrunk back enhorrored, till they reached that apartment of the
cavern where the revelry waited but for her arrival to commence. On
her entering, Cavigni, the chief, led her to a seat on his right hand,
and paid her every attention which his froward nature could stoop to
exercise towards a female: she received his civilities with apparent
complacency; but her eye was frequently fascinated, as it were,
towards the youthful Wolfstein, who had caught her attention the
evening before. His countenance, spite of the shade of woe with which
the hard hand of suffering had marked it, was engaging and beautiful;
not that beauty which may be freely acknowledged, but inwardly
confessed by every beholder with sensations penetrating and
resistless; his figure majestic and lofty, and the fire which flashed
from his expressive eye, indefinably to herself, penetrated the inmost
soul of the isolated Megalena. Wolfstein regarded Cavigni with
indignation and envy; and, though almost ignorant himself of the
dreadful purpose of his soul, resolved in his own mind an horrible
deed. Cavigni was enraptured with the beauty of Megalena, and secretly
vowed that no paius should be spared to gain to himself the possession
of an object so lovely. The anticipated delight of gratified
voluptuousness revelled in every vein, as he gazed upon her; his eye
flashed with a triumphant expression of lawless love, yet he
determined to defer the hour of his happiness till he might enjoy more
free, unrestrained delight, with his adored fair one. She gazed on the
chief, however, with an ill-concealed aversion; his dark expression of
countenance, the haughty severity, and contemptuous frown, which
habitually sate on his brow, invited not, but rather repelled a
reciprocality of affection, which the haughty chief, after his own
attachment, entertained not the most distant doubt of. He was,
notwithstanding, conscious of her coldness, but attributing it to
virgin modesty, or to the novel situation into which she had suddenly
been thrown, paid her every attention; nor did he omit to promise her
every little comfort which might induce her to regard him with esteem.
Still, though veiled beneath the most artful dissimulation, did the
fair Megalena pant ardently for liberty--for, oh! liberty is sweet,
sweeter even than all the other pleasures of life, to full satiety,
without it.

Cavigni essayed, by every art, to gain her over to his desires; but
Megalena, regarding him with aversion, answered with an haughtiness
which she was unable to conceal, and which his proud spirit might ill
brook. Cavigni could not disguise the vexation which he felt, when,
increased by resistance, Megalena's dislike towards him remained no
longer a secret: "Megalena," said he, at last, "fair girl, thou shalt
be mine--we will be wedded tomorrow, if you think the bands of love
not sufficiently forcible to unite us."

"No bands shall ever unite me to you!" exclaimed Megalena. "Even
though the grave were to yawn beneath my feet, I would willingly
precipitate myself into its gulf, if the alternative of that, or an
union with you, were proposed to me."

Rage swelled Cavigni's bosom almost to bursting--the conflicting
passions of his soul were too tumultuous for utterance;--in an
hurried tone, he commanded Agnes to show Megalena to her cell: she
obeyed, and they both quitted the apartment.

Wolfstein's soul, sublimed by the most infuriate paroxysms of
contending emotions, battled wildly. His countenance retained,
however, but one expression,--it was of dark and deliberate revenge.
His stern eye was fixed upon Cavigni;--he decided at this instant to
perpetrate the deed he had resolved on. Leaving his seat, he intimated
his intention of quitting the cavern for an instant.

Cavigni had just filled his goblet--Wolfstein, as he passed,
dexterously threw a little white powder into the wine of the chief.

When Wolfstein returned, Cavigni had not yet quaffed the deadly
draught: rising, therefore, he exclaimed aloud, "Fill your goblets,
all." Every one obeyed, and sat in expectation of the toast which he
was about to propose.

"Let us drink," he exclaimed, "to the health of the chieftain's
bride--let us drink to their mutual happiness." A smile of pleasure
irradiated the countenance of the chief:--that he whom he had supposed
to be a dangerous rival, should thus publicly forego any claim to the
affections of Megalena, was indeed pleasure.

"Health and mutual happiness to the chieftain and his bride!" re-
echoed from every part of the table.

Cavigni raised the goblet to his lips: he was about to quaff the tide
of death, when Ginotti, one of the robbers, who sat next to him,
upreared his arm, and dashed the cup of destruction to the earth. A
silence, as if in expectation of some terrible event, reigned
throughout the cavern.

Wolfstein turned his eyes towards the chief;--the dark and mysterious
gaze of Ginotti arrested his wandering eyeball; its expression was too
marked to be misunderstood;--he trembled in his inmost soul, but his
countenance yet retained its unchangeable expression. Ginotti spoke
not, nor willed he to assign any reason for his extraordinary conduct;
the circumstance was shortly forgotten, and the revelry went on
undisturbed by any other event.

Ginotti was one of the boldest of the robbers; he was the
distinguished favourite of the chief, and, although mysterious and
reserved, his society was courted with more eagerness, than such
qualities might, abstractedly considered, appear to deserve. None knew
his history--that he concealed within the deepest recesses of his
bosom; nor could the most suppliant entreaties, or threats of the most
horrible punishments, have wrested from him one particular concerning
it. Never had he once thrown off the mysterious mask, beneath which
his character was veiled, since he had become an associate of the
band. In vain the chief required him to assign some reason for his
late extravagant conduct; he said it was mere accident, but with an
air, which more than convinced every one, that something lurked behind
which yet remained unknown. Such, however, was their respect for
Ginotti, that the occurrence passed almost without a comment.

Long now had the hour of midnight gone by, and the bandits had retired
to repose. Wolfstein retired too to his couch, but sleep closed not
his eyelids; his bosom was a scene of the wildest anarchy; the
conflicting passions revelled dreadfully in his burning brain:--love,
maddening, excessive, unaccountable idolatry, as it were, which
possessed him for Megalena, urged him on to the commission of deeds
which conscience represented as beyond measure wicked, and which
Ginotti's glance convinced him were by no means unsuspected. Still so
unbounded was his love for Megalena (madness rather than love), that
it overbalanced every other consideration, and his unappalled soul
resolved to persevere in its determination even to destruction!

Cavigni's commands respecting Megalena had been obeyed:--the door of
her cell was fastened, and the ferocious chief resolved to let her lie
there till the suffering and confinement might subdue her to his will.
Megalena endeavoured, by every means, to soften the obdurate heart of
her attendant; at length, her mildness of manner induced Agnes to
regard her with pity; and before she quitted the cell, they were so
far reconciled to each other, that they entered into a comparison of
their mutual situations; and Agnes was about to relate to Megalena the
circumstances which had brought her to the cavern, when the fierce
Cavigni entered, and, commanding Agnes to withdraw, said, "Well, proud
girl, are you now in a better humour to return the favour with which
your superior regards you?"

"No!" heroically answered Megalena.

"Then," rejoined the chief, "if within four-and-twenty hours you hold
yourself not in readiness to return my love, force shall wrest the
jewel from its casket." Thus having said, he abruptly quitted the
cell.

So far had Wolfstein's proposed toast, at the banquet, gained on the
unsuspecting ferociousness of Cavigni, that he accepted the former's
artful tender of service, in the way of persuasion with Megalena,
supposing, by Wolfstein's manner, that they had been cursorily
acquainted before. Wolfstein, therefore, entered the apartment of
Megalena.

At the sight of him Megalena arose from her recumbent posture, and
hastened joyfully to meet him; for she remembered that Wolfstein had
rescued her from the insults of the banditti, on the eventful evening
which had subjected her to their control.

"Lovely, adored girl," he exclaimed, "short is my time: pardon,
therefore, the abruptness of my address. The chief has sent me to
persuade you to become united to him; but I love you, I adore you to
madness. I am not what I seem. Answer me!--time is short."

An indefinable sensation, unfelt before, swelled through the passion-
quivering frame of Megalena. "Yes, yes," she cried, "I will--I love
you--" At this instant the voice of Cavigni was heard in the passage.
Wolfstein started from his knees, and pressing the fair hand presented
to his lips with exulting ardour, departed hastily to give an account
of his mission to the anxious Cavigni; who restrained himself in the
passage without, and, slightly mistrusting Wolfstein, was about to
advance to the door of the cell to listen to their conversation, when
Wolfstein quitted Megalena.

Megalena, again in solitude, began to reflect upon the scenes which
had been lately acted. She thought upon the words of Wolfstein,
unconscious wherefore they were a balm to her mind: she reclined upon
her wretched pallet. It was now night: her thoughts took a different
turn; the melancholy wind sighing along the crevices of the cavern,
and the dismal sound of rain which pattered fast, inspired mournful
reflection. She thought of her father,--her beloved father;--a
solitary wanderer on the face of the earth; or, most probably, thought
she, his soul rests in death. Horrible idea If the latter, she envied
his fate; if the former, she even supposed it preferable to her
present abode. She again thought of Wolfstein; she pondered on his
last words:--an escape from the cavern: oh delightful idea! Again her
thoughts recurred to her father: tears bedewed her cheeks; she took a
pencil, and, actuated by the feelings of the moment, inscribed on the
wall of her prison these lines:

Ghosts of the dead! have I not heard your yelling
  Rise on the night-rolling breath of the blast.
When o'er the dark ether the tempest is swelling.
  And on eddying whirlwind the thunder-peal past?
For oft have I stood on the dark height of Jura.
  Which frowns on the valley that opens beneath;
Oft have I brav'd the chill night-tempest's fury.
  Whilst around me, I thought, echo'd murmurs of death.
And now, whilst the winds of the mountain are howling.
  O father! thy voice seems to strike on mine ear;
In air whilst the tide of the night-storm is rolling.
  It breaks on the pause of the elements' jar.
On the wing of the whirlwind which roars o'er the mountain
  Perhaps rides the ghost of my sire who is dead;
On the mist of the tempest which hangs o'er the fountain.

Whilst a wreath of dark vapour encircles his head. Here she paused,
and, ashamed of the exuberance of her imagination, obliterated from
the wall the characters which she had traced: the wind still howled
dreadfully: in fearful anticipation of the morrow, she threw herself
on the bed, and, in sleep, forgot the misfortunes which impended over
her.

Meantime, the soul of Wolfstein was disturbed by ten thousand
conflicting passions; revenge and disappointed love agonized his soul
to madness; and he resolved to quench the rude feelings of his bosom
in the blood of his rival. But, again he thought of Ginotti; he
thought of the mysterious intervention which his dark glances proved
not to be accidental. To him it was an inexplicable mystery; which the
more he reflected upon, the less able was he to unravel. He had mixed
the poison, unseen, as he thought, by any one; certainly unseen by
Ginotti, whose back was unconcernedly turned at the time. He planned,
therefore, a second attempt, unawed by what had happened before, for
the destruction of Cavigni, which he resolved to put into execution
this night.

Before he had become an associate with the band of robbers, the
conscience of Wolfstein was clear; clear, at least, from the
commission of any wilful and deliberate crime: for, alas! an event
almost too dreadful for narration, had compelled him to quit his
native country, in indigence and disgrace. His courage was equal to
his wickedness; his mind was unalienable from its purpose; and
whatever his will might determine, his boldness would fearlessly
execute, even though hell and destruction were to yawn beneath his
feet, and essay to turn his unappalled soul from the accomplishment of
his design. Such was the guilty Wolfstein; a disgraceful fugitive from
his country, a vile associate of a band of robbers, and a murderer, at
least in intent, if not in deed. He shrunk not at the commission of
crimes; he was now the hardened villain; eternal damnation, tortures
inconceivable on earth, awaited him. "Foolish, degrading idea!" he
exclaimed, as it momentarily glanced through his mind; "am I worthy of
the celestial Megalena, if I shrink at the price which it is necessary
I should pay for her possession?" This idea banished every other
feeling from his heart; and, smothering the stings of conscience, a
decided resolve of murder took possession of him--the determining,
within himself, to destroy the very man who had given him an asylum,
when driven to madness by the horrors of neglect and poverty. He stood
in the night-storm on the mountains; he cursed the intervention of
Ginotti, and secretly swore that nor heaven nor hell again should dash
the goblet of destruction from the mouth of the detested Cavigni. The
soul of Wolfstein too, insatiable in its desires, and panting for
liberty, ill could brook the confinement of idea, which the cavern of
the bandits must necessarily induce. He longed again to try his
fortune; he longed to re-enter that world which he had never tried but
once, and that indeed for a short time; sufficiently long, however, to
blast his blooming hopes, and to graft on the stock, which otherwise
might have produeed virtue, the fatal seeds of vice.



CHAPTER. II.



The fiends of fate are heard to rave.
And the death-angel flaps his broad wing o'er the wave.

It was midnight; and all the robbers were assembled in the banquet-
hall, amongst whom, bearing in his bosom a weight of premeditated
crime, was Wolfstein; he sat by the chief. They discoursed on
indifferent subjects; the sparkling goblet went round; loud laughter
succeeded. The ruffians were rejoicing over some plunder which they
had taken from a traveller, whom they had robbed of immense wealth;
they had left his body a prey to the vultures of the mountains. The
table groaned with the pressure of the feast. Hilarity reigned around:
reiterated were the shouts of merriment and joy; if such could exist
in a cavern of robbers.

It was long past midnight: another hour, and Megalena must be
Cavigni's. This idea rendered Wolfstein callous to every sting of
conscience; and he eagerly awaited an opportunity when he might,
unperceived, infuse poison into the goblet of one who confided in him.
Ginotti sat opposite to Wolfstein: his arms were folded, and his gaze
rested fixedly upon the fearless countenance of the murderer.
Wolfstein shuddered when he beheld the brow of the mysterious Ginotti
contracted, his marked features wrapped in inexplicable mystery.

All were now heated by wine, save the wily villain who destined
murder; and the awe-inspiring Ginotti, whose reservedness and mystery,
not even the hilarity of the present hour could dispel.

Conversation appearing to flag, Cavigni exclaimed, "Steindolph, you
know some old German stories; cannot you tell one, to deceive the
lagging hours?"

Steindolph was famed for his knowledge of metrical spectre tales, and
the gang were frequently wont to hang delighted on the ghostly wonders
which he related.

"Excuse, then, the mode of my telling it," said Steindolph, "and I
will with pleasure. I learnt it whilst in Germany; my old grandmother
taught it me, and I can repeat it as a ballad."--"Do, do," re-echoed
from every part of the cavern.--Steindolph thus began:

BALLAD.

I.

  The death-bell beats!--
  The mountain repeats
The echoing sound of the knell;
  And the dark monk now
  Wraps the cowl round his brow.
As he sits in his lonely cell.

II.

  And the cold hand of death
  Chills his shuddering breath.
As he lists to the fearful lay
  Which the ghosts of the sky.
  As they sweep wildly by.
Sing to departed day.
  And they sing of the hour
  When the stern fates had power
To resolve Rosa's form to its clay.

III.

  But that hour is past;
  And that hour was the last
Of peace to the dark monk's brain.
  Bitter tears, from his eyes, gush'd silent and fast;
And he strove to suppress them in vain.

IV.

  Then his fair cross of gold he dash'd on the floor.
When the death-knell struck on his ear.  Delight is in store
  For her evermore;
But for me is fate, horror, and fear.

V.

  Then his eyes wildly roll'd.
  When the death-bell toll'd.
And he rag'd in terrific woe.
  And he stamp'd on the ground,--
  But when ceas'd the sound.
Tears again began to flow.

VI.

  And the ice of despair
  Chill'd the wild throb of care.
And he sate in mute agony still;
  Till the night-stars shone through the cloudless air.
And the pale moon-beam slept on the hill.

VII.

  Then he knelt in his cell:--
  And the horrors of hell
Were delights to his agoniz'd pain.
  And he pray'd to God to dissolve the spell.
Which else must for ever remain.

VIII.

And in fervent pray'r he knelt on the ground.
  Till the abbey bell struck One:
His feverish blood ran chill at the sound:
A voice hollow and horrible murmur'd around--
  "The term of thy penance is done!"

IX.

  Grew dark the night;
  The moon-beam bright
Wax'd faint on the mountain high;
  And, from the black hill.
  Went a voice cold and still,--
"Monk! thou art free to die."

X.

  Then he rose on his feet.
  And his heart loud did beat.
And his limbs they were palsied with dread;
  Whilst the grave's clammy dew
  O'er his pale forehead grew;
And he shudder'd to sleep with the dead.

XI.

  And the wild midnight storm
  Rav'd around his tall form.
As he sought the chapel's gloom:
  And the sunk grass did sigh
  To the wind, bleak and high.
As he search'd for the new-made tomb.

XII.

  And forms, dark and high.
  Seem'd around him to fly.
And mingle their yells with the blast:
  And on the dark wall
  Half-seen shadows did fall.
As enhorror'd he onward pass'd.

XIII.

  And the storm-fiend's wild rave
  O'er the new-made grave.
And dread shadows, linger around.
  The Monk call'd on God his soul to save.
And, in horror, sank on the ground.

XIV.

  Then despair nerv'd his arm
  To dispel the charm.
And he burst Rosa's coffin asunder.
  And the fierce storm did swell
  More terrific and fell.
And louder peal'd the thunder.

XV.

  And laugh'd, in joy, the fiendish throng.
  Mix'd with ghosts of the mouldering dead:
And their grisly wings, as they floated along.
  Whistled in murmurs dread.

XVI.

And her skeleton form the dead Nun rear'd.
  Which dripp'd with the chill dew of hell.
In her half-eaten eyeballs two pale flames appear'd.
And triumphant their gleam on the dark Monk glar'd.
  As he stood within the cell.

XVII.

And her lank hand lay on his shuddering brain;
  But each power was nerv'd by fear.--
  "I never, henceforth, may breathe again;
Death now ends mine anguish'd pain.--
  The grave yawns,--we meet there."

XVIII.

And her skeleton lungs did utter the sound.
  So deadly, so lone, and so fell.
That in long vibrations shudder'd the ground;
And as the stern notes floated around.
  A deep groan was answer'd from hell.

