The Mysteries of Udolpho
Part 13 out of 16
'The death of the Marchioness appears extraordinary,' said Emily, who
was anxious to know more than she dared to ask.
'Yes, madam,' replied Dorothee, 'it was extraordinary; I have told
you all I saw, and you may easily guess what I think, I cannot say
more, because I would not spread reports, that might offend my lord
'You are very right,' said Emily;--'where did the Marquis die?'--'In
the north of France, I believe, ma'amselle,' replied Dorothee. 'I
was very glad, when I heard my lord the Count was coming, for this
had been a sad desolate place, these many years, and we heard such
strange noises, sometimes, after my lady's death, that, as I told you
before, my husband and I left it for a neighbouring cottage. And
now, lady, I have told you all this sad history, and all my thoughts,
and you have promised, you know, never to give the least hint about
it.'--'I have,' said Emily, 'and I will be faithful to my promise,
Dorothee;--what you have told has interested me more than you can
imagine. I only wish I could prevail upon you to tell the name of
the chevalier, whom you thought so deserving of the Marchioness.'
Dorothee, however, steadily refused to do this, and then returned to
the notice of Emily's likeness to the late Marchioness. 'There is
another picture of her,' added she, 'hanging in a room of the suite,
which was shut up. It was drawn, as I have heard, before she was
married, and is much more like you than the miniature.' When Emily
expressed a strong desire to see this, Dorothee replied, that she did
not like to open those rooms; but Emily reminded her, that the Count
had talked the other day of ordering them to be opened; of which
Dorothee seemed to consider much, and then she owned, that she should
feel less, if she went into them with Emily first, than otherwise,
and at length promised to shew the picture.
The night was too far advanced and Emily was too much affected by the
narrative of the scenes, which had passed in those apartments, to
wish to visit them at this hour, but she requested that Dorothee
would return on the following night, when they were not likely to be
observed, and conduct her thither. Besides her wish to examine the
portrait, she felt a thrilling curiosity to see the chamber, in which
the Marchioness had died, and which Dorothee had said remained, with
the bed and furniture, just as when the corpse was removed for
interment. The solemn emotions, which the expectation of viewing
such a scene had awakened, were in unison with the present tone of
her mind, depressed by severe disappointment. Cheerful objects
rather added to, than removed this depression; but, perhaps, she
yielded too much to her melancholy inclination, and imprudently
lamented the misfortune, which no virtue of her own could have taught
her to avoid, though no effort of reason could make her look unmoved
upon the self-degradation of him, whom she had once esteemed and
Dorothee promised to return, on the following night, with the keys of
the chambers, and then wished Emily good repose, and departed.
Emily, however, continued at the window, musing upon the melancholy
fate of the Marchioness and listening, in awful expectation, for a
return of the music. But the stillness of the night remained long
unbroken, except by the murmuring sounds of the woods, as they waved
in the breeze, and then by the distant bell of the convent, striking
one. She now withdrew from the window, and, as she sat at her bed-
side, indulging melancholy reveries, which the loneliness of the hour
assisted, the stillness was suddenly interrupted not by music, but by
very uncommon sounds, that seemed to come either from the room,
adjoining her own, or from one below. The terrible catastrophe, that
had been related to her, together with the mysterious circumstances,
said to have since occurred in the chateau, had so much shocked her
spirits, that she now sunk, for a moment, under the weakness of
superstition. The sounds, however, did not return, and she retired,
to forget in sleep the disastrous story she had heard.
Now it is the time of night,
That, the graves all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his spite,
In the church-way path to glide.
On the next night, about the same hour as before, Dorothee came to
Emily's chamber, with the keys of that suite of rooms, which had been
particularly appropriated to the late Marchioness. These extended
along the north side of the chateau, forming part of the old
building; and, as Emily's room was in the south, they had to pass
over a great extent of the castle, and by the chambers of several of
the family, whose observations Dorothee was anxious to avoid, since
it might excite enquiry, and raise reports, such as would displease
the Count. She, therefore, requested, that Emily would wait half an
hour, before they ventured forth, that they might be certain all the
servants were gone to bed. It was nearly one, before the chateau was
perfectly still, or Dorothee thought it prudent to leave the chamber.
In this interval, her spirits seemed to be greatly affected by the
remembrance of past events, and by the prospect of entering again
upon places, where these had occurred, and in which she had not been
for so many years. Emily too was affected, but her feelings had more
of solemnity, and less of fear. From the silence, into which
reflection and expectation had thrown them, they, at length, roused
themselves, and left the chamber. Dorothee, at first, carried the
lamp, but her hand trembled so much with infirmity and alarm, that
Emily took it from her, and offered her arm, to support her feeble
They had to descend the great stair-case, and, after passing over a
wide extent of the chateau, to ascend another, which led to the suite
of rooms they were in quest of. They stepped cautiously along the
open corridor, that ran round the great hall, and into which the
chambers of the Count, Countess, and the Lady Blanche, opened, and,
from thence, descending the chief stair-case, they crossed the hall
itself. Proceeding through the servants hall, where the dying embers
of a wood fire still glimmered on the hearth, and the supper table
was surrounded by chairs, that obstructed their passage, they came to
the foot of the back stair-case. Old Dorothee here paused, and
looked around; 'Let us listen,' said she, 'if any thing is stirring;
Ma'amselle, do you hear any voice?' 'None,' said Emily, 'there
certainly is no person up in the chateau, besides ourselves.'--'No,
ma'amselle,' said Dorothee, 'but I have never been here at this hour
before, and, after what I know, my fears are not wonderful.'--'What
do you know?' said Emily.--'O, ma'amselle, we have no time for
talking now; let us go on. That door on the left is the one we must
They proceeded, and, having reached the top of the stair-case,
Dorothee applied the key to the lock. 'Ah,' said she, as she
endeavoured to turn it, 'so many years have passed since this was
opened, that I fear it will not move.' Emily was more successful,
and they presently entered a spacious and ancient chamber.
'Alas!' exclaimed Dorothee, as she entered, 'the last time I passed
through this door--I followed my poor lady's corpse!'
Emily, struck with the circumstance, and affected by the dusky and
solemn air of the apartment, remained silent, and they passed on
through a long suite of rooms, till they came to one more spacious
than the rest, and rich in the remains of faded magnificence.
'Let us rest here awhile, madam,' said Dorothee faintly, 'we are
going into the chamber, where my lady died! that door opens into it.
Ah, ma'amselle! why did you persuade me to come?'
Emily drew one of the massy arm-chairs, with which the apartment was
furnished, and begged Dorothee would sit down, and try to compose her
'How the sight of this place brings all that passed formerly to my
mind!' said Dorothee; 'it seems as if it was but yesterday since all
that sad affair happened!'
'Hark! what noise is that?' said Emily.
Dorothee, half starting from her chair, looked round the apartment,
and they listened--but, every thing remaining still, the old woman
spoke again upon the subject of her sorrow. 'This saloon,
ma'amselle, was in my lady's time the finest apartment in the
chateau, and it was fitted up according to her own taste. All this
grand furniture, but you can now hardly see what it is for the dust,
and our light is none of the best--ah! how I have seen this room
lighted up in my lady's time!--all this grand furniture came from
Paris, and was made after the fashion of some in the Louvre there,
except those large glasses, and they came from some outlandish place,
and that rich tapestry. How the colours are faded already!--since I
saw it last!'
'I understood, that was twenty years ago,' observed Emily.
'Thereabout, madam,' said Dorothee, 'and well remembered, but all the
time between then and now seems as nothing. That tapestry used to be
greatly admired at, it tells the stories out of some famous book, or
other, but I have forgot the name.'
Emily now rose to examine the figures it exhibited, and discovered,
by verses in the Provencal tongue, wrought underneath each scene,
that it exhibited stories from some of the most celebrated ancient
Dorothee's spirits being now more composed, she rose, and unlocked
the door that led into the late Marchioness's apartment, and Emily
passed into a lofty chamber, hung round with dark arras, and so
spacious, that the lamp she held up did not shew its extent; while
Dorothee, when she entered, had dropped into a chair, where, sighing
deeply, she scarcely trusted herself with the view of a scene so
affecting to her. It was some time before Emily perceived, through
the dusk, the bed on which the Marchioness was said to have died;
when, advancing to the upper end of the room, she discovered the high
canopied tester of dark green damask, with the curtains descending to
the floor in the fashion of a tent, half drawn, and remaining
apparently, as they had been left twenty years before; and over the
whole bedding was thrown a counterpane, or pall, of black velvet,
that hung down to the floor. Emily shuddered, as she held the lamp
over it, and looked within the dark curtains, where she almost
expected to have seen a human face, and, suddenly remembering the
horror she had suffered upon discovering the dying Madame Montoni in
the turret-chamber of Udolpho, her spirits fainted, and she was
turning from the bed, when Dorothee, who had now reached it,
exclaimed, 'Holy Virgin! methinks I see my lady stretched upon that
pall--as when last I saw her!'
Emily, shocked by this exclamation, looked involuntarily again within
the curtains, but the blackness of the pall only appeared; while
Dorothee was compelled to support herself upon the side of the bed,
and presently tears brought her some relief.
'Ah!' said she, after she had wept awhile, 'it was here I sat on that
terrible night, and held my lady's hand, and heard her last words,
and saw all her sufferings--HERE she died in my arms!'
'Do not indulge these painful recollections,' said Emily, 'let us go.
Shew me the picture you mentioned, if it will not too much affect
'It hangs in the oriel,' said Dorothee rising, and going towards a
small door near the bed's head, which she opened, and Emily followed
with the light, into the closet of the late Marchioness.
'Alas! there she is, ma'amselle,' said Dorothee, pointing to a
portrait of a lady, 'there is her very self! just as she looked when
she came first to the chateau. You see, madam, she was all blooming
like you, then--and so soon to be cut off!'
While Dorothee spoke, Emily was attentively examining the picture,
which bore a strong resemblance to the miniature, though the
expression of the countenance in each was somewhat different; but
still she thought she perceived something of that pensive melancholy
in the portrait, which so strongly characterised the miniature.
'Pray, ma'amselle, stand beside the picture, that I may look at you
together,' said Dorothee, who, when the request was complied with,
exclaimed again at the resemblance. Emily also, as she gazed upon
it, thought that she had somewhere seen a person very like it, though
she could not now recollect who this was.
In this closet were many memorials of the departed Marchioness; a
robe and several articles of her dress were scattered upon the
chairs, as if they had just been thrown off. On the floor were a
pair of black satin slippers, and, on the dressing-table, a pair of
gloves and a long black veil, which, as Emily took it up to examine,
she perceived was dropping to pieces with age.
'Ah!' said Dorothee, observing the veil, 'my lady's hand laid it
there; it has never been moved since!'
Emily, shuddering, immediately laid it down again. 'I well remember
seeing her take it off,' continued Dorothee, 'it was on the night
before her death, when she had returned from a little walk I had
persuaded her to take in the gardens, and she seemed refreshed by it.