As Steindolph concluded, an universal shout of applause echoed through
the cavern. Every one had been so attentive to the recitation of the
robber, that no opportunity of perpetrating his resolve had appeared
to Wolfstein. Now all again was revelry and riot, and the wily
designer eagerly watched for the instant when universal confusion
might favour his attempt to drop, unobserved, the powder into the
goblet of the chief. With a gaze of insidious and malignant revenge
was the eye of Wolfstein fixed upon the chieftain's countenance.
Cavigni perceived it not; for he was heated with wine, or the unusual
expression of his associate's face must have awakened suspicion, or
excited remark. Yet was Ginotti's gaze fixed upon Wolfstein, who, like
a sanguinary and remorseless ruffian, sat expectantly waiting the
instant of death. The goblet passed round:--at the moment when
Wolfstein mingled the poison with Cavigni's wine, the eyes of Ginotti,
which before had regarded him with the most dazzling scrutiny, were
intentionally turned away: he then arose from the table, and,
complaining of sudden indisposition, retired. Cavigni raised the
goblet to his lips--

"Now, my brave fellows," he exclaimed, "the hour is late; but before
we retire, I here drink success and health to every one of you."

Wolfstein involuntarily shuddered.--Cavigni quaffed the liquor to the
dregs!--the cup fell from his trembling hand. The chill dew of death
sat upon his forehead: in terrific convulsion he fell headlong; and,
inarticulately uttering "I am poisoned," sank seemingly lifeless on
the earth. Sixty robbers at once rushed forward to raise him; and,
reclining in their arms, with an horrible and harrowing shriek, the
spark of life fled from his body for ever. A robber, skilled in
surgery, opened a vein; but no blood followed the touch of the
lancet.--Wolfstein advanced to the body, unappalled by the crime
which he had committed, and tore aside the vest from its bosom: that
bosom was discoloured by large spots of livid purple, which, by their
premature appearance, declared the poison which had been used to
destroy him, to be excessively powerful.

Every one regretted the death of the brave Cavigni; every one was
surprised at the mode of his death: and, by his abruptly quitting the
apartment, the suspicion fell upon Ginotti, who was consequently sent
for by Ardolph, a robber whom they had chosen chieftain, Wolfstein
having declined the proffered distinction.

Ginotti arrived.--His stern countenance was changed not by the
execrations showered on him by every one. He yet remained unmoved, and
apparently careless what sentiments others might entertain of him: he
deigned not even to deny the charge. This coolness seemed to have
convinced every one, the new chief in particular, of his innocence.

"Let every one," said Ardolph, "be searched; and if his pockets
contain poison which could have effected this, let him die." This
method was universally applauded. As soon as the acclamations were
stilled, Wolfstein advanced forwards, and spoke thus:

"Any longer to conceal that it was I who perpetrated the deed, were
useless. Megalena's loveliness inflamed me:--I envied one who was
about to possess it.--I have murdered him!"

Here he was interrupted by the shouts of the bandits; and he was about
to be delivered to death, when Ginotti advanced. His superior and
towering figure inspired awe even in the hearts of the bandits. They
were silent.

"Suffer Wolfstein," he exclaimed, "to depart unhurt. I will answer for
his never publishing our retreat: I will promise that never more shall
you behold him."

Every one submitted to Ginotti: for who could resist the superior
Ginotti? From the gaze of Ginotti Wolfstein's soul shrank, enhorrored,
in confessed inferiority: he who had shrunk not at death, had shrunk
not to avow himself guilty of murder, and had prepared to meet its
reward, started from Ginotti's eye-beam as from the emanation of some
superior and preter-human being.

"Quit the cavern!" said Ginotti.--"May I not remain here until the
morrow?" inquired Wolfstein.--"If tomorrow's rising sun finds you in
this cavern," returned Ginotti, "I must deliver you up to the
vengeance of those whom you have injured."

Wolfstein retired to his solitary cell, to retrace, in his mind, the
occurrences of this eventful night. What was he now?--an isolated
wicked wanderer; not a being on earth whom he could call a friend, and
carrying with him that never-dying tormentor--conscience. In half-
waking dreams passed the night: the ghost of him whom he had so
inhumanly destroyed, seemed to cry for justice at the throne of God;
bleeding, pale, and ghastly, it pressed on his agonized brain; and
confused, inexplicable visions flitted in his imagination, until the
freshness of the morning breeze warned him to depart. He collected
together all those valuables which had fallen to his share as plunder,
during his stay in the cavern: they amounted to a large sum. He rushed
from the cavern; he hesitated,--he knew not whither to fly. He walked
fast, and essayed, by exercise, to smother the feelings of his soul;
but the attempt was fruitless. Not far had he proceeded, ere,
stretched on the earth apparently lifeless, he beheld a female form.
He advanced towards it--it was Megalena!

A tumult of exulting and inconceivable transport rushed through his
veins as he beheld her--her for whom he had plunged into the abyss of
crime. She slept, and, apparently overcome by the fatigues which she
had sustained, her slumber was profound. Her head reclined upon the
jutting root of a tree: the tint of health and loveliness sat upon her
cheek.

When the fair Megalena awakened, and found herself in the arms of
Wolfstein, she started; yet, turning her eyes, she beheld it was no
enemy, and the expression of terror gave way to pleasure. In the
general confusion had Megalena escaped from the abode of the bandits.
The destinies of Wolfstein and Megalena were assimilated by similarity
of situations; and, before they quitted the spot, so far had this
reciprocal feeling prevailed, that they swore mutual affection.
Megalena then related her escape from the cavern, and showed Wolfstein
jewels, to an immense amount, which she had secreted.

"At all events, then," said Wolfstein, "we may defy poverty; for I
have about me jewels to the value of ten thousand zechins."

"We will go to Genoa," said Megalena. "We will, my fair one. There,
entirely devoted to each other, we will defy the darts of misery."

Megalena returned no answer, save a look of else inexpressible love.

It was now the middle of the day; neither Wolfstein nor Megalena had
tasted food since the preceding night; and faint, from fatigue,
Megalena scarce could move onwards. "Courage, my love," said
Wolfstein; "yet a little way, and we shall arrive at a cottage, a sort
of inn, where we may wait until the morrow, and hire mules to carry us
to Placenza, whence we can easily proceed to the goal of our
destination."

Megalena collected her strength: in a short time they arrived at the
cottage, and passed the remainder of the day in plans respecting the
future. Wearied with unusual exertions, Megalena early retired to an
inconvenient bed, which, however, was the best the cottage could
afford; and Wolfstein, lying along the bench by the fireplace,
resigned himself to meditation; for his mind was too much disturbed to
let him sleep.

Although Wolfstein had every reason to rejoice at the success which
had crowned his schemes; although the very event had occurred which
his soul had so much and so eagerly panted for; yet, even now, in
possession of all he held valuable on earth, was he ill at ease.
Remorse for his crimes, tortured him: yet, steeling his conscience, he
essayed to smother the fire which burned within his bosom; to change
the tenour of his thoughts--in vain! he could not. Restless passed the
night, and the middle of the day beheld Wolfstein and Megalena far
from the habitation of the bandits.

They intended, if possible, to reach Breno that night, and thence, on
the following day, to journey towards Genoa. They had descended the
southern acclivity of the Alps. It was now hastening towards spring,
and the whole country began to gleam with the renewed loveliness of
nature. Odoriferous orange-groves scented the air. Myrtles bloomed on
the sides of the gentle eminences which they occasionally ascended.
The face of nature was smiling and gay; so was Megalena's heart: with
exulting and speechless transport it bounded within her bosom. She
gazed on him who possessed her soul; although she felt no inclination
in her bosom to retrace the events, by means of which an obscure
bandit, undefinable to herself, had gained the eternal love of the
former haughty Megalena di Metastasio.

They soon arrived at Breno. Wolfstein dismissed the muleteer, and
conducted Megalena into the interior of the inn, ordering at the same
time a supper. Again were repeated protestations of eternal affection,
avowals of indissoluble love; but it is sufficient to conceive what
cannot be so well described.

It was near midnight; Wolfstein and Megalena sat at supper, and
conversed with that unrestrainedness and gaiety which mutual
confidence inspired, when the door was opened, and the innkeeper
announced the arrival of a man who wished to speak with Wolfstein.

"Tell him," exclaimed Wolfstein, rather surprised, and wishing to
guard against the possibility of danger, "that I will not see him."

The landlord left the room, and, in a short time, returned. A man
accompanied him: he was of gigantic stature, and masked. "He would
take no denial, Signor," said the landlord, in exculpation, as he left
the room.

The stranger advanced to the table at which Wolfstein and Megalena
sat: he threw aside his mask, and disclosed the features of--Ginotti!
Wolfstein's frame became convulsed with involuntary horror: he
started. Megalena was surprised.

Ginotti, at length, broke the terrible silence.

"Wolfstein," he said, "I saved you from, otherwise, inevitable death;
by my means alone have you gained Megalena:--what do I then deserve in
return?" Wolfstein looked on the countenance: it was stern and severe,
yet divested of the terrible expression which had before caused his
frame to shudder with excess of alarm.

"My eternal gratitude," returned Wolfstein, hesitatingly.

"Will you promise, that when, destitute and a wanderer, I demand your
protection, when I beseech you to listen to the tale which I shall
relate, you will listen to me; that, when I am dead, you will bury me,
and suffer my soul to rest in the endless slumber of annihilation?
Then will you repay me for the benefits which I have conferred upon
you."

"I will," replied Wolfstein, "I will perform all that you require."

"Swear it!" exclaimed Ginotti.

"I swear."

Ginotti then abruptly quitted the apartment; the sound of his
footsteps was heard descending the stairs; and, when they were no
longer audible, a weight seemed to have been taken from the breast of
Wolfstein.

"How did that man save your life?" inquired Megalena.

"He was one of our band," replied Wolfstein, evasively, "and, on a
plundering excursion, his pistol-ball entered the heart of the man,
whose sabre, lifted aloft, would else have severed my head from my
body."

"Dear Wolfstein, who are you?--whence came you?--for you were not
always an Alpine bandit?"

"That is true, my adored one; but fate presents an insuperable barrier
to my ever relating the events which occurred previously to my
connexion with the banditti. Dearest Megalena, if you love me, never
question me concerning my past life, but rest satisfied with the
conviction, that my future existence shall be devoted to you, and to
you alone." Megalena felt surprise; but although eagerly desiring to
unravel the mystery in which Wolfstein shrouded himself, desisted from
inquiry.

Ginotti's mysterious visit had made too serious an impression on the
mind of Wolfstein to be lightly erased. In vain he essayed to appear
easy and unembarrassed while he conversed with Megalena. He attempted
to drown thought in wine--but in vain:--Ginotti's strange injunction
pressed, like a load of ice, upon his breast. At last, the hour being
late, they both retired to their respective rooms.

Early on the following morning, Wolfstein arose, to arrange the
necessary preparations for their journey to Genoa; whither he had sent
a servant whom he hired at Breno, to prepare accommodations for their
arrival.--Needless were it minutely to describe each trivial event
which occurred during their journey to Genoa.

On the morning of the fourth day, they found themselves within a short
distance of the city. They determined on the plan which they should
adopt, and, in a short space of time, arriving at Genoa, took up their
residence in a mansion on the outermost extremity of the city.



CHAPTER. III.



Whence, and what art thou, execrable shape.
That dar'st, though grim and terrible, advance
Thy miscreated front athwart my way?
--Paradise Lost.

Time passed; and, settled in their new habitation, Megalena and
Wolfstein appeared to defy the arrows of vengeful destiny.

Wolfstein resolved to allow some time to elapse before he spoke of the
subject nearest to his heart, of herself, to Megalena. One evening,
however, overcome by the passion which, by mutual indulgence, had
become resistless, he cast himself at her feet, and, avowing most
unbounded love, demanded the promised return. A slight spark of virtue
yet burned in the bosom of the wretched girl; she essayed to fly from
temptation; but Wolfstein, seizing her hand, said, "And is my adored
Megalena a victim then to prejudice? Does she believe, that the Being
who created us gave us passions which never were to be satiated? Does
she suppose that Nature created us to become the tormentors of each
other?"

"Ah! Wolfstein," Megalena said tenderly, "rise!--You know too well the
chain which unites me to you is indissoluble; you know that I must be
thine; where, therefore, is there an appeal?"

"To thine own heart, Megalena; for, if my image implanted there is not
sufficiently eloquent to confirm your hesitating soul, I would wish
not for a casket that contains a jewel unworthy of my possession."

Megalena involuntarily started at the strength of his expression; she
felt how completely she was his, and turned her eyes upon his
countenance, to read in it the meaning of his words.--His eyes gleamed
with excessive and confiding love.

"Yes." exclaimed Megalena, "yes, prejudice avaunt! once more reason
takes her seat, and convinces me, that to be Wolfstein's is not
criminal. O Wolfstein! if for a moment Megalena has yielded to the
imbecility of nature, believe that she yet knows how to recover
herself, to reappear in her proper character. Ere I knew you, a void
in my heart, and a tasteless carelessness of those objects which now
interest me, confessed your unseen empire; my heart longed for
something which now it has attained. I scruple not, Wolfstein, to aver
that it is you:--Be mine, then, and let our affection end not but
with our existence!"

"Never, never shall it end!" enthusiastically exclaimed Wolfstein.

"Never!--What can break the bond joined by congeniality of sentiment,
cemented by an union of soul which must endure till the intellectual
particles which compose it become annihilated? Oh! never shall it end;
for when, convulsed by nature's latest ruin, sinks the fabric of this
perishable globe; when the earth is dissolved away, and the face of
heaven is rolled from before our eyes like a scroll; then will we seek
each other, and, in eternal, indivisible, although immaterial union,
shall we exist to all eternity."

Yet the love, with which Wolfstein regarded Megalena, notwithstanding
the strength of his expressions, though fervent and excessive, at
first, was not of that nature which was likely to remain throughout
existence; it was like the blaze of the meteor at midnight, which
glares amid the darkness for awhile, and then expires; yet did he love
her now; at least if heated admiration of her person and
accomplishments, independently of mind, be love.

Blessed in mutual affection, if so it may be called, the time passed
swift to Wolfstein and Megalena. No incident worthy of narration
occurred to disturb the uninterrupted tenour of their existence.
Tired, at last, even with delight, which had become monotonous from
long continuance, they began to frequent the public places. It was one
evening, nearly a month subsequent to their first residence at Genoa,
that they went to a party at the Duca di Thice. It was there that he
beheld the gaze of one of the crowd fixed upon him. Indefinable to
himself were the emotions which shook him; in vain he turned to every
part of the saloon to evade the scrutiny of the stranger's gaze; he
was not able to give formation, in his own mind, to the ideas which
struck him; they were acknowledged, however, in his heart, by
sensations awful, and not to be described. He knew that he had before
seen the features of the stranger; but he had forgotten Ginotti; for
it was Ginotti--from whose scrutinizing glance, Wolfstein turned
appalled;--it was Ginotti, of whose strangely and fearfully gleaming
eyeball Wolfstein endeavoured to evade the fascination in vain. His
eyes, resistlessly attracted to the sphere of chill horror that played
around Ginotti's glance, in vain were fixed on vacuity; in vain
attempted to notice other objects. Complaining to Megalena of sudden
and violent indisposition, Wolfstein with her retired, and they
quickly reached the steps of their mansion. Arrived there, Megalena
tenderly inquired the cause of Wolfstein's illness, but his vague
answers, and unconnected exclamations, soon led her to suppose it was
not corporeal. She entreated him to acquaint her with the reason of
his indisposition; Wolfstein, however, wishing to conceal from
Megalena the true cause of his emotions, evasively told her that he
had felt excessively faint from the heat of the assembly; she well
knew, by his manner, that he had not told her truth, but affected to
be satisfied, resolving, at some future period, to develope the
mystery with which he evidently was environed. Retired to rest,
Wolfstein's mind, torn by contending paroxysms of passion, admitted
not of sleep; he ruminated on the mysterious reappearance of Ginotti;
and the more he reflected, the more did the result of his reflections
lead him astray. The strange gaze of Ginotti, and the consciousness
that he was completely in the power of so indefinable a being; the
consciousness that, wheresoever he might go, Ginotti would still
follow him, pressed upon Wolfstein's heart. Ignorant of what connexion
they could have with this mysterious observer of his actions, his
crimes recurred in hideous and disgustful array to the bewildered mind
of Wolfstein; he reflected, that, although now exulting in youthful
health and vigour, the time would come, the dreadful day of
retribution, when endless damnation would yawn beneath his feet, and
he would shrink from eternal punishment before the tribunal of that
God whom he had insulted. To evade death, unconscious why, became an
idea on which he dwelt with earnestness; he thought on it for a time,
and being mournfully convinced of its impossibility, strove to change
the tenour of his reflections.

While these thoughts dwelt in his mind, sleep crept imperceptibly over
his senses; yet, in his visions, was Ginotti present. He dreamed that
he stood on the brink of a frightful precipice, at whose base, with
deafening and terrific roar, the waves of the ocean dashed; that,
above his head, the blue glare of the lightning dispelled the
obscurity of midnight, and the loud crashing of the thunder was rolled
franticly from rock to rock; that, along the cliff on which he stood,
a figure, more frightful than the imagination of man is capable of
portraying, advanced towards him, and was about to precipitate him
headlong from the summit of the rock whereon he stood, when Ginotti
advanced, and rescued him from the grasp of the monster; that no
sooner had he done this, than the figure dashed Ginotti from the
precipice--his last groans were borne on the blast which swept the
bosom of the ocean. Confused visions then obliterated the impressions
of the former, and he rose in the morning restless and unrefreshed.

A weight which his utmost efforts could not remove, pressed upon the
bosom of Wolfstein; his mind, superior and towering as it was, found
all its energies inefficient to conquer it. As a last resource,
therefore, this wretched victim of vice and folly sought the gaming-
table; a scene which alone could raise the spirits of one who required
something important, even in his pastimes, to interest him. He staked
large sums; and, although he concealed his haunts from Megalena, she
soon discovered them. For a time, fortune smiled; till one evening he
entered his mansion, desperate from ill luck, and, accusing his own
hapless destiny, could no longer conceal the truth from Megalena. She
reproved him mildly, and her tenderness had such an effect on
Wolfstein that he burst into tears, and promised her that never again
would he yield to the vicious influence of folly.