I told her how much better she looked, and I remember what a languid
smile she gave me; but, alas! she little thought, or I either, that
she was to die, that night.'
Dorothee wept again, and then, taking up the veil, threw it suddenly
over Emily, who shuddered to find it wrapped round her, descending
even to her feet, and, as she endeavoured to throw it off, Dorothee
intreated that she would keep it on for one moment. 'I thought,'
added she, 'how like you would look to my dear mistress in that
veil;--may your life, ma'amselle, be a happier one than hers!'
Emily, having disengaged herself from the veil, laid it again on the
dressing-table, and surveyed the closet, where every object, on which
her eye fixed, seemed to speak of the Marchioness. In a large oriel
window of painted glass, stood a table, with a silver crucifix, and a
prayer-book open; and Emily remembered with emotion what Dorothee had
mentioned concerning her custom of playing on her lute in this
window, before she observed the lute itself, lying on a corner of the
table, as if it had been carelessly placed there by the hand, that
had so often awakened it.
'This is a sad forlorn place!' said Dorothee, 'for, when my dear lady
died, I had no heart to put it to rights, or the chamber either; and
my lord never came into the rooms after, so they remain just as they
did when my lady was removed for interment.'
While Dorothee spoke, Emily was still looking on the lute, which was
a Spanish one, and remarkably large; and then, with a hesitating
hand, she took it up, and passed her fingers over the chords. They
were out of tune, but uttered a deep and full sound. Dorothee
started at their well-known tones, and, seeing the lute in Emily's
hand, said, 'This is the lute my lady Marchioness loved so! I
remember when last she played upon it--it was on the night that she
died. I came as usual to undress her, and, as I entered the bed-
chamber, I heard the sound of music from the oriel, and perceiving it
was my lady's, who was sitting there, I stepped softly to the door,
which stood a little open, to listen; for the music--though it was
mournful--was so sweet! There I saw her, with the lute in her hand,
looking upwards, and the tears fell upon her cheeks, while she sung a
vesper hymn, so soft, and so solemn! and her voice trembled, as it
were, and then she would stop for a moment, and wipe away her tears,
and go on again, lower than before. O! I had often listened to my
lady, but never heard any thing so sweet as this; it made me cry,
almost, to hear it. She had been at prayers, I fancy, for there was
the book open on the table beside her--aye, and there it lies open
still! Pray, let us leave the oriel, ma'amselle,' added Dorothee,
'this is a heart-breaking place!'
Having returned into the chamber, she desired to look once more upon
the bed, when, as they came opposite to the open door, leading into
the saloon, Emily, in the partial gleam, which the lamp threw into
it, thought she saw something glide along into the obscurer part of
the room. Her spirits had been much affected by the surrounding
scene, or it is probable this circumstance, whether real or
imaginary, would not have affected her in the degree it did; but she
endeavoured to conceal her emotion from Dorothee, who, however,
observing her countenance change, enquired if she was ill.
'Let us go,' said Emily, faintly, 'the air of these rooms is
unwholesome;' but, when she attempted to do so, considering that she
must pass through the apartment where the phantom of her terror had
appeared, this terror increased, and, too faint to support herself,
she sad down on the side of the bed.
Dorothee, believing that she was only affected by a consideration of
the melancholy catastrophe, which had happened on this spot,
endeavoured to cheer her; and then, as they sat together on the bed,
she began to relate other particulars concerning it, and this without
reflecting, that it might increase Emily's emotion, but because they
were particularly interesting to herself. 'A little before my lady's
death,' said she, 'when the pains were gone off, she called me to
her, and stretching out her hand to me, I sat down just there--where
the curtain falls upon the bed. How well I remember her look at the
time--death was in it!--I can almost fancy I see her now.--There she
lay, ma'amselle--her face was upon the pillow there! This black
counterpane was not upon the bed then; it was laid on, after her
death, and she was laid out upon it.'
Emily turned to look within the dusky curtains, as if she could have
seen the countenance of which Dorothee spoke. The edge of the white
pillow only appeared above the blackness of the pall, but, as her
eyes wandered over the pall itself, she fancied she saw it move.
Without speaking, she caught Dorothee's arm, who, surprised by the
action, and by the look of terror that accompanied it, turned her
eyes from Emily to the bed, where, in the next moment she, too, saw
the pall slowly lifted, and fall again.
Emily attempted to go, but Dorothee stood fixed and gazing upon the
bed; and, at length, said--'It is only the wind, that waves it,
ma'amselle; we have left all the doors open: see how the air waves
the lamp, too.--It is only the wind.'
She had scarcely uttered these words, when the pall was more
violently agitated than before; but Emily, somewhat ashamed of her
terrors, stepped back to the bed, willing to be convinced that the
wind only had occasioned her alarm; when, as she gazed within the
curtains, the pall moved again, and, in the next moment, the
apparition of a human countenance rose above it.
Screaming with terror, they both fled, and got out of the chamber as
fast as their trembling limbs would bear them, leaving open the doors
of all the rooms, through which they passed. When they reached the
stair-case, Dorothee threw open a chamber door, where some of the
female servants slept, and sunk breathless on the bed; while Emily,
deprived of all presence of mind, made only a feeble attempt to
conceal the occasion of her terror from the astonished servants; and,
though Dorothee, when she could speak, endeavoured to laugh at her
own fright, and was joined by Emily, no remonstrances could prevail
with the servants, who had quickly taken the alarm, to pass even the
remainder of the night in a room so near to these terrific chambers.
Dorothee having accompanied Emily to her own apartment, they then
began to talk over, with some degree of coolness, the strange
circumstance, that had just occurred; and Emily would almost have
doubted her own perceptions, had not those of Dorothee attested their
truth. Having now mentioned what she had observed in the outer
chamber, she asked the housekeeper, whether she was certain no door
had been left unfastened, by which a person might secretly have
entered the apartments? Dorothee replied, that she had constantly
kept the keys of the several doors in her own possession; that, when
she had gone her rounds through the castle, as she frequently did, to
examine if all was safe, she had tried these doors among the rest,
and had always found them fastened. It was, therefore, impossible,
she added, that any person could have got admittance into the
apartments; and, if they could--it was very improbable they should
have chose to sleep in a place so cold and forlorn.
Emily observed, that their visit to these chambers had, perhaps, been
watched, and that some person, for a frolic, had followed them into
the rooms, with a design to frighten them, and, while they were in
the oriel, had taken the opportunity of concealing himself in the
Dorothee allowed, that this was possible, till she recollected, that,
on entering the apartments, she had turned the key of the outer door,
and this, which had been done to prevent their visit being noticed by
any of the family, who might happen to be up, must effectually have
excluded every person, except themselves, from the chambers; and she
now persisted in affirming, that the ghastly countenance she had seen
was nothing human, but some dreadful apparition.
Emily was very solemnly affected. Of whatever nature might be the
appearance she had witnessed, whether human or supernatural, the fate
of the deceased Marchioness was a truth not to be doubted; and this
unaccountable circumstance, occurring in the very scene of her
sufferings, affected Emily's imagination with a superstitious awe, to
which, after having detected the fallacies at Udolpho, she might not
have yielded, had she been ignorant of the unhappy story, related by
the housekeeper. Her she now solemnly conjured to conceal the
occurrence of this night, and to make light of the terror she had
already betrayed, that the Count might not be distressed by reports,
which would certainly spread alarm and confusion among his family.
'Time,' she added, 'may explain this mysterious affair; meanwhile let
us watch the event in silence.'
Dorothee readily acquiesced; but she now recollected that she had
left all the doors of the north suite of rooms open, and, not having
courage to return alone to lock even the outer one, Emily, after some
effort, so far conquered her own fears, that she offered to accompany
her to the foot of the back stair-case, and to wait there while
Dorothee ascended, whose resolution being re-assured by this
circumstance, she consented to go, and they left Emily's apartment
No sound disturbed the stillness, as they passed along the halls and
galleries; but, on reaching the foot of the back stair-case,
Dorothee's resolution failed again; having, however, paused a moment
to listen, and no sound being heard above, she ascended, leaving
Emily below, and, scarcely suffering her eye to glance within the
first chamber, she fastened the door, which shut up the whole suite
of apartments, and returned to Emily.
As they stepped along the passage, leading into the great hall, a
sound of lamentation was heard, which seemed to come from the hall
itself, and they stopped in new alarm to listen, when Emily presently
distinguished the voice of Annette, whom she found crossing the hall,
with another female servant, and so terrified by the report, which
the other maids had spread, that, believing she could be safe only
where her lady was, she was going for refuge to her apartment.
Emily's endeavours to laugh, or to argue her out of these terrors,
were equally vain, and, in compassion to her distress, she consented
that she should remain in her room during the night.
Hail, mildly-pleasing Solitude!
Companion of the wise and good--
This is the balmy breath of morn,
Just as the dew-bent rose is born.
But chief when evening scenes decay
And the faint landscape swims away,
Thine is the doubtful, soft decline,
And that best hour of musing thine.
Emily's injunctions to Annette to be silent on the subject of her
terror were ineffectual, and the occurrence of the preceding night
spread such alarm among the servants, who now all affirmed, that they
had frequently heard unaccountable noises in the chateau, that a
report soon reached the Count of the north side of the castle being
haunted. He treated this, at first, with ridicule, but, perceiving,
that it was productive of serious evil, in the confusion it
occasioned among his household, he forbade any person to repeat it,
on pain of punishment.
The arrival of a party of his friends soon withdrew his thoughts
entirely from this subject, and his servants had now little leisure
to brood over it, except, indeed, in the evenings after supper, when
they all assembled in their hall, and related stories of ghosts, till
they feared to look round the room; started, if the echo of a closing
door murmured along the passage, and refused to go singly to any part
of the castle.
On these occasions Annette made a distinguished figure. When she
told not only of all the wonders she had witnessed, but of all that
she had imagined, in the castle of Udolpho, with the story of the
strange disappearance of Signora Laurentini, she made no trifling
impression on the mind of her attentive auditors. Her suspicions,
concerning Montoni, she would also have freely disclosed, had not
Ludovico, who was now in the service of the Count, prudently checked
her loquacity, whenever it pointed to that subject.
Among the visitors at the chateau was the Baron de Saint Foix, an old
friend of the Count, and his son, the Chevalier St. Foix, a sensible
and amiable young man, who, having in the preceding year seen the
Lady Blanche, at Paris, had become her declared admirer. The
friendship, which the Count had long entertained for his father, and
the equality of their circumstances made him secretly approve of the
connection; but, thinking his daughter at this time too young to fix
her choice for life, and wishing to prove the sincerity and strength
of the Chevalier's attachment, he then rejected his suit, though
without forbidding his future hope. This young man now came, with
the Baron, his father, to claim the reward of a steady affection, a
claim, which the Count admitted and which Blanche did not reject.
While these visitors were at the chateau, it became a scene of gaiety
and splendour. The pavilion in the woods was fitted up and
frequented, in the fine evenings, as a supper-room, when the hour
usually concluded with a concert, at which the Count and Countess,
who were scientific performers, and the Chevaliers Henri and St.