The rapid days rolled on, and each one brought the conviction to
Wolfstein more strongly, that Megalena was not the celestial model of
perfection which his warm imagination had portrayed; he began to find
in her, not the exhaustless mine of interesting converse which he had
once supposed. Possession, which, when unassisted by real,
intellectual love, clogs man, increases the ardent, uncontrollable
passions of woman even to madness. Megalena yet adored Wolfstein with
most fervent love:--although yet greatly attached to Megalena,
although he would have been uneasy were she another's, Wolfstein no
longer regarded her with that idolatrous affection which had filled
his bosom towards her. Feelings of this nature, naturally drove
Wolfstein occasionally from home to seek for employment--and what
employment, save gaming, could Genoa afford to Wolfstein?--In what
other occupation was it possible that he could engage? It was done: he
broke his promise to Megalena, and became even a more devoted votary
to gambling than before.

How powerful are the attractions of delusive vice! Wolfstein soon
staked large sums--larger even than ever. With what anxiety did he
watch the dice!--How were his eyeballs strained with mingled
anticipation of wealth and poverty! Now fortune smiled; yet he
concealed even his good luck from Megalena. At length the tide changed
again: he lost immense sums; and, desperate from a series of ill
success, cursed his hapless destiny, and with wildest emotions rushed
into the street. Again he solemnly swore to Megalena, that never more
would he risk their mutual happiness by his folly.

Still, hurried away by the impulse of a burning desire of interesting
his deadened feelings, did Wolfstein, false to his promise, seek the
gaming-table; he had staked an enormous amount, and the fatal throw
was at this instant about to decide the fate of the unhappy Wolfstein.

A pause, as if some dreadful event were about to occur, ensued; each
gazed upon the countenance of Wolfstein, which, desperate from danger,
retained, however, an expressive firmness.

A stranger stood before Wolfstein on the opposite side of the table.
He appeared to have no interest in what was going forward, but, with
immoved gaze, fixed his eyes upon his countenance.

Wolfstein felt an instinctive shuddering thrill through his frame,
when, oh horrible confirmation of his wildest apprehensions! it was--
Ginotti!--the terrible, the mysterious Ginotti, whose dire scrutiny,
resting upon Wolfstein, chilled his soul with excessive affright.

A sensation of extreme and conflicting emotions shook the inmost
recesses of Wolfstein's heart; for an instant his brain swam around in
wildest commotion, yet he steeled his resolution, even to the horrors
of hell and destruction; he gazed on the mysterious scrutineer who
stood before him, and, regardless of the sum he had staked, and which
before had engaged his whole attention, and excited his liveliest
interest, dashed the box convulsively upon the table, and followed
Ginotti, who was about to quit the apartment, resolving to clear up a
fatality which hung around him, and appeared to blast his prospects;
for of the misfortunes which had succeeded his association with the
bandits, he had not the slightest doubt, in his own mind, that Ginotti
was the cause.

With reflections a scene of the wildest anarchy, Wolfstein resolved to
unravel the mystery in which he saw Ginotti was shrouded; and
resolved, therefore, to devote that night towards finding out his
abode. With feelings such as these, he rushed into the street, and
followed the gigantic form of Ginotti, who stalked onwards
majestically, as if conscious of safety, and wholly ignorant of the
eager scrutiny with which Wolfstein watched his every movement.

It was midnight--yet they continued to advance; a feeling of
desperation urged Wolfstein onwards; he resolved to follow Ginotti,
even to the extremity of the universe. They passed through many bye
and narrow streets; the darkness was complete; but the rays of the
lamps, as they fell upon the lofty form of Ginotti, guided the
footsteps of Wolfstein.

They had reached the end of the Strada Nuova; the lengthened sound of
Ginotti's footsteps was all that struck upon Wolfstein's ear. On a
sudden, Ginotti's figure disappeared from Wolfstein's gaze; in vain he
looked around him, in vain he searched every recess, wherein he might
have secreted himself--Ginotti was gone!

To describe the surprise mingled with awe, which possessed Wolfstein's
bosom, is impossible. In vain he searched every part. He proceeded to
the bridge; a party of fishermen were waiting there; he inquired of
them, had they seen a man of superior stature pass? they appeared
surprised at his question, and unanimously answered in the negative.
While varying emotions tumultuously contended within his bosom,
Wolfstein, ever the victim of extraordinary events, paused awhile,
revolving the mystery both of Ginotti's appearance and disappearance.
That business of an important nature led him to Genoa, he doubted not;
his indifference at the gaming-table, his particular regard of
Wolfstein, left, in the mind of the latter, no doubt, but that he took
a terrible and mysterious interest in whatever related to him.

All now was silent. The inhabitants of Genoa lay wrapped in sleep,
and, save the occasional conversation of the fishermen who had just
returned, no sound broke on the uninterrupted stillness, and thick
clouds obscured the starbeams of heaven.

Again Wolfstein searched that part of the city which lay near Strada
Nuova; but no one had seen Ginotti; although all wondered at the wild
expressions and disordered mien of Wolfstein. The bell tolled the hour
of three ere Wolfstein relinquished his pursuit; finding, however,
further inquiry fruitless, he engaged a chair to take him to his
habitation, where he doubted not that Megalena anxiously awaited his
return.

Proceeding along the streets, the obscurity of the night was not so
great but that he observed the figure of one of the chairmen to be
above that of common men, and that he had drawn his hat forwards to
conceal his countenance. His appearance, however, excited no remark;
for Wolfstein was too much absorbed in the idea which related
individually to himself, to notice what, perhaps, at another time,
might have excited wonder. The wind sighed moaningly along the stilly
colonnades, and the grey light of morning began to appear above the
eastern eminences.

They entered the street which soon led to the abode of Wolfstein, who
fixed his eyes upon the chairman. His gigantic proportions struck him
with involuntary awe: such is the unaccountable connexion of idea in
the mind of man. He shuddered. Such a man, thought he, is Ginotti:
such a man is he who watches my every action, whose power I feel
within myself is resistless, and not to be evaded. He sighed deeply
when he reflected on the terrible connexion, dreadful although
mysterious, which subsisted between himself and Ginotti. His soul sank
within him at the idea of his own littleness, when a fellowmortal
might be able to gain so strong, though sightless, an empire over him.
He felt that he was no longer independent. Whilst these thoughts
agitated his mind, the chair had stopped at his habitation. He turned
round to discharge the chairman's fare, when, casting his eyes on his
countenance, which hitherto had remained concealed, oh horrible and
chilling conviction! he recognised in his dark features those of the
terrific Ginotti. As if hell had yawned at the feet of the hapless
Wolfstein, as if some spectre of the night had blasted his straining
eyeball, so did he stand transfixed. His soul shrank with mingled awe
and abhorrence from a being who, even to himself, was confessedly
superior to the proud and haughty Wolfstein. Ere well he could calm
his faculties, agitated by so unexpected an interview, Ginotti said.

"Wolfstein! long have I known you; long have I marked you as the only
man who now exists, worthy, and appreciating the value of what I have
in store for you. Inscrutable are my intentions; seek not, therefore,
to develope them: time will do it in a far more complete manner. You
shall not now know the motive for my, to you, unaccountable actions:
strive not, therefore, to unravel them. You may frequently see me:
never attempt to speak or follow; for, if you do--" Here the eyes of
Ginotti flashed with coruscations of inexpressible fire, and his every
feature became animated by the tortures which he was about to
describe; but he suddenly checked himself, and only added, "Attend to
these my directions, but try, if possible, to forget me. I am not what
I seem. The time may come, will most probably arrive, when I shall
appear in my real character to you. You, Wolfstein, have I singled out
from the whole world to make the depositary--" He ceased, and abruptly
quitted the spot.



CHAPTER. IV.



--Nature shrinks back.
Enhorror'd from the lurid gaze of vengeance.
E'en in the deepest caverns, and the voice
Of all her works lies hush'd.
--Olympia.

On Wolfstein's return to his habitation, he found Megalena in anxious
expectation of his arrival. She feared that some misfortune had
befallen him. Wolfstein related to her the events of the preceding
night; they appeared to her mysterious and inexplicable; nor could she
offer any consolation to the wretched Wolfstein.

The occurrences of the preceding evening left a load upon his breast,
which all the gaieties of Genoa were insufficient to dispel: eagerly
he longed for the visit of Ginotti. Slow dragged the hours: each day
did he expect it, and each succeeding day brought but disappointment
to his expectations.

Megalena too, the beautiful, the adored Megalena, was no longer what
formerly she was, the innocent girl hanging on his support, and
depending wholly upon him for defence and protection; no longer, with
mild and love-beaming eyes, she regarded the haughty Wolfstein as a
superior being, whose look or slightest word was sufficient to decide
her on any disputed point. No; dissipated pleasures had changed the
former mild and innocent Megalena. Far, far different was she than
when she threw herself into his arms on their escape from the cavern,
and, with a blush, smiled upon the first declaration of Wolfstein's
affection.

Now immersed in a succession of gay pleasures, Megalena was no longer
the gentle interesting she, whose soul of sensibility would tremble if
a worm beneath her feet expired; whose heart would sink within her at
the tale of others' woe. She had become a fashionable belle, and
forgot, in her new character, the fascinations of her old one. Still,
however, was she ardently, solely, and resistlessly attached to
Wolfstein: his image was implanted in her soul, never to be effaced by
casualty, never erased by time. No coolness apparently took place
between them; but, although unperceived and unacknowledged by each, an
indifference evidently did exist between them. Among the various
families whom their residence in Genoa had rendered familiar to
Wolfstein and Megalena, none were more so than that of il Conte della
Anzasca; it consisted of himself, la Contessa, and a daughter of
exquisite loveliness, named Olympia.

This girl, mistress of every fascinating accomplishment, uniting in
herself to great brilliancy and playfulness of wit, a person alluring
beyond description, was in her eighteenth year. From habitual
indulgence, her passions, naturally violent and excessive, had become
irresistible; and when once she had fixed a determination in her mind,
that determination must either be effected, or she must cease to
exist. Such, then, was the beautiful Olympia, and as such she
conceived a violent and unconquerable passion for Wolfstein. His
towering and majestic form, his expressive and regular features,
beaming with somewhat of softness; yet pregnant with a look as if woe
had beat to the earth a mind whose native and unconfined energies
aspired to heaven--all, all told her, that, without him, she must
either cease to be, or drag on a life of endless and irremediable woe.
Nourished by restless imagination, her passion soon attained a most
unbridled height: instead of conquering a feeling which honour,
generosity, virtue, all forbade ever to be gratified, she gloried
within herself at having found one on whom she might with justice fix
her burning attachment; for although the object of them had never
before been present to her mind, the desires for that object, although
unseen, had taken root long, long ago. A false system of education,
and a wrong expansion of ideas, as they became formed, had been put in
practice with respect to her youthful mind; and indulgence
strengthened the passions which it behoved restraint to keep within
proper bounds, and which might have unfolded themselves as coadjutors
of virtue, and not as promoters of vicious and illicit love. Fiercer,
nevertheless, in proportion as greater obstacles appeared in the
prosecution of her resolve, flamed the passion of the devoted Olympia.
Her brain was whirled round in the fiercest convulsions of expectant
happiness; the anticipation of gratified voluptuousness swelled her
bosom even to bursting, yet did she rein-in the boiling emotions of
her soul, and resolved to be sufficiently cool, more certainly to
accomplish her purpose.

It was one night when Wolfstein's mansion was the scene of gaiety,
that this idea first suggested itself to the mind of Olympia, and
unfolded itself to her, as it really was love for Wolfstein. In vain
the suggestions of generosity, the voice of conscience, which told her
how doubly wicked would be the attempt of alienating from her the
lover of her friend Megalena, in audible, though noiseless, accents
spoke; in vain the native modesty of her sex represented in its real
and hideous colours what she was about to do: still Olympia was
resolved.

That night, in the solitude of her own chamber, in the palazzo of her
father, she retraced in her mind the various events which had led to
her present uncontrollable passion, which had employed her whole
thoughts, and rendered her, as it were, dead to every other outward
existence. The wild transports of maddening desire raved terrific
within her breast: she endeavoured to smother the ideas which
presented themselves; but the more she strove to erase them from her
mind, the more vividly were they represented in her heated and
enthusiastic imagination. "And will he not return my love?" she
exclaimed: "will he not?--ah! a bravo's dagger shall pierce his heart,
and thus will I reward him for his contempt of Olympia della Anzasca.
But no! it is impossible. I will cast myself at his feet; I will avow
to him the passion which consumes me,--will swear to be ever, ever
his! Can he then cast me from him? Can he despise a woman whose only
fault is love, nay, idolatry, adoration for him?"

She paused.--The tumultuous passions of her soul were now too fierce
for utterance--too fierce for concealment or restraint. The hour was
late; the moon poured its mildlylustrous beams upon the lengthened
colonnades of Genoa, when Olympia, overcome by emotions such as these,
quitted her father's palazzo, and hastened, with rapid and unequal
footsteps, towards the mansion of Wolfstein. The streets were by no
means crowded; but those who yet lingered in them gazed with slight
surprise on the figure of Olympia, which, light and symmetrical as a
celestial sylphid, passed swiftly onwards.

She soon arrived at the habitation of Wolfstein, and sent the domestic
to announce that one wished to speak with him, whose business was
pressing and secret. She was conducted into an apartment, and there
awaited the arrival of Wolfstein. A confused expression of awe played
upon his features as he entered; but it suddenly gave place to that of
surprise. He started upon perceiving Olympia, and said.

"To what, Lady Olympia, do I owe the unforeseen pleasure of your
visit? What so mysterious business have you with me?" continued he
playfully.

"But come, we had just sat down to supper; Megalena is within."--"Oh!
if you wish to see me expire in horrible torments at your feet,
inhuman Wolfstein, call for Megalena! and then will your purpose be
accomplished."--"Dearest Lady Olympia, compose yourself, I beseech
you," said Wolfstein: "what, what agitates you?"--"Oh! pardon, pardon
me," she exclaimed, with maniac wildness: "pardon a wretched female
who knows not what she does! Oh! resistlessly am I impelled to this
avowal; resistlessly am I impelled to declare to you, that I love you!
adore you to distraction!--Will you return my affection? But, ah! I
rave! Megalena, the beloved Megalena, claims you as her own; and the
wretched Olympia must moan the blighted prospects which were about to
open fair before her eyes."

"For Heaven's sake, dear lady, compose yourself; recollect who you
are; recollect the loftiness of birth and loveliness of form which are
so eminently yours. This, this is far beneath Olympia."

"Oh!" she exclaimed, franticly casting herself at his feet, and
bursting into a passion of tears, "what are birth, fame, fortune, and
all the advantages which are casually given to me! I swear to thee,
Wolfstein, that I would sacrifice not only these, but even all my
hopes of future salvation, even the forgiveness of my Creator, were it
required from me. O Wolfstein, kind, pitying Wolfstein, look down with
an eye of indulgence on a female whose only crime is resistless,
unquenchable adoration of you."

She panted for breath, her pulses beat with violence, her eyes swam,
and, overcome by the conflicting passions of her soul, the frame of
Olympia fell, sickening with faintness, on the ground. Wolfstein
raised her, and tenderly essayed to recall the senses of the hapless
girl. Recovering, and perceiving her situation, Olympia started,
seemingly horrified, from the arms of Wolfstein. The energies of her
high mind instantly resumed their functions, and she exclaimed, "Then,
base and ungrateful Wolfstein, you refuse to unite your fate with
mine? My love is ardent and excessive, but the revenge which may
follow the despiser of it is far more impetuous; reflect well then ere
you drive Olympia della Anzasca to despair."--"No reflection, in the
present instance, is needed, Lady," replied Wolfstein, coolly, yet
determinedly. "What man of honour needs a moment's rumination to
discover what nature has so inerasibly implanted in his bosom--the
sense of right and wrong? I am connected with a female whom I love,
who confides in me; in what manner should I merit her confidence, if I
join myself to another? Nor can the loveliness, the exquisite, the
unequalled loveliness of the beautiful Olympia della Anzasca
compensate me for breaking an oath sworn to another."

He paused.--Olympia spake not, but appeared to be awaiting the
dreadful fiat of her destiny.

"Olympia," Wolfstein continued, "pardon me! Were I not irrevocably
Megalena's, I must be thine: I esteem you, I admire you, but my love
is another's."

The passion which before had choked Olympia's utterance, appeared to
give way to the impetuousness of her emotions.

"Then," she said, as a solemnity of despair toned her voice to
firmness, "then you are irrevocably another's?"

"I am compelled to be explicit; I am compelled to say, I am another's
for ever!" fervently returned Wolfstein.

Again fainting from the excess of painful feeling which vibrated
through her frame, Olympia fell at Wolfstein's feet: again he raised
her, and, in anxious solicitude, watched her varying countenance. At
the critical instant when Olympia had just recovered from the
faintness which had oppressed her, the door burst open, and disclosed
to the view of the passion-grieving Olympia, the detested form of
Megalena. A silence, resembling that when a solemn pause in the
midnight-tempest announces that the elements only hesitate to collect
more terrific force for the ensuing explosion, took place, while
Megalena surveyed Olympia and Wolfstein. Still she spoke not; yet the
silence, even more terrible than the commotion which followed,
continued to prevail. Olympia dashed by Megalena, and faintly
articulating "Vengeance!" rushed into the street, and bent her rapid
flight to the Palazzo di Anzasca.

"Wolfstein," said Megalena, her voice quivering with excessive
emotion, "Wolfstein, how have I deserved this? How have I deserved a
dereliction so barbarous and so unprovoked? But no!" she added in a
firmer tone; "no! I will leave you! I will show that I can bear the
tortures of disappointed love, better than you can evade the scrunity
of one who did adore thee."

In vain Wolfstein put in practice every soothing art of tranquillize
the agitation of Megalena. Her frame trembled with violent shuddering;
yet her soul, as it were, superior to the form which enshrined it,
loftily towered, and retained its firmness amidst the frightful chaos
which battled within.

"Now," said she to Wolfstein, "I will leave you!"

"O God! Megalena, dearest, adored Megalena!" exclaimed Wolfstein,
passionately, "stop--I love you, must ever love you: deign, at least,
to hear me."--"What good would accrue from that?" gloomily inquired
Megalena.

Wolfstein rushed towards her; he threw himself at her feet, and
exclaimed, "If ever, for one instant, my soul was alienated from
thee--if ever it swerved from the affection which I have sworn to
thee--may the red right hand of God instantaneously dash me beneath
the lowest abyss of hell! O Megalena! is it as a victim of groundless
jealousy that I have immolated myself at the altar of thy perfections?
Have I only raised myself to this summit of happiness to feel more
deeply the fall of which thou art the cause? O Megalena! if yet one
spark of thy former love lingers in thy breast, oh! believe one who
swears that he must be thine even till the particles which compose the
soul devoted to thee, become annihilated."--He paused.