Foix, with the Lady Blanche and Emily, whose voices and fine taste
compensated for the want of more skilful execution, usually assisted.
Several of the Count's servants performed on horns and other
instruments, some of which, placed at a little distance among the
woods, spoke, in sweet response, to the harmony, that proceeded from
At any other period, these parties would have been delightful to
Emily; but her spirits were now oppressed with a melancholy, which
she perceived that no kind of what is called amusement had power to
dissipate, and which the tender and, frequently, pathetic, melody of
these concerts sometimes increased to a very painful degree.
She was particularly fond of walking in the woods, that hung on a
promontory, overlooking the sea. Their luxuriant shade was soothing
to her pensive mind, and, in the partial views, which they afforded
of the Mediterranean, with its winding shores and passing sails,
tranquil beauty was united with grandeur. The paths were rude and
frequently overgrown with vegetation, but their tasteful owner would
suffer little to be done to them, and scarcely a single branch to be
lopped from the venerable trees. On an eminence, in one of the most
sequestered parts of these woods, was a rustic seat, formed of the
trunk of a decayed oak, which had once been a noble tree, and of
which many lofty branches still flourishing united with beech and
pines to over-canopy the spot. Beneath their deep umbrage, the eye
passed over the tops of other woods, to the Mediterranean, and, to
the left, through an opening, was seen a ruined watch-tower, standing
on a point of rock, near the sea, and rising from among the tufted
Hither Emily often came alone in the silence of evening, and, soothed
by the scenery and by the faint murmur, that rose from the waves,
would sit, till darkness obliged her to return to the chateau.
Frequently, also, she visited the watch-tower, which commanded the
entire prospect, and, when she leaned against its broken walls, and
thought of Valancourt, she not once imagined, what was so true, that
this tower had been almost as frequently his resort, as her own,
since his estrangement from the neighbouring chateau.
One evening, she lingered here to a late hour. She had sat on the
steps of the building, watching, in tranquil melancholy, the gradual
effect of evening over the extensive prospect, till the gray waters
of the Mediterranean and the massy woods were almost the only
features of the scene, that remained visible; when, as she gazed
alternately on these, and on the mild blue of the heavens, where the
first pale star of evening appeared, she personified the hour in the
SONG OF THE EVENING HOUR
Last of the Hours, that track the fading Day,
I move along the realms of twilight air,
And hear, remote, the choral song decay
Of sister-nymphs, who dance around his car.
Then, as I follow through the azure void,
His partial splendour from my straining eye
Sinks in the depth of space; my only guide
His faint ray dawning on the farthest sky;
Save that sweet, lingering strain of gayer Hours,
Whose close my voice prolongs in dying notes,
While mortals on the green earth own its pow'rs,
As downward on the evening gale it floats.
When fades along the West the Sun's last beam,
As, weary, to the nether world he goes,
And mountain-summits catch the purple gleam,
And slumbering ocean faint and fainter glows,
Silent upon the globe's broad shade I steal,
And o'er its dry turf shed the cooling dews,
And ev'ry fever'd herb and flow'ret heal,
And all their fragrance on the air diffuse.
Where'er I move, a tranquil pleasure reigns;
O'er all the scene the dusky tints I send,
That forests wild and mountains, stretching plains
And peopled towns, in soft confusion blend.
Wide o'er the world I waft the fresh'ning wind,
Low breathing through the woods and twilight vale,
In whispers soft, that woo the pensive mind
Of him, who loves my lonely steps to hail.
His tender oaten reed I watch to hear,
Stealing its sweetness o'er some plaining rill,
Or soothing ocean's wave, when storms are near,
Or swelling in the breeze from distant hill!
I wake the fairy elves, who shun the light;
When, from their blossom'd beds, they slily peep,
And spy my pale star, leading on the night,--
Forth to their games and revelry they leap;
Send all the prison'd sweets abroad in air,
That with them slumber'd in the flow'ret's cell;
Then to the shores and moon-light brooks repair,
Till the high larks their matin-carol swell.
The wood-nymphs hail my airs and temper'd shade,
With ditties soft and lightly sportive dance,
On river margin of some bow'ry glade,
And strew their fresh buds as my steps advance:
But, swift I pass, and distant regions trace,
For moon-beams silver all the eastern cloud,
And Day's last crimson vestige fades apace;
Down the steep west I fly from Midnight's shroud.
The moon was now rising out of the sea. She watched its gradual
progress, the extending line of radiance it threw upon the waters,
the sparkling oars, the sail faintly silvered, and the wood-tops and
the battlements of the watch-tower, at whose foot she was sitting,
just tinted with the rays. Emily's spirits were in harmony with this
scene. As she sat meditating, sounds stole by her on the air, which
she immediately knew to be the music and the voice she had formerly
heard at midnight, and the emotion of awe, which she felt, was not
unmixed with terror, when she considered her remote and lonely
situation. The sounds drew nearer. She would have risen to leave
the place, but they seemed to come from the way she must have taken
towards the chateau, and she awaited the event in trembling
expectation. The sounds continued to approach, for some time, and
then ceased. Emily sat listening, gazing and unable to move, when
she saw a figure emerge from the shade of the woods and pass along
the bank, at some little distance before her. It went swiftly, and
her spirits were so overcome with awe, that, though she saw, she did
not much observe it.
Having left the spot, with a resolution never again to visit it
alone, at so late an hour, she began to approach the chateau, when
she heard voices calling her from the part of the wood, which was
nearest to it. They were the shouts of the Count's servants, who
were sent to search for her; and when she entered the supper-room,
where he sat with Henri and Blanche, he gently reproached her with a
look, which she blushed to have deserved.
This little occurrence deeply impressed her mind, and, when she
withdrew to her own room, it recalled so forcibly the circumstances
she had witnessed, a few nights before, that she had scarcely courage
to remain alone. She watched to a late hour, when, no sound having
renewed her fears, she, at length, sunk to repose. But this was of
short continuance, for she was disturbed by a loud and unusual noise,
that seemed to come from the gallery, into which her chamber opened.
Groans were distinctly heard, and, immediately after, a dead weight
fell against the door, with a violence, that threatened to burst it
open. She called loudly to know who was there, but received no
answer, though, at intervals, she still thought she heard something
like a low moaning. Fear deprived her of the power to move. Soon
after, she heard footsteps in a remote part of the gallery, and, as
they approached, she called more loudly than before, till the steps
paused at her door. She then distinguished the voices of several of
the servants, who seemed too much engaged by some circumstance
without, to attend to her calls; but, Annette soon after entering the
room for water, Emily understood, that one of the maids had fainted,
whom she immediately desired them to bring into her room, where she
assisted to restore her. When this girl had recovered her speech,
she affirmed, that, as she was passing up the back stair-case, in the
way to her chamber, she had seen an apparition on the second landing-
place; she held the lamp low, she said, that she might pick her way,
several of the stairs being infirm and even decayed, and it was upon
raising her eyes, that she saw this appearance. It stood for a
moment in the corner of the landing-place, which she was approaching,
and then, gliding up the stairs, vanished at the door of the
apartment, that had been lately opened. She heard afterwards a
'Then the devil has got a key to that apartment,' said Dorothee, 'for
it could be nobody but he; I locked the door myself!'
The girl, springing down the stairs and passing up the great stair-
case, had run, with a faint scream, till she reached the gallery,
where she fell, groaning, at Emily's door.
Gently chiding her for the alarm she had occasioned, Emily tried to
make her ashamed of her fears; but the girl persisted in saying, that
she had seen an apparition, till she went to her own room, whither
she was accompanied by all the servants present, except Dorothee,
who, at Emily's request, remained with her during the night. Emily
was perplexed, and Dorothee was terrified, and mentioned many
occurrences of former times, which had long since confirmed her
superstitions; among these, according to her belief, she had once
witnessed an appearance, like that just described, and on the very
same spot, and it was the remembrance of it, that had made her pause,
when she was going to ascend the stairs with Emily, and which had
increased her reluctance to open the north apartments. Whatever
might be Emily's opinions, she did not disclose them, but listened
attentively to all that Dorothee communicated, which occasioned her
much thought and perplexity.
From this night the terror of the servants increased to such an
excess, that several of them determined to leave the chateau, and
requested their discharge of the Count, who, if he had any faith in
the subject of their alarm, thought proper to dissemble it, and,
anxious to avoid the inconvenience that threatened him, employed
ridicule and then argument to convince them they had nothing to
apprehend from supernatural agency. But fear had rendered their
minds inaccessible to reason; and it was now, that Ludovico proved at
once his courage and his gratitude for the kindness he had received
from the Count, by offering to watch, during a night, in the suite of
rooms, reputed to be haunted. He feared, he said, no spirits, and,
if any thing of human form appeared--he would prove that he dreaded
that as little.
The Count paused upon the offer, while the servants, who heard it,
looked upon one another in doubt and amazement, and Annette,
terrified for the safety of Ludovico, employed tears and entreaties
to dissuade him from his purpose.
'You are a bold fellow,' said the Count, smiling, 'Think well of what
you are going to encounter, before you finally determine upon it.
However, if you persevere in your resolution, I will accept your
offer, and your intrepidity shall not go unrewarded.'
'I desire no reward, your excellenza,' replied Ludovico, 'but your
approbation. Your excellenza has been sufficiently good to me
already; but I wish to have arms, that I may be equal to my enemy, if
he should appear.'
'Your sword cannot defend you against a ghost,' replied the Count,
throwing a glance of irony upon the other servants, 'neither can
bars, or bolts; for a spirit, you know, can glide through a keyhole
as easily as through a door.'
'Give me a sword, my lord Count,' said Ludovico, 'and I will lay all
the spirits, that shall attack me, in the red sea.'
'Well,' said the Count, 'you shall have a sword, and good cheer, too;
and your brave comrades here will, perhaps, have courage enough to
remain another night in the chateau, since your boldness will
certainly, for this night, at least, confine all the malice of the
spectre to yourself.'
Curiosity now struggled with fear in the minds of several of his
fellow servants, and, at length, they resolved to await the event of
Emily was surprised and concerned, when she heard of his intention,
and was frequently inclined to mention what she had witnessed in the
north apartments to the Count, for she could not entirely divest
herself of fears for Ludovico's safety, though her reason represented
these to be absurd. The necessity, however, of concealing the
secret, with which Dorothee had entrusted her, and which must have
been mentioned, with the late occurrence, in excuse for her having so
privately visited the north apartments, kept her entirely silent on
the subject of her apprehension; and she tried only to sooth Annette,
who held, that Ludovico was certainly to be destroyed; and who was
much less affected by Emily's consolatory efforts, than by the manner
of old Dorothee, who often, as she exclaimed Ludovico, sighed, and
threw up her eyes to heaven.
Ye gods of quiet, and of sleep profound!
Whose soft dominion o'er this castle sways,
And all the widely-silent places round,
Forgive me, if my trembling pen displays
What never yet was sung in mortal lays.