Megalena heard his wildly enthusiastic expressions in sullen silence.
She looked upon him with a stern and severe gaze:--he yet lay at her
feet, and, hiding his face upon the earth, groaned deeply. "What
proof," exclaimed Magalena, impatiently, "what proof will Wolfstein,
the deceiver, bring to satisfy me that his love is still mine?"

"Seek for proof in my heart," returned Wolfstein; "that heart which
yet is bleeding from the thorns which thou, cruel girl, hast implanted
in it: seek it in my every action, and then will the convinced
Megalena know that Wolfstein is hers irrevocably--body and soul, for
ever!"

"Yet, I believe thee not!" said Mega lena; "for the haughty Olympia
della Anzasca would scarcely recline in the arms of a man who was not
entirely devoted to her."

Yet were the charms of Megalena unfaded; yet their empire over
Wolfstein excessive and complete.

"Still I believe thee not," continued she, as a smile of expectant
malice sat upon her cheek. "I require some proof which will assuredly
convince me, that I am yet beloved: give me proof, and Megalena will
again be Wolfstein's."--"Oh!" said Wolfstein, mournfully, "what
farther proof can I give, but my oath, that never in soul or body have
I broken the allegiance that I formerly swore to thee?"

"The death of Olympia!" gloomily returned Megalena.

"What mean you?" said Wolfstein, starting.

"I mean," continued Megalena, collectedly, as if what she was about to
utter had been the result of serious cogitation; "I mean that, if ever
you wish again to possess my affections, ere to-morrow morning,
Olympia must expire!"

"Murder the innocent Olympia?"

"Yes!"

A pause ensued; during which the mind of Wolfstein, torn by ten
thousand warring emotions, knew not on what to resolve. He gazed upon
Megalena; her symmetrical form shone with tenfold loveliness to his
enraptured imagination: again he resolved to behold those eyes beam
with affection for him, which were now gloomily fixed upon the ground.
"Will nothing else convince Megalena that Wolfstein is eternally
hers?"

"Nothing."

"'T is done then," exclaimed Wolfstein, "'t is done. Yet," he
muttered, "I may suffer for this premeditated act tortures now
inconceivable; I may writhe, convulsed, in immaterial agony for ever
and for ever--ah! I cannot. No!" he continued; "Megalena, I am again
yours; I will immolate the victim which thou requirest as a sacrifice
to our love. Give me a dagger, which may sweep off from the face of
the earth, one who is hateful to thee! Adored creature, give me the
dagger, and I will restore it to thee dripping with Olympia's hated
blood; it shall have first been buried in her heart."

"Then, then again art thou mine own! again art thou the idolized
Wolfstein, whom I was wont to love!" said Megalena, enfolding him in
her embrace. Perceiving her returning softness, Wolfstein essayed to
induce her to spare him the frightful proof of the ardour of his
attachment; but she started from his arms as he spoke, and exclaimed.

"Ah! base deceiver, do you hesitate?"

"Oh, no! I do not hesitate, dearest Megalena;--give me a dagger, and I
go."

"Here, follow me then," returned Megalena. He followed her to the
supper-room.

"It is useless to go yet, it has but yet struck one; the inhabitants
of il Palazzo della Anzasca will, about two, be nearly all retired to
rest; till then, let us converse on what we were about to do." So far
did Megalena's seductive blandishment, her artful selection of
converse, win upon Wolfstein, that, when the destined hour approached,
his sanguinary soul thirsted for the blood of the comparatively
innocent Olympia.

"Well!" he cried, swallowing down an overflowing goblet of wine, "now
the time is come; now suffer me to go, and tear the soul of Olympia
from her hated body." His fury amounted almost to delirium, as,
masked, and having a dagger, which Megalena had given him, concealed
beneath his garments, he proceeded rapidly along the streets towards
the Palazzo della Anzasca. So eager was he to shed the lifeblood of
Olympia, that he flew, rather than ran, along the silent streets of
Genoa. The colonnades of the lofty Palazzo della Anzasca resounded to
his rapid footsteps; he stopped at its lofty portal:--it was open;
unperceived he entered, and, hiding himself behind a column, according
to the directions of Megalena, waited there. Soon advancing through
the hall, he saw the sylphlike figure of the lovely Olympia; with
silent tread he followed it, experiencing not the slightest sentiment
of remorse within his bosom for the deed which he was about to
perpetrate. He followed her to her apartment, and secreting himself
until Olympia might have sunk into sleep, with sanguinary and
remorseless patience, when her loud breathing convinced him that her
slumber was profound, he arose from his place of concealment, and
advanced to the bed, wherein Olympia lay. Her light tresses,
disengaged from the band which had confined them, floated around a
countenance, superhumanly beautiful, and whose expression, even in
slumber, appeared to be tinted by Wolfstein's refusal; convulsive
sighs heaved her fair bosom, and tears, starting from under her
eyelids, fell profusely down her damask cheek. Wolfstein gazed upon
her in silence. "Cruel, inhuman Megalena!" he mentally soliloquized;
"could nothing but immolation of this innocence appease thee?" Again
he stifled the stings of rebelling conscience; again the unquenchable
and resistless ardour of his love for Megalena stimulated him to the
wildest pitch of fury: he raised high the dagger, and, drawing aside
the covering which veiled her alabaster bosom, paused an instant, to
decide in which place it were most instantaneously destructive to
strike. Again a mournful smile irradiated her lovely features; it
played with a sweet softness on her countenance: it seemed as though
she smiled in defiance of the arrows of destiny, but that her soul,
nevertheless, lingered with the wretch who sought her life. Maddened
by the sight of so much beauteous innocence, even the desperate
Wolfstein, forgetful of the danger which he must thereby incur, hurled
the dagger from him. The sound awakened Olympia: she started up in
surprise; but her alarm was changed into ecstacy when she beheld the
idolized possessor of her soul standing before her.

"I was dreaming of you," said Olympia, scarcely knowing whether this
were not a dream; but, impulsively following the first emotions of her
soul, "I dreamed that you were about to murder me. It is not so,
Wolfstein, no! you would not murder one who adores you?"

"Murder Olympia! O God! no!--I take Heaven to witness, that I never
now could do it!"

"Nor could you ever, I hope, dear Wolfstein; but drive away thoughts
like these, and remember that Olympia lives but for thee; and the
moment which takes from her your affections, seals the death-like fiat
of her destiny." These asseverations, strengthened by the most solemn
and deadly vows that he would return to Megalena the destroyer of
Olympia, flashed across Wolfstein's mind. Perpetrate the deed, now, he
could not; his soul became a scene of most terrific agony. "Wilt thou
be mine?" exclaimed the enraptured Olympia, as a ray of hope arose in
her mind. "Never! never can I," groaned the agitated Wolfstein; "I am
irrevocably, indissolubly another's." Maddened by this death-blow to
all expectations of happiness, which the deluded Olympia had so fondly
anticipated, she leaped wildly from the bed. A light and flowing
night-dress alone veiled her form: her alabaster bosom was shaded by
the light ringlets of her hair which rested unconfined upon it. She
threw herself at the feet of Wolfstein. On a sudden, as if struck by
some thought, she started convulsively from the earth: for an instant
she paused.

The rays of a lamp, which stood in a recess of the apartment, fell
full upon the dagger of Wolfstein. Eagerly Olympia sprung towards it;
and, ere Wolfstein was aware of her dreadful intent, plunged it into
her bosom. Weltering in purple gore she fell: no groan, no sigh
escaped her lips. A smile, which the pangs of dissolution could not
dispel, played on her convulsed countenance; it irradiated her
features with celestially awful, although terrific expression.
"Ineffectually have I endeavoured to conquer the ardent feelings of my
soul; now I overcome them," were her last words. She utterred them in
a tone of firmness, and, falling back, expired in torments, which her
fine, her expressive features declared that she gloried in.

All was silent in the chamber of death: the stillness was frightful.
The agonies which Wolfstein endured were past description: for a time
he neither moved nor spoke. The pale glare of the lamp fell upon the
features of Olympia, from which the tinge of life had fled for ever.
Suddenly, and in despite of himself, were the affections of Wolfstein
turned from Megalena: he could not but now regard her as a fiend, who
had been the cause of Olympia's destruction; who had urged him to a
deed from which his nature now shrunk as from annihilation. A wild
paroxysm of awful alarm seized upon him: he knelt by the side of
Olympia's corpse; he kissed it, bathed it with his tears, and
imprecated a thousand curses on himself. Her features, although
convulsed by the agonies of violent dissolution, retained an
unchanging image of loveliness, which never might fade away. Her
beautiful bosom, in which her hand yet held the fatal dagger, was
discoloured with blood, and those affection-beaming orbs were now
closed in the never-ending slumber of the grave. Unable longer to
endure a sight of so much horror, Wolfstein started up, and, forgetful
of every thing save the frightful deed which he had witnessed, rushed
from the Palazzo della Anzasca, and mechanically retraced his way
towards his own habitation.

Not once that night had Megalena closed her eyes. Her infuriate
passions had wound her soul up to a deadly calmness of expectation.
She had not, during the whole of the night, retired to rest, but sat,
with sanguinary patience, cursing the lagging hours that they passed
so slowly, and waiting to hear tidings of death. Morning had begun to
streak the eastern sky with gray, when Wolfstein hurried into the
supper-room, where Megalena still sat, wildly exclaiming "The deed is
done!" Megalena entreated him to be calm, and, more collectedly, to
communicate the events which had occurred during the night.

"In the first place," he said in an accent of feigned horror, "the
officers of justice are alarmed!"

Deadly affright chilled the soul of Megalena: she turned pale, and,
gasping for breath, inquired eagerly respecting the success of his
attempt.

"O God!" exclaimed Wolfstein, "that has succeeded but too well! the
hapless Olympia welters in her life-blood!"

"Joy! joy!" franticly exclaimed Megalena, her eagerness for revenge
overcoming, for the moment, every other feeling.

"But, Megalena," continued Wolfstein, "she fell not by my hand: no,
she smiled on me in her sleep, and, when she awoke, finding me deaf to
her solicitations, snatched my dagger, and buried it in her bosom."

"Did you wish to prevent the deed?" inquired Megalena.

"Oh! good God of Heaven! thou knowest my heart: I would sacrifice
every remaining earthly good were Olympia again alive!"

Megalena spoke not, but a smile of exquisitely gratified malice
illumined her features with terrific flame.

"We must instantly quit Genoa," said Wolfstein: "the name on the mask
which I left in the Palazzo della Anzasca, will remove all doubt that
I was the murderer of Olympia. Yet indeed I care not much for death;
if you will it so, Megalena, we will even, as it is, remain in Genoa."

"Oh! no, no!" eagerly cried Megalena: "Wolfstein, I love you beyond
expression, and Genoa is destruction; let us seek, therefore, some
retired spot, where we may for a while at least secrete ourselves.
But, Wolfstein, are you persuaded that I love you? need there more
proof be required than that I wished the death of another for thee? it
was on that account alone that I desired the destruction of Olympia,
that thou mightest be more completely and irresistibly mine."

Wolfstein answered not: the feelings of his soul were far different;
the expression of his countenance plainly evinced them: and Megalena
regretted that her effervescent passions should have led her to so
rash an avowal of her contempt of virtue. They then separated to
arrange their affairs, prior to their departure, which, on account of
the pressing necessity of the case, must take place immediately. They
took with them but two domestics, and, collecting all their stock of
money, they were soon far from pursuit and Genoa.



CHAPTER. VII.



Yes! 't is the influence of that sightless fiend
Who guides my every footstep, that I feel:
An iron grasp arrests each fluttering sense.
And a fell voice howls in mine anguish'd ear.
"Wretch, thou mayst rest no more."
--Olympia.

How sweet are the scenes endeared to us by ideas which we have
cherished in the society of one we have loved! How melancholy to
wander amongst them again after an absence, perhaps of years; years
which have changed the tenour of our existence,--have changed even the
friend, the dear friend, for whose sake alone the landscape lives in
the memory, for whose sake tears flow at the each varying feature of
the scenery, which catches the eye of one who has never seen them
since he saw them with the being who was dear to him!

Dark, autumnal, and gloomy was the hour; the winds whistled hollow,
and over the expanse of heaven was spread an unvarying sombreness of
vapour: nothing was heard save the melancholy shriekings of the night-
bird, which, soaring on the evening blast, broke the stillness of the
scene, interrupting the meditations of frenzied enthusiasm; mingled
with the sighing of the wind, which swept in languid and varying
cadence amidst the leafless boughs.

Ah! of whom shall the poor outcast wanderer demand protection? Far,
far has she wandered. The vice and unkindness of the world hath torn
her tender heart. In whose bosom shall she repose the secret of her
sufferings? Who will listen with pity to the narrative of her woe, and
heal the wounds which the selfish unkindness of man hath made, and
then sent her with them, unbound, on the wide and pitiless world?
Lives there one whose confidence the sufferer might seek?

Cold and dreary was the night: November's blast had chilled the air.
Is the blast so pitiless as ingratitude and selfishness? Ah, no!
thought the wanderer; it is unkind indeed, but not so unkind as that.
Poor Eloise de St. Irvyne! many, many are in thy situation; but few
have a heart so full of sensibility and excellence for the demoniac
malice of man to deform, and then glut itself with hellish pleasure in
the conviction of having ravaged the most lovely of the works of their
Creator. She gazed upon the sky: the moon had just risen; its full orb
was occasionally shaded by a passing cloud: it rose from behind the
turrets of le Chateau de St. Irvyne. The poor girl raised her eyes
towards it, streaming with tears: she scarce could recognise the once-
loved building. She thanked God for permitting her again to behold it;
and hastened on with steps tottering from fatigue, yet nerved with the
sanguineness of anticipation.

Yes, St. Irvyne was the same as when she had left it five years ago.
The same ivy mantled the western tower; the same jasmine which bloomed
so luxuriantly when she left it, was still there, though leafless from
the season. Thus was it with poor Eloise: she had left St. Irvyne,
blooming, and caressed by every one; she returned to it pale,
downcast, and friendless. The jasmine encircled the twisted pillars
which supported the portal. Alas! whose assistance had prevented
Eloise from sinking to the earth?--no one's. She knocked at the door--
it was opened, and an instant's space beheld her in the arms of a
beloved sister. Needless were it to describe the mutual pleasure,
needless to describe the delight, of recognition; suffice it to say,
that Eloise once more enjoyed the society of her dearest friend; and,
in the happiness of her society, forgot the horrors which had preceded
her return to St. Irvyne.

Now were it well for a while to leave Eloise at St. Irvyne, and
retrace the events which, since five years, had so darkly tinged the
fate of the unsuspecting female, who trusted to the promises of man.
It was a beautiful morning in May, and the loveliness of the season
had spread a deeper shade of gloom over the features of Eloise, for
she knew that not long would her mother live. They journeyed on
towards Geneva, whither the physicians had ordered Madame de St.
Irvyne to repair, as the last resort of a hope that she might,
thereby, escape a rapid decline. On account of the illness of her
mother, they proceeded slowly; and ere long they had entered the
region of the Alps, the shades of evening, which rapidly began to
increase, announced approaching night. They had expected, before this
time, to have reached a town; but, either owing to a miscalculation of
their route, or the remissness of the postillion, they had not yet
done so. The majestic moon which hung above their heads, tinged with
silver the fleecy clouds which skirted the far-seen horizon; and,
borne on the soft wing of the evening zephyr, shadowy lines of vapour,
at intervals, crossed her orbit; then vanishing into the dark blue
expansiveness of ether, their fantastic forms, like the phantoms of
midnight, became invisible. Now might we almost suppose, that the
sightless spirits of the departed good, enthroned on the genial breeze
of night, watched over those whom they had loved on earth, and poured
into the bosom, to the dictates of which, in this world, they had
listened with idolatrous attention, that tranquillity and confidence
in the goodness of the Creator, which is necessary for us to
experience ere we go to the next. Such tranquillity felt Madame de St.
Irvyne: she tried to stifle the ideas which arose within her mind; but
the more she strove to repress them, in the more vivid characters were
they imprinted on the imagination.

Now had they gained the summit of the mountain, when, suddenly, a
crash announced that the carriage had given way.

"What is to be done?" inquired Eloise. The postillion appeared to take
no notice of her question. "What is to be done?" again she inquired.

"Why, I scarcely know," answered the postillion; "but 't is impossible
to proceed."

"Is there no house nearer than--"

"Oh yes," replied he; "here is a house quite near, but a little out of
the way; and, perhaps, Ma'am'selle will not--"

"Oh, lead on, lead on to it," quickly rejoined Eloise.

They followed the postillion, and soon arrived at the house. It was
large and plain; and although there were lights in some of the
windows, it bore an indefinable appearance of desolation.

In a large hall sat three or four men, whose marked countenances
almost announced their profession to be bandits. One of superior and
commanding figure whispering to the rest, and himself advancing with
the utmost and most unexpected politeness, accosted the travellers.
For the ideas with which the countenance of this man inspired Eloise
she in vain endeavoured to account. It appeared to her that she had
seen him before; that the deep tone of his voice was known to her; and
that eye, scintillating with a coruscation of mingled sternness and
surprise, found some counterpart in herself. Of gigantic stature, yet
formed in the mould of exactest symmetry, was the figure of the
stranger who sate before Eloise. His countenance of excessive beauty
even, but dark, emanated with an expression of superhuman loveliness;
not that grace which may freely be admired, but acknowledged in the
inmost soul by sensations mysterious, and before unexperienced. He
tenderly inquired, whether the night air had injured the ladies, and
pressed them to partake of a repast which the other three men had
prepared; he appeared to unbend a severity, which evidently was
habitual, and by extreme brilliancy and playfulness of wit, joined to
talents for conversation, possessed by few, made Madame de St. Irvyne
forget that she was dying; and her daughter, as in rapturous attention
she listened to each accent of the stranger, remembered no more that
she was about to lose her mother.

In the stranger's society, they almost forgot the lapse of time: a
pause in the conversation at last occurred.