The Count gave orders for the north apartments to be opened and
prepared for the reception of Ludovico; but Dorothee, remembering
what she had lately witnessed there, feared to obey, and, not one of
the other servants daring to venture thither, the rooms remained shut
up till the time when Ludovico was to retire thither for the night,
an hour, for which the whole household waited with impatience.
After supper, Ludovico, by the order of the Count, attended him in
his closet, where they remained alone for near half an hour, and, on
leaving which, his Lord delivered to him a sword.
'It has seen service in mortal quarrels,' said the Count, jocosely,
'you will use it honourably, no doubt, in a spiritual one. Tomorrow,
let me hear that there is not one ghost remaining in the chateau.'
Ludovico received it with a respectful bow. 'You shall be obeyed, my
Lord,' said he; 'I will engage, that no spectre shall disturb the
peace of the chateau after this night.'
They now returned to the supper-room, where the Count's guests
awaited to accompany him and Ludovico to the door of the north
apartments, and Dorothee, being summoned for the keys, delivered them
to Ludovico, who then led the way, followed by most of the
inhabitants of the chateau. Having reached the back stair-case,
several of the servants shrunk back, and refused to go further, but
the rest followed him to the top of the stair-case, where a broad
landing-place allowed them to flock round him, while he applied the
key to the door, during which they watched him with as much eager
curiosity as if he had been performing some magical rite.
Ludovico, unaccustomed to the lock, could not turn it, and Dorothee,
who had lingered far behind, was called forward, under whose hand the
door opened slowly, and, her eye glancing within the dusky chamber,
she uttered a sudden shriek, and retreated. At this signal of alarm,
the greater part of the crowd hurried down the stairs, and the Count,
Henri and Ludovico were left alone to pursue the enquiry, who
instantly rushed into the apartment, Ludovico with a drawn sword,
which he had just time to draw from the scabbard, the Count with the
lamp in his hand, and Henri carrying a basket, containing provisions
for the courageous adventurer.
Having looked hastily round the first room, where nothing appeared to
justify alarm, they passed on to the second; and, here too all being
quiet, they proceeded to a third with a more tempered step. The
Count had now leisure to smile at the discomposure, into which he had
been surprised, and to ask Ludovico in which room he designed to pass
'There are several chambers beyond these, your excellenza,' said
Ludovico, pointing to a door, 'and in one of them is a bed, they say.
I will pass the night there, and when I am weary of watching, I can
'Good;' said the Count; 'let us go on. You see these rooms shew
nothing, but damp walls and decaying furniture. I have been so much
engaged since I came to the chateau, that I have not looked into them
till now. Remember, Ludovico, to tell the housekeeper, to-morrow, to
throw open these windows. The damask hangings are dropping to
pieces, I will have them taken down, and this antique furniture
'Dear sir!' said Henri, 'here is an arm-chair so massy with gilding,
that it resembles one of the state chairs at the Louvre, more then
any thing else.'
'Yes,' said the Count, stopping a moment to survey it, 'there is a
history belonging to that chair, but I have not time to tell it.--Let
us pass on. This suite runs to a greater extent than I had imagined;
it is many years since I was in them. But where is the bed-room you
speak of, Ludovico?--these are only anti-chambers to the great
drawing-room. I remember them in their splendour!'
'The bed, my Lord,' replied Ludovico, 'they told me, was in a room
that opens beyond the saloon, and terminates the suite.'
'O, here is the saloon,' said the Count, as they entered the spacious
apartment, in which Emily and Dorothee had rested. He here stood for
a moment, surveying the reliques of faded grandeur, which it
exhibited--the sumptuous tapestry--the long and low sophas of velvet,
with frames heavily carved and gilded--the floor inlaid with small
squares of fine marble, and covered in the centre with a piece of
very rich tapestry-work--the casements of painted glass, and the
large Venetian mirrors, of a size and quality, such as at that period
France could not make, which reflected, on every side, the spacious
apartment. These had formerly also reflected a gay and brilliant
scene, for this had been the state-room of the chateau, and here the
Marchioness had held the assemblies, that made part of the
festivities of her nuptials. If the wand of a magician could have
recalled the vanished groups, many of them vanished even from the
earth! that once had passed over these polished mirrors, what a
varied and contrasted picture would they have exhibited with the
present! Now, instead of a blaze of lights, and a splendid and busy
crowd, they reflected only the rays of the one glimmering lamp, which
the Count held up, and which scarcely served to shew the three
forlorn figures, that stood surveying the room, and the spacious and
dusky walls around them.
'Ah!' said the Count to Henri, awaking from his deep reverie, 'how
the scene is changed since last I saw it! I was a young man, then,
and the Marchioness was alive and in her bloom; many other persons
were here, too, who are now no more! There stood the orchestra; here
we tripped in many a sprightly maze--the walls echoing to the dance!
Now, they resound only one feeble voice--and even that will, ere
long, be heard no more! My son, remember, that I was once as young
as yourself, and that you must pass away like those, who have
preceded you--like those, who, as they sung and danced in this once
gay apartment, forgot, that years are made up of moments, and that
every step they took carried them nearer to their graves. But such
reflections are useless, I had almost said criminal, unless they
teach us to prepare for eternity, since, otherwise, they cloud our
present happiness, without guiding us to a future one. But enough of
this; let us go on.'
Ludovico now opened the door of the bed-room, and the Count, as he
entered, was struck with the funereal appearance, which the dark
arras gave to it. He approached the bed, with an emotion of
solemnity, and, perceiving it to be covered with the pall of black
velvet, paused; 'What can this mean?' said he, as he gazed upon it.
'I have heard, my Lord,' said Ludovico, as he stood at the feet,
looking within the canopied curtains, 'that the Lady Marchioness de
Villeroi died in this chamber, and remained here till she was removed
to be buried; and this, perhaps, Signor, may account for the pall.'
The Count made no reply, but stood for a few moments engaged in
thought, and evidently much affected. Then, turning to Ludovico, he
asked him with a serious air, whether he thought his courage would
support him through the night? 'If you doubt this,' added the Count,
'do not be ashamed to own it; I will release you from your
engagement, without exposing you to the triumphs of your fellow-
Ludovico paused; pride, and something very like fear, seemed
struggling in his breast; pride, however, was victorious;--he
blushed, and his hesitation ceased.
'No, my Lord,' said he, 'I will go through with what I have begun;
and I am grateful for your consideration. On that hearth I will make
a fire, and, with the good cheer in this basket, I doubt not I shall
'Be it so,' said the Count; 'but how will you beguile the tediousness
of the night, if you do not sleep?'
'When I am weary, my Lord,' replied Ludovico, 'I shall not fear to
sleep; in the meanwhile, I have a book, that will entertain me.'
'Well,' said the Count, 'I hope nothing will disturb you; but if you
should be seriously alarmed in the night, come to my apartment. I
have too much confidence in your good sense and courage, to believe
you will be alarmed on slight grounds; or suffer the gloom of this
chamber, or its remote situation, to overcome you with ideal terrors.
To-morrow, I shall have to thank you for an important service; these
rooms shall then be thrown open, and my people will be convinced of
their error. Good night, Ludovico; let me see you early in the
morning, and remember what I lately said to you.'
'I will, my Lord; good night to your excellenza; let me attend you
with the light.'
He lighted the Count and Henri through the chambers to the outer
door; on the landing-place stood a lamp, which one of the affrighted
servants had left, and Henri, as he took it up, again bade Ludovico
good night, who, having respectfully returned the wish, closed the
door upon them, and fastened it. Then, as he retired to the bed-
chamber, he examined the rooms, through which he passed, with more
minuteness than he had done before, for he apprehended, that some
person might have concealed himself in them, for the purpose of
frightening him. No one, however, but himself, was in these
chambers, and, leaving open the doors, through which he passed, he
came again to the great drawing-room, whose spaciousness and silent
gloom somewhat awed him. For a moment he stood, looking back through
the long suite of rooms he had quitted, and, as he turned, perceiving
a light and his own figure, reflected in one of the large mirrors, he
started. Other objects too were seen obscurely on its dark surface,
but he paused not to examine them, and returned hastily into the bed-
room, as he surveyed which, he observed the door of the oriel, and
opened it. All within was still. On looking round, his eye was
arrested by the portrait of the deceased Marchioness, upon which he
gazed, for a considerable time, with great attention and some
surprise; and then, having examined the closet, he returned into the
bed-room, where he kindled a wood fire, the bright blaze of which
revived his spirits, which had begun to yield to the gloom and
silence of the place, for gusts of wind alone broke at intervals this
silence. He now drew a small table and a chair near the fire, took a
bottle of wine, and some cold provision out of his basket, and
regaled himself. When he had finished his repast, he laid his sword
upon the table, and, not feeling disposed to sleep, drew from his
pocket the book he had spoken of.--It was a volume of old Provencal
tales. Having stirred the fire upon the hearth, he began to read,
and his attention was soon wholly occupied by the scenes, which the
The Count, meanwhile, had returned to the supper-room, whither those
of the party, who had attended him to the north apartment, had
retreated, upon hearing Dorothee's scream, and who were now earnest
in their enquiries concerning those chambers. The Count rallied his
guests on their precipitate retreat, and on the superstitious
inclination which had occasioned it, and this led to the question,
Whether the spirit, after it has quitted the body, is ever permitted
to revisit the earth; and if it is, whether it was possible for
spirits to become visible to the sense. The Baron was of opinion,
that the first was probable, and the last was possible, and he
endeavoured to justify this opinion by respectable authorities, both
ancient and modern, which he quoted. The Count, however, was
decidedly against him, and a long conversation ensued, in which the
usual arguments on these subjects were on both sides brought forward
with skill, and discussed with candour, but without converting either
party to the opinion of his opponent. The effect of their
conversation on their auditors was various. Though the Count had
much the superiority of the Baron in point of argument, he had
considerably fewer adherents; for that love, so natural to the human
mind, of whatever is able to distend its faculties with wonder and
astonishment, attached the majority of the company to the side of the
Baron; and, though many of the Count's propositions were
unanswerable, his opponents were inclined to believe this the
consequence of their own want of knowledge, on so abstracted a
subject, rather than that arguments did not exist, which were
forcible enough to conquer his.
Blanche was pale with attention, till the ridicule in her father's
glance called a blush upon her countenance, and she then endeavoured
to forget the superstitious tales she had been told in her convent.
Meanwhile, Emily had been listening with deep attention to the
discussion of what was to her a very interesting question, and,
remembering the appearance she had witnessed in the apartment of the
late Marchioness, she was frequently chilled with awe. Several times
she was on the point of mentioning what she had seen, but the fear of
giving pain to the Count, and the dread of his ridicule, restrained
her; and, awaiting in anxious expectation the event of Ludovico's
intrepidity, she determined that her future silence should depend
When the party had separated for the night, and the Count retired to
his dressing-room, the remembrance of the desolate scenes he had
lately witnessed in his own mansion deeply affected him, but at
length he was aroused from his reverie and his silence. 'What music
is that I hear?'--said he suddenly to his valet, 'Who plays at this
The man made no reply, and the Count continued to listen, and then
added, 'That is no common musician; he touches the instrument with a
delicate hand; who is it, Pierre?'
'My lord!' said the man, hesitatingly.
'Who plays that instrument?' repeated the Count.
'Does not your lordship know, then?' said the valet.
'What mean you?' said the Count, somewhat sternly.
'Nothing, my Lord, I meant nothing,' rejoined the man submissively--
'Only--that music--goes about the house at midnight often, and I
thought your lordship might have heard it before.'
'Music goes about the house at midnight! Poor fellow!--does nobody
dance to the music, too?'
'It is not in the chateau, I believe, my Lord; the sounds come from
the woods, they say, though they seem so near;--but then a spirit can
do any thing!'
'Ah, poor fellow!' said the Count, 'I perceive you are as silly as
the rest of them; to-morrow, you will be convinced of your ridiculous
error. But hark!--what voice is that?'
'O my Lord! that is the voice we often hear with the music.'
'Often!' said the Count, 'How often, pray? It is a very fine one.'
'Why, my Lord, I myself have not heard it more than two or three
times, but there are those who have lived here longer, that have
heard it often enough.'
'What a swell was that!' exclaimed the Count, as he still listened,
'And now, what a dying cadence! This is surely something more than
'That is what they say, my Lord,' said the valet; 'they say it is
nothing mortal, that utters it; and if I might say my thoughts'--
'Peace!' said the Count, and he listened till the strain died away.
'This is strange!' said he, as he turned from the window, 'Close the
Pierre obeyed, and the Count soon after dismissed him, but did not so
soon lose the remembrance of the music, which long vibrated in his
fancy in tones of melting sweetness, while surprise and perplexity
engaged his thoughts.
Ludovico, meanwhile, in his remote chamber, heard, now and then, the
faint echo of a closing door, as the family retired to rest, and then
the hall clock, at a great distance, strike twelve. 'It is
midnight,' said he, and he looked suspiciously round the spacious
chamber. The fire on the hearth was now nearly expiring, for his
attention having been engaged by the book before him, he had
forgotten every thing besides; but he soon added fresh wood, not
because he was cold, though the night was stormy, but because he was
cheerless; and, having again trimmed his lamp, he poured out a glass
of wine, drew his chair nearer to the crackling blaze, tried to be
deaf to the wind, that howled mournfully at the casements,
endeavoured to abstract his mind from the melancholy, that was
stealing upon him, and again took up his book. It had been lent to
him by Dorothee, who had formerly picked it up in an obscure corner
of the Marquis's library, and who, having opened it and perceived
some of the marvels it related, had carefully preserved it for her
own entertainment, its condition giving her some excuse for detaining
it from its proper station. The damp corner into which it had
fallen, had caused the cover to be disfigured and mouldy, and the
leaves to be so discoloured with spots, that it was not without
difficulty the letters could be traced. The fictions of the
Provencal writers, whether drawn from the Arabian legends, brought by
the Saracens into Spain, or recounting the chivalric exploits
performed by the crusaders, whom the Troubadors accompanied to the
east, were generally splendid and always marvellous, both in scenery
and incident; and it is not wonderful, that Dorothee and Ludovico
should be fascinated by inventions, which had captivated the careless
imagination in every rank of society, in a former age. Some of the
tales, however, in the book now before Ludovico, were of simple
structure, and exhibited nothing of the magnificent machinery and
heroic manners, which usually characterized the fables of the twelfth
century, and of this description was the one he now happened to open,
which, in its original style, was of great length, but which may be
thus shortly related. The reader will perceive, that it is strongly
tinctured with the superstition of the times.
THE PROVENCAL TALE
'There lived, in the province of Bretagne, a noble Baron, famous for
his magnificence and courtly hospitalities. His castle was graced
with ladies of exquisite beauty, and thronged with illustrious
knights; for the honour he paid to feats of chivalry invited the
brave of distant countries to enter his lists, and his court was more
splendid than those of many princes. Eight minstrels were retained
in his service, who used to sing to their harps romantic fictions,
taken from the Arabians, or adventures of chivalry, that befel
knights during the crusades, or the martial deeds of the Baron, their
lord;--while he, surrounded by his knights and ladies, banqueted in
the great hall of his castle, where the costly tapestry, that adorned
the walls with pictured exploits of his ancestors, the casements of
painted glass, enriched with armorial bearings, the gorgeous banners,
that waved along the roof, the sumptuous canopies, the profusion of
gold and silver, that glittered on the sideboards, the numerous
dishes, that covered the tables, the number and gay liveries of the
attendants, with the chivalric and splendid attire of the guests,
united to form a scene of magnificence, such as we may not hope to
see in these DEGENERATE DAYS.
'Of the Baron, the following adventure is related. One night, having
retired late from the banquet to his chamber, and dismissed his
attendants, he was surprised by the appearance of a stranger of a
noble air, but of a sorrowful and dejected countenance. Believing,
that this person had been secreted in the apartment, since it
appeared impossible he could have lately passed the anti-room,
unobserved by the pages in waiting, who would have prevented this
intrusion on their lord, the Baron, calling loudly for his people,
drew his sword, which he had not yet taken from his side, and stood
upon his defence. The stranger slowly advancing, told him, that
there was nothing to fear; that he came with no hostile design, but
to communicate to him a terrible secret, which it was necessary for
him to know.
'The Baron, appeased by the courteous manners of the stranger, after
surveying him, for some time, in silence, returned his sword into the
scabbard, and desired him to explain the means, by which he had
obtained access to the chamber, and the purpose of this extraordinary
'Without answering either of these enquiries, the stranger said, that
he could not then explain himself, but that, if the Baron would
follow him to the edge of the forest, at a short distance from the
castle walls, he would there convince him, that he had something of
importance to disclose.
'This proposal again alarmed the Baron, who could scarcely believe,
that the stranger meant to draw him to so solitary a spot, at this
hour of the night, without harbouring a design against his life, and
he refused to go, observing, at the same time, that, if the
stranger's purpose was an honourable one, he would not persist in
refusing to reveal the occasion of his visit, in the apartment where
'While he spoke this, he viewed the stranger still more attentively
than before, but observed no change in his countenance, or any
symptom, that might intimate a consciousness of evil design. He was
habited like a knight, was of a tall and majestic stature, and of
dignified and courteous manners. Still, however, he refused to
communicate the subject of his errand in any place, but that he had
mentioned, and, at the same time, gave hints concerning the secret he
would disclose, that awakened a degree of solemn curiosity in the
Baron, which, at length, induced him to consent to follow the
stranger, on certain conditions.
'"Sir knight," said he, "I will attend you to the forest, and will
take with me only four of my people, who shall witness our
'To this, however, the Knight objected.
'"What I would disclose," said he, with solemnity, "is to you alone.
There are only three living persons, to whom the circumstance is
known; it is of more consequence to you and your house, than I shall
now explain. In future years, you will look back to this night with
satisfaction or repentance, accordingly as you now determine. As you
would hereafter prosper--follow me; I pledge you the honour of a
knight, that no evil shall befall you;--if you are contented to dare
futurity--remain in your chamber, and I will depart as I came."
'"Sir knight," replied the Baron, "how is it possible, that my future
peace can depend upon my present determination?"
'"That is not now to be told," said the stranger, "I have explained
myself to the utmost. It is late; if you follow me it must be
quickly;--you will do well to consider the alternative."
'The Baron mused, and, as he looked upon the knight, he perceived his
countenance assume a singular solemnity.'
[Here Ludovico thought he heard a noise, and he threw a glance round
the chamber, and then held up the lamp to assist his observation;
but, not perceiving any thing to confirm his alarm, he took up the
book again and pursued the story.]
'The Baron paced his apartment, for some time, in silence, impressed
by the last words of the stranger, whose extraordinary request he
feared to grant, and feared, also, to refuse. At length, he said,
"Sir knight, you are utterly unknown to me; tell me yourself,--is it
reasonable, that I should trust myself alone with a stranger, at this
hour, in a solitary forest? Tell me, at least, who you are, and who
assisted to secrete you in this chamber."
'The knight frowned at these latter words, and was a moment silent;
then, with a countenance somewhat stern, he said,
'"I am an English knight; I am called Sir Bevys of Lancaster,--and my
deeds are not unknown at the Holy City, whence I was returning to my
native land, when I was benighted in the neighbouring forest."
'"Your name is not unknown to fame," said the Baron, "I have heard of
it." (The Knight looked haughtily.) "But why, since my castle is
known to entertain all true knights, did not your herald announce
you? Why did you not appear at the banquet, where your presence
would have been welcomed, instead of hiding yourself in my castle,
and stealing to my chamber, at midnight?"
'The stranger frowned, and turned away in silence; but the Baron
repeated the questions.
'"I come not," said the Knight, "to answer enquiries, but to reveal
facts. If you would know more, follow me, and again I pledge the
honour of a Knight, that you shall return in safety.--Be quick in
your determination--I must be gone."
'After some further hesitation, the Baron determined to follow the
stranger, and to see the result of his extraordinary request; he,
therefore, again drew forth his sword, and, taking up a lamp, bade
the Knight lead on. The latter obeyed, and, opening the door of the
chamber, they passed into the anti-room, where the Baron, surprised
to find all his pages asleep, stopped, and, with hasty violence, was
going to reprimand them for their carelessness, when the Knight waved
his hand, and looked so expressively upon the Baron, that the latter
restrained his resentment, and passed on.
'The Knight, having descended a stair-case, opened a secret door,
which the Baron had believed was known only to himself, and,
proceeding through several narrow and winding passages, came, at
length, to a small gate, that opened beyond the walls of the castle.
Meanwhile, the Baron followed in silence and amazement, on perceiving
that these secret passages were so well known to a stranger, and felt
inclined to return from an adventure, that appeared to partake of
treachery, as well as danger. Then, considering that he was armed,
and observing the courteous and noble air of his conductor, his
courage returned, he blushed, that it had failed him for a moment,
and he resolved to trace the mystery to its source.
'He now found himself on the heathy platform, before the great gates
of his castle, where, on looking up, he perceived lights glimmering
in the different casements of the guests, who were retiring to sleep;
and, while he shivered in the blast, and looked on the dark and
desolate scene around him, he thought of the comforts of his warm
chamber, rendered cheerful by the blaze of wood, and felt, for a
moment, the full contrast of his present situation.'
[Here Ludovico paused a moment, and, looking at his own fire, gave it
a brightening stir.]
'The wind was strong, and the Baron watched his lamp with anxiety,
expecting every moment to see it extinguished; but, though the flame
wavered, it did not expire, and he still followed the stranger, who
often sighed as he went, but did not speak.
'When they reached the borders of the forest, the Knight turned, and
raised his head, as if he meant to address the Baron, but then,
closing his lips in silence, he walked on.