"Can Ma'am'selle sing?" inquired the stranger.
"I can," replied Eloise; "and with pleasure."

SONG.

How swiftly through heaven's wide expanse
  Bright day's resplendent colours fade!
How sweetly does the moonbeam's glance
  With silver tint St. Irvyne's glade!
No cloud along the spangled air.
  Is borne upon the evening breeze;
How solemn is the scene! how fair
  The moonbeams rest upon the trees!
Yon dark gray turret glimmers white.
  Upon it sits the mournful owl;
Along the stillness of the night.
  Her melancholy shriekings roll.
But not alone on Irvyne's tower.
  The silver moonbeam pours her ray;
It gleams upon the ivied bower.
  It dances in the cascade's spray.
  "Ah! why do dark'ning shades conceal
  The hour, when man must cease to be?
Why may not human minds unveil
  The dim mists of futurity?
  "The keenness of the world hath torn
  The heart which opens to its blast;
Despis'd, neglected, and forlorn.
  Sinks the wretch in death at last."

She ceased;--the thrilling accents of her interestingly sweet voice
died away in the vacancy of stillness;--yet listened the charmed
auditors; their imaginations prolonged the tender strain; the uncouth
attendants of the stranger were chained in silence, and the
enthusiastic gaze of their host was fixed upon the timid countenance
of Eloise with wild and mysterious expression. It seemed to say to
Eloise, "We meet again;"--and, as the idea struck her imagination,
convulsed by a feeling of indescribable and excessive awe, she
started.

At last, the hour being late, they all retired. Eloise sought the
couch prepared for her; her mind, perturbed by emotions, the cause of
which she in vain essayed to develope, could bring its intellectual
energies to act on no one particular point; her imagination was
fertile, and, under its fantastic guidance, she felt her judgment and
reason irresistibly fettered. The image of the fascinating, yet awful
stranger, dwelt on her mind. She sank on her knees to return thanks to
her Creator for his mercies; yet even then, faithless to the task on
which it was employed, her mind returned to the stranger. She felt no
particular affection or esteem for him;--no, she rather feared him;
and, when she endeavoured to connect the chain of ideas which pressed
upon her mind, tears started into her eyes, and she looked around the
apartment with the timid terror of a person who converses at midnight
on a subject at once awful and interesting: but poor Eloise was no
philosopher; and to explain sensations like these, were even beyond
the power of the wisest of them. She felt alarmed, herself, at the
violence of the feelings which shook her bosom, and attempted to
compose herself to sleep. Yet even in her dream was the stranger
present. She thought that she met him on a flowery plain; that the
feelings of her bosom, whether she would or not, impelled her towards
him; that before she had been enfolded in his arms, a torrent of
scintillating flame, accompanied by a terrific crash of thunder, made
the earth yawn beneath her feet;--the gay vision vanished from her
fancy, and, in place of the flowery plain, a rugged and desolate heath
extended far before her; its monotonous solitude unbroken, save by the
low and barren rocks which rose occasionally from its surface. From
dreams such as these, dreams which left on her mind painful
presentiments of her future life, Eloise arose, restless and
unrefreshed from slumber.

Why gleams that dark eyeball upon the countenance of Eloise, as she
tenderly inquired for the health of her mother? Why did an hidden
expression of exulting joy light up that demoniac gaze, when Madame de
St. Irvyne said to her daughter, "I feel rather faint to-day, my
child:--'Would we were at Geneva!"--It beams with hell and
destruction!--Let me look again: that, when I see another eye which
gleams so fiendishly, I may know that it is a villain's.--Thus might
have thought the sightless minister of the beneficence of God, as it
hovered round the spotless Eloise. But, hush! what was that scream
which was heard by the ear of listening enthusiasm? It was the shriek
of the fair Eloise's better genius; it screamed to see the foe of the
innocent girl so near--it is fled fast to Geneva. "There, Eloise, will
we meet again," methought it whispered; whilst a low hollow tone,
hoarse from the dank vapours of the grave, seemed lowly to howl in the
ear of rapt Fancy, "We meet again likewise."

Their courteous host conducted Madame de St. Irvyne and Eloise to
their chaise, which was now repaired, and ready for the journey; the
stranger bowed respectfully as they went away. The expression of his
dark eye, as he beheld them for the last time, was even stronger than
ever; it seemed not to affect her mother; but the mystic feelings
which it excited in the bosom of Eloise were beyond description
powerful. The paleness of Madame de St. Irvyne's cheek, on which the
only teint was an occasional and hectic flush, announced that the
illness which consumed her, rapidly increased, and would soon lead her
gently to the gates of death. She talked calmly of her approaching
dissolution, and only regretted, that to no one protector could she
entrust the care of her orphaned daughters. Marianne, her eldest
daughter, had, by her mother's particular desire, remained at the
chateau; and, though much wishing to accompany her mother, she urged
it no longer, when she knew Madame de St. Irvyne to be resolved
against it. Now had the illness which had attacked her assumed so
serious and so decided an appearance, that she could no longer doubt
the event;--could no longer doubt that she was quickly about to enter
a better world.

"My daughter," said she, "there is a banker at Geneva, a worthy man,
to whom I shall bequeath the guardianship of my child; on that head
are all my doubts quieted. But, Eloise, my child, you are yet young;
you know not the world; but bear in mind these words of your dying
mother, so long as you remember herself:--When you see a man enveloped
in deceit and mystery; when you see him dark, reserved, and
suspicious, carefully avoid him. Should such a man seek your
friendship or affection, should he seek, by any means, to confer an
obligation upon you, or make you confer one on him, spurn him from you
as you would a serpent; as one who aimed to lure your unsuspecting
innocence to the paths of destruction."

The affecting solemnity of her voice, as thus she spoke, touched
Eloise deeply; she wept. "I must remember my mother for ever," was her
almost inarticulate reply; deep sobs burst from her agitated bosom;
and the varying crowds of imagery which followed each other in her
mind, were too complicated to be defined. Still, though deeply grieved
at the approaching death of her mother, was the mysterious stranger
uppermost in her thoughts; his image excited ideas painful and
unpleasant. She wished to turn the tide of them; but the more she
attempted it, with the more painful recurrence of almost mechanical
force, did his recollection press upon her disturbed intellect.

Eloise de St. Irvyne was a girl, whose temper and disposition was most
excellent; she was, indeed, too, possessed of uncommon sensibility;
yet was her mind moulded in an inferior degree of perfection. She was
susceptible of prejudice, to a great degree; and resigned herself,
careless of the consequences which might follow, to the feelings of
the moment. Every accomplishment, it is true, she enjoyed in the
highest excellence; and the very convent at which she was educated,
which afforded the adventitious advantages so highly esteemed by the
world, prevented her mind from obtaining that degree of expansiveness
and excellence, which, otherwise, might have rendered Eloise nearer
approaching to perfection; the very routine of a convent education
gave a false and pernicious bias to the ideas, as, luxuriant in youth,
they unfolded themselves; and those sentiments which, had they been
allowed to take the turn which nature intended, would have become
coadjutors of virtue, and strengtheners of that mind, which now they
had rendered comparatively imbecile. Such was Eloise, and as such she
required unexampled care to prevent those feelings which agitate every
mind of sensibility, to get the better of the judgment which had, by
an erroneous system of education, become relaxed. Her mother was about
to die--who now would care for Eloise?

They entered Geneva at the close of a fine, yet sultry day. The
illness of Madame de St. Irvyne had increased so as now to threaten
instant danger: she was conveyed to bed. A deadly paleness sat on her
cheek; it was flushed, however, as she spoke, with momentary hectics;
and, as she conversed with her daughter, a fire, which almost partook
of etheriality, shone in her sunken eye. It was evening; the yellow
beams of the sun, as his orb shed the parting glory on the verge of
the horizon, penetrated the bed-curtains; and by their effulgence
contrasted the deadliness of her countenance. The poor Eloise sat,
watching, with eyes dimmed by tears, each variation in the countenance
of her mother. Silent, from an ecstacy of grief, she gazed fixedly
upon her, and felt every earthly hope die within her, when the
conviction of a fast-approaching dissolution pressed upon her
disturbed brain. Madame de St. Irvyne, at length exhausted, fell into
a quiet slumber; Eloise feared to disturb her, but, motionless with
grief, sate behind the curtain. Now had sunk the orb of day, and the
shades of twilight began to scatter duskiness through the chamber of
death; all was silent; and, save by the catchings of breath in her
mother's slumber, the stillness was uninterrupted. Yet even in this
awful, this terrific crisis of her existence, the mind of Eloise
seemed compelled to exert its intellectual energies but on one
subject;--in vain she essayed to pray;--in vain she attempted to avert
the horror of her meditations, by contemplating the pallid features of
her dying mother: her thoughts were not within her own control, and
she trembled as she reflected on the appalling and mysterious
influence which the image of a man, whom she had seen but once, and
whom she neither loved nor cared for, had gained over her mind. With
the indefinable terror of one who dreads to behold some phantom,
Eloise fearfully cast her eyes around the gloomy apartment;
occasionally she shrank from the ideal form which an unconnected
imagination had conjured up, and could scarcely but suppose that the
stranger's gaze, as last he had looked upon her, met her own with an
horrible and mixed scintillation of mysterious cunning and interest.
She felt no prepossession in his favour; she rather detested him, and
gladly would never have again beheld him; yet, were the circumstances
which introduced him to their notice alluded to, she would turn pale,
and blush, by turns; and Jeanette, their maid, was fully persuaded in
her own mind, and prided herself on her penetration in the discovery,
that Ma'am'selle was violently in love with the hospitable Alpine
hunter.

Madame de St. Irvyne had now awakened; she beckoned her daughter to
approach: Eloise obeyed; and, kneeling, kissed the chill hand of her
mother, in a transport of sorrow, and bathed it with her tears.

"Eloise," said her mother, her voice trembling from excessive
weakness, "Eloise, my child, farewell--farewell for ever. I feel, I
am about to die; but, before I die, willingly would I say much to my
dearest daughter. You are now left on the hardhearted, pitiless world;
and perhaps, oh! perhaps, about to become an immolated victim of its
treachery. Oh!--" Here, overcome by extreme pain, she fell backwards;
a transient gleam of animation lighted up her expressive countenance;
she smiled, and--expired. All was still; and over the gloomy chamber
reigned silence and horror. The yellow moonbeam, with sepulchral
effulgence, gleamed on the countenance of her who had expired, and
lighted her features, sweet even in death, with a dire and horrible
contrast to the dimness which prevailed around!--Ah! such was the
contrast of the peace enjoyed by the spirit of the departed one, with
the misery which awaited the wretched Eloise. Poor Eloise! she had now
lost almost her only friend!

In excessive and silent grief, knelt the mourning girl; she spoke not,
she wept-not; her sorrow was toavo violent for tears, but, oh! her
heart was torn by pangs of unspeakable acuteness. But even amid the
alarm which so melancholy an event must have excited, the idea of the
stranger in the Alps sublimed the soul of Eloise to the highest degree
of horror, and despair the most infuriate. For the ideas which crowded
into her mind at this crisis, so eventful, so terrific, she
endeavoured to account; but, alas! her attempt was fruitless! Still
knelt she; still did she press to her burning lips the lifeless hand
of departed excellence, when the morning's ray announced to her, that
longer continuing there might excite suspicion of intellectual
derangement. She arose, therefore, and, quitting the apartment,
announced the melancholy event which had taken place. She gave orders
for the funeral; it was to be solemnized as soon as decency would
permit, as the poor friendless Eloise wished speedily to quit Geneva.
She wrote to announce the fatal event to her sister. Slowly dragged
the time. Eloise followed to its latest bed, the corpse of her mother,
and was returning from the convent, when a stranger put into her hand
a note, and quickly disappeared:--

"Will Eloise de St. Irvyne meet her friend at--Abbey, to-morrow night,
at ten o'clock?"



CHAPTER. VIII.



--Why then unbidden gush'd the tear?--
Then would cold shudderings seize his brain.
  As gasping he labour'd for breath;
The strange gaze of his meteor eye.
Which, frenzied, and rolling dreadfully.
  Glar'd with hideous gleam.
Would chill like the spectre gaze of Death.
  As, conjur'd by feverish dream.
He seems o'er the sick man's couch to stand.
And shakes the fell lance in his skeleton hand.
--Wandering Jew.

Yes;--they fled from Genoa; they had eluded pursuit and justice, but
could not escape the torments of an outraged and avenging conscience,
which, with stings the most acute, pursued them whithersoever they
might go. Fortune even seemed to favour them; for fortune will,
sometimes, in this world, appear to side with the wicked. Wolfstein
had received notice, that an uncle, possessed of immense wealth, had
died in Bohemia, and bequeathed to him the whole of his estate.
Thither then, with Megalena, went Wolfstein. Their journey produced no
event of consequence; suffice it to say, that they arrived at the spot
where Wolfstein's new possessions were situated.

Dark and desolate were the scenes which surrounded the no less
desolate castle. Gloomy heaths, in unvarying sadness of immensity,
stretched far and wide. A scathed pine or oak, blasted by the
thunderbolts of heaven, alone broke the monotonous sameness of the
imagery. Needless were it to describe the castle, built like all those
of the Bohemian barons, in mingled Gothic and barbarian architecture.
Over the dark expanse the dim moon beaming, and faintly, with its
sepulchral radiance, dispersing the thickness of the vapours which
lowered around (for her waning horn, which hung low above the horizon,
added but tenfold horror to the terrific desolation of the scene); the
night-raven pouring on the dull ear of evening her frightful screams,
and breaking on the otherwise uninterrupted stillness,--were the
melancholy greetings to their new habitation.

They alighted at the antique entrance, and, passing through a vast and
comfortless hall, were conducted into a saloon not much less so. The
coolness of the evening, for it was late in the autumn, made the wood
fire, which had been lighted, disperse a degree of comfort; and
Wolfstein, having arranged his domestic concerns, continued talking
with Megalena until midnight.

"But you have never yet correctly explained to me," said Megalena,
"the mystery which encircled that strange man whom we met at the inn
at Breno. I think I have seen him once since, or I should not now have
thought of the circumstance."

"Indeed, Megalena, I know of no mystery. I suppose the man was mad, or
wished to make us think so; for my part, I have never thought of him
since; nor ever intend to think of him."

"Do you not?" exclaimed a voice, which enchained motionless to his
seat the horror-struck Wolfstein--when turning round, and starting in
agonized frenzy from his chair, Ginotti himself--Ginotti--from whose
terrific gaze never had he turned unappalled, stood in cool and
fearless contempt before him!

"Do you not?" continued the mysterious stranger." Never again
intendest thou to think of me?--me! who have watched each expanding
idea, conscious to what I was about to apply them, conscious of the
great purpose for which each was formed. Ah! Wolfstein, by my agency
shalt thou--" He paused, assuming a smile expressive of exultation and
superiority.

"Oh! do with me what thou wilt, strange, inexplicable being!--Do with
me what thou wilt!" exclaimed Wolfstein, as an ecstacy of frenzied
terror overpowered his astonished senses. Megalena still sat unmoved:
she was surprised, it is true; but most was she surprised, that an
event like this should have power so to shake Wolfstein; for even then
he stood gazing in enhorrored silence on the majestic figure of
Ginotti.

"Fool, then, that thou art, to deny me!" continued Ginotti, in a tone
less solemn, but more severe. "Wilt thou promise me that, when I come
to demand what thou covenantedst with me at Breno, I meet no fears, no
scruples, but that, then, thou wilt perform what there thou didst
swear, and that this oath shall be inviolable?"

"It shall," replied Wolfstein.

"Swear it."

"As I keep my vows with you, may God reward me hereafter!"

"'Tis done then," returned Ginotti. "Ere long shall I claim the
performance of this covenant--now farewell." Speaking thus, Ginotti
dashed away; and, mounting a horse which stood at the gate, sped
swiftly across the heath. His form lessened in the clear moonlight;
and, when it was no longer visible to the straining eyeballs of
Wolfstein, he felt, as it were, a spell which had enthralled him, to
be dissolved.

Reckless of Megalena's earnest entreaties, he threw himself into a
chair, in deep and gloomy melancholy; he answered them not, but,
immersed in a train of corroding ideas, remained silent. Even when
retired to repose, and he could, occasionally, sink into a transitory
slumber, would he again start from it, as he thought that Ginotti's
majestic form leaned over him, and that the glance which, last, his
fearful eye had thrown, chilled his breast with indescribable agony.
Slowly lagged the time to Wolfstein; Ginotti, though now gone, and far
away perhaps, dwelt in his disturbed mind; his image was there
imprinted in characters terrific and indelible. Oft would he wander
along the desolate heath; on every blast of wind which sighed over the
scattered remnants of what was once a forest, Ginotti's, the terrific
Ginotti's voice seemed to float; and in every dusky recess, favoured
by the descending shades of gloomy night, his form appeared to lurk,
and, with frightful glare, his eye to penetrate the conscience-
stricken Wolfstein as he walked. A falling leaf, or a hare starting
from her heathy seat, caused him to shrink with affright; yet, though
dreading loneliness, he was irresistibly compelled to seek for
solitude. Megalena's charms had now no longer power to speak comfort
to his soul: ephemeral are the friendships of the wicked, and
involuntary disgust follows the attachment founded on the visionary
fabric of passion or interest. It sinks in the merited abyss of ennui,
or is followed by apathy and carelessness, which amply its origin
deserved.

The once ardent and excessive passion of Wolfstein for Megalena, was
now changed into disgust and almost detestation; he sought to conceal
it from her, but it was evident, in spite of his resolution. He
regarded her as a woman capable of the most shocking enormities;
since, without any adequate temptation to vice, she had become
sufficiently depraved to consider an inconsequent crime the wilful and
premeditated destruction of a fellow-creature; still, whether it were
from the indolence which he had contracted, or an indefinably
sympathetic connexion of soul, which forbade them to part during their
mortal existence, was Wolfstein irremediably linked to his mistress,
who was as depraved as himself, though originally of a better
disposition. He likewise had, at first, resisted the allurements of
vice; but, overpowered by its incitements, had resigned himself,
indeed reluctantly, to its influence. But Megalena had courted its
advances, and endeavoured to conquer neither the suggestions of crime,
nor the dictates of a nature prone to the attacks of appetite--let me
not call it passion.