'As they entered, beneath the dark and spreading boughs, the Baron,
affected by the solemnity of the scene, hesitated whether to proceed,
and demanded how much further they were to go. The Knight replied
only by a gesture, and the Baron, with hesitating steps and a
suspicious eye, followed through an obscure and intricate path, till,
having proceeded a considerable way, he again demanded whither they
were going, and refused to proceed unless he was informed.
'As he said this, he looked at his own sword, and at the Knight
alternately, who shook his head, and whose dejected countenance
disarmed the Baron, for a moment, of suspicion.
'"A little further is the place, whither I would lead you," said the
stranger; "no evil shall befall you--I have sworn it on the honour of
'The Baron, re-assured, again followed in silence, and they soon
arrived at a deep recess of the forest, where the dark and lofty
chesnuts entirely excluded the sky, and which was so overgrown with
underwood, that they proceeded with difficulty. The Knight sighed
deeply as he passed, and sometimes paused; and having, at length,
reached a spot, where the trees crowded into a knot, he turned, and,
with a terrific look, pointing to the ground, the Baron saw there the
body of a man, stretched at its length, and weltering in blood; a
ghastly wound was on the forehead, and death appeared already to have
contracted the features.
'The Baron, on perceiving the spectacle, started in horror, looked at
the Knight for explanation, and was then going to raise the body and
examine if there were yet any remains of life; but the stranger,
waving his hand, fixed upon him a look so earnest and mournful, as
not only much surprised him, but made him desist.
'But, what were the Baron's emotions, when, on holding the lamp near
the features of the corpse, he discovered the exact resemblance of
the stranger his conductor, to whom he now looked up in astonishment
and enquiry? As he gazed, he perceived the countenance of the Knight
change, and begin to fade, till his whole form gradually vanished
from his astonished sense! While the Baron stood, fixed to the spot,
a voice was heard to utter these words:--'
[Ludovico started, and laid down the book, for he thought he heard a
voice in the chamber, and he looked toward the bed, where, however,
he saw only the dark curtains and the pall. He listened, scarcely
daring to draw his breath, but heard only the distant roaring of the
sea in the storm, and the blast, that rushed by the casements; when,
concluding, that he had been deceived by its sighings, he took up his
book to finish the story.]
'While the Baron stood, fixed to the spot, a voice was heard to utter
(* This repetition seems to be intentional. Ludovico is picking up
'The body of Sir Bevys of Lancaster, a noble knight of England, lies
before you. He was, this night, waylaid and murdered, as he
journeyed from the Holy City towards his native land. Respect the
honour of knighthood and the law of humanity; inter the body in
christian ground, and cause his murderers to be punished. As ye
observe, or neglect this, shall peace and happiness, or war and
misery, light upon you and your house for ever!'
'The Baron, when he recovered from the awe and astonishment, into
which this adventure had thrown him, returned to his castle, whither
he caused the body of Sir Bevys to be removed; and, on the following
day, it was interred, with the honours of knighthood, in the chapel
of the castle, attended by all the noble knights and ladies, who
graced the court of Baron de Brunne.'
Ludovico, having finished this story, laid aside the book, for he
felt drowsy, and, after putting more wood on the fire and taking
another glass of wine, he reposed himself in the arm-chair on the
hearth. In his dream he still beheld the chamber where he really
was, and, once or twice, started from imperfect slumbers, imagining
he saw a man's face, looking over the high back of his armchair.
This idea had so strongly impressed him, that, when he raised his
eyes, he almost expected to meet other eyes, fixed upon his own, and
he quitted his seat and looked behind the chair, before he felt
perfectly convinced, that no person was there.
Thus closed the hour.
Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber;
Thou hast no figures, nor no fantasies,
Which busy care draws in the brains of men;
Therefore thou sleep'st so sound.
The Count, who had slept little during the night, rose early, and,
anxious to speak with Ludovico, went to the north apartment; but, the
outer door having been fastened, on the preceding night, he was
obliged to knock loudly for admittance. Neither the knocking, or his
voice was heard; but, considering the distance of this door from the
bed-room, and that Ludovico, wearied with watching, had probably
fallen into a deep sleep, the Count was not surprised on receiving no
answer, and, leaving the door, he went down to walk in his grounds.
It was a gray autumnal morning. The sun, rising over Provence, gave
only a feeble light, as his rays struggled through the vapours that
ascended from the sea, and floated heavily over the wood-tops, which
were now varied with many a mellow tint of autumn. The storm was
passed, but the waves were yet violently agitated, and their course
was traced by long lines of foam, while not a breeze fluttered in the
sails of the vessels, near the shore, that were weighing anchor to
depart. The still gloom of the hour was pleasing to the Count, and
he pursued his way through the woods, sunk in deep thought.
Emily also rose at an early hour, and took her customary walk along
the brow of the promontory, that overhung the Mediterranean. Her
mind was now not occupied with the occurrences of the chateau, and
Valancourt was the subject of her mournful thoughts; whom she had not
yet taught herself to consider with indifference, though her judgment
constantly reproached her for the affection, that lingered in her
heart, after her esteem for him was departed. Remembrance frequently
gave her his parting look and the tones of his voice, when he had
bade her a last farewel; and, some accidental associations now
recalling these circumstances to her fancy, with peculiar energy, she
shed bitter tears to the recollection.
Having reached the watch-tower, she seated herself on the broken
steps, and, in melancholy dejection, watched the waves, half hid in
vapour, as they came rolling towards the shore, and threw up their
light spray round the rocks below. Their hollow murmur and the
obscuring mists, that came in wreaths up the cliffs, gave a solemnity
to the scene, which was in harmony with the temper of her mind, and
she sat, given up to the remembrance of past times, till this became
too painful, and she abruptly quitted the place. On passing the
little gate of the watch-tower, she observed letters, engraved on the
stone postern, which she paused to examine, and, though they appeared
to have been rudely cut with a pen-knife, the characters were
familiar to her; at length, recognizing the hand-writing of
Valancourt, she read, with trembling anxiety the following lines,
'Til solemn midnight! On this lonely steep,
Beneath this watch-tow'r's desolated wall,
Where mystic shapes the wonderer appall,
I rest; and view below the desert deep,
As through tempestuous clouds the moon's cold light
Gleams on the wave. Viewless, the winds of night
With loud mysterious force the billows sweep,
And sullen roar the surges, far below.
In the still pauses of the gust I hear
The voice of spirits, rising sweet and slow,
And oft among the clouds their forms appear.
But hark! what shriek of death comes in the gale,
And in the distant ray what glimmering sail
Bends to the storm?--Now sinks the note of fear!
Ah! wretched mariners!--no more shall day
Unclose his cheering eye to light ye on your way!
From these lines it appeared, that Valancourt had visited the tower;
that he had probably been here on the preceding night, for it was
such an one as they described, and that he had left the building very
lately, since it had not long been light, and without light it was
impossible these letters could have been cut. It was thus even
probable, that he might be yet in the gardens.
As these reflections passed rapidly over the mind of Emily, they
called up a variety of contending emotions, that almost overcame her
spirits; but her first impulse was to avoid him, and, immediately
leaving the tower, she returned, with hasty steps, towards the
chateau. As she passed along, she remembered the music she had
lately heard near the tower, with the figure, which had appeared,
and, in this moment of agitation, she was inclined to believe, that
she had then heard and seen Valancourt; but other recollections soon
convinced her of her error. On turning into a thicker part of the
woods, she perceived a person, walking slowly in the gloom at some
little distance, and, her mind engaged by the idea of him, she
started and paused, imagining this to be Valancourt. The person
advanced with quicker steps, and, before she could recover
recollection enough to avoid him, he spoke, and she then knew the
voice of the Count, who expressed some surprise, on finding her
walking at so early an hour, and made a feeble effort to rally her on
her love of solitude. But he soon perceived this to be more a
subject of concern than of light laughter, and, changing his manner,
affectionately expostulated with Emily, on thus indulging unavailing
regret; who, though she acknowledged the justness of all he said,
could not restrain her tears, while she did so, and he presently
quitted the topic. Expressing surprise at not having yet heard from
his friend, the Advocate at Avignon, in answer to the questions
proposed to him, respecting the estates of the late Madame Montoni,
he, with friendly zeal, endeavoured to cheer Emily with hopes of
establishing her claim to them; while she felt, that the estates
could now contribute little to the happiness of a life, in which
Valancourt had no longer an interest.
When they returned to the chateau, Emily retired to her apartment,
and Count De Villefort to the door of the north chambers. This was
still fastened, but, being now determined to arouse Ludovico, he
renewed his calls more loudly than before, after which a total
silence ensued, and the Count, finding all his efforts to be heard
ineffectual, at length began to fear, that some accident had befallen
Ludovico, whom terror of an imaginary being might have deprived of
his senses. He, therefore, left the door with an intention of
summoning his servants to force it open, some of whom he now heard
moving in the lower part of the chateau.
To the Count's enquiries, whether they had seen or heard Ludovico,
they replied in affright, that not one of them had ventured on the
north side of the chateau, since the preceding night.
'He sleeps soundly then,' said the Count, 'and is at such a distance
from the outer door, which is fastened, that to gain admittance to
the chambers it will be necessary to force it. Bring an instrument,
and follow me.'
The servants stood mute and dejected, and it was not till nearly all
the household were assembled, that the Count's orders were obeyed.
In the mean time, Dorothee was telling of a door, that opened from a
gallery, leading from the great stair-case into the last anti-room of
the saloon, and, this being much nearer to the bed-chamber, it
appeared probable, that Ludovico might be easily awakened by an
attempt to open it. Thither, therefore, the Count went, but his
voice was as ineffectual at this door as it had proved at the remoter
one; and now, seriously interested for Ludovico, he was himself going
to strike upon the door with the instrument, when he observed its
singular beauty, and with-held the blow. It appeared, on the first
glance, to be of ebony, so dark and close was its grain and so high
its polish; but it proved to be only of larch wood, of the growth of
Provence, then famous for its forests of larch. The beauty of its
polished hue and of its delicate carvings determined the Count to
spare this door, and he returned to that leading from the back stair-
case, which being, at length, forced, he entered the first anti-room,
followed by Henri and a few of the most courageous of his servants,
the rest awaiting the event of the enquiry on the stairs and landing-
All was silent in the chambers, through which the Count passed, and,
having reached the saloon, he called loudly upon Ludovico; after
which, still receiving no answer, he threw open the door of the bed-
room, and entered.
The profound stillness within confirmed his apprehensions for
Ludovico, for not even the breathings of a person in sleep were
heard; and his uncertainty was not soon terminated, since the
shutters being all closed, the chamber was too dark for any object to
be distinguished in it.
The Count bade a servant open them, who, as he crossed the room to do
so, stumbled over something, and fell to the floor, when his cry
occasioned such panic among the few of his fellows, who had ventured
thus far, that they instantly fled, and the Count and Henri were left
to finish the adventure.
Henri then sprung across the room, and, opening a window-shutter,
they perceived, that the man had fallen over a chair near the hearth,
in which Ludovico had been sitting;--for he sat there no longer, nor
could any where be seen by the imperfect light, that was admitted
into the apartment. The Count, seriously alarmed, now opened other
shutters, that he might be enabled to examine further, and, Ludovico
not yet appearing, he stood for a moment, suspended in astonishment
and scarcely trusting his senses, till, his eyes glancing on the bed,
he advanced to examine whether he was there asleep. No person,
however, was in it, and he proceeded to the oriel, where every thing
remained as on the preceding night, but Ludovico was no where to be
The Count now checked his amazement, considering, that Ludovico might
have left the chambers, during the night, overcome by the terrors,
which their lonely desolation and the recollected reports, concerning
them, had inspired. Yet, if this had been the fact, the man would
naturally have sought society, and his fellow servants had all
declared they had not seen him; the door of the outer room also had
been found fastened, with the key on the inside; it was impossible,
therefore, for him to have passed through that, and all the outer
doors of this suite were found, on examination, to be bolted and
locked, with the keys also within them. The Count, being then
compelled to believe, that the lad had escaped through the casements,
next examined them, but such as opened wide enough to admit the body
of a man were found to be carefully secured either by iron bars, or
by shutters, and no vestige appeared of any person having attempted
to pass them; neither was it probable, that Ludovico would have
incurred the risque of breaking his neck, by leaping from a window,
when he might have walked safely through a door.
The Count's amazement did not admit of words; but he returned once
more to examine the bed-room, where was no appearance of disorder,
except that occasioned by the late overthrow of the chair, near which
had stood a small table, and on this Ludovico's sword, his lamp, the
book he had been reading, and the remnant of his flask of wine still
remained. At the foot of the table, too, was the basket with some
fragments of provision and wood.
Henri and the servant now uttered their astonishment without reserve,
and, though the Count said little, there was a seriousness in his
manner, that expressed much. It appeared, that Ludovico must have
quitted these rooms by some concealed passage, for the Count could
not believe, that any supernatural means had occasioned this event,
yet, if there was any such passage, it seemed inexplicable why he
should retreat through it, and it was equally surprising, that not
even the smallest vestige should appear, by which his progress could
be traced. In the rooms every thing remained as much in order as if
he had just walked out by the common way.
The Count himself assisted in lifting the arras, with which the bed-
chamber, saloon and one of the anti-rooms were hung, that he might
discover if any door had been concealed behind it; but, after a
laborious search, none was found, and he, at length, quitted the
apartments, having secured the door of the last anti-chamber, the key
of which he took into his own possession. He then gave orders, that
strict search should be made for Ludovico not only in the chateau,
but in the neighbourhood, and, retiring with Henri to his closet,
they remained there in conversation for a considerable time, and
whatever was the subject of it, Henri from this hour lost much of his
vivacity, and his manners were particularly grave and reserved,
whenever the topic, which now agitated the Count's family with wonder
and alarm, was introduced.
On the disappearing of Ludovico, Baron St. Foix seemed strengthened
in all his former opinions concerning the probability of apparitions,
though it was difficult to discover what connection there could
possibly be between the two subjects, or to account for this effect
otherwise than by supposing, that the mystery attending Ludovico, by
exciting awe and curiosity, reduced the mind to a state of
sensibility, which rendered it more liable to the influence of
superstition in general. It is, however, certain, that from this
period the Baron and his adherents became more bigoted to their own
systems than before, while the terrors of the Count's servants
increased to an excess, that occasioned many of them to quit the
mansion immediately, and the rest remained only till others could be
procured to supply their places.
The most strenuous search after Ludovico proved unsuccessful, and,
after several days of indefatigable enquiry, poor Annette gave
herself up to despair, and the other inhabitants of the chateau to
Emily, whose mind had been deeply affected by the disastrous fate of
the late Marchioness and with the mysterious connection, which she
fancied had existed between her and St. Aubert, was particularly
impressed by the late extraordinary event, and much concerned for the
loss of Ludovico, whose integrity and faithful services claimed both
her esteem and gratitude. She was now very desirous to return to the
quiet retirement of her convent, but every hint of this was received
with real sorrow by the Lady Blanche, and affectionately set aside by
the Count, for whom she felt much of the respectful love and
admiration of a daughter, and to whom, by Dorothee's consent, she, at
length, mentioned the appearance, which they had witnessed in the
chamber of the deceased Marchioness. At any other period, he would
have smiled at such a relation, and have believed, that its object
had existed only in the distempered fancy of the relater; but he now
attended to Emily with seriousness, and, when she concluded,
requested of her a promise, that this occurrence should rest in
silence. 'Whatever may be the cause and the import of these
extraordinary occurrences,' added the Count, 'time only can explain
them. I shall keep a wary eye upon all that passes in the chateau,
and shall pursue every possible means of discovering the fate of
Ludovico. Meanwhile, we must be prudent and be silent. I will
myself watch in the north chambers, but of this we will say nothing,
till the night arrives, when I purpose doing so.'
The Count then sent for Dorothee, and required of her also a promise
of silence, concerning what she had already, or might in future
witness of an extraordinary nature; and this ancient servant now
related to him the particulars of the Marchioness de Villeroi's
death, with some of which he appeared to be already acquainted, while
by others he was evidently surprised and agitated. After listening
to this narrative, the Count retired to his closet, where he remained
alone for several hours; and, when he again appeared, the solemnity
of his manner surprised and alarmed Emily, but she gave no utterance
to her thoughts.
On the week following the disappearance of Ludovico, all the Count's
guests took leave of him, except the Baron, his son Mons. St. Foix,
and Emily; the latter of whom was soon after embarrassed and
distressed by the arrival of another visitor, Mons. Du Pont, which
made her determine upon withdrawing to her convent immediately. The
delight, that appeared in his countenance, when he met her, told that
he brought back the same ardour of passion, which had formerly
banished him from Chateau-le-Blanc. He was received with reserve by
Emily, and with pleasure by the Count, who presented him to her with
a smile, that seemed intended to plead his cause, and who did not
hope the less for his friend, from the embarrassment she betrayed.
But M. Du Pont, with truer sympathy, seemed to understand her manner,
and his countenance quickly lost its vivacity, and sunk into the
languor of despondency.
On the following day, however, he sought an opportunity of declaring
the purport of his visit, and renewed his suit; a declaration, which
was received with real concern by Emily, who endeavoured to lessen
the pain she might inflict by a second rejection, with assurances of
esteem and friendship; yet she left him in a state of mind, that
claimed and excited her tenderest compassion; and, being more
sensible than ever of the impropriety of remaining longer at the
chateau, she immediately sought the Count, and communicated to him
her intention of returning to the convent.
'My dear Emily,' said he 'I observe, with extreme concern, the
illusion you are encouraging--an illusion common to young and
sensible minds. Your heart has received a severe shock; you believe
you can never entirely recover it, and you will encourage this
belief, till the habit of indulging sorrow will subdue the strength
of your mind, and discolour your future views with melancholy and
regret. Let me dissipate this illusion, and awaken you to a sense of
Emily smiled mournfully, 'I know what you would say, my dear sir,'
said she, 'and am prepared to answer you. I feel, that my heart can
never know a second affection; and that I must never hope even to
recover its tranquillity--if I suffer myself to enter into a second
'I know, that you feel all this,' replied the Count; 'and I know,
also, that time will overcome these feelings, unless you cherish them
in solitude, and, pardon me, with romantic tenderness. Then, indeed,
time will only confirm habit. I am particularly empowered to speak
on this subject, and to sympathize in your sufferings,' added the
Count, with an air of solemnity, 'for I have known what it is to
love, and to lament the object of my love. Yes,' continued he, while
his eyes filled with tears, 'I have suffered!--but those times have
passed away--long passed! and I can now look back upon them without
'My dear sir,' said Emily, timidly, 'what mean those tears?--they
speak, I fear, another language--they plead for me.'
'They are weak tears, for they are useless ones,' replied the Count,
drying them, 'I would have you superior to such weakness. These,
however, are only faint traces of a grief, which, if it had not been
opposed by long continued effort, might have led me to the verge of
madness! Judge, then, whether I have not cause to warn you of an
indulgence, which may produce so terrible an effect, and which must
certainly, if not opposed, overcloud the years, that otherwise might
be happy. M. Du Pont is a sensible and amiable man, who has long
been tenderly attached to you; his family and fortune are
unexceptionable;--after what I have said, it is unnecessary to add,
that I should rejoice in your felicity, and that I think M. Du Pont
would promote it. Do not weep, Emily,' continued the Count, taking
her hand, 'there IS happiness reserved for you.'
He was silent a moment; and then added, in a firmer voice, 'I do not
wish, that you should make a violent effort to overcome your
feelings; all I, at present, ask, is, that you will check the
thoughts, that would lead you to a remembrance of the past; that you
will suffer your mind to be engaged by present objects; that you will
allow yourself to believe it possible you may yet be happy; and that
you will sometimes think with complacency of poor Du Pont, and not
condemn him to the state of despondency, from which, my dear Emily, I
am endeavouring to withdraw you.'
'Ah! my dear sir,' said Emily, while her tears still fell, 'do not
suffer the benevolence of your wishes to mislead Mons. Du Pont with
an expectation that I can ever accept his hand. If I understand my
own heart, this never can be; your instruction I can obey in almost
every other particular, than that of adopting a contrary belief.'
'Leave me to understand your heart,' replied the Count, with a faint
smile. 'If you pay me the compliment to be guided by my advice in
other instances, I will pardon your incredulity, respecting your
future conduct towards Mons. Du Pont. I will not even press you to
remain longer at the chateau than your own satisfaction will permit;
but though I forbear to oppose your present retirement, I shall urge
the claims of friendship for your future visits.'
Tears of gratitude mingled with those of tender regret, while Emily
thanked the Count for the many instances of friendship she had
received from him; promised to be directed by his advice upon every
subject but one, and assured him of the pleasure, with which she
should, at some future period, accept the invitation of the Countess
and himself--If Mons. Du Pont was not at the chateau.
The Count smiled at this condition. 'Be it so,' said he, 'meanwhile
the convent is so near the chateau, that my daughter and I shall
often visit you; and if, sometimes, we should dare to bring you
another visitor--will you forgive us?'
Emily looked distressed, and remained silent.
'Well,' rejoined the Count, 'I will pursue this subject no further,
and must now entreat your forgiveness for having pressed it thus far.
You will, however, do me the justice to believe, that I have been
urged only by a sincere regard for your happiness, and that of my
amiable friend Mons. Du Pont.'
Emily, when she left the Count, went to mention her intended
departure to the Countess, who opposed it with polite expressions of
regret; after which, she sent a note to acquaint the lady abbess,
that she should return to the convent; and thither she withdrew on
the evening of the following day. M. Du Pont, in extreme regret, saw
her depart, while the Count endeavoured to cheer him with a hope,
that Emily would sometimes regard him with a more favourable eye.