Fast advanced winter: cheerless and solitary were the days. Wolfstein,
occasionally, followed the chase; but even that was wearisome: and the
bleeding image of the murdered Olympia, or the still more dreaded idea
of the terrific Ginotti, haunted him in the midst of its tumultuous
pleasures, and embittered every instant of his existence. The pale
corpse too of Cavigni, blackened by poison, reigned in his chaotic
imagination, and stung his soul with tenfold remorse, when he
reflected that he had murdered one who never had injured him, for the
sake of a being whose depraved society every succeeding day rendered
more monotonous and insipid.

It was one evening when, according to his custom, Wolfstein wandered
late: it was in the beginning of December, and the weather was
peculiarly mild for the season and latitude. Over the cerulean expanse
of ether the dim moon, shrouded in the fleeting fragments of vapour,
which, borne on the pinions of the northern blast, crossed her pale
orb; at intervals, the dismal hooting of the owl, which, searching for
prey, flitted her white wings over the dusky heath; the silver beams
which slept on the outline of the far-seen forests, and the melancholy
stillness, uninterrupted save by these concomitants of gloom, conduced
to sombre reflection. Wolfstein reclined upon the heath; he retraced,
in mental review, the past events of his life, and shuddered at the
darkness of his future destiny. He strove to repent of his crimes;
but, though conscious of the connexion which existed between the
ideas, as often as repentance presented itself to his mind, Ginotti
rushed upon his troubled imagination, and a dark veil seemed to
separate him for ever from contrition, notwithstanding he was
constantly subjected to the tortures inflicted by it. At last, wearied
with the corroding recollections, the acme of which progressively
increased, he bent his steps again towards his habitation.

As he was entering the portal, a grasp of iron arrested his arm, and,
turning round, he recognised the tall figure of Ginotti, which
enveloped in a mantle, had leaned against a jutting buttress.
Amazement, for a time, chained the faculties of Wolfstein in
motionless surprise: at last he recollected himself, and, in a voice
trembling from agitation, inquired, did he now demand the performance
of the promise?

"I come," he said, "I come to demand it, Wolfstein! Art thou willing
to perform what thou hast promised?--but come--"

A degree of solemnity, mixed with concealed fierceness, toned his
voice as he spoke; yet was he fixed in the attitude in which first he
had addressed Wolfstein. The pale ray of the moon fell upon his dark
features, and his coruscating eye fixed on his trembling victim's
countenance, flashed with almost intolerable brilliancy. A chill
horror darted through Wolfstein's sickening frame; his brain swam
around wildly, and most appalling presentiments of what was about to
happen, pressed upon his agonized intellect. "Yes, yes, I have
promised, and I will perform the covenant I have entered into," said
Wolfstein; "I swear to you that I will!" and as he spoke, a kind of
mechanical and inspired feeling steeled his soul to fortitude; it
seemed to arise independently of himself; nor could he, though he
eagerly desired to do so, control, in the least, his own resolves.
Such an impulse as this had first induced him to promise at all. Ah!
how often in Ginotti's absence had he resisted it! but when the
mysterious disposer of the events of his existence was before him, a
consciousness of the inutility of his refusal compelled him to submit
to the mandates of a being, whom his heart sickening to acknowledge,
it unwillingly confessed as a superior.

"Come," continued Ginotti; "the hour is late, I must dispatch."

Unresisting, yet speaking not, Wolfstein conducted Ginotti to an
apartment.

"Bring wine, and light a fire," said he to the servant, who quickly
obeyed him. Wolfstein swallowed an overflowing goblet, hoping thereby
to acquire courage; for he found that, with every moment of Ginotti's
stay, the visionary and awful terrors of his mind augmented.

"Do you not drink?"

"No," replied Ginotti, sullenly.

A pause ensured; during which the eyes of Ginotti, glaring with
demoniacal scintillations, spoke tenfold terrors to the soul of
Wolfstein. He knitted his brows and bit his lips, in vain attempting
to appear unembarrassed. "Wolfstein!" at last said Ginotti, breaking
the fearful silence; "Wolfstein!"

The colour fled from the cheek of his victim, as thus Ginotti spoke:
he moved his posture, and awaited, in anxious and horrible solicitude,
the declaration which was, as he supposed, to ensue. "My name, my
family, and the circumstances which have attended my career through
existence, it neither boots you to know, nor me to declare."

"Does it not?" said Wolfstein, scarcely knowing what to say; yet
convinced, from the pause, that something was expected.

"No! nor canst thou, nor any other existing being, even attempt to
dive into the mysteries which envelope me. Let it be sufficient for
you to know, that every event in your life has not only been known to
me, but has occurred under my particular machinations."

Wolfstein started. The terror which had blanched his cheek now gave
way to an expression of fierceness and surprise; he was about to
speak, but Ginotti, noticing not his motion, thus continued:

"Every opening idea which has marked, in so decided and so eccentric
an outline, the fiat of your future destiny, has not been unknown to
or unnoticed by me. I rejoiced to see in you, whilst young, the
progress of that genius which in mature time would entitle you to the
reward which I destine for you, and for you alone. Even when far, far
away, when the ocean perhaps has roared between us, have I known your
thoughts, Wolfstein; yet have I known them neither by conjecture nor
inspiration. Never would your mind have attained that degree of
expansion or excellence had not I watched over its every movement, and
taught the sentiment, as it unfolded itself, to despise contented
vulgarity. For this, and for an event far more important than any your
existence yet has been subjected to, have I watched over you: say,
Wolfstein, have I watched in vain?"

Each feeling of resentment vanished from Wolfstein's bosom, as the
mysterious intruder spoke: his voice at last died, in a clear and
melancholy cadence, away; and his expressive eye, divested of its
fierceness and mystery, rested on Wolfstein's countenance with a mild
benignity.

"No, no; thou hast not watched in vain, mysterious disposer of my
existence. Speak! I burn with curiosity and solicitude to learn for
what thou hast thus superintended me:" and as thus he spoke, a feeling
of resistless anxiety to know what would be the conclusion of the
night's adventure, took place of horror. Inquiringly he gazed on the
countenance of Ginotti, the features of whom were brightened with
unwonted animation. "Wolfstein," said Ginotti, "often hast thou sworn
that I should rest in the grave in peace:--now listen."

CHAP. IX.

If Satan had never fallen.
Hell had been made for thee.
--The Revenge.

Ah! poor, unsuspecting innocence! and is that fair flower about to
perish in the blasts of dereliction and unkindness? Demon indeed must
he be who could gaze on those mildly-beaming eyes, on that perfect
form, the emblem of sensibility, and yet plunge the spotless mind of
which it was an index, into a sea of repentance and unavailing sorrow.
I should scarce suppose even a demon would act so, were there not many
with hearts more depraved even than those of fiends, who first have
torn some unsophisticated soul from the pinnacle of excellence, on
which it sat smiling, and then triumphed in their hellish victory when
it writhed in agonized remorse, and strove to hide its unavailing
regret in the dust from which the fabric of her virtues had arisen.
"Ah! I fear me, the unsuspecting girl will go;" she knows not the
malice and the wiles of perjured man--and she is gone!

It was late in the evening, and Eloise had returned from her mother's
funeral, sad and melancholy; yet even amidst the oppression of grief,
surprise and astonishment, pleasure and thankfulness, that any one
should notice her, possessed her mind as she read over and over the
characters traced on the note which she still held in her hand. The
hour was late; the moon was down, yet countless stars bedecked the
almost boundless hemisphere. The mild beams of Hesper slept on the
glassy surface of the lake, as, scarcely agitated by the zephyr of
evening, its waves rolled in slow succession; the solemn umbrage of
the pine-trees, mingled with the poplar, threw their undefined shadows
on the water; and the nightingale, sitting solitary in the hawthorn,
poured on the listening stillness of evening, her grateful lay of
melancholy. Hark! her full strains swell on the silence of night, and
now they die away, with lengthened and solemn cadence, insensibly into
the breeze, which lingers, with protracted sweep, along the valley.
Ah! with what enthusiastic ecstacy of melancholy does he whose friend,
whose dear friend, is far, far away, listen to such strains as these!
perhaps he has heard them with that friend,--with one he loves: never
again may they meet his ear. Alas! 't is melancholy; I even now see
him sitting on the rock which looks over the lake, in frenzied
listlessness; and counting in mournful review, the days which are past
since they fled so quickly with one who was dear to him.

It was to the ruined abbey which stood on the southern side of the
lake that, so swiftly, Eloise is hastening. A presentiment of awe
filled her mind; she gazed, in inquiring terror, around her, and
scarce could persuade herself that shapeless forms lurked not in the
gloomy recesses of the scenery.

She gained the abbey; in melancholy fallen grandeur its vast ruins
reared their pointed casements to the sky. Masses of disjointed stone
were scattered around; and, save by the whirrings of the bats, the
stillness which reigned, was uninterrupted. Here then was Eloise to
meet the strange one who professed himself to be her friend. Alas!
poor Eloise believed him. It yet wanted an hour to the time of
appointment; the expiration of that hour Eloise awaited. The abbey
brought to her recollection a similar ruin which stood near St.
Irvyne; it brought with it the remembrance of a song which Marianne
had composed soon after her brother's death. She sang, though in a low
voice:

SONG.

How stern are the woes of the desolate mourner.
  As he bends in still grief o'er the hallowed bier.
As enanguish'd he turns from the laugh of the scorner.
  And drops, to perfection's remembrance, a tear;
When floods of despair down his pale cheek are streaming.
When no blissful hope on his bosom is beaming.
Or, if lull'd for a while, soon he starts from his dreaming.
  And finds torn the soft ties to affection so dear.
Ah! when shall day dawn on the night of the grave.
  Or summer succeed to the winter of death?
Rest awhile, hapless victim, and Heaven will save
  The spirit, that faded away with the breath.
Eteruity points in its amaranth bower.
Where no clouds of fate o'er the sweet prospect lower.
Unspeakable pleasure, of goodness the dower.

When woe fades away like the mist of the heath. She ceased: the
melancholy cadence of her angelic voice died in faint reverberations
of echo away, and once again reigned stillness.

Now fast approached the hour; and, ere ten had struck, a stranger of
towering and gigantic proportions walked along the ruined refectory;
without stopping to notice other objects, he advanced swiftly to
Eloise, who sat on a mishapen piece of ruin, and, throwing aside the
mantle which enveloped his figure, discovered to her astonished sight
the stranger of the Alps, who of late had been incessantly present to
her mind. Amazement, for a time, chained each faculty in stupefaction;
she would have started from her seat, but the stranger, with gentle
violence grasping her hand, compelled her to remain where she was.

"Eloise," said the stranger, in a voice of the most fascinating
tenderness--"Eloise!"

The softness of his accents changed, in an instant, what was passing
in the bosom of Eloise. She felt no surprise that he knew her name;
she experienced no dread at this mysterious meeting with a person, at
the bare mention of whose name she was wont to tremble: no, the ideas
which filled her mind were indefinable. She gazed upon his countenance
for a moment, then, hiding her face in her hands, sobbed loudly.

"What afflicts you, Eloise?" said the stranger: "how cruel, that such
a breast as thine should be tortured by pain!"

"Ah!" cried Eloise, forgetting that she spoke to a stranger; "how can
one avoid sorrow, when there, perhaps, is scarce a being in the world
whom I can call my friend; when there is no one on whom I lay claim
for protection?"

"Say not, Eloise," cried the stranger, reproachfully, yet benignly;
"say not that you can claim none as a friend--you may claim me. Ah!
that I had ten thousand existences, that each might be devoted to the
service of one whom I love more than myself! Make me then the
repository of your every sorrow and secret. I love you, indeed I do,
Eloise, and why will you doubt me?"

"I do not doubt you, stranger," replied the unsuspecting girl; "why
should I doubt you? for you could have no interest in saying so, if
you did not.--I thank you for loving one who is quite, quite
friendless; and, if you will allow me to be your friend, I will love
you too. I never loved any one, before, but my poor mother and
Marianne. Will you then, if you are a friend to me, come and live with
me and Marianne, at St. Irvyne's?"

"St. Irvyne's!" exclaimed the stranger, almost convulsively, as he
interrupted her; then, as fearing to betray his emotions, he paused,
yet quitted not the grasp of Eloise's hand, which trembled within his
with feelings which her mind distrusted not.

"Yes, sweet Eloise, I love you indeed." At last he said,
affectionately, "And I thank you much for believing me; but I cannot
live with you at St. Irvyne's. Farewell, for to-night, however; for my
poor Eloise has need of sleep." He then was quitting the abbey, when
Eloise stopped him to inquire his name.

"Frederic de Nempere."

"Ah! then I shall recollect Frederio de Nempere, as the name of a
friend, even if I never again behold him."

"Indeed I am not faithless; soon shall I see you again. Farewell,
beloved Eloise." Thus saying, with rapid step he quitted the ruin.

Though he was now gone, the sound of his tender farewell yet seemed to
linger on the ear of Eloise; but with each moment of his absence,
became lessened the conviction of his friendship, and heightened the
suspicions which, though unaccountable to herself, possessed her
bosom. She could not conceive what motive could have led her to own
her love for one whom she feared, and felt a secret terror, from the
conviction of the resistless empire which he possessed within her: yet
though she shrank from the bare idea of ever becoming his, did she
ardently, though scarcely would she own it to herself, desire again to
see him.

Eloise now returned to Geneva: she resigned herself to sleep, but even
in her dreams was the image of Nempere present to her imagination. Ah!
poor deluded Eloise, didst thou think a man would merit thy love
through disinterestedness? didst thou think that one who supposed
himself superior, yet inferior in reality, to you, in the scale of
existent beings, would desire thy society from love? yet superior as
the fool here supposes himself to be to the creature whom he injures,
superior as he boasts himself, he may howl with the fiends of
darkness, in never-ending misery, whilst thou shalt receive, at the
throne of the God whom thou hast loved, the rewards of that
unsuspecting excellence, which he who boasts his superiority, shall
suffer for trampling upon. Reflect on this, ye libertines, and, in the
full career of the lasciviousness which has unfitted your souls for
enjoying the slightest real happiness here or hereafter, tremble!
Tremble! I say; for the day of retribution will arrive. But the poor
Eloise need not tremble; the victims of your detested cunning need not
fear that day: no!--then will the cause of the broken-hearted be
avenged, by Him to whom their wrongs cry for redress.

Within a few miles of Geneva, Nempere possessed a country-house:
thither did he persuade Eloise to go with him; "For," said he, "though
I cannot come to St. Irvyne's, yet my friend will live with me."

"Yes indeed I will," replied Eloise; for whatever she might feel when
he was absent, in his presence she felt insensibly softened, and a
sentiment nearly approaching to love would, at intervals, take
possession of her soul. Yet was it by no means an easy task to lure
Eloise from the paths of virtue; it is true she knew but little, nor
was the expansion of her mind such as might justify the exultations of
a fiend at a triumph over her virtue; yet was it that very timid,
simple innocence, which prevented Eloise from understanding to what
the deep-laid sophistry of her false friend tended; and, not
understanding it, she could not be influenced by its arguments.
Besides, the principles and morals of Eloise were such, as could not
easily be shaken by the allurements which temptation might throw out
to her unsophisticated innocence.

"Why," said Nempere, "are we taught to believe that the union of two
who love each other is wicked, unless authorized by certain rites and
ceremonials, which certainly cannot change the tenour of sentiments
which it is destined that these two people should entertain of each
other?"

"It is, I suppose," answered Eloise calmly, "because God has willed it
so; besides," continued she, blushing at she knew not what, "it
would--"

"And is then the superior and towering soul of Eloise subjected to
sentiments and prejudices so stale and vulgar as these?" interrupted
Nempere indignantly. "Say, Eloise, do not you think it an insult to
two souls, united to each other in the irrefragable covenants of love
and congeniality; to promise, in the sight of a Being whom they know
not, that fidelity which is certain otherwise?"

"But I do know that Being!" cried Eloise with warmth; "and when I
cease to know him, may I die! I pray to him every morning, and, when I
kneel at night, I thank him for the mercy which he has shown to a poor
friendless girl like me! He is the protector of the friendless, and I
love and adore him!"

"Unkind Eloise! how canst thou call thyself friendless? Surely, the
adoration of two beings unfettered by restraint, must be most
acceptable!--But, come, Eloise, this conversation is nothing to the
purpose: I see we both think alike, although the terms in which we
express our sentiments are different. Will you sing to me, dear
Eloise?" Willingly did Eloise fetch her harp; she wished not to
scrutinize what was passing in her mind, but, after a short prelude,
thus began:

SONG.

I.

Ah! faint are her limbs, and her footstep is weary.
   Yet far must the desolate wanderer roam;
Though the tempest is stern, and the mountain is dreary.
  She must quit at deep midnight her pitiless home.
I see her swift foot dash the dew from the whortle.
As she rapidly hastes to the green grove of myrtle;
And I hear, as she wraps round her figure the kirtle.
  "Stay thy boat on the lake,--dearest Henry, I come."

II.

High swell'd in her bosom the throb of affection.
  As lightly her form bounded over the lea.
And arose in her mind every dear recollection:
  "I come, dearest Henry, and wait but for thee."
How sad, when dear hope every sorrow is soothing.
When sympathy's swell the soft bosom is moving.
And the mind the mild joys of affection is proving.
  Is the stern voice of fate that bids happiness flee!

III.

Oh! dark lower'd the clouds' on that horrible eve.
  And the moon dimly gleam'd through the tempested air;
Oh! how could fond visions such softness deceive?
  Oh! how could false hope rend a bosom so fair?
Thy love's pallid corse the wild surges are laving.
O'er his form the fierce swell of the tempest is raving;
But, fear not, parting spirit; thy goodness is saving.
  In eternity's bowers, a seat for thee there.
"How soft is that strain!" cried Nempere, as she concluded.

"Ah!" said Eloise, sighing deeply; "It is a melancholy song; my poor
brother wrote it, I remember, about ten days before he died. 'Tis a
gloomy tale concerning him; he ill deserved the fate he met. Some
future time I will tell it you; but now, 'tis very late.--Good-night."