She was pleased to find herself once more in the tranquil retirement
of the convent, where she experienced a renewal of all the maternal
kindness of the abbess, and of the sisterly attentions of the nuns.
A report of the late extraordinary occurrence at the chateau had
already reached them, and, after supper, on the evening of her
arrival, it was the subject of conversation in the convent parlour,
where she was requested to mention some particulars of that
unaccountable event. Emily was guarded in her conversation on this
subject, and briefly related a few circumstances concerning Ludovico,
whose disappearance, her auditors almost unanimously agreed, had been
effected by supernatural means.
'A belief had so long prevailed,' said a nun, who was called sister
Frances, 'that the chateau was haunted, that I was surprised, when I
heard the Count had the temerity to inhabit it. Its former
possessor, I fear, had some deed of conscience to atone for; let us
hope, that the virtues of its present owner will preserve him from
the punishment due to the errors of the last, if, indeed, he was a
'Of what crime, then, was he suspected?' said a Mademoiselle Feydeau,
a boarder at the convent.
'Let us pray for his soul!' said a nun, who had till now sat in
silent attention. 'If he was criminal, his punishment in this world
There was a mixture of wildness and solemnity in her manner of
delivering this, which struck Emily exceedingly; but Mademoiselle
repeated her question, without noticing the solemn eagerness of the
'I dare not presume to say what was his crime,' replied sister
Frances; 'but I have heard many reports of an extraordinary nature,
respecting the late Marquis de Villeroi, and among others, that, soon
after the death of his lady, he quitted Chateau-le-Blanc, and never
afterwards returned to it. I was not here at the time, so I can only
mention it from report, and so many years have passed since the
Marchioness died, that few of our sisterhood, I believe, can do
'But I can,' said the nun, who had before spoke, and whom they called
'You then,' said Mademoiselle Feydeau, 'are possibly acquainted with
circumstances, that enable you to judge, whether he was criminal or
not, and what was the crime imputed to him.'
'I am,' replied the nun; 'but who shall dare to scrutinize my
thoughts--who shall dare to pluck out my opinion? God only is his
judge, and to that judge he is gone!'
Emily looked with surprise at sister Frances, who returned her a
'I only requested your opinion,' said Mademoiselle Feydeau, mildly;
'if the subject is displeasing to you, I will drop it.'
'Displeasing!'--said the nun, with emphasis.--'We are idle talkers;
we do not weigh the meaning of the words we use; DISPLEASING is a
poor word. I will go pray.' As she said this she rose from her
seat, and with a profound sigh quitted the room.
'What can be the meaning of this?' said Emily, when she was gone.
'It is nothing extraordinary,' replied sister Frances, 'she is often
thus; but she had no meaning in what she says. Her intellects are at
times deranged. Did you never see her thus before?'
'Never,' said Emily. 'I have, indeed, sometimes, thought, that there
was the melancholy of madness in her look, but never before perceived
it in her speech. Poor soul, I will pray for her!'
'Your prayers then, my daughter, will unite with ours,' observed the
lady abbess, 'she has need of them.'
'Dear lady,' said Mademoiselle Feydeau, addressing the abbess, 'what
is your opinion of the late Marquis? The strange circumstances, that
have occurred at the chateau, have so much awakened my curiosity,
that I shall be pardoned the question. What was his imputed crime,
and what the punishment, to which sister Agnes alluded?'
'We must be cautious of advancing our opinion,' said the abbess, with
an air of reserve, mingled with solemnity, 'we must be cautious of
advancing our opinion on so delicate a subject. I will not take upon
me to pronounce, that the late Marquis was criminal, or to say what
was the crime of which he was suspected; but, concerning the
punishment our daughter Agnes hinted, I know of none he suffered.
She probably alluded to the severe one, which an exasperated
conscience can inflict. Beware, my children, of incurring so
terrible a punishment--it is the purgatory of this life! The late
Marchioness I knew well; she was a pattern to such as live in the
world; nay, our sacred order need not have blushed to copy her
virtues! Our holy convent received her mortal part; her heavenly
spirit, I doubt not, ascended to its sanctuary!'
As the abbess spoke this, the last bell of vespers struck up, and she
rose. 'Let us go, my children,' said she, 'and intercede for the
wretched; let us go and confess our sins, and endeavour to purify our
souls for the heaven, to which SHE is gone!'
Emily was affected by the solemnity of this exhortation, and,
remembering her father, 'The heaven, to which HE, too, is gone!' said
she, faintly, as she suppressed her sighs, and followed the abbess
and the nuns to the chapel.
Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damn'd,
Bring with thee airs from heaven, or blasts from hell,
Be thy intents wicked, or charitable,
I will speak to thee.
Count de Villefort, at length, received a letter from the advocate at
Avignon, encouraging Emily to assert her claim to the estates of the
late Madame Montoni; and, about the same time, a messenger arrived
from Monsieur Quesnel with intelligence, that made an appeal to the
law on this subject unnecessary, since it appeared, that the only
person, who could have opposed her claim, was now no more. A friend
of Monsieur Quesnel, who resided at Venice, had sent him an account
of the death of Montoni who had been brought to trial with Orsino, as
his supposed accomplice in the murder of the Venetian nobleman.
Orsino was found guilty, condemned and executed upon the wheel, but,
nothing being discovered to criminate Montoni, and his colleagues, on
this charge, they were all released, except Montoni, who, being
considered by the senate as a very dangerous person, was, for other
reasons, ordered again into confinement, where, it was said, he had
died in a doubtful and mysterious manner, and not without suspicion
of having been poisoned. The authority, from which M. Quesnel had
received this information, would not allow him to doubt its truth,
and he told Emily, that she had now only to lay claim to the estates
of her late aunt, to secure them, and added, that he would himself
assist in the necessary forms of this business. The term, for which
La Vallee had been let being now also nearly expired, he acquainted
her with the circumstance, and advised her to take the road thither,
through Tholouse, where he promised to meet her, and where it would
be proper for her to take possession of the estates of the late
Madame Montoni; adding, that he would spare her any difficulties,
that might occur on that occasion from the want of knowledge on the
subject, and that he believed it would be necessary for her to be at
Tholouse, in about three weeks from the present time.
An increase of fortune seemed to have awakened this sudden kindness
in M. Quesnel towards his niece, and it appeared, that he entertained
more respect for the rich heiress, than he had ever felt compassion
for the poor and unfriended orphan.
The pleasure, with which she received this intelligence, was clouded
when she considered, that he, for whose sake she had once regretted
the want of fortune, was no longer worthy of sharing it with her;
but, remembering the friendly admonition of the Count, she checked
this melancholy reflection, and endeavoured to feel only gratitude
for the unexpected good, that now attended her; while it formed no
inconsiderable part of her satisfaction to know, that La Vallee, her
native home, which was endeared to her by it's having been the
residence of her parents, would soon be restored to her possession.
There she meant to fix her future residence, for, though it could not
be compared with the chateau at Tholouse, either for extent, or
magnificence, its pleasant scenes and the tender remembrances, that
haunted them, had claims upon her heart, which she was not inclined
to sacrifice to ostentation. She wrote immediately to thank M.
Quesnel for the active interest he took in her concerns, and to say,
that she would meet him at Tholouse at the appointed time.
When Count de Villefort, with Blanche, came to the convent to give
Emily the advice of the advocate, he was informed of the contents of
M. Quesnel's letter, and gave her his sincere congratulations, on the
occasion; but she observed, that, when the first expression of
satisfaction had faded from his countenance, an unusual gravity
succeeded, and she scarcely hesitated to enquire its cause.
'It has no new occasion,' replied the Count; 'I am harassed and
perplexed by the confusion, into which my family is thrown by their
foolish superstition. Idle reports are floating round me, which I
can neither admit to be true, or prove to be false; and I am, also,
very anxious about the poor fellow, Ludovico, concerning whom I have
not been able to obtain information. Every part of the chateau and
every part of the neighbourhood, too, has, I believe, been searched,
and I know not what further can be done, since I have already offered
large rewards for the discovery of him. The keys of the north
apartment I have not suffered to be out of my possession, since he
disappeared, and I mean to watch in those chambers, myself, this very
Emily, seriously alarmed for the Count, united her entreaties with
those of the Lady Blanche, to dissuade him from his purpose.
'What should I fear?' said he. 'I have no faith in supernatural
combats, and for human opposition I shall be prepared; nay, I will
even promise not to watch alone.'
'But who, dear sir, will have courage enough to watch with you?' said
'My son,' replied the Count. 'If I am not carried off in the night,'
added he, smiling, 'you shall hear the result of my adventure,
The Count and Lady Blanche, shortly afterwards, took leave of Emily,
and returned to the chateau, where he informed Henri of his
intention, who, not without some secret reluctance, consented to be
the partner of his watch; and, when the design was mentioned after
supper, the Countess was terrified, and the Baron, and M. Du Pont
joined with her in entreating, that he would not tempt his fate, as
Ludovico had done. 'We know not,' added the Baron, 'the nature, or
the power of an evil spirit; and that such a spirit haunts those
chambers can now, I think, scarcely be doubted. Beware, my lord, how
you provoke its vengeance, since it has already given us one terrible
example of its malice. I allow it may be probable, that the spirits
of the dead are permitted to return to the earth only on occasions of
high import; but the present import may be your destruction.'
The Count could not forbear smiling; 'Do you think then, Baron,' said
he, 'that my destruction is of sufficient importance to draw back to
earth the soul of the departed? Alas! my good friend, there is no
occasion for such means to accomplish the destruction of any
individual. Wherever the mystery rests, I trust I shall, this night,
be able to detect it. You know I am not superstitious.'
'I know that you are incredulous,' interrupted the Baron.
'Well, call it what you will, I mean to say, that, though you know I
am free from superstition--if any thing supernatural has appeared, I
doubt not it will appear to me, and if any strange event hangs over
my house, or if any extraordinary transaction has formerly been
connected with it, I shall probably be made acquainted with it. At
all events I will invite discovery; and, that I may be equal to a
mortal attack, which in good truth, my friend, is what I most expect,
I shall take care to be well armed.'
The Count took leave of his family, for the night, with an assumed
gaiety, which but ill concealed the anxiety, that depressed his
spirits, and retired to the north apartments, accompanied by his son
and followed by the Baron, M. Du Pont and some of the domestics, who
all bade him good night at the outer door. In these chambers every
thing appeared as when he had last been here; even in the bed-room no
alteration was visible, where he lighted his own fire, for none of
the domestics could be prevailed upon to venture thither. After
carefully examining the chamber and the oriel, the Count and Henri
drew their chairs upon the hearth, set a bottle of wine and a lamp
before them, laid their swords upon the table, and, stirring the wood
into a blaze, began to converse on indifferent topics. But Henri was
often silent and abstracted, and sometimes threw a glance of mingled
awe and curiosity round the gloomy apartment; while the Count
gradually ceased to converse, and sat either lost in thought, or
reading a volume of Tacitus, which he had brought to beguile the
tediousness of the night.
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