Time passed, and Nempere, finding that he must proceed more warily,
attempted no more to impose upon the understanding of Eloise by such
palpably baseless arguments; yet, so great and so unaccountable an
influence had he gained on her unsuspecting soul, that ere long, on
the altar of vice, pride, and malice, was immolated the innocence of
the spotless Eloise. Ah, ye proud! in the severe consciousness of
unblemished reputation, in the fallacious opinion of the world, why
turned ye away, as if fearful of contamination, when yon poor frail
one drew near? See the tears which steal adown her cheek!--She has
repented, ye have not!

And thinkest thou, libertine, from a principle of depravity--thinkest
thou that thou hast raised thyself to the level of Eloise, by trying
to sink her to thine own?--No!--Hopest thou that thy curse has passed
away unheeded or unseen? The God whom thou hast insulted has marked
thee!--In the everlasting tablets of heaven, is thine offence
written!--but poor Eloise's crime is obliterated by the mercy of Him,
who knows the innocence of her heart.

Yes--thy sophistry hath prevailed, Nempere!--'t is but blackening the
memoir of thine offences!--Hark! what shriek broke upon the
enthusiastic silence of twilight?--'T was the fancied scream of one
who loved Eloise long ago, but now is--dead. It warns thee--alas! 't
is unavailing!!--'T is fled, but not for ever.

It is evening; the moon, which rode in cloudless and unsullied
majesty, in the leaden-coloured east, hath hidden her pale beams in a
dusky cloud, as if blushing to contemplate a scene of so much
wickedness.

'T is done; and amidst the vows of a transitory delirium of pleasure,
regret, horror, and misery, arise! they shake their Gorgon locks at
Eloise! appalled she shudders with affright, and shrinks from the
contemplation of the consequences of her imprudence. Beware, Eloise!--
a precipice, a frightful precipice yawns at thy feet! advance yet a
step further, and thou perishest!--No, give not up thy religion--it
is that alone which can support thee under the miseries, with which
imprudence has so darkly marked the progress of thine existence!



CHAPTER. X.



The elements respect their Maker's seal!
  Still like the scathed pine-tree's height.
  Braving the tempests of the night.
Have I' scap'd the bickering flame.
Like the scath'd pine, which a monument stands
Of faded grandeur, which the brands
  Of the tempest-shaken air
Have riven on the desolate heath;
Yet it stands majestic even in death.
  And rears its wild from there.
--Wandering Jew.

Yet, in an attitude of attention, Wolfstein was fixed, and, gazing
upon Ginotti's countenance, awaited his narrative.

"Wolfstein," said Ginotti, "the circumstances which I am about to
communicate to you are, many of them, you may think, trivial; but I
must be minute, and, however the recital may excite your astonishment,
suffer me to proceed without interruption."

Wolfstein bowed affirmatively--Ginotti thus proceeded:

"From my earliest youth, before it was quenched by complete satiation,
curiosity, and a desire of unveiling the latent mysteries of nature,
was the passion by which all the other emotions of my mind were
intellectually organized. This desire first led me to cultivate, and
with success, the various branches of learning which led to the gates
of wisdom. I then applied myself to the cultivation of philosophy, and
the clt with which I pursued it, exceeded my most sanguine
expectations. Love I cared not for; and wondered why men perversely
sought to ally themselves with weakness. Natural philosophy at last
became the peculiar science to which I directed my eager inquiries;
thence was I led into a train of labyrinthic meditations. I thought of
death--I shuddered when I reflected, and shrank in horror from the
idea, selfish and self-interested as I was, of entering a new
existence to which I was a stranger. I must either dive into the
recesses of futurity, or I must not, I cannot die.--'Will not this
nature--will not the matter of which it is composed, exist to all
eternity? Ah! I know it will; and, by the exertions of the energies
with which nature has gifted me, well I know it shall.' This was my
opinion at that time: I then believed that there existed no God. Ah!
at what an exorbitant price have I bought the conviction that there is
one!!! Believing that priestcraft and superstition were all the
religion which man ever practised, it could not be supposed that I
thought there existed supernatural beings of any kind. I believed
nature to be self-sufficient and excelling; I supposed not, therefore,
that there could be any thing beyond nature.

"I was now about seventeen: I had dived into the depths of
metaphysical calculations. With sophistical arguments had I convinced
myself of the non-existence of a First Cause, and, by every combined
modification of the essences of matter, had I apparently proved that
no existences could possibly be, unseen by human vision. I had lived,
hitherto, completely for myself; I cared not for others; and, had the
hand of fate swept from the list of the living every one of my
youthful associates, I should have remained immoved and fearless. I
had not a friend in the world;--I cared for nothing but self. Being
fond of calculating the effects of poison, I essayed one, which I had
composed, upon a youth who had offended me; he lingered a month, and
then expired in agonies the most terrific. It was returning from his
funeral, which all the students of the college where I received my
education (Salamanca), had attended, that a train of the strangest
thought pressed upon my mind. I feared, more than ever, now, to die;
and, although I had no right to form hopes or expectations for longer
life than is allotted to the rest of mortals, yet did I think it were
possible to protract existence. And why, reasoned I with myself,
relapsing into melancholy, why am I to suppose that these muscles or
fibres are made of stuff more durable than those of other men? I have
no right to suppose otherwise than that, at the end of the time
allotted by nature, for the existence of the atoms which compose my
being, I must, like all other men, perish, perhaps everlastingly.--
Here in the bitterness of my heart, I cursed that nature and chance
which I believed in; and, in a paroxysmal frenzy of contending
passions, cast myself, in desperation, at the foot of a lofty ash-
tree, which reared its fantastic form over a torrent which dashed
below.

"It was midnight; far had I wandered from Salamanca; the passions
which agitated my brain, almost to delirium, had added strength to my
nerves, and swiftness to my feet; but after many hours' incessant
walking, I began to feel fatigued. No moon was up, nor did one star
illume the hemisphere. The sky was veiled by a thick covering of
clouds; and, to my heated imagination, the winds, which in stern
cadence swept along the night-scene, whistled tidings of death and
annihilation. I gazed on the torrent, foaming beneath my feet; it
could scarcely be distinguished through the thickness of the gloom,
save at intervals, when the white-crested waves dashed at the base of
the bank on which I stood. 'T was then that I contemplated self-
destruction; I had almost plunged into the tide of death, had rushed
upon the unknown regions of eternity, when the soft sound of a bell
from a neighbouring convent, was wafted in the stillness of the night.
It struck a chord in unison with my soul; it vibrated on the secret
springs of rapture. I thought no more of suicide, but, reseating
myself at the root of the ash-tree, burst into a flood of tears;--
never had I wept before; the sensation was new to me; it was
inexplicably pleasing. I reflected by what rules of science I could
account for it: there philosophy failed me. I acknowledged its
inefficacy; and, almost at that instant, allowed the existence of a
superior and beneficent Spirit, in whose image is made the soul of
man; but quickly chasing these ideas, and, overcome by excessive and
unwonted fatigue of mind and body, I laid my head upon a jutting
projection of the tree, and, forgetful of every thing around me, sank
into a profound and quiet slumber. Quiet, did I say? No--It was not
quiet. I dreamed that I stood on the brink of a most terrific
precipice, far, far above the clouds, amid whose dark forms which
lowered beneath, was seen the dashing of a stupendous cataract: its
roarings were borne to mine ear by the blast of night. Above me rose,
fearfully embattled and rugged, fragments of enormous rocks, tinged by
the dimly gleaming moon; their loftiness, the grandeur of their
mishapen proportions, and their bulk, staggering the imagination; and
scarcely could the mind itself scale the vast loftiness of their
aerial summits. I saw the dark clouds pass by, borne by the
impetuosity of the blast, yet felt no wind myself. Methought darkly
gleaming forms rode on their almost palpable prominences.

"Whilst thus I stood, gazing on the expansive gulf which yawned before
me, methought a silver sound stole on the quietude of night. The moon
became as bright as polished silver, and each star sparkled with
scintillations of inexpressible whiteness. Pleasing images stole
imperceptibly upon my senses, when a ravishingly sweet strain of
dulcet melody seemed to float around. Now it was wafted nearer, and
now it died away in tones to melancholy dear. Whilst I thus stood
enraptured, louder swelled the strain of seraphic harmony; it vibrated
on my inmost soul, and a mysterious softness lulled each impetuous
passion to repose. I gazed in eager anticipation of curiosity on the
scene before me; for a mist of silver radiance rendered every object
but myself imperceptible; yet was it brilliant as the noon-day sun.
Suddenly, whilst yet the full strain swelled along the empyrean sky,
the mist in one place seemed to dispart, and, through it, to roll
clouds of deepest crimson. Above them, and seemingly reclining on the
viewless air, was a form of most exact and superior symmetry. Rays of
brilliancy, surpassing expression, fell from his burning eye, and the
emanations from his countenance tinted the transparent clouds below
with silver light. The phantasm advanced towards me; it seemed then,
to my imagination, that his figure was borne on the sweet strain of
music which filled the circumambient air. In a voice which was
fascination itself, the being addressed me, saying, 'Wilt thou come
with me? wilt thou be mine?' I felt a decided wish never to be his.
'No, no,' I unhesitatingly cried, with a feeling which no language can
either explain or describe. No sooner had I uttered these words than
methought a sensation of deadly horror chilled my sickening frame; an
earthquake rocked the precipice beneath my feet; the beautiful being
vanished; clouds, as of chaos, rolled around, and from their dark
masses flashed incessant meteors. I heard a deafening noise on every
side; it appeared like the dissolution of nature; the blood-red moon,
whirled from her sphere, sank beneath the horizon. My neck was grasped
firmly, and, turning round in an agony of horror, I beheld a form more
hideous than the imagination of man is capable of portraying, whose
proportions, gigantic and deformed, were seemingly blackened by the
inerasible traces of the thunderbolts of God; yet in its hideous and
detestable countenance, though seemingly far different, I thought I
could recognise that of the lovely vision: 'Wretch!' it exclaimed, in
a voice of exulting thunder; 'saidst thou that thou wouldst not be
mine? Ah! thou art mine beyond redemption; and I triumph in the
conviction, that no power can ever make thee otherwise. Say, art thou
willing to be mine?' Saying this, he dragged me to the brink of the
precipice: the contemplation of approaching death frenzied my brain to
the highest pitch of horror. 'Yes, yes, I am thine,' I exclaimed. No
sooner had I pronounced these words, than the visionary scene
vanished, and I awoke. But even when awake, the contemplation of what
I had suffered, whilst under the influence of sleep, pressed upon my
disordered fancy; my intellect, wild with unconquerable emotions,
could fix on no one particular point to exert its energies; they were
strained beyond their power of exerting.

"Ever, from that day, did a deep-corroding melancholy usurp the throne
of my soul. At last during the course of my philosophical inquiries, I
ascertained the method by which man might exist for ever, and it was
connected with my dream. It would unfold a tale of too much horror to
trace, in review, the circumstances as then they occurred; suffice it
to say, that I became acquainted that a superior being really exists:
and ah! how dear a price have I paid for the knowledge! To one man,
alone, Wolfstein, may I communicate this secret of immortal life: then
must I forego my claim to it,--and oh! with what pleasure shall I
forego it! To you I bequeath the secret; but first you must swear that
if--you wish God may--"

"I swear," cried Wolfstein, in a transport of delight; burning ecstacy
revelled through his veins; pleasurable coruscations were emitted from
his eyes. "I swear," continued he; "and if ever--may God--" "Needless
were it for me," continued Ginotti, "to expatiate further upon
themeans which I have used to become master over your every action;
that will be sufficiently explained when you have followed my
directions. Take," continued Ginotti, "--and--and--mix them according
to the directions which this book will communicate to you. Seek, at
midnight, the ruined abbey near the castle of St. Irvyne, in France;
and there--I need say no more--there you will meet with me."



CHAPTER. XI.



The varying occurrences of time and change, which bring anticipation
of better days, brought none to the hapless Eloise. Nempere now having
gained the point which his villany had projected, felt little or no
attachment left for the unhappy victim of his baseness; he treated her
indeed most cruelly, and his unkindness added greatly to the severity
of her afflictions. One day, when, weighed down by the extreme
asperity of her woes, Eloise sat leaning her head on her hand, and
mentally retracing, in sickening and mournful review, the concatenated
occurrences which had led her to become what she was, she sought to
change the bent of her ideas, but in vain. The feelings of her soul
were but exacerbated by the attempt to quell them. Her dear brother's
death, that brother so tenderly beloved, added a sting to her
sensations. Was there any one on earth to whom she was now attracted
by a wish of pouring in the friend's bosom ideas and feelings
indefinable to any one else? Ah, no! that friend existed not; never,
never more would she know such a friend. Never did she really love any
one; and now had she sacrificed her conviction of right and wrong to a
man who neither knew how to appreciate her excellence, nor was
adequate to excite other sensation than of terror and dread.

Thus were her thoughts engaged, when Nempere entered the apartment,
accompanied by a gentleman, whom he unceremoniously announced as the
Chevalier Mountfort, an Englishman of rank, and his friend. He was a
man of handsome countenance and engaging manners. He conversed with
Eloise with an ill-disguised conviction of his own superiority, and
seemed indeed to assert, as it were, a right of conversing with her;
nor did Nempere appear to dispute his apparent assumption. The
conversation turned upon music; Mountfort asked Eloise her opinion;
"Oh!" said Eloise, enthusiastically, "I think it sublimes the soul to
heaven; I think it is, of all earthly pleasures, the most excessive.
Who, when listening to harmoniously-arranged sounds of music, exists
there, but must forget his woes, and lose the memory of every earthly
existence in the ecstatic emotions which it excites? Do you not think
so, Chevalier?" said she; for the liveliness of his manner enchanted
Eloise, whose temper, naturally elastic and sprightly, had been damped
as yet by misery and seclusion. Mountfort smiled at the energetic
avowal of her feelings; for, whilst she yet spoke, her expressive
countenance became irradiated by the emanation of sentiment.

"Yes," said Mountfort, "it is indeed powerfully efficient to excite
the interests of the soul; but does it not, by the very act of
resuscitating the feelings, by working upon theperhaps, long dead
chords of secret and enthusiastic rapture, awaken the powers of grief
as well as pleasure?"

"Ah! it may do both," said Eloise, sighing.

He approached her at that instant. Nempere arose, as if intentionally,
and left the room. Mountfort pressed her hand to his heart with
earnestness: he kissed it, and then resigning it, said, "No, no,
spotless untainted Eloise; untainted even by surrounding depravity:--
not for worlds would I injure you. Oh! I can conceal it no longer--
will conceal it no longer--Nempere is a villain."

"Is he?" said Eloise, apparently resigned, now, to the severest shocks
of fortune: "then, then indeed I know not with whom to seek an asylum.
Methinks all are villains."

"Listen then, injured innocence, and reflect in whom thou hast
confided. Ten days ago, in the gaming-house at Geneva, Nempere was
present. He engaged in play with me, and I won of him considerable
sums. He told me that he could not pay me now, but that he had a
beautiful girl whom he would give to me, if I would release him from
the obligation. 'Est elle une fille de joye?' I inquired. 'Oui, et de
vertu practicable.' This quieted my conscience. In a moment of
licentiousness, I acceded to his proposal; and, as money is almost
valueless to me, I tore the bond for three thousand zechins: but did I
think that an angel was to be sacrificed to the degrading avarice of
the being to whom her fate was committed? By heavens, I will this
moment seek him,--upbraid him with his inhuman depravity,--and--"
"Oh! stop, stop," cried Eloise, "do not seek him; all, all is well--I
will leave him. Oh! how I thank you, stranger, for this unmerited pity
to a wretch who is, alas! too conscious that she deserves it not."--
"Ah! you deserve every thing," interrupted the impassioned Mountfort;
"you deserve paradise. But leave this perjured villain; and do not
say, unkind fair-one, that you have no friend; indeed you have a most
warm, disinterested friend in me."--"Ah! but," said Eloise,
hesitatingly, "what will the--"

"World say," she was about to have added; but the conviction of having
so lately and so flagrantly violated every regard to its opinion--she
only sighed. "Well," continued Mountfort, as if not perceiving her
hesitation; "you will accompany me to a cottage orne which I possess
at some little distance hence? Believe that your situation shall be
treated with the deference which it requires; and, however I may have
yielded to habitual licentiousness, I have too much honour to disturb
the sorrows of one who is a victim to that of another." Licentious and
free as had been the career of Mountfort's life, it was by no means
the result of a nature naturally prone to vice; it had been owing to
the unchecked sallies of an imagination not sufficiently refined. At
the desolate situation of Eloise, however, every good propensity in
his nature urged him to take compassion on her. His heart, originally
susceptible of the finest feelings, was touched, and he really and
sincerely--yes, a libertine, but not one from principle, sincerely
meant what he said.

"Thanks, generous stranger," said Eloise, with energy; "indeed I do
thank you." For not yet had acquaintance with the world sufficiently
bidden Eloise distrust the motives of its disciples. "I accept your
offer, and only hope that my compliance may not induce you to regard
me otherwise than I am."

"Never, never can I regard you as other than a suffering angel,"
replied the impassioned Mountfort. Eloise blushed at what the
energetic force of Mountfort's manner assured her was not intended as
a compliment.

"But may I ask my generous benefactor, how, where, and when am I to be
released?"

"Leave that to me," returned Mountfort: "be ready to-morrow night at
ten o'clock. A chaise will wait beneath."

Nempere soon entered; their conversation was uninterrupted, and the
evening passed away uninteresting and slow.

Swiftly fled the intervening hours, and fast advanced the moment when
Eloise was about to try, again, the compassion of the world. Night
came, and Eloise entered the chaise; Mountfort leaped in after her.
For a while her agitation was excessive. Mountfort at last succeeded
in calming her; "Why, my dearest Ma'am'selle" said he, "why will you
thus needlessly agitate yourself? I swear to hold your honour far
dearer than my own life; and my companion--"

"What companion?" Eloise interrupted him, inquiringly.

"Why," replied he, "a friend of mine, who lives in my cottage; he is
an Irishman, and so very moral, and so averse to every species of
gaiet de coeur, that you need be under no apprehensions. In short, he
is a love-sick swain, without ever having found what he calls a
congenial female. He wanders about, writes poetry, and, in short, is
much too sentimental to occasion you any alarm on that account. And, I
assure you," added he, assuming a more serious tone, "although I may
not be quite so far gone in romance, yet I have feelings of honour and
humanity which teach me to respect your sorrows as my own."

"Indeed, indeed I believe you, generous stranger; nor do I think that
you could have a friend whose principles are dishonourable."

Whilst yet she spoke, the chaise stopped, and Mountfort, springing
from it, handed Eloise into his habitation. It was neatly fitted up in
the English taste.

"Fitzeustace," said Mountfort to his friend, "allow me to introduce
you to Madame Eloise de--." Eloise blushed, as did Fitzeustace.

"Come," said Fitzeustace, to conquer mauvaise honte, "supper is ready,
and the lady doubtlessly fatigued."

Fitzeustace was finely formed, yet there was a languor which pervaded
even his whole figure; his eyes were dark and expressive, and as,
occasionally, they met those of Eloise, gleamed with excessive
brilliancy, awakened doubtlessly by curiosity and interest. He said
but little during supper, and left to his more vivacious friend the
whole of Eloise's conversation, who animated at having escaped a
persecutor, and one she hated, displayed extreme command of social
powers. Yes, once again was Eloise vivacious: the sweet spirit of
social intercourse was not dead within,--that spirit which illumes
even slavery, which makes its horrors less terrific, and is not
annihilated in the dungeon itself.

At last arrived the hour of retiring--Morning came.

The cottage was situated in a beautiful valley. The odorous perfume of
roses and jasmine wafted on the zephyr's wing, the flowery steep which
rose before it, and the umbrageous loveliness of the surrounding
country, rendered it a spot the most fitted for joyous seclusion.
Eloise wandered out with Mountfort and his friend to view it; and so
accommodating was her spirit, that, ere long, Fitzeustace became known
to her as familiarly as if they had been acquainted all their lives.

Time fled on, and each day seemed only to succeed the other purposely
to vary the pleasures of this delightful retreat. Eloise sung in the
summer evenings, and Fitzeustace, whose taste for music was most
exquisite, accompanied her on his oboe.

By degrees the society of Fitzeustace, to which before she had
preferred Mountfort's, began to be more interesting. He insensibly
acquired a power over the heart of Eloise, which she herself was not
aware of. She involuntarily almost sought his society; and when, which
frequently happened, Mountfort was absent at Geneva, her sensations
were indescribably ecstatic in the society of his friend. She sat in
mute, in silent rapture, listening to the notes of his oboe, as they
floated on the stillness of evening: she feared not for the future,
but, as it were, in a dream of rapturous delight, supposed that she
must ever be as now--happy; not reflecting that, were he who caused
that happiness absent, it would exist no longer.

Fitzeustace madly, passionately doted on Eloise: in all the energy of
incontaminated nature, he sought but the happiness of the object of
his whole affections. He sought not to investigate the causes of his
woe; sufficient was it for him to have found one who could understand,
could sympathize in, the feelings and sensations which every child of
nature whom the world's refinements and luxury have not vitiated, must
feel,--that affection, that contempt of selfish gratification, which
every one whose soul towers at all above the multitude, must
acknowledge. He destined Eloise, in his secret soul, for his own. He
resolved to die--he wished to live with her; and would have purchased
one instant's happiness for her with ages of hopeless torments to be
inflicted on himself. He loved her with passionate and excessive
tenderness: were he absent from her but a moment, he would sigh with
love's impatience for her return; yet he feared to avow his flame,
lest this, perhaps, baseless dream of rapturous and enthusiastic
happiness might fade;--then, indeed Fitzeustace felt that he must die.

Yet was Fitzeustace mistaken: Eloise loved him with all the tenderness
of innocence; she confided in him unreservedly; and, though
unconscious of the nature of the love she felt for him, returned each
enthusiastically energetic prepossession of his towering mind with
ardour excessive and unrestrained. Yet did Fitzeustace suppose that
she loved him not. Ah! why did he think so?

Late one evening, Mountfort had gone to Geneva, and Fitzeustace
wandered with Eloise towards that spot which Eloise selected as their
constant evening ramble on account of its superior beauty. The tall
ash and oak, in mingled umbrage, sighed far above their heads; beneath
them were walks, artificially cut, yet imitating nature. They wandered
on, till they came to a pavilion which Mountfort had caused to be
erected. It was situated on a piece of land entirely surrounded by
water, yet peninsulated by a rustic bridge which joined it to the
walk.

Hither, urged mechanically, for their thoughts were otherwise
employed, wandered Eloise and Fitzeustace. Before them hung the moon
in cloudless majesty; her orb was reflected by every movement of the
crystalline water, which, agitated by the gentle zephyr, rolled
tranquilly. Heedless yet of the beauties of nature, the loveliness of
the scene, they entered the pavilion.

Eloise convulsively pressed her hand on her forehead.

"What is the matter, my dearest Eloise?" inquired Fitzeustace, whom
awakened tenderness had thrown off his guard.

"Oh! nothing, nothing; but a momentary faintness. It will soon go off;
let us sit down."

They entered the pavilion.

"'Tis nothing but drowsiness," said Eloise, affecting gaiety; "'t will
soon go off. I sate up late last night; that I believe was the
occasion."

"Recline on this sofa, then," said Fitzeustace, reaching another
pillow to make the couch easier; "and I will play some of those Irish
tunes which you admire so much."

Eloise reclined on the sofa, and Fitzeustace, seated on the floor,
began to play; the melancholy plaintiveness of his music touched
Eloise; she sighed, and concealed her tears in her handkerchief. At
length she sunk into a profound sleep: still Fitzeustace continued
playing, noticing not that she slumbered. He now perceived that she
spoke, but in so low a tone, that he knew she slept.

He approached. She lay wrapped in sleep; a sweet and celestial smile
played upon her countenance, and irradiated her features with a
tenfold expression of etheriality. Suddenly the visions of her
slumbers appeared to have changed; the smile yet remained, but its
expression was melancholy; tears stole gently from under her
eyelids:--she sighed.

Ah! with what eagerness of ecstacy did Fitzeustace lean over her form!
He dared not speak, he dared not move; but pressing a ringlet of hair
which had escaped its band, to his lips, waited silently.

"Yes, yes; I think--it may--" at last she muttered; but so confusedly,
as scarcely to be distinguishable.

Fitzeustace remained rooted in rapturous attention, listening.

"I thought, I thought he looked as if he could love me," scarcely
articulated the sleeping Eloise. "Perhaps, though he may not love me,
he may allow me to love him.--Fitzeustace!"

On a sudden, again were changed the visions of her slumbers; terrified
she started from sleep, and cried, "Fitzeustace!"



CHAPTER. XII.



For love is heaven, and heaven is love.
Lay of the last Minstrel.

Needless were it to expatiate on their transports; they loved each
other, and that is enough for those who have felt like Eloise and
Fitzeustace.

One night, rather later indeed than it was Mountfort's custom to
return from Geneva, Eloise and Fitzeustace sat awaiting his arrival.
At last it was too late any longer even to expect him; and Eloise was
about to bid Fitzeustace good-night, when a knock at the door aroused
them. Instantly, with a hurried and disordered step, his clothes
stained with blood, his countenance convulsed and pallid as death, in
rushed Mountfort.

An involuntary exclamation of surprise burst from the terrified
Eloise.

"What--what is the matter?"

"Oh, nothing, nothing!" answered Mountfort, in a tone of hurried, yet
desperate agony. The wildness of his looks contradicted his
assertions. Fitzeustace, who had been inquiring whether he was
wounded, on finding that he was not, flew to Eloise.

"Oh! go, go!" she exclaimed. "Something, I am convinced, is wrong.--
Tell me, dear Mountfort, what it is--in pity tell me."

"Nempere is dead!" replied Mountfort, in a voice of deliberate
desperation; then, pausing for an instant, he added in an under tone,
"And the officers of justice are in pursuit of me. Adieu, Eloise!--
Adieu, Fitzeustace! You know I must part with you--you know how
unwillingly.--My address is at--London.--Adieu--once again adieu!"

Saying this, as by a convulsive effort of despairing energy, he darted
from the apartment, and mounting a horse which stood at the gate,
swiftly sped away. Fitzeustace well knew the impossibility of his
longer stay; he did not seem surprised, but sighed.

"Ah! well I know," said Eloise, violently agitated, "I well know
myself to be the occasion of these misfortunes. Nempere sought for me;
the generous Mountfort would not give me up, and now is he compelled
to fly--perhaps may not even escape with life. Ah! I fear it is
destined that every friend must suffer in the fatality which environs
me. Fitzeustace!" she uttered this with such tenderness, that, almost
involuntarily, he clasped her hand, and pressed it to his bosom, in
the silent, yet expressive enthusiasm of love. "Fitzeustace! you will
not likewise desert the poor isolated Eloise?"

"Say not isolated, dearest love. Can, can you fear, my love, whilst
your Fitzeustace exists? Say, adored Eloise, shall we now be united,
never, never to part again? Say, will you consent to our immediate
union?"

"Know you not," exclaimed Eloise, in a low, faltering voice, "know you
not that I have been another's?

"Oh! suppose me not," interrupted the impassioned Fitzeustace, "the
slave of such vulgar and narrow-minded prejudice. Does the frightful
vice and ingratitude of Nempere sully the spotless excellence of my
Eloise's soul?--No, no,--that must ever continue uncontaminated by the
frailty of the body in which it is enshrined. It must rise superior to
the earth: 't is that which I adore, Eloise. Say, say, was that
Nempere's?"

"Oh! no, never!" cried Eloise, with energy. "Nothing but fear was
Nempere's."

"Then why say you that ever you were his?" said Fitzeustace,
reproachfully. "You never could have been his, destined as you were
for mine, from the first instant the particles composing the soul
which I adore, were assimilated by the God whom I worship."

"Indeed, believe me, dearest Fitzeustace, I love you, far beyond any
thing existing--indeed, existence were valueless, unless enjoyed with
you!"

Eloise, though a something prevented her from avowing them, felt the
enthusiastic and sanguine ideas of Fitzeustace to be true: her soul,
susceptible of the most exalted virtue and expansion, though cruelly
nipped in its growth, thrilled with delight unexperienced before, when
she found a being who could understand and perceive the truth of her
feelings, and indeed anticipate them, as did Fitzeustace; and he,
while gazing on the index of that soul, which associated with his, and
animated the body of Eloise, but for him, felt delight, which, glowing
and enthusiastic as had been his picture of happiness, he never
expected to know. His dark and beautiful eye gleamed with tenfold
luster; his every nerve, his every pulse, confessed the awakened
consciousness, that she, on whom his soul had doted, ever since he
acknowledged the existence of his intellectuality, was present before
him.

A short space of time passed, and Eloise gave birth to the son of
Nempere. Fitzeustace cherished it with the affection of a father, and,
when occasionally he necessarily must be absent from the apartment of
his beloved Eloise, his whole delight was to gaze on the child, and
trace in its innocent countenance the features of the mother who was
so beloved by him.

Time no longer dragged heavily to Eloise and Fitzeustace: happy in the
society of each other, they wished nor wanted other joys; united by
the laws of their God, and assimilated by congeniality of sentiment,
they supposed that each succeeding month must be like this, must pass
like this in the full satiety of every innocent union of mental
enjoyment. While thus the time sped in rapturous succession of
delight, autumn advanced.

The evening was late, when, at the usual hour, Eloise and Fitzeustace
took the way to their beloved pavilion. Fitzeustace was unusually
desponding, and his ideas for futurity were marked by the melancholy
of his mind. Eloise in vai, attempted to soothe him; the contention of
his mind was but too visible. She led him to the pavilion. They
entered it. The autumnal moon had risen; her dimly-gleaming orb,
scarcely now visible, was shrouded in the duskiness of the atmosphere:
like a spirit of the spotless ether, which shrinks from the obtrusive
gaze of man, she hung behind a leaden-coloured cloud. The wind in low
and melancholy whispering sighed among the branches of the towering
trees; the melody of the nightingale, which floated upon its dying
cadences, alone broke on the solemnity of the scene. Lives there,
whose soul experiences no degree of delight, is susceptible of no
gradations of feelings, at change of scenery? Lives there, who can
listen to the cadence of the evenign zephyr, and not acknowledge, in
his mind, the sensations of celestial melancholy which it awakens? for
if he does, his life were valueless, his death were undeplored.
Ambition, avarice, ten thousand mean, ignoble passions, had
extinguished within him that soft, but indefinable sensorium of
unallayed delight, with which his soul, whose susceptibility is not
destroyed by the demands of selfish appetite, thrills exultingly, and
wants but the union of another, of whom the feelings are in unison
with his own, to constitute almost insupportable delight.

Let Epicureans argue, and say, "There is no pleasure but in the
gratification of the senses." Let them enjoy their own opinion; I want
not pleasure, when I can enjoy happiness. Let Stoics say, "Every idea
that there are fine feelings, is weak; he who yields to them is even
weaker." Let those too, wise in their own conceit, indulge themselves
in sordid and degrading hypotheses; let them suppose human nature
capable of no influence from anything but materiality; so long as I
enjoy the innocent and congenial delight, which it were needless to
define to those who are strangers to it, I am satisfied.

"Dear Fitzeustace," said Eloise, "tell me what afflicts you; why are
you so melancholy?--Do not we mutually love, and have we not the
unrestrained enjoyment of each other's society?"

Fitzeustace sighed deeply; he pressed Eloise's hand. "Why does my
dearest Eloise suppose that I am unhappy?" The tone of his voice was
tremulous, and a deadly settled paleness dwelt on his cheek.

"Are you not unhappy, then, Fitzeustace?"

"I know I ought not to be so," he replied, with a faint smile;--he
paused--"Eloise," continued Fitzeustace, "I know I ought not to
grieve, but you will, perhaps, pardon me when I say, that a father's
curse, whether from the prejudice of education, or the innate
consciousness of its horror, agitates my mind. I cannot leave you, I
cannot go to England; and will you then leave your country, Eloise, to
accommodate me? No, I do not, I ought not to expect it."

"Oh! with pleasure; what is country? what is every thing without you?
Come, my love, dismiss these fears, we yet may be happy."

"But before we go to England, before my father will see us, it is
necessary that we should be married--nay, do not start, Eloise; I view
it in the light that you do; I consider it an human institution, and
incapable of furnishing that bond of union by which alone can
intellect be conjoined; I regard it as but a chain, which, although it
keeps the body bound, still leaves the soul unfettered: it is not so
with love. But still, Eloise, to those who think like us, it is at all
events harmless; 't is but yielding to the prejudices of the world
wherein we live, and procuring moral expediency, at a slight sacrifice
of what we conceive to be right.

"Well, well, it shall be done, Fitzeustace," resumed Eloise; "but take
the assurance of my promise that I cannot love you more."

They soon agreed on a point of, in their eyes, so trifling importance,
and arriving in England, tasted that happiness, which love and
innocence alone can give. Prejudice may triumph for a while, but
virtue will be eventually the conqueror.



CONCLUSION.

It was night--all was still; not a breeze dared to move, not a sound
to break the stillness of horror. Wolfstein has arrived at the village
near which St. Irvyne stood; he has sped him to the chteau, and has
entered the edifice; the garden door was open, and he entered the
vaults.

For a time, the novelty of his situation, and the painful recurrence
of past events, which, independently of his own energies, would gleam
upon his soul, rendered him too much confused to investigate minutely
the recesses of the cavern. Arousing himself, at last, however, from
this momentary suspension of faculty, he paced the vaults in eager
desire for the arrival of midnight. How inexpressible was his horror
when he fell on a body which appeared motionless and without life! He
raised it in his arms, and, taking it to the light, beheld, pallid in
death, the features of Megalena. The laugh of anguish which had
convulsed her expiring frame, still played around her mouth, as a
smile of horror and despair; her hair was loose and wild, seemingly
gathered in knots by the convulsive grasp of dissolution. She moved
not; his soul was nerved by almost superhuman powers; yet the ice of
despair chilled his burning brain. Curiosity, resistless curiosity,
even in a moment such as this, reigned in his bosom. The body of
Megalena was breathless, and yet no visible cause could be assigned
for her death. Wolfstein dashed the body convulsively on the earth,
and, wildered by the suscitated energies of his soul almost to
madness, rushed into the vaults.

Not yet had the bell announced the hour of midnight. Wolfstein sate on
a projecting mass of stone; his frame trembled with a burning
anticipation of what was about to occur; a thirst of knowledge
scorched his soul to madness; yet he stilled his wild energies,--yet
he awaited in silence the coming of Ginotti. At last the bell struck;
Ginotti came; his step was rapid, and his manner wild; his figure was
wasted almost to a skeleton, yet it retained its loftiness and
grandeur; still from his eye emanated that indefinable expression
which ever made Wolfstein shrink appalled. His cheek was sunken and
hollow, yet was it flushed by the hectic of despairing exertion.
"Wolfstein," he said, "Wolfstein, part is past--the hour of agonizing
horror is past; yet the dark and icy gloom of desperation braces this
soul to fortitude;--but come, let us to business." He spoke, and threw
his mantle on the ground. "I am blasted to endless torment," muttered
the mysterious. "Wolfstein, dost thou deny thy Creator?"--"Never,
never."--"Wilt thou not?"--"No, no,--any thing but that."

Deeper grew the gloom of the cavern. Darkness almost visible seemed to
press around them; yet did the scintillations which flashed from
Ginotti's burning gaze, dance on its bosom. Suddenly a flash of
lightning hissed through the lengthened vaults: a burst of frightful
thunder seemed to convulse the universal fabric of nature; and, borne
on the pinions of hell's sulphurous whirlwind, he himself, the
frightful prince of terror, stood before them. "Yes," howled a voice
superior to the bursting thunderpeal; "yes, thou shalt have eternal
life, Ginotti." On a sudden Ginotti's frame mouldered to a gigantic
skeleton, yet two pale and ghastly flames glared in his eyeless
sockets. Blackened in terrible convulsions, Wolfstein expired; over
him had the power of hell no influence. Yes, endless existence is
thine, Ginotti--a dateless and hopeless eternity of horror.

Ginotti is Nempere. Eloise is the sister of Wolfstein. Let then the
memory of these victims to hell and malice live in the remembrance of
those who can pity the wanderings of error; let remorse and repentance
expiate the offences which arise from the delusion of the passions,
and let endless life be sought from Him who alone can give an eternity
of happiness.



THE END



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